A Thanksgiving story | November 23, 2022

By the time you read this it will be Thanksgiving Eve and I will be pretending like I’m so overwhelmed with preparations while my mother “gives me a hand” by doing it all.  I am very grateful for my parents (my dad will participate by staying out of the way), and my husband and father-in-law (Kyle decided to deep-fry the turkey, which…has been a whole thing), and my children (who will spend the day fighting, as per Thanksgiving tradition), and all of you.  Thank you for being with me these past two years.

Also, thank you for the kind messages related to my grandfather’s passing.  My grandpa lived a very long (he would have been 96 in December), happy, love-filled, comfortable life, and died peacefully with all his wits about him – which, as his rabbi said, is something we should all hope to do.  Still, losing someone who adores you unconditionally feels pretty lonely, and so I appreciate the attention.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a story about my grandparents because 1) they were awesome, and 2) this particular event coincidentally occurred at Thanksgiving.

Like I said, my Grandpa Mel and Grandma Mar (her name was Marion, but we called her Grandma Mar because grandmother in French is grand-mere, which sort of sounds like Grand Mar; and if my grandmother had to be old enough to be a grandma she would at least be a glamorous French one) were fantastic.  They were on a first-name basis with half of the maître d’s in New York and New Jersey.  They vacationed with (and had a bonkers story about) Dick Cavett – and since I’m name-dropping, Judy Blume was at my engagement party because she was writer-friends with my grandma.  My grandpa performed magic tricks at all of my childhood birthday parties; and for my eighteenth birthday, they took my sister and me to Paris and London.  I lived with them for a college summer, during which we’d celebrate the end of each workday with a martini.  They were fun, and cool, and had amazing taste, and sought out unique and interesting experiences.

They were also totally normal grandparents, and that’s what I’m going to tell you about today.

It was the year 1999, and I was getting ready to take the Amtrak train from Boston to New Jersey for some quality Thanksgiving/Grandma and Grandpa time.  I called my grandparents from our apartment landline (because it was 1999) to let them know I was headed to the station and expected to get on the 2:00 pm (or whatever, it was 22 years ago) train.

“What time will you arrive?”  Grandma asked.

“I think around 5,” I told her.  “I can call you from a payphone (re: 1999) when I get there to confirm?”

“No need,” Grandma said.  “Grandpa’s already at the station.”  We both laughed, although I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not because my grandfather was always VERY EARLY to EVERYTHING.

(Here’s a side story to that: The Grand Forks International Airport is actually one of the busiest in the country for take-offs and landings because we have an aviation school in town; however, the city only has 50,000 people so the airport itself is just two gates.  Today those two gates are in a fancy airport building; but, in the 1980’s, it was one big room separated by a metal detector with a restaurant tacked onto the end.  My grandparents were flying back to New Jersey on the 7:00 am flight, and so my grandfather got to the airport at 3:00 am…and then sat in the car for two hours, because the airport itself didn’t open until 5:00.  Finally, a worker arrived; and so my grandparents went in, the worker checked their bags, took them through the metal detector, and then ripped their boarding pass on the other side.  When they sat down in the waiting room, my grandma checked her watch: 5:08.)

“I hope you do get in at 5 so we can go to the house before dinner,” Grandma said.  “We need you to help us with something very important.”

“What’s that?”  I asked.

Earlier that year, my grandparents had bought their first compact disc player; in celebration, my uncle had gifted them several CDs of their favorite jazz musicians.

“The player is broken,” Grandma said.  “We need you to fix it.”

“Well, I don’t know much about CD players,” I told her, “But I’ll do what I can.”

“You are a technology wiz,” she said (Note: I was not).  “I’ve been telling everyone about that award you won.”

“Which award?”  I asked.

“You know, the very prestigious award from BU,” she said.

I thought for a moment.  “The Dean’s List?  That’s not an award, it’s just a semester grade thing.  Lots of people are on it.”

“Maybe,” she said, brushing me off.  “But you’re the very best.”

“Obviously,” I said.

I arrived in New Jersey, and, of course, Grandpa was there waiting for me.  He gave me a big kiss and a hug and said,

“We are going to the house before dinner because we need you to help us with something very important.”

“Grandma told me,” I said.  “I’ll do what I can.”

“You are a champion of academia and science,” he said (Note: Nope).  “I have been telling everyone about how you got a job with an international company your first month at school.”

I thought for a moment.  “The Gap?  I’m not even allowed to use the cash register.”

“You’ll be running the place by the end of the year,” he said, brushing me off.  “They are going to make you the CEO.”

“Naturally,” I said.

At the house, they presented me with a little round boombox.

“We put the CD in,” Grandpa said.  “And we pressed play, but nothing happens.”

