Thursday, September 30, 2010

Small town, small world

Meet Marvin Link, Stan's seat neighbor at tonight's dismal (13-2) Twins game. Marvin is the son of the late Art Link, a governor and U.S. Congressman for the State of North Dakota. Art was a great friend of Halvor Rolfsrud, Stan's state senate uncle. Marvin grew up near Watford City, No. Dak., where Stan's grandparents homesteaded over 100 years ago and descendants still farm. Marvin knows all of Stan's cousins there, especially the late Louise Haugen, who raised a family near the Link farm at Alexander. Marvin mentioned Stan's cousins Arnold, Harold and Karen. And he knew the Veeder name. He moved to Milan, Minnesota, in 1974 and has been farming there since. Tonight he took a break from combining soybeans and drove with other family members (see photo below) to enjoy a Twins game and just happened to sit right next to Stan and Kathleen. Stan and Marvin (total strangers until tonight) started chatting about crops and farming and before long the family connection was made. Yes, there are Erling Rolfsrud books in the Link household. And yes, it is a small world.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gopher Tails. . . read by Papa

In the early 90s, the late Erling Rolfsrud recorded himself reading books he had authored. Here's a sample of his "Gopher Tails for Papa." It was recently digitized from the original analog tape. The clip is four minutes. The 1948 tale offers timely perspective on current immigrant language problems.

Americans in Paris

Sosie emerges from trip
We asked Sosie for a report on last week's visit to Paris. What was the most and best of it? And keep it brief. The photos were taken on Sosie's Iphone. Click to enlarge them.

Our visit to Paris still blurs across my movie theatre forehead.  So much, so I'll start with the practicals.  Last time we stayed in an intellectual area, triangulated among the Sorbonne, the American writers' cafes, and the Luxembourg gardens. We could walk easily to the Louvre, Notre Dame, etc, etc.  This time we stayed in a pithier area, the Montmartre, near the Moulin Rouge and other Toulouse-Lautrec subjects ('I paint things as they are.  I don't comment," he said), the erotica of Pigalle street, the scenes of 1940s French gangster movies, a vineyard, and the home of the Surrealist movement, all downhill from Sacre Couer (Sacred Heart of Christ church).  This time we took the underground Metro every day.  (see the picture of the Metropolitan station--see why we'd like to upgrade our bus station BBQ shelter to a metro look?  sigh.......)

Nice backyard addition
OK, now the most-ests, starting with the Goofiest.  At Versailles, the pop-art Murakami exhibit ( looked wacky amid the Louis XIV decor. Sometimes mixing stuff from various genres or ages works, sometimes not, or should I be more like Toulouse-Lautrec and let each beholder decide?

Best Museum:  The Carnavalet, an enchanting display of the history of Paris in two 17th-century mansions connected by an upper hallway through the school between them.  Beautifully done, not stodgy, and free!  But I felt chagrined at my stupidity, the confusion of centuries, the vagueness of my understanding of the French Revolution in relation to the American, the Ben Franklin and Tom Jefferson visits. In one room, I was so overwhelmed by what I did not know that I stole a look at the guard, thinking he must know what I barbarian I am.  He was picking his nose.  Deeply.

Most Endearing:  Listening to a full orchestra and choir perform Brahm's Requiem in the Chartres Cathedral.

Most Mystical: Although I will never live in one, I am drawn to cemeteries, and such a cemetery as Montmartre, I have never see in any country. So many souls crammed into artful places under a city bridge, attended by well-fed cats. The little phone-booth sized family chapels had black streaks inside where candles had burned over the centuries.  haha, I wonder if the spirits from so many centuries chat amongst themselves, and if they laughed at the tourist who paced back and forth looking for Degas' tomb, not noticing his tomb marked "de GAS" until she finally saw the bas relief of his familiar profile, complete with hat.  Uffda!

Best Surprise:  It was open garden week in Paris, so we could see some gardens not often available, such as the Princess Diana garden dedicated to her by the city after the accident.  The mansion gardens are typically formal, but the Diana garden is within the courtyard of a school and serves to teach children about growing food amongst flowers and greenery.

Highest Inspiration: It could be the 609-foot-high views from the rooftop deck Montparnasse Tower, but instead, I rate the Sunday open market for still holding a top billing in my mental movie theatre.  Glorious food brought into the city... breads, roasting chestnuts, cheeses, shiny jars of preserves and honey, fresh fish, all so lovely, but more than those, the vegetables were ABsolutely EXquisite and have me sorting seeds and planning my winter garden in triple-digit California heat.

