Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What We Didn't Learn

LUCY BURDETTE: Over the course of two family weddings in the past month, we realized that my brother-in-law never learned to tie a tie. Here's my hub helping him out and trying to coach at the same time. (Aren't they cute?? Is this the case of a picture showing a thousand words, or what?)

I was late learning to cook. My mother didn't enjoy cooking much and just wanted to get dinner on the table. So I didn't make my first home-cooked meal until after college--I'm pretty sure it was spaghetti sauce from the Joy of Cooking.

How about you Reds? Is there something you didn't learn until you became an adult? or maybe not yet... 

PS F Church is the winner of Michael Nethercott's book--please email me LucyBurdette at gmail dot com and I'll put you in touch with him


  1. So many things left to learn.
    I got the cooking and the sewing [mostly] down pat; I learned to knit and crochet and embroider.
    I wish I'd learned tatting; my grandmother wanted me to do that. Perhaps it's not too late to give it a try . . . .
    Of course, I'd like to play the piano [my grandmother was quite good at that, too], but I don't think there's much hope for that . . . .

  2. I knew one drilled pilot holes for screws, but I had been pounding the hell out of nails for years before I learned you could drill pilot holes for nails as well. (Well, maybe it was because my dad, when he first got out of the army, could drive a nail through solid wood with only about three blows. He never needed a pilot hole until he got old and got Parkinson's.

    I was also well into my twenties before I figured out that when you are using flat paint, it will never get glossy no matter how many coats you put on something.

    I think they should offer home ec and shop classes to middle school students of both sexes. We girls only got cooking and sewing, and that was in the days before This Old House, so we knew nothing about tools, paint, etc.

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  4. Yes I would adore to play the piano, but as a kid I did not have the patience. I probably wouldn't now, either! Is such an interesting question… Thinking about it!

  5. I was surprised to learn that I didn't know how to hang clothes in the closet, peel carrots, make tea, answer the phone, prune roses, genuflect, or pronounce drawer until I was married. I won't tell you who instructed me in these arts. Wouldn't be nice. You know. Speaking ill of the dead and all.

  6. I love this picture Lucy.

    My Mom didn't learn to drive until later is life, when she and my father divorced. One of those cases where necessity makes you do something that you might not have done otherwise. She still doesn't like to drive on highways (the merging and idea of getting lost really freak her out), but now in her 70's she's still going strong behind the wheel.

  7. Things I wanted to learn to do and never did? I don't really care much about them anymore! I've never learned to sew, and I've gotten through life quite well without that skill. I tried and tried and tried to learn to crochet, and finally gave up in despair. I'm not going to go back and try to learn now. I used to be able to do very simple knitting. I could probably do it again if I put my mind to it, but I don't NEED to knit, so I'm not going to bother with it. I DO wish I had learned to play piano. When I was in college, I took piano for one semester. I wanted to continue with it but by then I realized that my overall curriculum was not really what I wanted, so I transferred to another college. My alma mater did not offer piano.

    My mom's mother never really learned to cook. She preferred to read, garden, crochet, spend time interacting with people. Working in the kitchen took her away from all that. My mom was a good cook. My grandmother was really impressed with mom's cooking! (I guess she knew Mom didn't learn it from HER!)

  8. I didn't learn to cook until I was in my 20s either.... Now I love it! (OK, most of the time. Not necessarily every night...)

  9. what a great picture this is!

    Like you, I didn't learn how to cook while still at home. I remember some very lengthy long distance telephone calls home to have my mom walk me through the preparation of more than a few meals.

  10. Pilot holes? Who knew??

    Let's see. Ski. Ice skate. Knit. Bake bread. Embroider. Draw. Make a bed. Iron. Throw and catch. Swim the breast stroke. Fish. Pole vault. Tie a tie.

  11. Okay Hallie, you had better get started on that list LOL.

    The piano reminded me--I took lessons as a kid, but I don't think I had much native talent to cultivate. But I wish I could play the trumpet in a local band.

    Kristopher--bravo to your mom! I think most things are harder to pick up later in life--and merging is SCARY!

