A new citizen approacheth!


Let me start off by letting you know up front that this is a repeat of a posting I did over at my friend Mark’s blog, The Idiot Speaketh. He was kind enough to let me hijack his blog for a little while tonight, and let me post this sight unseen.  I commented in my last post I thought so much of what Mark was doing that I wanted to give him an honorary North Dakota citizenship. Not just because he’s an all around great guy, but because he flat-out earned it. What I posted at Mark’s blog is as follows:

A few weeks ago, Mark did a most amazing thing. He rode his stationary bike 201 miles in only one day, and invited all of his many blog friends to make pledges in support of the flood recovery effort for my beautiful city of Minot, North Dakota. Not only did he pull off a personal best, but funds were indeed donated to the Red Cross on Minot’s behalf. It makes me tear up just thinking about the effort that Mark, and many others, went to…I thank you all on behalf of my community. (HUGS)

In my estimation, Mark is the embodiment of the word neighborliness. Here in North Dakota, being neighborly is important, because your survival just may depend upon your neighbors helping you out at some point. The climate can be harsh and deadly here on The High Plains, and folks up here just help each other out as a matter of course. Not because they have to, but because they can. He lives in Texas, which is on the other side of the country from North Dakota, and yet he is a good neighbor. A fabulous neighbor. Neighborlicious. That’s right, Mark…I made that word up just for you.

Mark’s reward for being outstanding in the neighborliness department doesn’t stop there. As promised, I have decided to make Mark an honorary North Dakota Citizen. As befitting any occasion where one gains citizenship to a new place, a little pomp and circumstance is in order.

After long thought about how a Statehood Citizenship Ceremony might go, I’ve determined that the symbols of the Great State of North Dakota should be incorporated. However, we’ll have to forgo the buffalo as it just wouldn’t cooperate and let Mark ride it into the Blogiverse Auditorium this evening. (Mark, my humble apologies about him having bucked you off and trod upon your toes!) Ahem…let’s get started, shall we?

ALL RISE!
(Mark enters, stage right, adorned in lei’s made of the Wild Prairie Rose, and escorted by a jubilant Western Meadowlark)

Here now, in the presence of the entire Blogiverse, all bear witness to Mark’s brave and unselfish deeds:

For initiating acts of Neighborliness from far across the country…

For behavior befitting a Native North Dakotan by coming to the aid of others, just because he could…

For having a “can do” attitude…

For exhibition of stamina, as demonstrated by riding the same distance in one day on a stationary bike (200+ miles), that would take almost four hours by car (like driving from Minot to Grand Forks)…

For having a heart the size of the sky over The High Plains, and as golden as the wheat fields that cover the rolling prairies of North Dakota…

And, for having a sense of humor so great as to make the most stoic farmer crack a smile…

(Whacking Mark about the head and shoulders with a shock of ripe wheat) I dub thee, Mark Pakulak, a true North Dakotan, with all of the rights an privileges wherein. You and your family will always be welcome here with open arms. I wish you joy, peace, and all the good things life has to offer you. May you never hunger, may you never thirst, and may the roads you travel always be clear of potholes.

As is befitting any event done properly in North Dakota, a pot luck will follow!

(uh…Mark…make sure to exit stage left. The buffalo is still behind the curtain on stage right, and he’s looking longingly at your toes…)

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Neighborliness across borders


In the midst of adversity come the most amazing human actions.

The whole valley had to evacuate, and people had to move not only themselves, but all of their belongings. I’m proud to say that the whole community and the surrounding area stepped up and of the almost 12,000 people who were displaced, only about 300 had to go to a public shelter. That’s an amazing thing that shows what kind of place North Dakota is to live in. We are a pretty neighborly bunch of people…that being an understatement.

Now to the most important reason for my posting today. My friend, Mark, who writes the blog The Idiot Speaketh & Pedaleth, is riding his stationary bike 160+ miles today. His all time record is 160 in one day, and he’s looking to out-do that. I checked out his Facebook page just now, and already he has clocked in 90 miles, as of 11:44am Central time. The thing that makes this particular ride super extra special is that Mark has challenged all of his friends to pledge an amount of money per each mile he rides and donate it to the American Red Cross Mid-Dakota Chapter on behalf of the people in Minot who’ve been displaced by the flood.  So why is the title of this post Neighborliness Across Borders?  Because my buddy Mark lives in Texas, that’s why. Even though he lives all the way across the country from North Dakota, he’s stepping up and helping out as though he lived in the next town over. For this, I am giving Mark the high honor of dubbing him an Honorary North Dakotan. I’m working on a graphic for that Mark…

I had the privilege to meet Mark and his son earlier in June when they drove through on a Father/Son trip. It’s not very often you get to meet your blog friends in person, so this was a rare treat.  Also in attendance was my Sister-by-Choice, Brea, who writes the blog Brea’s Aire. The four of us met at Pizza Hut and had such a good time, we closed the place down. That’s right…we’re just that radical. Of course it helps that Brea brought the  BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE in the entire world, and bribed the Pizza Hut staff with it. By the time we left, they all had the glazed-over eyes of those who are rocking a major sugar high.  During the time we were at Pizza Hut, we discussed many things including how squirrels lay eggs in your attic when you aren’t looking, the crazy antics of Texas’s governor, and the international political ramifications of camels with deflated humps…amongst many other topics.  It was a most enlightening evening! After all was said and done, it was a fabulous time, and it was such a privilege to get to meet Mark and Tyler in person.

