Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hello Norge!

Bill and Solveig (nee Rolfsrud) Shearer are in Norway now and will be visiting with the folks in this photo. Norwegians Eva, Erik and Arne Rolfsrud came to visit us a few summers ago. We had a wonderful time. Arne is married now and has a child. Among other things, we took our cousins to the Renaissance Festival and stopped by the Nisse booth where they sell Norwegian goods and speak Norwegian.
If we hear anything from Solveig and Bill about their journey, we'll post it here.

Windowboxes 2007

Kathleen's windowboxes have peaked. The heat and drought are stressing everything right now. The corn across the road looks terrible. Loving care has kept these flowers radiant. Each year Kathleen tries something a little different... but her hot pink petunias and yellow marigolds always find a corner.
We watch the weather and see that the Rolfsrud Ranch seems to be getting rain in western North Dakota. We hope to get some word from our farmers soon.
The golf course out back dumps tons of water from the reservoirs onto the greens and fairways so the grass is verdant, but any little area missed missed by a sprinkler is crispy. Water hazards are drying up, gradually exposing hundreds of lost golf balls in the still-muddy bottoms.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Do you see the problem here?

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things is not the same.
Above you see the Four Freedoms, made famous by Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he stirred our nation to war. These Four Freedoms, Freedom from Fear, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion and Freedom from Want were immortalized by the great artist Norman Rockwell in the 1940s. Just the theme for a retro 1940s Newspaper Office remodeling project in Jordan, Minnesota you say? Agreed.

The Internet, with its AllPosters.com, provided easy and complete access to these classics at a reasonable price. I meticulously moused through my order, put it in my electronic shopping cart, reviewed it, printed it out, paid by secure Visa and hoped for the best.

I wanted four identical medium brown Sovia frames, matted in sand, 23x26.

Today the last of the Four Freedoms arrived. You see the result above. Alas, the downside of ordering online. What is obvious to you is not so obvious to the computer.

The AllPosters.com systems are most gracious. They have admitted that something is different, something is not right. And why not? I am communicating globally now at great length with Avitha and Agritha on the other side of the world. They can't actually do anything for me over there, the mistake was made in California or in the Ohio warehouse, but they can make me feel good with their copious form letters, laden with apologies and best wishes for my complete and utter satisfaction.

Next step? I will be emailed a label within 48 hours. This I will print out on my computer, attach it to the old package, drive it to my nearest UPS shipping center (just where is that, now) and ship.

When they can confirm their mistake, only then will the process restart. I suggested that I simply reorder online and they could refund me later when they get my package. Neither Avitha nor Agritha appear to have a form letter covering such an innovation, so my suggestion was ignored. So sorry. Americans are always in such a hurry.

Once upon a time, a real person would say, "We'll fix our mistake and get you the right one out tomorrow. My bad."

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things is not the same....

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Determined to participate

Briggs is pictured swinging at a tennis ball at some time during her athletic career. No further details from parents, but the determined look is vintage Briggs.

Steve Rolfsrud writes:
Dear Family and Friends:
Briggs and Bill are still determined to make it to Boston by Labor Day. Evidence supporting that determination include an improvement, albeit slight, in her circadian cycle and no more episodes of nausea and dizziness this past week.
Briggs is working two hours a day at the College of St. Catherine. And she is able to enjoy being outdoors some. Today she is riding a golf cart (cart paths only!) at the Mississippi Dunes golf course while Bill and their friends Bobby, Laurie and Steph golf. Briggs must wear a patch over her facial scar for six months whenever outdoors, and a soft neck brace, but otherwise is able to enjoy the freedom of being outdoors--although she would much rather be a participant than an observer.
Steady and moderate speed ahead!

Soli Deo Gloria

The solitude of an early Sunday morning at Clear Creek Lutheran, from the grave sites of Nils and Rebecca Rolfsrud and Halvor and Martha Rolfsrud.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Some notes on Mom's condition

Virgil, Bill and Solveig met with Beverly Rolfsrud's care providers at Knute Nelson Nursing Home in Alexandria this week. Californians Solveig and Bill Shearer stopped over on their way to Norway. Virgil Rolfsrud picked them up and chauffered them to Alexandria and back to the airport the next day.

The best news is that mother is no longer in pain after the falls and breaks she suffered this spring.

