Unheralded

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Homage To Our Lizzie

A note from Lillian and Jim on this sad day. Our hearts are broken today (Wednesday) as we have had to say goodbye to our beloved Lizzie, our adorable Springer Spaniel, on this sad, dark day. We pause to write this homage to her and to give thanks for all the joy she brought to our lives. There are a …


Unheralded

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — A Thanksgiving Meditation: Things I Love

English cheese. A good Cabernet. The smell of chrysanthemums. A clean house. Chelsea’s warm skin when we hug. Scones and clotted cream. Intelligence. Freshly ground coffee, brewed in a French press, with cream. Sunflowers. Rachel’s smile. Solitude and silence. Fresh walleye. Bookstores. Bison. Ethnic food. Navajo rugs and jewelry. Hiking. Public television and radio. Cooking. Chunky chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. …


LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Momaday, Falling Stars And Two Extraordinary Nights in November

This is a significantly revised version of my original blog posted on Wednesday with the addition of details I’ve located since that date as well as updates on the Thursday’s Unicorn showers. Although the annual Leonids meteor showers have come and gone, the news about a potential “rich burst” of shooting stars from the Unicorn meteor showers has me thinking back …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Is There Any Doubt I’m A Cartographic Geek?

Is there any doubt I’m a cartographic geek? Is there any doubt I’m an Anglophile? Great Britain counties I visited in August-September 2019 England (of 48 counties, I went to 33) Bedfordshire. Berkshire. Buckinghamshire. Cambridgeshire. Cheshire. City of London. Cornwall. Cumbria. Devon. Durham. Glouchestershire. Greater London. Greater Manchester. Hampshire. Herefordshire. Herfordshire. Kent. Lancashire. Leicestershire. Merseyside. North Yorkshire. Northumberland. Nottinghamshire. Oxfordshire. …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Tenth Anniversary

November is our 10th anniversary at Red Oak House and the longest I’ve lived in one place in my lifetime. The explanation for my peripatetic life is, in part, that I was an Army brat. Looking back, I think that my heart was seeking the perfect match for my home and didn’t find it until we bought Red Oak House. I …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 55: Autumn Sunshine

On Friday, I worked joyously in the autumn sunshine at Red Oak House, on a rare still day, planting 92 tulip bulbs at the request of my husband. He had asked me last spring to plant more and when I received an email from a seed company mentioning bulbs, it hit me that there was still time. On Thursday night, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — My Tomato Herb Phyllo Tart

I love to cook and I love to share food with family and friends. I’ve been cooking on my own for a crowd since I was 10 years old. The other night, I made this dish, which makes my husband very happy. Many friends requested the recipe. Here it is, a first for WildDakotaWoman. Tomato and Herb Phyllo Tart 7 …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — A Long-Overdue Wild Badlands Day

My family journeyed west earlier this week for a long-overdue wild Badlands day. Our first stop was to view the ongoing bison round-up at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The corrals were full of bison and from outside the fence, we watched the trailers being loaded, and we could hear the racket those massive beasts make when their bodies meet steel. …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — My Country Music Memories

Although we have greatly anticipated its airing, at Red Oak House we mostly watched “Country Music” in delay, recording it for playback at our convenience, and we finished it Sunday afternoon. Every moment took me back to my many days in my father’s homeland, Mississippi, and my time in Nashville, when I was attending graduate school at Vanderbilt University, where …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 54: Time To Pay The Piper

You may have noticed that WildDakotaWoman has been quiet of late. I’ve been to England, Scotland and Wales for that time. Yup, a whole month. It was just as wonderful as I thought it would be and I’ll write about it when I have time. I don’t have time because I came home to at least a month worth of …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 53

I’m awake before dawn this morning at Red Oak House with a long task list that includes an overdue Garden Notes post. Between painting the house, ailing elderly parents, a trip to Yellowstone and preparations for my upcoming adventure, I have fallen behind in my writing. Yet, I write for pleasure and have no deadline, so it is “all good.” …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Wild By Nature

A guest blog by my daughter, photographer Chelsea Sorenson, “Wild By Nature Photography,” including a small selection of the thousands of photographs she took on our visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks last week. Last Christmas, I asked my mom to take me to Yellowstone National Park for my upcoming vacation because when you’re a kid, being “dragged around” …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Moonstruck

I was in grade school living in El Paso, where my father was a drill sergeant at Fort Bliss, the summer of the moon landing and walk, 50 years ago. Fifty years! Like most everyone else, we avidly watched the TV coverage, on a little black-0and-white TV in our living room. Life magazine was always on our coffee table, with …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — I Painted The House, Past Tense

