The Birdbath Quilt

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The next afternoon, as luck would have it, just as Edna and her mom strolled out onto their patio, who should be heading in their direction but Tony’s sister.

“Hello,” she said with a friendly smile, “I’m Adrianna. Tony suggested I come over to see you if I had any questions.”

Carole and Edna laughed. “That’s quite a coincidence. We were just coming to see you. I’m Edna and this is my daughter Carole. Would you like to sit in the shade here and we can have a good chat?”

“That sounds wonderful,” sighed Adrianna.

“How about some tea, everyone?” asked Carole.

“That sounds doubly wonderful—especially if it’s in a mug.”

“You betcha,” Carole replied with a grin. “How about you, Mom?”

“I sure would—especially in a mug.”

“Okay, tea in a mug it is.” And she hurried off to Edna’s kitchenette.

“Well, I must say, Edna ,you’ve certainly made an impression on Tony. In fact, he hasn’t been this animated since his wife passed away.”

Edna laughed a little self-consciously. “I think Tony and I have found a common topic, given the conversations we’ve had. We both love gardening.”

“Ah, that will do it. Tony’s always loved creating not only beautiful gardens, but functional ones as well. In fact yesterday he was telling me about a combined fountain and birdbath he’d like to see installed in these gardens. I believe we both inherited an artistic gene. I studied fine arts at university and Tony studied architecture and landscaping. He always felt that a house must blend into the natural landscape.”

“My training led me to study fabrics and how they are used as an art form—particularly in wallhangings; however, I’m not an actual quilter; my husband is.”

“Who’s a quilter?” Carole asked as she came outdoors carrying a tray containing mugs, lemon slices, sugar and milk along with a plate of cookies.

“My husband.” Adrianna replied. “Before retirement, Bill had a career in engineering. Because he loves machines, we decided to pool our talents.  I thought it would be interesting to develop a small business which we call Memory Quilts. I design the quilts. Bill stitches the quilt pieces together on my sewing machine and then lays the quilt back, batting and quilt face on the table, ready for quilting on his Longarm quilting machine which he purchased second hand a couple of years ago.

“Getting started in this business has had its ups and downs but now we feel we’ve overcome most of the hurdles. But that’s enough about me because I think you have something else on your minds,” she said as she glance pointedly at each of us.

“Mom, why don’t you tell Adrianna what happened.”

Edna proceeded to brief Adrianna about the situation with the fountain birdbath quilt and how the quilting bee had hoped to auction the finished quilt to raise money for Tony’s proposed project.

When Edna finished, Adrianna said, “I’d certainly be honoured to help you with this generous project. Since Tony has been telling me about his idea, I’m sure there’d be no problem asking him if he’d like me to bring his sketches and photos to the hospital so he could show me what he has in mind. Besides,” she added with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, “I’d love to be part of the surprise when Tony sees the actual quilt.”

And we all laughed.

Adrianna, suddenly glanced at her watch. “Oh my goodness, I’d better hustle or visiting hours will be over before I arrive at the hospital. I can tell Tony is doing well because he’s showing increasing impatience to get back to his bungalow. I expect he’ll be coming home the day after tomorrow.”

“Thank you so much, Carole and Edna, for the tea and for giving me an opportunity to meet both of you. I’m sure we’ll see each other more frequently in the coming days, and please don’t hesitate to drop over if you need any other assistance with your project.”

After Adrianna left, Carole said, “I can’t wait to tell the others about meeting Tony’s sister. I think she could be a great help, don’t you?”

“A lot of fun, too,” chuckled Edna.

And so the next three weeks passed quickly. Edna had gathered photos from the keen birders at the residence. The quilting group found this very helpful as it provided them with the range of colours they required for each bird. They had planned on twelve blocks which would form the border around the fountain birdbath centerpiece. Adrianna was able to produce a coloured enlargement of Tony’s birdbath fountain design for the quilters. Each bird had been selected and both the birdbath fountain and the birds had been bonded to each block using a fusible applique method.

Everything was ready for the quilting.

Suddenly Freddie spoke. “What do you think of asking Adrianna if her husband, Bill, would be able to machine quilt this for us?”

“What!” Janice sputtered. “But we’ve never done this before. We’ve always hand-quilted.”

“I know we have, Janice, but given our time constraints, perhaps we should consider this.”

“I suggest we give Adrianna a call right now,” Loretta suggested. “At least we’ll know one way or another.”

“I think it would be considerate to also ask how much Bill would charge—if he’s prepared to take this on,” said Jean.

Just as Carole picked up the phone, her doorbell chimed.

“Guess who’s here,” Freddie announced glancing out the window. “It’s Adrianna.”

“Talk about amazing coincidences,” Carole replied as she hurried to open the door.

“Cmon in Adrianna, I was just going to phone you.”

Adrianna laughed. “This is truly serendipity. I wonder if our thoughts are also in sync?” she said as she entered the room. “I can only stay a minute, but I wanted to run this idea past you. I have been keeping Bill up to date on your wallhanging and why you volunteered to do it, so Bill asked me if he could make a get well contribution to his brother-in-law by offering to machine quilt it for you.”

We sat there flabbergasted.

Carole finally spoke. “Adrianna, this is a very generous offering. We haven’t as yet decided how we plan to quilt this, but all of us realize that if this is to be completed before the next monthly meeting of the residents in two weeks’ time, we really need to hustle.” Carole glanced around.

“If I may make a suggestion,” offered Loretta. “Why don’t we discuss this, then Carole will call you this evening and let you know our decision.”

“I think that’s an excellent suggestion,” Janice replied.

As Adrianna stood up to leave, everyone thanked her for her offer and Carole arranged a time to call her and let her know.

“Well, what do you think?” asked Carole, after Adrianna left.

Except for Janice, everyone was in agreement.

“Janice, would you be willing to take charge of how the wall-hanging would be quilted if we go ahead with this?” Carole asked.

“Well…I might be convinced if I could meet with Bill first. He’d certainly need to see the quilt top.”

“Definitely,” agreed Carole. “In fact, why don’t you and I go together to meet with Bill? After I talk to Adrianna tonight, I’ll call you and we can make arrangements.”


*     *     *

In 1995 I began a series of stories titled The Recorded Adventures of the Birds of a Feather Quilting Bee. A couple of these were published in The Canadian Quilter. Several stories were published in the discontinued Canada Quilts and many more of these quilting short stories were published in Canadian Stories.
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