Friday, October 31, 2008

Clark K. (everyone's hero) and the old witch

Hunter and Blake had a great Halloween. (It appears that mom and dad did too) Check it out on the Jerdee/Underwood family blog at left.

See? I told you it wasn't very scary

Our granddaughter is a pink poodle this year and she's every bit as cute as our little poodles that we fondly remember, Daisy and Hoover.
Let the fun begin! Happy Halloween, all!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Change? What change. Mom's feeling great

Mom had her nails done yesterday. They now sport a kitty-cat on her middle finger. (Click on this photo to enlarge it. It's a really nice picture.)

Cheap gas and a beautiful day for driving prompted a day-trip to see Stan's Mom in Alexandria. Stan and Kathleen headed North by Northwest and were soon in the land of the Vikings where snow covered the ground on Sunday, but was pretty much gone when they arrived at 11 a.m.
Mom looked great, feels great, and her arm is much better now... doesn't need the sling.
The nation may be in its worst shape since the Great Depression and the electorate may be calling for change, but that doesn't shake our rock-ribbed Republican. No change for her, no sir, she's already voted and she voted straight up, if you must know. She did her research, she says, and, among other things, she's a bit suspicious of that comedian. (Shows just what can happen when Linda is out of the country.)
We talked about her children. She loves that topic. And we talked about the Ford/Jenn challenge to "Name that Baby Girl." We asked Mom what she might name another girl great-granddaughter with the initials KLMR ... then we thought better of it. Check this five-minute movie of our day and see why.

Best sides?

We're back on-line:

We returned home from our Tuesday visit to Mother's place in Alexandria to find that our cable had been cut by the lawn people. No internet, no TV, no email, no blog. The cable company showed up this morning and ran a temporary line that will probably remain for six months, if our last experience is any guide. The finger-pointing has begun. Afterall, the cable was buried at least an inch deep and the lawn company aerates two. Onward!

We just booted up, and after the usual spam, we found this report from Steve in Tucson, along with a couple of photos. Beautiful shots, both of them, but curious in that they feature two fine backsides. For those unfamiliar with this view, that's Steve. above. and Leno, below.
Here's the note that came with the pix.


The attached picures show Leno and me relaxing this afternoon with a little golf.

We had just finished a stressful come-from-behind-in-the-third-set doubles tennis match and been on the winning team for the annual Unit 16 eight-team bocce ball tournament.
(Yes, I know, the bocce ball win is a little unfair as Leno IS 100 percent Italian.)
I have been here eight days and as of yet have not seen a cloud in the sky. 80s every day with 5 to 10 mph winds except for one day when they got up to 15 mph. There have been strong winds to the east the last couple of days but the Catalina mountain range--seen in the attached pictures--including 9,000 foot Mt. Lemmon, have protected us from that wind. We just see the haze which just makes the sunsets against the mountiains that much more spectacular.
Meanwhile, I have managed to get caught up on my orders while here "on vacation."
Back to reality on Friday.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Meanwhile, on Florida's left coast

Thanks to careful instruction by Swing Coach Becky Lynn, (top photo) Virg (left photo) got his stroke back early on during the couple's present stay in Ft. Meyers, enjoying an early season dip into the area's amenities.
They'll join forces soon with Virg's sister, Becky Beverly and her husband Al, who winter in Venice, just north of Ft. Meyers.
Word has it they may combine for a visit to the nearby (and educational) Tom Edison museum.
Virg has observed that home construction has not ceased; they're putting up housing full-speed in his neighborhood, (right photo) as the banks continue foreclosures on nearby properties.
Go figure.
The view below is from the couple's lanai, which is Floridaspeak for screen porch.

Special note: Virg and Becky, if you want to see the weather you are missing, click on this clip made in Alexandria today and see Stan's classmate demonstrate the power of the north wind combined with a weak mind.

Our gardener reports from Tucson

Steve reports good summer growth from all the projects started last spring at the house in Tucson. He's down there for a few days, golfing with his pal, Leno, and getting the house set up for the season.

The popular Cafe del Solveig, situated with a sunny mountain view on the street side of the house, is getting plenty of shade now (bottom photo) with Virg's fully grown Acacia tree providing a wall of privacy as well. In front of the acacia are the two desert spoons which have sprouted about 20 feet in the air, as have the other desert spoons all over Saddlebrooke, apparently because of the extra moisture this year.

