Podunk Meets Paradise

Musings from Central Idaho

The Ties That Bind

Christmas break is officially over as the Odd Number bid his farewell this morning. He’s a sophomore at Boise State now and man, they have a long break! Long enough in fact, for me to notice that the young man didn’t know how to tie his shoes.

How can that be, you are asking yourself. The kid is 19 1/2, for crying out loud. Well, it gets worse. Her Royal Highness, age 22 next month, confessed that when she is in the locker room lacing up her ice skates, people critique her technique. That’s because we raised grown ass adults who still use the double bunny ears method of tying their shoes.

We’d bought them a book like this, and those little do-it-yourselfers seemed to have caught on quickly. At least I knew I wasn’t tying their shoes anymore. And maybe there were a lot of slip-on shoes or even Velcro … maybe I didn’t want to know the truth.

But when I saw the Odd Number looping those big bunny ears with his manly paws, I couldn’t turn away this time. We had issues and we needed to work through them. I knew that age had made me a better, more patient teacher, and that was good because Odd is still left handed.

We sat down and practiced a proper shoelace knot, with just the one bunny ear, and then over, under, around and through — now we meet Mr. Bunny Rabbit, pull and through! Victory! We high-fived and I texted Her Royal Highness so she would know it is never too late to learn. And she texted me back and said now that one of my kids could tie his own shoes, I had a 50% success rate. “Still an F,” she noted, with the slightly superior texting tone of the college senior.

Slip-ons can cover up shoe tying deficiencies.

Odd headed out for the night, slipping into his laceless shoes. All was right with the world.

Shiny New Shopping Carts

Podunk only has one grocery store. A few years ago I wrote about the sorry state of the Lone Store’s shopping carts. I’ll pause while you review the 2014 essay Trials and Tribulations at Podunk’s Lone Store Corral.

OK great. Because now you will remember how important this news is. Hot off the press,  perhaps because of my shitty shopping cart defacement project, Lone Store rolled out a fleet of brand new carts.


These new shopping carts represent upward mobility for people in Podunk. 

The ecstasy I feel when I drive the new cart speaks volumes to how thoroughly Podunk I am. Yet I am not ashamed. The smooth, quiet ride, the cupholder, the end of the 1990s era handlebar that had been touched by the swine flu epidemic of 2009, rotovirus outbreak of 2015, head lice, hoof and mouth disease, and unpleasant sticky things.

The delight I feel is similar to what I felt as a child when our family got any new appliance that was accompanied by a large cardboard box. It didn’t happen often, but the feeling of unadulterated upward mobility wafted in the air for weeks.

The arrival of these new shopping carts is a strangely emotional experience for me. Touring the now exiled, hateful carts through the only game in town, year after year, led one to conclude that the owner of Lone Store didn’t love any of us. A kind and benevolent grocer wouldn’t be able to stand the sight or sound of his flock screeching through the aisles, watching helplessly as one wheel stubbornly stopped until its operator jostled it free, sometimes leaning in with the shoulder, sometimes at the expense of the other lady in the cereal section (sorry lady!).

But now the grocer’s requisite customers can hold our heads high at the supermarket. Eat your heart out, Whole Foods shoppers — Podunk has arrived.

Women’s Snowshoe March

While many women marched in urban capitol cities today, some of us in Podunk headed out for a snowshoe march. I attached a poster with my spirit animal, Linda Hamilton (the badass mutha Sarah Conner from the Terminator, as if you didn’t know that), to my backpack and tromped through the forest with my sidekick Lucy, the good Dr. Benedict, and Sarge.


We were in search of dignity and hope and we mostly found it in the frosted pines and soft snow.


Hollering single file about current events, we came to some clear headed, high elevation realizations. Perhaps the most profound — how grateful we are that the sick Californian freaks who tortured their 13 captive children for years are not running for Congress.

Turpin crazies

David and Louise Turpin are depraved, but not Congressional candidates, so my relatives won’t be as tempted to vote for them.

This saves me from the repugnant conversation with my crazy pants relatives as they explain why they are voting for the Turpins, in spite of their depravity, because of their pro-life voting records. “We’re all sinners,” my uncle would remind me.

And then Sarah Conner would step out from behind the tree, casually holding her double barrel shotgun in one bulging arm.

Terminator Sarah Connor

Where was I? Oh yeah, today reminded me to appreciate the small blessings, like marching on snowshoes with strong women in still public lands.

