Friday, August 31, 2007

The neighbor kid's 30th birthday party

Our neighbors, Sandy and Tom Story, invited us to join them for their daughter Erin's 30th birthday party tonight. Bring a white elephant they said, son-in-law Jason will make the brats.

We didn't hesitate. Our house is full of white elephants and Jason is a Packer fan from Wisconsin and knows all about making brats and serving beer. Look closely at the picture of Erin cavorting and you'll see a blonde hairpiece purchased by Kathleen years ago to augment her do, but never worn seriously. Erin may have gotten more fun out of it than Kathleen ever did.
The party was held at the couples new home in Shakopee, about two miles from our place, adjacent to the new school. Kathleen thinks their location is the greatest. She grew up by St. Paul Central and grew to love the hustle and bustle of a school yard neighborhood.
Sandy is a church secretary, so she has first dibs on all the great recipes. She baked a strawberry cake for her daughter and got lots of approval.

We surprised Erin -- a little-- as her brother, sisters, in-laws, nieces and nephews all shouted out at the right time.

Jason's brats were perfect, Erin looks really good for 30, and the fire pit capped off the evening's good times.

Tom and Sandy's grandson, Joey, is Emily's age, so we're constantly questioning his mother, Holly, about progress. Joey has brothers and sisters so that's why he walked and talked sooner than Emily, we figure.
Tom and Sandy will be going on holiday again this weekend. They are always going somewhere, it seems. It is hard to keep track of their comings and goings and all the excitment in their lives.

A note from family friend, Lorlee Bartos

Well, isn't the internet a wonderful thing.
Patty Kakac and I have had a lovely exchange. She tells me her daughter participated in Kid Nation -- so though I don't watch reality TV, I asked her for her daughter's name and will check it out.
She also tells me that Kathy (from our class) lives by Inspiration Peak and works as an LVN in Battle Lake.
And I didn't win at the State Fair. Bummer.
(Lorlee entered some photos in the Texas State Fair.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

We rowed around Lake Andrew in a classic

Alexandria now has a maritime museum over there near Big Ole, chock-a-block with boats, motors, fishing tackle and enough resort memorabilia and minnow buckets to recreate an entire Tarnow's Resort and Cottage Grove.
At one time, Alexandria had a number of wooden boat manufacturers who created much of the fishing craft in use before aluminum and fiberglass took over.

A classic wooden fishing boat line was named Lady of the Lakes and was manufactured locally. The museum displays a number of them, but most interesting to Stan was the Lady of the Lakes rowboat manufactured in 1915. See the photo above of the display of the Lady in mint condition.

Rolfsruds, and other residents on Lake Andrew in the early 50s, will recall a leaky, red rowboat, plying the waters as a recreational toy for juveniles, often swamped or turtled. Turns out this classic graceful craft had seen much better days, when gentlemen fishermen were proud to row this beautiful boat to their favorite fishing spot in style.

When we got our lady, it had a rotten stern, so we had to put most of the weight toward the front to keep it from filling with lake water. There were four oarlocks, so, working together, we could develop some pretty good speed with the light-weight rowboat. One summer, Becky dreamed up an Egyptian Caravel, simply by placing boards across the bow, painting it pink and green and flying a couple of royal felt flags. No one claimed to be Cleopatra, but we doubtless provoked some chatter about local color amongst the tourists visiting from the sophisticated Twin Cities.
If you're in Alexandria, visit the museum. It's six bucks, but worth it for the nostalgia.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I'm cruising Broadway in Alex and. . .

There it was. Up on the Big Marquee on the old Andria Theater. Patty Kakac, one of the shyest of the shy schoolgirls at District 460, headlining a concert. Wow. I stopped the car on Broadway and just about got rear-ended by some local who still doesn't get that Alex is a tourist town in the summer and traffic is prone to unusual movements. Sheesh.

