Sunday, September 30, 2007

Life List Day 195 - A Taste of Hermosa

Oops, I realize I forgot to post one day & got messed up on the order of things, so now I'm correcting it.

Anyway, today I went to something called A Taste of Hermosa, which was a fair where you could buy small servings of food from local restaurants. I see these types of events advertised here and there- always mean to go to them - so this time I finally did. It was just down the street...literally a three minute walk.

I figured I'd make dinner out of it but, as it turned out, I got there so late most of the food was gone. I guess the early bird gets the fish taco. I had to settle for salad.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Life List Day 194 - Go to a Fundraising Car Wash

My son's football team and cheer squad held a car wash today to raise funds. Pathetic as this sounds, I paid for my wash but almost didn't do it because it sort of creeped me out. Basically, you had to drive your car along a path filled with kids who at different points soaped, rinsed, squeegied and dried it. I didn't like the idea of all these people mobbing my car while I was alone on the inside.

I did it anyway and, as it turned out, it WAS a little odd - like being attacked by locusts, only in Quicksilver tshirts.

But it was also very cute, all that teenagery industriousness... and worth the five bucks alone just to see my son toiling without it being me who told him to.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Life List Day 193 - Girls' Night Out

Woo hoo! Today, four of us moms hit the town to see Greg Behrendt, (the guy who wrote that book He's Just Not That Into You) performing live comedy.

I was afraid he might be corny, but he was actually hilarous - my stomach muscles hurt by the end of the night from all the laughing. So I wonder, does that count as a workout?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Life List Day 192 - Find Out My Health Care Maximum

Michael Moore was on Oprah today, talking about his movie Sicko and the issue of health care coverage in America. Since I'm self-employed, I have to pay for my own health insurance - and let me say, it's no bargain, even for the crappy HMO I signed up for.

Anyway, Oprah mentioned on the show that it's important you know your health care limit - that some insurance companies cap your coverage at, say, $150,000, which doesn't go very far if you become seriously ill.

So the second the show was over, I called my insurance company and asked what my maximum coverage is.

Apparently, mine is "unlimited," and so is my son's.

That's a nice little piece of mind, although I know I should be more responsible about knowing exactly what I am signed up for, God forbid (knock wood and all that) I ever really do need it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Life List Day 191 - Get a Taste of Local Politics

My friend Janice was hosting a "meet and greet" with Michael DiVirgilio, a candidate for Hermosa Beach city council. I wasn't planning on going, but she pressured me with the magic words: "I'll bet you've never been to a political meet & greet before. You can put it on your life list!"

I'm so easily manipulated.

Anyway, I meeted & greeted...had a glass of wine...and chatted about local issues like street repair, drunks peeing on buildings, neighborhood safety and other issues that make up the day-to-day issues of a small beach town.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Life List Day 190 - Watch AFI's Top 100 Films...And a Promise

OK, this is going to be a a long-term one, but I watched a show tonight that blew me away. It was AFI's top 100 films of all time. I've seen a handful of them - read many of the books without seeing the movies - but I got really excited about the idea of seeing them. I put a * by the ones I've seen (26 out of 100). I'm totally excited about seeing the rest. What have YOU seen?

