Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mungo for Jennifer

When Stan ran the newspaper company, it occupied space in six separate office buildings in six locations and they were always in various states of transition and disrepair.
It seemed the management was constantly updating something, moving a wall, fixing a door, adding partitions, building desk systems, whatever, growing and expanding as the industry made its transition from hot metal to phototypeset to digital production.
Matt was one of the handy guys who was usually available to help with some of this perpetual change. He was knowledgable, retired, he was willing. . . and he had a huge shed on his hobby farm near Shakopee.
Many times when we were making modifications to one of the operations and ended up with stuff that wasn't needed, we had a choice: The dumpster or Matt's shed.
(Mungo is the name for the stuff that's too good to toss after a construction project. Keeping mungo is NOT the same as hoarding. Really. :) Hoarding is a mental disorder. You'd have to be crazy to throw THIS stuff away.)
At one time, this knob opened the door to the
Postmaster's Office in Jordan
A decade of dust.
Most of the job leftovers went straight into the dumpster, but there were items just too good to toss, so Matt always obligingly put them into storage, no charge.
Some of the stuff got reused, repurposed, recycled. But there are four doors of various sizes and styles that looked like they had taken up permanent residence in Matt's shed.

Until now.
Jennifer is working on her fixer-upper in Dundas again and there may be some opportunities to put one or more of these vintage babies into service. Today Stan visited Matt's shed and took these pictures and some notes for planning and discussion purposes.
Who knows, you may see these old newspaper doors back at work again. Stay tuned.

(At left. This is a partition from
a Prior Lake conference room. At 
right. This is a nice door. Have no idea where it came from though.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Birthday wine and cheese

Photo by Kathleen Rolfsrud
Dave Chase (Stan's Tuesday play date) delivered a bottle of 2012 California Red Menage Trois to pair with Kathleen's "Cave Aged" Blue Cheese triangle in celebration today of Dave's upcoming 71st birthday. The Birthday Boy and Stan enjoyed a round of golf and then an afternoon of visiting on the porch today. Dave and Jane used to be our next-door neighbors in Chaska, and Dave's kindly, laid-back, calm personna is a perfect pairing to Stan's you-know-what, so the two have enjoyed great success over the years on the golf course, despite what the scorecard may say.
By the way, Dave is our sommelier, having owned a Chaska liquor store ("Chaser's") for a decade or so, but today we learned that he also knows something about cheeses. His parents owned a truck farm in eastern Wisconsin and he sold cheese at their stand when he was eight years old.
So Happy Birthday, Cheesehead, and many more.

. . . and this spot feels "Just Right" . . .

Reminiscent of the three bears, Mama, Papa and Baby Turtle hauled themselves out of the pond this morning to take advantage of full sun on a calm dry day. One of those great Tuesdays to be a turtle. . . or a retired Minnesotan.
We counted 13 turtles today, although Kathleen disputes sighting one of them. It's busy.
(The female painted turtle is typically larger than the male. She lays eggs twice a year. They all hibernate in the muck and ooze at the bottom of the pond. Their tummies are orange and have unique patterns. They're also algae eaters, which is very useful.)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer rose

Laurie's moss rose and lobelia box hangs over her back deck, which is a great place to relax when the mosquitoes allow it. You can admire the color burst through her back window. Lobelia enjoy cool weather, so it looks like they are in luck during the coming week.

Friday, July 25, 2014

One solid footing

Baking a cake.
We made up the cement form from mungo. Jennifer has a ton of dandy mungo in the shop, but doesn't want to waste it unnecessarily. So we used the most worthless mungo we could find, and it worked out great.
(Mungo is the leftover construction materials that everybody has laying around the garage that they can't throw out because someday they will find a perfect use for it.)
We put the 16 by 16 inch footing in Jennifer's basement this morning. When the concrete is set, it will help support the second floor and the new staircase in her Dundas home.
Activity is ramping up on the vintage fixer-upper. A contractor will begin work there in early August, so Stan and Jennifer are prepping for his arrival, making sure nothing will delay progress.
On the main floor this afternoon, they began the reinforcement of the wall studs that support the second floor joists.
Then, while Stan showered, Jennifer cranked up a friend's John Deere and went after the lawn in style.

What is it?

