Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Backyard Mysteries

1. Mystery of My Backyard Part 1: My sprinkler system is acting screwy - sprinkler heads are exploding in the pre-dawn hours - and I have no earthly idea how to fix it. Almost always I can figure manual stuff out with the help of Google but this one has me stumped. So I'm back to manually turning on the sprinklers like it's 1995. Any ideas as to why I can turn them on manually and they work like champs but when the system is running they explode? Two mornings in a run I woke up at 4:45 to geysers in the back yard and had to scale a rickety old step ladder to turn off the outside water valve. I didn't even know there was such as thing as an outside water valve. I had to call my dad.

2. Mystery of My Backyard Part 2: Should I be concerned that there are cigarette butts in my backyard? I found two tonight whilst watering my plants. There are a few explanations. 1. My gardeners smoke. I'll ask. Although this seems unlikely that they would go through all the trouble to make my yard look so nice just to throw butts on it. 2. My neighbor is throwing them over the fence. I have often found butts in the front yard on the side that borders our neighbor's lawn. It would explain one that was close to the fence but not the one I found in the middle of the yard. That is some flick he has. 3. Someone is wandering the school yard behind our house and tossing them over. This seems possible, right? 4. (Yikes) Someone is coming into my backyard and smoking. Oh, geez. Let's change the subject.

3. Seminary has been out for a whole month and as usual I feel flushed with free time. The days are longer and I can stay up past 9 and I don't have to prepare a lesson every single night. On the days that I'm not teaching piano I have hours of free time after I get home from work. It's amazing! I have been mostly filling that time up with Lady of Elegant Leisure activities like reading and drawing and writing and sewing and practicing my calligraphy and learning Italian on Duo Lingo (Il cavallo mangia la mela) and shopping for caftans. Would anyone like a coin purse. I can't stop sewing them. Or a book recommendation? The Secret Diary of Charlotte Bronte (her life was so tragic, I can't stand it!!!)

4. And now for a harrowing tale. The other night I was sitting in my reading chair in my room when I felt what I thought was a strand of hair on my collar bone. I swiped it away but still felt something so I looked down and saw what could only be (so my gut told me) spider legs on my chest. But I couldn't see the other part of the spider so I gingerly peeked inside my shirt and there was the rest of him. There was a dead spider in my cleavage! In my swiping I must have killed and partially amputated him. Oh, the absolute horror! I did not scream. But I did hyperventilate. For several minutes. Let's change the subject again.

5. Every June the LA Conservancy shows classic films in the fabulous old movie theaters in downtown. It is maybe one of the coolest things you can do here. On Saturday Liz and I went down to the Los Angeles Theater, which is my absolute favorite (you have GOT to see this ladies room), to watch Easter Parade. It was a glorious night. And not just because we got free donuts at the Nickle Diner beforehand. The next day I found myself in a Fred Astaire YouTube wormhole. Here, watch him be amazing:

Monday, May 22, 2017

An Old Lady Review of Anne with an E


On the weekend that the Netflix "Anne with an E" came out I received no fewer than 8 texts from people asking if I had watched it. My love for Anne Shirley is deep and well known. And I'm happy about that. 

Confess, when you heard that they were making another adaptation you were a little apprehensive, right? I certainly was. Because the books are so dear to me, and the 1980s adaptations are so good, I knew that I would be nostalgic about it and would probably compare too much. But as comparison is the thief of joy I went into it trying my best to be open minded and embrace another retelling.

But I soon found that in order to do that I had to completely separate the Anne that I know from what I was watching. And then I could handle it. Because, you guys, it's different. Like an elephant and a flat head screw driver are different. And even after separating it I thought it was just an okay show. It is very heavy-handed. It never missed an opportunity to hit you over the head with a visual metaphor. For example, in the episode when Anne gets her period (yep, we get to see Anne freak out as she washes her bloody drawers. It's accurate.) Marilla and Rachel Lynde are discussing it with their hands deep in red berries. At Gilbert's dad's funeral (yep, Gilbert is an orphan too. Because you can't expect us to believe that they would fall in love unless they're both sad.) it starts to snow and Gil catches a snowflake and it melts in his palm and slides down just like a tear. This is not a subtle show. There were definitely moments of sweetness. Matthew can't help but be a dear and both he and Marilla have back stories alluded to that were compelling. But as a show I could take it or leave it.

