Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hidden in plain view

There's a treasure in the Rolfsrud relics
When Karen Rolfsrud Kirmis and Linda Rolfsrud Letnes casually perused the Rolfsrud Relics Repository in Tucson last winter they had no idea that they were looking directly at a treasure whose appraised value may one day tear the lid off of harmonious family relationships.

Until now no one knew that co-mingled with these modest keepsakes in the Tucson display case is an item of undetermined worth, said to have the potential for a generation of wrangling and inter-familial strife.

It was Carolyn Veeder who put light to the ignorant Rolfsrud curator and may have triggered a rush for riches heretofore unknown to the passive Rolfsrud heirs and assigns.

Who knew that this Erling Rolfsrud legacy, only hinted at in an obscure chapter of Extraordinary North Dakotans, would be so casually displayed in an unlocked case without benefit of catalogue, appraisal or occasional dusting?

How could it be, in this age of EBay and The Antiques Roadshow, that this family jewel could have escaped the attention of an otherwise circumspect family?

Carolyn Veeder just shakes her head.

The identity of this object will be revealed after a pledge has been received from Tucson. Presently only one family member is physically near enough to the heirloom to put his gloms on it. When a solemn promise is received that this family member will not opportunistically slap a sticker "Property of SPR" on its bottom, a description will be published and hopefully a moderate level of trust established as a basis for further negotiations.

It's complicated. For example, if you are out of the country for the second time in one year, and are in Belize at the time of discovery, are you still entitled, under U.S. Law, to a full one-sixth share?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Our good AZ neighbor, Leno

Our Tucson neighbor, Leno Masolini, is helpful, likes puppies and is good with children. Above, he supplies an air pump to rescue Virgil's flattened tire. Now a new skill in his arsenal of ability -- hitting fairways with amazing accuracy. Steve reports today from Tucson that, since acquiring a new set of clubs, Mr. Masolini has stayed in the short grass 44 out of his last 45 drives. That's 97 percent perfection. Quite an achievement. No report from Steve on his tennis court efficiency. At right, Leno faithfully exercises Mickey Masolini, the Mayor of Rock Crest, and always picks up after him. Goodness. Just how many merit badges is one Eagle Scout allowed?

Late breaking report from the Bunion Estates clubhouse:
Tennis final: Leno and Steve beat Jim the Southwest pilot and Fred the California lawyer today, 6-2, 7-5.

Cafe del Solveig acacia spurts

A close family relative presently at the Tucson old folks home reports that the acacia we planted adjacent to the outdoor breakfast area, dubbed "Cafe del Solveig" in honor of our sunny sister, Sosie, is huge.

The tree was planted around January of 2006 -- and photographed in April 2006 (right).

The relative, who has been taking emergency golf lessons while trying to get the internet and email systems up and running, photographed the front of the house after what must have been a phenomenal growing season.

We have pulled a file photo taken last February from a different angle, above, with a bald del Solveig waiter, to demonstrate the growth which occurred in less than eight months time. Just the right combination of sun, water, heat and fertilizer, apparently. The Rolfsrud farm bureau in North Dakota should be impressed by our productivity.

The bottom photo shows some of the blooms in the back compound. Please comment if you know if they are bougainvillea or not. We think they are, but have much to learn.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Briggs' Harvard report card?

Briggs & Bill's friend, Ty Ries, visited the B&B B&B in Cambridge, Massachusetts, recently and enjoyed fabulous Siitari hospitality: a plate of Oreo cookies and a rain check coupon good for a cold, delicious glass of 2% milk. See the Briggs & Bill link in the left hand margin for more detail.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

So Soon Come the Winds of November

Anja Erickson took her family to Duluth's Great Lakes Aquarium -- including Grandma and Grandpa (Rolfsrud) Letnes and Erik and Shana's nephews -- last weekend. Anja loved looking at all of the animals, especially the big fish. Duluth always reminds us of the winds of November; perhaps Anja's parents as well, as she models the new down jacket sure to protect her from the coming storms.
(Check out her family blog on the left margin of this page)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

This family tree branch is dipped in chocolate

Hey Rolfsruds, gather 'round! What kind of candy do you want? Dark choc'late? Caramel apples? Fudge favors? Peanut butter sweets? You've come to the right place, because you're related to the Oompa-Loompa (by marriage) and Mrs. Wonka (by birth).