  12. I never learned to knit or sew well (beyond basic buttons and repairs - home ec class or not), but don't really need/want to do so, either (kind of like Deb Romano).

    I'd have to say the biggest thing was cooking. That didn't come until after I was married. My family was not into big deal dinners (frozen veggies microwaved within an inch of your life, anyone?). It wasn't until my husband and I got tired of boxed/canned meals and started using that Betty Crocker cookbook that I realized that fish was delicious (growing up, fish was frozen fish sticks) and vegetables could be both cooked AND crunchy (stir fry with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic - yum).

    Needless to say, we have tried to fix these issues with our own kids.

  13. me too on the fish sticks growing up Mary. We felt sorry for our Catholic friends who had to eat fish every Friday LOL

    But our veggies were from cans--no microwaves back in the dark ages...

  14. I learned to cook, drive, sew, embroider, crochet, knit, water ski, roller skate, play the piano, flute and oboe, paint, hang wall paper, give birth, and breastfeed.

    Now I use only the first two.

  15. I can do all the domestic stuff relatively well, but houseplants? I'd love to know how not to kill every green living thing that crosses the threshold of my home.

    And oh my god, parallel park. I wish someone had started that on me in the cradle, because my husband--who can just about parallel park a car into a space that is smaller than the car--has tried to teach me. That didn't work. To put it mildly.

  16. My father taught me all he knew about construction, which meant I could replace a window pane when I broke it.

    Who knew about pilot holes, screws instead of nails, levels, squares, etc. etc.

    Fortunately for my son, he learned all that stuff from someone else and now teaches me.

    ~ Jim

  17. I love this picture, cause it's my beloved husband, and my beloved brother-in-law. I think my Jeff didn't learn to tie a tie cause his Dad died when he was eight, and he lacked a male teacher.

    What I wish I had learned to do is back a boat on a trailer down a boat ram. Fortunately, I guess there is still time!

  18. We had cooking and sewing classes at school, so I guess I learned the basics.My dad was great at do-it-yourself and we had to help hang wallpaper etc, so I have always been way more handy than my husband.

    Learning to handle difficult people while keeping my cool--that has taken much longer!

  19. I never learned to type. Mostly my typing skills are at a par with my thinking/composing skills, so that's ok. I think it would be nice to knit.

  20. A few years ago, I saw a 60 Minutes type of interview with an 80-ish year old woman. I don't remember why she was being interviewed. The interviewer asked her if she had any regrets in her life. She responded that she always wanted to learn how to play the violin but thought that at age 60 she was too old. Then she said, just think, I could have been playing for 20 years now.

    Never too late to learn to do something you'd like to do. Finding the time .... :)

  21. I'm still cracking up at the idea of Hallie pole vaulting. Although my youngest daughter, who went to the Citadel, was the school's only female pole vaulter in her "knob" or freshman year. Largely so she wouldn't have to drill with the rest of her class--athletes get a lot of perks, including milk with their meals, oddly. Vaulting looked like a lot of fun, actually.

    I didn't learn to cook or drive until after I was married, although I did take Home Ec in high school. But I only paid attention to the sewing part.

    We didn't have the financial wherewithal for piano or horseback lessons. When my two youngest were taking piano I tried to learn along with them, but decades of typing confused my hands; trying to do two different things with them at the same time seemed beyond me.

    However, when a friend invited me to her Wyoming ranch several years ago to ride, I told her I'd never been on a horse, should I take "a" lesson? She said, yes, Karen, take lessons. Which started me on a path I'd wished to follow since I'd read Black Beauty as a kid. Who knew? Married to a wildlife photographer, the big joke was that I was scared of animals. But horses? Pure, unadulterated love. And riding them? Even better, even after breaking three ribs and my nose during a lesson a couple years ago. Love, love, love riding--it's pure joy. Think what I would have lost if I'd been too scared to try. Takes my breath away to contemplate that.

