Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ruby at the Ballgame

You're aware of the cautionary tale of Ruby St. Germaine, former headliner of my car now occupying the cup holder and battling a heroin addiction. 

To lift Ruby's spirits we took her to the Dodger game last week.

(Side note:  do you see that man standing to the right of Ruby?  Wearing the hat and facing away from the field?  That's Sid, our number one usher and official Oldest Man Alive.  We sit in those seats a few times a year and Sid is always there, answering questions and posing for pictures with girls in really short shorts.  Work it, Sid!)

Ruby had a great time at the game, cheering on the Dodgers and eating some peanuts

Now, we're all used to Ruby and her tragic appearance but the guys sitting next to us thought she was a little creepy and that we brought her there for a little dark magic.

Is Ruby casting a spell on the Rockie's or just doing spirit fingers? 

She'll never tell.  But we won. 

(Second side note:  the guy sitting next to me was very nice and promised to dive in front of us should a foul ball come screaming at my head, as they are wont to do in those seats, which is all I ask of a neighbor at a baseball game, even if he was on his 5th beer and was a bit of a leaner.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Oh, these are my casual glasses

While flipping through a magazine I came across an article on how to do a mini makeover just by changing some things about your eyes like plucking your eyebrows or going bold with your shadow.  One of the makeover candidates had a pair of eyeglasses that the good people of the magazine thought were "too casual".  Too casual?  Is this a thing?  I did not realize that glasses have a level of casualness.  Are some styles the equivalent of cutoff shorts and flip flops?  What makes glasses fancy?  Rhinestones?  If there are no cutoffs or rhinestones how are we suppose to know if the glasses are appropriate for the opera?  I would not be so interested in this if the gal's glasses did not look exactly like mine.  But they did! 

I've been walking around wearing laundry-day glasses.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chicago, Chicago. That toddlin town.

On to Chicago.

Hog Butcher for the World,

Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,

Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;

Stormy, husky, brawling,

City of the Big Shoulders:

I've always loved that poem.  I read it years and years ago, when I was just a kid, and ever since I always want to shout out HOG BUTCHER TO THE WORLD! whenever someone mentions the place.  Although that also makes me think of The Jungle and then I have to curl up in a dark corner and think of vegetables and green fields.

We got off the train on Monday afternoon and spent three days wandering around and having a great time. 

To the List!

1.) The heat. What Carl Sandburg neglected to leave out of that poem was that Chicago is also Satan’s Sauna. It is the steam room in the Fiery Pits of Hell. I did not know that such oppressive heat even existed - and I've been to Phoenix in July. I’ve heard this phrase all the time - It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. I’m going to needle point that on to a pillow because never have truer words been spoken. I can honestly say that I have never sweat so profusely and so constantly as I did in Chicago. I live in a place that has temperate weather 300 days out of the year and I am a delicate flower who wilts in that kind of heat.  I looked like this all week: 
Droopy.  Only my dignity stood in the way of going without clothes. In fact, when one of the museum attendants heard we were going to the Cubs game she said, “Girl, you better go naked.” I will also be needle pointing that. We were told that this was freakish weather. But I’m here to say that if that kind of weather is even a possibility and they are known for their miserable winters as well, that just means people who live there are dummies.

2.) But also very helpful and friendly dummies. People were offering to help us with direction every few yards. It’s that Midwestern charm you hear about.

3.) The heat created a weird steamy fog over Lake Michigan that was so thick I didn’t actually get a good look at the thing until our 3rd day there. I was skeptical that it even existed. Here's my view of the "lake" from the Ferris wheel

We took an architecture boat cruise up the river, starting in the steamy fog and doubting that we would be able to see anything, but when we got through the lock the sun was out and we got to see all sorts of cool buildings and wave to people on the bridges above.  You know how much I love to wave at people from boats and trains.  It makes me feel like I'm in a parade.

4.)  Did you know the first Ferris wheel was created in Chicago?  And that it held 2400 people?  And it took an hour to make a full rotation?  I did know, so I was excited to ride the one they have at Navy Pier, even if the visibility was no farther than your toes.

