International relations | September 7, 2022

The Kosiors are nursing a happiness hangover after a weekend visit from one of Kyle’s two younger brothers and his family.  As I’ve mentioned many, many (many) times before, the Kosiors are Canadian; and so, in addition to all of the normal things a person would do when they have houseguests, we also had the added activities of welcoming international travelers. 

“But The Simpsons called Canada ‘America Jr.!’” You may be thinking.  “Why would a trip to America be any different than going somewhere in Canada?”  Obviously, I’m gonna tell you.

Here are three things Canada and the U.S. have in common:

  • The continental landmass known as North America.
  • A proclivity towards “the weather” as a constant topic of conversation.
  • Democracy.

Here are three ways Canada and the U.S. are different:

  • Canada is a member of the British Commonwealth.  America is a member of America.
  • Canada’s official languages are English and French.  America does not have an official language (the unofficial language is ‘Merican).
  • The population of Canada in 2020 was 38.01 million people.  The population of California in 2020 was 39.35 million.

Those differences (well, excluding the French thing because everyone speaks the international language of social media) are pretty big distinctions.  For example, Canadians have the Queen of England and hockey players (their two monarchical governing bodies) on their money and they stick a silent letter U into words.  As another example, Canadians have their own Food & Drug Administration (called the Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and so their favorite foods and/or food-related ingredients are not the same as they are in America.  Canadian Campbell’s Tomato Soup, for instance, is sweeter than it is in the States.  In the U.S., we think of Smarties as little chalky discs.  In Canada, Smarties are hard-shelled M&Ms.

As such, when our Canadians arrived, the very first thing we did was the Ceremonial Transference of Food.  Kyle moved down to the States in 2004 and became an American citizen in 2020; and while you can take the Canadian out of Canada, you can’t make him pronounce the last letter of the alphabet as anything but “Zed.”  Same goes for food – his taste buds live physically in the U.S., but emotionally in Saskatchewan.  My sister-in-law thanked Kyle for our hospitality with a bagful of Kyle’s two favorite Canadian delicacies: Coffee Crisps and HP Sauce.  Coffee Crisps are what Kit-Kats would taste like if they were flavored with coffee and the thickness of a normal candy bar.  HP Sauce is a smoky, bitter barbecue sauce, and is to Kyle what ranch dressing is to Midwesterners in that he puts it on everything.  The pandemic hit Kyle hard in that he had to eat his food unadorned, so he was pretty excited to get not one, not two, but three bottles of HP.  As opposed to the Coffee Crisp, no one in our immediate family likes HP, so the three bottles should last him a solid year (less so if he goes on an unscheduled pork chop-eating binge).

The second thing we did was the Official Unveiling of the Cost of Alcohol.  I’m sure you’ve heard the stereotype that Canadians are unfailingly polite; but we rarely talk about their other skill: booze consumption.  If there ever was a Raiders of the Lost Ark-style drinking competition between an Irishman and a Canadian, my money is that the Canadian will still be sober enough to apologize to their opponent after they beat them handedly.

It’s pretty amazing that Canadians are able to imbibe as they do because alcohol is expensive.  As noted, the population of Canada is small but mighty, and so Canadians are taxed to their toques to pay for their healthcare and whatnot.  Alcohol is especially pricey – a 24-pack of Molson Canadian is $65 – because the provincial governments own all of the liquor stores.  So, when Canadians come to America, it is customary to take them to a liquor store so they can marvel at both the price and selection of alcohol.

Finally, the third thing we did for our Canadian brethren was the Pause for the Conversation of Information.  Canada is on the Metric System and the Centigrade Scale.  Also as noted, Americans and Canadians like to talk about weather.  Therefore, it was necessary in our chit-chat to allow time for all of the participants to convert the numbers shared into our respective languages.  Like this:

Sister-in-Law: I was driving down the road at 100 k [pause] the other day, and I looked at my temperature gauge and it was 30 [pause] degrees outside.

Me: Wow.  That reminds me of a similar day when it was 92 [pause] degrees and I was driving at 60 [pause] mph.

Our Canadians have now returned to their homeland, full of cheap beer and the memory of driving 120 k down the Interstate to Fargo.  We miss them already, especially now that we have eaten all of the Coffee Crisps.

