Category Archives: The List of Fifty

The List of Fifty – “Go To Machu Picchu”

“Go To Machu Picchu” has been on The List of Fifty since it’s inception when I was a 10th grader.

However, I rather always thought that when I would go, I would go the hard way, you know, by hiking up there on the Inca Trail.

That was not to be.  You see, the opportunity to go came too late…for my knee.  I have a bit of an arthritis problem.  My left knee has just gotten worse and worse over the years and it is no longer trustworthy.  The discomfort it gives is tolerable, but it lacks the strength and stability needed for rigorous activity.

So when I was invited to Peru last month to visit a friend there, even though I was disappointed that I would not be doing the hike, I jumped (not literally, of course, can’t really do that either) at the chance.  🙂






Mag.  Ni.  Fi.  Cent.


La Vie En Rose

“Go to Paris” has never made it to The List of Fifty.  In fact, historically speaking, I’ve never much wanted to go to France at all, despite having studied the language (la langue d’amour) for four years in high school.

But I am SOOOOOO excited to be going!  My friend Abner (same friend of the Timbuktu/West Africa adventure) and I decided we wanted to go on a trip to a place where we could drink the water, not have to take malaria meds, and leave the sleeping bags and mosquito nets at home.  We wanted to eat bread and drink wine, and listen to music while sipping coffee in street cafes, and cross bridges and take pictures of loveliness.  And Paris just seemed like the exact right place to do it!  PLUUUUSS, being late fall, it should be nice and chilly and maybe drizzly and rainy and gray and perfect for taking moody Fronchy photos!  🙂

ALSO, ever since I read about the catacombs under the streets, I decided I needed to see them, if ever I went to Paris.  Other things I am hoping to see?  La Tour Eiffel, l’Arc de Triomphe, the gardens of Versailles, Notre Dame, and I would love to cross all 23 bridges.  I am sure that a week will not be long enough to completely explore the city, but it will be long enough to get a feel for what life in Paris is like.  However, no matter what we do or do not do, if this song ever plays anywhere where I can hear it while I am there, I will consider my trip complete!

I rented an apartment for the week we’ll be there, and it’s in a real neighborhood with real Parisian neighbors.  How cool is that?

Girls Behaving Baldly

Leave poor Britney alone, wouldja?  So she shaved her head.  Big deal.  Hair grows back.  Let the poor girl have her crisis.  But maybe her hairless-style isn’t a symptom of crisis.  Maybe she’s always wanted to try it.  Ever think of that?

Bald Britney.  Still uber cute if you want my opinion!

When I was in high school I longed to do just the same thing, but I had long and very beautiful blond hair AND a big problem with shyness and these two things added up to wimping out.  I never got up the nerve to do anything at all with my hair except for cutting a few wispy bangs as a junior, and that took every bit of my courage since I knew the change would be noticed, and I hated being noticed. 

My sister-in-law, Connie, DID have the nerve.   She expressed herself often through her many hair styles and colors.  And I thought she looked AMAZING without any hair.  Her son, Richard, was very young at the time she chose baldness, and I will say, he was upset that his mother no longer had “girl hair”, and he cried.  That was both very cute and very heart-wrenching at the same time.

Connie, not quite bald (her hair was growing back in), but fabulous.

Some time ago I was watching the DVD of Connie’s memorial with some friends.  A picture flashed up of Connie when she had been bald.  One of the viewers was visibly horrified.  He declared in a disbelieving tone “And your brother LET her do THAT?”  I think I probably snorted when he said that.  Let her???  He didn’t know Connie!  And he didn’t know how much Phil enjoyed and encouraged the quirkiness and individuality of his wife.  The truth of the matter was, that it was Phil (who “let” Connie just be Connie) who was the one who did the actual deed this time!  He was the one with the clippers and razor in his hand!  And he will tell you that this was one of his favorite looks on her. 

For Connie’s memorial service, her cousin Katie shaved her head.  I wanted to, but again, I lacked the nerve.

One of these days I’m going to do it.  (It’s on the “List of Fifty”, you know!  I actually only wrote “get a radical new look”.  I cut my hair very short and died it a dark maroon back in the late 90’s and checked that one off the list, but in my heart, when I wrote “radical new look”, I meant bald.  But I wasn’t even brave enough to WRITE it then, let alone brave enough to DO it yet!)

