Tuesday, October 12, 2021

St. Bob's Latest Invention

         Raise your hand if you have trouble seeing at night. Okay, that looks like everybody. Seriously, we’re not cats, with that extra reflective deal behind their retinas. They also have more rods, whereas we have more cones.

          TMI? Well, what would you prefer—an ice cream rod or an ice cream cone? I think we made the right choice.

          And speaking of night vision, did you know dogs have the same vision as cats? Well, almost. That’s fine with me. I’ll take opposable thumbs any day.

          But seeing well at night becomes an issue when we’re driving, blinded by oncoming headlights. There are yellow glasses that claim to help a bit.

But St. Bob has come up with the perfect solution. We were walking across a parking lot when suddenly one of his lenses fell out of the frames. He instantly realized he could now have both day and night vision.

 I married a genius.

          You can also watch my Youtube Mom videos, or read my books with such brilliant glasses. Try it and see!

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Funny Business

         If you’re a frequent reader, you know that all our kids are hilarious.

And quick. We’re planning a trip with them and I can’t wait.

          Meanwhile, here’s a sampling of what I can look forward to:

          (On a Zoom call, trying to plan the next one):

          Cassidy: Seven is okay, but that would be 8 o’clock here.

          Richie: Oh, that’s right. Because you live in the future.

          (Texting when I thanked them for the new computer they gave me for my birthday):

          Cassidy: Glad it’s better than the last one! A big thank you goes to Richie for seeing you needed it and knowing what to get you as well.

          Brandon: Fine. Thank you Richie.

          These are the same monkeys who try to come up with the most ridiculous things imaginable, when we go around the Thanksgiving table and say what we’re grateful for.

          And who made me worry through a whole vacation.

          And who used a fake name at a solemn ceremony.

          And who cracked joke after joke about my chemo.

           And who ruined all my clothes by giving them crazy names.

          I can only imagine what lies in store when we get all these kids together. Stay tuned!

          Meanwhile, check out my website where you can find all my books and a link to my Youtube Mom videos!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021


        What would you do if two policemen knocked on your door, said they were investigating a murder, and asked where you were on the night of September 15th?

In order, I would wet my pants, scream, and then ask if I could please check my calendar.  Also I would invite them in for cookies.

          I can’t believe how many suspects on TV know exactly what they were doing on any given evening, even one that’s months ago. I can’t tell you what I had for dinner last night.

St. Bob and I both enjoy detective shows, though I’ll admit I forget all about the dead victim if they have a cat or a dog, and I cannot rest until it is made clear who is going to care for that pet, now.

As we try to figure out who-dunnut, we find it particularly challenging when there are multiple suspects and people who have motive.

And here is where an important insight came crashing into my brain: If you have several enemies, YOU could be a murder suspect one day! I mean, odds are they won’t get killed, but then if they’re so despicable that you’ve chosen them for an enemy, maybe someone else will do them in. These are the very people murderers tend to kill, right?

Think about that nasty co-worker, that mean neighbor, that jealous in-law. Everyone who's made it on to your Enemies List. And now they're dead. Shot in an alley, rolled up in a handy nearby rug, stuffed into a trunk, and dropped in a park. I think we can all agree that murderers need to be more creative. Nevertheless, YOU are now among the suspects!  Innocent you!

You’ll be marched in with everybody else who hates this enemy—well, hated, since he’s dead—and someone on the other side of a two-way mirror will point at you and say, “Her—the one with cookie crumbs on her lips.”

But I have the solution!  We simply have to forgive every dingdong who has every wronged us, so we won’t find ourselves in an interrogation room with warm soda to drink.  Or, just pray your enemies don’t die.

See? I just saved you from a prison sentence. The least you can do is buy one of my books.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

They All Ran After the Farmer's Wife

         Here’s what you expect when you host an evening for the teenagers in your church: You expect them to gather in your twinkle-lit backyard and hear spiritual messages.

          Here is what you do not expect: A gathering of mice darting in and out of the honeysuckle, across the patio beams, and up and down the posts.

          It was like a dang Greek chorus, I’m telling you.

Needless to say, it is difficult for any speaker to compete with a complete line of the Rockettes, as impersonated by pink-nosed little rodents.                   

          We had no idea our honeysuckle vines had become a housing project, and now we wonder if there could be more of these little varmints nesting in there.  NO WONDER OUR CAT KEEPS BRINGING THEM IN!

          What we need is a colony of cats to catch and dine upon the colony of mice. But not in front of guests. We’ve had enough theatre to give us a questionable hosting reputation.

          We called an exterminator, but until he arrives I couldn’t help thinking what other animals might like to eat mice. Snakes came to mind, but then... perhaps not.