5.) On the hottest day there we went to Wrigley Field and watched the Cubs get shamed by the Phillies.

Oh, it was a miserable game for them. But it was awesome to be inside such a cool ball park. They have a manual scoreboard and all that ivy on the wall.  We ate peanuts and cheered for the Cubs and stayed for the entire game, which is rare for Dodger fans.    

5.) Maybe I’ll be stoned for saying this but I wasn’t all that impressed with the deep dish pizza. I mean, it was delicious, but I don’t think it lived up to the hype. Give me a normal depth pizza anytime.

6.) The popcorn though. They sell this stuff called Garrett’s popcorn and I plan on stuffing my coffin with it when I die.

7.) I viewed this trip almost entirely through Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Who wouldn’t? So when I was in the Chicago Institute of Art I have a very Cameron moment in front of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte. And I said “heybattabattabattabattabatta sa-WING batta” multiple times at the Cubs game and when we went to a fancy restaurant I wanted to say we were with Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago.

8.)  That restaurant, Gibson's, served me the Greatest Steak I've Ever Eaten.  Period.

9.)  Heather did a lot of brave things on this trip.  She sat through an entire baseball game, she walked across questionable bridges, she spent a week with three Knechts.  But the bravest thing she did was walk into the Plexiglass box on the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower

She refused to look down.  I don't blame her because when I looked down I thought "Well, at least I got to eat Garrett's Popcorn before I plummet to my death."  I am not afraid of heights and I wasn't nervous to walk out but once I was out there I was wishing I had a parachute or at least some common sense to not do crazy things.

10.)  More pictures, because I love you.

Cloud Gate

In about 5 minutes that kid on the fountain will spit water out of his mouth.  The frolicking that went on there was adorable.

This is the Carbonite and Carbon building.  In a city full of great buildings this one was my favorite.

There was a lovely stained glass museum at Navy Pier.  It was free and air conditioned which made it a winner.

The lake finally confirmed it's existence.
To sum up:  Chicago is great.  And I'd love to return...when it's not trying to sizzle me like bacon.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

All Aboard!

While in Chicago we would tell people we took the train out from LA.  At first no one believed us.  And then once they were finally convinced, they didn't believe it was worth it.  So let me tell you:  IT'S WORTH IT.  People, listen to your friend - train travel is for winners.  I haven't had such a fun time getting from one place to another - ever.  I don't ever want to fly again.  Mostly because it made me realize that the airline industry hates us.  They hate us and want us to suffer.  The train industry, on the other hand, loves us and wants to give us cozy beds and newspapers every morning and glorious views of America.  It took two full days to get from LA to Chicago and it felt like nothing.  It took us 4 hours to fly from Chicago to LA and it felt like 2 days.  And the train doesn't make you take off your shoes and walk through a metal detector, and you can get out of your roomy and comfortable seat and walk around as much as you want.  You can spread out and play games and every couple of hours there are stops in exotic places like Albuquerque, NM and Kansas City, MO where you can get out and take in the fresh air and by turquoise jewelry made my Navajo women.  It is a glorious way to travel. 

Some highlights:

Union Station.  Love.

1.)  Union Station is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles.  It is  grand.  I've been going through there for years because if you take the train into the city you end up there and also, it is the Gateway to Cielito Lindo's - Home of the Greatest Taquitos in the World.  Naturally, I've been a lot.  Every time I've gone through Union Station I've been a little jealous of the people with luggage because it means they're actually traveling somewhere.  So it was kind of a dream come true to walk through there with my suitcase and board a train.

All Aboard!

Katie and Dad, consulting the map.

We are giddy with excitement in our wee roomette.

2.)  When you take your train trip be sure you book a sleeper, for a couple of reasons.  1.)  Hello, bed.  Maybe you're one of those magical people who can sleep sitting up, I am not.  The first night was a bit rough because I wasn't used to all the jostling, but the second night was much better.  2.)  Hello, 1st class.  Booking a sleeper automatically puts you in first class which means your meals are included and you get a newspaper every morning and a bonus golf cart ride to your platform, like the royals get.  3.)  Goodbye coach.  I walked through that coach class.  It was like a war zone in there.  It was dark and there was trash and baggage scattered all over the place.  The seats didn't look all that bad, they reclined pretty well and had a footrest, so if you're only going a short distance, go for it.  But it reminded me of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry says that once you've been in first class you can't go back.  He's right.

