Eight Short Stories | December 14, 2022

My sister and I recently surprised our dad with “the gift of our presence” by crashing our family chaos into his Austin birthday weekend getaway with my mom.  I love me a good Hallmark/-adjacent movie for the same reasons as everyone else – the snark, and the final kissing scene – and so I watched Apple TV’s The Eight Gifts of Hanukkah on the way to Texas.  As expected, it was a magnificent dumpster fire (at one point I laughed so loudly that my son, sitting three seats away across the aisle, shushed me); in part because the overall premise is that the main character falls passionately in love with a mystery man who sends her eight INCREDIBLY PERSONAL gifts, including “chocolate” and “a non-descript watch.”  In honor of Jewish girls everywhere aggressively vision boarding a scenario where a rich Jewish contractor (oh fer sure), a rich Jewish tech genius (more likely), a rich not-Jewish-but-supportive celebrity chef found on Tinder (a statistically improbable meeting but fine), and a rich Jewish partner in a law firm (I’m offended by this accurate stereotype) are vying for her affection, and in celebration of Hanukkah starting on Sunday, I would like to offer you eight of my own INCREDIBLY PERSONAL stories from the past few weeks.

One.

To keep ten people – including four boys ages 11, 7, 5, and 1 – occupied between meals, we sought the services of Pioneer Farms, a multi-acred living history museum in Austin.  At one point, I found myself at the 1886 Bell House with my own seven-year-old and my five-year-old nephew.  The Bell House was filled with volunteers in traditional Victorian garb, and one of said volunteers called the boys into the parlor.

“Hello, sirs,” she drawled.  “Would you like to hear a short story?”

“Sure,” Seven said, never one to turn down a good plop onto a vintage couch.  His cousin obediently joined him.

Once she was sure they were settled, the volunteer spread out her hoop skirt, positioned herself onto a wicker rocker, opened a time-worn version of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” – and began to read the slowest version of that story ever told.  The boys sat there patiently and silently for approximately 186 years, after which the volunteer gently closed the book and asked the boys if they had any questions.  Five raised his hand.

“Yes?”  She said, patting the book.

“Do you have any graham crackers?”  He asked.

Two.

My eleven-year-old was recently given the chance to write his holiday wish on a paper ornament and place it on a Christmas tree. Nestled amongst the “A puppy” and “An Oculus” wishes was Seven’s request: “World Peace, Hockey, and Deez Nutz.”

Three.

We took my dad to the Austin Museum of Ice Cream on his birthday, which was appropriate since I’m still not totally sure my dad likes ice cream.  The Museum of Ice Cream plays fast and loose with the term “Museum,” as it’s really just a giant pink+pink box (Blush and Bashful, for Steel Magnolia fans) of rooms for eating ice cream and taking pictures for Instagram.  The ice cream is, obviously, the centerpiece, and when we walked into the second room (the first room was where we got to name ourselves something related to ice cream and so Kyle picked Vanilla and we almost got divorced right then and there because the #1 thing Kyle and I argue about is whether Vanilla is a flavor – his contention – or an ingredient – mine) the hostess (whose real or ice cream name was Sweetie) said while pointing to an ice cream counter,

“There are four ice cream stations throughout the Museum, and you can eat as much as you want!”

Seven, the foremost expert in the Titanic and ice cream (unrelated), was first in line to get his ice cream.  As noted, we were there with several children and adults, and so by the time everyone got settled with their own scoops (minus my dad, because I really don’t think he likes ice cream), I looked around and realized Seven was missing.  We found him back at the counter, tucked into his second dish.

“What are the chances he pukes before he gets out of here?”  I asked my sister.

Well, he didn’t puke IN the Museum, but my dad – who, as noted, may or may not like ice cream – got to spend twenty minutes of his birthday in the bathroom outside the Museum with a grandson who had filled himself up with too much happiness.

Four.

Seven has recently started playing goalie.  At one of his most recent games, he took a puck to the face mask that came in so hard that it took off some paint.  Seven was obviously upset; and so, after he calmed down, Kyle told Seven that if he needed him for any post-injury reason, to call him over.  About a minute later, Seven beckoned to Kyle, who rushed across the ice to see what was the matter.

“Um,” Seven said.  “I think there is more land on Earth than water, since there is land UNDER the water.”

