Friday, September 30, 2011

Cheap, not so dangerous, entertainment

On our drive downtown today to see Dan, we'll stop along the way to see some of the vintage homes on the Remodeler's Showcase. It's fun to go in to these open houses and see what's been done to improve the old nests. The Showcase is not as dangerous for us as the more famous Parade of Homes. Over the years, that event has resulted in us signing up for two properties.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Endless summer

They're called Endless Summer hydrangeas and they've been faithfully brightening our walk for months now. Here's how they looked this windy September morning, bobbing and weaving in their fall dance outfits. Plenty of warm days remain, we tell ourselves. Yesterday was a stunning show of what can be in this northern theater. Even so, we sense what's coming, feeling urgent pangs brought on by shorter days and brighter colors. But we'll brush all that away for now, to tarry a bit longer in an impossible dream of endless summer.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Virg

Wish Virg a Happy Birthday today before he heads south.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Amy

Try as we might, we couldn't find a picture of our niece, Amy, in front of the new house in Des Moines. But this one is a dandy taken by her husband, Dave, and displayed on the family blog. Sons Blake and Hunter flank the Birthday Mom.
Happy Birthday, Amy!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sending home advice for Stan

Our daughter took the ferry from England to Ireland this week and she's now bumming the Emerald Isle, enjoying the sights and the people. Jennifer has emailed pictures of a few gorgeous landscapes and beautiful home settings.  Here she is with golf instructor Robert Ryder. She caught a ride with him into the countryside Saturday. He's a distant relative to Samuel Ryder, founder of the famed Ryder Cup, golf's most prestigious team competition.

Always looking out for her stepdad, Jennifer sends along this tidbit:
"I asked him what he would say the most important thing in playing golf was and he said 'Your grip.' So there's your tip for the day."
Thanks, Jen! We'll get to work on that tomorrow when Stan heads to Montgomery for a fall foursome at that small-town country club. Meanwhile, you be safe amongst those Irish, Jennifer Kathleen.
And never forget your Sullivan roots. Might even get you a free pint.

Seaside near the home Jen is visiting

Grandma and Grandpa with Kaia

Photos by Jenn Rolfsrud
The weekend wedding of our nephew Ford's best friend brought his family members together for photo ops. See Ford and Jenn's blog for more pix. Here's Ford's parents, Steve and Nancy, sitting for an official portrait with their grandchild, who knows how to lighten things up a bit.

After 31 years, an antique towel

The lady at the antiques store in Excelsior said it was absolutely the genuine article: a Pebble Beach golf towel with the year 1919 on it. Kathleen figured it was just the thing to commemorate our 31st anniversary today. (Not that we're ready to throw in the towel or anything.) The tag says it was made in Belgium, not China, labeled Sir Christopher Hatton, so it has a good chance of being old. Pebble Beach opened in 1919. The towel?  It's in great shape, like new. "People buy these things and put them away in a drawer and they're forgotten," the lady said, before closing the sale.
It's at least old enough to hang on Stan's golf bag.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Is it time? We're just looking.

The folks at VW are trying to man up the Beetle, to sell it to a wider market. The 2012 remake has lost the flower vase, lengthened the wheelbase, added some muscle and given a gangster look to the doors.
Oprah liked it so much she gave one to every member of her studio audience. True, that's mostly women, but just sayin'.
No center post blind spot
Is it time to trade Katie's four-year-old Ladies-Only Beetle for a new model that Stan can drive too? The 2012 bug has retained plenty of headroom, something very few cars or even SUVs bother with anymore, drastically cutting into our possibilities. 
We took a test drive around St. Louis Park yesterday and were impressed by how much smoother and quieter the ride has become. Not the stiffer, noisier ride of the old "New Beetle."
Do we pull the trigger on the yeller one and drive it to LA for the winter? Or a black one? Blue one? Is this now enough of a man's car for Stan to drive it with unabashed pride? Do we need the in-dash navigation? Upgraded stereo? Sun roof?
All good questions.
Dustin at Westside is standing by.
Normal size dash, no vase, plenty of electronic goodies

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It never used to be this way

