Sunday, February 28, 2010

We got one too, Randy!

In-N-Out Burgers is a West Coast institution. And one of the keys to their success has been keeping it simple. There are only four food items on the In-N-Out menu: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Double-Double and French Fries.
In-N-Out compliments the food with the standard array of Coca-Cola beverages and three shakes: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. And that’s the menu in its entirety…

We were introduced to this not-so-fast food venue last week in a posh Glendale, California commercial development on Brand. Our meals were fresh and cheap. There's a lot of quality control evident in the store. Even the washroom water temperatures were just right. Very clean. Very bright. Very special.
We got a bit envious when our friend Randy introduced us to this popular 60-year-old family business that even Jay Leno likes to mention from time to time. Then today we discovered we had one of our very own right here in Tucson.
We dived right in. We each had a shake, burger and split a box of fries. $10. Then somebody came in after us and ordered their fries "Animal Style." What??
We'll try that next time.

Our stuff on stage

Jennifer and Joe are preparing Joe's condo in Hopkins for sale. When it came time to stage it, Jennifer knew right where to look for stuff. Mom and Stan's house in Shakopee.
We gave permission from Tucson and in the still of the night, Jennifer and Joe drove away with whatever they wanted. (We warned the neighbors.) Furniture and accessories. What fun, we thought.
Today we saw this result (above). Here's the email note Jennifer sent with the picture:

Hi Mom and Stan,
I'm sitting here on my couch with my feet up on your coffee table (shoes off!) which is on your rug with your chair and end table next to it and your artwork hanging above my head while enjoying a roaring fire. Ahhh... Our living room looks great! Thanks!
Here's a photo. More will be taken later as each room gets finished.
Love you two so much! Can't wait for you to see it in person.
The stuff looks great on their new bamboo floor. Now if someone will just come and buy the condo quick. We'd love them to have a good sale and move on with their lives. We'd also like our stuff back. :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thanks, Randy

We're home again in Tucson after a wonderful week in LA, courtesy of our West Coast host. Life-long friend Randy moved to LA almost 20 years ago and successfully established himself in the entertainment industry. Despite potential life-altering experiences in the rough and tumble of highly-competitive pursuits, Randy never lost his Midwestern values of loyalty, openness and generosity. That always makes for a great time for the shy couple from Shakopee, eager to associate with the excitement of Hollywood magic without actually dipping in. We're invited back every year with the admonishment: "Stay longer next time." Nice.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Palm Desert

We pulled off I-10 for a short visit to Palm Desert, California, and were struck by all the lush greenness in the middle of nowhere. This manicured municipal lawn goes on and on, the result of generous, regular watering. Here water means wealth. A spectacular town square fountain boasts of limitless treasure pumped from underground into this rain-free climate. Nearby grows a civic date grove . . . you're invited to "enter date grove at your own risk." Do dates fall and do harm, a visitor wonders? The town itself is actually one big jail. All the residents are locked up and guarded in neat high-walled blocks known as gated communities, secured with electronic devices. Residents may be released on their own recognizance for visits into the outside world after swiping proper proof of authorization to do so through card-readers controlling the gates.
The weather was perfect. Parks abound, as do sculptures and artwork. A big-hearted Birdie, always looking to make a new friend, got a stony response from this jaded park resident.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bargain hunting in Egypt

