Monday, June 29, 2015

A World of Pure Imagination

The Music Center is not having any summer sing-alongs this year. Naturally, I am outraged and have already sent a strongly worded letter informing them that they have ruined summer. I live for those sing-alongs! When I took the Art Society on our LA adventure a few weeks ago we went to the Disney Concert Hall and while the kids ran around like hooligans banging sticks on handrails I sat in the outdoor amphitheater where so many summer nights were spent singing and dancing and watching Mock Turtleneck Guy really get into it. Woe to lost summer fun!

But, on the cheerier side, the city is full of fun things to do. Namely: a viewing of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at the Orpheum Theater in downtown LA, which the sisters and I attended last week. You guys, this theater is a stunner. A real show-stopper. It is so grand inside. It's like the Julie Andrews of theaters. And they have the original Wurlitzer organ from 1926. You know I really love a Wurlitzer. The lobby was amazing, the ceilings and chandeliers were gorgeous. There is a lounge downstairs with dark wood paneling and cushy chairs and a fireplace and you can totally imagine the swanky folks coming down for a smoke at intermission. There was also an elevator that had to be manually run. History, right?

Do you know what's great about watching a movie like that in a beautiful place? Everyone is thrilled to be there. They laugh loudly at all the great lines and clap when Charlie finds the golden ticket. I mean, it's like we didn't even know he was going to get it. "You did it Charlie! What absolute luck." "Did Grandpa Joe just get out of bed? It's a miracle!" "I can't believe Augustus fell into the chocolate! What a doofus." "Why did they drink that fizzy lifting drink?! Why?!" That's how excited we were. All that velvet kind of gets to you.

But there was one person not thrilled to be there. The kid sitting in front of me. That kid was bored out of his mind. He could not sit still. In fact, at one point he leaned over to his sister (okay, like every 3 minutes) and said, "I can't sit still!" And then I leaned over to my sister and said, "These kids are driving me crazy." Violet turning into a blueberry couldn't even distract him from his quest to be the Most Fidgety Boy in All the Land. So a lot of my view was obstructed by his moppy head. I felt bad for the kid. Clearly his mom misjudged the event. Although, what exactly about an old, weird film from the 70s in a regal old theater preceded by a discussion with the director's adult children moderated by an NPR host beginning at 8:30 pm with tickets costing $20 each screams your 8 year old ADD son? Don't subject your kid to such a thing! And don't subject the freakishly short woman sitting behind him to such a thing either! (Parents, don't get cranky with me. Remember that I'm a childless spinster with Opinions. Also, I am not wrong about this.)

But, regardless of the poor monkey in front of me, it was a blast. Can you believe that Charlie got the whole factory? 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Das Boot

For the first time in the 8 years that I've had this blog I accidentally hit "publish" on a barely-begun post. And I didn't realize for days until someone commented with a "What?" So, sorry about that. But here's what I was going to say:

If you're on a luxury ocean liner that has been torpedoed by a U-boat you put your life vest on pronto! I just read Dead Wake about the sinking of the Lusitania and guys, do me a favor and get the heck off that ship. Chances are the life boats will be gummed up somehow and some crazed old man is going to shove you off anyway so you have a better chance of just jumping overboard and swimming for your life. Or waiting for the few manageable life boats to launch and catching a ride with them once you're both in the water. Just get away from that boat, okay. Don't be a dummy. Many people on her were like, "Hmm, was that a torpedo that just struck us? La la la. This boat won't sink. It's unsinkable! We're just going to float to shore. Who needs a life vest? I sure don't." Who in the world thinks that their boat with a gaping hole in the starboard bow is not going to sink? Now, granted, they don't always. Several ships have survived torpedoes. But for the love of all that is good in the world, don't risk it!

Here's something to cheer you up and give you hope should you find yourself in similar straits: three people were actually sucked into the funnels as she went down but the cold water hitting the hot coals created a bit of a steamy explosion and it SHOT THEM BACK OUT INTO THE DRINK. All three survived and told the same story and were covered in oily soot as proof.

So, great book. I find if somewhat difficult reading non-fiction that I know the ending to. Like, I knew that she was going to sink and I just kept waiting for it to happen. But when it did I wanted it to be over because oh, it was horrible. And riveting. You'll learn so much about submarines and maritime customs and German warfare (read: sneaky and conniving and low. Captain von Trapp (the real one, although I clearly pictured Christopher Plummer) is quoted in the book as saying how cowardly he felt captaining a u-boat and asked to be transferred. What a hero.) And for a brief time you'll wish that you were strolling the deck of the Queen Mary II. In peaceful times, of course.

