Friday, August 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, travelers

Linda and Ron are somewhere in Europe today, celebrating Ron's birthday. The couple will be in Paris on Monday, and then on to some other adventure soon after. All the best!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sporty!

Here's our birthday girl, Jennifer, with her elder, Aunt Linda. Jennifer is working the hotel front desk in Northfield tonight until 10, but we're sure she'll somehow find time to celebrate. We'd join her for a night cap, but we're busy watching the hurricane coverage. We can now spell Plaquemines Parish.
Meanwhile, Aunt Linda is in Amsterdam -- Paris on Monday.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Martens or Minks?

Home sweet home. . . there's a nest (den?) of furry creatures in here, 
probably keeping house in the open pipes of the now dry waterfall works.
Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, in the beginning
Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, long time ago

He saw an animal that liked to growl
Big furry paws and he liked to howl
Great big furry back and furry hair
"Ah, think I'll call it a bear"

He saw an animal up on a hill
Chewing up so much grass until she was filled
He saw milk coming out but he didn't know how
"Ah, think I'll call it a cow"

Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, long time ago

(Lyrics by Bob Dylan)
What is there about names that make them so essential to our enjoyment of the natural world? This morning, when we discovered that our pond side bushes had been overtaken by a nest of furry creatures and their kits, it immediately launched a discussion over whether they were minks (Stan) or martens (Kathleen).

(They definitely weren't weasels, not because we didn't want to be known as weasel hosts, but they just didn't look very weasly)

We didn't see them for long. Stan was sanding the new deck railing bright and early when the shy, brown, furry adult briefly slipped across the rocks and deeper into the bush. This gave time for Stan to summon Kathleen and then, obligingly, a furry-tailed youngster casually worked its way across the rocks, oblivious to our stares and whispered comments.
We now know what happened to the nest of duck eggs containing a golf ball that was discovered and reported on earlier this spring.
Mr. Google is little help, in our search for a proper name. Pictures there of Mr. Marten look just like pictures of Mr. Mink.
Our camera is now dangling at the ready on the deck and we hope to get lucky next time, so that you can weigh in on the proper ID for these furry creatures raising a family under our noses.
(These images from Wikipedia.)
Now we know what happened. This nest of duck eggs, containing a golf ball,
was located near what is now a den of martens or mink. It disappeared.
Not sure what they did with the golf ball.  (Omelete ala Callaway?)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Macho ride on the Giant Slide

Unidentified internet bullies have scoffed at Grandpa Stan's claim that duty called him to hold purses and take pictures and that's why he didn't ride the double-ferris wheel with the girls. He's really just a big chicken, they say, more suited to the fairgrounds henhouse than the mighty Minnesota Midway -- and a sorry, wussy role model for the courageous six-year-old, who leaped at the chance to spin wildly through the blue skies over St. Paul. So before these snickers go viral, we offer this photographic evidence of Grandpa's manhood and derring-do:
There, that ought to do it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

State Fair Tradition

If you look closely, you can spot some of three generations of
Neilson toes peeking over the edge of the top-most bench.
Great Grandma Florence was 82 the last time she rode this classic double-ferris-wheel on the State Fair Midway. That was long before Emily was born, of course, but today she joined her kinfolk in this long-standing never-miss Neilson tradition. Everybody in the family loves this ride. Three generations challenged the mighty Skywheel today, with Grandpa Stan firmly on the ground to document this significant event.
Emily gamely took to the ride just as we expected, loving every minute of it, almost as much as did her ever thrill-seeking Grandma Kathleen and mother, Melissa.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Yippee! It's State Fair Time.

We're headed for the Fair Express Bus stop in Eden Prairie Monday morning to spend a day at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. It's Senior Citizen Day and we couldn't resist. Besides, Kathleen's doctor PRESCRIBED it. Says the walk will do her knee some good. We got our discount tickets at Cub Foods so we're good to go. First, the horse barn, then Danielson's onion rings and then the Art Barn. Kathleen will test the knee on the Giant Slide. . .
Maybe we'll see you there, (Stan has his red shirt on so Katie can find him) . . .

