Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vegetable Enchiladas

New this week in Kathleen's Kitchen are vegetable enchiladas for six. Emily is on a two-day sleepover and her aunties came by for the circus (one with her boyfriend) so this recipe was just the thing, picked off the internet by Kathleen.

Attention HGTV: Possible reality series

The grueling winter has made the anticipation of spring all the more compelling this year, as we face delay after frustrating delay. Soon we'll be deep into the plants, trees and shrubs, planting, pruning and carrying off winter's detritus. 
Today we received an update from a persistent gardener on the West Coast that served as an entertaining distraction as we await our turn with the pruning shears. 
Randy Anderson is a Norwegian bachelor television writer/producer, Stan's college roommate, and long-time family friend. He owns a beautiful '30s house in L.A. that has been featured previously on this blog. Randy has been working to freshen up his backyard, with the assistance of some local talent, in preparation for his sister's annual visit. 

Characters in today's episode are Dave, a middle-aged handyman/landscaper from Wisconsin who has reached Randy's soft spot; Dave's wife, Nicole, with children; Gracia, Randy's sister from Minneapolis; and assorted local laborers. Photographs of their new work are unavailable. We have augmented his report with various snaps from our previous visits.

We join Randy in the garden as he writes:

Gracia and I have been sitting outside every night under the new pergola, admiring the wonder of it all, even though the "finishing work" on the structure has yet to be done.


-- Almost two days were spent selecting, buying, transporting and planting a tree to replace the now-gone oleander. I picked out a most excellent tree at a Calabasas tree farm (long, long ways away!). Dave insisted we drive out there, so I could approve the tree he thought would fill the bill:

A "Desert Willow." In middle age. To fill in the high and wide space created by the removal of the giant, ugly, dirty old oleander.

While we were at the tree farm, Dave says, "Why don't we take a look at their Japanese Maples just for fun? They're very cool." We'd admired this type of tree during our tree-research phase, leafing through books and surfing the Net, thinking a Japanese Maple would make a nice "accent tree". Then we found out the price of the babies. Uff da.

Well, Stan and Kathleen, I couldn't resist.

I bought one that's over 30 years old, and got it at half-price because tree farmers sell by the size of the box, and Phil the Tree Farm Guy said he never got around to transplanting this particular, prize Japanese Maple into a proper, bigger box so...$1,000 value...but he'll sell it to me for $500...!!! The thing's like a work of art. (Kathleen will know this's like royalty among trees.) I knew Dave really wanted a Japanese Maple as part of his overall design, so, hell, I gave in...put it on the darn credit card!

Anyway, the big kahuna, the Desert Willow...was chosen to fill in the hideous "eyespace" created by the demolition and removal of the old, nasty oleander that's been in the corner of the wall for 40 years, providing privacy but little beauty. Dave took the oleander's root ball -- huge and gnarly! -- home with him; he'll make a coffee table out of it.

The Desert Willow weighs two tons!

So Monday afternoon, Dave rents a truck and drives back out to the tree farm, while I head home in the Pathfinder. They load the Japanse Maple into the rental -- no problem there -- but the Desert Willow must be inserted into the truck with a friggin' fork lift!

Then Dave drives to Los Feliz, parks the huge rental truck in the middle of my street, and then he and his two Hispanic worker-bees try to get the Desert Willow out of the truck, onto a GIANT hand truck, push it up the driveway, under the carport, up the lawn and into the the dark...

...well, that was the plan anyway.

Uh, didn't happen.

It's a very long story that's funny now.

But at the wasn't. It got really dark...I'm directing traffic as the guys struggle mightily to get the Desert Willow out of the damn truck. It took forever, just to do that. But now there's a tree in the middle of the street, traffic is really backing up now -- horns honking -- and...the tree won't budge across the asphalt!

So Dave gets in his SUV and parks it perpendicular in the street, backs up to the tree and ties a rope onto the bumper and around the tree box.


The rope breaks as his SUV is burning rubber and spewing smoke out the exhaust pipe -- and the rush-hour cars are piling up and honking and I'm trying to explain to the angry drivers that it'll "only be a minute" as Dave re-ties the rope and tries again to drag the Desert Willow across the street...and out of harm's way...the old wooden tree-box crumbling...when...


