Grandma Greta’s bucket list

Grandma Greta’s a little jealous.

She caught wind of my ’50 by 60′ bucket list and wants to join in the fun.

“How about a ’90 by 99′ list?” Greta asked me as she awakened this morning.

“Well girl, we’ll have to get busy since you’re already 98 in dog years.”

“Don’t remind me,” she growled back.

Number one for Greta is running in the annual dachshund races in town this September.

I told her we’ll need an action plan to make that happen.

“First, the vet will have to ok it and we’ll need to do some basic training”.

“Oh, what’s a little heart murmur, arthritis, and cataracts anyway?” she replied. “And we could train by me running towards you while holding vanilla ice cream cones in each hand. It would be a great motivator and the cones would act as beacons of light leading me right towards that finish line!”

I thought I better pose an alternative.

“Hey Greta, they also have a costume contest. You’d be such an awesome peacock. Maybe I can borrow that costume from last year’s competition.”

Little Miss Attitude smiled right up at me sweetly and began to dance in circles.

“Oh, I’d love that. Would I still get my ice cream cone out of the deal?” she queried.

“Greta, you in a peacock costume would be worthy of a full sundae!” I replied.

Greta’s squealed in delight, dancing right back to her doggie bed where she’s currently dreaming of the big day.

They’ll be no missing this Train

So here’s the deal.

I’m the first to admit I’m an aging nerd.

And hopefully I’m chugging along nicely.

But there’s the matter of my ’50 by 60′ bucket list blast scheduled for Saturday night.

Number 27, I think.

I’ll be attending my very first rock concert (unless you count Donny Osmond back when he was six).

And I’m pretty nervous.

First off, I have absolutely nothing to wear.

Scratch that.

It’s more like what do I wear?

Are tie dye shirts ‘in’ our ‘out’ this decade?

Would sensible shoes fly for an outdoor concert with no seating?

Then what about buying brightly colored beads?

Are they ‘hip’?

Actually, does anyone even say hip any more?

And there’s another issue.

Will I stay awake long enough?

My favorite Grammy winning band, ‘Train’, doesn’t even start until after 9:00 p.m.

That’s peak snoring time for me.

Finally, here’s the real kicker.

The lead singer of Train looks to be 20 years old.

Yikes, I’m old enough to be his mother!

OMG, I’m actually old enough to be his grandmother!!!!!

Maybe I’ll pull a Roy Orbison and wear oversized dark glasses.

Those ought to cover my wrinkles of wonderment.

So I think I’ll grab my schedule, tickets, and will pack my bags tonight.

I’m definitely planing on an early arrival at the platform come Saturday.

There’s just no way I’ll be missing this fast moving Train.

Jokester Jack

There’s always been something disturbing and wrong with this picture.

I’m not in it.

A few minutes before I’d dashed into the bedroom for cover, diving deep below heavy blankets.

I was terrified of the crazed looking stranger who had entered the the living room, unannounced.

Just what had this horrible person done to dear old dad, who’d disappeared?

And why wasn’t Mom crying?

Or my sister or brother, either?

Shaking, I thought I heard laughter.

The man slowly plodded down the hall in heavy boots splattered with blood red paint, then abruptly opened the door knob to my room.

Quickly stripping his disguise, the crazy man yelled “Happy Halloween” and convinced me that he was just ‘Jokester Jack’.

A.K.A. my father.

Dad’s always been known for his sharp wit.

There wasn’t one ounce of stoic Norwegian hemoglobin in that man’s blood.

Growing up in my family the ‘wait till you father gets home’ lines never worked as they sharply spewed off Mom’s tongue.

We knew Dad was just one smiling pussycat.

He was much more likely to fill the sugar bowl with salt on April Fool’s Day, then ever yell at us for spilling it over.

So with his humor it was no wonder Dad found his way into a career into advertising and public relations, playing the role in a used, but sparking black Thunderbird.

Until he realized he couldn’t comfortably squeeze us into it.

And we were his pride and joy, not his image.

Looking back I’m amazed at the resilience of Dad’s humor and zest after a tough childhood and the atrocities seen while serving in the Army in World War II.

Yet maybe those life skills grew over the years because of both experiences.

Even during Dad’s final days with Alzheimer’s, he still often wore a smile and had a twinkle in his eye.

I hope I’m just as lucky.

I’ve heard it was my parents’ intention when I was born that I be named after my father.

But life surprised them with a ‘Jackie’ instead of a ‘Jack, Jr’.

Though they did add one creative twist of their own.

I was christened with the nickname of ‘Wacky Jackie’.

I know I have a long way to go to live up to Dad’s sense of humor.

So in honor of Dad this Father’s Day, I’ll be adding wacky humor to my bucket list.

Still no angel

There’s a middle school picture of me still hanging up in a busy brick building in a nearby town.

There I am.

Perfectly rigid.

‘Old pizza face’.

But at least my eyes are open for once.

I’m probably about thirteen.

And not looking happy at all about having my picture taken.

I’m wearing a long white polyester robe.

And it’s confirmation time.

Though not quite fitting the part of an angel in the shot, at least I was faking it pretty good.

