"My hair is getting too long," she said twice that same day last month.
"Get it cut," I said, ever the compassionate and understanding husband, one who wouldn't dare stand in her way of avoiding another bad hair day in her life.
"Maybe next week," she said.
"All right," I said.
Now, some may wonder what hair and quilting have in common, and why anyone would want to discuss it. Well, inspiration comes from a number of places, some so strange as to be thought strange. Two basics are always included in deciding to make a quilt: 1)who is it for and 2)what is the perfect design. Choosing the person is easy. It's for someone, or it's for someone else. It could be a friend, a relative, or a stranger who is in great need of a quilt, either given to him or her or bought by him or her. If it's for a friend, then the design should be one that is 1)a delight for the quilter and/or 2) a delight for the person receiving the quilt.
So, now it's back to the hair. For five years, my Darling wife has been using the same hair dresser to cut her hair. Every Christmas she gives this wonderful woman a gift of food, food that is delicious but obviously dangerous to her well-being. Cookies, cake, candy. All are delicious, and all contain 23 billion calories, more or less. This coming year, all those choices are off the list. This woman who is known to run with scissors when need be has sworn off all digestible items that may add to her figure more than 1/100th of an ounce. Hence, a quilt.
So, now choosing the design for the quilt becomes the challenge. What is smart, clever, pleasant, cheerful, or otherwise just right and yet not ordinary, not common, not a design the quilter has done before, not a design that would easily come to mind if choosing for herself or anyone else?
Think? Go through books and magazines of quilts. Think some more. Go mad trying to decide the perfect quilt. Pull your hair out trying to decide. No, if you pull your hair out there will be nothing left to cut, and there will be no need to go to a hairdresser, and then what? A bad hair day. A bad hair week or month. Ah, then it comes.
The answer came in the late afternoon as she got out of the shower, as she reached for the hair dryer to blow-dry her hair. Combing through the tangle of old gray hairs, tufts of what was left of seven decades of hair combing, hair washing, hair cutting, and coloring or bleaching and finally leaving her hair alone to nature, the quilter was inspired. She looked at the hair dryer. She looked at the comb. She looked in the mirror and saw the design in a magical vision.
"I need pictures of stuff," she said at dinner.
"What kind of stuff?" I asked.
"Hair stuff. Cutting stuff. Stuff for an appliqué quilt for my hairdresser.
"Hairdresser stuff?" I asked.
"Pictures I can cut out and copy and make appliqués from for the quilt.
"When do you want this stuff?" I almost never ask that question, but I had a lapse of sanity and asked.
"Now," she said.
She spent the time after dinner at the copy machine. Copying, enlarging, reducing, 50 percent larger, 25 percent smaller. More. Less. Then, finally, I yelled at her that it was way past our bedtime, "It's way past bedtime," I said. "You can finish tomorrow."
"I'm done," she said. But she wasn't. She brought her pile of copies into the kitchen, spread them out on the table, stared at them a while, and then turned to me. "What do you think?" she asked.
"The comb, the brush, the hair dryer. All of it."
"You have six combs and five bottles of shampoo and seven combs," I said.
"I agree," she said, and before I could make another comment or ask another question, such as what my role was at that moment in my life, she scooped up all the sheets of paper and took them with her up to her sewing room.
"What about bed? Sleep?" I shouted out after her, but there was no answer. After all the years of her quilting, my questions now were silly. Sleep? She was a quilter. Even if she were asleep, she would be quilting in some way or another.
In the morning she came late to breakfast, a smile on her lips, a spring in her step, a song in the air. I knew all the signs. "You started the quilt?" I asked. It wasn't really a sentence that required a question mark, but it was habit.
I've decided what to make Kathy for Christmas," she said.
"It's only September," I said.
"So?" she asked.
"So do you want coffee or tea?"
"It's too plain" she said a week or two or three later. There is no exact time in a quilter's universe. A quilt was started when it was begun, and it was finished when it was done. "What do you think?" she asked. "Doesn't it need something else? Maybe some lace around the border?"
"Is that a question?" I asked.
"I'm sharing my concern with you. Sometimes I need some help to make a final decision."
"I share your concern," I said. "And a lace border will look great."
"Are you sure?"
"I thought so," she said, and whatever thought I had then of doing something with her then, going for a walk, taking a drive to the beach, cleaning out the leaves that had already begun falling in the yard, that thought followed her out of the room back up to her sewing room.
"The lace makes a difference," I said to her when she showed me the quilt again several days later. Of course it did. Not having lace would make a difference as well. Everything in a quilt made a difference. That's what makes quilting quilting. Doesn't it?
"How long before Christmas?" she asked.
"Three months," I said.
"I hope she likes it," she said.
"If she doesn't, I'll give it to my barber, I said. "I'm sure he will like the lace."
"I'm making a baby quilt next," she said.
"Good idea. Do you need pictures of babies?" I asked.
"Go rake the leaves," she said, which was a good idea as they were still scattered all over our back yard.
Copyright 2006 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "Good Hair Day" Quilt
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