There's much more, and more we missed, but I've got a garden to grow so I can cut my harvest with the folding French farmer's knife I got at the neighborhood grocery store, certain to be a most useful souvenir.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is there a color plan here?

Danny says he'd like to brighten his Lake Street condo. Likes florals and colors. Is this a starting point? What do you see here? Pick and choose.

Today is Virg's maturity date

Happy Birthday to Stan's baby brother as he banks an annualized return in his whole life portfolio.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Goodness, Gopher Tails in the collection plate!

Stan has remastered a digital version of his father, the late Erling Rolfsrud, reading his signature book, "Gopher Tails for Papa," copyright 1948. If you'd like to hear it, send him a note.

This is the day. . .

"This is the day which the Lord hath made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." -- Psalm 118:24
Though these skies are more characteristic of an Arizona sunset, they greeted Minnesota this morning, as if to advertise the upcoming full week of perfect fall weather we have been promised. Bring it on!

Happy Birthday, Amy Underwood

It's Stan and Kathleen's niece's birthday. Hope it's a good one in Des Moines, Amy! Here she is with her Mom (Stan's sister Becky) on a visit to Mankato.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Grisled jaws rise from the depths of the placid waters of Lake O'Dowd to grasp its glorious autumn island in a winter death grip. The kayaker briskly paddles on, throwing a shivering glance over his shoulder, for he must plan an escape.

Thirty years ago today

Thirty years ago, on a canvas rich in September hues, exactly like the one today, we decided to make a go of it. Much has changed since then -- Gary is gone, the girls are all grown up -- but our commitment is just the same.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jenny has a new camera

Mighty Joe chopped down a big oak tree in Nisswa (actually he used a chain saw) and Jennifer has it all on her new handy dandy camera she got as a present from her beau. We saw it all. Looked like one of those America's Funniest Videos things . . . except the tree fell where it was supposed to fall, not on the little house. The pair is spending the night with us and will rise and shine early (sort of) to go to the Renaissance Festival tomorrow. If you want to see pictures. . .

Garage Sale! Cash Only! All Sales Final!

Eager buyers for miles around have been streaming in to the neighborhood this weekend to patronize the Anderson's "Huge Sale." The event got started yesterday, but there were still enough Ken and Barbie's left today to interest Emily. There's a ton of stuff for everyone, lots of new, items from a three-generation household. But if you're looking for an iron cook book holder, sorry, you're too late. Gone!
Click to enlarge. You'll see the mother-daughter sales team top center.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First Day of Fall or Last Day of Summer

Neighbors gathered on the tarmac tonight to salute the passing of the seasons and admire the new sealcoat job on our driveways. Highlight was Tom Story's spiffy new Schwinn. His old bike tumbled off the bumper as they careened through northern Minnesota on their most recent camping adventure. Care free, they drove merrily onward until a motorist flagged them down to notify them of their mishap. Tonight, tarmac talk eventually turned to wedding anniversaries (Stan and Kathleen's 30th is coming up this weekend) so veteran husband John Gerken set the tone for the romantic twilight evening with this observation: "I never knew what true happiness was until I got married. .  . and then it was too late."

Proud owners of a spanky new seal-coated tarmac. Party on!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Off to Paris

Stan's sister Sosie is off to Paris with her husband tomorrow. Ho hum. Here's her goodbye note:

Sosie writes:

We are going to Paris on Monday, 9/20 and returning Monday, 9/27. Jim will be staying at the house with Snowball. We will miss all that there is to miss here, but are excited about the adventures that await us. Bill has selected a tour of the sewers of Paris as his #1 destination tour. Although it appears we are in for a good bit of rain, we plan to go to Versailles and Chartres. Our friends will attend mass at St Sulpice church, and we will join them after for a recital on the world-renowned organ there. Lots of museums, of course, and the more rain, the more museums. Much to see and do. We will run ourselves ragged and return exhausted and secretly grateful that we only had a week before we can recover. I'll be the the juror with the pillow.
Here's a google image of one of Bill's sewers, labeled excrement.jpg. You go, Bill.

