There’s No Place Like Home
May 15, 2005
It’s not quite 10 o’clock in the morning, and I’m sitting in the airport in Kansas City with about three hours to go before I can board my flight home to Detroit. KCI is not the kind of airport where it’s easy to fill that kind of time. Based on my not quite exhaustive survey of Terminal C, there appears to be just one store–it’s got multiple locations, true, but the merchandise is the same in each one. I guess I should have done more research on the airport before I booked the flights for this trip; I would have known that I needed to put Mom on a later flight so I wouldn’t have so much downtime here. At least I did find an electrical outlet next to a chair, so I can type away the hours.
So, Kansas City and Mom. Yes, it was time once again for our annual mother-daughter quilt show trip. This year for the first time in the now fourteen years we’ve done this trip, the show wasn’t the NQA show. The rumors we heard last year about that show were true–it’s going to be in Columbus, Ohio the next three years, and Mom and I have already done Columbus, so a few months ago I went searching for a new show, preferably in a state I hadn’t been to yet. The Machine Quilters Showcase in Overland Park, Kansas fit the bill nicely.
I flew in Thursday morning. Mom’s flight from Chicago was scheduled to land seven minutes before mine from Detroit, but my plane was early and hers was late, so I was able to collect my luggage and meet her at her gate when she arrived. My lack of airport research could have bitten me in the butt there, as there are three terminals here, but luckily we came into the same one. We had a rather long wait for her luggage, as a thunderstorm had just rolled in and the ramp was closed for a while due to lightning strikes in the area, which meant no baggage could move.
Once we got Mom’s suitcase and collected the rental car, we made our way to the hotel via a circuitous route that included a stop for lunch and visits to two quilt shops and one discount fabric store. I was disappointed that the exit to Parallel Parkway was closed–I have no idea where it would have led but that’s such a great name I’m sorry I didn’t get to find out. I wasn’t going to buy that much fabric on this trip, but that resolution crumbled in the face of $2.25 a yard for decent quality cotton goods, and once I was in fabric acquisition mode it was hard to put the brakes on. Also, if the universe really didn’t want me to buy fabric, it wouldn’t have arranged for the rain to stop during the prime shopping hours.
Once we got the hotel, Mom took a nap while I chatted with the nice lady at the hotel’s internet provider, who gave me the magic numbers I needed to type into my PC setup to get access to the World Wide Web from my bedside desk. I also found out I’ve been mispronouncing the name of the town we were staying in, which is also the name of the tasty sweet corn we get for a few weeks every summer–Olathe. It’s “Oh-lay-thu”; I’d been saying “Oh-layth” and could make a case for “Oh-lath”, but three syllables never occurred to me. During this interluder, another storm front approached and we found ourselves under a tornado watch. The weather held off while we shopped for groceries to stock the room. I got some Diet Coke with Splenda, which I’d never seen before. Then we had dinner at a sandwich shop. By the time we left the restaurant, the wind was really whipping–Mom’s wig blew right off her head when she opened the door to go out to the car–and the rain started on our way back to the hotel, so we cocooned in the room the rest of the night rather than exploring or even going to Walgreens to get pills to replace the ones Mom had lost at O’Hare when she dropped them out of her purse and they got run over by a baggage cart. (I do not know if more odd things like this happen to my mom than to other people, or if she just talks about them more, but with her it’s always something.)
Friday it was raining but no longer threatening a tornado, so we felt safe heading to the quilt show (with a stop at Walgreens first). I dropped Mom off at an entrance to the convention center so she could save her energy for walking around the show and went to park the car. When I got back to the place I’d left her, she was nowhere to be seen. That’s Mom–I found her down the hall, talking to some people she’d just met as if they were old friends.
