Superfan | June 1, 2022

If you’ve been watching the NHL Playoffs, you know that the Edmonton Oilers and the Colorado Avalanche are now competing in the Conference Finals; the winner of their series will play for the Stanley Cup.  If you’ve been reading North Dakota Nice for a while, you know that Kyle has loved (/hated) the Oilers for 42 years.  With that, I’m going to interrupt my regularly-scheduled programming (next week will be a story about the long weekend, so you’ll need to pretend like that’s still fresh in your mind) to tell you what it’s like to be married to a hockey – and specifically an Oilers – superfan.

Even if you don’t know anything about hockey, you probably know Wayne Gretzky.  Wayne Gretzky played for the Edmonton Oilers from 1979 to 1988; during that time the team won four Stanley Cups.  The call of the Wayne was so strong that little Kyle Kosior broke ranks from his family’s long-time Montreal Canadiens legacy to don the navy blue and orange.  This switch was a CHOICE because the Kosiors had collectively been Canadiens fans since the 50’s, when his grandmother’s cousin played for the team.

Little Kyle immersed himself in everything Oilers.  By the time he was ten, he knew the stats and minute-by-minute gameplay of every player on both the Oilers and their farm team.  Also when he was ten, the Oilers – the defending Stanley Cup Champs – had advanced to Game 7 against the Calgary Flames in an early Playoff series.  In the third period, the game tied, an Oilers player named Steve Smith went to pass the puck back to a teammate, missed his target, and hit the leg of his own goalie (Grant Fuhr) to score on his own net.  Little Kyle flung himself on his bed, sobbing in despair.  He cried all through the night and through school the next day.

Twenty years later, Kyle found himself in an elevator with Steve Smith.  Kyle was carrying a case of beer (a gift to a friend), and Steve asked him for one – and Kyle, the guy who has literally given people the coat off his back, channeled that inner ten-year-old and did about the meanest thing he’d ever done in his life.  He looked Steve dead in the eyes and said, “No.”

(As a hockey mom, I’d like to say that Steve Smith is not the reason the Oilers didn’t advance in the playoffs.  Hockey is a team sport, and if the Oilers were so great they would have won that game/series regardless.  As someone who loves Kyle, however, I will continue to keep my mouth shut.)

The Oilers won their last Stanley Cup in 1990.  Since then, they have…what’s a gentle way to put this?…sucked.  While some of the Oilers fans drifted away to less-craptastic teams, Kyle remained steadfast.  Also, miserable.  When we met in 2004, his M.O. would be to watch a game, stomp around the apartment swearing for fifteen minutes (social media wasn’t a thing back then; now he does his grumping on Twitter), and then toss and turn all night.  I found these tantrums so enticing that I decided to marry him.

The Oilers managed to enter the Playoffs in 2006, the same year we were wed.  As much as he tried to play it cool, Kyle was hopping with excitement.  That is not an exaggeration; we were living in an apartment on the south end of Grand Forks at the time, and Kyle would bounce between the living room and bedroom to shake off his nerves before every puck drop.  Despite decades of losses, ten-year-old (but now thirty) Kyle was so convinced of their success that he decided to host a watch party with a large group of his law school friends.  Unsurprisingly, the Oilers lost – and Kyle stood up from his Oilers easy chair (which was set below his Oilers wall clock, Oilers wall decals, and Oilers framed autographed pictures) and left.  Not out of the room; out of the apartment.  He came back a few hours later, long after all of our guests had left.

“Where did you go?”  I asked him the next morning.

“For a walk,” he said.

“Where did you walk?”  I asked.

“To East Grand Forks,” he said. (note: About 14 miles roundtrip)

I’ve now been Oilers fan-adjacent for nearly twenty years.  In that time:

  • Kyle tried (unsuccessfully) to name our first-born Ryan Smyth Pisani Kosior after two of his favorite players.
  • In 2017, Kyle didn’t watch two games out of disgust, and has since spent the last five years telling me about the time he didn’t watch those two games.
  • He has followed, and unfollowed, and refollowed every single Oilers blog and fan on Twitter. He has also cancelled multiple dinner dates because the Oilers lost earlier in the evening and “He just didn’t feel up to it.”
  • He has taken our sons to see an Oilers game every year of their lives (excluding 2020), and I finally had to lay down the law on gifts of Oilers merch because I have enough t-shirts and jerseys to outfit the entire team.
  • When I suggested that maybe he find a back-up team to follow to help balance out the Oilers suckiness, he didn’t talk to me for an hour.

Now the Oilers are in the Playoffs, and poor Kyle has had a permanent stomachache since about November.  I told one of our friends that he’s so tensed up that I’m not sure he’s gone to the bathroom.  The ten-year-old in him is still hopping with excitement; the grown man is so afraid to watch that he’ll turn off the TV in the middle of the game and I’ll have to refresh Twitter (or go into another room with a TV, because the Playoff games this year have been pretty fun) until I see that they are winning.

By the time I post this story the Oilers and Avs will have played their first game, and I wanted to get this on record before the series advances – because…well, because twenty years of because.  I asked Kyle the other day if he was happy about the Oilers, and he thought about it for a long time and then said, “I don’t know.”

And that’s what it’s like being married to a superfan.

The photo above is of Kyle watching an Oilers game.  Look at how much he’s enjoying it.

This week’s news has lemonade, fish, and 13,850 miles.  Read on.

