Thursday, February 28, 2013

Just some ideas. . .

We've been staring at the walls, and it's not just cabin fever. We're noodling some ideas for our master bath. Here's what we've got done so far. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Make an offer . . .

This Stearns and Foster hide-a-bed is ready for a new home. Kathleen got it with her employee discount when she worked at Carson's in the 80s. Still lots of sitting left in it, it is just too heavy for a couple of seniors trying to lighten up and down size. We've been using it out on the screen porch, for snoozing, watching TV and waiting for summer storms to blow in.
We've got a new denim-covered version on its way, so this one goes on Craigslist as soon as Duk gets a torn zipper repaired. But you've got first dibs!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rolfsrud bare bottom still a topic in Seattle

A columnist from the Seattle Times visited the Big Apple last week and among other things met up with our first cousin, Erika Rolfsrud, who has made her living acting on and off Broadway. The highlight of the writer's weekend was a brunch with our famous cousin.
Here are a few breathless excerpts from the Seattle Times story:

By Sherry Grindeland
Seattle Times staff columnist

I felt a bit like a wide-eyed country kid after nibbling at the Big Apple.

New York City was exhausting, amazing, overwhelming and great fun. Plus, I think we here in the Northwest could learn some things from those New Yorkers.

After a mere 3-½ days in New York City, I'm convinced we need more mass transit on the Eastside and in Seattle. Five friends and I went from Harlem to Greenwich Village, Lincoln Center to Ground Zero, breakfast to dinner on subways and buses.
We caught the first play, "Voyage," in Tom Stoppard's "The Coast of Utopia" trilogy at the Lincoln Center Theater. . .
Erika Rolfsrud is in the cast. She's a 1986 grad from Sammamish High School and a former neighbor of the Horsts when they lived in Bellevue. Rolfsrud was in several Issaquah Village Theatre productions in the 1990s.

ACT patrons may remember her from the 2004 production of another Stoppard play, "Jumpers." She was the lead female. (In one memorable scene, she was lying on a bed with her bare bottom to the audience.)

Meeting Rolfsrud after the play and having brunch with her on Sunday was a highlight for our group. At Sunday brunch we hung on every word as she described an actor's life in New York City. She's started rehearsals for the second play in the trilogy, "Shipwreck," set during the 1848 French Revolution.

"I'm a revolutionary and get to tear things apart," Rolfsrud said.

Notable fellow cast members who also will be in the second and third plays of the trilogy include Ethan Hawke, Billy Crudup, Richard Easton and Amy Irving.

Rolfsrud said rents in New York are so high she lives at the north tip of Manhattan, where a minuscule studio apartment costs more than $1,000 a month. That, Rolfsrud said, is an improvement over the former $850 walk-in closet with a bed that she sublet from someone.

"Living in New York has taught me not to accumulate things," she said. "I've become a master at packing a few things into small places, and I quickly get rid of things I don't wear."

Even with her growing successes in New York theater and some television roles, like most actors she works several jobs. Between Saturday's afternoon and evening shows she dashed off to care for someone's cats and on Monday, her only day off, she works a third job.

Is she having fun?

Absolutely, she said.

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Eloping to Las Vegas!

Our niece, Briggs Rolfsrud, is eloping with Lynn Wilson to Las Vegas March 23. We got the news today! Read all about this wonderful development on their new blog. Congratulations and Best Wishes to you two! We are thrilled.
The event will be streamed live from the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. Honeymoon in New Zealand.

Here's something about Briggs:
I was born in Mankato, MN to Stephen and Nancy Rolfsrud on November 4, 1982 and I have two siblings, Breck and Ford. Throughout my life, I have always been involved in sports, and my next athletic adventure is running my first half-marathon on March 16, 2013! I attended St. Kate's for my undergraduate degree, then received my master's at Harvard, and I'm now taking classes toward a certificate at Johns Hopkins, all in the field of education. Currently, I am an Admissions Manager at Johns Hopkins. My favorite times with Lynn includes our trip to New York, our kayaking adventures in West Virginia and watching Star Trek. (Ok, that last one wasn't true, but I'm actually growing to like Star Trek a little bit. Don't tell Lynn!)

