Sunday, February 27, 2011

But did they let you inside???

This photo came to Stan's cell phone this afternoon. Stan had no idea how to pry it out of there. It was thoughtfully sent by our itinerant neighbors, Tom and Sandy, who are lording it over us now because they are at the Twins game in Florida and we are not.
Kathleen was able to retrieve this image, so now she is lording it over Stan because he's unable.
You may recall that the last photo our thoughtful neighbors sent was from a hammock somewhere along the Caribbean.
Yes, they apparently got inside and sent us this grainy proof, but regulars Mauer, Cuddyer, Young and Morneau didn't play, they note. (The Japanese guy got an rbi) Mauer, like Kathleen, is taking knee injections to improve lubrication in the joint. Kathleen is out and about anyway, doing her chores. Don't know why Joe can't keep up.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A live chat with Magic Jack

Or, Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Please wait for a site operator to respond.
You are now chatting with 'Charlin'
Your Issue ID for this chat is LTK436010874477X
Charlin: Hello, how may I help you?
Stan Rolfsrud: How do I cancel my number, etc., so that you stop billing my VISA. I am not looking for a refund, just an end to the relationship. I can't find any way to do this. Just places to sign up. No place to sign off.
Charlin: May I have your magicJack phone number please?
Stan Rolfsrud: 612-886-6xxx
Charlin: Thank you
Charlin: Please wait while I check that for you
Charlin: Thank you for patiently waiting, Stan
Charlin: As  I have checked it here the $20.91 charge on your account last 01/19/2011 was for the auto-renewal feature that was enabled on your account.
Charlin: However, we can process you a refund but you need to disable and deactivate your magicJack if you no longer want the service.
Stan Rolfsrud: In January, I went in to the web site and disabled that, I thought.
Stan Rolfsrud: What else can I do?
Charlin: I'm going to paste a link for you. Please open a new browser then copy & paste the link or do a right click and select "Open in New Window". Here is the link:
Charlin: Let me know once you're logged in
Stan Rolfsrud: What do you mean, open a new browser.
Charlin: Right click on the link I gave you and select "Open in New Window".
Stan Rolfsrud: Ok. I am on the self service support window now
Charlin: Click on "My Account" tab and check if the status under RENEWAL says "To Activate Auto-Renew".
Stan Rolfsrud: I can't find my account tab. I did, however earlier see that renewal says "to activate auto-renew" I had changed that tab earlier. I am sorry but I can't get there right now I will keep trying.
Charlin: Alright
Charlin: One moment please...
Charlin: I am transferring you to one of our top 10% agents as rated by our customers. Please hold while I transfer you.
Please wait while I transfer the chat to the best suited site operator.
You are now chatting with 'Rosey'
Your Issue ID for this chat is LTK436010874477X
Rosey: Hello . My name is Rosey. To better assist you, let me put you on hold while I read your previous chat/s. Thank you
Rosey: Thank you for waiting
Rosey: It appears here that you were chared for auto renewal
Rosey: May I ask if you are currently using the magicjack?
Stan Rolfsrud: I am not on auto renew. I just checked it. I went in a month or so ago and changed it. Now when I look at it I have the option of beginning auto renew.
Stan Rolfsrud: No I quit using it months ago. I now have OOma Premier. I went in and changed the auto rnew function, I thought, and now I went in again, and it is not on auto renew.
Rosey: Okay
Rosey: So you would like to get a refund for this
Rosey: ?
Stan Rolfsrud: Can you just take it off my current VISA? I don't want to be charged indefintely for a service I don't use anymore.
Rosey: Yes, I will make a report on this to our billing admin for them to process your refund
Rosey: It will take 2-3 business days for the refund to reflect on your account
Rosey: Is there anything else I may help you with today?
Stan Rolfsrud: Thank you for doing this. Magic Jack is a fine company, but there is a bit of a communication problem. I know you are trying hard. Can I get some kind of confirmation that this is going to happen?
Rosey: Yes, we can delete your card from your account
Rosey: I will include it on my report.
Rosey: Is there anything else I may help you with today?
Stan Rolfsrud: No. Thank you.

Oscar insight

Again this year, we haven't seen all the Oscar nominees yet. But we know someone who has, our own Hollywood correspondent -- television writer/producer Randall Anderson, who's Stan's college roommate and Kathleen's poker pal. So before we sit down with a bowl of popcorn and a beverage Sunday, we asked him to handicap the winners. "Randy," we wrote, "It's the 'King's Speech,' right?" His prompt response:

The sentimental Oscar establishment, being dominated by suckers for schmaltz, always gives trophies to actors and actresses who play characters who are blind, deaf, dying, senile, cancer-ridden, or afflicted with such syndromes as Tourette's (see Hoffman, Dustin, in "Rain Man").

