The Mountain Times

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Miss Crabtree kicked the bucket

Say that line to any Boomer and you will get a laugh out loud (translated LOL to my younger readers). Miss Crabtree was the pretty blond school teacher in the Our Gang comedies. All the boys had a crush on her - Jackie, Chubsy, Stymie. There was a great episode when Miss Crabtree's brother came to visit her, but the boys mistook him for a boyfriend. They did their best to make her look awful because they were afraid she would marry the guy and they would lose a teacher - the same way they lost their beloved Miss Magillacuddy.

The gang sits around talking about all the ways they might lose Miss Crabtree. One of them laments that she could simply kick the bucket. The younger gang members are listening intently and later, when Miss Crabtree steps outside to give them each an apple, they ask her to literally "kick the bucket" they were standing on to look in the schoolroom window. She obliges, stubs the heck out of her toe and walks off limping. It's classic Hal Roach comedy.

Pretty much every Boomer has a bucket list, or at least knows what one is all about. Mine is kept in my head and is subject to change at any time. But I have friends who are much more organized than me. Their list is written down and it gets checked off each time they complete a task.

I recently visited the US National Whitewater Center outside Charlotte, NC.  I wasn't really sure what it was all about, but by the end of the day I was amazed and making promises to go back for a future visit. I was with a work team and this was a team building exercise. I really didn't have much notion about what I was in for - but I was game.

Shortly after our arrival, I was outfitted in a harness and helmet.

This can't be good.

We walked over to the climbing area. A makeshift rock dotted with hand and foot grasps. I looked up. It was really, really tall. We received strict instructions about all the things not to do - unless we wanted to incur serious injury. I approached the rock and started my ascent. I didn't get very far. I tried it again, same result. I was feeling disappointed in myself. I watched the others, who by the way were all much younger than me, scale the wall and ring the bell. Damn it.

Next we headed to the adventure course. Hmm, what did that mean? I heard the mention of a ropes course. Piece of cake. I facilitated ropes courses for the school district years ago. Umm, low ropes courses. When we arrived at the adventure course, again after the drill about how we could be seriously injured (hence the signed liability waiver), I looked up. Holy cow.

"How high up is that," I inquired. Twenty-five feet was the reply. We hiked the steps up to a landing and received more instruction, then were tethered by our harnesses. The instructions - "Once you get past this first section, there is no turning back."  I have to admit, I debated it.

For the next 30 minutes, I walked a tightrope of a cable while holding onto ropes in various positions. I didn't look down. I stared at my feet, breathed deeply and listened to my team members speak encouraging words. I made it, though my muscles were sore from being completely tensed the entire time. And when I descended the stairs back to solid ground, I felt a mixture of pride and relief well up in my chest. I freakin' did it.

This wasn't on the bucket list previously - but you can bet it's going on the checked off side. I also rode a half-mile long zip line over white water rapids. Yup, that's going on there as well.

There are some items that were previously on my bucket list that have gone by the wayside.  I don't think learning to play the piano is going to make the cut. A combination of no musical talent, a bit of arthritis sinking into the hands and the fact that I don't own a piano are all playing into that decision. Plus, if I can't ever play like Frank Chase, what's the point? I am also not sure about the ride in a hot air balloon, though it has not been completely crossed off yet. Reaching my goal weight is shaky, the trip to Australia is definitely crossed off and marrying a Beatle or a Bee Gee no longer has betting odds.

What remains emphatically on the list is writing a novel, hopefully the great American one.  Owning a Jeep Wrangler is still a keen possibility and winning the lottery will always remain on the list because we have to hope for something.  And last, but certainly not least, is growing old with someone I love. We are going to be that white-haired couple walking down the street holding hands. The ones who still talk over the dinner table, who put on Sinatra and dance in the living room and who finish each other's sentences. It's on the list. I just hope I can find him before Miss Crabtree kicks the bucket.

Tagged: Our Gang, Whitewater rafting