Little Spouse on the Prairie

Little Spouse On The Prairie: The Burger And The King

14 hours ago
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

As we traveled through the Chunnel from the UK to France, we started talking about food we were leaving behind and the French cuisine we were excited to try. We laughed about the London pubs’ funny names. In the UK, we had eaten at so many restaurants that included the word “and.” For some reason, the English love to name their dining establishments things like “The Rose and the Crown,” “The Hare and the Hound,” “The Horse and Groom,” “The Hand and the Flower,” and  “The Cat and the Fiddle.” There was even a place called “The Bat and the Ball.” 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Our time in the UK was ending.  We had to go to Portsmouth to satisfy my son’s deep desire to see the HMS Victory, the ship commanded by Lord Horatio Nelson in the 1700s.  A few years ago, my son was so obsessed with the British hero that he actually went as Lord Nelson for Halloween.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Driving around England gave us the opportunity to try a lot of unique pubs and dining establishments. I wanted to be sure to eat some local foods. Though England is not known for its gourmet cuisine, I wanted the kids to experience as much of the authentic culture as possible.

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We don’t do it often, but every once in a great while, we decide to take a bigger vacation than our usual road trip in the U.S.  This summer seemed like the perfect time to do this, because my 16-year-old daughter had signed up for an international music tour.  We wanted to spy on her the entire time and make her teen life miserable. No, not really.  But, we did want to attend some of her concerts, and a couple of our own friends were interested in going along. 

I have a significant phobia of flying. My feet like being planted on the flat prairie earth, where they were either intelligently designed or evolved to stay. My husband claims that my fear of flying stems more from my inability to be a backseat driver to the pilot; regardless of the source of the fear, it’s there, it’s real, and it’s intense. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Today, I am going to fill you in a bit more about my jack-of-all-snores, Joel.  Lest you think that the Andy Griffith theme song whistle is the only type of snore Joel exhibits, let me just tell you, he has a repertoire of noises that he emits after hours.  I am going to expand on the intervention I tried with the essential oils and then introduce you to the edge trimmer snore and the Bell X-1 snore.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I’m reaching out to listeners and readers for advice as I share this first of many sketches on today’s topic: my poor husband’s snoring.  This is, “The Andy Griffith Theme Song.”

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

We’ve been talking about garage sale season, and I realized after last week’s show that I had more to discuss regarding these summer staples of the high plains.  I love both ends of the yard sale spectrum.  Nothing beats bringing home other people’s junk, but coming in a close second is getting rid of my own discards and making a little money in the process. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

In the past few years, small towns on the High Plains have been hosting community-wide garage sales. Only in a small town do all the neighbors get together to plan a weekend-long junk fest. I love to grab a friend or two and trek out for day of treasure hunting. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

My teenager will piddle around in the kitchen from time-to-time, although it looks as if she may have inherited my culinary skills. Not too long ago, she made a couple of batches of brownies for an event.  When I asked her why she threw the first batch away, she responded that it had a plastic-y flavor.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Nearly every evening, Joel delivers snacks and drinks to our bed.  He has learned that it’s just easier to do it before I start begging and finding excuses as to why I can’t go myself.  Because I am the queen of waiting him out. 

It wasn’t always this way.  Early in our marriage, there was a possibility that I might actually go back downstairs and pop the corn and bring some hot tea upstairs for the both of us.  And to my credit, I did do that – at least twice.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Spring cleaning often brings a variety of small projects to our yard and home.  Every year, I make a resolution that this spring, I’ll be satisfied with just a little weeding and painting any areas that have weathered during the winter; but every year, that resolution crumbles when I see how much needs done and how very nice things look on Pinterest.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

As the school year draws to a close, my kids are feeling the anticipation.  Indeed, they are almost giddy.  I am too.  Those first joyful nine seconds of having the kids home for three months are some of the best of the year for me. 

One of the many joys of summer is not having to get everyone up, dressed, breakfasted, packed, and out of the house at an absurd hour.  By this time of the school year, we are barely dragging into the building when the bell rings. Our excuses for lateness are as varied as spring weather on the high plains. 

Here are a few:

VALERIE BROWN-KUCHERA

A few weeks ago, I bought a baby grand piano at an auction.  Another one.  I don’t play the piano.  Maybe my kids will.

As a newly converted auction fanatic, Joel was happy to trot along to small towns across our part of the state to attend sales.  We had recently completed our second-story pergola project, and needed some furniture.  This particular auction had several pieces of rattan and wicker that would fill that need nicely. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Last week, I talked about how poor Joel, rather than admit defeat in the face of a broken icemaker, secretly delivered ice from the garage freezer for three years. That takes dedication!  There’s no other trait that Joel displays more than dogged stubbornness, so, while amazing, it’s not surprising that Joel has taken a daily – sometimes twice-daily – sojourn to the garage with an empty bucket and has come back with a full one for three years running.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I do not like kitchen gadgets.  I never owned an electric can-opener; I never got on the salad shooter wagon; I never bought a set of Ginsu knives; and I don’t own, nor do I plan to own, an Instapot.