  22. I learned to play the harp and drive on snow.

  23. What a fun post! My grandmother tried to teach me to sew and to knit. Fail! (I can at least darn things and sew on buttons...) I cannot tie a tie. Still trying to master the cool scarf thing. I didn't learn to cook until I was in college because my mom and my grandmother were both good cooks and three made too many in the kitchen, but I've been a pretty good cook since.

    I speak a little Spanish (less than I used to...) but have always wanted to speak at least passable French and Italian. So last week I wandered into a shop in the Pittsburgh airport that had Rosetta Stone language programs on sale, and I decided I deserved a treat for all the book touring I've been doing. I asked for French. They were out. So I am now going to learn Italian. Just think--in ten years I might be fluent! And then I can tackle French!

  24. I learned how to drive "stick" in my late twenties. We'd bought a new VW Fox when we lived in El Paso. My husband taught me how to drive it, which was interesting by itself. Anyway, I was pregnant at the time. I'd be driving back from the doctor's office on I-10 and everytime I shifted gears I'd have a contraction from the stress of it. No, didn't go into labor early. Quite the opposite. Child was 2 weeks late and he has followed that lead ever since.

  25. After years of teaching six classes a day and grading piles of student writing, I am actually learning life as a human be-ing rather than a human do-ing. Time to read as much as I want is pure BLISS. Doing only as many errands at one time as I feel like, instead of dashing from one to the other at the end of a long day at school, having time to exercise and prepare healthy meals is all wonderful. I've learned to cook new vegetable offerings from my CSA, and now teach the tai chi class because our instructor retired.
    Learned to drive at age 25 or so, when Prudential offered me a sales position -- the managers helped with driving practice.
    As for tatting, our Readers and Stitchers group tried it, and despite much talent in knitting and crocheting, all but one of us gave it up as just too hard . . . so good luck if you try it.

  26. Although my mother was a wonderful cook, I was too busy with school and many extracurricular activities to take time and learn from her. So, when I married out of college at 22, I had to call her and have her walk me through step by step how to make mashed potatoes. When I say step by step, I was even clueless about boiling the potatoes. Luckily, my mother was a patient person. She would send me recipes of hers in the mail, and I still treasure those hand-written recipes from my mother who has been gone for 20 years.

    Ramona, I'm with you in the plant department. One of the things that I wish I had learned from my mother and taken an interest in long ago is gardening. I am beyond hopeless, and I just don't want to take up the time to produce a beautiful yard. I would much rather be reading a book than planting flowers. However, I still wish that I had some gardening skills and knew more about identifying plants and flowers.

    Those who have been talking here about learning to play the piano touched a chord with me. I did learn to play the piano, and my go-to memory piece was Lara's Theme from Dr. Zhivago. Well, I have had a piano in my house for all but two years of my 38-year marriage, but I have said goodbye to my piano and any future tinkling at it. I rarely played it at all anymore, so just last week I gave my beautiful piano to my daughter so that my granddaughters could learn to play on it.

    Oh, and learning to tie a tie. I've always been glad I didn't have that skill to master. I admire that guys can do that. Great picture, Lucy!

  27. Ellen Kozak, thanks for the tips. I had something like that in mind, actually, or maybe renting a villa in Tuscany with some writer friends for a few weeks. Write, cook, drink wine! Now, that would be incentive!

  28. Deborah, stay away from English if you're really trying to learn the language. Once you've immersed yourself and the words come easily, then you can go back to your native tongue.

    I have a friend who retired to Thailand 8 months out of the year. He lives in a small town near Chiang Mai for three days, then back to the city for one-- and while he is in the small town, he tries not to even read English. He's getting quite fluent in Thai. (None of us will learn a language to the fluency level unless we are forced to.)

  29. My 1st husband's mom taught me how to knit and crochet during my college years. She also taught me how to cook wonderful meals I normally didn't have as my mom was Japanese and had limited American cooking skills. I knew I was going to be a music major, so my music teachers were great in letting me learn a variety of instruments other than my main one before I left for college.

    On my first job, I had to learn quickly how to do kosher cooking classes. That was fun! I also learned all the holidays and the rituals/traditions with them. I found it fascinating.

