Saturday, March 31, 2012


We spent this misty afternoon going through a box of old photographs, the kind we used to make before we got computers.
We're thinking about Paul "The Wall" Matthies again today, and we're thinking this is the picture we'll most remember him by, standing tall in the north woods with his mouth shut, letting his stringer of fish do the talking.
Other old photographs show his kindness: building a cedar deck for his friends, assembling a complex barbecue grill for another, acting as designated Winnebago driver on a booze cruise to Wisconsin, paddling an old man through the Quetico wilderness, then volunteering to extinguish a raging brush fire before it could take out the forest.
There's some video too, of a good man hunting pheasants in South Dakota, cleaning fish in Canada, golfing in LA's Griffith Park, and joining in a stout all-male chorus of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" inside an ice house on The Lake of the Woods.
That big box holds a ton of wonderful memories, which is a very good thing, because it is what we have left, now that our dear friend has gone.

Not here

Despite repeated attempts, we sadly report that this household failed to win in last night's lottery for half a billion dollars.
That new house we were going to buy for you will have to wait.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Winter-fresh scallions

Matt Drees called them "winter onions" when he invited Stan to pull a few from his rural Shakopee garden yesterday. The thinned plant will quickly replace itself, Matt said. The early green shoots border what will soon be a bountiful, productive vegetable patch, once Matt finishes deep tilling the dried leaves to loosen his clumpy soil. Lettuce first.
Yesterday Matt also kindly hauled away a load of Stan's brush produced by winter storm mishaps, advised him on a faucet repair, and then loaned him a vintage hammer drill for today's downtown drapery rod reinstall.
Stan stowed the fresh onions way in the back of the van, but you could still smell them from the front seat, all the way home. This morning he crushed just one into a brave carrot juice experiment. Yowsa!
Man at the top of Stan's good guy list.

Record ice out frozen at International Falls

Cold nights have stalled the ice melt on Rainy Lake, the dividing body separating Canada and the U.S. Until now, it appeared all records would be shattered with a March ice out on the massive lake that feeds the legendary International Falls falls. Our reporter, Wayne Kasich, still believes we'll reach an all-time record. Present record is April 10. We don't know what year that was, because Wayne did not include that detail in his report.

Wayne continues:

"We are off to the shack until Monday sometime. We don't get very good cellphone reception unless we go around back and up on the ridge. We went down Tuesday and cleaned and I took inventory of materials to begin the process of transforming the 8X8 shed into a sauna.

"Good working weather."

Godspeed as you venture into the wilderness, dear elder. Be careful out there. Keep your wits about you and your cellphone in your vest pocket.


But wait, there's more!

Dear Readers, we have an additional report from another monitor of a Great Body of Water in Minnesota. Our faithful reporter there is Matt McMillan, partner in MessAge Media Co., based in Aitkin. He holds an actual job.

Matt writes:

"The ice officially went out March 26 on Mille Lacs. The former record, April 2, was smashed. Columnists in papers in this part of the state are trying to decide whether the record means anything tied to a changing climate or global warming. State climatologist Mark Seely, who stays out of the political debate, was in Grand Rapids recently. He said the temperature in Minnesota has risen during the recorded history from the late 1800s to now. That could be too small a length of time to determine anything. But, writers at papers here are offering their opinions. Most seem to believe in the global warming.
"I am in the Isle office each Thursday. So this e-mail comes to you from the southeast side of the lake. No ice in sight.
"Just sent the first real estate guide of the year to press yesterday. The guide takes a break during the winter. Realtors here say sales, listings and activity are busier now than in the past couple of years. Signs of a perking economy? I hope so."