“You have to turn it on first,” I said, flipping the On/Off switch.  The CD player fired up, and a trumpet blared.

“Ahhhhh!”  Grandma sighed.  “You did it!  Such a smart girl.”

“Smart and good-looking,” Grandpa said.  “She gets both from her grandmother.”

He offered his hand to Grandma, and the two of them danced around the living room for the rest of the song.  We left for dinner a few minutes later, where we toasted the coming Thanksgiving, as well as my exceptional genius and beauty.

My parents, while very supportive, are fully aware of my intellectual abilities – and so I don’t think we’ll be celebrating my brilliance this year.  I’m sure, however, we’ll raise a glass to my (and my sister’s) children – whom my parents know, without a doubt, to be the brightest stars in the entire universe.


The photo above is of my grandma and grandpa and was taken by my Uncle Dean when they were 45 years old (and he was 19). It was the first photo Dean had taken with an SLR camera – a used Nikkormat for $175. Related/unrelated, my uncle – Dean Landew – is a rock musician with a bunch of songs on the Radio Indie Alliance Top 10. You check out his music here.

This week’s news has makeover artists, football players, and monks. Read on.


Country House and Angel 37 paired up to offer a no-catch free Thanksgiving dinner on Monday. (KX Net)

Patrons of the Heavens Helper’s Soup Café in Bismarck were treated to a limo ride and makeovers, courtesy of Glance Salon. (KFYR TV)

The North Dakota State College of Science football team – including their 49-year-old defensive lineman, Ray Ruschel – are playing for the NJCAA DIII National Championship next week. (Not The Bee)

The entire town of Hankinson is celebrating Cody Mauch as he heads to the NFL. (Fargo Forum)

Elementary, middle, and high school students in Fargo filled the Fargodome with food donations for the Great Plains Food Bank. (Valley News Live)

In “holy crap” news, a Colgate farmhand survived being trapped in a bin for an hour. (Grand Forks Herald)

Did you watch the Artemis One launch last week?  If so, you marveled at the efforts of the UND and NDSU students who helped make it happen. (KFYR TV)

El Belfour – a former UND player and one of the five winningest goaltenders in NHL history – suited up for a rec game in Grand Forks last week. (Grand Forks Herald)

Here’s a cool photo of some early ice pillars near Tioga. (Facebook)

The monks of Assumption Abbey in Richardton pulled out the sleds for a little snowy fun. (KFYR TV)


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Seven and the Grasshopper Egg | October 26, 2022

This past Saturday, Kyle took our eleven-year-old deer hunting (or, rather, he took him stand-sitting because the only thing they bagged was some magical father-son bonding time).  Kyle also wanted to bring along our seven-year-old, which I nixed because Seven is not a fan of quiet, or sitting, and especially not quiet sitting.  For example, Seven and I went to see the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile in the theater a couple of weeks ago and mere seconds after he finished his popcorn he leaned over and said in what I suppose could be considered a whispered tone but was more of a shouted volume, “Let’s go home.”

ME, in a for-real whisper: We’re going to stay and watch this movie.

SEVEN, whisp-yelling: But I don’t feel good.  I need to go home.

ME: Why don’t you feel good?

SEVEN, shoveling in a fistful of fruit snacks: My stomach hurts.

ME: If your stomach hurts, you need to stop eating fruit snacks.

SEVEN: The fruit snacks are making it feel better.

ME: Have some water and watch the movie.

SEVEN: I’m allergic to water.

[Thirty seconds pass.]

SEVEN, holding his general calf area: Ow!  I think I broke my leg.  I need to go home.

ME: You broke your leg sitting in that chair?

SEVEN: I broke it earlier, but it hurts now.

ME: You’ll need to rest it.  Good thing we’re at the movies.

[Thirty seconds pass.]

SEVEN: I need to go to the bathroom.  Don’t come with me. [Runs out of theater on broken leg]

Seven went to the bathroom eight times during Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.  He watched exactly five straight minutes, which happened to be the final five minutes – after which he announced it was “his favorite movie in the world” and spent the next forty-eight hours singing all of the songs, which he somehow miraculously heard and retained.

As a consolation for being withheld from deer hunting, I offered Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile’s Biggest Fan a variety of some of his favorite non-quiet/sitting activities, including the pumpkin patch, laser tag, and the trampoline park.

Here’s another thing about Seven: he marches very much to the beat of his own drum.  As another example, Seven has announced every single day this school year that it was the BEST DAY because he learned about the Titanic and how chicken nuggets are made.  At his Q1 conference, his teacher told us no, they hadn’t yet learned about the Titanic or chicken nugget production – but speaking of learning, she’d really like to see Seven finish his own non-Titanic/nugget-related assignments before moving on to assist his classmates’ with their work.  When we brought up her comments to Seven later that evening, he said, “Did you know a cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes?”