Who can take a sunrise,
Sprinkle it with dew,
Cover it with choc'late and a miracle or two?

Who can take a rainbow,
Wrap it in a sigh,
Soak it in the sun and make a groovy lemon pie?

Oh, who can take tomorrow,
Dip it in a dream,
Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream?

Your Red Wing Family Can!

(Talk about your childhood wishes,
You can even eat the dishes.)

(Adapted from "The Candy Man," by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley)
So here we are, Kids in a Candy Store on a Sunday afternoon. From left, Carolyn Veeder, Kathy Boos, Dennis Boos, Marilyn Rolfsrud, Harold Rolfsrud, Larry Veeder and, kneeling, Stan Rolfsrud. Kathleen took the picture.

A year ago, Kathy and Dennis Boos bought the 20-year-old Red Wing Confectionery. Kathy is a nutritionist at the Red Wing hospital (truth, not fiction) and Dennis is a nurse (like the fictional Gaylord Focker). So, my dear Rolfsruds, just how are you related to the Candy Man? Erling Rolfsrud and Agnes Veeder were brother and sister; her son, Larry Veeder is your cousin; he married Carolyn and raised a family in Red Wing; one of their daughters is Kathy (your second cousin) and she married Dennis Boos.

Sweet, huh?

On Sunday, Kathleen, Stan, Marilyn and Harold Rolfsrud got a private tour of the Red Wing Confectionery. Wonderful smells of fudge and chocolate greeted us; we were surrounded by copper pots and vats of dark chocolate interposed by trays of nutty brown goodness and gooey, sticky items clad in bright cellophane and shiny wraps with protruding white gripping sticks.

Kathleen, now in a weakened condition, began hunting and gathering. Marilyn searched for her favored caramel, Harold, the constant provider, filled a brown corrugated box with brown paper bags of sweet favors for his dear ones. It was left to Stan to record the orgy.

Please visit the Red Wing Confectionery website on your own. There you will learn that "At Red Wing Confectionery we make candy the old fashion way ... handling with care, taking the time necessary, and using the freshest ingredients and no preservatives. Our candies contain butter, fresh whipping cream, choice nuts and pure chocolate. Because our products are hand made and hand dipped you will find each and every piece delectably different."
Just Google "Red Wing Confectionery" and you'll find everything you need. Order something for the holidays. We are not sure what the actual web address is. Right now Stan is watching the World Series and working on a pecan-caramel Bear Claw and has his hands full.

Red Wing Confectionery
323 Main Street
Red Wing, Minnesota 55066
(That's Harold Rolfsrud, licking his lips.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lead us not into temptation . . .

In an expose' worthy of a pulp paperback, Kathleen will soon pull back the curtain on a seductive family enterprise tucked away on a winding back road on the fringes of Red Wing, Minnesota. When Kathleen married into the Rolfsrud clan, she thought her only enduring shame to be her husband, the printer. Now this.

Read all about her surprising discovery in "Well, I'll Be Dipped," featured in a future explosive edition of As The Family Blog Turns.

October spot for the Ladies Who Lunch

Our Ladies of the Monthly Lunch visited The Chatterbox in Highland Park yesterday near Briggs and Bill's former address. They found a unique, loungey, hang-out type restaurant with lots of comfy places to sit and visit. There were games in the booths and a varied menu.

