Podunk Meets Paradise

Musings from Central Idaho

Archive for the category “Home Improvement”

Podunk’s Garden Yoda

Now that the Cold Muthas hockey season has come to a close, and I’m in between training rides with my Lost Riders mountain bike team, I’m doing something truly brutal. Gardening. The mental and physical anguish of garden work has always put me over the edge. So this year I’m carefully following the every move of Podunk’s supreme and master gardener, who for the purposes of this blog, I will call Garden Yoda.

Two weeks ago I went to Garden Yoga’s place where she was digging up over-wintered carrots. I went back to my garden to see if I had anything over-wintering there, and I found a rather vigorous uprising of quackgrass.


I asked Garden Yoda to prescribe an ointment to rid myself of the evil weed, fully expecting her organic self to recommend some combination of vinegar and baking soda concoction. I was prepared to do anything.

“Dig it up,” she instructed. Apparently rototillers create a “starfish effect” that exacerbates the situation, and no doubt would leave me with salty ocean soil and probably a lot of starfish arms.

I found some primitive garden tools and started doing as I was told. I know from painful experience that stooping over my garden for long periods of time causes me to walk like Fred Sanford of Sanford & Son, so I plopped myself down in the middle of the dirt to reduce stooping.

59b7359ef1af7b215195e862aeda4242That’s when I discovered that I had also over-wintered a thriving red ant condominium in addition to my over-wintered grassy blanket with rhizomes reaching to the state line.

After wheelbarrow number three full of quackgrass, I had cleared a spot in my garden large enough to grow enough peas that they would fit into one of the small frozen bags in the grocery store. How very satisfying!


And not that I agree with these tactics, but I must say I understand why humans adapted military-grade chemicals meant to inflict pain and suffering on our fellow man to garden applications.

More sessions with Garden Yoda are needed.

Sponsorship — What Not To Do

Podunk is pretty lean on post-Thanksgiving shopping sprees. We are legitimately 150 miles away from the nearest mall, and thanks be to God, the nearest Walmart. Instead, we have Alco, a Texas-based down-home department store that pops up in places like Podunk and Hettinger, North Dakota.
But now I feel like Alco is judging me and my fellow Podunkers. When celebrity chef Paula Deen humpty dumptied her whole foodie empire by going un-cool retro racist, the retail world and her media outlets dropped her like a hot, steamy sweet potato biscuit with honey butter.
The Food Network chopped her right out of the gates. No more Target, Home Depot, Sears, JC Penney, QVC … even Walmart cleared the shelves of her wares.
paula deen
All of a sudden — you guessed it — Alco has designer label nonstick pans on a red tag sale. I’m not sure what’s worse, the fact that Alco thinks my hometown doesn’t care about racism just because we’re all a bunch of whiteys, or that they didn’t really discount Paula Deen’s cookware that steeply.
I skipped the Teflon pans, bought an inspirational Lance Armstrong day planner, and stormed my ass out of there.

Trash Day Dawneth

For the duration of our relationship (not including grade school), the Iron Chef’s employment has required him to travel or otherwise be away from home for weeks at a time. As a result, I’m no MacGyver, but I’m reasonably handy. There are only a few household tasks that I routinely suck at, and they are, in no particular order: electrical repairs of any variety, cleaning the refrigerator, and getting the trash to the curb on trash day.

Today is trash day. I should say Thursday is trash day and our garbage man has been toying with what actually constitutes Thursday. The old garbage man believed in reasonable (but still early) pick-up of 7 or 8 a.m. And I’ll freely admit — I missed it then on a regular occasion when left to my own devices. Our new garbage man is working his way up to blowing past our house at one minute after midnight. I have to hand it to him. In a neighborhood that features wolves, coyotes, raccoons, and my dog the marauding Romeo, who wants to put their trash out to be ravished by wild things before dawn? His route is becoming increasingly speedy.

So knowing the Iron Chef returns today, I set my alarm for early a.m. so I didn’t look like the kind of woman who waits around for her spouse to get home and take out the trash. But it wasn’t my super early alarm that woke me up — it was the grinding sound of the garbage truck stopping at my neighbor’s house. Shit! I jumped out of bed, and knowing I had approximately 15 seconds before the refuse collector sped by my darkened house, I threw on the light switch and attempted an invented version of morse code. Flip-flip-flip (stop right now!), flip-flip (where are my f—ing pants), flip-flip-flip-flip (I only have 1 shoe), flip-flip-flip-flip-flip-flip (that garbage is too stinky to leave at my house!). Ignoring my desperate signaling, he drove by and stopped at my more compliant neighbor’s house about 100 yards up the road.  Now desperate, I didn’t care that I wasn’t wearing pants, or under halters, or shoes, or that I went to bed with wet hair. I ran into the street and waved my arms wildly. His tail lights moved up the hill at a rapid pace.

