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.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Elephants, Zombies, and Bears—Oh My!

          “Elephants don’t get cancer.” This was my oncologist speaking, last year.
          “WHAT!” I gasped. “Why aren’t we injecting elephant something- or- other into people?” I am nothing if not a stickler for the intricacies of science.
          “We’re studying it,” he said.
          “Well, study faster,” I said. “I’ve got Stage 3 and this sounds like the cure.”
          Here’s the skinny, not to disparage any elephants who might be reading this blog: When our cells divide, as they constantly do, some get damaged and these damaged ones are more likely to cause cancer.
Most mammals try to repair the damaged ones. Not so with elephants: They have a “zombie” gene that just kills off the wonky ones.
 So while humans have just one copy of this tumor-suppressing gene called P53, elephants have 20 to 40.  And, while they can get cancer, only 1 in 20 of these majestic beasts will ever get the disease, whereas 1 in 5 people will. Hit first and hit hard seems to be their strategy, and it works.
          So where do bears come in? Well, really just to complete the Wizard of Oz reference. BUT… I did find one link to a claim that, while bears in captivity have been found to contract cancer,  it has never been found in a bear in the wild. Let me guess why: Because to test it you have to get very, very close.
          Hey—I just finished my final round of radiation! You can celebrate by enjoying one of my books, right here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Flat Out Amazing

          Most of you know that I spent a good hunk of my childhood in Utah. And one of the things Utah is known for is its famous Bonneville Salt Flats, where race cars of all descriptions have set land-speed records as they have zoomed across brilliant white fields of sparkling salt.
          And, of course, it lures the rest of us in, too. In one of the many trips we’ve made to Utah from California, we decided to take our family sedan on a spin or two across the famous terrain we’d seen on television.
          But wait. It’s not exactly what you think. First of all, while it is indeed 90% table salt, it’s not as if this is the soft stuff you keep in the kitchen, sprinkled across a glassy surface. 
          It’s crusty. It’s hard. It’s in globs. And your tires fling this stuff up into the undercarriage of your car where it will defy science for months.
          How does it do this? By never coming off. Even if you spray wash it, thinking salt will surely dissolve in water, it does not. It clings to your fenders and axle and everything else under there, until you chisel it off. Salt can accelerate the rusting process of the metal it clings to, so there’s also that.
          Oh, and should you decide to step out onto the flats, the salt will cling to your shoes like glue. Lumpy, crystalized glue.
          Another little-known factoid about these sneaky flats is that the surface can conceal huge mud quagmires that can engulf a truck. That’s right, a truck. The same thing happens in the Sahara Desert.
          Did I mention you should bring sunglasses? I know a thing or two about bright glare, having grown up skiing on Utah’s powdery ski slopes, and white salt is equally blinding.
          So there you have it. A tourism guide that can protect you from head to toe, and all your cars in between.
Here’s some cool info about the salt we actually eat—check out my Youtube Mom video here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Fit to be Tied

          You’ll like this because it makes perfect sense. The necktie originated during a war. And, if you’re like many men today, you would kill not to have to wear a throat-pinching, strangling necktie.
          But they weren’t fighting over having to wear ties; the French and the Croatians in the Thirty Years War simply wore a piece of cloth at their necks, as part of their uniform. Soon it became a symbol of wealth and status in England, then evolved into the mere decoration it is today.
          And you thought most men weren’t big accessory/decoration guys—ha!
          Ridiculous as they are, neckties are an extremely big deal at my house.  At St. Bob’s last birthday we played Bobardy! with our kids, and the final “question” was, “Bob owns 118 of these.” The answer, of course, was neckties.
          He has all kinds, all colors, and even stories to go with some of them. One was a tie he got by agreeing to a game show deal if the producer would throw in the very tie he was wearing. Here he is with Monty Hall and Dick Clark, when Bob hosted Let's Make a Deal.
          Not only that, but Bob is quite the fastidious dresser and is meticulous about how he ties his knot. It has to be exactly right. He will not even consider owning a tie that cannot be fashioned into the ideal knot. He also makes sure the bottom point of the tie falls exactly at the middle of his belt—not too long, not too short. Here is his with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans years ago, his tie perfectly tied:
          Come to think of it, Bob should make a Youtube Mom video about how to tie a tie correctly. Except he would be the Youtube Dad. But, expert as he is, I think he’d be thrilled if neckties were permanently banished. After all, they’re only worn because it’s a long-held tradition. Who knows—maybe your great grandkids will someday study The Necktie Rebellion and marvel that the fashion lasted as long as it did.
          You can actually watch one of my Youtube Mom videos about another fashion--which way your belt should go, right here

