Thursday, December 31, 2009

Here's comfort from our childhood

Forty years ago our family made many a hot dish in this yellow bowl. Among the favorites was a tuna, pea, mushroom soup, potato chip mash-up that always went down smooth, filling and heavy. A complete file of Mom's recipes are now available for nostalgic menu planning at the Rolfsrud Repository in Stan and Kathleen's basement. The oven-safe bowl, with its seasoned interior sure to impart a comforting essence, is available as well. The bowl was originally scheduled to fly with Sosie and Bill to California tonight. However, Bill also had a batch of Jacobson's lefse from Osakis to process through heightened airport security, so he didn't want to add another suspicious item to his manifest. And recalling that all passengers' shoes had to be inspected after the Shoe Bomber arrest, always-prepared Bill wore his most stylish, freshly-ironed underwear to the airport tonight.
Tuna and Potato Chip Casserole
1/2 pound potato chips
1 seven-ounce can tuna
1 small can of peas
1 can of mushroom soup
1 cup hot milk
Put alternate layers of potato chips, tuna and peas in a buttered baking dish. Add milk to soup and pour over ingredients in casserole. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serves 6.

Dad's tip, written in his handwriting on the back of the recipe card:
Instead of layering, just mix all together. Mix cream of mushroom with milk and then pour over. Put extra potato chips on top.

Family archivist for a day. . .

Sosie spent last night and today combing through boxes in the capacious Rolfsrud Relics Repository in Stan and Kathleen's basement. Mom and Dad were enthusiastic savers and virtually every aspect of their modest lives is documented on paper. Grade school projects from 1917 are mingled with birthday cards to "Daddy" written by his children. Every neatly-typed letter ever written to family members is duplicated in a three-ring binder. Every newspaper clipping with the word "Rolfsrud" somewhere in it has been clipped and pasted. Sosie skimmed the surface of this treasure today, often exclaiming, "I didn't know that!" or "Look at this!" or "You've got to be kidding." Needless to say, progress in categorizing, organizing and compacting this trove for posterity is slow going. Others will take their turns at the arduous task if this work is every to be done.
Sosie has unearthed a clue as to the origin of the now famous homemade Rolfsrud Coat of Arms discussed in an August 2009 post on this blog (you can look it up at left -- read the snarky comment from some outlander as well). Today Sosie discovered an envelope in Dad's handwriting that says "Patterns for Heide Coat-of-Arms" which would lead a sharp detective to conclude that the Coat of Arms in question is not a Rolfsrud Coat of Arms at all, but rather a Heide Coat of Arms honoring our father's maternal lineage. You betcha.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An Emily Dog Pile

It's Wednesday morning at Grandma and Grandpa's and there's more playmates than ever. Here's a post-breakfast moment with Bill and Sosie enjoying Duck, Emily and Birdie. Bill and Sosie are in town for the holidays and just spent a few days in Alexandria with Sosie's mother, Beverly. This noon Sosie and Stan will head to the Sofitel in Bloomington to lunch with classmates at an annual holiday get-together. Sosie and Bill will return to California on New Year's Eve.

Old friends, good times

When Venus and Mars align in the night skies it is cause for joy and pagan celebrations. So too, when Stan's old pal Randy flies in from LA for the Christmas holidays, and friend Bruce motors in from South Dakota for a dental appointment, well, it's time for this Minnesota posse to reunite. They did so last night at the Cooper in St. Louis Park. The name of this new Irish Pub is taken from the old Cooper theater that was built nearby to showcase the wonders of Cinerama technology -- a forerunner to the IMAX concept of overwhelming visual effect. The theater was torn down and replaced by a major development that capitalizes on traffic generated by the intersection of I-394 and Highway 100. All that remains of the movie house is the name on this bar and lots of nostalgia. The fellas enjoyed a couple rounds of Smithwicke's in the packed joint, then light dinner fare. Stan left the gathering long before closing to join his sister in Shakopee, but the laughter of old friends rang in his ears all the way home.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Living the Life in the Frozen North

Sosie and Bill send this message from Sosie's Iphone in Alexandria where windchills are heading to subzero again. There's still stuff to do if you look around:
"We are staying at the Cedar Rose Inn just down 7th Ave from old Central Junior High.  It comes with all the comforts, like a woodstove, sherry, and dressup clothes in the Alma Anderson room."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Walleye's Comin'

