(Note: If you're new to this wonderful fictional group of quilters, read the first four installments by clicking on the 'We're Still Kicking Quilters' in the side panel.)
WE'RE STILL KICKING QUILTERS - MEETING FIVE
Now, Elsie Jean lives in one of the older apartment complexes in town. It is so old that the apartments are delightful. Not the typical white boxes that the new apartments inflict upon it's tenants. Elsie Jean's apartment was on the first floor and included an outside space large enough for a small garden and lots of sitting area. Her apartment has lots of nooks and crannies, large rooms with beautiful ceiling trim, and extremely wide baseboards with wide planked wooden floors.
“You know Elsie Jean, I really love your apartment. The only problem is parking. There really isn't very much for visitors.” Wanda Kay said as she breezed into the yard.
“I agree with you there, Wanda Kay.” Elsie Jean said, “But, the apartment is well worth it. I simply love it. Plus the fact that if something breaks, I can just call the super and he takes care of it.”
“That is a bonus. Elsie Jean. When something goes wrong at my house, I have to first look at my checkbook to see if I can afford to fix it or not. Course, if it has to be fixed, then I have to figure out how.”
“Figure out how to do what?” I asked as I rounded the corner.
“Oh, we were talking about fixing problems that happen in houses versus apartment.” Elsie Jean replied.
“Don't talk to me about house problems...I had the folks come out to service my furnace and they found some major problems. Actually, they found them last year but said I could limp through last winter. No longer. Looks like I am a candidate for a new furnace. Do you know how much those things cost? An arm and a leg!!!”
“Well, at least it's a problem that you can take care of before winter sets in.” Wanda Kay remarked.
“Who's talking about winter already?” Ida Rose asked as she and Anna Mae walked into the backyard.
“I was just telling folks about the fact that I need a new furnace.” I said.
“Oh, wow, that's a bummer, Gertie.” Anna Mae added
“What's a bummer, Anna Mae?” Martha Kerine asked as she approached the group.
“Well, I guess we all are a bit nosey.” Elsie Jean replied. “Do you realize that each of you entered with a question about something you overheard. Isn't that interesting!”
“Nosey is our middle name, Elise Jean, and you know that quite well...queen of texts!” Martha Kerine was laughing as she said it.
“I guess we are all addicted to gossip!”
“Yes, we are and speaking of that what's the news on the quilt show, Ida Rose?” Martha Kerine asked.
“Well,” Ida Rose began, “things are looking good. The publicity team has managed to get articles in all the local papers and we will be doing live interviews on the local stations. The flyers, I brought some to give to each of you, are beautiful, four-color brochures. They went into all the information centers as well as in the businesses. We have confirmation on everyone participating. The police has set up traffic flow. It's really amazing how the loss of our venue has turned into this giant fall festival.”
“Has it got a name yet?” Anna Mae asked.
“Oh yes, and it's really cute...Free Wheelin' Fall Festival. The park is going to be laid out like a wheel with the fair in the middle and each of the rest of the participants in different 'spoke areas'. We are printing a map with all the information and directions including a contact person for each group. There will also be a big map at each of the main entrances to the park.”
“Sounds like things are perking right along.” I said. “On another topic, how are the wedding plans coming along?”
Ida Rose sighed before beginning, “Well, I wish things were going as well. Most of it is coming along fine. Jenny is almost finished making her dress. The bridesmaid is making her own dress also. And the two young flower girls have their dresses already. The backyard is in great shape. And we finished painting the living room, dining room and kitchen. The major problem is the wedding cake. Jenny's friend broke her wrist and really can't make it. That means it's now up to me,”
“Oh my, Ida Rose, how can we help?” Wanda Kay asked.
“I know what we are going to do.” Martha Kerine said. “As soon as you and Jenny have the menu set for the reception, we will take care of it. All of us, well, maybe not Gertie,” Martha Kerine laughed as she winked at me, “can cook and make everything.”
“Well, I'm pretty good at arranging things so I can set the buffet table up and keep the serving plates full.” I said.
“Oh ladies,” Ida Rose sighed with great relief, “that would be so helpful. I'll check with Jenny this week and let you know, Martha Kerine. That's one big thing off my mind. Thank you so much.”
“No problem, Ida Rose. You do have your hands full with the festival and wedding. And don't forget the wedding present. Speaking of, where is the quilt top. It's my turn to work on it.” I said. And with that, we all got out our quilting projects and began working.