Kathleen and M'liss Switzer chose the Chatterbox Classic, which is a hot roast beef sandwich, pesto and etc. on foccacia, $9; and a traditional french dip sandwich for $9. Also served were fabulous hand-dipped onion rings and seasoned french fries. A dessert of chocolate fondue was split between the life-long chums. Drinks? A cranberry-lime spritzer and a strawberry lemonade. Despite a somewhat informal appearance, waiter Andy was most attentive and got a nice tip. Old time St. Paulites will remember this restaurant as "The Village Inn."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Goosing it out of Shakopee

These Canada geese departed swiftly from Stonebrooke in Shakopee Monday. Today's report from Tucson, filed by a close relative who arrived there yesterday, says the conditions are great for snowbirds and anything else down there, with lots of sun and 85 degrees. There was apparently a good growing summer as the report concludes that last year's plantings are healthy and in good shape.
We await photographic evidence.
The geese weren't the only ones flying Monday. Click on the photo below to see the red tail of a scheduled Northwest flight. I would ask my neighbor, ex-flight controller Tom Story, who is an expert plane spotter, to identify the model of the aircraft. Unfortunately, he and his wife Sandy are presently in Greece, following in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul.
Let's just say that it was a DC9. He'll correct me when he comes back. And if he learned anything at all from the journey, he'll forgive me too.

The fifth anniversary of a good man's death

This is the fifth anniversary of the death of a good friend, Tom Lapic, who died in a plane crash with his boss, U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone.

Tom worked for Stan at the newspaper office for many years before joining Wellstone.

Here's what Minnesota Public Radio said at the time:

Pax Christi Catholic Church in Eden Prairie was the site of a memorial service for Tom Lapic, who was known to many as Paul Wellstone's right hand man. Lapic, 49, had worked with the senator for nearly 10 years. Two weeks ago, he quit his job as deputy director in the Senate office to join Wellstone for the final hectic weeks of the campaign.

Those who spoke said Wellstone wanted Lapic with him every step of the way, because Lapic's tranquil demeanor steadied Wellstone.
"He had the ability to be in command and yet be in the background. He was a very calming influence," said Lapic's friend, Chaska police chief Scott Knight. "He was one of the most unflappable individuals, and that was all on top of a very, very sincere foundation. He genuinely cared about people and issues. And when he took interest in someone -- and that was just about everyone he met -- it was from his heart."
Knight was one of more than 20 people who came to the microphone near the altar of the church to talk about Lapic. Coworkers described a man who would tell his office mates that they didn't have to worry -- he'd worry for them.
They also called him a great writer who wrote many of Wellstone's speeches, and they talked about his ethics.
Here's what Stan wrote for the Southwest newspapers.

By Stan Rolfsrud
General Manager
During the past week, eloquent leaders and others have praised U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone for his decency, his “bone-deep devotion to political engagement and service.” They’ve called him a sincere and good man, whose principles led him in life, one who cared deeply about and worked tirelessly for the people of Minnesota. They said he’s a believer, an ordinary guy, a passionate fighter for the underdog.

Add gentle, supportive and soft-spoken and you’ve also described his loyal aide, Tom Lapic, who died with him.

We know this about Tom because he worked for this newspaper company. He was a columnist, an editor and an administrative assistant during his four-year association. He was a problem solver, a fixer, a reliable “go to” guy.

An unabashed liberal who once studied to be a priest, Tom relished his role as the counterpoint to our conservative columnists. Bleeding heart, pointy-headed, and idealist were labels he wore with pride and a grin. But Tom didn’t just write it, he believed what he was writing and lived that way.

Tom prized a collection of dusty typewriters as well as a vintage Ford Mustang. He took his pride and joy out of storage in the early 90s and obtained a set of classic car plates. He discovered that the cost of the plates was significantly less than for an ordinary vehicle even though he intended to use it regularly on the highways. In his mind, he, and others like him, enjoyed an unfair tax advantage. To the astonishment and dismay of some readers, he argued persuasively for a change to the law.

Although Tom served for a brief time as editor of the Chanhassen Villager, he much preferred support roles. He didn’t need a title, he loved to pitch in to help and support others. This he did with great energy, tackling special projects, filling in where needed – reporter, receptionist, computer hacker, network administrator, hand-holder – anything to move the organization forward. Mostly, he wanted to be close to the action. Bright and flexible, his biggest demand was that life be interesting.