Left photo shows Virg's new oleanders and Steve's new cherry shrub planted last spring.

Right photo shows one more sunset--after another boring day of 80s with 5 mph wind and dew points in the teens. Top photo shows the back yard with the sprinklers watering the freshly seeded winter-ready fairways.
Nice job with the pictures, Steve, and to make your early-season sojourn even more worthwhile, it may comfort you to know that we enjoyed a day of snow and north winds in Minnesota today. Perfect for hanging storm windows on the screen porch.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kathleen catches Stan cheating. . .

Mere suspicions turned to shock and dismay this morning when Kathleen made a surprise visit to Stan's office.

As a point of pride if not braggadocio, Kathleen has been trying to make it all the way through October without turning on the furnace. Stan has lent his tacit support to this dubious goal, and until now it appeared that, with only minor discomfort, the household would make it through to November.

However, there's a gas fireplace in the basement adjacent to Stan's office. Today Kathleen discovered a fire in it. She called it "cheating."

No matter that the gas dryer and the gas oven have been providing some warmth all along upstairs, oh no, that's different, she explains, acting as both contestant and referee.

Our furnace has yet to be ignited, but even so, just like Barry Bonds' home runs, Kathleen's 2008 record for frugality has been forever soiled by an asterisk.

(Photo, right: The scene of the crime.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Awaiting release form

We are in receipt of a snapshot of the pastor's wife and co-bathers toweling off in a turkish bath in a foreign country. We have not, as yet, received authorization for its publication on this family blog. Lacking this, we must regretfully withold its publication -- for the time being.
The Editor

Scamping On Top of Old Smokey

News has arrived that our next-door neighbors, Tom and Sandy Story, have scaled the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. They wired us a picture of the lead sherpa, Tom, pointing out the crown of the legendary peak, and another shot of both explorers, smiling, fresh and satisfied -- on top of Old Smokey.
The couple pulled out of our shared driveway over 10 days ago in their camping machine and we are happy to report that all continues onward as planned. You may recall seeing the machine on this blog before, all hitched up to Kathleen's bug, as if ready to tow bed, sink and groceries across America. (photo below)

We haven't been told if the couple actually has close relatives in these faraway hills, and we're not sure about the origin of this tale, but we will repeat it anyway, in honor of our adventurous friends. It's about hillbillies on their first family vacation in Nashville. One day, the father took his son into a large building. They were amazed by everything they saw, especially the elevator at one end of the lobby.

The boy asked, "What's this, Pa?"

The father responded, "Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life. I don't know what it is!"

While the boy and his father watched in wide-eyed astonishment, an old lady in a wheelchair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched small circles of lights above the walls light up. They continued to watch as the circles lit up in the reverse direction.

The walls opened again, and a voluptuous twenty-four-year old woman stepped out.

The father turned to his son and said, "Go get your ma!"
On top of Old Smokey,
All covered with snow,
I lost my true lover,
For courting too slow.

For courting's a pleasure,
But parting is grief,
And a false-hearted lover,
Is worse than a thief.

A thief will just rob you,
And take what you have,
But a false-hearted lover,
Will lead you to your grave.

The grave will decay you,
And turn you to dust,
Not one boy in a hundred
A poor girl can trust.

They'll hug you and kiss you,
And tell you more lies,
Than crossties on a railroad,
Or stars in the sky.

So come ye young maidens,
And listen to me,
Never place your affection
In a green willow tree.

For the leaves they will wither,
The roots they will die,
And you'll be forsaken,
And never know why.

(Author unknown)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

We go through this every year

I get that we are tough Minnesotans.
I understand that we're seniors on a fixed income.
I realize that the cost of fuel is frightening.
And I know it is fun to play our annual game. . . but..

Please, Kathleen, it is October 23 for chrissakes!
Could we just turn on the furnace just for a little while?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mom and Stan hold Minnesota fort

All of Stan's siblings are out of state at once today, perhaps the first time in history. Becky's in Florida, Linda's in Italy, Solveig's at home in California, Steve's in Tucson and Virgil has taken a six-week residence in Florida. (That's Virg's wife, Becky, in photo at right)
This leaves Stan as the sole Minnesota representative for his mother. He would report this oddity to his next door neighbor, but Tom and Sandy are in Kentucky.

