Throwback post – November 2014

Looking over some of the past topics, and this one still rings true for me.


With a new grandbaby on the way, I was thinking of all that advice everybody loves to give new mommies.
The best piece of advice I ever got actually came when I was not actually a “new” parent any longer – and it came from a highly-unlikely source, but it is still the best advice I have ever heard for parents of all ages.
When your kids need a ride, for a school trip, to a dance, to a movie, to the mall, to the next county, even! – do not bother keeping score to say “I drove last time, it is Suzy’s mom’s turn to drive this time.” Just say “yes, I can drive.”
If you drive, you know where the kids are, who they are with, and what they are doing. Plus, you hear the blow-by-blow discussion between the kids in the back seat on the trip home – inside information you will not get when they arrive home and you ask “how was the dance?”

The worst piece of advice I got came from a highly trusted source, and I am ashamed to say I followed it for far too many years:  “do not let your kids hear you praise them, because it will give them a swelled head. If you are out with child A, praise child B.”
I did that for years.
It was wrong.
I am truly sorry I followed that piece of advice.

Praise your kids to other people – and let them hear you.
Trust me.
It is good advice.

Drunken Beanie Babies

Drunken Beanie Babies


Once upon a time, in a world not-so-very-far-away, there was a short-lived craze to “invest” in Beanie Babies. Several local people actually put their retirement account money into plush toys as an investment.

People were paying premium prices for “rare” toys, or the one that was currently in popular demand. While the manufacturer was selling them at the normal retail price of less-than-ten-bucks, people were going insane and paying out premium prices as an “investment” in the “rare” toys. The maker of the toys did not get any part of these high prices that were being paid by speculators.

These were an item currently being made. Now, Picasso paintings can command a premium price as an investment because the world contains a finite number of them, but an item still being produced can always be produced in increased quantities.

Which brings me to the “drunken” part of my tale…

The city of Minot sells a liquor license for $3,125 per year. That is what everybody should be able to pay to purchase a liquor license from the city of Minot. There should not be any limit on the number of liquor licenses issued in the city – just let the market determine how many places can turn a profit by selling liquor. If I want to buy a liquor license and hold dollar-per-cup keggers in my garage, that license should be available for me to purchase. If a club wants to sell beer at their club meetings, they should be able to buy the license to do so.

Current license holders are screaming objections to issuing more licenses. They claim if the city opens the doors to competition, it will cheat them out of all the money they spent on their investment.

Ummmmmm – no. Just like the people that paid a premium price for real estate after the flood, they paid the “going rate.”

Much like those gamblers that speculated a purchase of Beanie Baby “collectibles” would increase in value, they have discovered that not all investments will retain the same value we pay for them originally.

Adding a huge “application fee” for new license holders is wrong. Minot already has a reputation of being the “good ol’ boys club” and working hard at keeping out new people. Don’t add more fuel to that fire.

The No-Campfire Girls

The No Campfire Girls

book review by Nikki D Paulsen


As we sit back and search for a break from all the holiday whirlwind, a fun book shows up at the top of my reading stack. The No-Campfire Girls by Mark R. Hunter (ISBN 97814497559264)

While people around me are singing “White Christmas” and telling me this snow is a good thing because “We neeeeeeeeed a white Christmas!”…I am heartily sick of snow. Having yet another blizzard in the forecast does not please me.

Escaping into a sultry summer day was exactly what I needed to get my mind off the nasty weather. And this book is just plain fun, set in a “Lookout Girls” summer camp. (Disclaimer – part of the proceeds from this book go to “Friends of Camp Latonka” to assist Camp Latonka, of Wappapello, Missouri with maintenance and operating costs. While I never went to that camp, as the book points out, once you’re a Girl Scout, you’re always a Girl Scout!)

The Lookout Girl’s camp is Camp Inipi, located in southern Indiana. Camp Inipi is in the middle of the county that is part of a county-wide burn ban area, so campfires are forbidden. As campfires are a big part of camp life, the no-open-fires rule causes some muttering and aggravation among the campers.

