Friday, November 30, 2007

Petunias planted, Virg working with the Lord

Farmer Virg got the petunias planted at Cafe Del Solveig on Rock Crest in Tucson this week, just before a rare Arizona rain drenched the fledgling transplants. The planters are portable, so our plan has been to move them into the porch whenever frost threatens. Maybe frost won't threaten this year. Viva la global warming!
Good work, Virgil. The petunias should be in full glory about mid-January when Stan and Kathleen arrive for their mid-winter break. And, FYI, Virgil. There may be up to a foot of snow here in Minnesota by this time tomorrow. Stan is helping to move the Eden Prairie newspaper office tomorrow, Dec. 1. We'll be ready for that break when it finally comes.

She's back. Finally.

Emily skipped a turn at Grandma and Grandpa's two weeks ago and then she went to the Carolinas for Thanksgiving, so Stan and Kathleen were anxious to see their girl today. Everything is fine, she remembers all the toys, all the routines, all the books, and she says Hi and Gramma and Grdhpx. So life is good.

New wrinkles. She's brushing her own teeth, real good, way back.

Snow is on the way but it is not here just yet. We tried on the new snow boots for the first time and before you knew it, our Minnie Mouse scampered into the shower to check them out and tease her Grandma.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Belize reprise from Sosie

Solveig Rolfsrud Shearer, married to the retired and repackaged Wm. O. Shearer, parents of Zachary, recently led a family safari into the known parts of Belize. They spent a month there and had a number of guests stay at their rental home by the sea. Recently Sosie got her pictures sorted, and sent these to us, along with a brief commentary:

We had the comforts of home in Belize, particularly when family came.

Zach and Solveig could cook like at home and Zach could even get the same Butler Bill service, just like at home. (Ed. Note: Is that really Bill? He looks terrific.)
Some things, like the phone, didn’t really work like at home, but Jennifer LaBrie can smile anything into working.

The arrival of the Becky and Allen Jerdees was highly anticipated, since American Airlines had cancelled their flight, cutting 24 hours off their vacation.

Zach warmly greeted his long lost Aunt Becky and we quickly set about planning our adventures.
While the four Shearers opted for a day snorkeling on a private island (top photo & right photo), Becky and Allen immersed themselves in Placencia Village, finding the colors now displayed on the Jerdee blog (link at left).
On another day, we six traveled inland to two Mayan ruins, Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit. (Adam and Kim Jerdee are also Mayan ruin fans and plan to soon compare them to Egyptian pyramids.)
For our Family Portrait, we chose to sit where the Mayan rulers sat to watch the action on the ball courts.

Cubans and Polaroids and Lorlee

Lorlee Bartos writes:
Great shot by Becky of the kids in Belize…. Reminds me of the attached photo that I took in Cuba. I packed my Polaroid camera as well as my digital camera. The Polaroid was a great hit since Cubans don't seem to have cameras and I could give them a souvenir immediately. My reward was the additional photos I was able to get. First I took a photo of two of these boys, then the boy in the center wanted one for himself. Then they insisted I must take a photo of the little one on the right. Then I said I wanted a photo of all them with my digital camera and they struck this pose.

(Thanks, Lorlee, nice work. Didn't know you'd been to Cuba. TB)

Another fave from the Jerdee files

Becky Rolfsrud Jerdee caught these preteen personalities on her recent trip to Palencia, Belize. More on Jerdee blog, below.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Virgil arrives safely in Tucson

Virg, driving from Minnesota over the weekend, arrived at the house in Tucson today and reports that Steve was right... it has been a great year for flowers. The purple blossoms here in our backyard are lantana.

Becky finds color, check out her link

Becky Rolfsrud Jerdee found this and other colorful delights during her recent trip to Belize to visit her sister, Sosie. Check out more of her photos on the Jerdee Family Blog, linked below.

Have you ever. . .

Have you ever seen so many perfect teeth in one photograph?
Check out the Erik and Shana blog. Link is below, left.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Belize pass Brenda's special buns

Steve and Miz Brenda employed a variety of tools, attempting to free the cinamon buns. Note broken spoon on deck.

