Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Night at the Ordway

Famed concert violinist Leila Josefowicz thrilled a sold-out audience at the Ordway tonight, earning a standing ovation for her part in Prokofiev's Concerto No. 1 in D for Violin and Orchestra, Op 19. The Scherzo: Vivacissimo was exquisite.
Even so, Kathleen and Stan enjoyed the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's rendition of Kabelevsky's The Comedians, Op.26 as much or moreso, perhaps bemused by the dark irony of a Stalinist-era composer producing humor for the Soviets with his cute music. His spritely Galop evoked merry slapstick images: we're sure it's the same score used in pie scenes of I Love Lucy, or at least by the Marx Bros.
Great for folks with short attention spans looking for a quick fix in the classical genres. The merriment continued into the night with Tchaikovsky's Serenade in C for Strings. The Pezzo in forma di sontaina: Andante non troppo -- Allegro moderato lifted spirits high in a town presently suffering the tragedy of a failing baseball team.
The evening's upbeat, almost silly mood was tempered somewhat, however, when Stan had to retrieve the car from 10 flights up on Level J after paying $15 for the privilege of leaving it there. Apparently there are no elevators in Historic St. Paul. He caught his breath in time for this photograph of him breaking his "No Ties After Retirement" rule, and enjoying a scotch to honor the evening's sponsor.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hey Mom! Didja feel the quake?

Sosie, you're not the only one who has to keep an eye on earthquakes. Apparently your mother does too. Our hometown quaked today. Big Ole was shaking in his boots. No kidding. Here's the report.

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. - A magnitude 2.5 earthquake struck near Alexandria, Minnesota around 2:20 a.m. Friday, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Sgt. Tom Egan of the Douglas County sheriff's office says staff at the county's 911 center felt it, and took 25 to 30 calls from the public, mostly from people who were curious about it. He says callers reported some noise and minor movement, including slight bouncing of ceiling tiles.

There are no reports of damage or anyone hurt.

According to the USGS, the largest earthquake recorded in Minnesota was a magnitude 4.6 quake that caused minor damage to walls and foundations in Stevens County around Morris.
Read more: Magnitude 2.5 Earthquake Strikes Near Alexandria, Minn. 

Wedding watch

Bright and early this morning, the Ladies of the House rose to join the rest of the world in observing the royal wedding. As the Duchess of Abbey Point changed channels, Birdie snuggled in and Winston looked on approvingly.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Grandma Linda sends birthday pictures

Stan's sister Linda has celebration pictures from her granddaughter Milla's second birthday. We present them here with this note: There will be more very cute grandchild birthday party pictures on this blog soon, so enjoy these, there will be many more. Here's Linda's notes:

Milla, the birthday girl, and her sister Anja, pretty in pink

Milla's birthday was Easter Sunday and it's taken me this long to send a few pics. When we asked Milla what she would like for her birthday #2, she said, "Pink presents". So everything was wrapped in pink or was pink.
My favorite was her pink hat, but it's pretty clear that her favorite was her new scooter. She was out just an hour later, scooting down the alley.
Erik with daughter Milla, 2

Having a purrfect day. . .

This Iphoto from Sosie this morning:
Snowball, the rescued cat, appears fully adjusted.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dinner. . . then a flush

The Ladies Who Lunch held their April meeting at Applebee's in Shakopee before adjourning to the nearby Racetrack and Casino to indulge in an afternoon of Limit Texas Hold 'em. Both, according to reports, acquitted themselves well. Of particular note was a hand held briefly by St. Paul Katie: A Straight Flush. This, experts will tell you, is a rare occurrence indeed. The odds of drawing such a hand are one in 10,000. No. That is not where they got the brand name "Ten Thousand Flushes."
It was also M'liss' birthday. The event (see photo) was marked by gifts and some re-gifts.

