No, I don't want to go Beth Dutton on ya.
If you haven't heard anyone talking about Yellowstone, the documentary or the series, you must not be exposing yourself to the outside world. Facebook has exploded with talk of Yellowstone Season Five, 1923, 1883 and the documentary about Yellowstone Park and its 150 anniversary.
People are buying Yellowstone tee shirts and cowboy clothing. That is how I came to watch Yellowstone in the first place. Yes, I had heard it was a great series, but that's it.
So, one day at the market two years ago, someone stopped by with a tee shirt that read, "Don't make me go Beth Dutton on you."
"Who's Beth Dutton?" I said.
Simultaneously, my daughter and the customer both said, "Yellowstone."
Okay, I bit. I love westerns, and they don't make them as often as they used to. I also love Kevin Costner. Always have. It's not his award-winning movies I love either; it's the apocalyptic ones like Water World and The Postman. Then there's Dances with Wolves.
Once they moved the first four seasons to Peacock, I decided to try it. It's a modern-day ranch with a smack of violence -- i.e., the train station. At first, I was astonished at the number of murders that no one seemed to investigate or get in trouble for.
Then there's Beth Dutton. Wow. The first two seasons led me to believe she was a troubled woman who desperately needed to stop drinking and get help. Watching Beth Dutton in action made me question the tee shirts and other swag from the show promoting her bad behavior. She's an intelligent businesswoman, but I wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of that tough lady.
The plot revolves around the loss of a ranch in Montana that Costner (John Dutton) holds with stubborn determination in his possession and heart. He staves off development and cherishes what Montana offers in its natural beauty. He promised his father never to sell the land and continues to find his way out of the rancher's debt experienced by many today.
Development happens, and I, too, hate to see the farmland around me turned into housing developments, which brings me to two endearing statements made by Beth Dutton. As some of you know, I am purging my stuff. It's been immensely satisfying, and I don't know why I kept most of the things I am now distributing to the outside world, and the fire pit. Of course, my children do not want anything.
That brings me to the first thing Beth said that struck a chord in my soul. "Dad, people don't value what you value anymore."
Sad, but true.
Recent hoar frost created a winter wonderland in our area. It was breathtaking to see the beauty of the landscape after Jack Frost brushed every twig and branch on every tree, every fence and piece of patio furniture with the purest white ever imagined.
I am fortunate to live with wildlife. In addition to the beauty of ocean-like waves of snow drifts in the surrounding fields, we walk to the mailbox daily with turkeys, deer, pheasant, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels and whatever birds decide to stay behind. These things enrich my life beyond most everything, except my children and grandchildren. Sometimes I wonder if people ever look at the moon every night, grateful for its steadfast waxing and waning,
This thought brings me to Beth's second statement, "The things I love and find most beautiful I like to keep to myself."
Walking outdoors or standing in front of a window, I drink in the beauty, observe the nature of the wildlife and count my blessings every day. I love that. It made me feel not so selfish about NOT taking photos and sharing them as often as I used to on social media. I have words, but they cannot express the feelings I share with the Duttons as they try and hold on to what they value in the land, of the land.
Our surroundings have changed considerably in the past 15 years. There is no darkness out here anymore. As far as my eyes can see, there are so many new lights on the horizon that it makes me sad. I mourn for the days of my youth and the simplistic life we led.
But, it is the way.
Then there's Beth's heart-throb husband, Rip. That's a whole other story.
Or the longest Christmas letter you will read, or not!
This is the Christmas I became my mother. It wasn’t planned. I’m not sure it was even supposed to happen, but it did. It’s the way of the world. One generation replaces the other.
It’s easy to go about your day with confidence if you forget to check the mirror before you leave the house. In my mind I am still 21 and looking foxy. That is until I pass by a large window with the sun behind me and my reflection stares back at me in amazement.
“Who are you?”
“I am the new you.”
“You don’t look too new to me. You look like my mother. My mother, my aunts — that’s who looks like that, but not me.”