Generous enough, he loved being thought of as cheap, in a Jack Benny sort of way. And he was full of surprises, this seminarian, ex-chimney sweep, this junk-food vegetarian. When I mentioned I was taking up golf, he said he’d teach me. Who would guess he knew anything about the game? But teach he did. Turns out he had played daily as a youth in New Ulm. His first lesson: Don’t ever buy a bag of tees. You can always find a perfectly good discarded one if you look sharp in the tee box. That way, he explained with a wink in his whimsical self-parody of values, you can be cheap and recycle too.

Tom’s feet bothered him a lot but that didn’t keep him from exercising. We walked together around Staring Lake often, trying to think big thoughts and solve our small problems. One spring day Tom confided that he’d been invited to join Paul Wellstone’s regular staff and wondered about the right thing to do. Wellstone had been campaigning the previous summer and Tom had spent some time with him then, but I was surprised he had gotten so close to the organization. I shouldn’t have been.

Tom took the path to Washington and then to the senator’s office in St. Paul. He never set out to serve two full terms, but like his boss, the job must have grown on him. Tom was clearly where he wanted to be, solving problems, supporting constituents, staying close to the action. During the brief conversations I had with the senator during those years, we didn’t talk politics. He’d just light up and joyfully relate his latest Lapic story. The senator had clearly come to rely heavily on the steady judgment, clear thinking and loyal support of this kind and gentle man. None of us are surprised.

We’re proud to have known these hopeful dreamers, these believers in the best of America, whose greatest achievements are to be found in the happiness of others. And now that they’re gone and can’t do it anymore, we’re all going to have to try harder to help each other.

Kathleen voted for Paul Wellstone whenever she could... and she told him so when this photo was taken at the Eden Prairie News office in 1998.

Monday, October 22, 2007

He was working on this, then it happened

Artist Larry Veeder was working on this seven foot oil painting at his studio in Red Wing a couple weeks ago. It might have been his last, but fortunately, later that evening, he alerted his wife to what he thought might be a heart attack and now he's recovering from his triple by-pass surgery.

Larry is the son of Agnes and Sidney Veeder. Agnes is Erling Rolfsrud's brother. That makes Larry a cousin.

He's been a leader in the Red Wing art community for many years. He and his wife, Carolyn, also have a home in Cornville, Arizona, and spend winters there. This year's trip will commence a little later, owing to the aforementioned event.

Some of Larry's work is displayed on a web site. Just Google "Larry Veeder" and you will find some examples of his work, as well as a little bio and philosophy from a very interesting fellow.

Top this if you can, Briggs, Paul, and Bill!

We expected that a Sunday afternoon visit to our Cousin's home in Red Wing would be a visual experience. Larry Veeder is a well-known artist and he and Carolyn have a home filled with gorgeous paintings. There's already plenty there to see. So when Larry opened his shirt to display the scar from his recent heart surgery, well, that was just an unexpected bonus.

Thanks to Briggs and Bill's car accident and Paul Erickson's hayloft accident (check late update on Paul -- link at left), this blog has met with rising acclaim in the more progressive plastic surgery circles, as physicians log in to view progress on patients or critique the work of their colleagues. We're grateful to Larry for this fine addition to our open chest division and invite others with exceptional tissue restorations to enter our database as well.

Later, as time permits, we'll show you some of Larry's brilliant oil and water color work. Oh yes, Larry is doing fine, still a bit tired, but we found him in fine spirits. That's Carolyn and Kathleen in the front yard; they are smiling because they are on the way to the local candy store: The Veeder/Boos "Red Wing Confectionery." More on that later, too. (Click to enlarge images)

Bison fans identified

Blog fans have complained that photo identification was lacking on the previous post of victorious Bison fans at Stan and Kathleen's house. Here goes. You can click for a closer view. To begin with, the head buffalo are Marilyn and Harold Rolfsrud; these are some of their children and grandchildren. From left, Virgil Rolfsrud (he's Harold's cousin just stopping by for free breakfast), Guy Rolfsrud with his 2.5 year old, Brooke, and son, Josh. Behind them are Kathleen, of course, and then with the orange blouse is Nancy and her husband, John Rolfsrud. Shivering in the back row is Guy's wife, Trish, with her mother-in-law Marilyn, and Kyle Rolfsrud, who high jumps 6' 7" for NDSU and gets some scholarship money for doing so. Next to him is his Grandpa Harold Rolfsrud, the patriarchal head of this farm wing of the Rolfsrud clan. There are many more of his number, but they didn't drive here for Saturday's ball game. FYI -- Guy flies charter planes out of Cottonwood, MN; John is the Keene fire chief and drove a brand new fire truck from Fargo to its new home in Keene today. Harold wears his cap backwards whenever the Bison win because that's what the kids do, he says.