But here's what I can't take. You know how Anne is awesome? How she's always able to turn things around with her charm and her smarts and positive attitude? How she stands up for herself but does so in a way that is natural and pure and then everyone except for Josie Pye is all, "Oh Anne, you're right"? How she's sometimes too passionate and a little weird but still lovable? How she loves nature and beauty and looks for it everywhere and shares it with everyone? How she makes mistakes and laments for a bit and then moves on? How she's not perfect but tries. How she's generous and kind to everyone and when she isn't she recognizes it and tries to change? How she's just generally good and happy despite some really tough trials? That's not this Anne. This Anne is unhinged. This Anne is all about the fight. She will fight and demand and lie and belittle. Sure she quotes poetry, but she does so like her life depends on it. She has to fight to make friends, she has to fight to stay at Green Gables, she has to fight against the stigma of being an orphan. They're all against her and it is nothing but fight. And it's exhausting and entirely joyless.

This is an adaptation very much influenced by the times we live in. And boy does it want you to know that it is current and modern and aware of our problems. Every adaptation is influenced by the times. This is nothing new. But this seemed to pick every single current hot button topic and shove it in your face. Global warming was mentioned in the first episode. Marilla attends a feminist book club, making you think that Avonlea must be a hotbed of progressive thought if it weren't for the Patriarchy. She hyphenates her name "Anne Shirley-Cuthbert". Period-shaming: check. PTSD: check. Sexual assault: check. And Great Aunt Josephine is a lesbian. There is a lot of reading between the lines and some of it I found kind of interesting but most of it I felt was too much. I do not deny that all of these things were part of those times. They just were never much a part of Anne. I felt like it came at the great expense of the joy that has always been a part of those stories. You will not get any rambles through the woods here because everyone is so busy standing up for their principles. Also, the whole thing is set in winter lest we forget how difficult the road is for her. She is literally slogging through life. (In cute boots. I liked the costumes.)

I suppose what really gets me down is that lots of young girls are going to watch this and think that this is what Anne is all about. The Fight. It bothers me that it tries so hard to make Anne into a heroine by doing even more extraordinary things. That the character that was created a hundred years ago and has been loved and admired by every generation suddenly needs to become something more because it's not enough for these times we live in. It is not enough that she was academically gifted and socially invested, or that she went to college and had a career and was a published author. In this day she needs to be a warrior and a survivor which leaves little room for the things that have made her special all along. They've tried to turn her into a feminist icon when she always has been.

I was disappointed.

But I will give it this: in that period episode Anne shouts out, "Years?! Every month?!" It does not matter how much you changer her, Anne still speaks for all of our hearts.
Here. Because you need it.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Get your hobbyhorse ready

1. A motorcycle past me on the freeway the other day. The rider had on a leather jacket with foot-long fringe running down the length of the sleeves. There was also fringe on the end of his handlebars and fringe on his side bags. It was very reminiscent of one of those dogs that look like a mop. On my drive home that same day I saw an ice cream truck with a very terrifying snake coiled around a tree branch with its mouth wipe open, fangs dripping with venom, ready to eat your child whole. I ask you, as a parent, would you let your child buy her choco-taco from such a proprietor?  Look, you don't have to put balloons and cartoon characters on your ice cream truck if you don't want to. But maybe rethink the poisonous serpent. It reminded me of the windowless van that for years was parked across the street from the elementary school around the corner from my house. It had a mural covering the entire driver's side of Chucky, classic 80s horror flick doll, ripping through the wall. Nearly every time we drove by it my siblings and I would all shout, "Chucky Van!"

