Giant Boulder | July 20, 2022

I received a bike for my 12th birthday.  My 12th birthday was important in that it was PRE-teen, meaning that I only had 365 days left to cast aside any youthful nonsense so as to stride confidently into teenagerhood.  My super rad childish bike had a banana seat, basket, and pegs on the wheels, none of which would do for a nearly-thirteen-year-old.  My birthday bike, on the other hand, had a tiny seat, multiple gears, and a water bottle holder for all of the waterbottling I was sure to do in junior high.  It was a Giant (make) Boulder (model), named as such because it was meant to deftly glide over enormous mountains (unrelated, I also assume Fred Flintstone’s car was a Giant Boulder).  It was teal, as that was the only legal color in 1992.  It was tall, sleek, streamer-free, and very grown-up.

It was so grown-up, in fact, that I rode that 1992 teal Giant Boulder directly into adulthood.  And by “adulthood,” I mean right now this second, as it is still currently my bike.

Based on the amount of teasing I’ve received about my 1992 teal Giant Boulder bike you would assume that I had actually invented the bicycle and was riding around on one of those really early numbers with the oversized wheel in the front and a French clown hanging off the back.  But no.

Every Mother’s Day, my husband totes my 1992 teal Giant Boulder bike over to a bicycle shop for a tune-up.  And every year the bicycle shop employee tells him, “That’s a really old bike.”  While I assume most bicycle shop employees can identify the make, model, and vintage of any two-wheeled vehicle based on the length of its center post or whatever, it doesn’t take a technical expert to know my bike is old.  It looks old.  Both of the brake levers (presser-inners?) are cracked.  The seat is missing its gel pads.*  The shape looks nothing like the ergonomic masterpieces of today.  Also, it’s teal.


First off, there’s nothing actually the matter with my Giant Boulder.  There’s never been anything the matter with it.  It’s never thrown the chain.  It’s never slipped a gear.  When I push on the pedals, it moves.  When I press the brake levers, it stops.  It clicks when it’s supposed to click, and doesn’t squeak when it’s not supposed to squeak.  I see no reason to get a new bike when I have a perfectly functional 30(0,000,000)-year-old bike sitting in the garage.

Especially since:

Second, and possibly more importantly, it only has about 400 total miles on it.  Wait, did I say 400?  I mean 40.  While most people use their bikes for health and wellness and triathlons and family time, my Giant Boulder is really only used to get me to and from food.  Usually, it’s ice cream; although last weekend I rode it down to the Farmer’s Market and bought a crepe (my husband and kids were also with me and we did other things, too, but that crepe was pretty good).  Additionally, we live near a coffee-and-beer shop so sometimes we bike over there “for the exercise.”

And yet, I’m drawn to those fancy beach bikes that have become all the rage.  The other day I saw one with a banana seat, basket, and pegs in the spokes of the wheels and I thought, “Man, I’d look super rad on that thing.”  It was sparkly sea glass blue – which may sound like teal, but is totally different.

But then I remembered that everything else that I owned in 1992 is in style, and so I assume my Giant Boulder will soon once again be on the cutting edge of cool.  Martha Stewart has already told me that teal is the new sea glass.

Plus, if I ever enter a triathlon, I’ll need a place to put my water bottle.

*Obviously, the photo above is of my Giant Boulder (and also my bike, wocka wocka).  Kyle reminded me that this is my second bike seat.  My first one was so skinny that I was worried I would one day go over a bump and the seat would never be seen again, so Kyle replaced it with one large enough for a grizzly bear to sit upon.  That one has finally worn out and has become loose (the bike is rejecting it).  I’m thinking I may upgrade it to an actual chair bolted to the frame.

This week’s news has four baseball players and a Dot.  Read on.

