A Bigger Bucket

The darling pony I ride, Santa by name, has been lucky to be well taken care of most for his life, and to have jobs for which he is physically and temperamentally suited. That notwithstanding, he’s a good-sized guy (16.2hh), and he’s 22 years old. He’s at the stage where maintenance is ongoing, including periodic injections of joint juice in some weight bearing locations.

After those treatments, he has to take a few days low and slow, and my most recent ride was one of those days. We were scheduled for about 30 minutes of walk-toddle, though to be honest, some days that’s all I can manage, regardless of Santa’s situation. As we trundled around the arena, I was struck by how much maintenance I need these days. I’m fortunate to have mostly working parts, but keeping them that way…

As we finished a very unambitious trot set, I patted Santa on the neck, and realized… He and I aren’t that far away from eligibility for the Century Club. What is this? It’s an award given by the United States Dressage Foundation to any horse and rider pair whose combined ages equal or exceed 100 years, who can complete a dressage test at a horse show.

My bucket list doesn’t have that much on it, mostly because I’m very lucky. I have a job I love where work and play blend on the good days. The bad days don’t signify, compared to the many bad days I had as a child welfare attorney or working single mom. I’m healthy enough to do most of what I need and want to do (knock wood). I’m on good terms with family, I have good friends, and my readers are the best readers in the universe. Politics, finances, and climate change aside, my life is truly very sweet.

I’ve walked barefoot on a putting green (just something I wanted to do), and I’ve ridden on the beach in Ireland. I’m four states shy of visiting all fifty states, and the ones I have left–Alaska, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont–are gorgeous. But I did want to ride in Hyde Park some fine day. Given how much weight I’d have to lose, I’m not likely to ever check that box.

But I could qualify for the Century Club. If I keep riding, if I’m blessed with good ponies, if fate is kind, and the bad old tiddlywink doesn’t gobble up the scillery-scallery alligator… I could do a Century Club ride in a few years, and that wish feels like it belongs on my bucket list. It’s a participation award, and that is my objective at that phase of my life: To keep participating, to hang in there, to rage and laugh and curse and write against the dying of the light.

And Hyde Park can be the stretch goal, but for now… the Century Club goes onto my bucket list. Have you added or subtracted anything from your bucket list? Do you have one, however short? I’ll add three commenters to my ARC list for Yuletide Gems!

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33 comments on “A Bigger Bucket

  1. My main bucket list item was always to travel to Europe either on the Concorde SST or one of the Queen ocean liners, then take the Orient Express to southern Europe, then take a river boat back north, then return to the US via the method I hadn’t used to get to Europe. I had to modify that several years ago when the SST was taken out of service but I read someone is thinking of making a new SST (or something similar) so I may get to add it back to the bucket list, if it happens before the bucket topples over for me. I do know the Orient Express and river boat trip is still a possibility and I’d really like to do that at least. Oh, and visit Scotland, of course.

    • And visit Scotland of course! The neatest thing about the new supersonic jet is, it will be hydrogen powered. Virtually no carbon footprint. If it took twice as long to get there, I’d sign up for it just on that basis alone.

  2. My bucket list includes seeing the Northern Lights in all of their splendor. If I could combine with a trip to Skara Brae, that would be a double bucket dip.

    • I hope you get there. I’ve had the pleasure, and it’s a really well done presentation, just a hop, skip, and a jump from Maeshowe and the Ring of Brodgar. The more they excavate on Orkney, the more amazing the revelations.

  3. Having spent my early married life in Germany,my husband serving in the British army.We toured around most of Europe.A very diverse and pretty continent.Our children were born in Germany.When I retired ten years ago I decided to make a bucket list of travels within the U K.I had not been to Scotland ,Ireland or Wales or the North of England.So off I went,sometimes with friends sometimes solo.Using coach or train.I have not been disappointed I am coming to the end of the list I have Ireland booked for next May.Though this Winter is going to be a challenge I have that trip to look forward to.Also I have added new places to the list and hopefully I will be fit and well.We must be thankful for what we have in these troubled times.I can hear the tiny sparrows playing in the bushes and then dive bombing into the water fountain that I refreshed with clean water yesterday.Perfect.

