Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Awesome

Two things have made this day awesome:

1.) Internet access at work, finally!

2.) Olvera street taquitos with guacamolito sauce!

What has made your day awesome?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Stocking Winner!!!!

I actually had the drawing on Christmas Day (Katie insisted on pulling the name. It was my present to her.) but I didn't post because I barely made it out of my pajamas and off of the couch until now because if you can't spend Christmas weekend almost entirely in your jim-jams then when can you?

So, the winner of the Great Christmas Stocking Giveaway is:

Stephanie!!!!!

Stephanie, my dear friend from Way Back When. Stephanie, who was my constant and beloved companion at girls camp. What would I have done at girls camp without Stephanie? Oh, the fun we had. Here's one of my favorite girls camp memories of Stephanie: We were in some sort of team competition that involved one girl from each team stuffing her mouth with as many marshmallows as possible and Stephanie volunteered for our team and DOMINATED! She may have gotten 20 jumbo marshmallows in her mouth. And it may have been the proudest I have ever been of any of my friends.

Let me know what you would like Stephanie.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stocking Stuffers

1.) Until someone tells me that Avatar is an incredible story with amazing acting I'm not going to see it. Whiz-bang special effects will not carry me through nearly 3 hours of James Cameron's ego.

2.) Today is the official moving day for our office and Chiquita's brother Chuck is helping out. He brought along his friend Mr. Rick. That is what everyone calls him. Mr. Rick. He is sixty if he's a day and every time he comes back up the stairs he huffs and puffs and says, "Boy, I'm tired." Mr. Rick calls Chuck Charles. Chiquita calls him Chuckie or Chuck-a-luck. Chuck calls Chiquita Chi Chi, which I find kind of disturbing. Gary the CPA and Chiquita's ex-husband Phillip are also coming in to help. Chiquita looses patience with all of them if they spend longer than 10 minutes talking to her. She mentioned that we may go out for a two hour taco break while they do the heavy lifting.

3.) Heather and I went to the Mission Inn last night to see the Christmas lights and it was lovely. However, along with the lights were lots of animatronic carolers and scary elves tucked up in the balconies and bell towers. There was one in particular who looked like he was waiting to jump down on your head and gouge your eyes out with his pointy hat. I was disappointed that I couldn't look around the hotel to find and have my picture taken in the Taft Chair which was specially made for President Taft's visit once the original owner of the hotel heard that he got stuck in the White House bathtub due to his girth. My high school history teacher, Mrs. Baker, use to tell this story at least once a week. She would refer to him as Taft the Rotund.

4.) Speaking of former presidents - I am calling 2010 the Year of the Presidents, which mostly means I'm going to learn what order they came in and humorous facts about them that I can bring up at parties to bore all of my friends.

5.) A few people have asked about buying the funny stockings and I think I have enough in my arsenal to start putting them up on Etsy. However, I have no idea what to charge for them. They cost me practically nothing to make. Maybe $2. But they are very labor intensive. They're all hand cut and hand stitched. Most with metallic thread that Satan created. So, if you were in the market for a stocking that had a b-list celebrity on it how much would you be willing to pay?

6.) Holy Cats, this is getting long.

7.) Last one, I promise. But I wanted to show you the other stocking I made this season. I was commissioned by Laura (I will refrain from making Michelangelo/Medici Family comparisons here) to make one for her boyfriend, who loves the old video game Galaga and monkeys.



8.) Okay, I totally lied to you. Because I've just decided to have a Christmas drawing. If you leave a comment before Christmas you will be entered to win a stocking to be delivered sometime before next Christmas. You can choose from any of the ones I've done before (Dwight, the Hoff, Michael Flatly - Lord of the Dance, Mr. T (although not a stocking yet, easily transferable) or Richard Simmons) or you can choose a new one, if I think it's funny enough. Enter now before I make you pay more than $2 for them.

9.) That is all. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas from Me and Richard!

A long time ago, actually way back in January, there was a shindig at my place and I was working on the early stages of a stocking that I showed to my friends. I didn't have anyone in mind for it so I casually said, "Anyone want it?" And Hannah's hand shot up. I noted it in my memory and then folded up the stocking and placed it in the desk that stores the World's Largest Felt Collection and promptly forgot about it until, oh, last week. So I contacted Hannah and said, "Do you remember...?" and she was all, "Duh. Yes!" and I finished it last night and told her to come on over and behold:



Hannah is now the proud owner of a Richard Simmons stocking.
Here, have a closer look:


And even closer, so that you can see how sparkly he is.
And also how uncomfortably short his shorts are.
Merry Christmas from me and Richard!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our talents have evolved

My Grandma Knecht (whose name was LaRue. My other grandma's name was Leola. LaRue and Leola. I double dog dare you to top that.) insisted upon having talent shows at every family gathering. Every Family Home Evening* included time for people to share their talents. Every family party there was someone getting up to play the piano or sing. The biggest and most entertaining being the Knecht Family Christmas Spectacular. But Grandma passed away 15 years ago and we all got older and it just wasn't as cute when my cousins got up and sang Santa Baby so the talent portion of the night took a back seat. We would make a half-hearted attempt at it and ususally get one person to play a Christmas medley but that was it.

So about 5 years ago, in the spirit of Grandma, we resurrected it and my sisters and I started displaying what some may call our greatest talents: making fools of ourselves and laughing like loons over it. We started choreographing elaborate productions numbers. One year we did Whitney Houston's version of Joy to the World and dressed up in graduation robes to look like a gospel choir. Another year we did the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy with tutus. This year we decided to mix things up. You can watch it on the Fam's Blog. I would like to point out that this is not our original performance in front of everyone. The sound did not work on that version so we had to do a retake after everyone left which means that you miss my Uncle Jeep laughing in the corner. And my Grandpa laughing in the other corner. Knecht Family no. 1 talent: laughing. Which, I suspect, is why Grandma loved the talent shows the most.

And in case you're thinking that my sisters and I are the only ones who do the talents my uncle's family did the Mark Jensen Family Christmas - that Will Farrell skit from SNL. There are zero clips of it on the internet but if you've seen it you know what I'm talking about. And if you haven't seen it I'll just tell you that my cousin Jared was spinning around on a lazy susan and singing It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Indeed.

*We know this because my grandma took the minutes of every single FHE for 30 years. I'm not making this up. There are stacks of memo pads filled with detailed accounts of each one. Who was there, who said the prayers, what treats were eaten, important family business brought up that usually consisted of my Aunt Lynn saying, "Scott looked at me weird," every single week. They are a treasure.

Friday, December 18, 2009

To My Sinus Infection

Dear Sinus Infection,

I totally see you sneaking up on me so I'm going to tell you this right now: back it up.

I am Very Busy this weekend. I have back to back to back parties tomorrow that I'm really looking forward to and can't miss because I'm heading up two of them and the third is the Knecht Family Christmas Spectacular, wherein I will be performing a key role in the annual Knecht Girls Musical Number/Dance Party. It has already been choreographed and costumes and props have been selected. There are no understudies.

Additionally, Chiquita has decided that we need to be all moved out of the office by Christmas, even though the lease isn't up until the end of the month. I already hate packing and moving and unpacking enough as it is. I really don't think I can do it if I feel like I have tube socks lodged up my nostrils.

Let's keep this civil.

Rachel

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pros and Cons

The benefits of being one gal in a two-gal business operation during the holidays are:

1.) No awkward holiday parties where the local high school performing group comes and puts on a show and sings Santa Baby to the highest ranking male administrator. Usually the superintendent. Ew. (Every year at the school district.)

2.) No awkward holiday luncheons at a restaurant you would never pick because the food tastes like 3 day old scrabbled eggs, with people who only seem to be able to talk about 1.) their husbands/ex-husbands/lack of husbands, 2.) their cats, 3.) their hatred of the incoming president. (Last year's party with the Doc.)

3.) No holiday luncheons involving the food being spread out on top of the table where dogs are prepped to be spayed or neutered. This site being chosen because the surgery room needs to remain sterile and the top of the freezer where the euthanized animals are kept before pick-up seems slightly inappropriate. (The one Christmas I worked for the vet.)

4.) No obligatory gift giving to every single person you work with, even those you would never socialize with outside of work so you end up giving them a cheap plastic ornament of Santa on a surf board or a CD sampler of synthesized Christmas music you picked up in the discount bin at the gas station for $1.99.

