Tuesday, April 29, 2014

People will come

Like most 80 year old women, I really value my sleep. I wake up at 5 so I'm almost always in bed by 10 and I sometimes take a nap when I get home from work. In my jammies and under the covers.

That being said, I'm a firm believer in giving up sleep in order to make memories.  Because I'm telling you right now, you're not going to look back on life and remember all those times you skipped out early so you could get an extra hour of sleep. 

We went to the Dodger game on Saturday where they showed Field of Dreams after the game on the big screens. I love this movie. I can't tell you how many times I've seen it. And watching it at the stadium was kind of the best. But we were surprised to see how many people left. I bet there were maybe just a thousand people left in the stadium, and even a lot of them left before the end of the movie. Don't they realize that the best parts are at the end? Like this:

You're seriously going to leave before the People Will Come speech? Or, "Hey Dad. Wanna have a catch?" For crying out loud! Sure, it was 11:30 and I'm sure they all had to get up early for church the next day. But so did I. Six hours of church, in fact. But if you get the chance to see James Earl Jones talk about baseball at Dodger Stadium you stay.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Space is kind of photogenic

I just really want to be in outer space right now. Some people want to be sunning themselves on a tropical island or walking along the streets of Paris. I want Star Trek to be real and I'm the official blogger for Starfleet and we're heading to some distant galaxy to seek out new life and find the best nachos. We don't even know how great other planets' nachos are. They could change our lives forever. Don't we have an obligation to search this out? I volunteer for Starfleet's Intergalactic Nacho Exploration Unit, is what I'm saying. Although I'm going to imagine the uniforms to be less of an insult to thighs. How about stretchy pants and hoodies? Maybe a nice muumuu. Oh, who am I kidding. I would wear a mustard yellow turtleneck and skinny jeans (two things I look atrocious in) if it meant going into space.

Yesterday was the 24th anniversary of the Hubble telescope. Let's look at some pretty pictures it took from around the Universe:

M83 Galaxy. Like an octopus at a princess party.
Spiral Galaxy M83

Source: Hubblesite.org

The Small Magellanic Cloud

A jet in the Carina Nebula. Those shots of light coming out of the top are from brand new stars.

The Horsehead Nebula. So pretty!!!!

A galaxy eating another galaxy for breakfast...if breakfast lasted a billion years.

A young star shooting out radiation through the dust belt of a nebula. Kapow!

The Sombrero Galaxy. First stop for space nachos.

And finally, something to really freak you out. The telescope was pointed in a spot that everyone assumed was just a bunch of empty space. And then it sent back this:

Those, space nerds, are thousands of galaxies. With the exception of a few of our own stars (the ones with the spikes) every speck of light you see is a galaxy. A galaxy!! The farthest one we can see here is 9 billion light years away. Which, in scientific terms, is super far. That means we're seeing some of these galaxies as they were 9 billion years ago. The nearest ones are only a few hundred million light years away, which means they're practically close enough to borrow sugar from.

Here, wait, go to this instead to see a really big version of it that you can zoom in and check out the details. I particularly like that cluster up at the top.

In other space news, did you know you can see the International Space Station flying overhead. You sign up here and you'll get an email telling when and where to look. It looks like an airplane but without the blinking. It's very peaceful to watch, just standing outside in the cool night air, waving to the people up there. I have to be on friendly terms with the astronauts because someday I'm going to go hunt space nachos with them.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Light the Rockets!!

1. If you're looking for a new Easter tradition, how about you shoot off rockets at a rival church's bell tower. This is apparently what they do in some town in Greece and I've been giggling over all sorts of reasons as to how this whole thing started. Clashing paint colors. Nuns talking smack. Who gets what street during holy day processionals. Some local tough from one church steals the holy water from the other church and someone shouts, "Light the rockets!" And 125 years later they're still shooting them off.  Here are some pictures of the festivities.

2. In other Easter news, we got together with my mom's side of the fam and I felt like a midget. These people are towering. My cousin's 11 year old daughter is taller than I am by a good 4 inches. But I love them all. We talked books for a large portion of the night.

3.  I put in a movie on Saturday night and thought, great, it's 6:30. This means the movie will be done by 8:30 and I can be in bed by 9. Because I'm 80. Don't be jealous.

