Samantha | January 6, 2021

Our children went back to school this week after seventeen days of distance learning followed by Christmas break and, for the first time in a month, it was so quiet that Kyle and I could hear the clock ticking in the living room.  Oh, and we also could hear a scritch-scritch-scritching somewhere in the attic.

“Maybe it’s a ghost,” Kyle said, hopefully.

It was a bird.  I named him George Oscar.

Living in the country, wild animal visitors such as George Oscar are a fairly regular occurrence.  Usually, of course, they stay outside; the smart ones know that if they wander within 100 yards of the house, they will probably be displaced into a shoebox shelter built by my children.  Nowadays, if one of those kids runs up to me with their hands cupped together and says,

“Hold him for a sec, Mom, k?”

I’ll check first to make sure it isn’t something really disgusting reach out and take – and secretly release – whatever it is I’m being offered (usually a frog, which I always name Jeremiah). 

I was neither born nor bred nor adulted with this casual attitude towards the undomesticated animal kingdom.  Growing up, my little sister and I avoided all forms of wildlife like the plague.  Is that a bee?  Adios, Buzzerino.  Oops, there’s a squirrel; bye-bye, Bullwinkle.  This is not to say we stayed indoors all the time; we just managed to tiptoe around Mother Nature while riding our bikes or suntanning in the garden or not going to the zoo.

And if, for some horrible reason, an insect or a spider or a caterpillar managed to wiggle its way into our house?  Well, it was Dixie Cup time.  After a considerable period of shrieking, one of the two of us would go to the bathroom, get a disposable cup, and overturn it on the creepy-crawly.  That way, when our dad got home from work, he could scoop Mr. Centipede into the cup and put him back outside – shaken, but unharmed (all of us).  One year a family of crickets managed to hop their way into our basement, and our dad came home to a sea of Dixie Cups, drinking glasses (we ran out of Dixies), and I’m pretty sure one disposable bowl upended across the carpet.

“But what about when you left home to go to college?” You are probably (not) asking.  Well, I got a grumpy cat named Dakota, who took out her displeasure with the world by eating bugs.  This was very convenient for me, as well as my best friend and college roommate, who was also raised on the Dixie Cup method.

Kyle, my farm-born-and-bred husband, moved in with me shortly after my 25th birthday.  One day Kyle was at law school learning law, and Dakota was at the groomer getting grumpier, and I was at our apartment doing something really important, and a spider, minding his own business, strolled into the living room.  So, I got a Dixie Cup.

Kyle came home twenty minutes later.  He set down his books and leaned against the counter and looked at the cup.

“There’s a spider under there,” I said.

He nodded, and ripped off a square of paper towel.  I was confused.

“What are you doing?”  I asked.

“Getting rid of the spider,” he said, also confused.

“WHAT?  THAT’S SAMANTHA!”  I screeched.

“Who’s Samantha?”  Poor Kyle asked.

“THAT’S SAMANTHA,” I said, pointing to the cup.  “SHE NEEDS TO GO BACK OUTSIDE.”

Kyle stood there for a good sixty seconds before scooping up Samantha and shaking her out on the deck.  She scurried away from her almost-executioner as quickly as possible.

Kyle came back in and sat down on the couch.

“I’m not going to be able to smush a bug for the rest of my life?”  He asked.

“Correct,” I said. 

We got married anyways.

I don’t bother with Dixie Cups anymore because 1) there’s a lot of wildlife out here and if I was going to get worked up about it I would be worked up ALL THE TIME, and 2) it’s easier to just let bugs live their lives in our house until Kyle (and now our boys) find them and rehome them.  My kids like bugs so much that our five-year-old had a bug-themed birthday last year.  A picture of his cake is above.  (Also, I’m well-aware that the Bullwinkle is a moose.)

Speaking of things we all like so much, this week’s news has three babies named Trevor, Yair, and Jalen.  Read on.

Happy birthday to all of the first babies born in North Dakota in 2021 – including Trevor Yager of Minot, Yair Castillo of Fargo, and Jalen Breitbach of Jamestown! (KFYR TV) (KVRR)

The students at Washburn Elementary spread a little joy by caroling across town. (BHG News)

The 91st Missile Security Forces Squadron gathered up and sent 7,000 cards to deployed military personnel. (Minot Daily News)

Dickinson High School has a really robust Career Education track, including a dental assisting program that’s the only one in the country. (Dickinson Press)

The City of West Fargo is sending out $25 gift cards to get money flowing to local businesses. (Fargo Forum)

(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice?  Check out last week’s On Special Days or this story about being a Hockey Mom.)

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