2. Did you hear about the the guy who was upset because he had to sit next to a dog on a flight? and then The Internet got its pitch fork out and was all, "You're the worst! And a jerk for hating dogs! They should put YOU in baggage!" Guess what, the guy was right. Dog's shouldn't be on planes. There I said it. If you bring your dog on a plane and you don't have a legitimate medical reason to do so and it is not certified and professionally trained, you just want it there because you love it and you can't be apart from it, then you're kind of rude and you should drive your car to wherever you need to go rather than subject the paying customers sitting next to you to your smelly, furry dog. Thus is the lot of all responsible pet owners. You're going to be inconvenienced from time to time. Not everyone loves dogs. And, more importantly, not everyone HAS to love dogs as public opinion more and more seems to dictate. A lot of people have fur allergies. Some people are afraid of dogs because they've been bitten by them because dogs, even the sweetest of them, are still animals. Dogs also smell. If you're around your dog a lot you probably can't smell it anymore. But I can. And it's gross. Dogs also shed and get hair on everything. Additionally, flying has become a miserable experience. You pay a lot only to be manhandled in security, charged for your carry-on, and handed a bag of 6 peanuts and half a can of ginger ale. I don't have a problem with dogs in general. In fact there are several dogs that I have loved and do love, like Lindsay's dog Boe. But even Boe can spend hours licking himself and the sound of it drives me up the walls. And if I had to sit next to a dog on a plane and smell his bad breath as he licked himself I would be very upset. I wouldn't make a fuss about it, but I would certainly be seething on the inside and mentally writing strongly worded letters to the airline about their animal policy while I sip my 2 ounces of ginger ale. (DO NOT compare this to a baby being on board. Dogs are not humans. Your argument ends there.)(And DO NOT get me started on the survey that was reported a few months back where some outrageously high percentage of people said that if their dog and a stranger were both drowning and they could only save one of them they would choose their dog. That is simply monstrous.)(End of Rant.)

3. And now to show that I am not totally dead inside I'll share Camille's idea for a possible activity at our next family reunion. This is a real thing.

Girls in Finland are going nuts for hobbyhorses! Can you believe we live in such a glorious time? They're doing hobbyhorse dressage! This makes Finland the cutest country, right? Move over Prancercize. (I kid. Prancercize is number 1 in my heart. All you need are ankle weights and sass.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

None of your nonsense

1. The following pictures were passed around my family a while ago and really, they're just too good not to share. 

Phoebe, Levi, and Prince are not having any of your nonsense. The side-eye game in the next generation of Knechts is so strong. 

2. There's a stretch of the 60 freeway that I drive on almost every day, between Central and Reservoir, that is lined with these tall evergreen trees in front of the sound wall. The wall is covered with a viney plant and every year around this time the vines burst forth with big, bright yellow blossoms. They're so rampant, these vines, that they have woven their way into the evergreens, so that the yellow blossoms pop out all over them. It is so glorious and wild. Most of our nature in these parts is tamed so it's refreshing to see signs of it that will not be controlled. No sir! Those vines will wend their way wherever they please. 

I feel like I should have a moral here. Like a, "So too is life..." because I teach seminary and I deal a lot in metaphors. But I've got nothing. I just really like how showy it is.

3. (Commence Old-Lady Rant) Do you know what really drives me crazy? The totally made-up word for an ancient and inevitable concept: adulting. Like, when fully-grown people say, "Ugh, I've been adulting so hard today." When all they've done is pay some bills. "Adulting" is code for, "I'm lazy and don't want to do this thing that I have to do because I don't live with my mother any more." Because "adulting" is really just doing things that need to be done, that humans of a certain age have been doing since the Dawn of Man. It is one thing for a 20-something to say it. The shock of doing your taxes the first few times is not for the faint of heart. But when people over 30 say it I want to shove them out a window. Guess what else adulting includes but no one ever mentions? Eating ice cream for dinner. Not having anyone tell you when to go to bed. Getting a pay check. Sure, you have to work for that pay check, but even then you get to choose what you work at. I don't know about you, but I never had a choice of doing the dishes or not as a kid. (End Old-Lady Rant.)

4. Heather, dear friend and mother of the Art Society, is recovering from an appendectomy. I went over to visit her and while there she showed me this video even though it risked her laughing and laughing caused her great pain. So that her sacrifice does not go in vain, I show it to you now. Let's coincidance! 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

What a shot!

You're not going to believe this but this was my and Camille's 10th year* of going to that lovely tennis tournament out in the desert. (It actually has a name. It's the BNP Paribas Open and it's the 5th largest tennis tournament in the world, just after the 4 grand slams.) It's hard to believe right? And I do appreciate you letting me bore you with pictures and tales of the shirtless old men who hang out there. You can scroll through every March archive of this old blog and see recaps of our adventures on the surface of the sun. Let's not break with tradition.

