Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sometimes. . .

Don't you just feel like a good cry?
Milla Letnes Erickson lets it all out. See her blog, below.

The numbers don't add up anymore

By Stan Rolfsrud
The other day a classmate brought up the topic of Mu Alpha Theta, a high school honor society for math wizards, which was organized by legendary high school mathematics teacher Viola Halvorson. I always carefully avoided mathematics and numbers and Viola, so this organization has never given me any trouble.
The classmate had jubilantly spammed a local editorial from the 1960s, written by his father, lauding the high school math aces and decrying the fact that the wunderkinds just never get the adulation and praise of the basketball or football jock.
Another gutsy position taken by the Alexandria EchoPress.
Yesterday I spoke with another classmate. I had just learned that this dear friend has been stricken with a version of Parkinson's. We discussed the things that he can do and what he can't do anymore, and I inquired if he could still figure math as before. He was an absolute whiz in high school. "No," my friend responded ruefully. "I can't do any numbers at all."
"Gee," said I, quite crassly, with the editorial still in mind, "Guess you'll have to return Viola's Mu Alpha Theta pin."
His long-term memory is sharp and the dark, tasteless remark drew a nostalgic snort.
This morning, my brother Steve called so I brought up Steve's membership in Mu Alpha Theta. He remembered it well, but with an odd sting.
For some reason, Steve got the family math gene, but apparently not all of it.
EVERY YEAR Vi Halvorson scheduled her voluntary math test to seek out and identify the greatest of all the math geniuses at Jefferson High School. (When she gave it, I believe I was shooting baskets.) During his senior year, Steve sat down with 1000 other local math mavens to vie for the prestigious JHS math mantle. Eventually, Steve was thrilled to be notified that of the thousand students competing, he ranked the third best in all of JHS mathdom. Jimmy Mahlberg was No. 2.
And who was crowned the best of all the best math brainiacs at Jefferson High School that year? Who pushed Steve down one more rung from the ladder top?
Yes, our family big boy learned, with an odd mixture of pride and chagrin, the new Jefferson High School mathematics champion was none other than -- his little brother, Virgil.
Go figure.
Top photo: Mu Alpha Theta alumnae. Built for speed, agility, math. Below: Photo taken later in life, as Virgil, right, beats his older brother in a round of golf, again.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fun at The Church Basement

Stan's sister Linda writes:
I sent you a picture of Ron at the Plymouth Playhouse sign. No photos are allowed during the performance of course, and you will be happy to know that Ron followed the rules. [The last time Stan attended a performance with his brother-in-law Ron, The Rev. Ron did NOT follow the rules and was taken out to be scolded by the head usher at Orchestra Hall. True story.]
Linda continues: As part of our 42nd anniversary celebration, we went to see the Church Basement Ladies and enjoyed it thoroughly.
We watched the Obama 100 Days press conference tonight and I realized that I haven't heard Ron scream at a tv in months. Obama has been good for us in many ways.
We have been able to see [grandchildren] Milla and Anja every day for the past five days. It's such a delight!
Love, Linda

The tp not necessary, Birdie

Birdie pulled down some tp in the master bath today. It is true that we've been strict with her housetraining, but honestly, we have NEVER asked her to use tissue.
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Go get it, Birdie!

We knew Birdie was smart when she came home with us Monday. But our 12-week-old puppy is retrieving already and we just can't believe it. Click on our YouTube clip to see 70 seconds of fun. We love our new dog.

Shana and Erik have a baby girl!

Yesterday, April 24th, Stan's niece gave birth to another beautiful little girl. Shana and Erik named her Milla Letnes Erickson. Milla is pronounced me-lah. She was born at 5:57 pm, weighing 7 pounds 9 ounces and measuring 20 and 3/4 inches. Baby and Mama are both healthy and doing very well. Congratulations! Also to Grandparents Linda and Ron Letnes and Paul and Marilyn Erickson.

What about MY gutters, broken window?

High winds crossing the sixth fairway wrenched a decent fade into a nasty slice last night, floating Stan's mulligan way out of bounds and bouncing it merrily down Stonebrooke Drive. There it eventually met the bright red pride and joy of a fine young Shakopee lad, popping a dent into the right fender, skipping off the windshield and dribbling away down a gutter.

This event did not go unnoticed by either driver, so a meeting was promptly called to order beside the damaged vehicle. Stan could quickly see that simple regrets would not suffice, so he invited the young man back to his house for a cash award to smooth the dent. The victim, encouraged by his pal and Stan's foursome, agreed.

Unfortunately, with Kathleen out of the house, Stan's net worth plummets. Burglars would have to settle for a ham sandwich and a beer. However, with the help of kind, resigned neighbors, Stan was able to scrape together $100 in small bills, just enough to assuage his conscience, settle the matter and give the young man a nice head start on his Friday night activities.