Friday, August 24, 2012

Publisher's assistant creates job opportunity

Unsie Zuege, shown here digging in the recycle bin, was hired
in 1982 to assist the publisher. She was never asked
to empty his wastebasket or bring coffee. Or move furniture.
Back in the days when he was a small business "job creator," Stan hired Unsie Zuege as a "publisher's assistant," putting her to work at various locations, including the upstart Eden Prairie News.
Very uplifting
Thirty years later, she returned the favor, creating a job for him.
Mark Olson, the present Chaska Herald editor celebrating the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Chaska newspaper, invited Stan to the office today for an interview covering the olden days between 1973 and 1978 -- when Stan had Mark's job. The interview took less than an hour, before Stan's memory and Mark's recorder batteries played out.
Ironically, Herald building was once used as a mortuary.
On the way to the exit, Unsie, still faithfully at her post, greeted her former employer warmly, commenting on how strong and healthy he looked.
It was a trap.
As a result of recent downsizing, the editorial offices of the Chanhassen Villager are now upstairs in the 19th Century Chaska Herald building. Wishing to improve on the cozy arrangement, this morning Unsie, ever resourceful, loaded an old black bookshelf into her mini-van -- with no plan whatsoever for hauling it upstairs to the spot beside her desk.
And so it was that today two fearless, fighting editors added yet another page to their body of work at the historic Chaska Herald.
Job well done, you ink-stained wretches. (Photos by Unsie Zuege)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Nice day for a bike ride

At one time we were going to the State Fair today, but chickened out when we heard about the weather. Turns out it would have been great for us, cooler and overcast, no rain. It was a great morning for Marlys too, out for a zippy bike ride with her granddaughter. Here she greets her neighbor, Renaur. We chatted it up around the mailbox during an errand to their Dundas neighborhood today. No worries for us. The State Fair will still be open tomorrow. . . or the next day. The pronto pups can wait.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Stain. . . then paint

What started out as a quick touchup of the eleven-year-old side deck has turned into an all-consuming project. The cool days have been perfect for outdoor activities, and one thing just led to another, (the danger of a new 18V power driver and all) and now the railings are being disassembled and the belt sander is running at full tilt.
The problem stems from the fact that the cedar deck rails and posts were originally stained. The cedar sweats oils and the rain and snow sits on the railings, meaning that a stain job lasts for only a couple of years before it starts to peel and flake. This is getting old. Then there is the problem of not slopping white stain onto the metal spindles while painting the wood rails.
Do you really want to tape out all those spindles -- or just freehand it? Easier to just take it all apart with the new driver?
We're going to start over, disassemble, prime it, paint it, and maybe get some kind of sealant over that. It has to be white to match up with the homeowners association trim rules, other than that, any ideas while the iron is still hot?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

You've come a long way, baby

It's a battery-powered electronic nicotine delivery system. Cigelectric. An e-cigarette. Stan got a salesman's sample handed to him the other day and Kathleen couldn't resist "firing" it up when she found it in his pockets pile. There's no flame or heat, you just drag on it, a light comes on in the tip and it produces cold vapor. You just puff it.
Kathleen has never smoked. We doubt this modern innovation will be enough to get her started -- even though the look is very glamorous.
(Just kidding, Becky.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A wild goose chase to Xfinity. . .

