The Great Summer of 2012

We’ve been bad about blogging.  Or good about not spending too much time online.  I can’t decide which one… Either way, here are the highlights of our summer.  We hope you enjoy the retrospective adventure.

Graduating: the plan.  Jake and I have graduated from IU! Jake finished his undergraduate degree in Economics (with Honors) and I finished my Masters degree in Violin Performance with Violin/Viola pedagogy as my outside area (kind of like a minor).  It was great having the support of my parents and Mama Frost for the occasion.  However, it’s really not all that exciting that we graduated because we’ll be studying at IU for another year.  Jake will be taking a couple prerequisites for applying for  Masters in Statistics (Yay!! No more Law School plans! = huge sigh of relief due to the current law market), and I will be getting another 1-year-degree called a Performer’s Diploma.  It’s really just another year tacked on to my Masters; I’ll be doing most of the same things–private lessons with Mimi, orchestra, chamber music–but I’ll also be able to take viola (very excited) and orchestra repertoire to prepare for professional symphony auditions. #takingadvantageofJacobsSchoolofMusicwhileIcan.

The Carolinas: attack of the nephlings.   After graduation (and a $1,200 car repair) we took the 13 hour drive to Greensboro, NC to visit Jake’s sister Jennifer and her husband, Jared, and 6 kids.  It was a whirlwind of running around with 5 girls under the age of 9 (and Gibb when he wasn’t busy being a teenager) and eating delicious food.  We even managed to convince the triplets that I was once a mermaid but decided to become a human to marry Jake.  I think they still believe it.  In Greensboro, we also visited the former Woolworth’s diner–now turned museum–where the first sit-ins happened.  It was sexy.

After Greensboro we headed to Charlotte where we visited Jake’s brother Paul, his wife Tracie, and their 4 kids.  I didn’t know 4 kids could seem manageable, but after hanging out with 6 for a few days, 4 seemed like a piece of pie.  We took a tour of the financial district of Charlotte (which apparently is a big deal, I had no idea) where Paul works and visited a couple of museums on civil war history/history of the South.

We then traveled with Paul and Tracie to the beach in South Carolina.  It might have not been the most beautiful beach, but it had cool wildlife: dolphins, horseshoe crabs, a bobcat, and….

“What is that weird smooth thing?” You might ask.

Don’t worry, it’s just a huge 60 lb sting ray that someone just happened to hook while they were fishing off of the beach.

And the condo we rented had awesome burnt orange shaggy carpet (I forgot to take a picture of that).

Bird poop in the shape of a sea turtle- which were laying turtle egg nests all along the beach while we were there.

We also visited Charleston on the way back.  I could spend a week there.  Just off of the shore of Charleston lies Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began.  I probably learned this at one point in Ms. Mackay’s AP US History class, but I had since forgotten it.  The architecture of Charleston is something of a mix between colonial and New Orleans.

The Beehive State:  the newest Katherine addition.  As many of you know, my mom is named Kathryn.  I also have a relatively new niece named Katherine (Katie), and now I have a sister-in-law named Katherine.  And she’s great. Peter and Katherine’s wedding was very classy, and very very very well organized.  Peter gave out schedules that had every activity down to the minute 8:30am-9pm.  We had a great time making fun of him for it, but it was actually pretty helpful. (Shh don’t tell him that.)  They got married in Provo and had a grand reception in the Springville Art Museum.  Now they are in North Carolina.  (Another reason to go back and visit? Sure! We’ll take it!)

The other two Kathryn(rine)s.

I forgot to mention.  After the wedding, we celebrated by cutting off William’s (Bill) hair.  Bill has been one of Peter’s best friends since forever and he had been growing out his hair/beard for… well probably for forever.  And finally that night he had had enough.  And he trusted me with the honors.  Here’s how it turned out; and yes, the two pictures that follow are of the same person and within 2 hours.

