Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Find the boys in the banyans

Holiday fun continues in Florida. Find Hunter and Blake in the banyan trees and read all about it in the Jerdee blog at left.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This is for you, Unni

We got a note from a friend in Norway yesterday, Unni Berg Hanson. She and her friend Beate stayed with us a few years back and we had a great time together. Unni follows the blog from Norway and noticed the chance to get some Rolfsrud books from Suzann.

Here's part of her note:

Long time since you've heard from me. Everything is fine here and life is good. I have been reading and enjoying the Rolfsrud blog. So many nice pictures and comments.
It's so nice to see pictures of you and learn what you are up to. I remember with great pleasure our visit with you several years ago. Hopefully Beate and I will be able to repeat our journey some time, and see you again.
I hope you are all in good health and are not freezing too much. We have had a nice Christmas weather with around 0 degrees C and sunny with little wind. No snow now, but we had a few centimeters last month with icy roads and cold winds.


Unni and Beate do very well with their English, so in recognition of that we offer the following tribute to them, "I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve," sung by Rev. Ron Letnes and the renowned Rolfsrud Family Singers at our recent holiday party. Our Norwegian is horrible, but our hearts are pure. One minute, 20 seconds. No alcohol involved.

Over the new I-35 Bridge we go. . .

Oh what fun it was to drive to Linda and Ron's house last night!

The Blaine couple feted a fine bunch of family for a post-Christmas buffet. Lots of fun and laughs, we got to see Becky Jerdee's decorating touches, Anja was there with her four grandparents, but not her Mom and Dad -- Erik and Shana had an event elsewhere.

Paul and Ron got the guitars out later in the evening and after some smashing versions of Away in a Manger, Silent Night and Ja Er So Glaa, and so on the group was treated to Ron's imitation of Bob Dylan singing "Oh the Times, They are a'Changin" which he explained Dylan had sung recently in honor of the new president.

Ron's rendition was Dylanesque and nasal, but also sort of country-western, causing one wag to cruelly observe: "I didn't know Bob Dylan ever sang on Hee Haw."
Production has begun on movies of the song, a sure YouTube viral clip.

The rowdy crowd dispersed early into the cold dark night. The Californian, still fighting a cold after her week with Mom, needed an escort down I-35 for her night in Shakopee with Stan and Kathleen.

Steve and Nancy shared in the retelling of the excitement later on: We had a two-hour Skype conversation with them before finally calling it quits. Today Sosie see her classmates at noon then flies out on the Redeye after her exciting Holiday week in Minnesota.

The rest of the family? Becky J. and Al are with their family in Florida; Virgil and Becky Lynn are driving to an undisclosed location in a warmer climate.
Photos: From top: Briggs, family unit, Stevie, Ron, Paul and Anja, Marilyn. See more party photos by clicking on this link:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Spa-meister checked out

We're getting ready to head south next week. On the list of things to do was training neighbor Tom on the fine art of spa water management.

Tom can do taxes. We figured he can probably handle spa chemistry. We were right. Tom earned his spa doctorate today after demonstrating proficiency at dumping chemicals, lifting lids and running water pumps.

Tom and Sandy head to Cozumel next week, but they'll be back in time to take over spa duties and hopefully enjoy a few starlit evenings in it before we return from Tucson.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dave Underwood inspects sailboat

Table neighbors at the upscale Crow's Nest restaurant in Florida exchanged Christmas greetings and favors last night. Then our family members got a tour of a sailboat docked outside. That's Dave Underwood (sister Becky's son-in-law), a master machinist in his own right, looking over the fittings. See all the details of this nautical adventure on the Jerdee blog, linked at left.

After-Christmas sale ends Jan.1

Here's your chance to get an Erling N. Rolfsrud limited edition paperback at rock-bottom prices. By special arrangement with Norwegian Lutheran book dealer Suzann Nelson, the exclusive distributor of 10 soon-to-be-out-of-print Rolfsrud book titles, you can easily own any of these heartwarming, well-written classics.
Just visit her web site at to see what is still available in Suzann's book shed in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. She's the original Church Basement Lady turned playwright turned entrepreneur.
While many Rolfsrud books are out of print, there are a few still available: Gopher Tales for Papa, Notable North Dakotans, Boy From Johnny Butte, Cutbank Girl, Petticoat Pioneer, Stone Johnny School, Girl of the Tumbleweeds, and others.
Just click on the link (above -- or in the margin below) and look for "Novels and Stories," and soon you'll find delightful descriptions of each book.
But wait, there's more:
If you act now, you can enjoy and display any of these books in your home for the low, low price of $7, plus shipping. Don't delay, Suzann is standing by in her shed way up north in Judy Garland's frozen hometown, but she can't wait on you forever. She's got jello to chill for the church supper.
This is most certainly true.

