Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Five years

Our Chinese wisteria has finally reached the woody stage where it puts out some spring blossoms. Suddenly there's color everywhere, with the nearby Weigela Red Prince competing for the crown, apparently trying to drown out the more subtle purples of the showy vine.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


Detective Virgil Flowers, one of Kathleen’s very favorite detectives, wasn’t featured in the latest John Sandford thriller “Extreme Prey," but no matter: Kathleen zipped through the pages almost non-stop, loving every turn, and savoring each delicious passage.

The handoff. Kathleen's done, John will take his lap.
She’s got all the Sandford novels in her lending library, of course, so it wasn’t long before fellow fan and good neighbor John Gerken was invited by to check out the latest hardback.
John’s a recent laser surgery graduate, so for the first time he’ll be reading a book without lenses, a cappella, as it were. He’s loving his new visible world.
We don’t know if he’ll turn the Sandford pages as fast as Kathleen did, but if he does, Stan offered him free use of his paperback biography “Eisenhower, Soldier and President” by Stephen Ambrose.
Despite a couple rainy days ahead and with his spouse away in Iowa, John still didn’t think he’d be needing it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Good timing

Our clematis sneaked up on us this year, Surprise! Suddenly it was here in full array and just in time for Kathleen's birthday. No elaborate plans, but if it is May 24 you can be sure that full racks of Baby Backs from a specific source on the Third Floor of the Mall of America are involved. (Original sauce, of course.)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Something we agree on

The brothers Rolfsrud duel with rock candy swizzle sticks in the Art Deco bar at the prohibition era
Commodore Hotel, frequented by F. Scott Fitzgerald and others looking for fun on a Saturday afternoon.
That's St. Paul Katie in the background -- Kim took the picture.
We shared a drink and appetizers with Virg and Kim this afternoon at the famed Commodore Hotel bar in St. Paul. Stan and Virg finished with a "Root and Rye," served on the rocks in the Art Deco setting. Virg likes a brandy manhattan, Stan favors a whiskey version, but this complex rye cocktail inspired by the Jazz age and speakeasy roots brought agreement to both: it's a damned fine drink. It's also $13, but what the hey, Virg's treat.
Here's the description furnished by the management:

Root n Rye  --- FEW Rye, Door County Dried Cherries, Orange Peel, Frostop Red Birch Bark Beer, Dashfire Old Fashioned Bitters -- $13

Tidy Bowl?

Looks like The Superintendent over-tinted his clubhouse pond again, dumping too much Blue Lagoon into the mix. (Sorry, but everyone's a critic, Duane. You're the expert.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Chester cleared in debunked Goldfish murder spree

Chester sniffs the air, now that it has been cleared, and he's no longer under suspicion -- just ugly.
Last summer, Chester the Molester, our resident snapping turtle, was fingered in the untimely disappearance of a charming school of goldfish, a dozen lovely specimens, all sadly missing, unseen, despite weeks of diligent searches. Circumstantial evidence linked the missing goldfish to the prime suspect, a known carnivore, with an ugly look and nasty reputation. Accused of mass murder, Chester successfully dodged the authorities, cleverly avoiding capture, despite their best efforts to net him.
Today, in a stunning turn of events, two dozen goldfish have miraculously emerged from the deep -- and all charges against Chester have been dropped. Turns out they weren't dead after all.
The prodigal goldfish have been counted and photographed, along with other countless bait fish that look to be crappies, as well as a particularly large goldfish that looked quite motherly and could be responsible for the expanding population.

The goldies are easy to spot, look closer for the crappies.

Clearly the best spring day we've had so far. . .

Photos by Stan Rolfsrud
What could be better than a gorgeous spring day in May? A gorgeous spring day in May viewed through clean windows!
Our long-time window guy Scott Mosher showed up bright and early today and went right to work.
According to Scott's records, this is the latest we've ever had our windows done.
It's his busy season now, so we kept the chatting down to a minimum, (how's your wife? the new house?) but we do love these visits.... even though the best part comes right after he drives away.
Squeak, squeak. The world's greatest windowman is also patient with photographers. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

This could be the year

This won't be the year for the Minnesota Twins, but we take heart: This could be the year for our wisteria.
It takes five years, we are told, for a Chinese wisteria to mature to the point that it will bear flowers. We planted this scrambling trellis vine about four years ago and it looks like the promise will be fulfilled this year. Blooms are fragrant, smell like grapes. We noticed the first buds today. We'll closely monitor future developments.
The Twins are on their own.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

They help us remember

Grandma Rolfsrud died in 1935, a hardy pioneer who struggled to survive on the lonely prairies of western North Dakota. 
We’re told that these iris descend from bulbs she nurtured at the homestead, saved from rooting hogs and punishing drought, just for the joy they might bring. 
We don’t know if it's true. 
We don’t care. Each spring they help us remember the grandmother we never knew.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

First Finch

About an hour after Kathleen hung out her finch feeder, the first customers arrived today. It's crisp and cold out, but the sun is shining and we're looking forward to someday summer and daily visits from these little friends.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The weather and the date be damned, let's do this!

