Sunshine and May | May 4, 2022

As I type this, THE SUN IS SHINING.  We’ve had roughly 100000000 grey days in a row this spring and I tell you what, it starts to wear on a person – like a hat with bells which seemed like a whimsical idea in the store but turns out is the equivalent of self-induced tinnitus.  I like rainy days and cozy darkness just like all women on Instagram, but I was one more set of clouds away from getting a Vitamin D lightbulb to sit under it while I shopped for a plane ticket to Yuma, Arizona – the sunniest place on Earth.  These big, beautiful blue skies have completely cleansed my soul, like the feeling you get when you throw out a hat with bells on it.

You’d think I wouldn’t need as much sun as the average person because I am in the top 5% of the whitest humans in existence.  “Oh haha, Amanda, you’re such an exaggerator,” you may be thinking.  Well, once in college I was wearing shorts and went to put on some suntan lotion on my legs and my friend burst out laughing and said, “I thought you were wearing socks.”  Like white knee-high sport socks, because my legs were roughly the same color.  Believe it or not, it takes a baseline amount of sun to keep me this color; without it, I’d go translucent.

This stretch of clouds has made me wonder how folks in Seattle can stand it (probably because they have Bigfoot and it’s a worthwhile trade-off) because around the fifteenth straight day of grey my brain started to go to sleep.  I know this was the same for many of my fellow North Dakotans because it snowed several times and exactly zero people mentioned it.  North Dakotans love talking about the weather because we have so much of it.  May is historically an especially atmospheric smorgasbord; in 2021, it was 86 degrees on May 1.  In 2022, it was 36.  We had a dusting of snow yesterday and not one of my coworkers said ANYTHING – not, “Time to move to Florida!” or “It’s May, for Pete’s sake!”  My desk neighbor just looked out the window, sighed, and went back to her enormous mug of coffee; and if that’s not a sign of seasonal depression, I don’t know what is.

Anyways, it’s sunny and that same coworker got a chance to comment about the glare on her computer screen this morning so all is well.  With my brain reawakened, I have come to realize two things: 1) I’ve been wearing yoga pants to work for the last three weeks which is both great and…not…great; and 2) holy crap, it’s May.  To quote the entire Midwest’s favorite meme, “Ope, this month just sneaked up on me.”  If I’m being totally honest, 2021 and 2022 really sneaked up on me – I’ve had a half-written birthday gift thank-you note to my best friend sitting on my desk since February 2020 – but those years happened in spite of my lack of participation, and May is NOW.

Since I’m making lists, May means three things: 1) Grand Forks hosts a citywide garbage cleanup; 2) my husband and youngest son both celebrate birthdays; and 3) school is coming to an end.

The citywide cleanup – the City gives everyone a day to clean out their basements and garages and stick their found bric-a-brac on the curb for pickup – is a big problem for me because my husband and kids love crap.  Normally, on April 30th, I will sit them down and definitively state to NOT TO BRING HOME ANY CURBSIDE GARBAGE.  Then, when they inevitably do BRING HOME CURBSIDE GARBAGE, I have a well-crafted speech prepared which makes them return said garbage to its appropriate resting place.  Well, I didn’t do that, and in the last 24 hours Kyle procured a torn hockey net (which he’s “going to fix up for the neighbor’s kid”) and my ten-year-old dragged home a torn and wet gaming chair for a gaming system/desk that he doesn’t own.  And now, because I didn’t say anything, I’m either going to have two sad hockey net/gaming chair owners or a non-junk-filled house, but not both.

As I said, my soon-to-be-seven-year-old will soon be seven and my husband’s birthday is Cinco de Mayo (which we call Cinco de Kyle).  In anticipation of this 31-day party, I spend the bulk of April asking, “Do you want a bug party or a Spider Man party?” and “If I knitted you a hat with a bell as your gift, would we remain married?”  Since I’m behind on my schedule, I’ll have to buy Kyle a normal tortilla chip hat and Almost-Seven is going to have to be happy with fake bugs instead of real (kidding, that was never an option).

Finally, and speaking of schedule, school ends on the third of June.  In celebration, my sons’ school has started a month-long countdown of “Spirit Days” to give Kyle a chance to run around the house looking for a chartreuse shirt or a tortilla chip hat at 8:04 am.  I’d help him, but I’m usually standing in the corner shouting, “What time is baseball practice, and does that coincide with the first Wild-Hurricanes game, and why is that half-broken bench sitting in the garage?”

But the most important thing is that the sun is shining.  Garbage chairs and hockey nets can still go back on the curb (or not), and birthday parties can have fake bugs (or no bugs at all); and so long as my brain, and legs, get their Vitamin D, all will be well.

The photo above is of Kyle with a DIFFERENT garbage net that he saved from the curb.  I’m pretty sure I’ve shown this photo on here before; and I’ll keep sharing it because HE WON’T STOP BRINGING HOME THESE NETS.

In terms of a good use of the word “garbage,” this week’s news has garbage bag sleeping mats, free hotel rooms, and duffel bags.  Read on.


For the past five years, volunteers at Trinity Lutheran Church have woven mats out of trash bags, 2,000 at a time. (KX Net)

Williston businesses got together to gift Microtel rooms – more than 80 nights’ worth of stays – to community members who were still without power due the blizzard. (KFYR TV)

In North Dakota-adjacent news, Minnesota’s Ryan Huso and Kyle Rohlfs – two strangers who met on the side of the road – saved Fargo’s Shannon Aughinbaugh after her car flipped over into a water-filled ditch. (Fargo Forum)

The Roosevelt Park Zoo now has three Amur tigers named Viktoria, Dmitri, and Luka. (Minot Daily News)

Congratulations to Team North Dakota, who took home the championship (for the second year in a row) at the CCM High School National Invitational Tournament! (Twitter)

May is National Foster Care Awareness month, and so Grand Forks teacher Ms. Abel is raising money to fill duffel bags so that kids don’t need to enter foster care with trash bags holding few to no belongings.  Kyle and I bought three duffel bags, and I’m telling you so that you’re impressed by us and so you will also donate, if you can.  The Amazon wishlist for these items can be found here. (Amazon)


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