Thursday, January 31, 2013

Don't Miss It!

Long before social media, here's how young people advertised a party
at their parents' house. We don't know how many copies were
printed, but eventually we got ours.
Our flight to Florida hadn't left the tarmac yet -- March 11, 1989 -- but our party girls were scurrying about our Canyon Ridge home, getting it prepped for the "social event of the season." We had left strict instructions about what should be done in our absence, with an absolute prohibition of guests and parties, of course. No. No. and No.
Secure in the knowledge that our girls could be counted on to be left alone while we attended the annual Twins Spring Training workouts in Fort Meyers, we enjoyed a week in the warm and watched a spectacular launch of the Discovery shuttle as well.
When we returned home a week later with photos and stories, the house was as neat as a pin and our daughters seemed quite compliant and interested in our lives. We chose to believe our detailed instructions had been followed to the letter while we were away. 
Alas, only a week later, while doing some deep cleaning, a sheet of paper was discovered, tucked in the folds of the couch. The hand-written and photocopied invitation had been overlooked in the haste to tidy up after what was billed as "the social event of the season. Liquor, sauna, food, fireplace, fun provided!"
That was almost 25 years ago, but we retain the irrefutable evidence to this day, as Exhibit A in our parenting museum.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hey Mom, more kudos on your video!

A new fan commented on Mom's YouTube clip today. Her video is approaching 15,000 plays:

alohachristine has made a comment on
My Heart Ever Faithful
I too am a singer, but never seem to perform so well in front of people! Hopefully I'll figure it out one of these days, and be able to perform as smoothly and flawlessly as your Mom did. I'm so glad to have discovered this video today! It brought me some comfort on a day of a troubled heart. I'm going to listen to it again now! :)
Oh, I also meant to tell you that I really enjoyed seeing the lovely home videos. Life passes all too quickly and it's a good reminder to enjoy family while we have them.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Christmas comes back to us

Marilyn Monroe

We gave Hai Dang a $25 Gift Certificate to Bachman's for Christmas. He bought four cyclamen bulbs, put them in pots in his basement, forced them to bloom, then took these amazing photographs, adding his signature to each one. They were shot against a black background using just one lighting source (the sun) and some reflectors to fill in relief voids. Magnificent feminine creations. Click to enlarge the detail. Help us name them.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Republican Dog? Oh My!

We got just enough snow to cover the back yard today, just enough for Birdie to make fresh tracks as she went about her duties. A guest happened to notice it first, then we did too. If you look hard, you may be able to make it out. Our dog drew an elephant in the snow. Two legs on the bottom and a trunk to the right. Hey, art is where you find it. (Keep looking)

Uff Da!

DATELINE: Watford City
Makes you wonder what the late author of "Extraordinary North Dakotans"
and "The Story of North Dakota" would have to say about this development.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Good Old Days revealed

They just don't build 'em like they used to.
We pulled the plaster and lath off this non-load bearing wall,
revealing a creative solution to short lumber.
A decade or so after Jesse James and his gang were chased out of Northfield, somebody built Jennifer's house a couple miles up the Cannon River. Today we demolished a hundred year-old wall, square nails and all . . . and were surprised at what we found under the lath and plaster.
A splice and a butt joint to this
three-piece stud
You may know that last fall our youngest daughter bought a fixer-upper and set up housekeeping in the newer part. She's working two jobs in Northfield so there hasn't been a lot of time left for remodeling the project area. Today we opened a wall that separates the kitchen from the living room. We lugged the bagged detritus out to the big garage, where it will be released in weekly dribs and drabs to the trashman.
Whenever you mention you're planning on removing a wall, you invariably get a stern warning.
"Be sure it isn't a bearing wall," Marcia, mom's cook and helper, thoughtfully cautioned us yesterday.
It was definitely not a bearing wall, a good thing. We didn't actually remove its studs today, but we could just as well have if we had wanted to. Based on today's findings, it appears that eight-foot studs for wallbuilders were in short supply in 1900. The studs were actually a full two inches by four inches thick, not the planed down versions of today.
  There were no building inspectors or codes back then, so workmen, finding themselves with short sticks, were free to splice and sister to their heart's content. We found a few creative ways of lengthening stubby lumber in the kitchen wall -- one solution combined three shorties in an imaginative turn-of-the-century creation to span the distance between floor and ceiling.
We're not criticizing the work of our pioneering forefathers. After all, that wall lasted over a century and probably could have gone for another if some new owner hadn't wanted to get a better view of her guests from the kitchen.
It was actually a fun day, we spent it wearing masks, even though old-style plaster dust isn't as nasty as sheetrock powder. Hundred-year-old dust swirled about, but scooping up, sweeping and vacuuming went pretty well and before you knew it, Jenn had her new Open Concept kitchen. Take that, Property Brothers! Send a camera crew, HGTV!
Stan is back home now, comforted by three Advils, a chicken dinner and a scotch, exhausted but enjoying the satisfactory feeling of a hard day well spent, something too rare these days. As for Jennifer? Hey, it's Friday night!
Open concept kitchen.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Icebox of the Nation

On Jan 23, 2013, at 5:42 PM, Stan Rolfsrud wrote:


International Falls, at 20 below, is the coldest place in the country today. Congratulations!

