North Dakota Nice News of the Week | November 5, 2020

Our five-year-old son lives a life of deeply passionate enthusiasm.  If he puts his mind to a topic – weather systems, trains, the human body, cookie cutters – he parcels out three-quarters of his brain so that he can fully evaluate and absorb every single aspect of said thing available in the known universe.  I should note that the other quarter of his brain is saved for chicken nuggets, which he recently announced he “is falling in love with,” because he’s only eaten about nine million of them in the last two years.

Five recently started Kindergarten.  He has the best teacher (both of our boys do; I have an out-of-state friend who just moved her family to get into a better school district, and it reminded me how lucky we are to live in a place where every school is filled with excellent teachers and principals) and she recently opened the door to his new favorite subject: Words.

Five has always had an unusual relationship with words.  As a baby, he would babble and bubble away for long stretches, genuflecting with his arms to further his point.  We took to responding to him – “Oh, really?  Tell me more!” – whenever he would take a breath, because while he wasn’t saying anything found in the English language, he was clearly saying SOMETHING.  This went on for so long that I started casually asking friends for a recommendation for a speech pathologist…and then one day, that kid opened his mouth and a fully-developed sentence came out: “The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.”  Just kidding, it was something like, “I have a cookie?”  He got the cookie.

Five’s recent fascination with words started when his class began to learn about rhyming.  From morning to night for days on end, Five walked around the house, pointing to objects and saying, “Cushion, bushion.  Book, flook.”  I’d say, “What about ‘Book, cook?”  And he’d pat my hand and say, “No, Mom, FLOOK.”

At one point I found him sitting on the steps, lost in thought.  “Dad is a really good rhymer,” he told me.  “Dad?  I’m sure he is,” I said, wracking my brain for a time when I’d heard my husband rhyme.  “Yep,” Five said.  “Dad, bad, pad, mad, had, sad.  Lots of words rhyme with Dad.”

From there, of course, came spelling.  “I-T spells ‘It,’” he’d say.  “What does ‘C-R-K-Q-A” spell?”  A couple of weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a little face pressed to mine.  “Mom,” he whispered through the darkness, “How do you spell ‘Carpathia?’” (Note: His other interest at the moment is the White Star Line’s Titanic-related fleet, because sure.)

After that, he moved on to connecting those words into jokes.  Or “jokes,” as our nine-year-old points out as only a brother can because, like his baby babbling, it’s humor that only Five truly understands.  Like this: “What did the hurricane say to the tornado?  You’re made of dirt!  GET IT?  Made of dirt??”  And then he’ll fall on the floor laughing hysterically.

Now he’s into putting those words on paper.  The linear structure of word formation clearly doesn’t fit Five’s style, and so we have pages upon pages of stories written one letter at time, with each letter placed exactly where Five wants it to go on the paper.  An example of this is shown above – it’s a story of a happy pumpkin.

In other news, Monday was North Dakota’s 131st birthday!  To celebrate, check out this week’s news – about a newfangled engine, “The Superbowl of Field Reports,” and a ND Nice Facebook exchange about a dog named Rufus.  Read on.


I was so excited to read this article, because I remember reading years ago about West Fargo’s Ernie Brookins and his quest to create a perpetual motion machine that needs only a drop of gas to work.  Now he’s on the home stretch to a patent, and is already working with a number of companies to get it implemented. (Fargo Forum)

This article on the Dickinson Museum Center’s live stream of their annual dinosaur field report had me at “It’s the Superbowl IV of paleontology field reports.” (Dickinson Press)

Ward County Deputy Keith Miller and Minot Senior Officer Aaron Moss were honored with a “Love Without Fear” award from the Domestic Violence Crisis Center for their compassion towards victims of domestic abuse. (KFYR TV)

If you like making snowflakes, the Baptist Health Care Center is looking for papercuts to cover their windows this winter. (KX Net)

Happy 110th birthday to Grafton’s Clarabell Demers! (Grand Forks Herald)

Dickinson’s Tori Zettel, age 9, was so inspired by the Great Pumpkin Hunt that she wants to start her own newspaper. (Dickinson Press)

A Bismarck girl scout troop put together “Boo Bags” for twenty children who were unable to trick-or-treat. (KFYR TV)

Starting in grade school, Washburn’s Peter Olson has turned his lifelong love of fishing into a career – including a YouTube series, which you can watch at Missouri Secrets. (Minot Daily News)

In this article about 20-year election volunteer Aanders Jackson, he quotes the County Auditor in saying that North Dakota is one of the best-run election spots in the county.  Based on my own easy and friendly voting experience, I’d agree. (KX Net)

If you need a little love today, one of the lovely ND Nice readers sent me a screenshot of this very perfect conversation about Rufus the Dog:

(Like the story above?  Check out last week’s tale of a pair of socks.)

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