Tuesday, December 29, 2015

LOVE Your Sweater!

          Last week St. Bob and I were walking through a parking lot when we saw two women—strangers—approaching one another.  Here’s how the conversation went:
          “Oh—I LOVE your sweater!  That is so gorgeous!"

          “Thank you!  You know, every time I wear this, I get so many compliments!”
          “It’s darling!  Where did you get it?”
          “Oh, I bought it so long ago, I don’t even remember…”
          “Well if you ever get tired of it, pass it my way!”
          (Laughter) “Okay—will do—and thanks again!”
          Then each of the women hurried off.  I turned to Bob.  “You will never see men having a conversation like that.  Not in a million years.”
          In fact, go ahead and re-read that dialogue, and picture two men as the speakers.
          Bob frowned, appalled that I would expect two men to gush about one another’s tops.  In fact, a pet peeve of Bob’s is that I refer to men’s tops as tops at all.  Men have shirts, sweaters, and jackets.  Not tops.  Naturally, I text him photos of signs disputing this assertion, whenever I find them.  
But he is immovable on this point.
          Nevertheless, I think men would be happier people if they would get a little bit excited about such things from time to time, and show a bit more enthusiasm.  Both of those women went off smiling, a lilt in their step. 
          Girlfriends definitely rock, even ones you only have for a few seconds.

And, as long as we’re on the subject of girls, I highly recommend you read my chick-lit comedy novel, Sisters in the Mix.  You can find it here in both paperback and digital versions.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

All That Glitters...

          I’ll admit it: I’m a girly girl.  I like Queen Frostine, Princess Anybody, pink cupcakes, and sparkly stuff.  When Christmas comes around, I can’t wait to see twinkly lights and wear shimmering jewelry.  But this brings us to THE GLITTER PROBLEM.
          I bought a glittery, mint green top this year, to wear to holiday parties.  And, what the heck, I figured, I’d wear it to church as well.  Except I forgot that things which are covered with glitter are actually secret weapons designed by passive-aggressive crafters who want to control the world, or at least to cover it with silver flecks.
          I sat down at church and immediately noticed my black skirt looked like the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere—loaded with stars.  Then I noticed St. Bob’s black pants and coat, also speckled with constellations. Oops.  And when I stood up, two piles of glitter remained on the bench, like parentheses framing the spot where I’d been sitting.  Glitter was on the floor, on my purse, on my face—everywhere.
          And glitter on your face does not brush off.  You can scrub your skin until it’s raw, and glitter will stick like you used Gorilla Glue to keep it there. In fact, it’s surprising people ever use glue with glitter when it sticks all by itself anyway. 
As I walked, little puffs of glitter followed me.  You could see everywhere I’d gone in the building, just by following the glitter path.  It was like Hansel and Gretel, except no birds were eating these silvery crumbs. I should have brought a hand held mini-vac with me, or at least one of those sticky roller things.
It’s amazing someone didn’t call the police and report me for littering.  I mean glittering.  But they probably wouldn’t haul me in anyway, because they know exactly what would happen to the back seat of their car. 
Luckily, you can watch my short YouTube Mom videos-- there are hundreds of them-- without getting a speck of glitter on you.  Check 'em out here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Brain, Brain, Go Away

 I love hosting parties-- the music, the delicious goodies, the hugs and laughter of friends.  The only thing that makes it better is having a Christmas party. Here's the setting:
So when the women at church wanted me to have a Christmas party for the Relief Society last week, I gladly whipped up some rich hot chocolate, some spiced apple cider, and some cranberry juice for those who wanted a cold drink.  

And all this was to complement the wonderful chocolate cake, cheesecake, and pumpkin pie my first counselor brought over. My second counselor led us in sharing our Christmas Traditions.
          It had been raining earlier (that’s as close to snow as we get here in Rocklin, California), and I noticed someone had left a green umbrella by the front door.  A few women slipped out before I noticed it, but as the last few were leaving, I asked them if it was theirs. No takers.
Well, not wanting anyone to get caught in the rain without their umbrella, I announced it at church, hoping the owner would raise her hand.  Nothing.  I asked the secretary to send out an email, so we could find the elusive umbrella owner. Still nothing. 
Days went by.  Finally I pointed it out to St. Bob and said I couldn’t believe what a tough time we were having, finding the owner. Maybe I should try to call those who came, one by one.
He stared at me.  “That’s your umbrella,” he said.  “It’s been in the hall closet all year.”
WHAAAT?!?  I didn’t even know I owned a green umbrella and I guarantee I did not put it by the front door.  So now I’m debating whether to call the police and report a break-in and rearrangement of belongings.  It’s something a leprechaun would do (it’s green, after all), but that’s a different holiday.  So maybe a confused leprechaun.  
Or maybe I’ll just put it in the closet and pretend this didn’t happen.  Like when I couldn’t reach my neighbor, because I was calling my own phone number. Times like that.

