Sunday, July 31, 2011

Start the reunion!

Dorothy Marquette Hlinsky rang the District 24 school bell to start Sunday's reunion. She said she bought the item at an auction. Sixty-seven attended today's event, including alumni from the 40s to the closing of the one room school in 1970. Lots of photos and memorabilia. Yes. You'll see it here. Right now we're in Brandon on our way back to the farmhouse after a day of fun.

District 460 Reunion in Forada today

Alumni of the Oak Grove Country School District 460 located south of Alexandria gather today at the Forada Supper Club.
Organizers expect over a 100 former classmates to attend the school that was consolidated in 1970 after 100 years of teaching reading, writing and arithmetic to Lake Mary area children.
At one time, five Rolfsrud children were taught in the same room. .  . almost the equivalent of a home school.
We'll have details to share soon.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Saturday in Alexandria

On our way from the little red farmhouse to see our mother this morning, we paused along the Lake Woebegon Trail to view and photograph the Elness farmstead, where, long ago, Solveig who is Stan's sister, stayed with her Mama Jo and Papa Si while their parents were on concert tours. 

Later today, Sosie and Stan went to Alexandria's popular Art in the Park show in City Park beside Lake Henry. They passed dozens of booths before Sosie spied the perfect item: vintage silverware crafted into windchimes. After finding just the right one, it was admired by her old classmate Carol Engstrom, who was attending the fair as well with her husband Gary.
Then Sosie made a mandatory stop at the Runestone Museum to purchase the perfect gift item: A Birthplace of America License Plate Holder for some lucky friend. 

Tonight, after a refreshing swim in Lake Darling, Sosie is attending a Theatre l' Homme Dieu performance, while Stan and his Mom support the Twins. Tomorrow, we'll gather at the Forada Supper Club to see hundreds of alumni from Oak Grove Country School, where all six Rolfsruds learned their ABCs.

Observation from the porch

The coffee was hot on the cool farmhouse porch as we sat on the wicker looking out at the cornfield this morning. We watched a squirrel and some birds and observed a rain storm as it came in and left. The corn seemed to grow taller as we chatted amiably about topics of interest.
Yes. We have adjusted to this lovely house without television or microwave. We did have a radio and Stan listened to the Twins playing ball in some far away location. We believe they won, but can't be certain as he drifted off to sleep in the attic before the final inning.
On to Forada, to meet reunion organizer Anne Marie Hiebel, while Sosie chats with Mom.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Farmhouse on Lake Chippewa, Brandon, MN

Sosie and Stan arrived this afternoon at the sweetest little farmhouse in Douglas County. We've rented it for the country school reunion weekend, and it has obviously been a labor of love, inside and out. There's no television or internet. We have a radio. It's easy to find some wifi as you drive through Brandon and that's how we're posting this. There's a path down to the lake with a paddleboat we can use.
Just talked to Reunion Organizer Anne Marie Hiebel Tatum. We're going to meet with the Forada Spper Club folks at noon tomorrow. We're getting a chicken buffet with all the fixin's for $10.
Anne remembers Mom.All is well. Mom is doing fine. Spent the late afternoon watching the squirrels steal bird seed from the feeders planted around the property at the Clearwater Suites. Some mighty crafty animals. When we went to get a camera, they disappeared.
Took a stroll around Mom's place and found a nice shady spot for a chat.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Call from Bear Head State Park

Our neighbors, Tom and Sandy, volunteered as hosts at the Bear Head State Park near Ely during July. They called this morning to say everything is fine, they'll be back Sunday. They've parked their trailer on a campsite in the "best park in the country" according to some poll conducted by Coca-Cola.
They've seen a bear, weather has been nice.
We reassured Tom that his house has new shingles and that the driveway has been scoured for nails by the association president.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Linda and Ron deep in Canadian "DEAD ZONE"

It ain't easy being without cell towers and the other blessings. Linda and Ron are presently adventuring in Ontario and will also be stopping at Naniboujou Lodge near Grand Marias. (We took these photos from the lodge web site.) Here's Linda's last message from civilization before she slips away from the towers and into the wilderness. Best of luck, you two.

