Page 1

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

The Lost Art of Canning PAGE 20

It’s All About the Magic PAGE 24

Silver Sneakers

Alexandra Clough

Creating Pieces that Move People PAGE 6


Pilgrimage to the Holy Land PAGE 42







Creating Pieces That Move People: Alexandra Clough

Homegrown Ali Clough leads a second generation of successful women in the family business. by Rebecca Flansburg



Kathy Ogden A Special Calling


Food Cycles


It’s All About Magic


Campassionate Caregiver


Pilgrimage to the Holy Land








A special education teacher, this consultant crosses school district borders, working with autism spectrum disorder. by Jill Anderson

How are food, politics and the environment connected to this cross-country bike tour? Read how a Brainerd woman connects the dots. by Tuula Rebhahn

Born of the chemistry between women and horses, two friends turned their shared passion into a collaborative horse training enterprise. by Georgianne Nienaber

Not just an oncology nurse, or supervisor, this woman volunteers in the community. by Kathleen Krueger

A Crow Wing County Commissioner brings to life images of Israel after her recent trip to the Holy Land. by Rachel Reabe Nystrom

In This Issue editorial



Who Me? by Meg Douglas



Lissie Nichols by Karen Ogdahl

the lite side P a s s i o n f o r Po r k by Jenny Holmes


Bowling Senior s By Joan Haskamp



Canning: Grandma’s Lost Ar t by Ar lene Jones The Danish Sisterhood by Susanne Hohlen

good reads

31 32

Lear ning By Discover y by Mar y Aalgaard


Games and Dames by Elsie Husom


clubs and clusters


schools 14

Finding Carlos by Dor is Stengel

A Psychic Surprise by Jill Bublitz I t ’ s N e v e r To o L a t e by Annie Andrews




20 28








Raining Cats and Dogs by Mar lene Cha bot Silver Sneaker s by Bettie Miller

Wild Bird Store/Little Far m Mar ket by Cynthia Bachman

On The Cover


Photo by Joey Halvorson. Alexandra Clough demonstrates her dancing prowess at the Just for Kix studio. Designer, choreographer and instructor, Ali’s involved in many aspects of the business started by her parents in 1981.



Read Online:

Fall 2013 | her voice


fro m t h e e d i t o r

Photo by Joey Halvorson

Who Me?

Staff Publisher Tim Bogenschutz Editor Meg Douglas Art Director Lisa Henry


photographer Joey Halvorson Copy Editor DeLynn Howard

Instructor Anita Travica (left) keeps it lively at the Brainerd Family YMCA.


When I first read Bettie Miller’s Silver Sneakers story on page 40 in this edition of Her Voice, I thought, how great for Bettie. She’s into her 80s, recovering from heart surgery and lucky to find an exercise program for older adults! Good for her, …but not for me. Never mind that I’m Medicare eligible, osteoarthritic and a cancer survivor. I’m active; I said to myself, I don’t need a class. Then a letter from my health care supplement arrived, extolling the virtues of Silver Sneakers with the added virtue that my supplement paid for the program. Always a sucker for a deal, I shifted into “maybe” mode. And when two friends, not one but two, suggested I give Silver Sneakers a try, the universe appeared to be sending me a message. At the Brainerd YMCA, the shiny wood floor and mirrored walls revealed a wide variety of adults — a man in a wheelchair, a woman in workout gear, all different sizes, shapes, defying an easy stereotype. A nice hum of conversation filled the air. These people like each other, I thought to myself. Spotted as a newbie by an observant instructor, I was fitted for appropriate weights and fit-band and eased into the routine. Like all the instructors, she was knowledgeable, personable and funny. Hey, not so bad, I said to myself. This day, country music produced a resounding beat and I couldn’t help but move along. Always active, I didn’t expect to be challenged by a Silver Sneakers class. Boy, was I wrong! At home, it’s easy to cheat on repetitions, but not in class, “How many do we want, eight more?” sings the instructor merrily, urging us into the burn. Some of the benefits have been unexpected. I thought I’d recovered from mastectomy surgery four years ago, but find the exercises have given me a new flexibility, openness and strength to my upper body, not to mention increased endurance. And if I didn’t know about the condition of my quads, hams and glutes before...I sure did after a class or two! On the other hand, there’s no rallying cry to compete with anyone but your self. Most of us have parts that don’t work efficiently — a bum knee, a tight hip or an aching back that needs protection. So we’re encouraged to adapt each exercise, as needed. “You’re in charge,” says the instructor over and over. A few weeks into classes, I encouraged a friend and recent stroke victim to join me in a Silver Sneakers Yoga class. As eager as I’ve always been to exercise, my friend has rarely demonstrated any enthusiasm for physical activity. But her stroke was a wake-up call — and now the two of us smile at the irony of standing (or sitting) side by side in the same exercise class!

HV Meg Douglas, Editor 4

Fall 2013 | her voice




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 TEN, edition Three Fall 2013

By Rebecca Flansburg Photos by Joey Halvorson

Alexandra Clough

One of her many responsibilities at Just for Kix, Ali Clough orders fabric for costumes to be worn in camps, competitions and catalogs.

Creating Pieces


That Move People

Alexandra Clough, or Ali as her get home until 9 p.m. “But I love it,” the 24-year-old Ali friends call her, is a blur of activity. shares. “The time flies and teaching dance A typical day for Ali involves coming to work at Just for Kix, a business her parents Cindy and Steve Clough founded in 1981, around 10 a.m. and delving immediately into the process of designing and patterning costumes and outfits for their Just For Kix international catalog, events, dance camps and competitions. Then, it’s on to teaching as many as five dance classes a day Monday through Friday. During dance team season many of Ali’s Saturdays are reserved for coaching the dance team with her mom and others. Depending on the season, there are many days that Ali doesn’t


Fall 2013 | her voice

is one of my favorite things to do.” Anyone who has lived and/or gone to school in the Brainerd lakes area is familiar with the super-dance team the Kixters. Founded in 1975, The Kixters are a highschool level competitive dance team that has won many state competitions. What many people don’t know is the Clough’s other company Just For Kix, currently located in the Baxter Industrial Park, is actually a separate business and one that didn’t come until a few years later. Back in the ‘80s, parents were constantly encouraging the Cloughs to “create dance programs for the younger kids.” After much thought

the Cloughs did just that and the day Cindy Clough revealed Just For Kix, 90 kids signed up. Today Just for Kix teaches dance camps and classes in multiple states such as North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. “Our Brainerd camps are the biggest,” shares Ali. “We teach around 800 students from all over Minnesota at each camp and our out-of-Minnesota camps usually have around 200 students in them.” Ali reveals that Just for Kix teaches a variety of dance styles from hip-hop to jazz and ballet. “I love all styles of dance for different reasons and choreography is another thing I enjoy doing.” As you would expect with someone who grew up in a family-owned business that

(Left) Ali demonstrates a hip-hop dance move to students from all over the country. (Right) Ali and oversees costume sewing.

Ali with her father, Steve Clough, owner of The Tee Hive.

involved dance and choreography, Ali is an accomplished dancer as well. “I’ve been dancing since I was 2 so I guess you can say it’s in my blood,” Ali offers. “I love dance in general and I love to create dance pieces that move people.” In 2011 the Cloughs were invited to be a part of the much publicized opportunity to design the costumes for the Super Bowl XLV half-time show. Ali not only assisted with the design of those costumes, she was asked to be a dancer in the show The BlackEyed Peas were headlining. That accomplishment was trumped in 2013 when Ali, mom Cindy and Brittney Schubert were 8

Fall 2013 | her voice

asked back to do design and perform in Super Bowl XLVII with Beyoncé Knowles. “It was such a wonderful experience,” Ali shares, her eyes shining with pride. “Beyoncé and her team were down-toearth and treated us like we were part of the show.” Design is another aspect of the business in which Ali takes great pride and as one would expect, it’s complex. The process begins with one of Ali’s hand-drawn sketches or rough draft from an illustrator on the computer. Next, Ali creates the pattern, and depending on the design of the costume, this can take anywhere from a few minutes to five hours. Once created, the pattern is sent to the manufacturing facility, a 30,000-square foot building across the street from the main Just for Kix building. There, the staff of nine (and four sub-contractors) cut and sew the patterned pieces together. The manufacturing facility also houses their recently acquired business, The Tee Hive, which specializes in imprint and logo clothing. “Our sample sewer is Jeanette Bundy and she is someone who I work very closely with on a day-to-day basis,” Ali shares. “She is the one who sews the first sample and she gives me feedback on what does and doesn’t work.” Once the sample has been approved, it’s on to “grading,” — revising the pattern so it can be made in every size. “Grading is probably my least favorite part of my job, “Ali admits. “It can be very frustrating and

it isn’t too exciting.” The next step is something Ali calls “the short run” where the nearly complete costume is sewn in several sizes to make sure the sizing will work across the board. This whole process can happen within a week or it could take three or four weeks depending on how busy each department is at that moment. The final step is to squeeze in “fit sessions” where volunteers test the exact measurement of the various sizes and also try the samples on. “It’s tedious and exciting all at the same time,” Ali adds with a smile. As much as Ali loves dance and design, her heart is in teaching as well. “I love watching the young girls I teach strive to learn something new and I relish the ‘ah-ha’ moments when it all finally clicks. The kids I teach are so talented and have so much to give. Because of that, I have high expectations of them. I have those expectations because I know what they can achieve.” Ali also shares that she finds great strength and satisfaction in the fact she can continually improve as a teacher every year. “I like that I can look back on class sessions once they end and look for areas I can improve upon before the next session. I feel I have been given a gift of being able to be a stronger teacher every year. I don’t think I could ever not teach.” Ali pulls her teaching inspiration from her mom Cindy. “My mom is amazing,” Ali shares with a smile. “She is so motivated and driven. She is always so busy and a ball of energy. I love to watch her teach and

She can do it all: Ali trains intern and former Kixter, Jordynn Beckman, now studying design at Stout State (left); and applies makeup on Amy Shepherd for a catalog photo shoot.

coach because she is such a strong teacher. On top of that she’s “Super Grandma” to her four grandkids. She is such a role model for me.” So what does this ultra-busy 24-year-old do for fun? “I am a surprising homebody!” Ali says with a laugh. “I think it’s because I work such long hours most days I really enjoy just being in my home and working on DIY projects for fun.” Ali also enjoys time with her new puppy, Rocko, a Miniature Australian Shepherd. When I asked Ali to share some of her teaching wisdom she paused, thought a moment and shared this: “Everything you say to kids has such a big impact on them whether you are aware of it or not,” Ali said. “Positive comments and encouragement go a long way with them and I strive to be a positive influence when we are in class together.”

A lexandra Clough is a blur of activity.

Rebecca Flansburg

Rebecca Flansburg is a blogger and writer who lives in Baxter, Minn. Rebecca is a full-time virtual assistant in the field of writing, blogging and social media and her tagline is “working behind the scenes to help you SHINE.” Rebecca blogs on her own blog Franticmommy. com and is a frequent contributor to Her Voice Magazine. Rebecca is wife to Paul and mom to Jake (10) and Sara (7).

Fall 2013 | her voice


tea c h e r s


Lissie Nichols

Growing up in Minnesota, Lissie Jacobsen Nichols fit right in. But fly her almost 8,000 miles from home, and tall, slender, blue-eyed Lissie definitely stands out in a crowd. A Brainerd native, Lissie made that long trip with her husband, Brandon, in 2011, having secured teaching jobs in Baguio, Philippines. They knew it would be an adventure when the 150 miles from Manila to Baguio, which is 5,000 feet above sea level, took eight hours. The roads were winding and narrow and the last leg of the trip was nearly vertical. Their destination was Brent International School, a private school of about 250 students, mostly Korean and Filipino. Lissie teaches International Baccalaureate math, while Brandon teaches middle school English. The campus resembles a college campus with grassy areas surrounded by trees and tropical vegetation. Classes are taught in English and technology is in abundant supply. Student entrance is based on recommendations, and academic standards are high. “These kids are the high fliers,”Lissie said. “They are extremely motivated. Everyone does homework, and there are very few behavior issues. This is a private school, and if there are problems, students can be asked to leave.” Along with the academic rigor comes pressure – both parental and self-imposed. “I’ve had parents come to me and ask, ‘Why is my child only getting 94%?’ I assured them that the child had a good grade, but they wanted to know what else the child could do to improve,” Lissie said. “Students want to be Number One. A lot of our high school kids only sleep a couple hours a night. In addition to homework, they study for college entrance exams and the English proficiency exam, which will allow them to get into American universities. Nearly all my Korean students spend the summers going to SAT school. Even first graders may go to math or English school over the summer,” Lissie said.


