Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Mud Makes You Happy


          Ding, ding, ding—stop the presses! Scientists now claim that dirt can prevent anxiety disorders.
          You think I’m kidding. Nope. In Neuroscience Psychology they’ve cited a study that claims a fatty acid in soil can lead to a “stress vaccine” and that people who like to garden are just happier, better people. Okay, I  added that last part about gardeners because I like to garden.
          But they’re dead serious about the mental health benefits of playing in the dirt. For years folks have believed the “hygiene hypothesis” that exposure to germs makes you more immune. Back in 1989 it was found that lack of exposure to microorganisms in childhood led to higher rates of allergies and asthma.
          But now they believe it impacts mental health as well. One study shows farm kids being more stress-resilient than pet-free city dwellers. (Like that’s the only variable, right? Could it be chores? Fresh air?  Lack of traffic noise? Gimme a break.)
          So I was skeptical. But then they found that a certain bacteria was like an antidepressant in the brain and even impacted PTSD. They’re looking into injecting this bacteria into first responders and others in high-stress careers.
          Meanwhile, it sounds like mud pies could be just what the doctor ordered. I do know that my gardening buddies all claim an unexplainable joy they get from getting their bare hands into the soil.  
          And taking a mud bath? Well… now you’re talking heaven in a bathtub, my friend.
Surely you wouldn’t dream of bathing without a good book to read, right? Find my latest and greatest right here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Think Before You Ink

          Ah, the things we can learn from tattoos.  The other day I noticed my supermarket checkout guy had a gigantic tattoo on his arm, of a girl’s name. Let’s say it was Doopsie, just because I don’t know any Doopsies.
          “Oh, is Doopsie your wife?” I  asked. 
          “No, no!” he said, leaving a string of exclamation marks in the air. “That’s my daughter.”  
And now, the TMI part. “I’d never get a tattoo of a wife’s name,” he explained. “’Cause tattoos are forever, y’know?”
I nodded.
“And my daughter, now she’ll  be my daughter forever. But with a wife, you never know.”
Indeed.  Those fickle wives, coming and going like the latest cell phones. 
By now I had my groceries, so I didn’t get to inquire for more information. Also, I didn’t want any.
But it got me thinking. First, why would you marry someone you weren’t sure about? Second, how many wives are we talking, here? I mean, there’s a lot of square footage on the average body. 
Third, what if you have six or seven kids? Then do you get equally gigantic tattoos for each child, lest one feel left out? Has he thought ahead about this? And he can protest all he wants about only wanting one or two kids, but we all know who’s in charge of efficient prevention, right?
Also, what’s his wife’s reaction to a lavish hearts-and-roses mural for Doopsie, but not one for her? And does the wife have a matching Doopsie tattoo? What happens when Doopsie grows up and then has a bunch of grandkids for this guy? Will they also be emblazoned somewhere?  And, by then, what places will be left?  Armpits? Buttocks? Who wants their name there? I’m just saying. A tattoo is forever, after all.
I suppose the pages of my books are tattooed with text. But it's doggone good text, so get started on your Christmas shopping here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Signs of the Times


          I’m walking through the hospital hallways to get a CT-Scan, and I see a door bearing this sign:
          I can’t help wondering how an alarm can be silent.  Does that not negate its very ability to sound an alarm?  Or does a mime burst into your office trying to look like the Silent Scream painting?
          What is it with facilities and their signs? You may remember one of my blogs from four years ago that featured this goody, again from my hospital:
          Seriously? We’re to respect rattlesnakes at a HOSPITAL? Why not just be honest, and post a donation box with a sign that says, “Saving up for an exterminator. Please contribute here”?
          And you may recall another of my blogs that featured this puzzling sign in a local office building:
          I can only assume it’s a lab we do not wish to know about,  where the animals have taken over, tied up the scientists, and are now roasting marshmallows over a fire made from lab coats and paperwork.
          I can’t help wondering what the office parties are like at sign factories. I’m guessing they have a contest to decide the craziest projects they’ve worked on. But you probably wouldn’t want to open that door, either.
Speaking of doors, St. Bob used to host Let’s Make a Deal, and would offer Doors Number 1, 2,  or 3 to contestants. But even the zonks were better than what I imagine hides behind some real doors.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Hot friends

          Do you have hot friends? How about hot in-laws? Well, try to top this. My brother-in-law’s truck burst into flames recently:
          A generator in the truck caught fire. Luckily he was nowhere near it. He and a hunting buddy had gone away for dinner, and noticed a giant plume of black smoke as they returned.  When they got there the flames were just reaching the huge stash of ammunition AND a propane tank.  They said it was like a war zone with one explosion after another.
          Then another friend of mine, who races cars (I am so jealous; you know that’s my spirit career), sent this shot of his car that also caught on fire. Luckily the driver wasn’t hurt.
          And then, at the same racetrack, ANOTHER truck burst into flames—and yep, it had a generator on board that caused the fire.
          Maybe it’s just as well that I became a mild-mannered (okay, a semi-mannered) writer who sits indoors, perfectly still, and stays out of the heat wave.
          But hot deals await you, my friend. Check out my books on my website here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Come One, Come All!