Five years ago, our lake reporters, Wayne and Matt, enjoyed a free
breakfast as part of an overnight poker package hosted by St. Paul Katie.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

East African Antelope

Photos by Stan Rolfsrud
Five Gerenuks, a breed of East African Antelope, browsed on a sunny afternoon at the Los Angeles Zoo. We're expecting an important phone call this morning, browsing through our favorite winter photos while we wait. Want to see a giraffe? OK. Here you go.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tooth story

Next one comes from the top row, front. First one was lower, front.
First one was spit out down the drain, due to inexperience.
After reading about Emily's sink mishap with the handling of her first tooth, Lorlee writes:
The Bartos family had a tooth down the drain drama of its own.
Our practice was not to put the tooth under the pillow but rather in a glass of water on the window sill. Well, to Stephen's chagrin, someone either drank his or dumped it down the drain. To preclude that from happening again, when he lost the next tooth, he taped it to a piece of paper and drew water squiggles around it. That paper showed up years later in the drawer where my mom saved childhood memories.

It sounds like a tooth in a glass of water may be a Midwestern thing??? Maybe our tooth fairies don't want to risk waking us up in the night???

Monday, March 26, 2012

Here goes the first smoothie. . .

Here's our first smoothie in our brand new Vitamix. They were on special yesterday at Costco ($394) and we had to do it, after hearing Sosie, Jennifer and others extol the virtues of this blender on steroids. The out-of town jasper selling them says you can make salsa, peanut butter, sherbets, smoothies, waffles, cobbler, dips, honey butter, a veggie tofu scramble, etc., etc.  He made us tortilla soup while he was pitching the product. It was great. He threw the chips in at the last second. (Hurry, hurry, this is the last day of an 11 day sale, he said.)

There are thousands of recipes. Today we started out with "Cindy's Midday Smoothie" for no particular reason except it was midday. We're feeling better already! Cheers and To Your Health!

Cindy's Midday Smoothie
2 medium oranges, halved and peeled
10 small fresh or frozen strawberries
1 banana peeled
1 apple, quartered and seeded
2 cups washed fresh spinach
2 cups ice cubes

1. Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
2. Select Variable 1.
3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to variable 10, then to Hi.
4. Blend for 45 seconds

Drink up. Yield is six cups, we halved the recipe. It tasted great and good for you, no sugar, oil, salt, etc.
Cindy's Midday Smoothie tastes better than it looks.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New living room soon

Painters and skim coaters are giving our daughter Melissa's house in Eden Prairie a good going over. It will be great when it's finished but it all seems to take forever. We dropped by today to help Melissa choose an accent wall color (Kilkenny, perhaps) and to have a good sit down visit with our kindergartener, who doesn't seem to be too bothered by all the chaos at her house.

(Photo, right: Getting older. Emily shows off her "fake makeup" and house key.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Paul Matthies

We mourn the passing of a good friend who died Friday afternoon near his home in South Minneapolis. Paul "The Wall" Matthies, 63, was Stan's Concordia College classmate and was our guest this year for Christmas Eve dinner.

Foggy morning

This foggy morning in Shakopee we are enjoying a warm bowl of milk and rice, sprinkled with Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cinnamon. Soon the sun will bestow another lovely day here, the trees are budding and showing little green sprouts.

Our thoughts rove to the other side of the world, where our dear friend, Hai Dang, is spending two weeks in the Old Country, visiting his hometown, absorbing even further changes to the ancient culture he fled so long ago.

So much to imagine, so little time to do it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Early bloomer

The owners of this showy pink marvel are far, far away in Florida. Bill and Anne won't be back for a while and by then this flowering crab will have dropped its petals and regressed to its ordinary summer state. The urban legend surrounding this planting holds that Bill and Anne's Minnesota friends hoped to lure the snowbirds home sooner and so installed this tree to encourage them. So far it's only the neighbors who can enjoy this early bird. There's still time, Bill and Anne, . . . look closely and you'll see many buds left to burst.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Meet ZOOM. . . Steve and Nancy's new border collie

ZOOM, in a rare still moment, relaxing on the deck.
Stan's brother, Steve, and his wife, Nancy, have adopted a border collie. We asked them for some info on the new addition to the family. Here it is:

After 15 years with our dear Zap, we weren’t sure whether we would get another dog. As part of our mourning, we spent some time on various border collie web sites. One of them was Border Collie Rescue of Minnesota (BCRM).

