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WINTER 2010 by women… for women… about women…

Inside: • Lakes Area Food Shelf • Coming Clean • Talking to William


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C o ntents Features



The 24 weeks of Thanksgiving. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Operating year round, the Lakes Area Food Shelf serves a special need during the holidays. by Carolyn Corbett

7 16

Jean dah lefse queen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 While some feal that the making of lefse is a dying art, this “lefse queen” shares her recipe. by Diane Peterson

Child’s play . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Rehabbing dollhouses is this woman’s hoby. by Marlene Chabot

Q&A with Kate Engelbrecht – “The Girl Project” . . . . . . 23 A creative BHS grad now living in NYC uses photography to teach teen girls, and the rest of us, something about themselves. by Judy Kuusisto

The changing face of pharmacy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 In a field once dominated by men, more women than ever are entering the pharmacy field. by Heidi Lake


Betty’s bunch in Guatemala. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 No pool drinks at spa resorts for this woman who does mission work in Guatemala on vacation. by Mary Aalgaard

“Little House on the Prairie” dresses go online . . . . . . . 44 Prairie dresses anyone? An area sewer turns her talent into a web-based business. by Jenny Holmes

In This Issue 36

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

nostalgia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

L o o k i n g fo r i n s p i ra t i o n by Meg Douglas

The things we treasure by Jill Ander son

clubs and clusters . . . . . . . . 12 F i n d i n g f u n d s fo r wo m e n b y C a r l a S t a ff o n

emotional wellness . . . . . . . 14 Ta l k i n g t o W i l l i a m by Theresa Jar vela




animals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Bundles of love by Suz Anne Wipper ling

health and wellness . . . . . . 40


her say lite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

S a y i n g g o o d bye fo r a w h i l e by Sher i Davich


One busy woman gives back by Sandra Opheim


Country swingers by Peg Lar son

her say

entrepreneurs . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

comics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 THE STRIP by McKenzie Bass

travel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 The most dangerous city in the wor ld by Cassie Pr ice

Focus on eye health by Melody Banks No putting toys in your underwear by Kathy Schroeder

Co v e r ph o t o b y J o ey Halvorson O n t h e c o v e r : A n at ional lef se cont e s t win n e r, J e a n Olson, the “ Lef se Qu e e n ,” a ls o ma ke s lef se for Crosby’s I mma n u e l Lu t h e ra n Church’s Fall B a z a a r.

business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 C o m i n g c l e a n fo r 9 0 ye a r s by Karen Ogdahl


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from the editor

PUBLISHER Terry McCollough EDITOR Meg Douglas ART DIRECTOR Nikki Lyter

Guaranteed to put a smile on your face, Jean Olson (left) and Diane Peterson.

Ah, the holidays, that time when we transform our lives into something out of the ordinary: sweet smelling goodies filling our kitchens, garlands of greens dressing doorways and mantels, imaginative gifts filling our lists for friends and families. Or so we dream. Never mind that the bakery supplies my cookies, Ben Franklin my artificial balsam, big box stores my gift cards. I’m looking for inspiration this year and find plenty in this edition of Her Voice. Start with Carolyn Corbett’s feature on the Lakes Area Food Shelf and the folks and church congregations who provide food not just during the holidays but throughout the year. In the lakes area, Carolyn reports, “Unemployment, low wages, lack of benefits, childcare expenses, skyrocketing housing and energy costs and high out-of-pocket medical expenses make many families and individuals vulnerable to hunger. More than 50 percent of adult food shelf clients work, yet they are still unable to make ends meet.” As a community, we are fortunate to have a foodshelf. Then, there’s Lois McCabe from Little Falls who so loves children that she remodels dollhouses for free, when they’re more than 40 years old and made of sturdy wood. Find out how she does it in Marlene Chabot’s dollhouse story. Thank goodness, some people get silly this season. Donning Santa caps and comfy shoes, women form a danceline, entertaining nursing home residents in a story told by Peggy Larson. No spring chicken at 86, Peggy can still dance up a storm. And, you betcha, the lefse lovers will be drooling over Diane Peterson’s story on Jean Olson from Deerwood. After earning prizes for her lefse recipe, Jean’s become “duh lefse queen,” and supplies more than 300 pounds of lefse for Crosby’s Immanuel Lutheran Church’s Fall Bazaar. While joy and laughter often set the mood for the season, many of us live with a loss whose memory seems to surface over the holidays. Sheri Davich and Theresa Jarvela both share their heart-tugging stories. This holiday season, I’ll stare into the bright and shiny eyes of three granchildren, reflecting back to me the magic and the mystery of the season. Now there’s a reason to be thankful!


Meg Douglas, Editor




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 SEVEN, EDITION THREE FALL 2010


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by Carolyn Corbett photos by Joey Halvorson

One of the founders of the Lakes Area Food Shelf 20 years ago, 91-year-old Don Messick, along with manager Carey Rasinki (left) and volunteer Dee Ebert, oversee the operation.

It’s 9:30 a.m. on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and Carey Rasinski’s blue Chevy pickup is parked outside the Lakes Area Food Shelf. A mountain of frozen turkeys fills the back. Not everyone travels over the river and through the woods to Grandpa’s place for their Thanksgiving feast. LAFS clients converge on the small building just south of Pequot Lakes. Kids from local church groups carry bags full of blessings to waiting cars. People throng the parking lot and a line leads out the door as they wait their turn to receive the Thanksgiving food basket they signed up for a month ago. Basket is a euphemism. The food shelf clients take home all the makings for pie and stuffing, candied yams, a bag full of perishables and canned goods and Tom. Tom Turkey, one of the 10-12 pounders waiting out in Carey’s pickup. Within an hour and a half all 150-plus recipients are on their way home. Thanksgiving comes not only in November for food shelf clients, but twice a month. It comes for a 40-ish woman from the Breezy area whose husband died in April. There wasn’t much money before his death. Now she’s alone with three kids. “It is comfortable to come here, not embarrassing. The people are so nice.” WINTER 2010 | her voice

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It comes for a lovely older gentleman, leaning on a cane. He used to donate money to the food shelf. Now there are medical problems and a fixed income. “I try to always give back in the good times.” An avid bow hunter, he hopes to donate venison to the food shelf this fall, with a 4-wheeler to get him back in the woods and friends to haul a deer. It comes for a lady on a fixed income, waiting for a transplant; an unemployed Nisswa woman in her mid50s, an unemployed Pequot man in his 30s. There’s just not enough money they say softly, without raising their eyes. It could be you. It could be me. It could be a coworker, a family member or the couple down the street. But for the Grace of God… The Lakes Area Food Shelf is a non-profit 5013C organization supported by nine area churches, along with help from individual contributions, businesses Six volunteers work each Tuesday; another six each Thursday. On this day Jeri Rogers packs coffee into family-sized packets.

Lakes Area Food Shelf facts: • Number of recipients served each month: Roughly 270. • Amount of food distributed last year: 286,883 pounds. • Percent of recipients who are children: One-third. • LAFS hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to noon. • How often can recipients come: Twice a month, with one week in between. • Service area: Crow Wing and Cass Counties, primarily Pequot, Breezy Point, Nisswa, Lake Shore and Jenkins.

Harley Simchuck donates a box of fresh vegetables during growing season.

and organizations. The congregations include Lutheran Church of the Cross, St. Christopher’s, St. Alice, Grace United Methodist, Gloria Dei, Our Savior’s Lutheran, Timberwood, The Journey and Pequot Lakes Baptist. “We’d be in a world of hurt without the churches,” says 91-year-old Don Messick. Don was one of the founders of the food shelf when Lutheran Church of the Cross and Christ Community Church started it up back in 1991. Next year will be the anniversary of his and the LAFS’s 20th year of active service. Don’s still at the food shelf at least three days a week. He’s the one who hired Carey as manager nine years ago; she swears what he really wanted was her “turkey friendly” pickup truck. LAFS is one of 300 food shelves in Minnesota. Why does that amount of hunger exist? A Minnesota Food Share fact sheet lays it out: “People are not hungry because the population is growing so fast that food is becoming scarce. 8

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Area Food Shelves Lakes Area Food Shelf (218-568-8474) Brainerd Salvation Army (218-829-1120) Crosslake Food Shelf (218-692-1004) Pine River Food Shelf (218-587-4500) Union Congregational Church Hackensack (218-675-6300) Money actually goes further than food donations because the food shelf can access discount products and programs.

