Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year fom Kathleen and her brother, Dan.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Today's report on our youngest

A week ago Stan and Jennifer enjoyed lunch at the Day by Day Cafe in St. Paul.
They agreed to live One Day at a Time.
Her cheerful spirit is quite contagious.
Two weeks ago, our brave daughter Jennifer underwent surgery for breast cancer. She had endured months of chemotherapy leading up to it.
Jennifer searched hard to find the right surgeon.
She found her, thinks she's the greatest: Dr. Margit Bretzki.
The surgeon was quite pleased with the procedure and its outcome, and now we are too.
We enjoyed Christmas with all three girls and their loved ones; it was great seeing Jennifer in the midst of traditional activities at our house. She even had enough energy to stay up late, after others had left, to have cheesy scrambled eggs and a movie with her mom.
Jennifer saw her much-admired surgeon again today and was judged good to go for a couple more weeks before checking back.
It has been a Happy Holiday in the truest sense and we're most grateful.
We'll continue to take this one day at a time, thank you all for your support and good wishes.

But wait, there's more!

Organizing continues in a century's worth of family miscellaneous in Marysville (see post below):
A diligent and persistent Solveig writes of today's surprises and sends along photographic proof:

She writes:
After the amazing umbrella fun with Ella and Will, I didn't expect anything today. I returned to the "back-bedroom boxes" and got into sorting: Historical/Significant/Valuable; Trash; Donate; Recycle; and Shred. As you might recall, the Shearer newspaper people don't toss Evidence or Records or, well, Paper.

I'm a good hour into the not unpleasant, but laborious activity when JACKPOT!!

Yup, $60 tax free, all mine, surprise cash. Energy renewed, I continue, knowing this is today's surprise, thank you very much, Aunt Marilyn.

So imagine my surprise when I open another innocuous envelope and find $81.37!

The third envelope on the lower right is labeled "$5.00 odd money," and contains a $2 bill and six Kennedy half dollars. Oh, and another half hour into the project, $3.50 in an unlabeled envelope.

The evening's not over. Who knows?

On adventure in Marysville,

Monday, December 28, 2015

Today's find

It’s raining in Marysville, Ohio where Solveig and Bill continue the organizing and rehabbing of the grand old Queen Anne housing Bill’s family estate. As they left for lunch, Solveig reached for an umbrella and pulled out one that said “McKinley Hobart” on it.

As they walked, Sosie enjoyed the smooth feel of the wooden handle and wondered, whose umbrella? Where were they in their life? After they ordered our fish and clams, she googled "McKinley Hobart campaign umbrella." 1896. Inauguration, March 4, 1897. Last one sold on EBay for $600.

They will be there for another 12 days before returning to California. Will there be more surprises?Any baseball cards?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

"Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. . ."

The neighbor grandchildren paid close attention to Stanta's every word. Lucy, 5, used to be afraid of Santa.
Not any more. With the confidence and courage of a new kindergartener, she convinced her brother Cameron,
age 3, to join her for a candid conversation with the old gent. Photo supplied by Grandma Sandy Story.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,  
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;  
Clement Moore

Snow Cats

Stan Rolfsrud

Today's News

We got a couple of inches of snow this morning, the Day After Christmas -- the first reasonably fluffy snowfall of the season. Our faithful volunteer paper carrier and neighbor broke trail to get us the news; Stan's now deep into the NY Times crossword. City plows have made the first sweep over a tricky mix of ice, water and snow that promises a residue of worry if we don't get sun to promptly burn it off. We get a lull this morning, then more precip this afternoon.
What's a four letter word for warm inside? Starts with C.
Not cocoa. That's five letters.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas from all of us

Maxwell, Dan, Marcy; Stan, Katie, Jennifer, Emily, Missy
Christmas 2015
The people at Fruit of the Loom say you shouldn't give underwear to just anybody for Christmas. If you're family, apparently, anything goes.

Sure, we got tons of ordinary stuff at our annual gift exchange this afternoon, but we had some highlights too. Our new legal adult got a bottle of Muscato -- from his mother. Emily's artwork was printed onto a pillowcase and given to her aunt Jennifer.

A couple honorable mentions: Kathleen went out of her way to score a special toilet paper holder being admired (photo at right) by Emily, Diane and Missy. It was Missy's must have item, now her bathroom is complete.

See a very useful item in Minnesota (below) for someone who wants to walk outdoors whenever possible. Notice the nose hole and the side breathing vent. Excellent. 

Now hopefully he won't be mistaken for a terrorist.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

and children of all ages. . .

