Friday, September 30, 2016

Baby you can drive my car off a cliff

Oh geez, guys. I bought a car last night. Which I had no intention of doing that morning. I didn't really want a car payment but do you know what else I didn't want? To sit in a tow truck again having 12 miles of awkward conversation with the driver.

How about a rundown of my car in the last two months. In the beginning of August two of the cylinders needed to be replaced along with a bunch of other small things. Four weeks later the alternator needed to be replaced. And then on Wednesday the transmission went out. Miraculously it started giving up about a mile from work and I was able to make it to my parking lot, where I did not break down and weep, as I fully expected. Because weeping is my body's natural response to cars being jerks. No, I wept later in the day at home. Plenty. Because even I know that a transmission costs the price of a kidney.

I had it towed to my mechanic Maha and he called back yesterday morning at 10 with an estimate. $2400 was the cheapest option. Even if I had it I didn't want to spend it on a car that was only going to have something else quit in another 3 weeks. I am positive that the next thing would be the engine growing a mouth, insulting my hair, and then exploding, which I don't think Maha could fix! So I gave myself a few minutes of deep breathing and then decided I needed to buy a car. 

At this exact moment Camille messaged me about the car, seeing how things were going. And I told her Maha's estimate and she was aghast as any good sister would be. And then she said she was sure that a way would open up. And I believed her because one always does. I just did not expect it to open so soon. Because as soon as I started looking I found a car I liked from a reputable place at a price I could handle so I called and got the financing all worked out and the car put on hold and in 20 minutes it was all done. Twenty minutes! I should tell you that I NEVER have been so quick and single minded in making a big decision. It generally takes me days of worrying and dithering to act on something and even then I never feel great about it. But as soon as I hung up with my new best friend and car guy Carlos, the panic disappeared, the urge to cry subsided, and clarity and the Blue Bird of Happiness set in. 

I picked her up last night. A Nissan Versa, which means I'm happily back to a small car. I've been driving the Love Boat for the last 2 years. Ok, it was a Camry. But considering all of my previous cars had been little nuggets it felt like I needed a special license and a wide load sign on the back just to take her out on the road. I'm happy. Relieved, really. I sold my old car to Maha and he can shove it off a cliff if he so chooses. Which was what I was planning on doing, if only I could have gotten it to a cliff. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mystery Nuptials

A few weeks ago I noticed this entry in my calendar that I did not put in:

Am I getting married? 

I googled Sherilynn Takushi - Marriage License Agent, obviously, and guess where she at? Maui. Which means I better get to Maui if I'm getting my marriage license on Friday. Don't you think I should go out, JUST TO MAKE SURE! I mean, what if this is legit and my wealthy benefactor is waiting for me? With a Slurpee machine as a wedding present. I've never been to Hawaii and I imagine that my hair isn't going to do so great there, but does that even matter? No. Let's all go to Maui and meet the WB! 

I may have a conflict, however, in that I've just been asked to teach seminary again. Which makes sense. Of course I'm teaching seminary. It was a very restful 9 months (oh, the sleep I got) but it's good to be back. I'm team teaching though so I teach every other week, with is total luxury. I taught last week and was quickly reminded that I am not meant for 6 am. But it's a fun class. I think I'll like it. Who am I kidding, of course I'll like it. What's not to like? Teenagers and the scriptures are two of my favorite things. 

Here's a video to help you through the reality that it's not Friday yet. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Lots to discuss

1. As promised, here is my walking tour of downtown LA. I was going to make it its own post but it was turning into the Atlas Shrugged of tourism so I made it a link instead. It's detailed, folks. I want you to see the high points and eat good food and not get lost in the process. If you do it I would love to hear how it goes and any suggestions you have (maybe too long? the directions are crazy? I don't know). And as always, I am happy to take anyone around as a guide. My only stipulation is that you don't complain about the traffic. Move to Iowa if you don't want traffic and marvel at their magnificent soy fields. (Okay, I actually do love their soy fields.)

