sisters by choice music and quilts in Mid-Michigan

Last night I went to my first meeting of the Mid-Michigan Quilters Guild. I was pretty excited when I learned about this group, and the meeting was not disappointing. There were dozens of quilters there and I only wish I’d gotten there earlier so I could have met and chatted with more folks.

Sisters by Choice at the Mid-Michigan Quilters Guild #annrowland #delphinemiller

The featured program for the evening was music by Ann Rowland and quilts shown by Delphine Miller. Miller owns a quilt shop in Gaylord and many of the quilts she showed were hers, though others were made by friends or were vintage or antique quilts she’s collected. Rowland writes, sings, and plays guitar, and the quilts Miller selected for each song fit the song’s theme or fit in with the song’s content in some way. They were also joined by Rowland’s sister Diane, who was training to fill in for Miller at some upcoming shows.

Rowland’s music is not atypical singer-songwriter folk and she’s a strong singer and guitarist. There was of course one song that involved audience participation (you can’t have a folk concert without audience participation!) and Rowland encouraged everyone to join in, saying, “if everyone sings, no one feels silly!” which was one of my mantras when I used to do storytime, so it was fun to hear it in another context. The songs were fun and the quilts really did fit in with the theme. Miller had anywhere from half a dozen to a dozen quilts (guessing on this – I didn’t actually count) per song, and I only wished I could have looked at some of them for longer. Some of the songs were funny, some were tender, and they were all pretty short and sweet, just how they should be. One of them described seeing a quilt being used as a packing blanket in the back of a pickup truck and the narrator’s quest to free it from such abuse – fun.

I also had the chance to see one of my former coworkers from years ago, who I had totally forgotten was a quilter. I remembered that as soon as I saw her, though, and we had a chance to catch up after the concert and before the business part of the meeting. She’s retired and doing very well, which was nice to hear.

I learned that the MMQG offers classes and activities on a very regular basis – I only wish that I had more time (and money) to participate! As it is, though, I feel like I’m barely making time for just quilting on my own, which I don’t want to give up. I’m very pleased to have found a community of quilters, though, and I’m looking forward to more meetings and the potential to take some classes in the future.


a bone to pick with Bones

SPOILER ALERT – Spoilers from the most recent seasons of Bones herein.

this is a disapproving look

I finally got around to watching the first episode of the latest season of Bones, which has been languishing in our Hulu+ queue for ages. I’ve pretty much always had a problem with the show’s propensity to put its characters in mortal peril, but it has been a fairly reliable procedural with a female main character, so I was willing to be a little forgiving.

However, jumping into this most recent season, we find Booth in major trouble for some thing that he appears to have done (but OF COURSE he is innocent and/or only did things for the right reasons and/or he’s been wrongly accused as part of a conspiracy against All That Is Good And Right In This World). I had forgotten that this was the cliffhanger from last season.

For me, putting the characters of a procedural/mystery show in mortal peril/serious trouble/whathaveyou is lazy writing. A lot of series resort to it on occasion (and for me it’s a different thing when it’s Jessica Fletcher calling out the murderer and they threaten her because SHE KNOWS – this threat lasts for approximately two minutes and WE KNOW that someone is going to step in at the right moment so she’ll be fine. JESSICA FLETCHER WILL ALWAYS BE FINE.) but Bones has pulled this crap throughout its many seasons, and I’m done with it. I feel like the writers must have run short of ideas when they resort to this type of shoddy storytelling, and I am no longer willing to waste time on it, waiting for them to get around to actual mysteries to be solved. Much as Temperance Brennan is an interesting character and I like a lot of the actors, I am afraid that we are done, Bones. I hope you get your act together, or just stop stretching things out if you’re out of ideas.

FO Friday: Wine Tasting Rib-a-Roni Hat

This week’s finished object is a cozy merino hat.

Wine Tasting Rib-a-Roni Hat

It’s not exactly as the pattern instructed – I neglected to read carefully ahead and ended up doing more of the brim rib than necessary, but I still like the way it turned out.