A one-eyed grandparent

Seventy years ago, Stan's Uncle Bayard Brown wrote to his Pop to ask him about the family tree -- a "review of the antecedents," if you will. So Paul Brown dutifully sat down and wrote a letter, carefully filling in a son on his family pedigree. Here's a copy of that letter, which is now preserved in the relics section of our Shakopee basement. If you click and zoom in on it, you can follow Stan's Grandfather's connections to the Lincoln-Douglas debates, pioneers, the Mayflower, the Revolutionary War and a one-eyed grandparent. Something to do on another rainy day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sizing up Marcy's BF

They've been dating on and off for quite some time now, but it wasn't until yesterday that Ron Lowrie qualified to "Meet the Parents." We had a delightful time with Marcelline's boyfriend as we exchanged biographies, shared favorite stories about ourselves and others, and made plans for some more fun times. Stan wants to kayak and golf with this former professional athlete (national inline-skating elite competitor) and Kathleen will be teaching him to play Texas Hold 'em. Ron grew up in St. Louis Park, lives in south Minneapolis, has his own business and is an antique dealer and vintage clothing specialist. The Parents like him. And he brought flowers.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter in Florida

Stan's sister Becky reports on a lovely family Easter gathering, far away in Florida:

Hi Stan,

Just a little shot of my high-top appetizer table where I always initiate any dinner at our house.

The Virg Rolfsruds drove from North Fort Meyers today to gather 'round for Easter spiral ham, twice-baked potatoes, iceberg lettuce salads, green beans w/split almonds, and corn. They brought the right wine and a cake to top off the feast. Always such a pleasure to have them for the this special day. They departed at 3 p.m. to visit a golfing friend living in Venice for high season before they head back home.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Love, Becky

Easter tile

We finished our little backsplash tile project in time for Easter. There's a much bigger tile project under way in California. . . the Shearer bathroom. Stan's brother-in-law Bill, (who has a new wet saw, not a borrowed one), toils faithfully onward, Sosie reports. Today she sends along this photo and caption:
You finished. We aren't hardly.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Candy Bar

It was the "Third Time's a Charm" party for our neighbor, Lisa, and her groom, Vance, at the clubhouse. The pair, (at right) were married last month, and tonight threw a shingdig for their friends and family to celebrate the occasion.
The Tex Pistols kept everyone dancing, while the Stonebrooke chefs presented a massive steamship beef round and tons of hors de ouvres.
Beneath a dramatic three-foot ice sculpture, engraved with their wedding monogram, a colorful Candy Bar beckoned guests to stuff paper bags with their favorite nuts and sweets. Kathleen (top photo) obliged.
In keeping with the fun and casual theme, three of Lisa's pals gowned up as bridesmaids (below) in tastefully coordinated black, white and pink outfits.

Everybody had a great time. . . except maybe for a few moments when a guest accidentally bumped a glass of wine onto the bride .
Oh well. Lisa quickly dried and reappeared in a new blouse, none the worse for the wear, and delivered a nice speech to the 250 partygoers.
 We joined with other neighbors gathered for the joyful occasion and raised our glasses to wish Lisa and Vance a very happy life together.

The Best (And Happiest) Part of the Project

We're done! This morning we squeezed and trimmed the caulk line between the counter top and the tile; cleaned the slopped grout off the floor behind the stove and slid it back into position, reassembled the pots and pans drawer, screwed the wall plates and the under-cabinet lights back on, washed the tools, put away Virg's trusty tile saw and took a deep breath. We're done, just in time for company tomorrow! Now. About those dated cabinet knobs.

No stinging comments, please

You can barely see the back end of this busy bee, buried in his work.
Lorlee, our Texas correspondent, has taken up Sosie's challenge of getting close enough to snap a bee in action. She sends along these examples of what she says are Minnesota bees and wasps, probably taken on the family farm near Forada. She should know, she took them all with a camera with a 3X zoom and reports no problems. Of course, these are Minnesota Nice bees, not the Texas killer variety.
Photo art by Lorlee Bartos

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grandmother's hearts, Dad's iris

Stan's sister Sosie writes from California: 
Here is a picture of the Dicentra Formosa around the oak tree by the creek. We call it Bleeding Heart, but where it grows on our grandmother's island in Norway, they call it Lieutenant's Heart. The tall white and purple flower is Lunaria, also called Silver Dollar Plant or Money Plant. Between the money and hearts is Dad's iris, which will bloom next week. A large black and yellow bee is tugging on a heart in the center of the picture.
Where is Lorlee? This iPhone can pick up the sunlight, but can't zoom and the operator dares only go so close.
(Your faithful blog host got even closer, using his clever zoom tool. By the way, would Lorlee really dare to go closer to the bee than you? Comment Lorlee?)

