Saturday, August 30, 2014

A rainbow so big. . .

Photo by Kathleen Rolfsrud
A double rainbow so big, Kathleen's camera couldn't catch all of it! Hmmm. The rainbow seems to terminate at Mystic Lake casino. Should we????

Yup, that's my car alright...

When Joe Daly crossed the Golden Gate bridge two weeks ago, they took a picture of his car and sent a bill for $7.50 to his home in Minnesota. 
Our neighbor was bemused by the whole process  and brought over this printout as proof of what he thought was a bit of over-the-top technology. They've sent the toll bridge operators home for good.
Joe spent his adult life working near the Golden Gate, has relatives who painted on the bridge every day, so he takes a special interest in this iconic symbol of  San Francisco.
 He's happily retired now in Minnesota, has adopted the Twins and goes back West only when there is a good reason to do so. He'll mail the Golden State computer a check pronto for his recent passage, there's a big late fee and it knows where he lives.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lemonade anyone?

Meanwhile, on the reclaimed shores of Rainy Lake near International Falls where Wayne and Mary Ann have 1000 heavy sand bags deposited there by the National Guard earlier this year during high water:
The intrepid couple has decided to keep the bags and use them as fill for a reworked lakefront that one day will include some fieldstones and other amenities.
Stonework will hide the sand bag fill in this newly-
built up area of the lakefront.
They are making lemonade from the lemons. Here's a progress report:

Wayne writes:
We have reclaimed our waterfront. Lost count of sandbags at around 1000. Rock retaining wall on the right has to be restored. Mary Ann's cement mixer (last year's birthday gift) will be put to use.
If you are wondering where you put 1000 sandbags we made a decision to backfill the corner of the back yard that had sunk several inches. Cement mixer to the rescue. Field stones will be collected from a pit near our shack in the woods to build a wall to hold the sand. The bags won't be visible if all goes as planned

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

America the Beautiful

Photo by Stan Rolfsrud
Pedestrians in Little Saigon, Orange County, California.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Turtle Island Paradise is pure mungo

Neighbor Joe Daly stopped by the garage today wearing a "Now what the heck is he doing" expression.
We filled him in, he approved the project.
Our summer-long pond clean-up project has deprived some of the local creatures from much of their accustomed underwater shade as well as a convenient place for skittish turtles to relax in the sun, away from people. We've greatly reduced the muck, debris and dead material in and around the pond as we attempt to revive and re-oxygenate, but the unintended consequences may be that our fish, turtles and frogs aren't as happy with the new, cleaner situation.
We have also deprived Gary the Green Heron of some favorite lurking and fishing spots. He doesn't seem to come around as much any more.
Today we pulled out some garage mungo that has been waiting for a purpose and lashed together this raft. It's satisfying how that saved junk can at last be useful . . . even the buoyant foam snow toboggan that Grandma hasn't used since she took a tumble on it when Emily was four.
It took about an hour to cobble together the 9x7 island framework . . . it took longer because Jennifer has most of Stan's tools in Dundas, his power drivers, etc., so Stan was reduced to using an old hammer and bent nails. So even the nails are mungo.
Position may be adjusted
by pulling on the cords.
Assembly complete, we tossed the burlap covered raft into the water and left it there under the sweltering sun, intending to come back to the project later when it got cooler outside.  Layers of mud and sticks would make a nice camouflage finish. While we hid from the afternoon heat inside the house, Kathleen had a look out the window.
"Hey," she reported, "they're using it already!"
We glassed the area and sure enough, two mid-sized turtles had already clambered aboard the floating burlap base, checking out their new digs. We hope the scouts liked it and reported back to headquarters.
We've since covered over the burlap with natural flotsam, floated it out into the pond, and tied it to shore posts with 50 foot lengths of military grade green parachute cord.
Paradise Island awaits the guests.

Island Paradise. 
Fish hiding beneath, turtles sunning on top, and Gary waiting for someone to make a mistake. What could be better?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday's mail

Larry Veeder is Stan's cousin and the patriarch of an art dynasty.

Friday, August 22, 2014

It's a beautiful thing. . .

