Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Not So Secret Obsession

Most of my friends actually know about my slightly shameful and very acquisitive obsession with linens.  Some of them because they have been with me on my garage sale expeditions and visits to antique and vintage stores where I stop at every linen display.  When we had a house fire many years ago, the thing I mourned losing the most was my great-grandmother's crocheted lace tablecloth.

A few guests know about this obsession because they have accidentally opened the dedicated closet for my napkins, tablecloths and odd pieces of rarely used silver serving pieces when looking for a new roll of toilet paper or a fresh towel. This closet was added during construction by our good friend and builder Ray Holland, who suggested that adding a few feet to the back of the house would help make the laundry, master bath and master closet much more usable.  It also made room to store my collection of linens in the office bathroom which opens to the dining room.

My daughters just shake their heads when visiting and are asked to get the green napkins...."no, no, not that shade of green!" when setting the table. They anticipate the day when they will have to find a new home for all these linens when I move into a retirement community. 

For several years, I sublimated my desire to purchase new napkins as I built up the hospitality closet at St. Mark's by asking everyone to check their own closets for napkins they no longer needed. But at some point, even a large church has enough cloth napkins.  Poor me, now I can only admire the displays in stores and firmly chide myself with..."Heather, nobody needs 200 napkins! 

Paper napkins are anathema to me.  I don't like the way they look.  I hate the way they feel, and I dislike filling up the landfills with them.  So I cheerfully haul out the iron every few weeks to restore order to the linen closet.  My friends think that I am crazy. My daughters carefully edit their own possessions in order to not be accused of hoarding like their mother!  But I just blithely reach for clean, ironed napkins to go with almost any theme I chose.  By the way I "set the table."  What in the heck is a tablescape anyway?"  I paint "scapes"... landscapes that is, not create them. Here is the table set for a Mardi Gras theme dinner we hosted last night to plan one of Norm's excursions.

I had taken most of my decorations to St. Mark's in preparation for this party...
If you live in Albuquerque and want to come, there are still some tickets available, but they are going fast as last year's attendees are inviting all their friends.  Call on Tuesday to reserve a spot! The office is closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Holiday.

Captain and wife in costume 2012
Court Jesters 2012 
Incognito 2012
Party Animals 2012

 Sadly, I missed last years party when we were diving in Belize. But this year, we are getting into the Mardi Gras Season, which in many cultures lasts from Epiphany to Shrove Tuesday.

Because I had no masks, beads or other sparkly items, I improvised by layering colored napkins, using my brass candlesticks with purple and green candles, adding some gold with the brass napkins rings and piling some real jewelry in the antique wedding basket centerpiece which my grandmother  (tiring of polishing silver in Hobbs where the air is full of natural gas) ill-advisedly gold leafed!  My friend Jan, who used to live in New Orleans, lent me the wind sock to use at St. Mark's party and I still had it in the car, so hung it from a light fixture for the evening.

And have I stopped acquiring linens?  Not exactly.  When my sister was clearing some things out of her closets and no one else wanted these lovely ivory linen napkins, I rescued them from the Goodwill box.
I will enjoy using them with my wedding china (don't you love the way they echo the design in the china?) and someday perhaps one of my granddaughters will love to iron as well.  

Do you collect something...maybe even a little obsessively? I would love to hear about your collection in the comment box below or by email. 


  1. That can be your project, Mom. To teach the girls (all three) to love to iron. And I promise to save some of your linens!

  2. I abhor paper napkins as well. But my guests will just have to put up with a few wrinkles unless it is a really really special occasion. I guess my collection is obvious, anything copper. I love your table-scapes mama.


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