Fall 2013 | her voice

By Karen Ogdahl Photo by Joey Halvorson

The Nichols love the smaller, family atmosphere of Brent. “We hang out with our students. For American teachers, that would be unusual, but it’s very natural here. We play soccer with them and have them over to our house for game night. We went into teaching to have relationships with our students, and it’s so much easier to do that here,” Brandon said. Initially, life in Baguio was a bit of a culture shock. The couple share their apartment on campus with their cat, Camo, and a few cockroaches and geckos, which Camo find both entertaining and

Brainerd native Lissie Nichols teaches school in Banguio, Phillipines.

delicious. The transportation system also offered some challenges at first. Baguio has a population of about 400,000 people, but Lissie and Brandon believe it may be smaller in area than Brainerd, making for crowded conditions. The streets hum with bicycles, mopeds and cars. “To reduce crowding, each car owner is assigned one day when they may not drive. I think there’s one stoplight, but people mostly drive where they want,” Lissie said. Then there are the jeepneys, World War II jeeps, which have been modified to

have two rows of benches behind the front seats. They seat about 20 people. “People just cram in, and when there’s no more room they hang on the back or climb on the roof. I’ve never been on the roof! A sign tells the starting point and destination, but you don’t’ always know the route,” Lissie said. With only one large grocery store, shopping can be time-consuming. The wait at the checkout line runs 20-30 minutes. Lissie and Brandon also use the smaller markets. “Those take time, too,” Lissie said. “There is a lot of bargaining, which is hard for us with our Minnesota nice background.” There’s also the celebrity factor. “Being blonde gets a lot of attention, but we’re also taller than the Filipinos, so we both stick out like crazy,”Lissie said.“Sometimes people come up to us and want to chat. They often want to have their pictures taken with us. For us, it’s kind of cool, but you realize how awful it would be if you were a real celebrity. Another challenge is clothing. I can’t find clothes or shoes in my size. Our favorite store is a surplus store because it sells American clothing – in American sizes.” For Brandon and Lissie, these challenges do not outweigh the joys of living and working in the Philippines. Brandon, who was initially nervous about the move, summed it up, “I’m so glad we did this. Even though an experience may be stressful at first, you have to put yourself out there. There is so much more in the world.” Brandon and Lissie will explore more of the world this fall as they move to another international school, Discovery College in Hong Kong.

Karen Ogdahl

Karen Ogdahl of Baxter is a retired teacher, community volunteer and arts enthusiast.

Fall 2013 | her voice


By Jenny Holmes Photos by Joey Halvorson

the l i t e s i d e

Passion for



There are people who like bacon. And then, there’s Murphy Hill. This 11-year-old Brainerd girl truly has a passion for pork.

According to mom, Stacy (Hoff) Hill, Murphy’s love affair began when she was in second grade. “I don’t remember, specifically, what it was. I think it was like ‘what do you want for dinner,’ and she would always say ‘BLTs’ or ‘something with bacon,’” Stacy recalled. “And it just grew from there.” Murphy’s first piece of bacon memorabilia was a t-shirt that said ‘I (heart symbol)’ and a blank to fill with a felt pen. Murphy’s pick? “Bacon,” the 11-year-old said, matterof-factly. For Halloween, the following year in third grade, Murphy was a bacon superhero. Mom created the, undoubtedly, one-of-akind costume with a cape fashioned like a slab of bacon and a large “B” on the chest. Today, Murphy’s second-floor bedroom is adorned with all things bacon. From the bacon decals on her ceiling fan blades down to the bacon-shaped rug on her floor, there’s

no doubt this girl takes her bacon very seriously. There are also blankets with bacon, decorative hanging bacon lights, bacon t-shirts and bacon socks, a bacon wristwatch, a pig that – get this – is bacon-scented. “Smell my pig,” she offers as she passes over a stuffed pig that, certainly, lives up to the hype. Then there’s the large bacon replica hanging on the wall, made by Murphy from recycled items; which earned her a blue ribbon at the Crow Wing County Fair. There’s also bacon-flavored lip balm, bacon-scented bandages, a bacon calendar, bacon soap, a bacon tie, bacon-flavored toothpicks, pictures of bacon in various forms, and even a chalkboard with a hand drawing of three items pulled from the Periodic Table of Elements – Barium (Ba), Cobalt (Co) and Nitrogen (N) – showing this bacon-obsessed girl is also a smart little cookie. “Well I like bacon, too,” says older brother Mason, “but not as much as she does. It scares me a little bit.” “It’s very delicious,” Murphy says unapologetically. “I don’t eat it every day, but I wish I could.” For the readers out there whose cholesterol is rising just thinking about bacon,

Stacy emphasizes that she limits her daughter’s bacon consumption to twice, or so, a week. “I think it’s kind of fun, beside the health aspect,” Stacy said of her daughter’s bacon adoration. “We definitely keep it under reign. It’s just fun because she has such a specific thing she’s into. And it’s fun to find gifts surrounding bacon. She’ll get gifts for no particular reason, just because someone found something cute with bacon on it. It’s like ‘oh, I thought of you Murphy when I saw the bacon soap!’” Beside the penchant for decorating with all things bacon, Murphy also loves the product itself when she’s allowed to have it. And if you think she considers bacon simply as a side, you’d be wrong. “I like to add bacon to a milkshake or have bacon in my ice cream,” Murphy says with a smile. “I’ve made cupcakes with

Murphy Hill


Fall 2013 | her voice

maple frosting and bacon crumbled on the top. And for my birthday, I made chocolate covered bacon,” an idea she gleaned from the Minnesota State Fair. However strong her love for bacon, Murphy said there is one exception: turkey bacon. “I thought it tasted like dog food,” she said. So, what lies in Murphy Hill’s future besides a stint as a spokesperson for the National Pork Board? She is undecided as of now, but does want to get pigs of her own someday. Her mom also suggested she find out how old actor Kevin Bacon’s sons are and possibly marry into the last name. “Or, I could legally change it,” Murphy countered. Stacy concedes the family goes through about four to six pounds of bacon each month, but it’s typically good, old-fashioned, straight from the grocery store bacon. However, she has considered buying into the Bacon of the Month Club for the family, just for fun. “I just like everything about bacon,” Murphy says from her bedroom-turned-bacon-shrine. “Except that it’s unhealthy. I wish it was more like carrots so I could have it every day.”

This ceiling fan is part of the bedroomturned-bacon shrine.

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.

Fall 2013 | her voice


stu d e n t s

By Doris Stengel

Finding Carlos Overlooking La Paz, Bolivia with the mountain Illimani hovering over the clouds. Early morning, July 4, 2012.

First reunion photo overlooking La Paz, July 4, 2012. L to R: Carlos Dellien, Doris Stengel, Randy Stengel, Arnold ‘Casey’ Stengel, Wendy (Stengel) Cerna, Karen Stengel (wife of Randy), Shawn Stengel.

The Women of Lapaz The native women of LaPaz, Bolivia, step right out of our 1965 World Book Encyclopedia. At first we think they are in costume, but then realize these are simply their clothes. These are cholas who choose to wear tradition. They walk wide in triple-tiered skirts worn over multiple petticoats. In this July winter they don shawls, called mantas, drape blankets over their shoulders. Some wear handknit caps, but more often than not, perched on their heads, are those black or brown bowler hats. Hats that provide no warmth, no shade, balanced atop tightly braided hair, no clip nor hairpin holding them on. Slung across their backs the ahuaya, a brightly colored, hand woven cloth, serves as a tote bag that carries everything— laundry, groceries, crates, babies— the babies perched on top. This distinctive hot pink, aqua, green and white-striped cloth, their own design, not for sale in any shop. There are indigenous women elsewhere, but only here on the high plains, in this thin air, do we see these clothes, as these women carry their history into the 21st Century.

Doris Stengel


Fall 2013 | her voice


“We’ve found Carlos!” This news flashed up on my Facebook page in the spring of 2012. Carlos Dellien had been an AFS (foreign student) in our home for the school year of 1974-75. He departed in June of 1975 and we had not been in touch since. When Carlos lived with us we had three teenagers: Randy, a senior at BHS; Shawn, a sophomore; and Wendy, an eighth grader at Washington School. My husband, Arnold “Casey” was a school counselor, I a substitute teacher. This was our first experience as a host family. Four years later we hosted Beatrice Osae from Ghana, Africa. I worried when Carlos’ papers stated, “My mother keeps the house perfectly clean, even when she is sick.” Our house with three teens was generally less-than neat. However, I said, “The boy is coming here for an education. He may as well see how Americans live.” Weeks later, Carlos talked about ‘the cook’ and ‘the housekeeper.’ “What does your mother do?” In his charming accent he replied, “She folds the clothes and puts them in the drawer.” I heaved a sigh of relief. It was son Shawn, in Chicago, who found Carlos and said that “he wants us to come and see his country. We should all go this summer,” This seemed to be too soon, too overwhelming. “But Dad and I won’t be younger next year, will we?” We needed passports, Bolivian visas, inoculations and a letter of invitation from Carlos. He promised to “be always with us “and that we “would leave the country as scheduled.” Daughter Wendy lives in Seattle; Randy and his wife, Karen, and Casey and I live in Minnesota. All of us met in Chicago and flew via Miami to Bolivia. At dawn we landed on the Altiplanno at an altitude of over two miles above the city of LaPaz. It was July 4 and winter in South America. Summer would be too hot, too rainy, too buggy in Carlos’ city, Trinidad, in the Amazon Basin. We spent our first three days on these high plains with the Andes as a backdrop. Here we saw native women dressed as though they had stepped out of our 1965 World Book. They wore tiered skirts over multiple petticoats and those

Family picture in Carlos’s office at the Hotel Campanario (owned by Carlos and his brothers) in Trinidad, Beni, Bolivia. Back row, L to R: Randy and Karen Stengel, Roxana Pedro (Carlos’s wife), Casey and Doris Stengel, Wendy Cerna and Shawn Stengel. Front row, L to R: Ana Lucia Dellien (Carlos’s youngest daughter), Carlos Dellien, Stephanie Dellien (Carlos’s oldest daughter).

bowler hats perched atop their braids. Slung on their shoulders were colorful shawls that carried groceries, crates and babies on top. Carlos hired two nice taxis that were at our disposal day and night. Thus we traveled in LaPaz and on side trips. Our first trip was to the ruins at Tiwanaku — ruins only unearthed in the last 50 years but pre-dating both the Inca and Mayan civilizations. We saw huge, flat-faced statues and a museum displaying vases, weapons and irrigation plans. The next day we were driven to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. The water is navy blue and stretches 100 miles. Part of the lake lies in Peru. Our boat ride included a stop at an artificial island where we netted large trout which were then prepared for our dinner. After three days at high altitude, we flew across the Andes to Trinidad, 3,500 meters lower. It is a city of thousands of motor scooters, flatter terrain and more tropical. Here we met Carlos’ wife, Roxana, and daughters, Stephanie and Anna Lucia. At a welcoming dinner we met his two sisters and husbands — both sisters, his wife and one son had been AFS students in the U.S. Carlos’ home is surrounded by brick walls with a locked iron gate. Inside four

large dogs patrol the grounds at night. Carlos told us, “Their job is to bark. If there is a problem I will take care of it.” Two cats were there to kill the snakes. The pace here was leisurely — an outing on the Ibarra River, tributary of the Amazon, where we spotted parrots, monkeys and pink dolphins, siestas in colorful hammocks, visiting the hotel Carlos owns, watching sloths in trees in the city plaza, observing a night time cattle auction and the brilliance of southern hemisphere stars. Too soon it was time to travel to our last city, Santa Cruz, where Carlos’ two sons live, also his father, who retired as president of the national court, a position similar to our chief justice. We spent an evening at his apartment and he gifted us with a cow hide helmet adorned with ribbons and feathers. It was given to him by the Tarabuco Indians. We worried about getting it through customs but the judge said, “No problema.” I think it helped that I buried it under Casey’s dirty socks and underwear. We saw no other tourists. Drivers were crazy, roads poor. We drank only bottled water and put toilet paper in a basket, not in the stool. We never felt in danger. It was a trip of a lifetime.

