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The Quilting Bee-Part I

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  • The Quilting Bee-Part I

    Posted by Barrett<script language="JavaScript1.3" type="text/javascript"> document.write(timestamp(new Date(2004,3,29,8,15,0), dfrm, tfrm, 0, 0, 0, 0)); </script> (Member # 67) on 29-04-2004 15:15<noscript>April 29, 2004 08:15 AM</noscript>:

    It’s been a quiet week in Cuyahoga Falls…

    Some distance from the rehab department is what they call “the circle.” It’s a large, round nurse’s station at the hub of a wheel-shaped wing in this huge building. The spokes contain a variety of residents adopting as many postures and attitudes as you can imagine. They wander about or mingle in small groups dedicated to various television shows or the regularly scheduled smoking breaks out on the patio. As I walk toward the circle I say hello to a few I’ve come to know. Well, I know their names anyway.
    I understand that years ago quilting bees were a regular feature of country life. They still are, but less commonly. Women would gather in a circle, each grasping the edge of a common thread and working individually to make their mark upon it. Many worked to craft a traditional design but, at times, the individuality of a single contributor would be reflected in something unique, perhaps symbolic of an important aspect her life. Knowing what was meant by certain patches required that you actually knew the person who stitched it into the quilt. For instance, you needed to know more than just her name.
    I always ease into the inner portion of the circle gently, aware of my newness to this place and the sharp contrast of my gender. I try to find what I need without bothering anybody and look around for a place to sit with the chart that doesn’t violate any well established boundaries. I know I’m being watched though not openly. The way I reach for things, land in my seat and flip through the mountain of pages speaks volumes about my attitude toward and familiarity with the job. I try to appear focused and calm, efficient and comprehending. Not actually being any of these things most of the time makes it an interesting challenge.
    Quilting bees weren’t just about producing a quilt. The women would stitch and talk, sew and laugh, listen and commiserate. A meal would be planned for when the men arrived. None of this interfered with the task. In fact, the camaraderie probably added to the worth of the quilt in some way though I suppose that would be hard to quantify.
    In the circle I rarely speak, preferring instead to watch and listen as if I weren’t. I’m pretty sure some of the residents do the same. I hear words pass between one staff member and another in the usual way but sense in the current that flows beneath them something about the complex relationships that exist here. I learn more from a sigh, a shake of the head or the way a phone is placed back in its cradle than from any words I might actually hear. There’s a lot of whispering done in the circle but I don’t think they’re talking about me. I hardly exist here though I add to this quilt my own patches of cloth.
    More about that in “The Quilting Bee-Part II.”

    Last edited by bernard; 30-12-2005, 06:04 PM.
    Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. L VINCI
    We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. I NEWTON

    Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not a bit simpler.
    If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. Albert Einstein