Sunday, August 31, 2008

Virg: Your tee time is 10:17

Fun Republican convention fact: "Rush Limbaugh and Friends" have leased the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska for Monday. No confirmation that Hillary will be dropping by to thank Rush for his enthusiastic support during his "Anybody But Obama" radio campaign.

Happy Birthday, Ron Letnes!

Happy Birthday to Pastor Ron, who probably had to work this morning anyway. Fortunately, he loves his work.
This is his granddaughter, Anja, enjoying a piece of birthday cake on a previous, yet no more important, occasion.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Really. A great time for everyone!

Kathleen just loves the Minnesota State Fair. Stan loves. . . well, Stan loves Kathleen. Friday they went to the fair yet again, and had a great time. That's no bull. Video is four minutes of non-stop fun.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Before and After. . .

Trees planted on the Letnes homestead. The barren landscape surrounding the new Letnes home in Blaine has succumbed to sod, plants and now trees, courtesy Linda's little brother, Steve, and her son, Steve. Yesterday a planting bee installed a blaze maple, two firebird crabapples and three techny arbor vitae. According to Uncle Steve, "Steven Richard provided the labor, Linda provided the direction, and I provided the technical supervision."
Terrific work, team. Says Linda: "Do they ever look great!"
We agree, there's just nothing like a tree.
I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Have fun kids, summer's almost gone!

These kids and cousins had fun at the zoo, sitting on a big ol' pig and smiling for Holly's camera. They're our neighbors' (Tom and Sandy) batch of grandkids out for their big day, then it's back to school.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Minnesota State Fair 2008

Every year our daughter, Marcelline, has her picture taken with her son, Maxwell, in the photo booth at the Minnesota State Fair. Every year they have so much fun. Every year it makes us soo proud.

..eight, nine, ten. . .

There are 12 roses in the bouquet. Emily counts eleven, starts over with two. There are six red ones and two pink ones, and three orange ones. How many is that?
A kind reader might say, "Oh, how sweet, Grandpa bought Grandma a dozen roses," but the kind reader would be wrong. The roses were provided by Aunt Jennifer during her recent visit.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Upload from Jen's new Apple

Jen's here with Stan's birthday present, a new ball cap -- actually a souvenir from the Madeline Island Yacht Club. We're trying out her new Apple laptop and took this picture with its built-in camera and then posted it. Ain't we sweet? Now to enjoy a big plate of Kathleen's Mac & Cheese, which always magically comes out of the oven whenever Jenny visits. And then to catch up on Jen's new BF. Speaking of going out to eat, Kathy and Stan had dinner yesterday at the Jade Restaurant at the Midtown Exchange. Possibly the best Asian food ever.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ford got the nursery painted. . .

Ford and Jenn have moved in to their new Eden Prairie digs and Ford has finished painting the nursery, complete with geometric designs to stimulate baby's brain. Jenn had her checkup. Details on the Jenn/Ford blog, below.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Getting into the collegial groove

"College life ain't so bad so far," laughs Alex's mom, Becky Rolfsrud. She sends along these photos of Alexander's first day in the dorm at Minnesota State University Mankato.

Actually, the photo above was taken on his Mankato aunt and uncle's leisure deck, overlooking the pond. They have put three through college and understand the stress and challenges facing a newly-minted freshman.
Below is Alex's roommate, Travis... and an unidentified friend. (It's still hard for Stan to get used to the idea that women are allowed in men's dorms. How ancient is that?) Becky is confident her son will soon buckle down and hit the books. He's already got a job.

Big rig on Rolfsrud homestead

Special assignments photographer Harold Rolfsrud turned in this fine work today. It's the oil rig drilling away on the Rolfsrud homestead over the Bakken Shale play in western North Dakota. They've been at it since August 1.

There are dozens of wells in the vicinity. Higher oil prices and new technology have made these old fields interesting to the oil companies again.

This site was homesteaded by our grandparents, Rebecca (Heide) and Nils Rolfsrud about a hundred years ago, beginning a tussle with the land that continues today. The equipment is located just a stone's throw from Clear Creek, where Rebecca stopped with other pioneers, washed her handkerchief and decided this was the place to call home.

She had no idea they were farming above what some geologists believe is a larger oil reserve than Saudi Arabia.

Harold is her grandson and lives with his extended family just down the road from these photos. The homestead was abandoned years ago.

