Rocks, Podcasts, and a Facelift

July 5, 2013 at 11:57 am 85 comments

On the way home from Ann Arbor where our daughter lives, we pass a small open area just after an overpass and before the train station. It’s on the right hand side of the road. There’s really nothing there except some busted up concrete and a bench. It may not even be a real bench, just something you could sit on.

Instead of sitting there, somebody started stacking pieces of concrete. When I first saw it, I kind of noticed it and kind of not. Things flit in and out of my head so fast I hardly notice. The first time we drove by there were only one or two pieces on top of each other. On the way home the next time a few more. “Odd” registered on my radar, and that’s about all.

When I taught for the Thimble & Thread Quilt Guild in St. Louis, MO last month, Program Chair Cindy Neville shared a favorite website of hers called

GravityGlue photo

The website, along with a blog and FaceBook fan page belong to Michael Grab and the art of stone balancing. Click the ABOUT section of the web page and watch the video. It’s a slow start, but the sound of the rushing water is very pleasant. Read about how and why he does this and then scroll back up to the video to see how the stack of rocks is progressing. The photography of Micheal’s “installations” are amazing, powerful and serene all at the same time. (Yeah, I’m hooked.)

As soon as I saw the image of the rock piles in Ann Arbor popped into my head. Click!

A2 Gravity Glue?

Tell me if you don’t think these are somehow related. I think there is someone in Ann Arbor who is Gravity Gluing! Am I right?

So what? I love these little gems of fellowship. Imagine you’re out in the real world, not at a quilt show or anything. You look up and you see someone wearing a patchwork vest or carrying a quilted tote bag. Doesn’t your heart beat a little faster? You may not know them from Adam, but you’re kindred spirits just the same. There’s a thread (literally, sometimes) of common interest and shared experience that draws us to one another. We are social animals after all. You may not run right up the the person and ask, “Do you quilt?!” but you might, depending on how many non-quilting family members are around to roll their eyes at you.

Now I’m hoping I see somebody stacking concrete chunks the next time we drive home from Ann Arbor. I’m going to roll down the window, wave, and shout “NICE ROCKS!”

I rarely remember to listen to this National Public Radio news quiz when it airs on Saturday morning, but I download the podcast every week. It’s my favorite. If you’ve never had the pleasure, take a listen for yourself. This was the show that aired on June 22 I think. It was particularly entertaining.

I usually listen to the podcasts in bed with ear buds. This is both good and bad. Either I laugh out loud or fall asleep. I’m just hoping that I don’t laugh in my sleep as that would be very odd. And no, I’ve never turned over and strangled myself with the cord from the ear buds, nor have I had any trouble sleeping with them in my ears.

I have had trouble listening to podcasts while sewing . I just stop sewing and sit there, entranced.

I’ve been wanting to update for almost two years. The editor is so old it is no longer supported. Tech support just laughs when I call. Well, I just took the plunge, somewhat accidentally. Very Helpful Dan walked me through it and before I realized what I had done, I was upgraded. No turning back now. Sink or swim.

Tweaking it has taken days. I’m not ready for the “reveal” just yet, but in a few days I’ll be asking you to head on over with a red pen to the NEW version and help me find all the busted links, misspellings, and other embarrassments. If you can’t ask your friends, who can you ask?

Meanwhile, in the comment section below, please share whatever you hated about the OLD site (above), still up and running until I finish the re-design. That way I can make it disappear with the update. Or, tell me what you liked so I won’t get rid of it.

One of the things I want to add to my newly designed website are links for “social media.” So here’s today’s poll. If I missed one, please write it in a comment below.

Thanks for reading, voting, and commenting!

Have a great weekend,

Ami Simms

PS: Here’s the photo Uncle Bud sent of the New Mexico landscape in 1958.


Entry filed under: Quilting. Tags: , , , , .

The Almost July Newsletter Website Gets Face Lift

85 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Pat Kilmark  |  July 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Ummm, I’m not so sure that the little use I give Facebook even qualifies for any sort of vote……maybe we need a category called,
    “too old to do any of the above.”

    • 2. Ami Simms  |  July 5, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      Funny, Pat!

      • 3. Sheilana  |  July 7, 2013 at 9:38 am

        My excuse isn’t age (although I’m 80), it’s that there isn’t time to play that way…. too many quilts in my head…. yard to care for…. garden… face to face time with friends.

      • 4. Ami Simms  |  July 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm

        Sheilana, I do run out of time. (From time to time.)

  • 5. Jeannine Mendoza  |  July 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    I was binding a quilt while sitting in the front seat of a motor home and my splendid quilt was hanging down in front of me. The motorhome was parked while we waited for various family members to return. A lady walked past me in a group and her eyes were glued to my quilt and I saw her take in my quilt, sizing up the design, drinking it in. She was pushing a stroller, though and only slowed as she passed. I wanted to call out to her, and I will always regret that I didn’t.