1. Aside from the tennis, and the frozen lemonade, and all the sunshine, the best part of the event is all the people watching we get in. At the very first match we went to I pointed out a guy sitting across the way with blindingly white teeth. We joked about how he must be a dentist with an addiction to the whitening lamp. Then shortly afterwords I noticed a lady in the same section with an interesting hat so Camille took a picture in order to zoom in so we could figure out what was on it. So here's the first picture:

And here's the hat:

Dolls, it turned out. Look, the sun is punishing and I wore an outrageously large number the whole weekend so I'm not going to judge any one's head gear. You do you, Doll Hat Lady! Also notice Santa, and the faces of the two guys in the front.

But look what else she captured:

SUPER WHITE TEETH GUY! Just smiling away and wondering when he can get back to his lamp. 

2. I would like all of us to take a moment to appreciate that the man pictured below chose to wear this outfit in public.

That's an orange sweatsuit--shorts edition. Bold move, friend.

3. We sat in the front row the whole weekend. Bleachers are for noobs. Don't tell anyone though. I don't want word getting around that one of the perks of the front row is that you can use the extra drinks barrel behind the player seats as a hat rack. 

4. The last match we attended was Feliciano Lopez and Dusan Lajovic. Now, you should know that Andy Murray's mom's nickname for Feliciano is Deliciano Lopez, and not for nothing. He is not ugly. And there is a lot of cat-calling going on from the ladies in the stands. After the warm up and right before the match started the two players were at their seats and Feliciano was drinking some water and then suddenly he tilted his head back and poured the water over it and shook out his hair. And all four of us (Lindsay and Susie joined us for Saturday) just kind of stared, like everything was in slow motion and a funky bass line was playing in the distance. It was memorable. So then the match started and the first set ended and Lajovic, as many players do, took off his shirt to changed it, and immediately after Lopez poured more water over his head. As if to say, "Challenge accepted!" We had a real sexy-off on our hands. All of that changed once Lopez blew his nose into his towel. But for a while things were smoldering. It was an awesome match, Lopez lost and jetted off the court in a flash but Lajovic, who we were sitting directly behind, packed up and then threw his (clean and unused) towel at Camille. Like it was a Wayne Newton concert or something. 

5. We caught the first few games of a doubles match and this is how the guy at the net stood, in case you're looking to improve your form.

6. We've been going long enough to remember when the grounds used to be filled with orange trees in full bloom. It smelled like heaven on earth. But they took them all out to build Stadium 2 and a tacky bar. We thought they were all gone but we lucked into a great parking spot that brought us through an entrance we had never used before and lo, there were orange trees in bloom. We all stopped and breathed deeply. Except for Susie who is from New York so the smell of orange blossoms is not part of her genetic make-up. But she humored us and took a whiff and managed to be a creeper in this picture of Camille sniffing.

Other delights:

Trying to guess the ball kids' names and shouting it out to see if they would look. "Hey, Charlotte!" "Ethan, over here!" and the stranger next to me cracking up when she realized what we were doing. You should totally sit next to us at sporting events. We're hilarious. 

Hearing the 80 year old Tennis Sage sitting behind us who had a massive speech impediment shout out, "What a shot!" except is sounded like "What a szchot!"  

The court manager giving us each a tennis ball, just because. I don't know, we tend to generate a lot of good will. 

All the people from different countries support their players. Croatia was in the house. Romania was in the same house with a bigger flag.

The ball kid coordinator who was so positive with them - cheering them on, reminding them to drink water and put on sunscreen -- that we had to stop him to compliment him on his efforts and then he ended up being a real close talker and telling us his entire life story (grew up in Van Nuys, was a teacher for 34 years, 3 daughters, 7 grandchildren, lives next door to the tennis gardens, living the dream) and that people are really drawn to him because he "exudes positivity." I'll say!

Standing in the security line, jostling for a better position, and saying to Camille,"You've got to use strategery." And the lady behind me saying, "That's not a word." So I explained it to her because we had plenty of time. And then about a half hour later I'm coming out of the bathroom stall and I hear someone shout, "Stategery!" at me. Line Lady!

