Merry Christmas

It’s time. After all the hurry and flurry of December, and its preparations for Christmas, it’s time for the quiet to set in.

Today’s sliver of a Moon triangulates with Jupiter and the star Spica in the south eastern sky while Venus brightens up the west this time of year. Nights are long and the small tree with white lights and gifts galore creates a Christmas card scene.

Now that the Winter Solstice has come and gone, the days will become markedly brighter as we reach the peak of 2016 and then slide into 2017. When we were in high school and talked about the year 2000 – there were times I thought “I will never live that long.” Yet, here we are. After the loss of my mother in October, I now assume the role of Grandmother in the highest degree. My lovely cousin, Sheila, who also lost her mother earlier this year sent me a card with this appropriate verse – “On the darkest days, when I feel inadequate, unloved and unworthy; I remember whose daughter I am and I straighten my crown.”

Now, it could be interpreted two ways. One – I am my mother’s daughter and I really want to make her proud of me and how she raised me … and this is good to remember. However, just now I was struck by a thought, methinks a divine nudging, to remember that I am also a daughter of the child born this day in Bethlehem. A child who grows to become Jesus, my father, and whose crown I will someday inherit and once again be reunited with my mom and Aunt Alice and Grandma Christina and Emma and we can bake and paint and laugh together forever.

In the meantime, here’s a small memory from Women Behind the Plow. Our latest book project at the Tri-County Tourism Alliance:

Mary Ann Lehr said, “There was always a Christmas program at church and it was the one night Mary Ann did not have to wear long stockings and a garter belt. “I could never get out of my garter belt,” she said. “In the wintertime, you had to wear long stockings, you know. I don’t think ski pants were in then, so I had to wear that garter belt which would go over your shoulders and then you would have all those garters dangling and you’d be always putting the wrong garter on the wrong leg …

“But on Christmas Eve I never had to wear long stockings. I had a lot of red velvet dresses that mom would make. I had an alpaca coat and that had red trim on the cuffs and red trim on the buttons down the front and I had a red velvet bonnet and a red velvet muff which I have to this day.”

The exhibit will be in Jamestown beginning January 12; so please support the arts, and the history, of this exhibit. And stay tuned, for the book – presales to begin early next year.

Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2017.

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Imagine being stormed in … for weeks?

It’s been a long time since this blog has seen any real action, however as we begin to earnestly work on the book, Women Behind the Plow, it will again be a snapshot of the rich interviews that have been conducted with German Russian women from the Tri-County area of Emmons County, Logan County and McIntosh County, N.D.

Whew that was a long sentence.

North winds are redistributing snow today, filling in the already narrow path that leads to the county road winding to the highway that takes us into town. Oh, we would be okay out here for a long time given the supply of meat and vegetables we have stored just for winter use. But, imagine not being able to get to town for a month or two because of the snowbanks reaching the eves of your house.

Well, one of the interviews placed on the pages of the Tri-County Tourism’s book project Women Behind the Plow provides a little, somewhat humorous, insight into life on the High Plains without roads and snowplows, much less the Internet, so I can reach out to you this blustery morning.

FROM THE INTERVIEW WITH Alice (Rohrich) Kramer:

“Well, you know it was in ‘54, I didn’t get out of the house for three full months,” Alice said. “Three full months, we had so much snow. There were no roads; we didn’t have good roads at that time. You couldn’t travel. So, the neighbors, my brother and the neighbors, and Pete, they took the sled and drove to Temvik. Jake Kuntz used to live there and he took them down to Linton with the car to get groceries and stuff. Oh, did he buy groceries at that time? Everything big.”
Pete stocked up not knowing when he would be able to return for more supplies.
Alice said, “We were getting low on groceries. And for two weeks, we had money, but we didn’t get to town. All we ate was eggs. You didn’t have to say what did you cook today; it was how have you got the eggs.”
Pete laughed and confirmed the time they ate so many eggs that the question was never “Honey, what have you cooked today?”  It was instead, “Honey, how have you got the eggs today?”

Imagine that?

The book will be filled with old photos, stories and family history coinciding with the traveling photo exhibit of the same name. So we are asking as you contemplate your good fortune at not having to travel anywhere today (if you are in the storm area of central and western North Dakota) and be on the lookout for the presale of Women Behind the Plow.