Drawbacks to being one gal in a two-gal business operation during the holidays are:

1.) No office treats brought in my co-workers or clients/patients.

2.) I can't think of anything else.

I came home last night and Katie was, once again, buried in baked goods. She's been baking since October. Okay, no, that's not true. But definitely since Saturday. She's made fancy flavored olive oils and caramels and brownies and cookies and chocolate covered popcorn and seven-layer bars. And she's been wrapping presents and making up goodie plates and for the last three mornings she's hauled off boxes and bags filled with food. And it has made me slightly nostalgic for those days when you could go into work and know that if you wanted some peppermint bark you could probably find some. At the school district we would freeze most of the treats people would bring us and snack on them clear until spring break.

So there are no Christmas goodies in the office. There's no one to bring them in. I suppose I could bring some in but Chiquita is freaked out about her cholesterol (classic Chiquita quote: "I've been eating like two wild dogs and my blood work came back looking like a funeral program.") so I would be the only one eating them and that's just pathetic.

But, on the flip side, I haven't purchased or made a single obligatory gift and there will be no awkward holiday parties as we will probably just go out for tacos or something and Chiquita has too much class to bring up her ex-husband, her cats or politics when we're trying to enjoy some good Mexican food. I'm considering it a Christmas Miracle.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gone the Way of the Corset

What are your thoughts on panty hose?

I haven't owned a pair in years. And I consider them more of a cold weather accessory rather than a required item for modest dressing.
Chiquita, on the other hand, thinks they are a necessary article of underclothes and that if you are in a business setting or church and are wearing a skirt or dress you must wear nylons. In fact, if you're not wearing them she things you're loose. She thinks you're fast. She thinks you're on the prowl for rich men. Bare legs = Woman of Easy Virtue.
I'm sure it's a generational thing. There had to have been a time when pettycoats were going out of fashion and women of a certain age were gasping over the vulgarity of it all and women of another certain age were all, "Chill out. No one wears pettycoats anymore."
Which makes me wonder what more can we get rid of? If for generations women have been ditching their superfluous underthings, which is the next one to go? I'm pretty sure we're down to the essentials. However, I'm prepared to be scandalized.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'm Sparkly Like a Great Big Sparkly Thing!

There is no doubt that I love sparkly things. My brooch collection attests to this. And it's a good thing I do love the sparkle because right now I am covered head to toe in GLITTER. I look like a disco ball! I've spent the morning getting our company Christmas cards ready to send out. They're lovely cards with a dove and holly leaves and about 2 lbs of glitter. Each time a card was moved, breathed on, looked at or thought of a flurry of glitter would swirl around the air and land on me. At first I would dust myself off after each card and then I realized I was fighting a losing battle. I just gave it to the glitter and now it is everywhere. On my lips, in my hair, on my jacket, my sweater, my jeans, my shoes, my socks. I just checked myself in the mirror and I have it all over my face, including my eyelashes. It is both annoying and kind of cheery. I am totally ready for a faerie ball or a rave.

I have yet to clean all the glitter off of the desk I did the cards on because, well, I found out yesterday that Chiquita decided it's time for us to move offices. We're moving to a much smaller place next door (sadly, not into the building the Congressman works in) and we're getting rid of that desk. I like to think that whoever gets it will be thrilled with the touch of sparkle we've left on it.

The move is all part of the Save Our Business plan we have going. We just got an inside scoop that our biggest client is going to be doing major lay-offs in January so we're moving to a cheaper place and I lose my monthly travel stipend and I have to take 2 furlough days a month until things pick back up. It's a bit of a bummer but there are some bright sides. 1.) I get my own bathroom in the new office. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. We share our current bathroom with an office full of women who regularly dump their ash trays in the trashcan and who don't wash their hands. Also, the janitor only cleans once every three days (are you throwing up yet) and we regularly run out of paper goods. It's like we're living in medieval times. 2.) I still have a job. Chiquita really felt horrible about all of this but it was either that or let me go and she didn't want to do that. Nice, huh? 3.) I can use my vacation days for the furlough days. Come to mama, three-day weekends!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Still Cold

1.) Still...freezing...in...office...send...help. The repair guy came and found me huddled in my chair with my hoodie zipped all the way up and my hood tightly secured around my head. He told me it needed some major repairs and had to get the approval from the building owner which means a few more days of this arctic chill. On my break I went outside and stood in the sunshine. There were pools of ice in the shade. If I wanted to live in a place that had ice I would move to Switzerland where I could at least count on finding an excellent cup of hot chocolate and could reasonable get away with wearing one of those really large fur hats.

2.) Guess what I found last night. My missing address book. And guess where it was? THE LOWER CUBBY OF MY DESK RIGHT BY MY DICTIONARY! WHICH IS EXACTLY WHERE I ALWAYS PUT IT BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE IT BELONGS!! THE PLACE WHERE I LOOKED A DOZEN TIMES AND IT WASN'T THERE!!!!!!! For months I looked for it. I would sit at my desk and peer into the place it was suppose to be and wonder where it had gone off to. As predicted, I purchased a new one and hunted down everyone's address again and filled it all up and last night I went to put the new one where it belongs and there wasn't any room so I reached in and pulled out the old one. The old one that wasn't there 2 weeks ago. It is a mystery and I would like for someone to please explain it because I think I may be going a little bonkers.

3.) Katie and I decorated our wee apartment for Christmas last night and, as per tradition, we watched White Christmas. Which reminded me that over Thanksgiving I was down at my parents house helping them with their Christmas decorating, and we were, of course, watching White Christmas and when The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing came on my brother-in-law Chris, who is a DANCE INSTRUCTOR, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!, says, "This is the most boring part of the movie." And a stunned silence fell over the room. Because everybody knows that it's a GREAT part of the movie. And everybody also knows that the most boring part of the movie is Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep. Duh, Chris! It's a good thing you're likable and can reach the top shelves in the kitchen.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hallelujah!

The Hallelujah Chorus is done! Done! Done! Done!!!!! And I didn't have a heart attack or pass out or throw up, as expected, because a miracle happened (as it always does).

The miracle came in the form of my dear friend Sara. I got the simplified music and even that was beyond my skills so I practiced a lot. Basically until my fingers fell off and I had to grow new ones. Poor Katie. Poor neighbors. I owe them all cookies for having to put up with it. The entire last two pages were nothing but sixteenth notes (for non-musical people: sixteenth notes=ludicrous speed) which means that you play 8 pages of challenging music and then, just when you want to take a little nap, it ramps up and you have to plow full speed ahead to the end. So even with all the practicing I still wasn't close enough to decent and near the middle of last week I started to get a little panicky about the whole thing. And then, like an angel from heaven Sara, who heard of my woes, called and volunteered to make it a duet. She played the left hand and I played the right and besides those few measures on page 6 when we both got a little lost, it worked out like a dream. I even got most of the sixteenth notes. Thank you, thank you, thank you Sara!

In other news, it's cold and rainy today. Like 40 degrees cold. Which, in my book is like arctic weather. I half expect to see ice flows with penguins on them. That's how cold I am! It wouldn't be so bad but my space heater blew out and our office heater is broken and the repair guy was suppose to come today but had to cancel because of the rain so I went home on my lunch break and changed into warmer pants and warmer socks and warmer shoes and a warmer shirt and then layered a fleece pull-over AND a fleece lined hoodie on top of it all. Because I'm a wimp. And I am not ashamed. Chiquita has on a hoodie and a down coat. And her space heater works. So basically what I'm saying is, it's cold in here and if this is my last post you will know that I froze to death. Please see if you can get Wayne Newton to sing at my funeral.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How not to apply for a job and Neil Diamond IN THE SAME POST! I am so thoughtful.

1.) Is it bad to judge job applicants on their email address? Because I do all the time. Not to the point of tossing their resume but it does make me hesitate. Shameful, I know but let me give you an example. I just received a resume from someone at "boops04". This makes me believe that she's a Betty Boop fan which instantly makes me question her judgement. If she likes Betty Boop enough to use it in an email address then how far has she taken it? Does she dress like her? Talk all breathy and squeaky like her? Does she have a tattoo on her of her forearm? Can you imagine what Chiquita would say if I sent a client of ours someone with a Betty Boop tattoo?

2.) Speaking of resumes, a girl just sent one to me this morning that had a picture attached. She took it from her computer in her bedroom while sitting on her unmade bed. She had no experience and I normally don't respond to those (I get HUNDREDS every day) but I felt like she needed some guidance and wrote back in a very nice and professional manner that unless she was applying for a cigarette girl position at the local indian casino, no employer needed to see a picture of her.

