jack of all trades

Every year, around my birthday, my parents always ask me what I want for my birthday. I always have the same answer for them. “I dunno.” Nowadays, after saying the same line that I say every year, I go online and I revise my wish list. It’s sits on my website year round, mainly because I’m too lazy to take the link of, but also because my birthday’s close enough to Christmas, that I might as well leave it up there after my birthday for Christmas and by the time that Christmas is over, I just plain forget about it, until the next year rolls around.

Back to my wish list. I’ve also started to keep an Amazon.com wish list. This one’s the largest. Everything that can’t be ordered off of Amazon.com goes onto my website. Otherwise, I have a link to my Amazon wish list off of my site’s wish list. So, I was wandering around on Amazon the other day, adding various things to my wish list, when I really started to take note at the variety of things that I have listed. I tend to ask for things that surround one of my many hobbies. I have a couple books sprinkled in the list that revolve around work, but I love what I do at work, so it follows that those books are on my list. I never really realized how many hobbies that I have. I know that I never seem to have enough time for everything that I enjoy doing, but I always chalked that up to either bad time management, school, or I had something really big that I was planning (like my wedding).

Now, I realize that it’s not just because of this, but also because I just plain have lots of freakin’ hobbies. I wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered any of them. I mean, I’m always learning and I’m always getting better at them, but I wouldn’t say that I stand out and shine at any one of them. I’m what people call a “Jack of all trades, Master of none.” I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It describes me as a person perfectly. I love to dabble and have my hands involved in so much. So, I’m sure you’re wondering what some of these hobbies are that I love to do so much. I don’t even really talk about some of them much. They’re just things that I enjoy for the simple love of doing them. For once, though, I’m going to give a quick run down of some of my favorite hobbies. I’m sure within the next few months, this list will expand, but hey, like I said, that’s me.

Baking
I love to bake. I have a hard time having a memory of a time before I liked to bake. I remember growing up so excited that Thanksgiving was here, because that meant my mom would let me bake the pecan pie. First, I could just make the filling, but then I learned how to make a really good, flakey crust. The next thing I knew, that was my duty on Thanksgiving morning. Biscuits, too. I learned those from mom, as well. Most of my simplest but diehard recipes come from my mom. I’ve changed things and added to them over the past few years, as I’ve become more confident about my baking skills. For example, adding crystallized ginger to apple pie and taking a little bit of the sugar out, makes the pie out of this world. There’s something about baking that relaxes me. I get in this groove and I just forget about what’s going on around me. The ingredients and the process are all that matter to me.

Cooking
I categorize this separately from baking, because I truly believe that they are completely different. Some of the best cooks can’t bake to save their lives and vice versa. I like to cook. I enjoy cooking greatly. I don’t enjoy it as much as baking, but I guess you could say that I have a great respect and appreciation for cooking. I think my favorite part about cooking is taking several different dishes and putting them together into a fine meal that blends together well. There’s a pleasing satisfaction when you know you’ve managed to make 3 separate flavors meld together into a delicious meal. Living with Sean has also taught me a great respect for cooking. He’s an excellent cook. I think it comes from him working in a restaurant. You can tell in the way that he cooks that he’s got actual experience. I think in some ways I enjoy watching him cook more than I like to cook myself. He gets into the same groove cooking as I do baking.

Sewing
Sewing is another Zen hobby. I get into this groove sewing that I forget about what time it is. All that matters is completing my project. I just finished my Halloween costume. It was the first dress that I’d sewn with my new sewing machine. I was so proud of it yesterday. There’s a certain amount of satisfaction finishing putting something together that you know you put together from cutting out the cloth to sewing a bit of trim onto. I even take some bit of pleasure in hand sewing. It’s a pleasant task for me, if a good bit more time consuming than using my machine. I don’t mind hemming a dress, though, by hand. It’s relaxing. It gives me a chance to keep my hands occupied while my mind wanders elsewhere.

Quilting
A slightly newer hobby than others. In fact, it’s only been barely a year since I started to quilt. I can distinctly remember talking to Carol at the SGA Christmas Party last year and having her convince me to come to a UFO (UnFinished Objects) Class so that she could help me out with a simple project. That project is pieced together, hanging on my computer room wall, unfinished. I need to go get some batting for it and fabric for the back. Then, it’ll just be a matter of quilting it. Two other quilts, though, came up in the middle of finishing that project. First, a quilt for Elizabeth, and then a quilt for Cheryl’s new baby. I’ll eventually get back to it and finish it. It’ll be a nice throw for the living room or for the bedroom. Either one. I’ve also have mom and dad’s quilt to start work on. I have the fabric. I figured out the pattern this weekend. Now, I just need to start cutting.
I like this hobby because it’s so mathematical. Everything fits together, but in a certain pattern. And, you have to be so precise with it. I love the satisfaction of cutting out pieces and pinning them together. Going from a small 1 ½” triangle of cloth to a square of pieces sewn together, to a quilt of those squares pieced together to form a larger pattern. It’s artistic and mathematic all rolled into one. What better hobby for a geek to have?

