Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Living the dream

1. Did anyone see Rac's comment on my last post:  "You are living the dream. Except for that rash thingy."  I'm totally using that as a tag line! Because ain't that the truth. When I finally get around to making Rachel Says So windbreakers that will be on the back. Good one, Rac.

2. In the category of Knechts Make Me Laugh I submit the family dinner we had on Sunday at my aunt and uncle's house. It was a What About Bob themed meal. Fried chicken, hand-shucked corn, salad with no tomato, and mash potatoes and gravy, Marie. Sarah was even wearing a "Don't hassle me, I'm local." shirt.

3. We've had Gina and Levi in town this week and it's been delightful. Levi has finally stopped ignoring us and has recognized that he has really fun aunts. And he's kind of hysterical. You should see him sing. a.) he's on key, which is astounding for a 2 year old, and b.) he sings with such gusto. At the end of each song he lifts his little face to the sky and shouts out the final note and shakes his head like he's Pavoratti. It is glorious.

4. I've had seminary training all week at 6 am and it's reminded me of how waking up to an alarm is the absolute worst. I cannot find a soothing enough alarm in my phone to make it any easier. Even the softest most gentle ones sound like air horns at 4:45 in the morning. What I think I need is a recording of someone slowly whispering, "Rachel. It's time to get up to start the day. You're a good person and I'm going to make you a smoothie. Your hair looks amazing." I wonder if Colin Firth would be available to record that. And to come over and make me a smoothie each day.

5. It has just struck me how funny a word smoothie is.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Beach Bum

What is the point of SPF 50 sunscreen applied every 30 minutes if you are still going to get burned?!?! I mean, we were vigilant! But nothing can withstand the demon sun against our delicate northern European skin. All of us got pink. Red in some spots. But not so terrible. It was definitely manageable.

That is until I developed a freakish sun allergy. When has that ever happened? Never. I've been able to frolic in the sun my whole life, with proper protection. But now suddenly I'm like Dracula. (I'm going to write a post about how this has been the year to say about my body, "Well, THAT'S never happened before." Which officially makes me 80.)  By Tuesday night I got this weird rash on my neck and arms that would inflame any time the sun hit it. Which was all the time. And it itched and burned and turned me all splotchy and I felt kind of miserable. That was a bummer. And I ended up going home on Thursday which was an even bigger bummer. But then I was in a Benadryl haze for most of Friday and I slept in my own bed and showered in a place that had not been peed in by thousands of humans and I was feeling much better.

But the time there, even cut short, was lovely. So, so lovely.  I've mentioned before that one of the things I love about beach camping is that it is expected that you look like a beach bum. There's no need for make-up. Your hair is always in a ratty ponytail. You're either in your bathing suit or stretchy pants all day long. You have sand in your ears and dirt on your feet. You and everyone around you smell like camp fire and salt water and roasted marshmallows. It's heaven.

Things of note:

1. There were dolphins every evening leaping out of the water and riding on the crests of the waves.

2. We have this old, old, old table tent cover thingy that was the bane of our existence as kids trying to put it up. All we wanted to do was get down to the water but we couldn't until the whole site was set up. I have many memories of standing around that tent with all of my siblings, holding up a pole while my dad fumed over it. Instead of doing the sensible thing and borrowing an EZ-Up from someone we decided to bring the old beast. And Katie, Lindsay and I had it up in about 30 minutes. And none of us swore. And it stayed up the whole time. We felt like superheroes.

3.  I earned my fire-starting merit badge. And hatchet-wielding merit badge for chopping up kindling. I'm not even a girl scout.

4.  The ISS flew overhead one night as Lindsay showed us constellations. We all waved.

5.  You know when you catch a wave on your boogie board and your legs get all floppy in the surf? That's one of my most favorite sensations in the world.

6. Limited access to technology. Because the only outlets to charge your phone were in the bathrooms. Gross.

7. Hours of leisure time. We read and played games and sat and looked at the waves crashing or the fire burning for endless hours. With plans to do the same thing the next day.