(Photo) Bible Camp veteran and Confirmed Lutheran Suzann Nelson is ready to take your order.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Here's our Christmas Day photos

Christmas 2008. Virgil reports that Sosie made it okay to Alexandria. We haven't heard from her yet, but we assume she's fine and with mom. We had the family here today, asll the pictures are posted on Google, the good, the bad and not so good. You can click on the link below to see the gorgeous results, among them are more photos of our grandson Maxwell (below) figuring out his homemade college-level jigsaw puzzle with the kind assistance, of course, of his cousin, Emily.

Christmas in Tucson: a report

Stan, attached are some Christmas Day pictures from Tucson. That's snow up in the mountains and it doesn't look like good golf weather today down here in the valley, so it's off to the movies: Valkyrie is the choice.
Christmas Eve day was perfect--sunny, 60's, no wind. Played golf at The Preserve with virtually no one else there to slow us down so played eighteen holes in 3 hours and 15 minutes. My golfing partner, who is from California and summers in the New Mexico mountains, and has played at Pebble Beach, The Broadmoor and Mirabel in Scottsdale, said The Preserve is the best of the lot when it comes to the surrounding scenery.
Then it was off to Christmas Eve services at the Mountain Shadows Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterians gave it their best on the Christmas Carols but they are no Lutherans.
Nancy is now reading her fifth book since arriving. I am on the fifth CHAPTER of my FIRST book. We know who the valedictorian is in the group.
Merry Christmas to all.

Joey, 2 and a half, loves Santa

Santa banged on the door, yelled Merry Christmas, and little Joey was off like a shot, running to hug the jolly elf. Hard to know the reaction, our neighbor's grandson was loving it. Below is the group shot, one of hundreds being made, now that everyone, including the two mothers present, are armed digitally. These photos were emailed to us by Grandma Story this afternoon. Her thank you cranberry bread loaf was delivered personally. Please note Mrs. Claus in the background of both shots. Her hair came out really nice this year.

Santa drops Sosie in Mpls

Sosie hooked a ride with Santa last night. She's here from California and now on her way up to Alexandria to celebrate Christmas with Mom at Clearwater. No word on a chimney entry. Welcome to the Northland, Sosie!
We'll see if we can't warm it up a bit for you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Click to enlarge old photos of Emily's first time with Santa, 2006. Tomorrow we'll see our big girl's reaction again. Tonight Santa makes rounds at the neighbors: Andrew and Jane have been good but are total Santa skeptics, and Michael and Ella are on the cusp, but Joey and his new brother are true believers. Joey is being potty-trained right now, so his grandpa asked Santa to mention something encouraging on that subject during the pre-gift praise period.
Tomorrow night is the big event hosted at Hai Dang's in Prior Lake, where his extended Vietnamese family insists on gathering to celebrate Christmas because it is the only home that Santa consistently finds. This will be the 10th year at Hai's. (One year they foolishly gathered out of range in Eagan and Santa was a no-show.) Mrs. Claus joins Santa in the mandatory dance-athon. Special music has already been programmed by the teenage music director. So Santa rocks. . . and sweats in his beard.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The furnace man cometh. . .

He ain't Joe the Plumber, but this veteran furnace man was most welcome this afternoon. The furnace has been fritzing intermittently so we wanted to be sure it could be trusted on its own for a while. A couple of new parts should do the trick, though we wonder why an eight-year-old furnace gets so cranky.
Seems like everything has been falling apart lately: the doorbell quit ringing, the GFI for the Christmas lights crapped out, the toilet wouldn't stop running, the garage doors keep reversing, the towel rack won't stay up and the volume control on the movie editor has a bug... now we don't really dare start the car to head south for fear it will blow up.

Guess the furnace isn't the only thing that's cranky around here.

Amazing! We see Steve, Nancy in Tucson

There he was. Scratching his tousled hair, padding around in his flip-flops, wearing his flannel house pants.
"Hello. Hello, Stan," he said, looking into the camera.
I was momentarily astounded. Blown away.
Yesterday, my brother Steve told me to download some free software from a U.K. company called Skype. He said he was using it to communicate with his family in Minnesota and it worked well for long conversations. This I did. I already have a microphone and some speakers on my PC in the basement office.
I had talked to Steve at regular long distance rates on a conventional landline telephone yesterday to see how things were going in Tucson. The weather is great -- rain today -- and he's getting his rounds in.
He said he'd call me today on the new internet connection. Sure enough, this morning when I opened my computer, a record of some failed calls he had attempted were in my Skype inbox. I double-clicked on a phone icon on the Skype software, heard some pings and pongs, then deus ex machina, there was my little brother on screen, talking to me.

