Thursday, March 16, 2017

What a shot!

You're not going to believe this but this was my and Camille's 10th year* of going to that lovely tennis tournament out in the desert. (It actually has a name. It's the BNP Paribas Open and it's the 5th largest tennis tournament in the world, just after the 4 grand slams.) It's hard to believe right? And I do appreciate you letting me bore you with pictures and tales of the shirtless old men who hang out there. You can scroll through every March archive of this old blog and see recaps of our adventures on the surface of the sun. Let's not break with tradition.

1. Aside from the tennis, and the frozen lemonade, and all the sunshine, the best part of the event is all the people watching we get in. At the very first match we went to I pointed out a guy sitting across the way with blindingly white teeth. We joked about how he must be a dentist with an addiction to the whitening lamp. Then shortly afterwords I noticed a lady in the same section with an interesting hat so Camille took a picture in order to zoom in so we could figure out what was on it. So here's the first picture:


And here's the hat:


Dolls, it turned out. Look, the sun is punishing and I wore an outrageously large number the whole weekend so I'm not going to judge any one's head gear. You do you, Doll Hat Lady! Also notice Santa, and the faces of the two guys in the front.

But look what else she captured:


SUPER WHITE TEETH GUY! Just smiling away and wondering when he can get back to his lamp. 

2. I would like all of us to take a moment to appreciate that the man pictured below chose to wear this outfit in public.


That's an orange sweatsuit--shorts edition. Bold move, friend.

3. We sat in the front row the whole weekend. Bleachers are for noobs. Don't tell anyone though. I don't want word getting around that one of the perks of the front row is that you can use the extra drinks barrel behind the player seats as a hat rack. 


4. The last match we attended was Feliciano Lopez and Dusan Lajovic. Now, you should know that Andy Murray's mom's nickname for Feliciano is Deliciano Lopez, and not for nothing. He is not ugly. And there is a lot of cat-calling going on from the ladies in the stands. After the warm up and right before the match started the two players were at their seats and Feliciano was drinking some water and then suddenly he tilted his head back and poured the water over it and shook out his hair. And all four of us (Lindsay and Susie joined us for Saturday) just kind of stared, like everything was in slow motion and a funky bass line was playing in the distance. It was memorable. So then the match started and the first set ended and Lajovic, as many players do, took off his shirt to changed it, and immediately after Lopez poured more water over his head. As if to say, "Challenge accepted!" We had a real sexy-off on our hands. All of that changed once Lopez blew his nose into his towel. But for a while things were smoldering. It was an awesome match, Lopez lost and jetted off the court in a flash but Lajovic, who we were sitting directly behind, packed up and then threw his (clean and unused) towel at Camille. Like it was a Wayne Newton concert or something. 

5. We caught the first few games of a doubles match and this is how the guy at the net stood, in case you're looking to improve your form.




6. We've been going long enough to remember when the grounds used to be filled with orange trees in full bloom. It smelled like heaven on earth. But they took them all out to build Stadium 2 and a tacky bar. We thought they were all gone but we lucked into a great parking spot that brought us through an entrance we had never used before and lo, there were orange trees in bloom. We all stopped and breathed deeply. Except for Susie who is from New York so the smell of orange blossoms is not part of her genetic make-up. But she humored us and took a whiff and managed to be a creeper in this picture of Camille sniffing.


Other delights:

Trying to guess the ball kids' names and shouting it out to see if they would look. "Hey, Charlotte!" "Ethan, over here!" and the stranger next to me cracking up when she realized what we were doing. You should totally sit next to us at sporting events. We're hilarious. 

Hearing the 80 year old Tennis Sage sitting behind us who had a massive speech impediment shout out, "What a shot!" except is sounded like "What a szchot!"  

The court manager giving us each a tennis ball, just because. I don't know, we tend to generate a lot of good will. 


All the people from different countries support their players. Croatia was in the house. Romania was in the same house with a bigger flag.