8. Falling asleep and waking up to the waves crashing below. You can almost imagine that you're not in a tent.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Not burning

I'm going beach camping for a week so you won't be hearing from me until at least Monday. Don't be sad. I'll think of you fondly as I sit on the sand and not get sunburned. I'm too old for sunburns. I mean, seriously, how dumb was I in my youth when I knew that I could not tan and still I happily sat out in the sun for hours without any protection whatsoever and then spent the next 3 weeks in agony. Oh the blisters! Oh the itching! Oh the pain and the burning and the peeling! And then I would do it all over again because a body has to tan at some point right? Wrong! But no more. The only sunburn I will permit are the random spots I manage to miss with my SPF 50. There are always a few.

My family would go beach camping every summer for most of my teen years. There is nothing better. You know when you go on vacation there's always this pressure to do something. But when you're beach camping the only thing you have on your schedule is the ocean, interspersed with walks to the camp store, leisurely meals around the fire, and long games of Phase 10. Every youthful memory I have of it is dreamy.

See you on the other side, Moon Doggy!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bees, Crickets, and Flappy Birds

You guys, Nature is trying to tell me something. I don't know what. But here are some signs:

1.  A few weeks ago we discovered that hundreds of bees had died in our car port. The ground was covered in all these dead bees. Sometimes the wind would pick them up and swirl them around. How did they die? And why were they all dead right there on the pavement? Did they hit some kind of invisible wall that only bees can feel?

2.  Last week I was sitting in the chair in my room and reading before going to bed when I heard a thump on the light above me. And then when I looked up I saw a cricket coming toward my face. It landed on my shoulder and just sort of sat there until I FREAKED OUT and it leaped onto the wall. I had a serious staring contest with it, trying to decide what to do. It was way too big to smoosh. And it was at a weird angle so that I could not cover it with a cup and slide a paper under it to carry it outside. And I didn't want to swat at it for fear that it would leap at my face again. And I certainly could not sleep with it just sitting on my wall because you know that it would climb into my hair and host a Tupperware party or something. So I did the only logical thing, I ceded my room to it and slept on the couch. I have yet to see it again.

3.  The day after the cricket incident, a crow strolled into the Institute. The missionaries who frequent the place left the door open AGAIN (so help me Elders, if you don't start shutting that door and stop wasting all those tithing dollars on lost air conditioning, I will write to your mothers! Also, stop banging the door when you open it.) and a crow just hopped right in. Naturally, I barricaded myself in my office with several of the students because I hate birds and I think I would die if one flew into my office. They're just so flappy and unpredictable. At any moment a bird could fly at you and peck your eyes out. He wandered into the classroom, after a failed attempt at taking over the director's office. But he would not be shooed outdoors so one of the elders grabbed a sweatshirt and bravely bundled him up and set him outside and finally shut the door. And then the bird just stood there, staring at us through the glass door. Plotting, no doubt.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ukulele Lady

You would think that a ukulele fest in LA would be full of hipsters and Zooey Deschanel look-alikes. But it was mostly just a bunch of old people. Which meant that it was right up my alley. The Music Center puts this on every summer and I decided to see what it was all about. I have a ukulele that I inherited from my grandma and I know about 4 chords. Which can actually get you really far but I wanted to learn a little technique too. So I headed over to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and joined 300 fellow strummers for a few hours of serious thumb and pinkie pain. Who knew that playing the ukulele would hurt so much? The teachers all said this was to be expected. Maybe they should have put that in the flier.

Despite the pain, it was a blast. There were several classes and I met some fun people. You all know my theory about going to things like this, you're going to have fun because you're surrounded by people who are fun and looking for it. Everyone is already invested. They took the effort to get down there and have a good time with like-minded people. That's why going to these sorts of things alone is not a problem because you're bound to make friends.

I felt like most of us were all at the beginner level but I was at a disadvantage because it seemed like everyone there knew a ton about ukuleles. Nearly every person I talked to had extensive knowledge about brands and styles and shops and old men living in grass huts in Hawaii hand crafting instruments. Apparently if you own a ukulele you have to know everything about it before you actually learn how to play it. All I know about mine is that it was my Grandmas. And it's a cheap-o little thing that I love. Which is enough for me.

