LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Theodore Roosevelt: The Naturalist In The Arena TR Symposium 2017

As I sit down to write this, I’m listening to thunder and hoping that regular rain will return to the northern Plains.

Today I’m reflecting on the Theodore Roosevelt: the Naturalist in the Arena Symposium that Jim and I attended at nearby at Dickinson (N.D.) State University last week, the 12th annual. We attended the first and several others in the intervening years. This year’s opened on the anniversary of the day that TR took the oath of office as president of the U.S.

Upon our arrival in Dickinson, we joined a friend for lunch at Badlands Brew, which is a restaurant located in what was once St. John’s Episcopal Church. TR is said to have worshiped there on occasion.

The overarching theme of the symposium was how much TR cared about nature and how he was mindful about what would be left for future generations. Scholar Clay Jenkinson convened, telling us that within 10 to 15 years, the digitization of TR’s papers should be complete, a project of the TR Center. To this, I will add that the Center has an amazing website, full of materials that were unavailable but to those fortunate few who could travel to sites that held these papers, such as Harvard University and so on. Sharon Kilzer and her staff have created what Clay described as a “widely modeled project.”

A “museum more than a library” is now in the works, the first exhibit being the cottonwood logs stashed near the DSU stadium for a replica of TR’s Elkhorn Ranch, to be built using 19th-century techniques. These logs are “authentic heritage cottonwood trees from the Little Missouri River Valley, cut on more than 30 ranches,” said Jenkinson.

Thursday night’s keynote address, “A Field Guide to Roosevelt the Naturalist,” was given by Darrin Lunde, who told us it was his first visit to North Dakota.

TR’s evolution as a naturalist, starting with his time as a boy, began when he spotted a dead seal on display in a New York store. TR wrote “that seal filled me with every possible feeling of romance and adventure…”

Lunde, who is a Supervisory Museum Specialist in the Division of Mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, reported that the seal skull is still in the museum’s collections. TR’s father was a founding trustee of the museum. Lunde recounted that “TR’s brother Eliot complained that he really didn’t like sharing a room with someone who left the guts of animals in the wash basin” and that TR was more of an outdoor naturalist, rather than a laboratory scientist.  Thus, he came a politician but “never shed his interest in natural sciences” and his time in the west was “pivotal,” said Lunde.

As president, he protected 230 million acres of land and “after he finished in the White House, he led a museum expedition, depositing some 23,000 specimens from Africa that are studied to this day.” As president, he signed the authorization for the creation of the National Museum of Natural History.

Day two opened with another excellent presentation by Char Miller, a professor at Pomona College entitled “Kindred Spirits: The Remarkable Partnership of Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot.”

In a fascinating overview of this friendship, participants learned that Pinchot wrote portions of TR’s autobiography, and they “worked together well because they also recreated together,” swimming in the nude in the Potomac River. “TR used Pinchot as a lightning rod and he understood that they (he and TR) believed that the future had the same right as they had.” Gifford Pinchot wrote, in 1910, “It is a greater thing to be a good citizen than to be a good Republican or a good Democrat.”

Next up was children’s author Barb Rosenstock, who talk was “Friendship Under Five Inches of Snow: Roosevelt and John Muir in Yosemite.” Much of what we know about the camping trip TR and Muir took in Yosemite came from the accounts of the man who accompanied them, Charles Leidig, whom some claim to be the nation’s first “park ranger.”

Introduced by former TRNP superintendent Valerie Naylor, North Dakota native Duane Jundt gave a talk entitled “‘I So Declare It’: Roosevelt’s Love Affair with Birds,” telling us that TR said, “I’d much rather discuss ornithology than politics.” As a birder myself, I found this talk particularly engaging.

Melanie Choukas-Bradley ended the afternoon with a beautiful talk about “President Roosevelt’s Explorations of Rock Creek Park,” which is in the District of Columbia and now administered by the National Park Service. She also spoke about Roosevelt Island in D.C.

