From The PaperGirl Mailbag (And the PaperGirl Retreat?)

Mail from The Netherlands. How cool is that?? Letter: Marloes, Scan: Me.
Mail from Marloes from the Netherlands! How cool is that?? Letter: Marloes, Scan: Me.


Yesterday, I went to the mighty Merchandise Mart to pick up the PaperGirl mail.

I walked the whole way from school to the Mart and I was glad I did. The day was fine, the Chicago River looked pretty good, and there was a man on the Wells Street bridge smoking a cigar when I passed. (I must admit: I like the smell of a man’s cigar when I’m in a city, crossing a bridge, going to pick up the mail.) And when I got inside the Mart, I felt happy. After all, I have a key to a mailbox that will never contain a gas bill or a credit card statement, only glorious mail from people who like this blog. People like Annabelle, Richard, Katherine, Leah, Ellen, Lorel, Marloes, Deborah, and Liz.

Where do I begin?

Remember a little while back when someone suggested there be a PaperGirl retreat? Or was that me who thought it up? I can’t remember, but let me tell you: That idea keeps rolling around in my brain and I like it rolling around. When I opened the fabulous letters in this last batch, the idea of a P.G. retreat rolled up to me again for a totally selfless reason: You people should meet each other. You really should. The letters I have here in a box at the foot of my desk are written by such interesting, funny, neat people. You’re like, pre-BFFs. Trust me.

I keep fantasizing about what a PaperGirl retreat would be. It would be a quilting/writing retreat. I’d teach patchwork and writing. You could write about your quilts. You could put words on your quilts. You could just write about your life and then, when that got really hard, you could just go sew. That’s like my entire life. And along with workshop instruction and learning and fun, we’d go to the Art Institute and look at art and have some fabulous dinners downtown. We would drink really good coffee at breakfast and we’d go see a show or something at night. But the night wouldn’t go too late because I turn into a pumpkin.

Wouldn’t that be kind of great? I really love the idea of doing a workshop weekend that blends quilting and writing. Look, you heard it here first: If there’s interest, I can schedule a phone call with the one and only Carmen and we could at least think through logistics. How hard could it be? I’ve been teaching patchwork and writing long enough. I’ve been living in Chicago long enough. Hey, Rita and Lily had fun with me — my first testimonials, perhaps!

Anywhoo, it wouldn’t be a PaperGirl Mailbag post without sharing some mail, so let’s have it. Tonight, not a lace swatch or Italian linen (I haven’t forgotten about that!) but a poem, written by the irresistible, one-and-only Leah. It might seem boastful to post this poem for everyone to see, but I can’t resist the opportunity to share its charms, Leah. Rhyming “Wonder Woman-y” and using the word “gravel”? Seriously? Leah, you leave me no choice.  Ahem:

In Chicago’s a sewist named Fons,
With talent to rival magic wands:
She enjoys frequent travel
O’er land, sea, and gravel
She just went to see Claus (not Hans.)

Her interests are varied and many,
Her life’s more busy than any; 
Creating and planning,
Studying and cramming,
She’s a little bit Wonder Woman-y.

From Chicago, New York, or D.C.,
She writes for all others to see;
Her adventures in life
All the joy, all the strife,
On her excellent blog, th’ ‘Ol P.G.’

Reading it’s always a pleasure,
A favorite use of my leisure;
It brightens my days
In so many ways
It’s fun, insightful — a treasure!

That came in the mail! Can you believe it? Amazing.

One last thing: Of course I love to get poems (and hats and chocolate from Seattle and drawings) but I must tell you that this mailbox thing is really for you, too. It’s good to write a letter to someone. It feels good. Don’t worry about writing it “well.” Don’t worry about the perfect card. Just write to me. You might discover something.

23 Responses

  1. MK
    | Reply

    Quilting? And writing? In Chicago?


  2. Dionysia
    | Reply

    I’d even come from Australia! !!

  3. M
    | Reply

    Or maybe begin at the beginning and have a PG retreat in Winterset. With a special PG movie night (outside if the theater isn’t open yet). Or a special PG day at the quilt museum. Or a picnic (!).
    The possibilities are endless. : )

    • Susan
      | Reply

      What an idea, M! 😉

    • Gina
      | Reply

      Oh yes, in Winterset!! I might forgo the writing…..would that be allowed?

