Thursday, December 10, 2015

Everything must go!

Well it's here. Moving Day is tomorrow. Hip hip hooray! I should be going to sleep but just about 5 minutes ago I started to feel a little sentimental about the old Las Brisas and this little bedroom of mine. I am a solitary creature and my bedroom is my sanctuary. I just need a lot of quiet alone time in order to be a happy, socially functioning, non-crazy person. So I love this room and it's my last night sleeping here and can you believe that I've lived here for 12 years. That is an insanely long time to live in a place that has a kitchen that only fits one person.

Speaking of the kitchen, it was when we were going through all of the kitchen stuff that I hit that point that everyone hits while packing when I simply did not care if the entire thing went up in flames and therefore everything must go. I was done being thorough and dumped just about everything. I kept all of my little dainty party cups and plates and my rice cooker and my Coco-motion (because duh, it is essential to Art Society) and the rest went to the Goodwill. About 10 boxes of stuff. All of which I hauled in myself because the one guy who was working there tonight was too busy talking to someone else about TV sizes.

I'm almost ashamed to admit how much stuff I have given/thrown away. It is an outrageous amount. Oh, the number of trips I have taken to the Dumpster. Every time I'd walk a load out I'd chastise myself for being such a wasteful person. But we're moving into a fully furnished home. And we only have a 5x10 storage unit and I have to put all of my books somewhere, don't I. DON'T I?!

I was telling Katie tonight, as we used the tops of boxes as tables to eat our dinner off of while watching an episode of Parks and Rec on our TV that was also on top of boxes, that it kind of feels like Christmas tomorrow because I'm so excited to be done with the move. We've been moving basically for a month now, taking box after box down to Chino and packing every night. (Also, teaching seminary. Guys, here's a pro tip. Don't work full time and teach seminary and move during the holidays. It is a Christmas Miracle that I have only had 2 very minor breakdowns.) Tomorrow will be a celebration of sorts. And bonus, there will be guys here to do the heavy lifting. So adios Upland! You've been very good to me. And hello, again, Chino. The other day I was dropping some stuff off at the house and noticed that the air down there had the slightest whiff of dairy. Just like old times. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Green bean casserole of your dreams!

First things first: Did you SEE the google doodle today? It's L.M. Montgomery's birthday and it's all Anne!  I was packing up my books on Saturday - some are coming with me and some are going into storage, which is horrible, right? But I must have stood and stared at my L.M. Montgomery books for many minutes trying to convince myself that they didn't all need to come with me. Except that they do. So they are. And not just the Anne books but the Emily books and both Story Girl books and A Tangled Web and Kilmeny of the Orchard even though I would say it is her weakest, and all of her short story collections. I may not even read any of them. I just feel better with them around. You understand, I'm sure.

Next, Thanksgiving. We had a monster of a gathering. 60 people. Which isn't even everyone who could have been there. It was a delightful day.

Because we turned my mom and her siblings into reindeer

And my super talented cousin Kaylee made this gorgeous family tree

And Levi and Addie spent the whole day chasing after each other

And then the next day we all went to the beach and froze to death but still managed to have a great time because bonfires are great no matter the temperature.

And how cute is Addie roasting a hot dog? "Very," is what you're looking for.

The sad fact about Thanksgiving is that I try so hard to not be uncomfortably full that I end up not feeling like I really had a great meal. Thanksgiving is all about the sides for me and I want large portions of everything but really, in order to not feel like a stuffed turkey and to save room for the requisite 3 slices of pie I have to only take a few bites of each side. And then I end up with the niggling feeling that I did not get enough mash potatoes. And no one should feel slighted out of mashed potatoes. But hey, leftovers, right? This got me thinking how singular Thanksgiving food is. Like, I never eat candied yams on any day but Thanksgiving. Even though I love them. Same with stuffing and green bean casserole. Or roasted turkey, for that matter. What if I through a Thanksgiving feast in April, just for fun. 

I would like to note that I totally killed it on the green bean casserole this year. It was delicious. I know, I know! You think that anything made with Cream of Whatever canned soup is an abomination. Except that you can't deny the warm comfort of a creamy casserole. Here's my tip: use half of the soup that the recipe calls for and also think that you have enough milk but actually don't and instead have to use half and half. Bam! Perfect green bean casserole and Thanksgiving is saved!

Maybe you're feeling like you can't make it through this Monday, now that all of your pie leftovers are gone. So here's a picture of Candy Graham to cheer you up.

Oh geez, this kid!

Let's get this Christmas season started!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Boils and Stuff

1. I just texted Cynde, "Remember that one time we got caught in a hail storm with a bunch of German tourists overlooking Circus Maximus? Let's go back to Rome!" We were on our way to stick our hands in the Bocca della Verita when suddenly the skies opened and rain and hail poured down and the only cover we had was a cypress tree that we had to share with like 20 other people, which is silly considering that cypress trees give about zero coverage. But we all had shifted to one side of it to at least block the hail from pelting us.We just kept laughing at how ridiculous the whole thing was. It's one of my favorite memories from the trip.

2. Who wants to come light all of my stuff on fire? Or at the very least move it out to the dumpster for me. Because I really don't want to pack any of it. Did I tell you I'm moving to Chino? Katie and I are taking care of Mom and Dad's house while they're on their mission. I'm sure you'll hear me whine about how much I hate moving over the next month so I won't bore you now. But really, come and throw everything away for me, will you.

