Jill of All Trades


Way back, when I first started blogging, I took a blogging course. If you want readers, the teacher said, make your blog be about something. Have a focus! But I didn’t. Because I can’t.

There are lots of blogs that are about one thing, and one thing only. I have friends who write about sewing or knitting. There’s several blogs I follow that are all about fairy tales (like this, or this one). Writers, of course, have blogs about writing. There are great blogs about food (incredible numbers of them! reams of them! mountains of them!). Or Jane Austen. Or photography. Or Norfolk in the 18th century.

To be honest, I feel a bit inferior to those bloggers, if not a bit jealous of them. They’re serious about what they’re doing. They have lots of followers. They know their stuff; their blogs are interesting. But mine… Well, there’s food. And fairy tales. And photos. And Austen, and writing, and pottery and soap-making and history and gardening and cats and herbology and musings on mental health; and then the occasional interlude with a small stuffed bear (he’s been there from the very beginning).

Chive vinegar I made yesterday

Stick with one thing? I’m sorry, I can’t. Never have been able to. No, I don’t have ADHD (Squirrel!) – more like CCS, Chronic Curiosity Syndrome. There are just too many interesting topics out there for me to restrain myself to just one. I’ll get bitten by an interest bug, and then I’m utterly passionate about it for a while – and then I lose interest, and move on to something else.

Some fifteen years ago, I was crazy about fish – as in, aquaria, not the kind you cook. I’d haunt the pet shops, drooling over the nice setups with the 30-gallon tanks and live plants. A few years before that, it was heirloom sewing and embroidery – hand-stitching clothes with no sewing machine whatsoever (I made some tiny little night gowns for my new baby, and a couple of rag dolls). Cooking. Quilting. Bread making. Soaping. Painting (both walls and pictures – the latter in watercolour, oil, acrylic, pastels…). English history. Calligraphy. Jewellery making. Dollhouses. Furniture building. Art history. Guitar (and recorder, percussion, harmonica; even a tiny bit of piano and pan flute…). Growing herbs, and using them for food and medicine. Been there, done that, all of it; and plenty others besides.

Very Small Ink People Crop
“Very Small Ink People”, 2011. Ink & Watercolour, 8×10″.

I am, indeed, a Jill of All Trades. But you know the rest of that saying, don’t you? Jack of all trades, master of none. That’s because Jack never sticks with anything long enough to get really good at it.

That’s me – there’s a lot of things that I know how to do or know something about, but it’s all at the level of a first-year apprentice. I play guitar quite well, but nobody would come to hear me in concert. I can paint, but no one is beating on my door begging me for another piece to add to their collection. I’m a darn good cook, even if I say so myself, but I’m not about to open a restaurant. I can make pottery dishes, but they’re none of them exactly the same size or shape, or else great one-off pieces of art. I’m a mine of trivia on history and Jane Austen and fairy tales and herb lore and folk customs, but I’m not going to write books on any of those topics.

Well, maybe not books – but IĀ can write blog posts. Snippets of any and all of these things. That’s why this blog is called “amo vitam” – “I love life”. Some of everything. Jack of all trades, master of none.

Actually, I do have a Master’s degree. But guess what it’s in? I’m a Master of Arts, in Integrated Studies. I got a degree in not making up my mind; I’m a Master of Some-of-Everything-Please. Jill of All Trades, Mistress of Mixed Pickles.

And so that’s what this blog is, too: a great big crock of mixed pickles. (Hmm, crock. Sauerkraut. I want a Sauerkraut crock, one of those straight-sided buff stoneware ones, for making and storing homemade Kraut like they did in the Old Country. I should make myself one. Let’s see… Oh! Oops, sorry, where were we? Right, blog. Mixed pickles.) Yes, I know that it won’t make my blog one of those go-to ones for expert information; that it won’t be one of those sites that people quote in academic papers. And you know what? I think I’m okay with that.

Life, the Universe, and Everything.Ā It’s always been about that.

Steve and some patriotic flowers.


Author: quillandqwerty

writer, editor, maker of things

11 thoughts on “Jill of All Trades”

  1. Hey, wasn’t it Einstein who said “I have no special talents, I am merely passionately curious about everything”? (I might have paraphrased slightly) Curiosity about life is one of the greatest gifts one can have!

    But I hear you. I felt slightly guilty when my passion for photography petered out into only a mild interest in snapshots of family and occasional scenery. Likewise this winter when I finally threw up my hands and declared I was DONE trying to make clothing, because it was always more frustration than it was worth. Piano, guitar, singing … love them all, never been able to be *actually good* at any of them. Now knitting is my pet hobby, but I’m finally gaining enough wisdom to know that eventually, probably, I’ll move on to something else, leaving a few sweaters and many mittens and hats in my wake. And you know what? I’m okay with that. It’s a joy for now.

    And this is how I KNOW I’m a writer–it’s the one thing that never wavers, never falters, always brings more joy than frustration, and I’m always willing to put in whatever work it takes to make it the absolute best I can. I can’t say that about any of my other interests throughout my entire life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hah, knitting, another one gone by the wayside. Ditto for clothes-making (my crowning achievements were my wedding dress, and a button-down shirt for the man). I’ve long passed the stage where I thought that just because I *could* do something, I should…

      But that’s exactly it about writing. I didn’t “always” have a passion for writing – didn’t think “being a writer” was something I could be, which is a whole other story in itself – but I always, always had a passion for books and stories. And that’s never faded or even waned in the slightest. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You know what? I LOVE your blog. I look for your Wordless Wednesday post. And I look forward to reading your smattering of thoughts on a smattering of ideas and topics…your “everythingness.” Some I totally identify with, some I just learn from you about them. I’m not as read on Jane Austen for instance, and so if I need to know ANYTHING, you’re my go to expert. EXPERT. You’re a Master of fairy tale and story lore. A MASTER. And fairy tales help form the bases of the metaphors for our society. They are partly to do with why we are as we are. They’re important. Ask Steve, he’ll tell you. šŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

  3. One of my favourite words is “eclectic.” That’s my decorating style and your blogging style. I love it when curiosity and enjoyment of life lead to a little bit of everything!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Been forever since I popped by here for a visit (shame on me!). The most wonderful thing is you are still you – and that the very gift I have long admired about you is your ability to write and it’s shining here brightly. I have shared in so many of the interests you noted above, my friend, I too, see myself as a crock of “mixed pickles”. Always curious to try things! Oh, how fun, too, to discover that it’s hard for ourselves to spot on own expertise – I have always thought you a gifted writer and would delight to read your thoughts – whether emails or on that homeschoolers forum we were a part of. Maybe the point in being an expert, is not in thinking of yourself as one (personally, I feel I still have so much to learn in my area of life long interest -sewing- which makes it hard for me to see myself as any kind of expert), but maybe it’s when others are looking up to you that actually denotes that “expert” status? Hope the weather up there is fine, my talented friend! ;o)

    Liked by 1 person

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