2. Dear School Behind My Home. Is it not enough? I mean, is it really not enough that your parents clog the streets in my neighborhood with their massive SUVs and your kids drop their candy wrappers and chip bags on my lawn and on the occasion of a day off I can't hear my TV or enjoy a book in silence because you're blasting party anthems all day long? It must not be enough because marching band practice has started up again and the other morning I endured some kid banging out the same cadence on a quad drum over and over and over again for a full hour. Oh, summer was sweet. And now the Autumn/Winter/Spring of my discontent has returned. Do not make me resort to lobbing eggs over the fence. Best Wishes for a Quick Resolve, Your Justifiably Cranky Neighbor.

3. Do you know what I pray for every day? That my friends and loved ones make a million dollars selling Lularoe leggings (and such) but that they do so without adding me to any of their Facebook groups. How do I tell them nicely that I love them and that I want them to be ridiculously successful and be able to support their family while wearing stretchy pants and over-sized shirts from the comfort of their home but that I don't want any part of it? I simply do not want to go to their parties or buy their clothes. I hope all of their multi-level marketing dreams come true, just without me having to continuously go through the process of removing myself from their groups.

4. At 11 am on Saturday Katie got word that she had won a lottery to get $20 tickets to see the 2 pm show of Newsies out in Hollywood. Of course we dropped everything and went. We were orchestra level, dead center and 19 rows back. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. This is the 3rd time we've seen it which I originally thought qualified us as super fans. But the guy sitting next to us had seen it 4 times...THAT WEEK. He said it was his 10th or 11th time seeing it total. He also bought his kids every Newsies related tchotchke they sold out in the lobby including newsboy caps and newsie teddybears. His boy even ran up during intermission to grab one of the newspapers they threw off the stage during one of the songs. I should have asked him if has was a crazed fanatic for all musicals or just this one. Either way, I get it. It's a fun show.

5. In the spirit of conservation I saved the syrup I boiled my peaches in for the peach cobbler I made for yesterday's BBQ at the Appels (Thanks, guys. Let's be friends for literally forever.) and I poured it on my french toast I made for dinner tonight and topped it with the leftover whipped cream from said cobbler and holy cats was it the greatest thing I've ever eaten. Don't you love how often breakfast foods can be turned into desert?

Monday, August 29, 2016

All the way to Boston, all the way to Lynn

My cousin Sarah and I spent a week out in Massachusetts with my parents who are out there serving as missionaries for the Church. Sarah was the best traveling partner and my parents are the greatest. It was the tops. To recap:


I'm going to live in Orchard House. Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women here, from a desk that you can cry over but cannot sit at, which is a dirty trick if you ask me. They're probably (rightly, in my case) worried that someone will snatch her extremely charming inkwell. (You cannot take pictures inside the house, which is another dirty trick.) It's the tiniest of desks, next to a larger desk that she purchased after she got good and rich from her book. Treat yo self, Lou! I bet people called her Lou. I certainly would have. The home was saved from ruin and turned into a museum all the way back in 1912 which means that just about everything in it is original and belonged to the family. Like the Alcott sisters' dress-up clothes they used for their theatrics. I wanted to clutch everything to my bosom and lay down in her bed but they don't allow that sort of behavior. I settled on visiting her grave. She's buried up at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, very near Hawthorne, Emerson, and Thoreau. Do you like cemeteries? I think they're kind of nice.