A Grand Uncle

Twins Fans (he's wearing his shirt)

Big doings at Virg and Becky's in Eden Prairie last night with the first formal Minnesota presentation of our latest addition: Landon Allen Jerdee from Des Moines, Iowa. Age four months. His parents, Adam and Kim Jerdee, are showing him the Twin Cities this week, from the Mall of America to Target Field, so Virg invited the infant and anyone else for a party and dinner. Turns out Landon is a big attraction with mobs of hungry Rolfsrud kinfolk streaming in from Mankato, Shakopee, Blaine and West Des Moines to witness this miracle which hath come to pass. Landon's Dad is the son of Stan (and Virg's) sister, Rebecca. So they're great uncles. Yes they are.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Publisher's holiday

We're writing books today. Grandma Kathleen figured out that if you staple some blank pages together it makes it ever so much more interesting to write stories in them. Emily filled three volumes, mostly illustrations. Very creative. Then she asked Grandpa to read the new books back to her. That got to be quite creative too but fortunately he was corrected on the spot when he misread or misunderstood something.

Stan's fellow publisher Steve Messick called from his office in Red Wing today, interrupting the book review session. Stan worked with Steve for at least 20 years before Stan retired. Steve's a new grandpa, he reports with some pride. Samuel Messick is four months old now. Steve promises to send a link to some photos. Standby.

September smiles

The Shakopee Applebee's hosted the September Ladies Who Lunch gathering yesterday.  The two regular members, Kathleen and M'liss, enjoyed a bite and then repaired to the nearby Canterbury Card Room where they dealt hardship to the menfolk at the tables (no photos allowed, thank you). Earlier the duo touched on old business (Chuck and Stan) and discovered that M'liss has a big kayak and a big paddle, too big, she says. Stan has a regular-size kayak and a small paddle. Too small, he says. Could there be a negotiation in the works? Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Joe!

When we last got together for an extended family portrait at Mom's 90th, Jennifer's boyfriend, Joe Simestad, was pulled into the photo as a member of the family, even described by someone there as a "keeper." He was, however, also told by some smartass to stand on the end so he could be cropped out later if necessary. Today it's his birthday and, we're happy to report, he's still very much in the picture. Can you find him? Yes. He's on the end. Below, that's him with Jennifer more recently. Hmm. Below that, it's Christmas dinner, Halloween, dances, birthdays, weddings, open houses. He's a regular at these things. Happy Birthday, Joe!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our "new relative"

Turns out that Denise Comstock Kurkowski from New Hope, Minnesota is Stan's Fourth Cousin. She's been sending Stan some geneology material about our Scottish roots -- the John Jackson lineage. Turns out that our great great grandparents were brothers... and we have the very same great great great grandparents: John and Elizabeth (Oliver) Jackson had sixteen kids, one new Scot came along just about every year from 1811 to 1833. Peter (our forefather) was their second child, Simon (Denise's forefather) was the 13th.
Denise has already corresponded with our North Carolina cousins, the Kullbergs. Denise mentions that her branch of the Jackson tree has a lot of twins on it. Not ours.
Anyway, here's the lineage.
John Jackson begat Simon Jackson, Edwin Jackson, Her mother -- still living, Denise

Stan (and his five siblings):
John Jackson begat Peter Jackson, Ella Mae Jackson, Jessie Jackson Wendelkin, Jessie Beverly Rolfsrud age 90, Stan and sibs

If you would like access to an on-line document giving great detail to this, email Stan and he'll provide a link. This material is not available to the general public.

You may remember seeing some Jackson grave markers in Belle Plaine that we posted on this blog sometime ago. Sosie visited the graves this past summer. They are our great great grandparents and a couple of their children. We now have obituaries, published in the Belle Plaine Herald, to go with these photos. We'll post soon when we get the typing done.
BTW, if you want to greet a new relative, Stan can get you her address too.
He's at