3. Here's a free tip: while preparing your seminary lesson about the plagues of Egypt don't look up pictures of them. Some are fine, like flies and hail. Frogs are comical. Lice makes you itchy. Locusts are disturbing. I mean, sweet land of liberty, can you imagine? Any large, winged bug is a nightmare. But you're really getting into horror territory when you look up boils and dead cattle. I couldn't stop looking at the pictures of boils. And they just kept getting worse the more I scrolled. And then I came across one of a butt covered in boils and I nearly died because a.) it was gross, and b.) I kept hearing Ouiser screaming, "He is a boil on the butt of humanity."

4. If you can believe it, I finished Graham Master Flash's stocking before his first Christmas. I've made all of my nieces and nephews stockings and most have had to wait several years. But because I have to pack up the World's Largest Felt Collection I thought I'd just buckle down and do it. So I watched many episodes of the Great British Baking Show (who else is watching this and don't you LOVE it?! Do you think we should stage an intervention for Ruby before she throws herself off a cliff because she didn't have a good bake?) and stitched my heart out.  I am amazed at how neat my stitched writing looks compared to my actual handwriting. It's my one true Lady of Elegant Leisure skill.

5. I snapped this picture the other morning of this palm tree, the moon, Venus, Jupiter, and Mars, which you cannot see but is there, I promise.  Everyone should start their day out with a little cosmic viewing.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Stout-hearted men

While checking in on the ISS space walk this week I noticed something when they showed mission control at Johnson Space Center:  Tupperware.

See it? Down in the right corner? Are they having a space walk pot luck?! Did someone bring in brownies? Astronaut shaped sugar cookies? How often do they have these? Is it every Wednesday or just for space walks? Obviously, I need to know these things for when I get the call from NASA. I don't want to look like a noob. There's just something so perfect about space nerds bringing in treats for each other while they watch two of their colleagues bob around outside the space station.

In other news I went to the Upland High School fall choir concert last night. About half of all of my previous and current seminary students are in a choir and so I thought I'd go support them. My expectations for high school choir concerts is low because I went to a high school that had a crappy choir. And the most exciting one I've ever been to was only memorable because a tenor passed out mid-song and fell into the alto section. But this was great. Four of my boys are in the Men's Choir and they sang a song last night called Men of the Sea. They were fantastic. But the content and the choir made me think of a particular episode of The Wonder Years. (It's a little long and the quality is bad and it has Portuguese subtitles (I think that's Portuguese) but what can you do, right?) Enjoy.

Only one more day and then we're free of the pumpkin-spiced tyranny of Halloween! Although I did manage to come up with a semi-costume for my ward's party. I'm a firm believer that I can make anything out of felt. Add some tulle, a glue gun, jeans and a tee-shirt and you have yourself a casual witch costume.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Endings, Reunions, Grammar

1. Did you see that Tyra announced the end of America's Next Top Model? And thus ends a massive chapter of my television viewing life. My interest in the show has definitely waned over the years but I can't deny that she is still crazy and possibly needs to be medicated and therefore a real joy to watch. Thanks for the memories! And also, I kind of loved how everyone on Facebook messaged me with the news. Although it was not necessary as I follow her on Instagram. Because she's insane.

2. In other TV news DID YOU SEE THE RUMOR THAT NETFLIX MADE A DEAL TO BRING BACK GILMORE GIRLS? What in the name of Sookie St. James is going on?! I am both thrilled and horrified. Because, look, I love that show. We ALL love that show (except my Dad hates that show but that's to be expected). And who doesn't want to be reunited with our best pals. But this could be awful. I really don't like it when I've made peace with a beloved story that has ended and then it keeps coming back (I'm looking at you, JK Rowling! Stop telling me stuff about Harry Potter! He's mine now!) Let me live with my memories and my imaginary futures for all of them. Like how I think Kirk stages a coup against Taylor and barricades himself in Dooce's Market and sings "Do You Hear the People Sing" through a megaphone while Taylor just goes through the back door to end it. Or how Babette and Maury get into a fight over what to name their next cat and Babette moves in with Luke and Lorelei (because they're married now) and rearranges Luke's kitchen according to ease of reaching and he gets adorably irate. Or how Zack and Lane have made it into the county fair circuit with their band and Rory is a foreign corespondent for the Washington Post and Sookie and Jackson have 4 more kids and they don't have any more names so they start naming them after vegetables and how Dean has fallen off of a cliff. See, I have plans for these people and I fear that additional shows will ruin them. But, let's not kid ourselves. If this does happen I will make a paper chain and host a viewing party where we all have to dress up in themed costumes. I'm thinking Lorelei's cat sweater years.

3. In other viewing news, here are two things of note I saw last week:  1. Hamlet staring Benedict Cumberbatch. Holy smokes and stuff! This was so great! It was a live recording from the National Theater in London shown at local movie theaters. Wow and wow. At intermission we learned that the Dodgers lost to the Mets, thus dashing all of our dreams, and several like-minded baseball/Shakespeare fans commiserated with me. Then we cheered ourselves up by watching everyone die on stage at the end. 2. I took myself to the movies on a Friday afternoon with a bunch of other lone wolves and watched Bridge of Spies. And it was so good. I think that Spielberg is such a cornball but gosh if I'm not charmed by it every time. And watching it with all the other single riders made me want to shout out, "Loners of the World, UNITE! (By ourselves!)"

4. Here is something wonderful that happened today. I was sitting in my office and a kid walked by my window that looks into the lounge and said something that I didn't hear, but then he rounded the corner toward my door and shouted, "Sorry about that, Rachel!" So I asked what it was he said, to which he replied, "I said, 'me and Josh are going to the weight room,' and I knew instantly that you would hate that. Because it's supposed to be Josh and I." These kids really get me, you know.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fantasy Gifts

When you were a kid didn't you love looking through catalogs? Like from JC Penny's? I loved it. In particular I loved the bedding section. Everything looked so luxurious. They always had really shiny sheets and lots of pillows. Now a days I just want really cozy sheets and I think throw pillows are ridiculous, but back when I was 8 I could spend hours dreaming of a very fancy bedroom. I was thinking about those catalogs a few months ago and wishing that I got them.