That's Patty Kakac on the far left, sitting behind Jane Anderson, Harvey Hiebel, Bruce Chan, Virgil Rolfsrud and Thom? Halstead circa 1958. The guy in the back center is Patty's brother, Bruce, sitting behind Gary Halstead and the toothsome Stephen Paul Rolfsrud. Darrell Williams is on the far right. Stan and Linda Rolfsrud and Patty's sister, Kathy, are elsewhere in the picture taken by an itinerant photographer.

I googled Patty Kakac, got her website and address. I emailed her and said I remembered her as a quiet, shy, religious and possibly mischieveous classmate of Steve's. Here's her reply:
Hi Stanley,
How nice to hear from you and get the update on your family. Yes, I was in Steve’s class. We had some great times in that school. He could tell a bit about the mischievous part. When Mrs. Salt was there (such a nice person but didn’t have any control over us) we sort of had a hey day. We turned out alright anyway. I’m curious about the photo? Do you have it? Would you be able to email a copy? We don’t have any pictures from those school days. Guess my parents could never afford to get any.
I also had a great time with your sister Solveig before she left for 7th grade. She must have been in 6th grade and I in 4th or maybe we were only a year apart. I can’t remember. I had your dad for 9th grade English and he remains one of my favorite all-time teachers.

Yes, I was a very shy kid. I am still a bit shy but not too shy on stage—tee, hee. I’m not religious anymore but am deeply spiritual, as you can see on the webpage, love the earth and nature. You were in my sister Kathy’s class, weren’t you? Where do you live? And what do you do?

Good luck to you too.

Here's what Patty's web site said. There's a lot more there. Google it yourself and listen to a couple of free songs she has composed. And while you're at it, order a couple of CDs. I think you'll enjoy her, sort of a Joan Baez voice.

Patty Kakac is a professional folk musician who uses her singing and song writing talents to address difficult issues in today's world. She has studied with Stevie Beck, and mentored with Larry Long and numerous folk musicians for over 20 years.

As a singer/songwriter she has written the music for several plays for Lakes Country Service Cooperative, Fergus Falls, MN; Educational video for Nursing Assistants, '24 Hours a Day" and she has recorded two albums/CD's featuring mostly original works; "Heart of a Woman" and "Patchwork".

She collaborates with playwright, Kathy Ray, of Playing on Purpose Productions, Barrett, MN and has written, directed and performed for 9 issue orientated plays for schools and community programs. She is also a performer and singer for "Women Through The Ages" a show of vignettes and music portraying women's stories, performed extensively throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Patty formed a local folk band, Patty and the Pinetones in 1982. Patty and the Pinetones performed at theater concerts, house concerts, yard parties, churches and schools, as well as opening for Bill Staines, The Kingston Trio, Larry Long, and Pop Wagner. She has performed solo for numerous concerts, folk festivals, house concerts, conferences, and community events including Valley City, ND Folk and Blues Fest, Two Harbors Folk Festival, Finn Creek Folk Festival, Northfield Arts Guild, and Northrop Auditorium for Jessie Jackson and with Garrison Keillor in Henning, MN. Patty now performs in The Granary Girls folk duo with Jodi Ritter.

Patty has conducted Artist Residences. Patty plays the guitar, autoharp, upright bass, piano, harmonica and penny whistle. Patty is a recipient of an 1999 Individual Artist Grant from the Lakes Region Arts Council to promote her music in both rural and metro Minnesota. Both Patty and Jodi are currently training with Larry Long in "Elder Wisdom, Children Songs"
Patty lives on a farm outside of Evansville, MN, is a farmer and gardener, raises chickens, keeps a husband and is guiding a young daughter. She conveys her love of the land in her music, in her home, in her remodeled granary which becomes a summer kitchen and treasures the rising and setting sun. Many of her songs are born while she works in the garden turning the soil.

You know who is in the house. . .

What else did you expect to see here today? It is Wednesday so it is all-day Emily again. She was happy with the new camoflauge outfit Grandpa dressed her in this morning. We're going to the doctor's office in 10 minutes. There will be a shot. Grandma is already suffering. She bought a new soft toy to help when the time comes. Emily will be just fine.
Update: The doctor visit went well. Emily cried for 30 seconds, then walked herself out of the clinic. Kathleen is doing much better now.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Summer summary from the Underwoods

Amy Jerdee Underwood (Becky & Al's daughter) sends along this report from Des Moines.

