Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Retrospective

A few nights ago I was talking to my mom and Lindsay about the whole Target debit card theft thingy and how I'm a little paranoid because you may recall that my card number has been stolen and my bank account wiped out twice this year and on top of that I had $30 left on a rebate credit card that was also stolen.  And Lindsay said to me, "So you've had this happen 3 times AND you had shingles?! This is a rough year."

To which I say, if this is all the bad things that happened then fine, I'll take it.  Those are hardly tragedies.  In fact it's been a year of grand adventure (as all years should be.)  Look, there have been plenty of rough patches in 2013. But it's hard to complain when life hands so you much joy.

This was the year I:

Went to New York with my sisters
Met Neil Gaiman
Became a godmother
Learned to not hate exercise
Went to a play-off game for the Dodgers
Sang "My Favorite Things" with Julie Andrews
Talked to Mock Turtleneck Guy
Found the Best Ice Cream in the Los Angeles
Did two days at the tennis tournament instead of just one
Met an astronaut
Memorized the order of the presidents
Parasailed
Discovered Prancercising
Survived my first year of early morning seminary and started a new one
Went to the circus for the first time
Saw New Kids on the Block from the luxury suite
Drove up the central coast with a bunch of wild teenagers
Made chocolate covered bacon
Went to the temple more
Went to lots of sing alongs
Read a lot of books
Had lots of Art Society meetings
Ditto that for book club
Laughed a lot with friends and family

See, it's been great.  Even if only half of these things happened I'd still consider it a success because there's so much to love about life (okay, truthfully, all I really needed was Prancercising.)  And I'm grateful that you come around here from time to time and share in the joy. It's an honor to have you be a part of it.  Here's to a new year full of wonder. And Slurpees.

Friday, December 27, 2013

It's been a week of Christmas

Since last we spoke there was:

1.  Julie Andrews.  Here are a few adjectives that were used on the drive home:  regal, charming, elegant, gracious, wonderful.  She is just so classy and beautiful.  She walked out as we were singing My Favorite Things and that may seem a little contrived but I'm telling you, it was one of the most magical moments of my life.  She is officially my model for elegant living and I'm wondering how many silk dressing gowns she owns so I can match it.  She must have a dozen.

2.  The Knecht Family Christmas Party, wherein we had a hootenanny complete with 2 guitars, a ukulele, a violin, an autoharp, and a bongo. There was also a ton of laughing.

3.  A surprise trip to Disneyland with Denise and her boys.  You just can't beat that. Especially when Drake yelled "Blast-off!" the entire time we were on the rockets.


















4.  Christmas Eve brunch buffet at the Avocado House.  Caramel syrup for everyone!

5.  Christmas Day lounge-fest.  We don't leave the house.  We stay in our jim jams all day and we nap and eat and do puzzles.  It's the best.

6.  Santa Monica pier, LA Temple lights, and gelato with the fam.  White Christmases are for the birds.  It has been stunningly beautiful around these parts and 70 degrees is the perfect weather for December.















And finally,

7.  Lots of Addie time.  I cannot adequately express to you how cute this kid is. Oh, sure, you've seen pictures, but they don't do her any justice.  She has the most adorable personality and we would all spend hours just watching her babble to herself.  And now she's gone and we're in the depths of despair.  COME BACK TO US ADELAIDE!



















Aside from the leaving bit, it was a perfect week of Christmas-ing.  How was yours?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I'll tell you about Julie Andrews and the Knecht Family Party hootenanny and the impromptu trip to Disneyland later. But right now I just want to say that I hope your Christmas is merry and bright and that the Spirit of Christ fills your homes and your hearts.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Hills Are Alive!

I didn't have much of a voice when I had bronchitis.  This is not a surprise.  But even after my voice came back I still couldn't sing.  Oh, I would try.  I would turn on the radio and clear my throat but nothing more than a wobbly croak ever came out.  This was a big bummer because I love singing at Christmastime.  And I missed a choir performance, which may not have ever happened before.  It was strange sitting with the congregation while the choir sang. This was also a problem in seminary because we always start with a song and there are only 2 girls who sing with me.  The other 15 kids just sit there.  Some of them mouth the words but it's mostly just me singing to them.  It's as weird as it sounds but I refuse to give up the song.

But my voice came back.  I'm able to sing, and just in time because it's a big singing weekend.  We have a choir number on Sunday and I'm singing in a trio.  But here's the really big reason why:

I'm going to a Christmas sing along and Julie Andrews is going to be there.

DID YOU JUST READ THAT RIGHT!?!?!?  Did I just type "sing along" and "Julie Andrews" in the same sentence?  I DID!!!!!   Literally two of my all-time favorite things are coming together. I've known about this since the spring and we purchased the tickets a while ago and yet I just can't think about it too much because my heart might explode. Or worse, my thinking about it jinxes the whole thing and it doesn't happen.  No, this is happening! At 11:30 am on Saturday I will be in the Disney Concert Hall and Julie Andrews will be on stage and we will be singing Christmas songs together.  And around that time you will feel a warmth in your heart, an inexplicable sense of gladness and good cheer.  And you'll go to your window and look to the west and you'll see a glow on the horizon.  That will be my joy.  It will not be contained. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

An Elegant Hand

At my ward's Relief Society Christmas party we all wrote letters to the missionaries and as I looked over the table I realized that I very rarely see anyone's handwriting these days.  How often do you get a handwritten note?  Not often.  It's all type, type, type.  It struck me how closely a person's penmanship matches their personality.

And then I had a flashback to the day when I applied for a job and the woman doing the interview looked at my handwriting and said, "That's almost identical to mine." And she pulled out a piece of paper and started writing and she was not kidding.  We were writing twins.  Very spooky. I got the job and we ended up being eerily similar in many ways.

And then again, I just finished up reading Rebecca where the New Mrs. de Winter keeps talking about how sharp and decisive Rebecca's handwriting was.  She's haunted by it because she has such weak handwriting and how can Maxim ever love her and her inelegant hand?  How, indeed!  And it struck me that for however long people have been writing they have been commenting on it.  And someday in the near future that won't happen anymore.

Then today I read an article about how important it is to still teach cursive in school. A lot of places have taken it right out of their curriculum.  I'm not as broken up about it as you might imagine.  The article was a little preachy and the gist of it was that it boosts kids' self esteem to master script. Hogwash, I say.  If anything learning cursive gave me anxiety.  I could never get the letters to look how they were supposed to look when I always could in printing.  And if I based my self worth on how nice my T's looked then that would be a sad thing indeed. But naturally, it made me want to dust off the old cursive:


Isn't it strange how we all learned cursive and we still break through and write how we want.  I mean, I really applied myself to it.  I did all those worksheets as a kid and still my writing has evolved to look nothing like how I was taught. Oh, how I agonized over those Ts.  And also the lowercase r.  I could never get that second corner.

But it is a little sad that kids today are missing out on the joy of writing the cursive Z.  I still use it because it's just so satisfying.  When I wrote out Zarahemla (a place in the Book of Mormon) on the board in class the other day, the kids did not know what it was.


This is just a really long way of saying, "Handwriting.  Am I right?"

Friday, December 13, 2013

Disney Day

The Fam went to Disneyland on Wednesday thanks to our pals Casey & Clancy.  And it was great.  Hooray for family fun. I mentioned last year when Casey got us in that I've been ruined forever from doing it any other way.  And I stick to it.  Free is better.  And even though it's a legitimate bummer that my mom has a bad ankle, there is no denying that the back door policy for wheel chair riders is fantastic.

While slowly making our way up Main Street we overheard a conversation:

Old Guy:  Hey, did you hear about the actress who stabbed her husband today?  It's all over the news.
Youger Woman:  No. That's awful.  Who was it?
OG: Um, I can't remember her name.  Reese, maybe?
YW:  Reese Witherspoon?
OG:  No, not with her spoon.  With her knife.

