Friday, September 4, 2015

Bunny Killer

1. Big news first:  My parents are going on a mission to Boston, MA and they report on Jan. 4. They've only been talking about this my whole life so it's kind of hard to believe that the day has arrived. The whole family watched, either in person (me, Katie, and Lindsay) or online (all the defectors) as they opened up the call. Super exciting! And you're not going to believe this but there was hardly a tear shed. This is very un-Knecht behavior and I don't know how to explain it. Anyway, go Red Sox!

2. Seminary has begun and I am loving my class so far. We've had so much fun already and they ask really thought provoking questions. They're really great kids. But to bring us back to reality, I've started keeping track of the number of times I spot one of the boys picking his nose. So far three of them have done it. I don't know what to say about this other than their 14. What can you do but laugh and Clorox their desks after class.

3. Do yourself a favor and make this Pineapple Coconut Cashew Rice. I tried it the other night and whoa. It was delicious. This may have been the first time I cooked an actual meal all summer. My summer diet consists largely of toast, eggs, apples, cheese, pasta, Slurpees, and breakfast cereals. I eat like a 3 year old in the summer. The heat makes it impossible for me to even think about standing over a stove. Our wee kitchen doesn't have an air vent in it (I know. It seems insane to me too.) So I do what I can to get by. But this week we have felt the first nip of fall. Most people outside of So. California may not actually be able to feel this particular nip. It is slight. But there was just something autumny in the air and so I slung on my apron and cooked. And not just rice but chicken too. Like I'm Martha Stewart or something.

4. And now for some sad news: yesterday on my drive to work I passed by a dead bunny. I have a strict no-looking rule when it comes to roadkill but I think I spotted ears before averting my eyes. And then, maybe to cheer myself up, I made up a little song about dead bunnies on the road and I sang it to myself the rest of the way in. I don't know, guys, alright? I have no explanation as to why I do these sorts of things but let me tell you there's a catalog of little ditties I make up through out the day and sing to myself. Oh, like you don't do weird things. Anyway, several hours later I was driving home from work through Cal Poly, which is  practically a bunny sanctuary there are so many of them hopping about, when suddenly a bunny leaped in front of my car and then I heard a horrific thwump. I KILLED A BUNNY!!!!! And I'm kind of sick about it. I was teary the whole way home. I feel like I need to make amends somehow. Do they have actual bunny sanctuaries I could donate to?  Ugh, circle of life.

My dead bunny on the road song is a little reminiscent of Blue Shadows from the Three Amigos so here you go. Happy weekend. Keep safe, bunnies!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tragic Pants

If you're interested, here's Gwyneth Paltrow's latest recommendation from Goop for fall denim.


Are she and her staff living in some kind of clown universe? What are those things?! She, in all seriousness, put these up as an actual possibility for denim in the workplace. At what office do you think these would fit in? Possibly the receptionist at the Home for the Tragic and Misguided has a pair. If you enlarge the picture you will see that the hem is frayed. Because when you have already committed to looking really out of your mind you had better go all the way. Also, it should be noted that they are $340. Or $10 if you head on over to the Goodwill and pick up the two most unflattering jeans you can find and make a pair for yourself. Knights of Columbus!

And what goes well with the Ugliest Jeans in the History of All Jeans? A $1700 blazer. You read that right. This whole look, in fact, is $2500. Is it time for me to stop hate-reading Goop? For some reason I can handle all of her stuff on herbal colonics and $10000 hotel rooms in Tokyo. But this has crossed a line.

Never has an article of clothing deserved this more:


Prince is the prince of questionable clothing and even he knows these are Crazy Town, USA.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Oregon Trail

You know how Virginia is for lovers? Well, Oregon is for weirdos, in the most charming way. I recall my old high school chemistry teacher always saying how weird people were in Oregon and maybe that has stuck with me. He did sport a handle-bar mustache, so take that for what it's worth. But I think he may have partially been on to something because they are proudly and aggressively weird there. But I'll give it to them because it's so pretty. Around every corner was something breathtaking. People kept apologizing for how brown and dry it was and then I'd laugh and mumble something about a drought and apply more lip balm out of habit. It was literally the greenest place I've ever been to. I had a really great time there and will definitely be back. Well, as long as Casey and Kylea and their amazingly adorable children live there.

