Monday, May 31, 2010

P.G. Peony

Ready to burst, this pond-side peony is coming late to the game, surrounded by other players taking full advantage of our early spring season. Letters from their relatives in Iowa say they are long overdue, it is time to deliver. Eager clematis have shown the way, pungent purple chive have gone to head and the mid-wife bees are barely able to manage their rounds. So much to do. So much to see.

Dad and Jim

"On behalf of the President, the Armed Forces of the United States and a Grateful Nation, I present you this Flag, a symbol of our Great Republic, for which our Departed Comrade has honorably served." --- words spoken by the Captain of the Color Guard, on two occasions, to the late Mrs. Florence Neilson.

These two American flags, folded into the traditional military tricorne shape by two separate Rifle Squads at Fort Snelling, honor the memory of a father and his son. They are lovingly kept at our house, a treasured record of two lives risked in service to others.
We fly Old Glory on Memorial Day to salute our nation and those serving it -- but we especially remember Leonard O. and James John Neilson.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

News from Wisteria Lane

It would take seven years before our wisteria cutting would come into bloom, the experts told us in 2003, and we said we would wait. (Some varieties take as long as 20, some as few as 3. The world's largest wisteria is in California and covers an acre. See Wikipedia for more of this stuff.) We stood by patiently until finally, this Memorial Day weekend, we saw what looks like the beginnings of a matured woody wisteria bush climbing on our storm deck, almost ready to strike up a full chorus of purple blooms, like the mass we saw in the ad. The tough, grasping vines have scarcely begun this year's twists and turnings, but hello, color of our future. More waiting. Desperate housewives, not quite yet!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Family favorites

These family friends turned out Sunday for Mom's 90th birthday. From left, Helen and Murrae Freng and Lavina Martinson. Murrae directed the high school and church choirs in Alexandria until leaving in 1965 to head the Minnesota State High School League for many years. Lavina's family was even larger than the Rolfsrud Eight. She loves to tell the 1950s story about driving a carload to our rural homestead to butcher 100 free-range chickens in a grisly all-day assembly-line operation. We killed, scalded, plucked, gutted and preserved the flock in one day, sharing the result with the Martinsons. Swept up by the excitement was a luckless neighbor kid from the city, John Helgeson. He was not at all happy, Lavina recalled Sunday. "I didn't know we had to PICK chickens," grumbled the reluctant volunteer. "I thought we were just driving out to the Rolfsruds to PICK UP chickens."

Thursday, May 27, 2010


and Gladys, Joyce, Phyllis. . . 
and Nancy. . . and Iver and Blaine. . .
and so many more. They came from South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa . . and Florida too. Mom's 90th birthday party on Sunday brought in nieces and a grand niece too. There was cake for everyone, and an opportunity for her children, grandchildren, friends, relatives and others to say nice things and remember a long life well-spent. See more pictures by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Breck graduates law school

New lawyer
Stan's niece, Breck Rolfsrud, received her Juris Doctorate from Hamline Law School in St. Paul Saturday. She graduated cum laude, which means she was in the top 20 percent of her class. She's now clerking for Jones and Magnus in Mankato and is studying for the bar exam in July. (Her Pop passed the bar on the first go-round when he took it about 100 years ago. No pressure, Breck) We're very proud of Breck, and were able to congratulate her at her grandma's birthday party on Sunday. That's her new husband, (August wedding) Mitch, above, in his usual supportive role. We were excited about their young lives and optimistic about their futures on Easy Street, but then we got home and read the headlines. Dang the newspapers anyway.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kathleen!

Yesterday, Stan's mom had her 90th birthday. Today, it's Kathleen's birthday. Mom had a big event at church and her home on Sunday, and we'll deliver those pix shortly, but today it's all about Kathleen.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Beverly's Birthday Preview

We had a ton of fun today at Mom's 90th Birthday Party, and took a ton of photos too. Here's the mob scene at Clearwater. More later. Much more.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


When California Aunt Sosie researched her trip to Minnesota, she thought Punch Pizza, with its 800 degree wood-fired oven, might be a fun place to visit when she got here. It was. Yesterday the Virgil Rolfsruds, recently returned from their Florida winter, joined the Stan Rolfsruds for a pizza treat on Sosie. As luck would have it, the Eden Prairie Punch Pizza is located across the street from Cherice and Lacey's home, so they joined the group as well. (They are Virg and Becky's child and grandchild.) That's Grandma Becky, in the lower right photo, prepping her blue-eyed granddaughter for the closeup to be shot by her great aunt, Kathleen. Later, the group adjourned to Virg and Becky's EP house where their handsome son, Aaron, wowed the crowd with his buff, athletic appearance. Ain't family great? Now on to Alexandria for Grandma Bev's 90th!