Victim points out evidence of errant Titleist.

Ladies Who Lunch -- April

The legendary Irish pub, O'Gara's in St. Paul, hosted the birthday version of the Ladies Who Lunch on Thursday. Kathleen and M'liss enjoyed a spirited morning, noon and afternoon going over items of interest, including, of course, the latest poker shakedowns. Gifts were exchanged. M'liss received the traditional birthday fare, complete with the obligatory senior senility card; Kathleen received a nice open-bottom puppy enclosure, perfect for training her 12-week-old on how to use the front lawn. During her visit to the Greatest City in the World, Kathleen stopped by the Shadow Falls residence hand-built by her sister and brother-in-law in the 90s. It was recently sold and continues to be a gem in the neighborhood. The pair adjourned, then met up again last night for poker in Bloomington.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You KNEW this was next. . .

Emily meets Birdie. The black and tan poodle plants a pink one on her new pal.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We're trying. . .

Keva, Bubbles, Rosie, Brandy, Sasha, Dolly, Rena, Iris, Birdie, Taffy, Tootie. . .

Monday, April 20, 2009

Look who came home today!

We got a puppy today. She's 11 weeks old. No name yet. Got any ideas? Click on comments, below.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Breaking the rules... again

This late entry to the Ladies Who Lunch series was disqualified on a number of technicalities. Submitted by Becky Lynn, the entry really belongs in the "Gentlemen Taking Their Wives Out for Pancakes" category. These photos were taken yesterday in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Sosie and Bill and some other folks from California were pushing off on a cruise through the Panama Canal and other exotic locales, and Becky and hubby were dockside to see them off. So this is a Bon Voyage, not a Ladies Who Lunch photo, Becky. Rules are the rules. Besides, we don't even know who the lady on the right in the upper photo is. (That's Becky and Sosie on the left) And Virg is disqualified, of course, for the shirt.

Lost and Found

While moving stuff in and out of closets the other day, your blog hosts discovered these two fine rain jackets in the front closet. Apparently it was raining when the owners arrived and not raining by the time they left. We have no idea who owns these, and we don't exactly fit into them.

The green one is an Eddie Bauer, size XL; the blue one has Goretex and is a medium.

Eventually, the Vietnam Veterans of America will acquire these two fine jackets and we'll get a tax deduction . . . unless someone claims them first, of course.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Yes, Becky Lynn. . .

We are out of the closet!
Only final touches on the master closet expansion project remain. The repositioning of the misplaced door added almost eight feet of new storage space.
Which is all very nice. But we still don't have anything to wear.

The Ridges of Cruden Bay

Photo by Stan Rolfsrud

Friday, April 17, 2009


Melissa, Jennifer, Marcelline
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Season opener

Early in the evening, a farmer turned rich black soil about a mile west of the cooperage in the village of Craigellachie, Scotland. Coopers there construct wood barrels for a thriving whisky industry in the surrounding valley, formed by the confluence of the Spey and Fiddich rivers. We don't know what this farmer will plant, but we like to think it will be barley chosen for a fine 12-year-old single malt scotch whisky at the old Abelour distillery, located just over the horizon.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"So I plan a nice tea party. . .

. . . and this big clown shows up!"
"And he laughs at all his own jokes, spills tea on the tablecloth and eats the best strawberries. And he won't even take off that stupid hat."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Email to a sister-in-law

From: Kathleen
Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 4:13:48 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Re: ramblings...
Yes, Emily is cute but more importantly....good too. Stan and I can take her anywhere without feeling tense about her behavior.
A few days ago I was grocery shopping and there was a four year old boy screaming at the top of his lungs because he wanted something. He screamed all throughout the store. People were shaking their heads. At one point he and his mother were in my aisle and without his mother seeing me, I moved closer and gave the little brat the EVIL EYE. This stopped him for a moment as he didn't know what I was going to do but then he resumed screaming. His mother clearly had no control and no idea of her responsibility to him and the store patrons. Needless to say, I did my shopping in record time and found relief outside.
Ha Ha....can you imagine me giving the evil eye?

To: Kathleen
Subject: Ramblings. . .
From: Sosie
haha, I do stuff like that too. Not the evil eye yet, but I talk with children, ask them questions about what they are doing and why. They look at me funny, but then seem to stop to puzzle over their answer. But you can't talk with a screamer, so the Evil Eye is about all you can do, except kick the parent in the shin. I was a big shin-kicker when I was a child. That was my specialty.

Another broken rule. . .