3.) In other news: Neil Diamond has a new Christmas CD out and I happened to hear the title track, "Cherry, Cherry Christmas", on my way into work this morning. Here's my favorite line: "Have a very merry, cherry, cherry, holly-holy, rockin'-rolly Christmas this year." Which is exactly how I'm going to start greeting people this holiday season. Can't you just hear him singing (and by singing I mean a cross between talking and warbling) in your head? What? You don't have Neil Diamond's voice etched in your brain? You mean when you're in church and someone says "Brothers and Sisters..." you don't instantly hear in your head Neil sing Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show? You are missing out. I love Neil Diamond the same way I love Wayne Newton. Which means the hokier he gets, the less he is able to sing, the more studded denim he wears and the floppier his hair becomes, the more I pray he will call me up one day to be his back-up singer.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Issue with the Door

There is a gentleman who works downstairs who always arrives in the parking lot at the same time I do. Almost every day we go through the same routine. We get out of our cars at the same time and then he will wait at the head of the walkway for me to get there and will let me go ahead of him and then I have to wait at the entrance to the building so he can open the door for me. It is always slightly awkward because there are an abundance of overgrown plants crowding the entryway and we always have to jostle around so that he can open the door and I think "Knights of Columbus, I can open the door myself and we could dispense with the awkwardness of this whole situation." Except that if I open the door he gets a little put off. Which, again, is awkward. I'll walk in and hold the door open for him and he'll say in a very serious voice, "You should let me open the door for you." The tone he uses makes me feel like I flunked out of finishing school.

And sometimes it's worse. Like when a third person is thrown into the mix. This morning another guy from downstairs got in between me and the regular guy on our walk down the path and the door was locked and I had my key and the new guy was fiddling with his and the regular didn't have his out. So I unlocked the door and let myself in and held it open for the fellas and then the regular guy said to the new guy, "You should have opened the door for this lady." I just smiled and said "Have a nice day," and left them to duel over my honor. Pistols at dawn!

I'm kind of middle-of-the-road on the whole door opening business in general. I think it's a very nice gesture but I never expect it. Which is the exact opposite of how Mr. Downstairs views it. It's not just a nice gesture, it's expected. The whole thing kind of goes against my practical nature. It's more practical, and less awkward, for me to open the door if I'm the first to get there. I don't do it because of some feminist principle - as in, "I don't need some man to open any door for me," - I do it because I can and I feel kind of ridiculous standing by a door waiting for someone to open it and let me in. Obviously, because we have this little schtick, I'm going to let Mr. Downstairs continue to open the door for me. Plus I think it's a code of honor for him, like him mom taught him well, and I don't want to disrespect that. But I'm also going to try to get to work 5 minutes earlier to avoid the whole thing. I hate awkward.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Turkey Day

I GOT A TURKEY YESTERDAY! As in, I went bowling and I got three strikes in a row. This is Big News because I generally bowl an 80. On a good day. When the stars are all aligned and I have pixie dust on hand. You may be impressed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful

In last year's Thanksgiving post I said how grateful I was for bras and razors. I run pretty deep.

This year I'm thankful for this kid:



And this kid:
The nephews have been in town since Saturday and we've been reveling in them. The rest of the fam came into town last night. Did you hear the sonic boom when they crossed the California state line? You know what this means right? Seinfeld quotes and head measuring!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Have I mentioned how thankful I am for you? And chocolate? You and chocolate and Tyra Banks make my life complete.

Monday, November 23, 2009

On the Loose

The other day I was driving down a busy street near my office and noticed in the distance a dog trotting down the sidewalk. There was a person, I'm going to assume it was the owner, about 30 yards behind it.

Commence Indignant Internal Monologue:

How reckless of that man to just let his dog roam around without a leash! This street is so busy, the poor thing could see a squirrel or a mailman or a frisbee on the other side and dash into on coming traffic! Isn't it the LAW that a dog has to be on a leash? WHERE are the police when you need them!? I should pull over and open my door and let the dog jump in. That'll teach that jerk to let his d.....huh?

Indignant Internal Monologue completed.

Because it wasn't a dog. It was a pot belly pig. And the owner wasn't ambling behind it, he was running, trying to catch it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Gnome Has It.

For years I use to keep people's addresses in random notebooks or, worse, scraps of paper that I would tuck into notebooks. Or worse yet, I would shove old envelopes into a shoe box and when I would need an address I would shuffle through it hoping that the person sent me something first. This is not conducive to a Life of Elegant Leisure. You can't expect to keep up your correspondence with the aid of a shoebox. It's vulgar, is what it is.

So I bought an address book - a cute pink one! - and it has been vary handy for several years now.

Or it was handy up until a few months ago when it vanished. I say vanished because that is the only plausible explanation. It was spirited away by gnomes or something. Because I don't generally lose things. I have a pretty good grasp of where everything is. I'm not the most organized gal but I like it when things have assigned places. Brooches go in the center drawer of my jewelry box. Ribbon is in the top right drawer of my crafting desk. Let's say I want my Aragorn bookmark that Rac sent to me years ago, I know that it's on the lower shelf of the book cupboard, because that's where bookmarks go. So you can imagine my dismay when I wrote a note to someone a while ago and went to grab my address book from the lower cubby on my desk - the place where it belongs, right next to my dictionary - and it wasn't there. I checked in all the other cubbies and drawers, not there. I checked under the pile of filing I have to do, not there. I checked on the floor around my desk, in the box under the desk, under my bed, in the living room, amongst the shoes in my closet, all around the dining room table. Anywhere an address book could possibly be I looked and came up empty handed. It's a real mystery, my friends.

It's been missing for a couple of months now and I'm ashamed to say that I'm ridiculously stubborn about these sorts of things. I know that as much as I want to believe that it was spirited away by gnomes it wasn't and that it has to be around somewhere and I don't want to buy a new address book and go through the work of getting every one's address and filling them all in again because I know that as soon as I do it will magically appear.

Except that I need addresses. Christmas is coming and I have cards to send out. And several birthdays have come and gone and I have signed and sealed cards that are embarrassingly late now.

So, can you be a pal and email me your address? racheknecht at gmail dot com. You don't have to if you don't want to. I mean, maybe we're not friends and you feel weird sending it to me. Really, how do you know I won't send you bad poetry written in highlighter on strips of toilet paper every week? You don't know. And the truth is, I actually have sent bad poetry written in highlighter on a strip of toilet paper to someone. So you're probably wise in not passing on that info to me. But if we are friends and you think that I may need your address for such things as thank you notes or birthday cards or invitations to lavish galas I occasionally throw then you know what to do. And while your at it send me your birthday and phone number because I keep that stuff in there too.

And if you get an invitation to a lavish gala thrown by a gnome, tell him I want my cute pink address book back.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If I Pass Out, Keep Singing

Every Christmas my stake puts on an enormous creche festival. It runs for 3 nights and people can wander around looking at the hundreds of nativities on display or they can listen to the musical numbers the community puts on and there are poinsettias and twinkle lights and a miniature town of Bethlehem and cutout plywood sheep and it's big, big, BIG. The grand finale is the Hallelujah chorus. The music is passed around and everyone joins in and sings. And this year I have to play the piano for it.

And I'm trying really hard to not curl up and die. Because this sort of thing terrifies me.

You see, I have fooled everyone into thinking that I can play the piano well because I can play the hymns well. But I play the hymns well because I've had 20 years of practice. And, hymns are easy. The Hallelujah chorus = the opposite of easy.

Now, there are some things to be thankful for. The first and most important is that I don't have to play it on the organ. Because you can't imagine how many heart attacks I would have if I had to. The second is that the missionary choir will be the last group to perform which means they will be up on the stand and everyone knows that the one thing missionaries are good at besides eating their weight in lasagna is singing really loud. So I'm hoping they will drown me out. The third is that when people sing the Hallelujah chorus they either know it and sing it with gusto, no matter how muddled the piano playing is, or they don't know it and are so engrossed in keeping up that they don't pay attention to the pianist passing out.

I will tell you this, if I do make it through without passing out, I will shimmy with joy.

In other musical news: My Reign of Terror on the organ has come to an end. The good people of my ward can give a collective sigh of relief. Although I secretly believe that they will miss my super slow rendition of "True to the Faith"* and my sometimes questionable stop combinations. Don't worry folks, once an organist, always an organist. I'll be back.