So, yes, "King's Speech," about a stutterer, is already in the lead in the Oscar race. And will win several awards. Bet on it. Colin Firth is a slam dunk for Best Actor. Helen Bonham Carter is a long shot for Best Supporting Actress. Hollywood, and America, thinks the Brits have more class and talent. Still.

Natalie Portman, with her tasteless comments at the Golden Globes, might've badly hurt her chances ("Black Swan") for a gold-plated nude statue. No Audrey Hepburn, she. And the movie was a bit of a downer. Hollywood loves uplifting bullshit.

"True Grit," although a Western (and Westerns always get down-graded in Hollywood as not "serious"), will surely garner some awards...with young Hallee Steinfeld almost a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actress.

The Oscar voters are mostly old, farting codgers, and techno-phobic, and so "Social Network" probably won't win much. No one seems that enamored of the uber-slacker schtick of Jesse Eisenberg, either.

Dark horses for some trophies: "Winter's Bone" and "The Fighter."

But it's "The King's Speech" in a land-slide.

Oscar's son, Randy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Bakken is Rockin'

It was enough to make him pound his Hallelujah button.
"Why don't you go out to North Dakota and see what I am talking about," yelled the peripatetic Jim Cramer into the CNBC Mad Money camera tonight. "The Bakken is Rockin," he proclaimed, "the Williston basin is capable of doubling this nation's oil resources."
Kathleen was throwing some pork chops on the grill but she stopped everything to watch this. She's an old Bakken Shale oil fan and knows the family connection. Her mother-in-law even sends her news clippings about it now and then.
"How come I had to read about this in the trade journals and not on the front page of the New York Times," Cramer complained to his audience. Turns out that Cramer, usually well-informed, only recently discovered what we've known for quite some time: Western North Dakota, where Stan's Grandma and Grandpa made homestead claims over 100 years ago, is hot. Hotter, some say, than Saudi Arabia. And now, with crude oil hitting the $100 mark briefly, it's getting famous. Which is sure to make the Norwegians blush.
Cramer used up a 15-minute segment to slobber on about possible ways viewers could invest money in companies doing business related to the immense Bakken shale oil reserves. And he thought North Dakota was probably much safer than the Middle East. (He apparently hasn't ever seen Cousin Harold driving his pickup off-road.) It was fun to watch.
So how can you make money in western North Dakota?

Well, maybe Nils and Rebecca Rolfsrud had the right idea when they opened The Rolfsrud Restaurant and Lodging House 100 years ago. Their idea was to serve immigrants coming into the new land looking for land to farm. Nobody was thinking about oil then, of course. Just some fertile ground to plow around the rocks and gopher holes. Who knew from oil? Grandfather Nils, crippled by a mining accident, occupied himself taking Norwegian newcomers around in his buggy to find available claims.
Tonight, Cramer suggested investing in a number of companies we've heard of (Hess, CLR, Haliburton) and a host of others that we haven't. But all his investment strategies seem pretty complicated and risky and not very much fun. 
Maybe we'll just reopen the restaurant. Kathleen can grill a really good pork chop.
Stan's father and aunts outside the restaurant in Watford City, North Dakota.

Valentine leftovers

Stan's pal from Alex, underclassman Burke Kiger, is offering this leftover batch.
He says that this is what happens when you let a man bake Valentine cookies.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Heading West. . .

After 18 years as a Stonebrooke Golf Course Man Friday and proprietor of the Danny Martin School of Charm, retired flight attendant Dan Martin packed it all in today and headed west across the Dakotas with his life's possessions in a rental van. He'll make his new home in Grant's Pass, Oregon, where he hopes to catch on with a local course. We're sure he'll miss the Minnesota winters, but he's got family on the coast to help make up for that. Dan was kind enough to leave behind a few bottles of scotch (just too old to travel well) as well as a 10-point rack taken from a red deer (Kathleen's absolutely very favorite decorating accessory) to hang in the green room. Good luck to ye, Danny Boy, yar a good mon and friend.
Never fear. We're sure we'll see him back here time and again: he's got lifetime flight privileges.