Doris Stengel

Doris Lueth Stengel has been a resident of Brainerd for 50 years. An English major, she was a fill-in teacher at BHS. A member of Heartland Poets she has served poetry organizations as president on the local, state and national level. A Minnesota Arts Grant resulted in publication of her poetry book “Small Town Lines” by Finishing Line Press in 2012.

Fall 2013 | her voice


By Jill Anderson Photos by Joey Halvorson

Kathy Ogden works with teachers, students and parents as an autism consultant through the Paul Bunyan Co-op.

A Special Calling Kathy Ogden


Some people stay with their job for its perks: a plush office, cushy hours, worldwide traveling, or maybe it’s the prestige that goes with the job. And sometimes people stay simply because the job pulses in their veins 24/7, taking over their heart. That would be the case with Kathy Ogden, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) consultant through the Paul Bunyan Co-op. Long days, cramped quarters and being pulled in 20 directions don’t seem to deter Kathy from the job she was clearly meant to do. Working with children with multiple needs, the coop staff is often asked to move in multiple directions. Currently her days are filled with classroom visits to observe children and take notes, home visits and working with parents and teachers of children with autism. Kathy also facilitates a parent support group providing education relevant to ASD. Her plans for each day often change, depending on the needs of each child or program. Kathy helps the educational team


decide whether or not to go ahead with an assessment, which may result in an ASD diagnosis for the children. Referrals often come from area physicians. During college, Kathy had the opportunity to work at a campus lab school with some unique and challenging children in a physical education setting. Originally double majoring in PE and special education, one of Kathy’s jobs was to help adapt activities for these children while maintaining their dignity. One boy with muscular dystrophy was losing his motor skills. “After seeing his two brothers die from the same disability, he knew his time was limited. He just wanted my help, not my pity.” Kathy said. “Helping him cemented my decision to focus on special ed.” The year before Kathy started teaching in 1976, President Gerald Ford signed into law the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. This law stressed “a free, appropriate public education for every child between the ages of 3 and 21, regardless of

A service, training, and research program for individuals of all ages and skill levels

how seriously he/she may be handicapped.” For the first time, a law clearly defined the rights of disabled children to free appropriate public education. Hired through the Brainerd School District, Kathy taught children who were deaf, blind and physically and mentally handicapped. Her first classroom was on the grounds of the former Regional Human Services Center. When asked about the biggest changes she’s seen over the past 30-plus years Kathy says, “People seeing a person with special needs versus a disabled person.” After years of teaching special education, Kathy switched gears and started working with ASD while also teaching for the school district. She began consulting part-time in 1997, then full-time in 2000. Previously her position as ASD consultant covered all the coop and at one time also Freshwater Education Cooperative. Kathy now primarily covers the Aitkin, Crosby and Crosslake areas and parts of the Brainerd district. There is also an increasing presence in the

The Autism Society of Minnesota ( is a parent started and parent run organization • • 1-888693-GROW (4769) 16

Fall 2013 | her voice

early childhood area as research clearly indicates that the earlier intervention is started, the better the outcome. I asked what changes she’d like to see made in the future for special education and specifically for autism. “I’m concerned about bullying and its profound impact, especially kids on the autism spectrum. In the general adolescent population, roughly 10 percent of children have been bullied. A recent study indicated that 46 percent of middle and high-school students with autism disorder have been bullied.” Another concern as they become adults is the high unemployment rate for people on the autism spectrum. One of the focuses on the teenagers is to establish the areas they excel. Most show strength in certain aspects of memory, visual perception or other talents. Her background in PE has come in handy in ways Kathy hadn’t planned, especially in helping her understand the human body and how it works. It’s also put the value of activity and motion into perspective. During the summer months, Kathy runs the Communication And Socialization Training (CAST) programs, through the co-op for children ages 2-10 with communication and socialization needs. Children from across the co-op area are eligible to attend. “This is the fun time of year for me. I enjoy interacting with the children, getting to know each child’s personality, and I like the challenge of the ‘on the spot’ thinking. We enjoy watching their changes and growth.” Working with a terrific staff, they rely on each other. Kathy smiles as she talks about one of her summer students, our grandchild, Wyatt Paulson, and of the leaps and bounds we’ve seen him accomplish over the past few years. “Most people don’t understand how children with autism look at the world. They like routine, and their way of adapting to any change is similar to the rest of us, and how we perceive things will be in any given situation.” “If you were going out to eat, you’d have a certain expectation about the environment, depending where you planned to dine. If you planned on meeting some friends at McDonalds, you would dress accordingly. Then, if your friends changed the plans and decided on the restaurant part of Black Bear, the emotional adjustment of what you had expected your lunch environment to be would maybe make you uncomfortable that you’re wearing old jeans and a T-shirt. But you’d adjust.” For a child with autism, if someone changes their routine, changes

their perception of what will happen next, that’s when a meltdown might occur, and that’s where patience comes in. Children with autism like boundaries and structured schedules, not change. Because most children on the spectrum are visual learners, using visuals provides a means to make change more comfortable. “We learn to mix it up slowly for them, teaching them flexibility.” Kathy explains. “Making very small changes in their daily routine so they can adapt and adjust to something that is not always going to be exactly how it was the day before. It’s about those little changes that can eventually make a big difference in their lives.” I asked if she’s noticed a change in society’s view toward the children she’s taught over the years. “Society is gaining acceptance, moving now toward respecting the uniqueness and tapping into the talents,” said Kathy. And what could be improved in the development and help for autism? “We need better local resources,” Kathy replied. “More communication between providers, and more accessible trained and experienced ‘problem-solvers’ working with families in home.” I asked Kathy how she unwinds after a

day full of challenges. “I enjoy my time with family and our pets, and use music as a way to help me refocus or re-energize.” And her energy is appreciated every single day by the students and parents who benefit from Kathy’s knowledge, understanding, and compassion. Every step might appear small, but the changes made from those steps are great accomplishments.

Jill Anderson

Jill Anderson lives and works in Emily, loves the outdoors, and finds there’s not enough hours in the day for all the writing she wants to do. Visit her website at or follow her on Facebook under Jill Hannah Anderson.

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rec r e a t i o n

Story and photos by Joan Hasskamp



Hazel Zauhar loves to bowl. For over 50 years Hazel has been an avid league bowler and at age 91, she has no plans to retire anytime soon. On Thursday mornings the Ironton resident looks forward to joining her teammates at Cuyuna Lanes in Crosby for Women’s League. Hazel says the league is very enjoyable for her because it blends bowling and socialization. She especially enjoys the generational aspect that league bowling provides. “I’ve met so many


Fall 2013 | her voice

At age 91, Hazel Zauhar still bowls in a weekly league in Crosby.

younger people through bowling I’d never meet otherwise,” she adds. It was over 50 years ago when the Brainerd native and her husband Emil first joined a mixed doubles bowling league in Ironton. At the same time Hazel joined several women’s leagues. At her peak Hazel was bowling four days a week. When Emil died, Hazel continued to bowl because it provided an outlet to be with people and have fun. Hazel still sports a very respectable 130

seniors average. She says her average was 119 when she started bowling. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a better bowler,” she says with a chuckle. She recalls her highest game was a 235 and her highest series a 523 (three games total.) While she uses a ball that’s two pounds lighter than she rolled in her prime, she hasn’t conceded much to age. The biggest adjustment has been in the amount she bowls. While she would still love to bowl four days a week, she now limits herself to Thursdays only.

she received a pin from the Minnesota State USBC Association in recognition of her 55 years of attendance. At 79, Joyce has no intention of stopping anytime soon. “I will never quit bowling. My daughters would never allow it,” she says with a chuckle. “Plus I enjoy it too much to quit.” Joyce and her three daughters all belong to Wednesday Night Women’s League at Cuyuna Lanes in Crosby. While they don’t all team together on Wednesday nights, they do join together as a team called Bits and Pieces and participate in the state bowling tournament every year. Through the years Joyce has belonged to leagues in Minneapolis, Babbitt, Brainerd and Crosby. She was a member of the 600 club when she bowled in Minneapolis which signifies she rolled a series in the 600s. Due to the high level of Joyce Rademacher, a teammate of skill required, very few women achieve Hazel’s, has bowled in the Women’s entry into the 600 club. Her highest averState Bowling Tournament for 57 years. age was 181 but as she’s aged, her average has lowered a bit. One of her concessions The socialization aspect of the sport has to age is that’s she’s switched from a always been important to the mother of 16-pound ball to an 11 pounder. three and grandmother of five. For many Joyce has been a league member for years her entire over 30 years at team stopped at Cuyuna Lanes, her house after a received a plaque in night of bowling recognition of her to share coffee ~ Hazel Zauhar many years of parand laughs. Even ticipation and, like today, several of her current and former Hazel, loves the socialization aspect of teammates often stop for a cup of tea and league bowling, including the younger conversation. bowlers. In fact, her nickname at bowling is Hazel is the oldest bowler in any of the “Grandma” or “Ma.” Many of the younger leagues at Cuyuna Lanes. Several years bowlers look forward to a weekly hug ago, Nancy Northburg, the owner, pre- from “Grandma.” sented Hazel with a plaque that recogRecently Joyce was asked to donate her nized her for her many years of participa- trophies to an organization which she tion. Hazel proudly displays many bowling gladly did. Bowling isn’t so much about trophies and awards in her home. While trophies or winning or losing anymore. It’s she appreciates the mementos, Hazel says more about spending time with her daughthe people are really what make bowling ters and her many friends in the league. To special and what keep her coming back Joyce bowling represents fun times with year after year. In fact, she cherishes a pic- family and friends. ture book she composed of all the people Bowling truly is a she’s bowled with during her 50 years in sport that can be league. “I love everybody,” she says. enjoyed by old and When the days shorten and the fall col- young alike. Just ask ors appear, the Crosby bowling leagues Hazel and Joyce. As will spring to life. Hazel has every inten- Hazel says, “You’re tion of joining her teammates at Cuyuna never too old to bowl!” Lanes at 9 a.m. Thursday mornings. “I plan to be back next season,” she says. “I still love to bowl.” Joyce Racemacher started bowling 60 Joan Hasskamp years ago. The Outing resident has been a Joan Hasskamp is a member of the fixture at the Women’s State Bowling Wednesday Night Women’s bowling league in Tournament for 57 years. Two years ago Crosby. She considers herself a young member!

“I still love to bowl.”

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foo d

Story and photos by Arlene Jones

Canning: Grandma’s Lost Art


When you hear the deep and booming voice of folk musician Greg Brown on “Canned Goods,” you know the line “Taste a little of the summer, Grandma put it all in jars” is born from a deep- seated childhood memory. On my highest shelf, I display what is probably one of the last canned foods from my Grandma’s hands. In her handwriting, it proudly states “Dill Zucchini Pickles 1984.”