*The Hardest Song in the Hymnal. Also, the Song Our Chorister Loved to Have us Sing on a Regular Basis until I Put the Eternal Kibosh on Her Ever Choosing it Again.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Blessings

Blessings for waking up at 5am to go to the gym:

1.) I overheard the Cat Woman tell her friend that she dressed up as a vampire from Twilight for Halloween.

2.) I can't think of another blessing but I'm certain that number 1 makes up for it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hazards of Eating Alone

I kind of like going out to eat by myself. Especially at lunch time, after a long morning of telling people that their felony will indeed get in the way of them getting hired by us. It's nice to have a peaceful hour to myself.

But there is a hazard in eating alone. It is this: you have no one to drown out the obnoxious chewers at the table next to you. If you eat with someone else you can talk right through it. But when you're dining alone you have no defense against the smacking lips, the sloshing food, the slurping, the gnawing, the sucking, the talking and talking and talking with their half-chewed sandwich still floating around inside their open mouth.

You'd be surprised at how hard it is to not stick my fingers in my ear and loudly hum Neil Diamond songs when these situations arise.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Which Book?

I've been posting like mad over at Like/Don't Like. I went out to eat twice yesterday (holiday!) and both places were new to me and are small, independently owned establishments and I thought I would share because they were both terrific and I think you should go there and support them. This blog is not called "Rachel Says So" just for fun. I'm bossy.

I also posted a couple of movie reviews but no books. In fact I haven't posted a book review in over a month. You thought I had an aneurysm or something, right? But no. The month of October was dedicated to re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series. Reading those books again made me feel like I was 12. Not in the "Is that a zit?! MY LIFE IS OVER!!!!!" sort of way, but in a way that recalls spending an entire Sunday afternoon reading in the backyard. Luxurious. I started young with my Life of Elegant Leisure.

Now, I could go on and on about how much I love these books, and how they sort of forged my love of reading and how, even decades later when I read that last book, when Anne's son Walter dies in the war, I broke down and wept, and not just a gentle kind of weeping but an embarrassing sobbing sort of weeping involving boxes of tissue. When I first read that part when I was a kid I remember being practically inconsolable. So no, I'm not going to tell you all about it.

But I want you to tell me all about it. What book made you love to read?*

*Heather wrote on a similar topic yesterday. Let's go book shopping, Heather!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Things I worry about

I have a bad habit of imagining the worst case scenario and freaking myself out. Lately this has been happening in the early morning when I first wake up. And in case you're wondering, it's a HORRIBLE WAY TO WAKE UP and I desperately wish my mind would just clam up until at least after I've had my shower. After my shower I'm as rational as can be and I can face the world with a song in my heart. But before then, when all I want to do is snuggle down in bed for another 15 minutes of sleep, my sleepy, susceptible mind won't let me and I start going through all sorts of possible calamities.

Here's just a sample:

What if these sniffles and general achy-ness are actually swine flu?
What if I die of swine flu before Thanksgiving and miss the Blessed Nephews and pie?
What if this stye on my eye is a symptom of the swine flu?
What if it's not but never goes away and I'm stuck with a droopy eye for the REST OF MY LIFE?!
So for the rest of my life I'm known as the Girl with The Droopy Eye? It's a STYE, people! A stye!
What if there's an earthquake and my apartment building collapses?

What if it doesn't collapse but is structurally unsound and I have to move? What will happen to the World's Largest Felt Collection?

What if when the earthquake happens I can't find a bra? Or don't have time to grab it? I should put a bra in my emergency pack in my car.

Or what if the building collapses on top of my car and I can neither get to the bra in my room nor the bra in my car?

What if a plane landing at Cable Airport loses control and crashes into my bedroom? Is that plane outside sputtering? It is getting closer? Where's my bra?

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Don't Tweet

Long ago I opened a Twitter account that I have never used. I went on to check out what it was all about and it took me 30 seconds to discover that it's basically a place to let people know what you ate for lunch. And I already have this blog to bore you with information like that. And I can do it in however many letters I want. And, I'm going to be honest here, I don't actually care what you had for lunch. Unless it was amazingly delicious and you're going to share the recipe. Or invite me over the next time you make it. Incidentally, why didn't you invite me over? I'm hurt.

So I've never posted anything on Twitter. And yet every so often I'll get an email from the good people over there saying that someone is following me. A few of them are friends who no doubt are holding their breath waiting for me to say something witty (Keep holding, my friends.) But the rest of them are complete strangers.

Which leads me to:

Dear Strangers Who are Following Me on Twitter,

Why? There isn't a single tweet up there. There's no picture. No profile. Zero information that would give you an idea of what you're signing up for. For all you know I could be some crazed lunatic who suddenly start posting about her Hello Kitty collection, or putting links up to pictures of rare fungal conditions, or a Britney Spears fan. Do you really want to follow a Britney Spears fan? I think you don't.

What I'm saying is that you maybe you could be a little more selective.

Best,

Rachel

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We have another winner!

And the winner of the latest Mr. T bookmark is:

Ms. Liz!!!!!!

Yay Liz! This is Liz L. for those of you keeping score, not Liz W. Don't feel too bad for Liz W. though. You may recall that she is the proud owner of one of my more spectacular felt creations.

Fun Facts about Liz: She routinely gets mistaken for a docent at local museums; she is a very thoughtful gift-giver; she is always good for a laugh.

Additional Fun Fact: I don't have her current address. So, Lizzie Dear, please email me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I'm Glad...

I'm planning on getting ice cream on my way home from work because:

1.) I have a stye which has caused my eye to get all puffy and droopy and purple. And because of it I can't wear make-up which, even though it's not really a tragedy, only adds to my general feeling of homeliness.

(Me, not smiling with my eyes. Sorry Tyra,)




2.) Our company finally got a 6 month assignment with a local government agency, after working to get one with them for a year, and we sent our girl down today to start and she left for lunch and never came back. A pox on you, Temp!!!! A pox!!!!

Maybe, in addition to ice cream, I need to play the Glad Game.

1.) I'm glad I'm wearing a cute outfit, to counteract the homeliness,
2.) I'm glad I don't look so drastically different without makeup so people aren't moved to ask if I'm dying of consumption,
3.) I'm glad that ice cream exists.

Maybe in addition to ice cream and the Glad Game I should have a give away!

Leave a comment about what makes you glad and I'll have a drawing for another Mr. T bookmark.

4.) I'm glad I can make Mr. T bookmarks and give them away.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kids!

Knights of Columbus, folks. I'm the new Primary President*. Eek! I was asked two weeks ago so I've had that long to freak out because I don't know a thing about kids. I also don't know a thing about Primary. Aside from a couple of subbing gigs on the piano, I haven't actually been in Primary since I was in Primary, as a Merry Miss**, WHICH THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE ANYMORE!

I'm rather intimidated by the whole thing. Every other responsibility I've had in the church I have felt marginally prepared for. But not primary. I don't even know half the songs they sing in there anymore. What are the names of the classes? What are the names of the kids? Would it be acceptable for me to make them talk in funny accents strictly for my own amusement? Because you know eventually I'm going to get the urge to do that.

So, yes, I'm slightly freaked out about this. And I'm not looking forward to all those meetings (before I left church yesterday I had entered 5 on my calender just for this week! I've been living the Life of Elegant Leisure in Sunday School for the last 3 years so I suppose I'm due.) But more than anything I'm kind of excited. The fact that kids will even go along with the whole funny accent bit is proof enough that I'm dealing with a great group. Plus they're cute. And there are generally stickers and snacks involved. Bonus!

Do you want to place bets now on how long it will be before I teach them all how to shimmy?

Don't speak Mormon? Here, let me help:

*Primary is the children's group in my church. It's for kids 18 months to 11 years. And just like every organization in the church people are asked to work in it as teachers and leaders. But unlike every other organization in the church Primary, as Teresa mentioned in a previous comment, is like wrangling cats.

**One of the bygone names for a Primary class.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spatula

I'm in the midst of a really long post about my trip to the Bass Pro Shop but it's becoming unmanageable. Like my hair.

So instead I will ask you what your favorite word is. Mine is spatula.

Monday, October 26, 2009

1) Over the weekend I masterfully recreated the California Pizza Kitchen's Pear Gorgonzola pizza.* And I purposely saved two slices to have for lunch today. And I, of course, forgot them. Which just means something to look forward to for lunch tomorrow.