Dave Underwood turns 40! He spent his birthday waterskiing. He is still not too old to barefoot. The water up his nose is more annoying though! Took a week to recover from that. He is handling his forties with grace so far, Amy says.

  • (Top, left) Hunter and Blake go back to school. Blake started kindergarten. He took the first day in stride. Got lost in the parent pick up line. The day care and Hunter were searching frantically for him. They found him standing calmly next to his teacher outside the school, waiting for some one to come and get him. He still doesn't know what the big deal was. Hunter is not taking Second Grade as well. We asked him if he was excited to go back to school and he said, "Learning really isn't for me. I really have this summer thing down and I want to just stick to that." He is always pretty honest.
  • (Top, right) Hunter tries baseball and pitching. He has the stance down! He did great as he was one of the few pitchers that did not hit the batter with the ball. The kids were also actually able to hit the ball when he pitched. That does not sound good, but it sure was a relief for the parents to see some action.
  • (Bottom, left) Blake and Hunter start soccer. We asked Blake if he was a soccer player and he said, "No, I am a baseball player. I am doing soccer just to stay in shape." Hunter seems to really like soccer. He likes to play goalie so he can wind up and kick the ball as hard as he can. All in all, we are planning for many years of preparing for, driving to, photographing and watching sports. We have a couple of good chairs, cellphones, bags for various equipment including water supply and treats. We will work on the parent t-shirts. Still no mini-van. We will go down kicking and screaming before we get a mini-van.
  • (Bottom, right) Our new house addition has been delayed, delayed, delayed from rain, rain, rain. We are living without a kitchen. Mostly we miss the sink.

Still playin' after all these years. . .

My high school chum, Betty Larson Butcher, never gave up her music. She's a concert-level pianist and still has enough lip left to stir up some fun with her trumpet. This fall she and another musician are booked to give a four-handed Mozart piano concert in Arkansas, where she lives with her husband, Perry.
Betty grew up in Alexandria at 1319 Elm in a red ranch house with a big back yard and a swing on the porch. Her father was a musician. Her mother raised about four or five girls, not sure how many.

Not long ago, after many twists and turns in her life, Betty and her husband acquired the old family home on Elm Street. They have worked tirelessly for many summers to redo the place from top to bottom and now have a wonderful summer home in her old hometown, filled with memories.

What the new home doesn't have is a beautiful grand piano like the one Perry bought in France for his bride. It is in Arkansas. Betty needs to practice. The old upright piano in the Alexandria basement just doesn't have the action she needs to properly prepare for her fall concert.

Beverly Rolfsrud to the rescue. She loaned Betty the use of her grand piano... the one that has Steve Letnes' name on it.

On Saturday I took Betty to the house and away she went, fingers flying. The woman can play anything. And just to prove we can still do Bach, we sang "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," for her appreciative hubby.

Betty will practice until she returns to Fayetteville after Labor Day. She is very grateful to everyone for the privilege. It is just what she needed.

And don't worry. She can pound all week, but there will still be plenty of notes left in the sturdy old grand for Steve.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Attn. Rolfsruds: Your mother is playing kickball!

Stan surprised his 87-year-old mother Saturday with a visit to her new address: The Clearwater Suites in Alexandria. He spent two days in town, had dinner and breakfast with her -- and Val and Gertie--, and was singularly impressed by Mom's place.
What's more important, Mom loves her "new home." She hasn't been happier in six months, since the unfortunate falls last spring that put her through a series of challenges and discouraging circumstances. The sparkle has returned to her eyes, she is cheerful and surrounded by a wonderful staff as well as alert and interesting neighbors who are well-matched to her present needs and level of independence. Linda and Ron Letnes found this place and mother is thrilled. (Click on these photos for startling detail in the prayer shawl gift mom is inspecting. I think BeeAnn and Shortie Olson gave it to her but I am not sure.)
Soon Becky and Linda will descend on her new apartment and give it some homey touches. The place is loaded with well-done common spaces -- day rooms, a theater, dining rooms -- big and little, family rooms.
The food was good, served by cheerful assistants, and there were seconds for anyone who wanted them. (Stan and Gertie, "yes, please"-- "none for Mom, thank you") .
We sang the table grace this morning. It was great hearing Mom singing "Be Present at Our Table, Lord," sweetly and right on key, as always.
There may be an issue, however. We always sing the last line of the song: "May Feast in Paradise With Thee." But others were singing "May Always in Thy Service Be." Mother and I will look into this. We are not sure yet, but we suspect the Methodists.