2. We loved Cape Cod so much that we went there twice. It should be noted that the weather was perfection. Whenever I would tell people that I'd be in Massachusetts in August they'd gasp and say, "The humidity!"  and I don't doubt it but we did not have much. And I am a delicate flower who wilts in just a hint of moisture in the air so you can trust me that it wasn't bad. It was glorious for beach sitting and ice cream eating, of which we did a lot. Particularly at this place called Ice Cream Sandwich in the charming little town of Sandwich when you first cross into the cape. (Look at me, I just called it the cape, like I'm a local who has been eating lobster rolls her whole life. Fact, I ate my first lobster roll on this trip. Can I be honest with you and say that I don't get it. Lobster tastes like all other shell fish. And I think I may prefer shrimp. But this is not about lobster it's about ice cream on the cape.) This ice cream was so good that it was a driving factor of returning a few days later. When you go get the Sandy Neck flavor. It's graham cracker with little chocolate covered honey comb. Holy moly! But avoid Sandy Neck beach a few miles down like it is the plague. Because it may actually be that plague. It costs a fortune to park and it is nothing but a bunch of rocks and flies that bite. And it's on the bay side so the water is colder. Other than that bad decision everything about the Cape was perfect. 

3. Overheard at the Nobska Lighthouse from an 80 year old gentleman: "I used to come to Christmas parties here. The Commandant and I became good friends when we both belonged to the same platform tennis club." I mean, come on! Platform tennis withe Commandant?! What luxury. But when asked when this was he said 10 years ago, which was a disappointment. He talked about it like he had to trudge through the Mists of Time to retrieve the memory. 

We ate the best fish tacos of our lives sitting on the beach near the light house and watching the sun set. Luxury indeed.

4. Ah, the Gilded Age! Newport RI is the birthplace of American Elegant Leisure. The Tennis Hall of Fame is there, for crying out loud. We took a harbor cruise and looked at Jacqueline Kennedy's summer home of her youth and the church she was married in and then we toured Rosecliff, one of the many mansions on display, and I dreamed of descending the elegant staircase that was designed specifically for gliding in tulle. Only my imaginings always ended in me tumbling down, as that is what I usually do on stairs. But a girl can dream.

This is the Lady of the House. Doesn't it make you think of Rebecca? 

What a dump.

The Great Gatsby (Redford addition) was filmed at Rosecliff and from the lawn you can look across the harbor to a stretch of land that is not East Egg , but I still wanted to wait until dark to see if a light was shining from the dock at Daisy Buchanan's house.
5. I found myself getting a little claustrophobic there. There are so many trees! You know how when you drive down the highway here you can see things. Not so in Massachusetts. You see trees. Nothing but tall, tall trees. I remember the first time I was back east I was mesmerized by this and now I think it's just weird. How am I supposed to spot a gas station? Is this my exit? I'll never know because the trees all look the same! I have a very strong sense of direction and it was thrown all akimbo because of those trees. Although the lack of billboards was refreshing. And, let's get real, they're gorgeous. 

6. Other things:

There's a statue of Thoreau at Walden Pond. I promised him that if he let me hang out in his cabin in the woods I wouldn't say a word to him. We could be loners together.

Along with a red coat the British soldiers were issued a fanny pack. I'm not kidding, if they had sold this in the gift shop I would have bought it.

I did not buy the tri-cornered hat but I absolutley should have.

And I should have bought this hat of Elegant Leisure in the gift shop at Rosecliff.

We had planned to canoe down the Concord River but this was our hottest day and we were kind of spent. Which means I'm just going to have to go back.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

How to eat corn on the cob

At the Dodger game the other night a family filed into the row ahead of us somewhere around the 2nd inning. And the mom proceeded to pull out from her bag probably the most unorthodox of ballpark food:

Corn on the cob. 

She must have had 15 pieces in there. And everyone happily munched on it. Except for her. She would take a single kernel and twist it off and eat it. And she did this kernel after kernel, row after row until she was done. I get it, corn on the cob is tricky. But along with all that corn couldn't she have packed some toothpicks? Please tell me that one of you eats it the same way. Because that's just too kooky. And I would love you forever if you were adorably weird like that. She did not watch one minute of the game, she just ate her corn and kept pulling more corn out of her bag and handing it to her children. What a character!