One day we saw this fun-looking dog that had been a stray, taken to a shelter and eventually fostered by BCRM. The web site even had a short video clip that showed a dog with spark. We decided to take a chance and adopted ZOOM--but not before completing a comprehensive BCRM application and having all of our references interviewed in detail by BCRM to make sure that we were suitable to meet the demands of a border collie!
Watching the ducks on Rosewood Pond
through the dining room window.

After several trips to the vet and to the groomer to treat the remnants of what apparently was a long time on the run (including a puncture wound to the throat and skunk residue), we think that we have civilized ZOOM. (In addition to all of the necessary immunizations, he is now equipped with a universal micro-chip should he “stray” again in the future.)

ZOOM is about 1 ½ years old, affectionate, playful, biddable and highly attentive. He is house-trained and doesn’t bark. He absolutely FLIES when off leash and it is a joy to see that unbridled enthusiasm. That latter part is MOSTLY good. Nancy likes to take daily walks at a nearby nature trail surrounded by woods and a lake. In the past, we have been spoiled by our dogs never straying from us. However, this dog loves to herd anything that moves, including deer (that he actually can outrun until they hit the deep woods). So we are working on controlling that instinct and reminding ourselves that he still has puppy in him.

We have enjoyed taking in this rescue dog and look forward to having him meet the rest of the family.
Off-leash on Indian Lake Trail

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

House wasn't here when we left. . .

It's not just tree buds and perennials making an early appearance this spring. When we left two months ago, this lot down the street was in a natural state. It's in a state of intense activity today, as workmen busily apply siding to this new neighborhood addition.
No word on new neighbors, though. We understand this is a spec house being put up by a courageous builder. Signs of spring and hope and new beginnings are everywhere. Is this project one of them?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It all started with a backsplash. . .

It started with a backsplash. Sandy wanted a new one. But removing the old backsplash would damage the counter top. And new countertops on an old layout doesn't make sense. And so on.
Our favorite conservative shows
off the coordinated napkins we
swiped for him from the
 Ronald Reagan Country Cafe.
A stroll down the street led to a visit with a friendly neighbor. . . who designs kitchens.
Fast forward a couple months: While we were away, our neighbors, Sandy and Tom, put in a brand new kitchen. A smart new layout and gorgeous Cambria countertops set off new stainless appliances and a gas stove. A composite sink, spiffy lights and wine chiller complete the renovation.
We had a good look at the new set up today and it's gorgeous. The refinished wood floors are still curing, so we caught up on the neighborhood news on the carpeted living room.
Tom and Sandy are another reason it is good to be home.

Welcome, Update and Advice from the Falls Philospher

Pulling in a Lake Trout in Canada -- Ice Out, May 2007. 
Wayne tugs on the line while his net man gets into position. 
The cable company has finally complied with our wishes, so we offer this note we received by wire this morning from International Falls, where retired publisher Wayne is dealing with unusual conditions.

Welcome home, Rolfsruds.
A friend who returns today after a six week stint in Mexico noted that it was warmer in Mpls than it was in Cancun.
That's all people are talking about so I'll go with the crowd today.
International Falls Chore Boy
The yard is raked and bagged-up for a trip to the landfill this morning. On to the next one as there are four since the historic bank building only has whiskey half barrels (to clean out last years flower growth).
I had to cancel a fishing trip to the North arm of Rainy Lake Monday because of the poor ice conditions. It is simply amazing how these 55 degree nights and 78 degree days have decimated the ice on Rainy. There was no spring runoff and we are facing very dry conditions.
As for the big question of "ice out" there is much speculation. April 10th is the record and some are predicting a March ice out. With wind and rain at the right time, that could happen.
Our golf course opens on the 26th. Lots of yard work to do. Then a spring escape to the shack for a few days. A wood cutting weekend at the other (hunting) shack with the guys.
Lot's of major decisions looming.
P.S. Now that you are home, would you step in and get the Vikings stadium built without tax dollars. And get that expensive Japanese guy straightened out and back up from Triple A ball. And tell Matt to tell John that Early April is open for Trout Lake if they want advice and council at the camp for a couple days.
The Canada Ice Out Gang in 2007
A lot has changed since then. Codgers are gone. Ice leaves early.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Click to enlarge -- it's real hair.

