A whole to-do about zucchini | October 5, 2022

This is one of the best times of the year, isn’t it?  The leaves are beginning to change, the air is crisp but warm, everything is covered in pumpkins and apples (the two cutest fruit), and I everyone looks great in autumn sunshine.  Sometimes I’ll walk out into this perfection and think, please make this one day last for three weeks.  Like, let it be this exact Monday for three weeks, and then tomorrow it will be that exact Tuesday for another three weeks, and so on until January, when we can have five normal-length days of snow and then roll right into spring.  I’d really like that.

Speaking of fall, North Dakota is thick into harvest.  When we moved to town last year, Kyle brought two parts of the country with him: A spot for Kyle the kids to pee outside (SO GREAT LOVE THIS SO MUCH NEXT I’M GONNA STICK A TOILET IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LIVING ROOM SO EVERYONE CAN GO WHENEVER THEY PLEASE), and a very large garden plot.  Kyle’s garden plot at the new house is almost the same square footage as the one in the country – which was size-appropriate when we had six acres but a little aggressive in town.  That’s okay, though, because I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a point in history when a farmer has looked at their crop and thought, “You know, this is just too much food.”

Kyle spent a couple of weeks in the early spring tilling up the corners of the yard and building garden boxes, and then one solid day planting all sorts of vegetable and fruit seeds in neat rows.  That night, he took me outside to show off his hard work.

“Here are the sunflowers,” he pointed proudly.  “And here are the beets.  And here are the cucumbers.  And here, and here, and over there, and over there are the zucchini.”

“Oh, boy,” I said.  “That’s a lot of zucchini.  How much zucchini did you plant?”

“The whole packet,” he told me.

“Ohhh, boyyy,” I said in that high-octave tone a person uses when their friend tells you they are going to get their face tattooed to look like Frosty the Snowman.  “Remember the last time we planted the whole packet of zucchini?”

The last time we planted a whole packet of zucchini, we ended up with a lot of zucchini.  Here’s the thing about zucchini: it’s not universally beloved.  It’s the broccoli of the squash family.  Actually, it’s the squash of the squash family because most of society can only eat so much squash before it’s like, “Hey, let’s stick this on the front step for decoration.”  Kyle and I had the university president out to the (country) house and forced him to take a trunkful of zucchini home with him and then he announced he was leaving UND a year later, which was not a coincidence.  Even the food pantry couldn’t give it all away.

For the past month, we have been awash in zucchini.  Awash.  Then, this past weekend, Kyle announced that it was time for Kosior Harvest; he was pulling the garden.

“Head’s up,” he said.  “There are quite a few zucchini still out there.”

“How many?”  I asked.

Nine.  There were nine giant zucchini, each roughly the size of three normal-sized ones.  No matter, I told Kyle, I had a plan.  I would turn them all into zucchini bread.  While zucchini is not a fan favorite, everyone loves zucchini bread – especially our children (who won’t eat it if they think it’s zucchini bread but will fight one another for every piece if we say it’s banana bread; so, if you ever come to our house and we serve you banana bread, there’s a 99% chance it’s zucchini bread).  We would be awash in zucchini bread.  Awash.

Except here’s the thing – I don’t do well with long projects.  For example, I am a great taper but a terrible house painter because I will tape the trim on a room and think, “Meh, I’m done.”  I went through a knitting phase where I completed fifty scarves and still have an unfinished blanket – my very first project – shoved in the shame corner of my office closet because I got a couple of feet in and went, “Meh, I’m done.”

On Sunday morning, I woke up and announced to the world that I would spend the day making loaves of zucchini banana bread.  My seven-year-old offered to help, and so we got out all of the stuff necessary to shred zucchini: a cutting board and knife (to cut the zucchini), the Cuisinart (to shred the zucchini), the strainer (to strain some of the water out of the zucchini), and two bowls (one for the straining zucchini, and one for the strained zucchini).

Our process was this: Seven would go out and get one zucchini.  I’d peel it and chop it into Cuisinart-sized chunks, and then Seven would run the shredder.  While I was emptying the Cuisinart into the strainer, Seven would go outside for the next zucchini.  We did this four times before Seven, true to his birthright, said, “Meh, I’m done,” and wandered off to go play.  Ha ha, that scamp, I laughed to myself as I finished off the other five zucchini.  I cleaned up the kitchen, washed all of the equipment, took out the garbage, set out the ingredients and loaf pans for zucchini bread, and thought, “Meh, I’m done.”

