We were all sitting around Martha Kerine's quilt frame tying the quilt that was stretched tautly over it.  And, of course, we talked, or should I say gossiped, about the latest goings on in our little part of the world.

Martha Kerine's husband was one of those folks who could make things happen out of some nuts and bolts, a bit of string and maybe some chewing gun thrown in for good luck. You see, Martha Kerine loves to quilt but her house is very small and when she has the quilt stretched out over the quilt frame, there isn't much room.

So, what her husband did was to figure out a way to hang the frame from the ceiling. This way it could be kept out of the way when not in use and then lowered with a pulley system when it was needed. Not only that, it could be lowered to any height and it could be lowered so one side was high and the other side was low. Amazing.

Well, we were all sitting around. Oh, I'm sorry, I guess I need to introduce you to the other quilters. You know about Martha Kerine, of course. Her last name is Baxter. And this is her week to host the group. By the way, we get together twice a month taking turns to host.

Now, Anna Mae Johnson is sitting next to Martha Kerine. Anna Mae is the oldest in our group but you wouldn't know it by her schedule. She's also the busiest. I sometimes think that she's on some type of speed or something. Anna Mae has what my granny used to call a 'hot needle'. I guess the best way to describe that is that she's a fast sewer but not always the neatest, if you get my drift. But her stitches are always anchored well.

Across from Anna Mae is Elsie Jean Lundgren. Elsie Jean is probably our most bubbly member. She's always gushing about something or another. Like the coffee she hosted last week at her church. She thought it was just so much fun that she decided to do it more frequently! Or, take the last time she won the block of the month at our guild meeting. She couldn't help herself praising everyone's blocks. As a matter of fact, she already has them laid out for her next lap quilt.

Now, next to Elsie Jean is Wanda Kay Reynolds. Wanda Kay is just getting over a very bad case of the flu. She was bound and determined to come today because, as she put it, she's just dang tired of being cooped up for so long. We can all see that she's not quite recovered her strength but her color is looking much better and she's happy to be here chatting with all of us.

Ida Rose Carlton is sitting opposite of me. (We have two each on opposite sides and one each on the other sides.) Ida Rose loves to quilt, sew, crochet, knit, weave...anything to do with fiber and fabric. I don't think she has tried felting yet, but just wait. It's on her to-do list somewhere. Ida Rose loves to talk about her grandkids. By the way, we all have grandkids, I think her youngest is getting ready for a fall wedding. Ida Rose is bound and determined to have the quilt finished as a wedding present. We'll see.

Now, me, my name is Gertrude F. Samburg. You would not believe what the F stands for...but I'll save that for later. I think I am the only one in the group called by a single name instead of a double name like Elsie Jean. Most times I'm called Gertie but if someone wants to make a emphatic statement, they call me Gertrude. I don't really mind Gertie, but I'm not fond of Gertrude. Would you be? Anyway, I'm what they call a 'topper'. In other words, I love to make quilt tops. Quilting, tying, not so much. That's one of the reasons I enjoy this group...they not only help me with those things, they prod me into doing more.

“I think I'll start the coffee. By the way, I tried out a new recipe for some cardamom coffee cakes. I haven't tasted them yet but they sure smell good.” Martha Kerine stood up and walked into the kitchen urging her joints to work after sitting so long. (We're all in our seventies or eighties so that's a common complaint around here.)

Anyway, I think Martha Kerine can bake rings around all of us. But, her coffee...oh that's to die for. She makes the typical Scandinavian coffee with eggs and shells mixed in with the grounds. Her coffee is strong, actually very strong, but not bitter. She says it's from the eggs. Must be right because her coffee is really good.

“Are you making your Scandi coffee?” Anna Mae asked to which Martha Kerine replied that she always makes it for the group. “That's good, because I need a boost today. I have several errands to run after I leave here and I don't want to be dragging/”

“I have never seen you dragging, Anna Mae.” Wanda Kay said. “At least, not like I've been dragging these past couple of weeks.”

“O for Pete's sake, Wanda Kay, you've been sick with the flu. I just hope your not rushing things.” Elsie Jean said as she was shaking her head.

“I like your quilt, Martha Kerine, what are you going to do with it?” Wanda Kay asked.

Now, the quilt was very simple, but striking at the same time. It was made up of five inch blocks of all different types of fabric simply sewn together in rows...twelve rows widthwise and eighteen rows lengthwise. There's also a four inch border all around. Bigger than a normal full size quilt but not as big as a queen or king size.

“It's going to Walter, Henry's brother.” (Henry was Martha Kerine's husband.) “He's been a bit down now that his last son has found a job and moved across country. I had a lot of old clothes up in the attic, some from Walter and Henry when they were young. I decided to make a quilt out of what I could salvage.” Martha Kerine replied while she was waiting for the water to boil for the coffee.

“Ida Rose, I haven't heard two words from you today. What's wrong? Cat got your tongue?” I asked knowing full well that Ida Rose is a dog lover, not a cat lover.

“Well, I was thinking about the quilt I wanted to make as a wedding gift for Jenny. I have the fabric. It's really lovely. Pale purple and cream with deeper shades of purple as accents. I'm not sure about the block because Jenny wants an appliqued flower design running through the quilt.”

“Wow, that sounds like a lot of work, Ida Rose.” Wanda Kay sighed. “I'm tired just thinking about it. But then, I'm still not up to par.”

“What about a whole cloth quilt with the cream middle bordered with the different shade of purple? Then you could applique the flowers on the cream fabric...” Anna Mae asked

“Yeah, and then you could do some intricate quilting around the flowers to make them stand out.” Elsie Jean added.

I agreed with Anna Mae's suggestion thinking that intricate blocks and applique could detract from each other. “Sounds like a good idea, Ida Rose. That way you could begin planning the flower grid right away. And, we could help when you get it planned out.”

“I never thought about a whole cloth quilt. That really is a great idea, Anna Mae. I think I will work on a grid and see what I come up with. Then you all can tell me if it's a good idea at our next get together.” Ida Rose said, smiling for the first time. “I was worried because I just couldn't figure out what type of a quilt to make.”

“Coffee's ready.' Martha Kerine hollered, “Why don't you all put your needles down and join me in the kitchen. I'm dying to see what you think about my cardamon coffee cake.”

We all stuck our needles into the quilt, got up and slowly made our way into the kitchen as our stiff joints got used to walking. The smells of coffee mixed with cardamon promised a treat was in store for all of us.

“So has anyone seen the agenda for the next guild meeting?” Martha Kerine asked.

“Now that you mention it, I haven't seen one and the meeting's coming up pretty soon...next week if I'm right. Don't they usually send out the agenda a couple weeks in advance?” I asked.

“Yeah, now that you mention it, where is that agenda? Does anyone know who the guest speaker is?” Wanda Kay asked.

“Well, I think the speaker is a pretty good one but her name escapes me...I think she's doing a trunk show. But, what's bothering me is something that I heard at the meat market yesterday.” Martha Kerine replied.

“What did you hear?” several of us asked in unison.

“Well, it's about our annual quilt show. I think that there's a problem with the venue this year but no one seems to know what the problem is. Or, at least those who know aren't sharing with anyone else. I guess we'll have to wait until the meeting to find out.”

“That could be a real problem because I think all the publicity has been drawn up, including the brochures.” Elsie Jean said quietly.

“You're right. It's all ready to go to the printers.” Ida Rose added, “The publicity team met a couple days ago and we finalized everything. Wow. If the venue's changed, that means we have to start all over. Wonder if anyone knows what the problem is? No one's said a thing”

“But where else could we go?' I asked. “Securing a venue for our quilt show isn't going to be easy at this late date. It's not that we can put 450 quilts in a church basement...a cathedral, maybe, if there was one around..but not in any of the churches in this area.”

We all sat quietly, drinking our Scandi coffee and eating Martha Kerine's cardamon coffee cake and thinking about venue problems.

“This coffee cake is really good, Martha Kerine. Where did you get the recipe?” Wanda Kay asked.

“Well, there really is no recipe. I just took a little of this and a little of that and stuck it all together and this is what turned out.”

“If I could bake this well, Martha Kerine, I would open up a bakery!” Wanda Kay responded.

“Yeah, and then you'd work your buns off. No thanks. I enjoy baking for family and friends but that's my limit.” Martha Kerine laughed.

“You know what we could do?” I asked, “We could publish a cookbook and sell if at the quilt show.”

“This year?” Ida Rose exclaimed with saucer sized eyes.

“No, Ida Rose, next year or the year after. It was just a thought. Of course, most of the recipes would have to come from Martha Kerine. Unless burnt is a good thing, you know my baking isn't up to scratch.”

We finished our coffee cake and Scandi coffee quietly enjoying each morsel. Then we all tromped back into the living room to finish tying the quilt Martha Kerine made for Walter. When it was completely tied, we began to gather up our quilting supplies.

“I guess we'll find out about the quilt show at the next guild meeting.” Wanda Kay said to no one in particular. “Are all of you going?” She asked. The group replied in the affirmative. “Can I catch a ride with someone?”

“Sure, Wanda Kay, you can ride with me.” Anna Mae replied.

“Okay, I guess we'll see each other at the guild meeting.” Ida Rose said. “Our next meeting is at my house. Martha Kerine, you have set a high bar for me...think I'll stick to tea and crumpets.” She laughed on her way out the door.

We all said our good byes, reminded Ida Rose that she also needed to work on the flower grid for Jenny's quilt and took our leave as Martha Kerine thanked us for tying Walter's quilt.

Next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday morning, two weeks from today...

