If I look back on my school days… which I do with some regularity in my 60’s… and I note two key things:
If I was good at something, I wanted to do it all the time.
If I was not good at something, I found ways to avoid doing it at all costs.
Those two things sum up my educational life… very succinctly.
I think you can imagine how those two key things have influenced my life… or rather, how I have used those two things to influence my life!
I was late to reading… believe it or not! When I was a child they taught reading phonetically and that just did not make sense to me at all. I learned to read linguistically. But once I caught on, there was no stopping me… I always had a book with me.
Math was a similar struggle… throughout my entire school life. Not once was math ever taught in a manner that made any sense to me. I had the misfortune to being in the “guinea pig” group for a concept school for 3 years in middle school. The thought behind this concept was that if children are allowed to choose what to do, they will always choose to learn. Ha! Enter wee Kat… who finished all the reading “requirements” for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade in 6th grade. That same person did not do one lick of math in 3 years. True fact. Suffice it to say, I was not the only one and they had to implement “remedial math” classes for a large group of us when we moved on to high school.
I was, however, fascinated with science in middle school. I had an amazing science teacher… Mr. Meppelink. Mr. Meppelink made science a wonder! And science remained fascinating until I reached a big stumbling block… the one where science and math merged… that was when I “fell out” a bit with science. There was no chance I was ever going to be a scientist with my poor math skills. I wish I had some nice while-I-was-in-school-aha-moment where it all clicked but there was never one while I was in school.
But, the science story did not end when I finished school!
Some many years later…I realized that science is part of my daily life when I discovered the “how’s” of baking! The science of flour, water, yeast, and salt to make something that is edible! Bread! And if you really want to get further into the science of baking… sour dough! (Which, to date, I have never been successful at achieving! But I have tried!)
So though I was never a good science student, I managed to bake my way into being a fairly good scientist in the kitchen! Even with all the Sour Dough failures I have had! And those math skills? Well, I am happy to tell you all that I am a very happy percentage baker.
While I was not the best student… I am happy that science found a way to move it self from thing two to thing one!
Thanks to Kym for making sure these memories keep percolating to the forefront of my brain!
The prompt this month is to talk about the best Christmas gift we ever got.
First, how about a bit of Christmas Gifting Music? And nobody recites a Christmas List better than Eartha Kitt!
Now, I could spend some time talking about the puppy my sister and I got one year. Mitzi, the Miniature Schnauzer. I remember getting up in the middle of the night and discovering her under the tree. I also remember her not going back to sleep and getting in loads of trouble for getting up in the middle of the night!
Miss Mitzi… The Christmas Pup all grown up! You’ll notice she is ever alert…listening… ready to let loose with all the barky-ness she could muster! And boy could she muster the barky-ness!
Perhaps I could talk about the sledding saucer I got as a child… gosh, I loved it and it got lots of use, until I was ‘too old for saucer sledding.’ Although, after sitting lonely for years in the garage a desire to go saucer-ing returned in 1978 thanks to the blizzard of the century (or at least in my limited memory! lol) Anyway, while the saucer did not work well, it indeed did see some trips down the dune…more than enough for me to enjoy the volumes of snow we got that year!
Me, on my way to the ‘sledding dune’ through the deep, deep snow… happy that saucer was still around!
But instead I am going to fast forward a couple of decades to Christmas 1994. It has been a very rough autumn into winter…we had been having a Step-Throat-A-Rama in my house. As in, Rachel, Heidi, and Sam all had constant strep throat… or should I say Constant Stages of Strep… one getting better kid, one super sick kid, and one coming down with strep kid. It was riotous fun…not. And all this strep exposure made me super sick… multiple times super sick and by December that year I had pleurisy. (Which was not the best Christmas Gift ever!)
Now why would I remember all of this, you must be asking yourself. I mean weren’t a new puppy or a sledding saucer much better memories?
Not really, because you see that year…
“Santa put a mixer under the tree… for me!!“
Yes, it was the year that I got my KitchenAid mixer (this is the closest I could find to what mine looks like!) I remember being entirely awestruck at such a wondrous gift! (and if it had not been the greyest, rainiest, darkest week ever in Pittsburgh, I would have a photo to share of my Much Loved Mixer!)
That mixer has helped bake an endless number of cookies. It has mixed countless batches of bread dough. It has whipped egg whites, whipping cream, and even made more than her fair share of homemade marshmallows!
She is the mixer that keeps on mixing… yes, still going strong 28 years later! I have an inkling that she just might outlast me! And so, I look forward to continuing to use her for years to come! And that, gentle readers, makes that mixer one of the best gifts I have ever received!
A huge thanks to Kym for inspiring all our memories! But inquiring minds want to know… what was your best Christmas Gift?
I have been thinking about this exhibit for some time now (since last month, actually!!) and it has been one of the most enjoyable exhibits to put together!
Come in and consider the Unsung Hero… or Sheroes as is the case for me. As you all know, I frequently sing the praises of my sweet Nana, and my grandpa’s (maternal and paternal)! But do I have an Unsung Hero lurking about in my past?
Indeed I do! And not just one, but a dozen! And today I would like to share a bit about these amazing women.
