The day I've been waiting for! At last. I barely slept last night, I was so excited. I'd cleared my schedule so I'd have the morning free, made plans to meet with my daughter, Sarah, and prayed to the Scavenger Gods On High to have plenty of leather samples for one and all (but mostly for me). I have plans, you see. I want to make more handmade leather purses, and free is good.
I drove through a ferocious rainstorm and joined a long line. Sarah came a few minutes later, dripping wet. We stood in line, waiting for 11:00 with the others, all of us comparing what we hoped to find at the event: buttons, fabrics, paper, tiles. Sarah said she wasn't sure what she wanted for her middle-school class (she's a teacher), but that she'd know it when she saw it. I said I wanted leather. And more leather.
"Leather?" said the lady in front of me, "Hey! I saw these gorgeous purses on the website that someone made last year! Did you see those?"
"Um..." I said, trying to seem modest when really, I'm not. "Those were mine!"
"Seriously? Cool! I loved them." The lady promised to call out "Leather!" if she saw any - If I'd call out "Buttons!" for her. We made a deal, laughing.
Then another lady, a perky-looking artistic type, admitted she was looking for leather also.
Oh, oh. Not good.
"You're looking for the same thing? Hah!" said the Button Lady's husband, grinning, "No fighting, now. Remember to be civil, Ladies!"
The line began moving. We shuffled forward, dragging bags and roll-on suitcases and backpacks in which to stow our loot. I hoped I'd brought enough: a Costco bag, one of those big green-and yellowish ones; two Amazon shipping bags from two years ago, when they were shipping items in large brown waxed paper bags in the Seattle area as a marketing experiment; and a coated plastic bag that I'd been awarded from Smithsonian for being a good customer. It ought to be enough.
"Look," said Sarah, "there's no place to put full bags!"
Last year, there'd been space to stow loot instead of having to man-handle it all over the room. "Mmm," I said, already picturing myself man-handling heavy bags all over the room. Not a nice picture.
The line moved nearer the entry. "It's each of us on our own, like last year," I said to Sarah as we moved into the gymnasium. "Meet up in an hour?" She looked at me over her shoulder, nodding. Then she was gone, toward the far wall where stones and tiles were laid out.
It was a free-for-all. I pawed through box after box full of textile samples of all descriptions...on a mission...for leather! Nothing would do but the real thing! None of that wretched vinyl stuff. I'd find a piece of leather - score! - and another one! - score! - and throw them into my bag before anyone else could get their hot little hands on them. A couple dozen four-by-four inch pieces, reds, browns, blacks, grays, all clipped together, fresh from some business's showroom caught my eye. Score! Into my Costco bag it went. I snatched and grabbed and pawed through stuff with the best of them.
What hard work, searching for free leather! My heart was beating too fast. I was dizzy from bending over. I was overloaded from crowds and noise (music blasting over the sound system...why?) and from raw excitement. And I was rapidly becoming too hot. Maybe an hour had passed? I checked my watch. But no, only twenty minutes had passed. Amazing. I pushed my current box aside and grabbed another. Leather! There had to be leather in there somewhere!
"Evelyn?" A light touch on my arm.
I took my nose out of the box I was scouring, having a hard time focusing. It was the woman I'd met last week at the TV show taping, the very nice one whose name I never quite caught, the one who I'd photographed standing next to the weird-but-wonderful dress.
"I have something for you..." she said.
It was an entire bag full of leather samples. I could have hugged her, I was so touched.
Sarah found me eventually. She lugged three of my (full) bags to her car, braving the rain. Her trunk was already full of stone pieces, she informed me, lovely rocks and granite samples that would make an amazing pathway in her backyard. She glowed with happiness and potential.
We left. If there were any more leather samples in those boxes, they would have to be gathered up by someone else - the other leather lady, perhaps.
Sarah and I regrouped over lunch, a lovely meal at a favorite cafe, the Volunteer Park Cafe in Seattle. We agreed we'd been much better scavengers this time around - not gathering everything that caught our eye, but being careful to take things we'd actually use. We hoped.
At the Cafe, after the ZeroLandfill event. We're tired, but happy.
After lunch, I hefted all four of my goody bags into the house, braving the rain again. I sat down on the couch and pulled them to me. And then, I spent the next two hours as happy as anything, pulling out each piece of leather one at a time and exclaiming over it - and it seems like I like the red pieces best, because they elicited the loudest admiration. The best part? Digging through the surprise bag of leather that my friend from the TV show had gathered for me. I must have sounded like a child opening birthday presents!
Sorting leather, as Linky the cat watches
I figured it was a couple hundred dollars worth of leather samples. The stuff is expensive - I'd purchased a bit of it from ebay last year and had been shocked at how much it cost.
So now - I get to admire my leather, and dream of new projects. My idea of heaven...