It is the way and while I might be shocked at how old I have become, I feel very blessed to be as healthy and productive as I am these days. In that respect I am totally my mom.
Mom has been gone for about five or six years now. For some reason, this year, the year my dad passed away has amplified my missing her. Missing both of them.
And, now its Christmas. Things have been so very different this year, I’m not sure if its the two weeks of bad weather holding things up, you know like mail and packages and trips to the store with empty shelves, or something else.
I always wondered why my mom started short-cutting things as she aged. Giving money instead of gifts at Christmas or not putting up a tree or using frozen dough for dinner rolls at the big meal we used to have at their house.
My Christmas spirit got up and left. It began with stuff at my church of 30+ years. Then, what do you buy your children when they have jobs that net them more money than I could imagine earning in my lifetime. Sure, I could make them things, but they don’t even need that kind of stuff… stuff everywhere. I’m guilty of that also.
Since my “retirement” (and I use that word loosely) in April, I have begun a sort of purge. For the past 40 years I have been walking over Christmas cards and letters bundled by year in plastic tubs stored in the “root cellar.” These pieces of paper and colored card stock are filled with memories, people I can’t remember, people I love and stay in tough with, and handwriting. Yes, cursive handwriting. I found that children can’t even read cursive anymore. We, JC and I, actually got into a convo with someone last Saturday about why he thinks they don’t need it anymore. I tend to disagree. In the future there will a special office with trained staff just to decipher cursive handwritten documents.
As I have been casually going through them picking out a few items for a “second” review, I found artwork and letters and thank you notes and tons of photos of smiling children or families together for a Christmas photo. It was like my life was passing before my eyes as I watched my friends’ (Karen Benson McMahon for one) children grow up and then have children of their own. I have yet to finish this particular project but have emptied one or two bins.
Next, were boxes of beautiful German glass Christmas ornaments from the days of the old Kelsch house. I lived in downtown Mandan in a house that was meant for Christmas. My tree was real and stood high under beamed ceilings. With an old thick red carpet over the hardwood floors and a real fireplace, I decorated with old ornaments collected at rummage sales in the 80s, strung popcorn, glass blown icicles from someplace like Sundance and loads and loads of love. Don’t get me wrong, I do have still have a tree. It’s from Lavonne’s Hallmark in Mandan, when Mandan had a Hallmark store. It is the color of the Grinch. It’s decorated with beaded spiders we did as a craft project one year for something to do after dinner with the relatives.
It’s not the same.
My thinking is if I give these treasured items to my daughter, daughter-in-law and two sister-in-law I might still enjoy them on a tree instead of in boxes as they have been for the past 15 years.
After that task, we planned an early Christmas dinner. Rather than fuss with a turkey, we served Salisbury steak, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and Jell-O mold, among other dishes. It was a nice 50s-style meal and I am still paying for it as I type this essay. Okay, typing is an archaic work I’m told. I’m keyboarding this piece. Doesn’t sound the same now does it?
We had our Christmas early, so we wouldn’t tax the children as they have more than four Christmas obligations over the course of the holiday and we are clearing our days for the biggest event of the year, J.C.’s birthday. He’s not getting any younger either. NOT. We are expecting a granddaughter, named Audenia Mae Barnhard, sister to the Fabulous Miss Elle, on Dec. 30., from my daughter, Claire, and her new husband Jason.
And, then in April, another grandchild, a yet-to-be-named boy, giving Lucy and Oliver a younger brother. So heartwarming, that’s seven grandchildren.
Of course, that’s nothing compared to the 40-60 grandchildren (my cousins) that we used to see at Christmas time at my grandparent’s home.
