Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"That's Bubbles Wedding. . ."

We dropped by Downtown Dan's condo on Chicago and Lake for a visit today. Enjoyed a pear salad and a slice from Jakeeno's at the Global Market downstairs while catching up with Kathleen's big brother. After lunch, we listened to Floyd Cramer on the original vinyl while Dan thumbed through a box of old family photos. A sweet time at Dan's place.

Dan's condo on the tenth floor looks westerly over a green south Minneapolis and growing
Uptown area. He feeds the birds on his outdoor window sill. No mosquitoes or mice at that height.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Don't you love a man in a uniform?

Richard Pearl was a senior at Cretin High when Kathleen's father took this picture in the Neilson back yard on Marshall Ave in St. Paul.  Kathleen is younger than Richard, and, she admits, there were sparks and everyone kind of knew it. (Dad probably told us to stand closer together, she laughs.) Richard married, became a schoolteacher and raised a family. His obituary says he was an avid golfer and today Kathleen and a life-long friend, Fran, will attend an open house in his memory at Keller Golf Course. She'll bring this and other photos.

Upon further review

Here's a closeup of what we hope is a Meadow Blazing Star, a desirable, tall species for birds and butterflies.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Meadow Blazing Star?

Meadow Blazing Star?
At first we thought it to be the dreaded purple loosestrife, scourge of the lakes, pretty to look at, invasive and troublesome. Then we heard it was Meadow Blazing Star, pretty to look at, haven to butterflies, late summer native species. Our attitude changed. Clearly, any action requires more research.
August rains, heat and sunshine turbo-charged native growth (thistles, spurge, wild grape and such) along the margins of the pond. We finally got out there yesterday and reaped a farmer's bounty of green stuff that willingly slipped its grip from the soft, greasy soil, yielding to a gentle tug with little resistance. A notable exception to this was an elephant-eared grouping of massive, tap-rooted opportunists that required a back-breaking yank before their satisfying and unconditional surrender to the sweating gardner.
Mr. H. V. Dang (above) bid adieu to his Minnesota home. He's now back in California, his week of geeky duties complete, leaving us to weed and worry about algae bloom and scum.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The weather was the best, everything else pretty much the same

Brand new at the Fair, this 20-hour old lamb in an intimate moment with her  new mother.
Kathleen, alone on
the Sky Ride.
Every year we walk in the side door of the Creative Activities building, examine the baked goods display, and Kathleen announces: "Next year I am going to enter my date cookies." We never do, of course, but that's just part of our tradition.
Kare 11's new sports guy, Ryan Shaver
We tried to get an autograph from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, but
it was a book signing, and Kathleen didn't bring along
her finished copy of "The Senator Next Door."

The more things change, the more they stay the same at the Minnesota State Fair. The St. Paul girl never misses, Stan skips it occasionally. So when we say today was the most fantastic State Fair weather day ever, we know what we're talking about. Never got over 72, low humidity and a nice breeze to mix the scent of Martha's fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies with eau de horse barn.

We went to all our familiar haunts, the art barn, newspaper museum, robot competition, machinery hill, grandstand, birth center, KARE11, and so on. We were going to get a mini- My Pilllow, but the lines were too long and besides, we forgot our coupon.
After gingerly stepping through the horse barn, we looked in the new fair museum and reminisced about the old days at the fair. Then out the next exit onto the Pronto Express bus, just in time for rush hour. Kathleen may go again tomorrow, though it's too late to enter the date cookies.
Stan has other priorities.

It's just the first day at the Fair, many more lambs to come. City girls just can't stay out of the barns.

It's Fair Day

St. Paul Katie will revisit the state fair today, keeping alive a tradition that spans a lifetime. Never miss. Her man will accompany, carry wet-naps and a camera.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dudley's Big Day, Stan not so much

It was supposed to be a Big Day for Dudley and Stan:
Clean out the neighbors' second story rain gutters then head south for an 11 a.m. tee time, stop on the way back for something greasy at the popular PrimeTime Saloon and Grill in Lydia. Fun. It's been in the plans for a week.
The phone rang at 8:12 a.m. today. It was Dudley. Plans have changed.
City crews are cutting trees across the street from his Minneapolis home. He hadn't noticed the No Parking signs last night. He sprang from the breakfast table to beg the tow truck operator. Any reality tv "Parking Wars" fan knows that this is no easy task, but somehow Dudley prevailed on the operator to back off and tow the neighbor car instead.
Relieved that his Big Day had been salvaged, Dudley went to move his black SUV and comply with the tree-cutters wishes. What! He discovered his next problem. Someone had smashed his window, broken in and damaged the steering column in a failed attempt to steal his car. He called the cops. Upon their arrival, he learned that a neighbor's car had been stolen, presumably by the same loser who failed to take Dudley's SUV.
That brought out the big CSI van from the Minneapolis Police Dept.. Crime Scene Investigators spent an hour carefully dusting Dudley's car for prints, the assumption being that the loser may have been stupid enough to leave clues on one vehicle before stealing the other.
Dudley (Andrew Sampson) was in amazingly good spirits today, considering. We'll try again Friday. Right now he's somehow driving to Blaine, to get a new steering column, his window taped in plastic, flapping in the wind.
A Big Day, yes, but not exactly as planned.