The day of outstanding programming ended with an evening of folk music by Jesse and Gene Veeder, cowboy poetry about the legend of Poker Jim by Jonathan Odermann, and an appearance by President Roosevelt, as portrayed by Clay Jenkinson.

The downpour and cold temperatures Friday continued Saturday morning as participants gathered at the Rough Rider Hotel in Medora for the final talk by Clay Jenkinson, “Intersecting Genius, 1886: William Hornaday, TR and the Saving of the Buffalo.”

At the same time that TR was in Dakota Territory hunting for bison, Hornaday was at nearby Miles City, Mont., hunting for bison specimens for the Smithsonian, where he served as chief taxidermist. He had the inspiration to save the species from the threat of extinction. Hornaday created an innovative 360-degree diorama for the Smithsonian that became a model for many others, and this “became the centerpiece of the Smithsonian’s exhibits from 1888-1957,” according to Jenkinson. “TR and Hornaday formed a partnership that played a huge role in the saving of the bison,” and “now there are approximately 500,000 pure bison in the world.” Under TR’s leadership, in 1902 Congress passed an act to protect the bison and in 1907, TR and Pinchot created the National Bison Range in Montana.

The last event of the morning was a wrap-up of the panelists with audience Q&A. Panelist Duane Jundt encouraged everyone to “identify the place you really care about and work to save it.” Melanie Choukas-Bradley encouraged everyone to think of their address not just in terms of street name and city name but also as a “watershed address,” thinking about home in terms of the streams and rivers near to where you live.

After lunch, the symposium ended with a bus tour of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, as the planned tour of the southern Bad Lands was relocated due to the muddy roads.

All in all, it was an excellent symposium, rich with informative programs and conversations with very interesting people, and the folks at the TR Center are to be highly commended. Videos of the presentations will be available online at the TR Center web page.

If you’ve not attended one, I strongly urge you to do so, as there are fascinating topics planned for the future, and I fervently believe you will find it time well spent. The symposia’s caliber of scholarship is first rate!

TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — My Drug Abuse Problem

This is a cautionary tale. It involves drug abuse on my part, no less. Even though it was inadvertent and one time only. The drug in question here is a popular one, the sedative sold as Ambien.

After a surgery my doctor prescribed Ambien to help me sleep. I can attest that for me, it works like a charm. I wake up from a restful sleep, refreshed, ready to seize the day, more or less, with no side effects. When I take it correctly. Therein lies the rub.

Some people who have taken it report unexplained sleepwalking, sleep driving and performing other daily tasks like frying a batch of eggs for themselves while they are asleep, waking up in the morning without any knowledge of doing it.

I never did any of that. Until one morning. The morning I mistakenly took an Ambien instead of my usual blood pressure pill — just before work. That morning, Ginny had left the house before me for an appointment and was unavailable to monitor my movements.

Unaware I was Ambiened-up, I proceeded to drive myself to work. Thank God, I didn’t hit something like a tree, or worse, a young pedestrian on his or her way to school. And by thank God, I sincerely mean thank God.

By the time I arrived at work, I knew what I had done. But my modus operandi on Ambien I found out that day is simply to pretend everything is fine.

I was barely in the door when a co-worker said, “Are you all right?” I snapped back, “I’M FINE!”

Now at my desk, I didn’t feel sleepy. It’s just that from time to time I would “black out,” more or less, for periods of time ranging, I’m guessing, from a few seconds to something like the better part of a minute.

A day or two earlier, I had promised buddy Rob Kupec that I would be part of a radio trivia game he was hosting at the time on WDAY. Ambien or not, a promise is a promise. On the phone with Rob and one of his listeners, I remember being asked about every OTHER question on the air. Interestingly enough, my radio partner and I correctly answered four out of five of them, good enough for him to win a prize.

Later, when Ginny called, I asked, “What’d I say?” She said, “You were fine.”

Like a remorseful alcoholic, I spent much of the next morning making the rounds of the building, apologizing to colleagues for my “unusual” behavior the day before. I was especially concerned about what Rob would say about the radio thing. “You were fine,” he said.