Wine Tasting Rib-a-Roni Hat

The plus-pattern on the back is slightly different than it should be, but again, I still like it! In addition to being lovely warm shades of red, pink, and purple, this hat is also super soft and the rib gives it a nice stretch so it should be comfy and less prone to hair-squishing.

WIP Wednesday

My current art quilt project is coming along!


I have finished piecing the sections of the sky portion of the background, and now I’m working on the sea portion. I designed this quilt to be pretty large and this is the part of the process where I think, why did I do that? It’s working out fine, though, and actually the sea is coming together pretty quickly. Once the sea is done, I’ll piece the sky sections together and then connect the sea and the sky and create the land that will be on the right side of the background.

The sky is made of square pieces, so I chose to make the sea rectangles for some variety. I also chose to piece the sea on the diagonal, which I hope will add some feeling of the movement of water to that section.

Feeling that I don’t have as much time to work on this as I’d like has me convinced that after this project, I will focus on some smaller pieces. Not that they’ll necessarily end up taking any less time, but perhaps they will feel quicker?

Ben Folds with the Grand Rapids Symphony

Last weekend was my birthday (I am now 40, woo) and as a treat my folks took us to see Ben Folds play with the Grand Rapids Symphony. It was a great show!

Ben Folds with the Grand Rapids Symphony

Ben Folds brought a selection of his Ben Folds Five songs that have been orchestrated, in addition to a movement from the piano concerto he recently composed. I haven’t listened to all of the recent BFF albums but I knew almost all the songs they played, which was nice.

They only played one movement of the piano concerto – this seemed to have been Folds’ choice, I’m guessing maybe because they only had a few hours to rehearse together? Or maybe he is concerned that his pop audience won’t make it through an entire three movements? (I think they would have – the audience was super receptive and appreciative throughout the show.) The movement they played, the third, was fun, bright, and energetic. There were a few nods to Elfman (I thought, anyway) and a general feeling of homage to the Beatles’ A Day in the Life (though slightly less cacophonous). He gave a brief introduction to what a piano concerto is, for the benefit of audience members who may not have had much in the way of classical music knowledge, and kept a great sense of humor going despite some stern/fun-refusing faces among members of the orchestra (maybe they just felt that it would have been unprofessional otherwise, but a number of the musicians seemed pretty stone-faced).

One of the highlights of the show happened when someone in the audience loudly shouted out, “Rock this bitch!” Folds started out by explaining the background and then asked the contrabassoon player to replicate a lick Folds played on the piano. The contrabassoonist gamely figured it out in just a couple of tries and then Folds added in other instruments with different, complementary licks, adding up to a pretty neat little eight-bar (I think) bit. He added in the chorus so that there were some lyrics (“Rockin’ this bitch in G-Rap with an orchestra”) and then after the symphony got it down, Folds improvised some on the piano and encouraged a few of the orchestra members to jump in with improv as well. It was really fun to watch and hear and I feel like it loosened up some of the players as I could see smiles during and after that piece.

Folds returned to the stage for an encore with the orchestra and then returned again for a few songs on his own. It was a really fun show and I’m so glad we got to go!

American Dog Walker: The Art of Bruce Thayer

There is currently a terrific exhibit at the CMU Art Gallery, featuring the works of CMU alum Bruce Thayer, an artist who is heavily influenced by the Chicago Imagist movement.

American Dog Walker: the Art of Bruce Thayer exhibit at CMU Art Gallery

I have to admit I knew nothing about the Chicago Imagists before going in to this exhibit, and I hadn’t heard Bruce Thayer‘s name before. I’m so glad I went, though, as I learned a ton and really enjoyed the art on display.

American Dog Walker: the Art of Bruce Thayer exhibit at CMU Art Gallery

Alice in the Wonderful Dog Walk, 2013

Much of Thayer’s art is political, but some is more telling of his daily life and routines, like this watercolor. (Also: I am a sucker for dogs.)

