Hat on Top, Coat Below


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June 24, 2003

Ah, vacation. From Wednesday to Sunday, I was in Columbus, Ohio, with my mom for our annual quilt show trip. Since then, I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of things at work and home. I still feel a bit disconnected from my real life, which is strange, since my trip wasn’t that long or exotic. I wasn’t somewhere remote, either; I checked e-mail almost every day I was gone. I don’t usually have a problem with slipping back into my normal routine after a trip, but maybe this time it’s different because there were two weeks of not quite normal before my vacation, namely the pre-trip, trip, and post-trip phases of Mr. Karen’s Colorado kayaking excursion. Maybe I’m resisting settling back in because I know I only have three weeks before my surgery to get things done. Maybe I’m just overtired. Regardless, I’m back.

Mom and I have done the quilt show trip so many times now that we’ve established something of a routine for it, even though we go to a different place every year, wherever the National Quilting Association has decided to put on their event. Unless it’s close to one of our homes, we meet in the show city the day before the quilts go on display. If we’ve got time, we check out one or two of the local quilt shops then. This year we didn’t, so we just checked in to the hotel and went out to eat dinner before hitting the grocery store. I’d prepared ahead and printed out a map to the one nearest the hotel, but even then we had trouble finding it because it was a stealth Kroger; there was no mention of it on the signs at the entrances to the shopping center, and the building itself looked like an office rather than a store.

Thursday morning we headed down to see the show. I was armed with the directions from the convention center’s website. Evidently they don’t believe in regular updates, as it turned out the highway was closed just before the exit we were supposed to take, but there was a detour posted that dumped us off in the general vicinity we wanted to be. I circled around until I found the official hotel, which was right next to what looked like the main entrance to the convention hall, and parked as close as I could. This turned out to be a mistake, as we ended up having to take a rather long hike through a maze of poorly marked corridors and bridges before we got to the hall where the quilts were. We weren’t the only ones wandering, either.

The show was just okay. I shot up a whole card of pictures and bought a fair bit of fabric at the vendor mall, but I didn’t leave that day wanting to come back and study the quilts more as I have in some years. There were a few I really liked and wished I’d made myself, but many of them were not to my taste.

We filled the rest of the trip with our usual quilt show trip exploits. We went to the zoo, where my favorite exhibit was the manatees. They were eating whole heads of romaine lettuce, gently cradling them in their front flippers as they chewed. We went to several quilt shops, including a couple in a town that was far enough away that the shops were not mobbed with show attendees. We went to see quilts on exhibit outside of the show. We ate out, and even got a free meal one night because the server forgot to put our order in. I felt a little guilty about that and left a really big tip, because we were so busy talking and enjoying the afterglow of our appetizer that we didn’t realize there was a problem until the manager came over to our table to apologize and let us know they would take care of the bill. We also ate in, noshing on leftovers as we relaxed in the room and watched the cable channels we don’t get at home. We didn’t see any movies this year, even though there was a theater within walking distance of the hotel, because nothing was playing that both of us wanted to see more than we wanted to read our new quilting books. And we talked about doing it all again next year in Peoria.


A year ago, I took a peek into my younger self’s journal.

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