Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mom's going through a tough patch

Beverly Rolfsrud is presently at Knute Nelson Memorial Home in Alexandria, recuperating from a fall. She's 87 now and being old isn't always easy. Thanks for helping us support her and put the best on a difficult situation. We have plenty of fun memories of Mom, like the one above, where she's competing in a milking contest at a county fair. She looks great even on a milk stool under bossy.

Congratulations Ron & Linda Letnes

Ron and Linda have a purchase agreement to sell their Fort Collins house. That's a real achievement in this tough real estate market. We wish them all the best at closing, which is just weeks away.
Linda's final day as a school teacher is tomorrow. Then she's retired and entitled to all the benefits of years of diligence and hard work. May her retirement be filled with joy and grandchildren. Congratulations, well done.
Their plans to move to Minnesota continue and we'll keep you updated here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Nancy's nephew in global study

Griffin Sonstegaard, Gregg and Mary Sonstegaard's son, has been traveling around Europe doing his "global study." He attends St. Olaf College and I believe this is part of his education. Gregg is Nancy Rolfsrud's brother.
By the way, Mary and Gregg returned today from Norway. Their trip was just for fun.
Griffin, with the good people from Girona, Spain. Griffin sports a Russeservice headband. We are not sure which class this is, but it appears to be most educational.

It's Emily, it must be Wednesday

Yes, my dear understanding blog fans, it is Wednesday again and I'm at Grandma and Grandpa's. Today's big event was the initiation of my new high-chair, purchased by Mom for $7 at a garage sale. We test fired it this morning at breakfast and it worked great. Now Grandpa has hands free to take more pictures! Thanks for your patience everyone. We'll all get through this.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Anja's Ma in Madison half marathon

Just a warmup for Grandma's
Our niece, Shana Letnes Erickson, ran in the Madison half-Marathon over the weekend. This, after delivering Ron and Linda Rolfsrud Letnes the sweetest little grandchild last fall. So Mom is totally back in shape, it would seem, and she's just getting warmed up for Grandma's full marathon.

Shana reports: "The conditions were perfect from start to finish (much cooler than when we finished Ironman Wisconsin in 2005!). Anja slept through the entire race, but enjoyed watching rides and people at the "World's Largest Brat Fest" afterwards. Nothing beats a post-race brat!

"This was a good training race for Grandma's . . . lots of gas left in the tank at the finish."

You go, Shana!

Steve said no rain until tonight

Steve Rolfsrud was right. Scattered showers were reported this afternoon, but it was windy all day long. Stan drove through rain showers in Belle Plaine and Jordan, but no rain yet in Shakopee. Weird weather. Why is it so windy this spring? Just when you think it is safe to go outside. . .
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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Can you spot the Rolfsrud ringers?

Our good neighbors, Tom and Sandy Story, stopped by to meet Stan and Kathleen's relatives this fine Sunday morning. They are natural minglers. Can you identify them in this group photo by Al Jerdee?
This is a rare photo. Why? It is rare for Stan to be in photographs because he is usually taking them. It is rare for Bill, Solvieg's rare Mohican spouse, to even be in Minnesota. So to have Stan sitting beside Bill in Minnesota with Stan not taking the picture is rare indeed. No other such recent photographs are said to exist.

Becky and Al Jerdee drove from Des Moines to Shakopee today for Kathleen's waffles. Yes, they are that good. No, that's not the only reason they came. It was also to see Solvieg and Bill and to have some fun. Success on all counts is evidenced in this photo, above.

Photo left, Stan was asked to help out by cutting up some fruit this morning. He did cut the chocolate mint from the herb garden outside. Kathleen did the rest.

Virg didn't wait for Lucy to cool

Sosie and Bill don't just show up in town without having some ideas about entertaining themselves. The couple were coming in from California to see Mother in Alex and then join others for some fun Saturday and Sunday in Minneapolis.
Alexandria was easy. Find a summer sausage worthy of the old Garfield Creamery to take back home to old friend Rand Elness in a rest home in California. Mission accomplished.
Minneapolis? Sosie's internet guide said that for a savvy traveler, a Jucy Lucy at Matt's is just the thing. The internets say it is a unique hamburger treat in a bar that has been honored for not changing anything for 54 years. A real throwback. Just the thing, Sosie said.

Sosie wants, Sosie gets.
We found Matt's Bar on Cedar Ave just about where Becky Stewart Rolfsrud said it would be. Becky grew up in the same south Minneapolis neighborhood and Matt's was an institution then. The neighborhood has changed, but not Matt's. You can play B17 on the jukebox, but they don't take VISA at Matt's. They don't take Am Express either or any other form of plastic. No checks. You pay in cash only. What a concept!
Our party of 10 walked through the dimly-lit bar to the big booth in the back under the Blue Moon neon sign.