American Dog Walker: the Art of Bruce Thayer exhibit at CMU Art Gallery

Blame Game, 2013

Thayer was an auto worker for many years and experienced firsthand the struggles of the economic downturn and the effects of the changes in American manufacturing over the last few decades.

American Dog Walker: the Art of Bruce Thayer exhibit at CMU Art Gallery

Working Stiff, 2005

Thayer’s combination of drawing, painting, stamping, and other techniques is very effective, I think, in conveying the anxiety, uncertainty, frustration, and anger that auto workers and others felt during these troubles. Thayer’s ability to combine different techniques and themes reminded me of some of They Might Be Giants’ early music (the Pink album and Lincoln). Both use imagery from popular culture, political themes, and seem to have a sense of humor. I’m not sure I’m really putting a finger on why the one reminded me of the other, but it did.

American Dog Walker: the Art of Bruce Thayer exhibit at CMU Art Gallery

Shift Change, 1989

This piece is one of a few cut out assembly-acrylic sculptures in this show. I like the way that this piece brings the auto workers to life as they appear to be dancing. It seems that the balancing act of being an auto worker could easily have felt like a dance at times (juggling productivity with diminishing resources and increasing demands and trying to maintain one’s self-respect).

This exhibit will be on display at the CMU Art Gallery through November 8, 2014. I highly recommend checking it out.

FO Friday: Fawn Beanie and Wine-Tasting Shawl Scarf

Two more finished knitted objects this week!

Fawn Beanie

First, I finished this Fawn Beanie, so named because the yarn colorway is called Fawn. It’s 100% wool and has a very nice drape. The way this pattern is written provides a nice square X shape on the back, which looks pretty cool. I might end up embellishing it with something colorful on or just above the brim, but I haven’t decided yet. This one is going in the holiday gift pile, so I need to decide pretty soon.

Wine Tasting Shawl Scarf #knitting

Next up is this Wine-Tasting Shawl Scarf, again named for the yarn colorway. This will be a nice shawl for work-wear: it’s colorful and warm but not huge or too bulky. I haven’t 100% decided yet, but I think this is one I’ll keep for myself.

superhero fatigue

02292008 Photogamer

I admit it: I’m experiencing superhero fatigue. There are Just So Many of them around these days! I’m all for the geek uprising and the popular-ification of media that was formerly relegated to “stuff for nerds,” but I just can’t dig up an interest in all of it.

Or even in everything superhero. I have enjoyed most of the Avengers movies, but the more of them that come out, the less interested I am. Winter Soldier was just meh for me – and I think that this is probably because I’ve seen so many similar movies lately. If it had come out without being sandwiched between a bunch of other similar flicks, I might have enjoyed it more.

I was watching Agents of SHIELD, but it hasn’t held my interest. I watched the pilot for The Flash, but again, felt meh about it. I tried Misfits and Arrow, but nothing really grabbed me. I’m sure there are more I’m not thinking of at the moment.

With a new Batman movie in production, I am trying but failing to get excited about it. The last reboot was fine at first but got SO heavy and dark and dude-centric that I was struggling to enjoy them after the first one.

I don’t think it’s just superheroes that I’m burned out on. I think it’s partially that, but also that everything is trying to replicate the other successful franchises/brands, and it all ends up feeling the same. I’m sick of movies where the action sequences are blurry, frenetic messes that your eyes can hardly track and which depict the so-called heroes blithely destroying the cities they’re supposedly defending. I’m tired of media where the majority of characters are beefy males and I’m supposed to think the lone female character is badass because she acts just like her ridiculous male counterparts while wearing high heels and skin-tight garb. (Don’t forget her carefully coiffed hair, which she will NEVER put back in a hair-tie or anything else practical to keep it out of her way.) Just writing about this feels exhausting.

Does anyone else feel this fatigue? Seen anything great that revitalized your interest?