Nauvoo; GGGGG uncle/grandpa.  Hyrum Smith is my great great great great great grandfather.  Which means that Joseph Smith, the illustrious Mormon prophet, is my GGGGG uncle.  While I enjoy thinking about that fact, I had never really gotten into church history to learn about how these dudes influenced the early LDS church.  So this summer I took it upon myself to read Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman (LDS scholar) and No Man Knows My History by Fawn Brodie (ex-LDS woman and historian) to get two well-different but well-informed accounts of the beginnings of the Church.  If you have a lot of time on your hands, and the patience to read pretty dense historical accounts, these are interesting reads!  I found out all sorts of totally crazy, as well as awe-inspiring, things about the early Mormon church.  But that is perhaps for another post.

In the middle of this, Jake and I were invited to join our church’s youth program as the leaders from our ward (or congregation) to go to Nauvoo: the central established LDS city from 1839-1849ish.  We mostly pawned our kids off onto other groups with their friends and did our own thing.  Our favorite was the Community of Christ tour (formerly called the RLDS church).  We saw where Joseph and Hyrum would hide for days/months when officials came looking to arrest them, all sorts of original pieces of furniture and Smith family heirlooms, the room on the top of the Red Brick Store where many of the first religious ceremonies were held, and the final resting place of Joseph, Hyrum, and Emma (Joseph’s wife, who later re-married and stayed in Nauvoo.)

Upper room in Carthage Jail where Joseph and Hyrum were killed.

Emma originally buried Joseph and Hyrum under the shed in the back so his enemies wouldn’t come dig up his body. He was buried in a hidden, unmarked grave for 50 years before they moved them under the stones they are buried under today.

One little nugget: The owner of this van, parked at the Nauvoo Temple visitor’s center, is keeping the Mormon dream alive.

Olympics: I have a crush on Rupino/Wambach. I decided that I wasn’t going to let the Olympics go by this year so I made US women’s soccer my sport to follow.  And I was not let down.  In the semifinals, the US pulled off a 4-3 win in what is one of the best soccer games I have ever watched.  Here are the highlights.  Watch them.

Anniversary: 2 years and counting.  The title of this one is pretty self-descriptive.  We have successfully made it through two years of marriage.  And it is crazy to think about that.  On to the third!

More Midwest: KY, IL.  After another $400 car repair (Reggie: if you drain any more money from us we’ll take you to the dump, just like all of the appliances in The Brave Little Toaster),  we went to Louisville, KY to go see Mumford and Sons in concert with some friends.  Here’s the thing about M&S.  They only really do 2 kinds of songs.  But they do those 2 songs really really well.  So we had a good time.

I also went back to Illinois–this time to the Windy City– to visit Kellee, my longtime friend from high school.  I love that I’m still in touch with a handful of my best friends from Timpview.  Especially when one of them lives right in downtown Chicago-2 blocks from Millennium Park and every shopping center that you could ever want…Can someone say hole burned through my wallet?  Kellee and her husband, Harold, also have a RIDICULOUSLY CLEAN apartment.  The minute I touched down in Bloomington I bought a bunch of cleaning supplies and organizing bins.  We’re not quite living in filth, but we have some improving to do.

That’s all, folks.  If you’re still reading, it must be 3 am and you must be finding any excuse not to go to bed.

Incidental Damage

In preparation for an on-campus short film competition, Jake envisioned and wrote the script for his submission in the comedy category.  Here is the description he submitted with the film as well as the video itself:

Nearly every blockbuster includes a large-scale battle for the soul of humanity in the middle of a highly populated area. While these scenes are entertaining, the colossal amount of collateral damage depicted in these films as computer-generated gunfire and explosions rain down on hapless passers-by has often bothered me.

The purpose of this comedic performative documentary is to explore what the implications would be if these scenes were filmed without the aid of CGI with unsuspecting, everyday people. In so doing, I hope others will view these depictions of sweeping destruction (that would, in any other context, be horrific) in a new light.

Erica played the role of Rosie Marcus, a stiff and unfeeling lawyer, and she had a particularly difficult time getting the lines right.  Here are the outtakes from that scene.

Erica’s Master’s Violin Recital, Jacobs School of Music

A few weeks have passed since I played my Master’s recital and I am finally fulfilling promises made to put it on YouTube.  I am very grateful for all the friends, teachers and family members who showed up for the event–either in person or via the internet– and to all of you who have supported me through the years.