Preserving food has permeated every culture during every time. Social scientists believe that “putting up” food was not just for sustenance, but also for many cultural reasons, pointing to numerous preserved foods that have long represented spiritual or celebratory meanings. Canning was pioneered in the 1790s when Frenchman Nicholas Appert discovered that if sealing wine in glass preserves it, why wouldn’t it work for food? The pressure canner was later patented in 1851. Whether you hot water bath, pressure cook, freeze, dehydrate or ferment, preservation of foods is on the rise. Today, many people preserve foods not because they have to in order to sustain themselves, but because they want to. Our grandparents put up food because they had to. They didn’t have access to chain grocery stores, reliable transportation or refrigeration. And, they couldn’t afford not to. Their value system began with “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” There are many reasons people can today: quality and taste, sentiment and connection, health, necessity and values. Preserving is also seen as an extension of a commitment to living locally and supporting farmers. Sales of canning equipment have consistently risen over the last five years with sales of canning jars up 35 percent from 2008.


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When asked what is the most rewarding component of home canning, Brenda Cooper says, “Getting a new jar of salsa or jam out in the dead of winter when its 30 below!” Brenda, a lifelong St. Mathias resident, started canning when she was in her early 20s. Having just started a family, she worked in the kitchen with her mother and grandma. “My grandma would have 200 jars tucked under her bed because that was the only place she had to store them. I grow a garden so I have can have the items to put up. I like the taste of my garden in the winter. I also love to give away things that I’ve canned or frozen for gifts,” says Brenda. “When I am in the kitchen, I feel that my mom and grandma are there with me. I am carrying on a family tradition. They would be proud of me.” As a grower of bulk produce, I see that the art of canning is being revitalized. From tomatoes and pickles to beans and beets, the demand for locally grown bulk items is also an upward trend. It is clear that as we consciously take greater responsibility for our food systems and expand efforts to stretch our food dollars along with summer’s bounty into the winter, many more folks are canning items while they are at peak in our short Minnesota season. Additionally, there are just as many men who have revived the art of canning. Erik Sjoberg of rural Brainerd recounts that his first memories of collecting food for preservation was carrying five-gallon buckets of tart apples from his neighbor to his grandma’s house to make into jelly. “I started canning in my early 20s when my wife

was in medical/grad school with equipment I found at a garage sale.” For Erik, it was a way to seed activity using food, mainly canning salsas for student get-togethers. Today, Erik cans because of the pleasure of experimentation, introducing new and colorful recipes to his sons and developing new creations. “It’s always fun to try a new recipe in the middle of winter using the summer’s produce.” Upfront costs include canning jars, lids, large pots and pressure cookers, utensils and a great how-to guide. It is also not without many hours of toiling over boiling jams and jellies, salsas and sauces that the work comes to fruition. On many summer evenings, my kitchen is full of the flavors of berries and tomatoes while summer slowly slips away. My reward? A pantry full of culinary trophies from summer’s bounty! Greg Brown was onto something when he wrote about Grandma in “Canned Goods.” As the lyrics go…“and I really got to go see her (Grandma) pretty soon. Cause the canned goods that I buy at the store ain’t got the summer in ‘em anymore.” Erik says, “It’s nice to look at all the wonderful colors in the jars in the winter. It reminds me of the jars and jars of canned cherries my grandma used to make.” My grandma’s zucchini pickles are still sealed. I proudly display them.

Arlene Jones

Arlene Jones is a fifth-generation farmer who owns and operates The Farm on St. Mathias with her husband., Bob. When not farming, she spends time with her children and grandchildren, traveling, reading and genealogy.

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s e l c y C Food

By Tuula Rebhahn

Tuula Rebahn (left) and Hannah Cooper.

Brainerd native Hannah Cooper and I, her partner, bicycled 6,000 miles to spread the word about eating locally and living fully. Any good cook knows that the best dishes are those that develop their flavors slowly.


Food Cycles Bicycle Tour was not a meal that came pre-packaged — it simmered slowly in the mind of one woman and then two, withstood the temptations of creature comforts and grew stronger than the limitations of post-recession budgets. Finally, in the spring of 2013, Hannah and I set that steaming dish upon the table. Cycling across the country was not an idea I would have come up with on my own and my partner Hannah Cooper hadn’t thought of it either back in 2006, a year after she graduated Brainerd High School, when a school acquaintance got on his bike and rode from Seattle to New York. “That totally changed my ideas about bicycling,” Hannah says. “I just hadn’t thought about the fact that the average person could actually travel across the country without needing a car, train or any other form of transportation.” From that point on, she knew she wanted to undertake a similar adventure. Lance Armstrong had the wide-open deserts of Texas over which to fledge his cycling legs, and, from the age of 8 when her


Fall 2013 | her voice

parents moved from Brainerd to St. Mathias, Hannah had the flat country roads that stretched between her house and “town.” Ignoring her parents’ pleas to drive the car, Hannah rode the seven miles to Brainerd, to school, work, or just to hang out, several times a week. While earning her associate degree at Central Lakes College, Hannah began working for The Farm on St. Mathias, conveniently located just across the road from her parents’ house. All of the energy and passion that went into cycling she now poured into learning about how food is grown and how an organic farm business is sustained. She also forged strong and inspirational friendships with farm owners Arlene and Bob Jones. In a culture obsessed with all that is instant, immediate and new, organic farming is a throwback to a way of life that is slower but has deeper rewards. Slow food, made from scratch with ingredients that have real names, is the antidote to fast food — it tastes better, it’s better for you, and comes without extra costs to the land and animal welfare, or

the workers who grow and harvest it. In 2009, Hannah took a leap and moved to the west coast, a place where the local and organic food movements took root decades ago. In Lincoln City, Ore., she found a job on a crab fishing boat. I joined the crew a few weeks later, fresh from an organic farming apprenticeship in British Columbia. The frozen sardines flew as we rode the storms of seasickness, a hot-tempered captain and our own strange and unpredictable feelings toward each other. Finally, we figured things out, left the boat, and eventually settled in Eugene, a vibrant college town in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The crab-fishing chapter of this story is a vital one — not only did it forge our partnership, it also gave us a sense of where the limits of our endurance lay, and of the grueling and dangerous work that goes into harvesting food from the sea. I think that was the moment when we shifted from simply working in the farming and food industries to wanting to be a voice for those who sacrifice health and wealth to put dinner on the table.

Life in Eugene swiftly became domesticated, with “normal” jobs and a comfortable routine. We realized that if we were to do this bike trip, we would have to do it soon, before careers and other responsibilities made it impossible to simply take off for a few months. Although Hannah wanted to take the ride without any fanfare, I pointed out that by organizing our trip around our food mission, we could mobilize and connect people while getting more out of the experience than simply a physical challenge. Instead of just pedaling along, we decided, we would take advantage of our unique perspective, atop a bicycle saddle, to explore and inspire the local, “slow” food movement that has been a guiding force in our own lives. Food Cycles Bicycle Tour was born and The Farm on St. Mathias was our first sponsor. Dozens of friends and acquaintances donated and put us in touch with others along our chosen route: down the Pacific coast to San Diego, across the southern states to Florida, then up the eastern seaboard to Boston. Plans came together quickly and we started our journey from Lincoln City, the place where Hannah landed on that first fateful trip out west, on Dec. 5, 2012. Slowly, we rode, at a pace of 60 miles a day, 10 miles per hour. Slowly, we prepared our meals with a camp stove and tiny pots. Slowly, we watched fields of crops and deserts of concrete and sand pass us by. One by one, we connected with strangers, discovering that food has a place in the heart and history of every person and place we encountered. Gradually, we learned that despite the many problems connected to the way most of our food is grown and transported, there are many reasons for hope. Six months and 6,000 miles later, Hannah and an ecstatic group of friends and family gathered around a bonfire at The Farm on St. Mathias. From Boston, she’d caught a train to Minnesota to stop for a few days before coming back to Oregon. Although I had to return home 600 miles short of the goal for family reasons, I could easily catch the spirit of the Minnesota gang over the phone when Hannah called. In the fertile soil of those minds — cyclists, farmers, teachers, artists, entrepreneurs — I knew that new ideas were being grown, thrown around and tempered over the flames. Slowly, they will simmer in Hannah’s head over the next few weeks and months, until she makes up her mind to follow one down the path. Nobody knows what that path will be, but I know I will be right behind her when she takes it.

Nervous at first about spending so much time riding on highways, the women wore high-visibility gear and have never had a bad incident in traffic.

Tuula Rebhahn

Tuula Rebhahn is the least athletic person ever to ride across the country on a bicycle. She and Hannah blogged about the journey and the connections between food, politics and the environment at

Fall 2013 | her voice


By Georgianne Nienaber Photos by Joey Halvorson

hanie Bermel Stoney Brook Stables owner Step dle), and (mid (left) with trainer, Mary Linder ic on the Mag with oe Chl Stephanie’s daughter, s. und gro ter cen ing train

It’s All About the M


Libraries are filled with volumes describing the special bond between women and horses. This unique partnership begs definition and occupies a special place in mythology, cosmology and philosophy. The horse is the great equalizer in sporting competitions between men and women, since the power of the horse compensates for any differences in the physical abilities of the rider. Is magic the only explanation for the chemistry that develops as the gentle nature of a child joins forces with the innate power of the horse? How many girls have buried their faces in the necks and flowing manes of their pony, pouring out their deepest secrets, wishes, and 24

Fall 2013 | her voice

desires to a friend who will stand steadfast and listen — offering no response, judgment or recrimination? The horse is a young girl’s willing and fearless companion as she navigates the dark and sometimes frightening trails of adolescence. But the relationship does not end there. In midlife and in later years, women often turn to horses to fulfill the desires of the girls they once were. The urge to fly free and unfettered burns brightly in the feminine soul. Western mythology offers the iconic image of Pegasus, the flying horse, pure and white with the wings of a guardian angel. Joan of Arc gallops through the imagination on her great stallion as she fights for France. Lakes area horsewoman, trainer and physical education teacher Mary Linder understands what it takes to nurture the bond between rider and horse, and how

developing the right skills and communication techniques can lead to a lifetime of success with horses. Growing up on a farm, Mary learned at a very tender age that horses were a part of life that she craved. “I cannot imagine my life without horses,” said Mary, remembering in detail a farm workhorse named Thunder, his Clydesdale features, chestnut and white coloring, and the feathering around his fetlocks. The powerful word “passion” constantly punctuates Mary’s explanation of what horses have come to represent in her life. “Regardless of what your passion is in your relationship with your horse; whether you want to go to competitive horse shows, whether you want to trail ride, or whether you want to shoot guns off your horse — whatever it is that makes you happy, there is something for everyone in the sport.”

Left and top: Mary and her horse, Clair, riding in sync and finishing a training session. Far right: Pam Mason trains her horse, Cooper, on the lunge line.