All of this is free.

Stunned, I yelled for Kathleen, as though fearing the video image would vanish in smoke in a moment and she'd never believe me. "Come here, you gotta see this," I yelled up the stairs.
She came down and before you know it, we were chatting with Steve and Nancy as though they were in our living room. The picture was clear and the sound was remarkably sharp, with the occasional interruptions and echos similar to what we commonly hear on cellphones.
We talked for 49 minutes and 21 seconds, according to the running log, covered all the topics and then said goodbye, still shaking our heads at the simplicity of this miraculous, no-cost feat. Next stop, Best Buy for a dedicated mini-camera so we can hold up our end of the conversation. . . and then, so we look our best, some new pajamas.
Got Skype? My number is Stan.Rolfsrud
(Photos by Katie: Top photo, Steve, Zap and Nancy)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Iowa escapees make it to Florida

Becky Rolfsrud Jerdee's grandsons joined her for holiday fun in Venice, Fla. Check out the blog, below left.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yes. We remember when it was warm once

As we shiver through sub-zero nights, wondering if it is possible for cabin fever to strike before Christmas, we fondly dream of winters past, like this one in 1990, when stalwart Hawaiians gently cared for Kathleen while Stan tanned on the beach. Tomorrow: more snow with a high of 5 degrees. Aloha.

Inspiration elephant

Emily is getting old enough now to give up her day crib to the next Rolfsrud infant. Goodbye ol' crib, enter Emily's elephant bed. We'll disassemble the traditional baby setup as soon as the new owner gets here to take his crib notes on how to reassemble the complicated device, complete with spring-loaded drop front.

In the meantime, we're dreaming up a suitable new napping station for our big Wednesday girl.

Kathleen loves elephants. She has a shelf-full of carved African and Indian bulls, cows and youngsters. Never misses an elephant special on PBS. So elephant appreciation seems just the thing to instill in a granddaughter. Emily's present bedding has tiny elephants designed into it to go with a matching, stuffed huggable. We're retaining that, of course, along with the mattress, to use on our new, big girl bed. (Click on the 2-year-old photo, above, to see the pattern and the stuffed elephant.)

But there's a big distinction to note here. There are to be no cartoony elephants. No Dumbos. No, just the more realistic-looking, teachable models, thank you. So a search has begun for a realistic model to pose for Emily's Elephant Bed. We display a finalist above.

Can you imagine the hump of the elephant's back as a big rounded headboard? And a smaller, companion elephant at the foot? We'll present the ultimate design after Santa's workshop has been cleared of Christmas mice and elves.
Emily after a nap, one year ago, wet and ready for a change. Now she needs a big girl bed.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And Scandinavian almond cake

Milking his retirement week for all it's worth, Stan enjoyed a Christmas dinner at his long-time associate's beautiful townhome in Prior Lake last nght. Laurie spent over 30 years in Stan's newspaper organization in a variety of roles. She's been with Stan so long, her first job title was actually "Girl Friday." Now that's a while ago. Today she is publisher of three of our newspapers, and manages the classified and business offices. She's a talented problem-solver, makes a fabulous Waldorf salad and boat of gravy, and has tickets to the Obama inaguration. Though Stan has left the newspaper organization, Laurie will continue to be a good friend and an important part of Stan and Kathleen's lives for years to come.
(Photo by Katie. . . who also makes a very nice dessert)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Happenings in Richfield

Pulled barbeque pork sandwiches heaped with crispy onion strings and accompanied by a tasty cole slaw and the house chips were featured at yesterday's "Ladies Who Lunch" Christmas event at Champps' in Richfield.

Kathleen and M'Liss spent four and a half hours going over holiday preparations, favorite Texas Hold 'em hands and miscellaneous family affairs including the usual old business: Chuck and Stan.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Translation, please. . .

