Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolved

I'm still formulating my goals for next year but here's one: 

Make more stuff.

I've felt kind of disconnected this year, weird.  And I'm sure there are lots of reasons why but one that I have put my finger on is that I haven't made enough stuff.  I've barely touched the World's Largest Felt Collection.  I haven't sewn very much or cooked any really fantastic meals.  There just hasn't been enough creating going on and I need that sort of thing in my life. So there, resolution:  create.

Resolution for tonight:  snuggle my niece Addie, who has red curly hair.  You guys, you don't even know.  Her hair is a wonder.

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmastime in the Hood

What a lovely few days this has been.  On Christmas Eve we saw the return of an old Numbered Street tradition with Chino PD escorting Santa around on a flatbed truck.  We all walked down to the end of the street and waved, just like we did as kids. Nothing beats Christmas in the Hood.

On Christmas day we had our usual breakfast feast and then opened presents - one of which was a pair of Hammer pants.  For real.  Listen, my family is funny, okay?  And they've married funny people.  So when Camille put "Hammer Pants" on Gina's Christmas list as a joke, Chris decided to make them.  In hot pink.  We all took turns putting them on and dancing around the living room.  Glorious.

Yesterday we saw Les Miserables (I didn't hate Anne Hathaway, but I also wasn't broken up about her dying early on.) and then we had the summit.  There were no blazers or mustaches (disappointment) and we weren't in Switzerland but we did eat latkes and corned beef sandwiches and talked and laughed for many hours, which was exactly what I hoped for.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Scrum Scree

Merry Christmas, Dear Friends.  I hope your day is merry and bright.

My sisters and I did not do a Christmas number this year at the Knecht Family Extravaganza.  I know, I know.  There just wasn't time to rehearse, okay?  So to make up for it I'll show you this video that the fam has been obsessed with for some weeks now.



There isn't a single thing about this that I don't love. I die every time her wiggles his eyebrows. It's my Christmas gift to you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas cheer!

So much Christmas cheer!

1.)  I spent the majority of the afternoon and evening with the Art Society and we cut out snowflakes and watched Elf.  It should suprise no one that I'm going to become a full-time snowflake cutter-outer.  I love that it's a surprise every single time you unfold one.

2.)  The Salvation Army bell ringer over at Stater Bros. is THE BEST.  He is super cheerful and sings really loud with all the wrong words and mostly wrong tunes.  But he's just so happy.  You can't help but give him a buck everytime you come out.

3.)  I made caramels last night.  It is not Christmas until you have wrapped a few hundred caramels.

4.)  Christmas breaksfast with my seminary kids.  And we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas (Linus quotes Luke 2 and we're studying the New Testament.  It totally fits.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

I took to my bed

So I got the stomach flu AGAIN.  This is the third time in four months, and by far the worst. This begs the question - is a Russian spy conglomerate trying to off me? Because I sense foul play.  And it is well documented how much the Russians love to poison people.

Anyway, I was up all night long trying to not vomit.  And then I dragged myself out of bed and taught seminary - because my two other options were 1.) call someone at 4 in the morning to sub my class or 2.) call one of the other teachers and ask if they can take 25 more kids.  These seemed like total jerk moves so I went.  I will admit that there were multiple times throughout that class where I completely lost focus of what the kids were saying because I was trying not to pass out.  I made it home and crawled into bed and slept like the dead for many hours. I'm hoping that fooled the Russians and they'll leave me alone for a while.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Happiest Place

I'm officially ruined for ever going to Disneyland again unless I'm with a cast member and someone in a wheel chair.  My mom, Camille, Katie and I went yesterday thanks to our dear pal and practically little brother Casey (not our actual little brother Casey although they did grow up together so Casey 2 was over a lot.) Casey does parades there and he was kind enough to get us in for free and then take us around the park and get us onto all the rides through the back entrances.  And because my mom has a bum ankle we got her a wheelchair, which was our back door pass to everything else Casey couldn't get us into. We walked right onto everything, including the new Carsland ride, which is super fun.  It was such a lovely evening.  We just sort of strolled around and went on a few rides and ate ice cream and then Casey got us into the VIP area for the fireworks show. Magic.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Seriously, where's the fudge?

1.)  When Christmastime comes around I always start expecting treats every day.  Because treats seem to be so prevalent throughout December, that on the days that there are no treats I find myself looking around for them.  Surely there must be a plate of fudge somewhere in my apartment. Shouldn't there be a tin of brittle left on my doorstep?  A bag of caramels?  Cookies?

2.)  Speaking of Christmas treats I read an article in which the author was disproportionately passionate in her loathing of grapefruit as a holiday gift.  Is this a thing?  Do people really give grapefruits as gifts? She was writing as if this was a common practice and yet this was the first I've heard of it.  But then, every other person I know has a citrus tree in their backyard.  If I gave a basket of grapefruit as a gift I would expect the reply, "Um, thanks?" She was also writing as if everyone hates grapefruit.  Hogwash.  I think it's yummy.

3.)  It's not like I'm waiting at every door for a gentleman to open it for me, but this article on chivalry struck a chord.  I think we need to bring it back. Or at the very least, encourage men to not shove women out of life boats.

4.)  We were testing out Spenser's music video app at the institute.  What can I say, it's finals week.

video

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Summit

Here's a quick glimpse into how my brain works:

I like hitting upon the perfect word.  And I know when I get it because it conjures up the exact image in my mind of what I am trying to convey.  I just posted a comment on my friend Valerie's blog.  She was writing about books she would give to her family.  And since I know and love her family it made me nostalgic and I wrote: "Can we expect an Appel/Knecht Holiday Summit this year?" And like that I had an image in my head of our two families facing each other across long rows of tables. Some are wearing blazers, all are wearing name tags.  The men have sprouted mustaches.  There are pine trees outside because we're in Switzerland, as this is were all good summits are held.  The breakfast buffet is still set up but it's closer to lunchtime and there's a rumor going around that it's sandwiches again.  There is a stenographer in the corner. There is a lot of gesturing going on which signifies we're talking about important stuff.

This complete image popped into my head the instant I typed the word "summit" which can only mean that it was the perfect word.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Baby Hazard

We have a toddler at the Institute.  Her name is Baby Kodie and she's 18 months old.  Both of her parents go to school and they switch off taking classes so BK is there all day long.  She's become my little buddy.  She'll toddle into my office to open and close the cupboard doors, pull files out of the cabinets, color, snag some food from kids eating lunch in there and generally act really cute.  Sometimes she'll go into the game room and watch a round of ping pong.  Or she'll hang out with the guys as they discuss video games.  She loves taking people's iPhones and keys and they happily hand them over because she's so cute with them. Everyone loves her.  She's our little mascot.

Lately she's been coming into my office in the early afternoons to crawl up onto my lap and fall asleep.  It is as precious as it sounds and it melts my heart.  But I have discovered a hazard to this cuteness.  After I carry her out to the lounge and put her down on one of the couches I'll notice bits of food encrusted on my shoulder because she's a bit of a drooler when she sleeps.  Today is was dried milk.  Yesterday it was goldfish cracker crumbs.  The day before that someone gave her some candy so there was dried chocolate drool on the front of my sweater. There's also been licorice, Doritos, and remnants of string cheese.  I'm going to have to invest in a slicker.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

40 years

As mentioned previously, my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.  If you know my parents this should come as no surprise to you.  You can't picture them not being married to each other, can you.