2.) It was the primary program in church yesterday. (Dear People Who Aren't Mormon: You should be, if only for the absolute JOY of the primary program). Thirty squirmy children, just barely keeping it together up on the stand in the chapel. They're waving to mom & dad, they're poking each other, they're making faces during the songs, they're lolloping about in their seats. It's the Best Sunday Ever.

3.) I was able to donate blood. Someone high five me!** And my phlebotomist was kind of cute and very proficient. He got the good vein in about 2 seconds.

4.) I purchased a purple shirt on Saturday and when I hung it up in my closet I noticed another purple shirt in almost the exact same shade. And then I noticed a purple sweater in almost the exact same shade. It was also next to a purple top in a different shade. And today I was wearing heels and decided that I needed some new flats for work so I went shoe shopping on my lunch break and purchased a pair of flats...in purple. Knights of Columbus! If you see me in purple pants please hold an intervention. But for now I am calling an Official Moratorium on purchasing purple attire.***

* I would post the recipe except that I can't actually remember my measurements. I could just make it up if you really want.

**I have about a 50% success record with donating blood. I feel like a failure when I can't.

***I blame my Queen Complex, by the way. Maybe I just can't help buying purple because my royal nature demands it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Grounded

I went to a lecture last night at the Claremont School of Theology that took a look at the priesthood from both the Catholic and Mormon perspectives. Really fascinating stuff. I learned all sorts of big words. And it has sent me to Wikipedia to study up on the Catholic church because the whole hierarchy confuses me. He called himself a pastor, and a priest, and his title is Right Reverend but he goes by Father Alexei and at one point someone in the audience referred a question to "the Bishop" and both he and Robert Millet (batting for the Mormons) stood up. Comedy, I tell ya. There were some really lovely and profound things said and as usual, whenever I get a perspective from other faiths it helps me understand and appreciate both their faith and my own faith all the more.

But as I've reflected on it throughout the day my mind keeps going back to one thing: Father Alexei had sensational hair. It was white and billowy and kind of sparkled in the overhead lights. He looked like Moses.

I am clearly 12 years old.

But, also 80. Because after the lecture we went out for yogurt and I broke my own curfew. I stayed out past 10 on a school night and I've been suffering all day because of it. Does this mean I'm grounded?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Touched

Chiquita and I have decided to be kind to dumb people this week. Like, for example, instead of saying, "That is the dumbest person I've ever spoken with," we say, "That person is touched." It sounds kinder, doesn't it? Like evil pixies got a hold of them and addled their brains and they just can't help but say dumb things.

Example: We had a labor crew working on a two week assignment. One of them called me to say that there was an error on his check stub showing the incorrect date of his assignment and that he couldn't collect unemployment because of it. We had the following conversation:

Me: I'm very sorry but we can't change something that has already been printed and our payroll company will not issue a new check stub. But I will write a letter to your unemployment rep that explains the error and that should be fine.

The Touched: But I need the correct dates on this check stub or else I won't get paid.

Me: But that's impossible.

TT: So what am I suppose to do?

Me: The letter should be enough, but if it isn't have him call me. I'd be happy to explain.

TT: So you'll still change the date?

Me: No. We can't. But I'll write you a letter to give to him.

TT: Along with the check stub with the correct date?

Me: No. Instead of the check stub with the correct date because there won't be a check stub with the correct date.

TT: But I need a check stub with the correct date.

(At this point Chiquita leaves the office for the restroom. The conversation continues on in similar fashion: "I need a check stub," "I can't give you a check stub," etc. Chiquita returns from the restroom and finds me still in the vicious check stub cycle and gapes. She then points to her head and mouths, "Touched." I try not to laugh.)

Me: Why don't you tell me what you want me to do to help you get your money that doesn't involve a new check stub.

TT: Get me a new check stub.

Me: So you're saying that your unemployment rep will not accept a letter explaining the situation even though it is on official water-marked company letterhead and has my signature and my address and phone number which he can call at anytime Monday through Friday between the hours of 8am and 5pm should he not fully comprehend this minor error?

TT: Couldn't you just give me a new check stub?

Me: I'm hanging up now.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's felt, fool!

The Mr. T bookmark is finished and on it's way to Sarah.



I can't tell you how grateful I am that when they were handing out talents I asked to be able to make felt likenesses of d-list celebrities.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Siren Call of the Lake House

It's True Confession time. And this one is embarrassing. Don't judge!

Whenever the movie the Lake House is on, Katie and I watch it. Every time! And it is on a lot. It's not like we set the DVR to record it or anything but if one of us is flipping through the channels and we see that it's on, we pop on over to see if it's the part when Keanu Reeves sneezes and then we get sucked in like an ant in a vacuum hose. That sneeze may be the worst bit of acting ever recorded in the history of all acting. Which is really saying something because have you seen his performance in A Walk in the Clouds? Abysmal.

I haven't completely figured out why we can't pass it up. It's pretty slow and that sneeze isn't the only bit of bad acting Keanu gives us. But it isn't quite at the level of so-bad-it's-good, like, say Spice World.

(Perhaps Spice World is the movie I should be embarrassed to admit to not only watching but owning. Except that I'm not ashamed. For it is MAGICAL.)

So it's a mystery why we cannot fight the siren call of the Lake House. And I'm not sure I want to fight it. It's kind of comforting in a way. Like listening to Barry Manilow songs or eating oatmeal for breakfast.

What is the one movie you're slightly embarrassed to say that you can't stop yourself from watching?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Importance of Capitalization

Dear People Looking for Work:

Use capital letters. And proper punctuation. And correct spelling. I don't think I can emphasize this enough. Which is RIDICULOUS! Because you're a grown up and I'm assuming you have made it beyond Kindergarten and know the difference between a big letter and a small letter and when the appropriate time to use them is.

When I get your resume and it's entirely in lower case I throw it away. If you don't spell your previous job titles correctly, I throw it away. If you use the phrase, "I seen," I throw it away. When I give you a typing test and you tell me that the reason why you only scored 20 wpm is because you forgot to use capitalization I don't even bother looking through your application. I throw it away.

When you don't use capitalization I imagine you're a 14 year old girl stuck in a remedial English class texting me a resume your boyfriend helped you prepare. It's okay that if at one point you were 14 and stuck in remedial English, I would never hold that against you. But if you're over 18 you should know by now that your name needs to be capitalized.
If I get one more email that reads, "i seen your ad heres my resume call me," I'm going to spit. And I hate spitting.

Regards,

Rachel

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mr. T's new home is...

I just did the drawing for the Mr. T bookmark and congratulations and a hearty slap on the back go to:

SARAHGURL!

Interesting bits of trivia about Sarah include: 1.) We were both born on August 17th, which makes both of us AWESOME, 2.) her mother was my beloved piano teacher, and by beloved I mean zany. Some of you may have heard stories about my piano lessons. They are all true.

Send me your address Sarah (rachelknecht at gmail dot com) and I'll ship him off. But with a glass of milk laced with sleeping pills because you know how much he hates to fly.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I had a Plan.

Plan: On my lunch break swing by the grocery store and pick up supplies for dinner for a family in the ward, go home and prep dinner so that when I get home from work I can just pop it in the oven and get it over to them at a decent time.

Revised Plan: Wait until paychecks are delivered 45 minutes after I should have left for lunch, swing by the post office then the grocery story and get supplies. Skip the prep and just make the dinner when I get home.

Revised Revised Plan: Get into my car to commence Revised Plan and it's dead. Dead! Call Dad who tells me it's probably the battery. Applaud myself for not falling apart as I am wont to do in dead car situations. Ask Stephanie in the office next door for a jump. Car starts - Rejoice! Swing by post office and drop off the pay checks then head to Wal-Mart to wait an hour for a new battery. Applaud myself for not falling apart as I am wont to do in Wal-Mart situations. Rejoice that it is just the battery and not something that I would have to sell a kidney to pay for. Do shopping and cooking when I get home. Deliver dinner just as they're ready to go to bed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pop quiz!

I have started and stopped about 5 post today, deeming them all lame and boring and unfunny. Clearly, I need chocolate.

So instead of writing, I'm just going to ask a series of preference questions and you can answer as many of them as you'd like. And if you do answer at least one I will put you into a drawing to win a very special prize. That prize being a Mr. T felt bookmark I'm currently working on. I'm making his jewelry tonight.