Linda texts from Canada:
At the moment I am lucky enough to be at a wifi that works...generally Canada isn't in service. On our way home we will be stopping at Naniboujou, a gorgeous lakeside lodge where they don't have tv, internet service or phone! We are going to see how long we last in a deadzone! Have fun!
Linda and Ron

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July on Bad Medicine

Photo by Gracia Anderson Lindberg

Monday, July 25, 2011

Today Shakopee, tomorrow the world

This high-tech Malaysian software developer has lived and worked in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and Chaska, Minnesota. He has friends in Canada and Mexico. He's looked into the Grand Canyon, marveled at Devils Tower and stared at Crazy Horse. Worked in Japan after the tsunami. Visits friends in Cleveland. Waded the Mississippi headwaters. Loves Portland, Oregon. Was granted a USA work visa good for 10 years. Tonight he ordered a pan-fried Canadian walleye by speaking in Chinese Mandarin to a pleasantly-surprised Vietnamese waitress working at the Mdewakanton Sioux Little Six Restaurant.
Dozens of flags are sewn to
the backpack, each
from a country he's seen.
But somehow, this cosmopolitan world-traveler had never seen a horse race or hit a golf ball. We checked off both items during his three-day stay.
With the state now back in business, Canterbury Park is in full gallop, so Kathleen and Alim put $2 down on the Jake Mauer tip sheet's hottest pick. . . which then came in second to last. Jake is Joe's granddaddy, so Katie had to get a hug, renew her friendship and talk baseball with the old tout. But if they would have only bet on the pony in the photo above instead (No. 8) they woulda, you know, coulda won big.
Says Alim: "Joe who?"
Later, after a bucket of practice golf balls and half an hour of intensive instruction, Alim blistered a shot 125 yards with a seven-iron and thus qualified for the staged photo (below) on nasty No. 4, Stonebrooke.
Alim leaves town at midnight tonight, headed for (gulp) Texas.
He's going around the world in 18 months, fulfilling a five-year dream. He will travel south through Mexico and Central America, arriving in Peru for a freelance work assignment. Later, he will fly from Buenos Aires to explore South Africa and then go north. He'll eventually get to Egypt via the "safest" eastern land route through the Horn of Africa. Then on to Turkey via ferry ship from Aswan to Aquaba. In Turkey he has another work contract to perform, then he turns for home. He'll take bus, rail and car across Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, the "Stans",  China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and then reach his home in Malaysia. By land.
Come with? No thanks, Alim. Stay cool. It was fun getting to know you and Happy Trails.

7:45 p.m. Monday

Just the garage roof is left, as workers continue. The rain never came.
They've been at it for 12 hours now. It was hot, cooler now.
Sharp-eyed viewers will see not only men on the roof,
but a lady in the window, watering her tender plants.

Postscript: It is now 9:30 p.m. It's dark. They are still hammering. Go home. 
Call it a day, it's been a good one.  Get some rest and be back at dawn tomorrow. Sheesh.

2:45 p.m. Monday

Photo by Kathleen Rolfsrud

1 p.m. Monday

10 a.m. Monday

Look Ma, it's raining shingles!

Off with the old

Big chunks fly off over the shrubs
There appears to be at least 15 men scrambling around the roof this morning, but there is no way to tell because they move quickly with their pitchforks and ropes and foam pads, filling the dumpster with 11-year-old substandard shingles. They're being careful to keep from smashing our plants, but we're sure something is bound to happen as they race toward finishing the project today. We got the cars parked over at the neighbors, Birdie is keeping watch out the window as we listen to the tramping and banging on the roof.
When it is all said and done, the roof will look exactly as it has. . . but we'll rest easy knowing it's good for 40 years.
The weather is ideal, humidity low, nice breeze. Happy talk so far above the roof line. Not that we'd really know. It's not in English.

Pitchforks are the weapon of choice at this point

Stand by for The Roofing News

A crack team of supervisors reported early this morning as the dumpster arrived for the first of three roof tear-offs happening this week on Abbey Point. The foreman says our roof will be done today, which will be quite a feat if accomplished. Crews will remove the old roof material, then apply 40-year shingles on the steep roof . . . under a blue sky. No thunderstorms in the forecast, just heat. We'll keep our fingers crossed. Neighbor Joe applied for a day labor position, but was rejected on the basis of the suitabilty of his footwear.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Like mother, like daughter

Just about exactly the same time Kathleen was serving waffles to our Malaysian visitor to Shakopee this morning, our daughter Jennifer was carrying on family tradition for her friends in Utah, who had gathered in a Park City dining room to eat the legendary waffle with the not-so-secret ingredients.
Jen with Tom, her host

A note accompanied her photos:
Hi Mom and Stan,
Here are the happy recipients of the family waffles! Thanks for the recipe, Mom! (I didn't give it away, even though they wanted it!)
Love you!!!

Stan writes: Everything looks good. Fresh waffles and a great photo setup too! Well done, young one!

Happy Birthday Melissa!

Our eldest just got one year older. Happy Birthday, sweetie!