Here's something about Lynn:
I was born in Grand Rapids, MN on October 1, 1982 to Amy Helmer and Lynn Wilson Jr. Not only do I share a name with my father, but we also share a birthdate (though there is a 30 year difference). My sister Steff and I are very close. Like Briggs, I have always loved sports, especially baseball, football, and wrestling. For my undergraduate experience, I attended St. John's. Immediately following, I went to the University of Minnesota and completed my PhD in physics in September 2010. I gave my thesis defense, and within three days we were driving to Washington DC to start my job at NASA. I have now been with NASA as a research physicists for 2.5 years. I love my work because I get to discover the mysteries of the universe (just like they do on Star Trek!!!). My favorite experiences with Briggs so far have been our trips to New York City, whitewater rafting (listening to Briggs giggle while I'm freaking out), going hiking completely unprepared for the elements (got out of the car, realized it was way too cold, got back in and drove for an hour to get home), and our road trips to various and sundry places.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Or we could just eat the sausages

We're snowbound this morning, awaiting plows and et cetera so we can head downtown with the rest of the fools sliding around in the fresh snow. In the meantime, a new conundrum faces us, and in the absence of an owner's manual, we appeal to the common sense of our good readers.
Our freezing compartment in our 11 year-old Amana Temp Assur refrigerator isn't cold enough. Our Johnsonville sausage patties aren't rock hard like they're supposed to be. So yesterday we put all the frozen groceries outdoors in the 10 degree temperature and defrosted our frost-free fridge, hoping that might shake things up a bit.
After eight hours and just a tiny puddle of water, we plugged it in again, making sure there was no dust on the condensers and all the vents were immaculate.
Our sausage is softening again.
Perhaps it just takes a while for the fridge to catch up to the trauma of a defrost. We shall see. But as we watched the snowflakes fall, we started thinking, second guessing. Do we really have the freezer on its coldest setting? We examined the controls. It is on 7. Is that the lowest temperature? Wouldn't 7 be warmer than 1? Would the higher number be the lowest temperature? Or is 7 colder than 1? Seven degrees is warmer than one degree, whether celsius or fahrenheit.
The graphics don't help. There are two snowflakes on one side of the dial, and one snowflake on the other side of the dial. If you turn the dial in the direction of the two snowflakes, the numbers get smaller. Are two snowflakes colder than one snowflake?
Something to ponder as we watch the woods fill up with snow.
We could just eat the sausages.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Good to Go. . .

Al's got a new knee and all is well. Check out our brother-in-law's progress on  the blog at right. Hang in there bro!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

We're busy . . .

The March 2013 Duluth Trading Co. catalogue arrived today so we haven't had much time to post anything, but, here's a new item that caught our eye on Page 69:

"Big Ass Brick of Soap"
"3 times the size of most chick soaps
"Duke Cannon doesn't care much for small dogs, appletinis, or shows about singing and dancing. He's not the most interesting man in the world, but he once bowled a 260. And he can fix damn near anything. This is his soap -- at 4 1/2 L x 2 1/2 W x 1 3/4 D and weighing 3/4 of a lb., it earns its name. Smells like a man's soap should. Made with pride in Memphis, TN.

"Duke Cannon's soap is modeled after the rough cut, 'brick' soap used by GIs during the Korean War. Manufactured in the same plant that was the primary supplier of military soap for 20 years."


