Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Can You Give Me a Hand?

           Confession: I have never successfully high-fived anyone. This may seem a simple task, but I lack the hand-to-eye coordination to make this work. I usually swipe through the air, missing the other person’s hand entirely.

          The same thing happens when I try to hit a golf or tennis ball. In fact, there is literally no sport involving a ball where I add value to the team. And, of course there is an explanation.


          I have dyspraxia (formerly called Clumsy Child Syndrome until they realized how judgey that sounded). One of my sons has it as well, and when invited to dance at a wedding or someplace, he simply explains that dance is a language he cannot speak.

          It isn’t that we don’t try (although we do learn pretty early on that it’s wasted effort, so yeah, we stop trying). It’s that we cannot coordinate our body like other folks. I marvel at dancers who can make their bodies into artwork. And athletes who can throw, catch, spin around, and leap.

          How I wish I could go back in time, explain this to my P.E. teachers, and then get a pass to go to the library instead. Okay, I worked that out anyhow by not putting on my gym suit, and then getting sent to the library as punishment. But I would rather have gone from compassionate understanding on their part, than being thought a defiant rebel.

          Luckily I didn’t have to ride my bike there. I still can’t put my left foot on the closest pedal, balance as the bike takes off, and then swing my right leg around. Nope. I do it 5-year-old style by sitting on the seat, putting one foot on the far pedal, and then hoping I don’t fall over anyway.

          Can’t we just play a board game, instead?

Or read a good book? Find all of mine here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Embracing Crazy

          The whole world is crazy, you know. And I’ve decided to embrace it. Here’s proof: Every October, everyone in the U.S. buys pumpkins. We turn them about to select the right shape, get excited about taking them home, and we see them in someone else’s cart and gush, “Oh, pumpkins!” the way some might say, “Oh, puppies!”

          Then we decorate with them. Same with gourds. We don’t consider eating these items of produce. Nope, they must be displayed for Halloween and then Thanksgiving. Sometimes we paint or carve them into jack-o-lanterns, adhering to this ritual as if it’s a religion. Not to have pumpkins on our porches makes us feel we’re committing a felony.

          The same is true of decorating eggs for Easter, and wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day. Many of us follow these rules more rigidly than we obey speed limit signs. We’ve grown up doing it, and no matter how much a rebel you are, casting off old traditions, you will still feel the urge to talk about groundhogs, pull April Fools pranks, ask kids what Santa is bringing them, and sing along with Christmas music. Our holidays have wriggled into our DNA.

          Imagine if, instead of pumpkins, we celebrated with, say, heads of cabbage. We would stack them up, carve them, admire them—because we would know no different. Millions of dollars would be spent for Cabbage Day decorations, and little kids would draw pictures of cabbages. No one would question this because it’s just what we do.

          And I’m on board. No matter how ridiculous a holiday is when you stop and think about it, I like these times because they unite us. Your politics, your faith, your age, your gender, your race—none of it matters. We gather to run through the same pumpkin patch mazes, we hand out candy to little kids in witch costumes, and we put scarecrows up-- even if we have no gardens to protect or crows to worry about. This is how we belong. We’re part of our culture, we’re team players, we have fun looking forward to the next excuse for candy. It gives us sameness for a little while, and a mutual goal. Happy Halloween, my fellow Americans. 

Check out my Youtube Mom channel for great pumpkin ideas!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Where Am I and How Did I Get Here?

           I've always told my writing students to avoid using dream sequences, evil  twins, and amnesia. These devices are, well, cheap. Plus, virtually nobody gets real amnesia, not the kind you see on soap operas. 

         And then I got one of the kinds. It’s temporary, resolves in 24 hours, and about 5 out of 100,000 people experience it. It’s called Transient Global Amnesia—and of course I had to get something with TRANSIENT in the name. And something you can only get if you’re over 40, so thanks for that.

          We had just picked Nicole up at the airport; she came in to be here for Bob’s ordination as 1st Counselor in the bishopric of our church. Richie was also in the car.

          But on the way home I noticed my head was swimming. I was super dizzy, my mouth was dry, and I couldn’t seem to process anything. By the time we were home, I was asking, “Am I having a stroke?” and the family was considering taking me to the Emergency Room. I kept asking the same things and couldn’t remember the answers. My brain kept flashing to other scenes, just like a movie. And no way could I stand or walk by myself. I knew my family and I knew me, but I couldn't stay in the here and now.

          Richie started looking up symptoms. We were able to rule out stroke, dehydration, epilepsy, migraines, head injury, hypertension, and drug or alcohol use. See, in Joniopolis you can just catch things out of the blue with no reasonable explanation.

          So we’re sitting around the kitchen island and Richie tells us there’s this thing called Transient Global Amnesia (TGA)-- your recall of recent events simply vanishes, so you can't remember where you are or how you got there.  Yet, despite feeling disoriented, patients are otherwise alert, attentive and have normal thinking abilities. (Well that’s the first time I’ve been accused of normal thinking).

          I was scared I’d be admitted to the hospital and miss Bob’s ordination. Plus I kept looking at Nicole and thinking, “She just got here—what a horrible way to spend a vacation.” Then I said we were supposed to be playing Rook, a favorite family game.  St. Bob—make that just Bob—then said, “Well I don’t want you for my partner!”  And the kids busted up laughing.

          We called a nurse hotline and put her on speaker. “What does your current husband weigh?” she asked.