The full moon rising in between palm trees over purple mountains as we walked back to our car on the last night. Perfection.

*Not consecutive. It would have been our 11th but Camille left on her mission right after we went our first time and we missed a year. Whatever Camille. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

High Sleep Standards

Is it lame to blame my lack of blog writing on my ludicrously early bedtime? I am very strict with it and I don't let myself start things after 8 for fear that it will cut into my sleeping time, so there you have it. No new blog posts for a whole month. Because I am an old woman.

(An additional sign of old-woman-hood is my advocating for early bedtimes like it's my job. You guys! You know how all day long you're like, "Woe is me! I'm so tired! Why?! What is my life?!" and then you look back at the night before and realize that you stayed up until 1 a.m. doing a fat lot of nothing simply because you didn't want to go to sleep? News flash! You could have been asleep. Go to bed! I have this conversation at least once a week with the 14-24 year old crowd I spend most of my day with. And thus concludes your old-lady lecture.)

Things I could have written about at the time but chose to instead fall asleep. 

1. A murder mystery scavenger hunt at the Getty wherein my combined love of art and sleuthing came together. It was SO MUCH FUN! Promise me you'll do it. And invite me along. Because I want to do it again. 

2. A riotous birthday party for Katie. All the sisters were in town and we invited a bunch of funny women over and we ate great food and we made them paint because, look, if you're friends with a Knecht at some point we will make you paint with us. Earlier in the day we went into Pasadena and tried a restaurant called Spudds that specializes in poutine. Every time I have poutine it confirms my belief that Canadians are on to something, despite the fact that they also eat ketchup chips. 

3. Just this week a girl came into my office to chat and asked what I did over the weekend and I said that I did a lot of house work while watching Anne of Green Gables. And she said, "What's that?"  I am proud to say that I did not banish her from society forever, which was my initial thought. But how can you have lived 19 years without so much as hearing of Anne of Green Gables?  And I don't mean not having read the book or seen the movies because we all have our own tastes. But to never have even heard of her? Am I way off on this, or is this nutso? You know what I need? Spare copies of the book and movie so when people make such shocking admissions I can just hand them over. "Come child, let me introduce to you the magic that has been missing from your life." I have been known to send copies of the The Blue Castle to people when they tell me they have never read it. I can't lend my copy out. Are you crazy? That book is dear to me. But I can certainly do my best to get a copy into their hands. It takes a village. 

4. All this glorious rain. But all that really needs to be said about it is, take that, drought!

5. I had a Bob Costas Sochi Olympics level bout of pink eye. I don't know where I got it from although at the same time I was suffering I saw a lot of posts from mothers saying their kids had it too. And just prior to getting it I had a meeting where I shook a lot of dads' hands. It lasted a full week and I looked like the living dead because the antibiotics made the bags under my eyes look like I was squirreling away mini marshmallows in them. Also, the goop. 

6. This video of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band playing You Never Can Tell without any rehearsal is the coolest. The beginning when he's trying to find a good key he goes Full Bob Dylan.

Monday, January 16, 2017


The pitch made by the makers of the movie La La Land: "Picture it - a musical set in modern-day Los Angeles. We'll have a dance number at Griffith Observatory. And little scenes shot on Angels Flight, and Watts Towers, and Grand Central Market. And a spectacular opening number in a traffic jam overlooking the city. And we'll have sunshine and palm trees and John Legend. I think Rachel is going to love it." Why were the creators of this movie talking about me in the pitch for the film, you ask? Because it was obviously made for me. The tag could have been: "For Rachel. Duh." I have been spending the last 2 weeks getting over a cold so I wouldn't be That Person in the movie theater but the expelling of lungs has slowed down and I finally got to see it this weekend and they were right, I loved it. Who wants to go into the city with me for spontaneous dancing?

A note on music in movies: I get really annoyed when the movement of the musicians in a movie don't match the music that is being played. For example, when someone is playing the piano and their arms are clearly moving in the opposite direction of the notes.  It drives me bonkers and it happens in A LOT of movies. I realize all of it depends on editing but it just looks shoddy to me. Of course I don't expect actors to play the instrument but at the very least learn the basics of how it should look. So it's very high praise from me that I thought Ryan Gosling did a passing job as a jazz pianist. It was clear that he wasn't playing but it was also clear that he made a solid effort to look like he was.