News from North Dakota well site

Our cousin Rose Veeder writes from North Dakota:

Stan, I looked up your web site a couple of days ago and noticed the flare picture Harold sent you. I thought you might be interested in the photo I took of it when they were drilling.

I took this August 18 and assume the well had been up at least 2-3 weeks. I do know that my daughter came home over Labor Day and we drove by it on that Sunday and it had just been taken down; the rig was still there but on its side getting ready to move.

Don't know any other info other than it is evidently a producer with lots of gas judging by the large flare. Think of that as the oil company burning up your money!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Minnesota Fairway Octoberfest

When the cold wind of November sweeps down from the north, they pull up the flags and the snowbirds fly south for their golf. But before that, October happens, a righteous celebration of the glory and goodness of nature and the best time ever to roll down the fairway with a friend.

In a booming climactic overture, the world merrily blows up in a joyful explosion of color and leafy fragmentation, reminding the audience to hurry back for next year's concert.

The only thing, in the midst of this cacaphony, sometimes it's hard to find your ball.

Stan, Steve and Ford Rolfsrud took their swings last week in honor of a 58-year-olds' October birth. We hope you enjoy this brief reprise of a beautiful day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Next time, a jungle gym

See the shelving? Mungo. See the trim? Mungo.
Stan is learning the hard way that there is just nothing sexy about a walk-in closet.
He's been organizing a 12 foot by 8 foot space in the basement for the dust-free storage of memorabilia, seasonal clothing, adult children's left-behinds, stuff too good to throw out for now, and things to decide upon later.
It is constructed mostly of mungo, Keith Olbermann's term for building materials left behind or not used on a previous job. You know, the leftovers leaning on the margins in garages across America. The stuff that wives either ignore with a telling eye-roll or remark about at the garage sale. ("That's not for sale, my husband has big plans, you know.")
Stan had enough mungo to create the entire closet, with recycled french door and laminated shelving, for $100 worth of new materials. This will not get him a half hour on HGTV's Design on a Dime, but it should get him some note from friends and neighbors.
Nothing so far.
When mentioned in polite conversation it is a non-starter. "I've been mudding walls today," invariably results in, "Oh, when you're done, if you're such an expert, come over to my house. I've got some work for you." Nobody asks for a tour. Nobody wants to ooh and ahh, to examine the shelves, feel the eight-foot clothes pole. Pat Minelli just shakes his head, his wife bragging that she's the handyman in the family. Brother Steve changes the subject, Wes says Stan works too hard for a retired guy. And so on.
Other than a supportive wife looking forward to using the new space, the only willing visitor to the project so far has been neighbor Tom Story, who came out of guilt after asking Stan to help move his big televison set and then dropping it on Stan's foot. "This is real nice," he said, as Stan limped around the premises, showing off the seams in the sheetrock and the smooth, shaped 45 degree corners.
There's just no respect for the builder of walk-in closets. He toils alone, quietly bringing order to chaos, mudding and taping and screwing in anonymity.
Next time? A jungle gym in the backyard with moat, yellow slide and cheery flags.


The retired schoolteacher and the Cloquet pastor are in Italy today. Stan's sister Linda and her husband, Ron, sent this report from their hotel:

All of the senses are in play. Of course! We are in Italy. We flew in from Athens on Aegean, the best flight we have taken in years. Leather seats, airbus, and on a two hour flight we were fed a delicious meal with a treat before, beverages with a smile. Wow!

We stayed at Hotel Berna, a business hotel that sells its 4 star rooms for half on the weekends just a few blocks from the train station where our bus from the airport pulled up. We were walked to our hotel by an Italian who refused to take any money for the walk, just asked us to please vote for Obama. That is a done deal. Nice to have a hotel with a complimentary minibar in the room, apples for all at the desk, and beverages available all day long. Free internet too.

