Last month, the tensions in our national politic life erupted at a meeting of the Carding Quilt Guild. The disagreement among members of the group was so angry and so loud, several longtime members of the guild left, vowing to start their own group. That event is described in Dearest Rosie.
Well, last night, they celebrated the split at Edie Wolfe’s house with a couple of bottles of malbec and plans for the future.
I made the quilt illustrating this story for my sister a few years back. She’s recently discovered that her dog likes it as much as she does.
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Nearly gave a low growl when he noticed his human had opened the closet door where she kept the Noise Monster.
“Look, I know you don’t like the vacuum cleaner but we’ve been living together for a number of years now, and it hasn’t bitten you yet,” Edie said as she plugged it in. “Why don’t you take a nap in the sunny spot in my bedroom while I do this. It won’t take long. Just a touch-up.”
The cocker spaniel cast a dark warning glance at the Monster, and then tripped up the stairs, his clicking nails reminding Edie that her dog was due for a manicure. Then she advanced into the living room, moving the head of the cleaner under the chairs and the sofa, humming while she spicked-and-spanned.
This is where the Carding Quilt Guild began, she reminded herself, right here in my living room. And now, after twenty-some-odd years, we’re starting over.
Edie shook her head as she remembered the last angry meeting of the guild she’d helped found. What a sad ending, she thought. But then she shook herself, and was reminded that bad endings often carried the seeds of good beginnings.
A knuckle rap on her back door made her jump a little, and she snapped off the vacuum.
Ruth Goodwin stood on the stoop, her arms filled with so many bags, Edie couldn’t tell what coat her friend was wearing. “You know,” Ruth said as she unburdened herself on Edie’s kitchen table, “I love to sew but I get tired of lugging everything that goes with it.”
Edie laughed. “You say that all the time.”
“Yeah, and I mean it all the time.” Ruth stretched her back. “I still have food in the car. Be right back. Any idea how many are coming?”
“I invited eleven, including us,” Edie said, opening the oven to check on her artichoke dip. “That number fits comfortably in my living room.” She stood up, spoon in hand. “You know, after so many years in a big guild, I’m ready for something smaller.”
“Yeah, me too.” Agnes Findley slipped through the door that Ruth opened. “No muss, no fuss, no show to put on, no bylaws, no committees. I’m ready for that.”
By 6:30, every seat in Edie’s living room was filled. Cloth bags filled with colorful quilts soaked up all the spaces between chairs as the eleven women helped themselves to food and drink. “Ooh, try this malbec,” Cate Elliott said as she filled Ruth’s glass with deep purple wine. “This is really nice.”
“Who made the deviled eggs?” Agnes asked. Christine Tennyson raised her hand, and Agnes turned up her thumbs. “Totally awesome. I love them with horseradish.”
As the chatter and laughter snowballed, a cold shadow hugged the trees on the town green across from Edie’s house. G.G. Dieppe made a careful note of every car in the driveway and on the street. She was glad to see that only eleven people had showed up for the first meeting of the Shades of Emerald Quilt Guild. What a stupid name, she thought. Organizational names should tell you what they are like the Committee to Re-elect the President or the First Baptist Church or the Carding Quilt Guild.
And now I’m the president of the Carding Quilt Guild, G.G. thought with satisfaction. And we are going to run it as it ought to be run. We’ll never miss these traitors one little bit.
“Okay everyone.” Edie raised her hand and the din in her living room melted away. “Get yourselves comfy, and let’s begin, shall we? Did you all get my email?”
“Sure did,” Cate Elliott said as she settled on the couch next to Ruth. “And I love the idea of making and selling quilts with the proceeds going to charity.”
“Where are we going to sell them? Online? Craft shows?” Mae Manning asked. She was the oldest member of the group and, Edie suspected, the one among them most adept at online everything. In another life, Mae would have been a programmer.
“Do we have to choose one or the other?” Ruth asked. “Some of us have been doing craft shows for years and we know the folks that run them, and who attracts the better crowds.”
“I agree with Ruth, we should do both,” Christine said. “Where are we going to donate the money we raise?”
“Should it be a local nonprofit or a national one?” Mae asked.
The chatter rose to the ceiling as the suggestions flowed. Across the street, G.G. shivered in the dark but she was pleased with the chaotic tenor of the sounds floating toward her. She dug her car keys out of her pocket, humming. This guild won’t last the year,G.G. told herself, and when it’s all over, I’ll be the one with the Carding Quilt Guild in my pocket.
“And you will never be a member again, Edie Wolfe,” she said aloud, her words coming out in little puffs of white vapor.
Inside, Edie bathed in the sounds of a coalescing project. Over the years, she’d come to understand that there was nothing that a group of quilters couldn’t organize better than anybody. Quilting was a practical art, and as such, it attracted people with that sort of bent. It wouldn’t take long.
“Okay then, it’s decided,” Agnes said as the chatter subsided. “We’ll pick two craft shows or farmers markets to sell our stuff, and open an online store at the same time.”
“With the proceeds benefiting Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Parkinson’s Comfort Project, at least for our first year,” Ruth said. “Everybody agreed?”
Every head nodded.
“Okay, then let’s see what everybody brought to show off,” Mae said, and the room blossomed with color. “I finally finished that Friendship Star for my sister, and I’m dying to show it off.”
Thank you for journeying with me to Carding, Vermont. If you subscribe to my website, you’ll find a short story in your inbox every Thursday morning.
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The Carding novels are (in order of appearance):
The Road Unsalted
Thieves of Fire
The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life