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By women... for women...about women...

Tuesday Artists Bells at Christmas Plus...





C o ntents





Finding Art in Dance


Christmas Bells


Life of a Hat


Tuesday Artists



Want to wear something sassy for those holiday parties or are you a jeans and T-shirt girl? Jenny Holmes has some timely advice for anyone’s pocketbook.

Volunteer Extraordinaire





Dressing Up or Down for the Holidays



All her life, Ida MacFarland has served the community as a volunteer. Reading her story in this holiday season is an inspiration. By Sheila DeChantal

Roseanne Reed brings the beauty of dance and her passion for the arts to students of all ages. By Jodie Tweed

Read how this hand bell choir makes music ring around Gregory Park during the holidays. You can almost hear the chiming. By Jenny Gunsbury

In a tantalizing tale, Donna Salli shares how her father’s near death experience changed his heart …and hers. By Donna Salli

Watercolor painting brings these four women together every Tuesday in disciplined creativity. Watch for their upcoming shows. By Kaari Kuusisto

In This Issue




her say


Fun with Fashion by Meg Douglas Wo r s t C h r i s t ma s P r e s e n t s by Becky Stover

in the minority

Wo m e n C a n B e P i p e fi t t e r s ? by Joan Hasskamp



We l n e s s fo r wo m e n at all ages By Jill Neumann Hospice Heart by Audrae Gr uber


clubs and clusters

A AU W S u p p o r t s A r e a Wo m e n by Dor is Ander son






Longbella Drug by Sandra Opheim



6 Brides by Mar y Aalgaard

A Sign of the Times byJill Ander son


Wo ma n - b u i l t H o u s e by Cynthia Bachman





G r e e n Te a F i e l d s i n K o r e a by Ahna Otter stadt



good reads

Memories - Lost and Found by Mar lene Cha bot


On The Cover


Writer Jenny Holmes models v i n t a g e c h i c fo r t h e h o l i d a y s . S t o r e ow n e r s t e l l h e r fa u x f u r s are making a comeback this y e a r. P h o t o b y J o e y H a l v o r s o n .



Read Online:

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fr om t h e e d i t o r

Photo by Joey Halvorson


Fun with Fashion

PUBLISHER Tim Bogenschutz


EDITOR Meg Douglas ART DIRECTOR Lisa Henry PHOTOGRAPHER Joey Halvorson COPY EDITOR DeLynn Howard

Michelle Reece models a basic dress from Among the Pines that she dresses up for the holidays with accessories. Sopha, the owner’s dog, is a fixture at the store.

Not a fashion magazine, Her Voice looks at dressing for the holidays, Brainerd lakes style for our cover story in this Winter edition. And no one has more fun at a fashion shoot than writer Jenny Holmes, followed by our photographer Joey Halvorson, who can turn any photo shoot into a hootin’ good time. For this story, Jenny’s search included contacting friends, asking questions through text and email. In former times, women might pore over fashion magazines to get a sense of current trends. Now, says Jenny, many of her friends are “Pinterest junkies.” For the uninitiated, Pinterest is an online pin board that allows users to browse their interests, then save and organize inspirational ideas for future use. No, we’re not New York, or even the Twin Cities, where fashion rules are created by high priced designers catering to big budgets. Nor are we simply woodsy folks who never shed our jeans or sweats. (Well maybe some of us.) Jenny identifies our fashion style as “relaxed, resort casual,” and finds her friends access the web for inspiration. Though Jenny researched ideas on line, she shopped locally. For this article, she visited two stores catering to a range of budgets. Common Goods, a thrift store in Baxter, is more than a place where people come to find an entry for an ugly Christmas sweater contest. Writer Jenny seemed quite taken by their Vintage offerings of furs, hats, jewelry and shoes that could accessorize any trendy holiday outfit. Also in Baxter, Among the Pines owner Sue Conway says, “The trends this year include faux suede, a brocade patterned legging, tone-on-tone slim cigarette pants paired with ankle boots … Women just want to be comfortable.” And you can be sure Sue will help you make your selections. If fashion’s not your thing, find the holiday mood in Jenny Gunsbury’s article on Christmas bells. In 1995, a hand bell choir composed of members from the United Church of Christ and Park United Methodist Church performed a community Christmas concert that’s become a tradition. “There is just something about hearing bells being played at Christmas that gives me shivers,” says Claudette Kitzman, director of the hand bell choir. And if your stress level continues to rise in the coming days, Becky Stover’s essay on some of her worst Christmas presents is guaranteed to make you laugh a-loud or at least smile. Best wishes for this holiday season!

HV Meg Douglas, Editor 4

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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 11, EDITION FOUR WINTER 2013

By Jenny Homles Photos by Joey Halvorson

Dressing up or

Down Holidays forthe

Jenny Holmes clowns around in an “Ugly Christmas Sweater,” all part of fashion fun for the holidays.


Oh, you better not pout. You better not cry. And you better not show up under underdressed to your holiday party this year. However, for many women, including myself, what does ‘appropriate’ holiday attire look like? In a community known for its relaxed, resort casual approach to dressing, it can often be hard to pinpoint what exactly is in and what’s out for current styles. With holiday parties just around the corner, it was time to talk to the experts and find out what to wear to holiday gatherings. So, I went to my friends. After all, they are Pinterest junkies and always have their finger on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s not. My girlfriend Kris is always a trendsetter. Tall and slender, she’s one of those women who always look amazing, even in sweats. Secretly, I hate her. “It depends on where the party is,” Kris said of her typical holiday party attire. “When I didn’t have kids and we’d go out, I’d wear a sequined skirt and a cute little tank top, tights and heels. But that was when I wasn’t a mom and no one would barf on me. But now, nothing fits anymore. These days, it’s more like sweatpants and UGG


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Michelle Reece models this popular tank top style where, in this climate, Among the Pines owner Sue Conway suggests a sheer shirt under the tank for warmth. Right, a dress using VHS tape in the design. Beverly Goff displays her “wearable art” creations on her website as well as at Common Goods.

boots.” However, to her defense, Kris argues, “I feel like, up here, there aren’t as many cosmopolitan kind of parties to get real dressed up for.” Jane and Katie agreed they will typically go for a sparkly top and jeans or textured pants. “I feel like that’s what everyone wears,” Tanya agreed. “I tend to be overdressed at different functions, but it’s hard to predict what to wear. You don’t know what it’s going to be like or who’s going to be there.” So Tanya said she likes to pair some nice jeans with a dressier top and have fun with boots or heels. Just talking about holiday parties drove Tanya to immediately propose a holiday party to the group of casual gals. “We should take advantage of times like that to get dressed up. I think it’s fun!” So, where does one begin when their closet consists primarily of yoga pants and sweatshirts? The answer may be easier, and cheaper, than you think. Common Goods on Highway 371 north in Baxter is unlike many thrift shops. Common Goods does not want to be the place where people would come in for a successful search for an ugly Christmas sweater contest. A glance around the funky shop proves true. You’ll find anything from nice blazers 8

Winter 2013 | her voice

and jeans to sparkly cocktail dresses, vintage furs and fun hats, jewels and shoes. “People are very generous with what they donate,” Welch noted. “We receive a lot of great sparkly dresses and sweaters that you can easily dress up with jewelry or fun shoes.” And prices are affordable, so if you “splurge” on a holiday outfit and not wear it again, you may not experience the same buyer’s remorse. For example, a fun shift dress with a vintage fur waist-length coat will only run you about $50 total. Add a pair of gently-used heels at a bargain basement price and accessorize with your own baubles, and you’re set for a night of celebration and glam. Just down the highway at Among the Pines, owner Sue Conway is ready to assist women of all shapes, sizes and preference with a variety of trendy pieces that can shine at any holiday event. “The trends this year include faux suede, a brocade patterned legging, tone-on-tone slim cigarette pants paired with ankle boots … Women just want to be comfortable.” “A lot of times for this area, we love how casual it is here. And one of the biggest obstacles is that we want to spend our money on something that we can

Left, Common Goods often pairs unlikely items for dramatic impact. Here faux fur, with a sparkly, silver sheath. Right, a black dress from Common Goods. CG is very particular about their donations and aims to be an upscale thrift store boutique.

actually wear again.” Sue recommended selecting pieces that are fun and functional, comfortable and classy. “I really put my money on black and white for the holidays, but emerald green is a hot color right now. I also sell a lot in wine, rust and burgundy.” Sue suggested finding a fun, colored jean and layering with a longer cashmere sweater then accessorizing with a longer necklace. There is also a variety of tank tops available with jewelry built into the neckline, ala just add bracelets for simplicity and sass. Animal prints and faux furs are also hot going into the winter season. If you’re willing to leave the pants at home and slip into a dress, Sue suggested dresses with mesh that are forgiving for those with a little something to hide. Many dresses also have funky nuances, like side zippers, built in for a little mystery and individuality. However, in our Minnesota climate – many of the cute tank top or spaghetti strap dresses are impractical. The solution? Slip a sheer, elbow-length sleeve shirt underneath. “It’s also helpful to make you feel a little more covered,” Sue suggested.

However, if leggings or jeans are more your thing – don’t feel like you can’t still be the belle of the ball. “Women are always wearing jeans,” Sue agreed. “I don’t care what you say. It’s per perfectly acceptable. Despite what’s ‘in,’ you have to wear what’s comfortable for you. There is never a trend that fits every body. That’s why there are lots of options.” Regardless of what you wear, Sue encourages adding color in some fashion, and considering where the party is being held and who will be in attendance. “But never be sorry if you’re over overdressed,” she emphasized. “And have fun! We never have enough opportunities to dress up.”

Jenny Holmes

Jenny Holmes is a freelance writer and currently runs her own public relations and communications business. She lives in Nisswa with husband, Tim and their two school-aged children.

Winter 2013 | her voice


By Sheila DeChantal Photo by Joey Halvorson

Ida MacFarland (right) with Sally Link at Edgewood Vista. One of the many ways Ida volunteers in the community. Ida (middle) goes all out at Jack’s bowling alley for the Bethany Good Samaritan fund raiser.