The photo above speaks for itself.

This week’s news has Farmtokers, runners, and Watch DOGS. Read on.


Rolla’s Tim Mickelson is a popular member of Farmtok, reaching thousands with his videos about canola. (Ag Week)

After 30 years, Watford City’s Mitch Haugeberg is bringing his board game to the masses. (McKenzie County Farmer)

The first-even Fire & Iron “Take a Teacher Shopping” raised $6,500 and bought a lot of school supplies. (Devils Lake Journal)

Jamestown’s Russ Schmeichel is still inspiring runners 40 years after starting a running camp for cross-country enthusiasts. (Jamestown Sun)

The Emergency Food Pantry in Fargo is hosting a free picnic meal (with cake) today, September 7. (Fargo Forum)

Berg, Roosevelt, and Heart Elementary Schools in Dickinson are now home to Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students). (Dickinson Press)

I wrote a fun (“fun”) story about early holiday shopping. (North Dakota Nice)

Also, thank you to Area Woman for sharing my story about my inability to properly feed my children. My story about picky eating is in this month’s issue(Area Woman)


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).

Oh, did I tell you Kyle broke his elbow? Because he broke his elbow. | August 31, 2022

Five days before we were set to leave for Las Vegas, Kyle started limping.

“My Achilles’ is bothering me,” he said, wincing.

“How about some ice?”  I asked.

“No,” he said.

“How about some heat?”  I asked.

“No,” he said.

“How about some rest?”  I asked.

“No,” he said.

“How about a doctor?”  I asked.

“No,” he said.

The next day, he had devised a solution.

“I’m going to go play hockey tonight,” he said.  “I think I just need to stretch it out.”

“Maybe instead of hockey, you should try resting it first,” I said.

“No,” he said.

An hour later, I was sitting on the couch – I’m EXCELLENT at resting my body parts – when Kyle returned, nursing his left forearm.

“I think I broke my arm,” he said.

“How about going to the doctor?”  I asked.

“Okay,” he said.  And then,

“My Achilles’ feels much better.”

“Terrific,” I said.

Lo and behold, his Achilles’ had actually and miraculously healed itself.  Also, he had broken his elbow.  Fortunately for both our trip and Kyle, he didn’t require surgery, and didn’t need a cast.  The doctor’s instructions were simple: wear the sling, work the arm a few times a day, and don’t lift anything high or heavy.

That last rule has been a real problem for me because it turns out I’ve become pretty dependent on Kyle having two working arms.

Here’s an example:

Before we left for Vegas, I decided that we would share one giant suitcase instead of taking two smaller ones because I figured Kyle would appreciate having one free usable arm to protect himself from tripping and breaking another elbow.  This was a good plan in theory but less so in practice, as I am both short and only able to lift something above 50 pounds if I’m carrying it on my back and it’s the same size, shape and grippiness as my children.  Our enormous suitcase weighed exactly 50 pounds (we were nothing if not prepared for every outfit-related vacation scenario), and was so tall that I couldn’t hold the handle on the top while also gripping onto the bottom.  This meant that in order to get it into a vehicle, I had to squat on the ground and use my shoulder as support.  (In hindsight, I’m sure there was a better way to do this, but when I got married I not only stopped dating other men, I also stopped putting suitcases in cars.)  Las Vegas (and Kyle) will forever be changed with the memory of a small, sweaty Jewish girl hoisting a suitcase into an Uber like Atlas with his globe.

Here’s another example:

We have a number of items at our house that are above my eye level, but it’s never been that big of a deal because I’m married to the human version of one of those grabber things.  Except that now that grabber can only reach with one arm.  As luck would have it, all three of the light bulbs in our walk-in pantry burned out simultaneously, and the only person in our family who is both allowed to climb a ladder and has two available hands to twist open the light fixture and pull out the bulbs is this girl right here.  Which means that I have spent the last week using my cell phone as a flashlight to get the canned peas because the only time I remember I need to change the bulbs is when I’m in the middle of cooking something or typing this story and am otherwise indisposed.

The whole thing has been so much work that I’ve taken to “jokingly” asking all of our male friends to do things for me.  Just the other day, I tripped and one of those friends caught me.

“You have really strong forearms,” I said.  “Can you come over later and help me with something ha ha?” 

