Sunday, December 25, 2016

Story Grandchildren. . . believers all

Lucy, age 6, front and center, isn't at all afraid of Santa anymore. Her younger brother, Cameron, following her lead, isn't either. This was not always so. A wonderful exchange took place between the little one and the old gent last night, culminating in her receiving permission from the ultimate authority figure (who checked with Mom just to be sure) to have a best friend stay with her overnight.
The neighbor's grandchildren have hosted the Clauses every Christmas Eve for 15 years. Hundreds of photos documenting this exist on albums and on line. It has been great watching the neighbors' grandchildren grow up and reading their achievements aloud from the Santa list that Grandma and Grandpa Story prepare, along with an assortment of gifts. Most of them have grown too big for Santa's aging knees, but they willingly take their turns beside him. We're sure they'll never outgrow believing in the magic of Christmas Eve and the anticipation and wonder of what is to come.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Early start for Christmas Day festivities

Grandma and her helper, Maxwell, tended the buffet.
With questionable weather looming, Kathleen moved our official annual family Christmas up 24 hours, to a good result. Twelve family members gathered and enjoyed ham and scalloped potatoes, a variety of salads and vegetables, and a blueberry pie.
We changed the format on the gift-giving, everybody simply brought three gifts -- new or used --which were randomly chosen by turns. Then a barter session ensued, as merrymakers improved their holdings, by swapping for more appropriate gifts.

Caught taking an early helping.

Emily and Christina got into Santa's closet and made a surprise appearance (above). Meanwhile, Birdie discovered an untended spinach/cheese loaf upstairs and helped herself to no bad result -- and spent the remainder of the holiday sprawled contentedly on the ottoman.
Tomorrow we'll let the winds come, the sleet, snow and rain pelt the city; we're happy to be snug at home with loved ones safe, finishing another wonderful Christmas season.

From left, Kathleen, Alex, Jennifer, Stan, Christina, Gabby, Missy, Tasha, Marcy and Emily.
Missing is Maxwell who is taking the picture because we don't have a selfie stick.

Christmas past




Thursday, December 22, 2016

Making Christmas bright. . .

Vance and Katie have matching hair so
we take this annual picture.
Okay. Just kidding about Ladies Night. Actually we enjoyed a nice sedate gathering of most of the neighborhood last night, a cheerful group of merrymakers. .. politics-free. Highlight was a visit from Virg's Significant Other, Kim, which gave us an opportunity to introduce her around and make comments without Virg present. He's still in Florida, will be here in Minnesota soon for Christmas, so we were able to freely make unedited remarks about our dear brother.
Andrew performed yeoman duty behind the bar -- fully attired. In the snapshot below he was clowning around getting ready for the festivities.
Half the neighbors are snowbirds home for the holidays so this was a special occasion on the tundra.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It was Ladies Night at Standup Stans

The women of Abbey Point enjoyed an evening relaxing at the annual Ladies Night and Christmas Party.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Carson was booked

This was for practice. Tomorrow he'll actually uncork the bottle.
Mr. Carson had a previous engagement, so Mr. Sampson stepped up to service tomorrow's annual neighborhood Christmas party. Starts at 5:30. Guests can stay up late and stumble home, so the butler may be clocking some overtime.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Little Dickens

Our little Dickens adjusted the Christmas Village scenery in 2007. Is this the year to bring it back out?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Prodigal Brunch Eggs finally back on overnight menu

Golden and firm, these brunch eggs rated well in the test kitchen experiment this morning.
Brunch eggs are an American standby for overnight guests. There's nothing like being able to prepare eggs, bacon, milk and sausage the night before, leave the concoction in the fridge, hopefully get a good night's sleep, then pop it in the oven and have it come out piping hot just in time for your awakening guests.
That was the idea a decade ago when newspaper executives Matt McMillan (Hutchinson) and Wayne Kasich (International Falls) stayed overnight with us before attending a Manager's Meeting the next morning in Red Wing.
Stands up to the finest in dinnerware.
Kathleen followed the recipe as usual, but this time the result was a minor catastrophe. Our guests were good sports, but the concoction just didn't congeal properly, didn't have the proper "egg loaf" feel to it. It was actually pretty bad. Whatever went wrong? For about 10 years the unreliable brunch eggs solution was abandoned as a candidate for an easy-to-fix group breakfast.
Until now. Kathleen thought about it and then wondered? Did she use 2%, our usual milk, instead of the richer whole milk? Could that make the difference? It would be nice to resurrect the old standby, but we needed to build our confidence first. An experiment was proposed, this time with whole milk to mix with the eggs and other ingredients. We'd make a half-batch in the test kitchen and enlist the aid of former grocery man and breakfast hound Joe Daly in making final judgments.
This morning, the classic oven-baked brunch eggs came out looking perfect. They sliced up into neat squares and held together until cut with a fork. Joe called in his congratulations, after downing his portion.
Redemption for the Brunch Eggs! We won't be opening a Bed and Breakfast anytime soon, but we're ready now. Matt and Wayne have been notified.

