Little Spouse on the Prairie

Airs at 8:35 a.m. CST (During Weekend Edition)

Each week, Valerie Brown-Kuchera brings us Little Spouse on the Prairie, the show where she pokes affectionate fun at her husband, her kids, her home and her rural life, even though she loves them all fiercely.

Little Spouse on the Prairie airs at this same time each week. It is a production of High Plains Public Radio. Written and voiced by Valerie Brown-Kuchera, with music by Kelly Werts, and produced by Angie Haflich.

More Little Spouse on the Prairie episodes can be found online at hppr.org.

Want to learn more about the show? Hear her interview with Jenny Inzerillo on High Plains Morning!

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Recently, I began to notice that purveyors of print material and packaging designers have started using much smaller fonts than they used to.  This annoyed me, as any consumer study will clearly show that people don’t like to have to squint to make out instructions, recipes, and article content. 

One evening, as I was trying to read a major national newspaper, I made an offhand comment to Joel about this disturbing trend. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

We’ve been talking about fears the last couple of weeks.  I’ve shared some of the phobias my teenager and my middle-schooler have inherited from their mother, who has more than enough to go around.  I’d be remiss if I left out my littlest child, Clementine.  I would say the jury is still out on her, since she’s only five.  But that wouldn’t be true.  I don’t think she fears a single thing.  

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Last week, I talked about how maternal fears impact offspring, even when those children haven’t been specifically conditioned to be afraid.  It’s almost as if they absorb their mother’s abject terror or ingest it in her breast milk.  It’s funny -- I’m not afraid of this program -- but they seem to be.  I would have no idea where they picked up that fear.  Surely their stepdad doesn’t fear it. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I have many fears - probably more than most people, I’m afraid.  Do I have more than most?  I do, don’t I?  I hope my kids don’t inherit this flaw.  They will.  Won’t they? 

Hey, my anxiety is justified!  Research shows children really do inherit phobias from their mothers. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Last week, High Plains listeners got an analogy about how weight gain is essentially like compound interest – as you add kids, you actually have more surface space upon which to pack the pounds, which grows your bottom line more quickly.

Little Spouse On The Prairie: Compound Dieting

Jun 2, 2018
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

As listeners know, Joel loses weight simply by hearing other people talk about their diets.  I, on the other hand, have to muster all my willpower, work out at least an hour a day, and cut my calories to under 500 per week to see progress.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I’m prefacing today’s sketch, “Fearful Symmetry,” with a couple of disclaimers.  First, I am an incredibly lucky person.  I understand that to be able to poke fun at minor everyday problems is a luxury few people are allowed.  And second, in this episode, names have been changed to protect the asymmetrical. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

You already know that, like me, Joel’s a bit sentimental. He likes to hang on to things.  It’s not just his favorite pair of decades-old shoes, either.  In fact, when we first got married, we had a bit of a quandary.  Let’s just say Joel’s preferences in matters of style were, initially, a bit different than mine.  Luckily, his taste has become incredibly similar to mine throughout our marriage.  In fact, it’s remarkable how quickly it has evolved, although I’ve always tried to be respectful of his man cave. 

I want to build up my collection of valuable items to leave for my children.  Though they won’t inherit millions of dollars, I think my children will be even more appreciative of the meaningful items I have been saving for them.  There are several very special doilies that great-grandmothers have made, along with some heirloom salt and pepper shakers. 

Little Spouse On The Prairie: In Sickness And In Health

Apr 28, 2018
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I saw this meme last week: “During childbirth, a woman’s pain is so intense that she can almost imagine what it’s like when a man has a cold.”  I am very, very lucky.  Joel is rarely if ever, sick, and when he is, he actually retains most of his humanity.

No, Joel is tough when it comes to the common cold or the odd bout of stomach upset.  It’s when there’s an injury involved that he tends to overreact. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I think I’m losing my romantic touch. The other evening I was attempting to flirt with Joel, and I said, “Hey baby, can you do that thing I love so much?” 

He looked up from his newspaper and replied, “The dishes or the laundry?”

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Welcome to Little Spouse on the Prairie.  Last week, we donated one dollar to HPPR for every new follower on the Facebook and Twitter pages. We’ve extended the promotion because I still haven’t searched the cushions on the basement furniture for loose change.  I’m very externally motivated when it comes to keeping house.  So, if you didn’t follow last week, be sure to go to one or both of those social media sites and pick it up this week so I can get started on the basement.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Joel’s a saver to the point that he will continue to wear shoes until they are not much more than a few strips of worn leather clinging to a sole.  I’m as budget-conscious as the next person, but when the bottoms of Joel’s work shoes are slicker than snot on a doorknob, as a friend of mine used to say, the hospital bills when he falls off a roof he’s shingling outweigh the cost of a new pair of shoes.  Besides, I’m not a fan of seeing his big hairy hammer-toes any more than I have to.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I don’t like to cook.  I’m so glad there are people in the world that view cooking as an art because I do love to eat.  My husband, given the opportunity, would enjoy experimenting in the kitchen.  Joel loves to peruse cookbooks and magazines, and about every few months, he grandly announces that he’s going to start making one new recipe per week.  Not only that, he says going to eat healthier.  I guess along with the butter and syrup, he’s going to start putting fruit on his pancakes.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I live among thieves.  My teenaged daughter, despite regularly commenting on the utter hopelessness of my “old lady” wardrobe, sneaks into my dressing room and pilfers mascara, face cream, and hair accessories. Don’t even get me started on the criminal behavior that she exhibits now that she wears my shoe size.