On to the list:

1. Oregon seems to be filled with a high percentage of vagabonds. I stopped counting how many people I saw roaming the highways, some hitchhiking, all hairy and toting giant backpacks. In California if you see someone walking on the freeway that means that they are in some kind of trouble, like their car is on fire or something. But in Oregon the dozens of people I saw walking down the interstate all seemed to be carefree hobos casually walking from town to town. Their hub, obviously, is Portland. It seemed to be populated entirely by unwashed hippies waiting for the next drum circle. It was actually difficult to tell who was homeless because of mental illness or who just chose to live the wandering life.

2. In that vein, as I was driving back from my day-trip to the coast I passed a couple hitchhiking and my initial thought was, "I'd bet money that if I picked them up I'd be abducted into a cult."

3. That day-trip was a dream. It was gray and drizzly and there were pockets of mist hanging in the pine trees. I stopped at every viewpoint. I wandered into a used bookstore in Astoria to get out of the rain. I sat on some driftwood at Cannon Beach. I ate cheese and ice cream and fudge in Tillamook. This is all to say that it was a perfect day.

3. Gina came out for my birthday! Just for the day! Isn't that that best? I am always totally happy lone-wolfing it when out and about but I'm never going to turn down a sister to share in the adventure. Sisters always make things better. And we had a huge adventure. I wanted to do something fun and different so I booked a jet-boat tour up the Willamette River (did you know that it's pronounced Will-AM-ette? I did not until Kylea corrected me.) You guys, promise me that if you ever make it to Portland you will take this tour. Just do it, okay? It is the most fun! We went so fast, did donut after donut, and got so wet and I HATE getting wet when I'm not in appropriate clothing for it but who cares when you're having this kind of fun. It was so worth the time and money and tumbleweed hair.

4. On the other donut front, we did get Voodoo donuts. I'm going to be totally un-American right now and say that I don't exactly care for donuts. They taste like delicious regret. The first 5 minutes of a donut are wonderful but the rest of day I feel like I've eaten a sugary brick. Because I'm 80. But these were really tasty. And while I did have the sugary brick feeling all day I did not regret it because you've got to live, right?

5. Thanks to that mutant sinus/bronchial infection I left (and came home) with my ears clogged up on the descent into Portland. A baby started to cry on that descent and I wanted to hold her and say, "I know, right? Let's cry together." They stayed clogged for FIVE WHOLE DAYS and I wanted to die. But now I'm good as new. And it didn't ruin my trip. Every morning I would tell my clogged ears and nose and lungs to go eat a worm sandwich, I was going to have fun anyway.

6. I mentioned this on Instagram but it bears repeating: I went to this pizza place that a friend recommended and I was literally the only person in there who was not eating it with a fork and knife. I refused to feel like the weirdo in this situation and ate my pizza like a human being, with my hands so the grease can drip down my arm.

7. Oh, Sweet Land of Liberty! Just let me pump my own gas!

8. Best thing I overheard in Portland, "No, she's already gone. She helping set up for Burning Man this year."

9. Best sign I saw, "Squirrel Fest 2015!"

Picture time!

C&K have a shortcake place that is everything you want in a non-chocolate dessert.  My parents were up there a few weeks before me and my dad literally cannot stop talking about this. I ate really well on this trip but this was maybe my favorite thing.


I had completely forgotten that logging is a thing. But you can't forget up in the Pacific Northwest. I drove through a logging town with actual stores for logging supplies. I live in the desert, okay. That's it in the distance, across the Columbia River in Washington. 

If you've seen Goonies you know what this is. If you haven't seen Goonies, you need to crawl out of your cave. But also, isn't this so lovely? The tide was way, way out but it left these pretty ripples behind.