The ball kid coordinator who was so positive with them - cheering them on, reminding them to drink water and put on sunscreen -- that we had to stop him to compliment him on his efforts and then he ended up being a real close talker and telling us his entire life story (grew up in Van Nuys, was a teacher for 34 years, 3 daughters, 7 grandchildren, lives next door to the tennis gardens, living the dream) and that people are really drawn to him because he "exudes positivity." I'll say!

Standing in the security line, jostling for a better position, and saying to Camille,"You've got to use strategery." And the lady behind me saying, "That's not a word." So I explained it to her because we had plenty of time. And then about a half hour later I'm coming out of the bathroom stall and I hear someone shout, "Stategery!" at me. Line Lady!

The full moon rising in between palm trees over purple mountains as we walked back to our car on the last night. Perfection.
 


*Not consecutive. It would have been our 11th but Camille left on her mission right after we went our first time and we missed a year. Whatever Camille. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

High Sleep Standards

Is it lame to blame my lack of blog writing on my ludicrously early bedtime? I am very strict with it and I don't let myself start things after 8 for fear that it will cut into my sleeping time, so there you have it. No new blog posts for a whole month. Because I am an old woman.

(An additional sign of old-woman-hood is my advocating for early bedtimes like it's my job. You guys! You know how all day long you're like, "Woe is me! I'm so tired! Why?! What is my life?!" and then you look back at the night before and realize that you stayed up until 1 a.m. doing a fat lot of nothing simply because you didn't want to go to sleep? News flash! You could have been asleep. Go to bed! I have this conversation at least once a week with the 14-24 year old crowd I spend most of my day with. And thus concludes your old-lady lecture.)

Things I could have written about at the time but chose to instead fall asleep. 

1. A murder mystery scavenger hunt at the Getty wherein my combined love of art and sleuthing came together. It was SO MUCH FUN! Promise me you'll do it. And invite me along. Because I want to do it again. 

2. A riotous birthday party for Katie. All the sisters were in town and we invited a bunch of funny women over and we ate great food and we made them paint because, look, if you're friends with a Knecht at some point we will make you paint with us. Earlier in the day we went into Pasadena and tried a restaurant called Spudds that specializes in poutine. Every time I have poutine it confirms my belief that Canadians are on to something, despite the fact that they also eat ketchup chips. 

3. Just this week a girl came into my office to chat and asked what I did over the weekend and I said that I did a lot of house work while watching Anne of Green Gables. And she said, "What's that?"  I am proud to say that I did not banish her from society forever, which was my initial thought. But how can you have lived 19 years without so much as hearing of Anne of Green Gables?  And I don't mean not having read the book or seen the movies because we all have our own tastes. But to never have even heard of her? Am I way off on this, or is this nutso? You know what I need? Spare copies of the book and movie so when people make such shocking admissions I can just hand them over. "Come child, let me introduce to you the magic that has been missing from your life." I have been known to send copies of the The Blue Castle to people when they tell me they have never read it. I can't lend my copy out. Are you crazy? That book is dear to me. But I can certainly do my best to get a copy into their hands. It takes a village. 

4. All this glorious rain. But all that really needs to be said about it is, take that, drought!

5. I had a Bob Costas Sochi Olympics level bout of pink eye. I don't know where I got it from although at the same time I was suffering I saw a lot of posts from mothers saying their kids had it too. And just prior to getting it I had a meeting where I shook a lot of dads' hands. It lasted a full week and I looked like the living dead because the antibiotics made the bags under my eyes look like I was squirreling away mini marshmallows in them. Also, the goop. 

6. This video of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band playing You Never Can Tell without any rehearsal is the coolest. The beginning when he's trying to find a good key he goes Full Bob Dylan.


Monday, January 16, 2017

FAKE!

