Podunk Meets Paradise

Musings from Central Idaho

Mistaken Identity

The Iron Chef and I recently put another notch in our collective gluttony belts. I have a new job with the U.S. Forest Service, thank you very much, and I was sent to Bend, Oregon for a workshop. I invited the Chef a) because I’m an awesome wife, and b) Bend is the beer playground of the world.  bend-oregon-beer-map-07

We managed to tag on a little weekend beercation, coming home through Hood River. So I’m not saying that visiting 10 breweries in Bend and 2 wineries outside of Hood River impaired my faculties, but something inspired me to jettison my purse at the first brewery we stopped at in Hood River.

For the record, I’m not sorry. The beers we tasted at the Logsdon Barrel House & Taproom were worth exchanging your firstborn for, much less a silly old purse with a net worth of my half empty Curiously Strong Ginger Mints.

When I realized my mistake, the nice people at Logsdon cheerfully agreed to mail my purse to Podunk. Problem solved.

Except that I had offered to take Odd Number to Boise for a hockey tournament. In a previous post, I reported on the City of Trees’ new hipster elitism. I even presented a certain unnamed establishment with the Too Big For Your Britches Jackwagon Award of 2015. I found the 2016 winner.

After watching 2 hockey games, I talked an unlikely fellow hockeymom into going to a nearby wine bar for a little nip.


The hostess asked for our IDs, which caused us both to giggle like school girls.

I explained that in a fever of approval for the Logsdon Barrel House & Taproom, I had recently jettisoned my purse. And then I showed her that I had crow’s feet that could legally vote and drink. The hostess moved back as I moved in. And then she called for the manager.

The manager tried to help me understand that Idaho state law requires me to show ID, and does not allow carbon dating or 90s trivia contests to be used as a substitute, as I was suggesting. And then, he turned me away.

The state of the world, and of the union, is in a fairly F*#@!d up state right now. Meanwhile, as surrounding states have legalized pot, Boise’s hipster elite are valiantly protecting civilization from fair-to-middle aged hockey moms sipping a glass of merlot. Congratulations, society, you’ve been protected.


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.

Police Blotter

From the April 28, 2016 Weekly Disappointment:

“Caller wanted to pass on some information she had heard at the bar. A man and woman were selling unpermitted guns and vacuum cleaners.”


And, of course, this:

“Customer called because she was concerned about a business. The business is closed and no one is there. Her son had an appointment at 2 p.m. for a haircut and then rescheduled it to 3:30 p.m. Caller is not sure everything is OK or if this is normal. The doors to the business are locked and the lights are off.”

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.

Idaho’s Natural Backdrop Wins.

Podunk has been living large! Thank God someone can see fit to actually sit down and write. Thank you, dear Ilona!

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.


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