Friday, December 31, 2010

Last piece, last day . . .

Ta Da!

It's New Year's Eve and a great time to do the Thomas-the-Train not-so-easy 100-piece glow-in-the-dark Christmas Puzzle. Emily put in the last piece today before heading home. It's been a Good Year. 

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mary Lou's Birthday -- June 26, 1988

Today's tape, among many other things, featured Kathleen's sister's birthday celebration in 1988. As we listened to the happy and bright conversation among family members, we fondly remembered the celebrants who have since passed: Kathleen's Mother Florence, her Auntie Bubbles and her brother-in-law David. The tape is now 22 years old, but was as clear as ever and we'll continue to treasure it.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast of Florida. . .

The Des Moines, Iowa, Underwoods are in Florida spending some vacay time with the parents/grandparents (Stan's sister, Becky). Looks like they're having a great time. We got this note today.

Becky writes: The Underwoods took Becky and Al to The Crow's Nest for dinner. The upper floor dining area offers a view of Dona Bay, Snake Island, and the intracoastal waterway--lots of sparkling lights at night. The best part? We were seated at a corner window, far from the crowd where we enjoyed a wide-open view of small ships passing in the night.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas '92 -- Year of the Quiz Madame

Who survived two car accidents in which the car was totaled, but never received a scratch? 
A. Linda; B. Steve; C. Adam; D. Jennifer. E. None of the above.
Our winter project is sorting through miles of videotapes recorded at family events over the years. We're all digital now, so we had to dig up a VCR (remember those) and hook it up to an old TV to get our project started. What fun we are having.
Today we watched The Rolfsrud Family Christmas '92 and '93. In 1992 we had a Game Show, with questions asked about family members. Stan emceed, Kathleen asked the questions, and Steve Letnes provided sound effects on an organ. Virgil donated prizes from his knitting company.
The tape was edited in the camera by Hoi Tong and done very well. It would be a great basis for a future party. There were at least 30 family members present. Here's a sample question.
"Erling Rolfsrud was once honored as a North Dakota Hero. Seated at the banquet were others being honored as well. Who did Erling spend most of his time talking to:
A. Curt Carlson, world famous entreprenuer
B. Gretchen Carlson, Miss America
C. Lawrence Welk, the master of ceremonies
D. Olga Swensrud, the waitress
The question was asked of Dad's granddaughter, Shana Letnes. Everyone mentioned in the question was actually in attendance at the banquet. It was a big deal. But Shana, knowing her shy Norwegian granddad, guessed that Dad probably talked mostly to Olga, the waitress. She got a honk from the organist indicating an incorrect response.
So who did Dad spend most of his time talking to at the Heroes of North Dakota banquet in Minot that year? Well, Dad confirmed for everyone, Miss America, of course. (She plays a violin like Ole Bull, you know)
Dad had never heard of Curt Carlson before he met him at the banquet. Honest.
There were dozens more questions and great responses that memorable Christmas of '92.
(Dad died in 1994.) By the way, the answer to the first question above? Jennifer.

The Year in Review

We notice (and remember) how this week media fills space and time with The Year in Review, by rehashing old stories from the previous 12 months. Fortunately, you can do you own year in review here, just type in the subject that interests you (your name, for example) in the search box on the top left corner of this blog, and you'll get your own custom-made year in review.
Better Living Through Software.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Katie misses two

It was down to the wire today, the car was warming in the driveway for the possible Canterbury dash to claim the cash before the deadline -- but Miami and Jacksonville let Katie down at the very last minute, giving opponents whisker-thin wins after holding them off for almost four quarters. So our prognosticator picked five out of seven games correctly today.
A frustrated Katie says she's not going to do this anymore, it is just too stressful. But wait and see, she'll be sharpening her pencil again next week!
And she did beat Birdie!

Here they are: Katie's picks!

Here are Katie's picks for the winners of the seven NFL games starting at noon today. There's a $500 pot at the Perfect Pick desk at Canterbury Park. Look out!
Projected winners are in red:
New York Jets at Chicago Bears
New England at Buffalo
Baltimore at Cleveland
San Francisco at St. Louis
Tennessee at Kansas City
Detroit at Miami
Washington at Jacksonville
With the stakes this high, Birdie decided to jump into the race as well. Here are Birdie's picks.

