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Isn’t it funny how things like smells and music can jog our memory and remind us of places we’ve been or experiences we’ve long since forgotten? Like every time I open the dresser drawers in the guest room, I’m reminded of my grandmother. Even after all these years the rose pattern on her drawer liners still smell like her favorite perfume, Elsa Schiaparelli’s “Shocking.” And today an online photograph of a room I’d never seen before struck a familiar chord. 

I knew it was related to a fabric I’d been seeking for over 10 years.

John Richardson’s library, from his new book, John Richardson: At Home which will be released March 26, 2019, by Rizzoli.

I’m a fan of Heather Clawson’s blog, Habitually Chic. Heather writes about people, places, fashion and interiors. One of her recent blogs was in honor of art historian, curator, artist, dealer, industrial designer and auction-house executive, Sir John Richardson, who died this week at the age of 95. In Richardson’s elegant library is a table covered in a fabric by Lisa Corti. While her name rang a distinct bell, it was the blue and green cabbage patch roses on her fabric that got me excited.

In 2003, I purchased one of Lisa’s tablecloths when I was in Napa Valley on a photography assignment for the historic and distinguished Stag’s Leap Winery. When I got home the tablecloth sat, folded and unused, until we moved to the ranch, and I draped it over the iron daybed on the screened-in porch of my 100-year-old Little House. On pretty spring mornings I would take my books and magazines, and sometimes a pot of green tea, and spend time there, grateful to be alive and finished with chemotherapy.

From my little spot on the porch, everywhere I looked, beauty bloomed: the yellow and orange flowers on the prickly pear cactus and the pale lavender blooms on the wild onions. The rolling vistas of the Texas Hill Country were carpeted with wildflowers like Indian Paint, Mexican Hat, Evening Primrose and Texas Bluebonnets, and day by day, like the land around me, I felt the renewal of spring.

After a couple of seasons the fabric on the daybed—which wasn’t meant to have anyone sit on—faded and split. I stitched it together, but the center had thinned to the point that it split again and again.

I felt like I’d lost a dear friend. A friend who’d helped me heal and find my new normal after breast cancer.

Today as I read Lisa Corti’s name, I knew it was the same woman who’d made the fabric I’d used on the daybed. When I checked her website I found pages of tablecloths, quilts, pillows and kaftans with the same brightly colored, hand-blocked roses.

Contrary to the dreadful weather around the country… Spring is coming! Have faith! Now that I’ve moved back to the city, I’m reveling in butterflies and bees and the baby birds who’re making their first tentative flights out of the nest. 

It will soon be time to move the same iron daybed to the center of my courtyard. Once again I’m excited to say it will be covered with another Lisa Corti fabric, a quilt this time. I love the rebirth that comes with spring, don’t you?

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15 thoughts on “SIGNS OF RENEWAL”

  1. When people come to my office, they often ask me where I get my ideas for furnishings or throws. Mostly I look at them and say, “They’re all sentimental in some way.” I don’t go into more detail, but I think it’s so important to surround yourself with things — simple things — that bring you joy. I remember going to someone’s home many years ago to videotape a scene from a play I was in. I looked around, thinking I was more in the middle of Pottery Barn catalogue than a home. The only personal touches were literally what faces were in the few pictures. Good for you that you’ve found the designer again…

    • Hi Margaret, I know what you mean. So many homes look as though the owner went into a store and said, “I’ll take that and that and that… ” With few exceptions, every piece in my home has a story, a provenance of its own. The age of my things range from Pre-Columbian to modern. It’s difficult to explain how you came to choose the things you surround yourself with, and as Lisa Romeo said in an earlier comment, sometimes they find you. The size and location of my home has changed over the years, but I love how everything continues to go together. Hope all is well with you! xoxox, Brenda

  2. What a lovely little serendipity for you Brenda. I’ll look forward to seeing your daybed newly draped and sitting in your courtyard soon. It’ll be a nice change for me because we’ll be heading into Winter by then and some Spring prettiness will be much appreciated.

    • Leanne, I’m sorry your part of the world has been struck by such tragedy this week. Events like this leave us all feeling vulnerable and disconnected from the world as we knew it. I’m excited for the quilt to arrive. I’m surprised with my color choice. It’s not the yellow and red one in the photo at the top of my blog. I’m also surprised I love her pieces because I’m not a print person, but her fabrics make me happy! xoxox, Brenda

  3. What a wonderful story. I’m so happy that fabric found you. When I’m writing I love having “things” close by that remind me of what I’m writing about. I’d be lost without what some would could silly little things, but to me they evoke sweet memories.

    • Great idea, Doreen! I’m writing my memoir, my “involuntary time in the jungle,” and it’s slow going. The subject matter is difficult, not any sweet memories, but I’m going to take your idea and put one of my Pre-Columbian pottery pieces on my desk for “atmosphere.” Thank you! xoxox, Brenda

  4. Brenda; I have that tablecloth in the photograph; along with several others;;; love Lisa……

    • Vinetta! Why am I not surprised? I love her pieces. My quilt came today! Such a surprise since I just ordered it late last week and it came from Italy. Love, Brenda

    • Elizabeth, She did? Heather also went to New Orleans where the women I went to have lunch with last spring introduced her around town for some of her blogs! What a great group of women! Too bad we’re not all in the same area! xoxox, Brenda

  5. I love having found you and then seeing some of my favorite bloggers commenting. The story of the fabric finding it’s way to you is so heartening. I have had that kind of synchronicity in finding clothes. I found a vision of an Easter-egg-colored plush coat haunting my brain for a few days and then walked in Target and the coat was staring me in the face. Small material things, but they can bring pleasure and rightness, too.

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