The pitch made by the makers of the movie La La Land: "Picture it - a musical set in modern-day Los Angeles. We'll have a dance number at Griffith Observatory. And little scenes shot on Angels Flight, and Watts Towers, and Grand Central Market. And a spectacular opening number in a traffic jam overlooking the city. And we'll have sunshine and palm trees and John Legend. I think Rachel is going to love it." Why were the creators of this movie talking about me in the pitch for the film, you ask? Because it was obviously made for me. The tag could have been: "For Rachel. Duh." I have been spending the last 2 weeks getting over a cold so I wouldn't be That Person in the movie theater but the expelling of lungs has slowed down and I finally got to see it this weekend and they were right, I loved it. Who wants to go into the city with me for spontaneous dancing?

A note on music in movies: I get really annoyed when the movement of the musicians in a movie don't match the music that is being played. For example, when someone is playing the piano and their arms are clearly moving in the opposite direction of the notes.  It drives me bonkers and it happens in A LOT of movies. I realize all of it depends on editing but it just looks shoddy to me. Of course I don't expect actors to play the instrument but at the very least learn the basics of how it should look. So it's very high praise from me that I thought Ryan Gosling did a passing job as a jazz pianist. It was clear that he wasn't playing but it was also clear that he made a solid effort to look like he was.

Can I make a total change of subject? The other day I was watching the spacewalk on the ISS, as I do. Although they've been available for viewing online for ages NASA has recently been live-streaming them on Facebook. Which, as you would imagine, opens this experience up to a whole bunch of kooks with keyboards. I'll give you a sampling of the comments that flashed by: "Fake! The government has been lying to us about space exploration for decades! They're hiding aliens from us." "Fake! This was obviously filmed in a swimming pool." "Fake! Where's the sun?" (This was asked when the ISS orbited to the night side of the earth. It is what we like to call a shadow.) "This is actually filmed on a secret base on the moon that they don't want us to know about." I would say about 10% of the comments were like this. What can you say? People are dumb.

But also, people are magical because there was a whole group of folks who were saying, "Fake! The Earth is flat and the government doesn't want you to know that so they filmed this on earth and made a computer generated spherical earth to fool you. WAKE UP PEOPLE!"  You guys! There are people who really believe the earth is flat. In 2017. People with brains and computers and eyeballs. There's an entire society with a website. You have got to check this out. It is hilarious. They call me, you (I presume), and every other fool who believes in a round earth Globularists. Isn't that the best? They pride themselves on being radical freethinkers. I'll say! What a grand world we live in.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Penny for your thought

First thing first:



I know I post this video all the time but a.) What, like you're tired of it? and b.) I feel like we can never celebrate his jubilant hand clapping enough, especially now that he has died. We were all lounging around in our jams on Christmas afternoon when we heard the news and we instantly turned on this video to remember him.

Now, on to Christmas. We were all a little apprehensive about Christmas this year, what with my parents being on their mission. We knew it was going to be weird. You really discover how much your mom means to the whole spirit of the season when she's across the country. But we pressed forward. Gina, Chris, Levi, and Camille came down from Utah and Lindsay and Susie joined in with a lot of the festivities. Katie and I made, cut, wrapped and gave out about 1300 caramels. We hosted a couple of parties, including the Knecht Family Party, where we had a legit bell concert. We put up the full array of decorations, even though we told ourselves that we would mainly just do the tree. We sang in choirs and went to church parties and school concerts and the Chino Christmas Parade. We went out to LA to see the temple lights and even dropped in on my ice cream boyfriend Leo to wish him a merry Christmas. (He had carob clove ice cream in stock and I don't even really know what carob is and every time I've had it it has been as a substitute for chocolate so I naturally think it's a tool of the devil. But this ice cream blew my mind. It tasted like Christmas. I don't know how he does it!) We watched A LOT of Hallmark Christmas movies. So many. And I'm not going to justify it to you because you know that they're awesome. All of these things combined, plus the Church's Christmas initiative to Light the World, really made for one of my favorite Christmas seasons in memory.