Five Things You Don’t Know About Me

I didn’t even know I should be running!  But I was tagged by Shirley Buxton of WriteNow.  Read her five things.  Here are mine:

1.  I am extremely shy, even though most people would think I was lying in saying that.

2.  I have a dream of going to space.  I don’t care how.  I just want to see an Earthrise.  I have dreamed of this since reading a children’s book which envisioned the future of space stations.  Doing this has been on my “List of Fifty” since high school.

3.  Even though I knew from the deepest parts of my soul that I should have stuck up for him and made my schoolmates stop tormenting him, I didn’t help Leonard Goldberg.  I was in junior high school, and I still feel terrible remorse over that.  I never knew what happened to him after junior high school.

4.  For a very long time the fact that I have really ugly fingernails seriously negatively affected my self image.  I wore acrylic nails for 15 years because of that.  And spent about 600 dollars a year on them.  I took them off less than two years ago and wish I had the money I spent on the acrylics back!

5.  I found my first gray hair on my 25th birthday.

I’m tagging Carly, of EllipsisSuddenlyCarly!

The “Sort of Safari” – The List of Fifty AND “Transportation”

A friend told me about this Round Robin Photo Challenge.  This is my first entry.  And I am miserably late in posting for the “Transportation” challenge and am simply hoping that I’ll be allowed to play!  This photo is neither technically well shot, nor did I take it myself.  I’m not sure if that’s one of the rules.  However, since it is by far one of the more interesting modes of transportation I have employed, here you go!  AND, because “ride an elephant” is on my List of Fifty, it does double duty.  Perhaps the List of Fifty aspect of it will make it that much more interesting in the Round Robin Challenge??? 

I was in Zambia, Africa, with Teen Missions, International.  Our three teams of teenagers had just wrapped up our five weeks of work and evangelism projects and were working our way towards home.  One of the stops took us to the Protea Hotel outside of Lusaka for a wonderful continental breakfast (a REAL continental breakfast, not the HoJo and Holiday Inn variety with a hard roll and funky O.J.).  After breakfast we all piled into our trucks to take a safari, sort of.  The safari was a truck ride through a small preserve.  There were many different species of birds and fascinating antelope, but only three zebra, two caged but very ferocious lions, and this elephant.  Her name is Ellie.  We were told that if she was feeling calm that day, that some of us might be allowed to ride.  “Ride an Elephant” has been on my “to do” list since I was a teenager.  There were over 70 people in our group.  The chance that I’d have been picked to be one of the nine riders was, well, remote.  But LOOK!  My team picked me to go up!  Ellie stood next to one of the trucks which was used as a mounting apparatus.  The first two groups of three easily climbed aboard and dismounted after a short sit on top.  My group climbed up and settled onto her very mountainous spine.  It was then she chose to decide that she’d had enough of us, and she took off walking!  Mind you, this elephant is just loose.  She’s got a keeper of sorts who was feeding her treats to encourage behavior, but she moved away from the truck and took off for a short walk because she wanted to.  No matter what the keeper did, he couldn’t persuade her to move back to the truck.  That’s when this picture of me making my “what to do” shrug was taken.  How to get down????


After a few moments and quite some distance from the truck, the keeper got Ellie to sit.  Once she was down I helped “my two kids” off her back and slid off myself.  It was rather exhilarating, to be up top a wild animal who really was only letting us up there out of the generosity of her spirit!  I felt like she’d given me a real gift.  Could I have said I “rode an elephant” if all I did was sit there?  I don’t think so!  But, since Ellie decided to take a little walk about, I could!  So, that’s my story of the sort of safari!  If you want to see what else I did on the safari, click here.

Home Sweet Home

Well!  If the rumors are true, and I believe that they are, I am back in the US of A.  In fact, I am back in my BE of D!  I arrived in Colorado Springs shortly after 4:00 this afternoon.  I tried to sleep, but was unable.  I took a shower, put on clothes I haven’t seen in two months, and plopped down on my bed with my precious Mew Ling.  I powered up my laptop, and am posting LIVE!  I have much to write.  I will not be writing much tonight, however.  I have a very large pile of mail that I need to go through and I think I will tackle that in hopes that it will lull me to sleep.  It is strange to be alone and to not have to constantly think about the health and welfare of 26 other people.  I have tales to tell (watch for upcoming postings on how it turns out that cleanliness MAY not in fact be next to godliness, on how you actually don’t NEED to own a hairbrush or a razor to get along in the world, and on how maybe we should stop taking water for granted and actually be thankful for it in a major way!) and will be telling them, to be sure. 

