Monday, October 31, 2011

We set a record!

Late night tricksters (9 p.m.) pushed us over the top with an all-time record of 16 Halloween visitors tonight. That may not seem like much, and it isn't, but we are working with an adult-community handicap. No young kids live in the neighborhood. Best costume tonight actually went to an adult. Lisa (right) donned a dramatic vampire outfit and made the rounds; across the way, Mina greeted the goblins in her witch's hat and cape.
Lots of fun tonight. Still a few candy bars left though.

Halloween leaves surplus

We had 10 trick or treaters in the neighborhood, including our neighbor's granddaughter Lucy, along with her Mom and Dad, That's leaves almost a dozen big beautiful candy bars with nobody to eat them. What to do, what to do.

Program note:

Hey all you Bakken Shale fans. Don't miss Rock Center on NBC tonight at 10 pm eastern time. Their first show will cover all the action in North Dakota.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween rehearsal

A big brown boa constrictor with a little girl inside and a dashing Buzz Lightyear rang our doorbell tonight during a practice run for tomorrow's Big Deal. Grandma and Grandpa had treats at the ready for Emily and Luke, of course. Missy and friends arrived with the kids on their way to a "Trail of Terror" event nearby that Missy insists is fun and age appropriate for a kindergartener and her six-year-old buddy. Tomorrow night, Emily will appear in her neighborhood as Snow White. Grandma and Grandpa will be at home, passing out the rest of the treats.
(What's that red thing hanging down from Emily's forehead? Well, duh, obviously it's a snake tongue, of course. So, Pilgrim, you've never been to Florida?)

Excuse us...

It has been a difficult sports year for us. The Twins never really got started, lost 99 times; the Vikings? . . . you know that ongoing sad story. Then we jumped on the Lynx bandwagon at the very last minute. We picked Detroit for the World Series.
So forgive the downtrodden for drawing your attention to a sudden bright spot on a barren sports landscape: Yesterday our hapless, losing Gophers, with their venerable yet vulnerable new head coach, won a big one.
Please understand, good people of Iowa who read this blog from time to time, that when we announce that Stan's Alma Mater beat the Hawkeyes by one point, 22-21, we're not gloating and we report it with great humility. Allow us this rare moment of joy, and thank you kindly for your grace and understanding.
But then again, really, Iowa? You got beat by Minnesota???? Really?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Clarification on The Little Buddy outhouse heater

Red door in bedroom leads to
cozy back yard outhouse.
A concerned former Minnesotan has a question about the Little Buddy heater featured in the previous article about The Shack.
She writes:
How fast does a Little Buddy heater work anyway? Wouldn't the client be moving pretty fast down the deck to the Biffy from the cozy kitchen and back? That's an ASAP mission, right? How long is anyone tarrying to fiddle the dials on Little Buddy? Oh wait, is there remote control? You turn on Little Buddy five minutes in advance while having a cup of tea in the big house... Oh, oh, ok. THAT makes sense. 

Wayne responds:
I turn on the heater first thing in the morning. I leave it on low or pilot depending on the temp. One half turn and it's on high.
I have yet to have a complaint on the amount of heat. 

Think about the alternative when it is below zero.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Shack

Firepit area. Note the shiny new bouy kettle ready to feed the hungry.
 They'll arrive on four wheelers and in pickups for
beer, bread and bouya around the fire.
Deep in the northern wilderness and miles from International Falls, the front door on a deer shack got a fresh coat of Hunter's Red this week. The painter paused to admire his work, surveyed his far-away forest kingdom, and declared yet another Happy Hour.

Deck hand
Retired newspaper executive Wayne Kasich and his wife, Mary Ann, enjoy their isolated retreat, accessible only by vehicles with really tall, nubby wheels that grip when the ground isn't too wet or snowy.
There's propane gas for cooking, lighting and some heating, a handy generator when electricity is needed, and always plenty of wood for a fire. Water is carried in. A "Little Buddy" heater waits on call to warm the biffy.
Wayne just completed some ambitious carpentry, including a precisely-laid deck that encircles the entire enterprise and branches off to the heated outhouse, with its matching red door.
We've looked over a dozen photos of Wayne's World, and can't help but notice plenty of projects and chores left to do. For example, there's a dozen deer racks stashed in their well-appointed kitchen that need hanging and there's a stack of wood to split.
This will all have to wait. It's Happy Hour.
Deer racks await beneath the butcher block.