Volunteer Extraordinaire


You can certainly never say that grass grows under Ida MacFarland’s feet. For the past 33 years Ida has referred to her volunteerism in our community as “her job.” By all definitions she is correct in saying so, however her desire to serve and to help others has lasted much longer than that. Ida remembers her first foray into volunteering was in the ‘60s when as a young mom, she found herself taking on roles in Cub Scouts, Little League and the PTA. “Little League,” says Ida, “in those days was only for the kids who lived in town. We were country people and the only way we could have our son play was if we volunteered to help.” Ida’s husband Dick took on the coaching position and Ida thought it would be fun to run the concessions. Both Dick and Ida did this for several years. For many years during the ‘70s, Ida worked for Mid-Minnesota Credit Union. Between her job, her family, and her occasional volunteering, her life felt well rounded and complete. She recalls the early years


Winter 2013 | her voice

of volunteering when people used to go door-to-door to raise money for their causes. In 1980, when Dick was fighting cancer for the first time, Ida quit her job to stay home and take care of him full-time. In October of that year, Dick returned to work and Ida found herself looking for things to do. She enjoyed being a part of the Moose Club and served in a variety of positions. Ida and other women of the Moose started a program during the holidays to provide food baskets and gifts for those in need in our community. “During the summers,” Ida laughed, “I would host lunch and card playing get-togethers that people would pay to be a part of. This is partially

Ida recalls the early years of volunteering when people used to go door-to-door to raise money for their causes.

how we would earn the money to support the Christmas giving program.” Between Ida and her husband Dick, several other fundraisers took place during those years as well. Once they organized a dinner costing $50 a ticket. You had a chance to win your money back, a chance to double your money and someone would win $500. They limited the dinner to 100 tickets. Ida recalls, “I think Dick sold about 85 of the 100 tickets to the guys he worked with at the mill!” During the ‘80s Ida served on the board of directors for the Mid-Minnesota Credit Union, volunteered at St. Joseph’s Medical Center and through them, Meals on Wheels. She participated in the Laubach training course to teach others to read. One of the most rewarding things that happened during that time Ida says was working with a girl starting college who couldn’t read. Ida worked with her on identifying what words looked like and sounding them out. The day she read her first sentence on her own was an amazing day for both of them.

In 1990, Ida volunteered with the American Cancer Society, chairing the annual fundraiser, Community Crusade, from 1992-96. In 1993 Ida was part of start-ing the Summer Jaunt fund raiser, which later became known as the Relay for Life. During her many years of serving with the American Cancer Society she also held the positions of president, golf pass chair and reach to recovery volunteer. In the ‘90s, Ida served as a volunteer in a number of organizations. From 1991-96, she was a Kinship volunteer. Also in ’91, Ida helped the elderly with Medicare paperwork. In 1993, she worked on a committee to raise $1,000,000 to build an Alzheimer’s Center at Bethany Good Samaritan Village. In the mid-1990s, Ida visited people in nursing homes who had no family. From 19911998, Ida was a part of the Grad Blast Committee for the Brainerd Senior High School. In 1997 she received the “Book of Golden Deeds” award from the National Exchange Club for outstanding volunteer service. To this day that award hangs proudly on the wall of her home. And the awards kept coming. Several times Ida has received the Volunteer of the Month award from Crow Wing County. In

When asked about her most rewarding volunteer experience Ida says, “Just being able to make someone else’s life easier, one day at a time.” 2005 she was named Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year. The senior center director at the time said, “Activities at the senior center would not happen if not for Ida!” Now almost 80, Ida volunteers with Bethany Good Samaritan, wearing many hats since 2009: bookkeeping, gift shop and pretty much volunteering however and whenever they need. Ida is a certified Ombudsmen volunteer for long term care at Edgewood Vista where she problem solves with residents, educates them on their rights or simply lends an interested ear. The past year has been a hard one for Ida and her family. Dick was in hospice and Ida returned to being his full-time caregiver. In April of 2013, Dick lost his battle with cancer. Ida has sold their family home and moved into town where she is still working at putting things away. When talking about

what the future holds, Ida still holds strong to wanting to be with and help others in the community. She plans to return soon to her volunteer duties at Essentia. Through Ida’s young mom days, her own children becoming adults, and into her senior years, to standing strong beside her husband when cancer entered their lives again, Ida has found that serving the community has helped sustain her. When asked about her most rewarding volunteer experience Ida says, “Just being able to make someone else’s life easier, one day at a time.”

Sheila DeChantal

Sheila DeChantal lives in Brainerd with her husband Al and two rescued dogs. She is a huge fan of all things literary — libraries, books, authors and writing. When not working or blogging at Book Journey, you can usually find her at the Brainerd Library or out biking, rollerblading, or her new attempt at craziness — running.

Winter 2013 | her voice


her s ay

By Becky Stover Photo by Joey Halvorson

t s r Wo as m t s i r h C s t n e s e r P


Becky Stover displays some of the worst Christmas presents she’s received over the years. 12

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After receiving an email from a friend about some of her nice Christmas presents, I reflected back on some of the worst… I grew up in Richfield, a Twin Cities suburb, in a typical home like that depicted on the TV show “Father Knows Best.” It was 1958; I was 10 years old and wanted blue jeans that were in like the older girls in my neighborhood with the rolled up cuffs and their fathers’ white dress shirts hanging down. What I received were boys’ Lee heavy-duty blue jeans like my cousins wore to slop the pigs with the zipper in front. Definitely not cool or in. I was so embarrassed! I wore them once for a picture when my mom insisted, covering the zipper with my hands. I was 11 years old when I opened up my Christmas gift and didn’t know what it was. My older brother was sitting next to me so I quickly closed it and whispered to my mom, “What is it?” I thought it was some weird bra. She whispered back, “Garter belt.” Embarrassed again. When Mom was about 30, Dad gave her a bed jacket like some wear in a nursing home. She was not happy and asked him what was he thinking? It was returned. My husband Ken and I lived in a small one-bedroom apartment when we first married. For our first Christmas his parents gave us an air hockey game. I had no idea what it was and didn’t know a thing about hockey plus there wasn’t any place to put it. I realized

“Oh you shouldn’t have...REALLY.” they had always bought just for boys and had no clue what a girl might want. For Christmas a few years ago when my mother-in-law was in her late 80s and Ken and I were in our 50s, she gave us a reading magnifying glass and two books entitled, “What is Funny about Growing Older” and “You’re No Spring Chicken.” She regifts! We all cracked up with laughter. Luckily she wasn’t there. Now sometimes my oldest daughter takes after my mother-in-law. A few years ago she gave Ken a wire pronged head scratcher for Christmas and gave me a fluid filled soap container scrub brush all rolled into one. She was excited and thought they were just the ticket!! Three years ago she gave Ken and me a low fat cookbook — something we didn’t ask for but she thought we needed. Two years ago she promised us a book of pictures of our New Zealand trip. Took several years, but finally showed up. I wonder,

is she from our loins?? Last year when my mother-in-law was 92, she asked Ken to drive her from our house after Christmas to Moose Lake so she could see her brother in the nursing home and give him his Christmas gifts. So Ken made the long drive through drifting snow on two-lane slippery back roads to Moose Lake. Now both my mother-in-law and her brother, who is 90, are almost deaf. They were yelling at each other and most of the time neither one could hear what the other one was saying. She opened the box and took out three sealed small containers of fruit cocktail. He gave her a look and said what did he need them for — he could get as much fruit as he wanted in the cafeteria. Then she brought out a small package of nuts like the airlines give out. He told her that he didn’t need any nuts and to look up on the shelf because his kids had given him cans of nuts. She kept on and pulled out a couple small boxes of cereal

and powdered milk. He had had enough and said he was done visiting. On the way home she confessed to Ken she had been given the “gifts” from Meals on Wheels. Now I know we should always just accept a gift and it is the thought that counts but I think that some people could just give some more thought into what they are giving. On the other hand, it is because of these gifts that we have funny memories.

Becky Stover

Becky and Ken Stover raised their two daughters in the ‘burbs of Minneapolis then moved to Gull Lake 10 years ago. Besides her 44-year career as an RN, Becky is past president of Nisswa Women’s Club and enjoys boating, traveling, gardening and creative writing with The First Draft Divas.

Winter 2013 | her voice


Story and photos by Joan Hasskamp

in t h e m i n o r i t y

Women Can Be Pipefitters?


Life has a way of taking unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes a person ends up in a place they never anticipated. That’s what happened to Gail Helmer. As a student, Gail Helmer’s athletic achievements were legendary. The 1978 Brainerd High School graduate lettered 11 times. She was a Warrior Athlete of the Year in 1978 and inducted into the Warrior Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. Her athletic success continued at Central Lakes College where she was the starting point guard on the basketball team that won the state title in 1980-1981. After graduating with a degree in physical education and adaptive physical education from St. Cloud State University, Gail substitute taught and coached for one year. When she realized securing a teaching job probably wasn’t going to happen immediately, she accepted a job at Potlatch Paper Company in Brainerd. Remarried and with a growing family to support, she needed a job with good pay and benefits. Gail said it worked because her husband Brian stayed home to care for the children. “I had a very understanding husband who knew I loved my job,” she said. Three years later when the opportunity arose to enter an apprenticeship program for pipefitting, she jumped at it. In 1991 she became the first woman pipefitter apprentice at Potlatch. While it was initially difficult working in a male dominated field, over time the atmosphere improved when men realized Gail could perform the job. When Potlatch closed, her foreman, Tom Thurston, suggested Gail join Local 126 out of Detroit Lakes (now known as Local 11 Zone 2) which she did. This meant working out of a hall and being sent to job sites all over the state. Currently she is working for RJ Mechanical on the hospital project in Thief River Falls. She is involved in running all the medical gases throughout the hospital. Besides being an industrial steamfitter, Gail also has a Minnesota


Winter 2013 | her voice

Working in a male-dominated field, Gail Helmer earned respect as a pipefitter from her co-workers by performing the job.

plumbing and medical gas license. While she’d prefer to work closer to home, she has to go where the work is. “Living away from home is the nature of the job,” she said. Gail also teaches six weekends a year at the Union Hall. Next spring she will instruct the apprentices on medical gas code. Over the past 11 years she has taught classes in plumbing code, hydronics, basic math, soldering and braizing and blueprint reading. For the first time since she started there is a female apprentice. While she would like to see more women enter the program, she understands why so few do. She is realistic and knows that life on the road isn’t for every woman. While there are opportunities to work in shops without travel, many jobs require it. “Also, unfortunately,” she said, “there are always a few guys who don’t think women can do the job.” For the most part, Gail said being the only woman on most work sites has been positive. After so many years in the business, she no longer feels she has to prove herself. “Now they know I can do the job,” she added. But it can also be lonely. With so few women on the job, it is nearly impossible to make female friends and develop a female support system. “The job is hard that way,” she says. Gail gleaned her can-do mentality and creative bent from her parents. Both parents were adventurous and loved the outdoors. Her dad was a union electrician who also traveled and her mom taught special education. During her down time, Gail loves to repurpose. She especially likes to salvage metal and create “garden junk” as she refers to it. Her gardens are dotted with her creative creations. She derives great enjoyment out of selling her repurposed goods for a cheap price. “I am always trying to make something,” she said. Gail refers to herself as eclectic. She prefers furniture that doesn’t match. She gladly encourages her 14 grandkids to ride around the house on their tricycles and bikes. “I want a house that’s lived in,” she said.