Gee, thanks!
We are not famous this morning, however, with -34  because Embarass has -46. DAMMIT!

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cubbies full of loafers

Can I Go Too?
There could be many reasons this is Birdie's favorite spot. It's near a heat vent, dogs like small and confining dens, it smells deliciously like feet and so on.

Or maybe she's figured out that before her people can leave, they have to put their shoes on first -- and this way she won't miss out on a chance to go along.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Do they know of this in Ulsteinvik?

Nephew Zachary Shearer, our Goat Cheese and Lefse correspondent, sends along this item from the BBC. Years ago, our "Cousin" Hilda Jokstad used to bring us goat cheese as a treat. Never saw the point, but Dad always raved about it. Course he liked buttermilk and rommegrott too.

Norway goat cheese fire closes tunnel


A road tunnel in Norway has been closed - by a lorry-load of burning cheese.
About 27 tonnes of caramelised brown goat cheese - a delicacy known as Brunost - caught light as it was being driven through the Brattli Tunnel at Tysfjord, northern Norway, last week.
Brunost (file photo)The fire raged for five days and smouldering toxic gases were slowing the recovery operation, officials said.
The tunnel - which is said to be badly damaged - is likely to remain closed for several weeks, they added.
"We can't go in until it's safe," geologist Viggo Aronsen told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
Police officer Viggo Berg said the high concentration of fat and sugar in the cheese made it burn "almost like petrol if it gets hot enough".
Map locatorThe lorry driver had noticed the fire in his trailer and abandoned it about 300m (1,000ft) from the southern entrance. No-one was hurt.
Kjell Bjoern Vinje, of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, said it was the first time he could remember cheese catching fire on Norwegian roads.
"I didn't know that brown cheese burns so well," he said.


Winter's glory

Jack Frost painted our storm door before sunrise this cold morning. Temperatures have set no records, but are presently 11 below zero. High today of One. Yes. One. We're now reading the newspaper, delivered this morning by neighbors who returned yesterday after a week in Florida. Welcome Home, Tom and Sandy!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Update from Ulsteinvik

Our Norwegian cousins sure know how to take a vacation. They're back now FROM THEIR CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY!
Here's Gunnar's note sent this morning from his harbor home on the rugged coast of Norway.
Gunnar Rolfsrud
Hello Stan,
Hilde and I have been away on a four-week Christmas/New Year trip to Thailand and returned to Ulsteinvik yesterday.
We also went over to Cambodia and spent New Year's Eve in Siam Reep, and also a short trip to Vung Tau in Vietnam. I worked there for British Petroleum/Statoil almost 20 years ago and wanted to see what the place looks like today. Lots of changes -- and not all of them for the better.

Here in Ulsteinvik we have superb weather with a little snow and minus 3 degrees [celsius] and the forecast for the next couple of days is good.
We enjoy it, because it was a little too warm in Asia for us Norwegians.
All the best to both of you
from Hilde and Gunnar

Ulsteinvik, Norway -- Google Maps

What next!

Will Daisy and the too-tall footman become an item or is he to be Lady Edith's next? What new tragedy awaits Anna and Bates? What trick has O'Brien in store for Thomas? And the "chauffeur" and the IRA? Now that Downton has been saved, will Lady Mary finally settle in to her relationship?
Are we really going to have three days in a row below zero?
All will be revealed. Tonight at 8.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Marathon man and family in Florida heat

Hot, hot, hot. Our nephew Adam Jerdee finished his annual marathon at Disneyworld despite the highest temps for the event in recent memory. Congratulations Adam! See details in the Jerdee blog below, right. He's joined here for a pre-race photo by Kim and Landon.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ready to visit Mom in The Northland

Hi Mom!
It's me, Solveig. I'm in California getting ready for a trip to Minnesota. I will see you Monday, February 4. We have one week to get in trouble, so start planning!!!
I look forward to meeting Benita and putting a couple of puzzle pieces in place. And I certainly hope Marsha invites me to lunch one day!
It is cold here. Maybe it will be warmer in February in Minnesota. I wear a thermometer on my zipper pull (look under my chin) because Bill says if I'm going to whine, I might as well be precise. 