The busy waitress described the featured item: A jucy lucy is a double hamburger patty with a chunk of cheese sealed inside. One person can't eat a french-fry basket, you're better off splitting it. Splitting a jucy lucy is a bad idea because dividing it always makes a big, sticky mess. The mess is supposed to be on your chin and hands, not on the table.
Some history: When it was first tasted by the owner back in the 50s, as the melting cheese and grease ran down the corner of his mouth, the owner exclaimed, "Man, that is a juicy Lucy!" The name stuck. Apparently the owner was a better cook than speller.

Only the more courageous of our group ordered the signature item. Solvieg and Bill, having come all the way from the coast, had to have one for bragging rights, of course. Virg ordered one, (well done) as did Alex and Danny. Burgers, onions, cokes, french fries and beer finished the $84 order. We shared a pitcher of Blue Moon, which is a Belgian wheat beer with a citrus finish, according to Meister Bill.
The waitress delivered our order in a big wire basket, all labeled and wrapped in clean white paper. She passed the items out like Christmas presents. A snatch of lettuce for Kathleen's bun arrived by special order to provide the only green thing at the table.
The defining moment, according to a notice on the wall, asks which option the diner finds most painful: eating the jucy lucy immediately and burning your tongue, or going through the agony of waiting for the cheese to cool before devouring it.
I don't know how this may define our siblings, but just for the record: Solvieg waited for her cheese to cool, Virg wolfed his immediately.

Virg, just because Stan has paint. . .

"Virg, just because Stan has paint on his hands doesn't mean they aren't clean."

Somebody, it could have been Sosie, above, reassured Virgil, left, of the safety of his key lime pie last night. Stan had volunteered to disperse the chocolate squares and pie while his wife was being honored by the assemblage for having a birthday. Stan's left hand slipped while attempting to nudge Virg's sticky slice off the pie server, causing a small dent in the pie and an objection from the owner.

Subsequent discussion included the explanation of devices each family member has developed for remembering important family milestones, given their advancing ages, memory loss and ever-increasing number of birth dates. For example, long ago Steve and Virg mutually agreed to ignore each other's birthday in order to decrease the general pressure.

This innovative, practical idea gained no traction at the dinner table.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sosie & Bill feted at Virg & Becky's

Becky Rolfsrud surprised Kathleen with a birthday candle and gift tonight at the Solveig and Bill dinner. A Swedish flag topped off the event. Kathleen was grateful for the thoughtful exchange.

Sosie and Bill flew in yesterday to assess mother's situation at Knute Nelson Home in Alexandria where mother is recuperating from a fall.

They returned to Minneapolis tonight where Virg and Becky threw an Italian feast for Steve Rolfsrud, Briggs and Bill Siitari, Kathleen and Stan... and of course Aaron and Alex Rolfsrud.

Bill Shearer, a respected member of the Mohican tribe, was called upon for the invocation. In an almost mystical chant, he asked the Great Spirit to blessthisfoodtoouruse, Amen.

We've already noted that Aaron is a Justin Morneau look-a-like. Tonight Kathleen saw a resemblance to New York's Derek Jeter in Alex.

Alex is a Geek at Best Buy and tonight he regaled diners with a story about an electrical engineer's wife who couldn't get any sound from her computer. Her husband had spent two hours working on it, she said, and still no sound.

Our man Alex booted the computer and within seconds had it "repaired." The problem? The mute button was on.

Briggs and Bill are shopping for an apartment in Boston where Briggs will be attending Harvard this fall. Boston is a great town to visit -- Fenway Park -- historic everything -- seacoast. It is an expensive town to visit, so we suggested that Steve subsidize an extra bedroom. Sort of a Briggs/Bill B&B for visiting relatives. Steve says he's already subsidizing the operation, to say nothing of driving a U-Haul to Boston on Labor Day this fall. He suggested relatives look into a time share and let B&B live in it. Looks like Super 8 again.

Discussion centered for a time on Steve's intelligence. According to Steve, and backed incredulously by Briggs, Nancy thinks her husband is very smart, perhaps even a genius and has confided this opinion to him in private.

This assertion created quite a stir at the dinner table. After all, Nancy, a class valedictorian and Master of Psychology, should know what she's talking about, her choice in men notwithstanding. Unfortunately, she was with friends at Lutsen last night and not present to validate the discussion, leaving Steve as the sole defender of his position, with Briggs simply raising her eyebrows from time to time.