Nature just doesn’t get it. So stay inside, I’m telling you. Read my books and watch my videos.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

What's Your Word?

            It occurs to me that St. Bob could add some delightful words to the dictionary. You may feel you could do the same.

          Here are just three of his creations. 

          “Hand me that Frabba-snabbitz,” is his favorite. When he can’t think of  Doo-hickey, Whatchamacallit, or ThingamaBOB, dare I say, he simply invents his own catch-all term.

          Another is Wang-doodle, actually a synonym of Frabba-snabbitz. In all fairness, this was the name of a hotdog joint when he was growing up in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Today a Whang-doodle, with an H, is a strip of bacon wrapped in a spiral around a frankfurter.  After doing this research, I can hardly wait to see the pop-up ads I get.

          And last is Yacka-dacka-dooey. This is used in place of the one-syllable “Yay.”  It reminds me of Fred Flintstone’s, “Yabba Dabba Doo!”

         And now I have increased your vocabulary by three whole words. Well, “words” in quotation marks.

          Feel free to tell me your own invented words. Meanwhile, be sure to watch my short Youtube Mom videos for all kinds of life hacks and brilliant advice.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Aloha Oy

           St. Bob certainly deserves his title. This time he took me on a surprise vacation to Hawaii for our anniversary. What a guy.

          He even entertained me on the balcony of our rented beachside condo. When doves, cardinals, and myna birds fluttered in hoping for crumbs, he adopted a tough-guy accent and said, “Hey. No mynas allowed here. You gotta be at least 18.” Ba-doom-boom.

          We were on the island of Kauai, which gets frequent rain. It also has about a zillion chickens and roosters. And I can now report to you that “mad as a wet hen” is a complete misnomer. These drenched hens were not one bit mad, nor were they seeking dry shelter. They simply went pecking about, the same as if the sun had been shining. You’re welcome.

          We ate fabulous food and saw gorgeous scenery. Then we went tubing, boogie boarding, and scuba diving. 

            Afterwards, one of the divers said she saw an octopus.  Uh-oh. I felt my face turning red. Do you think she saw my super-curly post-chemo hair?

         All too soon it was time to go home. Our dear friends, Alex and Nancy Theriault, picked us up at the airport at midnight and drove us home. But the battery in our button code door lock had died, so we were locked out. 

        Alex came to the rescue, crawled through our doggie door, and let us in. But of course! This is Joniopolis.

Whether you want the perfect beach read, travel tips, or a bunch of great life hacks, check out my books and Youtube Mom videos here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

M is for...

           It starts with a good idea. You take a meal to a friend who was in a terrible accident.  And, if you live in Joniopolis, here’s what happens:

          She tells me she had to see a doctor to take a cognitive test. They asked her to name 60 words in 60 seconds, that started with M.

          And I wondered, could I do this even without a bump on the head? I mean, that’s a lot of words and the clock is ticking. You’d better not pick megalomania, multilingualism, mischievousness, or microbiological, right? Because those would each cost you two seconds, easily. Now you’re down to 48 seconds and you’ve only said four words.

          Flash forward to 1 pm that night.  I cannot sleep a wink because I’m watching the clock to see how many M words I can come up with. I’m trying for single syllables, so I have mom, man, moo, mat, cat, bat, sat, fat--- wait--- I’ve started rhyming!

          I start over. Can you use homophones? Can you say might and mite and would they know that’s two different words?  Mane, mein, and main? How about mind and mined, or Mat and matte? You could take this whole test and only get half credit!

          Then I wondered if you could get extra points if they make a story. Morris Mouse made magical miracles, miffed Millicent Mole, maybe murdered monstrous Martha Moose, momentarily married mild Maggie Marmot, moved merrily (minus money), Missouri-bound.

          Hours. Hours I took to concoct every possible way to pass this test, until morning, which starts with M as well. And now I’m pretty sure I need my head examined. Mercy!

But I promise my books are not filled only with M-words. Find ‘em all here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Viking Rock

          Okay, this is not about a Viking rock band. It’s about the time I went panning for gold, which I described two weeks ago.

          What I didn’t mention is that I found a treasure: A rock upon which an ancient Viking drew a cartoon! Well, it’s more like a tiny pebble, less than an inch wide.

          But it still has a hieroglyph or a petroglyph or SOMETHING on it. I think a Viking used a ball-point pen, myself. Our eldest son is a geologist and he said it’s possibly plagioclase feldspar. Something about one mineral filling in the cracks of another. But what does he know?

          I say it’s a drawing, and this is my attempt at showing you what I saw:

          Basically a Viking with a bushy beard, a big, round nose, a horn hat, and muscular biceps. Actually, this one appears to be a waiter Viking with a towel over his arm, perhaps standing on a skateboard.

