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)

Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get a story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).

Ma and Pa Kosior go to Las Vegas | August 24, 2022

Kyle and I just got back from a weekend anniversary trip to Las Vegas.  At least I think it was a weekend.  If you have ever been to Vegas – this was my first visit – you know that is a place that completely exists outside of the realities of time, space, and society’s expectations about liquids consumed by the yard.  The whole thing is so wackadoodle that at one point I was standing next to one woman clad head-to-toe in a Louis Vuitton sweatsuit and bucket hat and another woman wearing nipple tassels and what I think was a bathing suit bottom with “It doesn’t eat itself” written on the tush and my very first thought was, “Only one of these two people is dressed appropriately for the heat.”

For a brief period in my Boston twenties, I was cool.  Well, cool-adjacent.  My glamorous and exotic best friend and former roommate spent six years extricating me from my pile of chinos and proclivity towards exclamations like, “Oh, my word!” and “Holy buckets!” and into a lifestyle with dark eyeliner and the knowledge of the right and wrong place for a glass of champagne.  However, you can take the girl out of the Gap but you can’t keep her from Internet ads for sleeveless pink polo shirts; and my move back to North Dakota twenty years ago (after which I married a guy who has a standing text chain with his friend to share Dad Jokes) started an aggressively deep slide back into The Mom I’ve become today.

Anyways, and as such, it became pretty apparent immediately after stepping off the plane that Kyle and I were not really the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce’s poster children for their updated catchphrase, “What happens here, only happens here.”

First of all, Kyle and I look like our idea of a wild time is to research and shop for new bathroom cleaners.  They were handing out shots of this chocolate mint-flavored whiskey in the airport, and the beautiful whiskey girl – everyone who works in Vegas is gorgeous and incredibly fit, which…how?  Is there a talent agent who travels the United States looking for The Venetian Walgreen’s next hot checker-outer? – said to the tattooed guy nearby, “This is the perfect way to start off a night,” and then had to really rack that beautiful brain of hers to come up with this pitch for us: “…This is good…to go…with…a cup off of coffee after dinner.”  Then she smiled apologetically because of course we two nerds wouldn’t have a stimulant before our bedtime at 5:30pm.

Our taxi driver from the airport to the hotel further hammered home this fact when he offered up a completely unsolicited warning.  “Pot is legal here,” he said, “So you know, don’t freak out if you smell it.”  (This was a helpful head’s up, by the way, because pot smoking is a competition in Las Vegas and everyone is out to win.)

Second, neither Kyle nor I gamble.  I mean, we did gamble a little; Kyle put $25 down on various sports books and I played (and lost at) video poker for twenty minutes before I realized deuces were wild.  We also spent about $20 in various slot machines, but came out net ahead after I kept finding abandoned poker chips on the floor because who doesn’t go to Vegas to admire the wide variety of carpet patterns?

Obviously, you don’t have to gamble or look rock-n-roll to have a good time in Vegas.  Here is what we did when we weren’t drinking airport whiskey and learning about the perils of marijuana:

  • We went to several excellent restaurants and one buffet; and the buffet had so many food choices that it actually grossed me – ME, the QUEEN of BUFFETS – out of buffets for possibly ever.  The restaurant (“restaurant”) had something like ten different full buffets, the most popular of which being the seafood spread.  Every single person in line walked away with an ocean’s worth of fish, which they devoured like a shark frenzy.  The waiters (they brought the drinks and were the only normal-looking waitstaff in all of Las Vegas) would wander table-to-table, eyes glazed over, scraping chum and plates onto a rolling cart while simultaneously making a feeble effort to keep their souls from leaving their bodies.
  • Attended a show called Absinthe. The advertising for Absinthe said “If you only see one show, see this!” Which is the type of confident advertising that I automatically immediately discredit.  However, the models on the poster were enticing and Kyle booked the tickets so we went.  We sat next to two drunk ladies about my own age who shared my level of pre-show skepticism at the promised amazingness of Absinthe.  I don’t know if it was the free-flowing alcohol or the fact that the performance had a lot of mostly-naked men, but those ladies, and this lady, were all converts to the awesomeness by the curtain call.  My review is, “If you only see one show and you like acrobatics and dirty jokes and you’re okay with getting splashed with water and there isn’t another show you want to see more, see this!”
  • Went to this thing that was either called “Meow Wolf” or “Omega Mart” which is a thing I found on a list of “If you only do one thing in Vegas, do this!” I think Meow Wolf/Omega Mart was an interactive art exhibit; although my thoughts really didn’t matter because Kyle and I were 100 years older than 100% of the other attendees and about 4,000,000% less aware of what was happening.  You enter into Omega Mart, which is a mind-bending grocery store where the products on the shelves are all what the kidz would call “ironic.”  If you dig deep enough (specifically, open the freezer or go behind the deli counter), you enter into another world that was a little like if Pandora was run by Big Pharma.  Or something.  In addition to being 1000000000 years older than everyone, we were the only ones not taking constant selfies (one kid near us never once looked up from his phone).  Despite our total uncoolness stinkin’ up the joint, we thought it was great.

