Postcards from the middle | October 13, 2021

Kyle recently came back from a work trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“How did it go?” I asked.

“Great!”  He said – and then, forlornly, “But I couldn’t find any postcards.”

Every single time Kyle travels, he sends a postcard.  By “a postcard,” I mean upwards of a dozen of them.  And by “travels,” I mean if his head hits a pillow that is not his own, it counts as a trip – including once in Grand Forks when we booked a hotel room because we were having some work done at the house.

His recipient list varies; it’s usually a handful of family members plus whatever addresses he has in his head at the moment.  He decides how many postcards he’s going to send by how many he buys, and he typically buys eight or so wherever he sees them being sold.  The last time we were in Arizona, for example, he ended up with approximately forty postcards because we went to a park that had as many gift shops as tourist attractions.

He doesn’t write much – “We are in Arizona, and it’s 95 degrees.  This postcard has a cactus on the front because you’re pretty fly for a cacti.” – and he never expects a card in return.  Every once in a while someone will send one back on their own travels, and he will read it several times before hanging it in a place of prominence either by his bedside or in his office.

Kyle’s two biggest postcard fans are named Harrison and Louis, and both are under the age of five.  Kyle once sent Harrison a postcard with a frontiersman on the front, and that little fella was absolutely convinced that said frontiersman was Kyle and carried the card around for a week.  Louis, on the other hand, wants to immediately travel to whatever place the postcard is promoting.

I fell in love with Kyle, in part, because of postcards.  I had just started my current job (I’m a marketing director) and was asked to host a booth at an aviation conference and trade show in Minot.  Instead of the usual promotional items, I decided that I would print up a bunch of postcards with my firm’s logo and pithy taglines (“Making Magic in the Magic City!”) and let people “mail” them via a (very cute) mailbox (that I spent a very long time building).  At the end of the show, I would stamp all of the postcards and send them off to their lucky recipients.

What I failed to consider was that a bunch of North Dakota aviators would have had career opportunity to send postcards from all sorts of exotic and amazing places, and would henceforth be less inclined to communicate their positioning from a town in which they either A) lived or B) could travel to without needing to stop to go to the bathroom.  I mailed one postcard from that conference – to myself, with a note that read, “Amanda: next year, bring sunglasses clips.”

Kyle and I met two months later.  Our first weekend away was up to (exotic and amazing) Winnipeg, where we attended the Festival du Voyageur, ate Thai food, and stopped at a store so Kyle could get some postcards.

“Do you like postcards?” I asked him, wary that he had been secretly one of the attendees at the aviation conference and was low-key teasing me.

“Oh, yes,” he said.  “I always send a postcard to Uncle Buddy.”

Kyle’s paternal great-uncle was a gentleman named Dominic, who everyone called Uncle Buddy.  Uncle Buddy contracted polio as a boy and lived in a care home most of his life.  After she married my father-in-law, my mother-in-law, Jean, took to mailing Uncle Buddy a postcard whenever the family went on a vacation.  Uncle Buddy was pretty much non-verbal, but he liked the postcards so much that he called Jean “Postcard.”  When Kyle moved to the United States, he also started sending Uncle Buddy postcards – tossing a few extra in the mail for his grandpa, parents, and brothers at the same time.

So, I married him.

Fast-forward to now, it turns out you can order postcards on the Internet.  A few days after his return from Pittsburgh, Kyle received a pack of Pennsylvania postcards and immediately turned around and sent them to their intended recipients – putting a little memory of Uncle Buddy and Jean out into the universe once again, too.

If you would like to receive a Kyle postcard, send him a message on Twitter.  His handle is @ICKyleK.  The photo above is of Kyle with some of the postcards he’s received.

This week’s news has whooping cranes, “manure on the court,” and the Northern Lights.  Read on.

Wabek’s – or rather, the town formerly known as Wabek – Hunter Andes is raising money to preserve the ghost town’s school building. (KX Net)

Keep your eyes on the skies this week as migrating whooping cranes make their way across North Dakota. (AP News)

The Prairie Village Museum now has a new Germans from Russia Heritage Center to celebrate North Dakota’s “largest ethic immigrant group.” (KX Net)

The Rotary Club of Wahpeton Breckenridge filled a bus with 8,249 pounds of food for the food pantry (plus over $1,000 in cash) with a whopping 7,000 of those pounds coming from Econofoods. (Wahpeton Daily News)

Grand Forks got quite the light show on Monday night courtesy of a once-in-360-days aurora display. (Grand Forks Herald)

This is a sweet little anecdote – entitled “A little manure on the court won’t stop the farm athlete” – about what it’s like to grow up a farm kid. (Fargo Forum)

North Dakota has seen an 8% increase in racial diversity over the past decade. (Grand Forks Herald)

Mums | October 8, 2020

I absolutely love autumn’s orange mums, and I absolutely cannot keep those mums alive.  Every year I come home from the garden center filled with hope and a pot of chrysanthemums.  Using every bit of knowledge known to man and Internet, I lovingly care for my mums every day, and then toss out their withered and brown remains two weeks later.

This year after a vase of cut flowers lasted longer than my mums, I decided to throw in the trowel and replace our fall décor with something a little less likely to die.  Specifically, hay.

I came to this decision totally on my own when I was at home both browsing Pinterest and watching our neighbor hay his field.  My husband was in town, and so I called him up to, you know, “Say Hay.”  Here was our conversation:

Me: I’m going to decorate the front stoop with hay bales.

Kyle: Sounds great.

Me: I need you to pick me up some bales.

Kyle: No problem.

Me: They will probably have them at Michael’s.


Me: I’ll text you a coupon.



Kyle: Do you care if I get them somewhere else?

