Saturday, December 28, 2019

How to use blog to remember Jen


This blog has given us some comfort in the days following the loss of our daughter. It is filled with stories and pictures of her many life experiences. If you knew and cared for Jennifer, you might wish to do what we do too.

Look in the upper left corner of this blog and find the search box. Type in Jennifer and it should sort a treasury of photos and stories involving our Jennifer. There are quite a few pages, you may wish to just scan for the ones you’re interested in. Perhaps you can search your name too.

Friends are welcome to visit this blog whenever. No password needed, it is public domain.

If you have difficulty or think you might not be getting the full documentation, keep trying or let us know. There is an awful lot here and we hope you enjoy using this to give comfort at our great loss.

Stan and Kathleen, hosts

Saturday, December 21, 2019

More progress

Today's dispatch from the construction site at Hotel California:

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Work continues without old guy

Hai sent this today to prove he wasn't out ocean fishing. He's continued working on the pond project, despite the loss of his partner, who returned to Minnesota in time for The Big Chill and Christmas. Plantings will eventually soften the coarse rocky texture around waterfall, he explains. We promise to finish before the Crazy Horse monument.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

No early birds

Just spotted this outside the window on a rainy day at Hotel California. We've been working the past month on building a pond here and we've got the vinyl liner down and it is filling with water. But we're months away from when this bird can go fishing for koi. Not that it is invited.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Hey Minnesota, we've got snow too

View of Mt. Jacinto over the back fence of Hotel California. Lots of snow in the mountains. Drying out on mainland.

Friday, November 29, 2019

It rains is southern California, man it pours

At least now we know the pond will hold water.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Bridge Over the River Hai? -- The Ranger

Here’s November’s project at Hotel California, finished ahead of schedule and over budget. Eight sturdy redwood 2x4s were ripped, bent and glued to form the backbone and railings of this bridge, squeezed between matched sidewalk edges, that had been exposed with a borrowed cement saw and jackhammer. Why did the old retired guy build a bridge over the future fish pond? Boredom? Stroke therapy? Life fulfillment? No. He built it to get to the other side.

Friday, November 08, 2019


We took delivery today on five pallets of porous natural stone for the future fish pond and garden project in the backyard. Driver knew what he was doing, unloaded in 15 minutes. Two-wheeling  them around back will take a little longer.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Jack Hammer

Cutting his way through the sidewalk to make a seven-foot wide trench for the stream, Hai discovered the brute force of a jackhammer was more effective than a concrete saw. The trench will clear the way for a bridge and stream feature on this year's project: connecting koi ponds and waterfall. Meanwhile, arches for the supporting bridgework are being laminated from redwood strips, below.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Just ten

Does this look like a disappointed fisherman? Well, despite the nice catch of  vacuum-packed booty he’s weighing up for tomorrow’s flight back home, Jay was disappointed with the ten specimens he boated. No blue fin. He and Hai had joined a fleet of 10 ocean-going craft for a three-day trip 100 miles off-shore in search of the legendary prize. They were close too, but the entire cadre of 200 hunters was skunked. The weather had changed, the bait fish skedadled and the blue fin followed, leaving empty waters and broken dreams in their wake. So his relatively meagre catch of 10 rockfish and poor man’s lobster will have to do for now. Next time, Jay. Back to work as a flight controller in Texas. At least you have stories to tell the gang.

Emily, 13. October 2019

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Halloween is a big deal here too

Our block around Hotel California features many homes with seasonal decorations, but none as spectacular as this spider climbing down its web, watched by a coven of witches. People really enjoy all the fuss associated with this holiday. Go figure.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

From one, many

Happy to report that the fish have been doing what fish are supposed to do at the Hotel California fish farm. Just got here yesterday and Hai was eager to scoop some Bettas from the sparkling, cycling water in one of the plastic tanks, showing off the handi-work of a single parent — and two retired guys. The farm just keeps chugging, with food created by the sun as regular nourishment. Need a handful of beautiful bettas? We can ship.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

September 26, 1980 to 2019

Thirty-nine years -- and still chocolate fireworks!

Monday, September 09, 2019

My forebears

The old press in the back room got moved out of the Chaska Weekly Valley Herald before I showed up, but just barely. I had 40 years to take this newspaper and others into the consolidated digital marvel they are today. Lots of help, of course. Here, in tribute, are the boss and two of the back room pressmen proudly at their state-of-the art posts.
These were beasts to operate, frustrating and stubborn, dangerous.  But they got the job done for years. If we ever Make American Great Again, please Lord, don't go back to this!

