Sunday, March 31, 2013

On time for Easter dinner. . .

Becky and Al's back yard was too warm and sunny for afternoon activity.
A cooling breeze kept the house perfect.
She's from the
"Show Me" State.
A new bar of Irish Spring and hot shower in an immaculate re-done bathroom was the perfect ending to an epic odyssey yesterday and today from Minnesota to Venice, Florida, for Easter Dinner with Becky and Al.
Exactly 1666 miles later, Stan is here for dinner. So are Virg and Gayle, visiting from Ft. Myers.
It took 24 hours of driving and 6 hours of sleep to get here in one bite. . .plus stops for miscellaneous. . . (Stan didn't opt for a diaper to buy some extra time) Smooth sailing until monsoon rains and construction projects hit in Kentucky and continued through Georgia. Stan napped on top of the old Smokey Mountains beyond Nashville. Hell, it could have been the original Old Smokey Rest Stop, we don't know. In the opposite lane going up the mountains, hordes of spring breakers were returning home to classes.
Today it is 81 degrees and sunny.
Stan's here for a week of fun in the sun and visiting. Getting started right now.
Happy Easter!

We sang table grace, then enjoyed Easter dinner. Becky and Al
are taking Virg and Gayle for a tour of Venice. Stan is napping.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

At the Gateway

Progress report. . . The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Mo.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Surprise party for Marcia

The birthday girl took time out to autograph Kathleen's cast, as
Mother looked on approvingly.
Lunch was followed with a
couple of these brightly
frosted cakes
She thought she was going out to pick up some groceries, but Marcia, the fantastic cook at Mom's Kell Avenue residence, wasn't going to be making any lunch today. No, while she was out on a bogus errand, Jill and her confederates set up some drinks, cole slaw, vegetarian lasagna (it is Good Friday, ya know), and a big tray of fried chicken -- to be followed by frosted cake and cupcakes. When Marcia returned, the first of about 30 guests greeted her with good wishes for her birthday, and gratitude for all she does for the loved ones. The deception was largely managed by staff leader Jill, but resident Benita helped out with a very convincing fib about all the flowers that had mysteriously appeared early on at the house.
What's Going on Here?
A stunned Marcia returns from an errand to find a houseful, and a
streetful of cars. Above, Benita's sister, Carol, helped Marcia with her coat.
Obscured in the foreground is Jill, who has vowed to never appear on this blog.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Flight plan

Road trip. Depart 5 a.m. Saturday. Easter in Venice. Sun in Ft. Myers.
Forecast for Minnesota Twins Opener? High of 33 degrees. Enough said.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kathleen got plastered

It took four days and then just five minutes to get the cast applied, but now Kathleen's wrist is completely immobilized, no longer merely shackled by the looser velcro splint. It's better this way, the doctor sez, because there's no danger of accidentally bumping and opening the green stick fracture. So there's some more daily adjustments to be made (she can still drive) and further consequences to be paid for the unfortunate Sunday morning slip and fall on the icy patch guarding the newspaper box.
Kathleen's wasn't actually plastered, they quit using plaster of paris, opting now for a rock hard fiberglas and adhesive kit. She'll be wearing it for four weeks... including during her brother Danny's upcoming April 11 hip surgery.
It's a drag, to be sure, but Kathleen feels lucky when compared to two unfortunate sisters-in-law who suffered far worse wrist mishaps -- involving the misery of screws and pins. And that's not to mention another sister-in-law who is still walking in a boot, now that the cast has been removed from her ankle.
Kathleen got a break, a good one, it turns out.
Pass the Advil, dear.

Vanity in the Master

The cabinet elves in Alexandria are busy planning our master bathroom redo, here's the latest PDF iteration sent our way. Almost there. We were thinking of a painted finish, but will stick with a medium stain. The Funky Fairfax single lever brushed nickel faucets aren't shown here. We've got time. . . which is what this is going to take.

A "green stick" fracture

As anyone can plainly see (j.k.), Kathleen has a small hair-line break in her wrist, called a green stick fracture, the result of a slip and fall on the ice Sunday. A green stick fracture, the doc says, is like a living tree branch that isn't quite snapped off yet, but would break if it got conked again. So the best idea is to immobilize it completely for a couple of weeks with an old fashioned plaster of paris cast that will prevent Kathleen from disrupting the healing process.

