Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Great Escape

For spacious skies, barren plains, snow-capped mountain majesty, and for oceans blue. We're greasing the axles and loading the covered wagon. (It has GPS)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Jennifer and her nephew, Max

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The performance that almost wasn't

The concert at the 400 Club in Minneapolis last night almost didn't happen. 
Our talented nephew, Stephen Letnes, flew in from Denver to celebrate the holidays with his family and to give a concert. But he arrived here without his keyboard after the airlines told him it would cost $820 for it to make the round trip.
Fortunately, in what his mother termed a "Christmas Miracle," it was discovered at the last minute that his sister's mother-in-law had a suitable keyboard to loan him. So Steve performed as scheduled last night before a nice audience that included family, old friends from Concordia (a former girlfriend among them) and others. . . and the performer enjoyed an after-show party as well.
If you'd like to hear our inspiring nephew play his original compositions and read about his music, click here.
Steve will return home to Littleton, Col., after the holidays. . . and be reunited with the keyboard that didn't make the trip.
From left, Stan's sister Linda, Erik and Shana 
(Erik's Mom provided the keyboard), Steve and his Dad, Ron.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Beef Wellington!

After a beautiful tossed salad and fruit plate, the Main Course.
Gingery, warm brownies with a dollop of cool, whipped cream followed.
Filets tucked in then pinched with care.
Brushed with an egg wash.
Every year the newspaper company sponsors a cooking show and school in Prior Lake. It's a popular hit as aspiring cooks gather on a fall Saturday to broaden their gourmet skills, see the latest gadgets and listen to the foodies. Kathleen and daughter Jennifer attended this year's show, had fun and brought home some kitchen tricks -- and useful gifts. It's a very successful enterprise for the newspaper.
But the biggest payoff for us came last night when one of the show's organizers, our pal Laurie Hartmann, demonstrated what she had learned that day.
It was delicious.
While we sipped our drinks, Laurie rolled out her dough, wrapped it around three hot filets mignon, brushed on an egg wash, then popped the bundles back into the oven for their final browning.
Voila! Beef Wellington! Just like the pros do it.
It was a great holiday treat, as we poured the exquisite au jus on our dinners, talked over old times and future plans and celebrated a wonderful, longtime friendship.
Laurie can organize a successful cooking school for sure, but her best work may very well be in her own kitchen.

Tender Beef Wellington cut with a butter knife.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Grandma and Grandpa surprised by Santa

Click on the forward icon to see the video, then get the full story at Ford and Jenn's blog at right or click here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The First Position

Auntie Marcy gave her a pair of real leather ballerina shoes and an illustrated instruction book showing all five positions for the novice ballet dancer. Where do we go from here? Five-year-old Emily mentioned that she needs a ballet barre installed to hold on to just like they show in the new book. Right. In the meantime, sweetie, just use the doggone stair bannister.
Assume the first position, please.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve visitor

Every year our neighbors, Tom and Sandy Story, have the grandkids over for the eagerly-anticipated visit from the jolly elf. Santa showed up on time again last night for another delivery and photo op. The Story grandkids range from 14 years to 18 months and each got a chance in the magic lap.
(Personal note to Rolfsrud family members: Doesn't the boy in the blue (Joey) resemble Steve so many Christmases ago? Extra credit if you can spot Mrs. Claus in the photo.)

California Dreamin'

It's a sunny Christmas Day in Shakopee; 40 degrees outside and a cozy 70 solar-heated degrees on the porch, perfect for a lazy dog resting up from a whirlwind of Christmas company. No snow, no ice, no wind. So why would anyone ever want to escape this Minnesota Paradise? Wait and see.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Greetings from Abbey Point

No, it's not the Last Supper. It is our annual Christmas Dinner. Can you name the apostles?
This one has Hai in it, Stan took the picture. Ham and scalloped potatoes.
Max, (grandson), Hai and Wall (longtime family friends), Marcy (daughter),
Dan (brother), Jennifer (daughter), Kathleen (commander-in-chief),
Melissa (daughter), Emily (granddaughter).

