Summer Bucket List 2015: After

A few months ago I wrote a bucket list of things I wanted to do during my last summer in Salt Lake City. Here are my results with links and pictures and all the evidence necessary to somehow convince you that my summer was excellent.*

Montana Elkhorn St John Catholic Church_feistyharriet_July 2014

Summer Bucket List: 2015

  1. No tan lines or sun burns
    • Accomplished! A+ for Harriet! I have tubes of SPF 385 sunscreen in every possible location (medicine cabinet, car, purse, day pack, other purse, camera bag) and was really careful to apply liberally and without mercy on the regular.
  2. Say “yes” to adventure!
  3. Sleep under the stars
    • I spent two wonderful nights under the glorious sky in eastern Nevada, one of the darkest places on earth (i.e. least light pollution). Without a telescope or anything I could see jillions of stars, the Milky Way, the Perseid meteor shower, and even caught the International Space Station as it made it’s way around the world. I need more stars in my life.
  4. Hike to the top of a mountain, a big one
  5. Summer kick off bonfire
    • Yess! Friends! Campfire! S’Mores!
  6. Go to a rodeo
    • Yep, the longest-running rodeo in Arizona, in fact.
  7. Run a 10k
    • Kind of. Did I run 6.2 miles in one morning or evening? Yes, twice. But not in an official 10k. I’m counting this half-done.
  8. Go to the farmer’s market, make meal with purchases
    • Done and done!
  9. Make homemade ice cream
    • ….fail. Absolute fail. Recipes for huckelberry ice cream and basil ice cream are both waiting for me to procure said berries and herbs….sigh.
  10. Outdoor movie (either at the drive in, or in someone’s back yard)
    • That’s a negative. I was double booked on outdoor movie night, and a good friend in town from Oregon/Canada and her new baby won over Casino Royale in the backyard. I have only a few tiny regrets (because missing larger-than-life Daniel Craig always has attached regrets).
  11. Attend the wild flower festival
    • I was out of town for the actual festival, but I went up the week before and took a million pictures of all the gorgeous flowers on the ski slopes.
  12. Dust off my big camera, take more pictures
    • Dear Canon: Why do I forget how much I love you?!
  13. Spend as much time as possible in the mountains: hiking on school nights, camping on weekends, dinner in the canyon with friends
    • Yes, even though there are not terabytes of photographic evidence, I feel like I spent more time in the mountains this summer than I have in several summers…and it always calmed my heart and fed my soul. Also? My friends are delightfully awesome.

How was your summer? Did you fill it to the brim with adventures and friends and BBQs? Or did you hunker down and wait for it to be over?

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*For the record, my summer was fan-freaking-tastic! And yes, I do have trouble sometimes with self-imposed publishing deadlines, and yes I know it’s October and no, in fact, I do not care.

My life so far: a different kind of bucket list

This week I was thinking about bucket lists, lists for life, and while I was putting my own together it occurred to me that I probably have an enormous “already accomplished” list. Despite my lack of an overly stamped passport or nuanced social media feed, my 32 years have not been without adventure and accomplishment. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that, so here are the highlights, in list form because that’s how I roll.


  • Visit 41 states (another on the agenda for later this year)
  • Visit 14 National Parks (two more on the docket for this year)
  • Go on a cruise
  • Drive all the way across the country
  • Swim in the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans
  • Walk the Golden Gate bridge
  • Visit Niagara Falls
  • Solo long-distance road trip (a bunch, not a big deal)
  • Multi-day motorcycle trip


  • Ride on a mechanical bull
  • Earn SCUBA certification
  • Ride in a hot air balloon
  • Visit an active volcano (Hawaii’s Kilauea)
  • Scuba dive in an ancient collapsed volcano/caldera
  • Go snowmobiling
  • Go snow shoeing
  • Go snow skiing
  • Go water skiing
  • Stay in a yurt
  • Climb a mountain (several, big ones)
  • Go rock climbing
  • Eat escargot / oysters / bison / alligator / ostrich
  • White water rafting
  • Fish in the ocean (with actual octopus as bait, ew)
  • Geocaching
  • Sail on Lake Michigan
  • Learn to handle and shoot a gun
  • Do a somersault / cartwheel / back flip / front flip
  • Attend a Holi Festival of Colors celebration (the largest in the Western Hemisphere, btw)
  • Run a 5k / 10k

