Saturday, October 20, 2018

Things I Want To Learn by Jenn McKinlay


JENN McKINLAY: I am a restless soul. I'm not sure why, but I seem to always have something on my horizon that I become consumed with, something that I feel I must learn how to do, and it takes over my brain like any proper obsession does until I master it sufficiently enough to be satisfied. This doesn't mean I become the best at it or even very good, but I learn enough to quench the thirst.

Growing up, I was fascinated by chess but I never had the time to learn and was intimidated by what seemed very complicated rules. When the hooligans were in elementary school, there was a chess club. Naturally, I signed them up! Because then they could teach me! I'm not a fabulous chess player but I learned the rudiments and I've beaten them a time or two. 

This was not one of those times:


Hooligan wins the Wizard Chess!

Lately, I have circled back to wanting my pilot's license. I was eager to learn in my twenties. Side note: My dad got his glider pilot's license at the age of sixty and went on to fly for another ten plus years. While learning, he started me on lessons with a log book and everything. But then motherhood came along and it didn't seem prudent to be 10,000 ft in the air with no engine while the babies were below. But now the Hooligans are getting ready to launch and I am doubling back to the things I want to learn. I've conquered knitting, volleyball, pottery, yoga - again, not a master at anything but curiosity assuaged - and I have a friend trying to explain quantum physics to me (we're still working on it), but the pilot thing...yeah, it's becoming an obsession...again.



Jenn the pilot...maybe. 

What about you, Reds and Readers, what's on your horizon that you want to master? Or what did you set out to learn that you feel you've conquered or at least satisfied your curiosity? 

63 comments:

  1. Good luck with the flying, Jenn!

    One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was to learn to play the piano. Maybe I’ll get there yet . . .

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    1. Piano has been on my radar, too! So many ideas - never enough time!

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  2. I say, go get that pilot's license! I have this notion that one day I will learn Spanish. I took some online courses for a few months, thought I was making progress, and then I spent some time with a few native Spanish speakers. Well, it turns out native speakers talk A LOT faster than the video instructors. I understood maybe three words of the entire conversation. (Luckily they were talking to each other and not me, so they had no clue I was trying to decipher what they were saying. That would have been embarrassing.) I kind of got discouraged after that, but at times I think about getting back to it.

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    1. Oh, that was me with Spanish, too. You hit a plateau and you have to push through it. Or at least that’s what it felt like. Keep going!

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    2. I think the trick with learning a language is to get the basics down, as you have done, then just jump in at the deep end and immerse yourself in it. Take a trip to Costa Rica or Spain, and let people know you're trying to learn. You'll be amazed at how quickly that river of sound begins to coalesce into words.

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    3. A trip to Spain? I like how you think, Gigi!

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  3. I never learned to knit or hang wallpaper, and I've never waded through War and Peace. I'm determined to grow dahlias someday.

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  4. I'd like to master making basic biscuits, so that I can "just whip them up" in the morning! I'd like to study linguistics one day, take up live theatre performance, and learn Spanish...All in good time, once this pesky full-time-working-obligation can be set aside in a few years!

    Jenn: Go get that pilot licence. How exciting!

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    1. Day situations are such an inconvenience! LOL!

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    2. Find one reliable dead easy basic recipe and you can whip them up whenever you want. I have one basic scone recipe, 6 ingredients, I've been whipping up for over 40 years, with 2 variations (cheese or cinnamon rolls) and they never fail to satisfy. (would you like it?)

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    3. I would, preferably in the next 20 minutes please. Thanks in advance. I've tried to make scones a few times never successfully. The recipes out there are unlimited, but I want proper scones. I presume I could substitute sultanas for cheese?

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    4. Sorry about the 20 minutes, Ann.
      2 cups flour
      1/4 cup sugar
      pinch of salt
      3 tsp baking powder.
      Mix,
      add 1/2 cup margarine (or soft butter)
      Mix again
      add 1/2 cup milk
      (add raisins or little chunks of yellow cheddar if you like)
      mix into soft dough
      pat out onto floured counter, about 1 inch thick (or a bit more)
      cut into 2 inch rounds with cutter or whatever glass works
      put in lightly greased muffin tins
      375 F for 10-11 minutes.
      Eat right away
      I swear it's 20 minutes, start to finish, including baking time.