New York Jets at Chicago Bears
New England at Buffalo
Baltimore at Cleveland
San Francisco at St. Louis
Tennessee at Kansas City
Detroit at Miami
Washington at Jacksonville

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Storys

Our neighbor, Tom Story, reminded Santa that he's been bouncing Tom's grandchildren on his knee for nine years now. The 13-year-olds were four when they got their first visit. Teens Jane and Andrew are still good sports and took their turns last night.  Newcomer Lucy, seven months, was all smiles too and got along great with Santa. Her grandma emailed this family photo and note:
I guess you are resting up today after your rounds last evening. Thank you for including our house on your route. You are part of our tradition. Here are a couple photos that I took.

Friday, December 24, 2010

She knows. . .

Santa was making the usual rounds in the neighborhood tonight and Emily caught some of the action. She'd already opened her gifts with the rest of her family when the jolly elf came tromping down the stairs for a cameo appearance before heading outside. She wasn't quite certain at first, but then she knew. Old Grandpa Claus.

Santa Pants!

All the Iowa boys got Santa pants this year. Seven-month-old Landon Jerdee seems quite pleased with his pair. Check the blog below or click here.

Stuffed for Christmas

Nothing says Christmas like a fourteen pound turkey all laced up for Christmas Dinner. We're having the family (and some guests) over for Christmas Eve Dinner today at 2 p.m. This turkey went into the oven at 8, filled with traditional celery and sage dressing. Both ends got a tight lace job. Nice, don't you think? The festive pomegranate is just there for color, left behind by Sosie, and we didn't want it to go to waste.

Letnes family visits Mom

Steve Letnes and Linda visited Mom at Clearwater yesterday and here's Ron's photo. Merry Christmas everyone.

Christmas Greetings from Rolfsruds in Ulsteinvik

Gunnar Rolfsrud took this photo this morning from his balcony overlooking the harbor in Ulsteinvik. He emails these greetings to his relatives in the US:
He writes:

Hello USA
This is how Ulsteinvik looks like on a Christmas morning. Temperature 5 C. below zero and lots of snow.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you from me and my family.

Best regards

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grandpa's Road Trip

It was June, 1913. Grandma (Jessie nee Wendelken) and Grandpa (Paul) Brown (photo below) lived in Hettinger, North Dakota. Grandma's younger sister, Maud, was about to graduate from high school in Mitchell, South Dakota. With an epic sense of adventure, they packed up the flivver and drove it 900 miles round trip to the ceremonies.
This week grandchildren Sosie and Stan discovered the little torn and tattered picture, above. Penciled on the back was this paragraph:
On Way to Mitchell
About June 1, 1913 the Paul Browns (Richard 1-year-old) and Harry Wendelken (younger brother, about 11) drove from Hettinger via Lemmon, Faith, Philip, Chamberlain, to Mitchell to see Aunt Maud graduate. It was certainly a trip thru the wilds with hardly any roads. Return was made via Elkton and Aberdeen.
Here's a Google map (click to enlarge) of roughly where Paul Brown and family went. Google says it is 900 miles, but that is by using established roads, which didn't exist at the time. The river in the center of the map is the Missouri and would have been crossed twice. We asked mother about the trip yesterday. She wasn't born at the time of this adventure, of course, but she did recall her Dad saying from time to time: "We'll make a road."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'So Ole and Lena had a date in New Ulm . . ."

Stan and Sosie visited Mom today and found her in great spirits, so much so that Sosie jumped in with Mom to see if some would rub off.
The drive to and from Alexandria was dismal with slippery roads and slow traffic, but it was bright and cheerful at the Clearwater Suites, as the time flew by with stories about old times, old friends and new plans taking center stage. We enjoyed lunch in the sun room. Later we had snacks, left behind by old family friend Lavina.
Sosie gets on the plane for California tomorrow.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Kathleen at 50 percent on NFL picks

Confidence shattered by yesterday's 50-50 performance where she only got 5 out of 10 NFL picks correct, St. Paul Katie is not predicting tonight's snowy Vikings-Bears meeting. She is, however, taking bets on whether Stan and Sosie will make it back through the snow from a classmates party at the Sofitel in Bloomington tonight, however.

Client gets new logo

This new logo for The Upper Crust bakery was created by Stan's great friend, Hai Dang, whose unlimited talents include the development of the finest in computer-generated graphics.
This image will appear prominently in Danny's 10th floor kitchen, as well as on business cards and other materials produced for the fledgling enterprise. Things are moving quickly at the new bakery, with the installation of a bread board of directors and new directional signage for the company lounge: "Loaf Here."
What's next? Sticky buns. Watch this space.

Ruthie said she cried. . .

