Live, Lake, Love | June 8, 2022

In a surprising move, I made a last-minute Friday decision to take my family to the lake for the Memorial Day weekend after our expected houseguests cancelled their visit.  It was surprising because I am not known for my spontaneity – when I first met Kyle, I told him that I wouldn’t go to the bathroom without a ten-minute warning – and also because I AM known for using free time for small projects such as sandblasting and repainting the entire exterior of the house.

Kyle, who is actually spontaneous, is always so happy when I say things like, “I just bought 200 feet of wallpaper,” so when I called him over the lunch hour about my unplanned plan, he was all in.  When we spoke he was in the garage preparing to leave for a meeting in Fargo, so he delayed his departure for five minutes in order to throw a duffle bag, the fishing rods, and tackle box in his truck while I booked a room at a lakeside resort a few hours away.

I finished work at 5pm, and spent the next hour running around like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep in order to gather up everything the boys and I would need for the trip.  Just as I was shoveling the last of the suitcases and children into the car, it dawned on me that I had forgotten something…goggles.  I ran back in, congratulated myself on being me, and hit the road for our weekend o’ fun.  We stopped for a Fargo fast food dinner and to pick up Kyle (who parked his truck at our friends’ house), and pulled into the resort a little past bedtime.

Our ten-year-old had used the drive to map out an elaborate activity schedule (the trip was Friday to Sunday, so Saturday was our “only” day), which was so action-packed that I wasn’t sure we would have enough time for a bathroom break, let alone a ten-minute bathroom break warning.  The grand finale was a pontoon rental/fishing trip at 5:30pm, which meant all of the other events needed to happen in a timely manner so as to get the family to the dock by 5:15.  Ten was recounting his schedule for the two-hundredth time when I opened a suitcase to get Seven some jammies and realized that the thing I had remembered I had forgotten was not the goggles – but was in fact, my underwear.

Growing up in the 80’s, clean underpants were a very big thing.  Like your American Express card, you’d never leave home without it.  We don’t seem to be concerned with this anymore, so either the results of dirty skivvies never manifested themselves or we are a lot less disgusting without Aquanet.  Regardless, old rules die hard; and so when I mentioned my predicament to Kyle he said, “No problem, we’ll have breakfast in town and you can grab some then.  It’ll be quick.”  He may have also mentioned something about wearing bathing suits for the next two days as an alternative, but I had stopped listening at that point and also I wasn’t going to do that.

Now, I don’t know if you know anything about resort town shopping, but if you are in the market for a sign that reads “Live, Lake, Love,” then you are IN LUCK.  If you want to buy ladies’ undergarments, however – well, it turns out a lot of people wear their bathing suits because it took me eight stores to find any.  I did, of course, find a pair of boxers that said, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” that I was going to get for Kyle because of its inspiring and worldly mantra but then remembered our tight timeline and moved on.  I was also pointed towards a tableful of nursing bras; close, but no cigar.  I should note that in the time it took me to procure two pairs of ‘pants, Kyle and the boys bought a cricket bat and ball, a hockey t-shirt, a novelty plate set, Taco Bell-flavored sunflower seeds, a USB hairdryer, and a hand humidifier.

We got back to the resort – a ten-minute drive from downtown – an hour behind schedule.  No problem, we told Ten – we would just cut a little bit off of each activity to get back on track.  This great plan worked exactly never because all the activities were so much fun that we had to drag both boys away after several gentle calls for, “We’re leaving now.  Okay, we’re leaving NOW.  Okay, NOW we’re leaving now.”

By 5:05, we had accomplished exactly half of Ten’s program; but ‘toonin’ time was nigh, so we rushed back to our room to grab the fishing gear.  As the boys were arguing over who was going to carry the Taco Bell-flavored sunflower seeds, Kyle casually mentioned, “Oh, right, I forgot to get bait.”  Ten froze.  No problem, we told Ten, once again – we would buy some from the guy renting the pontoons.  This was a resort!  Obviously, they would have bait.

The resort did not have bait.  “There’s a place downtown that probably sells it,” the suntanned young man at the ‘toon shack told us.  And then he mentioned the same store where I had purchased my unmentionables (it was a very versatile retail experience).  “We’re good,” Kyle said.