Yesterday we had a perfect day. We had slept well in our lovely room and woke early. Took the metro to the Duomo. Almost no one was there, it was so early. The cathedral is the fourth largest in Europe and certainly at least the fourth most beautiful. We worshipped there as it was Sunday, understanding nothing, but appreciating a place to pray. Mosques do not have music, art, nor do the men pray with the women...too many distractions.
This cathedral had music and stained glass windows to die for. We like the Christian model better. We headed over to the Galleria where McDonalds holds as prestigious a spot in the center as the fanciest stores in the Galleria.
Breakfast at McDonalds is a croissant and McCafe. Through the Galleria we went to the LaScala Museum. For a mere 4 euro we were treated to an avalanche of music (on Bose speakers), a visit into the Opera House right above the royal box etc. We were drawn to the special exhibit of Karajan, a modern conductor, who put the orchestra on visual and audio contact with the listener. I sat, teary eyed, listening to one symphony after another, watching the musicians work in a way I have never seen before. Leaving the museum we wandered over to LaRiscentre, a large department store which Rick Steves says is Nordstrom like. Yes, that, and then some. We ate on the rooftop terrace which is mere feet across from the rooftop of the Duomo. We had the best breakfast of our trip, served with class. Motivated by the thickest °chocolate milk ° we have ever tasted, we moved into the market section and bought gifts, lots of them. We have begun filling our second pack with gifts and truly there is no room left. A new suitcase or bag may be in order. Moving back to the Duomo we took the lift half way up and then walked up many steps to the rooftop of this magnificient cathedral. The day was perfect and the sun came out especially at that time. Down below was a protest against world poverty, filling the square. Yes, a Ron and Linda kind of experience. When we felt we had done everything we wanted to do, we headed back to the metro and the Berna Hotel. We got to watch CNN for hours in English, feeling that we are staying caught up.

This morning we took a train to Como, found our hotel, planned out our excursion for tomorrow...buses and boats will get us to Varenna and Bellagio with enough time to explore. We ate a delicious Italian lunch just off of Lake Como with mountains as backdrop and fall leaves dropping around us. I think Italy will be our favorite country of the three we visited on this trip. As I type this, Ron has gone back for as much laundry as he can pack into a daypack. We will do some walking and call it a day.

We have yet to use the umbrella and poncho we brought with us. Maybe another week of this weather.

Love, Linda

(Photos from top, Lake Como, Hotel Berna, Milan Cathedral, La Scala museum, Bellagio)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Producers

The story of The Producers could have been ripped from today's headlines. We read of easy money scams, greed and deception enriching schemers everywhere: Wall Street CEOs, a Minnesota big shot, a Forrest Lake pastor.
We doubt those bad guys have anywhere near the talent of the characters in last night's Chanhassen Dinner Theatre performance, where Leo Bloom cooks the books as Max Bialystock literally screws rich old ladies.
Both end up in prison after a seemingly endless expose' of evil Broadway machinations, but are swiftly excused by the governor for the important work they do teaching prisoners to line dance. We doubt our current batch of white collar criminals will get off as easily, but we willingly suspended our disbelief last night.
Mel Brooks is a funny, irreverent man. We laughed at his Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, at his 2000 Year Old Man. ("Jesus? Yes. I knew him. A nice man. He used to come into the store. Never bought anything.") For some reason, we had never seen his 1968 movie so we weren't sure what to expect last night.
"It will be hilarious," we were repeatedly warned. "You will laugh!" And it was funny. Some of the character development was outrageously funny. But it was also uneven and needed tightening. The basic premise: -- open a show on Broadway that is so bad it closes in one night and you can keep all the investor's front money because no one will bother checking up on a flop, -- isn't exactly a masterpiece of artifice. You have to be a good sport to go along with it, and by the time the story finally closes with the obligatory values and redemption segment, you're exhausted.
Our favorite Chanhassen comic, Jay Albright, managed to keep his energy high during his demanding role as producer Bialystock, the role taken by Zero Mostel in the movie. Albright (see photo) was the lightweight butt of some flat fat jokes. His vigorous casting-couch humping of an oversexed senior citizen investor momentarily startled those of us more accustomed to the usual chicken Chanhassen, but it was all in good fun and somehow acceptably done. The recruitment of a gay director brought the most audience howls as Roger DeBris (the amazingly versatile David Anthony Brinkley - photo below) and his assistant Carmen Ghia (Mark King) pranced around their purple apartment, satisfying our wildest stereotypes of what we might imagine to be a Broadway lifestyle.
The writing is good, but so good, apparently, that no joke could be left behind. We could think of a few. It's a Brooks trademark to wander around a bit, trying to get all the good bits and references included. But we're not Broadway insiders, and we're older now, and speaking only of myself, just a bit grumpier, crankier, a bit more McCainish these days. So our drive home from Chanhassen seemed a little longer last night, but so was the show -- three hours. We'll hurry back though. Coming in February? "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," Kathleen's absolute favorite. And then? Oklahoma!