The tree slowly starts falling over and the two Hispanic guys are struggling to hold it up and I jump into the fray to help...and --


The tree falls down on top of me, I take a header, my left sneaker flies off, and now I'm spread-eagled on Rowena Avenue under my beautiful new tree -- with the car horns honking relentlessy -- and Dave's German wife standing on my front lawn giving useless advice in the dark, with their three-year-old in her hand, and their one-year-old hanging on her right tit, breast feeding...

...I scramble to my feet -- scrapes, bruises, and strawberries all up and down my legs and arms, dust myself off and calmly say:

"Okay, you guys deal with it, I gotta go."

Because --

-- I was late picking up Gracia at the airport!

I run to the Pathfinder and my cellphone rings --

-- it's Gracia: the plane landed early!!!

I race to LAX at 70 MPH (no traffic, thank God!) and get there in 19 minutes. A record!!

We get back (after I had Gracia in stitches telling her the "tree story")...only to see that the Desert Willow is now parked at the curb, under the lamp post near my drivewy.

Guys, it took them an hour to get it 10 feet to the curb by my driveway!

Dave smiles and says, "It's staying there overnight"...tomorrow he'll go over to Home Depot and hire a big crew of illegals on the cheap to drag the tree into the hole in the backyard.

Well, it essentially took all of the next day -- and a bunch of happy-to-work Hispanic aliens -- to drag my beloved new tree into the hole.


It's finally in ...and man, does it look beautiful...

...nary a branch broken (Phil, the tree farm owner, said the Desert Willow is "bullet-proof", and the branches are kinda rubber-bandy, thank God for the tree took a beating, and fell over many times).

But now it perfectly fills the eyesore space-hole left by the removal of the huge oleander, and no one can see into my backyard anymore, from across the wall. Privacy restored! With a big, beautiful tree that sports a gorgeous caramel-brown trunk.

Okay, so that's the Desert Willow tree story, and all true.

Back to the pergola:

Like I said, the pergola goes straight out into the yard from my bedroom...ending at about the same distance as the old concrete patio. The "ledger board" of the pergola is fastened above those two wrought iron French doors -- soon to be modified by Dave, the skilled iron-worker. Flagstone patio, with crushed granite as grout...its shape an irregular jigsaw puzzle that fits the eye nicely..with a stepping-stone path (more "buckskin" flagstones) leading from the driveway across to the patio/pergola.

Dave demo'd the old, dumb and ugly, brick flower bed outside and beneath my office window...and built a new, smaller, curved flower bed (concrete, with wood facing) so he could "purchase" more lawn space (grass!) back by the gas and water meter box. The camellia tree next to the big evergreen (bonsai'd, remember?) was uprooted and removed so Dave could do this. The camellia now sits in a giant box, waiting for a new home (still haven't figure that one out).

Today...Gracia, Dave, Dave's German wife Nicole, the two worker-bee Hispanics (Jose and Alphonso, whom I call "Joe and Al"), and moi, began to re-do the whole garden. (Scores of potted plants and flowers are strewn across my backyard lawn). Still not done. But Nicole picked out all the plants and flowers (a truckload of stuff! -- $$$$$$), and drew a keyed map of where everything should go, along with a DVD with numbered pictures of each plant and flower...I think I told you this.

So anyway, today was all about digging, plant removal, soil amending, planting and transplanting, etc...with Dave straw-bossing the Hispanics as they laid out the irrigation pipes.

We're probably half-done with the planting.

Still, even at this mid-point, the whole backyard has been magically transformed...and that Desert Willow makes it all work.

Now, listen to this...

...I tossed a spitball idea out to Dave about a possible "mini-patio" near the north end of the guests could lay on a chaise lounge in that area during the westerly afternoon sun. In mere minutes Super-Dave had a plan (change order! mission creep!!):

More flagstones, but this time with grass between the slabs...the Japanese Maple on your left as you sit there...and to the left of the Maple...a water feature for soothing effect.

Holy Moly!

My idea for this little "oasis" was that guests could then "follow the sun" the morning outside the guest house, to the "mini-patio" near the north end of the fence around mid-day, and then over to the pergola in the late afternoon.

I'm hemorrhaging money. No surprise there.

But I think, when it's all done, that it'll really be something and very well worth it.