I’m not one to put my face on my blog, because I started this blog out wanting to be totally anonymous. However, as time goes on, I realize that anything I write here could be seen by anyone savvy enough to do their research, and quite frankly, my life just isn’t that interesting. So, to all the CIA operatives who have been trying so hard to find me, here I am with my friends Mark and Brea:

Just looking at this picture makes me feel more blessed than I can express. It’s my fondest wish for all who read this blog today that you find yourselves equally as blessed.

Oh…and for those at the CIA who have been frantically trying to find my whereabouts all these years, I’m the one in the blue shirt.

Rising through the hayfever, and other sordid tales of life on the Prairie


Ah, harvest time. I love it! I love the way the ripe crops look as they wave in the prairie winds of North Dakota. I love the smell of burning fields, and fresh mown hay. Unfortunately, none of those things love me back. Sigh…Bring on the hay fever.

This year, for some reason, it’s much more pronounced that in previous years. Or maybe I’m just getting more sensitive to is as I get older? That’s probably more likely. Today I have a headache  and my sinuses feel a little like they are full of Elmer’s Glue.  I know some people who have allergies so bad that they just allow them to take over during this time of the year. I figure that I haven’t got things so bad if all I have is a headache and a stuffy nose, so I’m going to get up and continue on with my day as though there is no hay fever. In fact, perhaps I will just say it to myself repeatedly: “There is no hay fever, there is no hay fever, there is no place like home, (oops…sorry. That’s someone else’s mantra) there is no hay fever, there is no hay fever…”

So, Older Son is working today. He worked yesterday and will work tomorrow again all day. I’m very proud of him. I was a little worried that his BS-o-meter was set to go off at a little lower level, but he’s stuck with it so far. He works in concessions for a local business that handles several different venues around town. If things go as well for all of us this winter as I hope it will, we’ll be able to get a 2nd vehicle and then he can branch out a little bit. It’s hard to believe that he’s going to be 18 this Spring.

Good Gods… My baby is going to be 18!

Alright, enough of that. If I keep going down that line of script I’ll be a gelatinous puddle of sobbing goo before too long. Last I heard that’s not good for the keyboard so…moving on…

Younger Son and I are going out for lunch and then out to my parent’s house to pick up some extra green beans they have from their garden. Then I’m off to visit a friend at her house. She and her husband are putting on a wine tasting, and I was very thrilled to be invited. Her husband comes from an Italian family, and he knows how to cook the authentic stuff that most people wish they could cook. So, it will be an evening of good food, good wine, and good conversation…with adults, no less.  I can’t wait!

Tomorrow, I have some things to finish in the house and then I’m contemplating digging up my front yard, or at least a small piece of it. I have been wanting to do that for quite some time, and with Younger’s help, I bet we can get it done in an afternoon. All the extra dirt and sod will go around the foundations of the house as the dirt there has settled downwards.

If we do get around to it, I’ll show before and after pictures. I can’t wait to see what my new front garden will look like this spring. I’m hoping to plant tulips, irises, lilies and hyacinth so there is something pretty coming up right away in the Spring.

But now it’s time to get ready to go. I’ll have a glass of wine for you too! 🙂

What a great weekend!


One of my oldest friends came to stay with me this weekend, as you’ve been hearing me blather on about for almost a month now. It was so great to spend time with her. We stayed up too late talking both nights, drank margaritas, went to the Sugarland Concert, stopped at a friend’s bar and chatted with her for a couple of hours. They boys even had a good time with her.

After all the activity, my throat is hoarse from all the talking, I’m a tad dehydrated, and I feel like I got rolled under a semi for having slept on the couch for two nights. Truly, though, I don’t mind. In fact, I would do it again in a heart beat. What a joy to be able to just sit and chat about everything with a friend…especially this friend. I sure have missed her.

Something I’d like to say about Sugarland here…they put on one heck of a good show. They have a new CD coming out called “The Incredible Machine”, which they played some songs from, and they were fantastic. They also played combinations of songs from different decades, which that just blew me away. The style of the stage props, interestingly enough, was very Steam Punk, which was so very odd to see at a concert for a country music band. In fact, I’m not sure how it is they can be called a country band because very little of what they sang was recognizable to me as country music… but I will admit that my understanding of country music is pretty limited. Never the less, it was an outstanding, and interactive, performance, and I would go see them again in a heartbeat. The only thing I didn’t like about the concert was that we ended up being seated with a bunch of people who barely even clapped. I can’t say that the people around me didn’t enjoy the concert, but cause they were all older people and were most likely just very stoic. What a bummer that they couldn’t cut loose a little and sing along a little bit.

If you are looking for a good time, and Sugarland is playing near you, make the effort to go see them…it’s well worth it!