The show was an educational experience. I learned about applying Swarovrski crystals with heat-sensitive adhesive to quilts–some people like to do this so much that they put four or five THOUSAND of them on a single quilt. That, to me, is a bit much. I learned I can’t afford enough thread to match many of the entrants’ efforts–some of these quilts seemed to be more thread than fabric. I learned that even professional machine quilters have trouble keeping their quilts flat sometimes. I learned that when the button lady told us she would be at the show in the Kansas City area in May, she didn’t mean this one, so Mom couldn’t get her watches fixed and I couldn’t add to my collection of earrings. (She must have meant Quilt Market, which was a few weeks ago.) I learned that there’s quilt batting available with alpaca fiber blended with either cotton or wool. I learned that my taste in quilts is more traditional than I thought.
After the show and a rest period back at the hotel, we headed into Kansas City. Our destination was the Crown Center, a three-level shopping thing (mall, I guess). With its light brown sign on the side of the tan building partially obscured by trees, we drove by it at least once before figuring out where we needed to be. The Crown Center was not exactly hopping on a Friday night, but there was a fabric store with a few unusual fabrics for me to add to my stash. I’ve never tried sateen with a slight stretch in a quilt, but I’ll have the chance now. Rather than getting on the freeway right away when it was time to head back to the hotel, we drove through the city a bit, looking at some of the many fountains KC has (more than any city other than Rome, according to the brochures). I had to laugh when Mom said “another fountain–no, they’re just watering their lawn”–in her defense, it was getting dark by that time.
Saturday the weather was beautiful, and we went exploring. We considering going to the zoo–seeing animals is a frequent feature of these trips–but decided instead to take in some Kansas history and headed to Osawatomie to the John Brown museum, which turned out to be very, very tiny. After seeing what there was to be seen there, we stopped at a bargain store in the little downtown and got a few things as well as two good recommendations–one for a quilt shop in someone’s backyard that turned out to have excellent prices and which I had no idea was there and one for a restaurant we never would have eaten at otherwise, since it had no sign out front other than “Now Open”. After fabric shopping and lunch, we went to the town’s museum, where a very nice little old lady showed us all the cases and talked about the things in them and where her boss recommended a museum in the next town north. The next little museum had a slightly less old, slightly less little lady to take us around the exhibits. We almost didn’t find the place, since it was in a 1960s storefront and we were looking for a historical building, but Mom’s habit of reading signs out loud paid off–dentist, karate, museum–wait, did you say “museum”?
I thought we’d have time to hit one more quilt shop after the second museum, but a traffic backup due to a car fire and a missed exit (which could have been avoided if the shop had put better information in their ad in the show program) combined with an early closing time (4? what sense does that make when you know people will be looking for an outlet for the fabric buying craving stirred up by the show?) thwarted that plan. It’s probably just as well, since between my earlier purchases and the excess clothes I brought because I just couldn’t decided what to wear ahead of time, my suitcase is really, really full right now.
This morning we pretty much just got up, finished packing, and came to the airport.
I’m tired. I always forget how tired I get on these trips, since it’s not like we go out partying every night or even do strenuous walking, but we do stay up too late and I guess all the navigating and decisions sap my mental energy or something. I can tell that Mom’s healthier this year than she’s been, since she got up before I did both today and yesterday.
So now I’ve been to Kansas on purpose–six more states and I’m free to go to Hawaii. Maybe next year I can find a show for us to go to in Connecticut or New Jersey.
I’m back home now. After I finished typing the paragraphs above and returned to wandering the terminal, I studied an airport map and found that Terminal C is the poor stepchild of the three at KCI. Other terminals have BBQ and tequilerias and retail variety, so I walked over to Terminal B to see what I could see, which nicely took care of most of the rest of the time I had before my flight.
On the way home from the airport, I saw a billboard for Diet Coke with Splenda. I guess we do have that here.
I have mustered only enough unpacking mojo to get my rest and relaxation bra out of my suitcase. More than that will have to wait, as I think I’m getting a cold and want to baby myself a little. I read an article recounting a study in which people who took it easy at the first sign of a cold felt better nine days sooner than the people who kept at their normal activities–that’s good enough evidence for me.