Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Watch for our Air Date: March 6, 2012

No, we weren't asked to "Come On Down," but Kathleen bounded down the
aisle to get her hug from Drew Carey anyway. They talked about Minnesota
and her career as a merchant and he called her Kathleen, like he really knew her.
Oh, that's right. She wore a nametag. Watch the show on March 6. . . don't worry,
we'll remind you. Next up? The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Feb. 15.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tomorrow's Flight Plan

West on Franklin, Left  on Wilton, West on Santa Monica Boulevard, Left on Martel.
Oops, too many left turns on this Google suggestion. We'll probably just head south
to Beverly Blvd and park in the Grove structure. Short walk to the CBS gate.
No cell phones, no cameras, no backpacks, no costumes. . . and no dogs allowed.
(Jeans OK)
We depart the Fawlty Towers Apts and Spa bright and early tomorrow, heading to CBS Television City to process for the taping of the first "The Price Is Right" show of the day. We've got vouchers that promise if we follow all the rules we have a better than even chance of getting into the studio with Drew Carey and all the other funseekers.
Kathleen is an old hand at this. Though she's never been asked to "Come on Down" she's been in the audience a couple of times before. This year she convinced Stan to join her in her quest for fame and fortune and if the early bird gets the worm, that's exactly what's going to happen. This could be the big year! Stanlee Rolf Is Rude Come On Down!
The excitement is mounting, we'll set the alarm and try to get some sleep as visions of Plinko, Now and Then, and a Showcase with A BRAND NEW CAR dance in our heads.
We apologize in advance if you're forgotten when Drew asks Kathleen if there is anyone at home she wants to mention while the big wheel spins around and around. We still love you.
Now wish us some luck.
CBS Photo from Google Images


Ron, Linda, Karen and Don enjoyed lunch at
Sandra Bullock's bistro in San Antonio.
Ron and Linda Letnes (Stan's sister) explored Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas on their winter trip this year.
The excursion allowed for a nice meet up with Cousin Karen Kirmis and her husband Don in their San Antonio winter home.
Linda and Ron enjoyed the Riverwalk, Alamo and harbor sights, saw the Oklahoma Memorial and the Clinton and LBJ libraries and generally enjoyed themselves doodling around the south central area of the U.S.
No Letnes trip album is complete without a little beefcake.
Here's Ron showing some leg on the Riverwalk.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

When a tree falls in LA. . .

When a tree grows beyond its usefulness on a typical small lot in LA, it can present a series of perplexing engineering challenges. Thoughtlessly chopping a tree off at its base usually risks numerous bad outcomes and a possible appearance on YouTube if not America's Funniest Home Videos.
The neighbors across the street from Randy's terrace proved equal to the puzzlement they faced when their burgeoning camphor tree threatened to take over their back yard, blocking the sun and threatening to take out the garage.
Ben and Fione attacked the problem with aplomb. Plotting strategy like commanders in a military operation, they divided the war into manageable battles, pressing their campaign with the stout courage of veteran urban foresters, armed with an aluminum ladder, a long rope and a rented chainsaw on a stick.
Stan and Randy joined them for Phase II yesterday afternoon, which chiefly involved calculating the likely trajectory of falling limbs onto a small backyard target with the least risk of collateral damage. Mostly, we provided encouragement and rendered opinions on possible consequences of various strategies. The couple had the task well in hand, as Ben ascended the ladder and buzzed away, while the scent of the aromatic camphor sawdust drifted over the neighborhood.
Eventually the saw was deemed too dull to continue and the operator was tiring, so a cease fire was declared and the final remains of the now-denuded torso stood over the backyard carnage against a bright blue sky. The sun shined brightly through the new opening, giving promise that new grass and plantings will flourish beneath it.
A conventional chainsaw will be rented for the final assault with ultimate victory now assured.
Last evening Ben, grateful for the encouragement and assistance, brought over the fixings for kicky Moscow Mules, made with a fresh-squeezed lime, vodka and Cock & Bull Ginger Beer. Tall icy glasses of the concoction were enjoyed on Randy's Terrace, along with toasts and briefings to anyone interested in the day's successful campaign.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Finding a place in the sun

A sunny 80 degree afternoon brought these two snoozers together yesterday
 in the back yard.  Kathleen managed to make this photo without disturbing
either Randy or Birdie. High of 81 today. Light evening Santa Anas.


Fawlty Towers wifi down. Will post later.
--Posted from Starbucks Coffee

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Heidi and Sam are here. . .