Meanwhile, stay out of inclement weather entirely, and read my books—buy them as Christmas gifts and all your shopping will be done!  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What's Worse Than Coal in Your Stocking?

There’s only one thing worse than coal in your stocking and that’s stones in your kidney.
          Okay, there’s actually something even worse than that. It’s having kidney stones when your husband has just had wrist surgery and says, “Hey, it’s my hurt time.” Again.
          You know how everybody has Christmas traditions?  Well, apparently the Hiltons have a tradition that whenever St. Bob gets an injury, I somehow manage to upstage him.  And it works any time of year.
Two years ago when he had cancer surgery I promptly dashed across town with sepsis following my first bout with kidney stones.  A year ago when he tripped over a high curb and hit his shoulder on a post (the bruise seriously looked like an eggplant)
 I then tripped over a vine in the veggie garden and did a face plant in the gravel around our raised beds.
          I came staggering into the house, glassy-eyed, looking for ice packs to put over my entire face, using all the frozen veggies I could, which I personally grew and froze, and now needed to put on an injury I got from growing the stuff in the first place, which is a vicious cycle that would make most thinking people quit gardening permanently.
          Bob thinks I’m trying to get all the attention, but I think he’s setting up some kind of contagious dark magic force field that causes me to have calamities right on the heels of his.
          Now, if only he can keep from getting sick or injured for the rest of the year…

Avoid mishaps entirely, by staying inside and reading my books!  In fact, you can get all your Christmas shopping done in one spot.  Check ‘em out here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Earring Conundrum

                The problem with earrings is that you can’t see them when you’re wearing them.  Your clothes, your shoes, other jewelry – these are all visible.  But ear bobs are just out of sight.
                And this is where men come into the picture.  Men, if they really wanted to be useful (but I have done a survey and they do not)  (Okay, the survey was two people—St. Bob and Richie)  would keep an eye on things and let us know if an earring is missing.
                You can count on one ear how many times a man has said, “I believe you’re missing an earring.”  You could go to lunch, the movies, and to check out the new Bass Pro Shop with said men, and they will not notice the missing earring. (They will, of course, notice all kinds of sporting gizmos.)  When you finally flip down the car visor to put on some lipstick, and suddenly notice the BIG, GLARING ABSENCE OF ONE EARRING, they will claim no knowledge of this whatsoever.
                “How can you miss seeing that one earring is gone?” you will say.  And you are thinking, I would tell you if one earring is missing. If you wore earrings.
                “Your hair covers your earrings and I didn’t even know you were wearing any,” Bob will reply.
                “Why do women wear earrings in the first place?” Richie will ask.
                “To look nice.  Probably for men,” you suggest.
                “But we don’t care about earrings,” Richie says.  “So you’re wasting your time.”
                Clearly.  And you are certainly wasting not one, but TWO earrings, when zero would get exactly as much attention. We are talking total obliviousness.  In one earring and out the other.

Fortunately, you can buy my books for less money than a new pair of earrings!  Check ‘em out here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Not Quite Full of Hot Air