1.) Black or red licorice?
2.) Cats or dogs?
3.) The beach or the mountains?
4.) Summer, autumn, winter or spring?
5.) Mr. T, Hannibal, Face or Murdock?
6.) Automatic or manual can opener?
7.) Exercising in the morning or night?
8.) Can your food touch on your plate or not?
9.) Sitting near the front of the back in a movie theater?
10.) Gum or mint?

You have until Thursday at noon to enter.

My answers?
1.) Red
2.) Dogs
3.) Both
4.) Winter, in California
5.) Murdock
6.) Manual
7.) Morning
8.) Sure
9.) Middle
10.) Mint. Gum is gross.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Things I'm not talking about

Let's not talk about how I could have gone to the Dodger game today. How my mom got tickets through her work and how one of those tickets was for me and how we all thought it was a night game until we got the tickets and found out that it started at 3 and I can't take off work because we're swamped. No, we won't talk about that.

Nor will we talk about how I just found out that Keira Knightly is going to be starring in an adaptation of Never Let Me Go. How much I loved that book and how I just knew, deep down in my heart, that if it were ever made into a movie they would cast Keira Knightly in it, not because she's good for the part but because people can't help themselves. They love her and her gaping mouth. How if she would just occasionally shut her mouth I would like her about 50% more and could possibly come to terms with it.

We could talk about all those tragedies but we're not going to.

Instead we're going to talk about this picture:





You see, I've been tagged by Teresa with one of those "go to the 1st folder in your picture file and find the 10th picture in it and post it" thingies, and this is the picture that came up. My nephew Tom, accompanied by his enormous cheeks. This was taken last Christmas and his cheeks are even bigger now. He's also growing a beard and worrying about his 401k. Because this is how quickly he is growing up!

I normally don't go along with tags but in the face of so much to despair over (lost Dodger tickets and Keira Knightly's slack jaw) I feel like we all could use those giant, squishy cheeks to help us gird up our loins and fight the good fight.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Too many vampires, too few books

I got a package yesterday from my good friend Krii. She got me the newest Georgia Nicholson book. Which, let's be honest, is the greatest gift you can give anyone. It's called Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?, which is so classy.

When I saw the book I had two realizations, 1.) I couldn't remember what happened when last we saw Georgia, and 2.) I didn't have a copy of the last book to refresh my memory. It came out during my year long Book Buying Moratorium and I never got around to buying a copy once the moratorium was lifted.

The BBM taught me a lot, mostly that I don't need to buy books. I still love buying books - walking up and down the aisles, checking out the cover art and carrying around an arm full before deciding on a few - but I just don't do it that often. I am clearly a Woman of Restraint and Self-control. But I had gift cards and it's Autumn and there is no better time to buy books then Autumn - it just feels like the right thing to do at this time of year, like eating pumpkin pie. So I skipped off to Borders with the Blue Bird of Happiness in my heart.

And I came home depressed. Here's why:

1.) Borders has become more novelty shop then book store. There were more tchotchkes then books. The actual book selection has gone WAY down and has been replaced by rows and rows of Japanese comic books and pencil holders and wind up toys.

2.) The Young Adult section is filled with trashy vampire novels. Thanks a lot Twilight. I realize that books are prone to trends just like everything else, and the YA section especially so, but it's so disturbing when the cover of every book aimed at teenagers has a trashy looking girl with blood dripping down her lip. It made me miss the days when Harry Potter was king and every book had a wide-eyed wizard on the front.

3.) They didn't even have the book I came for. Well, they had it in paperback but all the rest of my books in that series are hardcover and I can't have mismatched books. I have standards to uphold. I don't know why this would make a difference since halfway through the series the publisher changed the entire style and size of the books so they're already mismatched (Don't get me started on this. Let's just say I'm up in arms about it and several angry letters have been written and I may take this bitterness to the grave.)

I ended up leaving with the latest David Sedaris book (you can't go wrong there) and an Elvis Costello cd and some cute note cards.

Speaking of which, who wants to be my pen pal? I was putting away said note cards and noticed that my drawer was getting too full and that maybe I should start using some of that cute stationary instead of just buying new stuff. I'm sensing a Stationary Buying Moratorium coming on.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pass the Tissue

Things I watched this weekend that made me cry:

1.) General Conference. Several times.

2.) To Kill a Mockingbird. Oh, how I weep through this movie. When Walter Cunningham comes for dinner; when the reverend says, "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. You're father's passing," as Atticus leaves the courtroom; when Scout sees Boo Radley behind the door. I curl into the fetal position and sob.

3.) The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra. This is slightly embarrassing but it should give you a greater understanding of what makes me cry - that is, everything. Including great music. There was a concert on Ovations TV and at one point I was just so entranced by how excited they were when they played that I welled up. Because I'm an enormous baby. Here's their finale.

4.) The Dodgers winning their division. Finally. Okay, I didn't actually cry over this, but I did jump up and down a bit. Let's all do a collective "hands-in" for them on three. One, Two, Three, GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DODGERS!

Friday, October 2, 2009

If Tim Gunn says it, you must obey!

Did you hear what Tim Gunn said last night when one of the contestants on Project Runway said he was going to make leggings?

"Ugh. Leggings. Don't get me started."

I could not agree with you more, Tim.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wise Woman of the Forest

It's such a beautiful day that I decided to eat my lunch in the park, under a tree, with the Santa Ana winds blowing. When I got back to the office I walked past the mirror and noticed I had a tree branch in my hair. So I looked over my shoulder and there were several bits of tree bark stuck to my sweater.

I wonder if Stacy & Clinton on "What Not to Wear" could help. Maybe start up a show called, "How Not to Look Like a Hobo."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Free Theater Tickets!

Katie came out of her room last night and said, "I have something your readers would love." And she's totally right. You're going to love this.

(But first can I tell you how weird I still feel saying that I have readers. Because I sometimes think it's just my mom who reads this...because she has to...because she's my mom.)

Anyway, the thing that you're going to love is Free Night of Theater 2009. Theaters around the nation are just giving away free tickets to you for plays and musicals. HOW FUN IS THAT!? If you go to that website you can check out what is playing in your area and what nights are available and they give you a date of when you can reserve the tickets. You get two tickets per reservation.

I think I'm going to get tickets for Richard III. It's been ages since I've seen Shakespeare. And this is a good one - lots of ghosts and a hunchback! Who wants to be my date?

Monday, September 28, 2009

I went to Arizona. This is what I did.

I was about halfway between civilization and Blythe on my drive out to Arizona for a weekend of fun with Cynde when I realized that I had to pee. This is a horrible realization when you're in a car in the desert and the mile markers tell you that you're still 60 miles away from a bathroom. Oh, it's horrible. So I did the only thing I could think of. I drove 90 mph and sang at the top of my lungs. Because singing really loud always distracts me. And I desperately needed distracting from the impending explosion of my bladder. I sang Abba, and Neil Diamond and a lot of hymns but those only got me 30 miles closer and then panic started setting in. What if my bladder actually does explode? How can I tell if it's about to happen. Will there be a warning? Should I pull over? Which is worse, my bladder exploding or peeing on the side of the highway? I imagined myself getting knocked over by a tumbleweed and how embarrassing would that headline be, "Girl Killed by Rogue Tumbleweed While Peeing." Twenty miles from Blythe and I was contemplating my death.

Then suddenly, rising from the desert floor, a beacon of hope! A sign that said "Rest stop - next exit." I nearly wept, except that I was too busy cutting semis off to get to the exit. Never before had a fly infested stinky brick building looked so beautiful.

That's just one of the highlights. Here are some more:

1.) Staying up until 3am playing Guitar Hero. Some people can do this without any adverse effects. I can't stay up past 10 reading a book without waking up in the morning in tears. Which is to say, I am not one of those people. But I do rock the guitar.


2.) Learning more than I ever wanted to know about the band Kiss. Cynde has a friend who knows all sorts of Kiss-tory. (You'll be thrilled to know that I didn't just make that term up. He used it several times. In all seriousness. It was awesome.)


3.) Falling in love with the percussionist of Pink Martini. It is not very often that a drum solo will move me enough to propose but I almost did. I could go on tour with them and polish cymbals back stage and my life would be complete.

4.) Eating my weight in cheese. We somehow managed to stuff ourselves with all sorts of cheese over the weekend. We ate cheese in the hallway of a swanky restaurant that we were not actually patronising while the wait-staff walked by and stared (Long story. I will just say that it was a very typical Rachel & Cynde Adventure. Someday a movie will be made about all the awkward/hilarious moments we've had together), we ate cheese for breakfast, we sampled cheese at Costco, at a dinner party on Saturday night we ate goat cheese laced with figs that, were it socially acceptable, I would have shoveled into my mouth with my bare hands.