Things are happening in Western North Dakota that never used to happen before, sighed Stan's rancher cousin Harold tonight. Stan had phoned congratulations to him for the stunning Bison victory over the Gophers, but talk soon turned to crops, cattle and oil.
The family farm sits on the massive Bakken Shale formation, site of an epic oil boom that has changed everything in North Dakota and points west. "Two thirds of the vehicles on the road have out-of-state plates," he said. "There's more traffic around here than on the Interstate."
Trucks pass on rural roads, laden with tons of sand and water for cracking fissures during explosions to be set off in the rock formations a mile below. It's boggling. Different.
Others are telling stories of the economic impact this region is having on the country. Of the population surge, the wages, the housing shortage, the price of milk.
We'll tell these two:

1. This time of year, bulls get horny so it's not unusual for an occasional fence line to get busted out and livestock spread around. One day Rolfsrud cattle were reported loose on the roadway, so Cousin Dave dutifully went to round up the usual suspects. But this was no bull rush: Four strands of barbed wire had been neatly cut from BOTH sides of a steel fence post, leaving a big opening to greener pastures. "What kind of enemies have we got?" mused Harold, upon seeing the handiwork. But it turns out that a pipeline construction crew working in the area had chained a four-wheeler to the bottom of the Rolfsrud fence post for safe-keeping. A thief had then snipped the wires, which allowed the chain to be slipped over the top of the fencepost, freeing the prize. The Rolfsruds got their cattle back. Don't know about the workmen's four-wheeler that started it all.

2. Cousin John, a volunteer firefighter,  helped pull two men from a crashed vehicle. Neither spoke English, though one possessed a North Dakota driver license, possibly counterfeit. They were carefully strapped to backboards and rushed to the emergency room. Once there, the story goes, a doctor released the straps on the boards to begin his examination. The pair promptly popped up and skedaddled.

These things just never used to happen in North Dakota.

No papers? No popovers

Hot, buttery popovers at the Renaissance Festival seemed like a great idea for breakfast this morning. Dogs are allowed on the grounds, we've seen them there for years, so we figured today we'd include a stroll around the fairgrounds for Birdie, good training for a dog who needs to relax and be calm around new people. We grabbed a leash and a baggie and drove over. Then we met the Royal bureaucrats at the Pets gate. Your dog needs to be registered, show proof of vaccinations, have a photo ID made and pay the king $15. By then, between the regulations and the fake duck, Birdie had had quite enough, so we're home again, eating carmel rolls instead.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chilling out on Chicago Ave

Verticals at left came crashing down on top of the stereo
Here's Mid-town Danny enjoying some easy listening this a.m. with the piano stylings of Floyd Cramer's Songs from the Heartland. The mangled window treatments have been repaired, the construction adhesive is holding, and Dan has removed his hard hat. Yes, sharp-eyed reader, that's an honest-to-goodness phonograph turntable grinding out the tunes. Floyd doesn't do digital.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The not-so-special at Trotters

Danny outside Trotters on Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul
The adhesive gave out on Danny's condo window treatments not long ago, and a big section came crashing down, almost scaring him out of the Lazy Boy. Today we locked and loaded the glue gun and smushed the fallen rail back into place against the concrete ceiling. Tomorrow morning when the construction glue is set, we'll hang the verticals again and go home. There's a sleep-in at Dan's, don't you know. There's free wifi courtesy of Allina Hospitals in the food court downstairs. Howdy! from the Global Market on Chicago and Lake in Minneapolis.
Earlier, while waiting for the glue to dry, Danny treated Stan to an evening out at one of his favorite St. Paul eateries, not far from his old neighborhood. It's a sort of an alfalfa sprouts place, all organic and natural and such and full of women talking about their lives and just doesn't quite fit Danny's meat and potatoes image, but he loves the joint. So we went down and Stan ordered the special: a chicken salad -- celery and almonds and lettuce and tomato -- on one of their homemade sesame street buns. $7.25. Dan went with a little lady size sandwich and bravely ordered a bowl of the soup of the day.
He's never had a bad bowl of soup at Trotters, says he. He looks forward to the day's offering. Not tonight. The cream of mushroom soup did not met Dan's standards. One slurp was enough.
When we got back, he grabbed a slice of pepperoni pizza at Jakenos downstairs in the Global Market. Told you he was no alfalfa sprout.
Stan's Special Number One (note the blue plate)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Recovery mode in LA