My middle school son isn’t quite as bad, only occasionally giving in to his baser instincts to filch a few choice pieces of his little sister’s candy hoard. At least he has the decency to show remorse when caught in the act.

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I never camped out as a kid.  My parents weren’t campers.  We didn’t even own a tent.  At the time, I felt righteously indignant.  What kind of childhood doesn’t include sleeping in a tent at the lake?  I swore, when I grew up and had kids of my own, I would never, ever, ever, put them through the human rights violation of NOT camping. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

To be honest, I may put on a show of indignation about my husband’s old-fashioned ways, but secretly, I am glad that Joel feels it is a “man’s job” to gas up the car, change the oil, and complete basic maintenance on our vehicles in preparation for family vacations.

Other men swear they will never drive a minivan.  Other men, as they add children to their lives, progress from a tough, extended-cab truck on to a four-wheel-drive SUV before succumbing to the humiliation of the dreaded van.   Other men, especially out here on the plains, where men are men and trucks are trucks, sure as hell don’t need some foreign-made vehicle parked in the garage.  Not my Joel.  Joel has harbored an unfulfilled longing for a minivan since he was in his early twenties. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I like buying gifts and planning parties.  Themes are good.  A person can’t get too themey.  For my daughter’s Nancy Drew-themed party, we (and by “we” I mean “I”) made a cake shaped like a giant magnifying glass and hid clues in miniature envelopes throughout the house.  We (and by “we” I mean “I”) used invisible ink to write some clues.  Others were in code or mirror writing.  Yes, we (and by “we” I mean I) are the Da Vinci of theme parties.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

We have trouble with pronouns in our house.  Oh, we are past the pronoun – verb agreement issues that plagued our early courtship.  Once I explained to Joel that I couldn’t, in good conscience, allow him to continue to say, “He don’t,” and “we was,” he eagerly eradicated those problems.  It’s only when he’s engaged in a particularly virulent argument that he regresses.

No, the pronoun issues we have now, relate to antecedents.  For example, Joel will walk in after teaching in another town all day long and say, “I was talking to him today and he said he is going to that deal.” 

Courtesy

Several years ago, my husband went through a beef jerky stage.  Actually, it was more of a preserved meat stage, because he didn’t just eat beef, and he didn’t just eat jerky.   We had beef sticks, horseradish salami, summer sausage, pepperoni, turkey bites, steak strips, garlic infused pemmican, hot and spicy links, Slim Jims, barbecued bacon chunks, jalapeno pickled sausages, chili-mango pork nuggets.  Open our snack cupboard and you’d see the equivalent of Bubba Gump’s shrimp products in dried flesh in there.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I am an eternal pessimist.  I think that if you start every day expecting the worst, you may be pleasantly surprised a small, and I mean minuscule percentage of the time.  Joel and I are proof that opposites attract because he believes in the inherent goodness and beauty of all humanity.  I believe Murphy’s law is a pipe dream.

Whereas I create worst-case scenarios, Joel smiles and says, “What could possibly go wrong?” 

Public Domain

Joel has a habit of leaving items on the top of the car and driving off.  Most of the time, it has been full cups of Dr. Pepper, but once we had to chase down a stack of mail that contained his paycheck, and another time Joel had to weave through Wichita traffic to retrieve some important registration numbers for the state track team he was coaching.  He even left Clementine’s car seat on the roof once!  Don’t worry, listeners, she wasn’t in it, but it looked bad, really, really bad. 

Little Spouse On The Prairie: Honey Where Are My Keys?

Jan 13, 2018
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

The funny stories on the rural plains just keep happening. Joel has started claiming that when he does something funny, he’s only being helpful by providing material!  Today’s sketch is called, “Honey, Where are My Keys?” 

I drive a little hybrid for work. As High Plains listeners know, when you live out here, you put in a lot of miles just in daily life. I maintain that we may have to travel more miles, but we take about the same amount of time to get where we’re going as city folk do.  And, we also experience less traffic stress and more pink sunrises while doing it. Nevertheless, I don’t like spending money on gas, and I do like to give the misleading impression that I am living green, even though I live in a gigantic house and my family of five throws away more trash than most families with twice that many members. 

Little Spouse On The Prairie: More Snores

Jan 6, 2018
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

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. 

I saw a coffee cup the other day that said, “If a man says he will fix it, he will.  There’s no need to remind him every six months.”  I had to laugh.   Let me interject here that my husband Joel is the hardest working person I’ve ever met.  The man can’t sit still (mainly because if he does, he falls asleep instantly).  But we do have an understanding about the steps in the project process.  For the sake of example, I’m going to use our recent pergola addition to describe this process.

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. 

Little Spouse On The Prairie: The Man Diet And Speed Shopping

Dec 2, 2017
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

The Man Diet

Last week, I introduced you to Joel, my much older husband.  This week’s show is two-fold -  “The Man Diet” followed by “Speed Shopping.”

Eight weeks ago, my husband gave up Dr. Pepper. Not entirely, mind you. He simply dropped his intake from unlimited (between eight and 10 per day) to two 12-ounce drinks a day.  I’m happy for him, because this reduction allowed him to lose 30 pounds in those two months.  Yes, I said 30 pounds.  In. Eight. Weeks.

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