Yes… I know. This blog is too far and too few between. Hey, life happens. Quickly. I’m talking like at warp speed. One day I’m pedaling my bike from the Potter farm to Aunt Elaine’s so we can caravan with her and her dog down an old dirt road. The next, I’m officially “over the hill”. And I don’t mean those silly black balloons and “Oh My God she’s the big 4-0” hill. I mean the half-of-a-damn-century hill! I am both looking back over my shoulder, trying to figure out how long ago those sunny farm days actually were, and looking forward strategically, realizing that I don’t really have a bucket list, and in all reality, I’ll be lucky if I have a healthy thirty-five or so years to make one. To fund it. To accomplish it!
I guess saying that I don’t have a bucket list is not exactly true. I do. But it is not like the bucket lists you read about. Not those that my friends have. Not one similar to my husband’s (yep… hello! I got hitched almost a year ago!). He said last night, after a tour through P Hill that one of the bucket list items he had was to take me to Austria so I could hear the philharmonic orchestra. I assured him that, while that would be lovely, that there were many symphonies and orchestras in the United States that were a-ok with me. Heck, I proceeded to share with him that, in my own mind, I had been to the philharmonic when I was about ten. OK, it was a hot road trip to Omaha with my dear friend, violin maker David Wiebe, his friend Okay-Dokay, and our pal Jama. They were all old (like maybe thirty) and I was ten. But, David took me on an adventure. We went to a string quartet performance. And some, if not all of the instruments in the performance were his. He had made them. And, it was likely that I had seen them in parts and pieces, out in his workshop, as I went to get the mower, or to ask some random question about the lawn. You see, I had the best… the very best job of being the mower-girl for the famous David Wiebe! I remember, like it was a day or ten ago that afterward we went to a restaurant and I had French onion soup. I had never had it before, but something fancy and foreign, like French soup, seemed appropriate following the Austrian Philharmonic Orchestra performance… in Omaha, Nebraska.
Another very special “bonus” to being the mower-girl was that I got to play David’s antique concert grand Steinway piano. See, my friend could create amazing violins and cellos, and he had (still does) an impeccable ear for notes, but he doesn’t read music! HOORAY… all of those years with Marion were paying off. That piano, and the one at the top of this post are very important to me. Do you recognize the one above? We had Easter brunch with our friends the Axlines’, and Ax knew what it was and where it was. And that brings me to another bucket list item that’s not for everyone… but it was important to me. That piano used to sit on the front porch of the abandoned home at the end of that old dirt road. Aunt Elaine would caution me, as I tip-toed up, stepping over broken floor boards, to play it. I got such joy out of standing on the crumbling porch, tinkering away. The sun was shining down like my spotlight. I had my stage and my audience of little brother, Aunt Elaine, the dog, several birds and flies, and I was THE PIANIST for the philharmonic! One of the true tests I put my husband through was helping me to gather that piano. I called the land owner and asked if I could have it. At first he thought I was kidding, but after thinking a minute, and realizing it was me that was asking, well… he just knows that I’m a little weird like that, so he said “OK. But DO NOT HURT YOURSELF”. Ha! It was mine. Next… to see just how much my now hubby loves me.
We headed out, in the freezing rain and sleet (literally it could not have been a worse day treasure hunting a 300 lb soundboard) on a bucket list mission. We pulled in as close as we could get. I hurdled the barbed wire and I made my way in to the woods to reintroduce myself. She was still there. Her home was gone. Her windmill was broken. But her beauty was neither gone nor her spirit broken. I’d dare to say she was damned happy to see me! Years of weather had rotted her case, and scavengers had harvested her ivory keys, but her sound board was gleaming. With a half-assed plan in place to get her out of the case, we gave a few pulls and pushes. She didn’t fight us. That old rotten shell crumbled away and the glorious board was ready for a road trip. Now… don’t think for a minute that dragging that out of the woods, over stumps and across holes, over downed fence and then barbed wire was not a challenge. It was. But an even more difficult task was getting it through the four foot ditch and hefting her up in to the back of the pickup bed. AND, the worst part was watching her teeter out the tailgate as we made our way home. We unloaded her and carefully propped her against her new, temporary storage home. She was safe and warm. I was happy. Ray… well he is a good sport. I reported to the landowner that I had her, and nobody got hurt! All was good. CHECK.
So, in the continued theme of reflecting on the joys of my past, and incorporating them to a bucket list, I not only had lunch with my friend David last year, but we remain in touch and he assures me that his piano is just fine. Ray and I will venture to Woodstock one of these days (another bucket list item I suppose) to visit him and his New England workshop. And my piano- or what was left of her- is safe and sound and will soon be displayed on the east wall of our new barn. I’m not sure yet how we’ll bolt such a heavy work of art to the wall to keep her up there, but I am also assured by Ray that it can, and will be done. Awesomeness! I’ve realized that my bucket list is made of more of a “to do list” of gathering those very important things from my youth and keeping them. Those things that are in my heart. Etched in my mind. Not re-living the past, but taking what I know and have learned over these fifty years and applying it to what is important, and now sharing that with our kids (oh yeah… marriage came with COUNT ‘EM FIVE boys). These are not fancy things. They don’t require a visa or a Visa. They are simple and yet monumental. My happy memories are in the bucket and I’m thrilled to say that my bucket overfloweth!
Happy memories. Happy bucket list. Happy spring! And remember, above all else…
be oh so very!