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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Autumn Aspen on BCA Annual Meeting Day

It has truly been a lovely Autumn here in Bismarck.  Today our small aspen grove rewarded us with golden glory.

Three of the aspen trees were a gift from dear Sheila Schafer, as a tribute to Jim's late mother.  Sheila came over to watch Cashman Nursery plant the trees. She loved to see trees planted and frequently gave these as memorial gifts to her friends and family. Jim told her these were "big ass aspen" and she just laughed her unique laugh. I've allowed a few of the sprouts to grow to enlarge the grove.

"A leaf falls, from joy." Virginia Woolf

Most of the leaves have fallen from the crab apple tree and I now look forward to the day when frost coats the fruit, each one becoming a cut glass jewel.

We had a dear friend, in town for meetings, over for Sunday brunch and then, early afternoon, I mixed the last of the apples in with some raspberries to bake a crisp to take to the Badlands Conservation Alliance annual meeting and potluck.  All of the food that members bring is so yummy, I could hardly wait.

After I was finished in the kitchen, Jim took over and made six more quarts of tomato juice (yes, there are still tomatoes and yes, he counted over 1,700 this year).  As a reminder, here are some photos of him working with the seedlings all those months ago, in our basement workshop.

He also cooked some cream cheese and bacon wrapped jalapeno peppers as per the recommendation of pepper aficionados.  The last of the bell peppers he had ripening in brown paper bags have now been blanched and tucked into the freezer for a winter's worth of stuffed peppers.

At 5 p.m. we gathered at the local Unitarian Church for the potluck and meeting, the room abuzz with friends catching up with one another and the food most excellent, including David Swenson's famous lasagna and numerous delicious desserts.  New faces were especially appreciated.

BCA Executive Director, Jan Swenson, gave an overview of the printed annual report and answered questions. Membership is at 350 and more memberships would be appreciated. Funding is an ongoing challenge, but we are resolute and continue to have an impact on critical issues.

President Craig Kilber presided over the meeting.

Jim Fuglie introduced the evening's speaker, Mandan-born Jay Clemens.

Jay talked about how the ND landscape shaped his ethics, and about the power of place.  His travels in China opened his eyes to how quickly pristine landscapes can be destroyed. He said "Badlands is the place where Theodore Roosevelt learned to listen" and "TR's time here was transformative for him."  Jay explained the Greater Elkhorn National Historic District (his two ranches are within the boundary of this district) and described the issues and challenges he faces as a badlands landowner, spending a great deal of time managing issues as a surface owner.  How fortunate we were to have him as our guest speaker and a member.

After the distribution of door prizes, it was time to call it a night, with everyone even more inspired to continue the work of BCA.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thousands of tomatoes

Well, today I said it to Jim. That statement that comes around every year: I don't want to see another tomato again for quite awhile.

By this point, we've converted thousands of tomatoes (Jim says over 1700 plus my sister gave us some of hers) into salsa, juice, marinara -- and today I canned fourteen quarts of tomato basil soup. Oh, and all of those BLTs we ate for several months.

Peeling all of these takes hours, on my feet, nine gallon bags worth this morning.  I started to whine that I feel like a canning factory worker rather than a retiree. But....but....but....

This will all be mighty tasty all the long North Dakota winter long, and I finished in time to take in this afternoon's Cinema 100 matinee. It was, in my humble opinion, a boring movie and I wish I had instead gone for a bike ride on such a beautiful day.

Yesterday I converted all the bacon fat we'd accumulated for the last year into suet for our feeder.  Thank heavens for this beast, my trusty KitchenAid mixer.

It had been our plan to have tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for supper, but we got a better offer, a night out with some of the best friends we could hope for in our revolutions around the sun. We are richly blessed.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Lucinda rocks my world

My close friends and husband know that the musician Lucinda Williams rocks my world.  Has since I first listened to her decades ago.

I have all of her recordings and I'm currently listening to "Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone" in my car.

She is the daughter of the late poet Miller Williams and a fierce songwriter. I've been fortunate enough to see her in concert three times, once with my three best friends on an epic trip to Boulder, Colorado, for my fiftieth birthday.  Lucinda is in my age bracket and I find her work authentic and inspiring.

My friend Watson will rub in that when he was attending college, Miller Williams gave a campus reading.  I'm completely envious.

My husband loves the music of Neil Young (actually, so do I) and has dozens of his recordings so our shelf with the "Ys" and the "Ws" is pretty darned full.

Here is a good video of Lucinda performing "Compassion" and another of "Cold Day in Hell."

When life is throwing me curve balls, I often pull out her CDs and fortify myself.  If I had to choose my favorite song of hers, it'd be "West.", probably because I'm so deeply a westerner. When she performed in Bismarck at the Belle, I requested the song via her social media. It wasn't on her setlist from previous concerts, but Eureka! she sang it. Bonus was that I got to take my daughter to that concert so she could see for herself why her mama reveres Lucinda.

