Monday, February 1, 2016

Night on Broadway

This is the ladies room in the Los Angeles Theater in downtown LA and I am convinced that it is haunted. Only because it looks like it should be. It is GLORIOUS. Albeit a little rundown. 

That's the thing about the theaters in LA. Our Broadway is lined with really beautiful old theaters that for decades were left in disrepair. A few were actually turned into swap meets. The indignity! But there's been a real push to revitalize downtown and part of that is restoring the old theaters. And some of them are really coming back strong. One night a year Broadway is shut down to traffic and all the old girls are opened up and you can roam through them and dream about days of yore. Like would you wear the emeralds or the diamonds with your mink stole when you go see Macbeth. I say both! My favorite room to daydream in these places is always the ladies room because they are sooooo elegant. Most of the theaters have rooms filled with little vanity mirrors. And ugh, the glamour. 

Katie, Heather and I went down on Saturday to check it all out. And all of Los Angeles was there. As much as I hate a crowd I do love the variety of people. There were families with little kids and German tourists and folks in spats and flapper dresses and old people and young people and many, many men with creative facial hair. There was a booth giving hair cuts and a hula hooping station and a silent disco and bands playing every few yards and H&R Block was giving out tax advice. I mean the place was nuts! 

And the theaters. Oh, the theaters. When the Wealthy Benefactor arrives we will have a party down in the ballroom of the Los Angeles Theater. Mark my words! 

Foxy Ladies on the Town

This is the silent disco. Everyone is given a headset with the same music playing and they just danced in the street.

We went back to that taco place we tried on our food tour a few weeks ago and this time got the taco sampler. Holy mole!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Empathetic Voles

1. There was a sort of interesting article about how prairie voles manifest signs of empathy. Interesting in that there are people out there who study prairie voles. I am pretty fascinated by the career path of those people. Did they always have a thing for voles? Or did they get into college and find them? Or did they leave college, become an accountant, go on a vacation to Kansas, spot a vole in the wild, and have an epiphany that THIS is what they have been missing all theirs lives? Or are they just animal behavioral scientists who just happen to have voles on hand to study?

Of it it because voles are cute

And, also, the word vole is funny to say.

2. Thirty years, you guys! It's been thirty years since the space shuttle Challenger exploded. Some of you weren't even born! I was in the 5th grade and we did not have a TV in the room so we got the news when the secretary called Mr. O'Clock to tell him and some dumb kid laughed and Mr. O'Clock lost it on him. And then when I got home I sat in our living room and watched the news all afternoon. Boy, that was a sad day. I was already set on being an astronaut by that time. I'd like to thank my 1st grade teacher Mrs. Boyd for that. She talked a lot about Sally Ride. 

3. I had a cold over the weekend (and all this week and I am so D.O.N.E. blowing my nose) so naturally I spent it binge watching the 2nd season of When Calls the Heart. If that isn't the corniest show out there, I don't know what is. And I love it. We all love it! Admit it! But I have one serious beef with it. The styling of the characters looks like they just strolled into a some junior college theater department and rummaged through the generic period piece costumes and threw them on. All of the lady's blouses look like they could have been purchased at JC Penny's. And every casual outfit that Mountie Jack wore was straight from an LL Bean catalog. And the hair and make-up! What respectable woman in Olden Times wore her hair down like that? Or that much make-up? Lori Loughlin looked like she literally just strolled in from Malibu with her beachy highlights and tan and threw on a long skirt and a peasant top. I couldn't handle it. But then they'd say something endearingly cheese-ball and I'd forgive them and their lack of authenticity.  And then I'd blow my nose.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What was once lost

About a year and a half ago my computer crashed and I lost everything because I'm an idiot and I don't back anything up. Including all of my writings and all of my pictures, specifically the ones from my time in Tunisia. Obviously this was a blow. Why?! Why won't I learn?!

But lo, a miracle.

There, sitting in a little bag that I used to keep in my purse containing lip gloss and safety pins and other sundries was a flash drive that I popped into my computer and ALL OF MY PICTURES AND WRITINGS WERE THERE!!!!!!!! Oh Sweet Land of Liberty! I am not an idiot after all! I am a genius! I just can't remember being a genius, that's all.

Things that were lost but are now found include this picture of a sunset on the edge of the Sahara:

and this dead pope interned for all to see at the Vatican

and me convincing this bird to not peck my eyes out because I had had a really rough night

And snippets from little stories that include 

"You don't think a man of Hemingway's inclination and disposition would need a pair of warm socks from time to time? A man with such vices as his would certainly have poor blood circulation."


