North Dakota Ghosting | September 14, 2022

If you live in the upper-half of the United States and spend any amount of time on social media, you know that there is a long-running online conversation on the “Midwest Goodbye” – which is appropriate, as the Midwest Goodbye basically never ends.  In the words of a Tweeter (Twitterer?) named APHSarah: “A Midwest Goodbye is saying goodbye 20 times and standing around talking for another half hour while slowly inching your way out the door.”  The stages of Midwest Goodbye are such common practice – slapping your knee and saying “Welp;” engaging in at least two rounds of handshaking/waving; warning of impending weather and/or deer; moving your guests into your home and making them a legal part of your family – that you can actually buy t-shirts that say, “I survived the Midwest Goodbye.”  Kyle and I once held our visitors hostage for so long that we had to stop our farewelling and serve them a meal.  Fer real.

However, I’m not here to talk about the Midwest Goodbye.  Instead, I think it’s time to shed light on its quiet, subtle, 100% socially-accepted workaround: North Dakota Ghosting.

My eleven-year-old played in a hockey tournament earlier this spring; and so, naturally, all of the parents gathered outside the hotel to have a chat once the kids had gone to bed.  We had organized our lawn chairs in a large circle, as per lawn chair law.  As the evening ticked on, one-by-one a person would stand up, say they were going to the bathroom or to refill their cooler, and pick up their chair and leave the group.  Each time this happened, the remaining participants would shuffle their chairs closer together without breaking conversation or commenting on the individual’s departure. 

Finally, there were only a handful of us left.  Two of the dads – let’s call them Mark and Casey because I don’t feel like texting them to see if I can use their real names – were telling a story about a recent fishing trip.  Midway through the tale, WHILE HE WAS THE ONE SPEAKING, Mark rose, picked up his empty cans, folded his chair, and started to back away.  Then, with one foot in the parking lot, Mark said something like, “And you wouldn’t believe how surprised Casey was,” and disappeared into the night.  As Casey recounted his aforementioned reaction, I watched as Mark drifted in and out of the streetlights like Bigfoot through the forest.  A perfect North Dakota Ghosting.

North Dakota Ghosting is an ideal exit scenario because 1) unless you have been stuck in an entryway for so long that the homeowners feel they should feed you, saying goodbye generally stinks; and 2) North Dakotans like to leave their options open.  If Mark had returned twenty minutes later and sat back down with a wedding sheet cake and a single fork, no one would have mentioned it (if he had brought a handful of forks someone would have probably said, “Got some cake, huh?”).

There is a slight art form to North Dakota Ghosting.

First, you have to decide to leave.  This is difficult for North Dakotans because we are generally fine wherever we are, so needing to move from one perfectly good place to another is seemingly pointless.  Therefore, you have to say to yourself, “Self, I am going to depart.”

Second, you need to identify a direct route to your exit.  There’s no greater opportunity of being stuck in a Midwest Goodbye than to wander around the universe checking out someone’s new tires or grabbing a snack for the road.

Third, you need to move with purpose.  Not quickly; that would be concerning.  Not slowly; that would be super weird.  The best North Dakota Ghostings are accomplished with a confident, yet casual, stroll.  Something that says, “I have to pee, and I’m gonna make it.”

Fourth, you can’t let anyone stop you from your path.  If Casey had shouted to Mark, “What was the name of that guy with the fish?”  Mark’s only course of action would either be to completely ignore the question, or to point in the direction of Casey as if to say, “Hey, there you are,” without ever breaking stride.

Finally, you need to wait an appropriate amount of time (up to one day) to communicate with the people you recently ghosted so they know you are alive.  This is typically done with a text saying, “That was fun, let’s do it again.”

My little sister lives in North Carolina, and so we generally only meet in person a couple of times a year.  It sucks.  It especially sucks saying goodbye because she and I know it will be a while before we see each other again.  Therefore, our goodbyes are hefty; in fact, we’ve made it a habit to starting them a day early to speed up the actual exit.  We should really take a cue from our homeland and just – walk out.  Then, when we meet again several months later, we can pick up from where we last left off as if no time had passed.

Speaking of which, this story has come to an end, so…welp…

The photo above is of me was taken by Kyle on our daily (eveningly?) constitutional.

This week’s news has inline skaters and the Queen’s pen pal. Read on.


