Fast, Fun, and Easy
"What does easy mean?" she asked. My sweet wife, Joan, was stirring the pot of stew slowly, looking down into the steam of the simmering dinner.
"Not hard. Not difficult," I answered. I was hungry and was waiting for the stew. I had my plate in hand.
"Anything else?" she asked. She spooned out a portion of the brown liquid full of good healthy stuff.
"No bother, a cinch, a snap. What are you asking?" I asked.
"I'm done making complicated, difficult, not easy quilts," she said.
"I thought you recovered from that. It's finished. You've had several minutes to recuperate." When she had finished her last quilt, she had been exhausted, tired, wiped out, enervated. We had gone on a walk down by our nearby lagoon so she could relax, settle down, drop her burdens along the trail. But five minutes into the walk, she started in.
"We should get back home," she said.
"I can't relax until I know what my next project will be."
"The next quilt. I have to plan it."
"No you don't. You have to recover."
"I'm recovered enough," she said, and she turned, took my hand, and pulled me back toward the parking lot and our car.
I ate the stew. She ate the stew. We did not talk of quilting all through dinner. After dinner, as we cleaned up, she said, "Easy, easy."
"Cleaning up is easy," I agreed.
"Not the dishes. Quilting. I want quilting to be easy."
'"Make an easy quilt," I suggested.
"I will," she said.
That was how it began. I didn't know that was how it began then, but it wasn't long before I did. Two days. Two days after our dinner of stew, two days after she had started looking through every pattern in her collection, in every magazine and every book, in a record two days she had chosen a quilt for our niece's daughter, our grandniece, Kate, who would be one in September. Plenty of time to make a quilt. More than enough time.
She moved in slow motion. No, that's not a romantic description of my wife moving into my arms for a well-deserved hug and caress. No, that was how she moved as she came into the back yard to tell me she had chosen a pattern. She moved in slow motion.
'Tired?" I asked. I waited patiently for her to get within hearing distance.
"Walking easy," she said slowly..
"That's nice," I said, in an understanding way. I didn't understand, of course, but long before in our life together I had learned how to respond to any bewildering statement that she might make in a very understanding way. "Talking slowly, too," I added.
"I'm taking life in the slow lane," she said.
"Does this have to do with your new quilt project for Kate?" I asked.
"Do you know what easy is?" she asked.
"Didn't we have this conversation before?" I asked after a short wait for her last word to reach me. It was as if she were broadcasting the news from another country, one far, far away, and I could see her lips move, but I had to wait for the words to make the journey from her mouth to my ears.
"I'm really happy about the new quilt," she said.
"You already started," I guessed. The guess was easy. She had that "I have begun" smile.
"It's a very easy quilt," she said. If we were in an old western film, I would say she drawled, her words coming so slowly. Her hand gestures also moved in slow motion.
"Is that why you're so relaxed?" I asked. It was time to get serious about her very odd behavior. Usually, it was zip, zip, always active, moving like Superwoman in her need to get the quilt started, the pattern chosen, the fabrics arranged, her rotary cutter in hand, a blur of motion, zip, zip.
"I'm working slow. Did I tell you tthat this quilt is easy? Big pieces. Big blocks. Big Appliqué. It's going so fast I'm slowing down." The mention of big pieces, of course, was in reference to her last quilt, that one being something like a five-thousand-piece puzzle, only many of the pieces were the size of a gnat's eye.
"Then you'll be done soon?" Maybe not, I thought, not if she were quilting in slow motion.
"Sooner or later," she said, the experienced quilter's answer.
Each morning, afternoon, and evening for the next week, our conversation, at least her side of it, began with, "It's so easy."
"Easy does it. Plain and simple," I said.
"Exactly," she smiled. She was no longer in slow motion every moment. Sometimes she moved normally. Though, on our walks, she usually fell behind a few feet, a few yards. I blamed it on fatigue. Perhaps she was sneaking into her sewing room when she should have been doing something else, such as eating or sleeping. But she was not tired. "I'm not tired," she said every day. "I'm doing an easy quilt. It's so much fun."
She was lethargic, indolent, slothful. She took small steps. "You're slowing down," I said.
"I'm lackadaisical," she said.
"Is that a quilting term?" One never should assume or presume about quilters and quilting.
"I wore out my engine with the last quilt, my head, my heart, all my muscles worn out. I'm in the repair shop now," she said.
"You're getting your strength back?" I asked. I hoped so.
"This quilt doesn't need any strength--or energy. It seems to quilt itself."
"That's good then?"
"It's an easy quilt," she said once again. "I have it all basted together. I'm going to start the quilting. Lazy quilting."
"You're enjoying this quilt," I said. "I know you are. I can see a smile." There was a smile crawling slowly across her face.
"Easy is fun. You could make a quilt like this one."
"No," I said quickly.
"Yes, you can do it. Just a few snips, a few stitches, a little this, and a little that."
"It would take me eight years going my fastest. Maybe ten years. And it would be crooked and colorless and the stitches would break if someone looked at them." I began to get uneasy. I hoped she wasn't serious. I wasn't about to think about quilting. "I'm not about to think about quilting," I said.
"It's easy," she said.
She finished the quilt yesterday afternoon at two o'clock. She didn't say, "I'm finished." She didn't have to. She came down the stairs from her sewing room in flight. She circled me in a blur of motion. She spun herself around to face me. Her eyes flashed bright, fireworks lighting the room.
"Finished?" I asked rhetorically. I didn't need an answer, but she bobbed her head in agreement, up and down, up and down. "It was fast, fun, and easy."
"So, you're back to normal?"
"I was always normal."
"You were slow," I said.
"That's because making the quilt went so fast I had to slow myself down before I went too fast. Now I have to find a new project. I have to be in a hurry."
"You have to hurry to find a new project?" Don't ask!
"Very soon. I have too much energy to sit still. Quilters can't just wait around."
"Another easy quilt?"
"What?" She scowled at me.
"Never mind," I said. "Never mind."
"I need a challenge for the next quilt," she said. Her scowl faded away.
"Of course." Certainly. Absolutely. "A challenge," I agreed.
Copyright 2004 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "Kate's Easy Quilt"
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