In her free time, Gail likes to repurpose castoff items into “yard art.”

While teaching in a traditional setting never came to be, Gail believes she ended up where she’s supposed to be. She realizes she’s not the most traditional person and a public school setting may not have been the best fit for her. “My life has come

full circle. I believe God directs you in the way you’re supposed to go,” she said. “I am where I should be. I love pipefitting and I love teaching and I’m blessed to be able to do both. My dream really did come true.”

Joan Hasskamp

Joan Hasskamp is currently working on a comedic book about herself. She lives in Crosby.

Winter 2013 | her voice


By Cynthia Bachman Photos by Joey Halvorson

bu ilde r




How to find her house? “Half mile persevering” was the phrase Carla Benjamin used in her email. How true, as it was a long, curvy, grassy trail off an asphalt road in Cass County north of Pillager. There was not a mailbox, only a fire number to give me guidance. The building permit was issued from Cass County July 25, 2006. Carla has been building a house in the woods on property north of Pillager that was once her parents, Hal and Doris Anderson. All around are scenic tall pine trees that Carla, her sisters and parents planted years ago. When she started building, she lived and worked in Minneapolis and the plan was for this to be a “get-a-away” cottage. It has been a labor of love with collaboration and help of family and friends for the design and initial building phases. Carla has basically worked alone for the last three years constructing and finishing her cottage. She has put her energies toward completing the cottage to live in full-time in the near future. It has been a plus that her mother lives in Baxter. Going to her mother’s allows Carla to leave the construction zone. As Carla says, being able to shower and live away from the dust of construction greatly enhances the building experience. Carla has also had to be creative with


Winter 2013 | her voice

A labor of love, Carla Benjamin is building her house from scratch with repurposed timber and some native wood. Located north of Pillager, the cozy home has a breathtaking view of Pillsbury Forest.

her schedule, as she travels frequently around the state with her job. Therefore her time to build is coordinated around a busy work life. As I tour the house, Carla’s creativity is noted immediately with her choice of the colors, style and her construction skills. She has incorporated timber frame beams from an old barn that once stood in Maple Grove and another from an old bridge in Scott County. On the walls of her studio she has tongue and groove local pine boards. The use of these reclaimed and local boards are part of what gives the house an original and

charmed feeling that enhance her house plan and creative use of materials. After showing me the house we walked her property and I saw the unused barn beams in her storage area where the wood appeared dull, weathered and uninteresting. I can see what a big job it was to clean, prepare and place the reclaimed wood. Carla says she hired professionals to do the plumbing, heating and dry wall. She also had the second floor deck and the roofing hired-out. But on her own and on occasion with the help of friends she did the electrical, framing, window and doors. She is obviously great at carpentry, painting and tiling, skills she proudly tells me she learned from her father. She had just completed the hardwood floor in the dining/main room before I arrived. I was impressed with the look and her energy to take on such a task alone. Carla graduated from the Brainerd High School the same year as I did in 1973. In those days girls could not take “boys’” classes such as carpentry, welding or auto mechanics. We each had changed our last name since then and didn’t make a connection of our past until we were face to face. Carla went on to graduate from the U of MN with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture journalism/studio arts and design. Over the years she has held many positions from writer to massage therapist. The top floor of her cottage is dedicated as her studio. She describes for me the miniature foam core “houses” she creates

using rice paper, paint and pigmented wax to make a dream-like scene when you open a door. These miniatures are what she refers to as a “baux.” She says, “Box is spelled ‘baux.’ I had to make up a word to try to describe the art I create.” When the door of the baux is opened, there are scenes with a season or theme such as pond baux, oak baux or summer moon. When I asked how she marketed these, she said, “I have invested so much time and energy that I cannot part with them.” Unfortunately they are presently in storage so I did not get to see them. As we enjoy the tea she has prepared, we look out the dining room window and see the Pillager Lake rice bed in the distance. While we talk, as if on cue, a wild turkey struts in the open field. It is the perfect location to build a dream cottage. And there is no question in my mind that her usage of the term cottage is perfect, as it captures the charm and love she has incorporated into her northwoods dream home.

Cynthia Bachman

Cynthia Bachman grew up and lives in the Brainerd lakes area with her husband, Brian. Cynthia has a master’s degree in art education and commutes to work as an RN at the University of MN Hospital/Fairview in Minneapolis, where she is a wound care specialist.

Winter 2013 | her voice


DArt NCE Finding Art Through Dance

Most afternoons you’ll find Roseanne Reed working hard in her dance studio in Pequot Lakes, patiently teaching ballet, tap, jazz or hip hop to her young students.


Winter 2013 | her voice

B y J o d i e Tw e e d Photos by Joey Halvorson


While her future ballerinas and hip hop artists may think they’re learning a new ballet position or dance move, they may not realize until much later in life what they’re really gaining in Roseanne’s dance classes. Roseanne hopes to inspire her students to develop a lifelong interest in the fine arts, including the art of dance. She also hopes along the way they learn about kindness, respect and the value in supporting one another. She teaches them a bit of yoga and Pilates, and will explain to them the importance of fueling their bodies with healthy foods. She provides each student with a small cup of freshly cut fruit and vegetables after each class to encourage healthy eating habits. Many of her dancers pursue interests in other arts, such as music and theater. About one-quarter of her students are homeschooled. While the vast majority of her students are girls, she does have a few boy dancers in her classes and would love more male students. It’s good for boys, but also for girls. They need dance partners, and boys bring an exciting dynamic to the dance floor, she said. “The arts are something I’ve always loved,” said Roseanne. “It helps us become passionate, intelligent human beings. You become a thinker when you appreciate the finer things in terms of art.”

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“I get so attached to these kids.” ~ Roseanne Reed

Roseanne teaches dance three to four hours daily, six days a week to students from 3 years to adults.

Roseanne believes that dance should be accessible and affordable for everyone. She said families can spend more than $500 a month supporting their dancer’s lessons, work workshops, clothing and more. Not in her classes. Roseanne has a box of used ballet and tap shoes, allowing dancers to buy a pair for $5 or trade in their old shoes for a larger size when they outgrow their old pair. She sews many of her dancers’ outfits for their winter and spring dance performances herself, or she will have them wear easy-to-find and affordable dance costumes. Originally from Bloomington, she and her family moved to Emily when she was 12. She was the oldest of six children and her parents didn’t have much money. There weren’t any dance classes she could take in this rural com community, but her family probably wouldn’t have been able to afford them anyway, she said. But she developed agility and grace by spending five years on the Crosby-Ironton High School gymnastics team, which back then didn’t require student to pay athletic fees. She also did a lot of social dancing, learning polkas and waltzes before she graduated from C-I High School in 1972. At 20, Roseanne left Minnesota and on a lark moved to Albuquerque, N.M. She met her husband, Dwight, and they raised their five daughters there. While in Albuquerque, Roseanne began taking dance lessons and sepaeventually started teaching dance at two sepa rate dance studios. While she was working full-time for UPS and raising her young girls, she attended the bacheUniversity of Phoenix and earned her bache


Winter 2013 | her voice

lor’s degree in business management and fine arts. When she retired from UPS after 25 years in 2001, she and her family moved to rural Brainerd; her dream had been to live on a lake and open her own dance studio. Roseanne taught dance at Music General in Brainerd for seven years and then the opportunity arose to open her own dance studio at Snap Fitness in Pequot Lakes. She works 30 hours a week in accounting at ProBuild in Brainerd, and you’ll likely find her teaching dance three to four hours a day six days a week at her studio. Her students range in age from 3 years to adults in her salsa dancing class. “I get so attached to those kids,” Roseanne said of her tiny dancers. “It’s like they’re my own kids.” All five of Roseanne’s daughters were active in dance, and now she’s passed on her love of dance to her grandchildren. She has six grandchildren with a seventh grandchild due in December. Her granddaughter, Trevina Newcomer, 16, is named after a Russian ballet dancer. Trevina and her sister, Jade Smith, 14, dance at Music General, but they also perform during their grandmother’s dance shows. Roseanne takes them to participate in dance workshops and watch dance performances at Twin Cities dance companies as often as she can. “I just like being able to go and show my emotions on stage and let it all out when I perform in a real personal way,” Trevina explained of why she is drawn to dance. “If you’re happy or sad, you can express yourself through dance.” Just like her granddaughters, Roseanne is always in training, taking dance classes and workshops whenever she

Ballet dancers of all ages practice the positions, using the barre for balance. finds one that interests her. She also teaches yoga. Roseanne said her proudest moments are usually found when she is backstage running the lights and music for her dance productions and she watches her students on stage perform for their families. “Most of the time, I’m crying,”

Roseanne said with a laugh. “I’m wiping tears and watching them dance their hearts out and feel good about themselves.” “I am thankful for every day and my wonderful supportive husband and family, and for being able to do the things that I love.”

Jodie Tweed

Jodie Tweed is a freelance writer living in Pequot Lakes.

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fit ne s s



By Jill Neumann Photos by Joey Halvorson



Breast cancer survivor Mary Claire Ryan, age 61, runs and cross country skies in the Northland Arboretum. Denise Sundquist, 47, prefers mountain biking on the Cuyuna lakes trails. Inset: Sarah Beierman, 29, juggles running outdoors in Gregory Park with the needs of her three children under six. 22

Winter 2013 | her voice

It’s no secret women are living longer. One hundred years ago, in America, the average life expectancy for a female was 55 years. It continues to trend upwards. For a female infant born today, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), she can expect to live well over 80. Certainly, many factors play into the increase in human longevity. Then again, health and wellness is in many cases determined by personal choices and strong determination. How do local Brainerd lakes area women create and maintain individual wellness?