Can I make a total change of subject? The other day I was watching the spacewalk on the ISS, as I do. Although they've been available for viewing online for ages NASA has recently been live-streaming them on Facebook. Which, as you would imagine, opens this experience up to a whole bunch of kooks with keyboards. I'll give you a sampling of the comments that flashed by: "Fake! The government has been lying to us about space exploration for decades! They're hiding aliens from us." "Fake! This was obviously filmed in a swimming pool." "Fake! Where's the sun?" (This was asked when the ISS orbited to the night side of the earth. It is what we like to call a shadow.) "This is actually filmed on a secret base on the moon that they don't want us to know about." I would say about 10% of the comments were like this. What can you say? People are dumb.

But also, people are magical because there was a whole group of folks who were saying, "Fake! The Earth is flat and the government doesn't want you to know that so they filmed this on earth and made a computer generated spherical earth to fool you. WAKE UP PEOPLE!"  You guys! There are people who really believe the earth is flat. In 2017. People with brains and computers and eyeballs. There's an entire society with a website. You have got to check this out. It is hilarious. They call me, you (I presume), and every other fool who believes in a round earth Globularists. Isn't that the best? They pride themselves on being radical freethinkers. I'll say! What a grand world we live in.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Penny for your thought

First thing first:

I know I post this video all the time but a.) What, like you're tired of it? and b.) I feel like we can never celebrate his jubilant hand clapping enough, especially now that he has died. We were all lounging around in our jams on Christmas afternoon when we heard the news and we instantly turned on this video to remember him.

Now, on to Christmas. We were all a little apprehensive about Christmas this year, what with my parents being on their mission. We knew it was going to be weird. You really discover how much your mom means to the whole spirit of the season when she's across the country. But we pressed forward. Gina, Chris, Levi, and Camille came down from Utah and Lindsay and Susie joined in with a lot of the festivities. Katie and I made, cut, wrapped and gave out about 1300 caramels. We hosted a couple of parties, including the Knecht Family Party, where we had a legit bell concert. We put up the full array of decorations, even though we told ourselves that we would mainly just do the tree. We sang in choirs and went to church parties and school concerts and the Chino Christmas Parade. We went out to LA to see the temple lights and even dropped in on my ice cream boyfriend Leo to wish him a merry Christmas. (He had carob clove ice cream in stock and I don't even really know what carob is and every time I've had it it has been as a substitute for chocolate so I naturally think it's a tool of the devil. But this ice cream blew my mind. It tasted like Christmas. I don't know how he does it!) We watched A LOT of Hallmark Christmas movies. So many. And I'm not going to justify it to you because you know that they're awesome. All of these things combined, plus the Church's Christmas initiative to Light the World, really made for one of my favorite Christmas seasons in memory.

Conveniently the first night of Hanukkah was also Christmas Eve so the Appels invited us over for a party. Val told the story of the Maccabees, Joseph, although a Hebrew school drop-out, said the blessing and Rosemary lit the menorah and then we all ate latkes, matzo ball soup, donuts, tamales, and chips and salsa. It was a true Southern California Hanukkah/Christmas/Mormon/Jewish festival. Later, I read a poem my dad wrote for the occasion and Val read David Sedaris' "Six to Eight Black Men" and we laughed and told stories and generally felt the warm glow of a friendship that has spanned decades.

It's been such a lovely season. Tomorrow Katie and I drive up to Utah for a week with our people in the Frozen North. I'm not mentally prepared for the cold and snow but I am prepared for laughing with the kiddos. 

Speaking of laughing, this video has been on repeating at my house and we cannot stop laughing over it.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

"This is a beautiful view."

I would like to point out that all the men of the British Royal Family are wearing knickers and stockings in this picture.

Also, some kind of garter. This is glorious! Although William looks skeptical. I wonder who decides what ceremonial attire the men will wear. Probably the queen. She must have a thing for shapely legs.

