Sunday, May 31, 2015


The new 2015 robins are out, look just like last year's model, seems like there are more of them this year. This fledge perched on our back deck this morning, building strength and courage for the next leap.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pet of the Week

Save today's Minneapolis StarTribune Variety Section!

A congratulatory email has already poured in. Birdie was selected as "Pet of the Week" and there she is in glorious color on page E3.

Mom and Dad couldn't be more pleased. Birdie just went about her business as usual this morning.

Tom Story writes:
So proud when neighbors draw positive media attention.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Lorlee, are you okay?

After: White Rock Creek in Dallas today.
After what seemed like forty days of news reports about the flooding of Texas, we inquired of our Dallas friend if she was in need of an ark yet. Lorlee's post-diluvian response:

"Last night brought another five inches at my house -- I have had to do a bit of trenching where it comes off the roof, but still no ark needed.

"Not so for a lot of other people in lower areas. Some areas got 7-8 inches last night and areas that have never flooded were under water.

"Attached are two photos of White Rock Creek which is about half a mile from my house. The photo below was taken Monday after it had subsided after Sunday's rains. This is still higher than normal. The left channel is usually just barely a trickle and usually there isn't much water coming over the dam.

"The photo above was taken today and the creek is now just one big river.

"We have surpassed the most rain for any May and now stand at over 17 inches for the month and we have 2 days left. We are going for the wettest month ever. It has rained 58 of the last 88 days. Next week they are predicting sunshine."

Before: White Rock Creek on Monday

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A perfect day to bury your eggs

She's got her foreleg extended for extra leverage. Now push, push, push!
Most of the work is done by the hind legs,
lubricated with bladder water. Look
closely and you can see the leg sticking way out.
The typical hole is two to four inches.
It was 85 degrees today, optimal temperature for a painted turtle egg-laying party. They're cold-blooded, so it can't be too hot and it can't be too cold to get the eggs done just right.
Our expectant mother climbed up the bank, dug a hole just so in the clay and birthed her young-uns. It took hours to get the job done, we tired of watching from a respectful distance. There was a lot of digging and layering and mushing around, which was remarkable considering that she couldn't see a thing that was going on.
The eggs will hatch in August or September. . . if they aren't found and eaten by some predator. We'll have to mark the spot, because she laid them right in the middle of the path ringing the pond.

Pine Marten in the cabin

Our friend and neighbor Matt Drees returns from a Canadian outpost this morning with a tale:

He was alone, sleeping in a fishing shack on an Ontario lake and heard a noise he thought was a mouse, something he'd never experienced in the well-appointed cabin. Irritated, he got up to investigate. 
About the size of a cat, the pine marten (a member of the weasel family) is a worthy adversary, Matt learned. Apparently slipping through an open slit in a sliding window, the beady-eyed creature was deep into Matt's grub stake when his excellent adventure was interrupted by a half-naked man with a six-cell flashlight.
Matt relaxing in the cabin. We didn't get a picture of the pine marten.
You can google one.
Hard to say who was the most frightened, Matt said. Using a fishing rod in the semi-darkness, Matt eventually chased the wily pine marten into the screen porch. At that point, the panicked intruder actually leaped nose-first through the lightweight screen on the porch door, astounding its pursuer.
Shaken, Matt returned to his bed, unable to do much in the way of repairs. Remarkably, he was visited twice more that night by the highly-motivated, persistent pine marten, who had learned that a light screen is no barrier to an enterprising burglar.

Matt returns to the lake in June, armed with a roll of heavy-duty window screen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Missing, presumed dead

When we saw a Baltimore Oriole flitting through the nearby Black Hills Spruce we rushed out and got a feeder and some sweet nectar to try and hold this brightly-feathered star. Not a tweet since. We figure we placed the feeder in a location that we'd like. . . and so would a hawk, but not an oriole, apparently. The orioles have left this exposed feeder entirely to itself. It will come down shortly.
We can add this disappointment to the sudden loss of our beautiful goldfish, who survived the winter, only to be taken out by a pair of snappers, who used the pond for their vigorous mating ritual and stayed on . . . we think.
We will remove the bird feeder. . . and hopefully relocate the snappers if they are still here. A Tomahawk live trap has been ordered on Amazon and should arrive in early June. Anyone wishing to have a pair of healthy snappers relocated to their back yard should contact us. We're not considering turtle soup, but we're not happy about the predation either.

Missing. Presumed Dead.

No excuses

Five days ago Wayne bought twenty pounds of screws to finish his Rainy Lake dock rebuilding project. The weather has been nice, the No-Good Brother-in-law should be available so we're assuming this job is done.