The very best thing we did in Vegas, though, was talk to the staff.  The young and hot (and incredibly nice) waitstaff were always happy for a chat, probably because we reminded them of their parents’ friends.  One waiter kept saying, “It’s your birthday, right? *wink wink* Because we have dessert for you,” and “It’s also his birthday, right? *wink wink* Because you get free drinks.”  We closed out a French restaurant because the bartenders invited us to stay.  The morning before we left, we went for breakfast and were greeted by a (hot and young) chilly waitress.  She took our order, and came back a few minutes later.

“Are you from Minnesota?”  She asked.

“North Dakota,” we said.

“Oh, I’m from St. Paul!”  She said, warming instantly.  “I figured.”

The photo above was taken at Omega Mart.  I don’t think I’m supposed to be smiling.

This week’s news has Williston’s first triplets, a Bachelor, and Weston Dressler.  Read on.

Bismarck’s Weston Dressler has been inducted into the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Plaza of Honor. (KFYR TV)

Halliday’s Dante LaPierre took third place in a 24-hour, 100-mile endurance race through California. (KFYR TV)

The Chahinkapa Zoo has a new baby girl gibbon.  Congratulations to Effy (Mom), Sprite (Dad), and Poppy (Sister)! (Wahpeton Daily News)

The first triplets to be born in Williston are turning 70 years old. (KFYR TV)

New Salem is getting a mural relating the culture and history and Morton County. (KFYR TV)

Grand Forks’ Baylee Bjorge got a special video message from “The Bachelorette”’s Logan Palmer. (US 103.3)

Two bits of good news: Dickinson’s Ian Vesey is expected to recover from brain cancer, and Make-a-Wish North Dakota is sending him and his family to Alaska for some salmon fishing. (Dickinson Press)

Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get a story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).

The Kitchen Scissors: A Kosior Mystery Series #204 | August 17, 2022

The sun was shining, the kids were happy, and it had taken me the good part of the afternoon to roll off my lawn chair in search of a snack.

“Grab me a glass of lemonade while you’re in there, will you?”  Kyle had said, his eyes closed beneath the book that lay open over his face.

In the kitchen, I made a big show about washing off an apple before shoving a handful of stale Cheetos in my mouth.  I opened the fridge and pulled out the pitcher of pink lemonade which, unsurprisingly, was down to the last tablespoonful.  Fortunately for Kyle (and all of the neighborhood’s little lemonade lovers who had left half-full glasses all over the counter), we had a secret powdered drink stash in case the need for a flash lemonade stand arose.  I dug it out of the back of the pantry, and went to retrieve the kitchen scissors to cut the plastic wrap off the container.

When we were wed, Kyle and I had been gifted a conch shell-shaped pewter salad bowl, a combination rice cooker-vegetable steamer, and a knife block filled with a variety of knives and a pair of kitchen scissors.  After sixteen years, most of the knives had been replaced (see Why is the Bread Knife in the Garage?: A Kosior Mystery Series #118), but the kitchen scissors lived on, shearing everything from shipping box tape to broken fishing line to any other manner of items that really didn’t belong in the kitchen and please take them out in the garage and stop right there, you don’t need the bread knife.

That is, of course, until that fateful Sunday.

I leaned out the patio door.

“Hey, where are the kitchen scissors?”  I called to Kyle.

“In the knife block?”  He replied, helpfully, as one would to a person who had never before been in her own kitchen.

I didn’t bother to look back at the knife block, where the spot for the kitchen scissors was void and dark.

“Nope,” I said.

