158: Mouth Noises and Pathetic Plants: Two Random Lessons from the Homestead
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Today I’ve got two random lessons that I’ve learned on the homestead lately that I thought maybe you could learn something from, too. One was brought on by a ridiculous task I’ve taken on in my office—one that was supposed to be easy. The other is something I learned while checking out my struggling garden.
Lesson one: Just because you know how to do something, doesn’t mean you know how to do something like it.
I’m a podcaster, so I know how to record audio. I have a set up that has served me well and has not changed for the entire life of the Farmish Kind of Life podcast that I started back in 2018. Same mic. Same software. Same recording space and set up.
So when people started asking why haven’t you made all your non-fiction books into audiobooks? I thought yeah, why haven’t I? And so I recently set to work recording my own non-fiction books into audiobooks. I thought no big deal, right?
It can’t be that hard, right?
The process has got to be the same as podcasting, right?
Y’all, the process is not the same.
Most of the issue stems from the fact that I do my own podcast and I’m in charge of my own podcast. So anything I want to let fly in my recording is fair game. If the dog snores or my kid walks into the office or a loud truck drives by on the gravel or the birds are having a particularly in depth conversation outside my window, I can leave all that noise in and call it “real life” or “ambiance”.
As it turns out, you absolutely cannot do that in an audiobook. See, I’m recording and sending all these files to someone else who has to approve them for an audiobook—so it’s a totally different ball game. There can’t be any extra noises—even noises you don’t usually think about—or they will reject the files.
Note: This also happens to mean that I’m recording in a room with no open windows and no fans (because there can’t be noise) and y’all… it’s not pretty. I’m sweaty mess and it’s not pretty AT ALL.
With audiobooks, you also have to talk s-l-o-w-e-r. Make sure there is appropriate spacing in your words and sentences. You have to make sure you’re not making a lot of mouth noise. You have to make sure you’re not taking huge breaths. You have to make sure the volume doesn’t fluctuate too much. You have to make sure your chair doesn’t make noise. Your clothes don’t make noise. Your hand touching the desk doesn’t make noise as you are wildly gesturing as you’re speaking. (I can’t sit still as I talk. If I did my podcasts as video on YouTube, y’all would be quite entertained.)
I realized that even though I know how to record podcasts, I didn’t really understand all the intricacies and differences in recording audiobooks—regardless of the fact that to most people, they seem like the same exact thing.
Note: I also realized that I wish there were outtakes of recordings of audiobooks because oh my word, I get so mad when I screw up a sentence, I drop some sailor type language, then I resituate and start the sentence over like nothing happened. It is hilarious.
So there are some lessons I have learned in this:
One lesson I had to learn is that sometimes you think you know how to do the thing. But you don’t know how to do the thing, even though it’s really similar to the thing you know how to do. And you have to learn how to do the thing. And what’s more important, you have to admit you need to learn how to do the thing.
The other lesson I learned is that even though recording audiobooks has been tedious, it’s also taught me things that will make me a better podcaster and make the process of recording a podcast easier for me. For instance—if we can get nerdy about audio recording tips for a minute—normally I would start a sentence with a closed mouth. When you open your mouth to start the sentence, you get a little click from your lips or your tongue. And normally in a podcast I would just edit that out if it was particularly loud. Through recording audiobooks, however, I learned to start a sentence with an open mouth. If you start a sentence with an open mouth, you don’t get that click.
So, as they say, the struggle (in learning something new) is worth it.
So that’s why it’s important to always be learning, and reminding ourselves that we should always be learning. Because sometimes we think “learning is when we tackle something completely out of our realm of knowledge that’s totally foreign to us” but oftentimes learning can mean “learning more about things we already think we know everything about”.
Lesson two: You’re probably stronger than you think. Look at your garden.
We’ve had very little rain here. Every storm that rolls over goes around our farm or fizzles out a couple miles before it gets here. I’m starting to think we have a forcefield over our property that is completely anti-rain.
During all of this, I have looked at my garden and the poor plants. I water when I remember, but I tend to forget (or not be around) in the time of day that it’s appropriate to do so.
And it is really amazing to me how those plants still survive.
My plants were attacked by cucumber beetles this year. The zucchini and delicata plants seem to have pulled through with all my sprayed dish soap concoctions and bug squishing, but the cuke plants look terrible.
Like, really pathetic. Stupid cucumber beetles…
So, imagine my surprise to walk out there and see a big fat cucumber attached to a plant that looked dead.
It’s crazy because we look at gardening blogs and gardening shows, and we see how plants are supposed to look. We see the end result. We see the finished product. We rarely see, this is how miserable and desperate and pathetic my plant looked and this is what I still got from it. We never see that. No one ever tells that story. We just see the beautiful cucumbers and tomatoes at the end.
Growing up, if a plant in the garden would look bad or we’d get a storm that would “wreck” our plants, my dad would sometimes say, “just leave it, see what happens”. And while it might not turn out to be the most gorgeous plant, we’d still get stuff from it by the end of the season.
It sometimes makes me think about how there are things in our life, people in our life, or situations in our life where we could apply a little “just leave it, see what happens”. Not in a “abandon that thing!” sort of way, but in a “let’s see what it can do if we’re not hovering over it”.
A garden is nature. There were things growing here before we were here to mess with it or push it along. Nature was here first. I sometimes think we think that nature needs us to survive. But sometimes we don’t need to putz with it so much. Sometimes we don’t need to hover over it so much. There are ways it can repair itself if we would back off a little bit. Sometimes we have a garden that looks like it’s getting no water or the wind knocked it all over and we think this is horrible, what are we going to do, everything is ruined! when at the same exact time the garden is saying hold on, give me some time, I can do this.
The other thing I’ve been thinking about is how amazing a little bit of rain can make such a huge difference in a plant. Ever seen a plant that finally gets a tiny bit of rain and they look like the heavens have given them the most magical bath ever? It reminds me of people who are walking around who are starving for support and starving for kindness. And it makes me think about how one little word can make a huge difference to that person who is lacking support.
Maybe we should be sprinkling a little kindness on people. Because, like rain to a plant, a little kindness can make a big difference.
So there you go, two random lessons from my brain. Take them for what they’re worth, fit them in to your life where you can.
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Books by me, Amy Dingmann: My books