No one will ever see this again, but it now supports a roof that includes 16-inch wide boards milled from
Minnesota heartwood 100 years ago. 
The sad thing: Billy's magnificent framing will be covered with wallboard, never to be seen again.
Next, an engineered ridge board to support the roof.
Jen's broken down dormer under the 100 year old sagging roof has been reborn this week. Posts and beams, headers and hangers have been engineered on the fly, loads calculated, then members overbuilt, just in case.
There's no blueprint, no directions, just a master's experience and the courage to move forward. The resulting work is immaculate, with angles meeting perfectly, reinforcing and strengthening each other, solid and ready to defend this old house from the relentless, unforgiving forces of gravity, wind and storm.
Plywood seals the deal over the dimension lumber.
You would never say this out loud on the job site, but, confidentially, the man is a bit of an Einstein. (Thank you for keeping that close. We'd like to protect the reasonable rates.)
These photographs were made and are presented here to reassure Jennifer's mother that oppresive Minnesota snow loads will no longer threaten her daughter's security and also so that you can appreciate the soon to be hidden art of this industrious craftsman, this unsung Minnesota shipwright.
Meanwhile, on the main deck, two grunts finished gluing and screwing the subfloor to the engineered joists. The perfection of 4x8 factory sheets were made to fit to the irregular edges of a more organic structure. Finally, a 55 by 27 inch hole was opened for a future trapdoor, then closed with a temporary lid. Satisfied with his work, Jennifer excused her stepdad from the Dundas project, so that he can run off to California for a couple of weeks.
Jen's Old House, we are certain, is in good, competent hands.

Fruit cellar? Secret passage? Safe room? Treasure vault? A trap door can be very suggestive.
Jennifer's temporary living quarters are sealed on the other side of the wall.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The first of many more

Just a chip and a putt away.
As Summer Days dwindle down to a precious few, it's time to test Emily's new-found golfing skills in a real-world setting, not just on a practice green or driving range. Emily has had private lessons, but this would be her first time on a real golf course.
The soon-to-be third grader took full advantage of the 9-hole WatersEdge Course today, even squeezing Grandpa over to take the golf cart steering wheel for a time on No. 6. A veteran of thrill rides in a variety of amusement parks, the steep hills and valleys proved to be no big deal, as she gunned the little cart across the fairway.
Grandpa was pleased with the outing. Golf etiquette (be respectful, repair your divots and no yelling) was mixed in with an occasional pointer (keep your head still). It was a fun morning for both, and they agreed it should be repeated time and again.

No, Grandpa did not let her drive by herself.

Taking a new route

Casita de Pamalita
Lots of swimming and driving. Pam says the
grandkids were perfect companions, never asking
"Are we there yet?" They were just having fun with
grandma the entire time.
Ever want to just sell the house and the furniture, buy a Recreational Vehicle and hit the road with the grandkids? Well, our friend Pam is doing just that this summer.
She's back now from her first adventure in the new vehicle and it all went well. She's closing on the house sale in September, reducing her furniture and possessions footprint, then it's back into the Winnebago for parts yet unknown. She tells about it on her new blog. Click here and have a look at the reinvention of a really beautiful friend, and admire her courage and sense of adventure.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Should be good for a couple more seasons

Usual reinforcement solution. The shaft collars are shot.
When you got your first pair of four-buckle black overshoes in Grade School, you were officially a Big Boy. Little boys had only three buckles on their snow boots. And only pussies wore boots with zippers.
Remember these?
Those popular sturdy overshoes (at right) have all but disappeared. Lately Stan's been using some modern "barn boots" for messy outdoor chores. You have to remove your street shoes to squeeze in, so you don't want to spend too much time working in them because there's no support, and besides, though the uppers and soles are holding up okay, the Chinese collars have deteriorated at the tops of the shafts.
Monday Stan thought a pair of actual overshoes (ones that fit over shoes) would be real nice while working the muddy wet edges of the pond. He'd earlier noticed some bright safety yellow pull-on "slush boots" at Lowe's that seemed a good solution. And they were very cool-looking too, with  dashing black straps and buckles on the sides. (Lower right photo) Unfortunately, it turned out, Lowe's cool yellow overshoes only go up to size 13, certainly not big enough to slip over Stan's street shoes. (He's a big boy now, ya know.)
Found these on-line.
Very cool. $101.
Not cool.
But Wal-Mart never disappoints when it comes to work stuff, so Stan drove there next. Nothing, just the same style barn boots he already has. . . now for $30.
Lowe's Slush boot,
$25, but too small for
Big Boys
Disappointed, Stan drove home and got out the big roll of duct tape. His rebuilt slip-ons are not exactly four-bucklers, but Stan will add in some sturdy arch supports and he can still feel like a Big Boy while wearing them.
At least they don't have zippers.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Smoker's Heaven

Our choice for the best fresh-air smoking lounge in the Twin Cities area is this balcony overlooking the paddock at Canterbury Park. Smokers are afforded this magnificent view, which now includes a look at the new Exhibition Hall (photo at right) being constructed adjacent to the grandstand. The concrete two-story windowless pavilion will be used for trade shows, weddings, parties and conventions.
 We don't smoke, but if we did. . .

