Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Four Some

Photo by Alexis the Bartender
Tuesday regulars Stan and Dave (back row) were joined by Stan's brother Steve and Dean, both from Mankato, for a nice round at Creeks Bend National near New Prague yesterday. Dean led the foursome with a blistering 84 or something like that.
Besides showing us a nice swing, Dean amused us with a routine of recycled golf jokes, but none to publish here. So here's one he's probably told at one time or another:

A young man who was also an avid golfer found himself with a few hours to spare one afternoon. He figured if he hurried and played very fast, he could get in nine holes before he had to head home. Just as he was about to tee off an old gentleman shuffled onto the tee and asked if he could accompany the young man as he was golfing alone. Not being able to say no, he allowed the old gent to join him.

To his surprise the old man played fairly quickly. He didn't hit the ball far, but plodded along consistently and didn't waste much time. Finally, they reached the 9th fairway and the young man found himself with a tough shot. There was a large pine tree right in front of his ball - and directly between his ball and the green.

After several minutes of debating how to hit the shot the old man finally said, "You know, when I was your age I'd hit the ball right over that tree."

With that challenge placed before him, the youngster swung hard, hit the ball up, right smack into the top of the tree trunk and it thudded back on the ground not a foot from where it had originally lay.

The old man offered one more comment, "Of course, when I was your age that pine tree was only three feet tall."


I see London, I see France. . . Happy Birthday, Ron

Photo by Kathleen Rolfsrud
Ron and Linda (Stan's sister) are in London today, celebrating Ron's birthday, no doubt. They're traveling in Europe for a month, we wish them a happy day and a wonderful vacation. Stand by for an electronic dispatch from some sidewalk cafe.

A safe spot ...

There's nothing quite as comforting as Grandpa's big shoulder when you're paying a call on the weird neighbors who always want to take your picture and stuff. Lucy Louise is 16 months old now and a welcome visitor in our neighborhood.

Correction. It was Italy after all

Hi Mom and Stan,
Beth, Steven, Beth's friend Luca, and I went to Chiavenna, Italy for my birthday. It was lovely. We leave for the Canal Du Midi in France on Wednesday morning, stopping to stay one night on the Cote d' Azur in San Tropez, Italy on the way. 
Here are a few photos taken in and on the way to Chiavenna.
Thanks for the birthday wishes.
Big Love, Jen

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

She's in Switzerland. . .

Jennifer is celebrating her 40th today in Switzerland. She sent us these pictures and note:
Here's my last day of being 39. I spent it on a mountain top in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Now off to the Canal Du Midi in France to celebrate. Thanks for helping me enjoy the first 40 years!
I Love You! 

Really. Not since January???

Click to enlarge and see what appear to be very exotic
shower heads. We'll ask for more detail.
Sosie and Bill are just about ready to grab a refreshing shower in their brand new gorgeous bathroom. Here's a note we got today from the excited couple:
Two guys came and installed the glass shower wall today, sealing it in place with goo. "Give the goo 48 hours to dry before you shower." No problem, we've already waited since January. We know how to wait.

The Big Four OH!

Happy Birthday Jennifer! 
She's 40 today and traveling either in Switzerland or France, we're not sure. She is on her way to the Midi-Canal in France to barge for a few days with friends. Jen, we're here in Shakopee with your Aunt Mary Lou and your cousins Heidi and Tony, wishing you the very best. Raise a glass for us, sweetie! Your mother is remembering again what a struggle it was to deliver you forty short years ago. She was up all night but you didn't check in until 10 a.m. Hmm. Is there a pattern here? (Just kidding, Ms. Reliable.)
Be sure to Skype from the canal so we can post it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Word for the day

Our friends in Hanover, Germany, emailed us last night. They've been following Hurricane Irene and said they were happy to see that the "weather frogs" may have over-stated the storm's ferocity. 
We share their relief, sad about all the flooding of course, and thank them for providing the German slang term for weather forecasters: "Wetterfrösche," translated as weather frogs. 
Derivation? We surmise that frogs, with their remarkably sensitive skins, are first to anticipate changes in the environment, and hence are the original weathermen??
That's just our guess, of course.
A subsequent check with the Mother Nature Network produced this nugget:


These loud amphibians are said to croak even longer and louder than usual when bad weather is on the horizon. When you hear their volume increase, you can assume a storm is brewing.