Also, everyone pronounced it without the y sound at the beginning, which I know is the proper pronunciation but I can't bring myself to do it. I'm not Giada, okay!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cursed feet

FOR THE LOVE OF FLIP FLOPS, I HAVE GOT TO STOP CUTTING UP MY FEET!!! It's like a gypsy woman has placed some kind of curse on my poor feet because they've been a disaster all summer.

Near the end of seminary the porta-pulpit I use in class fell and landed on my right foot and left a substantial gash on top of it. And then about 4 weeks later, after it was nearly healed and I could start wearing something besides flip flops, I  clipped the back of the same foot with a metal gate door and said so long to about 3 inches of skin.

Just yesterday I put on sneakers for the first time without any bandages and only minimal pain and I rejoiced.

So of course today I stubbed my left pinkie toe on a shopping cart wheel and it lifted the nail and I left a trail of blood in the Stated Bros. parking lot. A trail of blood that I hope will finally satisfy the gypsy woman so this curse can be lifted. Do you think if I explained that I can't get pedicures with open flesh wounds she'd help me out? Gypsy or not, every woman understands the peril of gnarly feet.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Amber Waves of Grain

Circumstances brought us into possession of 120 sparklers. And a neighbor had music playing from his truck all night. Which is how the annual Knecht Independence Day Spectacular: A Very Ghetto 4th ended with us dancing in the streets to slow jams with 5 sparklers in each hand while illegal fireworks exploded overhead. Look, there would have been dancing in the streets without the sparklers and the music, but that just meant that instead of a really fun night it became a magical night.
And it looks like we have a new Knecht Family Tradition: painting on major holidays. We did it on New Years Eve and now again on the 4th. It's a blast. None of us claim to have any real talent for it (Lindsay could though) so it takes the pressure off and we just have fun. The theme was America, natch. We ended up with original works of apple pie, baseball bats, the flag, fireworks, and I did amber waves of grain:
It was America all over the place. And it was beautiful.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Keep it classy, America!

Happy Independence Day! Oh, I just love this holiday. There's the Twilight Zone marathon and corn on the cob (you remember how I taught you to butter it, right?) and illegal fireworks going off in the neighborhood while we dance in the street. It is a glorious day.

But you know this already, so I'm going to do a public service here and give my list of appropriate and inappropriate uses of the flag on clothing. Celebrate America by not being tacky:


1.  Simple flags on a t-shirt or a hat.
3.  Flag pins.
4.  An Uncle Sam hat,  because it is iconic
5.  Any tastefully artistic rendering of the flag
6.  Converse, because Chucks = America


1.  Leggings
2. Shorts
3. Denim diapers

4.  Swim suits
(Basically just keep it away from your crotch.)
5.  Whole shirts (you have to turn in your passport if it has a denim collar.)

I know you're trying to be patriotic and fun. But can't you just wave a flag and lose some fingers to a rogue firework like the rest of us?

Have a great day and let freedom ring!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Poutine on Canada Day

How did you celebrate Canada Day yesterday? I have no real Canadian connection but I felt like celebrating it. It's what Anne Shirley would do. Except she would also have hung maple leaf bunting around Green Gables and made crowns of wildflowers for her and Diana and recited a poem that she wrote to the Spirit of Canada. Marilla would just roll her eyes and Matthew would smoke his pipe and beam.

I didn't do any of those things. But I did make poutine for dinner. Can you think of another distinctly Canadian food? Carabou steak? Mugs of melted snow? I don't even know. But I sang the first line of O Canada. And I read the first chapter and Anne of Green Gables and delighted in Rachel Lynde agonized over why Matthew was driving his buggy out of Avonlea in his suit when she knew there were turnips to plant.

Why celebrate Canada Day? Why not. It just seemed neighborly to do so. And also, I like poutine. This was my first time making it and the hardest part was figuring out where to find cheese curds. (Sprouts, if you're looking. They were all out of the fresh ones because of course there would be a run on curds on Canada Day.) Here's the recipe I used. Don't be a hero, just use frozen fries. But I draw the line at canned gravy. We have to have standards.