Sarah Beierman, age 29, Brainerd Throughout the early adult years, women typically are beginning careers and families. While youth is definitely an advantage, it’s often a challenge to begin and continue with fitness plans with changing priorities and ever-changing lives. Sarah Beierman fits exercise into her busy day. She has three children under age six and manages her own child-care business in Brainerd. “Currently, I run outdoors whenever possible while pushing my 2-yearold in a stroller and my 4- and 6-year-olds ride their bikes alongside me,” she says.“Other times, I play games with the soc children like basketball, soccer, baseball or just play in the sprinklers. Motivation is crucial. “I want to be a role model for my children and also grow older continuing to be active and healthy enough to watch my children and grandchildren grow up,” she says. “Also, I like to feel like I accomplished something besides running in small circles inside my house all day.” As advice to others like herself, Sarah says, “Be like Forrest Gump and run wherever you’re going. I have been known to run

to my car after getting groceries. It’s funny to overhear other children asking their parents, “Why is that lady running with her groceries?” Denise Sundquist, age 47, Brainerd Denise Sundquist, age 47, joins the multitudes of adventurous women experiencing the wide-ranging mountain bike trails in the nearby Cuyuna lakes region. Denise said, “If I had one day left on earth, I would spend it on the Cuyuna trails, mountain biking. My husband purchased a “fat bike” for me recently so we can mountain bike together all winter.” Fueling her fiery motivation is a threepronged approach: 1) Working out with other people “I am a regular at the YMCA and a member of the Paul Bunyan Cyclists and Lakes Area Multi Sport. Each group welcomes people of all ages and abilities.” says Denise. 2) Signing up for an event or race Says Denise,“An event holds me accountable to train. My goal isn’t to win a race but

to do my best and finish with a smile on my face.” 3) Posting a training schedule for the week and month “When I come home from work on Monday and it says, “Run five miles,” I head to the mud room for running shoes, not to the fridge for a Jack Pine growler,” she says. Mary Claire Ryan, 61, Brainerd Going outside to play comes naturally to Mary Claire, 61, known in the Brainerd lakes area for her Learn to Ski program at Mount Ski Gull and her many coaching endeavors. “I was always told as a child to go outside and play and that is what I do! I’ve been running since I was 18 and I do all kinds of active things. But anything on skis has been at the top of the list. I like to Nordic ski, downhill ski and slalom water ski. I like wilderness canoe tripping, especially in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. My most recent dream come true was climbing to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park,” said Mary Claire.

It hasn’t always been easy to stay active. Mary Claire explains, “I am a six-year cancer survivor. I know my level of fitness helped me get through all the treatments. When I was too tired to run, I bought a bike and it allowed me to move even if it was slow.” For someone who would like tips for getting more active, Mary Claire suggests, “Find an activity that appeals to you. Go out for a walk. Start small and build on it. Find a friend so you are committed to going. I’m sure I wouldn’t have done as many running and ski races without my friends.” Whether you’re a woman who is 18 or 80, fitness and health choices are unlimited and achievable.

Jill Neumann

Jill Neumann, a Brainerd resident, is a married mother of two boys. She is the executive director of the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation and enjoys many active pursuits with her family including martial arts.

Winter 2013 | her voice


By Jenny Gunsbury Photos by Joey Halvorson

The Gregoryian Hand Bell choir is comprised of members of Brainerd’s UCC and UMC church: (L-R) Director Claudette Kitzman, Sarah Devins, Beverley Rempel, Delores Nelson, Jan Morton, Karen Ogdahl, Lance James, Clinton Rhodes, Loree Yeager, Judy Whiteman, Sharon Hurley, Barb Stokke and Nedra Van Duyn.

Bells at Christmas


“Jingle Bells,” “Silver Bells,” “Carol of the Bells,” “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”... the list of religious and secular Christmas songs involving bells is long and full of tradition. For centuries, bells have been rung to celebrate the birth of Jesus and announce glad tidings. Church bells in steeples were once a common sight and sound in many places around the world. In Brainerd, however, we are fortunate to have a hand bell choir that has started a tradition of offering a community Christmas concert. “There is just something about hearing bells being played at Christmas that gives me shivers,” says Claudette Kitzman, director of the


Winter 2013 | her voice

Gregoryian Hand Bell Choir. The choir consists of members from both the First Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC) and Park United Methodist Church (UMC) and was formed in 1995. “Our pastor at the time, George Steffen, named the group because both churches are adjacent Gregory Park on Brainerd’s north side. Hence the title, Gregoryian,” explains Jan Morton of First Congregational UCC and bell choir member since 2002. The first director was Doris Anderson. Lynn Foote, wife of then-Park UMC’s pastor, Larry Foote, was also very instrumental in getting the group going and purchasing bells. “Accommodating both congregations’ Sunday morning schedules can limit when and how long we are able to perform,” explains Claudette. “I can never get enough

of playing Christmas music, so I thought it would be neat to have a Christmas concert where the bell choir can play a lot of Christmas music and not be limited to just performing during church services.” The Christmas concert this year is “Bells around the World.” The performance will be Sunday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. at Park United Methodist Church. “I picked music from different countries to show the diversity of the bells,” adds Claudette. “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella” (French carol), “Believe” (North Pole) from the movie “Polar Express,” and “Twas in the Moon of Wintertime” (Canadian Huron carol) are just a few of the songs they will perform. “My hope is that this concert gets people in the Christmas spirit,” says Loree Yeager, a member of Park UMC who has

Left, Because of their weight, the low bells played by Nedra Van Duyn sit on rockers and are played with mallets. Center, Jan Morton (far right) has been with the choir since 2002. Right, Jenny Gunsbury (right) and her daughter Claire play a flute duet.

Winter 2013 | her voice


“There is just something about hearing bells being played at Christmas that gives me shivers.” ~ Hand Bell Choir Director, Claudette Kitzman

Ring on Ye Joyous Christmas Bells! been in the hand bell choir since its inception. “It’s really a type of mission to reach out to people in the community.” Jan echoes that statement and adds, “I really enjoy this concert, but it’s a challenge to get so much Christmas music ready!” “The bell ringers work very hard on the music,” explains Claudette. “Some of the music I have picked has not been very easy, so it does give them a challenge.” Unlike vocal choirs, instrumental bands, or orchestras, bell ringers are responsible only for the notes in the music that correspond to the bells in their hands instead of an entire line in the score. Ringers have to concentrate on every note as the song progresses to be able to play the correct one at just the right time. Depending on the song and number of key changes, most bell ringers play two bells but some may be accountable for up to six or eight. If necessary, the 13- member choir can cover four octaves of music which often translates to some ringers using multiple bells for one song. Adding dynamics to a piece of music (playing soft or loud tones) can also add a level of difficulty. “It is not easy to play the bells softly, but when they need to play loud, that is a pretty cool effect,” says Claudette. “When doing a soft to loud dynamic, the effect can be awesome, too.” 26

Winter 2013 | her voice

There are also special techniques ringers use to make unique sounds. Martellato is when the ringer strikes the table pad with the edge of the bell, creating a staccato note. Swinging the bell back and forth along the ringer’s side performs a tower swing, which mimics the tolling of a church bell. By using damping techniques or mallets, a variety of sounds can be made that add interest to the music. The larger and softer the mallets, the more mellow the sound will be, and they can be used while the bell is lying on the table pad or with the bell suspended. For the echo technique, the bell is rung and then touched lightly to the table pad — not enough to damp the sound but just enough to punctuate it. Each touch diminishes the ring, creating the effect of a fading echo. Even placing the thumb against the outside of the bell while ringing it deadens the ring to more of a “thump” sound. The choir has recently experimented with singing bells. The bell is tipped up so the large opening of the bell is pointed skyward. A wooden dowel about one inch across and eight inches long is then pressed against the outer edge of the bell in a circular motion, like you are stirring soup. The effect is like a humming sound. With all the various techniques to learn

and having to read the music with a different focus, the bells may seem daunting. Neither Loree nor Jan had experience playing bells before joining the choir. But both shared a love of music that encouraged their sense of adventure to try something new. “Knowing how to play the saxophone and the harmonica helped me learn to play the bells,” says Loree. “Yet, it’s really different than playing anything else. I love music and playing in the bell choir takes away any stress of the day. I wish practices were longer!” Jan agrees that there is just something about the bells that intrigues her. “Each member is so important and I’m amazed at the dedication of this group. It’s rare to have someone miss a rehearsal because if they do, their notes just don’t get played. There is also a feeling of satisfaction of mastering a difficult rhythm, change in dynamic or technique. It’s really a joy to play.” The Gregoryian Hand Bell Choir performs one Sunday a month at both First UCC and Park UMC. They have also played for various groups in the community such as the Nisswa Women’s Club, Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center Auxiliary volunteer appreciation luncheon, and local nursing homes. “In

This year’s Christmas concert is “Bells around the World,” Sunday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. at Park UMC.

Experience the musical beauty of the bells. May 2013, we had our first spring concert,” says Claudette. “We hope to make that an annual event too.” For now, as the season of snow is upon us, there is an opportunity for all to experience the musical beauty of the bells from around the world. Ring on Ye Joyous Christmas Bells!

Jenny Gunsbury

Jenny Gunsbury enjoys learning new things and meeting interesting people as she writes for area publications. She lives near the Pillsbury State Forest with her husband and two children.

Winter 2013 | her voice


hea lt h

By Audrae Gruber Photo by Joey Halvorson


Hospice I


It was one of those hot July days when the call

came. Kris Kayser went into action mode, preparing for her next patient visit. As the Good Samaritan hospice social worker, her job is to be the first patient contact for assessment and care. This case was unique. In her many years of hospice care, she had never worked with a patient with Japanese roots. Toshi spoke broken English and had unique cultural views of the dying process. After their first meeting, Kris realized there wasn’t much time. One of her greatest challenges is that families and patients often wait too long to call hospice. Toshi was still able to think and speak and respond. She smiled with relief when she talked about her last wishes. The customs of her culture weighed heavy. Her husband had died and she had no children. Her family was in Japan. She had given up hope of leaving this world in the way she had been taught as a child...until Kris came. Important to her was being cremated and having her ashes spread in a Japanese garden. Another custom of her culture was to wear a kimono for her cremation. Her time was too short to contact family in Japan. Kris did what she always did — follow the patient’s last wishes. Toshi’s ashes rest peacefully in a Japanese garden and Kris was able to find a kimono for the final act of cremation. Kris was 50 and a single moth mother of two boys when she went back to school. She had limited resources and needed a way to move on with her life. One of her proudest achievements is earning a perfect 4.0 average


information and giving people

empowerment 28

Winter 2013 | her voice

Kris Kayser is the Good Samaritan hospice social worker.

