An apology | November 16, 2022

I’m very sorry, but I’m going to have to skip my usual story this week.  My grandpa passed away and I’m just too sad.

However, my grandfather absolutely loved telling jokes, and so I wanted to share the following:

My mom called to tell me about my grandfather in the early morning.  Everyone else in the house was still asleep, so I crawled in on Kyle’s side – Seven had come in the middle of the night and was snoring away in the middle of the bed – to whisper the news.  The thing about Seven is that he falls asleep and wakes up like a robot: one flick of the “ON” switch, and he’s at full power.  So, as I was relaying my mom’s message, Seven stops snoring, sits straight up, and says,

“Hello, Mommy, I love you.  Do you want to hear a joke?”

Obviously, I did.  Here’s another thing about Seven: he doesn’t really follow society’s norms when it comes to humor.  He has a stack of what he calls “Originals” (the jokes he makes up) and another called “Classics” (the ones he hears from other kids or reads in books) – and most of the time the Originals are the ones he shares.

“It’s an Original,” he said.  “How many months have 69 days?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Every one but December!”  He said.  “GET IT, DE-CEMBER?”

Kyle and I both burst into laughter, so I guess we got it; and I hope my grandpa got it, too.


I’ll be back next week with a new story; in the meantime, this week’s news is below.


It’s that time of the year again: The North Dakota DOT wants you to name their snowplows. (KFYR TV)

Get yo’ wicker bowls ready, because the J-Mart in Pisek has its Christmas candy out! (Facebook)

The New Salem-Almonte Holsteins won their first state football championship since 1986. (Fargo Forum)

Comedian Bert Kreischer got a taste of North Dakota Nice after his tour bus got stuck in the snow and a bunch of people showed up with shovels (and booze, apparently) to help. (KVRR)

Joan Azure of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians was the champion behind making the tribe the first in the country to put donor registration on ID cards. (Grand Forks Herald)


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Kyle and The Shed | November 9, 2022

Kyle got a shed.  I think I’m supposed to say “WE” got a shed; except that “we” wrongly assumed our garage would serve as a place for storing garage-related items and not dance parties (or whatever Kyle and his buddies do out there), therefore negating the need for a separate out-building.  My participation in the acquisition of the shed was to select its colors: black and white, the same as our house.  That decision took five seconds.

However, in my forty-eight hours of (Kyle’s) shed ownership, I have come to the realization that while the shed may look like four walls and a roof, it’s really the shape of friendship. 

According to the irrefutable source of all scientific knowledge, WebMD, there are six steps to making friends:

  1. Start the conversation.
  2. Show interest.
  3. Smile.
  4. Share.
  5. Do a small favor.
  6. Keep it going.

Like a tree falling in the forest, is a shed even a shed if you don’t use it to talk about sheds?  The answer is no.  Which meant:

STARTING THE CONVERSATION/SHOWING INTEREST

Starting from the day we moved in, every visitor of the dad persuasion made their way to the backyard so as to discuss shed-related matters.

“I need a shed,” Kyle would say.

“Yeah,” the dads would reply.  “Shed’d be good.  You thinking an overhead garage door?”

“Nah,” Kyle would say, knowingly.  “Can’t go too big; gotta leave room for the rink.”

“Yeah,” the dads would nod, also knowingly.  “Should we run over to Menards and get some wood?”

Which would be my cue to lean out the door and shout,

“He’s not going to build it!”

To which the dads would laugh – they had fun-ruining wives, too.  Also, their laughter, as it were, was a facial movement related to:

SMILING

The #1 thing in the world that makes people happy: Love.  The number two: Sheds.  There’s nothing more fun than some gentle shed-based ribbing.

Kyle and the dads were having a fire over at our neighbor’s house.  As one would expect, the conversation turned to the neighbor’s shed and Kyle’s lack thereof.

“Hey, when’s that shed coming?”  They asked Kyle, knowing full well he hadn’t yet ordered it (The Kosiors are the world’s foremost browsers-before-you-buyers; for example, his dad once went to four different stores TWICE each before purchasing a bagful of screws).

“I’m waiting for [one of the dads who also regularly laments his lack of shed] to get one first,” Kyle said, and everyone laughed; teasing is enjoyable.

“Maybe we should take down that portion of the fence and just extend my shed over,” our neighbor said.  “Like a double-wide.  We could double our storage space.” Then everyone stopped laughing because that was an infallibly good idea.

“If we’re going to take down fencing, we should build one of those fence bars between our two houses,” Kyle said – since, as we know, caring is:

SHARING

An important part of building friendships is to share your commonality through subtle gestures that communicate, “Yes, I, too, am educated on sheds.”

“What kind of a foundation are you thinking?”  One of the dads asked after the conversation on fence bars had reached a temporary end.

“Probably sand,” Kyle said.  “You know, ‘case I want to move it.”

“Yeah,” another dad said.  “Sand’s good.  I did sand once.  I have concrete now so I can park my boat.”

“Yeah, gotta get a boat,” Kyle said.  “After the shed.”