Well, Katie tipped me off to the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, which is just like the JC Penny's catalog, if that catalog was nothing but cashmere ponchos, fur coats for kids, and backgammon sets made out of exotic woods. It's basically where every Woman of Elegant Leisure does all of her Christmas shopping for her Woman of Elegant Leisure friends. I did not see any turbans in there, which is a bit of a let down.

But the real treat of the book is the Fantasy Gift section. Oh, the fantasy gift. There are all sorts of things your boring old rich uncle would love. Like a trio of Texas guitars or a barrel full of Bourbon. And then there's the crass, like the luxury trip to India where you'll be shuttled around in private planes and vintage cars. Just like the colonialists! Watch out for all those little street urchins playing cricket in the street. You wouldn't want them denting the chrome.

But then there's the surreal, like a two day motorcycle ride through the Angeles National Forest with Keanu Reeves and his pal. Could you imagine?! I mean, that is a very specific gift, right? Your boring old rich uncle would have to both a motorcycle enthusiast and a fan of the Lake House. Or how about a trunk full of accessories from Iris Apfel. Because if you can't find a turban, than a statement necklaces is the next best thing. What about the couture diary where an artist will draw you in 20 of your favorite wardrobe pieces. It is bound in Scandinavian calfskin and, according to the J. Peterman write-up, will be "cherished for generations." I don't know about you, but I don't think I want 20 hand painted renderings of me in various stretchy pants.

But there are two I'd go for. The craftsman tour of Venice and Florence, where you visit shops and make paper and blow glass and eat gelato and pasta for 7 days. Are you kidding me? Alert the Wealthy Benefactor! Because I'm also going to need him to spring for the Exploration of the Edge of Space. The WB and I, and 4 of our closest friends get to go up in a luxury space capsule via a jumbo weather balloon to the upper atmosphere and float around for a few hours. Is this even a joke?! Can I really do this?! For only $90,000. Let's all start saving now! That's only $15,000 we each have to come up with the if WB bails. In all seriousness, if given the opportunity would you go up in a metal box attached to a balloon? What if I told you that there would be snacks?

Me? In a heartbeat.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


1. One day last week I was feeling tired and gross when I got home from work so instead of my usual unwinding period I jumped right into my seminary lesson then it was dinner, shower, and in bed by 8:00 and asleep by 8:15. All of this was entirely unheard of before this time. But it felt so great to get 8.5 hours of sleep that I have done it every night since. My goal is to be asleep by 9 every night. My whole life I've gotten by on about 6 hours of sleep and now I think of all of those hours that I've missed doing what? Watching reruns of Gilmore Girls? I am now reveling in my old-lady bedtime and yawn-free days.

2. You guys, not one of us is ever going to be as good as Malala. I just finished I Am Malala and it was astoundingly good. She is as inspirational as everyone says she is. She gets shot in the face by the Taliban for speaking out about girls education and instead of screeching, "I got shot in the face by the Taliban! I'm going to go live in a cave now with sticks of dynamite at the entrance," like I would, she's like, "Whatever, Taliban! I'm still going to talk about it. At the UN, losers!" That was me adding the loser bit. She seems far too gracious for name calling. I finished the book right after watching the Pope give his talk at the 9/11 memorial. So basically the rest of my day involved me being weepy and singing Give Peace a Chance.

3. I've noticed that the demographic at the Institute this semester is guy-heavy. Or maybe it's just the demographic of those who come and chat with me on a daily basis. Which means that I talk a lot more about sports and Lord of the Rings then ever before. Although I did have to put a stop to a conversation that was getting a little too deep into Star Wars. When guys start talking about the intricacies of Star Wars my mind wanders off to Pemberley.

I would write more but it's my bedtime. Nighty-night, pals!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Leaving Early

Sarah invited me out to a concert on Saturday night and about an hour into it she turned to me said, "Do you want to go?" and I said, "Yes." and it was confirmed once again that we are related. Because Knechts value sleep. It was a really great show, (Brandi Carlile. I'm a super big fan now.) And still I thought, yep, let's call it a night. It reminded me very much of this Portlandia clip:

Like all shows where standing is involved, this was my view.

I overheard a girl behind me say, "I'm not nearly as short as I feel at a concert." Truer words, sister.

Not only did we leave early but we also went to dinner instead of catching the opener. Because there is nothing worse than an opener. Especially when you're in a venue with no seats. By the time the main act gets on stage you've been standing for 2 hours with a few more to go. It would be fine if you were walking laps or something. But you're just standing while the blood pools up in your ankles. And I have found that the time between the opener and main act is comparable to the time between the dinosaurs walking the earth and humans showing up. Which is approximately 64 million years. I looked it up. The only thing better than skipping the opener is going specifically for the opener and then leaving before the main act comes out. 

Isn't it grand to be old enough to leave a concert early? When I was in my 20s I would never have done such a thing, even if I was tired or having a miserable time. Your 20s are a time for late night fun, even when you're desperate for your bed. And I was, often. I think more than anything age gives you confidence to say, "I want that, not that," and not be ashamed of it. You can follow it up with, "So what if I'm old. I'm going to get like 5 more hours of sleep than you, sucker." Because being older also means you can speak your mind and people just laugh it off.

Monday, September 21, 2015

These signs are a web of lies.

Gina sent us this picture last night of Levi's church class. And you guys, if this face doesn't capture the very essence of Levi, then I don't know what does.

