Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Up Nort Report

Our International Falls correspondent sends his weather report. . .
Wayne writes:
Windy and chilly but sunny so far today. The sun inspired me to get out and pick up the remaining dog poop and pull last year's growth from some of the 80 or 90 flower pots that Woodsport Cottages has that I will be watering this summer. 
The Shack
Ice will probably not be out of Rainy Lake for the fishing opener on the 10th of May. Don't matter, I'm more concerned with the golf course condition, which is shaping up beautifully with all the snow cover this winter.
We drove into the shack for a look at things. I occasionally needed four-wheel drive the last mile, because the sun just couldn't do its work in the heavily-timbered areas. Residual snow drifts linger. 
[Snowbird Dave] Ramnes has left from Florida, dodging the bad weather by going straight north first. He had better drive fast, which isn't a problem for him. On a recent airport run, he got a ticket for running TWO red lights.
By the way, Stan, we have one of those Valleyfair keepsakes you mentioned earlier, with our family photo in it. MaryAnn reminded me.
File photo by Stan Rolfsrud
Here's a view from an ice-free Woodsport in the mid-summer, looking over Rainy Lake into Canada. 

Wet lands

Another day of rain will follow this day of rain as we continue to cope with a stubborn low pressure area threatening to drag our spirits down with it. Yesterday we drove to the Shakopee Public Library to find "Things to Do on a Rainy Day." It had already been checked out.
Perhaps something by Noah?
We're told we're going for the wettest April ever. If you're not a Wild hockey fan, that's something to cheer about today.
There's always Tom Waits, NightHawks at the Diner:

Emotional Weather Report

Well we are talking about late night and early morning low clouds
With a chance of fog, chance of showers into the afternoon
With variable high cloudiness and gusty winds
Gusty winds at times around the corner of sunset and Alvarado
Yeah I know things are tough all over

When the thunder storms start increasing over the southeast
And south central portions of my apartment, I get upset
And a line of thunderstorms was developing in the early morning
I was ahead of a slow moving cold front, cold blooded

With, with tornado watches issued shortly before noon Sunday
For the areas including, the western region of my mental health
And the northern portions of my ability to deal rationally with my
Disconcerted precarious emotional situation
It's cold out there, colder than a ticket taker's smile at the Ivar theater
On a Saturday night. . .

Tom Waits

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sand man

The white bag is where the sawdust goes.
 Our cedar decks are 13 years old and they are starting to show it. We've tried various elixirs and strippers, sealers and stains, and power washing over the years with mixed results. Today we went bold and rented a sander from Home Depot. They get $37 plus materials and tax for four hours, so we scurried along, not sure how much time the project would take. Besides, it's going to rain tonight and when it will quit is anybody's guess these days.
Our Inspector notes the before and after.
With a little instruction, we figured out how to fire up the machine and start grinding away. We immediately liked the results we were getting. The sander doesn't make too much noise, but it has one hell of a vibration to it, as it oscillates back and forth, scratching at the wood grain. The entire house picked up on its harmonics. . . it was loudest down in the basement, which hummed like a sawmill.
We share a common wall with Tom and Sandy. Tom soon came out in the yard to report (with a big grin) that Sandy said there were whitecaps in the bathtub.
We got both decks sanded down quickly and had the machine back to Home Depot with a good half hour to spare. The sander has a vacuum on it, so there wasn't too big of a mess left behind.
It's a complicated transaction, what with the $125 deposit, damage insurance, hourly rate, tax, returned materials, military discount and so on, so we're not sure what will end up on the credit card, but we think it will net out at around $55. Which is not bad, not bad at all for two decks. A gallon of Thompson's low end waterseal is $20.
Now we're not sure what to do next. Let it go? Seal it with Thompson's? Stain it?
It is going to rain on it for the next week so it will be a while before we have to decide. We'll wait indoors.
Hai took this picture when Katie wasn't looking. He's the one who got the beer  for a prop and made Stan hold the cord.
Stan would never do anything like this behind Katie's back.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Enjoying Etta and Claribel's collection

