Monday, March 31, 2014

Peggy Sue's Dad got an Edsel!

Screen shot from 'Peggy Sue Got Married'
Hood ornament keepsake  from our Edsel.
It fell out when Dad brushed snow one afternoon.
The only thing left of it was the circular mount frame,
which remained there like a Big Zero for the rest of its life.
We watched "Peggy Sue Got Married" again tonight, that wonderful, nostalgic time traveler starring Kathleen Turner and Nicolas Cage. Peggy Sue returns to 1959 after 25 years and relives, among many other things, the day her sweet, oblivious Dad brought home a new car.
"Dad!" she exclaims with a bemused smile, "You bought an Edsel!"
Dad didn't know just what was supposed to be so funny about that.
We didn't either, that day in 1957 when Dad brought home our two-toned blue and white Edsel.

Most reliably cold spot in the nation

Wayne's Fairly Reliable Relative,
Honored this weekend by the Freshwater
Fishing Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of the
International Fall Journal, which also
documents Mr. Wood's meteoric rise to
fame and fortune on the waters of Rainy Lake.
Our friends Wayne and Mary Ann returned to International Falls this weekend after a month in Mexico and a weekend in Minneapolis, witnessing the solemn induction of Barry "Woody" Woods (Mary Ann's brother) into the 2014 Fishing Hall of Fame at the Northwest Boat Show.
Woody was humbled by the prestigious award because, as he pointed out in an interview with the editor of the International Falls Daily Journal, most of his best competition is already dead.
Woody is the owner/operator of Woody's Fairly Reliable Guide Service in Rainer.
After the ceremonies, Wayne spent more on drinks in honor of his Fairly Reliable brother-in-law than on a month of libations in Playa del Carmen.
Back home they were greeted by the dogs and by another snowstorm and another grim statistic: This has been the coldest start of the year in recorded history. Over the past three months, the AVERAGE temperature in IFalls has been 1.9 degrees!
Courage. This shall pass. One promising thing. The Rainy River forms up near their home and they can see open water caused by the raging current there.

(Editor's note: This article should not be construed as endorsing, recommending or approving any or all of Mr. Woods' services. Fishing involves risk and anyone contacting The Fairly Reliable Guide Service should do so only after seeking advice from the appropriate professionals. Past performance does not predict future success.)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Hot Coffee" starts win streak

St. Paul Katie and Cindy with track coach and idol, Don Kieger.

"Hot Coffee" in the Second Race at Gulfstream Park in Florida cashed in for betting partners Kathleen and Cindy today. The lucky pair followed that up with another win in the First Race at the Aqueduct in New York City. This caused a bit of a stir amongst old hands at the Canterbury Park Simulcast Race Book, but not so much that Stan was able to sell them a peek at the ladies' next choice. It was just as well, as that is where this story ended.
Earlier, the ladies enjoyed breakfast with their spouses downstairs in the poker room. Cindy's Bill holds Stan's former GM job at the newspaper group in Shakopee. Neither husband bets much, perhaps sensing they used up their luck by winning their wives.

Morning mashup

We don't know if their primal motivations were territorial or romantic, but these two robins duked it out in an intense blur of motion this morning in front of the office window. Before we could get the camera adjusted for stop action, they were gone.
This was easily the wildest activity to be witnessed on Abbey Point in the past three months, and we present it now, hearts still pounding.
Sunny and 63 today. Yippee!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Feed the birds, tupence a bag

Carved from a coconut shell, all the way from Cozumel.
Kathleen can remove the fishing pole to
reload the feeder as needed. Should stay dry.
They promised us a gorgeous weekend so we got up full of energy this morning. Our project today was the erection of the handmade coconut shell bird feeder that M'liss brought back from Cozumel. We devised a temporary lash-up arrangement, fishing pole, clamp and wood scraps, but good enough to see if we'll get any hungry takers in for close up viewing.
Kathleen thinks it is too close to the house, Stan says the birds have already been sitting on our railings and the advantage of having it dry and under the eaves out weighs the negative of bird poop close to the house below.
We hope to see birds soon
through our kitchen window.
The temporary set up will allow some adjustments over time, so we are not committed.
Closer? Farther? These are the decisions that keep us awake nights.

Now to tackle final assembly of the new barbecue grill. Bring on the sun!

