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FALL 2011

by women… for women… about women…

Inside: • Oprah - Up Close and Personal • Her Honor, the Mayor • Color Me Green A BRAINERD DISPATCH PUBLICATION


FALL 2011 | her voice

We want your recipes! Do you have a really great Wild Game recipe you would like to share? We are taking submissions for our

Taste of the Wild Northwoods Cooking Traditions cookbook! Go online to: and fill out the recipe submission form! Or send your (legible) recipe card to: Taste of the Wild • Nikki Lyter 506 James Street • Brainerd, MN 56401

*Please make sure to include the following: • Title of Recipe • Prep Time (include any marinade times) • Cooking Time • Yield • Recipe Category (Appetizer • Entree • Side Dish • Other)

• Ingredients (using standard measurements) • Instructions • Your Name (so we can credit your recipe) • Phone Number/Email (in case of questions)

• City, State you are from

The Taste of the Wild Cookbook is scheduled to publish at the beginning of November 2011. More details to follow!

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C o ntents Features



The Yeh Sisters - In Tune. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Read how parents Tim and Kathleen Yeh nurture the musical and artistic gifts of their daughters; Rebecca and Sarah. by Carolyn Corbett


Cherrywood: Leading the Color Way. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Out of a small building in Brainerd, this growing cottage industry sells hand-dyed fabrics on the Internet. by Amy Sharpe

Catching the Wind Known as Winona . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Well-credentialed with graduate degrees, Winona LaDuke works to protect the lands and cultures of indigenous communities. by Georgianne Nienaber

The Buddy Walk - So No One Walks Alone . . . . . . . . . . 23 Parents of Down syndrome children support each other and their children in the Buddy Walk. by Mary Aalgaard


Making Music with a Message . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 This is the story of a young woman who through patience and prayer is building a career as a “musicianary�. by Sheila Helmberger

Her Honor, the Mayor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 It takes problem solving and enthusiasm to lead a community. Nancy Adams brings both to Pequot Lakes. by Karen Ogdahl

In This Issue 23

editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

health and wellness . . . . . . 34

Te c h Ty p e s by Meg Douglas

Living With Diabetes by Sandra Opheim

yard and garden . . . . . . . . . . 10 Color Me Green by Kathleen Kr ueger

adventure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 In Search of Adventure by Jenny Holmes

travel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Oprah - Up Close and Per sonal by Melody Banks

witty woman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

34 36

Hole-In-One by Joan Hasskamp

education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 The Cuer navaca 5 by Jan Kur tz

clubs and clusters . . . . . . . . 28 S i x t y Ye a r s o f S t i t c h e s a n d Laughter by Dor is Stengel

business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Evergreens Up Nor th by Bever ly Abear


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camp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 C h e f Ke l l y Wo o d ma n by Cynthia Bachman

spirituality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Who am I - Now? by Sue Ster ling

her say . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Getting Older & Wiser by Audrae Gr uber

pioneer profile

. . . . . . . . . . . 42

Po l i o E p i d e m i c R e v i s i t e d by Mar lene Cha bot

technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Minnesota Mommy Blogger by Becky Flansburg Co v e r ph o t o b y J o ey Halvorson On the cover: The Yeh sister s: Rebecca (upper left) and Sarah, talented young musicians w ho teach and perfor m.

from the editor

photos by Joey Halvorson

Tech Types


So you’ve found the fall Her Voice in the Dispatch and you’re skimming through the pages, sipping coffee, enjoying the splashes of color, writers from past editions…Or you reach for your iPhone-the latest, greatest upgrade and at the sound of a melodic ding find a posting on Facebook directing you to “Look for a cool story on the Yeh sisters in Her Voice.” In the message, the HV cover photo is hyperlinked to the Dispatch webpage where, with just a click, you scroll through the Yeh story by Carolyn Corbett, clicking on the You Tube link at story’s end, letting the melodic strings of a violin fill your space. Stories, sounds, color, Her Voice from your phone, your iPad, the Dispatch website. Amazing, really! So how do you read Her Voice? Odds are, if you’re over 50, you prefer the first. You like the feel of paper in hand, the comfort of holding something solid. If you’re under 50, you go for the speed and accessibility of technology. But not necessarily.

HV photographer, Joey Halvorson, just a few years shy of 70, lives in a tech world so absorbing she connects most mornings to Facebook before coffee or a conversation with her cat. And with her iPhone at the ready, she responds throughout her day to this constant companion. She has her Facebook favorites. While my morning news might come from a TV network, her correspondents are Win Borden, ex-state legislator, now gentleman farmer in Merrifield who spins homespun reflections and asks readers for recipes. The Jennifer Anderson family of Baxter keeps a running blog of their RV travels across the U.S. and Georgianne Nienaber, activist journalist from Ideal Corner and a contributor in this edition of HV, often posts the latest crisis in Haiti or other thirdworld trouble sports. Don’t expect an “old school” phone call from Joey who now texts more than she talks. In the course of a conversation, while never breaking her connection with me, she makes and breaks a tennis date with Sue Kieffer, takes a picture of her cat, sending it to both my cell and my PC, all the while responding to her Facebook, or not, as meets her fancy. I think I multi-task, but this is a whole other level! Joey’s not alone in enthusiasm for Facebook. New to HV, writer Kathleen Krueger posted on Facebook when her first story appeared in the summer HV and Mary Aalgaard, a frequent HV contributor, sends her Facebook friends to the HV website with regularity. Becky Flansburg, of Lakes Area Mom Squad and another frequent poster, is the author of an article about blogging in this edition. While Joey still takes photos for HV using her Canon D7, she loves the new technology of her latest iPhone camera and in fact arranged about 15 of her favorite photos at an exhibit at the Franklin Art Center. “I don’t consider myself an artist,” she says. “I shoot what I see…I’m a Fun Photographer.” Fun she is and while technology is changing her life and her art, it’s still the same old Joey sharing the world she sees in Her Voice and beyond. So whether it’s off your phone, on the web or from the newspaper, enjoy this edition of Her Voice.

Joey uses apps to create atmo in this iPhone photo exhibited at Franklin Art Center.


Meg Douglas, Editor 6

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Staff PUBLISHER Tim Bogenschutz EDITOR Meg Douglas ART DIRECTOR Nikki Lyter




IS A QUARTERLY PUBLICATION OF THE BRAINERD DISPATCH • For advertising opportunities call Carla Staffon 218.855.5834 or 1.800.432.3703 find our publication on the web at E-mail your comments, suggestions or topics to or mail them to Her Voice at Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 974, Brainerd, MN 56401 copyright© 2003 VOLUME EIGHT, EDITION THREE FALL 2011

photos by Joey Halvorson

By Carolyn Corbett

Rebecca and Sarah (upper left) Yeh began violin lessons at age 4. Now Rebecca, age 18 and Sarah 15, play, practice or teach every day.

When she was just a child, Rebecca Yeh’s older brother played the violin and she wanted to play, too. She started learning when she was 4 years old, as did her younger sister Sarah. Now the two teenagers, with 24 collective years of playing under their bows, are beautifully poised young women and superior musicians. “The violin seems so natural because I’ve had it my whole life,” says 15-year-old Sarah. The sisters’ first lessons were from high school students. Now they have come full circle, teaching younger students in the mornings before school and during summers. The two play their violins every day — in the orchestra, at weddings and at funerals. They perform the National Anthem on hockey and basketball courts and they prepare for upcoming events and competitions with industrious creativity. Sarah especially enjoys the teaching, while Rebecca’s love is the performing.

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Besides playing the violin, Sarah uses her talents in photography and graphics to design ads for area businesses and nonprofits.

Rebecca, Sarah and their two brothers started playing together as a quartet when Rebecca was 7 and Sarah 4 at their church Christmas service. Rebecca remembers the four of them playing at her cousin’s wedding ceremony when she was 11. “For the four of us, it was pretty scary to be in charge of all the music at a wedding, and we felt the pressure of our responsibility,” she says. When Rebecca was in the sixth grade, she began studying with Sally O’Reilly, noted chamber musician and professor of violin at the University of Minnesota School of Music. “My family is the reason I am where I stand today. Without their encouragement and firm guidance at a young age, I would never have been able to accomplish what I have,” says 17-year-old Rebecca. Her parents took turns driving the five-hour round trip to Minneapolis for her weekly violin lessons, as well as the numerous violin competitions, lessons in different states, music festivals and 8

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summer programs. For five years this was a norm normal pattern of family llife and even the sibl siblings were involved. Mo Most weekend activitie ties were based on w what Rebecca had g going on with her music. She was never forced to practice, nor does she feel pressured to choose music as her career. What her parents, Tim and Kathleen Yeh, have done is give h her opportunity aafter opportunity to do what she loves. “From the different “F vio violins I have used to the vast amount of music we have in our living room, my family has bee been eager to provide me with the tools I need to be success successful. I think sometimes people forget that there is so much more behind successful people.” Sarah agrees. ““My parents have always encouraged me to be the best I can and go the farthest I can with what I have. They encouraged me to start an instrument and keep at it even when it wass tough. They r. No matfound ways for me to get better. ter what the area, my parents recognize my gifts, then help me pursue goals in that direction.” In 2010, Sarah’s dad volunteered her to help design the program for the Lakes Area Chamber Music Festival because her gifts in photography and graphic design could be of service while she improved her skills in those areas in which she was interested. Andrea Bauman, art director of the Lake Country Journal, and Sarah collaborated on the program, with Sarah readying information and ads for Andrea. Sarah had a few graphic design lessons with Andrea on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign. “I would

say Sarah is nearly at college level with her knowledge of graphic design programs,” says Andrea, “and these are not easy programs to learn.” “When I design, I look at the business or club or cause to try to understand what they are all about and what they want viewers to get out of an advertisement,” Sarah says. “Then I brainstorm ideas for an ad and just go from there.” She has designed ads for Edward Jones, Black Bear, John Erickson Photography and Nisswa Guide Service, among others. Sarah’s been shooting pictures since she took a multimedia class in the seventh grade. “You see something pretty and then forget it. Photographs save it. They allow you to capture something just as it is.” The family uses note cards that she creates with her photos. Sarah even took Rebecca’s senior pictures. Sarah’s musical accomplishments include playing with the Brainerd High School Orchestra beginning in fourth grade, receiving third chair in the Central Lakes Conference Honors Orchestra as a seventh-grader and receiving a perfect 40 score for the SoloEnsemble Orchestra contest this year, along with becoming a member of the Minnesota All-State Orchestra as a high school freshman. Rebecca’s achievements include being one of eight national finalists in the Music Teachers National Association Junior Strings after winning the state and west-central regional competitions. She was concertmaster of the Minnesota All-State

Orchestra when she was a sophomore in high school and the highest placing violinist in the Young People’s Symphony Concert Association in 2009. As the Duluth-superior Symphony Young Artist Competition in 2010, she soloed with the Duluth-Superior Symphony, playing the third movement of Mendelssohn’s violin concerto. She was also selected by Minnesota Public Radio as a finalist to be featured in “Minnesota Varsity,” a program showcasing classical high school musicians. Fifteen soloists selected statewide were recorded by MPR and broadcast on the air this past March. Rebecca was recorded in Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd. Rebecca speaks of the concentration that performance requires. Thinking about the audience is a distraction. She focuses on what the music has to say, and on the communication between the accompanist and herself. This ability to focus carries over into all other areas of her life. The Yeh sisters shared clothes, friends, a bedroom and cross country running until this fall when Rebecca headed for Ohio Northern University as a pharmacy student. Brother Tim, 22, is already at ONU in the 6-year pharmacy program and Sarah is thinking about joining her siblings there in a few years. Rebecca isn’t certain she wants to turn music into her full-time job. She enjoyed math and science courses in high school and believes pharmacy would be a good fit for her. In college she’ll be taking private lessons and participating in the ONU

orchestra. She hopes to graduate with some e in sort of degree music so she can festeach at a professional level as an adult. s, “Who knows, e I may decide that I want to put even more effort into my violin, and decide that music performance is what I want to do!” She’d like to continue performing in wed-dings and otherr venues, and to be involved in ps. chamber groups. nt in As a participant music numerous he also competitions, she uld be thinks it would e a judge rewarding to be in competitions herself. n’t plan for Sarah doesn’t uge part of her music to be a huge ult, though she life as an adult, believes she’ll always play for fun h her children or grandand maybe teach children how to play. She says, “I think that music will affectt me in more ways than just playing. I have learned le many things about perseverance aand hard work from playing the v violin for as long as I have. I tthink these things will carry over into my life over and over again.”