Sosie and Virg took Mother to the annual high school Christmas concert at Jefferson High School in Alexandria Sunday. We haven't heard from them about the concert, but we have heard from classmate Tom Obert. He writes:

Ruthie said she cried. . .
Unabashedly. It was during the Christmas concert performance of the combined high school orchestra and choirs. The young ladies and gentlemen put on a fabulous performance. The family members here from Noblesville, Indiana, were mightily impressed - even Grandson Tom, who is a thespian (having nothing to do with his religion or politics). The performance went non-stop from 5:30 to 7:10, with no breaks for applause.
Bob Hines, with his marvelous radio voice, provided narration while "cast" members moved from instrument to vocal venues, or vice-versa. 
We were thinking it would be great if the school would (could?) video these performances and put them on DVD's - I suppose there would be all manner of copyright issues. 
So, we kept our sensitive, if elderly, tushies planted on the planks that are the gymnasium stands during the entire performance with relatively minor discomfort because we found the event so enjoyable. When you think about the entertainment value - $6 ($4.50, if you used your activities pass) for this and high school sporting events - Oy! 
As we say here in the middling part of America - "Such a deal!!"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Meet Gunnar and Knut Rolfsrud

Our Norwegian cousins?
We've never actually met. But an accidental internet inquiry yesterday put us together. Rolfsrud is a rare surname, after all. Emails were exchanged. Turns out that brothers Gunnar (above, left) and Knut Rolfsrud will be flying to Minneapolis with a planeload of Norwegians for a bus tour of Minnesota and North Dakota next July. We hope to meet them then and exchange stories. We've got their intinerary (Roseville, Bismarck, Minot, Fargo, Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Alexandria and other Norwegian hot spots). We don't know exactly how we're related, but Gunnar, 69, recalls meeting Dad years ago when Dad was in Norway -- we'll get the tree figured out soon. Stay tuned. Gunnar lives in Ulsteinvik, a beautiful ship-building town on the western coast of Norway.
Gunnar's wife, Hilde, their oldest son Haakon, Haakon's daughter, Emilie, and Gunnar, the day Emilie was confirmed.

Virg, say something to your Mama

Sosie phones in this photo from Clearwater Suites in Alexandria along with this note:

After Lunch
In the festive library (the Clearwater dining hall was overflowing with Sunday guests), Mom and Virg read the Fargo Forum, which is regularly handed over to Mom by Carmen. Mom taught piano to Carmen's granddaughter. Meanwhile, in the background, Case, the owner of the grand piano, plays Christmas carols for us.

Mom matches her front door

Sosie and Virg arrived in Alexandria an hour ago to take Mom to lunch and then enjoy an afternoon high school Christmas concert at Jefferson Senior High. They phoned in this picture of Mother, seated in the hall, decked for the holidays. They'll drive back to the Twin Cities tonight, with Sosie returning to Alex with Stan on Tuesday.. . er, weather permitting.
(Sosie. Is Mom wearing a festive cap, or is that just a Christmas tree on the door?)

10 NFL Games present big challenge

Katie's on her way to Canterbury to post her picks for today's noon NFL games. Here they are, winners are in red.

Arizona at Carolina
Buffalo at Miami
Cleveland at Cincinnati
Detroit at Tampa Bay
Houston at Tennesse
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Kansas City at St. Louis
New Orleans at Baltimore
Philadelphia at NY Giants
Washington at Dallas

Looks like Katie likes the visitors this week. We shall see at 3.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kathleen peels at JJ Hill's house

Saturday's fun started at the JJ Hill house in St. Paul where our host Sosie sponsored a tour of the railroad baron's mansion. Costumed docents played the roles of household servants preparing the edifice for Christmas festivities. In the kitchen Kathleen was pressed into service peeling apples for Mr. Hill's favorite pie and acquitted herself well, having no need for a new-fangled peeler. The turn-of-the century mansion was wired for electricity and had a telephone --- we overheard a "conversation" with President Theodore Roosevelt. Mr. Hill was wanting to merge his interests with other national oligarchs. Mr. Roosevelt mentioned something about "monopoly."

Sosie's back in town

(There would have been a nice photo here of Sosie's selections, but Google is just too slow today to bother. Do they have the same problem at Facebook?)

Stan's sister Sosie is in town from Caliefornia. The reason we know is that she sent us this photo of the lunch she purchased for her brother Virg's family at the Eden Prairie Costco. Prominent in her display is the Shearer chips, a little-known product she has apparently come to believe is named after her. Sosie flew in two hours late in the dead of night. They were late, her pilot explained, because of weather conditions in California. Virg was there to get her and they're ready for a full afternoon of touristing in the Twin Cities, starting with the James J. Hill house on Summit Ave.
We'll do a drive-by of The Bank where the Vikings hope to play Monday night. Then on to the Mill City Museum in the flour district of Minneapolis. Isn't it great when relatives come to town so you can see your city?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Abbey Point Carolers

We sang every Christmas song that Deb could get out of her piano tonight at the annual Abbey Point Christmas party. And Kathleen told an Ole and Lena joke. Anybody wanna hear it?