“There is the argument of blaming people for their own predicament. Have they been lazy, made poor decisions and been solely responsible for their plight? Such causes of hunger are no doubt real but the deeper and more global causes of hunger are often less discussed. People are hungry because they cannot afford food. “Unemployment, low wages, lack of benefits, childcare expenses, skyrocketing housing and energy costs and high out-of-pocket medical expenses make many families and individuals vulnerable to hunger. More than 50 percent of adult food shelf clients work, yet they are still unable to make ends meet.” A couple in their 70s walked through the LAFS door one day with tears in their eyes, stunned to find themselves poor. They were victims of identity theft. Everything had been taken from them, Carey said. Everything. “It absolutely broke my heart.” When they walked out, Carey’s eyes were filled with tears. First time recipients find the process simple, respectful and confidential. A short form asks half a dozen basic questions. The premise is that if people say they need food, they need food. The only documentation necessary is a current heating or electric bill that verifies the address. With the 5-10 minutes of paperwork out of the way, volunteers begin bringing out boxes and bags overflowing with food. Nearly all first time visitors are amazed at the quantity. Eyes wide, they ask, “You mean I get all this?” What constitutes “all this?” A family of one-three receives 30 pounds of canned goods, plus 30 pounds of meat, fruit, milk and bread. A total of 60 pounds of food. A family of four receives 40 plus 35-40 for 75-80 pounds. The amount of food increases incrementally with the size of the household. The clients these volunteers serve are not

statistics. They are individu- help. “Be back Tuesday at 9,” Carey said. als. With stories. With fears. She’s been back every week for 2 1/2 years. Some embarrassed or She was there when a woman asked if she ashamed, believing they might have one of the pots and pans someshould take care of themselves. A number one had donated. When Dee said she was who were on the giving end till circumstanc- welcome to take more than one, the woman es changed. Many are veterans. It isn’t always began to cry. “I’ve walked out of here to hug easy walking through that door and asking a lot of people in the parking lot,” Dee says. for help. New people are often reserved but The Lakes Area Food Shelf inspires warm discover the folks behind the counter are a hugs. Tears of joy and connection. Prayers of friendly, nonjudgmental crew. Along with gratitude. Dee says, “As I drive out of the lot, the pounds of food volunteers pile on the I say a prayer for the blessed folks at the food counter, they offer smiles and kind words shelf and in the community who give their — food for the soul. time, their money and their hearts to help. I There are different kinds of hunger. Food am truly blessed.” shelf clients come with physical hunger. Volunteers come with a hunger to help. Lynn Biewer, from Lake Shore, has been HV a devoted volunteer for 10 years; Joanne and Don DuFour for two. Their son Scott volunteered there Carolyn Corbett when he was unemployed and Carolyn Corbett is a free-lance writthey joined in. er and editor who has published nearTender-hearted Dee Ebert found herself a newly retired, recent ly 200 articles in cruising, parenting and general interest magazines. Her web widow with extra time, so she site is at stopped by to ask if they needed

Food supplies boxed up by volunteers are ready and waiting, the pounds of food proportional to household size. WINTER 2010 | her voice

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by Diane Peterson When Jean Olson of Deerwood walks into a room filled with friends, everyone smiles as their eyes immediately scroll down to Jean’s hands. “Yah, dey are lookin for dah bag uhv lefse.”Their mouths begin to water. Why? Because Jean’s lefse is the best. When Ade and Jean Olson were married in 1964, Ade found a lefse recipe in the Star Tribune featuring “fake mashed potatoes.” “We had wallpaper paste!” Jean laughed. “We threw it all away and the garbage can was so heavy we could barely carry it out to the garage. Fake mashed potatoes equals swearing for me.” Jean decided to ask her new mother-in-law how to make real lefse. Practicing for several years, Jean was comfortable with her lefse in the early 1970s. Thousands of circles later, Jean has updated the original recipe (note: she does not use cream or milk), making it easy and tasteful. At first Jean was known as the Lefse Lady. In 2005, she decided to participate in the Barnesville Potato Day’s National Lefse Contest. There were approximately 10 contestants. “I was nervous,” Jean said. “My first lefse circle wasn’t the best. I thought, ‘Relax, relax!’” Contestants prepare five pounds of potatoes and make lefse for two hours. They select their favorite circle, place it on a plate with their contest number and the judges chomp their way through the lineup. Jean’s lefse won the national contest and resulted in a $200 prize for Queen Jean. Concern does exist that the newest generation may not make lefse resulting in fewer lefse queens in the future. Brooke, Jean’s 11-year-old granddaughter, makes lefse with her grandmother almost every time they are together. “She does a very good job when she concentrates,” Jean said. Yes, practice makes perfect! “Making lefse really is a fun and energizing project. Someday I think it would be a neat to do a video on You Tube so more people can learn.” Jean has made more than 300 pounds of lefse for Crosby’s Immanuel Lutheran Church’s fall bazaar. People donate potatoes, but Jean makes each circle herself. Queen Jean’s lefse has raised $1,200 - $1,500! Yah, you betcha yah know den: Because everyone believes Jean is the Lefse Queen, hundreds of circles disappear in just a few hours. Uffda, Jean’s dah BEST!

Jean’s Lefse 101 5 pounds of peeled potatoes Add approx. 1-2 T. salt to the water and cook until tender Rice (Jean prefers using a Foley Food Mill.) Add one stick of margarine (Jean loves Blue Bonnet), stir until all is melted Cool 2-3 hours Put two cups of riced potatoes in a bowl and add a scant 2/3 cup of regular flour. Mix with a pastry blender (which keeps the potatoes at the correct temperature). Note: “If you do not use a full 2/3rds cup of flour, you can add more when rolling the circles if needed. Queen Jean places a large pastry cloth on her counter, secures it with packing tape around the edges and puts a stocking on her rolling pin. “Wash your hands and roll the two cups of potatoes into 5-6 tennis sized balls, feeling the texture as you do it. Then pat the ball a bit.” (A total of five pounds of potatoes will make 20-24 circles.) Begin to roll the ball in a variety of directions to create the best circle. Remove cracks. Queen Jean’s secret: Always roll lightly. “When I taught my twin sister how to roll, she would press too hard. I’d have to remind her: lightly, lightly!” Jean laughed. 10

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There’s no shortage of laughs when Diane Peterson cooks with Jean Olson, the lefse queen from Deerwood.

Move your circle from the cloth to the lefse cooking pan with a lefse stick. Years ago a piece of a wood from a shade was often used; now lefse sticks can be purchased. Carefully slide the stick under the center of the circle. Lift the circle to the griddle and flip. Jean’s important suggestion: Do NOT set the cooked lefse directly on the counter. Use a cookie cooling rack and place a clean dishtowel on the top of the rack. Lay the lefse on top of the towel, fold the circle in half and place the other half of the towel on the top of the circle. “You cannot believe how much moisture comes through the towel onto the counter. If you place the lefse directly on the counter the moisture builds up way too much,” Jean shared. Continue to place the cooked lefse circles on top of each other, again, covering the top with the dishcloth. Visiting Norway twice, Jean observed that Norwegian lefse is thicker/dryer so it can be placed in a tin box. Water is splattered over pieces and wrapped in towels to soften. “It’s actually not bad,” Jean remembered. FYI: neither is Jean’s!


Diane Peterson A Brainerd area resident for 32 years, Diane Peterson and husband John now live in Battle Lake. Inspired by Her Voice, Diane began a woman’s magazine called In GOOD Company in the Fergus Falls area two years ago and is the editor.

photos by Joey Halvorson

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by Carla Staffon

cl ubs & c l u st e r s

The Brainerd Lakes Area Women’s Fund distributes grants to agencies that work with women and girls. Board members include: (left to right) Susan Heurung, Julie Ingleman, Deb Thuringer, Linda Hanson and Tami Lueck.

add our name to the growing group of women’s funds throughout the country. The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation is the parent group for the Brainerd Lakes Area Women’s Fund. “Traditionally, women like to be involved and are natural nurturers,” says Mike Burton, BLACF staff and adviser to the Women’s Foundation. Finding a group of women who wanted to be involved, not only with fundraising, but also with mentoring, nurturing and education was not difficult. The task was to get funding. In June, 2009, the first fundraiser met a challenge grant from the Otto B r e m e r Foundation. Thanks to the dedication and support of women and men in our area, the earnings

from the endowment will be used for annual grants. The mission of the Fund is to enhance the lives of women and children, involving women as leaders and donors in the process. The vision is: • To assist women and girls in building their personal and financial strengths so that they may live their best lives. • To help women and girls understand and utilize their giving potential. • To encourage organizations to see their services through the eyes of girls and women, photos by Joey Halvorson


Linda Hanson, senior vice president of Investments with Stifel Nicolaus Associates, watched her interest in supporting women develop into a passion. Chairperson for the Women’s Fund in the Brainerd/Baxter area, Linda, the mother of two daughters says, “I work in a field that is non-traditional for women and I’ve watched men mentoring men for years. Women need to support women, both financially and educationally. We need to give them seeds and teach them how to grow.” The Brainerd Lakes Area Women’s Fund empowers, teaches, mentors, guides and nurtures women and girls through workshops, one-on-one advocacy and annual scholarships. The fund is to be an umbrella or core organization that will disperse funds to agencies that work with women and girls. “We are a funding vehicle with vision,” says Hanson. “We are not another agency. Rather, we work with existing agencies that reflect our mission.” The first women’s fund, the Ms. Foundation, was born in the United States in 1972. Women’s Funds pool and raise money to give to organizations that provide support for women and girls. Today, nearly 150 women’s funds exist in over 30 countries. We, in the Brainerd/Baxter area, can now

Exhibitor Jody Peterson Lodge displays environmentally friendly products at the 2010 spring fundraiser. 12

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and work together to develop new ideas and initiatives. The funding emphasis is young girls, women in transition and senior women. In 2010, the spring fundraising event was held at the Northland Arboretum. With a theme of “Living Green,” over 20 exhibitors delighted the attendees with natural products, displays of plants, recyclable items, gifts, foods for purchase as well as learning tools. In addition, a wonderful array of area foods was prepared on site by local chefs. Last September, the Women’s Fund sponsored “Presenting Yourself,” a series of three, 90-minute seminars on securing an internship or a better job. Attendees learned professional interview techniques; presenting yourself professionally and interacting in business and social events. To donate your time or funds to the Women’s Fund, contact Linda Hanson at 218.825.8523 or Mike Burton at 218.824.5633.