Belcourt’s Braedan Grant, Evan Grant, and Louis Monette, as well as Dunseith’s Corben House, were selected to play in the first Native American All-Star Baseball Showcase in Atlanta. (KFYR TV)

Bismarck’s Isaac Anderson was one of 88 high school students selected to be a part of the John Philip Sousa National High School Honor Band – and, no big deal, he was named the principal alto saxophonist of the band. (KFYR TV)

Jamestown’s Shirley Meidinger posthumously donated $200,000 to the Alfred Dickey Public Library. (Jamestown Sun)

Congratulations to Hebron’s Maci Wehri – recently crowned Miss Agriculture USA! (Dickinson Press)

Dorothy – although if you live in North Dakota, you know her as Dot – Henke sat down with the Minot business community to give some advice to new entrepreneurs. (Fargo Forum)

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Potlucking | July 13, 2022

A lovely reader named Barbara (thanks, Barbara!) messaged me last week inquiring as to my go-to potluck dish, and I’m very glad she did because there are few social gatherings I love more than a potluck.  Actually, I can’t think of anything I like more than a potluck so let’s put that at #1.  The perfect potluck would be outside on a warm and sunny (and mosquito/wasp-free) summer day, with a stack of picnic tables set out under a grove of trees (and all of the benches would have backs and the seats would be padded – you know what, let’s just say a bunch of groupings of first-class airplane seats).  Also, there would be Igloo coolers full of that McDonalds orange drink that they used to serve at soccer games and the whole thing would end with a scheduled nap.

To answer the question, my go-to potluck dish is a fruit salad.  This is not my favorite potluck food, but you never have to take home fruit salad at the end of a potluck because everyone has eaten it.  Potlucks are a low-key competition to see who can bring the best stuff.  You know you won if someone comes over to what was once your dish of mint chocolate chip cookie bars and says, “Are those gone already?  Dang, they were good.”  You accept your award by replying, “Oh, I just tossed those together.  They are so easy.”

When we were visiting Michigan, one of the neighbors mentioned that she was going to a potluck hosted by a dentist, and I said that she should bring a big bowl of miniature toothpaste tubes and say that four of her other dentist friends recommended it.  Not only did that joke not really land, I was sorry for even mentioning it because there’s nothing funny about being the person at the end packing up a big bowl of uneaten tuna Jello salad (or toothpaste salad) that’s been sitting out on a countertop for three hours.

I don’t think it’s any big secret that North Dakotans play fast and loose with the definition of salad; while the Oxford Dictionary defines “salad” as “A cold dish of various mixtures of raw or cooked vegetables, usually seasoned with oil, vinegar, or other dressing and sometimes accompanied by meat, fish, or other ingredients,” Midwesterners define it as “Anything in a bowl.”  Or, if you don’t want to use a bowl, “Anything.”

I once potlucked with another woman who also brought a fruit salad, except that mine had strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, mandarin oranges, and grapes, and hers had watermelon balls and a spoon.  And you know what?  Her salad was eaten first.  That sucked.

My favorite potluck dish is Italian pasta salad.  It has my two favorite food groups: carbohydrates and dressing.  I don’t potluck pasta salad, though, because I can’t make a pasta salad to save my life.  It doesn’t make any sense.  I know how to cook spiral noodles.  I know how to cut up vegetables and open a can of kidney beans.  I know how to pour Italian dressing.  Yet, somehow the way I do it combines into something completely bland and disappointing.

I was complaining to one of my friends about my inability to make pasta salad and she said, “I have my great-great-great-grandmother’s pasta salad recipe; it was the only thing she saved from her village before fleeing on a weather-beaten log to North Dakota.  She landed on the shores of the Red River penniless with only that recipe and her wits about her, and made her fortune selling pasta salad on the streets.  I’ll give you that recipe; there’s no way it can fail.”

I tell you what, I followed that pasta salad to the river-stained letter.  Then I took that pasta salad to a potluck where, lo and behold, my friend was also there with her own bowl of pasta salad – which, of course, tasted far superior to mine.

“Oh, I didn’t realize you were making the salad for this potluck,” she said.  If there are any True Crime podcasts out there looking for a topic you should tell that frickin’ pasta salad story because both of our abilities’ to trust were murdered that night.

Here are some of my other favorite potluck foods:

  • Oreo cookie salad
  • Those little ham sandwiches made with butter
  • Sweet and sour meatballs
  • Anything in bar form
  • Anything in dip form
  • Anything

Of course, not everyone can serve up potluck salads.  First of all, someone needs to bring like fifty bags of potato chips or else the potluck is declared invalid.  Second, unless you plan on scooping everything into your rolled-up t-shirt like a trough, at least three people need to bring plates, silverware, and napkins.  All of those could be accomplished by one person, of course, but that would defeat the purpose of the ‘luck.

You know you’ve really won potlucking when people ask you to bring a dish you are specifically known for making.  One of my friends makes a spinach dip that is so good that I’m thinking about inviting her for a one-person potluck.  I’ll bring the fruit salad.

