Hat on Top, Coat Below


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Alpacas and Vikings and Bears, Oh My

September 15, 2003

Once again, it is Monday, and I had to get up and come to work. That’s two weeks in a row now. I’m finding being a productive member of society again rather tiring. It doesn’t help one bit that this morning I’m extra tired because I stayed up to watch the Vikings play last night. Well, Mr. Karen watched; I listened while I dealt with the clipping box for the month, which I just picked yesterday, and looked up every now and then to catch a play or replay. I was really hoping the Vikings would put the Bears away early so I could relax, maybe even go to bed before the game was over, but they did not so I could not. Being married to a Vikings fan for almost seventeen years seems to have altered my biochemistry to a point where I can’t help but care how the team does. I could have gone up to bed at halftime, but I wouldn’t have slept because the outcome was still in doubt, so I stayed up. I was especially worried given that the football karma signs from Saturday were not at all encouraging, with our alma mater Michigan State losing to a much weaker opponent on a last minute onside kick while arch rival Michigan dominated Notre Dame. Fortunately, my vigilance was rewarded and the Vikings are now 2-0. It was a satisfying, if somewhat late, end to the weekend.

It wasn’t quite the weekend I’d planned on. Friday morning at 6:45 the phone rang, which is very unusual, especially now that I’m no longer in an account manager role at work and don’t get those “the shipping system is locked up and the truck is waiting at the dock” notifications. It was Erica, calling from the emergency room. She’d called me because she needed someone to come get her and she thought I might be taking the day off (which I had talked about at one point, not sure if I wanted to jump right from working three days my first week back after leave to five my second). I wasn’t taking the day off, but of course I said I’d come. I didn’t ask her for details, and she didn’t offer any, so during the whole time I was getting dressed and driving over there, I speculated about what had happened and what I could do to make it better. Obviously she was well enough to talk, so it couldn’t be too bad, right? When I walked into the hospital building from the parking structure, I asked the person at the first information desk I came to how to get to the emergency room, and SHE DIDN’T KNOW. I was amazed. I can understand not knowing where some obscure department was, but emergency would seem to be pretty basic. Perhaps most people getting a call like I did don’t park in the regular structure but just follow the signs to the emergency entrance and park in the ambulance lane. I have no idea. Fortunately, another hospital employee was standing nearby and knew the way. A few minutes later, I had a bright yellow visitor pass stuck to my chest and was escorted to the exam room where Erica was. I was relieved to see that she looked okay, not bloodied and bruised from a car accident like she’d been in the most likely scenario I’d decided on during my drive over. Instead, she’d been having abdominal pain and they were still trying to determine the cause. Her boyfriend had brought her to the hospital but had left after a couple hours because he had plans for the weekend. It’s been a long time since I was dating, but I’m pretty sure the way to a woman’s heart is not leaving her in the emergency room because you’re going four-wheeling with your buddies. Because the morphine had taken effect by the time I got there and she wasn’t in any immediate danger, being there for me was mostly about waiting. Waiting for the tech to come and take Erica for an MRI, waiting for them to bring her back because I wasn’t allowed to go with her, waiting for the results, waiting to make sure she was going to do okay eating and drinking once the results were in, then waiting for her discharge paperwork. The most useful thing I got to do was call her office to let them know she wouldn’t be in. I got her back to her apartment around noon and made sure she was settled before heading off to work. The day goes a lot faster when you start at 1:15 in the afternoon, I found.

Erica and I had planned to head up to Flint for a quilt show on Saturday, but obviously that was not going to happen. I talked to her Friday night and she was doing better and thought she might want to go on Sunday instead, and by Saturday night she was feeling well enough to make definite plans to do that; she’d already printed out the show website and directions. We headed out Sunday morning and found the place with only a little difficulty. (She’d printed directions but didn’t have a map, which was the opposite problem Mr. Karen and I had getting to our hotel in Denver; from now on, I’m making sure I’ve got both in these situations.) We weren’t prepared to find the doors locked, though. It was almost ten o’clock in the morning, a perfectly reasonable time to expect a quilt show to be open. There were no signs on the doors to tell us when they would be unlocked, either. Bummer. We knew from the website that there was another quilt exhibit at a church nearby, so we walked over there. The church was open; in fact, Sunday services were just starting. The greeter at the door was very welcoming even when admitted we were not there for church but for the quilts, and she found us a show brochure with hours listed; they didn’t open until one o’clock. Further bummer. The only thing we knew in the area was an outlet mall about twenty minutes north, so we headed up there. Turns out that doesn’t open until eleven on Sundays. Yep, even further bummer.

We were leaving the mall lot headed for what no doubt would have been a fabulous brunch at Big Boy when I spotted a sign on the expo center across the street: Alpaca Fest Sat-Sun 9-5. Alpacas? I love alpacas. It wasn’t hard to talk Erica into checking it out (perhaps she thought it best to humor me, since I was saying “alpaca” every third word). Two dollars for parking later, we were inside surrounded by alpaca goodness. Breeders and ranchers had brought animals to sell and show and some had fleece and knitted items and gifts for sale, too. We stopped by one pen to admire a particularly cute and friendly alpaca and got into a conversation with his owner, who let me feed him (the animal, not the owner) a handful of alpaca chow. By the time we toured the pens and the vendor mall and watched a couple rounds of judging, we’d filled the hours left before the quilt show opened and headed out. At the first exhibit we went to, the quilts were mostly disappointing. Erica did win a door prize, which was some consolation for having to look at quilts that just didn’t grab us. Some of them weren’t even finished, which really surprised me. Not that they weren’t done– I know how hard it can be to sew to a deadline– but that they were put into the show that way. If I want to look at unfinished objects, I can just stay home. There were also a lot of pieces with what I think of as unfortunate machine quilting, the kind that’s done with a commercial machine in an all over pattern with no relation to the design of the quilt itself. That sort of thing always reminds me of a motel bedspread. Not inspiring. Fortunately, the second exhibit we went to was full of good stuff, including the winners of a machine quilting competition. There was lots of the kind of work I aspire to do someday, with elaborate free motion quilting that complemented the pieced designs. The third exhibit was just okay, and the fourth was pretty much nonexistent– the quilts they’d been planning to display had not been received on time. Hey, that would have been nice information to put on the website, along with the atypical 1 p.m. Sunday opening time. Still, despite the poor show information, it was a nice outing, especially the alpaca parts.


A year ago, I was headed home from Disneyland and not yet back to my computer.

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