A June BHS graduate, Rebecca plans to earn a music degree and maybe study to become a pharmacist.

HV Experience the Yeh sisters live at: =TB5AZqg0ZjGz5bUBJwXlW_zj1bP995wtCb3 ki-RmUKU&feature=inbox

Carolyn Corbett Before playing with words for a living, Carolyn Corbett taught elementary school for 14 years. At 35, she resigned and sailed off into the sunset. Literally. Today, as a free-lance writer/editor, she has been published in cruising, parenting and general interest magazines. Her website is at FALL 2011 | her voice


By Kathleen Krueger

yar d an d g a r d e n

What do green plants, colored pencils, boulders and a laptop all have in common? They are all tools of the trade for landscape designer, Jamie Lipke. Jamie, who grew up in Little Falls and now lives in Breezy Point with her husband, Clay, and son, Becker, is the artistic talent in the landscape division of RemWhirl LLC in Crosslake. Jamie says that her first taste of landscape design came in high school, when she was provided the opportunity to create the landscape design for a model home the high school students were building. “I love that I am able to use my artistic skills and love for the outdoors to establish a career,” Jamie says. Jamie took her first job in the landscape field when she was just 17 years old, working 10

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at a landscape nursery. It was here that she truly began to see the multidimensional aspect of landscape design as she worked with the living plants themselves. The colored pictures on paper now took on life as she learned how to care for the many different varieties of greenery and flowers that were stocked at the nursery. It was while she was working at the nursery, that Jamie also got her first taste of working with clients and learned to establish a rapport, a key part of her success in the field. Jamie says, “I love the reactions of the clients when we first present a plan.” It is the excitement that she sees on their faces that motivates her. It is what drives her to provide them with a landscaping solution that will extend their living space beyond the walls of

photos by Joey Halvorson

Jamie Lipke is one of just a few women in the area who are landscape designers.

their home, and into the out of doors. After all, many of her clients are owners of lake homes. They want to spend as much of their time out of doors as possible. She also enjoys the group the people she works with at RemWhirl LLC. With only a half-dozen people on the staff, they are a tight-knit group. “I feel like I have found my home away from home, and love the people I get to work with every day.” As the landscape designer, Jamie often needs to work very closely with RemWhirl’s architect, Travis Miller, and his assistant, Sarah Goodrow. The concept of RemWhirl’s unique business structure is to provide design services that integrate the building and surrounding landscape design into a seamless flow, a design that also blends eas-

ily into the beauty of the natural habitat surrounding them. When I asked Jamie if she faced any unique challenges as a woman working in her field, she did acknowledge that she has had to prove herself from time to time over the years. “I still get the occasional raised eyebrow, when I walk onto a rough site full of contractors to measure in my heels. (But) a girl’s got to look her best. Mud or not.” Jamie’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, though. She’s spent her share of time putting plants into the ground and caring for them over the summer, in her earlier years in the business. “I was also fairly good at running a skid steer back in the day,” Jamie said. Joe Hall, the manager of the landscape division at RemWhirl, affirms that. Jamie’s never

shied away from anything he’s asked her to do, according to Joe. She doesn’t have much time in her schedule for working in the field these days. She works long hours in the summer just to keep up with the demands of her design work. That is one negative aspect to her job, according to Jamie. “It’s been the biggest challenge for me, especially since becoming a mother. Summer is the season to have fun outside, so finding that balance between work and home is difficult some days.” In spite of the challenges, Jamie seems to truly love her job. “I often find myself in a great mood while coloring a design, because it’s so enjoyable. Really, how many positions include ‘coloring’ in their job description?”


Kathleen Krueger Kathleen Krueger is a free-lance writer and poet who lives in Brainerd with her husband Steve. Her tagline ‘Crafter of Words’ covers her love and use of the language arts in its various forms, both verbally and written. For more information see:

FALL 2011 | her voice


By Jenny Holmes

ad ven t u r e

Brainerd native Ginny Clark-Larson, scales the world’s highest free standing mountain and hungers for more adventure.

A quick look at Ginny Clark-Larson’s Facebook photos and you’ll figure out in a hurry she isn’t your average 30-something. Among photos of her smiling face with friends and family are those of the Brainerd native on the way to Mount Kilimanjaro where she climbed to the 19,340-foot summit in January 2011, as well as candid photos of her in China, Brazil, India, Europe and a few places in between. Also among her Facebook photos is an album entitled “Bucket List and Randoms” that includes pictures of Ginny accomplishing 14 various tasks anywhere from working on a farm to learning to snowboard. So what has motivated this 1999 Brainerd High School graduate to take on the world in the past 12 years? “I work in a nursing home,” Ginny explained. “I meet the most amazing resi12

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dents that have amazing stories and have done amazing things. I decided that I want to be one of those people that can tell amazing stories. But you know, I also have residents who say, ‘I wish I had done this’ or ‘I wish I had done that.’ And I don’t want to be one of those wishers.” Ginny who, together with husband Kevin, now calls Minnetonka home, said her first bite from the travel bug came while working at a camp in New York during college. “A lot of the other counselors were from all over the world. Meeting them intrigued me to travel and continue to meet people,” she said. In 2004, she planned her first trip — a solo, cross-country tour of Europe beginning in London. After returning home and still hungry for more, she soon began to plan her next adventure — a three-week visit to China

and Hong Kong which afforded her an opportunity to witness preparations for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

“I definitely caught the travel bug,” Ginny said. A friend’s wedding provided the perfect opportunity to travel to India with her husband in 2006, where they were immersed in the culture, almost too explicitly. Ginny recalls it was during that trip that Saddam Hussein was hung. In a part of India where the ex-leader was revered, Americans were not a welcome sight. Ginny and her husband were in a tour van when they were told the entire state was going on strike because of the hanging. “There was just a lot of activity going on in the city. Signs were being slapped on the van saying Saddam Hussein was a martyr. It just got really scary.” Two locals led the couple into a police station where they were able to sit safely, albeit in a jail cell, until after sunset, when the rioting died down. Other spots on the map of “been there, done that” destinations include Mexico, the Caribbean, Oktoberfest in Munich and Carnival in Brazil. But the high point of all experiences came when Ginny and a girlfriend decided to climb Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. “My friend Sara and I are always looking for our next big adventure. And it’s been on my bucket list to climb a mountain.” So, in January 2011, after intense training and preparation, the two women did what many will only read about or see on television. For five and a half days, the women climbed with a group 19,340 feet to the summit. No stranger to physical exertion after tackling three marathons in three years and countless miles of biking and swimming, Ginny said scaling the infamous mountain became more about overcoming that voice in your head that says ‘you can’t do it.’ “People talk about how exhausting it is. But for me it was more of a mental game to get to the top of that mountain. It was a mental challenge. You were literally telling your feet to move forward. You honestly start talking yourself down the mountain. But you just follow the person’s feet in front of you. “It was an amazing journey. I remember I got to the top, got my pictures and that whole thing. Then I sat on a rock and just cried. You’re overwhelmed with all the feelings going on around you. As you climb, you meet a lot of other people with lots of stories that got them there — amputees, cancer survivors. Another wonderful person I met, Jay, was a survivor of the “Miracle on the Hudson” flight that crashed in New York back in 2009. He was also a person out just experiencing life and looking for a great adventure. There’s so much joy at the top. You just sit there and take it all in.” Not one to rest on what has been, Ginny and her husband visited historic Egypt in May, an item on his bucket list. As far as what the future holds for her… the world is a big place. “I have a passion for travel, and I decided a long time ago - you have one life and you’ve got to live it the way you want to.”


Jenny Holmes Jenny Holmes is a former reporter with the Brainerd Dispatch and owns a free-lance public relations and communications company. She lives in Nisswa with her husband, two children, dogs and a cat. FALL 2011 | her voice


photos and story by Amy Sharpe

If you’re a quilter, chances are you know Cherrywood Fabrics. With hundreds of formulas and thousands of colorways, or color combinations, the suede-like look of Cherrywood’s fabrics bring depth and texture to clothing, home decor projects and, of course, quilts. Back in 1986, Dawn Hall began Cherrywood Fabrics as a cottage industry in her basement. A talented quilter with an eye for color and design, it wasn’t long before Dawn and Cherrywood were legends among area quilters. With the help of friend Dawn Leitch, Dawn built a nationally known and respected company. Karla Overland joined Cherrywood Fabrics 10 years ago. A graphic artist, she moved to Brainerd to work with an advertising firm. A 20-year relationship with needle and thread and a fascination with contemporary quilting led her to joining the Pinetree Patchworkers of Brainerd. “I kept hearing about Cherrywood, and finally someone pointed out Dawn.” (Left to right) Karla Overland, Dorothy Cronin and She remembers thinking, “She’s just a regular person!” Linda Arganbright handle all phases of the handKarla approached Dawn, offering her services as a dyed fabrics business for Cherrywood Fabrics. graphic designer, developing the company’s logo, business card and color card. Soon she was helping out at quilt shows. “I just fell in love with it,” Karla says. “I was burned out with advertising.” When Dawn was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she was determined that Cherrywood would continue without her. Karla began a mentorship with Dawn that continued during her battle with cancer. Dawn lost that fight in 2002. Today, under the guidance of a partnership that includes Allen Hall, Dawn’s widower; Linda Arganbright and Karla, Dawn’s legacy of color, inspiration and high standards lives on. Cherrywood remains something of a cottage industry. From a small building in Brainerd where 200 yards of dyed fabric emerge each day, Karla, Linda and Dorothy Cronin handle everything from receiving and processing orders, preparing for quilt shows and dyeing fabric. The three women, who represent three generations, each bring their unique talents to the business. Karla’s design background gives Cherrywood its artistic vision. Linda, a former home economics teacher who also managed a fabric store and owned a quilt shop, brings her business expertise. Dorothy, who shares a range of duties, came to Cherrywood three years ago after working as a caseworker. “I love working in an array of colors after a black and white job,” she said. “This came at a great time.” Flexible scheduling allows the women to juggle home and family responsibilities with work. The hand dyeing process begins with 500-yard rolls of high-quality unbleached cotton muslin torn into two-yard pieces. Karla carefully mixes fiber reactive dyes using more than 250 formulas she tests and maintains. Some of Dawn’s formulas have stood the test of time, but Karla is always creating new colorways. Once the dyes have been formulated (a messy, daylong process can be affected by many variables) a secret technique and eight washing machines are put to work vat dying eight colors at a time. Once dyed, the damp fabric is pressed, folded and packaged off-site by three women (affectionately called “the manglers”) who operate roller-operated 14