          A few days ago I was driving along and suddenly a dashboard warning light came on.  It had a bright orange exclamation mark in it, so I figured it was pretty serious.  
          I pulled over and did what any sensible person would do: I called St. Bob.  This, by the way, is much quicker and easier than opening the driver’s manual in the glove box, which is the size of a Bible.
          St. Bob was not nearly as frantic as I was, however, and said he’d take a look at it that evening after he got home from work. First, he sat down in the driver’s seat and turned the car on. 
          There it was, the bright orange symbol of death.  Or something similar to death.  He looked up at me and said, “Now, what does that look like to you?”
          Well, I happen to have been raised by a psychologist, and I have no problem with Rorschach-type tests like these, so I told him exactly what it looks like: The udder of a cow with an exclamation mark inside, possibly meaning “out of milk.”
          “It’s a low tire,” he said.  (Who decided on this graphic?)  “One of your tires must be low on air.”
          Seriously?  Couldn't they just use a sign like this?
          I walked around the car.  The tires looked fine.  Nevertheless, Bob took it to the tire shop the next day.  The mechanics tested all four tires.  All were fine (Aha—see? I did something right, coming to the same conclusion after a mere glance.)
          “Let’s check the spare,” the mechanic said.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  And, sure enough, there is some sensor gizmo in the trunk that keeps tabs on the pressure in the spare tire, and then alerts me with a giant exclamation mark, about this impending catastrophe.  My spare was low.  Well, thank goodness they found the source of the crisis and averted a world overthrow. 
          How many nights have you lain in bed, wide awake, worrying about the air in your spare tire?  I know I will certainly sleep better after this ordeal.  And, by the way, next time a warning light comes on in my dashboard, I shall look askance at it and wonder just how serious this is.  After all, this is how that whole “boy who cried wolf” thing started.
But let’s talk about a real emergency: Your Christmas list.  You can find something for everyone right here—my books!  All available in hard copies, some on Kindle as well.  Shop to your heart’s content!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Zinky for Your Thoughts

          Be glad you’re sitting down. Our nearly worthless pennies, though charming, are being kept in circulation by lobbyists for the folks who make zinc blanks.
          Copper pennies only contain 2.5 per cent copper, with a whopping 97.5% being zinc.  It costs 2.4 cents to make one (your tax dollars at work, Folks). So you’d think someone would say, “Okay, we have passed the point of diminishing returns, and it’s time to scrap the penny.”
          But no.  Americans for Common Cents (ACC) argues that we love our pennies—or maybe we should call them zinkies-- and want to keep them. Fortune listed all kinds of newspapers who ran this story as a survey fact, when it turns out ACC director Mark Weller even admitted in the Washington Times, “We make no secret that one of our major sponsors is a company that makes the zinc ‘blanks’ for pennies.”
          Fortune noted that Jarden Zinc spends about $140,000 a year to get Weller to lobby for them.  Sounds pricey until you realize Jarden received $48 million in federal contracts.
          I personally like picking up “lucky pennies,” but is it worth the cost? David Owen wrote, in New Yorker, “Picking up a penny from a sidewalk and putting it in your pocket pays less than the Federal minimum wage, if you take more than 4.9 seconds to do it.” 
          For ten years now the cost of making pennies has exceeded their value.  But guess what—now nickels cost twice as much to make, too.  In fact, twice as much as making dimes.  They’re made of 75% copper, and 25 % nickel.  Can the zinc lobby be far behind?

You may as well spend those worthless coins on my fabulous books—click here for Jungle (riveting adventure-romance), Sisters in the Mix (hilarious chick-lit), Pinholes Into Heaven (literary fiction) and more!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Purging or Saving?

          I can’t find any statistics on this, but I’m betting the organization industry is a billion-dollar baby.  From people who organize for you, to stores that sell bins and buckets, to people like me (as the YouTube Mom) who dispense tips on how to organize a drawer or a personal file, it seems the world cannot get enough advice on this.
          You’ve probably heard of Kon Mari, the trendsetting tidiness tycoon from Tokyo who tells Konverts to touch every item and only keep what you love, what “sparks joy.”  And magazines and websites are packed with a new idea every month—how to become neat instead of sloppy, clear instead of cluttered.
          But, even though I teach it myself, I have to say it’s a little like algebra—you either love it or you don’t.  Some people are born into the world wanting order and delighting in neatness. We are the people who gobble up new ideas: Labeling! Hanging clothes by color! Grocery lists!
          Then there are those who may somewhat like the idea of a tidy home, but who are perfectly comfortable letting stuff slide.  And then slide some more.  If houses would organize themselves, they’d allow it.  But they aren’t so thrilled by the concept that they’ll actually do the organizing.  They don’t like to throw stuff out or store things efficiently.  You can show them how to file papers and de-clutter cabinets all day, and they’ll go right back to piling stuff everywhere tomorrow.  Some of these folks laughingly admit they are Stage 1 Hoarders, and you know what?  I’m actually okay with this.
          I don’t think the entire world needs to be alike.  I have neatnik friends and I have did-someone-break-in-and-ransack-this-place friends.  Both groups have marvelous traits I admire, both groups are treasures.  And I always feel a little bad for the messier ones who are made to feel guilty and shamed by the more OCD ones.
          So I’m using the Kon Mari method as I look at my friends, and I realize how much I love them all. Whether they like algebra or not.
Hey, if you’d like to see my demo of a Home Management Binder, click here!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