8-9 cups water
1 whole egg
½ cup coffee grounds (more for stronger coffee)
1 cup cold water

Bring 8-9 cups of water to rolling boil. While water is heating, crack open egg and add to grounds, mixing well, also crush the egg shell and add to the coffee-egg mixture. When water is boiling, add the coffee-egg mixture to the water and continue boiling for three minutes. Take off heat and add the cup of cold water which should bring the coffee-egg mixture to the bottom. If desired, strain coffee through strainer but not through filter. You want to taste all the oils in the coffee.

“Hi, Ida Rose,” Anna Mae said as she walked onto the screened in porch. “Are we meeting out here or inside?” It was such as beautiful day that Ida Rose had set up the porch with comfy chairs for everyone. 

“It's so nice out, Anna Mae, that I thought everyone would enjoy being on the porch.”

“I agree. Just smell those lilacs. Why, that bush reaches your second floor windows, Ida Mae.” Anna Mae said as she looked out toward the side of the house.

“Yes it does. That's why I leave the windows open. It can be as still as the leaves before a summer storm but the smell from the lilacs fills the rooms.” Ida Rose laughed.

“I guess I'm the first to arrive today. Everyone's coming, although Wanda Kay may be a few minutes late. I think she has a doctor's appointment.” Anna Mae looked around and then choose the wicker rocker with cushions covered in big splashy pink and rose flowers to sit in, placing her quilting bag next to her. “So, what did you think about the Guild meeting? And our lack of a venue for the quilt show? Any ideas how we are going to handle this little problem?”

“Well, it's not really a little problem, is it?” Ida Rose responded sitting down next to Anna Mae.

“No, it really isn't.” Anna Mae sighed. “It's not a little problem at all. I guess one thing we can do is cancel the quilt show.”

“We'd lose a lot of money. I know the deposit for the venue will be refunded but not all the advance money to the teachers...and some of them were pretty high. Then there's the judges we hired. And the vendors who signed up." Ida Rose was silent for a moment. "It's bad enough being on the publicity committee but to be on the committee in charge of the quilt show. I sure don't envy those ladies. Not one bit...” Ida Roses's voice trailed off softly as she sat deep in thought.

Just then a car pulled up and out tumbled Martha Kerine, laughing so hard that tears were streaming down her face. “Elsie Jean Lundgren,” Martha Kerine gasped, “If you don't stop with that story, I am going to...to...well, have an accident. And you will have to take me home so I can change.”

Anna Mae and Ida Rose looked up as both Martha Kerine and Elise Jean walked hurriedly up the walkway to the porch.

“Well, it's true Martha Kerine. You know I wouldn't make up a story like that...I couldn't if I wanted to.” Elsie Jean burst out barely controlling her laughter.

Martha Kerine got to the screen door first, opened it and then quickly went through the porch to the...

“Remember where it is, Martha Kerine?” asked Ida Rose.

“Of course I do...”

“Just asking, Martha Kerine, that's all.” Ida Rose chimed. “Okay, Elsie Jean what's so funny? I've never seen Martha Kerine make a beeline that fast to the privy before.”

Elsie Jean went over to the mission rocker and sat down, waving a fan in front of her face and trying to catch her breath at the same time.

“Well, I was just telling...” Elsie Jean stopped and took a couple more breaths before breaking out in laughter again. “Well, I was just telling Martha...”

“Stop right there, Elsie Jean...” Martha Kerine said in a very loud voice as she walked back unto the porch.

Now, as Martha Kerine was usually the quiet one, and raising her voice was way out of character, the rest of them just looked at her with their mouths open and their eyes as big as saucers...

“What's going on?” I asked quietly pulling the screen door open. “You all look like deer caught in a headlight.”

Martha Kerine began laughing as soon as I asked my question.

“I guess I still have a little surprise left in me!” she declared. “Go ahead Elsie Jean and tell everyone the story.”

“Well, as I was telling Martha Kerine,” Elsie Jean began.

“Wait a minute, Elsie Jean,” I interrupted. “If this is a long story, let's wait for Wanda Kay. I think we could all use a good story after our last guild meeting.”

“Yeah, that was a bummer of a meeting.” Anna Mae added.

Rumors of a possible problem with the upcoming quilt show had made the telephone gossip line, also known as texting. What none of us knew was the extent of the problem...that is, that our venue had decided to cancel our contract.

We did find that out at the guild meeting and why the contract had been cancelled. The roof leaked!!! The earliest it could be fixed was well beyond the date of our show. We could have chosen to run the risk of a leaky roof but the venue would not take that risk. Thus, no place to hold our quilt show.

Lots of suggestions were made but for the most part, none of the buildings suggested were large enough. There was one suggestion that kind of made sense, but also had a great deal of risk. The park. There were several pavilions and covered shelters for lectures and classes, but hanging the quilts outside. Well, that could prove to be a problem.

On the other hand, lots of quilt shows were hung outside. The Annual Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon, for instance.

“What do you think about the idea of having the quilt show in the park?” Anna Mae asked.

“Well, we would not be able to collect a gate fee.” Ida Rose said, “But, I bet we would get a larger turnout. That is, if the weather was good.”

“Most of the newer covered shelters have electricity so they could be used for classes. The tables, though are probably not the best for sewing.” Elsie Jean added. “And we would have to limit the show to one day, I think. We really couldn't leave the quilts up overnight.”

The rest of us just sat there shaking our heads in agreement.

“I'm sure glad that I don't have to make that decision.” I said. “It's certainly not a win-win situation.”

“More like a lose-lose one.” Anna Mae agreed.

“Well, while we wait for Wanda Kay to get here, let me show you the pattern I came up with for Jenny's quilt.” Ida Rose quickly got up and gave each of us copies of her pattern.

Ida Rose had created a simple pattern that looked complicated. All the elements looked straight forward. For instance, the vines which wound around the center flower were narrow tubes, made out of green fabric, cut on the bias, sewn, turned and pressed. Because of the bias cut, the vines were easily curved.

“I used a single pattern for each corner and the center of the quilt.” Ida Rose continued. “Then using the bias cut, I can easily weave the vine around the center with trailers going off toward each corner. There are only three different leaf patterns. Varying the fabric will give the appearance of a much larger difference.

"And I choose to make the flowers similar to the center and corners but with a more realistic look. I have three different patterns. One is a bud. One is a flower beginning to open. And the third is the flower completely open. What do you think?”

“Wow. That's not only a beautiful pattern, Ida Rose. It's one that I think could easily be finished before the wedding.” I said.

“You know, we could all help with the applique on the whole cloth. Then Ida Rose could add the borders and corners before beginning the quilting.” Elsie Jean added. “I bet we could get the center finished in a couple meetings if Ida Rose has the pattern on and the vines pinned in place.”

As Elsie Jean was talking, Wanda Kay drove up, got out and walked toward the porch. We all turned a to see how she looked. To say good would have been inaccurate. She looked great and best of all she was smiling ear to ear.

“Before you ask,” Wanda Kay began as she entered the porch, “the doc said I'm as good as new and can continue on with life as usual. Although, I must say, that it was nice not to have to be in charge of everything in the house.”

“That's great news Wanda Kay,” I said, “but knowing your schedule, I would take a bit of time coming up to full speed.”

“Believe me, I am.” she said. “Now that I know what David is capable of, I think there will be a little more helping out at home.” She added brightly, “That will leave me with more time to do some quilting,”

Everyone on the porch was all smiles to see one of their friends in such a good mood, a change from the way she had looked and acted at the last couple of meetings.

“So,” she asked, “what are we going to do about the quilt show? I really don't think that there are any places in the area big enough to hold it. I'm open to the park, but what about you guys?”

“Well, it could be a really big gamble holding it outside. On the other hand, we could publicize it as a free community event for everyone. And we could set up places for children to sew an easy block together.” Anna Mae responded.

“And we all have orphan blocks.” Ida Rose added, “I think I have at least two or three dozen floating around here. We could set up quilting stations and let folks quilt a block. We could even finish it off for them with a simple binding...”

“Or show them how...” Wanda Kay added

“Yes, show them how. Then they could take home a finished little project.” Ida Rose continued.

“And I bet we would wind up with more folks interested in quilting.” I said. “I think this park idea has some legs to it, Ida Rose. Why don't you let the quilt committee know about our suggestions and see what they have to say about them.”

“I will at the next meeting which I think is this Friday. You know, maybe this could work out for the best. That is if the weather holds.” she responded.

We all pulled out our quilting projects and continued talking while working. Anna Mae had a really unique little project..

“What in the world are you working on Anna Mae?” Elsie Jean asked, looking a bit puzzled.

Anna Mae held up a piece of work that measured about five by eight inches. “It is a bit different from my normal quilting.” She laughed and then went on. “Well, it all started with my youngest grandson. He brought his laptop over last week and he showed me some quilting sites.

“Well, you know me, I had to check them out myself...I think I spent about five hours on the darn thing. But some of those quilting websites are really great.

“Anyway, I found one that did swaps, postcard swaps, but the postcard had to be completely covered in fabric and stiff. I thought it was an unusual swap so I decided to join. And this is my postcard.”

“Are you going to send it through the mail?” Ida Rose asked.

“Yep,” Anna Mae replied. “That's why I have a really stiff piece that I reinforced with some fusible interfacing.”

“Think it will go through?” Wanda Kay asked.

“Well, it will have to be special handling, but they said it would, so I am going to send it. What do you think of the design?” Anna Mae asked.

