Live, Lake, Love | June 8, 2022

In a surprising move, I made a last-minute Friday decision to take my family to the lake for the Memorial Day weekend after our expected houseguests cancelled their visit.  It was surprising because I am not known for my spontaneity – when I first met Kyle, I told him that I wouldn’t go to the bathroom without a ten-minute warning – and also because I AM known for using free time for small projects such as sandblasting and repainting the entire exterior of the house.

Kyle, who is actually spontaneous, is always so happy when I say things like, “I just bought 200 feet of wallpaper,” so when I called him over the lunch hour about my unplanned plan, he was all in.  When we spoke he was in the garage preparing to leave for a meeting in Fargo, so he delayed his departure for five minutes in order to throw a duffle bag, the fishing rods, and tackle box in his truck while I booked a room at a lakeside resort a few hours away.

I finished work at 5pm, and spent the next hour running around like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep in order to gather up everything the boys and I would need for the trip.  Just as I was shoveling the last of the suitcases and children into the car, it dawned on me that I had forgotten something…goggles.  I ran back in, congratulated myself on being me, and hit the road for our weekend o’ fun.  We stopped for a Fargo fast food dinner and to pick up Kyle (who parked his truck at our friends’ house), and pulled into the resort a little past bedtime.

Our ten-year-old had used the drive to map out an elaborate activity schedule (the trip was Friday to Sunday, so Saturday was our “only” day), which was so action-packed that I wasn’t sure we would have enough time for a bathroom break, let alone a ten-minute bathroom break warning.  The grand finale was a pontoon rental/fishing trip at 5:30pm, which meant all of the other events needed to happen in a timely manner so as to get the family to the dock by 5:15.  Ten was recounting his schedule for the two-hundredth time when I opened a suitcase to get Seven some jammies and realized that the thing I had remembered I had forgotten was not the goggles – but was in fact, my underwear.

Growing up in the 80’s, clean underpants were a very big thing.  Like your American Express card, you’d never leave home without it.  We don’t seem to be concerned with this anymore, so either the results of dirty skivvies never manifested themselves or we are a lot less disgusting without Aquanet.  Regardless, old rules die hard; and so when I mentioned my predicament to Kyle he said, “No problem, we’ll have breakfast in town and you can grab some then.  It’ll be quick.”  He may have also mentioned something about wearing bathing suits for the next two days as an alternative, but I had stopped listening at that point and also I wasn’t going to do that.

Now, I don’t know if you know anything about resort town shopping, but if you are in the market for a sign that reads “Live, Lake, Love,” then you are IN LUCK.  If you want to buy ladies’ undergarments, however – well, it turns out a lot of people wear their bathing suits because it took me eight stores to find any.  I did, of course, find a pair of boxers that said, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” that I was going to get for Kyle because of its inspiring and worldly mantra but then remembered our tight timeline and moved on.  I was also pointed towards a tableful of nursing bras; close, but no cigar.  I should note that in the time it took me to procure two pairs of ‘pants, Kyle and the boys bought a cricket bat and ball, a hockey t-shirt, a novelty plate set, Taco Bell-flavored sunflower seeds, a USB hairdryer, and a hand humidifier.

We got back to the resort – a ten-minute drive from downtown – an hour behind schedule.  No problem, we told Ten – we would just cut a little bit off of each activity to get back on track.  This great plan worked exactly never because all the activities were so much fun that we had to drag both boys away after several gentle calls for, “We’re leaving now.  Okay, we’re leaving NOW.  Okay, NOW we’re leaving now.”

By 5:05, we had accomplished exactly half of Ten’s program; but ‘toonin’ time was nigh, so we rushed back to our room to grab the fishing gear.  As the boys were arguing over who was going to carry the Taco Bell-flavored sunflower seeds, Kyle casually mentioned, “Oh, right, I forgot to get bait.”  Ten froze.  No problem, we told Ten, once again – we would buy some from the guy renting the pontoons.  This was a resort!  Obviously, they would have bait.

The resort did not have bait.  “There’s a place downtown that probably sells it,” the suntanned young man at the ‘toon shack told us.  And then he mentioned the same store where I had purchased my unmentionables (it was a very versatile retail experience).  “We’re good,” Kyle said.

