Manifolds, Monolos & Manure
Earlier this year my younger cousin audaciously suggested that I forgo my beloved audiobooks.
For years audiobooks and my corgi were my companions as I trekked the 225 miles journey from northern Illinois to Springfield. Bella and I listened to our favorite authors Kay Hooper, John Sanford, Iris Johansen, Linda Castillo, and David Baldacci all while cruising down 39/51 and 55. I actually remember the first audiobook I listened to, Hunting Fear by Kay Hooper. My mom grabbed it out of the five-dollar bin at the bookstore.
In a moment of weakness, I mentioned that I was struggling to find a new author or new book to listen to during my drives. To which my younger cousin informed me that she gave up audiobooks in lieu of podcasts. Candidly, I never gave podcasts much thought until she informed me that they’re just basically audiobooks in miniature form. First off, she fibbed. Podcasts are not mini audiobooks. They are bite size nuggets of stories. And like a 10-piece chicken nugget meal, I always want more and extra sweet and sour sauce. But I kinda enjoy them.
Unsurprisingly to my farmer, my taste in podcasts is quite similar to my taste in audiobooks. Paranormal. A little weird. And definitely questionable. My first podcast was Unsolved Mysteries from the creators of the iconic television series with the same name. Since February I’ve explored Ball Cemetery, nvestigated a farmhouse fire in Tennessee, looked into the Salsa Queen murder, and ran from bizarre human-like creatures in Hockomock Swamp.
As my farmer has wired our new-to-us farmhouse, I’ve listened to Unsolved Mysteries, especially when I’m trying to bother him. If I’m only trying to only slightly bother him, I listen to In Session. In Session is hosted by the Illinois Senate Democrats and is moderated by state senators. Candidly, the idea for my February column came from the In Session podcast. Near the end of every episode the moderator asks what books the guests are reading. I added Next to the Last Stand by Craig Johnson to my ‘books in progress’ pile. So far, it’s not my favorite Longmire book, that title belongs to Hell is Empty.
Candidly, I’m weak in the area of national politics. I prefer state government, am more comfortable with the processes, and I spent more time studying it. In an attempt to stay abreast of national issues, I’m a regular listener of The Daily Punch from Punchbowl News. This daily podcast features a look inside Capitol Hill, the White House, and Washington, D.C. My blue-eyed girl waits patiently as I catch up on my missed episodes. She prefers when I listen to it alone rather than with her.
A little more local in nature, The CloutCast offers a Chicago centric policy and politics discussion. Daily Line reporters examine local politics and a host of topics ranging from budgets to redistricting to criminal justice. Guests include local politicians, lobbyists, and experts.
My podcast library is rounded out with Policycast with the VP from the Illinois Farm Bureau. Monthly, Joint Resolutions Committee Chairman Brian Duncan discusses Farm Bureau policy. As a grassroots organization, Farm Bureau’s strength is in its policy and policy is surfaced and developed by members. I’m not a policy wonk but I quite enjoy Farm Bureau’s policy process and the guidance policy provides when considering legislative issues.
Our new-to-us farmhouse is still sorely lacking in the area of a television. As a family we gather in the mudroom at our dining room table. If we’re feeling casual, we sit on the stairs. Or on an upside down five-gallon bucket. Both spots are prime pickins’ for the dogs to get in a few licks or steal a snack. What our new-to-us farmhouse has given us is a greater appreciation for podcasts. Library books. And couch cushions.