One wondrous gift came during a walk in that part of our neighborhood where homes had flooded with several feet of water. One such house that I'd admired for years had its driveway filled with soggy and water damaged belongings waiting to be carted off.
Among the belongings were piles of sodden fabrics. Velvets, brocades, plaids, silks, needlepoint, bolts, samples and trims.
I asked if I could look through them. "Be my guest," she said, "Take anything you want."
And within minutes she'd found a stool for herself and was helping me go through the stacks of wet fabrics.
'I think I'm getting an idea of what you like," she said. After an hour of throwing my selections up on her lawn, I went home for trash bags and my car.
It was well after nightfall when I'd spread this mildewed bounty out over my back garden to dry. There was so much that the fabrics wound around the corner of the house all the way to the kitchen door.
Dry they did the next day in the sunshine. But then for three nights, it rained. Perhaps the rain was good for these fabrics. Perhaps it drove the mildew into the ground and left the satins, brocades, checks and floral prints all better off than they'd been.
However, the 'mildew thing' began worry me so I put load after load of these marvelous fabrics through a cycle in the clothes washer and dryer. There were so many loads that I stopped counting and I have never cleaned out the lint catcher so many times. I could have stuffed a pillow.
When I left for New York, there were still several bolts of damp red velveteen spread out across the monkey grass A few more swathes hung from tree branches. Surely, they must be dry by now. Certainly they'll have a vintage weathered look.
What a gift these fabrics are. And you can guess where I'll use many of the silks and brocades. 'Second Seating' will have an oversize banquet table with a table cloth that fans out across the floor in all directions, perhaps endlessly. I am now looking for a work space big enough to spread all of these fabrics out in a pattern so that I can begin to piece this grand table cloth together. I am thinking appliques of silver plate flatware and random objects.