We were good.  It was an absolutely perfect evening – 70 degrees, blue skies, and not a mosquito or a lick of wind for twenty miles.  It turns out that both fish and little boys like beef jerky, because that’s what we used as bait and it worked.  When we packed everything back up into the car the next morning, Ten declared it “our best vacation ever” (and Seven declared that he wanted ice cream) so I guess we’ll have to schedule in some more spontaneity in the future.

The photo above was taken on the pontoon and includes me, Kyle, the Taco Bell-flavored sunflower seeds, and my new underwear.

This week’s news has a life-saving senior and a bowler named Maddy A.  Read on.


Manvel’s Robert Kennedy is a humble hero thanks to a quick-thinking Heimlich maneuver, which saved Curtis Carlson. (Grand Forks Herald)

The Bottineau VFW has been putting out flags – over 500, to be exact-ish –for a Memorial Day and Veterans Days Parade of Flags. (KX Net)

This particular article is for Bismarck, but I know many of the school districts in North Dakota are offering free lunches – and for some, breakfasts – over the summer. (KFYR TV)

Valley City’s Madison Anderson is in the 8th grade and will soon be rolling in a national bowling tournament (and you should click on the article just for the photo because it’s really cute). (Valley City Times-Record)

Bismarck’s Dylan Wetsch now has a new friend named Canam thanks to Make-a-Wish North Dakota. (KFYR TV)

Looking for a little light reading?  Check out my latest story on summer scheduling in the latest issue of Area Woman Magazine. (Area Woman)


Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

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Parking Like You’re the Only Car on the Lot | March 2, 2022

We have reached the point in winter in which North Dakotans adopt the age-old adage, “Dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, and park like you’re the only car in the lot.”  From the months of April through December, a driver will identify an empty gap between two uniformly-striped parallel lines and maneuver their vehicle so it is placed between those two lines.  From January to March, however, it’s less “neat and orderly lines of cars” and more “uffda, whatever.”

There’s a mathematical equation for when this occurs, which is [Amount and Color of Snow + Number of Previous Days Below-Zero] x [Everyone’s Feelings of Doneness in Regard to Winter].  When that result is greater than the number of Midwesterners traveling to Arizona, Florida, or Mexico, society’s laws of parking no longer apply.  Many people think it only has to do with the amount of snow on the ground – I mean, how can you park in a spot when it’s under an unmolded snowman? – but in actuality, a North Dakotan will actually attempt to remain within the (invisible) lines until it gets so cold that their car auto-start becomes self-aware and just keeps itself running 24 hours a day.  After that, it’s Jeez, Louise to any semblance of order.

This is perfectly fine.  In my opinion, once your car is covered in a semi-permanent layer of snunk (snow and funk) and you’re worried about breaking a hip every time you set a foot on the ground, parking is the least of your concerns.  I mean, technically, if you put your vehicle into Park, your car is parked.

Plus, if we really think about it, we North Dakotans are cool with parking like we’re the only ones on the road because we are comfortable with everyone driving in a similar fashion.

When Kyle and I first moved out to the country, all of our neighbors welcomed us with both open arms and a warning: “Don’t speed through Thompson.”  What they meant was that we shouldn’t go more than one mile an hour over the posted speed limit anywhere on Main Street – because (back then) Thompson had one policeman, and he didn’t have a whole lot to do.

If you don’t count the millions of “Drive carefully”s and “Watch out for deer”s we hand out like tatertots to one another, that Thompson speed trap warning was probably the first and only rule I’ve ever received about driving from a fellow North Dakotan (who wasn’t employed by the DMV or one of my parents).  This is because North Dakotans are generally good with whatever is happening around them at any given time – driving or not – so if someone wants to go 10 MPH in a 40…well, they are probably early for a luncheon or uncomfortable on ice and should take their time.  You betcha.

