Tuesday, July 18, 2017

10 Things I Will Not Do on My Next Summer Vacation

  1. I will not let the family comedian ride by the window where he can motion for the drivers of semi trucks to honk, thus scaring the rest of us out of our wits.
  2. I will not park a motorhome next to a gathering of people who are still mourning the death of Jerry Garcia.
  3. I will not allow a Boy Scout to navigate, just so he can get a badge.
  4. I will not allow a Boy Scout to navigate, just because he GOT a badge.
  5. I will not allow any chorus of children to sing songs about finding peanuts.
  6. I will not stay on a working ranch that doesn’t realize the word ‘working’ is just a figure of speech.
  7. I will not engage in any activity that involves oars.
  8. I will not go to a ‘cook your own food’ restaurant (isn’t this what we went on vacation to escape?)
  9. I will not wear knit pants on any ride that bears the sign: You will get soaked.
  10. I will not participate in hula stage shows if video cameras are present.
  11. I will not sign up for the city tour on a bus that also transports chickens.
  12. I will not buy musical replicas of national monuments.
  13. I will not pack any shoe with more than a one-inch heel.
  14. I will not allow shells containing live creatures, to be packed up and brought home.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Berry Surprising

          It’s summertime.  Okay, it’s summertime in the northern hemisphere.  And that, for many people, means strawberries.
 I’ve told you before that I live in the most productive area of the world when it comes to produce.  Farmers’ markets abound, and you can find juicy, gigantic strawberries red to the center.  In fact, California produces 75% of all of these luscious gems.
But did you ever wonder how they got that name?  It’s been around for a thousand years, before they were even cultivated, when they still grew wild. So the idea that the name came from the careful placement of straw under the berries to protect them, is out.
That leaves just two other theories.  One is that the little flecks on them (called achenes) are the color of straw.  
Pretty weak, if you ask me.  You could just as easily call them wheat berries.  Except wheat berries already exist.
          So the last theory is that it comes from “stray” or “strew,” describing the tendrils and runners that seem to spread across the ground. Maybe that’s the best fit, but we’ll never know conclusively.
          However, we do know several cool things about strawberries:
1.      They’re the first berry to ripen in the Spring (and maybe we should say the early bird gets the strawberry.  Or the worm gets the strawberry.  I don’t know.  Whoever’s up first.)
2.    They have about 200 of those little seeds on each one.  And they’re the only fruit with their seeds on the outside. (And each “seed” is considered its own separate fruit!)
3.     They aren’t really a berry at all, but members of the rose family, an “accessory fruit,” which stand to reason in my book, because they do kind of look like purses.
4.    One cup of strawberries contains just 55 calories—and more vitamin C than oranges—which is not cancelled out just because you served them with shortcake and whipped cream. Or dipped in chocolate.
5.     Like most fruit, strawberries taste sweetest when served at room temperature rather than chilled.
6.    They can actually whiten teeth, because the acid in them removes stains.

          So there you have it—enough information to entertain your friends as you serve up a delicious STRAWBERRY CREAM PUFF or STRAWBERRY DUMPLING—two of my prize-winning recipes you can find here.  Yummers.  You’re welcome.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Oh, That Surprising Ancestry!

           Last month, for Father’s Day, the kids gave St. Bob one of those DNA testing kits that reveals you are actually your wife's third cousin. Okay, maybe not.  But it tells you the nationalities that make up your ancestry. 
          He immediately sent it in, and now we are waiting for the results.  I, of course, cannot resist speculating and if “pirate” or “clown” were actual nationalities I can see a big slice of that pie chart bearing swords and red noses.

          We’ve traced his genealogy (back to Adam on several lines, actually), and it’s mostly from the British Isles.  But it dips in and out of Scandinavia, too.   His family—many of whom came to the U.S. in the 16oos before it even was the U.S., also harbors a rumor that someone was married to a Cherokee woman, so we’re hoping for some Native American percentage, as well.
          Of course I cannot resist making a game of this, and I invited our kids to join the guessing game.  When the results finally arrive I plan to gather everyone in a big conference call, the way people in our church do when someone opens their mission call.
          Meanwhile, they are to send in their guesses. Second son Brandon’s is “1/3 English, 1/6 Scottish, 1/3 Scandinavian, 1/6 French (since Bob is from Louisiana), and the rest is probably extra  terrestrial.”
          I texted right back, “Yes!  I’ll bet you anything he’s an alien from outer space!  I may change my guess to at least half that.”