The chairs in our room folded down to make a bed and a bunk folds down from the top to make the other.  I look so cozy.

3.)  It is the Way of The Knecht to make friends with everyone.  Before the train even pulled out of the station we were best friends with our porter, Riley, and our conductor, A. Findley.  We later because tight with the dining car guys as well, Mel, Robert and Jerry.  They were so nice and friendly and would joke around with us and basically made the trip awesome.

A. Findley!  Our first and favorite conductor.

4.)  In order to appreciate train travel you have to like leisure time.  I do.  I love to sit and read a book, or play games, or watch corn fields go by, all things we did for long periods of time.  People have asked, "So there's no tv on the train?"  There isn't.  If you're going to travel by train you have to make your own fun, of which I am a big proponent.

5.)  At Raton, NM we picked up a feral pack of Boy Scouts.  The mega scout camp Filmont is near by and these scouts had spent a week or two out there and were heading home to New York.  So you can imagine the state they were in.  There was a distinct rancid teenage muskiness to them which anyone would recognize as a combination of Doritos, crusty socks, old hot dogs, and farts.  Multiply that scent by 30 and you can now imagine what the lounge car smelled like the last day of the trip.  Reason number a billion why you should get a sleeper:  scouts sleep in coach.

Feral Scouts boarding the train.

6.)  We crossed several rivers.  The most impressive:  the Mighty Mississippi

And the Majestic Los Angeles River

7.)  We passed through Grants, NM:  Birthplace of Katie, where I lived from the ages of 1 to 3.  I have only glimpses of memories from it and this was the first time I've seen it since.  I think it's strangely beautiful and very wild west-y.  I happened to be reading a Louis L'Amour book through here.  Kind of perfect.

 8.)  Do you know what they grow in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois?  Corn

And soy beans

This is what we saw for miles and miles and miles.  This was my first time traveling through the Midwest and I was mesmerized by it.

While waiting to board the train we overheard a man in line with us say that he came out to LA on the train and it was the most horrendous experience of his life and that his return trip was going to be his last.  To that I say, great, more room for me.  Because train travel is the greatest. 

Up next:  how I had a great time in Chicago despite the fact that it was trying to melt me down like an ice cube in a broiler.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Movies to cry along to.

I went to see Harry Potter 7.2 tonight and to say that I cried a lot of tears is to say that Niagara Falls drops a lot of water.  It was a wet-land preserve in that theater.  Algae started to form in the pools around my feet.  A loon swooped down and snagged a fish.  Some guy was offering air-boat tours.  You get the picture.  There was a point in it when I was nearly in convulsions attempting to contain the sobbing and howling and renting of clothes.  At the end of it Lindsay, Katie and I all agreed that we can't remember a time of such sustained crying. 

What I'm saying is:  I loved every bit of the movie and can't wait to put myself through all of that again.

After we had taken several very deep breaths and began the discussion part of the evening we tried to think of where this would fall in the Pantheon of Movies That Make Us Weep. For me it is pretty high up there.  Most movies just contain a scene or two:  when Shelby dies in Steel Magnolias, when Matthew dies in Anne of Green Gables, the attic scene in Shadowlands, the end of Million Dollar Baby.  But I could basically add the entire last hour of this movie to the list.  Naturally my sentiment for the entire series and my inclination to cry at everything makes me more weepy than the average girl but I was not exaggerating about those convulsions.  (It was Snape, by the way.  Sweet Land of Liberty!  That part did me in.)  Incidentally, we were shocked at the lack of sniffling we heard.  Were we the only ones losing it?  Can people really make it through this film and not shed a single tear? 

Questions:  Do you cry at movies or do you not have a soul?  And also, what movie would you add to the list.  Do not say Twilight.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Oh right, Chicago.