(Nice work on the photos, Harold. If this farming thing doesn't work out, there may be an opportunity for you...)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Briggs back from China, see blog

Briggs is back from her teaching assignment in China and has updated the Bill and Briggs blog. There's photos and copy from the Far East. She had quite an adventure.
That's her in Tiananmen Square:
For the first three weeks Briggs was stationed at Hong Kong University with a teaching partner and 12 intelligent, ambitious, kind 15 year-old students.
Read the whole story by clicking on the link below.

Alex now at Mankato U

Alex moved into his Mankato dorm yesterday and is happy and excited to be there. Local residents, Uncle Steve and Aunt Nancy, treated the move-in crew to pizza. Alex has a new email address as well, available from his parents or by checking with
He's pictured here at his high school graduation with his pops, Virg.
Meanwhile, back in Eden Prairie, Ford Rolfsrud reports that Jenn and he are snug in the new abode. Nothing yet on their blog, but, hey, it's a busy time. School starts soon, gotta get to the Fair, there's golf in Belle Plaine, oh my. Before you know it, the baby's here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lunch pals in St. Peter

Last week Steve said Kathleen had a great voice for narration. Yesterday Kathleen drove to St. Peter to see her friend, Diane, and make a little movie.
Diane and her husband, Jerry, own the St. Peter Greenhouse. They bought it in 1970 and now three generations are represented there.
Here's the movie. Three minutes. Kathleen took all the pictures, picked the music and narrates too. You'll like the result, Steve.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rolfsrud finishes Broadway performance

Our cousin, actress Erika Rolfsrud, has completed her lead role in the Broadway production of Rabbit Hole. Her next role is in Little Dog Laughed in St. Louis. Erika is the daughter of Dad's nephew, Arnold, and Metha Rolfsrud. She lives in Manhattan.

Erika keeps a blog. Here's an excerpt:

Howdy y'all! Well, Rabbit Hole is over and it was an amazing experience. A challenging role, indeed... I feel like I'm a better actress for having been given the opportunity to play Becca. And the play itself... whoa! The response to the play was remarkable. Our first preview in Hartford, we had a group of bereavement counselors in the house, all of whom had been brought to what they did as a result of a loss in their own lives. The discussion after the show that night was so affirming, so heartfelt. Again, I must say, it was an honor to have gotten to be in this gift of a play.

So now for an update: Check out the Review page for review snippets from the show's run. And coming up this fall, I will be playing Diane in Little Dog Laughed in St. Louis. It's been a great year so far... folks, I've been extraordinarily blessed!

Here's what the critics said about Erika:

"Becca, played with graceful force by Erika Rolfsrud..."-Sylviane Gold, New York Times, June 22,2008

"From the onset, Rolfsrud's calm exterior... masks an undercurrent of rage. Her lack of affect conveys more eloquently than words the depth of her despair. She is by turns resentful... defensive and desperate as she grapples to gain hold of something that will ease the pain
."-Bernadette Johnson,, June 2008

"Rolfsrud is stellar as the tightly wound, anger-hiding and perfection seeking Becca."-Susan Hood, The Hartford Courant, June 13, 2008

"...[the] fine stage work is enhanced by Rolfsrud's quite remarkable performance... she creates a woman so intent on controlling her emotions and determined to 'see it through' on her own that you want to reach out, embrace her and draw away some of the pain. Yet Becca is not a one-dimensional character, and Rolfsrud's work allows the audience to see the flickers of the woman Becca was... who slowly reappears as Rolfsrud gracefully and intelligently loosens some of the emotional chains she has wound about her character."-Geary Danihy,, June 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pennant fever rising

The Minnesota Twins are back in first place today, prompting a nostalgic look at an August afternoon in 1987. Kathleen was on her lunch break from Carson Pirie Scott and Stan was goofing with his new 20 pound video camera when Kathleen picked the Twins to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series that fall. That's exactly what happened. 60 seconds.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Family friend clips his wings

George Schultz, little brother to Roger (Linda's high school classmate), Marie (Stan's classmate) and Judy (Mom's pal from church) retired from American Airlines after a 29-year career. "It was a great ride, and I know I will really miss the people and the flying, but not all of the other stuff that goes along with the job these days," George writes. Above is a photo of his "swan song" flight, taken on the tarmac in Chicago. (Do you see the family resemblance, even at this age?)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

C'mon, Grandma, I've been around

Not wishing to disrupt Emily's breakfast of french toast and eggs, Grandma spelled out the next course for Grandpa's benefit this morning. "I'll get the F - R - U - I - T now," she said, excusing herself to prepare the ever-popular strawberry/blueberry medley.

