Unheralded

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — My Restorative Retreat To The Badlands: A Solo In Three Acts

My spirit has been battered in this past year, like so many. I am blessed with a house and a garden and a loving family, yet life has kept me close to home and hearth with innumerable chores and obligations. My father died at the end of May and we buried him at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in July. …


Unheralded

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Biking In The Autumn Haze Of 2020

I have been cleaning storage areas, putting away patio pots and such and taking out snow shovels, my customary practice this time of year. In doing so, I unearthed my bike carrier and thus made a pledge to myself to ride my bike every day I can this fall until it snows. In order to not lose sight of this, …


LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 64: Are You The Ants Or The Grasshopper?

I’m trying to take the time in my life to rediscover ancient wisdom, such as that found in “Aesop’s Fables” and in conversations with my elders, most importantly my mother. Perhaps during the upcoming fallow season, I will reread one fable each day. Time will tell. At the same time, I’m trying to learn new lessons, from family and friends of all …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House: A Bird-y Essay At The Height Of Tomato Harvest

At Red Oak House we are birders. And foodies. And frugal. On Monday at dawn I heard a bird strike a window just as I was stepping out to the patio to sip coffee and quietly read the morning newspaper. The signs of autumn migration are all around and we have a small birdbath that is critical water for the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 63: Hints Of Autumn

“There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow!” — “Oklahoma,” Rodgers and Hammerstein Jim burst into song this morning — pro tip: Ask him to sing “Moon River” — when we agreed that not only are there hints of autumn at Red Oak House but also haze in the air caused by the combination of smoke from Western fires and dust …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 62

We need rain at Red Oak House. But the new ice maker in the fridge seems to work. My mother would say, maybe when we kids were asking for something that might not be reasonable, “People in hell want ice-water.” But a small celebration was held here when I scored a brand-new Margaritaville blender (our vintage blender on its last …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Two Days In August 2020

My Dad would have been 96 today, in this the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve been sorting. Sorting memories, sorting mementos, sorting pictures, sorting emotions and sorting plans for moving forward without him in my life. My first clear memory of my dad would have been when we arrived in Okinawa. (My older sister asked me this question just …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Fashions Come, Fashions Go

True story: I decorated the first house I rented on my own with chicken decor. My landlord indulged me (although I didn’t wallpaper, so there was no lasting damage to the place). I’ve watched the wallpaper fad come and go and that stuff is tedious to apply and even more tedious to remove. Fads come and go. And yes, I’ve …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘It Is Said’

“It is said that if one chooses to pray to a rock with enough devotion, even that rock will come alive. In the same way, once we choose to commit ourselves to spiritual practice, even the mountains and valleys will reverberate to the sound of our purpose.” — “365 Tao: Daily Meditations” by Deng Ming-Dao (published 1992) The paperback book a gift …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House: Today’s Short Story of the Trees of Arthur Drive

A short story in the life of Arthur Drive in the Highland Acres neighborhood of Bismarck today, Aug. 5, 2020. “Short” being a relative term in the eyes of the beholder. Our next-door neighbors have a lovely big tree. Some sort of boxelder, I think. Everyone in the neighborhood values their trees. (That is, of course, until a storm comes …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House: A (Mostly) True Story Or Grief And Living In 2020

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Here’s an offering of my own creative nonfiction this morning from my office. The story goes: Threw together my own version of Full English Breakfast in a rush this morning @RedOakHouse. Google Full English Breakfast if you are curious. Gobbled it down before I took a snapshot. Thanks, Mr. Jim @Jimfuglie for being a good gardener. I …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 60

Life has been hectic. We are harvesting vegetables and scrambling to adjust to life in a pandemic. When I get time, I will write some thank-you notes to the people who have helped us through these past months of lockdown and loss. When we get stamps or get to our nearby post office, we will mail those. “Notes” will feel …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 59

One year ago, at the time of Summer Solstice, I took some photos of our gardens. Here are two views of the irises in bloom.   Last year, I divided hostas and other perennials to increase my plants without buying more, a frugal gardener. I give away plants and friends give me plants. We grub raspberries and give the plants …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — My Father Dies On Memorial Day

My father died on the morning of Memorial Day as “Taps” was playing on the nursing home televisions. Although we have been Skyping with him when possible during the lockdown and my sister and I each accompanied him for two separate medical appointments at Sanford Clinic, we were not allowed to be with him in his final days, even though …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — A Tribute to My Aunt Junette

On Thursday we received the sad news that my beloved godmother and aunt, Junette Henke, a pioneer woman of Slope County, North Dakota, died of natural causes. I pause to attempt to write a few words of tribute to one of the grandest ladies I have ever known, who influenced me immeasurably, who I will miss ever so much. Like …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Gardening Notes No. 57

An early warm spell lured Mr. Green Jeans into planting his tomatoes May 1. Last week’s cold snap killed most of his precious hand-raised heirloom seedlings. He says it is worth the risk because of our short growing season. I’m not much of a risk-taker, but the vegetable garden is his territory, so I try to stay out of it …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — My Heart Friend, Bart

Wednesday’s April blizzard gifts me with the time to sit down and write about my heart friend, Bart Koehler. Bart came to be my friend by the actions of my friend and colleague at Dickinson State University, Steve Robbins. Steve was a charter member of Badlands Conservation Alliance  and his brain is always problem-solving, generating bright ideas. BCA was in …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Solitude in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground,” so we took those words to heart and stole away to the Bad Lands on Tuesday. My sisters and I traveled to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in our separate cars and maintained our social distance. The fresh air and time on the trail greatly renewed …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — There Are Not Enough Adjectives: England, Scotland, Wales (And Dublin)

“The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.” — Chaucer Late last summer, I spent a month in England, Scotland and Wales (with a day and a half in Ireland on my return). It is a trip I’d been planning in my head for 40 years. Most assuredly there are not enough adjectives to describe all of the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Winter Notes No. 5

January and February are a time when I turn to indoor chores and savor the fallow time of rest and restoration. I read books from the nearly toppling piles and I write. I shovel snow as needed and watch the winter birds from my office window while I write. This January and February have been anything but “normal,” whatever that …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — My Dad’s Tackle Box

Bittersweet moment: dividing up my Pa’s incredible tackle box, what Jim described as the most well-appointed he had ever seen, to which I replied, “should be since it was his chief passion for almost 90 years.” My first memories of him fishing are set in an icy mountain stream near Colorado Springs, in the early 1960s. My mother would throw …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Homage To Our Lizzie

A note from Lillian and Jim on this sad day. Our hearts are broken today (Monday) 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 …

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! …