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Charlotte, Part 2

June 30, 2002

When our last episode ended, it was Thursday morning and Mom and I were rested up and ready to take on Charlotte. Obviously, the first thing to do on a trip built around a quilt show is to go to the quilt show, so we headed off to downtown to find the Convention Center. If we’d been staying in the official hotel of the show, it would have been much easier to make our way to the quilts, but we’ve found it’s nicer to stay at least a little distance away, out of the commotion and crowds. Once we got off the freeway and into downtown, I abandoned my MapQuest driving directions to follow the signs pointing to the Convention Center. This was a mistake, as the signs were not clear or plentiful enough (at least from the direction we were coming), and I ended up falling prey to a resourceful parking garage that billed itself as “convention parking” when it was by no means one of the closer lots and was more expensive to boot.

We did make our way to the main Convention Center entrance, where a nice lady with a clipboard directed us down a hall and up some stairs to registration. It wasn’t until we’d gotten to the top of the stairs that we realized we’d been sent to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference instead of the National Quilting Association Show. Oops. A trip back down the stairs and a bit of wandering later, we found the NQA people set up by a different entrance. Hmmm, maybe a few signs with arrows would have helped.

After some more confusion about getting my member pass (again, no signs about where or how to do this), we finally made our way downstairs to the quilts and the vendor mall. We did our standard quick tour of the quilts, then a more leisurely tour of the vendor mall, with a required stop at the Prize Possessions booth. They’re at every NQA show, and both Mom and I have acquired collections of their jewelry made from old and antique buttons. Mom’s collection is focused on watches and mine is mostly earrings; we both found pieces we needed to add this year. I’m partial to aurora glass, which is iridescent—the more colors the better is my motto.
Of course, there was fabric to buy also. I was thrilled when I found a particular print in one booth—an old fabric that I’d seen in other people’s quilts and had lusted after but never found to buy. It’s been reprinted, so I stocked up. I’ll have to look online for other colorways now that I know it’s out there.

It’s fortunate the shopping was good, as the quilts in the show were somewhat disappointing as a group. There were, as always, some standouts—quilts I can’t even imagine being skilled enough to make and can only appreciate in amazement—but I didn’t get that overwhelmed feeling of seeing quilt after quilt that I’d see and say “wow, I wish I’d made that” like I have in many previous years. It may be that my taste just doesn’t match well with that of the quilters in the Carolinas; the show content does tend to come mostly from people who live near the show (which is one reason I’m happy it’s in a different place each year). I didn’t take nearly as many pictures as I usually do.

Having seen all the quilts and bought as much as we could carry, we left the show and headed out to eat. We turned in early, tuckered out from all the walking we’d done that day.

Friday morning we slept in, knowing that we weren’t going to rush back to the show, especially since Dick Cheney was coming to speak to the Republican gathering. We had no desire to get caught up in that commotion. We got an even later start because Mom was waiting in the bedroom for me to come get her, not wanting to disturb me. Note to self: make plans with Mom very clear; consider writing them down even if it doesn’t seem necessary. Armed with directions we’d picked up at the show, we headed off for a fabric shop in Charlotte that was offering a discount for show attendees and found a few more things to buy.

It was surprisingly hard to find a suitable restaurant for lunch—the first one we tried was inexplicably closed, and there was nothing but fast food at and around the mall we went to next. Eventually we found a stealth Ruby Tuesday, all swathed in tasteful brick and muted signage in an upscale shopping center. Mom was getting tired, so we returned to the hotel for a nap for her and relaxing for me. Our Friday night excitement was seeing The Importance of Being Earnest at a funny movie theater—it was set into a storefront and very easy to miss, not looking anything like the multiplexes I’ve grown used to at home.

Saturday, Mom’s arthritis was flaring up a bit, so we didn’t push it, and only went to the small Mint Museum of Craft + Design, which had a quilt exhibit. Normally, we’d go to more fabric stores and more auxiliary quilt exhibits, but we’d bought enough by this point, and there didn’t seem to be any more satellite exhibits, at least not that the show organizers cared to tell us about. Usually, there’s good information and maps to the other exhibits available at the show, but not this year. We did try to see one other exhibit, which was listed in the show materials sent out this past January, but we got there and were told there were no quilts and they had no idea how the listing got in the book. Again, a sign or notice at the show would have helped. Other than the museum, our other big outing on Saturday was a trip to a multiplex to see The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood.

Today was a travel day, so we finished packing and headed off to the airport. We had plenty of time and were able to relax and read the Sunday paper before going to our respective gates. Mom’s arthritis was worse, but she didn’t want to be wheeled around, and I didn’t force the issue. I felt sad that there wasn’t anything I could do to help her feel better other than carrying her bag. She is going to the doctor this week, so maybe there’s something he can suggest. My flight back was on time, but sadly crowded, with a baby in the row in front of me, a four year old sitting next to me, and a small child kicking my seat behind me. Fortunately, it’s not a long flight. My very heavy suitcase showed up on the baggage carousel just as I arrived in the luggage claim area, and Mr. Karen showed up very shortly after that.

Now I’m home—with piles of laundry and mail to deal with, and lots of new fabric to play with, and a husband and guinea pig who are both happy I’m back (well, the husband is; the guinea pig would probably be happy to see anyone who fed him). A pretty good place to be, all in all.

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