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  • Writer's pictureBetsy Grace

Make It Sparkle (Week 13)

Updated: Feb 11, 2023


This new baby quilt continues to emerge! My goal is to get the top complete by the end of February. The design was feeling a little heavy, so I'm making an effort to sprinkle in some bright/poppy colors to make it sparkle a bit. In total, I think I'll need to make at least 50 more blocks to complete the primary design, and I'm still deciding whether to add some borders, possibly with pinwheels, to a couple sides to finish it off. So lots more yet to come on this!


Also, thanks to my Aunt Vermae, I got to try using a long-arm quilting machine for the first time this week! A couple dear friends had uncovered a quilt top made by a relative that had never been finished, and offered it to me to use for practice (so the quilt top in the photo below is not my work). I really enjoyed the long-arming process - the stitching part was quite mesmerizing. Since this was my first time using a long-armer, I decided not to get too fancy and just free-handed an allover pattern that felt intuitive to me to create. Despite a couple weird little mistakes that only I will notice (probably), I am so happy with how it came out and hope to get to do it again soon.


I am working toward publishing my 50 Most Influential Films of 2022 by the end of the month, drawing on data about all the different ways films were viewed, appreciated, and celebrated in the 2022 calendar year. I finished the data-gathering phase this week and began the writing phase. Rather than previewing blurbs from the post here, I thought I'd use this space to share some things I've learned about or noticed while working on this project that I won't be able to get to in the list itself.

One of those is drawing attention to the many great documentaries that came out last year that didn't quite make the cut into the top 50. To start, 9 documentaries about people who are doing or who have done important work to make the world safer, healthier, and more just for all of us:

9. Riotsville, U.S.A (Total project score: 5.25) - An archival documentary about the U.S. military’s response to the political and racial injustices of the late 1960s: take a military base, build a mock inner-city set, cast soldiers to play rioters, burn the place down, and film it all. Available to stream on Hulu. (Summary from Letterboxd)

8. Phoenix Rising (Total project score: 5.62) - Because of her personal experiences of manipulation, abuse, assault, and violence in her relationship with Brian Warner (aka Marilyn Manson), Evan Rachel Wood has been leading a movement to change the laws regarding domestic violence in California, to grant rights and protections to survivors of relationship terror. Unfurling her personal experiences in gut-wrenching detail, the documentary exposes the incredible challenges survivors of relationship violence face in order to make themselves heard, believed, and protected by the law. Streaming on HBO Max.

7. This Place Rules (Total project score: 6.05) - Gonzo journalist Andrew Callaghan travels the U.S. by RV, getting up close and personal with people on the extreme ends of the country's charged political spectrum and in the process, weaving a narrative of the movements and events leading to the attack on the U.S. capitol on January 6, 2021. Streaming on HBO Max.

6. The Janes (Total project score: 6.38) - Defying the state legislature that outlawed abortion, the Catholic Church that condemned it, and the Chicago Mob that was profiting from it, the members of “Jane” risked their personal and professional lives to support women with unwanted pregnancies. In the pre-Roe v. Wade era — a time when abortion was a crime in most states and even circulating information about abortion was a felony in Illinois — the Janes provided low-cost and free abortions to an estimated 11,000 women. Streaming on HBO Max. (Summary from Letterboxd)

5. Descendant (Total project score: 6.65) - The last known - and at the time it arrived in 1860, illegal - slave ship to arrive on American shores was called the Clotilda. Though the ship was intentionally destroyed after it arrived in an effort to bury the evidence of illegal slave trade, its memory and its legacy have not been lost. Africatown, a community 3 miles north of Mobile, Alabama - was founded after the Civil War by 32 West Africans who arrived on the Clotilda - and who have passed down stories about the origins of their community for generations. Now, the long-awaited discovery of the Clotilda's remains offers the descendants of Africatown a tangible link to their ancestors and validation of a piece of American history that so many have tried to bury. Streaming on Netflix.

4. Katrina Babies (Total project score: 6.7) - A first-hand account of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina - both the storm itself and the many ways it has reshaped the people of New Orleans over time, through the eyes and stories of the children who lived it. Streaming on HBO Max.