Also at the Dodger game the guy behind us spilled his beer on Susie so he bought us all ice cream. Which I think is the only appropriate thing to do when you spill beer on someone. Beer spills happen at ballgames and it's basically the worst thing ever. And the only thing that could possibly make up for it is ice cream. And, I don't know, a thousand dollars because it's so gross. He was there with an Australian guy whom he met in the Uber pool over to the ballpark. They were both in from out of town and were going alone so they decided to sit together. That's cute, right?

We spent the day in the city since Camille, Sarah, and Pam were all in town. Incidentally, I think I came up with a good general route to take through downtown that hits a lot of high points and delicious food and does not require an outrageous amount of walking. I mean, you're going to get your exercise but it's totally manageable. I'll post it later. 

Once again I tried to meet the mayor. We walked into his office and the police officer at the front said he wasn't there. Guess where he was: Rio, putting in some work to get the Olympics here in 2024.  In general I feel like tax dollars are spent unwisely. But in this case I can't think of a better expenditure. 

There's this cool art installation at Pershing Square. We noticed it on the way to the Biltmore (note: if I take you to the Biltmore be prepared to sneak into the ballroom if the door is locked, which it often is. I say that if they don't want you in their gorgeous ballroom then they should put a lock on the service entrance that is hidden around a corner and behind a wall. If we get caught just say we were looking for a bathroom.)(Where was I? Pershing Square.) So this art installation is a giant kinetic sculpture made of thousands of mylar strips attached to a clear net that stretches across most of the square and it all sways in the wind like kelp in a current.
Photo Cred: Camille. Of course, because it's amazing.

It was so relaxing to sit under it. You should go see it and pretend you're an exotic sea creature.

Finally, as usual, we took them to the cathedral and we happened to run into a docent named Charles, who told us all sorts of interesting things. Like, that they baptize babies by immersion now. Is this for real? Or possible? Although we learned that questioning Charles or saying anything even slightly sassy (which was all the time with this group) would elicit a comedic eye roll and a "Dear Lord, please don't strike down these nice young ladies." He took us down to the mausoleum and showed us something special:

That's Charles pointing to his final resting place! He's going to be cremated and placed in that little box. It's already engraved. It says "Docent 'Just ask.'" Come on! That's the best.

Monday, August 1, 2016

It was only a minor heart attack

Well, we had a bit of a scare last night. Katie and I were sitting in the family room, watching an episode of the Great British Baking Show when a man walked into our home. Just walked right through the front door and into the family room like we we were expecting him. We did not know him and he would not leave.

This actually happened! Just last night! Holy cheese on toast it was so scary. We're fine, we were in no danger - although we did not know that. But it took an entire episode of watching the most charming British home bakers make frangipane tarts and vol-au-vents to calm us down. And also a quick google search to figure out what vol-au-vents are.

When I heard the door open I assumed it was Lindsay, even though we weren't expecting her. But she's the only person who would just walk in. The way the house is situated if you're in the family room you can't see who it is until they're inside the kitchen so it wasn't until the door was closed that I realized it was a man. He walked right into the family room, totally casual, and said hi. So I said, "Get out of my house!" I suppose I could have asked him who he was and what he wanted but friendliness did not cross my mind at the time. And he wasn't leaving. He just kept talking. He would say things like, "Oh, do you you want me to leave? How much are you going to pay me to leave?" and "Are you asking me to leave because I'm Mexican." Are you kidding me?! You're a strange man who just walked into a home that is not yours talking to two women you don't know who are clearly shocked and alarmed that you're there and this is what you say?! It would not have mattered if he were dressed like a priest carrying a puppy, I still would have hit him over the head with a cast iron skillet for strolling into my home. He wasn't threatening in that he didn't pull a gun or make a move that he was going to hurt us but like that matters. He didn't make a move to leave  either- even after we told him to many, many times - until after Katie called 911. That is threatening.

While Katie was on the phone I told him, "We're going to go to the door right now and you're going to leave," and he did. He walked out and on his way out said, "You girls should really keep this door locked."