I’ll be walking right past that fading portrait in my parents’ old church soon. I’ll be meeting with the coordinator of a group that helps caregivers, and those directly under their care.

It’s another one of my ’50 by 60′ bucket list items.

I’ve just offered to visit caregivers’ homes on Saturdays and spend time with their spouses or parents while they get a chance for some respite themselves.

Although the group has many opportunities, it’s the one way I can help right now while I’m still working.

This group acted as another set of valued eyes on my parents when they were still living. It’s now my turn to return the favor.

I expect to do my visiting loaded down with fresh flowers to brighten moods of caregivers.

And tactile puzzles and art projects to engage their loved ones.

I’ll also be sure to pack plenty of extra hugs in case they’re needed.

And I’m thinking they will be.

I hope I’ll make at least one small difference in each caregiver’s day as I stop by.

Though I expect I’ll be getting much more out of the experience then they will.

I’ll still never be an angel, but as I continue to age I’m happy my self absorption as a teen is now many decades behind me.

And that finally I smile a lot more in pictures, even knowing my eyes are probably closed yet again.

Hook, line and sinker

So here’s what I’ve learned about my ’50 by 60′ bucket list.

Once you open your mouth with a idea, you’re going to get hooked.

Just like a big old walleye.

And they’ll be no escape.

For example after swimming a 5k in the rain this morning, my friends and I drove over to an old used vinyl and incense store that’s been around since the 60s. They’ve updated some since then, selling CDs, trendy clothes and concert tickets.

We walked out with four tickets to my first rock concert extravaganza next month, just to make sure I don’t chicken out.

11 different acts on 3 stages.

“Will I stay up long enough?” I asked my friends.

“After all, I do have that self imposed 10 pm curfew”.

They answered that they’ll just load me up with lots of espresso.

Then we were back again to a discussion on my karoke plans.

Another bucket list item.

They where pushing me hard for an update.

I tried to back out by telling them, “Well, I sort of sang karaoke once at a wedding. Freddy Mercury and Queen, I think”.

“Nope, not getting off that easy,” I was told. “You’ve got to sing solo, and besides the microphone
didn’t work that night.”


That sound system did blow up.

And I admit I was hiding out in the back row with eight others.

So I’m committed now to a date in August.

Right over at the American Legion, a couple of miles down the road.

It’s happening on the ever popular ‘Friday Fish Fry Night’.

And friends have already picked out a special song for me.

Rod Stewart’s old classic, “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy.”

Ok, I was so ready to put up a fight on that one!

But then I remembered how much my husband Richard loved Rod Stewart, and particularly that song.

He’d met Rod a couple of times at clubs back in Boston years ago.

And Richard would always dance around the living room whenever the song played on the radio.

So it looks like my friends did it to me again.

They hooked me, then reeled me right in.

And they’ll be no escaping this fish net.

But I sure hope I don’t sink in embarrassment.

On the scent

I’m like a fox terrier who can sniff out a rabbit hole 5 miles off.

Though in my case I’m usually hunting down a bookstore.

When I lift my crooked nose in the air and catch a whiff of coffee and fresh baked goods, I know I’m on the scent of something good.

It happened to me again last week.

The smell of steaming espresso and poppyseed white chocolate bread drew me into a Finnish bakery after a meeting.

Munching and sipping my way out the door, I spotted it.

Right across the street.

A cozy, inviting bookstore with overstuffed chairs I’d never been in before.

Inspired, I pulled out my peacock covered notebook and scribbled in item number 13 on my ’50 before 60′ bucket list: “Visit all independent bookstores within a two hour radius.”

I wrote it right below item 12, “Sing karaoke just once down at the V.F.W.”

I’m trying to be more of a peacock to counteract my bookworm tendencies.

Anyway, I decided to continue on my bookstore quest last weekend.

I visited one store specializing in Native American books and art owned by novelist and poet Louise Erdrich in Minneapolis.

Then for a change of pace, I thought I’d hunt down another store run by Garrison Keillor in St. Paul. I knew it was nestled into the historic neighborhood where author F. Scott Fitzgerald lived and worked many decades before.

This should be easy to find, I figured.

My nose led me right past the apartment house where Fitzgerald once lived and wrote, the school he attended, then right into a cafe in an elegant old building where his mother resided.

And just as predicted, down the stairs sat yet another charming bookstore.


Feeling so proud of myself, l hunted for Garrison Keillor with my eagle eye.

I was thinking maybe we could swap hot dish recipes.

But I soon discovered this wasn’t his store anymore, and he had moved to a larger location nearby.

Just as I got back in the car, my allergies began to kick in.

My nose plugged up quickly as I drove.

I’d lost the scent!

I couldn’t smell anything.

And I was driving in circles.

I found out later I’d also transposed a number on this bookstore address.

Tonight I thought I’d try again to find the store until I saw on Facebook that Garrison is out of town.

Visiting with another bookstore owner I admire, 12 states away in upstate New York.

Who happens to have a shop that sits next to a great cafe with strong coffee and the most incredible blueberry scones.

I just added item number 14 to my peacock notebook: “Expand independent book store visits to the east coast.”

I’ll start packing right after karaoke.