Los Feliz Navidad

Lara Regan
One Christmas past, Randy had this picture made for his annual Yule party invitation. He'll be rolling out the red carpet for us very soon in Los Feliz, so a reprise of this old photo is timely.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Kitchen fruition

The chips are flying in a canyon in Sunol, California today as workmen trim corian counters to surround the new oven. Sosie and Bill are getting it done, and early reports indicate things are hectic but going well. They made tea on the new stove tonight. Cookies for Santa tomorrow?
Our first look at the new countertop. Yummy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Brothers

Virg selected a fresh-baked pinwheel,
which he washed down with a cold Christian Brothers Holiday Nog.
Virg stopped by tonight for a Cup of Christmas Cheer with his brother, Stan, and Kathleen. They headed to the clubhouse to enjoy dinner and trade stories. Virg lives in Florida during the winter and flew back to Eden Prairie for Christmas and birthdays (Alex, Aaron) with his family. Among the tales shared at the roundtable was the one about the largest alligator Virg has ever seen, loafing on shore just up the river a ways from his dock, and spied by our Iowa relatives who were river paddling that day. It was a monster, Virg says, and drew a spirited response from some of them. (They had all been instructed to keep their hands out of the water.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

'Discover Hollywood' cover revealed

Backdrop is Randy's house in Los Feliz.
No, that's not Randy with the model.
This summer we followed along here as Stan's friend Randy made over his front yard in LA. He slashed overgrown foliage, installed new plantings, railings, pavers, put down new sod and generally sharpened the appearance of his unique 1920s house.
Then this fall, managers from a local magazine asked to use his freshened-up yard and house facade as a backdrop for the cover photo on their winter edition. This week the magazine hit the racks and the result is well-deserved recognition for Randy and his efforts to brighten his Los Feliz neighborhood.
This colorful edition of Discover Hollywood puts a spotlight on the history of Los Feliz, in particular Walt Disney planting the seeds of the Mickey Mouse empire in his uncle's garage -- just a few blocks from Randy's place. (Photo below)
The article is entitled, "Birth of the Disney Legend: The Seeds for Disneyland Grew From Los Feliz Roots." Have a look at all the magazine contents by following this link.
The timing is great for Kathleen and Stan. They'll be exploring the history and landmarks of the Hollywood neighborhoods during their winter stay next door in Los Feliz.
Former Disney home in Los Feliz. Photo credit: Discover Hollywood

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

St. Olaf Choir concert tonight; it's special

Tonight at 8 p.m. the St. Olaf Choir will celebrate its 100 years of Christmas with a concert on Public Television.
The reason this is special is that Bob (BJ) Johnson has been the St. Olaf choir manager for 34 years now. He's Stan and Sosie's classmate from Alexandria and we both sang with him in high school choir. We went on Bob's first choir tour ever, to Chicago. Bob has been organizing domestic and international choir performance tours for St. Olaf ever since. In high school, Bob's signature solo was "Little David Play on Your Harp," sung in a fine tenor at our annual Christmas concert. That's why this is special to us.
Last Friday night Bob appeared on Channel Two with the St. Olaf choir director in a preview appearance to talk about the past 100 years. You can dip into their conversation by following this link to a streaming video of that show. If you want to skip the first part of the show, look on the right side index for the portion about 100 years of Christmas at St. Olaf and to hear B.J.
Stan got a shave from other members of the 1965 JHS
Barbershop quartet, which included Bob "BJ" Johnson in the plaid shirt.
(Others are Bruce Phelps and Randy Gaugert)

Report from Up Nort

Our International Falls correspondent has returned home after 17 days tanning in the Florida sun. He and the good wife are back to their subsistence lifestyle, living off the land on the shores of Rainy Lake, splitting kindling, netting fish, cultivating tomatoes and harvesting venison. Sunday Wayne gathered up enough firewood to survive yet another winter in the frozen northland.
Photo by Wayne.
Fire by Mary Ann.
The retired publisher writes:
As for the goings on since our return. After getting acclimated to winter, I lined up a couple hunting partners and three of us headed to the woods on Sunday morning to get a supply of wood. We called the local logger who lives just a few miles from our shack [Wayne and Mary Ann own some remote property deep in the forest for deer hunting and a wood supply-- Ed.]. He drags out pole length trees from a pile and we cut it into 8-foot lengths and throw it in the pickups.
With three trucks and two trips to the hunting shack, we have enough wood for 3 to 4 years of saunas and showers. This was a perfect year to do this, as the roads are frozen yet passable with the lack of snow.
We listened to the Vikings on the radio and soon felt that we were not wasting our time by watching the first half on tv. We were back home by the third quarter...should have gone for another load.
Next spring we will cut it up, split and stack wood for another season.
Went fishing the other day and caught enough walleye for a couple sandwiches. Took the four-wheeler out. Lots of ice if you know where to go and avoid current where thin ice and open water are present.
It's not easy, this subsistence living, but Obama made me do it.
Down-range view from inside Wayne's elevated stand. Any deer
foolishly wandering into this clearing are fair game.
Same view after a snowfall.
Old Sureshot got his buck again this year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Today the apron. . . tomorrow the oven

