The Library Room | March 16, 2022

As you know, we moved into our new house at the end of July 2021.  As you also know, the world has been struggling with shipping and supply chain issues.  So, as a result, Kyle and I have one room that is currently devoid of furniture.  We call it The Library Room.

Here is a picture of The Library Room as it looks right now.


The Library Room is right off our front door, and is meant to be the home’s formal dining room.  The thing is, we don’t need a formal dining room because 1) I’m not that amazing of a cook, 2) we have an eat-in kitchen in visible distance of the formal dining room, and 3) our children are wild animals and, as such, we don’t have anything I would even describe as informal, let alone formal, in this house.  Is “back alley” an interior design theme?  That’s probably closer.

(In case you’re like, ha ha, that Amanda, always exaggerating – I should tell you that my number-one requirement when I purchased a new rug was its ability to be cleaned.  I didn’t care about color, material, height of pile, or how it was woven; the only thing I Googled was “rugs that can be cleaned with Windex.”)

For a family without anything formal, it’s kind of poetic that we have The Library Room because the title alone certainly brings up our sophistication a few notches.  We call it The Library Room – named by our six-year-old, who was insistent on “The Library Room” and not just “The Library” – because, as you can see in the photo, the only thing in there are books.  We keep a lot of books because 1) I like to reread them, 2) Kyle likes to read my books (not a euphemism), and 3) we just don’t have it in our hearts to get rid of any books.  We own a number of books that we will never, ever read again (I’m looking at you, The Da Vinci Code) and we still dutifully packed them up and moved them over to this house instead of putting them in the “donate” pile where they probably belonged.  We actually have so many books that we don’t have enough space in The Library Room for them all.

(After typing that out, I think we may have a problem.  Someone had better come check on us in a few years and make sure that we haven’t moved into the backyard into a house-shaped fort out of books, with books for chairs and books for tables and books for plates and so on.)

“That room looks fine with only books in it; you should just leave it that way,” you may be thinking.  Well, since it’s a space without any physical encumbrances, Kyle has taken to using it dry out hockey equipment.  I assume the Library of Congress also serves the same dual-purpose.  (The photo above is what it looks like with hockey equipment; you’ll have to imagine the smell on your own.)

The thing is, absolutely not one single guest to our house has questioned this room AT ALL.  As a reminder, it’s right off the main entry.  You’d have to put your hands up to your eyes like blinders in order to avoid it.  At no point over the last eight months has someone walked in and said, “Huh, what’s going on here?”

There are three possible reasons this is the case.

The simplest explanation is that people know we “recently” moved and are still getting our duck(-shaped pillows) in order.  Our second-to-last big project is painting the walls (don’t ask why we didn’t do that before we moved in), and we have patch marks all over the place.  Maybe people see those patches and think, “Man, they still have a lot to do: paint the walls, get furniture in that front room, and stop building that book fort out in the backyard.”

The North Dakota explanation is that NoDakers are nice and polite and wouldn’t ask a question where the answer would potentially offend or embarrass the recipient.  What if the real reason we hadn’t furnished it was because I once got diarrhea in a formal dining room?  No one wants to have that conversation.

The other explanation, and probably the most logical, is that people walk in and think, “Well, obviously, this is something Amanda and Kyle would have.”  Just a big, empty room with a wall of books and drying-out hockey equipment.  Which, come to think of it, is kind of on brand.

The first piece of furniture – a (different) rug, which I ordered in November – arrives at the end of April.  Before that happens, I’m thinking we should have a Clue-style party where the rooms, weapons, and people are all Kosior-specific, like so-and-so in The Library Room with a hockey stick.  Everyone gets to take a book as a prize for participating; the winner gets The Da Vinci Code.

This week’s news has pie, fish hooks, and suitcases.  Read on.

The Dickinson Police Department hosted their 3rd Annual Skate with a Cop, and nearly 400 people showed up for two hours of ice (and ice cream). (Dickinson Press)

Bowman’s Angie Wanek turns old ropes into home art. (Bowman County Pioneer)

A group of Dickinson community members have raised nearly $40,000 in support of humanitarian aid for Ukraine. (Dickinson Press)

In “things Kyle would totally do no matter what the day,” the Bowman community came out in force to buy slices of pie on Pi Day in support of the Bowman Country Regional Library. (Bowman County Pioneer)

A Grand Forks fifth-grader named Jackson Olson is making, and selling, hand-tied fish hooks. (Grand Forks Herald)

In North Dakota-adjacent news, students in Breckenridge High School’s Project U class are raising money for the 14 children in the Wilkin County foster care system. (Wahpeton Daily News)


Parking Like You’re the Only Car on the Lot | March 2, 2022

We have reached the point in winter in which North Dakotans adopt the age-old adage, “Dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, and park like you’re the only car in the lot.”  From the months of April through December, a driver will identify an empty gap between two uniformly-striped parallel lines and maneuver their vehicle so it is placed between those two lines.  From January to March, however, it’s less “neat and orderly lines of cars” and more “uffda, whatever.”