Carla Staffon Carla Staffon is an advertising representative for the Brainerd Dispatch. She is the mother of two daughters. She is a member of the Brainerd Charter Commission and on the board of the Brainerd Lakes Area Women’s Fund.

Accomplishments • Matched a Bremer Grant of $50,000 to create the initial endowment of $100,000. • Expanded the Steering Committee core group. • Held a December visioning event for Women’s Fund participants. • Granted $1,000 for summer tuition at Central Lakes College for a single mom working full time while attending college. • Granted a $4,000 award series administered by Bridges of Hope to support women and girls with survival needs such as emergency home repair, moving expenses and school tuition. Goals • Award 5% of Women’s Fund endowment for the support of Women and Girls. • Build the Women’s Fund Endowment by $100,000 in 2010. • Build the Women’s Fund Endowment to $1,000,000 by 2015. • Establish bi-annual education/skill sessions to share, learn and mentor. • Re-establish a yearly Athena Award to be presented to a special woman each year.

Great primary care doctors. Great medical campus. The Medical Campus in Crosby.

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by Theresa Jarvela

emo t io n a l w e l l n e s s

Talking to William By Theresa Jarvela

t pho


I’ll never be able to tell William Patrick he’s Grandma’s boy. I’ll never hear him giggle or see him chase a butterfly. William Patrick was stillborn on Oct. 29, 2009. But if I could, I would tell him, “You were loved even before you were born, you’ll be missed and never forgotten, and St. Patrick’s Day, the day destined to be your birthday, will never be the same for any of us.” Nine months isn’t such a long time to wait, unless you’re waiting to find out the sex of your baby. For your parents, the temptation not to wait proved too great, so four months before you were born, they scheduled an ultrasound test. Earlier, on the day of the appointment, your father promised to call with the news, but when he did, it wasn’t the news I expected to hear. “They couldn’t find a heartbeat,” he said. In a split second, anticipation and joy turned to shock and disbelief. Plans crumbled and in their rubble only questions remained. Your parents turned to their parish priest and the hospital staff for answers to those questions. 14

y Ti o b

At your parents’ request, I made the trip to Bremerton, Wash., and upon arriving was met by your father who drove to the hospital where your mother waited for us and for what was to come. I hugged her, offered words of encouragement and felt her pain. When this long day ended, I lay in bed snuggled next to Destanie (10), Maddie (3) and Lillian (2). Their dog, Jackson, lay at the foot. During the night, I received the news from the hospital. You were stillborn, you were a boy and the cord that had sustained your life had taken it. In the morning, I made another trip to the hospital, and upon entering, I couldn’t help but recall that only two years earlier I had been in another hospital witnessing the birth of your sister, Lillian Therese. A much more somber juncture lay ahead for me. At the end of the hall in a special room, we found you lying peacefully in a bassinet next to your mother’s bed. You were wrapped in a blanket and upon your head was a tiny knitted bonnet in the color green. Your name was William Patrick, you weighed

hy mot



6.6 ounces and you measured 7.5 inches in length. So tiny, yet large enough to fill our hearts with love. William, I want to tell you that the world is filled with wonderful people, and it’s when you need them most they reveal themselves. So it was for us. With the help of caring people, a memorial service was planned and held in the Chapel at Holy Trinity Church. PTA moms along with the good women of the church furnished a luncheon afterward, and your family brought a cake, decorated in your name. But what I really want to tell you is how proud I was of your family. During the service, your parents courageously shared the letters they had written to you. It was difficult, but the tears helped wash away the sorrow. Your big sister, Destanie, read the prayer of St. Patrick and did such a fine job. I was so proud of her. I was even proud of Maddie and Lillian, rascals that they are, who made us smile, even when we didn’t feel like smiling. But what I am most proud of, William,

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is that your family recognized you for who you were, and not just for who you would have been. Many beautiful words were shared that day, and many more tears, but through it all I came to realize more than ever this fact of life. Pain is not selective. It touches us all. No one is out of it’s reach. When the day finally arrived for me to return home, I said my goodbyes, boarded the plane and buckled my seat belt. En route, I reached into my bag and drew out the prayer card that had been printed in memory of you. I sat transfixed by the last line: “We’ll forget you never — the child we had, but never had, and yet will have forever.” Two months later for Christmas, Grandpa and I sent your parents a wind-chime engraved with your name and date of stillbirth. It is called “Whispers from Heaven” and features an angel. We thought it would make the perfect gift. Now, when the wind blows and those chimes begin to tinkle, I don’t have to tell you whom they’ll be thinking of. They’ll be thinking of you, William Patrick.


Theresa Jarvela Theresa Jarvela lives in Brainerd, is a member of Great River Writers, Brainerd Writers Alliance and Sisters in Crime Organization.

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photos by Suz Anne Wipperling

by Marlene Chabot


Lois McCabe of Little Falls donates her time and talent remodeling vintage, wood dollhouses. 16

Remember how excited you were on Christmas morn to discover the bright, shiny, three-foot, two-story doll house sitting near the Christmas tree? The one thing you had been begging Mom, Dad and Santa for the past several months. Whatever happened to it? Did your sister Susie take it when her kids came along or is it still stashed somewhere on your property? By now that long forgotten dollhouse is probably in need of major remodeling. No problem. Lois McCabe from Little Falls does dollhouse remodeling for free. Yes, I said free. The only requirements for a free makeover are that the dollhouses be at least 40 years old and made of thick sturdy wood. “The newer doll houses are too flimsy to work with,” she said. McCabe, who started her hobby about two years ago out of love for children, begins the remodeling process by first tearing the old house to the bare bones and then thoroughly cleaning it. Once this is done she stands back and studies the structure to get the feel of what the new home should look like. No two are the same. “Sometimes it takes several days or longer to decide which way to go.” Everything Lois uses to create the interior and exterior of the house has a child in mind. For this grandmother of five and greatgrandmother of six, houses are meant to be played with not to just look at. “If the child breaks something,” she said, “there’s no harm done.” Lois, an only child, was born in Chicago and moved to Minnesota in 1956. “I spent a lot of time alone as a child and found many things to create while my parents were at work.” Lois said she left Minnesota temporarily when she remarried and settled in Iowa. It was while living in her new locale that she and a friend decided to create stained glass designs and taught themselves everything they needed to know. She still uses her stained glass expertise today when creating windows for the dollhouses. Ten years later, the mother of eight, five sons and three daughters, returned to Minnesota and went to work at the Little Falls Courthouse, from where she retired after 20 years of service. It wasn’t until after her retirement that Lois chose to pursue her hobby of remodeling dollhouses. The 70-something woman’s love for children shines through in all that she does down to the minutest details such as tiny cookies being baked in the oven or the swing set in the backyard. After seeing all that she’s created for her houses, you’ll want to turn back the clock and be a kid again. Lois acquired the first of five remodeling projects from a friend who had stored her daughter’s dollhouse in the garage for the past 30 years. This first house she worked on is proudly displayed in a corner of her own living room. It sits on a turntable and can be easily switched so a child can play with things pertaining to either indoors or outdoors. “My little grandson enjoys playing with the pieces. Sometimes things get lost or broken, but that’s all right. The dollhouse is meant to be played with,” says Lois. Many items you’d find in a real yard or house are incorporated in Lois’s display: sliding glass patio doors, a flat-roofed garage with an overlapping wood shingled roof, a fish pond and recessed lighting. When asked which of the five houses was the most challenging for her, the soft-spoken Mrs. Claus look alike gave an impish grin, “Each house has its challenges and all are kind of fun to do.” Currently, the only thing she hasn’t found a solution to is how to create a toilet. So if your old dollhouse is missing its bathroom fixtures, you’ll need to supply them. Plainer fixtures cost $20 and fancier $30.