    Another thing, I lost a Hawaiian pillow top that I had just finished appliqueing at Heathrow Airport. I still needed to quilt it, but the applique had taken a long time! I wonder where it is now?

    Love your newsletters!

    Jeannine Mendoza, Venice, CA

    • 6. Ami Simms  |  July 5, 2013 at 8:57 pm

      Jeannine, keep your eyes open and you’ll get another opportunity. Sorry your quilt top went missing. What a shame.

  • 7. Sandy Bernard  |  July 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I really enjoy your newsletter every month. Keep up the great work and smiles you pass along.

  • 9. Anne Goldberg  |  July 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    There are piles of rocks known as cairns, I believe in many countries around the world, some of which are very elaborate.

    I have also heard of people piling two or three rocks together in the areas of Alaska where there is mostly snow and few human inhabitants. The point of these rocks is so that the next person who comes by will know that a human has been in this place previously and the new traveler is not alone.

    I think the photos you posted are magical.

  • 11. Diane Zettler  |  July 5, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    I said facebook but I’m not really sure what it and the others are all about. I confess I frequently use the telephone! I guess shame on me.

  • 12. Donna Adams  |  July 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Love your newsletter. I thought I was the only person who goes to sleep wearing my ear buds.
    Donna in Oregon

    • 13. Ami Simms  |  July 5, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      Glad you like my newsletter. Love those ear buds!

  • 14. Audrey Arno  |  July 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Actually I liked the old website, but then I’m not too much for change, but I know it is necessary. I especially like the left hand index, makes it easy to find what I want. And I always keep up to date with the What Were They Thinking signs, I have followed you faithfully at AAQI and hope to continue see you on your new and improved site.

    • 15. Ami Simms  |  July 5, 2013 at 9:05 pm

      Thanks, Audrey. There will still be a left hand navigation bar. I like those too. I’m hoping to get it a little more organized and add a few hot buttons on the top.

  • 16. Marie K.  |  July 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I have always liked all of you website and newsletter.

  • 18. Suzanne Denn  |  July 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Ami – in the Adirondack Mountains of NY we call them Cairns. We grow a lot of rock up here and why not use them to make something so beautiful and interesting.
    Suzanne Denn

  • 20. Judy Thomas  |  July 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I adore Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. I have been getting the podcasts for several years now. If I ever go to Chicago, I want to be in the studio audience.

    • 21. Ami Simms  |  July 5, 2013 at 9:13 pm

      Judy, you might be able to see a taping of Wait Wait. They travel around, you know.

  • 22. Kate  |  July 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    The poll doesn’t have “I don’t use social media”. I avoid using it, because I value my privacy. (and I live with a conspiracy theorist. :) )

  • 24. quiltdivajulie  |  July 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    There are a few of us out here who do not use social media . . . not because we can’t, but because we choose not to. So my vote went into “other.”

    Good for you for doing the website upgrade (mostly for doing something you’ve WANTED to do that can stop pestering you behind the scenes).

    • 25. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      Julie, I hear you with regards to social media.

      Still working on the web page. I should be ready to show it off in a few days.

  • 26. Jill at Berry Wood Lane  |  July 5, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Fairly new to blogging so do not feel qualified to make suggestions for your website. However, I thoroughly enjoy your posts. I voted for Pinterest as it is such a great visual website and is wonderful for quilting.

    • 27. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Thanks, Jill! I appreciate the vote.

  • 28. Regina  |  July 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    I’m with Kate and Pat – I don’t use social media – so I chose other and typed in ‘don’t’

    • 29. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Regina, thanks for your input!

  • 30. Julie  |  July 5, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    We travel past those rocks in Ann Arbor also, on our way to and from University Hospital. I am reminded of the stone “sculptures” along the beach on Mackinaw Island. People are encouraged to add to them and some are pretty cool. I’ve thought about stopping in Ann Arbor to add something to the rocks there.

    • 31. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Cool, Julie! I didn’t know there were rocks piled on the Island.

  • 32. Beverly  |  July 5, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    I don’t use any but email and the phone!
    Another “older” person, but I’m learning to use my mini I pad!

    • 33. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      Beverly, email’s good! So’s your’s mini iPad!

  • 34. Diane  |  July 5, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    However you update the website, it will be fine. (No useful advice here, I’m a quilter and know nothing about websites). As long as Scooter makes frequent contributions, it will be wonderful. He is the best ray of sunshine on the Internet.

    • 35. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      Thanks, Diane! Scooter will be pleased to know how you feel.