Sosie and Virg wait for dinner with their Mom at Rudy's in Alexandria today. This is all part of the extended Christmas celebration and visit by Sosie and Bill to America's Vacationland . . . and Birthplace. Virg joined the California pair for the day, motoring up from his EP digs. Photo above by Bill, who is also Mom's official driver. Image sent via Sosie's Iphone. You know, she's getting pretty handy with that little thing. Should make for good future trip reportage as well. Below, Bill jumps into the picture as Sosie does the honors, apparently just calibrating a test shot, so smiles were not required. By the general look of things, the Rolfsrud /Shearer table reservation at Rudy's held up. We like to think that, owing to Mom's celebrity and local prominence, they were able to snare the special table by the fireplace.

Amy, Blake and Hunter Underwood enjoying the Florida coast at Grandma and Grandpa's for Christmas. Details on blog, left.

Friday, December 25, 2009

All good on Christmas Night!

Late word from Sosie and Bill, who flew in Christmas Eve with Santa from California into snowy Minnesota: Despite all the dire predictions we made it to Alexandria and enjoyed a dinner with Mom and are now safe in our motel.

From Arizona come these photographs of Nancy, Steve, Ford and Jenn -- and Kaia's first visit.
The photo on top was taken by Jenn to convince her Georgia brother, Chris, that there really are mountains in Tucson. (Santa Claus too) At right is Kaia's great grandmother, Virginia Murman with grandfather Trent Murman.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mrs. Claus goes down, but not out

Despite Santa's best efforts to clear the walk, Mrs. Claus went down twice this evening, but to no bad result. The couple was out and about tonight, visiting four neighborhood homes. They found absolutely darling and believing grandchildren in each one.
"I am going home right now and going to bed, Santa," confided one little heart-tugger about six years old. "And YOU know why!"

Mrs. Claus just sort of hangs in the background. She gets little notice from any of the kids. It's all about Santa, you know. She does get asked by Moms and Dads to join the photo sessions, consequently she'll be seen in dozens of family scrapbooks for decades to come. You'll be able to recognize her too, in her rosy makeup and wig. Santa, on the other hand, is pretty generic, but my, what a reputation precedes him! Instant acceptance and familiarity the moment he flings the door open, stomps the snow off his fur-lined boots and shakes the jingle bells.
Yes, Santa is trimmer this year and a bit lighter afoot. He compensated for this failing with an extra pillow after finishing his shoveling duties.
The night air was wonderful, fresh and light. The lightly falling snow made everything new and when the visits were done tonight, Mrs. Claus wanted to extend the magic a bit with a stroll down the block.
"Let's go for a waaaaaalk!" she said, immediately sliding down in a green and white heap on the driveway for the second time today. Again, the soft snow cushioned her short fall, as did her light-hearted spirit. We laughed together as Santa pulled her up again, all cape, wig, bells and giggles.
She's been checked out and pronounced good to go -- tomorrow noon at Marcy's where she'll be the real Mrs. Claus.

Merry Christmas from Abbey Point

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Do it yourself, by Emily

My Mom loves long hair. Long hair is nice, but sometimes it gets in a girl's way. So this week I took a pair of scissors and, while Mom was on the phone, I gave myself a little trim.
I put the extra hair in the wastebasket, but Mom noticed right away.
How do you like my new hair do?
Grandpa Stan thinks it is just great and he took these pictures. Do you think he takes too many pictures of me? Sometimes I do.
Bye for now, we're going to play with Grandma's Village. Grandpa says I need adult supervision because last time the horse broke itself or something.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Golden State Christmas decorating idea

Stan's sister Sosie continues to amaze our readers, today with a Christmas decorating tip, worthy of a Californian making due at Christmas with no snow. She'll get plenty of snow when she arrives in Minnesota in the midst of a 40 percent chance of a blizzard disaster on Christmas Day, but until then she's basking in the warmth of a front stoop surrounded by painted nature. We'll let her explain this one:

Here's my tip for easy instant Christmas glam:  a can of gold spray paint.  Of gold, incense, and myrhh, gold is the fastest, cheapest, and clearest statement of Christmas cheer.  You can spray baskets, old and tired ornaments, the plastic pot containing your poinsetia, pine cones, dried pomegranates, leaves, seed heads, or anything else destined to decorate your wreaths or packages.