(If you’re like, “Ha ha, that Amanda, always exaggerating” – well, here’s an exact instance of that happening:

I used to live in Boston.  Boston drivers are the exact opposite of North Dakota drivers, and so when I moved back to Grand Forks I brought with my Nokia flip phone, my framed poster of the Patriots winning the Super Bowl, and my burning desire to go Mad Max on anyone in my vehicular way.  I was driving downtown to see my grandfather, and I found myself in an unusually long line of cars going 10 MPH on a major thoroughfare.  I swung my car out into the other lane – it was a two-lane road – and zoomed past a whole bunch of completely unaffected drivers who were totally fine with this unexpected slowdown.  Finally, I reached the first vehicle, putt-putting along without a care in the world.  I got my hand ready for the honkin’ of a lifetime – and realized it was piloted by my own grandfather.  He waved.  I waved back, and slowed down so that I could resume my spot in the back of his line.)

We North Dakotans are also fine with driving like we are the only car on the road because sometimes we ARE the only car on the road.  Our former house in the country was off of a long, straight gravel way that was used more as a way to split sections of farmland than as an actual vehicle bypass.  Kyle and I were holding down our driveway with two lawn chairs one Sunday afternoon when a truck passed by on the gravel.  Ten minutes later, another truck drove by, followed closely (or like another ten minutes) by a car.  “We have to move to town,” I told Kyle.  “The traffic out here is getting ridiculous.”

Anyways, springtime is in the air.  Soon the snunk will melt and we won’t have to think (or not think) about parking anymore – because everyone will be stuck in road construction on the way to the lake.

I was going to take a picture of the grocery store parking lot, but I didn’t want someone to see their car and think I was teasing them.  So, instead, the photo above is of a Fighting Hawk (not THE Fighting Hawk) at a recent UND hockey game.  He felt appropriate for this story somehow.

This week’s news has Consequences of the Soul and Youthful Yetis.  Read on.


Valley City students earned 371 feet of duct tape, which they used to adhere their principal to the wall. (Valley City Times-Record)

A dozen quilters in Bowman created their own fabric expression of the book, “The Book of Lost Names,” and those quilts are now on display at the Bowman Regional Public Library. (Bowman County Pioneer)

Bismarck’s Abigail Meier is representing North Dakota in the National Art Honor Society’s Consequences of the Soul virtual art gallery. (KX Net)

Austin Covert and Ryan Nitschke, two chefs in Fargo, are semifinalists for prestigious James Beard Awards. (KVRR)

Minot (/Scandia) artist Andrew Knudson will be painting live at a joint event by the Minot Symphony Orchestra and the Taube Museum of Art. (Minot Daily News)

Congratulations to Norma Nosek, Wahpeton Daily News’ Citizen of the Year! (Wahpeton Daily News)

And congratulations to Samantha Vosberg, the Richland County’s New Monitor’s Citizen of the Year! (Wahpeton Daily News)

Dickinson’s Youthful Yetis rode 200 miles in a month in order to raise $4,300 for St. Jude’s. (Dickinson Press)

Shorty | November 17, 2021

I am a 5’2” full-grown human, which is a perfectly good size.  It was a perfectly good size when I lived on the east coast, where either the quantity or average height of other fully-grown humans was seemingly closer to the neck of the body woods of my own.  It’s a perfectly good size now that I’m living back in the land of the Norwegian giants, even when I find myself in a conversation in a group of lovely hockey moms and I realize I’m talking to a bunch of shoulders.

There are a lot of benefits to being shorter than the average bjørn.  I’m like a compact car; I fit in every spot.  When I was growing up, that spot was often the front middle seat of the car.  Whereas other people pay extra for airplane seats with leg room, everything to me is leg room.  Also, I can wear children’s clothing sizes, which means there is absolutely no limit to the amount of glitter and sequins available to my wardrobe.

I get my height from my paternal grandparents, and in comparison to them I’m a real size success story.  Neither of my grandparents scaled the 5’ mark; my grandfather had to sit on a phone book to see over the steering wheel of his vehicle.  “Small and mighty,” as my father – who continues to tower over all of his Silverman relatives at 5’7” – liked to say.  I think we all had a little more hope that I would be “mid-sized and mighty” when I stretched into the 5’ range in the fourth grade and became a top scorer on the basketball team…that is, until the fifth grade, when I ran smack into both my adult height and puberty and spent the rest of my school days (bleaching my mustache and) cheering on the basketball team from the bottom riser of bleachers.