Unbelievable! I jumped in my car and Starsky and Hutched up the hill. As I pressed on the accelerator, I grew confident I would catch him because he had to give at least the appearance of tapping on his brakes in front of all the other sleeping neighbors’ houses. I wasn’t just doing this for me…vroom…I was doing it for all of us. When he slowed his top-heavy diesel to make the 90-degree turn about a half-mile from my house, I made my move, pulling in front of him and sliding to a diagonal stop. I got out of the vehicle in my scantily clad attire and my one flip-flop and approached the driver. His cigarette ember glowed in the darkness, and his window was halfway down. He really didn’t seem that surprised as I hollered my address and pointed down the hill.

“I was trying to get your attention,” I yelled over the engine.

“It’s hard to see anyone when it’s this dark,” he yelled back.  Touche.

Now that I’m up so early, maybe I’ll tinker with something electrical…

Virtual Labor Day

Our family Labor Day tradition is to go to the highly urbanized mecca of Missoula, watch a little minor league baseball, and then go to the massive and sprawling Farmers Market on Saturday. By Saturday afternoon, we return to Podunk with some kind of produce that requires us to open a home canning sweat shop for the remainder of the long weekend.

This year, however, since the valley of Podunk is choked with wildland fire smoke, I thought we should stay home and add paint fumes to our hazardous air quality. And I would use modern technology to carry out my evil home interior plans.

The world as we know it has changed to the point that you can upload a picture of your (or my) shabby basement and try out new paint colors. After carefully reading the instructions on Valspar’s website, I realized I could also mask out the clutter that might appear in the uploaded photo — allowing me to clean and paint in one sitting.

I uploaded the photo and went to work using my computer mouse to painstakingly “tape” the walls. When I went to select a color from the magnificent palettes, Valspar wanted me to register. No problem, I thought, these geniuses have earned my registration. I was so pleased I even typed in my real information instead of reporting myself as Clotilda JamCracker. But then Valspar wanted me to crack a code before I could submit my real information. The letters were all smashed together and illegible really. Yes, by the third try I had to accept they were extremely illegible. I pressed the button that allowed me to crack the code using audio. I listened closely as the Navajo Windtalker mumbled something. “What was that?” I asked, still hopeful that I could return to the job of adding vibrant color to my pretend walls. I pressed the audio button again and the Windtalker gargled.
Screw Valspar. Your paint is shitty anyway.
Sherwin-Williams wanted my virtual business. Their Color Visualizer wanted me to use many of the techniques that the Valspar mongrels used, and this time I decided I would not mask out the hockey stick or the guitar case. Paint over ’em, what do I care? The registration window popped up. But Sherwin Williams didn’t need me to try to decipher a smashed alphabet. They realized that the Color Visualizer was a tool for good that should be used by all. I gladly offered my blood type, mother’s maiden name, and social security number to Sherwin Williams so I could continue to paint my shabby basement.
What? That email address already has a registration? How is that possible? That’s my email address! OK, calm down, we need to get some paint on these walls — use the backup email, clotildajamcracker@hotmail.com. Impossible! No one else has used that!
Go to hell, Sherwin!
Behr paints is a nice solid brand. Their website featured 3 easy themes: find your color, be inspired, start your project. Now this is what I’m talking about. I see the button that invites me to log in and start My Workbook, but I’m a little spooky for obvious reasons. Maybe I’ll just browse the design library and see how the other half lives. “Trends 2013 — A Portrait of Color” was just what the doctor ordered. Let’s just completely right off 2012 and start working with some futuristic color.
OK, the information is transferring from Behr.com. Still transferring. I thought I might take a quick shower and come back …  Mother effer the spinning circle of doom is keeping me from finding out what the Trends 2013 are!
Then I realized, maybe it’s me, not them. I typed in http://www.speedtest.net and found out that my download and upload speeds qualified me and my link to the outside world for an F when compared nationally and a D- on a global scale. In other words, people in Bangladesh can paint their houses virtually and I can’t.
Then I had a flashback of a conference with a speaker who pointed out that rural America’s lack of broadband amounted to corporate hostage-taking, or something like that (it was a flashback, not a full-on memory), and I hadn’t really signed on until now. Now that I couldn’t simulate painting my basement, I finally understood the injustice of it all.

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