Trolling for Sponsors Pays Off

Gentle Podunk readers will remember that I’ve been trolling for sponsors for a good many years with surprisingly little success.

All that has changed. My hockey team, the Cold Muthas, recently made an appearance in Podunk’s first annual Hoar Frost tournament. And we did so with the support of none other than Sturdy Pine Gear and Repair. Sturdy Pine’s motto is “Badass Bags for Badass Bitches,” so you can see how the Cold Muthas would be the perfect marketing vessel for this fledgling company.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 9.56.34 AM

Plus, the entrepreneurial owner doubles as “Soup Can,” the Muthas’ star forward. To date, sponsorship consists of Sturdy Pine’s labor force repairing my shoulder pads for free. But this is kind of a big deal as the disrepair of my shoulder pads was giving me a shark fin look that I did not entirely appreciate.

Sturdy Pine’s sponsorship of the Cold Muthas has broken the so-called glass ceiling for commercializing the team. Now we’re in talks with a second sponsor — the maker of the Moozie. What’s a Moozie? you ask. Maybe one of the best things I’ve seen since I lugged a Sturdy Pine bag over my shoulder.


See, it’s a hand-crocheted mitten and coozy in one. The Moozie is colorful and warm, and best of all, when your hand gets tired of holding your high gravity beer, you can relax your grip and the Moozie magically holds the can on its own. The Cold Muthas signature version has these googly eyes that opponents find very distracting.

So far, the Cold Muthas only have one of these fine products, but I’m sure that when the manufacturer sees the fame and prestige the Muthas bring to the table, we will be more sponsored. Moozie, proud sponsor of the Cold Muthas.

If your company would like to sponsor the fierce Cold Muthas hockey team, drop me a line. Not you, Vagisil.

The Trouble with Scandals

When late night smarty pants Charlie Rose fell from grace last month, the veteran journalist took a lot of people down with him. Including yours truly, Podunk.

No, Mr. Rose did not parade around naked in front of me, nor did he grab my buttocks in an ill-fated attempt to be a guest blogger for this online media powerhouse.

But the lewd and predatory behavior that eventually wrecking balled Rose’s career also razed one of my longtime creative projects — the Charlie Rose Nighty Night app. I know now it just sounds perverted, but for years I have been convinced that there is no better sleeping aid than Charlie Rose interviewing someone, preferably with a thick accent, about world economics.

This interview with Javad Zarif, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, for example, reportedly lasted for one hour. I wouldn’t know, however. You could have removed my spleen with a garlic press after 3 minutes of this chatter and I would have been none the wiser.

Charlie’s interview with Klaus Schwab about the World Economic Forum hypnotized me so completely I slept solidly for 12 hours, waking groggily with the vague memory of a dream containing umlauts.

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 5.46.46 PM

Watch Rose’s interview with Mr. Schwab here: https://charlierose.com/video/player/23789. Do NOT operate heavy machinery while watching.

My idea was simple — I would combine sleep shades that would wrap around your ears, piping my hand-selected, coma-inducing Charlie Rose smart talk into your central nervous system. The product would serve millions of people who suffer from sleep disorders, potentially resulting in a humanitarian prize and a car with leather seats.

But now it’s all ruined. The only thing I have to show for my inventive genius is a pirate eye patch gorilla taped to some ear muffs.

Thanks a lot, Charlie Rose.

Podunk Goes Multimedia

I talked some friends into letting me be a guest podcaster for their new OutLandIsh series. I’ve listened to podcasts and they sometimes sound like journalism, a sport that I like. I will say that if you had told me when I was in college that radio journalism was going to be the thing, I would have made a snorting noise or maybe even actually snorted. We all had a crush on Edward R. Murrow, but really, radio?

outlandish_dark400aBut it is a thing, and my OutLandIsh friends were killing it. And they were gracious enough to let me give it a whirl. Liz gave me a walkie talkie-looking contraption and in May I scampered down to New Mexico to check out the part of the Continental Divide Trail that wasn’t under 6 feet of snow. I got some great interviews, and I was pretty excited to be branching out into a new medium.

Then the pain and suffering began. The process to get the audio recording from my walkie-talkie into the sound editing program required uploading the audio to “The Creative Cloud.” I now think of the Creative Cloud as more of a Creative Mirage, whereby you think you uploaded your audio but when you try to show it to someone else, they put their hand on your head like you have a fever. The Creative Cloud is Satan.

menacing cloud

What the Creative Cloud looks like while it is digesting your podcast.