International incident avoided

After drawing interest on Kathleen's $23 for four months, Family Banker and Tax Accountant Virgil transferred Solveig's money to Kathleen yesterday in an international financial transaction of some note. John Rolfsrud, left, served as witness. When Solveig left for Norway last June, she thought the perfect gift for her hosts might be a Minnesota Vikings outfit. They don't have those things in Norway, or in California either, so Kathleen stepped in as secret shopper and made the purchase. Turns out the Norwegian child was bigger than anyone expected, so the little Vikings outfit returned to the big Vikings store and middleman Virgil was entrusted with the cash refund. Final settlement was reached at breakfast Sunday after the kroner to dollars exchange rate was calculated.

For the record, Solveig, your credit has been restored.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A stampede of Rolfsruds from western No. Dak.

Fresh from victory over the Minnesota Gophers, these NDSU Bison fans gathered at Stan and Kathleen's Sunday morning.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A prayer by a U of M alum

Lord, grant us patience, magnaminity and grace. Teach us to be good losers. NDSU defeated the Gophers for the first time in history and we have houseguests from North Dakota tomorrow.

Friday, October 19, 2007

This just in from Belize; monkeys spotted

Hi All!
Happy here in Belize on an extremely slow connection, so read this like you have just learned to read and we will be in synch. Took an extra day to get here due to cancelled flight (5 inches in Dallas knocked out that airport), but having a great time now.
Saw howler monkeys and manatees today, snorkeled out near the barrier reef yesterday. Don't send any warm clothes or blankets, we are doing fine.
Solveig and Bill

(Next time you see me you won't know who I am! Hee Hee.)

It's not all toys and games, you know

Sometimes we read a good book.

Right now, we're working on the Little Red Hen. This is just a study break.

Grandpa and I get naps at 10 this morning, so don't call us then.

Grandma made us waffles and fruit for breakfast.

Love, Emily

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Paul Erickson continues on the mend

Shana and Erik's blog reports that Erik stopped by with Jamba Juice for Paul and Marilyn Erickson this morning. Erik thought his Dad looked better, "but he's still feeling quite tired and achy." The blog isn't clear on this, but it appears he's still hospitalized.
Paul had an appointment today with his dentist, Dr. Frank Steen (from Concordia of course) to look into some pain he's been having with his teeth, Erik reported. Apparently, his teeth shifted from the impact. It wasn't a dramatic shift, but enough to cause some pain. Dr. Steen was able to do some work to put his teeth "back in order" and it seems to have helped a little. Paul isn't quite up to phone calls yet, but wants to thank everyone for their continued care and concern.
Note to Rolfsruds. Is this the son of Dr. Franklin Steen, our childhood dentist? If that's not enough coincidence, today Stan had a crown installed. A molar had broken and one of Franklin's fillings rolled out on the table.
I guess I got no complaints. The filling has to be almost 50 years old.

Harold. Here's the directions to Mom's apt.

Take 94 to Alex. Turn left at 29. Go downtown to Lincoln Ave. Head East until you get to Rosewood. Turn right for one block to 7th Ave. You're there. Click the map above to enlarge. Great to hear you have DSL. Mom's GPS coordinates are in the lower left hand corner of the map.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


"It was like getting hit with a sledgehammer"
Paul Erickson is doing much better after the barn loft accident on the family tree farm. This is a photo of the laceration on his fractured skull. Good news was received this afternoon, read it on the Erik, Shana, Anja blog link in the left hand margin.