Magic Living in the Brainerd lakes area since 1985, Mary has counseled many people on the ins and outs of buying the “right” first horse. “The idea of buying a young horse for your young daughter or son is probably the biggest mistake a parent can make,” Mary says. “That’s like the blind leading the blind, it is also dangerous, and usually the horse does not work out.” She offers the consideration that older horses, those over 12 years of age, are excellent teachers. “It’s very rewarding to watch riders grow in confidence and experience because they have the right horse for their level of riding. My ex-show horses have made great first horses as well great lesson horses. Bermel’s Magic is a great example.” The story of Bermel’s Magic is about friendship and mentoring that ultimately led to a business partnership between Fall 2013 | her voice


“Magic taught me everything I know. I loved learning and I loved working with Mary” ~ Stephanie Bermel

teacher and student. Yes, the story is all about Magic. One Christmas, and all stories about magic begin with Christma, Brett Bermel called Mary and asked for riding instructions for his wife, Stephanie. He ended up purchasing a package of lessons on Magic. So, it is at this point in our story about the bond between women and horses that Stephanie Bermel, owner of the boarding and training facility of Stoney Brook Stables LLC in Lakeshore, picks up the narrative. “Magic taught me everything I know. I loved learning and I loved working with Mary as a mentor and instructor. When my daughter Chloe was a baby I would put her to sleep by taking her on a horseback ride on Magic. She would fall asleep in my arms, so you could say she has been riding since she was a baby, and she is 14 now.” Mary recalls that 4-year-old Chloe would show up for lessons in “little red cowboy boots.” Over the years the relationship between teacher and student blossomed, and along the way another Clydesdale entered the picture. The proof that Mary could successfully match any horse and rider emerged when one of Mary’s clients had a Clydesdale that she was preparing for a world competition in Madison, Wis. As the training progressed, and the owner got to know Chloe, she asked Chloe if she wanted to ride in the 26

Fall 2013 | her voice

16-and-under show. The fairy tale ending say ‘squeeze with your legs and use the had Chloe winning first place out of 15 rid- reins this way,’ the horse already knows how to do that,” Mary said. ers when she was 13 years old. Stephanie picked up the thread. Magic had prepared Chloe well and “Mary would agree everything starts on ignited a passion for horses in the Bermel the ground. If your horse does not have family. Three years ago the Bermels moved to discipline on the ground you are not going 20 acres a few miles from Mary’s barn. The to have discipline when you get on its site had a heated building that could easily back.” Without missing a beat, Mary added, accommodate seven stalls. Brett sketched plans on a piece of paper that included a 60 “You want a look of elegance. If you like by 120 outdoor arena, pastures and room how your horse looks when you are doing for private turnouts. When asked how many your groundwork, you are going to like clients now have horses boarded at Stoney how he looks when you are on him.” This successful collaboration between Brook Stables, Stephanie was quick to two lakes area women is forged in friendclarify that “the horses are my clients.” After the Bermel family decided to ship. The groundwork throw their hearts over the fence and build for future success has a horse farm, it became apparent that been completed — all something was missing. That “something” in the presence of a was a trainer, and Magic was the conduit special horse named that led the Bermels back to Mary Linder. Magic. Mary is now the full time trainer at Stoney Brook Stables, working with students on groundwork, regional Class A Arab competitions, and community horse Georgianne Nienaber events. During the interview for this story, Georgianne Nienaber lives in Ideal Township the two friends and business partners comand Sanibel, Fla. She is a regular commentator on pleted each other’s sentences as they Africa in the Huffington Post and other international explained that anyone can get on a horse, publications. She covered the Haiti earthquake, but it is teaching that takes riding to the New Orleans post-Katrina, and is now exploring next level. indigenous issues in the U.S., including the impact “It’s nice when you can ride a horse that of development on sacred native lands. responds to the correct cues so that when I

Women who ride at Stoney Brook Stables.

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clu b s a n d c l u s t e r s

The Danish

By Susanne Hohlen Photos by Joey Halvorson


Danish Sisterhood (First row left to right): Pam Dickinson, Laurie Cappellin, Nealna Gylling, Joni Hill, Amanda Bisted, Alma Miller, Sandy Solom, Evelyn Matthies. (Second row): Barb Wenschlag, Dottie Bisted, Judith Andersen, Susanne Hohlen.


Do you speak Danish? No worries. The members of the Danish Sisterhood Brainerd chapter don’t either with the exception of yours truly, who is the only “pure breed” so to speak, being born and raised in Denmark. It is not even a requirement to be Danish or of Danish decent; however, an interest in Denmark and Danish traditions is obviously an advantage and appropriate. The Brainerd chapter, Amber Lodge No. 186, was formed back in 2004 after a public interest meeting at the library in early February. The official installation took place in May of 2004 at the Quarterdeck Restaurant. New lodges do not form very often — about one every four years. So what is the Danish Sisterhood all about? The organization was established back in 1883, in Negaunee, Mich. Early lodges were organized to provide social and financial aid to the Danish immigrants in this new land. As times have changed, the organization is now a source and tool for preserving and maintaining the Danish heritage. Our local chapter is much more than coffee and kringle, although indulging in food is a big part of our gatherings. We are a very active lodge consisting of approximately 25 members, having enjoyed some growth since the beginning. Typically we have about eight to 14 members present at the monthly meet-


Fall 2013 | her voice

Keeping the old traditions: Nealna Gylling (left) and Alma Miller.

ings, which take place at the Evelyn Matthies Studio at the Franklin Art Center. In addition to the required business meeting (as directed by the national by-laws), we always strive for a program covering a wide variety of topics including lectures/guest speakers, arts and crafts projects and movie watching (educational).

Although the word “lodge” might have some reminiscence of secrecy and rituals, this is not the case. The lodge is fully transparent and supportive of the community. We have donated to the Women’s Shelter, lastly with handmade fleece blankets. We have sponsored community concerts with a Danish musician, participated in the Race for the Cure, supported the Art Train with manpower back in 2004, hosted cooking classes on “open faced sandwiches” and demonstrated the delicious “aebleskiver” at the Central Lakes Celebrations of Nations. More importantly, a wonderful camaraderie comes with the membership. We are all from different walks of life and span in age from 10 to 87 years old. Membership is open to men as well. Some of the members live in the outskirts of Minneapolis and faithfully drive the two hours each way to attend the meetings. Heidi Deuel, Pillager, is one of the newest members of the group. She was introduced to the Danish Sisterhood last winter by her friend Sharon Johnson. They shared an interest in genealogy and have a Scandinavian heritage and she wanted to learn more about the Danish culture. Her dad’s mother and maternal grandparents were Danish, the grandfather coming to the U.S. from Aarhus, Denmark, in the early 1900s. His grandmother’s parents came to

the U.S. from the Island of Langeland in the years of 1875 and 1887. While not many Danish traditions were passed down, says Heidi, “A strong work ethic is probably one of the first things that comes to my mind as I think of my Danish ancestors and what I know of them.” This winter Heidi’s family made Danish flat pancakes. “It is fun to share with my children, husband, and my two sisters what I am learning about Denmark. The library is a great resource for finding out more about Danish cooking.” She is also searching for books on Danish immigrants to the U.S. in the late 1800s and early 1900s but has had less success. Relatives, however, have been a big help in learning more about her Danish heritage, she says. Heidi finds The Danish Sisterhood a friendly group of people with a shared inter-

est in both the Brainerd lakes community and the Danish culture. “It was interesting to learn about how Denmark is today,” says Heidi. “I plan to continue to learn more about Denmark’s history, United States immigrants in the 1800s and 1900s from Scandinavia and about Denmark today.” The Danish Sisterhood meets 10 times a year. The highlight is the annual Christmas party where we all immerse ourselves in the Danish Christmas traditions (dancing around the Christmas tree holding hands while singing Christmas hymns), exchanging gifts afterwards, all after having enjoyed a Danish Christmas luncheon. After all, it seems all Danes like to gather around food! “Paa gensyn” (translates into “see you later”) as we say in Danish.

Susanne Hohlen

Susanne Hohlen is a transplant from Denmark now living in Big Lake with her husband and black lab. She is a regular contributor to a Danish American newspaper and attends the Sisterhood meetings in Brainerd, where she plans on retiring.

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spi r i t u a l i t y

By Jill Bublitz Photo by Joey Halvorson

A Psychic



It all started as a birthday present to amaze a friend — one not easy to amaze — a psychic reading for us both. My only request had been to give me three hours on a Friday night. This particular Friday night was cold and dark, dark, dark. I had to keep it together until we arrived at our destination.


“Get in the car,” I said, not meaning to sound so brutal but eager to move her along. “Where are we going?” she responded. I knew she would ask questions like that, ones I didn’t want to answer. “You don’t need to know,” I said, my voice smooth and even. “Are we going to the casino?” she asked, not giving up her questions. “Duluth?” and finally, “Are you taking me to a Tupperware party?!” My stony face hid a deep satisfaction. We drove the last miles on a snaking, washboardy-gravel road. She, totally quiet now and me hoping the scribbled directions read by dash lights would get us there — wherever “there” was. The confidence I felt when I had booked this gig was quickly fading into doubt. Now a driveway came into view. I pulled up to the house and escorted my bewildered friend to the door. No one need see the crossed fingers I pressed into my back. The door opened wide to a woman with a welcoming smile. Now, at last, I could turn to my friend and say, “This is Renie. She’s a psychic medium.” That first visit was maybe in 2009. I “really can’t remember but it was the first of many readings with Renie Moore. I take curious friends and relatives because I think most of us are hiding a secret fascination with the idea of receiving messages from the other side. If you are now shaking your head at my naivete, know that I was skeptical at first, even resistant, needing the proof of a message tailored to me, impossible to have


Fall 2013 | her voice

Psychic reader Renie Moore at home on Spirit Lake in Aitkin.

been made up by a robed mystic, reading my body language or fishing for information. Renie understands and says, “People have no reason to trust me right away.” Skepticism is felt by many first-time clients. It is neither a surprise nor does she take it personally. For the record and because it is essential to say so, I am no longer a skeptic. Renie moved to this area in 2001 after 30 years of working in the cities. She built a retirement home near Aitkin on Spirit, which seems to be a wry coincidence but then again, maybe not. Renie now gives readings in her serenely beautiful home where you feel like an invited guest and want to linger long after your session is done. From the living room overlooking the lake, French doors open into the cozy room where you sit and let the energy flow. Your energy brings the guides who communicate their messages through Renie. She explains, “I give the messages as they come in. The words are not mine. Sometimes I see pictures, sometimes a word is spelled or I see them (the guides) saying the word. I give it as it comes.” As a young child Renie remembers being visited by the guides or spirits; she thought them to be dreams. Not until ninth grade did she realize they were not merely dreams but “a gift.” This was revealed to her by a long-time family friend who visited every winter, a woman with intuitive powers herself. She encouraged Renie to practice and develop these skills. The messages began to come but also the question of how to approach the intended recipients.

She found that not all people are open to randomly receiving communiques from beyond. As she put it, “It is wise not to go into people’s space without permission.” Her business has grown steadily since she began, all by word-of-mouth. She enjoys using her avocation to help people, to give a sense of direction, emphasizing again that the words are not hers — they are from the guides. Most clients return but she watches for any who might become dependent or think that Renie can predict their future. She doesn’t believe in continually consulting a psychic and is not in favor of services such as psychic hotlines. Her gift is real, her contribution to our local lore not that dissimilar from the other vibrant women whose stories have been told in these pages. When I finally called in late autumn to ask if I could interview her, I knew she was smiling as she replied, “The guides told me something would be written in February.” My final draft was submitted in February. In an attempt to stump a friend on her birthday, it was I who received the biggest surprise: unknown destinations can bring unexpected messages from unseen voices. First, you agree to get in the car…

Jill Bublitz

Jill works as an interpreter for ISD181. Jill says this is her first attempt since college at writing anything more than a grocery list.