Yesterday we set about to do just that, but unfortunately, when we went into the clinic cast room, the cupboard was bare: no fiberglas tape to build the mold. So everyone was embarrassed and we drove home yet again, hoping to return today when all is in readiness.
Meanwhile, Kathleen is treating herself to a pedicure, while Stan waits on standby for the casting call. The patient is grateful for the outpouring of sympathy directed her way, and assures everyone that she's fine. . . and very lucky.
(Hmm. Lucky. Maybe a trip to the casino? You only need one hand for blackjack. Might as well, can't do much else.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Upon further review. . .

It's a small fracture. Cast goes on in Excelsior today at 5 p.m.

A winter storm named Virgil

Spring was but a daydream for many Americans Monday as yet another winter storm, dubbed Virgil by the Weather Channel, traveled into the mid-Atlantic after dumping heavy snow from Denver to Indianapolis over the weekend.
(Not affected by storm
of same name.)

Along the I-95 corridor, slushy accumulations glazed roads from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia. Most states from Kentucky to New York can expect a mix of snow, slush and rain to linger through Tuesday morning.

Though Virgil has been tame compared to its predecessors this season, it has caused numerous delays and cancellations to mount at U.S. airports.
---- International Business Times

(Stan's sister Becky, not his brother, Virgil, brought this winter storm to our attention. A word of caution. Though not expected to blow hard, observers say this storm could be more tenacious than expected.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

But she can still cook. . .

We're not happy. Could have been worse though.
X-rays were inconclusive, we're waiting on the radiologist's opinion, but it appears that Katie will get by with just a painful sprain from her Sunday morning tumble. She slipped backward on an icy patch, falling in a seated position. Her attempt to break the fall with her left wrist resulted in a sprain, strain or hair-line fracture.
Dr. Beth Kennedy looked it over today, recommended tylenol and ice, and had her fitted for this brace. Should be a couple of weeks of recovery, she predicted. Kathleen can drive and cook, but she can't open a bottle or. . . hook the double eyelets on her bra strap. In that regard, Stan took the opportunity to brag to the doctor that, based on this morning's experience, he's still got the old magic touch.

Wistfully watching the Florida sunshine

Looks like Tiger has it well in hand with a series of birdies this morning,
but that didn't keep him from using naughty words today when his
drive landed in a tough position. He was punished with a bogie.
It is fun watching the Arnold Palmer Invitational from Orlando today. The event was rescheduled because of Sunday's rain and storm. Our vacationers are still in Orlando, just miles away, and will be departing later. We're observing their 61 and sunny weather and imagining their departure as we sit up here in icy Minnesota. Yesterday Katie took a spill on a slippery patch and injured her left wrist. We'll be visiting Doc Kennedy in a couple of hours. She slept well last night, despite having the wrist in a splint. (Just Advil. Her leftovers from knee surgery remain untapped.)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Goodbye beach! Home tomorrow!

Emily and her party will return from Florida to the Twin Cities tomorrow night with plenty of stories to tell. We can't wait to have them back and hear them all.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday visitors to the sound studio

Young Jonas and Ian (ages 4 and 6) scouted Steve's really cool Chicago Lofts Sound Studio, part of a big Saturday with Dad that included a tour of a train roundhouse on Jackson St. in St. Paul. The boys are Matt's sons. Matt (wearing the Cobber cap, above) attended Concordia College in Moorhead with Steve and remains a good friend. He intends to teach Steve how to bake sourdough bread. We'll see how that goes. Lessons began tonight. Matt will provide Steve with some of his "sourdough starter."
Should be just the thing to class up Danny's Tenth Floor Bakery.

Congratulations Lynn and Briggs!

We watched Lynn and Briggs marry in Las Vegas today via streaming video. What fun! Dinner for the newlyweds tonight then on to New Zealand for a "Rings" honeymoon.
Best from All of Us.

If you missed the wedding, you can watch a replay (it's about 8 minutes) by clicking here.
Briggs is Steve and Nancy Rolfsrud's second child. To read all about the new couple, check out the  Briggs & Lynn blog, below right.

Meanwhile, watching the wedding in Blaine were two little girls, let's call them second cousins? Not sure, but they are Linda and Ron's grandchildren, Erik and Shana's children, Anja and Milla. They  enjoyed watching the nuptials very much, Grandma, who took this photo, reports.

Don't forget the wedding!

Briggs and Lynn get married on line in an hour and a half. Be there or be square. Click here.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I'm ready for my towel now. . .