Neighborhood fire photos

Neighborhood reporter Sandy Story turned in these photos just a bit ago of last night's fire in the next neighborhood. No one was injured, but substantial damage occurred, though we've heard no assessment of it yet. Sandy also got a shot of the water reservoir (below) used to manage water flow when hydrants are not available.
Sandy writes:
I should have sent these to you last night ... but I was too tired.
I probably wouldn't have made it as a reporter for the Shakopee Valley News. Also, there is one of the water reservoir ... the tank trucks were dumping into it and the hoses were pumping out of it. I never saw this before. But, when you have no water hydrant in your neighborhood this is what they have to do.
Stan says: Thanks for the contribution, Sandy. Hope you got your rest as there's a big Christmas party in the neighborhood tonight.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fire brings out neighbors

A fire that started in a garage in the next neighborhood brought out 13 pieces of fire fighting equipment tonight. There are no fire hydrants in our part of Shakopee so city departments rely on mutual aid for water tankers. The stubborn fire was eventually extinguished and no injuries were reported. The family's missing corgie concerned these neighbors as they gathered in the Abbey Point cul-de-sac. Temperatures were at 16 degrees with a light snowfall when firemen arrived tonight at about 9 p.m.
(The photo at right may look like a roaring conflagration. It's not. It's a time exposure of the lights on the firetrucks, as seen through the woods.)

Winner of cutest Santa picture contest

Hands down winner in this year's search for the cutest kid on Santa's lap is the newest member of our extended family: seven-month-old Landon A. Jerdee. Parents are Adam and Kim. Stan and Kathleen would be grand uncle and aunt.

Happy Birthday, Sosie!

She'll be here Friday or early Saturday morning for a romp in the snow and a trip to see Mom in Alexandria. We always get a chance to see the Twin Cities as tourists when Sosie comes and this year will be no exception: James J. Hill House and the Mill City Museum have reservations in our name. Virg is driving.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here's what two feet of snow look like. . .

Based on the emails and internet traffic, it appears out-of-towners are more curious about the recent snowfall than we are. That being the case, here it is. This was sent to us by an Alexandria friend to help visualize what two feet of snow actually look like. We did not take this picture. We only had 21.5 inches in Shakopee.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Katie misses by one. . . again

Buffalo did in St. Paul Katie today, they won the only game she didn't pick correctly. Katie got five out of six correct, and not enough to win the big money.
She says she hesitated about picking Cleveland to win that one -- Buffalo has goofed her up before -- and they did it again.
We'll try again next week.

There's a hole in the roof

We'll be heading to Canterbury this morning for breakfast and to enter these predictions for today's NFL noon games. (The Vikings are scratched, due to the deflation of the Metrodome.)
Winners are in red:
Atlanta at CarolinaCincinnati at Pittsburgh
Cleveland at Buffalo
Green Bay at Detroit
Oakland at Jacksonville
Tampa Bay at Washington

Starlight movers

Shakopee received 21.5 inches of snow during the weekend blizzard, leading the entire state. The record fall has postponed the Vikings noon kickoff today, as officials fear the accumulation may crush the inflated dome's Teflon roof. They want to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing deflation that occurred the year after it was opened in 1982. The usual procedure is to superheat the interior of the dome, causing the snow to melt and drain off, avoiding the necessity of hiring luckless temporaries to go up there and shovel it. Others believe the postponement is a thinly-disguised ruse to give Brett Farve an extra day to heal his shoulder.
After a brief delay yesterday, the airport was reopened to a full schedule of flights. Snow-fevered movie buffs made it out to Blockbuster to rent the 1970 movie "Airport," which was shot at the Minneapolis airport starring Burt Lancaster as the guy responsible for clearing the runways during an epic blizzard.
Overnight, government workers had reopened all the state and county roads and the association bobcat and crew (above) arrived to clear us out by 5:30 a.m., making it possible to attend regular Sunday services.
Airport: The first Airport film focuses on a 12-hour period at a major airport where manager Mel Bakersfeld (Burt Lancaster) must deal with a powerful blizzard, a blocked runway and a mentally disabled passenger (Van Heflin) carrying a bomb. The sequel features Charlton Heston as Alan Murdock, an air traffic controller who tries to save a doomed 747 after the pilot of a private plane (Dana Andrews) has a heart attack and crashes into the 747's cockpit.
Wondering how it is going in the icebox of the nation, International Falls? Here's Wayne's note from there this morning:
Shakopee is the leader with 21.5 inches. Hope you stocked up the larder. I woke up early as usual to 18 below but no snow. I think we have about 35 inches to date. The new snow blower has had five workouts at the various places of MaryAnn's in Ranier.
I have a challenge for you. The blower has 368 cubic centimeters. I have googled several conversion sites and cannot fine one that converts cc's to horse power. I suspect it is 6 to 8 hp and am just curious. Next time your dough is rising and you can spare a minute you may want to solve that riddle.
MaryAnn just booked tickets to Playa del Carmen for Feb 2nd for two weeks. We will fly outa here. Friends of ours have gone there many times. The hotel we may stay at does not take reservations. It is mostly Europeans and Canadians and a laid-back area close to the resorts that sell packages. We booked one night with one of them and then we will go find a place. A little more adventurous than we are used to. Our friends will have been there five days already.
We may go to Miami in March, don't know the mode of transportation yet. I do not like driving in the Miami area and in South beach parking is always an issue. Get this; they do not recycle in South Beach Florida. Probably because it is so congested. Everything goes in the garbage can.
That's the green update for today. Where's Al Gore when you need him?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blizzard caps excellent sleep-over