Andrew "Dudley" Sampson (left) with friends Ted and Marcy. He's still smiling today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Reunion Red

When it came time to choose a car to rent for the drive to the 50th Class Reunion of Jefferson Senior High, Alexandria, Stan's sister Sosie didn't hesitate. She picked this retro Dodge Challenger in Cardinal Red and Black and headed west with her classmate Cathy. If they had a reunion parade, Sosie would have been ready in a 70s look-a-like in school colors.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Want a kitty?

Photo by Lorlee Bartos
These 11-week-old brothers need a home. Our friend Lorlee has rescued and neutered them and they're ready for adoption. (Don't worry, he's not vicious, he's just yawning.)
Lorlee posts:
Two sweet babies available to a good home. These two boys are about 11 weeks old, very tame and good with kids. They are part of the family of cats we rescued, had neutered and fostered. They are now ready to find a permanent home. The one on the right is mostly gray and the other is a spotted tiger.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Dream on

For years, Sandy Story has been saying that our neighborhood pond should have a proper fountain in it, perhaps one she could enjoy over morning coffee on her porch. When she and husband Tom arrived in Norway yesterday, she wasted no time finding a possible design, kindly forwarding this example back home.
This one seems a bit showy for Norwegians, Sandy. Keep shopping.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Curling in Chaska

This could be great curling form, we wouldn't know. We dropped by the new Chaska Curling and Community Center and were taken with the magnificent changes to the humble corner at old 212 and 41.
We don't know anything about curling, most people don't. Friend Wayne in The Falls is a curler of note, we're told. You can see the attraction, sort of shuffleboard for scientists and very laid back and slow.... unless, of course, you're sweeping.
It was quiet on the ice the night we dropped by, but it's become a popular place and wonderful draw for the community and will host national events. Big doings are planned in the adjacent Fireman's Park during the upcoming Ryder Cup at Chaska's nearby Hazeltine National. Local folks hope to draw rich Europeans into town and relieve them of some euros and pounds. Shuttles every half hour.
Stan remembers when local activities mostly involved a game of Sheephead at the VFW or a dip in the clay hole.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

As advertised. . .

The directions are clear. Deck boards should be rain-free for two days before application of product. Allow 24 hours of drying time after application.
This requires a predictable weather-window not common to August in this state. Nonetheless, we took the word of the local forecasters and proceeded. At 3:30 p.m. Monday afternoon we applied the final swipe of Thompson's stain and sealer and waited.
Exactly 24 hours later, at 3:30 p.m. today, the heavens opened. A massive downpour, 3.5 inches reported in Shakopee. The fairways are flooded, streams over-topped. Drivers stranded.
And sure enough, the water on the newly sealed beaded up sweet as can be  . . .  just as advertised in the brochure.
We've asked Kathleen to buy a lottery ticket on her way home -- if she can make it through the waters.


Miguel says he's used to working in the hot sun, which is good,  because it got warm and sticky today. We're building a retaining wall to create a drainage swail to direct rainwater away from Joe's place next door. Miguel is an experienced landscaper, he's worked in the area for years. He has kids in the Shakopee schools, his wife stopped by and gave him a thumbs up on his latest project. Should be filled, raked and sodded by this time tomorrow.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Midway in the Deck Project

Two of the posts succumbed to rot from all the freeze, thaw, snow, rain, sun exposure. They'll be replaced.
Ballusters will be retained, we'll support them with new cedar rails.

After. . .

We've added a landing. We'll reattach railing soon. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Apologies to Prof. Deutsch

Men of Easy Company, 506th PIR, in Normandy
Guilt, perhaps as much as anything else, sparked Stan’s interest in World War II history, which has now inspired a September study trip to retrace the assault on Europe by the famous 101st Airborne Division.

Stan skipped virtually every lecture and ignored all required readings for Prof. Harold Deutsch’s "History of the Second World War" at the University of Minnesota. There were excuses. It was a miserable cold winter quarter in 1969, the lectures began at 7:50 a.m. in a huge anonymous auditorium on the West Bank -- plus, he worked full-time as a night dispatcher at the Blood Bank. He had other priorities — like maintaining a 2S deferment.

Prof. Deutsch was a gifted lecturer and internationally-praised author. Well-respected for his command of fascinating aspects of the war, from cloak-and-dagger spy stuff to the horror of the Eastern Front. Stan skipped it all.