Gracia and Nicole worked their butts off today (they get along famously)...I helped at times, but was basically the "gofer":

"Randy," say Gracia and Nicole, "we need more planting compost. Could you run back over to Armstrong Garden Center?"

"Yeah sure, you betcha."

"Buy five more bags."

"Five bags. Got it. Anything else?"


"You sure? I don't want to have to go back."

"Go! Five bags of compost!"

"Okay, okay, I'm going!"

So off I go and when I get back...of course they need more bags, and off I go again for more soil amendment.

Then, at the end of the day, Dave takes a look at what Nicole and Gracia have done and says:

"We'll need at least six more bags of compost."

(Guess where I'm going tomorrow!)

Sheesh. Twas ever thus.

Anywho, as the sun's going down today (everyone got tanned, or burned, in Gracia's case), Nicole goes into my kitchen and starts cooking dinner for all of us.

She leans the kitchen door and calls out to me: "Randy, where's your olive oil?!"

"Uh, I don't have any."


And yep, you guessed I go to Gelson's to get olive oil.

Nicole had brought shrimp, rice, tomatoes, etc...and made some fantastic dish without a name. So we sat in my dining room, and ate gourmet food and sipped a fine Chardonnay (my treat), while the two little toddlers are running around and wreaking havoc on my house...but their lovely kids, and who cares?

Dinner eaten, Dave and I go outside, him with the two toddlers in tow, and we stand, smile and admire the work in progress...and I give him yet another check...

...meanwhile, the two ladies are still sitting inside at the dining table, nattering away about how it is to raise kids, what Randy should do with the kitchen re-model, and God knows what else.

Then the Hamres finally leave, to return in the morning for another round of planting and transplanting...and completion of the irrigation system. Then Dave has to do the finishing work on the pergola: metal detailing, lighting, a fan (huh?!), and again, God knows what else...then he'll begin work on the mini-patio...and build a new flower bed underneath the carport (something with railroad ties, who knows?, but I fully trust him).

...Gracia has firm opinions on "water features" and will probably make that choice.

So far no transplanted plant has died...we'll wait and see on that, but Dave and Nicole seem to know what they're doing in this regard. (Her father was a landscaper in Essen, Germany.)

I guess this is what they call "redistribution of wealth" siphoned from the Anderson family (me) to the Hamre family.

But heck, life is short and I'm having a ball...because it's such a creative, artistic endeavor...and I know my guests are gonna get a big kick out of it when it's all done.

(So get on a plane soon.)

Then, later this year perhaps, it's on to PHASE the front yard and sprucing up the front patio (did you know there's an extinct water feature there? Dave wants to revive it!)..

I'll sign off now, it's getting I won't get into Dave's cool idea for extending the guest-house patio around and in front of the carriage doors (doors he might change). He wants to make it flat (remember, everything goes downhill on my grounds). I say, "Won't there be a step? Kinduva lip then? People will trip."

Dave says, "No big deal...we'll put lights on the face of the step."


Mission Creep!

Hey, it smells like a perfume factory in my backyard right now, as the mock orange is in full bloom.

CALIFORNIA BONUS: No bugs/mosquitos!

I call the pergola "Tranquillity Base." (And the zen-like water feature isn't even in yet!)

More updates to come, if you want them.

-- R.A.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Missed. . .

The big red tornado watch box over Florida yesterday didn't come close to our southern kin. That's all good. Soon they'll be following the sun north for a summer in the Midwest with its garden variety of weather treats.

Mobility was a table topic

Ron Letnes had lunch today with his mother-in-law at the Clearwater Cafe in Alexandria. Mom is doing fine, Ron is now recovering from an Achilles operation, after decades of running. He'll be back on both feet soon.
Stan's sister Linda adds this note from their visit today:
Both Mom and Ron are doing well. Ron needs no pain meds and Mom mentioned she is no longer taking some little white pill. I think she sparkles more than ever before at Clearwater. The staff made several comments on how much they enjoy her. I know that I really enjoy having Ron with me at the Wexford. And his mind is sharp too. :)
 Love, Linda
(Photo, and subsequent impressive electronic transmission, by Linda)

Retro waffles

As anyone who follows this blog with any regularity knows, waffles are a big deal here. We've used the old family recipe for years (cottage cheese is the secret ingredient, don't tell) but for the past decade or so they've always been made in a Belgian-style iron. The legacy wafflemaker had burned out years ago and the newfangled iron was the only one available. New isn't always better, you know. Today Jennifer and Joe arrived with their own old-fashioned waffle iron, a rarely used one that was found at an estate sale or something. You can't find such a device at Target or Kohls or Macy's anymore, believe me, we've tried. Today's retro waffles were great, big surface, lots of little waffly squares, large enough to share. Nostalgic. Satisfying.
Now, if we could just get Jenny to forget it here when they leave this weekend.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sosie Shearer, I presume?

