Thursday, March 31, 2016

Nesting instincts

Two pairs of cardinals set down in our flowering crab this morning, reminding us that this is the season for nesting. The house across the street just went up for sale, the mallards continue to tend their hiding place, and during her last visit here our granddaughter was struck by a need to create a nest in the Norwegian pine in the hopes than some unnamed species might soon inhabit it. It's hard no to get into the spirit of it all.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A classmate. Who knew?

Bob Helie was a friendly, happy-go-lucky sort in high school, always had a smile on his face, something clever to say. Otherwise quiet and thinking. Stan lost touch with him shortly thereafter. He never got to know him as brilliant. Or as a plant expert. Or a poet.

Yesterday Bob posted some advice to a friend that Stan happened to see on line. Here's the exchange:

Bob writes to someone seeking plant advice:

About that "tree foam" on your Alaskan weeping cedar... A bacteria species has entered through an injury caused by tools, or freezing split, or... and is working within creating gases that expand the interior pressure up to ten times its natural internal pressure, pushing sap and aerated sap out through pore areas.. It's called slime flux and will not cause any real damage to the tree itself...but the attracted insects to the alcoholic production may...If it begins to have a foul odor, it can be sprayed with a diluted bleach solution. Also, pull away from the base of the tree material that may harbor larvae and insects that are attracted to the sweet (to them) mixture. (Really, it tastes like chicken)(ha). Also, compacted soil MAY be causal....loosen with a claw in root areas of the tree. (It will not hurt growth of ground vegetation if you occasionally hose it away, though it may kill turf.)

 Just for the heck of it, Stan interrupted with this comment:

Bob, very impressed. I had no idea. Now. Put that into rhyming couplets.

 He immediately took the challenge. Now here's a talent. Who knew?

A friend just called me
Straight from her home.
Wondered about the
O'erflowing foam.

Running on down
Her beautiful tree.
I said "Give me a sec,
Just leave it to me.

It's slime flux my friend
Got lotsa pressure.
Aerated sap stuff
Beyond liquid measure.

Don't worry a bit
It won' do no damage.
Now let me get back to
My ham and cheese sammadge.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Skinny kayaker pulls 50 Pound Sea Bass from La Jolla Bay

Off La Jolla beach near San Diego
Rookie ocean kayak fisherman Hai Dang struggled mightily this weekend and seized a 50-pound prize from the Pacific waters off La Jolla. From a one-man Hobie, he battled the sea bass for a half an hour. Strain and exertion took its toll and he thought of giving up, but urged on by his partner and coach from a nearby kayak, he stuck with it and eventually overcame his quarry.

Tired but determined, our kayaker fights on.
Upon his arrival on shore, beachcombers gathered to ogle his catch, admiring this gorgeous specimen, once endangered, but now in plentiful supply for game fishermen willing to pursue.

Hai continues to train with a professional guide, most recently learning to break heavy surf with his light craft. Yes, he's capsized before, but not on this trip. There will be many more of these angling adventures he says. The fish was brought home, prepared and divided amongst friends, eager for a taste of this saltwater monster.

"Lookit the size of that thing, Mom!"

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Family Album, Easter 2016

Dan with his nieces, Marcy and Missy.

 Easter 2016 drew a smaller crowd than usual for photos: Jennifer is with her Dundas family and Kathleen's not quite ready for portrait photography. Plenty of fun for all though, Emily showed off the 2 and a half inches she's grown since last Easter's measurement. Max continues at the U of M in a pursuit of computer science, Missy's a shadow of her former self (diet and exercise, naturally) and Marcy has been helping Dan at his downtown condo. After every one left, Emily stayed on. There are projects and nests to build. More later, of course.
Our grandson, Max Tong.

Happy Easter!

BECKY AND HER CHICKENS --  In the late 1940s, our family lived on a small acreage near Deerwood, Minnesota. Stan's older sister was apparently enchanted by the poultry and would fearlessly feed the flock, leading a parent to take this endearing snapshot and entitle it "Becky and Her Chickens."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Grandchild bait

When Homer tugs on your trousers,
you can't help but go down and get him.
He's fine with that.
When Matt and Anne went to pick out a puppy a month or so ago, the intention was to acquire a furry magnet to attract the interest of their beloved grandchildren. When Matt picked up Homer for the first time, he knew right away this was the one. The Shitzu/poodle quickly won the affections of the grandchildren, of course, but immediately stole Matt's heart as well. It was Anne who sorta let him into the bed, however, against all previous intentions. He's still there. A keeper.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Rand Elness -- 1939-2016

Long, long ago, before there was rock and roll, our parents performed a sacred concert series, leaving family behind on their extended tours. Pre-schoolers Stan and Solveig were often dished off to a couple of Lutheran sisters, Ruby Korkowski and Josephine Elness, married to farmers near Brandon and Garfield, Minnesota.