All photos by Act One, Too Ltd

(We saw the editor of the Chanhassen Villager -- Download Dick -- and his lovely wife at last night's show, he with a pad and pencil. We promised to post these comments early today, so he would have a chance to cut and paste.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Producers tonight at Chanhassen

It's Dinner Theatre night tonight and we're looking forward to seeing The Producers. Mel Brooks is Stan's favorite comic mind (2000 Year Old Man, Blazing Saddles, etc.) and the funniest actor on the Chanhassen stage, we think, is Jay Albright. We're looking forward to this comedic pairing tonight and we'll let you know if we think it succeeds.

Brooks took a real gamble when he adapted his 1968 film satire to the musical stage. The story was utterly outrageous: flop covered theatrical producer Max Bialystock realizes the road to his financial redemption lies in producing the worst musical ever written, raising $25,000 of the capital, and pocketing it all when the show is a one-night-only disaster. Aided and abetted by a timid accountant, Leo Bloom, Bialystock options the rights to a "gay romp with Adolf and Eva in Berchtesgarten" called "Springtime for Hitler." Of course, if the show, by some insane stretch of credulity, were to become a hit, Bialystock and Bloom would be thrown in jail. And that’s exactly what happens!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Steve!

Steve celebrated most of his birthday today at the Terrace View Golf Course in Mankato, with 27 exciting holes of continuous match play, interrupted only by a manly lunch of beef, barbequed chicken and potatoes (no salad, no vegetables). His son, Ford, above, joined him in the exercise, as well as his photographer and brother, Stan, who promises a full movie of the auspicious event for those interested in viewing all aspects of the birthday boy's golf game. It was a gorgeous day in Mankato, crisp, clear, still and cool. Stan golfed the mid-morning temperature, 39. Kathleen sent along a gift, a picture frame to be filled by the new January grandchild. Wife Nancy dropped by briefly (right) but had a full workday.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New entry in the baby derby. . .

Grandma Linda leaked it this morning from Turkey. Now there's official word.
Anja's parents, Erik and Shana, are expecting another baby. Get the complete details on the Erickson blog, below. Great Grandma Beverly in Alexandria has been informed and is delighted, so family protocols have been observed. The best part is that Linda has someone else to shop for in Greece.
The baby derby is on!

(Shana is Stan and Kathleen's niece. Linda is his sister. Anja and Shana are pictured above at a recent apple orchard outing. Congratulations, Erik and Shana!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October delights

Nothing says October like homemade pumpkin bread, fresh from the oven. These three loaves cooled in Kathleen's kitchen Sunday. Stan and his nephew will head to Mankato to celebrate Steve's birthday on Thursday. There'll be golf and then a barbeque on the deck. There would have been slabs of pumpkin bread too, but alas, this batch is gone.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Best Dog in the Whole Wide World

Our longtime friend, Randy Anderson, now lives in LA where he works as a television writer. He shares his Las Filas home with a Schipperke, a small black dog with attitude. describes the breed this way:
The Schipperke’s name means “little captain” in Flemish, and that well describes the personality of this peppy, confident dog. The
Schipperke (SKIP-er-kee) needs to make sure everything is shipshape. He wants to know where people are and what they’re up to. The Schip has a can-do attitude. He is quick-thinking and quick-moving. He is unaware of his small size, and eagerly enters into play with dogs of any kind or size.

Yesterday we got this note from Randy:

Friends and Family,

Skippy's gone.

I was with him last night, and as he lay dying on the pillow on the floor, I hunkered down and whispered into Skip's ear what I always said to him and what he already knew:

"You're the best dog in the whole wide world."