It's interesting that when we are all busy you can hear a pin drop. Of course, that doesn't generally last very long. One person or another will stop what they are doing, look up and ask a question that makes the rest of us pause mid-stream with needles stuck in the air, or quilting stitches slipping off. For instance...
“Have you heard what so and so said to...”
“Did you know that so and so did...”
Or, take the one that Wanda Kay asked us...
“What do you think about the idea of me setting up a fabric shop in the old bank building?” Now that got our attention real fast. But we were all so stunned that no one said a word.
“Well, ladies, what do you think?” Wanda Kay asked again. “Let's face it, we have to either drive an hour and a half to the closest store, or we have to take our chances and order fabric on line.”
Still, none of us said anything. I think we were all trying to digest what Wanda Kay was saying. You would have to know Wanda Kay a bit better to understand that she just doesn't do things on a whim. Nor has she ever put her toe in the retail river. It was a suggestion that just did not fit with our perception of who Wanda Kay was...
Clearing her voice, Martha Kerine finally said something. “Well, that's a very interesting possibility Wanda Kay. Ah...how did you come up with that, I mean...ah, where did that idea come from?”
“Well,” Wanda Kay replied, “I'm just plain bored. The kids are grown. David has his own interests and spends lots of time in the workshop making things. Besides, I love to quilt...no, that's not actually true. I love to make tops. Quilting I would rather send out, except of course, Jenny's. And I love fabric. So, I thought, why not combine the two. Tops and fabric. So, what do you guys think about that idea?”
“Do you have any idea of what it takes to open a shop, Wanda Kay?” I asked.
“As a matter of fact I do. I have actually been thinking about this for a long time. And I went and talked to the small business bureau and to the bank to see how much investment it would take. I've even visited three quilt shops and talked with the owners about the business.”
“Well, that makes me feel better...at least it's not a spur of the moment thought...I guess.” Elsie Jean said quietly.
“I think everyone's a bit surprised which is why we all seem to be tongue tied. It's just not like you to do something like this.” Martha Kerine volunteered.
“You're right. I am stepping out of my comfort zone. But if I don't do something now, I am going to scream. Like I said, I am bored. Really bored. Bored to the point of being depressed almost. I talked to David about it and he said to give it a try. That would be better than just sitting around thinking about it and becoming more depressed and bored.”
"But, Wanda Kay, not to be too delicate about things, weren't you the one who was complaining about the fact that if anything broke in your house, you would have to figure out how to pay to fix it?" I asked.
"Well, you know me, Gertie, I was just exaggerating...money is tight, but I think with a small business loan, I can swing it. And, I just found out that a small fabric & craft store about two hundred miles from here is going out of business and would rather sell the whole lot rather than piece by piece."
"You certainly are full of surprises, Wanda Kay, but I never in a million years thought that this would be one of them." Martha Kerine smiled as she said it.
"Actually, Martha Kerine, me neither. The idea just popped into my head one day and off I went after it before it disappeared. And to be honest, I haven't looked back."
"Well, there are a lot of quilters in the area, but there are also other things folks around here are interested in like knitting, crocheting even sewing." Anna Mae added.
"And the last pottery class at the school had a waiting list." Ida Rose added.
"So did the painting class." Elsie Jean pointed out.
"You know, this is just a thought, but...well..."
"Spit it out, Gertie." Wanda Kay said.
" Well, there's no book stores in town and it would be nice to have a few books. I mean fiction as well as the craft books."
"And you know what goes with books?' Anna Mae asked excitedly.
"No, I'm almost afraid to ask at this point." Wanda Kay sighed.
"Coffee! Not just ordinary coffee, but specialty coffee and all the trimming. Why we could even have a few refreshments..."
"Wait, a minute, guys, I was only talking about a small fabric shop. How did we get to a store like this? And do you know how much more money and time and, well, everything else this would be? I don't think David would be as excited about something quite this large." Wanda Kay finished.
"Yes," Anna Mae continued. "But what if all of us joined together to create the shop? We have enough time and talent to operate and staff it. And I would be willing to help finance it."
"Hmmm. Well, that's an even more intriguing idea." Wanda Kay mused her spirits lifted considerably.
And all at once the rest of us chimed in with affirmations about being able to help with all thee...time, talent and money.
So that's how the fabric, yarn, craft, book and coffee shop was born. Now the real work begins. That is, after the fall festival and Jenny's wedding. And the very first thing we all decided to decide was it's name!