A group of Hunter second-graders raised $2,016 via a one-day lemonade stand to help one of their classmates purchase a new vehicle.(Facebook)

Time to borrow a fishing rod, because North Dakota residents 16 and older can fish for free on June 4 and 5. (KX Net)

A little (or even a lot) of rain didn’t deter the annual North Dakota Memorial Day ceremony.  As Maj. Gen Al Dohrmann, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general, said, “It’s a beautiful day.  Any day we can gather and honor our veterans and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice is beautiful.” (Bismarck Tribune)

Jamestown’s Helene Neville has spent the last 12 years running across every state in the country – totally 13,850 miles – and is the “fifth and oldest person to ever run the perimeter of the continental U.S.” (Jamestown Sun)

Congratulations to the newly-crowned Mrs. North Dakota America, Mrs. North Dakota American, Miss North Dakota for America Strong, Teen Miss for North Dakota, Junior Teen for North Dakota, Junior Miss for Grand Forks, Little Miss for Grand Forks, Junior Miss for Grand Forks 2023, Miss Red River Valley for America Strong, and Mrs. Downtown Grand Forks America! (Grand Forks Herald)

I know this isn’t a typical North Dakota Nice story, but I happen to know the Vanderpans and they are the nicest family and I think it’s awesome that Matt is sharing his story to raise awareness of stroke symptoms. (Grand Forks Herald)

And finally, a little North Dakota Nice from Facebook, courtesy of a a North Dakota Associate Poet Laureate:


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).

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)

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).

Axolotl | April 27, 2022

My ten-year-old has been campaigning pretty hard for an axolotl.  An axolotl, for those of you who aren’t up on your Minecraft animals and/or exotic amphibians, is a carnivorous salamander that lives under water, has frilly external gills, and looks like it’s always smiling.  My ten-year-old is not getting an axolotl.

Ten wants an axolotl because he actually wants a dog – and if not a dog, a cat; and if not a cat, a guinea pig; and if not a guinea pig, a bunny; and if not a bunny, an axolotl.  The thing is, Ten is allergic to pet dander.  Really allergic.  Think, “Oh, just take a Claritin and you’ll be fine sniff sniff,” and multiply that by an at-home nebulizer and a punch card’s-worth of asthma-related trips to the ER.  If you’re up on your dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and bunnies, you’ll know that all of those have fur (and therefore dander)…meaning his chances of getting an axolotl are about 4,000-times more likely than one of those other animals, even if those chances are still zero.

His request for an axolotl also isn’t completely lost in the deep end of the pool because his dad and I have a habit of getting him guilt pets – and nothing makes us feel more guilty than having a kid with a health thing.  Ten’s first pet, for example, was the by-product of his needing tubes in his ears.  If you, an adult, got tubes in your ears it would be achieved in your doctor’s office with some numbing.  When Ten got it done he was three years old, and three-year-olds need to be put under so they don’t wiggle their way into some extra head holes.

If you’ve ever been under anesthesia, you’ll know that you need to sign all sorts of waivers about the dangers of said anesthesia.  As three-year-olds aren’t great at writing their names, it was up to me to fill out forms that read something like, “I understand that this surgery is completely elective and anything that happens as a result is because I suck at parenting.”  Then my little buddy was wheeled back for tubing, gripping tight to his favorite hockey card, which he opted to bring with him instead of a stuffed animal.  He waved that hockey card as he disappeared out of view.

Naturally, I burst into tears.  Kyle got the lucky job of guiding his weeping wife out to the waiting room, where he deposited me in a chair just in time for the nurse to pop her head in and say, “All done!”

Those eight minutes (five minutes for forms + three for the rest) were so traumatizing to me that we left the hospital and went right to the pet store, where we got three guilt goldfish.  We named the fish Randy, Ralphie, and Flick after the movie, A Christmas Story.  Our son, who was completely unphased about his earlier surgery, was equally as disinterested in the fish by Day 2.

Ralphie and Flick made it four months (which is three months and thirty days longer than any other fish in Silverman fishstory).  Randy, on the other hand, was a valued member of our family for seven years.  He lived in Ten’s bedroom, first in a small bowl, then in a mid-sized tank, and then in an aquarium roughly the size of a bathtub.  Despite the fact that Randy and Ten shared nearly equal square footage in that bedroom, they only interacted with each other once – when Randy decided to jump out of his tank, and Ten’s (who was four at the time) gut instinct was to cover him with a pillow.  Everyone, including the pillow, made it through unscathed.

The rest of the time, Randy was Kyle’s fish.  Kyle fed him, cleaned his giant tank, bought him toys, and acquired additional fish friends – all but one of whom met their watery graves at the fins of Randy, who turned out to be a bully.  Kyle also had to find babysitters to care for Randy when we went out of town because fish are a lot of work – like, you know, axolotls.

As much as Ten has promised to take care of any new pets, salamander or otherwise, Kyle and I are unconvinced that we won’t be tweezer-feeding worms to Little Cutie the Axolotl (Ten’s choice for a name) long after the boys have left for college.  We are also considering allergy shots for Ten, so as long as those work we should be able to make it through his adulthood without any guilt animals…but a guilt bike – I mean, the kid does have to get a series of shots – may be in his future.

The photo above is of Kyle with an artist’s representation of an axolotl.

This week’s news has a baby eating a pickle and a special birthday party.  Read on.

(Also, today is my mom’s birthday.  Happy birthday, Mom!)

West Fargo’s Ellis Bonn is now Internet Famous after trying her first pickle. (KVRR)

Or the 31st time, the Dickinson State University Agriculture Club spent a day showing pre-schoolers through third-graders all about ag. (Dickinson Press)

Bismarck’s Marcus Ell had a “one hundred” (on a scale from 1-10) birthday after his mom put out a request on Facebook. (KX Net)

Mersiha Arapovic is Mandan’s first female firefighter. (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).