Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Life List Day 224 - Watch a Scary Movie

I haven't watched a scary movie in ages because, frankly, I get spooked enough by things going bump in the night without a movie adding to my imagination.

Today, I decided to be a big, brave girl and watch one.

I tried to get Psycho - may as well go with a classic (which I've never seen) - but I went to three video stores and nobody had it, so I got the movie 1408 instead. It's new to DVD, is based on a Stephen King story, and stars John Cusack (I figured if I was making myself sit through a scary movie, I may as well treat myself to John Cusack). Basically, a writer who writes about scary places to visit insists (against warnings from the hotel manager, played by Samuel L. Jackson) on staying in room 1408, which he'd heard was haunted.

It was pretty good but, really, not that scary - it reminded me of The Shining, but minus the really creepy kid and that lady in the tub (I STILL can't stand a closed shower curtain for fear of what might be behind it).

A fun surprise: The main character happened to live in Hermosa Beach, the little town where I live. I was watching and there was my post office, and my local bar, some nearby streets...and all I could think was, John Cusack was in town and I missed it!?!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Life List Day 222 - Go to a Pumpkin Roll

Today for my list list, I went to a "pumpkin roll" in Manhattan Beach, which was described as a race in which people rolled pumpkins down one of the major city streets that leads to the beach.

My first instinct had been to participate, but I wasn't entirely clear on what a pumpkin roll WAS, so I figured this year I'd just spectate.

I should have brought a pumpkin and raced. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

It was so mobbed I could hardly tell what was going on, but apparently a pumpkin roll involves decorated pumpkins placed on wheels and thrust down the street.

It was all very dorky and silly - just the sort of thing I love being part of, hence my disappointment that I hadn't looked into it more thoroughly & participated.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Life List Day 220 - Shop for Produce Locally

Inspired by the book I'm reading, Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan - which looks at how the dominance of "industrial farming" is affecting our health and our world - I decided to finally check out the local farmers market, which is every Friday noon to 4 p.m. The market promises "fruits and vegetables that are fresh picked, vine and tree ripened, and sold by certified farmers who grow the products at local farms."

I was overwhelmed by the tables and tables of heaping, unwashed food (I'm soooooooo spoiled by "salad in a bag" and Trader Joe's semi-prepared foods).

I bought some assorted vegetables. If I actually wash and eat them, I may just try the market again. It made me feel so supportive of my local farmers.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Life List Day 219 - Buy 800 Threadcount Pillowcases

I have a feeling the next few days of my life list will be fairly uninspired: the ashy air is making me a giant sneezy, wheezy ball of snot. If I can hardly breathe here at the beach, I can't imagine how people closer to the fires are faring.

Anyway, today I decided that my delicate face might enjoy sleeping up against a softer pillowcase (which is an indication of how well my experiment to sleep on my back is going...sigh). I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and bought some 800 threadcount pillowcases. They were pricey - $49 for two standard pillowcases - but I decided I'm worth it.

I haven't slept on them yet, but I held them against my face ... they make my old pillowcases feel like burlap sacks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Life List Day 218 - Stare at the Strangest Ocean I've Ever Seen

Today, I was driving home from an errand at about 6 p.m.- thinking how I hadn't yet done anything for my life list - when I came up over a hill, and in front of me - because of the effects of the wildfires - was the strangest ocean view I've seen in the 20-some years I've lived in California. I was actually in a rush to get home, but I stopped, pulled into a parking lot, and walked to the shore, utterly mesmerized.

I don't even know how to describe it, but I'll try.

The sun was the first thing I noticed - you couldn't miss it - this blazing red ball suspended in the sky.

But EVERYTHING was strange. The sky and ocean seemed to blend together in this crazy puttyish hue with streaks of red - soot, I know, but muted so it didn't seem like pollution but, rather, that the world was wearing a different color for the day. And the water was so still. It looked like a flat expanse of mud, where I could just walk out to the two big tankers floating in the distance. Dolphins jumped from the water, and pterodactyl-sized pelicans were dive-bombing for fish.