Late word has been received by wire from the exhausted host of Saturday's Palooza on Rowena. Readers may recall seeing the announcement inviting everyone in the LA neighborhood to celebrate Randy Anderson's front yard makeover.
Apparently LA still loves a good party, because from the sound of it, a large, eager segment popped over After Five, with food in hand and good times in mind.
The fun seekers enjoyed the music, a gorgeous buffet, copious libations and each other, we're told, though details from the host are sketchy. He reports that, two days later, he has now reassembled the site sufficiently to be able to turn final cleanup over to the professionals.
No photographs were taken during the event, owing to the excitement, distraction and intensity of it all. With the earnest host primarily attentive to the needs of his guests, the camera was set aside.
So the gonzo frolic is largely left to our imaginations, but as consolation we have received some post-party images of the new front patio barstools, custom-welded from scratch by Depot Dave, with cushions selected by the house coordinator. The handsome stools were completed in a nick of time for Saturday night and, happily, appear to have survived intact.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Grad party for The Master of Arts

Rebecca, Rachel, M'liss
Petra and Elgin
Elgin Switzer received his Master of Arts degree at age 40 so his sister, Rachel, threw him a big party today. Elgin's mom is Kathleen's life-long buddy M'Liss, who frequents this blog with some regularity.

Going up top
That's her in the photo above with daughters Rebecca and Rachel, a medical doctor and a mortgage executive respectively. While Elgin, with his German sweetie, Petra, was the center of attention, an old-fashioned Star Wars pinball machine in the basement caught a good share of Stan's time, bringing him back to his wasted days and wasted nights at the Student Center.
M'Liss' husband, Chuck, and her sister, Dorothy, were in attendance as well, making for a jolly Sunday afternoon in South Minneapolis.
Dorothy, Kathleen, Chuck

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The New Loo

We installed a new W.C. in the guest half bath today. It's a Big Boy comfort model, just the thing for the modern household. They're very proud of them at Lowe's. We're flushed with excitement. No leaks. Yet. It took us the afternoon, while watching the Gophers squeak past Miami of Ohio. Now we're pooped, wiped. Tanked. Sorry.

Randyland Palooza tonight!

Neighbors and assorted scamps are gathering tonight at Randy's renovated roost on Rowena Avenue in Los Angeles. Randy's front yard makeover is complete and he's celebrating with a ginormous cocktail and potluck party and everybody's invited!
We just hope the celebrants keep off the new sod.
The courageous Norwegian bachelor host, famous for memorable over-the-top extravaganzas, has rearranged the furniture, burned fresh CDs, lit the fire, leafed out the buffet, loaded the bar and scattered these invitations around the 'hood:

Cocktail-Potluck Party 
Saturday, Sept. 17th  
After Five 
Randy Anderson invites you to imbibe, nosh & mingle with your neighbors & other assorted local scamps on Saturday, Sept. 17th. 
Anytime after 5 P.M. …as the sun slowly bids adieu...around “magic hour,” when the softening light fades into brief perfection, then quickly on, the indigo evening invading, yes, that’s the right time to fall by for something cool. . .

As some of you’ve noticed, the Rowena premises have been under a magical landscaping make-over this year. David Hamre & Nicole Hammacher of H & H Design Group created all the fabulous work, both front & back. The husband & wife team will be in attendance mit der darling kinder, Audrey and Paulina.


Stan has partied with Randy since their college days, and if history is any guide, the neighbors will absolutely love this bash. We hope to get some photos to share. Stand by.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rebekka Heide Rolfsrud history posted

Family friend Beate Heide just sent us a link to a Norwegian web site that tells the history of Stan's Grandmother, complete with photographs. It is on a Norwegian Arts site, and very nice, but it is also in Norwegian with no English available.
Here it is, have a look.

If you can't read Norwegian, fear not. Today Norwegian Cousin Gunnar Rolfsrud kindly responded to Stan's request for a translation. It is not detailed, but gives us an idea what is said there.

Here's Gunnar's note from Norway. He's rushing off to St. Petersburg on a vacation, but was able to complete a summary for us.

Hello Stan,
Everything is fine here in Ulsteinvik except for the weather. It is windy, wet and cold, In other words, a normal Norwegian September.