As Jake will use the year to get things in order to apply for Masters programs in Statistics, I will to take the opportunity to keep plugging away at the ol’ violin.  I have accepted the IU’s offer to continue my formal violin studies for 1 more year at the Jacobs School to work towards a Performer’s Diploma Certificate.  I will continue teaching as an Assistant Instructor in the IU String Academy and I look forward to getting all of my students into Suzuki Book 2! (We can do it, guys.)

Bach Partita in B minor, mov’t I.  Allemanda–Double

Bach Partita in B minor, mov’t II.  Corrente–Double

Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 19, mov’t I, Andantino

Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 19, mov’t, II Vivacissimo

Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 19, mov’t III, Moderato–Andante

Brahms Scherzo from the FAE Sonata, Sonatensatz

Thanks to Mimi Zweig for dealing with me for the last 2 years (and for 1 year to come), and to Victoria Chan for being a great friend and accompanist!

Now off to re-Hoosierize myself.

Bessie Kathryn Gibson Hanson 1908-2012

Bessie Kathryn Gibson Hanson was born April 20th, 1908 and passed away February 7th, 2012.  During her life the first Model T Ford was built, the Titanic sank, the 19th Amendment was ratified and and the women took back the right vote, both World Wars were fought, twelve men walked on the moon, and the internet was invented.  And she lived through it all with grace, and a dash of sass.  Here are just a few pictures to commemorate her extraordinary life.  Love you, Grandma.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This just in: Jake is a very dangerous person

I enjoy video games. A lot. Probably a little too much, in fact. So when we bought an XBox 360 a few months ago, Erica was understandably apprehensive, fearing that it might eventually suck out my soul.

Clearly, she had no idea how much joy it would bring into her life.

A few nights ago, she recorded me playing a Kinect boxing game. I heard her laughing in the background while I dominated my opponent, but I couldn’t understand why–I had assumed that I looked as ferocious in real life as my persona on screen. How wrong I was. Erica insisted that I share it, and I insisted that I share it in style. So, like so many of my generation, I made an iMovie. Here it is. Enjoy.

Just a tad late: Christmas/Holiday Season

This holiday season was filled with all of the important holiday events including:  a virus knocking down one family member at a time, a monstrous gingerbread Occupy Wall Street, an engagement, a nativity reenactment (including miniature donkeys and wild sheep), a birthday, the burning of 2011 Man, chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1. The virus.  We think the pathogen began its rampage in the Salt Lake Shirts household, and it made its way down to Provo by minivan to rear its ugly head on Christmas day itself.  I was the next to get it, followed by Papa Shirts, Caitlin, Peter, Kristen, Patrick, Jake and then finally it broke down my mom’s placebo-ly built, iron airborn wall.  Jake and I were home for a full 15 days, so we had enough time to get sick, get better, and go home.

2. The Creation.  Next came our (8th?) annual gingerbread “house.”  In the past, our family has created various things such as the Michigan Big House, The White House, The Moon Landing, and an aquarium.  This year we decided to tackle Occupy Wall Street.  The structure included the New York Stock Exchange building with Pez dispensers acting as the columns, and white chocolate santas for the marble casting.  We also had gummy bear protesters, a drum circle, and a library surrounded by tents for the sugary protesters to sleep in.

Brian even built a gummy Wall Street bull, but it didn’t stay standing long enough to get a good picture of it.   We also had Wall Street big wigs drinking martinis inside the Stock Exchange (notice the red and green M&Ms notating the up and down stocks for the day).  But the most impressive, was probably a recreation of the “casual pepper spray” incident.

3. The Announcement.  While most of the family was working on all of the minute detail of the gingerbread thing (for lack of a better word), Peter and Katherine came home.  They looked around sheepishly and then said “We got some bread at the bakery.  And then we got engaged.”  We all looked up from our candy creations, gave each other looks to see if we heard right, and then started hollering for joy.  (Katherine is the best.  We’re very excited for her to join the Shirts clan.)