I don’t have any photos of myself at a potluck because I’m clearly stuffing my face, so instead the photo above is of clouds because if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I recently became very deep.

This week’s news has a mom looking for a helpful passenger, as well as balloons and power-full women.  Read on.

A mom of three is looking to track down a Fargo “girl named Ashlyn (Ashlan?)” who helped her family through a long flight. (Facebook)

Grand Forks’ Misti Kauffman has been selected to join a team of international balloon professionals to build a 300,000-balloon wonderland for the non-profit resort designed for children with critical illnesses, “Gives Kids the World Village.” (Grand Forks Herald)

Mantador’s Gary Puetz, along with his brothers Douglas Puetz and Bill Puetz, received Quilts of Valor for their service to our country. (Wahpeton Daily News)

After Dickinson’s food pantry put out a call on Facebook asking for donations due to understocked shelves, the community responded with 1,000 pounds of food within a day. (Dickinson Press)

The Power of 100 Women’s Dickinson chapter is donating $20,000 – a $400,000 milestone made possible by 250 members over six years – to the Domestic Violence Rape Crisis Center and the Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center. (Dickinson Press)

Last year the Fargo YMCA served 115,000 free lunch meals to kids over the summer months, and are expected to serve the same number again. (Fargo Forum)

The definition of the sweetest kid: Valley City’s Wade Sornsen is selling lemonade to help his mom pay for his stitches. (Valley City Times-Record)

Dickinson’s Ellisyn Ahmann is the top Girl Scout cookie salesperson in both North Dakota AND South Dakota. (Dickinson Press)

North Dakota’s Michelle Duppong is a candidate to becoming America’s 12th saint. (Grand Forks Herald)

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A journey of 974 miles begins with getting out of the house | July 6, 2022

The boys and I are on our way back from our third annual Fourth of July road trip to Michigan to visit Kyle’s cousins.  We break the fifteen-hour drive into two days in order to test the strength of our marriage because it’s important to me that we stay overnight in Madison, Wisconsin – approximately eight hours from Grand Forks – so that I can spend the remaining seven hours of the second day’s drive telling the boys how much I love Madison, Wisconsin (note: I love Madison, Wisconsin).  This leisurely approach to travel means that our departure time from Grand Forks is more of a suggestion than a necessity, as leaving at 10:00 am versus noon just translates to the kids swimming a bit less in the hotel pool in hip, cool, cheese-filled Madison, Wisconsin.

Of all of the myriad of life lessons I’ve gleaned from my mother, the most impactful is this: When Mom is ready to go, we go.  As a child, it didn’t matter if my sister and I were half-dressed with our toothbrushes hanging out of our mouths or if (more likely) the event we were attending had ended hours before – the moment our mother, the Queen of Time, hustled out of the bathroom in a cloud of steam and perfume and announced, “Okay, we’re leaving,” we were expected to be belted in the car and halfway down the driveway.

Upon the emergence of our firstborn babe, I looked lovingly up at Kyle and said, “Okay, we’re leaving” – and with that, took my rightful(?) place on my own throne.

My dear and patient husband has taken a “I’ll be a good sport about this so long as we’re not really late” stance to his circumstances – and so, as thanks for over a decade of aforementioned good sportsmanship, I decided to surprise Kyle this year by departing for Michigan on his (instead of my own) defined schedule.

“What time do you want to leave tomorrow?”  I had asked breezily so as to not give away my big plans.

“Oh, mid-morning, I guess.”  He had answered with the equally-breezy-albeit-slightly-defeated air of a man who had stood in our kitchen looking at his watch many, many, many times before.

I got out of bed the next day at 9:00 am, which you may think is mid-morning but I can assure you is not.  My plan was thus:

8:30: Wake up to Kyle’s alarm (if not up already)

8:30 – 9:00: Feed the kids; clean up breakfast

9:00 – 9:10: Drink quick cup of coffee

9:10 – 9:40: Shower and get dressed (minimal effort since we were going to sit in a car for eight hours)

9:40 – 9:45: Pack up toiletries (because I had packed the boys’ and my own suitcases the night before)

9:45 – 10:00: Put away any remaining clutter; make beds; start dishwasher; take out garbage

10:00 – 10:01: Let Kyle know I was going to wait in the car “for him to finish up whatever he needed to do”; pat myself on the back

