Come in, we’re clean | December 28, 2022

Of all the household chores, the one I like the least is washing dishes (the best is folding towels).  If I ever come into an inordinate amount of money, the first thing I’m going to do is replace my kitchen floor with one of those evil genius shark pits – but when you press a button and the doors slide open it’s going to be a giant dishwasher (in case it needs to be said, no sharks).  That way, when you are finished eating or cooking, you just drop the plate or pot into the floor.  This is an infallible plan.

In my college-ish days, my #1 requirement for an apartment was a dishwasher.  The realtor could have said, “Listen, it’s a two-bedroom, but one of you will need to sleep in the crow’s nest of a colonial pirate ship.  It also has a dishwasher.”  And my roommate and I would have been unpacking our collection of limited-edition Hardees dishware before you could say “Shiver me timbers.”

We spend every Christmas (minus Covid) at my father-in-law’s house in Saskatchewan, Canada, along with my husband’s brothers and their families.  If you include my own sons, our collection of limited-edition children is as follows: 14-year-old girl, 11-year-old girl, 11-year-old boy, 11-year-old boy, 11-year-old girl, 7-year-old girl, and 7-year-old boy.  This year, my wise sister-in-law took a look around at this group of able-bodied, highly-sugared goofballs and announced that the new Christmas tradition would be for the children to wash the Christmas Eve and Day dishes.  As opposed to the floor dishwasher which may still have some kinks to work out (like a standing platform), this was actually an infallible plan.

My wise 14-year-old niece did the type of quick calculations that only come with age superiority and realized that while Christmas Eve would just be a normal supper, Christmas Day would be a competition for how many different foodstuffs we could prepare and serve (and sometimes forget in the oven/microwave, also per Kosior tradition).  So, after the last few bites of Christmas Eve deliciousness had been crammed into the nooks and crannies of our tummies, my oldest niece volunteered herself and her 11-year-old sister to do the evening’s cleanup.

In the span of 15 minutes, my nieces were able to fit all of our dining tableware into my father-in-law’s dishwasher, handwashing and drying only a couple of pots and serving bowls before throwing in the proverbial and actual towel for the evening.  As they are both careful and trustworthy girls, my sister-in-law and I “helped” by sitting in the living room and not paying attention in the slightest.

The Christmas cooking started bright and early; and, even with regular cleaning throughout the day, my father-in-law’s kitchen was covered from floor to rafters with dishes by the time supper was over.  My sister-in-law reminded the children of their bound duties, and my 14-year-old niece reminded everyone of her efforts the previous evening and promptly wandered off into the night – which, in turn, reminded me that maybe the infallible plan still had some kinks now that the job was in the hands of two wild-on-life 11-year-old boys (who were a little TOO EXCITED about a sink full of soapy water) and their best-intentioned 7-year-old counterparts.

Chaos erupted the second those children stepped foot in the kitchen.  The big boys took over the sink, my son washing while his cousin dried.  My 11-year-old niece, absolved of any work, watched my son scrub the crap out of the outside of the potato pot while their cousin simultaneously filled the inside with half a bottle of Dawn before stepping in and taking over the drying (and management) before the train went completely off the track.  With both boys now washing, my father-in-law had to stop packing up the turkey (my brother-in-law and sister-in-law raised the 28-lb Christmas turkey, which was so large that it bowed the oven rack and needed to be legally declared its own land mass) and turn to mopping since every inch of the kitchen was receiving its own deep clean due to the amount of water flying about. 

Meanwhile, my sister-in-law and I tried to get the 7-year-olds to help us put away the leftovers – and then, after they dumped more of the corn and carrots on the floor than in the Tupperware, sent them to load cups in the dishwasher – and then, after they ran out of cups and started putting very-soapy-and-wet-but-clean servingware in the dishwasher (much to the chagrin of the sink masters), gave them the job of watching a movie in the other room and staying out of the way entirely.

After either twenty minutes or 200 hours, the big kids hung up their sopping (similar to what one would find at the bottom of a swimming pool) wet towels and headed to the basement for a much-earned knee hockey tournament.  My father-in-law finished scooping the last of the soap bubbles off the floor, and my sister-in-law and I corralled the rest of the leftovers into the bulging fridge. We sat down at the table with caesars in hand to toast our success.

“To a new tradition,” my sister-in-law said.

“And a job done,” my father-in-law said.

“Shiver me timbers,” I said.


The photo above is me standing on Main Street in Kyle’s hometown of Fillmore, Saskatchewan – and if you’re wondering why I’m not wearing my trusty hot pink snowpants, it’s because it was 30 degrees.


After installing a Santa Mailbox on his lawn, Grand Forks’ Nate Bertram has responded to hundreds of children (and delivered a few presents) over the past three years.  This is my favorite line from the article: “‘It’s exciting,’ Bertram said. ‘And I don’t just write two sentences back to them; it’s a full page.’ In the evenings, after his wife and daughter have gone to bed, ‘I write ’til I’m falling asleep in my chair.'” (Grand Forks Herald)

If you haven’t done it already, follow the Stutsman County Facebook page – where one of its staffers draws all of the daily news and updates. (Facebook)https://www.facebook.com/StutsmanCounty

In North Dakota-adjacent news, a restaurant in East Grand Forks now has a five-item “Community Kitchen Project Menu” where a person can come in and order a free meal. (Valley News Live)

Students at St. Marys Academy in Bismarck made 80 fleece tie blankets – and collected warm clothing – for those in need. (KX Net)

Anonymous donors dropped not one, not two, but THREE gold coins (worth $3,606) in kettles around Fargo. (Fargo Forum)

Two Minot gymnastics teams played Secret Santa to residents at a local retirement home. (KFYR TV)

After a major snowstorm, UPS driver Nathaniel Hunt put out a Facebook post to help get all of his packages delivered in time for Christmas. (Facebook)

Leonard’s Rhonda and Eric Klubben spent their 60th birthdays on the Today Show (and won a Dyson Airwrap). (Valley News Live)

The Hoselton Farm in Drayton is home to a team of reindeer, raised just for the purpose of bringing holiday cheer. (KFYR TV)


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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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