The invitation said 6 p.m. and that's exactly when the bride followed the trail of petals down the cart path to her man.
Kathleen with one of the Men of Abbey Point.
It's Friday the Thirteenth, there's a full moon tonight, it's 45 degrees, the skies are grey, threatening rain and wind. But the bride said "Go!"
Bless her heart, she was not to be denied.
We stumbled onto these chancy nuptials in our pursuit of burgers and the beef stew special at the clubhouse tonight. Our guest was Joe Daly and mostly we talked about the hapless Twins and real estate, but the excitement of the risky coupling nearby drew our attention and wonderment.
Our very best wishes to the new couple, and if they pulled this off tonight, well, it's got to be nothing but success and good luck from here on out.

Rose petals, falling water, friends and family, goose bumps. Unforgettable.
There's a harpist and wedding singer warming up inside on the dance floor.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Healthy, juicy, delicious, nostalgic

After breaking out his new pair of rain gloves, Greg “Mayo” Johnson was unstoppable today, shooting even par on the last seven holes at Creeksbend in New Prague. It poured most of the time, but the classmates were too stubborn to come inside and went the full 18. After, Greg wondered about the Prime Time Saloon and Grill in tiny Lydia (pop 30?) so they stopped in and had the classic roadhouse burger ’n fries, with a slice of tomato, of course, to make it healthy. Juicy, delicious, nostalgic. They discussed Greg’s trip to Hanoi, his recent road trip to Glenwood with his old pal Brad Anderson, then went through the usual list of suspects they have in common. A great day in the rain for old friends.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Mother's Day

Six kids. Sounds familiar.

This flowering crab is the last one to bloom.
Worth the wait. It honors our late-arriving snowbirds.

Mother's Day

Friday, May 06, 2016

Duck du Jour

Which way to the ark? The explorers cruised past the turtles getting their early morning sun today.
Today's waterfowl guests included a heretofore unseen pair of blue-winged teal. These dabbler vegetarians pose no threat to our minnow population and would be welcome to stay and nest. Indeed, they appeared to be casting about for a possible location, which is quite possible because we're told they are late nesters.
These birds are bigger than what you think of as a teal and are probably better classified as a shoveler, with their big beaks and larger body size.
They're more common in North Dakota, but they're welcome here. Just beware the snapper.

It's beautiful day in the neighborhood. Find a quiet place, relax and enjoy. Highs in the 80s today.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Finished and already in use

Photo by Kathleen Rolfsrud
Our contractors whipped out their own camera this morning, taking pictures of the mailbox rebuild, doubtless proud of their handiwork and wanting a sample to show future clients. Well done, John and Eric.

The ultimate test came an hour later when our postal worker breezed through and pronounced our new boxes quite satisfactory.

She liked the larger size mailbox... and we hope our residents do too.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Complete coverage by Sherwin Williams and Kathleen Rolfsrud

John forced stain into hidden cracks that no human will ever see . . . but pride of workmanship made him do it.
The Tom Story Volunteer Neighborhood Improvement Corps went right to work this afternoon after the boys from Casanova Construction wheeled away, having completed the second phase of the mailbox redo.
"We put Americans to work, rebuilding our nation's infrastructure," boasted Tom from his deck chair on a beach near Ft. Myers.
Beefcake shots courtesy Kathleen Ann.
A charity calendar  -- The Men of Abbey Point --
is in the works when the painting is done.
The Flying Casanovas will be back early Thursday to shingle the almost complete project and squeeze the U.S. Postal jumbo mailbox pack into its proper place, exactly 42 inches above the curbline. Excitement in the neighborhood reached a feverish peak this afternoon, as Stan and John deftly stained the green-treated lumber in a stunning Dove White, to the oohs and aahs of passersby -- Stan managing the 4-inch foam roller, John on touch-up.
Kathleen recorded the entire event with multiple digital exposures, (some are shown here) then shared details and insight at tonight's Abbey Point Dinner in the prestigious Stonebrooke Clubrooms just off County Road 79 in Shakopee. Yes, attendance was down, but spirits were up, and more snowbirds are expected back in town soon. . . now that the Tom Story Volunteers have all but closed out the project.