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The houses Lois likes to work on the best are those in the worst condition. “The worse off the better,” she says. Her most memorable remodeling project was a house that had been in a fire and was water damaged. She shared before and after picture. What a transformation. With the help of her trusty tools, band saw, drill and Dremel with all the attachments, plus supplies she obtained from friends, Craft Direct and Marv’s Wood of Little Falls, Lois creates magic with her imagination. “When the ideas begin to flow, I lose track of time.” Since the remodeled dollhouses are unable to tell you about the wonderful things done to them with simple objects found around the house, I asked their architect/ designer to speak for them. McCabe’s eyes immediately twinkled with delight. “I use paper clips and patching compound for croquet sets. Patching compound’s also used for vegetable gardens. Balsam wood works for headboards. Toothpicks are painted to represent candles. Pebbles from my driveway are used for stone fireplaces. Cut straws serve as glassware. Toothpaste caps make great wastebaskets and stools. Craft sticks are used for wood floors, chairs and shutters. Nozzles from Super glue become lampshades. Buttons act as stove burners,” she says. After Lois finished ticking off the long list

of supplies she uses for her houses, I realized Now she’d love to volunteer at the library there was one popular craft item missing, and elementary school. popsicle sticks. “I don’t use them,” she Sue Roelandt had this to share about her replied, “Maybe I will someday.” long-time neighbor, “Lois is so artistic from Lois’ signed doll houses have included the what she takes out of the oven to her crefollowing: regular staircases and spiral, split ations of quilts, T-shirts, stained glass winrail fence, fish ponds, swing sets, ceiling fans, dows and dollhouses. There isn’t a challenge recessed lighting, marble vanity tops, frame she won’t take from someone.” for family portrait, laced curtains, carpeting, OK, all of you who own dollhouses that wallpaper, canopy beds, bookcases, fire- are 40 years or older, call Lois McCabe today, places, couches and kitchen/dining sets. She and give her a challenge. One that doesn’t said if the customer requests a yard, she usu- cost a cent and she won’t refuse. “Please tell ally includes a garage. “The only item I don’t people that I don’t remodel doll houses for include with my houses is a TV.” All of her show. Mine are for child’s play. I do this with houses have flower boxes and an address. the hope and anticipation that children will The address is taken from the remodeling enjoy them. These aren’t for collectors. The year. houses are meant for little people with little Was there any special type of house she’d hands.” You can call Lois anytime at (320) like to do now or in the near future? “Yes,” 632-4656. Lois said, “I’d like to build a log home, but I need lots of wood to cover the house and it’s HV hard to find scraps of wood that are flat on one side and curved on the other.” Before Lois got so involved with her new hobby, she Marlene Chabot filled her Marlene Chabot and her husband live in Fort Ripley. A frespare time quent contributor to area publications, she’s a member of the creating Little Fall’s Great River Writers and Sisters in Crime. She has written beautiful three Minnesota-based private eye mystery novels. When not quilts and writing, she enjoys reading and time with friends and family. stained glass windows.

Always A Heartfelt

Welcome! ...Caring & sharing with residents is an every day occurrence. 14211 Firewood Dr., Baxter • (218) 828-4770 WINTER 2010 | her voice

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by Peg Larson

s en io r s

First of all, ou our toes start tapping, our body starts sta swayin swaying, legs and feet begin a pattern of o steps to match the beat. Most people l are affected ff d in this way by hearing a favorite rhythmic song and the ladies of the Country Swingers are no different. We relish the joy of movement especially in the company of others. It doesn’t matter that the years are taking a toll, because the fun is the same as when we were little kids. The group was formed in 1998 and so far we have given 80 performances. We gather on Monday afternoons at the beginning of February at the Lakes Area Senior Activity Center to prepare a program of dances to present in the spring at the area nursing homes. We have the summer off and resume in the fall to prepare for a round of programs given during the holiday season. We all know the importance of exercise as our bodies age. Dancing causes bones to increase in density and become stronger. It involves weight bearing so it also improves balance and coordination. Dancing helps prevent falls and fractures. It improves men18

tal alertness too as the new steps of the dances are learned by repetition and then translated from the brain to the moving feet. Several women have mentioned that after losing their spouses or a loved one they found healing in the dance and the friendship of others. I found dancing to be a great help in recovering after suffering the injuries caused by a head-on car collision in January of 1993. My left hip and left leg were broken as well as both arms. I had a ruptured colon and diaphragm as well as broken ribs and fingers. I had enjoyed dancing in the Geritol Frolics for seven years when a friend suggested I try line dancing to get the old body going again. Dancing was truly a life booster for me physically and mentally. Sandy Chase is our dance leader. She was a former teacher and has the organizational skills and attention to detail that every group needs. She was asked to coach line dancing in the recent performance of “Marie and the Merry-Makers,” a group that sang and danced for the Nisswa Women’s Club 90th anniversary celebration. Sandy is kind and seldom criticizes our efforts but can direct with diplo-

macy and tact. We are all in our “golden years” or getting close and appreciate her gentle handling of our “egos.” Elsie Dotzler is one of the pioneers and founders of the group and can best be described as peppy and spirited — a very good dancer. Bonnie Kuzyk caught the line dancing “bug” at the Buffalo Run. Her husband had recently died and she sought out new activities. Bonnie is our music coordinator putting much of the music on tape and conducting the group in Sandy’s absence. Dorothy Keppers was Sandy’s right-hand helper. She called the nursing homes and other groups to arrange our gigs and made sure we would have an uncarpeted surface. Usually, activity directors are enthusiastic about having a song and dance group come to help fill up the many hours of programs they must provide for their residents. Dorothy would also be careful to confirm our visit the day before. She continues to carry on as our liaison person even though she had suffered the sad loss of her younger daughter during this time. Some health issues have interrupted her dancing for now

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From Left to Right: Sandy Chase, Judi Yerks, Marvil Beauchamp and Bonnie Kuzyk dance to entertain others and stay active themselves.

but we expect her back sometime soon to join us in the “Texas Waltz.” During our programs, we dance wildly to the beat of “Hog Wild,” Ski Bumpus,” “Tush Push” and “Boot Scooting Boogie.” Halfway through, we need an intermission in order to catch our breath so we sing. We choose old familiar melodies and many of our audience join in. Some folks are not able to speak but the words of the old songs come unbidden to their lips. An additional payback is the response of pleasure and smiles we get reflected on their faces. Not all reviews are positive however. One afternoon I was cruising along in the program, smiling and feeling pretty good as I hadn’t missed a step — not bad for an 86-year-old — when there was a loud whisper and I saw a bony finger pointing right at me and heard the words, “How old do you think that one is?” Hey, so what! Does it matter how old we are? No - we can still move and smile and make others happy and that makes our day.


Peg Larson Now 86, Peggy Larson is a retired social worker who lives on Rice Lake in Brainerd. She is widowed and the mother of four wonderful boys.

photos by Joey Halvorson

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Q WINTER 2010 | her voice

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by Sheri Davich

he r s ay

I love being a mom. I have been blessed with three sons. I wish I could have 30. Husband Jim and I had always planned on three children. Life has a way of surprising you though, and when I was 41 I became pregnant for a fourth time. It was unexpected. It was surprising. It was wonderful. I had no reason to think this pregnancy would be different than the others, uneventful, up until the delivery any way. Those were always exciting. I had all the usual symptoms. Even though I am a coffee fanatic I can’t stomach it while expecting. The taste, the smell, just the thought of coffee would make me queasy. One morning I woke up and I felt too, well, normal. I remember feeling a pang of anxiety, like something wasn’t right. But I had no cramping, no spotting, nothing to indicate anything was amiss. Soon afterwards Jim and I went for our 10-week ultrasound. I was so excited to see this little one for the first time. The technician spread that cold jelly across my stomach and slid the device across my abdomen. We watched the screen expectantly, waiting for 20

our first glimpse of the newest little Davich. There was only blackness. She slid the instrument around and around, searching, silent. And I knew. I knew it was wrong, all wrong. She laid the device down and excused herself. I looked over at Jim as the technician walked back into the room with the doctor trailing behind. He picked up the probe and again slid it over my abdomen. There was nothing there. I heard him say something about a blighted ovum, a type of miscarriage. My ears stopped working. Sitting on the examining table, I instinctively bent low over my knees. His words finally registered, and my reaction was like a physical pain, so extreme, for a moment I couldn’t speak, couldn’t move, couldn’t even breathe. I heard him say something about the virus that I had had before I realized I was pregnant. I had run a high fever, 104 degrees. He thought perhaps that had stopped the ovum’s development. When I could breathe again I began to gasp uncontrollably, big gasping sobs.

Anguish. Maybe it was the first time in my life I had experienced it. It is worthy of its own category. Jim led me out to the waiting room to schedule a follow up appointment. Another expectant mom sat waiting and I tried so hard to stop crying, aware even then that I was experiencing probably her greatest fear for herself. It was useless. Jim took me to our car. We drove by a Caribou coffeehouse and he asked me if I wanted to stop. I couldn’t. The idea of coffee just made me nauseous. I still felt pregnant, and the reality that I wasn’t flew in the face of how I felt. We went home, and Jim held me in his arms for hours. I cried until there were no tears left, and then I sat. We waited for a week for nature to do its work but I never did have a physical miscarriage. We scheduled a procedure to end what had barely begun. This procedure is virtually the same as what women experience when they choose to end a pregnancy. That day, as the medical people did what they needed to do, I lay there. I was aware of the sights and sounds of what was going on,

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but drugged to the point that I didn’t care. What got me through was imagining the any one of a thousand other places where I would rather have been than on that table. I could never imagine being there by choice. I asked one of the staff if they could see anything. She fidgeted, a bit uncomfortable, and responded that she doesn’t really see anything specific. She could never tell me what I really wanted to know. Was it a little boy? A little girl? Why did this happen? For days I went through the motions of my life, so tired, yet unable to sleep. I’d watch the clock. “3:05 a.m.,” the clock would read. I’d lay for what seemed an eternity. When I turned over to look again it would read something like 3:20 a.m. Time was what I needed, but it never passed so slowly, and I began to think my life would never be “normal” again. One night, when I was able to sleep, I had a dream. I held a little boy in my arms. He looked a bit like my eldest son, Sean and my youngest, Connor, combined. Beautiful. But he was sick. He was hot to the touch, flushed, his eyes were rimmed with redness. As he gazed up at me I sang to him. His eyes spoke to me with trust and love. He looked at me much like my sons did as I breastfed them. Something inside of me knew I would have to leave him, for awhile. I held him for a bit longer, kissed his forehead, and laid him gently down to rest. I gave him one last brush of my hand to his cheek and turned away. Just for awhile.