“Sounds right,” Kyle said, as Seven got himself back into position.

Five.

We flew home from Texas on the same plane as my parents.  My parents sat up in First Class – deemed a gift for the birthday boy by his adoring wife, who coincidentally loves so much to board and depart a plane as early as possible that we’re thinking she will become a jet bridge agent in her retirement.  Eleven was fascinated by the fact they were in First, and so my mother announced to him that she would let him sit in her seat for part of the trip so he could check it out.

With forty minutes left to go in the flight, the attendant came back and communicated that my mom was ready for the switch.  We had just gotten our snacks (we were basically sitting in the bathroom), and so Eleven felt the need to completely consume every last bite of cookies and every last drop of ginger ale before heading up to the front.  My mom came back with twenty-two minutes remaining.

“I’ll give him a bit to take in the whole experience, and then I’ll switch back because…” she searched for a reason that wasn’t ‘Because I want to get off first,’ “My suitcase is up there.”

“We’re going to be descending in thirty seconds,” I said.

“No,” she said, as the captain came over the speaker to announce our descent.

The seatbelt light came on.

“I’ll be right back,” she said, pushing past me.

She hustled up to the front of the plane.  Five minutes later, she was back.

“Dad’s going to bring my suitcase,” she said, and then, “He was having too good of a time.” 

“That’s nice,” I said.

Six.

Last month, as we were flying back from my grandpa’s funeral, I noticed Kyle was staring off into the distance, deep in thought.  I reached out and held his hand.

“You okay?”  I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“What are you thinking about?”

Kyle sighed.  “My rink,” he said, in reference to our backyard hockey rink, which was, at the time, a few ice pours away from being skate-ready.

Seven.

Every year, Kyle and I sponsor gifts for a family with the local domestic violence shelter.  I took Eleven with me to the Dollar Store to get a gift bag and some toiletries.  I told Eleven what we were doing there as we were walking in, and he was quiet as I loaded items up into the basket.  As I walked up to the checkout counter, he went sprinting off to one of the aisles – returning with two tiny packages of cocktail forks (like the kind you’d put into a tray of cocktail meatballs) and miniature dessert spoons.

“This family probably doesn’t have much,” he said to me.

“Probably,” I said.

“Well, they are going to need silverware,” he said, putting the forks and spoons in the basket.

“Yes, good point,” I said.  “Maybe we should get them regular-sized silverware, then?”

“But I thought you said they were kids?”  He said, deeply earnest.  “So they need little stuff.”

“Oh,” I said, putting the basket on the belt, imagining the next day when I’d deliver a bag of gift cards, shampoo, and cocktail forks to the center.  “Okay, sure.”

Eight.

In addition to historic structures, Austin’s Pioneer Farms was home to a number of barnyard animals, including several donkeys.  The boys were FASCINATED by the donkeys, and spent ten-plus minutes feeding grass to the donkeys (who were standing in six-inch grass in their pens).  As we were putting the boys to bed after returning to Grand Forks, Seven began to wimper.

“What’s the matter, buddy?”  I asked.

“I’m worried about Austin,” he said.

“Austin, Texas?”  I asked.  “What are you worried about?”

“Who is going to feed the donkeys?”  He cried.


The photo above is of my sister and me at the Museum of Ice Cream.  We are sitting in a pool of plastic sprinkles, naturally.


In Minot, members of 17 law enforcement agencies took 128 “awesome” (quotation marks not needed) kids shopping for Christmas. (Minot Daily News)

And in Dickinson, 17 law enforcement agencies shopped with 51 more cool kids. (Dickinson Press)

Bismarck’s Emersyn Decker is now the proud owner of a camper (plus s’mores supplies, pillows, and sheets), thanks to Make-A-Wish. (KFYR TV)

The University of Jamestown Jimmies are the 2022 NAIA Women’s Volleyball National Champions! (Facebook)

There’s one day left to “Stuff the Bus” in Bismarck in support of Aid Inc. (KFYR TV)

Sydney Menne, a student at the University of North Dakota, is one of only 40 students to receive the prestigious Marshall Scholarship for study at the university of her choice in the United Kingdom. (Grand Forks Herald)

Watford City’s Saiorse the dog is being celebrated for saving her family from a house fire. (McKenzie Counter Farmer)

Hot diggity dog – the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile is coming to Minot! (KX Net)