The clamp blends well with the environment, don't you think? Notice the snow receding in the background.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Four generations

The Letneses visited Mom at Kell today and took this four generation photograph: Mom, Linda, Shana and Milla.
Marcia, Mom's helper and the cook at Kell, (at right) celebrated her birthday today. Happy Birthday, Marcia! You're a very special person to all of us.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Just step -- or roll -- into my shower

A no-lip walk-in or roll-in shower was a star attraction at today's Welcome Home open house on Kell Avenue. Guests enjoyed wine and cheese and a look-around at the recently-refurbished mid-century rambler ready for occupancy just two doors down from Mom's place.
Boss lady Cher, above, was a good sport for the photographer, doing her best Vanna White, while modeling the new super shower.

The longest winter. . .

 When March seems to be a never-ending misery, it can be helpful to compare it to Sir Ernest Shackleton's trans-Antarctic expedition of 1914-1917. Now that's a never-ending winter. Although the ship was trapped, then crushed to smithereens by shifting ice, the crew of 28 waited, walked and rowed to safety, eating seal blubber and penguin steaks. They all survived, including their amazing leader. This singular accomplishment was captured on film by Frank Hurley and you can get a super picture book of it at your public library to help chase the blues and appreciate the relative comforts of a modern winter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Take a Minnesota winter ride on a Harley, circa 1918

Curt Lindberg, Mom's housemate at Kell Avenue, emailed us (that's right) emailed this photo of his Dad today. Curt says his Dad, who was born in 1893, had a Harley Davidson dealership when he was about 20 years old. Here's Curt's prized photo of his Dad with a motorcycle and sidecar that Curt has on his iPad (that's right) on his iPad. Curt, 91, says his Dad courted his Mom in a sidecar like this. His Dad was the youngest of nine children. Curt's grandfather immigrated from Sweden and farmed near Karlstad, Minnesota, in the Red River Valley.
Look closely, and you can see the Harley Davidson logo on the door of the plush side-car. It looks like there is some kind of homemade windshield that has been worked out for the intrepid Minnesota winter driver out to impress the ladies.

From Wikipedia: By 1920, Harley-Davidson was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, with 28,189 machines produced, and dealers in 67 countries. In 1921, a Harley-Davidson, ridden by Otto Walker, was the first motorcycle ever to win a race at an average speed greater than 100 mph. During the 1920s, several improvements were put in place, such as a new 74 cubic inch (1,212.6 cc) V-Twin, introduced in 1922, and the "Teardrop" gas tank in 1925. A front brake was added in 1928.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Parade Home Madness

An aging Cardinal sunk an imaginary long shot Sunday in a dream home March Madness pickup game, while his wife watched from the glassed-in gallery above.
The annual Parade of Homes always features some ridiculous house that you could never live in, but you love to tour and wonder about. To keep the riff-raff down, they ask for a $5 donation just to get inside. Hai sponsored our trip to the Edina $2.5 million "house" Sunday and it didn't disappoint. You could never actually live in it, but it had a great basement bar and a magnificent kitchen.
We, of course, marked it down for a number of flaws (a basement bedroom without an en suite?? and only one staircase way out of the way over on the other side of the house?)
It's a fun afternoon on a cold day. Here'a s tip: You have to take your shoes off, but try to leave them where it is warm inside.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hungry work, this handicapping

Don and Burt. Don loves his horses, "This is as close to heaven as I can get," he says, looking around.
"Yeah," quipped a companion. "Is that because you're on the third floor?"
Our favorites at Canterbury Park report having a very good week, betting the nation's horse tracks from their comfortable reserved table in the Third Floor Race Book. Donnie hit some big races last week and was in an unusually ebullient mood today, along with his wing man. Burt, who delivered their working man's breakfast today, enthusiastically confirmed that Don had indeed excelled in his labors.
Don was philosophical:
"Yes, the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. And as a matter of fact, yesterday the Lord was a little short . . . so I had to giveth some back."
Surprisingly, Don and Burt don't do March Madness brackets, although they have plenty of opinions and are quite knowledgeable about the various college basketball teams. "I am not a gambler," Don says with a straight face. "I am an investor."

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Uff Da, lefse breakfast

Iowans Adam, Kim and Landon took a "spring break" to Minneapolis this weekend to browse shops and visit Grandma Bev … so their Uncle Stan and Aunt Kathleen took the opportunity to meet them for breakfast this morning.
Lefse breakfast
Adam thought "A Taste of Scandinavia," just south of their digs near the Mall of America, sounded like fun, and it proved an interesting choice, not the least of which was the Lefse breakfast: Scrambled eggs, diced ham and cheddar cheese rolled up in a fried round of lefse, with salsa and green onions.
Adam approved and cleaned his plate. Others had more conventional fare.
We'll use the weekend to finish up the Parade of Homes, Adam and Kim have been to the Outlet Mall and IKEA already and are thinking about the children's museum for Landon.
We had a chance to catch up on family news, as we all made the most of the chilly Minnesota weekend.