We were good.  It was an absolutely perfect evening – 70 degrees, blue skies, and not a mosquito or a lick of wind for twenty miles.  It turns out that both fish and little boys like beef jerky, because that’s what we used as bait and it worked.  When we packed everything back up into the car the next morning, Ten declared it “our best vacation ever” (and Seven declared that he wanted ice cream) so I guess we’ll have to schedule in some more spontaneity in the future.

The photo above was taken on the pontoon and includes me, Kyle, the Taco Bell-flavored sunflower seeds, and my new underwear.

This week’s news has a life-saving senior and a bowler named Maddy A.  Read on.

Manvel’s Robert Kennedy is a humble hero thanks to a quick-thinking Heimlich maneuver, which saved Curtis Carlson. (Grand Forks Herald)

The Bottineau VFW has been putting out flags – over 500, to be exact-ish –for a Memorial Day and Veterans Days Parade of Flags. (KX Net)

This particular article is for Bismarck, but I know many of the school districts in North Dakota are offering free lunches – and for some, breakfasts – over the summer. (KFYR TV)

Valley City’s Madison Anderson is in the 8th grade and will soon be rolling in a national bowling tournament (and you should click on the article just for the photo because it’s really cute). (Valley City Times-Record)

Bismarck’s Dylan Wetsch now has a new friend named Canam thanks to Make-a-Wish North Dakota. (KFYR TV)

Looking for a little light reading?  Check out my latest story on summer scheduling in the latest issue of Area Woman Magazine. (Area Woman)

Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

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Buy me some peanuts and Whiskey Jacks | June 17, 2021

Our nine-year-old played two sets of double-headers last Friday and Saturday.  On Sunday, we naturally decided to detox after hours upon hours of baseball by taking our two sons and a friend to a Wheat City Whiskey Jacks baseball game.  The Whiskey Jacks played the Badlands Big Sticks at Kraft Field, which is apparently known to our family as “that place with the concession stand” because the boys ate their way through the entire experience.

In the first inning, the Whiskey Jacks and Big Sticks each scored two runs.  We had come to the ballpark directly from dinner – and by “directly” I mean that one of the kids was still chewing it as we found a parking spot – and so the three boys got six two-for-$1 Freeze pops for dessert and I had a frozen Snickers because I was standing in line anyways.

In the second inning, both the Whiskey Jacks’ and Big Sticks’ pitchers hit a batter with a ball.  While getting beaned by an errant pitch is certainly nothing new in nine-year-old baseball (one of the kids on Nine’s team had the luck of being hit twice during a single game the previous weekend) the kids were beside themselves with excitement that it could happen to the big boys, too.  Shouting “OOOOOOOOH” and “THROW STRIKES, PITCHER” made our six-year-old thirsty, so Kyle stopped by the stand to buy him a bottle of water.  Six went along “to go to the bathroom” and came back with a bag of popcorn.

In the third, the Whiskey Jacks’ second baseman got a double and did a little celebration dance on the bag.  The dancing made our sons’ friend realize that if he didn’t spend the $5 his mother had given him, he would still have $5.  Fortunately, the concession stand was willing to trade it for a soda and a bag of chips.

In the fourth, a different Whiskey Jacks pitcher hit one of the Big Sticks with a wild pitch after a contentious “was it, wasn’t it” foul ball situation.  The boys’ friend had trouble yelling, “OOOOOOOOOH” with a mouthful of chips, which reminded Six that he was “starving.”  When offered a hot dog or a hamburger, Six revealed that he wasn’t that starving, “only chippie hungry.”  It was also in this inning that Nine and the friend gathered enough research to determine that the handful of fly balls that had left the playing field had tended to go in every direction except the one in which we were sitting.  When I pointed out that most people prefer to be away from the path of fly balls, Nine and Friend decided to leave the park and hang out around the concession stand in order to nab one.

“What are you going to do if you catch a ball?”  I asked.

“Play with it,” Nine said.

“But we have a whole bucket of balls at home,” I reminded him.

“Ugh, Mom,” he said.  “These are different.”

At the top of the fifth, the Whiskey Jacks took out the Big Sticks 1-2-3.  A little boy sitting in front of us was eating a giant hot dog.  The hot dog had other ideas, and slowly slid out of the bun and onto the ground.  The little boy took a look at it, shrugged, and went back to eating his bun.  Nine had returned briefly to initially announce that he, too, was “only chippie hungry” – elevating his declaration after the hot dog incident to “maybe hot dog hungry.”