The whole thing was so surreal and sort of "land before time."

Anyway, it got me to thinking how just a few miles up the coast and inland from me, fires were still burning, people were losing their homes, and some really pretty areas were being destroyed. I didn't have to turn on the TV to see it because - in an odd way - I was witnessing it right here.

Of course, then I started blubbering.

What can I say? I'm a big ol' crybaby.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Life List Day 217 - See Wicked

Tonight, I went with my friend Michele to see the musical Wicked at the Pantages Theater. It's not something I'd normally do (I'm not big on musicals) but my friend said she's been wanting to see it, and I thought, "what the heck."

Actually, I read the book Wicked - which I loved - but wondered how on earth they were going to make play out of it without making everyone leave and slit their wrists. It wasn't exactly a cheery tale.

To my surprise, the play was funny, and a salute to friendship. The production numbers were entertaining, and whenever I see live theater I'm always amazed how these people can remember all their lines...plus sing them! I enjoyed myself quite a bit (although word to the guy in front of me with the world's largest head: SIT STILL).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Life List Day 216 - Lunch by Myself on My Patio

I moved into a beach house two months ago, and the best part about it is the patio. I've entertained like crazy on that patio. That patio is the reason I'm paying way more than I should. I totally love it.

I realized - as much as I've partied on evenings and weekends and during the day with others - I've never gone out there alone on a weekday & just enjoyed it.

Today, I did.

I made a Greek Salad, grabbed a book (Omnivore's Dilemma) and had myself a lovely lunch break.

I may have to make that patio a regular thing.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Life List Day 215 - Make a Mummy

I'm getting into the Halloween spirit & decided to try a new recipe idea that I read about online: Mummies made with hog dogs and crescent roll dough.

Here's the finished product!

Basically, all I did was wrap a roll around a dog, cook it at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes, and add dots of mustard for the eyes.

I think they look pretty mummyish.

My son proclaimed them absolutely delicious - but he may just be saying that to be nice because he loves his mummy.

(Sorry...couldn't resist.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Life List Day 214 - Go to a Clean House Garage Sale

Today I was sitting at a traffic light near my house when I noticed a sign for a garage sale...but not just any garage sale: One for the TV show Clean House on the Style Network. Immediately I was all atwitter - it's one of my favorite shows! Basically, a team of experts goes into the house of someone with an extraordinary amount of clutter, makes them get rid of stuff at a garage sale, and then uses the profits to decorate their house.

I raced home, threw on some makeup (just in case I wound up on TV), and headed over to the sale.

It was almost noon when I got there, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they had good stuff there earlier, because what a bunch of crap! I'd expected it to be mobbed, but there was just a handful of other shoppers.

Still, it was exciting - I saw the host Niecy Nash get into a van (if I'd have been even a minute later I'd have missed her), camera crews were everywhere, and the other "stars" Mark Brunetz (pictured above running some of his lines) and "Yard Sale Diva" Trish Suhr were there.

I chatted with the homeowners (who seemed shellshocked and exhausted) and made a point to buy something ($5 for a 5-CD set of jazz greats and a pyrex bowl) just so I could feel like I participated.

They weren't filming any shoppers at that point so I won't be on TV, but I can't wait to see the episode air!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Life List Day 213 - Go to Grow Market

There's a new produce store in Manhattan Beach everybody's talking about called Grow. Today, I finally got around to checking it out.

I've never seen such a tiny, perfect, clean little market in my life. I swear they must polish the vegetables. Of course, the prices reflected how pristine it was: kind of like when you go into some fashion boutique that only has a few racks of clothes and you know a sweater probably costs $3,000.

Actually, that's about what I paid for a pack of strawberries and raspberries.

OK, I paid $10, but still. $10!

They sure were perfect-looking though.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Life List Day 212 - See the Dixie Chicks and the Eagles in Concert

Loved it loved it loved it.

I can't remember the last time I went to a concert where I knew every song (and where everybody there was my age or older).