About Grout. . .

GRrout. Starts like Groan and Grunt and Grumpy. Rhymes with Gout and Pout.  Grouting is no fun, even when you have a diligent sponge girl assistant. Thanks for listening.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The New York Times Crossword Puzzle (The Hard One)

Annoyed by the distracting daily crossword puzzle, today Emily decided she may as well join the morning ritual and get in on the fun. Grandpa started her on the New York Times puzzle and she went to work filling in letters, working from top to bottom without missing a square -- which is something only the experts are supposed to be able to do. Course they're using actual words.

He actually said this. . .

Our neighbor Tom, a former air traffic controller, says all the news about controllers sleeping on the job "Just makes me tired."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

10 years later. . . BACKSPLASH!

We're installing tile on the kitchen counter backsplash, 10 years after we promised we'd figure out that detail when the construction dust had settled and we had time. We're not yet sure where this will all end. Do we turn the corner? Leave it? Shorten it?
We know the grout. Made that decision. It's called Honey Wheat. This is a kitchen, after all.
Ten years of delay, and now we're in a hurry. Company's coming for Easter Sunday, don't you know. We'll set the ham out in front of the backsplash and post a photo.

Lake Andrews vacations an epic chapter in Peters legend

Back in the 50s, Mr. Peters owned a plumbing and heating business in St. Paul. One of his part-time winter employees, Paul Tarnowski, owned a lake resort with "modern cabins" in Alexandria. Every summer for many years, Mr. Peters brought his big family to Lake Andrews for a couple of glorious weeks of fishing and fun at the Tarnows' Resort.
That's how we got to know the Peters boys, Steve, Dan and Jim. Shortly after their arrival each year you could hear them hollering in a high-pitched chorus through the woods that separated our home from the resort: "EE AH KEE" they would shout repeatedly in a code that was supposed to mean, "We're here! We're here! Let's play something or do something fun!"
We didn't have cell phones.
These summer-time adventures are fixed permanently in their brains, as even today they remember all the fun they experienced over the years during those magical weeks in and out of the water on the shores of Lake Andrews. They remember the part we Rolfsruds played as well, in our roles as providers of local color and resources for youthful explorations.
We lost touch with the Peters boys decades ago, the links broken as we grew up.
Steve Peters today
The Peters boys never forgot those days of excitement, often reliving the experiences with each other at family gatherings. But they could never remember our last name, even though they had driven past Dad's proud "Rolfsrud" sign on our front yard planter again and again those many years.
Last week, in one of those inexplicable brain flashes, Steve remembered it.
It didn't take long to Google up a connection to our unique last name and get a phone number and soon he was chatting with Stan's sister-in-law Nancy --- who had never heard of the Peters boys but gamely helped fill them in anyway. Sunday afternoon it was our turn for a person-to-person revival of the fabled Lake Andrew tales. Stan had an animated conference call with Steve in Faribault and his brother Jim in Indiana. Or was it the other way around.
Anyway, we talked about boats and fish and swimming and digging holes and a possible summer crush on our sister Solveig -- that name was not forgotten -- and promises were made to get together over coffee sometime, and to look up the old Lake Andrew pictures from the 50s. Those haven't been found yet, but we have one that Steve emailed along with this note:

I'll need to look further for Tarnow Resort Pixs, but this is how we would have looked back in the early 1960's.
This is grandma, and all the cousins who would have a family reunion each year in the big cabin - further to the south at the resort.
Dan is top left, I'm bottom left, and Jim has the big ears on the right.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Widows Peak Reprise

