Friday, January 30, 2009

Today's zoology report

He looked like a dominant male. His coat was shiny and smooth. Well-fed. We crossed paths this morning on Ridgeview. He looked directly at me as he pranced across the pavement. This triggered a quick jolt of "fight or flight" adrenalin in some primitive part of my cerebrum. But before I could look for a stick or try to run away (the latter is now actually an option, since I've lost twenty pounds), the coyote continued on, seeking a warm breakfast in the golf course rough. A tender bunny would be nice, perhaps, or a poodle, kitty-cat or unsuspecting Yorkie, out doing his morning duties.

(These photos are not mine, one is by "Marya," the other I don't know, but this is exactly what I saw.)

My first fleeting impression was of an off-leash German Shepherd, then of a wolf, because the animal was so large and healthy-looking. But it was a coyote, alright.
Meanwhile, it's Friday morning routines over on South Silverwood Drive, and sure enough, six bristly javelina crossed ahead of me on Ridgeview, trotting to the same location, at the same time I observed them last week. Friday has just got to be trash day in that neighborhood.

Homeward bound, I complimented a silver-haired lady, busily pruning her bushes again. I had seen her snipping away before. She lit up and waved me over with a leather-gloved hand to chat. This she did in an English accent, causing me to wonder aloud, "Why no English Tea Garden?" Charlotte just laughed and said that when she moved here 12 years ago, she planted roses everywhere, but had reluctantly given in to the javelinas.
Now she faithfully tends just native species, cloaked in natural defenses, all the while looking sharp for yet another rattlesnake under the leaves, ready to strike.

Those English are tough.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tom O' tools

Absolutely this trip there were to be no building projects undertaken in the Tucson house. This trip was strictly to be for golfing, playing and getting into shape for retirement. So this year, no tools were loaded into the Rendezvous.

That was before four floor tiles cracked and heaved upward in the mud room hallway.

Examination revealed that the bond between the thinset and the floor had failed and the pressure forced the tiles to pop up. We have five spare tiles in the garage, so mixing up some cement and grouting in four replacements should be a simple matter. Getting a workman to bid on such a small job would result in a high bid and the usual frustrations of working on Arizona time.

No, if we only had tools, we could get this little project done ourselves.

Good fortune came last night at a neighborhood salad and pizza party. Meet Tom from Long Island, New York, now living three doors down with his wife. He's a retired firefighter, who has accumulated a lifetime of miscellaneous expertise and the hand tools to go with it.

This morning he dropped by with the requisite floats, trowels, sponges, chisel (freshly sharpened), hammer and enough advice to get the job done.
Kathleen, who loves Manhattan, drew him into a nice conversation about all things New York. He understands that Midwesterners have trouble following the brisk, pushy speech patterns of New Yorkers, so we think he took it down a notch for us. Nice guy. His history is Brooklyn and Long Island more than Manhattan. He enjoys the famous street vendor "dirty water hot dogs" that get their unique flavor by being boiled all week in the same oily water. (We really didn't want to know why we enjoyed those hot dogs so much.)
We're grateful to have neighbors like this. Makes a nasty job on old knees a lot easier.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Surprise package from Red Wing, MN

A huge mysterious brown box appeared this afternoon in our Tucson garage, apparently dumped there by the UPS guy without fanfare or notice.
It came from Steve Messick, publisher of the Red Wing Republican Eagle and ramrod of the web plant where Stan's newspapers have been printed and processed for the past decade. Steve's a good fishing buddy and valued confidant. Turns out he's also more thoughtful and sweet than the crusty image he has carefully refined.

The package contained the original aluminum plate used to print one edition of Stan's retirement news story. Steve had remembered to rescue it from the recyle bin, then frame and ship it to Arizona, along with a cheerful, heartfelt greeting.

The gift took the new retiree off guard, as he stood in the garage, unable to speak for a moment; Kathleen was not surprised by the kindness, she's always thought of Steve as a class act.
(Here's a link to the text of the retirement story on the plaque, above.)


