Wednesday, July 31, 2013

His roots were in McKenzie County, North Dakota

Watford City, North Dakota will celebrate its centennial next year and the committee wants help. They're putting together a book and web site with biographies of its original families, pioneers all. Our father was born there, so we were asked to write something about him. Stan's sister Sosie took up the project and here it is, ready for publishing. She did a very nice job on this. It honors our father.

Erling Nicolai Rolfsrud

Erling was born September 3, 1912, on a farm near Keene, North Dakota to Nils Halvorson Rolfsrud and Rebekka Johanna Heide Rolfsrud. He was baptized at their farm home by Reverend I. J. Buckneberg, who would appear decades later in two of Erling's books, Extraordinary North Dakotans and Notable North Dakotans.

On Tuesday, July 29, 1913, Erling went with his older brother Halvor and sisters Rena and Agnes to Norway. Per the McKenzie County Farmer, “They expected to sail from New York on Tuesday, August 5 on the Kristianiafjord, arriving at Bergen about eight days later. From Bergen they will travel by rail to their destination.” Erling learned to walk in Norway. The family returned to America in 1914.

When Erling was 7, his father Nils died on July 5, 1920. Erling remembered little of his father, but admired him as gentle with animals and thus able to harness horses that others could not. Erling loved the little wooden rocking horse that Nils bought for him and rocked it all about the first floor of the Rolfsrud Hotel.
Erling with his older sisters outside the Rolfsrud
Restaurant and Lodging House.
After graduating from Watford City high school in 1930, Erling took his training at the Minot State Teachers College rural teachers’ session and then taught rural school for three years in McKenzie County. He sold his first children's story while teaching at Rocky Glen School.

His mother Rikka rejoiced when Erling went off to Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, for it had been her dream that one of her children would attend that college. He graduated with a BA degree in June 1936, with a major in English and minors in history and Norse literature. He completed additional coursework at various colleges, taught in secondary schools, and then headed the department of business education at Concordia College for five years.

Erling married Beverly Brown September 6, 1941, in Washburn, North Dakota. They lived in Moorhead, Deerwood, Alexandria, and Farwell Minnesota. Daughters Becky and Linda were born in Moorhead, Stan, Solveig, and Stephen were born in Deerwood, and Virgil was born in Alexandria.

While his vocation was writing books about North Dakota, his working years included teaching English in Alexandria for 18 years, church organist for more than 40 years, lyceum lecturer, writing and teaching the 1966 Red River Land series for television, and accompanying his wife Beverly on concert tours. October 12, 1989, Erling was inducted into the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame at the Norsk Hostfest in Minot in recognition of his achievements as an author.

By age 78, Erling had published 27 boooks; 15 of them were about North Dakota. A couple years later, he reflected on his life. "I've been a teacher, an organist, and a writer. And I must say it has been the writing that has enriched my life more than the other two."

After a courageous and lengthy bout with cancer, Erling died on Sunday evening, August 21, 1994.

Books by Erling Rolfsrud:
Lanterns over the Prairies (1949)
Lanterns over the Prairies, Book Two (1950)
Church Etiquette for the Layman (1950)
Gopher Tails for Papa (1951)
White Angakok (1952)
Brother to the Eagle (1952)
The Borrowed Sister ((1953)
Extraordinary North Dakotans (1954)
Boy from Johnny Butte (1956)
Creative Writing (1956)
Happy Acres (1956)
Family on Maple Street (1958)
Ephphatha Missions History (1959)
One to One (1961)
The Story of North Dakota (1963)
Cobber Chronicle (1966)
The Story of Red River Land (1967)
Red River Land Teacher's Guide (1967)
Great Stories for Children (co-author, 1971)
Indians of the Upper Midwest (1971)
The Tiger-Lily Years (1975)
Stone Johnny School (1983)
Cutbank Girl (1985)
Scandinavian Moses (1986)
Notable North Dakotans (1987)
With the Wind at My Back (1988)
Flickertail Stories (1989)
Story of the Peace Garden State (1990)
Girl of the Tumbleweeds (1991)
Petticoat Pioneer (1993)
Close the Door Gently (posthumously 1995, co-author Rebecca Rolfsrud Jerdee)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

From Montreal

Stan's sister Linda and her husband Ron are enjoying botanical gardens in Montreal. The garden features plants in a variety of sculpted shapes. These colorful tresses grace a massive female figure.