A week ago Stan and Kathleen recommended "Widows Peak," with the caveat that the movie would be more fun if you only knew the ending in advance, which we would be happy to provide. Stan's sister Sosie took us up on it, we revealed the ending and she rented the movie. And she enjoyed it more than anticipated. Here's why:
Sosie writes:
Remember the references to Limerick and to the Adare Flower Show where Mia Farrow showed her roses? We stayed at the Adare Manor ( some years ago with Zach and Jenn. We had found an incredibly cheap deal because it was February when nobody wants to golf. We had a 2-bedroom townhouse, large breakfast every morning at the Clubhouse, and a car for a week. Plus airfare for some phenomenally low price. Such fun that was. Limerick is nearby and we drove through it several times. Here we are at the bar in Adare Manor, where Zach treated Bill to an Irish Whiskey tasting. We should go sometime.
Near Widows Peak location. Bill, Sosie, Jennifer, Zach

A visit with Uncle Ron and Aunt Linda

Three pilgrims from West Des Moines journeyed to Alexandria over the weekend to see their Grandma Bev for the Palm Sunday weekend. On the way, Adam and Kim brought little Landon for a visit with Uncle Ron and Aunt Linda in the Cities where they enjoyed a lunch and this photo op. The family stayed at Arrowwood on Lake Darling in Alexandria where they used the water park and Mom got a pedi.

Linda sent the cell phone photo and this comment: 
We really did enjoy our visit with Kim and Adam. It was the highlight of the week for me. Ron and Adam talked marathons and flying. Kim and I had our own interests to cover. Have you ever seen a happier mother than Kim? We all got to Granite City in Maple Grove before our appointed time of one p.m. (must be some of Steve R going on here, except we didn't drive around the block to make it perfect) and visited until nearly 3:30. Landon was great, happy to sit in his chair or in his parents' arms.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thanks, Virg!

The ever-sharp diamond blade has never been replaced on Virg's electric tile saw. Operator usually wears safety glasses, always a Mankato East sweatshirt. 
(Photo by Kathleen, standing on the shop stool.)
Before we get around to building any peanut-butter bird feeders, there's that tile backsplash for the kitchen wall. The project has been on the things-to-do list for 10 years now, and this week, for some reason, we got a burst of energy and brought home 50 square feet of stone tile. The job would not be possible, of course, without Virgil's Super Tile Saw. We've borrowed it intermittently over the years; it's a humble device, but it just keeps on cutting. Eventually it found a permanent home in our garage, and today we uncovered it. It still slices tile like it was a breast of chicken.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's cold, blustery, more snow?

No color or warmth anywhere near here yet, so Emily, soon five, drew this for you today. The round yellow object in the center is the sun, (surrounded by clouds of course) which is something we haven't seen much of lately, so Emily had to draw it from memory.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Meanwhile, in Southern California

When last we posted news from Randy's LA back yard, he was sitting with his sister under the new pergola, awed by the wonder of it all. Work continues on The Big Project, as we join him in today's email note:

Stan and Katie:

Finally got around to checking out the Rolfsrud blog, and saw your postings on my project.

Very nicely done! With old photos...then the new "teasers."

One correction: David tells me the Japanese Maple is 75 years old! Not 30, as I previously wrote. He's begun building a custom box for it...with a curved concrete facing, and then chunks of the buckskin flagstone glued on to that. Or some such. Again, I trust him, even though I often don't know what he's doing or what he's talking about.

Work has slowed to a crawl, as we near the finish line. I think David has three other projects going on at the same time now, and sometimes he doesn't show until the alien crew uselessly rakes dirt, pretending to work, taking half-hour pee breaks and hour lunches -- on my dime -- $$ -- waiting for "el hefe" to post --


My mantra on this project (unlike the guest house project) is:


Go with the flow. Let it be. Etc, etc.

Haven't lost my cool once...nary a word of dismay or anger at mis-management of time, bad prioritization, and such.

I'm just letting it happen.

Easier that way...and as one gets older...what the hell...why invite angst?...

...back to the important stuff:

At the tail end of Gracia's visit, I gave the crew a few days off so she could have some peace and quiet. Besides that, she was working too hard and too much, even though she LOVES gardening.

The uprooted camellia is still a problem; we don't know where to put it...and it's not happy in its box.