In the sixth inning, the Whiskey Jacks’ batter hit a drive directly to the Big Sticks’ pitcher, who caught it for the third out.  This gave us a chance to talk about how much that must have hurt, and how dangerous it is to be a pitcher, and how maybe I was “maybe hot dog hungry,” too.

We left at the seventh inning stretch because Six had circled around the concession stand menu and was hinting strongly at both another Freeze pop and a need for sleep.  Nine and Friend did not catch a foul ball, so they had to settle for bringing home only good memories.

“What was your favorite part?”  I asked as we got in the truck.

“I liked when the catcher got to run down the runner at third,” said Nine.

“I liked the home run,” said the Friend.

“I liked the baseball game,” said Six.

“And I liked when the pitcher didn’t realize it was a live ball,” Kyle said.  “What was your favorite?”

“The Snickers,” I said quietly.

The photo above is from the game, which ended 8-6 in favor of the Big Sticks.

This week’s news is about a really big garage sale, a pride of lions, and Pie Day.  Read on.

The 19th annual “Highway 21 Treasure Hunt” kicks off today (June 18) and includes 100+ rummage sales along a 100-mile route, going through Flasher, Carson, Heil, Elgin, New Leipzig, Mott, Regent, and New England. (Dickinson Press)

Grenora’s Ron Laqua and Joanie Ledahl have put together an online record of the stories of everyone buried in the local cemetery. (Fargo Forum)

Hillsboro displays 500 flags up and down the boulevard in honor of Hillsboro Days, Independence Day, Labor Day, Patriots Day, and Veterans Day. (Jamestown Sun)

Bottineau’s Lauren Vad has lived in South Africa for the last 6.5 years, and is now opening her own wildlife sanctuary (with four new lions!), named Warriors of Wildlife. (KX Net)

The Fargo Memorial Honor Guard will be honoring Navy veteran Brian Gordon Johnson, who served between 1976 and 1980 and will be the fourth veteran to go unclaimed and buried by the organization. (KVRR)

Seven-year-old Cooper Craig got to be a Dickinson police officer for the day (and stop a bank robbery!), thanks to Make-a-Wish North Dakota and the Dickinson Police Department. (KX Net)

Hillsboro’s Elise Jacobson is headed to Arkansas to compete in the Miss College America Pageant. (Hillsboro Banner)

Pie Day is back at the Valley City Barnes County Public Library. (Valley City Times-Record)

The Farmer Hello | December 24, 2020

Not long after we moved out to the country, my husband and I were driving along the gravel roads when we passed a truck going the opposite way.  Both my husband and the other driver lifted their index fingers off of their respective steering wheels and nodded to one another.

“What’s that now?”  I asked.

“This?” Kyle said, pantomiming the #1 with his first finger.  “It’s the Farmer Hello.”

“Did you know him?”

“No.  Well, maybe.  I don’t think so,” Kyle shrugged.

“So it’s just to be friendly?”

“Yes, I suppose it is,” Kyle said.

Over the last nine years, I’ve Farmer Hello’d (or Country Waved or any other thing you want to call it) about nine bazillion times.  After the initial ten or so first-finger hellos (and zero middle finger not-hellos) I drove past a woman in a minivan who gave me a whole hand hello and I felt so guilty about my lackluster effort that I started enthusiastically waving to everyone I pass.

I also discovered pretty quickly on that you don’t need a car or a farmer for a Farmer Hello; it’s common practice for any interaction between two or more human beings in general proximity to a farmed field.  Taking a walk?  You’re up for a wave.  Mowing the ditch?  Lean in for a wave.  Riding your bike, or your golf cart, or your Razor?  It’s wave time. 

I said “general proximity to a farmed field” because you don’t even need to be in the country for a Country Wave.  We spent a day in Cavalier this summer and passed ten or so people driving through town to the State Park, and every one of those folks tossed up a greeting when they saw us coming.

I love, love the Farmer Hello.  I’m a friendly sort and so I dig it for that reason, of course; but what I really like is that it’s an acknowledgement that two strangers exist in the exact same place in the exact same moment on a giant planet that is billions of years old.  Which I don’t think we think about very often.