3 CASABLANCA (1942) *
4 RAGING BULL (1980)
6 GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) read the book
9 VERTIGO (1958) 61 52
10 WIZARD OF OZ, THE (1939) * and read the book
11 CITY LIGHTS (1931)
12 SEARCHERS, THE (1956)
13 STAR WARS (1977) *
14 PSYCHO (1960)
15 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
17 GRADUATE, THE (1967) *
18 GENERAL, THE (1927)
21 CHINATOWN (1974)
22 SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) *
23 GRAPES OF WRATH, THE (1940) (read the book)
25 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) (read the book)
27 HIGH NOON (1952)
28 ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
35 ANNIE HALL (1977) *
36 BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, THE (1957) * but want to see it again
40 SOUND OF MUSIC, THE (1965) *
41 KING KONG (1933)
45 SHANE (1953)
48 REAR WINDOW (1954) *
51 WEST SIDE STORY (1961) *
52 TAXI DRIVER (1976)
53 DEER HUNTER, THE (1978)
54 M*A*S*H (1970)
56 JAWS (1975) *
57 ROCKY (1976) *
58 GOLD RUSH, THE (1925
59 NASHVILLE (1975)
60 DUCK SOUP (1933)
63 CABARET (1972)
64 NETWORK (1976)
68 UNFORGIVEN (1992)
69 TOOTSIE (1982) *
70 CLOCKWORK ORANGE, A (1971) * wish I hadn't...super upsetting
72 SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, THE (1994) ***********LOVE!!!
76 FORREST GUMP (1994) *
78 MODERN TIMES (1936)
79 WILD BUNCH, THE (1969)
80 APARTMENT, THE (1960) *
81 SPARTACUS (1960)
82 SUNRISE (1927)
83 TITANIC (1997) *
84 EASY RIDER (1969)
86 PLATOON (1986)
87 12 ANGRY MEN (1957)
89 SIXTH SENSE, THE (1999) *
90 SWING TIME (1936)
92 GOODFELLAS (1990)
94 PULP FICTION (1994) *
97 BLADE RUNNER (1982)
99 TOY STORY (1995) *
100 BEN-HUR (1959)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Life List Day 189 - Try Cherimoya

I've been wanting to try one of these forever. Back when I worked in the rideshare office, I remember the gals in the breakroom oohing and ahhing over them when they'd be in season.

So today, I tried a Cherimoya ($3.97 for one about the size of an apple, which I purchased at's the first time I've seen them there). I just cut it in half and dug in with a spoon, as if I were eating a yogurt.

YUM! It was sort of custardy, and tasted surprisingly tropical - I'd expected appley and got mangoey.

Those seeds were a nuisance but, overall, a fun, fruity experience.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Life List Day 188 - Lucy, Lucy, Mike, Jasper, Janelle

OK, nothing earth shattering, but the above-mentioned people I haven't seen in far too long, and after much back & forth, I finally got them down for a visit. I tend to get in ruts inviting the same people over again & again, so it was great reconnecting with old (and by old, I mean VALUED, not wrinkly) friends.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Life List Day 187 - Make a Fire On a Cold, Rainy Morning

This morning was cold & rainy - just the kind of day to curl up in front of a fire.

And, as luck would have it, I now have a fireplace.

So even though it was only 10 AM, I made myself a roaring fire (you've got to admit, it's a beauty!)

Good thing I didn't wait - by 2 PM the storm blew off and I would have missed out on all that coziness.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Life List Day 186 - Eat Wonder Bread

I recently heard that the Wonder company declared bankruptcy. Today, feeling nostalgic (and to the delight of my son, who normally only gets whole grain) I bought a loaf of white Wonder bread.

When I got home, I ate a piece in the way Wonder bread should be eaten: crusts pulled off and the soft bready part wadded up into a ball until it forms a dough.

I have to say, it's still good!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Life List Day 185 - Arrrrgh! Celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day ... a Day Late

I forgot all about my favorite holiday, Talk Like a Pirate Day
yesterday, Sept. 19, because I was in Vegas...staying at, ironically enough, Treasure Island.

Today, I figured better late than never, so I did what I always do to celebrate the day: grab a bag of Pirate's Booty, watch Pirates of the Caribbean, and exchange bad pirate jokes with my son, i.e.,

What are a pirate's favorite kind of socks?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Life List Day 184 - Go to Vegas to See My Mom

My mom was making her first trip to Las Vegas with some friends (from Michigan), and - even though the timing was bad for me for a thousand reasons - I made the drive up to see her anyway. With traffic, it was a six-hour trip each way. Yes, that's TWELVE hours of driving in about a 24-hour period.

I don't get to see my mom nearly enough - so it was totally worth it to get to party with her and her friends, even if just for a few hours.

I'd say more about it, but you know what they say about what happens in Vegas...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Life List Day 183 - Indulge My Son's Idea to Make a Calvin & Hobbes Quiz

Somehow Danny and I got in contest quizzing each other about Calvin and Hobbes trivia (best comic strip EVER!!), when he said, "Hey, you should put a quiz in your blog." Because I'm starved for any scrap of interest my son shows in me, I took him up on his idea. (I'm not sure how "life listy" this is, but we had fun making it, so as far as I'm concerned, it counts!)