In other news, we did, in fact pass the 8 year mark last week for this slice of heaven. Happy anniversary to me and you and this silly little blog.  I so appreciate that you still read and laugh with me.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My new all-fruit (ice cream) diet

1. I'm in an ice cream-making mood. I have strawberry balsamic chilling right now and I have some apricots that I want to use. What would taste good with apricots? Maybe ginger? This seems like a smart way to get more fruits into my diet. You're all welcome to come over and share. 

2. My sprained finger is still wonky. Like, typing this hurts but I can manage because the k, i, and comma aren't too common. I've been wearing a splint for 10 days now and the swelling is still just as bad but I've gotten emails from both the doctor and the radiologist saying there are no breaks or tears so I've determined that it's cancer and I'm dying. Farewell.

3. You should watch "Antarctica: A Year on Ice" on Netflix if only to really make you love where you live. Which is not Antarctica. I am totally fascinated by people who choose to live there. Particularly over the winter. That seems like a hellish nightmare. No sun for four months and below zero temps and no Target and you can't leave. But people do it. And, minus the ability to handle temperatures below 50 degrees, they seem like my kind of people. The social loner type. They like people, they just don't want to be around people too much. There's a scene where the new crop of summer folks start arriving and the winter-overs hide out in their rooms because they're overwhelmed. Like I haven't done that before. 

4. It was an Art Society Weekend. We needed to squeeze some fun in before they headed off for their summer in Utah. I took the older kids and their cousin for an LA adventure on Friday and then took Sammy on a date on Saturday since she was too little for LA and then I had them all over to swim afterwards to give Heather some time to breathe and pack. These kids are just too much.

Samantha is the perfect date. All she wanted was ice cream and a trip to Funky Town (the dollar store).

We did many things in LA but we finished at the splash pad in Grand Park. Highlight of their day.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I only mean it for some of you

Things I've told people who have asked how I sprained my middle finger because the actual story is both complicated and boring:

1. Road rage
2. Gravity
3. A rumble
4. Bear fight
5. Nun-chucking accident
6. Running from the law

Not a single person has said, "No really. How?" Which is just terrific.

Things that are difficult to do with a splinted finger other than the obvious ones:

1. Turning my steering wheel without turning on my wipers
2. Not inadvertently flipping people off

Sorry everyone.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dial M for Murder

Well, I've just spent the last 2 hours in an internet wormhole. It started, as things often do, with Sam Maloof - world renown woodworker and native son of Chino. He made his home and workshop in Rancho Cucamonga but it was later moved to Alta Loma, at the very top of Carnelian, when the 210 freeway was extended. I actually think that's when I first heard about him, when an article ran in some newspaper back in the 90s about what they were going to do with his home because it was on the National Register of Historic Places. And then he was on the PBS show "Craft in America" and gosh I love that show. I love things that are beautiful, functional, and handmade and I love people who just say, you know what, I'm going to make artsy metal gates for the rest of my life so there!

Anyway, Sam Maloof. My dad and I went up to his home for a tour. He's been dead for a few years but his apprentices still run the workshop and his home has been turned into a museum. And folks, you should visit. His pieces are amazing and you can touch all of them, which is always my one true wish in a museum. Here, look. (The website doesn't show the prices but we saw the price list at the showroom and his famous rocker is $28,000. Start saving your shekels, kids.) We were on the tour with several other people including some Brits and a couple of women who seemed to be having a religious experience. They capital-L Loved that tour. And at the end, when we got to sit in one of his chairs, they kind of floated above it and closed their eyes and rubbed the arms and sighed. In their defense, it was a really comfortable wooded chair. And I don't say that lightly because most chairs are uncomfortable for me due to my Freakishly Short Leg Syndrome.

So here's where I veered off tonight. The Maloof Home is in the same neighborhood where a murder happened back in 1964. A woman drove her husband's black VW bug, with her husband taking a self-medicated nap in the back, into the wash and lit it on fire (local friends, it's where Banyan and Sapphire meet.) The place is nothing but houses now but back then it was all lemon groves so the car burned for an hour before she eventually went for help and claimed it was an accident. I know about this grizzly bit of local history because Joan Didion wrote about it and the ensuing trial in her essay Some Dreamers of the Golden DreamI came across it several years ago at the same time I was attending church in a building just a few blocks south of it on Sapphire. It was a weird experience reading an essay written in a different time by a famous author and seeing street names that were familiar to me. And now every time I'm up that way I think of that murder and that essay. But I also think of church and the friends who live there and the lovely display of Christmas lights the neighborhood puts on each year. I wonder if they know about the murder.