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Driving Miss Crazy

          I once received a delicious compliment. I had zipped into a parallel parking spot downtown where some young men were standing nearby. “Wow,” one of them said, “you drive like a parking valet.”
          (Much better than our daughter Nicole’s analysis once, which was to say that I drive like Cruella De Vil.)
          However, now that I frequent the hospital for cancer treatments, I’m all about getting a close parking spot. And, naturally I was pleased to see this sign:
          But guess what? I have yet to receive one compliment! I think the parking people should be trained to say, “My, don’t you look lovely today?” or “Nobody wears a beanie as well as you do!” or “What a rosy glow you have!” Nope. They just take your keys and peel out of there.
          That’s not the only problem with valet parking. If you’re at a particularly busy place you have to stand and wait for your car, usually longer than if you had just found a parking spot yourself and walked.
          And, for women in skirts, there’s the awkward problem of getting in and out of the car modestly, with someone watching you. Luckily, you know the Youtube Mom—you’re reading her blog. And she has a video about how to conquer this very predicament, right here.
          So now you can fearlessly use valet parking. Just don’t expect any lavish compliments.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Painting the Town Red?

          Don’t even get me started on graffiti. Okay, too late. I’m on a roll. There are about 12 billion reasons why I hate graffiti. Think I’m exaggerating? It costs 12 billion dollars annually just in the United States to remove graffiti.
          The main reason I despise graffiti is because it’s vandalizing other people’s property.  Buildings, walls, fences—these belong to actual people. Like snatching someone’s purse, this is taking what doesn’t belong to you. I want to ask these “artists” – and believe me, there are no quotation marks big enough to cast doubt upon that title—how they’d feel if I came over and drew a bunch of Hello Kitty designs on their bedroom walls. Or their cars. Or their front doors.  I’m guessing they’d suddenly see this another way.
          It then causes the owners of these walls to invest in paint and workers to cover up what are often offensive racial slurs, words pedestrians shouldn’t have to explain to their children, and evidence that the neighborhood property values are in decline.
          Not only that, but you usually can’t read it!  Most graffiti is written in loopy or angular codes of some kind. Why invest in paint and time if nobody knows what your final result was supposed to say? 
          Here’s a bunch of graffiti in Norway that is exactly as easy to read as that in the U.S. And it’s in Norwegian! At least the hearts are kind of cute. And the yellow flower.
But it’s still not their property to cover with their own ideas of art and design.
          Yes, I know gangs like to tag their areas. Then apply yourself, study hard, get gainful employment, and BUY the property. Then you can doodle on it to your heart’s content. But the whole world doesn’t have to support your gang territory any more than we have to honor territory marked by local canines.
          I do like what some cities have started, which are graffiti parks and walls designated especially for budding artists. And these are actually a bit intriguing. They showcase amazing graphics, cartoons, air brushing—like a free museum. This is a great way to support local talent, and confine it to a legal space.
          Just don’t do it without permission.
You do, however, have permission to buy my books right here. And then, once they’re yours, you can sketch illustrations in the margins!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A Vacuum of Information

         A friend of mine just bought a new vacuum, read the entire instruction booklet, learned how to take it apart, how to clean the filters, how to check for blockages, etc. and then came to this final line:


