74 Days

I’ve mentioned previously that I listen to a lot of podcasts (e.g. last February’s post of my Top Twenty Podcasts).  I don’t know that I’ve ever actually quantified “a lot.”

I am current — for varying definitions of current, as the rest of this post will discuss — on approximately 225 podcasts.  Current means I’ve listened to the entire back catalog, except for current news and politics podcasts.  For those, I listened to the 10 most recent episodes when I started subscribing and then listened to current episodes from there.

I am also subscribed to many podcasts on which I am not current.  I haven’t counted, but there’s at least 400 of them between several categories — Catching Up, In the Wings, Limited Release, Abandoned, and Podfaded.  Theoretically, Catching Up means I’m currently listening to the back catalog.  In the Wings means I want to listen to those podcasts and will listen through their back catalogs after I finish the Catching Up list.  Limited Release is a podcast that, when it was initially released, the intention was to do a specific number of episodes and no more.  An example of Limited Release is the Presidential Podcast, which did one episode for each U.S. President.  Abandoned is all the podcasts I listened to at one time but which I decided I no longer wish to do so.  Podfaded is podcasts that are no longer produced.  I move podcasts from the Current list to the podfaded list if they do not release episodes from more than 12 consecutive months or when the makers announce that they will not be releasing new episodes.

I do not unsubscribe from podcasts that I abandon or that are podfaded.  I used to unsubscribe, but a couple of times I resubscribed to previously abandoned podcasts and then remembered I had listened before and why I no longer do.  Sometimes podfaded podcasts come back.  If I remain subscribed, the episodes will drop into my feed automatically.  Either way, if I try to subscribe to something that is on my abandoned or podfaded list, I’ll get a pop up message from my app telling me I’m already subscribed.  I can then find it on my lists and remember why I haven’t been listening to it.

So here’s my dirty little secret: I’m a 74 days behind on listening to podcasts.  I know this because I am subscribed to two podcasts which release episodes every single day — each episode is under 5 minutes long, btw — and that’s how many episodes my app tells me I have queued from each of those podcasts.

I usually listen to podcasts when I drive, when doing housework, and sometimes when crafting.  Any given day, the number of podcasts I listen to is somewhere between 14 and 16 hours of content.  Since I set my app to listen at 2.5x speed as a default, and the app has a silence skipping feature that gives me an effective listening speed of 3.0x, it takes me 4-6 hours to actually listen to 14 – 16 hours of content.  I learn a lot from some podcasts and am highly entertained by others. I also listen to some that are just meh or are repetitious of others or that I subscribed to just to have something to fill up time.h

I started thinking about why I’m 74 days behind.  What happened on those 74 days?  Or is it just an accumulation of days where I only had 2 hours to listen to podcasts?  I realized that the 74 days represents some of the best and worst days of the my life over the last 9 months.  I offer this inventory:

  • 7 days visiting Stacy in Indiana in April 2017.  Ever since she moved, I’ve visited Stacy once a year and attended a fiber festival with her (See blog posts from 20142015, and 2016.)  This year, I was there for a week.  We went to the fiber festival, watched Star Gate, read, and crafted together.  It was awesome, and there was definitely no time for solitary time, cut off with earbuds in my ears.
  • 14 days, sick with a terrible upper respitory infection.  I was just starting to be sick when I left Indiana and it turned out that I was the sickest I’ve been in a long, long time.  My energy was zapped.  I slept in the recliner in the living room because I couldn’t breath laying flat.  You’d think 14 days sick would be an excellent opportunity for listening to podcasts.  However, since I was so congested and my ears were swollen, it was painful to put earbuds in my ears.
  • 4 days helping my sister move and organizing paperwork.  I spent more than 4 days working on these projects, but since several of those days she was working while I was packing or unpacking, I am guessing that only 4 were days when I did not listen to podcasts.
  • 7 days for Hurricane Irma.  This includes a day of preparations, the day of the storm, and the 5 days after the storm when we did not have electricity at our house.  We were able to keep our devices charged with batteries, but we limited our use of them so I didn’t listen to podcasts.
  • 30ish days visiting my mother-in-law.  We went to visit for long weekends in July, September, and October, a week at Thanksgiving, and I was there for 6 days at Christmas.  While there, I might listen to podcasts for a short time after I woke up and before bed, but other than that I was too busy visiting.
  • 6 days traveling to and from and attending SAFF.  This was the third year in a row I’ve rented a house with a bunch of friends.  This year, Fredi and I drove together and several other people met us there.  While there, we are all busy shopping or taking classes.  In the evenings, we eat dinner together then gather around the fireplace for Show and Tell.  It’s a fantastic time.
  • 15 days (so far) in New Jersey for my mother-in-law’s funeral.  The days I have been here are days I have needed to be present, not cut off by my headphones.  Making plans for the funeral, hanging out with family and friends, sorting through paperwork, all mean that I have listened to podcasts for less than an hour a day the entire time I’ve been here.

