09 June 2011

Thirty by thirty: hobbies, #26-30

I hear you singing the Hallelujah chorus all the way over here. No really. I CAN HEAR YOU.

It’s ok. This has been one ridiculously drawn-out list. So far there's been Family (in part 1 and part 2), Service, Personal Development (in part 1 and part 2), Food, and Travel. But today it comes to a close, with some odds and ends I’m calling “Hobbies”:

#26: Learn how to use a sewing machine

Do you guys read Young House Love? The infamous Sherry from YHL has mentioned, several times, her love of iron-on hem tape and hatred of sewing machines. For years I’d been feeling a bit ashamed of my inability to use a sewing machine. I tried to convince myself that’s what my mom is for, raising me and supporting my decisions and having a listening ear and making anything that required a bobbin, whatever that is. But it wasn’t until that post that I truly felt justified. Sherry is an amazing and handy homemaker and she couldn’t use a sewing machine, so these pillows I made with iron-on hem tape and a hand-stitched closure are not only resourceful but Sherry herself couldn’t do better, hot damn:


But then Sherry sucked it up. And learned to sew (pillows, no less). And got good at it. NOT COOL.

So because my one homemaking idol went and learned to sew, that nagging desire to overcome my hatred/fear of sewing machines has returned. I am handy with a drill and a dremel and a sander, so maybe I will just pretend a sewing machine is just another power tool.

#27: Plant and grow something outdoors

I do not like being outside. I don’t like the heat or cold, I don’t like the bugs that feast on me and give me red, swollen, feverish, itchy bumps, I don’t like the sun that skips tanning, skips burning, and goes straight to SOLAR DERMITITIS, I don’t like the pollen that makes me sniffly, I don’t like being in the grass that makes my feet and legs itch, I don’t like being dirty, and I especially hate the creatures that live in the soil (I’m looking at you, earthworms).

I adore fresh herbs. And produce. And flowers. And having a yard that doesn’t look like it’s kept by, uh, people who hate being outdoors. (Google? If you are reading this? PLEASE drive by my house in your magical street-view van again. I need a do-over on the landscaping.)

I’m gonna start small and brave the elements and plant something out there, but I’ll admit I don’t know with what yet. Maybe a small container garden? As in, ONE small container? Or some flowers in the flower bed? We’ll see.

#28: (Re-)Learn five piano pieces

Most of the handful of people reading this know that I’m a pretty decent pianist, or I was at one time. When I went to college, everyone assumed I would major in music. I did NOT. I majored in biology and that’s what brought me to where I am today. I still kept up my mad music skillz through college, though. It helped that the music building was in between the biology and chemistry buildings, so I could set up an experiment, go play in a piano ensemble, and then head over to chemistry lab, easy-peasy.

Although I looked into some opportunities, I didn’t really continue playing once I came to grad school. Ironic, as it is the Music City, you say! Well, turns out my skillz aren’t needed here because there are a hundred professionals who can do it better. Also, I am super shy about practicing in front of others – not necessarily performing, but practicing, when I make lots of mistakes and pound the same passage over and over and maybe swear a few times. Unfortunately it would be hard for Mr. P to escape it without physically leaving the house. Marriage is great but neither one of us really want Mr. P to have to listen to all those wrong notes.

However, the other day I sat down to play out of enjoyment (while Mr. P was out and about, of course) and I found the muscle memory in my fingers is starting to fade. Even my scales were rusty. Frowny face! Time to get back up to par. I’m going to practice five pieces until they are performance-worthy, maybe even memorized if I can. I’m not sure which five yet, perhaps new ones, perhaps not. I’ll let you know.

#29: Read five new novels

I was a book worm as a kid. Here’s me with my trophy for reading 218 books in our library's summer reading program. I was four. Also, already being picked last for sports teams.


I can still read really quickly, and become so absorbed in books that I finish them in a matter of days, staying up way past my bedtime in order to keep reading. I do that for a month or so with a few books, then quit. Six months to a year later, I’ll do it again, then quit. Those stretches without reading are sometimes due to time spent reading work-related things, but let’s be honest and say that I entertain myself with the computer or television plenty when that time could be spent reading. And there are some excellent books to be read!

Five is a pretty low number. Embarrassingly low, even. But, it’s doable, especially considering I enjoy re-reading my favorite books and this stipulates that they must be five new books. And anyway, the real reason I put it on the list to make myself more mindful of reading as an option. We’ll see if I can surpass it!

#30: Organize and create a digital system for my photos (so I take more)

The last one on the list! Sorry it is boring and involves hierarchical file structures and not, say, ending world hunger.

A few years ago I got a super nice camera from Mr. P:


It’s a Canon Rebel XS and I am still only sort of proficient with it. While I know what the buttons do, what I really need to do is just shoot more. Just because I know that low light requires more open aperture, and I know how to open the aperture, does not mean that I can grab my camera and take a lovely photo. I am still heavily, heavily dependent on Photoshop to make up for my photography shortcomings (let alone real-life shortcomings). The other day I tried to take a photo and no matter how I set the white balance, it was all RED. No I don’t know how that happened. If I did, it wouldn’t be on this list.

Much of the reason I don’t shoot more is that I quickly become disorganized with the files. I don’t download to my computer frequently enough, I don’t sort them once I download, there are too many photo files (I am bad about deleting the bad ones), and they are spread out across multiple folders and even computers and hard drives. Photos of events are easy – a folder dedicated to a birthday party or a trip, for instance. But I have trouble knowing what to do with random, one-off photos. So, it’s time to spring clean and organize. I’d like to sort the photos I care about (i.e. delete ones I don’t) onto ONE computer with a good file management system (i.e. Picasa or iPhoto) and keep it up with future photos (i.e. must be EASY).

And that way I can keep posting more photos on this here blog! Goodness knows I have enough WORDS. Thanks for sticking with me!

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