Yes, Charleston seems like a good idea right now

By David Landsel
February 17, 2011

Ready for spring? When the flowers start to bud and the trees begin to bloom, few places outshine South Carolina's romantic Lowcountry. In these final weeks of winter, now's a great time to plan a spring spring getaway to Charleston, the region's star city and one of the South's most appealing destinations. Here are 10 things do to as soon as you get off the plane.
1. Check out the art scene. Charleston is known for its historic charm, but it also boasts a vibrant contemporary arts scene well worth exploring. Start with a visit to the College of Charleston's Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art located in an attractive new space on Calhoun Street.
2. Try the shrimp and grits. If you eat one thing on your next visit to Charleston, it should be that famous Lowcountry dish, shrimp, and grits. Simple to make, impossible to master, try the rendition at Anson, a Charleston classic where the grits are housemade (grown and produced, yes) and topped with not only juicy shrimp but bacon and roasted tomatoes, too.
3. Shop differently. Charleston remains remarkably independent from the outside world; it may be a small city, but it manages to sustain a healthy number of unique shops, particularly as you move north and away from the touristy bits of the historic center. Start a crawl of Upper King Street -- perhaps the best shopping strip in town, even in trying times likes these -- with a visit to Blue Bicycle Books (; make sure to check out new shops coming in on nearby Cannon Street. Take a breather just a block off King at St. Phillip Street's chic Hope & Union (, the city's best coffee bar, not to mention one of its most beautiful cafĂ© spaces.
4. Hit the beach. Charleston's got the harbor, but just minutes away, the charming village of Sullivan's Island has the ocean. Springtime isn't sunbathing time -- not in this part of the world, anyway -- but it's definitely a great time to hike along the beach, or explore the mostly residential island on foot. Follow up with a stop at Poe's (, the town's coolest pub, for beers and burgers.
5. Get the full treatment. In recent times, Charleston's gone high-end, attracting wealthy travelers from around the globe. This means really luxurious (and really pricey) hotels like the Charleston Place, which feels more like an urban resort with multiple restaurants, shopping, and a spa. Even if you don't stay over, book a massage; spa guests gain access to the hotel's health club, which features a saltwater pool under a retractable roof.
6. Drink up. The best thing about the city's restaurant-of-the-moment, Husk (, isn't the restaurant at all. The real action is right across the alley, in a renovated brick building, where you'll find the Bar at Husk. Squeeze your way in -- it gets crowded -- and ask to see a cocktail menu, filled with Southern classics, including the Sazerac. Just a few blocks away, the more laidback, speakeasy-ish Gin Joint ( makes for a sophisticated second stop, with more classic drinks and house-cured meats for nibbling.
7. Tee off. A short drive from Charleston, Kiawah Island is one of the country's top golf resorts, featuring five championship courses in privileged oceanfront locations, all centered around one of the East Coast's most luxurious resort hotels, The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island. Any links lover should at least glimpse what life is like on the island or budget a couple of days of serious play.
8. Take a long walk. One of the best things about Charleston is how long you can spend there without ever needing your car. The core of the city -- south of the Route 17 highway -- is compact, safe, and walkable. Start your exploration with a morning on foot in the prettiest part of town, the prized South of Broad neighborhood. This area has an embarrassment of beautiful residential architecture and offers expansive harbor views from along the breezy Battery. (For best results, read the Pat Conroy novel, South of Broad, before visiting.)
9. Dine fine. Charleston loves to eat and has several high-end restaurants. But if you're looking to cut through the hype and just want to go to where the food is best and most consistent, head directly to FIG ( The name is an acronym: Food Is Good. Simple? Yes. So is the restaurant itself, with a fun, neighborhood bistro feel that welcomes more locals than tourists on some nights. The food -- smart, carefully thought out and sourced New American -- is equally accessible, too. You really can't go wrong here.
10. Explore the Lowcountry. Coming to Charleston and not getting out into the quieter parts of the Lowcountry is like coming to New York City and not seeing Central Park. You can skip it, but you'd be missing out, big time. At least once during your stay, hop in the car and head out into the wilds; a great destination is bucolic Beaufort, one of South Carolina's most perfectly formed and preserved old towns. You might just find yourself wishing you'd planned a vacation here instead.
Find Airfarewatchdog's latest list of cheap fares into Charleston here.

Read more:

Monday, February 21, 2011

January rewind

Yes. It is January all over again. We got 18 inches during the past 24 hours. We had a couple of appointments today and made them, but we weren't totally shoveled out until late this afternoon. Sadly, our neighbors Joe and Mina were scheduled to depart for a Mexican vacation this morning. They were delayed and left this evening. As we waved good bye, Mina shook her head and said they'd be spending the night in the Phoenix airport because of all the rescheduling. Hope there's enough left to enjoy the vacay. For our part, we watched "The Parking Lot Movie." Gave it three out of five stars. Reminded Stan of how he got by in his college days.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Congrats to the MIAC Head Coach of the Year!