Forgot to tell you about our pal Rochelle, a delightful, kookie, clean team member at the Fawlty Towers in LA. Every time she showed up for work she had a new look, thanks to a different wig every day we saw her.  (At first we thought there was more than one Rochelle bustling around the place, eventually we figured it out.)
Naturally Kathleen was very curious about all this, asked some questions, and before you know it, Rochelle had picked up a brand new wig for Kathleen to try on.
Let the fun begin.
As you might suspect, the Hollywood area is a hotbed for wig stores and Rochelle knows where all the best ones are. Real hair, fake hair, combination of real and fake, wash and wear, and so on. Wig-o-ramas everywhere. It's all very glamorous, don't you know. From Sunset to Rodeo. So very Hollywood.
Yes, it got very crazy and giggly one lazy afternoon, and here's the proof.
FYI -- we didn't buy it. It's back in the shop.
 (You have to wear a bathing cap dealie when you try them on.)

Home Again! Thanks everybody!

We couldn't wait to get into our welcome home hotdish,
so it is already half-eaten in this photo.
Because we came home earlier than we had originally planned (can you blame us? 80 degrees in Shakopee when we arrived), our cable and internet service was still on vacation hold. We called and asked to have it restarted, but so far, nothing. Our snail mail is already here, it was supposed to still be on hold, but our sharp-eyed neighbors spotted the error and took it in (thanks, Tom and Sandy).
We hacked into the neighbor's wifi to make this post. We continue to await the cable co.
We had a wonderful greeting from Laurie, she made us a hot dish (how Minnesotan) and left it with fresh bread and dessert. And to top it off, Missy and Emily left us a nice welcoming floral bouquet. (Thanks, sweethearts, very thoughtful).
Daughter Jennifer dropped by last night; neighbors Mina and John and Wes have welcomed us home. We're getting caught up on all the news. High winds took down a little tree, but the house is still standing, the roof is fine and everything in it still works. Thanks to Hai and Laurie, our house minders.
Now we have to get the newspaper restarted, get the car insurance restarted, appointment for the wooly dog, restock the pantry and so on. But it is great to be home! Thanks everybody. It truly is great to be back.
As always, good to go, great to come home.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday night in Lexington, Nebraska -- exhausted

Mountains then rolling plains then flat plains forever. We just checked in to the Holiday Inn Express in Lexington, Nebraska. Tired. Weather has been perfect for travel. Looks fabulous where we are going: home!
Be there Sunday night.