Monday, September 02, 2019

It could happen again

Heading back to Trout Lake with a bunch of Grumpy Old Men. It could happen again.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

A gathering of Rolfsruds plus one

Virg treated at The Scoreboard in Minnetonka tonight; from left, Stan's nephew Alex, Virg, Amber, Nephew Aaron, Kathleen and Stan. Virg’s significant other wasn’t there: Kim is at a conference Up North.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

At last, a Leaping Deer

We've been living here on Leaping Deer Lane for a year now. . . and today I saw my first deer. Two actually, a beautiful doe and a fawn. And just to mark the occasion, I think, mama gave me a little leap as we parted company. Maybe see you again?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! 

It’s been waiting in Andrew's garage for months. 
Stan’s Christmas present was slow to arrive, but it seems like it just kept getting forgotten. Last night Santa finally showed up. Andrew delivered the tardy gift, no wrapping, no fooling: a brand new tool belt, worthy of appearance on HGTV, and so very macho, full of pockets and places. Like the manly man he is, Stan strapped on the work ware and began filling it with tools, finding a hammer for the hook up in the back, just like the big guys do. Now if there was just a project requiring massive tool applications. Not yet. But we’re ready when it comes up! 
Thank you Andrew, your Christmas gift is coming in September.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Chocolaty, sticky, nostalgic

Mark and Karen's long-time project in the woods.
“Put the marshmallows back, sweetie,” I said to my wistful, 13-year-old granddaughter, Emily. We were at Cub Foods, filling a cooler with road food for our 250-mile adventure to see my classmates, Mark and Karen, in their northern Wisconsin summer home. Instead, we grabbed some yogurt, clementines, apples, and fruit juice, as her mother had instructed . . . and of course the old standby, Cheez It, original flavor.

I didn’t think we’d use the marshmallows. The possibility of smores around a campfire was as likely as hearing a gentle rendition of “Kumba ya, my Lord” from Mark, I thought. But I would be wrong.

Our hosts have developed a gorgeous summer home over the past 30 years, tucked beside a spectacular chain of lakes, south of Lake Superior. It could now serve as year-round housing, but they winter in Stoughton, where they had careers and still have family.

We gabbed relentlessly on the front deck beneath their towering pines, in the silence of the perfect Wisconsin summer day. Earlier, a curious deer, ears erect, had stopped by to see what was going on. Sophie, the aging Bird dog, put a swift end to that incursion, once she belatedly spotted the interloper. Like many of us, however, she has hearing loss and was oblivious to the shouted commands by her master, as she merrily chased the deer way back into the woods, leaving Mark to patiently retrieve his faithful retriever.

Emily joined us on the big deck for a while, and was tasked with finding the classmates in the junior high yearbook. She did, thankfully, but was stunned to learn that grandpa was not bald in seventh grade. We laughed at past stories, enjoyed the present, and spoke of the future. We lost track of the day, and soon it was time to board for a pontoon ride to a 30’s restaurant -- made famous again by Johnny Depp in “Public Enemy”, -- which was the site of a Dillinger shootout just two lakes away. We looked for bullet holes as we waited for dinner.

Taken at nightfall from the boat house on the shore line
Emily piloted the big pontoon, grinning from ear to ear, giving wide berth to the loons so as not to disturb. Home at twilight, we started a lakeside campfire, and what do you know, Karen brought out the graham crackers, chocolates, and marshmallows. Emily made smores for each of us. Chocolaty, sticky, nostalgic.

As night fell beside the still water, we named the stars, the close of a perfect evening with old friends, an unbroken bond, more than half a century old.

Mark may have been inspired, but he did not sing.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Eastern bloc trainer jet, made in Italy? Yugoslavia? Need some help here. 

Spent part of the morning at the end of the Flying Cloud runway, watching take-offs and landings of vintage craft with my new neighbor, Andy. Watching the old WW II and Vietnam hardware at the Air Expo is always fun, but particularly so with a former fighter pilot who can interpret the squawks from the control tower. Andy, my age from Fergus Falls, flew F-111s for the military during the Vietnam era and later piloted commercial craft for a major airline. He’s retired now and mostly pilots his sailboat on Minneapolis lakes. We gazed skyward at formations of old prop training craft, got a glimpse of an Eastern bloc jet landing, and saw what we believed to be a B-36, similar to the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bomber. Free entertainment, taken where you can get it.

Sunday, July 07, 2019


A deserted Blackbird Cafe served as the calm backdrop for an afternoon fete Sunday. Looking like Ladies Night luminaries, the three girls hosted Stan to a late lunch and birthday salute at the south Minneapolis locale. A good time was had by all. From left, Jennifer, Marcelline, Melissa, Emily, Stan and Kathleen.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

We went to Michael's today. . .

We went to Michael's today, and Grandpa couldn't say No.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Happy July Fourth!

