As we drove in the driveway in front of our house, she became more and more eager to be inside.
"I'm eager to be inside," she said.
"I never would have guessed," I said.
"Don't get smart. You know what's happening, don't you?"
"I know you've been away from your quilt projects for three days."
"It's not me," she said.
"It's not?" I suggested and asked at the same time. During the time we were away, we had visited the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, California. That visit had kept her calm, happy, cool, in command. But as we drove the 260 miles home, the car full of new fabric, new projects, paper-piecing kits, appliqué kits, and new notions for quilting, she ached to be home, to get back to her quilting.
"It's the projects," she said. As the car rolled to a stop, her hand was already moving toward the release of her seat belt.
"The car's still moving," I said. I stopped the car and moved to pull up the emergency brake and turn off the ignition.
"They need me," she said.
"Your projects need you?" I asked. She already had her door open.
"Can't you hear them?"
"Hear what?" I asked. I knew immediately she heard something. She had a strange grip on reality when it came to her quilting.
"All the yipping and yapping," she said. "They know I'm home and they all want my attention."
"We don't have dogs," I said, though the neighborhood had dogs, but they mostly growled and barked.
"Not the dogs," she said as she left the car.
"What about the packages, the luggage, all your quilting stuff?" I said as she began to pick up speed and run up the pathway to the house. As for the "stuff" she bought, what else would I call it? How else do I explain all the quilting paraphernalia tucked away in too many packages?
"You bring them in," she said.
I brought in the luggage and the packages and the ice chest and the trash bag and cleaned out the car. During the whole time I struggled and carried and lifted and packed and toted, she was busy running around the house.
"Are you all right?" I asked on one of our chance encounters in the hallway.
"They're all yelling to be first," she said cryptically.
"Is that some code?" I asked her. I didn't really have to know her codes. Quilters talk in mysterious ways, and I long ago just assumed that anything she said that I didn't understand had to do with quilting.
But she was gone in some flash toward her cutting room. Minutes later, when she buzzed by me again, I tackled her. "Yelling what?" I asked. "I thought they were yipping and yapping." I held her tight so she wouldn't escape.
"Are you deaf?" she said. It's true I have lost some of my hearing of high pitched sounds, so yipping sounds might be beyond my hearing threshold, but I thought I should still be able to hear yapping.
I strained to hear. "Nothing," I said. She was squirming to get free of my husbandly hold.
"You're not a quilter," she said. "Quilters hear those sounds."
"I'm the Darling Spouse of a quilter," I said. "I should be able to hear a few squeaks and squeals."
"They're yipping and yapping all over the house," she said as she finally pushed me back and broke away. "They need my attention," she said.
"Fabrics, don't yip," I said. Quilts don't yap," I said. "Projects don't make any sound humans can hear," I said, but she was long gone.
I unpacked and put everything away and sighed. I left her packages, her bundles, her bags, her boxes all in the hall. She would get to them before I ever saw her again, I knew.
But I was wrong. She was back in a moment. She had a strange look on her face. "What?" I asked. "Did they stop their yipping and yapping now that you're back?"
"They're louder than ever," she said.
"You couldn't calm them down?" I asked. Why was I in this conversation?
"It's not me," she said, her face now a Halloween pumpkin. "They're arguing over who gets to go first."
"Who goes first?" I was in an Abbott and Costello routine.
"I have all these projects waiting and now each one wants to go first. I can't decide which one to do first, and they all want to be first. I need your help."
"My help? What can I do?"
"You decide which one I should do first."
"How many are there?"
"Ten, twenty, dozens and dozens. I don't know."
"Which one are you in the mood to do?"
"All of them. I want to do every single one."
"But which one do you really want to do first?"
"I don't know. Maybe the Cheyenne Star, maybe the baby quilt, maybe the unicorn applique, maybe the Drunkard's Path, Maybe the table runner, maybe the pot holder. I just don't know."
"How about a lottery?" I asked. "Pick straws? Cut the cards? Roll the dice? Spin the bottle."
"A lottery might work," she said.
So we had a lottery. She put the names of all her projects into a bucket (there were a lot of names and it was a big bucket), and I blindfolded her, spun her around three times, recited a quilter's prayer, and led her hand to the bucket. She pulled out a slip of paper.
I took the paper and read it. "Well?" she asked as she removed her blindfold.
"Well, it says here...." I began.
"Tell me," she said firmly. Very firmly.
"Stained glass window," I said. "The wall hanging with the hummingbird. Now go tell the other projects," I said. "I don't want any more yipping or yapping."
"Yipping? Yapping? What are you talking about?" she asked. And the house was suddenly quiet.
"Nothing. Nothing at all," I answered. And that is how she chose her new quilt project.
Click here to see Hummingbird Quilt
Copyright 1998 by A.B. Silver
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