Have you been watching the Crown on Netflix? I have notes: namely, Prince Phillip is a bit of a hunchy crank. I've always suspected him to be such, but for crying out loud, he KNEW that she was going to be queen someday. Maybe not so quickly, but King George VI had to have had some kind of ominous cough to give him a hint that the lung cancer was lurking. For crying out loud, everyone back then had to have known that a cough equaled imminent death. I keep finding myself yelling at him to stop whining about how unfair his life is and stand up straight and support his wife.

Speaking of royals, this Prince Christmas tree is possibly the greatest of all themed Christmas trees:

If I did not have a beloved family Christmas tree to honor I would have done this and invited you all over to hold hands around it and sing the opening lines to "Let's Go Crazy."

Whilst celebrating A Very Oregon Thanksgiving with Casey & Fam we went out Christmas tree hunting. It looked like this.

Hideous, right. This little farm is 15 minutes from their home and it smelled exactly how this picture makes you image it would smell. Only better because there was a fire going nearby so it smelled like rain and moss and pine and camp fire. We took a little tractor ride around the place and saw some miniature horses and had hot cocoa. All of it was magical. And we found the perfect tree and we actually did stand around it and hold hands and sing like we were in a Charlie Brown Christmas. And then we had to play ring around the rosy because Graham thought that's what we were doing.

Speaking of Graham:

Kylea sent this picture a few weeks ago and I spent a good 20 minutes just staring at it and figuring out how I could move up there so I could devote all of my time to squeezing his cheeks. It is the very essence of Graham. Dumb Oregon and your beautiful vistas.

Straight from the airport we went up to Vista House, which is this amazing little Art Nouveau rest stop overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. On the way there Addie asked where we were going and I said, as Charlotte to her Lucy, "To see a view." And she asked what a view was and I explained that it was a lovely thing to look at. And a couple of times over the week when we were out and about in the rain and the cold I overheard her say to herself, "This is a beautiful view." What a gal!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

P as in Peaver

Tales from the Institute. I love my job.

1. While on an hour long phone call trying to get the Institute projector fixed, I had the following exchange with a customer service representative:

Rep: That's "p" as in "peaver"
Me: Excuse me?
Re: P as in Peaver
Me: B as in Beaver?
Rep: No P as in Peaver
Me: P as in Paul?
Rep: No P as in Peaver
Me: B as in Boy
Rep: Yes. P as in Peaver

The projector was still not working by the end of the phone call but we wiggled some cords and it unfroze and when it asked for a password that we did not have we tried 0000 and like magic it started working.

2. I cook lunch every Thursday for the kids. It's usually an easy meal, sandwiches or something in the crockpot. But every Thanksgiving, per tradition, I have to cook enough large pieces of meat to feed 40 people (half of them football players) for our lunch and I gag over turkey giblets or warm gelatinous ham fat because I am a delicate flower and can only handle cooking meat in small portions and I end up weeping in a corner questioning all the decisions I've made in life that led me to this point. This year I decided to not be a dummy and we had a BBQ instead. I put our director at the grill and all I had to do was chop vegetables and mix the Kool-aid. The kids don't care what they eat and there was zero gagging! There was a small casualty, though. I took over at the grill for a little bit and as I went to flip a burger there was a terrific bang and a burst of flames and suddenly most of the hair on my right arm was singed off. I still have my eyebrows, thank heavens. The lighter, which had been sitting on the stand next to the grill, had exploded and shot off over the roof. But I think lost arm hair is a small price to pay for not having to put my hand inside a turkey to pull out its neck and guts.

3. Before lunch today a guy walked in asking if he could borrow a cup and our microwave to warm up his tea, which he had in a gallon jug and looked to be just water with lettuce and orange peels in it. I pointed him in the direction of the kitchen and asked his name and he said, "It's Jeremy, but that one doesn't matter. People call me Emmanuel. That's the important one." I didn't want to break it to him that at least once a semester we have some vagabond wander in calling himself Emmanuel and prophesying. He reached out to shake my hand then got very serious and said, "I believe you are going to marry the greatest man." Then he went off to the kitchen to drink his tea out of a flower vase. I get this often. When you're a single Mormon woman of a certain age people like to be encouraging and to be honest, though well intended I can do without it. But if a drifter comes in and makes such a pronouncement like he's Professor Trelawny I suppose I should take it.