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., 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.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Is This Really Germ-ane to My Life?

          My doctors are party poopers. They don’t want me to fly, be around crowds, or be around kids. This would include the parents of kids, who are evidently covered with all manner of elementary school cooties.
          Furthermore, I’m not to accept meals from people who have children in the home, because the very dishes they bring could have sneezes on them.  PLEASE!  What if someone is a great cook and I really want that meal?  Too bad, apparently.
          It’s as if I’m quarantined like a dog trying to emigrate to Hawaii. For as long as I’m on chemo, I have to live like a germaphobe, stuck in the house.   If I do have to go out I'm supposed to wear rubber gloves and a face mask. Yes, our geologist son, Richie, has offered me a hazmat suit.
          When I told our next son, Brandon, about this quarantine, he was quick to point out that many rappers did some of their best work while under house arrest. Is that saying much? I'm not sure. 
          Worst of all, I can’t go to church because hugs and handshakes are all around, obviously threatening to give me typhus or malaria.  I’m to use hand sanitizer like a fiend, should I venture anywhere at all.
          But I’ve been sneaking.  As long as I know I won’t have crowds pressing in on me, I’ve gone with St. Bob to the occasional restaurant on off-hours when we’re the only ones there.  And I’ve seen movies at unpopular times.  I’ve also made the quick illegal foray to the supermarket, especially to pick up one of the zillions of prescriptions I’m suddenly on.
          But now I’m reconsidering this. Last week I was standing in line to get my Rx and the woman ahead of me was arguing loudly with the pharmacist, wanting her Lithium now, even though it wasn’t time yet for a refill.
          Mind you, I am standing behind the privacy line, but I can hear every elevated word and the Lithium Lady is not happy.  She is slowly—actually not slowly, rapidly-- becoming unhinged. I could feel myself stepping back, lest this woman be carrying a firearm, or perhaps has a black belt in karate, or the notion that certain people simply need strangling. She can’t actually reach over the counter and grab the pharmacist, but she could turn around, see me, and decide I will do.
 Just give her the Lithium, I found myself thinking, wishing I had telepathic powers.  But the argument continued, so I just quietly sauntered off to the greeting card aisle, and then I picked up my pace and got the heck out of Dodge.  I decided St. Bob could get my prescription later.  He’s not only permitted to swim in the swarm of germs out there, but he’s a tough hunk of manly man strength.  Even a woman short on Lithium would think twice before attacking him.  I think.
You can stay inside and never encounter scary people if you just buy all my books and read them.  Safety first!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Breaking and Entering and then Breaking Again

          Folks, we had an invasion last night. First, how many individuals have to get involved to call it an invasion? I think, when it comes to raccoons, one is enough. 
          At least I think it was only one, based on the footprints:
          It crept through the doggie door then padded over to the laundry room where the cat and dog food is kept. Pertinent info: Our dog slept through the entire crime:
          So did our cat:
Yes, she knocked the thing to the ground where it broke into smithereens. I say she, because, like many of us, I assume she loves dishes and is just trying to expand her collection.
And still no one awoke.  Quietly the thief tore into the bag of cat food, scattered it everywhere, and then left on little cat feet. Cat-ish. Okay, raccoon feet.
So now we’ll be leaving the laundry room door closed and just hope the raccoon doesn’t come tip-toeing upstairs, looking for people to snuggle with. Or a closet full of new disguises.
You can patrol your perimeter for raccoon evidence, or sit quietly inside with one of my books. I recommend the latter.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Check it Out

