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  • Writer's pictureKurt J. Kolka


Updated: May 2, 2020

Feb. 2018 /

By Kurt J. Kolka

GAYLORD – AnnMarie Rowland is a name well-known around Northern Michigan.

Some recognize her for her newspaper feature stories in the Senior Gazette in Grayling. Gaylord readers will remember columns “Dirty Knees,” a gardening column, and “The Apologetic Chef,” a cooking column, which appeared in the Gaylord Herald Times for several years. Others will remember her for her singing performances at quilting shows or her gardening presentations.

She is a woman of many talents who loves to share them with others. In fact, one might say her unique life is much like a patchwork quilt. She has taken her diverse talents and managed to to sew them into a unique life.

“I was always interested in writing, playing in the dirt and singing as a child,” says AnnMarie. She is not sure where any of this came from.

Immediately after high school, AnnMarie began singing old-time folk music with a group, traveling around and performing at various venues.

“Folk music is all about stories. I love stories.”

While she did less performing after getting married and starting family, her enjoyment of writing and singing never left. It merely slowed down.

Sometime later, after a divorce, she ended up in Lewiston, doing gardening for Garland Resort and playing gigs on the side. Then, her manager recommended her to Hidden Valley as their head gardener.

“These things just keep happening to me,” says AnnMarie. “These [situations] just seem to fall into my lap.”

AnnMarie felt a little guilty, not having a degree in gardening, but yet being in charge of others. So, she took a master gardener class to get some credentials. When the class came to its end, she still needed to put in another 40 hours of volunteer work to get certified. The problem was she was so busy with gardening as her main profession, she did not have the time to volunteer.

Then, she came up with an idea. What if she volunteered to write a weekly column on gardening? So, she met with then-Gaylord Herald Times publisher, Jim Grisso, and proposed doing a weekly column on gardening for free. The agreement would be for 10 weeks. Grisso agreed.

Three weeks after her columns ended, Grisso called her back. Readers loved her column. He was willing to offer to pay her to keep it up. Another situation had fallen into her lap.

Besides writing, AnnMarie would later leave Hidden Valley to become a janitor at the Evangelical Free Church and then a cook at Wolverine Camps.

“I'm a nomad,” she confesses. “I can't stay too long in one place.”

As time went on, her writing career kept growing as well. She started another column about cooking called “The Apologetic Chef,” which featured what she refers to as “real recipes for real people.” Every recipe mentioned she tried herself.

It was while writing, AnnMarie met with author Jonathan Rand, writer of the popular “Michigan Chiller” and “American Chiller” books. During the course of their meeting, Rand suggested they create a writers retreat for young writers together. From that, “Author Quest” was born and has been running for 10 years years now.

When her gig at the Herald Times ended after a corporation bought the newspaper, she needed to find another source of income. That's when something else fell into her lap.

She was invited to perform her songs at a quilt show in the thumb area of the state. Soon, she was invited to perform at other quilt shows and found a niche audience for her folk music at the same time. Through that experience, she created a CD titled, “Pieces of Time,” featuring music especially written for quilters. Now, she is traveling to other states to perform at quilt shows and retreats.

Through these quilting shows she came to know Gaylord quilt shop owner, Delphine Miller of Gaylord. Delphine wanted to host a quilting retreat in the Gaylord area. Not only would AnnMarie perform her music, but she would cook meals as well.

Her cooking at quilt retreats led to requests for her to create a cookbook. So, taking her old articles from her Apologetic Chef columns and adding a bunch of new ones, she created the book, “The Apologetic Chef,” which came out in early January.

She will be signing copies of her cookbook locally at a special event on Monday, Feb. 19, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Delphine's Quilt Shop, 114 N. Otsego Ave. in Gaylord.

On February 28 through March 4, AnnMarie will be singing and serving meals at the Michaywe Log House near Gaylord at a special Ladies Retreat Weekend. Women are welcome to come, quilt, knit, crochet, scrapbook, etc. or use it as a little get-away. The retreat is sponsored by Delphine's Quilt Shop.

AnnMarie loves her patchwork quilt life, which remains exciting and varied. She says she and Delphine are working on some special plans for the future as well, involving quilting. Of course, for now, what that is must remain a secret, as it is being stitched together.

For more information on AnnMarie's book signing or the Ladies Retreat Weekend, contact Delphine's Quilt Shop at (989) 732-1252 or by email at Reservations are required for the Ladies Retreat.

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