Houston Adventure

Every year there is an International Quilt Show in Houston, Texas, a Mecca for all quilters, and one of my little quilting bees always goes. We travel to Houston (a four-hour ride, not counting any stops) in three cars, and stay in a hotel within walking distance of the Convention Center where the Quilt Show is held.

We bunk two to a room and usually have matching T-shirts, so we look like a small gang. It’s loads of fun! This year Karen and I were roommates and agreed to be the hospitality room, where we all gather to have Show and Tell. We share all the things we have bought that day and talk about all the things we have seen.

We started out very early in the morning to arrive as the show opened. As it was too early to check in at the hotel, they just checked our luggage.

A marvelous day was spent scouting and shopping the vendor aisles. All of our credit cards were literally smoking by the end of the day when we met for dinner.

It wasn’t until 8:30 pm that Karen and I were able to actually check in, which took about 45 minutes because the hotel did not have our names and apparently had no room for us. It seems a person with Karen’s first name and my last name had checked into the room.

Now that seemed impossible to me and I said so. Forty minutes later the receptionist agreed, checked us in, gave us keys and welcomed us to the hotel. Karen and I piled all our day’s purchases (at least 50 pounds!!) on top of our luggage, plus our purses, plus drinks, and headed up to the 11th floor, then down the 1/4-mile hallway to our room at the end.

Karen’s key opened the door and she started in with me right behind her. Karen immediately noticed the bed hadn’t been made. One more step in and she noticed movement in the bed!

Another step in and two heads popped out of the bed! Karen screamed “Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry!” and froze in place. I didn’t see anything but froze right behind her. Karen began slowly backing up with bags, luggage, purse and drink, all the while offering “I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry!”

I, of course, had to back up as well with bags, luggage, purse and drink.

Karen immediately turned back to me with a look of stark terror and whispered emphatically, “There’s someone in our bed!”

My face matched hers and I whispered back, “Oh my god!” By this time, all our pals were coming down the hallway to join us in our room for Show and Tell.

I turned to them and whispered as loud as I could, “There’s someone in our bed!” To which they gave an equally shocked, “Oh my god!” We all stood in the hallway looking shocked, sort of laughing, sort of gasping, trying not to be too loud, but being too loud. The most awkward moment ever!

Then Karen and I realized we had to schlepp everything – bags, luggage, purses and drinks back down to the lobby for new keys. Oh boy!

When we told the receptionist what we found in our room, she said, “Oh, no, that can’t be.” “But oh yes, believe us, we saw it!”

Finally we got keys to a new room and back up we went to the 11th floor with all our belongings. We got to the room and stood outside for a moment. Karen said, “You open it!” So I pounded on the door yelling “Housekeeping!” Hearing nothing, I opened the door to an empty room. Thanks be!

In response to their room error, the hotel gave us each two tickets for complimentary appetizers at the bar, which we decided to use the next day and share with our whole group. All ten of us gathered in the bar after another grand day of shopping and viewing quilts. Since the tickets said “appetizers,” we envisioned small servings that would be shared by all of us. We didn’t realize we were getting twelve orders of servings the size of entrees.

The food just kept coming and coming and coming. We gave two servings to a nearby group, and ordered to-go boxes for all the portions we couldn’t eat. We had to go from there to our reservations for dinner. The amount of food was almost obscene. There were to-go boxes everywhere!

And yet, the next morning, everyone was ready for breakfast. What?! How was that possible?

And the weekend was over – sort of.

We stopped at two quilt shops on the way home because evidently we hadn’t shopped enough.

Oh, and we stopped at a peach farm store because also we hadn’t had enough food.

A Quilt Show – Behind The Scenes

Many of us have been to a quilt show. And many of us have seen the quilts all nicely hung and organized in place. We have marveled at the beauty of the show, shopped at all the vendors and learned much at the demonstrations.

But how does all this quilt show thing happen? Do elves come in the night and perform magic? Does a wizard open a trunk and a quilt show pops out? Do we order one from Amazon and two days later it shows up neatly wrapped in a box? Not exactly.

First of all it takes at least a year of planning – sometimes more. That means monthly (or more often) meetings of a committee. Lots of emailing back and forth. Phone calls, messages, printouts, samples, first, second and final drafts, votes, opinions, disagreements and agreements – all go into making a quilt show.

Finally the week of the show comes and all involved are ready and on alert. Three days before the show even starts, all the quilts that are going to be in the show are delivered to the site. In four hours, as many as 350 or more quilts can be accepted, inspected, labeled and processed. All this is done alphabetically at check-in stations.

Two days before the quilt show the poles and drapes are up in place and the hanging of the quilts begins. The quilts are hung by sleeves on the back of each quilt over a rod. Each is numbered and labeled according to the category which it qualifies. All 350 or more quilts are hung and made to look as beautiful as possible in one day.

The next day begins the judging. Three different judges with their assigned scribes spend the entire day inspecting, analyzing and recording their assessment of each quilt.The written critique is returned with the quilt  to the owner at the end of the show.

Then the winning ribbons are hung on the most outstanding quilts, honoring the makers. The most wonderful of all, the “Best of Show” is moved to a special place of honor.

During all this time, tables have been set up, signs have been placed, registration packets have been stuffed, vendors have set up their booths, banners have been hung, PA systems tested, concession stands filled, floors laid, lights hung, tickets counted and people have scurried from one job to another. All is now ready for tomorrow.

Tomorrow the quilt show opens. The doors will be unlocked. Quilt lovers and makers will stream in. There is nothing more to be done.

Nothing more but keep the show running smoothly!