Exploring other opportunities. . .

Stan writes: Mark claims it was my partner, Gary Welch, who actually hired him. Gary and I both interviewed Mark at The Statesman Restaurant in the Hazeltine Gates building over lunch one day back in 1979. We were looking for a reporter for our Eden Prairie News. Tom Bartel had left us to start "Sweet Potato," which eventually became the popular Twin Cities weekly "City Pages." Mark says I choked on my Beef Commercial when I heard what his salary requirements were, but then Gary intervened and said it would be no problem. Maybe that's what happened, but I just don't remember it that way. I remember it as being one of the best hires I have ever made and of course the dear, late Mr. Welch can't dispute that.
Mark will leave the newspaper company tomorrow, and he left behind this classy note for the folks in Eden Prairie. See if you don't agree that Gary and I did some excellent work that day. 

By Mark A. Weber 
It’s been a great run, Eden Prairie. But it’s over.

After more than 34 years as a reporter, editor or publisher of the Eden Prairie News, I will be saying goodbye to the EP News and its parent company, Southwest Newspapers, on July 31. As they euphemistically say in the business world, I am exploring other opportunities.
Mark's original column header. It pre-dates the
high-end digital graphics now in use.

But I can’t leave without thanking the thousands of Eden Prairie residents who invited me into their homes over the years by reading the Eden Prairie News. Since cobbling together my first story in June 1979 – about the end of year-round school in Eden Prairie – I have connected with many, many residents and I can say with confidence that all but a handful were truly super people.

That’s the funny thing about Eden Prairie, in my view. The widely accepted perception is that EP is affluent and arrogant. But after working with so many people here, I’d say the more accurate picture of EP residents is intelligent, thoughtful, caring. But, hey, I’ve lived here the past 29 years, so I’m probably biased in my assessment.

So, thank you for taking care of your neighbors, Eden Prairie. Keep it up.

And thanks also for supporting this little news organization of ours. The EP News staff – Karla, Dan, Patty, Jeanne, Veronica, and dozens of others who have supportive roles – are folks who have a genuine affection for Eden Prairie. I challenge you to find that in any other organization that reports news here.

I have been connected with the Eden Prairie News for nearly 60 percent of my life. During that time I have floated above EP in a hot-air balloon, and floated on historically high Minnesota River flood waters. I have written about Olympians and business titans, and have met with governors, U.S. senators and archbishops. I have written about murder and mayhem, but also medical miracles. Mostly, I have written stories about outstanding Eden Prairie people doing outstanding things.

My sainted wife, Roma, and I will continue to live in Eden Prairie, a place we’ve come to love. Please say hello as we pass each other.

But I’ll have a new response when someone asks, “You’re that guy from the Eden Prairie News, right?”

“I used to be him,” I’ll probably reply. “And it was a blast.”

Mark A. Weber has served as publisher of the Eden Prairie News and also, for the past nine years, as general manager of its parent company, Southwest Newspapers. He has begun publishing a blog on

Monday, July 29, 2013

Last man standing. . .

Still going and going and going. . .
When Gloria took her place in the office chair in the photo below on her last day of work in 1978, she was celebrating her departure from the newspaper company after a couple of years as a sales representative. (The photo is so old Stan has a full head of hair.) Since then, everyone in the black and white photo has, one at a time, left the company. . . except one guy, the one standing there with the big grin and wide tie, smiling like he knows something. He's Bob Suel, and he's the only one in the photo who is still with the company. Congratulations to Mr. Durability, above. (The gift bottle wasn't for him -- it went to Mark, at the far right in the photo below -- who departed this week.)

Newspaper employees gathered 35 years ago to wish Gloria Mihevic adieu.

Eagle is landing at The Meadows

The summer season enhanced this sculpture greeting visitors to the Meadows Grille a few miles away from here. Stan enjoyed a lunch there today with old friends from the newspaper company.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A pandemonium of petunias

Sunday morning at Canterbury Park.