Friday, May 21, 2010


She arrived on the midnight plane from California this morning, enjoyed a breakfast while watching the ponies exercise at the racetrack, shopped some sundries at the Party Warehouse and is now buried deep in the family archives she spread out on Katie's basement poker table, sorting and categorizing a couple of bins worth of family history. Then it is off to Punch Pizza in Eden Prairie for a laid-back early dinner with Virg, Becky Lynn, Cherice and Lacey. Yes, Sister Sosie is in town and there's plenty to do. Tomorrow we pick up Mom's 90th Birthday Cakes at the Woulet Bakery so that bright and early on Sunday morning we can deliver them to Shalom Lutheran Church in Alexandria to feed the multitude of celebrants.
Because we've done a careful headcount and coordinated diligently with genuine church ladies, we shouldn't need a loaves and fishes miracle to satisfy the masses between Sunday's services. But just in case, please remember us in your prayers.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Maxwell sings in Spring Concert

Tonight's Southwest High Music Department Spring Choir concert featured an up and coming young tenor, who also sang a baritone solo. He's Maxwell Harrison Tong, grandson of Stan and Kathleen. His special moment came in a rendition of Red River Valley, when he was one of six young men to sing solo parts. Maxwell came on later with the Men's Choir to sing in three additional songs. "It was really fun to hear Maxwell tonight," Grandma said. "It was a very diverse program."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Color it sunny

When you're working on the new coloring book full of problems and puzzles, it helps if you're dressed in a tie-dyed hippie outfit that grandma snagged at the big craft sale at Canterbury Park. Gorgeous weather made life easy today: cards and coloring on the bright, warm porch, then a change into lighter play clothes and a dash off to Huber Park. Never mind that the cell phones don't work, the GPS is busted, the Twins lost to Toronto, Kathleen has a sinus infection, the markets are down. Bring on summer! We're ready! Yippee!
Peace, brothers and sisters!

We can see you . . .

Her momma left her camouflaged in the Japanese Maple, but that wasn't enough to hide this fledgling robin from a predator camera. Spring is busting out all over. Time to put the screens on the porch where this photo was taken through the storm window. Soon we'll be napping here on warm summer days and this robin will be sporting a new red vest.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Up On the Rooftop . . .

The British Petroleum Gulf fiasco provided a big window to high-end business artifice when skilled executives were called upon to dodge responsibility, modify perceptions and blow smoke in testimony before their Congressional co-conspirators. The Abbey Point rooftops hosted a similar circular firing squad last week as almost a dozen inspectors, representatives and lawyers swarmed the premises to prove that their respective business was not at fault for the shoddy result claimed by all the roof owners.
The photo below was taken in 2005, when getting it right the first time may have been the best business practice.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Future dog-sitter

She was about 20 years old when Stan hired her as a "Girl Friday" in the late 1970s. Laurie Hartmann is still with the newspaper company, so when we get together for dinner now and then there's always plenty to talk about. Including dogs. Laurie kept our previous poodle, Hoover, a number of times while we were vacationing, spoiling the lucky duck in her Prior Lake home -- with the loving assistance of her nearby parents who provided day care. (Her late father would warm the car before picking up the pampered pet for the day shift.) She's bonding with Birdie now and says she's ready to take her on too. Not sure she knows what she's in for, (Birdie's still a bit mischievous) but she's always fielded everything thrown at her so far. She continues to be a dear friend and we enjoy her company.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Tony!

Kathleen with her nephew, Tony Brewer, who is having a birthday today in Arizona. . . where he deputy sheriffs near the border in Yuma. In this 2006 photo, Tony is wearing an "Old Navy" shirt. Indeed. He served four years in the real deal.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

He's here!