Somehow I thought those days would never end, but they did and my aunts and uncles are slowing moving to the “kingdom” so they can be together again — no more sorrow, no more tears, no more pain. There’s a lot of that going on in the world today. I told J.C. “We need to have some parties so we can see people outside of all the funerals we had this year — friends and family”
Finally, there’s the Christmas card thing. I used to design a special card ever year and write a note (not a long one) in each of them. That didn’t happen, not even close. Rather than order special cards, I thought I would send out the ones that I inherited from my father when we cleaned out his house for the last time (yes, we had about three or four or five go-arounds moving them from their house in Gackle, to Jamestown to the assisted living to nursing home and back again more than once). Why waste a good card. That’s my mother talking for sure.
Battling the snow and doing farmers markets well into December meant I was busy filling pfeffernusse cookie orders and making fingerless gloves. For some reason I just can’t quit buying yarn and then playing in my studio. I thought without a full-time job I would be able to design my heart out. NOT. Somehow life gets in the way.
Therefore, if you did not receive a card from me, it’s because with the best of intentions I wanted to take the time to write in them and handwrite your address on the envelope and use of all the mismatched cards hiding in my closet, but I haven’t gotten that far yet. I don’t know — blame it on the knitting machine or recovering the lampshades or shoveling snow. Or maybe this year I need some transitioning time to my new role as the “elder” of the family.
Being my mother means cutting back on dinners, scaled back gifts to the children (not that my children complained about the sacks of money I distributed to a select few), hopefully fun and useful things to the grandchildren, downsizing and all the things that go with it. Unlike my mother, who liked to stay home even more than myself, I am going to attempt a trip southward at the end of the month to see the new granddaughter and warm up a little. It’s not easy for me to be away from my house for an extended period of time, but I am willing to try.
Well, this is the longest Christmas essay I have done in a long time. Rather than working on my Christian Apocalyptic love story, my Kaseman family history book or my other books circling my brain looking to get out of my brain, I had to empty my heart of its unnamed feelings about Christmas this year. It’s a mixture of grief, loss, gain, family, memories and snow — lots and lots of snow.
BUT, as the story goes, “He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming. Somehow it came, it came just the same.” Here’s to a Merry Christmas to you all and a healthy New Year filled with sunshine and not so much snow, although we need the moisture.
Love to you all my friends and family. I feel better already.
Here is an old newspaper column I wrote after chaperoning a mission trip to New York with some lovely young men and women. Such sweet memories.
I’m feeling a bit like Dan Ulmer this week in as much as I kissed the ground at the Minneapolis airport after spending seven days in New York City, plus two days of travel time.
It was not a sightseeing trip, but I saw many sights. There were 23 youth, ages 14-18, from Charity Lutheran Church chaperoned by four adults on this particular journey to the inner city under the guidance of the New York School of Urban Ministry in Queens, New York.
It was the most awesome and the most grueling week I have ever spent away from home.
New York City has population of 8,104,079 in five boroughs – Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. I have been to each of them.
Our group traveled by subway for the most part. My neck was stiff from counting 23 heads over and over as we made our way around New York on the public transit system. It is not a new thing for these people. Rapid transit, consisting of above ground El (elevated) trains, began as early as 1829 transporting tourists to Coney Island in Brooklyn. At that time Coney Island was a popular resort destination. That wasn't the case for us.
It was Oct. 27, 1904, that the Inter borough Rapid Transit Subway, or IRT, became the first subway company in New York City. Even with elevated train lines springing up around the city, the need for an underground rapid transit railroad was obvious as a solution to street congestion in an ever growing city and also to assist development in outlying areas. With this new mode of underground transportation, the subway, New York would never be the same. The subway system in New York celebrates over 100 years of public transportation.
Living on the plains, we don't really fancy public transportation, but it’s a good thing in a way. For a week, I didn’t have to worry about gas or car maintenance, not to mention driving in New York’s very narrow streets. You see, not every place in the world has the wide-open country side like we do.
Our first day in the city began at Coney Island. Only those of us over the age of 40 had even heard of it before this trip. At the mention of the name, people wrinkle their noses, and ask “you didn’t go into the water, did you.” Not really. We did walk over the hot sand to the shore line, but we were there primarily to serve the soup and bread from a mobile kitchen to people barely surviving in this high-rent city.