Powell's takes up an entire city block. And it's 4 stories. Which means that I spent a lot of time there. And it was everything I wanted it to be. Yay books!

Every morning as I was getting ready Addie would come up and hang out with me. Every time I was out doing something fun I was kind of wishing I was back with the kids. 
The Graham Poo-Bah. This kid is the sweetest. He doesn't cry. He hardly fusses. He just snuggles with you. He did not fit in my carry-on.

Nearly everyone I know who has been to Oregon comes back and shows me this picture. I've been looking for a Wealthy Benefactor but I would just as happily take a rich uncle.

This is exactly how I wanted to look on my 40th birthday. Happy and surrounded by beauty. In this case, the International Rose Test Garden, which I am putting on your must-see list for Portland. I'M HALF WAY TO 80!!!!!!!!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Old Wet Lung

This illness has very nearly knocked me out but I think I may have turned the corner. I am still coughing like an 80 year old coal miner. Also, I have coughed so hard that I think I injured my ribs and definitely have sprained a muscle in my neck. But I definitely feel better and have more energy and I can breathe through my nose some of the time. Progress! I even did some laundry today. Although taking my laundry down to the laundry room wiped me out. And in about 15 minutes I'm going to have to go down and get it and schlep it up the stairs and then fold it. Ugh, the folding. On a good day this is drudgery.

Tomorrow I fly out to Oregon. And I'm afraid that I'm going to be That Person on the plane. The one who is sniffing and coughing and generally making you paranoid that you're going to be struck down with bird flu. Should I hand out little bags of Airborne to all of my fellow passengers with a note explaining that I've been on antibiotics for nearly a week and even though I sound like I've got the old Wet Lung I should not be contagious at this point, it's just holding on to me like clammy, snotty, hacking death. Pray for me and my poor little lungs. And the people on the plane that they will be understanding. And that I'm well enough to kiss Addie and Baby Graham Piano's chubby cheeks and also drive out to the Goonies beach and also spend hours wandering through Powell's bookstore. I have goals on this trip that I need to achieve.

Do you know what the real tragedy of being sick is? I can't read. My mind can't focus long enough to make it through a page. So it's been a lot of Netflix and Hulu for me. I watched many episodes Running Wild with Bear Grylls. You know, where he takes celebrities out into the wilderness and tries to kill them by feeding them worms and throwing them off cliffs. For the record, I literally would die if I ever attempted anything like that. I am an enormous chicken when it comes to doing dangerous things. And if I didn't die I would be whining the entire time. Much like Kate Hudson did. But you should all watch the episode with Kate Winslet. If you did not already love her you will after watching her insist on washing her bra out after her first day.

But before that you should watch this video that Camille sent to cheer me up from my death bed:


Friday, August 7, 2015

Timing

The good staff at Kaiser in Upland need a little training in timing. Remember that time a doctor asked me if I wanted a pap smear while he was examining me for what turned out to be acute bronchitis and shingles? I had expended all of my energy that day just putting on my bra so there was none left to hit him. Well this morning I went in because I have a sinus infection that has turned into a whole body infection. I was in my stretchy pants, no make-up, and my hair was back in a wet ponytail. You know how much I oppose going out into society wearing stretchy pants and yet this is the state I am currently in. So there I am, and the nurse has just flipped the switch on the blood pressure torture machine and it is at this very moment that she chooses to say, "We don't have a picture of you on our database. Let me take it." And then before I can even say a word she points a camera in my face and takes a picture. At best I looked like Marty Feldman dressed as a hobo. I asked her if she could at least wait until the sphygmomanometer was done squeezing my arm off and my body was in less distress. She seemed put out but agreed.

This made me wonder what all the pictures look like at Kaiser. Because no one looks their best when they're sick. It must be a database filled with bloodshot, pallid, consumptive, droopy-eyed zombies with runny noses. I know for sure this is what my picture looked like because after that I walked into the exam room and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Egads! Also, I saw everyone else sitting in the waiting room. There wasn't a single person in there who didn't have bedhead.