For now, I rest.  But I am looking forward to getting to the business of my writing!  I have good news to report on another completely unexpected List of Fifty success!  So, watch for the story of Ellie, too!…

Be seeing you all soon!

“Visit Each Continent” – List of 50

This one is one of my more ambitious goals!  The goal was going to have been visit every country, but in the 1980's countries started to come and go at a rapid pace, and I thought it would simply be too confusing and frustrating to attain the goal.  How do you handle a country you've visited disappearing?  And how frustrating to have more and more countries added to the rolls on an annual basis!  So I went with continents.  If those change, we have bigger problems than changing national borders and names!

  1. North America – first visited in 1964 (continent of birth!)
  2. South America – first visited in 1991
  3. Asia – first visited in 1982
  4. Europe – first visited in 1995
  5. Australia – first visited in 1985
  6. Africa – should be there this summer
  7. Antarctica – your guess is as good as mine!!!  🙂

I Want a Teardrop Camper!

(That needs to be read with a hint of a whine in your voice.)

I have too many blog drafts in my queue, so you’re getting two right off the bat today!

I have been letting my magazines stack up.  Be horrified.  My magaizine subscriptions are as follows:

  1. Time
  2. Cottage Living
  3. Conde Naste’s Travel
  4. Reader’s Digest

I get Time because I need something that gets my ire up every once in awhile!  I get Cottage Living because I love all the design ideas for small spaces.  I get Travel.  Do I need to explain myself on this subscription?  I get Reader’s Digest because it’s one of the best magazines around and I have subscribed to it for as long as I can remember.  And my family competes to see who gets the most right in “It Pays To Enrich Your Word Power” (which they now just call “Word Power”).

While reading my May copy of RD yesterday I came across a tiny little article which talked about hitting the road in a “teardrop camper”.  OH MY GOSH.  These things are CUTE!  Even I might camp if I had one of these little babies!

One of the things on my “List of Fifty” is to drive the original Route 66.  Now tell me, how much fun would it be to do THAT with one of THESE!!  I do believe even my Honda could tow this!



That’s a kitchen in the back, and in the front is a sleeping/living/storage space.  I’ve done some shopping, and, as with most things, they pretty much run the gamut as far as cost and amenities are concerned!  I like how the aluminum ones look.  They have a retro Route 66 sort of feel to them.  These seem to be very popular in Australia and New Zealand, and they’ve got some really sharp ones for sale down there!

Anybody want to go with me???

“Sell a work of art” – List of 50

On top of being other frustrated things (photographer, writer, etc.), I am a frustrated artist. 

When I was in the second grade, one of the upper grade teachers, Mrs. Jamieson, came to my classroom and saw a picture I had painted.  It was a picture of an airplane, painted on that huge blue paper with those awful tempura paints, but something about it made her think I had some sort of aptitude for art.  Mrs. Jamieson was the resident artist at Center Street School and taught sixth grade.  And she arranged it with my teacher, Mrs. Wilkerson, to have me come to her class weekly to make art with her kids.  And she arranged that to happen for the next four years until I was in her class as a sixth grader.  She was an amazing teacher.  I have been trying to find her so that I can thank her for being the teacher who most profoundly affected my life.  She was a strong believer in “divergent thinking”.  (More on sixth grade and divergent thinking in a later posting.)

I continued to take the occasional artsy sort of classes.  Jewelry making in junior high, color theory in high school.  But never really did anything after high school in the art arena.  After taking a few years off from higher education, in 1987 I returned to school attending Saddleback College in Orange County.  I took all sorts of classes there that tickled my fancy…like Spanish, and Japanese, and Music Appreciation.  I also decided I’d take a beginning drawing class.  On the first day we had to draw a simple still life.  I picked an old tea pot and a pump sprayer.  And we drew in pencil.  Something about that drawing made the professor think I had some sort of aptitude for art and told me “no matter what it is you are studying here, you need to change your focus to art.”  I told him I was studying to be a nurse and hoped to someday take my nursing skills to third world countries.  Looking rather crestfallen, he told me that this aspiration of mine was much more important than art, but encouraged me to continue to persue it as a hobby if nothing else.