The three were able to take mother to her detached townhome for a brief visit and look around. Mother loves the home she purchased six years ago in the senior neighborhood near her church in Alexandria. (In the photo above, she waves goodbye as Stan and Kathleen depart from a visit last Thanksgiving)

At age 87, we all hope she will be able to return there, but she still has a number of challenges to overcome. She'll need assistance for the foreseeable future, and VB & S were all over that as information was gathered and options considered.

The elimination of pain medication has done wonders for her. Her spirits are much improved, her voice is stronger and she keeps improving her mobility skills.

We're grateful for good people at the nursing home and we are grateful for your thoughts and prayers for our dear mother.

The science of not getting too close

Our neighbors, Tom Story and John Gerken, are retired government workers. For decades, they served this nation by directing airplanes safely over the country's web of sky ways. Huddled unseen over radar scopes in a cavelike room in Farmington, they faithfully labored days, nights and weekends to protect travelers from danger.

Now deemed too old and befuddled to continue in this exacting role, the pair has been pensioned off, yes, but not tossed on the heap of retired rubble. Yet, anyway.

Monday through Thursday Tom and John teach the skills of air traffic control to young men and women, who are eager to follow their lead, learning to guide planes through safe air space. This they do at the nearby Aviation Center at Flying Cloud Airport. In the photo, above, Tom and John fake it in a multi-million dollar simulation lab that provides realistic experiences to the apprentice.

Prof. Tom only recently joined Prof. John in this post-retirement pursuit. Tom has held other part-time jobs. He also has his own business as a tax preparer.

But his favorite line of work is, (gulp) driving a bus. Yes. Tom drives one of those big long haul charter Jefferson Lines buses. He trained, qualified and got his license. Not surprising that he qualified, of course. Tom flew helicopters in Vietnam so he knows navigation. But why? Why would anyone, with all of Tom's talent, want the hassle of driving a bus through traffic, waiting for seniors to board, and killing time in a cheap hotel until the party is over and everyone wants to be driven home in the middle of the night?

Tom has never fully explained his yen to anyone. It is just something he has always been passionate about, since he was a lad, seated attentively right behind the bus driver, watching him work the controls. When asked why a distinguished air traffic control veteran would wish to wander the highways in his dotage, his partner just throws up his hands in despair. His wife just shrugs and laughs that "there is something sexy about a man in a uniform."

Today Tom stabbed at explaining his passion. He forwarded an Associated Press clip with the simple note: "This speaks for itself."

Prime Minister longs to drive bus
The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago says the one remaining ambition he wants to achieve in life is to drive a bus.
Patrick Manning, who has held the post twice, made the confession during a speech to the People's National Movement.
"I don't know if I ever told you all a secret desire I have, and I'll do it before I die, is to drive a bus," he said, according to the Trinidad Express Newspaper.
"I haven't made it yet, but one day I want to drive one of the long ones, you know the articulated ones."
The nation’s Public Transport Service Corporation’s Chief Executive Vincent Lynch however said it takes at least a month to qualify to drive a bus, Prime Minister or not.
Mr Lynch also said the PM must have a heavy-T driver's licence before even applying to become a bus-driver.
"You must have some feel for a heavy vehicle. There are laws governing the operation of public service vehicles," he insisted.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Birthday Egg Rolls for Boss

Hai Dang and his wife, Thuy Nugyen, presented Stan with his usual birthday platter of authentic homemade Vietnamese Egg Rolls for white guys. Thuy (little twee) makes 'em, Hai delivers them. Hai has been an invaluable employee and close friend for the past 10 years. The egg rolls are just one of many benefits to a wonderful relationship that has enriched Stan's life greatly over time. Hai just calls him "Boss." Hai doesn't like having his picture taken -- or his story told -- because he's more bashful than a Norwegian immigrant farmer. But it is Stan's birthday so Stan gets his wish, and this really great shot. Don't you think so?

Hey Lorlee, you okay?

Fire shut down I-35 in Dallas, Texas, today, where our loyal blog fan, Lorlee Bartos, works in a downtown office building. She lives and gardens in a classic neighborhood near a freeway. Fire started at around 9:30 so we assume you got to work, Lorlee, but how you getting home? Check in, Lorlee. And be careful out there in Dallas.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ladies lunch at Patrick's in Bachman's

The monthly luncheon meeting of school chums M'liss Bock and Kathleen Neilson was held today in the leafy green recesses of the Bachman's Garden Center on Lyndale, in Patrick's Bakery and Cafe. The meeting lasted the usual four hours. Despite sticky weather and the lack of air conditioning, participants were reasonably comfortable and managed to not sweat much at all.

