The Coat, the Shoes, the Failures to Launch

posted in: Fashion | 33
Italian mannequins. Photo: Bert Kauffmann via Wikipedia, 2012.


Remember the patchwork coat? That was in November. Remember the patchwork Pucci shoes just the other day?

Me, I remember both of those wardrobe selections. How could I forget? When I found those items I screamed with delight, fell on the floor, got back up, did furious/idiotic math in my head so to convince myself I could afford to buy such frivolous fripperies (!) and clicked “BUY” and dreamed about being fabulous in this specific, If-Anna Wintour-Were-A-Quilter kind of way.

And the items did arrive.

Both were carefully boxed by the merchant. Both the coat and the shoes arrived safely via UPS to my receiving room where I picked them up after school/work/school/work/school. I signed out my packages and carried both boxes up to my unit where they lasted exactly .02 seconds before I tore them open with the bad scissors* and tried on the contents. And I realized that I never told you what happened after that. And it’s time.

Both items were unqualified disasters.

Question: Do you ever eat something so good you laugh?

I had strawberry soup in Paris once and it was so remarkable, so stupidly fresh and pretty, the moment I put a spoonful into my mouth, I burst out laughing. This was years ago. I hadn’t ever eaten a dessert like that. The dish — fresh strawberries in simple syrup, with mint, in a shallow bowl — was so surprising in its deliciousness, I just dissolved into laughter. How could something be that good?

When I tried on the Isabel Marant velvet Log Cabin [description mine] coat, I burst out laughing in the same kind of way, but not because it was just that purely good; I laughed with total delight in that it was so very, very bad.

To begin with, the coat was not pieced in any way. The Log Cabin pattern was printed and it was printed on material which was basically luxe polar fleece? Sort of? I’m not sure about the voodoo they-do with digital printing these days with the laser beams and whatnot, but the designers somehow figured out how to print a patchwork-y pattern on foofy, minky-like material and make a coat out of it. This could be a great thing, but the coat that these particular folks made seemed to be inspired by a Hefty 20-gallon garbage bag. I have never tried on a Hefty 20-gallon garbage bag, but I don’t need to. Because I tried on that coat.

I looked like a sad, sad, deranged lady. I looked like someone who … I looked like someone who needed a friend. Badly. So I returned it.

As for the shoes … I have never clad my foot in a more horrifying shoe. I may have screamed when I looked in the mirror. Those horrifying monstrosities got sent back the day they arrived. Truly, I say unto thee there hath never been a more hideous piece of footwear in all the land.

I have a lot to learn. But I know bad fashion when I order it.


*the good scissors are for fabric/thread, OBVIOUSLY

The Problem With Philip: On Emotional Support Dogs

posted in: Philip Larkin | 84
Oh, Philip! Is it you?? Image: Wikipedia.


It’s been awhile since I updated you on my future dog. If you don’t know about wee Philip Larkin (aka “Philip Barkin,” aka “Pipkin,” aka “Mary’s Heart’s Delight,” etc.), just click the category over there on the right-hand side of the blog that says “Philip Larkin” and you can see the posts about him.

The good news is that, thanks to all of your incredible internet sleuthing and helpful suggestions about where to get me a Philip, I believe I have found my source. Thank you, thank you to all for your input about breeders vs. shelters; your warnings about puppy mills; your care and concern for animals in this world and your care and concern for me. I am more convicted than ever: Once I am able to provide a stable home for my lil’ pup — after graduation, with a more routine travel schedule — I will put the wheels in motion.


Except that the bad news is something which has not changed since the last time we talked but is now weighing most heavily on my mind: I would have to petition my condo board and management to have Philip in my building. Because dogs are not allowed in this building … Unless.

Unless they are service animals.

Please, please read the rest of the post before commenting. Beware when/if emotions begin to take over, and use your brilliant mind to reason out your thoughts before typing anything. (I have come to expect the best from you.) And I need your help. This post is sort of like the nursing post: I’m really of two minds on all this as it applies to my own life and your input is valued. So bring your values as we look at this hot topic together. And sorry this post is so long, but splitting it into two would be chaos. I need to say the whole thing at once.

If you need filling in, the deal is this:

Service animals — often dogs, but not always — are animals trained to help their owner navigate the world due to that owner being disabled or differently-abled. Service animals can go pretty much anywhere with their owner — including places that usually don’t allow pets, like stores, airplanes, and condominiums — because their owner needs that animal to be in the world. For example, a person who is legally blind may use a seeing-eye dog; a person who needs help reaching things or retrieving things as a result of limited mobility may have a pet who can help with that. Everyone agrees these smart, loving service creatures are superheros.

Some service animals serve owners in a different, official-ish capacity as so-called “emotional support” animals. These service animals are understood to provide relief of the mental and emotional kind for those who care for them. Emotional support animals are needed less when crossing the street, more to quell anxiety attacks; less needed for alerting paramedics to an ostomy, more needed for the crushing depression and grinding loneliness that might come from a medical condition. For example.

And that’s not quack stuff or touchy-feely logic. Anyone who has a pet knows how much emotional support pets provide. And across the board, doctors, therapists, behavioral scientists, caretakers, casual observers, and certainly the owners of animals are all in agreement: Pets help people cope with hard stuff. Whether it’s cancer, HIV/AIDS, depression, PTSD, or the havoc of life, or the stubborn existential crisis, or any number of health disasters that can befall us at any time, having an animal around makes us feel better. A pet is a friend — and we all need a friend, especially when we’re facing hard stuff.

I live alone. I have friends, but I don’t have a partner. Most of the time I’m okay like that, but sometimes I am terribly lonesome. My forever GI situation and day-to-day management of my body is exhausting and if I think about it too long, I get sad, very sad, very sad. Until my insurance got canceled, I saw a therapist every 10 days because like millions of other Americans, I face depression. I can’t afford Dr. Herman right now, so I am not in therapy.

Every time I think even for a second about how happy my little Philip would make me, running toward me when I get home with his little tongue out, well, I just burst into tears. I’m literally crying right now, thinking of his funny face. It happens every time.

I could petition and do the “emotional support animal” thing and likely succeed. I write effective letters. But is it really fair to try and get special treatment to have my dog?

The reason there are no dogs allowed in my building is because dogs are hard on a building. I’m an owner in this condominium. I have agreed to the rules. I want others to play by those rules, too. What if everyone petitioned for a dog? I wouldn’t like that. I’d move, eventually, if the house was a big dog park. So, okay: Maybe if I want a dog so badly, should be the one who moves to a dog-friendly building, not be the person who inconveniences my neighbors — neighbors who moved into the building possibly because there was a no-dog policy.

