Bucket List

So Many Buckets

Do you have a bucket list? The term didn’t seem to be in use when I was a young woman, although I certainly had unfulfilled dreams back at the time. Now those dreams reside on a bucket list and it is has recently been influenced by the experience of aging. It has an aura of use-it-or-lose-it or now-or-never about it. After all, I just turned 56. Life seems too short to spend it at work and I feel my body and brain getting older almost by the day. The clock is ticking and this post is feeling cliche-driven. To use another cliche, c’est la vie!

Vintage Clock

Today my back is hurting, just a muscle pull, nothing permanent or serious but it adds to the irony that I have been searching out mountain peaks to summit on the internet. I may have summited some smallish mountain during a hike when I was a child but if so the details are lost to memory. I have a vague recollection of a climb when I was very young and on a day that I contracted a mild case of whooping cough. The fever may have contributed to the memory fail.

The Mountain is Out

My long term dream has been to summit Mt. Rainier in Washington state, all 14,000 plus feet of it. It is no Everest and not a technical climb but still…. I’m not even sure I can handle the altitude, much less the steep climb, glacier and other physical challenges. I may compromise and try out a lesser mountain. I even created a “Bucket List” on Pinterest with candidates. “Pinned” mountains include Baker, Adams and St. Helens of varying degrees of difficulty. I am far less likely to fail at them and less likely to die too.
Not all my bucket list items are mountains, although some require long hikes– Pacific Crest Trail and similar. Here too I may need to compromise with section hikes or tamer trails. Trekking in the Himalayas is another dream expedition.

Storage area in Pompei

This year I checked off one dream location–I made it to Pompei. What a place! I didn’t spend enough time there as it was a stop off on a hurried road trip but it was amazing and unexpected in so many ways. That was the same trip to Italy that checked off at least part of another box–living abroad for the first time since studying in Paris in 1980. I was “only” in Italy a month on a self-declared sabbatical but it scratched the itch.
Long posts get boring so I may continue detailing my list at a later date. Feel free to comment on your bucket lists.

Writing on Writing

Wash the white clothes on Monday
“Wash the white clothes on Monday”–“Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid, The New Yorker, 1978.

In order to write long, I probably need to know how to write short.  My novel–yes, I wrote a novel–is currently a bit stalled and I am considering trying to write and submit some essays or short fiction.  I found recent inspiration, in the vein of what makes writing great, in a list of most anthologized short stories on LitHub.  Most of the stories are available on-line at no cost, so why not read them and analyze for myself what makes them so appreciated?  I’m sure I can learn a thing or two.  So here, for what it is worth, is the first story I read, “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid, which was included in 8 anthologies.

“Girl” is short, around 682 words and reads like a list, to my ear more of a prose poem than a story.  There is more atmosphere than plot and it provides an entrée into the world of a young girl from the West Indies.  It is a series of instructions, apparently from a woman to her daughter; a mother who alternates between wisdom and verbal abuse.  As I review the story it begins to deepen but I still fail to connect to it.  The beauty in “Girl” is in the eye of the beholder.  In my oh-so-humble opinion, this wouldn’t make my greatest hit list.

An inconsequential activist

All babies deserve healthcare
Today I participated in my 5th protest of the year. I am not setting any records but at least I feel as though I am making a statement. The statement may only have meaning to myself as I look for meaning as I age. It is also a way to express my outrage.

Pretty couple in pink

I am not trying to change anyone’s mind–these days it seems unlikely that the fine art of persuasion is working on very many people. I am, however, standing up and being counted. Today’s event was a healthcare rally. It was a small turn out but that meant I could actually hear the speakers who represented healthcare on many fronts–people of color, mental health advocates, NARAL, Arab-Americans, women–all representing groups who would be harmed by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

First do no harm

I didn’t bring a sign but I did bring my camera. In a way, my contribution is to stand up and blog, tweet, Facebook and Instagram. The ACA has been good to a few of my patients, not as good as it could be, largely due to insurance company game-playing when they did not see enough profit in being part of the marketplaces. As time passes, in spite of my doubts about the ability of government to manage a national health care system, I find myself leaning toward universal health care like in Canada and Europe over the fragmented and crazed system we are now dealing with. I have stopped believing, if I ever did, that health care should be a for-profit enterprise.