The little rascal suffered very little, and even rallied late last night, as was his spirit -- trying to get up, and fighting for his life. That was Skippy. But in the end, he couldn't stand up anymore, or eat or drink...and so...he passed this Christine, my ex, called the vet to put him down.

The little soldier was 17 1/2 years-old or so. We don't know for sure, because he was a foundling, rescued off Griffith Park Blvd. in 1993. A vet at the time put his age then at 2 or 2 1/2.

So he lived a long and lucky life, despite a broken leg, attacks of epilepsy, and a propensity to sneak away on a series of "adventures." The only dog love of his life, Lady, an American Eskimo who lived up the street, passed away years ago; and still Skippy, on walks, would cross over to Lady's house, and put his paws up on the bay window, looking for Lady. He never showed that kind of affection for any other dog. And he was loyal to her, even in death. That was my Skippy.

And yet no matter his maladies, Skippy was always a very happy dog, right up to the end. He especially loved it when company was over, because he knew he could cadge a lot of food and get a lot of attention.

And so, with a heavy heart, but also with gratitude for what he brought into my life, I remember...

...Skippy sneaking out onto the cantilevered roof at Griffith Park Blvd. for God knows what reason, and Mark saving him many times from falling off the precipice.

...Skippy digging three peekholes under a fence, so he could get three different Points of View on a smart-aleck cat that lived on the other side of the fence.

...Skippy sprinting in giant, joyous circles on the football field at Marshall High, so happy to be free and able to run, run, run.

...Skippy running far ahead on his walks with Dad, but then stopping on a dime and parking his little black butt on the corner curb, patiently waiting for his lagging Daddy to usher him across the dangerous intersection.

...Skippy growling in melodious dog speak when you tried to take a bone away from him, protecting the bone with his paws like a convict in the prison commissary.

...Skippy going bonkers when Dad said, "Truck"! Knowing he wasn't going to be left behind this time...and then tearing outside and leaping into the backseat and assuming his position, with his head out the window of the SUV, taking in the breeze and all the wondrous smells.

...Skippy smelling a hundred different spots on his walks, "reading the news," and peeing over those hundred spots, reminding the neighborhood dogs who was boss.

...Skippy looking at his Dad, and then turning and trotting down the hall, into the bedroom and onto his little sheepskin sleeping rug...trying to tell Dad that it was time to turn off the TV and go to bed.

...Skippy being right inside the door when Dad returned home, leaping and pirouetting in excitement that all was right with the world again, and he wasn't alone, and that food was on the way.

...Skippy squirreling away scores of bones and treats in the backyard for future usage when a sudden attack of the munchies came on...and then dragging in the soggy, dirty snack and dumping it on the rug.

...Skippy at "The Fugitive" offices, where the staffers always encouraged his Dad to sneak him in so he could perk up their day...and so, as the day began, he'd leave Daddy's office and trot down the row of offices, darting in and out, saying, "Good morning" to everyone...and then one day, he wasn't to be found anywhere, with Daddy asking everyone, "Where's Skippy?" and finally getting the answer: "Skippy? Oh, he's down in editing."

...Skippy hiding in shame, refusing to come out of hiding, when he had one of his infrequent "accidents" and Daddy had to clean up the mess.

...Skippy learning, at an early age, a healthy respect for skunks.

...Skippy, with a little help from his dad, turning from a little street thug into a big creampuff and a huge pushover for love and affection, which he always returned tenfold.

The memories are endless. So we'll stop there.

R.I.P, good buddy. You were one of a kind. Many people loved you and enjoyed a lifetime of shenanigans and joy from you.

Most of all, Skip's dad.

Thanks to all of you, friends and family, for every loving stroke of the fur you gave the boy.

You're buried in my heart, Skip...

...and will always remain...

...the best dog in the whole wide world.

-- Randy
(Photo at right: Randy's niece, Lauren Anderson with Skippy)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Linda's travel report from Turkey

Stan's sister, Linda Letnes, and her husband, Ron, are in Turkey and Greece with a tour group. (That's Linda on the right, enjoying a laugh with her family last summer.) They have been filing regular reports from various internet cafes along the way.
They are departing Turkey for Greece today and posted this letter, which you may find interesting.