Bill Shearer would eventually settle the matter by stating that he could go along with the Genius distinction, if it were spelled Genyus.
Tomorrow, during waffles by Kathleen, Becky and Al will join us for a trip to the Wexford where we'll see a model of Linda and Ron's new digs. Then on to Matt's for a jucy lucy, something Solvieg and Bill googled as a fun thing to do whenever in the Twin Cities.

Aaron Rolfsrud just sold his motorcycle. An honest-to-goodness crotch rocket. We have been spared the anxiety of knowing that he had one, but turns out he's been riding it for two years. ("Motorcycles don't cause accidents, people cause accidents," we were told last night.) Now he says he has sold it, but hasn't got the money from the buyer for it yet. And just when gas prices are going up. . .

Virgil? Some advice here? Or are you just grateful to have him back on four wheels?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Previews of coming attractions

Sosie and Bill Shearer are in Minneapolis this morning, on their way to Beverly's Knute Nelson Home in Alexandria. We'll get a full report Saturday night over Buca's Italian at Virg and Becky's in Eden Prairie. Sunday morning Becky and Al will arrive from Iowa to join the fun for breakfast at Stan and Kathleen's in Shakopee. We'll all spend Sunday looking at Linda and Ron's new house in Blaine, inspecting the Lake Cabin, and eating Jucy Lucy's. Then it is back to California for Solveig and Bill, and on to IKEA for Becky and Al, in a whirlwind of activity worthy of the Letnes tradition.
Watch this blog for the exciting details of the upcoming Solveig and Bill Minnesota Memorial 500.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Missy scores at garage sale

Mustering her best Elmo impression (that's Elmo on Sesame Street, not the Elmo on Hawthorne Ave. in Alex) Emily K. fills out her mother's latest garage sale purchase. Missy and M. E. stormed the Rosemount area Saturday and found some great stuff, including a booster chair and old fashioned Farmer Says talking toy that doesn't take batteries. You wind it up. What a fresh concept!

Postscript: Grandma and Grandpa may be a little confused here. Is that Elmo or is it Ernie? It says Sesame Street on the buttons. We know it is not the Cookie Monster, or is it? Help. For sure it isn't Kermit.

So much to learn.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

K. Rolfsrud Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Co.

Kathleen's 2007 Strawberry Rhubarb Jam campaign is over with the finished product chilling in the frigidaire.
Yesterday she trimmed and chopped.
Today she boiled, steeped, poured off and sealed.

Other details are top secret.
It is an annual event that starts with a huge load of raw homegrown rhubarb stuffed in brown kraft bags.
Lawrence Hartmann, Laurie's late father, used to deliver it from his garden. He's gone now, but not the memory of the help he gave every year Kathleen took down the recipe box and the jars.

Kathleen has a certain number of "regular customers" looking forward to their annual treat. They'll get personal delivery soon, when the jars are polished and the ribbons tied.
But not to worry, Sosie and Bill, Kathleen says there will be plenty left to spread this Sunday morning at breakfast at our house.

Lilac time

We put new cedar chips under the miniature lilac bush on the corner of the house yesterday.

I sat on the steps last night for half an hour and got buzzed from the dense fragrance of the trapped lilacs, the nosy tang of the freshly-spread chips and the soft and gentle comfort of a 2000 EdMeades Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley.

I thought about all the lilac bushes I've ever known, starting with the fragrant old-fashioned bush by our septic tank on Lake Andrew all the way to the woody, gnarly companion in St. Paul that died when Kathleen's mother did.

Enroute to the Rolfsrud Reunion,

Jen stopped at the NitWit house.
On her way to the Rolfsrud Reunion from Hawaii, our Jennifer Kathleen Blethen stopped in California, took these pictures and sent this post:
From: Jennifer Kathleen
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2007 2:21 PM
To: Kathleen Rolfsrud
Cc: Marcelline Harrisonfields; Stan Rolfsrud; Missy Blethen
Subject: Having fun on the California Coast
Hi Mom and Stan and Marcelline and Missy, I'm in L.A.
I went camping with Elizabeth this weekend and we had a blast. We camped at San Simeon State Park, hung out in Cambria and drove down the coast.
Here's a few pictures for you, the funny house we are standing in front of is in Cambria and it's called the Nit Wit house.
Peace and Aloha,

Monday, May 21, 2007

If you're ever in trouble in Yuma...