Monday, February 18, 2013


Our grandson Maxwell has advanced to the finals of the Japan Bowl, a quiz show competition for high school Japanese language students. Max and two teammates are now eligible to compete in the national competition in Maryland. The ultimate prize is a trip to Japan.
The purpose of the competition is to enhance the study of Japanese beyond language skills.
Maxwell is a senior at Southwest High School, where he has studied Japanese for four years. He's the good-looking guy in the photo above, wearing a purple tee shirt with Japanese lettering on it. Max is Marcy and Hoi's son. Grandma and Grandpa are very proud, of course, and would say so in Japanese if they had any idea how to do it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Baby Doll" singer dies

Ardis Wells
Mom's fun-loving nationally-famous neighbor at the Edgewood Vista in Alexandria has passed away at age 95. Ardis Wells sparkled whenever there was a special activity at the home.
She was born into a circus family, was lead singer of an all-girl band, a pro wrestler, dog musher and much more; she recorded the hit rockabilly single, "Baby Doll," in 1960. You could easily see she still loved the excitement of the limelight in her later years, never losing her zest for life.  
She recently moved to the Knute Nelson Home in Alexandria where she died. A Memorial service is planned for tomorrow at Anderson Funeral Home.
We met her five years ago at Mom's "Senior Prom" and wrote a little story then about her famous past. Click here to read it.  It includes a video clip we made that has attracted over 1200 viewers, many are fans from her era.
We'll watch for the obituary of this extraordinary woman in the local paper and publish it when it appears.
Here's a note from Jimmy Jenson:

Jimmy and Ardis
promotional photo
I joined Ardis' band in about 1960, later she worked for me. I bought a supper club in Alexandria in 1967. I asked Ardis if she would like to move to Alex too and we would perform at the club. Living up here and in the country, she was able to pursue her dreams of dog sled racing. We remained close all of 55 years. 
Jimmy Jenson
Who is Jimmy Jenson? Here's what it says on Jimmy's website:

Jimmy Jenson has been playing music for audiences for more than 60 years. Starting in the Fargo, Moorhead area in the late 40s with the "Minnesota Woodchoppers" then a couple years at WDAY TV. Went on to record Scandinavian humor, 7 albums. He went on the road with The Lynn Neely band, later taking his own band thoughout the midwest. He purchased a supper club in Alexandria Mn. in the 60s, making his home there.

Jimmy & Helen had 5 children, Kim, Suzanne, Jay, Cheryl & Mark. In 2005 Jimmy was inducted into the "Mid-America Hall of Fame, a Lifetime Achievment award.
After some serious health problems which God helped him through he decided to get into the Gospel music field. Now feeling great at 81, still rides motorcycles.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Miraculous three-cornered deal done

Lisa's extraction team: two sons and a girlfriend. That's
Lisa with the big grin and the cash --  ready to close a complicated deal.
We sold our entire Victorian Mansion bedroom set to Lisa from Lafayette. Well, not exactly our set. We had to work a three-cornered deal first to make everybody happy.
We had advertised a bedroom set with king-sized headboard. Unfortunately, Lisa and husband Bob sleep on a queen mattress, but she dearly wanted the bedroom set. Could we somehow shrink that beautiful six-foot headboard somehow, she asked? Well, that might require some divine intervention.
No problem, the Lord works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.
The Queen with her footmen.
Enter Pastor Brenda from Maple Grove with a queen-sized headboard that wasn't getting used because she sleeps in a king-size bed with her missionary husband. Would we trade her Victorian Mansion queen for our king with $200 to boot?
Hold the line, Brenda. We'll call Lisa.
The deal was done and soon the pastor arrived with her queen headboard and footboard, rails, the church trailer and two willing custodians sworn to secrecy.
We then swapped our king-size bed set for her queen size bed set in time for a thrilled Pastor Brenda to surprise her husband with a now-completed romantic Victorian Mansion bedroom on Valentine's Day.
Out it Goes!
Today it was Lisa's turn. She arrived from Lafayette with cash and an extraction team to remove the now complete Victorian Mansion package, as advertised on Craigslist, only with a queen-sized headboard and footboard. Perfect.
She was giddy as she anxiously watched her sons and a girlfriend load and wrap everything and lug everything out the door. Well, not everything. Not long after the trailer/pickup combination wheeled out of Abbey Point stuffed with Victorian furniture, Stan discovered the hardware for the mirror forgotten in the bedroom.
Thanks to cell phones, Lisa's driver made a U-turn, retrieved the parts and got back on 169 with the treasures.
Lisa could now contemplate her next problem: How to ascend her stairway and turn the tight corner with all that furniture. Her anxiety wasn't over just yet.
Maybe she could call Pastor Brenda for some counseling.
Got 'er done! Everybody's happy.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Retirement, Lorlee