Here it is zoomed:

Levi is all, "I don't miss you at all, Malyssa. These signs are a web of lies." I can't stop laughing over it. This is "Who stole my pork bun" 2.0. And it's a real shame I had to cover the faces of the other kids because they are equally unconvinced. As someone said last night, "It doesn't look like any of them really miss Malyssa." They're 4. What more do we need to say.

But who's with me that Levi's little shiny shoes are the cutest things ever?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Deep Fried Pineapple of My Dreams

It's been a take-to-my-bed kind of day, minus the taking to my bed. All day long I've been like, Ugh! Humanity! Where are my stretchy pants? Will someone please call up Julie Andrews and have her come over and sing me to sleep.

But on the bright side I had the single best thing I've ever eaten at the LA County fair last night. Behold, the deep fried pineapple:

It was, in fact, the size of my face. And it was drizzled in caramel sauce. Wowee. Also, I was a bit of a hero when I attempted to push it up the stick a little and the whole thing popped right off. I lunged and got caramel all over my hands but the pineapple, and thus the whole fair, was saved. If you're going to the fair it's just outside of the craft section of the Grandstand. Get one and then go on the Big (formerly) Yellow (but now it's blue) Slide for me and your fair will be made. 

(Please excuse my hair in the above picture. Who's done with this Summer of Humidity we've been suffering through? How do you all do it? I mean, really. How? But my skin is incredibly soft these days, so there's that.)

We went on the slide, naturally, but as we were hiking up the stairs a group of rather eager young children were right on our heels. I was in my powering through it mode and refused to stop or move over for them to pass and I wanted to shout back at them, "Children, I am a Very Old Woman. Give me a break! We will all make it to the top so that we can hurl ourselves right back down." But I do have very fond memories of rushing up those stairs on warm summer nights, so I indulged their enthusiasm and let them go ahead of me once we were at the top. Before shoving off the worker told us to hold on to the front of our burlap rugs but to that I say Stuff It! The only way to enjoy that ride is to throw your hands in the air like a champion.

Here, look at this picture of cuddling sheep:

Okay, I feel better reliving the fair. But I'm still going to wait up for Julie to come tuck me in.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Summer of Ice Cream Recap

Remember how this was the Summer of Ice Cream? I'm calling it a success and I may just carry it into the Fall. Believe it or not, making ice cream is a hot business. Like, sweltering. The Knecht way of making ice cream is to just throw everything together and chill for an hour, if you remember to, and then throw it in the maker, raw eggs and all. It has worked for us for decades without a single case of salmonella and the only sweltering part is that it has to be made outside as the ice cream maker is 43 years old and requires a lot of ice and leaks a bit. Whatever, it's amazing and we refuse to change. But for the Summer of Ice Cream I wanted to try a cooked custard recipe which is labor intensive and requires some time stirring over a hot stove, in my kitchen with no air conditioning vents. Just like the pioneers. Plus, it has to chill overnight and then you make it, and because I like a firmer ice cream it had to sit in the freezer over night again. So it's a three day process, but I think, worth it. I used a recipe from the New York Times and it is really great. It's definitely richer, which was good and bad, depending on the flavoring.

Here's the rundown:

1. Strawberry Balsamic. The flavor was right on but the consistency was off. It was too thick. I think I overcooked the custard.

2. Goat Cheese, Honey Pistachio. I know what you're thinking. But Leo makes a blueberry goat cheese that is so, so good. This was not so, so good. I thought I would go nuts and add some orange zest to it and that threw the whole thing off. I still think it could work if I took out the zest and put in more honey. The pistachios were delish.

3. Salted Caramel. The flavor on this was amazing. The consistency was like silk. But it never firmed up properly. I made it twice because I liked it so much and just dealt with the meltiness. 

4. Chocolate Malted Crunch. It needed more malt. But the chocolate ice cream was great.

5. Toasted Coconut Fudge Ripple. This was COCONUTTY! I loved it. I even made my own fudge syrup and had left overs for the occasional chocolate milk, that is until the container got knocked over  and oozed all over the fridge. Thanks for cleaning that up, Katie!

6. Plum. Katie and I both agreed that this would have been better as a sorbet (this was where the richness was too much. I may cut out a few yolks on my next fruit ice cream.) But this is not the Summer of Sorbet. And the flavor was so good so I'm not complaining. Plus, the color was straight out of my dreams.

Speaking of sorbet, did I ever tell you about the last time we went to Neveux's when Camille was in town? After we were done with our ice cream Leo came out and placed a ramekin on our table and said, "Try this lemon sorbet I just finished." The first taste was LEMON!!!! but the second taste was SUMMER! and SUNSHINE! and HOLY CATS, HOW CAN I HAVE THIS IN MY LIFE EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! I'm not even going to try it. You can't start out being Van Gogh. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Bunny Killer

1. Big news first:  My parents are going on a mission to Boston, MA and they report on Jan. 4. They've only been talking about this my whole life so it's kind of hard to believe that the day has arrived. The whole family watched, either in person (me, Katie, and Lindsay) or online (all the defectors) as they opened up the call. Super exciting! And you're not going to believe this but there was hardly a tear shed. This is very un-Knecht behavior and I don't know how to explain it. Anyway, go Red Sox!

2. Seminary has begun and I am loving my class so far. We've had so much fun already and they ask really thought provoking questions. They're really great kids. But to bring us back to reality, I've started keeping track of the number of times I spot one of the boys picking his nose. So far three of them have done it. I don't know what to say about this other than their 14. What can you do but laugh and Clorox their desks after class.