As you know, we recently posted a clip on YouTube featuring our mother, Beverly Brown Rolfsrud, singing Bach's My Heart Ever Faithful.
It has received about 1,500 visits so far from people interested in hearing this favorite in sacred classic.
Today a foreign visitor left a comment, I believe it was someone listening to Mom, perhaps in France. Don't speak French. Do you? If you do, please translate the passage below. I know it involves something beautiful, because Belle Plaine, Minnesota means "beautiful plain." I also know "Bravo" but that's all I've got. Here's the posting:
"Quelle belle voix dans cet air de cantate de Bach BWV 68 et quel merveilleux album de famille. C'est un bel hommage de sa famille à Beverly Brown Rolfsud. Bravo"
Virg writes:
J'etude francais deus annui en ecole. I haven't forgotten much of what I learned in French class. I just didn't learn enough to forget. Most of the words in that statement are what they look like in English.
"Quelle (what) belle (beautiful) voix (voice) dans ? cet ? air (air, in the musical way) de (of) cantate (cantata) de (of,to) Bach BWV 68 et (and) quel (another form of what) merveilleux (marvellous?) album (album) de (to) famille (family). C'est (It's) un (a) bel (short of beautiful, maybe "nice") hommage (homage) de (to) sa (the) famille (family) à (of) Beverly Brown Rolfsud. Bravo"
For what it's worth. Je ne compra 'pa francais tres bien.

A Christmas Wreath for Cousin Don

Our cousin, Joyce Brown Schulte, Mom's niece, writes from her home near Milwaukee, where she lives with her husband, George.

Joyce writes:
We were so glad to see your Mom looking so much better in your blog pictures. Did she tell you we visited her on Sept. 22? George and I drove from Milwaukee to see her as well as my cousin in Benson, Minn.

Stan says:
Joyce's brother (my cousin), Don Brown, died last January. His obituary is posted on this blog, use the search key "Don Brown" in the search box to find it. Among many other things, Don was an enthusiastic Boy Scout leader, as is his son, Marty. An annual scout activity is the laying of Christmas wreaths in Arlington Cemetery, where Marty and his boys have for years joined other Americans in this relatively new holiday tradition.
This week, Don's grandsons laid a wreath on Col. Don Brown's grave site at Arlington, in memory of this inspirational figure.

Joyce continues:
The tradition of placing Christmas wreaths at Arlington began in 1992 when a man in Maine donated 5000 wreaths to be placed next to the headstones. For some years, Don Brown’s son, Marty, and his wife, Kellie, accompanied the Boy Scouts of Smithburg, MD to Arlington National Cemetery to place Christmas wreaths.

Among the Scouts this Dec. 13 were Alex and Conner Brown, who placed a wreath on Don Paul Brown’s headstone. The boys are grandsons of Don Brown. Don’s father was Ralph Brown, brother of Beverly Brown Rolfsrud.
Don retired from a position at Fort Derrick, Frederick, Md. and he and his wife, Gladys, built a house in Smithsburg. Here Don generously gave his time and energy to the Boy Scouts. He was a troop leader and mentor for many boys, especially his grandsons, Alex, Conner and Harrison.

(This photo was taken in 2001 with Don, Conner and Alex.)

Alex received his Eagle Scout award two days after his grandfather died. Don was very proud of "his Scouts."

Don died Jan. 31 in Hagerstown, MD. Don served in the Army and spent one year in Vietnam. He also served in France, Germany, and various posts in the United States. Don's sons, Mike and Marty, were born in France.
Don’s cremains were interred in Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 2008. About 40 family members, relatives and friends gathered at Arlington for the ceremony. A solemn procession traveled from the “Old Chapel” to the gravesite. Included in the procession was an escort platoon and a military band, followed by the horse-drawn caisson and riderless horse.

The ceremonies included music, taps, drum roll, gun volley and the folding of the flag. It was all very impressive and moving.

Joyce Brown Schulte

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Alex

Alex Rolfsrud is 19 today!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Step Seven: Prepare Carrying Case

A first class college level jigsaw puzzle requires a matching carrying case, fit for away games. Case sides will match puzzle pattern.

Used Christmas, 1989

Here's your Greeting Card from us. It's Missy singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in 1989. We were celebrating "Used Christmas." Names had been drawn and everyone had been told to wrap and bring a favorite used item to pass on to another extended family member. This particular regimen was preferred over "Cut-throat Christmas" which had been attempted previously with mixed results. Sharp-eyed viewers will see a toddling Breck and Briggs, Virg opening a gift of pants for his infant son (Alex is in college now), Mom and Dad yucking it up, Adam, Amy, Becky and Al, the girls, Daisy and much, much more. And all in 60 seconds. Use the pause button to freeze a frame you like. And have a Merry Little Christmas.

