My Makes · My Neighborhood · My Recs

Crafty and nature bits + media I love these days

Crafty projects are slow to finish, as my work is eating a lot of my fun time at the moment. Hot off the hook is a crocheted grandpa-like vest to wear around the neighborhood while it’s still a bit cool in the mornings. It was made with a 4.5mm hook, and about 220g of King Cole Subtle Drifter yarn, a DK cotton/wool/acrylic blend that should do well in the wash. I love this simple, oversized fit and the V-neck, which will let me wear a large shirt underneath. The vest is just two simple panels with ribbing that is sewn on. The embroidered pin is a favorite of mine that I found last year at a little shop in Insadong, Seoul.

I’ve snuck in a photo of today’s tea, a fragrant jasmine that I bought in Hanoi in January.

It’s been awhile since I’ve checked in with new media that I listen to while multi-tasking, working, or napping. I think the last time I wrote about media was around Christmastime of 2020, when we were in Covid lockdown mode.

I had been teaching and working from home almost all that first year of Covid, and I tried to fill the lulls with beautiful and educational media. Even after Covid, I’ve continued to curate the digital sights and sounds that emanate from my devices. Facebook is all but gone now (I’m still there for friends). I’ve taken a brief respite from Netflix, but I’ve adopted other gorgeous niche content that is meaningful and brings me joy.

Since it had been awhile since I refreshed my collection with new music and podcasts, I started a Spotify premium account at the beginning of March. I listen to podcast shows and music almost every day, and have even created a few music playlists, which are public. I curate the the lists often with my current favorite songs, and you can listen with the links below. I think free accounts can access public playlists.

Jazz – 20th c. Standards

Ambient Tech-House, Melodic Prog + assorted

K- and J-pop, R&B, Lo-Fi, Chill

Bedtime, Winding Down Ambient/Classical

I also subscribe to Audible, which may be overlapping somewhat with Spotify, as both services offer audiobooks and podcasts. For books, though, I like Audible a lot better. Titles tend to be less expensive. I started Audible just after Christmas last year, and I use it frequently. If a book has a good reader, the experience is amplified. If the reader is not skilled, though, my attention can drift. I recommend getting a sample of the audiobook’s performance and reading reviews before buying. Occasionally, I like a reader well enough to seek out titles that reader has narrated. It sometimes leads me to gold.

I still read often from my Kindle, too, but audio is a real treat when I want to be told a story. A few of the great audiobooks with equally great readers that I’ve listened to in the last 3-4 months: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Tom Hanks); Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Fraser Douglas); The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn (Saskia Maarleveld); The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki (Barrie Kreinik); Following Atticus and Will’s Red Coat, two beautiful memoirs narrated by author Tom Ryan; Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon (Barrie Kreinik; Peter Ganim).

Before I sign off, let me share a few bits of green from my neighborhood. Here in Korea, as Spring intensifies, and the birds, bees, and blooms are burgeoning, we also experience a phenomenon known as the Yellow Dust, or Hwang Sa (황사). The Yellow Dust is not a simple pollen problem – it is actually a meteorological event that sweeps over much of East Asia most intensely in Spring, and is dreaded especially by folks who are respiratory-challenged. The event is caused by strong winds that pass over the Gobi Desert in China. The winds carry fine dust particles and, more recently, an increasing amount of pollutants that are the by-products of industrialization and desertification. You can read a bit about the phenomenon here.

When I first came to Korea, I was a bit skeptical that the dust could be so bad, but over the years, I’ve realized that air quality in fact has gotten a bit worse. I’m one of the lucky ones who don’t suffer too badly from seasonal allergies, but this time of year wreaks havok on the lungs and voices of some of my cohorts.

Speaking of allergies, some of the main pollen culprits this month are the gorgeous acacia trees that line many of the streets in my neighborhood. The bees adore them, and they are at their flowering peak at the moment, but they do release a lot of pollen. Azaleas peaked about two weeks ago; now I’m waiting for the roses and poppies to herald the start of summer.

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