1. Play the banjo.When my dad pursued songwriting in Nashville, TN, he knew some very talented studio musicians, and one of these gentleman played the banjo. Dad thought he was a virtuoso, and when he brought home a record of this banjo player, I knew I loved the instrument.
Do I play? Nah. But I did take one small step toward the goal of doing so when I picked up my dad's guitar at age 18 and asked him to teach me. I drove my parents nuts playing the melancholy western tune Red River Valley over and over and over. I play better these many years later - mostly Christmas songs - but don't play as well as my dad or Uncle Reuben, certainly not well enough to pick up the fancy finger-picking style necessary to tickle the banjo strings....but someday, I hope.
2. Hike the Camino de SantiagoI didn't at first learn of this awesome trek because I am Catholic. I learned about it from the fun PBS show Spain...On The Road Again that explores the cuisine, culture, and history of Spain. It's a quirky travel/food show hosted by chefs and actresses. In one episode Mario Batali taught Gwyneth Paltrow about the Camino de Santiago as they walked part of it, and I was enchanted. A dream was born to hike the Camino, eat the rich food of Spain on the way, and lose myself in the glorious history of such a journey.
I recently saw the movie The Way with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, and I loved the part where the father (Sheen) sees his dead son (Estevez), smiling and pulling the ropes with monks to swing the huge incense censer over the heads of those kneeling in Santiago de Compostelo cathedral.
3. Visit Gettysburg
Wow, I can say I did this - and in the 150th anniversary year of the battle. How did this happen? Well, I wrote on Facebook several months earlier that I wished to go and invited others to join me, told my husband we should go, and then my fabulous big sister Vinca suggested we drive to Pennsylvania when we visited her in Virginia last summer. Gotta love that woman!
I do wish, however, that I had read Michael Shaara's novel, Killer Angels, before I went. I would have been able to visualize the positions of the men, generals, and the lay of the battle in my head as I gazed across that wide, verdant space much better. But, honestly, I really feel I would have to live in the pretty town of Gettysburg and hike the trails through the fields, woods, graveyards and hollows every day in order to attempt to get a proper feel of it. Nevertheless, I am so very grateful to Vinca, my brother Dave and my husband Matthew for going with me to such a hallowed place. What an opportunity - the experience of which I will always, always cherish.
4. Get paid to be a writerFive bucks. Anything.
I've wanted to be a writer ever since I was eight-years-old.
The delusional thing is that, unlike more reasonable people, I imagine I am a writer even though I am not paid for my work. My humor pieces have been published regularly - just not for payment. Sheesh! I don't want to talk about it.
No, really. I will not be accepting questions, jeers or commiseration at this time.
5. Surround myself with a Bonsai Garden that I clip with agonizing precision and talk to when no one is lookingGosh, I love trees. I don't just hug them; I talk to them, too. My love has grown for them even more since moving to a desert city. Spend one day at a sporting event in 115 degree temps and tell me how much you appreciate the kind shade of a palo verde or eucalyptus. Sure, it might be 110 in the shade, as John Fogerty sang, but it's better than the alternative.
But as for Bonsai, we all know these beautiful, ancient-looking living things cannot provide shade or habitat, but I have wanted one since seeing an episode of CBS Sunday Morning in which people talked about their serene Bonsai lifestyles, surrounded by dozens of the artistic little trees. Again a dream was born, and now I can say I have begun to live it:
While my husband was out of town last week, I received a package in the mail. At first I assumed a relative had sent a gift to my daughter Ana, or it was something my man had ordered off Amazon. But the package was strange and Berto pointed to a sticker that said, "Open Immediately! Live plant."
Well, I was not going to open that package, my friends, in case Anthrax spores was what was meant by "live plant". I sure as heck was not expecting any such package alive with goodness knows what. I raked the box over with my eyes to find an address, and sure as anything it was meant for me. Curiosity climaxing, I ripped the thing open and saw a beautiful little tree wrapped in a plastic bag - Bonsaaaiiii!
It was a 13th wedding anniversary gift. The card with it read, "I Am The Man...."
I knew then it was from my guy, and the card was stating how awesome he was for giving his woman the realization of her dream.
Only when he came home did he inform me that by his card he was referencing our song: Peter Cetera's The Glory of Love, the theme song from Karate Kid II. (Yes, we did grow up in the 80s, and we feel quite nostalgic watching Ferris Beuller's Day Off, thank you.)
"I can't believe you didn't get my card," he said.
I couldn't believe it, either, just as I can't believe I have my very own juniper Bonsai tree. I would love a new tiny tree every anniversary if my man is willing.
As a woman who has annihilated everything from mums, orchids, hydrangea to succulents and lantana, however, I pray I don't kill it. It should be the first of many, so that one day I can be a crazy old lady on her front porch, just picking her banjo like Steve Martin and singing to her beautiful bonsais.