1. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,581
    Likes Received:
    5,066

    Cool things for an older person to teach a teen...

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by BayView, Aug 21, 2016.

    I have a situation set up where one of my characters (18-year-old-girl) wants to learn things from an older (80-plus, but still hale and hearty) woman.

    I'd like her to learn things that aren't totally old-lady-cliches. Like, not a chocolate chip cookie recipe.

    But also things that aren't totally extreme and unbelievable. Like, not how to sky dive or build a nuclear bomb.

    Can you guys suggest any skills that could be transmitted in a reasonably short period of time (4 weeks, roughly, and it would be great if multiple skills were imparted) that would fit this scenario? They can be a little non-traditional (like, making a perfect martini) but shouldn't be completely over the line (not how to whip your lover just right to make him scream).

    Ideas?

    ETA: The older woman is a comfortable but not wealthy Canadian and she's spending the summer at a lakeside cottage in Ontario. She's just a new character so I haven't got a lot of characterization in place for her yet - whatever's needed to go with the lessons should work. But she isn't a spy or anything too glamorous - one of the themes of the book is the importance of finding wonder in everyday things.
     
  2. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    848
    Likes Received:
    931
    Location:
    SC, USA
    Something like crochet might be a bit too old lady cliche, but it was the first thing I thought of (being able to make scarves and arm warmers is cool!). Basic carpentry, like building birdhouses? How to identify lake birds by their calls? I'm stuck on birds for some reason.
     
    BayView likes this.
  3. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,581
    Likes Received:
    5,066
    Ooh, I like the bird calling... maybe bird watching in general!

    And the birdhouse could work, too! Yay! Thanks!
     
  4. Spencer1990
    Online

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2016
    Messages:
    905
    Likes Received:
    1,017
    Gardening could be a good one.

    ETA: something spiritual, maybe meditation.
     
    BayView likes this.
  5. Oswiecenie
    Offline

    Oswiecenie Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Hy-Brazil
    Reading tracks, if the old lady is still fit enough to go out into the woods every now and then.
     
    BayView likes this.
  6. Doive
    Offline

    Doive Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2015
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    9
    Yoga, singing or the start of a musical instrument, photography that might cover "the importance of finding wonder in everyday things." but bird watching probably has that covered :)
     
    BayView likes this.
  7. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,601
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    If you want to color outside the lines a little, how to fix some basic car problems, change the oil, fan belts, fuses, tires and how to extend a wrench to give you leverage when you aren't strong enough to get a bolt off.
     
    matwoolf and BayView like this.
  8. Earp
    Offline

    Earp Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2016
    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    179
    Canning food, and maybe hunting.
     
    matwoolf, BayView and minstrel like this.
  9. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,722
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I was thinking along these lines. Hunting for small game, skinning and cooking game. Use of a light rifle to keep varmints away from the garden. Maybe basic fishing skills - the kind of thing any old-timer in a Canadian cottage would know, but a millenial wouldn't.
     
    BayView likes this.
  10. Mumble Bee
    Online

    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2015
    Messages:
    782
    Likes Received:
    1,297
    Ways to stay warm, what berries will kill you dead if you eat them, how to start a fire with nothing but a twig and a strong heart.
     
    BayView likes this.
  11. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,910
    Likes Received:
    5,437
    Another vote for gardening. Possible specific gardening skills could be:

    - How to double dig a gardening bed.
    - How to cut and store peony blossoms. (If you catch them juuuust right, you can store them in refrigeration for up to three months--take the buds out of the fridge and they'll open up and be as if they were just cut.)
    - How to plant and hill up potatoes.
    - How to harvest potatoes.
    - How to "prick out" seedlings.
     
    BayView likes this.
  12. Lea`Brooks
    Offline

    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    2,608
    Likes Received:
    1,711
    Location:
    Virginia, United States
    First thing that popped in my head was basic survival skills, AKA how to live off the grid. Every day (or week), she could learn different things.

    -chopping wood and how to start a fire
    -foraging for food and medicinal plants
    -tracking game and setting snares or traps
    -gardening and growing own food
    -fashioning tools such as spears or a bow and arrow

    Not only would these teach skills to the girl, but they would also help build her confidence in herself. Good luck. :)
     
  13. Brindy
    Offline

    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Messages:
    404
    Likes Received:
    394
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    As they are lakeside, how about sailing a yacht, or a canoe?
     
    BayView likes this.
  14. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,910
    Likes Received:
    5,437
    In the cooking realm, but less cute than the chocolate chip cookie recipe:

    - How to butcher a chicken.
    - How to clean a fish.
    - How to make puff pastry.
    - How to temper chocolate.
    - How to make hollandaise.
    - How to poach an egg.
    - Of course, how to pan-fry chicken.
     
    BayView likes this.
  15. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,771
    Likes Received:
    7,279
    Location:
    Scotland
    How to drive a car that has no electronic aids in it whatsoever? And no power steering. She's got an old-fashioned car, with non-bucket seats, from maybe back in the 1950s? That she's kept running for years, that she uses out at her cottage. Maybe how to repair said car?

    How to write with a pen on paper. (Okay, that's meant to be a joke!)

    How to build a fire in a woodstove or fireplace (which a Canadian cottage probably has.)

    She might have been the sort of woman who was handy with a sewing machine, and could make her own clothes. That's a skill she could easily teach, that would be relevant to a young person today.