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    5. Thank you, Susan D! I shall try this.

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    6. James Beard's biscuit recipe is perfect, easy and fast. I've never had them fail and always garner lots of compliments.

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    7. Susan D: I made your recipe this morning, adding in dried cranberries, and it was pretty easy and pretty darn tasty. Thank you!

      Now I'm off to find he James Beard recipe for testing! Thanks, Beverly.

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  5. I don't seem to have any burning obsessions - not sure I ever did! But I don't have the adventurer gene and maybe that would help.

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    1. It must be nice not to feel restless - you are actually very lucky, I think!

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    2. Probably boring, but I am never bored! I seems to have a lot of mental excursions>

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  6. So many things! I'd love a pilot's license, and to learn to scuba as well. I'd like to re-learn sailing - I used to sail with my parents, but it's been SO many years I'd like a refresher course. And then there are those practical householder skills now I'm doing everything on my own - I'd like to learn basic repairs and carpentry.

    I did teach myself how to bleed off and restart the oil-fired furnace last winter by watching YouTube videos, and I felt as accomplished as I had when getting my masters degree.

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    1. God bless, YouTube! I used it to learn how to refinish my kitchen cabinets. Sailing would be lovely - I read a story about a woman who learned to sail on the Hudson on a whim. Just sayin’

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  7. Go for it, Jenn! No time like the present. Do it now, while you can still remember all the technical stuff.

    Just last night I found out that a longtime friend (now 72) once passed all the tests to becoming a pilot; she only missed getting licensed because of an iffy pregnancy (30 years ago). Another friend got her pilot's license at age 50, and then set out to fly into and out of all fifty states within a year's time. Which she did. She took me up on one of her flights once. It was fun to fly over my mom's house, stop and have lunch, then fly over our farm in Kentucky before heading back home. I got some dandy aerial photos of the farm, too.

    The latest big thing I learned was how to ride, at age 55. I'd never been on a horse, but my friend invited me to ride with her in Wyoming, so I arranged for some Western riding lessons. It was the single most fun thing ever, and then the same friend and I took English lessons together for three years. We got to the stage where the next thing would be jumping, and since we'd both had spills that ended in broken old lady ribs, we decided that was enough. But man, that was fun.

    I still want to write fiction, and maybe to swim more confidently.

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    1. Karen - I love horseback riding! That was one of my early teen obsessions! I have a friend who is 62 and she’s taking lessons now. Good for you and Wyoming sounds like a perfect place to learn!

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  8. It is 5:22 AM in AZ (still dark) and I’m on a school bus (Lord-a-mercy) headed to Tucson for Hooligan 1’s marching band competition. My check-ins might be spotty today - just an FYI! Go Sabercats! LOL!

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    1. Oh those marching band competitions! I love my nephews dearly, but am SO glad those days of freezing my behind off in the bleachers are over!!

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    2. Band kids are the best! (Followed closely by band parents.) What does the hooligan play? Would you get any street cred with the band director from knowing the Director of Concert Operations for the Dallas Winds? Feel free to name drop if it gets you better band candy.

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    3. The band is done! Now we wait for scores - do we go to state or not? Ack!!! LOL, Gigi - band candy and wrapping paper!!!

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    4. Loved marching band competitions. I chaperoned 6 years worth as all three of my daughters were band geeks. As was I,even in college. Such fun!

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  9. Oh Jenn, once again I am in awe of your spirit and daring-do. I don't even want to fly as a passenger in one of those little planes. Terrified. The question you pose is a really good one and it's got me thinking. I'd like to conquer my impatience. Is there such a thing as mindful contentment? Sign me up.

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    1. Impatience - oh, yes, a lifetime challenge for sure!

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  10. Jenn, get that pilot's license!! I think you are awesome!