Book cover reveal coming before Christmas.Stay warm and safe.

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The book is in the works

Work has begun on the Women Behind the Plow Book about life on the farm for the women who supported their husbands, or maybe even took on the chores of a farm as widows. As we work our way through the interviews, most of the video interviews will be provided to Dakota Media Access for airing.

Starting July 23, 3 pm, Women Behind the Plow will air on channels 12 & 612 HD in the Bismarck/Mandan area.  Also, the program can be watched on as it airs or video on demand  on .

So enjoy these wonderful women and get ready to purchase your copy of Women Behind the Plow, a companion book to Ewiger Saatz. It will be loaded with hilarious stories and wonderful old photos of farm life.

If you need more information before the pre-sale announcement, please email

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The books are done, the books are done

Watch your mail folks. If you ordered a Ready for School book they are being shipped today… and they are beautiful… If you haven’t committed to one yet, now is the time…


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The proof is in the mail

It’s pretty nerve wracking to get the proof of a book back from the printers. It means that when you take one last look at it… you let it go. It’s like launching a child after high school. Out into the world it goes – and you are no longer in control. If you made any mistakes you hope that they won’t be life-threatening ones; if you did good, you hope someone will recognize your good work; and lastly you wish for only goodness to come to everyone who has a chance to see your work.

So here it is, the day we let go of Ready for School, the Tri-County Tourism Alliance’s latest book project. It’s small, just a memory-jogging light read with awesome photos.

Yesterday, I toured Legacy High School in Bismarck. I can only say, it was more than overwhelming to see the many rooms, alternative classrooms, the spacious lunch area, lots of light, an auditorium to beat all auditoriums. Education has changed greatly.

That doesn’t prevent us from savoring the way it used to be, in its infancy here in North Dakota. The alliance is proud to be a part of the preservation of these memories and we are hoping that reading this book will evoke your own sweet memories of childhood and school.

web cover shot

This cover photos remains the reason we compiled these tidbits of joy. It was a photo from the
collection of Rose (Voller) Glas, Linton, North Dakota. Glued to the page of an old black scrapbook, someone had written across the page, “ready for school.” What a perfect reminder of what it was like being a student attending country schools – a lunch pail, text books and a good laugh. Pictured are (l-r) Steve, Betty and Hilda Voller. Circa 1930s.

So, please order your books as soon as possible. As always, we are limited in the number we are printing. The cover will be printed on velvet-touch paper. You will love the feel.

Have you stories to share? Please email them and photos with descriptions and years to PS: Clicking on that will direct you to the order blank…



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Alliance’s second book features memories of country schools in Emmons County, Logan County and McIntosh County

“Ready for School,” a new book published by the Tri-County Tourism Alliance will be on the shelf by the end of March. The alliance is offering a pre-sale opportunity for its latest collection of memories, photos and quotes about country schools in German-Russian country.

This 12×12 companion book to “Ewiger Saatz – Everlasting Yeast,” is 36 pages of memory-invoking essays and recollections of what it was like to go to a one-room schoolhouse. There are about 40 photos of country school life in this black and white beautifully designed book written and edited by Sue Balcom, historian for the alliance.

The contents of this book was gleaned from the interviews for “Ewiger Saatz” and the upcoming book, “Women Behind the Plow,” a compilation of life on the farm with photos and interviews from women in the tri-county area of Emmons, Logan and McIntosh. The release date for Women Behind the Plow will be announced later this year. Currently the alliance’s photo exhibit “Women Behind the Plow” is hanging at NDSU Main Library from March 14 to April 22.

Single copies of “Ready for School” are $19.95, plus applicable tax and shipping. If you order five books for your family before May 1, receive the sixth copy free. Books should be ready to mail by the end of March or sooner. To download an order blank visit or email

For more information on the photo exhibit or wholesale book orders, call Sue Balcom at 701-527-5169. Also, if you have memories or photos to share, we would like to hear from you.

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Order blank for pre-ordering Ready for School

Here is the order blank for anyone interested in purchasing Ready for School as we get ready to go to print. Pre-orders of 5 books receive one free. Get a copy for every member of your family.

Here is the order blank for you to download. If you have questions, please call 701-527-5169 and leave a message. Thank you for your support. As always the profits from this publication will go to more preservation work in the Tri-County Area….


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