An incomplete list of things that I would like to do in my life

1) Be an organic farmer with any or all of the following crops and livestock:
a. sheep
b. alpacas
c. apple trees
d. bees
e. chickens
f. concord grapes
g. wildflowers
h. horses
i. a big garden with lots of tomatoes and strawberries and all kinds of vegetables. Then I could can them and not have to buy anything from the store in the winter.
2) Write a novel
3) Live in another country for at least one year
4) Backpack across Europe with Brian
5) Travel on all the continents
6) Have about 6 kids (some of them adopted)
7) Be a great mom and do all kinds of really cool things with my kids and have them all turn out really well. Healthy, happy, mentally stable adults.
8) Sail around the world
9) Run for public office
10) Bike ride across the country or part of the country or some country.

What are some of the things that you would like to do? Tell me in the comment section.


What I want to be when I grow up

When I was sixteen, my family took a road trip to Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. During this trip, my sister kept a notebook of my family's quotable quotes (there were many of them) and a running list of all the things that I said I wanted to be or do. When we passed sheep pastures, I would talk about how I wanted to be a shepherd and live on a ranch in Montana. And when we would travel roads that followed the path of mountain rivers, I would look down at the rapids spilling over the rocks and boulders and talk about being a whitewater rafter or learning to kayak.

I've always done this and still do. I have all these visions for my life. All these things I want to become, all kinds of hobbies I want to have. I can't possibly do them all at the same time. It will be hard to be a missionary in Africa and a shepherd in Montana or New Zealand while being the delight of New York's literary world and a major museum curator.

One of the best conversations that I ever had was with my best friend a few years ago. I had gone to Mexico to visit her. She was living there for a year working on a documentary. We spent a day at Monte Albán which is the site of Zapotec Indian ruins. We sat down on steps that were built thousands of years ago and we talked about life. We talked about wanting to take trips and see places. And how we didn't want to wait until we retired to go the places we wanted to see and try things that we wanted to try.

We talked about not wanting to make working our life. Instead of living to work we wanted to work to live. We talked about how nice it would be to work at a job for awhile and save up some money, and when you had enough, quit your job and go sail around the world or take a few months in Europe or explore the Great Wall of China. Then come back, get another job, work for a couple of months or years, and then do something different. (We did discuss the importance of retirement and insurance and blah, blah, blah. I know.) But the point was to work not just to work or because you're supposed to have a job, but to work to be able to afford all the things that we dreamed of doing.

The very best commencement speech I've ever heard, in fact the only commencement address I remember anything about, was at my sister's high school graduation in 1994. Besides being an excellent storyteller, the speaker had three really good points that I've tried to remember: 1) Do what you have to do, 2) Do what you love to do, and 3) As soon as you can, make them the same thing.

I think this is a good idea. I am trying to live that way.

In my next post I will share an incomplete list of things that I would like to do with my life. Don't miss it!


Things I learned from my mailman in a recent conversation

When a mail truck and a fire truck at emergency (with sirens on) meet at an intersection, the mail truck has the right of way.

Mailmen carried guns until the late 40s.

The most often seen unconscious reaction to seeing a mailman is checking one's watch.

Mailmen get uniform allowances up to $300 a year, but this amount hardly covers their very expensive uniform pieces.


Trips to Florida

I was four years old when I first went to Florida. The summer of 1984 my family piled into our Chevy Malibu and drove from southern Illinois to visit family, see friends, and go to Disney World. My brother did not go, so that left me and my two sisters (ages 8 and 10) in the back seat for three days.

Somewhere in Mississippi or Alabama, Robert, my step-dad, accidentally put diesel fuel into the gas tank. The pump was badly marked. A few miles down the state highway, our radiator exploded. We pulled into a back road mechanic and waited for him to fix it. Oh, we were also pulling a pop-up camper. I remember it was really hot, and we could only find about six inches of shade to sit down on and have a picnic. There was a really skinny dog hanging around the garage - all skin and ribs. He stole our bag of bread after we had all made our sandwiches. We felt so sorry for him that we didn't take it back.

We went to Sea World on our trip and during one of the dolphin shows, the emcee asked for a volunteer. I raised my hand and was chosen. I walked down to the swimming tank and was kissed on the cheek by a sea lion. Robert was also chosen as a volunteer. He held a fish in the air and a dolphin jumped up and ate it from his hand. When he was called down to the tank. He jumped up on the walkway that circled the tank. That's where all the trainers were walking. He was asked to get down and for a spilt second, he thought they were asking him to get in the water with the dolphins.

I rode my first roller coaster at Busch Gardens. I loved it. I wasn't tall enough to go on the one that went up-side-down but I wanted to. We also went to Disney World and rode a bunch of rides. My best memory from those theme parks happened at Epcot Center. We were eating lunch in the German section at some restaurant that had a live band playing polka music. There was a dance floor but nobody was dancing. An especially fast and exciting polka started and I asked my mom if she wanted to go and dance. She took me by the hand and she trotted down to the dance floor. I had never been taught to polka, but somehow I knew what to do. We flew across the floor in huge circles. We held on tight to each other. The music was so fast and we moved with such vigor that centrifugal forces were pulling us apart. I felt like I was flying and my mom was smiling and laughing the whole time we danced.

I went to Florida again last week. Here are some highlights and some pictures from that trip.

I came in 6th place (6th=last) in a family mini golf tournament held at Congo River Adventure Golf. You can see a picture and a video here.

I spotted an alligator in the wild at a city park in Mount Dora, Florida. The park was filled with palm trees and oaks covered with Spanish moss. The alligator was big and scary. I was there with my best friend so it was even better.

We built a huge drip-castle on the beach and made up a town history as we built it. At the end of the day we threw a baseball several times at one side of the castle attempting to destroy it. The castle mostly withstood the onslaught. Brian doesn't much like that I'm posting this picture of him shirtless. I tried to explain to him that it's important for scale to have a person in the picture and that most girls including me don't make pictures of themselves wearing swimming suits readily available.