Stan's sister Solveig and her husband Bill just returned from Egypt. They brought back gifts, and this story:
Over a decade ago, cash-strapped Zach [their son] told us that a college student could only afford to buy Christmas gifts from the dollar store.  He proposed a new Christmas tradition of exchanging dollar gifts:  No limit on the number of gifts, but a gift could cost no more than a dollar, with the exception of any gifts for the college student.  We enthusiastically responded, ignoring the exception.  Since then, Christmas has been stress free, for if you should select the wrong color or style or item, so what?  It was only a dollar.
Travel to countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Mexico, Columbia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Kenya, and now Egypt provide Christmas shopping opportunities every time we step off the tourist bus.  So what can you get for a dollar in Egypt?
(Photo above) Starting at noon and going clockwise: 10-15 “papyrus” bookmarks; 3 miniature metal pyramids; 2-3 necklaces;  4-5 scarab bracelets for good luck; 20 postcards; 1 beaded fancy necklace; large carved scarab for really good luck; 1 sandalwood bracelet.
These prices are hardly fixed, but the “one dollar, one dollar” starts the bartering, with many a trick to come.  Our tour guide allowed this vendor on board the bus if he promised to stick to the dollar price.  As he approached the rear of the bus, a trusting tourist asked, “and how much are the postcards?” “Two dollars.”  A roar of laughter and a “WHAT?” shot out of my section of the bus; the price quickly dropped back to one dollar, and the tour guide dismissed him (below) with an amused admonishment.
By the way, for two dollars I purchased a zippered cotton bag with a cartoonish recreation of a beautiful scene from Sennedjem’s tomb at Deir el Medina.  The caption reads “sennedjem and his wife adoring Osiris and by five genil of the underwarld (hieroglyphs) ra.”  Fortunately, I can’t give this $2 item as a Christmas gift , so it stays with me to give us a giggle when we remember the bargains of Egypt.  
Also BTW, the trip was incredible with best-ever snorkeling in the Red Sea and astounding antiquities from way the heck before the Hebrews and Israelites appeared, as shown to us by a people full of good humor and lightheartedness.

News from the 'hood

Our Shakopee neighbor Tom Story worries that we may lose touch with our Minnesota roots, so he thoughtfully sent this recent photograph of the front of our house. Tom and his wife, Sandy, will be visiting us in Tucson next week. We'll have plenty of ice for the occasion.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Kathleen and Randy headed down to the garden store yesterday to fill a back yard pot. The big star in this arrangement is actually a vegetable: kale. Can you count the turtles sunning themselves in the reflecting pool below? We got 25.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rich and powerful

Just a few blocks up Doheny Road off the famed Sunset Strip sits Greystone Mansion, the seat of power for decades in Los Angeles and the site of a 30s murder-suicide linked to the Teapot Dome scandal. It was built by an LA oil baron who was among the wealthiest and most powerful Americans of his day.
We got into the mood for some LA noir last night watching the durable "Sunset Boulevard," which mentions many of the addresses in the Los Feliz neighborhood where we're spending this week with an old friend.
Today we drove past some of those places, then down Sunset Boulevard to see this fabulous garden and mansion now owned by the city of Beverly Hills.
Commanding a sweeping view across the entire city and on to the ocean, the real estate overlooks Hollywood Boulevard where tourists scrum in search of glamor and the essence of this town. Few seem to make it this far; it's a pity.
Looking south toward downtown LA skyline. To see entire album of photos we took today, click here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

30 weeks

Erin Moe, the youngest daughter of our Shakopee neighbors, demonstrates a 30-week profile for her husband Jason. Her parents, Tom and Sandy, will be joining Kathleen and Stan in Tucson shortly. Grandparenting will no doubt be a hot topic.
Erin writes:
As far as my pregnancy, I am feeling really good! I am 30 weeks now! Wow it goes fast! I have attached a picture that Jason took last weekend so you can see my progress. Enjoy the rest of your stay in the sunny south! Talk to you soon!

L.A. Noir

Regular rainfall has washed away a 10-year LA drought and worked wonders in Randy's garden. Yesterday's menu of blooms featured bougainvillea, iris, azalea, morning glories, hibiscus, geraniums and others we can't name. Beside a clump of prairie grass rests an engraved stone marker for Skippy, Randy's beloved Schipperke.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Undertaker did a nice job with the rouge, don't you think?

Today's lazy afternoon snooze went largely uninterrupted, except for this rude intrusion by a lone female paparazzi.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It never rains in southern California...