One of our art projects in the class was to create something using the pointillism technique.  That is where the entire work is done using dots.  Our assignment was to do something in simple black and white.  I found a picture of a handsome older gentleman in an ad for Dewar’s (is that whiskey?) and turned it into this:


And it sat, with all of my other projects from that class in a black cardboard portfolio for years.  In the mid 1990’s I was working for a center that performed joint replacement surgery.  We had an annual fund raising event which included a silent auction.  I was asked to donate something for one of these auctions and I decided that it might just be the right time to see if I could fulfill one of things on the List of 50 and sell a work of art.  So I entered “Dewar’s” into the auction and it sold, for (I think) about $475.  Probably purchased by someone who thought it looked like their grandpa, but that didn’t matter.  I did it!

The last work of art I ever completed was in that class, back in 1987.  It was my final project, which when I turned it in, again made my professor sigh and wish that I’d take up art as a career.  My project was a picture of my friend Kevin building a truss in the Philippines:


Lately I have been thinking how much I’d like to return to my artsy roots and start creating again.  I have a project in mind.  For Connie and Phil’s wedding present they requested that I create something for them.  I never did.  For months I have been thinking of creating something in Connie’s memory for Phil.  And interestingly enough, on my last visit to California while out to dinner with my brother, he reminded me that I still “owed” him that wedding present and that he is going to hold me to it, even though Connie is gone.

“Go to space” – List of 50

Well, I finally have that page up there at the top of my blog called “list of 50” sort of up and running.  I was thinking the other day about one of the things that I wrote on that list all those years ago.  At the time it was a ridiculous notion.  How on earth would THAT ever come to fruition?  I was just an average teenager, afterall.

How would I ever “go to space”?

With the recent success of SpaceShipOne’s suborbital flight, and with the chutzpah of Richard Branson’s “Virgin Galactic” plans, my wildest entry on the list doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore!  I remember reading a book when I was a little girl about a ring shaped space station.  I wish I could remember the name of this book.  Perhaps it is collecting dust in one of my family’s houses.  I remember then being fascinated by the thought of space travel and space living.  And this was just a handful of years after the first man walked on the moon!  An endeavor which then could only be brought to fruition by the massive federal funding it took.  I never dreamed of being an astronaut, though.  And now, with space tourism just around the corner, it has actually become a possibility that a regular person like me could enjoy the thrill of a space ride!  Branson plans to start his tours in 2007.  I don’t know how close he is to achieving that.  And the first flights will cost around $200,000.  But if space tourism follows the course that computers have taken, maybe in 15 years it will be as cheap to fly to space as it is to fly to New York.  In fact, perhaps we’ll even fly to New York “in space”!

Can the Ritz Carlton in Orbit be very far behind???  (Could they generate enough gravity up there to keep water in a bathtub or a pool?)  Can you imagine soaking in the tub looking out the window and watching an Earthrise?  Lordy lordy it gives me a frisson!

Perhaps the reading of that book and the curiosity and desire it aroused in me as a little kid explains my fascination for all the Star Trek iterations, the movie Contact, Isaac Asimov, and the night sky. 

Who knows?!  Regardless, when Virgin Atlantic opens its terminal in Mojave (or wherever!), and as soon as there is a flight that is “affordable”, I’ll be in line to climb on board.


“Fly a plane” – List of 50

Back in the early '90's I used to work with a doctor in an ER in Inglewood, CA.  He was an adrenalin junky if I ever knew one.  One of his passions was flying.  On a couple of occasions I was invited to go with him to Catalina.  We flew his little prop plane over out of Hawthorne.  The runway on Catalina was pretty much on a mesa.  When you'd make the approach, you'd swear you were going to crash into the sheer rock wall that juts out of the sea.  Not the scariest runway I've ever landed on, but pretty close!  (They even call it "the Aiport In the Sky")  Anyhow, once Britt got the plane into the air, he'd let me take the controls for the 26 miles across the ocean.  Such fun! 

Once, on the way back, I looked down and saw whales in migration below us!  So Britt took the controls and spiraled us down for a really close look.  I've never gone whale watching on a boat, but this kind of whale watching was pretty amazing.  There were dozens of them, all trailing one after the other, diving and surfacing at different intervals. 

"Go whale watching" was on the list, too.  I always figured that would be on a boat.  So I kept it on the list and maybe someday, I'll get to do that, too.  I hear they make eye contact with you sometimes, and wouldn't THAT be something?!