There was high excitement in the Tucson newsrooms last night. The lead story was the weather. Nothing was held back. The talking head earnestly warned anyone listening that cold weather was imminent. Looking every bit like St. Paul's Dave Dahl charting windchills with a worried brow, he solemnly predicted 24 degrees Fahrenheit.
More details would come later in the show, he assured startled citizens, but we had heard enough.

We sprang from our cozy bed, pulled on a night cap and rushed outdoors into Cafe del Solveig to rescue our tender petunias from certain ruination. In a nick of time we whisked them indoors, safe from the threatening night air.

We returned to bed, satisfied and confident that everything had been done to preserve life as we know it.

This morning we learned that Arizona weathermen are no different than Minnesota weathermen. They do have their difficulties.

The mercury fell last night, all right, but we failed to fall to a hard freeze. As we took our morning walk, we found ourselves to be overwarned, overdressed and overwrought.

The petunias are back in the warming sun. Tonight's lead news story? Road construction expected to delay traffic on Oracle Road.

Monday, January 26, 2009

First photos of Kaia Lynn

Top photo: Jenn, Kaia Lynn, and Ford Rolfsrud.
Bottom: Grandma and Grandpa (first time) Steve and Nancy Rolfsrud. Steve reports that Ford has diapered Kaia twice already and shows great technical skills. Congratulations all around. See other details in post below.

Ford and Jenn's baby came today!

Kaia Lynn Murman Rolfsrud appeared at 2:15 p.m. today, January 26 (which is exactly her due date), weighed in at 7 lbs. 15 oz. and stands 21" tall; scored fabulous double 9's on her Apgars, and now has a name: Kaia (Norwegian for "earth" -- rhymes with "Maya") Lynn (Jenn's middle name) Murman (Jenn's maiden name) Rolfsrud.
Father Ford says that Jenn is doing great. They are resting comfortably at Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, Minnesota. Grandma and Grandpa will be heading there this evening to try to get a picture through the nursery window. We hope to see it posted soon.
Congratulations Ford and Jenn!

Oops. False alarm

With all the excitement vis-a-vis Ford and Jenn's expected child, we couldn't resist running this photo of our grandchild at 10 hours old. We're anticipating some news anytime and will post it here pronto when we hear about it. Right now, got a 1:10 tee time. And we do miss Emily.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mr. Diapers

Stan's nephew Ford celebrates victory in a Diaper Derby set up with his wife, Jenn, as they await their newborn. There was some controversy, however. Check their blog at left. Baby is due this week!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Morning dew on the prickly pear

Photos by Stan Rolfsrud
This cactus grows under our mailbox in Arizona. A prickly pear, it is also known as a Paddle Cactus because of its resemblance to a child's ball and paddle toy. The fruit is edible and is sold in some stores as "tuna." We haven't sampled it. It rained yesterday and there was condensation here and there this morning. Click on the image for more detail.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Our roots in the Jackson clan

