Friday, December 29, 2017

Old habits die hard. . .

Kathleen loves to shovel the snow. Always has. Even now, with everything taken care of for us, she keeps a shovel sharpened by the patio. So every once in a while these days, you hear a scrape, scrape, scrape coming from the frozen outdoors.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas 2017

Front row, Danny, Stan, Kathleen, Birdie; Second row grandson Max, Marcy, granddaughter Emily, Missy, Jennifer with her boyfriend's dog Breezy. Below, Nevin from Turkey with her second family, Emily, Jennifer, Stan with new Christmas baseball cap and neck warmer. Emily is now taller than her aunt Jen and surpassed Grandma long ago. The only way to get her to fit in the photo was to display her horizontally.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Oh, The weather outside is frightful . . .

Yes, the weather outside is frightful, today's high was 2 degrees this morning, but there is business that must be done. So Birdie bundled up in JD's hand-me-down hand-knit sweater and Emily's baby socks. Should be good to go.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

This year's cookies

Photo taken while visiting with Santa

Every year, Santa and Mrs. Claus have made it over to Tom and Sandy Story’s house to visit their grandchildren and hand out gifts. Some of the grandchildren are now in college.
We all look forward to the visit. But this year, Santa and Mrs. Claus had moved their toy headquarters to St. Paul and would’t be able to make it to their former neighbors, at the usual place. What to do? Lucy and Cam were so looking forward to the annual visit and it would be a shame to disappoint. 
So we cooked up virtual Santa. An important phone call was made by Santa to Lucy and Cam’s parents' car,  taking the family from Wisconsin to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas. Santa carefully explained over their speaker-phone that he had to change the route this year and he wouldn’t be able to see them, but the gifts would all be there as usual. By the looks of the faces on the photo taken by a parent (above) and then transmitted to “Santa”, everything will be alright and we’ll all have a Merry Christmas. You have one too.

Last year's Story Christmas before we moved and Santa couldn't make it at the usual time. That's Lucy and
Cam, true believers, in the front. The rest of them, not so much.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas excess

Our host said “at last year's party we ran out of food and it was so embarassing and it’s never going to happen again.”
Residents and friends at the Chicago Lofts jammed a condo on the 12th floor tonight for their annual holiday party and helped themselves to the largess. Including us. Then US Representative Keith Ellison dropped in, just back from D.C., and of course we had to get a picture — out of focus due to excitement and incompetence.
 Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Cut to the quick

Our move to St. Paul meant a new groomer for Birdie. Today’s appointment for her Christmas cut went well, until we saw the blood stains on the upholstery and carpet. Quick action and cold water got them; Birdie’s foot had restarted bleeding from a toenail clipped too close to the quick. Emily’s baby stocking was slipped on in case it starts bleeding again. Maybe we’ll keep looking for a groomer.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday during the Vikings game

The Vikings had the Bengals well in hand by the fourth quarter so we broke off and took a walk past Ft. Snelling. Beautiful, warmish, overcast day, you could hear the snow crunching as these runners flashed by. Home again, we binged shamelessly on "The Crown."

Friday, December 15, 2017

Star of Bethlehem

Christmas cookies cool in all available kitchen spaces as their seasonal smells fill the new apartment. The cookie baker is hard at work, stirring, rolling and cutting. These Star of Bethlehem samples come out every year and go fast unless carefully guarded for later consumption or  Christmas company. Oh well, there are always broken and unpresentable ones available for casual munching.
One disappointment this year: Sadly, Rudolph will go without his traditional nose. The empty red dot candy vial couldn't be refilled at the vendors we know of in this new community. Too bad. We'll make do.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Just the right day

It seemed like the right day to fix Dan’s garbage disposal. Overcast skies, light snow and nothing better to do. And he’s been waiting a couple months now. He mostly eats out so this is not a great inconvenience. We don’t know how to repair a garbage disposal but it didn’t look that hard on the Internet Machine we consulted.

We took a stab at it, to no result, and were grateful when Andrew called to see what was going on. We enlisted his help, he came over and we took it out, squirted some oil on it and whadda ya know. It was spinning again.

The hardest part was finding a parking place for a plumber and tools.
This is the best we could do for a photo of Plumber's Crack. Sorry.