Solveig and Bill, safely home in California from South Africa, write:

He introduced himself at the beginning of our days in Zimbabwe, “My name is Stanley. I am named Stanley because of my cute face. In my country, if you have a cute face, your name is sure to be Stanley.”

Undoubtedly, the face of Henry Morgan Stanley was equally attractive in 1871 as he initiated introductions, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” (For a most interesting story on how this Stanley acquired his name, start with

Here is the picture Stanley and I took for you, Stanley, as a reminder that your name, too, has a good story, which you have only to create.

As for Zimbabwe, our peak experience was a helicopter ride over Victoria Falls. Bill had selected March for our trip to ensure the highest rainfall, which causes the water to plunge so violently over the top and into cataracts that there is a constant spray. As we walked along the top to view the falls, we experienced the falls more than saw the falls through the blowing rain. Ironically, at the same time, Sunol experienced its highest rainfall, with 17 consecutive days of rain swelling little Sinbad Creek dangerously near trouble. So far, so good, though we don’t have any potable water until they fix a major water main on Pleasanton Ridge (behind our house) that was damaged in a landslide.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Taking a tip from the Japanese

Emily is sick today. Kathleen and Stan don't want to catch anything and it's easier for us to wear masks than try to keep one on her. There's too much coming up to be held down with the coughing stuff that our dear Emily brought home from day care or wherever these bugs come from. We took this group self-portrait just before nap time. Rest and lots of fluids. And please cover your mouth, sweetie.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How about snow?

The Minnesota River is rising and two more bridges were closed today, further isolating us from the metro area. We wouldn't go there even if we could, because a foot of snow is falling and so is the temperature.
The electrical power shut down for a while.
That's okay. We'll just sit this out, bring it on, we don't care anymore.
Our hearts sincerely go out to the workers (including our own family members) who are keeping things going, driving in to work on slippery, dangerous roads, persevering, making it happen.
Stan remembers other Wednesday mornings when the power failed in a snowstorm and there were four newspapers to be assembled and printed and drivers who would need extra time to make deliveries. Managers would appear at his office door with anxious faces wondering how it will be done. Stress piled deeper than the snow.
No. The retiree will just sit this one out with his little dog and his newspaper crossword puzzle, snuggling ever deeper into the couch by the window, watching the lovely flakes tumble down, trying to think of a four-letter word for misery.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Now it is spring!

The 2011 Minnesota Twins tickets have arrived and have been carefully inventoried and secured.  As always, they are under the direct supervison and control of the scheduling manager. Bring on the Boys of Summer!
(To get your free Twins schedule, contact Danny Neilson in promotions.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Mall, the Mint, museums, monuments and more

An Excellent Trip to Washington
Linda (Stan's sister) and Ron just returned from D.C. with stories and pictures of an exciting trip to the nation's capital. They touched all the bases: the Mall, the museums, the monuments, Monticello, the Capitol, a visit with a genuine senator, and much more. They did all this with their Colorado daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren in tow.
Here are some snaps of the action:
Yes, this is really Al Franken. The family had breakfast with the senator and he told them he had a dog named Blaine. (Linda and Ron live in Blaine) Right beside his map of Minnesota and behind his desk, he has a picture of Paul Wellstone.
Linda writes: We took this trip during Spring Break so they wouldn't miss school. I wish it would have been a little later in the spring so we could see the cherry blossoms. Still, monuments and museums don't change with the weather and they were all pretty special.

Memmo had special instructions from his teacher in Colorado to get a picture of himself at the Vietnam Memorial.
After many rides on the Metro, the kids got to be experts on the system. (above are Nina, Memmo and Antonio) "I think they liked the Metro a whole lot more than the 6, 7, 8, 9 mile walks we took each day," Linda writes. "I had my Omron (pedometer) going. I think I walked more of those steps than they did as because when you have four kids and three of them teenagers, it's a lot like herding cats."
Alyssa, Memmo, Antonio and Nina. The kids loved the Mint. This graph shows how many dollars you are worth by height.