By Annie Bandel Photo by Joey Halvorson

go o d r e a d s

It’s Never Too Late


Theresa Jarvela is living proof of the old adage and her own personal words to live by: “It’s never too late.” Just this past year, 65-year-old Theresa published her first book in a Cozy Mystery series and in the last few weeks, launched her second. “Home Sweet Murder” and “Home for the Murder” are the products of a goal that Theresa made many years ago, when her children were still underfoot. It wasn’t until the youngest was a teenager that she started writing. Theresa had always been an avid reader and a seeker of adventure, her motto being “Life is full of adventures — live them, read them or write them!” This motto comes naturally to a woman who after high school, left her hometown of Pine River, went to St. Paul and then, on the suggestion of her brother, headed for Seattle, Wash. There she got a job and swiftly fell into big city life. In “those days,” says Theresa, Seattle was much more like a “big” small town. The Grunge, coffee and subsequent population explosion hadn’t happened yet. Perfect for the small town girl out on her own for the first time, even though her father had advised against it, wanting his talented, almost straight “A” daughter to go to college. But Theresa wanted to see the world and she did. From Seattle she hopped, skipped and jumped on vacation to Hawaii, loving it so much she stayed for six months. Even though she’s been back to visit, Theresa laughs and says with a sigh, long enough to contract “permanent island fever.” After four years of living and traveling in exotic locales, Theresa returned home to Pine River. She re-connected with an old boyfriend and the rest is history as she married Jack Jarvela from Trommald when she was 26. They went on to have five children, with Theresa being a stay-at-home mom. She says they were her life and during those years of child-rearing there wasn’t anything else she would rather be doing. But Theresa had always loved to read, and in the few minutes she had while raising children she often thought after reading

a book, “I could do better.” She made a goal aren’t left out. to do just that. After taking a college class As well as writing and traveling all over and joining several local writing groups she the country to visit her children, who seem grew brave enough to start submitting arti- to have the same itchy feet of their mother cles to magazines and applying for grants. (Dad doesn’t like to travel like the rest), Theresa never got discouraged, even with Theresa is employed part-time for the state. rejections along the way. But she says with great joie-de-vivre, “Do it Eventually she got published and has while you still can!” written for several magazines including Her Voice. Theresa is also proud of the fact that she placed in the 79th Annual Writers Digest Writing Competition. It’s a national Annie Bandel contest with thousands of contestants and Annie Bandel is a longher article “Facebook —Friend or Foe,” time Brainerd lakes area resmade the cut. Theresa has also been the ident who loves nothing recipient of Five Wing Arts Council grants. better than to curl up with “It does pay off to just keep at it,” she says, a good mystery. “As a matter of fact one of the most important qualities for a writer is tenacity!” The idea for her Cozy mystery series “Tales of a Tenacious House Sitter,” came about while she pursued her passion of exploring new locales. Theresa went online looking for house sitting jobs. While she was investigating the possibilities for herself, the idea of a main character for a book emerged and all the exciting plot-lines that could come from such a character swiftly captured her imagination. In fact, her stay with a daughter in Key West where they visited the famous Fort East Martello Museum and cemetery is when the light bulb came on for her second book, “Home for the Murder.” With “Home for the Murder” just coming out, Theresa says she barely has time to work on the third book. Although she is grateful and happy her books were accepted by North Star Press, she will admit she was a little naive about the role of an author after the book is published. From launch parties, to book signings, book fairs and events, it’s a whirlwind of activity that would keep the youngest of authors reeling. Theresa tries to keep it in stride, doing the best she can to satisfy all aspects of her life, not just marketing and selling her books. It’s a balance act for sure, but Theresa has the energy and passion to see that the important people and activities Fall 2013 | her voice


clu schbos oal nd s clusters

Learning By Mary Aalgaard Photo by Joey Halvorson

T Students at the Discovery Woods Montessori School learn about the natural world by observing and caring for ducks.

School and helped start the elementary program there. When Courtney moved to the Brainerd area about 10 years ago, she had one son. When her daughter was born a couple years later and she was looking at schooling options for her children, she became active in forming a new Montessori school for her children and the children of the Brainerd lakes area. After several years of searching for a location, finding an authorizer and getting approval from the Minnesota Department of Education, Discovery Woods found its home behind the VA hospital and next to the Arboretum. Discovery Woods’ mission is environmentally focused which fits nicely with the concepts of a Montessori education. Specially trained teachers give lessons and assignments based on an individual child’s abilities and interests, and students work at their own pace. From math to reading, they take their natural curiosity and start writing about it, studying it, counting, sorting and analyzing it until they have learned so much, that they open more books and explore further.


The students are surrounded by manipulatives for discovering math concepts and seeing how a sentence is put together. They make number chains and word problems. All the senses are engaged in a Montessori classroom. The learners hear and say the sound, see the letters, touch the sand boards and trace the shape of them. As any athlete or musician knows, learning involves all the senses. We build up muscles and muscle memory to shoot a basket, play the piano, write our names, do math and find our way in a new environment. A Montessori classroom is open floor space with some tables,

Discovery Woods Fall 2013 | her voice

The ability and desire to learn is born in every child and continues throughout their lives as long as that inner desire continues to burn. Maria Montessori discovered that inner flame in children and believed that they need only be given the right environment in which to thrive. Her learning philosophy of discovery and self-motivation has been used for over 100 years. In the Brainerd lakes area, Courtney Neifert, Nicci Johnson and other members of the development team formed Discovery Woods Montessori School, located conveniently next to the Northland Arboretum. The Audubon Center of the North Woods is the authorizer of this newly formed Charter School. As a Charter Montessori School, Discovery Woods is a public school, forming its own board and given its own district number, 4198. It is free and open to the public, grades K-6, with the same open enrollment policy as the traditional public schools and limited classroom size of 25. Courtney has done her homework in forming the Discovery Woods Montessori School. She attended a Montessori school some of the time as an elementary student. Her mother, Dorothy Klopp, was on the board at the Rochester Montessori

Free public school, grades K - 6 Tuition-based pre-school, ages 3 to 5


through Discovery chairs, manipulatives in easy reach, with teachers roaming the classroom to guide the students in learning and understanding. Walls are painted with colors to match the natural world, like blues and greens, low light to produce a calm effect and windows and doors that open outside in every classroom. Since Discovery Woods is next to the arboretum, classes can go out and explore their natural world, collect specimens and samples of real things that they count, sort and analyze, then write about, explore, and share in the way that motivates the individual student. No two learners are exactly alike. Everyone reacts to the world in different ways.The Montessori approach to learning is to discover what

the best way of learning is for each child. Discovery Woods Charter Montessori School opened its doors for learning in the fall of 2011. For the 2012-13 school year, 140 learners attended this new school. The multi-age classrooms encourage a sense of community as older children help younger children and inspire them to learn more. A child learning basic addition might be sitting alongside a child who is working on multiplication. The children usually stay in the same classroom with the same teacher for three years. This helps both teacher and student develop an ideal learning environment where the teacher already knows the child and that child is comfortable in the class-

room. Only about a third of the students would be new in the classroom each year as one group advances to the next multiage classroom. Currently, Discovery Woods has children in preschool through sixth grade and hopes to expand into the eighth grade. This fall, a music teacher and gifted and talented teacher will be added. Stephanie Dess moved to Brainerd a year ago and became a codirector with Courtney for the school. She said she wanted to work with Courtney, who basically does everything from grant writing to serving lunch. Courtney’s smile as she interacts with the children says it all. She truly loves helping students learn through discovery!

Mary Aalgaard

Mary Aalgaard is a freelance writer in the Brainerd lakes area. She writes for area publications, an inspirational blog, www.maryaalgaard., and entertainment reviews on her blog and on the Brainerd Dispatch website. Mary is also a playwright whose first original full-length play was performed spring of 2012. She lives with her four sons and a

Fall 2013 | her voice


Story by Kathleen Krueger Photos by Joey Halvorson

Marian Foehrenbacher manages a crew of compassionate caregivers at the Essentia Health Cancer Center in Brainerd. Marian (right) with patient Cindi Ingberg.

Compassionate Caregiver


The life of an oncology nurse is quite challenging but also rewarding, says Marian Foehrenbacher, manager of Essentia Health Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s Medical Center. “It is important to love what you do,” she says, “being compassionate, professional and kind.” And Marian does, very much, love her work — especially direct patient care. She forms lifelong friendships with her patients, remaining physically and emotionally available to patients and their families. Marian has been an oncology certified nurse for 25 years, 20 of those years in Brainerd. She is a registered nurse and most recently the manager of the Essentia Health Cancer Center, overseeing day-to-day operations. In 2010, the oncology program moved to the campus of St. Joseph’s Medical Center. With this move, the program began to bloom, an example of collaboration among professionals in Brainerd. “We work together as a team to provide personalized patient and family-centered care,” says Marian. On a tour of Essentia Health Cancer Center, Marian identifies each team member and their role. There is very little staff turnover and each member of the team is


Fall 2013 | her voice

dedicated to providing quality care. Recently, staff across Essentia Health achieved STAR Certification, a cancer rehabilitation program, which will increase patients’ quality of life from the day of diagnosis until the end of life. The Essentia Cancer Center is a one-stop shop. Upon arrival, patients are greeted with valet service. They proceed to the fifth floor for registration, have a blood test, see their oncologist and may receive chemotherapy, all in the same day. Prior to receiving chemotherapy many professionals come together to provide seamless care. Essentia Health has achieved the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons and is one of four hospitals in the state of Minnesota to achieve accreditation with NAPBC (National Accredited Program for Breast Cancer). When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, the patient may partner with a clinical nurse navigator like Missy Laposky, RN, OCN, who provides education about a new cancer diagnosis, attends appointments with patients and families and also directs patients toward resources that are available in our community.

Each week a cancer board brings a team of multi-specialty professionals together; surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, primary care doctors, nurses, tumor registry, social workers, radiation oncologist and medical oncologists to discuss the personalized plan of care a cancer patient will receive. This communication is critical so the patient has the best possible outcome following a cancer diagnosis. Once stepping inside the Essentia Health Cancer Center, other team members are called to assist. A reimbursement specialist assists patients with understanding their insurance coverage and may enroll patients in programs that are available to lessen the financial burden. As manager of Essentia Health Cancer Center, Marian helps provide education to the public in the form of health fairs, Lunch and Learn and Girls Night Out. A recent grant from Susan G. Komen Minnesota Affiliate, allows Essentia Health to partner with our rural community by getting the word out to the farm wives about breast cancer prevention. Patients traveling to receive a mammogram may be offered a gas card to assist with the burden of transportation costs. This program is now showing a 50

percent increase in patients getting screened for breast cancer with the support of SAGE, a program providing free mammograms to those who qualify. Outside of her position at Essentia Health, Marian is involved with two community based non-profit programs that provide emergency non-medical financial assistance to cancer patients. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is not only emotionally and physically devastating, but financially devastating too. Marian serves on the board for Pay It Forward Brainerd Lakes Cancer Fund and the Pink Ribbon Cupboard. Although Essentia Health serves as the fiscal agent, these programs are totally community based and funds are available to cancer patients receiving IV chemotherapy or radiation therapy in our Brainerd lakes area. Both Pink Ribbon Cupboard and the Pay It Forward Brainerd Lakes Cancer Fund provide funds to cancer patients by helping with non-medical costs, such as fuel cards for transportation or help paying utilities and mortgage payments. 100 percent of the funds raised from both programs stay in this community. While staff at Essentia Health provides

care to cancer patients, they also remem- live today. “They helped mold me into the ber those who did not survive the journey person I am today,” Marian explains. Personally, Marian also uses her creof cancer. “Our team will hold a private memorial lunch to honor patients who will ative talent, as inner healing and release. “I forever be in our hearts,” says Marian. She love being by the lake, with my family and and other staff hand-stitched colorful rib- my beads,” she says. Among her hobbies is bons into a quilted Christmas tree skirt, beaded jewelry. She often contributes her under the direction of Cindy Brumberg, a creations to silent auctions for non-profit chemotherapy nurse. It is proudly dis- events. She enjoys repurposing old pieces played in honor of their patients for the of jewelry to create a one-of-a-kind item, holidays. These types of activities help the with a story attached to each creation. “I nurses avoid burnout. “We care about one love being creative,” she says, “It’s my therapy and helps me to be creative in another,” Marian explains. Marian’s enthusiasm for her work is life’s challenges.” To apply for assistance or give a donaobvious — not based on her job title or paycheck. She truly has a passion that tion to the Pink Ribbon Cupboard or Pay comes from the heart. But she also has a It Forward Brainerd Cancer Fund, call life outside oncology and her volunteer 218-828-7564. work. She believes that being an oncology nurse has made her appreciate each day. Kathleen She and her husband Joe are parents to Krueger two busy teenagers. They spend a lot of Kathleen Krueger is a freetime attending activities at Pillager High lance writer and poet who School, as well as time on the lake all year lives in Brainerd with her husband, Steve. Her tagline, round. Family is a priority for Marian. Part of that priority stems from the fact that she “Crafter of Words,” refers to her was adopted. Her mother worked as a love and use of language arts, nurse for 50 years and her father farmed both verbally and written. See south of Brainerd, where her parents still

Fall 2013 | her voice


frie n d s



The mixed media artwork, the Color of Friendship, by Elsie is a tribute to very colorful women who have worked, played, traveled, laughed, cried, wined and dined and cherished friendship for many years. From left: Karen Ogdahl, Elsie Husom, Jan Mathieu, Barb Stokke, Linda Gustafson, Mary Mangini, Melody Schulte.