Read on with us as an excited Mom (Stan's sister Linda) explains exactly what happened to our niece's St. Kate's swim team last night. We think it was all really terrific, and we're so very proud of Coach Shana. That's a jubilant Dad, Shana and Mom in the picture, taken with Linda's Iphone.

Linda writes:
Last night was the culmination of a six month concentration of effort on preparing the swimmers for the MIAC. Shana's girls moved up to fifth place, broke 12 school records...some standing as long as 1981..., all of them had time drops to dream for, St. Kate's diver was Diver of the Year - won both diving contests (excellent diving coach) and Shana won Head Coach of the Year. She deserved it.
The night was simply perfect. There are years in sports where no records are broken, not this year. And since Shana has been doing the recruiting for the past three years, they have broken records each of those years. The diver will be going to nationals (has automatic scores) and one of the swimmers probably will go as well...she earned consideration times in three events but they wait until times are in from all over the nation to pick the 25 or so who can compete in each event.

You go Shana!  See if you can spot her in the middle of the team crush. 

Small business news

The new logo was installed at The Upper Crust yesterday. Head Baker Dan Neilson approved it personally. (Sharp-eyed bakery fans will notice Beverly Rolfsrud's original hand-written Rye Bread Recipe glued to a board and posted under the clock. Click to enlarge for a closeup. Write to this blog if you need a copy of the actual recipe for home use.) Now we need your help. There are four knobs yet to be installed on the utensil drawers in the yeast proofing-table, above. Should its knobs be painted red or blue? Please indicate your choice in the comments section below, along with your prize preference. Winners will receive a coupon good for a choice of fresh pumpernickel or a bag of bear claws. 
(Limit one coupon per person, subject to availability.)

Brutal, brutal year

These flexible orange snow sticks are meant to guide plows after a snowfall. Ordinarily, these sturdy fiberglass rods stand up quite well, proudly showing workers the line between driveway and flower beds and lawns, minimizing damage to landscaping. But this year has been a tough one for all concerned, as these battered warriors can attest.
Today we are bracing for a new attack. Over a foot is on the way, they say. Snow crews will just have to locate our driveways by memory this time.
We're out of sticks.

Friday, February 18, 2011

This is not a toy, Emily

Stan writes:
Breakfast finished, it was time to get Emily out of the pajamas. In the bottom of the clothes bag was Missy's phone, it must have accidentally fallen there as her busy mother got our granddaughter packed this morning.
I have a cell phone. Kathleen has a cellphone. Kathleen can now take pictures with her cell phone. I can't. It is just something I haven't put together yet, along with texting, facebook, etc. etc. I suppose I could learn, but.
I handed Emily her mother's phone as we pulled her pants on and forgot about it. Next thing I knew, she was playing with it. Before I could tell my four-year-old that the phone is not a toy and to just give it back to me, I heard a familiar sound, like the noise you hear when Kathleen takes a picture with her cellphone. As I watched in amazement, her little fingers busily captured the image, stored it in memory, and displayed it. Then she presented her results to her stunned grandmother.
Amazed, I grabbed my old camera and got these shots as she made us some more pictures.

Moon Glow

The moon glowed brightly all night long through our bedroom window and then made a yellowy exit into the woods, slipping away just as the sun rose. We laid awake in it a little, wondering about it all, and then we kept hearing this favorite Rod Stewart "Moon Glow" rendition. Please click to enjoy it with us.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Heading home

Wayne writes:
We are heading home. Celebrated my proposing to MaryAnn 35 years ago on Valentines Day.
One more day on the beach, wonderful street vendor chicken and cilantro rice salad last night with a friend.
Bus to Cancun today, should be up in the Falls airport at 8:00 pm tonight.
Lots of photos taken by MaryAnn to share later. Unfortunately, no breast- taking views.
MaryAnn is up, the dog is doing great at the sitter and I can't wait to get back and find the Minnesota Lottery booth.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Brothers of the Trough

Plans for an All-School Reunion for the Lake Mary Township District 24/460 "Oak Grove" School are under way.
As many as eight grades were taught by a single teacher in the one-room school located on Highway 29, a few miles south of Alexandria. It closed in 1970, the property was sold, and the building has since been razed.
The reunion is planned for Sunday afternoon, July 31, 2011, at the Forada Supper Club in Forada. Cost is $10 to cover food.
The school opened in 1869, serving area children for 100 years. Organizers hope many will attend the get-together, along with parents and others, to renew acquaintances and share memories. There was no running water or hot lunch. Students walked or were driven to school by parents. Two outhouses stood in the rear. School taxes were kept low.
Attendance peaked in the late 50s as administrators across the country struggled with the baby-boom surge. A second, part-time teacher was added for additional classes in the tiny stone-lined basement. The completion of Jefferson High School in 1962 and subsequent adjustments allowed for the eventual consolidation and closing of Oak Grove, along with all other such country schools in the state.
Reunion planners hope alumni will bring photos, mementos and memories of their country school days.
For more information, or to join a committee, contact Dorothy (Marquette) Hlinsky at 320-763-7402."

