Thursday, October 22, 2009

Houston and the Shuttle Bus!

How do I explain the experience of being in Houston? It's an overwhelming experience that has so many fun and interesting turns.
So I will start at the beginning. For those of you who have gone, you know, but for those of you that have never been I will try to paint a picture of the Worlds Largest Quilt Festival.
My journey started with a flight at 0 dark hundred Sacramento time. (I now speak in all military lingo since the kid is a Marine). You go to bed the night before knowing that the morning is going to come too soon. Thinking you could actually get any sleep is a joke. You just lay there in despair. One year I slept with my clothes on. It didn't help - I woke up tired AND wrinkled. The Sac airport had some familair faces but I was so tired I just wanted to get on my flight.

When I arrived in Houston my eyes were somewhat open and now the excitement hits as I wait for my very oversized and now expensive, due to being overweight, bags. I look around and see what I think are other quilters. I don't know any of them. They just look like quilters. 6 of us jump into a shuttle bus that takes us to our hotels. We introduced ourselves. I was right, they where here for the show. One was from corporate Bernina, 2 where setting up the Quilts of Valor exhibit and one looked very familiar. I think she was an editor of a quilting magazine. I am in some very nice company.
As we drive through the airport we stop at another airline to pick up 3 more people. This slim well dressed lady opens the van door and hesitates to get in the van. She not sure she wanted to be squished in between this group of strangers. I didn't blame her, but her husband said "get in" and we said, "we promises not to bite". So she got in.
I can tell right away as they begin to talk , they are probably from New York. We quilters start talking and laughing and soon she become more relaxed. She asked us what we are in Houston for. We excitedly explained about the International Quilt Festival. She had no idea about this quilting thing. I guess knitting is the big thing in New York, but quilting? she says. I explain that quilting is a $4 billion industry. She is blown away. We ask her why she is here in Houston? She is giving a lecture to the Cancer Society. WOW!
We all stopped, looked at each other, then all at once we share that the quilting industry raises big bucks for Susan G Komen breast cancer research. She is blown away again. She also raises funds for their cancer group and never thought about quilting as a fund raiser. I tell her about the quilt auction and how big it is in Northern California. I think I saw a light bulb go off above her head.
While this is all going on in the front seat, in the back seat with her husband, are the operation officers for the National Quilts of Valor project. They are explaining about their project to honor every wounded veteran returning home from war with a quilt. She then tells her husband, "we have to see this show." I handed her an extra program that I just happened to have. Then we start up again laughing and telling stories. We are just a bunch of stranger in a minivan.
Then the van stops at a hotel and to our surprise, out of the very back of the minivan, is this lone man that has been with us the whole time. We didn't even see him there, poor guy.
I was starting to think this wasn't a shuttle bus at all, but more like a circus clown car. Who else is back there?
We finally arrived at our hotel and all the quilters got out. The once reluctant New Yorkers gave us all big hugs and promised to see the show. I have no doubt in my mind that they did.
In that short 20 minute bus ride from the airport to downtown Houston, 8 strangers and a mystery man became bonded by quilting, war and cancer.
And to think, its just little bits of fabric and thread (and the clown car) that brought us all together. More adventures to come.
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