The condo lifestyle has improved markedly at Danny's Midtown Loft and Bakery, now that Stan's nephew Steve has taken up permanent residency. Consider this morning, for instance. After preparing Dan's hot foot soak with Epsom Salts, Steve worked his magic French Press system, and poured Dan a nice steaming cup of fresh coffee.
Yes, this is better. :)
But seriously, Dan did get some very good news today. After many years of limping and pain, renown orthopedic specialist Dr. Tuttle has approved Dan's recent request for a new hip. The surgery will take place at the adjacent Abbott/Northwestern Ortho Center. Scheduling and schooling will begin soon. Keep your fingers crossed. It's a happy day for all of us.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Claiming the Bakken Shale. . .

The original 1906 photo is very hard to distinguish. We took a
picture of it and then enhanced and tweaked the digital image. Now you
can see a woman (Stan's grandma Rebecca?) standing outside
the shack as well as men (grandpa?) on horseback. Even closer
inspection reveals aunts and uncles? Click to enlarge for
even more detail that was obscured in the original.
When it is too cold to do much else, it doesn't hurt to try to straighten out some boxes in the basement storage. Invariably you don't get much done because you keep coming up with stuff like this that makes you stop and wonder. This picture was just one blur, but technology makes it possible to tease out details. This is the homestead Stan's grandparents claimed. It is located near Keene, North Dakota, where the oil boom is now in full tilt. The shack would be a step up from sod huts and the people in the photo were quite proud of it, we're sure. Two children, probably Uncle Halvor and Aunt Rena, are peeking around the corner of their prairie home. (Their brother Erling wasn't born until 1912.) They've carefully posed this panoramic shot. This image has been cropped from the larger original, which shows even more of the wide open landscape, the land where these hardy forefathers courageously settled.
Stan's late father mailed this note and photo to him a couple years before he died in 1994.

Of course they're safe. . .

They're up in a tree house! And that's a Minneapolis Police Officer with them.
Here's the latest dispatch from the Magic Kingdom, high up in the Swiss Family Treehouse.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Message from the Magic Kingdom

It's not a real clear photo, but it was exciting to get it anyway. Emily and her mother are in the Magic Kingdom at Disneyland today and here's the proof they sent from a balcony just down from Fantasyland.
Making memories for sure.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Miracle on Harriet

The Guthrie Theatre's Endless Bridge provides a great
spot to enjoy Old Man River in Minneapolis. That's

Umesh in the foreground. Click to enlarge.
 He's a world traveler from the other side of the earth, this 35-year-old Indian in town for a month to train newspaper employees. When asked what he'd like to see while he was in Minnesota, he knew one thing for sure: The Mississippi River.
So off we went to the very best vantage point to view this world famous feature: the Endless Bridge at the Guthrie Theatre.
Umesh was suitably impressed, he enjoyed the river, the Minneapolis skyline, hearing the flour-milling history, and looking down on the doomed metrodome, which looks like an over-puffed out-dated Pillsbury item. He toured the Midtown Global Market, of course, where we split a basket of french fries, and looked over all the ethnic offerings there, but failed to locate any authentic curry dishes.
Umesh probably won't return to start an Indian cuisine restaurant there, however. He's already the proprietor of the Blue Sea Beach Resort on the Arabian Sea, just south of Bombay, India, so he's got his hands full. (Click here and you can see his web site.)
It would be a shame for Umesh to leave the City of Lakes without driving around Lakes Calhoun and Harriet, so we headed over there on our way back to Shakopee. Joggers and walkers were going about their business as we cruised along.
Lake Harriet Band Shell
Suddenly, Umesh sat bolt upright in the passenger seat. "There are people walking out there," he said. "Yes," Stan responded, "they're just getting some exercise."
"No!" the stunned East Indian exclaimed. "THEY ARE WALKING ON THE WATER!"
Stan pulled the car over immediately, laughing all the way to the curb. Sure enough. Umesh had never seen much snow before and he was just getting used to seeing it everywhere. But this was something else. A couple of fishermen were out on the ice with buckets and lines. You'd think it was Jesus Christ himself out there to see Umesh bound from the car to cross the street and photograph this miracle.
Too bad it's not February. We could have taken him for a drive on Lake O'Dowd to visit a village of ice houses. That would have really blown him away.

We're going to DisneyWorld!