She slept 10 hours last night and no wonder. Dancing with Birdie to Elton John followed by a trip to Nordstrom for a pair of tennies and a ride on the Pepsi Orange Streak at the Mall of America Park and it was curtains for our girl. We confined Birdie to her kennel overnight, but she was happy to do the honors this morning, waking Emily to six inches of new-fallen snow, blowing like a blizzard outdoors. We're eating pancakes this morning, then we'll buckle up for an adventurous drive through the snow to Eden Prairie, concluding this excellent sleep-over.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ready for school. . .

Our four-year-old showed up for a Friday overnight all dressed up like a preppy, so we had to take her picture, of course. She's carrying Shel Silverstein's old standby, a favorite of our girls: The Giving Tree. Off camera, her grandma keeps telling her to smile naturally, waving a polka-dot balloon, and grandpa won't stop flashing away. It isn't easy being put on a pedestal in the kitchen and having your picture taken. Ask grandma. When the camera was turned on her. . .

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

More from The Upper Crust

Things went very well today at Danny's 10th Floor Bakery. Actually, today was a Holy Day (Immaculate Conception, if memory serves) so Baker Dan was at Mass for most of the morning and excused from his chores.
Meanwhile, the Protestant Baker did his best to incorporate some baking tips gleaned from relatives and the internet. The results were spectacular, compared to what they've been, and when Dan came back from the church in his building, he was stunned by the sight of the beautiful golden loaves on the racks. Unfortunately, he forgot himself on his way home and gobbled a full meal, realizing his error only after the smell of fresh bread hit him at the door, so Stan was left to enjoy the fresh fare alone. The other loaf was designated for Aaron, across the hall. We believe it is Hanukkah over there.

We've got the goofy oven to settle down to a consistent 350 degrees now. A little re-programming did it. So that was good. And we had better luck with our rising in the coolish condo by taking Sosie's suggestion that we use the Microwave Oven as a proofing box. In other words, get it nice and cozy warm in the microwave and then put the dough in it and shut the door for both rises. It worked GREAT. First we boiled water in a Pyrex dish to heat the box, then left it in there next to the rising dough. It was warm and moist and draft free, perfect for growing yeast. Thanks, Sosie!

Sosie's proof box. Raw dough rising in the microwave. That's a Pyrex
bread pan with hot water in it on the left. 
We've also improved our kneading technique by watching some pros do it on YouTube. More love, less leverage, we've found. The result was large silky balls of dough. Soo. . . it was all good today.
We got a thoughtful note today from Michelle, Mom's companion at Clearwater. She writes:

In a mixer or bread machine, layer

1 1/3 cups finger temp water (from glass measuring cup)
2 Tbsp butter
2 c. flour
2 Tbsp of sugar
2 Tsp of yeast
2 Tsp Salt
2 c. flour

Make sure sugar and yeast touch eachother, Then mix
Put bread machine on dough cycle or mix in mixer and rise in Warm oven for about 1 Hour then punch it down and rise it again. ( I warm the oven to 200 then shut it off before putting in the bread)

Bake 350 for 25 mins

Perfect everytime

Michelle....I make my own bread almost everyday...much better than the store =)

Stan says: Thanks, Michelle. Sounds great. Unfortunately we don't have a mixer or a breadmaker, we bake like the pioneers with their unpredictable woodstoves, but we are going to invest in a real wooden breadboard soon. And then of course, Christmas is coming!