Anyway, the Chicks were awesome, as expected, at least by me.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the Eagles. It was touch and go for a while - they opened with four songs from their new album and I feared they were doing that "we're tired of doing our old stuff, we've moved on" garbage - but then they moved into Hotel California (my favorite) & pretty much rocked the haaaouse after that.

Did I mention everybody was my age or older?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Life List Day 211 - Read the Obituaries

For my book club, I'm reading the book "The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries" by Marilyn Johnson. It looks at obits of all kinds - from those of celebs, "ordinary Joe's" and even the new type of obit created as a result of 9/11 and the desire to honor so many deaths at once.

I realized I've never really sat down and read the obituaries, so today I did.

I went online and read some in the LA and NY Times. It was fascinating! I read about Pavarotti -who was the big name I recognize recently - but then also about Werner Von Trapp (one of the sons in the Von Trapp family that inspired The Sound of Music), a stunt cyclist, a minister known for her hip-hop Friday night service, a crossword puzzle writer, an American Indian who protested the use of Indian names for sports teams, a haiku poet who survived WWII internment camps...and even Robert E. Lee.

I can see how people get hooked on reading these. There's a bit of history, some trivia...and even a tear-jerker here and there.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Life List Day 209 - Roast a Chocolate Marshmallow

I was at the grocery store today filling my cart with nutritous items after a weekend of wild-abandon eating, when I came across these:

Chocolate marshmallows!!

Of course, I bought them - put them on the top shelf of the cart cuddled up to all my vegetables so they wouldn't get squished.

Then for dessert - too lazy to make a fire - I stuck one on a fork and roasted it on the gas stovetop.

Not bad!

It would never work as a substitute for the chocolate in a s'more - not chocolatey enough. I was trying to place the flavor myself when, upon giving one to my son, he said, "Mmm, Cocoa Puffs."

Only, of course, ooey gooier.

(BTW, I did a bit of poking about online and apparently these are new & not available everywhere yet, so if you see them, I say grab 'em.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Life List Day 208 - Ride Chaos

Once a year when I'm visiting friends in San Diego, we go to Belmont Park and ride the rollercoaster - one of the oldest wooden rollercoasters in California.

Today, we added a new ride to our list: Chaos.

I'm pretty fearless about rides and would normally not have thought of this for my life list, except as I get older I'm more squeamish about the ones that hang me upside-down a lot. I had to talk myself into it.

I'm so glad I did.

Rides make some people scream; they make me laugh: a crazy, giggly, wild, hysterical laugh that comes from nothing but that luscious mix of terror and delight at being tipped and swirled and spun within an inch of your life.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Life List Day 207 - Yoopers and Laughing

Every year I get together in San Diego with a bunch of Yoopers (people from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) for the weekend. It's something I look forward to because there's no other 2-day period where I'm guaranteed to laugh so much. We've been at it for 17 years now - in the early years, we'd go through gallons of tequila, dance to Jimmy Buffet and stay up all night. Now we're in bed by midnight (maybe 1 a.m. if we're feeling frisky), but it's no less fun.

I nearly missed out this year because of a scheduling conflict, but I jumped over walls, through flaming hoops, etc. to make it happen.

So today for my life list, I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.

Then I laughed some more.

All in all, my favorite kind of day.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Life List Day 206 - Drunken Cherries

Today, I tried "drunken cherries" - maraschino cherries soaked in booze for three months. And when I say booze, I mean grain alcohol (which seems scandalous to me...I've heard horror stories about people ODing on it since it's 95% alcohol vs. 40% in most liquor).

It was kind of like cherry roulette: The ones that weren't too booze-soaked were yummy; the ones that had absorbed a lot were not unlike getting novacaine. (We decided it had to do with the quality of cherries. The better the cherries, the more they absorbed.)

I might just make some of my own.

