Books! Books! Books! And Magazines!

posted in: Day In The Life 12
Bookplate of American painter and illustrator Edward Penfield (1866-1925). Image: Wikipedia.


Though there’s a lot of reading I have to do for school — particularly for my Contemporary Histories In Fiber course, holy weft — I do at least attempt to pick up and read other things. I wish I could sit down and sew, but when most of what you do is pick up paper or scroll over a screen and reading what’s printed on it, this is what you tend to keep doing.

So tonight, I thought I’d share a list of books/magazines surrounding me. And I mean that literally. My home is one big book nook. Many of these books and periodicals hang out on the floor next to my black leather recliner until they cycle back out; other texts are stacked high on the glass coffee table (where I also put my feet sometimes, let’s be honest); some books are perpetually falling off my bedside table. My home is tidy, but until I get a proper library, this is how things are. (I looked online at a condo on Michigan Avenue that had a library. The condo cost $2.2 million … but they allow dogs. Insert laughing/weeping here.)

Anyway, here’s a list of what I’m dipping in and out of. I’m forcing myself to write just one or two lines of description for each title because I have to get up super early in the morning: I’m flying to Des Moines to tape the PBS show on Monday! I’m taping three episodes with Mom and I’m so excited. I miss TV, sometimes.

What I’m Reading Lately (Non-Fiction)

Empire of Cotton, Sven Beckert
This book is the history of the world. And the history of the world is told in cotton. And it takes just about 700 pages to go through it all.

Craeft: How Traditional Crafts Are About More Than Just Making, Alex Langlands
I bought this book about artisanal work (in weaving, haymaking, etc.) because it was in the window of Sandmeyer’s Bookstore in my neighborhood and was so beautiful it lured me in. I judged the book by its cover and so far … Yeah, it’s worth it. I think.

The Age of Homespun, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
If you love American history, textiles, and LIFE ITSELF, get this book and read it. It was at my mom’s house and I started reading it. Hi, Mom! (I’ll bring it to you when we sew this summer, I promise.)

The American Bystander Magazine
Humor. There are misses, but it’s mostly hits. (And I need to laugh as much as I need my morning tea, so I’ve subscribed from the start.)

Lapham’s Quarterly: State of Mind
Every issue is a review, you could say, on a theme. An issue of Lapham’s Quarterly is a meal for the mind. Lapham’s gives me faith in humanity. I’m a subscriber.

Quiltfolk Magazine, Issue 06 : Arizona
The magazine where I serve as editorial director is getting better and better and better and better. And my whole heart belongs to this project. And I re-read the whole issue on my way back from Baltimore. Issue 06 is our best yet — that is a fact.

The Dumb Internet
Sometimes, even, on my phone. Barf.

What I’m Reading Lately (Fiction)

Not a single novel. Not even a short story. I’m not knocking fiction. I just have enough trouble with reality to “get lost” in anything else. I keep waiting to slip into a new phase of my life when I read only fiction. It’s an interesting idea, being a Mary who says things like, “I’m re-reading Ulysses. It’s …  Well, I suppose it’s as good the second time but since I know what happens … ” But this is unlikely to happen in the near future, as for the past 6-7 years, all I ever want to read is people who write with their actual voice, not via someone else’s. Is that weird?

I Look At Pictures

posted in: Work 9
Teenager in Italy, playing with light display. Image: Wikipedia.
Teenager in Italy, playing with light display. Image: Wikipedia.


I’m a busy gal. A few of the things on my list:

  • Complete my master’s degree.
  • Research and write and edit for Quiltfolk.
  • Write two (2) new lectures for QuiltCon 2018.
  • Continue to develop Super-Secret Project No. 1.
  • Poke X about Super-Secret Project No. 2 with Y.

So that’s a lot — and we both know I could keep going. But instead of listing all the rest of the stuff I get to do/want to do/have to do, I’d really like to list a few projects that I really, really want to do but can’t, for lack of bandwidth. After all, actually doing things is hard and taxing, while dreaming about doing other things is fun; everybody knows that.

So, here’s a list of projects that I want to do but just totally cannot prioritize just this second:

  • Develop Taco Tape. (*remind me to explain at some point)
  • Make a PaperGirl one-off glossy magazine for sale at gigs and/or as a gift for a donation of any size to the maintenance of this blog and the girl who writes it. (!)
  • Make a big coffee table book with a carefully-curated selection of exceptional (and exceptionally strange) public domain photos and images I have collected over the years of sifting through WikiCommons.

This last one, man … I’m telling you. That book will be so cool when I finally am able to do it — and I really want to do it. Because I have a big file of awesome pictures and illos from years of writing this blog. When I go looking for a picture of gooey butter cake or a man crossing the street with an enormous bouquet of roses, you won’t believe what I come across.

Sometimes, I’ll just click through the images in a folder I have marked “Everything Has To Be Moved”, the working title for this photo book. I don’t know that I’d make up a fictional narrative for each photo; I like the idea of these disparate photographs and illustrations simply living together, selected by me, for their beauty or uniqueness, or their quality, or their subject(s), or all of that.

I traffic in words more than images, of course, but visual language is real and I reckon I’m semi-bilingual.

Paris In Chicago.

posted in: Chicago 0
Chicago's Old Water Tower - don't call it a comeback.
Chicago’s Old Water Tower – don’t call it a comeback.

I’ve arrived in Chicago in order to see my doctor tomorrow. Will the hospital admit me? Quite possibly. I’m ready for anything.

Yuri has come to be with me for the anything. We met at Midway late last night and took flying leaps into each others’ arms. I’m betting there were bluebirds of happiness flying around our heads, but I was too busy smiling like a dweeb at him to confirm it. The man looks good. He needs some home cookin’, but he looks real, real good to me.

And though we’re at a beautiful hotel in the fancy-schmance Gold Coast for the next two days, I do feel like a guest in my own house. Yuri and I will return to Chicago after the New York adventure, pending a few key transitional things in the hopper; until then, Chicago is looking at me with sad dog eyes and I’m defensive and short with it, saying things like, “I know! I’m just… Just don’t… Stop looking at me like that, would you?”

That uncomfortable conversation was playing in my head this afternoon when I walked to Walgreen’s for toothpaste. I was at Michigan Avenue and Chicago, right by the Chicago Avenue Water Tower and Pumping Station, a.k.a., “Old Water Tower.” This castle-like structure, with its finials and its flourishes is one of the few bits of construction in the entire city that survived the Great Chicago Fire 1871. Not bad for a big ol’ pipe.

There was a family walking behind me and suddenly I hear a girl of about six cry with unhinged delight,

“It’s the Eiffel Tower!!! Mommy! Mommy, look, it’s the Eiffel Tower!!!”

The mother, father, and only slightly older sister tried to tell the child that no, no, that was the Water Tower, but the girl was having none of it.

“But Mommy! It’s the Eiffel Tower!”

You bet it is, squirt. It’s our Eiffel Tower. When you’re older, I could share with you that the Ferris Wheel — I’m sure your folks have taken you to the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, non? — debuted in Chicago at the World’s Fair in 1893. Well, Mr. Ferris designed his Wheel to rival the grandeur and splendor of the Eiffel Tower that you’re talking about. I think he did pretty well, especially since you can go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but you can’t swing your legs.