I can give a million examples of why their marriage has been so successful.  But instead I'll just share three:

1.) I once told a friend that I had never heard my parents fight.  I've never heard them argue or raise their voice at the other or even say an unkind thing about the other.  Not once.  And my friend responded by saying that they had done me an enormous disservice because couples should fight.  They should yell and get angry because that's how you get to the heart of the matter, and now because of this quiet home life I would be greatly handicapped in any relationship because I wouldn't know how to fight for what I needed. She was wrong of course.  Because if anything what my parents taught me by this example was that it is entirely possible to have a relationship that is loving, generous, kind, loyal, funny, and respectful - without any yelling.  I am under no delusions that they had a perfect easy marriage, or that they didn't want to yell at each other from time to time.  But they refrained and always chose to work it out in a loving way rather than yell to get their point across.

2.)  It used to drive me crazy when my dad would come into the house and say, "G, can you make me a sandwich?"  Like he couldn't make his own.  Like she didn't already iron all of his shirts and make every meal for him and look after the kids and keep the house clean. So I brought this up with my mom and all she said was, "I like doing things for him.  And he does so much for me. Get over it."  So I've gotten over it.  And I have since learned to see how sweet it is when she does it.  Or when she asks him to do something and he responds.  When you love someone it's nice to make them a sandwich when they ask, even if it goes against all of your feminist ideals.

3.)  Nearly every single night we would eat dinner together as a family and at the end my dad would get up, take his plate to the sink, and then walk back over to my mom and put his arms around her and say, "Kids, have I ever told you how much I love your mother?" As if we needed to be told.  They showed it every single day in sweet simple actions.  There were never any giant gestures of love because there was nothing to prove. We saw it in everything they did.
 
 
Happy anniversary, you two crazy kids.  Have I ever told you how much I love you?

Friday, November 30, 2012

I have confidence...that this will be dreadful.

Excuse me while I vomit over this.

So it's bad that Carrie Underwood has been cast as Maria VonTrapp.  But what is worse is that someone thinks that they need to remake The Sound of Music.  Why don't they just remake the Sistine Chapel while they're at it?

Let's not even think about who will be cast as the Captain.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A trip worth the 7 hours of despair at the end

It took twelve hours to get home from Utah yesterday.  Seven of those hours were spent getting from Las Vegas to home.  It normally takes just three.  So, to everyone who travels to LV for Thanksgiving - I think you're dumb and I hope you lost it all on the nickle slots.

But on to happier things.  Let's roll the highlight reel!

1.)  My brand new niece Adelaide is adorable.  She was born Tuesday morning so the first stop we made when we got into town on Tuesday night was the hospital to shower her with kisses and give high fives to Kylea and Casey for being awesome. Also, her eyes have a hint of the Orient.  When Sam and I noticed we both did the victory fist.  Our Mongolian genes finally made it to the next generation.

2.)  Our co-pilots for the trip were Jake Gyllenhall and George Clooney.  We tore their pictures out of the People Magazine and attached them to the dash. They did not judge us when we stopped for Slurpees and then an hour later for ice cream cones.

3.) While shopping for supplies my sisters and I came across some pickles called Sweet Midgets, which tickled us and naturally we had to share with everyone (although, just the name because sweet pickles are gross.) We had a good laugh, until we heard Ben saying it and envisioned him being expelled from Kindergarten for calling someone that. (Other inappopriate phrases we have inadvertantly taught Ben:  "Honky Town" (because the neighborhood they live in is called White City) and "Go kiss a fat dog." I have no idea where that came from or what it means but we use it on the regular.)

4.)  The entire fam was together.  That's right - all of us. Mom, Dad, sibs, spouses, and babies, eating pie and cracking jokes.  And it was glorious.  It's been a while since we've all been in the same place and it felt like balance had been restored to the universe. 

5.)  Lindsay was the last to arrive from Iokotabraska (she lives where Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska intersect) and we all surprised her at the airport with signs and hollering. There was a woman who came down the escalator just before her who was the tannest woman I've ever seen.  Remember that one lady a few months back who took her daughter to the tanning salon?  This woman could easily beat her in a match-up of cancer cells. 

 6.) It wasn't just Thanksgiving that brought us all together. It was my parents' 40th wedding anniversary. We celebrated with dinner, a slide show full of embarrassing pictures, and a song we wrote to the tune of Don't Stop Believing. If there isn't a musical number than it is not a Knecht Family Party. I'm sure I'll write more about them later but here's a little preview: they're awesome. We all should be so lucky to have a marriage like theirs.

7.) We went to see the Christmas lights at Temple Square on Saturday. On the plus side, it was the perfect temperature for strolling in a cute coat with twinkle lights around you. On the minus side, if there is one thing we Mormons are good at it's congregating. Oy, the crowds. But we sure know how to make things pretty. It felt merry and bright.

8.) On the drive home - the Utah part with the fast traffic, before we knew what awaited us - we did some singing.  You see, we missed our annual Messiah Sing Along at the Nixon Library so to make up for it we brought the score and the CD and had our own. Jake and George were a terrific audience.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Packing light

I am a much more efficient packer for flying than for driving.  When I'm flying I like to get everything into one carry-on.  Checking a bag feels like failure to me. And waiting by a baggage carousel gives me anxiety.  Will my bag be there?  What if I have the exact same bag as someone else and they walk off with it?  What if I reach to grab my bag and my sweater gets caught on the conveyor belt and I get dragged into that mysterious underworld behind the rubber curtain? So it's one bag for me which makes it easy to answer the question, "Do I need this?" because if it doesn't fit then I don't.

But with driving I have the luxury of space.  And suddenly packing becomes a nightmare, because everything is a possibility.  Do I need this extra pair of shoes?  Maybe.  How about I bring 3 books instead of just one because what if I finish, or what if I get bored?  Three books it is.  Four pair of jim-jams seems reasonable, right? Plus I need a bag for snacks and a bag for stuff to do on the road. And cold weather only adds to the pile because now we're talking outwear and how many hoodies is enough?

This is where I'm at right now.  I'm packing for our road trip to Utah (Knecht Fest '012!!!! The whole fam together again!  And a new niece (fingers crossed tomorrow) to boot!  Oh, it's going to be tremendous.) and I'm up to my armpits in clothing options. And hair care equipment.  Do I really need my straightener and my curling iron? Can't I just stick with one look for 5 days?

Although I have the answer to the book question.  I'm just bringing Gone With the Wind.  Sweet Land of Cotton, that is the longest book.  And for about 200 pages all you hear is, "The Yankees are comin'! The Yankees are comin'!" You almost feel good about it when they finally get there and burn everything down.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I'm thankful for you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's gone!

You will never guess where I parked just now! 



That's right.  The Parking Tyranny is over!  Balance has been restored to the universe. That picture means nothing to you unless you've driven past the parking lot for the last 6 weeks and have seen a maroon Honda parked where my car is parked. Six weeks that Honda has been parked there while their spot sat empty and the rest of us has to fight for the two remaining spots.  Sometimes even Mr. 101 would get involved and then it was like Thunderdome.

As you know Katie and I were beginning to suspect foul play.  How long do you wait before you get Flo the Manager to go in and check for bodies? But it turns out that they were just being jerky. They moved out 6 weeks ago and just left their car there.  Apparently they paid through today so they would occasionally come by to collect stuff but their car just sat there gathering dust and giving us all high blood pressure.