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ironing machines, or mangles. The multi-hued fabric bundles return to Cherrywood, ready for shipping around the world. (The local outlet for Cherrywood Fabrics is Colorz for Quilts, Brainerd, which serves as a pickup/dropofff site for custom orders.) While it’s hard to paint a portrait of the “average” quilter, a survey conducted by the Houston Quilt Show, the biggest show in the country, indicated that the average quilter was 56 years old and college educated with a higher than average income. More and more men are catching the quilting bug, too. “It bugs me,” Karla said with a laugh. “The men break in and they’re immediately award winning quilters!” Quilters support a billion-dollar industry where shops, shows, retreats, classes and clubs continue to feed their enthusiasm. There’s another group that is discovering the modern quilt movement: 20- to 30-year-old women who didn’t get home economics in school or who weren’t taught to sew by their mothers. They’re looking for simpler patterns, fast and easy projects that can be completed in a weekend, Dorothy said. “My mother-in-law gave me my first sewing machine.” Cherrywood is known for its deep, rich, “muddy” colors; some combinations have endured since Dawn’s tenure. To appeal to younger quilters, and to respond to trends, “cleaner, brighter, clearer” colors have been added to the line recently. Quilters find it easy to combine Cherrywood Fabrics with prints or batiks. There’s a Cherrywood bundle to match every quilter’s need. Karla sees a crossover to home decor as a future direction for Cherrywood. In the works is “Ché Fab,” a side website division of Cherrywood Fabrics that will explore and offer non-traditional colorways and patterns. Quilt shows have been the main sales venue for Cherrywood Fabrics. This year the company will showcase its fabric at eight to 10 shows: American Quilter’s Society shows at Paducah, Ky., and Lancaster, Pa.; quilt festivals in Houston, Cincinnati and Ontario, and closer to home at the Minnesota Quilt Show in June. Three to four people usually help at the quilt events, including “show girls,” women who know their way around fabric and can talk intelligently about fabric. It takes about eight hours to set up for a show (not including hours of preparation back home in Brainerd), which is basically like setting up a store. In addition to tons of fabric bundles in Cherrywood’s rainbow of hues, the women make sure that a sample in every colorway is on display. “If you make it, they will buy it!” they laugh. Karla said the best comment they received at the last show was, “Your booth just keeps getting better and better.” Cherrywood Fabrics has a cadre of dedicated fans. “Your fabric is so pretty I can’t cut into it,” said one admirer. Another confessed that her husband built her a cabinet just for her Cherrywood Fabrics. “We’re more well-known outside Minnesota,” Karla said, adding that word-of-mouth has been the best advertising for the company. Cherrywood, which began offering its products online about eight years ago, has seen a steady increase in sales via the Internet. Cherrywood’s website ( allows customers to select eight-step and four-step bundles, fabrics in various color combinations or in graduated colors, as well as cotton, rayon and corduroy yardage. “Cherry Rolls,” die-cut strips of fabric, Cherrywood’s exclusive line of variegated thread and a range of patterns and kits are also available. If you’re looking for inspiration, a

gallery of quilt projects by Cherrywood fans offers plenty. And if you need that finishing touch for a Cherrywood-inspired clothing project, the company offers cotton knit shirts in coordinating colors. At home, Karla designs and sews in a balcony studio overlooking both her backyard and family room. Collections of fibers and fabrics, colorful images and found objects offer inspiration for her own projects as well as Cherrywood’s colorways. The walls of her home are a gallery of her quilted creations. Whether she is mixing a new dye formula, tweaking the tones in an eight-step bundle, or designing a piece to satisfy her own creative instincts, Karla finds color an inspiration. “I’m learning every day,” she says.


Amy Sharpe Amy Sharpe weaves with words and fiber. She worked as a journalist for 25 years and for 16 years published Homespun. She and her husband, Bob, are the artisans/owners of Ripple River Gallery near Bay Lake. In her spare time she reads, gardens, daydreams and plays with paint and paper.

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t r ave l By Melody Banks

Many women, including Melissa Lund of Brainerd, are fans of Oprah Winfrey. The famous female talk show host has earned the respect and admiration of women (and men) worldwide. It was disappointing for some to learn that, after 25 years, Oprah had decided to chart a new path and end her syndicated show. Melissa seldom had the opportunity to watch the show on television but she followed the program via the Internet where she learned Oprah would be hosting a show on multiple births. Oprah had invited Celine Dion to reappear on the program but this time to talk about the birth of her twin boys. Celine and Oprah have become friends over the years and Celine has appeared on the show more than any other guest in the show’s history — 27 times. Celine’s appearance was also a way to promote the March opening of her new show at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Melissa realized this would be a great opportunity, and in all probability her last chance, to see Oprah in person. So she contacted her identical twin sister, Jill Horton, to see if she would be interested in a trip to Chicago. Melissa and Jill had to go through a selection process in order to attend the show. They had to write a short paragraph about themselves and submit it by email. “A week or two passed,” Melissa said, “and we did not 16

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Melissa Lund (right) and her twin sister Jill Horton receive tickets to see Celine Dion in Vegas at an Oprah show last February. Below as young girls: Melissa (right) and Jill.

hear anything. We’d pretty much forgotten about it and then an email arrived to Jill saying we were chosen to receive tickets.” All of a sudden there were plans to be made. Both Melissa and Jill are teachers. Melissa teaches the eighth grade at Forestview Middle School in Brainerd and Jill teaches the sixth grade in the Cambridge School District. “We had to request personal time off to attend the show, which was taping in February, make hotel reservations and purchase airline tickets,” Melissa said. The show aired on Feb. 21. Taping was on Wednesday the 16th. “We did some research and booked a hotel near the studio, then flew in the 15th. Our plan was to have a bit of time the day before to check out the location, walk the Magnificent Mile and have a nice dinner.” Melissa and Jill decided to dress alike since the program was about multiples. “We got together and shopped the week before we left.” Melissa said. “We wanted to wear bright colors. Jill had read that people in the audience often wear brightly colored clothes in the hope of having a better chance to be on camera.” When they arrived an hour and a half before the suggested 11 a.m, they were surprised to find others, including “multiples in matching outfits” already lining up. Security

was tight. “They took our coats, phones, and cameras,” said Melissa, “The only downside was that we had to wait for three hours from 10 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. - for the taping to begin. We found out Oprah tapes two shows a day one at 7 in the morning and another at 1 in the afternoon.” Arriving early and dressing alike paid off. “We ended up in the middle of the third row,” said Melissa. “At the end of the show, Oprah and Celine surprised the audience with tickets to see Celine in Vegas, along with two nights at Caesar’s Palace. The audience went nuts! It was definitely a ‘pinch me’ moment.” Jill says the sisters will remember the experience for years to come. “This was such a neat opportunity to spend this time, as an identical twin, with Melissa.” “We grew up wanting to be anything but twins because we grew so tired of only being known as, the “Freece twins.” As adults, living in different communities, no one knows us now as anything other than Melissa Lund

and Jill Horton. Unless we tell someone we have an identical twin, no one would know. It is almost as if we’ve lost that part of our identity. The Oprah experience was a fun time to celebrate and enjoy the uniqueness of being identical twins again.” Then she added, “The tickets to the Celine Dion show and Caesar’s Palace were a pretty cool bonus too!” The one thing that impressed Melissa most was the talk show queen herself. “The entire experience was so personal. Everyone at HARPO Studios was so kind and Oprah was so sincere as she spoke to us, her audience. While she is one of the most wellknown public figures in the world, it was clear that she is also genuinely kind, giving and very appreciative of her audience and fans.”


Melody Banks Melody Banks has been working professionally as a graphic artist and writer since 1987. She owns Black Sheep Family History Publishers in Nisswa and frequently writes articles and contributes photographs for special sections of the Brainerd Dispatch, Her Voice and the Lake Country Echo.

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w it t y w o m a n

by Joan Hasskamp

photo by Joey Halvorson

Recently while golfing I witnessed a friend score her first hole-in-one, or aces as they are sometimes called. With just one swing of the club she sunk the ball in the cup. For those of you unfamiliar with golf, such an occurrence is rare. As such, it is sought after by every avid golfer. In fact, some people almost become obsessed with it. Naturally, I was thrilled and joined in the celebration by jumping up and down with her as she yelped and screamed and carried on for what seemed like an eternity. Despite my joy over her accomplishment, I can’t seem to fathom why she aced the hole and I didn’t. After all, I’m the one who spends countless hours hitting balls in all kinds of miserable weather. On hot, humid, unbearable days, while I’m obsessing over my swing plane and working diligently to maintain my single digit handicap, she’s lounging on her patio downing cosmopolitans and painting her nails! I’m the one who’s invested thousands of dollars on green fees, lessons, equipment, clothing, instructional videos and golf schools, while she on the other hand has Joan Hasskamp (left) can’t quite bring herself to join in the celebration of her friend’s hole-in-one.


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played only one measly round of golf in her entire life! Yet, after three holes of mostly whiffing and chewing up the pristine fairways with her lousy shots, she’s unfairly rewarded with a hole-in-one on the fourth hole. I should have been the one receiving star treatment in the clubhouse instead of her! Take my word for it, her ace was nothing short of a miracle. She whacked at her ball with a rusty old 3 iron she found in her grandfather’s attic. In fact, other than her older than dirt putter, the archaic, practically grooveless iron was the only club she employed the entire round! Tiger Woods himself couldn’t launch a ball with a worthless piece of equipment like that. Truthfully, she totally flubbed her shot. She took this mighty chop, created an enormous divot, twirled around like a hapless ballerina and still somehow her ball managed to strike a tree, carom off a rock and ricochet into the hole. I thought my heart was going to sink right into my custom made, $400 waterproof Italian leather shoes when I saw her wretched swing produce such undeserved results. The Hall of Fame superstar, Annika Sorenstam, could stand on the same tee for a hundred years and never duplicate that ridiculously unbelievable shot.

If she wasn’t my friend and I wasn’t so happy for her, I would have puked my guts out right then and there. To further illustrate the unfairness of it all, on the same hole, my expensive custom built, top-of-the-line pitching wedge didn’t even scare the pin. My $4 ball was a good hike away from the cup while her cracked and discolored ball somehow miraculously tumbled in. It should have been my moment of glory but instead it’s hackers like her who rarely golf, violate every rule of etiquette, wear totally inappropriate golf attire (flip flops and hot pink halter tops!) and display absolutely no technique who end up with all the adulation in the clubhouse. It’s no wonder I can’t sleep. The nightmares are beginning to abate and the therapist has assured me that the likelihood of my 10-year -old niece snagging a hole-in-one before me is remote. He says I need to let it go. That’s easy for him to say. Even with his crummy 34 handicap he’s experienced the thrill of two aces! Not that I’m fixated on this, but while everyone gathered around her in the clubhouse to celebrate her totally unmerited triumph and reminisce about their own similar successes, I trudged out to the driving range in near darkness to hit four buckets of balls.

I’m sure the blisters will heal soon because the calluses are pretty well formed. Years of intense work on the range have insured that. In the meantime, I saw this club advertised on TV. It promises to deliver totally accurate shots. Maybe if I invest in that club, a new GPS rangefinder, a digital camcorder and a week at Nancy Lopez’s golf school, it will pay off and I too will be the talk of the clubhouse. Bolstered by this hope, I felt I was making some progress on my road to recovery until my niece called and asked me to take her golfing. As our golfing date approaches, I’ve had this recurring dream where she aces the fourth hole. Now if I could just do something about that nightmare.


Joan Hasskamp Joan Hasskamp has a degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Crosby and is a financial assistance supervisor in the Income Maintenance Division of Crow Wing County Community Services.

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By Georgianne Nienaber

photo by Georgianne Nienaber

Distilling the eloquent voice of Native American activist Winona LaDuke into a few dozen paragraphs is a daunting task. A graduate of Harvard and Antioch universities, and twice the Green Party candidate for vice rresident of the United States, Winona did not stop there. She went on to earn advanced degrees in rural economic development and continues to use her considerable talents to ensure the protection of the lands and cultures of indigenous communities. In her book, “All Our Relations-Native Struggles for Land and Life,” Winona writes that in the last 150 years, “over 2,000 nations of indigenous peoples have 20

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gone extinct in the western hemisphere.” In a year when the world anxiously watched Japan as a nuclear disaster unfolded, these sagacious words, written in 1999, presciently tie all of us to the struggle. For in reality, we are all indigenous people on this earth. Winona’s work, like that of most women, begins at home. In her case, home is at White Earth Reservation where she founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project, is a director of Honor the Earth and a member of the Mississippi Band of Anishinaabeg.