The only thing that flushed was Duane's face
By Stan Rolfsrud
As I prepared the press release for our upcoming reunion, it was hard not to embellish it. Recently a letter-to-the-editor appeared in the local newspaper, the Alexandria Echo/Press. In it a student, hoping to promote a school bond issue, lamented the deteriorated condition of Jefferson High School, referring to it as a “curmbling crypt.”
Goodness, I thought.  Do the toilets flush? Are the bathrooms heated? Well ok then, young feller, just shut up and go back to class. Why, I remember the day. . .
I suppose it was about 1953. It’s hard to remember exactly. I do remember that eight grades worth of country kids had just spilled outside for recess and were getting a game organized when the most peculiar thing happened: the bell rang. Surprised, we obediently headed back to our one-room schoolhouse. “Just the boys, just the boys” somebody shouted. This was really odd and unprecedented.
All the males from District 24 quickly and silently assembled before Mrs. Barsness, baffled by this curious interruption.
About 20 yards behind the schoolhouse there were two small outhouses, their corners conveniently serving as first base and third base. On the third base line was the boys biffy. A ball hit over its roof was a foul. Anything bouncing off the wall was in play. Inside was a classic two-holer with a special added device that allowed the boys to remain standing. This clever handcrafted item sped the process of relieving the male student body and drastically reduced demand for the two sitting positions.  It was simple. A bread-pan deep trough with a sheet-metal backboard was hung against the inside wall. This drained into an opening cut through the side of the bench built over the abyss, where a fantastic icicle formed during winter months. About three feet wide, it was just enough for two small boys to stand side-by-side before it, true Brothers of the Trough. No one ever called it a urinal.
The outhouse was swept out daily and paper changed as necessary by a schoolmate assigned to the role by the duly-elected student body president. Remarkably, there was very little, if any, grafitti. There were a number of reasons for this. 1) It was forbidden and we were a timid and obedient lot; 2) everyone knew everyone else’s handwriting and were prone to tattle; 3) you spent as little time as possible in there.
I present you with all this detail to prepare you for The Big Incident.
Mrs. Barsness, the iron-hand of District 24, got right to the point. A first grader had tattled that someone had, um, peed on the boys bench, she said, and we were going to sit right there until the guilty one had confessed. This was anarchy and she would have none of it.
The dozen or so suspects sat together in stunned silence before her, trying to imagine just who had the temerity for such a lawless, obscene act.
Diane, Sonja, Duane. 

Eventually it became clear that our teacher had not personally inspected the crime scene, but had relied solely on the testimony of an inexperienced first-grader, who was now isolated and probably frightened by the cataclysm of events his complaint had triggered.
It took a wise elder in the eighth grade to solve this mystery. Duane Bartos had already attended town school for one year, before crowded conditions sent him back to the one-room school for one more year. He knew about many things. And teacher liked him, he was no “pet” but she relied on his maturity and world view from time to time and he knew it.
“Teacher,” he said in a respectful tone, “This is kind of embarrassing to say, but you know, but sometimes when you’re using it, the way the back of that thing is angled, you can get some spray sometimes and I don’t think anybody intentionally, but you can’t help it sometimes. . .”
Mrs. Barsness had heard enough. Relief came to her iron face. She knew she had backed herself into a corner and now Duane had given her a way out. Yes, maybe the bench was indeed moist, but nobody had done it on purpose, she decided. A win-win.
Without further ado, she dismissed the assembly and we went back to our playground. I don’t remember who, if anyone, explained the situation to the girls or if they would understand it anyway. I do remember inspecting the premises in question and agreeing with other boys that there was nothing particularly unusual about the day’s conditions. What was the big deal?
It was clearly time for our first grader to just man up.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Early bird gets the worm,

The second mouse gets the cheese.

You're definitely a senior when you can go to the wrong clinic in the wrong town, but still make it to your doctor appointment on time.

Stan and Kathleen went to the 212 Clinic in Chaska for a routine appointment this morning.  The receptionist sweetly told us that Dr. R is at the Ridgeview Clinic in Chanhassen on Mondays. No problem for us. We made it there with 10 minutes to spare.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sweet 'n Simple (She's sweet and he's. . .)