Kris Kayser has that

special gift.

Kris’s work with Good Samaritan is monumental. her entire school years and graduating magna cum laude. She chose the field of social work because as a single mom she had benefited from help and social services and felt it was payback time. Kris’s work with Good Samaritan is monumental. She brings a unique blend of IQ — intelligence quotient and EQ — emotional quotient, to her work. Countless times patients are able to discuss and reveal parts of their lives with someone outside of the family — issues of regrets, family separations, last wishes for a contact with a lost friend or family member, a relationship that has gone bad and needed resolution, last wishes seeking peace with their world. From experience, Kris knows that unresolved issues can create conflict and difficulty of acceptance for the road ahead for patients and their families. The goals of her team are to bring peace and harmony. A hospice team includes a chaplain, nurse, volunteer, social worker, doctor and home health aide. Each one is dedicated to helping the patient find resolution. On the list of unusual last wishes was the Native American cleansing ceremony requested by a patient confined to her bed. Her nursing home room walls and shelves were covered with Native American dolls and memorabilia. Although the woman was not Native American, she had been drawn to their cultural values and ceremonies. This particular ceremony called smudging required a shaman and burning of herbs in her room. With the help of volunteers and Bethany, her wish was granted and the ceremony took place. She died a week later at peace with her world. Kris is also the volunteer coordinator for Good Samaritan. She keeps continual contact and training for these major participants in the hospice program. They are like extended family and provide important comfort to patients and families. Through Kris’ example they learn the importance of going that extra mile for patients. Volunteers offer special services letto the dying — helping them to write let ters or reading aloud. One volunteer had an opportunity to help a patient write his story as a POW, documenting a story his family had never heard —

life stories that need to be told. Kris is also involved with her home community. She and her husband Dan, own a shop on Main Street in Pine River called Stone Woman Herbals. It is a health/ wellness place for organic oils and herbs for beauty as well as cooking. The shop stresses education and helpful information to inform people to lead healthier lives.

Audrae Gruber

Audrae is on the Brainerd Library Board and is a writer, volunteer, researcher and continual seeker.

Winter 2013 | her voice


By Donna Salli

Donna Salli (center) with her parents in the upper peninsula of Michigan.


Life of a

Dad worked as an underground miner. He’d worked the iron mines and was then at a copper mine. He had come home sick from a shift and spent the night on the living room floor, trying to ease pain in his back. He was stubborn. The next morning, the company hospital was the only one my mother could convince him to go to. It was 40 miles away along a narrow two-lane road through swampy, rocky terrain. He drove. When he got out of the car, hospital staff put him immediately into a wheelchair and his heart went into arrhythmia. If he hadn’t been where he was, he’d have died. Since the phone call had come, telling me all this, it had been a numbing week. I was living in Salt Lake City, where my husband was a graduate student, and the next morning, I flew home into a snowstorm. In Minneapolis, my connecting flight to the U.P. was cancelled. The airport was at a standstill. I sat and watched snow whirl around the tires of 727s. I used a payphone


Winter 2013 | her voice

I can tell you when it happened, the first time something shifted in me. It was January 1982. I was a month shy of 28, standing in an admissions area at Marquette General Hospital in the U.P. of Michigan. My father had had a massive heart attack and was being transferred to Marquette from a 12-bed mining company hospital. He was wheeled in wearing my wool hat, which I had slipped onto his head as he was being put into the ambulance.


to call the hospital a couple times. Other than that, I didn’t know if my father was alive. Outside, from Minneapolis to the U.P., the weather was freakish — 40 below, 40 mile an hour winds, snow. There were a lot of us stranded. We waited. Finally, the airline brought around a bus and drove us north. I spent the first night at my aunt’s — her house was close, and someone picking up another passenger drove me there. In the morning, my brother drove 15 miles through the storm to get me, then 15 miles back, then the 40 to the mine. When we walked into the hospital, the floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby were white with ice. The lobby was eerie, closed in and freezing, like the scene of some environmental catastrophe. Not long after, my brother left, taking with him our sister who’d been there with Mom. Family members drove, and drove again, through unending bad weather, that dangerous road to the hospital. My father’s condition defied usual patterns. He’d improve over a

couple of days — then have an attack of arrhythmia. There’d be flat lines and crash carts, those of us who were there, standing helpless in the hallway. Mom and I lived at the hospital. We were without a vehicle, wore the same clothes for days, ate hospital food, weathered caffeine withdrawal headaches. There were no shops or restaurants near the hospital and the only coffee was decaf. The nurses had given us privacy in what had once been a labor room. It was small, windowless and dark, and we slept on what my mother said were labor tables, two hard, raised beds that a generation of women had labored on. I could almost hear them as I rested there. The beds were narrow but filled the room with a walkway between them. On one wall was a dime store “painting” of a covered bridge. In its dark, glassless frame, as we lay there with the lights out, my mother kept seeing Jesus. “Jesus is in the picture now,” she’d say. She described him as filled with light, his

hand extended to her. I’d roll over and look. There was nothing there. No light, no Jesus, no reflection or revelation of any kind. I had stopped going to church years before, too many questions without answers. I still had the questions. I wanted to see, but I didn’t. Yet something was laboring in me. An irony is that my parents weren’t church types, but because of the experience with them in that hospital — my father’s patience around his seized heart, the stepping out of time in the labor room with my mother — something was laboring to be born. I think of those days as marking the end of my childhood. My life had been untried, until then. I’d been married four years but was still a little girl, filled with her self. In those stormy days and nights, the little girl wandered away. The doctors decided to transfer my dad to a cardiac unit, so we were driven two hours to Marquette on a very cold day in an ambulance that had broken heaters. That’s when I gave my father my hat — a chocolate-brown, wool stocking cap I’d gotten for Christmas. At the end of the ride, I didn’t get it back. When I think of that hat, I remember how starkly it contrasted

with the white of the blankets. It was Sunday, and when Mom and I walked into the hospital admissions area, a televangelist was on TV. Now, I don’t care for most of what I see and hear from televangelists. But as I stood there — and I remember acutely it was a pristine, brightly lit lobby — I knew I was different than I had been. My father’s heart was forever changed and so was mine. Something had opened in it. Whether I understood it or not, there was something more, and I knew I was connected to it. Something people of faith call God. I’d like to say my father lived another 40 years — he was hoping to reach 100. He managed 30 and left us last December. In the months since, something has been shifting in me again. Who knows what time I have? More than ever, I’m drawn to the place of my origin, that land of rocks, iron and copper, of lakes and swamps and hardscrabble trees, and I’m claiming even stronger kin with the people I come from, that down-to-earth, hardy lot. I’ve been thinking a lot about what purpose there is to my life, if I’ve found what I’m meant for. I can only guess. But I live intuitively, anyway. Since writing has the power to catapult me

out of bed and move me to the desk in the dark of night, I figure it’s part of it.Whatever years I have left will be filled with words. I don’t need so much anymore to be sure of a purpose or to understand what’s unfolding in this world. I think of giving my father my hat. Who knows where it ended up? What other heads it warmed? How it got to them? If I can live like that hat, open to chance, offering some sort of warmth, my life will have mattered.

Donna Salli

Donna Salli was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the oldest of five siblings. She earned a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and teaches at Central Lakes College. She and her husband, Bruce Eastman, live in Brainerd.

Look for our Holiday Gift Guides First issue available Thanksgiving Day! Gift Ideas Coloring Contest Featured Events and Festivities

Holiday Gift Guide 2013

Gifts and traditions

Brainerd Dispatch: Nov. 28 and Dec. 4, 11 and 18 Echo Journal: Nov. 28 and Dec. 5, 12 and 19 Neighbors Weekend Edition: Nov. 29 Echoland-Piper Shopper: Dec. 2 Winter 2013 | her voice


cou p les

By Mary Aalgaard Photo by Joey Halvorson



After spending years together

they could finally make it official.


The proposals came via cellphone calls and text messages or a moment during their every day lives when one stopped what she was doing and asked, “Do you want to marry me?” After spending years together, women who had been in deeply committed and loving relationships could finally make it official as same sex marriage become legal in the state of Minnesota on Aug. 1, 2013. As the brides began planning their weddings, they walked into floral shops, jewelers and print shops with excitement and a little trepidation, at first not quite sure they wanted to announce that this was their wedding to the women with whom they wanted to spend


Winter 2013 | her voice

Married on Aug. 11, 2013, (L to R) Coleen Carder, Ann Turnbull, Deb Lundberg and Shirley Barton. (The last couple chose not to be identified). The Minnesota Historical Society has selected this photo to include in their display of same sex couples married in 2013.

the rest of their lives. Couples were met with overwhelming love and support as they planned their weddings from waitresses who bought them dinner, to jewelers who gave them a screaming good deal on their wedding bands to florists who leapt from behind the counter to give them a hug. On Aug. 11, 2013, Linda Crowe, pastor at the United Church of Christ church in Brainerd presided over three same sex couples who wanted to share the moment and get married on the same day. Their church community responded with “What can we do?” Some brought salads. Others provided the flowers. Two young men who

are in the horticulture program at Central Lakes College did all the floral arrangements. The women looked at them and thought, “If they choose to get married, they won’t have to wait so long.” Most of the women explained, “We never thought we’d see this in our lifetime.” What does this mean for the younger generation? Equality, a chance to be accepted for who you are, not living in constant fear of being “outed,” and fewer suicides as a result of prejudice, bullying and low self-esteem. We are all witness to a major turning point in the history of the world. When laws no longer exist that uphold prejudice and separation, we have the opportunity to move forward in unity. The Minnesota Historical Society recognizes this momentous occasion and has put out a call for photos of same sex weddings. Photos from the triple wedding, taken by Joey Halvorson, will be part of this display. This is much more than a legal issue or a religious argument. It’s a justice issue. No one should ever be afraid to be who they are, to hide, or to fear for their safety or jobs. What same sex marriage gives us is affirmation that you can be who you are, to love freely whomever you chose, and it provides the potential of changing how people feel internally. Debbie Endres, co-owner of Brainerd Lakes Holistic Center, is a wedding officiant, conducting commitment ceremonies for same and opposite sex couples, as well as legal weddings for both. When asked why, she says, “It’s the right thing to do, honoring what I’m being led to do.” She is adamant that “God is love” and that the thread that runs through any family, no matter what that looks like, is love. It doesn’t make sense to try to put everyone in the same, tired, old picture frame. It doesn’t fit for most people. It never has. Children are raised by all kinds of par parents and with the help of teachers and neigh neighbors. “Any child raised in love by any parent is a precious upbringing,” says Debbie. Being legally married means that you are next of kin, leaving no doubt that you can sign for each other in case of medical emergencies and be included in confidential information and that you are each other’s family. Deb Lundberg and Shirley Barten, two of the brides on the Aug. 11 wedding, have had nieces and nephews stay with them and take care of them throughout the 38 years they’ve

been together. The kids call both of them aunt and they were first in line to offer their congratulations as they made plans to make their marriage legal. Deb and Shirley had exchanged vows to each other on New Year’s Eve 1976 and are thrilled to be able to publically announce that they are legally married. Shirley said, “I feel freer. I don’t have to hide who I am anymore.” While not all of the fears are gone and some family members did not offer support, these women have truly felt a shift in attitudes toward them and about themselves. They were blessed by the offerings to help at their weddings from salads to set-up and the gifts they received both tangible and intangible. Cheers and tears raised the rafters at the UCC church on Aug. 11 when Pastor Linda Crowe presented each couple and announced, “You are now legally married.”