Spiritual Enlightenment

  • Make a religious pilgrimage
  • Read the Old Testament
  • Read the New Testament
  • Read the Koran
  • Read The Book of Mormon
  • Forgive those who have deeply hurt me
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter
  • Donate money to charity
  • Befriend a stranger (Hi, strangers!)
  • Buy a meal anonymously for someone

Personal Growth & Continuing Education

  • Fall in love
  • Elope (tell no one for months)
  • Be a mentor to someone
  • Learn to read music
  • Learn to play the piano (since I was 5ish, I can sight read most things)
  • Learn how to operate a DSLR camera, not in “manual” mode
  • Learn how to paint with oils
  • Read classic works in literature and politics
  • Speak in public to a crowd
  • Impromptu public speaking
  • Act in a play
  • Direct a play
  • Participate in community theater (as an actor and as a director)
  • Receive a standing ovation (not necessarily related to any of the above)
  • Volunteer with teenagers
  • Be interviewed by a major news station regarding something I’m passionate about (ages 12 and 31)
  • Learn to play chess
  • Learn American Sign Language
  • Learn to knit / crochet / sew
  • Read a jillion books on a thousand subjects

Life Things

  • Meet someone famous (Daniel Craig, Hugh Jackman–he called me a sweetheart!!–Chris Noth, Robert Redford)
  • Have the Bare Naked Ladies sing me “Happy Birthday” (age 19, woot!)
  • Attend a live Olympic event (Salt Lake, 2002)
  • Volunteer at the Olympics (Salt Lake, 2002)
  • Try eating vegetarian for an extended period of time (meh)
  • Gamble in Vegas (I won like $3.75)
  • Play the lottery (didn’t win anything)
  • Grow vegetables in a garden
  • Attend a major rivalry sporting event (meh)
  • Take ballroom dancing lessons
  • Bonfire on the beach / in the desert
  • Sleep on a trampoline
  • Keep a plant alive for more than a year
  • Ride a horse in the mountains
  • Watch the sunrise / sunset
  • Walk in the rain
  • Run on a beach barefoot
  • Go to a movie / dinner by yourself
  • Witness a solar / lunar eclipse
  • Sleep under the stars
  • Box seats at a sporting event (it’s the only way to attend a sporting event, really)
  • Season tickets to the symphony (not always, but once)
  • Attend a professional Broadway show (many, many times)
  • Make a gingerbread house from scratch (no hot glue, no graham crackers, no kit)
  • Pay off student loan

Sometimes it’s easy to think that you have missed out on X, Y, or Z. I find this especially the case after looking at some kind of social media where a friend, acquaintance, or total stranger has part of the life I thought I always wanted. It’s easy to forget that someone’s travel photos, or pics of their darling (clean, happy) children, or a status about a major adventure is not their entire life. They all have the hard, rotten days as well. And it’s also sometimes easy to forget that your experiences that did not make it onto social media for comments and hearts are also valid and worthwhile and have shaped who you are as a person.

What is on your Already Completed Bucket List? What are some of the best experiences of your life? What days are seared into your brain, what months and years changed the trajectory of your life or reshaped a goal or direction?

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Ya’ll, I have complaints. In fact, on any given day I have a list of complaints as long as my arm. Ok, that’s actually not really true. For the most part I’m not really a super complainer, not really. But sometimes…man, sometimes I just need to get it out. And that means you’ll get an ear-full or a feed-full of my rantiness in all it’s glory. Here is at least a small attempt to curb some of that ranting, at least the kind that doesn’t do any good.