Meanwhile, on a hill near Park City, Utah

This note from our itinerant Jennifer this morning:
Hi Mom and Stan,
I made it to Park City, Utah, a few days ago and it seems that the summers here are filled with concerts. Pam and Tom have taken me to three outdoor concerts in three days. Tomorrow I make waffles for them and four of their friends and then hit the road. Grand Canyon or bust!
xo Jen
And here we thought all music in Utah was performed in a tabernacle! 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

He's Malaysian

We're hosting Alim from Malaysia this weekend. We picked him up at the Mall of America tonight and right now we're looking at the Chamber of Commerce laptop tour of his country.
Tin, rubber and spices drew the Portuguese, British and Dutch to take turns colonizing this southeast Asian country, leaving behind a complex and diverse history. Now an elected monarchy made of a melt of Indians, Chinese, Malay, and indigenous people, it boasts a tolerant, laid-back culture that all sort of works.
Alim, a 34-year-old bachelor, has 14 siblings. His father is a retired farmer who worked a paddy. Alim's a well-educated software developer and has worked at Integris in Chaska and a variety of other locations all over the world. He's fluent in Malay, English and Chinese. He's presently enjoying a three-month holiday that will end with a free-lance assignment in Peru -- where he'll pick up some Spanish.
His favorite place? Prague. He worked there eleven months for DHL. Lovely architecture, people and setting. Food okay.
So it's been a fascinating evening discussing history, politics and culture. Alim is doing his best to answer our questions. He knows the Twin Cities area, we know nothing of Penang or Kuala Lam pour. But we're learning.

Our deepest sympathy. . .

We were saddened yesterday to hear ever-widening reports of the outrageous acts of inhumanity suffered in Norway. Our thoughts are with all the people of this peace-loving nation, and especially with our kinfolk, two of whom were here talking and laughing with us not three days past. We pray their loved ones are untouched by this tragedy, though this cannot be possible. Such craven acts take away part of everyone, grievous personal losses never to be measured. We stand with the great people of this small country, bidding them strength and courage in this dark hour.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Today's makeover progress

Workmen are piecing the pavers for the sidewalk and driveway
Big day today at Randy's front yard makeover in LA. Lots of progress on the pavers for the driveway and it appears the sidewalk is next. Randy has mastered his digital camera to computer to internet connection, so new photos are popping methodically into the inbox as work progresses. Plans call for extensive plantings, stoop tiles and a water feature.
You'll see it here, now that the camera is on rock and roll.
There's plenty of excitement in the neighborhood, with pedestrians stopping to inspect, chat and see what's going on.
Somewhat of chick magnet for the bachelor homeowner, we surmise.

The new gate was hand-built on site and mounted for Randy by Dave from Wisconsin. It sets a precedent for a new front door.

Today's funny face

The weather has moderated to the point we can take our walk today. But before we leash Birdie and put a poop bag in the back pocket, Emily wants to make funny faces on the computer again and play hide-from-the-dog again. Kathleen's marinating chicken wings downstairs for Missy's birthday party, before we make up a bed for our weekend visitor from Kuala Lampur. It's a busy day, thanks for your interest.

Today's Emily quote: I take dead skin off of mommy and she grows new skin just like a snake does.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Help trim Randy's house

Look at the post below with Randy's house exposed. The trim paint is tired and needs refreshing. It's a sort of faded burgundy right now. What color would you paint it? Burgundy? Brown? Plum? Here's the color we like today and submit it for consideration. It is taken from the Sherwin Williams color deck and is called Green Bay SW6481. (Remember that computer monitors don't necessarily accurately reflect color and vary widely from unit to unit.) Ok. That's our choice. What's yours? There are plenty of shades that would work, given the neutral base. There are plenty of color experts checking out this blog on a regular basis. Please add your idea in a comment below. Randy loves getting input. . . reserving the final call for the homeowner, of course. Have some fun.


Workmen have removed concrete driveway, sidewalk, sod and bushes
Major project under way in LA. 
Photo in 2009
Our friend Randy is landscaping his Los Angeles front yard this week. He's stripped out all the over-grown foliage hiding the bones of his classic 1926 architectural gem built by movie studio craftsmen. He's removed the driveway, sidewalk, sod, Birds of Paradise and assorted bushes to enable a remake of the the entire front yard. The gardner has given the scruffy signature rocket cypress trees a haircut.
We'll keep you abreast of developments (as Randy's photo-phone skills allow) as we remotely monitor the installation of a new driveway and sidewalk, privacy foliage, water feature and various plantings in a climate where almost anything is possible. Curb appeal rising. Stand by.
This is a view of Randy's front yard . . . not his rear.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Never cleaner. . .