If you're ever in Yuma, you've got friends.
Meet Tony and Yvonne Brewer. Tony is Kathleen's nephew. He's a graduate of Cretin High in St. Paul. Then he spent four years in the Navy. Right now he's a deputy sheriff in Yuma, Arizona. He's been in law enforcement for the past 20 years, sometimes as a baliff, on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) team and as a sheriff's deputy patrolling the vast open spaces of southern Arizona.
Yvonne is presently in nurses training as they raise their family, Evelyn and Andrew.
Tony had a birthday May 14. He's 48. That's his mother, Mary Lou Brewer, Kathleen's older sister, at right. Mary Lou lives with her husband, David, in Durango, Co. Tony's sister Heidi is the Durango hospital dietician.

Here's Tony's birthday note from Yuma:

Hi Aunt Kathleen and Stan,
Thank you very much for the beautiful card you both sent me. I was very surprised and was happy to have received it. How are things in MN? Everything here is fine, Yvonne is getting ready for another semester of school all the while trying to prepare Evelyn for Jr. High. Andy is doing great, he will not be starting Kinder for another year but he loves being home with mom.
Love to you both,

"Do you think these
shoes make my
legs look chubby?"

Friday, May 18, 2007

Who wants oatmeal squares?

I do! I do! I do!
A quick response from Becky Rolfsrud Jerdee included the sought-after oatmeal squares recipe. In the photo above with Linda, Becky and Stan, we are playing in a hammock that eventually was hung on the front porch of our Lake Andrew home. (It appears that a barefoot Becky might have trouble chewing her square.)

Here's Becky's advisory:

Subject: oatmeal squares

It's the butter that'll kill ya. Mom probably used Crisco. Brown sugar is what makes it memorable.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 recipe of filling (Mom opted out)

1. In a medium bowl combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and baking soda.
Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture (skip the crumb step if you don't add a filling, see next step).

2. Press remaining crumb mixture into bottom of an ungreased 9-inch-square baking pan. Spread with desired filling (this is something we didn't have in our squares...Mom, no doubt, needed to simplify and worked the recipe quickly from memory; see filling possibilities below).
Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or unti the top is golden. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares.

Apricot Filling: In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup snipped dried apricots and 1/2 cup water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour; stir into apricot mixture. Cook and stir about 1 minute more or until thickened and bubbly.

Apple-Cranberry Filling: Combine 1 cup chunky applesauce, 2/3 cup dried cranberries or blueberries, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and dash ground cloves.

Easy Filling: Use 1 1/2 cups canned mincemeat or one 21-ounce can cherry or peach pie filling.
Raisin Filling: In a medium saucepan combine 3/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Add 1 1/4 cups golden raisins. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

Love, Becky

The ladies who lunch

Ruby Tuesday hosted the monthly meeting of life-long pals M'liss Switzer and Kathleen Neilson Rolfsrud yesterday afternoon. The meeting lasted four hours. Notes were not taken. M'liss celebrated her birthday recently and Kathleen is about to celebrate hers, so wishes were exchanged.

Meet the Abbey Road Foursome

Every Thursday afternoon this intrepid foursome ventures onto the fairways of the Stonebrooke Golf Club to battle all comers in the vaunted Stonebrooke Men's League. Molded by time and experience, the quartet's greatest fear is an appearance in the bottom quadrant of rankings posted in the Stonebrooke men's room.

Diligently they gather each week to earn their hallowed place in the Big Scorebook of What Doesn't Really Matter.

Meet them now in this exclusive photo essay:

Dick Crawford, age 52. Team Anchor. Shot a 39 two weeks ago. HANDICAP: low teens. Recent acquisition of a used $25 Ram driver from Play It Again Sports has resulted in consistent 250 yard drives. A good putter, Dick uses the claw technique to steady his grip. Newest addition to the team, he is in his third year. A gifted athlete. Steady.

Tom Story, Age 60. Swings lefthanded. Our best driver, has current license for Jefferson Bus Co. SPECIAL SKILLS: Can accurately identify low-flying aircraft over fairways. HANDICAP: Trick knee, has difficulty hearing the word "Fore" and any advice from teammates. BEST QUOTE: “Even a blind squirrel can sometimes find an acorn.”

Greg Collier, Age Unknown. Team sage. Recent graduate of numerous Arizona golf academies, he is often accompanied by his player/coach/wife Phyllis, who claims to beat him like a rented mule. HANDICAP: aching feet and sore muscles after Wednesday pilates class. BEST SCORE: a net zero on 16; SPECIAL SKILLS: he’s good looking, women love him and the cart girls all remember him. He can call them by their first names without reading their tags first. BEST QUOTE: "What happened to the break?"

Stan Rolfsrud, Age 59. But enough about him.