    I am always obsessed with learning about what I'm writing about in a book, but the book in progress has real life carryover because some of the characters are chefs and I'm obsessed with food and cooking. I'm taking Masterclasses online from Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller, and have read more stuff than I will ever remember.

    I had the piano thing, too, but that didn't last long. I've been trying for years to learn to quilt, with Gigi's help, but so far have only managed to put together a few little pieces. I bought Rosetta Stone in Italian and have never opened it. Gah!

    At the moment, I'm obsessed with figuring out how to write books faster!

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    1. Yes! The books open doors to unexpected obsessions, for certain!

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  11. Jenn, I feel certain you'll get there--that restlessness you mentioned.... it's persistent, isn't it?! I'd like to learn to swim--I am terrified of the water and feel completely foreign when trying to move through it--unless my feet are on the bottom of the pool or I'm holding to the edge. Anytime I learn something new--no matter how small--the sense of accomplishment I feel is huge! This summer I mastered a zero-turn mower--woot! woot! The yardd gets mowed in half the time and I feel like a pro! Next up, a mystery short story--inspired by yesterday's blog.

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  12. You are amazing! I have had thoughts of returning to the cello that I stopped studying after eighth grade (ya can't decently play a cello in a mini-skirt, girls couldn't wear pants to school back then, and my high school wardrobe was more important to me than music). But frankly, I don't want to put in the time. Right now I'm working on learning Instagram instead. ;^)

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    1. I should add that the thought of me flying a plane is literally the stuff of nightmares! It's my most frequent bad dream, that I'm piloting a full 747 through skyscrapers, and in the dream I know very well I don't know what the eff I'm doing. Gah...

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    2. Ugh - Instagram. And once we master it, there will be something new! Argh!

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  13. I'd like to play in an orchestra, which is possible as there's a pick up orchestra here, comprised of retired people who haven't picked up an instrument since high school. I played the flute rather well back then, and I think I could do it again. And the rehearsals are within walking distance of our house. Note to self: Check out orchestra

    I'd also like to speak French. I've done a few online courses, one Pimsleur, and one night class. When I'm in France I can get myself around a menu and some shops, can understand much of what I read and little of what I hear. Note to self: Check our French classes locally.

    And I'd like to be a best selling author. Of course this first involves writing a book, which is bloody unlikely. And it would have to be a very very good book, which is doubly triply quadruply bloody unlikely.

    So I shall have to make do with interpreting Camille Saint-Saens for orchestra!

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    1. Definitely check out the orchestra. It will be good for your health.

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  14. I actually had flying lessons at age 16 because my dad was an aircraft mechanic and his shop was next door to a flight school. I solo’d but you can’t get a license until age 17 and by then Dad and the owners of the flight school had had a falling out. Now, ar 65, I’d kinda like to start again. Something to think about.

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  15. Go for the pilot's license, Jenn! My boss used to fly gliders and he's still always up on the weather, and flying technique, and all sorts of other interesting stuff.

    When I was a little girl, I remember really looking at the quilt that was on my bed and realizing that it was made from small pieces of fabric sewn together. I decided right then that I'd like to learn to do that some day, and I'm pretty good at it now, if I have the time. I can also knit and crochet, and I used to sew clothing for myself, but that has fallen by the wayside.

    I can play a harp and a mountain dulcimer. I can design and make a stained glass piece, but I prefer to buy that from actual artists. I'd love to learn pottery, and the horseback riding lessons sound like fun. Also dog training (SOMEbody has to tame these mutts!) and voice lessons. None of this is going to happen until I retire. It just isn't.

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    1. Yes! I always marvel at people afraid to quit working because they wouldn’t know what to do - really?

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  16. Hey Jenn- I have re-read this one sentence of your's several times this morning. "This doesn't mean I become the best at it or even very good, but I learn enough to quench the thirst." Wow! I have been judging myself as someone who has trouble following thru but your words gave me new perspective. I wanted to act so I started in my 50's. Once I got my SAG card, I thought
    What's next?" So I wrote a play and, although it took about a year to get it produced, once it was over I thought, "What's next?" Now in my late 60's, I write. Along the way I still have very limited Spanish, gave up on knitting, would love to lean pottery. Thank you again for the insight and enjoy the band music.