4.  My mom and sisters and I went down to Dana Point on Friday night for this little craft fair. I love a craft fair. How else am I supposed to feed my addiction to hand-made soaps? Anyway, I haven't been to Dana Point since I was a sophomore in high school and we took the biology boat out to the angry sea to touch fish and measure visibility depth. Oh, the rolling and bobbing that went on. It was cold and rough. As we pulled into the parking lot of the marina I said, "I remember this place. A lot of vomiting has gone on here."

5. Katie update: Her nose is still very tender but she went back to work and cooked dinner tonight. On that note, we have the best friends. We had dinners brought in every day last week. Our fridge and our hearts are overflowing. Thanks everyone. You're the greatest.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

There must be no slime

I ordered eggs benedict for the first time and it was a revelation.

I've made eggs benedict before to middling success. The hollandaise sauce was good but the poached eggs were a bust. And everything needs to be finish at the same time, which is like rocket science. Have you tried poaching an egg without an egg poacher? Double rocket science with a hint of string theory. Tricky business. And then after doing all that advanced math it still pretty underwhelmed with it.

I've never ordered them before because, if I think about it too much, I get a little squeamish about eggs. I mean, they're gross, right? But they're also delicious. Runny yolks are so good. But also kind of make me want to gag. I'm a mixed bag of emotions here. So I only ever order scrambled eggs when I'm out. Like I'm going to trust some guy at Denny's to get the yolk just right. I need a distinctly over-medium egg because if I see any of that slimy white bit that's attached to the yolk I realize that what I'm actually eating is chicken embryo and I'm done. (Fact, at least twice while writing this I have decided to go off eggs forever, and then have talked myself back.)

But we went to this really adorable place called Clementine and it just felt like the right setting to order eggs benedict. I actually talked myself out of it several times (because there were so many other really great sounding options) but Camille was firm and said I had to. So I did and they were a winner. The hollandaise was tangy and the ham was sliced nice and thin and the egg was poached to perfection. I didn't gag once. In fact, I wanted to lick my plate.

(Side Story:  I got the tale end of a conversation Katie had with our friend Taryn tonight (Thanks for dinner, Taryn.  It was great.) about how I'm a picky eater. Except that I'm not. I actually love most food. And I'll try just anything. It's just that I'm ridiculously opinionated and also a loud mouth. So if I don't like something the world will know. And there's no one on this blog that's like, "Rachel, calm down. Tuna casserole isn't all that bad," to temper all the opinions I'm throwing out. Except, come on guys. Warm canned tuna? Pass the barf bag.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Don't be alarmed. I'm fine"

You've seen the movie Heavy Weights, right? Because it is Ben Stiller at his finest. I'm not even kidding. It's probably one of my family's most quoted movies. Specifically, many lines from this scene:

So imagine how excited we were when we learned that Katie also had a severely deviated septum. Just like Lars!!!

But that can be fixed so Katie had surgery on Friday. I took her in and hung out at the hospital and then took her down to Mom who is far better equipped to tend to someone with a constant bloody nose. I fully admit that I'm not good around blood, or vomit, basically I don't want to see any bodily fluid coming out of another human being. Although I'm counting it as a personal victory that I changed her gauze several times.  And listened to her doctor use rather graphic terms to describe exactly what he did. The words "crammed" and "shoved" were used multiple times.

When Katie told a coworker that she was having the surgery she said to her, "So are you going to have your nose worked on too?" Which is both funny and horrible. For the record, Katie's nose is great.

She pulled through like a champ and everyone at the hospital was really great. Every nurse that came by would say, "Are you sisters? Twins?" We get that a lot. But one nurse, Pa, took it a step further and said, "You both are so beautiful! You're eyebrows, your lips, your noses, your ears, your cheeks, your foreheads." It was lovely but also really bizarre.

I was slightly disappointed with Katie's recovery immediately after the surgery. I met with the doctor when they were done and then a little while later they said I could go back because she was waking up. I was kind of hoping for some outrageous behavior, the likes of which you see on YouTube after kids have their wisdom teeth pulled. Katie is prone to really funny confessions from her childhood in her more lucid moments and I was wanting to hear more but she didn't say one loopy thing. She just dozed in and out and I fed her ice chips while the woman in the bed next to hers dry heaved for 10 minutes. Oy.

I had to stop for gas on the drive home and I hope that the people at the gas station got a nice laugh out of the nose sling that Katie had to wear.