Yes, we know. Emily's birthday isn't until May 1. But what a perfect day to try out the new scooter. So out it came, much to Emily's surprise. Good thing too. Grandma and Grandpa just couldn't have waited any longer.
*Safety notice: The helmet that came with the scooter is too small. We'll replace it immediately and Emily will wear one on all solo flights. Grandma wanted you to know.

Monday, April 13, 2009

After the party. . .

Sosie says that when we come to visit this summer we should check out the Filoli Estate, which is some kind of national treasure near her house that is always in bloom. It is located 30 miles south of San Francisco. It is full of tulips and such right now. Should be in roses by the time we get there for the Big Event.
Nothing blooming right now in Minnesota, although the fairways are starting to get a bit greenish as the golfers pretend it is warm out. We've picked up a dozen or so errant balls already. No one has smashed a storm window so far. Have to get them down soon and the screens on the porch. We're just pressing our luck with these free swingers from the high school.
A farmer across the road over there in Jackson Township is working after dark tonight with headlights and worklights blazing, planting corn and injecting ammonia in one late-night sweep. We remember when they fertilized that field with genuine cow manure. The cows are gone now, replaced by houses that are being foreclosed upon. That stinks too.
The moving floodlights of the tractor-planter-fertilizer rig freaked Kathleen momentarily. It looked a bit like an alien space ship floating along the ground in the distance, all lit up.
Filoli does sound interesting. We read from their website:
Weeping Japanese cherries in the walled garden will be in full bloom this week along with pink Tulip ‘Ollioules’ in the garden house beds. Also, check out the Hyacinth Pink Mix underplanted with the Bellis ‘Strawberries and Cream’ in the Bell Beds.
In the Sunken Garden, look for Tulip ‘Pink Impression’ emerging out of the Nemophila (Baby Blue Eyes) foliage. There are 4000 tulips planted in the Sunken Garden for this year’s display.

Maybe we'll just drive. . .

Today we go online to find a flight to San Francisco for ZZZach's and Jennnn's hoop-ti-doo.
Ticket shopping is not easy for us, as we insist that the flight be convenient AND cheap.
Let's see. Probably best to target OAK, but SFO is OK. Don't mind layover in Salt Lake City as long as the LDS leave us alone... or offer us a free tour of the Tabernacle if we're there more than two hours. Don't want to depart MSP too early because then we won't get any sleep the night before. Don't want to leave too late because we don't want to drive in the dark in a strange city and we don't want to be tired for the party. Willing to stay over a Saturday but don't want to overstay, but we want to stay long enough to make it worthwhile and fun so departure and arrival days are sort of flexible but not really. Don't care about window or aisle seating, it is going to be miserable anyway so why worry about that?
Want to have the very best price, whatever that is today, we have no idea.
OK Linda. Just how do you do this?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter. . .

From Kathleen, Stan, Melissa, Marcelline, Jennifer, Emily and Dan! Thanks to Marcus for making the picture.

Easter family photos soon. . .




It's potluck in Shakopee today, which is a good thing since the girls have such wide and varied tastes to go with the meat and potatoes approach of some attendees.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter at Mom's, 2005

Mom had Easter at her house in Alexandria in 2005. Here are the attendees except Stan, who is standing on a chair. And you can't see Sosie but that's her on the telephone talking to Kathleen. (At right, Jenn, Jennifer, Breck and Briggs.) Click to enlarge photo.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The moon, not the pizza, awakens the old man

A big, round, full, April moon, blasting through the bedroom window, got Stan up extra early this morning. Old people get up early anyway, but this is ridiculous, he grumbled to himself as he sorted through his socks box in the pale yellow moonlight.
Last night's pizza had nothing to do with it.
As promised, Kathleen brought home a favorite medium sausage from Old Chicago on Lariat in Eden Prairie. Old Chicago advertises that they are "More than Just Pizza and Beer" and have developed a big Italian menu to prove it, but all Stan and Kathleen ever get is the big, round sausage pizza.

Stan had the oven tuned to 350 when Kathleen got home with the warm cardboard box. She had already returned the granddaughter to her mother, first stopping by that paper and party place by Office Max for a red helium balloon to replace the one that got up, up and away last week. A wizened Emily gripped much tighter this week, grandma reported with a smile.

As usual, the pizza was served on that big, round, heavy stone Linda gave them years ago that they thought they would never, ever use, but thanked her politely and enthusiastically anyway. The pizza was hot, tomatoey, spicy, crusty and with the sausage cut like little roast beef slices. Stan had intended to take its picture, but by the time he had remembered to do it, the pizza was gone.

There's never a fight over the last piece. Stan always eats it first.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Spring training results. . .