A lot of the controversy surrounding emotional support animals centers on people taking their emotional support animals into airports, grocery store lines, Starbucks cafes, into bathrooms — into places that are not for dogs. If the dog is wild, if the dog misbehaves, if the dog acts like a dog at all and not like a stuffed animal, people get understandably upset. And they get way more upset if the person with the wild dog is like, “I need this animal for emotional support” when really, they just didn’t want to board their dog or they really just think they don’t need to obey the rules. There are absolutely those people out there. I read about one man taking a peacock on a plane because he needed it for “emotional support.” Dude, really?

However. We can’t tell who has a disability or not. The woman at the movie theater with her dog on her lap — her dog who is wearing a “I’m an Emotional Support Animal” jacket purchased online for a few dollars — might very well be gaming the system. And she makes it harder for others who really do need emotional support and can find that in a pet that they need close as much as possible. But she also might be dealing with crippling anxiety and agoraphobia and her pup is helping her be in the world. We don’t know who has mental illness most of the time. We don’t know each other’s lives until we do. And when we do, it’s harder to be judgemental.

Two last things:

  1. I’m afraid that if I would try for this special dispensation, I would be lumped in with the people who are gaming the system and that would be embarrassing and unfair. I’m afraid that I would be taking advantage of a system, that I don’t need Philip that badly, that if I got permission and it made people mad, it might make it harder for someone with terminal cancer to get a dog or cat that saves their life every day.
  2. When I told my family that I would have to make Philip a service animal to get permission to have him, I told them about those fears I just mentioned. Mom, Hannah, and Rebecca, almost on cue, looked at me and said, “Um … Mar, you definitely need emotional support. Get … Get the dog.”

But I don’t know. Talk to me.

The Quilt Scout and The AIDS Quilt, Part II

posted in: The Quilt Scout | 5
AIDS Quilt in Washington, 1986. Image: Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, via Wikipedia.


On the phone today, speaking with a nice lady about a gig I’m doing in Maryland next week, I had a twinge of sadness that I can’t take on any more road gigs for the foreseeable future. We were going over the lectures I’m doing for the Bayside Quilters in Easton next week, and the lady said:

“We’ve done a lot of publicity already, so we can’t switch the lectures we selected, but I did have someone ask if we could have the AIDS Quilt lecture … Maybe next time!”

When we made the date for my appearance, of course, many months ago, the AIDS Quilt lecture didn’t exist. Now it does, and I very much look forward to the time when I can give it again. I know that lecture will have a long run, but as to when the talk will be presented — and to whom — we shall have to wait and see.

For now, here is the second part of the two-part Quilt Scout column in which I share a bit of what I learned in researching the AIDS Quilt. Make sure you read the first part first and then go on to the second. I hope you’ll feel enriched by the material as I was.

Thanks, all.

p.s. The shoes arrived and I’ll have an update on those and the coat this week!

Viva La Past Post

posted in: Day In The Life | 11
Joy in Concepción, Chile. Image: Camdiluv via Wikipedia.


Holy Easter Bunny! The readership hath spoken!

Verily, I say unto thee: I will not go back and edit past entries of the ol’ PG. At all. Ever. Except for glaring typos. And at least not until a Major Publisher wants to publish The PaperGirl Compendium Criterion Collection with an Introduction By Virginia Woolf.

Yes, almost without exception*, PaperGirl readers (a handsomer, delightful readership there never was) do not want me to tinker with the past. And that’s nice to know, partly because there is no time to go back and mess with history, but also because this log has been, for many years, a record of myself. One record, anyway: My diary holds another record; my essays another. My Instagram another. My email “Sent” list another. We all leave records all over the place; I keep a few extra going, just in case.

In the spirit of not monkeying with the past, however painful it might be to read, here are three old entries that I am not even going to glance at before linking you over. I know there are new readers who haven’t gone back and read the entire blog (what, you have better things to do??) so here’s a taste for you:

This post about seeing “Oklahoma!” at the Lyric Opera. (August, 2013)

This post, which I believe is the beginning of having my very own dream dog, Philip Larkin. (August 2013)

This post about yucky ice cream. (July, 2014)

Any typos? Any pre-AP-style guide moments? Any awkward grammar? Any weird stuff? It stays! It stays — and I ain’t going anywhere.



*One nice lady, also a blogger, said that I should do what makes me happy. A sentiment in the same vein as everyone else, really, just said in a different way. 

Revision: Friend or Foe?

posted in: Tips | 96
Dorothy Quincy Hancock, thinking about my revision dilemma. John Singleton, 1772. Image: Wikipedia.


A word.

When I post open-ended questions, when I start surveying the ol’ PG readership about this or that, it’s not because I’m making you do my blogging work for me; it’s because I care about who you are. I know seems just totally unconscionable, but I get tired of myself! I’d rather hear about you!

So, tonight, a question for you: Should I go back and edit old blog posts?

Now — and this is important — should I go back and edit them not because I’m prepping them for publication or because whatever, but should I go back and edit/rewrite because I think they aren’t written as well as I could write them now? Or because they just are weird or there are typos or because the internet is Forever and I want to make myself sound funnier/smarter/wiser forever than I actually was at the time of writing the post?

This is a 21st century problem, y’all.

Because I was going to do a “Pendennis Picks Three” tonight on account of how I’m so tired. I was going to rest on my laurels because I’m on location for Quiltfolk (I can’t tell you where we are for Issue 07 but it’s going to blow your mindand I need to rest. Badly. But when I pulled up some entries from 2015, 2016, etc., to post as a flashback and thereby not have to make new words, I read them over and was like, “Aggghh! No! I wrote such lame sentences in that post!”

And now here I am, more tired, and writing new content.

Should I just leave old blog entries as time-capsules?? Leave them to represent myself at that time of writing? Or should I do whatever I want with my blog and fix them up how I like them? Or like them now, as opposed to then.

I need help. My brain hurts.


Chicago: It’s Not That Cold (Unless It Is)

posted in: Chicago | 15
Chicaaaaaaago. With ice. Image: Wikipedia.


When I am not in my fair city of Chicago and tell someone that I live in the fair city of Chicago, they always say one or more of the following things:

  1. “I love Chicago!”
  2. “Oh, no! But it’s so cold there!”
  3. “Okay.”

It’s interesting just how often folks will say the second thing. About the cold. I mean, Chicago is a city recognized for genius architecture, the best restaurants in the nation, a literary history so rich the streets are practically paved with books. But what do people reference?

The cold.

Sometimes this is tiresome because it’s not that cold in Chicago. I mean, yeah, it’s cold in winter! It’s the Midwest! We’re not on the Equator! We have four, somewhat recognizable seasons! But are we any colder than any other place in the Midwest? I grew up in Iowa and I remember snow drifts that engulfed Mom and Dad’s old Volvo and, I was in junior high, an ice storm that coated the trees so heavily, my sisters and I cowered together in the living room and listened, horrified, as branches all over the neighborhood splintered off their trunks. That was something.

“But the lake!” a person will cry. “Doesn’t the lake make it colder?? And the wind??