It was hot in New York City, very hot, but the men, women and children were grateful, many asking for extra bread to take home. It could be the only food they had to eat that day.
During the course of the rest of the week...
I saw Ground Zero, and I saw people sleeping on the ground.
I saw the Statue of Liberty and I prayed for freedom from the things that tie people to this earth.
I saw Trump Tower, and I towered over broken people lying on the street.
I saw Phantom of the Opera and I saw what personal ghosts can do to people.
I saw trees growing out of the tops of skyscrapers and I saw teenagers grow up.
I saw Times Square, and witnessed the power of Pastor David Wilkinson preach at Times Square Church.
I saw the neon cross of St. Paul’s Mission, located in Manhattan’s west side, that reads “Get right with God.” This cross, in New York's 'Hell's Kitchen' district, appears in the opening credits of 1970s Saturday Night Live episodes. Another one of those trivial bits of information that gets lost on the younger than 40 crowd.
That group of youngsters had never been exposed to our particular type of upscale accommodations. We slept in an old hospital wing with no air conditioning. We ate cafeteria style and had to take turns with kitchen duty. We barely had time to sleep with NYSUM's mission schedule taking us out the door by 6:30 a.m. and sometimes not getting back until midnight.
Perhaps, it was this lack of rest that caused us all to feel like New York City rocked and swayed all the time. The subway trains rocked on the tracks. The sidewalks rocked with the subways running underneath. The churches rocked with the Holy Spirit.
There hasn't been time to digest it all.
I just remember being like 27 little white lights walking around in a city of diverse ethnic groups.
I am sure there are New Yorkers that will never forget we were there, and that we will never forget New York either.
Well, I did it. Promising myself the time to clean out my stuff, I began the daunting task of letting go. It started with the cards and letters from the late 1980s to the present. Tied together with red and white striped kitchen twine each year was stored in a box or the old suitcase in the basement.
Now, the suitcase itself has a story. It was part of a three-piece luggage set given to me by my boss, LaVonne. I worked at the Gackle Café in high school for .75 an hour. I remember a hamburger steak dinner with a bun, coffee, potato and salad, maybe even dessert for $1.25. Wow.
I'm still determining where the other two pieces are, but the one manageably-sized blue Samsonite suitcase survived one of my many purges over the years.
Now, on the advice of several people, I decided I could toss those bundled years of memories into the fire pit and watch them disappear. But I couldn't. I sat on the edge of one of the storage boxes and went through them. Not each envelope or card, but the ones that spoke to me. As I went along, I tore off the stamps because my friend Cynthia donates them to some charity. I wasn't going to do that either, but I caved.
Many of the cards from years past had handwritten notes or even letters. Some of the cards were handmade by my sister-in-law. Some messages were from my children and were so clever and creative I had to save a few for savoring later – then trying to throw them.
As I sorted through the cards, I found thank-you notes from church, school and other volunteer activities. I found letters and a few notes from people. I don't even recall their names or how I knew them. Somehow it was not as painful as I thought.
All I can say is things have changed. Today's Christmas cards have form letters or not letters, and people don't even use their signatures – just a nice scripty font to indicate who the card is from. The labels on the envelopes are also printed and not handwritten. That made me sad.
There were also photos in those bundles that I decided to save and put with the other images in another storage bin. Someday my children will be sorting through those prints and dropping them into the waste basket because they don't know the people or the places they are viewing.
It's taken me two days, and I'm still in the second box. The greatest of treasures found yesterday was a handpainted card. We are talking about 25 years of paper, friends, faces and love.
It was a birthday card from my Aunt Alice. It was beautiful, with a watermelon rose and a bud on the inside. The handwriting was legible and neat. I'm so glad I took the time to review those cards.