This adds up to 83 days.  In addition to these days, there have been many times when I haven’t been listening to podcasts at times I normally would.  For example, my friend Shellee has been having eye issues and has had a limited ability to drive as a result.  When we are going to events together, I pick her up and we drive together.  If we were driving separately, I would listen to podcasts, but I’d rather enjoy her company!  The day I was Scouring Fleece recently, I could have listened to podcasts while working.  Instead, I did not listen to anything.  I simply enjoyed the beautiful weather and the work I was doing and the sounds of birds singing and children playing in the neighborhood.

Obviously, I’ve been able to catch up on some of the podcasts since I am less than 83 days behind.  However, I haven’t been able to catch up on much.  When I first started listening to podcasts back in 2014, I easily had 4 – 6 hours a day filled with activities that I could do while simultaneously listening to podcasts.  The fact that I am now 74 days behind is an indication that my life has changed since then.

I want more days and times in my life like those represented by the 74 days.  On those 74 days I was present, whether for the good or the bad.  I was engaged.  I need more of that in my life.

Today I started abandoning podcasts.  I only want the best of the best, the ones that are truly adding to my life.  Here’s to greater presence and engagement.

 

Close Up

It’s Yarn Love Challenge Day 2!  If you missed day 1, explaining what exactly Yarn Love Challenge is, please see yesterday’s post.  Today’s prompt is “close up.”  Over the last few years, I’ve tried to improve my ability to take close up pictures.  Close ups help us focus on details, providing a better understanding of and appreciation for finished projects.  Rather than just sharing fiber arts pictures in this post, I’ve chosen close-up pictures that represent different aspects of my life.  Collectively, these small details provide a better understanding of the ongoing project that is my life.

Fiber

Since this is primarily a fiber blog, I am starting with the fiber pictures!

First, one of my favorite projects and pictures: a close up of the lace border on the Raindrops on Roses Shawl.

Next, one of the first close-up pictures I ever took of a fiber project.  It’s a humble garter-stitch dishcloth and I hoped to take a picture that made it look like more fun than that!  I tried to make it look like ocean waves and added the octopi charms both because of the ocean theme and because I love octopi so much.

This is the lace edging on the first project I ever knit from my own homespun yarn.  I was (and am) so proud to be able to knit from yarn spun by my own hands!

I have been obsessed with cables ever since I knit a cabled baby blanket as my second-ever knitting project.  (The baby I knit that blanket for just got married this week and is expecting his first child).  When I knit the Sand Tracks scarf, I became obsessed with the combination of cables and seed stitch.

Rainbows make me happy, and this Redfish Dyeworks 20/2 Spun Silk gradient is no exception.  I love this picture because it captures all the skeins in the gradient and because there’s something perfect about the way the circle draws my eye around and around and around the rainbow.

The Gotland / Teeswater fleece pictured here is one of the first fleeces I purchased (at SAFF 2016) to process by hand.  This picture is of the raw fleece and I love all the different colors in the fleece.  I took this picture just before I washed it.  I have yet to comb or spin it.