Then, after he looked really nervous and I realized he thought I was suggesting he come over and “help me with something” untoward, I said,

“No, no, I need you to move a table.”  And then he looked REALLY nervous and walked away.  Now not only do I no longer have a friend, that table is still unmoved.

Kyle feels badly that I am apparently incompetent at life’s simple activities, and so he’s been sneaking around trying to do things to help me out, like fold sheets out of the dryer or move tables.  This means I’ve had to not only do extra stuff – like LIFT SUITCASES OUT OF THE CAR AND CHANGE LIGHT BULBS – but I’ve had to anticipate his every move so as to ward him off.  We recently attended a hockey tournament in Fargo, and I was forced to wake up early because Kyle thought he’d surreptitiously put our son’s goalie bag (which is the equivalent weight and floppiness as an adult body bag) into the car.  After he was caught, he pretended to walk away and instead slipped out of the room with two heavy coolers.

We’re a few weeks away from the arbitrary “healed” date set by the doctor, and I’m marking the minutes off like a person would on a prison wall.  In the meantime, I’ve ordered a ramp to get things from the ground into the trunk of my car.

The photo above is of Kyle on vacation in Las Vegas.  You would not be surprised to hear that a great many people asked him what happened to his arm.  You would also not be surprised to hear that every single one of them was incredibly, deeply disappointed that it didn’t happen to him in Vegas.

This week’s news has a neighborhood greeter, an annual block party, and the Babe Ruth World Series. Read on.


In North Dakotaish news, the FM Legion riders honored Moorhead’s John Cunningham, who is best known for sitting outside his building waving to passersby. (KFYR TV)

The entire community of Jamestown throws an annual block party in order to welcome University of Jamestown students back to school. (Jamestown Sun)

Dr. Richard Faidley, the superintendent of the Williston Basin School District, goes around to all of the local and rural schools and says hello at the start of the school year. (KFYR TV)

Fort Yates now has a new mural thanks to group of Denver-based and local artists. (KFYR TV)

Speaking of murals, Fargo’s Lauren Starling has brought the world of Mario to the downtown. (Valley News Live)

Williston was the hot spot of baseball after hosting 48,000 people for the Babe Ruth World Series. (KFYR TV)

Finger’s crossed, it’s looking like it’s going to be a pretty successful year for North Dakota’s farmers. (Facebook)


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).

The Kitchen Scissors: A Kosior Mystery Series #204 | August 17, 2022

The sun was shining, the kids were happy, and it had taken me the good part of the afternoon to roll off my lawn chair in search of a snack.

“Grab me a glass of lemonade while you’re in there, will you?”  Kyle had said, his eyes closed beneath the book that lay open over his face.

In the kitchen, I made a big show about washing off an apple before shoving a handful of stale Cheetos in my mouth.  I opened the fridge and pulled out the pitcher of pink lemonade which, unsurprisingly, was down to the last tablespoonful.  Fortunately for Kyle (and all of the neighborhood’s little lemonade lovers who had left half-full glasses all over the counter), we had a secret powdered drink stash in case the need for a flash lemonade stand arose.  I dug it out of the back of the pantry, and went to retrieve the kitchen scissors to cut the plastic wrap off the container.

When we were wed, Kyle and I had been gifted a conch shell-shaped pewter salad bowl, a combination rice cooker-vegetable steamer, and a knife block filled with a variety of knives and a pair of kitchen scissors.  After sixteen years, most of the knives had been replaced (see Why is the Bread Knife in the Garage?: A Kosior Mystery Series #118), but the kitchen scissors lived on, shearing everything from shipping box tape to broken fishing line to any other manner of items that really didn’t belong in the kitchen and please take them out in the garage and stop right there, you don’t need the bread knife.

That is, of course, until that fateful Sunday.

I leaned out the patio door.

“Hey, where are the kitchen scissors?”  I called to Kyle.

“In the knife block?”  He replied, helpfully, as one would to a person who had never before been in her own kitchen.

I didn’t bother to look back at the knife block, where the spot for the kitchen scissors was void and dark.

“Nope,” I said.

Kyle took the book off his face.  “On the counter?”

“No.”