          Brandon said, “Ha ha, exactly.  If the results get delivered by men in black, you’ll know you were right.”
          So stay tuned.  Meanwhile, visit my website and watch some of my YouTube Mom videos or buy my books.  It’s summertime and you need a break!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Twinsies Again

          Something weird is going on.  I mentioned before that every time Bob gets injured I follow right behind him with a nearly-matching ailment. Remember when he had cancer surgery and I instantly had kidney stones?  We even had matching hospital bracelets!

          Then he tripped over a curb, slammed his arm into a post, and garndered a bruise the size and color of an eggplant:
          and I promptly tripped over a vine in the garden, did a face plant in some gravel, and came stumbling into the house for ice, looking like a blueberry muffin.
          Well, just trust me.  That’s how I looked.  Bob has accused me of trying to upstage him and even said, “It’s MY hurt time.”
          But I can’t seem to stop.  And believe me, I wouldn’t put myself through all this just out of sympathy.  The other night we were out on our patio enjoying the results of our hard gardening work:
          when Bob showed me a bug bite on his ankle that had swollen to the size of a grapefruit.  We figure it must be a spider bite.
          “You won’t believe this,” I said, and put my left ankle next to his.  “I have a bite on the same ankle!”
          I told him not to accuse me of training a spider to select the exact same spot.  No animal trainer in the world is that good.  Still, it seems I keep trying to copy him.
          What’s going to happen if he suddenly gets bitten by a Brown Recluse? Or a Black Mamba snake? One of us has to call 911, but we’ll both be in comas together. 
          I now have a new mission—to keep that guy alive and also help him win the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. I mean, if I copy everything he does...
Meanwhile, you can buy my books and help us through these crazy predicaments while we try to figure it all out!          

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

15 Ways You Know You've Been Married a Long Time

          June is the most popular month for weddings, and though this isn’t my anniversary month, maybe it’s yours.  So I’ve compiled a list of 15 ways you can know you’ve been married a long time:
1.       You both forget your anniversary.
2.      You finish each other’s sentences.
3.       You no longer try to correct his stories (you can’t remember them, either).
4.      You can order for him in a restaurant, while he parks the car.
5.       You accept the way he drives, and bring some reading along.
6.      You each buy your own gifts for the other to give you.
7.       You’ve both learned the choreography of how to maneuver in the kitchen together, dodging the opening of the dishwasher and refrigerator.
8.      Instead of asking his opinion, you tell him what it is.
9.      Staying up late means 9 p.m. and really late is 9:30.
10.     Party Animal means cute photos of your pets.
11.     The only way to remove your wedding ring is to cut it off.
12.     Old photos of the two of you look like complete strangers.
13.     Your wedding gifts are now in the antique shop.
14.     You touch up his hair once a month.
15.     One look lets you know he loves you.

Have you visited my website lately?  You can access all my books, my YouTube Mom videos, and even see another photo of St. Bob under the “About Me” tab.  Check it out here!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My Link to Butch Cassidy

          I started this blog on the advice of a social media friend of mine, who said my readers would enjoy a peek into my life.  It quickly became a humor blog because that’s seems to be how my life is. And now you know why I mostly write comedy.
But once in awhile, like the time I confessed to loving horse racing, I will admit a thing or two in this blog. And here is another of my secrets: I once slept in Butch Cassidy’s cave.  This is the famous bank robber, far right, in a photo with his buddies:
Approximately 300 years ago, when I was fourteen, my Dad led a group of educators on a survival trip through the Moab area of Utah. I tagged along, all skinny arms and legs then, drinking out of puddles and bouncing over boulders in Jeeps.  To call it a rough, treacherous ride would lend it more luxury than it deserves and there were moments when I wondered if the jerking and yanking would knock all our teeth out.
For miles we drove through dry river beds and over sandstone boulders the size of houses, to get as far from civilization as possible.  And then we had a freak thunderstorm.  Suddenly the river beds were gushing with a flash flood of whitewater rapids, and we were trapped.  Ask anyone who lives there and they’ll tell you this can happen within seconds.
We noticed our forest ranger guides were on their walkie-talkies, and I fully expected them to summon helicopters.  They did not.  Instead, they led us to a cave with old, rusty pots in it and logs fashioned into chairs. They were adamant that we not touch anything, as this was one of Butch Cassidy’s hideouts!  Yes, I got goosebumps.  They were confident that none of us would ever be able to find it again, and they were right.  Evidently only certain officials even knew about it.  We rolled out our sleeping bags and slept like bank robbers.  Or train robbers.  I assume they sleep sound as rocks.
And in the morning, the rain had rinsed the desert, leaving brilliant red sandstone canyons for us to enjoy on the bumpy ride home again.  I don’t know if we were in Robber’s Roost or another spot, but I’ll never forget my adventure.
And just now St. Bob has traveled to Moab to Rally on the Rocks, an offroad vehicle gathering where he experienced similar terrain and scenery.