Kathleen's niece and her husband made it to Los Angeles yesterday in time for cocktail hour on Randy's terrace. Heidi and Sam took a long weekend break from their jobs in Durango, Colorado to get some sun, see the sights and visit the rellies. They arrived with the top down on their Porsche and have already spotted a $10 hand wash and hand wax location on Hollywood Blvd to give the little car a treat this morning.
(Stan and Kathleen stay overnight in Randy's poker palace while Heidi and Stan bunk at our Fawlty Towers Hotel.)
Last night Stan and Kathleen retired early while the trio above strolled down to The Alcove on Hillhurst for a robust flaming rum nightcap. Randy is a trove of Hollywood lore and Heidi and Sam took full advantage of their host's knowledge of the area as well as the entertainment business. Photo above, the guests delivered local Durango wine and a plate of smoked tuna for the afternoon terrace nosh.
Meanwhile, a tuckered Birdie, exhausted by a day of back and forth,
strange dogs and new people, found respite on a leather hassock.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Before and After. . .

Fifty years ago Leonard Neilson "blonded" this formerly dark wood.
Last week his granddaughter took it one step further to Polar Bear white!
Grandma and Grandpa Neilson's 
dresser gets a makeover from Jennifer
We received these pictures at our Fawlty Towers Hotel in LA today. Our daughter Jennifer has moved into a new apartment in South Minneapolis, and she's furnishing it with heirlooms, of course.
Years ago, her Grandpa Neilson used to "beautify" old furniture with a mustard antique finish. Loved to do it. His process was called "blonding." Some of his pieces got banged up a bit over the years, but many are still in service. Jennifer inherited this piece and enjoyed it for many years just as it was, but now that she's moving into an all-white bedroom, she decided it was time to give her heirloom a once-over and a brand-new life.
She did this with aplomb and phoned in the photos of her results today. Don't you just love the green knobs? Grandpa Neilson would be very proud. . . as are we!
Jennifer writes from Minneapolis:
I remember you telling me that Grandpa painted this dresser in this mustard color crackle paint, and I liked it and have used it this way since inheriting it, yet its time had come and a few days ago it got some sanding, repairing and a double coat of Polar Bear white paint, the same color as the walls. I also added some replica green glass knobs. 
Here are the before and after photos.
Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We got mail! Real mail.

It was the old-fashioned kind of mail that showed up late this afternoon in the old-fashioned mailbox hanging on the side of the building here on Normandie in Los Angeles. It was just the kind of mail that a grandma and grandpa, who dearly miss their Minnesota family, love to get.
The card was sweet and to the point from Emily and her Mom. Mom had just developed an old-fashioned roll of film which included a bunch of photos from last summer, including this one of Emily finishing preschool -- with much overdone Pomp and Circumstance directed to doting parents and grandparents. The envelope contained actual prints on paper. It was wonderful.
An old-fashioned phone call brought us up-to-date on the current academic progress . You'll be happy to know that we can report that our kindergartener is above average in 8 out of 10 subjects and average in two. So she's definitely above-average. We like that and suspected as much.
Thank you for your old-fashioned indulgence.

No one has come to call yet

We've been here 10 days now, moved in right across the street from these folks, but, oddly, we haven't met anyone yet. There's a locked gate across the driveway and we don't have the password so we can't come a-knocking. But you'd think we'd have received a welcoming note, a greeting, a how-do-ya-do or a hi-di-ho by now. Nothing. Seems strange. No cut flowers. Not even a hot dish.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Entrepreneur of the Week

It was do or die today for Eugene, the street merchant selling umbrellas in the rain on the corner of Western and Hollywood Blvd. After all, how many days like this do you have in Los Angeles to move your inventory?
It was late in the afternoon when the Camden, South Carolina native confided that sales hadn't gone quite as well as he had hoped despite the downpour. Yes, he had sold a few, but didn't set any records. Is that a sign of the times or do Angelinos just stay indoors during inclement weather, we wondered? "Why do you want to know?" he asked, displaying a note of street savvy, "are you from the newspaper?"
Stan noticed traffic was light as he took today's five-mile hike west down the Walk of Fame to the corner of Hollywood and Vine, then north past Capitol Records (grabbing a frame of the distinctive tower to prove he'd really gone the distance), then under the Hollywood freeway, past the turn for the Hollywood Bowl, then back on Franklin Avenue and a brief jog to our Normandie apartment.
Downtown LA got over a half an inch of rain today. The sun's coming out tomorrow. That won't bother Eugene. He's probably got a full inventory of designer sunglasses ready to go.