I thought for sure when I sent the "teaser" photos that one or both Rolfsruds would say: "Randy, the boxes around the posts are too big!" (See photo)

Anyway, that was one of the "emendations" I made. David re-did them, more to scale. I think they're the right size now. Last week, David went into iron worker/welder mode...sparks he did the iron detailing on those boxes. He also insists on re-staining the pergola a darker brown. I'm not sure why, but again, surrender.

The flower bed, near and under the carport, is basically done...using railroad ties, and a truckload of new dirt driven in from Calabasas...this new flower bed features a "desert pod" of huge agave plants that David brought over and he told me he got the agaves cheap off Craig's List! Huh? The guy's an amazing scavenger, to keep costs down.

Now he wants to build the water feature himself. Gracia and Nicole had picked a water feature off the Internet, after much surfing and searching...but Dave says, "no." He wants to pilfer a medium-sized boulder off the side of some road in Malibu, so we don't have to pay for one, and drill a hole in the rock, and go from there. It'll be a "rock fountain", custom-built, so we won't have to spring for the pricey pre-made water features found on the Net.

More nooz:

Alphonso ("Al") got fired last week for breaking too many irrigation pipes. He showed up yesterday, seeking money. David told him to take a hike...telling me, "the guy slowed me down by days because he broke so much stuff." With day laborers, you get what you pay for, I guess. Poor Al. Banished back to the parking lot of the Home Depot in Glendale. (Truth be told, he was a little thick.)


Jose ("Joe") remains on duty; but was laid off for one day, as punishment for sloppy staining and rough-housing too many transplanted plants, killing them. Aaargh and uff da.

But we remain a merry crew...with me adding my cheap (free) labor to the project now, to keep the train moving down the track. Big drawback: my knee really starts barking at the end of the day, so I gotta watch it. Too much stooping and lifting really sets it off.

Monday, Nicole (David's wife) brings over a detailed, color drawing of a massive re-landscaping of my front yard and patio. Oh, boy. Serious mission creep. The "map" was nice and everything...but way too complicated, too feminine, too big for my lawn space, and way too much maintenance.

Back to the drawing board on that one. I didn't plan on doing the front till much later...the Hamres kinda jumped the gun on that one; I think they want to move in.

Today I told David what I really want to do next is continue working on the "Walk of Shame" (his phrase for the stroll out my kitchen, up the ugly concrete driveway to the guest house). I call that Phase I-A...and will tackle that long before I go to the front.

Meanwhile, Karri Turner (actress/poker player), Gracia, and Kristie keep bugging me about the kitchen remodel.

Next year, girls! God willing and if the creek don't rise.

Anywho, the irrigation system's finished and on auto-pilot now, all the flower beds are done and planted with beautiful stuff, the hole has been dug for the water feature, and prep work begun on the box for the Japanese Maple. Oh, and a larger size of the "Harry Potter" sconces on the guest house were ordered and installed outside the French doors to my bedroom, underneath the "ledger board." Nice. More lighting to be done by Dave..."up" lighting in the pergola...and some more lights to feature the trees near the back wall, I guess. Hoo Nose!?

A week ago, Karri came over to inspect the progress of the project (remember, it's her "handyman"...she's known him since 1990; holding out on me!). Well, of course, Karri had some things she thought should be done. Uh, lotta cooks in the kitchen, girls! I'll mention one addition/emendation of Karri's that I might authorize: a wood frame around the iron French doors outside my bedroom. (David's also going to do something to make those black iron doors more fetching to the eye, but I didn't understand exactly what.)


The wisteria near the footing post/boxes are growing like Topsy, and should top the pergola by mid-summer.

Finally, feng shui (sp.?) issues:

One afternoon, Gracia spent a couple hours arranging and re-arranging the patio furniture in the pergola...trying to get it "right." Over and over again she did this. Gracia finally got what she thought was the right arrangement...and flew home the next day.

The following day, Nicole arrives, toddlers in tow of course, and immediately announces she doesn't like the arrangement of the patio furniture. Wants it back the way SHE had it.


I find all this amusing.

That's about it for updates...except that we still have the trim painting to do on the guest house and carriage doors (a lot of peeling over the years)...and then on to what David sez is the final step in Phase I: Cutting out the ugly St. Augustine grass, poisoning the roots of the St. Augustine...then re-sodding with "Marathon" grass...followed by ten days of "Don't Walk on the Grass!"

