Buy me some peanuts and Whiskey Jacks | June 17, 2021

Our nine-year-old played two sets of double-headers last Friday and Saturday.  On Sunday, we naturally decided to detox after hours upon hours of baseball by taking our two sons and a friend to a Wheat City Whiskey Jacks baseball game.  The Whiskey Jacks played the Badlands Big Sticks at Kraft Field, which is apparently known to our family as “that place with the concession stand” because the boys ate their way through the entire experience.

In the first inning, the Whiskey Jacks and Big Sticks each scored two runs.  We had come to the ballpark directly from dinner – and by “directly” I mean that one of the kids was still chewing it as we found a parking spot – and so the three boys got six two-for-$1 Freeze pops for dessert and I had a frozen Snickers because I was standing in line anyways.

In the second inning, both the Whiskey Jacks’ and Big Sticks’ pitchers hit a batter with a ball.  While getting beaned by an errant pitch is certainly nothing new in nine-year-old baseball (one of the kids on Nine’s team had the luck of being hit twice during a single game the previous weekend) the kids were beside themselves with excitement that it could happen to the big boys, too.  Shouting “OOOOOOOOH” and “THROW STRIKES, PITCHER” made our six-year-old thirsty, so Kyle stopped by the stand to buy him a bottle of water.  Six went along “to go to the bathroom” and came back with a bag of popcorn.

In the third, the Whiskey Jacks’ second baseman got a double and did a little celebration dance on the bag.  The dancing made our sons’ friend realize that if he didn’t spend the $5 his mother had given him, he would still have $5.  Fortunately, the concession stand was willing to trade it for a soda and a bag of chips.

In the fourth, a different Whiskey Jacks pitcher hit one of the Big Sticks with a wild pitch after a contentious “was it, wasn’t it” foul ball situation.  The boys’ friend had trouble yelling, “OOOOOOOOOH” with a mouthful of chips, which reminded Six that he was “starving.”  When offered a hot dog or a hamburger, Six revealed that he wasn’t that starving, “only chippie hungry.”  It was also in this inning that Nine and the friend gathered enough research to determine that the handful of fly balls that had left the playing field had tended to go in every direction except the one in which we were sitting.  When I pointed out that most people prefer to be away from the path of fly balls, Nine and Friend decided to leave the park and hang out around the concession stand in order to nab one.

“What are you going to do if you catch a ball?”  I asked.

“Play with it,” Nine said.

“But we have a whole bucket of balls at home,” I reminded him.

“Ugh, Mom,” he said.  “These are different.”

At the top of the fifth, the Whiskey Jacks took out the Big Sticks 1-2-3.  A little boy sitting in front of us was eating a giant hot dog.  The hot dog had other ideas, and slowly slid out of the bun and onto the ground.  The little boy took a look at it, shrugged, and went back to eating his bun.  Nine had returned briefly to initially announce that he, too, was “only chippie hungry” – elevating his declaration after the hot dog incident to “maybe hot dog hungry.”

In the sixth inning, the Whiskey Jacks’ batter hit a drive directly to the Big Sticks’ pitcher, who caught it for the third out.  This gave us a chance to talk about how much that must have hurt, and how dangerous it is to be a pitcher, and how maybe I was “maybe hot dog hungry,” too.

We left at the seventh inning stretch because Six had circled around the concession stand menu and was hinting strongly at both another Freeze pop and a need for sleep.  Nine and Friend did not catch a foul ball, so they had to settle for bringing home only good memories.

“What was your favorite part?”  I asked as we got in the truck.

“I liked when the catcher got to run down the runner at third,” said Nine.

“I liked the home run,” said the Friend.

“I liked the baseball game,” said Six.

“And I liked when the pitcher didn’t realize it was a live ball,” Kyle said.  “What was your favorite?”

“The Snickers,” I said quietly.

The photo above is from the game, which ended 8-6 in favor of the Big Sticks.

This week’s news is about a really big garage sale, a pride of lions, and Pie Day.  Read on.