Kathleen is not the only one with a new handmade apron made by our Florida sister, Becky. Sosie writes, amidst the chaos of a kitchen remodeling project:
My snazzy new 3-pocketed party apron arrived in the evening mail, just in time for some Christmas baking. Oops, I'll have to wait until I have an oven! No problem, this crafty apron is fantastic for carrying around everything I need but just misplaced.
I love that it is made from fabric scraps, does my heaRRRt (recycle, reuse, regift) good. 

Dog House

Buddy, Betty and Birdie spent Monday goofing off and lounging around. Buddy and Betty are Joe's dogs. Joe and Jenny were here overnight and this time the dogs came along for a romp with Birdie. Peace has been restored now as Birdie bids adieu to her playmates.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

When the local Vikings sputter, call Norway. Get out the butter.

Sunday afternoons aren't much fun anymore if you leave it up to the Vikings to entertain, so why not save the day and bake Christmas cookies? That's a lot more fun, especially if you have a smart new handmade apron made by your sister-in-law and mailed here from Florida.
Yes, our unapologetic apron nut spotted Becky's Florida craft show offerings the other day, prompting a hurried request to Stan' sister. The chosen apron arrived in the mail from Florida yesterday, just in time to be pressed into service for the annual double batch of Chocolate Pinwheels.
Incidentally, we heard a story from Stephen Colbert that the Norwegians are suffering from a national butter shortage. We don't trust everything we hear on cable comedy, so we dashed off an email to our Cousin Gunnar in Norway, seeking confirmation.
Sure enough, Gunnar said many of his countrymen and women are on a "low-carb diet" craze which (unbelievably)  involves eating lots of butter. That's no problem for our cousins, Gunnar assures us, because they're not given to fad diets and prefer traditional fare for the holidays.
There's no butter problem here either, and it's a good thing too. We're just getting started.
Chocolate pinwheels, spritzes, nutmeg cookies, rum cookies, whatever you
bake, there's bound to be butter in there somewhere.  We're ready.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Wall Comes to Call

Afternoon guest today was old lifetime friend, Paul (The Wall) Matthies. We spent a couple hours chatting it up, getting current for the holidays, reviewing aches and pains; we hope the Wall will join us in LA this winter for at least one quality weekend. Stan (and Randy in LA) have known Paul since college so there's always plenty of history to catalogue and revise.
The Wall is presently managing a remodeling project in Richfield. He's spent a career in the construction industry.

Post from the Canadian Rockies

We got a real post card today. Not an email. A genuine post card on actual cardboard with a stamp and a beautiful Rocky Mountain lake scene on the reverse. Our German boys, Felix and Flo, have finally made it to the West Coast, through the Canadian Rockies and they sent us a post card to memorialize the event. Cool. Their Trans-Canada trek is over.
The post card reads:
Hi Stan and Katie,
We just wanted to let you know that we made it to the West End of Canada. We're going to Seattle these days and I (Felix) will go back to G. soon. Have fun on your trip!
Felix and Flo
The boys, 19 and 20, stayed with us for a few days in October. They bought a car in Toronto and drove it across the continent, working and learning North America as they went. For a while, they dipped into the US through Chicago and then we hooked up with them through the International Couch-surfing program. Great fun. Below, they helped Katie in the kitchen. We're glad their remarkable adventure went pretty much as planned. Last time we heard from them, it was in an email from somewhere up north. They had stopped, with soap and towel, for a November bath in a Canadian lake and seemed surprised and shocked at how cold the water was!
Ja. Sehr kalt, meine Herren! Aufenthalt aus dem Wasser heraus!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Oops. Sorry Sosie. Happy Belated Birthday

What with all the excitement of Mother's Christmas, pictures of great great grandmas and lost dogs, Solveig's birthday got skipped on this blog. Sorry, Sosie. Forgive us. Hope it was a happy one! We will be doing our penance in your chapel.

Sunshine is home again!