"Share your mutant power of getting rid of your own zits only if it manifests itself in a more profound way. Like, say, getting rid of other people's zits."

Treasures, I tell you. To me, at least. Oh, I was heartbroken for a long time and now I am not. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Get set for goose bumps

1. Katie and I did a food tour of downtown LA on Saturday through Six Taste. We met up at the front of the Biltmore Hotel with 13 other people and our tour guide and started walking. We had Thai, horchata boba, Jamaican patties and juice, guisada tacos, Austrian sausage and pretzels, BBQ brisket, and ice cream. Obviously, the tacos were the stuff of dreams. Every place we went to just gave us small samples, which was smart, but then I wanted like 20 more of those tacos. The Thai was mediocre and the boba was weird, as usual, (does anyone else feel, as I do, like shouting, "Will this boba ever end?!" whenever you have it?") but everything else was fantastic. I am now available to take you around to all of these places for Los Angeles adventures. Just name the date.

2. I held a gun for the first time tonight. Actually, three guns. We had a safety night for Relief Society and someone was teaching self defense and he brought a bunch of unloaded guns to show us. I did not care for them, as you would expect. But I also didn't burst into tears like I always thought I would. Look, I'm still not going to own one, if that's what you're wondering. Although all the classes terrified me enough tonight to check and recheck that all the doors were locked. My apartment felt very safe because we were on the second floor with only two doors that were always locked. This house is nothing but doors and windows and it feels like it has a neon sign on it that says, "Come assault me and take all my valuables." All night I kept trying to remember where I packed my nun chucks.

3. Did you hear that the winning Powerball ticket was sold in Chino Hills?! As in right next door?! Dear Rich Neighbor and New Best Friend, I make excellent cookies and all I really want is for you to buy me a ticket into outer space and also a Slurpee machine. XOXO, Rachel

4. This is the best thing I've seen all week. I am convinced I would be instant friends with this guy.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Naming of the Jumpsuits

I caught the beginning of the Elvis docudrama called This is Elvis and in it they showed his crew getting the hotel suite ready for his arrival. Setting out snacks and flower arrangements,putting up foil on his windows, neatly arranging his sunglasses on the vanity, that sort of stuff. And then there was a shot of guys pulling in all of his bedazzled jumpsuits, including a rack just for his enormous belts. Oh man. You just can't beat Old Fat Sweaty Elvis.

This naturally took me on an internet search for an archive of all of Elvis' jumpsuits, which I found because we live in wondrous times. Here, have a look. But if you don't have the time, here are a few of my favorites, with their names (of COURSE they have names).

The Blue Swirl

The Chinese Dragon

The Mexican Sundial

The Pharaoh (with cape!)

The Blue Aztec

And the greatest of them all, The American Eagle

Why don't you start your weekend right and watch it in action:

Monday, January 4, 2016

Loaded for Bear

The move to Chino, Christmas, and sending my parents off on their mission have all come and gone with nary a hiccup. And I'm unpacked and reveling in all this space and also the Hallmark Channel. You guys, how have I lived without the Hallmark Channel lo these many years? I have really missed those dumb, predictable, cheesy movies. Anyway, here's a smattering of things for your enjoyment:

1. First thing first:  How cute are my parent on their first day at the MTC:

I mean, come on! We got an update tonight and they are both so pumped about being there. 

2. Now let's talk about gardening and how I don't know what I'm doing. But despite that, I still have to keep my parent's plants alive for the next two years. On Saturday I pulled some weeds that I swear were anchored to the core of the earth. I got out the hoe and started hacking away, and that felt great. My parents used weeding as punishment while we were growing up so I've always kind of looked at it that way. But swinging that hoe around was therapeutic. I planted some strawberries, because why not, and some peas because picking a pod off the vine and popping it open and eating the peas inside while the sun shines on my face is one of my favorite things. Sweat peas and the ranunculus bulbs will have to wait until Saturday, after the first wave of the predicted El Nino storms pass. And I'm going to try to cut back my mom's roses. I've watched like 20 how-to videos so let's hope they make it. My mom loves those roses. 

3. Our new ward has welcomed us with happy, open arms. This helps that it is the ward of our childhood and a lot of the people know us and love us already. There's been a lot of call-me-if-you-need-ANYTHING and that's a comfort. Particularly from the former police officer who made me put his number in my phone and said that I could call day or night for anything but to be prepared because he would be "loaded for bear." The pacifist in me was like, "Oh, geez. Bloodshed." But the realist in me was like, "Yes. Thank you. Please bring all the guns." On a less extreme note, we were already invited over for dinner and cards with friends last week and that was fun. 