Park River’s Adele Hankey, born on the exact same day as Queen Elizabeth II, exchanged annual birthday cards with the Queen for 70 years. (Grand Forks Herald)

The North Dakota College of Science Wildcats have a new 49-year-old nose guard named Ray. (Valley News Live)

The 11th annual Rollin’ on the River Inline Marathon in Grand Forks attracted 100 skate-and-bicycle racers from across the US and Canada. (KVRR)

Hay there! (KFYR TV)

The Wahpeton community raised $13,000 for the Out of the Darkness walk. (Wahpeton Daily News)

Ope, Norsk Hostfest is looking for volunteers. (Minot Daily News)

Grand Forks’ Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux are being inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame. (Grand Forks Herald)


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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)


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Giant Boulder | July 20, 2022

I received a bike for my 12th birthday.  My 12th birthday was important in that it was PRE-teen, meaning that I only had 365 days left to cast aside any youthful nonsense so as to stride confidently into teenagerhood.  My super rad childish bike had a banana seat, basket, and pegs on the wheels, none of which would do for a nearly-thirteen-year-old.  My birthday bike, on the other hand, had a tiny seat, multiple gears, and a water bottle holder for all of the waterbottling I was sure to do in junior high.  It was a Giant (make) Boulder (model), named as such because it was meant to deftly glide over enormous mountains (unrelated, I also assume Fred Flintstone’s car was a Giant Boulder).  It was teal, as that was the only legal color in 1992.  It was tall, sleek, streamer-free, and very grown-up.

It was so grown-up, in fact, that I rode that 1992 teal Giant Boulder directly into adulthood.  And by “adulthood,” I mean right now this second, as it is still currently my bike.

Based on the amount of teasing I’ve received about my 1992 teal Giant Boulder bike you would assume that I had actually invented the bicycle and was riding around on one of those really early numbers with the oversized wheel in the front and a French clown hanging off the back.  But no.

Every Mother’s Day, my husband totes my 1992 teal Giant Boulder bike over to a bicycle shop for a tune-up.  And every year the bicycle shop employee tells him, “That’s a really old bike.”  While I assume most bicycle shop employees can identify the make, model, and vintage of any two-wheeled vehicle based on the length of its center post or whatever, it doesn’t take a technical expert to know my bike is old.  It looks old.  Both of the brake levers (presser-inners?) are cracked.  The seat is missing its gel pads.*  The shape looks nothing like the ergonomic masterpieces of today.  Also, it’s teal.

However:

First off, there’s nothing actually the matter with my Giant Boulder.  There’s never been anything the matter with it.  It’s never thrown the chain.  It’s never slipped a gear.  When I push on the pedals, it moves.  When I press the brake levers, it stops.  It clicks when it’s supposed to click, and doesn’t squeak when it’s not supposed to squeak.  I see no reason to get a new bike when I have a perfectly functional 30(0,000,000)-year-old bike sitting in the garage.

Especially since:

Second, and possibly more importantly, it only has about 400 total miles on it.  Wait, did I say 400?  I mean 40.  While most people use their bikes for health and wellness and triathlons and family time, my Giant Boulder is really only used to get me to and from food.  Usually, it’s ice cream; although last weekend I rode it down to the Farmer’s Market and bought a crepe (my husband and kids were also with me and we did other things, too, but that crepe was pretty good).  Additionally, we live near a coffee-and-beer shop so sometimes we bike over there “for the exercise.”

And yet, I’m drawn to those fancy beach bikes that have become all the rage.  The other day I saw one with a banana seat, basket, and pegs in the spokes of the wheels and I thought, “Man, I’d look super rad on that thing.”  It was sparkly sea glass blue – which may sound like teal, but is totally different.

But then I remembered that everything else that I owned in 1992 is in style, and so I assume my Giant Boulder will soon once again be on the cutting edge of cool.  Martha Stewart has already told me that teal is the new sea glass.

Plus, if I ever enter a triathlon, I’ll need a place to put my water bottle.

*Obviously, the photo above is of my Giant Boulder (and also my bike, wocka wocka).  Kyle reminded me that this is my second bike seat.  My first one was so skinny that I was worried I would one day go over a bump and the seat would never be seen again, so Kyle replaced it with one large enough for a grizzly bear to sit upon.  That one has finally worn out and has become loose (the bike is rejecting it).  I’m thinking I may upgrade it to an actual chair bolted to the frame.

This week’s news has four baseball players and a Dot.  Read on.


Belcourt’s Braedan Grant, Evan Grant, and Louis Monette, as well as Dunseith’s Corben House, were selected to play in the first Native American All-Star Baseball Showcase in Atlanta. (KFYR TV)

Bismarck’s Isaac Anderson was one of 88 high school students selected to be a part of the John Philip Sousa National High School Honor Band – and, no big deal, he was named the principal alto saxophonist of the band. (KFYR TV)

Jamestown’s Shirley Meidinger posthumously donated $200,000 to the Alfred Dickey Public Library. (Jamestown Sun)

Congratulations to Hebron’s Maci Wehri – recently crowned Miss Agriculture USA! (Dickinson Press)

Dorothy – although if you live in North Dakota, you know her as Dot – Henke sat down with the Minot business community to give some advice to new entrepreneurs. (Fargo Forum)


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