I reread it tonight (it's long and juicy). And that's where the wormhole began. Because then I read an essay about the essay. And then an essay written by the daughter of the couple. All of it tragic. And now my mind is filled with intrigue and murder and I'm going to have to watch an episode of Parks and Rec before bed to put the Blue Bird of Happiness back in the old heart. You guys, don't murder your husband, okay? No good will come of it.

But do go to the Maloof House.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

That flower crown is going to make you look so old!

Well, that was a good run. I've lost the ability to write. It's gone. Gone! My one talent, frittered away.

I shouldn't be so dramatic. This happens from time to time. In fact, I know you can find very similar posts to this one if you go back a ways. Normally I just have to write garbage for a few months and then it comes back, like a flowering weed sprouting out of a crack in the asphalt. But for now, I'm stuck.

As usual, I will now list things I have started writing about and then deleted because how much do I love you (too much):

1. The freckles on my eyelids
2. The state of my office windows after the kids have pressed their hands and faces against them.
3. Twice-baked potatoes
4. The license plate I saw this morning - NYYJTR2 (Yankees drool!)(But Jeter is great) (There, I said it.)
5. Bumper stickers I would not put on my car
6. What is the evolutionary reason behind fast-growing fingernails?

Oh, geez. I've lost it.

But here's something pointless that I was going to write at length about but will now simply give an abbreviated commentary:  flower crowns.

Have you noticed that they're everywhere? Particularly in bridal parties. And while I think there's something a little sweet about them, and I've seen a few that I think look lovely, I'm convinced they're really going to date us. Like, they're going to become this generation's version of this:

Pray that the weed sprouts soon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Graham Cracker

1. I have a new nephew! Graham Howard Knecht was born yesterday to Casey and Kylea. Graham after the cracker and Howard after my grandpa. Names I will  be calling him besides Graham Cracker: Graham Poobah, Graham Central Station, Grahammy Award Winning Polka King; Peanut Butter and Jelly Graham-wich; and "First you take the Graham..."

2. Katie got her masters degree on Saturday. Rejoice! She's been done since December but wanted to walk and be hooded. (The hood is such a weird thing, right?) It was a very happy day. But, like all graduations, it was long. And there was a woman sitting behind us during the ceremony who sounded like a five year old who had just ingested a weather balloon full of helium. She had the highest pitched voice I've ever heard. So imagine how funny it sounded when she asked her friends, "Hey, what should we do tonight? Let's get really drunk! I'm mean totally smashed." Also, she and her boyfriend were both loudly eating and sucking their fingers clean. At one point both Lindsay and I both did the old slow-head-turn-side-eye-sigh routine because it was so gross.

3. My 100 Days of Creating Space is going like gang-busters. It is so much fun looking over my shelves and choosing one thing that I'm done with and dropping it in the trash or Goodwill bag. So long book I only sort of enjoyed. Adios bag of costume jewelry I've never worn. So far it's all been things that are easy to part with. But I think the day will come when that is not the case. And yet I'm determined to stay the course. Do you ever wonder sometimes if you're just one mental illness away from being on Hoarders? I do have a place for everything and I have never see black mold or rat poop (oh sweet land of liberty, could you imagine?), but sometimes I feel positive that if I weren't of relatively sound mind I would be drowning in a sea of junk.

4. I've been daydreaming of a long road trip up the coast. I want to go to Salinas and lay flowers on Steinbeck's grave, I want to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. I want to eat cheese in Mendocino. I want to hug a redwood tree. I'm thinking August.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

100 Days of Creating Space

Have you heard of the 100 Day Project? You create something for 100 days. Like pictures of bunnies, or macrame plant hangers, whatever. Just create. I love the idea of this, especially with my seminary summer vacation looming. I have roughly 100 days between the end of this year and the beginning of next. Convenient! I tried to think of something creative to make (100 days of popsicle stick art would be great because it would also keep me in popsicles all summer) but here's what I keep coming back to: 100 days of creating space. I'm going to throw/give away 100 things this summer. Every day I'm going to pick one item that adds no value to my life and I'm getting rid of it. I'm not going to waste time trying to find it a new home. I'm just going to trash it or put it in a box which I will take to the Goodwill each week. I'll become best friends with the Goodwill people who will then alert me when a really choice punch bowl set comes in. Because a punch bowl set would definitely add value to my life.

This came to me when I looked into my closet yesterday and sighed. I sigh every time I open the door because there's just too much stuff. I always whisper, "I'm going to throw you all away someday." But the idea of spending a large chunk of time throwing things away overwhelms me. All the dust! And the heavy lifting! And the walks back and forth to the Dumpster! And the time spent trying to figure out what to watch on Netflix while I do it. I mean, I can't watch something new because I need to stay on task but how many times can a girl watch North and South (a lot). So I just can't. But I can definitely get rid of just one thing every day. That's easy.

