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COLUMN: Spotting a childhood love in Nashville

COLUMN: Spotting a childhood love in Nashville

WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- Here’s a confession for you: When I was a kid, I wrote, stamped and addressed a fan letter to Reba McEntire, pretty convinced that the red-haired early-’90s country bombshell would write back. I mean, we had so much in common, her and I growing up on ranches and riding horses and everything. Oh, and then there’s the music and how I loved to sing, too, just like you, Reba, so there should be no question that the two of us would become pen pals. But the pen pal thing never panned out. Probably because my letters reached her at the pinnacle of her career and, well, the woman was busy.

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A vacation from the Bakken boom

A vacation from the Bakken boom

We sat on the sandy beach looking out at the Sea of Cortez. Just a couple airplane rides, just a few long hours taken from the day, and we were thousands of miles from the bitter cold and the golden grass sticking up out of the snow.

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Coming Home: Irresponsible girl shouldn’t be running on fumes

WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- When you live 30 miles (give or take) from the nearest gas station, a girl finds that she spends a great deal of time in her car.

Coming Home: Smallest houses can hold most love

WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- If you ask me about the memories I have of Christmases growing up on the ranch, a Norman Rockwell painting comes to mind.

WILLISTON ... LIVING THE DREAM: More you should know about the 'Mothership' culture in the Bakken

WILLISTON ... LIVING THE DREAM: More you should know about the 'Mothership' culture in the Bakken

WILLISTON, N.D. - The is the last of the four-part series regarding "Surviving The Mothership" culture in the Bakken. There are just a few more things you should know or notice: Executive assigned parking: This is a "Mothership" three-ring circus. The brass park nearest to the palace atrium, avoiding the ice, mud and snow that could leave a pinhead spot on their pin-striped Brooks Brothers suit, or God forbid, smudge a scale on their alligator boots.

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Superfans, Frisco tickets in hand, ride Bison roller coaster

FARGO, N.D. – If North Dakota State University wins Friday night’s FCS football semifinal against Sam Houston State, you can count on a stampede for tickets to Frisco, Texas. But don’t count on seeing superfans like Patrick Thiel in line. Those staunch Bison faithful bought their playoff tickets long ago. Some have even booked hotels and plane tickets, counting on the Herd getting a shot at a title four-peat on Jan. 10. “We got tickets in August. I got a buddy in the (Twin) Cities who said, ‘Anybody interested in investing in some tickets?’ And I said, ‘Yeah. Let’s do it,’ ” said Thiel, who teaches at Fargo’s Carl Ben Eielson Middle School.

WILLISTON ... LIVING THE DREAM: The Mothership Christmas, er, 'Holiday' Party

WILLISTON ... LIVING THE DREAM: The Mothership Christmas, er, 'Holiday' Party

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third in a series of columns based on the corporate takeover of the opportunities that exist in the Bakken oil patch. Check out thee prior two week's columns which were Parts 1 and 2.
WILLISTON, N.D. - Continuing on with the explanation of the The Mothership culture. Here is a little look into the Mothership "Holiday" (Christmas) Party. Hands down this is the worst social event in the history of large corporate America. If you can politically avoid it, do so. Here are some helpful tips to survive the Mothership "Holiday" party:

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COLUMN: Christmas prank on mother takes some thought

COLUMN: Christmas prank on mother takes some thought

WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- My mother’s the Christmas queen. She decks the halls with beautiful wreaths, handmade wooden cowboy Santas, twinkling white lights and matching Christmas bulbs. The tree stands upright, symmetrical, and perfect in the corner of a family room, glowing in the light of the subtle cinnamon candles flickering and highlighting the decor neatly placed on every surface. My mom’s Christmas is kind of like her, a woman who’s known for only taking one bite of a bite-sized Snickers bar and wrapping the other half back up to put it in the fridge for later. Yes, the woman has self-control. She understands when enough is just perfect enough. And so it goes with her Christmas decorations. Visit her house on the holidays and you will find fudge cut in perfect bite-sized squares on a simple red platter.

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COLUMN: It’s OK to be a little sad, grateful during the holidays

COLUMN: It’s OK to be a little sad, grateful during the holidays

WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- Early last month my uncle from Texas arrived. Pops took some time off work, and the entire Veeder Ranch turned into a hunting camp, just like it does every year at this time. There’s something about being out with the men who grew up here. My dad and his brother walk the draws they know so well, doing what they’ve always done. That’s always been comforting to me. Since dad’s health scare early this year, each tradition spent since his recovery has been regarded a little more precious than before. And as much as it’s made me grateful, it’s also made me shaky, a little hard and more aware of an unfair and imperfect world.

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WILLINGSTON ... LIVING THE DREAM:

WILLINGSTON ... LIVING THE DREAM:

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of a series of columns based on the corporate takeover of the opportunities that exist in the Bakken oil patch. Check out last week's column which was part one.
WILLISTON, N.D. - Seriously, there are opportunities for young people to survive and thrive in a large, corporate environment, but it's imperative to understand "Mothership culture," terms and worst practices. Here are some basic fundamentals:

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Coming Home: On the hunt for something wild

WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- I’m 10 or 11, and I’m bundled up with Carharts over my red barn jacket, over long underwear, topped off with a knit scarf, mittens, a beanie and a too-big, blaze-orange vest sort of dangling off my shoulders.

Calendar model: One-eyed pet gets enough nurturing to be featured as a cat of the day

Calendar model: One-eyed pet gets enough nurturing to be featured as a cat of the day

BISMARCK, N.D. -- Terra Cotta, named for her coloring, arrived at the Central Dakota Humane Society in June of 2006 with severely infected eyes and weighing a mere 1.1 pounds — far from being picture perfect. That is where two animal lovers, Lee and Jolene Podoll, for the first time met the cat that is being featured in a 2015 cat calendar. It’s called the Workman’s Publishing “365 Cats” calendar, with a cat photo for each day.

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COLUMN: Surviving the Mothership

COLUMN: Surviving the Mothership

WILLISTON, N.D. - Three to four years ago, it was real easy getting things done around here. Roughnecks came by the hundreds in their F350s or Silverado Duramaxes, pulling campers and squatting in the Walmart parking, or a field, or wherever. Local company offices were usually a 12-by-18-foot, wobbly box trailer with a propane tank, a water hose and a flex sewer line, and who knows or cared where it went. These pioneers were hard working and productive, returning back high value to their companies who just left them alone.

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COLUMN: We don't depend on the weatherman out here

COLUMN: We don't depend on the weatherman out here

WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- I took my last ride before the snow fell last Saturday. Even before the weatherman told us it was coming, we knew it. We have ways of knowing out here even before the air turns cold: ribbons of geese flying south in the gray sky, the thickening coats on our horses, frost on trees and a film of ice on stock dams in the morning, an ache in my left wrist, arthritic from a fall off a horse that broke it in eighth grade, hunters out in orange, sneaking and waiting for a deer to fill their tag at their freezers.

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FACES OF THE BOOM: Musician tries to capture life in the Bakken

FACES OF THE BOOM: Musician tries to capture life in the Bakken

WILLISTON, N.D. -- Keesha Renna is drawn to stories, and in her adopted city of Williston, the tales of struggle, heartache and loneliness are boundless. Intrigued by a story she read on North Dakota’s fracking boom in Harper’s Magazine more than a year ago, Renna first landed in Minot for a few months, then moved to Williston in September 2013. Armed with a degree in anthropology, a stint as a bartender and three years as a music promoter, the 27-year-old from Boise, Idaho, is hoping her musical take on the Bakken will reflect the many perspectives she has experienced in “one of the most pivotal moments in my time.”

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