She's doing much better and catching up on books and movies. And people have been bringing over meals and she gets a week off of school and work and church responsibilities, which is not a bad trade off for someone excavating your nose.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Postman's Office

There are several mail carriers who use the men's room at the Institute. But one in particular has turned it into his lounge. He comes in at least twice a day and will stay in there for 30 minutes. On several occasions guys have come out of the office and asked, I feel like in 30 minutes you can do just about anything you need to get done in a bathroom plus do your taxes. But whatever. Except that sometimes he comes in just before I'm about to leave. And then I have to wait 30 minutes for him to get done. And it's not like I can just poke my head in and call time.  I guess I can, that's just awkward. But again, it's not that big a deal.

For me, that is. But apparently it's a big deal for the United States Postal Service. A guy with an official looking badge on a lanyard came in and said, "Tell me about the postal worker who uses your bathroom all the time. The one who camps out in there." So this guy is a route inspector and he'd been working with the carrier all morning and he spilled all the juicy details. It was only 11 and already the guy had stopped in at the Institute twice, and had parked under a shady tree to play a game on his phone, calling it his lunch break. All while the inspector was with him. Which seems like such a boneheaded move. He'd been on the job for 3 hours and half of the time had been spent not delivering mail. And bonus, we're not even on his route. He's not our postman. Our postman zips in and out like a speedy ghost in the night. I barely have time to yell thank you to him as he's running out the door. So this other postman goes out of his way to use our facilities, presumably because it's a nice bathroom that has air conditioning and what must be the world's most comfortable toilet seat.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Really? A robot?

From time to time I'll go back and look over some past writing I've done. I have a file that is nothing but single paragraphs, just the start of a story, and reading over them a few years after the fact is kind of funny because I have no idea where they came from. If I used a prompt I always put that at the top of the page but there are some that have nothing which means they came to me by way of a Muse. A really inept Muse who stays for like half a page and then flits off to get a pedicure with the other Muses.

I wrote this one about a robot who does nothing but walk. How did I end up writing about a robot? I don't even like robots. They kind of scare me.

Or the one about a man trying to sell a pair of wool socks he claims were worn by Hemingway when he wrote A Farewell to Arms. This one had me rolling. I like the guy.

There's the one about a mother of seven grown sons who all still live at home and who, she believes, will never find wives who will love them the way she does. It's a comedy. And I'm telling you I can see all seven sons like they're standing in front of me. One of them is named Seth.

I wrote about one of my very first memories, when I was 2 and saw a tree stump entirely covered in ladybugs. The stump looked like it was wiggling.

There's the story about a bike race that goes across the state of Illinois and a woman who sells meat pies at one of their stops.

I wrote about a man who got to choose either to go to Rome or go into space and he chose space because he loved astronaut ice cream when he was a kid but then realizes that gelato is better and was regretting his choice. I was way more descriptive than I normally am in this one and I questioned whether or not I even wrote it.

Which one do you think I should flesh out? Don't say the robot one because I have no idea where I was even going with it.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hang up your surf board, Moon Doggie

Camille organized a little beach bon fire but when we got down to Balboa there were signs everywhere saying we could only burn charcoal in the fire pits. No worries, we lit a fire merely by the power of our rage.

It turns out that Balboa, Newport and Corona Del Mar have all banned wood burning fires.  And Southern California culture as we know it has died.  We drove up to Huntington in tears. Because who goes to Huntington for bon fires? Their pits are like a mile away from the water. I may have driven up PCH with my windows down screaming, "You're dumb!"

Basically what has happened is the people who live nearby, and who no doubt have ties to the SCAQMD and coastal commission, complained about the smoky air and noise coming from the public beaches and killed all the joy in the world.  YOU BOUGHT A HOME RIGHT BY A PUBLIC BEACH!!!!! If you wanted a pristine beach experience MOVE TO A PRIVATE ISLAND!!!! STOP MESSING WITH SACRED THINGS! Bon fires are essential to our lifestyle. There is zero appeal to sitting around a pit full of charcoal. It would be like telling a Texan he has to barbecue his brisket on a George Forman Grill.  It just isn't acceptable. When my cousin Sarah showed up and we told her that we may never be able to have a bon fire at Balboa again she said, "And did Disneyland close too?" Because that's how integral it is.