Which was my cue to lean out the door and shout,

“We’re not getting a boat!”

“Hey, I’ve got a sand guy,” one of the dads said once the laughter – wives, amirite?! – died down.  “I can call him, if you want.”  Because, of course, one of the hallmarks of friendship is:

DOING A SMALL FAVOR

After many, many of these discussions, it was confirmed by my husband and the dads that YES, the backyard site Kyle had initially selected while touring the house with the realtor was, in fact, the right one.  However, that particular location required the moving of a small tree.  After many, many additional discussions on that particular tree and trees in general (“I’ve got a tree guy”), our neighbor volunteered to help relocate it.  Digging up and replanting that tree took thirty minutes.  Retelling the story of digging up and replanting that tree (spoiler: it went as expected) carried over for several more months.

That neighbor has actually carried the bulk of the very important small favors, including coming over to look at the postholes when the fence was removed to make way for the shed, asking about the delivery date of the shed, and looking at the new shed once it was installed (and also storing the aforementioned hockey rink while waiting for the shed – thank you, Shane).

And, speaking of install:

KEEPING IT GOING

The shed was delivered over the lunch hour on Monday.  I came home “to see the shed,” as per request.  When I got there, Kyle and the shed guy were standing in the backyard, deep in conversation.  Kyle came in a few minutes later, excited (for Kyle).

“The guy who delivered the shed is a beauty,”  he said.  “I’m going to make him a coffee.”

“That’s great,” I said.

“Did you see the shed?”  He said.

“Yes,” I said.  “Very nice.  Maybe you can invite the shed guy over to see it once you have all your stuff in it.”

“Yeah,” Kyle said.  “Maybe I should have a shed party.”

“Whatever you want,” I said, because friendship is spelled s-h-e-d.


The photo above is of Kyle (and his beret) and his shed.

This week’s news has happy haybales and a great idea for a Halloween tradition.  Read on.


Bismarck’s Cleary Family created a tradition of trick-or-treating for food donations for the Bismarck Emergency Food Pantry – a tradition that has since been picked up by Evan Pena now that the Cleary kids have gone off to college. (KFYR TV)

This is the list of some of the friendliest haybales in North Dakota. (103.3)

Happy 112th birthday to Grafton’s Clarabell Demers!  According to the article, Clarabell is the oldest person in North Dakota and the 41st oldest in the world. (Fargo Forum)

Bob Vila is (virtually) on his way to Nome to award the Nome Schoolhouse the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Award. (Fargo Forum)

And speaking of awards, Fargo’s Nora Becker won a ticket to a taping of “Saturday Night Live” after entering the show’s annual essay contest. (Fargo Forum)

And speaking of Fargo, Fargo’s Bob Matthews is known around Hollywood for his woodwork on movie and television porches and decks. (KFYR TV)

This is the cute story of how Lulu the pig joined White Shield’s DeHaven family. (KFYR TV)


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Halloween, costumes, and hugs | November 2, 2022

I’ve written about Halloween costumes every single year I’ve had North Dakota Nice because I love costumes.  Lerve them.  Looove them.  One of my favorite costumes was a Rainbow Brite get-up that I wore for Halloween in 1985 AND 1986 because it had striped tights and a plastic smock and was rad.  Nowadays, if you were to dress up as Rainbow Brite you’d get a blonde wig and a giant hairbow, but the 80s were pretty literal so my costume instead came with a full-head mask where the eyes were punched, not in the face, but in the hair – because nothing says “Gonna take you for a ride” like four eyeballs:

Another favorite costume was in college.  Two of my roommates were English majors and I was an English minor, and we dressed up as a Prepositional Phrase.  Specifically, we were the phrase, “Against the wall,” with each of us wearing a t-shirt with one of the words (I was the “The”).  Exactly zero of our fellow Halloween partygoers got it; and when we educated them on our cleverness, most people nodded slowly and said, “Huh.” before wandering off.  (The following year I was a Sexy Pirate and everyone seemed to have a handle on that.)

The only thing I like more than costumes are hugs.  My dream job would be to be a Disney Princess, because dressing up like Sleeping Beauty and hugging kids all day sounds like a 1985 Rainbow Brite costume (i.e. rad).  However, it turns out you need to be “tall” and “beautiful” and not “short” and “Jewish-y-looking” to be a Disney Sleeping Beauty, so I guess I’ll just have to bide my time until Feivel Mousekewitz from An American Tail really takes off (what kid DOESN’T see themselves in a depressing story about escaping Russian pogroms?!).

Women (and maybe men, too, what do I know) love to talk about our Love Languages – Compliments, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Buying Candles And Then Never Burning Them.  My language is, obviously, Physical Touch.  I love hugs.  Lerve them.  I love strong hugs, wimpy hugs, one-arm side hugs, whatever.  If I had my way, I’d hug every one of my coworkers before and after work (and then I’d hug H.R. after they inevitably brought me in for a “Keep your hands to yourself” chat).  My little sister is my gold standard for hugging.  Her hugs are warm and smushy and smell great.  She could give me a birthday coupon for a ten-minute hug AND I WOULD USE IT, I REALLY WOULD.

