Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Now You See It

          Have you ever heard of a painless migraine?  That’s exactly what I get from time to time.  So how do I know I’m even having one? Because suddenly my field of vision turns into a geometric light show, with sparkling prisms and zig zags, like a kaleidoscope, only clear.  Imagine seeing this:
Only without the color.  Scientists describe it as broken glass and shimmering shards.
  It isn’t really blindness, but it does impair your vision for 20 minutes or so, until it goes away.
Some eye doctors call these auras “fortification illusions” because they look like castle rooflines.  Although, as one who actually sees them, I can tell you that castle is having a major earthquake.
 They’re actually quite beautiful and intriguing, something people try to approximate with art and photography, but not very accurately:
          And apparently there are triggers that cause the genetically predisposed to have these little eyeball theatrics.  
          I thought I’d look up the triggers so I can avoid them.  They include certain cheeses,  caffeinated drinks, red wine, smoked meats, food additives such as MSG, artificial sweeteners, cigarette smoke, perfumes and other strong odors, glaring or flickering lights, lack of sleep, emotional stress, loud sounds,  anxiety, relaxation after a period of stress, foods containing nitrates (hotdogs and luncheon meats), sausage, smoked fish, soy, fava beans, hormonal fluctuations, and even changing weather. 
          So, basically, everything.  I mean the weather, seriously?  Luckily, nobody thinks these sudden acid trips without the acid are harmful, but there are cases of people acquiring Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) from such migraines.  Yes, that’s honestly a thing-- People suddenly start speaking with accents from other countries!   If you’re from the U.S. you might suddenly have a South African Accent, or if you’re from England, you might sound German.  These are documented cases, folks.  And I, for one, would like to choose my accent and I want one of those darling Scottish or Irish Brogues.
I also plan to start that Irish dancing immediately, so I can get one of those cute costumes.  Although, since I won’t be able to see where I’m going, I’ll probably crash into a tree.  And then I’ll probably wake up speaking with a Mongolian accent.  But that’s okay because those dancers have cute outfits, too.  Pretty much a win-win.
Have you visited my website, lately?  You’ve got to see the new music video right there on the home page.  And then click the TV tab so you can watch my YouTube Mom segments on Good Day Sacramento.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Now I Lay Me Down to Wake

          According to scientists, nearly half of us are not getting enough sleep.  Apparently we can’t unwind, we have hormonal insomnia, we’re sleeping on the wrong mattress, we stay up too late, our spouse snores, we snore, or all of the above.  You could make a list as long as your arm, of reasons why people can’t fall asleep or stay asleep.
          So of course I was delighted to hear about a new trick that helps you fall asleep in less than a minute!  It’s called the “4-7-8” breathing technique, credited to Dr. Andrew Weil. The idea is this: You breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, then exhale through your mouth for eight seconds.
          Sounds simple enough, right?  I decided to give it a try.  St. Bob and I climbed into bed, then I pulled the covers up and inhaled, silently counting to 4.  Now I held my breath.  But at five seconds my lungs were burning, I was sure I was suffocating, and I released my breath in a giant burst. 
          “That’s not how you do it,” Bob said.  “You have to exhale more slowly.”
          “Except that I’m choking to death over here, and had to exhale fast so I could get another breath,” I said. “That, or die.”
          Even in the dark I could hear Bob rolling his eyes.  “Try it again,” he said.
          Once again I inhaled slowly. 1-2-3-4.  And now I held my breath for 7 loooong seconds.  But there was no way I could take 8 more seconds to exhale—that would mean a total of 15 seconds without oxygen.  A person could asphyxiate.
So I exhaled all at once.  “Are you kidding?” I gasped.  “How is this relaxing?  I’m working up a sweat just trying to stay alive.”  Well, that and keeping the numbers sorted out.  “This is like being water boarded.  And we all know that is not relaxing in the slightest.”
Seriously, if someone held your head under water for 15 seconds you would be in a full blown panic, right?  Okay, I would be in a panic.
By now I was having a hot flash and had to throw off the covers.  “My heart rate is twice what it was when I got in bed,” I snarled.  “How am I supposed to fall asleep when I’m choking over here?”
“I notice it keeps others from falling asleep as well,” Bob said.
“Are you telling me you could fall asleep, knowing your wife was being smothered right beside you?”
“How can someone smother themselves?”
“By following this ridiculous sleep trick,” I said. “Who did they test it on—deep sea divers who can hold their breath forever?”
“Just take deep breaths,” he said.
“That’s how people get hyperventilation and end up in the hospital,” I said. 
“Then breathe into a paper bag.”
“I don’t have a paper bag.”
“Then pull the covers over your head.”
“I’ll pull the covers over your head.”  This resulted in a wrestling match, at which point neither one of us felt sleepy.  So I resorted to my old method which never works for me, but which works beautifully for Bob: Just zip it, Joni.

