Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Quilt for every Occasion

I've said it here before and I'll say it again: I don't care for Halloween. For the reasons that 1.) I don't like scary things or the glorification of them, 2.) I don't care about dressing up, and 3.) I can buy my own candy, thank you very much. So around September of each year I find myself starting to get a little cranky about it. Like, why do people have to hang bloody severed heads on their front porch, like on a house I saw recently? And why does every channel on TV except for Hallmark show nothing but creepy shows for the entire month of October. The whole month is a gauntlet of horror for delicate flowers such as myself.

Things were no different this year and a few weeks back I found myself feeling grumpy about it all. But I don't like to feel grumpy! Aren't there enough things in the world to put me into a funk? I should not let a dumb holiday do that to me. So instead of succumbing to it I decided to combat it...with crafts! Making things has a real magical power over me. It's hard to be cranky when you're making something fun and cute. I headed out to the fabric store with the intent of just strolling for ideas and I came how with bag full of yardage and started making myself a Halloween quilt.

It should be noted that I have zero use for a Halloween quilt. It never gets cold enough for snuggling under a blanket until well into November. In fact, it's been over 85 the entire time I've been working on it. But I got it into my head that it's what I wanted to do and there was no stopping me. I found a cute idea online and set out to recreate it. Because I'm dumb. What do I know about quilting? Practically nothing. I've made a few in my time but most were really basic, and a long time ago. It's been ages! Also, it involved triangles and I literally failed geometry in high school. But I had a vision, for crying out loud. And a love of learning how to do new things, and confidence in my ability to figure things out, and a seam ripper. What more does a girl need?

And it turned out cuter than I even imagined!

Witches hats! It's hard to tell from this picture but there's a lot of metallic and sparkle in it too. It's backed with minky so it's really soft. It is also a mess. I mean, really, this would not even earn me a nice-try ribbon at the fair. The quilting is wonky and the puckers are abundant BUT it's cute and I love it.  And making it was good for my soul. I loved the whole, very long process, even the ironing. I did a test run with the bias tape on an extra square I had and when I finished I held it up in the air and said, "I am a sewing genius!" even though women have been binding quilts with their own bias tape for centuries. Get over yourself, Rachel. But still, I felt like the craftiest of all crafters. Like Amish women were going to send me invitations to join their next quilting bee.  

And now I want to make a quilt for every occasion. I don't have room to store all the quilts I want to make, and again, Southern California heat. But whatever. Crafters gonna craft. If the Amish don't come through with their invitation who wants to start a quilting guild with me?

PS. Remember how way back in January I was lamenting about how kids today probably don't know who the Talking Heads are and how I was introduced to them on KROQ when they would play Psycho Killer but that I was pretty sure they don't play that anymore. Well guess what I heard on KROQ this morning...Psycho Killer! It was a Halloween Miracle! 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Murder Most Foul (Wait...that's Hamlet)

Well, schools have started back up and California is on fire so that means we're in August. I've told you my thoughts on August before, right? It is best represented by that child you see in line at Disneyland at about 10pm. She is crying on her dad's shoulder. She is exhausted from hours of over-stimulation. She has been on every ride and eaten one too many churros. She just wants her bed but she must press on because her parents have spent an outrageous amount of money for her to have the memories!  THAT is August. 

But also, my birthday is in August so la, la, la! Let's drink Slurpees! 

My dad and I had talked about going up to the Utah Shakespeare Festival for a few days but then life happened and we never finalized any plans. But Othello called, as it always does, so, just because it seemed like a crazy thing to do, and because we were limited on time, we decided that we would leave very early in the morning, drive the 6 hours to Cedar City, watch the matinee, then drive the 6 hours back. So we did. And I know it sounds crazy. Who wants to spend 12 hours in a car to see a play? But sometimes you just need to do things like that. Because it will be fun and you'll have memories. Isn't that reason enough? And you guys, it was totally worth it. We both have been to many shows there and agreed that this was the best production we had seen. It was staged in their smallest theater and even though we were bunched up in the far corner we were still only 4 rows away from the action. I'll just say that being 20 feet away from a woman being strangled to death in her bed by her jealous husband is...intense. The play ended with bodies strewn across the stage, we hopped back in the car and got on the highway, only briefly stopping to pick up some dinner and then to check out the totally random Eddie World in exotic Yermo, CA. The conversation was great, we listened to good music, we watched a fantastic play and ended the day with ice cream. What could be better?