So it's corny but his delivery was perfect.

And then later that night, while in line at the Haunted Mansion we hear: "Hey, did you hear about the actress who stabbed her husband?"

Same Old Guy!  He is getting a lot of mileage off of that joke.


Monday, December 9, 2013

The footwear of choice for communist regimes


Any ideas as to why these North Korean soldiers are patrolling in heals.  I mean, they have tread which will help them chase their fleeing countrymen across the ice but that's where the practicality ends. Also, is Number Two wearing sensible pumps with blue socks?  Yes. North Korea is a glorious mystery. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Soup and sympathy

Do you want to know the most strenuous thing I did today? I lifted 6 pizzas. But the rest of the day consisted mainly of sitting and talking, so a normal full day.  And still I came home completely wiped out. Which is to say that I'm back among the living, just not 100%. And that's ok. I'll take what I can get.

I took off Monday and Tuesday and made it 4 whole hours on Wednesday, which felt like an enormous accomplishment. And I don't have the death rattle any more. I think we caught the shingles early enough to not be so miserable as I remember. And I can stand for longer than 5 minutes. Progress.

But what I really want to say is that I'm surrounded by the nicest people on the planet. My refrigerator full of soup can attest to it. People dropped by with food and sympathy, and countless more offered. My seminary class was taken care of (like early morning seminary is the easiest thing to sub for on a few hours notice.) And everyone has been so helpful and wonderful. I have felt very taken care of. So thanks. If any of you want letters of recommendations as a friend I'll write you a glowing one.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The doctor hiatus has ended

On Thanksgiving I watched the parade, made rolls twice (the first time was a bust, round two was a success), ate a lot, hung out with the fam, and ended the day in bed with a horrible cough and a rash across my stomach. Then I slept all day Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday. Every other time this would do the trick.  But last night I still had the death rattle and the rash was not getting any better and I was exhausted.  I mean, seriously so tired. Taking a shower yesterday wiped me out so much that I slept for 4 hours and then, upon waking up, found that I couldn't move my arms because I was still so tired.

Which was how I ended up at the doctors this morning.  "Sure, Rachel.  Of course you were at the doctors.  This is what normal people do."  Except that I haven't been to a doctor in about 6 years.  Mostly because I didn't have insurance for a lot of those years but also because I never think I'm sick enough to see a doctor.

I'm going to suggest to my doctor that he starts creating categories for patients based on their level of tolerance.  Because you know there are people out there who go in for a runny nose. They get one little paper cut and they're off to the doctor. And then there are people like me who only go in if limbs are starting to fall off.  I want to have a sticker on my chart that says, "She's not kidding.  She's really suffering.  Desperation drove her here. Please just give her drugs and let her go home."

Because when the doctor said to me, "I'm not going to give you anything for the bronchitis but if you get to the point of extreme exhaustion and you have to drag yourself out of bed to do anything then give me a call," I wanted to yell, "I'M THERE!  I'VE BEEN THERE FOR DAYS NOW!  WHY DO YOU THINK I'M HERE!!! AND LOOKING LIKE A HOBO!!!  I DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH ENERGY TO PUT ON MASCARA!!! I HAD EXACTLY ENOUGH ENERGY TO PUT ON A BRA AND BRUSH MY TEETH AND DRIVE MYSELF HERE!!!!!" Except that I was too exhausted to scream and simply said, "Give me the drugs." Which he did.  A lot of them (I had to make a spreadsheet of when to take each one.) Because on top of acute bronchitis I also have shingles.  And they're fighting against each other for my attention which is why I'm getting worse and why I'm so tired.

So I got a lot of drugs, and while I was at it I also got a flu shot and a DTAP vaccination, because why not.  And then he noticed that I was due for a pap smear and suggested I could have that done today and then I punched him in the face. No. Not really.  Remember I can barely lift my arms. Which was just his dumb luck.

If you need me, I'll be in my bed.

PS. This is my second time around with shingles.  I'm not looking forward to the next few weeks.

PS2. One of my antibiotics doesn't work if I have any dairy, which is seriously cutting into my Season of Eggnog.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Favorite Sing-Along

One of my favorite holiday traditions is going to the Messiah sing-along at the Nixon Library.  It's put on by the Yorba Linda Art Alliance (not as cool as an art society.) and there's an orchestra, a full choir, and lots of people dressed up in period costumes.  Any period.  There were all sorts of old-timey clothes. Women in bustles and corsets.  Men in tri-corner hats and ruffly cravats.  Ugh, it's the best. And it's held in the full-size replica of the White House East Room.  It has this portrait of George Washington:


His expression kills me.  It's like he's saying, "Well, here you go. This is the best we could do." And then he shrugged right after. Maybe it's his teeth that are making his face like that.  He had horrible teeth.

I am happy to report that I didn't lose it as much as I normally do when we sang the Hallelujah chorus.  I mean, I still cried - I'm not a robot!- but I didn't blubber.  I managed to get all the notes out.  It helped that I was sitting next to Gina who was cracking me up.  Before we started she said, "Just so you know, I like to sing all the parts." And she did, including the really high ones which made me giggle every time.

Other things that made me laugh:  1.) when the conductor said, "This is a informal setting so feel free to express yourself," and all of us said, "Does he mean interpretive dance?" 2.) the woman who stopped my dad after the performance and said, "You have such a rich tenor voice," and he said, "No one's every said that about me before," and she said, "So you're not the soloist who just sang?" 3.) the twin sisters, both dressed in bustled frocks with feathers in their hair, who looked exactly like the evil stepsisters in Cinderella.  I wanted them to bust out into Sing Sweet Nightingale.

Along with being entertaining it is also a really beautiful experience to sing those songs. You know how much of a sucker I am for a sing-along.  This may be my favorite one.




Thursday, November 21, 2013

Warm Gelatinous Ham Fat

Several years ago my family determined that the nastiest phrase in English is "moist giblet loaf".  I think it speaks for itself.

But how about this one:  "warm gelatinous ham fat."

I chose ham for our Institute Thanksgiving feast simply because I did not want to have to deal with the turkey neck and innards.  I did that last year and I think I'm set for life.  So I got a bunch of hams.  They were pre-cooked and spiral cut and I thought, swell, this will be a cinch.  And it was.  Up until the time I had to carve it off the bone.

And that's when I started gagging.  Look, I fully admit that I'm a wimp when it comes to meat.  I like it but I want it to come in a hamburger patty, or a well trimmed steak, or a breast of chicken.  I don't care for it on the bone or dripping in grease and fat.  Cartilage and tendons and gristle gross me out.  And that slimy, gelatinous fat sends me over the edge.  So I just wasn't prepared for how much of all of that would be on this ham.

It was really the sound that got me.  You know how I am about sounds.  I have sensitive ears.  It was that sound of the fat slicing apart.  Like a plunger in a vat of jello.

And I'm gagging again.

Next year:  vegetarian!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Knodd

We held the semiannual Knecht  and Todd Sister Lunch and Funfest on Saturday.  Or, as we like to call it, the Knodd.





We laughed.  We ate.  Hayley offered to catheterize us if we ever needed it.

The food was mediocre (pro-tip to the good people of Riverside:  you can pass on Bucket List Burgers.  Just go to In-n-Out.) but the company was grand.

I missed the last Knodd because I was having the Worst Dental Experience of My Life.  I didn't write about it then because I was really and truly traumatized from it.  I'll just tell you that it was 4 hours of drilling.  And scraping.  And not swallowing because I had one of those rubber dams on my mouth.  You cannot believe the amount of spit that dribbled out of my mouth that morning.  So I missed lunch and ended up spending the rest of the day weeping in a fetal position and wondering if I could get away with taking 4 Advil every hour.