  4. Jennifer Moore
    | Reply

    YES, YES, a thousand times YES! PaperGirl Retreat 2018? Count me in – I’d pre-register right now! I know that might put me at restraining order level, but I don’t care…

  5. Ivy
    | Reply

    My favorite line: “You could just write about your life and then, when that got really hard, you could just go sew. That’s like my entire life.” I mostly sew in my spare time. When that gets too hard, I read, watch TV, or go to sleep.

  6. Karen Seitz
    | Reply

    Leah, your poem rocks. Thank you for making me smile this early in the day. That hardly ever happens (I am not a morning person…)

  7. Donna
    | Reply

    Leah’s poem is a TREASURE! Seriously a happy thing and very much on point about Mary Our Paper Girl
    Thanks for sharing. I love Chicago but the Winterset idea is intriguing too for a PG Retreat

    • Linda Duff
      | Reply

      Donna .. you will L O V E Winterset … seriously!!!!!!! Right, Mary?!??!?!? 🙂

  8. Ann Bailey
    | Reply

    Oh my gosh – Leah – that poem is EXCELLENT! How fun for you Mary – the creatives are heading your way!

  9. Carol Woodworth
    | Reply

    Would attend. Love the idea.

  10. Lisa Gainey Floyd
    | Reply

    Leah’s poem should be on a wall in front of you to remind you how much we love you.

  11. Georgeanna Couldry
    | Reply

    You have a retreat I am sooooo there. Just don’t have it the third weekend in July. Have it any other time but not the third weekend in July of any year. Or if you do I’ll just have to tell everyone they’ll have to go to the float trip without me. Lol. I don’t float anyway. I stay back at the cabin and play. I’m not kidding, you set up a retreat and I will come.

  12. Lindsey
    | Reply

    I think it would be great to have a retreat. But…only a weekend? I was envisioning a week to fit in everything you listed. Apparantly my life runs at a much slower pace than yours does. If I took the train from California, I’d be on the rails many more days than a weekend. Please make it longer and show us Chicago.

    • Jan C.
      | Reply

      Where in CA? There might be enough for a convoy!

  13. Jen
    | Reply

    1. Leah poem’s made me cry a little at the end! It was SOOO GOOD!
    2. Yes, I would very very likely come to retreat 🙂 there are one or two dates that would keep me away but
    a.) Sounds super fun and great in all ways
    b.) I would have attended “The First” PG retreat which will be pretty cool! 😉

  14. Kathryn
    | Reply

    A million times yes to the retreat!

  15. Naomi
    | Reply

    Mary Fons she comes from Iowa
    Quilting beautiful blankets to throw oer ya
    I LOVE her instagram
    She dont do flim flam
    And heŕ pits are full o bread soda

  16. Monica D Hayden
    | Reply

    Totally would attend! Please keep me posted. I miss you on TV. Where did you go?

  17. Elizabeth Brown
    | Reply

    Mary (I use your first name as if we could be on first name basis… hah!), I truly love your post today and your idea of the workshop for sewing and writing was like reading an exceptionally exciting excerpt from a suspense or romance novel! I could literally see the images of the fun we would all have in my mind! I only started following your blog this year, and have honestly never seen you on TV, but love that you are pursuing and mixing two things you love, writing and quilting. I started a blog two years ago as a way to share my new found love of quilting. I would love to do a workshop with you and other PG followers to get more insight and inspiration on why I love to sew and then ways to write about it! In my mind, you are already planning this adventure in Chicago and I am mentally buying a train ticket north to come join the fun!

  18. Maggie Swofford
    | Reply

    I would definitely want to attend a writing/sewing retreat, Mary (though I don’t really know how to sew… I’m sure you’d change that)! 🙂

  19. tisha @ quiltytherapy
    | Reply

    I just want to go to dinner and chat all night, pre pumpkin time of course. Okay maybe work on some writing and sewing too. If it’s in Chicago, I could sneak away for that.

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