Hey, speaking of murder... (I shouldn't be so flippant about murder but a segue is a segue.)

I love this shot of the house my family stayed in for our reunion in Oregon because it looks both charming (the dock! the kayaks! the lights on the deck!) and also - because of the angle and the looming dusk - slightly nefarious, like muuuuurder is about to happen. This is totally the shot in a summer movie where a group of friends gather to reminisce about old times that says, "Meanwhile, back at the house, SOMEONE IS ABOUT TO DIE!"

Reader, we lived. But no thanks to the army of spiders that hung in every window. The spiders!

I've thought about doing a whole post about the reunion but here's the thing, it would just be me being all, "My family is great!" And you already know this. So I'll show you some pictures, how about that:

There were games

and hootenannies

and footraces

and service projects

and secret gardens

and dock jumping

and babes in hot tubs

and family pictures

It looks like we did a ton but the bulk of our time involved us sitting around talking and laughing. To wit, my family is great.

I'm going to say something about dock jumping. There is a hierarchy of preferable bodies of water in which to swim. It is, from best to worst:

1. Pool (clean, regulated temps, proximity to spa)
2. Ocean (waves, wee!)
3. River (continual replenishment of fresh water, although depths and temps are questionable)
4. Lake (gross)
5. Reservoir (gross, plus trees in shallow water with dead fish on limbs)

I have been in all of these this summer. And jumping off the dock at dusk was a thrill. But touching down at the bottom of the lake the thought came to me, "Well that was really fun but now I am wearing socks made from thousands of years of fish poop."

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A New Muumuu Destination

You:  "Hey Rachel, what have you been up to?"
Me: "Oh, you know. Not writing."

You guys, for six months I haven't written a thing! Not on this blog, no short stories, no emotional rants scrawled on any random notebook while sitting in the Target parking lot (I have done this, I will admit, more than once.) Sure I've written in my journal like any good Mormon girl but that's about it. And here's the thing, I need to write. When I joke that writing is my one talent I kind of mean it. Because it's the one thing I've always known I was good at from a really young age and not doing it makes me feel like I'm not living up to my potential. No one actually lives up to their potential. That thing is limitless. But I still like to give it the old college try. Although that's not a great turn of phrase in this instance considering that, even though I wrote constantly in college, it was mostly analyses on the Romantic poets or a comparison of the book and film of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I got an A on even though what I really wanted to write was, "Both were awful.The End." I don't think I mentioned Prince a single time in any of my college papers.

So I'm writing again. We'll have a party to celebrate. You eat a piece a cake and I'll eat a piece of cake and we'll both, at a designated time, thrown confetti in the air. And then I'll get back to writing. I'm not making promises people (all 3 of you) but maybe from time to time I'll put some little nugget up here, mostly to remind myself that I love it.

Speaking of cake I had the best, hands down, no competition, piece of cake I've ever had in my entire life. Purchased at a place called Rosine's in Monterey, CA. Eaten, primarily, on the road out of the plastic container it came in. I find most cake to be just okay. It's not moist enough or there's too much frosting. But this was a giant, chocolate piece of perfection.

Also on the perfection list: Monterey. Have you been? Gosh it's pretty. I went for the first time this weekend after a disappointing several hours in Santa Cruz (which will forever be known as NotMonterey, CA) The dramatic beaches! The abundance of funky looking cypress trees! The frolicking baby seals and otters! The proximity to Doris Day's house over the hill in Carmel! I mean, it's really the best. I've always thought I would spend my golden muu-muu years in Palm Springs but now I'm reconsidering. I would have to learn how to golf, of course, but I'd have to do that in the desert too. The level of Elegant Leisure is on par (see, I'm using golf lingo already!) with Newport RI but this is West Coast Elegant Leisure, which allows for flip flops and tacos.