So, needless to say, this Knodd was wonderful.  

Next one in New York, right girls?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Maybe it was the fish oil

Remember the Great Hair Loss of 2013? After that post it got even worse.  For months and months I would pull huge clumps of hair out every time I showered or brushed it.  And my hair got thinner and thinner.  I was getting bald spots.  Oh, it was dreadful. Oh, the tears that were shed. I was afraid I was going to have to buzz it all off and start fresh.  But then wo to whoever had to look at me because I'm not 100% sure about my head shape.  I have corners.  Like, legitimate corners.

And I tried everything.  Any suggestion people made I would do.  I took fish oil pills, I took prenatal vitamins, I rubbed coconut oil all over my head, I added more fat to my diet, I massaged my scalp every night, I washed it less, I washed it more.  I did everything short of sacrificing squirrels under a harvest moon, and still it fell out. I had luminous skin but no hair.

And then suddenly...HAIR!

Seemingly overnight I went from losing fistfuls of it to sprouting it like a Chia Pet.  I have regrowth upon regrowth.  Little wisps of hair are shooting out at all angles. My head looks like one of those Tesla balls. And I love it.  Never have I cared less about fly-aways, because it means that my hair is back.

The downside is more cowlicks.  My scalp is a swirling mess of them.  But at least they're covering up the corners.  I'm not kidding!  They're there!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Space Man

Dear Col. Chris Hadfield,

I promise I wasn't following you.  I mean, it seemed like I was.  But really, you just happened to be at the top of the escalator when we got up there.  And then you just happened to walk down the same corridor that the bathrooms were at.  I just had to pee, okay.  I'm not a stalker.

Love, Rachel.

So we went to see Canadian mustachioed astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield.  He wrote a book about his experience of being an astronaut and was doing a signing in LA so Camille and I, being big fans of outer space, headed out for an adventure. I made the decision as he was speaking that I need to be his best friend so I can follow him around and he can tell me space stories all day long. 

Best parts:

1.  All the space nerds.  There were people dressed up in flight suits, you guys.  Oh, I love folks who go all out.  And it was a very thoughtful crowd.  Both considerate and kind.  And when he opened it up to questions there wasn't a dumb question among them ("So, um, what's space like?") 

2.  All the kids.  None of them are going to read his book anytime soon, but all of them have seen his awesome videos he did from space and were stoked to meet him. There was one kid who, after he shook Col. Hadfield's hand, jumped off the podium and did a fist pump.  He just met his hero!  Can you imagine being 10 and meeting your hero?  Epic.

3.  He was so poised and impressive.  Someone asked what's the best advice he could give on becoming an astronaut and he said, among other things, that you have to be the type of person NASA wants as an astronaut.  Someone smart and personable and capable.  It was obvious why NASA chose him.

4.  He started with a story of his first space walk.  You start out in an air lock and it's all cramped and hot.  And then the door opens and you're out in the universe and little meteors are pelting you. And the whole time he was speaking all I could think of was, "GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!! SPACE!!!!!!!!!"

5. The last question, asked by a girl in a flight suit, was, "How did your time on the ISS change you're perspective of the world." And he said some of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.  About how in the first week up there you're looking for places you've been.  And then the week after that you're looking at how everything fits together.  And then after that you simply let the earth reveal itself to you. Which is totally what an explorer is supposed to do, right?  They leave the familiar to find new things. I'm not going to lie, I welled up a bit when he was talking.

Camille and the book, which is fascinating so far.  You guys, it's a tough road to space. 

Contrary to how it looks, this was not a lounge act. 


Blurry - but whatever.  We met an astronaut!  



Monday, November 11, 2013

There was something in the air that night

I was watching Baby Rebecca on Saturday night.  She is one and adorable and we had a load of fun coloring and spinning and reading books.  And then it was time to put her to bed and she revolted.  She was not having any of that bed business, no ma'am.  As soon as I turned the noise machine on and grabbed her bottle she started crying.  So I snuggled her and started to sing.  And sing.  And sing.  She would stop crying during the song and as soon as it would end she started up again.  Laura said she does this to her sometimes too so it's not like I have a magical voice or anything.  I made it through every primary song I could think of and then moved on to some hymns and then, for a different approach, I started in on Abba.  First it was Take a Chance on Me.  And then Dancing Queen.  And I finished up with Fernando.  And when I was done with that she only gave a little whimper so I put her in her crib and she went right to sleep.

Lesson learned:  always start with Abba.

Monday, November 4, 2013

And the piccolo, the piccolo


There's something about a marching band, right?  I know you agree with me which is why I'm certain that you won't find it weird the my family goes to this high school band competition every year.  Some people find it weird, but you don't.

Chino High puts it on every November and it's a joy to sit outside on a lovely autumn day and watch high school kids play clarinets and such.  I mean, they're just so awkward.  And they're band kids, which is like another level of awkward.  But also fun.  There is no denying that band kids know how to have fun.


I was never a band kid.  I was a drama kid, which is awkward + annoying.  But they're all part of the same family of nerds.  So I get it.  

We sit right by the Rose Parade judges so that we can get the best view.  The flag girls usually line up right in front of us so we have the opportunity to cheer them on and tell them that the sparkle in their hair looks amazing.  This is also how we got our family motto - hands on hips, smiles on lips - when many years ago we overheard one of the coaches say this to the girls.

We saw a few band romances unfolding as groups would finish up and walk down the street to see the competition.  There was a couple holding hands and then as soon as a group of their friends walked by the boy dropped the girls hand and stood away from her.  Painful! 

During intermission Lindsay and I strolled around campus.  We both commented on how much smaller it seemed.  It's not like I've grown since high school.  I guess I've just seen bigger things.  We pointed out where we took biology and English.  The room where we both took German is gone. Every morning for the first year Herr Baker would say commands to us to see if we could figure them out.  They are basically the only German I remember.  Drehen sie um!  Sitzen sie sich!  Stehen sie auf!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Since I sounded like such a crank in my post about Halloween I thought I would share things that I like about it this year:

1.  More Oingo Boingo songs on the radio,

2.  Edie's costume,

3.  Really, any kid in a costume,

4.  My seminary kid who would never intentionally talk to me suddenly telling me this morning about how gross the games were at last night's youth Halloween party.  There were live worms and other insects involved and truthfully, I was getting the heebs.  But I will take what I can get with some of these kids.

5.  This picture of the dumpling assembly party we had at the Institute today:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Can't get enough of that Bubba Bo Bob Brain

1.  I was taking my friend's daughter around at our ward's trunk or treat party.  "Let's run!" she said.  So we did.  From car to car we would trot or skip or run.  This is why we keep kids around.  It's more fun with them.  Can you imagine hanging out with your boring old grown up friends and one of them saying, "Let's run!"  You can't.

2.  No one had a York Peppermint Patty at the trunk or treat.  This was a blow.

3.  For the whole of last week "Walk on the Wild Side" was stuck in my head.  I would wake up singing do do-do do-do do do-do. And then Lou Reed died. I don't know how well this bodes for Katy Perry because that song "Roar" won't leave my brain.

4.  Apparently today is National Cat Day.  How do I know this?  Because half the people on Facebook mentioned it.  And every radio station I turned to brought it up.  Is this a thing?  Because if it really is let me just remind you that cats claw around in their own poo and then walk all over you and your kitchen counters.

5.  On Sunday night my sisters and I spontaneously burst into this song:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A plan to be brave

I just found out that my astronaut hero, mustachioed Canadian and former commander of the International Space Station Chris Hadfield, will be speaking and signing books on November 11 at the Grove.  So if I go this will officially turn into the Year Of Going Against My Very Nature of Shying Away From People I Admire For Fear Of Not Having Anything to Say and Possibly Bursting Into Tears and Just Sucking It Up and Doing It Because They've Inspired Me And I Should Tell Them So.