Route guidance from an LA paramedic/firefighter

Sherpa Dave and Kama enjoyed a break on the terrace
"Sherpa" Dave served 30 years as a paramedic/firefighter in the Los Angeles area. He's retired now and lives with his wife, Kama, around the corner and down the street from Randy's house on Rowena Avenue.
As one might expect, his life-long experience on the streets of this fabled town makes him a valuable resource for the newcomer seeking direction. . . or guide service, if necessary. He knows the secret staircases, the famous locations, the hidden driveways, even the best route to climb nearby Mt. Lee, site of the famed Hollywood sign.
Therefore we've dubbed him "Sherpa" Dave, so as not to confuse him with "Depot" Dave, the local contractor who (with his wife, Nicole) made over Randy's front and back yard this summer and fall and received fair coverage of his mighty deeds on this very blog.
The Sherpa and his wife joined us for football, buffet and mimosas today at Randy's house where Dave regaled us with a few tales of LA street action. . . like the time he and his partner bumbled into a robbery and then chased the miscreants in their wailing ambulance, calling in their positions on the two-way until they ran the bad guys down and turned the situation over to the cops.
Stuff like that.
Although the Sherpa seemed to assign the more heroic roles to himself in these exciting sagas, we think that what he told us was indeed mostly true -- partly because his good wife of 27 years was there listening along, lest he stray too far from the historic path. . . or at least from the way he told the story the last time he brought it out.
Stan hopes to join the Sherpa soon on a hike into Griffith Park or on one of the other popular neighborhood roundelays he so enjoys in his retirement.
Randy's not sure Stan can keep up with the 55-year-old hiking ace and has proposed taking Stan on a warm-up walk-about first. Break him in easy. We'll let you know.
Not only is Sherpa Dave an excellent guide to the Greater Los Angeles area,
he is also said to be a really good kisser.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

We visit a back yard tropical spa and resort

Ben Goodman moved from Cape Town, South Africa in 1975 and soon established a career and family in Los Angeles. His passion these days is his West Hollywood back yard, where he has transformed an otherwise ordinary lot into a fabulous tropical paradise.
He invited Stan and Katie to see this luxurious resort retreat creation, set behind a gated enclosure on a palm-lined street a block from Hollywood Boulevard. The secluded oasis is moments from the craziness of tourists, street people and the starry Walk of Fame.
A diminutive rental duplex corners the rear of the property, separated from the main house by a circular infinity spa that spills into the curved end of a generous swimming pool. A jungle of ivy, palms and bushes isolates the lush space from neighborhood housing.
The enthusiastic host exuded pride of ownership as he guided his stunned visitors through the meticulously designed and finished rental units: precious jewel-box retreats -- a one-bedroom unit up, the studio down. Every appointment -- the granite, the fixtures, the coverings, the electronics, the appliances -- even the memory-foam queen mattresses -- reflects an obsession with quality and design, creating a welcoming aura that urges visitors to linger.
Two pampered house dogs greeted Birdie with the usual nosey rituals; Birdie then brazenly dashed through the entire main house before she could be restrained, reporting back after apparently finding nothing of particular interest.

We finished the tour and Ben offered a parting gift of fresh tangerines from the front yard tree as we thanked our gracious host, grateful for this private peek into a special spot on an ordinary street in LA.

Who wins at the House of Pies?

Blueberry, Bavarian Chocolate, Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese, Fresh Peach, Key Lime, Southern Pecan, German Chocolate, Banana Cream, Banana Chocolate Cream, Egg Custard, Bavarian Chocolate Banana, Pumpkin, Peanut Butter, Butterscotch and a dozen more are offered daily at the House of Pies at the corner of Vermont and Franklin.
We ate dinner across the street at the Palermo Ristorante Italiano tonight and a nice pie seemed just the treat for tomorrow's football games.
Katie and Randy narrowed the choices to two: Lemon Meringue vs. Double Strawberry Cheesecake. Stan was called in for the tie-breaker.
\Which one did we bring back to Randy's for tomorrow's game? Hint: It looked so good, we broke into it early.
What's your all-time favorite pie?