There’s a mathematical equation for when this occurs, which is [Amount and Color of Snow + Number of Previous Days Below-Zero] x [Everyone’s Feelings of Doneness in Regard to Winter].  When that result is greater than the number of Midwesterners traveling to Arizona, Florida, or Mexico, society’s laws of parking no longer apply.  Many people think it only has to do with the amount of snow on the ground – I mean, how can you park in a spot when it’s under an unmolded snowman? – but in actuality, a North Dakotan will actually attempt to remain within the (invisible) lines until it gets so cold that their car auto-start becomes self-aware and just keeps itself running 24 hours a day.  After that, it’s Jeez, Louise to any semblance of order.

This is perfectly fine.  In my opinion, once your car is covered in a semi-permanent layer of snunk (snow and funk) and you’re worried about breaking a hip every time you set a foot on the ground, parking is the least of your concerns.  I mean, technically, if you put your vehicle into Park, your car is parked.

Plus, if we really think about it, we North Dakotans are cool with parking like we’re the only ones on the road because we are comfortable with everyone driving in a similar fashion.

When Kyle and I first moved out to the country, all of our neighbors welcomed us with both open arms and a warning: “Don’t speed through Thompson.”  What they meant was that we shouldn’t go more than one mile an hour over the posted speed limit anywhere on Main Street – because (back then) Thompson had one policeman, and he didn’t have a whole lot to do.

If you don’t count the millions of “Drive carefully”s and “Watch out for deer”s we hand out like tatertots to one another, that Thompson speed trap warning was probably the first and only rule I’ve ever received about driving from a fellow North Dakotan (who wasn’t employed by the DMV or one of my parents).  This is because North Dakotans are generally good with whatever is happening around them at any given time – driving or not – so if someone wants to go 10 MPH in a 40…well, they are probably early for a luncheon or uncomfortable on ice and should take their time.  You betcha.

(If you’re like, “Ha ha, that Amanda, always exaggerating” – well, here’s an exact instance of that happening:

I used to live in Boston.  Boston drivers are the exact opposite of North Dakota drivers, and so when I moved back to Grand Forks I brought with my Nokia flip phone, my framed poster of the Patriots winning the Super Bowl, and my burning desire to go Mad Max on anyone in my vehicular way.  I was driving downtown to see my grandfather, and I found myself in an unusually long line of cars going 10 MPH on a major thoroughfare.  I swung my car out into the other lane – it was a two-lane road – and zoomed past a whole bunch of completely unaffected drivers who were totally fine with this unexpected slowdown.  Finally, I reached the first vehicle, putt-putting along without a care in the world.  I got my hand ready for the honkin’ of a lifetime – and realized it was piloted by my own grandfather.  He waved.  I waved back, and slowed down so that I could resume my spot in the back of his line.)

We North Dakotans are also fine with driving like we are the only car on the road because sometimes we ARE the only car on the road.  Our former house in the country was off of a long, straight gravel way that was used more as a way to split sections of farmland than as an actual vehicle bypass.  Kyle and I were holding down our driveway with two lawn chairs one Sunday afternoon when a truck passed by on the gravel.  Ten minutes later, another truck drove by, followed closely (or like another ten minutes) by a car.  “We have to move to town,” I told Kyle.  “The traffic out here is getting ridiculous.”

Anyways, springtime is in the air.  Soon the snunk will melt and we won’t have to think (or not think) about parking anymore – because everyone will be stuck in road construction on the way to the lake.

I was going to take a picture of the grocery store parking lot, but I didn’t want someone to see their car and think I was teasing them.  So, instead, the photo above is of a Fighting Hawk (not THE Fighting Hawk) at a recent UND hockey game.  He felt appropriate for this story somehow.

This week’s news has Consequences of the Soul and Youthful Yetis.  Read on.

Valley City students earned 371 feet of duct tape, which they used to adhere their principal to the wall. (Valley City Times-Record)

A dozen quilters in Bowman created their own fabric expression of the book, “The Book of Lost Names,” and those quilts are now on display at the Bowman Regional Public Library. (Bowman County Pioneer)

Bismarck’s Abigail Meier is representing North Dakota in the National Art Honor Society’s Consequences of the Soul virtual art gallery. (KX Net)

Austin Covert and Ryan Nitschke, two chefs in Fargo, are semifinalists for prestigious James Beard Awards. (KVRR)

Minot (/Scandia) artist Andrew Knudson will be painting live at a joint event by the Minot Symphony Orchestra and the Taube Museum of Art. (Minot Daily News)

Congratulations to Norma Nosek, Wahpeton Daily News’ Citizen of the Year! (Wahpeton Daily News)

And congratulations to Samantha Vosberg, the Richland County’s New Monitor’s Citizen of the Year! (Wahpeton Daily News)

Dickinson’s Youthful Yetis rode 200 miles in a month in order to raise $4,300 for St. Jude’s. (Dickinson Press)

Turkey tidbits in gravy | September 23, 2021

I recently asked my sons and their friends to name off their favorite school lunches, and they said chicken nuggets, walking tacos, spaghetti, corn dogs, and sloppy joes.  These, of course, are the wrong answers.  As anyone who has gone through the Grand Forks School System will tell you, the best school lunch is turkey tidbits in gravy.