My friend Rachel had clearly lost a bet in a drinking game and was assigned to be my editor. I called her on a Sunday morning, waking her with a salute of “This F—ing Sucks!” She tried to soothe me. “This work is really demoralizing. I can tell you that your experience is normal, at least as far as I can tell.” I was not soothed.

After several seances, calling on the mercy of the spirit world, the Creative Cloud and Satan finally belched up my podcast. I think I’ll stick to good ol’ pen and paper, thank you very much, but you’re welcome to listen to the devil’s work if you like.


What Now?

We dropped Odd Number off at Boise State University last week, initiating a new era in family life. So far, that era is distinguished by the number of times people have asked us about ENS, or Empty Nest Syndrome. empty nest

Nothing that ends with Syndrome is ever good, so naturally I’m resistant to the phrase. If our house is indeed a nest, Iron Chef and I are still in it, as is our cat — the Worst Hippopotamus. Not to mention the fact that Her Royal Highness (now a college junior) uses the nest as a combination flophouse/storage shed in between her wilderness river trips. That behavior actually does feel like a syndrome.

Empty Nest or no, there is no doubt that having both kids in college will create a new dynamic. On one of the rare occasions this summer when all four of us sat down to dinner, the conversation was lively and fun. Odd soon peeled off to carouse with his friends, and it didn’t take Her Highness long to get a better offer, so they excused themselves and left us alone on the deck. Chef looked at me with what one might perceive as terror, and said, “What now?”

We both laughed hysterically after he said it, like you do before you ride one of those rides at the amusement park that simulates an elevator falling 40 floors.

elevator fallI’m mostly nervous because I’ve been using the children as human shields from some basic responsibilities. Like, “I’m sure I’ll dust more when I don’t have all this child rearing to do.” It’s been 4 days since we left Odd Number in southern Idaho and this now feels like a lie.

But maybe I really will be more thoughtful about birthdays, and clipping the cat’s nails, and not abandoning my blog for months on end. What now? Let’s just wait and see.



Can’t Hurt to Try

The morning started off the way many Saturday mornings have started — my sidekick Lucy and I check in to see how the rest of our day can fit around one of our outings.


When I read Lucy’s text, “Can’t hurt to try it,” I had a moment of self preservation when I thought about how that plucky attitude had led the two of us into temptation and staying in drug-resistant tuberculosis halfway houses, and landing upside down in stinging nettle patches, and hanging on the sides of cliffs hoping not to die, and trying snowbikes for the first time in 0 degree weather in the dark, in street clothes, with a belly full of scotch ale and chili.

But I’m still game, I quickly responded, temporarily putting out of my mind the wake of destruction the two of us have left behind us over the past 15 years. The ride down Fulton Street was brisk, as usual. The ride out the Lemhi was brilliant and green and pastoral. The new mountain bike the Iron Chef gave me for my birthday last weekend rode like a dream. And then we left the pavement, destined for Discovery Hill, just like Lewis and Clark. The trouble is, last night’s rain left our overland route in less than ideal condition. My new bike with its monstrous tires led the way through the way along the bentonite-rich two-track. Bentonite is Greek for “slimy, greasy, shit” and soon the substance had my monstrous tires and each one of my special new bike components completely encased. I tipped over into a medium sized mud puddle. As is our custom, Lucy skipped the part where you ask the other person if she is OK and instead focused on not wetting herself. “I’m OK,” I reported bravely.

Fortunately, we were only able to go about 300 yards, or meters, if you call them that, before the inglorious defeat. We determined to retreat, but by that time the bentonite was legion on our bicycles, making pedaling impossible. I drug my brand new bike through the mud with its back tire seized up like a dog on a leash that very much does not want to go where you want to go. Like to the pound, for instance.


In Podunk, we have a special soil additive called bentonite. Bentonite means greasy, slimy, shit in Greek.

When we got back to pavement, we had several problems. Lucy had ridden her mud-caked bike through loose gravel, for instance.


Crushed gravel topping for Lucy’s mud tires.

This turned out to be bad when Lucy started riding again and sharp pieces of rock flung off her tire and into her face. Smack, ow, smack, ow, smack, mother effing ow.

My brand new bike had the problem of still being seized up with greasy mud, and there was a loose bull on the road that we had to pass. I realize these are podunk issues, not urban issues, but there they are.