Spinning
I love spinning. It’s a hobby I picked up while working up at Burritt Museum. The curator, Emma, showed me how to spin with a drop spindle, so that I could show a group of school kids. Next, it was a castle wheel, in the Balch House. Next thing I knew, that was just about all I did when I was up there. Then, last year, Sean got me my own wheel to spin at home. What joy! No more did I have to spin at home with a drop spindle. Now, I got the soothing satisfaction of peddling my own castle wheel. The spindle slowly spinning around and around as I gently pulled wool through my fingers, letting it be wrapped onto the spool in a simple twist. I can just sit there for hours and let my whole self relax into the rhythm of spinning. How therapeutic it is. I haven’t spun for a few months now. No time to pull my wheel out with the wedding and the aftermath of getting my life back into order. I think it’s time to pull the wheel back out and just relax back into the pattern of spinning soft wool.

Photography
This has been a bit of a life-long hobby. I’ve always had some sort of 35mm camera in my hands. When I was little it was the cheaper kind and sometimes my mom’s camera, when I could wrestle it from her hands. Then, I got my own 35mm SLR. It’s a beautiful Minolta. I love that camera. It’s been all over Europe with me, to Sweden 3 times and now to Ireland. As much of a geek as I am and as much as I love Sean’s and my digital camera, there’s always a special place in my heart for my SLR. I like to take pictures. I’ve never had a great memory, so pictures help me remember. Beyond that, I love the ability to show people places and things that they’ve never seen or experienced before. I like how just one of my pictures could tell you so much more than even my best writing. It’s a thrilling feeling every time I’m framing a shot, trying to capture so much in that small frame.

Traveling
I have the travel bug so bad that there’s no cure. I grew up with a family that believed in traveling distances for vacations. We went skiing for spring break in Colorado. Summer vacations included driving out west, driving up to Canada and back, driving to the Chesapeake Bay and then sailing for 2 weeks, etc. Every summer and Thanksgiving also included trips to New Orleans. There were always the other various trips to places nearby, like Atlanta, Nashville and Birmingham. There was also the Christmas we spent up in New Jersey with my dad’s family. My sophomore year of high school, my parents took me to England and Wales with them. That was my first time off this continent. I still love my passport picture. My mom hadn’t told me that I was going until we got to AAA to get the picture and when she told me to sit down so that they could take my picture, I got the biggest grin on my face. I was ecstatic! That trip gave me a different strain of the travel bug called the International Touring bug. Oh man, I was screwed after that. If I have the chance, I’ll take it to go see somewhere new.
I think that’s partly why I married Sean. He has the travel bug just like me, so now I’ve got a travel partner. I don’t have to travel on my own. Next major trip: Either to Lake Tahoe to go skiing or out to Hawaii to visit relatives that I apparently have now. Oh yeah, getting to see the Kona coffee farms is kinda cool, too.
This hobby also blends well with my love of cooking and baking. When I travel, I’m more than willing to splurge on eating well. I love to try native cuisine of where I am. If I know of a good restaurant where I’m visiting, it’s on my list of places to go to. I never turn down the opportunity to open my palate up to new experiences and tastes.

Reading
I’ve always been a bookworm. By kindergarten, I was reading years ahead of my grade level. I didn’t read books as a child; I ate them whole. My reading has slowed down a good bit as I’ve gotten older. Part of that is due to school taking up so much of my time. It’s also partly due to all of the other hobbies that I have. Reading used to be one of my few hobbies. Now, it’s merely one of many that I must divide my time up between. But, give me a new author or subject and I’ll gladly add it to my list of books to read. Talk about a list that never seems to shrink. I finish one book for every 4 or 5 I add to the list.

Biking
Biking was one of the feasible ways of being transported around my neighborhood growing up. Skates and scooters didn’t work mainly because there are too many hills. You need something that you can get some really good speed up on and that multiplies the power that you put into it. As I got older, I began to appreciate biking as more than a mere form of transportation. It’s exhilarating feeling the wind in your face as you hurtle down a hill. That, and biking means that you go slow enough that you can enjoy the scenery a little bit. Sean has also introduced me to the finer points of mountain biking, which I’m beginning to appreciate. Now I just need to get a bike that has shocks on it.

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4 thoughts on “jack of all trades

  1. My birthday present to you will be the same one I always give you … a firm, swift kick to the ass for no apparent reason. ;)

  2. Aren’t you just Suzi-Homemaker-Engineer. :) Does all this mean you are qualified to blow crap up with only the stuff you have around your house to bake and spin with?

  3. Yeah, I can just wire anything together with a piece of spun wool and common home appliances. ;)

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