Where did you meet those guys?

Readers have asked how we met Flo and Felix and some of the other folks who visit the house from time to time. They're all part of a global community (3,000,000 at last count) who connect to us via the internet. If you're interested in the organization and wonder how such a thing could work or could be safe, go to this link: and read all about it. We've had great fun with it and met some interesting people.

Last night's high school choral production

Marcy (proud mother), Max (11th grader, bass/baritone) and Stan (proud grandpa).
Kathleen took this phone photo after the performance.
Happily, there was no disruptive photography any time during the music.
We went to the Fine Arts Festival at Southwest High School in Minneapolis last night to see our grandson perform with the school's top choral group, the Southwest Singers. Over the years we've seen a variety of high school performances and have lamented what we perceive as a decline in the quality of these productions, so we approached the evening with lowered expectations.
We were pleasantly surprised, if not stunned, by the excellence presented by this full-voiced choir of eager seniors and juniors. It is early in the season, yet the four numbers were presented flawlessly, and exhibited a remarkable range of skill.
One hundred sets of eyes were riveted on the precise directions of the conductor, as this disciplined group moved us through unified musical thoughts. It was a wonderful, transcendent experience, reminiscent of the good old days when you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium between musical numbers, and audiences listened in rapt attention.
We'll be back Nov. 7 for the Fall Concert. . . and not just to admire our really cool grandson. We'll come for the music too.
On December 12th they'll perform a holiday concert in the Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis. Wow.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A letter from Dad in Bavaria

Florian grimaced yesterday at the
Mall of America when a
salesman turned on an electronic
massage device being ballyhooed
by a street vendor.
We got an email this morning from Florian's Dad. The boys sent their parents in Germany a link to our blog and they've now checked it out.

Florian's Dad, a veterinarian in Bavaria, writes:
I want to say "thank you" for being such good hosts to our son and his friend. I am the father of Florian. It is very interesting for us to see what the boys are doing when they are so far away. We are very glad and proud that Florian is doing this work and travel year, so he'll see many new things in another part of the world, independently, on his own. 
We appreciate so much seeing the wonderful pictures of Flo and his friend, Felix. Thank you very much.
Best wishes from Bavaria,
Klaus W. and Family
What fun to get this note from Florian's folks. Soon after meeting the boys, it was clear they came from good families. Polite, gentle and well-mannered, they volunteer to help and express appreciation for anything done for them. We think they're remarkably mature and gifted for young men, ages 19 and 20.
They leave tomorrow after a three-day stay, and, unlike fish, they're still as fresh and welcome as the day they came.
We'll miss them.
THE HELP: Felix shapes burgers, Flo slices the onions

Sunday, October 23, 2011

As American as. ..

Harley-Davidson at the Mall of America,
Also stops at Best Buy, Lids, Nordstrom
and Marcy's Apple Pie!
Our Boys from Bavaria bought us breakfast at the Canterbury Card Room this morning, before we headed east to the Mall of America for a spin around the capital of consumption. Soon sated, we traced Minnehaha Creek to the chain of lakes that gives Minneapolis its identity, then made a quick stop at our daughter Marcy's south Minneapolis apartment (above) for a piece of her homemade strawberry and apple pie.
By then, the Viking hordes had found their seats in the re-roofed Metrodome, so we safely navigated the downtown area, enjoying the spectacular views afforded by the Guthrie Theater's Endless Bridge. A drive through the University of Minnesota campus to pay homage to Dylan's Dinkytown Digs, then home again to see the last quarter of what almost was a miracle win over the World Champion Green Bay Packers.
Our German guests quickly caught on to the First and Ten concept and enjoyed the scuffle with the Cheeseheads, before slapping together some patties for burgers on the BarBQ.
Having guests, we observe, is one of the few times we actually get to see the town we live in.
Flo and Felix checked out the Lake Harriet band shell acoustics.
Felix misses his trumpet. Tomorrow they drive to Schmitt Music in
Brooklyn Park, home of the biggest trumpet store in the Upper Midwest.
The excitement mounts.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