Speaking of bad timing, I HAD ALL SUMMER TO GET SICK AND IT HITS RIGHT NOW WHEN CASEY, KYLEA, ADDIE, AND BABY GRAHAM CRACKER ARE IN TOWN!!!! For crying in the mud! Nine whole weeks when I could have very easily lounged about all day recuperating and watching Jane Austen adaptations. And on the very day that they arrive in town I'm sidelined. The doctor assures me that once I have the antibiotics in my system for 24 hours I should be fine to be around humans so there's still time this weekend. And I'm going up to Oregon to visit next week. But the timing is just too ridiculous.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

We Are The World

1. Somewhere in the middle of Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the 7th inning stretch at the Dodger game the other night, up on the Jumbotron popped none other than Johnny from the Karate Kid! He who swept the leg! There he was, just singing along with the rest of us. Fact: you cannot go to a sporting event in LA without a major or minor celebrity showing up on the big screen. At a Dodger game you can always count on seeing Alyssa Milano and Larry King's skeleton. Sometimes Will Ferrell or Tom Hanks or Matthew Perry. But "Put Him In A Body Bag" Johnny of Cobra Kai Dojo has got to be the best one yet.

2. Twenty years ago the Russians abandoned their space shuttle program, leaving two partially completed shuttles locked up in a warehouse in the Kazakhstan desert. So it looks like I'm going to need a few million dollars to buy one of those shuttles. Also, some science types to help me get the old girl running and up into space. Who's with me? We're halfway there!

3. Katie and I finally made it out to the Special Olympics World Games. They were held here in LA and we were dying to go but didn't get out until the last day. We trekked out to UCLA to watch volleyball. It took an hour and 45 minutes to get there. (Someday I'm going to write up what I think about LA traffic. In brief: it is almost always worth it. Just suck it up, leave early, and get on the road.) Here's what we found when we got there: total excitement. There were athletes everywhere just beaming and jumping around and showing off their medals. And the volleyball was great. We watched teams from Peru, Costa Rica, Russia, Botswana, Uruguay, Czech Republic, Turkey, Croatia, and all of them seemed just totally thrilled to be playing. There were 6 matches going on at a time and the first one to end was the women's match between Botswana and Peru. Peru won but after they took about a minute to celebrate they crossed over to Botswana's side and started a dance party. For like 20 minutes. All the players from both teams just hugged and danced and I'm telling you, I was singing We Are the World. Sportsmanship at its finest. Go Special Olympians!




Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Watchman has been set

Who's ready to talk about Go Set a Watchman? Anyone? Here, I'll start and then you throw your 2 cents in.

First, let's talk about the controversy. Some say Harper Lee did not authorize this publication, that she was hoodwinked by her conniving lawyer who was snooping around and found the manuscript and got great big dollar signs in her eyes. This may be true. It also may be true that Harper Lee is old and tired and thought, oh why not. Let them have it. My guess is that the truth lies, as it usually does, somewhere in the middle. But regardless, we have it now. And I'm going to throw it out there that it's the biggest thing to happen to American literature in our lifetime. So boycott it if you will (I've heard of several people who are) but we'll never know the truth and I couldn't pass it up.

Also, it's a good book. Even without any nostalgia attached to it, it's a good stand-alone book. It needs some editing. Apparently there was very little done to what they found. There are some rambling bits and arcane references that would have been smoothed over had a guiding hand been involved. But all in all, I enjoyed it very much. And how can you not be nostalgic about it? Nearly everyone we love is there.. Scout (now Jean Louise) is 26 and living in New York and comes home for two weeks to check in on Atticus who is old and rheumatic. Calpurnia, Jem, and Dill all show up in some form. There are several flashbacks that were just as charming as anything in Mockingbird. It was the flashbacks, in fact, that made it so clear why Lee's publishers declined this book and asked her to write something about Scout as a child. Her feistiness was much more appealing as a child then as an adult.