When I reminded my 88-year-old mother that I would be flying to Edinburgh in March to golf the old courses, she said "You're part Scotch, you know." I guess I sort of did know, but never have paid much attention to the details of my roots. After all, I had also heard we were descended from Wm. Bradford, who came on the Mayflower.
But just for fun, last night I made some internet inquiries, and thus comes this cascade of coincidences that I want to tell you about.
When we land in Scotland, we'll be a couple miles from Riccorton, a suburb of Edinburgh. According to a geneology prepared by Cousin Nancy Clary that she kindly emailed to me last night, that's where my great-great-great grandparents, John and Betsy Jackson, raised their son, Peter, and his brother, James. Peter was born in 1813. They all eventually immigrated to America, with Peter and his brother heading to the Minnesota Territory in 1855. The two spent their first night sleeping in a log, near the Minnesota River in Scott County. True pioneers, they took raw land from the Mdewakanton Sioux on the edge of the Big Woods. Peter and his brother would later be figures in the 1862 Sioux uprising.
For the past eight year years, Kathleen and I have lived in Shakopee, in Scott County, just a few miles from where that log would have been.
In 1857, Peter married Nancy Ives by George Lake in Jamestown Twp near what is now Mankato (Stan's brother Steve lives there now) He returned with her to St. Peter, making the last leg of their journey to Belle Plaine on a steamboat. I like to think they booked the honeymoon suite. Nancy was a nurse, and became known throughout the community for her caregiving. They raised my great grandmother, Ella Belle (1858 - 1918).
Today, when Kathleen and I look west out the window of our Shakopee home, we see an area just beyond Town Line Road.
It's named Jackson Township.
We often pass the Jackson Town Hall. We had no idea of our relationship until last night.
High on a bluff over nearby Belle Plaine sits the Valley View Golf Club. I meet my two brothers there for a round from time to time, a sort of central meeting point. Below the golf course, alongside Highway 169, is the Belle Plaine cemetery. We've never gone into it.
If we did, we would probably see a headstone with the name "Jackson" carved on it, along with the graves of Peter Jackson, his wife and brother. Our forebears.
Our great grandmother Ella Bell is said to have stuck a pin into a visiting Native American chieftan, possibly just one of a number of insults endured at that time. Ella grew up to marry a German named Wendelken, thereby introducing a new nationality to the mongrel Rolfsrud-Brown mix.
In March, I will reverse Peter's route to Minnesota from Scotland, no doubt with greater ease, if not anticipation.
The golf courses we will play (St. Andrews - Old and Jubilee -, Crail, Scotscraig, Fraserburgh and others) are all within an hour of great-great grandfather's hometown. -------------------
So Mom's a Scot. Now I must learn to roll an "R", drink Scotch, eat haggis and say "aye laddie." My purebred golf partner, Douglas MacKenzie, says I am just a Scottish "wannabe." Haven't seen HIM in plaid lately.

(Photos are all examples of Jackson plaid. Not sure what that's all about. The Clan colors or something. Peter Jackson was a salesman for a time before immigrating to the U.S. and becoming a farmer. Wonder if he pitched the clan pattern to Macy's?)

We spoke too soon

Yesterday we noted with some satisfaction that the odiferous, rude javelina had not crossed our path during our daily puff down to the fitness center.
This morning three uglies grumbled across Ridgeview Road in front of us, snouts down, single file, in an awkward trot. Apparently this peccary patrol remembers Fridays as trash day in that unlucky neighborhood.
(Google image. We took sharp pictures of the javelinas once at the Desert Museum, but apparently they were so disgusting we threw them out to save space on our hard drive.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Aloha, Solveig and Bill

It's a rainy morning on Rock Crest, temps in the 60s. This view from Cafe del Solveig shows the misty slopes of the Catalina Mountains awaiting Sosie and Bill's February visit. Tomorrow the couple heads to Hawaii from their California home.
Photo by Kathleen Rolfsrud

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yesterday, a bobcat

(Photos by Kathleen Ann Rolfsrud) At the crack of dawn for a week now, Stan has walked a mile to a fitness center, worked on his offensive body parts, then walked briskly home. This has brought a certain measure of results and satisfaction, along with a serious threat of extreme boredom.

Fortunately, it is not all just grumpy old Republicans down here. There's a ton of wildlife that can make a hiker's walk very interesting.

Yesterday a mature bobcat ambled across the main drag, paused on the center line for a good long look at the approaching hiker, then lightly sprang to the top of a backyard fence, presumably with high hopes of spying a tender puppy doing his daily morning business unattended. The cat had a "bobbed" tail, not a long swishy one like the mountain lions.

Today a pair of mule deer moved up the hillside, crossing the hiker's path and watching him huff and puff up the steep hill. The pair was fresh from a big breakfast down at the driving range, where they favor the grass growing just beyond the reach of a well-struck 3-iron.

The hiker has yet to cross paths with the javelinas. It is just as well. They travel in rude, odiferous packs on garbage day and are often smelled before they are seen. Recently a European got bit by one near here. He filed suit last week for $400,000.

Here's the Associated Press story about that.

