Podunk Meets Paradise

Musings from Central Idaho

Archive for the category “Humor”

While the Cat’s Away…

Odd Number is 17 and a high school senior this year. So when Iron Chef and I both had to travel for work for a week, Odd pretty much had the run of the house. We left him some grocery money, the co-parenting of my Sidekick Lucy, and cat watching duties.

He’s a trustworthy, smart kid, so don’t mock me when I say I was surprised by the mischief he made while we were gone.img_0921

The grocery money didn’t go to groceries, well at least not in my book. If you must know, he blew it all on “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” and “Mrs. Butterworth’s Pancake Syrup.” Both in quotations because they are neither butter nor syrup. Serum, perhaps, but not syrup. Frankenfoods. He bought Frankenfoods the minute we were out of sight.

I was left alone as a teen a time or two, but back then we were blissfully oblivious to the dangers of hydrogenated pseudo-oils. My parents didn’t have to fret about the evil omnipresence of corn syrup. Parents had it easy when the temptations were just cheap beer and wine coolers that tasted like Laffy Taffy. And Laffy Taffy.

When I came home and opened the fridge, Odd had left the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” tub front and center, like he was proud of this accomplishment. When I turned to face him (or rather look up to him now that he’s taller than me), I said in an even tone, “You’d better believe it’s not butter, mister.”

He shrugged and seemed not the least bit contrite. Neither was Mrs. Butterworth contrite, but rather smug with her arms folded calmly in front of her apron, as I gripped her neck.

“It’s so spreadable,” Odd said, and I swear to God Mrs. Butterworth, that temptress of the devil, winked at me.

Maybe Mrs. Butterworth tempted Odd with this promotion.

Maybe Mrs. Butterworth tempted Odd with this promotion.

Don’t Look a Soapy Gift Horse in the Mouth

IMG_0855Apparently, I am now old enough that people can give me hand soap as a gift. Not bubble bath, mind you, not shower gel with corresponding body buff, but full on hand soap.

I remember when we used to give my Grandpa cloth handkerchiefs for Christmas. Not bandanas, but thin white handkerchiefs, sometimes with the initial M on them for Marshall. Hankies and a box of Almond Roca and Grandpa’s dreams had come true. Or so it seemed.

But now that I’ve received hand soap as a gift, I wonder if Grandpa got that first batch of re-usable Kleenexes and he said to himself, “Judas Priest, I must be old. I do believe I just got a snot rag for cotton pickin’ Christmas.”

This is how we used to cuss when I was a little girl.

Oh god. Please pass the Almond Roca.

Unwanted Attention

The weather has been so lovely in Podunk that we left the front door to the office ajar. So, who could blame the well mannered springer spaniel when he sauntered in, made a beeline to me and sat directly on my left foot. As I admired his handsome bandana, I saw the tag that indicated he was a service dog. You say service dog, but I automatically think seeing eye dog, so I get up to see if any blind people are fumbling around in front of the office. Finding none, I go back to my seat and the pooch resumes sitting on my foot.

service dogNow, I like animals well enough, but I’m not one of those people who goes crazy over anything with fur, making ridiculous baby noises and rubbing the animal with vigor. So, this dog’s insistence on leaning against my leg when my perfectly lovely and most likely more friendly co-workers sat just feet away from me. Clearly, the dog knew I needed an eye exam, I supposed, and made a mental note to get a checkup.

Finally, the spaniel’s owner poked her head in the office and spotted “Springer.” His owner Bonnie was not blind, as it turns out, but a feisty, evangelical cowgirl.  Springer’s service specialty, she explained with her raspy smoker’s voice, was to help people die at the hospice house around the corner. Apparently, he has a knack for sensing death. Fantastic!

I jerked my foot away. Shoo, Springer, shoo.

