Bastille Day got little notice here in Houston. But I remembered Bastille Day three years ago, when Aggie and I were in Paris, making our way to Porte de Clignancourt. We spent Bastille Day meandering the corridors of this grand old flea market, where the vendors were festive, tiny French flags across their booths and offering food treats to could-be customers.
I found a cache of vintage ribbons and spent the better part of an hour picking and choosing among them. I bought three little pink saucers and then came upon a small oil painting. It was a painting to love. I loved the red coat tossed over the red chair, the buffet with painted plates, a green terrine and a small framed landscape painting, but I did not have enough cash on my person and stupidly/mistakenly, I'd left for Clignancourt without my ATM card. Aggie volunteered to lend me the sum and she withdrew the requisite amount of Euros from an ATM machine, so I could rush back for this painting filled with the presence of someone who wore a red coat. The painting just fit the length and width of my suitcase for the trip home.
And then there was the other small painting - that one of the woman in a red jacket - that I did not buy. Nor did I ask the price, and to this day, I regret not having it on a wall in my house. The woman is gray-haired, thoughtful, contemporary, at ease on a chaise. Perhaps I felt too much a spendthrift if I'd borrowed money for TWO vintage French paintings?
Aggie was on the lookout for fine old linen fabrics, but that day she found beads and a set of half moon cookie cutters. She pondered whether to keep the cookie cutters or give them to her son John. I think she kept all 55 Euros of this nest of cookie cutters. Aggie and I had a very good day at Clignancourt, or as she would say, "We met the challenge."
Aggie is much on my mind these days. A year ago I was making trips to San Antonio for visits when she had daily radiation treatments, was high on steroids - and neither did their job. A week ago, Beth Wray and I travelled to San Antonio and back in a day. With her son Richard, we sorted through 27 plastic storage tubs of Aggie's fabric collection on her very hot screen porch. We told Aggie-stories and exclaimed over each fabric we pulled from the tubs.
Some tubs came back with us to Houston. Other tubs were left with her neighbor and good friend Mary, who will share fabrics with Aggie's two friends named Jane, both of whom dye and pattern fine old linens and cottons.
Aggie's stash of Liberty of London floral prints, most of which belonged to her mother and perhaps her grandmother, will have a new home with Aggie's niece Vita. Beth and Mary and I are sending Vita that cache of Liberty prints and other fabric treasures. too. And, I saved bits of yardage of Aggie's dyed fabrics for Dickie's cousin Martha. I know throw pillows can be made to spread across her couch.
"Things" bring back the people we miss. So it is with Aggie's fabrics, the little French painting and those cookie cutters, where ever they may be.