The 19th annual “Highway 21 Treasure Hunt” kicks off today (June 18) and includes 100+ rummage sales along a 100-mile route, going through Flasher, Carson, Heil, Elgin, New Leipzig, Mott, Regent, and New England. (Dickinson Press)

Grenora’s Ron Laqua and Joanie Ledahl have put together an online record of the stories of everyone buried in the local cemetery. (Fargo Forum)

Hillsboro displays 500 flags up and down the boulevard in honor of Hillsboro Days, Independence Day, Labor Day, Patriots Day, and Veterans Day. (Jamestown Sun)

Bottineau’s Lauren Vad has lived in South Africa for the last 6.5 years, and is now opening her own wildlife sanctuary (with four new lions!), named Warriors of Wildlife. (KX Net)

The Fargo Memorial Honor Guard will be honoring Navy veteran Brian Gordon Johnson, who served between 1976 and 1980 and will be the fourth veteran to go unclaimed and buried by the organization. (KVRR)

Seven-year-old Cooper Craig got to be a Dickinson police officer for the day (and stop a bank robbery!), thanks to Make-a-Wish North Dakota and the Dickinson Police Department. (KX Net)

Hillsboro’s Elise Jacobson is headed to Arkansas to compete in the Miss College America Pageant. (Hillsboro Banner)

Pie Day is back at the Valley City Barnes County Public Library. (Valley City Times-Record)

Gefilte Fish | March 18, 2021

My heart belongs to the Fourth of July because it’s the day both my son and my nephew were born; however, in terms of actual festivity-related commemoration, my favorite holiday is the Jewish celebration of Passover.  Passover, which kicks off this year at the end of March, is the remembrance of Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt and (after a forty-year desert walkabout) over to the Promised Land.

Considering the story of Moses brings with it a lot of heavy topics – slavery, devastation, mass death, pyramids – Passover is one of our top two jazziest holidays.  It’s basically Jewish Dinner Theater.  It has Singing!  Plagues!  Wine!  Participation by Kids of All Ages!  Hide-and-Go-Seek!  The whole thing centers around The Meal, which we eat while merrymaking about swarms of locusts and a wave of water wiping out the Egyptian army – Yay, Plight!

The Meal is my favorite part of Passover.  While I’m guessing there are plenty of Jews who consume Passover food year-round, I use the eight days of the holiday to stuff in so much related food that I gross myself out of it until the following year.  And speaking of gross, I’d like to tell you about the most disgusting of my favorite Passover foods: gefilte fish.

When you think of universally-beloved foods, they are almost all made up of fish that has been boiled into mush.  Gefilte fish is conglomeration of white-colored fish mush mixed with matzah (a giant cracker eaten at Passover) meal and then smooshed into an oval or loaf shape.  It’s texture can be likened to a moist kitchen sponge and it’s odor is a strong blend of tangy, fishy sweetness – all big selling points when it comes to a gill-based food product.

You can typically find gefilte fish on your grocery store pantry shelves – nothing says meat-based protein like a lack of refrigeration! – stored in its trademark jar.  Gefilte fish is packaged suspended with carrot slices in urine-colored jelly, and there’s nothing like that sluurrrppping sound when you pry out a slab.  I eat mine with red horseradish.

Kyle is not Jewish; he is, however, a real mensch about being Jew-adjacent, especially at Passover.  The Passover seder is a multi-course meal with accompanying stage props, and Kyle has spent many-a-holiday running around Grand Forks in search of boxes of egg matzah and digging through the toy boxes to gather up rubber frogs.  He has participated in every part of the Passover celebration…save for the eating of the gefilte fish.  As is the case with other piscine delicacies such as lutefisk, people who actually consume and enjoy fish on a regular basis have trouble choking down a lump of gefilte fish.  For my dear husband, who will only eat fish if it has been breaded and fried past visual or taste recognition, it ain’t ever gonna happen.

We celebrated one of our first Passovers in our country house with my parents and my aunt, who drove up from Minneapolis and Denver, respectively, for the occasion.  There are a lot of benefits to being Jewish in North Dakota but procuring a large quantity of a wide variety of Passover food isn’t one of them, and so I gave both groups a list of groceries (seriously, red horseradish is really hard to find) so as to fulfill the seder and also sate my holiday palate for the rest of the year.