"Why?", you might be asking, do I have this bizarre photo accompanying this story?  Well, I did a Google Image search for "whale watch air" hoping to get a good picture of what I saw from the plane.  This photo came up with the caption:  "Watch while he whales on his air guitar"!!  I could not resist!!

“Host, or be on, a radio show” – List of 50

A big goal for a girl who doesn’t like to be up in front of people!  And a girl for whom public speaking, especially at the time I wrote this goal, was DAUNTING.  “Give me a ‘F’.  I’m NOT getting up and doing that report!” 

About 10, or maybe 12, years ago, while driving home late (it was around 2AM if I remember correctly) from Northern California, I was listening to talk radio.  I don’t remember what the topic was, but I called in.  I guess my call interested the host (whose name shall remain anonymous as he’s still in the biz on the production side of things) because the next day, he contacted me at work.  The screeners make you give a contact number, so I gave my work fax number.  And I got a fax from him, asking me to call!  We chatted for a while, and he seemed really nice, so we made a date for the following weekend.

I met him at the radio station, he set me up with a motorcycle helmet fitted with an intercom system, and off we went on his Honda Goldwing.  We had a really nice day going to a couple of movies at cool old theaters, cruising around LA on his bike, and going out to dinner.  I shared with him my goal of being on a radio show, and he was going to make that happen!  I was to be a guest on his show!  I was really excited.  UNTIL I was driving home and heard him on the air with another host going on and on about “the listener” he just went on a date with.  I was totally creeped out.  Not that he had such a good time and wanted to share it, but just to hear me being talked about on like a billion watts of radio!  That cured me of my desire to be on the radio.

(He asked a few times, but I never went out with him again.  I just didn’t like him that much!)


“Meet Magic Johnson” – List of 50

I’m probably breaking all kinds of HIPAA laws, but there weren’t any HIPAA laws when this story takes place, and I think Magic would forgive me for telling this story! 

Back in the 80’s, I was a huge Lakers fan.  Even before then, I was a Magic Johnson fan.  Back when he played for Michigan State.  But I loved the Lakers in the days of Magic Johnson and James Worthy, and A.C. Green.  (Boy, do I miss those days of basketball.  Anybody else out there think that watching basketball is like watching a couple  of street gangs anymore?  Or am I just becoming an old fuddy duddy?)  Back to Magic.  I cut out everything I could find about him from the newspaper.  Had one of those big posters you hang on the back of a door.  Watched every game I could.  Anyhow, when it came to crafting my List of Fifty, “Meet Magic Johnson” was one of the originals on the list.  I was a sixteen year old white girl from El Segundo.  Sure!  I’ll get to meet Magic Johnson.

Magic Layup.jpg

Fast forward to 1990.  Recently out of nursing school, my first job was on the orthopedic unit at Centinela Hospital in Inglewood.  This particular floor doubled as the “VIP” floor.  On this particular day, we had been overwhelmed with patients.  Most of them having had major orthopaedic surgery.  We had all pretty much had our full and were getting more than crabby about the work load when the call came in that we were getting a direct admission from the Forum.  We were all just a little irritated that the patient was not being evaluated in the ER before being sent upstairs.  Anyhow, the secretary told us “Somebody has to take this guy.  He’s a 31 year old by the name of Irving Johnson”.  I asked her, “Irving?”.  She said, “that’s what they said downstairs”.  I took my chances!  “I’ll take him”, I said.  I knew the Lakers were playing that night and it could very well be that this could be Earvin “Magic” Johnson!  Just in case I called down for an extra long bed to be set up in the room.  And you should have seen the jaws drop when sure enough, he came rolling around the corner in a wheelchair!!  And he was all mine!  So to speak.

He remained my patient for the couple of days he spent in observation for taking a blow to the head.  He was amazed when I brought him to his room that there was a bed that was big enough for him there!  He and his wife, Cookie, were just about the nicest people I’d ever met.  Every four hours I’d go in to do a quick neuro check and to make sure all was well, and he always had that classic Magic smile for me when I walked in. 

Back in the days I was pure professionalism.  Had I been Magic’s nurse now, I would have kept something that proved that I had taken care of him.  In fact, I met a lot of famous people at that job.  I wish I’d kept something from all of them, if only a piece of paper imprinted with their blue card containing their patient information.  I met baseball players, football players, basketball players, jockeys, hockey players, actors, actresses, and politiicans.  It was a really fun time of my life!

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