New Prague is a lovely, progressive town 30 minutes from here, filled with shops, schools, churches, parks and comfortable homes. However, it does not have a Comcast Cable TV service center.
This is news to Comcast.
We subscribe to the monolithic enterprise that delivers Andy of Mayberry, America's Funniest Videos, Fox News, the WWF and the like to our home. For the past few months this otherwise reliable stream of entertainment has been intermittently interrupted without notice, producing a noisy, snowy gasping before the box eventually resets itself and resumes normal programming.
This can be irritating. Once while Raymond was asking Debra for sex, the Comcast signal suddenly fizzed out and by the time it came back on again his mother was serving them both lasagna, so we just had to assume that Ray's hopes had been dashed yet again.
Fed up, we used the intricate phone tree and recall system to consult with a live Comcast engineer about what the problem might be. Copious theories were posited, none very useful.
Later, by swapping the bedroom box and wiring with the living room box and wiring, we had our "aha" moment and determined that there was a loose connection between the power source and the not-so-magic rental box.
We don't own the equipment, so we wanted to swap the defective parts for new ones. We sought authority to do this first, of course, but this time we chose to contact Comcast using their customer chat line. (Oddly, you don't actually chat on a chat line, you type.) Everything went quite well, we thought, the extremely polite "analyst" on the other end of our chat went along with our request once we had typed enough to convince "Teresa" to authorize the trade. Then Teresa directed us to a Comcast service store. We had our choice of locations, she typed a list of possibilities. Feeling like a relaxed ride in the country, we chose the lovely town of New Prague. She kindly provided us with a street address in New Prague: "200 Alton Ave Se New Prague, MN". We thanked her and concluded our chat, then voluntarily filled out a survey of our satisfaction on the on-line form for that purpose.
This morning we scoured New Prague from one end to the other. Nothing. No 200 Alton. We ended up in a Radio Shack store (yes, New Prague has a Radio Shack too) where the nice man first Googled "Comcast" and found an address for a mythical store in a New Prague residential area, so he then called the 800 number for confirmation. That Comcast employee had to agree that there is no such thing as a Comcast store in New Prague. Try Richfield, she suggested.
All this may be hard to believe, dear reader, so we offer the actual transcript of yesterday's chat, directing us to the imaginary New Prague Comcast store. It's a study in careful, polite conversation, kindly directing us to perdition, little else. Enjoy!

CHAT ID: E8E5BF97-C218-4F65-AF51-0BA6A84A3FDF
Problem: We have three additional outlet service boxes. One is defective, we have determined this by swapping them around. I would like to trade the defective box for a new one. Can I do this? How do I do it. Where do I take it?
Teresa > Hello stan, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Teresa. Please give me one moment to review your information.
stan > My Issue: We have three additional outlet service boxes. One is defective, we have determined this by swapping them around. I would like to trade the defective box for a new one. Can I do this? How do I do it. Where do I take it?
Teresa > Hi! You have reached the Xfinity Cable- Technical Department where we value your Lifestyle. Let me extend a warm smile to make your day even better! I hope your day is going well.
Teresa > As part of Comcast Customer Guarantee, rest assured I will personally do everything within my means to address your concern today.
Teresa > May I know what happened to your cable box?
stan > It seems to have a loose connection. For months now, we get service interruptions, then it resets itself. When we traded the living room box with the one in the bedroom, the problem moved with the box to the bedroom, where we are now experiencing choppy reception and power outages like we were before in the living room. I have no idea what caused the problem, it took us a while and a phone call to comcast before we figured it out. Check my file.
Teresa > Thank you for that information Stan.
Teresa > Just to clarify, you want to exchange your cable box for a new one, is this correct?
stan > yes
Teresa > Thank you.
Teresa > You can swap your cable box in your local service center.
stan > where might that be
Teresa > I can note this on the account so that it would be for free.
Teresa > I found some service center in your area, they are: Minnetonka, New Prague, Richfield, Minneapolis, and Brooklyn Park.
Teresa > Which do you prefer?
Teresa > I would give you the address.
stan > New Prague
Teresa > Thank you.
Teresa > Their address is Minnetonka, New Prague, Richfield, Minneapolis, and Brooklyn Park.
Teresa > They are open Monday-Friday: 11:00am-7:00pm. Saturday: 9:00am-5:00pm.
stan > What is the address in New Prague?
Teresa > Their address is 200 Alton Ave Se New Prague, MN 56071
stan > Thank you. Do I need any paperwork?
Teresa > Please bring the box, wires, remote and manual (if any). Please do not forget to bring a valid ID and a Comcast bill.
Teresa > Do you have other concerns for me today? Please do not hesitate to ask questions as I'd be glad to assist you further.
stan > OK. Did you authorize something that they will recognize at New Prague?
Teresa > They would be checking the system, and since I have noted it you can swap it for free.
Teresa > Before we finish up I'd like to just take a minute to review what we have done for you today.
stan > Thank you very much. This has been bugging us for months and maybe we'll get some relief now :)
Teresa > You contacted us because you want to swap your cable box and you were asking for the service center and I provided you with one.
Teresa > Before you go, I would really appreciate it if you would answer our short SURVEY to provide us feedback on how I assisted you. You may do this by simply clicking the " EXIT CHAT" button then "TAKE OUR SURVEY" after our chat session.
Teresa > Would that be fine with you?
stan > ok
Teresa > Excellent! Thank you so much! I would love to see the result of your survey after our chat. I hope I was able to provide you a Highly Satisfactory resolution to resolve your concerns.
Teresa > By the way, I see here that you are eligible to subscribe to our SPP. Service Protection Plan (SPP) is an optional comprehensive plan that is offered to all Comcast residential Customers. For a low monthly fee, it covers the Customer for service calls related to trouble caused by inside wiring issues or problems with Comcast-owned equipment.
Teresa > Would you like me to add it on your account?
stan > no
Teresa > Just a reminder for the survey. Please click " EXIT CHAT" button then "TAKE OUR SURVEY" to formally close this chat page and proceed to the survey page.
stan > ok
Teresa > Thank you for contacting Comcast! We appreciate your business and values you as a customer. Should you need further assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to chat us back again. We are open 24/7 or you may call our hot line number at 1-800- 9346489 or 1-800-XFINITY. You may also visit our FAQ page at: ersFAQs&pos=Nav . Thank you and have a wonderful night, Stan! 