It feels somewhat incorrect to place Winona on a “reservation” as if that somehow distinguishes our neighbors at White Earth as separate from the rest of us here in the lakes country. This unfortunate political and emotional reality does not diminish the fact that the Mississippi River and her tributaries flow through the heartland of both our “nations,” nourishing the land and all of us in the process. The same clean clear blue sky gives us all room to dream, and together we depend on the unpolluted earth for life. Searching for Winona in the crowd of hundreds of dancers at the Shooting Star Casino Mother’s Day Pow Wow was like trying to catch the wind. It is easy to put accomplished women on a pedestal, but on Mother’s Day Winona was a protective grandmother, anxiously scanning the hallway that circles the casino event center for the “grands”— her nickname for her grandchildren. Constantly multitasking, she was discussing moccasins with a crafts woman; asking the photographer if she looked appropriate for the photos that would follow; and giving an interview in a quiet, but rapid-fire cadence as heart-stopping drum-

beats from the adjoining room threatened to drown out all conversation. “Sorry you could not find me, I was busy getting dressed. Hey, I’m gonna get in trouble if I lose those kids,” Winona warned as the announcer called for the next dance. “When I get depressed, I make a dress.” Depressed? Winona explained the Ojibwe word, webaasiiigen for “dancing it all off and banishing the negative.” “I travel quite widely but I have been sewing all spring and looking forward to this pow Wwow, and here is my shot,” Winona laughed as she showed off her bright red “jingle dress.” “This is how I got eight dresses. A couple of vice- presidential campaigns will do it. I was recently in a bad mood and I made hers,” LaDuke said as she proudly showed off Wassamowin’s printed purple dress with jingles expertly attached to bright green satin piping. Who knew Time magazine’s 1994 nominee as one of America’s most promising leaders was an expert seamstress as well? Winona had recently returned from Nez Perce Territory in the Pacific Northwest where she consulted with leaders about the impact of the Athabascan tar sands project

Winona LaDuke sewed her own dress for the Mother’s Day Pow Wow at the Shooting Star Casino.

photo by Joey Halvorson

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photo by Joey Halvorson At a workshop at the Happy Dancing Turtle in Pine River, Winona promotes sustainable living.

in Alberta, Canada. As currently planned, LaDuke says the supply route could destroy the boreal forest and the lives of thousands of Native people. Several days after the Mother’s Day Pow Wow, Winona would hit the road again to attend the tenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. But, first, there was an important meeting at the old Callaway School. She and staff were meeting with an electrical engineering consultant regarding the interconnect wiring for a wind turbine project. Besides exploring the wir-

ing and power supply intricacies, Winona wanted to make sure that the turbine will do its work quietly and not disturb the neighbors. While waiting for the engineer to show up, Winona was discussing the techniques of bead working when conversation turned to the 2008 electrical fire that burned her home to the ground. “I lost everything except my beadwork. My beaded regalia did not burn nor did my Ojibwe language tapes. You try to figure that one out! There’s a message in that.” After Winona lost her home, she faced rebuilding while traveling as the sole source of her family’s income. “There were eight homeless people because I have eight dependents, five children and three grandchildren. Talk about stressful.” Here is where Winona found an opportunity to make her universal commitment to build a “just, green economy” personal. Craigslist and a sawmill in Aitkin County would offer the perfect solution. “I decided I could build the house I wanted rather than the one I had for all those kids. They are not all mine but I raise them all, so I really needed a six bedroom home.” She had never been on Craigslist before. “So I go on Craigslist and over by McGregor there are 92 logs that are 22 inches in diameter, two years old, peeled and selectively cut from someone’s own land.” Winona described an “obsessive” search on Craigslist. “I found everything there. Cabinet windows, the flooring is a gym, the fridge came from Fargo, the doors were from recycling centers, and every piece of furniture in there is used.” She says she is “embarrassed” that she spent a lot of money on a state-of-the-art stove, but Winona is also an impassioned cook. How many women consider the kitchen hearth to be the centerpiece of the home? It was while working with the installation of solar panels that Winona ran into the conundrum of how to position them at the lake. Living in the woods offers limited access to clear sky. Winona tapped into a devilish sense of humor as she described pleading her case for solar. “So, I went in my best nice conservative prim dress, and I go there and as I’m trying to make the case they are all looking at me like I am that banshee from the north, and they say ‘no you can’t do that it looks like an eyesore.”’ Creatively thinking through adversity provided an “epiphany” when Winona realized that her property is under tribal jurisdiction. She got the permits and realized she could offer the first of many solar training workshops. In the end it seems clear that our neighbor, world traveler, lecturer, writer, orator and United Nations’ voice for indigenous people is most at home at White Earth, where the dark outlines of spruce trees pierce the spring mists, standing as silent sentinels and protectors of a Minnesota treasure. Winona writes in her book, “Last Standing Woman,” that White Earth, at the headwaters of the Mississippi, is the “place where the food grows on the water. Anishinaabeg Akiing, the people’s land, the land where the manoomin, the wild rice grows. Here the people would remain, in the good land that was theirs.”


Georgianne Nienaber Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative and political writer. She lives in Ideal Township and South Florida when not on the road. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists’ Quill Magazine, The Huffington Post, LA Progressive, The Ugandan Independent, Rwanda’s New Times, India’s TerraGreen, Lake Country Journal, OpEdNews, and The Journal of the International Primate Protection League. 22

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Families walking together: (Left to right) Beth and Tim Hardinger, daughters Avery in pink and Lauren; Tom and Carol Meyer, daughter Amy, baby Sarah and Patrick; Becky and Dave Meyer (no relation),Caleb carrying Noah and Luke.

By Mary Aalgaard photos by Joey Halvorson When Beth and Tim Hardinger moved to the Brainerd lakes area in 2008, they needed someone to walk with. Their firstborn daughter, Lauren, has Down syndrome. They were expecting their second child, and they were feeling isolated. As Beth was researching the community and where to find connections and support for her family, she discovered The Buddy Walk, for people who have Down

by the news. Being the resourceful person that she is, she immediately got on the Internet and researched Down syndrome. She learned everything she could about the condition and how to help her child thrive in this world. She has learned sign language alongside her daughter with the use of a video program called Signing Time. Lauren picked it up like she was hard-wired to sign.

If we all walked in every cause walk in our community, we’d be one healthy community — physically, spiritually and emotionally. syndrome. In the Twin Cities and Duluth it is a big event with the walk, carnival games, food and fellowship. Beth joined forces with Dave and Becky Meyer, two teachers in the district who have three boys, Caleb, 13, and twins Luke and Noah, age 10. Noah has Down syndrome. Neither Becky nor Beth knew that their babies had Down syndrome until they were born. For Beth, the shock sent her into hysterics. She didn’t understand what was going on. The staff at a small Montana hospital didn’t give her much support or hope. In fact, she felt abandoned and confused

Communication and speech can be difficult for people with Down syndrome. Early intervention and speech therapy improve verbal skills. The signing helps keep frustrations in communication to a minimum. Beth says not to let Lauren’s charming, angelic face fool you, she has her moments of temper and demands just like any child. At 3 1/2 years, Lauren walks, talks, goes to school and picks on her little sister, Avery. She likes riding the bus. She dislikes her new glasses. FALL 2011 | her voice


Another concern for children with Down syndrome is heart defects. Noah was lucky. He was born with a hole in his heart, as most children are, but it closed on his own, no need for surgery. Lauren needed a heart catheterization at 18 months. Once she recovered from her surgery, her learning and development really took off. Tom and Carol Meyer welcomed their youngest daughter, Sarah, into the world in April 2009. She needed surgery at 2 1/2 weeks to repair her aorta. At 4 1/2 months, she had her open heart surgery. Sarah’s medical condition was their first concern. Everything else would come in its own time. She has the typical low muscle tone of a child with Down syndrome, which means she’s extra flexible, but is only just beginning to crawl at age 2.

full and happy lives. They have options on where they can live, how they’ll earn money and who will be their friends. There was a time when people thought that anyone with a mental disability couldn’t have a full life. It was common practice to send them away to an institution. An older relative of mine said that she was told to send her 5-year-old daughter to the state hospital in Brainerd, more than three hours away. Children with Down syndrome used to have a shorter life expectancy due to their increased risk of heart problems. Thanks to advancements in medicine and surgeries for infants, mortality rates have greatly decreased. As our population increases and ages, we’re learning that people with Down syndrome


is usually the first weekend in October. If we all walked in every cause walk in our community, we’d be one healthy community — physically, spiritually and emotionally. Walking together, we can support each other, those who have survived cancer, and those who are just diagnosed. We can walk to remember and for those who are unable to walk on their own. We can walk for our four-footed friends, and for the ones who guide. We can walk “a mile in her shoes” and to end diabetes, suicide, Lyme disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and any other chronic illness, syndrome, or life challenge. Dave said he’d like to see “A Walk of Walks,” where the whole community would walk together, cheering each other on, and supporting each other, so that no one would have to walk alone.

H What they have is a as families who their kids and have children with common concerns about their health and well-being.


Carol found out that Sarah had Down syndrome while she was pregnant. This gave her plenty of time to research what she needed to know about her child’s diagnosis. She ran into Becky shortly after the diagnosis and they connected immediately. They shared their stories and information. They became like extended family. The same last name is simply coincidence. They have no blood relation. What they have is a bond as families who love their kids and have unique children with common concerns about their health and well-being. They worry that their children will be too trusting and child-like as they get older and will be extra vulnerable to abuse and ridicule. Carol said that when she told her older children, Patrick, now 13, and Amy, 10, about their baby sister, their first question was, “Is she alive?” Will she live? Will she be OK? were additional concerns of the familiy. They were all so relieved that she would survive her surgeries and be a beautiful and loving part of their family. Patrick and Amy wonder if she’ll be OK in school. Will she be picked on? Who will make sure that she’s OK? Patrick plans to get her a puppy when she’s a little older (and, when he’s a little older to help take care of it), and both siblings wonder if their little sister will someday fall in love and get married. People who have Down syndrome live 24

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are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, but less likely to have cancer. Children with special needs are included in mainstream classrooms to the benefit of all the children. They learn so much from each other. Children are allowed to feel compassion and understanding for someone who has different abilities. No one is shut out or closed off because they need extra help. In fact, kids learn how to help each other and care about all people. The Buddy Walk started in the Brainerd area in the fall of 2008 with about 90 participants. Lauren was the first ambassador who led the walk. Sarah was the leader in her stroller in 2009, and Mary Sebasky, a Pillager High School graduate, was the ambassador in 2010 where about 130 people joined the walk. Minnesota State Rep. John Ward participates in the Buddy Walk, and the mayors from both Brainerd and Baxter have come to the walk. The Brainerd area Buddy Walk


Lauren Hardinger uses sign language sometimes to ease communication.

The families featured in this article would love to connect with you. In addition to the Buddy Walk, they meet on World Down Syndrome Day, March 21 (3/21, which represents three copies of chromosome 21, trisomy). Their email addresses:

Next Buddy walk hopes to be held Sunday, October 9 at Confidence Learning Center.

Dave and Becky Meyer: Tom and Carol Meyer: Beth Hardinger: Her blog: Recommended Websites: and and

Mary Aalgaard Mary Aalgaard is a free-lance writer and regular contributor to Her Voice. She lives in the Brainerd area with her four sons and teaches piano lessons.