As she watched the happy reunion, Jennifer knew she'd
found the right owner.
Bloomington dog found in 
Minneapolis returned to owner
Jennifer tracked down the owner of the lost rat terrier she caught and brought home yesterday and was there for the joyful reunion today. Let her tell it:
She writes: Happiness was felt, and a few tears were shed this morning at the Royal Grounds coffee shop when the cute little rat terrier I found running cold down the street yesterday was returned to her owner. "Sunshine" was apparently dropped off at a different friends house while Angela, the owner, went to work. Apparently the usual pet sitter was out of town and the substitute didn't realize the importance of keeping Sunshine on her leash when taking her out to use mother nature's toilet.
Somebody saw this
sign in a filling station.
Told Jennifer.
Sunshine is actually Angela's daughter's dog and was given to her 5 years ago for her 7th birthday. Needless to say, they didn't get much sleep last night, but with hard lessons learned, tonight should be better than ever. 
With the many thoughts of having a new pal still in my brain, I was nonetheless glad to see Sunshine returned to her home. Thanks for the sleepover, Sunshine, it was fun.
Editor's note: If you think you read a runaway dog story here before, you have. Type "Lowell Mathistad" in the search box above to revisit an old lost dog story with a happy ending that took a longer time to end.
By the way, Sunshine's owner couldn't figure out how Jennifer was able to capture Sunshine, she's quite elusive and gives a good chase. "I just didn't give up," Jennifer explained.
We're very proud of our animal-lover.

I'm lost. Can you help me find my home?

Jennifer found this shivering dog running the cold streets and sidewalks of south Minneapolis yesterday, afraid of everything it saw. She eventually caught up with it, discovered it had no visible ID, just a collar. Inquiries throughout the neighborhood were fruitless. By nightfall, she had brought it home. She posted a note on Craigslist and awaits a claimant. A trip to the vet is planned today, there may be an embedded subcutaneous chip that could help.
The dog is house-broken, was hungry, and is now warm, rested and cared for. If you can help the stray find its owner, that would be great.
Failing that, we think this little creature may have already found its new Mom. Time will tell. Just saying.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

One tough pioneer: Our great great grandmother

 Great great grandmother Nancy Ives Jackson 
(1830-1881) of Belle Plaine, Minnesota. 
Flipping through scrapbooks yesterday with Mom, Stan was thrilled to discover a photograph of a photograph. It was of Nancy Ives Jackson, an honest-to-goodness Minnesota pioneer settler who is also Stan's great great grandmother on Mom's (Beverly's) side.
The scrapbook had tons of other interesting photographs as well, but none of a woman who died before 1881. Nancy was born in 1830, and married Peter, age 44, when she was 27, so it looks like this could have been taken around the time of her wedding in 1857. What do you think? Photography was rare in those days before the Civil War so maybe it was taken later than that. No date on this photo of a photo.
Jessie Wendelken, age 5
Photo taken in Belle Plaine
in 1891 by C.D. Baucroft
We found another early photo (right) of Beverly's mother, Jessie Wendelken (Stan's grandmother), that was taken in Belle Plaine. Sadly, Nancy never held this grandchild. Nancy died at age 51, before Jessie was born in 1886 in frontier Elkton, Dakota Territory, 160 miles west of Belle Plaine.
Hmm. Our great grandma Ella Mae Jackson Wendelken must have brought her daughter Jessie Wendelken back from Elkton to Belle Plaine to mourn her father's 1891 death, and then had Jessie's picture taken at the Belle Plaine studio. All the dates would match that speculation.
Here's a recap of some of the Peter and Nancy Jackson history that appeared earlier on this blog. We're proud to repeat it, because it is hard to have much deeper roots in Minnesota. . . unless you're a native.

PETER JACKSON (JOHN, ADAM) was born March 05, 1813 in RICCARTON, SCOTLAND, and died April 28, 1891 in BELLE PLAINE, MINN. He married NANCY IVES May 10, 1857 in BLUE EARTH TWP. MINN, daughter of JUSTICE IVES and DEBORAH CONGDON. She was born February 15, 1830 in RUSSELL NY, and died August 05, 1881 in BELLE PLAINE, MINN.

