"Everything's willy-nilly," my Darling Wife exclaimed as she ran in circles around her room, opening drawers, closing drawers, whisking fabric off the shelves, flipping through the stacks of stash, replacing the fabric, running back and forth across the room, using the step stool to reach the higher shelves, bending down to the floor and emptying boxes, the whole time murmuring, "Willy-nilly."
I stood in the doorway where I had come after hearing the whirring sound she made as she ran around. At times she was a blur. At other times she was totally frozen in space, only her eyes betraying her mood as they flashed bewilderment and puzzlement. "What are you looking for?" I asked. I had seen her in this state before, many times over her sewing career, more and more as her drawers and closets and shelves put fabric stores to shame in the amount they held. Now she was out of control again as looked for something she had misplaced, forgotten, or lost in the chaos of her sewing room.
"I can't find the wine," she said.
"You lost the wine?" I asked. At first I thought she was talking about losing the bottle of wine our neice had recently given us, but I had just seen it sitting on the counter in the kitchen.
"No, I didn't lose the wine. It's in the kitchen," she said as she opened a drawer. "I lost the wine-colored fabric we bought for the quilt binding."
"The fabric YOU bought three months ago and put in a safe place so you could get to it easily?"
"Yes,' she said as she caught her breath and was poised, tense and ready to begin another search.
"I can't believe you lost the fabric," I said.
"I can't find it," she said. "Everything in here is willy-nilly."
"Does that mean you don't know where your stash is?" Of course, she did. It was everywhere.
"I'm only looking for the three yards of wine."
"But you can't find it because of Willie?"
"Willy-nilly," she corrected me. "Everything was in order, but it's all become a mess. I need to organize everything again."
"Didn't you organize everything when we came back from our trip?"
"That was yesterday."
"And now everything's messed up already. In one day?"
"I've been busy quilting. Things get misarranged."
"Misarranged?" Is there a word like that?
"This room's like that."
"Do you want me to help you look?"
"I've already looked everywhere."
"But you haven't found it yet?"
"So it must be where you haven't looked yet."
"Or it's somewhere I looked and didn't see it."
"Because everything's so Willie Nelson?"
"Do you want to help or not?"
"I'll help," I said. But before I had a chance to go through twenty-eight drawers, twelve shelves, a dozen or so boxes, and a closet, she let out a yelp.
"I remember where it is," she said.
"It's where I keep the Amish stash," she said.
"You have a place for Amish stash?"
"Of course. I'm not that disorganized."
"Where is it then?" I thought of her stashing the stash in some horse and buggy, but we didn't have a horse and buggy.
"It's in the Amish section," she said.
"The Amish section?" I looked around the room.
"When I bought it I decided to put the fabrics together by the type of quilt I might make someday. And I made an Amish section for solid colors in the back of the closet."
"Didn't you just look in the closet?"
"Yes, but I didn't look in the Amish section."
"How many sections are there?" I was thinking of her book which had photos of 501 quilt blocks.
"Just an Amish. I didn't have time to do any others."
"So everything is organized in some other way?"
"Well, first I thought I'd do it by colors, but I didn't think that would work, so I started to do it by project. Then I thought I'd organize by the manufacturer of the fabric, like Hoffman or Benartex or Moda. Then I thought about going by how recently I bought it. After that I thought it might be better to organize by the people who might get the finished quilt. Then I just knew it would be better to go by type of project, such as Amish quilt or wall hanging or paper piecing. But I didn't do any of that either."
"So how did you finally organize?"
"Willy-nilly," she said.
"And that works."
"I remember where the wine is," she said.
"I think I need wine for my head," I said, but she didn't hear me. She was already rummaging in the back of the closet, probably in the Amish section.
Copyright A.B. Silver 1998
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