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Circle of Friends

December 4, 2012

We have a varied group of women in our water aerobics class…paper crafters and artists, cooks and bakers, and seamstresses, some of whom are positively passionate about quilting.

Now, we’re not kids…a fair number of us are retired, while few others still hold jobs. There are snowbirds in our midst, most of whom have gone south by now while others linger…waiting to spend the holidays with family before beginning their annual migration. They’re the ones who look forward to the holidays for the usual reasons, as well as the anticipation of warmer climes offered by Florida, Texas and Arizona.

With our varied backgrounds, many things are talked about in class…everything from news headlines and television shows to politics, although, with the election behind us, that subject is thankfully waning. We like to be well informed and up to date on the latest issues, whatever they may be. We are lively, active women who embrace each day to the max.

And, many of us received the gift of creativity as we were knit together in our mother’s wombs…so during class, we compare recipes, sewing tips, and more. We need to make things. It is ingrained in us…part of our very fiber. For me, it’s not about productivity…it’s creativity, the ability, a need really, to make something beautiful, delicious, or even practical. Something that enriches life in some way.

Food is always a popular topic; a common link. We can’t survive without it…and our food conversations usually involve sugar in whatever form, caramel, fruit (generally combined with sugar and pastry) and sometimes chocolate. We have one classmate who tries to avoid chocolate, although, for the life of me, I can’t understand why…sugar and chocolate make such delightful partners. Occasionally, our conversation drifts to healthy food. Not often, mind you, but once in a while. At any rate, we can count on someone to bring up the subject early in the hour, right after the first of us has burned through our breakfast calories. Those conversations usually begin with ‘I found a recipe for_______. I’m going to try it this afternoon,’ or, ‘This recipe is to die for!’

But we don’t talk exclusively about food. We share stories of grandkids and pets. It seems we all have one or the other. Most of us are lucky enough to have both. And we regale each other with their antics.

The more creative among us like to make gifts; Sheila made nearly every one of her gifts this year! And, this was her year to drive thirteen hours to her daughter’s home in another state to celebrate Christmas early, on Thanksgiving, with her grandbabies. Her background in teaching helped keep her focused and on track, I’m sure. That, and the thought of seeing her grandkid’s faces as they opened their gifts.

With Christmas coming at us like a freight train on a fast track, we share ideas for streamlining projects; decorating and entertaining ideas, too. And money saving tips. We all appreciate a bargain.

We have one gifted quilter in among us, so when I made a ‘strip quilt’ from scraps too narrow to cut into a block, I just had to bring a photo for show and tell in the locker room.

I like to be in the pool early, at least thirty to forty minutes, working out on my own and visiting with the other early birds. And those who like to be in and out of the pool before class starts. And because I’m there early, I leave a few minutes before class ends to ease locker room congestion, and shorten the line waiting for the shower. So I’m usually fully clothed and fixing my hair by the time the rest of the gals pile through the door.

On a Wednesday, after class, the group crowded into the locker room, eager to get into the shower and on with their day.

I pulled out the photo, protected in a zip top bag, of my latest quilt top…a haphazard one I’d made entirely from scraps that would ordinarily have been thrown away. Strips that were too narrow to cut into blocks. This new quilt had lots of bright colors in it, especially neon green. I’d matched the long narrow strips by width and sewn them together end to end without giving a thought to color combinations. Then I sewed those strips together randomly and wound up with a very interesting and colorful ‘strip quilt.’ Perfect for a child. Hmmm…maybe even my granddaughter.

Brenda tucked the end of her floral towel securely under her left arm before she inspected the photo. And Marge fastened her bra as she peered over Brenda’s shoulder.

‘Wow…what a good use of scraps.’ crooned Brenda.

’Lots of sewing, though,’ said Marge, a bit skeptical.

‘Oh, but so worth the effort! Just look at those colors…’ Jackie added, as she began to pull up her underwear.

Very pretty,’ said Stephanie.

Our conversation broadened to include everyone’s projects…Marge’s scrap quilt, Linda’s baby quilt, the lap quilt Stephanie was making for her mother for Christmas, and more. We talked about which fabrics worked best, and which ones to avoid, the latest techniques; free motion quilting versus the old fashioned method, and the benefits of tying a quilt. Quilting at church as well as at home. Alone and with help.

As I sat there, fully dressed, I began to giggle. Only this crowd, I thought, could carry on an entire conversation, on any subject, in a locker room filled with women in all states of undress, without a word spoken about attire, or lack thereof.

We can talk about anything in that locker room, fully clothed or not. And in our locker room, clothes do not make the woman.  


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