Today is Lorlee's last day of work at the law firm in Dallas, Texas. We doubt there will be much business done today. Congratulations! Just in time for spring planting!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

She's still our Valentine

Back in the 50s in our one-room country school, Valentine's Day rules were simple: Everyone gave everyone else a valentine. No favorites, no omissions, no exceptions. Anyone skipping a classmate would be shamed. The only discretion you had with your dime store Valentines was to reserve the nicest ones for the nicest classmates when you were licking your envelopes for the Big Event.

So every Valentine's Day school work stopped long enough for our exchange. If there were 20 students that year, 400 valentines would be exchanged. 
It was a pile of mail. I supposed most of us pitched the cards in a month or so. Most of us.
Not Lorlee Bartos. She saves stuff like this. Here's the proof. Recently she sent us photos of the valentines that Stan and Solveig gave her about 1955. Here they are. 
She didn't send us the originals, of course. She's saving those.
Happy Valentine's Day, Lorlee!

Oak Grove Country School.
Before they added the fire escape door in the rear.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mom got hers, Did you get your valentine?

The Fifth and Sixth Grade at Shalom Lutheran in Alexandria remembered Mom for Valentine's Day with this cheerful handmade greeting. Mom, 92, was a founder and leader in the church and is remembered often by its parishioners, despite moving to the Twin Cities.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nephew scores movie track

Our nephew, Steve Letnes, has written and performed the soundtrack for an upcoming Christmas movie called "Santa's Boot Camp." Today this trailer was loaded on YouTube. If all goes well, next December we hope to be able to go to a local theater, buy a box of popcorn, and proudly watch for Steve's name in the credits.
Take a look at this clip, ignore all the juvenile voices, and focus on the background music: It's pure Letnes.
 Way to go, Steve!
Here's a synopsis of the plot:
Willy Wonka meets "It's a Wonderful Life". When kids become so bratty and self-centered that Santa's elves go on strike, Santa, in desperation, must bring six unscrupulous youths to his boot camp to help save Christmas.
Steve with parents, Linda (Stan's sister) and Ron

Skip the fall, keep the scooter, Greg advises

Our neighbors, Greg and Phyllis, spend winters near Phoenix, usually golfing and running around in the sun. Their plans were altered somewhat, however, when Greg took a tumble shortly after they returned from their Christmas break in Minnesota. We checked up on Greg today, and here's his cheery response from Arizona:

Hi Stan and neighbors,
Greg grilled salmon for
the neighbors

Thanks for asking about us (Greg).
Yes, I suffered a nasty fall down a steep hill while volunteering at the Waste Management/Phoenix Open two weeks ago. This has resulted in surgery at Mayo to include plates, screws, casts and two months of no weight on the leg. However, I do have a nifty bright red scooter to get around on. If interested, get the scooter but skip the ankle break part. 
Two weeks after the surgery I lose the post-surgical cast (huge and heavy, although purple) and get a fiberglass cast for 6-8 weeks. Then, hopefully, by the time we make our return to Minnesota, I will be in a walking boot for ?? weeks/months.
We keep up to date on your weather daily. Not as bad as getting around on a red scooter, but bad enough. We hope the weather improves and that you are all happy and healthy despite it.
See you all in May.

Greg & Phyllis

Some days are just better than others. . .

