Monday, July 21, 2014

Not burning

I'm going beach camping for a week so you won't be hearing from me until at least Monday. Don't be sad. I'll think of you fondly as I sit on the sand and not get sunburned. I'm too old for sunburns. I mean, seriously, how dumb was I in my youth when I knew that I could not tan and still I happily sat out in the sun for hours without any protection whatsoever and then spent the next 3 weeks in agony. Oh the blisters! Oh the itching! Oh the pain and the burning and the peeling! And then I would do it all over again because a body has to tan at some point right? Wrong! But no more. The only sunburn I will permit are the random spots I manage to miss with my SPF 50. There are always a few.

My family would go beach camping every summer for most of my teen years. There is nothing better. You know when you go on vacation there's always this pressure to do something. But when you're beach camping the only thing you have on your schedule is the ocean, interspersed with walks to the camp store, leisurely meals around the fire, and long games of Phase 10. Every youthful memory I have of it is dreamy.

See you on the other side, Moon Doggy!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bees, Crickets, and Flappy Birds

You guys, Nature is trying to tell me something. I don't know what. But here are some signs:

1.  A few weeks ago we discovered that hundreds of bees had died in our car port. The ground was covered in all these dead bees. Sometimes the wind would pick them up and swirl them around. How did they die? And why were they all dead right there on the pavement? Did they hit some kind of invisible wall that only bees can feel?

2.  Last week I was sitting in the chair in my room and reading before going to bed when I heard a thump on the light above me. And then when I looked up I saw a cricket coming toward my face. It landed on my shoulder and just sort of sat there until I FREAKED OUT and it leaped onto the wall. I had a serious staring contest with it, trying to decide what to do. It was way too big to smoosh. And it was at a weird angle so that I could not cover it with a cup and slide a paper under it to carry it outside. And I didn't want to swat at it for fear that it would leap at my face again. And I certainly could not sleep with it just sitting on my wall because you know that it would climb into my hair and host a Tupperware party or something. So I did the only logical thing, I ceded my room to it and slept on the couch. I have yet to see it again.

3.  The day after the cricket incident, a crow strolled into the Institute. The missionaries who frequent the place left the door open AGAIN (so help me Elders, if you don't start shutting that door and stop wasting all those tithing dollars on lost air conditioning, I will write to your mothers! Also, stop banging the door when you open it.) and a crow just hopped right in. Naturally, I barricaded myself in my office with several of the students because I hate birds and I think I would die if one flew into my office. They're just so flappy and unpredictable. At any moment a bird could fly at you and peck your eyes out. He wandered into the classroom, after a failed attempt at taking over the director's office. But he would not be shooed outdoors so one of the elders grabbed a sweatshirt and bravely bundled him up and set him outside and finally shut the door. And then the bird just stood there, staring at us through the glass door. Plotting, no doubt.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ukulele Lady

You would think that a ukulele fest in LA would be full of hipsters and Zooey Deschanel look-alikes. But it was mostly just a bunch of old people. Which meant that it was right up my alley. The Music Center puts this on every summer and I decided to see what it was all about. I have a ukulele that I inherited from my grandma and I know about 4 chords. Which can actually get you really far but I wanted to learn a little technique too. So I headed over to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and joined 300 fellow strummers for a few hours of serious thumb and pinkie pain. Who knew that playing the ukulele would hurt so much? The teachers all said this was to be expected. Maybe they should have put that in the flier.

Despite the pain, it was a blast. There were several classes and I met some fun people. You all know my theory about going to things like this, you're going to have fun because you're surrounded by people who are fun and looking for it. Everyone is already invested. They took the effort to get down there and have a good time with like-minded people. That's why going to these sorts of things alone is not a problem because you're bound to make friends.

I felt like most of us were all at the beginner level but I was at a disadvantage because it seemed like everyone there knew a ton about ukuleles. Nearly every person I talked to had extensive knowledge about brands and styles and shops and old men living in grass huts in Hawaii hand crafting instruments. Apparently if you own a ukulele you have to know everything about it before you actually learn how to play it. All I know about mine is that it was my Grandmas. And it's a cheap-o little thing that I love. Which is enough for me.

Also, everyone pronounced it without the y sound at the beginning, which I know is the proper pronunciation but I can't bring myself to do it. I'm not Giada, okay!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cursed feet

FOR THE LOVE OF FLIP FLOPS, I HAVE GOT TO STOP CUTTING UP MY FEET!!! It's like a gypsy woman has placed some kind of curse on my poor feet because they've been a disaster all summer.