          I’m excited. I love teaching writing and on Saturday, September 14th I get another opportunity. I teach what to do, and I also teach what not to do. One of the nots is overwriting. Recently I came across an ad for a simple blazer, with this description:

          A crisply chic mandarin collar meticulously-constructs this eclectic overpiece, lending an individualistic essence that's immeasurably maximized. Rendering a dedication to craftsmanship in a figure-skimming iteration, this fashion-focused twill jacket is developed through time-honored techniques and tailored touches.

          I know, excruciating. A dense forest of verbiage that could choke the hungriest herbivore.  Or verbivore.
          Sometimes people do this to show off their vocabulary, always a bad idea. When you’re trying to stump your readers, you lose them.  Other times it’s because the writer lacks confidence. They think they have to expound, embroidering until all you can see is the thread. But simple and concise is not only more professional, it’s more accessible.
          Perhaps Mark Twain, who was often paid by the word, said it best: “'I never write ‘metropolis’ for seven cents, because I can get the same money for ‘city.’”
          If you live anywhere in the Sacramento metropolis, er, city, come join the fun in Roseville from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Here’s the link where you can register for this college extension class that will help anybody get organized and begin their novel, play, or short story. It’s called “Start with the Bones.”

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Join Today!


          Does your mind ever play tricks on you?  It must.  This is why we all enjoy optical illusions and close-up magic.  We marvel that we can stare at one thing and see something else.
          But does it ever happen with your name?  A friend of mine recently wrote, “I have to tell you, when I was in Chicago last week we were staying at the Chicago Hilton, and everywhere I looked there were signs inviting me to apply to be a member of the Hilton rewards program. The signs had just two words: Join Hilton, and I kept thinking I was seeing your name.”
          I’ve actually had the same thing happen—when typing my own name I’ve often transposed it to read “Join”  instead of “Joni.” Even worse, I sometimes write “XoXo” to loved ones, and occasionally I’ll check it before sending and realize that it actually says “SoSo.”
          But does your name spell something else if you mess with the letters? Think about St. Bob. His name spells Bob forward and backward, the lucky duck. But what if your name is Bart? Do you sometimes write Brat?  Did Burl Ives sometimes write Blur Eyes? 
          And sometimes we see what we want to see.  Anytime I see a sign that starts with “C” my mind wants to read, “chocolate.” 
           But usually it just says “Capital” something, since I live in California’s capital, Sacramento.  Naturally you find Capital bank, Capital cleaners’, Capital cafĂ©—all of which could double their business if they simply changed the first word to Chocolate.
          Sadly, the word “Chocolate” is not in any of my book titles.  But you can write it in if you prefer, for a more delicious read. Heck, you can even cross out “Joni” and write “Join”  if you wish.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Doggerel Days


          Doggerel is a word which means an irregular, silly, or badly written rhyme. I’m going to assume that its origins trace to my own dogs’ ancestors who were undoubtedly all three—irregular, silly, and bad.
          However, this does not mean I don’t love dogs; I do. They just need to attend I.Q. camp. You recall, of course, that one of my dogs literally did this damage to this book:
          He was also the one who kept barking at an old hot water heater before it was picked up for recycling.
          Today we are down to Mickey, so named because she sort of has a silhouette of Mickey Mouse on her back. The other day I saw her at the glass back door, barking at the porch.  I figured there must be an animal of some kind out there, and a scary one at that.  Nope. This is what had the nerve to be crouching on our cement:
          St. Bob had left a small Home Depot bag on the patio table, and it had blown onto—horrors!—the ground.  She also had a fit some time ago when a stray balloon found its way to the kitchen island: 
          And now, to share with you her latest hobby, it’s twirling in our curtains.

         



Occasionally she gets so wound up in them she can hardly find her way out.










Last week I was grocery shopping and saw a magazine called Inside Your Dog's Mind. How can there be even one paragraph of information on this topic, much less an entire magazine? I didn’t browse through it. I just assumed it would be photos of cobwebs. Maybe some doggerel poetry about dogs’ thoughts.
          But I adore Mickey nonetheless. After all, she thinks I’m hilarious.
The best way to endure the dog days of summer is to stay inside where it's cool and read one of my books. Find them all right here.