    • Brenda, you know one of my Scottish friends said that in the UK, people were usually better at international travel than national travel. They’ll go to Mallorca and New Zealand and Budapest, and never see the Isle of Man or the Lakes. I’m so glad you are catching the local sights, and putting trips on the schedule to look forward to. I loved Ireland, and can’t wait to go back (after I go back to Scotland and England, of course…).

  4. I have a bucket list!

    1. To finish Lacis AKC championship. We have 2 outdoor shows in September which I plan to show her. If she doesn’t finish, she will be shown indoors with a handler. She’s almost 6 and I realized that I might not be able to finish her myself.

    2 to travel to England and Ireland before I retire.

    3 New kitchen…in progress.

    4 to walk 5 miles with out sweating…in progress.

    5 to finish Greg’s novice obedience title…removed.
    Laci has the obedience personality. Greg is happy with nose work

    Have a great week!.

    • “Nose work,” what a great term. I hope you do get to England and Ireland before retirement. The first few trips for me were reconnaissance, figuring out how I travel best, and hitting some highlights. (And working up to driving by myself.) I am soooooo lucky that I got to zip around as much as I did pre-pandemic, because those memories have been powerful comforts.

  5. Love the blog title! Most of my parts are in working order most of the time, but I’ve noticed a “hole in my bucket,” that means a few things in the bucket are no longer feasible. Just a trickle, atm.

    Man plans, God laughs.

    I appreciate the reminder to keep participating, to live, to adjust.

    • PS There’s something called an equicizer, a type of hobby horse. If you wanted Hyde Park, there are a bunch of eager augmented reality teams to give you the visual! No weight loss or airfare required. (And I know I’ve missed the point.)

    • Or in my case, yes, if I prioritized nothing else, I could make a Hyde Park ride happen, but would I have fun along the way? Probably not. I do like my dark chocolate and a tot of cream in my jasmine green tea.

  6. I have just 1 state left to cross off all 50, Alaska, my main bucket list item, some were removed due to a family loss, my cousin and I had planned some future trips together but her murder changed everything
    Good luck on your Dressage with Santa, Grace

    • I am so sorry that tragedy obliterated your plans. I hope when you go to Alaska (because you will and so will I), you have a sense of your cousin being with you in spirit.
      And the dressage is just an excuse to get on the pony. I see a lot of hacking out in our future once the weather cools off!

  7. I’d love to go on a big cruise ship to England, then travel to a few places I’ve learned some of my ancestors were from. Meanwhile I hope to visit a few places from NJ to Maine that ancestors lived.

    • Wellington scholar and writin’ buddy Kristine Hughes Patrone just took the QEII across the pond and it looked like terrific fun. Choice of pools, plenty of entertainment, great food, and the ship was not crowded… yet. I’d like to cross that way too some time, and get a taste of travel at a more relaxed pace.
      I hope you get to make the journey that way some time soon!

  8. I have subtracted going to the Rhinebeck Fiber Fair in the near future. Crowds are just too much for me. I do intend to go to a book conference next year and that will test my capacity for crowds.

    • You know, I have declined many invitations in the past year because, “I’m not keen on crowds…” and my definition of a crowd has become very conservative. On the one hand, I miss the novelty of new sights and people, but on the other… I’ve had long-haul COVID, and once was more than enough. Way more.
      Rhinebeck looks like great fun, and let’s hope it’s just on hiatus from your list, not stricken permanently.

  9. I haven’t really thought in terms of a bucket list in quite a while. Something I’ve always thought about doing is skydiving, but I’m not sure I’m brave enough to actually sign up…I think I’d probably have a heart attack on the way down! One thing I did have on my bucket list for years was to see the Northern Lights. Despite a cruise that took us to Alaska, and waking up multiple times each night to peer out of the cabin, I never did see them! So maybe that’s still on my list. Something more easily attainable is to return to England, this time with my husband. I traveled to England by myself twice as a young woman but hubby has never been there. I, too, am fortunate to have wonderful family and friends, I’m mostly retired, and I try to keep busy and (mostly) out of mischief. Stay safe. Stay well everyone!

    • I’d like to become conversant in even one. Decades ago, I studied several, and I’ve never had occasional to use them. Just a couple weeks in France and I was getting all sorta of ideas about Parlay-Vooing, or Sprechensie-Deutsching. Scottish Gaelic just looks tooooo hard.