Sheri Davich Sheri Davich is a feature home writer for Lake and Home Magazine and also is a freelance writer for local, regional, and national publications. She lives in Breezy Point.



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by Judy Kuusisto

Kate Engelbrecht’s The Girl Project is a collection of photos taken by young women from all over the country who share something of themselves and their world. Kate plans to publish approximately 200 of the photos in a book next year.

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The first time I met Kate Engelbrecht she arrived at our house in the arms of her proud new parents. Later that evening my husband, Jim, whispered to me, “She is the most beautiful newborn I’ve ever seen.” Since that evening it has been my pleasure to watch Kate grow into an accomplished young woman who is as beautiful inside as she promised to be all those years ago. Kate graduated from Brainerd High School and received a B.S. in sociology from the College of Saint Catherine in St. Paul. In 1998 she moved to New York City where she lives today with her husband.

Judy: When you left Minnesota it was to work in advertising. Your focus soon changed, literally when you became a freelance photographer specializing in families and children. What made you decide to start The Girl Project? Kate: It was born from my own curiosity about teenage girlhood. A few years ago it occurred to me that I knew a lot about today’s teenage girls, despite knowing none personally and not having been one myself for a number of years. I was amazed that girlhood had become far more sensational than my recollection. It is hard to go a week without hearing about a new reality show detailing their dramatic day-to-day lives or seeing the most recent teen-celebrity scandal plas-

photo by Linh Huynh, age 15


tered across newspapers, magazines and websites. How could it have changed so much? Maybe I didn’t know teenage girls after all. Perhaps the information I was receiving was more fiction than reality. I decided in order to understand what female adolescence means in today’s world I wanted to ask them to communicate their own understanding and view of themselves through photography. J: So how does it work? K: Girls age 13-18 e-mail me and request a camera. Each girl has a standard 27-frame

thought about letting them e-mail digital files or upload them to a site. I would have been easier and less expensive. But using film and having the girls send it back undeveloped provided a candor that I could not have gotten the other way. If they had used digital they would have sent only what they wanted me to see. With film it involved more thought and faith on their part. Working with film is surprisingly unique for most of the girls, many of whom have never taken a picture without immediately seeing the result. J: Why is The Girl Project important to you

photo by Keana Flanders, age 15

disposable camera to shoot anything about herself and her life that she wants. The cameras get returned to me by mail, undeveloped, along with a release form signed by her guardian. The images are then scanned and all of the 4x6 proofs and negatives get coded and filed as does a brief questionnaire that some of the girls send back. J: Was it easy to find participants? K: In early 2007, I sent e-mails to everyone I knew calling for teenage girls living anywhere in the U.S.A. who might want to participate in a photography project. I received the names of only two girls. Then a few of their friends requested cameras and so on. Next I started calling organizations like The Girl Scouts, Girls Inc. and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. To my surprise, few people called me back. In late 2008, something amazing happened when I discovered Facebook. Due to the wide reach that social networking has given to me, I am receiving approximately 400 requests per month. J: Are you paying for the cameras yourself? K: Yes, in 2008 Kodak also responded to my request for support. Though they would not donate cameras they agreed to sell them to me at a significantly reduced rate. I

personally? K: It started out as a curiosity and evolved into a personal mission. Is it the worst thing in the world that our culture sexualizes and trivializes the lives of girls? No, definitely not. What happens every day to 90 perceant of the world is far worse. That said, long term I do believe it is a mistake to misrepresent an entire generation of young women, soon to be adult women. Teens have always been misunderstood but to be misrepresented to themselves and to others — I believe has and will have a negative effect. My hope is that by sharing this project, a new perspective will emerge and truth will be revealed. J: Have there been any significant surprises? K: I continue to be amazed by the amount of trust girls have in me — a total stranger. Even more amazing is the faith the girls have in the project and in all the other additional strangers I tell them will one day see their work. Though some girls shoot irreverently, a large number of girls shoot with remarkable intent to share something — revealing parts of themselves. They willingly invite unknown viewers into their private world. I can only assume that this openness reflects a generation of girls accustomed to sharing

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photo by Isabelle Briggs, age 17

their lives with people they’ve never met outside of the virtual world in which they participate. J: Is there anything you’ve learned during this process that’s particularly encouraging? K: These girls inspire me! I’m thrilled to know that the world will soon be in their hands. They are strong and creative and amazing communicators. It is sad to me how little credit they get. The media gets it wrong, and is intentionally salacious and dramatic and that’s what sells. J: Speaking of selling and sharing, The Girl Project book will be published in 2011?

K: Yes, so probably around 200 photos will be used. I look for great shots — interesting shots — but mostly I look for patterns. By including a diverse range of girls the project accesses a broad range of ideas. Girls from all over the country of all backgrounds, races, classes etc., and from urban, suburban and rural areas have contributed their work and there are some definite themes. When I edit, I obviously pay attention to that and want to make sure common experiences get shared. Also, the girls didn’t have to fill out the questionnaire I sent with the camera, but most did. Their answers were so honest and heartfelt that I decided to work some of it into the book. J: What will happen to the rest of the photos? K: I am currently looking for a home for the negatives (27,000) of them. I’ve had conversations with a couple of great institutions.

The book was the primary goal - but seeing the images in person is really amazing. My dream would be to have a traveling exhibition. J: Is there anything that’s changed about the way the project has evolved? K: Probably the way my goals for the book have changed. When I started I wanted to create something for adults. I wanted to reveal something important about our culture. Now, the book is really for girls. My goal now is for girls to see themselves in the book and hopefully feel heard and most importantly know they’re not alone. Says one participant, “It was much harder than expected to put my life into single frame photos. But I guess that’s the beauty of the project — it’s real and simple but complex.” - Kate age 17, Austin, Texas To learn more visit thegirlproject@gmail. com.


Judy Kuusisto Judy Kuusisto is an artist, illustrator, writer in the lakes area.

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t r ave l

As the smell of menudo began to fill the house, I asked our hostess, Rosa, if she still had family in Mexico. She paused her cooking and sighed. As she began to describe the constant anxiety and fear in which her brother and sister live with their families in Juarez, I regretted the unexpected poignancy of my question. I asked if she was able to visit often. She thought for a moment. “I haven’t been home to Mexico in eight years.At first, I was waiting until I had the right papers to cross without difficulty, but now, I’ve had my papers for almost three years and I’m just too afraid to go back, the danger is too great.” As she returned to cooking, Rosa said, with a certain resolve, “I remember when people could gather safely in the city plazas and children could play freely. People then didn’t live in fear and unrest. I prefer to keep these memories of my home.” I could sense that Rosa’s apparent strength was out of necessity for what she felt helpless to change. I looked at Rosa with a deep sympathy, knowing that I would never fully understand this feeling of displacement from my home or such intense and constant worry for the safety of my loved ones. Rosa lives in El Paso, Texas, the second safest city in the United States, just miles from her family in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the current most dangerous city in the world. I met Rosa during a recent “border immersion” trip 26

story and photos by Cassie Price Border Patrol officers explain the border experience by the wall near El Paso, Texas.

to El Paso/Juarez with the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, an 11-month program which assigns volunteers full-time service to the low-income population of Denver. During our four-day trip, we focused on encountering, face to face, people living at the border. We met passionate missionaries and activists, fear-filled mothers, dutiful border patrol officers and people like Rosa, trying patiently to get by. We traveled to the border not to do any particular service but to learn about issues affecting border towns, immigrants and specifically, Ciudad Juarez. On the night of Thursday, Feb. 11, my fellow Vincentian volunteers, program directors and I boarded a bus at “Las Limousines,” a Hispanic charter service from downtown Denver to El Paso. After a crowded, 12-hour bus ride, we arrived Friday morning safely, but exhausted, in El Paso. From the bus station, we began our day at a shelter for migrant farm workers. There, shelter workers described the difficult hours and minimal pay that farmers endure in order to provide onions, chile peppers and other staple crops at a low price for U.S. consumers. We learned that almost all of these workers were allowed in the U.S. as part of the Bracero Program from 1942-1964. This program was meant to stimulate the U.S. agricultural industry and provide employment with benefits for Mexican farmers.