Conveniently the first night of Hanukkah was also Christmas Eve so the Appels invited us over for a party. Val told the story of the Maccabees, Joseph, although a Hebrew school drop-out, said the blessing and Rosemary lit the menorah and then we all ate latkes, matzo ball soup, donuts, tamales, and chips and salsa. It was a true Southern California Hanukkah/Christmas/Mormon/Jewish festival. Later, I read a poem my dad wrote for the occasion and Val read David Sedaris' "Six to Eight Black Men" and we laughed and told stories and generally felt the warm glow of a friendship that has spanned decades.



It's been such a lovely season. Tomorrow Katie and I drive up to Utah for a week with our people in the Frozen North. I'm not mentally prepared for the cold and snow but I am prepared for laughing with the kiddos. 

Speaking of laughing, this video has been on repeating at my house and we cannot stop laughing over it.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

"This is a beautiful view."

I would like to point out that all the men of the British Royal Family are wearing knickers and stockings in this picture.















Also, some kind of garter. This is glorious! Although William looks skeptical. I wonder who decides what ceremonial attire the men will wear. Probably the queen. She must have a thing for shapely legs.

Have you been watching the Crown on Netflix? I have notes: namely, Prince Phillip is a bit of a hunchy crank. I've always suspected him to be such, but for crying out loud, he KNEW that she was going to be queen someday. Maybe not so quickly, but King George VI had to have had some kind of ominous cough to give him a hint that the lung cancer was lurking. For crying out loud, everyone back then had to have known that a cough equaled imminent death. I keep finding myself yelling at him to stop whining about how unfair his life is and stand up straight and support his wife.

Speaking of royals, this Prince Christmas tree is possibly the greatest of all themed Christmas trees:




If I did not have a beloved family Christmas tree to honor I would have done this and invited you all over to hold hands around it and sing the opening lines to "Let's Go Crazy."

Whilst celebrating A Very Oregon Thanksgiving with Casey & Fam we went out Christmas tree hunting. It looked like this.



















Hideous, right. This little farm is 15 minutes from their home and it smelled exactly how this picture makes you image it would smell. Only better because there was a fire going nearby so it smelled like rain and moss and pine and camp fire. We took a little tractor ride around the place and saw some miniature horses and had hot cocoa. All of it was magical. And we found the perfect tree and we actually did stand around it and hold hands and sing like we were in a Charlie Brown Christmas. And then we had to play ring around the rosy because Graham thought that's what we were doing.

Speaking of Graham:



Kylea sent this picture a few weeks ago and I spent a good 20 minutes just staring at it and figuring out how I could move up there so I could devote all of my time to squeezing his cheeks. It is the very essence of Graham. Dumb Oregon and your beautiful vistas.















Straight from the airport we went up to Vista House, which is this amazing little Art Nouveau rest stop overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. On the way there Addie asked where we were going and I said, as Charlotte to her Lucy, "To see a view." And she asked what a view was and I explained that it was a lovely thing to look at. And a couple of times over the week when we were out and about in the rain and the cold I overheard her say to herself, "This is a beautiful view." What a gal!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

P as in Peaver

Tales from the Institute. I love my job.

1. While on an hour long phone call trying to get the Institute projector fixed, I had the following exchange with a customer service representative:

Rep: That's "p" as in "peaver"
Me: Excuse me?
Re: P as in Peaver
Me: B as in Beaver?
Rep: No P as in Peaver
Me: P as in Paul?
Rep: No P as in Peaver
Me: B as in Boy
Rep: Yes. P as in Peaver

The projector was still not working by the end of the phone call but we wiggled some cords and it unfroze and when it asked for a password that we did not have we tried 0000 and like magic it started working.

2. I cook lunch every Thursday for the kids. It's usually an easy meal, sandwiches or something in the crockpot. But every Thanksgiving, per tradition, I have to cook enough large pieces of meat to feed 40 people (half of them football players) for our lunch and I gag over turkey giblets or warm gelatinous ham fat because I am a delicate flower and can only handle cooking meat in small portions and I end up weeping in a corner questioning all the decisions I've made in life that led me to this point. This year I decided to not be a dummy and we had a BBQ instead. I put our director at the grill and all I had to do was chop vegetables and mix the Kool-aid. The kids don't care what they eat and there was zero gagging! There was a small casualty, though. I took over at the grill for a little bit and as I went to flip a burger there was a terrific bang and a burst of flames and suddenly most of the hair on my right arm was singed off. I still have my eyebrows, thank heavens. The lighter, which had been sitting on the stand next to the grill, had exploded and shot off over the roof. But I think lost arm hair is a small price to pay for not having to put my hand inside a turkey to pull out its neck and guts.