Well, I did it. I painted Red Oak House, including two doors and some trim. It is the first (and I’ll bet last) house I’ve painted. It is a very big house, with two extremely tall sides. We should have rented scaffolding, but Jim held the tall ladder when I reached to the very tops and there were no major …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 52 : I Paint The House

After all of that snow and good spring rains, the gardens are lush at Red Oak House. Jim finally got the rabbit-proof fence perfected so the vegetable beds are going to produce bountifully. We are eating lettuce and radishes and the peas are just around the corner. The weeds are flourishing, too, and we barely keep up with that chore. …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 51: Digging In The Dirt Is My Therapy

Digging in the dirt is my therapy, and we have been doing plenty of digging these past few weeks at Red Oak House. Jim has planted 25 of his heirloom tomatoes he started by seed in March and given away his remaining seedlings. He reports that the peas and potatoes have sprouted with the long-awaited arrival of sunny weather, and …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — There Is Still Time For ‘Mail Call’

Hi everyone. There is a little over a week left for you to send a message to my Pa to thank him for his service on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He has been touched by the letters he has received to date. We are going to read selections from these at the D-Day 75th Anniversary program. If putting a stamp …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Mail Call For The Boy From Attala County On The 75th Anniversary Of D-Day

June 6, 2019, will mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a pivotal battle of World War II, which took place near Normandy, France. “The largest seaborne attack in history, it was also one of the bloodiest, with a combination of strong winds, unruly tidal currents, and a formidable German defensive, resulting in the loss of 2,400 American lives by the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Wild Badlands Weekend

It has been a long and tiring winter and spring has been slow to arrive. We both have been ailing. Jim slipped on the ice and fractured three ribs and I’ve been struggling with Lyme disease since our February Channel Islands National Park adventure. Thus, it was that we were both delighted to be able to pack up the car …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Where The Wild Things Are

On April 9 in 1963, a classic of children’s literature, Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” was published. It is what is known as a picture book and has been beloved by generations since then. Max, a little boy, travels in his imagination (or sleep) to an island inhabited by wild creatures. “Let the wild rumpus start,” he says! …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jay

My article on the Island Scrub Jay appeared in this Thursday morning’s Bismarck Tribune. Here is it below, with my photographs, including one of the Island Scrub Jay. There are much better photographs of the jay by professional photographs easily found in a simple Google search, so do check that out if you are interested. Having birded for decades, one …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — BCA Executive Director Jan Swenson To Retire

This past Wednesday, Badlands Conservation Alliance, a grass-roots group of which I am a founding voice, announced to its membership that longtime executive director, Jan Swenson, is retiring at the end of March. Jan has been at the helm for the past 20 years. In fact, BCA would very likely not exist were it not for Jan’s leadership from the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jay & Other Desert Musings

Every few years, my husband and I embark upon an adventure outside of our beloved Bad Lands and North Dakota, seeking to fulfill our mutual goal of visiting all of the national parks. Thus, my blog has been on hiatus since the end of January. Because we garden, we find it necessary (for the most part) to travel in the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Winter Notes No. 4: On Being Named Lillian

I was named Lillian after my maternal grandmother, my Norwegian ancestor. My mother tells me that when they handed me to her upon my birth, she looked down and saw her mother’s face, hence my name. I think I would have been given that name no matter who I looked like, but no matter. My mother loves to tell the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘The Mountains Are Calling And I must Go’

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir wrote these words in the early years of the 20th century. He lived much of his life near to the mountains. Mountains have been on my mind of late, although I don’t live near any. Perhaps the trigger was that one night not long ago we watched an excellent documentary …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Skinny Skiing Dakota

My younger sister received cross-country skis for Christmas, so I finally have a companion for some of my winter expeditions. With the abundant snow, we’ve made two forays in the past week: Sibley Park, just south of Bismarck, and today, farther north to Cross Ranch State Park — both in cottonwood forests along the cold, dark Missouri River. We had Cross …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Christmas Bird Count: Bad Lands Waxwing Day

Each year, when our time permits, Jim and I try to participate in an area Christmas Bird Count. Friday, we traveled to festive Medora, N.D., for a dusk drive through the national park, some Comet Wirtanen and Geminid meteor shower viewing in the dark Park and a good night’s sleep in the Rough Rider Hotel. And Saturday, we participated in …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Winter Notes No. 3: Life’s Passages

There are no “Garden Notes” this time of year at Red Oak House (although Jim did already order his 2019 tomato seeds), but I do occasionally write “Winter Notes.” This entry is deeply significant for me because of a life passage my family and I have been experiencing. Autumn was short, cold and somewhat gloomy, and snow came early. Jim says …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Remembrances of L. Ray Wheeler

