Oct 23, 2015

What I'm Into: Podcast Edition...

While I have some chores and things to attend to, today I'd like to talk instead about what feels to me like a newfangled technology, but as with most of my trend and fad discoveries, it has been around at least a little while. Much like motion-sensing lights in bathrooms. I walked into the bathroom of a very modest church a while back, looking for the light switch, and the lights flicked on automatically. ZING! I thought, "Wow, what a fancy touch for this mid-80's linoleum and country blue and peach floral vibe." Except then I realized that I find motion-sensing lights pretty much everywhere, and have even lived in houses that had them in certain places, so they're probably not all that fancy and new anymore. And I concluded that I'm, um, aging gracefully. I digress...

Anyway. Apparently everyone knows about motion sensing lights in bathrooms, so instead I'm going to talk about podcasts. Which, again, I'm pretty sure everyone knows about, but I'm new to this gig so you get to hear about my finds.

It started a year(s?) ago when the Cat Daddy started listening to musical podcasts from his favorite groups, and I was all "yeah, that's pretty cool," but didn't do much about it. He tried to tell me how to do it and I was all "So, it's an app?" and he was all "the app is where you find them," but I was only half listening so there you have it (apologies to the Cat Daddy).

Fast forward to this spring, when I was thinking forward to wintertime running in New England, and remembering that it may well involve dread-mill time, and sort of grumbling about that. Then I got to talking with some running acquaintances in AL and they mentioned which podcasts they were into, and how they really passed the time, and even gave me some suggestions, and it got me to thinking "Hey, this might be a good idea."

I'd heard murmurs about Serial, but it sounded a little intense for me. Kind of like HBO shows. Eventually though, I'd watched enough TED talks and Facebook snippets that I finally started looking up the sources of my favorite things, and bam--podcasts. You know what made the long driving days (almost) fun on our move? Plugging my phone into my car's auxiliary jack and listening to podcasts. You know what makes me (almost) look forward to dishes and laundry and lamesauce chores? Podcasts. I'm serious; if you are not into them already, you need to take a look and see what you can find. There is something for EVERYONE out there.

And so, without further adieu, I present to you some of the podcasts I'm into* **...

Another Mother Runner--This is run by Sarah and Dimity who are, among other things, mothers and runners. They talk mostly about running-related things. Obvs.

TrueFaced--If you are into Jesus, and Grace, and stuff like that, this is a great little weekly snippet. They are my people.

Open Door Fellowship Church--This is my home church. Always will be. Bill from TrueFaced started it with a bunch of hippies over 40 years ago, and it's one of the few places I've seen God's grace lived out in all its messy, trusting, brutiful glory. There are others, but not many. I don't listen every week, but I like to keep tabs and check in from time to time. They are my people.

Newsworthy With Norsworthy--More Jesus stuff. Luke is a pastor who is really good at asking questions and exploring ideas with people from all corners of Christianity. My favorite guests of his so far have been Nadia Bolz-Weber and Richard Rohr, but that's like saying my favorite parts of Disneyland are Space Mountain and the Blue Bayou. There's a whole lot more in between and around the two to love.

Invisibilia--This one is amazeballs. Alix and Lulu explore aspects about us that are invisible, but have a huge influence on our lives. It's science-y, and story-ish, and really hard to describe. They did an initial run of 6 or so episodes and are (I hope) in the process of making more.

Hidden Brain--This one is sort of in the same vein as Invisibilia, but focused more exclusively on social science.

How To Do Everything--This is a brief and fun look at most anything you can imagine. Mike & Ian answer listener questions on how to do...everything. It's a little tongue-in-cheek, a little sassy, and somehow still incredibly informative.

TED Radio Hour--So about half my podcasts are NPR-related. I think the Cat Daddy may be a little concerned that I'll turn into a crazy liberal, because apparently that's what happens when you listen to NPR (I've heard). But I could not resist an NPR show based entirely on TED talks. Plus, I might have the teensiest crush on Guy Raz.

