Thank You, Margaret Maloney (The Pocket Pendennis)

posted in: Art, Paean, Quilting 3
"Pocket Pendennis" by Margaret Maloney.
“Pocket Pendennis” by Margaret Maloney.

I got the mail today and what was inside but a small, padded manila envelope from one Margaret Maloney. Margaret lives in Brooklyn and we had a blind date set up to go to a quilt guild meeting together this summer. I was unwell when the day came, however, and had only recently arrived home from an out-of-town trip. I was too pooped to pucker and bummed out not to meet Margaret.

Not long ago, she asked me for my mailing address, which of course I gave to her. Here is what she wrote on the card that came with the item you see above:

“Dear Mary,

I hope that this Pocket Pendennis can be a help to you at times when a full-size sock monkey might be impractical. I think it is lucky — I worked on it on the train to and from a successful interview for admission into medical school. I’m sorry this city hasn’t been good to you — it doesn’t know what its missing! I hope our paths will cross another time.


I’m pretty speechless, Margaret. Thank you. Congratulations on getting into medical school and way to go being extremely articulate and possessing of stunning penmanship, but mostly thank you for hand-appliqueing my sweet little monkey on a quilted square. You cannot know how much better you made my day. It was rainy, I was sad, and my tummy is extremely mad at me these days.

He’s so in pocket. Now go study!

The Pendennis Observer, Observing Pendennis.

posted in: Pendennis 2
The author and the monkey.
The author and the monkey, 2012.

When life springs eternally from a suitcase, I turn to the monkey.

I’m not quite eccentric enough to pack him along with me on the road, but I do have a folder of pictures of him on my computer and sometimes, we flip. 

Travel means nothing to this monkey. I leave Des Moines for Lincoln, Nebraska tomorrow, and Pendennis, he don’t care where we go or that we’re not going home. Or that we’ll be home just two days before going to Florida for four. 

Pendennis pays no taxi fare, cares not for TSA pre-check. Pendennis doesn’t need to take a jacket. Pendennis can’t miss his favorite teacup or wish he packed his softest nightgown.

Pendennis only has that face, that face that remains unchanged by death, taxes, and airport security. Indeed, the stuffed monkey remains unchanged also by happiness; in my most ecstatic moments, Pendennis is Pendennis is Pendennis. 

And he’s so funny.

Everything is going to be fine.


The Pendennis Observer.

posted in: Day In The Life 5
Histories never have sequels. Think about it.
Histories never have sequels. Think about it.

I have a sock monkey.

Lots of adult people “have” sock monkeys, but their monkeys are mostly in tupperware bins with the rest of the stuffed animals and toys they chose to kept from childhood. Those monkeys are not in rotation. Mine is.

My monkey’s name is Pendennis. It’s true that Pendennis is a novel written in the mid-19th century by William Makepeace Thackeray, but that book has no bearing whatsoever on why my monkey’s name is Pendennis. I haven’t the faintest idea why I named the lil’ sh-t Pendennis but when I received him as a gift in high school (?) that’s just what I did.

I take pictures of Pendennis all the time. All the time! Almost every day. He is a veritable font of joy and he does nothing but lie there — he’s incredible. His goofy little body is so funny and is weighted just so with stuffing that whether he’s been tossed to the ground when I’m making the bed, or maybe he’s tangled up in the covers, or he’s been whipped into a chair for some reason, his gesture is priceless. Every time. And it’s crucial to understand that I do not pose him. The pictures I take of him are never styled. I just choose my angle and shoot. Look:

Pictured: Pendennis
Pendennis is pinned.
Pendennis, unable to take it anymore.
Pendennis, unable to take it anymore.
Pendennis, fallen from a great height.
Pendennis, fallen from a great height.
Pendennis in, "SHAME, The Rock Opera."
Pendennis in, “SHAME, The Rock Opera.”

I’ve registered a domain name: One day, when I’m not so busy, I want to put a simple site up and post at least one picture each week of my monkey. Surely someone else in the world thinks he’s as funny as I do. The website would have a tag line, too, something like: Never posed, never duplicated. The Pendennis Observer. Vir sapit qui pauca loquitur.” 

That Latin part? Translation: “That man is wise who talks little.”