Yes. Right you are, sir. Tomorrow we'll have steel doors installed.

It was as I was walking him out that I noticed all the cars out front and assumed that our neighbors were having a party and guessed that he had walked into the wrong home. And this was exactly the case. The police came (quickly, I might add. Thanks, Chino PD!) and found him outside and talked with him and our neighbors confirmed that they knew him. And then our neighbors came over and apologized all over themselves. They are the best neighbors and have lived next door for decades. Funny aside: twice in the next half hour the kids at the party kicked a ball over into our yard that they had to come and get and you could just tell from the mom's face that she was dying on the inside. I think I should make them a loaf of no-hard-feelings zucchini bread. They said he was a relative of a relative and that he was a little kooky. Which explains, slightly, why he was acting kind of weird. Except that it doesn't. Because this was clearly not a party and he didn't know us. I mean, yes, watching the Great British Baking Show is my idea of a night well spent, but there wasn't a streamer to be found. 

I wonder if he thinks we overreacted by screaming at him and calling the police. Like I care. He knew he was harmless but we did not and he didn't give us any indication that he was. All he had to say at any time was that he was there for a party, that he knew the neighbors, that he had made a mistake and then we would have nervously laughed and walked him to the door. But he didn't. He acted like he was settling in for a long night. And my only assumption was that we were in danger. All I could think about as he was standing there was how was I going to fight him off. Should I go for his eyes or his knee cap. What item of value could we offer him to get him out. We have the world's smallest TV, would that be enough? What if I threw in the $15 from my wallet? Does he just want to rob us? Rape? Kill? Is he mentally unstable? He doesn't seem mentally unstable. Or drunk. Should I try reasoning with him? What will he do to us? How quickly could I make it to the knife block if he went for Katie.


We're safe. We're fine. We were in no danger. Except for a heart attack. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sib Fest '016

This past weekend all of my siblings were together for the first time in nearly 4 years. It started with this:

And turned into this:

Sam, Gina, Casey Camille, Lindsay, Rachel, and Katie

Every family should have such a picture, right? I'm going to blow it up and frame it and hang it over my bed. I think we had just finished dancing to Bohemian Rhapsody. You can't tell but we are doing our best Freddie Mercury power stance. This was at our cousin Jared's wedding but it was basically nothing but rock n' roll and good times all weekend long.

We did make a quick trip to the beach and a longer trip around downtown LA, and then there was the wedding. But the best part of the weekend was just sitting around and laughing together. On Friday night we made boysenberry ice cream and watched ridiculous YouTube videos and sat around and laughed for hours until exhaustion hit and it was one of the happiest times I've ever had.

I recognized that it's a rare thing to grow up in a family of 8 kids (remember Erin). And that to most people it seems like a ton. But here's the funny thing. When we are all together I always get a sense of: Is this really all of us? Shouldn't there be more? And I'm not talking about all the people who weren't physically there (Casey's family were the only non-sibs present). It just always feels like there is so much joy and laughter and love that it should take dozens of people to generate it all. We are all keenly aware that to have this kind of relationship is special and I don't think any of us takes it for granted. Thus, the thumb-mic, power stance, joyful picture.

Here, have some more:

Addie and Graham Bone were part of the fun. Here's Graham trying to convince Boe to love him. Boe was skeptical.

I probably should not have put this first because you've no doubt died from the cuteness. Believe me, you don't even know the half of it. Graham is 100% grade A sunshine.

Once you've come back to your senses, here's Addie dancing at the reception.

Before the dancing even started she grabbed my hand and said, "Let's dance!" So we did for a good 20 minutes before anyone else came out to the floor. She just twirled and twirled all night long. That reception was a blast. And I generally loathe wedding receptions. I think they're usually a drag with bad cake to boot. But this was too much fun.

We went to Cantors after the temple and Casey ate a giant meat sandwich.

We also went to Cielito Lindo for taquitos the day before.