Friday, August 24, 2007

On assignment

The trailboss is on assignment to Alexandria this weekend.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Update: No tryst to the story

Kathleen and M'liss went out for their monthly "Ladies Who Lunch" event today. Apparently they went to Champps and had a great time. I don't exactly know yet, because when she returned the camera to my desk sometime late this afternoon, it contained a photograph of the two of them, obviously taken by a tall third party they felt very relaxed and happy with. It also contained an image of this rather studly-looking, mysterious gentleman in a darkened room. I have yet to receive any explanatory notes. When new information regarding this becomes available, I will share it with you immediately, most assuredly.

Kathleen explains:
We had a very sweet waiter named Mike. He had a MVP pin on (most valuable player???) and said he had moved to Minnesota with his girlfriend. He was very attentive and nice and the type of person who makes a customer return to a restaurant. He took our picture and I took his and promised to make him a star on the Rolfsrud blog. Thanks, Mike.

Pres. George Bush Jr. will be in EP today

"W" will be in Eden Prairie today, raising money for Sen. Norm Coleman's run against Al Franken. He is being hosted by Bill Austin, potential billionaire (if he would ever sell his hugely successful hearing aid company), who made W's hearing aid as well as the hearing aids of other presidents.
We're not sure how close brother Virgil lives to Mr. Austin, but we're pretty sure he didn't cough up for the $1,000 ticket, or the $14,000 fee to be named "host."
Let's see, between the bridge collapse, Hiway 212 construction, wet roads, maintenance just about everywhere, and now the presidential motorcade, it would probably be a good day to just stay home.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Becky & Al check in from Germany

Got this from Becky & Al Jerdee (Stan's sister) on their tour of Germany today:

Hello from St. Goar (San Gwaah), Germany. We're on the Rhein (Rhine), climbed to Rheinfels Castle this morning. At 1:15, we meet at the train station to go to Bacharach for a walk around the medieval town and gelato (Italian influences everywhere). We'll go home by way of a boat upriver.
Nice internet cafe here so thought I'd check for messages.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Another two inches of rain in Shakopee

We got another 2.2 inches of rain after 2 inches yesterday. That's from the official Abbey Point rain gauge tended by Tom Story. Rain came in torrents for a while this afternoon. We were watching Johan Santana smash a club record with 17 strikeouts, so we didn't pay much attention to it, but when it got to be time to look around there was an amazing amount of water on No. 14.
We checked on the hobbits. (newly-painted red house in top photo) They like to live very near water, but not to worry, their home was set high enough over the pond so they were snug and dry, busy playing Texas Hold 'em or watching Lord of the Rings again.

Stonebrooke prides itself on having long, forced carries over big water hazards, but even their sadists would be very satisfied with today's outcome. The water will drain and gather, recharging reservoirs and lengthening hazards. It is amazing how fast the standing water clears so that golfers and the cash register are immediately back in business, often under a rainbow.

Steve & Nancy, are you afloat?

Six inches of rain in Mankato last night. We need a local report.