An anonymous donor in Stanley paid all of the student lunch debt right before Thanksgiving – and, as you can see from this article, there is still time to help in other districts. (Williston Herald)


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The Turkey King | November 30, 2022

Holy buckets, tomorrow is December.  Please say a prayer for Kyle, whose wife wouldn’t let him put up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving.  I know that “Christmas tree timing” is a hot topic and I really have no opinion except that I am in possession of a bunch of Thanksgiving décor and am Toy Story-aware of the feelings of my box of paper mâché turkeys.  As always, my sweet husband tries to be mindful of the fact that I, too, have a holiday by suggesting we also display Hanukkah decorations, which…what would that be?  A baby pool filled with oil?

Speaking of oil, this American Thanksgiving Kyle deep-fried our turkey.  I say “American” because this was our second deep-fried turkey in 2022 (and ever); we also had deep-fried Canadian Thanksgiving turkey, and that’s what I’m going to tell you about today.

As I’ve said in the past, Canadian Thanksgiving is exactly the same as American Thanksgiving, except that it’s on a Monday in October and it’s Canadian.  This year, we decided to invite our eleven-year-old’s hockey team to our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner because their fall hockey season had recently ended and, more importantly, they are our friends.  They are so much our friends that 1) I didn’t even bother to clean the house before the party (meh, they’ve seen it), and 2) when we sent the invite everyone immediately RSVP’d with the food they were going to bring, even though at no point did I say it was a potluck, because that’s what friends do (and especially what hockey friends do).

Our guests ended up volunteering so much stuff – including their own chairs – that all I needed to provide was the turkey.  I did some quick math and figured that adults-plus-players-plus-siblings meant we could have up to fifty people, and so I would need two turkeys.  No problem, I said to Kyle, I would make one turkey on Saturday (the day before the dinner) and one on Sunday (the day of).

“We’ll be out of town Friday and Saturday for a wedding,” Kyle reminded me.  “Do you want me to see if someone else can do a turkey?”

“No,” I said, mindful of the fact that if I didn’t make the turkeys I would be nothing more than a guest at my own soiree.  “I’ll figure something out.”

Here is The Something I figured out: I would get up early and roast one turkey at 8:00am, and the second at noon.  I quadruple-checked the turkey weights and cooking times, and was 1000% solid on the fact that I could get two turkeys roasted and carved by the 5:00pm dinner.  Plus, I’d have the back-up meatballs (if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I always make back-up beef), which would go in the crockpot and wouldn’t be subject to any oven-related issues, should they appear.

The Thursday before the party, as I was packing up for the wedding, Kyle said to me,

“Oh, I told all the dads about the wedding issue and they said we could deep fry one of the turkeys.  It would be much faster, only 45 minutes.”

“But we don’t have a deep fryer,” I said.  “And we don’t know how to deep fry a turkey.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Kyle said with a wave of his hand.  “The dads and I got this.”

Normally, this would be the kind of last-minute laissez faire that would be ripe for a-fightin’ – but, as noted, these were our friends and I knew they would never leave me uncooked…nor would they care if things didn’t go perfectly.  Also, back-up beef.

“Sounds good,” I said.

Sho’nuff, by Sunday morning my patio was graced by one of the dad’s deep frying equipment.  Kyle moved it into the garage while I got the first turkey in the oven.

“Do you know how to set up a turkey deep fryer?”  I asked him.

“Probably,” he said.  “We’ll do it after hockey.”  (OH YEAH, I forgot to mention that; the boys had a skate directly before dinner.)

“Is that enough time?”  I asked.

“Yes,” he said.  “It only takes 45 minutes.  We’ll come here after hockey at 4, set up, and have the turkey ready to eat by 5.  We got this.”

“Sounds good,” I said.

Turkey #1 was done right at noon.  I pulled it out of the oven as Kyle set down his coffee and started arbitrarily injecting and rubbing Turkey #2 with random objects.

“Are you supposed to do that?”  I asked.

“Yes,” Kyle said.  He held up the injector.  “This was in the box.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to roast it?”  I asked.

“Yep,” Kyle said.  “We got this.”

“Are you sure…” I said, pointing at the empty oven, and then, “Sounds good.”