See, Mom & Dad? Golf Academy, then Poker School

Head still, wrist cock, swing plane, straight arm
Our German guests had never swung a golf club. And they wanted to know more about Texas Hold 'em. We were delighted. So Felix, 20, and Florian, 19, spent a couple of intense midday hours training on the driving range today, the first step in a pastime that can never be perfected. In no time, they had experienced the frustrations and satisfactions typical of golf at every skill level. Their groans and whoops were understood exactly, without translation.
Learned today that Dylan was from Minnesota,
family name of Zimmerman. Now they may
go through Hibbing on the way to Canada.
Photo by Hwy 61 sign in Forest Lake?
After an interlude of guitar favorites played and sung for us by Florian, (mostly Dylan, Stones) it was on to poker school where St. Paul Katie dealt the finer points of the game to this top pair from a small town in Bavaria.
We've had a wonderful time with our gentle guests, we hope they'll stay an extra day.
Tomorrow: The Mall of America!
(Sadly, Felix and Flo have absolutely no idea about Stan's ancestors from Mevenstedt. Of course, they have no memory of a divided Germany, either. They do carry a ton of our vintage traveling music, captured on a chip the size of your thumbnail.)
It's easier to bluff St. Paul Katie when there's no money on the table.

Happy Birthday, Randy!

We'll celebrate this winter with a 
fresh-squeezed mimosa in Randy's LA backyard.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Company's coming!

Felix and Florian from Muehldorf am Inn, Bavaria, Germany will be spending the weekend with us and should be arriving from Chicago sometime this evening. They're recent high school graduates on a road trip from Toronto to Vancouver via the Great Plains. Felix (above) fancies himself a woodsman. Stan did some chainsawing himself in his youth and comes from a long line of foresters. It's a start. Pull the cord. Let the fun begin.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's Magic!

Thanks to the generosity of our neighbor Bill Cook, Sandy and I were able to attend the VIP reception/dinner for Urban Ventures/Cristo Ray High School, Minneapolis, in September.
It was a memorable evening and as you can see in the attached picture, Sandy was accommodating enough to pose for a picture with Magic Johnson and me.
Story in this link:


The soybeans across the road were harvested in a cloud of dust, the leaves are off the trees, the newspaper comes in the dark, the furnace still works, dew frosted the fairways this morning, and now the ultimate sign of winter: they came and blew out the sprinklers. The weather lady predicted snowflakes yesterday, we didn't get any, and now she says it will be warm and sunny over the weekend. It's a mixed-up time. The sprinkler guy (below, left) says he'll soon wake up as the Snow Plow Guy. He talked yesterday with our Good Neighbor Bud, who appears to have some transitional issues of his own.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

After school

Two big glops of caramel
microwaved 25 seconds;
dip apples. Guaranteed sticky,
gooey, delicious mess every time.
With droopy October weather bringing on the blues, Stan took a short drive to Eden Prairie this afternoon for a little pick-me-up. Nothing beats the boost you get when your kindergartener jumps off the bus and runs at you yelling "Grandpa, Grandpa!" as though you're some kind of rock star. Nothing.
Since Emily started all-day kindergarten, we don't host her on Fridays any more. She's been busy with lots of new things and adventures. We miss her. And she hasn't been seen on this blog either. So today we did some catching up.
Water paints, carmel apples, furniture forts, funny faces, a dollar-for-a-song and some regular old roughhouse.

A bright October day indeed.
Too cold today to make forts in the leaves. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Crossing the finish line with Dad

Photo by Rick Elgersma
A neighborhood friend snapped this picture of Adam Jerdee crossing the 
Des Moines Marathon finish line Sunday with his son, Landon, in his arms. 
Comment: Adam sure looks good for someone who just ran 26 miles!
We got an email from the chip in Adam Jerdee's shoe that says he finished the Des Moines marathon in 4:45:32.
Congratulations Adam! We'll find out how his time compares with previous efforts.