The recipe:

jar maraschino cherries
grain alcohol (Everclear)
strawberry or other fruit-flavored liquour

1. Dump liquid out of cherry jar.
2. Fill with mix of 50% grain alcohol and 50% liquour (or 75%/25% if you really want them to kick butt)
3. Seal and let sit for 3 months.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Life List Day 204 - Go to a Dive Bar With My Dad

For probably 15 years now I've been meaning to check out a local dive bar called The Mermaid - one of those places that opens to thirsty patrons at 7 a.m.

Today, my dad and I went there to have a beer.

It wasn't as divey as I'd expected it would be. As far as the other clientele: If I'm ever looking to meet a guy in his mid-fifties with a scruffy beard, no job and a possible drinking problem, I now know where to find a whole bunch of them to choose from.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Life List Day 203 - Read Trash

Tuesdays I usually do weights at the gym, but today as I was walking in, I saw someone had left to share with their fellow gym-goers a big stack of celebrity gossip-type magazines. I never buy these - and I was about to go about my usual workout - and I thought, "Why not treat myself to an hour reading trash while I workout?"

So I switched things up and plunked myself down on a stationary bike and read while I pedaled.

Nothing like reading about Britney's latest shenanigans to make the time fly by!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Life List Day 202 - A Ride Up the Coast (and an Update on a Kitty)

My parents are visiting from Michigan, and today we'd made no plans other than hanging out. On a whim, I said, "How about we drive up the coast and find someplace for lunch?" They were game, so we did - ending up at Gladstones in Malibu. All in all, a nice last-minute trek.

Oh, and the update on the stray cat situation ...

I found out that what I thought was a ferile cat lives RIGHT NEXT DOOR (and I actually had an appointment today to take her in to the vet to have her ear looked at...I thought it was infected). Anyway, I learned that the cat walks funny because she'd been attacked as a kitten and is now mildly retarded. I'm glad she has a home ... I can just enjoy her when she visits (and she does several times a day) but then give her back. Kind of like a grandma!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Life List Day 201 - Go to the Home Town Fair

Every year my neighbor city Manhattan Beach has a Home Town Fair - food booths, games, beer tents, crafts area, etc. I haven't been since my son was small.

Today, my mom, my cousin Jerri and I all walked to the fair.

It was a nice wallk (about 5 miles round-trip)...which justified our one and only purchase: Kettle Korn.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Life List Day 200 - Two Things I "Hate"

First off: Day 200...woo hoo!!

Anyway, one of the challenges I gave myself when starting this list was to make myself do things even though I think I don't like them. I'm looking for that Green Eggs & Ham Effect: those things I THINK I hate but really haven't given enough of a chance.

Today, I did something that forced me to face two things I don't like: musicals and The Beatles.

My mom was in town, and she DOES like both those things, so I went with her to see the movie Across the Universe, a musical featuring only the music of The Beatles.

I went in trying to have as open a mind as possible, and it was a perfectly enjoyable two hours.

I liked the varying arrangements on The Beatles's songs - it made me appreciate the tune and the lyrics more when I wasn't hearing every song the exact same way I have a thousand times. There was actually a story, and visually it was a delight (althoughI could have skipped the "welcome to my acid trip" scenes). Add to that cameos by Bono, Joe Cocker and Eddie Izzard and it was quite a romp.

Plus Jim Sturgess who played Jude (yes, the characters all had significant names like Max, Prudence and of course Lucy) was, let's just say, quite easy on the eyes.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Life List Day 199 - Buy Impromptu Concert Tickets

My friend, Erin, just sent an email saying that tickets were released for the Eagles/Dixie Chicks concert coming up at the Nokia theater.

Without letting myself consider any of the logistical problems (it's a school night, I don't have a "date," what if Erin typed in the day wrong on her email & I buy tickets for a different night?) I immediately logged onto Ticketmaster and bought two tickets to the concert. I can honestly say, I've never before bought concert tickets within minutes of hearing about it.

I love live music, but the hassle/expense of going to a concert usually drives me away. (And, hello!?! $13.50 per ticket for processing fees!! What kind of racket is that?!??!) Plus parking, crowds, traffic, etc. There are few bands I'd really want to go through all that for ...but I happen to love me some Chicks and some Eagles.