Steve replies:
We did get about 6 inches. In fact, for us, the rain couldn't have been better.
We just planted about 50 more shrubs and perennials in the past several days so they all appreciate the soaking. The first inch of rain came down slowly over the whole day yesterday which was perfect. During the night and off and on this morning we have had downpours, but we are high and dry where we are situated.
Unfortunately some people at lower elevations may not have appreciated it so much, although the numerous flood retention ponds installed in the last two decades around Mankato and the "Great Concrete River Wall" along the Minnesota River protect most of Mankato.
Other places along the various southern Minnesota rivers and up and downstream from Mankato on the Minnesota River will probably be feeling it today.
Thanks for checking up on us though.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Solveig & Bill make Norway newspaper

Solveig and Bill Shearer's trip to Harstad and the Island of Grytoi was covered by the local press last week. Here's the clipping, read it if you know Norske. Our Norwegian relative Beate Heide sends this along and says it translates "They walked the forefather's footsteps." She should know. She wrote the story for the Bladet Vesterålen.

Here is the translation, courtesy Erik Erickson, Linda's son-in-law. That's a photo of the family below, Erik, Shana and Anja in Vancouver. Words in brackets are Erik's comments.

In ancestors footsteps in the north
Beate Heide
The weather gods were on Solveig Rolfsrud Shearer and her husband Bill’s side as they walked in their ancestors footsteps – The nature is beautiful up here they both said.
Solveig Rolfsrud Shearer and her husband Bill came from California to walk in Solveig’s ancestors footsteps in the north. Solveig was raised in North Dakota and this was her second visit to Norway.
“I am so happy to see where I come from,” said Solveig, but she also says that she considers herself American, as that was how her parents raised her.
Early in the 1700s Claus Christian Heide went from Borsa in South Trondelag to Hadsel to become a teacher. He had studied to be a priest in Copenhagen, but when he lost a foot in an accident, that dream was shattered. A priest at that time had to be free of deformities [unblemished, faultless]. Thus he traveled to Nordland as a school teacher. He then moved to Kasfjord and established a family there with three sons. This is the beginning of the Heide family’s ancestry in Nordland og Troms [these are both counties in Northern Norway].
Solveig’s grandmother was Rebekka Heide, who emigrated from Grytoya in 1901. Solveig’s father is Erling Rolfsrud. He is a well known author with Norwegian Americans. He wrote a total of 31 books and wrote many stories which were published in newspapers in Minnesota.
“I am so happy that my grandmother Rebekka understood that my father needed to go to school and develop his talent,” tells Solveig on the ferry dock out to Grytoya.
Solveig and Bill had visited relatives from Grytoya that her father and uncle visited in the 1960s. Since then the families have remained in contact.
“Now we are on our way to Hadsel and Lofoten before we return home” smiles Solveig who was treated both to fresh fish cakes [think of a patty that resembles meatloaf, only white. It’s not actually cake] and lefsa from her relatives.
“Going fishing was the best,” laughs Solvieg as she tells how she caught a big Torsk [cod].

It rained on Matt's birthday pig roast

It rained all day today and it is going to rain all day tomorrow. That is good, but not good for our friend and neighbor Matt Drees, a long-time Shakopee resident with hundreds of relatives and friends around these parts. For the past 20 years he's had a hog roast and golf tournament on this Saturday. One hundred pounds of hog were roasted all right, and tons of salads, breads, slaws and desserts offered today, but there was no golf or horseshoes or sitting on the picnic table outside this year. Everything happened in the garage, in the house or in the machine sheds on Matt and Anne's little farm. Four of Matt's 10 sisters came and sat Matt down for a little teasing and this photograph. If you're a regular at Lion's Tap in Eden Prairie, you might recognize one of the ladies. She's was a manager there for many years.
There's a Powwow tonight at Mystic Lake, and tomorrow the Marystown Festival. Lots to do in the rain if you like that sort of thing.

A catch of cod above the Arctic Circle

(This is the second story about my sister Sosie's trip to Norway with her husband, Bill Shearer.
This event took place in the area where our Grandmother Rebecca dried cod to earn her passage to America. So that there is no confusion, that is Cousin Arne Johan Norheim in the photo above, and Sosie is not related to the Gorton's fisherman.)