So they heard them croaking all the way to Hanover.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A visit to Missy and Emily's place

Mesdames Emily and Missy Blethen hosted a brief afternoon family gathering at their Eden Prairie home today. Guests included Cousins Tony and Heidi and Aunt Mary Lou.
This was Emily's first meeting with Tony and Heidi, who live in Arizona and Colorado, respectively, and had never met the soon-to-be-kindergartener. Duly impressed, of course, and they got on right away. Emily soon introduced them to the house cats and the house gerbil.
The guests were also impressed with Missy's exotic back yard fountain and floral works, something she constructed "mostly" herself.

Barefoot on the Point

Our house guests all got their workouts in bright and early this mornng: Tony huffing and puffing in the basement, while Heidi, Mary Lou and Birdie went for a run/walk.
Niece Heidi trotted out in her spiffy barefoot running shoes. We'd never seen such an innovation and she explained that running in these tough skins is better for your body, allowing a more natural running motion. We agreed, and recalled that's how we got started running in the summer times. Stan avoiding cowpies in the pasture, Kathleen only started wearing shoes in the summer after she stepped on a nail and got tetanus.
If you're in love with Heidi's "shoes" you can google "Vibram Five Fingered Running Shoes" and get your own pair.
Your blog hosts, just trying to keep everyone abreast of the latest in technology.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Da niece and da nephew

Kathleen's niece and nephew, Heidi and Tony, joined us for dinner tonight, along with their mother (Kathleen's sister), Mary Lou Brewer. They're in town for the Memorial Service for Mary Lou's late husband, David.
Kathleen made a pork roast with mashed potatoes and gravy, green salad and a vegetable medley. Stan and Tony set the table.

He wants his lakeshore lawn back!

Water has been rising all summer on Lake Darling in Alexandria. We've noted it here a couple of times. Today we received a note and photos about a resident on a penninsula between the two bays of the lake. So, while the hurricane rages out East, taking sea shore and sand dunes with it, our friends in Alexandria toil with sand bags. Here's a note and pix from Tom Obert:
We checked on our friends, Pris and Paul, yesterday.  Their house is just to the left when you come to the "T" on Casa Marina Drive - on the point between Big and Little Darling.  
All summer the water has been increasingly rising with each new storm.  Paul started sand bagging some time ago - and then they brought in 5 dump truck loads of sand to build berms.  He has been telling us this all along - but until we were there yesterday, we had no idea that he had lost half his front yard!  You can see trees and bushes in the water that were once of course on land - and you can see the tops of the riprap (that used to mark the land/water boundary) about 20 feet out in the water.  
No one can recall this ever happening before.  Paul was on Lanigan's tractor when we pulled in, spreading sand - and when the water recedes (we hope!), he will have to put in a lot of fill to build up the property before he can reclaim a lawn.  And we do have hope - it has been a perfect weather week.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ron's on full tilt

Mom got a new recliner at her Clearwater home, and her son-in-law was there yesterday to give it a test drive. The chair has a ton of comforting features and makes a great addition to the room. Ron will have to wait for his.

Composer visits his grandmother, plays favorites

Stan's talented nephew, Stephen Letnes, stopped by his grandmother's place in Alexandria yesterday and presented a short concert that brought a big smile to his musical Grandma Bev's face.
He chats with his 91-year-old fan, at left.
Stephen's the son of Stan's sister, Linda. That's Linda, Steve, and his father, Ron, below.
Visit Steve's new web site by clicking here.
You'll find "Stephen Letnes: Modern Classical Solo Piano.
"Blend the dynamic styles of 19th Century Russian/Austrian Romanticism with modern themes and melodies akin to today's film scores and you have Stephen Letnes."
You can play a tune or two and hear what Steve's been doing lately.
In other Letnes news: It's Nina's birthday today! Happy Birthday, Nina.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sometimes the Fair just isn't that much fun anymore. . .