To some extent, yes. “Lake effect” weather is actually a thing: Due to the ocean-sized Lake Michigan that makes our entire eastern border, Chicago gets some funky, quick-change weather, sometimes. And … FACT FLASH! The “wind” in our “Windy City” nickname was not coined as a result of some constant weather condition; in fact, the “wind” referred to the hot air of Chicago politicians, as I understand it.

Anyway, we don’t have that windy a city, however we got the name. I was in downtown Minneapolis a few years ago in February and I remember saying very, very, very bad words into my scarf as I made my way from the parking lot to my hotel, battered by a truly malevolent icy wind.

The past few winters haven’t been that cold around here, so I have felt fussy at times with people who bring up the whole, “Chicago is so cold! It’s so cold in Chicago!” thing.


In the past week or so, it’s barely topped 35 degrees. Y’all, it’s so cold. I forgot my gloves the other day when I headed out to school and I said bad words into my scarf again. It’s cold. Winter is getting a little tiresome and I am feeling the need for a green shoot or bud, somewhere.

Look, I can be wrong. I can stand corrected.

In a snow drift.

Missed My Lecture on the AIDS Quilt? The Quilt Scout is IN!

posted in: The Quilt Scout | 6
One of some 50,000 panels made for the AIDS Quilt. Image courtesy Wikipedia.


Did you miss my lectures at QuiltCon this year? Hey, it’s okay: I was so nervous before both of them, I almost forgot to put on pants.

The first lecture I gave in Pasadena was on the AIDS Quilt. If you did miss it, you’re in luck: I have written a condensed text version of it for Column #61 for the Quilt Scout, the column that I have written for Quilts, Inc. since 1999.

Psyche! I started writing the Scout in 2015. In 1999, I was a silly human sophomore at the University of Iowa, throwing (great) parties and scamming my way through Italian 2 homework while in rehearsal for the theater department’s Playwright’s Festival. Good times, people.

I digress.

I take my work very seriously, especially when it comes to lectures. I spent hours and hours and hours and days and days in research for both lectures, which means that in the case of the talk I was scheduled to give on the AIDS Quilt, I spent a year reading about the AIDS crisis in America and beyond, the creation and life of the quilt itself, the backlash to the project, and everything else.

Measuring myself against all the other work I have done, I know my AIDS Quilt lecture tied for the Best Lecture I E’er Did Lect. It tied with the second lecture I gave at QuiltCon: “Modern Quilts: Roots + Frontiers.” (I’d ask you to inquire about hiring me to come speak to your group but I am off the road these days, what with all the things going on.)

Please head over to the Quilt Scout to read what I have prepared for you. Learning about the AIDS Quilt will enrich you as a quilter and as a citizen and as a human — and you think you know what you’re going to learn, but you’re not. You’re going to learn other things. Because that is exactly what happened to me. Yep. You and me. We’re the same. We are exactly the same.

Except … that these shoes are going to arrive at my building tomorrow and I think … I think I’m the only one on that one.


High Fashion Tempts Me Again With Ugly/Fabulous Quilt-Inspired Item

posted in: Confessions, Fashion | 37
AGGGH! Emilio Pucci patchwork mules. Image: The Outnet.



Remember this coat that I coveted MOST DEARLY? Well, high fashion is back with a slightly-ugly-but-also-totally-amazing PATCHWORK SHOE. People, it’s Pucci. Pucci! Not Gucci: Pucci. The famed 70s designer who made the flamboyant, wacky, swirly-print scarves and the disco pantsuits? That’s Pucci. Gucci is like, ladies who lunch in the Gold Coast and have three cell phones for reasons no one should probably ask about.

These shoes. I mean, it’s really hard on me, seeing these shoes. Let’s examine pros and cons. Cons first, in hopes I will convince myself not to buy them immediately.


  1. Just … no. The term jolie-laide comes to mind. Jolie-laide is a French term which literally translates to “beautiful-ugly.” These shoes are beautiful-ugly, straight-up.
  2. Even with a 30-percent off code — given to me because I haven’t shopped at the site lately because I am seriously not in a position to shop right now — they are going to cost a cool $240. Which isn’t as much as the velvet Log Cabin coat (on which I realize I need to do a final update.) But still. That’s some bread and even though I have a new job, it’s still part-time. Technically.**
  3. I actually loathe the mule as a shoe style. In fact, I have an unofficial No-Mule Rule. My general position on “high” heels, which I wear almost exclusively, is that as long as the toe isn’t too narrow and the pitch isn’t too dramatic — by “the pitch,” I mean the slope of the shoe’s sole from heel to toe — heels aren’t uncomfortable. I’m not wearing stilettos; I’m wearing pumps, mostly. And these shoes make me feel good, as I mentioned yesterday. But the mule … Yuck. The mule’s pitch is usually very severe and what’s more, the heel is chunky by design. I have narrow ankles but wide, strong, Norwegian milkmaid calves, so a block heel is pretty bad for my stems, you dig? That these shoes are mules is a big con, here.
  4. And there are bows! No! Why the bows?? I don’t do bows!


  1. Oh, good God! There are quilt blocks on these shoes!
  2. Pucci!
  3. I just bought them. I JUST BOUGHT THEM!!! AAAGHHHH! MY ORDER NUMBER IS 2203ZO26F1801H!!!!

I am laughing and laughing right now … Oh, you guys. I clicked on the shoes again so I could describe them for you and meditate on the dumb things and what did it say? What did the little red dot say? “Just 1 Left!” Fie! Fie, you foul demons of online retail! Wretched algorithmic spawns of Satan! I wrend my garments! I wrend my high-fashion garments and I throw my stupid mule shoe at your screen! YOU GOT ME. YOU GOT ME AND MY CREDIT CARD YOU FIENDISH FASHION SUCCUBI! (Succubi? Hm. Spell-check didn’t flag it.)

These shoes are awful. And they’re so great. And there’s free shipping.

And free returns.

I’ll let you know.

Have a great day,


I Can’t Be Me, But I Can Be Her

posted in: Day In The Life | 17
Well, they’re not my style. But what a woman! Shoes, c. 1720, England. From LACAMA, via Wikipedia.


I do this thing.

When I’m struggling to get something done, or when I have to make a tough phone call, or when I need to do/be/sound better than feel, I just pretend I’m someone else.

Now, I don’t go by a different name or anything. I don’t misrepresent who I am. That would be super weird. This is an internal thing I do, an inner monologue type situation. When faced with something I feel powerless to do — and you better believe sometimes that’s just like, getting out of the house and being a person in the world — I say to myself, often out loud:

“Well, I can’t do this. So I’m just going to pretend I’m a woman who can.”

Sometimes I pretend I’m a Katherine Hepburn type or a Madonna type. It’s not that I’m doing an impression or that I would trust Madonna’s judgement in all things. It’s that I need to channel a woman who seems like she would not be afraid of X, Y, or Z.

Shoes help me here, too.