But, Officer, I was Obeying the Sign

          Here is what I think.  I think freeway number signs should NOT be possible speed limits.
          For example, where I live, there are not one, but TWO freeways labeled, “80.”  There’s the Interstate 80, and what is called Business 80, a loop off of I-80 that confuses anyone new to the area, and many old to the area, as well.  Wikipedia says, “Business Loop 80 is referred to as Business 80, the 80, Biz 80, Capital City Freeway, Cap City Fwy and US 50 (western section only) by residents and mapmakers.” 

That’s a lot of signs saying “80.” 
But 80 is also a speed one could reasonably reach, and therefore should be banned as a freeway name. 
As if that’s not bad enough, the even closer freeway to me is called Highway 65 (technically a U.S. Route).  
You could be tooling along, see a sign that says “65” and not have any idea whether this is the acceptable speed limit, or just a sign telling you what speedway, I mean, highway you’re on.
Just across town, intersecting with the 80, is a Highway named 50, another U.S. Route.  Can you believe this?  These are all numbers a person could hit by pressing on any gas pedal.  And I have seen many a driver who apparently thinks 50 is the speed limit on that freeway.
Both 80 and 50 intersect the I-5, the only freeway in this area with a number no one would mistake for a speed limit.
You know there’s supposed to be some order to this.  For example, odd-numbered routes are supposed to run north-south, while even numbered routes are to run east-west. And this might work if all freeways followed a strict grid pattern, and did not go on diagonals. To further muddle the works, the lower numbers are supposed to be in the eastern U.S., and higher numbers out west.  Yet I-95 runs along the East Coast and I-5 is on the West.  Oh, and lower numbers are designated to be in the north and higher numbers in the south. Yet I-10 runs along the Southern States, and I-90 runs along the U.S.-Canada border.

It gets worse. Major north–south routes have numbers ending in "1" while major east–west routes have numbers ending in "0".  Askville says, “Three-digit numbered highways are spur routes of parent highways but are not necessarily connected to their parents. Some divided routes exist to provide two alignments for one route, even though many splits have been eliminated. Special routes, usually posted with a banner, can provide various routes, such as an alternate, bypass or business route, for a U.S. Highway.”
And we’re supposed to keep all this straight. Doesn’t this read like a tax code of some kind?  Talk about a traffic jam before anyone even gets on the road!  I can’t expect to change all the freeway numbers with one blog post.  But can we at least agree to make them way outside (or way below) the speed a person might attain in their car?  I think the world would be a safer place.

Better yet, order my novel, Jungle, and travel across the world without leaving your chair.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Husband's New Invention

          It’s always a risk to take St. Bob into public, but not for the reasons you might suspect.  It’s because he gets me laughing until I cry, fall down, or both.
          Luckily, this time I had a chair.  
          I had been invited to the annual Sacramento Women’s Expo last Saturday, since I appear frequently on Good Day Sacramento as the YouTube Mom.  And it was great fun greet many of my viewers and subscribers, as well as to run a few of my “life hack” videos, as well.
          St. Bob, of course, always helps me schlep in all my props, a tremendous help.  But then he sits there and gets me laughing until my face is so red I appear to be choking to death.
          One of my videos shows you how to tell if a loaf of bread is fresh by checking the color of the little plastic tag on the bag (see it here). Each color stands for a day of the week, and the colors are in alphabetical order.
          So St. Bob gets the ingenious idea to make a nose ring out of a bread tag.  Yes, folks, this is how his brain works.  And, of course, he thinks it’s ingenious because it’s completely free, interchangeable with other colors, and one size fits all.
          Suddenly I can picture an entire Alzheimers’ home filled with seniors wearing these nose rings so everyone will know what day of the week it is (Oh—look at all the blue nose rings!  It must be Monday!) and my husband will be hailed as a trendsetter.
          And that, my friends, is why he gets Saint status. (By the way, I want to say, “Don’t try this at home,” but surely you’re smart enough not to do this!)

Be sure to tell your friends to subscribe to this blog and to my YouTube Mom channel!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Quick-- Duck!

