Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dueling Siris

          It seems the entire world has forgotten how to get anywhere. The minute folks get in their cars, they are programming their GPS systems and relying on a stranger’s voice to guide them to their destination.
          And sometimes this works, and sometimes you go in circles.  But recently, we had a war. 
Along with eldest child Richie and youngest child Nicole, I was visiting our second son Brandon, who lives in Las Vegas. We had seen the amazing Perseid Meteor Shower at 2 a.m., toured through Red Rock Canyon the next day, and now we were hunting for a downtown restaurant.  So OF COURSE everyone had to pull out their cell phones and help.  This created a cacophony of southern accents, British accents, and bossy non-accents filling the car (and no, none of those were any of us). 
Naturally, not one of them could agree with the other two.  It was as if we had filled the car with demanding children. “Turn right in half a mile,” one said.  “Turn left at the next intersection,” another said.  “Return to the designated route,” said another. We could have stepped out of the car and left these GPS guides to have their own conversation. Or, in this case, argument.
How can they possibly all be right?  Or is even one of them right? Well, it turns out Nicole was relying on Siri, which means Apple maps, which are based on typical traffic patterns, whereas Richie and Brandon had Waze, which includes current road work (and perhap should be renamed Maze).  And did I mention that Las Vegas is always packed to the brim with road work?  So the route that worked best last week might be completely closed off this week.
My dashboard GPS is unreliable as well, and has literally sent me in loop after loop, as if taking pay-offs from the gasoline industry. Last month I asked it for directions to Vacaville and a voice said, “Zachodniopomorskie Poland, approximate driving time forty-two days.” Yes, that’s right.  Poland is where I’m heading.  In a car.  It’s Zachodniopomorskie or bust, I tell you.
          I miss the old road map days, where the only tension in the air was aggravation from trying to get the thing folded up again.

Maybe you should just stay home and just read a good book.  I suggest my latest one, GOLDEN.  I promise it won’t steer you wrong.  Order the paperback or the Kindle version on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Are We Really Eating This?

         I live in the produce capital of the world.  Not to brag, but California honestly supplies this nation with 99 percent of artichokes, 99 percent of walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery, 95 percent of garlic, 89 percent of cauliflower, 71 percent of spinach, 69 percent of carrots… the list is almost as endless as the fields out here. Despite its reputation for green-haired skateboarders and suntanned surfers, California is really teeming with farmers.
          So you wouldn’t think we’d resort to eating weeds.
          But you’d be wrong.  At the famous Ferry Building Farmer’s Market in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, I ran across a crate of Purslane for sale.  Hey, isn’t this the same stuff I pull out of the stone path in my back yard?
          Yep. Not only that, but this booth was also selling dandelion leaves, another tangy addition to many a salad.
Just to whet your appetite, they were also selling Dragon Tongue Beans
and Chioggia beets, which are pink and white striped, extremely cool:
          But back to the weeds.  Did you know you can safely eat more than a dozen irritating invaders?  Among them are lamb’s quarters, kudzu, clover, elderflowers, watercress, garlic grass, sorrel, and chickweed. And many of them claim amazing health benefits.  Best of all: they grow like weeds!  So if you’ve never had much luck gardening, these will thrive for you.

I just have one question: Does this make me a weed-eater?
You can be a weed eater AND a bookworm: Order my latest novel, Golden in paperback or on Kindle, and check out my other books on my website!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

10 Signs That You Need to Quit Gardening

 You know I love to garden.  If you're a regular reader you've heard me wax sentimental about everything from rhododendrons to bananas. But, like many hobbies (and like many vines, actually), it can take over your life.
So let's make a pact with one another and agree to quit when any of the following happen:

 1.         A neighbor says when you bent over to pull weeds, she thought you were one of those plywood lawn ornaments (of a fat woman’s rear end). Although, if you're smart you will then decide to write a play called, "Does This Show Make My Butt Look Fat?" and see it produced to rave reviews and then published.  Ah... revenge. 
2.         Your heart rate increases when a bulb catalog arrives in the mail.
3.         Your home grown carrots actually cost six dollars each.

 4.         Your friends and family are tired of getting bushels of zucchini from you.
5.         You know your snails by name.
6.         You actually don’t mind the smell of fertilizer.
7.         You stop in the produce section of the market and yell out, “You call these tomatoes?”
8.       You subscribe to eight publications, and six of them are about gardening.
9.       You wake up in the night to look for slugs with a flashlight.
And the worst one of all:
10.       You overhear your husband saying your hormones have turned to horticulture.
So switch to a new hobby: Buying Joni's books.  Check out my brand new novel, GOLDEN, in paperback or on Kindle, then browse for others on my website.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How is that Spelled Again?

Here is a typical conversation at the Hilton house: 
St. Bob, Richie, and I are sitting at the kitchen island enjoying dessert, when Richie calls his sister, Nicole.  He asks what she’s doing, then turns to me and says, “She’s making chard brownies.”
          I swallow my piece of coconut cream pie and ask, “Why would anyone want to char brownies?”
          He tells her I’ve asked this, and I can hear her voice through the phone, saying, “No; chard brownies.”
          “You do realize this is a homonym, right?” Richie says.  By now we all realize that my organic/locally grown/traceable daughter meant chard, not charred. But I cannot imagine why anyone would want to put chard in an otherwise delightful treat.  It seems even worse than charring one.
          Finally I decide she’s just ultra-organized, and she’s already working on April Fool’s Day ideas.
Enjoy a regular brownie (or a piece of pie) and order my new book, GOLDEN, available in paperback or on Kindle.  And scroll through my website, where you'll also find my YouTube Mom videos.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Can I Ask You A Cheese Train?

          A couple of weeks ago my brother-in-law shared the photo of a Great Blue Heron that he took at his beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  I thought it was so amazing that I shared it on Facebook.  And what did Auto Correct say, instead of heron?  Heroin.  That’s right, HEROIN.
          Just what you want to post: “Look at this beautiful Heroin at my brother-in-law’s beach house.” Here is the actual bird:
          And last week Bob sent a text to a business associate, where the word “happy” was changed to “Hotoyama.”
          We’ve all had it happen. Flight becomes Fight. Dear Mother becomes Dead Mother.  Sheet of Paper becomes Cheater Hater.  And worse.  Unprintably worse.
          But I think there’s something more sinister at work here than the mere flubbing of sounds by a recorder.  I think there are techie nerds giggling wildly, in between sips of Orange Crush, as they assign absolutely ridiculous words to the common ones they know darn well we said.
          I mean, seriously, how can you get from “Happy” to “Hotoyama” and why would a computer program pick the incredibly uncommon Japanese name for the very common English adjective? 
          I think they’re gathered around their monitors, going through lists of vocabulary words and assigning crazy substitutes (as a substitute teacher, I’m not sure I like the phrase “crazy substitute,” but whatever).
          This explains getting “I will claw you” instead of “I will call you,” “His wife is Morbid” instead of “His wife is Morgan,” and the Frat House humor words I cannot print here, which always pop up when you’re writing to your bishop or your boss.
          So thanks for wretching my blog today.  My husband, Bra, is taking me out to lurch now.
Don’t text—sit and read my new book, instead.  You can get GOLDEN in paperback or on Kindle!