Mary Aalgaard

Mary Aalgaard writes for area publications, an inspirational blog, and entertainment reviews on her blog and on the Brainerd Dispatch website. She and her sister Joy are teaching art, music and writing classes at their new business, The Primo Art Spa.

Winter 2013 | her voice


cl ubs an d c l u st e r s

AAUW Supports Area Women

By Doris Anderson “Presenting Yourself” sessions to help young women students pre prepare for job interviews and provide information during Welcome Week. Other area activities include donating gifts to The Women’s Center at Christmas time, nominat nominating women for the Young Women for Equity Award and sending a delegate to the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) at the University of Maryland. Brainerd’s

Jan. 11, 2014. Learn more and see photos of the Brain Buster by going to the website brainbustertrivia. . Another popular activity enjoyed by the Brainerd members is the book club. Meeting in member homes about six times a year for a potluck, readers discuss a book which has been selected by the vote of the members. AAUW is open to all graduates, women and men, who hold an asso-


The AAUW, the American Association of University Women, is an organization created to encourage and support women and girls educationally, socially, economically and politically. It was founded in Boston in 1881 by 17 women college graduates, and has been part of the Brainerd lakes area for over 50 years. The local branch of AAUW was chartered April 1, 1963, with 15 women as charter members. Three of those women, Becky Hansen, Evelyn Matthies, and Ruth Wig, still belong to the group. This year the Brainerd branch has 30 members. On the national level, AAUW was instrumental in ensuring the passage in Congress of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The law, which prohibits sex discrimination in any school that receives public funding, has had a profound effect, especially on women’s access to athletics and college admissions. Another area in which AAUW works hard is that of pay equity. President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, but 50 years later, there is still a pay gap between men and women workers. In 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, Minnesota women workers earned 80 percent of what men earned. AAUW is urging its members to contact their members of Congress and press for approval of the Paycheck Fairness Act. The national AAUW makes funds available to women fighting sex-discrimination lawsuits, often against colleges where the women have been paid less than their male counterparts. They have also issued several nationally recognized research reports on topics such as bullying and sexual harassment in schools, as well as sexual harassment in the military, reports which have brought attention to these widespread problems. In the Brainerd lakes area, activities in the early years focused on helping with winter theatre productions at Central Lakes College (CLC) and holding a job fair to introduce girls to traditional and non-traditional career choices. Every year, Brainerd still presents scholarships to CLC students. In recent years, Brainerd also partnered with CLC, co-sponsoring


Winter 2013 | her voice

T (Front, left), Eleanore Aarrestad, Pam O’Rourke, Julie Despot, Jean Schaeffer, Mona Graham, Janet Haarman, (back, left), Carolyn Despot, Patricia Scott, Colleen LeBlanc, Kari Christiansen, Mary Farmer, Beatrice Eades, Roberta Freese and Doris Anderson.

Equity Award nominee, Emily Bukowski, a student at Brainerd High School, was one of two women who won state honors and scholarship money. The NCCWSL delegate in 2013 was Anna Backberg, a student at CLC. Brainerd co-hosted the Minnesota State AAUW convention in 2012, working with members of the Grand Rapids branch. The annual Brain Buster, a trivia contest, is the largest fundraiser/ social event for the Brainerd branch. Tables of up to six contestants compete against each other for prizes and recognition. The next Brain Buster will be held at Northland Arboretum in Baxter on Saturday,

ciate or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university. The Brainerd branch also offers a “community membership” for individuals who do not hold those degrees, but believe in, and wish to help promote equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Brainerd’s co-presidents for 2013-2014 are Colleen LeBlanc (218-828-6233) and Jean Schaeffer (218-839-9714). The AAUW website,, contains more information about the organization.

Doris Anderson

Doris Anderson lives in Brainerd and is a retired music educator who moved to the Brainerd lakes area with her husband, Hal, in 1950. She remains active as a volunteer in numerous ways in the community and has been a member of AAUW since the 1960s, including eight years as their president.


By Kaari Kuusisto Photos by Joey Halvorson

Tuesday rtis ts

The Lake Edward Town Hall may be used for various reasons every day of the week. On Tuesdays, that reason is watercolor painting. Four women arrive, vehicles filled with art supplies. Once the doors open, lights go on, the blinds are pulled back, and easels, pallets, paints and brushes are placed on long tables. With white walls, excellent overhead lighting and big windows, it’s a painters’ dream workspace. But, what’s best about it is what happens for the four painters who create together — these Tuesday Artists.

Tuesdays begin with show and tell — what they’re working on, how things are going and if they need advice. Speaking ceases as each begins their own process. Sometimes it’s beginning a painting from photo files, sometimes it’s making drawings to explore composition issues before finally stretching paper on boards and beginning to paint. During the day, artwork is put up for instant critiques. This act of “putting yourself out there” might lead to feelings of apprehension in other settings, but not here. Because each wants the others to succeed, they grow together as artists, producing artwork that improves with each painting. This inspiring alchemy doesn’t happen every day or within just any group. On Tuesdays at Lake Edward Town Hall, there is sharing, challenging, encouraging and reminding each other “it’s only a piece of paper.” Mona Warren has a degree in elementary education, beginning with graphite drawings in Saudi Arabia: “I paint with watercolors to create a visual story by pulling together threads of ideas from different photographs I have taken. The mood of my paintings is like music with rich, strong colors and the movement of light.” Mary Hendricks studied fine arts in college, worked in oil painting and pastels and is a photographer. “I am drawn to moments when light dances across a stream, softens patches of leaves or highlights a single stem. These moments, captured in landscape or details of nature are central in my work. I delight in the transparency and drama that can be achieved in pigment.” Carol Hanson comes from a background of fiber art, wanting to broaden her experience with watercolor. “I started this journey pumping away on Mother’s treadle sewing machine making doll clothes. I now realize that I came to love the artistic process, not

Mona Warren Mona Warren

Winter 2013 | her voice


Mary Hendricks

the outcome. The outcome is subjective and the process is exciting and unknown. What if? My artistic process is like a river, never static.” Judy Kuusisto has a background in fine art, illustration and education. “Just as the quality of light and color are ever changing in nature, so the combination of rich pigment, paper, water and being open to new experiences makes the process endlessly fascinating. Each painting is an invitation to the viewer to join me on the adventure.” All four have varied artistic backgrounds, but each wanted to tackle the challenge of watercolor. About this, Judy says, “Most painting techniques rely on working from dark to light, but watercolor asks the painter to save the white of the paper and work in layers, always thinking backwards and forwards. Each watercolor is the result of careful planning, sketching and knowing that as soon as the painting process begins one needs to be open to the unpredictability of the medium.” Watercolor painter and former resident Kathy Kovala was their teacher when Mary, Mona and Judy participated in an art show. During the show, a man who painted Western scenes turned to Judy saying, “I paint every day. The only way to get better is to paint every day.” Judy took the advice to heart, but with her busy schedule, painting every day is an impossible commitment. “All of us

have hectic lives. We were not growing as artists because of obligations.” After that, Judy and Mary painted together at Mary’s house. Eventually, Mona suggested that since Judy lives in Lake Edward Township, the three of them rent the hall and paint together each week. After another class from Kathy, Judy met Carol. Another instant bond was formed, completing the group. Mona says of the Tuesday Artists, “We enter a safe place each Tuesday, free from competition, rejection or judgment. We laugh, cry and return home feeling refreshed.” Carol adds, “We love the commitment of each of us to the group, the absence of competition and the sharing of our strengths and weaknesses as artists and women.” Like others before them, the Tuesday Artists have found inspiration in Fritz Loven Park. A hidden gem in Lake Shore Township, the park was the home and great love of Fritz Loven from 1948 until 1975. Although the pine and hardwood studded park is bordered by one of Minnesota’s premier tourist destinations, visitors find that after turning onto the park road a sense of quiet envelops them. The park has within its boundaries a winding trout stream called Stony Brook, and each season brings panoply of wildflowers, high bush cranberries and an abundance of wild fruit and wildlife. Four Artists, Four Seasons, Fritz Loven Park art show is the result of the

Four Artists, Four Seasons Fritz Loven Park Art Sho w

Q Galler y a t Crossing Arts Alliance, Franklin Art Center

Jaques Art Center, Aitkin Feb., 14 through March 22, Tuesdays - Sa turdays, Opening reception 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Dec., 6-31• 5-7 p.m. Free admission Free admission Tues. - Fri. Noon–4 p.m. 218-927-2363 Sa t., Dec. 14 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Carol Hanson 36

Winter 2013 | her voice

*The galler y is closed Dec. 24-25


Judy Kuusisto

artists’ park study. In her proposal for the exhibit, Judy says, “We are making what is called a ‘deep study’ of this small, 80-acre park by visiting it at regular, seasonal intervals, making observations and taking photo references. By sharing our discoveries in watercolor paintings, and seeing rather than looking at the park, we find the subtleties can be inspiring.” Another inspiration for the exhibit was attending renowned local artist Russell Norberg’s workshops. Mona says, “To watch an exceptional artist create a work of art from his extensive sketch books of Minnesota’s natural areas is eye-opening. The

colors he used for the sky, trees and flowers represented the upper Midwest, making me re-look at my surroundings.” Every painter encounters challenges during the artistic process, but the Tuesday Artists have also encountered challenges exploring the park, finding their way blocked by spring floods and becoming uncomfortably familiar with summer mosquitos and wood ticks. Nevertheless, Carol says, “Each trip I would find something new to add as an element to the continually changing story of Fritz Loven Park. The last time I was there, all I could hear was the trout stream tinkling like the upper range of a piano. All I could think was how lucky we are not to have to travel far.” On Tuesday, each artist will be at a different place in their painting. What is complicated for one may be easy for another. However, knowing the magical moment a painting is finished is always hard ... and so it is on Tuesdays, a shared favorite phrase may be heard within the bright, white walls of the Lake Edward Town Hall ... “Just sign it, darn it!”