Eden Prairie Fireworks, 2019
Our Dear Grandchild, Emily, age 13
Photo by her mother, Melissa

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Old friends

Attended Abbey Point Monthly Dinner last night and enjoyed an evening of genuine fun and laughter. The dinner has been going on every month since we started it twenty years ago, probably because the resident seniors are reminded that whenever the Civil Defense siren sings, it's time to eat together and swap stories. Over the years, the attendance has varied, but one rule is rarely broken: No discussion of Association issues. A wonderful gathering of neighbors has resulted and we drove over last night to enjoy it once again. We're happy in our new place, but nostalgia creeps in as we feel the closeness of this perfect-sized community on the Shakopee golf course.

Monday, July 01, 2019

For those of you who missed it. . .

There was a visitor to the gravesite, totally missed by the photographer, but Kathleen spotted it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Memories on a perfect June day

Dad has been gone for 25 years this summer, but the simple gravesite in this gorgeous setting still hold memories of the sweet little homestead near Farwell where Mom (D. 2015) and Dad spent final days together. Visited the historic Trysil cemetery yesterday and the trees have grown some, the blooms are out, and it still holds all its charm with the view over a quiet lake. It was a perfect June day, and you could barely see their old place through the greenery, flanked by six stout evergreens, representing, for me, their progeny.
A more peaceful site could not be found.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Army stories department

How being caught wearing somebody else’s name while on guard duty (an Article 15 offense) led to a promotion to sergeant.

First off, you have to understand that being a commander of a brigade headquarters company ain’t no picnic. No respect. The lowly captain is in charge of a motley bunch of guys who work for brigade level officers superior in rank to the company captain. So at best, the captain gets grudging cooperation from his unit members, ranging from privates to a full-bird colonel. It’s like being in charge of the dirty laundry. Essential work, but not exactly the best job.

I was a drafted specialist four that afternoon loafing in the barracks when it was suggested that I switch places with someone on guard duty for a reason long since forgotten. I did, putting on his name and reporting for the next round. I knew it was a court martial offense or Article 15 to do it, but for some reason was convinced the low-level risk was worth it.

Within three minutes of my arrival at the guard shack full of off-duty guards, the jig was up. Caught by an no-nonsense sergeant. I was sent back immediately to my Orderly Room to report to the First Sergeant what I had done. Top took it in stride, lectured me, and I left. I had no idea if he was going to report me to the commander or not.

Fearing this, the next day I asked to see the old man, figuring if I took the initiative, it would stand in my favor. I figured he’d let me know what he knew of my offense.

After reporting smartly at attention, I stood at ease and mumbled vague generalities about “wanting to get myself straight” or “do some good soldiering” without letting on the reason why I was there. This must have been music to the captain’s ears, used to hearing draftees give defiant excuses, sham, complain, rebel, or scribble FTA on every wall they saw. He seemed pleased and chatted amiably for a moment before excusing me.

"Whew," I thought to myself upon leaving. Top didn’t tell on me after all. The old man knows nothing of my offense.

Days later I got a call from my new friend. “Specialist,” he said jovially, “the information section you are in has a slot for a sergeant and no officer in charge. Let’s cut some orders to make you an Acting Jack and you can be the NCOIC.”

A couple days later I had the hard stripes sewn in place, a genuine field promotion.

The next time I pulled guard duty, I was the sergeant in charge of a platoon, checking it for fakers wearing somebody else's name, for shame.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Get on my back, I'll carry us

Pretty good impression of Kirby Puckett rounding the bases by granddaughter Emily at last night's Twins game. Only thing, he makes the trip around the bases without a cellphone. A Father's Day treat from Melissa for the four of us, including Mom, of course.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Father's Day Catch

A 150-pound blue fin tuna pulled from the ocean miles off San Diego harbor lost a battle to Hai on Father's Day. The monster, held for the camera with the assistance of two deckhands, will be cut up and distributed amongst his friends. (He doesn't like fish) Choice belly cuts, full of the good stuff, await the old man on his next trip to the coast. MMM. Omegas galore.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Beyond Meat gets trial

Had my first Beyond Meat plant-based burger today, courtesy of our vegan Jennifer. I was curious what it would taste like and how it compared to a traditional meat-based burger. I don't eat red meat so I am no one to judge, and I like vegetables on their own, that aren't trying to be something else.

But I fried one up (Kathleen opted not to join) and it was pretty good. Kathleen noticed that it was very red for a burger, and I reminded her that it was plant-based so no requirement to make it medium-well. Probably the red was from beet juice or something. It wasn't as dense and a little more uniform than the average meat burger. As I recall.

Three minutes on a side as the directions advised, a dash of ketchup and an onion and oh boy. Four on a scale of five.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar's dad wrote up my uncle in 1953

Front page news that day in the Bismarck Tribune was the inauguration of Dwight David Eisenhower, as 34th president of the United States of America. On the backside of that yellowed clipping is a story about Halvor Rolfsrud, who that day was reluctant to be named speaker of the North Dakota state legislature.

The story was written by Jim Klobuchar, Tribune staff writer at the time, and the father of now U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar.