Somewhere over Illinois. FlightAware image
On a cold blizzardy day in March, there's nothing better to do than make a peanut butter sandwich, tune in an episode of "Income Property" on HGTV, and monitor the progress of your daughter and grandchild winging their way to Orlando for an exciting week in the sun.
Stan picked up the travelers right on schedule at their Eden Prairie home this morning and loaded: 2 normal suitcases, 1 large suitcase, 1 extra-large suitcase and 2 carry-on bags for a grand total of six travel cases. Kathleen and Stan tend to overpack when they travel, but this is overpacking on steroids, a steamer trunk would have been more convenient. The queen's entourage moves with less.
But you know, girls just got to have fun and look their best while doing it.
So Grandpa just kept loading -- and did his very best to keep his big mouth shut.

Monday, March 18, 2013

We're packing for Florida

The skirt detaches when you're ready
to get wet!
Spring blizzards are howling outside, but inside we're packing for Florida. Emily and her Mom are heading south tomorrow, catching a flight for a week at DisneyWorld and surrounding area. Naturally Grandma and Grandpa had to participate in the excitement and so contributed a swim suit (above) and an outfit for the big expedition. Here they are on our soon (May 1) to be seven: So big!

Your hearing appears to be fine, Umesh. . .

Now let's check your vision.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Was it Luck of the Irish or the Hindu blessing? We'll take it.

The Honorary Irish with their St. Patrick's Day host.
Umesh, left, and Hai with St. Paul Katie
We're not sure if it's just the Luck-O-the-Irish, or perhaps the Hindu blessing exchanged this morning with our breakfast guest from India, but Kathleen scored a cool $100 at the Canterbury Park blackjack tables after a mere hour of play this afternoon.
Umesh Kunte joined Hai Dang at 10 a.m. here for waffles. Umesh is in town for a month training newspaper employees and staying at the Hampton Inn. . . without a car. A month in Shakopee without a car??? Uff Da. You can only watch so many movies and skype your family on the other side of the world so often (he's got a 7 year old who's a lot like our Emily) before weekends get to be a crushing bore.
We invited him over for a change of pace and the usual waffle/fruit treatment. When Stan and Umesh departed to tour the City of Lakes, Umesh insisted on exchanging a customary parting with his host: He bent down and touched her feet while she touched his head in this traditional goodbye ritual and blessing.
A few hours later, our Irish Katie was taking home her winnings.
When he came to our door this morning, Umesh had a deep-seated fear of
dogs. Whatever his reasons (he'd been bitten a couple of times)
Birdie would have none of it and eventually broke down our
patient guest. They're buds now.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Making music in Midtown

No, Steve, we got milk. We need cornflakes.
Our nephew Steve Letnes moved from Colorado into our Midtown condo with Kathleen's brother Dan today.
It didn't take long for Steve's road warriors (parents Ron and Stan's sister Linda) to disgorge Steve and his goods from their Prius, bid everyone adieu and head for home in Blaine. They'd been on the road for a couple of weeks and it was time for the final leg. They'll return to Lake Street tomorrow.
The Bachelors of Unit 1015
Have The Ladies of the Lofts been notified?
For his part, Steve set about to arrange his music composing studio in the new sound booth Uncle Stan has been preparing for the past month. Our former bedroom carpet now covers the former walk-in closet walls, deadening the sound, and hopefully enlivening the creative process therein. We expect nothing but genius to emanate.
But before he began unwinding and replugging his maze of wires and equipment and keyboards this afternoon, Steve reacquainted himself with the Chicago Lofts amenities, checking out the exercise center, party penthouse and the private media room, and then wandered through the Midtown Exchange Global Market, where hosts Dan and Stan pointed out their favorite eateries. They inspected the dairy case, squeezed the fruits in the grocery market and walked past the butcher shop. Steve was pleased to learn that the organic grocer carried a fair representation of that most nutritious food group, Beef Jerky.
Yes, we have no bananas.
Brother Dan, (aka "Thumper" for the tell-tale sound his cane makes as he approaches No. 1015) kept up the pace reasonably well, but was plenty tuckered by the time the tour had returned to home plate for pizza.
Dan has an appointment Friday with a hip specialist just down the skyway at the adjacent Abbott Hospital. We hope he'll have his new joint soon and be swinging for the fences in July.
It's time, and the Minnesota Twins could use the help.
In an obvious takeover bid to the "Upper Crust," Danny's popular Tenth
Floor Bakery, Midtown Steve offered a doughy pepperoni pizza treat tonight.