Wayne responds with photos and an update.
After the 5x6's are cut flush the 2x10 fascia will be screwed on and the final touch of a 2x4 rail perimeter can be built. It will be 2" off the deck for tying up boats.
Project was delayed because there was a change order. Forty more planks were torn up and replaced. I was out voted on that decision by my no good brother-in-law and his sister or I would have been fishing on Memorial Day.

Monday, May 25, 2015

We remember our guys

"On behalf of the President, the Armed Forces of the United States and a Grateful Nation, I present you this Flag, a symbol of our Great Republic, for which our Departed Comrade has honorably served." --- words spoken by the Captain of the Color Guard, on two occasions, to the late Mrs. Florence Neilson.

These two American flags, folded crisply into the traditional military tricorne by two separate Rifle Squads at Fort Snelling, honor the memory of a father and his son. They are lovingly kept at our house, a treasured record of two lives risked in service to others.
We fly Old Glory on Memorial Day to salute our nation and those who served it -- but we especially remember Leonard O. and James John Neilson.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rocking to the Eagles, One More Time

The tall guy (grammy nominee and local boy makes good Paul Diethelm, google him) played a great slide guitar and riffed magically. A special permit was obtained from the county to allow five electric guitars on the same Chanhassen stage at one time, he said. Billy's white cane was not a prop.
Last night's Tribute to the Eagles combined two local bands for two hours of music everyone in the sold-out Chanhassen theatre still knew by heart. We joined a roomful of boozy boomers gathered for a retrospective of the famous band and were not disappointed. It took ten aging rockers to do it, but the "fake Eagles" delivered very faithful renditions of the familiar tunes. The intricate guitar work was spot on, the rhythms were right . . . and yes, sometimes the vocals got a bit ragged, but it was all there, everybody had fun and so did the performers, who knit together a tight show and left a tired audience, up past their bedtimes, wanting more.
The guys looked like their audience, one wore a wig, blind Billy Scherer used a cane and joked about deaf people, recent surgery necessitated a bald "stunt guitar" to aid a healing member who could sing but couldn't play yet. It was alleged that the group's "secret weapon," Rich Witteman, had voluntarily removed a testicle to help with the high notes in "I Can't Tell You Why."  Rich admitted he "wasn't using it anyway." He did have a wonderful falsetto and great rhythmic dance moves. Kathleen thought he looked like her brother-in-law, Bill Shearer. The drummer, who looked like Paul McCartney, was steady throughout.
You absolutely had to love these guys.
"Hotel California," "Desperado" and others brought everyone at the intimate Fireside Room to their feet. (The room was once the Bronco Bar, a popular venue for '70s bar bands, where Stan's brother Steve worked briefly as a bouncer.)
"Witchy Woman," "New Kid in Town," "One of These Nights," "Tequila Sunrise," we knew 'em all and helped out in the ballads where ever we could. "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "Life in the Fast Lane," "Lyin' Eyes," "Love Will Keep Us Alive." Perfect. Not always pitch perfect, but perfect nonetheless, and way good enough for rock and roll.
There was plenty to see on the busy stage because the band not only enjoyed the performing, but they obviously enjoyed each other and "Takin' It to the Limit, One More Time."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

We crash Muenster's taping

Is that an Apple Watch displayed on Mister Muenster's wrist? We didn't ask.
Matt Muenster, Minneapolis interior designer and the host of cable tv's Bath Crashers, was lurking in the Shakopee Lowe's store today, apparently seeking candidates for a free bathroom makeover for a future tv show.
The camera crew wandered here and there in the outdoor garden section, which confused your easily-confused blog host, who immediately incorrectly assumed Muenster was the host of Yard Crashers, a totally different DIY/HGTV show.
When he boldly approached Mr. Muenster for this photo and explained that he didn't own a yard, but liked watching his show anyway, the bath crasher didn't bother to correct him -- presumably the error has been made before.
In the end, Muenster didn't offer a yard OR a bathroom makeover.

Going to court. . .

Kathleen ran off with the neighbor this morning.
As promised, John Gerken wheeled his immaculate Cadillac onto our driveway at 7 a.m., to squire Kathleen to the Wm. Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.
That's where the pair will serve again on a mock jury, as young trial attorney wannabes try their case before a jury of volunteers.
John and Kathleen have performed this public service before, they get a kick out of the activity, and, we are sure, their measured judgment in the jury room after the trial is most appreciated by the organizers.
As luck would have it, our neighbors, Mr. Collier and Mr. Anderson, were also stirring about the neighborhood at 7 a.m. today and so observed Kathleen slipping into John's car and speeding away. Something new to discuss over breakfast.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