Executives Wayne and Matt at a breakfast in 2007. Note that this time Katie is serving waffles.
Nothing was mentioned about the previous Brunch Eggs surprise.
Such Gentlemen. Of course, it was a free breakfast. :)
Wayne is now retired, Matt is the Director of Newspapers at Forum Communications in Fargo.

Friday, December 16, 2016


 Ready to bake.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

So, we got a little mixed up. We're retired. We have time for that.

Risky Business. Tom the Rookie Barber gave Dan the full treatment today.
“And then I need to go to the Bible College and get a haircut,” Stan heard his brother-in-law say this morning. Christmas is coming and Dan did need a haircut so Stan volunteered to drive him on this nasty cold day. Ordinarily Dan could just take the Lake Street bus, but this was a good excuse to have lunch and look in on our “Midtown Dan,”  in his 10th floor condo in the old Sears Building in South Minneapolis.

But the Bible College? Haircuts? Jesus.

By the time Dan got into the car to head East down Lake Street, Stan had it figured out. Barber College, not Bible College. The Barber College is across the street from the old White Castle building, which boxed its final slider some time ago, and now nobody seems to want to rent a building with blue and white rooftop battlements. The sign out front of the college said “Public Welcome.” No mention of a guarantee. Dan’s a regular at the college, where barber hopefuls study shaving and snipping and practice other professional skills. Dan gets clipped there for $7. Stan’s no expert on barbers, his mother always cut his hair and he paid attention to what she was doing. These days Stan cuts his own hair, which some say is self-evident.

Dan asked for Jerrod, who has trimmed Dan in the past with a modicum of success, but Jerrod is apparently now too cool for school, so Dan got Tom, who was a polite, if not overly-confident young apprentice. Dan asked for “a haircut like his” pointing at Stan’s head. Stan didn’t know whether to be flattered or to blush. The youthful student proved a steady hand. Dan apparently liked his work; he had a look at it, then gratefully handed a nice tip to the aspiring lad.

Chasing nurses.
Tonsorial adjustment complete, it was time for lunch. Dan recently acquired a high-speed power wheelchair and has been skillfully speeding and turning 360s through the Midtown Global Market aisles, and over the skyways and into the tunnels of the adjacent world-renown Abbott/Northwestern Hospital complex. By now he’s sampled all the mainstream dishes offered at the many Global Market venues so he often opts for the  hospital cafeteria and its daily offerings of comfort food in great variety, which he calls "eating healthy." The hospital used to have a Mickey D's on the main floor, but it's been closed. Hmm. Going to the hospital cafe requires a journey of a couple of blocks on waxed floors in hallways, tunnels and elevators, but Dan’s got the time and the range: His Invacare Pronto M41 boasts 12 miles on a single charge.

Perhaps it was today's 7 below temperature that stirred their Pioneer spirit. The pair decided to push the envelope and strike out for new territory, heading way past Sister Kenny, past the Virginia Piper Building, through the Doctor's Building and on to Children’s Hospital where the intriguing Starz restaurant beckoned. Cops and the security people, always good judges of these things, highly recommend this venue, and assured them they could navigate the five city blocks without ever going outside.

Under 26th Street (Or is it 28th?)
Like Lewis and Clark, the explorers headed North, then Northwest. The first two blocks were in easy, known territory. Past the research labs, over the skyway, through the parking building, past the Abbott/Northwestern pharmacy, past the Skyway coffeeshop and on to the East Elevators.

A careless moment while pushing elevator buttons put the pair onto a third floor Virginia Piper nursing station instead of the lower level; a hasty retreat then another wrong turn and suddenly they were entering what is arguably the world’s finest underground heart surgical suite. They were redirected to the tunnel (well-marked, but oh well). It was long and toasty warm and gently sloped under 26th Street, past the Doctor’s Building and then on to the prize: Children’s Hospital.

A sign on the wall confirmed they had already walked (or rode) a half mile.