Anne Drees was on Stanta's Very Good list tonight. He liked it a lot when she squealed like a little girl at his arrival. He was kept busy with Mrs. Claus tonight, making the rounds in the neighborhood on the most pleasant evening in memory. Then home again to get ready for tomorrow's events.
We're excited.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Our Neighborhood Christmas Party

Our December Calendar
For the record, the guests loved Katie's wine choices. . .
We had a nice turnout last night; 16 neighbors gathered for a Christmas event and stayed for laughter and good times. That's the happy part.
Meanwhile, Birdie was upstairs examining the host gifts left on the dining room table. Cleverly using a combination of chairs, she apparently mounted the table unseen and worked through an entire box of Russell Stover candies. As you know, chocolate is toxic to dogs.
By the time we discovered the accident, Birdie was well into a purging cycle, keeping Kathleen (Birdie's preferred nurse) up all night.
The vet cleared her today, pumping some water under her skin for extra hydration. She's running about again, looking to find other Christmas goodies.

By the time we got the camera out, Lee and Tami and Lisa had left. These folks made it well past bedtimes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

And 7 Deadly Zins

We're giving a holiday party tonight, and though she's no wine drinker, Katie drew the job of picking up a half dozen bottles of red wine that guests might like, you know, merlots, pinots noir and zinfandels. Since she's no expert and has no favorites, if the sommelier isn't handy, she just goes by interesting names. So tonight we have a nice 2013 Velvet Devil merlot, a 2009 Barrel Aged Toasted Head pinot noir as well as a lovely Angeline. Then there's the surefire 2012 merlot with the promise "Murphy Goode."
Guests start to arrive at 6:30. Time for Katie's picks to breathe.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Jennifer's Orders

Sure sign of recovery: an appetite for Mom's scalloped potatoes. We cut up the potatoes and stuck 'em in the oven while the Vikings were cutting up the Bears today. Mmmm Good all around. Delivery to Dundas tomorrow.
(Scalloped potatoes are always best after a Day of Rest.)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Hooray! We've done it

For those of you following the saga of the floppy faucet, you'll be glad to know we had a breakthrough this afternoon. Teamwork and the application of liberal amounts of penetrating oil and silicone spray loosened the nut enough to allow Matt's spanner sufficient purchase to wrench it off.
We removed the entire single hole Grohe faucet assembly (photo not available) and then reconstructed it, upside up on the counter top, then took it apart again and reassembled it upside down while under the sink.
With Kathleen squeezing a man-sized pair of adjustable pliers above and Stan grunting and turning the copper nut below, the reworked assembly zipped up the center shaft and now has been firmly tightened against the silestone, hopefully making the faucet shaft stand erect and firm for the rest of our days here.
What is left to do is a leakproof reconnection of the waterways and the spray device. Let's see, was that hot on the right and cold on the left?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Marcy! Run for the border!

After Marcy delivered our grandson Maxwell 21 years ago, she craved something from Taco Bell. Her sister Jennifer delivered it promptly to the maternity ward.

Jennifer, at left, with her sister Marcy and her nephew Max
Last evening, a text message arrived in Jennifer’s hospital room, where she was recovering from that day’s major surgery. She was surrounded by two caring friends and a night nurse. The text came from Marcy, who was finishing a light meal at a small restaurant nearby.

As a little joke with a nostalgic twist intended to cheer her suffering sister, Marcy texted: “Would you like something from Taco Bell?”

Jennifer was medicated, in pain, recovering from a wrenching experience, but the surgeon had not removed her sense of humor. “Wait,” she instructed her helper. “Let’s order something.”

The conspirators went to work. Marcy well knows that her sister favors an organic menu, that Jennifer has rules about her vegan diet. Marcy was also ready to do absolutely anything for her dear sister, to bring her any form of comfort in her trying hour.

The conspirators, and now the nurse, knew all that. They pressed their advantage.

“Let’s order a chimichanga,” one laughed. “Yes, but wait, that’s not enough, she might not believe it,” Jennifer joined in, knowing her sister and now fully in the spirit of the evening.

So very soon, dear, sweet gullible Marcy received a brief text that directed: “Yes. J wants a chimichanga and order of cheesy potatoes. Thnx.” By now the hospital room was shaking with laughter and the nurse had joined in.

Horrified, Marcy studied the text. There she was in St. Paul, a strange land, and had no idea where a Taco Bell might be let alone how she could get there. What had she done? How could she fail her hurting little sister, in her time of need -- who up until now had no appetite?