Now the postcard was a scene, made totally out of fabric, of the western desert mountains with rusts, oranges and peach coloring. The back was just as beautiful and had places for the addresses and note.

“That's really something, Anna Mae. Did you make a pattern or did you create it freehand?” I asked.

“Well, I had a picture that I patterned it after. I can draw up the pattern if you like.” She offered.

“I for one would like that...” I said as several others added that they would also like the pattern.

And with that Ida Rose brought out the refreshments. We put our quilting projects away and helped ourselves to the spread that Ida Rose put out.

“I thought some tea would be a refreshing change.” Ida Rose said, “So what goes best with tea is scones with butter, jam and clotted cream; a few assorted sandwiches and strawberries dipped in chocolate.

As everyone was filling their plates with the delicious goodies I said, “Okay, you all know your coming to my house next time. Don't count on anything this spectacular...just hope I have some crackers, coffee and store bought cookies!”

“Right, maybe we'll BYOL, that is 'bring our own lunch'.” Martha Kerine laughed.

And with that we stopped chatting and stuffed ourselves.

As we were leaving, Martha Kerine reminded Elsie Jean about her story.

“Well, it all started when my sister...” Elsie Jean began

I was getting the refreshments ready for the group - mainly, a fruit platter, a variety of crackers and cheese plus a couple of different wines - fast and easy. I decided that it would probably be a good idea to have some coffee ready, just in case. And maybe some tea.

Since it was raining, meeting outside or on the porch was not a choice so I quickly spruced up the living room, making sure that there was a place for everyone to sit with plenty of room to put their quilting stuff. After checking everything, I sat down to look at my quilting projects with the aim of deciding which one I would work on this afternoon.

I used to live in a very large house but decided that a smaller place was more practical and less work. Now I have a large central area with a kitchen in one corner and a fireplace in the opposite corner. It's roomy and can accommodate several comfy chairs as well as a table for dining and a place for my studio. I like my somewhat new home. It suits me just fine.

Ida Rose had called and said she was bringing her quilt top and large hoop. She had already made the stems and appliqued them onto the quilt. She had also drawn the rest of the pattern on the quilt. We could each take turns working on the flowers and leaves. Doing it this way would make fast work of the quilt top.

“Knock, knock,” Martha Kerine called out.

“Come on in, Martha Kerine.” I said as I walked to the porch.

“You can keep your umbrella out here... and let me take your raincoat. I'll hang it out up to dry.”

“I was wondering if I would make it, the rain was coming down so fast that the wipers barely kept up.” Martha Kerine said as she was taking off her raincoat.

“Here comes...it looks like Ida Rose and Anna Mae are with Elsie Jean. I'll go out and help them in while you hold the door, Martha Kerine.” I said as I picked up the large golf umbrella and ran out to the car.

A few minutes later, the three were on the porch, shedding their raincoats and umbrellas.

“My goodness, I know we need the rain, but this downpour could cause some flooding.” Elsie Jean said as she hung up her raincoat.

“Look, here comes Wanda Kay,” Ida Rose said. “Maybe one of us should go out...”

“I'll do it Ida Rose.” I said as I grabbed the umbrella once more and ran out to help Wanda Kay.

A bit later, everyone was seated and drinking either hot coffee or tea trying to dry out and warm up from the heavy downpour. No one had taken out their quilting projects.

“So, Ida Rose, how did the quilt committee meeting go?” Martha Kerine asked.

“Well, I think we made some good progress. They liked our ideas of letting folks take orphan blocks and learn how to quilt and possible finish them. They also thought it would be nice to have both adult and children stations so that the younger folk could give quilting a try. And, as well as orphan blocks, we could cut several squares out of a variety of fabrics and let folks create either a four or nine-patch block.

“Another idea came up to take a large whole cloth quilt, applique on letters with the name of our guild and the quilt show in the center. Then have everyone who attends, write their name around the appliqued portion. We could later stitch over the names with embroidery floss. Then we could finish up the quilt with a nice border. It would be different.” Ida Rose offered.

“Those are great ideas, Ida Rose but what about everything else?” Elsie Jean asked.

“Well, there was another great idea but the committee members weren't sure if the rest of the guild would object.” Ida Rose responded.

“What was that?” I asked.

Ida Rose, sat for a few seconds, thinking. The rest of us all looked at her wondering...

Finally, she said, “You know that there are other things going on around the time of our quilt show. The Library Book Fair is held around that time. Then there's the annual Barbeque Contest between the five churches in the area. The Community band has concerts in the park weekly for that month. And...”

“Is the committee suggesting that everything be held on the same day in the park?” Wanda Kay asked with a bit of panic indicated by her rising voice.

“That's about the size of it.” Ida Rose answered quietly.

We all sat there, thinking about the possible disasters. I could envision barbeque sauce all over our quilts.

“Well, that would be one for the books.” Martha Kerine said. “But, I think it just may be the answer to our problem. Think about it. We would get tons more visitors to the show. And we could ask for donations to keep the guild going.

“Yes, but we would have to do something to keep the quilts clean. And there are probably other problems that we would have to deal with. But, on the other hand, it sure would be a fantastic fall celebration.” Wanda Kay offered.

“You know, Martha Kerine is right.” Anna Mae added. “I remember several years ago attending a quilt show that was held at the same time as the community fair. The show was in a separate building right next to the fair so it was a bit different. There was no entrance fee, only donations, but I remember talking to one of the guild members and they said that the donations were excellent and the crowds seeing all the quilts were huge.”

“Well,” Ida Rose spoke up, “there will have to be a lot of coordination involved with the different groups. The one positive note was that on the quilt committee we had someone involved with each of the other activities so they were going back to their particular groups to see if they were interested.”

“And, you know, with the latest addition to the park,” I added, “There's enough room for all the activities with lots of space left over. We would have to figure out who would use what facilities like the covered picnic areas. But I think that hanging the quilts like they do at Sister's or even on large canopy tent structures would show off our quilts beautifully...as long as we don't have weather like today!”

Everyone laughed as I got up to collect the coffee and tea cups.

“Time to get some quilting done and I have my large hoop ready for someone to applique flowers or leaves on Jenny's quilt. The pattern is already on and I have all the flowers and leaves cut out and pressed. Who's first” Ida Rose asked.

And with that everyone was busy with their quilt projects

“Have you given the quilt to Walter yet, Martha Kerine?” Anna Mae asked.

“Yes, and he loved it. As a matter of fact, he and his wife Effie were over for supper last Sunday when I gave them the quilt. There were lots of laughs all around as Walter and Henry remembered some of the clothes that I used for the blocks. It turned out to be a trip down memory lane.

“Did you know that there was a chicken coop attached to the old barn at our place? I didn't. Henry and Walter were telling Effie and me about how they would dare each other to jump off the coop. Then when they both accomplished that, they used to dare each other to see who could jump the furtherest! And then,,” Martha Kerine stopped and began to laugh.

“Yes, and then what...” Wanda Kay prodded.

“Well, then they decided who could...well, you know...relieve themselves the furthest while standing on the coop.”

“You mean pee?” Wanda Kay asked, smiling.

“Yes, but it gets even better, or worse.” Martha Kerine replied. “The two were having a contest when their mom walked around the corner to check the coop for eggs. It scared the boys so much that they couldn't stop and wound up spraying each other!” By this time Martha Kerine was laughing so hard she had a time catching her breath.

“Wow. That would have been hysterical to see!” Elsie Jean said. “What happened?”

“Well, to hear them tell it, they were severely punished. What happened is that their mom went and got the hose and turned it on spraying both of them with very, very cold water. Then they had to go in and take a shower. That was then end of their 'so-called' contests.” Martha Kerine finished.

“Boys will be boys.” I said. “Let's hope they're still not daring each other...”

We all sat quietly, smiling at the story and working on our projects. Wanda Kay had finished a turn at Jenny's quilt top and turned over the hoop to Anna Mae.

“So how did the postcard swap go, Anna Mae?” Wanda Kay asked.

“It was fun. I've been checking Pinterest to see the other postcards. Everyone was asked to take a picture of the postcard they received and post it. Mine was sent to someone in Montana and they loved it. I received one from Alabama and it was full of azalea flowers. Really stunning. You know, we should suggest doing something like that at the guild...” Anna Mae paused, “...but after the quilt show.”

“That would be a nice idea, Anna Mae.” Elsie Jean answered. “But maybe not postcard art as we all live in the same area. I like the idea of doing something like that, though.”

“How about swapping mini quilts? Or, mug rugs?” Anna Mae suggested. “I think the idea is to make something not too big and give it away. It would be a nice way to get to know some of the new members of the guild. We could pair them with the older members and then suggest that they swap ideas about colors and types of fabric each likes.”

“That is a good idea, Anna Mae.” I said. “It really would be a nice way to get to know some of the new faces. There are a lot of younger folks at the meeting and that's good but I don't know anything about them. Not that I want to know their life story but it would be nice to know what attracts them to a bunch of us old geezers...”

“Watch who your calling old...” Anna Mae interjected, laughingly.

“Whose next on Jenny's quilt?” Anna Mae asked.

“My turn,” Elsie Jean answered as she got up to get the hoop. “Wow, this is really looking nice. I bet Jenny will love it, Ida Rose.”

While everyone was busy, I got up and went to the get the refreshments ready. I found a nice bright summer tablecloth and placed a bouquet of summer flowers along with the food. There were enough chairs around the table for everyone to sit and munch. 

“The refreshments are ready when you are.” I announced and watched as folks began laying their quilt projects down. “I hope this is alright. Food is definitely not my strong point!

