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Julia and Judy Tie One On

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When my youngest child left for college, I knew my full-time, 24-year homemaking career was over. I'd always wanted to be a writer, but I knew nothing about writing professionally. So in 2000, I attended the Santa Barbara Writer's Conference, chosen because I'd heard SB was a really pretty place.

I returned to the conference in 2002 with an apron project I'd been working on. When I showed the bits and pieces of Apron Memories to Rise and Judy, friends from the earlier conference, they responded with enthusiasm and incredible generosity, opening a door for me that I never even imagined knocking on. Turned out my friends knew Julia Child, who, they opined, surely had an apron story to share.

And so it happened that in June, 2002, I interviewed Julia Child in her home and collected her apron memory. Interview completed, we walked from the back patio through the house - single file, with her in the lead on a shiny blue walker with handle bars, hand brakes, and a basket. Graciousness itself, she acquiesced to my request for a photo of her in the doorway of the kitchen. Perched on a stool, she pointed out the pegboard wall with its hooks holding assorted utilities as similar to the kitchen in the home she and her husband had lived in, and a wall-mounted microwave that was more an annoyance than convenience. Kitchen chit chat with Julia Child. I willed myself not to hyperventilate.

Almost to the entryway, Ms. Child stopped at a bookcase and opened a bottom drawer. Inside were stacks of folded denim aprons.

Custom made because of my height.

Removing one, she gave it to me to hold while she retrieved a white pen from another drawer. On the bib was embroidered JULIA CHILD and centered beneath THE WAY TO COOK. Taking a seat, she autographed the apron: Bon Appétit, Julia Child. I willed myself not to speak in tongue.

Kindness begets kindness, which is what I tell myself whenever I think about giving that apron to the Santa Barbara Arts Commission for its silent auction fundraising event. For had Julia Child not expressed such kindness in granting the interview, I wouldn't have had the apron to donate at all.

Perhaps because the residents of Santa Barbara saw Julia Child out and about all the time, one of her aprons wasn't thought of as very special. There was only one bidder -- my friend Judy!

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