Kyle took the book off his face.  “On the counter?”


“In the fridge?”  (see Time to Put Away the Groceries and Oh Hey The Remote’s in the Vegetable Drawer: A Kosior Mystery Series #8, #71, and #119)

I checked the fridge.  Nothing.

“They’ll turn up,” Kyle said, as our youngest, Seven, came screeching into the yard with a bloody knee.

The next morning, I went to cut the itchy tag off of Seven’s t-shirt and found the kitchen scissors had not magically reappeared overnight.

“Where are the kitchen scissors?”  I asked his brother, Eleven, as he powered through his second bowl of cereal.

“I don’t know; Seven probably took them,” he said confidently.

“I did not!”  Seven shouted indignantly.  “You took them!”

“I did not!”  Eleven shouted back.

“He always BLAMES ME for EVERYTHING!”  Seven stomped on the floor.

“YOU ALWAYS DO EVERYTHING!”  Eleven waved his arm about his head as if to point to 100% of the objects and situations in the house and beyond.


Twenty minutes later, after the required apologies and third bowls of cereal, I returned to the question regarding the kitchen scissors.

“Someone probably stole them,” Seven said, his mouth full of his brother’s Cheerios, which tasted better than his own.

“Why would someone steal them?”  I asked.

Seven thought for a moment.  “Because they needed them,” he said.

His point was irrefutable: The kitchen scissors were missing and no one in the house had allegedly moved them; the only possible scenario was that someone had broken in for the sole purpose of stealing the scissors and nothing else.  I was ready to order a standing bulletin board and mugshot printer so as to start my investigation of possible scissors thieves when Kyle appeared from his office and said,

“Maybe the scissors are in the basement.”

For all intents and purposes, the basement of the house had been turned over to our children and their friends.  Once a week, Kyle and I would ruin our sons’ lives by making them put away their toys and take down their makeshift knee hockey rink.  Then, after they were in bed, Kyle and I would go down and actually straighten up to my our liking.  It was in this second-tier clean-up that we often recovered items previously considered lost (or stolen – see The Case of the Missing Crapped-Up Flip-Flops: A Kosior Mystery Series #199) forever.  Maybe the kitchen scissors were in the basement.

Two days later, despite dozens of children and adults tromping up and down the basement stairs, no one had pointedly looked for the scissors.  Also, Kyle had temporarily replaced the kitchen scissors with his office scissors…so, you know, problem solved or whatever.

Finally, in an effort to reclaim his scissors and move on to more pressing matters (see The Adventures of the Wiffle Balls Which Should Be In The Backyard But Are Not: A Kosior Mystery Series #205), Kyle put our best man on the case: Seven.

“Hey, buddy, if you find the kitchen scissors we’ll get ice cream tonight,” Kyle said.

Seven immediately retreated to the basement and returned moments later, kitchen scissors in hand.

“I knew right where they were!”  He said proudly.  “Yep, right where I left them.”

It was an inside job, but the culprit was cute so we let it slide…this time.  For now, the kitchen scissors (and the bread knife) are back where they belong.

The photo above is of the scene of the crime.

This week’s news has a book written by a group of third graders, towns full of pollinator gardens and chalk art, and a Renaissance Faire.  Read on.

Led by their teacher, Tammy Gapinski, a group of Jamestown third-graders have published a book entitled, “Goodnight Jamestown” featuring local landmarks. (News Dakota)

Jim and Dale Nelson are displaying their family’s 100+ collection of clocks at the Dickinson Museum Center through the end of the month. (KFYR TV)

Minot now has five pollinator gardens – one in a roundabout – thanks to The Minot Pollinator Project. (KFYR TV)

The Red River Valley Motorcyclists recently donated over $40,000 to organizations for veterans and fallen law enforcement officers. (Grand Forks Herald)

For the past seven years, the streets and sidewalks of Dickinson have come alive with chalk. (Dickinson Press)

North Dakota is now home to our very own Renaissance Faire, and if you’re going to go you may want to consider a costume – check out the photos in the article. (Fargo Forum)

The Bismarck Larks’ first-ever “Kid of the Year” is a 12-year-old named Eva Brooke, who handed out “blessing bags” to homeless people in the community. (KFYR TV)

The all-volunteer Mandan Rural Fire Department is turning 60. (KFYR TV)

Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get a story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).