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


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!