The famous Cone sisters of Baltimore, Claribel and Etta, were persistent visitors to Henri Matisse's French studios, and throughout their lifetimes the wealthy socialites amassed 500 of his paintings, cramming them into adjacent apartments. The Cone collection is now exhibited in the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Today we looked over much of that amazing collection, along with other Matisse pieces, at a temporary exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. It was an impressive review of a prolific artist's career, which lasted over 60 years.
Matisse (1869 – 1954) was known for his use of color and his fluid and original draftsmanship. He was a printmaker and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter.
Neither of us realized that Matisse lived during our lifetimes, we assumed he was gone by then along with other important classical artists, which proves how little we know of our art history. Deux fillettes, fond jaune et rouge (Two Girls in a Yellow and Red Interior), among his final works, is an oil on canvas completed in 1947 that caught our eye (photo right) because it was finished the year Stan was born.

Floor to ceiling photo of
Matisse in his quarters.
We loved his use of color, and his roughhouse sculpting, but were particularly drawn to some very simple charcoal lines that somehow captured the essence of complex things we have observed -- like the symetric way the human calf folds back against the thigh muscle while in a certain position.

He also liked to show off the way he did things, leaving behind clues in his work that would otherwise seem sort of incomplete.
It was a very nice way to spend a rainy day.
That's a cut-out of the Great Man himself on the left, as if welcoming visitors to his show. Ironically, in his later life Matisse did a lot of cutouts with colorful paper and scissors. Hmmm. We did that in first grade.

Congratulations Ford!

Meet the new Assistant Principal at Red Oak Elementary School in Shakopee! Our nephew, Ford Rolfsrud, will fill the newly-created position beginning this fall. Ford is presently an Assistant Principal at Shakopee's West Junior High. He has worked in the Shakopee School District since 2005, first as a teacher. Ford and his wife, Jennifer, have a daughter who will be entering elementary school next year. . . but not at Daddy's School.  :(  There are five elementary schools in Shakopee. Ford's new responsibilities will be decidedly different than presently at the highly hormonal junior high, now in its annual throes of spring restlessness.
He has coached the varsity tennis team, building a fledgling organization into a contender. This is the first spring he hasn't been involved with coaching, giving him an opportunity to spend more time with district taxpayers like his Uncle Stan. (See below) For more information about this really great guy, check out his family blog linked elsewhere on this page.
Red Oak Elementary is a new school located south of the 169 bridge over the Minnesota River in Shakopee, just south of the Southbridge shopping center … and within walking distance of the White Castle there!
Meet us for lunch, Ford?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The best one yet so far this year. . .

The afternoon started out a bit cool and blustery, but at about five p.m. it transitioned into a gorgeous evening for this lucky threesome at Creeksbend in New Prague.  With few other golfers out today, the round was completed in record time. Above, Ford and his Pop recall  the day's highlights, which included some excellent ball striking.

Monday, April 21, 2014

You can't golf without a driver

The full set of vintage Patty Berg steel shafts
got a vigorous workout today.
The wind was gusting, but it was warm enough today to get tuned up for tomorrow's grudge match against the Mankato Rolfsruds, slated for late afternoon at the prestigious Creeksbend Golf Course in beautiful rural New Prague. Today Katie took the wheel of one of their brand new gas-powered golf carts, advising Stan on his club selection and strategizing for tomorrow's round against two hard-working establishment authority figures: a judge and a principal. We'll  trust the retired newspaper guy to report an accurate score and get the story straight.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Making a joyful noise. . .

Father Cassidy led the parade of creatures, followed by the choir. He set two alarm clocks for 4:45 this morning so he wouldn't miss the first edition. Got up in the dark and heard a hoot owl. Might have written the homily then too.
A 20-year partnership
celebrated in sawdust.
If you wanted a seat at the St. Joan of Arc Easter mass this morning, you needed to grab one immediately after the packed 9 a.m. session let out. By 11:15 the joint was thumping and rocking yet again, wall-to-wall worshippers clapping their hands, swaying and generally feeling good just being there. Among the favorites getting a workout were "Oh Happy Day," "What a Wonderful World," "Eagles' Wings," "Alleluia," and many others, accompanied by a six-piece orchestra, full choir, fabulous soloist, and an old white trumpeter who could sing just like Louis Armstrong.

