Sharing an Obsession: Drawing

WINNER CHOSEN Dec. 1: Hanson Bloesch of Iowa City~

~Mary Potter Kenyon

Readers of our book will know that both authors have an obsession with paper and pens. Yet it is this Mary who owned enough note cards in her personal stash to fully supply the materials for all of the “Letter-Writing 101” workshops the Marys have conducted at libraries, with plenty left for future workshops. I can add more to our workshop supply, thanks to a stop at a consignment store. I always gravitate toward the stationery and office supply sections in stores like this. And I’m a sucker for grab bags of cards and stationery. I snatched these bags up at $2.99 for the big bags and $1.99 for the smaller.

DSCF3412 (2)

There is always that thrill of anticipation that comes before opening up one of these bags. Will the visible cards be Hallmark and Current, while the rest are the free ones everyone gets in the mail from organizations? I opened one of the larger bags first, and immediately noticed two large cards that looked homemade. They had handwriting inside! This did not bode well for the rest of the pack, but I was pleasantly surprised.

DSCF3416 (2)

I’ll use the smaller thank you cards myself, but the other note cards go into our letter workshop supply. There is a Forever stamp attached to one envelope, which means free postage for a future mailing. Besides the note cards, I’ll keep approximately 12 of the cards for my own use. Considering the free stamp, $2.49 for 12 greeting cards and approximately 15 note cards is a pretty great deal. I also got a stack of extra envelopes out of the deal.

DSCF3418 (2)

The 2nd large bag had more note cards, including a stack that fit the extra envelopes from the previous bag. I loved the birdhouse small cards way up at the top, as well as a leaf sympathy card, a butterfly friendship card, a cute butterfly notepad, and a package of brand new red cards for Valentine’s Day.

The smaller bag had some cards of questionable value; several homemade ones that I wasn’t thrilled with, except the leaf one, and Blue’s Clues cards. Do children even know who Blue is anymore?


But there was an unused stamp on one envelope and several brand new cards inside, including a lovely one that was well worth the $1.99 alone.


So what will I do with all the extra cards I’m not going to keep? I think it’s about time for a giveaway, don’t you? Not only will I fill a box with the extra cards from these three bags, the winner will get that fourth small package of assorted cards shown in the first photo, along with a bonus of extra cards and notepads from my stationery stash. To enter, comment under this shared post on the Mary & Me Facebook page.  I will choose a winner on December 1st.







Book Review: Dear Mr. You, by Mary-Louise Parker

Book Review by Mary Jedlicka Humston

dear mr you

I finished Dear Mr. You one week after attending Mary-Louise Parker’s reading of her first book at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City (incidentally, the same venue where my daughter Liz and her husband Greg were married in 2010).

Does one need to hear Ms. Parker read or listen to her in-depth conversation and discussion with local actor Tim Budd in order to fully appreciate her book? Simply put, no, you don’t.  But, how lucky for me to read the chapters she shared and to hear echoes of that familiar voice many of us have heard in films and on television. How lucky that I can picture her head bent, glasses on, as she read, among other chapters, from “Dear Orderly” and “Dear Blue.”

Even before Parker came to Iowa City for the reading, I saw reviews about Dear Mr. You in countless magazines, all filled with praises. So, I knew the premise of the book from the beginning. If this is the first time you’ve heard about it, let me fill you in.

Dear Mr. You is a book of letters. Ah, now you know why Mary and I were keen to read and review this book. All the letters are written to a variety of real and imagined males who, in some way, played a special part in her life. And, all the letters are addressed anonymously, although the ones “Dear Daddy” and “Dear Grandpa” are pretty easy to identify. Parker’s poetic voice is very evident in her prose. In fact, there are some phrases you might want to read over and savor, hovering just a bit before allowing their full meaning to settle. Other parts are raw, gritty, and gutsy in the re-telling. Ms. Parker’s memoir is, above all, honest and bold.

In all, there are 34 letters. Some center on sex, former lovers (some abusive), and her close-to-death hospitalization. And, yet, mixed among these serious topics are others laced with humor. Yes, humor. The Iowa City audience roared with laughter when Parker read certain lines.