“I guess we all forgot to BYOL.” Martha Kerine teased. “This is just fine, Gertie. And let's face it...none of us will starve. As a matter of fact, we could all do with a little less.”

And with that everyone found a chair at the table to enjoy the refreshments talk with one another.

After eating and, of course, talking or maybe a bit of gossiping, everyone returned to their quilting for a while longer. As folks began packing things up Anna Mae reminded everyone that the next meeting was at her place.

And then they all made a mad dash to their respective cars as the rain was still pouring down...

Anna Mae lived in a large old home with a wide covered porch on three sides. The kind that most folks immediately fall in love with when they drive by. It's painted a silvery white with slate blue trim. The home was actually built by her great grandparents and handed down to each generation. It was one of the first homes built in the area and it was in the middle of a large farm.

Most of the farm land was sold by Anna Mae's grandparents and the rest by her folks so that all that remained was the large home and about an acre of land on the edge of town. Anna Mae had a large vegetable garden, several fruit trees as well as grape vines and several berry patches. She also had a rock garden, something very few folks maintain in this day and age.

One of the problems that Anna Mae struggled with was what to do with the home when she was no longer here. It seemed that none of her children really wanted to return to the area after setting up housekeeping in far flung areas.

Nevertheless, it was a treat to meet at Anna Mae's home. The furnishings were mostly from her great grandparents and grandparents and it had a lived in look rather than the polished, coordinated look of a magazine cover.

I was the first to arrive this time and I asked Anna Mae if there was anything I could do to help her get ready for the meeting. As usual, she had it all under control. So I sat in my favorite large wicker rocker so full of cushions that if felt like a big, giant hug.

“What do you think, Anna Mae, about how our quilt show is evolving into this big fall celebration event?”

“I think it's a grand idea.” Anna Mae responded, sitting down next to me. “It will bring lots and lots of folks into the area and that just may translate into new members, lots of folks will see our handiwork and maybe we'll even have a hefty donation to add to our bottom line.”

“I guess that since there are so many other organizations involved, all the publicity will have to be coordinated.”

“Yes, it will be...” answered Ida Rose who heard the comment as she entered the living room. “But it seems to be working out well. The publicity budget is much bigger with all the groups chipping in. And we will be able to get some radio and television coverage.”

“Yes, and that means that a couple of our quilts, including the raffle quilt, will have to be ready right away.” chipped in Wanda Kay as she and Elsie Jean walked in.

“I hope you don't mind that we just walked in, Anna Mae.” Elsie Jean added.

“Of course not. It will be a hot day in winter when I don't welcome guests with open arms.” Anna Mae answered laughingly.

“Well, with global warming, there may come a time when it's hot during winter here, but I can never imagine you not welcoming folks with open arms, Anna Mae.” I said.

“Knock, knock.” Martha Kerine shouted. Anna Mae went to help her in as the rest of the group found places to sit and began to take out their quilting projects.

“I brought Jenny's quilt to work on again. I am hoping to have all the applique done by the end of the day today.” Ida Rose said as she held up the quilt top.

“It looks beautiful, Ida Rose.” Martha Kerine said as she entered the room.

“Thanks to all of you.” Ida Rose responded.

The room was quiet for a change while everyone worked on their projects, or on Jenny's quilt. Anna Mae looked up at us and after a few minutes said,

“Well, either the cat's been around to everyone's tongue or we have a mighty quiet group here today!”

“I guess I was thinking about both the publicity for the quilt show, or maybe I should say community event, as well as the plans for Jenny's wedding.” Ida Rose offered.

“Taking one thing at a time,” I said, “how are the plans for the wedding coming along?”

“For the most part, the wedding is taken care of. Jenny wants a small wedding with just a few guests. And she wants to hold it in the back yard. Thank goodness Daniel (Ida Rose's husband). loves to garden. He has the backyard well in hand. The reception will be at the house so we have been sprucing that up. I think we will be painting the living room and the dining room.”

“Wow, that's a lot of work but it will be nice even after the wedding.

“True. But it's so different from my wedding.” Ida Rose said. And then after looking around added, “I guess all of our weddings,”

“Yeah, they really were a big event back then.” Martha Kerine added.

“Almost too much so.” Wanda Kay remarked. “My folks went all out for all three of the weddings and I know it had to be a financial burden.”

“Yeah, you and your sisters had very big weddings, but I think that was important to your folks. Remember, they eloped and didn't really have any celebration. If I remember right, neither set of their folks even supported their choice to get married.” Elsie Jean added.

“Your right about that, Elsie Jean. And although they were civil, neither set of my grandparents were overly happy when they visited. That's a shame. My folks were great and they really made something of their lives and their marriage. And they never said a negative word about either of their parents.” Wanda Kay shook her head as well a blinked away a few tears.

“So, back to Jenny's wedding, is there anything we can do to help?” Anna Mae asked.

“Well, I think the reception is going to be a light lunch of sorts, with a large buffet table and several small tables set around the back yard. We haven't set the menu yet, but when we do, I may ask for some help with the food.” Ida Rose responded.

“What about a wedding cake?” I asked.

“That's being done by a friend who is a baker and makes wedding cakes. That's a good thing because my wedding cake days are behind me.” Ida Rose sighed with relief.

“So, that leaves the, what did you call it, Ida Rose, a community event?” Martha Kerine asked.

“One of the ideas the publicity committee came up with was to have a contest to name the event. They decided to have the contest for the students at the schools only. It is one way to get the younger folks involved and excited. Oh, and they are going to have a small carnival staged in the park...in the center. Then all the rest of the celebrations will surround the carnival. Kind of like spokes on a wheel.  That way, if the parents want to only bring the kids to the carnival, they will have to travel through one of the other celebrations to get there.”

“Interesting idea.” I said.

“I heard that they are adding a couple of things like a craft show.” Wanda Kay said.

“Yes, there will be a craft show focusing on fall crafts, a baking contest to go along with the barbeque one. Oh, and the baking contest will be open to everyone. I think they are going to limit it to cakes and pies, but they may open it up to pickles.” Ida Rose smiled at that...

“Cake, pies and pickles. What a combination!” I said. “Anything else, Ida Rose?”

“Well, so far we have the carnival, the quilt show, the barbeque contest, the baking contest, the book fair and a craft show. What's missing?”

“Something to eat.” Anna Mae said laughing.

“Right, that will be set up in an area for food vendors only. And finally, farm wise, no animals, but there will be a vegetable contest. You know, who has the largest pumpkin, or the prettiest head of cabbage, etc. And along with that there will be vegetable stands. And finally, a place for the kids to do crafts. Things like face painting, making kites, etc.” Ida Rose finished.

“Won't the kids want to stay at the carnival?” Anna Mae asked.

“It's very small, with only seven rides and none of them tall or overly large. That's it. Nothing else. So I think that we need to provide more things for the kids like crafts and maybe some of those ring toss games, etc.” Ida Rose said.

“This sounds like a really big event. Has the quilt show committee got any reservations.” Martha Kerine asked.

“At the last meeting, they were really excited about it. And they were coming up with ideas to keep the quilts clean. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. And I think that we are going to have more folks than we've ever had see our creations.” Ida Rose said.

And with that Anna Mae got up and told the group that refreshments would be ready in five minutes. So we all began stopping our projects at convenient places.

“I do have a question, Ida Rose,” I said. “How are the covered picnic areas being divided up?”

“Well, we will get all the covered areas with electricity.” Ida Rose responded. “And as they are all centered in the newer part of the park, we will be holding the quilt show there. One nice thing about that is the meandering sidewalk. I think we can hang quilts on either side, far enough from sticky fingers but close enough for folks to have a good look.”

“We need to think of a catchy name for that area. Maybe part of the walk could be called a walk through history. I bet there are lots of antique quilts around. I have several myself. Then we could end the walk with our current quilts.” Anna Mae offered.

“That's a great idea, Anna Mae.” Wanda Kay said.

And with that we all got up and helped ourselves to the fabulous refreshments laid out on a very old serving table.

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!

Wanda Kay lives in a quiet community full of homes built around the end of the second World War with giant trees filling the yards. Most of the homes were small, some had been added to, others not. Wanda Kay's home was one that was left the same size.

She and her husband David wanted to save the space for a giant garden. And for years, the majority of the food they consumed was from their garden...lots of canning and, later on, freezing. I remember her saying that the garden is what kept them above water.

But now the kids were grown and had their own homes and families, and Wanda Kay was really bored. After years of working hard to keep everyone fed and in clothes plus the odd job here and there and, of course, all of her volunteer work, Wanda Kay found that she had far too much time on her hands.

I was the first to arrive and found Wanda Kay out on the patio.

“I thought we could meet out here today. It's such a beautiful day, and with fall coming, our days of sitting outside on the patio are numbered.”

“I totally agree with you Wanda Kay. But I have to say that I am looking forward to fall. It seems to get my blood racing. Of course, your idea about opening a store got everyone's blood racing...once we really digested what you said.”

“Yeah, I guess I really did drop a bomb at our last meeting. But I am really serious about it. I have been filling out the forms and getting all my ducks lined up in a row. I am looking at a winter opening, after Christmas.”

“If you opened up earlier, you may get some of that Christmas retail trade..”

“I do understand that but I don't think I can get everything together by that time. And I want to have a great opening, not a thrown together one. Also, remember, lots of us like to begin new projects in January.

"And I am also looking at including other things like craft supplies, yarn and a selection of books including fiction books focused on crafting and quilting and...well, I was wondering if you would be interested in something?”


