I look like I’ve been in a bar fight.

My face is all swollen up: imagine a Cabbage Patch doll, but with bruising.

I have no energy and I feel like crap.   I joke, “You should see the other guy,” but really, he looks perfectly fine. He’s a dentist. Read more

Some people have a spirit animal, an animal that’s supposed to represent your skills or beliefs in some way.

Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy

Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

My spirit animal is Fozzie Bear.  Yes, that furry comedian from “The Muppet Show,” the one with the pork pie hat and polka-dot bow tie.  “The one who tells the terrible jokes?” you say.  Yes, but you misspelled hilarious!

Wocka, wocka, wocka!

My kids were playing a video game, and a bad guy came on the screen.  “Is he Russian?”  Andy asked.  From the kitchen, I said, “I don’t know, but he sure is walking fast.”

I thought it was hilarious. 

This morning, I hugged my daughter, Blair, before she’d had her morning coffee and told her she was shrinking.  It took her a full thirty seconds to figure out I was wearing inch-high flip flops.  When she did, she laughed.  Which was why I had done it in the first place.  She had been kind of down last night.  I figure, if I can start a new day for her off with a dumb joke that actually cracks her up, I’m doing my job.

I love corny jokes.  For some reason, they’re known as “dad jokes,” but they’re also pure Mom.  They offend no one.  They make fun of no one.  They’re not dirty.  Anyone, of any age, can laugh – or, as is often the case with my audiences, groan – but almost always smile.  Corny jokes are great icebreakers.

Puns are the droppings of soaring wits.” – Victor Hugo

What do you call a fake noodle?  An impasta!

What does a nosey pepper do?  It gets jalapeno business!

I can’t believe I got fired from the calendar factory.  All I did was take a day off!

Why can’t you give Elsa a balloon?  Because she’ll just let it go!

I wish I had a drummer available at all times to provide that rim shot.  Sometimes, if I’m in the kitchen and planning ahead, I can tell a joke and thunk one of the pots hanging on the pot rack with a spoon.  Delightful!

What did the janitor say when he jumped out of the closet?  SUPPLIES!

In an age of often unbearable hipness, where girls from fifth grade up are mean, where nerdy or vulnerable kids get picked on, where adults are ruder than ever – flipping people off, shouting mean things at sporting events, making shameful, profane comments under the cloak of anonymity on websites, bullying people on social media; you can probably think of your own examples – it’s not such a bad thing to send a corny joke someone’s way.   They’re kind of a safe haven, gentle humor that means no offense and would give you a hug if it could. 

On “The Muppet Show,” there were two cranky old hecklers, Statler and Waldorf, who always trashed Fozzie’s jokes.  But secretly, they must have loved them, because they were always back the next week for more. 

What did the fish say when it swam into a wall?  Dam!

Every day, Josh gets a little note in his lunch box, as his brother and sister did before him, with a little joke or maybe an illustration if I can think of one.  He loves them so much, he saves them.  We have a drawer full of yellow stickies with one-liners on them. 

Did you hear about the man whose bakery burned down?  His business is toast! 

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity.  It’s impossible to put down! 

Need an ark?  I Noah guy!

I’ve got a million of ‘em!  Now, here’s my most risqué one:  What did one old boob say to the other?  “If we don’t get some support around here, people will think we’re nuts!”  I admit, I wouldn’t tell that to everybody, but the ladies in the choir at church thought it was pretty funny.   

Norman Cousins, the respected editor of the magazine, Saturday Review, is famous for laughing himself to health.  He was diagnosed with a crippling spinal condition, and no medicine helped him.  So one day, he checked himself out of the hospital, holed up in his apartment and spent a month reading comic books, watching funny movies and TV shows like “Candid Camera,” writing jokes and laughing up a storm.  A month later, he was cured.  “All I did was laugh myself to health,” he told his doctors, who were dumbfounded at the change in his condition.