I like the girls we get to know in this book — Beth, who is a bit of a know-it-all; shy Cassidy, who did not realize how important her heritage was to her until she found herself fighting to defend it; and Rotten Ronnie, who shot off fireworks during the worst drought in thirty years.

The big fire, however, was not caused by the fireworks. It was caused by lightning, which packs a far greater punch than a package of Black Cat firecrackers. The circumstances that placed the teenagers on the front line of the fire crew were both believable and realistic. As the author is a real fireman, the fire fighting scenes in the book actually taught me a few interesting things I did not know!

The No-Campfire Girls is available on the author’s website, on, or can be ordered through your local book retailer.

Christmas Decorations


Christmas Decorations



I want to live in the house you see pictured on the Christmas cards. The one you see pictured in a two-page centerfold in every glossy magazine. The house with the perfect decorations in every single room.

So every year, while I am thinking about Christmas, I have these visions of putting up a Christmas tree in every room of my house. Family lore told me that I had an aunt that did have a tree in every room, so I think it is possible to do. When I was a child, I heard the stories of my Aunt Beece and her amazing decorations every year. We lived a thousand miles apart, and so I never did get to see her decorations in person. I never even saw very many pictures of them! Kids today, growing up with email and digital cameras and internet connections, will never understand why photographic sharing was limited “back in the day.”

Without having actual pictures to see exactly what my Aunt Beece was putting up, my mind came up with spectacular decorations, stuff with amazing special effects that would make Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg jealous. In my mind’s eye, I can see all of these lovely Christmas trees. I picture each of them with a different decorating theme, something special and incredible for each room.

Now that I have my own house, I imagine replicating these amazing decorations from my imagination. I could put up one tree with all doll decorations – Barbie and Raggedy Ann and Madame Alexander will all play nicely with each other, and maybe I could also hang some of those adorable tiny china teapots for them to have a treat at teatime.

I could put up a tree with fun Star Trek ornaments, so we can Live Long and Prosper. My grandsons would be thrilled to see a tree filled with all different trains and trucks and tractors – but I am not sure how long those would actually stay on the tree. It is fun to imagine all the different “themes” I could have on multiple trees.

Reality, however, always speaks up.

Silly old reality, anyway!

Reality points out how much work would be involved in trying to set up and organize multiple Christmas trees.

I scoff at Reality.

Starting with good intentions, I carve out a spot in my living room for the first tree. I start looking in other rooms for the perfect location to set up tree number two and tree number three.

Then I remember the part where I am lazy, and it takes me far longer to finish decorating the first tree than originally planned. For example, this year’s tree is not-quite-halfway decorated at the moment. When I unwrap an ornament, I often need to stop to tell the story. I have a wardrobe of stocking hats on my tree, each hanging there because my little one made it in school. Nestled against the hubby’s fancy Terry Redlin collector ornament hangs the stocking hat made of yarn and a piece of cardboard tissue roll, up against the beautiful “You Paid HOW much?” ornament snuggles the snowman painted and created from a wooden paint stir stick.

I think about setting up fancy themed Christmas trees. There is nothing fancy about the tree I set up, but it does have a theme – the theme of my tree is love.





intro post

Before I jump right in to telling everybody what to think and why to think it, a very quick intro for the friends that do not know me yet is needed. I enjoy meeting new people and making new friends.

I like meeting people in person, and I also like meeting them online, in the newspaper, and even in books. I do always refer to the people I have only met online as “my imaginary friend named Bob” rather than just as “my friend Bob.” If I have only communicated with Bob on the internet, Bob might very well be a cat in real life, after all.

I am not afraid of talking to strangers, often embarrassing my family by striking up conversations with random people in a crowd. After all, a stranger is just a friend you have not had the chance to meet yet.

Therefore, until I do get the chance to meet you in person, I will claim the title of your “new imaginary friend.” Like all good imaginary friends and beloved teddy bears, I am a little shabby around the edges, like a well-worn pair of jeans – soft and comfortable and starting to fray a bit, but still tough enough to keep going strong.