Friday, March 16, 2012

We get a hotel room in Green River. . . barely

We've just driven through the most heavenly 150 miles of freeway in the nation.
The I-70 Interstate, from its Utah beginnings at I-15 north of Las Vegas to Green River, is drop-dead magnificent, if we may gush. Every turn brings a new surprise as close-in geological formations compete with distant vistas for top billing, layers of rock are squeezed into symphonic movements evoking a spiritual response from the most jaded traveler.
Traffic is sparse and fast; eighteen wheelers seem to avoid this route with its changing altitudes. A few three-bottom FedEx behemoths worked their along this smooth riding roller coaster.  Ominous signs like "Brake test station," "Run-away truck lane" "Chain pullout" and "Devil's Lookout" reminded us of the treachery lurking in paradise. Meanwhile, we often glided along at 80 mph, and some of the time it was actually the legal posted limit.
We have no photos, only stunning memories. A few pathetic snapshots would be poor representatives of this national treasure.
It is easy to understand why Utah's favorite son, Mitt Romney, is given, from time to time, to breaking out in a chorus of "America the Beautiful."
We cranked up Ray Charles' rendition on the car stereo and it was indeed, a purple mountain majesty above the fruited plains.
Tomorrow: we do fruited plains. Stay in Lexington, Nebraska. Weather ideal.
It's still the winter tourist season and there's no skiers, so we figured we'd have an easy time finding a room in Green River. There was no room at the first four inns we checked. (We need pet friendly, no smoking and wifi -- nevermind breakfast) There's some big hoop-ti-doo at nearby Moab over the weekend, as it turns out, and Green River is taking on their over flow. Seems to have something to do with dirt bikes and four-wheelers, judging by some of the gear parked at the full houses.
But they left a light on for us at Motel 6, so here we are. We're doing okay.

We meet AJ at Starbucks in Las Vegas

Here we are having a grand time getting acquainted at Starbuck's in Las Vegas with our "new" cousin, AJ Jackson. AJ is the great-great granddaughter of Adam Jackson. Stan is the great-great grandson of Peter Jackson. Peter and Adam were brothers.
More later.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

First stop: Coffee with "new" Cousin AJ

Click to enlarge. Itinerary: Start at Redesdale in LA; B is Las Vegas for coffee with AJ; C is first night in Green River , Utah, if we can make it. Then over the mountains (no snow in forecast) to Lexington, Nebraska; Last stop, Shakopee. 1866 miles, average 600 plus each day.
We're heading home as early as we can Friday morning. We'll be driving east against the morning rush here in LA, so it shouldn't be too bad, although you just never know, there's not much tolerance for error on these freeways.
Our first stop will be in Las Vegas where we will meet AJ Jackson for the very first time. Our great great granddaddys were Jackson brothers from Scotland, so that makes us cousins, and we're to going celebrate that with a cup of coffee at the Starbucks off I-15. (The scotch will wait until we get home)
We'll share a photo if they've got wifi there and AJ is willing.

Dog with a View

Birdie enjoyed a misty morning view from the bay window of our Redesdale apartment. There's been squirrels sighted out there, you know.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Night Lights

Early evening view from our bedroom deck over Silverlake Boulevard.


We're heading home Friday morning after a couple of nights here in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. It's a duplex tucked into a hillside, the landlord lives downstairs with her dog, Bambi. The view from the decks and the bedrooms is spectacular, reminiscent of a Tuscan village we're told, whatever that is. There's a garden below for Birdie to explore, the first avocado of the season is growing under the tangerine tree.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Brothers Anderson

Turtle, Laredo, Hat
Laredo, Hat, St. Paul KT
Randy's younger brother Shel ("The Turtle") arrived here Sunday from Minneapolis and sat in on a poker game. Tomorrow Stan takes them to the nearby Bob Hope Airport so they can fly to Las Vegas for their annual "March Madness" madness. Their antics in the sports book there have received national press coverage and promise good times for at least the next week, as they handicap every aspect of the upcoming college basketball tournaments.

Marilyn is doing better now

Our niece, Shana, with her mother-in-law, Marilyn, last summer.
Marilyn has been hospitalized after a fall on the ice.
After a scary four days, our niece's mother-in-law is doing much better.
Last Thursday, Marilyn Erickson fell on the ice on her way to school, injuring her head. By noon, her husband Paul had taken her to St. Josephs Hospital in St. Paul. By seven that night she was in surgery. She didn't do as well as expected.
Things are looking up now, however, check with for the latest.
Our thoughts are with Marilyn and Paul and the entire family in hopes of a speedy, full recovery.

Monday, March 12, 2012

First one!

Emily Kathleen -- Age 6 on May 1, 2012
Grandma and Grandpa will be home soon to inspect the damage and speak to the Tooth Fairy.