Note to Solveig: As you see from the photo taken yesterday, there are still plenty of puzzle pieces left for you. We have been trying, it is really hard. It is a map of Mom's new neighborhood. The edge pieces and the interstate were the easy parts. Now we are putting together the many lakes of Bloomington. There are a ton. "Penn Lake?" Who knew. It would help to have a map.
Sosie: By the way, your gloves are clearly inadequate for present conditions. Suggest you modify your proposed outfit.

Dear big brother,
Thanks for the warning re the wimpy gloves. I am digging thru my emergency gear and have spread these out in the kitchen counter for your review. Herein, top and clockwise:
1) Face mask that can be spotted in a snowdrift. 
2) Pair of thermal, leather-palmed mitts clutching Toe Heaters. 
3) Scary hand warmer in red-flannel bag that involves fuel and matches and lengthy instructions. 
4) One-time Sports Heat Hand Warmer. 
5) Warmest Wool Socks made from wool and angora rabbit fur in Nelson, Minnesota.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Neighbors make fine escape

This morning we lodged inquiries as to the whereabouts of two respected neighborhood couples, the Storys and the Gerkens. We received a prompt response from sunny Florida, thanks to Sandy's considerable communication skills.
Got your message today. Things in Ft. Myers are going well. We toured the Edison & Ford Winter Estates this afternoon and as luck would have it Henry & Clara Ford came by and agreed to a photo with all of us in front of the main house.
We are enjoying the FL weather, it has been about perfect ... Actually warmer then normal for January (no complaints from us). We haven't forgotten our friends "up north" ... Abbey Point comes up in our conversations quite often.
Not sure a week here will be enough, but I guess that is all we get.
Hope all is well with you and Kathleen,
Tom & Sandy, John & Mary

Monday, January 14, 2013

Classmates chill in Maple Grove

Squeezing close to get everyone into the shot (not just to stay warm)
Ramona Sly, Stan Rolfsrud, Kathy Faust, Kathy Skadsberg,
Paula Hanson, Terrie Widstrom
Braving January temps, six Wallweeds from the Alexandria Class of 1965 gathered in Maple Grove tonight to renew friendships and enjoy Happy Hour half-priced drinks and hors-de-ouvres (Sorry, Senior discount does not apply -- no other special offers -- put your coupons away).
Ramona Sly, the youngster in the group, celebrated her upcoming birthday; she'll cross the great divide tomorrow. Our waitress did not sing the birthday song, but she did take this dandy photo of the club members getting closer to each other.
It was hoped that Charlie Stark would be there to report on his recent West Coast trip where he and his wife enjoyed lunch with 65ers Karl and Sue (Gorham) Tegland, but Charlie had been called away on business and wasn't able to attend.
A debate on where the world's largest cross stands was settled by Paula Hanson. Stan Rolfsrud asserted that he had seen the biggest cross (19 stories high) along a freeway in Texas, but it turns out that there is now one that is nine feet taller in Illinois, according to Paula's hand-held device that answers all questions. We did not ask her device where the world's largest ball of string is located because we got sidetracked naming the states in the four corners (New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona).
Classmate updates were shared. Vacation destination recommendations as well.
We did not talk much about aches and pains other than the flu. Grandchildren somehow didn't make the cut either.
Here's a file copy of what Kathleen thought at the time was the world's largest cross when we stopped and she took a picture of Stan beneath it.

Official Christmas photo, finally.. .

This reminds us of the days when you brought film to the mall and waited a week or so for the results. (You could pay extra for "overnight.") Maybe you ordered "doubles" in matte or glossy, maybe you sprung for the extra-large images that you intended to frame but never got around to doing. When you did pick up the package, you might not wait to bring home to share, but rather tore it open on the spot or in the parking lot and started to relive the experiences the pictures retold -- or maybe the disappointment of blurred images.
We sort of went through all that with some of our Christmas photos this year. They finally arrived this week, not because the drug store was slow, but because the camera had been left behind, trapping the digital images inside. Since then, the camera has been retrieved, images downloaded, and we finally get a look at what a great time we had over Christmas. Here is the official photo of everyone, utilizing the time delay feature in Jennifer's camera.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday shenanigans

Smoothie Smile. 
Emily wipes away traces of this morning's breakfast
before settling down to some serious construction. 
On its way.
Powered by gravity, marble rolls
down the structure.