3. Before lunch today a guy walked in asking if he could borrow a cup and our microwave to warm up his tea, which he had in a gallon jug and looked to be just water with lettuce and orange peels in it. I pointed him in the direction of the kitchen and asked his name and he said, "It's Jeremy, but that one doesn't matter. People call me Emmanuel. That's the important one." I didn't want to break it to him that at least once a semester we have some vagabond wander in calling himself Emmanuel and prophesying. He reached out to shake my hand then got very serious and said, "I believe you are going to marry the greatest man." Then he went off to the kitchen to drink his tea out of a flower vase. I get this often. When you're a single Mormon woman of a certain age people like to be encouraging and to be honest, though well intended I can do without it. But if a drifter comes in and makes such a pronouncement like he's Professor Trelawny I suppose I should take it. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Country Western Existential Crisis

Thoughts I had while at a free Brad Paisley concert for Frontier Communications customers:

1. Is it obvious to all of these folks around me that I barely know who Brad Paisley is?

2. Is it obvious to all of these folks that I don't like country music?

3. I suppose this proves my love for free outdoor live music is greater than my disinterest in country music.

4. Why are there more trucker hats than cowboy hats? Are they the new Stetson? And if so, that's a real shame because if you're given a chance to wear a Stetson why wouldn't you? Trucker hats are just as lame as they've always been.

5. Those two guys are literally wearing overalls and tank tops and trucker hats and carrying 2 giant beers each.

6. Remember when overalls were all the rage back in the 90s and how comfy they were?

7. Whatever happened to my overalls?

8. How much is this costing Frontier?

9. How badly did they screw up on their transition for Verizon?

10. How often does Brad Paisley do corporate events? And how much does he hate himself for it? Probably not too much.

11. How many times is he going to mention hanging out on the banks of a river/lake in one of his songs?

12. That must be nice to have a last name that is so conducive to cool guitar designs. All I could put on a guitar would be a silhouette of a feudal serf.

13. I think he's on his 7th guitar change over.

14. Who in the H is smoking around here?! Dumb new pot law!

15. If the opening act grew up in Orange County then where did he get his southern accent?

16. Is Brad Paisley this boring at all of his shows or just the corporate events? I mean, he's talented but would it kill him to crack a joke?

17. Am I partially to blame for this? Can he sense that some of us are neither fans of him nor his genre but are going along with a giant corporation essentially buying art for the amusement of the masses? Are we all just minor nobles in the Medici court?

18. Is country music bringing about an existential crisis in me?

19. Do not take that free Brad Paisley/Frontier Communications red trucker hat, Rachel!

Monday, November 7, 2016

They've All Gone to Look for America

Well, we did it. We made it to the end of this miserable election cycle. It has been a giant bag of vomit from start to finish and I think we all deserve a firm pat on the back and a nice long nap for having endured it.

Were I the Queen of All Election Stuff I would make it so that candidates could only campaign for six month. And they'll have to do it the old fashioned way, by train. They will zigzag across this beautiful nation of ours, and stand on the back of the caboose which is decked out with buntings, of course, and tell us what they think. There will be small boys in overalls ready to throw tomatoes at them if they tell a lie but we will listen to them respectfully and kindly and enthusiastically because freedom of speech is beautiful and democracy is thrilling. A band will play some kind of John Philip Sousa march because those are always stirring. And after they ride off to the next town the good people will gather together and talk like civilized human beings about what they heard and what they think. There won't be ugly words or groundless accusations. Anyone who says anything mean will be put in time-out for a few minutes and then given a hug. Root beer floats will be served. Basically, we'll act as if our mothers are with us. Wait, no, I don't know your mother. We'll act as if MY mother were with us. 