It got me to thinking about concerts...

Best I've been to: Prince
Surprisingly enjoyable: Tom Jones
Best multible bill: X with Social Distortion and Jane's Addiction
Concert I enjoyed the most that I never really listenened to their music before: Metallica
Worst: ELO was on a double-bill with Heart... Heart was awesome, ELO was a real yawner
Artist I wished I'd seen before he died: Israel Kamakawiwo`ole

(Oh, and I realize tomorrow is Day 200!)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Life List Day 198 - Set Out the First of My Halloween Decorations

Today, I did something I haven't done in years: decorated for a holiday. OK, not decorated entirely, but got off to a start. I set out these four little Halloween figurines on my fireplace.

This was significant because somewhere along the line I've became very bah-humbug. I stopped decorating for ANY of the holidays...not so much as a tree...a bulb...a pumpkin....a cardboard sign. I'd consider the idea of putting out decorations, but then I'd just think how in a matter of days or weeks I'd just have to take them down again, so why bother?



Anyway, these figurines are just the first in a bunch of decorating I'm inspired to do this year - my son is all hepped up to make fog in a cauldron with dry ice, and I've got a nice porch off which it might be festive to hang some dead bodies.

Afer all, now that I'm living in a house that's over 100 years old, there's great potential to make it good & creepy looking. What better fun for the holidays than scaring the crap out of a bunch of little kids?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Life List Day 197 - Start the Process of Helping a Stray Cat

Since I moved into my house two months ago, I've grown increasingly fond of a stray cat who likes to hang around the area. I hadn't known HOW fond until, a few days ago, my landlady was petting her and said, "This is a ferile cat. I think I should call animal control," and I found myself saying, "No! Don't!"

Next thing I know, I'm putting out food for her, checking to make sure she stops by, worrying when she doesn't.

Today, I took it a step further : I started calling vets. See, the cat's real sweet, but she walks at this odd sideways angle. At first I called her Crazy Kitty, but then I realized it must be some sort of inner ear thing that's throwing off her balance - which makes my nickname for her quite mean, actually - so now I just call her Pretty. (If she's a he, that may be a bit of an unwelcome name, too, but I can't help it...it rhymes so well with kitty).

Anyway, I'm trying to figure out the best thing to do for her. I can't imagine her jumping happily into my car for a trip to the vet. Although she loves to be petted, I tried picking her up once and she spazzed more than my son does when I go for a hug.

I called a couple vets to put out feelers, and I left messages at two organizations - one called Feral Cat Caretakers and The Stray Cat Alliance.

So far what I've figured out is that I should keep feeding her to get her trust. From there, hopefully I'll be able to trap her and get her some help.

After all, who can ignore this cute little face?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Life List Day 196 - Try Something from a Japanese Market

My friend, Michele, needed to pick up something from a local Japanese market, so I decided I'd pick out something, too, and give it a try for my life list.

At Michele's recommendation, I bought this:

A bunch of stringy things encased in a plastic tube wouldn't normally catch my eye - or pique my appetite, for that matter. It looked like something from the movie Alien to me, but it's actually Chinese style seasoned bean thread with vegetables, according to the package.

When I went to serve it, I wasn't sure how to open the package, but I can now say for sure that stabbing it with a knife wasn't so great an idea. Bean threads and juice went flying. Still, there was plenty left to put in a bowl.

I also added cucumber and tomato, and it looked quite lovely:

I took a nice big bite...


The sauce was an Asian vinegarette, which I like, but the texture of the stringy things was an unpleasant surprise. Real unpleasant. Like spit-it-out unpleasant.

So I did what I always do when I have a bunch of food that I don't intend to eat: I tried to unload it on my son.

"Shelly just loves it! She eats it by the truckload!" I said, giving it my sales pitch as I passed it to him (and he's just not observant enough to notice there wasn't any on MY plate).

He tried it. He spit it out.

Ah, well.

You can't win 'em all.