Near the end of seminary the porta-pulpit I use in class fell and landed on my right foot and left a substantial gash on top of it. And then about 4 weeks later, after it was nearly healed and I could start wearing something besides flip flops, I  clipped the back of the same foot with a metal gate door and said so long to about 3 inches of skin.

Just yesterday I put on sneakers for the first time without any bandages and only minimal pain and I rejoiced.

So of course today I stubbed my left pinkie toe on a shopping cart wheel and it lifted the nail and I left a trail of blood in the Stated Bros. parking lot. A trail of blood that I hope will finally satisfy the gypsy woman so this curse can be lifted. Do you think if I explained that I can't get pedicures with open flesh wounds she'd help me out? Gypsy or not, every woman understands the peril of gnarly feet.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Amber Waves of Grain

Circumstances brought us into possession of 120 sparklers. And a neighbor had music playing from his truck all night. Which is how the annual Knecht Independence Day Spectacular: A Very Ghetto 4th ended with us dancing in the streets to slow jams with 5 sparklers in each hand while illegal fireworks exploded overhead. Look, there would have been dancing in the streets without the sparklers and the music, but that just meant that instead of a really fun night it became a magical night.
And it looks like we have a new Knecht Family Tradition: painting on major holidays. We did it on New Years Eve and now again on the 4th. It's a blast. None of us claim to have any real talent for it (Lindsay could though) so it takes the pressure off and we just have fun. The theme was America, natch. We ended up with original works of apple pie, baseball bats, the flag, fireworks, and I did amber waves of grain:
It was America all over the place. And it was beautiful.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Keep it classy, America!

Happy Independence Day! Oh, I just love this holiday. There's the Twilight Zone marathon and corn on the cob (you remember how I taught you to butter it, right?) and illegal fireworks going off in the neighborhood while we dance in the street. It is a glorious day.

But you know this already, so I'm going to do a public service here and give my list of appropriate and inappropriate uses of the flag on clothing. Celebrate America by not being tacky:


1.  Simple flags on a t-shirt or a hat.
3.  Flag pins.
4.  An Uncle Sam hat,  because it is iconic
5.  Any tastefully artistic rendering of the flag
6.  Converse, because Chucks = America


1.  Leggings
2. Shorts
3. Denim diapers

4.  Swim suits
(Basically just keep it away from your crotch.)
5.  Whole shirts (you have to turn in your passport if it has a denim collar.)

I know you're trying to be patriotic and fun. But can't you just wave a flag and lose some fingers to a rogue firework like the rest of us?

Have a great day and let freedom ring!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Poutine on Canada Day

How did you celebrate Canada Day yesterday? I have no real Canadian connection but I felt like celebrating it. It's what Anne Shirley would do. Except she would also have hung maple leaf bunting around Green Gables and made crowns of wildflowers for her and Diana and recited a poem that she wrote to the Spirit of Canada. Marilla would just roll her eyes and Matthew would smoke his pipe and beam.

I didn't do any of those things. But I did make poutine for dinner. Can you think of another distinctly Canadian food? Carabou steak? Mugs of melted snow? I don't even know. But I sang the first line of O Canada. And I read the first chapter and Anne of Green Gables and delighted in Rachel Lynde agonized over why Matthew was driving his buggy out of Avonlea in his suit when she knew there were turnips to plant.

Why celebrate Canada Day? Why not. It just seemed neighborly to do so. And also, I like poutine. This was my first time making it and the hardest part was figuring out where to find cheese curds. (Sprouts, if you're looking. They were all out of the fresh ones because of course there would be a run on curds on Canada Day.) Here's the recipe I used. Don't be a hero, just use frozen fries. But I draw the line at canned gravy. We have to have standards.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hair Manifesto

Do you ever look at someone's hair and think, what is that thing growing on top of her head?

No, of course you don't. Because you're a decent human being.

I never think that either. In fact, I normally think the opposite. I think everyone has great hair. Whether it's sleek or frizzy or short or long, I always think that everyone's hair looks beautiful and well kept and enviable.

Except for my own. I always think my own hair looks ridiculous. Which is insane. I have great hair. It holds curl like a champ. I love my natural color. It's healthy and full (remember when I was loosing my hair?! Those were Dark Days. But I've recovered and now it's a mane.) And I can almost guarantee that no one is whispering under their breath, "Will you have some dignity Rachel and manage that tumbleweed of yours". No one is thinking that!

