Why I Hate “Bucket Lists”




The term “bucket list” appears to have originated as a type of sorting algorithm in computer programming.

Since an eponymous 2007 film, it has come to stand for a checklist of things to do before one dies.

In any bookstore you can find tomes consisting of lists of things to do before you “kick the bucket.” Fifty Places to See Before You Die, or 100 pieces of music to hear before shuffling off this mortal coil.   A Hundred Books to Read before commencing to pine for the fjords.

Of course there are places I’d like to go with my children, and adventures I hope to be able to share with them.   I’d even like to be the kind of person who could parachute out of a plane or zip line through a rainforest, but none of my hopes and dreams in this life consists of solitary indulgence.

My problem is with parading around with “bucket lists”; I recoil from their premises.

Why? Continue reading “Why I Hate “Bucket Lists””

Weekly Photo Challenge: Family


Three years ago.

The crest of a hill down to a frozen pond that was part of the family home and land Jim nurtured.  At the left is one of three antique blue-green sheds which were settled on a slope in closely descending order of size (somewhat like the three children we had when we moved in).

The sturdy out-buildings were filled with the detritus of family life: outdoor games; sports equipment, including the soccer nets Jim built with the boys; the red tractor that appeared one day on a flatbed truck (“Um, I don’t remember ordering a tractor” I said to the delivery man who was asking for a check.  Jim forgot to mention the acquisition.).

An entire section of the largest shed was devoted to winter, including ice-skating and hockey equipment for those rare, perfect days when the pond would freeze glassy and smooth and a flash of gliding fish underneath the thick ice would thrill us.

It was the home where our children spent most of their school years, and the home where Jim died.

Three years ago, three generations of our family gathered on the hill, covered with a good foot-and-a-half of fresh snow.    Smaller cousins (and one of their moms) bore animal-shaped knitted mittens.  Jim trudged out with folding chairs so his parents could watch their children and grandchildren.  Older children took charge of younger ones.  The non-risk-averse built jumps and sailed over them, thunking upside-down in the snow in a spray of ice-blue nuggets and laughing to break the blanketing winter silence.


Many of us knew in a way that it would be the last time Jim was well enough even for such an outing at home.  

I’m certain Jim didn’t think of it that way, as he enjoyed every minute outside with his family.


(Weekly Photo Challenge) A Failure of Focus


I believe grief is often marked by a loss of focus (not to mention loss of physical objects).  

I am coming to believe that successfully navigating life with grief (as nearly all of us must do) involves regaining focus–on other people’s thoughts and demeanor, on work and recreation, and on what one may not have even noticed is fleetingly around us.

I took this photograph without actually looking at exactly what was being captured: while moving at a decent clip, I held the camera in my right hand, pointed it in a general direction, and pressed the button. What I actually saw was beautiful to me, and I wondered what an unfocused glimpse of it might look like.

Any takers?

For far more competent and serious photographers (and for those who enjoy viewing the work of such talented people) I want to share another series on the concept of focus.

Jim took these.  I’m including them because of course he can’t; he left his body of photography to me.  I wanted to share the type of “aha!” moment I get when I review his exceedingly deliberate changes of lens and aperture.

In these pictures, taken on the trip he took with our daughters, I could not even tell at first what he was trying to capture.  He was ahead of the curve, and knew that although he had to act quickly, by carefully running through different possibilities he’d eventually get the right shot:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love Most Fowl

Frigate (c) Jim Glennon 2010

The challenge this week is to find love in a photograph.

It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Except for crime scene photographs which make their way into my day job, not many pictures in my life fail to express love in some way.

Obvious candidates exist, including our few wedding photographs and abundant photographs of our children.

Instead I chose Jim’s albatross and frigate birds, and am hoping that by the time I finish this post I can explain why.

Book Galapagos_101221_247
Albatross (c) Jim Glennon

Continue reading “Weekly Photo Challenge: Love Most Fowl”

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