"Fruit." said Emily.

She wasn't born yesterday.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fair notice to Virg, Becky, -- Missy, et al

Ford and Jenn will be moving to Eden Prairie within the next two weeks. Briggs and Bill will be taking over their lease in Eagan when they get back from Boston. Not sure if everyone has enough help moving, but it never hurts to ask.

How many Rolfsruds can one town take? Check local ordinances.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Boy-crazy rascals reunite

Decades after cruising the pink Lincoln through St. Paul's Midway district, Highland Park, and West 7th Street, these three life-time pals gathered today for waffles and storytelling. Back then, Margie, Fran and Kathleen chased boys into the evening. Margie drove, while Fran and Kathleen kept a sharp lookout for Busch, Schmid or Jacobson. The pack would have hunted much later, but, alas, the pink Lincoln, with its big flashy tailfins, had a curfew.

Lost & Found Dept.

These neatly-shined size 11M black oxfords were left in our front foyer five days ago after our Tuesday night dinner party. Judging by their condition, there is still a lot of wear left in them. Stan has a business meeting in Red Wing on Thursday. If the shoes are not claimed by then. . .

Briggs viewing Olympic Water Polo

Bill Siitari reports that his globe-trotting wife, Briggs Rolfsrud Siitari, flew this morning to Beijing with her co-fellow Sinead. They plan on attending a women's water polo match tomorrow. They may also catch a basketball contest before they fly to Shanghai on Aug. 14 to rejoin the rest of their fellows.

Bill and Briggs will be moving back to Minnesota from Boston as soon as Briggs' summer "job" has finished.

Water polo? How do you get all those horses into the water, asks an uninformed relative.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Excitement at the Chanhassen

Turns out, Mom and Dad were right. Dancing does get you very excited.
Last night Kathleen and Stan saw "Swing!" at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, and got really excited. Energetic, athletic, engaging and sometimes, yes, really sexy.
(There is no brass dancing pole... but there is a dance with a trombone and one with a BIG bass.)
Swing! is a loud, brassy musical revue celebrating the Swing era of Jazz through high-energy dancing, singing and acrobatics. Swing! opened on Broadway December 9, 1999 and enjoyed a 14-month run.
"I have never seen anything like it," Kathleen gushed.
Featuring the best singers, dancers and musicians the Twin Cities has to offer, Swing! will thrill audiences with the music of Duke Ellington ("It Don't Mean A Thing"), Benny Goodman ("Stompin' At The Savoy"), Count Basie ("Shout and Feel It"), Don Raye ("Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"), Joe Garland ("In The Mood"), Johnny Mercer ("Blues In The Night"), Sammy Fain ("I'll Be Seeing You") and many, many more.
The Republicans will get a special treat when some of the acts perform at Peavey Plaza during their upcoming convention.
Not sure if conservative Mom and Dad would approve. They prohibited their children from doing any dancing in order to protect them from such overt excitement which might lead to to, well, you know, more excitement. Therefore, Stan is not qualified to review this event. You'll have to see it yourself.
Stan does know the rare tall dancer when he sees one. Photo at left of the most coordinated, skilled, with-it (est. 6 and a half feet) giant ever seen. St. Paul's towering Kevin Iverson has been dancing since he was eight.
(Photos: Act One, Too LTD)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Ladies Who Lunch, Unit #3

Photos arrived a day ago documenting the recent luncheon enjoyed by Sosie Shearer and her sister-in-law Becky Rolfsrud. Little is known about what actually transpired because notes were neither taken nor offered. Inquiries as to details resulted in the instruction: "Go ahead and use your imagination. If you are wrong, we will correct you."

We offer these digital photos, one apparently taken by a shaky, ill-trained waiter; the rest were taken by Becky illustrating various parts of the Mainstreet Bar and Grill in Hopkins, modeled by her lunchmate.
Unit #3 is particularly proud of itself for this singular achievement: it has official lunch club cards: take that, M'liss, Kathleen, Linda and Bev!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Agnes? Virgil? Marion? . . . Why?