      • I agree about Scottish Gaelic! I bought a couple of books awhile back because languages interest me and sometimes one sees Gaelic words in books and I wanted to know how to pronounce them.
        Well, delving into Gaelic was very short-lived in my house. LOL! Letters change pronunciation based on what comes before and after them… and possibly their position in the word. It became too cumbersome for a sentence or two in a few books! I didn’t give up the dream, but I put it at the end of the list. ;p
        I figured, the only way to really do it right would be to have a person walk me through and teach me. Maybe someday, right?! 😀

  10. I probably won’t ever run another marathon, but I have thought about working remotely during the school year so I can experience life in new places while still enjoying my city during the summer when it’s liveliest. So, more travel is definitely on my bucket list!

    • There’s actually data that says every marathon you run REDUCES your life expectancy, so maybe stick to the 10ks and be proud that you did check the marathon box?
      You might like the kind of travel my sister-in-law does: She climbed Kilimanjaro to celebrate her sixtieth, skied the Haute Route for kicks, and I think the last trip was Tierra Del Fuego… adventure travel. I admire the heck of her–from a safe and comfy distance!

  11. So heartening to hear of your potential Century Club qualification. Keep on keepin’ on, Grace. Good on ya!

    I am trying to be judicious in what I add to my bucket list these days. I find that the more expensive or “Stretch goal” things are coming off, as the economy shrinks. And largely I’m ok with that. There are plenty of other things that will make me happy instead, with a more modest outlay. Learning to be happy with what you’ve got is a marvelous thing.

    • What you said, and even when the means are on hand for the ambitious items, there’s always that foot note: As long as my health allows…. because at some point, health will probably become the non-negotiable limitation on everything, and then, like my mother, I will turn to books, audiobooks, and more books.

  12. The Century Club sounds like a great goal! I think you should also throw yourself a Party of the Century afterward in whatever form would feel the most congratulatory. High Tea in Scotland maybe?

    I would love to have a Bat Mitzvah. It will require a lot more time and energy than I currently have, even though our Humanist congregation doesn’t require learning Hebrew.

    • What a cool idea.
      Maybe think about the talk you’d give if you did have a Bat Mitzvah, who’d like to speak, who’d give the prayer of thanksgiving for your wisdom and maturity…? Might be an interesting thought-party.

      And yes, High Tea at the Dome. My sister and I enjoyed that once upon a time, and revisiting would be lovely.

  13. Most of the things on my bucket list are travel related. Between covid and my own health issues travel hasn’t been as much of an option as it was in the past. I’m hopeful there will be more opportunities soon. We have been saving.

    • I did not travel until I hit my fifties, and had both means and latitude to make the effort. It’s expensive and challenging, but a sort of cultural and emotional vitamin for me. All these great comments make me think that I really need to get that Alaskan cruise scheduled… soon.

      • Grace, and all of you that want Alaska, I hope you “make it so”. It is an incredible place. My husband and I got a great deal on a cruise and train package and the beauty is incredible! Herman Hesse writes in one of his poems about the mountains breathing…and I could feel them breathing – deep in my body and soul! And again…the beauty…
        I want to spend time in Hawaii every year! Despite having traveled quite a bit, it is my favorite place in the world. Hawaii literally sings to my soul and is a spiritual home for me. There is an amazing energy spectrum in the Pacific with Alaska at the top and Hawaii at the bottom with an emotional connection for me.
        For decades, I have wanted to spend a summer in Scotland! Hopefully in a year or two? Another place I feel connected to but have only read about it. (I nearly signed up to travel with you a few years back!)

  14. I’m taking a different stance since I retired this year. I’ve decided not to do what I’m SUPPOSED to do. I’ve been reacting and responding to other people’s expectations all my life and I need to first figure out if I’ve missed anything really worthwhile or do I just want to coast. Like a really long ski run that’s enjoyable and scenic rather than challenging. That’s what I want to do, just enjoy myself with no pressure. I’ve been a Type A, over-achieving perfectionist. It’s time to color outside the lines and not feel guilty. BTW, I’m currently rereading Andrew who has a great horse sidekick named Magic. I love the animals you incorporate into your stories. So much to learn from them.