The story was about a power grab by young upstarts who find a leader in the older 45-year-old Rolfsrud, my amazing uncle.

“The 45-year-old farmer-lawmaker is something of a rarity by present day standards,“ Klobuchar wrote in 1953. “Virtually penniless when he took over his his father’s farm near Keene, Rolfsrud has since burgeoned his farm holdings to 5,000 acres, invested successfully in a coal mine and dabbled in a variety of other interests to a point where his assets are now reported near $400,000.

“But outwardly he remains cautious and reserved. His friends credit him with a flinty determination in rough going, and his rise from comparative indigence offers nothing in rebutal. He retains a humility, however, which is both impressive and genuine.

“‘ It was an honor to be named for the speakership,” he said, “but at the same time it would have been embarrassing to assume its responsibilities. There were others who had more seniority than I, and who were more familiar with parlimentary procedure.”’


The article continues for about 20 more inches, (see photos) extolling the virtues of my father’s big brother, called to be his father’s right hand when he was crushed in a terrible accident and eventually died in 1920. As a result, Halvor only reached eighth grade.

My cousin Harold wanted to tell his father’s story, and I told him I had seen Klobuchar’s write-up, where it was, I didn’t know. I found it today, here’s a picture of it. I hope you can read it, about a son of immigrant grandparents I never knew, who had an American dream for themselves and their progeny, living lives of hardship, but leaving a legacy of honor and virtue.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

1948 chevy, be it ever so humble

The elder statesman towers over Rambler upstart in Lake Andrew driveway.
The only known photograph of my first car, purchased for $50 from Johnny Seim. Ran terrific except spilled oil from breather pipe. Needed 25 cent quart of reprocessed oil every 50 miles, necessitating a curb-side stop in Fergus Falls on the way to college in Moorhead. No engine check light. Dry lifters went rat-a-tat-tat to remind you. Always carried a trunk-load of spare oil bottles beside a big tire. Interior dolled up with carpet scraps from my summer job at Engstrom Furniture. Sat up straight with lots of headroom, vision. Room for three in front. Girls sat over beside you if things were special. Otherwise no.
My roommate had an accident with it, severely damaging opponent. No harm reported to my car.
In photo above, it appears to be getting a "jump" in May 1967 from Mom's Rambler, age 3. Or was it the other way around?
Donated away in 1967 when I moved to Mpls, the 1948 Chevy was tough. Auto factories had recently retooled from building tanks for the Army and apparently had plenty of steel and habits left on hand. It lorded over the younger models as legendary champion of Fargo, North Dakota, demolition derby until death finally claimed it at age 20.
"You just couldn't kill it," one bemused spectator observed to me later.
So proud.


Circa 1970, Mom gathered three sons and a son-in-law for a hearty sing. Virgil, Stan, Steve and Ron.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

A shed, just beyond the edge of the sacred ground at Omaha Beach, was the site of the court-martial of an American solider who raped a local woman, shortly after the landing. He was executed immediately on Eisenhower’s orders. The Russians, the Germans, the Japanese tolerated, even encouraged rape as a practical means of terrorizing “inferiors.” The Americans did not. These and other values were defended with Allied blood, and we must see they never slip quietly away.

Hunter's grad party

Hunter and Paulina in front of trophy and memory display
Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines was the site Friday of an Ice Cream Party honoring Hunter Underwood, high school graduate. Virgil, Kim and Stan joined Ron and Linda at the gala affair, attended by classmates, teachers, friends and coaches. A magnificent display of trophies and honors, accumulated since grade school, was set off by glorious graduation centerpieces acquired and nurtured by his Grandma Becky. Purpose of our visit, of course, was to reunite family members, and this we did. We met Hunter's girlfriend and were impressed, Erik and his daughters were there, though Shana was too sick to join. Adam and Kim and Landon greeted us as well as the hosts, of course, Dave and Amy. Did I mention Al? He was happily there too of course, along with an Underwood contingent and lots of other friends we didn't meet. Did I forget someone? The drive to Des Moines was deemed worthwhile, with a special breakfast Saturday morning at Becky and Al's new townhome.

Rolfsrud "children." Virg, Linda, Becky, Stan. Hunter is Becky's grandchild. Amy's eldest.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

At Hotel California, you can check out anytime you please. . .

Tomorrow is Get Away Day. Back to Minnesota to see the Twins on live tv. Don't get them here. :(

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Father and son yellow-tail

Yellow-tail tuna

Andrew took a break from his medical studies in St. Louis and flew here for a fishing trip with his Dad. They got the expected results on their day trip into Mexican waters. There was work time, too, finishing a dust-free storage closet in the garage for the salon supplies. Stan and Andrew both fly back on Wednesday.

Secret ingredient to storage shed? Lots of
glue and factory edges. Nail gun hard on
sensitive ears, hence the earphones.