Tidy Cats

For the first time ever, the Podunk family has a cat. Her Royal Highness adopted him as a kitten from the shelter, 2 days before she left for college — a classic HRH move. We assured Iron Chef that the cat, named Hippopotamus, would be an outside cat, protecting the house from vermin. I think it’s possible that Hippie has been outside once, and it seems unlikely that he deterred any vermin on that tentative outing. So now, not only do we have a cat, but we have a litter box inside our home.


The good news is industrial society has made some serious advances in kitty litter. When Hippie does his delicate business in our house, this business activates pleasant smelling kitty litter magic. The bad news is, the kitty litter magic scent smells very similar to my favorite face lotion. This causes internal conflict for me. Well, it did, until I threw my favorite calming face lotion in the trash. Because there is nothing at all soothing about thinking about cat dookie when you are moisturizing your face. Bad kitty.

Some New Ideas for Saving Daylight

time-change-daylight-saving-time-standard-time-vector-illustration-clock-switch-to-summer-return-to-33984121Springing forward into Daylight Savings Time is about as popular as a doctor’s prescription for a regular colonoscopy. We all felt the effects of it today, Monday, as though Monday isn’t fraught with enough of its own perils. The truth is, Daylight Savings Time is a notion well past its prime. Reportedly started as a way to save precious fuel oil during World War I, this top-down approach to hour management is so last century. And we’re all falling for it.

Consider the alternative. In a crowd sourcing, sharing economy, new power kind of world, do we really need the Man telling us all to move our clocks ahead by an hour? What if we could timebank that extra hour as individuals and wait for the appropriate moment to use it? Say, the 4th interminable inning of a T-ball game. Spring forward — game over. Or what if you are riding the middle seat of a fully booked airplane, next to someone with steroid quality B.O?  Spring forward, and eliminate 60 minutes of misery from your life.

This individualistic option would certainly be appropriate for the ceremonial end of Daylight Savings Time, otherwise known as Fall Back. There are some times better than others to turn the clock back an hour, and my guess is this moment does not strike us all at the same time. Late for your own performance evaluation? Fall back, baby, you’re fine. Need an extra hour for your ACT? Not a problem.

Daylight Savings Time and its kin are oppressors. Seize your own Spring Forward and fight the power.

Podunk — Too Complex for Pundits

My hometown of Podunk has been in the news lately. We made two Top 10 lists — one for Idaho’s #2 in the most beautiful, charming small town contest, and one for being Numero Uno in the Most Redneck Town in Idaho race. Frankly, if you know much about Idaho, the latter prize is the more hotly contested.

Which is it, Podunk? you’re all asking me. Hotbed of charm or hillbilly?

Let’s address the first issue. In the delightful and cheery Power of Positive Podunkery, blogger Jennifer Brooks mistakenly assigned Hailey the top spot for beauty and charm. Wrong. Hailey has traffic. Traffic is ugly. Podunk wins.


Frederick Marksman, who writes for the enviously named Roadsnacks.com, provides as a disclaimer that we’re not to freak out, the Redneck analysis is infotainment based on science. But then, you read the comments on the site, and you realize that Rednecks can type comments, but not read disclaimers cautioning against freak outs.

The damning evidence provided in Top Idaho Rednecks, includes a thorough analysis of:

  • Number of bars per city
  • Number of mobile home parks per capita
  • Number of tobacco stores per city
  • Number of places to get fishing gear
  • Number of guns and ammo stores per city
  • Walmarts, Bass Pro Shops, and dollar stores nearby

This is what Marksman was able to come up with for Podunk:

LanternPopulation: 4,608
High school graduation rate: 78%
Bars per capita: 7th in Idaho
Dollar stores per capita: 10th

Now while I am most definitely not freaking out, I am questioning the science. I feel like dollar stores (note that we don’t get any credit for being Walmart shoppers… a hefty percentage of our population has probably not been far enough out of the county to get to a Walmart), drinking establishments and diplomas might make us seem like Anytown USA.