Keep up the good work, lady.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Red Oak House garden notes no. 32

Red Splendor Crab-apple tree

This morning I worked in the cool autumn sunshine on yard chores, getting things done before the snow flies.  First, I tackled the pile of limbs we had accumulated over the summer in our trailer, breaking and sawing up the branches to add to our kindling pile.  Lizzie the Springer Spaniel happily nosed around in the fallen leaves and disappeared somewhere in the back returning with some strange thing she had found to eat.

Next, whilst admiring the colorful leaves on the trees and shrubs in our yard, I finished the garden cleanup and spread the straw on the garlic bed. Liz found this somewhat interesting. I'm looking forward to fewer muddy paw prints in the house.

The leaves on the juneberry bushes are striking as are the red-osier dogwoods.  We need rain. Loads of snow would be acceptable. Yes, I did say that.


Red-osier Dogwood

The red oak tree is looking glorious today, as are the hosta. The tree is a champion.

The quaking aspen have begun to turn in the past few days. Frost has killed the impatiens, but the butterflies continue to visit the asters and the ladybugs are present here and there, with an occasional renegade in the house. The late-blooming clematis also persists.

The slate-covered juncos have made their appearance in the yard. Junco hyemalis, hyemalis being New Latin for "wintery."  According to my book Words for Birds "the Latin comes from the Greek cheimon, 'winter', which is related to Sanskrit hima, 'snow.' The Junco is often called the 'snow bird,' as its arrival foretells the coming of winter to its southern range. Slate-colored refers to the sooty black upper-parts and the central part of the tail."

Last up for outdoor chores was to pick raspberries.  We are completely delighted that we are still picking raspberries -- in North Dakota!  I converted some of these to raspberry crisp and Jim loves raspberry pancakes above all breakfast foods.

Here's an interesting autumn development: the arrival of dozens of mayflies on our kitchen window. I notice oddities such as these.

A big bonus to the day was the arrival of Jim's sister Jill, with a batch of her freshly made lefse, converted from the potatoes Jim gave to her.  If you are interested, she takes orders and ships this Norwegian delicacy. Get in touch & I'll connect you with her.

Meanwhile, this is the soundtrack of our lives this time of year.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Long X Bridge: hold public meetings in central North Dakota

Near the Elkhorn Ranch. Photo by Jim Fuglie

Jim & I maintain a lifelong love affair with the Little Missouri River. It is one of the things that most deeply bond us together.  We know every mile of this river intimately.

What follows is my letter of last week to ND Department of Transportation regarding the Long X Bridge project.  The bridge is near to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Please consider writing a similar letter. The public deserves as robust a process as is possible. Let's bury NDDOT with pleas to hold more meetings.

October 14, 2017

Matt Linneman
North Dakota Department of Transportation
608 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0700

Dear Mr. Linneman,

I’m following up my comments at this week’s public meeting of the Little Missouri Scenic River Commission to write urging that your department schedule a public meeting in Bismarck regarding the Long X Bridge project.

I would also remind you that in a letter dated December 2, 2015, Jan Swenson of Badlands Conservation Alliance said the following: "Finally, the significance of this proposal and impacts both detrimental and beneficial to state and federal resources demands that public meetings be held across the state of North Dakota. Two public meetings, both located in far western North Dakota, are not sufficient to the issues at hand."

While I wholeheartedly agreed that there should be adequate public meetings in the Highway 85 corridor, this is a federal highway, and your department represents all North Dakotans, more than 80% of whom live east of Glen Ullin.  It is an undue burden to expect these citizens to have to travel so far to attend any of the meetings and well worth the department’s time to provide a greater range of opportunity to seek public comment from as many North Dakotans as possible.  After all, we all use this bridge and care about the natural resources of North Dakota.


Lillian Crook
Red Oak House
920 Arthur Drive
Bismarck, ND 58501
cc: Governor Doug Burgum
       Jan Swenson, Badlands Conservation Alliance

And here is Jim's blog on last week's meeting of the Little Missouri River Commission: Maybe the Governor shouldn't send engineers to represent him

While you are thinking about the river, here is part two of his blogs on the river: Conflicts of Interest Could Plague Scenic River Commission. You can't make this stuff up.