If I am feeling weak, feeling sunk, it helps me every time if I put on a pair of smart shoes. I’ll brush the dirt off my shoulders (metaphorical dirt, usually, but you never know), buckle myself into a snappy shoe, and bing. Something changes. Suddenly, my feet are stronger, more … accounted for, strangely? Yes, I become more accounted for, somehow, on the Earth. And this makes me better able to pretend to be someone else who can do all the things I can’t.

It’s then that I can walk out the door. And wonder of wonders, the woman I’m pretending to be?

She does okay.

Survey About Quilting / Feminism for My Grad School Paper

posted in: Day In The Life | 10

Crazy Quilt, by Tamar Horton Harris North, 1877. Image: Newark Museum, via Wikipedia.


Hi, gang.

I posted about this on my Facebook page this morning and I already have close to 1,000 responses. If you haven’t already, I would deeply appreciate you sparing under 20 seconds (unless you answer the optional third question) to take this 100 percent anonymous survey about quilting and feminism.

This is anonymous. I don’t require you to enter your name, email address, or anything of the kind in order to contribute your answer/thoughts. I’m writing a paper for grad school that is interested in this question — I’m not out to draw conclusions right now. It’s just a study. In case you haven’t clicked over already, the questions on the survey are:

  1. Do you consider yourself a quilter? (Y/N/Maybe)
  2. Do you consider yourself a feminist? (Y/N/Maybe)
  3. Is there anything you’d like to say?

And that third question is optional.

Hey, man: I need to graduate. And before I graduate, I need to write a final paper. Before my final paper, I need to write my midterm essay. This data is going to go a long way toward allll those things. So share the survey link with your friends and family and guild members — even your cat, if she quilts! I don’t discriminate between people and cats! I’m a catiminist!

Seriously, thanks to all who take the time.

L’il Miss Study Hall

Beware Of Almonds, GI Sisters and Brothers (Part II)

posted in: Confessions, Sicky, Story | 32
I love, love, love macarons. And almond paste. But this is my nightmare. Image: Wikipedia.


My post from a few days ago was a real cliffhanger — and then I kept you cliff-hanging. I’m sorry about that. There are a lot of spinning plates right now and sometimes I have to set a plate on the shelf for a second and rest my … what, fingertips? My plate-spinning stick? How does plate-spinning really work? Any actual plate-spinners out there, leave your remarks in the comments.

Also, this post has been incredibly hard to write for reasons that will soon be obvious. I’ve been dragging my feet.

Where was I, before time was up? Oh, right: Raw almonds for breakfast. If you haven’t read Part I, do that and then brace yourself for some extremely unpleasant (and personal) anatomic details.

The colon, also known as the large intestine, is a kind of shop vac: It sucks up the fluid from what you eat and drink so that the body can make solid waste. Then it holds onto … all that for a period of time and then, you know, you get rid of it. My shop vac was removed 10 years ago because it was, in the words of the surgeon who really messed up my surgery, “completely gone on the left side.”

What this means is that I don’t produce solid waste and never will again. I can eat things that are better for my condition and things that are way worse for it, but to go through a list of good vs. bad foods is a pointless exercise in many respects; what works only sometimes works and what doesn’t work for awhile suddenly isn’t so bad. But almonds are bad, full-stop. Which brings us to the second dignity-sucking feature of this tale and honestly, part of the reason I delayed in getting back to it. Let’s talk about fissures.

A fissure is a tiny, usually thread-thin crack between one thing and another. A fissure is relatively (very) narrow and not jagged; it’s not a rip or a tear, exactly. You can see fissures in rocks. Hairline fractures in bones would be a good visual. Fissures can happen in body tissue, too, and when they happen, it is bad. I had a fissure at the tail (!) end of my digestive tract and that is as much as I’ll tell you in terms of anatomy because we all know what I’m talking about.

My fissure arrived in late 2013 and was diagnosed as “acute” and “chronic”. Because I no longer have my shop vac, remember, I go to the bathroom a lot during the day and through night. Way more than most people, even with my J-pouch surgeries. If you have a fissure where I had one, the last, last, last thing on the planet you want to do is go to the bathroom. And at that time, because I didn’t know I was allergic (or had a reaction to) almonds, I was typically going 8-9 times a day and as many times through the night.

The pain of my condition bent my mind. It eviscerated my will, my fortitude, my spiritual condition. I squalled like a newborn. I babbled incoherently to no one as I pep-talked myself into going back to the guillotine, aka bathroom, over and over. The cramps were terrible. I had to go. And when I went, only an acidic trickle would come and I clawed my thighs until they were scraped and raw, too. It was a dark, dark time. And I told very few people about it. I didn’t tell you much about it, did I? Why?

It was so embarrassing. And the doctors said the fissure would likely settle down, though it will probably always be there, I understand?) A surgery that can be done as a last resort, but it’s not always successful; besides, the thought of more surgery in my GI tract — anywhere, anywhere in my GI tract — sent me into further paroxysms of despair, so I did not allow myself to see surgery as an option. Also, I am tough, Midwestern, stoic. Also, I tend to isolate. I’m a writer, by nature an introvert. And you bet I was depressed, for obvious reasons. And when you’re depressed, you just … You know. Nothing.

Look, the whole reason I’m telling this story is because I don’t recall anyone ever asking me what I was eating. And I think that would’ve been good. Raw almonds can cause diarrhea. And when you’re going to the bathroom as much as I was, the fibrous skins are really, really hard on a bottom. Why didn’t anyone help me put this together?

Before anyone gets arch please remember what I have written many times over the 12+ years of this blog: My doctors, surgeons, and nurses saved my life on several occasions and, if I can find new ones, medical professionals will help me live a long time. I’m not hating on doctors. I’m just bewildered, as usual, by the chaos of it all.

Good grief, let’s wrap this up, shall we? I rarely give advice, but here’s some I feel good about:

If you know someone with a J-pouch; IBD; Crohn’s; Ulcerative Colitis; diverticulitis, or any serious affliction related to the intestines, ask us about their diet. But — and this is so important — don’t tell us what to eat or suggest we do this or that. It’s so hard to be told, even by well-meaning people, that you’re doing eating wrong. (For example: The German and the Russian both pushed yogurt on me constantly and made me feel like a failure because I didn’t consume quarts of it daily.)

Telling a person, “You should eat this” or “[X] is a magic food for the gut” is different from just asking what’s in our diet. Asking us what we eat from day to day gives us an opportunity to think about it. Maybe there is something we could do differently. I mean, it’s crazy: If I have even a touch of almond milk or eat something like I did the other day that has raw almonds in it, it’s awful. But I didn’t know for a long time.

There you have it, my suffering GI Janes and Joes. Here’s the question:

“Shh … Shh. It’s gonna be okay. Deep breath. Why don’t you tell me what you’re eating, honey. Let’s start there.”

The Backpage

posted in: Confessions | 6
“Promotional postcard of Jean, the Vitagraph Dog”, c. 1911. Courtesy Wikipedia.