Saying thanks

Today, at the rally a woman walked up to me and asked what the event was about. I told her health care and she asked pro or anti-Trump. I answered anti and she shouted “Go Trump.” I think I may have told her to go to hell. Not the most civil response, but heartfelt.

Danger, Will Robinson!

Thin Crust
Yellowstone, Wyoming.
I have a number of danger signs collected as do others participating The Daily Post’s Weekly Challenge, Danger! (Exclamation point required).

 Unreinforced Masonry
You have been warned! Seen in Palo Alto, California. California has legislated more warnings than anywhere else I’ve traveled.

Hazardous and Dangerous
Beware, I seem to be on a roll here. This might become a bit boring.

Unstable Material

Guanica, Puerto Rico

Penalty Imprisonment X Months $XXX Fine
Seen at an airport in the Bahamas. Note the penalty is not specified.

Illinois Beach State Park

Danger de Mort
le Marais Poitevin, France


Polaroid CUBE

If you peer through the train windows, you can see a man waiting for a train and a woman carrying a musical instrument.  Who are they and where were they going?  Unless I’m plotting a thriller, we will never know.

Travel is a feast for the eyes, a harvest for the camera,  a respite for the soul.  It is adventure that makes home all the more appreciated.

Narrow Beach--sm
Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Italy

Europe is a delight for Americans because new experiences are only a short train ride away.  The United States are lovely and large but so much harder to view in detail, like a Google map pulled far out.

Chelan View--sm.jpg
View of Lake Chelan and North Cascades range, Washington

I write this post from my parents’ second home in Chelan, Washington. To get here, I travel from my Chicago home to Seattle, around 6 hours of travel by car and plane, then another 3-1/2 hours by car to Chelan. It is well worth the trip but a far cry from hopping the bullet train from London to Paris. Tomorrow I begin the reverse trip back to Seattle. By the time I arrive home my wanderlust will need a rest stop.

For the Daily Post Weekly Challenge, Wanderlust

Marching on

Paid more taxes--sm

I have been to two more protest marches since my last post.  The first on tax day to demand Trump release his taxes.  I am among those who think Trump has secrets from the American people, ones that we need to know.  I doubt we will ever see his tax returns unless someone leaks them but I believe that we need to keep stating our opposition to our president even if it comes to nothing.  On a lighter front, I have discovered a true joy in photographing the events and in being part of them at the same time.  I won’t usually take off work to march, but I had a free Saturday so why not?

Treasonous Nazi Coward--sm

The second march is the March for Science.  This one is nearer to my heart.  I am myself a physician scientist with a PhD in Molecular Genetics.  I am also the daughter and wife of scientists and believe deeply that science should inform our public policy.  We had some debate at home whether scientists should become political and perhaps scientists should remain above politics.  However, in an era of defunding of science and environmental protections, of gag rules and with a president who Tweets that climate change is a Chinese conspiracy, scientists need to act as citizen experts and declare their knowledge to the world.

Dump Fossil Fools--sm.jpg

The march coincided with a planned trip to Seattle to visit family, so instead of marching in Chicago, I wound up marching with my older son in Seattle.  This had a certain interest given the geek cred of the city although it turned out that, true-to-form, the Seattle march was a bit soggy.

Half a Brain--sm.jpg

What’s on my desk


Actually the desk is my dining room table which is currently unusable for eating in the aftermath of a home construction project.  In the interest of improving my writing I have been reading more, with a specific focus on middle grade and young adult novels and further attention paid to the opening pages since I am querying.  A mystery and a travel memoir made it onto the pile too.  I am also trying to review some old favorites from a writerly perspective in the hopes of figuring out what makes a particular story click for me.

I haven’t decided if I will add book reviews to this blog as it is already divided in content between travel, writing and photography.  Some of my book reviews can be found on my Goodreads site.  Feel free to check it out if you are curious.