          Whaaat??  Did you know this? Hey, this blog is nothing if not a well of startling, yet essential, information.
          Lest you doubt me, here's a view of the actual instructions:
          This, my friends, is why people have stopped reading instruction booklets. Okay, not all people, just me. And, if I’m being honest, it’s not the only reason, either. I have two reasons besides the chance encounter with lines such as the one above.
          The first reason is that I get to the second sentence and then throw the booklet into the air (yes, it has occurred to me that cancer is supposed to teach me patience).
And the second reason is that I have St. Bob for this. I ask him to read the fine print—or even large print—and then boil it down for me. Have not asked if he appreciates my using him as a Readers' Digest editor. He’s like Google. Only Bobble. But this is also why I can't operate the TV remote. Make that remotes. He tells me how and then I forget.
Next time I’m going to give him a Sharpie so he can make a redacted version of the instructions, leaving only the essential info and crossing out “Do not let toddlers operate this blender” sorts of lines.
Best of all, believing I am not the only person who hates instruction books, I can rent him out and make a fortune! Also have not checked to see if he is okay with this. I’ll get back to you.
But I'm pretty sure he's okay with it if you purchase a couple of my books, right here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A Doggone Dilemma

          Have you ever noticed that no dogs are actually named Fido, Rover, or Spot? I’ve been studying pet names, okay my whole life, I know, I know, which makes it sound like I need to get a life.
          But I’ve always had lots of pets, and always put a lot of thought into naming them. Sometimes too much thought. And sometimes not enough. For example, many of our pets have been named after foods (Mango, Truffles, Donut, Bon-Bon, Muffin, Beignet, Marshmallow). I guess my affection for confections gets blurred with my affection for animals. There was also Quat, so named because the kids thought it would be funny to say Kumquat ("Come, Quat") to call him. Another food name. But we've also had pets named Bentley, Mischief, Twinkles, J. P., Boomer, Kabuki, Button, and now Mickey and Simon.
          Two of my neighbors have new puppies, one a white Husky named Ghost:
And the other a Klee Kai named Malakai:
This is heavenly news for me, as I love some dogs more than some people. BUT… have you noticed there are particular names that absolutely never get assigned to animals?  It’s as if we know these creatures are too cute to saddle them with a certain serious monikers.
Here are some names you will never hear shouted, in hopes of calling one’s cat or dog. First of all, my own birth name: Joan.  Can you imagine someone at a dog park calling out, “Joan, Joan!” and expecting a bouncy terrier to come running?
But mine is not the only name that seems odd for a dog or cat. Notice that while there are lots of Sams and Sammys for pets, there aren’t many Samuels. Not even a goldfish would be called Samuel.
Eleanor is another name you never hear at the vet’s office. Oh, maybe for a nurse or for the vet herself. But not for a cat, dog, or hamster. I also cannot imagine a pet named Katherine, Karen, Margaret, Janet, Gregory, Ernest, Bradley, Phillip, Kenneth, or Christian. 
Nope, I checked the most popular pet names, and people stick with ones like Bear, Shadow, Daisy, Coco, Lucky, Smoky, Lady, or Duke.  It’s odd how we simply know which names fit and which ones don’t. But, like I say, Fido and Spot have yet to make the list.
Character names in novels are another story—check out some of mine here!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Talk About Going on Your Permanent Record

          Folks, I just got three tattoos. Yessir, I have now joined the ranks of other radiation patients who have a connect-the-dots deal on their bodies, so death rays can be lined up correctly.  Okay, they’re probably called something else, but the idea is that their machinery can shoot a laser beam in exactly the right place to kill cancer. So… killer rays?  Same idea.
          The tattoos look like a little pen dot. One on my chest, and one on each side. So you’re probably wondering why I’m such a whiner about this. But here’s what I did not know: Tattoos hurt like crazy!
I thought a little needle would go in for just a split second. It would be almost painless, just a tiny pinch. WRONG. Granted I have extremely sensitive skin and possibly a second set of nerves (this is the case with my daughter, so I’m just assuming??), but HOLY MOLEY, it was worse than a bee or a wasp sting, two things I have experienced multiple times. 
I asked the guy doing it how on earth people have giant dragons and tigers all over their bodies. Do they not have nerve endings?
I tell you, the next time I see someone with a bunch of tattoos I’m going to ask them if they had to take pain meds or just what, before and after the procedure.
Or, maybe I’m just a big baby. It’s probably that. Nevermind.
Hey, have you checked out my Youtube Mom channel lately? One of the most popular ones is about 10 uses for cream of tartar. Although I don’t think it can help with tattooing pain.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Are Diamonds Really Forever?