When I recounted the episode to my doctor in his office a few days later, he, too, seemed less concerned about about my radio guest shot but very much concerned about my driving.  He said something like, “I think now is a good time for you to come off the Ambien.”

TOM COYNE: Back In Circulation — Purple Pain Just A Part Of NFL’s Bane

A chilly Sunday morning gradually blossomed into a gorgeous, late summer afternoon. But being a golfer of marginal talent and fully aware that our local football team had an enticing matchup in Pittsburgh, I still wondered if I’d made the right choice. Our annual fraternity scramble was on tap at the University of Minnesota course, and I’d reluctantly agreed to once more expose my shaky game to all those alums eager to sneer at my worm-burning iron play.

After watching the Vikings cruise past New Orleans in surprisingly easy fashion last Monday, it was tempting to leave my cell phone on when we gathered at the first hole for our late morning tee off. But I’d convinced myself that I would avoid all distractions and forget about football … for at least a few hours.

Before long, we were sharing old stories, shedding our windbreakers and even making a good shot or two. So it wasn’t until we were returning our golf carts and sipping on beers, that someone mentioned the Purple. “They were losing big, the last I checked,” said one of the brothers.

Suddenly it hit me. I’d managed to spend a Sunday afternoon away from the Red Zone Channel and hadn’t suffered NFL withdrawal symptoms. In fact, I found myself grateful to have reconnected with old buddies and gotten some much-needed exercise and sun, in the process.

What should be worrisome for Roger Goodell and the rest of the league’s cronies, is that my revelation about life without pro football is happening to many others these days. And that spells trouble for a business already too greedy for their own good.

Let me attempt to connect the dots by starting at the bottom of the food chain of a multimillion dollar operation that has been captivating Americans for years. Or conning them … depending on your perspective.

Ruben is an avid pro football fan. We’ll call him “Rube” for short. He loves the Vikings, wears everything purple and shells out thousands of dollars to occupy a nosebleed seat at US Bank Stadium. Rube watches NFL games Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. He plays in six fantasy leagues. But lately, Rube has been angry and frustrated for a variety of reasons.

First, there were those annoying preseason games where he was forced to pay full-price for tickets in Row Z. The games where the teams played mostly third stringers to protect their stars from getting injured, since they still figured the studs would get battered around in weeks to come.

Then Rube put in months of planning to prepare for his fantasy draft and was thrilled to land the top-rated running back, David Johnson, of Arizona. But a couple of days later, Johnson went down with a season-ending injury. In fact, many top players were dropping like flies, tearing ACLs and separating shoulders.

Speaking of injuries, Rube was really down in the dumps when he learned his favorite quarterback, Sam Bradford, also had to sit out for the Vikings on Sunday. Why, just a few days ago, Bradford had displayed laser-like accuracy in carving up the Saints, only to come down with a mysterious swelling of the knee prior to the Pittsburgh game. No wonder the Steelers throttled our boys, 26-9.

And remember, Sam was supposed to be replacing Teddy (as in Bridgewater), the previous Viking QB who suffered his own major injury just a year ago. Poor Rube had envisioned a dream where his squad would be the first NFL team in history to play a Super Bowl in its own stadium, since Minnesota will host the event this February. Now, in Week Two, that already seemed highly unlikely.

Realistically, Rube already knew he’d never be able to afford a seat at the Super Bowl anyway. Most of those would go to rich folks or corporations. Now his team might not win half its games, with a worst Case (as in Keenum) scenario at quarterback. His fantasy teams weren’t looking much better with all those injuries.

So here’s what’s unfolding: The Rubes of the world are beginning to notice a few things. Their wallets are lighter. The endless games they’ve been watching seem less interesting. Every team in the league lacks depth, at one position or another, resulting in poorer execution.

An obvious sign of trouble is already evident in Los Angeles. Since departing from San Diego over the winter, the Chargers made their home field debut in La La Land Sunday. Capacity for StubHub Stadium is 27,000 and only 25,381 purchased tickets. Far fewer actually showed up. Fittingly, the home team lost in the closing seconds when their rookie kicker blew a 44-yard field goal attempt, more evidence that rosters are short on competency.

