What are you reading?

by chuckofish


This past weekend I went to several really good estate sales. One was at the home of a woman who had gone to my school, graduating 20 years earlier. Clearly it was a home she had moved to after either getting a divorce or being widowed. You can always tell when this is the case, because the woman has painted the inside of the house pink and redone the closets to suit herself. She has said, in effect, finally I’m going to have things the way I like.

She had obviously been an avid needlepointer. I bought a couple of unfinished kits and two books.

One is a vintage copy of Mary Martin’s Needlepoint (1969)–a delightful look into the hobby and home of the famous Broadway star.


You remember Mary Martin–she starred on Broadway in the original productions of Annie Get Your Gun,  South Pacific, The Sound of Music and a host of other shows.


She took up needlepointing as a way to pass the time waiting in the wings offstage and on sets. She started BIG…with a rug!

Mary posing on "the rug" with other projects

Mary posing on “the rug” with other projects

“The Rug is known by a variety of names. It was the innocent, impulsive beginning—all five and a half by seven and a half feet of it!—of my doing needlepoint.”  She designed it herself, incorporating symbols that represented important aspects of her life. It took a few years, but she kept going. Impressive. Also impressive is the fact that she designed all her own work. No  kits for her! Her stitching is all very personal and heart-felt.

Through the years several of her friends found and bought antique samplers from the 18th and 19th centuries for her that included the name “Mary Martin” on them. Nice friends! Eventually she designed her own sampler incorporating motifs from shows that meant the most to her.

Mary's theater sampler

Mary’s theatre sampler

Mary Martin made pillows, purses, pictures, upholstered furniture, and more throughout her storied life. For needlepointers or theater-lovers, this is a fun book.

Meanwhile I continue to work my way through The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I am determined to finish this rather Dickensian opus, but I do think it is overly long. The author writes very well; we’ll see.

I must say that I believe I would get along famously with the author, who is considered one of the most reclusive contemporary authors around. Moreover, she’s indifferent to technology, avoids social media and does most of her writing by hand in notebooks. According to one of the very few articles I could find about her (in Business Day), “when her novels are released, she grants few interviews in which she reveals very little about herself. She’s known to become prickly when journalists dare suggest certain characters in her books are based on people she knows. Her private life is just that, private.”

What are you reading?