We'll do our best, Jennifer

This brave little African violet has been entrusted to our care during construction at Jennifer's in Dundas. Jennifer's grandmother and mother and perhaps her great-grandmother have a tradition of making these little guys bloom in window light, year round. But construction dust and space requirements in Dundas prompted their relocation, so this one has taken refuge next to others on Kathleen's library table.

Exposed beams

Three generations examined Jennifer's newly-exposed ceilings (above) during a quick trip to Dundas to deliver some chairs (right) to the new screen house in the backyard. The mosquitoes were so vicious last night they drove golfers away. More cool weather today. Nice.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Twine-cutting marks grand opening of new driveways

After his masterful execution of the Abbey Point driveway redo operation, Association President Bud Osmundson snipped the Grand Opening twine at exactly 9 p.m. tonight, allowing residents to garage their cars safely for the night. The repaving project came in on time and on budget. . . so much so that there was nothing in the treasury to purchase a red silk ribbon for tonight's ceremony.
Did we mention that Jeff shot a 41 at
WatersEdge today? Here he is with his much younger
sister, visiting this week from Bonita Springs, Florida.
They have a summer place in Wisconsin.
Residents appeared pleased with the results of the two-day project, and some of them gathered to enjoy an impromptu exchange on a cool Septemberish evening, so cool that mosquitoes didn't show and only a few hearties dared to wear short pants.
Bud led the parade of autos into their respective berths, closing what could be the most exciting chapter yet in the history of this young community.

There's nothing like the smell of asphalt in the morning!

Day two of the Abbey Point redo.
Asphalt goes down this morning under the watchful eyes of the Abbey Point inspection and protection team, led by Association President and Project Manager Bud O., with his fresh cup at the ready. We'll be driving on the new surface tonight, he says, but no parking on it for a week.
Thanks for all you do, Bud.
"There's nothing like the smell of asphalt in the morning," he quipped.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A dream come true for sidewalk superintendents

Excitement reached an all time high on Abbey Point this morning as millions of dollars in trucks and equipment rumbled into place, ready to strip bare the failing driveways -- known locally as The Tarmac ---- and replace them with fresh new blacktop.
Late sleepers had been warned.
Garages will be inaccessible for two days, so residents took the project manager's advice and parked down the road, at the ready to run out for a loaf of bread or some other equally important errand, but also vulnerable to errant drives from No. 14 tee. Risky, but worth it.
Daily routines have been disrupted for the entire community, but the reward will be a fresh, smooth surface, suitable for vehicular traffic . . . and hosting impromptu cocktail parties.
Note to Stan's sister Becky, editor of the Good Riddance blog, at right: All the bituminous harvested today is being recycled. Neighborhood wiremen say that older blacktop material is prized by recyclers for its enhanced oil content. Black gold, as it were.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Melissa!

Best wishes to our eldest!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Arrivals

High tech comes to washing.
You press pause, then play. Uff Da.
As usual, it's two steps forward, one step back, Murphy's Law, etc.
We took delivery on a washer and dryer this morning, a couple of nice gray front loaders on 15 inch pedestals. So far, the appliances seem to work fine, but only one of the pedestals fit.
Back to the drawing board.
Oh yes, once the new pedestal has arrived, the washer will require longer hoses to reach the spigots.
We will press on.
(The appliances are really nice, though, and it will be great to be able to dry our clothes again. The plumber hasn't arrived yet to hook up the dryer. We hope Murphy isn't riding with him.)

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Kathy Zieman, co-owner of
Simple Harvest Farm in Nerstrand.
As part of her job as a buyer for the Just Food grocery store in Northfield, our daughter Jennifer took the "Eat Local Farm Tour" this weekend, to meet some of the farmers and become familiar with the operations she does business with.
According to her text, a good time was had by all.
We suppose that getting a chance to go hands on with a goat was just a bonus.