When the phone eventually rang in the hospital, everyone there knew it would be poor, anxious Marcy, suffering with a problem that was of her own creation. As it rang, the room erupted again. Jennifer was in mortal danger of ripping her stitches.


This morning, Jennifer called her mother. It was early. Jennifer reported having a good night’s rest. We were so happy. But when Jennifer started telling her hilarious story, Kathleen could not contain herself. She was in tears again, only happy ones this time, literally hooting at the retelling of this tale of daughters pranking each other.

The days of pre-surgical tensions have been broken.  We have a long road ahead, but if laughter is the best medicine, we’re well on our way to recovery.

Read this blog. It's educational. You can earn points.

Yes, that's a word. The on-line dictionary awarded it 24 points.
Sandy Story plays "Words with Friends," an on-line form of scrabble. She also reads this blog.
Yesterday she earned 24 points by using a word that she learned on this blog, what's more, she was kind enough to acknowledge it with a thank you photo and note.
That's our mission: educating the public, one word at a time.
(Still don't know the meaning of mungo? Pay attention this time. It's the scrap lumber and etc that are left over from a work project that could still possibly be used for some future endeavor. Your garage is full of it. We don't just make this stuff up, folks, and the on-line dictionary proves it.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Rearranging for Christmas

Anne Tatum Hiebel: Oh my --- what a "HOOT" to see these, Dorothy, Harvey, myself and Jim Navartil in the front of the stage during one of our "Plays" . Yes, it was the very best highlight of the year. LOVED it, was SOOO much fun, and getting out of our regular classes to "rehearse" What FUN!! thanks for the memories. Merry Christmas
Advent signals the start of the Christmas season for most Christians. For us, it was Dick Williams.

The most powerful politician we knew was the School Board Chairman of District 460. When his 1950 Studebaker arrived at our one-room schoolhouse — towing a load of planks and concrete blocks borrowed from the Lampert Lumber Co. of Alexandria — it was a life-changing event.

We immediately started rearranging.

The biggest social event of the year in our young eyes was the annual Christmas Program, when parents and friends gathered to see eight grades of bashful children courageously recite poems, perform skits, play flutophones, sing carols and then await the arrival of Santa Claus for the equal distribution of brown bags stuffed with peanuts, ribbon candy, chocolates and a big red apple.

The tiny schoolroom barely accommodated the two dozen students enrolled during the year, but no matter. The erection of a proper stage of wooden planks on concrete piers was deemed essential. We scrambled to push and squeeze our ancient wooden desks, with their historic carvings and obsolete inkwells, into an even more efficient configuration. The new room arrangement allowed space for the stage to rise behind a magical curtain of bedsheets, wire and safety pins. It also rendered any serious study of spelling words or improper fractions impossible.

It was the most wonderful time of the year.


Last night we rearranged the family room. We faced the sectional the other way, moved a buffet table to the far end, set the chairs to face the Christmas tree and hung the wreath on the fireplace.

Up welled the same old feelings, a vague sense of anticipation. Couldn’t help thinking of Dick Williams and the beginning of the excitement.

It’s still the most wonderful time of the year.

Lorlee Bartos I remember it well. What year is that picture? Looks like Tommy Navratil in the gold shirt and Roger Williams next to him. And Sweet Mary Kluver in the green plaid. Not recognizing the others. Irene Marquette in the green in the upper photo. Love the back of the heads of the mothers and fathers. And wasn't Mr. Williams also Santa Claus?

Never a good position . . .

Bi-focals and vertigo cloud the view looking upside down between the pipes.
Today's crisis: The faucet doesn't leak, but it wobbles. Not good.
Looking up under sink. Camera doesn't improve insight if
you don't understand the problem in the first place.
The problem defies solutions. Fifteen years ago a pragmatic installer must have inserted a temporary block to steady the faucet in a too-large plywood hole under the granite. That lash-up worked for quite awhile, but last night the little rotting plywood block finally fell out of service with a clunk, and now the problem facing that nameless installer 15 years ago has been inherited by the hapless
homeowner in sweatpants. His pathetic tool kit includes a pillow, makeup mirror and an assortment of wrenches, none of which are the right size to grasp copper plumbing nuts.
It ain't happening.
This is no plumbing emergency, no drips, no smells, no puddles. Just a floppy faucet in need of firming. But how?
We'll see if good friend Matt has better tools and bigger ideas.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

It was really huge, the best, and Mark's a winner

Brewmaster Jeff Engstrom brought just six bottles of his prized Dawson Multi-grain Red to Mark and Vanessa's Christmas Party tonight and unintentionally created an awkward situation. Partygoer Bob Suel showed up late, then sulked about missing out on Jeff's special treat. Other than that, laughter and good times prevailed at the season's best holiday get-together, featuring Vanessa's legendary spread of goodies. Tonight's gathering also gave attendees a chance to toast the host for a national achievement announced this week. Mark is the editor of the Chaska Herald, which was named second in a listing of the best newspapers in the country, under 10,000 circulation (Yes, Virginia, there still are newspapers.). At right, Kathleen congratulated the winner, still glowing from the honors.