Calvin and Hobbes Quiz
By Jill & Danny

1. In the first Calvin & Hobbes strip, what does Calvin use to lure Hobbes into his net?
2. What’s Susie’s last name?
3. When Calvin plays with a box, it has different functions based on where its opening is – what’s the function for the box when it’s open to the bottom, to the top and to the side?
4. What’s Calvin’s favorite game, in which the only rule is that you can never play the same way twice?
5. What does Calvin’s club name GROSS stand for?
6. What’s Calvin’s teacher’s name?
7. When Calvin puts on a cape, what’s the name of the superhero he becomes?
8. Who wrote Calvin & Hobbes?
9. What’s Calvin’s favorite bedtime book?
10. What did Calvin save up cereal boxtops for and wait for with great anticipation?
11. What’s Calvin’s favorite cereal?
12. What is the noodle incident?
13. Calvin finds an injured animal that eventually dies – what kind of animal was it?
14. How old is Calvin?
15. According to one of the Calvin and Hobbes book titles, what is the noise that scientific progress makes?
16. What name does school bully Moe sometimes call Calvin?
17. The strip ended in 1995- what were the last three words Calvin spoke?


1. A tuna fish sandwich
2. Derkins
2. Bottom is transmorgrifier, top is time machine and side is duplicator
4. Calvinball
5. Get Rid Of Slimy girlS
6. Miss Wormwood
7. Stupendous Man
8. Bill Watterson
9. Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie
10. A propeller beanie
11. Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs
12. It’s only alluded to but it’s never explained
13. A raccoon
14. Six
15. Boink
16. Twinkie
17. “Let’s go exploring”

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Life List Day 182 - Put Flowers in My Salad

I was invited to a friend's for dinner tonight, and I planned to bring one of my favorite salads: mixed greens, goat cheese, sweetened almonds, dried cherries and a vinegarette dressing.

While I was shopping for ingredients, I noticed a pack of "edible flowers" in the produce section.

I've never eaten flowers before, so I bought them to add to the salad.

They didn't add much in the line of taste, but they sure made it prettier!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Day 181 - After Karaoke Plans Are Thwarted, I Film My Rodents Instead

I went to my friend Janice's block party today, excited because the invitation said there'd be karaoke - which I've never done - so there'd be one for my life list. After all, I don't live on that block - what do I care if I torture them with my singing voice?

Alas, the karaoke guy showed up late and ultimately pimped out. No karaoke. A life list crisis. That's the problem with this doing something new every day: If the thing I had planned falls through, then what?

I got home about 10 PM, trying to figure out some little nugget of joy I could find that might qualify for my list. Then it hit me: when I think "joy," I think of my guinea pigs, Joan and Scruffy. They're cuddly, squeaky, and no one else in this house is ever nearly as excited to see me as they always seem to be.

I've been meaning to film them forever. After all, the life span of a rodent isn't all that long (3-5 years is average). Every now and then when they're not as noisy as usual, I tiptoe over to their cage, dreading that all might not be well. I'd never forgive myself if I didn't document their cuteness.

So tonight, that's what I did.

Here's a little sample:

Joan and Scruffy Star in "Sibling Rivalry"

Friday, September 14, 2007

Life List Day 180 - Tour Camarillo, CA

I was up in Camarillo to meet with a book club and - since I got there early - my friend, Monica (who is from there & whose mom's book club we were going to) toured me around the town for a couple hours.

It felt like one of Huell Howser's shows...where he visits seemingly ordinary places in California and uncovers their secret charms. I only knew about Camarillo as the home of outlet malls, so I was pleasantly surprised at all the cute old buildings, sweeping farms, and interesting twists and turns.

Plus, coming from a beach town where things are always bustling, it was strange to see that not that far from home is a place that actually gets dark at night...and utterly soundless.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Life List Day 179 - Sleep on My Back

My back's been feeling a bit twingey lately, so I finally decided to follow the advice of the chiropractor I saw several years ago: Sleep on my back.

Here's my usual favorite sleep position (only substitute a pillow for the weapon, and put me in jammies):

I have to say, it was really hard to sleep on my back. Everything in me wanted to flip over.