Or you could read.  Not that my novels will put you to sleep, mind you.  But you can order them (cheap!) right here.  And take a look at the new music video on the home page, while you’re there!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Husband Overhaul

          I like miscommunications.  See? There’s one right there.  I don’t like misunderstandings; those lead to hurt feelings, retribution, and in more than one case, wars.
          But I relish the little words that are said one way and heard another, leading to laughter.  You can even find greeting cards of elderly people saying, “It’s Thursday,” and their friend hearing “I’m thirsty.” 
          So I was greatly amused recently, when a girlfriend called me on a crackly car phone, to tell me that her mother and father were driving to a Refurbished Husband Convention.  What—that’s a thing?  There must be millions of people—granted, mostly women—who would sign up for that!
          Just picture it: Makeovers, lectures on active listening, role-playing, how to repurpose baggy pants, even gold medals for “Most Improved.”  What an ingenious idea!
          She talked about how this was something her dad had been doing for years, and I couldn’t help thinking, What a good sport!   How many people take self-improvement that seriously? 
          As she talked about their drive (and lack of air conditioning), she mentioned he had reconditioned the car and suddenly it hit me.  They weren’t going to a Refurbished Husband Convention—they were going to a Refurbished Hudson Convention!  As in automobiles.  Well!  That’s a car of a different color, to twist a quote from The Wizard of Oz.  Here's their actual car on the Hoover Dam:
          And now we also know who’s really the good sport.
Have you visited my website, lately?  Watch my new music video smack dab at the top of the home page, then scroll through and buy my books.   Perfect for a road trip to somewhere you thought was somewhere else.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Great Scot!

          Have you ever attempted something for the very first time and surpassed all expectations?  St. Bob's dad bowled a perfect strike the first (and only) time he threw a bowling ball.  Bob, himself, can pick up a golf club or a tennis racket and beat people who play every weekend.
          I've never had this happen in my lifetime.  Our son, Richie, however, just discovered a hidden talent: Haggis Hurling.
          I shall explain. For 138 years, there’s been an annual Scottish Games and Festival in Woodland, a nearby city.  It’s the third oldest in the U.S. and it’s exactly as you picture it: Highland dancing, piping and drumming, celtic music, food vendors, fiddling and harps, clan information, bagpipes, long haired cattle, and of course-- men in kilts hurling heavy logs, hammers, and metal objects as high or as far as they can.
Well, Richie has a Scottish friend who convinced him to go.  Toward the end of the day, they stopped to watch various men throwing Haggis, a combination of sheep organs, onions, and seasonings, encased in a sheep’s stomach, but which was also wrapped in duct tape for purposes of this competition.
After several moments of Richie claiming he could throw it farther than those guys, and his friend expressing genuine doubt about this, Richie stepped up onto the half-barrel and gave it a try. He has never seen Haggis before, nor attempted this feat, but 15 years ago he was the goalie for his high school’s water polo team, and would routinely throw the ball from his net into the net of the opposing team.  So he tapped into that old memory, and voile!  Or, seol, which is the same expression in Gaelic-- He threw it nearly 100 feet and won 2nd place!
For his efforts he was awarded a handsome certificate and some chocolate, cleverly named Haggis Pie by its maker, Brown's English Toffee.  If you ask me, one bite of chocolate is worth a boatload of Haggis stomachs.
And I am, of course, claiming a moral victory here by passing along beginner’s luck, something I’m pretty sure skips a generation.

Have you watched my new music video, yet?  I wrote What Makes a Woman with Jerry Williams, as part of our musical, The Best Medicine.  And we turned that one song into an empowering anthem for women—take a look and share it with your friends!