4. The birth of Jesus.  Some time around these festivities, we loaded up the car with the chitlins and went to our neighbor, DeLynn’s, barn.  In the barnyard, we dressed up in various bathrobes, fabrics, and dresses, and wrapped our plastic baby Jesus in swaddling sheets.

Continue reading

FrostyShorts & Exotic Feline Rescue Center (strikes back)

Hello, friends,

We’ve been slacking on the blog, and for that we apologize. Unless you didn’t notice. Then we don’t feel that bad.

All that aside, we have a few updates! First, we’d like to unveil Not to be Taken Literally (hereafter known as NTL) parts 4

and 5.

We also visited the Exotic Feline Rescue Center (again) yesterday with Peter and Katherine, who spent Thanksgiving with us. Here are a few videos from the trip. They include Erica running with a lioness, Erica running with a Zeus, the lion, Jake running with Thor, the lion, and a lioness eating a horse’s esophagus. (You may notice that all of these involve lions. That’s mostly because the tigers were too fat and lazy to take notice of their surroundings, despite the fact that I draped myself in raw meat before taking the tour.)

Here are even more pictures of ridiculously awesome cats for your enjoyment.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Two articles for your enjoyment

Since we’re in “apply for law school” mode and don’t have time to devout to our own words, we will use someone else’s.

1. Article on Romney and the political scene, “The Pretzel Logic of Religion and Politics” by Joanna Brooks.

2. Musings about Occupy Wallstreet entitled “Wall Street Isn’t Winning, It’s Cheating” by Matt Taibbi. (Warning- some language)


Should the Government stop investing in Green Energy?

In the October 10 New Yorker, James Surowiecki succinctly delves into and responds to the federal government’s investment in Solyndra here.

“Solyndra’s failure isn’t a reason for the government to give up on alternative energy, any more than the failure of during the Internet bubble means that venture capital should steer clear of tech projects.”

Ani DiFranco: My Power “Band”

September 26th update! Ani announced in Bloomington at her concert that she is expecting baby #2.  She didn’t mention the sex of the baby, or how far along she was, but the baby bump wasn’t bumpy.

November 15th update! Ani’s new Album, “Which Side Are You On?” will be released January 17th.  Check it out here:

Also, here’s a link to an interview with Ani about current politics and her album: Click Here

There is something about the music that you listen to somewhere around age 15-20 that just sticks with you.   Around this developmental time, we are actively searching for a musician, author, poet, film maker that we identify with.  If we are lucky, we find someone who perfectly expresses what is going on in our conflicted mind.  That person or group somehow uses art to make sense of the weird and messy world around you, and they buoy you up to keep on keepin’ on.

Ani DiFranco is my Power Band.  In honor of Ani’s 41st birthday today, I am writing a spotlight on her by telling a little about where she came from, what she’s all about, and her influence on my life.

Ani (Angela Marie DiFranco) was born in Buffalo in 1971 to two MIT grads.  She played guitar from an early age; and her first, self-titled album was released in 1990- when she was only 19 years old.  This album included one her most well known songs that she still tours with today: “Both Hands.”  After recording her first album, DiFranco moved to New York City where she studied poetry at The New School, as well as toured relentlessly.

She married Andrew Gilchrist (1998) in a Unitarian Universalist service overseen by folk singer Utah Phillips (who she worked with for the album Fellow Workers).  Many of her fans reacted negatively to the marriage because she is outspokenly bisexual and is opposed to gay marriage being illegal.  The marriage ended 5 years later.

Ani has made 16 albums with various contributors at the rate at almost one per year between 1990-2008.  Her partner is also her producer, Mike Napolitano, and they have a 4-year-old daughter named Petah Lucia DiFranco Napolitano.  They are currently live in New Orleans.  And I’m sure the baby is cute an all, but Petah Lucia is also probably the reason that Ani hasn’t come out with a new album since Red Letter Year in 2008.  Damn baby.

Ani is an iconic for several reasons.  She tossed the major label system aside and started “Righteous Babe Records” in 1989 so she could release her albums on her own terms.  Her feelings on this are aptly expressed in “Napoleon” [explicit] from the album Dilate.  Several major (and minor) bands including Radiohead have followed suit. Continue reading