Displayed beside the pathway into the "gym mass," a colorful sawdust mural (above) linked the congregation to its sister church in Guatamala. On the way out, to the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching," the mural was trashed by an enthusiastic procession of very odd-looking beasts led by the holy-man-in-charge, whose earlier explanation of the tradition and meaning of this arcane ritual has since been forgotten by your faithful reporter.

Church mice? Rocky Raccoon? 
Mom, 93 Easters old, didn't make it to these services this morning, but she did sing us a bit of "Oh Happy Day," in a clear Easter morning voice:
Oh, Happy Day
(Oh, Happy Day)
When Jesus washed
(When Jesus washed)
Oh, when he washed …...
He washed my sins away!

Oh Happy Day!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Little keychain with a peek of the past

In the spring of 1982, the Valleyfair Amusement Park in Shakopee threw a big party to celebrate the opening of its Pepsi IMAX theater. This "larger-than-life screen gives a whole new dimension to movie watching," the management boasted.
Guests were treated to dinner, a preview of the new rides, and watched a thrilling movie shot from a variety of angles that exploited the huge movie screen.
On the way out, guests were photographed and given this little keepsake trinket to remember the event. When you hold it up to the light and squint through the peephole, you can see the picture mounted inside the plastic light box.

This little keychain keepsake went into a drawer. It came out today and provided some amusement when we discovered our digital camera could capture the little tiny image locked inside.
The hard part was dating it. Kathleen always goes by her wardrobe, Stan judges time by the amount of hair he has left.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oh No

Our guardian goose quietly reflects on the snowfall and freeze that put a thin skin on part of the pond last night. Eggs are hidden and warm nearby, incubated by the spouse goose. No baby chick delivery expected in time for Easter Sunday though -- these parents don't trust the forecasts either. Our latest snow helping will be gone by late afternoon (Up North they got a foot or more) and forecasters promise that this time next week it will be in the sunny 70s. We're not impressed, nor is the ground-feeding Mourning Dove at right, whose breakfast seeds have been frosted over yet again.
Now that's something to mourn about.
The eggs are stashed in the lower right corner. You can see the Canada Goose minding them from the pond.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Iris, not hail, in Dallas

Photo by Lorlee Bartos
Lorlee saw the hail picture below and writes: Where was that? Here in Dallas, the sun is shining, the rose bushes have buds and the iris (above) are blooming. We did have a cold snap last night down to 35 but back in the 60’s today and the rest of the week.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hail in Texas

Ok. There's a bit of hail. But look at the trees and the lovely green grass.
Our friend Laurie took a few days off with friends in Texas. . . and got hailed on this morning for her trouble. She sent along this photo to Hai.
"So much for sunny Texas," wrote Lauire. "What the Hail!" quipped Hai.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fighting back the tears. . .

Our long-legged seven-year-old departing Mazatlan
They're home again safe and sound. Missy and Emily are sleeping it off today after a fun-filled week with their adopted family in Mazatlan. It was hard saying goodbye, here Emily fights back the tears while Mom takes just one more vacation picture.
Back to school and work tomorrow.
Below is the family, enjoying a dip in Missy's time share pool.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

We'll watch the Masters this weekend

When we get past the slobbering of announcers overwhelmed by the majesty of the event, watching the Masters Golf Tournament remains a favorite pastime in this household every spring.
Yesterday's cuts left many of our elderly favorites (Els, Mickelson, Sergio, O'Meara, Watson) on the sidelines with the ailing Tiger, there's still plenty of good contenders to follow today and tomorrow. Bubba has a small lead, but he's emotional and won't maintain it. Will Scott repeat? Rory? Whatever happens, we'll be pulling for old-timers Couples and Furyk who are still in the hunt. We like their chances.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How does this one look, Mom?