Until that time, let's be nice to each other and stop thinking that someone who disagrees with you is evil and deserves your ire. They are not and they do not. In fact they probably want the same things you do. Stuff like safety and security for their families, a solid job, a home in a happy neighborhood, and a good taco place nearby. Just because they have a different vision than you do for how to get those things does not make them bad. It just makes them human.

Let's hug people tomorrow! And watch this video of one of my favorite songs about America. There is truly nothing more American than Art Garfunkel's hair.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Baby you can drive my car off a cliff

Oh geez, guys. I bought a car last night. Which I had no intention of doing that morning. I didn't really want a car payment but do you know what else I didn't want? To sit in a tow truck again having 12 miles of awkward conversation with the driver.

How about a rundown of my car in the last two months. In the beginning of August two of the cylinders needed to be replaced along with a bunch of other small things. Four weeks later the alternator needed to be replaced. And then on Wednesday the transmission went out. Miraculously it started giving up about a mile from work and I was able to make it to my parking lot, where I did not break down and weep, as I fully expected. Because weeping is my body's natural response to cars being jerks. No, I wept later in the day at home. Plenty. Because even I know that a transmission costs the price of a kidney.

I had it towed to my mechanic Maha and he called back yesterday morning at 10 with an estimate. $2400 was the cheapest option. Even if I had it I didn't want to spend it on a car that was only going to have something else quit in another 3 weeks. I am positive that the next thing would be the engine growing a mouth, insulting my hair, and then exploding, which I don't think Maha could fix! So I gave myself a few minutes of deep breathing and then decided I needed to buy a car. 

At this exact moment Camille messaged me about the car, seeing how things were going. And I told her Maha's estimate and she was aghast as any good sister would be. And then she said she was sure that a way would open up. And I believed her because one always does. I just did not expect it to open so soon. Because as soon as I started looking I found a car I liked from a reputable place at a price I could handle so I called and got the financing all worked out and the car put on hold and in 20 minutes it was all done. Twenty minutes! I should tell you that I NEVER have been so quick and single minded in making a big decision. It generally takes me days of worrying and dithering to act on something and even then I never feel great about it. But as soon as I hung up with my new best friend and car guy Carlos, the panic disappeared, the urge to cry subsided, and clarity and the Blue Bird of Happiness set in. 

I picked her up last night. A Nissan Versa, which means I'm happily back to a small car. I've been driving the Love Boat for the last 2 years. Ok, it was a Camry. But considering all of my previous cars had been little nuggets it felt like I needed a special license and a wide load sign on the back just to take her out on the road. I'm happy. Relieved, really. I sold my old car to Maha and he can shove it off a cliff if he so chooses. Which was what I was planning on doing, if only I could have gotten it to a cliff. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mystery Nuptials

A few weeks ago I noticed this entry in my calendar that I did not put in:



Am I getting married? 

I googled Sherilynn Takushi - Marriage License Agent, obviously, and guess where she at? Maui. Which means I better get to Maui if I'm getting my marriage license on Friday. Don't you think I should go out, JUST TO MAKE SURE! I mean, what if this is legit and my wealthy benefactor is waiting for me? With a Slurpee machine as a wedding present. I've never been to Hawaii and I imagine that my hair isn't going to do so great there, but does that even matter? No. Let's all go to Maui and meet the WB! 

I may have a conflict, however, in that I've just been asked to teach seminary again. Which makes sense. Of course I'm teaching seminary. It was a very restful 9 months (oh, the sleep I got) but it's good to be back. I'm team teaching though so I teach every other week, with is total luxury. I taught last week and was quickly reminded that I am not meant for 6 am. But it's a fun class. I think I'll like it. Who am I kidding, of course I'll like it. What's not to like? Teenagers and the scriptures are two of my favorite things. 

Here's a video to help you through the reality that it's not Friday yet.