Peter Jackson was born on Gadshaw Farm, Riccarton, Foxhorshire, Scotland, 1813. He was a salesman in Stratford, England for an Edinburgh firm. He saw Queen Victoria on her coronation day. He followed his parents to New York State about 1840. Later, in Wisconsin, he met his future bride. In 1855 he got land in Blakely Township in Scott County, Minnesota, adjacent to Belle Plaine. [Near where Stan and Kathleen live today, coincidentally] He and his brother, James, spent their first night in a hollow log on the hillside beside what is now Highway 169 near the edge of the Big Woods. He bought more level land in the Northeast quarter of Section 10. He built a cabin and cleared the land for fields. Travel was by foot or by oxcart. The first Steamboat on the nearby Minnesota River was the Minnesota Belle. Trips were irregular. On May 1, 1857, he married the newly arrived Nancy Ives at the home of her sister Sarah and husband Alvin P. Davis in Lake George, near what is now Mankato.This was the first marriage in Jamestown Township, Blue Earth County. He brought the minister from St. Peter by horse and buggy, returned him there and took his bride on the steamboat back to Belle Plaine.
Nancy Ives Jackson was highly regarded as a nurse and was often called upon.
Peter and Nancy's daughter, Ella Mae Jackson Wendelken, who died in 1919, is Beverly Brown Rolfsrud's grandmother. Ella Mae died the year before Mother was born.
(There's more stuff on this blog, including a poignant letter back home written by a lonely Nancy. Use the search box to find it.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Merry Christmas from Mom and Stan. . .

We celebrated Christmas today with a lunch with Mom at the Edgewater Suites in Alexandria. This is our Christmas Card and, while it may be the only one that Mom sends this year, she loves getting cards and remembering old friends. . . so get on it. . . while the Post Office is still in business. (If you need Bev's snail mail address, email Stan at
The new Beetle handled the rain and fog on the 300 mile round trip very well. Temps were in the high 30s, so no ice. (They were actually golfing on a course in Otswego today.)
We spent part of our afternoon together digging through a scrapbook Mom pasted up years ago but hadn't included many names or dates in it. Mom's 91-year-old memory is doggone sharp, she proved today, doling out information about their late 1920s family home in Hettinger, So. Dak. When she saw a previous residence on Upton Ave in Minneapolis, she actually remember the street address.
Biggest find today was a photograph of Nancy Ives Jackson, our pioneer great great grandmother, buried in Belle Plaine, Minn in 1881, that you've read so much about in this blog. She and husband, Peter, raised Stan's great grandmother, Ella Belle (1858-1918). We recently found their tombstones in Belle Plaine. We'll post what has to be the only photograph of Nancy soon, and then notify our newly-discovered Jackson kin in Las Vegas of the find. They have a site on and should be interested. If you died in 1881, how many pictures can there be of you?
In the meantime, get that Christmas Card off to Mom, if you haven't already done so.
Stan's cousin, Faith Brown Cole, emailed this sweet photograph to us today. It's a picture of her grandmother and a couple of her aunts, probably taken around 1930. It's Jessie Wendelken Brown (Stan's grandmother), Dorothy Brown (Stan's Aunt) and Beverly Brown. (Stan's Mom). Faith had no way of knowing that simultaneously, 1000 miles away, Stan and her aunt Beverly were going through old scrapbooks today. Total coincidence. Or IS IT? Woof. Scarey. ;) Faith and her sister, Sharon, are going through old family photographs and sent along a batch. We're grateful.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas under the dome

Tonight's program cover: "Hallelujah!" original oil by
Southwest parent, Scott Lloyd Anderson.
The Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis hosted the Southwest High School in its Holiday Concert tonight and we were there to see our grandson take his part. The acoustics are magnificent in this awe-inspiring edifice, a serene worship center surrounded by the bustle of freeways, traffic noise and city lights.
The school concocted a most remarkable display of laser-focused talent, discipline and music. . . brewing all the magic that makes it Christmas again. The kids were really good. Really good. There was no applause after the numbers, making it possible to hear the final notes reverberate gloriously overhead, soaring into the far reaches long after each piece had ended.
The most musical offering was probably the full orchestra's masterful performance of Tschaikowsky's Nutcracker Suite, specifically the Waltz of the Flowers and the March of the Nutcracker.
But the most memorable part for Stan was when the director invited choir alumni and friends to come forward and join the massed choirs for the final number: The Hallelujah Chorus.
So with encouragement from his pewmates, Stan headed up the aisle to stand with the basses in the far-reaches of the upper sanctuary, (see photo) with nothing but his memory to sustain him through the old Christmas Concert standby.
"Wow," he said afterward. "There I was, standing in the Basilica of St. Mary, belting out the bass notes to G.F. Handel's Messiah, accompanied by a full orchestra, and listening to our Hallelujahs echo off the far-away dome. All in traditional, familiar harmony with a big section of full-throated men I had never met.. . and my dear baritone grandson. Now THAT's Christmas."
And Heaven and Nature Sing, and Heaven and Nature Sing.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Latest crafty ideas, come and get 'em