What I want to stop complaining about:

1. Moving. I haven’t said much about it here (or really anything about it), but at the end of this year I am packing up my apartment, my beloved home I’ve lived in for 10 years, and moving 700 miles south to a city where I know exactly 6 people, 3 of whom are family and one who is only tangentially related (and a monster). I’m emotionally torn, but I also feel selfish for feeling that way. It’s my decision and after looking at all the pros and cons I know it is the best choice. However, for me the “pro” list only slightly outweighs the “con” list–and that makes the decision an emotionally difficult one.

2. A certain mico-managing colleague. And, in accordance with the wise law of dooce, I’ll just leave it at that.

3. My intolerable lady parts: graphic, bloody, TMI. Enough said.

4. My weight. This is 99% an internal complaint, and also a fairly recent development. I want to stop complaining and just fix the damn problem, all 40 pounds of it. I know how to do this (fewer cookies/boxes of pity-party macaroni and cheese, more exercise), but I somehow continue to eat the cookies and the pity mac and cheese and complain about my more rounded bits.

5. Oversharers, especially those on social media. Dear Harriet, just unfollow them. Stop complaining and stop allowing their annoying-to-you updates to clutter your feed. Just walk away.

What I will not stop complaining ranting lecturing educating everyone I meet about:

1. Feminism and the radical notion that women are people to and should be treated with a basic level of respect, equality, and kindness. This includes respect of images of women, words said by women, ideas put forth by women, and laws set down by women. “No” means “no” and “stop it!” means “stop it!” and “stop treating me like a set of boobs and legs” means “PAY ATTENTION TO SOMETHING OTHER THAN MY BODY!” I will yell about this my entire life, or until women have equal rights and opportunities and are treated with equal respect world-wide. So, my entire life. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

2. Equal rights and lack of prejudice against people who have a different skin color, religion, ethnic background, sexual preference, or political views than you. Stop it. Seriously, stop.

3. My intolerable lady parts: exploding ovarian cysts, endometriosis (newly diagnosed), excruciating doctor’s visits with TEN MILLION BIOPSIES TAKEN FROM INSIDE MY VAGINA!, and the general lack of control over super painful experiences inside my own body. I know I said I’d stop complaining about this I wanted to stop complaining about this, but no. I can’t. It’s just too much and too unfair to keep to myself. You’re welcome.

4. My love of hefty non-fiction and, therefore, my somewhat devil-may-care attitude towards YA fiction. Sorry/not sorry, but I can only intake so much fluff before I start to mentally float away and need something grounding, like evolutionary theory, or conditions in North Korea, or neuroscience, or economic practice, or whatever. And then I can’t won’t stop blabbering about all the cool stuff I learn in these books. I’m like a walking, talking, probably super annoying personal podcast. Again. You’re welcome.

5. Every year for several weeks I am loathe to go outside and enjoy the glorious spring sunshine and blooming flowers/trees because all of the flower/tree jizz gets up in my sinuses and creates a biological Niagara Falls, complete with sneezy, itchy eyes and a ridiculously high-dollar allowance for Kleenex with Lotion. I just, no. Not okay. Hear that, Nature? NOT OKAY! KEEP IT IN YOUR DAMN PLANTS!

So. What do you complain about? And what will you continue to complain about, come hell or high water?

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Inspired by ROE’s post at Giggles and Laundry.

If I had a million dollars: a list

I’m a list person, always have been, probably always will be. I make lists for everything you can imagine (and probably a few things you can’t imagine) and consider list-making a completely legitimate past-time. One of my very favorite day dreams is coming up with a list of what I would do or buy with the following sums of money: $100, $1,000, $10,000, $100,000, and $1,000,000.

Now, one of the rules of this day dream is that one cannot put these monies towards something boring and sensible like “my IRA” or “my future child’s future college tuition.” I realize that may be super exciting for some people, but it makes this game an exercise in Who Can Act Like The More Responsible Adult, and that’s just no fun whatsoever. My day dream, my rules.