Landon Allen Jerdee
Landon Allen Jerdee is here! Good lungs--he's crying loudly so everyone is HAPPY! 6 lbs. 10 oz. 18 1/2 inches long.
Parents are Adam and Kim Jerdee, Des Moines. Adam is Stan's nephew.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bob's ex still useful

Last night Bob Suel dropped by to check up on Stan. Bob worked for Stan for 35 years at the newspaper company and he's still interested in Stan's general health and welfare. Over the years he's been a regular at Stan's working man's basement bar; he's responsible for dubbing it "The Green Room." Bob's always welcome there, after all, who better to have a beer with than someone whose initials are "B.S."?
After catching up on the latest news (delays on Highway 169 due to a tragic stabbing and subsequent police fatal shooting in Shakopee yesterday) and family updates, Bob wanted to know what productive, interesting things the retired publisher has been doing with his time. It took a while to come up with a proper answer, but eventually Bob was led to the adjacent furnace room to inspect the new hand-painted cement floor, now drying after a third coat of poly.
Hey, at least it's not basket-weaving. Yet.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Go Fish, Grandpa!

Do you have a Hammerhead Shark?
It's raining again today. No outdoor activities, unless you count walking to the mailbox. Perfect for a ruthless, take-no-prisoners game of Go Fish! with your granddaughter. Then the jello du jour: yellow.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Stan's Mother, Beverly Brown Rolfsrud, will be 90 on May 23!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Cold day in May. . .

Warm fire, a double-header and fresh banana bread. . .
The first Twins rain out since 1980 has its silver lining. The cold weather and threat of snow flurries (goodness) means a Saturday indoors, watching a double-header and enjoying fresh banana bread. C'mon over!

Friday, May 07, 2010

. . .and grape walnut salad.

The EchoPress ran this lovely Clara Bartos obit this week. The Rolfsruds grew up a few miles from the Bartos farm near Alexandria. They attended one-room country school with her children.
Clara Katherine (Klimek) Bartos, 90, died Monday, April 26, 2010 at Knute Nelson Home in Alexandria, surrounded by family and friends.
Clara was born November 9, 1919, in Evansville Township, Douglas County to Joseph and Mary (Loeffler) Klimek, the fourth of five children. She attended country school District #32, and graduated from Brandon High School. Clara and her brothers joined 4-H Club. Their leader was none other than “Dad” Erickson, founder of 4-H Clubs of America.
Clara was married to John Bartos on October 16, 1939 at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Brandon. The couple lived on a farm in Hudson Township for 43 years before they moved to a house near Highway 29, south of Alexandria.
She is survived by her five children, LuAnn Schrader of Easton, Duane (Barb) Bartos of Roberts, WI, Lorlee Bartos of Dallas, TX, Mary Jo Bartos of Minnetonka, Steve (Doreen) Bartos of rural Alexandria; six grandchildren, Tim Bartos of New Richmond, WI, Tammy (Kent) Bruesewitz of Hammond, WI, Chris Bartos of Baldwin, WI, Bil (Terri) Schrader of Easton, Lyn (Jeff) Thompson of St. Paul, Chuck Schrader of Duluth, GA; four great-granddaughters, Kaitlyn and Mackenzie Bruesewitz, Carol Schrader, Elsie Thompson; Jim (Thelma) Klimek of Evansville, sister-in-law, Rosella (Howard) Oeltjen of Glenwood; numerous nieces and nephews.
Clara was preceded in death by her husband, John, in 1993; son-in-law, Richard Schrader in 1993; three siblings, Johanna Pehan, Katherine Czech and Philip Klimek.
We remember Mom as a great cook who came from a family of great cooks. She loved red velvet cake, cucumber cream cheese open face sandwiches, and grape walnut salad. She loved Harvard beets and even convinced the kitchen at Windmill Ponds to serve Harvard beets while she lived there. Her potato salad was out of this world and her coleslaw dressing recipe was exceptional served on cabbage that was precisely chopped. I remember as I was growing up the wonderful breads, buns and sweet rolls that came from her kitchen. She received many ribbons on her baked goods at the county fair.
Clara was an exceptional seamstress and “patcher.” There were many of Dad’s overalls that survived for years because of patch upon patch. She loved making quilts. All of the kids and grandkids had quilts and throws she had pieced together. I remember little Stevie standing next to the wash line, thumb in mouth, fingering the corner of his blanket when Mother washed his blanket. Mom was an active member of her Homemaker’s Extension Club for many, many years. She was active in the Forada Senior Citizens and Clara and John were named Douglas County Outstanding Senior Citizens in 1986.
She composed witty poems and humorous writings for many occasions throughout the years. She dressed up for Halloween. Who can forget when Mother dressed up as Monica Lewinsky with lamp shades in the right places? She had so much fun with the blue sweater with hula dancers on it. She made a small bra to cover the exposed parts.
Her penmanship was distinctive, neat and legible to the end. Her voice and laugh were distinctive. I remember when Rosemary married Earl, she said, “That laugh!” She loved to play cards… Clara was a kazoo player “extraordinaire,” and belonged to the “Jolly Jokers” kazoo group that entertained in many places. On your birthday she would call you on the phone and play Happy Birthday on her kazoo.
Mother was very direct. You knew exactly where she stood on all issues or situations. She wrote many letters to the editor that expressed her opinion on all political issues. Clara took her Catholic religion very seriously. She prayed for everyone, you included. Two years ago when Lyn and Jeff got married at Lutsen, Mom was listening on Lorlee’s cell phone and praying the rosary. Last Sunday she told her granddaughter, Lyn, this prayer must be included in her obituary: “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and the whole world.”
Rest in peace, Mom.
A parish prayer service was held on Thursday, April 29 at 7 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial was held on Friday, April 30 at 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Alexandria with the Rev. Fred Fink officiating.
Pallbearers were Chris Bartos, Timothy Bartos, Charles Schrader, William Schrader, Lynnae Schrader and Tamara Bruesewitz. Entombment was at St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Arrangements are with Anderson Funeral Home in Alexandria;