Baby Sarah and her sister Amy Meyer and Noah Meyer enjoy playing at the park. FALL 2011 | her voice


ed u c ati o n

Story and photos by Jan Kurtz

“What do you mean….go to school for your vacation?” was the reaction I got when asked what I planned to do for my next trip. School is different in Cuernavaca, I began. Classes are held under a sun umbrella by the pool! I live in a house filled with colorful tiles, white washed walls dripping with red budding bougainvillea vines and a waterfall gurgling into fountains. Every morning, Rosita’s mother sets me a place at the end of the dining table before rejoining the hired señora in the kitchen, where they scramble eggs with salchichas, squeeze fresh orange juice and heat corn tortillas. After breakfast, I step outside, into the city where Hernan Cortés, 1519 Spanish invader, and La Malinche, his Indian translator/lover, vacationed. Uneven sidewalks lead past chipping turquoise and pink painted walls down the street toward the unassuming colonial building with iron grating shut over a wooden door. Overhead, a small sign announces: Spanish Language Institute. Passing through the darkened entryway, one enters a sunny, lush courtyard flanked with bungalows of classrooms. This is the school founded by Rosita, family and friends. So, do you want to go along, I inquired of the four women I hoped would accompany me. Not as my students, but…I paused to look for any glimmer of interest. Six months later, Abra Fisk, Heidi Purdy, Sue Bowman, Tyra Osvold and I were at the Mexico City Airport trying to explain the large suitcase overflowing with children’s underwear we had collected to deliver to Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos orphanage. After some discussion, the customs agents released us to the outside, where Rosita and Raphael waited with grins and hugs. Raphael kept pace with the late afternoon Mexico City traffic, while Heidi, sitting “shotgun,” was shooting everything. Volkswagen taxis. Click. Balloon vendors. Click. Billboards. Click. When the metropolis gave way to the mountains, Raphael slowed to take the switchbacks and I strained to glimpse the volcano, Popocatépetl and his princess, Ixtaccíhuatl. We had studied their legend and now, they were appearing before us. It was dark when we were unloaded into the waiting arms of our host families and total Spanish immersion. Morning reunited us under the promised school sun umbrella for placement testing. No time for travel weariness! School orientation was followed by a walking tour of downtown Cuernavaca. Mañana: Mexico City for the Shrine of Guadalupe and the Pyramids of Teotihuacán. Sunday: Pequeños Hermanos. Monday: classes.

Going to school on vacation, from bottom to top: Tyra Osvold, Abra Fisk and Sue Bowman learn about paper made from Maguey, Abra reads to a “Pequeño,” flower stalls in abundance, Abra and Heidi Purdy study by the pool, dancers at the old and new Basilica, Pyramid of the Sun. 26

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The school arranged our pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Virgen de Guadalupe. Heidi and Abra, having studied the apparition of Mexico’s patron saint and Juan Diego’s cloak, were recounting the detailed history. This background helped to better understand why some pilgrims crawled past us on their knees toward the Basilica. Meanwhile, others, costumed as Spanish Conquistadores and Aztecs, danced out their battle to a drum beat. Once at the pyramids, I went on alone. The sun blazed down on the Avenue of the Dead as I meandered among the black obsidian statue vendors, clay flute players and ancient ghosts until reaching the base of The Sun. Neck bent back, my eyes followed streams of humanity surging toward its peak, a place loathed by earlier climbers destined to be sacrificed. At the top, sojourners customarily raise their arms to the heavens, gathering the energy believed to be there. I reached the summit and then for the sky. The first Spaniards were not only impressed with these pyramids, but the immense markets with infinite product. Cuernavaca’s market is such a place. The building is reached by passing through a tin roofed pedestrian bridge, housing the noisy corridor of cheap socks, plastic blue buckets, AA batteries, live edible insects, sexy posters and loud, pirated ranchero music. Then, steep concrete steps descend into a world of goat meat sizzling on a spit, long stem roses at $1.25 a dozen, brightly embroidered blouses, tortilla presses, leather, and life-sized piñatas. Wandering toward stalls of stacked fruits and bloody butcher shops, one passes the medicinal herbs section and statues of La Santa Muerte; patron of drug dealers. My goal is not shopping, but discoveries. Sue was discovering a new health fruit drink named: Levanta Muertos, and grinned when I translated the banana/mango mix as: Raises the dead. How appropriate. We had just ‘toured’ the local cemetery, where Tyra narrowly escaped being shut in. Seems the gates are closed precisely at 6:00 p.m., an unexpected adherence to punctuality for this culture. The lessons of the morning classes permeated every pore of the day. The vendor’s rhythmic chant, papaya ice cream, mariachis strolling past the handholding couples circling the plaza, Diego Rivera murals…All live and in Spanish. Our “vacation” did not end with a final exam, but tears as we hugged our Mexican families. “Go to school on vacation?” you ask. Absolutamente!


Jan Kurtz Professionally, Jan teaches Spanish and Latin American Studies classes at Central Lakes College, where she sponsors cultural events and festivals. Personally, she enjoys travel, time with family and writing about them. FALL 2011 | her voice


By Doris Stengel

c luubs cl b s a n d c llu u st sters

photos by Suz Wipperling

The Sewing Club includes (left to right) front row : Vahda Olson, Ardelle Schuldheisz, back row: Charlotte Holmquist, Doris Stengel, Beryl Bourassa.

In 1951, four faculty wives new to Brainerd ended up living on Norwood Street: Muriel Hanson (Curt), Toots Hansen (Gene) Phyllis Hanggi (Jerry) and Charlotte Holmquist (Fred). They soon were having coffee together — probably an antiquated custom by today’s standards. At that time each family had one car, the husband took it to work. In these ‘pre-pill” days there often were several pre-school children. On top of that, the women generally did not work outside of home. Those trained to be teachers were not allowed to teach in the Brainerd School District if their husbands were employed there, some idea that one family would be taking too much money from the “public trough.” The coffee gatherings were less about coffee than about escape — even though they had to bring the children along. The kids benefitted, too, since there were no pre-school or play school sites. Consigned to one playroom, in small houses those children learned how to


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get along and share toys with only occasional disputes or wounds. The ladies, whose husbands were music teachers and coaches, often spent evenings alone. They decided they deserved one evening a month when they could get out of the house. The husbands could take care of the kids. Hiring a baby sitter, even at the going rate of 35 cents an hour (flat rate, not per child), was not in the budget. Since Monday night was the one night when husbands were apt to be home, they decided to meet as a “Sewing Club” at each other’s homes the second Monday of the month. Their other outing each month was with a very active Faculty Wives Club. Each fall new faculty wives were invited to a tea party, a dress up occasion, where they felt welcomed to the

community. That Faculty Wives group provided things like bridge lessons which bonded other women in clubs that still exist. In 1955 several new faculty wives arrived and joined the original four-some: Muriel Howard, Vahda Olson, Meryl Fish. Soon

others were invited to join: Alice Fuller, Anna Marie Haberer, Arlene Winch, Ardelle Schuldheisz. Doris Stengel was invited to join in 1963. In 1970, invited by her neighbor Meryl, Beryl (Peabody) Boursassa became the last member to join the group. In the intervening years several of those women moved away, dropped out or died. Only one of that original coffee group survives, Charlotte Holmquist. The rest of the group still includes Vahda, Meryl, Beryl, Ardelle and Doris. Did they actually sew? Yes, at the beginning there were socks to darn, jeans to mend, buttons to attach, hems to be lowered. Everyone sewed— except for Charlotte. She never sewed, probably because by this time she and Fred were running two businesses— a motel on South 6th Street and the Corral Drive-In on the corner of Washington and Chippewa Streets. When she came to club she wanted only to sit and enjoy the others and get away from five children and the smell of frying burgers . In later years sewing became more about knitting, crocheting, embroidery and quilting, especially after the children were grown. Those children now speak fondly of the nights when club

was at their house and they were all sent to bed by 8 p.m. but they could hear the laughter of their mothers in the other room. What better legacy for children than to have heard their mothers laughing? Laughter was an important part of the meetings. The early days held tensions when most of these wives had husbands who belonged to the AFT (Federated Teachers’ Union) while a couple of wives had husbands who belonged to MEA (Minnesota Teachers Association) and there were bitter disputes over salary and negotiation rights. This topic was never allowed at sewing club. After the recent death of Muriel Howard the women reminisced about the long-term success of the group. Why has it endured for 60 years? Charlotte, the elder stateswoman, submitted that it was because they had no officers, no rules or by-laws, no obligations, no causes. This was an escape

hatch purely for themselves, quite a novel concept for women of that era. Oh, yes, Charlotte did sew once. A few years ago the decree went out that the Christmas gifts exchanged had to, for this one year, be handsewn. Charlotte found and assembled a pillow kit. Vahda was the grateful recipient. She has it archived. The other members have carefully preserved the Nordic pattern woolen mittens that Vahda has knit as gifts for many years. The club itself has been a great gift to each member and a bond that has survived over half a century.


Doris Stengel Doris Lueth Stengel is a prairie girl transplanted to Minnesota by marriage to Casey, moving to Brainerd in 1963 raising three children, Randy, Shawn and Wendy. She has been a member of Heartland Poets since 1990 and president of both League of Minnesota Poets and national poetry organization NFSPS. Doris has poetry published in Dust & Fire, Talking Stick, County Lines, Fog & Woodsmoke, and other anthologies.

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bu s in e ss

A fun and relaxing place to visit, Evergreens Up North in Crosby is a family affair. Co-owner Paulette Abear says it was her daughter Bobbie’s dream to open a gift shop together featuring up north, country and primitive style items. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” says Bobbie. “She talked hard to convince me,” Paulette says, chuckling, “but at my age I was ready to retire, not start a new business!” The dream persisted and Evergreens Up North opened on April 13, 2008, with plenty of up-north and primitive items but also a 30

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Story and photos by Beverly Abear

mix of retro and modern, home décor, gifts, curtains, furniture, candles, jewelry, garden items, collectibles and much more. A regular customer, Cheryl Koop says, “It’s a darling shop with unique gifts. I love the art and antiques they’ve added. It has a diverse collection of décor items.” Paulette Hamilton Abear, long time resident of the Deerwood-Crosby area, is no stranger to business. Graduating from C-I in ‘71 and from Brainerd Vo-Tech in ‘72 in banking/finance, she worked for the Deerwood National Bank for a year, then in Scorpion’s accounts receivable for three

years. She keeps the books for her husband Bill’s business BA Enterprises and formerly ran their Bear’s Den storage unit business. Most people know Pauly as an avid horsewoman who’s owned Arabians for 40 years. Along with daughter Bobbie Marie Kavotovich and several friends, she especially enjoyed camping and trail riding with the horses. “I don’t do much riding now that I run the shop,” says Abear. The mother-daughter team looked for buildings for six months until the North Country Realty building became available. “It seemed perfect for the shop. With its pine-

Paulette Abear is co-owner of Evergreens Up North , an antique store in Crosby.

paneled walls and front deck, it reminded us of a cabin,” Pauly says. Evergreens Up North is tucked between the Peoples National Bank and North Woods Floral and Gifts, and across Main Street from Range Drugs. Bobbie checked the Minnesota state website for advice on starting your own business. As far as advice for others looking to start a business, Pauly says, “Don’t shortchange yourself. Follow your bank’s advice for inventory needs and set up costs.” Because of the economy, it helps to have about 40 percent consigned items from various area residents. Babe Thiebault, who embroiders sweatshirts, hats and towels for the store, says, “I love having my craft items in such a unique and friendly store. I get to work and mix with great customers thanks to Pauly and Bobbie’s vision of having a shop like this in Crosby.” Several members of the family contribute. Paulette’s mother, Dolores Hamilton, sews the very popular retro-style aprons. Dolores says, “It’s really fun to make the aprons. I’m happy the Lord has given me the ability to sew (even at 86 years young).” Pauly’s sister Bev sells watercolor paintings and cards, Bill’s mother Helen Abear crochets afghans and doilies, and Bobbie sews purses and wall hangings. Even Pauly and Bill build rustic wood shelves with door knobs for hooks. Bobbie’s mother-in-law LeeAnn Kavotovich has antiques and dishes now in the shop. Local writers are featured as well, including the Heritage Committee books that Pauly’s dad Lansin Hamilton helped write and edit, Pequot Lakes novelist Candace Simar’s triology of historical fiction and Charmaine Papys Donovan’s poetry collection, “Tumbled Dry,” that gives insights into growing up in Crosby. Kathy Deblock, long-time resident and friend, says, “I love everything in here!” Other shop owners have welcomed the store. Nancy Wasserzieher at North Woods Floral and Gifts, next door to Evergreens Up North, says, “Working together as sisters, Julie and I can appreciate all the hard work the mother-daughter team at Evergreens Up North put into their shop. With Pauly’s ideas, the Girls Night Out has added a lot of ‘buzz’ for downtown Crosby. It’s always great to see women own their own businesses.” Great times for shoppers to look for coming up: Fall Open House, Ladies Night Out in December, the Soup Walk and other special occasions such as Valentines Day, ther anniversary in April and Fourth of July. Great sales, give-aways, snacks and beverages are just a few of the fun things during events. Pauly mentioned that one of the best things about having a shop on Main Street is visiting with so many diverse customers who come in, shop a bit, and talk. Bobbie says, “It’s been a great experience. I’ve really enjoyed meeting people from all over the world.” If you’re looking for a shop in Crosby to wile away a lazy afternoon or to dash in and get the perfect gift, visit Evergreens Up North. Or just come in to talk.