"A tourist from the Netherlands who was attacked by a javelina at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has taken the first step to filing a lawsuit against the Tucson facility and Pima County taxpayers.
"Rene Zegerius filed a claim for $400,000 over last summer's attack.
"Zegerius was visiting Tucson with his family and was attacked by the javelina as he stood inside the museum grounds.
"The animal tore muscle and nerves and severed veins and arteries in his right calf and left hand.
"Zegerius spent eight days in a hospital, and says he lost money on hotel and travel reservations. Medical expenses came to $70,000, and a last-minute ticket back to the Netherlands cost more than $15,000.
"Robert Edison, the museum's executive director, says the javelina that attacked Zegerius did not belong to the museum."
-Associated Press

And so it goes.

(Readers may recall the photo of the neighborhood bobcat, above, that Kathleen shot last year. For details on her hunt, type "bobcat" into the search box, above.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hannah Meets the Parents

Last night Steve Letnes brought his girlfriend, Hannah, to his parents' house in Blaine, Minn. for a "get-acquainted" evening. (Steve is Stan's nephew, you know, the musician, the finance guy with a license to teach)

Steve's Mom (Stan's sister, Linda) was quite taken by the young lady and offered these exclusive photos to Rolfsruds & Friends.

In Linda's words: "I will let Steve say anything he would like to say about the evening. For our part, Hannah is everything Steve said she is. She is beautiful and bright. She speaks fluent Russian, can do high math. We had a wonderful evening and so enjoyed spending time with them."

We await Steve's own assessment of the evening with the parents.

Monday, January 19, 2009

72, 74, 73, 72, 78

No. Those are not golf scores. They are the high temps for the past five days in Tucson. Brother Virg did actually shoot a 72 here in Tucson a year ago, but he's doing his business in Florida right now, so it has been left to the likes of Stan and his neighbor, Dick Krueger, to carry the ball forward here. Today our foursome (we added Mac and Leno) enjoyed another sunny round, retiring in time to watch the sun set in Krueger's back yard, visit with his wife and sister-in-law, marvel at the stars and drink the German beer that brother Steve had foolishly left chilling in the fridge.
Tomorrow we hit the Barcaloungers for wall-to-wall inauguration coverage, then back to the links.

Steve's backyard pansies, planted before Christmas, were enjoyed by the rabbits and mule deer. Now we're hoping the petunias we planted Sunday in the elevated boxes out front will last long enough for Sosie and Bill's pending visit to Cafe del Solveig.
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Most gruesome. . .

Kathleen has just finished her Christmas presents. She had read John Sanford's latest book, "Heat Lightning" before we left Shakopee. Since then she's finished James Patterson's "Cross Country," calling it "the most gruesome book I have ever read." She liked it. Now she is in to Patricia Cornwell's "Cause of Death," an oldie she spied at the Golden Goose Thrift Shop and brought home for $1. Now that's a good book.

Besides Erling N. Rolfsrud, of course, her favorite authors are Cornwell, Sanford, John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark and Ann Rule. She likes biographies (Russert, Stahl, others) and anything having to do with forensics or murder.

Just a thought. . .

Jenn and Ford's baby girl is due in a week. (Ford is Stan's nephew.) We haven't been told her name yet. Ford comes from a creative naming tradition, which eschews the ordinary (his sisters, Briggs and Breck, for example).
A question from Arizona, where two retired folks ponder the day's events, particularly the excitement on the national stage, where Obamamania rages.
Question: If the baby comes on inaguration day, will plans go out the window and the tide of emotion result in Baracka Michelle Murman Rolfsrud?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

The neighborhood news

When your doctor, at an annual physical, helpfully mentions how to look for signs of breast cancer, it quickly draws your attention to an unfortunate portion of the elder male anatomy you thought you could always take for granted.

Suitably warned, we sought the good advice of Dr. Leno Masolini, who practices his craft across the street from us in Saddlebrooke. A retired principal and golf course ranger, his areas of expertise span a universe of subjects, not the least of which is physical fitness.