“Well, I was thinking that a coffee/tea bar would be a nice addition. Folks would be able to have some culinary treats along with something to drink. I was planning on having an area for folks to just sit and work on their projects. So having a way to get something to drink and maybe a few items to eat would be really nice. What do you think? Are you interested?”

“Well, that's an interesting proposition. I'm not sure if I would be able to be there all the time. I am still writing the articles for the local paper as well as teaching workshops. Wait a minute, would you host workshops and classes?”

“Absolutely! I want to offer a whole slew of courses...on a lot of things, still focusing on quilting, but making sure there are things for non-quilters to get excited about.”

“Well, I would have to look at the city requirements for a coffee/tea operation. And, I would not be able to be there all the time, so we would have to look into different staffing possibilities. But I have to say that the idea is intriguing. Of course, we'd have to get someone else to make the munchies.”

Martha Kerine and Elsie Jean strolled into the patio as Wanda Kay and I were talking.

“It is beautiful out here today,” Martha Kerine said. “I'm happy that we can work outside...as long as there are no fly-by bird droppings!”

“Well, I'll see if I can shoo all the birds in another direction, Martha Kerine.” Wanda Kay replied laughingly.

“So, Wanda Kay,” Elsie Jean began, “Are you really serious about opening a store?”

“I sure am, Elsie Jean. Gert and I have been talking about it and I think I have talked her into at least considering opening a coffee/tea bar in it. And Martha Kerine, I was hoping that you might be able to help with the food part of the coffee/tea bar? Maybe the two of you would take over that part of the store.”

“Really!” Martha Kerine almost shouted. “You are planning a coffee/tea bar with food! Hmmm. Wonder if the Swedish coffee would go over. Or, how about cold brew coffee? Lots of folks are drinking that over hot brewed...and liking it better.”

“Well,” I said to Martha Kerine, “with both of us handling it, there'd be a chance of it surviving better than if I did it on my own. My culinary skills are less than adequate!”

“I think you're right there, Gert.” Martha Kerine laughed. “But you know what, it would be nice to try out new baking recipes. And as it's not a cafe or anything, I probably wouldn't have to bake a tremendous amount. We have to find out the particulars on food prep, though. Can you do that Wanda Kay?

“Definitely. I want this to be a success which means making sure everything is on the up and up.

“And that brings me to another proposition for you, Elsie Jean? I remember that you did the bookkeeping in the real estate office that Charles Swenson opened up many years ago. Would you be interested in helping me with the bookkeeping?”

“Ah...well...that was a long time ago, Wanda Kay. I'm not sure if I would be able to do that sort of thing now. But it is an interesting idea...” Elsie Jean answered.

“Well,” Wanda Kay said, “We could learn it together. I'm not too sure about all the record keeping aspect of it myself. The Small Business Bureau does offer classes in that area. We could take them together, Elsie Jean.”

“You know what, Wanda Kay,” Elsie Jean replied, “It would get me out of the house a bit more. I have become a bit of a recluse, staying home and not getting out as much as I used to. Carl even mentioned that a couple weeks ago. " (Carl is Elsie Jean's husband.) After a few minutes, Elsie Jean finally spoke up, "I have decided that I will help you with bookkeeping and I'll even go to the classes with you.”

Elsie Jean shook her head up and down to emphasize her answer and sat down punctuating her answer. Then she began to smile and her demeanor changed to that bubbly, enthusiastic person we all knew so well but had been missing of late.

“Well, Wanda Kay,” I said. “I think this shop idea of yours has legs and is taking off. Have you thought of a name for it?"

“Not yet, Gert” she said. “I was hoping all of you would help me come up with something catchy, kind of down home country but still sophisticated that let folks know all about it.”

“Well, you don't want much in a name, do you?” Martha Kerine laughed. “Guess we will need to put our heads together to come up with that type of a name.”

“Who needs a name?” Anna Mae asked as she approached the patio with Ida Rose in tow.

“We were talking about Wanda Kay's store name.” I answered.

“What, are you really serious about opening a store, Wanda Kay?” Ida Rose asked with a look of astonishment, kind of like a cat with big saucer eyes looking at a dog who was ready to pounce.

“Yes, Ida Rose, I am going to open a store. And I was hoping all of you would help in one way or another.” Wanda Kay answered. “Of course, I know your hands are full right now Ida Rose what with the Fall Festival and Jenny's wedding. But later on I was hoping you would teach some classes. Gert and Martha Kerine are going to work on a refreshment bar. Elsie Jean is going to help with record keeping.

“You seem to have this all planned out, Wanda Kay.” Anna Mae said. “Anything I can do to help out?”

“Definitely, Anna Mae.” Wanda Kay said. “I need your help in putting together the inventory. I remember that you and your husband had a store on Brook Street.”

“That was a long time ago, Wanda Kay. Things are a lot different.” Anna Mae responded.

“True, but you are the only one here with any real retail experience. And I know you are fantastic with fabrics. You are always telling us about new lines of fabric and whether they are any good or not. I really hope you can help me out with that, Anna Mae.” Wanda Kay added.

“Well, it certainly would be an interesting diversion. I think I can find some time to help you out with that. I guess that means, count me in.” Anna Mae answered.

“Okay, everyone, enough store talk.” Wanda Kay said. “Let's quilt and while we are, Ida Rose tell us how the wedding plans are coming.”

“Oh boy, from the sublime to the ridIculous.” Ida Rose began. We all looked at her with questions written on our faces.

“Well, first of all, Daniel is getting all these ideas for the backyard wedding like a new patio with a permanent archway to a small area with a water feature. Then he wants to set up fancy seating along the fence...permanent, fancy seating! I mean, he is going crazy with plans. And now he wants to add a sliding door to the dining room so that Jenny can enter the backyard that way. I mean, his list is getting bigger and bigger. And neither Jenny nor I can get him to stop.” Ida Rose was out of breath when she finished.

“Wow, quiet Daniel is going all ballistic with wedding plans. Who knew?” I said, smiling.

“Right, who knew? I thought it was the bride and mother of the bride that went crazy...not the father of the bride.” Ida Rose answered.

“Well, at least you and Jenny came up with a really nice buffet menu.” Martha Kerine added. “And I have all the dishes assigned. So the buffet is well in hand, Ida Rose. And with Gert's artistic flair, the buffet will be set up beautifully. That's one thing to cross off your list.”

“And I am very grateful for that, as is Jenny.” Ida Rose thanked Martha Kerine. “And Jenny has finished her wedding dress. It truly is very striking in it's simplicity. I love it.”

“So, how about the wedding cake?” I asked.

“Well, Jenny and I have settled on the type of cake and frosting.” Ida Rose answered. “She wants a simple cake but I want to take a cue from the wedding quilt and decorate it with roses using the same color pallet."

“You could surprise her and just not tell her about the decorations.” I added.

“That's what I am planning on doing, at this point.” Ida Rose said.

We all settled down to do a bit of quilting. Anna Mae was quilting the areas around the flowers for Jenny's wedding quilt. The rest of us were working on our own projects. It seemed like just a few minutes later when Wanda Kay announced that refreshments were ready in the dining room. In reality, it was almost two hours later. So we all begin to put away our things.

“Finished!” Anna Mae exclaimed. “The quilting around the flowers for Jenny's quilt is done. Finito. Finished.”

All of us clapped and then Anna Mae and Elsie Jean held up the quilt.

“Oh, it is so gorgeous. Ida Rose, your plan is exquisite.” I said.

“It does look beautiful...just like Jenny.” Ida Rose said as tears began flowing.

Anna Me and Elsie Jean took down the quilt and all of us went over to Ida Rose for a great big group hug. One of our little ones was growing up and leaving the nest. Good times. Happy times. And sad times. The last to leave. The end of an era. At least for our little group!

“I think this calls for something stronger than coffee, ladies. Come on in. I have a bottle of wine I've been saving for a special occasion and this is about as special as it gets.” Wanda Kay said through her tears. And with that we all went to enjoy a glass of very special wine.

I was sitting at Martha Kerine's kitchen table while she put the finishing touches on her desert. Ida Rose was coming early and the three of us were setting up Jenny's quilt for the final quilting. The applique work was done, the borders were on and with the quilting today, all that would be needed was to finish off the edges.

“I really glad that we are finishing up Jenny's quilt today.” I said. “Anne Mae said she would finish the edging so that Ida Rose wouldn't have to worry about it.”

“I'm happy for Jenny,” Martha Kerine said as she sat down. “But I know that it will be bitter sweet for Ida Rose, actually, for all of us. Just think of all the weddings we have worked on. Jenny's will be the last.”

“Not really, Martha Kerine.” I said. “It won't be long before the next generation of weddings will begin.”

“Well, with today's youth, who knows when or if that will be. But, you know, in some ways, I think that they are smart. Just think of how we wound up getting married. And how inexperienced we all were. We really weren't at all ready for marriage. Our heads were in the clouds being fed the fantasy of life after the wedding. I sometimes wonder how all of us managed to make it work.”

“I guess perseverance. We didn't know any better. Nor was there any real options for us at the time.” I said with a sigh. “But, you know, I wouldn't really change anything. Would you?”

“Well, now that you mention it, I guess not. Oh, I would have liked a more realistic picture of what life would be like. But then, knowing in advance all the ups and downs may not be the best either.”

“Hi guys,” Ida Rose said as she walked into the kitchen. “Last push to finish quilting today. I will be happy to have it done. But with Anna Mae finishing up the edges, well, I am kind of worried.”

“Don't be.” Martha Kerine said. “She's already let us know that she will be extra careful with her stitches. And when she wants to, she does an excellent job.”