Do you think if I'm really charming and friendly (Fat chance.  I'll be a mute.) he'll tell me the secret to stowing away on the next Russian space ship?

Step 1:  Get to Russia

When I wrote about meeting Neil Gaiman, my sister-in-law Kylea sent me this clip, which illustrates my mental state exactly in similar situations:



I have faith I'll keep it together.  Anyone want to join me?  We can get ice cream at Carmela afterwards.  It's the second best ice cream in LA and it's right across the street.  Stories of space exploration AND chocolate nib ice cream?  Yes.

Monday, October 21, 2013

We need a Halloween Intervention

Yesterday at church I was chatting with two sisters who were on a vacation from New Zealand.  In asking about their trip they told me all that they had done:  Sea World, San Diego Zoo, Legoland, Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, and Universal Studios.  All in a week! They seemed legitimately worn out and were looking forward to the second half of their vacation in Fiji.  Yes, wouldn't we all be.

(Dear friends, if you have out of town guests visiting southern California would you please let me make an itinerary for them so they don't have to spend a fortune and hours of their lives that they'll never get back schlepping around amusement parks.  I hate the idea of visitors coming here only to stand in line for rides and missing out on all the glorious things to see.)

Anyway, once we got through that part of the conversation one of the sisters mentioned a local phenomena that I've noticed myself, that being people going over the top in their Halloween decorations.  (BEGIN 80 YEAR OLD RANT) Has anyone else noticed this?  I'm not talking about just pumpkins or festive door hangings, I'm talking about cobwebs on the eaves, giant spiders on their roofs, skeletons in their yards, and, sadly, those dumb inflatable decorations that used to just be isolated to Christmas.  I really kind of hate those things.  For the record, I've never been a huge fan of Halloween.  I don't care for dressing up and I don't like spooky things.  Even as a kid I didn't really like it other than the fact that I got candy. And now that I can buy my own candy whenever I want, the last of the Halloween magic is gone for me.

Look, I'm not going to begrudge people their holiday cheer, but it just baffles me.  It never used to be like this, right?  It used to just be a jack-o-lantern on the front porch but now it seems like every other house I drive by has some elaborate spectacle going on.   Where do we draw the line?  Inflatable rodents on Groundhog's Day?  Inflatable oaks on Arbor Day?  Inflatable union reps on Labor Day?  The madness must end!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

More Chocolate Thingies

I found the video I was telling you about.  I lost it when he said, "pickle chips."


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bartlett for President

I've been mildly struck down by the beginnings of a cold.  Or maybe it's allergies.  Or maybe it's my sinuses.  It's hard to tell at this stage of the game. Whatever, I feel cruddy, okay. So I came home from work, put on my jams, crawled into bed and watched the first of what would be several episodes of The West Wing.

Because that show is awesome.  I loved it when it was on and when Netflix made it available to stream I plotzed with joy.  Now if only they would stream Gilmore Girls and America's Next Top Model, my life would be complete. And Little House on the Prairie.

Back to the West Wing. Don't you just love how idealistic governing seems on that show?  All they want to do is serve the people. I mean, I hate all politicians right now.  I don't like them most days but with this whole shutdown business, and the fact that it has hijacked NPR which means I can't listen to it without wanting to spit, well, I think they're all criminals and should be marched out onto the streets of Washington so we can throw rotten fruit at them and say mean things about their hair cuts.

Oh blast, I got off topic again.  The West Wing -- It's awesome. (Sorry, the Nyquil has set in.  I'm not so lucid.)(Also, I had to look up how to spell Nyquil.  And I object.  My whole life I've thought it was Nite-quil. I should be, right?)

Monday, October 14, 2013

It was a Sunday Miracle

I was going to link to a video here that had me ROLLING all weekend only to discover today that it has been removed from YouTube.  Which is a crying shame because it was so funny that in the temple on Friday night I remember it and started giggling.

Oh, like you've never thought of something funny in the temple and had to muffle hysterical laughter.

Along with the temple we went to Cafe Rio and then back to Allie's house for a soak in the hot tub. Should every night be like this? Yes. 

Also, can we just acknowledge how amazing my bangs look in this picture?




















We were about to start a game of Ticket to Ride last night when Camille shouted out, "Don't move! You're bangs are perfect!" And then I made her take this picture for posterity, and also so I could see for myself, because never in my life have my bangs been perfect. Never! You know how they plague my very soul. My posture is lacking but oh, those bangs.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Triumphal Return of IWP

It was cold and rainy yesterday (Welcome back Inclement Weather Paralysis!).  It was the first cold and rainy day we've had since last winter. If you're not from around here, let me give you an idea of what happens:  It starts to rain.  People walk to the doors and windows to watch and comment on how it is raining.  And then other people come in and say, "It's really raining outside and it's cold." And they stand by the window and talk some more about it.  They are usually either dressed in very large, heavy coats and hats or in shorts and flip flops. This is because we don't know what to do when it's cold and rainy.  Those in coats have probably had that coat for months or years and only get to wear it just a few times each season so any opportunity to wear it has to be taken advantage of.  Also, we think we're going to die if it dips below 70.  And those in flip flops forget that there is bad weather from time to time and when you wear flip flops every day for months on end you can't bring yourself to not wear them. No one has an umbrella because no one can remember where they put it after they used it back in April.

In case you think I'm judging, I'll tell you that I'm right along with them.  I comment on how wet and cold it is just like everyone else. I walked out of my house with just a light sweater even though I knew it was supposed to rain. I happened to luck out by having an umbrella in my trunk.  I find it kind of adorable how dopey we are about it.

But I love rainy days because IWP means that I have a valid excuse to come home and put on my jimjams and make soup.  Which I did.

PS.  Happy birthday to my brother Sam.  He is the funniest person I know.  And he makes really great cream puffs and knows a lot about everything. He's a great brother.  And he has cute kids.








Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Post Season

We scored tickets to the Dodgers/Braves playoff game last night and boy was it a doozie.  I'm pretty sure I had multiple heart attacks during many innings.  Particularly the 8th.  But we won. EEEEEEE!!!!!  And the place was bananas.  I mean, a) I've never seen that many people at Dodger Stadium before and b) I've never seen that many people at Dodger Stadium in the 9th inning before and c) holy cats, that was an exciting game and the crowd was eating it up.  We were all dialed up to 10 the whole night.  And every hit got a round of high fives from all the neighbors. 
 
Anyway, this was my view:
 
 
He was one of four mop-headed youths who sat in front of us. It was worse when we all stood but it provided some comedy. I managed to peak through the locks.
 
 
Is this place heaven or what?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Autumnal Decor

What are your thoughts on decorating graves?  Like for holidays and stuff? I think flowers are nice.  I don't go for much more but I also can't judge how someone else honors the dead. If you want to put a teddy bear picnic around a headstone (which I have seen) then go for it.

I drive by a cemetery every morning on my way to work.  A big one on a hill.  So I see a lot of grave side decorations.  There are always a few baskets with stuffed animals at Easter, and the occasional mini tree at Christmas.  But for the most part it's just flowers.

Well, this morning I was stuck in traffic so I had a long, slow view of the hill, and as I approached the top I noticed a man standing over a grave.  He was very still.  And his arms were stretched out.  And there was straw coming out of his sleeves.

Yep.  It was a scarecrow.  Someone decorated their dearly departed's grave with a scarecrow.  You know, for fall.