My favorite is the seed head of the agapanthus plant (aka Lily of the Nile) after the seeds have fallen away, as it looks like a magic wand.  No need to cut the stalks off the plant, as shown in this picture.  This way, you don't even need to arrange the wands as they remain displayed by the plant. Just be sure to throw a cover over the green leaves to protect them while you spray.  Note: The gold paint holds well through rain, but has not been tested in tundra temperatures.

A letter from Minnesota

Dear Steve and Nancy,
I am writing to congratulate you on a brilliant escape. Today's Strib headlines gleefully report the possibility of two feet of snow here on or about Christmas Day. Of course, as usual, they have no idea of what will actually occur, but this prediction will be enough to amp up the traffic and intensity. This specter of frozen isolation will not only strip grocery shelves, but increase the desperation of the Christmas hunting and gathering hordes navigating rutted parking lots.
And there you are on a golf course in Arizona. We now understand the genesis of the term "green with envy."
You're on a roll: you skip a nasty Minnesota October and now you do this. Wow. Consider a brief visit to that casino south of Tucson.
Your sister Sosie has no such luck. And now she's dragging dear Bill into it. Last year's post-Christmas snowstorm marooned Sosie in the Bloomington IKEA, awaiting her return flight to California. It was February before she got her toothbrush back. This year they're scheduled to arrive in Minnesota on Christmas Day, just in time to slip and slide into the pages of history, as part of an all-time record for misery. Florida Virg will host their arrival at his Eden Prairie ice castle. He may be the cheerful one. This is going to look to Sosie and Bill like payback for the blistering heat we got attending their son's wedding last summer.
Meanwhile, our sister Linda is working more logistical issues than an MSP air traffic controller, as she re-plots a Christmas Day driving schedule to include stops to see our mother in Alexandria, her grandchildren in Blaine and the Lutherans of Windom. She will be accompanied in this heroic endeavor by her warrior son. We advise warm blankets, raisins, chocolate bars and a candle.

For our part, we usually stay home and let Christmas come to us. But not this year. For the first Christmas in thirty, we plan an away family gathering -- at Marcy's in Minneapolis, conveniently located mere blocks from the snow-emergency impound lot. It's been the buzz for weeks now, as Marcy shoulders her mother's burden, feverishly preparing for up to a dozen yuletide merry-makers. Yesterday Kathleen delivered a supply of steel folding chairs. That exercise may turn out to be easier than delivering ourselves on the Big Day.
So enjoy your sun-kissed holiday, little brother and sweet sister-in-law. You deserve it.
Here's hoping that your family Christmas guests can break out of town to join you.

(Images courtesy Teli -Keptik)

Monday, December 21, 2009

A wise man bearing gifts

Family friend and co-worker Hai Dang stopped by the house this afternoon to deliver the annual holiday batch of home made egg rolls. His sweet wife, Thuy, (twee) loves to feed family and friends, particularly around Christmas. Hai explained to her that Stan is presently dieting (someday Stan hopes to look like Hai), so this year Thuy cut the serving back to a single layer. MMM. Still warm, meaty, crispy and perfectly sweet and sour. The trimmings are leaves of basil and cilantro with a hand-cut rose formed from tomato skin. Wow. This may be the first time in his life that anyone has made a rose just for Stan from a tomato. Very touching.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

All of the other reindeer, used to. . .

Memories are dim as to exactly when Virg gave this gorgeous hand knit sweater to Stan. Virg was operating his woolen goods company at the time and consequently everyone was gradually gaining a fine collection of winter wool wear. (See photo at right -- ski caps, contracted to the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, with the trademarked Olympic logo boldly knit into the pattern, were under the Christmas tree one year.) We still hang out our custom-made monogrammed chimney stockings.
The wool sweater gift came so many Christmases ago that Stan could still comfortably wear a size Large. Then each year Stan began to look more and more like an XXL Department Store Santa and the sweater got quietly folded away into The Drawer to Ignore.
Now, due to Stan's recent resizing, the sweater has shaken off the mothballs and last night joyfully attended a Christmas party, elicting a short, polite inquiry as well as some wry comments about Stan's distinctive vintage wear.
Ja, they were just jealous of the finery. We just take a lesson from Rudolph. (... the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.) Do you know what Santa would have to pay for an all-wool handmade sweater at an Aspen ski shoppe today?