The river deserves better. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Badlands Conservation Alliance Annual Meeting 2017

BCA 2017 Annual Meeting
Sunday, October 22 at 5 pm CT
Unitarian Universalist Church, 818 Divide Avenue in Bismarck

Jay Clemens: Another Level of Commitment and Vision

Jay Clemens owns a good deal of private ranchland within the viewshed of the Elkhorn Ranch Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. He is committed to long term protection of his prime Badlands acreage, the Elkhorn Ranch, and in turn, the larger Little Missouri Scenic River valley.  A member of the Badlands Conservation Alliance, Clemens will share the story that led him to vigilant defense of this uniquely rich and historic landscape.  Having firsthand, on the ground experience with the impacts and negotiations of industrial development since the coming of the Bakken, Clemens is both pragmatist and visionary.

Clemens grew up in Mandan, ND.  He holds a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and was instrumental in building the in-house legal function at eBay.  Having recently retired as Senior Vice President at Lenora Group, Jay continues to devote a great deal of his time to service, including board positions for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation located in Dickinson and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Tweed Roosevelt, the great-grandson of 26th President Theodore Roosevelt, was earlier scheduled to speak at BCA’s annual meeting but will be unable to make his traditional fall hunting trip to North Dakota.

The BCA 2017 Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, October 22nd at 5 pm CT at the Unitarian Universalist Church (818 Divide AVE) in Bismarck. We will open with our traditional potluck; always a time for great conversation among friends, new and old.  Board elections and a brief business meeting will follow.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

October Trails

"But your solitude will be your home and haven even in the midst of very strange conditions, and from there you will discover all your paths." Ranier Maria Rilke

My path this week took me to Roughrider Country. 

Our first stop was a meeting of the Little Missouri River Commission in Dickinson, where we bore witness to this recent effort to bring the river's landowners to the table in making decisions that impact the river about which we care so much.  Reporter Amy Dalrymple writes about the meeting.

It was a marathon meeting, with a room full of people who care about the river. We had intended to spend the night at the Logging Camp Ranch, however, it was dark by the time the meeting ended, and we were going to be right back on the road the next morning, so we opted instead for a night at the Rough Rider Hotel in Medora, postponing our visit to the ranch for another time when we can linger in the pines.

The next morning's drive took us south on Highway 85 to Amidon, the county seat of my home country, Slope County.  Our first destination was the Pioneer Trails Regional Museum in Bowman.  It is a first-rate museum, with many informative displays, artfully designed.  The recognition of so many familiar names among the stalwarts who work and volunteer at this museum only added to our enjoyment. Kudos to the Pearsons and to Chris Fulton, and to all who have donated or loaned items for the collections.

It is in this display that the Bowman artist Chris Fulton's influence is most apparent.  Good for her!

Naturally, this photo caught my eye, the general being a very distant relative of mine.

The Fisk Expedition passed very nearby to the area that became my family home ranch and the person who has written the definitive book on Fort Dilts is an old family friend, Dean Pearson, with whom I grew up playing board games like "Risk" and "Monopoly."

The last display we lingered over featured the names and details of the area veterans. We found my father' and my husband's entry and many other people we have known over the years.

Outside the museum, we explored the sod house and the old church.

Onward we traveled to Hettinger, Jim's hometown.  He had been searching unsuccessfully in Bismarck for straw bales for mulching our garlic bed. As we neared the town, I suggested that perhaps the Hettinger Runnings might have some and, By Golly, they did. After a little debate, we decided to rearrange our load and take two home, perhaps one of the strangest things we've ever hauled in our Highlander to date.

Our next stop was the excellent Dakota Buttes Museum, which is filled with interesting displays and presents a colorful picture of the lifeways of this area of southwestern North Dakota.  Our cheerful guide was resident and volunteer extraordinaire, Loren Luckow, who proudly showed us some of the new acquisitions.

Last week, Jim had read in the Adams County Record that there was a new Thai restaurant so we headed there for a delicious lunch. Who knew that someday there would be a Thai place in this small town? Not the Fuglie kids when they were growing up, that I can say.

We finished our time in Hettinger with a visit to an old friend who lives in the nursing home there and then traveled on to tiny Haynes, ND where there is a beautiful old school, now abandoned, and an interesting petrified wood structure in what was the city park.

Finally, it was time to head north toward home. This being fall, Jim had brought along his shotgun and our Springer Spaniel, so we were watchful for pheasants. The sight of my man and his happy dog always warms my heart.

Our route took us through Regent.  I'd not yet seen the Enchanted Castle Hotel and Tavern so I begged that we stop for a drink and a lookie-loo.  Regent artist Gary Greff has created the sculptures found all along the Enchanted Highway and has converted the old school to this amusing new destination.

In the prairie dusk, we drove home, past Hettinger County's Black Butte.  It was time to get home to cheer on the Chicago Cubs to their late night victory from the comfort of our living room.

Back home Jim went to work on prepping next year's tomato seeds he has saved and freezing the last of this year's crop.

Oh, and I unloaded those straw bales and cleaned out the mess in the car.