I stuck with it, and eventually I did sleep...only to wake up on my stomach again around 3 AM.

I gave sleeping on my back one more try, but when I woke up at 5 AM again on my stomach, it just felt too good to give up.

Ah, well...I figure it'll take getting used to. I'll try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Life List Day 178 - Triple Feature

I could also call this "why I'm behind on my deadlines..."

Today, I rented The Bourne Identity - which I've never seen - because my son said he heard it was good. While I was at the video store, I also grabbed Grosse Pointe Blank and Serenity, figuring I'd watch them another time.

Instead, I parked my butt on the couch and watched them back to back to back.

I haven't done that since...well, probably ever!

It inspired me to think of my ultimate Triple Feature, which was hard because there are so many movies I love for different reasons.

After much deliberation, here's the top 3:

Pride & Prejudice, The Shawshank Redemption and Groundhog Day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Life List Day 177 - Two for 9/11

It's impossible for me to think about things to do to get more out of my life without pausing to think about people whose lives were forever changed six years ago today.

It's not much, but here are two little things I did to commemorate the day:

1. Went to a site called, where you're urged to "Post your good deed plans for 9/11." One of their suggestions was making an appointment to give blood - something I've been meaning to do for quite a while now. So I called my local hospital and did just that.

2. On Day 85 of my life list, I signed up to sponsor a woman affected by war through Women for Women International, and while I've been paying the sponsorship money monthly, I have yet to write to my sponsor sister. Today, I'm writing that letter. I've been matched with a 50-year-old married woman named Maraim in Afghanistan with 10 children. On her sponsorship application, she checked as her desires, among other things, developing vocational skills, becoming more active in family decision-making and learning about her rights. Considering that, I believe the gyst of my letter will be, "You go, girl."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Life List Day 176 - Buy Candy from a Kid

I say this at the risk of being swarmed by Girl Scouts, but a while back I thought to myself, "I should try to buy from every child who approaches me selling something." After all, I spent enough years peddling band candy and (of all things) boxes of grapefruit to raise funds. It's never more than a couple bucks here or why do I so often breeze past these kids, averting my eyes and giving them a weak, "Not now, thanks?"

Today, a teenager was outside Office Depot, selling candy from a cardboard box at $5 a pack to "help keep kids off drugs" as part of "Harbor schools."

My rip-off alarms were sounding: What's to stop a kid from buying $20 worth of candy and - under the guise of charity - flipping it for an $80 profit?

Then I said, Who cares? It's $5.

So I bought a pack of Snickers, which I neither wanted or needed, but another teenager - the one sitting in the car who'd just finished football practice and was waiting not-so-patiently for his mom to finish her errand so he could get home and shower - was quite happy with my new-found sense of benevolence.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Life List Day 175 - Sunset

Of course this isn't a first: I've seen a sunset before.

But I sure do take them for granted.

The other day, I was walking down the beach at 7-ish and from the corner of my eye I noticed the sun was setting and... I ... didn't ...bother.... turning ...

So tonight on my walk, I glanced to the side, saw a huge burning orb sinking into the water, and I FORCED myself to stop, sit on the sand, and watch it sink.


Took all of two minutes.

I should REALLY do this more often.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Life List Day 174 - Try an Open House Again

Earlier in my life list experiment, I decided to check out an open house - only to walk away from what I thought would be some fun snooping feeling depressed that homes are so pricey in California.

Today, I decided to visit an open house again.

This time: a new 2 1/2 million dollar "Tuscan Villa" two houses down from where I'm currently renting. 3,000 square feet. Four levels. Elevator.

I told the realtor, "Just being nosey!" when I walked in so he didn't get his hopes up (although everything I was wearing was from Target, so I'm not sure I was exactly exuding that millionaire vibe).

This time, instead of being deflated, I kept thinking about how - even though it's smaller and about a hundred years older - I much prefer where I'm living to this place.

It's a first for me - loving where I live. Sure, I'm only renting so it's not forever.

But then again, what is?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Life List Day 173 - Learn a Bit About Football

My son just joined his school's football team, which means I'm now in the bleachers, cheering him on as he stands on the sidelines. (Hey, they'll let anyone JOIN, but that doesn't mean they'll let him play.)