My (not Norwegian, but Polish) Kyle is 6’3”; a 13” height difference.  To put that in perspective, I am 11” taller than my six-year-old.  If you are thinking Kyle and I probably look like a father and Benjamin Button daughter when we slow-dance together, you are right.  While our size differential lends a whole new meaning to dancing “cheek to cheek,” it’s usually quite convenient on a day-to-day basis.  For example:

We have a large clear plastic tray.  We bought it to carry food from the kitchen to the grill.  That tray dutifully ferried hot dogs and hamburgers for a number of years and is now ready to be retired to a place outside of our house that rhymes with “becycling benter.”  I threw away gently placed that tray in the garage, only to find it the next morning being used by the aforementioned six-year-old to eat Cheerios in the basement.

“Fine, we can keep it,” I told Kyle, “But I don’t want to see it.”

He thought about that for a second, and then slid the tray on top of the cabinetry over the refrigerator – completely out of my eyesight.

“Perfect,” I said.

Like I said, our height differential is usually quite convenient.  He doesn’t need a ladder to change a light bulb; I don’t need to bend down to tell if our kids have brushed their teeth.  Our move, however, has posed a few interesting challenges.

Kyle is VERY lucky to have a wife who is so interested in how our house is furnished.  He’s also VERY lucky to have a wife who has put together a specific checklist of projects for Kyle to (kindly) accomplish in said furnishing of said house.  And he is VERY lucky to have a wife who uses that checklist to relay instructions such as “Hang this picture at eye height.”

I was walking down the hallway near the boys’ bedrooms the other evening when I realized something was amiss.  I checked the light fixture; working fine.  I checked the carpet; carpet-y.  It was then that I realized that all the pictures on the wall were just above my forehead – right at Kyle’s eye height.

Later, we were in what can only be described as our windowless bunker (the home of a treadmill and Kyle’s law school books) standing in front of the newly-hung mirror (seriously, he’s VERY lucky) that I had marked out on the wall for installation.  I turned to admire his handiwork.

“Stand up straight,” I said to him.  He did, and the top of his head was cut off in the mirror.

“It’s okay,” he said.  “I can’t use this room anyway because of the light” – referencing the fact that the fixture I had picked out cast its light just above his nose.

Anyways, we swapped out the fixture for a nice, flat flushmount and moved all of Kyle’s books up to the top shelf of our bookcases (which I can’t reach without standing on a book, appropriately) and we left both the pictures and the mirrors in their places so that both of us are equally convenienced/inconvenienced by our relative sizes.

The photo above is of one of the pictures in my ten-year-old’s room.  You can see Kyle’s reflection (at eye height) in the reflection.

This week’s new has an Unstoppable Mission, a relocated bridge, and a Nanotyrannus.  Read on.


A Bismarck woman named Emily Lang is gathering up toys in memory of her daughter, Presley. (KFYR TV)

Hankinson’s Dr. Magan Lewis was a featured guest on CBS’s “Mission Unstoppable,” which “celebrates women who have become superstars in STEM.” (Wahpeton Daily News)

North Dakota is the fifth “most charitable and giving” state in the country – and the fourth for volunteering and service. (KX Net)

Stark County is adopting a “Waste not, want not” mentality in repurposing an historic bridge as a fairway – get it, “fair”way – through the Stark County Fairgrounds. (Dickinson Press)

Grand Forks’ James Han Mattson’s horror fiction story, “Reprieve,” has been named a Publishers Weekly Top 10 Literary Fiction Title. (Grand Forks Herald)

Five area veterans now have beautiful new quilts thanks to the Valley Quilters Club. (Valley City Times Record)

Hillsboro’s Candice Monroe has published a children’s book filled with eleven short stories about topics parents and kids can discuss together. (Hillsboro Banner)

Jamestown’s Bruce Berg has donated 50 books from his baseball book collection to Jamestown Middle School. (News Dakota)

In “when one North Dakotan shines, we all shine” news, Dot’s Pretzels has been sold to The Hershey Co in a $1.2B deal.(Fargo Forum)

Only five Nanotyrannus skulls have been found around the world – including one in North Dakota. (Bowman County Pioneer)