When we were in Vermont last month, we drove through town after town with lovely white churches visible in the distance. At one, my Darling Wife pointed out the car window and told me, "You can see that church stipple for miles around."
It's not as if quilting has taken over her whole life. It hasn't. But occasionally, I worry. And occasionally, I wonder. Now, it's not uncommon to hear a person stumble over a word now and then, to reverse letters, to add another syllable to the end of a word, but when my favorite quilter gets so caught up in her quilting that she lives in a mysterious world, it's then that her babble--er, bubble--bursts.
It was nearly four years ago, when she had only been quilting three weeks, when she was too busy working on her first snowball quilt to do anything else, such as shopping, that she sent me on my way to the grocery store with a plea to get her some bread and a "quilt of milk."
I barely paid that slip of the tongue any attention. I should have.
A month later, knowing she would need a lot of money to be a quilter, she asked to fill out an "appliqué" for another credit card.
"Do you mean application?" I asked then.
"Of course I mean application. That's why I said it," she said. I barely thought much of her apparent denial to what I really thought I heard her say. But I let it pass on by.
Still, when that same year we visited London and we were visiting St. Paul's Cathedral and standing in line to climb to the top of the dome, she turned to me and asked, "How many squares do we have to climb to the top?" I should have realized she had been too involved in her quilting. But, instead, I gently shrugged and started climbing the stairs, pushing her gently ahead of me.
Oh, I tried from time to time. "Honey, you think about quilting too much sometimes."
"No, I don't," she said.
"It's beginning to affect your sense of reality," I said. "You have to slow down and take time out for other things."
"All right," she said. "I'll bake a bread."
"That's a good idea," I said. I felt relief and left her in the kitchen at the other end of the house from her sewing room. She was between quilts and maybe she'd take a long break before she began a new one.
She had been in the kitchen for half an hour when she came out and passed me in the hall as she went toward her sewing room. "I thought you were baking a bread," I said.
"I made the batting. Now I have to let it rise for a while."
"Batter," I whispered. I didn't want to startle her out of whatever dream state she was in.
"It's rising," she said. And she went to quilt for a while.
"Quilting has taken over," I told her one day after quilting had taken over.
"Not all the time," she said.
"One hundred percent," I said. Close enough.
"Cotton," she replied.
"I want only one hundred percent cotton for quilting."
One time our grandchildren came to visit, and we were all watching a show about early humans on television. (No, the humans weren't on television. The show was. Sometimes my words come out wrong, too.) "Do you think they had quilts back then?" my Darling Wife asked me as we watched a group of men hunt for a woolly mammoth.
"Are you talking about quilting again? I asked.
"Well, the women had to do something while they waited for the men to come home from the hunt. And maybe they quilted."
"Prehistoric people," I said, "tried to make quilts, but they couldn't sew straight. That's why they were called meanderthals."
"Watch the show, she snapped unappreciatively. "Maybe, you'll learn something."
I watched. When the show was over, it was time for the grandchildren to go to bed.
"It's too early," they protested together.
"Early to bed and early to rise makes...." I began, but Darling Wife, Mother, and Grandmother interrupted.
"The quilt come out the right size," she finished for me.
"What?" I asked.
"What?" our grandchildren asked.
"It's a quilt thing," I whispered as I led them off to bed.
"Oh," they whispered back in agreement.
"That never happened," she said when I reminded her of it recently at dinner.
"Did you see the film "Shakespeare in Love"? I asked.
"You saw it with me."
"Do you remember what you said about Shakespeare?" She shook her head in a very negative way.
"You told me that he was the Bard of Fabric," I said.
"I said Avon. I never said anything about fabric."
"The moon belongs to everyone. The best things in life are fabric."
"Are you saying I said that?"
"And when we drove around the 'rotary cutter' in New Hampshire last month?"
"Can't we talk about something else. How about dinner?" she asked.
"I am hungry," I said.
"Good," she said, and we began to eat.
A minute later she looked at me. "I needle little piece of bread," she said.
Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver
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