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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We are here to tell you your opinion | June 22, 2022

For those of you who don’t live in North Dakota, North Dakotans justify the fact that we deal with cold winters because the trade-off is absolutely glorious weather the rest of the year.  This spring, however, has been a little…inconsistently glorious…compared to others; and yesterday we celebrated the first day of summer with a preceding week that could best be described as “Windy as all get-out and hot as the sun.”

The air temperatures and speed seem to be North Dakota Normalizing (Is that a thing?  What do we normalize here – bars as both a dessert and a main dish?) to its expected perfection; but while it does, I thought I’d do a We Are Here to Tell You Your Opinion (click here if you don’t know what I’m talking about) on a few TV shows for you to consider watching when you’re inside taking a break from all the summer-ness.  All of these shows are pretty easy on the brain; let’s call them the Beach Watches of Television.

REACHER

Kyle started Reacher (Amazon Prime) because he read the Jack Reacher book series by Lee Child and was excited for the television adaptation.  I started watching Reacher because Alan Ritchson is handsome and I wanted to look at him.  We ended up bingeing the entire first season over the period of a week, during which we learned 1) Alan Ritchson is from GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA which is obviously why he’s my brand; and 2) Reacher is a fun – if you consider gratuitous violence “fun” – action series similar to Criminal Minds, except that Jack Reacher is a nomadic vigilante supported by the law, instead of being the law itself.  Viewer beware: In addition to the violence, there are a couple of nudie scenes.  Here’s the trailer.

WELCOME TO FLATCH

Full disclosure: I didn’t want to start watching Welcome to Flatch (Hulu) because it looked too cornball-y for me.  I only gave in because we had finished re-watching Derry Girls for the second time and I was feeling too jolly to start Ozark (it turns out I still feel too jolly to start Ozark, and now we’re the only people in the world who haven’t seen the finale).  After three episodes I was hooked on Flatch – which, as I figured, turned out to be cornball-y, but in the best possible way.  Flatch is a mockumentary about life in rural Kansas; specifically, as it centers around two wannabe wild and loose cousins, the town newspaper editor, and Father Joe, played by ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA’s Seann William Scott.  As is the case with almost every comedy about the Midwest, every character is lovable, every character has big dreams, and every character begins to fulfill (or actually fulfills) those big dreams in a lovable way.  Here’s the trailer.

SHORESY

Speaking of shows I didn’t want to watch, when Jared Keeso, one of the creators of Letterkenny (a show about a town in Canada that Kyle LOVED because it reminds him of home, and I thought was pretty funny for about 10 of its 61 – and counting – episodes), announced he was making a spinoff about the fifth-most annoying character on Letterkenny, I was a hard pass.  I can’t remember how Kyle talked me into Shoresy (Hulu), but I’m pretty sure I agreed to it because I secretly wanted to scroll my phone for an hour.  I’m glad I actually paid attention because Shoresy is all of the silliness of Letterkenny with the added bonus of character development and a storyline.  Shoresy is about a Canadian men’s league team that is about to fold because they have lost all of their paying fans – and so the character of Shoresy (who is the king of hockey chirps and also cries at the drop of a hat) convinces the owner to keep it going with the promise that “they never lose a game.”  If you like hockey and bros, I think you’d be hard-pressed not to like ShoresyHere’s the trailer; head’s up, there’s a bad word in it.

RESERVATION DOGS

Kyle and I will watch basically anything by Taika Waititi, which is how we came to find Reservation Dogs (Hulu).  Reservation Dogs is a half-hour comedy-ish that follows four teenage friends on a reservation in rural Oklahoma.  Taika Waititi does a great job developing interesting characters, and the show is worth it just to see the four leads interact with one another as they deal with a host of lighthearted, and also not-at-all-funny problems, such as the death of the fifth member of their group.  I was going to try and give an example using quotes from the show but there are A LOT of swears in Reservation Dogs, so here is a link to a scene where Bear – one of the teens – meets his haphazard spirit guide for the first time.  Also, here is the trailer; although I’m not sure it best represents the overall storyline (the part where they steal the chip truck is the first scene of the show and is kind of a MacGuffin).

SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE

Kyle and I knew we were going to watch Somebody Somewhere (HBO) basically no matter what because it was written by EAST GRAND FORKS, MINNESOTA’s Paul Thureen and stars Bridget Everett, and we like both of those things.  Despite the fact that Bridget is a comedian, I’m not sure I’d call Somebody Somewhere a comedy; it’s a gentle, friendly look at some serious issues in small-town Kansas (Kansas is having a real entertainment-based renaissance, apparently).  The whole thing is like watching some of your perfectly pleasant acquaintances live their lives for a few months.  It’s such easy watching that we didn’t even realize we reached the end of the first season until we couldn’t find any more episodes.  Here’s the trailer.

The photo above doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but Kyle made that sign for our seven-year-old’s lemonade stand, and Seven made a sign that said, “Beer J/K Lemonade,” and both of them were pretty proud of themselves.

This week’s news has a Rendezvous and a Wagon Train.  Read on.