3. Do yourself a favor and make this Pineapple Coconut Cashew Rice. I tried it the other night and whoa. It was delicious. This may have been the first time I cooked an actual meal all summer. My summer diet consists largely of toast, eggs, apples, cheese, pasta, Slurpees, and breakfast cereals. I eat like a 3 year old in the summer. The heat makes it impossible for me to even think about standing over a stove. Our wee kitchen doesn't have an air vent in it (I know. It seems insane to me too.) So I do what I can to get by. But this week we have felt the first nip of fall. Most people outside of So. California may not actually be able to feel this particular nip. It is slight. But there was just something autumny in the air and so I slung on my apron and cooked. And not just rice but chicken too. Like I'm Martha Stewart or something.

4. And now for some sad news: yesterday on my drive to work I passed by a dead bunny. I have a strict no-looking rule when it comes to roadkill but I think I spotted ears before averting my eyes. And then, maybe to cheer myself up, I made up a little song about dead bunnies on the road and I sang it to myself the rest of the way in. I don't know, guys, alright? I have no explanation as to why I do these sorts of things but let me tell you there's a catalog of little ditties I make up through out the day and sing to myself. Oh, like you don't do weird things. Anyway, several hours later I was driving home from work through Cal Poly, which is  practically a bunny sanctuary there are so many of them hopping about, when suddenly a bunny leaped in front of my car and then I heard a horrific thwump. I KILLED A BUNNY!!!!! And I'm kind of sick about it. I was teary the whole way home. I feel like I need to make amends somehow. Do they have actual bunny sanctuaries I could donate to?  Ugh, circle of life.

My dead bunny on the road song is a little reminiscent of Blue Shadows from the Three Amigos so here you go. Happy weekend. Keep safe, bunnies!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tragic Pants

If you're interested, here's Gwyneth Paltrow's latest recommendation from Goop for fall denim.

Are she and her staff living in some kind of clown universe? What are those things?! She, in all seriousness, put these up as an actual possibility for denim in the workplace. At what office do you think these would fit in? Possibly the receptionist at the Home for the Tragic and Misguided has a pair. If you enlarge the picture you will see that the hem is frayed. Because when you have already committed to looking really out of your mind you had better go all the way. Also, it should be noted that they are $340. Or $10 if you head on over to the Goodwill and pick up the two most unflattering jeans you can find and make a pair for yourself. Knights of Columbus!

And what goes well with the Ugliest Jeans in the History of All Jeans? A $1700 blazer. You read that right. This whole look, in fact, is $2500. Is it time for me to stop hate-reading Goop? For some reason I can handle all of her stuff on herbal colonics and $10000 hotel rooms in Tokyo. But this has crossed a line.

Never has an article of clothing deserved this more:

Prince is the prince of questionable clothing and even he knows these are Crazy Town, USA.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Oregon Trail

You know how Virginia is for lovers? Well, Oregon is for weirdos, in the most charming way. I recall my old high school chemistry teacher always saying how weird people were in Oregon and maybe that has stuck with me. He did sport a handle-bar mustache, so take that for what it's worth. But I think he may have partially been on to something because they are proudly and aggressively weird there. But I'll give it to them because it's so pretty. Around every corner was something breathtaking. People kept apologizing for how brown and dry it was and then I'd laugh and mumble something about a drought and apply more lip balm out of habit. It was literally the greenest place I've ever been to. I had a really great time there and will definitely be back. Well, as long as Casey and Kylea and their amazingly adorable children live there.

On to the list:

1. Oregon seems to be filled with a high percentage of vagabonds. I stopped counting how many people I saw roaming the highways, some hitchhiking, all hairy and toting giant backpacks. In California if you see someone walking on the freeway that means that they are in some kind of trouble, like their car is on fire or something. But in Oregon the dozens of people I saw walking down the interstate all seemed to be carefree hobos casually walking from town to town. Their hub, obviously, is Portland. It seemed to be populated entirely by unwashed hippies waiting for the next drum circle. It was actually difficult to tell who was homeless because of mental illness or who just chose to live the wandering life.

2. In that vein, as I was driving back from my day-trip to the coast I passed a couple hitchhiking and my initial thought was, "I'd bet money that if I picked them up I'd be abducted into a cult."

3. That day-trip was a dream. It was gray and drizzly and there were pockets of mist hanging in the pine trees. I stopped at every viewpoint. I wandered into a used bookstore in Astoria to get out of the rain. I sat on some driftwood at Cannon Beach. I ate cheese and ice cream and fudge in Tillamook. This is all to say that it was a perfect day.

3. Gina came out for my birthday! Just for the day! Isn't that that best? I am always totally happy lone-wolfing it when out and about but I'm never going to turn down a sister to share in the adventure. Sisters always make things better. And we had a huge adventure. I wanted to do something fun and different so I booked a jet-boat tour up the Willamette River (did you know that it's pronounced Will-AM-ette? I did not until Kylea corrected me.) You guys, promise me that if you ever make it to Portland you will take this tour. Just do it, okay? It is the most fun! We went so fast, did donut after donut, and got so wet and I HATE getting wet when I'm not in appropriate clothing for it but who cares when you're having this kind of fun. It was so worth the time and money and tumbleweed hair.

4. On the other donut front, we did get Voodoo donuts. I'm going to be totally un-American right now and say that I don't exactly care for donuts. They taste like delicious regret. The first 5 minutes of a donut are wonderful but the rest of day I feel like I've eaten a sugary brick. Because I'm 80. But these were really tasty. And while I did have the sugary brick feeling all day I did not regret it because you've got to live, right?

5. Thanks to that mutant sinus/bronchial infection I left (and came home) with my ears clogged up on the descent into Portland. A baby started to cry on that descent and I wanted to hold her and say, "I know, right? Let's cry together." They stayed clogged for FIVE WHOLE DAYS and I wanted to die. But now I'm good as new. And it didn't ruin my trip. Every morning I would tell my clogged ears and nose and lungs to go eat a worm sandwich, I was going to have fun anyway.