The Simple Show--I took a winding path to get to this one. It started over on The Art of Simple. I've been loosely following Tsh and her family for a little while now, particularly their recent (almost)year abroad with their three kiddos. I pretty much completely ignored her podcast for a while, but then she re-vamped the whole thing and did a post on why I should go give it a try, so I did. Tsh's deal is living simply; that is, living holistically within your life's purpose. Which can mean something different for everyone, which is why it's a great listen. I think her biggest strength, though, is bringing in other people. (Nearly?) Every show is an interview where she talks with someone else about their own "simple," and many/most of them have their own websites and/or podcasts. So if you are kind of bookish and want to find people to follow, this is a good place to look.

PopCast--If you will look back over this list you will see Jesus stuff and science-y, thinking stuff, and a bit about living simply. And you might think, "Wow, Skerrib, you are cultured and deep," right? That's what I thought too, as I congratulated myself for jettisoning almost all the pop culture in my life. But then on a Simple Show interview, Megan Tietz dropped that she had also been interviewed for the Popcast, so I meandered over there to give it a cursory listen. I'm only about 5 episodes in, but I'm already certain I want to be besties and/or a professional third wheel to Knox & Jamie. Clearly, I've kept the lighter-duty parts of my brain too. You're welcome.

With winter coming, that dread-mill will be looming, so please feel free to leave me some of your favorite podcast suggestions. Ideally I have a smile on my face as the ending bumper music is playing, so no scary things or Lifetime specials, please...

*This list is ever-changing. There have been a couple I've tried and dropped for various reasons. There was one I really, really wanted to like because it involved interviewing all sorts of famous personalities on a more behind-the-scenes level, but it had too many f-bombs for my tender ears. I think it was actually called the WTF Podcast though, so I had fair warning there.

**I'm also into several non-podcast things--somehow I've completely missed telling you about my Apple TV and YouTube discoveries--but those will have to wait for another day. And we have also been in a timeframe where the Littler One wants to record and post his own Minecraft videos on YouTube, which I'm all for, except I'm stuck on the part about how to go about recording a Minecraft video. So there's that. Aging Gracefully.

Oct 9, 2015

Patchy Patchy...

When the Cat Daddy went into the Air Force, he went through Officer Training School. A substantial part of the first two weeks of OTS was learning how to keep their uniforms in good order. They trimmed loose threads. They learned how to tuck or blouse their pant legs just right in/over their boots. And they ironed. They ironed and ironed and ironed.

When the Cat Daddy returned from OTS, I told him that I would be letting him maintain his own uniforms. There were several reasons behind this, but my favorite was that the US government had invested so much time and training into his uniform techniques that I didn't want that training to go to waste. He replied that was fine with him, and that it was probably better than trying to train me up to the same standard anyway (he knows I'm a lazy ironer). So now when we have to buy an iron, he's the one who picks it out because he irons way more often than I do & knows which features are the important ones. And when he needs something sewn on he takes his uniforms to the base alterations place, which for a reasonable price does a great job in probably 1/3 of the time it would take me. And if it comes out wrong (which I don't think it ever has) he has them do it again, and I'm very happily out of the loop.

Well, this year the boys joined Cub Scouts. I've quick-stitched patches and such in the past, but something about Cub Scouts seemed more official to me. We bought the Badge Magic (stuff to stick the patches on instead of sewing them), but then it turned out that their pants needed hemming as well. And in the past I've sort of hack-hemmed my own pants, but again something about doing them for someone else made me want to take it up a notch.

Well long story short, one of my running friends is a seamstress and does hemming and patch-sewing for people in the neighborhood as a way of funding her hardcore running habit.

So guess what I did? I could have hired her to hem the pants and sew on the patches, but instead I took a sewing lesson from her. I had the machine and the gist of the process, and she had the experience and the techniques to actually make things look good. So we spent a lovely couple of hours wrestling with fabric, and she graciously and patiently looked on as I learned how to do the things, and she made some dollars along the way. It was a win-win-win as far as we were concerned.