          I do not want to be The Duck Lady.  Not that I have anything against ducks.  I also do not want to be The Cat Lady, though I do love cats.
          Here’s what happened.  We were living in a wetlands area of Rocklin (there are many meandering swamps here, masquerading as slow rivers), and I saw an ad on Craigslist for a free box of ducklings.  Apparently some ducks had nested near a man’s pool in Sacramento, and the next thing he knew, half a dozen eggs had hatched and were now making a royal mess of his back yard.  He wanted to bring them, in a box, to anyone, anywhere.
          Well, Joni to the rescue, right?  Rule Number One: Don’t be so cheap that you read about free stuff on Craigslist.  Rule Number Two: Don’t volunteer for anything to do with poultry. Rule Number Three: If you break Rules Number One and Two, be ready to change your phone number.
          And of course I broke them all.  I could just picture poor Mr. and Mrs. Duck, crying their eyes out as that man took their babies, put them in a box, and then drove off. I’m sure he would have packed up the parents as well, but they no doubt flew away from him.
          And orphan ducks—orphan anything—I cannot abide.  So I gladly took the box, and decided to raise the babies for a few more weeks in my guest bathtub, until they were old enough to paddle away and eat bugs and such in the wetlands.  I was ready with starter feed, slugs, and finely chopped greens.
          I also decided a foray into the sunny back yard would make for a fun outing.  Here is where the needle scratches the record and my happy cartoon music turns into a duck wreck.  As if guided by inner magnets or swamp-seeking missiles, every one of the ducklings made a beeline for the gate, slipped under it, and went scooting into the reeds and bushes by the wetlands.  I dashed after them, but they had disappeared, probably into the mouth of a coyote.  Okay, maybe they tried to swim away, and maybe they survived, and maybe I’m kidding myself.
          It was a total disaster.  But it didn’t stop there.  Somehow I became the clearing house for all the people in northern California with unwanted ducks, and people were even starting their phone calls with, “I hear you’re the Duck Lady.” 
          It finally eased up, and now we live in another area of Rocklin not on the banks of the wetlands, thank you. But every time I see a duck paddling along in the nearby waterways, I wonder.  And I hope.
Hey, instead of trolling Craigslist for freebies, why not curl up with a good book here?  Or check out my YouTube Momvideos, which do not include the care and feeding of ducklings.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Maybe try Icelandic?

You all know that our fourth child, Nicole, went on an LDS church mission to the magical land of Norway.  So, naturally anytime she bumps into someone from there, they begin chatting in melodious vowels and upswings that I cannot hope to understand.  But I love to watch and, to my credit, I have learned their fabulous, bouncy birthday song.
          So a few weeks ago St. Bob and I decided to have a family reunion--  Just a small gathering of our four far-flung children, a daughter-in-law, and a girlfriend.  We’ve given up hope on getting everybody in one spot for the holidays—someone is always missing.  So we chose a random long weekend when everyone could get away, and met in Salt Lake City.  And it was absolutely fabulous. On Saturday we rode the Alpine Slides and Coasters in Park City:
          Then we went out for sushi. And in walked an old, crusty panhandler in a cowboy hat, vest, and boots. He asked if any of us could spare some money for a Norwegian veteran. Nicole, seated right at the end of the table where he now stood, perked right up and began to speak to him in Norwegian.
          To say that panic filled his eyes might be an exaggeration, but he quickly back-pedaled, waving her away and saying, “Not so much,” before accepting some money and scooting on his way.  We could only imagine his thoughts: Dang! What are the odds I’d run into someone who actually speaks Norwegian?!  He probably chose the least likely language he expected to encounter.    
          The next day we attended the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Music and the Spoken Word broadcast (for whom I’ve been a writer for 20 years), and toured Temple Square.  
          And whom should we see, parking a motorhome on the curb just as we were leaving?  Our “Norwegian” friend, again!  This guy can’t seem to get a break.  Though panhandling is popular at this huge tourist attraction, the Temple grounds also draw people from literally everywhere in the world.
          Maybe he should look up the least spoken languages, as I did today, and he could claim to be one of the eight people in the world who speak chimicuro (from Peru), or Dumi (from Nepal—again eight speakers worldwide), or Ongota (from Ethiopia).  Of course, with tours in 47 languages, he’s still taking his chances.
Grab some great books to give your family members at your next gathering—I have 23 of them to choose from right here!