Mama Jo and Simon Elness had three children, among them Rand, who later studied music with our mother. Solveig’s lifelong attachment to this adopted family drew her to a recent memorial service in California, marking the passing of Rand Elness. She filed this report:

Rand's parents, the late Simon and Josephine Elness, at their Garfield, Minnesota farm
Picture Rand Elness growing up in a house built by his father at the top of this long driveway, with much younger parents than shown here.

Rural life in the 1940s meant that Rand often rode to school on a horse behind his older sister Karen. His mother would ensure that Rand had opportunities and experiences. But becoming a Cub Scout at age five created a problem for his family: Who had time to drive Rand to the evening meetings?
Simon Elness solved the problem by attaching blocks of wood to the pedals and otherwise modifying the farm truck to accommodate it to a little boy. And off Rand drove to his scout meetings miles away, even on dark winter nights.

Early driving was required for efficiency on the Elness dairy farm. Jerome, six, looked forward to his first time driving the tractor for the harvest. But he had tonsillitis and inconveniently had his tonsils removed. Therefore, his younger sister Karen drove the tractor. Jerome was not happy about that.

Karen turned to us and said she had always admired how Jerome could drive the truck on a certain "cross country" path through ditch and creek. She tried the same route and got stuck. She still feels chagrined about this at 82 years old.

Jerome said, "Oh, I got stuck too."

"You DID?????" wide-eyed Karen asked.

Jerome's daughter Beth reached out to her aunt, "Let it go. Don't you feel better? A load lifted?"

Indeed. So many stories of children driving on the Elness and Korkowski farms. I remember Mama Jo taking me to visit her sister Ruby, and there was my brother Stan, driving a Farm All, proud Al Korkowski standing by.

Karen's little daughter Kiki was a bit intimidated by Great Uncle Al's size and gravelly voice, but came to terms with him through card games, an even playing field. Their favorite was cribbage, and that game provided a form of communication even after Al's stroke and inability to speak.

Here is Rand in 1960 in Denmark. 
Distracted by topless Danish sunbathers, he crashed
that bike into a tree..
Intersecting the long driveway to Rand's childhood home was a driveway to the Elness "home place." Simon's two brothers and sister Christina lived at the home place. Christian and P. Imos were true Norwegian bachelor farmers, who socialized by sitting with guests at a round table, silently passing and reading farm magazines.

After aunt and uncles died, Rand received his share of an inheritance and determined that the appropriate use of it was to purchase a red truck, which Rand named P. Imos. From then on, Rand always had a red truck.

There are of course more stories, all good. It was the way a memorial service should be, a gathering of people sharing with each other a more complete understanding of the deceased. Personally, I was happy to confront Jerome with my great disappointment. When I was five, he left to be a missionary in Hong Kong. I was sad, so Jerome told me he would come back and marry me. I waited. He never came back. Turns out, he had forgotten!!! Jerome congratulated Bill, I forgave Jerome, and it is all good again.

More to come,

Solveig Sam Sosie

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Prairie tech

Digital technology enhanced this tiny photograph found today in Erling's memorabilia. The farm equipment had been
lined up specially for this rare photo, (note the binder in the background) reflecting a pride of ownership.
During his teen years (1925-1935) Stan’s father, Erling Rolfsrud, operated this McCormick-Deering iron-lugged tractor at home and on fields several miles from home. “I would drive to the distant fields in an old Model T truck (which had a home-made cab of wood) and work there all day,” he wrote on the back of this photo, “bringing along a lunch for mid-day. We first had a 10-20 horsepower tractor, then later a 15-30 horsepower. I was alone all day with the plowing. Seldom the sight of another human. No radio or communication of any kind.”
What Stan’s father could not know, of course, was that he was tilling soil that covered the Bakken Shale, which has since brought untold wealth to western North Dakota. He died in 1994, long before fracking technology made possible the full development of these oil fields.

Monday, March 21, 2016

No. 3

Photo by Stan Rolfsrud

Cold but calm weather brought our diligent roofers back early this morning to complete their contract to re-shingle three roofs in our neighborhood association. If past experience is any indication, the roof will be complete by 5 p.m. tonight.
Meanwhile, it may get warm enough to swing a golf club.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Timing is everything. . .