Ida Rose smiled as the three of us took the quilt and placed it on the quilt frame for the last time. The center of the quilt with all the applique was already quilted. All that needed doing now was the border and Ida Rose had already marked the quilting lines so finishing it up was a cinch.

“So, what do you think of Wanda Kay's shop idea?” Martha Kerine asked.

“Well, until the wedding and the fall festival are both memories, I really can't comprehend another major idea.” Ida Rose said.

“I can understand that, Ida Rose. But you know, the more I think about it, the better the idea sounds. Just think about all the quilters who have to travel so far for a fabric fix. I do order online but it would be so much better if I could actually see and feel the fabric.” I said.

Wanda Kay and Anna Mae entered the room while I was talking.

“And,” Wanda Kay added, “If I have other craft supplies there, especially yarn, I think the store will have an excellent chance of succeeding. I have been talking to the 'yarn ladies' who gather at the library about what type of yarn they would be interested in. Guess what? It's just like us quilters. Everything from less expensive for beginners to better quality for folks who cherish what they make."

“That's a lot of inventory, though.” Anna Mae offered.

“You know, Anna Mae, you're right.” Wanda Kay answered. “But I really am not looking at a bare bones store. I think if I have large enough inventory, folks won't become disappointed. But if they can't find what they want, I am going to offer the service to order it.”

“Sounds like you have your bases covered, Wanda Kay.” Ida Rose replied.

"Sure have," Wanda Kay started, "and that includes some mystery books. Do you know how many fiction books there are about quilting...not too mention, scrapbooking, weaving, knitting?"

"Are you planning on keeping a lot of books also?" I asked.

"Enough for folks to enjoy browsing through."

"Is this going to be a one stop shop for crafts, books and coffee?" Ida Rose asked.

"You know, Ida Rose, I'd like it to be a gathering place for crafters where they can relax and do their crafty thing with friends, enjoy some coffee or tea and maybe a scone or cookie, as well as have all the supplies they need in one spot. I want them to be able to try out new things as well. One of my ideas is to have a day, maybe once a month, when folks can drop in and try several new projects for a nominal fee."

"You know, that's a great idea," Ida Rose added, "because I would never have become a quilter if I hadn't given it a try at one of the guild quilt shows several years ago. I've always wanted to give spinning a try...the yarn type, not the bicycle type. I bet there are other folks who want to try new things...or new to them things."

"You'd be surprised at how many of my friends are beginning to ask if I am going to include one thing or another. My next door neighbor asked me if I was going to include anything about drawing botanical artwork last week. So, now I am thinking that maybe I should include some supplies for drawing and painting.'

"You could wind up going down the rabbit hole if you don't watch it." I warned. "I think you should pull back a bit and think about what really interests you and go from there."

"You're right, Gert. I realize that if I added everything that folks have asked about, I would need a warehouse. Right now, I am focusing on keeping things for fabric and yarn crafts well stocked along with some mystery books and the coffee bar. But, I am also considering that I may add a small area with miscellaneous supplies for other crafts. Still everything is in the planning stage."

"How about the location? Are you still looking at the old bank building?" Martha Kerine asked.

"No," Wanda Kay answered with a sigh, "It's not available anymore. The clinic has signed a lease and the modifications are already underway. So now I am looking at the old drug store. In some ways I like it better because it has a large window for display. The floor space is also much bigger so I would be able to have a gathering area. The really great thing is the rent is cheaper than the bank and I don't think I would have to do much in the way of modifications."

"Well, if we're all going to be involved in this little venture, I suspect that we will have to include planning on our agenda from now on." Anna Mae mused. "We may have to give ourselves a new name..."

"Knowing you, Anna Mae, I can see that you want all the bases covered..." Martha Kerine added.

“Speaking of bases covered, Ida Rose, how are the wedding plans coming?” Wanda Kay asked.

“Well, I think we have finally talked Daniel out of most of his projects. He is still set on putting a sliding door in the dining room. And, he is going to build a water feature. But he does see the benefit of not have permanent seating and not redoing the patio nor erecting a permanent archway, thank goodness.” Ida Rose answered. “Martha Kerine has the buffet all set and Gertie has come up with the table decorations. All the dresses are sewn. The flowers are ordered. The invitations sent out. So, all that's really left is the cake and it's too early to start on that. And if we finish quilting Jenny's quilt today, well, all that's left Anna Mae is doing. So I guess it's all in hand.”

“That's great news, Ida Rose,” Wanda Kay said. “I always gave a big sigh of relief when things were basically in the can.”

“I know what you mean Wanda Kay.” Anna Mae remarked. “Once the plans were decided upon and finished, it was like a heavy object was lifted from my shoulders.”

“How about the fall festival. Ida Rose?” I asked.

“Well, all the publicity is done. The brochures were distributed, the radio and tv interviews have been taped, the raffle quilt is making the rounds to the other guilds and business groups. So, my part, thank goodness, is done.” Ida Rose responded.

Elsie Jean walked into the room. “Hi all. Are you talking about the fall festival?”

“Yes, we were, Elsie Jean.” Martha Kerine answered.

“Well, I have the latest information from the guild,” Elsie Jean added. “and it looks like things are working out with the exception of a few of the classes. But, I think they will be worked out soon. Instead of using the covered picnic areas, the Grange has offered their space for classes. Free! Since it's right across the street from the park, it won't be a hassle getting there and back. The hangup was going from two days of classes to one day. I think they have it almost worked out. If you've never been in the building it has four separate rooms plus the big main room which can accommodate two separate classes so the two all day classes will be held in the main room. The rest of the classes will use the four separate room.”

“Wow, I wonder what struck the Grange to make that offer?” I asked.

“Well, I guess free is not exactly true. They want us to make a quilt to hang in their main room. Something to do with farming in the area.” Elsie Jean replied.

“Well,” Martha Kerine added, “that's not a bad deal. Just think, we will have another opportunity to advertise our guild.”

“True!” Elsie Jean continued, “That's what the guild officers thought. I think they will be asking each of us to create a farming scene block. The blocks will be different sizes so the fun will be to put it together.”

“I like the idea of farming,” I said. “And different sizes will make the quilt stand out.”

When the conversation died down, we all trooped into Martha Kerine's living room to finish up the quilting on Jenny's quilt. We were so absorbed in finishing up the borders that when Martha Kerine announced that refreshments were ready, it took us by surprise.

“Wow,” Martha Kerine went on, “when you're all are concentrating hard, I can – and did – hear a pin drop. Gert, I think it's somewhere by your chair.”

“Thanks, Martha Kerine,” I said. “I'll find it. How's everyone doing? This side is all done. I can help anyone out to finish.”

“Looking around,” Martha Kerine continued, “I think everyone is finishing up. As soon as Wanda Kay finishes off and hides her thread, I think we can say that the quilting is done.”

“I can't thank you enough,” Ida Rose cried. “It looks so beautiful. And without you all, it would heve never been completed in time for the wedding. Thank you all again so much...”

We all smiled at Ida Rose, many with a tear or two in our eyes. And with that Martha Kerine shooed us into her kitchen to try out her latest concoction. Something to do with chocolate, caramel, coffee and cream...what's not to like about that combination. Well, maybe the chocolate, only for Gert, that is!!!

Ida Rose was looking around, checking to make sure that the room was ready for the quilt group. Feeling that everything was in fine shape, including the buffet of left-overs from the wedding, she sat down with a plop, sighing and smiling at the same time.

“Have you survived?” I asked, entering the room.

“Yes I have. In some ways, it seems like a faded memory and in others, like it happened, well, just yesterday.” she replied.

“Well. Ida Rose, in case you've left the building, it was just yesterday!”

Ida Rose laughed and shook her head. “Yes, it was just yesterday. It was a beautiful, simple wedding.”

“It certainly was, Ida Rose.” Martha Kerine said as she entered the room.

“I've set up the buffet table with left-overs for us today. I figured that we could just help ourselves whenever the desire for munchies hit. Lord knows, Martha Kerine, you managed to bring enough food to feed an army.” Ida Rose replied.

“Well, I didn't want anyone to go away hungry.” Martha Kerine countered.

“Oh, Ida Rose, Jenny's wedding was beautiful.” Wanda Kay said as she bent over to hug Ida Rose. “That simple princess style gown of embroidered satin was gorgeous. I'll have to ask Jenny to give sewing lessons at the store. That's not an easy fabric to sew with and I bet there are others who would like to make their own wedding dress.”

“That's an excellent idea, Wanda Kay.” Elsie Jean said as she too hugged Ida Rose. Looking around she added, “I figured we would be helping you clean up everything, Ida Rose, but it looks like it's all done.”

“Well,” Ida Rose began, “I knew I would be tired so I hired some high school students to help put it all back together. Money well spent, I must say. They really worked hard and the place was in order within four hours and that included the dishes washed, the furniture put back and the back yard cleaned up.”

“Where did Jenny go on the honeymoon?” I asked. “Any ideas?”

“Yes, they went to the shore. But I don't know any of the particulars.” Ida Rose responded.

“Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I'm hungry so I'm going to get something to eat.” Wanda Kay said to no one in particular.

“Munchies hit already, huh, Wanda Kay?” I asked as I joined her to fill up my own plate of food.

Anna Mae walked in as all of us decided that the munchies had hit. “I see we're already at the feeding trough” she said, laughingly, as she put down her quilting bag and joined us. “I don't blame you. I had a couple platefuls yesterday at the wedding and still didn't get to taste it all.”