At 5:30 p.m., Pacific Standard Time today, St. Paul Katie was just $14 ahead at The Church of Good Poker in Randy's LA backyard.
We blew into town on The Ten last night, just in time for a sudden dousing by a rare West Coast rainstorm that obscured our Las Filas exit and created a moment of anxiety on an otherwise smooth journey from Phoenix.
The sun was bright and warm this morning as we picked and squeezed a dozen oranges and generally set up for the afternoon's Big Game.
Kathleen's tablemates arrived promptly at 3 p.m. She remembers some from two years back, a couple are new to her. She's carefully studying their tendencies and tells, as we hope to report a major coup in time for dinner, when we will all retreat to a nearby Blair's restaurant where the players, joined by others, will lick wounds and replay all the day's Bad Beats to their hearts content.
Randy's garden continues to flourish. Compare the prior post below and see how the new bushes are filling out. California is coming out of a ten year drought; his ivy climbs and the bougainvillea blooms.

Whose father sold Dad our Edsel?

Among the guests at yesterday's Surprise, Arizona, party were Mike Foss and Phil Noonan, a couple of Stan and Sosie's classmates. Mike was Stan's classmate and brother to Roger Foss, Steve's classmate. Mike now lives in Tucson, as does his sister, Paula. Phil Noonan, a radiologist in a Phoenix hospital, was Solveig's classmate and the son of the late owner of Alexandria's Noonan Motors. Phil's Dad was a great salesman. In 1957, he sold Erling Rolfsrud the first 1958 Edsel -- from a brochure. We waited 3 months for delivery and yes, we were the first on our block to have one. Phil's remark yesterday: "Do you know what that Edsel would be worth today?"
Surprise group. Phil, Mike, Stan, Brian Berglund, Tom Tessmer, Sara Smith Sevey.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Heading to LA Poker garage

Kathleen and Stan are driving west on I-10 this morning to the City of Angels, where Kathleen's tablemates await another game in Randy's garage.
Stan's college roommate, now a screenwriter (at head of table, above), converted his Las Filez garage into a poker palace a couple of years ago. They've been dealing Hold 'em there ever since. (Check the February, 2008 blog entry for more details.)
We'll spend a few days there. Stan intends to explore nearby Greystone Park, site of a famous murder case in the 1930s and home to a fabulous mansion with ocean views.
On the way to LA, we'll stop in Surprise, Arizona, for lunch with high school classmates at Kokopelli.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sosie and Bill's friends wonder too

Zach's wedding last summer was a great opportunity to meet some of Solveig and Bill's Sunol friends and neighbors. Among them were Gary and Maryanne Campano, who live just down the canyon. She served coffee at the wedding and is pictured with her husband. They haven't heard from the Egypt travelers yet either. Here's her note:

Hi Stan,
Bill and Solveig take such interesting trips and it's always fun listening to their travels. We are doing fine, except for Gary, who has a sinus infection that is affecting his ears so he can barely hear. Hopefully it will clear up soon. We enjoyed meeting both of you.
Take care, 

Monday, February 15, 2010

So long, Steve

Zipping through his daily crossword puzzle while surrounded by the new neutral carpeting, Brother Steve contemplated his return to Minnesota this morning, where, according to his sister Linda in Windom, school buses are two hours late, owing to the latest snowfall. Meanwhile, Birdie contemplated losing her new best friend. She enjoyed Steve a whole lot this trip, especially when he would leave a door open so she could slip outside and enjoy the exciting wildlife smells. Yesterday, in a final act of glory on the Par 4 Saddlebrooke No. 1, Steve executed a brilliant tap-in birdie...  He'll be back soon for more.

Friday, February 12, 2010

And the pool table goes . . .

Out goes Mr. Pink

The carpet men are here this morning. The whole house, including this staircase, is torn up. Should be done this afternoon. Steve will go golfing, Stan and Birdie will watch the process. Stay turned for the results.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Handover Rehearsal in Punta Gorda

From left, Becky Lynn and Virgil Rolfsrud; Becky and Al Jerdee

Stan's sister, Becky Jerdee writes from Venice, Fla.:

Today the two Beckys, Al, and Virg met for lunch at Fisherman's Wharf in Punta Gorda to plan the "Linda handover" that will take place on Feb. 23.