This is a book that you can read slowly, chapter by chapter, like I did. Or, you can devour it in one sitting. You choose. Whatever way you decide, you will not be disappointed.

You can view more about Mary-Louise Parker’s book by clicking here.


Piling Up Memories

by Mary Jedlicka Humston

I was overcome yesterday with the urge to declutter one of the many paper piles scattered  on my counter by our landline telephone, the kitchen table, the computer desk in the front room, and, yes, even in our laundry room. Imagine my surprise when I uncovered countless gems amid the rubble. There were to-do lists on errant slips of paper with, amazingly, some tasks actually crossed off. Essay contests I wanted to enter surfaced, unfortunately, most with long past submission deadlines. I found quotes I wanted to save which I later glue-sticked into my journal.

Piling Up Memories

Multiple pieces of paper focusing on Mary & Me: A Lasting Link through Ink were also discovered. One such piece listed all the suggested entries when we ran a name that subtitle contest on our Facebook page. You see, there was a time when our working title had been: Mary & Me: Two Lives in Letters. The Two Lives in Letters wasn’t bad as subtitles go, but we desired something a bit catchier. In the end, we found just what we wanted. We both selected A Lasting Link Through Ink as our number one choice. How amazing is that?

Early Mary & Me Facebook readers, do you remember any other entries? If not, well, don’t worry. I’ve listed a few that didn’t make the cut, but were still cute and interesting.

What if our book had been titled Mary & Me: A Friendship Woven With Words?  Or Mary & Me: First-Class Friendship? Or how about Mary & Me: Cursive Connections? There were also these sub-titles: Mary & Me: With a Cup of Tea, Mary & Me: Write Where We Belong, and Mary & Me: First Class Friends Through Pens. These are just a smattering of creative suggestions our Mary & Me Facebook friends sent.

We’ve come a long way since that subtitle contest, haven’t we? It’s now been over two months since Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink was released. We Marys have done countless programs, readings, workshops, and signings. We’re just as excited about our book now as we were then, making me wonder what other Mary & Me tidbits I might unearth amid my remaining mountainous piles. I’ll let you know what I dig up when that decluttering urge strikes again in, oh, say, a year or two from now. So, stay tuned.

Book Review: Dear Deb by Margaret Terry

We promised book reviews on this blog, and then with the release of Mary & Me in September, there was suddenly less time for reading, and our book reviews fell by the wayside. For both of the Marys, the book release also meant the beginning of a busy season promoting our book through appearances, book-signings, book-readings, tea parties, and presentations, mostly on the weekends, but some evenings too. Last night’s event was a dinner presentation sponsored by the Bellevue Arts Council, one that I thoroughly enjoyed, much to my surprise. I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed it, but that I enjoyed it thoroughly. Considering my last posting, when I wondered if I would ever be able to enjoy something without a cloak of sadness descending over me, it was refreshing and somewhat amazing to feel such complete joy, without even a hint of cloying sadness.

All of these events are good and fun, but one of the Marys (me) had gotten a new job in September, as a reporter for the local newspaper. That meant during our busiest period of book promotion, I was attempting to hold down two jobs while training a new director for the library. Two jobs, plus the book-signings, letter-writing workshops, and even teaching an evening book proposal and promotion class at Hawkeye community college. Reading books and writing letters fell to the wayside, as did bike riding or spending time with my girls. I crashed, both literally and figuratively. My co-writer Mary H had to attend one book-signing alone, and I cancelled another.

Now that I’ve completed two full weeks with only one job, I feel like I’ve regained my footing. I’ve gotten back into writing letters, and am eager to pick up where I left off in the book-reading department as well. Of course the first book I picked up to read was one about letter-writing.

dear deb

Dear Deb: A Woman With Cancer, a Friend With Secrets, and the Letters That Became Their Miracle was a good choice. Written by Margaret Terry, I will let the book trailer tell the background story:


I love how each chapter is a letter from the author to her friend Deb, a woman with a terminal cancer diagnosis.  The only thing that would have made this book better would be to have seen return letters from Deb, or barring that, at least learning a little more about the amazing woman who was the recipient of these letters.

I would like to read more by Margaret Terry. You can see her website by clicking here.