“Hello, Anna Mae,” Ida Rose welcomed. “I think most of us will be grazing today. At least I hope so.  Like I said, Martha Kerine had enough food to feed an army so there's lots left.”

We all filled up our plates, got something to drink and found a place to sit down and enjoy the bounty.  None of us reached for our quilt bags!

“So who set up your music, Ida Rose? It was just perfect. I loved the piece that Jenny walked into the garden with. By the way, Daniel's idea about the sliding door in the dining room was a great one.” I said.

“I'm not sure which part but the actual wedding music was from Four Seasons by Vivaldi. The background music was a mix. Actually, one of Anton's high school seniors (Jenny's husband Anton was a high school teacher.) set up and took care of the music for the entire wedding. He had speakers tucked all around the yard and the house. How he managed to hid the wires is beyond me.”

“Maybe they were blue-tooth and didn't require wires.” I said.

“Blue what?” Anna Mae asked.

“It has to do with electronics, Anna Mae,” I replied.

“Well, leave me out of it then. I can just about manage my smart phone at this point.” she shook her head as she took another bite of food.

“Jenny really wanted a do it yourself, small, simple wedding and I think she got exactly that...” Ida Rose replied.

“She did with the added bonus that it was a beautiful wedding.” Elsie Jean added.

We all shook our heads in affirmation as we quickly emptied our plates. Ida Rose was right. Martha Kerine did arrange for enough food to feed an army. And, it was really, really good food. You could call it down home cooking with a special twist...kind of what one would do when serving to guests.

Anna Mae finally spoke up, “Well, how did Jenny like her quilt?”

“She cried.” Ida Rose said after swallowing a mouthful of Waldorf Salad. “She knew all of you helped me create and make the quilt and that made it even more special. She asked me to thank you today promising that she would get in touch with each of you when she got back. Maybe she'll even join us quilting.”

“That would be very special.” Anna Mae answered.

“Oh, the cake, Ida Rose. How did you hide it from Jenny? If I didn't know better, I would have said you took part of the quilt and made it into a cake. It was absolutely perfect. The flowers were not only just like the quilt but they were the same color.” Elsie Jean exclaimed.

“Making it wasn't too bad. It all came back to me...kind of like muscle memory. But hiding it from Jenny was another thing. Every time she wanted to see how it was coming, I had to come up with an excuse. I think she finally got the hint and stopped asking. But, you all remember how surprised she was when she saw it.”

“I don't think her smile could have gotten any wider when she saw it, Ida Rose.” I said. “And when she ran over to give you a big hug, I think all of us were in tears then.”

“I had tears all through the wedding and afterwards,” Anna Mae said softly. “It was like a beautiful ending to a wonderful life...”

“Ending? Anna Mae?” Wanda Kay asked.

“You know, our little group's last child.” Anna Mae replied. “We've each been there for all the children's wedding and Jenny's marks the last one.” Anna Mae then added laughingly, “Unless, one of you is expecting!”

“Well, you're right, Anna Mae,” Martha Kerine continued, “Jenny is the last wedding for our children. But, as Gert said, the next round will be our grandchildren. So, I think our weddings will continue and knowing us, we will be in the thick of things.”

By this time, all of us had gotten up and refilled our plates with more food from the buffet.

“It's a good thing I decided not to worry about my diet today.” Wanda Kay exclaimed. “If I didn't know better, I would think that you made sure all the food was fabulous just to ruin our waistlines, Martha Kerine.”

“So whose dieting? Aren't those day's over” Ida Rose asked.

“Speak for yourself, Ida Rose. I'm still trying to get rid of the weight from my first child.” Elsie Jean laughed.

“That was a few years ago, right Elsie Jean?” I asked practically choking on my last bit of food from laughing so hard.

“Oh a decade or so, give or take a couple.” Elsie Jean laughed.

“Martha Kerine, this salad is wonderful. Who made it and can I get the recipe?” Ida Rose asked.

“I made it myself, Ida Rose.” Martha Kerine replied. “I can't quite remember the whole recipe, I'll have to look it up and send a copy to you. I think the fact that I roasted the nuts made a big difference as well as finding really sweet seedless grapes. I also used mandarin oranges as well as fresh pineapple.”

“I want the recipe also, Martha Kerine.” I added. “You may as well bring it to the next meeting for all of us. This is one salad I will be making on a regular basis.”

We all shook our heads in agreement. “Okay, I'll bring it with me next time...enough copies for all of you.” Martha Kerine replied.

“And I will bring the pictures of the wedding with me.” Ida Rose added.

“That would be great, Ida Rose. A nice addition to our quilting.” I said. “Changing subjects, how are the plans coming for the Fall Festival?”

Elsie Jean responded, “All the classes are worked out, thanks to the Grange. The committee to hang the quilts has borrowed several large tents to display the quilts in. That way, if it does rain a bit, those quilts will be protected. But, they are also going to line the walkway using quilts with permission to do so. I am giving them permission to display one of my quilts on the sidewalk but two of them I want under the tents. Right now they are looking for quilts to line the sidewalk with.”

“I sure don't mind a couple of mine lining the sidewalk.” Anna Mae said. “A little rain won't hurt them. But have they decided how to keep little hands off the quilts?”

“Yes,” Elsie Jean answered. “They are going to post quilters every ten feet. That way they can also answer questions as well as hold up the quilts for folks to take a closer look.”

“That's right,” I said. “I have volunteered to work on the sidewalk area for a couple two hour sessions. And I have two quilts available for display on the sidewalk area. I think that we have enough to line the entire sidewalk from the parking lot to the bandstand in the center area.”

“Are all the groups ready to set up?” Martha Kerine asked.

“Yep, including the carnival rides.” Elsie Jean answered. “I really think this is going to be an annual affair, if the crowds come out. Everyone is looking forward to a successful event. And with the added draw, I think everyone will make enough to come out on top. I know we are only asking for donations, but I think most folks won't mind contributing a few bucks. We will have donation places set up in several areas so they can't be missed.”

“Be sure to have someone watching the donation buckets.” Anna Mae suggested.

“Don't worry, we have folks assigned to hand out information as well as watch the donation baskets.” Elsie Jean replied.

Every single quilter got up once again and filled their plates. No one. Absolutely no one opened up their quilt bags to work on quilting projects. A first for our little group. But it was a nice change of pace as we all took our places and continued chatting. You have to do that sometimes. But you all know that yourselves. So I guess I am preaching to the choir.


“Did you hear how much we made at the Fall Festival?” Ida Rose asked over the individual conversations as the women were relating their stories about the Fall Festival to each other.

“Did you see the little boy fall into one of the quilts...”

“My grandchild rode a carnival ride for the first time...”

“I didn't know how easy it was to make those kaleidoscope patterns...”

“Did anyone try Elsie Jean's new pie recipe...I heard it was a winner...”

“I don't think there was any time that we didn't have at least 25 people looking at all our quilts...”

“My bones ached for a week...”

“I think over thirty folks signed up to get information about our guild...”

“That was the best bar-b-que I have ever eaten...wonder how they made the sauce...”

“I'll ask again, does anyone know how much we made at the Fall Festival?” Ida Rose asked again, this time a lot louder.

“I'm not sure of the exact amount, be we got enough donations to cover all our expenses and still have money left over.” Anna Mae answered. “And everyone was happy about the number of folks interested in joining our guild.”

“I think this turned out to be better than having our quilt show alone.” Wanda Kay added. “And I was able to hand out cards about the opening of the shop. A lot of women were happy to have a local place to get fabric and yarn.”

“I heard that from several folks also” I said. “So, I guess that's going to be our next project, huh?”

“Yep” Wanda Kay replied. “I think the first thing we need to do is finish getting the papers in order and checking out our local regulations. Once that is done, we need to get the shop ready which means rolling up our sleeves and getting dirty. There's a lot of cleaning, painting, building shelves, etc., etc.,etc! I wonder now if a January opening was too hopeful.”

“We will all pitch in, Wanda Kay,” I said, “and each of us can check out things on our own. For instance, I will check out the regulations for having the coffee/tea bar.”

“And I can work with Gert” Martha Kerine added, “and check out the food regulations and requirements.”

“Have you decided on the different areas of items you want to stock?” Anna Mae asked.

“Well, mostly quilting and fabric,” Wanda Kay answered, “but several ladies asked about yarn, so I want to add that area. So that's two - quilting/sewing and crocheting/knitting. But I think we need to have some general craft supplies, and maybe a children's craft area. What do you guys think about other crafts like scrapbooking or jewelry making? I'm not really into either but, again, several folks asked if those supplies would be available...and then there's embroidery and journaling and...”

“Hold on, Wanda Kay,” Anna Mae interjected. “We don't need to have everything for everyone. I think we should stick mainly to fabric and yarn and embroidery crafts to begin with. We can add a small section of general craft supplies with a little of everything, but I do mean small. And I do like the idea of having something for children. The very first thing we need to do is see what type of inventory that shop that's going out of business has and go from there to fill in any holes there are in the the inventory. Then we can see what type of demand is out there. I hope you still want to have a small book area that includes both how-to books as well as some mysteries.”

“Believe it or not,” Wanda Kay said, somewhat relieved, “I am happy that you're there to rein me in, Anna Mae. I was getting overwhelmed with everything. I mean, the number of fabric lines alone are enough to make me dizzy! And yes, I want to have a book section. Some suggested that maybe we could also have some magazines. What do you think?”

“I think we should take Anna Mae's advice and start out small, Wanda Kay.” I answered. “I was wondering how expensive our inventory should be? Seasoned sewers and knitters will want the better quality, but people new to either may want the less expensive stock.

