The Hundred Year Quilt

 fabric1My good friend Gail visited me last week. We typically begin each conversation by laughing and making sure that we are indeed still friends.

We met while serving on our county’s Behavioral Health Board and quickly realized we had a long list of similar interests, including a love of art and creativity, the outdoors and community service.

Then, one day, I made the mistake of sneaking out of the meeting for a few moments and came back to find I had been elected chair.  Stuck, I shepherded the Board through a challenging two year transition period of sitting on far too many committees with the tasks of integrating Mental Health with Alcohol and Drugs, finding a new Department Director and changing our bylaws.  I had hoped that I would leave the Board with a predictable schedule in Gail’s capable hands when I moved out of the area.

No such luck. Gail has had her hands full.  We both know I got out at just at the right time, with one crisis after another landing at her feet.  She’s doing a great job and I am very, very grateful it’s not me. I’m also very glad we’re still friends, despite me setting her up as the next chair. 

Last week when she visited, we wandered over to our favorite local Quilt Shop, looking at the fabrics and ideas, knowing full well that my expertise is limited to a Quilting for Dummies’ rag quilts and Gail’s not even sure where she stored her sewing machine.  But, it’s fun to imagine what we could do, if only we knew what we were doing.

When we returned home that evening, I showed Gail a pattern I had downloaded three years ago for a Mixed Brick Quilt.  It is large enough for a queen size bed, very attractive and supposedly for all levels of expertise, including beginner.

uh huh.

As I said, I’ve had the pattern for three years and can only get through the first two paragraphs before zoning.

Gail read it, also zoning, but kept reassuring me that she had full confidence that I could successfully make the quilt. And, if I could, she could…

I think I gave Gail the same pep talk as I packed up my stuff, handed her the chairperson’s gavel and bolted out the door.

So, last Friday, I spent two hours back at our favorite quilt shop, purchasing twelve different materials that I think will go together.  Hope may be the operative word. Then, I brought them home, with directions to first wash the fabric with something called a color catcher and then iron with a light starch.

I had to iron? Iron? Starch? Before starting? Are they kidding?

All of which meant I had to find the iron and ironing board.  I knew I had gotten them when I married almost 50 years ago but have avoided using either one.

In no time at all — ok, I was watching the Warriors do a number on the Pacers so the ironing wasn’t all that tedious — the yardage was properly washed, dried, starched and ironed.  It dawned on me as I stood at the ironing board, more engaged in cheering on Curry than starching and ironing, that somehow I had missed out on all the domestic stuff I could have learned as a child.

Of course, I had two brothers, a father and a mother who had five brothers and was herself a bit of a tomboy. It’s no wonder that I never learned to cook, iron or sew.

But I could catch, throw and hit a baseball, and catch and throw a football — and not like a girl.

I remember back to my teaching days, when a football bounced its way across the quad and I scooped it up.  The boys shouted out, asking if I could hold it for them. Fat chance.  I threw it — a perfect spiral — across the quad, over the heads of the mob of students and right into their midst.  I gained a few brownie points that day.

Today, however, I am looking a paragraph 2 of the quilt directions — something about cutting out 386 bricks and blocks before proceeding to paragraphs 3 and stitching them all together and then cutting them again.

Holy Mackerel, this is going to take a hundred years or more to complete.

The next conversation with Gail should be very interesting.