  • 36. Judy  |  July 5, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    More postings from scooter!!!

    • 37. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      Got it! Thanks, Judy! Scooter will be on my new home page. It should be live soon.

  • 38. marianne urban  |  July 6, 2013 at 12:37 am

    I do not do any social media

    • 39. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Marianne, thanks for letting me know!

  • 40. Sue  |  July 6, 2013 at 2:03 am

    I thought this was the updated site!!

    • 41. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      Sue, I’m making all sorts of changes. The newsletter is now on the blog (what you are reading now) and my webpage is over here:

  • 42. Martha  |  July 6, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I don’t know if he stacked “your” tower of cement pieces to photograph but Phil Perkins, a graphic designer in Ann Arbor has a photo of soacryme similar “Stacked Towers of Cement” (his mane for them) available in various forms. Here’s a link if you wsant to check them out.

    • 43. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      How cool is THAT?!

  • 44. sue chute  |  July 6, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I too enjopy our newsletter….it gives me a smile, when I reallly need one! I work in law enforcement and you’re a stress relief for me….with quilting as my “therapy”. Speaking of rocks and piles….have you ever seen the “Shoe Tree” along a major interstate going towards Gaylord, MI? I’m not the driver, so usually don’t pay attention to which highways we’re on….but we have a cabin in Vanderbilt, where I do some pretty neat hand binding and it always makes me smile when I see it! I bet there are some other “unique” man-made things around our wonderful state!

    • 45. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      Sue, thanks for the kind words about my newsletter. What a nice thing to say. “Shoe tree?” Never heard of it. Next time you go by, take a picture!

  • 46. Nancy Borgeson  |  July 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    My favorite is Ravelry, which is for knitters, but I knit about as much as I quilt – a lot. I wish there was a site for quilters that was like it. Maybe that’s an opportunity for someone.

    • 47. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:57 pm

      Nancy, I’ve visited that site. It’s amazing. I’m just re-desiging my own website.

  • 48. Barbara  |  July 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Often I see the rock towers at the shore–I’ll pay a little more attention now! Thanks for the heads up.

    • 49. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      (Bring your camera!)

  • 50. Rosemary  |  July 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    On your new site, please do not have spinning icons, difficult to read or pastel fonts. Many redesigned sites go all mod and those of us with old eyes can’t read them.

    • 51. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:59 pm

      I appreciate the suggestions, Rosemary. I’ve already increased the size of the font, and nothing spins—except my eyeballs when I don’t take a break.

  • 52. Colleen  |  July 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I like the “What were they thinking” section and the Worst Quilt contest – although that is probably a little dated now. (Maybe you should hold it again!)

    • 53. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      Colleen, I still have the funny stuff, even though the Worst Quilt in the World Contest is a bit old. (Those quilts are classic!) I was actually thinking of bringing it back.

  • 54. Mary  |  July 6, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    I only hear Wait Wait when I’m in Seattle visiting our daughter. Didn’t know you could download podcasts of it. But to what would I download it? I have my desktop, laptop and an old cell phone. Guess I’ll have to an alarm and listen to it “live.”
    I do listen to books on tape or CD in bed while trying to go to sleep. No problem with those earpods or wires. Get the BOTs and CDs at our public library – don’t buy them.
    I luv your newsletter, especially after you came to the Trinity Valley Quilt Guild in Fort Worth. Now when I read it, I hear it in your voice. So much more fun. You’re very entertaining, and my mind wanders all over the place too.
    I don’t like change but will just have to deal with it because I won’t want to miss any of your newsletters, Ami.

    • 55. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      Mary, you can download the podcasts to your computer. You probably have a player, and speakers….

      So happy you hear my voice in my newsletters now. :)

      And about the change…here we are writing to one another, that’s a good thing, right?

  • 56. sandy  |  July 6, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Why are you trying to change your newsletters. I love them. IT’S YOU!! sANDY

    • 57. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      It’s still me, just on a different platform.

  • 58. Bud  |  July 6, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    I was entranced with the Gravity Glue ides. I am searching for a 1957 photo I took in New Mexico of GIANT rock piles that I suspect were done by alien visitors. Look for my email. Uncle Bud

    • 59. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm

      Uncle Bud, thanks for sending the picture. I added it to the blog.

  • 60. Mutti  |  July 6, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Of course, I run up and ask! It is just too exciting!
    I love the stack of concrete. I do think they are related. I have been wanting to do some rock stacking. I don’t think I could get away with stacking concrete even as enjoyable as it is to look at! Hubby wouldn’t like it. Rocks, now…

    • 61. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      Hi Mutti, if you want to stack rocks and you don’t think it will be appreciated, try stacking pebbles. Small, discrete…

  • 62. Glenda  |  July 6, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    I mostly only use Facebook to keep in touch with rellies doin’s. I use my quilt lists to find web pages and blogs of interest to me. Maybe it’s partly age related what social media we use. My intro to the Internet was the Quiltnet list before the first Aussie list was started, Southern Cross Quilters. Well remember the Worst Quilt in the World contest, ahh memories lol.