If I wasn't afraid that Cranky Camaro Guy would bring a trail of cigarette smoke with him, I 'd invite them all over to celebrate.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Little Bag of Horror

Today I cooked 2 turkeys and 20 pounds of mashed potatoes for our institute Thanksgiving feast this week.  It's been kind of fun.  Sometimes you just need to peel two bags of potatoes.

Here's my question:  do any of you use the neck and the guts of the turkey?  Because holy dry heave!  Why do the Turkey People insist on putting those in?  Hasn't the magic of science brought us to a time when we can have the option of neck or no-neck?  Can't the neck people just ask the butcher for one instead of all of us having to deal with them? In general I have a difficult time handling raw meat, which is why I subsist on cold cereal and toast and the occasional apple.  But this was too much.

I went to three different locations looking for just turkey breasts because I desperately did not want to have to remove the neck and the innards in that little bag.  But I couldn't find them anywhere.  Nor could I find a whole bird without them. So I decided to be a grownup about it and get the whole birds, with all the fixings.  My prayers were partially answered because there was no little bag in any of the birds but I still had to pull out the necks.  Oh vomit. 

Dear Institute Students:  This is how much I love you.

ADDENDUM!!:  I just finished carving the turkeys and lo, there were the bags of squishy bits.  They appeared to have been tucked somewhere in the upper most part of the bird.  Fortunately they were in a paper bag and not a plastic one, because could you imagine all that basting and neck pulling out for naught! It's a Thanksgiving miracle!

And also, per Katie's comment:  Some years ago my family determined that the sickest phrase in the English language was "moist giblet loaf." Enjoy your dinner, everyone!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

We all voted

I made the colossal mistake of getting on Facebook last night after the election was called.  Sweet land of liberty!  You would have thought that everyone on there was standing on the edge of an abyss waiting to jump just after they got that one last status update in, because wo, the despair. Oh,with the threats to move to Canada (which I thought were amusingly ironic), and plans to stockpile ammunition, and look over there! It's the end of the world! I found myself sighing a lot over people's negativity. And I went to bed feeling kind of glum.

Because here's the thing that people fail to recognize.  We all voted.  We all researched and chose a guy and then we all went out and marked our ballots and got a sticker and then one guy won and one guy lost.  And to that I say, hooray for democracy.  It worked.  If you always want to be sure of an election there are many countries who can help you out with that. So maybe the guy who won wasn't the guy you wanted.  It's okay to be upset about that.  But it's not okay to make this one moment the Great Harbinger of the End of Days - particularly on Facebook - because it is not.

So this morning I woke up determined to make myself a politically neutral zone.  The kids came into seminary wanting to talk about it.  I fed them brownies and changed the subject.  At institute I made my office a negativity free zone.  We could talk about the results, we just couldn't say anything bad about them, or gloat, if that was the case.  Some kids left the office a little frustrated.  But others came in and we spent some time telling corny jokes to each other and laughing a lot.

See, life continues onward, just as it always has.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A face that could (almost) get me to move to AZ

Why!?  Why don't I live in Arizona!?  Wait, what am I saying?  Why?! Why don't Cynde and Ryan live in California?!  Because their baby is so cute and sweet and wonderful that it's only been a few hours since I've seen him and already I'm missing his squishy cheeks.  And that half smile he gives before falling asleep. And his wobbly head and spastic arms.  Ugh, he's the cutest.  This morning I spent some quality time with him snoozing in my arms for about an hour and then he woke up and had the world's largest poo explosion and even then I thought he was too adorable for words.

We spent most of the time lounging at home, reading and napping and watching trash tv and eating gelato and cooing over the kid.  I took a couple of hours out on Friday to have lunch with my long lost pal Stephanie.  We grew up together and were at BYU at the same time but haven't seen each other since.  We ate yummy sandwiches and reminisced about our glory days at girls camp. Thanks for coming all the way out, Stephanie! 

On Saturday we took an excursion into downtown Chandler to get popscicles and stroll and we ended up crashing an old people's brunch at a hotel while in search of bathroom to change a diaper.  We walked into the courtyard and stumbled across about a hundred or so senior citizens eating quiche and tapping their toes to a Dixieland band.  My people! 

It was such a great weekend.  And to top it all off, after I got buckled into my seat on the flight home I saw a woman walking down the aisle wearing an LA Derby Doll's sweatshirt and I said a silent prayer that she would sit next to me.  And she did!  Of course she did. She was one of those woman that looked like she lived kind of hard so I couldn't tell if she was 40 or 100 but the tips of her hair were dyed hot pink and she had a Hello Kitty tattoo on her neck.  No joke!  She told me all about how she was returning from Atlanta where she and her daughter attended the Roller Derby National Championships. I asked if she played and she said not currently because the team she used to skate with were a bunch of slackers. So I asked what her derby name was and she said it was Mama Gore.  And her daughter was Demi Gore.  We chatted the whole time before take off about roller derby and Gone With the Wind (still reading) and how come it's so blasted hot in California in November and then we clammed up at take off and did not disturb each other for the rest of the trip.  Which is to say it was a perfect flight home.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Cure for Weeping

It has been a season of unexpected loss lately.  Several friends and loved ones have had people pass away who were very important to them and just a few hours ago we found out that my Aunt Betty from Utah* died this morning.  It was expected and timely but sad nonetheless.  It's been a weepy few weeks.   

So I'm off to Arizona to celebrate a new little life.  My Best Friend Cynde and Best Friend-in-Law Ryan had a baby boy last month and I'm going out to meet him and smother him with kisses and even though he won't be able to fully participate, we will plan grand adventures for later in his life. I plan to be the fun aunt who blows into town and gives him Jules Verne novels and takes him out horseback riding in the desert. I'm looking forward to a joyous weekend of diaper changing and snuggling.

*This is how she signed all of her letters.  "Love, Aunt Betty from Utah." As if there could be another.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dude Descending a Staircase

You know, sometimes you just need to open up a brand new box of crayons
 
 
and stay up really late and color. 
 
I took this picture:
 
 
Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase
 
And made this picture:
 
 
Dude Descending a Staircase
 
The beginnings of the outline had been sitting in my sketch book for years and I came across it while cleaning up after Friday's meeting of the Art Society.  I also found this gem:
 
 
Mr. Potato Head Eaters. Based off of Van Gogh's Potato Eaters:
 
 
While we're on the subject of art, did you see Google today?
 
 
Happy birthday, Bob Ross!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The New NaNoWriMo

Is it crazy that I want to do NaNoWriMo again? 

Yes.  And here's why:

1.)  I will be out of town for 11 of the 30 days in November (visiting my best friend and her new baby boy (eeee!!!) in the beginning and Thanksgiving with the entire Fam (eeee!!!!) at the end. November is going to be MAGIC!)

2.)  On average I spend 90 minutes preparing my seminary lesson every single weeknight. In fact tomorrow's lesson is just a continuation of today's lesson that we didn't come close to finishing so it was already prepared and I still spent almost an hour tweaking it.

Crazy, right.  I mean, it's bonkers for me to even consider.  Except that I really, really want to. Because I really, really miss writing.  And I keep thinking of that Ray Bradbury quote where he says he has written every single day of his life since he was a kid and it's brought him nothing but joy.  And who doesn't want to be just like Ray Bradbury (except for the dead part.) 