6. I mentioned this on Instagram but it bears repeating: I went to this pizza place that a friend recommended and I was literally the only person in there who was not eating it with a fork and knife. I refused to feel like the weirdo in this situation and ate my pizza like a human being, with my hands so the grease can drip down my arm.

7. Oh, Sweet Land of Liberty! Just let me pump my own gas!

8. Best thing I overheard in Portland, "No, she's already gone. She helping set up for Burning Man this year."

9. Best sign I saw, "Squirrel Fest 2015!"

Picture time!

C&K have a shortcake place that is everything you want in a non-chocolate dessert.  My parents were up there a few weeks before me and my dad literally cannot stop talking about this. I ate really well on this trip but this was maybe my favorite thing.

I had completely forgotten that logging is a thing. But you can't forget up in the Pacific Northwest. I drove through a logging town with actual stores for logging supplies. I live in the desert, okay. That's it in the distance, across the Columbia River in Washington. 

If you've seen Goonies you know what this is. If you haven't seen Goonies, you need to crawl out of your cave. But also, isn't this so lovely? The tide was way, way out but it left these pretty ripples behind.

Powell's takes up an entire city block. And it's 4 stories. Which means that I spent a lot of time there. And it was everything I wanted it to be. Yay books!

Every morning as I was getting ready Addie would come up and hang out with me. Every time I was out doing something fun I was kind of wishing I was back with the kids. 
The Graham Poo-Bah. This kid is the sweetest. He doesn't cry. He hardly fusses. He just snuggles with you. He did not fit in my carry-on.

Nearly everyone I know who has been to Oregon comes back and shows me this picture. I've been looking for a Wealthy Benefactor but I would just as happily take a rich uncle.

This is exactly how I wanted to look on my 40th birthday. Happy and surrounded by beauty. In this case, the International Rose Test Garden, which I am putting on your must-see list for Portland. I'M HALF WAY TO 80!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Old Wet Lung

This illness has very nearly knocked me out but I think I may have turned the corner. I am still coughing like an 80 year old coal miner. Also, I have coughed so hard that I think I injured my ribs and definitely have sprained a muscle in my neck. But I definitely feel better and have more energy and I can breathe through my nose some of the time. Progress! I even did some laundry today. Although taking my laundry down to the laundry room wiped me out. And in about 15 minutes I'm going to have to go down and get it and schlep it up the stairs and then fold it. Ugh, the folding. On a good day this is drudgery.

Tomorrow I fly out to Oregon. And I'm afraid that I'm going to be That Person on the plane. The one who is sniffing and coughing and generally making you paranoid that you're going to be struck down with bird flu. Should I hand out little bags of Airborne to all of my fellow passengers with a note explaining that I've been on antibiotics for nearly a week and even though I sound like I've got the old Wet Lung I should not be contagious at this point, it's just holding on to me like clammy, snotty, hacking death. Pray for me and my poor little lungs. And the people on the plane that they will be understanding. And that I'm well enough to kiss Addie and Baby Graham Piano's chubby cheeks and also drive out to the Goonies beach and also spend hours wandering through Powell's bookstore. I have goals on this trip that I need to achieve.

Do you know what the real tragedy of being sick is? I can't read. My mind can't focus long enough to make it through a page. So it's been a lot of Netflix and Hulu for me. I watched many episodes Running Wild with Bear Grylls. You know, where he takes celebrities out into the wilderness and tries to kill them by feeding them worms and throwing them off cliffs. For the record, I literally would die if I ever attempted anything like that. I am an enormous chicken when it comes to doing dangerous things. And if I didn't die I would be whining the entire time. Much like Kate Hudson did. But you should all watch the episode with Kate Winslet. If you did not already love her you will after watching her insist on washing her bra out after her first day.

But before that you should watch this video that Camille sent to cheer me up from my death bed:

Friday, August 7, 2015


The good staff at Kaiser in Upland need a little training in timing. Remember that time a doctor asked me if I wanted a pap smear while he was examining me for what turned out to be acute bronchitis and shingles? I had expended all of my energy that day just putting on my bra so there was none left to hit him. Well this morning I went in because I have a sinus infection that has turned into a whole body infection. I was in my stretchy pants, no make-up, and my hair was back in a wet ponytail. You know how much I oppose going out into society wearing stretchy pants and yet this is the state I am currently in. So there I am, and the nurse has just flipped the switch on the blood pressure torture machine and it is at this very moment that she chooses to say, "We don't have a picture of you on our database. Let me take it." And then before I can even say a word she points a camera in my face and takes a picture. At best I looked like Marty Feldman dressed as a hobo. I asked her if she could at least wait until the sphygmomanometer was done squeezing my arm off and my body was in less distress. She seemed put out but agreed.

This made me wonder what all the pictures look like at Kaiser. Because no one looks their best when they're sick. It must be a database filled with bloodshot, pallid, consumptive, droopy-eyed zombies with runny noses. I know for sure this is what my picture looked like because after that I walked into the exam room and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Egads! Also, I saw everyone else sitting in the waiting room. There wasn't a single person in there who didn't have bedhead.