If your parents had named you Solveig Agnes, would you feel you had a case? Virgil and Allen Marion don't think so. Stephen Paul just laughs on the sidelines. Here's three minutes of uncut, unedited nonsense from Stan and Kathleen's family dinner Tuesday night.

Read to me, Cousin Max. . .

Maxwell Tong (Marcy's son) stopped by with his mother today and read some books to his Cousin Emily (Missy's daughter).

Earlier today, Maxwell lined up with the family yardstick (Kathleen, 5 foot, nada) and proudly announced he is now taller than his grandmother.

According to childhood chum M'liss Switzer, this is a long-time Neilson tradition. The kids in the old St. Paul neighborhood would line up back-to-back against Kathleen's 4' 11" mother to check their progress toward maturity, thrilled when they were finally taller than an actual adult.

Shel Silverstein grew up during Stan and Kathleen's era, but his books haven't waned in popularity. Where the Sidewalk Ends was published in 1974.

While he had a fantastic imagination, he was nonetheless a realist and a truth-teller and a believer in honest work. Stan loves this about him. A favorite:


Sandra's seen a leprechaun,
Eddie touched a troll,
Laurie danced with witches once,
Charlie found some goblins' gold.
Donald heard a mermaid sing,
Susy spied an elf,
But all the magic I have known
I've had to make myself.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Company's coming!

The susans and coneflowers are in full bloom, hoping to last long enough to greet the whole ram dam fam expected in Shakopee Tuesday, smack dab in the middle of America's Night Out.
We'll be having America's Night In. Wines imported from California and a Red Shed in Iowa. Hot dish to pass. Family tales.
Sosie is on her pilgrimage to Alexandria this week, and will be joined there later by Becky and Linda. She will be driving Virg's luxury sedan.

Friday, August 01, 2008

A note from China. . .

Briggs Rolfsrud Siitari writes from her new summer job:

Hi, guys. I hope all is well with everyone.
We arrived in Hangzhou, in the Zhejing Province of China yetserday. Getting here was an ordeal. Our flight was cancelled. We heard rumors of a tropical storm...but then walked right by another flight direct to Hangzhou, so then we thought we must have been lied to. We hung out in the airport for a few hours, but I was lucky enough to find a massage place, so I was pretty happy hanging out all day. It felt amazing. I think it made the trip bearable for me, because I had been very uncomfortable up until that point. We wandered around the airport, then finally got a plane ride to Shanghai. We all traveled to a bus, where we could barely fit. While trying to fit all of our luggage on board, people were yelling furiously at us for a variety of reasons I didn't understand (because my Mandarin skills are lacking).
But, we made it, and took the bus on the three hour trip to Hangzhou.
Essentially, we left Hong Kong University at 8:30 am and arrived in Hangzhou at 11 pm. It was only supposed to be a few hour trip. Ugh. The saddest part of the whole thing is that they had a lot of fun activities planned for yesterday that we had to miss out on. Sigh. But, we ate a delicious meal full of vegetables and bean curd upon our arrival, so all were happy and healthy last night.

Today, we watched a presentation on China, then had lunch at a local pizza joint. Afterward, we played icebreakers with our co-fellows, and I had dinner with two of my students, named Elwin and Library. The kids choose their own names, and some of them are unusual, like Library, Memory, Spirit and Jupiter.

We have squatting toilets, meaning they are without a seat - just a hole in the ground. I will take a picture and show you. Also, the toilet hole is right next to the shower hole in our personal bathroom (though it is slightly elevated) that's a little weird and unsanitary.

Tomorrow, we go to West Lake, which is rumored to be beautiful. However, it is supposed to storm, so our trip may be truncated.

I am happy and healthy. My body wasn't sore today. Everyone has been great about assisting me with everything. Annie carried all of my luggage yesterday, and yelled at me every time I got near it. She's very funny and obviously kind. Michael, my teaching partner, and I have been working on our curriculum for this next adventure. We are going to do something totally different than before.... we're just not sure what it will be. I thought we could look at the pros and cons of big name universities in the west creating campuses abroad. Do they lose credibility by doing so? Should the curriculum change to accommodate the new nation's needs, or should it stay true to its 'home' campus? I thought these might be some interesting questions to ask my 18-19 year old students as they embark upon their first semester at college here at Zhejing University.

Miss you all!