Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Hot Mess Express

          Folks, you cannot make this stuff up.  About a week ago I fly to another city to join with some girlfriends to celebrate two of their birthdays. Except one of them is sick and can’t come.  And this is the one who’s supposed to drive me back to the airport, an hour and a half away, at the end of the trip.
          The others quickly book me a private shuttle, but then that service cancels due to a computer crash.  First world problems, I know.  BUT… this means I must now book a train ride, getting as close to the airport as possible.
          And usually train rides are great fun.  However, in Joniopolis things can happen.  Boarding the train is no problem.  But when it pulls into my stop, I jump off with my luggage, and notice the place doesn’t look quite right.  So I ask a couple walking by if this is, indeed, the stop I need. 
          “No, no!” they shout.  “It’s the next stop!”  Then they GRAB MY LUGGAGE AND THROW IT BACK ONTO THE TRAIN!  Have you ever done this in your life?  Naturally I jump back onto the train to stay with my bag, and then the doors shut and the train begins moving.  (Not all Samaritans are good, I have decided.)
          There’s no conductor, no train personnel anywhere, to ask.  I’m stuck waiting for the next stop, which turns out to be in one of the worst neighborhoods in the state, with no train station whatsosever. The last stop was the right one, not this one. I have no idea what that couple was thinking.
I cross the street to the “good” side and call for Uber while standing in piles of garbage.  
Then my phone freezes.  I walk down the road past this lovely billboard and the warning sign below it. I just know I will be robbed at any minute, my luggage the giveaway that I am not a local resident.
I find a “convenience market” that looks like it was just ransacked, or perhaps went through an earthquake.
  The man in there, behind several barricades, cannot help me call Uber. On the other hand, next door is a used car lot behind a tall wrought iron fence, where I could probably pick up a car for about $200.00
 I stand outside and try Uber again.  This time I connect. In a few minutes a woman pulls up to the curb.  She is wearing a floppy hat and I do not ask if this is her day job; I do not wish to know.
She drops me at the airport and I go through security, but one of my shoes dings and I have to be x-rayed, my shoes examined.  Were the TSA folks just bored, and wanted something to do?  Incredibly, they are suspicious of my shoe, but not my water bottle, which sailed through inspection.
I head for my gate, but the whole place is a ghost town.  

How can an airport be this empty?  In every direction I look, I am the only passenger in the terminal. And then I get it: I’ll bet everybody else is stuck on a train somewhere.
But if you are stuck on a train, at least bring along something to read. I recommend one of my books.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I Heart You

          This is my kind of heart attack.  In a recent blog I shared with you that I have just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  That’s never good news, but it elicited some good things.  For one, trials like this bring you closer to those you love.  My husband’s love and support looks magnified right now. My children are awesome, including the one who said, “Maybe the new breast they give you will have some cool smart features. Maybe they can install Alexa.”
          But it also opened up the hearts of my other loved ones, my dear friends.  Flowers, cookies, gifts from the kitchen—I have felt showered with love.  My artist friend, Debbie Johnson, dreamed a painting to give me—and it’s phenomenal—check it out on my Facebook page.
But today I want to share the surprise my neighbor and her kids gave me.  Just minutes after telling her of my diagnosis, my doorbell rang and here’s the “heart attack” she and her children promptly prepared and then left on my door:
I love that one of the hearts states, “You will get better! (that’s a fact)” written by one of her young sons.  Her daughter drew a picture of me with four wonderful strands of hair sticking straight up like pins.  I adore it!  When the wind suggested I take the hearts off my door, I attached them to a long ribbon that hangs in a cheery swag over my desk now.
I am beyond grateful to so many wonderful friends who reached out with exactly what would mean the most, ministering to my soul and giving me the smiles and hugs I need right now.  Is there someone in your life who needs reminding that you care about them?  Can you cut out a heart from paper?  Maybe you can make someone’s day, and make this world a better place.
          And speaking of moms and kids, check out my YouTube mom videos here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Living the Highland Life

          Have you ever been to a Scottish festival?  We have a huge one here, complete with Highland Games, Piping Band competitions, and kilts everywhere you look.
          There were cute little Scottish kids,

          a Haggis hurling competition (in which my son Richie placed second a few years ago, for throwing one a hundred feet and you can read about that here), Highland dancers (one of whom left his other shoes and socks at the base of a tree):

          Highland cattle:
          And a bagpipe band competition in which our friends, Nancy and Alex Theriault’s sons, Nick and Ben, played flawlessly and wowed the crowd.  You can read more about Nick here. Yes,  he is a virtuoso.
          Just before my surgery, dear friends Lori and Tony McAnelly invited us to come along for this day of fun and excitement.  Yes, they wore tartans.  No, I did not because I don’t have one. 
I did, however, stop at a booth which researches your clan and discovered that St. Bob has a Hilton line that can claim Tweedside, a tartan that looks like this:
          AND it takes no imagination whatsoever to extrapolate that we must surely be related to Tweedle Dee and the other one who is probably the direct relative, yet shall go unnamed.
          After news like that, all Nicole and I could do was console ourselves, not with sheep’s stomach, but with a local delicacy probably straight from the Highlands of Scotland:
          And, since I have no tartan I decided there needs to be a MacWannabe Tartan for all the people who wish they had Scottish ancestry.  I think it would look like this. In 24 karat.  Just saying.
Scottish or not, you will love my books-- see those plus my YouTube channel here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Keeping Abreast