The Duluth Trading Co., purveyors of work boots and plumber's no-crack tee shirts, said their box of Amazen Marbles chutes and ramps was just the thing for Christmas. They were right. We finally got around to opening the box of construction materials today and got to work building an engineering marvel that sent marbles bumping and rolling along a path on a circuitous route to the table top. We cheered every time a marble hit bottom, happy enough that gravity still works.
Building block creations is fun for a while -- so is making chocolate chip coookies and playing Go Fish.
Earlier, Emily had a chance to go ice fishing today with Luke, but it fell through. (the chance, not the ice). She's was a bit ambivalent about the experience anyway. Not sure yet about handling a flopping crappie. "I like fish," she explained. "But I like them all ready at Cub."
Click to enlarge and fully appreciate the amazing gap.
Emily's fang has finally been removed

Friday, January 11, 2013

We sang the songs their mother loved

We just returned from the Emogene Olson Bragstad Jacobson funeral in Roseville, a celebration of life if ever there was one.
Born in predominately Norwegian Jackson County in 1922, baptized there at Our Savior's Lutheran, she attended Waldorf College and graduated from St. Olaf in 1943. She taught school, then married a minister, the Rev. Robert Bragstad, in 1947. Her sister, Beatrice, married a minister too, Dr. Joe Knutson, who would become the president of Concordia College in Moorhead.
Emy is survived by three sons, John, Claude and Glen (Stan met John at Concordia); as well as a daughter, Regene.
Twins Glen and Claude have a tax planning firm and are friends with Stan's brother Virg. Stan hadn't talked to their big brother John for years and, whaddaya know? He's now a marriage counselor. His web site promises "Real Help for Real Problems: Serving Stillwater, Woodbury, White Bear Lake, Hudson, WI, and surrounding areas."
John Bragstad
The Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, formed by Emy and her late husband in 1957, was packed today with Lutherans in fine voice. It's a good thing. Emy loved a robust hymn sing and for her funeral she chose some of the best that the Red Hymnal has to offer:
"I Know That My Redeemer Lives,
"Great Is Thy Faithfulness
"Children of the Heavenly Father
"My Hope is Built on Nothing Less
"O Day Full of Grace"
Her eldest, John, also a Luther Seminary grad, delivered a thoughtful remembrance.
After the service, lunch was served by honest-to-goodness church ladies, and the traditional green bean and mushroom soup casserole appeared prominently among the open-faced sandwiches and krumkake.
On the way home, we shared a copy of the program with veteran funeral soloist Bev Rolfsrud, 92, at Kell Avenue in Bloomington. She lit up while going through the many musical selections, singing and humming a few of the familiar lines here and there.
It's The Berger!
Old friends gathered to honor Emy
and enjoy a plateful of tradition.
And of course she knew well all the traditional numbers Emy had chosen for her prelude, alternately presented on organ and piano. At one time or another Mom's performed them all and has taught many others to sing or play them, thereby bringing these enduring tunes forward, and helping to provide a continuous spiritual backdrop to so many lives:
"Sheep May Safely Graze"
"Behold the Host Arrayed in White
"Lift High the Cross
"The King of Love My Shepherd is
"Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling
"What a Friend We Have in Jesus
"Away in a Manager
"Thy Little Ones, Dear Lord are We
"Now Thank we All our God
And of course, "The Doxology."

The postlude was the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah, played on violin and piano, truly a magnificent Amen to the celebration of a long life well-lived.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


In the kitchen at Jennifer's house. Strictly organic, of course.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Emy Bragstad

Our thoughts are with old friends John, Glen and Claude Bragstad, on the passing of their 89-year-old mother, Emogene Bragstad "Emy" Jacobsen. She was a sweet lady, always bright and supportive. A pleasure to be around.
Stan got to know her three sons when he lived and worked at the Minneapolis War Memorial Blood Bank in the late Sixties and shared overnight blood dispensing responsibilities with them.

Emogene Bragstad "Emy" Jacobsen
June 23, 1922 - January 5, 2013 
Loving Mom, Grandma, & Great-Grandma 
Of Roseville. Preceded in death by first husband, Pastor Robert Bragstad, and second husband, Harold Jacobsen. 
Survived by children, John (Susan) Bragstad, Claude Bragstad, Glen Bragstad, and Regene Dykstra (Ron); sister, Margaret Knutson (Glennys) of Austin; 8 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. 
Funeral service 11 AM Friday, January 11 at PRINCE OF PEACE LUTHERAN CHURCH, 2561 N. Victoria St., Roseville. Visitation at MUELLER-BIES FUNERAL HOME-ROSEVILLE, 2130 N. Dale St. @ Cty Rd B from 4-7 PM Thursday and at church from 10-11 AM Friday. Memorials preferred. MUELLER-BIES 651-487-2550
Emy's twins, Claude and Glen, file photo.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Love isn't easy. . .