(Another thing I love about my late 30's is that I'm learning what things in life I care to take on myself and what things I can afford to hire out to people who know better than I. I'm getting pretty good at asking for help when I need it, and I'm finding people are generally glad to share their talents with me.)

That was a couple weeks ago. Since then we acquired new Den patches (above), and the boys earned their Bobcat badges, so it was time to test out my new skills. It took me a couple tries but in the end I was very pleased with the results, and have declared myself a serious, patch-sewing Scout Mom.

The Cat Daddy looked at my work and said he still wasn't sure he'd trust me with his uniforms, and I said that's fine. I'm not sure I'm up for that level of pressure and besides, I have a friend who would be happy to to take the job...

Oct 7, 2015

Snippets to Suffice...

Kids, there is so much to tell. So much. But there is so little time. So little. Rather than cramming all of the things into a gigantic post, it seems less painful to us all to let some snippets suffice--

--I started back to work a month ago, and can now say with authority that if you are going to start a new job, it should be with a company you've already worked for and like, and with people you've already worked with/for and like. You will have the BEST first week ever, and will only sweat a little bit from excitement, rather than buckets and buckets trying to figure out workplace culture, boundaries, and the like.

--On my first day I showed up with my trusty work laptop, ready to get back into the swing of math and big engineering words and stuff. I had a lot of questions, but I settled pretty easily into my workspace knowing most of them would be answered eventually. There were a couple, however, that were more urgent than the rest. And it turns out they are pretty much universal. You can be most any occupation, in any stage or station in life, in most any place in the world, and it boils down to these key issues: "Where is the bathroom?" "Where is the water?" and "Where do I get/store my lunch?"

You know what's not universal? At my particular away-from-home job no one asks me to do any bottom- or nose-wiping. People try to be as alone as possible in the restroom instead of all crowding in to find me when I'm there. They get their own food and drinks, and if I shoot a serious look or point to my phone they can tell I'm concentrating and should not be bothered unless necessary. I haven't had to give a single time-out to any co-workers, and I still get to say silly things sometimes. On the downside, no one has expressed any desire to give me snuggles or hold my hand walking into a building, but somehow it still feels like I'm winning, so I think it's a good fit.

--Overall the balance of work and home is...balanced. I *think* I might have found my own personal sweet spot. Our schedule is full but not overwhelming, at least most of the time.  The house is a notch messier than before, and still not completely assembled the way I'd like it. And I would love a little more downtime for *just* me, but that will come in time, I think, as I learn how to chisel it out of the day.

--The equinox arrived and, like clockwork, the weather cooled. My favorite time of year is now, when the mornings and evenings require a fleece but it still gets warm enough in the afternoons to take the chill off. The fall sunshine has a nibble of crispness to it, and of course the orchards have the best apples, without that suspiciously shiny wax coating one finds at the grocery store. The kids love it when I melt peanut butter and chocolate chips to dip their apple slices in, but I'm happy to skip the melting and dip right into the PB and chips. My family loves the local homemade apple butter with its hint of molasses, but I have discovered the "low-sugar" version, which in the case of jams and jellies doesn't mean blandness or artificial sweetener, but rather a bolder, more tart, and purer fruit flavor. I might have a slight low-sugar apple butter toast problem.

--Thus far moving back to Massachusetts has gone swimmingly. It's not exactly the same, of course; no place ever is. But we have made some new friends and re-acquainted with a few old ones, and are experiencing the joys of relational roots.

--I turned 38 a few weeks ago. I've been in a bit of a heady place for a few years, kind of surveying my life and realizing I'm THERE. I'm an adult, driving the mom-mobile, flying through these years of raising a family. A while back I saw a picture of my family (parents, brother, and me), taken when I was the same age as His Highness is now, and realized that when that photo was taken my parents were younger than I am now, and I got a little mind-blown, thinking, "There we were, and here we are."

--And finally, time for a little bit of True Confessions. I don't much care for Pumpkin Spice things. You can keep your lattes and pies and pancakes and whatnot.

I'll be over here with my apple crisp...