For Minnesota fans, at least misery loves company. Their biggest rivals, the Green Bay Packers, got blown out by Atlanta last night. Already missing their two starting tackles, the Pack had six more players leave due to injury. Defending champ New England was beaten at home by Kansas City last week and is without several key players. Both have stellar QBs in Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady yet are no better than 1-1 thus far.

A watered down product due to countless injuries, skyrocketing ticket prices and numerous off-the-field issues are penalties that have NFL owners losing ground with followers. Too many games on too many nights have made even important contests seem less significant.

As we walked off the golf course Sunday, one of my buddies mentioned how happy he was that he didn’t “waste another weekend” watching football. Another said he’d taped the Viking game but now planned to skip reviewing it, after learning of the result.

It’s only September. Maybe when the snow begins to fly and we’re cooped inside, I’ll be glued to my television. Watching Case Keenum engineer a comeback to help the Vikes finish at 8-8. Then again … there’s always bowling.

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Autumn And The Blessing Of Rain

Finally, it rained. A two-day soaker Friday and Saturday. We were in the Bad Lands for a four-day trip, an immersion in Theodore Roosevelt, where we attended the 12th annual TR Symposium at Dickinson (N.D.) State University.

Jim and I have attended a number of these (including the first), and this year’s topic of TR the Naturalist was irresistible to us. I’ll recap my thoughts on the symposium on a later blog and today write about autumn in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Medora. Our trip dovetailed nicely with the Sixth Annual Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival held in the park, so we luxuriated in three nights at the Rough Rider Hotel.

Western North Dakota has been in the grips of a severe drought this year, and most everyone was smiling at the sight of the downpour and the puddles here and there.

On Saturday, rather than joining the symposium tour bus through the park, we volunteered for the Friends of Theodore Roosevelt, selling rockets to (mostly) kids who were attending the festival.  In spite of the cold rain, many families came to enjoy the activity, and the intrepid park rangers helped the kids assemble 23 rockets under a tent at Chimney Park.

After supper, we walked over to the Visitor Center, where the evening program on the “Bats of North Dakota” was being held due to the rain, and we learned that the state has 12 known species of bats. I had no idea!

Some years ago, I worked at the park as the museum technician. Curious, I wandered into the museum to look at the current exhibits. My duties included climbing into this case to clean the glass, which was not easy, but it is a good memory nevertheless. Later, as we walked around Medora, our conversation was filled with dreams of a future TR Presidential Library in western North Dakota.

This morning (Sunday), we were eager to drive through the park to see the autumn colors, as the ash trees have begun to turn and the day dawned blue sky again. The gumbo buttes were shining and wet, and the shrubbery glistened. We were rewarded with a sighting of four bison, one porcupine, a mountain bluebird, and two coyotes. The coyotes were a special treat as they were not their usual skittish selves, and we watched them hunt very near to us, even seeing one do the “pounce” on prey. Both were beautiful specimens, very healthy, with thick, glossy coats and puffy tails.

After a few more stops to take photographs of fall colors, it was time to drive home. We were pleased to see how many people were in the park enjoying the day. Driving eastward, we observed many fall migrating hawks and were reinvigorated, once again, by our visit to a beloved landscape. Thank you, National Park Service and TR.

RON SCHALOW: Picky Patriotism

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We would chant this oath every morning in the first grade in 1962. I was happy to do it, not that I had a choice. Stand up, face the flag, put the right hand over the heart and recite.

Some of it made sense. A little context would have helped. Like, why was this necessary? I wasn’t going anywhere. Crossing the street was only tolerated at certain intersections. Were we being indoctrinated for future manipulation? I trusted my teacher that I wasn’t participating in anything subversive. She looked honorable.

