Father of our A&E editor shares what makes life worth living
We often look to our elders for guidance and advice. Many times, it is our family members that we end up seeking out when we feel lost.
What does a 56-year-old farmer know about the good life? It depends on who you talk to.
Below is a list of some of life’s simple pleasures, according to my dad, Matt Brandjord.
‘Pets to lie on me when I’m on the couch’
Some dads pretend they don’t like the pets that they are “forced” to co-habitat with. My dad is not one of them. He is one of the biggest animal lovers I know, and I think our pets can sense it.
We have two house cats and dogs that all go together to wake my dad up every morning. They then follow him out to the mailbox to grab the morning paper and proceed to crowd around and on him while he fails to read the paper.
This has become such a ritual that he often declares he will become a “professional pet mat” when he retires from farming.
Coffee and dessert
A true Norwegian (or a true farmer, depending on how you look at it) at heart, my dad enjoys a nice cup of coffee with his dessert. Pie, cake, caramel rolls and especially ice cream are all perfect pairings to a good ol’ cup of joe.
When I was growing up, one of my favorite calls from my dad was when he asked if I wanted to meet at Pride Dairy for ice cream and coffee.
He is really adamant about this ritual too. When my family visited me in India, he relentlessly explained to a confused waiter that we wanted both ice cream and coffee after our meal.
Based on Ayurvedic principles, it is seen as undesirable to mix such a cold food with such a hot beverage, a belief I had to explain to my perplexed family.
Luckily my hometown of Bottineau, North Dakota has no shortage of pancake benefits, including a personal favorite, the annual Souris Volunteer Fire Department’s. I have many fond memories of Mickey Mouse pancakes and orange juice in the fire hall with my dad.
Those who have not experienced a small town pancake benefit are really missing out. You get all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausage (usually venison) and get to help a community member or organization in need at the same time. It also happens to be one of my dad’s favorite events.
My dad is a big fan of breakfast in general and is the designated “Sunday brunch chef” in our house. When I asked him why pancakes were on his list he said, “There are lots of great memories involving pancakes and breakfast.”
My dad admits he could live off cheeseburgers. Everyone has that one dish they order at a new restaurant if they are wary of the other entrées, and my dad’s is a cheeseburger and fries.
It is no secret I get much of my music taste from my dad. His records and the Brandon, MB, Canada classic rock station helped me form a strong foundation of music appreciation.
Some of his favorite bands include AC/DC (Brian Johnson era), Bob Seger, STYX and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He also has some interesting, obscure tastes the likes of Moon Martin and local legend Art Rude.
As a family, we used to watch “That Metal Show” on Sunday after the news before its cancelation and eagerly devoured “Behind the Music” episodes.
It is the countless in-depth conversations with my dad that nurtures my fascination with music.
Chevy pickups and old semi-trucks
This one may raise some controversy. Pickup lovers are very particular about where their allegiances lie. To my dad, Chevy pickups are as much an American classic as the cheeseburger. It is the only kind of pickup truck he has ever had.
My dad’s favorite is his grandfather Rudolph’s black 1950 Chevy pickup truck. It is almost entirely original, including the wood floor of the box, which sports a burn spot from when the remains of a bonfire were prematurely disposed of.
As far as old semi-trucks, my dad has a soft spot in his heart for them as well. He has an associate degree in diesel mechanics, and as he put it, “has been working on them ever since.” It helps that he actually has a use for them on the farm.
Summer mornings and warm days in the boat
The older my dad gets, the less he cares for the winter. Gone is the young man who once got frostbite on his face so bad snowmobiling that he formed black blisters on his cheeks. Now my dad longs for the warmth of the summer, even though he admits we really only get “five actual summer days a year in North Dakota”.
In 2013, my parents finally achieved their goal of purchasing a boat to use up at Lake Metigoshe. Ever since, my dad has tried to make it a priority to get everyone together onboard, whether for a tubing adventure or a leisurely cruise around the lake.
Take it from my dad when he says, “It’s hard to beat early morning air and the sunrise in the summer.”