Thursday, December 31, 2020

Goodbye 2020

 A few weeks ago we had our first snow of the winter. Last year it only snowed a few inches, so the girls went outside and froze themselves out of sheer joy. The ice lingered on the trees for a few days, which I hate more than wind, because we lose large tree limbs. Luckily nothing was so big we had to call a tree company, and no structures were damaged. We'll just be chopping wood for the next several months.

During my days off work I had some time in the office/craft room/art studio/cat bathroom and made a Divided Basket. This is the 5th one I have made, but the first for me. It is perfect for all the things I had rattling around in the car, like masks, hand sanitizer, and kid snacks. This is a great pattern and easy enough for beginning sewers. I want to make several more, as well as try a few more Noodlehead patterns.

Jason and I drove down to DC one day to take pictures. The weather was warm enough not to be freezing, and since it's not prime tourist season, the crowds were at a minimum. We visited some monuments that I had never seen before, despite growing up in this area and living in Maryland for almost 12 years. (The Lincoln and Washington monuments were not in that category - it's hard to miss those.)

I had not seen the FDR memorial before, and it was pretty odd. It's a large area that has a caveman-type feel about it. There are a lot of rock piles, sprawling vegetation, and water pools. It looks like something a polar bear might be living in at a zoo.

I have seen the Jefferson Memorial many times (it's hard to miss if you drive anywhere in DC), but I can't remember being inside it. I'm sure there was a school field trip years ago, but who remembers that ancient history? There were only 5 people in sight; a massive difference from the overwhelming cherry blossom crowds.

I love end-of-year and new year musings. Give me all the "year in review" and resolution posts! One format I saw and will steal here is:

Things I Started in 2020 That I Want to Continue

  1. Walking: In October I started going for a walk in the morning before I started work. This turned out to be a great way to get some time outside of the house, and replicate my commute with some space before sitting at a screen all day. It has been more challenging to make it out in the winter, but I plan to continue as long as it's above 30 degrees and not raining outside.
  2. Audiobooks: I've listened to a few audiobooks over the years, but was limited to easy-to-read thrillers or autobiographies that didn't require much attention. Somehow I finally trained my ear to listen to all types of books, and have had one book always on the go since the spring. Plus, it's great to be able to combine reading and knitting or walking. I read 81 books this year which is my all-time record.
  3. Minimizing ongoing projects: Even though I want to make all the things, I realized that having more than a few projects in the works at the same time stressed me out. I needed to get them off my to-do list instead of actually enjoying them. I'm going to refrain from starting any huge projects, like quilts (although I have 2 to finish), and focus more on little things that I can complete.
  4. Separation between work and home chores: I started working from home in March, like a lot of people, and it took quite some time (over 6 months) to work out a schedule. While at first it seemed easy to have laundry going throughout the day or clean the kitchen during my lunch break, the constant blending of work time and chores made me feel like I wasn't paying attention to anything. Now I keep laundry to the weekends and cleaning to after I finish up my work day.
  5. Reduce/eliminate social media scrolling and choose inputs intentionally: I have mentioned this before, but I hate the feeling of time disappearing while scrolling through social media, and then not remembering anything I've seen. I have unfollowed a lot of accounts on both Facebook and Instagram, and have added more blogs to Feedly instead. Now I go onto Instagram only for certain reasons, such as to look at other examples of patterns I am considering, or to get ideas for art. (Did you know that if you look at Instagram through your browser, there aren't any ads?)
Here is a photo from my walk this morning; it was in the 40s which is as good as you can get this time of year, in this climate. Goodbye 2020, and welcome 2021. Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Good Enough

This month I'm going for "done is better than perfect." No, I didn't get around to moving my camera photos onto my computer, so these pictures are from my phone. No, they are not in order because for some reason Blogger imported them most-recent first, and if I try to move them, they disappear. (Know that the sentences preceding this have now been sitting as a draft for 12 days. Moving on.)

The Christmas season is now upon us (because it is December, not in September as Home Depot would have you believe), and the girls and I have been excited to decorate. I'm not a fan of winter, it's too cold and dark, but I think the twinkly lights and warm baking helps. I keep saying there need to be traditions to get us through January and February, but so far no one has invented any. Maybe the tradition in my family is for everyone to have babies in January. 4 out of 6 cousins have birthdays in January.

I was doing pretty well keeping up with walking, but then winter happened. My face gets too cold for comfort under 30 degrees, and then the snow and ice came and never went away. I have been reading in the mornings before work, but it's not the same as getting outside. I spend most of the day in one room!

Mary turned 7 in November. Like nearly all girls her age, unicorns and small, cute animals are her obsessions.

This is also the time of year when I, and everyone, starts thinking about plans for the new year. 2020 of course was different than any of us imagined, so I'm not making any ambitious plans for 2021. This year I was supposed to fly to India on February 28, and that didn't happen. That's probably what I'm most disappointed about; but I hope I get to travel to India at some point in my life.

The increased reliance on virtual everything made a lot of us really contemplate the Internet and specifically social media. I watched The Social Dilemma and now I'm reading How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell. Last year it was Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. Instagram is my vice of choice, and I spend way too much time scrolling through posts and stories. Can I remember more than 5% of what I saw? Probably not. 

I have been blogging for 15 years (not including the several years break I took leading up to this year). I will always love blogs the most; I actually read the content and engage with a post for as long as it takes, as opposed to a second or less on an Instagram post. I can curate what I read and not be bombarded by ads that follow me around the Internet or are based on my "likes." I am making the choice, not an algorithm. I don't think blogs ever really "died", but they certainly aren't as popular. I hope that this form of communication gets rediscovered; and it is, through newsletters, which seem to be increasingly popular. Isn't that just a blog post that gets delivered to your email?

I am trying to avoid making set plans for the next year, since it's impossible to plan a whole year in advance, and who knows what is going to happen? But I am contemplating deleting the Instagram and Facebook apps (which I mainly use to admin my local Buy Nothing group) at least for awhile. I want to blog at least once a month, and that has led me to ask WHY I do this. I can see my stats and I know that not a lot of people read this (it's ok!), but it really is the best way to connect words and pictures. I am planning on having my blog printed into an actual book because I don't trust Google not to start deleting blogs after a certain point. They have already released their intentions to do this with photos!

What are your plans for the new year? Thoughts on the attention economy? Merry Christmas!