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.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tell it to my heart

1. Have you noticed a spike in weepiness lately? I was talking with Katie last night and we both mentioned that emotions have been running high. I'm no gauge for such things because my constant state fluctuations somewhere between On the Verge and Openly Weeping. But there is something in the air. I've had kids in my office all week sitting on my couch trying to keep it together. Is it this heat? Is it the the drought? Is it Baltimore? Do we all need to take naps and eat restorative toast? Maybe we're due for a collective viewing of Shadowlands and just let it all out.

2. The song currently stuck in my head is "Tell It To My Heart" by Taylor Dayne. I don't know, ok. Who knows how these things happen. But it's been in my head all day. And that's fine because it reminds me of that great piece that Tig Notaro did on This American Life about meeting Taylor Dayne. (It's long. But it is so funny.)

3. Did you hear what Stephen Hawking had to say about Zayn from One Direction? If this doesn't turn our mood around nothing will.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Just Put Them In Your Pocket!

Did you know that approximately 44,000 cars were stolen last year because people left the keys in them. And it's assumed that the number could be higher because those are just the reported ones. Think of the people who were all, "I don't know officer, my car was just gone," knowing all along that they were the dummies who practically handed the criminals the keys. Who in the world leaves their keys in the car?! If you take the 44,000 reported, plus the number not reported, plus all the people who leave their keys in the car and nothing happens, that's a lot of people who are doing things out in the world like voting for elected officials. The same people who leave their keys in the car are going to be voting for the president next year. Even if we chalked up half of those reported as just sheer spaciness - who hasn't locked their keys in the car? I've done it two days in a row - that's still a minimum of 22,000 who choose to do it and think, "Well, I'll just get them later." I blame skinny jeans. They're so tight and people can't fit keys in the pockets so they just opt to leave them in the car.

While we're on the topic, let's talk about this rather aggressive campaign that's going on around here to educate people on what to do when they see a downed wire. Now, common sense would tell you to back up off of that thing, right? But clearly there have been so many people who have actually grabbed one that all over the Los Angeles area, and on her airwaves, there are messages warning people to stay away from it and call 911. First I'm wondering how often this happens. I don't know that I've ever seen a downed wire, and I'm as old as dirt. Second, do people just think that those wires are there merely to hold flocks of starlings? Like they don't have a gajillion volts of electricity running through them? How many people had to grab one before someone at the Downed Wire Association said, "Well, I guess we're going to have to put up signs on every other block because these dimwits keep touching them." Can we blame skinny jeans for this one too? A lack of oxygen to the brain, perhaps?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Feel Good

Here's your feel-good story of the day:

A car got towed from the Institute parking lot this morning and then about an hour later the owner came in. He was in a panic and also deaf. Spenser, who knows sign language (and who was not supposed to be there at that time), was in my office and started translating for him. The panic wasn't just for his car. He had a job interview in 15 minutes and the clothes he was going to wear for it were in the car, now sitting in an impound lot 10 miles away. So no car and no clothes. Spenser and Meke offered to take him to his home to get some clothes, then to the interview, then back to the Institute. Meanwhile, I called the tow company and asked them to release his car, no charge, even though he was parked illegally, thanks to Jackie who said, "Let's do something nice today." Then the tow company called me and said they would just bring the car to us rather than make him come pick it up. So the kid came back to his car waiting for him. And he got the job.

I love that my kids at the Institute are such sweethearts. And I love that God's hand is in every detail. Even when you make a mistake and park illegally.

Monday, April 20, 2015

This Jonah Day

I was gone for most of the day on Saturday and when I came home I had only about five minutes to freshen up (read: put on stretchy pants) and pour out some sour watermelon candies because the Art Society was coming over for a Harry Potter 7 marathon. And in the midst of this rushing Katie said to me, "We haven't talked about Gil yet." To which I replied, "Gil? Like Gil, Gil?" (as if there is any other) and she said, "Yes. He died."

What I wanted to do was have a good cry, because 1.) how tragic, and 2.) wo to my lost youth! But instead I went and emptied the trash in my bathroom because what else are you supposed to do when you have guests coming over and you've just found out that your very first movie crush has died. There was no time for the depths of despair.

I was trying to explain to an Institute student why it's so sad. I was trying to come up with a touchstone of this generation to compare it to. Someone who embodied every thirteen year old girl's ideal of the perfect guy. And I just don't think one exists. Gilbert Blythe had everything a girl could want. He was supportive, attentive, flirty, smart, ambitious, and was cute and looked great in a suit.

I'm calling for a International Day of Mourning. And, as with all things in life, we will ask the question: What would Anne Shirley do? Anne would spend a lot of time crying up in her room. And then Marilla would come in and tell her to buck up. So she would wash her face and put on a simple dress that she would look bewitching in (puff sleeves are only for special occasions like Christmas concerts) and take to the woods to collect wild flowers that she would keep in a basket she fashioned out of reeds and ferns. This would be followed by a few verses of poetry recited into the breeze then a restorative cry while lying on a soft bed of moss. Naturally she would give that bed of moss a name like The Sacred Hollow of Remembrance and she would vow to return to it every year in his memory.

This all seems appropriate. So meet me at the Lake of Shining Waters for your black arm band and have your poem ready. And until then, watch this (like you haven't watched this scene a million times):

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Choice of America

Today I woke up with a head ache, sliced my thumb while cutting tomatoes, smashed my finger in a door, and had cramps. Which is to say that by about 2 pm I was a wreck. So it should come as no surprise that I went home and crawled into bed and watched Enchanted April and wept a little over the sad fact that I didn't have ice cream in my home. I felt much better after that. Enchanted April and a light weeping does it for me every time.

You know what else does it for me? Ads from the 90s.  Camille tipped me off to this Sizzlers franchise pitch from 1991:

On which Casey commented:  "It's a restaurant in a restaurant in a tote filled with vegetarian chili", referencing the classic SNL Taco Town commercial:

That comment make me snort laugh for about five minutes. Thanks, Caswell.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Let's have a talk, Rory.

Let's talk about Rory Gilmore's boyfriends for a sec:

1. Dean - Colossal whiner and all-around wet rag. Also, he's a bit of a hunchback with floppy bangs. Why can't you just stand up straight Dean? I know you're a giant but posture is everything. And further more, cheaters are gross. (Rory.)
2. Jess - Mean, grumpy, sullen, moody, annoying, grunting bane of Stars Hollow. Didn't we all cheer when he skulked away on the bus? (I will give Jess half of a nod for coming back in later seasons with a lot fewer caveman qualities. But still the bitter taste lingers.)
3. Logan - Entitled, bossy, condescending, also a bit of a hunchback. The last season was a joke but it ended on a high note for me if only because she gives him the kind but firm heave-ho.

I've been a fan of Gilmore Girls since the beginning so watching it on Netflix is nothing new. But watching it in such rapid fire succession has only illustrated that Rory needs a serious boyfriend intervention. How does such a smart, capable gal end up with such bums? I'm relieved that Lorelai was never fully on board with any of them. Like, what's a mom to do but give them the old side-eye and hope for the best.

I bet we can all agree on one thing - she should have given Naked Guy Marty a chance.