Okay, so new plan - it's not feasible for me to write 3000 words a day (that's factoring in the days I'm off the grid and the days I'm wishing I was off the grid) but it's certainly feasible for me to write for 30 minutes every day. So that's the new goal. 30 minutes, every day, starting today - because who wants to wait for November?

Thanks for letting me talk this through. You've been a big help.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Foul Play and Nature and Speech Impediments

1.)  The Saga of the Neighbor's Parked Car continues.  We're going on two weeks now.  What would you do in this situation?  I'm for restraint because in the long run, who cares.  Except that I totally care!!! Katie suggested that maybe there's foul play involved.  Some sort of scandal that made them flee in the middle of the night.  Maybe it's time to get Flo involved.

2.)  We had our ward Primary Program today.  Every Mormon knows that this is the best Sunday of the year.  It is always full of laughter and tears and kids with adorable speech impediments. I wish that every kid had a speech impediment up until the age of 6 and then it magically goes away.

3.)  We had a Knecht family party last night.  We took a hayride to say hi to the cows and pigs and to smell just how authentic nature is.  So we're laughing and waving and putting straw between our teeth, just like real country folk.  And then my uncle said, "And on your right are the cows who have a date with the butcher."  Wah, wah.

4.)  Is it some sort of Indian festival tonight?  Because I've been hearing fire crackers go of periodically and just now there was a good 2 minutes of really loud Indian music playing somewhere in the neighborhood.  Oh, and it's 11:00 o'clock at night!  Turn it down, ya hoodlums! Or at the very least invite me over for samosas.

5.)  Did you happen to see this picture posted on my family's blog?  I will never get over my envy of Gina's luxurious hair.  You will note that even at the tender age of 2 my bangs were giving me grief.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Parking Pecking Order

Dear Neighbors,

We're cordial, right?  I mean, we always say hi to each other when we pass in the carport and I make silly faces and coo over your adorable children.  When you're playing with them down stairs you sound like really great parents, which is so refreshing after hearing our other neighbors, The Cranky Smoker and His Cranky Wife, yelling at their kids all day long for things like not walking fast enough or laughing too much. You're not loud, like the Gypsies upstairs, and you both seem like responsible, agreeable adults.

So it pains me to tell you that we're totally in a fight right now. And over something as petty as parking. But my hands are tied - you've crossed a line.

Each apartment has two cars but only one assigned spot. And for years now the three free covered parking spots have usually been filled by me or Katie, The Cranky Smoker's Camaro, and whoever is the senior most resident upstairs.  Listen, I know it's not technically our spot, it's anyone's spot, but for years we have been parking in those spots.  And you have been parking over on the side.  YEARS!  And it's not like the three of us switch around, we always park in the exact same spots.  So I don't understand why you're suddenly changing this up.  Or why, specifically you have decided that it's our spot that you're going to take.  Is it because of the Cranky Smoker?  Yeah, I'm afraid of him too (and the lung cancer he is trying to give me).  Is it because the other guy is really big and has tattoos?  Helpful hint:  he's super nice.  But that still does not mean that I'm going to take his spot!  Because there's this unwritten law, you know?  I'm not saying that there is a pecking order, but there is so a pecking order! And for the record, I can't help it if I happen to get home at a time when it is free and I take it. 

Okay, so whatever.  You take it from time to time.  I'm not going to begrudge someone flexing their renter's right to covered parking.  That is not what this fight is about.  What it is about is that fact that for the last week your car has been parked in that spot while your assigned spot has been empty.  Did you seriously just go on vacation and leave your car in a prime parking spot?  For a week?!  And Camaro and Big Guy haven't budged.  Which means that every morning Katie or I wander around the building trying to remember which rando spot we had to park in the night before.

So whenever you come back from wherever you are (Martha's Vineyard?  Fire Island?) just know that I will still say hi to you and coo over your cute kids, but my heart is stone.

Cordially (or so I thought),

Rachel

PS. I hope everything is okay and you didn't have to rush away for an emergency.  I would feel bad about that.  Gah!  Why can't I stay cranky like The Cranky Smoker?  He would be seething if it were his spot you were taking.  He'd raise it to 10 packs a day as opposed to his usual 9, just to spite you.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Confirmed: I would not last in the Hunger Games

I'm sure you've all been in this situation.  You're on a girls' roadtrip to Vegas for a baby shower and you end up doing archery.


Mom, Camille and I started the weekend in Las Vegas and then headed up to Logandale, NV (about an hour away from Vegas, but lightyears away in regards to number of women walking around in sparkly skirts the size of a paper towel.) for my sister-in-law Kylea's baby shower.  Casey was out as well so we hung out at Kylea's family's home afterwards and then someone suggested archery and there we were.  Logandale is this cute little town in the middle of the desert.  It is suprisingly verdant with ample room to shoot things.  They do a lot of outdoorsy type stuff like drive ATVs, and repel off of mesas, and shoot guns.  And there was plenty of space and equipment in the backyard to have an archery festival, just like in Robin Hood! Oodalolly!

Do you know who was really, really good at it?  My mom.  She took a class in college lo these many years and it came right back to here.  She got a bullseye on her second shot.  And she got the nastiest welt from the bow after she decided to take the arm guard off.  It makes her look really hard-core.

I, on the other had, am no Katniss.  I managed to hit the target a few times, including this beauty that went through the grommet.


But for the most part I just shot them into the grass beyond.  And I only got an itty-bitty baby welt.  A weltlet, if you will.  I'm almost embarrassed to even mention it.  But it was a blast!

Thanks McMurray's!  We'll be out for shooting lessons soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"I only have one photo in my hands..."

Tonight at our Relief Society meeting several friends and I were discussing the classiness of the current cycle of America's Next Top Model in comparison to previous cycles.  Which is like comparing the stinkiness of large piles of rotting garbage.  I know.  But we all have our weaknesses, alright?  Stop judging.

We all were in agreement that the show is nothing without The Jays, and Noted Fashion Photographer Nigel Barker.  Also, who thought it was a good idea to have the public vote for the girls?  What does the public know?!  The people who watch ANTM (including myself) are complete morons who know nothing about the fashion industry.  We just think that Tyra is crazy and can't turn away.  This decision should not be in our hands.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Great surprises of the week

1.  Some of my seminary kids covered my car in pink hearts with little messages on them.  They may be squirrely, but I'd match them against any group of kids for cuteness and awesomeness.

2.  My friend Andrea, with her husband and mom in tow, surprised me at the institute.  She lives in Arizona and I didn't even know she was in town and suddenly there she was asking if I'd seen any Knights of Columbus recently.

3.  Katie made a mixed CD for our fair trip (it's tradition) and she put on "Freedom" by Wham! A song I completely forgot existed but still managed to know all the lyrics to once I heard it again.  Please enjoy the video, particularly the part where George Michael and the Other Guy in Wham! do the back to back thing that is so essential in 80s rock.




A million points to whoever comes up with the best name for that dance move George keeps doing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Inclement Weather Paralysis - Summer Edition

1.  Inclement Weather Paralysis does not just strike in the cold and the rain.  It strikes in extreme heat as well.  We have been sizzling like bacon strips around here and I find myself lying in a stupor on my bed, trying to muster the will to live, or at the very least, the will to fix myself a bowl of cereal for dinner.