Linda concludes: We packed up the Prius and Ron shuttled Emillio (14), Nina (15), Antonio (13) Alyssa, Memmo (11) and Corey to the airport. So many good times, good things on this trip. Alyssa got over her fear of flying. The kids say it was the best of our family trips and since they loved our national park trips, that's saying something.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Becky visits oldest town in America

Have a look at St. Augustine, Florida, through the eyes of Stan's sister Becky. She's blogging about it and took some very interesting pictures. Click here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mandela greets Sosie in South Africa

Stan's sister Solvieg and her husband, Bill, are in South Africa today. Got this note:

Just a quick note from Johannesburg, where we actually saw Nelson Mandela this morning! He waved to our bus from his upstairs balcony. So unexpected... Travel is full of the unexpected, isn't it? By the way, did you know that South Africa is the only nation to imprison Churchhill, Ghandi, and Mandela? Uffda.

Off to Victoria Falls in the morning. We expect to see hippos on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe and then elephants in Chobe National Park in Botswana. But who knows?


Friday, March 18, 2011

Really, she's okay, but thanks for all the cards and letters

Kathleen's recent fender bender that resulted in $1700 damage to her rear bumper has unleashed a flood of messages of concern. "It is so gratifying to know that so many people care about me," Kathleen told a reporter today.
So far, personal letters from three law firms have arrived in our mailbox, each one expressing deep concern about Kathleen's rights, and offering free consultation and a professional analysis of her situation by a qualified member of the Minnesota Bar.
Today she received another kind letter, sent from a prestigious Calhoun Beach Club address, which thoughtfully included an eight-page color brochure entitled "The Facts About Auto Injuries." The sender, Strauman Holistic Chiropractic, generously included a "Gift of Health" certificate for a "FREE Trigger Point Therapy Massage," (offer valid for 10 Days).
Isn't it nice to know that when bad things happen so many people care about you?

Engineer Emily

The KS&E is right on schedule today with Engineer Emily guiding the controls right up to the busy crossing with nap time.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Through this, a tweet

Earthquakes, tsunamis, radiation threats, markets crashing, a new war looming, a friend fighting cancer, anxious feelings of fragile vulnerability, trying to remember what makes us safe and strong.
Dinner with good friends last night helped a lot.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


This summer's all-school reunion of the District 24/260 Oak Grove Country School to be held the last Sunday of July at the storied Forada, Minnesota Supper Club, is already stirring things up. Schoolmates Ann Marie, LuAnn, Lorlee, Diane and others are getting the word out. It's fairly easy to figure out the class lists: you just look at the annual photographs of the one-room school and go down the aisles and the names soon come back.
There's one face that may not appear in those black and white photos, but we sure hope he can make it. Tom K.
When writers created "The Fonz" for Happy Days, he could have been their inspiration. Tom carefully maintained a jet-black ducktail with curls spilling on his forehead, wore leather jackets with the collar up, engineer boots, tight jeans, studs and rings and a cool attitude. He was a confident, friendly guy, didn't need to be mean; he drove a motorcycle or a loud custom rod with big whites, had a big laugh, a big grin, a big ego and smoked king-sized Pall Malls.
We were very impressed.
Of course he was older and wiser than we were and lived in the big city, St. Paul, which added plenty to his street cred. His mother and stepdad owned a resort on Lake Andrew so he spent summers in the neighborhood and even attended our country school for short stints.
Long before Happy Days ever became a television favorite, Tom was our Henry Winkler, a larger-than-life character you could count on to always be doing interesting things, things we could only imagine and wonder about and not fully understand.
We learned today that Tom is alive and well in Missouri. We learned this on his Facebook page, of all things, after he sent a "friend" request. We sent him back an email. He quickly responded.
He's married and he's busy. They're building a house somewhere and he said he'll get right back to us. Gotta go. No time for writing at the moment. And the reunion? Way too far in the future to know if he'll be there. His mother, Helen, 93, who sold us Dreamsicles and O'Henrys at the resort store, is "still alive and kicking," according to his brief note.
We can't wait to hear more. Whatever it is, it will be interesting. The Fonz is 70?
Ayyyy! Tommy!