Iron Chef and I spent our honeymoon in San Francisco many, many moons ago. When you’re from Podunk, navigating a big city is like going to a wilderness, but with more dangerous critters. We landed at a watering hole in the North Beach neighborhood, and when the bartender heard we were from Idaho, he asked us if we had a pickup truck.  Duh, we answered. Then he asked us if we had a gun rack in it. Where was he suggesting we would put our guns? The bartender was tickled, and we spent most evenings of that week at that fine establishment, since they so obviously understood us.

I’m curious…how do you know you’re in Podunk?


Forced Family Fun 2016.2

There is no denying that I sullied my reputation as a Forced Family Fun leader last week, when I caused my family to over-extend their skill level and their fun threshhold on cross-country skis. This week, however, I am tasting the mother’s sweet, molten hot fudge of redemption.

Her Royal Highness is on extended college break. I gave her an early and inappropriate birthday present to help her fill her down time in Podunk. The Thug Kitchen‘s Eat Like You Give a F*ck is vegetarian and a tad edgy. I mean plant-based. I think vegetarian is now a political party and plant-based indicates a diet. I think.


When HRH put Mother F*cking Kale on our shopping list, I decided to peruse the book more closely.

“The first rule of Thug Kitchen is: Read the recipe. Second rule of Thug Kitchen? READ THE GODDAMN RECIPE. Be sure you read that shit all the way through before you cook.”

The inappropriate part? We’re not quite sure what to do with a vegetarian, er, a plant-baser, in Podunk.

paella_spreadClearly, Thug Kitchen improved my status with HRH. But there was still one kid with fresh memories of death march on skis.

Odd Number likes a good argument. He’s fortunate to have an English teacher who assigns current events blogging to the kids, and he gets rewarded with extra points for argumentative responses in the comment block. That is pure money for Odd.

So, I was delighted to share a blog post with Odd I had written for High Country News in which I was able to offend animal rightsers, Confederates, the literati, wolf haters, the Unabomber, and lichen — all in 750 words or less. Better yet, one of my gentle readers used the term “homo rapiens” in the comment box. Short of getting Sidney Crosby to autograph a puck for Odd, this constituted some pretty damned good redemption.

We finished the enchanted day with a rousing round of Scrabble. Odd shouted Thug-like profanity when he could not convince Her Royal Highness and I of the validity of the word “Qadi,” while HRH destroyed our dreams with a triple word score for “Curvy.”


All is right with the world.


Forced Family Fun: Episode 2016.1

My sidekick Lucy was out of town for the weekend and Podunk had buckets of snow. So, I strapped on some new skiiing buddies and headed for the hills. As you may know, Lucy and I, along with our friends Zephyr and Piso Mojado, form the elite mountain bike team known only as the “Lost Riders.” We have yet to find any nearby x-country ski competitions worthy of our fantastic skills, but if we did, we would most certainly be the “Lost Skiiers.” Sense of direction is not our strong suit under any climate conditions.

So, when I had the unique opportunity to ski with Iron Chef, Odd Number, and his gal, I knew I had to demonstrate best behavior because all they ever hear about is misadventure. On Saturday, I selected a known, traveled route, rich with signs and comforting blue diamonds affixed to lodgepole pine. The snow was lovely, the skiing barely invigorating, the vehicle obvious at the trailhead. Responsible recreation success!

Sunday, Iron Chef had to attend to his duties as King of Podunk Hockey, so Her Royal Highness stepped in for Forced Family Fun. I found myself recommending a new route, a trail I knew about but had not actually skiied myself. This trail not only had a trailhead, but a carved wooden map, unheard of in these parts, where our trail signing motto is, “If you don’t know where you are, you probably don’t belong here.”


Her Royal Highness is so far not concerned that we have lost the Blue Diamonds.