2.  I have become the English Tutor in Residence at the Institute.  Every day I have at least one kid come in and ask if I can look over a paper.  It's so much fun!  You know how much I love to edit.  Today was especially fun because one of my students had to write a paper on Fahrenheit 451, which I just so happened to read last week.  Providence!  And also, poor kid. Because I really liked that book a lot and had a ton of things to say about it, which would have been super helpful if he were looking for more than just help in forming an opening paragraph.

3.  Speaking of books, I've had enough people recommend Gone With the Wind to me lately that I went and picked it up.  Have you seen how fat it is?  I had to splurge and get the nicer, taller paperback version because the cheap copy was about 5 inches wide at the spine.  How can you even open a thing like that?  This could take awhile, considering my leisure reading time has been greatly diminished as of late. Have you read it?  What did you think?

Monday, October 1, 2012

There be leprechauns at the fair

We made it to the Fair!  It only took us the entire month to get there but we still managed to have a day full of adventure and insane food.
 
1.)  Who said sheep are dumb?  This wee lamb had the right idea.  It was nigh unto the surface of the sun on Saturday (and even hotter today.  Oh, for crying out loud, October!  Give me a break!)
 
 
2.) We came across some kind of fancy carriage driving contest.  These ladies had to drive out to the ring, do a figure 8, stop and back up, then do a couple of intricate turns. 
 
 
This lady won the whole thing.  Notice how her horse isn't nearly as decked out as the other ones above, but she was by far the fanciest dressed driver.  Although from our seats we could not tell if it was a man or a woman.  But we knew for sure she was a leprechaun.  When she won the announcer called her a legend.  How does one become a legend in the Fancy Carriage Driving Circuit?
 
 
3.  Yes, that is a giant slice of bread covered in Nutella and bacon.
 
 
4.  It's a little hard to tell but that's Elvis walking by the red stand.  He had on the most glorious white jumpsuit.
 
 
5.  Katie found a hat that fit her head.  Thus proving that miracles do happen at the fair.
 
 
6.  This was the creepiest thing I saw there:  you can have your face put on a stuffed animal.  Friends, I promise you that if you ever give me something like this I will have nightmares about you and will have to unfriend you on Facebook.
 
 
7.  What's that?  Oh, it's my doily and blue ribbon.  I was tempted to stand next to it all afternoon posed just like this.
 
 
2012 LA County Fair:  Success!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Women of Elegant Leisure take Los Angeles

A significant portion of my ward is made up of young married couples. The husband is usually going to dental/PA/PT/grad school and the wife is home with the kids or working full time.  They are usually not from around here. So Katie and I have started taking a few gals along on excursions into the city. They are days full of laughing and good food, which is the same as book club and stitching group and restaurant club - only with more hobos.  Highlights of yesterday's Women of Elegant Leisure LA Trip include:

1.)  Getting off the freeway at the fabric district and assuring the ladies that we would not be murdered, despite all the evidence to the contrary.  It is not in the prettiest part of town, but the deals are great.

2.)  Breakfast/lunch at the Nickel Diner, the same place I went for my birthday dinner.  It was just as awesome.  In fact, we met the owner this time and she remembered us from when we came last month and to thank us for coming back she brought out slices of buttered toast (everyone should know that toast is the way to my heart - somewhere on this blog is a lovingly crafted ode to it.) and her "special reserve" nectarine jam.  Um, HEAVEN!!!!  Their strawberry jam, which is at every table, was also incredible.  We tried some of their famous donuts, a maple bacon which was off the charts and a strawberry, which was sweeeeet but tasty in small doses.  I am now convinced that every trip into downtown needs a stop off at the Nickel Diner.

3.)  The bearded man walking through Union Station with a guitar slung across his back shouting, "I'M WIDE AWAKE!  I'M WIDE AWAKE!" and the security guard following close behind him.

4.)  The air conditioning on the subway car. Also, the air conditioning in Sephora, the giant fan in the station, and the $1 fans we bought at the sparkly tchotchkes shop. Not to mention the giant frozen lemonades we all bought and sucked down as we strolled up Olvera Street. Holy Cats! It was so hot and sticky and humid yesterday. Dear Autumn, we're ready. Love, Rachel.

5.)  Hanging out with some of my favorite people.  I know that someday your husbands will be done with school and you'll move away but we'll always have that ghetto part of LA.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Return of the Errant Knight

Guess who has returned.  The Knight of Columbus!

He did not go into any details about his arrest and I did not ask (like I want to be tangled up in a legal hullabaloo.) But he did say that he felt compelled to serve us for our kindness in letting him park his car in our lot for a few days (WHILE HE WAS IN JAIL!).  He asked if there was any way he could be of assistance, specifically in fighting off the college's blatant attempts to squelch our religious liberties.  As if I'm going to give him any fuel for that fire.  And also, what squelching?  Our missionaries are on campus all the time and the only people harassing them are nutty students who think that Mormon's worship snakes.  As far as I know our liberties seem to be doing okay.

He left a little disappointed.  Poor Good Sir Knight. I should have asked him to take out the trash.

Monday, September 17, 2012

They have no idea

This morning in seminary we were discussing one of my favorite passages of scriptures (Matt 11:28-30) and the kids were being so sweet to each other and I naturally started to well up, just the tiniest bit.  And one of the kids said, "Oh!  Don't cry," in that really sweet, concerned voice that only makes me cry more.  But it actually made me chuckle*.  Because these kids have no idea what they're up against, crying wise.  They have no idea that I am the World Class Grade-A Olympic Gold Medalist Crier.  This welling up, where the tears didn't even crest, this was nothing.

I will report that I've been teaching for about 2 weeks now and I love.  I mean, I really do. I have 25 loud, funny, enthusiastic students and I wake up every morning at 4:45 excited to see them. I thought I had the best job in the church with Nursery, but I was wrong.  It's Seminary. (Although, let's get real, I miss those nursery kids a lot and find sitting in class for 2 hours without any Goldfish crackers or play time a little tedious. I'm trying to be grown up about it.)

*Paraphrasing a quote from Jane Eyre, "Telling me not to cry is like telling a fire not to burn."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I felt decidely undressed

I was in a local restaurant tonight picking up dinner when a man dressed as a woman walked in and ordered a falafel plate. And when I say "dressed like a woman" what I mean is six inch heels, black stockings, flared skirt, blazer, flouncy blouse and a hat fit for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Matching Tees


At our last meeting of the Art Society we made t-shirts and we debuted them at today's meeting.  Because there are few things I love more than matching tees.


They were cinchy.  I just printed the words and then cut them out onto contact paper and then slapped them on the shirt and spritzed it with bleach. 

Yeah, my Art Society is kind of awesome.



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Award-winning

I WON A BLUE RIBBON AT THE FAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


You guys!!!!!  Maybe you're not aware but winning a blue ribbon at the fair was one of my Life Goals.  In fact, as soon as I'm done I'm going to open up my Life Goal spread sheet and cross it off. My whole life I have gone to the LA County Fair and have wandered through the exhibits and have sighed over other people winning.  So when I won 3rd place a few years ago I felt really great about it, but it still wasn't a blue.

So just imagine my joy when I get a text from my mom, who was at the fair with my dad, and in that text was a picture of my lace doily and a blue ribbon.  (Just typing that makes me want to do a cartwheel!)  The next minute or so was a blur but I know for sure there were multiple fist pumps, several leaps, a few shimmies and a toe touch.  It's a good thing I was still wearing my gym clothes for extra flexibility and ease of motion.