Saturday morning, new roof, new flashings, new and improved vents. Snug.
Yesterday at this time workers were peeling back the shingles on this villa, exposing the vulnerable roof sheathing to the elements (see post below). By noon the city inspector had been by, new vents and flashings were going on, extra ice barrier was nailed down, first course on. By 5 p.m., they were tidying up the area, picking up the nails, hauling away the dumpster and admiring a new roof.
Overnight, another Minnesota change of weather occurred and the roof got yet another layer. . . of snow.

"Jack be nimble, Jack be quick."

Friday, March 18, 2016

Getting it done

UP ON THE ROOFTOP -- workers started at 7:30 a.m.; flurries by 11? Winds are calm, 25 degrees under
overcast skies.

A crack in the weather window opened just wide enough this morning for a dozen hardy roofers to tackle the challenging project across the street.
Jeff Granowski, the company ramrod and weather forecaster, surveyed the skies and other sources and figured there would be an opportunity to tear off, felt and reroof the second of three roofs under contract in our neighborhood.
Running a weather-affected business in Minnesota requires patience and fortitude, the meek and impetuous need not apply.
Jeff seemed more concerned about flying golf balls from early golfers on No. 16 tee box than what appeared to us to be much more significant hazards. It's all what you're used to, perhaps.
Birdie was happy to watch the activity from her usual perch, though a closer view would be nice.

By 9:30 the shingles on both sides were all but gone. 

By 9:30 the shingles on both sides were all but gone and the valleys recovered. John and Mary (right) escaped their home to head to the community center for a workout. The roof will be covered in building felt by the time they return.
"We've heard squirrels running around overhead before," quipped John. "This is a lot worse."

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Wearing of the Green

Drove into the Ford garage today for a $29.95 after rebate oil change and checkup. Five hours and $986 later we drove out. Happy St. Patrick's Day Everybody!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

So this is The Cloud?

When Pat Minelli first began informing readers of Publick Events, he pounded the news out on a manual Underwood. His words were cast in hot molten lead, smeared with ink, pressed onto sheets of newsprint and plopped onto driveways and into mailboxes. Johann Gutenberg would do it that way too.

Pat's a walking time machine, a first-hand observer of the massive global transition into the Information Age. And yet he plugs on, a mellow survivor of brutal tectonic shifts.
A rainy-day visit today provoked a scathing discussion of current events, of course, but also a recognition that through the changes Pat still has the warmth and soul of a good friend, a good father and a good journalist.
The latest innovation to his craft? He's now manning something called the Digital Desk.
You gotta be kidding. Hang in there Patrick!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ducks on the Pond

The ice cleared the pond yesterday and a mallard pair took full advantage at daybreak today, hopefully scouting for a nesting site. Looking closely as the pond turned, we also noticed a half dozen goldfish lazily shaking off their winter sleep, testing the waters.
It's March 12 in Minnesota. Let's get started.

For some reason, the drake was closely monitoring the hen today. When she departed, he was quick to follow,
chasing her tail. A universal behavior known to other species. Never ceasing.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Home safe

It was with great joy that we released Birdie at the mailboxes today so she could make the last 100 yards on her own. She dashed into Mom's arms at 12:20 today, after an uneventful night in a dog-friendly hotel in beautiful downtown Omaha.
Thanks to everyone for their best wishes. The best news is that Kathleen won't be needing a cast.. Dr. Marek says a light splint and an exercise ball will be all that's needed.
Marcy is here to tend to her Mom. . . and make us a healthy supper, something needed and appreciated after three days of road crap.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

He can probably pull in Andy Griffith and Raymond -- don't try this with cable

You say they lost your reservation at that tony ski condo in Vail, Colorado? No worries. Just down I-70 in the little town of Eagle there’s a pretty little welcome center nestled beside the rushing Colorado. There’s 24 hour restrooms, million dollar mountain views, a lobby and brochures. Find a free spot with a view of the southern sky, cover your windows, hook up your satellite dish and you’re good to go.
We used the “Dog Walk” in this little park today on our way from Rifle, Colorado, to Omaha. Nebraska may not have much in the way of scenery, but they have plenty of troopers. Counted at least 20 squads, a couple of traps, numerous cars pulled over, and actually witnessed a stop: I was cruising at 79 in a 75 zone on I-80 when a black-haired fellow in a muscular car with a Minnesota Vikings bumper sticker passed me.