          So this ancient Olaf or Sven was not only showing us what Vikings do in their off hours, but that they had streamlined food service for quicker delivery. And you thought “fast food” was a modern thing.

          Equally fast is the delivery you’ll get when you order one of my books!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Is it Possible to Underhear?

          We all know what it means to overhear. Well, I would like to underhear. And what I’d like to underhear are the songs St. Bob sings at full volume, whenever they pop into his head.

          Mind you, these are not legendary hits everyone loves. These are obscure songs from a zillion years ago, most of which nobody knows. The latest offerings have included Mississippi Mud, Put Your Shoes on Lucy (Don’t You Know You’re in the City), The Race is On, Way Out on the Windswept Desert (complete with yodeling), Kalijah, Buttermilk Sky, and Short Fat Fanny.

          One of my friends has a husband who does the same thing. These guys have matched up on the above tunes and more: May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose, You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd, and She Got the Goldmine, I Got the Shaft.

          Bob could be the all-time world champion on Name That Tune, except it isn’t airing anymore, and he’s a game show guy, so thus ineligible. He can hear one note of intro to some song, and not only tell you the title, but who recorded it and in what year. He also knows every word, and can imitate the drummer doing a solo halfway through.

          How is there enough time on earth to learn the ins and outs of every song ever recorded?  Maybe he has a photographic memory, but for sound. What would that be called?  How about annoy-ographic memory?

          I will, concede, however, that he has a lovely bass voice and all the guys in the church choir try to sit by him so they can follow his lead. Either that, or he’s teaching them Short Fat Fanny.

          He’s also my cameraman when I record a Youtube Mom video. Check ‘em out for life hacks, tips, and motherly advice!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Gold and Chocolate

           Ever been panning for gold?  Well, it happens that just half an hour from my house, kids go to Sutter’s Fort on field trips. Yep, the Sacramento area is where gold was discovered in 1848, triggering the Gold Rush.

          Better yet, dear friends of ours have a mountain home on Miner's Ridge, with three lakes atop piles of tailings. These lakes are just crying to be panned for gold. (Okay, you can’t hear the cries, but you know thar’s gold in them thar hills.)

          Turns out you can’t just shake a pan of gravel. There’s a technique to this. Luckily, our friends showed us how it’s done and we sat there chatting as we scooped up sand, swished it around, and looked for glimmering flecks of gold. “Oh, there’s a cute one,” my friend and I said a few times, selecting rocks we liked. AND I’M SURE THE PROSPECTORS SAID THIS SAME THING WHEN THEY COULDN’T FIND ANY GOLD, EITHER.

          Then this morning I was shamelessly raiding my husband’s birthday jar of trail mix for the M&Ms, and decided to pour a bunch into the lid, then shake it so the M&Ms would show up.

          Oh my gosh—I’m panning for M&Ms! And it worked!  See? Everything you learn has a purpose. I just hope there isn’t an M&M Rush when word gets out.

Speaking of words, check out my Youtube Mom videos (there are hundreds online) where I tell you amazing life hacks and DIY tips!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Unwelcome Wagon

           There used to be a lovely slice of Americana, where women would drop by the homes of new people moving in, and bring them all kinds of goodies, gifts, and coupons. It was called the Welcome Wagon.  Alas, these in-person visits are no more, though the company still does online marketing, mail, and telemarketing. (Isn’t this a bit like your favorite candy shop turning into a car warranty store and then calling you every day?)

          Anyway, lots of folks choose to do it themselves. In our family, the kids know --and think it’s the law, possibly-- that if someone moves in, they get a plate of cookies. I also like to recommend good local merchants, restaurants, and such. It’s neighborly. It’s nice. Right?

          So I saw a moving van down the street and decided to pop over with a plate of goodies the next day. As I arrived, a man came walking down the driveway, so I hurried to meet him. I introduced myself and said, “I thought I’d bring you some cookies. Welcome to the neighborhood.”

          He took the plate without a word, got into his pickup truck, and drove off. Whaaat?  Why didn’t he go inside and ask his wife and kids to come out and meet the new neighbors? Or at least take the cookies into the house, instead of just driving off with them?


          It’s mighty suspicious. And what person--myself excluded-- could eat an entire plate of 16 cookies all by himself?  Surely he would take them inside to share, maybe grab a couple of them for the road, and then leave.


          It’s mighty creepy. Not sure it’s as creepy as a woman driving by later to check things out, spy, and see if he’s still there. But we’ll find out.

And yes, this incident later appeared in my book, Golden. Sometimes art imitates life.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Klutz Olympics

           Once again, I have come up with a great idea. The Olympics just started and we are watching people who are so athletic that they seem to be created by animators. I fully expect one of them to leap into the air and zoom about like Superman, using their country’s flag as a cape.