I am Nikki Paulsen and I live in the House at Pooh Corner.


I like coffee and popcorn and chocolate, but when I say it out loud, it arranges itself into the tune of that old Tom T Hall melody. While I do also like little baby ducks and old pickup trucks, I am not at all fond of rain.

I am allergic to peanuts and hard work and keeping my mouth shut. Avoiding contact with peanuts is much easier than avoiding the other two, I must admit.

I find the world to be an exciting place. I use exclamation points freely, not just in my writing but also in my face-to-face conversations. I do talk with my hands – the joke has been made (more than twice) that instead of gagging me, all they would have to do to keep me quiet is tie my hands behind my back.


I often leap before I look, and when I jump, I jump with both feet! I go all in on anything I care about. I celebrate my holidays with abandon, taking as much wide-eyed joy at the lights and sounds and spectacles of the Christmas season as any three-year-old. Shopping and baking and eating, oh, my!

As I write this, I am looking forward to squeezing in as many holiday events as I can honestly squish into my calendar: turning on the Christmas lights, attending the Singing Christmas Tree performance at the Minot First Assembly of God church, attending at least one and hopefully two elementary school music programs, attending the spaghetti dinner, Christmas Concert and Nativity display at Bishop Ryan High School, square dancing with friends, putting up a tree inside my own house, putting up my Christmas village, and, if the weather smiles upon me on a day off from other responsibilities, heading to Garrison for their amazing Dickens Festival!









I am searching for technical info so I can put a picture on the banner.  What I would consider the perfect solution is to have the last picture from the post be the “cover shot” at the top. If there was no photo uploaded for the post, I would have a generic picture.

I just uploaded one to be my **insert random technical word here** ummm – cannot remember, but it had to be square. So I <I>thought</I>  it was going to be showing up on my header for each page, but it did not appear there.

Somewhere in cyberspace, a picture of Eeyore and the turkeys is rotating endlessly…

I am coming to the end of my current work contract, so I will have a bit more time to actually sit down and put the pencil on the paper. This was not a writing position, but after a day of work I found no time to sit down and write.

Were I honest, I would admit that time does not have much to do with inspirational writing, but it has everything to do with the craft of putting words onto paper. Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Similar clichés are endless — 90% of accomplishment is just showing up, etc… The bottom line is, if I do not sit down and get the words out of my head and onto the paper, there will be nothing to show.



Turkeys And Scarecrows


We hunted for something like this for years, and finally realized that the only way to bring him into our Thanksgiving display was to make him ourselves!

Eeyore and Pooh were both made from one single sheet of exterior plywood.

I had thought about doing something larger, but discovered that using the half-sheet is as much weight as I can maneuver for painting. Even as a half sheet, it was still pretty heavy for me to lift.

In order to keep the plywood from scratching my table, I used an old afghan over the table to provide a cushion layer between the two flat pieces of wood.




This little scarecrow girl was the very first one we purchased for our autumn yard.

She still makes me smile.
She has held up very well over the years, as the November weather in North Dakota has plenty of extreme events. She has encountered wind and rain, ice and blizzards, sun and snow…but she keeps smiling!


Pooh was the other half of the plywood sheet.

He started out as a four-foot-square piece of plywood.

Now everybody knows how **I** spent my summer vacation!



Turkeys and scarecrows and big smiles galore!



Halloween 2016

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The lights are on at the House on Pooh Corner in the Neighborhood of Make Believe, and the radio station is playing the Halloween Pooh mix.


Winnie the Pooh on the porch, hiding in a pumpkin shell.

Perhaps he really liked the Mother Goose rhyme about Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater?



We had the photo op with Santa at Christmas last year.

It got a great deal of traffic, so we added a photo op for Halloween this year.

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The skeleton is for adult-height people and the pumpkin person is for shorter people. However, we saw several taller people bend down to be pumpkin girl!









From the front, at dusk. Have not got out to try to take after-dark pictures yet.









My swingers.

The scarecrow couple on the swing have been enjoying Halloween and Thanksgiving for many years now. One of them has still not located his trick-or-treat bucket — hopefully he will find it soon!