For Sale: TV Wall Mounts, $25

We posted this to Craigslist:
Universal Heavy Duty TV Wall Mounts, $25. We bought these at Circuit City and paid a bundle, still good, don't need them any more.
The TV is on a table now. Come and get the mounts. Best offer.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Former mayor of Chanhassen dies

Funeral services were held today for Al Klingelhutz, 91, a Chanhassen farmer who served five years as  the town's mayor. Here's his obituary. Here's an entry posted in his memory book:
Al Klingelhutz
When I moved to Chanhassen in 1972 to be a reporter for the Carver County Sun and then the Chaska Herald, it was my privilege to observe the new mayor guiding his small village forward into the prosperous, beautiful city it has become.
His patient leadership and balanced approach lent stability and civility to countless public hearings and debates, so important to the democratic process, so full of potential for acrimony and division.
Al welcomed me with his huge handshake and welcomed full news coverage and open airings of the difficult public matters entrusted to his care. He was a good steward, working late into many nights for the community he loved.
His honesty, humor and common sense served him, and his community, well.
Fondly remembered by,
Stan Rolfsrud

Happy Birthday, Dave!

Have a good one, Coach Underwood!
(Shown here with the boys in West Des Moines, IA)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New life on the old place

Milkweed host with caterpillar. These are bigger leaves than we remember.
Rollie checking out
some Fon du lac
grape varietals.
We spent many long boring hours as youngsters pulling milkweed from our little farm pasture on Lake Andrew. Didn't know at the time that milkweeds are the preferred host for the monarch butterfly. Fortunately, there are still plenty of milkweeds surviving on our old place, including these being thoughtfully cultured by the present owner, Rollie Fernholz, in hopes of adding to the butterfly population. He says the caterpillar in this photo above will soon be a monarch (like the one in the file photo below), and spend the winter vacationing in Mexico.

Female monarch
So what else is growing these days on the old pasture land where we ran heifers and played baseball? An honest-to-goodness vineyard. Rollie will be harvesting grapes from it this fall for stomping and bottling at the local Carlos Creek Winery. We'll explore all that when family vintner Sosie arrives here from the Napa Valley in September.