    • 63. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Glenda!

  • 64. Kathleen Davies  |  July 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    In the Alps, hikers often add a rock or two to the cairns they pass, which grow and grow and grow…

    • 65. Ami Simms  |  July 6, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      That’s so cool to know, Kathleen! Thanks for another example.

  • 66. Lyn Brown  |  July 6, 2013 at 11:40 pm


    I love “Wait, wait — Don’t Tell Me!” too. I also forget to listen as it’s an awkward time, mid-Saturday morning. I listened today…. Are you also aware of a similar show on NPR called “Says You!” which is a word game show. I like that one too.

    Thanks for your newsletter and the laughs it provides.

    Lyn B.

    • 67. Ami Simms  |  July 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm

      Lyn, no I haven’t heard Says You! I’ll have to go find it. Thanks for the tip and your nice comment.

  • 68. k9dancer  |  July 7, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Ami, I am one of those who rarely uses social media, although I confess that I do like Scooter’s FB page. Anything Scooter does is alright with me, but then again, it’s not my shoes. Having a couple of Goldens as well as a few other assorted dogs makes me a bit dog-sided.
    As for your website, one of my favorite parts would be the ugly quilt contests. Please continue to withhold the names of the winners. I do urge my students to view them as encouragement, and they come away feeling very good about themselves.
    Ami, you and Scooter rock!

    • 69. Ami Simms  |  July 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      You’re a bit “dogs-sided.” I love that phrase! The Worst Quilt in the World will definitely stay. Everybody feels better about their own skills after looking at them. Thanks for the kind words.

  • 70. Mary Kenney  |  July 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I would like to see the people’s faces as you roll down the window and yell “nice rocks”. I am still laughing, but will look for some installations in VA.

    • 71. Ami Simms  |  July 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      I’ll try to take a picture…

  • 72. Maga  |  July 7, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I don’t use any social media either. Just read blogs and enjoy interaction that way. Trying to start my own blog again but there’s always another stitch to sew or catching up to do with blogs or newsletters to read :-D

    • 73. Ami Simms  |  July 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      I’m starting to feel really lonely on FaceBook…

  • 74. Infocraver  |  July 7, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Lots of those stacked rocks in Northern Michigan along the water. Saw them in Aruba, too.

    I use Facebook, but don’t really like it. I prefer email, Yahoo groups, phone calls or a nice afternoon visit.

    • 75. Ami Simms  |  July 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      They seem to be everywhere! Thanks for sharing.

  • 76. Mary Jane Sanford  |  July 7, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    There should be something about Scooter in each newsletter—or maybe he could write his own (probably too much work?) .

    • 77. Ami Simms  |  July 8, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      I think he has to learn to quilt first.

  • 78. MKaye Richards  |  July 8, 2013 at 12:21 am

    I really love the ‘dog’ pet stories—I don’t quilt (please dont hate me)
    I embordery and find that the teaching of quilting has help me a lot
    I make a lot of things to sell for the animal rescue–and here I also stack rocks but that is so I can find the dirt to make a guarden–never knew rock stacking was a art form LOL

    • 79. Ami Simms  |  July 8, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      Did Scooter put you up to this, MKaye?

  • 80. jean whiteaker  |  July 9, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Ami, we stack rocks when we go to our quilt retreat at Four Sisters Lodge in Winthrop, WA — we take walks and stack along the way–always fun to see if they are still there!

    • 81. Ami Simms  |  July 11, 2013 at 11:56 am

      Sounds like fun!

  • 82. Marlene  |  July 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    I’ve seen rock stacks (especially in Vancouver, but they apparently started in the Arctic) called Inukshuk – haven’t “googled” it, but I’m sure if you did, it would tell you why the Eskimos (can’t think of the ‘politically correct’ term – ‘northern indiginous people’??) did it.

    • 83. Ami Simms  |  July 11, 2013 at 11:57 am

      This is all so fascinating!

  • 84. Lydia  |  July 16, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I also spend my “social media” time on Ravelry. It’s my “time suck” of choice. I’ve never been on Facebook, and I often find myself talking back to the bottom of e-mails that say “Like us on Facebook” by saying “Why do I have to go to Facebook to like you, I like you right here in real life.” But that’s me.

    • 85. Ami Simms  |  July 20, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Thanks for sharing, Lydia!


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