It was the fashion, in Victorian times, for people to visit some exotic locale for a fortnight and then write a travel book on the subject, filled with information and misinformation and hints and tips for future travellers.

I can follow this custom, because yesterday I went to the mall. I do not normally go to the mall. Many people say this, in the area where I live, but it turns out that the words do not mean the same thing when I say them as when these other people say them. I could tell, in conversations about my upcoming visit to the mall, that other people who say “I don’t go to the mall,” mean “I generally shop elsewhere.” The expression on The Empress’s face, for example,when I told her that I had bought my Mother-of-the-Bride dress online, showed that it was eccentric of me.

When I say that I don’t go to the mall, it is the same as when I say, “I don’t go to the water treatment facility.” I went there three years ago with my daughter when she registered for china before her wedding. Otherwise, I don’t go to the mall.

#2 daughter and I went there yesterday to buy clothes. I also do not buy clothes. My entire clothes shopping consists of approximately ten minutes each year around my birthday when I go online and buy the same three items in different colors from what I bought the previous year. I wear them until they simply cannot be worn any more. #2 daughter tells me that most of what I own now falls into that category. She claims that I should only wear the things that fit me. She even thinks that I should wear something different from the three items I have bought online for the past decade. Go figure.

So it was an interesting trip for me. I learned that shirts for women this year all have darts. I learned that most of the stores that cater to young people are selling — and in fact showing in their windows — jeans with holes in them. These are the kinds of jeans that I secretly throw away in the laundry room after I have told my kids that they are too tattered to wear and they have said, “But it’s the style!” I learned that it is the dernier cri to smell like cake.

There were people I knew there at the mall. Why I found this surprising I do not quite know. I live in a small town; there are people I know absolutely everywhere, so why not at the mall? In one clothing shop, there was a woman I know actually working there. I introduced her to #2 daughter and we had one of those Southern conversations in which you explore and clarify all the connections among all the participants in the conversation, down to “best friend of the daughter of the lady who had the bridal shower for your sister.” Once we all knew who we were, she found linen shirts for me, a skill I had not known she possessed. I am now a reformed character. I have shopped for items not strictly required for the preservation of life (NB: I consider books and yarn to be essential for the preservation of life).

#2 daughter suggested to me, quite gently, that I ought to go back to the mall sometime in the next year and buy other garments. We were, at the time, sitting quietly having fruit salad for lunch in an effort to combat my desperate desire to GET OUT OF THERE, so I found her suggestion a bit implausible, but I did not burst into tears at the thought. I was even able, following our lunch, to continue shopping.

The shop that #2 daughter is going to work in plays music so loud that your initial feeling is that you are in a dance club. I have not been to a dance club since they were called discos, so this is probably not the right term. But I’m sure you know what I mean. Low lights, throbbing music so loud that you cannot talk — there should have been dancing. Instead there were the Brand Reps standing at the entrance staring vacantly until a person appeared, at which point they would flash a blinding smile. Then there were the Impacts scurrying around arranging things. It was like a beehive.

We also went into the video shop and told the gentleman there that we were in search of manly movies with little dialogue. He was able to accomodate us immediately. There was in fact a rack of just such movies. Neflix is wonderful, but they cannot do this. Some things are just better with actual human beings in them, aren’t they?

Following this foray into the unknown reaches of our town, we came home and worked on cutting the quilt. I offer you an impressionistic toy camera shot of the mess we have made.

If you read my xanga and have total recall, you will know that I have a bad habit of making decisions about projects as I go along instead of beforehand. This often causes, if not problems, at least suspense. In this case, I had planned — and bought fabric for — a throw using the traditional

Windblown Square pattern. However, I found in my quilting book a handsome version of this called Windblown Shadows. It has a particular color combination and setting which is particularly charming. It also has modern cutting directions. It also is a bed-size quilt. So it was evident almost immediately that there was not enough fabric for it.

#2 daughter is doing the major cutting. This quilt requires hundreds of 3 7/8″ squares. This is not the kind of number I can be expected to work with successfully for long. And there is not enough fabric to accomodate my errors. So she is doing that part, while I scrounge the scraps to cut extra triangles individually in hopes of eking out enough. We did go back to the shop to try to buy more of the fabric of which there is too little, by the way, but they had none. It has been discontinued. I bought the fat quarters for this in another state, so I can hardly get more of those fabrics. We will not know until all [36 x 35] triangles have been cut, whether there is actually a problem or not. I am planning to be resourceful, and contemplating various options.

The Celtic Cross quilt? It continues to taunt me with its evil laughter. I have made no further progress on it. Nor have I given up. It is in limbo.

There is a potluck today at the church, and a jazz band. I had better go cook something.