 

Tiger

I take a ridiculous number of pictures of our cat, Tiger.  He’s so photogenic.  He’s also ridiculously cuddly.  Sometimes he’s so cute and happy with cuddles that I don’t want to disturb him, but I’m also bored.  I almost always have my phone with me, so I whip it out and take pictures of him.  Of course, I take many close ups of his face.

But I am also rather obsessed with taking pictures of his paws.

 

And the way his tail wraps around his body and curls up beside his hip is one of the most precious things in the world.

Life

My husband grew up in Toms River, NJ.  Toms River is right about in the middle of the New Jersey coastline, separated by the intracoastal from Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, NJ.  He grew up going to the Seaside beach constantly.  His grandmother and an aunt each lived a couple blocks from the beach where the boardwalk was.  Superstorm Sandy destroyed much of the boardwalk.  If you watched any of the coverage of that storm, you might remember a picture of a roller coaster in the ocean.  That was the Seaside boardwalk where my husband grew up.  After Sandy, the boardwalk was rebuilt in record time, and the businesses lining it reopened for the following summer season.  That fall, one year after Sandy, an electrical short started a fire that burned six blocks of the newly-rebuilt boardwalk (this article says 3 blocks, but it was really 3 blocks in Seaside Heights plus 3 blocks in Seaside Park for a total of six blocks).  Fire trucks came from all over the state to fight that fire.  In the end, they were only able to put it out by bulldozing out part of the new boardwalk to create a fire break.

Three months after the fire, we were in New Jersey for Christmas, so we went down to the boardwalk to view the devastation.  The picture before is a charred piece of wood, about 4 inches long, embedded in the sand near where the fire started.

Birds

My father is a birdwatcher; I’ve been birdwatching with him since I was 6 months old, in a backpack on his back.  Last year, we attended the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.  One of the tours we took was a bird banding tour.  The guide was a licensed bird bander.  We accompanied him to the location where he bands and helped him to capture three birds for banding.  He applied a band to each bird, weighed them, measured their wings, beaks, and leg bones, then released them.  This is a Bachman’s Sparrow, an uncommon species which is in decline due to habitat loss.

 

In the vendor area of the festival, was a booth operated by a bird rescue.  They brought several of their education birds — birds that will never be able to released back to the wild due the extent of injury — and you could have a picture taken with the bird of your choice.  I picked the Golden Eagle because I am a Ravenclaw and the Eagle is the emblem of our House.  Note that I am not holding this bird.  Only licensed handlers are able to do that.  The eagle is sitting on the gloved hand of the handler and I am standing beside her.  The picture is taken from a clever angle, making it seem that I’m closer than I actually am!

In the Yard

Several years ago, I got lenses for my iPhone camera.  I didn’t know such a thing was possible until I was traveling on business and a colleague had them for her phone.  I was so excited, I bought myself a set.  I especially loved the macro lens.

Leaf and tendril from the grape vines.  We’ve since pulled them out because they were growing up against the house, destroying the paint and the window screens.  Plus the neighborhood birds ate all the baby grapes while they were still green so we never got any ourselves.

A cherry tomato, still on the vine.

Lichen on the trunk of a crepe myrtle.

A crab spider on its web.

 

Click here to read Yarn Love Challenge, Day 3: Currently Making.

 

 

2015 Goals and Plans

I do not set crafting resolutions.  To me, the word “resolution” implies doing something drastically different than you had been doing before.  I’ve been a fiber crafter for a long time and that is not going to change.  Instead, I set goals and make plans.  Goals differ from resolutions in that goals are smaller, concrete, and incremental.  I already have a base of fiber crafting skills and I want to build on those skills.  There’s many things I have never done, especially with crochet, spinning, weaving, and dyeing as these are the skills that I have only acquired in the last two years.  Although I’ve been knitting for 20+ years, I spent many of those years knitting the kinds of projects where gauge is nearly irrelevant and so the list of things I have never done with knitting is longer than you might expect. I’m starting out the year by picking one or two skills to work on for each of the fiber crafts.

Continue reading “2015 Goals and Plans”