I don't know anything about football, and I never felt a burning urge to change that.

Until now.

If my video game-loving son could get off his butt and risk peer ridicule to take on a sport he knows nothing about, I could show my support for his efforts by showing some interest in what's going on.

I bought this book (and BTW, I hate those "for dummies" titles, but I heard they're quite well written, even if insultingly named).

Today I read Chapter 1: Football 101. I don't expect to be wearing cheese on my head or painting my face in my team's colors any time soon, but maybe I can at least fake it well enough to let my son know how proud I am of him.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Life List Day 172 - Stop and Smell the Roses

Today - a day when I had a backlog of writing to catch up on, my writing group coming over, my son's first football game, and a list a mile long of errands to complete - I made it a point to stop and smell the roses...literally.

They're in my front yard. The people before me planted them, and they're opening up quite spectacularly.

I wasn't really expecting them to smell like much (the ones from the market never do), so color me delighted when, in fact, they smelled strongly of...of...roses, by golly! It's a fragrance I only recalled upon encountering it - kind of like how the taste of a garden tomato can take you by surprise if you've been subsisting on the store-bought kind.

All in all, about 10 seconds of pleasure...and in such a crazy busy day, that's 10 seconds more than I would have had otherwise.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Life List Day 170 and 171 - Ugh, Baby Myself? Give Myself a Break? Admit I'm SICK?!?

Yuk. I'm sick. I thought it was a hangover at first, but JEEZ I didn't drink that much. Now I'm suspecting food poisoning, a result of BBQing in the pitch dark. Undercooked chicken. Oopsie. for my life list... this is supposed to be joyful & a growing experience, not a death march. I'm cutting myself some slack for these two days - hence calling it "baby myself" and "give myself a break."

Tomorrow, I"m back on track.

I don't consider it a failure or a loss of momentum - just one of those things in life that comes up (errgh, not that I want to talk about things "coming up" right now).

Onward, forward, fellow life-listers...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Life List Day 169 - Find My First Grade Teacher and Write Her a Letter

I credit my first grade teacher, Mrs. Greta Lipson of Oxford Elementary School in Berkley, MI, with planting the desire in me to be a writer. It was in first grade that I was invited to represent my class at a Young Author's Conference run by the local university - a big hoo-ha that involved a day off of school, a lot of attention, and free cookies. If it weren't for Mrs. Lipson's enthusiasm, (and those cookies) I wonder if I'd have set on this particular path in life.

Today, I wrote her a letter of thanks, and then tried to find her on the Internet so I could send it to her (along with a copy of my novel).

Amazingly, I found a Greta Lipson almost right away: someone who looks very much like I remembered her looking (40 years ago!), based in Michigan, and author of many books on teaching and getting kids excited about writing and reading.

Hmm. How is it possible that - living in a little suburb of Detroit, MI - I'd stumble across an expert in the field of writing as a primary school teacher? Fate is a funny thing. I wonder if she'd been an expert in the field of medicine if I'd be doing open heart surgery right now instead of writing. I doubt she had any idea the impact she made on me.

Anyway, a book - and a heart-felt note of thanks - are on their way to her.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Life List Day 168 - Stroll My Favorite Crafts Fair

There's a crafts fair steps from where I live by the beach. Today, I met up with friends and took in the fair...nothing new, but - on a perfect, sunny, hot, holiday day - definitely something enjoyable.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Life List Day 167 - Turn a "Hey, Let's Some Day..." Into a "Now"

There's a craft fair steps from my new house every Memorial Day weekend, and I was out for a stroll - trying not to look at anything because I'm planning to go tomorrow with friends - when I bumped into someone I haven't seen in years.

We chatted a bit, exchanged phone numbers, and said, "Let's get together soon..."

I was about to leave when I thought, "I'd really like to talk with her more. Soon never happens if you leave it at that." So I turned back and said, "You doing anything now? I'm right up the street."

She couldn't make it, but we did set a time for a few hours later ... a real get-together time that we DID keep.

As a writer, I have some serious troll-like tendencies: I'd gladly curl up in my room and bury myself in books all day. This life list has been great for pushing me out, and today was another step in creating more balance in my life.