Light traffic on this LA Fairway

Not exactly Stonebrooke
But hey, you don't need a golf cart.
Greens are in great condition and today's precip
will be appreciated. An inch of rain triggers a
"severe weather alert."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tom rules

The only time Tom was ever in Minnesota was back in the 60s but he still remembers flying into Minneapolis when the gorgeous fall colors were peaking. The Los Angeles native had a career in the electronics industry and was on his way to a small town factory in Wisconsin where they hired mostly women, he said, because "women can talk and work at the same time. When a man starts talking, he stops working."
Tom is now 72 years old (really, he is) and is a starter at the Par 3 golf course in Los Feliz where he and a lot of other retirees are drawn. Youngsters take over on weekends. The place opens at 7 a.m., and has a great place next door for a manly breakfast. (The name of the place is apparently "EAT", which is the principal signage on the property).
Fortunately, Stan had no tee time
Friday street cleaning forced some parkers into
desperate measures, blocking our exit briefly this morning.
Stan shot a nifty nine holes this morning with his brand new golf bag and old clubs, ($6.25 greens fee -- he's not a senior yet and also has to pay the outrageous out-of-town rate. ha.). He will wait on the breakfast experience until Kathleen joins him.
The greens are in great shape; the fairways not-so-nice. . . but that's just your penalty for not getting on in one. All in all it is a fun spot with nice people. . . we'll soon return.
There are three more golf courses in the immediate area, so there's work to be done.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Street parking is very dear in Los Feliz

As a public service, volunteers step up to help educate others in proper parking procedure.
A Nevada driver, who used up two spaces, received this tip from a local coach.

An observation from Minnesota

From: "Pat Minelli" 
Date: January 19, 2012 7:39:02 AM PST
To: "'Stan Rolfsrud'" 
Subject: fyi
Severed head? Quit complaining. Our wind chill is like minus 23 right now, bub.
Enjoy your warm surroundings. Say hi to St. Paul Katie and Birdie.

Pat Minelli
Shakopee Valley News

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Severed head and hands found near Stan's hiking trail

Wilderness area running parallel to Bronson Canyon, where
head was found hours after these photos were taken.
Randy and Stan were in Bronson Canyon Monday, dropping off a squirrel that had attacked Randy's prize orange tree and needed a humane repatriation to Griffith Park. The duo didn't spot any human heads while they were there on this mission. But somebody else did, according to news reports on all the stations out here.
Today, Stan's grade school friend, Lorlee, who still cares about Stan's welfare, sent along this Yahoo News clipping, along with the caveat to "Be careful out there."
Here's the news clipping, along with some file photos that Stan happened to take of the general area while he was walking Birdie on Tuesday. He had no idea at the time that it might be a crime scene.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles investigators found a human hand Wednesday in the Hollywood wilderness park where a severed head in a plastic bag was discovered by dog walkers, and the search continued for other body parts.
The hand was discovered in Bronson Canyon as dozens of police officers, including homicide investigators, combed the brush along a winding trail a few miles below the Hollywood sign.
Area below Hollywood sign 
Stan and Birdie walked here. 
A coroner's cadaver dog found the hand about 50 yards from where the head was discovered on Tuesday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The remains are believed to come from the same man. Wild animals in the park may have taken some other body parts, police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.
The head of a man in his 40s, 50s or 60s was found about a half-mile (kilometers) inside the gated canyon road, which is part of the vast Griffith Park.
"One of the dogs ran into the brush and came out carrying a plastic grocery bag. As the dogs shook the plastic grocery bag the severed human head fell out of the bag and onto the ground." Smith told KCBS-TV.
The man may have been killed elsewhere in recent days and his body dumped in the park, Smith said.
The man wasn't immediately identified. Police were checking reports of missing persons and coroner's investigators will check dental records.
Smith noted that the canyon is well-traveled by both cars and hikers. A paved road winds around picnic areas and a children's playground before connecting with a trail that eventually winds up near the Hollywood sign.

Congratulations to Briggs!

Doesn't she look professional? We are so proud.
Stan and Kathleen's niece writes:

I got a new job!

I have accepted a position as an Admissions Manager at the Advanced Academic Programs office within the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. 
In this role, I will supervise two admissions professionals, manage the ApplyYourself and ISIS databases, and support faculty admissions committees. My first day is January 23rd. An added bonus is that the office is located in DuPont Circle, so I can commute via the Metro - no more DC driving!
Congratulations to Briggs. We hope this position is everything you want it to be!