Within seconds a Nebraska trooper appeared from the ditch and nabbed the Vikings fan dead to rights. Uff Da. Phew.

You figure in a small state if you see one squad occupied, you're safe. Not so today.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The winner is Mile 145 on I-70 in Utah.

No Texting While Driving. Photography?
We're resting on the western slope of the Rockies tonight in Rifle, Colorado. We drove here from the coast today, 825 miles, all of them interesting, even the tricky ones climbing out of the LA basin. But the absolute best mile, against all others, is Mile 145 on I-70 in Utah. We've seen it before, you may have too, a hundred or so miles of thrilling, heart-pounding geography that leaves you in awe and wonderment. Much of this stretch is posted at 80 miles an hour, which is a shame,  because when you're gripping the wheel, leaning into the curves to stay in your lane, you miss so much of the show: An endless gallery of colorful tectonic thrusts, scarred through the ages by persistent erosive forces and left to bake under a blue sky.

We left Utah and followed the Colorado River 100 miles to Rifle through a spectacular gorge or two as the sun set behind us.  Will the Colorado be sending enough water this year to recharge the thirsty reservoirs?
Tomorrow morning my little dog and I will climb the mighty Rockies and coast down the other side, then contemplate the meaning of it all during that long, long voyage across the Great Plains.

That's the Rockies on the distant horizon.

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!

Mom flew away but left her pillow behind at the Hotel California. A small comfort. Lost or found, it's confusing. Birdie misses her Mom, hasn't figured anything out. Fortunately, all will be forgiven in Minnesota very soon.
Birdie's a good traveler. We have a pet friendly motel in Rifle picked out for tonight.
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, it's Taro's turn to wonder what ever happened to her pal Birdie. They were just getting some hilarious play routines worked out. Such ferocious growling. So rough and tough when mama's around.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Package Delivered LAX, Flight 424, Seat 5A, ARR Minnesota 2:25 CST


Well Done, Mr. Dang. Thank you!
(Keep that arm elevated, sweetie.)

Meanwhile, back at the homestead

Photo by Sandy Story, cub reporter
Got Kathleen successfully dispatched to LAX this morning. Await confirmation from Flight Aware.
The crow flies just 100 fewer miles
than Stan and Birdie will drive. 
Mild weather in Minnesota brought out the first roofers of the season today, our neighbor Sandy reports. They've started a major spring project for our association. Kathleen could only get a light jacket on over her splint this morning, but temps in the 50s in Minnesota should make it easy enough for her chauffeur to get her safely home and keep her warm. Birdie (somewhat confused, no one explained how this is supposed to work) and Stan are packing, they should hit the road sometime after midnight tonight, avoiding traffic and adjusting for CST... soon to be CDT.

Monday, March 07, 2016

An early departure for M'lady

Kathleen has had enough fun for one trip. She will depart early early Tuesday morning with Hai. He'll deliver her to Shakopee tomorrow afternoon.
This photo was taken at noon today. Just as the doctor said, the bruising will progress down her face as gravity clears it.
She had her hair done at a salon and managed a shower with a plastic bag taped on her arm. We have an appointment with a Chaska orthopedic type for a Thursday afternoon casting.
Two years ago she fell on the ice and broke her left wrist, so we've been there and done that. 
She's going to miss all of spring training and the opener, but should be available for some relief work in early June. :)
Fortunately, we watched Downton Abbey last night so Stan was able to brush up on his valet skills. We're packing M'lady's trousseau this afternoon.
Molesley will follow by car and rejoin M'lady on Sunday.

When he saw this photo, my old school friend Bob Helie wrote this poem about Kathleen. . . though he's never met her, he nailed her spirit:

So there she stood, her eyes discolored.....
Forehead sporting a knot.
Her arm was wrapped in cast and "Ace"
Who knows what else she got.
And yet right there, upon her face
A smile so big and wide.
A tough one there, with grit galore
And a basketful of pride.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Suddenly, a change of plans.. .

A pedicure, the hard way. Seven hours late, Kathleen finally made it.
She'll be early to Minnesota.
At 10:10 this morning, outside a popular nail salon at the corner of Antelope and Scott, our winter plans abruptly changed.

Tripped on curbstone.
Why is this there anyway?
That’s when Kathleen tripped over a mall curb and executed a face plant that struck her forehead so directly it saved her glasses. Her wrists barely broke the fall.