Old business (Chuck and Stan) was discussed and approved.

New business included thorough discussions about the old St. Paul neighborhood, children and grandchildren, last night's CNN debate as well as the following topics:
  • Can Linda Letnes really predict your property taxes?
  • Texas Hold 'em strategy
  • Locations of upcoming poker games
  • Benefits of comfort height toilets
  • Baby Vikings outfit for Sosie to take to Norway
  • Husbands stuffing their garages with useless building materials
  • Having your picture taken under an umbrella so it looks like a hat
  • Getting leaks out of M'liss' much-loved camping trailer with gorilla tape
  • Fraidy holes

A proposed discussion item on topical estrogen vs. oral estrogen was tabled by M'liss. Tonight's supper for Chuck or Stan did not come up.

Respectfully submitted.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Beauty, sex & death in the coneflowers

A carefree butterfly enjoyed a romp in the coneflowers Monday, totally oblivious to the fate of her cousins just below.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

She's back at the beautiful St. Kate's

Briggs Rolfsrud Siitari has returned to the beautiful campus of the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul. It is her alma mater and she was married (above - click to see detail - particularly proud papa) in the chapel last fall. She's working there a bit already this summer as she recuperates from her accident and prepares for her Fall at Harvard.

Steve Rolfsrud writes:
Dear Family and Friends:
Briggs has left the nest! Wednesday she and Bill returned to their apartment in St. Paul. Thursday she even returned to work on a very part-time basis at the College of St. Catherine.
She is working two hours a day, slowly trying to work herself back into condition. Her circadian sleep cycle remains quite skewed--although overall she is able to get adequate rest. She has learned to pace herself which seems to have resolved her recent bouts with nausea.
Two pelvic fractures remain unhealed yet, meaning that she remains limited to walking short distances--a problem solved by a special parking permit at work.
She's not allowed to lift anything, but that problem has been solved by her husband Bill's able back. Bill has also returned to work.
They continue their optimistic preparations for moving to Boston come Sept. 1.
Thanks for checking in.

Yes Sosie, it isn't Kansas anymore

Garden nymphs cavorted amongst the Karen Rolfsrud Kirmis and Don Kirmis wildflower plantings on the brink of the vast Missouri River basin in western North Dakota.

The vista stretches beyond the river toward Williston near the Montana border. North Dakota is filled with surprises, as noted by sister Solveig Rolfsrud Shearer, a bit of a garden nymph herself, in a posting today:

Click on these images to enlarge.

Sosie writes: [This photo] takes me back to my only trip to western North Dakota and my surprise at all the beautiful vistas and gorgeous wildflowers. I had not imagined there would be hills; I expected flat plains, as in the three states below North Dakota. I expected wheat fields with only an occasional oil derrick. Not so!

The interior of Don and Karen's log cabin reflects the expansiveness of the open country. Colors are taken from the surrounding flora.

A steep drop-off on the east side of the cabin is picturesque as well. It is also the site of a poorly-kept family secret.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sometimes you just gotta let go

Doing his best Julie Andrews impression, Al Jerdee twirled and burst into a chorus from The Sound of Music while hiking the hills behind the Rolfsrud homestead. Al is the husband of Rebecca Rolfsrud Jerdee, who is in the white blouse, just ignoring him. Click to enlarge and see Al's joyful expression.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Larry Veeder always liked to draw

Fifty-one years ago Stan Rolfsrud sat as still as he could on a stool in Aunt Agnes' bright and cheery North Dakota farm kitchen while Cousin Larry Veeder drew this portrait with pencils, chalk and charcoal. Larry's mother was very proud of what her young Minnesota art school student could so easily create. All of Nils and Rebecca Rolfsrud's children appreciated creative work.

Last week the subject and artist were gathered at the Watford City Roosevelt Inn, along with Larry's wife, Carolyn, and daughter, Julia Crozier. Carolyn was Larry's high school sweetheart. While getting ready to drive out to the Rolfsrud Reunion, a pick up truck roared up and out jumped... Carolyn's favorite high school dance partner, who had just happened to hear a rumor that Carolyn was back in town. Larry never was much of a dancer, Carolyn explained later. Veeders and Rolfsruds just never have been much when it comes to moving around a dance floor, she laughed.
Larry says he was sort of a dreamer back then and didn't take much to farming either. He was a lot more interested in hunting, fishing and drawing. In 1955 he went to art school in Minnesota, then married Carolyn.