“Start small and build inventory,” Anna Mae added. “But a variety of quality is also a good idea. I'm not talking about the cheapest of everything, but say we have someone interested in knitting. Are they going to want to spend $49 on a skien of hand dyed, hand carded wool? Probably not, so we should carry some less expensive.”

“So, when are we signing the incorporation papers?” Ida Rose asked.

“Carl's brother is drawing up the papers for us this week.” Elsie Jean answered. “He isn't going to charge us anything except the registration fees. So, at our next meeting, we can celebrate our new project by signing the papers.”

“That sounds great!” Ida Rose said. “Who knew I would be part-owner of a fabric and craft shop?”

“So are we definitely going with the old bank building, or is there any other place to consider.” I asked.

“I haven't found any other spaces.” Wanda Kay answered. “But if any of you know of an available space, we could go and look at it.”

“There is that old school building out on route 9 but it may be a bit out of the way.” Martha Kerine said. “And I'm not sure what type of condition it's in. Other than that, I don't know of any other commercial space available in the area.”

“Well, I like the bank building because it is in town and easy for everyone to get to.” I added.

“Tell you what,” Wanda Kay suggested. “Let's take a good look at both places, compare prices and conditions and then make our decision.”

“That's a good idea, Wanda Kay.” Elsie Jean responded. “How about this coming Saturday. We can get the keys to both places and check them out.”

“And I think if I bring Daniel along, he can help us with the conditions of each building.” Ida Rose added.

“That is an excellent idea, Ida Rose.” I said. “I'm not too sure what to look for when judging the condition of a place. I imagine it's more than liking or disliking the paint color.”

“Oh, Gert, you're much more of a handy person than anyone else here.” Wanda Kay responded.

“So, who is going to check out the store that's going out of business?” I asked.

“I thought that Anna Mae and I would drive over and take a look, that is if you have the time Anna Mae.” Wanda Kay answered.

“How about tomorrow?” Anna Mae asked.

“Sounds good to me.” Wanda Kay said.

“I will check out the computer programs to see which would be best for our business.” Elsie Jean volunteered.

“I guess I'm the odd person out.” Ida Rose said. “Is there anything I can do, Wanda Kay?”

“Yes, I was hoping you would check around to see if there are folks who can teach. Maybe crocheting, knitting, something for children...and, of course, quilting.” Wanda Kay answered.

“Sure, I know quite a few folks who would be great teachers.” Ida Rose replied.

“Well, I guess that's it for today...how about lunch...and maybe some quilting afterwards.” Martha Kerine suggested.

“I have lunch already and, yes, it would be a good idea to do some quilting.” I said but thinking to myself that this was almost too easy and whenever I felt that...things had a habit of going awry.

Little did I know about the mystery that was going to fall into our laps. Stay tuned...


A little information is needed before the meeting. I, along with Elsie Jean, Ida Rose and Daniel did go and check out both the old bank building and the old school building on Route 9 and to our utter dismay, neither was acceptable.

The old school building had so many problems from carpenter ants, to water damage to...well, you just name it and it was there. To be fair, the building had stood empty for several years and it showed. All of us were a little sad, but to be honest, I was the least sad because I thought that a building in town would be better all around.

Unfortunately, the bank building appeared to have way too many problems also. The basement had been flooded and the smell was rank and mold was developing. Daniel wasn't too sure that we would be able to get rid of it without a thorough gut job...in the basement!!! And that would leave little money, if any, to remodel the upstairs.

The four of us, sat at the Ye Old Diner drinking coffee, looking like the world had come to an end. Poor Daniel, he felt the worse because he didn't want to dampen our dreams, especially those of his wife, Ida Rose; but, as he said, both would have been money pits into which we would sink all our funds with little gain.

While we were sitting there, the owner of the diner who also cooked and waited on folks stopped by to refill our coffee cups. She asked why we were looking like we had lost our best friend and we told her about the buildings.

She stopped us quickly and said that she knew of a place that was up for sale and that it just might fit the bill. There was a problem, though...

“Hi, Anna Mae”, I said as I stepped onto the front porch. “Let's meet out here, the smell from the flowers is wonderful and the sun is warming up the place.”

“I was planning on doing just that.” Anna Mae replied as she brought out a tray with a very large pitcher of sun tea and several glasses. “I thought a bit of tea would quench everyone's thirst.” she said as she set the tray down on one of the many wicker tables gracing her porch. “So, how did the trip to the buildings go? Which one are the four of you recommending?”

“I hate to say this, but neither.”

“What? We need one of those buildings to open a store in, Gert.”

“Not if they cost us an arm and a leg to get ready to use.”

“Were they in that bad of shape?”


“What's worse?” Wanda Kay asked as she stepped onto the porch.

“Well,” I said, “it looks like both buildings were in much worse shape than any of us thought. Daniel said that it would cost way too much to bring either up to code.”

Wanda Kay sat down with a thud. “Geez, I never even considered that neither of the buildings were useable for us. Granted, I didn't hold out much hope for the old school building, but I thought the bank was perfect.” She let out a loud sigh. “What are we going to do?”

“Well, not all is lost. There is a solution, but one which may present a problem.” I answered.

“Problem? Problem? What problem? Martha Kerine asked as she too stepped onto the porch and took a seat on the swing.

“Well, Martha Kerine, it seems like we have no place for a store.” Wanda Kay answered.

“That's not exactly true,” I said. “There is a solution but one which all of us need to hear about and make our decision.”

Ida Rose and Elsie Jean talking between themselves ambled up the walkway to the porch.

“Hi everyone” Ida Rose said. She then looked at me and asked. “Have you told them yet?”

“Well,” I said, “I told them that both the bank and the old school house were out of the running but I haven't said anything about the other option.”

“You may as well let them know what we are thinking.” Elsie Jean remarked. “”They need to be in on the decision and need to know what the problem is.”

“This isn't sounding too good.” Anna Mae interjected.

“It's not really bad, Anna Mae. At least in some respect. But it could present a problem, I guess.” Elsie Jean replied.

“Okay, okay, I'm going to go crazy if you don't let us in on the problem. My dreams are looking pretty faded right now and I'm worried especially since Anna Mae and I just purchased the entire inventory of the shop that was going out of business.” Wanda Kay said loudly. “I'm sorry, I just...well, it's just that...”

“That's okay Wanda Kay. We all understand your concern. So, Gert, spill the beans...now.” Anna Mae said somewhat softly.

“Okay,” I said. “It happened like this. The four of us, Elsie Jean, Ida Rose, myself and Daniel, were having coffee in the Ye Old Diner when Becky stopped off at our table asking what was wrong. We told her about the problems with both the buildings. She informed us that there was another place for sale which might fit the bill but that it did come with a problem. When she told us what it was, the four of us went to check out the building with the realtor first to see if it was viable alternative. It was...is...but...but again, there was that problem.”

“What problem are you talking about, Gert?” Wanda Kay pleaded.

“It's the Franklin House.” I said and everyone suddenly became very quiet.

“The Franklin House?” Martha Kerine squeaked out. “But that's where...”

“Yep.” I said. “That's where the murder and suicide of Johnathan and Edward took place back in the 1990's.”

“But no one has lived in it since then. Certainly the house can't be in any better shape than the old school house or the bank.” Anna Mae suggested.

“Well,” Ida Rose responded. “The four of us plus the realtor checked out the house and it was in pretty good shape. Apparently, the maintenance on the house continued even after all that awful business. It needs a good cleaning and some electrical upgrades and maybe a bit of painting. But, all-in-all, it is in great shape.”

Everyone sat quietly each trying to come to terms with the idea of a quilt shop in the Franklin House.

“Do you think anyone will come to the store if it's in the Franklin House?” Elsie Jean asked.

“I truly don't know.” Wanda Kay replied.

“Well, it has been a couple decades since the tragic events,” Anna Mae suggested. “And many folks will not know about it and those that do may not even remember everything.”

“You know,” Ida Rose blurted out, “We could use it to our advantage.”

“What?” Wanda Kay exclaimed. “What advantage?”

“Well, let's face it, folks like a good mystery. And no one's really solved the question of why? Since we are going to carry mystery books, maybe we could advertise something like 'Get your mystery books in the mystery house' or something like that...

“You do remember, Ida Rose, that this is a quilt store with a book nook added...not a mystery book story with a quilting nook!” Wanda Kay inquired.

“She may be on to something, Wanda Kay.” I said. “We could use it to our advantage, in a respectful way.”

“How, is what I would like to know?” Wanda Kay said quietly.

“Tell you what, let's think about it while we have some sun tea and munchies.” Anna Mae said as she got up. “Help me bring out the munchies, Gert.”

And so the six of us sat quietly, drinking the sun tea and eating our way through all the munchies that Anna Mae brought out. You really could hear a pin drop.

Finally, Wanda Kay spoke up...

“Well, I think that everyone has had the time to digest the idea of our store in the Franklin House. I have to admit, the house is a beautiful, old, stately manor with many advantages. And apparently we can afford not only to purchase it but fix it up properly for a store. Even with the tragic history, I think we should make a decision now. Should we purchase it and go ahead with the store or not? Since we will all be owners, and since it's a really big decision, I think we should decide unanimously. What do all of you think?”

Everyone shook their head yes...it should be unanimous.

“So, let's take a vote with a show of hands. Everyone in favor of purchasing the Franklin House and setting up shop raise their hand.” Wanda Kay quietly said.

There wasn't a hand down...