Friday, July 19, 2013

War stories

This irreverent group gathered at Cy's in Chaska after work today to honor Mark Weber's departure from Southwest Newspapers. Stan hired Mark (seated at left) in the late 70s as a reporter. He became editor then publisher of the Eden Prairie News and ultimately served as General Manager of the newspaper company. Beer and appetizers seasoned non-stop war stories in an uproarious reminder of the good, bad and crazy times in community journalism. Times have changed, of course: Immediately after retiring in 2008, Stan's name appeared weekly on the Chaska Herald masthead as "Publisher Emeritus." Sadly, that honorific had to be scrapped, an unapologetic Bob Suel (back row, left) explained to his ex-boss, to make room for the newspaper's Twitter feed address.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

News From Far North Spirits

Solveig Gin
Bright and fresh, with the depth of an early summer rain. Invigorating citrus, with herbal and spice structure. Distilled from rye, Solveig is congenial in many cocktails, but she’s no wallflower – like all women, she’s stronger than she looks.
Solveig Gin comes from the Far North --- The Red River Valley in Minnesota. Here's more from their web site:

Far North Spirits, the northernmost distillery in the contiguous United States, sits on a working family farm just 25 miles from Canada in the northwest corner of Minnesota. Here, the rye can grow five feet high. And Scandinavian stoicism — “It’s a little chilly out there” — greets the 20 below wind-chill.

To many, this place may seem bleak and unforgiving. But to us, it's home. And, after more than 20 years in the fast lane, we returned to live a simpler life.

A life that takes its cues from nature. Plant in spring, revel in summer, harvest in fall, reflect in winter. You know, farming.

A life that lets us make something with our hands, something tangible, real and lasting.

We want to make spirits that represent the best of our selves, the best of every skill and bit of knowledge we've acquired over the years. That means not only distilling the spirit from start to finish, but also selecting the seed varieties, planting and harvesting the grains, and carefully sourcing the botanicals and spices.

The field-to-glass farming model we're using is even older than Great Grandpa Gustav, dating back to before the country's founding. Farmers found that turning crops into whiskey was an efficient way of bringing them to market. They didn't spoil and were easier to transport. Not to mention, it was a helluva lot more fun.

To Great Grandpa Gustav and his children, and his children's children, Skol! We hope to make you very proud.

Summer mail

Cousin Harold called from his brand new number in Bismarck last night, so we couldn't ID him. Picked up the phone anyway, and it was a pleasant surprise. Farm work is sort of caught up at the moment. That won't last long, of course. We talked about grandchildren. He's a great grand dad, you know. Told him it might be a while before we could claim that distinction. We hope they'll visit here soon before they get too busy again.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sock block

The little pink stocking was purchased for Emily long ago, but today it came out to help Birdie break a habit. She's been licking her left rear paw again. Now if this doesn't work. . . the dreaded cone returns.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Skeeter beater

Some day Jennifer is going to have a screen porch, but until then something just had to be done about the confounded mosquitoes. This weekend she bought a screen house and put it up in her yard. We got a call during the celebration and she said everything was up-to-date in the new little house.
Parts of Dundas took it on the chin this weekend with eight inches of rain, but Jennifer fortunately didn't receive any damage. Some neighbors got water in the basement. On the other side of the Cannon River, the railroad embankment acted as a dam and the culvert designed to relieve it was overwhelmed, creating some problems and excitement and television news coverage.
Something to chat with the neighbors about over a cold beer in your back yard screen house.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Marcelline Florence. . . Happy Birthday!

Marcy has finished a BIG project. Relax today, Marcy, and enjoy your birthday. You done good.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Photo by Emily Blethen

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer gold

Photo by Emily Blethen
Around noon at the mailbox, John Gerken guessed that we got four inches last night. When Tom Story delivered the morning papers he had to use an umbrella. It must have rained for hours. Our breakfast waitress Melissa at the Card Room said she was taking a bath at 3 a.m., getting ready for work, when the power went out. She screamed, she said, because she's never been in the tub with no lights and got scared. We've never been caught naked during a power outage, but agreed it would probably be oddly disconcerting.
There are no golfers today, all the low spots are flooded, but it drains fast. The experimental seed company plot a mile from here is flooded out once again, their research trials are spoiled. Try again. While Jennifer was returning to Dundas after an overnight with her sister, she phoned in a rumor that parts of her city had been evacuated. We await a first person report from the banks of the Cannon.
Emily is here now and we went for a walk with Birdie, who had to jump in the puddles like the four year old she is.
For her part, Emily, even though she was wearing pink waterproof Crocs, pretty much stayed out of the water and concentrated on taking some photographs instead.
A game of Go Fish seemed the perfect activity on this wet day. Grandma won at the last minute, 4-3-2, when she booked four Blue Whales.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A trifecta of company

t was a beautiful Friday on Kell Avenue today and Mom had three shifts of visitors: Her son, Virg, dropped by first, then daughter Linda and her husband, Ron, with his guitar, stopped by, followed by Kathleen and Stan in the mid-afternoon. Although Mom started the day with 45 minutes of exercises with her personal trainer, she wasn't too tuckered for a spin around the neighborhood on this lovely, breezy afternoon. We think she'll sleep well tonight.