Kaari Kuusisto

Kaari grew up in Merrifield and misses the beauty of the Brainerd lakes area. She is a Myofascial Release Therapist currently living in Roseville with her husband Matt Hastert and their daughter Katja. Her mom is artist Judy Kuusisto, and on Tuesdays, she tries her best to refrain from calling her.

Winter 2013 | her voice


entr epr e n e u r s

Story and photos by Jill Anderson

A Sign of the Times

Years ago, if a man and woman

started a business, it would have been rare for the woman to run it. Not so today. Kerrie Erikstrup is half-owner and operator of K & M Signs.


K & M Signs, Inc. is the husband and wife team of Kerrie and Mark Erikstrup and for the past 23 years Kerrie has been the main one running the business. Mark has worked a full time job, but helps when he can with the technical design, painting and fabrication. Originally from Eagan, Minn., Mark took a job in the Deerwood area in 1994, and Kerrie thought about what she could do for work. A few years earlier, they needed registration numbers for their Jet Ski and Kerrie decided it looked like an interesting business. “I checked into sign software and cutters to see what was involved, borrowed some money to purchase the minimal equipment and soon I was making signs!” Kerrie is surprised at how her initial curiosity evolved into the full-time business she’s run now for years. Originally, Kerrie went to Dunwoody for machine drafting, but now loves her field of work, learning a lot from many people in the sign business and trade events over the years. “It’s nice to be able


Winter 2013 | her voice

to work in an industry willing to share the process with you so you can better your own work,” Kerrie says. In 1990, she took a small business class at the technical college in Rosemount, which helped the business side, and her clients began to grow by word of mouth. Kerrie ran it as a part-time business until they moved to Deerwood when it became her full-time job. She ran the business out of their home until they purchased a lot in the Ironton Industrial Park and built a building in 2007. Kerrie explained how her work has changed over the years. “I went from strictly vinyl lettering and graphics, to painting, routering, sandblasting, 3D signs and vehicle wraps.” Over the years, they added a lot of equipment to help the signmaking process, hoping to be a full service sign shop for the area. “Mark has helped out behind the scenes since the beginning, and it will be nice to have him full-time in the near future as my workload has increased greatly. We’re very grateful that business

has been good.” Kerrie says the best part of her job is that every job is different and challenging. “I’m my own boss and can try new ideas,” she says, “and I enjoy working on ideas with my customers.” With every job, there is a downside and for Kerrie, it’s the bookwork — the only part of the job she considers stressful. But she has so many hobbies and interests it helps diffuse the bookwork. I met Kerrie years ago through the Brainerd Curling Club. She’s one of those people who is always smiling, always game for anything, never one to just sit and watch. Some hobbies she’s been able to incorporate into her sign business. Kerrie enjoys welding and creating “yard art” from scrap metal and reclaimed objects. She also enjoys woodworking and blacksmithing has become her new obsession. “A gal can’t have too many anvils and forges!” Kerrie jokes. “There is something satisfying about heating metal to an orange glow and

pounding it with a big hammer to create. It’s fascinating to me,” says Kerrie. And it’s a good way to relieve stress. Kerrie also enjoys antiquing and hunting for old advertising signs and is interested in the area history. In her free time you’ll find Kerrie spending time with her family and friends, hiking the north shore, sitting on her pontoon at the lake, riding her motorcycle, driving her ’68 Chevy, walking their dog and curling all winter long. With so many interests, I asked what she initially wanted to do for a living. “I feel blessed to have had the variety of different jobs I’ve had in my life and have learned something from each one. I have great parents who taught me hard work pays off and that there’s nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it.” So what is Kerrie’s dream job? “I think I’m doing it!”

Sign making has evolved from vinyl lettering and graphics to painting, routing, 3D signs and vehicle wraps.

Jill Anderson

Jill is a frequent contributor to Her Voice, is in the process of submitting her first women’s fiction novel and is at work on her second. Her website is www. and you can find her on Facebook at Jill Hannah Anderson.

Winter 2013 | her voice


bu s ine s s

By Sandra Opheim Photos by Joey Halvorson

Dick Longbella started Longbella Drug 50 years ago.

Longbella Drug


A Family Affair

Lani Roberts is keeping a hometown business strong in Staples. This year, as Longbella Drug celebrates 50 years of service to the community, she is proud to say they are four stores strong. Lani’s father, Dick Longbella, married June Wagner, had four children and involved his children in the drugstore business. Lani says, “I always remember working in the store after school. My dad knew his customers by name and that kept people coming back.” Although Marn, the oldest daughter, began her college path in the pharmacy direction, she chose to finish her career in the dietary field. The second eldest, Chris, is a physician. Lani Roberts was the third child in line to keep the store in the family. She says, “I didn’t know if I really wanted to go to school to be a pharmacist. I had nursing in mind, but my dad had told me I would be a success and I should give the pharmacist path a try.” Her dad was right. Today, she is very passionate about running the store with her brother, Chad Longbella. Imagine 50 years ago, drinking a soda from the fountain and munching on peanuts at the local drug store. Today, this is a forgotten scene, but in the year 1950 it may not have been out of the ordinary for Skaife Drug Store in Staples, Minn. The Skaife Drug Store owner, Sam Skaife, hired C. Richard Longbella, who later bought the pharmacy in 1963. Mr. Longbella, also known as Dick to friends and family, attended North Dakota School of Science in order to become a pharmacist. “He was passionate about his work,” says Lani, “and a very good teacher. Maybe that is why I continued his legacy.” I am sure he didn’t realize the impact he would make on his community and family.


Winter 2013 | her voice

Lani Roberts and her brother Chad Longbella, owners of Longbella Drug, celebrate 50 years of service to the Staples community.

Passing on a drugstore from generation to generation can be difficult. There are many factors in making it a success. Today’s college-bound graduates have many choices and are encouraged to experience the world through job shadowing and on the job experiences. Lani knew she had to finish her college efforts even though her dad died unexpectedly before she finished. It was important enough to him so she worked very hard to keep the business in the family. Another woman in the community, Pat Ryle, was employed as a full-time pharmacist while Lani finished her schooling. Once Lani graduated,

Pat stayed on as an employee. Lani’s mother was also involved in the store. She was a home economics teacher until her first child was born then she raised the family and did tax-related work for the drugstore. These strong women worked hard to keep a family business a success. Superstores of today can be difficult to compete with, but Longbella Drug has survived. “Although it is a small town operation, it has big time benefits,” Lani said. “We are carrying on a tradition of knowing our

customers and being highly service oriented. We take pride in knowing people by their names.” Their stores are located in downtown Staples, one within the Lakewood Health System Hospital, and the others in Motley and Pillager. Through the years improvements have helped the store prosper. Dick Longbella doubled the store in size by buying the connecting space that once housed a men’s store. By removing a wall, they added a gift and greeting card section. The installation of

the computer network in 1990 helped speed up filling prescriptions. “My dad was creative with his store decorations,” Lani shares as she shows black and white photos of a fancy Old Spice display and cabana-themed shelving. In the early years of dispensing remedies, a pharmacist had to mix the powders on papers in a process called “compounding.” Today, everything comes in tablets and is easier to distribute. Lani noted, “More people are taking medicines. Years ago

“Years ago people just didn’t like taking medicines or couldn’t afford it.” ~ Lani Roberts

people just didn’t like taking medicines or couldn’t afford it.” With many grandchildren there is a possibility of Longbella being passed on, but its fate is questionable. Of the 13 grandchildren, none have really expressed an interest in becoming more involved in the Longbella Drug Store tradition. Lani’s daughter Hailey is pursuing a career in the medical field and her son, Tanner may head in pre-pharmacy or pre-medicine directions. Chad’s children Ashley, Kirsten and Grant are heading towards dental, marketing and business careers, respectively. Marn, the oldest Longbella daughter, has three children and Chris has five. There still may be hope for a third generation owner. Lani Roberts is not too concerned about passing on the torch. She has many more years to serve as a pharmacist and says with a smile, “I love my job!”

Sandra Opheim

Sandra is the author of the picture book “Whose Hat is That?,” an educator and coach in the Staples-Motley Schools and a mother and wife who loves anything outdoors.