Happy Birthday, Steve

Friends and family from across the nation gathered today to toast the long-ago birth of a very special . . . just kidding. Happy Birthday anyway, Steve.

$90,000 average salary for oil workers

Check out today's StarTribune for the latest on the oil action in western North Dakota. Not much news, but plenty of rehash of what's been going on around the Rolfsrud Ranch during this crazy time.  Quote: "But so many workers have flooded the oil patch that many long-time residents and officials are beginning to complain about something most places in the country could barely comprehend: Too much prosperity; too much rapid growth."
Example: A 60-year-old school bus driver from nearby Prior Lake headed out there last spring. Now she drives a bus full of oil workers. She tripled her salary. Lives in a "man camp." Says it's an adventure, something for her mid-life crisis.
Read on.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sewing circle

Neighbors Bud and Paula came over for breakfast and a good chat this morning. It was then we learned that Bud's Minnesota girl had learned early on how to sew. She still sews, has a cozy "sewing room" in their Shakopee home and her relatives can expect to receive Christmas pajamas and other hand-made goodies on a regular basis.
Anyway, the topic gave Stan a chance to bring out some samples of classic works created by his mother, Beverly, and his big sister, Becky. And also gave him a chance to boast to his guests that his mother had taught him to make his own button repairs and patch his own jeans.
Paula was very impressed with the keepsakes, admiring the button holes and the intricate details on the folk shirt Mom sewed for Dad to wear while selling his books to the Norwegians in North Dakota years ago.
Watch pockets show wear
Dad must have used them.
The traditional outfit included a tidy vest with pockets, buttons and jaunty bow tie, all skillfully and precisely stitched and finished. That talent was passed on mostly to her daughter Becky, who created a lifetime of stitched work, and long ago whipped out a personalized rustic tunic for Stan to wear to the Renaissance Festival, complete with a hand-stitched signature.
These treasures were admired by our guests today. Bud and Paula showed a genuine appreciation for the talent and loving work ethic of our dear ones.
For many years, Becky had a booth at the Renaissance Festival.
She clothed her family in appropriate hand made attire.

Track Adam tomorrow in Des Moines marathon

Our nephew, Adam Jerdee, will have a chip in his shoe when he runs in the Des Moines Marathon this Sunday. No. Not like having a pebble in your shoe, which would be a really annoying thing for someone running 26 miles.
The device will trigger a sensor every time he passes certain points during tomorrow's race. And, in turn, the sensor will trigger a program that will send you an email or text after he successfully completes another leg of the marathon.
So you can be a fan, and track Adam's progress from anywhere in the world. Amazing, yes, but we're getting used to this kind of thing, aren't we? What we have a hard time getting used to is Adam's amazing running prowess. Time and again he's competed in these events and shows no sign of slowing down.
You go, Adam! We're with you all the way!
Click here to sign up for tracking Adam's marathon run on Sunday.

track Adam

Every time he crosses a tracking point, the chip in his shoe marks it.
You can choose texting or email...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jersey Cream

Our fall painting project was finished in a nick of time as the chilly gusts of October this week convinced us to get the screens off and the storm windows on the porch. Up until now, the porch has always been all white. Our tour of the remodeler's showcase last month convinced us to add some color to the paint scheme (Jersey Cream on the walls, pure white on the ceiling and trim) and we're pleased with the result. Birdie likes it too, as we got some nice solar heating in there today with the storm windows now screwed in place. 70 and sunny all day.

