Honey, I Downsized the Quilt




When a person reaches an age when he, in my case, is old enough to make demands, grouchy enough to want his demands met, curmudgeon enough to persist in his greed for the perfect birthday present, then he tells his quilting wife.

"I'm making you a large quilt which you can put on the bed and be warm all winter," she told me as we discussed our upcoming birthdays, mine in November, hers in December. The fact that we already had enough quilts to change every month was no detriment to her desire to make another quilt.

"I can't change the quilts any more often," I protested.

"I'm making the quilt," she said.

"It's too big. Quilt a small quilt."

"I already planned it," she said.

"Unplan it," I said.

"What do you mean unplan it?" she asked though she knew full well what the word meant. "If there is a word in every quilter's vocabulary that is well understood, it is unplan," I said.

"Foodle," she said. I think that's another quilting word, but I am not absolutely sure.

"You plan a quilt you can unplan it," I continued. "It's the same as when you design a quilt and then undesign it."

"I don't undesign anything," she said. "How can a person undesign anything?"

"You change your mind," I said. "You always tell me that all quilters change their minds, leave work undone, quit in the middle, progress and then regress."

"I don't regress anything," she said.

"I don't need a big quilt. We both need a small quilt."

"This quilt's for you," she said.

"I need a small quilt."


"To fill a space in my life," I said. I thought if I added a little psychology and philosophy into our discussion, she would understand. If anything, quilting is certainly full of psychology and philosophy and a few more ologies and ophies.

"You don't have any spaces. You're an old man with all your spaces full up," she returned in a biological and sociological way.

"The space is on the wall. It's the only space I can hang another quilt, and it has to be a small quilt that lights up the room."

"I thought I light up your room," she said.

"You light up the whole earth," I said quickly to defend myself. When she said that, she knew she could wear me down, defeat me. She was tricky. Quilters are very tricky, and she knew that changing the subject would take my mind off the size of the quilt she was planning to make, but I still had some life left in me.

"Small, small, small" I said. "No bribes of romance will change my mind," I said. "It's my birthday."

"I'll see what I can do," she said.


"No, no, no," she said at least 34,000 times during the next few days.

"No, what?" I asked twice.

"I can't find the right quilt. They're all too big. Too big. All. Much too big," she said in secret quilt code.

"You'll find one," I said wisely, though I had forgotten what she was referring to after three or four days of her singing "No, No, Nanette." We were in the kitchen, and she had a stack of quilt books in her hands, which she set on the table.

"I wasn't singing that song," she denied when I asked her what she was saying "no" to.

"Why don't we take a walk," I said to get her mind off quilting and onto watching sea gulls scream down at the beach.

"As soon as I find the right quilt to do."

"A small quilt," I said. "A wall hanging," I said. "I'm in no hurry. My birthday's not that close."

"A lot you know about birthdays," she said.

I could have said I know a lot about birthdays. I've had many of them. I could have said anything but she wouldn't have heard me. at that moment, for as I finished my sentence, she picked up a quilt book from the top of the pile she had just set down. "Yes," she said. "Yesereee," she said.

"Yesereee?" I asked. I know that when she says what she said in the way she said it, it was time to say something responsive. "Oh, boy, yes," I said.

"What are you talking about?" she asked without looking up at me. She was flipping through the pages of the book, her eyes darting from page to page before stopping on one page. She took a deep breath. "Yes, yes, yes," she said.

"So, we're going for a walk?" I asked.

"All right," she said, but she did not move. I took the book out of her hands, placed it on the table, and pulled her toward the front door.

"You are getting old," she said.


I awakened last week an older man. After I creaked and groaned and managed to make it to the table to slump down in my chair and face my breakfast, I reached for my morning glass of orange juice, but the juice was missing. In fact, my whole breakfast was missing. In its place was a small flat package wrapped in butcher paper. "Hmmmm," I said to myself. "I wonder what this is," I said to my darling wife who had already finished her orange juice and was starting on her breakfast of yoghurt and fruit.

"Open it already," she said between bites and slurps and swallows.

I opened it. "Oh, my, what in the world...." I exclaimed. "A small quilt," I said before I had even unfolded it.

"You're just lucky you're too old to throw my yoghurt on," she said.

"It's onderful," I said.


"Wonderful, I meant," I said, feeling a bit older. I spread out the small quilt, the wall hanging. "Flowers," I said.

"Coneflowers," she said.

"Do they need to be watered?" I asked. At my age, my mental facilities work slowly.

"They 're prewatered," she said. You never have to water them again," she said.

"I know the perfect place to hang it," I said.

"Are you sure about that?" she asked with a wink in her eye.

"It will fit exactly," I said. "Thank you for knowing exactly what I wanted for my birthday."

"Now, about my birthday next month...." she said.

"I ordered the fabric already," I said. No fool was I, even at my age.

"Go hang the quilt and eat breakfast and we'll go for a walk. It's your birthday, so you can decide where to walk."

"Somewhere where there are flowers," I said, though I knew it would be difficult to find flowers better than I already had for my birthday.

"Happy birthday," she said. I agreed.


Copyright 2005 by A.B. Silver

Click here to see finished "Downsized Quilt"

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