28 years of dishing it

He's the iron man of the newspaper company (along with a few others) but he's the only one who is also from the Iron Range. Patrick Minelli (a.k.a. "The Ranger") has served as editor of the Shakopee Valley News since Stan hired him exactly 28 years ago today.
That historic moment was noted today during free hamburgers and brats at the newspaper office. The entire ink-stained outfit is getting ready to move to new digs after 33 years at this location, so Stan went down to hunt memorabilia and shake some hands. He grabbed a Terry Redlin print he'd left hanging on the lobby wall, but was unable to find the legendary Stan Rolfsrud bobblehead that was given away as a prize in a football contest in 2003.
Digging deeper.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Graduate and his Proud Pop

Andrew Dang graduated "With Distinction" Sunday from the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences. Congratulations Andy! We're very proud of him, pictured above with his U of M Grad Dad, Hai Dang, on the mall. His graduate research paper, "HUVECs and RNA isolation" was cited in the program. This summer, Andy will be employed by Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, mentoring kids in preventive care.
Andy has always studied hard, which is what he did tonight after he opened our card, below.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What goes around, comes around

Somewhat ironically, cows won't eat milkweed. They won't eat thistles either.
Each summer our cow pasture in rural Alexandria would fill with both, rendering huge swaths untouchable to our pair of milk cows, one of whom always seemed to be named "Bonnie."
Joe Hiebel would come over on his orange Allis Chalmers with its sickle bar attachment to whack off the tops of the thistles, giving the grass a chance to fill in the gaps and the cows an opportunity to graze.
The milkweed was another story.
A hated childhood chore was pulling this sticky nuisance up by its evil root. The plant has a single, white tap root so pulling it up was easy enough, but the plant was so prolific it could take hours of bending to yank them, leaving thousands wilting in the the sun. We tried to get them all before they could blossom, but no matter, they always seemed to return in full force the next year.
What we did not know at the time was that the milkweed is the preferred, if not only, host for the monarch butterfly larva.
We know that now, and with the disappearance of the once-ubiquitous monarch butterfly, the former milkweed picker has been given a new chore.
Yesterday his wife brought home a small packet of seeds and he soon found himself carefully sowing and watering a future milkweed patch in a natural area at the edge of the lawn.
It was a bit hard to take it all in.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Doing the right thing

If you notice somebody walking around the track in the community center with a strip of toilet paper dangling from the waistband, what is the right thing to do? Do you:

A. Discreetly signal to the person that there may be something that's not right?

B. Do nothing. Don't embarrass the individual by calling attention to it?

C. Take a picture and put it on your blog?

"Come on, let me see you shake your tail feather. . ."

It was a wet one all day yesterday, things still have not dried out, including this dove's sorry-looking tail feathers - a bit reminiscent of John Travolta's bedraggled archangel outfit in "Michael."
We needed the rain, some bright sunshine today will bring out a surge everywhere. Looks like we received about an inch of water, don't have a rain gauge and Tom hasn't reported in yet. The pond rose an inch and a half. The zero stripe on the gauge (at right) was inundated this morning.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The secret to Wayne's game. . .

Here's a swing tip you won't get on the Golf Channel.

Wayne Kasich has four cords of wood to chop for his Northwoods sauna. He started the task the other day, his back tightened up, and then he went out and shot a blistering 91 at the local course.
There's still plenty of wood to split, so Wayne is hoping to go to work, seize his back up real tight and break into the 80s next time out.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Farmer and the Cowman

The wood duck, at left, and the green heron have decidedly different approaches to solving the same problem.
Though herons are very territorial,
Gary abides the duck's intrusion.
"Territory folks should all be pals."
They both want exactly the same thing, but the methods couldn't be more different. Another life metaphor played out in the pond.

The goal is a fat juicy minnow to suck down the gullet, the ultimate reward for diligence and hard work.

Wanda the wood duck aggressively dives deep into the water, again and again, energetically pursuing her goal. Mostly she comes up empty, but she's persistent, plunges repeatedly, reappearing elsewhere, eventually catching the prize. She works the entire pond, fails but won't quit, shakes the water off her feathers, catches her breath then returns to her labors.

On the other hand, Gary the green heron stays out of the water, wants to keep dry. An opportunist, he patiently waits for just the right moment, then strikes. He picks his spot judiciously, stands motionless, reliant on experience, cunning and keen perception. At last, if conditions are right and he has calculated correctly, opportunity approaches and he seizes his reward.

What is your style? How do you see yourself? Wood duck or green heron?