We just dry-cleaned the garment that is draped on the chair above. The dry-cleaner had no idea what it was, so she charged us for a "vest." What the heck is it? Here's a big hint. It belonged to Professor Erling Rolfsrud and he wore it once a year . . . 75 years ago.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kegger at Aaron's new place

All doped up on root beer, Aaron's first guests whooped it up on the deck over the tuck under garage.
Keg 'o  Root Beer on Aaron's granite
AAron hosted visitors to his new Eden Prairie townhouse tonight, with guided tours of the sharp two bed, two bath split-level. A keg was cracked for root beer floats and a toast and congratulations given to the new homeowner.
Aaron's girlfriend Amber joined Alex, Kim, Virg, Katie and Stan at the celebration, but too late for pictures.
Earlier in the evening, Kim treated us to a tasty barbecue back at Virg's place, attended by Norwegian bachelors Glen and Claude Bragstad, life-long friends of Stan and Virg. Topics included Claude's recent betrothal. Unfortunately, other commitments kept the twins from attending Aaron's kegger.

Aaron and his brother Alex getting the party started.

Be careful what you wish for. . .

The Green Heron. A kind of cartoonish character, don't you think?
Compact and resolute and motionless, Gary awaits his prey.
When we added a bag of algae-eating goldfish to our pond restoration project, we commented here that it would be nice to get things cleaned up to a point that the waters would attract an occasional fishing heron, who might drop in from time to time. What we had in mind was one of those stunning white, long-legged, graceful-looking Great Egret types that you see in the winter post cards from Florida.
We got Gary.
Gary is a stout bull-necked, short legged, chestnut-breasted Green Heron who has been fishing our waters regularly since we introduced the algae-eaters. Acting like he owns the place, yesterday he ran off a visitor in a feisty airborne territorial exchange.
Gary sure can fish. We watched through binoculars as he stood perfectly still, staring into our recently clarified waters. Silence. Then BAM, his neck extended and his beak stabbed through the surface and came back instantly with a struggling goldfish. He jawed down on it for a bit, softening and breaking it up, then zip, down the gullet.
This costly breakfast seemed to satisfy the odd creature, soon he flapped away in an ungainly, awkward flight path, to do whatever Green Herons do when they aren't fishing.
At first we thought this was a coot or some pre-historic monster bird, but our personal naturalist Greg Johnson was quick to identify Gary from his mug shot. The Minnesota DNR web site provides some interesting notes:
Careful. You'll scare the chalk out of him.
Unlike most water birds, green herons use bait to catch their food. They present worms and twigs to lure small fish closer to the shoreline.
When startled, green herons fly away quickly. They make an alarm call that sounds like
skeow, and leave a small white trail of bird droppings, which has earned the green heron the nickname "chalk line."
Green herons nest in small trees and bushes near water. The male selects the nesting place and starts building. Later he brings sticks to the female, which finishes the nest. Sometimes green herons remodel an old egret or black-crowned night heron nest. Both parents incubate the eggs.

Six species of herons live in Minnesota during spring and summer: great blue heron, black-crowned night heron, green heron, great egret, American bittern, and least bittern.

We got Gary. He's named after the fellow who long ago patiently tried to teach Stan how to fish.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A note from Wayne

July 22, 2014
Wayne writes from the tortured shores of Rainy Lake near International Falls:
I give.
Boat sunk. High water and dock went out. Fishing boat motor is in shop. Two hundred trees blew down at golf course last night. Replaced three impellers on water pumps at one of the cottages. Raccoons. 
May flies causing car accidents in Red Wing. 
Neighbor's dock went out and debris has inundated my shoreline...again. Propane leaked out of 250 lb tank at shack. 
Birds are eating the fish that eat the algae in Shakopee. 
All three lawn mowers are in shop as of this morning. 
It is a scourge, I tell you. REPENT I SAY. It's all in the Bible...somewhere. 
Just a minute. Just got the mail. Insurance check for $7,746.00 for boat damage. Never mind!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Hawk -- but no Birdies -- today at the Northfield Country Club

Watching like a hawk. . .
You don't go golfing with Greg Johnson without noticing the birds.
Daughter Jennifer's birthday gift to Stan was a round of golf for two at the Northfield Country Club. Greg and Stan set out on the hottest day of the summer this morning for an 11 a.m tee time, gift card in  hand.
Lush, well-groomed surroundings and a soft cooling breeze made for an enjoyable round today on this vintage 1926 course, since enlarged and updated. A meandering creek runs through stands of mature trees, crossed time and again by iron bridges, reminiscent of an industrial era when metal structures were commonplace, easily obtained and installed.
The Bridges of Rice County, crossing and re-crossing the creek.
There's a sweet little Par 3 on the back side where Greg had just chipped on, when out of the corner of his eye a hawk darted in, then lifted up to the nearby trees. "Red
Tail Hawk," Greg called out automatically, before bending over his putter.
Our work on the green complete, we turned our attention to the hawk, who was still observing our trespass through his verdant domain. We settled the cart onto a bridge deck and zoomed in for a portrait. As we looked closer, Greg backed off on his initial identification, now not so sure it's a Red Tail.
(So Greg, here's your closeup view. What have we got here? It could be a juvenile, with somewhat different markings from the adult. Follow this link if you're curious.)
On our way home we stopped at Northfield's Just Foods for a healthy snack, a hug, introductions and, of course, a thank you to the day's sponsor. Our grocer daughter was busy with store stuff, but we had enough time to cool off and catch up a bit.
It was a wonderful day. As for the ubiquitous "dangerous tropical" heat warnings? Hardly noticed. It's just great having a summer again.