The skiing rookies were terrific sports as the trail, not a groomed trail but a mashed down by snowshoers and their dogs kind of trail, soon became unfettered powder. Pure, steep-slope, unfettered hip-deep powder. My colleagues remained in good humor as I expressed the benefit of being able to traverse uphill for long periods on one’s backcountry skis. And they mostly believed me as dramatic views of the Podunkian valley emerged.


Before the children lost all hope.

But then, the comforting blue diamonds went away, and my genetic disposition against retreat kicked in. “It’s not a crevasse — it’s an adventure,” I jingoed, pretending that I didn’t hear some of the words coming from my 16-year-old’s mouth.

“I have matches and a headlamp,” I offered, intending to inspire confidence in my party. Alas, the confidence was in short supply, and dejected, I led the group on a quite invigorating descent to the trusty Honda Pilot (see Honda, this could by your sponsored spot).

I believe the children questioned whether our 2 minutes of downhill bliss were worth the 1.5 hours we had plodded through the powder and pines. I missed Lucy, who like me, would simply marvel that we had ever found the vehicle.



I’m Not Sure How to Respond

It’s not earth shaking news that I broke my fabulous fablet and had to buy a new phone. Why wouldn’t you engineer a multi-HUNDRED dollar device to be super fragile, shattering at only the third time someone drops you on your glass face? I switched from my no-name fablet brand to the illustrious, black turtleneck wearing iPhone. Even with its sexy name-brand cachet, I treat my phones like an old school walkie talkie, speaking into them on the infrequent occasion when I feel the need, expecting the person on the other end to be waiting for my words, and ideally, promptly reply.


But then, in a surprise move, Iron Chef gave up his rotary telephone for an iPhone, and in true Cheffy style, proceeded to learn how to use the device. How very annoying. The only thing that I knew about Siri the Talking Phone Robot was that she sprang to life at inopportune moments just because I was holding my finger on a phone button or two. Chef immediately began to treat Siri like a trusted friend, asking for advice and recommendations. A friend of mine in his 60s (whom I call Brian for this blog’s purposes, because his name is Brian, and unlike many of my friends, does not need to hide under the cloak of darkness) demonstrated Siri’s powers to me. “When is the World Series on tonight?” he asked Her Wiseyness, and she answered, in Mountain time, daylight savings or whatever fully taken into consideration.

In the privacy of my own home, I tried asking Siri a few questions whose answers had thus far eluded me.

“Siri, why should we criminalize the construction of a whitewater park?” I spoke my question into the rectangular robot goddess, thinking of the November 3 election and the Proposition One question on the ballot.

“I’m not sure how to respond to your question,” Siri told me, devoid of emotion.

Then, like a polite family friend, she offered some things we could talk about…


I’m not going to lie, I’m creeped out. I mean, I didn’t even know I had a sister. And who is this Nikkei person?

My advice — vote your conscience on November 3rd in Podunk, and Podunk-like places all over the land. Siri is stumped on this one.

Rainy Day Activities For Bored Kids!!! By Daddy Drinks!

So, Daddy Drinks posts even less than Podunk, but in a triumphant return to blogging, this Daddy earns today’s “Things I Wish I Had Written Award.” And Mom, sorry for the profanity. It’s not me, it’s him.

Daddy Drinks

rainy day craft

If you Google, “rainy day activities for kids” you’ll get a ton of suggestions from Pinterest Parents like, “design your own cooperative learning board game!” Or “build your own theater stage and puppets using only up-cycled materials!” Or my favorite, “make your own paper!”

Fuck you Pinterest. I don’t want to make my own paper.

I’m sure there are thousands of wholesome, nurturing ideas out there where your kids can spend an entire rainy afternoon expressing their feelings through leaf and stick art. A small part of me wishes I were a Pinterest Parent who kept drawers of popsicle sticks, egg crates and scraps of whimsical fabric on hand so we could make a “real working miniature windmill farm” when the mood strikes us, but apparently, I’m not that kind of parent. The only time I’m ever going to suggest we “make our own clothes!” is if the outlet mall…

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