Waiting for the doctor. . .

While waiting for the doctor today, we remembered we hadn't had breakfast, stomach growling. Got us to thinking, and googling. Found this image. Sounds like just the thing to get you through a long wait:

Thursday, July 11, 2013


First delivery -- more to come.
What could go better on a gorgeous summer day than a gorgeous bouquet of hydrangeas delivered by a neighbor? Two bouquets of gorgeous hydrangeas delivered by a neighbor.
Mina and Joe's yard is getting a grooming this morning and these blooms were being clipped and she thought of us. Thanks Mina, very nice!
Whenever the word hydrangea is used, it reminds Stan of the big wrap-around porch on our Lake Andrew home years ago. The bushes with their fluffy white blossoms surrounding the porch were actually spirea bushes, but somehow the names get globbed together in his addled brain.
One spring Dad pruned the bushes back to the nubs, leaving nothing but tiny sharp stumps. Later, little Stephen was getting a carefree ride in a red wagon on the porch. The sharp turn at the end resulted in a spill, Steve tumbled out of the wagon, pitched off the porch and onto the spirea stumps. One sharp stalk cut into the edge of the orbit of his eye, resulting in a bloody ride to the hospital emergency room for yet another set of stitches -- and a happy and memorable outcome.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


A tiny cut on her left rear paw has flared into a troublesome inflammation, exacerbated by constant licking, in her instinctive attempt to heal it. Yesterday the vet cleaned everything up and prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. $80. The cone will give the paw a chance to get back to normal.
In the meantime, Birdie has been prescribed more rest and relaxation, and extra sympathy, which she non-chalantly attempted to milk into extended bedtime privileges. (No. This may look routine, but this is not where she sleeps. Nice try, wounded warrior. Photo by Kathleen.)

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The Boys of Summer, 1958 -- update

Alexandria's Victoria Heights batsmen, back row, John Seim, Gary Faehnrich, Tom Obert, John Helgeson, Pete Hintzen. Okay, Sue Tegland, you know these boys, now name the front row... and the exact year the photo was taken. (Didn't have many uniforms back then, hell, the jeans didn't even fit right.)
Tom Obert writes:
I assume this was taken by Dad. The team name was the Bears (waaaayyyyy before the movie). Guessing sometime between 1958 and '60? We look to be 11 - 13 years old.
The front row is Dick Koon, Bob Koon, Brian Berglund, and Brad Anderson. A powerhouse team. Can't remember where it was taken - someone's house on a lake. Berglund's? Helgeson's? Faehnrich's?

Monday, July 08, 2013

Happy Birthday Al!

Happy Birthday to Allen, Becky's husband.

May the road rise up to meet you on your brand new knees!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Happy Birthday Kim!

Party time in West Des Moines. Happy Birthday to Kim, Adam's wife and Landon's Mom.

Those lazy days of summer. . .

Improving on the balance of trade

Beate and Unni will depart for Norway today after their jaunt to the West Coast and back. They visited our relatives in Seattle and North Dakota, and took a swing into Canada and down to Iowa. Last night Kathleen drove them to the shopping center to fill these cases for loved ones back home. They have 23 kilos allowance each (100 pounds between them) and they had the scales out last night trying to squeeze in absolutely as much booty as they could bear. Disappointed when they couldn't find the prized 501 Levi jeans in Fairmont or at our Target, Kathleen saved the day with a foray to the Eden Prairie J.C. Penney. There they were in abundance, so much cheaper than in Norway, and exactly the right thing. They skillfully translated other European and American product sizes and the bargain rates in a last minute frenzy of hunting and gathering. They MAY have an ounce to spare. Good Luck, Beate and Unni!
Super Shoppers Beate, Kathleen and Unni. (Beate has the new purse.)