          Lately St. Bob has experienced a windfall. Check after check has been pouring in from his Game Show days (you do know that he hosted and announced game shows, right? That he’s the Bob of “Bob, tell ‘em what they’ve won” fame, and has a Wikipedia page?)
          Anyway, for years after your shows air, you get residual checks for every re-run. Sometimes these are enough for a nice dinner, sometimes a great little deposit in the old bankeroo.  But as the years go by, they dwindle. They go down to six dollars, then 78 cents, and then—as has been happening for years now, less than the price of a postage stamp.
          Here’s the latest batch of 15 checks, every one of which, after taxes, contains a whopping ZERO cents. 
Yes, that’s right. We are recipients of wasted money on the part of companies we used to think were pretty smart. I figure the man-hours to calculate this astronomical sum, the people to enter it on a computer somewhere, the folks to print it out and lick the envelope, then the postage, and I’m guessing that at least $20 worth of labor went into every mail-out. 
          Kinda woulda liked it if they had just written us that check. And REALLY hoping this trend doesn’t continue into the negative digits and they start sending us bills!
Have you bought my books, yet, or watched my Youtube Mom videos? You must, you must, before I get so many checks that I drown in them. Find everything right here on my website.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A Vile Situation

          Can I please be in the Vial Olympics? I don’t expect to be in the real ones. Heck, I doubt they’d even give someone this unathletic a seat on the back row.
          But blood samples I got.  At my last lab appointment, this is what I saw waiting for me on the table:
          That’s right. SEVENTEEN vials to fill. Have you ever heard of such a collection? There should be several gold medals hanging around my neck right now. Although I’d probably be too weak to support them and they’d pull me down onto the floor.
          It’s not that I don’t appreciate thorough testing.  It’s that I start to wonder if this sort of thing could be sponsored by the transfusion center. And how can you get an accurate reading of anemia if you withdraw all your blood? (Yes, I came out anemic.)
          Seriously, doesn’t this make you want to start humming that old “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” song, only with the lyrics, “99 vials of blood on the wall”?
          Among the many tests we ran, one was for my Vitamin B-12 count. You’ll like this.  The normal range is from 211 to 911 pg/mL.  Guess what mine was?
That’s right. Five THOUSAND something.  And I don’t get a gold medal for this? I say it’s just time to end all the vial-ence.
Time to check out my short Youtube Mom life hack videos, too, before I keel over. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Hoot and a Half

For all you irony lovers, this is a topper. (And that last word was for all you pun lovers). I just got billed for a Groupon to HOOTER’S.  Yes, folks, an establishment where I have never set foot—nor have set any other body parts—and of all things, this hacker chose HOOTER’S when I’ve just has a mastectomy!  Is this not mockery beyond the pale?
          It came into my email box, thanking me for my purchase, with this photo and information:

Hooters —  $30 eGift Card to Hooters; Dine-In Only

And right away I know someone has stolen my credit card info. The next question is, are they currently buying a car or a new set of furniture?
Naturally I began an online chat with Groupon. I explained the theft and the urgency of finding out what card was used, so I can cancel it.  I received this thoughtful suggestion:

If you wish to print the voucher, just open it up and print it like you
would any other document.

And now I realize I am not going to get anywhere with Groupon. I dash to the bank, find out what card was used, and cancel my own. However I now get to choose between several appealing backgrounds for my new card, including Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, kittens, puppies, an American Flag, a rain forest frog, sports balls, a misty forest, a flower, and many more. Maybe one of these will distract me from my future purchases, who knows?
And then I consider the absolute irony of being billed for Hooter’s but instead of feeling bad I recall a recent painting by the name, "Save the Hooters!" by my dear friend, PerriAnn Allen, and the great laugh we had when she brought it over. 

           See, it’s okay if a friend does it.
Might I add that some of my books are a hoot? Readers’ words, not mine. I’m just saying some of them laughed so hard they pulled out stitches in the hospital. Find them all here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Truly Beet