Doing it like Santa

A little dancing Santa doll with a merry attitude provided some seasonal inspiration last night at Dave, Nancy and Talia's annual Christmas party. Stan and Kathleen were joined by Shel, Kristi and Lauren for some Christmas hors de ouvres and a few hours of non-stop laughter and fun.

The dancing session was brief, right after the group photos session, but Mr. Claus was so cute the ladies (and Dave) just couldn't help but join in, pumping their arms up and down like robotic puppets to the sounds of Santa Claus is Coming to Town or something like that.

 To see all the photos from last night, including Stan's nifty Christmas sweater, click here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow follows Storys

Our neighbors left Minnesota to spend time with friends in Alexandria, Virginia. It looks like Alexandria, Minnesota, judging by this photo sent by Sandy Story. Here's her email:

Is this Alexandria, Minnesota?
It's Alexandria, Virginia.
We came out here to help celebrate an old friend's birthday, also hoping to find a more moderate climate for a few days this season and look what we found.
The Washington DC area is expecting 1.5 to 2 feet of snow today.  We'll have to tough it out here at the hotel. 
At least the bartender made it to work.
See you Monday, if this place gets dug out.
Tom & Sandy


Stan and Kathleen's grandson, Maxwell Tong, with his cousins. Ryan Tong, Sienna Cohen, Max, and Jade Cohen.  Photo sent by Max's mom, Marcelline. Have you ever seen so many perfect teeth all at once?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Inspector Leno

Our Tucson neighbor, Leno Masolini, is always ready to help. So when Steve took these pictures of the new tile job in the Rock Crest house this morning, Leno was there to help bring out the details of the new master bath tile job. Thanks, Leno and Steve for making sure we'd get this good look. Our blog friends wondered if we ever finished what we started in November. By the way, Steve, we know about Leno's creaky rotator cuff, but up until now we always thought his vision is just fine. But hey, if he needs a cheater to help him to see what he's doing, well, whatever it takes.

Sosie's "Aha! Moment" revealed

In the midst of her painful recovery from recent foot surgery, Stan's sister Sosie has spent a great deal of time with her foot elevated. This has apparently forced more than the usual amount of blood to her head, causing her to think great thoughts and ponder the true meaning and purpose of even the simplest objects of her world.
Sosie and her sweet husband, Wm. O., enjoy a bottle from the neighborhood vineyard from time to time. These experienced grape enthusiasts know that white wines usually taste best in a lightly-chilled condition. For this reason, they keep a cylindrical device known as a "wine collar" at the ready, frozen in their deep freeze. When called upon, it slips neatly over an opened bottle, efficiently holding the product in its ideal state and at the ready, thereby avoiding any bothersome trips to the fridge and consequent waste of valuable time set aside for drinking.

This week, as Sosie contemplated a throbbing right foot badly in need of icing, she could have gone the conventional route and just grabbed a bag of frozen baby peas and balanced it on top of the ache. But with all that extra blood in her head, she was able to think clearly through the pain: "Aha! My wine collar!," she said in a moment of pure inspiration. "It will not only chill my aching foot, but it will stay in place while doing so."
And so, my friends, the rest is history.

Here, at right, is a pictorial study of the evolution of this Great Moment,  which at last frees her hands to do as she wills . . . read a book, brush her hair, squeeze Wm.'s hand, and, we surely hope, lift a glass of chilled white in a toast to her ingenuity.

(Oh yes. Sosie sends along an additional tip. If you have a big foot. . . or a big owie, try a champagne chiller collar. It's just a smidge bigger.)

Kaia's first encounter

Got this photo today from Jenn and Ford. It was the best one. :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Alex!

May all your wishes come true!
Alex is Becky and Virg's youngest, today he's a 20-year-old at Mankato State University.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hey Steve, you get there yet?