In a previous life, our house guest, Danny Martin, was a car detailer. He put his unique skills to work in our garage this week, resulting in a pair of vehicles with a snappy showroom shine, inside and out. His toolbox includes a special blend of cleaners and waxes derived from confidential industry sources. Along with the cleanup, Stan was given a free lecture on basic vehicular sanitation.
LAST NIGHT, Dan went with friends to see the Minnesota Twins finish off the Clevelands in a thrilling ninth-inning walk-off victory, truly a stalwart showing by the hometown boys. Dan also enjoyed a few rounds of golf.
Tomorrow morning we'll return him to the airport in a stunningly immaculate vehicle.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A day with the "new" cousins

We enlarged our family today.
Cousins from Norway we never knew before spent the day with us, sharing stories, answering questions, looking at our pictures and reading from the trove of Rolfsrud memorabilia in our Shakopee basement. We talked and laughed a lot and by the end of the day we knew we had gained much.
They don't call it Bisquick in
Norway. Gunnar asked for
Katie's waffle recipe.
Our "new" cousins, Gunnar and Knut Rolfsrud, are on a 10-day tour of the U.S.A. Earlier they spent a couple of exciting days in western North Dakota at the Rolfsrud Ranch. (See post)
Today it was our turn. Stan picked them up in Roseville this morning, drove them over the rebuilt I-35 bridge they'd read about in Norway, stopped at the Minneapolis Mill District, plugged a meter with quarters from Knut's pocket, took a walk on the iconic stone arch bridge and stood high over it on the Guthrie Theater's endless bridge as a barge pushed through the lock below, drove past the newly installed metrodome roof, pointed out the Twins ballpark and got back to Shakopee in time for coffee and Kathleen's brunch. 
There's the Rolfsrud gaard.
Gunnar speaks excellent English so he quickly picks up nuances and implications, making for a breezy, non-stop conversation, leaping from topic to topic in a fascinating exchange of common interests. Knut, his older brother, patiently participates as well, getting an occasional translation, and offering interesting and humorous input.
Gunnar was drawn to the table load of Rolfsrud memorabilia that Stan's late father had produced, filled with family tree information, photos from his trip to Norway, even train ticket and laundry receipts, neatly pasted into a trip scrapbook. Gunnar chuckled as he read Dad's diary detailing his impressions of the sights and people he saw. Among the folks Dad saw long ago on that trip was a much younger Gunnar, who today found his name referenced in the lengthy journal.
Beautifully penned letters from Dad's immigrant mother, written in Norwegian to her son at Concordia College in Moorhead, were easily translated. The syntax was very formal and proper, Gunnar noted, which would be the style of that 1930s era.
Solveig and Bill talked to Gunnar and Knut from
their Sunol, CA, backyard
We broke away from circling the Rolfsrud "gaard" on Norway maps and sorting through sundry family pictures to take a Skype call from Sosie and Bill in California. Years ago, they had briefly met Gunnar in Norway at a sort of outdoor family reunion in a park, and today Gunnar had the photographs with him to prove it. Sure enough, there were Sosie and Bill, whooping it up with the locals.
Then Virg dropped in to meet his cousins for the first time. Coincidentally, Gunnar's 40-year-old son is employed by a high-tech ocean oil-field mapping firm that Virg has followed financially for years.
Gunnar said he was interested in Native American history, so before they left the county this afternoon we cruised through the sovereign nation of the Mdewakanton Sioux tribe, the proprietors of nearby Mystic Lake Casino. Virg and Kathleen idled the big Buick outside in the sweltering heat while three cousins strode through the massive maze of tables and machines, stopping only to look at the glassed exhibit of a stuffed buffalo, the "supermarket of the prairie." Farmer Knut was impressed by the size of the beast. The casino is often thought of as the new buffalo, providing a living for an entire people, much as the nearly extinct buffalo once did, the guide said.
Kathleen found Knut to have
a striking resemblance to her
late father, Leonard Neilson
Then on to the Jonathan Padelford through a classic I-494 traffic jam, then a detour-caused wild-goose chase on Shepherd Road before Virg wheeled onto Harriet Island where we bid our cousins farewell. They stepped onto the gangplank in a nick of time, rejoining their tour group for a dinner cruise on the storied Mississippi.
Invitations for future visits were made by the Americans and the Norwegians and it is our sincere hope and belief that these exchanges will continue. Our grandfathers were brothers. These are good people. They are Rolfsruds.
Cousins. Knut and Virg, seated; Stan and Gunnar