This beautiful pup is standing in for Mary at the moment. She isn’t able to post at the moment, but she’ll be back.

Yes, she’ll be back. Like the cat … who came back the very next day. Like Jack, who learned how to “get back” in the popular song. Like an Indiana Jones-type person who, ahead of his ragtag bunch of misfit archaeologists, discovers quicksand and turns to the team with his arm outstretched to say, “Get back! Get … back.”

That’s like Mary right now. She’s every cat, every Jack, every scruffy/hot archeoloigst/college professor faced with quicksand. She’ll be back. And when she comes back, she’ll finish her story about almonds and all the other stories she has to tell. There are so many, you see. The time is the problem.

Yo, clock: Get back.

Beware Of Almonds, GI Sisters and Brothers (Part I)

posted in: Sicky | 29
Welcome to hell. Image: Wikipedia.


Something just happened and it is bad.

I accidentally ate a food that has almonds in it and now I wait for suffering. That’s not me being dramatic. In about two hours, it’s curtains for me.

First will come the twinges of pressure, followed soon by the first cramp. Then the gurgle. Then the clutch. The clench. And then it’ll begin: I’ll be in and out of the bathroom many times. How many times? Many. It’s likely I’ll cry at some point because when you’re in and out of the bathroom as many times as I’m about to go, there are breakdowns. First come the soft tissue breakdowns, if you catch my drift? Then, because of that, emotional breakdowns are likely. I’m in for pain tonight.

Rather than suffer in silence, I decided this was a terrific opportunity (woo!) to tell you about my problem with almonds so that you can benefit from it or relay it to anyone you know who suffers from GI distress of any kind; most specifically, someone like me, who possesses a J-Pouch. Warn them that for a dear friend of yours (that’s me) almonds are a hellscape of torture and agony and, if they are like me, these nuts should be avoided at all costs.

[If you aren’t sure if someone you know has a J-Pouch, you may not know them well enough to ask; if you’re kind and the two of you grow closer, however, they will eventually tell you about it. If you have a J-Pouch, you definitely know. And for all those who don’t have their very own J-Pouch and don’t know anyone with one, please keep reading, as this post is for you, too. Life is long and you may very well use this information later.]

Now, then.

I’ve heard that folks with Diverticulitis can’t eat popcorn or things with seeds, e.g., strawberries, “everything” bagels, etc. The trouble is that super-small stuff can get caught along the way and I understand that when this happens it can be blindingly painful, often requiring a hospital visit.

But for me, popcorn is great. I have it (with a nice pinot noir) for dinner more often than I’d care to admit. Some of my other other brothers and sisters in the intestinal failure business can’t eat gluten — ever. I’m halfway in this camp and when I pass up gluten at a restaurant, I like to laugh and say, “Yeah, but I was gluten-free before it was cool.” In my case, too much gluten causes inflammation and for a girl whose large intestine immolated itself, keeping inflammation to a minimum is the way to go. But unlike people with an intense gluten allergy, I can have spaghetti sometimes and no one dies.

Ah, but almonds.

Let me take you back to 2013. You’d think the worst chapter of my health odyssey was Ground Zero, ten years ago, at Mayo Clinic, when they removed most of my guts and screwed up the surgery. You’re half-right but half-wrong, too, because five years later, every IR drain, every PICC line, every setback and ostomy separation at Ground Zero went head-to-head with the chronic fissure that showed up and utterly ruined me for at least a year. The fissure ruined me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, endlessly, always, constantly, during that time. The fissure became the axis around which my entire life revolved. The fissure became a piece of my consciousness. The fissure was my slave-driver, and I use that term with an understanding of its revolting definition.

And in all the hospitalizations (I lost count); the sick days; the awful ways I tried to cope with the problem (you’ll have to wait for my tell-all memoir for that) — in all that time, no doctor, nurse, or well-meaning pal ever, ever asked me: “What are you eating?”

If they had asked me, I would’ve said, weakly, traumatized: “I don’t know .. Not much of anything because I’m so scared to pass it … In the evening, I’m probably drinking too much Chardonnay because, ha, ha, it isn’t solid … Um, for breakfast … Oh, I eat almonds and Nutella in the morning, usually.”

That’s right. My breakfast for many months — because it made me happy, it was easy to prepare, went great with my Earl Gray tea, and was gluten-free, which was supposed to be a good choice for me — was a handful of almonds in a pretty teacup with a dollop of Nutella on the top. Who wouldn’t want to eat that, right? And I wasn’t supposed to eat toast, after all. Gluten bad. So Nutella and almonds are what I ate. Day after day.

And day after day — ah.

Sorry. It’s time to go. I’ll pick this back up tomorrow, and I won’t make you wait. But I can’t wait. Because it’s starting.



A Red Wall?!

posted in: Art, Tips | 29
There wasn’t a picture of a red wall, but this red door is roughly the right shade. Photo: Wikipedia.


I said the other day how I need a “new view” and as usual, many of you responded with interesting things to say.

Some of you told me (in the kindest way) to simmer down for the moment and focus on what’s in front of me; others told of their own “gypsy” nature and encouraged me to never stop wanting to view the new.

As usual, you must all know I see every comment, I do read them, and I definitely love them — even when they’re not in agreement with something I’ve written in a post. PaperGirl readers are a truly classy and intelligent bunch and you’re so generous, good grief. So it pains me to mostly not ever comment back but there’s no way. There’s just no way. It’s a big enough job that I could employ a social media person to help me, but that’s been true for years and there’s never been any social media person around here. Not replying to comments is impossible and lame; having someone else replying to you all feels costly and lamer. So here we are.

Wait! This post is supposed to be about a red wall!

My red wall.

I’m going to have a wall painted and the wall is going to be red. Can you stand it?? One red wall. Red is my signature color, of course; my “Heart Plus” logo features my favorite shade, viz. a bright crimson. I actually heard someone say when trying to describe a shade of red, “it’s like, you know, Mary Fons Red” and this pleased me a great deal.

I have painted walls bold colors in my day, but it’s been awhile. I’ve gone for airy and light these past few years and I will always need light and air or wall colors that communicate such things. But it’s time to warm up the joint a little. It’s time to see a new view! And since can’t pick up and move next week/month, it’s time to do something drastic. My west-facing wall (which is quite long) will be Mary Fons Red within the next week or two. And guess what?

I’m not painting that wall. 

Oh, it’s tempting. It’s allllways tempting to paint a given wall or room myself. Because painters are expensive. Because I can actually do it, after all, and what’s a little paint can/foam roller elbow grease? The trouble is that my elbows are killing me. I have no grease to spare. No, I’m going to find a reputable painting outfit and hire out the work. My red has been chosen. My decision is made. Bring on the guys with the ladders and the cute overalls.