Home is Montreal

Spring break brought this French Canadian family to Hollywood for some beaches and fun . . . and the Los Angeles Galaxy Major League soccer games. The parents are both mining engineers and have searched for minerals all over the globe and thus are authorities on living on just about any continent. Even remote Northwest Territories -- and Africa.
Plus, she figured out how to light the quirky Fawlty Towers gas barbeque grill for Stan's sausages --- even though she's not that kind of engineer.
The kids have been enjoying lots of West Coast activities, but now it's back to school in Montreal.
French is their native tongue, but of course, they speak fluent English. We mentioned that threee Parisian gentlemen had recently departed the Fawlty Towers studio apartment and that they had complained about what a grumpy place their hometown was. (Nikolas at right)
These two cosmopolitan professionals agreed: If you want to go to France, go to Normandy where folks are nice, they advised.
We said we thought Parisians were cross with Americans because they don't even attempt to speak their language. No, that's not true, our French Canadian friends said. "They're cross with us too."
"But you speak French," we countered.
"No," they laughed. "We speak the wrong French."

We scale Mount Hollywood

Downtown Los Angeles over Stan's right shoulder; Griffith
Observatory over his left wrist. (Photo courtesy Helpful Stranger)
Harding, Wilson, Roosevelt
Golf courses owned by
the city. That's I-5 bordering it.
It's a winding 3 mile hike with moderate inclines, but the summit is very rewarding, with 360 degree views of a metropolitan area with a population of 17 million souls. You can see the nearby Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign, of course. And downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach and Burbank and beyond to distant islands in the ocean. The views are best on the days after a rain when the smog has cleared.
It was 70 degrees and sunny on Mount Hollywood when we began the ascent; a light breeze dried our sweat at the summit where hikers compared notes and drank from their bottles and unpacked their lunches.
The every day skies in LA are clearer than we expected. You can see stars shining brightly over the city on most nights. Draconian government regulations have cleaned up the air pollution to a point that shows great improvement over our visits here decades ago.
You can see our house from here!
Not really. We're staying just below the observatory
on Normandie Avenue.

Mount Hollywood rises in the center of Griffith Park, a massive natural recreation set aside that includes three golf courses (see photo), a zoo, observatory and a variety of entertainment venues, including a Greek theatre.
It's an easy hike with plenty of optional trails, lots of climbing men, women and children, dogs and horses. Conveniently, there's a watering tank near the summit where you can refresh your animal, as needed. Keep your dog leashed though -- coyotes abound and are always on the hunt for a tender morsel.
Nearby Mount Lee, with its iconic Hollywood sign, drew the
attention of this Norwegian hiker.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hell on Wheels! Roller Derby Boot Camp!

Squeezing these skates, pads, helmets, gear and players into one sedan
 looked impossible, but the captain was up to it, cleverly employing all 
the stomping,  pushing and jamming tricks practiced in the derby arena.
A half-dozen brightly-clad ladies, fresh from the Roller Derby wars, packed up their helmets, kneepads and skates, then wheeled out of our Normandie Avenue digs this morning.
Red-haired roller-skatin' Momma loved
all the attention from Birdie.
They gathered in town for the 4-day Roller Derby "March Radness" boot camp hosted by the illustrious Los Angeles Derby Dolls.
Our bombastic neighbors came from Vancouver and Seattle for a weekend of good times and gritty competition. Birdie was an immediate favorite with the enthusiastic, fun-loving women, winning them with licks and yips.
NEW RECRUIT? Not a chance.  He can't even skate.
We have shared the venerable Fawlty Towers patio and spa with a variety of interesting guests this winter, but so far these are the first to sport red hair, tattoos and leotards.

Lorlee writes: 
We have attended a couple of events in Dallas (our league is the Assassins and one of the teams is the Dead Kennedys) Great fun and we plan to go back next month. Hair, tattoos and costumes are the most fun.