“In the fridge?”  (see Time to Put Away the Groceries and Oh Hey The Remote’s in the Vegetable Drawer: A Kosior Mystery Series #8, #71, and #119)

I checked the fridge.  Nothing.

“They’ll turn up,” Kyle said, as our youngest, Seven, came screeching into the yard with a bloody knee.

The next morning, I went to cut the itchy tag off of Seven’s t-shirt and found the kitchen scissors had not magically reappeared overnight.

“Where are the kitchen scissors?”  I asked his brother, Eleven, as he powered through his second bowl of cereal.

“I don’t know; Seven probably took them,” he said confidently.

“I did not!”  Seven shouted indignantly.  “You took them!”

“I did not!”  Eleven shouted back.

“He always BLAMES ME for EVERYTHING!”  Seven stomped on the floor.

“YOU ALWAYS DO EVERYTHING!”  Eleven waved his arm about his head as if to point to 100% of the objects and situations in the house and beyond.

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM HE’S BLAMING ME FOR EVERYTHING,” Seven burst into tears.

Twenty minutes later, after the required apologies and third bowls of cereal, I returned to the question regarding the kitchen scissors.

“Someone probably stole them,” Seven said, his mouth full of his brother’s Cheerios, which tasted better than his own.

“Why would someone steal them?”  I asked.

Seven thought for a moment.  “Because they needed them,” he said.

His point was irrefutable: The kitchen scissors were missing and no one in the house had allegedly moved them; the only possible scenario was that someone had broken in for the sole purpose of stealing the scissors and nothing else.  I was ready to order a standing bulletin board and mugshot printer so as to start my investigation of possible scissors thieves when Kyle appeared from his office and said,

“Maybe the scissors are in the basement.”

For all intents and purposes, the basement of the house had been turned over to our children and their friends.  Once a week, Kyle and I would ruin our sons’ lives by making them put away their toys and take down their makeshift knee hockey rink.  Then, after they were in bed, Kyle and I would go down and actually straighten up to my our liking.  It was in this second-tier clean-up that we often recovered items previously considered lost (or stolen – see The Case of the Missing Crapped-Up Flip-Flops: A Kosior Mystery Series #199) forever.  Maybe the kitchen scissors were in the basement.

Two days later, despite dozens of children and adults tromping up and down the basement stairs, no one had pointedly looked for the scissors.  Also, Kyle had temporarily replaced the kitchen scissors with his office scissors…so, you know, problem solved or whatever.

Finally, in an effort to reclaim his scissors and move on to more pressing matters (see The Adventures of the Wiffle Balls Which Should Be In The Backyard But Are Not: A Kosior Mystery Series #205), Kyle put our best man on the case: Seven.

“Hey, buddy, if you find the kitchen scissors we’ll get ice cream tonight,” Kyle said.

Seven immediately retreated to the basement and returned moments later, kitchen scissors in hand.

“I knew right where they were!”  He said proudly.  “Yep, right where I left them.”

It was an inside job, but the culprit was cute so we let it slide…this time.  For now, the kitchen scissors (and the bread knife) are back where they belong.

The photo above is of the scene of the crime.

This week’s news has a book written by a group of third graders, towns full of pollinator gardens and chalk art, and a Renaissance Faire.  Read on.


Led by their teacher, Tammy Gapinski, a group of Jamestown third-graders have published a book entitled, “Goodnight Jamestown” featuring local landmarks. (News Dakota)

Jim and Dale Nelson are displaying their family’s 100+ collection of clocks at the Dickinson Museum Center through the end of the month. (KFYR TV)

Minot now has five pollinator gardens – one in a roundabout – thanks to The Minot Pollinator Project. (KFYR TV)

The Red River Valley Motorcyclists recently donated over $40,000 to organizations for veterans and fallen law enforcement officers. (Grand Forks Herald)

For the past seven years, the streets and sidewalks of Dickinson have come alive with chalk. (Dickinson Press)

North Dakota is now home to our very own Renaissance Faire, and if you’re going to go you may want to consider a costume – check out the photos in the article. (Fargo Forum)

The Bismarck Larks’ first-ever “Kid of the Year” is a 12-year-old named Eva Brooke, who handed out “blessing bags” to homeless people in the community. (KFYR TV)

The all-volunteer Mandan Rural Fire Department is turning 60. (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).