Stan took his dirty, winter-worn car to the Ford shop for its 10,000-mile service check today. Free oil change, tire rotation and complimentary upgrade to the computer. Be sure to top off the very essential windshield washer fluid.
"Can I get my car washed too?" Stan asked. "It's really a pig and it looks like we may have a day or two of warmth without snow."
"We're sorry," the man said. "Our free car wash is broken down. But if you want to leave the car with us we could take it into the detail shop and hand-wash it for you at no charge this time because our drive-thru is out of order."
"Gee," Stan said. "That would be very nice. It's hard to get some of the dirt off in those automatic washes. And a little wax would be just the ticket. I will call my wife and see if she can pick me up so you can have the car for the day and take the time you need to do a good job."
"That's not necessary," the man said. "We have a complimentary shuttle service. Steve will drive you home. He'll come and pick you up when we're all finished."
Some days are just so much better than others.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kenneth Haugen 1943-2013

Kenneth Haugen, the husband of our late cousin, Louise, passed away last week of heart failure. Harold Rolfsrud relayed the sad news about his brother-in-law from western North Dakota. Ken will be buried today in Alexander, alongside his dear wife.
Here's the obituary from the Fargo Forum.

Kenneth Haugen, 69, of Alexander, ND passed away Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at Essentia Health Center in Fargo, ND. Funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM, Monday, February 11, 2013 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Alexander. Pastor Mark Kindem will officiate and interment will be held at the Alexander Cemetery. Friends may share memories and condolences with the family at

Ken was born March 5th, 1943 in Williston to Orville and Dorothy Haugen. He grew up on the family farm south of Alexander and graduated from Alexander High School in 1961. He then attended NDSCS, Wahpeton, for two years and graduated with a Diesel Mechanics degree in 1963. He was also a member of the ND National Guard during this time. He married Louise Rolfsrud on June 12, 1964 in Watford City and they made their home in Fargo for five years where Ken worked for Butler Machinery. In 1969, they moved to the Haugen family farm near Alexander so Ken could continue the farming operation for his Dad. After 42 wonderful years of marriage, Louise passed away in 2006.

Ken farmed for 44 years, just recently making the decision to retire. He loved farming, but harvest was by far his favorite and you could find him in the combine every fall, happy to be doing what he loved.

Ken loved to travel, especially to warm places in the winter. He took his entire family on a trip to Turks and Caicos last winter and it will be a trip they will cherish forever. Ken was a long-time member of Highland Lutheran and Trinity Lutheran churches. He also participated in several pinochle clubs and the Alexander Lions Club. He really enjoyed the time spent with friends and family. He adored his children and grandchildren and loved cheering them on at their events.

He is survived by his three daughters, Deanne (Jeff) Dostal, Fargo, Melissa (Glenn) Grommesh, Casselton, Michele (Adam) Lovehaug, Fargo; seven grandchildren, Kayla and Brett Dostal, Gabrielle, Sydney and Kylie Grommesh, McKenna and Alexis Lovehaug; two sisters, Astrid Coats, Vancouver, WA, Susan (Russ) Schumacher, Drayton, ND; one brother, Dan Haugen, Pembina, ND; special friend, Paulette Iverson, Billings, MT; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife; and his brother-in-law, Keith Coats.

The Haugen family would prefer that memorial contributions be made to the Lewis & Clark Trail Museum, or to the Alexander First Responders, c/o the City of Alexander, PO Box 366, Alexander, ND 58831.

Ken Haugen, surrounding by grandchildren, at his wife' s burial.
Kathleen and Stan attended Louise's funeral in 2006 and got to know Ken at that time. A kind hard-working fellow who was a good husband, father and grand dad.

To read our story about the brave little North Dakota town of Alexander, Trinity Lutheran and the life Louise and Ken shared, click here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

So long from from the astronauts at Kell. . .

Photo by Benita Kane Kirschbaum
Minnesota's legendary winter dished out its toughest on Sosie's last day here. Her flight leaves for California at 9 tonight, but Minnesota didn't want her to forget us so it offered a buffet of wind, snow, rain, sleet and ice, with temperatures moving from freezing to melting, all on her last day. Sosie had another overnight with Mom and this afternoon Stan joined them for an extended visit and then a trip to the airport. Benita, who took this darling photo above, joined in the fun as we watched old family movies and listened to Mom sing our favorite sacred music. Later, Benita and Mom were busy planning another trip to the Moon, a favorite joke they share, and they decided Sosie could join them this time, along with Birdie. Stan was not invited. He was to be left behind to report the details of the excursion to you on this blog. So standby for your lunar report.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Party tonight!