He worked in commercial art for about 13 years while living in Red Wing, Minnesota, where they had two daughters. Eventually Larry quit commercial art to become a fulltime painter, and he and Carolyn have done a lot of traveling, marketing his paintings all over the country.

Photo: Rosalie Veeder (Larry's sister), Larry, Carolyn, his brother, David, and his wife, Linnea. Agnes and Sidney Veeder's fourth child, LeRoy, died in 2003.

Their oldest is Kathy, a registered dietician, with two daughters, Lauren (1982) and Andrea (1986). She is married to Dennis Boos.

Their youngest is Julia, an artist who works in watercolor and oil pastel. She and Bill Crozier have three daughters, Alice (1983); Bridgette (1986) and Theresa (1989). Theresa accompanied her mother and grandparents to the reunion. She plans on attending Mankato University in the fall. She is interested in history. (photo at left, with her mother).
Carolyn and Larry spend winters at their home in Arizona.
Below, brother and sister, Larry and Rosalie -- she lives at Johnson Corners, very near the old Veeder family farm -- had a chat during the field trip. Rosalie was a principal organizer of the reunion.
At ages 96, 94 and 91, and with their spouses gone, sisters Becky, Linda and Solveig decided to move in together at the Wexford in Blaine.
One night Becky went upstairs and drew a bath. She put her foot in and paused. She yelled to the other sisters, "Was I getting in or out of the bath?"
Linda yelled back, "I don't know. I'll come up and see." She started up the stairs and paused. "Was I going up the stairs or down?"
Solveig was still sitting at the kitchen table, having tea and listening to her sisters. She shook her head and said, "I sure hope I never get that forgetful, knock on wood."
She then yelled, "I'll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who's at the door."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Emily visits the newspaper office. (Photo by Melissa Gilman)

Hey! Wake Up, it's Wednesday!

Grandma just couldn't wait this morning and jumped into her new beetle car early to go and pick me up so Mom wouldn't have to bring me to Shakopee. Sometimes Grandma just can't help it. Mom works really hard at the big office in Eden Prairie so she appreciates when Grandma gets crazy for me. Big field trip to Jordan is scheduled for today. Grandma and Grandpa are directing the redecorating of the town's newspaper office and I get to go along. They say it will be a real neat replica 1940s Norman Rockwell newspaper office theme. Retro, way before I was ever born.

Did you kow that Grandma and Grandpa actually used to live in famous Chaska, Minnesota? Grandpa was the hardest working editor of the paper there years and years ago and still is involved in its management. Well, Money Magazine, which I don't read, says it is the very best place to live in Minnesota and the 8th best place in the whole wide country. Wow. Maybe we'll move again. Have a look at our paper at http://www.chaskaherald.com/

Sunday, July 15, 2007

No plans for summer softball yet

Despite excellent progress, there are no plans yet for Briggs Rolfsrud Siitari to sign up for summer softball leagues in Mankato. This photograph was taken by her Uncle Stan when Briggs was a slaphitter for Mankato East, shown here playing in the state high school tournament during her senior year in high school. Sharp-eyed bloggers will spot Briggs' brother, Ford, scouting from behind the backstop.

Steve Rolfsrud writes:
Dear Family and Friends:
No, Briggs won't be playing softball any time soon.
But her former high school softball teammate, Ty Ries, now living in San Francisco, and Ty's mother, Carol, stopped in this past weekend. This was the weekend of the Lake Nokomis triathlon that Briggs and Ty had both entered.
Unfortunately Briggs had to cancel. We haven't heard yet how Ty did.
Lately, Briggs has been having some very good days and then some not so good days, including nausea and pain, probably related to overdoing it a bit at times, thinking that she was further along than she is.
Ups and downs
But today was a good day again. So as long as she paces herself better she should continue to improve. She did make it to Bill's parents' home in Buffalo for the weekend, but laid low most of the time while there.
She had been talking about going back to work in the next week or so, as she sees her orthopedic surgeon this week for a follow-up exam. But based on the recent ups and downs she may need to take it more slowly.
Bill is doing great--and will be heading back to work shortly.
Thanks for checking in.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

St. Paul Katie's back in action

After two months without her poker table, St. Paul Katie lost no time getting back into action. Our temporary live-ins closed on their new house on Wednesday, moved out of our basement, and Kathleen threw a poker party tonight. When this photo was taken she was still in the money with Shel Anderson and Mike Suel sitting on the big stacks. Kristi, Nancy, Dave and Sherri were already in the loser's lounge, enjoying their Pinot Noir and loose meats. Our former neighbor, Sheri, was back in town for a visit after two years on the East Coast for Michelin, so she had some fun with her old pokermates. Kristi and Shel Anderson, left; Kristi and Sherri, below.