Time for the State Fair


Today is the first day of the North Dakota State Fair, and it’s going to be a doozy this year. Not only did we get a brand new grand stand, but KISS is playing at the fair. For some of you readers from big cities, that probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but in North Dakota having KISS come to the State Fair is a big deal. We live close enough to the Fairgrounds that we can walk there, and it provides a lot of entertainment when the traffic for the big shows is backed up all the way to my house…makes for interesting people watching. The funny thing about people in their cars is that they do a lot of stuff in their cars they don’t think people will see them do. Oddly enough, most cars are mostly all windows on top, and you can see everything going on in the car. Silly people!

Older Son will be working all nine days of the Fair. Younger Son isn’t working yet, being only 15, so he’s going to spend all nine days riding rides, meeting friends and eating Fair Food.

Behold the luscious goodness of mini donuts!

Hmmm…Fair Food is the best part of the State Fair!  Buffalo Burgers, Mini Donuts, fresh lemonade, fresh cherry lime-ade, Gyros…and let’s not forget that at the State Fair you can get anything, and everything, deep-fried. It’s a mind-blowing, heart exploding, junk food orgy. The Buffalo Burgers are the best, and so good, you don’t even need ketchup.

Having been going to the North Dakota State Fair since I was very small, it’s lost a little bit of it’s luster for me. I’m not much for rides anymore. I’d actually rather go through all the 4H exhibits and the commercial buildings. I also love to people watch. Last year, during the Motley Crew concert, two guys dressing in 80’s Hair Band garb walked up and down all the main drags all night long. The catch here was that the longer they walked, the more of their back sides became exposed. At the beginning of the evening, they each had one rip in the back sides of their jeans, and by the end of the night, each guy had a full cheek exposed. It was also interesting to see the people streaming out of the concert afterwards…there were many, many kids holding up their drunk 40-something parents, which was sad.  There were a lot of drunk 40-something people holding each other up on the way out. Lots of people dress up in 80’s Hair Band regalia.  It was a people-watching-palooza that night.

Something we always do every year is watch the State Fair Parade. Last year, I took my boys and my Favorite Nephews to watch. This year we’ll do the same thing, thought I’m going to try hard to get my Dad to go too. Usually it’s a lot of farm equipment, fire engines and clowns that go by, but it’s still a good time. When I was growing up, my grandparents lived just two blocks from the Fair Grounds, right on the parade route. Usually the parade fell on or around my Grandma’s birthday, so parade day was always a big deal. Lots of food, family, friends and parade watching. Good times, and I miss them. That’s ok…we’ll make new memories and take lots of pictures.

One of my oldest friends had an extra ticket to see Sugarland on the last day of the Fair, and asked me if I would like to go. So, she’s coming down next Friday night, and staying the weekend. I can’t wait!

What a beautiful day in the park…


Rental for a picnic shelter at the park for a day: $30

Chips, dips and beverages: $20

Availability of sunshine and nice breezes: Spot on!

Cost of good times with old friends, and new, on a lovely Sunday afternoon: PRICELESS!

Today, I met my friends at Oak Park, and some great new people joined in. It was a fabulous afternoon with lots of sunshine, bubble blowing, foot ball throwing, joke telling, and food eating. It’s been so long since I’ve had a nice day like that, I’d forgotten what it’s like to just get away for a while and forget about everything else. I feel so relaxed right now, I could just noodle out and go to sleep. In fact, I was so relaxed, I left completely forgetting to take my stuff with me! (thanks for grabbing my stuff for me Brea!)

Ah, but it’s back to reality time. I managed to get a little housework done before I left today, so now it’s time to get some more laundry rolling and get the rest of the housework done. Before I know it, Monday will have dawned and it’s back to the grind again. Oh, but it was a lovely time while it lasted!

Nothing like a bonfire and good company


I was invited to spend the evening at a friend’s house in the country last night. In this particular housing area every home sits on no less than two acres of beautiful North Dakota rolling prairie…gorgeous wide open spaces!

We stood outside trying to get the bonfire going, but then a storm rolled in and we had to go inside. That was ok, because we all had a good time just chatting, no matter where we were standing or sitting. There was a lot of good food and good company, and I was able to catch up with some old friends, which was fabulous.  Eventually, the skies cleared and we all piled back around the bonfire (which burned brightly through the storm).

It may sound a little silly, but it seems to me that there’s something very primal and essential about the activity of standing around a fire with other people. Yes, I said essential, and I used that word very purposefully. Sitting around a fire with others is something I used to take for granted when I was growing up, as we spent a lot of Summer weekends at a cabin and always had a fire burning.  I love the smell of wood smoke, and the sight and sounds of the embers burning and the sparks popping off the logs. I love the heat of it and how the luminescence of the flames lights up people’s faces. I love sharing a fire with others, whether we’re talking or not. For me a campfire is a total mind/body experience, and I thirst for it. I didn’t realize how badly I missed it until last night.  It’s been many years too long without.

So, I stayed until about 1am and drank in all the fire and good companion ship I could.  Being able to sit around with other adults in a non-work setting was a complete balm on my soul, and the fire was the big fat icing on the cake. I hear from my friends that they are planning to have a bonfire once a month, and I’m invited back.

I just can’t wait!