First, we have to go way back in time to the late 80’s… I was living with my soon-to-be-husband, who traveled most of the month for work… so I had volumes of alone time. And back then, I was a very regular church attender and I remember vividly the Sunday that the ladies quilting group completed an altar cloth for very special occasions. It was stunning… the work was just incredible. And I remember talking with these amazing artists (all of whom I had known for most of my life) and asking eleventy-billion-questions! And the women said these magical words… why don’t you join us? And so I did! They generally met once a week for several hours – cutting fabrics, sewing, making the “quilt sandwiches”, tying the sandwiches, and then binding the quilts. Oh… and there was always a potluck for lunch (which might have been the best part of the entire day!)
Not only did this group occasionally make gorgeous altar cloths, each year they sewed dozens of quilts for Lutheran World Relief.
And so I joined… a non-quilter, but one eager to learn. I never became as proficient as some of the ladies in that group, but I could cut squares and sew a straight line with the best of them!
But the Very Best Thing Ever, and my favorite part, was was the making of The Tulip Time Quilt Show Quilt! This quilt would be entered in the Tulip Time Quilt Show in Holland, Michigan. It was a Big Deal and they were all hand quilted. There are not enough superlative words to describe how wonderful it was to be sitting around the quilting frame with the dearest of friends as we stitched, talked, and in general… just loved the heck out of each other! We shared joys, sorrows, struggles, heartaches, frustrations, fears… and even the dreaded meal planning wall that we all have hit!! You know the one… where you don’t feel at all creative and are sick of everything you have recently been cooking. Pre-internet days, there was not a vast well of ideas… unless you were sitting around the quilting frame, that is! Some of my best meal ideas came from that group.
The things I learned from those ladies extended far beyond sewing quilts. They knew the importance of supporting each other… in all things. I am a better friend because of them… and my life is certainly richer for all the things they shared with me.
A true friend encourages us, comforts us, supports us like a big easy chair, offering us a safe refuge from the world. — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Those ladies were all that… and so much more.
Thank you so much for visiting today! I hope you can send some time this weekend thinking about the unsung heroes in your life!
I am convinced that most people do not grow up… We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias. — Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter
This, my friends, was a very challenging post to write. I struggled. Mightily. And so you will note that comments are closed for this exhibit. Sometimes words are not necessary, but rather to just stand in the stillness of the memories and be tender with the child inside.
I do not remember ever having a dream wanting to be anything growing up… I really just wanted to live in a safe place. A place with no violence. No uncertainty. No feelings of pending doom.
I wanted to survive.
I do not recall any “what do you want to be” conversations happening in my youth. And in looking back, I realize that those conversations/dreams/ideals are for the privileged.
Sometimes survival is the dream and I did survive…in the very best way.
Thank you so much for visiting the museum this month. I want to thank Kym for providing thought-provoking topics for us to unpack.
I will see you all back here on Wednesday with a bit of Unraveling!
This month the curators were encouraged to update the thoughts about school exhibit… not necessarily a back to school exhibit, for which my curator heaved a sigh of relief. No need to stress over my lack of “back to school wardrobe, notebooks, binders, pencils, etc.” Whew! It is not my desire to have you all feel sorry for me…at age 61 I promise you that my lack of those things then have had no lasting impact on my well-being now.
Likewise, this will not be a picture heavy post but rather a bit of a commentary on my thoughts about school… of which I have a few… thoughts that is!
I had a “love hate” relationship with school. I have already shared that I was the child who was picked last for everything. I had some amazing teachers – who are still impacting my life today! As well as some less than amazing ones, who thankfully, I barely remember them today.
However, today I am going to talk about two teachers that altered my life dramatically…
When I went to high school (back in pre-historic times, lol) every sophomore had to take “Speech Class” – it was required for graduation. And, somehow, the education gods smiled on me because my teacher was magnificent! Mr. Berghorst opened my eyes to a world beyond Holland, Michigan. He challenged me to over come my fears of public speaking – for which I am profoundly grateful. He also inspired us to read… everything. His class room had a border of dozens of The New Yorker covers encircling it. He had a copy of The NY Times in his classroom for students to read. He knew that reading could take us anywhere and everywhere – and he encouraged us to read to learn, not just to read for “fun”!
The other “set” of teachers that changed my life were the cluster of history teachers I had in high school. They unlocked for me my deep and abiding thirst to learn about the past…every bit of the past, but the one who most significantly altered my life was my “Michigan History” teacher, Mr. Schaap. Michigan History was a required class for graduation as well, and I took it my junior year. Through Mr. Schaap, I learned a bit of the ugly history of Holland Michigan. (What today, I am certain would be erroneously classified as CRT and removed from the curriculum!) But Mr. Schaap also helped me start the Young Democrats. There was a group of us (laughably, The Young Democrats were a larger group than The Young Republicans) and we worked with the Ottawa County Democrats and even helped get the first Democrat elected to a county seat! Through Mr. Schaap, I made some delightful connections within my community that I did not know existed. (Apparently, there were lots of ‘hidden Democrats’ in Holland! HA) I also learned that the best history is the history that is painful to learn… because that process is the one that begins change.
I think often of these two men and the impact they had on my life. I also think that sometimes taking a class you think you will absolutely not like, or don’t see the value of what you might learn in that class… is exactly what you need to do. Go in, open your mind, listen, challenge yourself to do what you think you cannot, learn something painful, and grow! Those things are the keys to success in life…
Thank you for stopping and listening to me share a bit about my thoughts on school. I would like to thank Kym for leading us (and for the new artwork!)
Have a great weekend and I will see you all back here on Monday!