Thanks for your's all for you and other guests...

-- R

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We wore layers. Kept them on.

Here we are checking out the view from a handicap section before the game. As seniors, we arrive early so the game doesn't start without us and we lose our place.
April outdoor baseball games are always going to be dicey in Minnesota, but we layered up today and took our chances. No problem. There was a bit of a wind chill, but we were okay through eight, then sat in the shuttle bus as the game slipped out of control. Other than one or two exciting innings, the Twins were as cold as the weather, losing 10-6 to a mediocre Kansas City. But we never got rain and so counted our blessings and left the plastic sheets in the camera bag. The fan seated next to us must have heard it was going to be 55 degrees today. He was wearing bermudas and flip flops as he sipped his $7 cold beer. He must not be from around here.

Can you sweep a two-gamer?

We're going to do our part today to get the Minnesota Twins out of their slow start. The bats were active last night with Valencia hitting a walk-off single in the tenth to propel the Twins 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals. Another cold April day today could ice those bats, we'll see. We'll wear layers. Go Twins. Noon start.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Shaggy rug story

Whether hopelessly dated or on the cutting edge of the brave new world, it doesn't matter to Kathleen's brother, Dan. Hip or not, he just loves the feel of a shag rug. So when we spotted this shaggy neutral specimen on top of the 8x10 "special purchase" pile at Home Depot, we had to have it for Dan's retro man cave. It went down on Sunday. Dan was out and about when we delivered it, so when he got back from church he may have figured the surprise had been heaven-sent. He phoned in his thanks during the Masters yesterday. He'll watch old movies in cushy, barefoot comfort now.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

No customers

Out in California, Stan's sister Sosie has a busy, busy bird balcony, loaded with seeds and treats and water for the most finicky of feathered friends. If you stay in the guest room, it is your job to keep the customers fed. This week we went out to Home Depot to obtain our own Minnesota feeder. We've seen lots of robins and blackbirds and ducks so far, and even a muskrat in the pond, but so far not a single visitor to our new feeding station. We bought the deluxe palace and the no fail seed too.
Maybe if we kept the little girl away.. . .

Friday, April 08, 2011

It's genuine leopard print

Today's postcard from Lorlee's blog

Lorlee loaded this item onto her site (see link at right) today. It is a vintage postcard featuring Becky's former employer's property in Des Moines, Iowa. Becky (Stan's sister) had a career at Meredith Publishing for many years, including their flagship Better Homes and Gardens. Lorlee's postcard is undated and we're not sure if this building still stands. Becky? Comment please.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Way We Were -- 32 years ago

In 1979, Stan's nimble-fingered sister Becky created a family tree quilt. Erling and Beverly's six kids and five grandkids each dipped their hands into red paint and stained this white fabric with their unique palm prints. The result was this stitched-together gift honoring Mom and Dad. It has been cycled around a bit over the years, and this summer it has a new home on our screen porch. Just the thing to mute the western sun when we're trying to watch baseball. We clipped on some o-rings and hung it on cup hooks, so the quilt can be opened or closed at will.
Now look at Stan's little twig, middle left. There wasn't much on it in 1979. Kathleen and her three girls missed the cutoff by a full year, as they made their sudden addition to the extended family in the fall of 1980.
Nonetheless, we'll cherish this one-of-a-kind treasure. . . then pack it up safely for someone else to enjoy.
Thanks, Becky!

Happy Birthday, Nancy!

It's Nancy's birthday today and here she is at a party, flanked by sisters-in-law, Linda and Kathleen. Happy Birthday, Nancy!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Randy's New World

Gracia took some pictures of her brother's back yard project in LA before heading home to Minneapolis. See previous post for details about this extensive, complicated project. These photos show the new pergola, flagstones, Desert Willow, Japanese Maple and the many other plantings put down this spring. There's still more to come, they're 75 percent done, according to today's note. We've received numerous inquiries from jealous gardeners, wanting more details. Click to enlarge the collage and zoom to your heart's content.

Monday, April 04, 2011


Yes, at last, we have ignition! Now stand back everybody, she's gonna blow!