Kyle and I were setting the table in anticipation for their arrival when I realized that I hadn’t bought or requested any gefilte fish.  No matter, I thought, I’d seen a few jars around town and Kyle hadn’t been out on an errand in at least twenty minutes, and so off he went…only to return an hour later empty-handed.  Every store had been shopped clean.  I called my mom.

“We’re pulling into the driveway!”  She said.  “What’s up?”

I called my aunt.

“You don’t need to buy gefilte fish,” she said.  “We can just make it.”

Before the sun set, my kitchen was covered in groceries and two giant pots of boiling fish.  Kyle sat on a stool, trying to make light conversation without breathing through his nose.

“Here, Mandy,” my aunt said (she’s one of only two people in the world to still call me Mandy, which immediately takes me back to being eight years old, sitting in my grandma’s kitchen, drinking a Coke and eating chocolate chip cookies), handing me a spoon.  “Skim off the fish foam.”

At the word “foam,” Kyle left to take our baby out for a walk.

We made two kinds of gefilte fish – one “regular” and one flavored with salmon – and both were by far the best gefilte fish I’ve ever eaten.  My mom, dad, and aunt had one piece each, and I consumed the entire rest of the loaves.  The house and I smelled like gefilte fish for weeks.  The whole thing was so traumatizing for Kyle that when I buy a jar of gefilte fish now, he hides it in the back of the refrigerator so that he doesn’t have to look at it.  Passover is a week away, which is just the right amount of time for me to test out (my marriage and) my aunt’s gefilte fish recipe once again.

I’m not going to put a picture of gefilte fish on this story because there’s never been a delectable photo taken of gefilte fish at any point in the history of Judaism or photography.  Instead, the photo above is from last year’s Passover seder, which took place right after everything locked down.  I needed a roasted lamb shank bone for the seder plate and there wasn’t one to be had in town, so Kyle drew a little picture and we made fun of it for a minute.  Boom, roasted.

This week’s news has an app for farmland hunting, online art lessons, and Miss Basketball.  Read on.

Montpelier High School has received $15,000 in technology supplies after making it to the semi-finals of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest with their student-led initiative to create an app to make it safer for hunters on area farmland.  If they make it to the finals, they receive a total of $65,000; the national winner will get $130,000. (Valley News Live)

Jamestown’s Myra Klein has held free virtual art lessons for elementary-age kids every weekday since the beginning of the pandemic, and now she has been awarded an extra $1,000 for art supplies to keep her instructions going into the future. (Jamestown Sun)

Dickinson’s Jared Shypkoski has hooked a state record-catching 33”, 16.39lb walleye. (Grand Forks Herald)

KX does a regular featured called “Someone You Should Know,” and this one is particularly nice: a fellow named Cello who is new to Minot. (KX Net)

Congratulations to Hettinger-Scranton’s Sam Oase, winner of North Dakota Miss Basketball!  A fun fact: Sam is the first player from the school to win the award. (KFYR TV)

The headline says it all: New England’s Devin Wert is the SIXTH generation to harvest wheat on his family farm. (GS Publishing)

(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice?  Check out last week’s tale about mowing the lawn.)

Nice news of the day – December 10, 2019

Congratulation’s to Makoti’s Everett Dobrinski, who was recently inducted into the national Cooperative Hall of Fame!  Everett is only one of 177 people in the Hall of Fame, which honors cooperative farmers.

And you’re going to like today’s news – about a wall of purses, speedy service, and a hero of rural newspapers.  Read on.

I typically don’t put business philanthropic activities because there are so many (!) that they would overtake the news; however, this is a very clever way for a business to visibly support an organization and help individual people without asking for money. (KFYR TV)

Two weeks ago, I posted a story about how Fargo, Bismarck, and Williston are working to reduce wait times at the DMV.  Turns out Grand Forks already the process down pat; they have a zero-wait. (Grand Forks Herald)

Two North Dakota newspapers (Adams County Record and New England Extra) had to close due to loss of ad revenue, and so Jill Friesz, who owns the Grant County News and Carson Press, stepped in to save them.  I love what she had to say about it (Dickinson Press):

“Small newspapers will never die, because we are the heartbeat of the community,” she said. “It’s really important for people in these coverage areas to know that we are a local entity, that it’s a local person that is going to cover their community news. We are not a big company from out of state, we are a local North Dakota company.”