On Standing out and Blending in

June 4, 2008 at 4:34 pm (Mary McQueary, Soliloquy)



The voices inside my head are not those of a splintered personality, they truly belong to other people. What they say is often melodious, remnants of my favorite songs. Often I sing prompted by a single word.


From time to time the voices quote from books I have read. Recently this quoting has been replaced by the playing of certain scenes from movies. Upon hearing of you this occurred.


The scene playing out on the wide screen of my mind was from The Matrix (The Wachowski Brothers, 1999).  Neo has gone to meet the Oracle. He stands in her kitchen and the last thing she says to him is “…As soon as you step outside that door, you’ll start feeling better. You’ll remember you don’t believe in any of this fate crap. You’re in control of your own life, remember? Here, take a cookie. I promise, by the time you’re done eating it, you’ll feel right as rain.”


The scene repeated while I walked down the deserted lime rock road. Fine white dust blanketed my sandaled feet as I went, my toes soon gray, my soul soaring because fate had brought us together.  My mind ran ahead to search for a tale for you. Like a child bringing back a captured cricket clasped between two hands, it returned excited and out of breath, eager to reveal to you the here and now, about a place in Trenton…

Along the main street of this very small town sits a large brick building. In its younger years it was a Coca-Cola bottling plant, today it is a quilt shop.

Inside can be found not only beautiful bolts of fabric but also a book room and a tiny restaurant. The restaurant offers petite portions for lunch. A sliver of quiche, a strawberry half, 3 grapes, and a small dollop of potato salad are decorously presented on a small glass plate. There’s never any wish for more, for kept beneath glass covers in a cool, dark corner is dessert.  Order dessert and you receive a fourth of a double layer cake!

Only on rare occasions do I buy fabric. It puzzles my friends that I leave empty handed for they have fabric stashes in their backrooms that fuel firefighters’ nightmares. They feed their stashes like one does tropical fish. I, on the other hand, do not have such a stash, and have yet to correct their assumption.

It’s not as if I don’t want any fabric, it’s that I want all fabric. Too many ideas and choices paralyze me and more often than not I find myself talking to the parrot near the front window. His name is Sonny. With head cocked and glistening black eye unblinking, he mimics my laughter.

It takes only moments for him to unravel my reality. Wishing to put as much distance as possible between me and this feathered recording device I flee towards the back of the building. Would someone else please talk to him?  

There is only one chair in the book room, a red wingback chair. Sitting here, faintly I hear my laughter via parrot. I sit and stare at book covers. The cover photo quilts soothe and warm the eye like a fabric quilt does the skin. The smart titles are as crisp as crackers stolen and eaten in bed.

 I was caught unawares one day when a mere suggestion of a design technique shocked my muse to its senses. The book is titled ‘One-Block Wonder’.  At first glance it didn’t appear to contain any new ideas. Kaleidoscopes have become commonplace in quilting. Mention the term ‘stack and whack’ to any quilter and she’ll most likely reply, ‘Yep, made one’.  In this book the rules were the same (stack, whack), but the specifics were new to me [use one fabric for the entire project, use one shape (the equilateral triangle)].  With the fabrics currently offered?  With the way kaleidoscopes interconnected to produce mosaics?  I had found a formula for great magic!

The first fabric I selected sported a lawn of red flowers below a cluster of Russian Orthodox cupolas pinned to a clear blue sky.  By what alchemy do static triangles become gesturing hexagons? I am ignorant of which mathematical law alters cupolas into spikes of flowers, spokes of wheels. What once was a singular moment, a single image, captured and frozen, now morphed into a running river of time, of nearly infinite possible designs. I fell under the spell and chopped to pieces everything I saw. Six triangles, cut with abandon from anywhere within the repeat, produced some beautiful and some very hideous results. Every new hexagon hinted at infinity.

I came upon an Asian print. Armed with a hinged mirror, I glimpsed at its potential transmutations. Eagerly I bought six repeats of an orange dragon twisting in front of rain heavy clouds of purple and gray. The dragon was slain with swift slashes of my rotary cutter, a tool as sharp as any knight’s sword. Triangular segments of the creature’s body were strewn across my cutting table awaiting rebirth. Magic happens when triangles become hexagons.  Chunks of dragon flesh grafted into Celtic knots. Cloud clusters became funeral wreaths long withered on old graves. I felt a sorceress.

Not all of the hexagons made from a single cloth yielded to blend as I had wished. Some were so unique they had to stand alone. They come from the same cloth, share the same color palette, but do not disappear into each other. I had been traveling the dusty road becoming all too familiar with solitude wishing fervently to blend with others before I heard of you. Now together we are, yet set apart.

– Mary McQueary.



1 Comment

  1. Deb said,

    Yay Mary! You are in control of your life!

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