But it's her feistiness that propels the story along once she finds out that her dad is a racist. Yep, the hysterical reviews were right. Atticus is a racist. He says some really horrible shocking things. Things that truly turned my stomach. Although it is not any different from what any other white southern man in the 1950s was saying. Which makes this a much more realistic book then TKAM. I mentioned earlier that I was afraid I was going to have to think of Atticus as being from some alternate universe. Bizzaro Atticus. But that was not the case. He was the same sweet, patient, honorable man. The pain of his newly revealed beliefs was both compounded and eased by Scout feeling the exact same way as I did. Every generation changes perspective on social issues. Scout said plenty of things in the book that if said today would end up on the internet and get her fired. We're all flawed. 

So there you go. Let me know when I should schedule the book club. I'm dying to talk to people about this.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Old Lady Recommendations

I've really been old-ladying it up this summer. Watching a lot of documentaries while crocheting, that sort of thing.

Here's what I recently finished.

 

I made it because months ago I donated a doily for my ward's youth camp auction and then I forgot that I had donated it and didn't actually have one made. I was out of town for the auction but when I came back Katie said, "Someone bought your doily." Yeeps. So I whipped one up. And by "whipped" I mean I spent 4 months making it. The very last row with all those fiddly bits took 3 whole hours. But didn't it turn out lovely? And I don't want you to think that it's drudgery. I get a lot of joy from making beautiful things. But the fiddly bits are a beast. It has been handed over and a new one has been started. Because I'm 80 and need a crochet project at all times.

I would like to apologize for my foot in this picture. It was not intentional but I just don't feel like cropping it. It needs to be noted though because I am SO DONE with seeing feet in pictures. You guys, stop putting your feet in all your Instagram pictures. The trend needs to die and I am calling everyone to arms. I realize that trends are important sociological markers. People in the future will look back on these pictures and say, "Oh, this is from 2015. Look at the feet." But there are enough of them and it's time to move on. It would actually be a different story if you were to post a picture of your shoes and a caption that said, "Look at my cute shoes!" That would be something. But it's never that! The feet are never the subject. It's always an artisanal brownie or a mug of chai tea or a sand dollar with a seaweed leaf in the shape of a heart stuck to it AND the feet. I can barely handle thinking about how hard some people have to work to get shots like that. I wish I had saved this one picture I saw on Instagram that officially made me hate the trend. Some guy had artistically arranged his breakfast of a banana, a yogurt, and coffee on his hotel floor and took a picture of it with his bare feet next to it. All I could think of was, "You're about to eat food that has touched the hotel floor and your feet are like a millimeter away from it, Sicko!" This was the end for me.

Sorry. That was an unintentional rant. But this is about how I'm a Very Old Woman. So on to my documentary recommendations!

No, no, wait. I have to first tell you about some article I recently saw about what faux pas people make when visiting London, or something like that and it was basically all of these people saying things like, "Don't talk so loud, and say 'please' and 'thank you' to everyone, and don't block traffic especially on the tube escalators, and don't hold people up because you're not prepared in the grocery line, and just don't be rude because we won't confront you about it but will seethe in silent indignation over it." It made all Londoners sound so wonderfully cranky that I felt an immediate kinship to them. Like I had finally found my people.  Would someone please pay for me to go to London? Thank you.

Okay, now for real, the doc recs. 

1. Honest Liar. About the Amazing Randi and his lifelong quest to defraud charlatans like faith-healers, psychics, metal benders, etc. There is an interesting twist. Plus you get some classic footage of 1980s faith healers. These guys are real cads but so entertaining.

2. Web Junkie. China has deemed internet addiction the biggest health problem in their country and they have reconditioning camps for teens. It's a comfort to know that petulant, disaffected teens aren't just in America. Also, ugh, video games.

3.  Tim's Vermeer. This tech mogul decides that he wants to figure out how 17th century Dutch artist Vermeer painted such detailed, photographic pieces. So he recreates Vermeer's studio and figures it out. Probably. We'll never know. But it seems like the most probable explanation (it basically just involves a mirror and whoa is it tedious.) and his dedication to the project is mesmerizing. And now I really want to try the technique.