Monday, March 14, 2011

An entertainment of rhinos. . .

Solveig Rolfsrud Shearer and her husband, Bill, continue to explore southern Africa. We received a post on a slow internet connection this morning, so no photos came with her report. We thank Google Images for filling in.
Sosie writes:
We had a good morning drive, to see a journey of giraffes, warthogs, herd of gazelles, an elephant, and a full entertainment of rhinos. Lunch at a Zulu village and this afternoon some time in the pool. Tomorrow we are off to Swaziland. Yesterday's lunch was at a suburb outside of Durban that felt like we were in a suburb of Pleasanton.
This is a very slow connection and other guests are waiting, so I'm off!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

At the National Cemetery

Linda Rolfsrud Letnes toured Arlington National Cemetery today with this new D.C. couple, the recently-betrothed Briggs and Lynn. Here's Linda's photo and report:
Briggs and Lynn drove out to our Dulles Airport Inn after breakfast, then we caravaned into Arlington, which helped to deliver half of our Colorado family to our next Best Western location.
We left our cars and rode the Metro to Arlington National Cemetery. That's where this shot was taken. Ron had a full agenda and thanks to B and L we were able to meet it. It was a great day for the eight of us and. . . hopefully. . . for Briggs and Lynn as well.
We so enjoyed getting to know Lynn.

Somewhere near Keene, NoDak this week

Some readers have been inquiring as to why we haven't heard anything lately from the Rolfsruds in western North Dakota. Today we received this photo with no comment. Any other questions?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

And lots of ham. . .

This morning we enjoyed our regular breakfast at the racetrack. As seniors on a fixed income we're experts on good value: Coffee, juice, hash browns, toasted bagel and cream cheese, sausage links, two eggs-over-medium and an orange wheel, all for $5.99, tax included. Today our regular waitress, Melissa, got her picture taken to honor three years of cheerful service without ever boxing Stan's ears, and also to prove that Kathleen can deftly take a spot news photo. We have found the best breakfast value in Shakopee. We've heard the best value in Prior Lake is at the Mystic Lake Bingo Palace. We shall research this soon. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Ford!

Stan's godson and nephew, Ford, celebrates today. Is it 32 already?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

From the streets of Madison

Stan's sister, Linda, and her husband, Ron, stopped at Madison, Wisconsin, today on their way to see the grandkids in Washington D.C. Here is Linda's report and photo via iPhone: (How does she do that?)

Madison was popping today, drums providing rhythm to chants thrown up to the governor's office. There were maybe five Republicans to thousands of us. Lots of good humor, lots of variety in people gathered. 
This is not a gathering of "slobs" as someone inelegantly described the demonstrators last week. My bet is that this good-humored group is not quitting soon, and I think there will be a big bump in recall workers. 

Ron and I had our senior moment. We walked for miles looking for our car. We will be supporting Madison with a $2O parking ticket for being 15 minutes late. Guess they need the revenue, we will consider it our donation to a city that gave us good company today.


Cook's Korner

In her never-ending battle to broaden her stepdad's horizons and educate his palate, Jennifer brought him a bag of quinoa last week. We made it up today, along with some vegetables and talapia, and you know, it wasn't bad.
It's about as exciting as brown rice and it has a slight aftertaste, but it is most virtuous: A cup of cooked quinoa has 155 calories, 3 grams of fat 3 grams of dietary fiber and 5.5 grams of protein. A cup makes four to six servings.
We soaked and boiled and simmered it, according to directions (it's a lot like making rice) and put it beside our usual baked talapia with vegetables. Delicious.
We have recipes for both.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

On to Africa. . .

(Image via Sosie's Iphone)
Here is Stan's brother-in-law, Bill, left standing after a Full Standard Male Body Search, witnessed by Stan's sister Solveig who is holding his shoes, belt, wallet, and backpack. The search was performed by a serious uniform who did crack a smile when Bill delivered his David Letterman line, "Do I tip you now or later?" 

Monday, March 07, 2011

Happily conflicted. . .