4. A memory came to me while we were having dinner with those friends. I think one of the last times I had been in that house was in 1988 when I was babysitting their wee small boys who are now fully grown humans with children of their own (I'm 80). I had just put the boys down and then I turned on the TV to catch the end of game 1 of the World Series. Yep. That's the place where I watched Kirk Gibson hit the game winning home run. I jumped up and down in front of their TV and silently cheered because I didn't want to wake up the boys. That's a great memory.

5. Hey, 2016! Let's have loads of fun this year, okay?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Everything must go!

Well it's here. Moving Day is tomorrow. Hip hip hooray! I should be going to sleep but just about 5 minutes ago I started to feel a little sentimental about the old Las Brisas and this little bedroom of mine. I am a solitary creature and my bedroom is my sanctuary. I just need a lot of quiet alone time in order to be a happy, socially functioning, non-crazy person. So I love this room and it's my last night sleeping here and can you believe that I've lived here for 12 years. That is an insanely long time to live in a place that has a kitchen that only fits one person.

Speaking of the kitchen, it was when we were going through all of the kitchen stuff that I hit that point that everyone hits while packing when I simply did not care if the entire thing went up in flames and therefore everything must go. I was done being thorough and dumped just about everything. I kept all of my little dainty party cups and plates and my rice cooker and my Coco-motion (because duh, it is essential to Art Society) and the rest went to the Goodwill. About 10 boxes of stuff. All of which I hauled in myself because the one guy who was working there tonight was too busy talking to someone else about TV sizes.

I'm almost ashamed to admit how much stuff I have given/thrown away. It is an outrageous amount. Oh, the number of trips I have taken to the Dumpster. Every time I'd walk a load out I'd chastise myself for being such a wasteful person. But we're moving into a fully furnished home. And we only have a 5x10 storage unit and I have to put all of my books somewhere, don't I. DON'T I?!

I was telling Katie tonight, as we used the tops of boxes as tables to eat our dinner off of while watching an episode of Parks and Rec on our TV that was also on top of boxes, that it kind of feels like Christmas tomorrow because I'm so excited to be done with the move. We've been moving basically for a month now, taking box after box down to Chino and packing every night. (Also, teaching seminary. Guys, here's a pro tip. Don't work full time and teach seminary and move during the holidays. It is a Christmas Miracle that I have only had 2 very minor breakdowns.) Tomorrow will be a celebration of sorts. And bonus, there will be guys here to do the heavy lifting. So adios Upland! You've been very good to me. And hello, again, Chino. The other day I was dropping some stuff off at the house and noticed that the air down there had the slightest whiff of dairy. Just like old times. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Green bean casserole of your dreams!

First things first: Did you SEE the google doodle today? It's L.M. Montgomery's birthday and it's all Anne!  I was packing up my books on Saturday - some are coming with me and some are going into storage, which is horrible, right? But I must have stood and stared at my L.M. Montgomery books for many minutes trying to convince myself that they didn't all need to come with me. Except that they do. So they are. And not just the Anne books but the Emily books and both Story Girl books and A Tangled Web and Kilmeny of the Orchard even though I would say it is her weakest, and all of her short story collections. I may not even read any of them. I just feel better with them around. You understand, I'm sure.

Next, Thanksgiving. We had a monster of a gathering. 60 people. Which isn't even everyone who could have been there. It was a delightful day.

Because we turned my mom and her siblings into reindeer

And my super talented cousin Kaylee made this gorgeous family tree

And Levi and Addie spent the whole day chasing after each other

And then the next day we all went to the beach and froze to death but still managed to have a great time because bonfires are great no matter the temperature.

And how cute is Addie roasting a hot dog? "Very," is what you're looking for.

The sad fact about Thanksgiving is that I try so hard to not be uncomfortably full that I end up not feeling like I really had a great meal. Thanksgiving is all about the sides for me and I want large portions of everything but really, in order to not feel like a stuffed turkey and to save room for the requisite 3 slices of pie I have to only take a few bites of each side. And then I end up with the niggling feeling that I did not get enough mash potatoes. And no one should feel slighted out of mashed potatoes. But hey, leftovers, right? This got me thinking how singular Thanksgiving food is. Like, I never eat candied yams on any day but Thanksgiving. Even though I love them. Same with stuffing and green bean casserole. Or roasted turkey, for that matter. What if I through a Thanksgiving feast in April, just for fun. 