Our kitchen is small, as in teeny-tiny-barely-enough-counter-space-to-pile-all-the-vital-snacks-cereal-boxes-ketchup-bottles-hot-pads-small.  Where would I put one of those cool stand-mixers? 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Last week I talked about how my teenaged daughter thinks she needs a hedgehog despite the fact that we have a perfectly nice dog.  I thought I had better give a little backstory to how we acquired Juneau, our nine-year-old husky. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

We have a perfectly good dog.  She’s a nine-year-old Siberian husky named Juneau.  Her arrival in our lives coincides with my last weak moment. 

What I love about Juneau is that she is long past the puppy stage.  She has settled into a quiet, late-middle-aged dog who calmly patrols the backyard.  This is a huge improvement upon the digging, ripping-open-trash, nipping, yapping, chewing, tearing-off-her-collar, barfing, jumping, running away, yanking the leash, wetting on the porch stage. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Good morning, listeners on the high plains.  We are still talking about April Fool’s Day pranks this week.  My teacher-friends aren’t the only ones who have pranked me.  Over the years, my own children, dear as they are, have played a few tricks on me in honor of April Fool’s Day. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

This month on Little Spouse on the Prairie, we are sharing funny stories of pranks and tricks in honor of April Fool’s Day.  Continuing with the theme of ornery teachers, I have a story about one whose birthday is actually on April 1st.  I still haven’t forgiven him.  

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I don’t respond well to practical jokes.  Typically, I have a pretty violent response.  My hope is always that, when these pranksters see how startled I am by their shenanigans, they will feel remorse and apologize and cease making me the butt of their jokes. 

However, my friends, coworkers, and family members seem to believe that my outsized reactions are an indication that they should increase the number of pranks they play. What they don’t understand is that they are taking years off my life when they jump out from behind a door and shout, “Boo!” 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

When Joel and I got married several years ago, he had never attended an estate auction.  Weirdly, he wasn’t even interested in digging through other people’s old junk! Like the good wife that I was, I immediately began conversion therapy. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Miscommunication can provide some hilarious moments in marriage. Frequently, Joel and I can have entire conversations, make detailed plans, and agree on solutions to problems, only to realize a few days later that one participant (or at least I thought he was a participant) in the conversation has no recollection of the exchange at all.  And he claims the only time I really tune in to his vocalizations is when he’s snoring. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I spend a lot of time poking fun at my husband Joel.  We have a great time together.  He’s always a good sport.  Don’t assume he doesn’t give as good as he gets, just because he doesn’t talk about his life on the radio every week. 

But the other morning at about 6:00, on about the 379th day of ice and snow this winter, I glanced out of my upstairs window to see how bad the roads were going to be.  I looked down at my car on the street below, clearly visible with our yard light reflecting off the fresh snow. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Speaking of board games, why do 12-year-old boys love Monopoly so much?  After a 30-minute negotiation about whether the kids have to play a board game with their parents, our family then spends another 30 minutes trying to decide which game to play. Invariably, my son Dashiell lobbies for Monotony – I mean Monopoly.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

My world works better if things are in their places.  My anxiety is considerably less if the items in the junk drawer are alphabetized. 

I did not, however, choose to alphabetize our board game storage. Initially, I did alphabetize, but all of the boxes are different sizes, and that method of filing resulted in haphazard, wobbly stacks.  Incidentally, why on earth don’t game companies band together, for the betterment of humanity, and make all game boxes the same size? 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Although I talked about nicknames a few episodes ago, I have an update. Joel’s new nickname for me is Large Curd.  I’m just about as impressed with this one as I was Val Movement from back in grade school.  Let me explain.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

The desk chair in our study is vintage.  It’s one of those old oak banker’s chairs with the vertical slats on the back, a scooped seat, and four casters.  It’s a beautiful piece to look at, made even more attractive by the fact that I paid ten dollars for it an auction.

In the last year or so, what the chair offered in visual appeal, was being overshadowed by how incredibly noisy the chair was.  It popped when I sat down, it squeaked when I leaned back, it groaned when I shifted from side to side, and it let out a very embarrassing noise when I rolled forward on the casters. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

The third project I tackled during my winter break was by far the largest, and one that I knew was going to take at least two full days.  I wanted to organize our DVDs. 

When I told my brother of my plans, he remarked, “You still have DVDs?”  Yes, I know that DVDs are going the way of 8-tracks and VHS tapes.  But we don’t subscribe to cable channels, nor have we joined any of those streaming movie services.  I realize this may be old fashioned and silly, but I can buy DVDs for 50 cents at garage sales, and I like, as listeners probably know by now, physical objects.  Even better, I like physical objects that can be alphabetized. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Remember how we discussed the snowballing strategy for tackling debt and long lists of projects?  Despite my initial difficulty with the first sewing task, presumably the smallest job on this list during winter break, I was determined to make this January one of the most productive ever.

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