So what are you doing for fun these days?
Stan's sister Becky is doing what she's always done. A few weeks ago she pulled out Mom's old sewing machine, grabbed some colorful fabrics and got real crafty. Then she packed it all up and hauled it down to the Placida Saturday Arts and Crafts Show, an open air market in an historic fishing village near Becky's winter home in Venice, Florida.
"I felt young," Becky smiled. "The choice of colors and patterns are wildly therapeutic. I felt 27 again, the year I started going to art fairs so things I made didn't clutter up the closets."
Indeed. We've been watching Becky put things together all our lives. . . from our childhood days when she'd snuff her nose, scratch her head and proclaim to her younger brothers and sisters, "Let's Make Something!," -- on through her Renaissance Festival years, Uptown Art Fairs and into the colorful pages of Better Homes and Gardens magazine and their special publications. It's great to see that creative candle still shining so brightly in her retirement. 
Here's a sample of what the visitors to the Placida Saturday Show perused at her booth yesterday. The crowds are light this year, sales aren't that great, maybe it's the economy, but the important thing is that she's out there in the market, still responding to that genetic urge to "Make Something!" and having fun doing it.
Becky writes:
The first time at the Placida Market (Nov. 26), I was in my first art fair at the age of 27. I'd paid $5 to get into that one but this fair, on the gulf and the grounds of an old fishery, was FREE. No gain at this point in our lives doesn't matter, we said as we sat there...after all, it was a wonderful day in paradise under a gumbo limbo tree and we learned a lot about how this Florida market works.

First come, first serve is the rule. The free entry fee is a marvel which means there are lots of competitors for booth spaces--early arrival is necessary. It's a registered, juried show so the quality is quite good, worth the trip over for those who come to buy. 
Yesterday, however, the crowds weren't there. I had a better set-up and a wonderful location. I made $4.50. Is it the economy or is it just me (my stuff)?
We're hanging it up for the holidays. The locals just aren't buying Christmas presents. Besides, brother Virg invited us for steaks on the bar-b.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Card from Adam, Kim and the little guy

Sweet Christmas photo of Adam, Kim and Landon in the mail today.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Part V: No French chefs, no partridge, no pear tree

Meanwhile, decisions are being made at a blistering pace in the oven area upgrade taking shape in a canyon kitchen in rural Sunol, California, home of Sister Sosie and Saint Bill. Today's epistle highlights the struggles between metal and glass, right and wrong, good and bad. Read on:

Sosie writes:
Pedro called to say that my new love, the induction range, is so eager to join our family that it arrives a week early and will be on our doorstep in the morning. 
Backsplash color, texture palette
Meanwhile, two Rons worried out cabinet details today, one by email and one in person. May the worries lead to solutions. Costco be with us, all will be well.
Re the Back-Splash Dilemna--metal trumps glass. We ordered metal tile to bridge the Sandalwood Corian countertops below the existing window tile (see picture of whitish Sandalwood Corian, square Japanese pool tiles used in our 1986 kitchen, and rectangular metal tiles). 
Nope, no sophisticated back-painted glass, goofy rooster tiles, or happy dancing French chefs for us on the back splash of our stove. Nope, we've settled on sensibly smooth and wipeable metallic tiles framed by bumped out bull-nosey coppery things. 
Yup, yup. That's today's decision.

Fish Story

Our International Falls correspondent has returned to his frigid base on the Canadian border to file this report and answer questions about the massive fish he consumed in the Florida Keys.
Wayne writes:
OK...we are back. Seventeen days in shorts, walking Miami Beach and boardwalks and reading and laying in the sun. We capped it off the last four days in the Keys. We stayed in Layton (just north of Marathon).
Our friends from the Falls and Pensacola met us there and celebrated a 60th birthday. Went out to eat at a Cuban restaurant and that is where the Hog Fish comes in.
Hog Fish was the "catch of the day," which apparently is unusual. Four of the six ordered it and mine came and was about twice the size of the others. The white stuff was onion. It was mild and delicious and BIG. I shared. I googled it and it is not an uncommon dish but they cook it whole and the presentation was special.
Did the Duval Street walk at Key West one day but mostly hung out at the place we stayed, The Lime Tree Inn.
Shoveled snow this morning, 8 above. Life was good for a while.