Kyle’s alarm went off at 8:30, and it turned out I wasn’t up already because I had gone to bed at 1:00 am after packing up every single thing in the house and putting away 50,000 loads of laundry (this number is factual and not an exaggeration).  I actually got downstairs at 9:05 because I needed to scroll Facebook to see if it was anyone’s birthday, and also do the Wordle.  No matter, I was a fast coffee drinker.  I was an even faster coffee drinker when I was doing something while drinking coffee (don’t question this sound logic), so I decided to sort out the mail and a pile of countertop papers while also “making” the children breakfast of cereal and grapes.  Meanwhile, Kyle was quietly drinking his own coffee and puttering about packing up all of the real stuff we needed that I had missed the night before.

“I’m going to shower and get the van,” he told me.

Oh, right; I forgot to mention the minivan.  In the past, we had driven my car to and from Michigan, and then set the whole thing aflame when we arrived back home because it was the only appropriate solution for the Category Alpha Biohazard that had developed inside after thirty hours of non-stop Kosior-ness.  It was getting pretty expensive constantly buying new cars and setting them on fire, so Kyle decided that this year we would rent a minivan (which we would take care of because we are only disgusting in our own vehicles).

“Great,” I said breezily.  “What time do you think you’ll be back?”

“Probably about 9:45,” he said.  “Is that okay?”

“Oh, yes,” I said.

He walked upstairs, and I slugged back my coffee like it was a ye olde tankard of ale.  After coughing and sputtering (but like, in a totally regal way), I amended my schedule thusly:

9:20 – 9:30: Put away any remaining clutter; make beds

9:30 – 10:00: Shower and get dressed

10:00 – 10:05: Pack up toiletries

10:05 – 10:10: Start dishwasher; take out garbage

Now I may not know how to shoot down a cup of coffee, but I, like all mothers everywhere, know exactly how long it takes to put crap back in its place.  I stepped into the shower exactly at 9:30.  Except it was more like 9:45, because my seven-year-old had needed a second breakfast and I had wanted to send a couple of emails and text my mother.

Kyle was (obviously) back at 9:45, and he popped his head into the bathroom as I was shaving my legs with the speed and quality of a farmer shearing a sheep in order to save a few minutes.  I stopped and pushed the hair off my face, breezily.

“I’m going to put a few things in the van,” he said.

“Great,” I said.

“Anything else you want me to do?”  He said.

“Would you take out the garbage?”  I said.

“Sure thing,” he said.

“Oh, and water the plants?”  I said, suddenly remembering something that should have been on the original schedule.

“Yep,” he said.

“Start the dishwasher, too, would you?”  I asked, deciding to hedge my time bets by Cinderella-ing him with so many to-dos that I could still beat him to the van.

“Yes,” he said.

Five minutes later (10:00), I was out of the shower and drying myself off when I realized there was going to be a stack of wet towels molding away in the basket for a week.  No good.  I did a quick mental calculation; I could do a load of laundry and have it in the dryer by 10:45-ish if I started it this exact second.  I sprinted like Lady Godiva on her horse (aka nude) to the laundry room down the hall from my bedroom.  I was standing there pouring soap into the machine when Kyle walked past holding a load of blankets.  The look on his face said something like, “My wife is so beautiful and smart and wonderful and I’m so lucky to be married to such perfection.”  His mouth, on the other hand, said after a long pause, “You wanted to bring a couple of pillows, right?”

“Yes,” I said.

By 10:45, I was dressed and 10000% packed up and cleaned up and everything else-d up.  I carried my suitcase down the stairs and presented it to Kyle as if it were a box of gold.

“Where are the kids?”  I asked.

“Outside,” he said.  “We’re ready when you are.”

“Great,” I said.  “I’m just waiting on the washer.”

We stood in the kitchen together for another five full minutes until I heard the laundry buzzer go off.  I switched the wet towels to the dryer, checked to make sure the garbage was taken out and the dishwasher was running, and locked the front door.  The boys were playing basketball in the driveway; Kyle was talking to the neighbor.  I got into the driver’s seat.

“Okay, we’re leaving!”  I shouted.  First one in the van; you’re welcome, Kyle.

The photo above is of the minivan and also Kyle.

I try not to read the news – good or otherwise – while I’m on vacation; so I’m sorry to say (but not too sorry, I guess) that I don’t have any nice news to share this week.  I’ll have extra-nice news next week to make up for it.  Happy July!

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