Stan, Jennifer and Greg in The Just Foods Co-op where Jennifer was Just Finishing her day's work.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Somebody call the Game Warden

The neighbors read about the fish in our community pond, and it didn't take long for them to spring into action. Here's Sandy Story eagerly wetting a line just hours after the news was posted below. She got her rod and reel and her Nimrod husband, Tom, to bring his camera, then send us this photo. Nice picture, gang, send us another when you catch something.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Will these goldfish eat algae?

(Photo by Kathleen Rolfsrud)
That PVC pipe in the background is connected to a water pump. (It's not a submarine.)
We've introduced a bag of goldfish to the pond to see if they can join in on the efforts to clear the algae and debris.
Before. Satellite view from last summer.
From a satellite, the association pond is a disaster, it shows up green from shore to shore. We've tackled it with aeration, dip nets, raking and other methods, even getting the waterfall started again after a five year hiatus. We figure we've manually dumped out 100 pounds of algae so far. It's great exercise.
There's a "thermocline" in the 10 foot deep pond, which means oxygen doesn't go to the bottom, so the anaerobic bacterial action there is creating muck and sulphur gas, which smells like rotten eggs when disturbed. We hope to reverse that with aeration, lifting the oxygen deprived layer to the top.
We've lost track of the goldfish, hope they'll turn up again. Sometimes you can see ripples where we think they may be. There are a ton of frogs and turtles moving about, so we know the pond can be restored, but algae can bloom overnight, it's tenacious. Hope the turtles didn't eat the fish.
Koi, goldfish and other carp will eat algae, we're told, but we don't know how much. We hope this batch will survive the winter under the ice, along with the amphibians. The pond water does not drain into any protected water body, so we're good with the carp family of fish.
If we should ever attract an egret to the pond, we will know we have succeeded in clarifying the water and providing an attractive school of fish.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A shower for Dan

We've been converting Dan's tub to a shower this week and John the Bathroom Contractor finished off the project this afternoon. We love the accessibility, and so does Dan, who easily stepped right into the shower for a photo this afternoon. Can't take a shower until tomorrow morning, however, when the grout will be completely dry. (Photo taken by Roommate Steve, who will take the second shower in the new unit. John is Steve's friend, and we're most appreciative of his recommendation.)

Congratulations Aaron! New homeowner!

Our nephew Aaron bought a fine townhouse
in Eden Prairie and he'll be moving in to it this weekend. We're very proud of this young man and wish him the best in his new digs. He's just across the bridge, 10 miles from our house now. . . might get to see more of this hard-working chap.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Magic, witchcraft, science, imagination? We don't care.

For about 10 years now, wasps have been ruining our fun on the back barbecue deck. There are a couple of pot lights recessed into the overhang that make a perfect environment for a nest, or just casual buzzing and diving about.
Water-filled ziploc with pennies
We've battled the insects for years with a variety of conventional sprays and spritzes and bug bombs, with some success. Nonetheless Kathleen has always maintained a leery attitude when lighting and using the grill, retreating as soon as feasible back indoors.
This defeats the joy and dampens the fun of a casual summer barbecue and after we went to all the pain of sanding and refinishing the deck this spring, it would be a shame if we would be driven from it again by these annoying interlopers.
Stan lodged this complaint with our neighbor Mina in a casual exchange on the tarmac this late spring. As a retired nurse, we've consulted with her from time to time about our various physical maladies, always receiving good conventional advice from this experienced medical practitioner.
We had no idea that she also dabbled in witchcraft.
It's true that's she's shown up at our front door in a black cape and witch's hat, but that was just Halloween. We had no idea about this.
She approached the topic with caution, possibly because she didn't want to be laughed off the tarmac. "Now this is hard to believe," she began, "but a friend told me. . ."
Mina -- our wasp consultant
And so she explained, with a healthy dose of skepticism, what can only be described as a magical, mysterious practice that defies rational explanation. And like most things that have no earthly explanation, require blind faith. Here goes, my friends:
Take an ordinary ziploc bag, fill it with water, put in four copper pennies, tie it off and hang it up. Wasps, flies and other pesky insects won't come near.
Yeah, right.
Out of respect for his dear neighbor, Stan politely thanked the nice lady for her advice and promised that he would probably try it some time.
Yeah, right.
When he returned home, his good wife immediately shared the skepticism. But a quick Google of "ziploc wasp" brought a plethora hits. Of course, every cockamamie idea has refuge on the internet. But further study of the topic and anonymous testimonials of amazing results prompted Stan to suggest to his wife: "What the heck, what do we have to lose but four cents and a ziploc bag?"
"Our dignity," would have been an answer, but we've lost that before.
So about two months ago, with no fanfare so as not to attract any attention, a water-filled ziploc bag with four pennies in it quietly appeared on Stan and Kathleen Rolfsrud's back deck, right over their barbecue. No one ever needed to know about this.