I have been looking at the web site you attached and the story about your grandmother Rebekka. This is very interesting so you should absolutely try to have it translated into English by a Norwegian-speaking American. (I'm afraid my English is not good enough to make a satisfactory translation.) I have asked the Arts Council in Oslo if they have this in English, but unfortunately the answer was no. Here comes a small summary:

Fortellingen om en utvandrerkvinne.  Poesiboken.   
(The story about an emigrant woman. Poetrybook)
In few words the story starts with your grandmother and why she wanted to go to America and also what work she had to do to do to obtain enough money to the buy the ticket. As you know your grandmother Rebecca Heide was child number five out of eight. Parents were Bendiks Marcus Heide II and Anne Kathrine Nilsdatter. She was born in Trondenes, Oct.11th. 1875 and lived on Groetoeya. She worked with the production of drying cod (Baccalao) and also sewing dresses etc. for other people. Her parents wanted her to marry a not-to-close member of the family which made her even more eager to leave for America.
Before she left Norway, she bought a book she called "Poesiboken". Her grandaughter Rosalie has this book today.

Minner (Memories
The story goes on about her family in Norway and about the Poetrybook, her grandfather Hans Fyhn Heide from Harebakken in Kasfjord and Olaa Hansdatter from Aun and her greatgrandfather Claus Christian Heide.

Til afskje (A poem about good-bye) 
A beautiful poem form Bendiks to his daughter Rebecca when she left home for America. She was then 26 year old and he was very sad when she left.

Livet (The life)
This part is about Rebecca's life in America. Where and when she arrived, with what and where she worked, how she met Nils and got married and also about their children and living conditions.

Hjem (Home)
About a visit back to Grytøye with Nils and their four children in 1913 and their return to USA..

Båndene til Norge (Ties to Norway)
About the communication and traffic between Rebecca's family in Norway and USA .

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Joe and Mina's Salmon Fry

Joe and Mina, founders of the
feast, seasoned a slab before grilling.

Tonight the neighborhood feasted on Joe and Mina's recent Lake Michigan salmon catch. Our highly-trained gourmet chefs gathered at Anne and Bill's for the annual potluck, headlined by massive slabs of carefully grilled and seasoned hand-caught fish. Accompaniments included creative salad and vegetable plates, fruit and cheese samplings and sweet desserts, all matched by an assortment of vintages procured for the occasion.
Byerly Cooking School Honor Graduate
Greg Collier managed a side grill

Creeks Bend Revisited

File photo
Dave and Stan hosted Steve and Herman again at the Creeks Bend National Golf Course near New Prague on what was felt to be the nicest day of the summer yesterday. Steve had devised an exotic competition to determine the summer championship that only he could fully comprehend, but to no avail. The Mankato duo was swiftly hoisted by its own rules, chastened by its betters and returned to its lair with valuable life lessons learned on this glorious fall day.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Later that day in Nisswa

Southern exposure
Joe Simenstad is burning night oil, continuing his ambitious restoration of the family log cabin. The big front picture window is in, along with the other windows necessary to enclose and heat the place for wintertime work. 
Hurry, Joe, the winds of November will soon be upon us all.
We're expecting Joe to pause from his Nisswa labors later this week to join us for an overnight in Shakopee, when we can question him further about the progress of this daunting project.

Kansas City, here we come

Lots of laughs at the breakfast table today, as our guests Deb, Bruce and Mary Lou told stories about everything from hidden Christmas gifts to the reason that weightlessness in a falling elevator isn't the same as weightlessness in outer space.
The trio departed promptly and on schedule this morning, with Bruce issuing five minute warnings to his travelmates. In town for the David Brewer Memorial, they're now heading to Kansas City, then Durango and San Diego.
Happy Trails!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Report from the Canal du Midi, France

We had hoped for some posts from Jennifer as she worked her way down the Canal du Midi in France, but apparently there's no internet along this vintage waterway connecting the Atlantic with the Mediterranean for the past 320 years. Today we got this news in an afternoon post while watching the Vikings vs. San Diego.
(We watched the game with two San Diego residents, Bruce and Deb, so it was an interesting afternoon, the Vikings eventually succumbing to the superior force. Oh well. Twins, Gophers, Vikings. Might as well make it unanimous.)

Jennifer writes from Switzerland:
Hi Mom and Stan,
I'm back in St. Moritz. Canal Du Midi was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!
I'll let the photos speak for themselves, and yep we went under every bridge, sometimes just barely!
Big Love,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Huzzah for the Renaissance

Josie and Ferdinand had a great time on a perfect day at the Renaissance Festival. The South Dakota couple were back at dusk with pictures and stories to tell. Tomorrow Ferdinand, a South Africa native, will explain World Cup Rugby action to Kathleen and Stan. . . before the Vikings come on. South Africa is the defending world cup rugby champion (remember Invictus?) . . so this is a special event.