Bill and Solveig Shearer (Stan's sister) recently returned from a wonderful month in Palencia, Belize where they rented a cottage by water and did whatever they pleased. Solveig has many adventures to tell about and lots of slides. Here's a story we enjoyed:

By Solveig Shearer

Walking home from our first dinner in town, Miz Brenda, a Creole woman, approached us to offer a sample bag of macaroons and to tout her cooking expertise. A down payment was made on cinnamon buns to be delivered in the morning.
When we got home, Bill read this in Moon Handbooks Belize (Chicki Mallan and Joshua Berman, 2005) “Note: Keep your good sense about you if you run into Brenda, a former restaurant owner that reportedly used to make the best spicy conch stew around. She is know to hustle travelers for money for meals that never get cooked. Her rustic kitchen is still on the beach between J-Byrd’s and The Moorings and hasn’t been licensed to serve food for years.”
Amazingly, Brenda arrives the next morning, albeit a half hour late. She has 17 cinnamon buns burned securely to the bottom of a broiler pan. Using three utensils, Steve and I attempt to remove them from the pan with brute force.
I break a wooden spoon but Steve is more successful.
“My you are strong,” Brenda cooed to Steve, “are you a construction worker?” The struggle between man and buns lasted about five minutes, with Brenda protesting all the while, “I made them too rich. These buns are so, so good.”
Indeed, particularly for those who prefer chopped up cinnamon sticks to conventional cinnamon powder for its surprise effect, the buns will startle those who dare sample one.

We saw Brenda again many times during the month and she kept up the charade, asking us cheerfully if we would like more buns. We too kept up the charade until we were sure that her rather large boyfriend, James, who sells odd appliances out of a truck from Burlingame, California, would not harm any of Brenda's unhappy customers.

Despite tropical humidity that can break down shoe leather, (see photo of pickup truck, now planter) Brenda's cinnamon buns stood up for 30 days without softening much. We brought one of them home to use at a Miz Brenda Award ceremony as yet to be scheduled.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Let it snow, we'll make it go!

The Underwood boys, Blake and Hunter, dug into Iowa's 5 inches of early snowfall this week, working the new paint off their shovels on the first day of Thanksgiving break. They are the sons of Becky Rolfsrud Jerdee's daughter, Amy and her husband, Dave. They live in Des Moines, which received a ton more snow than Minnesota this time. Go Vikings, Blakie!

Shel & Kristi's new space shines

It was last May when our friends, Shel and Kristi, dug a hole behind their Thomas Avenue home in South Minneapolis.

Last night Kristi stirred the pot as her famous spicy soup simmered in the new kitchen/dining/den. The backsplash tile looked terrific, the old kitchen has been converted to a pantry and hallway and the big refrig was tucked back into the wall in a way that made it look like a brand-new appliance.
Everything looked good, including the evening's guests, Dave and Nancy, Kerstin and Mike, Stan and Kathleen.

It has been a summer of decisions for S & K Inc. Tile choices, wood finishes, windows, moulding, ceiling heights, paint chips.
(You can click on these photos to enlarge them.)
Now their work is done and it's beautfiul.
The wooden floor flows nicely from the old space to the new; the cherry trim throughout sets off the fireplace in the super-insulated addition that will provide a cozy retreat. . . when the rug, and the furniture, and the wall art arrive.

For now, Shel's graduation picture kept steady vigil on the mantel, watching the action in this new friendly place. It is a very social set up, has a nice gathering appeal. You can watch the action in the kitchen, and enjoy a glass and conversation at the same time.

There's an unfinished space below the addition with some unspecified future plans.

There was no poker last night; lots of chat, some football. English summer guests at the Anderson lake home had just sent a sparkling photo book that created a lot of interest. And then Shel and Stan roughed out plans for their upcoming hiking trip to the fjords in Narvik in Norway, scheduled to occur sometime before Stan dies.

Shel will publish two books in December and handed Stan an unedited complimentary copy. The exact title escapes. Something about political science vis-a-vis international relations. Stan will post a book report here the day he finishes it. Meanwhile, Dave's contract book project for the Minneapolis Park Board should be finished off before Dave is, but that still may be a close call, with prop bets being taken. At any rate, there are some huge book-signing parties coming up.
We wondered how Randy is doing in LA with the writer's strike and all. Should people our age really be out there on the picket line? Is he ever allowed to write home?

