June 11

running the bases

A neighborhood game of tball at the local ball diamond is reminiscent of days gone by when whole neighborhoods of kids would get together to play ball at the school ball diamond, kinda like Spanky and Our Gang.  In this case it appeared to be a couple of baby sitters getting their charges out for some exercise and fresh air.

Almost tagged out

At least the teams were divided evenly, one big kid and one little kid — and they didn’t even have to stand to get picked to  a side. They just were divided up two on a side.

T-ball bunt

I used to shoot a lot of sports when I was a newspaper editor. Haven’t done it much for the last 5 or 6 years, but this was fun if not unpredictable.

Swing and a miss

Who’d have thought to bunt a t-ball?

And I don’t even know if they counted the strikes, but he didn’t care. He was having fun!

June 9

I do not understand why people are so destructive in their effort to improve their home space. Why do people cut down a perfectly good, healthy, mature tree that provides them with shade and adds to the city’s forest?I know in this case the young family turned their residential property in to a light commercial property and used up their back yard with construction equipment and a large shop.  So, where does the kid play?  They cut down this healthy tree to put up a swing set.Later this summer, I’ll show you the barren yard, or well as much of it as I can around the construction equipment.  Not a good conversion of residential property and not a good thing for the neighborhood, my neighborhood. These are my across-the-street neighbors.North Dakota lives up to its reputation as a treeless state.  At one time, the state had a flourishing natural forest along the Missouri River. Then, someone down stream decided to North Dakota should be the catch basin for all the water that flows downstream, and dams were built flooding much of North Dakota’s natural forest.

For 100 years conservationists and economists have encouraged planting of trees in North Dakota.  Nurseries have developed strains of trees that will grow here in this harsh winter climate.  Today, according to the Ag Extension service, nearly 95% of the state’s forest has been hand-planted.

So, why destroy what has taken so long to build?  I doubt if the hot sunny swing set play ground will be as inviting as was the cool shaded front lawn that is now gone.

June 3

A cold and wet night for fun. The annual carnival visit to the Missouri River Expo  can be a lot of fun, but not on this night.    Well at least not for many families. A few hard-core sliders had to take their zip down the fun slide, and frankly that would be fun to have in my backyard, but I have trouble spending money to someone who provides a controlled descent to earth.

Even the big ferris wheel wasn’t attracting many riders.  It had been raining all day and wasn’t very warm that night, so perhaps a more sunny and pleasant evening would have increased the crowds.

Is it my imagination, or do you also sense that the visiting carnival isn’t  the popular event that it once was?

April 29

Like an old rancher whose lines and creases in his face are etched with stories and history, so too are the old farm houses that dot North Dakota’s landscape.  This old building tells a story of an original home for a family that grew and needed a larger home.  If you look closely inside, you can see the stairs leading up to what must have been bedrooms.The foundation may not have been what it should have been at the add-on point and so the boards push together at that seam.  The chimney though is strong and straight, a contrast to the old building.

I shot this image north and east of Wilton. I’m not sure I could even find it again.

The texture of the green grass, the lavender sunset and the wind-softened wood create an attractive contrast.

January 19

Homesteader's barn

Under President T Roosevelt, an old homesteader broke ground up above the Missouri River, south of what is now Washburn.  He tilled the ground, collecting rocks, raising a crop, building a barn, establishing his herd of cattle.  The rocks he collected, he added to the barn for his living quarters.  He lived there all his life.  Never married. Never had a family.  He died there, and it remains as it was when he died.

I love this old barn. It speaks of so much hard work and of a time when North Dakota was established as solid, hardworking people in a solid hardworking state.  The barn is falling in.  It won’t last much longer. I shoot it often.  On this date, January 19, I was passing by and was drawn in to the driveway, walking through snow where no one had walked for a while, I recorded it once again.

Face of the old homesteader's barn

January 13

Kharem and Oliver unwrap Christmas presents

After the Christmas rush, family still congregates to celebrate the traditional Christmas gift exchange.  Every Christmas I can remember, even as a child has one traditional gift — the gift of books.  This was no exception, a story book for Oliver and a book of brain teasers for Kharem.

Kharem and Oliver, close as mother and son

January 12

Next generations of Kopps

Winter is a good time in North Dakota to huddle down with family.  Indoor activities are occassionally broken by the foray to the outdoors.  In this case, 2-year-old Oliver wasn’t quite prepared for winter’s cold and his exposure to North Dakota’s winter lasted only minutes.

The snow bank dwarf's 2-year old Oliver