While t h e Bracero Program laid a strong foundation for the U.S. agricultural industry, most migrant farmers and their surviving families have not received the financial benefits promised by their contracts. In order to provide a broader understanding of the border/immigration situation, our directors arranged a three-hour border tour with the U.S. Border Patrol. We were taken into “border patrol only” territory to see the newest fence built between El Paso and Juarez within the last couple years. It was eye opening to realize the regular humanitarian aid that border patrol provide to those who are dehydrated and hungry in the desert. On Saturday, we were dropped off at the border in El Paso. We walked over the bridge into Juarez to meet our day guide, Jim. Jim is an American, Maryknoll missionary who lives with his wife and three young children,

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The wall built between U.S. and Mexico, as seen from “Border Patrol Only” territory.

ages 10, 6 and 3, in Ciudad Juarez. His children love the school they attend. However, they are unable to freely play in the streets, spending their free time inside the missionary housing compound. It was both inspiring and unsettling to think of what their daily life must be like. During our day in Juarez, we visited with a group of mothers at a Catholic parish. These mothers live each day with great fear and anxiety for their children. They described the recent military takeover of the Mexican police force, revealing their fear that the military is just as heavily involved with the drug cartel and daily violence as the police. It is this growing cartel-related violence that has placed Juarez as the most dangerous city in the world. Since returning to life in the U.S., the growing uneasiness sparked by the conditions in Juarez and on the border continues to stir my thoughts. I consider more carefully the reasons why people like Rosa migrate to the United States or missionarys to Mexico. Most often, people do not want to leave their homes, their culture, or their language but with such bleak circumstances, they feel they must.


Cassie Price Left: A painting of migrant workers at Human Rights Center in El Paso, Texas.

Cassie Price grew up in Pequot Lakes and livevs in the lakes area. She received her bachelor’s degree in art in from the College of Saint Benedict in 2009. She served as a volunteer through the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers from August 2009-July 2010. Cassie is now doing case management for St. Stephens Human Services in Minneapolis.

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bu s in e ss

by Karen Ogdahl

In 1920, Fred Anderson and his brothers opened a dry cleaning business on Laurel Street in Brainerd. Ninety years later Fred’s granddaughter, Rose Anderson Feriancek, and her husband, Jerry, are continuing that family business. Grandpa would probably be surprised at how things have changed, but also how they’ve remained the same. Rose is the third generation of her family to operate Anderson Cleaners, now located on South 8th Street. She explained the history, “When the brothers went their separate ways, my grandfather, Fred, moved the dry cleaning business into his home, which is where our store is today. The cleaning was done in the basement, the pressing took place in the front, and the family lived in the back with bedrooms upstairs. We still use their original kitchen sink! My dad, Everett, took over from his father, and now it’s Jerry and I.” Rose Anderson Feriancek grew up in the family dry cleaning business opened 90 years ago. Now she and her husband are third generation owners.

photo by Joey Halvorson 28

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Rose never intended to go into the family business. “In high school I wanted to be a home economics teacher,” she said, but after college she changed her mind and returned to the cleaners. Rose’s knowledge of sewing helped her with the alteration service and clothing care. “I loved chemistry, which is so important to what we do. We are a leader in stain removal and it’s because we know what we’re doing. It’s not by-guess-by-gosh.” When Rose speaks about stain removal, it’s obvious she’s an expert. “Professional stain removal is not at all like what people do at home. For example, an ink stain must be removed gradually, bit by bit, layer by layer. Otherwise you would pull the color out of the garment. It’s time consuming and requires knowledge of professional products.” In the era of wash and wear, Rose points out that there are advantages to professional cleaning. “We have a customer who has been bringing the same clothes to us for years. Her black garments, which would have faded with home washing, still retain the color and body they had when they were new. People also like the professional pressing,” she said. A recent trend, Rose has noticed, is families bringing their regular laundry to be cleaned and pressed. “People are so busy,” she said. “They want their clothes to look good, but they don’t have time to do the washing and ironing. Also, we clean a lot of down comforters and pillows. We can make down pillows from old comforters and can make pillows from a down substitute that doesn’t flatten with use.” In order to keep up with current products and techniques, Rose has been active in the Minnesota Dry Cleaners Association, holding several offices, including state president. “It’s important to be able to network with other people who do what we do. I have made great friends. Many of the educational sessions were held in the metro area, so I started organizing seminars throughout the state,” she said. Rose’s grandfather could never have imagined that Anderson Cleaners would be doing business all over the world, but the Internet has created a wide customer base, especially for family treasures. “One of our specialties is heirloom cleaning,” she said. “We do everything from tablecloths and quilts to dresses. Many other cleaners won’t do heirloom work because it’s so time consuming. You have to know the fabric, the embellishments on the fabric and the types of stains. Once an item is cleaned, we package it in an acid-free storage box to preserve it.” Rose and Jerry have cleaned items from Europe and England as well as all over the United States. “We have a customer from Hawaii who has sent us her pillows three times to be restored,” she said. “We’ve connected with so many interesting people. Mostly they email us, but other times they call and chat for awhile.” Rose also treasures her customers close to home. “The best part of the business is the people,” she said. “We love owning a business that’s been in the family so long, and Jerry has a special talent for remembering everyone’s names. Some of our customers have been with us for years. We know their families and they know ours. They are more to us than just business — we have become friends.” “We’ve also had outstanding employees,” Rose continues. “They put pride in what they do and have stayed with us a long time.” What would Grandpa Fred think about the present-day Anderson Cleaners? Rose said, “My grandfather would probably be amazed at how similar the procedures are to those he used, but yet how rigid the safety and hazardous standards have become. I feel he would be proud that we have carried on the dry cleaning business that he started in 1920.”


Karen Ogdahl Karen Ogdahl is a retired English teacher and lives in Baxter. WINTER 2010 | her voice

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by Heidi Lake photo by Aaron Hautala As more and more women enter the ranks of the pharmacy profession, the face of pharmacy is changing. Women are graduating from colleges and schools of pharmacy at a higher rate than men. Resulting in a practicing profession comprised of a greater percentage of women. Here is one woman’s story.

We know the Schwartzwald’s as owners of GuidePoint Pharmacy, formerly The Medicine Shoppe, located near the railroad tracks on South Sixth Street in Brainerd, but their Laura Schwartzwald is a pharmacist at GuidePoint Pharmacy in story doesn’t start Brainerd. there. After getting married and graduating from pharmacy school, the Schwartzwalds moved to Wisconsin to gain experience managing Laura Schwartzwald looks back at the pharmacies at two different ShopKo locareason she went into pharmacy as a college tions. They then moved to the Brainerd lakes sophomore at North Dakota State University area where Mike managed the Pamida pharand laughs. Always strong in math and sci- macy in Aitkin and Laura worked part time ence, Laura always knew she’d end up in the while raising their two children, Kaileigh, health care field. As a freshman she majored now 20, and Dylan, 15. in anesthesiology, but decided it wasn’t right In 1997 Mike and Laura managed The for her. Medicine Shoppe in Brainerd and in 2001 “Then my roommate said to come into the bought the pharmacy — with locations in pharmacy program because the boys are Brainerd, Redwood Falls, Rochester and cute,” Laura said. Worthington. They changed the name to So she did. It was then that she met her GuidePoint Pharmacy in 2009 to reflect the future husband, Mike Schwartzwald, who premise of their company, helping guide supposedly needed tutoring in organic their customers, pointing them in the direcchemistry. “I told him, ‘If I do this, you’ll have tion of good health. The Schwartzwalds also to marry me,’” she joked. Little did she know partner in the ownership of Arrowhead two years later the couple would actually Pharmacy in Grand Marais. marry after they completed their last final Between all of the pharmacies, around 70 exam in 1987. 30

people are employed. The Brainerd GuidePoint has five pharmacists and about 13 employees. “We put everything we had into this business,” Laura said. “We wanted to make it how we always envisioned a pharmacy to be.” The Schwartzwalds desired to own a community, family-owned full-service pharmacy, where they do more than just distribute prescriptions to customers. GuidePoint offers cholesterol and blood pressure checks, vaccinations and medication therapy management, where a pharmacist reviews a patient’s entire medication regimen and addresses any questions or concerns. Laura enjoys interacting with patients and helping get them on the road to recovery. She remembers chatting with an elderly couple about their general health concerns, pain management and the medications they were taking. “I believe God put you in my life yesterday to help my wife,” the man told Laura the next day. “She slept through the night for the first time in six months.” It’s stories like that one that make Laura realize she’s in the right line of work. In order spread her passion for pharmacy to others, Laura became a preceptor — a teacher — to University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy students entering the field. “We built GuidePoint as a teaching pharmacy,” Laura said. “I want to take my experience from the last 20 years and show students how rewarding pharmacy can be.”