          So here’s my thought. What if, next, we had The Klutz Olympics? As a certified klutz, I can assure you that normally coordinated people cannot fake this, not even clowns, not even actors playing klutzy characters. Those of us who are truly clumsy recognize a well-rehearsed fall or fumble. Nope, you’d have to be a genuine klutz to qualify.

          And then, videographers would simply film us going about our day. Bumping into door jambs, knocking over water bottles, tripping over chairs. Hey—we don’t even need trainers!  Nor do we need to devote hours and hours to practice. We simply do what comes naturally and get medals.

          I can visualize my edited video. It would look like yesterday, in the car with St. Bob.  I was trying to get into the car carrying a box and it smacked me in the face somehow. We drove to the post office where I was going to pop in and mail it.

          Joni: I can’t believe I hit my nose with that box!

Bob: I can.  (Hands me his wallet)

Joni: What if I lose the money? What if I lose your credit card? 

Bob: You’ve already lost it.

          Joni (baring teeth, trying to look tough): I’ll be right back. (And then I tripped up the stairs and dropped the box, my knees and hands slapping the cement.)

          I’m telling you, if we had a Klutz Olympics I’d win, hands and knees down.

          Klutzy or not, I do have hundreds of cool life hacks  on my Youtube channel.  Check ‘em out!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Heck No

           I spent most of my formative years in northern Utah, and when I first saw the movie, Napoleon Dynamite, it felt like a documentary of my childhood, right down to the chicken farms and the 4-H.

          Just to clarify, I did watch it again and thought it was hilarious once I got over the trauma of seeing a tetherball again. But most of all, I loved the “Heck no” phrase, which you can still find in abundance in this region.

          In fact, I am surprised there is no college major offered in hecknology, after which you can become a hecknologist. Or a hecknocrat, you can choose.

          Hecknically, it’s a phrase that elevates no to NO, all the while avoiding profanity, so as not to offend.  And it takes a certain savoir faire, a certain cool polish to speak it correctly (if in doubt, you could call a hecknician to speak for you if you can’t get anyone to offer hecknical support).

          Indeed, not to fall back on a hecknicality, but not everyone has the hecknicological talent for it, nor the hecknique. Sure, you can dance to heckno music, but using it in conversation could make you look like a heckojunkie from questionable hecknography.

          No, it seems only those with real roots in southern Idaho or northern Utah can claim membership in this hecknocracy; only we can engage in hecknicolor  hecknobabble. I suppose tutoring could help erase your hecknofear, but would you ever become a hecknomaniac?  Heck no.

          However, you may console yourself by purchasing my books and reading them to your heart’s content.  That’s a heckuva way to spend an afternoon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Chick Magnet

           There’s something about St. Bob that uninhibits women, shall we say.  I’ve seen women make passes at him on the freeway, in meetings, after performances we’ve attended, and once, when we brought some Christmas gifts over to an elderly lady in our church, she whispered, “I love you” to him while I was standing approximately four inches away.

          Another elderly woman, again in our church, told him her garter snapped when she met him.  I’m telling you, I could fill a book with these events.

          So the other day we decided to take the nearby walking path around the wetlands. Two women were approaching, one on her cell phone. Just as they got to us, the phone one said, “Hello, Sunshine!”

          Now, of course Bob insists she was saying this to someone on the phone. But c'mon, this is rather amazing timing, don’t you think? And, given his history as a chick magnet, it could be she was still waiting for someone to pick up.

          And you can take that any way you like.

Why not pick up a couple of my books? It’s too hot to go outside (plus you might run into flirty women), so stay inside and read.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

What's That, You Say?

           Have you ever met someone who “hears what they want to hear”?  Yes, you have: Me. 

         A few years ago I asked a group of friends what they would do for a living, if they weren't whatever they are now.  One friend, a doctor, said, "Psychopath."

         I was immediately fascinated. What a cool choice!

         Then he elaborated and I realized he had said "soccer player."

          Okay, not nearly as exciting as a psychopath.

          Then the other day a college student from China, who had recently joined our church, came over for dinner. He was delightful—happy and genial, great sense of humor.

          I asked him what he was majoring in. 

          “Pastry,” he said.

          Ding-ding-ding—best news of the day, right? I told him he could come over and do his homework in our kitchen every single day.

          “That’s so cool that you’re studying pastry,” I said.

          “No, no—history,” he explained.

          Oh. My happy expression melted onto the floor, and here’s where the needle scratches the record, for those of you who know that sound.

          All the wind left my sails.  History?  I mean, I have nothing against that field of study, but compared to pastry?      (sigh)

          These kids today.

Hey, are you having a heat wave where you live?  Staying inside? That’s a perfect time to watch my Youtube Mom videos. Enjoy a pastry while you watch!