5.) The long solitary road trip. Who's with me on this? Driving by yourself for hours is so fun. You can listen to whatever you want, you don't have to stop for anyone else, and when you want peace and quiet you just stop talking to yourself.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Class was cancelled - due to lack of hustle

1.) Bronwyn, the Diplomat's Wife, just posted on her blog that she is looking for baby clothes and supplies for a hospital she volunteers at. If you have some stuff that isn't getting used in the near future or if you just want to help you can go over to her blog for the info on how to contact her. She lives in Tunis, which is in Tunisia, which is far, far away. But she has an American address so you can let the government pay for half the shipping. Let's help babies!!

2.) My drumming class was cancelled due to lack of interest. Sigh. There were only 3 people signed up and they needed at least 4. So to cheer ourselves up Lindsay and I went to Bert & Rocky's. The night was not a bust.

3.) I'm driving to Phoenix tomorrow. Cynde and I are going to the Pink Martini concert in Tucson. Exotic! The last Pink Martini concert I went to was at the Hollywood Bowl and during their finale they played Bolero and they had stilt walkers and clowns and unicyclists and jugglers dancing on stage while giant balls of fire exploded over the bowl. It may have been the greatest moment of my life. So I don't know how they're going to top it, but my money is on them finding a way.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hair Akimbo

My straightener broke yesterday morning, which means that my hair is akimbo. I look like an upside down pineapple. Bulbous on the top and all sticky-outy on the bottom. I have attempted to tame it with a head band but am only having marginal success. It does not help that I had nun chucks last night and I worked out this morning but worked out a little later than normal and didn't have time to wash my hair so it's akimbo and gross.

I think the wild hair look may actually work to my advantage tonight because Lindsay and I have signed up for the Upland community drum circle class. Lindsay has participated in drum circles before and loves them and I love anything that will make me laugh until I pee my pants, which I think drum circles have the potential for. I'm hoping that there are unwashed hippies so that I can blend right in.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another Random List

1.) Over the weekend I played the organ at a very large gathering of Mormon scout leaders. So I got to see a lot of grown men in khaki shorts and knee high socks. I LOVE those scout socks. They kill me. I also love playing the organ for large congregations of men because men don't hold back on their singing. They turn the volume to high which means I get to turn the volume to high on the organ and use all sorts of really deep stops that maybe wouldn't be so appropriate in a smaller congregation on a Sunday afternoon. The walls shook.

2.) The Cat Woman was wearing booty shorts this morning at the gym. They said "JAMAICA" across the bum. She was also wearing a very low cut tank top. There was only about 20% containment when she was on the step climber. It may have been too much for me that early in the morning.

3.) My computer at work has a virus. The computer geek who was in here working on it kept saying, "Ooooh, you are GOOD!" Like he had found a worthy opponent. The virus ended up being so good that he had to take my whole computer back to his store. I cried a little.

4.) Chiquita and I have been working for the last 6 months to win contracts with various government agencies to provide temps and have been outbid every time. It takes weeks to get these proposals ready and it's very time intensive and we have lost every single one. Until today. We won a huge one. Chiquita came running out of her office with the great news and we did a happy dance and rang our Good News Bell and made plans for going out for tacos later this week. HOORAY!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The T-Shirt

Colleen just sent me this link. Friends, I need this shirt. T-Shirts, in general, make me look tragic and frumpy. They're just not cut right and when you're chesty and hippy like me, you have to have a well cut shirt.

However, picture me at the gym chatting it up with the Cat Woman in that shirt. Picture me in nun-chuck class giving a 10 year old a concussion in that shirt. Picture me on an emergency trip to Wal-Mart for toilet paper in that shirt. (These are the only acceptable public places I will be seen in a t-shirt.) Would I not just be a beacon of light and happiness for the dreary world around me? It's a public service, owning that shirt.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Do NOT touch the beach ball

I went to the Dodger game last night with my parents and Camille. There are only a few home games left and we wanted to get another one in but we couldn't get my mom's work tickets so Camille went onto stubhub.com and got tickets for $.88 each. This is not a joke. And it was free Dodger Dog night! Our tickets were up in the reserve section. Remember how a while ago I wrote about sitting in the fancy seats behind the dugout? And how no one was really paying any attention to the game because they were too busy talking about their stock portfolios? Well, the reserve section is the same, except that everyone is too busy doing the wave and chatting in the aisles, and booing at ushers who take away the beach balls that are perpetually bouncing around the crowd.

Did I ever tell you about the time I was at a Dodger game and I accidentally hit the beach ball over the ledge and down to the next level? My entire section booed me and people start tossing popcorn and peanut shells at my head, which then got caught in my hair. Rule #1 of baseball watching: DO NOT HIT THE BEACH BALL OVER THE LEDGE!!! My new technique is to completely ignore the beach ball, even if it falls into my lap. "What, this thing? A beach ball? You don't say. I thought it was a goiter."

In entirely unrelated news: DID YOU SEE WHAT PLACE KATIE AND I BOTH GOT FOR OUR PROJECTS THAT WE SUBMITTED TO THE FAIR?!?!?!?!?!?! THIRD!!!!!!!! Which is just awesome, right? Because you may recall that I love third place! This is a HUGE dream come true. I've always wanted to win a ribbon at the fair. I celebrated by going down the Big Yellow Slide...twice. In a few weeks you can come to my house and see my ribbon proudly displayed next to my nun chuck certificate.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The art of drawing a bowling alley

The difference between men and women:

My ward got together last night to prepare for our stake's NIGHT OF THE LIVING SCRIPTURES!!! Only it's actually called Festival of the Living Scriptures but I like the other name better. It's like a mini roadshow where each ward has to put on a 10 minute skit depicting a specific scripture story. Ours is the 2000 Stripling Warriors. It is exactly the type of thing that I fight against because I'm a cranky old woman but in reality I enjoy because it has that Judy Garland/Micky Rooney Summerstock kind of feel to it which I can't resist.

(I just realized that the above paragraph was very Mormon-y and that some of you out there may not have any idea what a ward or a stake or a roadshow or a Stripling Warrior is. Here's a glossary. Helpful, right? I live to serve you.)

We have changed the story around so that it's about a rag-tag band of bowlers (because bowling always gets a laugh, which is why, as you know, I'm having my wedding reception at a bowling alley. For laughs, people.) I ended up on the scenery painting team, turning butcher paper into a bowling alley.

Now, here's where the difference comes in: Women, when doing artistic things like this, will just jump in with a pencil and start estimating where things go. Lanes here, lettering there, a couple of bowling balls scattered over the top. As long as it looks good, right? And, I'm here to tell you, it always looks good. Men, on the other hand, will go into the library and grab a yard stick, which they will use to meticulously measure out the exact amount of inches needed to fit in the alley, the gutter and the ball return, making sure that the ball return is on the proper side, and making sure that there is the proper perspective, with lanes on the ends being smaller than the lanes in the middle, so that when you look at the butcher paper representation it looks authentic. This also looks good, if not slightly neurotic.