Side note:  wouldn't it be fascinating to talk to the guy who has to go around picking this stuff up?  I mean, old flowers are one thing, but a scarecrow?  Actually, I think anyone who works in the death and burial business in fascinating.  How does one end up becoming a coroner?  Or a funeral director?  I should research this.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Personal Sauna

The answer to yesterday's quiz, because you'll never get it.  It's an impossible quiz.  I'm like that really horrible teacher you hated in high school.
 
L = Lou = Dad (an old high school nick name)
B = B = Lindsay (we don't remember why)
M = McNelch = Camille (someone once called her this and said, "See what I did there?  I put a Mc in front of your last name." "My last name is Knecht" "Oh, I thought it was pronounced Nelch.")(for those who don't know, it sounds like connect. Like connect-the-dots, which all of us have been called many, many, many times before.)
H = Hubert = Me (who knows? Not any of us. Only my dad calls me this and he can't remember.)
 
******************
 
I had a very LA day on Friday. It included the LA County Fair, a Dodger game, and 2.5 hours of traffic in between. 1.75 of those hours were spent on a 3 mile stretch leading into the stadium.  We finally made it to our seats by the bottom of the 5th.  The score was already 10-0. Go Dodgers!
 
At the fair Lindsay and I tried out a revolutionary new device.  The Personal Sauna:
 
 
I wish I had a picture of the inside because what it actually looks like is a Personal Outhouse, complete with a little hole in the seat.  It's for the steam to come out but you don't know that when you're first looking at it.  Naturally, we had to try it out.  And that baby heats up!  A lot.  But according to the picture behind Lindsay you can still work on your spreadsheets while your southern region is melting away.  And it can be yours for the low, low price of $1800.  Or just $80 a month.  They'll even deliver it to you and set it up wherever you want it. Bargain.
 
Also, I'm pretty sure we saw Gene Simmons.  Or someone who looked freakishly like him, which I imagine is not easy to do.  I mean, even without the Kiss make-up, Gene Simmons looks very distinct. When this guy passed by both Lindsay and I looked at each other and said, "Is that...?" Because holy twins! And this was before the sauna melt down so our brains were still pretty alert.
 
And guess what's back:
 
 
The Big Formerly Yellow Now Blue Slide!!!! It hasn't been at the fair for a couple of years but now it's built into the hill as a permanent fixture.  It's not as fast, which means you don't catch air and tumble off your burlap sack and smash into the slide and get plastic burns down your arms like you used to in the Golden Years, but it's still a whole lot of fun. Hip hip hooray!
 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Quiz

A quick quiz:

Me, Dad, Camille, & Lindsay were playing a game tonight.  On the score sheet were our four initials:  L, B, M, & H.  Can you match the initial to the person?  The first person to correctly do so will win a very, very short hand-written work of fiction by me featuring a zebra and an anteater.  Family members are excluded from playing. Oh, and my dad's name is Scott, so...that helps.

In other news, I was in Walmart this last week (it had to be done.) when I overheard the following:

"Mama's gonna get her some Duck Dynasty panties."

Have a great day everyone.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Silent R

This morning on my drive in to work I listened to some people on the radio talk about how sometimes girls just start to cry for no apparent reason (which naturally interested me, because Hi!) and the men on the show were saying how they just don't get it and this woman on the show said, "Sometimes we just get really fustrated and have to release some emotion."

Fustrated.

And then she said it again.

And then a third time.

A woman who gets paid to talk on the radio, in English, said fustrated three times. I assume she thinks the R is silent.  Like all those other words with silent Rs.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Roycefest

I headed out to Phoenix this weekend for Roycefest 2013. Royce is Cynde and Ryan's (bff and bffhusband) son, and my godson.  Yes, I'm a godmother. Not the fairy kind.  And if you can believe it, I did not make a single Cinderella reference the entire weekend.  Nor did I reference the mob once to his godfather.  That, my friend, is maturity.  Or maybe I was just off my game.

Back to Roycefest.  It was his first birthday party and baptism this weekend so I went out to celebrate.  My rule for attending 1st birthday parties is that I have to actually know and love and pretty much be related to the child to go.  Otherwise I don't see much of a point.  What does the kid know except there are a heck of a lot more people making faces at him and there's lots of trash to play with.  But Royce meets all the criteria and there's something sweet about inviting your friends over to celebrate one year of survival.  "He didn't die on our watch! Let's eat cake!" The funny thing about this particular child birthday party is that Cynde and Ryan know about 3 people who have children so it was mostly a bunch of oldies hanging out in the back yard.  But I really like their friends (this is no surprise.  Who don't I like?  Besides Hitler. And my old upstairs neighbors.) And it was a lot of fun and Royce was super cute with his cupcake and it all felt like a lovely thing to celebrate.

The baptism was great. Gosh, I love going to other churches. Cynde and Ryan's is teeny but super friendly and warm.  Every single person said hello.  And all I had to do for the actual baptism part was stand there and be happy.  Easy.

I really have no idea what it means to be a godparent. It's not part of my religious tradition and every time I ask people they usually say, "I think it means you get him if his parents die."  Eek! Why are you talking about them dying?  And what exactly are my qualifications?  That I can keep a house plant alive? But I love the kid.  And I promise to give him hugs and I take him on awesome adventures.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Like a thief in the night.

Oh give me a break!

For the second time this year my bank card number has been stolen.  Blerg.

I caught it in time for them to reverse it but not in time for multiple overdraft charges to go through because they wiped out my account and kept on spending.  Those will also be reversed but not for 10 days.  And my card had to be canceled which will be super convenient when I travel to Phoenix tomorrow for the weekend.  Hey, who wants to mug me in the airport?  I'll have a lot of cash on me.

On a positive note, everyone I talked to at the bank was super helpful and sympathetic and quick to respond, which made me feel better.  And I do feel very blessed that I discovered it today and not, say, tomorrow at the airport when my card is denied while trying to buy water.

Dear Criminal,

I hope that whatever you bought at Brookstone is a dud and blows a fuse at your home.  And I hope that whatever you got at McDonald's gave you food poisoning.  You belong in prison.

Love, Rachel

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sunday Night Hoot

Long story short, Katie and I have two autoharps at our place.(There are so many amazing autoharp videos on YouTube. I couldn't choose!  So here's a long haired hippie.  And here's a real comedy duo.  And here's Dolly. Enjoy!) One was my Grandma Crenshaw's that I have since inherited and one belongs to K's co-worker.  We had a mini hootenanny the other night with her on the autoharp and me on the ukulele, which also belonged to Grandma C.  Neither of us are proficient by any means. But we had a lot of fun doing it.  So we took the show on the road and brought it all down to my parent's house for Sunday dinner.

Camille took one autoharp and Mom took another and I had the ukulele and Dad brought out his guitar and Katie shouted out chords to us and it was basically a ton of fun. And then Mom brought out her old guitar music from when she took lessons in the 60s and then it really turned into a peace rally.  Maybe the cutest part of the night was when my dad was trying to figure out the chords and my mom would help him by showing him how the fingers looked, just like Phoebe does with Joey on Friends.

There are many reasons why I love my family, but this is high up on the list -- when you say, "Hey, let's do this super funny and nerdy thing, like have a hootenanny on crazy instruments" they all shout, "Yes!"

 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Boogie Wonderland

Camille, Allie, Katie, and I went to the Hollywood Bowl on Friday night to see Earth Wind and Fire.  None of us are actual EW&F super fans by any means but their songs are fun and really, we were just looking for an excuse to go to the Bowl.  Because it wouldn't be summer without a trip to the Hollywood Bowl.  Oh, I just love that place.  There is magic in the air.

Also in the air:  pot.  They should mention that included in your ticket price is a contact high.  That was the mellowest crowd I've ever seen.  And it meant that when lasers started shooting off from the stage there was plenty of haze in the air to make for a really dynamite show.  And anyone who wasn't baked was pretty drunk so the walk down the hill was kind of hilarious.  You should all be so lucky to live to see wasted and/or buzzed middle-agers walking down the hill of the Hollywood Bowl in not-so-sensible shoes. Comedy gold!