Anyway, when provided with a list of non-deer hunting fun options (funptions), Seven went predictably off-script and selected a walk from our house to the nearby gas station for ice cream.

It was an absolutely glorious day, and so we took our sweet time meandering to the ‘station – checking out Halloween decorations, pointing out birds, and, of course, crunching through blocks and blocks of fallen leaves.  Midway from Point A to Point I(ce Cream), Seven took to gathering a bouquet of the reddest leaves, which I, his loyal assistant, was allowed to carry for him.  Suddenly, he stopped.

“LOOK AT THIS,” he said, holding up a brown leaf with a teeny-tiny fuzzy ball on it.  “This is a grasshopper egg.”

“Are you sure?”  I said.

“Yes,” he said.

“Should we Google it?”  I said, surreptitiously Googling what the Internet quickly identified as not a grasshopper egg (inconclusive otherwise).

“No,” he said.

We continued, me with a handful of now-less-good leaves, him cradling this all-important proof of life.

“When this hatches,” he told me, “I will put the grasshoppers in my bug cage.”

“Wouldn’t it make sense to put it in the bug cage before it hatches?”  I asked.

“No,” he said.  “It will be too lonely.”

There were three other people – two shoppers, one employee – at the gas station.  Like any good dad would, Seven loudly announced to all in attendance, “Shh, these grasshopper babies are sleeping.”  Like any terrible mother would, I tried to gently undo his shushing by saying, “Oh, haha, no, everyone is fine.”  No one (including the grasshopper egg) seemed affected one way or the other.

I was put in charge of the leaf when we walked home because “I know about these things,” according to Seven (also, he was holding ice cream).  At the house, Seven put the leaf in the my car.

“What about the bug cage?”  I asked, skeptical that the answer was because the car was in the front yard (where we were) and the bug catcher was all the way in the back.

“That won’t work,” Seven said.

“Why not?”  I asked.

“Because,” Seven said.  “Did you know the first wedding cake was made out of bread?”

“What about the grasshoppers?”  I asked.

“Grasshoppers eat grass, not wedding cake, silly,” Seven said, marching into the house, humming the first bars of a Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile song.

The photo above was taken at the pumpkin patch the day after our gas station walk.  Seven, Eleven, and their friends spent two hours playing their faces off.  After it was over, we asked Seven his favorite part and he said, “The car ride.”

This week’s news has a grand marshal and a doughnut walk. Read on.


Watford City’s Olga Hovet led the high school homecoming parade honor of her 103rd birthday (and 86th post-graduation year). As a side note, I’d like her to put out a beauty guide because if that lady is 103 then I’m a fairy princess. (KFYR TV)

There are so many fun (and free) Halloween events going on across the state – like at Bonanzaville, where kids can participate in old-timey games like a doughnut walk. (News Dakota)

Garrison’s Mike Matteson is the recipient of the AARP’s most prestigious volunteer award, given to one North Dakotan annually. (Minot Daily News)

Happy 100th to the largest mill in the country! (Facebook)

An update to a previous news item: the Meyhuber Family won their episode of Family Feud. (KVRR)

Dickinson’s Tessa Johnson is the only nurse to be inducted into the North Dakota Nurse Hall of Fame in the past 35 years. (KFYR TV)


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A whole to-do about zucchini | October 5, 2022

This is one of the best times of the year, isn’t it? The leaves are beginning to change, the air is crisp but warm, everything is covered in pumpkins and apples (the two cutest fruit), and everyone looks great in autumn sunshine. Sometimes I’ll walk out into this perfection and think, please make this one day last for three weeks. Like, let it be this exact Monday for three weeks, and then tomorrow it will be that exact Tuesday for another three weeks, and so on until January, when we can have five normal-length days of snow and then roll right into spring. I’d really like that.

Speaking of fall, North Dakota is thick into harvest.  When we moved to town last year, Kyle brought two parts of the country with him: A spot for Kyle the kids to pee outside (SO GREAT LOVE THIS SO MUCH NEXT I’M GONNA STICK A TOILET IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LIVING ROOM SO EVERYONE CAN GO WHENEVER THEY PLEASE), and a very large garden plot.  Kyle’s garden plot at the new house is almost the same square footage as the one in the country – which was size-appropriate when we had six acres but a little aggressive in town.  That’s okay, though, because I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a point in history when a farmer has looked at their crop and thought, “You know, this is just too much food.”

Kyle spent a couple of weeks in the early spring tilling up the corners of the yard and building garden boxes, and then one solid day planting all sorts of vegetable and fruit seeds in neat rows.  That night, he took me outside to show off his hard work.