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    1. Absolutely!!! Sometimes you just need to try something to know you’re over it ;)

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  17. How exciting, Jenn. I would have liked to learn to fly when I was younger. I'd have liked to ski well, and own a kayak and walk the California Crest trail. Alas I have become sensible as I age. I am taking more watercolor classes as that is something I enjoy but find challenging. And of course I'm always game to hop on a plane and travel anywhere !

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    1. I always think of you when I travel! Because I know you’re a have passport will travel type of gal!

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    2. Rhys, I saw your post about your accident. Eek! I do hope you're recovering well from any injuries. And now you have to car shop again. I'm praying for you. Love coming your way from Wyoming!

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    3. Thank you, Beverly. I'm still healing gradually and my car will be delivered next week. Lots of visits to chiropractor and massage

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  18. In the months since retiring, I’ve been taking classes at the senior center in things I have wanted to study for a long time. So I’m taking Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Creative Writing. I’m not good at any of them but I enjoy the process of learning. I retired from a challenging job, and was concerned about continuing to exercise my brain in retirement. These classes are challenging in ways that my job never was, so my brain continues to get a good workout! Next week I plan to add Yoga.

    DebRo

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  19. Wow, Jenn! Pursuing your dreams or interests like you do is wonderful. I'm thinking what I might want to pursue. I'm interested in all sorts of things, but to actually try to learn something would be a great step. Something that came to mind because you mentioned your father is my father's dowsing abilities. He was in real estate and in land development, and he always kept a dowsing branch/stick/twig in his car so he could find water on land. I have a couple of non-fiction books on the subject, but I sure wish I'd talked to him about it when he was alive. Of course, it wasn't "cool" then. So, that's something I would like to try. I know how to play the piano, but I gave my piano to my daughter for my granddaughter to use in taking lessons. I would like to get another piano or keyboard and actually practice the piano a bit each day. Or, I'd like to learn to play the dulcimer. I wish I'd kept playing the bassoon after high school, but I don't see myself going back to it now. And, if I really could work up the courage, I would love to take tap lessons. My father didn't want me to take dancing when I was a kid, some religious objection, and I've always wanted to be able to tap dance.

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    1. Dowsing would be fascinating and tap dancing wonderful! Do it!

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  20. I should preface this by saying it's never going to happen because I just don't have the time to dedicate to learning or doing the two things I'd really like to do.

    The first is obviously figure out how to write the story that floats around in my head. Writing a mystery/thriller would be great. But life just doesn't want to cooperate. Unless I win that billion dollar lottery prize tonight. Of course, learning to be a better writer even for the reviews/articles I write would be good as well.

    The other thing is learn to play the guitar. Not some weeny acoustic folk music type of guitar. I'd want to learn how to shred on the six string! Not to join a band or anything, but just for my own personal satisfaction.

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    1. Jay - you should totally learn to shred - I love this so much!

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    2. Jenn, I'd put that in 2nd position to writing a book.

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  21. I'd like to be able to bake more things. My mother was the best baker so I didn't do anything but help until she got sick and died. Partly because I want to eat the goodies that I was used to but also because I want to be able to share with friends and contribute to church events. I'm pretty good now with molasses cookies but the chocolate chip never seem right.

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    1. I love molasses cookies! And I love that baking like your mom is your goal :)

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  22. Okay, the band won all the captions in their division!!! So proud! Also, hot, smelly, exhausted...and on the school bus home!!!

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    1. Hooray and congratulations! That's awesome!

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    2. Congratulations! Have a safe trip home and good luck to them at State!

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  23. Congratulations on your inspirational blog.
    For my recent birthday my husband surprised me with a thrilling airplane ride in a WWI WACO biplane.
    It was thrilling.
    I also like the challenge of conquering knitting patterns.





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  24. What a terrific subject--endless learning! This is for me. I'm sure it's why I've stuck to learning to write fiction. Now added, learning to train a puppy with inborn hound obsessions. : )

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