The honorable Miss Johnson was the only teacher to ever give me an F. I was asking for it. I was born disgruntled. She gave us a coloring project, which was insulting. I knew how to color. I had been coloring for ages. Let’s get this education thing on the road, miss. So, I did the whole picture in black and I didn’t stay in the lines. It was my Goya period. Deal with that, Miss Johnson! I nonviolently demonstrated against wasting my time. As it turns out, I wasn’t the first smart@$$ 6-year-old she had run across. Hoisted by my own pencil case.

Actually, I don’t think I ever had a pencil case, or anything that took more than one Trump-sized hand to carry home. Now, grade 2 grunts are lugging around backpacks sized for Navy Seals going on a long mission. Are they secretly bivouacking on a regular basis?

Anyway, we did the pledge, practiced our cursive, got fed some fictional history, tried not to sniff the freshly mimeographed papers, sang off-key about some girl over the ocean and recessed to the playground to hone our survival instincts.

I don’t recall any fatalities, but plenty of small bodies flew off the merry-go-round and bit the dust. Technology hadn’t yet determined the relationship between speed, mass and gravel. And, luckily, we weren’t allowed to have ACL’s at the time.

We could almost make that disk fly — and tried — but we were physics ignorant. Still, had a generator been hooked up, when the pushers reached top speed, before they fell from exhaustion and vomited, we could have lit up south Minot, which was smaller at the time. Very doable.

The metal jungle gym was fun, until some jerk stole one of the highest crossbars, and my muscle memorization had my hand flailing in the air, and I face planted into the hard dirt. I think they tamped down the gravel and soil at night. Fun times.

I made no pledges to those lethal implements, though, but centrifugal forces in my brain have forced a memory drift to the dangerous side of elementary school.

I don’t recall when we stopped doing the pledge every morning. Most likely, as soon as we were old enough to understand the meaning. And what was it with the repetition? Was there a danger of some young punk changing sides in the middle of the night? They never said who was on the other side when we were at our oathing peak.

The president only has to recite his oath of office once, and he has more people in his administration who can speak Russian than can understand Trumpian. Try to find a Rosetta Stone language lesson that unravels ravings in Trumpian.

Was J. Edgar Hoover satisfied that the pledges took hold, even though one-third of grade 1 was saying invisible, and the other two-thirds were looking out the window? Evidently.

So, anyway, the pledge of allegiance faded out of my life. At least I wasn’t required to say it 200 times per year anymore. But\ if pledging and staring was the requirement for patriotism, I was patrioted up to my eyeballs.

Worth noting. That school was a fortress, so naturally it was demolished. Stupidity.

Then, decades later, some people took offense at some behavior displayed while the anthem was being played, so I figured I better watch myself a little closer.

I mostly know what to do when the National Anthem is played, although it’s not required by law. Most people do, but it’s hardly a given that the majority of people in the vicinity will do as they were taught, or mime the person next to them.

Stand up, dammit. Remove your hat, unless you’re wearing one of those giant Kentucky Derby ladies hats. Those are allowed, for some reason. Probably because they need to be stapled to the head. Fortunately, I have no hats bigger than a manhole cover.

Put your right hand over your heart. And even though you aren’t supposed to have anything in your hands during the anthem, you may hold your hat in your right hand and place it over your heart. Don’t even think about removing your hand until after the last note.

Look at the flag throughout the anthem. Don’t turn around and visit with your friend you saw an hour ago. Don’t monkey around with your phone, or whatever else that’s been invented since last week.

Watch the singer if there is no flag. No flag? Talk about no respect. Borrow one from Perkin’s for crissakes. They’ve been using the American flag improperly as a marketing tool, anyway. And they aren’t the only ones. Do you think the NFL whips out a flag the size of a wheat field every game because they’re so damn patriotic? Nope. They are working on your emotions. Hundreds of companies use the American flag as a prop. Not cool.

Shut the hell up!

No eating or drinking during the song. And do not set your bratwurst on the head of the person in front of you, even it is as flat a coffee table.

Stop chewing your gum until the anthem is over. You can leave it in your mouth, but don’t chew, if you know what’s good for you. I think you can swallow it, but not in a showy way.