We reinstalled it and then decided what the problem was. Metal, water and rare usage and the thing just rusted up. Dan just didn’t use the appliance often enough. We told him to spin it once in a while and we’d be good to go.

We retired to the ground floor and relaxed to the Christmas tunes turned out by some jug band at the Global Market.

It was just the right day to fix Dan’s disposal.
Here comes Santa Claus.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Mama D's last night

Got a chance to sample the fare at the newly-opened Mama D's in the Midtown Global Market last night. They threw a nice get - acquainted party for the Chicago Lofts (upstairs) and served up some southern-style treats, but none more pleasing than Mama D herself. The charming, bubbling 45 -year -old has been in the catering business for years, always cooking and managing for somebody else. She manages 18 booths at the Renaissance Festival, for example.
This is the first business of her very own though and it's off to a good, exciting start, it would seem. Besides the usual, her catering sideline has a contract with the Super Bowl committee to feed breakfast and lunch to 4,000 drivers working the event. Kudos or rather "Hallelujah, Amen!" to the part-time youth pastor. Her specialty is southern cuisine, with a huge menu of Louisiana/Mississippi meaty, spicy delights, but also some vegan items for those not so inclined.
Those who remember a couple of closed Mama D's restaurants in the Twin Cities market years ago, no relation. "I am the original Mama D!" she says with a laugh.
This new entrepreneur certainly is.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

First Christmas Party

We met a whole bunch of new people tonight at the annual Plaza holiday party. That's our building manager, Catherine, dishing up some salad for the fun seekers. Now if we can remember everyone's name. Would have taken more pictures but it was so dark I couldn't focus. Oh well. We get another chance tomorrow at the Mama D's soft opening at the Global Market. Party, party, party.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Christmas is coming

We got an ax, trudged through the snow, and chopped down the perfect apartment-sized Christmas tree, tied to the car and brought it home today, the first errand after Stan got back Sunday from California. Well, actually we went to Target and bought a pre-wired job, wheeled it up the elevator from the garage and hooked it up in the corner. We had thrown out the old one after we had used it for 20 years, but decided we still needed a tree, so we're starting with this one. Decorations are still in the storage room... the ones that survived the move. This tree "rotates" but we don't think we'll be using that feature. Birdie, foreground, is disinterested in the whole Christmas deal.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Lemon tree, very pretty

Just the thing to squeeze on your fresh tuna.
I always hear the Peter Paul and Mary song whenever I see this tree, but never knew the actual lyrics. Here they are:

When I was just a lad of ten, my father said to me
"Come here and take a lesson from the lovely lemon tree"
"Don't put your faith in love, my boy" my father said to me
"I fear you'll find that love is like the lovely lemon tree"
Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat
Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat
One day beneath the lemon tree, my love and I did lie
A girl so sweet that when she smiled, the stars rose in the sky
We passed that summer lost in love, beneath the lemon tree
The music of her laughter hid my father's words from me
Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat
Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat
One day she left without a word, she took away the sun
And in the dark she left behind, I knew what she had done
She left me for another, it's a common tale but true
A sadder man, but wiser now, I sing these words to you
Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat
Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat

Songwriters: Will Holt
Lemon Tree lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bigger still

This tuna, we believe, at 165 pounds, weighs more than Hai. . . unless he ate too much meat and potatoes and snacks in the onboard cafe. It came with a fight, oh my, the stories to tell. He caught three, gave up two. Will eat one, with help from friends.
The fun is in the catching, not the eating.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It's over 100 pounds. . .

Hai caught his first tuna weighing over 100 pounds. Is he excited? Yes. We didn't say how much Hai weighs.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

An overcast afternoon in a still garden

Perfect conditions today for some flower shots. The overcast skies and the stillness make shooting specimens simple and enjoyable.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Storm clouds to the East

Cooler today, high of 63. Sun back tomorrow.

Air conditioner surround

After a break for Thanksgiving, we got back to work on the air conditioner surround, a project to hide and soften an unattractive and noisy, yet functional appliance. A coat of paint works wonders to change mungo (leftovers and scraps) into a clean look. The backside will be covered with acoustic tiles to deaden more sound. Then the final coat of paint. Plants will be added on the top shelf.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Back lit

Backlighting from the sun makes these grasses pop.