It's just that I see my hair every day. I know it intimately. I know where all the cowlicks are. It is very fluffy at times and other times it looks like an oil slick. I now have this random dent in my hair that has formed just above my left temple. And it is as infuriating as it is hilarious. But who doesn't have a complicated relationship with their hair? We all think it looks gross just as much as it looks great.

And frankly, I'm kind of tired of feeling bad about my hair. So a few weeks ago I decided to stop feeling bad about it and to just embrace it. I'm embracing the fluff! I'm embracing the cowlicks! I'm embracing the weird dent. I've already decided to embrace my gray hair when it really starts coming in because have you seen my mom? She has glorious silver hair. And the few grays that I have now look like lightening strikes coming out of my head, which naturally make me feel like one of the X-Men, which naturally makes me think of Hugh Jackman and all is right with the world.

So there, I'm embracing it and I'm happy with it. Which means that it was a really easy jump to cutting it myself. Wait, what? Yes. I got out of the shower last night and thought, well why not. I've always wanted to try it. I've watched videos on YouTube. I have sharp scissors. Let's just do this thing. I mean, the worst that could happen was that I hate it and I have to call Sarah up and have her fix it. Which means that I would get to hang out with Sarah. There was nothing to lose.  So I did it and I kind of love it.

I took about two inches off and with it came all my layers and any apprehension about cutting my own hair. It was easy and I felt great afterwards. And then I posted a picture of a CVS bag full of my hair on Instagram (@rachelsaysso), which I realize now was gross.  Loose wet hair makes me gag. This may very well be a mid-life hair crisis but it is certainly cuter and cheaper than a Camero.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This and That, Volume 37 (I'm guessing. Who knows.)

1.  We did it again! The Save the Pits bill made it through another committee, this time in a landslide. We have one more committee and then the full Senate and I think we'll be back in business.

2. I got a text from Camille yesterday saying, "Fergus Murphy is the chair for Nadal's match right now." Wimbledon is going on and Camille and I like to keep each other up on anything noteworthy so the other doesn't miss it. And Fergus Murphy is noteworthy to us. We saw him call a match at Indian Wells a few years ago and he was charmingly sassy. He's been our favorite ever since. Having a favorite chair umpire means that we've hit a new level of crazy for tennis. So be it.

3.  There was a weird battle going on the other night at Las Brisas. The gross neighbors across the way were loudly using every swear word in the English language while discussing what to have for dinner. Because you need to. But their upstairs neighbors were having their Bible study and the praise band was out and I think they had microphones. This is such a brilliant tactic. And it worked. The gross neighbors clammed up and went inside. I'm going to play really loud hymns on the piano the next time they start up.

4. I've had a popcorn kernel stuck in my throat for 3 days now. It is obnoxious and I'm afraid that my throat is going to close around it and I'll die. Farewell, cruel world!

5.  My car was sluggish to start this morning. Same yesterday. It had all the signs of a dying battery. So I sucked it up and drove over to Wal-Mart, even though I have bad feelings towards it. But the convenience, you know. Anyway, I turned it off and went to go talk to a guy and then tried to turn it back on and it was dead. Which means that for once in my life I actually sensed a problem with my car and fixed it right away instead of ignoring it and praying that it disappears. What a grown-up!

Monday, June 23, 2014

I said good morning Gil!

What About Bob is on Netflix and now my life is complete. 

Watching it right now has taken me back to when I watched it the first time at Anita's 16th birthday party that wasn't a birthday party because she was Jehovah's Witness so it was a party near her birthday. Later we ate pizza and made up dance routines to Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now. Ah, youth.

In unrelated but totally important news, we have another chance to be solid citizens. The Newport Beach fire pit resolution has made it to the second round of comittees. Feel free to call and ask for their support of AB1102 by 830 tomorrow morning. Leaving a message is fine. Let your lovely voices be heard. These people really want to hear from you.

Senator Fran Pavley (Chair) (916) 651-4027
Senator Anthony Cannella (Vice Chair) (916) 651-4012
Senator Noreen Evans (916) 651-4002
Senator Jean Fuller (916) 651-4018
Senator Ben Hueso (916) 651-4040
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (916) 651-4019
Senator Ricardo Lara (916) 651-4033
Senator Bill Monning (916) 651-4017
Senator Lois Wolk (916) 651-4003