    In the past few years, I've picked up quilting and Zumba, lots of fun!

  30. I wish I'd learned to play piano or guitar. My maternal grandma went to Italy to study opera in the late 20's and knew how to play piano. She taught my mom, who also enjoyed singing for pleasure only. When I was younger my mom offered to teach me piano, but I had no interest. I do love to sing and I sing in a ladies choir. I wish I had not been so stubborn and learned piano when my mom offered. I'd love to be able to accompany myself and sing. I still think I will take lessons somehow, someday!

    I also wish I had learned a second language. My husband is originally from Pakistan and I learned a lot of Urdu over the years, but I wish I was more fluent in that.

    I would like to learn to knit & crochet. The funny thing is, my mom's aunt was a home ec teacher and she offered to help her learn all the home skills, but my mom was not interested in learning in the 1950's. Plus my maternal grandma was not your typical 50's housewife. She worked outside the home and I don't think too many home skills were passed down. At least my sister & I can cook, though I prefer to follow a recipe. I don't really enjoy cooking.

  31. Diane Russom HarrisonOctober 15, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    It seems I've always had the ability to cook and can wing it in the kitchen with great success. My lasagna became legendary amongst our friends because every time we had friends to dinner and I served lasagna, at least one guest would become pregnant. Even our Pastor and his wife (who had three teenage children)succumbed to the lasagna "gift".
    Sewing, oh heck no. I am the only girl in the history of my high school who managed to sew a pair of shorts where the zipper went diagonally across the front of the "garment". My Hubs had to wait until his mother would visit to have buttons sewn on his shirts. (That was the only redeeming value of her visits.) Like Ramona I am a sociopathic serial plant killer.
    Things I wish I'd learned earlier in life: horseback riding (Karen), painting (artistic type), formal dance lessons (I love to dance).

  32. Debs, on my recommendation, some friends contacted the American woman Ellen mentioned, Judy Witts Francini, and they stayed in her villa for a week. They loved most parts of it (I'm not sure they knew what to expect), but others have stayed in villas in nearby areas, and it was fabulous.

    Judy is married to an Italian, and she knows all the ins and outs, plus teaches others how to "live Italian", which of course means to "eat Italian", the Tuscan way, as much as anything else.

    I really want to go back.

  33. Count me in for Italy too Debs! I love reading all your comments today. My first Mother-in-law never learned to drive or do anything financial. her mother lived with them and ran the show right up until she died.

    So I say, never too late to take lessons--on anything--except maybe childbirth for some of us LOL

    ps I did fall off my bike today and bruise and scrape myself up trying to jump a curb--so no roller derby or motocross for this kid...

  34. While there are many skills I’m grateful to have learned, playing a musical instrument, reading music, speaking another language fluently, snow skiing and waterskiing are among the ones I haven’t learned. Skiing of any kind is out of the picture due to my cranky knees and I’m not sure I have the motivation to do what it takes to learn to play an instrument well.

    I was extremely fortunate to learn to cook and bake from my mom and grandmother, who also taught me to knit, crochet and sew. My dad let me hang out in the garage with him and watch while he made simple repairs and built things, so I gained a working knowledge of basic tools. I got my learner’s permit at 15 and practiced driving in San Francisco rush hour traffic, so I’m a fearless driver (thanks, Mom!), then bought myself a motorcycle for my 19th birthday because having a car in the City was a bother.

    Because of the confidence my parents instilled in me I learned how to travel alone as an adult, going to Los Angeles, New York, Hawaii and Washington D.C. in my 20s and 30s. It might not seem like much to some of you world travelers, but it was for me, having grown up with an aunt who was drenched in fear and told me things like, “Never get in a cab alone because the driver will rape you.” Ugh. I still travel alone at times even though I’m married, as my husband doesn’t always want to go when or where I do, so it works well for me to have this skill.

    I love how we all have different skills, learned at different times and in different ways. We’ve all had different opportunities and made what we could of them, and that’s what matters after all.