He had enrolled in the course as a Pass-Fail proposition to fulfill some graduation requirements. With help from a friend who had already taken it, Stan passed and received his ill-gotten credit without cracking a book.

Was it a guilty conscience that sparked a life-long interest in the topic? The countless books, movies, documentaries, museums over the years? Even Winston Churchill’s ponderous five-volume work devoured. And now this.

In September Stan will join 35 like-minded souls on a “Band of Brothers” study trip that begins in Taccoa, Georgia and terminates in Hitler’s Eagle’s nest in the Bavarian Alps. The group will meticulously relive the experiences of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Division on its epic path through six countries.
We'll retrace E Company route from Georgia to Hitler's nest.
(We won't parachute into Normandy, however.)
The "students" learned today that they will be accompanied and lectured by renown historian Ronald Drez, author of numerous books on the topic, and also the interviewer and personal friend of many of the surviving heroes of this airborne company. Ron was Stephen Ambrose's primary researcher for the book, Band of Brothers. They were great friends and Ambrose was Ron’s mentor. It was Stephen Ambrose’s book that caught the eye of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and HBO. Ambrose was an executive producer on the HBO series, which was based on his book.

Now Stan is studying hard, motivated, reading and re-reading materials, looking forward to chatting with experts.

Were Prof. Deutsch alive today, we’re sure he’d say “Enjoy your extra credit, all is forgiven.”


Photo, left. 
In 2014 Stan met Tom Blakeley, 90, at the World War II museum in New Orleans. A member of The Greatest Generation, Tom jumped into Normandy with the 82nd Airborne, landing in a cemetery near St. Mere Eglise. Stan will be there in September.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Hickory sticks, plus-fours

Ties and saddle shoes. Classy.

Wood shaft will bend, won't break.

We happened on this retro foursome yesterday, merrily making their way, garbed in very cool throwback attire. We had to pull over and ask, to be sure we weren't in a time warp. Turns out, they not only were wearing gentle togs, but were using authentic golf clubs, persimmon heads, hickory shafts and all. Jeff enthusiastically promised to email some info as to their why and wherefore, then they were off to No. 17. Good luck to them, so far no email. Perhaps a handwritten note will arrive in the mailbox next week, Hope they use enough postage.

Had to settle for a golf cart. No caddies available. Bags stuffed with antique clubs, used for entire round.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Back to School?

There are earrings to match, natch.
It was hard to tell just who had more fun today, Grandma or Emily, clothes-shopping for a pre-teen at the new favorite store -- Justice.
Emily's now too big for Gymboree, of course. Justice is a new - more hip place for our growing girl, increasingly aware of trends and fashion. Grandma happily escorted her throughout the store, chatting and sorting and watching her try on this and that, all the while reveling in the many years ahead performing this most delightful duty.

At right: Emily calls this outfit "Paris."

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Fiftieth Class Reunion

All the ladies are 68.

Sosie is welcome to pick her own corsage from
the backyard. Joe's got roses.
Here's a snapshot from the 1950s show "I've Got a Secret." The secret was that this is an entire graduating class. . . celebrating their 50th High School reunion. (That would make them 68 years old in the photo).
This photo is making the rounds in anticipation of the upcoming 50th Reunion of the Alexandria Jefferson High class of 1966. Stan's sister Sosie is about to arrive from California to join the celebration.
We eagerly anticipate. We doubt she'll be wearing a corsage. And we're positive she'll look much better than this sweet sextet.

Sunday, August 07, 2016


Over 15 years, water has crept into the tiny crack between post and fascia.
Freeze, thaw, sun, rain, snow, ice, heat, cold.
We've cleared the rot, now the patch and replacement post.
And more. Hardware, not holes, this time.

What started out as a simple maintenance task has developed into a month's worth of this and that with the discovery of cedar rot on the front deck. We considered starting over. . . an investment of $3,000 perhaps. . . and opted for the wait and see, let's fix 'er up approach.
A visit to the local home store produced a pile of green-treated sticks for replacement parts. Some clever new hardware updates promised to make the job quick and easy. We sprung for it.

Despite this new setback for the homeowners, things just keep getting better for the old Army guy. Home Depot has erected a sign in the parking lot next to the handicapped zone: This space "Reserved for Veterans. Thank you for Your Service."
Who woulda thunk it? Our own parking spot!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

27 holes -- pickles and pilsners

Andrew preferred McClure's garlic pickles over the dill Gedney pack.

The last time Stan and Andrew Sampson hit the links, it was in January of 1998 in the shadow of LA's famed Griffith Observatory with Randy Anderson and the late Paul Matthies. The event was memorialized on the cover of the the mythic Golf magazine, a copy of which came out last night after the duo completed 27 holes on a sultry day in New Prague. Much to discuss over pickles and apple cider. A point of agreement? Swings have improved over the years ... and they'll definitely do this again.