Totally worth the year it took to make that thing.  Dream come true!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Peachy, buttery goodness

Because I love you, because I want nothing but your happiness, because I think that sharing is caring, because I wish that you had all been around last night when we ate this so that we all could have rejoiced together, I'm going to pass on this recipe for Paula Deen's peach cobbler and tell you that I think you should make it immediately.

What are you still sitting there for?!  You have all the ingredients except for the peaches so run to the store and pick some up and make this RIGHT NOW!  Because soon peach season will be over and you'll be sad that you didn't maximize what little time you had left by making it every single day and then eating the leftovers for breakfast.

Fact:  The leftovers are so good that I shot a victorious fist in the air while eating them.

It is peachy, buttery goodness.  It will make you want to hug someone. 

And if you really want to go over the top you should eat it with homemade boysenberry ice cream, which we did.  And then we all died.  And then we came back to life and had some more.



Thursday, August 30, 2012

One down

Day 1 of seminary:  check!

I woke up on time and excited.  My kids are adorable and lovely and funny and eager.  My room doesn't seem to have air conditioning and it felt like I was teaching in a sauna.  But despite that one thing, I loved it. And really, isn't sweating good for the pores?

In other news, the institute students came back this week.  Boy, did I miss them.  I was sitting in my office listening to the buzz of the place - the constant game of ping pong, the squeak of Slurpee straws (yes, we have a Sev next door), the laughing - and I felt like the world was right again.

Monday, August 27, 2012

"'Tis a silly place."

Can you believe that I have spent my whole life here and have never been to Medieval Times? I mean, who loves campiness more than this girl?  So it was with true, un-ironic glee that I accepted Emily's invitation for last Friday.  There was a moment in the show when I leaned over to her and said, "You are my one true friend for bringing me here."

Because where else can you watch fancy horse dancing while eating half a chicken with your bare hands?  The highlights:

1.)  You probably all have been, but here's how it goes down:  You eat your dinner while a show of horsemanship and knightly jousting goes on.  And there are actors who play the king and the princess and the Bad Guy and the Master of Ceremonies and several knights. I could not help but wonder what it must be like to say, "I play the Bad Guy at Medieval Times."  Is this their actual job?  Or are they all accountants who do this on the side?  I'm legitimately curious.  And our waiter was no help at all when we asked him about it. But he did seem to have aspirations to at least work his way up to page boy.

2.)  You really do eat all of your food with your hands.  There are no utensils.  Which is so gloriously gimmicky.  I loved it. 

3.)  There was a falconer.  I mean, the Royal Falconer.  And I don't know if you're aware of this but I'm not too keen on birds, any kind really, but particularly large birds of prey that can claw my eyes out and nest in my hair.  So there was a little bit of panic when the falcon was let loose and he swooped over us and all I could think of was, "Do I in any way resemble a rodent?  When he flaps his wings do particles of avian flu flutter down on my tomato soup? I wish my hair wasn't such a frizzy mess because it is looking a lot like a nest right about now."

4.)  If cheering were an Olympic sport the Chinese would not even stand a chance against me.  I love to root for people.  Which came in handy because you're assigned a knight to cheer on in the tournament.  Ours had the best hair - lots of flowing locks.  But he was ousted in the first round.  It is a testament to how much I love to scream encouraging things to people that I continued to cheer on the other knights, even though I had no allegiance to them.

5.)  The stunts in the tournament looked something like this:  dodge a fatal blow, wait one second, tuck and roll like you've been struck. Or, if on a horse, narrowly miss being run through with the lance, wait for your horse to get to its mark, leap from the horse.  Impressive

6.) I love that Medieval Times is still a destination.  The place was packed.  I guess because it's been around for decades I just assumed that it had run its course and would shortly go the way of the Movieland Wax Museum across the street.  But no - people still wore their paper crowns with pride.  I was thrilled.

7.)  There are more than enough opportunities to quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail - as if you need them.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Five Things

1.)  I'm addicted to Sporcle.com.  Have you been on?  Don't do it!  You'll never leave!  It's a site with all sorts of random trivia quizzes.  And you know how much I love trivia.  Specifically geography trivia.  I'll get on just to do one little quiz about bordering nations and suddenly 3 days have passed and I've grown a beard and cobwebs are attached to it. Enter at your own risk.

2.)  Have you seen the fat Mini Cooper?  I think it's called the Countryman.  If by countryman they mean a fella who lives in the country and eats nothing but pork cracklins all day, then it's a pretty fitting name.  It looks like it has a glandular problem.  I laughed for days after seeing one and now I see them everywhere.  I will not comment on people who buy overweight Minis but if I believed in doing hashtags I would do one for missing the point.

3.)  I miss this girl

video

And I miss the girl filming it.  Dear Amanda and Bronwyn, please move to California.  Love, Rachel.

4.)  Actually, this goes for all of my friends who don't live here.  Why don't you live here?!  California is the best place in the world! I want you close by so you can come over and eat ice cream with me while we watch Gilmore Girl reruns.

5.)  Seminary starts in a week.  GAH! I've met with my students and their parents and they are basically the cutest group of youngsters on the planet. I've already decided we need matching t-shirts and a cheer.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Birthday fun!

Did you get a Slurpee?  I sure did.  But it was a bit of a fail.  I put what was marked lemon creme in my cup but it was actually banana.  Eww, gross!  Fortunately I did halfsies and had cherry lime on top. But I'm still going to need a redo.

Someone at the LA Music Center must have known that it was my birthday because they scheduled a Broadway sing-along on it.  Sweet, huh?  So a bunch of girlfriends and I headed over and sang and danced and made friends with people who love to sing and dance.


Side note:  I love my friends.  This is just a very small handful of the people in my life who are outstanding and good and beautiful and fun. Birthdays make me feel lucky.

You will never believe who was there!  Mr. Pleated Khakis/Black Mock Turtleneck!  And he was wearing the exact same outfit.  You can see him near the center of this picture, singing with his eyes closed:


The Lady In Red leaning into him is his wife and those two were IN LOVE.  They kept serenading each other and making googly eyes during the ballads. They were getting a little PG-13 during some of the songs.  It was amazing. I need to figure out a way to become their best friends.


After we sang our hearts out we headed over to this place in downtown that was out of this world good.  I loved everything I tried.  Including what I ordered:


That steak was a victory for mankind.  And so was the root beer creme brulee.  Yeah, you read right, root beer creme brulee.  It blew my mind.

And now for the funniest picture of the whole evening:


I brought Ruby out for a night with the ladies (I mean, she is a lounge singer.  Who knows Broadway's ballads of love and loss better than this gal?) I forgot I even took this picture but when I uploaded it just now I nearly fell off my chair from laughing.  It's her smudged face that gets me.  She's all, "Yeah, so I've lived hard.  But I also go to places that serve fancy desserts.  Classy!"

Hooray for birthdays!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

2nd Annual Get Yourself a Slurpee Day!

Hi Friends.  Guess what tomorrow is.  It's the 2nd Annual Get Yourself a Slurpee Day.  So go out and celebrate by getting yourself a Slurpee or a comparable slushy beverage*.  Why?  Listen, if you have to ask then you don't get Get Yourself a Slurpee Day.  It's fun, okay?  And there doesn't even need to be a reason to get one.  But I'll give you one anyway:  slushy beverages make people happy and I like to see you happy. Which leads me to part two of GYASD - take a picture of you and your loved ones enjoying a Slurpee and send it to me. Or post it up on Facebook (we're friends, right).  Think of this as a movement.  You share a picture of you enjoying a Slurpee and your friends see it and think, that's a great idea, and then they get one and post a picture and then there are all these pictures floating around of people relaxing by the pool with a Slurpee in their hand and bam - world peace. We'll all split the Nobel Prize money.  Who's in?