Tomorrow is the first day of the Santee-Lucky Mound Pow Wow in Parshall – check it out. (KX Net)

This is in here entirely for me to tell Kyle because he’s going to want to go: Fort Union is holding the 39th Annual Rendezvous. (KFYR TV)

Minot’s father-son duo David and Dayson Dannewitz received the North Dakota Highway Patrol Colonel’s Award for Excellence for helping clear two troopers out of the snow during the April Blizzard. (KX Net)

Westward, Ho!  Participants from 21 states and two countries are traveling as a part of the 53rd annual Fort Seward Wagon Train, which goes from Jamestown to Montpelier (and back again) this week. (Jamestown Sun)

Grand Forks’ Lily Goehring was one of twelve contestants performing on last night’s episode of Dancing with Myself. (Fargo Forum)

Bismarck’s Allison Keller dyed her hair blue in order to get her students to return their library books. (KFYR TV)


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Cougar Woods | June 15, 2022

When I was in high school, my boyfriend said to me, “If you’re going to be in business, you need to know how to golf.”  This was the late ‘90’s, when being “in business” meant wearing power suits with white sneakers and drinking martinis and obviously I was going to do that, so I agreed.  He and I went to the golf course on a foggy fall day.  He set up a tee and ball on the first hole, handed me his driver (I feel compelled to note that he was 6’2” and I was 5’2” and that club fit exactly one of us), gave me a quick, helpful instruction on how what to do, and stood back while I swung for the fences.  Then, he walked twenty feet up to where my ball had landed post-hit, picked it up, and threw it in the direction of the green.  We repeated that same process roughly a million more times – hit the ball, throw the ball – until we reached the fifth hole and he said, “You know, you’re good at other stuff,” and we left to go get ice cream.

I was “in business” by my early twenties, and so my boss invited me (and my white sneakers and martinis) to a charity golf tournament.  “Do you know how to golf?”  He asked.  “Oh, yes,” I said, remembering the advice I had been given on my first outing.  I borrowed a set of clubs from my friend’s little sister, bought three golf balls (I mean, how many does a person need?) – and, using those rightly-sized clubs, hit the crap out of all three balls right into the woods or the water on the first two holes of the course.  I spent the rest of the tournament driving the golf cart – i.e. one of my many “good at other stuff” skills – and charming everyone with my near-constant chatter.  Unrelated, I was not invited along on any future golf outings.

Fast-forward a decade or so to when Kyle and I took the boys to Arizona and he suggested we fill the time by going to Top Golf.  Top Golf is a multi-story driving range with digitally-chipped balls that track where they go on the range.  Also, it’s a restaurant and bar.  The boys liked it because they could hit golf balls for two hours.  I liked it because I could sit on a couch surrounded by nachos and cheesecake (martinis) and still have close enough access to my then-four-year-old to hold onto his shirt so he didn’t swing himself off the range.  With about ten minutes left in our reservation, the four-year-old took a nacho breather and Kyle suggested I use his turn to whack a couple of balls into the virtual water hazard.  Full of cheesecake and mirth, I did – except that instead of whiffing the shots, they went straight (and up and down like a rainbow, which I’m sure is the technical term for describing a proper golf ball path) and true.

“Mom is the best golfer in the world!”  Four exclaimed.

Buoyed by my newfound designation as the best golfer in the world, I spent the next couple of years showing off my rainbow golf skillz at every Top Golf-esque driving range in the United States.  Finally, earlier this spring, I told Kyle that I was ready to give for-real golf a for-real try.  He quickly bought me a set of clubs before I could change my mind/the martinis wore off; and then told one of our friends about it so that I couldn’t do that thing where I would act really grateful and excited about the gift but then hide them in the back of the garage for all eternity.

That friend and her husband invited us out for my (third time’s the charm) maiden voyage.  Kyle prepared by purchasing a sackful of golf balls and tees.  I prepared by Pinteresting “cool weather golf outfits to wear with white power suit sneakers” and finding places to hide airplane bottles of vodka in my golf bag.  We played nine holes of a game called Bingo Bango Bongo, which is where two golf teams compete to earn three points – longest drive, first to the green, and first in the pin – a great game to play with a novice, as teams advance to the best ball…no throwing necessary.  My team won because I am the best golfer in the world (I got one total point, and lost two balls) and, unrelated, my teammate and friend was an actual skilled golfer.  Despite the fact that it turned out that my golf skillz were only to be found at Top Golf, the whole thing was so fun – thanks to lovely, patient, helpful friends and a beautiful evening – that I decided not to throw in the proverbial towel, and instead kept it tied to my golf bag to wash off my balls (for whatever purpose that would serve).

Since then, another one of our lovely friends has invited me to Lady’s Night, and my co-worker has agreed to come with me to a thing called “Divot a Try,” where you pay $20 for a golf lesson and a drink ticket – and all of those things sound awesome.  Also, I bought a golf skirt – so I guess it’s for-real-for-real that I’m an official golfer.

The other night, we took the boys out for nine holes of golf.  I parred one hole and shot a billion on another.  Kyle texted a photo (above) to my best friend, who replied “She’s a regular Cougar Woods.”

This week’s news has an old family and hidden treasures.  Read on.


The nearly 340 descendants of Erick and Kari Evenson will soon celebrate North Dakota’s oldest family farm by ceremonially break the ground in Mayville using Erick and Kari’s original plow. (Grand Forks Herald)

Bismarck’s Pam Crawford has published a children’s book about change, starring an eight-year-old adventurer named Leia. (KFYR TV)

Head on out to McKenzie County Heritage Park this weekend for the annual dinosaur dig. (McKenzie County Farmer)

Congratulations to Minot’s Sidni Kast, the new Miss North Dakota! (KFYR TV)


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