I spent the next half-hour Googling, “How long can shredded zucchini last in the fridge” (one week), and “How to use up twenty pounds of shredded zucchini” (zucchini bread) before giving in and making one double batch (four loaves).  While those four loaves were baking, I packaged up all of the rest of the zucchini into ziplock bags and put them in the deep freeze “to use later.”

“You can substitute shredded zucchini for oil in most recipes,” I told Kyle as he hauled out 900 bags of shredded zucchini.

“Oh, boy,” Kyle said.  “Maybe I’ll plant even more next year.”

“Ohhh, boyyy,” I said.

The photo above is of me and my zucchini bread.  I don’t know why I’m smiling like a nutjob; maybe because I had just spent five precious weekend hours dealing with zucchini.

This week’s news has baseball players, tree planters, and axe throwers. Read on.


Ballers in Devils Lake raised money (with a baseball tournament, in case my nickname wasn’t obvious) for families in need of financial assistance. (Devils Lake Journal)

The city of Bismarck, with the help of Boy Scout Troop 6, will be planting 150 trees in celebration of the city’s 150th birthday. (KX Net)

In close-enough-to-North-Dakota Nice news, Native Artist Laura Youngbird has installed a new piece called “Mishipechu” in Breckenridge. (Wahpeton Daily News)

Competitors from 23 states were AXE-ing (get it) to win the first “Far Thro” axe throwing tournament in Fargo. (Valley News Live)

Mandan’s Ty Breuer is headed back to Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo. (KFYR TV)

Grand Forks’ “Way Cooler Than You Think!” website is an international award winner. (Grand Forks Herald)


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The 8th Hole at Lincoln Golf Course | September 27, 2022

In 1776, America got itself a country.  In 1884, America got itself a golf course.  In 1889, America got itself a state named North Dakota; and, in 1909, North Dakota got a golf course all its own.

Tucked into Grand Forks’ historic neighborhoods, Lincoln Golf Course is the oldest continuous course in the state.  Originally an 18-hole course, it went to nine holes (35 par) after the Flood of 1997.  If you’ve golfed Lincoln, you’ll know that it’s a pretty little spot, with gently rolling riverfront and big ol’ trees. 

Even if you haven’t golfed it, if you’ve been ‘round Grand Forks you know Lincoln Golf Course runs right alongside one of the more popular residential streets, named Belmont Road.  Peek through the trees while toodling down Belmont anytime between the first sniff of Spring to the last gasp of Fall, and you’ll be sure to find someone on the fairway of the 8th Hole, which spans nearly the bulk of Lincoln’s property along Belmont.

Now sit back and relax, because I’m going to tell you the tale of Amanda on the 8th Hole of Lincoln Golf Course.

First, though, to make sure we are all on the same page – if you’re standing facing South on Belmont this is what you will see if you turn your head from right to left:

  1. Row of houses
  2. Sidewalk for houses
  3. Two-lane historic residential street
  4. Berm(ish) grassy area of Lincoln Golf Course
  5. Row of trees
  6. 8th Hole

I’m terrible at estimating distance, but my guess is the span from the sidewalks to that berm area is roughly 50 feet.  So, short.  It’s so short that the fine folks at Lincoln Golf Course put up a bunch of subtle signs that say something like, “Don’t follow balls onto private property.”  I don’t know exactly what those signs say as I stress-blocked them out because we all have a pretty good idea as to where this story is going.

It was a beautiful Tuesday evening in August, and I was having a ball of a time golfing Lincoln with three of my girlfriends.  A newbie to the sport, one of said friends had invited me to join her Ladies’ Night team, all made up of women who were getting their course legs under them.  The whole thing was low-key and low-pressure; we complimented and cheered on one another after every swing.  In addition to the mental benefits of two hours’ worth of positive reinforcement, I was wearing a new golf outfit (I love me a good skort) and was feelin’ pretty high and mighty after nearly parring the 7th Hole (only 8,000 strokes over!) as we teed up on the 8th.

I decided to do exactly what I had done on the 7th Hole on the 8th.  I didn’t actually know what I had done on 7, so I looked at the distant pin, adjusted my super-rad skort, and swung confidently in the direction of the fairway.  The ball soared up and down in a perfect arc…a perfect arc that went hard to the right, directly between two trees.

“Great job getting that ball off the ground!”  One of my friends said.

“So far off the ground I left the fairway ha ha,” I said.

I wandered out to the trees.  Across the street, two gentlemen were mowing their lawns.  I gave a smile and a wave in their general direction.  The fella with the push mower threw me back a tip o’ the hat, while the man on the riding mower nodded.

“You got this!”  My friend called.

Since I was in the trees, I decided to overcompensate and hit a little more to the left than I normally would, just to be safe.  I lined up my feet like I was supposed to, adjusted my awesome skort, bent my knees, and swung.  The ball shanked hard to the right – now out on the berm.