Wednesday the good doctor delivered us to the local exercise center, where there is free resident access to a recumbent device that, when properly mounted, is said to be just the thing for the offending portions of my physique. I have made two morning visits to this institution so far and will report any progress herewith.

Today the doctor has reserved an early afternoon tee time for us when I hope to receive further instruction from his good offices.

(Photos: Top, Mickey Masolini was just a pup when we took this photo of him with his Pop in 2007. Now he is a big dominant male in the neighborhood, regularly marking and remarking his particular areas of interest. Meanwhile, two Alpha males make their marks in the neighborhood, top down and hell bent in Leno's sports car.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Emily poured. . . and poured

We talked by phone with our granddaughter Emily last night. We miss her, of course. Before we left Minneapolis, we had an after-Christmas tea. Emily poured. She was most gracious, as you will see if you click on this two-minute clip we put together tonight. The tea set was a gift from Grandma, who believes every little girl should have one.

Your Mom called . . .

But no one was home at three different locations last night. Kathleen phoned the girls in Minnesota. All were out and about. Can't be too bad out there. From left, Melissa, Marcy, Jennifer at Christmas 2008. (Yes, Jen has a black eye.) Melissa has tickets for Mazatlan; Marcy is coming to Tucson soon, Jen is Colorado bound with her snowboard.
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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A friend in IFalls sends an email

It was minus forty (actual degrees) in International Falls this morning. Wayne Kasich, retiring publisher of the Daily Journal, writes:
Tue, Jan 13, 2009 at 9:44 AM
My Saturn, without a garage or headbolt heater, STARTED. That's as exciting as it gets.

Optimism defined

A lovely food chain flourishes here in Tucson. Critters abound. Each has its given position in a glorious daily struggle. Hawks and coyotes rule, near bottom hops the ubiquitous bunny rabbit.

We are not certain where my gentle brother fits into this grand scheme, but he may have found his place. Ever the optimistic gardener, he joyfully planted three colorful beds of pre-Christmas back yard pansies, chosen from the finest Home Depot stock. He recorded this good deed and posted the pretty photo, above. We applauded and anticipated a cheerful floral greeting in January.
Upon our arrival, we easily spotted the bougainvillea, the spoons, the lovely desert cacti with their elaborate, spiky defenses against marauding vegetarians.

Pansies? Not so much. Old wives say that spreading coffee grounds about your tender plantings will discourage interlopers. Perhaps so, my dear brother, but sadly, they were no match for Peter Cottontail. Your beds are skinned.

We join with nature in thanking you for your sunny, optimistic spirit. Somewhere in a nearby stony ravine, a fluffle of plump rabbits now awaits its fate.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wash me, please

Our faithful six-year-old Buick Rendezvous delivered us the 1,704 miles to Catalina without a hitch yesterday and will be rewarded with a good soak at Virgil's car wash on Oracle. It was slippery and snowy getting out of Minnesota, but things got better as we went. A fierce north wind blew us through Nebraska, giving us a green 40 miles per gallon. Gas prices were around $1.72.
So much for wind power, on with the solar.

The Rebeccas Who Lunch Club

Lunch at the new house in North Ft. Meyers may be rugged, but the company is smooth, judging by these photographs received today of Becky Lynn Rolfsrud, right, (that's Virg's wife) and Becky Rolfsrud Jerdee (that's Stan's sister).
The pair recently enjoyed a housewarming glass and lunch, cementing the foundation of the Southern Edition of the Ladies Who Lunch Club while seated on a concrete floor. We trust future meetings will involve more tables and chairs, but no less cheer.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

We're in Gallup, New Mexico

We're spending Saturday night in Gallup, New Mexico. Just got off the exercise bike here at the Inn so I am still panting and writing fast. We sort of slept in Pratt, Kansas, last night.
We swept through the windy Great Plains states on the bias, turning the Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico pages of the Rand McNally Atlas like a New York Times best seller. Gas is so cheap we admired the sexy SUVs and Winnebago rigs and thought about our future.
Yes, it's flat and boring and alone. That's why you've got a CD player. The prairie preachers and the right wing talkers dominate the radio waves, but no matter. We screeched out the BeeGees falsetto riffs like Vienna Choir Boys, then swapped for Willie when we hit the Texas border.
It was a hard day, we're tired now and will sleep late on our double doubles. Tomorrow we'll be home in Arizona with plenty of time left for vespers at Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