Our Hannover Roots

Sonke Wessel with Kathleen's mom, the late Florence Neilson, on a field trip to the state capitol building in St. Paul, circa 1982.
Back in the early 80s when we had three girls in school, we took an opportunity to host a foreign student, Sonke Wessel of Hannover, Germany. It was an adventure for us all, as we learned much from each other about our small world. 
Ingeborg, Kathleen, Thomas, Sonke's brother
But the most enduring part of the experience was the relationship gained with Sonke’s mother, Ingeborg. She loved everything about America and not long after Sonke’s short time with us, she came for her own visit to Minnesota. It was to be her first of a number of trips here. During those extended stays in the 80s and 90s, we spent a good deal of time comparing cultures and attitudes. We could do this because she had a good command of the English language -- although an occasional idiomatic lapse would bring hilarity. For example, a shortened nightgown is a nightie, logical, right? Doesn’t always work that way, though, as Ingeborg well knew. As in “a pair of pants.” (Pair? What pair? Pair of shoes, yes.)
But Ingeborg was never discouraged. One morning Stan came into the kitchen wearing a new pair of shorts. Those are short pants, right? So then Ingeborg innocently observes: “Stan, I see you are wearing panties today.”
A favorite topic was always her beloved Hannover. A beautiful mid-sized city, she has presented us with maps and books and travelogues about it. She’s invited us to come many times. Today we have yet another reason to go.
The current buzz about Mom's geneology sent Stan downstairs today into the Rolfsrud archives -- only recently organized in bins by Sosie. Stan pulled out a batch of papers filed under “Wendelken.” That’s Stan’s grandmother’s maiden name. Leafing through the copious notes, he soon discovered that Hannover is an even more worthy city than he had ever realized. Much more.
Stan’s great great grandfather and great great grandmother (Mom’s blood) were both born near Hannover, Germany.
Here’s the citation, confirmed by an internet web site, word for word:
Johann Wendelken Jr was born on 31 March 1817 at Winkelmoor, Ottersberg, Hanover, Germany. He married Anna Katharina Kohlmann, daughter of Zeband Kohlmann and Katherina Gutindes, on 3 December 1841 at Worpswede, Hanover, Germany. He emigrated in 1843 from Spring, Emigrated to, Marietta, Washington County, Ohio. He appeared on the census of 6 August 1850 at Ward 2, Page 177-B, Dwelling 21, Marietta, Washington County, Ohio. He was (an unknown value) on 6 August 1850 at Carpenter, Marietta, Washington County, Ohio. He died in 1903 at Elkton, Brookings County, South Dakota.

The senior Wendelkens hail from the same general location. Stan’s great-great-great grandfather and great great great grandmother were married near Hannover, Germany.
Johann Wendelken Sr was born on 17 September 1786 at Mevenstedt, Hanover, Germany. He married Mettje Schnackenberg, daughter of Gerd Schnackenberg and Trina Brunjes, on 20 October 1809 at Worpswede, Hanover, Germany. He died on 26 September 1862 at Winkelmoor, Hanover, Germany, at age 76.
Grandma Mettje was born in 1788 and died in 1844.
So there you have it. Roots in Hannover. We’ll send this off to Ingeborg right away!


Denise Kurkowski, who has plenty of interest in the Jackson genealogy, reached me by phone last night. We had a nice conversation and exchanged email addresses. She will be sending me some family tree information she has developed. What fun. And what a nice lady. Not sure how we are related, but we shall soon see.

She speaks of our living relatives in the Catskills in upstate New York. That would be interesting to know as well. In the 1860s Nancy Ives wrote letters to those relatives (we have the transcripts).

Jim Kullberg, who is married to our cousin Judy and inherited the Chase research files. He says " I have a "Chase-Brown Tree" Ancestry but I have a lot more info than shows up there that I would be glad to share. Since we live in North Carolina now, I have not had the opportunity to visit the Minnesota sites and am glad to find someone who is following up on them. I think we need to share some information."

We'll share whatever we can, of course.

Understand that it is easy to make mistakes when we're doing all this, so if you'll keep me between the lines, I will do what I can to get this material blogged and googled.

We'll do our best and make it fun. Just how Scotch are we?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jackson research continues

Stan stopped by the Scott County Historical Society building today and came up with a bunch of new info about Mom's great grandfather, Scotsman Peter Jackson. As you know, Peter married Nancy Ives and they raised four daughters at the farm home near Belle Plaine. Two of the daughters were school teachers; the other two were twins that mother knew of in the 1920s.
Peter and his brother James arrived in Scott County by steamboat in 1855. Today Stan went through the census records that record their names as well as Nancy's.
Peter was a farmer and also an original supervisor of the Town of Blakeley, located along the Minnesota River. He served on the school board. He and his brother each farmed 160 acres of land. Stan found the legal location on an 1880 Scott County map and will make an expedition there soon to see what is there now. The railroad eventually cut through James' property.
One of the history books on file notes that James was a "wealthy bachelor" and lived in a big house near the tracks. We'll get transcripts of all this stuff and post it soon.
On a past post, we showed you the five family gravesites in Belle Plaine. (James, Peter, Nancy, Adel and Adelia)
Interestingly, Stan found a note in a card file of someone else researching the Jacksons. Her name is Denise Kurkowski and she lives in New Hope. She left a phone number for anyone else interested in the family. We left a phone number on her recorder today.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I am sorry to be so dramatic,