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Fisherman

Gary the Green Heron

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The early bird gets the . . . Quiche

You're looking at two of the last slices of fresh-baked Quiche available in the greater Prior Lake area today.
There was a close call this morning at The Edelweiss Bakery in Prior Lake.
The first sign of trouble was the jammed Farmer's Market in full swing just down the street. Outside the popular local bakery there were people eating breakfast at the sidewalk tables, and the inside was packed wall-to-wall.
Kathleen pressed on. Her mission? Fresh-baked Ham and Cheese Quiche and Chocolate French Donuts for two, to go. Any Quiche?, she asked hopefully.
"We have three slices left," the young man said.
"Wow, that was close," Kathleen thought to herself. "If I would have stopped at the Farmer's Market first, we would have been out of luck."
It's 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning. There's one slice left at The Edelweiss.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sometimes you're the engineer, sometimes you're the caboose

This owner of a four-wheeler figured out how to have some fun with it, he's cruising around Dundas today.
It's Dundas Days this weekend, the town's annual celebration that was postponed because of an incredibly wet June.
The weather was perfect today for a Barrel Train Ride or just snooping around the huge benefit Garage Sale, where nothing is marked, you just make a free will donation for your items on the way out.
Jennifer and Stan took a break from Jen's Old House and went over to the sale to look at a steel fire door for the garage, but passed on it for now.

Even the kitchen sink.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Headers, LVLs, king posts, trimmers and such

Look closely at Billy's left hand. That's an impact screwdriver, a dream machine.
Work continued today at Jen's Old House. We installed a micro-lam sandwich over the kitchen, supported the staircase opening, put a header over the front door and rebuilt rafters.
Beefy LVL eliminates need for
a support post at foot of staircase.
Tomorrow there's a new window to be installed upstairs, big sliders that qualify as an egress window that will accommodate a fireman.  We'll also build a header for a patio door.
Stan suffered a serious case of tool envy today, he used Billy's impact screwdriver. What a dream, it effortlessly drives long screws, unlike a normal power screwdriver that requires muscles and effort. Tonight he suggested to Kathleen that perhaps she should invest in one. Hai interrupts and says, "I've got one!" Sure enough, Hai doesn't have that many tools, but he's got an impact screwdriver.
So that settled it.
And Stan's not waiting for Christmas this time.

Old and new. The old wood will be cut out, resulting in a wider door opening. . . and a straightened
floor over head.

He works for NASA!

We're not quite sure what to make of this photo that Briggs and Lynn posted on their summer activities blog page recently. They spent the Fourth of July on the Washington Mall, the lucky stiffs. Check out the further adventures of our niece and her husband by clicking on their blog, at right.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

An uplifting day in Dundas

The A Team
Jen, Stan and Billy under the newly-leveled floor.
For over 100 years, the forces of gravity have been pushing down on Jennifer's second story floor. The rough-cut 16-foot timbers have relaxed and drooped. Today they got their comeuppance.
Fifteen brand new timbers (11 percent off this week at Menard's) are being "sistered" to the vintage floor joists, thereby raising the center of the floor a couple of inches and creating a sensation of solidarity that a dance hall operator could envy.
Should be good for another 100 years.
"Einstein" gets a closer look. Notice the
doubled up timbers, old and new. Also, notice the
lack of a top plate supporting them. That will be
remedied as well.
Billy arrived this morning with two red bottle jacks and a plan for reversing gravity. There's no exact science to doing this in an old house, but "Einstein" screwed the sisters tightly together on one end, then Stan and Jen jacked up the loose end, slowly, slowly, as Billy worked towards them, screwing the sisters together, taking full advantage of the powerful leveraging that was forcing the sway out of the old timber. . . all the while making an awful racket with his impact tool. We spent much of the day with our arms uplifted and ear protection strapped on.
There's still plenty of character left in Jen's Old House, don't worry. But a thorough re-framing job is what's called for to make her further improvements worthwhile.
It's going good. Thanks for your interest. Much more to do.
We knocked off at 3 p.m. today, Billy had another client to see, Jen has a pizza party at the Red Barn, and Stan has a bottle. . . of Advil.