For some unknown reason, my normally very-easygoing-of-a-shopper husband will go out of his way to avoid stepping foot into Michaels (or any of its competing craft stores).  I can only assume he’s afraid the scrapbooking materials will become sentient, band together, and transform into some kind of papercutting Godzilla.  That, or he doesn’t like mini shopping carts.

In this case, though, his feelings on hay-related shopping had nothing to do with avoiding silk flower displays and everyone to do with the fact that he wanted the real deal: big, beautiful, genuine North Dakota hay bales.  Hay bales that we could use by the front door in the fall, and as seating at our outdoor hockey rink in the winter, and as ignition for a bonfire in the spring.

In less than an hour, he had found a hay bale hookup, and so we piled the whole family into the truck to take the 5-minute drive to Reynolds to pick up some hay (and ice cream).  We pulled into a farm site piled high with golden-green bales.  Kyle and the owner chatted a bit about harvest-y stuff while our five-year-old ran around to get out his sillies, and then together they loaded up as many $3 bales, no coupon required, as could fit in the truck bed.

Now our front door looks nice and cheery, I don’t have to worry about watering anything, our nine-year-old can (and does) use the stacks as an army base, and Kyle lives to tell the tale of another missed Michael’s trip.  A photo is above.

Speaking of nice, this week’s news has a lifesaving story that could be a scene straight out of a movie, Rugby’s first female driver, and a request for donated masks. Read on.

Grafton nurse Mary Jo Schapp was awakened by gunshots and immediately went out to help – first saving the life of Officer Lucas Campoverde at the scene and then driving the ambulance to the hospital. (Fargo Forum)

As if a new school year isn’t big enough news, the kids at Williston’s Lewis & Clark Elementary also donated 6,000 food items to area food banks. (KX Net)

Rugby’s Dale Niewoehner has honored Millie Holbrook with a gravestone marker to signify her role in the suffragette movement – as both a local business owner and the first woman to drive a car in town. (KX Net)

Students at Fargo’s Josef’s School of Hair, Skin, and Body cut hair for free outside of the area Salvation Army. (Fargo Forum)

Have any unused masks lying around?  The North Dakota Veterans Home in Lisbon is looking for 110 cloth masks for its residents. (KX Net)

Four Minot firefighters traveled to Oregon for three weeks to help fight the wildfires. (KFYR TV)

Did you know Highway 91 in Harvey is (probably) the shortest highway in the U.S.? (KFYR TV)

Dickinson State athletic trainer Colby Wartman is now one of only 130 Power Athlete Block One Coaches in the world. (Dickinson Press)

The UND Environmental Law Society will be showing 13 films for free from the annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival on October 22.  Register by clicking here. (Grand Forks Herald)

As you know, I love murals – and the latest Fargo mural is designed both for visual interest and to raise awareness in breast cancer monitoring. (KVRR)

Here’s an interesting fact: there are only three historic Danish Mills in all of the U.S. – and one of them is in Kenmare.  Last year, the inside of the Kenmare Mill caught fire, and the community came together to get it fixed up. PS – this is an older article, but now is the perfect time to go and visit this beautiful mill. (Kenmare News)

After a terrible harvest last year, it’s great to see that the 2020 sugar beets are coming in under perfect conditions. (Grand Forks Herald)

(Like the story above?  Check out last week’s tale of an Icelandic fishing trip.)

Nice news of the week – July 23, 2020

Did you know there are three astronomy clubs in North Dakota (Grand Forks, Fargo, and Bismarck) that offer viewing nights, star parties, and stargazing programs – and welcome visitors?

And did you know this week’s news is all about beautiful manicures, beautiful rocks, beautiful chalk art, and beautiful neighbors?  Read on.


With her grandmother’s cancer fight nearing its end, Kylee Helgeson wanted to make sure her grandma, Bev Ranum, had one more manicure – and so Ebony James, a CNA in West Fargo who is great at doing nails, stepped in to help. (Fargo Forum)

Horace’s Sarah Fisher has been placing “Donate Life” rocks around Fargo and Horace to help spread the word about organ donation. (KVRR)

The historic cattle route known as The Great Western Trail is now getting 6-foot markers, thank to volunteers in Bowman, Dickinson, and Medora. (Dickinson Press)

Rugby’s Larry Watson is about to see his North Dakota-based story come to life on the big screen, with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane starring in the November film. (Grand Forks Herald)

The Magic City Lions are donating nearly $30,000 to the Minot Zoo lions. (Minot Daily News)

Every year, Wahpeton kids come out to celebrate temporary art at Borderline Chalkfest. (Wahpeton Daily News)

Frenchie the Chinese greyhound has found a new home in Bismarck. (KX Net)

Watford City’s Tara Paul has been serving up free tamale meals to 40-60 area families out of her RV (at first – now she has a storefront). (KX Net)

The Fargo chapter of Box of Balloons has helped 10 area children celebrate their birthdays in style. (Fargo Forum)

Even COVID-19 can’t stop a mud run. (KX Net)

Hundreds of Bismarck and Mandan women have created an organization – called BisMan Power of 100 – to help support area organizations.  Their latest donation is helping the National Police Canine Association via the Bismarck Police Department K-9 Unit. (KX Net)

Fargo’s Paradox Comics-N-Cards is giving out free comics through September just to “make some people happy, bring them some normalcy.” (KVRR)

Belfield’s Scott Thompson has started a new career creating throwback t-shirts for North Dakota’s schools. (Dickinson Press)

Mapleton’s Brooklyn Gjevre returned from her latest open-heart surgery to find her yard decorated for her homecoming. (KVRR)

You don’t need a motorcycle to join the Northern Infidels bike club this weekend in a ride to raise money for suicide prevention. (KX Net)