*Snow cones count.  Or if you're in wintry climes, you may substitute in a hot cocoa.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Other Stuff Happened Too

So the Olympics have only been done for half a day and I still have many hours saved on my DVR of unwatched events.  And yet I already miss them.  Come back to me!

Although it does not seem like it, other things happened besides a collection of sports we only care about every 4 years.

1.)  Stacy and the kids surprised us with a week-long visit.  It has been joyous.  The Blessed Nephews are like two blond tornadoes, but incredibly funny.  And Eliza is an angel with a button nose and dimples.  Casey and Kylea also came for a couple of days and we did what we do best, which is sit around and laugh.  And we had a sisters pedicure trip.  Ah.

2.)  Ben and I were pretending to be octopuses (wait, what was it?  Octopodes!) while swimming and he demonstrated the many skills the octopus has.  "JET PROPULSION!" He'd zip across the pool, "ARM STRIKE!" he'd sock me in the arm, "SUCTION CUPS!" he'd latch onto my face, "CAMOUFLAGE!" he'd attempt to sink to the bottom of the pool which was difficult in his life vest.

3.)  Multiple earthquakes.  But don't worry, just baby ones.  They were appropriate because I always associate earthquakes with hot weather.  And folks, it has been hot. 

4.) So, so hot!  So hot that our air conditioning decided to quit.  And on its way out it was all, "See you later, losers!  I hope you have fun turning into fruit leather while I'm gone." It is fixed now after two sweltering days and nights and I have erected a shrine around the thermostat, lest it feels under appreciated now that its working again.

5.)  I developed a mysterious craving for cucumbers.  I DON'T KNOW HOW THIS HAPPENED!  I'm sorry to scream but cucumbers are the one food I really, really don't like.  So imagine my surprise when I found myself thinking, "Hm, a cucumber sounds pretty good right now." And then thinking, "I have to have a cucumber right this very minute!" What is wrong with me? No seriously, this is freaking me out.  I made cucumber sandwiches for book club and woke up the next day excited to eat the left overs for breakfast.  I think it's a tumor.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"I know you. I know you."

Olympic sports I have a hard time taking seriously even though I will sit for hours and watch them:

Speed walking:  It's pretty hard to not giggle a little at the guys who look like ducks when they compete.  Do you think they get made fun of by the other athletes?  Also, they could all use a sandwich or two.

Rhythmic Gymnastics:  Let's be real here, I would choke myself with that ribbon. And I am a little amazed by what they can do with a hula hoop considering that all I've ever been able to do with a hula hoop was play space aliens with my cousins in my grandparents' backyard (hold the hula hoop around your waist, talk like an alien and make spaceship sounds, see how many cousins you can fit inside.  Hours and hours of fun.) And I certainly love a sparkly outfit.  But it's a little too Cirque du Soleil for my Olympics taste.

BMX Bikes:  I don't know. Is it really that special if every punk kid in the 80s was doing it?

Synchronized Swimming:  (See Rhythmic Gymanstics) I've never be able to watch this without giggling thanks to this skit.  It would be impossible to count the number of times the line, "I'm not that strong a swimmer," has been said by a member of my family over the last 25 years that skit has been in existence.  I said it just the other day while in the pool.  And then I did a couple of the moves.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Olympic Mustache

When Camille and I saw each other last night, after Andy Murray won the gold medal, we hugged and congratulated ourselves.  Because long ago we saw him play at Indian Wells when he was just a kid and we loved him then and have watched him there every year since (except for this year.  Don't get us started.) and we feel like part of that gold medal is ours.  In a symbolic sense, of course.  I'll start excepting endorsements now. 

In other news:  The gold medal winner for the skeeviest mustache goes to this guy:


Tomas Gonzalez, a Chilean gymnast. 

Whilst searching for his picture on the internet I came across this gem:


I do not know whose hand he is shaking but I'd like to shake it too.  He's like a bleached, permed My Little Pony.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Don't tell Kobe I said that. I don't want his head to get any fatter.

Olympic Round-up Part III

1. I think that we've all had enough time with Ryan Lochte this week to recognize that he is a total doofus.  Sure, he can swim and we all root for him.  But the poor kid is kind of dim when it comes to talking out loud.

2.  It's not very often when I say, "That Kobe Bryant is a swell guy."  In fact, I say that exactly never. That is up until the Olympics where he is popping up all over the place, watching random events and cheering people on.  And suddenly I'm thinking that we can totally be best friends because he loves the Olympics and I love the Olympics.

3.  I did not realize that the coxswain on a rowing team gets a medal too.  You guys, I have found my future gold medal! The two requirements seem to be you have to be short and scream really loud.  I'm great at both of those things.  Rio 2016 here I come!

4.  Maybe my favorite Olympic moment so far was watching the women's 100 meter preliminaries.  I love that if you come to the Olympics, no matter how you got there, be it a win or a wild card, you get to compete.  And it may just be one race that lasts 10 seconds.  But you still get your moment.  You get to put on the colors of your flag and step out on the track and run.  So seeing all of those women from places most people have never heard of, women who know they don't have a shot but do it anyway, women who are the first from their country to ever compete, women who couldn't practice with starting blocks because they didn't have any, well, it made me want to get an Olympic rings tattoo like every single athlete has.  Not really.  But maybe I'll paint the rings on my cheek.

5.  Trampoline is the sport of the future.  Doesn't it look like so much fun?  Except for the part where I would be vomitting from all that jumping and spinning.  I get dizzy just from the camera going up and down with them. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

En Garde

On Fencing:

1.) Have you been watching fencing?  I watched a match between Mariel Zagunis and some gal from India who would scream like a banshee (as in the sound of your death being foretold) anytime she got a point, or thought she got the point, or thought that Mariel got the point but it should have been awarded to her.  It was... intense.  If Mariel gets the gold she will have earned it because if I had that scream coming at me along with a sword, I would be cowering under the judges' table.

2.)  Another American was playing a Tunisian.  Obviously I was rooting for Team USA but I was sort of hoping the Tunisian would pull out a win.  That country supplied me with a lot of adventures, marriage proposals, and Orangina.  They are in my heart.

3.)  For some reason the arena is dark except for the area where the competitors fight.  And there are areas of flashing lights to signal when someone has been hit.  And they're wearing these shimmery silver get-ups.  So when they walk out, and the very excited announcer says their names it had a hint of Vegas floor show to it.  Or the Icecapades.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Don't forget to pack your jodhpurs

Olympic Round Up Part II

1.)  I'm just going to admit it here:  I kind of love the equestrian sports.  Dressage is basically just fancy horse dancing but it's mesmerizing to watch.  And the course races where they have to leap over giant things makes me so nervous that it's exhilarating when they make it.  And Prince Phillip was there the other day to watch his granddaughter compete.  And you know how I feel about Prince Phillip (he's awesome.)