I'm not saying either way is better because both ways work. But there were definite moments when the women would roll their eyes and say, "Men," and the men would roll their eyes and say, "Pass me the ruler."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Whim Weekend

I like to have plans when I travel with other people because I HATE the whole "What do you want to do?" "I don't know. What do you want to do?" business that generally happens.
So there was high potential for me being cranky when Katie and Heather and I departed on Friday afternoon for the central coast. We had a hotel reservation for two nights in Santa Maria and a reservation at Hearst Castle on Saturday. And that was it. No other plans. I was a little worried.
But there was no need because what I forgot to factor in was that we were driving along the coast. And when this is your view for most of your trip,
you can't help but have the Blue Bird of Happiness tucked deep in your heart.
At the beginning of the trip we decided that since we had no plans we would do everything on a whim. It was the Whim Weekend! If any of us saw something that we liked we would pull off and enjoy.
So on a whim:
1.) We stopped in Carpinteria and picked up some hamburgers and ate them on the life guard tower while we watched the sunset (it really was that golden);
2.) We saw a pretty little bay that looked inviting and got off the freeway and ended up instead at a pretty little farm that sold fruits and homemade pies;

3.) We eventually made it to the bay which turned out to be a dog beach that was hosting a Great Dane festival. Have you seen dozens of Great Danes frolicking in the ocean? Your heart will break;
4.) We went to see the rock at Morro Bay and ended up at an art show where we purchased lovely hand-crafted jewelry and soap. (Fact: I am a sucker for hand-made soap because it's nicer on my allergies. Also, and this is the highest praise I can give, this soap was sitting in a bag at my feet in the car for hours and smelled the whole place up and not once did I feel like sneezing, wheezing, gagging or throwing it out the window. And it makes my skin feel nice.);
5.) We rescheduled our reservation time for Hearst Castle to make room for more whims. But we eventually made it and we learned all about the Life of Elegant Leisure.
Although we also learned that that life is only for the rich. For the paying tourist it is a whole bunch of "Hurry up! Stay with the group! No loitering!" Which went against my natural instincts, and, might I add, the whole vibe of the place. It's begging you to loiter, but your tour guide is shoving you on the bus;
6.) We headed down to Cambria and ended up having dinner at a fancy restaurant and then antique shopping, where I bought yet another brooch. Friends, I need another brooch like I need another toe. But how am I suppose to resist? It was a whim! We also wandered into a hat shop and I found this beauty:


The Official Hat for the Woman of Elegant Leisure!!!!! I would have had to take out a loan for it but just knowing that it exists fills me with joy.
7.) We played Uno at the poker table in the lobby of our hotel. It was a very old hotel and full of charm and tchotchkes and we thought it would be fun. It was.
Katie dealing:
Heather modeling her saucy new hat:
Me smiling with my eyes while losing:
Oy, that was a lot of cards.
To sum up: whims=fun

Friday, September 4, 2009

And the winner is...

Giving things away is fun! And drawings are fun! Until this year my brothers and sisters and I use to draw names to see who we would be buying Christmas presents for. Now we're on a rotation system, which, I suppose is more practical and very grown up. But I'm a little sad that we don't get to have the actual drawing. There's just so much excitement involved. I could have gone to one of those fancy web sites that randomly selects a number for you but I wanted to physically draw a name out of a cup. So that's what I did. I wrote all of your names down on little strips of paper and folded them up and put them in a cup.

And the winner is...

Gina!!!!!

My own sister.

Thus proving that it was, in fact, a completely arbitrary draw. And also incredibly convenient because I think according to the new gift giving system we buy a present for the person just older than us! Merry Christmas, Gina!!!! Or was it just younger than us? Gina, share with Katie. Merry Christmas, Katie!!!!!

Okay, so I'm feel even more generous and drawing names is seriously so much fun, I want to draw another one. So, the second winner of a 1 lb box of See's is...

Bronwyn!!!!!

Yay! I was secretly hoping that it was someone who had never had See's before. I was actually kind of surprised by how many of you hadn't. And then I realized that it's mostly a western states kind of thing which of course made me feel lucky, and a little superior, and really sad for you. And how about this for exotic: Bronwyn lives in Tunisia. Where they definitely don't have See's. She's a diplomat's wife. Now, if that does not just scream Woman of Elegant Leisure I don't know what does. I like to envision her lounging on a chaise in the shade of her fruit trees, the warm Mediterranian breezes gently rustling the edges of her silk caftan. And now I get to picture her delicately picking through a box of chocolates.

So congratulations Gina & Bronwyn! Email me with mailing instructions.

And thanks to all of you for playing along. This was so much fun that I think I'll have give aways more often so stay tuned.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I would call it Gross White Stuff that Tasts Good on Lime Truffles

I was over at my aunt & uncle's house getting my hair cut. My cousin Sarah lives in St. George now but she comes out every 6 weeks for her regulars out here. It's incredibly convenient because I hate the anxiety that comes from sitting in a salon chair with wet hair and absolutely nothing to say. It makes me nervous. Sarah and I never run out of things to say. What with all the Bill Murray movies to quote.

When I got there my aunt said that she needed to go to See's Candy and asked what my favorites were. 1.) California brittle and 2.) lime truffle (which is a complete mystery because it is covered in white chocolate and I am opposed to that stuff on a moral level. Except that it is mighty tasty on those lime truffles.)(Do you think if we all work really hard we can come up with a different name for white chocolate. It's not chocolate. It's not even the same neighborhood. It's like 3 towns over and through a really creepy forest where hobos hang out. And I feel like it is an affront to chocolate to even call it that. So let's all work together to come up with a more appropriate name and then we'll start a letter writing campaign to get it officially changed. I'm sure I can convince my neighbor, the Congressman, to help us out. We can do this! Si se puede!!!!)


Where was I? Right, See's. But first an interesting side note: Sarah's favorites are also 1.) California brittle and 2.) lime truffle. Fascinating! Or maybe not because, well, we're related.

Okay, so I was wondering what your favorite See's candies are. You may have noticed that I love hearing what people's favorites are. It makes me feel like I got a glimpse into your soul. And because I'm feeling generous (and because I secretly want to be the Pioneer Woman when I grow up) I'm going to make it worth your while. If you leave a comment telling me what your favorites are and/or what new name you would give white chocolate and/or how many letters you would be willing to write in our forthcoming letter writing campaign (we'll make matching t-shirts!), you will be entered into a drawing to receive a gift certificate for a 1 pound box of See's candy. Winner to be announced tomorrow afternoon so get them in quick. And only one comment, cheater.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dogs and Cats Living Together

The Sensei started us on double nun chucks last night. So instead of hitting myself with just one pair I get to hit myself with two. Double the chance of getting a concussion. But it looks very impressive. Well, it would minus the pained expression

In other news: I'm done with these wild fires. We're surrounded by them and the smoke has blocked out the sun. Apparently these fires create their own weather system so I walked out of the apartment this morning to grayish brown skies that were sprinkling rain and ash. It's Armageddon, people. Find your can opener and head down to the bunker.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Watermelon Blanket

Years ago my Grandma Crenshaw made my family a blanket. We love it. It goes everywhere with us. It's perfect for picnics and beach outings and bundling under if it gets below 60 degrees. Brrr.

It came with us last night to the concert. (Follow that link. Read about them. Buy their album. Love them. Because I said so!)

Here's Lindsay and Camille showing some blanket love:




We call it the watermelon blanket because of it's watermelon print. My grandma thought it was cute. "Look," she said as we opened it up, "Watermelon! I thought it was really fun."

No Grandma, not just really fun. HYSTERICALLY FUN! Because it's not just a watermelon print:



Picture it: my grandma, white hair, sensible shoes, faithful Mormon woman of pioneer heritage who wrote hymns for fun, standing in line at the fabric store with a bolt of Southern Comfort material and having no idea how much joy and laughter that blanket would give us. Priceless.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oddities

1.) I've completely lost my appetite. The other day I roamed around Sprouts trying to think of something - anything - that sounded good for dinner and the only thing I left with was yogurt and granola for breakfast, which I still haven't eaten because it just doesn't sound good. I need someone to cook me a really sensational meal to get it back. Any takers?

2.) I have an unusual last name that you don't hear too often. (Knecht. It's pronounced connect. It's German. It means servant. Which I think is nice. I won't clean your toilet but I'll drive you to the airport if you need a ride.) But lately I feel like it's everywhere. When I was getting my Disneyland pass last week the lady processing the paperwork saw my name and said, "Knecht is my maiden name." But she said it like it was Smith. Like she always meets people with that last name. And then at the temple on Friday night I showed my recommend and the man said, "I know a Knecht in Orange County." And just now I was reading some random blog and I saw the name again. Do you think we're taking over the world?

3.) I've been seeing the same 80 year old woman all over town lately. She works out at my gym every morning with the other elderly woman. I saw her at the Lion's Club fish fry a few weeks ago, again with the elderly. Then again at the grocery story on a Friday afternoon, when the elderly shop. And then I ran into her this morning at the local bagel shop where it looked like she was holding a meeting of the Elderly Citizens of Upland Brigade. I use to think it was a coincidence but it makes sense that I would naturally be drawn to local pensioner hang-outs.

4.) I interviewed a guy today who was super nervous. At the end of the interview I went to shake his hand and we had the following conversation:

Him: I would shake your hand but I have really sweaty palms.
Me: Oh, that's okay. I don't have to shake your hand.
Him: It's a real problem. And it's kind of frustrating.
Me: I bet.
Him: I've started just giving people hugs instead. (As he opened his arms a little and stepped closer).
Me: We can just wave good-bye.