    Keep in mind that a woman who is in her 80s just now will have been born in the 1930s. (I'm 67 years old and was born in 1949.) She would have been an older child (not a toddler) or a teenager during WW2. She might have been a keen Elvis Presley fan if she was born at the end of the decade, or possibly Frank Sinatra, if she was born in the earlier part of the 1930s. If she came from a poorer, rural district, she might remember the days before electricity and she might not have had a telephone, growing up. However, if she lived in a city, such as Toronto, etc, she probably would have had both as a child/teenager.

    Do a bit of research on your elderly lady and discover where she grew up, and what she actually grew up doing and using. That should give you ideas. Also decide where the cottage is, and how primitive it is. Do they have indoor plumbing there? Electricity? Is it powered by a generator on premises? If so, that's something she would need to know how to operate. Ditto an outhouse, if the cottage doesn't have indoor plumbing. I certainly remember visiting fairly posh cottages (not cabins) in Michigan, on the shores of Lake Huron and smaller inland lakes, when I was growing up in the 1950s. Some of these had no indoor plumbing, and water had to be pumped by hand.

    If there is no electricity, what kind of lighting do they use at night? Might be an oil lamp or kerosene Aladdin mantle lamp (which gives off a very bright light, but is tricky to use.) Those require a bit of knowledge if you're not going to burn the place down.

    Keepers of cottages sometimes want all the comforts of home, so the cottages are very modern. Others like the notion of getting back to a more primitive kind of lifestyle, so they will keep the old-fashioned things like woodstoves, kerosene lamps, outdoor 'conveniences,' etc. It's all down to the character of your 80-year-old.

    And etc....

    It's also possible the older woman can teach the younger one some skill that isn't out of date, but something she knows about and the younger woman doesn't. There doesn't have to be a generational gap here, just a knowledge gap.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
    Lifeline and BayView like this.
  16. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    Doing a bit of math...

    If she's 80, she was born in 1936 which means she was coming into focus as a person during the early 1950s.

    So, perhaps you could look at what activities were popular between 1950 and 1960 when she was 14 to 24 and have her teach one of those.
     
  17. Scot
    Offline

    Scot Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2016
    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    243
    Location:
    Argyll, Scotland
    At 18 your MC will probably have questions about boys she wouldn't feel comfortable asking her mother; like how to dump a boyfriend or handle being dumped herself. How to tell if she's in love, and how to tell if she's loved or just being taken advantage of. How many lovers is too many?

    Cooking skills, like knocking up hash brownies from some weed growing out back.

    Self-sufficiency skills: Splitting logs without losing a limb. Peeling birch bark to make kindling. Guddling for trout (Google it), gutting it and cooking it over an open fire. Smoking meat to preserve it. Making pickles. Sewing leather. Mushrooms vs toadstools. Herbs or roots to help headaches, period pains, avoid pregnancy (skills old lady learned from first nation people?)

    Canada? Tapping a maple tree for syrup. Granny's secret recipe to keep the mosquitoes off. The best broad-leaved plants to use when caught short in the woods.
     
    jannert, Simpson17866 and BayView like this.
  18. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,601
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
  19. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,771
    Likes Received:
    7,279
    Location:
    Scotland
    Just insane. A huge skill that will be lost in one generation if we're not careful. And that makes people TOTALLY dependent on an expensive technology to get anything done, including make a grocery list. It's not the technology itself that scares me, it's the ubiquity of it, and our total lack of control over who supplies it and how much it costs. Never mind its reliability, which is not really that much different than stuff written on paper. It's just different. Yes, you can lose paper, or it can burn up in a fire. But you can lose your device as well, and stuff stored in the cloud can certainly disappear. I know people who have lost stuff that way, with no explanation. Me? I love technology, but I'm damned if I'm putting all my eggs in that basket. It's just too vulnerable.
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  20. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,581
    Likes Received:
    5,066
    Kids are still taught to print by hand, just not cursive.

    So they can still make a grocery list.

    But they may have trouble signing a cheque to pay for the groceries...
     
    jannert likes this.
  21. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,601
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    I've always printed. Learned how to write cursive then promptly quit using it. But leave it to the south to react to change: Alabama law requires schools to keep teaching cursive writing.

    [sorry, /sidetrack]
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  22. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,771
    Likes Received:
    7,279
    Location:
    Scotland
    Cheque? People still use cheques? :)
     
    izzybot and BayView like this.
  23. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,771
    Likes Received:
    7,279
    Location:
    Scotland
    Following this train of thought. We now have technology that means you can speak to a computer and it will do as you ask. Not wildly expensive computers, but simple new Macs, with SIRI installed. So, in the future (maybe the very near future) nobody will need to enter text into a computer themselves, and a computer will read what it has entered back to them in a voice that sounds almost human.

    So why bother learning to read? You won't need to. The computer will do it for you.

    Another skill gone in a single generation? Think I'm joking? Well, my generation never dreamed we'd hear that handwriting is going the way of the buffalo either.

    I can't see this as a good direction to take. We do this, we give up nearly all control over what we produce and consume, and hand it over to corporations to control how, when, where ...and eventually why.

    Just because we can, doesn't mean we should.
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  24. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,910
    Likes Received:
    5,437
    I remember a science fiction story set in the distant future, when a researcher was trying to argue the totally absurd (to the minds of the time) idea that ancient man was capable of arithmetic before computers.
     
    jannert likes this.
  25. Scot
    Offline

    Scot Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2016
    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    243
    Location:
    Argyll, Scotland
    This thread has gone off track. Can we get back to @BayView's topic?
     
    jannert likes this.

Share This Page