          The nose skin was just the beginning.  Folks, I have just learned that I also have breast cancer.  I wanted to say, “Seriously? Can you have two kinds at the same time?  I mean, isn’t there a law or something, like the rule about lightning?”
          Two radiologists looked at the ultrasound, and even before doing a biopsy they said the chances were nearly a hundred per cent.  As St. Bob and I left the imaging center I said, “Well, with your prostate cancer and my breast cancer we can both qualify for gender reassignment!”  And think of it—we can swap wardrobes!  Talk about being hip and on trend.
          Remember that I wrote a musical comedy about Bob’s cancer? And it included a song about breast cancer?  Eerie how often the things I write come true later.  I should have written about winning the lottery without even buying a ticket.
          Next up was the biopsy where I was told they’d be extracting core samples.  Excuse me?  I have a geologist son who does that to the earth’s crust.  You should see the equipment he uses.  But his doesn’t sound like a nail gun being shot into your chest.  Whatever.
          So after the biopsy, blood work, and a deafening MRI, it turns out I have Invasive Lobular Carcinoma.  Doctors are planning to shrink the tumor and then operate later.  I will say this: Lucky I had a skin cancer doctor I could call for a referral to a breast cancer doctor.  See?  There’s always a silver lining. Although I think having two cancers at one time is taking multi-tasking a bit too far.
          I would have guessed I’d be hysterical at this news, but it turns out I’m very pragmatic—who knew?  I’m calm, at peace, and ready to do whatever’s next. God gives us strength to survive the impossible. And, of course, plenty of blog material.
I also never run out of ideas for novels-- check out a few of my titles here (and they make great gifts!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Who Nose?

          Doggone it, I’ve got skin cancer on the tip of my nose!  A couple of weeks ago I went in for a biopsy of a tiny little bump that looked like a blister. I thought I might be turning into a unicorn or a narwhal. A friend from church said I’d probably just had my nose to the grindstone. Naturally St. Bob suggested that I’ve been lying a lot.
          The biopsy left me wearing a little Bandaid for a month.  Bob said to tell everyone I’ve enrolled in clown school, and then say, “Did you know there’s a thumb tack in those red noses?”
          Son Brandon was completely perplexed.  “Skin cancer? You? That would be like hearing you have cirrhosis of the liver.”  Indeed. I am not only the last person who would want a drink, but the last who would lie in the sun or forget my sunscreen.
          But now the results are in, and I’ll have to have surgery. Of course, since I wrote a musical comedy about Bob’s prostate cancer, he says now he needs to write a musical about my nose.  “I could totally do the lyrics for that,” I said. “Do you have any idea how many words rhyme with nose?” 
          And of course when I texted the result to the kids, autocorrect chose the word “basil sale” instead of “basal cell,” and even offered a lovely emoji of the herb.  That’s right, I’m growing basil on the tip of my nose.  You’ve heard of hydroponics, right? How about sinus-ponics?
          All I know is that the next time I’m tempted to say, “It’s no skin off my nose,” I’ll stop and think.  Oh, yeah.  It is.
Stay inside, out of the sun, and read my books!  You can find them all right here.       

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Well, Shoot!

Get ready for the best (worst?) auto-correct story you’ve heard.  And of course, it happened last week to St. Bob.
          First, the setting.  At our church’s recent semi-annual General Conference, it was announced that, in every congregation, the two main men’s groups would now be combined, with a new presidency.  That meant releasing both previous presidents, their counselors, and secretaries.  And much of this task fell to men like Bob, who serve on the High Council.
          So he began contacting the various men to let them know he’d like to meet with them to do this. As part of his text, he dictated into his phone, “I’ll release you this week,” before requesting a convenient time.
          I was across the room, not really listening, when I heard him shout, “No! No!”  Yep. Yep.  He had already pressed “send” before checking his message, and it went out as “I’ll really shoot you this week.”
          And we can all see how “release you” can become “release-shoo” to an iphone’s ears, right? Soon “really shoot” becomes its choice and away you go.
          Bob called the guy right away and they both cracked up over his gaff.  But then the guy said, “Do you know what line of work I’m in?”
          Bob did not.
          “I’m in law enforcement,” he said.  But of course.
Have you seen my YouTube Mom videos?  Check ‘em out here.  There’s even one for how to apologize.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Snowball Fight of One

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and guess that you don’t know many people who have blogged about Hostess Snowballs.  And even fewer who have blogged about them twice.  So I think I’m sort of making history.
Or at least I’m making bunny cakes. A couple of weeks ago, for Easter, I made my usual bunny cakes.  Here’s what they look like, nothing the Food Channel would gasp over, but an endearing bit of family tradition:
And every year it’s an ordeal to find the “bunny butts” or tails.  Hostess Snowballs must be an endangered species, because I typically hunt high and low before I can find some.
This year St. Bob came to my rescue and offered to go out and find them while I was greasing the pans and beating the batter.  (These cakes are simple to make—you just put two halves of a round cake together and you have the bunny’s body.  Each cake recipe makes two bunnies.)
Except the first store where Bob looked didn’t have the snowballs.  Nor did the second store.  Nor did the third.  But St. Bob is a saint, after all, so he would not give up.  Luckily, the fourth store had some green ones.  Unluckily Bob had no green ones as he had left his wallet home.  He asked the clerk if he could buy them with an app on his phone, but she had no idea how to work this.
By now he’d been gone well over an hour and I was wondering what on earth had kept him so long.  I had no idea the tenacity of my husband, hobbling all over town on his replaced knee. Finally a store manager helped him electronically purchase the absolutely essential finishing touch for the bunny cakes and he returned, the victorious warrior.
But he also made me promise to order these a week ahead of time, next year.  Done and done.
Speaking of ordering, have you ordered any of my books, yet?  Waaay more fun than chasing around town for Snowballs.