Naturally, I am starting a vigorous and extensive letter writing campaign. I have already joined Friends of the Fire Ring and have stared composing letters to SCAQMD, the mayor of Newport Beach, and the California Coastal Commission. If I'm reading the rules correctly it seems like all we need to do is move the fire pits 100 feet apart from each other. Can't we find a boy scout who needs an eagle project? Let's make this happen. If we can get the fire pits back I promise to throw a giant beach party the likes of which have not been seen since Frankie and Annette hung out with the gang in Beach Blanket Bingo.  We will light the biggest fire and dance around it with wild abandon.

We still managed to have a good time at Huntington and I made the perfect s'more. I mean, seriously, it was a revelation. But it really only emphasized just how much this is a part of my life and how much I would miss it. There is something magical about sitting around a fire with your friends on a cool night at the beach.

Dear Orange County,
I'm going to cut you off and shove you out to the ocean so you can be your own island and Chino can enjoy beach front property with fire pits that burn wood.
Hugs and Kisses, Rachel.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Art Society and Taquitos

The general Catholic consensus is that the little kids in white were receiving their first communion. They're just really young. So, mystery solved...or so we think!  Next time I'm just going to go in an ask if I have a question. You know how excited a Mormon would be if someone just came into one of our churches and asked a question? I like to think that all religions are like that.

I was at Olvera Street with Heather and the Art Society on Saturday. We also went up to Chinatown. It should be noted that this is not the Chinatown of your dreams. There are no dead chickens in the windows. But there are plenty of those waving cat figurines and laughing Buddhas. And a shop keeper actually said, "You break, you buy," which was appropriate considering that kids literally pick-up and shake everything in sight.

Here, look at some pictures:

This is just prior to taquitos. The other day I wrote to someone that all I ever want in life is a satisfying lunch. Taquitos from Cielito Lindo is the lunch I'm always looking for.

 Jarron bought this hat with his hard earned money.  Which naturally made me love Jarron even more:

We were walking  up the street and Sam stopped by this fire hydrant and said, "Take my picture!" Yes Ma'am!

Kaiya, alarmed by the size of these sparkly pigs.

Quinn doesn't like me. It's okay. Sam didn't like me in the beginning either. And then we had one long night of her crying it out and now we're best friends. I'm going to have to schedule Quinn's Night of Tears so he can get over it and love me forever and I can kiss those cheeks without him giving me the old stink eye.

In other past weekend news, Katie and I took Angela into LA for the first time and at the end we went to Neveux for ice cream and when we walked in Leo, the da Vinci of ice cream, raised his arms and said excitedly, "I didn't know it was going to be this kind of day!" Which is exactly the kind of reception you want from the guy making your ice cream. We tried the butterscotch rosemary. Wow-wee!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

For all your religious questions

Not for the first time I realize that I need more Catholic friends. I used to work with several Catholics at the Pod and now I work for the LDS Church which means I may as well just be in Utah. It's Mormons all the time up in here. Which is great, but sometimes I have questions about other religions and there isn't anyone regularly in my life who can answer them. And the internet really only generates more questions for me. Therefore, I'm starting a consortium of religious people, with the hopes of getting some answers straight from the source. Also, I would like to discover other religions' equivalent to funeral potatoes.*

Here's the question: I was near a Catholic church on Saturday and throughout the morning I kept noticing families walking in with little children, around 3-5 years old, dressed in white - boys in nice pants and shirts and girls in dresses with veils. What was going on? I initially thought it was their First Communion but then I thought that they looked really young for it. I was under the impression that it happened around 8 or 9. They were also going in at different times, like a family would be leaving as another was coming in. Maybe it was their first communion and I just have the age wrong. Was it their first confession, maybe? Isn't that the sacrament done in between baptism and communion? Oh, what do I know. I should have just stopped someone and asked but I didn't want to disturb anything important. Also, as all good church-going people the world over, everyone seemed to be running late.

Feel free to answer. And also, to join my consortium. I will take all faiths. I have a lot of questions. And you can ask all of your random Mormon questions ("You baptize dead people?!" We don't.) You should not be surprised that an item on our first agenda will be looking into matching windbreakers.

* Note for those who aren't familiar: Like other faith communities, when there is a death Mormons make food. And they provide a lunch or dinner following a funeral, because who wants to be thinking about cooking at a time like this. And at nearly every funeral there is a potato casserole that is made of hash browns, cream of something soup, and cheese, and it's topped with crushed up potato chips that have been drizzled with melted butter. It is a comforting hug in a 9x13 pan. We didn't invent it, but we have certainly made it our own.