We're trying

We're trying to get to Arizona.
Latest hurdle was supplied by that jewel of American Free Enterprise, the unregulated, unfettered Comcast Cable Company, providers of our internet connection to this blog.
We had the temerity to attempt to suspend cable service and save $200 during our anticipated absence. We've spent thousands of dollars and many years with Comcast and its gobbled predecessors. We understand the dangers and the rules of the game but decided to risk it anyway. These are, after all, desperate times.
So, well in advance, we cautiously notified them of our date of departure. The date was duly recorded by Comcast in our account file, accessed by a representative somewhere in a St. Louis, Missouri.
Comcast allows itself a "two-day grace period" to perform this service. This is a secret, of course, and the grace is extended to benefit the company, not the customer. Therefore, two-days before our departure, when all arrangements, communications and plans are peaking, the cable company found it convenient to suspend our service.
Comcast also provides us with cable tv. Strangely, this service soldiers on, unaffected by the "grace." Earlier, Comcast had indicated its desire to provide us with our telephone service as well. We are confused by just how this might work when the cable fails, as it did last summer when an aerator was run over the lawn. Do you go to the neighbor's house, knock on the door, call the cable help number and then hold at their kitchen table?
We used an 800 number to communicate with a series of lovely, low-paid representatives in a St. Louis sweat shop. Their apparent purpose is to buffer the corporate offices from the unwashed and their inconvenient requests. They have no tools to actually do anything, but they are authorized to write-up work orders, suggestions and such and then place them in a 72-hour queue for action elsewhere. You get that, and, of course, profuse apologies, promises of adjustments, and whatever else from embarassed workers grateful just to have a job, even if it is with the cable company.
Cynics might say that the cable company hopes you will be so thoroughly disgusted with their suspension process that next time you leave town you won't bother them again, you'll just pay them hundreds for service to an empty house. In this free market enterprise motivated by good greed, it would seem that neglect and bad service has a financial reward associated with it.
Corporate offices seem to be located somewhere in the City of Brotherly Love, where the scandalized Adelphia cable company once practiced its artifice. Others are in undisclosed locations.
If you wish to call the corporate number to express your deep-seated feelings of hostility, you may do so at your convenience. There is a special line. It is unknown if this line is connected to an electronic wastebasket or an employee paid to act like one.
Some, like my good brother suffering under a different cable company, believe the mythology that your local government actually regulates this monopoly. This is done, he explains, by simply shutting down the cable company and awarding a franchise to its better.
Does this ever happen? He doesn't think so. Apparently everybody just loves the cable company and understands its ever spiralling costs for the timely, high-def delivery of Andy of Mayberry and Sean Hannity.
We're trying to get to Arizona. Here's hoping we can get back on-line when we get there. If you don't hear anything . . . please call that Philadelphia number for us.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Take the tour

Ford and Jenn Rolfsrud have put together a video tour of the new nursery for the girl they expect shortly. Have a look, below, on the Ford and Jenn link. You'll see Emily's crib, which has been passed on through the family. Nice job, Ford and Jenn.
(Ford does the video hosting, Jenn's behind the camera.)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Double A born today

Stan's nephew Aaron Rolfsrud was born Jan. 2, 1983. We think Aaron is somewhere in Minnesota. His Mom and Dad are celebrating his birthday in Venice, Florida by beating Virg's great nephew at chess. Happy Birthday, Aaron. Hope this is a great year for you!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Bottle feeding an orphan

This photo was added to the Erling N. Rolfsrud chronology this week. It's Dad bottle feeding an orphaned lamb on the farm in North Dakota. Undated. Figured it would have been in the 1930s based on the year of the automobile. The ENR chronology, linked below, has received 114 visits since Kathleen typed it a few months ago.