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Laura became a preceptor in 1996 and currently teaches about 19 students per year. The Schwartzwalds purchased a home to house the students while they train, usually five weeks at a time. Students are from the University of Minnesota, North Dakota State, South Dakota State and Appalachian State in North Carolina. “The students teach us so much. They have so many new ideas,” Laura said. Laura was recognized for “exceptional practice in the pharmacy profession” and named Community Preceptor of the Year by the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy in 2007 and 2008. While Laura teaches students hands-on everyday tasks at the pharmacy, she also coordinates the day-to-day filling of prescriptions at the Brainerd GuidePoint, while Mike usually sticks to office work, overseeing operations at all four GuidePoint locations. Every day Laura discusses hormone compounding — customizing dosage forms (creams and lozenges rather than pills) for patients going through menopause — with several patients, one of the perks of being a female pharmacist offering a service not available anywhere else in the area. In April, Gov. Tim Pawlenty appointed Laura to the state Board of Pharmacy. Laura represents rural Minnesota pharmacies on

the board and will serve a four-year term. The Board of Pharmacy protects the public’s needs and safety by acting as a governing board to all Minnesota pharmacies. The board establishes requirements for each pharmacy, makes sure the requirements are being followed and also handles disciplinary issues. “We make sure pharmacists are doing everything in the patient’s best interests,” Laura said. There are seven people on the Board, five pharmacists and two members of the public. “Being selected to serve on the Board of Pharmacy is such an honor,” Laura said. Laura also serves on the University of Minnesota’s Committee on Experiential Practice, organizes community clinics at local group homes and businesses, implements diabetic care centers in pharmacies and performs diabetic screenings at the Crow Wing County Fair. In the rare moments she’s not working, Laura enjoys flower gardening, golfing, reading and playing tennis. She and Mike also

like to take their family on vacation at least once a year. Their favorite destination so far is Barcelona, Spain, which left such an impact on Laura and Mike that they are now trying to learn Spanish. Because of their active role in the community and as owners of five pharmacies around the state, the Schwartzwald’s learned quickly that they must vacation in places where they don’t have cell phone reception. “We usually try to leave the U.S., otherwise we don’t get a vacation,” Laura said. Although their busy lifestyles don’t leave much extra time for themselves, the Schwartzwald’s wouldn’t change it for anything. “This is the life we always dreamed of,” Laura said. “We help people live healthier by being more informed about their medications, impacting the lives of our patients every day. It’s a great feeling.”


Heidi Lake Heidi Lake is the resident writer and Media Director at RedHouseMedia, an advertising agency based in Franklin Arts Center, where she specializes in print and social media copywriting. Heidi has a journalism degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead.


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no s t alg i a

by Jill Anderson photo by Dan Anderson

My daughter, Jamie, has an old yellow Tupperware sugar bowl she named “JoAnn.” Likewise, my daughter Heidi has a set of plain steak knives she’s also dubbed “JoAnn.” When their grandma, JoAnn, passed away a few years ago, these were treasures the girls asked for. That weathered plastic sugar bowl that sat on their grandma’s kitchen table for years, next to endless cups of coffee served to family and friends, holds more than sugar. It holds priceless memories. When my daughters mentioned to my mom they’d like some of her old movies they’d watched as children, my mom, being proactive, went ahead and ordered DVD copies for them. I’m guessing when my grown daughters watch those old classics they’ll bring back warm memories of snuggling on the couch at grandma’s house. What makes a treasure worth keeping? Why do we hold on to things as we do? Besides the obvious daily clutter we all try to muddle through, I think of family memories, those things we treasure from past generations. Priceless photographs of generations past? Old board games our parents might have saved from their childhood?


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I treasure my paternal grandma’s old knitting needles and knitting books. Never mind that I can only knit the most basic of items, unlike my grandma who made most of her own clothes. They are still a treasure worth keeping, something her soft, well-worn hands worked many times. Likewise, for a gift from my maternal grandma; a beautiful green stone rosary, each bead worried over many times by the same hard-working hands that fed us donuts as a fix for any of life’s problems. I don’t consider myself a “hoarder,” but I tend to save emotional things. When my children were born, I bought a newspaper each year on their birthdays. When they graduated from college and left for their own home, I had about 22 newspapers for them. And they didn’t care. They didn’t feel the need to see what happened on their birth date every single year. We have computers now that can tell them that information. In going through my cedar chest, I came across a plastic bag filled with notes I’d passed in high school to my girlfriends. It was great reading, remembering the boys and teachers we’d complain about, silly rules, what our weekend plans were, and my favorite part; “throw this away when you’re done reading.” Oh, if only my girlfriends knew I’d kept those notes for over 35 years! Then there were my diaries. Large spiral notebooks I started back in 8th grade (a Donny Osmond notebook was my first). I poured my heart into those notebooks for years until I became pregnant with my first child. Then I started diaries for my children instead. I gave them their diaries a few years ago, which I think they treasure, but there sat my diaries; a large stack of my every emotion during a tumultuous decade. After an old neighborhood friend passed away recently, my older brother and I reconnected with an old group of friends, planning a reunion for this past summer. It was then that I took out my old diaries and started reminiscing over the great times I’d had. What I didn’t expect to find tucked in-between those words were unrealized dreams, unfulfilled plans for my future, bad decisions I’d made and slowly, regret edged between the pages. I found myself spending hours reflecting on my “should haves” and longing to go back to my mostly carefree life and be given some ‘do-overs.’ When I voiced my remorse to my mother, she gave me some very wise advice. “Stop hanging on to the past. Burn your diaries.” So I did. It was an emotional decision, but one that was easier to follow than I’d thought. A lump formed in my throat thinking back to the thousands of hours I’d poured into those pages but it was also an uplifting experience. As I lit the match, regret was turning to ashes and the night air was spreading the happy memories I’d carry in my heart forever. When my brother and I reconnected with our friends and the past 30-plus years fell away, it was just like old times; those great memories were alive and well. I didn’t need ink on paper to hold them. What will mean the most to our children when we’re gone? For me, I’ve put in my requests to my parents; some of my dad’s old pipes he smoked when I was growing up, some of my mom’s albums she played back in the ‘60s and ‘70s when I’d hear my mom’s voice harmonizing with the music floating through our home. These things are priceless. And I wonder…what will my children treasure from me? One thing’s for sure, it won’t be my diaries.


Jill Anderson

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Jill is a frequent contributor to Her Voice and enjoys running and the outdoors. WINTER 2010 | her voice

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by Mary Aalgaard

What’s on your wish list this holiday season? What kinds of gifts are the most meaningful? Sue Meyer and her four sisters wanted to do something special for their mom, Betty, who turned 75 last August. Her daughters asked what she’d like to do to celebrate. Instead of a big party, Betty Miller wanted to take a trip with her five daughters. They thought maybe a cruise, or a warm spot with a beach. Betty voted for Guatemala. She had been sponsoring a child and wanted to meet him and experience Common Hope (, a Minnesota-based organization that provides for the basic needs of poor families in Guatemala. A sponsorship program for the children of poor families, they offer hope through educating at least one child in the family. If even one child is sponsored, the entire family is allowed to use the medical clinic. It’s not open to just anyone, no matter what your need, and education is not free nor available to every child. In a country like Guatemala, there are the extremely wealthy. They can buy any service that they need, from medical treat34

ment to an education. They continue to build their equity and prosper. They own the fields and the factories and the workers. There are also the extremely poor. Some of these people don’t have a bed, much less a house to sleep in. They wonder every day what they will eat, if anything. Betty’s Bunch, the name of their Vision Team, started their journey by collecting school supplies and sending them to a warehouse in St. Paul. Before they departed for Guatemala they had a packing party, where they filled their suitcases with supplies for the Common Hope Center in Antigua. Whatever personal items they needed, including clothing, were packed in their carry-on luggage. Yes, they did laundry while over there. Days that groups worked in construction were hard but rewarding. Their team helped the Guatemalan staff build a home for a poor family of five living in a home with a dirt floor. Carrying supplies up a steep dirt path, pouring the cement base, putting the walls together was a really dirty and sweaty job. Some groups helped in the kitchen preparing meals, taught lessons

in school, taught dance or made blankets and yarn necklaces. Sue said that this wasn’t an ordinary vacation for anyone. They didn’t lie on the beach waiting for a cabana boy to bring them an umbrella drink. They went there to work, to connect with the families that they sponsored and to make a difference. They built a small hut for a woman and her five children. Of course, this “house” is nothing like what we have in Minnesota. It’s more like a shed, fiber board nailed together, tin roof and a cement floor. The women of Guatemala weep when they step onto that cement floor because it shows them that this is a permanent dwelling. Judy Haglin, a friend of Sue’s from Brainerd, accompanied her on this trip. She said that you make sacrifices to go on a trip like this. It’s social outreach. It’s bringing hope and healing to the poor of Guatemala, and for these American women who traveled there. Was language a barrier? Yes and no. They had an interpreter with them much of the time. A few of the women had learned some Spanish, but as Judy said, “You don’t need words to trans-

late emotions.” They knew they were appreciated by the welcoming smiles and helping hands of the people who live there. They knew they had gained respect from the men when this group of women rolled up their sleeves, revved up the power drill and got to work. They weren’t afraid of getting dirty or working their muscles into stiff soreness. They knew just what the mother of five felt when she walked into that completed home. Her eyes glistened with tears of gratitude. The touch of her hands, the strength of her hug said, Thank you, Gracias. We are all mothers. We are all sisters. We are one family in a giant village called Earth. It answers the question: Who is your neighbor? At the end of each day of their trip, Betty’s Bunch gathered in their rooms. They stayed in the commons, bunked together and lived like college roommates. They reflected on their day, partly because they weren’t all together every day. Some helped out in the schools. Some went on home visits with the social workers. Others worked on the house. They talked about their

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(Left) Betty’s Bunch, including Betty Miller, her five daughters and friend, collected and distributed supplies and helped build homes, bringing hope and healing to the people of Guatemala.

fears, their expectations, and their experiences with the community. The teen girls thought it would be hard to go back home to their high schools and listen to other kids complain about petty things like not having the latest Ipad or fashion or not making a sports team. How do you come down from such a mountain top experience? They will do what all good missionaries do. They will spread the word. They’ll take back their experiences to their communities and friends. They’ll remember the impact of giving generously and living selflessly. For she who gives generously gains much. Betty’s Bunch also received gifts and invitations to eat with the (Right) Helping build a home for a Guatemalan family, Betty’s Bunch carried supplies, poured cement and constructed walls.

people they served. These people didn’t have much to offer, but what they had, they shared graciously. Kahlil Gibron, a Lebanese American who never received a formal education as a child, says, “There are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life and their coffers are never empty.” In the end, Betty’s Bunch bonded over their shared experience. They grew in faith and spread hope. They walk in peace, knowing that life is not about what you have. Life is about relationships and who is walking the journey at your side.