Any advice on hiring painters or prepping for their visit? And how much is this gonna cost, anyway? I promise to take pictures and post them either on Instagram or on the FB page.


Popularity Contest

posted in: Paean | 10
Artwork for East Texas State Normal College’s 1922 yearbook. Image: Wikipedia.


Most of the time, for most readers, this blog is a pair of slippers. Comfortable. Nice to slip on. Occasionally amusing, if you’re the bunny slipper sort. I figure if you’re the bunny slipper sort, you are still amused by your slippers after all these years. I want to be that for you. I want that relationship. Let me be your bunny slipper.

As such, most of the time our relationship doesn’t experience high-highs or low-lows. But every once in awhile, the ol’ PG is more stiletto, less slipper. More Doc Marten, less flip-flop. Some posts blow up a little.

Yes, over the years, certain posts on the ol’ PG have gone bananas in terms of reader response. The way to track this kind of thing is to be a wizard about website analytics and stats, but plebian moi just goes by Facebook likes and shares and what is, in this plebe’s estimation, the clearest measure of engagement: comments on the blog itself.

Here are a few of the most-engaged-with posts in recent memory. I’d go into the actual data and reach back further, but I’m serious when I say I don’t know how to do that.** The number in parenthesis is the number of comments the post got.

  1. The first time I directly discussed politics. (144)
  2. When I announced my editorial directorship of Quiltfolk. (107)
  3. Yesterday’s post. (89 and counting … )
  4. The time the nurse lady asked me about my colon after I told her I literally do not have one. (86)
  5. My first love letter to Quiltfolk. (55)
  6. The post the day after the London Bridge bombing. Note: comments swelled largely due to a misunderstanding. (45)
  7. A confession of knee pain, though this is tied with “I Want The Coat.” (46)
  8. The one about dryer lint, which makes me love you more than ever. (44)

If you haven’t read some of those posts, it’s safe to say your fellow readers recommend them. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so much conversation, right?

The engagement-level examination has all come up because of the fabulous, thoughtful conversation that took place — and is still taking place — over yesterday’s post about breastfeeding in public. I keep this blog for many reasons; discourse like what I’ve seen in the comments section from yesterday is one of those reasons.

Hey, Marianne Fons?

Since you faithfully read my blog every time I post; since you are my biggest fan while still giving me full autonomy and freedom to find my own path in this life; since you personally commented on yesterday’s post, I’d like to take this moment to say thank you. I know you’re reading this.

Thank you for giving me life. My life is not easy, but I’m grateful to have the chance to try it on for size. Thanks for birthing me on August 6th. It was probably hot in Iowa! Yuck! Thanks for breastfeeding me, even if it was annoying/awkward when in public. I’d like to officially apologize if I was ever a nuisance in that regard. Thanks for weaning me off the breast and onto whatever it is I drank after that. Didn’t I do a soy formula for awhile?? Thanks for smashing my peas when I was ready for solid food. Thanks for dealing with everything that came after the peas.

To all the readers of this blog who think and engage with their fellow humans in a thoughtful, curious way: thank you. To all the mothers in the world, public nursing or not: Thank you, too.


** A website overhaul is coming soon, people, so I may actually know how to do that soon!

Could We Talk About Nursing?

posted in: Confessions | 118
Migrant Mother, 1936. Photo: Dorothea Lange via Wikipedia.


Being publicly introspective is one thing.

I’m obviously comfortable — or comfortable enough — to puzzle over my personal emotions and experiences here on the ol’ PG. This blog has existed well over a decade, after all; it must not be too painful or I wouldn’t do it. But it’s important to point out that most of the time when I write a post with question marks all over it (literally and/or figuratively) it’s that I’m confused or conflicted or just curious about something within myself, within my lived experience. I’m the interviewer and the interviewed; I’m my own judge, jury, executioner, mortician, etc. Being confused about myself or wondering about my own life is a closed circuit. Do you follow me? If not, it’s my fault, not yours. This is hard to explain.

Now, having a blog gets weirder when I’m puzzling over something that is outside of my experience, especially when that something is more controversial, say, than a broken clock. In fact, when I’m puzzling over something serious, something I have no experience with and legitimate confusion about, my general rule is to not blog about it until I have some damn sense.

But I legitimately don’t know what to think about public breastfeeding and I want to ask you about it so that I can begin to maybe work through my confusion. And it’s scary, because I take great pride in the quality of the comments on PaperGirl (and my Facebook page) and whenever something even slightly spiny comes up on the ol’ PG, I shut my eyes real tight and pray you all do the right thing and don’t “talk ugly” to each other, like Gramma Graham would say.

You have never once talked ugly. But still: Read the rest of this post, take a mo’, and then comment if you wish to comment. And I hope you do! Because I’m serious about need perspective from various peeps, especially those who have breastfed their babies on planes.

Here’s the deal:

Today on the plane back from Portland, I looked to my right and wow! I did a double-take: A woman across the aisle was nursing her infant and Mama’s breast was out. Her (lovely! natural! blessed-be!) most generous cantaloupesized right breast was present and accounted for, actively being used for what is, absolutely, an amazing, beautiful, exquisite reason. The breast was out so to feed a human being she birthed from her literal body. Miraculous! Understandable!

And yet!

Wow, that was a very naked breast in a very public place in 21st century America. And I was like, “Okay. I cannot make sense of this data at this time.” This is a foreign sensation for me, as I like to think I have a fairly strong philosophical foundation that informs how I feel about most things. This one had me stymied, friends. It really did. Some of the back-n-forth in my mind went like this:

ME: It’s indecent, showing that much naked flesh, and it’s a sex organ, right?

MYSELF: Yes, and it’s a life-giving breast! You are brainwashed by a germaphobe-run society! It’s beautiful! You’re weird, not her!

ME: Having the whole thing out in front of God and Southwest Airlines Flight 55 seems a little dramatic, though. Come on. Like, she is trying to be seen right now.

MYSELF: She’s a nursing mother! What is your deal?? Covering up what nature has so brilliantly put in place is wrong and a function of the patriarchy!

ME: Yeah, okay, sure, but good grief, Woman! Cover your boob! A little!

MYSELF: It is early.

ME: No, it’s not “early.” It’s 5:05 a.m.

MYSELF: (Pause.) But it’s beautiful!

ME: I’m going to wrap my scarf around my head and go to sleep, now.

Okay. That’s it. That is literally all I can write for you without going into some deep, armchair-psychology self-analysis about what surely are repressed feelings about not having kids or a partner at this point in my life. I’m not interested in all that. I just need some input.

Very open breastfeeding in public. Discuss, my loves.

Hello, Portland

posted in: Work | 14
Portland trolley on 11th Ave., passing Powell’s Books. Photo: Steve Morgan via Wikipedia.


I’m in Portland.