Of course we did. This is what Knechts do. Other things Knechts do: talk about maps and routes. Within hours of my two brothers being together they had already discussed a route to circumnavigate the eastern states by boat and the proposed expansion of the Metrolink gold line. 

Here's Addie adoring a taquito.

On our trip to downtown we went to City Hall to check out the view but also made it to the third floor, which I had never been to. And it is a beauty! How have I missed it all the times I've been? The mayor's office is on that floor and Sam and I went in to see if we could meet him. Why not? He wasn't in but the walls were covered with enormous pictures of him in front of iconic places. Which cracked me up. He's a good looking man, sure. But it looked like it was straight out of his portfolio from America's Next Top Model: Civil Servant Edition

Speaking of America's Next Top Model:

We took advantage of not being in stretchy pants and had Kylea snap a few pictures. That's going on the piano for sure.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The confetti cannons bursting in air

The Fourth of July is the best, right? It's like Christmas but you don't have to shop. And it's warm so you can go out and play a heated game of croquet, which we did. And there's home made ice cream and fireworks and you're surrounded by some of your favorite people. And the whole day is infused with that warm glow of patriotism - even in these dark, dark days of a vile, hateful, badly coiffed rock and a hard place with her own email server. As I stood in the church parking lot at 8 in the morning and watched the scouts raise the flag and marveled at how everyone has Americana attire I felt cheery and blessed. It's a pretty great place we live in.

And I kept that feeling all the way up to about 10 P.M. when I turned into a super crank  and nearly yelled out the window, "ENOUGH WITH THE FIREWORKS! GO TO BED, YOU DUMB HOOLIGANS!" They have been going off in our neighborhood for about two weeks now and it was crazy town on Monday night. Like, until midnight. And someone shot off a confetti cannon right in front of our house and our lawn looked like Mardi Gras threw up on it. Now, no one loves a confetti cannon more than I. I am nothing if not a confetti cannon enthusiast. I am, in fact, a little sad I missed it. However, I've never had to clean up after one. I'm glad the neighbors had a great time. But what was I to do with all this confetti in the grass?

This is how I ended up vacuuming my lawn. I got out the shop vac and sucked up all the little pieces like a mad woman. Mr. Across the Street was out as I was doing it but I'm sure he did not think I was crazy because he rakes his lawn every single morning. I'm sure that he understands that desperate times call for desperate measures. It had to have been kind of a funny sight though. But I didn't want to leave it because for one thing it looked trashy. And for another thing, I didn't want our gardeners to have to take care of it. I really love our gardeners. All they're supposed to do it mow and edge the lawns but they do so much more. They weed my vegetable garden, they prune the palm trees, they even take in our trash cans. I really didn't want them to have to deal with confetti. So I vacuumed the grass. It worked like a charm. And what I missed the sprinklers should dissolve in the morning.

And because my neighborhood is still shooting off the odd firework I think it's fine to post a patriotic song. Possibly the greatest of them all.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The smoking barrel

Prepare yourself for what you are about to see:

Oh, that's just me shooting a gun.

I know what you're thinking.  That I was abducted by a duck hunting cult. But I wasn't! I can see how you would come to that conclusion considering my stance on guns. But I try to be reasonable about this, that guns are out there and plenty of good, responsible, not-dumb non-killers own them. And I should be less terrified of them because, to quote Fran from Strictly Ballroom, "A life lived in fear is a life half lived." Not that I'm going to go out an buy one, but I shouldn't cower at the thought of them.

So when Jim, a guy in my ward and a gun enthusiast, invited me and Katie out to go skeet shooting I thought I would be brave and go. Plus, it sounded like fun.