She writes:

On the island of Grytoi, beyond where Rebecca Heide’s nephew Brede lived and just down the hill from her niece Anne Katrine, is the sea house of Arne Johan and Tove Norheim. They live in Harstad and use the sea house for weekend hiking, hunting, and fishing.
Below the living quarters is the boat garage, where we selected layers of clothing, first the warm layer and then the waterproof layer. There is much preparation, and hilarity, before we board the boat, but should we be hungry, we can grab a dried cod off the wall for a quick snack. (One ounce is sufficient, providing about 17 grams of protein, and a half hour of chewing.)
The day is cloudy but not windy, just perfect. The boat has a wheel for lowering a line, which has multiple hooks off leader lines. This is more efficient than the fishing pole. Marita Norheim, 16, is experienced with fishing and takes the wheel while Bill handles the pole. They catch several small fish, which Arne says we’ll keep as backup, in case we don’t do any better. We do not want to return empty handed, for his mother, Anne Katrine, would like to serve a fish dinner tonight.
Marita does do better, bringing in a huge cod. She turns over the wheel to Bill and settles back to text message her friends.

I am as happy as I think possible in the bow, enjoying the beauty all around, wondering about my grandmother and how she adjusted from this life on the sea to life on the prairie. But they insist I try my hand at fishing, and I am glad they did.
We return with our bounty, clean it, and turn it over to Anne Katrine. She prepares a traditional meal of boiled fish and potatoes with special liver gravy. We raise our akevitt glasses and "Skål" our good luck on the Norwegian Sea.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pomp and Circumcision

In a shameless attempt to increase ratings on this blog and stimulate the submission of more appropriate content, we present this photograph taken by our friend, Nancy, at the Burnsville graduation ceremonies in June. She was seated calmly in the audience, observing the traditional exercises when her husband jabbed her in the ribs, urgently whispering, "take a picture, take a picture." As streaking pictures go, we think this one earns high marks, taken at the peak of a joyful leap without exposing enough to lose its PG rating. You may click on the image to enlarge it and examine the expressions of the audience, some of whom have also raised their cameras, if not their eyebrows. Others shade their eyes for a better view.
Graduation just ain't the same anymore.

Now, people, send the something to use.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Our Norwegian cousins are lumberjacks

Solveig and Bill returned last week from Norway, visiting relatives, seeing the sights. We asked her to send us photo stories of some of the adventures. Here is the first installment:

Lumbering with the Rolfsruds

Stein Rolfsrud cuts the trees and Erik Rolfsrud runs the sawmill.

In 1999, Stein taught us ax throwing, and although we practiced past midnight, we never joined the circuit of World Championship Lumberjacks with Stein.

This trip, we’re off to the forest to see how they lumber a century after Nils last watched. Stein, Bill, and Arne lead the way (top) while Erik and I take our time through the ferns. (right) Deep in the woods, the Timberjack waited.

Bill and I were privileged to ride shotgun. We held the grips as the cab moved in 3D over the wheels stabilized (I think) on the hillside. From our perch, we could watch Stein’s joysticks and the computer screen.

The computer calculates angles for felling the tree without damaging neighbors, measures the diameter and length of the tree, and given today’s prices for type of wood and type of use, calculates cost-efficient cuts. At the end of the day, it totes up the inventory in dimensions and kroner.

The machine cuts the tree, picks it up, shreds off the branches, cuts off lengths, and places the logs in convenient lots for the truck to pick up. Optionally, the ends of the logs can be marked with a shot of paint, red for building materials, blue for paper pulp, and so on.

Norwegians are so neat, aren’t they?

The operator, by the way, makes more decisions in one minute than a fighter pilot. And particularly difficult work is clearing trees on either side of a power line. (right)

Need a tree cut? Call Stein Rolfsrud.

Postscript by Stan: Our grandfather, Nils Rolfsrud, worked briefly during one winter at a logging camp in northern Minnesota around 1902. The conditions were bad, of course, and everything was done by men and horses. Stein's timberjack probably does more in one season than an entire camp of lumber men.

Below is a video of the Rolfsrud machine at work. Click to play.

You wonder what Nils would think of all this. The machine is the true Paul Bunyan.