          Once again I have been duped in my garden. I feel like Jack-and-the-Canola-stock, but I’ll come to that later.
First, I want you to look at this pathetic little beet that took months and months to grow, being a winter crop:
It was time to harvest the cold weather stuff and make room for the summertime plants which always include tomatoes, herbs, peppers, basil, and squash.
But what you don’t know is that last summer I painstakingly chose seeds from a catalog so I could grow all kinds of goodies the average nursery doesn’t even offer (Tennis Ball Lettuce, for example, which never sprouted). My favorite was the Chioggia Beet, which looks totally festive and fabulous with its peppermint stripes:
But it was not to be. Instead I got the sad-looking little sprout pictured above, and it wasn’t even striped when I cut into it. Come on! I have pulled plumper weeds! 
          But then get this: In my row of Brussels Sprouts, we suddenly have this humongous bush: 
Obviously a mustard seed (or a canola seed, even farmers struggle to tell them apart) got into the envelope and now St. Bob has staked this out as his personal project, thinking he’s going to grow mustard seeds for a faith lesson of some kind. But what if it’s the faith of a canola seed?
All I know is that this reminds me of the dreadful summer when I calculated that each of my tomatoes cost $18. And that lousy beet was $7.  Time to hit the Farmer’s Market instead. Wish I had a cow to trade for some interesting beans.
On the other hand, my books are a true bargain. Nothing seedy, nothing that will beet you up. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

          Ah, Chemo, the gift that keeps on giving. We are now (the royal we) at the hair loss stage. And, as you might imagine, it is not without its surprises.
          First of all, as hair began to fall out I wondered if it would all fall out at once in the night, and I’d wake up with it on my pillow.  Like a cat.  Little did I know that I’d be brushing it one day and the equivalent of three cats would come off in my hairbrush.
          Of course, the kids wasted no time helping me with wig ideas.  Brandon suggested a sparkly one, like the kind Cher wears.
 Richie said I should get a Bride of Frankenstein wig.
And then, in a freaky coincidence, our charcoal cat rubbed against fresh white paint and came in with a similar look, as if letting me know his vote:
But of course our kids weren’t through. Brandon next suggested I wear the hats of various professions, each day pretending to be a different one. Firefighter, astronaut.  Then he texted, “Bear impersonator, but you have to do the whole costume or it doesn’t work.” Then he sent me a video of some idiot dressed as a bear in the wilds.
My genius friend, Deniece Schofield, however, came up with an amazing solution for securing an actual wig. “The answer is so simple I can't understand why more cancer patients haven't tried it,” she wrote.  “DECORATIVE PUSH PINS.”
Apparently Amazon has a huge supply of them. “Bumblebees, emojis, smiley faces, animals, flowers, jewels, hummingbirds, butterflies, you name it. Not too expensive either. You can even buy a whole tub of them.”
She says if I put, say, 50 or 60 of them along the front hair line, not only would I secure the wig, but I’d have an “eye catching chrysanthemum (or whatever) tiara.”
Then she wrote, “But wait. There's more. They even have mini clothespin push pins. (Pretty cute, actually.) Now here's the beauty of those little devils. If you were to have a mini clothespin tiara you could clip seasonal notes and decorations right to the clothespins.” These, she said, could be rotated through the year.
And with a brilliant friend like that, I can even get Chemo Brain without a worry because I know Deniece has me covered.
Which I why today I’m recommending her books instead of mine. Check ‘em out here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

We Don't Need April to be a Fool

          Pretend, for a moment, that you are a special effects person in the movie industry. You need an actor to foam from the mouth, and then die. Here is the exact product you would use to simulate the situation:
          And guess what I chewed up in Norway, thinking it was a lozenge?  Yep. There I was, suffering from a sore throat, unable to buy regular American meds at the pharmacy. (No, they don’t have Sudafed. No, they don’t have Mucinex.)
          But the pharmacist promised this one was close. Of course I couldn’t read the label, and the container looked like a Pez candy dispenser. So I popped one in my mouth and began to chew what was surely a chewable tablet.
          Yikes. Instantly my mouth filled with foam (think of a volcano) and my eyes began to bulge. There was no way to contain the volume created by this one tiny disc. I now realize this could be an Alka Seltzer on some kind of Scandinavian steroids.
          Of course the pharmacist handed me a tissue and probably wondered how many crazy Americans he’d actually had to deal with.
          My daughter, Nicole, answered a swift, “Yep,” when I asked if she felt as if she were traveling with Lucy Ricardo. I didn’t tell her that my friends gave me a key chain in high school that said, “Lucy.”  I didn’t have to.
Surely it’s time you subscribed to this weekly proof that you are highly intelligent (by comparison, y’know).  Obviously I will never run out of evidence.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Shake, Rattle, and Run