2.)  In that vein, packing for a few weeks in England with your horse must be a beast.  It's not like you're a runner and all you need is a tank top, some teeny shorts, and a few pair of sneakers.  You have to pack a saddle, a blazer, riding breeches, a crop, boots, and a top hat. And then you have to pack all of your horse's stuff too.  Not to mention you to have to get your horse over there.  How much does it cost to ship a horse to England?  And how does one do it?  Carrier plane?  Trans-Atlantic ocean liner?  Ugh, the logistics! 

3.)  The British Men's Gymnastics team was robbed of that silver medal by the hipster-haired Japanese.  I could have gotten into a better handstand position than that last guy did at the end of his pommel horse routine, and my arm strength is like unto day-old spaghetti noodles.  But didn't you just weep for the Brits that they actually got a medal?  And didn't you love how excited Princes Will and Harry were?  And the crowd was nutso!

4.)  Okay, so maybe I'm being unfair to the Japanese because I just finished that book Unbroken and this poor guy was a prisoner in a a Japanese POW camp during WWII and they were monsterous to him.  I mean appallingly brutal.  I can't shake it and well, it's carrying over a bit.  Let's hope one of them does something charming in the next 2 weeks so that I can put them back into the category of Countries I Don't Root For But Don't Necessarily Root Against Unless They Are Up Against A Country I Love.
5.)  I get really claustrophobic when I watch the white water sports.  I envision myself wearing that life vest and helmet and being tucked into the kayak and water pouring all over me and having to paddle upstream to get around the gates and suddenly I find myself taking really deep breaths. 

6.)  We could all use some sub-titles for Bela Karolyi, am I right?  But his mustache is glorious.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Seacrest Out!

I've been in an Olympics induced coma all weekend.  Happily, I should say.  The opening ceremonies were weird but fun (who else was baffled by the Ode to the National Health Services?) And the competition has been exciting. 

But there has been a fly in the ointment.  And that fly is Ryan Seacrest.  What fat-head in NBC decided to put him on the air?  And how can we get him off? We still have two weeks.  There is no time for a solid letter writing campaign, which is always my tactic of choice.  So instead we're all going to have to call the NBC headquarters and scream really loud. We can do this!
In general I get annoyed whenever I see him and his over-gelled hair.  I have been very successful up til now avoiding Ryan Seacrest, which is not easy to do considering that he is trying to take over the world.  I don't watch American Idol or E! and I never listen to him on the radio.  And you would think that the sports world would be the one place we all could be safe from his enormous mouth because he always strikes me as someone who cares more about moisturizers than athletics.  But now he has popped up on the Olympics, something that I truly love, and it just makes me want to punch something.  Why is he even there?  It seems like every time he opens his mouth he's only talking about something he read on Twitter or how he's besties with the Bieb.

I feel like this is a sign of the Apocalypse.  Or maybe HE is a sign of the Apocalypse.  Along with famine and plagues.  Because how powerful are you when you're the Most Annoying Person on TV and you still get a coveted gig like this?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mostly pictures of cute nephews

Random pictures from my camera.

1.)  Ruby was eyeballing my free slurpee on 7/11.  It was actually my second free slurpee that day but I still was not about to share.



2.)  I made this large doily/small table cloth/old lady shawl and turned it into the fair competition.  It took a year to make.  When I handed it over to the guy at the drop-off I checked for dirt under his fingernails.  Maybe sometimes in your heart you doubt that I am 80. This is proof that you should not. 
3.)  This was my view the entire drive to Utah.  MY NEPHEW LEVI IS CUTER THAN ALL OF YOUR NEPHEWS COMBINED!!!!


4.)  Look who it is!!!  Rac!!  And we're not vomiting.  In fact, we laughed at that curse and went out to lunch.  Which made me consider moving to Utah because I miss that girl.  It was her dream in high school to own a convertible Mazda Miata and she finally has one.  So we zipped around town in it.  And she let me drive it home which was awesome.  Friends, we should all own convertible sports cars.  Just for fun.


5.)  I spent this afternoon with the Art Society.  We made construction paper flowers and ate frozen grapes and watched Peter Pan and pretended to be pirates/florists.  It was basically the best afternoon of my life.


6.)  Ben got it in the eye with a marker when Tom was a little too enthusiastic about getting the lid off.  He was not thrilled, until he looked in the mirror and said, "Hey, I look like Scar from the Lion King. Okay, that's cool."  Agreed.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Go big or go home!

Hi friends.  Blogging from exotic Provo, UT here.  I spent the day playing and eating and playing and eating and swimming in a rainstorm and visiting and driving a convertible (pictures to come.  There is some very windswept hair up in here.) And I'll write all about it but for now I just have to make an observation.

Do you know what Utah loves?  Utah loves a big flag.  They don't have any of those communist regular sized flags that you see in other states.  Oh no.  They have GIANT AMERICAN FLAGS that are the size of my apartment.  Maybe even bigger than my apartment.  They're big, okay.  I was driving quite a bit today and every building along the highway had one.  Except for one.  And as I was approaching the average size flag I thought, "What kind of American is flying this baby flag?"  And then I saw that it was in front of the National Guard building.  Weak sauce, National Guard!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Showtime at the Apollo

At the Motown sing-along tonight there was a guy wearing pleated-front, high-wasted khakis and a black short-sleeved mock turtle neck.  He also had red hair and wore glasses that looked like they were around in the Clinton administration.  And yet he was singing and dancing like he was a Pip and this was Showtime at the Apollo.  It was glorious.  And it epitomized exactly why I love these things so much.  Because he wasn't the only one singing and dancing. We all were.  It was the Apollo in all of our minds.  It may have been the most fun I've had at a sing-along ever. 

I'm off to Utah to kiss on my niece and nephews.  When I return we will commence the Fortnight of Nothing But Olympic Blog Posts.  You better light the Olympic torch in your heart, people, because I won't restrain my enthusiasm.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Errant Knight Errs

You guys are not going to believe this but the Knight of Columbus came back  And he brought intrigue with him!  I noticed him come in so I said hi and he hung out in the lounge for a bit and then he came up and asked if it was okay if he parked his car in our lot for the day.  He said he was asking because he noticed the permit signs and wanted to stay above the law.  I thought that was very knightly of him so I gave him a temporary day pass and told him to feel free to sign up for a class so he could get a permanent one.  And then he left.  I assumed he was going off to lance things or dust off the plume of his fancy dress hat.

But then an hour later a fellow came in whom I hadn't seen before.  He came up to my window and said, "I'm looking for Rachel."  I introduced myself and he said, "I have a message from (The KoC) for you.  He was just arrest and wants to know if you can give him a call." And then he handed me an index card with the KoC's name and number scribbled on it.

Um.

So it turns out that the KoC's oath to defend the rights of various faiths also extends to the rights of the down-trodden, namely his rights.  According to his friend he was recently suspended from school for "doing something dumb" and barred from entering the campus and he felt as if that trampled on his personal freedoms so he purposely went to an office on campus and started making a ruckus and refused to leave and the police were called and he was hauled off, which was his intention all along so that he could sue them for encroaching on his civil liberties.  And somewhere during all of this he managed to tell his friend to come and find me so that I could ring him up to, I can only assume, chitchat about the weather.  Because what else can I say to this guy except, "Yep, that was pretty lame thing you just did."

To appease his friend I dialed the number and, as expected, got his voice mail because I bet it's tough getting to your phone when you're shackled in the back of a squad car.

When I was telling this story to Katie she said, "And you thought you wouldn't have any crazy stories at this job."  HA!  I still got it, people.  The crazy still follows me.