It can be really hard to get it right.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Monday, January 07, 2013

January thaw inspires spontaneity

Kathleen was just sliding a big pot roast into the oven late this sunny afternoon when the thought hit her: This is an awful lot of roast beef for two people.
There's been a nice change in the weather, we finally had melting today, it got warm enough to wash layers of salt and dirt off our absolutely filthy car. Kathleen was feeling particularly good with her sinus infection finally lifting today and she felt like celebrating. So she put a roast in and peeled some potatoes. God bless.
Over on Kell Avenue where Mom stays, they had a break in their cabin fever as well. Around noon, the two residents and their willing caregivers jumped (well, two of them were actually gently transferred) into Jill's car and off they went bombing around Bloomington, dropping in at Walmart and McDonald's for no particular reason, other than to prove that they're not shut-ins.
Meanwhile, back on Abbey Point, Kathleen impulsively picked up the telephone to see if we could find some pleasant company to share the beef. We found two takers at the newspaper office: Perennial good-timers Laurie and Hai. They shared our roast beef and steamed carrots and some laughs and topped it off with a round of sundaes and a really nice visit and some talk about joining a business tour to Cuba.
We get another warm day tomorrow. We may take the opportunity to try out the new community dog park. Birdie unplugged. We'll see how that goes.
Just think. Only four more months of winter left.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Mom's Greatest Hits

Mom's "My Heart Ever Faithful" YouTube video continues to get hits, she's at almost 15,000 now. Today Joan Troyer listened to it and added a special comment, which was automatically forwarded here:

Joan Troyer has made a comment on My Heart Ever Faithful
Your Mom was a very fine musician! I love her beauty of tone and phrasing! Thank you for sharing this. You should be very proud! Excellent singing! Unhurried. I think Bach would have liked it
Don't know who Joan is, but she sounds very nice. You can view Mom's video yourself by going to the column on the right and clicking it. Mom, at age 92, still sings, you know. Friday she sang "Happy Birthday" to Curt on his 82nd birthday. He's the husband of her Kell Avenue housemate. Her melody was well-received by all the party-goers before the candles went out. So there.

 Mid-century Cannon Falls product Brad Lundell (The Lunds) offered a few wry comments last night while examining a framed print treasured by his host, Shel Anderson. "The Boys" and their wives had been invited to Shel's house to view the Packer/Vikings conflict in high definition; the dreary contest left ample time for amusing diversions, not the least of which was this vintage photograph of Shel and his older brother, Randy, believed to be ages seven and eleven a the time, all prepped and shined for their big sister's confirmation in Moorhead.

Shel and Kristie, our hosts for last night's final Vikings game.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Tea time

The man just said we're looking at historic low temperatures soon. Really. He did. We'll be looking for more fun things to do indoors. Like the puzzle we got for Christmas.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Forced progress. . .

We gave Hai Dang an Amaryllis bulb for Christmas, told him to put his Asian green thumb to work. He's forcing the potted bulb in his Prior Lake basement and has dutifully phoned in the progress so far. 
It's going to be a gorgeous red blossom soon. We'll report on it, you decide.

Put down the washboard and banjo me this. . .

They're pretend sharks and crocodiles for the kiddies this morning.
Brother Dan treated us to breakfast this morning at his Midtown Global Market. A group straight out of "O Brother Where Art Thou" was picking and grinning in the food court for some kind of children's hour, so what could we do, we joined in. We sang along to stuff like "You Are My Sunshine", "I've Been Working on the Railroad" and other very uncool stuff that became really cool and fun in the hands of these stompin Family Singers. Turns out, we had stumbled into some accomplished talent in an unlikely venue.
"The Roe Family Singers are a Good-Time, Old-Time Hillbilly band from the Mississippi-headwaters community of Kirkwood Hollow, Minn. Led by wife and husband duo Kim Roe (Best Female Vocalist, City Pages/Village Voice) and Quillan Roe (Accident Clearinghouse), the band blends characteristic old-time sound with rock and roll urgency and influence."
Yee ha!
Joined by as many as seven musicians, and featuring banjo, autoharp, guitar, and washboard, the band and family of fans have been regularly filling Minneapolis’ 331 Club every Monday night since 2005.
They were named the World's Best at the 30th annual jug band contest, an event we somehow missed, but no matter, we heard 'em today for free over hash browns and toast.
How many verses to "Wabash Cannonball" do you know? We finished our ham and cheese omelets, but it was the thumping and singing that powered us through snowy, snarled Lake Street traffic as we went about our mid-day errands.
Photos from Katie's cellphone.