“Moving right along!”  My friend yelled.

“RIGHT is the operative word ha ha,” I yelled back.

Across the street, the riding mower stopped.  I looked over and smiled and gave a little shrug as if to say, “Golf, amirite?”  He squinted, and nodded again.

I decided to switch from a wood to a more trusty iron.  A car drove by, rustling the edge of my sweet skort.

“No one you know would be on Belmont right now,” I lied to myself.

I turned fully perpendicular to the fairway – I wouldn’t be gaining any ground, but it would be better to get back to safety on the other side of the trees.  I swung again.  Defying all laws of geometry and physics, the ball went behind me and to the right, landing on the edge of the concrete strip between the grass and Belmont Road.

“You’re still gaining distance!”  My friend shouted, and then, more quietly, “You can take a drop if you want!”

Now both mowers were stopped.  If I had looked across the street, I’m sure I would have seen them texting their insurance agents.

I stood for a moment channeling a few of the greats: Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ty Webb, Happy Gilmore.  I set down the iron, picked up my putter, and wacked that stupid ball as hard as I could.  It landed on the fairway.  I sniffed, threw a wave to the mowers without turning around, and walked back through the trees.  In the end, I technically three-putted that hole.

The photo above is of me and my skort at the edge of the 8th Hole.

This week’s news has a stem cell donor, a kayaker, a Cushman, and Miss Native American North Dakota. Read on.


Michigan (ND)’s Makayla Fleming is donating stem cells to a child in need of lifesaving treatment. (Altru)

Grand Forks’ Madison Eklund was the first person to kayak from Fort Snelling, Minnesota to York Factory, Manitoba, on Hudson Bay. (Grand Forks Herald)

Best of luck to SaNoah LaRocque, who is competing as the first Miss Native American North Dakota! (KX Net)

We have a beautiful new mural in Grand Forks, courtesy of Becca Cruger, Senta Grzadzielewski, and Jamie Sebby. (Valley News Live)

I wrote last week about the Cushman Classic; and here is a story about its humble and hardworking namesake, Cliff Cushman. (Grand Forks Herald)


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Friendship is Magic | September 21, 2022

I had a pretty craptastic week last week.  There wasn’t anything that would be deemed an actual, real problem – I was coming off of a cold, Kyle went out of town for work just as both of our kids decided to have their own minor ordeals, my band didn’t get hired and then my nonconformist friend needed me to go back in time with him to make sure my parents fell in love at the school dance or else I’d cease to exist, etc etc – but combined made it one of those situations where my nightly routine was to get in bed and think, “Blech.”

Fortunately, though, there were a few bright spots (specifically, people) that ultimately got me back on the path to jollyville, and so I’m going to tell you about two (technically three) of them now.

The Cushman Classic is an annual football game between Grand Forks Central High School and Grand Forks Red River High School.  The first Cushman Classic was held in 1997; since then, it’s grown to a communitywide event with bouncy castles, dunk tanks, face painting, and, of course, chips-and-queso (Grand Forks loves queso almost as much as ranch dressing).  If that wasn’t enough fun-ness, this year, a bunch of my eleven-year-old’s friends were playing in their own mini-football game on the field during the half.

By the time gameday rolled around, I was so pooped out by the week’s suck that I only wanted to curl up on the couch in my “Fri-YAY” underpants with a bowl of ranch dressing in one hand and a bowl of queso in the other.  Since Kyle was out of town on his aforementioned work trip, however, it was up to me to feed and care for my children…and also to take my son (and, by lack of a babysitter, his unwilling younger brother) and his buddy to the Cushman Classic as promised.

You know how in Looney Tunes when a character is disheartened they drag themselves, weighted by their melancholy, through the motions while a mournful violin plays in the background?  That was me through the making and cleaning up of an uninspired soup-and-sandwiches supper, through the half-assed brushing of my hair, and through agreeing to absolutely whatever my children wanted so long as they ate eat some portion of their meal (“You want cotton candy at the game?  Sure.  You want a Coke at the game?  Sure.  You want cocaine at the game?  Sure.”).  I was begrudgingly tying my shoes when I heard my son’s friend pull up and his dad have a short conversation with the kids before popping his head in the back door.

“Hey, Amanda,” the dad said.  “Do you want me to take the boys to the game?”

Now, I’m sure he was doing this to be polite after my son probably told him that Kyle was out of town.  Also, I’m sure he had something to do after dropping off his son at my house that didn’t involve high school football.  So, my brain told me to say, “No, thanks, we’ll have a great time.”