At last, something to count on

Ultimate working lunch.
We were disappointed to see the vacant chair when we dropped by for a visit Thursday. But closer inspection revealed signs of life at the Shakopee Valley News editor's desk. A pair of cheaters lay atop a newspaper, opened to page four; a micro-wave dinner was half-eaten, its plastic spoon set in the left-hander's position; the computer monitor hadn't yet gone to a screen saver. We could read the forensics alright: the grizzled veteran from the Iron Range wasn't far from his post.
Otherwise, the cluttered office and desk looked exactly as it did when we parted company with Pat in 2008. He'd already been the editor of the paper for a couple of decades by then, and a good one too.
In an era of radical changes, especially in the newspaper industry, it's always a comfort to see some stability personified.
Lunch with Dad amongst the papers.
When Pat Minelli finally returned to his desk Thursday, it would have been disappointing to see him wearing a new shirt. He wasn't. He took his place amongst piles of newspapers and documents that appeared to be the same ones that needed a file years ago. A black and white photo of his infant daughter, now soon to be married, lay in the in-box. The ancient chipped "Shakopee" brick paperweight, if that is what it is, held its ground, unmoved, on the edge of the laminated desk, as it always has. If you wanted to sit down, you'd have to make your own space, the guest chair is occupied with other business.
It was all reassuring, all the same, including Pat's smile and his repeated claim that he's keeping up with the times. In truth, he has. When we hired him back in 1987 we used typewriters, wax and knives to produce a newspaper. These days Pat posts breaking news from his bedside as needed, and plans his pages on computer monitors.
But throughout the radical changes engulfing the industry, (and ever more so now), the eye in the tornado has remained calm, unmoved. It's all good and comforting, gives you something to hang on to.
Even if the polar ice caps melt, Catholic priests marry, and the North Koreans bomb us, no worries. The editor's office at the Shakopee Valley News won't change. We like that.
Somewhere in there is next week's newspaper.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thanks, Laurie

Jennifer dropped by this afternoon to greet her parents.. . and claim the big box of dishes handed down by old family friend Laurie Hartmann. These dishes were Laurie's first; they'll do nicely now for Jen's housekeeping. The fact that Jen's outfit coordinates with the dishes. . . is pure coincidence.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A simple meal

To honor our new pope, we chose the Spanish Rice, no beans, to side with our entrees today at our all-time favorite Mexican Restaurant in Shakopee. Kathleen braced the afternoon repast with a perky Pina Colada, Stan ordered the honey-glazed fried ice cream as a healing antidote to his spicy combination plate.
Earlier, we had dropped Danny off at Mystic Lake casino so he could jump on the "Losers Bus" for a free ride back to Minneapolis after his Shakopee foot doctor appointment. Then we prudently paused at the Little Six casino to cash in a $5 come-on-in coupon that had been mailed to us. The cash, together with a $4 Pablo's coupon, put a big dent in today's tab, and our Cub Rewards Card reduced our Holiday gas fill by 25 cents a gallon.
From what we have been given to understand, we believe the pope would approve of these simple, frugal ways. Are we just being cheap? Not at all. We're being saintly.
Pina Colada
3 oz light rum
3 tbsp coconut cream
3 tbspcrushed pineapples

Put all ingredients into an electric blender with 2 cups of crushed ice. Blend at a high speed for a short length of time. Strain into a collins glass and serve with a straw.

Read more: Pina Colada recipe

Breaking News: Cable guy on time

Like most Americans, we love our cable tv and internet, hate the cable company. So when the cable guy shows up on time, does what he's supposed to do, even if he's guarded and not particularly cheerful, we must take note.
Brother Danny's tenth floor Lake Street condo (You may know it as The Upper Crust bakery) now has internet installed in the walk-in closet, awaiting his new roommate scheduled to arrive this weekend. Not only that, our bedroom carpet has been applied to the closet walls making it absolutely dead in there, and perfect for composing/listening to music, if that's what you do. There's a shelving system in there now and an adjustable bench for a piano keyboard. Our old seven-foot tall bathroom linen closet has been moved to the condo and will serve as a wardrobe, now that the closet has been totally repurposed.
We're making music.
More to come.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mina!

It's Mina Daly's birthday today. Where is she in the photo above? That's her in the back row, sixth from left, in the neighborhood houseful. Happy, happy, Mina.