Yesterday was our last full day in Turkey and could have been my favorite. The weather has been perfect for the whole 14 days, today is no exception. Sunshine, but cool, with a gentle breeze, just right for walks along the harbors of Kusadasi, Turkey and the island of Samos, Greece. Notice all the commas? We are back on English keyboards and no longer in Turkey.

Usually we haven't left our hotels until 9, but yesterday we were up earlier and off to Ephesus. We wanted to get there by 8 so that we could skip any crowds. We did. We were the first in the gate and Sidar took us to places most people don't go. Everyone sees the ancient streets and the library, the community latrines; Sidar got us into the amphitheatre and showed us where Paul [left] preached before the community got fed up with him and threw him out of town. [See photo, above] We also got into the ancient homes of the rich. They were something! Built as townhouses going up the hill with courtyards, mosaics, incredible interior designs. We finished Ephesus early thanks to Sidar's expertise and had the rest of the day for choices.

Ron and I chose to go independently to the Apostle John's [right] burial place. The monument still stands, surrounded by the basilica ruins, but the Italians took the bones to Rome about a hundred years ago. No problem, we don't worship bones anyway. We also got to see where John preached and needed to imagine the sea in the place of fields there now. Still the mountains behind him must have looked something like the way they look today. Ron and I found a pharmacy for toothpaste etc., enjoyed a stop for lunch, and took public transport back to the city of Kusadasi. Dropped off for a transfer to the marina, we decided to walk the mile downhill.

Views were spectacular and we were glad we did. We returned to our hotel, rested, checked the BBC for the latest news, and then returned to the streets for shopping. I had thought that Kusadasi [left] would be a dump, but it isn't. All new in the last 30 years, it has a marvelous bay with great walkways, very sandy beaches, cute fishing piers for anyone to use. We snacked there amongst the rocks. We meandered through many streets finding things for the grandkids etc. We bartered and paid what we thought things were worth. Another thing I have noticed about the places we went was the cleanliness of the streets...reminds me of the Disney policy. Makes shopping a pleasant experience. We never eat until 7:30 so we had plenty of time for everything we needed to do. Our dinner was special as we have all become such good friends. We walked back to our hotel and settled in for more music. Someone knew that Sidar could play the piano and yes, he can. Another great night for singing along with various pianists.

After breakfast we said goodbye to the people going to Izmir for their flights and 10 of us were shuttled to the harbor to catch our ferry to Samos. Sidar knew the owner and had arranged an easy transfer for us. Two hours later we arrived in Samos, a town Ron and I had spent time in during 2002 so we knew our way around. We are on the street for the afternoon and enjoying the ambience. This is the second time we have been to the internet cafe today, it's very comfortable here. We found a bank we had good memories of and strolled the harbor and the town, stopping on benches provided everywhere. No one cares that you are loitering, so are many others and provisions are there. Just the right kind of real itinerary. In an hour we will take a taxi to the airport, fly into Athens and an hour later, fly into Santorini [below].

We are very happy we took the RickStevesTour and would recommend it to anyone interested in learning about another culture. I have been told repeatedly that the night we gathered in a lush garden in Antolya (also spelled Anatolya) was the jelling night for our group. Ron was given something that represented a guitar (no Guild for sure, but he repaired it and made it sing along with us). We all sang songs from the 50's, 60's and on. No one had music, no words, but Ron never fails to come through. Every song they threw out, he could play and sing at least a verse of and the group really got into it. I had thought the Cobber hootenany was great, Jon, but THIS was even better. This group can really sing and participate. The younger ones even knew the songs, the older ones had lived through it all and the words came flowing back for many of us. I don't think anyone will ever forget the night.

Our group could really talk politics in an informed way; we laughed so much. All of us care deeply about our country and are very concerned about what we read in newspapers, the internet, or handheld gadgets. I was so impressed with the intelligence, the quality of this group, the healthy attitudes. We carried our own luggage, could walk miles on end, and there was no grouching. No need as the trip was so well paced. Some of the places we stayed were simple homes in villages but we always had our personal bathrooms, we ate in villagers' homes as well as high end restaurants. A wonderful mix. We began and ended in excellent hotels with all the perks. We had time for private exploring, choices of our own, along with all that Sidar offered.

We are content. On to Santorini.