Ready for mailboxes and shingles. More to come. Can you stand to wait?

Here's how, Tom!

Casanova Construction. Posts are set in concrete, boxes and roof today -- painting tonight. Shingles tomorrow.

Day Two, Neighborhood Mailbox Rebuild Project
Association Director Tom Story, whose timing has always been excellent, is in Florida during the mailbox reconstruction project this week. He phoned in from the beach:
"How are the residents getting their mail with the boxes taken down?" he wondered.
Contractors John and Eric had cleverly solved that problem with a temporary arrangement, by sawing off the posts and lashing the old boxes to some sawhorses. The mail lady delivered on time today, maintaining that easy postal smile throughout, only slightly inconvenienced.
Hurry home, Tom and Sandy, we should be shingled and painted by the time you're back... :)
(Tom, as we recall, is the one who negotiated the thrifty deal that includes volunteers doing all the painting.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

While you were away. . .

Eight should be enough for this feathered suburban couple.
She scared the hell out of Stan.
Virg seated near his front door.
His brother Virg has returned from six months in Florida, he's now back here with all the other snowbirds. However, he's not the first one to arrive in Minnesota, he was beaten here by a nice Mallard couple.
Rounding the corner to deliver some papers to Virg's front door Sunday, Stan was startled by a mother hen suddenly flying up at his face, probably even more frightened than the intruder.
Apparently Mr. and Mrs. Mallard had selected a lovely spot, where it is peaceful and out of the way, and the sun shines over a manicured lawn where nobody ever comes. A private place to raise some young ones without disruption.
Then Virg returned to HIS nest. They scared him too.
Fortunately, the garage entrance is around the corner. So if the residents continue to use that door instead of the front door, the ducks by the front should be able to nicely co-exist with the snowbirds.
Isn't it nice when we all get along?

Monday, May 02, 2016

Fishing buddies

Photos by Stan Rolfsrud
Note the yellow iris on the male.
A pair of Hooded Mergansers winged by late today to try their luck in our fishing hole. They dived industriously for about 10 minutes -- one standing post while the other went under  -- and came up with a shiny minnow or two. Then they were off, leaving the pond in peace to our nesting mallards. (We anticipate delivery of those chicks soon, if the red fox doesn't get them first.)

Here's what Ducks Unlimited says about today's visitors:
The hooded merganser is the smallest of the three merganser species occurring in North America. Male hooded mergansers have a large white crest surrounded by black. The top of the head, neck and back are all black, and the chest, breast and belly are white. Wavy black lines can be seen on the tawny sides and flanks. The hindback, rump and tail are dark brown. The long, narrow, serrated bill is black. The iris is bright yellow and the legs and feet are dull yellow. Female hooded mergansers have a gray-brown head and neck with a reddish-brown crest.

Population: Hooded mergansers are most common in the Great Lakes region and current information suggests a stable, possibly increasing population in some areas. However, data on population size and status are tenuous due to the secretive nature of this species. Historically, populations likely suffered from habitat loss.
Feeding Habits: Hooded mergansers dive in fresh water to feed on small fish, crayfish and other crustaceans and aquatic insects.

Now comes the hard part. . .

It isn't that the remaining pieces are all sky blue and roughly the same shape that makes it so hard to finish this 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. That's a problem that time and patience will overcome. April was a great month for jigsaw and crossword puzzles, books, baseball games on tv and so on. But May appears to be an entirely different story, with a grand opening today that rivaled the best. Indoor activities will be sharply curtailed, there's a buzz of lawnmowers already, the duck eggs are hatching, windows need washing, Greg Johnson has emailed his open dates for golf, we're going to build a new mailbox stand, annuals need planting.
It's going to be really hard to get this puzzle finished.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

What girls do. . .

Christina, left, with the birthday girl.
She's ten today. . .and still likes to dress up and pretend. After the birthday party for adults at Melissa's today, our granddaughter Emily pulled out some fun costumes and she and her pal Christina dressed up and modeled the outfits. Though she's growing up so fast, we're grateful that she's still young enough to be a playful little girl. Earlier they were climbing trees in the backyard. We try not to worry.