I have no memory of learning to read. My first memory of reading was sitting on the floor in front of my Dad while he read the Sunday newspaper. When he changed to another section, I read the back of that.

Anything with words were read by me. I went through my Dad’s book shelf, my sister’s text books. Her homework. I read just about every book in my classroom.

The topic was irrelevant. Whether a story, a recipe, a DIY manual. I am grateful that I never came across pornography or erotica.

When my parents had a boot room added to the home, I watched every move. The foundations, right through to the roofing. Used bricks were chosen so that it would blend with the rest. I know because I asked.

My parents renovated the house themselves, only paying for skills they did not have. The lights would go on and off at will, until my parents could afford to have the house rewired. I learned the best placed to put electric sockets.

I can paint a room perfectly because I watched my parents. I have painted many of the places I have lived in. I know how to hang wallpaper, though I have never desired to do so.

I watched my parents build a garage. I know about plumb lines, how to place each brick, how to knock a brick in half. I have never used this knowledge; the only walls I’ve built are for flower beds which I don’t want to look perfect.

I know how to maintain the exterior of a house. This I use infrequently as I live in a terraced cottage.

My mother could not teach me to knit as I am left handed. So taught myself and later my mother gave me a very rare compliment on how good my knitting is. My mother lacked any patience, it was her way or no way. My daughter learned to knit from me. She is also left handed, but I allowed her method to be whatever worked for her. She made some scarves, and quit. It is not cool to knit.

Education is not filling an empty mind but igniting a fire

My knowledge extends to greasing joints, changing spark plugs, choosing a good used car.

My great love is gardening. I guess I got this from my mother and my Dad. I don’t do straight lines like my mother, however. I like to see flowers jostling together, in unruly fashion.

My passion is also to teach. I loved teaching my daughter as she asked to learn. I also used incidences to teach her. Like when she heated nail varnish in a pan on the stove. I was alerted by her screams and then, running downstairs, the smoke alarm. I threw a wet dishcloth over it, not understanding her refusal to wet one (I wanted to change places with her so she would not get burnt). Then she told me she had added water and it got worse. We chatted about putting out fires.

Learning is not just academic. There are so many practical skills to learn. I admire practical skills so much. I admire carpentry in particular. My Opa was a cabinet maker and made beautiful furniture and objects of nature. The remaining ones are in my home as my mother destroyed so many.

Published in KnowThyself, Heal Thyself