Winter 2013 | her voice


t r ave l

Story and photos By Ahna Otterstadt

Green Tea Fields in Korea


One of the most beautiful and memorable places

I’ve been to this year was the green tea fields of Boseong, Korea. What green tea is to Boseong, the lakes are to Brainerd. Both are huge attractions with incredible beauty. Located in the Jeolla Providence in southern Korea, Boseong is one of the largest green tea farms, producing 40 percent of the country’s green tea. Getting there required a long five hour bus ride from Busan. Once I arrived at the run down, sleepy bus terminal of Boseong, another 20 minute shuttle ride was required before arriving at Daehan Green Tea Plantation, which is the most famous and largest green tea field in Boseong. There I walked through a forest of towering cedar trees, lined up along the path. It was quite majestic. I had seen photos but actually seeing the green tea fields in person left me awestruck and amazed. Going there in the fall was considered off peak season, but its beauty was not diminished. This was one of the most breathtaking sights I’ve ever seen. The “oohs and ahhs” were heard as people, myself included, stopped to take it all in. Green Tea Harvesting Process Green tea leaves are harvested three to four times a year in Korea. The harvesting time affects the taste and the quality of the green tea. The following are the some of the most popular types: Woojeon Tea is harvested April 20. This tea is made from the earliest buds after the cold winter and grades the highest among all grades. The taste is mild and fresh and only a limited amount is produced every year. Sejak is one of the most popular teas. It should be harvested before the leaves fully open in early May. It is often called Jakseol

While teaching in South Korea, Brainerd native Ahna Otterstadt explores her host country. 42

Winter 2013 | her voice

(bird tongue) because the tea leaf looks like a bird’s tongue. Because Joongjak is not harvested until the middle of May, one can enjoy the thicker flavor of grown tea leaves. Daejak is harvested late May. It is relatively a tougher tea made of more mature leaves than Joongjak and is rich in green tea ingredients, especially tannin, which gives it more of a pucker flavor. Yep tea is made of old tea leaves which have been collected in June and July. Hardened leaves are normally used to make a tea often served instead of drinking water. Tea plants are cultivated to grow only waist high, like shrubs, making it easier for harvesting. If left to grow wild, the plants would mature into tall trees. Even with the plants at a comfortable height, harvesting the green tea is difficult work. Usually rural women, their hair tied up with scarves, pick each leaf by hand, one by one, placing them in plastic baskets. The Jeolla area has the most optimal conditions to produce high quality green tea: annual rainfall of more than 60 inches, porous and permeable soil, cool weather and high humidity near rivers, lakes and seashores. Because of the higher elevations, a slower growth rate occurs, producing a higher quality of tea plant. All kinds of tea — green, black, white, oolong — come from the same plant. The type of tea that the leaves become are determined by fermentation and the oxidation processes. Green tea comes from leaves that are wilted but left unoxidized so the leaves retain their green color. Black tea leaves are oxidized and at the same time they are dried, causing their color to become darker, as tannins are released. Green tea is the most popular in Korea, and the people in the

Boseong area have incorporated the leaves into everything. They make beauty products with green tea, put green tea in their noodles, and even have hot springs where they soak in mineral waters infused with green tea. One of my favorite specialties of this region is nokdon samgyeopsal, sliced pork belly made from pigs who have dined on green tea leaves. It is delicious and personally I think it a nice thought knowing that the pig was fed well, too. Boseong is a small village, which seems untouched by the tourism. Coming into the city there is no grand entrance, it simply exists as every other city, yet it has this amazing view. I think for the Koreans in the area, it is their life and a common view that sometimes gets taken for granted. All year long tourists come and go. During wintertime they even put lights on the green tea field like a Christmas tree. If one travels to Korea, this is a must see sight worth the five hour bus ride!

Ahna Otterstad

Ahna Otterstad is a native from the Brainerd lakes area. She is currently an English professor at Daegu University in South Korea. Her passions include traveling and celebrating the art of living.

Winter 2013 | her voice


Her Voice Service Directory • Winter 2013 Appliances Schroeder’s Appliance

16603 St. Hwy 371 N Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-3624 www.schroeders


Financial continued

423 NW 7th Street Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 454-2887

320 South 6th St. Brainerd, MN 56401

Men’s Depot


Northern Family Chiropractic

13968 Cypress Dr. Suite 1B Baxter, MN 56425 218-822-3855


Chrysalis - skin care, injections, laser services

Assisted Living Excelsior Place

14211 Firewood Drive Baxter, MN 56425 (218) 828-4770

Good Neighbor Home Health Care (218) 829-9238 (888) 221-5785

Good Samaritan Society Communities of Brainerd and Pine River (218) 820-8975


Preferred Hearing

17274 State Hwy 371 Brainerd, MN 56401 1-800-458-0895 www.preferredhearing


Auto Import

22 Washington Street Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-3307

7760 Excelsior Rd N Baxter, MN 56425 (218) 824-3041

US Bank

(218) 828-5406


FitQuest Athletic Club

15480 Audubon Way, Baxter, MN 56425 (218) 829-6453

Glass/Windows Gull Lake Glass

18441 State Hwy 371 Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-2881 1-800-726-8445


Music General

416 South 7th Street Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-0076

Just For Kix

6948 Lake Forest Rd Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-7107


Arlean’s Drapery

Pequot Lakes, MN 56472 218-568-8280


Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union 13283 Isle Drive, Baxter, MN 56425 218-822-2444

Thrivent Financial

14391 Edgewood Dr., Suite 200 Baxter, MN 56425 (218) 297-0199


Cuyuna Regional Medical Center

320 East Main Street Crosby, MN 56441 (218) 546-7000 (888) 487-6437

Essentia Health

St. Joseph’s Medical Center 218-829-2861 Brainerd Clinic (218) 828-2880 Baxter Clinic (218) 828-2880

Lakewood Health System

Staples Motley Pillager Eagle Bend Browerville (218) 894-1515 (800) 525-1033


Winter 2013 | her voice

Her Voice Service Directory • Winter 2013 Insurance

Northridge Agency 123 N 1st St. Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-1166


Showplace Kitchens 15860 Audubon Way Baxter, MN 56425 (218) 8244228


Kinship Partners

804 Oak Street #201 Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-4606

Opticians continued Northern Eye Center Great Northern Opticians

Brainerd, Little Falls, Staples 218-829-2020 1-800-872-0005



7447 Clearwater Rd Baxter, MN 56425 (218) 824-0642

Rental/Supplies Rohlfing Inc.

923 Wright Street Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-0303

Advertising Opportunitiues To advertise in Her Voice magazine

Call one of our media consultants. (218) 829-4705


Lakes Imaging Center 2019 S. 6th Street Brainerd, MN 56401 218-822-OPEN (6736) 877-522-7222


Crosby Eye Clinic

Crosby, Baxter and Remer 21-800-952-3766

Lakes Area Eyecare

7734 Excelsior Rd N Baxter, MN 56425 218-829-2929 888-540-0202

Midwest Family Eye 7870 Excelsior Rd

Baxter, MN 56425 (218) 828-9545 201 1st St NE Staples, MN 56479 (218) 894-5480

Winter 2013 | her voice


healt h a n d w e l l n e ss

s e i r Memo

Story and photo by Marlene Chabot

Lost and Found

Lynda Converse writes about her husband’s battle with Alzheimers in wher book, “Our Journey Through Alzheimer’s Disease.”


While a father struggled mightily to keep his memories intact, his daughter scrambled to gather them up, bit by bit. “Our Journey Through Alzheimer’s Disease” is a compel compelling book about Merle Olander’s courageous battle with Alzheimer’s, from the very beginning to his last year on earth at the age of 83. His story is told by his eldest child, Lynda J. Olander Converse, Browerville. “Everyone is affected by the disease,” she said. Eight out of 10 people who attend the author’s book signings said they know a family member with Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association 5.2 million people are afflicted with the sixth leading cause of death. There’s no known cure at this time. Merle’s own Alzheimer’s journey lasted over 10 years. “But it wasn’t until his final year,” Lynda shared, “that I realized memories of his life should be preserved for future generations and I began to record them.” One day while watching his wife jot down yet another memory, husband Clint lightheartedly said she was writing a book that could be helpful to people. Lynda believes the comment was divinely inspired. “I had no book plans.” The author now says the book has become her ministry. Lynda’s father was a gentle, humble, hardworking man who kept himself busy with a variety of jobs throughout his life, several of


Winter 2013 | her voice

which were related to driving. “He loved to and he was hospitalized on his anniversary. Conversations with Lynda’s father work so much he actually retired three became more difficult too as each year times,” the author said. She and her family first suspected her dad passed. “He became argumentative about had a health problem when the 72-year-old the littlest thing.” Like most people conman explained why he thought he’d have to fronted with information that’s not true, quit driving truck. “I know how to get there, Lynda’s mother dealt with her husband’s I just can’t find it.” Everyone’s immediate false reality the only way she knew how, by concern was that Merle’s brain tumor had disagreeing with him. “I want to go home” returned after being removed 30 years ago, was a regular mantra Merle repeated again but test results confirmed that wasn’t the and again in the evening. The usual response case. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s can’t be that followed was, “You are home, Merle.” diagnosed overnight. By the time doctors Fortunately, for both it didn’t take long to discovered and prescribed medicines for discover the key to a peaceful evening. Merle’s problem, he was already in moder- Audrey took Merle for a short drive and ate stages of Alzheimer’s. Too late, Lynda then brought him back home. The hardest thing for most families is the feels, to slow the process. When a loved one is diagnosed with fact that as their loved one’s memory disapAlzheimer’s, many families use denial to pears so goes any memory they have had of cope with the news. The Olander family was them. Lynda said her father began to refer to no exception. Merle and his wife were both her as Audrey’s friend. It was strange, but she angry with the doctor who first confirmed accepted it. “I just needed to be there and the disease. “My mother didn’t want to know have those memories with him.” The only or think about what was happening to Dad family member Merle remembered till the and Dad refused to accept the fact that he end was his Uncle Beryl. Lynda thinks that’s could no longer drive.” The family never because they grew up together. Writing her book and getting it out there sought out a support group even though it probably would’ve been helpful. Lynda, for others has been a healing process for however, eventually attended presentations both Lynda and her mother. Audrey has on Alzheimer’s so she could help her mother already read her daughter’s book four times. “People who come to my book signings or understand what was happening. Alzheimer’s disease is different for every have contacted my mom share wonderful person. Some people wander off. Others get memories of Dad and also want to know angry when their immediate caregiver tries more about Alzheimer’s.” to socialize with anyone but them. “When my father turned 75,” Lynda said, Marlene “he didn’t understand why all the people Chabot were at their house even though my mother Marlene Chabot, a memAudrey had told him several times it was to ber of Sisters in Crime and celebrate his birthday.” As the disease pro- Great River Writers, and her gressed, Merle did more things that didn’t husband reside on a lovely make sense. He took the car keys out of lake in Fort Ripley. The writer has just completed her Audrey’s purse one day and drove off. fourth Minnesota-based “Before that, he never went in my mother’s mystery novel. When not purse.” In 2009, the night before and the day of their 62nd wedding anniversary Merle writing, she enjoys spending time with family and was so agitated he told his wife to get out of friends, biking, gardening, creating greeting cards and traveling. his house. The police were called both days

Her Voice Magazine - Winter 2013  

Dressing Up or Down for the Holidays: Want to wear something sassy for those holiday parties or are you a jeans and T-shirt girl? Jenny Holm...

Her Voice Magazine - Winter 2013  

Dressing Up or Down for the Holidays: Want to wear something sassy for those holiday parties or are you a jeans and T-shirt girl? Jenny Holm...