Friday, March 21, 2014

So Grandpa was good with steers, too

Stan's Grandfather Nils Rolfsrud was sort of a Horse Whisperer, we were always told. An excellent horse trainer, he put together working teams and was able to gently manage and calm skittish horses that others could not approach, Dad would say.
Nils Rolfsrud

Nils had been crippled in a cave-in at a nearby cliffside coal seam and spent his later years in a built-up shoe driving a buggy around western North Dakota, locating land that had been made available for new immigrants from Europe. Those farms now have oil rigs on them.
But until we recently turned up this photo of the Johnsrud neighbors with its explanatory headline, we didn't realize that he also trained steers (castrated bulls) for farm work.
This photo was taken in 1910. When Stan and his brothers worked on the North Dakota family farm in the 1960s, the neighbors across the road were still Johnsruds.
They all had really big tractors to work the farms by then, so the steers didn't have to work, they just walked around and put on weight.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sharing a bottle of Bill

Virg, Bill and Bill

Sosie and Bill have returned from their South America sojourn and are now under the care of brother Virg in Ft. Myers, awaiting final departure to their California home.
The itinerants found a bottle of wine in Chile called simply "Bill," (see closeup) and they had to have it, of course. They shared the bottle over dinner at Virg's last night, attended as well by two family members from Venice, Becky and Al.
Here's Sosie's complete report:
We have enjoyed the many comforts and luxuries provided by our gracious host. I greatly benefited with a day of NyQuil napping while Virg and Bill looked at nature and real estate. Bill selected and prepared a dinner from Costco last night on the lanai with Becky and Al. We also enjoyed a bottle of Bill! from Chile. Then Virg hooked us on House of Cards; this new addiction is comparable to Breaking Bad. Can't wait to get home for more serial viewing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Matt and Anne's back yard


There's always something to see on Matt and Anne Drees' back deck on their Shakopee hobby farm. Last time we dropped by for some morning coffee it was a pair of Cardinals, frustrated by a frozen bird bath (below). Today it was something else to check out: an albino squirrel, trying to beat out a bigger gray squirrel for sunflower treats, put out for their consumption… and for the amusement of their audience watching the antics from inside.
Photos by Stan Rolfsrud

Monday, March 17, 2014

If yer Irish,

Come in to the parlor . . .
Marcelline and Jennifer got together in Northfield today, and sang an Irish greeting to their Mom.

Be it ever so humble. . .

This is where Stan's Grandma and Grandpa, Nils and Rebecca Rolfsrud, staked a claim in western North Dakota early in the 1900s. They of course didn't know it at the time, but they were on top of the now-famous Bakken Oil Shale Formation, which is now helping to make the nation energy independent.
Stan's father (born 1912) wrote the note below when passing along the faded photograph before he died in 1994.

Happy St. Pat's

Retired author/teacher Benita Kane, ready for the big day.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Out with the old, in with the new. It was time

Please do not call him a nosy neighbor. Tom was invited in to inspect and add his expertise to the situation.
When we moved out of our Eden Prairie home in December 2000, we accidentally left behind our old green Weber barbecue grill, orphaned out of sight on the back deck. We reclaimed it later, and it's a good thing. . . we got 13 more seasons of steaks and burgers out of it.
It was time for a new one. We used our Lowe's Frequent Flyer miles, accumulated when we had to buy a washer-dryer-refrigerator last year.
26 steps to assemble. Our genius
son-in-law took a full day to put
together our grill in the 90s.
We passed on the opportunity
to do it again.
Our shiny new Weber Spirit was delivered yesterday morning and created a bit of a stir. There's nothing quite as exciting as a delivery truck backing up and beep, beep, beeping a warning in the cul-de-sac. Neighbor Sandy wanted to know if it was "the grill of our dreams." (You're forgiven for that, Sandy)
It's proudly parked on the back deck now, but it's still too cold to hook up the gas bottle. When spring finally does arrive, we're ready.
We hope we can get 18 years out of this one.
Good bye Old Paint. . . and old baked-on barbecue residue. The 18-year old Weber still works, but Kathleen was afraid of it. Something silly about an explosion and a persistent raging grease fire whenever you closed the lid.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Emily's first golf lesson

It all starts with the grip. . .