Up a clanky elevator and there they were, The Starz Cafe!, a bright and colorful expanse beside the lobby of the famed Children’s Hospital. They inspected the offerings in the salad bar, the pizza bar, and the deli, but then Dan returned to the comfort buffet and chose the Peking Chicken, which comes with rice, of course, but Dan is pure meat and potatoes so the kind server was prevailed upon to substitute the skin-on oven-baked new red potatoes that had teased Dan's gourmand urges.

Starz Cafe: Bright and airy, not like the dungeon at Abbott
A good choice too. Our epicure quickly gave the cafe Four Stars. Said his food was great, worth the trip, and he’ll be back soon for more. So we made sure he knew the way there and back, looking carefully for the signs this time. Much better than bread crumbs.

A warm stroll on a bitter cold day, a cheap hair cut and discovering good food at a new restaurant. Life is good.

Dan's pal, Officer Vicky of the Minneapolis PD, spotted Dan in the Children's Hospital cafe. She used to work the
 Global Market and got to know Dan there. They talked old times and she showed him texted photos of a mutual
friend who was walking his parrot on a beach in North Carolina this morning. We don't make this up.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bruce Berg

We received notice today of the death of Stan's long-time friend, college roommate, fellow Blood Bank dispatcher, and hunting partner.
Bruce Alden Berg struggled for half a year with pancreatic cancer and succumbed on Nov. 26.

He wrote his obituary. It follows:

As per his request, Bruce Berg, 69, of Oacoma, SD will have no services. If anyone should like to remember him, a donation to the nearest animal rescue would be a nice way to do it.

Bruce Alden Berg was born June 12, 1947 to Alden L. and Patricia A. (Torgerson) Berg in Fargo, ND. He grew up and attended school in Hawley and Moorhead, MN. He then attended Concordia College and the University of Minnesota where he received a double major in History and Economics.

After college he primarily worked in various areas of commerce, as a perishable commodities broker, part owner and manager of an equipment dealership, broker/owner of a real estate company and as an investment advisor/manager.

On December 22, 1995, Bruce was united in marriage to Nenita Cabanan. They lived in St. Paul and then in northern Minnesota before moving to Oacoma in March of 2008.

There were many things for which Bruce was grateful in his life: the thousands of songbirds that visited his bird feeders, Ford 4WD pickup trucks, craft beers from Schells Brewery in New Ulm, MN, movies from Hollywood's "Golden Age" and the countless fine histories he has read: that he was able to spend a lot of time in fishing boats, that he was often able to walk the woods of Northern Minnesota ruffed grouse hunting, and the fields and section lines of South Dakota pheasant hunting; that he had good company on many of these days, that he was blessed by a series of excellent Golden Retriever pets and hunting dogs of such quality that if he had to pick which was the best he couldn't do it, his friends and family, perhaps small in quantity, but the very best quality, his cabin on the Bigfork River in Northern MN and his home above the town of Oacoma, and far above all else, his wonderful wife, Nenita, with whom he was blessed to share the last 20+ years.

Bruce passed away on November 26, 2016 at Sanford Medical Center in Chamberlain at the age of 69 years. Gratefully sharing his life are his wife Nenita of Oacoma; a brother Bradley (Nancy); and nieces and nephews. Preceding him in death were his parents and a brother.

From left, Randy Anderson, the late Bruce Berg, Stan Rolfsrud, the late Paul Matthies

Overnight Expression

Working in last night’s subzero temperatures, Jack Frost produced a gallery of porch art for us to enjoy this morning. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Wes Anderson

Our friend and neighbor, Wes Anderson, passed away at home early this morning, surrounded by family members. He will be missed by all of us, especially for his cheerful way and goofy jokes. You could count on him to make our social events just a little more fun.

Here's a story we posted a few years ago that illustrates the point.



It's the first Wednesday of the month so, as customary, the residents of Abbey Point gathered this evening at the clubhouse to break bread and exchange views and experiences.
At the conclusion of the evening, our Norwegian neighbor with the impossibly-great head of hair was called upon to pronounce a benediction. He did not disappoint.

Wes Anderson
"Ole," Wes began, "once had a job at the Gedney Pickle Plant in Chaska.
"One day he came home from work at 2:30 in the afternoon. His wife, Lena, noticed this and said 'Ole, vy are you home from verk so early?'
"I got my winkie in the pickle slicer."
"'Oh my, that's terrible,' Lena said. 'What happened to the pickle slicer?'
"Oh,' Ole said.  'She got fired too.'"

(Wes Anderson appears nightly at The Tarmac Lounge on Abbey Point.)


Wes will be missed. Our thoughts are with his wife of 56 years, Shirley, with him until the end, whose strength and loyalty has been an inspiration to us all.