Monterey came at the end of a two week blitz of travel. I was in Zion National Park for girls camp (hot, hot, more hot, and fun) then a week later I was in Oregon for a Knecht-fest that deserves its own post (21 Knechts, one house). And then a long drive down the coast through the Redwoods, loads of vineyards, the Bay Area, NotMonterey and Monterey (I used the bathrooms at Pebble Beach. Deluxe!) a quick stop off in Salinas to pay homage to John Steinbeck even though he hated the place, then home. I have been luxuriating in my own bed every night since. The joys of sleeping in your own bed after many nights of things that are not your bed, and things that couldn't even be considered a bed, cannot be overstated. I will say though that buying the World's Largest Cot and lugging it all the way to Utah for girls camp because I flat-out refuse to ever sleep on an air mattress again was one of my better decisions.

Here's a picture of me as Frodo Baggins leaving the Shire.

And here is the freakiest tree knot you've ever seen.

And here's Clark. Because what the world needs now, more than ever, is Clark.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Letting the Days Go By

1. Have you heard of Choir! Choir! Choir!? (That's what it's called, I'm not just shouting it three times at you.) It's a sing-along where you practice the back-up harmonies to a song for an hour and then you sing it all together, sometimes with a famous musician on lead vocals. I'm dying for them to come to LA. I miss singing with strangers. Well they had one recently where David Byrne sang David Bowie's Hero and you guys, if ever there was a moment where a Wealthy Benefactor would have come in handy it would have been this moment so I could have flitted off to New York to sing back-up with David Byrne. I would have BEEN THERE. Because I love sing-alongs and I love David Bowie and I love David Byrne. So much in fact, that a few months ago I had this really depressing realization that kids today don't know who the Talking Heads are. And I started to panic about that. The internal monologue went something like this: (A Talking Heads song shuffles on) "Man, I really love the Talking Heads. Does anyone not love them? Wait, that would assume that everyone knows the Talking Heads. They're old. People my age surely know them, right? But kids? I found them in the 80s because they played Psycho Killer on KROQ all the time but kids don't listen to the radio these days. And I'm sure KROQ doesn't even play them anymore. Kids are certainly not googling '70s and 80s new wave groups' when they're looking for new music. And what if their parents don't know the Talking Heads?! It's a parent's responsibility to introduce kids to old music they would otherwise miss. KIDS TODAY WILL NEVER KNOW THE TALKING HEADS!!! (end scene.) I'm going to start driving around town with my windows down and Mr. Jones blaring from my puny speakers so that the Youth of America can be informed. I'm around the Youth of America all day long for crying in the mud. From 6 AM to sometimes 6 PM I am with the young. I should be doing my part. My seminary kids are going to be so well versed in the Talking Heads catalog. Anyway, here's David Byrne and several really lucky ducks singing Hero:

2. Have you seen The Post? It was a great movie. But the best thing about it, by far, was Meryl Streep's caftan.

Behold the glory of it!  This isn't doing it the least bit of justice because you have to see it in motion. It's like she's wearing a shimmery cloud. She wears it for quite a few scenes and the whole time I kept thinking, "This is as close to perfection as any shapeless lounge-wear will ever get." It is magnificent. I hope to be wearing something similar when you visit me in my retirement in Palm Springs in 25 years. 

3. You know how loads of girl names were once boy names. Leslie and Tracy and Ashley and Beverly were all once 100% boy names and now are 100% girl names. This is a trend that has gone on forever and will continue to do so. But names are skewing older now. Which means that parents who follow the trend of giving their daughters traditional boy names are now giving them old man names, as shown by this article Katie came across. You should really see the whole list but I'll give you the highlights and then you too can wonder, "Were they high or something?" (all from births in 2015): there were 205 girls named Ezra (like the Old Testament prophet?), 97 named Ira (was she born with hair coming out of her ears and eating a tuna sandwich?), 65 were named Asa (I hope she got 500 heads of cattle at her christening). There are some Declans, which, I don't know why you would name your daughter after the Irish exchange student you had a crush on in high school but okay. And some Reeds, who will definitely all become accountants who wears polos every Friday, even though very few women actually look good in a polo. But my personal favorite is Uriah. There are 28 2-year-old girls toddling around America with the name Uriah. We could just assume that these parents really love the Dickens classic David Copperfield and connect on a deep level with the villain Uriah Heep. But I'm not sure even my love for Dickens would bring me to give any child, let alone a daughter, a name that sounds like something you'd have to have your urologist check out.