It's been eight weeks. We don't even notice that ziploc bag hanging there anymore. We also haven't noticed any insects. We've barbecued and relaxed around the outdoor table, unbothered. Occasionally, a scout buzzes by and then disappears. That's it.
Go ahead and laugh. We can't hear you out on the back deck.
Wayne Kasich laughs. He writes from International Falls, where they know about bugs and mosquitoes and pestilence.
"The copper pennies in the baggie trick works really, really well -- if you spray the hell out of yourself with Off before you go sit underneath it."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Asian aggression. Japanese beetles devour the Chinese wisteria

Photos by Stan Rolfsrud
The dead one on the leaf reposes in mute testimony
to the effectiveness of the chemical product.
We're unapologetic. We've worked hard for three years to get that wisteria to rise 20 feet up the side of the house. So when we spotted the battalion of Japanese Beetles hard at work carving up the new leaves in exactly the same location they attacked last year, we mobilized our forces. There would be no mercy today.
In the garage poison control section, we found it right where we left it 12 months ago. The label says it all: Japanese Beetle Killer. A few well-aimed volleys later and soon the deck was littered with the corpses of the destroyers, their dreams of domination extinguished. Until the next time.
Our work done, we holstered the chemical and finished our beer, a time for pondering our role in the life and death struggle for control and survival.
Yes, they are beautiful. Until you see them climbing your Chinese wisteria, filling the leaves with holes. This
one is dead on the deck. So it is beautiful again.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Turnabout is fair play

Photo by Hai Dang (distracted driver)
You know that Google camera that takes all the pictures for Google Maps so that you can see into everybody's house? Hai saw it cruising through Jordan today and took this picture of the camera car taking pictures of him cruising on 169. There was someone in the car, it wasn't driving itself. . . yet.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

We came in peace with nothing but our imaginations. . .

The hobbits haven't been seen in the neighborhood for quite some time.
They appear to be better at gardening than painting.
Her mother and Jennifer had coaxed her and filled her in on some sketchy details, but mostly young Christina believed on her own that the hobbits were at home this day and might even come to the door for a visit. The possibility of seeing one was exciting for a young girl just to think about.
The lively nine-year-old was cautious, but firm. We would all make the pilgrimage to the hobbit hole beside our pond and knock on the round green door, just as soon as it stopped raining.

Christina wasn't scared, of course, but she didn't quite have the courage to step up and knock on the door herself. So Stan, who is more comfortable with these little people, knocked for her: "Anybody home?" he demanded.
There was no response from within, and so Stan looked to Christina for a reaction. She was quick and earnest: "Tell them," she said, "that we come in peace."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Salmon seekers return with fresh catch

Joe Daly with Captain Ozzie and a few of the salmon they wrestled from Lake Michigan.
Joe caught the Big One this time.
Our neighbors are back from their annual salmon fishing charter on Lake Michigan, by Two Rivers in eastern Wisconsin. Two days, one on rough waters and the next on glass, yielded 10 salmon, the biggest one at 10 pounds.
For five years Joe and Mina have ventured out with the legendary Captain Ozzie, a 25-year charter boat veteran, who never fails to find fish, and also give our neighbors timeless stories to tell, many about the grizzly ol' captain himself.

Ernest? Is that you? Welcome back!

Our neighbor Bill Cook hasn't been around much this spring, most recently he and Anne have been Up North taking care of some interests there. When Bill re-emerged, he was sporting a fine, full beard, giving him the robust Ernest Hemingway image that will add some class to the neighborhood. His neighbor, John Gerken, greeted the happy wanderer this morning and traded a few stories on the front lawn -- before the monsoon drove everyone indoors.