Sing along if you want, but I would prefer it if you didn’t. Everyone would rather if you didn’t. You are not a good singer, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re lying.

Remove your sunglasses. This one got me. Of course, I won’t be able to see the flag, which seems counterproductive, but I don’t make the rules. And since glasses don’t cost seven times more than my first car, if you order them online, I also have pairs with 10 percent and 50 percent tint. I have no clue what the ruling is on those. I think I may lose points for vanity.

Cheering after the song is over is not allowed. No applause, please, you commie. You could claim that you’re actually clapping for the game that is about to begin, and not Beyonce, but we all know better. Clap for the fly-over, if you wish, if you can afford a seat for a game that gets the Air Force involved.

Airliners frequently fly over Fargo sports fields. Cheer if you don’t care if other people think you’re loopy.

Don’t put your hand over your heart or salute a foreign flag, you traitor. Drones could be watching.

No hiding in the bathroom, or behind a skinny tree.

Lastly, do not allow a large green parrot to sit your shoulder, their perch of preference, and certainly no type of waterfowl. No birds is a good rule of thumb.

So, it’s clear that everyone has disrespected the flag. What’s your beef? Is there something you’re protesting? Unpatriotic jerk!

Of course, there are no laws requiring a citizen to respect the flag, but don’t expect to be employed if you’re caught with a finger in your ear on the big screen while the rockets red glare.

We could discuss all of the events where the National Anthem is played and the flag is displayed, but let’s focus on football.

We’ve established that everyone in the stands is a turncoat, but what about the players, at all levels?

For starters, the anthem is rarely played before any game below the varsity level. What’s their problem? You spend your youngest years repeatedly pledging allegiance, and then you have to be talented enough to make the varsity team to rate our national song. It seems arbitrary to me. How rebellious to ignore patriotic protocol. Very cheeky.

When the anthem is played, society demands you behave in a certain way, but not playing it all is acceptable? It seems so.

When the music starts, how many players have their hands grasping the front of their shoulder pads, or have their arms to their sides, or are talking, or looking around? Are they chewing gum or continuing with their warmups. How many are so bright, they have wear shades?

Who decided that one particular violation of the rules of National Anthem etiquette is more deplorable than all of the others?

Who decided that 99.9 percent of anthem rule violations are committed scorn free, but raising a fist, or taking knee, is an unforgivable unpatriotic sin?

Several other flag offenses worth noting

  • Our flag is not a decoration, people. If you want blue, white and red stripes for your fabulous event, buy the bunting, and make sure the blue stripe is on top.
  • It is not to be used for advertising. No flag cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, paper plates or anything that will discarded after use.
  • The flag is not a costume or clothing. Duck Dynasty hillbillies shouldn’t be using the flag as a headband to absorb hillbilly sweat. Chris Christie should not be wearing a tank top with the image of the flag on it, for more reasons than one. No Spandex. No nothing for civilians. The Tea Party abused this encoded rule of flag decorum with abandon.

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

And he who thinks that this country is fair for everyone, and nobody has any justifiable grievances, continue to bark in your American flag panties.

RUSS HONS: Photo Gallery — University Of North Dakota Vs. University Of South Dakota

The 10th-ranked University of North Dakota football team was hoping to build on last weekend’s Potato Bowl victory against Missouri State, but the University of South Dakota (3-0) had a different idea as the Coyotes overwhelmed the Fighting Hawks 45-7 before almost 10,000 fans Saturday in the DakotaDome. USD quarterback Chris Streveler, who has won back-to-back Missouri Conference Offensive Player of the Week accolades to start the season, had 49 rushing yards and a touchdown and went 17-for-23 through the air for 241 yards and a score before the break and finished with 352 yards of total offense and accounted for three of the Coyotes’ five touchdowns. USD’s Kai Henry ran for two touchdowns and rushed for a team-high 80 yards on 12 carries.UND (1-2) trailed 31-0 after the first half before scoring its only touchdown in the third quarter, a 10-yard touchdown pass from Keaton Studsrud to Travis Toivonen. John Santiago finished with 85 yards rushing to lead UND, which finished with just 102 total yards on the ground. Studsrud finished 11-for-22 passing for 133 yards. UND opens Big Sky Conference play Saturday when it hosts the Montana State in the Alerus Center.