It was a VERY long day at the Fair for some folks today.

The Bakken keeps Rockin'

"Borderline Out of Control"
Our Cousin, Guy Rolfsrud, sends us a link from Watford City, North Dakota. Click here to see more excitement in the land of our forebears. It's a piece from CNBC about all the oil action and what it is doing to what was once the sleepiest part of the country.
Rest in Peace, Grandma and Grandpa Rolfsrud.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Extraordinary North Dakota: Leading the Nation

Mad Money's effervescent Jim Cramer bubbled over the top tonight describing his North Dakota adventure, going "boots on the ground in the badlands" reviewing the booming economic conditions in this often overlooked state. Already the fourth largest oil player in the country, it's still in the early innings, Cramer boomed, after removing his roughneck coveralls and hard hat.
Cramer softballed the North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple with questions about what North Dakota could teach the rest of the nation. "This state is at the heart of the oil revolution that could make this country self-sufficient," Cramer prompted. It leads the nation in just about every prosperity measure. The governor didn't disagree. The state is pumping millions into infrastructure, has low unemployment, low taxes, cheap power, a surplus and a severe shortage of housing.
Also appearing on the show were top executives of Continental Resources and Halliburton, as well as Boone Pickens himself, who just wants America to be energy-self-sufficient. As they spoke, massive oil pump jacks nodded up and down in the background, appearing to agree with everything that was said.
"It's as big as we're saying it is," boasted the Continental chief.
If you want a job, you can get one, if you're willing to live in a "man camp." "But don't come if you don't know how to work hard," Pickens warned. Yes. They work hard in North Dakota. We know that from personal experience. It takes 50 men to run and support each oil rig installation. Continental sank 2300 new wells last year. Only 15 percent of the potential has been tapped.
The resource has been known for years, but only recently technology has made it possible to tap it fully. "We broke the code," one executive said.
The show appeared a bit short on local wisemen. Our interview candidate would be our Cousin Harold Rolfsrud, local rancher/farmer/oilman and sage who always has plenty to say. He's in this Rolfsrud home movie talkin' about the Bakken. We don't know if Harold was invited for a guest shot because the show was cut off in mid-sentence and preempted for "Breaking News" when Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced his resignation. They just yanked Cramer's North Dakota plug and returned to the studios in New York.
Yeah. Sometimes it seems North Dakota just don't get no respect.
Looks like that's about to change.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cramer goes to North Dakota

"Mad Money" on CNBC should be interesting Wednesday afternoon when host Jim Cramer heads to western North Dakota to see the Bakken Shale oil action first hand. Or at least that's what the trailers made it sound like. Keep a sharp eye out for Rolfsruds in pickup trucks.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Executive session

Brother Dan took the free bus from Minneapolis to join Stan and Kathleen for a dinner meeting of the Senior Cheapskates Club at the Little Six Restaurant today, where we enjoyed the $10 walleye dinner and fixings. Dan was impressed, but before he took the free bus home, Katie topped everyone by turning in a $5 coupon for free money.
Seniors rule!

The Help is popular here too

Kathleen has been plowing through her newest book, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and enjoying it immensely. She's midway in the book, the movie comes next. She won't be alone. It's been box office gold for two weeks now. But you already knew that.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Perfect August Evening

The weather is nice, the humidity is low. . . and the Twins are beating the hated Yankees like a rented mule. And who's attending the game? Daughter Marcy, not a baseball fan, just called from behind the first base dugout. Marcy, do you know that the Twins NEVER beat the Yankees? If you go to just one game a year, this one would be it.
A special evening indeed.

At the fair

Photo by Grandpa Al
Becky and grandsons Hunter and Blake went to the Iowa Fair this week. Details on their blog. Next week it is our turn. First day of the Minnesota State Fair is Thursday. Hope this weather holds. Here's an old movie to get you in the mood.