By his friends, students, and colleagues. North Dakotan extraordinaire, Dr. L. Ray Wheeler, passed away on November 27, 2018, in Dickinson, N.D., after a long and remarkable life. Even his death notice was poetry: “Brush off the snow and bang the drum, L. Ray Wheeler’s release has come. Ray passed away peacefully in his sleep early Tuesday morning November 27, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Homage To Col. Paul Southworth Bliss On The 100th Anniversary Of Armistice Day

By Lillian Crook and Jim Fuglie As many of you know, Jim and I have a fascination with a North Dakota poet named Paul Southworth Bliss, and we are writing his biography. For the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day, we wrote an accounting of his military service, from my research. Joining the legions of Americans sent to France to join the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Helmer Hovick: My Family Link To World War I

On this 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the remembrance of my family link to the war takes me back in time. My Grandma Lilly’s brother, Helmer Hovick, a true Norwegian bachelor farmer who lived in the Dakotas in the years before the war, was a World War I doughboy. He served as a courier. When he …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — More Notes From My Wild Life: Owls

Late in October, my daughter and I traveled to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where magic happens for us no matter what see or do. We go there whenever we can. This time, we were there to join in with a research project that has taken place there for several years — banding Northern Saw-whet Owls. I assisted with this project …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Autumn Wrap-up At Red Oak House: Garden Notes No. 50

On Sunday, a sunny, pleasant, blue-sky day, we wrapped up things in the yard at Red Oak House. The eponymous tree and the others in the yard put out millions of leaves and most have now fallen. Sadly, odd weather this year caused most to turn an odd, brittle green and fall from the trees without regaling us with color. …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Quixotic Quest For The Thick-Billed Kingbird: Notes From My Wild Life

The newsflash on the ND-BIRDS listserv on Monday afternoon of the sighting of an accidental bird near Cross Ranch State Park triggered what has been for me a quixotic quest to see it for myself. The Thick-billed Kingbird’s territory is in far southern Arizona and New Mexico, along the border with Mexico. This particular bird was very lost and its …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 49

We finally had blue skies in North Dakota on Friday, after a long spell of gray weather. We are grateful to go into winter with the moisture, but the dreariness was beginning to wear thin. At least we didn’t get the heavy snow that hit the eastern part of the state. We got a little snow last week, and it …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘If You Know Wilderness In The Way That You Know Love … ‘: Two Retreats To The North Unit

It has been my great fortune to have made two retreats to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park these past few weeks, a place in the Bad Lands that is very dear to my heart.  The North Unit is the heart of wildness in North Dakota and is, right now, awash in autumn glory. My first outing was …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 48: Wrapping Up The Summer Season

Although the growing season began with such promise, Jim is bemoaning that it has been a disappointing year in the vegetable gardens, as he harvests the meager take of vegetables. Last year at the same time, he was bringing in 30 or so tomatoes a day, and now he only finds about three or four ripe among the hundreds of …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Our Comment Letter On The Proposed Little Missouri River Bridge

Jim has written about the proposed new bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora, N.D., that is being shoved down our throats by a megalomaniac county commissioner who wants to spend up to $20 million of our gas tax dollars on a “Bridge to Nowhere.” At the insistence of the Federal Highway Administration, the county is deep …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 47: The Daylilies Are Waning

Peak daylily bloom here at Red Oak House has passed, and I can’t help but feel a bit wistful about this. The focus of this past July has been daylilies of all kinds, and not just in my garden. Late in the month, I took in an exhibit of daylily art at Bismarck Art Gallery Associates, where it was delightful …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Journey To De Smet, S.D.

Like me, my sisters are fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Laura’s stories shaped our understanding of the prairie landscape on which we make our homes. This past weekend, my sister, Beckie, and I made the journey to De Smet, S.D., a place, to her friends’ amusement, on Beckie’s bucket list. I’ve been there, but it has been more than 20 …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Dispatches From Theodore Roosevelt National Park

We slipped away from domestic chores this week for an interlude in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit) along with a night in the charming village of Medora, N.D., where we were treated to two very pleasant days, warm and sunny, with a gentle breeze. We took a hike on the Jones Creek trail and two drives through the Park …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 45: Life Is A Garden, Friends Are The Flowers

The riotous beauty of the daylilies has me feeling that I’m somewhat neglecting the glory of my hostas, so today I’m featuring the front yard. As I’ve written in the past, I’m no fan of lawns and mowing, thus we’ve converted nearly every foot of our yard to beds, including the front yard. The sight in the first few years …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 44: Daylilies, Daylilies, Dayliles … And A Bunch Of Voles

The daylilies are coming fast and furious, accompanied by a fierce outbreak of mosquitoes. I have 189 varieties of daylilies. My sister, Beckie, and I collect these and together we have 225 varieties. We also belong to the Bismarck-Mandan Daylily Club and have great fun together at the annual auction. On Sunday, my absolute favorite of all of the 189 …