I would like to note that I totally killed it on the green bean casserole this year. It was delicious. I know, I know! You think that anything made with Cream of Whatever canned soup is an abomination. Except that you can't deny the warm comfort of a creamy casserole. Here's my tip: use half of the soup that the recipe calls for and also think that you have enough milk but actually don't and instead have to use half and half. Bam! Perfect green bean casserole and Thanksgiving is saved!

Maybe you're feeling like you can't make it through this Monday, now that all of your pie leftovers are gone. So here's a picture of Candy Graham to cheer you up.

Oh geez, this kid!

Let's get this Christmas season started!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Boils and Stuff

1. I just texted Cynde, "Remember that one time we got caught in a hail storm with a bunch of German tourists overlooking Circus Maximus? Let's go back to Rome!" We were on our way to stick our hands in the Bocca della Verita when suddenly the skies opened and rain and hail poured down and the only cover we had was a cypress tree that we had to share with like 20 other people, which is silly considering that cypress trees give about zero coverage. But we all had shifted to one side of it to at least block the hail from pelting us.We just kept laughing at how ridiculous the whole thing was. It's one of my favorite memories from the trip.

2. Who wants to come light all of my stuff on fire? Or at the very least move it out to the dumpster for me. Because I really don't want to pack any of it. Did I tell you I'm moving to Chino? Katie and I are taking care of Mom and Dad's house while they're on their mission. I'm sure you'll hear me whine about how much I hate moving over the next month so I won't bore you now. But really, come and throw everything away for me, will you.

3. Here's a free tip: while preparing your seminary lesson about the plagues of Egypt don't look up pictures of them. Some are fine, like flies and hail. Frogs are comical. Lice makes you itchy. Locusts are disturbing. I mean, sweet land of liberty, can you imagine? Any large, winged bug is a nightmare. But you're really getting into horror territory when you look up boils and dead cattle. I couldn't stop looking at the pictures of boils. And they just kept getting worse the more I scrolled. And then I came across one of a butt covered in boils and I nearly died because a.) it was gross, and b.) I kept hearing Ouiser screaming, "He is a boil on the butt of humanity."

4. If you can believe it, I finished Graham Master Flash's stocking before his first Christmas. I've made all of my nieces and nephews stockings and most have had to wait several years. But because I have to pack up the World's Largest Felt Collection I thought I'd just buckle down and do it. So I watched many episodes of the Great British Baking Show (who else is watching this and don't you LOVE it?! Do you think we should stage an intervention for Ruby before she throws herself off a cliff because she didn't have a good bake?) and stitched my heart out.  I am amazed at how neat my stitched writing looks compared to my actual handwriting. It's my one true Lady of Elegant Leisure skill.

5. I snapped this picture the other morning of this palm tree, the moon, Venus, Jupiter, and Mars, which you cannot see but is there, I promise.  Everyone should start their day out with a little cosmic viewing.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Stout-hearted men

While checking in on the ISS space walk this week I noticed something when they showed mission control at Johnson Space Center:  Tupperware.

See it? Down in the right corner? Are they having a space walk pot luck?! Did someone bring in brownies? Astronaut shaped sugar cookies? How often do they have these? Is it every Wednesday or just for space walks? Obviously, I need to know these things for when I get the call from NASA. I don't want to look like a noob. There's just something so perfect about space nerds bringing in treats for each other while they watch two of their colleagues bob around outside the space station.

In other news I went to the Upland High School fall choir concert last night. About half of all of my previous and current seminary students are in a choir and so I thought I'd go support them. My expectations for high school choir concerts is low because I went to a high school that had a crappy choir. And the most exciting one I've ever been to was only memorable because a tenor passed out mid-song and fell into the alto section. But this was great. Four of my boys are in the Men's Choir and they sang a song last night called Men of the Sea. They were fantastic. But the content and the choir made me think of a particular episode of The Wonder Years. (It's a little long and the quality is bad and it has Portuguese subtitles (I think that's Portuguese) but what can you do, right?) Enjoy.

Only one more day and then we're free of the pumpkin-spiced tyranny of Halloween! Although I did manage to come up with a semi-costume for my ward's party. I'm a firm believer that I can make anything out of felt. Add some tulle, a glue gun, jeans and a tee-shirt and you have yourself a casual witch costume.