“I need a life!” Spoken with frustration from an all-consuming job, these four words launched an alliance of seven small-town “girls” who came to Brainerd to teach and found true, lasting friendships. Calling themselves the Games Dames, six women were original “members” in 1992: Linda Gustafson, Mary Mangini, Jan Mathieu, Karen Ogdahl, Barb Stokke and I. Melody Schulte, joining later, is the “young’un.” She recollects her first time hosting. “I bought new placemats trying to impress the women but forgot to remove the price. When I brought out snacks, the women were sitting around the table — price stickers clinging to their foreheads. These fun-loving friends were worth keeping.” Games group has evolved. At first, working more than full time, we wanted no added stress. We agreed hosts should purchase snacks and not be concerned


Fall 2013 | her voice

By Elsie Husom Photos by Darrell Matthieu and Al Husom


The Games Dames enjoy hors d’oeuvres at Jan’s house in Luck, Wis., during an overnight in June, 2013. Clockwise from lower left: Karen Ogdahl, Elsie Husom, Linda Gustafson, Melody Schulte, Mary Mangini, Jan Mathieu, Barb Stokke.

about dust or everyday clutter. Meeting monthly, we played games or simply enjoyed conversation and many laughs. Jan says, “A co-worker once remarked that she could always tell the morning after a games night because I was so animated and happy.” On retirement, each received a “Joyful Women” pin. Still teaching, Mel received hers early because by the time she retires, we may have forgotten who stored her pin. Since retirement, we co-host evening meals. Jan claims, “Some of the best food I have eaten has been prepared by the Games Dames.” The rest of us add that this is especially true when Jan serves. Jan and her husband moved to Wisconsin, but moving hasn’t excluded her. She comes often and each year hosts an overnight at their house. Linda also “commutes” after moving to Hibbing. She

comments, “I could move away from Brainerd after 44 years but never away from Games!” Enjoying togetherness at games led to taking short summer trips. Starting in 1996 at Bluefin Bay, our 17 golf, games, giggles, gourmet dining and shopping trips have taken us around three states. No matter the weather or the accommodations, just being together is a delight. The years bring many memories of shared experiences and we enjoy reminiscing; only now it often takes all of us to recall all the details. One event that brings hoots of laughter took place during a trip. Golfing on Hole 5, Jan felt her favorite golf pants split in back. Nonchalantly, she tucked a golf towel in her waistband and finished the course. Back at our cabin, Jan chuffed the pants in the wastebasket. Imagine her surprise when, months later, she opened a

package and found her favored pants. We had sneaked them home and sewed on golf tees to spell “Jan’s Hole-in-One.” Another memory also involves golf. Karen hit her drive, but the ball went left, bounced and barely nicked a moving pickup truck. The driver jumped out and started yelling. Karen laughs, “I put on my best ‘I’m sorry’ face and said I was so sorry, but he came toward me, still yelling. He must have noticed my friends standing behind me ready to do battle because he abruptly returned to his truck and left.” I’m sure we looked like a fearsome force with golf clubs in hand. Little did he know our only battle weapons were words. Mary remembers another trip. “We were upstairs in a cabin playing games. I was winning and not being very quiet; the others razzed me noisily. Suddenly, the vacationers downstairs thumped on the ceiling and we hushed immediately.” The next morning, they came knocking on our door with six-pack in hand saying they hadn’t meant to spoil our fun —

actually they were envious of our good time. Barb recalls a special time, “relaxing in an outdoor hot tub in Door County watching Perseid’s meteor shower.” She also remembers a restaurant on another trip. “The women’s restroom was an artistic wonder with whimsical paintings covering the walls.” We exclaimed so much that our server gave us a tour of the also-painted men’s restroom. Certainly we have great times at monthly games night, annual trips and other activities. Venturing into creative endeavors with painting wine glasses and making garden decorations produced more fun than talent. We also celebrate significant birthdays, retirements, children’s graduations and marriages and welcome each grandchild. However, along with the good times, we have challenges and sadness. Support for each other has been vital during illnesses, surgeries, near death accident of a spouse, deaths of parents and tragic death of a son-in-law. Linda remarks, “When I

was diagnosed with breast cancer, these women, my angels on earth, were there for me with listening ears and loving hearts.” Mel adds, “It seemed so essential — much like breathing — to share our low moments with each other. We felt embraced with empathy and surrounded by a comforting blanket of support.” Barb sums it up for all of us: “I feel like we are all pieces of a puzzle fitting together easily and comfortably, completing one beautiful picture of friendship.”

Elsie Husom

Elsie Husom is a retired educator who lives west of Brainerd. She enjoys reading, golfing, making art and volunteering in the Center for Lifelong Learning, the Crossing Arts Alliance and other community endeavors.

Fall 2013 | her voice


bus noni -npersos f i t s

Story and photos by Marlene Chabot

Raining Cats and Dogs

C Connie Bursey, executive director of the Morrison County Humane Society.


Fall 2013 | her voice

Connie Bursey, executive director of the Morrison County Animal Humane Society (MCAHS), is one of the few people who can actually say it’s “raining cats and dogs” with a straight face and not receive a questioning stare. Why would anyone doubt her, especially in the spring when new kittens and puppies appear on the scene? The minute you stroll in the door of MCAHS and see Connie’s playful interaction with the dog and cats in her care you can tell she’s been around animals a long time. “Since a little child actually,” the executive director informed me. “The first pet my parents got me was a cat, but it didn’t stay long.” It turned out she was allergic to it. Charles and Carol Cushing of St. Joseph adopted Connie for their only child when she was eight. The second pet, Blackie, worked out wonderfully. “I’ve been a dog owner ever since.” Connie’s interest in animals of all sorts blossomed while she was still in grade school. “I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up.” After high school she chose a different career path though, business management in the health care field, but she never lost her passion for creatures big or small. At their hobby farm, she, husband Duane and daughters Laura and Naomi care for four horses, four dogs, seven outside cats and Rex rabbits. In all the years Connie worked as an accountant, she never pictured herself in charge of a humane society. It was pure luck that brought her attention to the director vacancy. Her eldest daughter heard about the opening while interning at a veterinary clinic and suggested she apply. “The most challenging aspect of my job is finding enough hours in the day — there’s always something more to do.” For the short time she’s been in her position, Connie’s accomplished more than most. Employees usually expect a bit of housecleaning when a different manager arrives, but this director of MCAHS took cleaning to a whole new level when she received approval to revamp the facilities. The re-modeled reception area creates a smoother flow. A new pet supply section in the lobby makes adoption easier. Quarantined cats have a room with a view now, not one without a window. The adoptive-ready cats’ digs are homey. They can meet with their pals, play with toys, fool around on the cat trees or sit on a visitor’s lap. “We even have birdfeeders installed outside their windows.” Impressed by the cleanliness of the shelter, I asked Connie how many people it takes to run this facility. The woman who is involved with every detail of MCAHS from finances to cleaning kennels said, “Four paid employees and 15 volunteers.” She recently reshaped and restarted the volunteer program. “It would be great if we could build our volunteer list

to 30.” An ideal situation — everyone can handle any task. But “that’s not realistic.” The director appreciates whatever time volunteers give and as soon as they come on board, she makes sure they’re a good fit for the task assigned them. Her own daughters volunteer when they can. A seven-day stay at a shelter for a cat or dog adds up quickly when one considers their personal needs: individual care, food, shots and spayed or neutered. Connie and her staff are grateful to the efforts of the 20 other animal rescues and shelters they collaborate with, who have started to donate food to them this year, but they still run low on kitty litter. “Various activities this past year have increased the public’s awareness of us,” says Connie including the shelter’s remodeling, analyzing their animal listing web site, and adding Petango. The shelter’s involvement with Adoption Days on one Saturday a month at Tractor Supply Company in Little Falls also helped tremendously. Half the people who adopt live outside the county. “Presently there are more animals going out than coming into MCAHS. That’s a good sign,” says Connie.

The most rewarding part of Connie’s job is matching animals to future owners. “Sometimes an animal picks the person and it’s magical.” MCAHS requires all prospective owners to meet and spend time with an animal to make sure it’s the right match. Ownership of a pet involves expenses and emotions. Are you really ready for a pet or is it just a passing thought? The MCAH website is: www. “Don’t ever hesitate to call the animal cruelty hotline (763-489-2236),” Connie stressed, “if you witness or suspect an animal’s being treated badly. Even with all that she’s done, Connie’s ready to implement more ideas. Right now a blank lobby wall is waiting to be covered with name plaques in honor of donors or in memory of donor’s loved ones.

Connie with her adopted dog, Scrappy Dee.

Marlene Chabot

Marlene Chabot, a member of Sisters in Crime and Great River Writers, is currently preparing to publish her fourth Minnesota-based cozy mystery novel. When not involved with writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, walking, reading, gardening and traveling.

Fall 2013 | her voice


fitn e s s

By Bettie Miller Photos by Joey Halvorson

Silver Sneaker Locations in the area

Silver Sneakers A Silver Sneakers cardio class at the Brainerd FamilyYMCA.


The Silver Sneakers fitness program came to the Crosslake Community Center in October 2012. Our instructor, Donna Keiffer, is already well known for her aerobic classes. She received special training for these sessions and passed with flying colors. We meet twice weekly and the enthusiasm is contagious, usually ending with a round of applause from the participants. This is an opportunity to meet new friends or strengthen old friendships while pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Silver Sneakers is a win-win situation. The gym is warm in winter and cool in summer. Another bonus in Crosslake is that the senior lunch is served every day at the center for a small fee. And the library is a wonderful place to browse after lunch. When I heard that Silver Sneakers was coming to Crosslake I lost no time getting to the community center to sign up. It was important for me to maintain an exercise program after my heart surgery and this program was just right for me. After the first class I felt I had found a way to stay fit and I sensed that everyone who came that day was excited about the program and eager to return for the next session. After finding the class so suited to me, I decided to see how others felt so I took a survey. Jo Swoverland said, “I love this class — it awakened my older body and now I can move better. Kathy Swanson reported that her blood sugar level improved keeping her at good mental and physical health. Since joining the class my strength has improved and now I’m working on balance. Meeting new people is a plus, said Lola Hecker. Dick and Mary Nelles

Group classes (some sites include equipment and pool) Brainerd Family YMCA Mills Ford – Baxter St. Francis Health and Recreation – Little Falls Hallett Community City – Crosby AMP Fitness – Pierz Crosslake Community Center Fit Quest – Baxter MN Hockey Camp – Nisswa

Call customer service to find a location near you. 1-800-423-4632 or visit the website at Once enrolled you can visit other classes when you travel.

Anyone receiving Medicare and a member of a participating health plan can sign up at a location of your choice. There is no charge to participating health plans and is also available to non-members for a low fee. 40

Fall 2013 | her voice

love the workout that doesn’t require difficult moves. Jane is amazed at how much better she feels after a workout. Sharon Corbin says the class has made her stronger and she can stand up in church without holding on to the pew. Everyone commented on what a great teacher and motivator Donna is as the leader. The trained physical fitness leader leads us through an exercise journey which builds muscular strength, improves mobility and increases cardiovascular endurance. Some of the routines are done while sitting in a chair which is provided along with other “tools”— hand weights, a ball and stretch bands. It is amusing to see the balls roll away and then retrieved by our agile seniors. The number of participants grows with each class and our instruc-

tor anticipates having four classes a week instead of two. There’s a good chance that anyone observing a group will want to join them. Sometimes participants rest during the class or hang on to the back of the chair — this is definitely OK. Participants wear comfortable clothes, gym shoes and bring a bottle of water to drink while exercising to keep hydrated during the workout. Fitting in an exercise program is one of the most important health improvement steps anyone can make to maintain a quality of life. Participants often set one or more personal goals — maintain a healthy weight, increase cardiovascular endurance, improve muscle strength, flexibility and balance. Silver Sneakers will lead the way.

Crosslake instructor Donna Keiffer (left) and Bettie Miller, class participant since day one.