Beverly Abear Beverly Abear, formerly from the Cuyuna lakes area, now writes and paints from her home in Baxter where she lives with husband, Rick, also a Crosby-Ironton grad. Bev is currently working on young adult novels and inspirational non-fiction. FALL 2011 | her voice


By Sheila Helmberger

Brainerd native Jesica Specht has found her niche performing and recording Christian music.


FALL 2011 | her voice

Remember that time you wondered what it would be like to pack all of your belongings in a car and move to the coast? Remember the time you thought how fun it would be to work on a cruise ship and travel the world? What about the time you thought it would be exciting to work for a big magazine in New York City? Or write and perform songs for a Christian band? Brainerd graduate Jesica Specht has done all of those things. When Jesica, daughter of Carl and Joyce Specht, Baxter, graduated from Brainerd High School in 1989, this Kixter alum decided to pursue a career in modeling through John Casablancas in St. Paul. “I kind of worked every job I could through the school and agency. I was an instructor, office manage, and a children’s agent. It definitely gave me an inside window to the entertainment industry.” When her parents returned from a cruise her mom said, “Jes, you would just love working on these cruise ships. All of the staff entertainers reminded me of you.” She sent in a resume and forgot about it. She thought it was a long shot. “When they called I knew I needed to take the job. It was such a good opportunity. I packed, said goodbye to my friends, my boyfriend, my cat and put my car in storage.” Jesica was assigned to a seven-day cruise out of Miami. She was ferried from the dock out to the ship. The first two weeks were hard. “It was so overwhelming. I was really thrown into the mix. We traveled all over and were leading and entertaining thousands of passengers. You need a lot of energy. You don’t always get a lot of sleep. You’re having fun, gaining experience, meeting people from all over the world and getting paid. It’s a fantasy world. You’re living this wealthy lifestyle in ball gowns and eating escargot once a week. I also got to meet tons of celebrities and sing back-up vocals for Ben Vereen, which was a blast.” Cruise staffers were often invited to dine at the captain’s table, too. She worked on cruise ships for about two years, visiting places like Alaska, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Aruba, the Eastern Caribbean, Panama, Mexico, and Jamaica. After bringing out one of the new ships from France, they made stops in New York City, and she fell in love with New York. “When I was there I went shopping. I walked everywhere and hit coffee shops. It was very alive with energy and I just felt very at home there.” She started to think about moving there. “On my last cruise out I was having a hard time. I was questioning who I was. What path I was on.” Her roommate on the ship was named Karen. “Karen was a Christian woman,” says Jesica. “We became instant best friends and she showed me who God was. Through Karen’s

prayers she learned God had a plan and a purpose for her life. “Everything changed at that point,” says Jesica. As luck would have it Karen had always wanted to live in New York, too, so the roommates moved to the city. Jesica started to model again but, more importantly, she says, “I got connected with a really cool church. That’s where I made my friends. I did some volunteer work and the deeper I got into the new found love relationship with God I started losing my interest in the entertainment industry. There’s so much compromise in it.” She also landed a job in the office of Newsweek magazine. And she started connecting with friends through the church who were interested in music like herself. “We decided to start a band,” she said. “It was very ministry-oriented.” They called themselves ‘By Grace.’ Jesica compares their sound to an acoustic Crosby, Stills and Nash. The members all wrote original music and they started playing some coffee houses around the city. After nine years in the city, and experiencing Sept. 11 firsthand, she started praying about what to do next. “I’d always loved California but I wanted to be called there, not just move. I sat on the idea and prayed about it for a year. If God had a plan I wanted to

stay on that path.” One day, reading a devotional, something changed. “I knew. I literally just sold everything I had, bought a car and packed.” She learned a cousin in Minnesota was getting married and took it as a sign it was the perfect time to make the cross-country trip. At the reception one of her relatives told her she had another cousin living in Long Beach who may be able to help her get settled. He’d been there for two years. When she arrived in California he offered her his spare room. “God has orchestrated so many things on my behalf,” she says, “As much as I can point out all of these wonderful things that I’ve had the opportunity to do, the coolest thing has been my walk with God.” Today she says she is a full-time “musicianary” and a worship leader and plays in a couple of praise bands. “I also write music and have started recording,” she says. A friend from New York asked her to contribute to a compilation CD. Jesica wrote a single, “Good and Faithful.” She also performs concerts and is a worship leader for a singles ministry. A friend suggested Jesica meet with a director he knew who was looking for music for a faith-based movie. Jesica says the song she contributed came to her so quickly, it was uncanny. It also not only ended up in

the movie but became the title track on the film’s soundtrack and her second single. She did live performances at some of the movie’s premieres. American Idol contestants Katharine McPhee and Michael Johns are also on the film’s soundtrack. Both of Jesica’s singles are available for downloading on iTunes. “Music has such a unique way to touch hearts. It can give us hope. Shape us. It inspires us,” she marvels, “It’s very humbling to be used in this way and be able to make an impact.” Today she lives in Long Beach but even she’s not sure where her journey may take her next. “I’ve had some unique dreams and I love this adventure,” she says, “God is amazing. He’s able to do above and beyond what we can even think, or dream, or desire,” she says.


Sheila Helmberger Sheila Helmberger lives in Baxter, is married with three children and contributes to many area publications.

FALL 2011 | her voice


he alt h & w e l l n e ss

By Sandra Opheim photos by Joey Halvorson

Kelsey Opheim maintains an active lifestyle that includes managing her diabetes.

Call it fate, kismet, a stroke of luck or coincidence, but when it happens it can be unnerving. Please take a comfy seat and read this story. It may strengthen your belief in faith. It all started with Kelly Johnson, a paraprofessional in the Staples-Motley Schools. She is a kind and generous woman who coincidentally shares a birthday with my daughter. In 2009, Kelly asked if I could give Kelsey a birthday treat from the Dairy Queen since we share a birthday. Any 8-year-old would think that was a cool idea and I said it would be fine. From then on we have shared the “birthday bond.” In 2010, I took on a softball coaching position at the high school and was asked to keep an eye on Kelly’s daughter, Linsey. She is a diabetic and monitoring her blood glucose level is important, or she could become shaky, weak and even go into a diabetic coma. The first aid kit was stocked with extra snacks, a test kit and Mom’s cellphone number. Two years earlier I was Linsey’s teacher so I was familiar with her situation. “I’ll always have my cellphone on me,” her mom said in the event I needed to call her. In addition to knowing Linsey, I grew up around diabetes. My sister was diagnosed at the age of 4, my mother at 35 and a close cousin at 18. I learned what I could do to help Linsey be safe during the softball season. I would ask her how she was doing regularly and she’d give me a thumbs up if she was fine. On occasion she’d come to me saying she needed to sit or eat a granola bar. It was a big responsibility and I didn’t realize how important my role was until later in the month of April. As the softball season was underway, my daughter Kelsey became sick and wasn’t getting better after three to four days. We shook it off as the flu or a cold coming on. She would drink many glasses of water and juice at bedtime and her thirst was not quenched. She was thinning out and I thought it was a growth spurt. Finally, after stomachaches didn’t subside and dry cracked lips appeared we took her to the emergency room and verified what I most dreaded. 34

FALL 2011 | her voice

Kelsey had joined the club, the diabetes club. Our emergency room physician named Corey, believe it or not, was a diabetic, too. I truly feel that God sent Kelli and Linsey Johnson and the physician into our lives to prepare us for our personal journey with the illness. The kismet doesn’t end there. Just a week or so after Kelsey’s diagnosis, a college student of mine emailed me unexpectedly. I knew she had stopped taking classes for awhile

since her daughter became diabetic. After two years, she was inquiring about taking classes again. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was like God again was sending a support person directly to me. I immediately emailed Lynae and asked her how her daughter was doing. I told her how odd it was that she was writing to me since my daughter was just diagnosed. She too was shocked by the news and the coincidence of the situation. Even though I lived around diabetes all my life, I really was not prepared to deal with it in mine. Type I, or insulin-dependent diabetes is for life. When I found out that Kelsey was, in fact, diabetic, I called my sister and said, “Kelsey…joined the club, the diabetes club.” Her reaction was, “Oh no. I am sorry.” We both cried, but I knew diabetes is an illness you can live with as long as you take care of yourself through diet, exercise, insulin and careful monitoring of your blood sugar levels. The phone calls didn’t stop. I called my mother and then my cousin who are both dia-

betic. I felt compelled or maybe directed by a greater power to reach out to others. I had the need to surround myself and Kelsey with support. If you, or someone you know, become(s) diabetic, there may not be the kismet that I experienced through the people who prepared me for my own child’s disease. However, there are fabulous resources for any family that may suspect their child has diabetes. The American Diabetes Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and Children’s Hospitals of Minnesota are a few of those resources.


Sandra Opheim Sandra Opheim teaches English in the Staples-Motley School District and continuing education courses for St. Thomas University. She is a children’s’ book author and a frequent contributor to Her Voice.

FALL 2011 | her voice


By Cynthia Bachman

c am p

Insurance agent, Kelly Woodman (upper right) was recruited by the Bachmans as their bear camp chef. She was joined for a weekend visit by husband Jeff and sons. Below left: Kelly in the kitchen, far right, Jeff at the grill.

What do you do if you own a hunting lodge and your cook quits just before the hunting season? You ask everyone you know if they know a cook. That’s how we found Kelly Woodman, our Minnesota bear camp chef. My husband Brian and I own and operate a lodge near Brimson for guided bear hunts called Arrowhead Wilderness Outfitters. We’ve gained international recognition with hunters from seven countries. Before the 2003 Minnesota bear season in September, our cook had to quit because of family issues. Suddenly we were scrambling to replace a chef with-in weeks of the arrival


FALL 2011 | her voice

of our clients. That very week Brian sat down at the Baxter Caribou Coffee with our insurance agent to review our coverage and mentioned to our agent, Kelly Woodman, of our need for a chef. Her response, “I love to cook.” She agreed to take on the three weeks of cooking for 30-40 people per meal for the season. Every year since, Kelly has created meals and memories for our guests. Kelly continues with her full-time job but takes her vacation every September to be our chef and to fill her passion to create meals. She reports that the time she spends preparing for and cooking at camp gives her a yearly fun break from her everyday routine.