Maybe the best part of the night was our pre-show trip to our  new favorite ice cream place, Neveux, to say hi to Leo and pick up some peach pepper. Still so good!!! 

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Council of Elvira

So the early Catholic church held something called the Council of Elvira back in 304 AD.

Naturally, I imagined the Oakridge Boys performing after the priests finished up their breakaway sessions.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Flat

I got a flat tire on my drive to work today. I probably should have gotten a new tire months ago because the poor thing just kind of fell apart.  I feel very lucky to not have had a blow-out and that I was near my exit and that when I sent a text to my boss to tell him about it he sent back, "I'm on my way."

This was my first flat tire.  Can you believe it?  Charmed life.  In theory I know how to change a tire.  But in practice it was a little hard.  While I was waiting for help to arrive I got out the spare, found all the tools (the jack was in a SUPER SECRET COMPARTMENT that took me forever to find.  Why the mystery, Toyota?), loosened the lug nuts (also, face planted into my car while loosening them because first it was stuck and then it really wasn't and now I have a fat(ter) lip and a scratch on my nose.) So I feel like I was chugging along until I got stumped by the jack.  I'd like to think that I would have figured it out but in all honesty I probably would have been still sitting in that parking lot wondering how to get the dumb thing to work.

But helped arrived, the spare was put on (flat.  Ugh.) and I made it down to the tire store in one piece.  Hooray!

True story, my entire seminary lesson this morning was on having a positive attitude when we have to do hard things. You would not believe how cheery I was to Mohammad, my new tire guy, as I handed over my money. I was the Blue Bird of Happiness with that debit card.

Another true story, I just got a text from Katie saying that she too had a flat today.  Sisters, am I right?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Upstairs,

Welcome to the Hub!  You're going to find living here to be a joy.  The view of the mountains is lovely, right.  You just missed Flo.  You may have met her when you were first coming in.  Did she double book your apartment?  She did that from time to time.  I'm so bummed for you that you didn't get the full Las Brisas experience with her.

You're so quiet.  I can't even hear you walking.  The kid who used to live upstairs must have been wearing cement boots because I could hear his every move.  Speaking of him, I wanted to let you know of our expectations as your downstairs neighbors.  I think they're all pretty reasonable but your predecessor had a hard time with them.  So just so we're clear:

1.  Don't dump your bong water out of a hole you cut in your bedroom screen.
2.  Don't listen to really loud rap that is full of swears on Sunday morning (or any morning, really.)
3.  Don't invite 30 of your hoodlum friends over for a night swim and then hours and hours of reggae in your room while smoking pot.
4.  Don't take that unmarked parking space next to our assigned space. It belongs to us in a common law sort of way (the Kid never did this but others have and it's just wrong on a moral level.)
5.  Don't get into a fight with your girlfriend.  We don't need to know all about how you cheated on her.
6.  When you move out, don't do it in the middle of the night.  Dresser drawers falling down the stairs usually wake people up.

You've been great so far.  Keep up the good work!

Hugs and Kisses,
Rachel

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Great LA Ice Cream Quest

Many said it could not be done.  They doubted that we had the fortitude to complete such a quest.  And yet, here we stand triumphant, holding in our hearts the sweet thrill of having found the Best Ice Cream in Los Angeles.

So, maybe not everyone would think to go on such a quest, but Katie, Camille and I did.  Ok, let's be honest, are you even surprised by this?  Of course you're not.  Who loves ice cream more than a Knecht? We were working off of this list and made it to five of them. By the end of it we felt like we had won something.

There were many, many things to love about this adventure.  Firstly, ice cream.  We decided that we wanted to find really unique flavors, and we did.  We sampled as much as we could and then split a small of our favorites.  Secondly, ice cream makers.  People who make their own ice cream are passionate about it and are interesting to talk to.  Thirdly, when people find out that you are on a quest they cheer you on.  Everyone was so supportive. Fourthly, Los Angeles.  If you ever get tired of me talking about how much I love LA you can just go ahead and find some other mildly humorous blog to read because I'm just not going to stop.  We saw a lot of it on this quest and it's all wonderful.  And I'll say this until I die, palm trees make everything beautiful.

Here are the five we made it to (in the order that we went, not the order that we loved.)

1.  Bulgarini in Culver City. There's a funny story for another date about this location, but needless to say it's a charming area with a few shops.  And there's a Father's Office nearby, which serves The Best Hamburger I've Ever Had In My Entire Life. Our guy Oscar helped us out.  What a cute kid.  He heard about our quest and then immediately started giving us samples, we never had to ask for one.  And he would sample them with us.  We settled on the stracciatella and the Gorgonzola (if we could get two flavors in a small we always did.) The Gorgonzola was, as you would expect, a little weird, but strangely tasty.  I also sampled their chocolate orange, and it must be said, it was better than Burt and Rocky's.  On our way out Oscar informed us that they just brought out a bunch of new flavors so we sampled those as well and that's when we hit on the single best sample we had all day, their pistachio.  It was a punch to the face of flavor.  Wow!



2.  Sweet Rose in Brentwood.  Meh.  This was our least favorite.  It was tiny and cramped and crowded. And the flavors were just kind of weird.  I tried the pistachio rose geranium which tasted like a garden bed.  We got fresh mint, which tasted like you were chewing on a mint leaf.  I liked that but Camille did not.  And we also had the Melon Chiffon which was pretty good (Katie didn't like it) but not as melony as I wanted it to be. You can skip this one.

3.  Ice Cream Lab in Beverly Hills was next. This was gimmicky but kind of cool.  They put the liquid ice cream mix in a fancy Kitchen-Aid and then shoot it with liquid nitrogen.  So the texture is a little different from churned ice cream.  And the flavor of the ice cream alone wasn't outstanding.  But the toppings they put on them were great.  We had the Rodeo Road, which is just fancy rocky road.  It was fun to watch them make it.  Science!



4.  Carmela at Fairfax and 3rd is adorable and so tasty.  And the girls there were great and helpful and happily brought out more sample spoons because we were using them all up.  We had the dark chocolate with cacao nibs (sweet land of liberty!) and strawberry buttermilk.  The combo together was fantastic.  We almost named this one our number one but then decided to try one more.




5.  Neveux.  While we were in Carmela another customer heard us talking about the Quest and she said, "Well, I'm here and I love this place, but no proper ice cream quest would be complete without going to Neveux." So we went.  It's on the section of Melrose where you can pick up a new eyebrow ring, a new tattoo, and a new venereal disease, so it kind of sticks out.  But I will always be grateful to that woman in Carmela because this place was our number one.  Without question.  Their Peach Pepper (you got it right.  Peach ice cream with cracked black pepper.) could bring about world peace.  We all chose it as our favorite.  We also had the Caliente Cinnamon Chocolate which is fiery and so delicious.  Not only did it have the most flavor but the texture was by far the creamiest we had all day.  We met the owner and chef, Leo Neveux (that's him on the right down below.  And Tim on the left.), and he told us the whole story about how he's trying to save LA from frozen yogurt and cupcakes.  Keep up the good work Leo!  We announced him as the winner and had a nice cheer for him.  His ice cream won in both flavor and texture, the place was charming, and the customer service was excellent.  Thanks guys. We're coming back on Friday night.  Have the peach pepper ready.



Friday, September 6, 2013

Summer

I felt like last year's summer was a bit of a bust.  I just didn't do enough summery activities to make it feel successful so I was kind of bummed out by the end of it.