It's your day again, Z

Happy Birthday to our nephew Zachary!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Flight tracker

Our daughter is flying home from Zurich today and her Mom is keeping tabs in real time, whatever that is. Jennifer will end up in Austin, Texas, but then she's heading north through Colorado, hoping to be in Minnesota in time for the winter. :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

North Dakota "Man Camp" banned

In our continuing coverage of the Bakken Shale oil boom and its attendant difficulties, we reprint the following item from today's MinnPost, delivered to us by The Iron Ranger, who looks out for these things. The town in the story is located about 150 miles from the Rolfsrud Ranch in North Dakota, but the story illustrates the stunning effects of the crush of eager workers in this small, quiet Peace Garden state.
Single ladies may be the only ones interested 
in the “man camps” of North Dakota 
The AP says: Concerned that a Colorado company appeared to be turning an old school building in the tiny town of Almont into dormitory-style housing for oil workers, city officials called a rare special meeting and banned such so-called man camps. 
The ordinance passed Monday in Almont — a town of about 100 people 35 miles southwest of Bismarck — illustrates a growing tension in western North Dakota, where temporary housing has risen from the plains to accommodate a massive oil boom.
Mountrail and Williams counties also recently put moratoriums on new crew camps. In Almont, rumors were enough to spur the council to take pre-emptive action amid concerns that the camp could overwhelm resources. 
Residents had noticed "bed after bed after bed" being moved into the building after it sold last month, City Auditor Lynne Jacobson said. "We would lose the quality of life here," Jacobson said. "We like our quiet little town." 
Almont has no police force and boasts little more than a bar, a post office and a gas station that's only open during bank hours, Jacobson said. The last reported crime in Almont was two years ago and involved car windows being broken by vandals. The man camp would mean traffic would increase — and so could crime.
"I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking, 'Deadwood' with pickup trucks."

Backyard sun bathers

We took delivery on a half dozen tomatoes and a very red pepper from our neighbor's garden yesterday. Bud and Paula's beauties will rest briefly on our countertop before being incorporated into a nice salad and maybe even a BLT. What's left will be salted and eaten like popcorn.
Nothing like a juicy, thin-skinned homegrown tomato.

Bud was particularly busy yesterday. The brand new retiree still sparkles with the honey dew enthusiasm that drives him through an ambitious list of do-good activity. The rookie redid some association flower beds, erected a flagpole, sanded down his garage door and, after lunch, rescued a confused painted turtle foolishly seeking winter refuge in a drainage pipe.

We're not sure when this tornado will tire, but we're happy to watch the action while comfortably seated on our porch across the way, cold beer in hand, making wise remarks and placing bets. "Please pass the tomato slices, dear."
The painted turtle was trapped in the drain pipe at left,
 unable to get any traction on the PVC pipe.
Bud put a gloved hand inside and pulled it out,
then released it to the wilds of Abbey Point.
Bud's not squeamish. He's wearing gloves because he read
somewhere that turtles can carry salmonella. OK.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blog dogs

There's always something cooking on Hunter and Becky's eating out blog. Becky is Stan's big sister and she's always making something for fun. Don't get Stan started on all the neat stuff Becky dreamed up to do when they were kids. Now she's playing with her grandsons, producing some real corny hot dog creations. Click here to see what they're up to.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Midnight golfers?

At one a.m. this morning a shot rang out on Abbey Point. At least it sounded like a shot. Katie bolted upright in bed, straining to hear more. Birdie was on full alert. Nothing. What could it be? Should she call 911? Was it a gun shot, firecracker? Her husband was no help, he lay beside her, motionless, undisturbed by the strange nocturnal event.

This morning's sun revealed the cause of the stunning overnight bang. Looking down from the balcony, Katie spotted a clue obvious enough for the Pink Panther to read.
Here's the theory:
Some time around Sunday bar closing last night, moonlight golfers apparently teed it up on hole No. 14 that runs past our back yard. We don't know if our swingers ever actually hit the No. 14 fairway last night, but we do know that someone is in bad need of help correcting a serious slice.
The errant 1 a.m. golf ball crashed directly onto one of the tiles on the patio bar top, cleaving it into three pieces. The 16 inch sacrificial tile is easily replaced for about $2, which is about the cost of the Titleist Pro V1 we found in the flower bed.
Peace has been restored. Katie will catch up on her sleep tonight. Birdie will nap all afternoon. Stan got his eight hours so he's good to go.