          Are you kidding me?  I looked over at Nicole. “Is she seriously asking for the weight of my current husband?” Now we both began laughing—uncontrollably in my case—and Bob had to take over the phone call. Apparently she had said, “What’s your current height and weight?”

          Finally it was decided to let me go to bed, especially since it was late and I’d probably fall asleep in the ER if we went there. How can you test someone’s cognitive abilities if they’re asleep?

          And the next morning I was fine. Well, Joni fine. So it appears Richie had pinpointed the problem. But I think if you have a global condition you should be able to take a global vacation.

          Here we are after the ordination:

Have you watched any of my short Youtube Mom videos? Just think—if you get TGA you can watch them over and over and enjoy them all over again!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Pump it up!

           St. Bob has long been known for ingenuity. But now he’s done something I’ve never even considered: He dragged the gas nozzle around to the other side of the car: 

          You and I both know there’s a little triangle near the gas gauge on your dashboard that points to the side your gas tank is on. (If you did not already know this, you’re welcome.)  And this is great to have if you’re renting a car, but usually you know if your own car is a righty or a lefty.

          However, until now, it never occurred to me that it doesn’t matter. Those hoses are long enough to reach all the way around, exactly as you see above. So, instead of waiting for a slot to open that accommodates your gas tank’s side, you can just pull into any empty spot and drag the hose where you need it. No more long lines! What a time saver!

         But St. Bob never performs a miracle without a parting line. This time, when he got back in the car and I commented on how clever he was, he shrugged and said, “I’m ambigastreous.”  Somehow I just don’t think it works as an adjective you’d like to be labeled.

Are you ambi-books-treous? If you want to read more than one book at a time I have dozens for you to choose from, right on my website.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Keep on Truckin'

           What is going on where I live?  I’ll tell you what. People are transporting CRAZY things. Think I’m exaggerating? Check out this truck, which even brags that it contains venomous snakes. 

          Now, on the one hand, I guess somebody has to rescue you when you’re cornered by a rattlesnake. On the other hand, what if someone leaves the window cracked and they get out and swarm all over the neighborhood? On the other hand, this is a great way to ensure that nobody will ever steal your vehicle.

          And then this one says CRYOGENIC, which we all know means there are dead bodies in there, frozen and waiting to be unfrozen. 

Some folks will tell you this is incorrect, that these vehicles contain liquid nitrogen and cryogenic gases.  SO THEY SAY.  But we’ve all seen the movies. And I can just picture dead bodies stacked up inside there.  What if that truck gets in a wreck, the back bursts open, and corpses come toppling out onto the hood of your car? 

OR… this is just someone’s brilliant idea of a way to keep us quarantined in our homes.  I must say, it’s working.

And while you’re inside, check out my Youtube Mom videos. There are hundreds of short life hacks to occupy you while you avoid rattlesnakes and zombies.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

All in Vein

          Folks, I just had an ultrasound and I can tell the gender! For those of you who think I could be pregnant, THANK  YOU for thinking I’m young enough. For those of you whose mouths have fallen open in shock (including St. Bob), here’s the skinny:

          I just had my final reconstructive surgery after breast cancer and a mastectomy (all went well, happy with results), but it took A SOLID HOUR to get an IV into my arm. My veins want no part of this. They scoot around, they collapse, and they finally play dead like an opossum.

          First, the nurse takes a stab—pun intended—at this goal. When that doesn’t work, she tries another spot. Then another. Finally she brings in a vein-finder machine and an additional person. Another swing and a miss.

          Eventually an ultra-sound machine is wheeled in, complete with gel. Now a new technician stares at the screen as he feels around in my arm with a needle, looking for a vein that will allow the storm troopers to breach the castle wall.  And, finally, it works.

          I told him if he sees a baby in there kicking around, there’s going to be trouble. Oh, and my gender is unchanged.

          However, my arm now looks like a new bakery item: Eggplant Muffins. Sure, they’ll probably taste weird, but the dark purple splotches definitely grab the eye.

          Meanwhile, how about we add a new category for the Olympics: Getting a needle into Joni’s veins? Although I’m not sure I want to volunteer for this.

The best thing to do when recuperating (or just self- isolating) is to read a great book. Find my faves right here!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Fig Diet

         Okay, everyone has gained their 19 pounds from COVID-19.  So today I’m giving you an easy way to cut down on all the overeating we’ve been doing.

          It starts with figs.

          Did you know figs have to be pollinated on the inside? This means fig wasps crawl in to lay their eggs, but in the process lose their wings. So the female wasp dies inside the fruit.  YIKES, right?  I mean, an enzyme in the fig breaks her carcass down into protein, but STILL. I promise this is true; you can look it up.

          And I already told you that all chocolate bars contain fragments of roaches. The FDA allows anything less than 60 insect pieces per 100 grams of chocolate.  Roach parts are also in popcorn, wheat, peanut butter, fruit, cheese, and pasta.

          Insect pieces are in almost everything—canned goods, baked goods, boxed goods, veggies, coffee, tomatoes, spices, fast food. Experts say it’s just the cost of doing business in the food industry. They can’t eliminate ALL the pests, so they decided what percentage is basically safe for us to eat!

          But it’s even worse. (Are you shedding pounds, yet?) Some foods’ formulas deliberately add fish bladders, human hair, duck feathers, and a musky/vanilla-scented beaver secretion. Each of these items provides something they want— say, for fluffier bread.

          So, not to bug you, but are you gonna eat that last bite of ice cream, or can I have it?

Many of my Youtube Mom videos show you slick tricks for fixing and storing all these foods (be brave), along with must-see life hacks.