Heidi with her Mom and Emily.
Somewhere in Durango, Colorado, there will be a celebration tonight for Heidi King, 38, Kathleen's niece, her sister Mary Lou's daughter. She's a hospital administrator, married to Sam, with two big Alaskan sled dogs, Rhett and Scarlet, at hand.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Just use your imagination

Mom, Jennifer and Aunt Sosie in what will be an open space between
the kitchen and living area.
Jennifer hosted three visitors to her Dundas digs yesterday, giving everyone a look at the guts of the project that one day will transform this fixer-upper into a cozy home in a small town. The four adjourned to the nearby L&M bar for burgers and entertainment, but alas, Bingo Night has been moved to Fridays.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Musical reunion

Morning callers to Mom's place in Bloomington were Murrae and Helen Freng, longtime family friends. Beverly trained many of the soloists performing in Mr. Freng's Alexandria choirs during the 50s and early 60s and a great friendship was formed. Mr. Freng became the head of the Minnesota State High School League and they lived in south Minneapolis, but upon his retirement they returned to a lake home in Alexandria for a time. They're now living in Plymouth, nearer to family and within easy driving distance of Mom's Kell Avenue home.
We enjoyed sharing stories and remembrances of friends and musical experiences and the time flew. After a cup of coffee, it was time to go, the Frengs were meeting more friends for lunch at Southdale. They'll be back again, they promised, as they made their way out into the new-fallen snow.
Here's a link to a YouTube video that tells some of Mr. Freng's life story in his own words.

Greek yogurt with Lake Andrew syrup

Alexandria's finest maple syrup from our Lake Andrew homestead sweetened Sosie's breakfast this morning, fueling her for an exciting morning visit to Kell Avenue, where we will meet up with our high school choir director, Murrae Freng, 88, and his wife, Helen. They are Mom's old friends and we look forward to the reunion and the story telling. Mom and the Frengs were founders of Shalom Lutheran in Alexandria, a church that continues to flourish long after they've all moved on to their new homes in the Twin Cities.
Today's mail included best wishes addressed to Mom from the children at the Sunday School.

Monday, February 04, 2013

A quick trip to Maple Grove

 Continuing the story of Sosie's Adventures in the Northland, we find her tonight at Houlihan's in Maple Grove at the February meeting of the Alexandria Class of 1965 Wallweeds.

Red-eyed but bushy-tailed

Photo (and Mom's hair) by Jill Littlefield
Sosie's here from California for an extended series of visits with Mom this coming week. Due in at 5:15 this morning, she arrived five hours late, which meant that her hosts got their full night of sleep and also proving that Sun Country is a lot like Minnesota weather, you never know what you can count on to happen next.
Mom was delighted to see her and promised to get lots of sleep so she can be part of a busy week of plans. One highlight will be a visit Wednesday from Murrae and Helen Freng, Mom's music friends from Alexandria, now retired in Plymouth.
Mr. Freng left a position as the Alexandria choral director in 1965 to become the head of the Minnesota State High School League. We used to enjoy watching him hand out trophies at the televised State High School basketball championships.
Stan had volunteered to pick up the Frengs to bring them from Plymouth to Mom's place. Not necessary. Mr. Freng, 88, will drive.
"Can you find the place alright?" Stan asked helpfully during a recent phone call.
"Yes, I think so, shouldn't be a problem," he said. "I see it is just off Normandale. I am looking at my Google Map here."

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Old Snaggletooth drops by

We've lost track, it's just a mess. There's loose ones, missing ones and  a couple new ones trying to elbow in. Emmy K. came to play today and we built some marble slides, a puzzle, a log home with addition and deck, and drank hot chocolate Peppermint Pattis. Then it was time for Grandma to drive her home. Emmy napped all the way. Meanwhile, Grandpa got his nap too.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Bird dog

Birdie will be four on Super Bowl Sunday this year so St. Paul Katie let her make the Super Bowl pick. She likes the Ravens. So do we, by three.