          I’m taking a break from writing about cancer (sheesh!) and moving to a more upbeat topic: Rattlesnakes.
          Yessir, I happen to know more than the average bear about rattlesnakes. And, more than the average rattlesnake about bears.  This is because I grew up in northern Utah where both were plentiful.
When you live in rattlesnake country, you rarely call them that. You call them rattlers. You are also taught never to turn over a bale of hay because they like to nest under those.
SO... St. Bob comes up with a story he found about two imbeciles—I’m sorry, two well-meaning fellows—who found a rattlesnake in their yard, and chased it. It slithered under a shed.
          At this point I interrupted St. Bob and said, “Let me guess what these morons did. They tipped over the shed and found a nest of about 50 snakes.”
          St. Bob was stunned. Had I already read the story? Nope. I just knew what they’d try and what they’d find.
          I also knew there was likely a large supply of rats or mice nearby, or snakes wouldn’t be there. When I mentioned this St. Bob had a wonderful idea. Why don’t exterminators rent out rattlesnakes to catch people’s rats? He even had the perfect slogan: Rattle Them Rats.
          Ah, brilliant plan. Something tells me it isn’t just the rats that are rattled. “And then how do you get rid of the rattlesnakes?” I asked.
          And St. Bob, who grew up not in Utah but on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, said, “Alligators!”  But of course.
While awaiting the arrival of both of these ingenious pest control aids, you can read my books or watch my YouTube Mom videos, where I can promise you will not find either of these life hacks.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Wake Me Up When it's Over

          I have another blockbuster idea. It came about as I was texting our son, Brandon, and kvetching about chemotherapy. Here’s how that went:
          Me: Did I tell you I got tonsillitis because of my low white cell count due to the chemo? So I’m on antibiotics for that, now.
          Brandon: No way! Ugh, it’s like injury to injury!
          Me: I know, right? I’m 11 days out from the infusion and still having strong side effects. We’re going to wait 3 weeks between infusions now, instead of 2.
          Brandon: Wow, yeah. It would be constant side effects otherwise, huh?
          Me: It would. I told Dad I’d prefer to be put into a medically induced coma until the side effects wear off and I’m not kidding.
          Brandon: I don’t understand why that isn’t an option. Wake me up when it’s over.
          Me: Totally. It’s not like I can go anywhere, anyway. I’m basically quarantined.
          Brandon: And there would be all sorts of episodes of shows you could catch up on after!
          Me: There you go. I could binge watch the best ones and miss all the commercials.
          Brandon: Comas for everybody! Like Oprah. You get a coma and you get a coma and you get a coma.
          Me: Hilarious! You should run for office on this platform. Everyone would vote for you. I can just see little Coma Clinics popping up on every corner, like Starbucks.
          Brandon: I could go for an 8 or 9 hour coma here and there. And what a vacation! Two whole paid weeks in a coma each year.
          Me: Think of the people who would pay to go into a coma! It could be a way to dodge anything difficult in life--- a breakup, a drug problem, difficult in-laws coming to visit. Plus people who don’t eat right would be force fed properly intravenously. It would be the most successful weight-loss clinic ever!
          Brandon: And it would feel like instant results. Plastic surgeries, dental procedures, entire pregnancies, all sorts of things. They can just play Mozart 24/7 or whatever you do to a fetus these days.
          Me: Brilliant! People could learn foreign languages with headphones, cram for the SAT, a zillion applications!
          Brandon: If there’s a sequel you’re excited for and you don’t want to wait 3 years for the next one, coma!
          And I didn’t tell him this, but when I was texting the auto-correct kept changing coma to comma, so maybe we could even have a little grammar clinic next door!
          It may sound crazy, but you know that if you were driving along and suddenly saw a Coma Clinic you’d say, “Hey, Joni was just talking about that!” and it wouldn’t even surprise you. 
         You may not want to escape into an actual coma—I mean, life does have its demands—but you can easily escape for a few minutes by reading my books.