I am sitting by the fire with the sunroom door in my line of sight. I am watching the fire too, split oak, I think, or maple, nicely dried and burning bright. I am waiting for the coffee to be done. I am waiting for Annie to show up. She has been gone all night. I did not worry last night. She is a cat. She has been gone all night before. People have told me not to worry about Annie. She is a cat. I listen to the advice. I let Judge out this morning. I called for Annie. Nope. I fed Judge his kibble and pulled my mud boots over my pajama pants and my jacket over my bathrobe and checked the barn to see if she had been locked in. Nope. In a moment of dread I walked the driveway to the street worried to look for a lump in the road. Nope.
I opened a drawer and found quilt pieces a few days ago. My quilts are conceived in joy, cut with anxiety, pieced with hope, assembled with tension, sewed with resignation and quilted with prayer. Or sometimes the other way around.
I found the quilt pieces for a quilt made for a grandchild on the west coast about to be born. The distance was so vast between us. The planes had been grounded after 9/11. I was determined to get to this new baby in any way possible. If not by plane, by train, if not by train, by car, if not by car by boat, or by walking. The name of the pattern is train tracks. We held that baby at thanksgiving. Just home. Just beautiful. Why did I worry?
That baby today? Today just now a new driver, taking a plane to check out East Coast colleges. Going to stay at our place in Philadelphia with a parent tonight. We will see the young driver next week at Thanksgiving. We will hold that baby again. Or maybe be held by that baby. Taller than me now. Definitely a worry free grandparent now.
Some of the quilt pieces I cut out with a rotary cutter. I cut long lengths and then made triangles or squares. A long ruler made a straight line along the straight of the grain. A rotary cutter, sharp and precise, followed the edge down the fabric. (“Watch that blade. Avoid your fingers” I advised myself.) Perhaps I sewed squares together, and then opened them out and made triangles and then and cut them into more triangles. Then stitched into new combinations. Each square, each piece, pressed, then measured. Is it the right size? Should be the right size. All the early measurements were the right size. The seams were sewn straight, the proper width. (Or were they? Did the machine waver? Did the material shift? Did my eye mislead?)
The early worries were different. I examined and measured old quilts. I put the design on graph paper. I cut out paper and checked. I cut out cardboard patterns with added seam allowance. I chose the materials, seconds of cotton fabrics from a Mennonite fabric store in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. I traced the cardboard patterns onto the fabric. (Was the fabric right? Would it go with the other fabric? Did I get enough? Was the cardboard edge worn away? Did I need a new one? Was I cutting enough pieces? Was I cutting too many?The answer to the last question was certainly a ‘yup.) The tension on the machine! The amount of thread! Will the quilt come square! Will it be big enough! Will it lie flat! Will the recipient like it? The unceasing worries.
Yup! Yes to all of it! Yes to it will all be all right! Yes to we just found Annie. In the cabinet under the kitchen sink. Where, apparently, she had been all night. And so it is about time for me to remember “Why worry, if you can pray?” Or “Don’t worry! Be happy!” Darn, my coffee got cold.