I also found notes from my mom written in her familiar script with misspelled words. I loved that about her letters. She took the initiative to finish high school in her later years but never used a dictionary. One of my favorites was "Tell the Kits hi from me."
In the end, I am still trying to figure out why I saved all these cards, except I love paper and pretty art and handwritten notes. I will keep a couple of the enormous cards for Putz Houses. I'm banking on some time to play around this winter. The garden is nearly at rest, the garlic is planted, and I'm going to tough out the cold and do two more farmer's markets. Then it's off to Christmas goodie time.
It's also time to think about what kind of Christmas card to create for my giving. I am not expecting handwritten Christmas cards this year, and I am not sure there will be notes in any of yours; however – I will sign my name, as I always do, and pray that my scrawling is still legible.
We were thinking my dad would make it to 100, maybe 107, like his great-uncle Jake. He didn’t. But, hey, 95 years is a long time to circle the sun. And, now, my father’s journey on earth ends and his eternal life with my mom begins.
I’m sure it was a happy reunion with his older brother, Art. It was when Art married my mom’s sister, Gertrude, that he met my mom. As they say, the rest is history.
I was fortunate enough to have spent a large part of Sunday with my Dad and brother, Curt. Dad passed on Monday around supper time. When I think of supper time, I can see him make that face where he sticks out his tongue and says, “I can’t taste anything, I don’t know why I eat.” But he does anyway. It is the German-Russian way.
So, today, two days before the funeral, I’m making food – buns, sloppy Joe’s and kuchen for the immediate family. I also have to think about the rest of my farmers markets and so there was Plum Crazy jelly and salsas to be canned.
My opinion of my dad growing up was his gruff discipline. Later, my relationship with my mother formed my opinion of my dad. But when my mom died, Aunt Arlene (mom’s youngest sister) said, “your mother dies first so you can get to know your dad.” She was absolutely correct.
In the eight years that passed between the two funerals, Curt cared for my dad in every way possible. Being 100 miles to the west, I tried to stop down there every time we drove by and this past year, stepped up a wee bit more to assist with his care. We sorted, we moved, we moved again, we went to the hospital during covid and argued with the staff to allow us to see him. I’m not going to sugar-coat this, “It was brutal.” My brother did for my dad what I cannot even imagine doing. So this is a shout-out to the guy who walked my parents through the toughest time of life.
Getting back to my dad, however, I found out about his childhood and was able to ask about a few gray areas in my brain. You know things you hear about when are young but don’t get the whole story ‘cause we were “kits.” That’s my mom speaking there.
Both parents and all my aunts and uncles spoke German growing up and it affect the way they spoke their whole lives. I missed out on that, much to my disappointment.
Dad was born in 1927, shortly before the “Dirty 30s.” According to North Dakota history websites, someone estimated that 70 percent of the population of the state required some form of assistance to make it through those years. Most of them left.
But not my relatives. Germans from Russia are a special breed for sure. Very few people outside my culture really “get” our love of work. We work when we are sad, we work when are happy, we work to show love, we work when we are angry. We just love to work. Okay, there are exceptions to the rule, but not my brother and me. We just love to work,or keep busy. We seek out knowledge about how things were done, how to make things, how to cook things. I guess we could be called preppers or recyclers to some degree.
And, now we are it. I’m sure there are many things I could have found out about my dad as he grew up and raised a family. It’s a little too late now. So, I have to cherish what I do know and thank God for the opportunity to spend the little time I did with him after Mom died. My last day with him was so good. He showed emotion. He asked about my family. He said he wished he would have given me his car (I’m shopping for one at the moment). He didn’t want me to leave. But it was getting late and I had to drive home alone. So, I rubbed his shoulders and said a little prayer to God – for peace. One way or another, peace as he recovered or peace as in his parting.
When Curt called about 5:30ish on Monday. I knew. I just knew he got his wish to go to heaven. I’m so very sad, empty and grateful at the same time.
Dad, until we meet again in heaven, I have to go back to work.