Speaking of bad timing, I HAD ALL SUMMER TO GET SICK AND IT HITS RIGHT NOW WHEN CASEY, KYLEA, ADDIE, AND BABY GRAHAM CRACKER ARE IN TOWN!!!! For crying in the mud! Nine whole weeks when I could have very easily lounged about all day recuperating and watching Jane Austen adaptations. And on the very day that they arrive in town I'm sidelined. The doctor assures me that once I have the antibiotics in my system for 24 hours I should be fine to be around humans so there's still time this weekend. And I'm going up to Oregon to visit next week. But the timing is just too ridiculous.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

We Are The World

1. Somewhere in the middle of Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the 7th inning stretch at the Dodger game the other night, up on the Jumbotron popped none other than Johnny from the Karate Kid! He who swept the leg! There he was, just singing along with the rest of us. Fact: you cannot go to a sporting event in LA without a major or minor celebrity showing up on the big screen. At a Dodger game you can always count on seeing Alyssa Milano and Larry King's skeleton. Sometimes Will Ferrell or Tom Hanks or Matthew Perry. But "Put Him In A Body Bag" Johnny of Cobra Kai Dojo has got to be the best one yet.

2. Twenty years ago the Russians abandoned their space shuttle program, leaving two partially completed shuttles locked up in a warehouse in the Kazakhstan desert. So it looks like I'm going to need a few million dollars to buy one of those shuttles. Also, some science types to help me get the old girl running and up into space. Who's with me? We're halfway there!

3. Katie and I finally made it out to the Special Olympics World Games. They were held here in LA and we were dying to go but didn't get out until the last day. We trekked out to UCLA to watch volleyball. It took an hour and 45 minutes to get there. (Someday I'm going to write up what I think about LA traffic. In brief: it is almost always worth it. Just suck it up, leave early, and get on the road.) Here's what we found when we got there: total excitement. There were athletes everywhere just beaming and jumping around and showing off their medals. And the volleyball was great. We watched teams from Peru, Costa Rica, Russia, Botswana, Uruguay, Czech Republic, Turkey, Croatia, and all of them seemed just totally thrilled to be playing. There were 6 matches going on at a time and the first one to end was the women's match between Botswana and Peru. Peru won but after they took about a minute to celebrate they crossed over to Botswana's side and started a dance party. For like 20 minutes. All the players from both teams just hugged and danced and I'm telling you, I was singing We Are the World. Sportsmanship at its finest. Go Special Olympians!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Watchman has been set

Who's ready to talk about Go Set a Watchman? Anyone? Here, I'll start and then you throw your 2 cents in.

First, let's talk about the controversy. Some say Harper Lee did not authorize this publication, that she was hoodwinked by her conniving lawyer who was snooping around and found the manuscript and got great big dollar signs in her eyes. This may be true. It also may be true that Harper Lee is old and tired and thought, oh why not. Let them have it. My guess is that the truth lies, as it usually does, somewhere in the middle. But regardless, we have it now. And I'm going to throw it out there that it's the biggest thing to happen to American literature in our lifetime. So boycott it if you will (I've heard of several people who are) but we'll never know the truth and I couldn't pass it up.

Also, it's a good book. Even without any nostalgia attached to it, it's a good stand-alone book. It needs some editing. Apparently there was very little done to what they found. There are some rambling bits and arcane references that would have been smoothed over had a guiding hand been involved. But all in all, I enjoyed it very much. And how can you not be nostalgic about it? Nearly everyone we love is there.. Scout (now Jean Louise) is 26 and living in New York and comes home for two weeks to check in on Atticus who is old and rheumatic. Calpurnia, Jem, and Dill all show up in some form. There are several flashbacks that were just as charming as anything in Mockingbird. It was the flashbacks, in fact, that made it so clear why Lee's publishers declined this book and asked her to write something about Scout as a child. Her feistiness was much more appealing as a child then as an adult.

But it's her feistiness that propels the story along once she finds out that her dad is a racist. Yep, the hysterical reviews were right. Atticus is a racist. He says some really horrible shocking things. Things that truly turned my stomach. Although it is not any different from what any other white southern man in the 1950s was saying. Which makes this a much more realistic book then TKAM. I mentioned earlier that I was afraid I was going to have to think of Atticus as being from some alternate universe. Bizzaro Atticus. But that was not the case. He was the same sweet, patient, honorable man. The pain of his newly revealed beliefs was both compounded and eased by Scout feeling the exact same way as I did. Every generation changes perspective on social issues. Scout said plenty of things in the book that if said today would end up on the internet and get her fired. We're all flawed. 

So there you go. Let me know when I should schedule the book club. I'm dying to talk to people about this.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Old Lady Recommendations

I've really been old-ladying it up this summer. Watching a lot of documentaries while crocheting, that sort of thing.

Here's what I recently finished.


I made it because months ago I donated a doily for my ward's youth camp auction and then I forgot that I had donated it and didn't actually have one made. I was out of town for the auction but when I came back Katie said, "Someone bought your doily." Yeeps. So I whipped one up. And by "whipped" I mean I spent 4 months making it. The very last row with all those fiddly bits took 3 whole hours. But didn't it turn out lovely? And I don't want you to think that it's drudgery. I get a lot of joy from making beautiful things. But the fiddly bits are a beast. It has been handed over and a new one has been started. Because I'm 80 and need a crochet project at all times.

I would like to apologize for my foot in this picture. It was not intentional but I just don't feel like cropping it. It needs to be noted though because I am SO DONE with seeing feet in pictures. You guys, stop putting your feet in all your Instagram pictures. The trend needs to die and I am calling everyone to arms. I realize that trends are important sociological markers. People in the future will look back on these pictures and say, "Oh, this is from 2015. Look at the feet." But there are enough of them and it's time to move on. It would actually be a different story if you were to post a picture of your shoes and a caption that said, "Look at my cute shoes!" That would be something. But it's never that! The feet are never the subject. It's always an artisanal brownie or a mug of chai tea or a sand dollar with a seaweed leaf in the shape of a heart stuck to it AND the feet. I can barely handle thinking about how hard some people have to work to get shots like that. I wish I had saved this one picture I saw on Instagram that officially made me hate the trend. Some guy had artistically arranged his breakfast of a banana, a yogurt, and coffee on his hotel floor and took a picture of it with his bare feet next to it. All I could think of was, "You're about to eat food that has touched the hotel floor and your feet are like a millimeter away from it, Sicko!" This was the end for me.