Splurge on all new underwear – new undies is one of life’s greatest pleasures, I think, and I do not treat myself nearly often enough.


I am dreaming about a new mattress, I don’t even know if you can buy a really great one for $1,000, but I hope so. I want one that basically feels like you are sleeping on a cloud, or on a pile of feathers from angel’s wings. My back is about 30 years more decrepit than the rest of my body (thank you, car accident), and a mattress to counteract these pains on a nightly basis would be freaking amazing. Blue Eyes demanded new, high threat-count sheets a few weeks ago, and they have been totally dreamy. Adding a new mattress to that? I’m counting sheep already!


Wouldn’t it be lovely to take this kind of money and go on some kind of extended around-the-world trip? I mean, you could also blow it in a week in New York or London if you stayed in fancy hotels and ate at all the amazing restaurants and went to shows and such. But I’m thinking of something a lot more low key with the large expenses being airplane tickets and living on a minimal amount per day. Of course, I’d probably need about 3 months of leave from my job, but that obstacle is not the point of this day dream. I’d start in China and move through Nepal, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. If there was still money I’d head to Patagonia and work my way up South America with stops in Peru and an extended wander around the Caribbean. (Alternately, this would be just as amazing wandering around Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for 3 months, but that isn’t my first pick.)


This number breaks down into a couple of line items:

  • I would use this as tuition money for a Master’s degree. Lately I am leaning towards an advanced degree in Project Management because I feel it is marketable in a wide range of disciplines, yet also completely applicable to where I am right now. Now, to find the actual program.
  • I would buy Blue Eyes a Harley Davidson, and buy myself a fantastic set of leathers to ride with him (who knows, maybe I’d also go for my own motorcycle?).
  • New bedroom furniture; what we have is a mishmash of items that are either thrifted, handed down, or 15-year old IKEA-quality furniture. It’s time. (Yes, this could have been included in the $1,000 or $10,000 category, but, ultimately, I’d rather have a mattress and 3 months wandering the world instead of a new dresser, so that’s why it’s listed here.)
  • Probably also a fantastic international trip to somewhere amazing, with a few luxury things thrown in. I’m thinking Paris or Rome or Spain or something where living is kind of expensive and good living is even more. Sign me up!


A house. Absolutely, and with no question, a house. (Technically I could put a hefty down payment on a house with the $100,000 sum, but it’s my list and I’ll organize it as I want to.) I love where we live right now, I’ve been in this apartment for 7.5 years and in the same neighborhood for another 5. But I am ready for a garage, for a garden, my own washer and dryer, and walls that I can paint. I would LOVE to be rid of my yellow tile + minty aqua tub combination; I fantasize about white subway tile and in more than one tiny bathroom. Houses in my neighborhood are crazy-expensive, even for the lackluster fixer uppers and the ones that are nearly condemned. There are a few other neighborhoods in my current city that I would consider living, but the real estate there is nearly as expensive. I mean, Blue Eyes and I could easily find something we loved for considerably less than a million dollars, but the inevitable renovation and furnishings (see: 15-year old IKEA-quality furniture, above), and that sum suddenly seems much, much smaller. Components of a dream house for me would be a dedicated library room, and a living room large enough for a grand piano. And then also, a grand piano. (See how that $1,000,000 shrinks when you add a Steinway into the mix?)

With the leftovers, I’d like to buy some land in Montana, somewhere in the mountains. Maybe near Bozeman? Or perhaps the Bitterroot Valley? I’ve only been there once, but it is one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever seen. Those soaring snow-capped rocky mountains always will feel like home, even if they aren’t the mountains that guarded my own childhood (which, for the record, also feel like home, but a good-sized plot of land (i.e. more than an acre) at their base is not in the $1,000,000 budget. Seriously. It’s insane.)

So, how about you? How would you spend such sums? And please, even if you would probably sock it away in a retirement account, or pay down your mortgage….give me something FUN to chew on, mmmkay?

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