I’m not here for a vacation, not to visit a friend. I’m not here for a wedding or a funeral. I’m not here to attend Spring Quilt Market, though I will be here in May for that very event.** It would be lovely if I were in Oregon to visit a beau, but no, that’s not the reason I’m here. And of course, it would be normal if I were here for a guild or shop gig; after all, a good deal of the work I have done for the better part of eight years has been teaching/lecturing work. But I’m not here for that.

I’m in Portland for Quiltfolk, which has fast become part of my heart. I’ve been here since Thursday because we’re in press for Issue 06: Arizona, which means I’ve been putting in loong days to get the magazine as perfect as possible before we send it to the printer and go onto all the other business before us. Quiltfolk is why I’m here. And now that I’ve told you the reason, can I tell you something else? Something besides how much I love making magazines? (I love making magazines.)

Okay: I like Portland.

Now, if you’re a longtime reader of the ol’ PG, if you followed me to New York and Washington and back to Chicago, you may be alarmed. If there were stage directions for you right now, this is what those stage directions would look like:

BLOG READER reads Mary’s “I like Portland” line, yelps as if in pain, throws laptop/phone against the wall. Then:  

BLOG READER: “Mary!! No!! You love Chicago! Chicago!! Don’t leave your home! Don’t move to Portland! What, are you kray?? Snap out of it! Go to sleep!”

I love that you know the whole story. Look, I need you to remember the whole story. You’re my alibi. This whole blog is a public record so that when I’m old and gray I can remember everything that happened, with corroboration. I also want you to know I love that you see what I know: Chicago is the place where I belong.

The way I see it, there’s the place where we are born, and there are places where we live. But there are only a few places — maybe even only one place? in the end? — where we truly belong. In my case, I was born in Iowa, and that’s always going to be special. I have lived in lots of wonderful places, viz. Iowa City, Manhattan, Washington, D.C. and I loved all kinds of things about those places and found parts of myself in all of them. But I belong in Chicago. Specifically, downtown Chicago. The Loop. My soul is home in the Chicago Loop. When I get on a plane to Midway or O’Hare, I smile this dumb smile, simply because I get to see the place again.

All that said, I’m going to be coming to Portland a lot more in the future, and I see these hills and bridges. I see the clouds give way to sun that gives way to clouds. I catch my reflection in the window of a Rite Aid drug store as I go for a coffee and I skip across the trolley rails and I think, “I could have a little place here, a pied a terre, for work … ” And the fantasy makes me feel alive.

Which is all I’ve ever wanted, whatever the place.


**At that point, barring disaster, I will have have my master’s degree. But I’m not counting chickens. Or 

Bring Back Bonnets

posted in: Family | 20
Silk and straw capote bonnet. Spain, c. 1840. Photo: Wikipedia.


Like most women — not all, but most — I am in a constant battle with my hair.

I could soften that and say with a thoughtful look, “I am in a constant conversation with my hair”, but that hip-sounding statement — aside from sounding pretentious — is simply not true. A conversation is defined as “a talk […] in which news and ideas are exchanged.” Believe me: No new ideas have been exchanged between me and my wimpy hair since the 2nd grade when Mom let me perm my bangs. Now that was a conversation! But that was a long time ago.

These days, my relationship with my hair is absolutely a war: It’s my wimpy hair vs. me. The war is my wimpy hair trying to be its wimpy self and me, doing my best to eliminate the wimp release the tousled, volumized woman within me just dying to get out.

The good news is that lately, I’ve been winning. I’ve got a round brush and I know how to use it. I have a great curling iron. I like my shampoo. And it’s exciting, because lately, four or five days out of the seven-day week, I have at a Decent Hair Day. Sometimes, it’s an actual Good Hair Day, and last week, I had a Great Hair Day … until I went outside.

Oooh, was I mad!

My hair, which looked so boss when I rode the elevator down to the lobby, was toast within five minutes of being out in the city’s early spring weather. Wind, mist, more wind: My hair didn’t stand a chance. And as I walked to class, trying to turn my head with the wind (as opposed to against it) in order to keep at least a few carefully-combed strands in place, I thought of my grandmother, Gramma Graham, and her plastic bonnets. In an instant, I finally understood what I always saw as so old-lady-ish, so old-fashioned. No, no, I thought, as I tried to hold down the awesome “swoop” thing I had achieved with the back of my hair, she was right. Gramma Graham was so right.

I thought, “I need a plastic bonnet. Any bonnet. Bonnets make sense.”

And they do. They protect your face from the sun; they protect your hair from the elements. They can look rather beguiling if you want them to. Bonnets are cross-cultural, too, as many cultures feature bonnet-like headwear. The bonnet, man. The bonnet! Let’s bring it back. I like my hair right now. I’d like to see it live longer than 20 minutes.

I think about my Gramma Graham and I miss her. She was a good woman to the core. Ethical, loving. She loved my mother and she loved me and my sisters. And she had great hair, too; not wimpy at all. Gramma actually went prematurely gray at age 30, and no one has ever looked more beautiful, I think, than my gray-haired, thirtysomething grandmother did in the 1950s.

The bonnets she wore are long gone. But practicality is easy enough to find, and reasons for connecting with your family are everywhere, if you’re looking.

‘Where Can I Hear Your Lectures, Mary Fons?’

posted in: Story, Work | 12
No, it’s not Impressionism. It IS art, however, and we look great! “Two Ladies in the Cafe” by Kirchner, c. 1928. Image via Wikipedia.


We’re sitting at a legendary cafe in Paris in the coolest arrondissement. I don’t know which one that is, but in this fantasy, you and I hang out there all the time. We’re so cool as Americans in Paris, we like don’t even remember the name of the street we’re on. In a good way.

It’s springtime. Arborial perfection is blooming all around us, hedges are full and lush again — it’s just ecstasy in flowers, in France, everywhere you look. The whole world is an impressionist painting. What I’m trying to say is that in this fantasy, the world is pretty and we are cool. Also, we are drinking the best cafes au lait of our lives.

Also we’re both fabulously wealthy and neither of us have health insurance problems or student loans (or whatever it is you’re stressing about right now.) On top of all that, you, my dear, have never looked better. And I tell you so.

“You’ve never looked better,” I tell you. You demure, but you know it’s true. Our extremely hot waiter is shamelessly hitting on me and he presently brings us our millefeuille. Our other waiter, who is the (equally hot) brother of the first waiter, brings us a more sparkling water.

“Will zere be anyzing else, mademoiselles?” they both say together, which is weird, but also charming.

“Non, non,” we say, and flit them away. Silly boys. We are women with things to talk about

“Mary,” you say, and you lean in. “Everyone’s all aquiver about these lectures you gave at QuiltCon.

“Oh?” I say, and stir a sugar lump into my cafe au lait, making sure my pinkie is very straight. “Is that the word on the chapeau?” 

You look confused.

“Mary, a chapeau is a hat. Do you mean promenade, perhaps? The word on the promenade?” 

I nod vigorously, nearly knocking off my chapeau. 