Stan's sister, Sosie, and her husband, Bill, left for Africa today where they will spend three weeks in such exotic locales as South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. Up until now, Sosie has been busy in her northern California garden surrounding their canyon home, some of it shown in the photo above. What about all your plants while you are away, an associate asked? Here's Sosie's instructive response:
Gardening and traveling are incompatible interests. The view out our dining room window was the best ever this morning. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of yellow daffodils across the entire back yard to greet the spring.
But if a daffodil is to bloom again next year, it needs to have its bloom removed shortly after flopping off. Which is when we will be long gone. During a short break in the rain today, neighbor Ann and I drove downtown to take down my frost cloths from my vegetable raised beds, harvest enough incredibly perfect lettuce to feed the end of the canyon, and then return home to deadhead my daffodils at their prime. We delivered huge bags of daffodils to the neighbors. Uffda. Spring next year will be all the more glorious for our frantic efforts. If we are home.

Now all the yellow of spring is gone and we are off to the other side of the equator where it is fall. Does that sound like a complaint? I hope not. That would be really, really dumb. How could one complain about leaving somewhere you want to garden to go to somewhere you want to travel?
Happily conflicted,

Sunday, March 06, 2011

In the details. . .

From left, Birdie, Grandma, Grandpa, Emily. Coffee stains by Grandpa.
Like most children, Emily loves to draw pictures of the world around her, paper and pencil representations of the way a happy little girl sees things.
Most would say that her grandfather is as bald as a billiard ball, but not Emily. Close examination of her frequent drawings of him always reveals a meticulously-detailed coiffure. Time after time, this feature is carefully repeated.
Hands and ears may be entirely left out of the work, but grandpa's hair is a fact, far too great to be denied. True, each shaft may be numbered, but they are certainly not trifles carelessly overlooked.
So there.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Auto immune?

Birdie got some TLC Saturday afternoon from a couple of her attendants. The vet said she will be fine by Tuesday when the cone comes off. Confusing about exactly what the problem was. An issue with her private vehicle or something. Not sure, but Doc said that a small mistake by a groomer Thursday and subsequent licking had resulted in an irritated and swollen Volvo.

Joe "Speed" Simenstad

He may look more comfortable than speedy, but don't let appearances fool you. Joe is resting after an intense morning of cranking our internet speed to a previously unheard of 12.9 m.p.s. (We've never heard of it either), as verified by He removed some of our legacy splitters and wired up and installed a brand-new Netgear router, so it's all good. Now our downloads are hasty, our uploads quick, and our iPhone actually works. Jenny, this boy is a keeper.

Happy Birthday, Linda!

Happy Birthday Linda Letnes. Here is Stan's sister last year with her grandchild, Anja, wishing her happiness on the big day!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Something to fall back on. . .

Just in case this retirement thing doesn't work out, our neighbors, cruising through Florida today, spotted this business opportunity for our consideration. We wouldn't even have to change the sign. Thanks for your thoughtfulness, Tom and Sandy. Here the link to our Liquidation Location.

Happy Birthday Lacey!

Lacey Amanda is 11 yrs. old today. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Hint: he's also a grandpa

It was a busy morning for Kathleen. Pick up Emily, drop the dog at the groomers, talk to the insurance claims guy, put ice on the knee, etc., etc.,
Emily listened as Kathleen gave instructions to the groomer on the telephone. "Just the usual trim. And my husband will come and get Birdie when she is ready."
A short while later Emily thoughtfully asked:
"Grandma, who is your husband?"

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Uff Da!

Kathleen was merrily driving her blue bug to the shop this morning. She'd received a recall notice for a potential problem on the fuel line. Northbound traffic on 169 had stopped, as it often does on this heavily-used freeway near its intersection with 494. As she sat idling on a bridge, she could see the white truck coming in her rear view mirror. Crash. Her first call was to 911, the second to her husband. "I'm alright," she said first, not wishing to stress him. And she is. The driver quickly acknowledged his error and then gave her a piece of paper with some information on it. But this isn't Kathleen's first rodeo. "You're not leaving the scene of this accident," she firmly informed the driver. She's been stiffed by a rear-ending motorist before, one who eventually denied that the accident ever occurred. And it turns out that the information first provided today wasn't exactly correct, it mentioned the wrong insurance company, the state trooper soon confirmed.
We hope to have the $1700 worth of damage repaired in a week or so. . . then we'll see about that fuel line.
The joys of auto ownership.