4. What Happened. Miss Simone? About Nina Simone. She was just phenomenal. And tortured. There is so much good music in this one.

There, go forth and watch.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Go Set a Watchman on Your Teenage Girls

1. While I was walking in to Barnes and Noble to pick up Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman two teenage girls who were sitting outside on a bench called me over and asked if I would give them a ride home. You know the next person they ask would surely be a murderer so because I'm not I thought I'd do these girls a favor and save them from certain doom. I told them to wait 10 minutes and went in and got the book then drove them the 3 miles home. Who asks a total stranger for a ride? I am, and look like, a matronly aunt so I'm a safe bet. But those girls didn't know that. Look, I hate taking the bus and I don't know that it's any safer than asking some strange woman for a lift but come on.

2. Now let's talk about Go Set a Watchman.  I read the New York Times review last week and in a nutshell it said, "ATTICUS IS A RACIST!!! WOE, WOE TO US ALL!!!!" I think we can all agree that is tough to get past. So, I'm apprehensive. But this is a Major Literary Thing happening and I want to be a part of it. And I'm just flat out curious so I'm trying to not be sentimental about it. If necessary I'm going to convince myself that it is Bizzaro Atticus from an alternate universe, remembering that it was written before To Kill a Mockingbird so just calm down, Rachel. Anyway, let's convene the Rachel Says So Virtual Book Club in a few weeks and discuss it, okay?

3. Lindsay and I went to the Hollywood Bowl on Friday to swoon over Harry Connick Jr. I'd put it in my top 5 all-time favorite shows. It was just so much fun. Also, during intermission we heard a bit of a cheering ruckus going on in the section next to us. Word made it down that there was a wedding going on. And sure enough, there was a guy in a tux and a woman in a veil and they were, indeed, getting married. Is this not the most genius thing you've ever heard? It's so memorable and fun and you can tell everyone that Harry Connick Jr. sang at your wedding. Plus, it's cheap and beautiful and you don't have to buy flowers.



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Soap on a Rope

I live a relatively frugal life. I just don't like spending money on frivolous things. But I have one luxury: soap. Specifically from The Soap Kitchen in Pasadena. The scent is natural and light. They make it right there in the shop. It's owned and run by a woman who has named her dog Shea Butter. Plus, it makes my skin feel so soft and luxurious. And it's like $9 a bar. NINE DOLLARS. My Mormon pioneer ancestors are rolling in their graves. But I promise you that if any one of those dear women who crossed the plains could use this soap they would totally get it and give me their blessing.

There are very few aspects of my life that are real honest to goodness Woman of Elegant Leisure status, but my soap is. I don't buy fancy clothes, I get most of my books from the library now instead of buying them. That article in the New York times about the conditions that nail salon girls work under shamed me enough to stop getting cheap pedicures which now means I get zero pedicures. I don't take extravagant vacations and we don't have cable. I live a very simple and inexpensive life. So I'm just going to keep on driving out to Pasadena to get my $9 bar of soap because it makes me feel like the Queen of England.

Related: I have a vague recollection of reading about the Queen's daily schedule and it included a morning bath with the same brand of soap and receiving a fresh bar each day. I want to say it was Yardley of London's rose soap, which I thought was weird because you can buy that at CVS for maybe $3. But this is after she is woken up by her maid who brings her tea and biscuits to eat in bed which is in a castle. Her life is not without luxury even if her soap is cheap. And also, what happens to the used soap each day? Doled out to the peasants waiting at the gates?

Also related: Have you hear of Royal Warrants? I just learned about this. It's where the royal family gives a seal of approval to a company they like and use. Yardley of London has a few. But so does Tabasco Sauce. No joke. Do you think that Her Majesty enjoys a little Tabasco on her eggs in the morning? I am a Tapatio girl myself but these are just the many things we can discuss when I eventually meet her. Soap and hot sauce. (Silent prayer: Please let me someday talk hot sauce with the Queen of England. Amen.)