The new wood is screwed tight to the old wood. The old wood is wider and thicker than a modern 2x8, making an
interesting project. The little white lines are from the lath and plaster ceiling that was removed earlier.
Jen's temporary living quarters are behind a wall on the right, in the "new" addition.
This is the original part of the house, using old building methods that are quirky and definitely not up to today's code.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Einstein and Co. on a roll

We're not kidding. We're working with Einstein.
We've posted the building permit in the window
and await inspection.
He's leveling a floor, straightening a bulging wall and taking the slump out of a tired roof. He's Jennifer's new contractor and he's very good. How good? Well, the name on his truck and the shirt on his back says "Einstein."
No, really it does.
Stan and Jennifer have been hauling dimension lumber on a borrowed trailer, notching rafters, finding tools, plugging extension cords and  anticipating needs for the past two days. . . anything to make Billy more efficient. We don't want the Dollar waiting for the Dimes.
Tomorrow morning we're going to take a two-inch sag out of the middle of the second story floor. . . using a jack, loaded nail gun, fifteen 16-foot 2x8s . . . and extreme leverage. 
How can you do that? No problem, Einstein figured it out.
We finished work a bit earlier than expected today. Stan was thinking about a cold beer and a quiet evening back home after two days of non-stop bending, lifting, squeezing and humping. Not Jennifer, no break for her. 
"How about taking the kayak down the Cannon River?" she proposed.
Shuddering inside, Stan politely declined the invitation.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Back Splash!

Count the obstacles on just one of the three walls that were tiled today.

Tricky cuts were no match for Virg's spiffy new tile saw today, as he swiftly shaped edges and corners around a multitude of obstacles spread out along the backsplash in his Eden Prairie kitchen.
Kim and Stan watched as he fit together tiles for two corners, a window, a sink and a dozen electrical outlets. . . they were busy as well, mixing and smearing thin set and pushing the tiles into the proper place.
Virg and Kim chose a gorgeous stone a while ago to complement the new kitchen granite and cabinets. Today we got the first look at the tiles in place. . . and it is a beautiful result.
You'll see the final reveal when the grout is in, but that will wait until after Kim's business trip to Bainbridge Island.


Saturday, August 09, 2014

Old Baldy

This is not a view of the back of Stan's head while standing too close under the porch light. It is tonight's super moon breaking through some passing cloud cover.

Sleep-over at Jennifer's

Lots of 2x6s to bolster the rafters. LVLs to build up the second floor. Then there is a balloon wall to straighten.
You get the idea. Fortunately, help is on the way.
The Lampert Lumber truck dumped a load of dimension lumber on Jennifer's front yard Friday afternoon, the first step in the next wave of operations at the little fixer-upper near Northfield.
An expert contractor will take over on some structural issues next week, with Jen, Stan and friends already busy prepping the job site for maximum productivity.
Let's Go!
There was more work to do Saturday morning as well, so Jennifer invited Stan to stay over last night and avoid the 75 mile commute to Shakopee and back. He did so and got to enjoy an evening with her local friends around a backyard campfire. Below, Tasha's daughters made S'mores after barbecued burgers and onions on the brand new grill.
It was a beautiful moon-lit night, nice breeze, no mosquitoes, good friends and a cold beer.
Peter, Paul and Mary didn't show so no Kumbaya.
We were up and at 'em bright and early this morning.

Gabby, the S'more machine, perfects another creation, at right.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

New shoes from an old store

Kitty-corner from the famous Chicago Lake Liquors, Roberts Shoes has been a fixture here for
77 years. Store will close when the shoes are gone.
Stan got these size 12 beauties from Ricki Roberts,
whose Grandfather founded the store.

Need a size 22 Converse? Roberts has a pair.
Roberts Shoes is closing after 77 years at the busy Chicago and Lake intersection in South Minneapolis. There's a big sale on until all the shoes are gone, so today Stan snagged a pair of $67 work shoes (25 percent off regular price) while running an errand to Dan and Steve's condo, which is just a block away in the old Sears building.
Flat-footed Stan's going to be working construction for the next month and the eighth consecutive pair of his prescribed New Balance 990s ($179 plus $25 for Tacco inserts, never on sale) just wouldn't cut it.
Now he's got a pair of sensible work oxfords with $25 arch supports inserted under the foam sole pad, just the thing for the busy Dundas job site.
Jennifer's contractor starts work Monday and Stan has been assigned to be his gopher, a job he learned at a tender age, handing roofing nails to his father. Stan was bare-footed at the time, working on top of the lake cabin.
Then there's the upcoming two-week painting project in California, which will involve days of standing.
Howard said the new shoes would "wear like iron," and he should know. He's been selling shoes for decades where there's "Hardly a foot that we can't fit."
There's an interesting article on the store's history in the StarTribune. Here's the link.