Friday, March 30, 2007

I don't understand why more people don't move out to western North Dakota and plant roots. What's everyone skeered of? If I was Dunn County's Tourism Director, this might be my pitch:

Dunn County is a potential paradise for anyone who likes the idea of building and being part of a community. Take, for instance, tonight's Annual Walleye Fish Fry at the Buckskin in Killdeer. For $10 one can gorge on Lake Sakakawea's tastiest pike, 15 different kinds of salad, homemade desserts, and more. We've got steak fries, pow wows, quilting bees, and rodeos. Quality homes can be bought for less than 50 grand. We've got mountains, rivers, lakes, and badlands. Traffic is minimal, living is affordable, the scenery is incredible, and people are hospitable. Plus, I live here. We could really make something happen, Kid. Give it a thought. Dunn is #1.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The journalists, Kate & Debrin, departed this morning. They were great guests. They stayed at my house the last five nights and cooked gourmet meals with wine and cobbler. Last night they invited Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, and me over for a farewell supper.

Debrin took more photos of me in the last five days than have been taken in my entire lifetime. The article that Kate will write might take a while to be published, but when it does, I'll add a link.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Beautiful weather and a pounding headache.

I was recently persuaded to join a Fantasy Baseball league, and today was draft day. Albert Pujols was my first pick. Then came Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Lee, Carlos Zambrano, Bobby Abreu, Bill Hall, Ben Sheets, John Smoltz, Trevor Hoffman, Jorge Posada, Todd Helton, Michael Barrett, Tadahito Iguchi, Marcus Giles, Mike Cameron, Eric Gagne, Andy Pettite, Randy Johnson, Jim Edmonds, Dan Wheeler, and finally, Chris Duffy.

I'm being interviewed this week by two students from University of Missouri-Columbia. The photographer, Debrin, took literally hundreds of pictures today, mostly of me. It's flattering, but unnerving too, to be a "subject" of an article.

P.S. Click on the photograph and you'll see a magic trick.

Friday, March 23, 2007

My cousin Annie and her husband Ellery gave birth yesterday to a 23-inch-long baby boy they've named Jalen Marque Williams.

Earlier this week my friends and neighbors Sarah and Ron McFadden gave birth to a baby girl they've named Ella.

Today I sang at the funeral of Dick Patchen, the husband of my co-worker, Jeri. I chose Ben Harper's "Waiting on an Angel." Dick's ashes were buried at the Oakdale cemetery north of Killdeer.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Today is the first day of spring. Good things seem ready to rain down upon us all. If we can just shake the boredom, get the rest and relaxation we need, and atone for our war crimes, we'll be alright.

It'll be sweet.

Monday, March 19, 2007

P.O. Box 7 is my lucky mail locker, cz most days I get a package or two. Just random gifts that people mail. Some folks send simple post cards. Others send friendly letters filled with random chotchkas: gum, dollar bills, hair, photographs, baseball cards, stickers, and checks for CD purchases. Today, Doug & Kathy sent me an orange plastic moose named Tyrone who plays banjo. His antlers poke through his cowboy hat. If you press on his sheriff's badge he sings country music and raps.

Grandpa came from behind to beat Grandma and me in Pinochle tonight. We drank beer and ate pizza first. Supper conversation revolved around the dust bowl days of the early '30s. Grandma remembers there being so many grasshoppers that it was challenging not to slip on their guts--even on gravel roads.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dunn Center was as alive as it gets today. Close to 150 people--standing room only--attended the annual St. Patrick's Day event at the Dunn County Museum. The first performers were the Prairie Belles, an all-woman bluegrass trio from the Halliday (North Dakota) area. Then came the Fiddle Kick Cloggers, a great dance troupe from Dickinson. Five blocks away, at City Hall, the Senior Strutters sold pie and ice cream. In the evening the Ilo Bar provided corned beef and cabbage with green beer to the music of the Larsen Brothers from the Taylor area. The parade down Main Street was short and festive, lasting all of about four minutes.

My Aunt Christi & Uncle Ken are visiting from Colorado. Tonight I listened to Ken and Grandpa tell some good horse stories. As a boy, Grandpa almost lost his life in some close calls with runaway horses. Ken told about a barrel racer friend of his who got kicked in the face and blinded when she was eighteen. Ken's dad, Walt, who happens to be in the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, got all his teeth kicked out when he was a youngster. My cousin Nikki got the top of her scalp peeled back by a horse's hoof when she was four. I know lots of other painful stories; anyone out here can reel off a few. Fortunately, I've never been kicked, bitten, or dragged by an equine--only shied off.