Friday, August 19, 2011


It was a busy morning, up early to organize Missy's garage sale, grocery shopping, etc., so a late afternoon nap was definitely in order. Birdie is always ready for that. Stan found her in her usual position: Spread out, on the bed. . . on her back. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bless This Man and His House, O Lord.

What job is worse than grouting?
Sosie writes from Kilkare Road, Sunol, CA, where hubby Bill stands resolute upon a ladder, scraping stubborn texture from a popcorn ceiling. She continues:
The bathroom genie of upper Kilkare, who has appeared regularly since January to put in volunteer hours for the betterment of our environment, says detexturizing is harder than grouting.
The glow in the lower-left corner next to his grouted tile emanates from the two-speed, water-conscious Toto toilet that made its welcome debut last month.
Bless this man, the required patience is painful, and does not come more easily for the practice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You'll eat what's on your plate, sir

1915 -- At the Rolfsrud Hotel in Watford City, Anna-Olson Fuhr who had sailed from Harstad, Norway, with the Rolfsrud family (and had walked the decks with squawling baby Erling) worked with Rebecca [Stan's grandmother] in the kitchen. They served meals for twenty-five cents. No short orders. All had the same menu, but as many as fifty people sometimes were served in one day. Lodging was fifty cents a night. -- excerpt from Erling Rolfsrud's geneology pamphlet. That's him, above, with his elder sisters.
Kathleen and Stan are planning a leaf-lookers expedition in late September across northern Wisconsin with a night or two in Door County. The internet is useful, they've found some nice hotels, but she'd like something really cute in a Bed and Breakfast. Nothing as cute as the Rolfsrud Hotel, of course. Ideas?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This year's super petunias

Just petunias in the window boxes this year. They're loving the sunshine and heat... and regular watering. Weather has been perfect for porch surfing, soft breeze, mid-70s. Today's guest: Hai Dang.

Monday, August 15, 2011

One thing always leads to another

Roofers did a great job on the new shingles a couple of weeks ago, but their ladder squashed one of our gutters.
Today a gutter crew installed a brand-new run around our front porch, with the compliments of the roofing contractor.
While it took a bit longer to install the new gutters than it took to replace a VW windshield (see post below), it wasn't much longer. There was barely time for a team photo.
They left behind a clean work site and carefully caulked joints. If gravity still works, so should these rain troughs.
We're left to admire our squeaky clean new gutters, something you mostly just take for granted. . . until they're plugged with golf balls.
Possibly the best-looking gutter crew in the Twin Cities area.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saying her piece

LuAnn Bartos Schrader gave her report of the Oak Grove School history as fellow organizer, Anne Hiebel Tatum listened. On the table rests the original school bell,  used for decades to summon children from the playground. It rang again to begin the reunion program.
Board of Education -- This solid 14 inch wide,
inch thick plank was saved from the school's roof 
when the building was razed. No knots, probably produced at
a nearby sawmill during the 19th century. Don Hiebel
brought it and gave it to Stan, along with some square nails.
LuAnn Bartos Schrader, one of the organizers of the recent District 24 Country School Reunion in Forada, compiled a history of the little school that educated Lake Mary Township children for 100 years. . . including six Rolfsruds.
Here's a link to a copy of her report. Click here to read it.. Interesting.
Others brought photographs, report cards, art work, records. . . and even a board cut from the roof of the old building, along with the square iron nails used to hold it in place.
The reunion program started with a Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. That's how the school day always started, then we'd sing some favorites from either the green or the yellow songbook.
Everyone said the pledge correctly at the reunion. But when we students first learned the pledge before 1954, there was no "under God" in it. Then the government mandated that insertion, causing many students to stumble while reciting the new pledge, until their minds had been regrooved.
"Na-na-na, you forgot to say 'Under God,'" a classmate would tease.
Ahh, School Days.
Student Body, 1940s
Don't get it? 
Consult an elder, don't bother teacher
How did one teacher with six grades have time to teach first graders how to say the Pledge of Allegiance? She didn't. We simply listened to the older students as they said it and it wasn't long before we knew it too. That's how we learned just about everything. By the time you got to Grade Six, you had overheard the sixth grade math, vocabulary, history, phonics lessons for six years and it was now old school and familiar. No surprises. Thus we learned mostly from the example of our "elders," not from our own grade-level peers, textbooks or the busy, preoccupied teacher. We knew which big kid was smart and successful and which big kid was slow. And we wanted to be more like the smart kid. That kind of modeling and motivation isn't available any more. Pity.
Among the hundreds of photos was this undated shot of the south side of the schoolhouse.
The building is gone, the victim of a gas explosion that occurred
 after it had been closed and reused as a cottage.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