          Okay, let me answer that: No. In fact, I wasn’t even going to blog about this, but THEN IT HAPPENED AGAIN!
          Let me back up a few months to my vacation in Scandinavia. Nicole and I were sitting on a bus headed down the west coast of Norway, when suddenly I looked down at my hand and realized the main stone of my wedding ring was missing! This isn't my ring, but it shows you a triangular trillion cut, similar to mine:
          Heart-pounding panic ensued. I looked all over the area where we were sitting, up in the compartment where I had placed my bag, and tried to remember when I last saw the stone in place. I’d have noticed the empty prongs at breakfast, so I don’t think it happened then. But if the setting was loose, it could have fallen out while we were standing on the gravel, awaiting the bus. It could be completely unfindable if it fell out there. There was no point going back on that fruitless endeavor. (Hey—how come there are no sci-fi shows featuring space ships by that name? AND, I might add, many of them ARE on a fruitless endeavor.)
          Anyway, I tried not to cry. I didn’t want to spoil the trip. But my head and my heart were reeling. I’d lost my diamond! On top of this, the prongs were now scratching me and snagging my clothes, so I had to cover it with a Band-Aid. (Again, not my ring, but this gives you the idea):
          I called St. Bob who was, of course, a saint, and just told me to forget about it and enjoy the rest of the trip. I sighed. He's great at covering up his own concern when he knows I'm going ballistic.
          We made it home without my having to be put in a mental hospital (well, at least not for that), and had a jeweler replace the stone.  Can’t even think about that ka-ching. But then the prong repair was not as smooth as the original, and it kept snagging, causing me to worry that the stone would fall out once again.  We brought it in for several adjustments.
          All seemed fine until LAST WEEK when the stone was again gone!  I searched everywhere—the house, the car, the yard. No sign of it. So back to the jeweler we went, and this time they replaced the stone at their expense. 
          But now I keep looking at it, feeling the prongs, and making sure they’re intact, because three is definitely not a charm.
Three books, however, would be a charm. Check out all 25 of my books here, any one of which would make a FAB summer read!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Not to be a Pill, but...

          Well, it had to happen. When you’re taking 30-plus pills and vitamins every day

and they are divvied up into daily reminder boxes—one for morning and one for night—
          the day will come when you grab the wrong handful.
          And, unfortunately, I have no history of bulimia so I have no clue how to make myself throw up to undo this mistake.
Now, this might not be a problem at all, except that three of the ones I take at night make me drowsy.
One is an antihistamine that, in a surprise to all medical personnel, helps prevent bone pain from chemo.  Another is a hot-flash preventer that has the weird side effect of inducing drowsiness.  And the other is an anti-nausea medicine that can knock you on your sleepy little butt if you don’t cut it in half. At least that’s why I cut them in half.
I stared at the now-empty nighttime compartment of the pill organizer and realized what my day would be like: Night. 
First, I decided not to telephone anyone in what will sound like a drunken stupor.
          Second, I canceled a doctor appointment because there’s no way I should drive today, and
          Third, I crossed off “gardening” from my to-do list because I do not need to be found face-down in a bed of zinnias.
          I figured the only safe activity would be sitting at the computer, and as luck would have it, I decided to research forgetfulness.
          Shazam, Eureka, and Woo-hoo all rolled into one, I found an article that claims forgetfulness means you’re a genius. 
          So I shall sit here and contemplate what it’s like to be such a smarty-pants that I took all the wrong pills.  I’ll bet Einstein did that all the time (notice he does look a little sleepy).
But don’t forget to order my books! You can find them all here.