Rodgers and Hammerstein
The Farmer And The Cowman

The farmer and the cowman should be friends,
Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends.
One man likes to push a plough, the other likes to chase a cow,
But that's no reason why they cain't be friends.
Territory folks should stick together,
Territory folks should all be pals


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

OK. We'll move on

Tuesdays we think of Dave the most, that's when he'd roll up in our driveway around 10 a.m., a smile on his face, golf clubs and shoes loaded in the back and energy bars for two stuffed in his shirt pocket.
As we adjust our Tuesday routine, we're grateful for the passage that he chose for his Memorial.

"You can shed tears that he is gone,
or you can smile because he has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all he's left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see him,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember him only that he is gone,
or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what he'd want:
Smile, open your eyes, love and go on."

-- David Hawkins

Sunday, May 10, 2015

But he probably won't eat it. . .

Our adventurer hooked this 20-pound yellowtail amberjack just off the coast of Mexico this morning on a Mother's Day fishing charter. Details are sketchy at the moment, don't know what happened to the fish, because Hai doesn't eat fish, but loves fishing. (Did he catch and release? Did Charlie the Tuna get tossed back?) We enjoy seeing our hard-working newspaper technical engineer having a great time plying the Pacific waters. We're sure his mother does too.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Antiques-Roadshow-worthy find?

Please help.
Everytime "Antiques Road Show" comes on PBS on Saturday night, Kathleen invariably says "I will have to bring my vase in."
This will never happen, of course, so we are appealing to anyone with any knowledge whatsoever to help break this cycle -- which is as old as the popular PBS show.
Kathleen bought the vase somewhere (she is not sure - garage sale, Goodwill?) before we were married (Stan has no claim). She has never seen anything like it. It is china (you can see through it) and is painted with grapes on it and then overlaid with birds. There is no legible maker's mark anywhere that we can see, but there is a red seal with golden markings on the bottom (see below) that doesn't have any lettering that we can distinguish, even with a magnifying glass to assist out aging eyes.
 Kathleen is sure it is Asian. Not sure why. She's searched the internet and hasn't come up with anything yet.
Anything anyone knows about this would be quite useful, if nothing less that putting the matter to rest.
Thank you.
This is a closeup of the mark on the base. Looks like a red glob of wax with gold embedded in  it.

"Just jump in, Elmer. You're holding up the line."

Photo by Stan Rolfsrud

Friday, May 08, 2015

Katie hits home run with Twins desserts

Chilled strawberry and blueberry crepes and Minnesota Twins baseball, the perfect Friday night pairing, especially when the Twins are in a surprising winning mode. The red and blue Twins treats were presented on paper plates, of course, just like they would be at the ballpark. The best part: these specialty desserts would be 10 bucks apiece in the grandstand concourse.
Our neighbors, Joe and Mina, are big Twins fans as well, so they got twin take-out treats from Katie's Kool Koncessions too.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Gary's back!

Gary the Green Heron made his first appearance of the season this week, dropping in for a breakfast of minnows this morning. Kathleen watched as Gary made himself at home, choosing the best spot on the pond, Turtle Island. The painted turtles don't mind, there will be no sunning today anyway, just much-needed rain. Shakopee was largely by-passed during two regional rainstorm events earlier this week, so we're hopeful today's forecasted action hits us big with an inch or so.
By the way, Gary is named to honor Gary Klatt, the most intelligent, cunning, fisherman Stan knows. (Coincidentally, our new neighbor is also named Gary, so we had some explaining to do.) The green heron is considered to be among the most intelligent of birds because it uses tools.

"Green herons are one of the few species of animal known to use tools. In particular, they commonly use bread crusts, insects, or other items as bait. The bait is dropped onto the surface of a body of water in order to lure fish. When a fish takes the bait, the green heron will then grab and eat the fish." Wikipedia.

Our green heron caught two ordinary minnows without a tool as Kathleen watched. We hope our two-dozen goldfish are now too big and smart for Gary. Our golden girls made it through the winter by hunkering down in the bottom of the pond, it would be a shame to lose them to a Texas snowbird.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The phlox help us to remember . . .

Whenever the phlox on the corner bloom, we're reminded of 2007 when we plopped Emily in the middle of them. While walking to the polls to vote in the school bond election today, we came upon this spring delight and remembered when she was oh so small.

Hidden in plain sight

Can you spot the hen? The drake, with his dark head, is easy to see. The coloring on the mallard hen is ideal for sitting on a nest and blending into dead vegetation.
We doubt our pair will put a nest here, they're just relaxing in the sun before we get the three days of rain forecast for the rest of the week. That's real weather for ducks, and we certainly need it.
A yard guy was here today, putting out the weed and feed stuff using an efficient contraption that does it all in one pass, including putting up the warnings for the dogs (Sorry, Birdie, Cuddles, Colby, Corky and Coco.) and reminding us why we are retired and paying association dues.
We enjoyed our coffee on the deck this morning, and rocked in our chair.