August butterfly

Not to be outdone by any family nature photographer, Katie whipped out her cellphone this afternoon and produced this image of a butterfly in the junipers. Moments after the photo was taken, we were doused with a sudden, brief shower. The butterfly, and the photographer, parted immediately.

Progress report. . .

The sod is down. . .
Progress continues on Randy's front yard makeover in LA. Trees, plants and sod have been put in place,  Above, Nicole, landscape designer, pauses while the client takes a snap of the work.
To see an album of all the project pictures, click on this link.
And the lights are on!
Summer's Eve in L.A.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Stray cat has soft landing

We haven't had a cat rescue story on the blog in a long time. Here's Sosie's tale of their latest adoption:
Stan's sister, Solveig, writes:
One thing always leads to another. About six weeks ago, this petite cat swaggered away from below our bird feeder with a huge male Stellar Jay.
It was comical, but later, it was not at all funny when the cat nabbed a song bird. With a new break-away bell collar in hand, I went to find the owner, but no luck. So I fed the cat in an attempt to get close enough to collar it myself. The cat was so hungry, I fed it again and again, and turns out the cat prefers food service to eating wild birds.
The cat came morning and night and became friendly and I named her Stacey. When I was in Minnesota, Bill fed the cat and Bill named him Skamp.
But you can't feed a cat that isn't fixed! Off to the SPCA yesterday, where we learned Stacey, about one year old, is already spayed, making it likely she was left with the foreclosure across the road. Oh, but was it vaccinated? Tested for leukemia? We invested $ in her future health and thus Stacey secured her new home.
Snowball is disgusted. Where will THAT lead?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

When will there be grass, Uncle Randy?

While their parents labor tirelessly on Randy's front yard makeover, Audrey, 4, and her little sister, Paulina, 1 1/2, babysit "Uncle Randy," keeping him entertained with such activities as hide-and-seek, bouncing on Randy's bed, watching the Sprout Channel, eating yogurt, bananas and animal crackers, and making "fresh-squoozed" orange juice for a thirsty Momma and Poppa.
These efforts have pretty much kept Randy out of the way, but still there's no grass.
Maybe after he gets his nap.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Quick change artists

There's a tiny motor in the goo gun that squeezes out just the right amount.
The ding happened on Stan's birthday, so Kathleen can easily date the incident for the insurance adjuster. It all started with a little irritating chip on the lower windshield from a flying pebble, cast by a lumbering semi. Within a month it had morphed into a nasty, distracting fault line.
Today the City Auto Glass van rolled into our driveway, and we were treated to a synchronized ballet performed by two young men -- a journeyman and an apprentice --  who really know their craft.
Within the half hour, as we watched in amazement, wipers, trim and windshield were deftly removed and a brand new windshield meticulously sealed in its place.
The final detail? Move the old oil change mileage sticker reminder to the new window. This nuance momentarily fooled Kathleen. "What? You changed my oil too?" she asked incredulously as she emerged from the house and overheard Stan asking the chief what he was doing.
"No, we just transferred your sticker from the old glass," laughed the boss. "We'd be really good if we had changed your oil too."

That's okay, fellas. Even without the lube job, you're still plenty good.
Kathleen got a free can of glass cleaner as a parting gift.
What? No Box of Steaks? No. That's soo yesterday.