Here's what I keep forgetting:  that I'm boarding a train on Saturday afternoon bound for Chicago.  How totally exotic and old-timey, right?  (Except that, should you see the room we're in (or roomette, as they call it) the word exotic may not apply) It's kind of a dream come true, to travel across the country by train.  Mostly because to me, long distance train travel involves large hats, Cary Grant, and intrigue.  All things I love.  I don't want to go as far as to say that if I don't get to solve a murder I'm going to be a little disappointed, but, well, I'm going to be a little disappointed.  And I've never been to Chicago so I'm pretty excited for the whole experience - Cubs game, museums, architecture boat cruise, pizza - we're doing it all.

But I keep forgetting about it because of one thing - Harry Potter.  I have my ticket for Friday night (no midnight showing for this 80 year old) and I spend my days reading articles and watching clips and basically being a total Potter Dweeb.  AND I AM NOT ASHAMED!  Today, for proof, I read something that reminded me of a part in the book that destroyed me ( know) but conveniently blocked out, because I am emotionally stunted,and when what happens came back to me I started to lose it and I had to promise myself a shaved ice to cheer myself up.  (Aside:  this is quickly turning into the Summer of My Shaved Ice Addiction.)  I have not come to terms with the sad fact that by 11 pm on Friday the whole thing will be done.  There will no doubt be some sighing on the long train ride to Chicago.  Were I a character in an Poirot mystery I would be described as the melancholy girl with the remnants of a lightening bolt painted on her forehead.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Even baby chimps know how to crack their own peanuts.

Much like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, I had a very Southern California Weekend (incidentally, I was at the gym when the news cut in with their landing at LAX and I wanted to shout, "Welcome to my home, you Adorable Royal Couple!  Stop on over for some cookies!")

I went to the Dodger game on Friday night (we won!) and the beach on Saturday morning (no sun burn!) and the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday night where we watched Westside Story (probably my second favorite musical - after Sound of Music, natch) with the LA Phil playing the score live, in sync with the film.  And if you're wondering - IT WAS AMAZING.

But back to the Dodger Game.  We got free fancy seats (thanks, Uncle Rob!) and there was a couple sitting in front of us with their son and his friend, both about 6.  Katie and I sat in total wonder as the mom spent the entire 4 innings that they were there doing everything for those two boys, such as breaking their hot dogs into smaller pieces, telling them when something good happened and making them clap, and cracking the peanuts out of their shells and handing them to the boys.  When she wasn't wiping ketchup off their faces or fixing their hair she was taking pictures of them.  The kids didn't seem to mind having their baseball experience micromanaged like that and the mom seemed like it wasn't a hassle to her.  EXCEPT:  (Cranky Spinster Woman Disclaimer:  I don't have kids.  What do I know about anything.)  isn't one of the joys of childhood learning how to crack a peanut?  And can't a kid just sit with his friend and laugh at silly 6 year old things without constantly being told to clap or smile or eat this bite-sized piece of hot dog?  I felt bad for the kids.  But I also felt bad for the mom because 20 years from now her son is going to be calling her up from the Dodger game asking why she didn't pack shelled peanuts in his lunch?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nothing says freedom like ice cream and hats

My Fourth of July weekend was everything it should be.  Complete with: 

Eating out a lot

A very serious conversation over Bert & Rocky's ice cream with Amanda, visiting from the Frozen North, about the importance of ice cream placement in your cup/cone - your favorite goes on the bottom - and how shocked we are that people don't grasp this.  Also, our shock over people liking vanilla ice cream.  They always follow up this admission by saying, "But you can add things to it."  And to that we say anything that needs to be added to is AUTOMATICALLY INFERIOR!!!!  Clearly we are passionate about this.  (Sorry for the rant.  Vanilla makes me cranky.)

It also included a frenzy of hat making.  My friend is throwing a bridal shower tea party and she saw the hats I made for the Royal Wedding and asked if I'd make some for it.  As it is officially my new dream to live in London and make hats for the Queen I decided it would be good practice.  So I took the gig.

 Here, let me model them for you: 

The white one, with its explosion of feather's shooting out, makes me feel patriotic.  But I promise to not rib the Queen about losing to us all those years ago when I am the Royal Milliner.