DAVE VORLAND: Photo Gallery — The Windy City

Bloomington, Minn., photographer Dave Vorland recently spent some time in Chicago, the Windy City. Dave went to graduate school in Chicago at the Northwestern University in the mid-1960s. Here are some of the sights that caught his eye.

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Marinara

On Wednesday, I commandeered the canner from Jim so that I could make the season’s first batch of marinara at Red Oak House.

He grows a variety of tomatoes, including paste type, starting these from seed in the basement in the early spring. As I’ve previously written, he has harvested more than a thousand tomatoes and cans many jars of his specialty — juice. For marinara, he freezes the paste tomatoes, cuts off the tops and places them in Ziploc bags.

Tuesday night, he carried up the bags and placed them in the kitchen sink to thaw. The skins slip off easily, and I peel a total of 81, which will make a nice thick sauce. While I work, I listen to Prairie Public Radio and watch the world from my kitchen window.

Jim peels a couple of big heads of garlic, and I chop and saute the garlic in about 2 cups of olive oil.The garlic is fresh, a gift from our friend, Mike, who has a huge garden at his home near Gilby, N.D. (Our crop was paltry.)

I roughly follow the recipe in Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking,” with my own variations. Making the marinara at this time is ideal for several reasons, including that I have an ample supply of fresh basil and oregano from my garden.

After I have the tomatoes in the pots, I wash the bags and dry with one of the hand-embroidered dish towels that my mother stitches for us. I do this because we are thrifty and as environmentally conscious as possible. The tomato skins get dumped into our compost pile.

While the sauce simmers, I wash the quart jars in hot, soapy water. As the tomatoes “cook down,” I mash with my old-fashioned masher.

To stir the sauce, I use my favorite spoon, the one that was my mother’s all of her years raising children. It fits in my hand perfectly and is sturdy. If that spoon could tell stories…

The smoke from forest fires in the western U.S. is so thick today in North Dakota it is as if it is foggy. The amber light, although beautiful, is unsettling. In contrast to the smell of smoke outdoors, the aroma in my kitchen is divine. This makes us both happy, and we savor the thought of how delicious the marinara will be when the winter snow is deep.

After several hours of simmering, I add the chopped herbs and my secret ingredient, and ladle the marinara into the jars for processing, according to the Ball canning guide.

Five hours and six quarts down, along with a half-quart fresh on pasta for supper, with shrimp. I tuck my apron away in the drawer, a good day’s work done.

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Hurricane Donald

A big wind made landfall last Wednesday in North Dakota, and when I woke up the next morning, North Dakota was great again.

A KX News morning show anchor giddily recounted her excitement about President Trump’s visit and how she and her family had gone out to “show our love for the president.” I was a little surprised her objective report didn’t include the phrase “glorious leader.”

Perhaps I woke up in North Korea. I missed it, did anyone kiss his ring?

Not everyone was happy about the president’s invitation-only visit to a refinery in Mandan. I know I’m part of the Fake News and Liberal Agenda that Rush Limbaugh blames for overhyping Hurricane Irma just to make a point about climate change, but it is a statistical fact 41 percent of North Dakotans don’t support the president.

Eleven percent of them have actually been groped by him. The other 30 percent have been goosed by Limbaugh.

This may explain why folks are increasingly desperate for medical marijuana to get here. “Please help us forget.” Anyway, don’t tell me the president’s not on something. He must be smoking covfefe during those 3 a.m. tweet sessions from the bathroom.

We should legalize covfefe, too, once we figure out what it is. The downside of building The Wall is we’ll no longer have easy access to covfefe pouring across our borders from Mexico. But we’ll have jobs picking tomatoes, if we’re not too busy mining coal, the energy of the future.