After six and one half hours in the emergency room at the nearby Loma Linda Medical Center, after a catscan and numerous x-rays, we can report negative brain damage, just a lot of bruising and a broken right wrist.

Roger the Wrapper. The splint will get her to
She’s in a splint and under orders to return to Minnesota and seek an orthopod for a hard cast before the bone sets.

We’re on our way Monday.

Kathleen finished her day the way we started it, at the nail salon (above). It should comfort all to know that after her big day, she enjoyed a relaxing pedicure and remains in good spirits, now chatting with family members, fortified with Advil and Stan’s cooking.

Stan heard the thud when she fell. A customer leaving the nail salon was the first to assist. Dropping down she said immediately: “That's a big hematoma. We need ice.” As we comforted Kathleen, checked for bleeding and shock, our angel said: “I’m a nurse. . . if that makes you feel better.”

We waited six hours in the waiting room.
That's long enough for a flight to Minneapolis.
This was an interesting diversion.
It definitely did. And she stuck with us until we headed to the hospital. Kathleen phoned Raquel tonight and thanked her.

The medical center is a busy place, and fortunately just down the road from our incident. We sat patiently in triage and comforted ourselves knowing that our long wait times between services were partly because we weren’t in a life-threatening situation. Others were, obviously. One unfortunate was choppered in as we watched from the waiting room, probably the most interesting part of the day. Another, a softball player had taken a bad hop, crushed bones around her eye and suffered a concussion. Heart attack types wheezed by in wheel chairs. We were relatively fortunate, yes, but it didn’t make the pain go away.

Blake Shelton?
Eventually we got to see a doctor, a big fella Kathleen thought looked like Blake Shelton. She’s not the only one who mentions that, he confirmed. After seeing the second round of x-rays, he ruled out broken fingers, said the cat scan was all good, but one of the eight bones in her right wrist was broken. He also warned Kathleen that in a couple of days the blood from the forehead hematoma would likely descend into her face and she will generally look awful.

Stan politely asked if it would be possible to get a signed note explaining the situation.

The Big Doc laughed and said that wouldn’t work, but suggested having some fun the next time we walk into a public place. Stan should turn to his bruised wife and loudly state: “And next time, don’t forget the cheese!”

Conveniently located just a mile from Kathleen's accident. Nice place, Nice people.
Try to stay away.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Friday night Steak Fry

Our hosts, Xuan and Hai. He made dinner while she closed her shop in a nearby mall.
As the gas was running out, Hai joked that if you want yours
well done, he'd keep the
fire going with a stick of butter.
The big steaks came off just moments before the propane tank on the barbecue grill flamed out, adding a twist to the excitement of Hai's Friday night Fry.
Our chef drew a handsome crowd with a fine spread of tossed salad, baked potatoes, steamed corn on the cob, pounded and seasoned rib eyes and a final flourish of artisan tiramisu.
Even Birdie enjoyed a feast. Not allowed to beg, she sneaked upstairs in all the buzz and helped herself to Taro's dog food dish.
We enjoyed light-hearted chatter with Xuan's two students: Andy and Lili . . . and Lili's boyfriend Brandon. Lili smiled sweetly and revealed a wish "to be on the blog."
Well.. . we're honored. So here ya go, young lady!

Tonight's special guests, from left, Andy, Brandon and Lili. She's vegan and enjoyed the salad and fixings,
while her boyfriend and her brother attacked the stack of seasoned red meat with the gusto of true carnivores.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

She sent flowers

Lorlee posted this glorious bloom today from Dallas where they are enjoying their spring flora. This is a peach. Lorlee too.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Press four if you don't have to care anymore

We subscribe to the LA Times here at Hotel California, enjoy holding the paper in our hands, enjoy smelling the ink and solving the daily crossword. Heading home soon though, so the old newspaper publisher called the Times subscription department to cancel the paper.

A robot answered and said it recognized our phone number and then it said

If your newspaper was not delivered, press one.
If your newspaper was late, press two.
If your newspaper was wet, press three.

Ah, memories. Ain't retirement great?

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Hillary a hit at Global Market, but Dan missed

Photo courtesy Clinton campaign
The guv made it. Dan didn't.
Hillary Clinton stopped by the Global Market in Minneapolis today, that's where our brother Dan Neilson, 77,  lives -- in the converted Sears and Roebuck catalog center on Lake Street. We called Dan from Hotel California to ask if he had seen her.
Dan didn't know she had been downstairs until he saw her on the 6 p.m. news. Oh well.