Unsie and Stan are the same height. . .
when he's seated.

Meanwhile, Unsie, who has been with the newspapers forever, asked Stan to please check out her Facebook page. There are some really good pictures there, and you can like a 17-year-old poodle named Bettina.
The former colleagues discussed the efficacy of building better social media readership by just making things up. She  also reminisced about the day Stan interviewed her for a job in the late 80s and, she claims, mostly talked about his three teens and their hair dryers. Stan remembers Unsie complaining that her clawfoot tub was so large she couldn't brace and so kept slipping under water and was unable to read in it.
Eventually Stan got around to offering her a job.
She's still there.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Another publisher joins retirement association

The sweet mailroom lady wearing antlers played "The Old Gray Mare" on her harmonica.
Last minute adjustments kept us from getting a free meal at Steve Messick's retirement celebration in Red Wing yesterday, but we didn't regret coming.
Friends, family and co-workers gathered for a mid-day luncheon and program that had to conclude in time for the pressmen to crank out the day's newspapers.
It's the kind of coordination that Messick got used to after managing newspaper deadlines and demands for 40 years.
When you retire as newspaper publisher, you don't
actually get your story on the front page. But you do
get a fake one presented at your luncheon.
Most of that time, Steve ran the Rivertowns newspaper group, comprised of papers surrounding the Hastings Star Gazette, Pierce County Herald and Red Wing Republican Eagle. When we arrived at the front door yesterday, employees were about to give testimonials lauding his years of supportive leadership, where nothing was beneath him, always ready to pitch in for successful outcomes. The group was clearly fond of their departing boss, no pretense about their affections.
For his part, Steve acknowledged this loyalty, many sticking with the operation for over 20 years. "Either this is a wonderful place to work," he quipped. "Or I just had low expectations."
We worked for many years with Steve, managing a parallel newspaper operation in the Twin Cities suburbs. In later years Steve also managed a printing plant and we negotiated our contracts and services with him, always with the greatest of integrity and professionalism. We're proud of our association with him and said so.
Our part yesterday was to deliver Steve's benefits package on behalf of the Association of Retired Publishers: A bottle of Jack Daniels.

If you want to know more, Hastings Star editor Chad Richardson wrote up Steve's life story, a well-done bit of journalism about his boss. Here it is:

Thursday, December 10, 2015

We have the meats

Kathleen and Stan are driving to Red Wing Publishing today to celebrate the retirement of old friend and chief executive Steve Messick. (There's a free buffet luncheon involved.) First stop is the Drees farm to pick up a care package of dressed venison to deliver to the carnivores in Matt’s extended family. On Monday, fresh jerky and deer stick samples were offered, direct from the Drees garage beer refrigerator Monday, and proved to be quite tasty with a medium-light texture, as prepared by Von Hansen’s Meats. All in all, the Drees hunting cartel turned in a respectable year. Matt’s grandson shot his first deer ever, his son, Jimmy (with his dad, above), shot three -- and then reported that his father shot at one, but missed.
Grandpa doesn’t remember that.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Muffins by Marcy

Using her Great Auntie Bubbles' recipe and her mother's kitchen, Marcy whipped out a batch of pumpkin bread baked in muffin cups for her sister Jennifer today. Stan tested a sample and, though Marcy had made her usual minor modifications, pronounced them worthy of immediate delivery to Northfield.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

'nam chopper team reconnects

Maynard Keller’s Veterans’ Day photos on his Facebook page were copied and pasted on this blog a month ago. His post told of his service in Vietnam as a mechanic and door gunner. Turns out he also did some flying on the QT, more on that later. This is about a very small world.

Maynard attended the one-room Oak Grove Country School near Alexandria, where all six Rolfsrud children matriculated in the 50s. He was in Sosie’s grade. Ever clever, we nick-named him Mayonnaise. The November Facebook posting by Maynard brought us up to date on a name from our distant past.