This gives you an idea of the steep surfaces people climb, the rock formations they see, the sudden changes in weather (snow flurries and 35 degrees for him one day),
and why robbers were easily able to hide among the canyons here.
But he didn’t sleep in any caves, much less a famous one.  He had great accommodations and fabulous food. If only Butch Cassidy could see it now.    

You can enjoy my books on a vacation, in a cave, or in the quiet calm of your own home.  Order one here today!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Salami Occasion

          Our church does a really cool thing.  It runs a four-year program of daily religious study for high school kids, starting at 6:20 a.m. before their regular class schedule.  And they attend.  In droves.   
          You can imagine the discipline and commitment it takes. So it’s quite a big deal to get a four-year pin and a diploma. And right now, in early June, is when they have Seminary Graduation.
          However, the one thing Seminary cannot do is remove the monkey gene, if your kid has one.  And naturally, my mind goes back to the graduation ceremony of our son, Cassidy, when he achieved this honor ten years ago.  
          First, picture it.  We are all sitting in the chapel pews, dressed up for the occasion, excited to see him walk up when his name is called.  One by one other kids go up, receive their diplomas and pins, shake hands with a member of the Stake Presidency, and march confidently back to their seats.
          And then the speaker opens the next leather-bound diploma, and WITH A STRAIGHT FACE says into the mike, “Cassidy Thadwell Hilton the third, Junior.”
          Are you kidding me?  This solemn occasion, the culmination of four years of hard work, and our kid submits a fake name?  And they print it up and let him get away with it?
          Now, mind you, the speaker knows us.  He knows that if Cassidy is a junior, his father must have the same name, right?  But it’s Bob.  And nobody in the history of mankind, I believe, has ever been named “the third, junior.”  Thadwell is also a contrivance.
          There’s some snickering and I can feel my face reddening as people turn to stare at us. Yet our monkey boy is on his feet, proudly marching up to receive this bogus document.
          And he's apparently still up to his antics.  For one thing, I keep getting junk mail for “Gustav” Hilton and “Spanky” Hilton.  Hey, for all I know he faked his own birth certificate.  I wouldn’t put it past him.
Have you seen my YouTube Mom videos?  This is what happens after you raise four comedians.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What's That Growing By the Side of the Road?

          One more France story.  We are driving along, somewhere between Paris and Lake Annecy, when we decide to stop for lunch.  Or rather, Flunch, in a convenience mart like no other I’ve ever seen.
This is what one of their shelves looks like:
          They also have lavish dessert bars, cheese bars, enough to make the day of it, though we did not.
          Anyway, riding along, I’d been noticing fields of yellow flowers which I think are mustard. At least they look like the mustard fields of California. And, after all, Dijon is not far away. 
But just to be sure, I decide to ask the friendly lady at the gas station.
          “Oh,” she says, in not bad English, “that’s diesel.”
          I am wondering what French word that can be, since surely she can’t mean fuel.
          “Makes your car go,” the woman continues, zooming her hand through the air to demonstrate.
          I am speechless, a frequent occurrence in France, but I manage to say, “You mean diesel fuel?”
          “Yes,” she says.  She is most emphatic.
          I know no one in my family will believe this, so I drag Richie over to verify this truly amazing story, and she tells him, as well, that they are growing diesel in those fields.
          None of us have a proper comeback, so we buy our snacks and leave, later verifying with a cheese vendor that evening, that it is actually canola they’re growing. Okay, so maybe the first lady thinks diesel is the English word for oil, and she thinks oil and gas do the same thing?  Maybe.  I’m stretching, here.  “She works at a gas station!” Richie mumbles.
          But we get home and learn that canola and mustard plants look identical.  In fact, I see matching photos when I Google both of them. 
They are very closely related, but one yields a mild oil and the other a tangy mustard. I would imagine farmers must be careful to distinguish these, no?  This would not be a good time to confuse Brassica napus with Brassica juncea.



          Either way, I’ve already decided what I will say if a tourist asks me what’s growing in our mustard fields.  I’m going with latex paint.  Hey, they need something to write home about.
And you need something fun to read.  Try out my books, here!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How do you say "YUM!" in French?