Photo by Dan Martin
They were advertised as "Simple Treats" in a Feb. 5 post on Stan's sister's blog:
On her blog, Becky wrote:
I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and picked up three items:
  • mini-pretzels
  • Rolos (chewy caramels in milk chocolate)
  • half-pecans
Along with how-to-do-it directions, Becky posted a seductive photo of the chewy treats. They looked fabulous, her readers applauded, and so her smart-ass brother deftly left a sly comment on her blog:

"When can I expect my package?
Your brother, Stan"

Dan. He liked 'em. Liked the movie too.

Today, by Priority Mail, delivered to our chilled mailbox, Becky's Simple Treats arrived, along with a sweet note, signed "hee hee." A total surprise. We're laughing and enjoying the munch-ables tonight, as we watch "Elsa and Fred," an award-winning romantic comedy from Spain, with sub-titles. We were joined by our itinerant pal, the legendary charmer Danny Martin, who dropped by our house tonight with nothing better to do than mooch a burger with fried onions from Kathleen, drink some Scotch, and watch our Netflix movie.
Says Kathleen, Dan and Stan: "Yummy, yummy, Becky. We truly love the simple!"
Thanks, Sister, what a sweet surprise.
Bro Stan

P.S. "Elsa and Fred" was great too. Very unusual, and a heart-warming tale for seniors.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Meanwhile, at Playa del Playboy

Wayne is still in Mexico with MaryAnn. He writes:

We took a long walk around 7 and just finished the hotel continental breakfast of fruit, croissants and strong coffee. Our usual routine.
It rained quite a bit last night and it's very humid. But I have not spotted any of those long shafts of ice growing down from gutters. I have forgotten what they are called.

Today I have duties. Walk across the street and exchange a $100 bill for 1124 pesos. Then I have to walk all the way down the block in this damn humidity and purchase a bottle of that cactus juice that you drink with limes and salt. It makes you smarter. The only problem I had last evening was not enough questions were asked of me while I was full of answers.
We are down to three from a group of six. Not everyone is retired.
Lots of Europeans in this hotel and on the beach. Not the best for conversations but easy to distinguish because the poor European women cannot afford to purchase tops to go with their thongs. Poor things.
Well MaryAnn is ready for the beach, the dog is fine at the sitter and I'm still searching for the Minnesota lottery booth.


Grandpa, Do you know how to blow your nose?
Emily and Stan have both have had runny noses and colds this winter, but they're better now. (The colds may be related, they were sequential). Even so, try as she might, Emily has yet to master nasal management techniques, and posed a how-to--do-it question to Grandpa this morning.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


February, 2010

February, 2011
At the end of February a year ago, our neighbors took the top picture and sent it to us in Arizona to help us stay in touch with our roots. This year we were here to experience nature's glory in person. Now with warmer temperatures and a new freeze-thaw cycle on its way, we believe our monstercicle has a good chance of growing to a record length. 

We'll use two five-footers, Katie and Katie, as yardsticks to observe our Minnesota perennial slowly blossoming to its full glory. (This is more fun than kicking chunks in a parking lot.)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Happy Birthday Heidi!

Here's our niece Heidi King (top center) on Skype with her cousin Jennifer, her mother, Mary Lou and her Alaskan. (The photographer is in the little box) We hope she's enjoying a fun day in Durango today. We're sure her husband, Sam (photo right), has something nice planned.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Reunion this summer

The Rolfsrud Alma Mater, otherwise known as Oak Grove Country School, will celebrate an All-School Reunion July 31, 2011 at the Forada Supper Club. Anyone who ever attended the school is invited to this Sunday afternoon affair. Co-chairs are Anne Marie Hiebel and Lorlee Bartos.
In keeping with the modest roots of this august educational institution, the cost for food is being held to $10. Or bring your own cold lunch in a brown bag. Bottled milk from Carlson Dairy is available at a nickel per half pint. Merle Trousil will take your money. Just kidding about all that, but the cost really is just $10.
So mark your calendars now, alumni, you've been invited!
(There are five Rolfsruds in the photo above, taken in 1956)

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Power of Solar Energy

Right outside our unheated screen porch today it is 7 degrees. "Dangerous" wind chills of seven below are being reported by weather people. Going to the mailbox is a tough errand. But the sun is shining brightly today and it is a stunning 65 degrees on the porch, perfect for a lazy afternoon nap for an old man and his dog. There are open gaps between the deck boards and the storm windows are mere single-panes, but the powerful February sun is melting snow off the rooftops, warming our "one season" porch with radiant heat and promising that with a little more patience, things will get better.

Breaking News!

Lynn pops the question!

(She said Yes!)