3. The Territory (Total project score: 7.75) - The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe once lived a simple, isolated existence until the Brazilian government made contact with them in the 1980s. Though promised dominion over their rainforest territory, the tribe's population has decreased from thousands to fewer to 200 people, and their homeland is quickly being deforested by farmers and land grabbers looking to illegally seize the land for “improvement.” Far from a talking head experience, The Territory plays like a visually thrilling, cinematic drama - but its core conflict is real and continues to play out on the ground in Brazil, the consequences of which will impact all of us. Streaming on Disney+.

2. Navalny (Total project score: 8.55) - From David Ehrlich's review on Indiewire: "Roher’s edge-of-your-seat documentary is ultimately a slick piece of sponsored content unto itself, albeit less by design than through sheer force of will, and viewers will come away from it with only the most superficial understanding of Navalny’s politics. Then again, opposing the Kremlin is such an all-encompassing platform that further nuance isn’t necessary, and it’s hard to accuse a guy of doing something for mere Twitter likes when that 'something' is an act of protest that will separate him from his family and see him rot in a Russian prison for an open-ended period of time. Whatever their respective agendas, Navalny finds subject and filmmaker alike bound together by the shared belief that authoritarian governments are as scared of their people as their people are of them, and the documentary is galvanized by the spectacle of Putin shitting his pants." Plus, there's a scene where Navalny cold-calls one of the Russian agents responsible for his assassination attempt that is so riveting and unbelievable, it pretty much makes the whole film a must-see. Streming on HBO Max.

1. Writing With Fire (Project score: 8.96) - From Letterboxd user claira curtis: "Ablaze with inspiration, Writing with Fire sheds light on a realm of journalism I had no prior knowledge of. The Khabar Lahariya journalistic team, composed entirely of women(!!!), is revolutionary in their dedication to preserving the sanctity of journalism in the face of violence, false “fake news” accusations, and a growing presence of nationalist extremists. While illuminating, Writing with Fire is also a great celebration of the Khabar Lahariya team’s many victories. I left with so much admiration for these women and their commitment to providing factual news to the general public. A triumph for documentary filmmaking and journalism. Bravo!" Available to rent.


Aftersun (2022) - Aching, furious love refracting through a prism of summer vacation goof-offs. Charlotte Wells' film miraculously creates a language of imagery and memory that stirs up how confusing, beautiful, painful, precious - how singular and extraordinary it is - to love another person. Especially a parent. Intricately specific in every way, Aftersun tugs at, calls to, our own experiences of fractured, complicated love - becoming something more than itself, something we all know, deep in the ache of our own hearts.


Also on-screen at our place:


"For the Hardest Days" by Clint Smith - the full poem is available by following the Holy Time link, below, but here's a taste:

...How remarkable it is to know that so many have watched the same sun set before you. How the wind can carry pollen and drop it somewhere it has never been. How the leaves have always become the soil that then become the leaves again. How maybe we are not so different than the leaves. How maybe we are also always being reborn to be something more than we once were.

I continue to be obsessed with the Court of Thorns and Roses series. I finished the first book in a week, and I am not a fast reader, so that's pretty impressive for me. I'm about 100 pages in to the second book now, A Court of Mists and Fury. Despite the unbearable weight of the grief and pain that seems to be devouring her slowly day by day, things are opening up for our girl, Feyre, bit by bit. Velaris! No spoilers to be found here, but if you know, you know.


This week was our monthly Stitchcraft gathering; being with this group of women always fills my heart. I worked very casually on hand-stitching a quilt I've been working on in the background for years, but mostly enjoyed the company. Bubbs did too.

Holy Time - The Marvel of an Ordinary Life

Slides from this week's experience--with words from Maya Stein, Elie Wiesel, Hannah Arendt, Vincent Van Gogh, Clint Smith and William Martin; music from Bob Schneider and video from The Blaze--are available here.

Holy Time is a weekly online gathering - Thursdays, 8:45pm CT on zoom (

All are welcome.

Contact me at with questions or for more information.



What you are making and reading and writing and doing? What is inspiring you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.



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1 commentaire

11 févr. 2023

Ahhh! Betsy, this is all so great! I love the new long arm quilting you’ve done and you always inspire me with your color choices. Your brain is such a lovely place. Love you, friend!

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