Stan and Kathleen now live in a 55 and over townhouse community in Shakopee and share a common wall with Tom Story and his wife Sandy. Tom flew helicopters in Vietnam. When he read the blog post, he blinked. He thought he remembered Keller as the mechanic and door gunner he so often flew with during a four-month assignment at a repair unit where busted choppers were tuned-up overnight and made fly-able. It was the very same Maynard Keller, alright.

Tom test flew the repaired choppers and Maynard rode along in the co-pilot seat, clipboard in hand, taking notes on the fixes.

These night flights got boring and sometimes Tom would invite Maynard to take the stick. “He got to be a pretty good pilot,” his instructor recalled with a smile. Trouble was, all of Maynard’s training was at night, so during the day, well, Maynard got a bit disoriented.

During their four months working together, Tom gained a lot of respect for the Jefferson High grad’s mechanical skills and acumen as well.. . something our neighbor lays no claim to possess. Tom has since contacted Maynard and they have shared stories and memories.

Early education center for the Rolfsruds and Kellers.
It’s a small world and it was fun bringing two of the good guys back together for a bit.

Here’s a thank you for their service.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Meet the Flockers

These fine English leather Wallabee walking shoes have new life at a seasonal enterprise on the outskirts of Shakopee known as “Drees Trees.” They're now Matt's flocking boots.

Proprietor and Head Flocker Matt Drees customizes Christmas trees, ropes, wreaths and ornaments for the local population, using a traditional process involving sticky ingredients and a high pressure spray gun in a lash-up garage flocking gallery.

The overspray and blowback require substantial plastic drapery and protective masking from The Home Depot. The essential flocking shoes are provided by his thoughtful Red Wing brother-in-law, who enthusiastically endorses this reliable line of Clark’s footgear and keeps Matt in good supply.

That's Matt's actual beard. He did not flock it.

Sunday, December 06, 2015


The puffy sparrows by the suet tray are plump and appear to be in great shape. If this mild weather continues, they'll cruise through the winter without mishap.

Jennifer Lane is a wrap

September 9

Looking like a Christmas gift wrapped in excelsior and green trim, Jennifer Lane, the back yard project we have been monitoring as official sidewalk inspectors, is done for the year. Stuffed with sewer pipes, water lines and utilities, next spring, it will be covered in blacktop. We believe the street to be named for our youngest daughter.


Saturday, December 05, 2015

On the way home. . .

Hai handled the travel arrangements today and managed Stan a window and a friendly seat mate, above. She's from LA and was headed, of all things, to the Wisconsin Dells to party with friends. (You can do that in the Dells in the winter?) But the excitement came much earlier when the TSA pulled Hai and his backpack off the line for special attention. Agents pawed through his stuff, finally getting to the plastic bag containing the suspicious material, possibly with the same consistency as explosives. Today is Hai's son's birthday. The agents discovered puffy fresh pastries bound for his party. We had a safe flight.

Home soon

Leaving LAX at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. Home soon to a snow-free Minnesota.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Fedoras, cravats and campstools -- Gentlemen of The Beach

It was half past cocktail hour, but clearly Wayne and Virgil have too much class to flaunt the rules prohibiting alcoholic beverages on the Oceanside pier. That's probably ice cold lemonade in the Stanley Thermos by Virgil's black beach oxfords. Seize the Day, dudes.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Ahhhhh, that's the spot

An Oceanside, California pelican furiously beaked an under-wing itch today, perched nonchalantly on the lengthy wooden pier off Wisconsin Avenue. At right, Hai coaxed local knowledge from an old salt who knew some off shore fishing hot spots. Hai was directed toward the warmed water of a coastal power plant about five miles south. He'll return soon with his Hobie, bait, tackle and a spirit of adventure.
Meanwhile, a warship cruised past the 50s-style two-story malt shop at the end of the pier, probably headed toward nearby Camp Pendleton where Marines and Navy Seals train.

Ruby's malts are the best, according to a Wyndham representative working the pier.
The hamburger joint is open daily, 2000 feet from the shoreline.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Kitchen crown complete

The little kitchen in The Hotel California got crown moulding yesterday and the paint went on the ceiling and the moulding early this morning. The cutting and fitting of the crown was an ordeal, as expected of course, but Hai gave it a thumbs up today so it must be right. Next up is the completion of the Duncan Phyfe :) work bench in the garage. (Below)
Still thinking about the color for the wall above the wainscoting. Churchill Hotel White, with its subtle warm yellow influence, is a leading contender today. It should line up with the butcher block counter tops.