Randy produced a bag of juicy ripe oranges picked off his tree after Stan helped pin down some rolls of new sod that the raccoons have been turning over. The rascals search for bugs and worms and prevent the sod from bonding to the soil base.
We don't know if the giant wire staples acquired from Home Depot will do the trick. Neighbor Fione suggested braiding dog hair and applying it here and there to freak out the night visitors. ???
We'll squeeze out a pint or so this morning and ponder the strategy over orange juice and toast.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hike to Griffith Observatory

Future objective
Enrico was happy to take Stan's picture this morning. Enrico was visiting from Guadalajara, Mexico, and now this tourista from Minnesota wanted a picture to prove that he and his dog had climbed to the Griffith Observatory before breakfast today.
The spectacular view offered Stan a chance for more even more planning. Over there is the Roosevelt Golf Course, on the right is the Hollywood sign, where's the Zoo, the Greek Theatre, the model trains. . . and down below. . . hey look, you can see our house from here.
Thanks, Enrico!
Roosevelt Golf Course below, city to the right
All this is good to find out, because soon Stan's sister will be in town and she'll want to go to many places.  It was a good work out today, the creaky knees held up on the inclines and there was still enough gas in the tank for a brief jog on the way down.

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. . .

Alexandria is a short avenue, but interesting, with lots of great architecture
A rare Southern California rain washed the streets of our Normandie neighborhood last night, setting up Stan and Birdie for their morning explorations. First up was a walk down adjacent Alexandria Avenue, giving some hometown nostalgia to Stan in name only, because there is nothing on this avenue that looks like Alexandria, Minnesota in January.
Hillside mansion across the street from us.
(We haven't been invited over yet.)
Our rental clings to the hillside below the famed Griffith Observatory. Walking north we get various views of it, framed by houses and palms.
Looking over the shoulder, we see downtown LA, shrouded this morning in a velvety wet fog.
The neighbor's bougainvillea takes center stage with its brilliant reds; further on, Birdie, with her more grounded viewpoint, is distracted by the massive roots bulging along the boulevards of this urban forest. Most species we admire are not native, but are doing very well nevertheless, thank you.
The bane of city engineers.
Click to enlarge and see our
concerned sidewalk inspector.
We chat it up briefly with Roger and Stephanie from Michigan, a friendly newly-retired couple staying in our tri-plex.  He shows Stan where they live, using his upraised palm as a map, as Michiganders are wont to do. They're now on their way to Starbucks. They have a 33-year-old son in Burbank and are here for a couple of weeks. We promise to talk more later.
We watch a driver attempt to back a mini-van down an impossibly tight driveway. His wife and child coach from the front, his parents offer guidance from the rear. She says to the unfortunate driver: "Are you yelling? There's no reason to yell." Though we empathetically disagree, we just smile and walk on.
Like a pebble rippling a pond, our morning walks take us ever wider into this strange land; it's a comfort to know that our home base has a foot on Alexandria Avenue soil.
 Griffith Observatory
View from Normandie Avenue.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Undisclosed project

A new project awaits the Shearer demolition team. We're not sure what's going down, but we know it won't be these experienced wreckers with new tools at hand.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Birdie enjoys having the run of Randy's backyard. Kathleen assembled
the bouquet from cuttings in the back yard

Friday, January 13, 2012

We're here

The snowbirds coasted into LA in time for cocktails yesterday. A yellow western sun put a spotlight on Randy's new front yard work, with its fresh green grass and limestone pavers. Our host greeted us warmly, manhattans and smokes for the men, a pina colada for the lady.
We made good time from St. George, Utah, pausing for a couple of hours of blackjack action and a view of the nearby Hoover Dam from the new Tillman Bridge walkway.
We started this final leg at an elevation of 6,000 feet. We've dropped to sea level now, we sense more oxygen in our lungs and can still hear a ringing in our ears from all the elevation changes. Or maybe it's just the excitement of the completion of a week-long pilgrimage.
Our faithful yellow bug now rests in the driveway, where it drew the eye and admiration of a passing lass, who stopped to inquire. She briefly mistook Stan for Randy, but soon learned she was talking to just another guest from Minnesota. "Oh yes," she said knowingly. "you'll be staying in the back." Stan invited her into the courtyard for a visit, but she continued on her way. She had a younger evening in mind.
After finishing a beef brisket, we retired to the great room, sinking into the fireside leather, talking of old times, new plans and mutual frinds.
Birdie busily nosed everywhere, checking and initiating the fenced and landscaped back yard, sniffing out the waste baskets indoors, reporting back occasionally as if to confirm that yes, we really, really are going to stay in this wonderful place for a while. Randy and Birdie are old friends and Randy took his ritual licking.
Before long the Murphy Bed came down, revealing its silk burgundy sheets in our cozy private boudoir. It was warm (78 degrees) in LA yesterday, but the night chill caused an occasional furnace ignition last night. We didn't mind, snuggled deep under a downy comforter.
We'll be checking into our nearby Normandie apartment unit on Saturday to begin our two-month stay there. In the meantime, this will do. Yes, indeed, this will do.