Friday, March 14, 2014

Alex Vitali left a trail of good times

The very best party the three bachelors ever threw at Parklawn Court in Edina was catered by Alex and Marian Vitali.
It was the fall of 1973, and Virg, Steve and Stan had hosted their share of wine-women-and-song Saturday night events. It was time for something different. "The Godfather" had won Best Picture that year, spaghetti and lasagna is cheap and everybody likes it, so the brothers figured a sit-down Italian dinner with a mobster theme would be just the thing to impress dates and entertain invited guests.
"Mama" and her stallion.
Alex and Marian ran a photo business out of their Chaska home and had a contract with Stan's newspaper company for darkroom  services.  Always up for a good time, they were easily volunteered as a cook and a waiter for a fun fake formal dinner. It helped that Marian was a for-real great Italian cook and that Alex loved to be called "The Italian Stallion." Both grew up in traditional Italian families on the Iron Range.
When the dozen invitees arrived, they were told that dinner was being prepared in the kitchen by two recent Italian immigrants, Alex and Mama Vitali. They were a poor uneducated couple, but did know authentic cooking and the hosts were just trying to help them get a start in the new country.
Mama still spoke only Italian, though her husband did speak a bit of broken English. The guests bought it.
"She no speeka da Inglish," Alex confirmed, right on cue. This muted role suited Marian just fine, being a bit shy anyway, unlike her jocular, outgoing husband.
At the head of the table, Stan took the role of Godfather, dressed in a black tuxedo rented from the basement of a Dinkytown clothier. As the dinner progressed, from time to time a subservient waiter would consult with the Godfather in a fake Italian. The Godfather responded discreetly in fake Italian, to the amazement of those within earshot.
Heaping platters of pasta and tomato paste and bottles of chilled wine were delivered to the huge makeshift table, with a busy red-vested waiter constantly urging guests: "Mange, Mange!" The hoax was working. But the hosts had no idea how completely Alex and Marian had fooled the guests. They figured the diners all got the joke and were just playing along in the spirit of the evening. They were wrong.
After a sumptuous banquet finished with scoops of spumoni, it was time to confirm the joke and honor Alex and Marian for their superb acting and contribution to a fun evening.
The reveal set-up called for a heated Alex to repeatedly whisper to the Godfather that Mama Vitali was upset and insulted that people were not eating, despite urgings. He needed satisfaction for his wife's honor.
The Godfather encouraged the guests to please eat more, because, goodness, this is customary to gorge and if you are not gorging, there must be something wrong with the food and it was insulting to these immigrants. The guests were stuffed, so no one complied, of course. The back and forth continued until an enraged waiter returned for the last time to the head of the table, this time with a three-foot baguette in hand.
According to the script, Alex would break the bread over the Godfather's scalp in a fit of feigned anger. Our guests would then burst out laughing at this over-the-top slapstick performance, and the true identities of Alex and Marian would then be confirmed, as the good friends and good sports that they were.
That was not to be.
Right on cue, Alex smashed the loaf on the Godfather's head. But there was no outburst of laughter. You could hear a pin drop as the guests froze, stunned at this ugly, unseemly turn of events. It was now up to the Godfather to hurriedly explain, "Hey, we're just kidding. Really, Alex isn't mad. Mama isn't insulted. It's a joke. Get it? This is just Alex and Marian from Chaska. They've lived in Minnesota all their lives. They're just good friends helping out."
Most of the guests now got it, laughing with relief, but not all of them got it.
Later, as the happy crowd departed the festive mobster venue, a grateful but still confused guest approached Alex, who was standing beside Marian, and slowly and clearly asked him to please compliment the cook on her behalf for making such a wonderful meal.
Alexander E. "Babe" Vitali, Jr.,  age 70, died last week, after living a life filled with friends, family and good times. At a Memorial Service for him in Burnsville today, his grieving widow talked about that party so long ago, the best one those three bachelors ever had at their Parklawn Avenue pad . . . and she spoke of it in perfect English.

Alex surrounded by his wife and their extended family.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Four overtimes and a miracle shot… Hopkins stuns Shakopee

In the most memorable high school basketball game in a long time, Hopkins beat Shakopee tonight with a miracle 60 foot last second shot. . . after four overtimes failed to find a winner. Sophomore Amir Coffey got the dream shot.
Hopkins wins, 49-46.
What goes around, comes around. Last week the Shakopee girls won with a buzzer beating mid-court miracle shot. They apparently used up the boys' karma.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mom's in her Birthday Suit

Big party at Kell Avenue today. Mom's housemate, Curt, is celebrating his 91st birthday and they pulled out all the stops with balloons, a big lunch and, of course, Marcia's famous chocolate layer cake. Mom, who will be 94 on May 23, wore her brand new velour suit for the birthday party. It was a Christmas gift from Cher. Earlier, Mom's daughter, Linda, and husband, Ron, stopped by for a morning visit, so all in all it was a big day.