The Rev. David Hoyme

Photo by Tom Obert
Pastor David Hoyme, 78, remembered here for his work at First Lutheran Church in Alexandria in the 60s, passed away yesterday after a lengthy illness.
Memorial services will be held Monday, August 20 at 1 p.m. at First Lutheran.
Visitation is Sunday, August 19 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Anderson Funeral Home and one hour prior to the service on Monday at the church.
We'll post an obituary when it's available.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

She'll be searching for Peewee Maynard photos

That's Ardis on the bass, playing guitar
Stan stopped by to see legendary "Baby Doll" girl band lead singer and professional wrestler Ardis Wells yesterday during his visit to see his mother at the Edgewater Vista in Alexandria. We posted a note here recently from Elizabeth in Owatanna who said her Dad played steel guitar in a band with Ardis back in the 50s.
The band was called "The Dakota Roundup Gang" and she was hoping to get find pictures of her Dad -- now 84 -- back in his scuffling youth.
Ardis is 95 now. She's laid up with a bum leg at the moment, but, sure enough, she recalled Pee Wee Maynard without prompting, and promised to look through her stuff for a nice photograph, as soon as she's mended and back in her own room.
Use this blog's search box to find the original 2008 post about Ardis and a video with her singing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A gathering of Cardinals. . .

This is for Lorlee who thinks she recognizes everybody but isn't sure:
Seated: Marlene Zimmel, Sue Graves, Patty Collins, Bob Watson, Sara Smith,
Maryanne Hibbard, Kathy Sherry, Billie Jo Jones.
Back: Stan Rolfsrud, John Herdan, Bev Roers, Charlie Olson, Tom Obert
Gary Ekdahl, Betty Larson. (Don't ask for all the married names, please.)
Tom Obert built his career in D.C.
Built retirement home in Alex.
15 Mighty Mighty Cardinals from the Jefferson Senior High Class of 1965 gathered this afternoon at the Bug-a-Boo Bay in Alexandria for an unofficial mini-reunion. Despite the fact that this is the year that the 65ers turned 65, remarkably little time was spent discussing Medicare.
Big topic: Would you sell your home and retire in Alexandria? Some would, some wouldn't. Some have.
Bob Watson was obscured in the group photo.
So here he is again. Still good-looking. Charming.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Announcing an important software upgrade. . .

One of the most important reasons to upgrade your operating system is that you get a new version of Photo Booth with special effects. This important educational software enhancement provides critical research material for young and old alike while Mom runs her errands. This is the "alien" feature, judged better than the "dizzy" or "bug eye" option.
After watermelon, an easy puzzle and a hard-fought chutes-and-ladders battle.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rays 7; Twins 3

We called the balls and strikes
Seated in their usual blue collar section at Target Field, Kathleen and Stan have often looked over and wondered just what kind of people sit up in that exclusive Legends club area, high over the home plate action. Today they found out as guests of Bud and Paula, their neighbors with access to some fine cushioned seats just below Bert and Dick in the press box.
They all had a great time, despite the Twins refusal to accept victory from three golden offerings. The Twins eventually lost in the 10th, allowing the Tampa Bay Rays to complete a 3-game sweep.
It was a perfect day for baseball, they thought, temperatures in the 60s, overcast and the sprinkles held off until the last inning --- and then nobody cared anymore.

10 mile shot down the Cannon

Taking full advantage of her new home in Northfield (a river runs through it), Jennifer tossed our kayak into the pristine Cannon for a 10-mile discovery tour -- just going with the flow -- yesterday. No details given on her recon yet, but please note her sweatshirt. The weather cooled nicely for a sunrise glide on a gentle current.

Meanwhile, Stan and Kathleen will join Bud and Paula cheering the tottering Twins against the mighty Rays at Target Field this afternoon. Scattered showers won't scatter us. Bud advises packing ponchos.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

There goes the neighborhood. . .

If their front yard condition provides a clue, it appears the little Hobbits next door have left town with no forwarding address. We're sad to report that this is the present sorry shape of their storied pond-side residence. Some say they are still at home, but, like everyone else, have lost all ambition to the constant and oppressive heat.
Once Upon a Time. . .

We hope the present cooling Canada air mass will coax them out, and we see them busy with tiny trimmers and paint brushes in their precious little hands.