Hopefully, we'll find out come Christmas time.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Grandfather, may we read a book now?

Just because I don't talk much yet, doesn't mean I don't like to read. There are many books that I like. Grandpa seems to like the same ones. "The Little Red Hen" is good because it talks about helping out and having a sense of responsibility and not being a sponge. Grandpa is big on that.

But the very best one today is "Thidwick, The Big-Hearted Moose" by Dr. Seuss. Aunt Nancy bought that for Grandpa before I was born and he gets such a kick out of it he keeps reading it to me, over and over and over again. He read it first in country school and just can't let it go.

Lately, Grandpa has been getting some complaints from you readers about not enough pictures of me on the blog.

Well, too bad. Right now I am in North Carolina with Mommy for Thanksgiving and I won't be at Grandma and Grandpa's until next week. Too bad. You'll just have to look at these old pictures of me and remember that I am much bigger now.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

All about Mom's turkey day!

Mom got her turkey today at Rudy's Redeye Grill in the Alexandria Holiday Inn.
Stan, Kathleen and Dan shared a noon seating at a buffet with something for everyone and then some.
We arrived at the Clearwater Suites at 11 a.m. (just as prompt as the Steve Rolfsruds, thank you) to see the work Becky and Linda had done to Mom's apartment. It was great!
And then we got a look at the big comfy chair that Michelle selected for mom. It is just right...sort of a Papa Bear size that is so easy to get in and out of. Ask Dan. He checked it out and pronounced it terrific.
Kathleen brought a surprise package for Mom, a nice sweatshirt that commends her for being "Grandma of the Beary Best Grandkids."
Although she uses her walker most of the time, Mom decided it would be fine today to use the wheelchair. This we attempted, novices all, but eventually we got the Trumm Drug wheelchair assembled, popped Mom into it, and strolled and rolled to the Rendezvous.
A few snowflakes floated past as we made our way outdoors.
Between Mom in her wheelchair, Dan and his cane and Stan's tight shoes, we were thankful we were on our way to a sit-down dinner and not a relay race.

The Holiday Inn Dome is immense and they seem to pride themselves in putting out everything you've ever dreamed for Thanksgiving.
Mom, who has great teeth, got a nice salad with lots of crisp things in it. She enjoys these toothsome treats, she confided, because at the dining hall back home, the foods tend to be a little softer, to favor those not quite as well-endowed as mother.
Mom caught the eye of some folks she knows; the retired druggist (he's single now) and also her former neighbor on 10th Ave. Mom looked quite a sprite in her new red shirt.
The blueberry pie was judged to be superior to the pumpkin edition. Some thought the turkey perfect, others preferred the roast beef, but everyone seemed to like the swedish meatballs. Mashed potatoes with red skins, sweet potatoes or pilaf? Buns, bread or crackers? Green beans, corn on the cob, candied carrots or celery sticks? Pickled herring, pickled beets or pickles?

When the last big decision had finally been made and we were wiping our chins, mom offered to pick up the tab, but we valiantly protested, saying "No, no, not at all, Virgil is paying for everything."

We got back into the car. It was a little tougher this time because we didn't have a curb to give us an extra boost into the car, but we made it. Mom said she enjoyed driving around, we headed to her house to go pick up her car. Mom said she might have a tear when she saw the house she can't live in. It was nice of her to share that feeling. She smiled as we drove past the church she helped to start, the one that honored her last week on their 25th Anniversary.
She used her walker for that celebration, she said, but got some nice table service from appreciative fellow parishioners.
The 1997 Olds 88 started right up with its new battery. The odometer says 89,415. All the paperwork was still in the car. It's a V6 that sold for $23,000 new. It is now parked in the lot at Clearwater Suites. Mom can see it out her window. We'll be setting a price on it shortly and expect it to sell fast.
Back at Mom's place, she seemed a bit tuckered. We got coffee and cookies and visited a bit, wondering how the rest of the family was enjoying the day. We dashed off an email to them on her bedside computer. As we were doing so, we could see Mom's eyelids getting heavy.
Soon we were back on I-94 via Osakis. We're sure Mom had a very nice Thanksgiving today, and after a really tough year, we're all most grateful she did. Hope you had a good one too.