In addition to this creating space business, I'm going to include creating a beautiful space. so maybe instead of getting rid of something I'm going to improve it. Like finally getting around to framing and hanging all of those pieces of art I have stacked up against the wall of my bedroom.

This all works beautifully with my plan to have an intentional summer. I don't want summer to just happen this year and then get to the end of it and wonder what have I done with all my glorious free time. Obviously there will be many days where I come home from work and just lounge, that's one of the joys, right. But come August I don't want to feel bad about not doing some of that lounging at the beach.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


The Knechts invaded Bear Lake in Utah for our very first immediate family reunion. Which is a weird concept, right? That we're to the point where we need scheduled reunions. I mean, we're all close and keep in good contact. But we're getting a bit spread out and we only seem to get together in small doses for purposes other than just spending time together. So someone suggested we rent a house with a pretty view and camp out for a few days for quality time and hootenannies and cookie making and head size comparisons. 'Tis the Knecht Way.

And, you guys, it was very nearly perfect. The non-perfect part was that Casey, Kylea, and Addie could not make it. They tried. Tickets were purchased and both doctor and airline gave approval for a very pregnant Kylea to fly. But Baby Boy Knecht had other plans and Kylea had hours of contractions the night before and they decided to not risk giving birth in Montpelier, ID. Oh, we were so sad. I mean, really, truly bummed out. I'm still sad about it. There were some tears shed. But these things happen. (Still no baby, by the way. Get here already!)

We found a great house about a quarter of a mile up the hill from the lake. It was called Valhalla and every room had some kind of Norwegian theme, which naturally cracked us up. Lindsay and I stayed in the troll room. The mattresses were stone hard. I mean, it was like sleeping on sheet rock with a thin layer of cotton balls over it. Every morning we would all talk about how this must be the Norwegian way of sleeping. But other then that the place was perfect.

Here's the view from the porch:
I mean, come on! Are we in Green Gables looking out on the Lake of Shining Waters?

We would sit out on that porch for hours and just laugh. My dad took a walk down that little road and he said as he was walking back up he could hear us laughing all the way down at the lake.

We played games and painted (this has, unexpectedly, become a new thing we do) and cooked and sang (Sam and Stacy brought their keyboard), and danced. We had a devotional every night that brought a lot of tears and good feelings. The nieces and nephews made us laugh. Baby Phoebe, (Pork Bun Jr.) charmed us all with her giggles. It was all just so lovely.

Tom created a peanut butter and cheese puff sandwich. Genius!

Levi, Eliza, Tom, and Ben - Local Street Tuffs. 

We drove up to the north end of the lake to throw rocks into it. There is real joy in throwing rocks into bodies of water.

Family stroll.

This little pond was a hit because of the rock throwing possibilities. 

Yes we did make matching t-shirts. You so wish you were a Knecht right now.

Aunt B carried this child up that hill like a beast.

 Hooray for being a Knecht!

Monday, May 4, 2015

All the technology I need

The microwave at the Institute is broken. It appears that someone cooked some metal because there's a scorch mark in the back. It's been a real blow to our fair youth. All day they came to me in despair, "How am I supposed to heat up my lunch?" When I suggested they can use more old-timey means, like the oven or stove, they seemed truly dejected. But any kid who tried it would walk out of the kitchen like a super hero. We're tapping into our pioneer roots over there.

This got us on the topic of technology and what we can and cannot live without. Like, what's the farthest back you could go before you felt like you were living in the dark ages. For me, it's whenever flushing toilets came into existence. I would not be able to abide by chamber pots or outhouses. So about the late 1800s. (You guys, you have GOT to read the Wikipedia page on flushing toilets. It is a wealth of interesting facts!) This is fortunate because I would also need transportation other than a horse and buggy for long distances. I don't think I could handle the slow pace of a wagon train.

This got me thinking about the internet and how the majority of people I associate with on a daily basis have never lived in a time when the internet did not exist. I sent my first email my freshman year of college so I have many pre-internet years to recall. They weren't bad times. We were all quite happy in our ignorance. That's the nice thing about technology, you don't know what you're missing until it's there.

Except that I am keenly aware that we don't have jet packs. Weren't we supposed to have them by now? NASA announced last week that it had a successful go with a thing-a-majiggy that looks to be the early, early, early, early hints of warp drive. This is a plus for humanity because we're never going to get anywhere in space exploration without warp drive. I had several conversations at work with like-minded nerds about this. All of whom were born after the internet.

I'm rambling. To sum up: warp drives and flushing toilets appear to be all I need.