Step Six: Sand edges, paint, poly

This step takes longer than you think. There are now a ton of new surfaces on the piece edges that need finishing. Patience.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Yesterday we quoted (below) the weather service saying that the Hi today in Shakopee would be 5 degrees with a low of -10. Today the weather service has changed to say the high today will be zero with a low of -17.
Does it matter?

Happy Birthday Sosie!

She's heading our way on Christmas Day from sunny California. Brother Virg, who returned to a frozen North from Florida just a week ago, has already enviously applauded Sosie for her timing, deftly avoiding the plunging thermometer.

He's assuming, of course, that Minnesota can't deal a double whammy.

We'll see.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Minnesotan asks. . .

Would Climate Change Be So Bad?
A press release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said last week that the moose population here has all but disappeared. Moose have no natural air conditioning and Minnesota has simply become too warm.

Too Warm? Really! Well, sir, we have a bulletin that ought to freeze Bullwinkle in his big, muddy tracks:

Forecast for Shakopee, Minnesota: Monday, Hi: 5°, Lo: -10°; Tuesday, Hi: 10°, Lo: -5°; Wednesday, Hi: 15°, Lo: 0°; Thursday, Hi: 20°, Lo: 7°; Friday, Hi: 20°, Lo: 2°; Saturday, Hi: 10°, Lo: --° (apparently even the weather bureau doesn't dare mention Saturday's low).

There's obviously still some work to be done here.
It is high time for a declaration that climate change could, in fact, be good for somebody, particularly when operating under the prevailing philosophy, "I have my pile, now get your own" and "What's good for me is what's good for the country."

The good news is that today our Muslim friends are loading tankers with billions in subsidized oil and, deterred only by the occasional African pirate, are rushing them to our desperate shores in hopes of nipping this T. Boone Pickens idea of energy independence and green industry in the bud. Furthermore, you can now buy one SUV and get the second one for free. The Holiday is offering low-tax gas for a dollar and change and if you buy groceries at Cub you can get another six cents off that.
What more do you need, friends? Let's get with the program.

I am sorry about the moose and the polar bear and the rich folks with ocean-front homes, but I am cold today, and I have property to defend in Minnesota.

So let's pump, baby, pump. Climate change can't be so bad.

Sunday blizzard in Alex

Tom Obert writes from Lake Darling in Alexandria:

It is early Sunday morning and it has just begun. Ruthie wanted to get a jump on it - we haven't received much snow yet. As late as yesterday afternoon, our snowfall amounts were predicted to be 2 - 4". Then this morning they placed us in the 12 - 18" range!
So, while Ruthie challenged the elements, I headed out in the big Expedition to go a mile and a half down the road to the convenience store to re-stock the necessities in case we get socked in for a while.
I would have been more comfortable going by dogsled.
Interstates 29 and 94 are already closed in the Dakotas - I'm sure 94 will be closed in Alexandria soon. Shoveling out will not be fun - the temperature is predicted to stay below ZERO until Thursday.
"Snug in Shakopee" writes:
Upon reading Tom's news about what is coming our way down I-94, the retiree casually noted to his wife, over bacon and eggs and hot coffee this morning, that flights on Sun Country airlines are now $135, one-way to Tucson.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Step Five: Saw into pieces

(This is going to be a really hard puzzle. It even flummoxed Santa a bit while he reassembled the first few pieces for this picture. Already hard to tell which is right side up since both sides have paint and art on them. Also, the thick wood is tough going making curves. Note scorched spots in tight turns. They'll be sanded and painted and finished later so as to not needlessly give any clues to sharp-eyed assemblers.)

Last night's meeting. . .

This is not a gathering of orphaned boys requesting annual favors from Santa Claus. This is actually the Greater Scotland Study Group, at a meeting last night at Standup Stan's, learning about the topographical elements involved in the negotiation of certain overseas real estate land assemblages, including some ocean-front property in the village of St. Andrews, just across the water from Norway.
Prof. Dan Martin, seated, lectured the group at length, before it adjourned to take full advantage of the available resources, up to and including Stan's prized bottle of Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2003, which Stan had set aside, hoping to share with his patient wife on a special day.
Some small-world discoveries: Curt, in the lower right hand corner, has a 15-year-old in the Shakopee school tennis program, coached by Stan's nephew, Ford. The young man in the upper right hand corner, Tim, now a PGA pro, was a school chum of Stan's nephew, Aaron (Double A), at Eden Prairie.
The ad hoc group heads to Scotland March 8 and returns March 22. It includes a butcher, a bartender, a baker, a retired publisher, and sundry others. No candlestick maker.
(Photo by Katie)