Breakfast flakes

Maybe it was all the excitement of trying out the new tropical fruit blend smoothie package (peach slices, mango chunks, pineapple chunks, banana slices) purchased yesterday from Target, which we hoped would relieve the boredom of our usual morning mix; or maybe it was the excitement of seeing the big Mitt Romney running mate announcement aboard the battleship Wisconsin, we don't know. But for some reason this morning we were so completely distracted that we somehow forgot to insert the black plastic tamper through the hole on the lid of our Vita-Mix blender before stomping down on some uncooperative frozen fruit pieces.
This momentary oversight caused an immediate and unfortunate blending of black plastic with mango, peach and pineapple chunks.
A crisis over morning coffee can be most unpleasant, but the incident was quickly smoothed by the friendly Vita-Mix people at the other end of an 800 number that was answered immediately.
We read the serial number off the bottom of the blender and the young man said they would Fed-Ex a replacement tamper to us immediately. However, this mishap will have to go on our permanent record and we'll need to pay a fee next time.
Wow. They have a frequent manglers policy. So this has happened to other distracted operators.
Kind of exciting, makes you feel like a part of a wide unfocused community.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Meanwhile, 3:10 at the Archer House River Inn, Northfield. . .

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Seeking old Roundup Gang photos

Back in 2008 we wrote a story about Mom's famous neighbor at her assisted living facility in Alexandria. Ardis Wells lives down the hall from Mom, and from time to time we get inquiries about Ardis. We've only interviewed her once, but she's a cool lady and we're happy to pass on this inquiry from today's mailbag. Can you help Elizabeth?
Ardis Wells

Hi. I came across your blog today at Rolfsruds & Friends. I was searching “Jimmy and Ardis Wells and The Roundup Gang (Jimmy’s band). My father (actually step father but dad to me) played the steel guitar in the band. Ardis Wells attended my Dad’s 70th birthday (he is now 84). Dad lives in Brooklyn Park MN.

I have a B&W photo that my brother snagged off the internet of the band but we would love to find more photos. This morning my brother was able to buy a nice photo off of Ebay of The Roundup Gang. My dad used to have the same photo hanging up in his home. He also played steel guitar for other bands and big name country singers. (You might check out the songs “Careless Fool” and “Cry Baby Cry” by Dave Dudley on Youtube…my dad played steel guitar for both songs, and played for some other bigger names like Buck Owens, Roy Clark, Rex Allen, and we think he may have even played early on with the Everly Bros before they became a big name but we are not sure, still trying to confirm this.)

When you met Ardis in Alexandria, did you happen to acquire any photos of her with The Roundup Gang? I saw the pic in the video on your blog but she appears with only women. Jimmy Wells and my dad were in the band but not in that particular picture. We are wanting to find pictures of the band that include both Jimmy and my Dad.

Thank you very much.

Elizabeth Auppl
Owatonna MN

(Laskowski is my dad’s last name.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Back to Wisconsin

After an interesting conversation this morning about geological formations in the Baraboo, Wisconsin area (vast portions have never been glaciated, making the massive rocks in the area some of the oldest exposed formations in the world) our house guest was on the road again, back home to Fox Lake. We enjoyed hosting Sharon, the wildlife biologist, and wish her all the best. Should be a good day for travel, cool temps and overcast skies.
Devils Lake in the Baraboo Hills near Fox Lake. (Photo from Google Images)

Monday, August 06, 2012

Fashion show tonight. . .

New job,
New doo --
She has beautiful curls, naturally. So, for a new look, they get straightened.
New threads, too.
Jennifer has a new job in Northfield. Tonight we were treated to an impromptu fashion show, because when you get a new job, you need a new hairdo and some new clothes. Our house guest, Sharon, (below -- back from a day of work in Minnetonka) joined us in approving the new wardrobe, a couple of favorite ensemble are shown here.
(New shoes, too, naturally.)
Working girls.

Little-known factoid:
Jennifer is a 1984 graduate of
the prestigious John Casablanca Modeling School of Edina.
No kidding.