Instead, my mouth said, “You know, that would be awesome.”

While my eleven-year-old went to the Cushman Classic with his friend and his friend’s dad and had a whale of a time (someone streaked across the field, so they could have cancelled the game right then and there and it would have been a major success to those boys), my seven-year-old and I got ice cream and popcorn and watched Minions: Rise of Gru (v good) in our jammies and the entire week turned around with the absolute nicest, most necessary-in-the-moment gesture.

Okay, the second story: Kyle and I have been good friends with this (now) married couple for almost as long as we’ve known one another.  They are the type of good friends who stick with you even when you become terrible friends.  For example, we were some of the first of our group to become parents – thereby going from SUPERFUN Kosiors to REALLY BORING WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS WITH THEIR BABY Kosiors.  Because they are good friends, this couple would organize movie dates by selecting the film with the lowest possibility of an audience, and then sitting there with us and our baby in an empty theater watching movies like Cowboys Versus Aliens (which was undeserving of its universal panning, by the way).

In addition to being good friends, this couple is really smart.  Kyle is also really smart, so when the four of us get together at least once during the gathering I will think to myself, “I am the dumbest person here.”  Before you’re like, “Aww, Amanda, you’re smart, too,” listen: we all have our interests and skills.  For Kyle and our friends, it’s historic, scientific, and world-based knowledge.  For me, if there was a Jeopardy series solely about Laura Ingalls Wilder and quotes from the movie Back to the Future THEN I WOULD CLEAN UP, I REALLY WOULD.

Our most common get-together with this couple is to go to lunch, during which we do the “Tidbits” trivia.  “Tidbits” is a free newsletter in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks that is basically everything great about a newsletter – in its own (accurate) words, “[‘Tidbits’ is a] non-controversial, weekly paper dedicated to publishing entertaining morsels for the mind, food for thought as it were: trivia, fun facts, amusing stories and oddities.”

There are two trivia segments in “Tidbits,” one for sports, and one for general trivia, which is usually on the same theme as the week’s newsletter topic itself. One of the reasons why “Tidbits” is so charming is because of its fast-and-loose attention to detail in the trivia.  For example, this past week’s theme was “Four-Letter Words” and one of the questions was, “What’s the largest country in Europe?”  The answer was “Russia,” and Kyle and our two friends spent the rest of the lunch discussing how much of the Russian population was actually IN Europe and what role the Urals played in that population spread.

(In case you were wondering, my guess for that question was, “Asia.”  Obviously, I knew that Asia is neither a country nor in Europe – but it was the only four-letter place I could think of; I’m the dummy of the group, anyways; and, most importantly, the answers in “Tidbits” often require a bit, “Well, whatever”-ing…like how “Russia” being is in Europe and spelled with four letters.)

In addition to enjoying lunch with our friends, I like doing “Tidbits” trivia with them because I can be the information deadweight and still answer like 40% of the questions correctly.  In fact, the writers of “Tidbits” must anticipate dumb-dumbs like me needing a little nudge in the right direction (I guess “Babe Ruth” for every single sports question) because my friend shared this gem from one of the past issues and I haven’t stopped laughing about it:

If the image didn’t show up, the question is this: “How many NFL teams do not have an official mascot? (hint: 5 teams)”

Anyways, those three people (and “Tidbits”) helped right my ship, and this week started off about much, much better than the last.

The photo above was taken at the hospital gala this past weekend.  Last year, I had gotten rid of all of my fancy dresses in the move and had to wear a pink-sequined ice skater number that I had originally purchased as a Halloween costume (I think it’s on my Instagram if you feel like scrolling, which I do not).  For my birthday this year, Kyle got me a real dress so that we could look like a normal couple, and not like a normal Kyle and his pretty-sparkle-unicorn-princess wife.

This week’s news has Family Feud and Chateau Nuts. Read on.


In “These people are living out my childhood/adult dream” news, the Meyhuber Family of Fargo will soon be contestants on “Family Feud.” (KVRR)

Grand Forks County’s Shane Rothenberger – the only drug recognition expert and the first cultural liaison officer for the GFCSO – is the third North Dakotan to be named to the International Association  of Chiefs of Police’s 40 Under 40 list. (Grand Forks Herald)

In “News we all knew was happening but in true North Dakota fashion kept it a secret,” two North Dakotans got married a couple of weeks ago. (Facebook)

Linton Public School, Larimore Elementary School, and Roosevelt Elementary School in Bismarck have all been named Blue Ribbon schools by the U.S. Department of Education. (Valley News Live)

If you are thinking of visiting Medora anytime soon, you should probably check out Chateau Nuts in Medora. (Fargo Forum)


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