Love, Linda

(Decency dissed ----
Hurry home, Linda and Ron. It's getting bizarre here. Yesterday nice Minnesotans booed John McCain when he asked them to be respectful and decent.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Caution: Some nudity

Today's story about the two lost hikers who were found safe in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area reminded Stan of the pile of slides in the office. Back in 1978 he and three others headed into the Canadian Wilderness. One of their party was a 70-something. He's gone now, but he left behind a trove of slides and memories. Five minutes.

25,000 visits

Shortly before midnight last night, someone made visit No. 25,000 to this site.
We're delighted to have the roughly 75 visits here each day, but we're sorry when we don't have something interesting for you to see when you get here.
To that end, please send something interesting about yourself sometime. We try to make this blog be about others as much as possible, but it is difficult when people are as shy as Norwegian bachelor farmers.
We know its hard to brag, but that's okay. We'll post your goof-ups too.
Thanks again for the visits.
The management.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The latest entry into the blogsphere shows great promise. It's the Korkowski family blog, the brainchild of Stan's classmate, Bev Roers, who recently became Linda Letnes' Blaine area walking mate and lunch pal. Bev married into the Korkowski clan.

Al and Ruby Korkowski were surrogate parents for Stan (and sometimes Sosie) during his preschool years. They're gone now, but their Brandon area relations thrive throughout the country. This blog intends to bind them more closely and it will be fun to watch.
Here's a sample of a Korkowski farm wife's lament:
". . . I guess it was more of a job than one would think, because when I came home from work, there was a stand-up pair of pants full of cow doookie ( not to be confused with cowpie cookies) on the rug by the bed. A reminder to me of what I won't miss!!!! Oh, the dairy air!!!"
I don't know the writer, but she sounds just the way Ruby would talk, a couple generations ago. She teased Al a lot, and loved him very much. Al and Ruby sold off their entire dairy herd during my years with them.

We have added the new blog to the monitor list below.
Best of luck with your new blog, Korkowskis, as you use high tech to celebrate family ties.

Also below is Stan's favorite photo of his "mother," enthroned on the red hayrack. Stan and Al used it to gather bales; Stan carefully drove the red Farmall tractor in low gear from bale to bale in the stubble field as Al pitched the bales onto the rack. Once fully-loaded, Stan snuggled into Al's lap as they merrily sped off in high gear to the barn loft. Stan was four years old at the time.

When not in use, the hayrack served as a jungle gym. Its narrow doorway formed a set of parallel bars for swinging. They were happy days on the Korkowski farm.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Joey Came to Play

Our neighbor's grandson, Joey, met our granddaughter, Emily, recently for a brief playtime. They are one week apart in age and 28 months old in this video. Two fun minutes.

Autumnal Pas de Deux

Canada geese honked overhead under blue skies yesterday, gathering momentum for their southern journey. This morning heavy rains kept the ducks low. We heard booming shotguns, pulled up our covers and got a little extra fall snooze. October is a wonderful month.
(Photo by Stan Rolfsrud)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Goodbye to Grandma Blethen

Today, on a splashy October morning, the ashes of Jeanette Ritter Blethen, 94, were gently buried in a verdant Rochester, Minn., graveyard, joining little "Tinker," the five-year-old taken from her in a drowning 58 years ago.
(click to enlarge photo above)
Jeanette died March 12, 2008. She was Kathleen Rolfsrud's mother-in-law for nine short years, but the two never lost touch. Kathleen was always fond of her and the extended family she nurtured over the years.
Missy, Marcy and Jennifer Blethen loved their sweet grandmother as well. Jeanette had five grandchildren including brothers, Bobby and David Hagen, pictured with Missy, above, who were at the graveside today, along with Laurel and Vicky, their significant others. They now live in Savage and New Market, not far from Kathleen's home in Shakopee.

Jeanette adored her great-granddaughter, Emily Kathleen Blethen, who was among the celebrants today. Maxwell Harrison Tong, Marcy's son, is her only other great-grandchild.
A retired Lutheran minister conducted the open air memoriam for this devout Catholic woman. Attendees added their thoughts on her energetic, engaged, compassionate life. After the service, the assembly enjoyed lunch at Michael's in Rochester and each retold favorite stories of this beloved woman.
(All photos by Kathleen Rolfsrud - which is why she isn't in any of them.)