Sorry. That was an unintentional rant. But this is about how I'm a Very Old Woman. So on to my documentary recommendations!

No, no, wait. I have to first tell you about some article I recently saw about what faux pas people make when visiting London, or something like that and it was basically all of these people saying things like, "Don't talk so loud, and say 'please' and 'thank you' to everyone, and don't block traffic especially on the tube escalators, and don't hold people up because you're not prepared in the grocery line, and just don't be rude because we won't confront you about it but will seethe in silent indignation over it." It made all Londoners sound so wonderfully cranky that I felt an immediate kinship to them. Like I had finally found my people.  Would someone please pay for me to go to London? Thank you.

Okay, now for real, the doc recs. 

1. Honest Liar. About the Amazing Randi and his lifelong quest to defraud charlatans like faith-healers, psychics, metal benders, etc. There is an interesting twist. Plus you get some classic footage of 1980s faith healers. These guys are real cads but so entertaining.

2. Web Junkie. China has deemed internet addiction the biggest health problem in their country and they have reconditioning camps for teens. It's a comfort to know that petulant, disaffected teens aren't just in America. Also, ugh, video games.

3.  Tim's Vermeer. This tech mogul decides that he wants to figure out how 17th century Dutch artist Vermeer painted such detailed, photographic pieces. So he recreates Vermeer's studio and figures it out. Probably. We'll never know. But it seems like the most probable explanation (it basically just involves a mirror and whoa is it tedious.) and his dedication to the project is mesmerizing. And now I really want to try the technique.

4. What Happened. Miss Simone? About Nina Simone. She was just phenomenal. And tortured. There is so much good music in this one.

There, go forth and watch.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Go Set a Watchman on Your Teenage Girls

1. While I was walking in to Barnes and Noble to pick up Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman two teenage girls who were sitting outside on a bench called me over and asked if I would give them a ride home. You know the next person they ask would surely be a murderer so because I'm not I thought I'd do these girls a favor and save them from certain doom. I told them to wait 10 minutes and went in and got the book then drove them the 3 miles home. Who asks a total stranger for a ride? I am, and look like, a matronly aunt so I'm a safe bet. But those girls didn't know that. Look, I hate taking the bus and I don't know that it's any safer than asking some strange woman for a lift but come on.

2. Now let's talk about Go Set a Watchman.  I read the New York Times review last week and in a nutshell it said, "ATTICUS IS A RACIST!!! WOE, WOE TO US ALL!!!!" I think we can all agree that is tough to get past. So, I'm apprehensive. But this is a Major Literary Thing happening and I want to be a part of it. And I'm just flat out curious so I'm trying to not be sentimental about it. If necessary I'm going to convince myself that it is Bizzaro Atticus from an alternate universe, remembering that it was written before To Kill a Mockingbird so just calm down, Rachel. Anyway, let's convene the Rachel Says So Virtual Book Club in a few weeks and discuss it, okay?

3. Lindsay and I went to the Hollywood Bowl on Friday to swoon over Harry Connick Jr. I'd put it in my top 5 all-time favorite shows. It was just so much fun. Also, during intermission we heard a bit of a cheering ruckus going on in the section next to us. Word made it down that there was a wedding going on. And sure enough, there was a guy in a tux and a woman in a veil and they were, indeed, getting married. Is this not the most genius thing you've ever heard? It's so memorable and fun and you can tell everyone that Harry Connick Jr. sang at your wedding. Plus, it's cheap and beautiful and you don't have to buy flowers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Soap on a Rope

I live a relatively frugal life. I just don't like spending money on frivolous things. But I have one luxury: soap. Specifically from The Soap Kitchen in Pasadena. The scent is natural and light. They make it right there in the shop. It's owned and run by a woman who has named her dog Shea Butter. Plus, it makes my skin feel so soft and luxurious. And it's like $9 a bar. NINE DOLLARS. My Mormon pioneer ancestors are rolling in their graves. But I promise you that if any one of those dear women who crossed the plains could use this soap they would totally get it and give me their blessing.

There are very few aspects of my life that are real honest to goodness Woman of Elegant Leisure status, but my soap is. I don't buy fancy clothes, I get most of my books from the library now instead of buying them. That article in the New York times about the conditions that nail salon girls work under shamed me enough to stop getting cheap pedicures which now means I get zero pedicures. I don't take extravagant vacations and we don't have cable. I live a very simple and inexpensive life. So I'm just going to keep on driving out to Pasadena to get my $9 bar of soap because it makes me feel like the Queen of England.

Related: I have a vague recollection of reading about the Queen's daily schedule and it included a morning bath with the same brand of soap and receiving a fresh bar each day. I want to say it was Yardley of London's rose soap, which I thought was weird because you can buy that at CVS for maybe $3. But this is after she is woken up by her maid who brings her tea and biscuits to eat in bed which is in a castle. Her life is not without luxury even if her soap is cheap. And also, what happens to the used soap each day? Doled out to the peasants waiting at the gates?

Also related: Have you hear of Royal Warrants? I just learned about this. It's where the royal family gives a seal of approval to a company they like and use. Yardley of London has a few. But so does Tabasco Sauce. No joke. Do you think that Her Majesty enjoys a little Tabasco on her eggs in the morning? I am a Tapatio girl myself but these are just the many things we can discuss when I eventually meet her. Soap and hot sauce. (Silent prayer: Please let me someday talk hot sauce with the Queen of England. Amen.)

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!