Her mother loves to spend an afternoon with Marcy in the shops at Southdale. Yesterday's mission was to explore for a bridesmaid's dress for Marcy to wear at the wedding of a friend, the perfect excuse to try on everything the malls have to offer. Mom says everything looks good on a willing Marcy's figure, so it was great fun for the pair, topped off with a mother-daughter luncheon. Mom brought home a phone full of photos, no dress. No decisions have been made about anything, but a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Katie's List

Our neighbors, Mina and Joe, needed a handyman to hang some items around the house, so they consulted with Katie's List and found this semi-skilled carpenter's apprentice with time on his hands. After a half hour this morning, all the artwork had been hung and the Handyman had been paid off. Mina presented the workman with a serious bottle of Zinfandel, his favorite, as Mina and Joe admired their new arrangements.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Pent-up demand

It has been a full six months since the thermometer hit 70 degrees in Minnesota. It has been almost that long since a golf ball has been driven down a chilled fairway. That's all over now, golfers teed it up at Stonebrooke and throughout the metro today and swingers have been at the range since Monday morning.
There are still a few snow drifts here and there, but hardly noticed. They'll be gone tomorrow, highs will be in the mid-70s.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Classmates gather again in Maple Grove

These Alexandria High School Class of 1965 grads enjoyed hors de oeuvres and a chat tonight at Houlihan's in Maple Grove. Wallweeds Forever! Paula, Ramona, Stan, Kathy, Greg, Terrie, Kathy.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

First report from Mazatlan

It's a day on the beach for Melissa and her daughter Emily, Melissa's namesake and her family.
At right, Emily and Melissa II.
Both girls are seven.
 (Emily will be eight on May 1, and she's been growing like a weed.)

Saturday, April 05, 2014

On to Mazatlan!

Emily, Melissa and Cocoa
The reason it takes five suitcases for two ladies on vacation for one week is that two of the cases are stuffed with Emily's hand-me-downs and gifts intended for Melissa's "adopted" family in Mazatlan, Mexico. It's been four years since Melissa and Emily have seen the family, so the excitement and anticipation was at full throttle when they departed Hubert today on Sun Country. The Mexican family is so grateful for Melissa's generous and heartfelt involvement in their lives that they named a child after her. Little Melissa is now seven years old, and today there's a ton of stuff winging its way from her American "sister."
Melissa was up late last night with a friend, setting up a second-hand computer to leave with the family. .. loaded with Skype.
Before departing today, mother and daughter said goodbye to "Cocoa," who will be in the care of a neighbor for the next week.
There was time for a game with Grandma and Grandpa while Mom finished packing today.

Friday, April 04, 2014

She really got into it this time . . .

About 99 percent of the ground was covered with snow when we took our walk this afternoon, but Birdie found an exposed grassy area and sniffed around a lot. When we got back to the house it was discovered that she had found a nasty dried up burdock bush and had picked up a prickly mat of burrs from her paws, up her chest and on to her chin. She was now licking furiously to no avail. All this mess was accomplished in a matter of seconds, under guise of finding a nice place to whiz. Kathleen got out the scissors and the darn dog is finally back to normal, ready to go out again, this time with a wiser handler.


The final indignity was heaped on us this morning with over a half a foot of snow here by sunrise and more drifting down. It's not funny anymore. Our coconut bird feeder is sheltered under the eaves, but it still got a good dose anyway. The melt will come quickly, we're told, which is good because we've got a couple of ladies to deliver to the airport tomorrow. They're heading for sunnier climes. Timing is everything, of course, Hai skeddaddled Wednesday. He's in southern California at the moment, helping his Mom hang curtains in her new place.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Fort Hood buddy checks in

Stan's partner at Fort Hood back in the 70s checked in with us tonight. Ken Fortenberry happened to be at Fort Hood last Sunday, reflecting on his Army service and the time he spent there with his old buddy. Tonight the two agreed that they're saddened that their old home has come to represent senseless, tragic, aberrant behavior in our society.
During their service, both Ken and Stan were involved in public information affairs at Fort Hood.
Fort Hood is the largest employer in Texas. The commanding general gave a good, straightforward news conference tonight in a difficult situation, the second deadly shooting at the post in five years.
When Ken and Stan served at Fort Hood in 1970, the military trial there of Vietnam Mai Lai massacre participants was the focus of public attention.

Maybe this year. . .

We don't always do window boxes. Sometimes we're too busy to put them up or the season is too short.  or the bottom is falling out of a wooden frame. We didn't do any flower boxes last year, not sure what our excuse was. Maybe not this year either, we'll see. Now would be the time to make plans. . . but not just yet. Six inches of snow will be here tonight, right about the time we sit down with the neighbors for our monthly dinner.