Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Checking Off an 8-Inch Item from My Bucket List

Sometimes life diverts us from our goals, but if we don’t ever set them, we risk reaching the finish line in life without having met any of them.

To me, a Bucket List isn’t a simple list of things you want to achieve in life, like completing one’s education or career goals.  I once gave a talk to a room full of folks & pointed out that “If we are lucky, very lucky, what’s going to happen to us is that we are going to get old, get sick & then die.”

If that’s my best scenario, I want to make sure that I approach my end with gusto, & I’ve left instructions that my headstone is to be inscribed “No Regrets.”  As I completed my seventh decade (count them; it means I'm not 80 for another 9+ years), BucketListing has become a big deal to me.  I enjoy contemplating what should be on my list, and researching new opportunities to have once-in-a-lifetime travels, as well as planning some repeat experiences.  No, you can't go to Paris for macaroons too many times!

I’ve already checked off a number of items on my own Bucket List, which contains both small & large goals, experiences that challenge and satisfy, and in some cases, terrify me (I’ll talk about shark diving some other time).  Sailing from Newport Beach, California North Carolina--yes, we took the shortcut through the Panama Canal--was a lovely years-long journey I shared with my late husband, Rocket Man, & I’ll never regret devoting several years to checking that item off our mutual Bucket List.  I wouldn’t sell my cherished memories of those years on Yankee Rogue, our Fantasia cutter-rigged sloop, for any amount of money.

An item I checked off my Bucket List last year was a simple, but long-held, dream.  I wanted to learn to use a lathe and make myself a wooden bowl, & I finally did just that.  When I was growing up, girls didn’t even know they could want to do woodworking. My father was an accomplished weekend woodworker, but more than half a century ago neither one of us realized that was something he could teach me.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Aydelette
It was long after retirement I bought my first power tool bigger than a Dremel.  It was a stunningly gorgeous German-made Hegner scrollsaw, the sight of which still makes my heart go pitter-pat. I t was a running joke in my marriage that my husband always referred to it as “that saw you won’t tell me how much it cost,” but after that I started getting the best gifts ever--a huge bandsaw, a dual disc/belt sander, & best of all, a floor model drill press.  Oh, and Forstner bits fit for the finest Christmas stocking!  I repeatedly told my Rocket Man that he was lucky indeed to have wed a woman who didn’t like champagne, didn’t wear jewelry, was allergic to fur, and asked for power tools for Christmas.

However, the one tool that eluded me was a wood lathe. I had actually bought one for myself, but before I could even remove it from the box, Hurricane Isabel destroyed it in 2003.  Other life circumstances intervened, and until last year I wasn’t able to replace it.

I like to do research, so I have read books and watched videos on woodturning, and took an introductory class on using a lathe. Then  I had the opportunity to take a one-day class from a master woodturner who was visiting Chapel Hill. I even booked a hotel for the prior evening so I wouldn’t risk missing even a minute of class time by having to commute so far.  I didn’t have my own woodturning tools, but the owner of the shop where the class was held kindly lent me tools and taught me how to sharpen them. I was even invited back for a lesson on how to make most of my own tools.

I left late that lovely spring afternoon with an imperfect, but immediately beloved, bowl made from a chunk of Red Maple. Although I technically checked off using a lathe to make a wooden bowl from my Bucket List, I also carried home with me a passion for learning to make all sorts of items with a lathe. A real bonus was meeting other folks who share my love of sawdust.

Not everyone appreciates my simple 8-inch bowl. When I tried to show it off to a grown granddaughter her response was “And it took you all day to make that?”  No dear, it took me 69-1/2 years to create that sweetly proportioned bowl.  However, the next one won’t take nearly so long.

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