So this year I set a goal to have a better summer.  I made a list of the most essential fun:

1.  A trip
2.  The beach, both for the sunshine and a bonfire
3.  Books
4.  Slurpees
5.  Some sort of outdoor musical thingy
6.  Swimming
7.  Homemade boysenberry ice cream
8.  Dodger game

I can put a check next to all of those things. 

My dad asked a question the other day:  what is one of your favorite travel memories - just a moment on a trip that you can pinpoint as amazing.  I'm applying that question to this summer.  There are a lot.

1.  When Gina and Lindsay walked into the hotel room in New York an hour after Katie, Camille and I got there and we all screamed and laughed and hugged,

2.  Watching Neil Gaiman sign books and seeing how nice he was to every single person, which then made me think that I probably wouldn't pass out,

3.  Seeing Sandy Koufax walk out onto the field at Dodger Stadium during the Old-Timers Game,

4.  Peach & boysenberry cobbler on Labor Day,

5.  Sitting in the light of our single lantern and laughing a lot while camping on the second night of the Amazing Race with the kids from church,

6.  Coloring with Rac,

7.  Swimming out into the ocean, well beyond the crowds and the point where my feet reached the floor, and just floating.

8.  Singing Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of my lungs at the sing-along.  And then meeting Mock Turtleneck Guy afterwards.

Oh, my friends, it's been a great summer.

Tell me yours.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Well, since you asked.

The checker at the store asked me:

If I had any kids,
If I wanted any,
If I was married,
How come I wasn't married,
How old I was.

I then told her my religion, political leanings, feelings on abortion, the death penalty, gun control, and the situation in Syria, and then handed over my social security number after announcing my weight over the store's intercom because it seemed really pertinent to her scanning my groceries.

Monday, September 2, 2013

An evening off the couch

I'm not much for wedding receptions.  It's not that I don't like them, or that I don't love the people they celebrate.  It's just that the cake is never as good as I want it to be.  And I have to convince myself that I like talking to people.  Here's the truth, I actually do really enjoy talking to people.  It just takes some reminding that talking to friends is always preferable to sitting on my couch. But anyway, yes, wedding receptions.  I'm iffy. 

But I went to one on Saturday for a long time family friend (congratulations Annie and Phil!  I'm not kidding when I say, Annie you were hands down the prettiest bride I've seen in ages.) and the whole night was filled with basically everyone that I love.  I mean, seriously, every wedding should be just like that.  I couldn't walk to the punch table without seeing 3 people I wanted to hug.  And the cake was amazing.  I'm pretty sure there was Nutella in it.

Two notable things happened.

1.  There was a reunion. 
 
That's Gloria, Sylvia, and Tammy.  We've been friends since high school (well, Sylvia and I longer.  I think we met when I was 3.) And when I saw the 3 of them sitting at a table together I nearly burst into tears.  What a total treat.  I mean, we see each other periodically but I can't tell you how long it's been since we've all been together.  It's been 20 years since high school.  Can you believe it?  Oh, boy. I did not intend to go to the reunion because thanks to the magic of Facebook I can keep in contact with everyone I want to from my couch.  But seeing them reminded me how great it is to look an old friend in the face and ask how their lives are going?  Being with them was definitely worth getting off of my couch. 
 
2.  Sometimes writing this blog is like writing in a vacuum.  Because of the times and technology people just don't comment as much anymore.  They're reading it on their phone and who has time to deal with auto correct when there are so many levels of Candy Crush to master. So I forget that people actually read this.  And that people other than my mom think it's funny and worth their time. It's mostly friends.  But some strangers find it.  Strangers like Annie's cousin Rachel who came up to me shortly after I walked in to introduce herself and say how much she likes this old thing.  And I can't tell you how adorable it all was. I mean, really. I was tickled.  Let's be best friends, Rachel!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Age of Flo

The Age of Flo has ended.

Flo, as you know, if the old lady manager of my apartment complex.  She's cranky, unhelpful, forgetful, stubborn, yet endearing.  I mean, how else would you explain all of us putting up with her refusal to fix anything no matter how many times you beg her?  We usually just say, "Oh, Flo," and work around it.

Well, she's retiring.  It's time.  But it's a little sad.  She's the only manager Las Brisas has had for 30+ years.

So, in honor of Flo, here are some fond memories:

1.  That one time my shower knob broke and I called her and she said, "Oh honey, you can just use some pliers to turn it on and off." And then when I said that wouldn't work she told me to go buy a new one and install it.  So when I told her that I would do that, and take it out of my rent, plus send her my invoice for doing independent contract work she sent someone over to fix it.

2.  That one time I called her to tell her we didn't have any water and she said, "Oh, no honey.  Your water is working. You just don't have any hot water." Apparently they were working on the water heater and she didn't tell us. And she kept insisting that we had water, just not hot water, even though no water, hot or cold was coming out of any of the faucets.

3.  That one time she gave my key to a worker who just unlocked my door and walked right in without knocking or announcing himself as I was making a salad in the kitchen.  And when I called her and told her that she can't just give my key out she said, "Oh honey, of course I can.  I give keys out to everyone."

4.  All those times she called up to say, "Honey, do you have any more of your people (meaning Mormons) who what to move in?"

5.  She would get her hair done once a week, which is such an endearing old lady thing to do and I plan on following suit when I enter the Muu Muu Years.

6.  She came to one of our ward activities and gave us all hugs because she was so happy to see us.

So long Flo!  We'll miss you.  And that really short bathrobe you wear when you answer the door.  Your legs are great for 90.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I lifted the Utah Moratorium for a week.

I did make it to Alien Fresh Jerky.  It had aliens and space ships, but I wanted it to be a little bit more run down.  It looked like any other shop, which is weird considering that it is in Baker.  Shouldn't it look more like a meth lab?  The people inside certainly looked like they had just come from one. 

Other highlights:

1.  My dad has an alarming amount of 1960s protest songs on his iPod.  Like he doesn't wear a suit and tie every single day.  Also, no surprise, he has a lot of Bob Dylan.  I think it's a real testament to Bob Dylan's talent as a song writer that he's such an icon considering how his voice sounds like a cross between a Jew's harp and a leaf blower that can't quite get started.

2. Rac and I had a slumber party.  She picked me up at 5 and we started talking.  We talked all the way through dinner.  We talked at the store while we picked up provisions.  We talked through a marathon of ANTM.  We talked as we colored.  We talked and talked and talked.  And then we went to bed at 3.  And then we woke up and talked some more.  This is why the slumber party was necessary.  In the time since we were roommates we would get an hour here or there about once a year and that's just not enough.  We needed a substantial chunk of time.  And ice cream. And crayons. As a sign that the night was on the right track, when we walked into the restaurant for dinner (Station 22 in Provo.  Locals, it's tasty.) Squirrel Nut Zippers was playing.  Man, we loved that band in 1997.

3.  When I was a student at BYU and working on campus, Education Week was the second worst week of the year (the first being Women's Conference.  You have no idea how mean a pack of Mormon women can be.) So when my dad asked if I wanted to go to the Tuesday devotional I hesitated.  I mean, the crowds, and the pushing, those flashbacks of trying to buy my books at the bookstore and nearly being stampeded as I crossed in front of the candy counter. But I went (super glad I did.  It was great), and then I went to my dad's class, and we even gave the bookstore and the CougarEat a shot, and we survived. I didn't have to punch anyone in the face.  Also, I love being on campus.  It's pretty and filled with good memories.
 
4.  Speaking of campus, as we were passing by the Jesse Knight Building (formerly the Jesse Knight Humanities Building and my home for 3 years since nearly every class I had was held deep in its basement) Dad informed me that Jesse Knight was a mining baron who used his fortune to help the school.  I felt a real connection to him since I too spent my years there toiling underground.