Here’s the deal with French food.  I love it.  I love it too much and will eat until I am sick, like a dog with a stack of steaks.
I love the sauces, I love the ingredients, and I most of all love that you are basically eating art.  Here are just a few examples caught on camera before I inhaled them on our recent trip to France:
And believe me, there were more.  I even love the fact that Du Pain Et Des Idees, a little bread bakery in Paris, has this for its ceiling:
I cannot find its equal in the U.S.
At Pierre Herme they will design a dessert for you that reflects the personality of your company.  And you could swoon over their macarons, fall to the ground and hit your head.  They’re that good.
at Amorino in Paris they even sculpt ice cream into a rose:
HOWEVER, drum roll please, my daughter did the sweetest thing, no pun intended.  She made me a fabulous cake for Mother’s Day.  And this is no mere fete.  It’s Verden’s Beste Kake, the national cake of Norway, which translates to The World’s Best Cake. 
When she pronounces it, it sounds even better.  It’s layers of sponge cake (that taste like pound cake), meringue, cream, custard, almonds, and fruit.  You bake the meringue and the cake together at the same time—wow! 
So maybe I can survive without a trip to France for awhile.  Piece of cake.
And what goes better with cake than a great book to read? Order any one of my 25 books here and curl up with a generous serving!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Parlez vous Cat & Apple?

          I recently went to France on a vacation with two of my children.  To prepare for this wonderful holiday, I went online to learn as much French as I could cram into my middle-aged brain.
          Guess what I learned how to say? “The cat is calm” and “the men are eating an apple.”  I shared this with a friendly French TSA agent, who kindly said, “Yes, but when would you use zees phrases?”  THANK  YOU—that is exactly what I’d like to know.
          First of all, calm cats don’t elicit much commentary, unless you are a burglar sneaking up on a guard cat (notice you never see those), and hoping he’ll be calmly bathing so you can slip by unnoticed.
          And several men eating one apple?  When could that possibly happen?  And why would you point it out, when the person you would be speaking with undoubtedly has your same view?
          So off we went, first to Paris then down to the French Alps where we happened to visit the Citadel (built in 1692) in Briancon (except the c in Briancon should have a little tail). 
Speaking of tails, this entire fortification has been turned into a zoo!  It’s so huge that it creates spacious habitats, and plenty of great echoes for the call of the howler monkeys.
          But, of all things, what should I come upon?  A lounging tiger that gave me the perfect opportunity to point out that the cat is calm. 
Now all I need is a few guys to walk by, eating an apple.

No need to learn French to enjoy my books.  Order them here today and travel without leaving your armchair!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My Cloak of Invisibility

          I have a cloak of invisibility.  Yes, I know you think only Harry Potter has one, given to him by Dumbledore with the admonition, “use it well.”  But I have one I wear nearly every time I go out.  Perhaps you have it, too.
          It’s called Being Over 40.  You actually get a glimpse of this when you’re young and have a baby in a stroller.  You go to the mall, let’s say, and no teenager can see you, whatsoever. Even if you were cute just three years ago. Their eyes may fall upon you, but those eyes just keep scanning the crowd, because you have fallen off the cliff of People Who Matter.  At least to teenagers.

          And this is but a harbinger of what is to come. After 40 you become sufficiently invisible enough to, conceivably, rob a bank. Without a disguise. If, let’s say, that bank employed only people in their twenties. You have virtually entered Geezerdom and are no longer noteworthy.  Or glanceworthy. 
          To get help in a store, you must track down an employee (often running to catch them), and beg for assistance.  They help you for only as long as they can manage it, before returning to their important customers.
          The invisibility cloak gets thicker with every passing year, until you are treated with amusement, like a friendly apparition. Your opinions are not sought,  your comments are not heard, and your presence is not acknowledged.
          And at first this feels unkind, even disrespectful.  BUT… as with many a dark cloud, it has a silver lining.  You can smooch with your husband in a public place, and people will simply look away.  You can giggle at greeting cards and no one stares.  You can stumble around with zero embarrassment, because no one is watching you.  You can order a triple scoop of ice cream.  

          You can say, “No, I don’t think so,” and not feel you must provide reasons.  You can wear the purple sweater with the green pants.  You can break into song.  And it’s all ignored by the general public.
          So not only do I have a cloak of invisibility, but it’s a silver one.  Coolio.
You can also read as many books as you like, and take all the time you wish.  Might I suggest these for Mother’s Day?