Kyle’s family’s Love Language is No Touching – so much so that when we first got engaged and I was in the process of meeting his extended family my sister-in-law would go in ahead of me and warn them, “Hey, everyone, Amanda’s a hugger,” so they could steel themselves for what was to come.  However, for a family that doesn’t like touching they are incredibly good huggers, and I know because after seventeen years together they will initiate my hugs just to get them out of the way.

North Dakota is also not big on touching.  North Dakotans don’t even really like touching themselves (gross, not like that).  For example, I have been to many, many movies in the theater (humble brag).  In every non-North Dakota U.S. state where I’ve seen a movie, someone has applauded at some point during the film.  I have never, ever been to a movie in North Dakota where someone in the audience has felt compelled to clap.  This does not mean that North Dakotans don’t like the movies.  Au contraire.  It means they show their affection in other respectfully-distanced ways, such as wearing a humorous t-shirt with the movie’s tagline on it or telling their friends of their partiality towards the cinema.

Like my sister, North Dakotans are warm (and smell great); and, of course, they WILL hug; it’s just not their first instinct when engaging with someone.  “Well, everyone is like that, Amanda,” you may be thinking.  Listen, I lived in Boston for six years, my sister lived in Los Angeles for a decade, and our mom’s entire side of the family is on the East Coast – and I can tell you with confidence that East and West Coasters not only hug, but kiss one another like they are trying to win a numbers competition.  In more than one instance I have been introduced to an East or West Coaster who kissed me on the LIPS, and I honestly and truly can’t imagine what would happen if I did that to a North Dakotan (wait, yes I can – they would kiss me back and then avoid me for the rest of my life).

While the Kosiors are family and can’t avoid my hugs, I try not to put my fellow North Dakotans in a similarly awkward position.  However, I still need my daily touches, so I’ve taken to patting people on their back and/or arm as a consolation: “I’m so happy to see you [pat pat].”  “How have you been [pat pat]?”  “You look great [pat pat pat]!”  I’ve also found that if I pat people enough, over time they will hug me when they see me…so, double win.

Last night was the most beautiful Halloween in memory: sixty degrees, nary a whisper of wind, and a sun that shone all the way to sunset.  Kyle and I took our seven-year-old trick-or-treating (Eleven went with his friends); and Seven, who normally likes hugs about as much as his father, was so taken in by the weather, the candy, the decorations, and the spookiness that he actually stopped other children for a hug (or a pat) at various intervals throughout the evening.  I sneaked a couple from him since he was handing them out so willingly, and for a few brief seconds I was fulfilling my dream of being a Disney Princess – wearing my high school letterman jacket, but close enough.

The photo above is of me and my little anti-hugger.

I say this every year, but I am so touched by the fact that the entire Grand Forks comes together to make sure Halloween is a great time for all of our children.  Some of the neighborhoods must have received 2,000+ kids per house (I saw one news report that said 5,000 for a particular street), and they leaned into it with big-time decorations, food trucks, and teenagers tapped to play crossing guards on the busier streets.

Here is my favorite story from last night: We were walking through a sea, A SEA, of people when Seven screeched, “LOOK, IT’S PATRICK STAR!”  Lumbering straight at us was a 7’ tall blow-up costume of Patrick Star from the TV show Spongebob Squarepants.  “HI, PATRICK!” Seven shouted through the crowd.  “Patrick” walked a few steps past us, turned around, and from somewhere around his navel the voice of an elementary-aged boy yelled, “S’UP!”  He then turned around and disappeared into the throngs.  (Unrelated: from this point forward, I shall only respond to greetings with “S’UP!”)

This week’s news has Meatloaf and potato salad.  Read on.


That’s it, I’m calling it – this is the Nice Story of the Year: two kids in Minot realized a candy bucket was empty, so they refilled it from their own stash. (KFYR TV)

Twins Eddie and Vinny Opp are Halloween-famous around Hillsboro for their amazing costumes. (Hillsboro Banner)

Dickinson’s Eric Sticka is on the road to recovery with the support of the Sticka Strong community. (KFYR TV)

Fargo’s Big Boy, Meatloaf, Cinnamon, and Buggy are Internet celebrities. (Fargo Forum)

Speaking of famous, Eva Schlepp’s potato salad is the talk of the town in Ashley. (KFYR TV)

Bismarck teacher Robert Fuller competed – and took Silver! – at the International Powerlifting Federation’s World Masters Men’s Classic Championships. (KFYR TV)

Dickinson artist Linda Little has sculpted a bronze statue of Medora de Vallombrosa – the namesake of Medora – and has installed it at the Von Hoffman house in Medora. (Dickinson Press)

A two-hundred-year-old tree needed to come down due to Dutch Elm Disease, and so Bismarck carpenter Michael Knodel has spent over 1,000 hours creating “something special for the city of Lisbon.” (KFYR TV)


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