Gopher on Abbey Point

Upon his retirement from city administration, the city street department whipped up a personalized sign to honor our neighbor and association president Bud Osmundson. A big Gopher fan and season ticket holder, he had soon modified the sign to suit his needs. It has been brought out of storage and posted for the day on the local tarmac, in anticipation of a Minnesota victory over New Mexico this fine afternoon. Bud and his wife, Paula, will be in the stadium to see the debut of coach Kill and to urge on the Gophers. Meanwhile, the street sign is clearly in non-conformance to association by-laws, but what are you going to do? He is the president.

Off to the Renaissance

Our weekend guests, Ferdinand and Josie from Murdo, South Dakota, got a good night's sleep and are off to the Renaissance Festival this morning. They're both students at the University in Brookings. He's originally from South Africa and married Josie after meeting her in her hometown. They promise to return from the Festival with photos and stories to tell. Kathleen and Stan attended the first festival 40 years ago. It was called a Fair back then and took place in a Chaska cornfield.

Morning Dew on New Sod

Early September weather has been perfect. Daybreak promised yet another gem, perfect for fun at the Renaissance Festival, or just resting up from laying sod. Look carefully and see the old lawn blend with the new as the early sun draws out emerging autumnal hues.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Company's coming

Josie and Ferdinand are driving here from Brookings, So. Dak. today to spend a Renaissance Festival weekend with us. We know them through Jennifer and are eager to meet them tonight. Great fun ahead.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Cousin Erika's got a new web site

Stan's New York actress cousin, Erika Rolfsrud, has a cool new web site. Check it out by clicking here. And thanks to proud Pops Arnold for putting us on to it.

Sod Busters

Almost gone.
Note the director's chair.
The crack Abbey Point Sod Team was rolling bright and early today, putting 70 square yards worth of Kentucky blue grass on four former flower beds that had seen much better days. This morning was the culimination of a month or so of pecking away at the task and the weather was perfect and the excitement was palpable. Team members include, from left, President Bud, Stan, Greg, and Joe and Mina leaning on the shovel. Donuts were delivered by Debbie on her way to work, Tom arrived just after the photo op. Hearty encouragement came from Carla and John, and Kathleen took the picture. We'll discuss further details at a post operations cocktail hour and dinner at the clubhouse tonight.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

On to Kindergarten!

In what may have been the most photographed event of the season, at 8:35 a.m. today, Emily Kathleen Blethen stepped on to Eden Prairie School Bus No. 854 to inaugurate her pursuit of higher learning. The gravitas of the much-anticipated moment was not lost on her loved ones, and her grandparents rose early to drive over and witness this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Pardon any over-the-top enthusiasm, but this is big. Really big.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

So who ordered the Grasshopper?

From the outside, a sure-footed window-walker watched the diners. 
The Dolce Oak Ridge Conference Center is nestled in a natural area just west of the Hazeltine National Golf Course in Chaska. The views from the dining room in this architectural gem are spectacular. . . and pretty much unobstructed.
To see more of the grasshopper, click on it. To see more of Oak Ridge, click here.

Brunch at Oak Ridge with friends

Dave and Jane did the charitable thing a few weeks back and bid on an Oak Ridge Conference Center brunch package at the St. John's Lutheran fundraiser. They won it. But the big winners were Kathleen and Stan, who were invited to join them today for a fabulous spread of mid-day delights at this wonderful retreat in the heart of Chaska.
It was leaked to Alex the waiter that both couples would be celebrating their anniversaries this month, so while we were loading up on fruits, salads, fishes, roast beef, sausage, omelets, potatoes, fine cheeses, sweet breads, desserts and every other kind of good thing you can spread on a premium buffet table, some talented kitchen staff member was squeezing out personalized anniversary wishes for both couples in a fine chocolate cursive. Nice touch.
Needless to say, we had a wonderful time, laughing and stuffing ourselves, grateful to our good hosts, the Chases, who were our next-door-neighbors when we lived in Chaska. . . and they still talk to us anyway.
Thanks, Dave and Jane!
(If you were planning on sending us a card, you still have until Sept. 26)