Kelly says ideally she would like to be a professional chef, but with a blended family of six children that does not currently fit her life. Together, Brian and Kelly plan the main courses that repeat every five days as new hunters arrive. Kelly completes the meal by incorporating side dishes and desserts using family recipes, ideas she researches from books, cooking shows and the Internet. The foods are prepared from scratch. As an example, she bakes 30 loaves of bread for the three weeks of camp. She must also focus on a budget and be creative, for example, by creating bread pudding from cinnamon rolls not eaten at breakfast.

Chef Kelly cooks for 30-40 people at bear camp for three weeks in September.

Kelly is very focused on order and protocol, with tables set to perfection. The “right” glass in the proper place and wine to match the menu. I tell her “our guests eat in muddy boots and camouflage.” No matter, all is set right. When I ask what meal was NOT a hit she says, “stir fry, served with egg rolls and fried rice.” It has not been served since. Kelly’s tasks include meal plans, groceries, food prep, clean-up, lodge order…the list goes on. Prior to the arrival of guests she cleans and prepares the lodge, kitchen, pantry and stocks supplies. When the hunters arrive she is busy from dawn to midnight. Each evening she sets up the morning coffee for early risers. Her cooking days start early to begin the prep work for the day’s meals and to be ready for breakfast at 8 a.m. From there the day proceeds in a whirl with the next meal at 2 p.m. As you can imagine clean-up follows each meal and mixing/baking sessions seem to always be in progress as foods and desserts are prepared for the next meal or next day. The evening meal is served after dark,as the hunters come in. They arrive at different times depending on the hunt’s distance from the lodge and its success. When the hunters trickle in through the evening they are hungry. Kelly sets out wonderful appetizers that allow them to eat until all the hunters arrive. About 9:30 p.m. the meal is served to the entire group as they sit down together for time to share stories/adventures of the day. Kelly is high energy and the hunters look forward to seeing her and enjoying her meals. Also in camp are non-hunters, spouses or friends that need to be entertained and directed to local tourist sites. Kelly has kept in contact with several of the people she has met at bear camp via e-mail /Face Book. Usually at about 4 p.m., Kelly takes a break from the lodge to drive the 20 miles to Hoyt Lakes to access the Internet at the public library, keeping posted on her job/work and family. Since Kelly is away from her family for several weeks to cook for bear camp, on the weekends her husband Jeff makes the three-hour drive north for family time. The children get to meet the hunters and enjoy helping their mother in the kitchen.

Cynthia Bachman Cynthia Bachman lives in Pillager with her husband Brian. She commutes to Minneapolis to work at the U of MN Hospital as a RN. In 2010 while taking classes through St. Scholastic her instructors Janet Larson and Roxanne Wilson encouraged her “to write.” Cynthia has joined the writers group at the Brainerd Senior Center. This is her first article.


FALL 2011 | her voice


By Karen Ogdahl

PEQUOT LAKES — The walls of the mayor’s office in Pequot Lakes are lined with old town photographs, but the décor is about the only nostalgia that Mayor Nancy Adams allows. She is a woman with an eye toward the future. Sworn into office in 2009, Nancy’s radiates enthusiasm. “This community is wonderful,” she said. “The Pequot residents love our town and want the best for it, and our city employees are such hard workers.” Nancy’s bid for mayor was her first experience campaigning for public office. She had helped start the community library and had been a food writer for the Lake Country Echo, so she was no stranger to people. “I knocked on just about every door in the community during the campaign,” she remembered. After she was elected, she discovered that a steep learning curve came with the job, but she plowed in. “I have learned so much — enterprise zones, sewer, water and a whole lot more! Before council meetings I always take the packet of information we get and study it. I usually have a whole page of questions ready, and I go to the city clerk or finance person or whoever and try to get all my questions answered so I’m prepared,” she said. Nancy credits her life experiences as solid preparation for public service. Very early in life she had to take on responsibility. “When I was 4 my mother had a nightmare and went out a second-story window. She was paralyzed. I had to do things most children don’t. I remember taking my little sister to the library when I was 6. If we wanted to go somewhere, we walked,” she said. “I learned that if you want something, you have to do it yourself.” After graduating with a degree in education from Cornell College in Iowa, she enjoyed a career in early childhood teaching and curriculum writing. “Maybe it was the liberal arts education or the fact that I’ve had several different jobs, but I’ve always wanted to give everything a try,” she said. During her career years, Nancy and her family spent summers at their lake cabin on East Twin Lake. When retirement came 12 years ago, they added on to the cabin, moved in permanently and dived right into to community involvement. Nancy spoke with pride about her part in establishing the Pequot Lakes Library, “We started it seven years ago. It’s totally operated by volunteers — not one paid staff. One volunteer is the materials coordinator, and I ended up as the volunteer coordinator.” When it came time to buy a building, they were worried about where the money would come from. “I’d never been a fund-raiser, but I just started dialing for dollars. Only one person

Elected to office in 2009, Nancy Adams is mayor of Pequot Lakes.

photos by Joey Halvorson 38

FALL 2011 | her voice

Nancy helped start the community library.

hung up on me. We were so fortunate! Lots of people gave $1,000 donations, and some donors gave as much as $15,000. Two families gave us no-interest loans. We raised the money in about three weeks! We bought the building two years ago and have been paying off the loans and raising money to retire the debt,” she said. “There is such strong community support. People love the library. We have an average of 75 people using the library every day in the winter and 125 people per day in the summer.” Nancy thinks her involvement with the community has helped her be a better problem solver. “I have to take a broad view of the issues and look out for all the people in the community — the businesses, the yearround residents and the summer residents. I try very hard to be an advocate for all of them,” she said. That’s a tough balancing act with government funds in such short supply. The city council has been working on plans to improve Government Drive, one of the town’s main streets. Nancy explained, “We are trying to do something with very little money. The concern is that we’ve cut so much over the years. You can only let maintenance go for so long. We have to keep moving forward, but how do we do that without adding to people’s financial burden?

Even in tough times, you have to look to the future.” One of the most difficult issues was the location of the proposed new four-lane highway. The options were to widen the highway through the city or move it east of downtown. Nancy helped with a survey to take the community’s pulse on the issue. “There were people who believed that if the highway moved east, it would kill the city. On the other hand, if it came through town it would have resulted in high assessments for everyone,” she said. “We sent out postcards to all the taxpayer households asking people to indicate their preference. I had been told not to expect much of a return rate, but we were shocked to receive 67 percent of the cards back. Of the cards that were returned, 67 percent were in favor of the highway going around downtown. It was overwhelming!” “Any change is scary for some people, and, with funding the way it is, who knows if it will get built, but the decision on location has been made,” she said. “In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to make Pequot Lakes so attractive and exciting that everyone will want to come here!” She brims over with enthusiasm about the possibilities: a splash park in the town square, repairs to Government Drive, directional signs downtown to help visitors find businesses, roundabouts at dangerous intersections and recruiting more businesses. “My weakness is that I get excited about all these ideas, but sometimes the steps to get there are a little dicey,” she laughed. “In this job, there are rules to follow. Our city clerk, who is wonderful, keeps me on the straight and narrow!”

Nancy believes that everyone should work to bring businesses to their communities and she practices what she preaches. “When I go to surrounding towns and find a business Pequot needs, I hand the owner the city business card and ask if they’ve thought about opening a store in Pequot Lakes. I wasn’t like this before. I didn’t go all over sticking my hand out and introducing myself, but I’ve seen what can happen when people advocate for their community. That’s how we got a health food store in the Jack Pine Center! Every one of us in this town should be recruiting.” As a volunteer herself, she understands what a difference volunteers make in the community. “Everyone, at some point, has time to volunteer and give back,” she believes. “Look at everything that is going on in Pequot Lakes. The efforts of volunteers have brought all the wonderful things we have!” As for the future, Nancy would like to keep her mayor’s seat a while longer, but not forever. “You can take something so far. You have a vision and work at making it happen, but then it’s time for someone else to step in and take it to the next level.” Until then, Nancy will occupy the mayor’s office, appreciative of all the progress Pequot Lakes has made, but with her eyes firmly fixed on how the future can be even better.


Karen Ogdahl Karen Ogdahl of Baxter is a retired teacher.

FALL 2011 | her voice


By Sue Sterling

s p ir it u a l i t y

At age 55, Sue Sterling (right) went back to school. Now she teaches other seniors, such as Jim Buley, about computing.

Identity crisis at age 55? Me? That’s a teen problem not a grown-woman issue. Who was I? I desperately wanted to know. So, where did I go? Where could I go but to the Lord — and college! For 28 years I had been totally focused on my family and what I needed to do for them. My ex-husband and I parted ways many years ago and I spent the ensuing years working full time and raising three sons. Life was hard. It was lonely. But it was rewarding. My sons grew up, joined the military and started families of their own, leaving me to face life without a purpose. I was also struggling with the debilitating illness of major depression, which had played havoc with my ability to work. I could face living with a poverty-level income. I could face having an empty nest at home. But I was miserable because I didn’t know who I was. My Lutheran roots and Minnesota upbringing were entrenched deep within me, so I sought help from the Lord. I wanted to know what my purpose was in this life and I wanted to know how to accomplish it. Through a series of events, God showed me that I needed to continue my education. He opened up the doors


FALL 2011 | her voice

photos by Joey Halvorson

for me to enroll in the computer technology course at Central Lakes Community College in Brainerd, which is where I began my original career path in 1971. The world was a different place 40 years ago. The expectations for females were much different. Back then my “old eyes” saw what they were told to see and to put it in the context others provided for me. I learned what was expected of me, graduated with a secretarial degree, found a job, got married, had kids and lived life inside the box that society had carved out for me. But no one along the way — not family, not teachers, not friends — ever told me to “think outside the box.” No one ever encouraged me to go where I really wanted to go and find out what I was capable of doing. In short, no one dared me to dream; to reach outside the mundane things in life and set my sights on a goal. I did set a goal for myself, but first I had to overcome some fears. How would I fit in? Would I be an object of derision? What kind of respect would I get from the instructors? I learned I wasn’t the only “old” student in class. There were others my age returning to re-educate themselves Returning to college was the first step on the ladder to self-discovery, but I found out that ladders are harder to climb when you get older. It took me a while to adjust to the rigorous schedule of classes and the hours of homework required. I often asked myself why I was putting myself through all the hassle, but I discovered that I was capable of doing things I never imagined. Each class required me to reach inside myself for ingenuity, self-discipline and perseverance. I learned how to process the knowledge and develop concepts of my own. It was hard, but it was worth it. I was beginning to unleash my potential one class at a time. As I learned about computers and about

myself, I realized that there was a “digital gap” between the kids coming out of high school and us “old folks.” It became my goal decipher the “geek speak” and teach older people how to function in a digital world. Today I teach basic computer at the Lakes Area Senior Activity Center in Brainerd and I give private lessons to those who want help on their home computer. It’s rewarding to open the wonders of the Internet and help them understand digital communication. I’ve recently given computer lessons to some of the residents at Good Samaritan-Woodland and one of my students was a 96-year-old man who still had a passion for learning new things. It was exciting and heartwarming for me to expand his knowledge into a world accessible through computers. With each person I help, I know I make a difference. My purpose in life is becoming clearer, but I know there is more in store for me. I feel I have accomplished something. It may be a small something in this high-speed, high-tech, make-the-big-bucks world, but I know that God is leading me through, step by step, up the ladder to my destiny. Without my faith I would have fallen further into my depression and not gotten up. When I started this journey of self-discovery, I asked God to tell me what I needed to do. He told me (in that still small voice of His) that in helping others I will be helping myself. That is what I intend to do!


Sue Sterling Sue Sterling lives in the Brainerd area and teaches calligraphy as well as basic computer operation. She is an avid photographer and active in her church and the local square dancing club. She enjoys spending time with her three grown sons, three grandchildren and her lovely cat.