And it totally was! I get why people do it. Yelling, "PULL!" and then firing is kind of thrilling. And we went to the Olympic shooting range out at Prado. I shot where the Olympians shot! The metal podiums are still there! I can't believe I did not get a picture with me standing on them. I'm such a dummy. Next time. There's still a chance that the Olympics will be back in LA in 2024 (oh, please, please, please, please, please! Although shooting won't be at Prado. I know this because I just spent the last 20 minutes looking over the bid and then another 20 minutes imagining me being named #1 Super Star Volunteer of the 2024 Olympic Games.) in which case I can go to the shooting competition and chat with the athletes because I will be an expert by then. I was an okay shot for my first time. Not great, but I didn't totally embarrass myself. My goals was to hit at least one and I far surpassed that. I got bunches of those clay pigeons. Katie did even better.

I would like to say farewell to my right arm though. It was a good 40 year run with it but I'm going to have to have it amputated because HOLY CATS IT'S PAINFUL TO SHOOT. This was not a surprise. Everyone who shoots says this. But that doesn't make the pain go away. Or the welts. Or the bruises that will follow. But I'll carry them as mementos of this day.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Get out of my head, Charles Dickens!

1. I hate to break it to everyone but that Strawberry Moon everyone was talking about the other night may not have been special and rare for the reason they thought it was special and rare. We get a Strawberry Moon every June. That's just the name of the full moon in June. March is the Worm Moon. October is the Hunter's Moon. Any red or pink tint to it was just plain old pollution. Or in our case, smoke. What made this particular Strawberry Moon special was that it came on the summer solstice. That is the rare and special bit. Which means it was the perfect time to get all those pagan rituals checked off your to-do list.

2. I finally got around to changing two sprinkler on the back yard. I've changed one before and it was surprisingly simple so I figured I could do it in a jiff. And I would have, except that when I was unscrewing the broken sprinkler the thingy that it screws into that connects it to the pipe broke off inside of it, thus necessitating: 1. digging an enormous hole around the pipe and what remained of the broken thingy, 2. trying every wrench in the tool chest to get the broken thingy off, 3. driving down to Home Depot with the sprinkler and the broken thingy in a bag, 4. running into my home teacher and go-to gardening guy Rex IN THE SPRINKLER AISLE of all places and 5. having him point out all the things I would need plus getting some helpful tips from him on sprinkler maintenance.  After some minor issues with the new sprinklers (lesson learned: get the kind with the screw-on top) I was good and muddy and the grass is now getting plenty of water. Look at all the things I am learning! Six months ago all I could tell you about sprinklers was that you should avoid running over them with a law mower and now I know all sorts of interesting things. Like, for example, the thingy is called a riser and it is used to adjust the height of your sprinkler in relation to the pipe.

3. I finished Bleakhouse by Charles Dickens. This took my entire life to read. It was 850 pages of the smallest print imaginable. It's basically the size of the Old Testament. But I loved it and miss it because it has been my friend for many weeks. And also because I think I may be the reincarnate Dickens. And here's why. His character Esther said, "I sobbed a little still, but that was because I had been crying, not because I was crying then." THIS IS MY CONDITION! How many times have I cried because I had been crying? Hundreds of times! Crying begets crying. People who don't have this happen to them don't understand this phenomenon but Dickens clearly does. There were many, many times throughout the book where I would sigh and say, "Dickens just gets me." I suppose this is what makes a good writer. The good ones can tell a story far outside your realm and yet connect with you with feelings you recognize instantly. Geez, Dickens. Come back to life so you can be my boyfriend.

4. Joe Cocker's "Feeling'Alright" came on my iTunes this morning, which is always a treat because I love it, and for the first time I noticed the cover art for the album. Prepare yourself:

What is even going on here? There was a meeting, I'm sure. Producers and executives and agents and probably even Joe were sitting around a studio conference room and all of them were like, "I think we should go with the picture where he looks like a cross between Baby Huey and Dr. Frankenfurter." The thing is, this is a pretty accurate depiction of what he looks like when he performs. I always feel super awkward watching him. I won't make you. I'll just post this video of the song with some psychedelic visuals. Let's get your weekend started off right.