“Indeed, that is the word out there, that you are quite the lecturer, Miss Fons. Of course, I’ve known it all along. You’ve been giving great lectures for years!”

“You are my best friend,” I say, and we cry and hug. I love you so much. What would I do without you?

“But Mary,” you say, as the hot waiter’s hot brother slips you his mobile number when he drops the check. “Mary, where can I see these lectures? I wasn’t at QuiltCon and you’ve decided to not take any more road gigs now that you’re Editorial Director of Quiltfolk and working on other Very Big Projects That Cannot Be Announced At This Time. Whatever shall I and the rest of your adoring public do?” 

I pat your hand and point to the hot waiter’s hot brother’s phone number which is burning a hole in the tablecloth, that’s how hot he is; I tell you how the young man is clearly in love with you and this perks you right up.

Then I say, “My darling bosom buddy — and all my adoring fans. You’ll just have to wait a little while. I promise you I’ll be lecturing again soon. But not yet. And I can’t put a taped version of my lectures on the internet because it’s just not the same! I love lecturing almost more than anything, so you have to trust me that I’ll either be back on the road in some kind of incarnation or —”

“Or??” you say, and I can tell your heart’s beating fast. “Or what?!”

I sit back in my pretty chair in my pretty dress and smile a benevolently conspiratorial smile. “Or I’ll find a way to give you all my energy, information, passion, and humor in another form of media. You’ll see.”

“You beast,” you say, and throw your head back and laugh a throaty laugh. (In this fantasy, the two of us are always throwing our heads back and laughing throaty laughs.) “I do hear you’re quite funny,” you continue, and you reach for your sexy lipstick. A pause, and then:

“Mary, all I wanted to know was about your lectures and where I might be able to see or hear them. Why did you set us up as young, single women in Paris with all the flowers and the hot waiters and the crying?”

“Why on Earth not?” I say, and raise a forkful of millefeuille to my lips.


The Flight Family (And QuiltCon ’18)

posted in: Family, Quilting, Work | 11
A Scandinavian airline scene from 1968. That stewardess is literally serving prosciutto off the bone while her counterpart bones a fish. This is a real picture from real life. Photo: Wikipedia.


I’m back from Los Angeles, back from QuiltCon 2018. What an incredible show, what an incredible quilt culture we have in America. Just think of all the people and art and history and innovation and fun that comes together at a show like that. Incredible. Thank you to all who had anything to do with QuiltCon this year, from the people who made quilts in the show to those who just enjoyed the scenery from social media. We need everyone.

Things I did at QuiltCon included but were not limited to:

  • delivered a lecture on the AIDS Quilt (one of my best ever, I am satisfied to admit)
  • gave a tour of the AIDS Quilt panels I curated for the show
  • was interviewed by Angela Walters for Craftsy (thanks, Walters!!)
  • gave a lecture on the modern quilt and the future of it (*this also went well and I’ll return to the topic of the lecture in a future post)
  • interviewed people for Quiltfolk
  • meet’ed and greet’ed quilters at the BabyLock booth
  • saw amazing friends, fans, colleagues
  • drooled on quilts (not really, but close, okay maybe a little actual drool, oops, saarrry)

Things I did not do:

  • blog
  • take many pictures

The funny thing about a big show is that you think you’re going to have time away from the computer and therefore be free, somehow, to “take it all in” and then — if you’re me — write about it as soon as you get back to your hotel room. But that’s never how it works out for this one.

Conferences like Quilt Market and QuiltCon are so totally packed with activity, so totally frenetic with action — to the point of being almost manic — that when it’s time to shut my hotel door at the end of the long day, doing much of anything is highly unlikely, especially since my “anything” frequently involves thinking thoughts, crafting them into halfway-well-written sentences, then posting them for public consumption. Historically, I’m just not able to do anything that complicated at the end of a “show day.”

For example, one night I got into my room, ate some cheese popcorn and fell asleep with the lights on with a faint cheese powder ring around my mouth. The next night, after two celebratory margs with the Quiltfolk photographer (I’m telling you, I crushed my lectures; I deserved to tie one on), I got into my room, washed my face, and proclaimed, literally out loud, “Who needs pajamas?” and fell asleep in my shirt.

Thank goodness QuiltCon is done until next year because a) I don’t need to be eating cheese popcorn alone; and b) everyone needs pajamas. Besides, if I neglect my blog, think how many wonderful, interesting, hard, tricky, beautiful, strange, funny, frightening, and surprising stories and anecdotes and observations will never reach you? I have to reach you with these things; otherwise, where will they go?

For example: On the way to Los Angeles, the Southwest flight attendant got on the PA and said:

“Welcome to Southwest Airlines, ladies and gentlemen. I’m Rick, your head flight attendant this afternoon. Joining me today is my daughter, Bethany, in the back of the aircraft, and my son-in-law, John, is here at the front with me today!”

Isn’t that wonderful? The flight family! A family of flight attendants had all been able to arrange their schedules to be on the same flight. I thought that was really nice. I had a nice feeling about that.

And I needed to tell you.

Ooooh … Quiltfolk Issue 06 : Arizona

posted in: Art, Poetry, Quiltfolk, Quilting, Work | 10


Are you ready for this?

On or about April 1, the sixth issue of Quiltfolk is coming soon, everyone. The bad news is that you still have to wait a little bit; the good news is that she’s the best-yet issue of Quiltfolk and I’m honored to be a part of the team. It’s cool if you watch this teaser video like nine times while you wait for your copy of Issue 06 : Arizona. Friends, you will not believe what we found when we went to the desert to investigate quilts. Wow, wow, wow.

Hold onto your cowboy hats.


p.s. How about those red glasses on the blonde chick with the notebook?? I’m into it. 

A Google Doodle Update: 1000+ Votes, Zieman in Lead

posted in: The Quilt Scout, Work | 5
Women quilting in Arizona, 1965. Photo: Wikipedia.


We’re really making tracks on this whole “nominate a quilter for a Google Doodle” thing. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out yesterday’s post.) We’ll hit 1,000 votes before long, and that’s a good showing in such a short time.

However … to really get Google’s attention, I’d like to see us at least double the number of voters. What does that mean for you? One of two things:

IF YOU HAVEN’T VOTED — Click here to be taken to the form, then vote!

IF YOU HAVE VOTED — Click here for the Quilt Scout post, then copy the URL to share it with your pals on social media/email/carrier pigeon. Then your friends will go vote and we’ll get our community represented by the people who decide what history is important. *You could just send your friends straight to the form, but going to the original post first seems sensible. But do what you want; I just want us to get those numbers up!

Right now, Nancy Zieman is in the lead, followed by Cuesta. Then … Well, there are a number of write-ins gaining ground and one person nominated me and my mom, which was very nice. I’ll keep updating on Facebook and when the time comes to do the official nomination, you’ll obviously be the first to know which quilter — sorry, which first of many quilters — will get Google’s attention.

This is fun.

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