"And then I wrote a good one about
this old man fishing . . ."
While on the topic of Hemingway, Bill told about the bygone necessity of manually starting an airplane by standing in front of the propeller, grasping it firmly and violently yanking the engine to life. This dangerous procedure, Bill says, came to be known in honor of Ernest Hemingway, as "A Farewell to Arms."

Friday, July 11, 2014

Golden anniversary!

Congratulations to Becky (Stan's sister) and Al Jerdee  on 50 years of marriage == July 11.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dueling photographers

We had a lovely evening on the tarmac. Mina told us about her exploits with Joe on their fifth annual adventure to the Lake Michigan salmon beds. Meanwhile, Tom and Sandy suddenly noted that our neighbor Deb and Stan had the same color blouse and immediately began snapping photos and uploading them into the cloud from their magic phones. Here is the result of their husband and wife work product:
Tom's photo
Sandy's photo

Our local angle on the Great Gorilla escape

Wayne from Rainy Lake, International Falls writes:

Are you OK? Haven't seen a post for a few days.
My boat is being painted (one side) and the new decals will be put on ($600.00 worth) and it should be good to go. My first trip will be idling up the shore about 10 miles to one of the resorts looking at the high water affects. Still some debris floating downstream. More shows up after a windy day or evening.
Went down to check out the shack and drag the driveway to keep the weeds from taking over. Our propane tank (250 lb) was empty. It was almost full last time we stayed in November. Now I have to convince the propane company the problem was their regulator since it is their tank.
As Ruth Buzzy used to say, "It's Always Something"!
Post something so I know you are OK.

We're just fine, Wayne. Thank you for your concern. Glad to hear things are getting back to normal (whatever that is) Up North. Spent the morning in Mankato playing golf with Steve. Got back this afternoon in time for a nice chat with my mother and then a visit with a classmate from High School (Jeanne Pearson). Just got back and heard the following report on the news. I will fill you in later on other stuff. There's a tarmac party going on right now with the neighbors I want to attend.

(DATELINE, St. Paul) Three gorillas escaped their cage at Como Zoo today. Two were immediately recaptured without incident. However, according to reports, the "smart one," a 450-pounder named VIRGIL, got into the "enrichment closet" and had some crazy fun during his excellent day off, before finally turning himself in to zoo officials.
You the man, bro.

Monday, July 07, 2014

A foursome of summertime bratwurst sensations

Raw meat from the Wedge butcher shop. We parboiled them for five minutes before dropping on the hot grill.
 As a frequent victim of the golf course bar and grill version of "Bratwurst on a Bun," we're really not such big fans anymore of this warmish tubular mystery in its clear, crackly casing.
But we took a fresh look at this summer staple today, and now we're ready to start all over. Marcy's unusual birthday gift to Stan was an assortment of gourmet bratwurst selections from the meat market at the Wedge Community Co-op, in her hippy-dippy Uptown neighborhood we've all come to love.
Marcy gift-wrapped four stalwart raw meat products for her manly step-dad, proof positive that it ain't just lentils and kale south of Franklin Avenue.
This afternoon we ate our way through the first offering, a wonderful pork bratwurst creation of free-roam ground pork, pepper, nutmeg, ginger, salt and natural pork casings. We carelessly tore the butcher's label off so we can't report exactly what kind of pepper it was, but its modifying adjective ends in an "ed." The casings we just went ahead and assumed to be natural and pork.
We're assured that the anonymous donor hog, who made the ultimate sacrifice to this afternoon's dining experience, did so with a minimum of fuss and squealing, after spending a life-time rooting about in delirious pursuit of organic edibles and digestives.

Now it's our turn.
Looking ahead, we intend to consume a lovely Lamb Sausage Bratwurst (rosemary-mint-parsley-black pepper-green-onions at $8.99 a lb); a Chicken Bratwurst  (free-roam, white and red pepper, nutmeg, ginger, salt --  with pork casings) and for the finale, the basil Pork Sweet Italian Sausage Bratwurst, anise, nutmeg, fennel, etc., at a mere $5.99 a lb.
We're grateful to Marcy for expanding our bratwurst horizons; we have so much to learn and ever more to appreciate. And we promise to never again eat another spinning bratwurst from the golf course bar and grill.

A beer is required. Samuel Adams is preferred. 

Sunday, July 06, 2014


Our grand nephew, Hunter Underwood, is shutting down the opposition in West Des Moines these days as the Boys of Summer move through the schedule. According to his grandmother (who we think took this picture), Hunter is the "go to" pitcher when it is time to close out the game. He'll be 14 in September and has earned the nickname "Thunderwood" for his mighty relief work.