I figure, there’s enough bad stuff out there in the world.  People are polarized over politics, stressed out by technology, worried about money and the state of the world in general.  They don’t need me to try to be profound and make deep or ironic statements (which is good, because I don’t have any).  So, in closing, let us pause to remember these meaningful words of Groucho Marx:

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

Wocka, wocka, wocka!

For more fun, here is a brief history of puns from the New York Post.

“The man who is well wears a crown that only the sick can see.” — Sir William Osler.

“Today is a good day to have a good day.” — Joanna Gaines.

Two of my favorite sayings just came true for me, when I had to stay overnight in the hospital after what I had hoped would be an outpatient surgical procedure.  The first was said by Osler, a legendary physician from more than a century ago, widely considered to be the Father of Internal Medicine.  Actually, I don’t know who coined the second phrase, but I heard it from Joanna Gaines on the HGTV show, “Fixer Upper.”

What Osler meant was that, you don’t know how good you have it until you don’t feel well.  The most basic things that you took for granted even a few hours earlier seem like privileges, and you think, “Oh, man, I was so fortunate, and I didn’t even know it.”  Then, if some or all of those essential things are restored to you, you realize that you have the makings of a good day.  A great day, even.

For example:  If you are lying in a bed and you don’t have these gripper things Velcro’d to your legs from ankle to knee, rhythmically squeezing first the left leg and then the right so you don’t get a blood clot, that’s a pretty good day right there.  If you want to get up from bed, or even turn over, and you can move your legs and your abdominal muscles are working even though you just had surgery, way to go!  If you want to get up, and you don’t have an IV connected to your left arm and a blood pressure thing connected to your right arm, along with the Velcro leg things mentioned above, congrats!  You’re free!  You are untethered, friend!

If you get up, despite having the IV pole, and manage to walk a lap or two around the nurses’ station on your hospital floor, fist bump!  If you manage to make it to the room toilet and something — even a few drops — comes out, you are on your way to having a good day.  In my case, the anesthesiologist told my husband I was “a lightweight” — meaning, the least bit of anesthesia just knocks me out, makes itself comfortable in my body, and doesn’t want to leave.  So when I managed to eat a Popsicle and drink a styrofoam cup of iced Shasta ginger ale — and thought those were the best things I had ever had in my life — they just sat there in my stomach, not getting absorbed.  Then they came back up.  Several times.  At last, when I finally achieved urine, it was a victory.  Things were moving along!  And then, my friends, if you have not had any food for 24 hours and you have had abdominal surgery and, when you go to the bathroom, you manage to achieve a small toot, let me tell you:  Tchaikovsky himself could not have written the cannon fire in the 1812 Overture to be any more triumphant.  The system is working!  Doctors and nurses really get excited when the old digestive tract fires back up.

But this is not about what happened to me so much as what it made me realize.  Just about everything is a gift of some kind.  We don’t always see it, but it is.  Tired at work?  Hey, at least (I hope) you got to get up, dress yourself,  eat whatever you wanted to, have a big cup of something with caffeine (which also means you don’t now have a righteous caffeine-withdrawal headache), and you either drove or walked or rode a bike or some form of public transportation to get there.   If you also had to get your kids and/or spouse up, maybe chuck some laundry in the washer, maybe put something in the Crock Pot for supper, you could look at it as a burden.  But I hope you will look at it as a privilege, because nobody had to do those things for you because you weren’t able to do it yourself.

The very best part about all this, and my recovery, is, as always, my family and friends.  My kids — Blair, Andy, and Josh, plus Kevin, Andy’s best friend, who’s visiting us this summer — have been wonderful, doing anything I needed them to do, and not letting me do much at all.  I am not good at not pushing myself, but they have done (literally) the heavy lifting when I really needed it.  Blair, my daughter, has been especially incredible, driving Josh to school, cooking meals, going to the grocery store, etc.  My friend, Marion, sent me a card that said she was wearing pajamas in solidarity with me (I love that!).   Cassie, Gena, and Leigh listened to me worrying about everything that could go wrong (and nothing did, as far as I can tell!).  I didn’t really announce it at church or among my friends, but the people who knew, like Bev, sent cards and called and checked in, and I was in their prayers.  My buddies in the praise band and choir were there for me.  Catherine fixed us meals that were feasts — twice.  My dad, my brother, Bradley, and sister-in-law, Carole, and mother-in-law, Sally, keep checking in.