Hello Stan and Kathleen,

Lynn has asked me to marry him! He is exceptional and I am so happy, proud and lucky to be marrying him. We are excited to spread the word! Can you help? :)

I hope you are both doing well!


(Briggs Rolfsrud is Stan and Kathleen's niece, presently living in Washington, D.C.)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Mrs. Murphy's Rolled Date Cookies

The best cookies in the whole wide world may just be the date cookies made from time to time by Kathleen. These cookies are legendary; Kathleen has shared them with co-workers in lunch rooms; friends and relatives, and even made them as a guest baker in a south Minneapolis coffee shop (below). The warm, vanilla-date-filled cookies are old fashioned and delicious -- anything that starts with a cup of sugar, a cup of butter, two egg yolks and half a cup of whipping cream (don't whip) -- has to be great!
Kathleen doesn't bake them that often, but when she does, it's an occasion. She got the urge today and made a small batch. She took five across the way to Mina and Joe. They're quite familiar with the product. Mina has already put one away to give to her sister when she comes.
It was in the late 50s when Kathleen befriended a neighbor lady, Mrs. Murphy, a great baker and cook. The two became quite attached. Mrs. Murphy had no daughters, just a son, so before she died she entrusted her legacy to Kathleen and no one else: two recipes, one for a sour cream coffee cake and the other for date cookies.
Mrs. Murphy made a good choice. Her smudged and tattered recipe card still comes out of the old wooden box again and again, bringing sweet smiles and happy memories.

Blake's "barbed wire"

This wrestling move was apparently worth a 27 inch trophy to Stan's great nephew. See blog at right or click here.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Smug snowbird files another report from Mexico

There's disappointment here this morning, as the weather forecast calls for an evening of tough sledding. Too bad, because St. Paul Katie had planned to attend a game with friends in South Minneapolis tonight. But a flush beats a straight and weather trumps poker. At least we have this cheery note from Wayne and MaryAnn, vacationing in Mexico.
Good morning from the Lab Nah hotel in Playa del Carmen.
This morning I go down the block with laundry (same day $4), then breakfast and then to Walmart (Canada's 3rd largest employer) for a few essentials.
The beach will be the next destination for a couple hours.
Last evening after cocktail hour we walked a few blocks to an authentic Mexican restaurant again. We have a pretty food interpreter with us. Great meal and a Corona was $22 for both of us, including tip. Then we walked the beach and listened to some great music.
Got some photos and my iPad but have to learn how to load it up and fire them off. I may hold off on that because you guys may want to hop on a plane and come but there is no room at the Inn.
Gotta go, Mary Ann is up, the dog is at the sitter, and I need to check my lottery ticket.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Hair cut

Grandma took Emily for a trim this morning and then sent this picture from her cellphone.

Snow tunnels, indoor style

When it's too cold outside to play in the snow, you can still make snow tunnels indoors. One of the few advantages to staying home this winter has been more time with our soon-to-be-five Emily. Today's excitement included throwing some blankets over the furniture and letting imagination do the rest. It's warming up this weekend. . . should get some melt. . . but then it is back to winter normal again.

Super Bowl site not so super

Lorlee's back yard today (She's still in slippers)
Lorlee's at home again today.
So, it is Friday and on top of the ice that hadn't melted, we have received about 3-4 inches of snow. My office is once again closed. We have no plows and I think we have used up our stockpile of sand. Temp hasn't been above 20 since Monday so this stuff isn't going anywhere.

Supposed to be in the 40's tomorrow and close to 50 on Sunday for the Super Bowl, though I am not counting on it.

On another note, Ann Marie Hiebel is working on the Dist 24 reunion. She is looking at July 31 -- I am waiting for confirmation from the Forada Supper Club that that date is available.

Lorlee -- once again ordered to stay home.

Wayne and MaryAnn in Mexico

Our International Falls friends have broken free and landed in Playa del something. Here is Wayne's note. Imagine a 64-year-old in spandex lolling beside a pool, tapping out messages:

We managed to fly over the big storm to get to Playa. Our hotel is small with 33 rooms and very clean and quaint. We overlook the the beach a half block away. The booze and food is cheap and I won't even mention the 80 degree weather and such.
Gotta go, Mary Ann is up, the dog is at a sitter, and I have to check my lottery ticket to see if I can extend beyond two weeks.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Not everyone sad to see News Council go

The Minnesota News Council has closed its doors, and though Stan's organization supported it financially for decades, he's not sad to see it go. Here's the MinnPost take on its passage. Our attorney, Mark Anfinson, is quoted in it and as usual his comments are most cogent. Click here for a good read.