5.  Casey has mono, for the second time.  Sam had Early Onset Kidney Stones (like father, like son), and Eliza was barfing.  Get a grip, Knechts! 

6.  Let's just look at my nieces and nephews for a sec. Could you just die over how cute they are?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ben started the first grade (ugh!), Tom spent about an hour telling me all about Pokemon, Eliza helped me make waffles, Levi actually sat in my lap, and Addie is too cute for words.  They're all so funny and I love them.  Also, their parents are my favorite people.  I loved hanging out with them for a few days.  Give them back to me Utah!  Or else!
 
Here's a parting shot for you:
 
 
 
See, Gina, I didn't post it on Facebook.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A shorter roadtrip than planned

In the spirit of "there are no bad events, only good stories" I share with you Birthday Adventure '013: Is There Morphine in this Roadtrip?

After a late night of singing at the last sing along of the summer (NO Mock Turtleneck Guy!  Ugh!  Tragedy!  But we did sing "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and KILLED it.) and then dinner at the Nickel Diner where we ate our collective weight in dessert (a PJB poptart, a blueberry lemon poptart, a ding dong that tasted exactly like an actual ding dong but with a 1:1 cream to cake ratio, the Oaxacan chocolate bread pudding and a coconut tapioca, all homemade, all the best thing I've ever eaten) I eventually made it back to my parents where I was staying the night because Dad and I were hitting the road early for Utah.

And we totally did.  We hit that road at 5:45.  And we made it a whole 15 miles, all the way up to Rancho Cucamonga, and stopped because my dad was writhing in pain.  Here's how much pain he was in. I said, "I think we should go to the hospital." And he said, "OK."  Like he doesn't hate hospitals and being around sick people.  So we got him to the hospital, they gave him some morphine and took a CT scan and discovered that it's a kidney stone.  Poor Dad.  But also, such a trooper.  He made sure that I mentioned to everyone I talked to how well behaved he was.  No complaining or whining.  A model patient.  I kept joking with him that this was the beginning of the end, that this was just a precursor to all the times I'm going to have to take him to the hospital in his old age. He made me promise that if it ever got to the adult diaper stage I would leave him out in the wilderness to be eaten by wolves. 

So we didn't make it to Utah today. Probably Monday.  But the nurses kept wishing me a happy birthday.  And I reminded my dad that the last time we were in a hospital together on August 17 was the day I was born. 

After I dropped him off at home I picked up a Slurpee and went home and took a nap. So, not what I expected from the day, but you can't beat a Slurpee and a nap.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Saturday=Slurpee Day

You know what Saturday is...

it's the 3rd Annual GET YOURSELF A SLURPEE DAY!!!

Also, my birthday.  But this is how I plan to celebrate.  Somewhere on the road to Utah my dad and I will stop and get a Slurpee. There has also been talk that we could stop at Alien Jerky in Baker, CA, simply because I've always wanted to go.  Not because I have a real love of jerky, I just think it would be funny to stop in.  If it's not over the top kitsch then I'm going to be a little disappointed. I'm talking flying saucers and space suits.

So, you may remember the rules of the day.  You get yourself a Slurpee or an equivalent if you don't have Sevs in your area. You take a picture of yourself with the Slurpee and you send it to me.  You can email me. You can post it on Facebook or Instagram (I'm @rachelsaysso.  Also, that's the first time I've every typed an @anything. Ugh, technology.  I'm too old for this. Heaven help us all if I ever do a hashtag.)  You can print the picture out and leave it on my doorstep.  However you want to do it, I just want to see you enjoying yourself with a cool slushy beverage. Don't like them?  What?!  Get out of my life.  No, I kid.  Please stay.  You can get an ice cream cone instead.  Or a lemonade.  I don't know, it's summer.  Live a little.  Or maybe you're in the southern hemisphere (Hi friends!).  Have a mug of Milo for me.  There are so many options, is what I'm saying.  I just want you to enjoy yourself because I think you're great.

And now for a super grainy sombrero gif, because I've spent the evening finding ways to ignore my laundry. Also, this is my 900th post. Nothing says celebration like a sombrero.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Wrinkle in the Door

Do you remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that I had to finish reading A Wrinkle in Time for book club?  Well, I was more than halfway done and the whole time I kept thinking, when does the father disappear? Because I've read it before and the only thing I can remember about it is that the dad is missing.  But halfway through the kids still weren't looking for him.  And then I really started worrying about my memory.  I mean, I know that I have a bad one, especially when it comes to books.  I could love a book, read it repeatedly, have multiple copies, and I still would struggle to remember the plot and characters.  Unless a book really, really strikes me I'm going to forget about 90% of it as soon as I shut it.  It's a curse.  But this was kind of ridiculous, that absolutely none of it was ringing a bell.

That is until I really looked at the front cover, one that I had glanced at multiple times and neglected to notice that it was not A Wrinkle in Time that I was reading.  It was A Wind at the Door, book two (I think) in the series.  In my defense, not once is the kids' previous adventure of searching for their dad through time and space ever mentioned (that's what happens right?  Oh, like I know.)  And Meg is totally surprised when weird and magical things start happening.  Like she hasn't already been through all of this before. It is a stand alone book...with a title that looks an awful lot like it's companion.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I'm with the band

I called Casey & Kylea to say, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THAT BLOG?!" (Go!  Go to that blog.) Sweet land of liberty, Addie is the Queen of All Cute Things.

And guess what, I get to see her and all the Northern Fam because I'm overlooking the fact that I'm in a huge fight with Utah and I'm going up on Saturday.

Anyway, Casey answered the phone and the first thing he said was, "How's Just Lips going?"

You remember Just Lips, right?  No.  You don't.  It's the imaginary 70s rock cover band my siblings and I have come up with.  Every so often a song will come on the radio and one of us will say, "Just Lips!  We'll fit it into our second set."  Because we have the whole tour planned out, all the way down to costume changes and pyrotechnics (We open with Kashmir.)  I could use the excuse that we were weird children, except that we planned this like 5 years ago, as fully grown adults. We have a gift for turning ridiculous ideas into elaborate plans.

So naturally whenever Casey and I talk we get around to plans for the Just Lips summer state fair tour.  We discussed the tour bus tonight.  One of the features will be an old timey soda counter, complete with a soda jerk wearing a white shirt, red bow tie, and a little paper hat. Any soda you want, our guy will make it.  Want a strawberry phosphate? An egg cream?  Just a regular root beer float?  Well, you're going to have to get yourself invited onto the bus.

Question:  if you were going to outfit your tour bus what would be on it?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

One down

I did, in fact, get my upstairs neighbors evicted.  Well, actually, I like to think that they got themselves evicted.  I just ratted them out for dumping their bong water out of the bedroom window.

They've been moving for a few days now, almost entirely in the middle of the night.  Last night it was from 10 to 2.  About every 15 minutes I would wake up to heavy objects being dropped on the floor.  Or many feet scuttling up and down the stairs. Katie woke up to one of the Upstairs yelling to Mrs. Cranky Smoker, "Well we never complained about your husband smoking all day long." He has a fair point, Mrs. CS.  Your husband's habit is kind of vile.  Which is worse, having a 12 pack a day smoker next door or a loud punk upstairs? The smoker is truly miserable but at least you can shut the door on him.  It's tough to drown out the noise of 15 kids in a room getting high and listening to really loud rap.

Okay, so they're almost gone.  If we could just get the Smokers and then the Megaphones who live across the way out then all my dreams would come true.  Because those people are loud.  I was once in the shower, water running, door closed and I could still hear them talking on their balcony. 

On the flip side, as of this weekend there are 16 units in our complex with Mormons in them.  People of Las Brisas, we are taking over!  You'll be so happy when Armageddon hits (we are next to a Walmart, the fireballs will hit there first.) and we share our food storage with you.