Here is the recipe for turkey tidbits in gravy:

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup cooked turkey, casually cut into squares
    • 2 cup heated brown gravy
  • Instructions:
    • Combine ingredients.

Nowadays, elementary school lunch is basically a smorgasbord of the food pyramid.  Students get to choose from the hot lunch, a sub, or a sun butter sandwich, and then supplement that with as many fruits and vegetables that they can shove in their gullets in thirty minutes.  Back in my day [insert banjo plucking “ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding dong”], we got one lunch ticket each morning, and we traded that lunch ticket for whatever tray of food the lunch ladies had prepared.  In terms of options, we got to choose between chocolate milk and regular milk (no one drank water, gross).

Back then, the lunch menu was posted in calendar form on the cafeteria door – so that I, and everyone, could memorize it while in line for lunch.  As a person who does not like breakfast food, my least-favorite lunch was the pancakes and li’l smokies and so I made sure to burn those dates in my brain.  I didn’t bring a sack lunch on pancake days, though – instead, threw a few extra snacks in my backpack and then traded my li’l smokies for extra chocolate milks because my mama didn’t raise no fool.

Obviously, the turkey tidbits in gravy were the gold-star days on the calendar.  Often, someone would sneak a pencil into their pocket and mark the turkey tidbits in gravy days with a heart or a star so that all of us fellow kids could get amped up, like a delicious silent pep rally.

[A side note: My parents made up crazy names and songs for all sorts of things, and so I assumed that all silly-sounding words were their copyright.  As a result, I once spent a VERY LONG lunch line trying to convince my classmates that my mother invented the word “tater tots.”  Which, as the inventor of the tot will tell you, she did not.]

A lunchroom full of elementary students is basically a sound comparison to a jet engine or a heavy metal concert.  A lunchroom full of elementary students is also a behavior comparison to a zoo exhibit full of cocaine-injected monkeys.  The whole thing was such a cluster that my elementary school (rarely) gave out little certificates for good behavior – 4×6 pieces of paper with a child’s name on it – that would be put in a shoebox at the end of lunch for a drawing for…something that I can’t remember, maybe a pencil…every week.  For ninety-percent of our lunch weeks, the same ten kids won the drawing.  On the turkey tidbits in gravy days, though, every kid was so busy engorging themselves (and, as such, not crapping around) that the lunchroom monitors would sometimes run out of certificates.

Fast-forward 2,000 years and turkey tidbits in gravy are still being served in school.  I know it because parents are allowed to come eat with their kids (in non-pandemic times), and word on the street is that those are the busiest days across the district for parent lunches.

I’m surprised that some of the local restaurants haven’t started to offer turkey tidbits in gravy, but I’m guessing it’s because we all like the watered-down, kid-friendly perfection of school food and wouldn’t be happy if it was translated into grown-up fare.  Also, it really needs to be served on a tray, and even Ikea doesn’t have those anymore.

[Another side note: the second-most popular lunch at school was pizza in the shape of a rectangle, which a person – specifically, this person – would dip in ranch dressing.  The school still has pizza but my son said it’s triangular, which tells me it’s probably less cardboard-y than the pizza of my youth and, therefore, less good.]

[Final side note: I told Kyle I was writing about turkey tidbits in gravy and he said “…Oh.”  So I am anticipating that this may be the last time some of you will read this blog.  Thank you for your friendship, I wish you all the best.]

You may be surprised to hear that I don’t have a photo of turkey tidbits in gravy to illustrate this story.  Instead, I decided to go through my husband’s Facebook photos in search of a picture from Canadian Thanksgiving because it’s coming up and Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving (I should probably write something about that in the next couple of weeks).  Anyways, I found this photo shoot that Kyle staged with our oldest son when he was a baby.  I was looking at this nonsense – there’s seriously like 20 of these photos – and then scrolled down a bit and found another picture of me doing the same pose.  I’m not sure what the matter is with all of us, but the photo above is of three turkeys.

This week’s news has yesterday’s farmers, painted haybales, and a year’s worth of toys.  Read on.

Watford City’s Keith Edwards has written and illustrated a children’s book about owning your outlook. (McKenzie County Farmer)

Bowman brought out the best in the bee with a “Yesterday’s Farmers” event celebrating vintage ag. (Bowman County Pioneer)

Brooks Thiesen has been in and out of the hospital over his short 22 months, and so his family is hosting a Brews for Brooks fundraiser to support his diagnosis both financially and spiritually. (KVRR)

This year’s winners of the Maddock Rural Renaissance Festival’s hay bale decoration contest include a diner dinner, a circus extravaganza, and a high-flying act. (KX Net)

For the second year, The Schoolhouse in De Lamere was filled with people donating money to purchase toys for hospitalized children. (Wahpeton Daily News)