So I worked to de-gunk my bike in the creek so I could actually pedal past the bull. This strategy worked. Sadly, my fingers froze into popsicles on the way home so I could not shift properly and more swearing ensued.

Lucy and I arrived at my house, poured ourselves a wee dram of scotch and sat in the hot tub, congratulating ourselves on another day rightly lived.

Return of the Cold Muthas

A few years ago, we started Podunk’s official ladies beginner hockey club — the Cold Muthas. We had big ambitions, like learning to get dressed and maybe even skate. For the most part, after 4 seasons, we have accomplished these lofty goals. A kneepad occasionally ends up strapped on the outside of a sock, helmets are put on before jerseys are pulled over heads, etc, but we’re getting there.

While I greatly admire the 75 billionish women who marched in capitol cities throughout the nation last weekend, I must note that few things are more inspirational than grown women learning to play hockey.

The tender toughness of my teammates grounds me in this world. For instance, with the combination of a seriously badass winter and the fact that our rink is starkly outdoors, the Cold Muthas new tag line has become, “Try not to cry.”


After 4 years, the Cold Muthas have started to have schwag thanks to our teammate Cruella’s artistic beau. OK, and in addition to “Try Not To Cry,” we also prefer to remind ourselves, “What’s Done is Done.” In stores soon!

Yesterday, practicing with possibly only one degree on our side, one of our star offensivewomen, Absolute Zero, was in grave danger of breaking that one small rule as her fingers turned into rake tines in her padded but uninsulated hockey gloves. McMitty, a delicate skater with a series of hip replacements on her resume, quietly came to the rescue. She compassionately attended to Zero’s impending frostbite with her cure-all oven mitt. In the Muthas’ season one, McMitty’s improvisational oven mitt /hockey gloves kept her hands warm. Warmer than anything, in fact. Absolute Zero accepted the kind gesture, persevered with the oven mitt, and went on to significantly contribute to our weekly scrimmage.


McMitty’s improvisational oven mitt/hockey gloves turn out to be hellawarm.

Today, we face challengers from the north in a 2 p.m. sideshow of the Salmon Lady Rapids U19 tournament. Zero managed to pen this elegant prose with her one cold paw still cradled in her armpit:

“Crazy or not, I’m a proud Mutha. I have suckled at the metaphorical teat of the Den Mutha  [author’s note: that’s me, the Den Mutha. And I guess I have a metaphorical teat.] for two winters. Like Ruth, I say, “wither thou goest, I shall go. Thy tournaments shall be my tournaments.”
Pretty sure that’s in the Bible.
At this moment I think of Eisenhower rallying his troops:  “We are about to embark upon a Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months…Our task will not be an easy one. Our enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, and will fight savagely. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!”
Muthas, I feel unfit for the task at hand, but my sense of duty and loyalty surpass my feelings of inadequacy. I would skate with you through the gates of hell wearing a gasoline g-string.

Avatars in Podunk

I’m writing a post as a pre-emptive strike to the inevitable New Year’s Resolution regarding writing more. And although it will seem like this is a sponsored post, still no sponsors.

That being said, my Podunk friends and I have discovered the world of avatars through the wonder of Bitmoji. I don’t believe avatars were invented when I was a little girl, so my fascination with this phenomenon comes a bit late. Which may explain the slightly obsessive nature of my relationship with Bitmoji.

This is an example of my Bitmoji avatar:


The Bitmoji app lets you pick your facial features, body type, and wardrobe. I now spend more time on my avatar’s wardrobe than I do on my own, real-life person dress.


I now have access to fashion designers that were previously unknown in Podunk.

My friends and I amuse ourselves for at least minutes each day sending each other avatar-like text messages. We think we are hilarious.


But some people try to ruin my joy. Odd Number, for example, grabbed my phone and added lines to my face. Others have questioned my avatar’s breast size.

Maybe I’m confused about what an avatar is.


OK, I didn’t actually know that the first thing that should have popped to mind was the incarnation of a Hindu deity, but still, #4 rings true. It’s not supposed to be my driver’s license photo, for Pete’s sake, and I don’t need extra lines on my face.

And I might even dress my avatar inappropriately for New Year’s Eve. I know I need snowboots and long johns. She thinks this is OK.


I like the new me. And she even thought to wear mittens. Happy New Year!

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: