Tag Archives: learning

Do Re Mi

A young actor studies for an audition.

A former prima ballerina teaches her students.

One fine chef layers flavors expertly.

What do they all have in common? The actor is reading for Romeo and Juliet, a classic. The ballerina makes certain her student’s arabesque is perfect. And the chef uses the fonds du cuisine to make a masterpiece on the plate.

Sister Maria had something to say to all:

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

When you read you begin with A-B-C, when you sing you begin with do-re-mi.

One starts with the basics and moves on to be able to use that knowledge and, if good enough, be able to take your own riff on it. But nothing can happen without learning the rules first, all of them. My friend the young actor is studying Shakespeare. My friend the ballerina is shocked that her students don’t want to learn any basics, just do their own thing. And my “inner chef” is now fully trained and I know in my heart and mind that I prefer the purity and soul of Italian cooking to fancy French fare any day.

Now let’s talk about a smart little girl living in a small village in the middle of no-where USA whose high point of the week (sorry, Father, it wasn’t Sunday Mass) was being dropped off at the tiny village library with her sister while Mom went grocery shopping. So, the first Black person I ever met was Harriet Tubman, the first Jew Anne Frank, and Native American, the ballerina Maria Tallchief. I read Death Be Not Proud and To Kill a Mockingbird when I was eight years old. No, they were not assigned in school, as my classmates were still reading basic stuff. My friend Steven and I were asked to sit at the back of the room to study on our own. All the others were learning phonics and we already knew how to read so our parents forbade it.

My father was first-generation American, first to ever go to college and my mother started college the year I did. Dad worked at his alma mater so I was introduced to opera, symphony and plays and had the luxury of private violin, piano and ballet lessons. Plus, my aunts were English teachers so had a lot of reading selections for us to fill those cold winter nights.

By learning, at home and school, the basics of history, literature, fine and culinary arts I was given a gift, one that allowed my mind to grow and me to learn what is important in life. Telling the truth, social justice, loving thy neighbor, equality, being kind to others, no matter who they were.

Today, the powers that be are running out of “others” to hate. Let’s see, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, “elites,” gays, drag queens, transsexuals, and now all women. Did I forget anyone? Banning the teaching of history in history class does nothing to create a well-rounded U.S. citizen. Banning books does no-one any favors. And touting “freedom” when it’s only the freedom of Americans to do what a minute fraction of white nationalists want to let us do, is not freedom at all.

Winston Churchill once said “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” We should not go down that rabbit hole as a nation, as it does a disservice to all our futures. I know in my heart that children want desperately to learn, and I’m all for letting them read anything they’re ready for. I don’t expect a six year-old to digest Hamlet, but I know how important parents and teachers are to early child development. With knowledge comes, eventually, wisdom. I know that because I have something to say and for the last half of my life I’ve learned how to say it. Out loud. I was once afraid to write, no longer.

Our children are the future of our nation. If they don’t know their, our shared history they cannot responsibly carry on what the Founders intended for an informed, engaged citizenry. And while we’re at it, let’s fix the Supreme Court as well. What would RBG say if she were still with us? Vote! Dee


Vision and Wisdom

I think they go together. I’ve a vision of life, but my physical vision is going as I age. My husband told me a story of his childhood. His parents always loved him and took care of his health. His teacher asked them to take him to the eye doctor. He was fitted for serious glasses at an early age so that he could later correct a math teacher and ask questions she could not answer.

When he walked out on the street with his new glasses he could actually see cars and the business names across the street. He thought being half-blind was normal, as kids do. I thought all grandpas had one leg. It was normal. He doesn’t tell that story, except to me and immediate family. I cry when I hear it because he couldn’t see the blackboard but still knew more than anyone else. He had to try harder, and milk cows in the morning and after school on the dairy. He can see, has vision and another vision and purpose as to life.

If one is reading every interviewer answer as a potential consultant from books that give vision and wisdom 101, they may be hired because Daddy said so. We never worked that way.

My husband and I know the answers to our respective professions. Why? One cannot teach wisdom from a book, it comes from age and experience. As is vision. Mission, vision you have to be able to sit there in a client interview and answer questions from expertise and maturity. And wisdom. For that there is no shortcut. Dee

Learning, Mastering, Mentoring

When I was six I learned to turn on the oven and make one of those canned cinnamon roll thingies that you bang on the counter. I was not allowed to put it in to or take it out of the oven. At age eight I had the Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook and made theme parties for our little brother: Kings and Queens; and a Pirate Treasure Hunt. With theme cakes and costumes and…. treasure!

Yes, I learned how to use a knife, a dull one, make grilled cheese, pancakes, toast and carrot curls.

In high school I started reading Gourmet. After college I went into the rat race then quit after nearly ten years. I spent my life savings on cooking school and it has served me well for 30 years. Shop the outside of the aisles. Inside only for needed rice and dry pasta. And tinned San Marzano tomatoes if in northern climates. I made my way through James Beard, Julia Child, Simca Beck, and the best authors of local/global cuisine including Piero in Italy.

I love teaching kids how to taste new things by making 10 toppings for pizza dough I made beforehand, give them the dough to roll out and top and place in the oven. Then I have them make their own dough to rise in their refrigerator overnight. Mentoring. Learning.

Time in the field, it was done. Fingers in hot sugar syrup. 700 degree loaves of bread to rack with bare hands. I did it all and learned so much throughout the process, that continues even though I am retired from my consulting career (non-food) and make food for my husband, dog and family and friends.

I have never lost the touch in any of my careers. Research, legislation, getting a crosswalk installed, then get re-painted two years later. Food is a never-ending passion, to learn something from the produce manager or butcher is a gift, every day. I’m the only client who brings in Pedernales chili or beef carbonnade for tasting.

People may get a bit rusty in their skills but if they’ve got the heart and guts, know what they’re dealing with they can brush up in a heartbeat. Trouble is, those who don’t know, pretend to know. They can’t learn what I learned over forty years in a weekend. Are my knife skills a little slow because of arthritis, or perhaps I had another profession for 12 years? Yes. Do I know more than any young cook about cooking and other endeavors? Yes.

My husband is the son of a dairyman and a nurse. He milked cows. No, I never did (fed one twin on formula in a 5 gallon bucket because cows shun a twin). When people interview my husband and find out his background and that his parents wanted him to go to college and graduate with a premier scientific degree and leave the farm, they want to hire him right away.

We are honest, forthright, and do not toot our own horns. What you see is what you get. I tried to get our old dog a “job” visiting hospice and was told no. Why? It’s not her sunny personality that has made her our neighborhood mascot. It’s that she eats frozen raw food and they think she’ll transmit disease. She’s nearly 12 years old, 80 in “people years.” I’m not going to change her food now, as it’s the only thing she’s been willing to eat since she was six months old.

We’re a family of mentors and there’s a crop of new pups. Perhaps she should mentor them in doggie etiquette. And how to steal a steak off a cutting board. Yes, every time I sent her to doggie camp she came back with a new bad habit, especially when they placed her as a pup with the older, docile ones. Cheers! Dee


The dog and I had people here today and needed to get out of the way for longer than we thought so went to the den and closed the door. I opened an old art book and out fell four of five pages from a long-lost study I did of Renaissance art.

Fr. Murphy brought out my love of art over the ages through college Art History and my family nurtured it with many vacations to Florence, my favorite city.

My study was about the Annunciation, the moment the Virgin Mary learned that she would be the mother of the Son of God. I know, it doesn’t sound like me. But this was before the internet and I visited all I could and researched others and have not seen this in many years.

What strikes me is that for a 16 year-old girl afraid of writing a 20 page thesis to graduate from high school, I just researched this and made notes on my own, for fun. Why do I blog? In high school or college it would take me hours to write 500 words. Now I can do it in under 20 minutes. It’s a challenge and it’s fun. And as an added benefit, the people I meet are interesting and amazing.

Thank you, dear reader, for making my day today. Also looking at me are a photo of my first cat Nathan who I had for 13 years, me at one year old in a pink snowsuit being inquisitive and fearless, and an ornament of my first dog with angel wings and a halo. Am I a glass half full kinda gal? You betcha. Stay with us. Cheers! Dee