"I am sorry to be so dramatic," said Jenn LaBrie (Stan's nephew Zach's wife) as she tasted her first ever oyster on a sunny, glorious afternoon in Petaluma, California today.
(Photo from her mother-in-law's I-phone)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Summer days on the picnic table

Everyone enjoys this gorgeous late summer weather with its shortened days, but this sweet pair will leave us soon. Our departure plans are still open.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Don't worry. My Grandpa has no idea what he's doing, but he does have a life jacket.
(Photo by Kathleen Rolfsrud)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Now what.

Stan's newly-acquired sky-blue kayak came home tonight, a 12-foot Old Town Dirigo featured in the LL Bean spring catalog. Stan found his on Craigslist and drove to Mendota Heights with Kathleen to get it. Mike took our $600 and gave us his wife's kayak, the car-top carrier and a paddle.
A very good deal, we thought. His wife appeared relieved just to see it all go. She rarely used it, and said it made her seasick.
Stan hopes the craft will provide an interesting workout routine on the nearby river and lakes. Should be good for upper body strength, and it won't wear out the pegs like pounding on pavement does.
But if it never comes out of the garage again, so be it. We'll put it back on Craigslist for $700. Worked for the Bowflex.

Wherefor cometh Bill Shearer

Although a sensitive government position required him to keep a low-profile throughout his adult career, Bill Shearer's recent retirement has allowed him to return to a favorite pursuit: live performance theater. Here he offers a soliloquy from Othello at the Ligure Theatre in Oakland during their arts and performances festival last week. Judges awarded Bill the "Best of Show" ribbon. His wife (Stan's sister Sosie), is pleased at this new found stage success, but hopes it won't cut into his work on the backyard patio project.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Because it is easier to think when I turn my head this way. Why do you ask?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Stan learned to drive on this tractor

This is an IH Farmall Cub, the same model tractor that Al and Ruby Korkowski used on their Brandon, Minnesota farm. The first Cub was built in 1947, the year Stan was born. Here they are again, now both 63, at the Minnesota State Fair Machinery Hill display area this week.
When Stan was four years old, Al Korkowski showed him how to depress the clutch, pop out the ignition button, pull on the starter and then slowly release the clutch. The tractor stayed in low gear as Al walked behind it, tossing hay bales onto the rack (below). When it was time to stop, Al yelled "Whoa!" and Stan killed the engine by pushing in the ignition button.  The tractor stopped immediately.
When it was time to go again, Stan would restart the engine, and so on. Al kept it simple, safe.
The Farmall Cub was a simple, basic tractor and very popular. There are still many around today, according to the website dedicated to its fans.
Stan remembers it as being a lot bigger, but all the buttons and levers are exactly as they were.
Across the road from the Korkowskis, the Vickermans and their son, Archie, had a yellow Allis Chalmers. Nice, but certainly no match for a powerful Farmall Cub, Al and Stan smugly agreed. When they parted at the end of the haying season, Al paid Stan $1 as hired man wages, leaving him stunned and immensely proud.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Eiffel, the Louvre, the BBQ shelter

Full erection of this French architectural masterpiece was completed this week in the private California hillside retreat behind Sosie and Bill's canyonland home near Sunol. The stylish weatherproof fixture, acquired from the prestigious Costco firm, went up relatively easily, Sosie says. Engineer Bill had no comment. He continues to remaster the entire barbecue area, watched closely by Snowball, the white cat perched above the work area.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Watch Kathleen's video!

Two good things: a parade and a State Fair. Kathleen was in her glory when she shot this two minute movie. Click on the forward button to start.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Thank you for your opinion, sir

This young music critic had no appreciation for some sounds coming from a band performance at the State Fair yesterday.
Photos by Stan Rolfsrud