Once we get rid of people who are different from us, things will be grand. I think a raid at Norsk Hostfest would be a good start. And, yes, Jethro, we’ll call you for that Google programming gig once we send Ravi back to New Delhi.

And did you hear? A Dickinson company is in the running to build a prototype for The Wall. I hope they’re better at it than the folks in my neck of the woods. Every time I drive to Lehr, there are cows on the road. We need better fences. Or more-obedient cattle.

Naturally, there were protesters and counter-protesters in Mandan. You could tell them apart based on the spelling errors. I don’t think racists should be against “Muslins.” What would they do without sheets?

Noted white supremacist Craig Cobb was there to show his support for the president. David Duke couldn’t make it because he was rallying support to defend statues of Colonel Sanders, Ashley Wilkes, The Dukes of Hazzard and Foghorn Leghorn.

Some of the president’s supporters yelled at Trump protesters to get a job. Silly. Everyone knows liberal protesters work for George Soros. I personally feel he should get more credit as a job creator.

Meanwhile, the Trump supporters were apparently multitasking, working, while supporting the president. That’s the sort of gumption that made America great before Obama made it un-great. To be fair, he did make Kenya great again.

Pretty much everyone was mad about Sen. Heidi Heitkamp riding on Air Force One with President Trump. Liberals already think she’s too far right. Republicans don’t think she has enough deferments to even qualify for high office. Kevin Cramer was especially displeased. Not only did Heidi get the window seat, she made him go to the galley three times for salted almonds. You know how Leftists are when it comes to free stuff. They’re always pulling themselves up by other people’s bootstraps. Then, to top it off, the president actually said nice things about Heidi when he spoke because he wants her to vote for tax breaks for the rich, to help out the poor.

North Dakota is a shining example of giving tax breaks to rich guys. That has taken the pressure from North Dakota property owners, who are more than happy to absorb the cost of tax breaks for Big Oil. Because having too much disposable income can get downright confusing.

I mean where do you invest — Wall Street or Russia? The easy answer is always invest in tax breaks for billionaires.

This time, it’s sure to trickle down. I’ll bet oil typhoon Harold Hamm, who thanks to North Dakota Republicans, could finally afford to fly in from Oklahoma to greet the president, threw dollar bills out the window of his Lear Jet.

Technically, that could result in a $500 fine under stiff new littering penalties passed by Republicans to protect the environment. However, if you spill a few thousand barrels of oil in North Dakota, all you have to do is write, “I was a bad boy,” a 100 times on the blackboard. You have to ease into these things.

I’m not saying we’re easy, but all the light bulbs in Bismarck are being swapped out with red ones. It’ll be purdy at Christmas.

© Tony Bender, 2017

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Dakota Night Astronomy Festival

“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.”Theodore Roosevelt

Gentle reader, if you are looking for the perfect autumn getaway in North Dakota, I suggest the fifth annual Dakota Night Astronomy Festival, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in beautiful Medora, N.D.

From the Theodore Roosevelt National Park press release:

“People have been marveling at the night skies for millennia,” said Chief of Interpretation Eileen Andes. “Dakota Nights celebrates the beauty and fragility of this awe-inspiring resource and makes it accessible and fun for people of all ages. You don’t have to be an astronomy expert; our festival has something for everyone.”

This weekend will be jam-packed with events in Medora as the festival coincides with the annual Theodore Roosevelt Symposium, sponsored by the TR Center (Dickinson, N.D.) and a street dance Saturday night. This year’s TR symposium focuses on TR the naturalist, so there will be many people there interested in all things wild, including the starry skies of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Saturday morning, Jim and I are volunteering for the festival, something we did at the first one in 2013. Maybe you’ll find us in Medora and say hi.

Go ahead, channel your inner child. Buy a rocket from Friends of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and shoot it off in Chimney Park!

P.S. While you are there, considering becoming a member of FOTRNP and Badlands Conservation Alliance, and join your voice with others, for a wild Bad Lands.