Bettie Miller

Bettie Miller grew up in Chicago and moved to Crosslake in 1978 where she taught continuing education and sold real estate for 10 years. Now she enjoys arts and crafts, reading and writing.

“Miss Bonnie,” still going strong at the Brainerd YMCA.

empower mediaAd# 283678

Fall 2013 | her voice


Story and photos by Rachel Reabe Nystrom

Pilgrimage to

The Holy Land


Photos from top: Standing in front of the Moslem Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the site of Herod’s Temple in Jesus’ time. A shepherdess tends her flock. Group wearing required hooded robes in the Mosque covering the burial sites of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah on the Palestinian controlled West Bank. The women hike up the canyon in the Wilderness of Zin.


Fall 2013 | her voice

Nothing prepares you for your first look at Jerusalem. The setting sun tints ancient limestone buildings pink as the bells of Jerusalem ring. Observant Jews in long black coats and hats rush to Shabbat services. They share the sidewalks and the land with Muslims and Christians, a dizzying clash of culture and religion. Our flock of 30 women, mostly from the Brainerd area, is here to experience the Promised Land. Our two weeks in Israel will be a crash course of 4,000 years of biblical history presented on location by Dr. James Martin, the founder of Bible World Seminars, a biblical study program focusing on the historical, cultural and geographical context of the Bible. First impressions — Israel is small and crowded. A tenth of the size of Minnesota, Israel has nearly eight million people. The land is beautiful and diverse including snow-covered mountains to the north, rugged deserts in the south and the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea marks the western boundary.We’re here in February and the almond trees are blooming. We begin our journey with the birth of Christianity in Bethlehem. Standing in line with pilgrims from Korea and India, we wait our turn to descend below the Church of the Nativity to see the worn silver star on the marble floor. Flanked by velvet curtains and burning candles, it is the traditional site of Jesus’ birth. Christmas carols sung in many languages float through the cavernous structure. The following day Dr. Martin helps us visualize what the birthplace would have looked like, in the basement stable of a first century style home. We learn to replace Sunday school images of biblical events with a more accurate picture based on historical and cultural fact. The Bible comes alive at an ancient

well in the West Bank town of Nablus. It was here that Jacob met his bride-to-be Rachel when she was drawing water from the well. Hundreds of years later, Jesus met a woman at this same well and challenges her to a drink of water with eternal consequences. “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:13-l4. How thrilling to crank up the bucket of cold water from the same 180 foot well and drink deeply. “I so appreciated the times spent sitting at the very sites of Biblical events and listening to Jim’s lectures. The realization that we were at the exact locations was amazing to comprehend,” said Karen Zaffke of Pine River. After six months of preparation, the women from the mid 20s to late 60s still can’t believe they are really here. Their common bond is the desire to see the Promised Land. It takes faith to visit Israel where wars have been fought continually for thousands of years. “The safest place you can ever be is in the center of God’s will,” noted one of the group members. “This trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m not staying home because I’m afraid.” Military checkpoints are a fact of life here as we cross back and forth across the wall that divides Israel from the West Bank. We have our passports available for scrutiny as armed Israeli soldiers board the bus. They quickly figure out we are shoppers not shooters. We’re on our way to Hebron where Abraham purchased a burial cave 4,000 years ago. Revered by Jews and Muslims, a combination mosque/synagogue covers the site where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob and

Rachel Nystrom, Baxter, and Belgin Kurtulus, Istanbul, Turkey, on the southern steps of the Temple.

Leah are buried. After a double security check, we don blue hooded robes to enter the mosque. Back on the bus, we stop frequently to take pictures. Shepherds still tend their flocks on the rocky green fields, even if they’re talking on cell phones. “How inspiring to be where Jesus walked and to experience the relationship of the Scripture to the land,” Beth Larson of Crosslake noted. “As I saw the shepherd leading the sheep to the sheepfold, I understood the concept of the Good Shepherd much more clearly.” The days are full and packed. We’re heading south to the Wilderness of Zin where Moses and the Israelites wandered for 40 years. Martin serves up outdoor adventure with his lectures. After hearing about the complaining Israelites, he leads us up the canyon wall on steep switchbacks until we reach ladders bolted into the sheer rock face. Other adventures include slogging through hip-high water in Hezekiah’s 3,000-year-old tunnel under Jerusalem and descending the sheer Arbel Cliffs overlooking the Sea of Galilee where Jesus ministered to his followers. This day we hike to En Gedi on the edge of the Judean Desert, a verdant oasis in a harsh landscape. David fled here to escape murderous King Saul. We gather near a towering waterfall to discuss living water. “If

anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” John 7:37. Why settle for stagnant water when God offers his abundant fountain? Our teacher ran to the waterfall and let the water crash around him. It was a highlight, said Pat Ronnei of Pequot Lakes, of a trip that was nothing but highlights. “I want to know and experience the living God and his living water.” It is almost inconceivable that Biblical sites thousands of years old are still here. In the old city of Jerusalem, the foundation of Herod’s temple from Jesus’ time is still intact as are the southern steps. Claire Young, Brainerd, said she was overwhelmed on the Temple Mount. “Could I actually be standing where the temple stood? It took my breath away.” “I was in awe of the temple steps,” added Cassy Seymour of Brainerd. “Putting our bare feet on the warm stone steps where Jesus taught his disciples and seeing the path where Jesus rode the donkey from Bethpage into Jerusalem.” Our final day in Israel begins at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in old Jerusalem. The rambling, ancient structure stands over the site where Jesus was crucified and the nearby tomb where he was buried. Built in 333 AD by Roman Emperor Constantine, the church is a collection of shadowy chapels, tombs and candlelit altars on a handful of levels. Ancient pilgrims have carved crosses in the stone walls through the ages. The holy graffiti bears witness of Christendom’s most sacred site. We have time to contemplate Jesus’ death and resurrection at the nearby Garden Tomb; a beautiful landscaped setting that provides a place for worship and reflection. Connie Schiller of Baxter says it was an emotional highlight. “We experienced God together. We visited the tomb together and all turned at the same time to see the sign on the door that reads, ‘He is not here, for he is risen!’ We raise our hands together in joyful worship.” As we head for the airport, the bus is unusually quiet. Our minds and hearts are full. It’s one thing to read the Bible and accept it as truth. But nothing compares to standing in the actual footsteps of Jesus, Abraham and Moses. We believed and now we have seen.

Rachel Reabe Nystrom

Rachel Reabe Nystrom is passionate about the Bible and seeing it come alive in Israel. Her eighth study tour to the Holy Land is scheduled for March 2014. She is the current chairman of the Crow Wing County Board and says peace negotiations are a universal challenge, at home and abroad. Rachel is a former reporter for Minnesota Public Radio.

Fall 2013 | her voice


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

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



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

Pequot Lakes, MN 56472 218-568-8280

Auto Import



Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce

200 1st St NW Little Falls, MN 56345 (320 ) 632-5155

Chiropractors Northern Family Chiropractic

Assisted Living Excelsior Place

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

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


Chrysalis - skin care, injections, laser services

Good Neighbor Home Health Care

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


(218) 829-9238 (888) 221-5785


Preferred Hearing

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

Fall 2013 | her voice


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

US Bank

320 South 6th St. Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 828-5406

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

Glass/Windows Gull Lake Glass

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

Her Voice Service Directory • Fall 2013 Healthcare

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


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


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


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


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


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

Mind Body Health

Journey To Be You Workshops (734) 476-9884

Fall 2013 | her voice


bu s i n e s s

By Cynthia Bachman Photo by Joey Halvorson

Wild Bird Store/Little Farm Market

Shelly Stanley and her husband, John Lonsky, own the Wild Bird Store/Little Farm Market and offer a variety of bird seed mixes and Minnesota–made gifts.


Looking for garden seeds? Needing bird seeds or a gift that has a healthy, nature focus? All of these can be found at the Wild Bird Store/Little Farm Market. Shelly Stanley, co-owner, has pursued Minnesota made items and Minnesota grown favorites from honey to wild rice. Shelly has successfully found local artists and craftsmen that create unique, interesting and useful items. Included are knit hats, mittens and scarves, several of these made with handspun yarn from sheep raised locally. Other items include hand-painted leather jewelry, BBQ sauces, jellies, local herbal products such as soaps and lotions. You can purchase Minnesota-made birdhouses, bat houses, garden decorations and birdbaths. Your senses will be thrilled at the variety and displays of original and fun nature books, CDs, jigsaw puzzles, calendars, greeting cards, cooking books, book markers and books. Especially enjoyable are the mysteries written by local authors with a Minnesota focus. New this year, Chaga mushroom


FAll 2013 | her voice

products that have been used for thousands of years in China and Russia to treat a multitude of health ailments. In Oriental countries, Chaga is known as a “king of herbs.” Shelly Stanley and John Lonsky are the owners of the store. They came to the Brainerd lakes area in 1994, as cabin owners, on Upper South Long Lake. They enjoyed their time “up north” on weekends and holidays as they could get away from their jobs in Minneapolis, where John worked as a truck driver and Shelly as a buyer for a metro company. The cabin was not winterized; it was small and it was simply a fun get-away from their busy work lives. In October 2009 in a casual conversation with the store owners they discovered the store was about to go on the market. That weekend, as they drove back to their home in Minneapolis Shelly and John decided to purchase the store and they never looked back. Next they remodeled and updated their weekend cabin to a year-round home and took over the store. Many local people my age may remember when The Little Farm Market was on Washington Street — a quick run from the bus switch parking lot near the Franklin School. As students waited for their bus they could run the two blocks to the store to purchase candy and sweet rolls to eat on their ride home. The Little Farm Market started in 1955 as a canned goods/grocery store, located on old Highway 210. That was viable for 35 years, but as large grocery stores came to Brainerd, The Little Farm Market business struggled. So they re-invented themselves as Wild Bird Store and included gift items. Clients who are ‘birders’ know what day the weekly shipment arrives and know the quality and good prices available. Seeds can be purchased by the pound or in 50-pound bags, with carryout service. Shelly and John have 22 bins of bulk birdseed; special mixes of seeds include their popular house blend, “Steve’s Mix.” John also drew my attention to their seeds that can be used for indoor birds. That

was a new concept to me and I needed the explanation that ‘indoor birds” do not have the opportunity for as much exercise as outdoor birds and need food with a lower fat content such as striped sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, fine chip sunflower hearts and millet. Shelly and John carry “all things necessary for your garden.” Garden seeds can be purchased March through June. There are 13 varieties of sweet corn, 17 varieties of beans, seven varieties of peas, seven varieties of seed potatoes including reds and russets, assorted varieties of garlic, onion sets, sweet potato plants and asparagus root. They also carry their own label of packaged seeds from asparagus to zucchini and grass seed that is specially blended for this area. Also new in 2013 are Seed Savers Exchange seeds. These are open pollinated, heirloom and some organic seeds that are very popular with gardeners “in the know.” Another unique part of the store is their small order, special order delivery service of produce. Special order produce is available for graduation parties, wedding, family reunions, small restaurants, assisted living and church functions. They offer assorted salad blends, over 50 vacuum sealed stir-fry mixes, fruits, vegetables, dairy, spices, nuts, vinegar, etc., weekly by the case or half cases. The Wild Bird Store/ Little Farm Market relocated in 2007 to northeast Brainerd behind KFC at the Brainerd East Mall. Shelly and John are fun, friendly, well informed and a pleasure to talk with.

Cynthia Bachman

Cynthia Bachman grew up and lives in the Brainerd lakes area with her husband, Brian. She has a bachelor of science in nursing and is an RN specializing in wound care at the University of MN Hospital/Fairview in Minneapolis. Cynthia also has a masters degree in education.

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Her voice fall 2013  

• Creating Pieces That Move People: Alexandra Clough: Homegrown Ali Clough leads a second generation of successful women in the family busin...

Her voice fall 2013  

• Creating Pieces That Move People: Alexandra Clough: Homegrown Ali Clough leads a second generation of successful women in the family busin...