Steve and Nancy headed southwest just as this latest cold snap was settling in. Should be there by now. No word yet. Hope they have internet in Tucson. They have sunsets. Stan took this one in Mac and Nancy's back yard last year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sosie!

Here's a big Birdie Kiss for the California girl who's been elevating her feet all week long. Recent foot surgery won't keep her down long, though. She's headed this way on Christmas Day to see her Mom and all the rellies in chilly Minnesota. This has been a big year for the Mother of the Groom. Want to see more pictures?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Who's cool at Clearwater?

What does a Happening Grandma wear on a Saturday morning around Clearwater these days? Well, jeans and a sweatshirt, of course. She's gonna be 90 but she's going like 60 these days. Here she is just relaxing in the little lounge in front of her home place. You Go Mom!

There she is below, far right, in a 55-year-old photo taken at her Lake Andrews home with her family. From left are Sosie, Becky, Linda, Steve (standing with Erling), Stan, and Virg in his mother's arms.

Christmas rush? Take a deep breath

If you're rushing around making preparations for Christmas, it is nice to know you're not alone. Here's an example of what can happen when you're trying really hard with your seasonal duties. My classmate Bev Roers Korkowski, (pictured on the right above, with my sister, Linda) sent me this note this morning. Funny. I remember Bev as always having her homework done early and correctly.

Hey, Stan:

I thought you might get a kick out of this….a senior moment???  Was having a heck of a time finding a picture of just me and Cliff for our Christmas card and the only one I could find was of us with a daughter and her family on a vacation up north.  
That of course meant we’d have to find pictures of our other two kids and their families, which I finally sort of patched together.  I looked it all over and thought it looks very good (for a last-minute idea!!)  Sent it off to Costco where I had 125 (!!) very nice cards made; looked at them in the store and yup, it looked fine.  
Then on Saturday, I sat down to start addressing envelopes and was looking at the card one more time before inserting it.  You can imagine my total horror when I realized one our grandsons was cut out of the picture…now, how do you explain that without sending a note along with the card and/or explain that to the 7 y/o who is very mature for his age?  “Grandma K made a very slight mistake….we love you, BUT”  
So, needless to say, 125 cards are going into the garbage and we’ll start over today.  Goodness, I think I need a very long rest. J  


Sunday, December 13, 2009

A warming at Milla's

It was supposed to be all about Mom and Dad's new house in Blaine last night, but six-month-old Milla managed her share of the attention anyway. Shana and Erik's open house drew throngs from the new neighborhood, as well as relatives and friends. There will be plenty of playmates, it appears, for Milla and her sister, Anja, in the new location -- just a short distance away from two sets of grandparents. Uncle Stan and Aunt Kathleen and Birdie were among the visitors enjoying the hospitality -- although excitable Birdie received an extended time-out in her kennel.

Mom's on tilt

Beverly (Stan's Mom) cheerfully demonstrated the controls on her new adjustable bed in her room in Alexandria. She's quite pleased with its features and has found the new accommodation quite restful. She's approaching her 90th birthday in May. Kathleen and Stan paid a pre-Christmas visit Saturday and found all in order for the upcoming holiday festivities. Seasonal decorations filled the hallways in anticipation of a special visit. We presume that to be Californians Sosie and Bill, who will again board the red eye express to spend Christmas Day with Mom. She's pumped.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Little Dickens

Emily got her first look at our Dickens Village this morning. She dove right in and started modifying the layout immediately. She's making up stories now about who lives where and what Mr. Fezziwig is doing next. This stuff isn't Fischer Price plastic, so more than one word of caution has been expressed this morning.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Virg and Becky's bunch

Holiday Greetings from Cherice, Lacey, Alex and Aaron.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

California snowfall

Stan's sister Sosie stepped out on her back patio in sunny Sunol, (east of Frisco) California yesterday while husband Bill snapped this photo. No bathers splashing in the bird bath today, it would seem. And Sosie. Have your forgotten how to act in winter? Put some socks on or something. Where are your overshoes? Meanwhile, in Minnesota, we got dumped with a half a foot of the stuff, blowing and drifting snow and subzero windchills on the way. The blizzard kept our granddaughter away until Friday. But that's no big deal, that's business as usual. This California thing, however. . .