The season of weeding is coming to a close as the harvest begins. I had huge cucumbers hiding under the leaves that once were so little I thought maybe I should have planted another row to "Whoa, how are we going to pick them? There's no place to walk."
However, the weather has turned ugly hot, and it's been difficult to want to be outdoors in the heat and the humidity. These days my hair looks like dreadlocks as it curls and frizzes and cannot be combed.
So with the hot weather, the gremlins have arrived. First of all, there are grasshoppers galore in our garden. That might explain the snakes and toads I love seeing as I weed. Next, it's disease time for cucumbers, and we must be on guard for powdery mildew, especially with the high humidity.
The peas need picking; the beans need picking, the weeds need picking. Then there's my preemptive spraying of BT to keep the cabbage worms away from the last of my brassicas. And to top it all off, it's been one of those weeks.
For some reason, all my commitments to speak, travel, do grants and have farm tours ended up these two weeks of July. To begin last week, there was a gust of wind after a downpour at the market and my canopy frame bent. That's bad, but it could have been worse if my friend Maggie hadn't grabbed it before it took out my neighbor's tent. I do have a spare somewhere, but still. Okay, we repurposed the frame after a little pounding to make a tent for my gooseberries. There are tons of berries, and birds and deer love them as much as I do. The first year I planned to pick, I couldn't sleep waiting for morning. When morning came, I grabbed a bucket at the crack of dawn and found that the bushes had been cleared of all fruit overnight. I was devastated. I still don't know whether it was the birds or the deer.
I had to drive to Bottineau on Friday and Strasburg on Saturday for some presentations.
So, on Thursday evening, the freezer in the garage took a dive. I had to allow my fruit to thaw and keep that in the fridge. But, it meant that not to lose it, I would have to make jam, jelly and pie after coming back from out of town. On Friday at 4:45 a.m., we are trying to make room in the refrigerator's freezers to save the grass-fed beef and chickens.
On Monday, I'm still not done. The freezer we bought didn't work right away, and we are trying to figure out how you can spend $1,000 on a new freezer, and it doesn't freeze. So, we are still juggling food to save out investments.
Life's little mishaps have entirely thrown off this week's schedule. My dear friend Pat used to say, "Life is maintenance, man." I should count my blessings that we are still in good health, able to weed the garden and reap the benefits. Here's to some cooler weather and a good hair gel.
Here are a few of the cakes that Claire made. At one time we wanted to start a bakery together. I wish we would have taken that leap of faith.
Well, the cat's out of the bag. I'm going to be a grandmother again. It's the best news unless your new grandbaby is about 4.5 hours away because I love the smell of a newborn baby.
You are correct if I sound like I'm off on one of my philosophical ventures. One of my mother's sisters-in-law passed away, and I attended her funeral on Saturday. The prior Thursday, I drove to Jamestown to visit my dad on his 95th birthday. His hearing is gone, but he is in good health. Lonely because he's slowly becoming the last of two extensive families I call mine. We got him a new smartphone hoping he could at least have a fighting chance at hearing us when we call.
I've said this before. I thought I would have a large family forever. But I knew someday they would all be gone. Tucked inside my mom's family history book are funeral folders and a list with highlighted names. This week another name received its yellow swipe.
On a positive note, I spent some time with my cousins, Jan, Diane and Connie. Rather than drive straight to the New Kassel Cemetery for the burial, we took a "crop tour" of old farmsteads. Some are gone – some have changed hands – most I don't remember how to get to.
We drove by my grandparents' farm. That I remember. The tree row, the barns across the gravel driveway, I remember. The house is gone. The old grinding wheel for sharpening knives is gone. The garden is gone. But memories live on.
I didn't grow up in that area. My dad moved us to Fredonia and then to Gackle by the time I was 12 years old. I knew some of the names my cousins were remembering, most of them not. At one time, if you stood on top of a particular hill, you were surrounded by Meidinger farms, all relatives of mine.