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Birthday flocking

Our neighbors continue to dominate the news. This morning the St. Michael's Youth flamingoed the front lawn in honor of Tom's 63rd birthday. Kathleen and Sandy admired the fine contrasting effect of pinks and greens. No sign of the birthday boy. Cake tonight.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

In case you missed it. . .

Last night's highlight during the Minnesota Twins victory over the Detroit Tigers was the national anthem, which featured the vocal stylings of Michael Nelson, the grandson of our neighbors, Tom and Sandy Story. He made his appearance on the field, on the Twins scoreboard (above) and in this photo (below) with his family, who found dry seats in the new ballpark. Tonight we'll join Tom and Sandy at the clubhouse for Abbey Point Night and, no doubt, a reprise of last night's major league event. The photographer is Michael's Mom, Holly. She captured a rainbow during the evening's on-again off-again rain showers. (Click to enlarge it.) Michael is in the light blue Twins shirt and shorts in the center of the picture above.

Radio Days

Years ago, when people actually listened to the radio and our daughter, Missy, was actually a disc jockey, she had a big fan listening in Faribault. The radio days are gone, but Anita and Missy have become good friends, and now it is an interest in children, not so much music, that they share.

Monday, May 03, 2010

What could possibly go wrong here?

What could possibly go wrong here? This is a 4-year-old's party. In moments, the fancy custom-decorated birthday cake, delicately prepared and carefully delivered from Shakopee, will be upside-down on the floor, mired on the carpet. Fortunately, it was a frozen ice cream cake, so damage was limited. (Yes, that is Nemo the Gerbil, who has just released himself from a perch on Emily's shoulder, thus triggering a confusing sequence of events culminating in the dramatic cake spill.)

Missy led the recovery operation, below.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A hammock full of giggles and girls

Emily and her pals, Chloe and Mckenzie, shared a ride Sunday afternoon in Emily's Eden Prairie backyard. Emily is four now. Yes, we've got birthday party photos to share. Stand by.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

We have a winner!

Katie boxes Kentucky Derby Exacta
Kathleen won an Exacta box in the 135th Kentucky Derby today, picking Super Saver (1st) and Ice Box (2nd) from a field of 20 horses on a bold $12 wager. It took a while to find out who finished second, what with all the tv excitement over homespun jockey Calvin Burel winning three Kentucky Derbies out of four. Eventually we learned that Katie's $2 Exacta Box paid $152.40. We'll collect it tomorrow morning on the way to Emily's birthday party.
Early this afternoon, Kathleen made a quick visit to nearby Canterbury Park to place a couple of bets: one for her brother and one for herself. She's no stranger, a few years ago she hawked tip sheets there for Stan's newspaper company. Her biggest competitor was the Green Sheet tout, Jake Mauer, -- Joe's grandpa.
After today's win, Katie called her brother immediately to review the excitement.
Again this year, boring Stan placed no bet, but no matter. He'll still enjoy a victory pizza (sausage and bell peppers with extra cheese) at the clubhouse tonight.
St. Paul Katie chats with her brother, Churchill Dan, shortly after today's Kentucky Derby. That's a winner's smile. She also checked with the neighbors, Joe and Mina Daly. The best they did was a $2 horse coming in third.