And still snowing

They've shoveled us out once already, they'll be back again this Sunday afternoon. We're snug, we've got milk and eggs. Looks like at least six inches so far, based on observations from inside, which seems like a better place to be than on the street. Six-hundred crashes reported overnight.

Friday, December 09, 2016

A little Dickens and a ghost from Christmas past

We took the girls to the Guthrie Theater's Christmas Carol a few times years ago. So it was a treat to go again, this time with our sweet daughter reviving the tradition. Jennifer scored duckets for, from left, Stan, our Granddaughter Emily, Kathleen, Jennifer and Grandson Maxwell. We were also joined by Tasha, her Mom and her daughter, Christina.
After, we gathered on the flying bridge to gaze over the Mississippi at the twinkling city lights.
The performance in the Guthrie Wurtele Thrust Theater was spectacular: zip lines, spinning sets, explosions and smoke, trap doors and all, but seemed to lack the warmth and focus of the productions in the old Guthrie. One memorable year we attended with Stan's late parents and assorted children. We fondly recall the sight of Dad all dressed up and standing in the lobby, wearing the oxfords he got from Randy's Moving-to-Hollywood garage sale.
Another Christmas memory.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

It was bound to happen. . .

With the inevitably of a glacier, winter ice is overtaking the open waters. This morning only a few feet remained. Probably be locked up tight by nightfall with the thermometer plunging today. Skaters away!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Let It Snow!

Click to see the snow pants.
There wasn't really that much snow to greet Grandpa coming home from California, but enough to send Grandma and Emily out for a snow clothes shopping expedition today. They scored these warm, yet cool, items for Emily's tenth winter. And a tee-shirt.
We're getting in the mood, definitely.
Tonight we'll join Aunt Jennifer, Cousin Maxwell and others for the Guthrie Christmas Carol tradition, starting with dinner across the street at Spoon River.
No dogs.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fowl line

Hey Alfred, who's the white guy?

Down, but not out

Don't know the name of this potted succulent in the backyard, but you've got to like its spirit. Somehow the fourth branch on it got knocked down. You can see its three kin are standing tall in the background. But once the drooper got a sense that the fence rail was solid, it regrouped and started pointing up again.

Monday, November 28, 2016

For Coot fans in Washington

Here's one from the Menifee Lakes back nine especially for faithful blog reader Seattle Sue. She's a coot fan, we're sure, so when we passed this flock on The Lakes No. 11 today, we immediately thought of her. Rains in Southern California have softened everything, including the greens, where a lucky shot can leave a deep ball mark. (We cleaned it up.)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Katie's Gardenia

This Gardenia bush, planted for Kathleen, covered itself with blooms last Spring. Not so during the winter months, but today the plant surprised with a solitary blossom, perhaps to honor a Minnesota visitor. It won't last long, perhaps a day or so, but its compelling fragrance hangs on a permanent memory peg. Today we squeezed garden-fresh peppermint into our green tea, perhaps tomorrow we'll go for a hint of gardenia.
Hai and his Mom are busy fussing and chatting over the garden today, giving special attention to the prolific succulents and to the Beverly tree. Haismom trimmed the older leaves away from it, thus forcing the tree to produce more new growth, which means blossoms, which create more fruit. It's a cycle of life repeated constantly in this philosopher's garden -- and everywhere else.
Cool and breezy today, not in a mood to hang the ceiling fans over the patio today. Who needs 'em.
There's time.

Today's encounter

A mass of tree stumps, dumped near the corner of Lindenberger and Newport Road, provided today's oddity for the daily walk. This massive stump, perhaps 10 feet tall, could be 300 years old. What is it doing in this urban setting? More for the hiker to ponder.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Dewy fresh morning

A moment of Zen this dewy fresh morning in the back yard. Then an odd experience: watching the Vikings and the Lions kickoff at 9:30 a.m. local time. 
Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Catch of the Day

Count only seven? Hai's cleaning on No. 8.
It's a mess of fish. It's not supposed to be beautiful. Beauty comes later when they're prepared and presented on a pretty plate.
After hanging and finishing the artwork at the Nails Shop, the artist/carpenter put on his lucky hat and headed south to San Diego harbor for an afternoon of ocean fishing.
He brought back these eight rockfish, averaging a couple of pounds apiece. He's cleaning them for a pre-Thanksgiving feast tonight.
A real Fresh Catch of the Day.

(Fun Fact: Hai loves to fish and cook them up in special concoctions, but he doesn't eat fish.)

Art is in

Final touches last night to the Nail Shop art work. Whadda ya think? Customers get the first look today.