Since I had a few extra hours on my hands, I pulled up YouTube because I figured it might be helpful if at least one person in the Kosior household was educated on the turkey frying process.  After sorting through a LOT of content about house fires (one of our guests was a firefighter, so that was his problem), I learned that the oil had to be heated before the turkey went in.

“The oil needs to be heated before the turkey goes in,” I said to Kyle as we cleaned up from lunch.

“Oh, okay,” Kyle said.

At 2:30pm, as Kyle was pulling out of the driveway for hockey, I shouted,

“Do you want me to start the oil while you are gone?”

And Kyle shouted back, “Nope, we got this.”

“Are you sure…” I shouted back, but he didn’t hear me.

Or maybe he did – because, twenty minutes later, I heard shuffling out in the garage.  Our next-door neighbor (and party guest) was maneuvering the deep fryer onto a makeshift platform out the side door.

“Kyle said you were a little worried about time,” he said, dumping the oil into the pot.

“I’m a little worried about all of it,” I said.

“Not to worry,” he said.  “We got this.”

“So I’ve heard,” I said.

Kyle was the fourth dad to arrive at the house after hockey.  By that point, the first three dads – including the neighbor – were standing around the deep fryer looking at the temperature gauge.

“’Bout ten more degrees,” one of them said.

Another one tapped his hand on the side of the pot to confirm.  “Yep, gettin’ there.”

The third nudged the stand with his toe and said, “Yep.”

Kyle, who had been wandering around the garage, took that “Yep” as his cue to go into the house.  He emerged a few minutes later with an apron, gloves, and the turkey on the fryer stick(?  Grabber?  Unknown).  He lowered the turkey into the deep fryer with the confidence of a man who had kerplunked a turkey in oil thousands of times before and was not doing it for the very first time without watching a single YouTube video – and then immediately wandered off again.  His spot was replaced by two more dads, who also looked at the temperature gauge.

Those five dads stood around the turkey for forty-five minutes.  At the end of the forty-five minutes, Kyle appeared from wherever he was, lifted the turkey out, set it on a cutting board in the kitchen, and, again, disappeared into the night.  The five dads, plus two more, came inside as I was taking the turkey’s temperature.  It was 15 degrees shy.

“It’ll get there; let it rest,” my neighbor said.

“Put it in the oven,” another dad said.

“Let it rest, then put it in the oven,” another dad said.

They stood around debating it for the next ten minutes – during which the turkey’s temperature got to its appropriate degree.  As per his M.O., Kyle came back from the mall or whatever and carved the turkey.  It was delicious.

That night, after we hadn’t cleaned up because everyone else had already done it, Kyle said to me,

“Deep-frying that turkey was really easy.”

“Easy for who?”  I asked.

“Yep, pretty easy,” he said, ignoring me.  “I’m going to do it for American Thanksgiving.”

“Better put the dads on speed-dial,” I said.


The photo above is of Kyle and his dad holding up the walls of the garage while the American Thanksgiving turkey was in the deep fryer.  It, too, was delicious.

This week’s news has a Toy Farmer, a real farmer, and a lot of nice people looking to make the holidays bright for seniors and families. Read on.


The Grand Forks Santa Claus Girls are at it for the 106th year, delivering 1,400 gift packages to low-income families around the community with the help of donors such as Deeks Pizza. (Grand Forks Herald)

A management class at Mandan High School cooked up Thanksgiving dinner for five Roosevelt Elementary families. (KFYR TV)

Speaking of Thanksgiving, the Jamestown community put on its 31st free Thanksgiving meal, distributing 1,060 drive-up dinners. (Jamestown Sun)

Live in Fargo?  Home Instead is looking for donors to help purchase 500 gifts for isolated seniors this year. (Valley News Live)

Live in Grand Forks?  Alexis Kringstad is putting together gift boxes for area elementary school families and is looking for dollars to make it happen. (Grand Forks Herald)

A mobile meats lab is making its way around southwest North Dakota to teach kids about ag careers. (KFYR TV)

Happy 111th birthday to Fargo’s Helene Sandvig! (Fargo Forum)

Kyle sent me this article with the note, “This guy is my hero.”  Dickinson’s John Jaeger is 92 years old and still farming…with his vintage equipment. (Dickinson Press)

This is the story of Toy Farmer magazine, which has been publishing from LaMoure since 1978. (Grand Forks Herald)


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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)


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