North Dakota Rolfsruds heading to metrodome

Will cheer Bison against Gophers Saturday

A large contingent of North Dakota Rolfsruds will converge on the Minneapolis metrodome Saturday to support the NDSU Bison, a fine squad with a good chance of trapping the hapless Gophers. The Gophers barely escaped last year.

Cousin Harold Rolfsrud called today from the farmhouse in Keene, NoDak, to say that he and Marilyn, along with sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren have tickets for the big event.

They'll stay Friday and Saturday night in downtown Minneapolis.

Sunday morning, Kathleen and Stan hope to join them for breakfast -- perhaps in Shakopee -- and then a side trip to Red Wing, where our cousin, Larry Veeder, is recovering from a heart attack.

It's I-94 all the way from North Dakota, so Harold and Marilyn hope to visit Mom at Clearwater Suites and the Cleve Slettos as they come through Alexandria on Friday.

Farm report, just in: Harvest is done, not enough rain and too much heat, but prices were good. Harold extended birthday greetings to ex-farmhand Steve Rolfsrud.

Carolyn and Larry Veeder with Stan Rolfsrud and their daughter, Julia Crozier.

Paul Erickson hurt in farm accident

Shana's father-in-law, Paul Erickson, was in an accident at their tree farm just north of the Twin Cities late Sunday afternoon. He is hospitalized and doing well.

Shana's husband, Erik, writes:

Somehow, the metal pulley attached to the hay rail at the top of the barn came off and struck him on the forehead (think 20-25 pound cast iron object hanging 20 feet up).

He has a skull fracture at the top of the forehead and is bruised up a good deal. However, he is recovering nicely and considering what could have happened, he is doing well.

At this time, the docs do not think he'll need surgery, although there is a small bit of air in the area of the fracture that they want to keep a close eye on. They assume it will dissipate on its own, but don't want to take any chances.

There was no damage to his spine/neck, brain and thus far it appears he does not have a concussion. Throughout he has remained stable, lucid, able to walk, and fully conscious. We are very grateful that things were not worse! He is currently at St. Paul Regions and is scheduled for another CT scan tomorrow morning. After that the docs will make a decision about what to do; home or surgery are the two likely options.

Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers as he recovers. For now, he has requested no phone calls or visits until he's regained a bit of strength and finally been allowed to get some real sleep. We'll keep you posted with any new details.

Thanks for everyone's support, we really appreciate it.

(Photo is of Linda Letnes, Paul, and Ron Letnes last spring. Link to the Shana, Erik, Anja blog, at left, to follow Paul's recovery.)

He ain't heavy, he's my impediment to salvation

Perhaps it was fresh reports of Russian airplanes heading our way loaded with Atom Bombs. Or Billy Graham announcing with great certainty that the end is near.

I lay in guilty torment that night, worried what was ahead for wicked me. Wracked with anxiety, I feared eternal punishment for all those sins written on my soul. I had repeatedly asked Jesus to forgive me, to wash me whiter than snow, but that was not really sufficient to save me from eternal damnation, adults who knew about these procedures had told me. I must ask forgiveness from my fellow man as well, they instructed.

No one on earth had been more aggrieved by my evil treachery than little brother Steve. I had sat on him, lied to him, cheated him, stolen from him, broken his things and then denied doing it.

Regrets hung heavy that dark night. Sleep would not come. My brother lay in the bunk beneath me. It was now or never, damn the embarrassment, I needed relief. So it had to be done. I broke the silence.

"Steve," I said, with great difficulty. "Will you forgive me for all the sins I have ever committed against you?"

A long, awkward silence fell over the dark room, as my brother weighed the unusual proposition. I awaited redemption.

"Ah. Well, I don't know," he finally hedged, apparently enjoying the leverage suddenly handed him by his older brother.

That tore it. I rolled over. I wasn't going to beg. I'd just take my chances in Hell.


It's 50 years later. The Russians didn't bomb us after all. Evangelicals still preach that the end times are near. The church still bargains with its sacraments. But as I get older, I work hard at reducing risk, increasing comfort.

So, Steve, today's your birthday and you must be feeling pretty generous right about now. Whadda ya say, ol' buddy?