Sew and Sew, Part II

SH-guild meetingThere’s nothing like being the Queen Frog in a Small Pond. At least, that’s what G.G. Dieppe believes.

She thinks she has a better-than-average shot at winning the local election to the selectboard where, if successful, she plans to make great changes in the way Carding operates.

So far, she has support from the residents of the Mount Merino Landowners Association, members of St. John Episcopal Church, and the Carding Quilt Guild.

But as John Lennon once sang: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

If you need to catch up, you’ll find part one of “Sew and Sew” right here.

In the meantime, let’s see what G.G.’s up to this week, shall we?

————————————————————————–

As the afternoon wore on, the ripples in Clark Underwood’s eyebrows became more pronounced as he watched his wife flit from room to room in their condo.

“It’s only a quilt guild meeting,” he reminded her gently. “Not a speech in front of the U.N.”

Brenda stopped, her hands twisted inside one another. “I know it’s silly to feel so nervous but we’re new here, and it will be my first time meeting most of these people, and I’m just a beginner at quilting.”

Clark thought about that for a moment. “Do you have to pass some sort of test to get into a quilt guild?”

“Well, I know there are entry requirements for some high-end art-quilters guilds but not for this one, no. It’s just that I’m having a hard time fitting in here so I want this meeting to go well,” Brenda said as she zipped out of the room again.

His wife’s remarks left the air of the Underwood sun room disturbed long after Brenda departed, and Clark suddenly found himself considering how easy it might be to sell their condo if this experiment in country club living didn’t work out. Then he shook himself, and returned to his book.

But the echoes of the disturbance remained.

There are a few facts about friendship that become apparent with maturity. When you’re ten, friendships form quickly over jump-rope or playing tag or through carefully arranged play dates. At that age, friendships come and friendships go easily.

The stakes of friendship for teenagers are higher and far more explosive. Every living human can relate some horror story or another of being snubbed, excluded or picked last for a team during the acne years. At that age, the arrows of life are many and quite pointed.

Friendship seems to settle into discernible grooves as we age. By then, relationships are most often work- or family-related. Couples with kids make friends with couples with kids. Co-workers socialize before and after work. In-laws become friends.

Or not.

By the time we reach fifty or so, the human resistance to change has kicked into a higher gear, leaving us with a tendency to “dance with the one that brung ya” rather than expend the energy necessary to make new friends.

But of course, life never stands still, and in the Underwood household, life had moved on in the form of grandchildren, retirement, and the desire to downsize.

All of which explains Brenda’s desire to make friends to replace—or at least replicate—some of the good times she had had with the folks she left behind in Boston.

“Remember,” Clark said as she shouldered her purse, “there are other ways to get to know folks in Carding. You’re just exploring this quilt guild. Don’t invest the effort unless you feel it’s worth your precious time.”

“Thanks,” she whispered as she kissed him good-bye. “I’ll try to remember that.”

Information about the Carding Quilt Guild had been hard to come by so far. Someone, she still wasn’t sure who, had forwarded Brenda a “letter from the president” with the meeting time and location, cost of annual dues, and a request “to bring your hand sewing box to the January meeting.”

Brenda’s sewing box was nothing special in the grand scheme of things but she loved it. Inside was a hodgepodge of mementoes, favorite tools, and a couple of handmade needle cases, called etuis, passed down from her grandmother. The box’s latest addition was a small cloth bag, a gift from her daughter-in-law at Christmas, embellished with a quote from author C.S. Lewis: “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

In addition to being a sentiment that Brenda wholeheartedly endorsed, the tiny container was the perfect size to act as a thread catcher. It fit right in with all the other oddments cached inside her violet-hued, scallop-shaped plastic box, and every time she saw it, Brenda remembered to smile because her son had definitely married the right woman.

The church hall was buzzing when Brenda opened the door. Some women were setting up chairs around a quartet of tables, and some were busy with food while others chatted near the coat rack. No one looked up when Brenda walked in. No one greeted her even though they’d seemed eager enough to invite her to the meeting.

She stood off to one side, watching the human ebb and flow to see where she might fit in.

Finally, one of her yoga classmates spotted her and waved, indicating an empty chair. Taking a breath, Brenda made the plunge.

But a voice shattered the peace of the chattering mass before she reached the chair.

“What is that under your arm?” G.G. Dieppe asked, pointing to Brenda’s sewing box.


You can visit Carding any time in my novels, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, and The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life. The fourth in the series, Light in Water, Dancing, will be out in 2018.

You can subscribe to the Carding Chronicles by clicking the subscribe button on my home page. When you do, my stories speed from my keyboard to your inbox every Thursday without any further effort on your part.

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