And, as always, Mark was there, holding my hand before surgery, just sitting by the gurney in pre-op and being with me when the case before mine was delayed and I started to fidget.  When I didn’t bounce back right away, he was with me in the hospital room, and when it became clear that I wasn’t going to get to go home, he just slept there, wearing his same clothes, with no toothbrush or pillow.  He slept on a pullout sofa in the room, helped me get up to go to the bathroom in the night, cheered with me when I managed to achieve urine, then got up at 6 a.m., went home, took a shower, and went to work, where he spent the next nine hours taking care of his own patients.

If you have people in your life who give a crap about you, who love you, who take care of you when you’re sick, who do stuff for you when you need it, then be happy.  You have won the game, buddy.  If you’re fairly healthy on top of that, then you’ve got a lot of reasons to celebrate.  You’re wearing a crown that only someone who isn’t feeling as well as you can see.  You’ve also, I hope, got a lot more to be thankful for than you know.  Many reasons why today is a good day to have a good day.

P.S.  If I ever complain or feel sorry for myself, you have my permission to give me a swift kick — but gently, please — I’ve still got stitches.

I just vacuumed my kitchen table.  Don’t judge me.  I was vacuuming the wooden floor, using the attachment, and I noticed some crumbs on the table.  Then I went ahead and vacuumed the countertops.  They look pretty good.  I’m tired, I’m in a hurry, I have more work to do this morning than I can possibly get done, so I’m doing what I can do.  I haven’t taken my shower yet but I’m wearing workout clothes, which I hope makes it somewhat more acceptable that I look like crap.  I’m in Survival Mode.

Survival Mode is when you just do what you have to do.  You wake up and hit the ground running.  I get up at my customary 6:30, awakened as always by Molly putting her big Lab head by my pillow.  Let out the dogs, feed the dogs, empty the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, give Josh a 30-minute snooze alarm, empty the dryer, load the dryer, load the washer, check on Andy, who is a freshman in college but living at home, to make sure he’s got his alarm set, exchange multiple texts with Blair, our daughter who is at college in Tucson.  7:00, start fixing Josh’s lunch for school, give him one last snooze, fix his breakfast, get Mark’s lunch ready and find a dishwasher-safe travel mug.  I hide the ones you have to hand-wash.

Josh and I were up late last night doing his homework.  He has just started middle school.  I know every grade, because I obsessively check the school’s website.  They had a video on insects in science, and Josh was supposed to take 25 notes.  He took 11, and got an F.  I just realized that he might be able to pull up the grade by fixing the paper and turning it in again.   The problem is, he didn’t remember the video anymore.

“What was on it?”  “Insects.”  I Googled and found numerous possible videos, hoping we could just watch it again, struck out totally.  So I started asking about bugs.  Were there ants?  Yes.  Can you remember anything they said about ants?  Leaf cutter ants can hurt a forest.  Okay, let’s make a sentence about that.  Moths?  No.  Butterflies?  No.  Termites?  Yes, the soldier ones have big heads.  Also, the queen lays thousands of eggs a day.  We couldn’t find out how many, but we found a sentence in a BBC story online that said the queen lays an egg every three seconds.  Somehow we figured out a daily number of eggs that this equals.  Cockroaches?  Yes, they can make your food bad.  So can weevils.  Locusts?  Yes.  Bees?  Check.