Emily's nasty old cold is finally gone, never to return. Suitably bundled for chilly basement fun, our soon-to-be-three Wednesday girl joined us in much better spirits today. Before long, it will warm, the sun will be shining and we can try out that pink and white birthday scooter Grandma hid in the garage (Don't tell).
Oh yes. Grandma and Grandpa have been very pleased today with Emily's joyous intermittent announcements of big girl bathroom achievements.

Happy Birthday Nancy!

Sorry about the belated greeting. Steve was supposed to remind us, but he forgot again. Hope you had a wonderful day!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Village cemetery in Craigellechie

There really is a place like this on the banks of the River Spey.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Closet expansion under way

Kathleen and Stan may have the smallest and worst wardrobe in the greater metropolitan area. No matter. Their closet is getting bigger.

When they built the place eight years ago, something happened in the mad dash to button it up, and the closet space got short-changed in favor of a walk-in shower. At the time, a tiny closet was no problem for a couple of folks with tiny wardrobes.

Kathleen claims Stan won't throw out anything remotely sentimental. (He still has an Army shirt or two.) They built a big old walk-in closet in the basement last summer to store such memorabilia. That's where the Santa Suit, the wedding dress and the bicentennial get-up reside.

But if this old townhouse is ever going to sell, the tiny master closet just won't do. So the dreary Minnesota spring hatched a short-term project: They pulled the door off the closet and moved it out four feet into the bedroom. Suddenly the closet is huge, and befitting the huge clothes collection of the next lucky owners.

Stan applied his homemade "dinosaur dentil" moulding to the top edge of the closet extension. He's too cheap to buy the real stuff. That same pattern will be picked up on the dustboard which is in the works for the bedroom sliding door. That glass has been covered by a "temporary" vertical shade purchased in a hurry at Menard's eight years ago for $20.

It's time.

Texas greeting

Spring has sprung in Texas and Lorlee didn't want us to feel left out in Minnesota so she sent this greeting.

It is still a grey April here, with promises, promises for later this week. Baseball opener tonight. Fortunately, it is in the dumpty dome.

We shall see. Snow's gone. Not sure what the image below is. Looks like Lorlee may have sent us the bird.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Look here, grandma!

Our neighbor, Sandy, is one month and seven days away from retirement. Her grandson, Barrett, turned one-year old yesterday. His latest trick is peek-a-boo. His mom, a blog regular, sends along this cute picture.

Mastering the swing, the flush

Throughout 12 days in Scotland, it was my good fortune to share a room with an honest-to-goodness card-carrying member of the Professional Golfing Association.
Tim Borem, assistant pro at the Summit Golf Club in Cannon Falls, enjoyed "courtesy of the course" and played for free at a half-dozen magnificent venues.
In turn, I enjoyed free private golf lessons from my roommate -- "courtesy of the pro."
Tim is the tender age of my dear nephew, Aaron Rolfsrud. The two chummed at Eden Prairie High where Aaron was dubbed "Double A."
Most of my free instruction occurred during the evening hours, far away from the legendary links courses and closer to an aged bottle of Scotch whisky. As we examined the mystery of the golf swing and related life lessons, discussions often took the tone of a political science or philosophy exercise. However, it wasn't the words of Plato or Churchill, but rather Pennock and Nicklaus that Tim drew upon, as he guided his senior pupil through the vagaries of coordinated physical movement.
This earnest instruction by the young professional resulted in a radical change to the senior's approach to the game and some immediate positive results, mid-tour.
Please don't get the impression that the coaching and advice was a one-way street. Oh no. Our PGA pro, it would seem, had his own struggle: the mastery of the theory and science of Scottish plumbing.

During our 3-day stay on the third floor of the Bell Craig House in St. Andrews, we were introduced to the electric shower and a Scottish two-speed flush toilet. The shower was easier to learn, once you get used to the somewhat disturbing idea of pulling a cord on an electrical box before stepping into a stream of water.

The double-clutch toilet, which requires the operator to make a purposeful choice between a big flush and a wee one, required significantly more practice and concentration. Tim, to his credit, responded admirably to the following instruction:

"Keep your eye on the handle. Lean slightly forward. Keeping your head still, pull the handle back by rotating your shoulders around a consistent spine angle. For a big flush, swing the handle to full top, then shift your weight to your front foot, and, with a slightly downward motion, begin the big flush. Keep your hands behind the point of impact. And don't forget to follow through."

Always glad to do my part, Tim.



(Left: Carol and Hazel, house mums at the Bell Craig. Breakfast, laundry, bedding, they did it all for their seven American guests... and answered foolish questions about plumbing as well.
Below, Tim Borem swings a fairway wood on the windswept Jubilee Course at St. Andrews.)