Happy St. Patty's Day! Danny Boy is the song. The picture of the last four days, however, is Tommy Boy. Tom is my uncle--my mom's youngest brother. To see a picture of him as an adult click here. He's half Irish, by the way.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Today's song is by Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Song of the day. Wayne Newton recorded this when he was sixteen, apparently.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Song of the day: Joni Mitchell in 1970 singin' "California."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I don't know why I find this quote interesting, but I do.

"As the world would have him, six things are necessary to the preacher: 1. He must have a fine accent. 2. He must be learned. 3. He must be eloquent. 4. He must be a handsome person, whom the girls and young women will like. 5. He must take no money, but have money to give. 6. He must tell people what they like to hear."

-Martin Luther (B. November 10, 1483 – D. February 18, 1546)

Monday, March 12, 2007

I got a gal she’s 5’3”
Plays her banjo on her knee
Natty Joy, Natty Joy,
I wanna be your breakfast boy
I wanna be there when you rise
I wanna be your catfish prize
Natty Joy, Natty Joy, O Natty Natty Oh !

Little deer’s got a bird on her coat
Little bird’s got a frog in her throat
Natty Joy, Natty Joy,
I wanna be your breakfast boy
I wanna be your crossword spy
I wanna be your oatmeal guy
Natty Joy, Natty Joy, O Natty Natty Oh !

Light comes up when the dark goes down
Leaves go green but the bark stays brown
Natty Joy, Natty Joy,
I wanna be your breakfast boy
I wanna be your eggs poached
I wanna kiss like French toast
Natty Joy, Natty Joy, O Natty Natty Oh !

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I have another journal, a private one. I use a pencil instead of a keyboard. I tape photographs and articles into it instead of using digital images. I write new lyrics there and use unsavory language sometimes. I never proofread it, but scribble short-hand. I'm flooded with thoughts this week. I could write a novel if I put my mind to it.

Aunt Olga's funeral was yesterday in Killdeer, and the burial was fourteen miles west, at the tiny Whetstone Cemetery, less than a mile from where she grew up. The weather was sublime--warm and sunny. Horses were galloping in herds across the prairie, kicking and playing, as if welcoming my great-aunt to Heaven. Olga Sloan Nupen was a saint if I ever knew one.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

"Why Do Fools Fall in Love?"
-Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers

Poor Frankie.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Abe Lincoln said:

"Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object."


"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."


"I don't like that man. I must get to know him better."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My first two days back at Dunn County Historical Museum have been busy. I'm setting up a St. Patrick's Day event for the Museum; assembling our sixteen-page quarterly newsletter, "Tales & Trails"; reconnecting and brainstorming with Museum Committee members; catching up with emails and phone calls; designing a Museum website; and shoveling snow and ice. Coffee is my best friend this week. I've got a good life, though, no question. And in the evening I read. The current book I'm digesting is Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope.

Monday, March 05, 2007

My great-aunt Olga Sloan Nupen died early this morning at the Hill Top Home of Comfort here in Killdeer. She was almost 94. Grandma and I visited her shortly before midnight last night, to tell her we loved her.

Olga was one of the humblest, gentlest people I've ever known. She'd lived alone in the family farmhouse since the late '60s, when Great-uncle Art died. She did everything the old-fashioned way; she never even had running water in her home until she moved in to Killdeer about 15 years ago. Sometimes I'd ride one of my grandpa's horses over the mountain to visit her grandkids, who lived near her. Justin, Sarah, Amy, and I would walk to Olga's, eat homemade caramel rolls with milk, and play games like lawn darts and Annie-I-Over.

Goodbye, sweet Olga.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The last few days have gone like this: help Grandma & Grandpa move during the day, hang out with my Killdeer friends (Shawn, Lacey, Margi, Ron, etc.) in the evening. G & G, who have spent their last thirty or so winters in Dunn Center, have now relocated to Killdeer. This makes good sense for them. Killdeer is seven miles closer to their Killdeer Mountain cabin, and Killdeer has more amenities than Dunn Center--a grocery store, for instance.

If anybody wants to buy a well-built two-story red house in Dunn Center, where I live, my grandparents will sell you theirs for $65,000. I think Dunn Center is the most excellent small town in the USA, and I've seen thousands. Come be my neighbor!

Front of house. Winter.

Back of house. Summer.

P.S. Tomorrow I return to work at the Dunn County Historical Museum, also located in Dunn Center. For the next nine months, my goal will be to update the Museum database, adding as many new items as possible: black & white pictures, saddles, arrowheads, clothes, quilts, branding irons, ploughs, rocks, mounted animal heads, paintings, bird nests, cowboy hats.