On Feb. 21, Becky and Al will pick up Linda at the Tampa airport, enjoy her company in Venice for almost three days until they meet Virg and Becky Lynn at Fisherman's Wharf. Five reservations for a sunset cruise await the party. After that Virg and Becky Lynn will take Linda to their North Fort Meyers home where they'll enjoy her company for a couple more days. On Friday, they'll take her to the Fort Meyers airport for her flight home.

And that's the news from Florida. Have a happy Valentine weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Look Ma! Steve's grillin' steaks!

Steve arrived on theTucson shuttle this afternoon, just in time to fire up the grill and make himself at home. Meanwhile, his sous chef sister-in-law sauted the onions and the mushrooms while Stan made the manhattans and shot these photos, being very careful to get Steve's good side. Steve is here until Monday, intending to make serious use of the local fairways.

Second place? The Food Channel

When you're done with the scratching and licking, when all the wastebaskets have been sniffed, and when chewing your cow's ear gets boring, there's just not much left to do but stretch out and watch a little tv. Favorite channel? Animal Planet, of course. The fish stories are nice, but there is nothing quite as exciting as a big cat horror show.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

More Plate Mates

They eat off beautiful plates in Texas as well, it turns out. Here's Lorlee's dinnerware. Lorlee writes:
Stan and Kathleen,
So here is the vegetable version.
And no granite at this house -- just the only yellow corian countertop in all of Dallas. (Matches my car).


Plate mates

Upon seeing Kathleen's new dinnerware posted below, sister-in-law Becky Lynn checks in:
Gee Kathleen, perhaps we have similar taste. Maybe it's Swedish instinct.
From Florida.
Becky Lynn
Hi Becky, love your pattern. . . and the new granite too! 
What's for supper? 
Bro Stan

Happy Birthday, Heidi

Kathleen's niece (by her sister, Mary Lou), Heidi Brewer King celebrates a birthday today at home in Durango, Colorado. Heidi works at the new Mercy hospital in a very key role (of course). Have a good one today, Sam and Heidi! Below, she shares a cup with her aunt at the hospital coffee shop.

Coming soon to a Shakopee table

Gone are the days of hunting through our Shakopee dinnerware to find enough without chips or cracks to set a table for company. Yesterday Kathleen brought home a new set from Pier One, and here they are. This was no impulse purchase, she's been studying the pattern for a week now. She likes the versatile range of colors and the unique shape of the cup and bowl. They're more understated than our present bright red and yellow set. Stan likes them too, but the sight of them just makes him start wondering what's for supper. Unfortunately, Kathleen had Pier One box them for Minnesota.

Monday, February 08, 2010

John is done

John the Plumber put the final touches on the sink in the guest bath this morning so it is all set for Steve's inspection Wednesday. Please remember that this was a black and pink bathroom. (Photo at right) Design and accessories coordinated by Kathleen, tile job by Ruben, paint by Stan, and plumbing by John, of course.

UPS package from Minnesota

And so, with the afternoon arrival of the UPS truck, ends a three-week saga that started with a simple idea: "Let's stop here at the Oro Valley Pearle Vision and have my frames adjusted." (see Feb. 4 post below)

Today's note from the Eden Prairie Pearle Vision in Minnesota reads:
Mrs. Rolfsrud
Sorry for the delay and all the problems. I think these should feel tighter on you also.
Thank you for being so kind.
Caroline K.
Lab. Mgr.

Kathleen is all smiles this afternoon. Her glasses feel great... and won't be needing further adjustment.

Bev's grandkids

Isaac, Abby, and Evan Oxentenko
This trio belongs to Stan's friend Bev Roers Korkowski. We think it's her grandchildren. Her blog (below) doesn't say though. The hard part is that these are not Groucho glasses, they are Harry Potter glasses.