News flash!
And tonight's winner is. . .

First: St. Paul Katie; Second place, Mike Suel - right; third place, Da Professor - left, and, below, losers shall remain nameless:

Meanwhile, in Rapid City

The Clary clan got together yesterday afternoon. These are relatives on Stan's mother's side, as in Beverly Brown Rolfsrud, as in her late brother Ralph's descendents. Left to right, back: Megan, Kristin, Dalton, Steven Front: Julie, Phyllis, Kevin, Nancy.

Host Nancy writes: "Kevin and the kids are here for a couple days. Not represented are Louis, who hides when we get out the camera, and Pat, the photographer. Julie's older kids, Chris and Sheryl, weren't here. Chris is in Minneapolis, and Sheryl was working here in Rapid."
Recently our Jennifer Kathleen Blethen spent some delightful times with Nancy and Pat in Rapid City -- see earlier posts on this blog.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ben & Jerry's?

Rena Rolfsrud Veeder and the Rev. Ben Veeder had two sons, Gerald and Ben. Last weekend they flew from their homes on the East coast to the Rolfsrud Reunion, along with some family members. Gerald worked for 32 years for Carolina Freight Carrier Corp. in Cherryville, North Carolina. Ben is an ordained minister and served parishes in a variety of locations throughout the country. Ben & Jerry's Dad, Ben, was also a minister and once served a congregation in Deadwood, South Dakota. Erling Rolfsrud brought his whole family out there to see his sister on a summer vacation, back in the 50s. The eight of us rode in style... a 1958 Edsel station wagon. Didn't Chevy Chase do a movie about that? But we digress.

That's Gerald's daughter, Pamela Maze, with her daughter, Caitlyn Rebecca, in the upper left photo. Caitlyn Rebecca is Rebecca Rolfsrud's great great granddaughter. Her mom has a master's in school psychology. On the right are Nancy and Gen, Gerald and Ben's wives. Below, Gerald and Nancy's daughter, Teresa, looked over some sage with JoHanna Weltzin. Lower right, Ben and Jerry's group got ready for its closeup.

This is Gerald Veeder, left, with his daughter, Teresa. The man in the middle is David Veeder. Here's where it gets complicated. David Veeder is Gerald Veeder's two-way cousin. David is Agnes Rolfsrud Veeder's son. Gerald is Rena Rolfsrud Veeder's son. The reason they are double cousins is that sisters Agnes and Rena married two brothers, Ben and Sidney Veeder in a double ring ceremony on May 29, 1930. They have confused family geneologists ever since. David and Gerald share genes from two distinct pools. And, while we are at it, to make things more confusing, there are a long line of Ben Veeders -- five I think. So the Ben Veeder you see in the top photo is the son of Ben Veeder. He is also the father of Ben Veeder -- who -- only has daughters, Heather, Megan and Dalynne.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Getting the Big Picture

John Rolfsrud directed attention to points of interest from high atop a hill near the Rolfsrud Ranch. Pointing in the opposite direction is Linda Rolfsrud Letnes with her grandson, Antonio. Al Jerdee and Theresa Crozier joined the climbers. Theresa loves history and will be attending Mankato University in the fall.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Here, Alexis, let me fix that for you. . .

Anja Erickson adjusted Alexis Lovehaug's collar Saturday in a gesture of new-found friendship. They are the latest additions to Nils and Rebecca Rolfsrud's family tree and drew plenty of attention at the reunion. They are both about the same age, eight months. Below, Anja is the daughter of Shana Letnes Erickson and the granddaughter of Linda Rolfsrud Letnes. Alexis is the daughter of Michele Lovehaug and is the granddaughter of the late Louise Rolfsrud Haugen. Husbands/fathers Erik and Adam are not pictured, but proud grandpa Ron Letnes is visible on the far left.