Comfort at the clubhouse

Last night as fifteen neighbors gathered for the monthly Abbey Point night, most of us selected the "special" from the Family Night Feature they offer on Wednesdays. Perhaps the bitter weather and the friendly confines made everyone long for the comfort of old-fashioned food, as most of us ordered it without hesitation.
On came one big bowl of tossed salad to pass, baking powder biscuits, fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, and vegetables, with a follow-on bowl of ice cream.
Somebody said this was the classic "Sunday Dinner" spread. We recalled that it was such fare that was built into long ago church contracts which specified that parishioners would take turns feeding the pastor's family a chicken dinner as part of his salary.
So then today we read in Bev Korkowski's blog about their family debate as to the best way of making hamburger gravy.
Here's her note:

Comfort food....
Last Saturday, while a bunch of the Korkowski women were talking about "comfort food", the topic of hamburger gravy came up, and it was surprising to hear of the different ways we all make it...some put flour in with the ground beef to thicken into gravy, some add beef broth to the ground beef, etc. So, if you're looking for a good winter dinnertime item, here's the recipe I've used for years and good, so warming, and so simple!

  • Brown 1 1b. good quality ground beef with one large onion and some diced fresh garlic
  • Add 1 can cream of mushroom and 1 can cream of chicken soups. After stirring them into the ground beef mixture, add enough milk to your desired consistency. 
  • Simmer at least five minutes; serve over potatoes, rice, or noodles.
  • Guaranteed to bring back memories of hot lunches during your grade school days!

Happy Birthday, two-year old

Our dog is two today and finally showing a few signs of maturity. She still can't handle guests arriving at the front door (just ignore her, please) and she has some other things that bug us, but mostly Birdie is growing up into a real nice companion. This photo was taken by Kathleen with her telephone. She's gone to Eden Prairie now because Missy's new furnace conveniently crapped out on one of the coldest nights of the year and Kathleen has to let the repairman in while Missy is at work. While there, Kathleen could phone us a photo of the repairman in action, if she deems him worthy. Is this how Anderson Cooper got his start? (Note to Hosni: Keep your hands off Anderson.)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Ordered home again. . .

Life goes on in Dallas, but at an unusual pace. When last we left our heroine, she was iced in to her castle, unable to navigate the slippery roads of the Big D, site of Sunday's Super Bowl.

Lorlee writes:

I just now checked our 800 number and we are closed again tomorrow. I think I might have been able to get there on the bus, but it never got above 20 today so all of the ice that was on the roads is still there and in the north part of the city where a lot of our employees are it was even worse. I saw the guy next door back out today and slide into the driveway across the street and then gun it and go no where. We simply don't have enough sand trucks and no plows to clean the streets. They were using a road grader to try and clear the ice so the super bowl teams could get to the Stadium today for media day. The team buses had their own sand truck escorts -- the show must go on.

While I think I could have made it tomorrow, I wasn't looking forward to it because it is only supposed to be 10 degrees with a 20 mph or higher wind which would have been brutal standing at the bus stop for any amount of time.

So off again tomorrow -- today I just laid around, napped and read my book -- did go out to turn the heat up in the greenhouse to hope to keep those plants alive and was grateful I didn't have to be out in it.


The Dallas Morning News:
David Woo/Staff Photographer
The sleet and snow that paralyzed the Dallas area — even catching Super Bowl XLV participants from Green Bay and Pittsburgh by surprise — could hang around through the week.

Jobs, jobs, jobs in North Dakota

Looking for work? Try western North Dakota. 
Stan's cousin's son, Guy, who works for McKenzie Electric in Watford City, writes today:
Lots of oil activity in Western North Dakota. About 163 rigs drilling. They had a work-over rig on your oil well. Must be doing pump maintenance.
Stan, they are looking for truck drivers around here. Are you interested? Also needing other staff as well. There are about 500 campers parked around Watford City with people living in them. That may work well in the Arizona winter, but more challenges face campers on this morning of -30 degrees below zero here in Watford.
Work is going well and Mckenzie Electric is undergoing a massive building boom.
Truck drivers, eh? Thirty below?

Hey Lorlee! Did you make it to work today?

Early pictures of the winter storm in Dallas gave us a chill as we wondered if our classmate Lorlee Bartos, a frequent visitor and contributor here, would be able to skid safely in to work today. We await confirmation.

From the Dallas Morning News:
Rain is freezing as soon as it hits the ground, and with temperatures in the 20s and getting colder, there is no end immediately in sight. Most area school districts, including that in Dallas, have closed for the day. Authorities said no one should travel unless necessary. Lorlee Bartos was ordered to stay home.