Butterflies?  You just asked me that.  I’m sorry, I’m tired.  By now we were at about 8:30, I had gone to the grocery store, taken Mark’s shirts to the cleaners, picked up Josh at school, picked up our farm share and made kohlrabi pickles, sautéed the kohlrabi leaves, candied some carrots, and then balanced all that healthiness out with sloppy Joes and Tater Tots.  Mailed the signed form required for the roof people to fix our chimney cap, which leaked in the big storm we had this week.  Wrote two stories for one of the five publications I’m simultaneously writing for.  Wasps?  No.  There was some bug that lives in the water.  Water strider?  No.  Get back on Google.  Water boatman.  Okay, what do they do?  I can’t remember.  Butterflies?  Yes.  Really?  Yes, the Monarch butterfly has a long tongue.  Thank God!

We finally got to 19 facts.  If the teacher accepts them all, that will be 76 percent, which is better than 44 percent.  Josh has A’s in everything else,  except for this one bad grade, so I hope we can get this resolved and get on with our lives.  Tonight we have choir at church at 6 and hockey across town at 7, so Mark will come and get Josh at choir at 6:30 and take him to hockey, then I will leave choir and spell Mark at hockey until it’s over at 8:30, hoping to God that Josh will already be done with his homework.  Also I signed up to bring a fruit plate to school tomorrow.  I have no fruit.


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

In a non-endorsed, side-by-side comparison, our three kids voted Cuties as the overwhelming favorite.

“What are Cuties®?

No….they are not your young child, your relative or your beloved pet…they are a part of the Sun Pacific family!”

We found Halos drier and not as tasty. I don’t know if our experience is unique, but in our house, Cuties rule.


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

I am really proud to say that our entire family shoots well.  Josh, age 9, is completely relaxed as he aims for the target and pulls the trigger.  Blair and Andy are great shots, as is Mark.  I am a good shot, too, although I take a while to get my aim just right.  I think I can cut down that time with more practice.  

Thanks to a friend from church, we have joined a gun club, and the older kids and maybe Mark are going to start competing in contests that combine speed and accuracy.  On our farm, we had a .22 rifle for varmints.  We never used it to kill anything, although if I had seen that fox that killed my beloved rooster, The Baron, and our two favorite hens, Mrs. Priddy and Lady Peckinstraw, I would have taken a shot.  

Instead, we went to the shooting range, and also put up targets on trees around the farm and just plinked.  It is only recently that we have started target shooting with smaller guns — heck, I’m going to say it, that dreaded word — handguns. “Ze gun of ze hand,” as the Amish patriarch, Eli Lapp, who believed guns are evil, cautioned Harrison Ford in “Witness.”  I don’t think guns are evil.  

In fact, the people at the gun club and at shooting ranges are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  Unfailingly polite, respectful, and totally obsessed with safety.

Two friends, both shooting instructors, spent three and a half hours with us last week, helping us shoot better.  The entire three and a half hours was also one relentless course in safety.  They drilled it into us, as they always do.  Layer on layer of redundant safety procedures, so if you forget one thing, you’ve got two or three more safeguards in place.

These are not the people who need to have their guns taken away.  Instead, these are your best bet for someone to save your butt if you are ever, God forbid, in a situation where someone starts shooting in public.

I would much rather have my kids learn about guns from guys like these than to keep them in misguided ignorance and have them accidentally get shot or shoot someone else because they didn’t know what they were doing.  In fact, I think everybody should take a gun safety course, even if you’re Amish, even if you’re the most fervent gun control advocate there could ever be.


Because guns happen. If you take them away from the people who are law-abiding and safety conscious, then only the people you really don’t want to have guns will have them.  Having just the fear of guns, without the practical knowledge of how to disarm one, is kind of useless, and it promotes the wrong kind of fear — like in Harry Potter, where people actually give Voldemort more power because they are afraid even to say his name.  Instead, he’s “you know who,” or “he who must not be named,” and he has a lot more power than he deserves.  I’m sorry that in our culture, this is even a controversial position.

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.