By Audrae Gruber

he r s ay

Getting Older & Wiser Where are my glasses? Have you seen my camera? Familiar sounds in every y household but which somehow cause more re drama as we age. It seems that as I get older I become ecome less confident, more anxious about every day happenings. Events that would never ever ruffle my ego at age 20 become eventss that now cause worry and self-doubt. We live in an alphabet world and the big “A” for Alzheimers hangs like a heavy eavy banner on the wall of our consciousness. s. Each little misstep alerts us to the mind thief ef that might be coming up the stairs. Now, w, the latest alphabet soup is the non-medical cal AAADDage related attention deficit disorder-humor order-humor intended. As a relentless list maker, I feel el it is necessary to record my recent “risky”” behavio behaviors. orss. Last week, I left my checkbook on the counter at Target. A month ago, I closed the garage door on my car. Garage doctor had to be called. ‘”Ye gods,” I thought, this is it. There is the act of frequent looking for that one scrap of paper I had just set down on the table which somehow frogleaped from there to my pocket. Sometimes I walk into a room and forget why I went in there. I also put food in the refrigeratorr that disappears. I make greatt m shopping lists and can’t find them ve when I get to the store. I have filled a cart at Walmart and stepped pped away only to grab someone else’s cart. There was that day that a sweet young thing stopped me in Cub, put her arm around me and whispered, “I think you would want to know that you have toilet paper hanging behind you.” I have parked the car in a large parking lot and took half an hour to remember where I exactly parked it. (It helps if you come out the same door you go in-or have a key with an alarm.) We now keep three keys for one car and who knows how many for the house.

One day my credit card was missing. I searched everywhere, finally reported it to the bank, changed my PIN and later found it stuck to my driver’s license in my wallet. The teller smiled and said, “Honey, this happens all the time.” I was not reassured. (And please don’t call me honey.) As a communicator, when I do something silly, I usually tell someone. To my surprise, the response is universal. The woman at Target pulled out a drawer full of items that

looked a lott llike ik mine — checkbooks and credit cards, w al wallets and keys. Someone told me that they had ha gone to work with toilet paper hangin ng — and she was only 30! A hanging friend told me e aabout the time she drove into her aunt’s ga arag forgetting her canoe was garage on the top o off the car and wrecked the garage frame and h er ca her canoe. She’s 20 years younger than I am m. am. O One day I wore two watches to a writers meeting. When I re realized this, I tried to pull my ssleeves down and cover one up. Too late. The person next to me saw it, laughed and wrote a clever rhyming verse to the woman with a watch on each wrist. I have decided that the problem is not with me. The problem is with my perception of me. It is that dreaded fear that we shoulder as we get older. Small events become major catastrophes. My hair stands up on end when I hear someone refer to “senior m moments.” There is no such t thing, in my mind, just “moments” that all of us “ h have. After pondering and talking to myself out loud, two things I unashamedly do, I have decided to be as forgiving of myself as I am of others. Wear my orange hair. Put on the hip boots and sludge through the you-know-what. Time to stop worrying and savor the journey.


Audrae Gruber Audrae Gruber is a retired St. Paul teacher. She studied with author Carol Bly and has written for publications including: The Talking Stick, Lake Country Journal, Her Voice, Mille Lacs Messenger, Pine Island Florida Eagle and Good Samaritan newsletter. She is a member of Brainerd Writers, Kindred Street Writers and Heartland Poets and volunteers with Hospice and the Brainerd Library. FALL 2011 | her voice


By Marlene Chabot

pio ne e r p r o f i l e

photo by Suz Wipperling

Waneta Hedberg was a nurse during the polio outbreak of the 1950s.

Many lives were seriously affected by polio, a virus which can be transmitted through tainted food and water, before Dr. Jonas Salk’s began field trials of his vaccine in 1954. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Elmer L. Andersen (former governor of Minnesota), my great uncle and a grade school classmate all contracted this virus. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for those stricken by it. This past year, when area resident Waneta Hedberg reminisced about her 60 years of marriage to husband Bill, she also quietly reflected on her pre marriage days as Nurse Anderson during the polio outbreak in the Midwest. Waneta’s first connection with polio was during her RN training at Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. Part of her training included time spent at a Sister Kenny cottage. “But it wasn’t until after graduation and working a full year in obstetrics and gynecology that I realized I’d rather devote my time to nursing polio patients,” said Waneta. In 1950, she joined the staff at Sister Kenny Institute on Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. 42

FALL 2011 | her voice

Nurse Anderson never worried about being infected with polio. “The cottage instructors taught us how to protect ourselves while caring for polio victims. Doctors and nurses always wore gowns, caps and masks. The masks covered the entire face except where slits were provided for the person’s eyes.” By the time Waneta’s three years of training were completed, doctors suspected polio wasn’t transferred from person to person. Even after doctors and nurses finally understood how polio was transmitted, the general public was still terrified of catching it. Waneta shared the following: “An apartment dwelling sat directly across from the Institute. Residents who lived in quarters facing the institute refused to open their windows even on the hottest of days. They believed air carried the virus.” Nurses, from the institute, including Waneta, were treated differently, too. In those days most nurses rode the bus to and from work. “Going to work was fine,” she said, “It was the coming home after our shift that passengers didn’t like. As soon as we sat down, the people surrounding us would find other seats.” The apartment residents near Sister Kenny Institute may not have accepted how polio really spreads, but the summer months definitely encouraged the virus. “We saw a huge

increase in polio victims especially after Minnesota’s 1950 State Fair.” When new polio victims first arrived at Sister Kenny “we placed the patients in an isolation unit for at least seven to 10 days,” said Waneta. “ Family members were allowed to visit once loved ones left isolation.” Waneta has never forgotten the one young woman who, after recognizing possible polio symptoms in herself, drove from Tomah, Wis., to Minneapolis. Unfortunately, time was against her. “She arrived at the Institute late in the evening and died early the next morning,” Waneta said. Polio patients didn’t all display the same symptoms, says Waneta.” It depended on the virus strain. Bulbar caused paralysis of the diaphragm. Paralytic attacked a person’s skeletal muscle tissues and spinal caused paralysis of the arms and legs,” explained Waneta. Bulbar was the worst. “A person diagnosed with this strain was placed in a iron lung, a 7 foot long, 750 pound cylindrical metal chamber that surrounded a patients body from the neck down. Pressure was pumped into the machine continuously to help the patient’s lungs expand and contract. Occasionally the pump broke down,” Waneta explained further. When this occurred, two nurses had to operate the pump by hand until someone could come and repair it. Once, she and another nurse had to perform this strenuous task for many hours. “Some people with Bulbar eventually left the machine,” says Waneta,, “but many others remained in it until they died.” One of the more uplifting moments for Waneta and

her co-workers was the day the first baby was born to a woman in an iron lung. The new mother, one of the lucky ones, eventually went home in a wheelchair. Nurses at the institute distributed medicine, bathed patients and gave back rubs. “Washing a person’s hair while they were lying on a gurney was challenging,” says Waneta. When non bulbar patients left the isolation unit, technicians and packers helped comfort these patients too. Each “packer” was assigned one patient per day. “They packed a patient’s body from toe to neck four times a day with moistened wool blankets that had been heated,” said Waneta. Technicians performed intense physical therapy on patient’s arms and legs. Waneta thought about taking the required six months of training to become a technician, but a spring wedding and Bill’s recall to the Navy won out. Polio victims and their families received inner comfort as well. During the Christmas season local bands entertained. “And their eyes lit the rooms.”


Marlene Chabot Marlene Chabot and her husband live in Fort Ripley. A frequent contributor to area publications, she is a member of Sisters in Crime and Great River Writers. Last spring she began work on her fourth Minnesota-based mystery novel. When she’s not writing, she enjoys time with friends and family.

FALL 2011 | her voice





FALL 2011 | her voice











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FALL 2011 | her voice


Becky Flansburg is the Minnesota Mommy Blogger.


photo by Joey Halvorson

By Becky Flansburg By now, many of you may already know about blogging. At least it seems like you do because the blank stares and the “you’re a what?” are few and far between these days. I enjoy getting a spark of recognition when I say “blogger” and more of the “ooh, yeah, yeah, blogging. I’ve heard of that.” Some people hear the word “Mommy Blogger” and think of someone who does nothing but review and hawk products they’ve never used. I, however, don’t consider myself to be that kind of Mommy Blogger. I am a Mom, who blogs and takes it very seriously. Like “second job” seriously. On a rare occasion I will do a product review if it’s something I really believe in. But my main goals for my blogs has nothing to do with money or free stuff. On my Franticmommy blog, my main drive is to make other readers, mostly parents, LAUGH. That’s it, plain and simple. If someone finds my Franticmommy blog, reads my posts and thinks “thank GAWD it’s not just ME!”...mission accomplished. On my other blog, Mom Squad Central, the official blog of Lakes Area Mom Squad, my goal is a little different. There is still a decent dose of upbeat quirk and humor, but my focus is my community. I love where I live. I enjoy meeting new people in my daily travels. Mom Squad Central gives me a very nimble and flexible platform in which to shine the spotlight on local moms-in-business, amazing organizations and services that will make my readers lives easier and more enjoyable. I get asked often where do I find ideas and topics to blog about. Finding and writing 46

FALL 2011 | her voice

awesome content is what I believe to be the No. 1 issue for most bloggers. I am blessed with the ability to see stories and topics everywhere. I get inspiration from other bloggers, the issues and struggles of fellow parents and even everyday-run-of-the-mill topics make for great blog post fodder. I recently wrote a post about myself and hubby’s polar opposite approach to act of grocery shopping. We are like Felix and Oscar. I can spend two hundred dollars and be in-and-out in 15 minutes. He, on the other hand, will strategically plan, calculate, ponder and spend about four bucks for four bags of groceries. Just keep him away from the Crane Game. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that. Which brings me to an interesting point about privacy. Some people think that when you blog, you spill your life history for the world to see. I am very careful about what I reveal about my family and personal life on my blog pages. You will rarely see pictures of our beloved kids on the web. When you blog, as with any social media, your information is “out there” and you just don’t always know who’s reading. I am also an advocate of Bloggers Behaving Nicely. I never use my blog as a platform to “talk smack” or write in anger. Keep your drama to yourself. My biggest road block with blogging? I work full time, have two kids under eight and a successful side business. People ask me all the time, “How DO you do it all?” I guess I just power forward and work hard because I know no other way. But what I do know is family is always first. A few years back some bloggers got a bad press

from a one-sided New York Times article about Mommy Bloggers called “Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy Building My Brand.” I will curb my razor-sharp tongue on this one and just speak from personal experience. No, I don’t blow off my kids for the sake of blogging. I blog at the freakishly early hour of 5 a.m, and it is SO worth the loss of a little sleep. Another reason I blog is that I relish the freedom. In my day life, I need to always measure what I say, proceed with caution, and diplomacy rules. Franticmommy gives me a place to laugh at myself, tell a good story, and be “raw and real.” Blogging has enabled me to do that beyond the boundaries of my town and even state. It has helped me find my voice. But it’s not all about being zany and mouthy. My blogs are an amazing platform for cool stories, strong women and organizations that deserve the spotlight. Is my blog sometimes like a needy child? YEP. But I have learned ways around that. I would love someday for my kids to learn to blog because it is such an awesome way to find their voice and grow their world.


Becky Flansburg Becky Flansburg is a FTWM (full-time workin Mama) wife, mother, writer, blogger and Social Media fiend. You can find her blogs at and

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Her Voice Magazine - Fall 2011  

• The Yeh Sisters - In Tune: Read how parents Tim and Kathleen Yeh nurture the musical and artistic gifts of their daughters; Rebecca and Sa...

Her Voice Magazine - Fall 2011  

• The Yeh Sisters - In Tune: Read how parents Tim and Kathleen Yeh nurture the musical and artistic gifts of their daughters; Rebecca and Sa...