As earlier suggested, use wp_nav_menu() to generate the menu.
A popular method to get the menu working as desired is Superfish. Well written code, easilly customisable…. what more can I say.Good luck with your learning. It is just as you say. You read and read and read until one day it just clicks.
Thanks teknicom, I’ll keep at it, and will check out Superfish as well : )
check out my link
Jeffery Way did an article to create an HTML template which he did promise to convert to WordPress. here is an elementary example of his template converted to a WP theme
perhaps I need to expand the articlle to include the steps to set it up as a WP theme, it is not complete but does do some of the things that the HTML template does.
let me know what you think
ps Chric at css-tricks.com does have some videos where he has converted HTML templates to WordPress themes, check his videos out and they are free