There’s a little slough by my house that is usually filled with a bunch of different kinds of birds looking for a drink and a dip.  I spend a lot of time watching them because I’m a bird creeper and they have never asked me to stop.  My minutes of amateur avian research have taught me that despite the variety of waterfowl available in proximity, birds will generally only hob-nob and quack-quack with their own species – and, if two flocks (murders, gangs, whatevers) of the same species show up, each group will stick with their buddies instead of getting to know some possible new pals.  I don’t think this behavior is out of bird rudeness; I just think these animals have only so many hours in the day to focus on eating and flapping their wings and staying alive and tweet-tweeting with their own fleets (colonies, banditry, whatevers).  And so their brains just disregard everyone and everything else.

My years of amateur human research tells me that people aren’t that different, which is why the Kiss Cam is so popular at sporting events.  Because you can be at a hockey game surrounded by 15,000 people and what you see is your own little party (and maybe the couple having an interesting conversation behind you), and everyone else is just noise.  And so when the Kiss Cam pops up on the Jumbotron it’s like, “Oh, look!  Turns out we’re not alone in this giant building – those two people are here, too!  Clap, clap, clap, clap!”

In addition to my time spent watching birds, I also waste precious wing-flapping time scrolling the Internet for stories about the moments when strangers find one another in a planet full of noise.  Here are a few of my favorites:

[Image Text: Okay so today I was at a long red light and this guy beside me is bumping “hey ya!” by OutKast right. So I start singing along because it’s hey ya and he rolls down his window and starts singing with me for a solid 15 seconds and honestly why can’t the world always be like this]
[Image Text: I think it’s cute that thing humans do when they see a boat pass and the people on the boat wave at them and they wave back. For absolutely no reason. They don’t know each other, they’re not trying to communicate anything other than, “LOOK! I am on a boat!!! Hello!!!!” “I see you!!!! On a boat!!!! Hello!!!!!!!!!!” in a genuine moment of wholesome human connection and excitement.]
[Image Text: a baby was staring at me in target so i started waving to her & she waved back & the mom whipped around & was like OMG & i was like oh sorry i was just waving to your baby & she was like THAT WAS THE 1ST TIME SHES WAVED & me & this mom SCREAMED in the store bc we were so excited]
[Image Text: I’m lucky enough to live across the street from a large park. During the winter storm this week I decided to take a walk in the park at the height of the snowfall. It was so dark and dense that I couldn’t see anything but the lamp lights shimmering in the snow. I could see another living thing anywhere near me. I couldn’t even look in the direction of the snow because it stung my eyes and my face. I was overtaken by the sudden urge to yell as loud as a I could so I let out a “YAAAAAAAAAAHOOOOOOOOOOOO” at the top of my voice. Somewhere out in the snowy distance, someone heard me and responded with their own call of YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKIKIKIKIKI” and for two minutes I traded yodels with an unseen stranger in the middle of a storm. It might be the coolest thing that’s every happened to me.]

It’s Christmas Eve!  For the first time in 16 years, my husband and I (and our kids) aren’t able to go up to Canada to celebrate with his family.  The Kosiors typically have a multi-day to-do, including a Boxing Day cousin skate at Kyle’s hometown natural ice arena – a photo of which is above.  I picked this photo because we’re thinking a lot about our Canadian Kosiors, and also because I didn’t really want to drive around looking for someone to wave to so I could take a picture.

Have a happy Christmastime, and enjoy this week’s news – about carolers, Christmas stories, and a Great Conjunction.  Read on.

Neither the pandemic nor the weather could stop dozens of carolers in Bottineau, who took to their vehicles in order to spread good cheer. (KX Net)

Valley City-ers opened their wallets in order to deliver 226 arrangements of flowers to the residents of area assisted living facilities.  And in double-nice news, people outside the region also sent in donations once they heard of the effort. (Fargo Forum)

When Bismarck pediatrician Dr. Stephen McDonough retired, all of the families he helped showed up to send him off. (KFYR TV)

Grand Forks’ Kathy Coudle-King has written a one-act radio play about North Dakota’s suffragette movement, which will be available on North Dakota Public Radio now. (Grand Forks Herald)

For the 33rd year, North Dakotans have penned 500-word Christmastime stories. (Dickinson Press)

 Watford City is now “home” to a Facebook group for people to give and get help. (KX Net)

And in nice news from around the globe, photographers everywhere captured the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn (the closest the two planets have been to each other in 800 years) on Monday.  Click here to see a small sampling of them. (Good News Network)

(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice?  Check out last week’s Tale of Three Chickens or this story about Christmastime for the Jews.)