Indiana Author Combines Humor and History in Hoosier Hysterical


Indiana history gets turned on its head in a new book, Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving at All.

Mark R Hunter of Albion decided to celebrate Indiana’s bicentennial, and enlisted his wife, Emily, to poke some fun at Hoosier history and trivia. The result is a tongue-in-cheek romp through the state from prehistoric times on, covering everything from rotary jails, locks of Elvis hair, and even where the name “Indiana” was stolen from.

“When Emily didn’t roll her eyes at me, I knew I was on to something,” Mark says of the idea. The pair previously collaborated on two local history books: Images of America: Albion and Noble County, and Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With the Albion Fire Department. They also put together a collection of Mark’s humor columns, Slightly Off the Mark.

Mark R Hunter is also the author of three novels and a short story collection. In Hoosier Hysterical, he riffs on everything from early American history:

“Some say Columbus actually got here hundreds of years before 1492, on a Viking River Cruise.”

To ancient American burial mounds:

“The purpose of those mounds remained a puzzle, until a twelve year old boy from Clarksville pointed out the natives seemed to have no outhouses. This came as a tremendous shock to archeologists of the time, who were known to be very hands-on.”

To the origins of the nickname “Hoosier”:

“Indiana flatboat crewmen … were called “hoosa men” after the Indian word for corn, “hoosa”. This theory fails to account for the fact that the Indians never called corn “hoosa”.

And even how the Indiana state flag ended up in a Batman movie:

“Some brave souls talked of sneaking into Gotham to steal our flag back, but … you know … Batman.”

Along the way, Hoosier Hysterical covers wars, economics, sports, and politics, as well as everything from weather to famous Hoosiers. But the authors are quick to point out that, despite doing a large amount of research and trying to stay true to the facts, their main emphasis was on humor. “The problem with history isn’t that it’s not interesting,” Mark points out in the book’s forward: “It’s that it’s not made interesting.”

He quickly adds, “So sit back and learn something fun about history. When you’re done, read this book.”

Hoosier Hysteria and all the Hunters’ books can be found at,

And on Amazon at

Mark R Hunter can be reached by e-mail at

He can also be found on Facebook at, and on Twitter at @MarkRHunter

sneak peek for upcoming holiday fun

We have started working on some new additions for the 2016 holiday decorating season.DSCN1491

Because  the “photo op” was incredibly fun last Christmas, he is adding one for Halloween this year as well.

I kept watching the book of face to find pictures, but I never spotted any. Yet there were “new footprints” by the Santa photo booth several times daily, and we did spot it in use many different times.

While new outdoor Christmas decorations are easy to find, Thanksgiving is always giving us a challenge to find new outdoor decorations. From what we can see, the more common practice is to go directly from Halloween to Christmas in outdoor decorations. We take down the outside Halloween display when we close our Trick-or-Treat for the night, and then on the next available day, we put up Thanksgiving for November. We do not light the Christmas decorations until after the turkey is eaten, but it does take the entire month of November to get  them all set up! We actually begin setting up all of the Christmas lights as soon as we turn on the turkey lights!

Since it is so hard for us to find the Thanksgiving decorations to fit our theme, I have been talking for several years about the need to paint one.

This is finally the year to begin that project!


We primed the wood on both sides to help protect it from the weather. Outside décor in North Dakota needs to stand up to the elements!

From a single 4×8 sheet of plywood, we were able to make two Thanksgiving-themed characters. If we made  them any smaller than that, they would not be easily visible for people driving past. Anything larger than that would be too heavy for me to maneuver for the painting — I seem to spend as much time picking it up and moving it as I do actually painting. I have to keep turning it, or else I would be putting my arm into wet paint.




After he cut it out, I was able to start painting!



I am not a speedy painter, but I am enjoying the process!



As it is an outdoor decoration, it requires using exterior paint. So I paint a bit here and I paint a bit there  and then I have to let it dry. While this might not be the world’s largest paint-by-number project, it is certainly the biggest one that **I** have ever attempted!