Sun shy

Shade lovers all, these species stay away from the sun, unlike their brethren in the background. They're kept permanently under the patio roof, away from the light. They like it there. They've all been nursed from clippings.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Lobster Leftovers

Plenty of lobster leftovers from Thanksgiving lobster dinner. What to do? Sandwiches?  Nah.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Morning sun brings out dew drops

Dewy-fresh drops on succulent garden this morning here at Hotel California.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Day One

Scraps of wood from previous projects have different paint schemes but will be unified with a
 fresh coat of white when done
Sound absorbers (plants and ceiling tile) will be added,
as well as a thematic design.
An air conditioner (yes, it is still coming on) creates an eyesore and a noise nuisance. A shroud made of leftovers (mungo) would be just the thing. Stan spent the day yesterday getting started while Hai went to fetch his Mom and got stuck in LA traffic. Stan had a nice day assembling the shroud, Hai not  so much. We'll take a break for Thanksgiving, then finish the therapy, er, shroud. Hand work is becoming easier and easier with less fatigue. Something to be grateful for this day.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Today's fishing report

Two men gaffed a fish in the foreground while Hai had one on-line in the background.
Hai brought home some relatively small fish yesterday, orange Lincoln fish, not too popular, but his Mom loves 'em. So he cleaned a couple and she'll get them when he picks her up for our lobster tail Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Lobster tales

Six wriggling lobsters made it home with Hai this morning after he and a friend set and then
emptied his traps in San Diego bay. Now what?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Today's hike

You can't see Big Bear from below, it's hiding behind the range in front. One of the rewards of the hike.
It’s not much of a mountain as mountains go; more like a big hill. But this is what it looks like from the top, along with the obligatory selfie of the climber. After days of four mile hikes on flat land, it seemed like today was the day to try it — because it was there. Rough path was good for balance. Felt great to get on top, nice view of the golf course and school below as well as Big Bear. Now that’s a mountain.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Close counts when it comes to the pope

Laurie, our reporter in Vatican City, sends along this photo of the Holy Father. We'd have to say this is pretty good, probably as close an audience she'll get for making a plea on our behalf. Thank you Laurie.

Good Morning!

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Coliseum

Laurie Hartmann, my former business manager, is in Rome today and is out taking pictures of all the places. Says she has an audience with the pope tomorrow. She says, given the chance, she will ask the Holy Father to pray for me. Hmm.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

One more fish story. . .

Deckhands prepare the day's catch.
Shark absorber
A 50-pound short-fin Mako shark got too close to the boat and ended up on the plates of hungry fishermen, myself included. Deckhands had spotted the creature circling the boat and attempted to reach it with long gaffs, but to no avail. Then Hai, my partner, tossed a baited hook in the shark's path and he took it, tugged towards the boat in the process. Now reachable, deckhands ably and eagerly dispatched him. They butchered and divvied the prize to all hands, it's a favorite. Soaked in milk overnight, one slab was grilled today, after a proper marinade. Tender and pure, it had a pleasant, neutral taste as the white meat fell with ease before a butterknife. No bones, of course, sharks don’t have any. They do, however, have very sharp teeth, so it didn't live long once hauled on the deck. A short-fin Mako is the world's fastest shark, capable of speeds exceeding 40 mph. (Wikipedia)

A milk bath and a marinade.

One to go. . .

We installed the first of two outdoor tropical fans today. Two hours. Hai actually did most of the ladder work; Stan read instructions and assembled parts. We don't need a fan today in Hotel California (70 and sunny means chilly nights) but it will be nice some days. Hard part was figuring out the wiring. It was pre-wired a few years ago and we couldn't figure out the electrician's work. Finally got it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Photo by Stan Rolfsrud

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Today's lunch

While he was grilling sesame blue fin outside last night, Hai had tomato sauce bubbling on the stove inside, reducing some vine ripened tomatoes into a complex sauce. He eventually added Bonitos ( I think) and today they made a wonderful lunch spooned from a pot (Ca Chien Sot Chua Ngot?) that tasted like a thick-cut tender pork chop. No fish taste -- just firm filets swimming in a lovely red base. Sorry about the paper plate, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. There's a yellowtail steak in the fridge to grill tonight. We'll use a proper dinner plate.