Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Chatelaine - a Quilting Journey

''The Chatelaine''

a novel

by Roberta Burgess

Chatelaine (chain)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chatelaine, 1765-1775 V&A Museum no. C.492:1 to 7-1914

Chatelaine is a decorative belt hook or clasp worn at the waist with a series of chains suspended from it. Each chain is mounted with a useful household appendage such as scissors, thimble, watch, key, vinaigrette, household seal, etc.

Chatelaines were worn by many housekeepers in the 19th century. They were also worn by Anglo Saxon women, as seen from the burial record.

The name chatelaine derives from the same term used to mean the female owner, or husband of the owner, of a large house. The chatelaine was designed to have all the tools necessary for the woman of the household to sort out any problem she may encounter in her day, like a fraying curtain.

CHAPTER ONE - How it Started

They say that sudden wealth brings unhappiness to the ones who get it, but I can tell you now I am not one of those people. The way it happened was a bit unusual, not like a Lotto Win, or a distant aunt falling off the perch or anything like that - it was, well...a bit spooky, really. But I'll go into that later.

Thursday morning, early May 1999, and everybody was banging on about some millennium bug which was going to worm its way into everybody's computer and bring down all the airline companies. Yaddah yaddah yaddah - turned out to be a whole lot of rubbish. However, it make people think about how much control computers (and their programmers) might have over ordinary people, and how we were depending on technology way too much.

After the mail came that day, I sat down rather slowly at the table in the kitchen. I preferred that one to the vast one in the dining room. The light was better, for one thing. Old houses are charming, but dark, draughty and some of the spaces are too big to feel comfortable in. Pierrot and Columbine were snaking around my legs as usual, hoping for a chance to settle in my lap. Heat-seeking missiles, that's what cats are. We tell ourselves that they are being affectionate, but when it's hot, mid-summer, where are they to be found? Out by the pool, stretched out under the shade of a shrub, lazily watching the dragonflies skimming across the water's surface. "Go away you smooches!" I laughed, kicking them gently with one foot, as I sorted through the mail.

There was a free newspaper, the sort that has snippets of news and is paid for through the advertising content. This particular newspaper, I decided that I liked. It had some real journalism in it, it even dared to be critical of the powers that be in the town occasionally, not that that did any good. Things would not change in a hurry in this place, and neither would the power hierarchy. You must be thinking by now that I am cynical, and I guess I am at times, or maybe just realistic. There was a card from my friend in the city. Gorgeous girl. We had been at college together, and kept in touch. She made these lovely hand-made cards, it was a great creative outlet for her. this one had a drawing of a cat on it. Not like my skinny possums, but a huge, hairy Persian type cat, the sort that really knows how to occupy a rug. I smiled at the card, read the brief inscription, birthday wishes for a few days' time.

"May all your wishes come true" it said. That could be dangerous. I decided to have a little day-dream about that while I put the kettle on. There were lots of good wishes of course. The obvious ones about health and well-being for all my family, of course, and Pete being able to get a better job, one that didn't wear him down so much emotionally. I would love to somehow become one of those creative quilters who travels the world, exhibiting my prize winning quilts, and being invited to open and judge quilt shows. The best part would be the ability to travel. To spend days and days in place like the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, gazing at the work of people like William Morris. Paul, my brother-in-law keeps saying that when (read if) he wins Lotto that the first thing I will know is 'custard pies'! What? I said to him. What will happen is that I will go out the front door and there will be someone there to throw custard pies to celebrate. This event will take place simultaneously at various places around the countryside as everyone near and dear to him ventures out for the day. 'I can't wait', I responded unenthusiastically. "But I will also pay out your mortgage" he said. "Now you're talking!"

Underneath the card, there were one or two bills, groan. Electricity, up again. More hot water being used by Nat, obviously, since she'd come home from college. A bill for the papers, annoying, since we can never find most of them. The paper boy shoots them under the house more often than not, and I'm not inclined to crawl around in the dirt among the spiders to find them.

And then there was the letter.

End of Chapter One

What was in the letter? Give me some help, please!