“Here are the sunflowers,” he pointed proudly.  “And here are the beets.  And here are the cucumbers.  And here, and here, and over there, and over there are the zucchini.”

“Oh, boy,” I said.  “That’s a lot of zucchini.  How much zucchini did you plant?”

“The whole packet,” he told me.

“Ohhh, boyyy,” I said in that high-octave tone a person uses when their friend tells you they are going to get their face tattooed to look like Frosty the Snowman.  “Remember the last time we planted the whole packet of zucchini?”

The last time we planted a whole packet of zucchini, we ended up with a lot of zucchini.  Here’s the thing about zucchini: it’s not universally beloved.  It’s the broccoli of the squash family.  Actually, it’s the squash of the squash family because most of society can only eat so much squash before it’s like, “Hey, let’s stick this on the front step for decoration.”  Kyle and I had the university president out to the (country) house and forced him to take a trunkful of zucchini home with him and then he announced he was leaving UND a year later, which was not a coincidence.  Even the food pantry couldn’t give it all away.

For the past month, we have been awash in zucchini.  Awash.  Then, this past weekend, Kyle announced that it was time for Kosior Harvest; he was pulling the garden.

“Head’s up,” he said.  “There are quite a few zucchini still out there.”

“How many?”  I asked.

Nine.  There were nine giant zucchini, each roughly the size of three normal-sized ones.  No matter, I told Kyle, I had a plan.  I would turn them all into zucchini bread.  While zucchini is not a fan favorite, everyone loves zucchini bread – especially our children (who won’t eat it if they think it’s zucchini bread but will fight one another for every piece if we say it’s banana bread; so, if you ever come to our house and we serve you banana bread, there’s a 99% chance it’s zucchini bread).  We would be awash in zucchini bread.  Awash.

Except here’s the thing – I don’t do well with long projects.  For example, I am a great taper but a terrible house painter because I will tape the trim on a room and think, “Meh, I’m done.”  I went through a knitting phase where I completed fifty scarves and still have an unfinished blanket – my very first project – shoved in the shame corner of my office closet because I got a couple of feet in and went, “Meh, I’m done.”

On Sunday morning, I woke up and announced to the world that I would spend the day making loaves of zucchini banana bread.  My seven-year-old offered to help, and so we got out all of the stuff necessary to shred zucchini: a cutting board and knife (to cut the zucchini), the Cuisinart (to shred the zucchini), the strainer (to strain some of the water out of the zucchini), and two bowls (one for the straining zucchini, and one for the strained zucchini).

Our process was this: Seven would go out and get one zucchini.  I’d peel it and chop it into Cuisinart-sized chunks, and then Seven would run the shredder.  While I was emptying the Cuisinart into the strainer, Seven would go outside for the next zucchini.  We did this four times before Seven, true to his birthright, said, “Meh, I’m done,” and wandered off to go play.  Ha ha, that scamp, I laughed to myself as I finished off the other five zucchini.  I cleaned up the kitchen, washed all of the equipment, took out the garbage, set out the ingredients and loaf pans for zucchini bread, and thought, “Meh, I’m done.”

I spent the next half-hour Googling, “How long can shredded zucchini last in the fridge” (one week), and “How to use up twenty pounds of shredded zucchini” (zucchini bread) before giving in and making one double batch (four loaves).  While those four loaves were baking, I packaged up all of the rest of the zucchini into ziplock bags and put them in the deep freeze “to use later.”

“You can substitute shredded zucchini for oil in most recipes,” I told Kyle as he hauled out 900 bags of shredded zucchini.

“Oh, boy,” Kyle said.  “Maybe I’ll plant even more next year.”

“Ohhh, boyyy,” I said.

The photo above is of me and my zucchini bread.  I don’t know why I’m smiling like a nutjob; maybe because I had just spent five precious weekend hours dealing with zucchini.

This week’s news has baseball players, tree planters, and axe throwers. Read on.


Ballers in Devils Lake raised money (with a baseball tournament, in case my nickname wasn’t obvious) for families in need of financial assistance. (Devils Lake Journal)

The city of Bismarck, with the help of Boy Scout Troop 6, will be planting 150 trees in celebration of the city’s 150th birthday. (KX Net)

In close-enough-to-North-Dakota Nice news, Native Artist Laura Youngbird has installed a new piece called “Mishipechu” in Breckenridge. (Wahpeton Daily News)

Competitors from 23 states were AXE-ing (get it) to win the first “Far Thro” axe throwing tournament in Fargo. (Valley News Live)

Mandan’s Ty Breuer is headed back to Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo. (KFYR TV)

Grand Forks’ “Way Cooler Than You Think!” website is an international award winner. (Grand Forks Herald)


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