Even though I knew all my relatives, perhaps better than my siblings, I didn't know them. My mom's family was skilled at crocheting, metal work, woodwork, farming, gardening, cooking, sewing, you name it, someone could do it. Every funeral gives glimpses into my aunts and uncles' lives outside of the gatherings we attended.
Now they are joining together to rest peacefully at the cemetery south on Zeeland road. That cemetery reads like a history of my mom's family. It saddened me to notice the fresh soil in the row that contains three of my mom's brothers (one of them is not there yet because it was his wife that passed last week) as the funerals are happening closer and closer together. The New Kassel Church t in 1905, incorporated in 1911, burned down in 1938, was rebuilt the same year, and then in 1979, merged with two other churches and became the UCC in Wishek. Everyone at those services was related to me -- men on the right side pews and women and children sitting on the left. I included directions in our history book so the younger generations could find it someday. Attending that church is one of my blessed memories.
We always discuss how the cousins should get together for a visit outside of funerals, but it isn't very easy. We live so far away from each other. And that wasn't always the case.
Before arriving at the cemetery, Jan turned to me and said, "I grew up with 46 cousins, all within 33 miles of me. That was because of you."
I laughed when I finally figured out she meant I messed up her proximity by living in Fredonia at the time. My dad didn't care to farm and moved us to what was commonly called "the hinterlands."
My friends, it hurts to realize that time waits for no one. So, to my family that has gone before me – until we meet again in heaven – I will remember you.
After my daughter was born three years earlier, I thought I could never love anyone as much as I loved her. I was wrong. Adam was a good baby. He was born on a Saturday night, June 29. We lived in a neighborhood of townhouses with 46 children under the age of 12. It was around 9 p.m. on a warm summer’s eve as we got into the car to go to the hospital with nearly all the families on our street sitting on their front steps waving us off.
Unlike my daughter, my son looked like me; his son looked like him. It’s almost uncanny, but he always says, “who would you think my son looks like, if not me?” Adam has a sense of humor. He’s also very frugal, as one would expect from someone Russian-German.
We traveled together when he was young, into middle school and midway through high school. He was the best of traveling companions sitting in the car for 8-10 hour stretches, helping carry canopies and boxes of woven clothes. He loved funnel cake. He helped other artists unload products or walk dogs to earn money for these sweet treats. His favorite road food was Subway sandwiches.
At home, we communicated with a notebook on the kitchen counter. As I was sorting through “stuff” in my basement trying to hygge my house, I found this page from one of those many notebooks. It was a grocery list.
Party Pizzas, pepperoni, please
We don’t need cheese
We have the ones in square.
You should get one pear.
We have good soda pop,
But we don’t have any lollipops.
We have good breakfast food.
Would it be rude
For me to ask for corned beef hash?
On your way home, don’t crash.
That’s it for today,
Be back right away…
In addition to being very careful with his money and writing poetry, he made up great words that I wish I had recorded for posterity’s sake.
Adam’s youthful claim to fame was his skateboarding. From the time he could walk, he skateboarded. People would stop as they drove by my house to watch this tyke cruising down the sidewalk. As he grew and developed skills, he partnered with a couple of friends and made videos of skateboarding. Mandan didn’t have a park then, so after being banned from many parking lots and stairways around town, the boys got together and petitioned the city commission and park board to build a skate park. While that may have been one of my proudest moments, watching some skating mishaps still gives me goosebumps.
So, as another year passes and I cannot think of a thing you need from me, I give you this. You are my son. I love you. You have grown into a responsible man with a family, and I couldn’t be prouder of your accomplishments. I miss our travels together, especially the history lesson trip following the Lewis and Clark trail west, visiting all those historic sites and camping along the Salmon River in the Sawtooth Mountain range the day before they closed the park for the annual salmon spawn. Here’s to your extraordinary life, my number one son.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.
I now return to my two loves market gardening and weaving.