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

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en t r epr e n e u e r s

by Sandra Opheim photo by Joey Halvorson

holidays approach, gift-giving plans begin As the the h hol olid id making for Grandma, the grandkids, the with wi th the the list llis istt ma mak k finally the mailman. Business owners neig ne neighbor ighb hbor or aand nd ffin in are upbeat are upbe up beat at aand nd e exc excited xc about the holiday business boost in sluggish economic times. The city streets are beginning to show holiday flair on the light posts with candy canes, Santa and holiday bells. Oh, it is a terrific time of the year. Jolleen Meech-Yungbauer, a business owner who grew up in Staples, is involved with gift giving. The giving is of her time and talents to many civic organizations in Staples and is appreciated by many. Giving back to the community is important to her and second nature. “I do it without thinking. It is a part of my life and I enjoy it,” she says. Currently, she is the Staples Railroad Days coordinator, a chamber of commerce member, public relations volunteer for Sacred Heart School and coordinator of the Miss Staples Pageant. “I sponsored six pageant participants in this year’s event,” she says, “and I am glad to do it. It helps to involve more community members.” Jolleen has had the opportunity to try a variety of businesses, from movie rental to consignment of clothing to permanent make up artistry. Some were more successful than others. To date she is a licensed cosmetologist who owns and operates Simplicity Salon and Spa. Spa services include standard haircuts and hairstyles for the New Year’s Eve or Christmas Party and your everyday hairdo. She also offers permanent make-up, ear piercing, tanning services, body sugaring, and nutrition and health consultations. Within the salon is also a boutique with 36

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purses, scarves, belts, candles, jewelry, home décor items, and more. Her business ventures also include apartment rental and ministorage space. Her diversity in the business realm has helped her to stay in business. “The loss of my mom two years ago was a tremendous time of sadness,” she said. Her mom spent 25 years providing day care to Staples families. Her mom’s dedication to caring for children was a motivation for Jolleen to succeed. Jolleen is not afraid to try something new, even though it might not prosper. “My husband of 18 years is also very supportive in my ventures. He has helped rebuild the inside of the salon.” Her husband, Scott, and three children, Drew, Macy and Cole, are a big part of her success. “There were many times that owning a business took me away from my family. I had to work on the weekend and it was difficult,” she said. The gift that a mother can give to her children is the gift of learning through firsthand experience. She encourages her children to try new things. Her oldest son, Cole, offers a tube rental business to local Crow Wing River floating fans. He also builds childrens’ picnic tables with his younger brother, Drew. “They have done very well selling the tables,” mom boasts. Cole has also received support from an

area high school teacher, Kerry Lindgren. women’s expo and is getting prepared for Lindgren helped Cole to find the resources to another one soon. plant sweet corn on the family property by Holidays are exhausting with the shopgetting the corn from a special agriculture ping, wrapping, cooking and returning that program. Cole’s only requirement is that he big sweater that you’ll never wear. The persells his harvest at the local farmers’ market, fect way to close the holidays is with some yet another great learning opportunity. The pampering to prepare for next year. I bet family spends time canning delicious straw- Jolleen will help you out at Simplicity Salon berry rhubarb jelly and buttermilk syrup. and Spa. Give a massage a try, followed by These items are also being sold at the farm- a new short hairstyle, and finally spruce ers’ market. “Cole is one of the youngest those nails up for post holiday sales. Now, booth owners at the market,” Jolleen says. where are my shopping shoes? Their family property has lots of activity. The boys raise cattle and chickens. It is HV another learning experience. Cole has to fix fences to be sure the cattle stay in their grazing area. There are also the family pets of three dogs. There is something for everyone at the home of the Yungbauers. The holidays are a great time of year to host theme parties. Jolleen has a few party ideas. Her most recent is margaritas and makeovers and is a fabulous idea for bachelorette parties, birthday Sandra Opheim celebrations, and ladies night out. Sandra Opheim teaches English She has also hosted purse parties. in the Staples-Motley School District You may need that special clutch to and continuing education courses go with a New Year’s Eve gown for the University of St. Thomas. She and her store has a variety of styles. is a childrens’ book author and a freJolleen doesn’t sit still for very quent contributor to Her Voice. long. She has participated in the

Introducing an alliance unlike any other.

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anim als

As we enter another holiday season, we are reminded what it means to have family: to share the love of pets, children, grandparents and friends. Pets, especially, can easily embody the reasons for thanksgiving and peace. Near Crosslake I met Becky Forsman at her Newfoundland Dog Ranch in the woods. Gentle giants roam here with big soulful eyes and hearts of gold. The Newfoundland breed is well known for its sweet disposition and loyalty and is a great fit for families. Those who love large dogs gravitate to the Newfie’s gentleness and working-dog attitudes. In Newfoundland, where they originated, they helped fishermen haul in their nets and pulled carts full of wood.

photos and story by Suz Anne Wipperling

They have great instincts, are great swimmers, intelligent and easily trained. What’s not to like? Becky’s family owned a resort on Lake Ossawinnamakee, near Crosslake, when she was a teenager. She met her husband, Bob, when they both worked at Precision Inc. in Brooklyn Park. Becky was head of production, Bob head of quality control. She said they argued constantly on the job, about the job. After marrying, they moved to Ely, where Bob grew up. They lived in a 100 year-old house and spent 12 years remodeling it. The huge storm in 1999 landed a tree on their roof and all of their hard work was gone in an instant. Becky said, “We’re moving!” They found 10 acres within a mile of Lake Ossawinnamakee. To Becky, it felt like coming home. When a friend who raised Newfie’s called Becky for help with dog birthing, Becky shared her wisdom from when she raised poodles. She sat on the side, not wanting to disturb the mother while she had her puppies. Most dogs don’t want strangers near their litter, so Becky was surprised when the mom got up between birthing puppies and laid her head in Becky’s lap, look-

Becky Forman raises Newfies at their five-acre Newfoundland Dog Ranch, near Lake Ossawinnamakee.

ing up at her with beautiful eyes. Becky was hooked. She started out with Rachel and Roxy, puppies from Iowa. Soon she recruited her friend, Nancy Fenstermaker, to help. Nancy had never been a dog person until she met Becky’s Newfies. Now Nancy owns Goliath, a stud male and two female puppies, Georgia and Lucy, she fell in love with when one of Becky’s dogs had a litter. Nancy is a big help to Becky, especially when it is time for the females to give birth. Bob and Becky have four adult children. Becky says that she is grateful and touched that all of her children love the dogs. “People that love animals have wonderful hearts, so I was glad to see that in all of our kids.” The Forsmans’ Newfie Ranch is a neat and orderly oasis in the woods. The Newfies have five acres to roam and chase squirrels and chipmunks. The Forsmans built a pond with a waterfall at one end so the water-loving dogs could hunt frogs.

While going to press, Her Voice learned that Becky’s husband, Bob, passed away on Oct. 9, 2010. 38

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Bob built a tunnel from the nursery to the play area for the puppies. Here they can discover the world around them. Becky organizes “Puppy Love Days” for people to come and play with the puppies, helping to socialize them. She also brings them inside her home for stretches of time so they can get acclimated to the sounds of a household, like the roar of a vacuum. Becky’s friends call her “animated,” but Becky says she’s hyper. Both Bob and Nancy are calm people and when a crisis occurs, they help Becky keep her head. Puppies are available for adoption when they are 10 weeks old. Each adoption is hard on Becky, but it helps enormously to “friend” the new families on Facebook. Here she keeps up on the progress of each puppy. Becky has connected many of the adoptees to each other and now the Newfoundland family is busy giving each other advice, even though they’ve never met. Becky loves that these people are connected through her puppies. Word of mouth has spread and Becky doesn’t need to advertise nearly as much. People who have adopted her Newfies often say they are hooked and have adopted a second family member. “Once you have one Newfie you don’t want anything else,” says Becky. One year for Christmas, Bob and Becky drove puppies out to their new homes across the country, delivering love in fluffy black bundles. People on Facebook called Becky their puppy’s “Minnesota Mom.” They often send Becky pictures of the puppies as they grow. Becky includes a “puppy package” with each puppy adopted. Often people say they feel they are adopting a child and Becky would agree. The joke amongst her Newfie family is: “When you come to pick up your puppy, bring a box of Kleenex for Becky.”


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Suz Anne Wipperling Suz Anne Wipperling is a member of Brainerd Writer’s Alliance and Heartland Poets and has both poetry and photography included in a Bemidji State University “Dust and Fire” Collection. She is a regular contributor to Her Voice. WINTER 2010 | her voice

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he alt h a n d w e lln e ss

photos and story by Melody Banks

Doctor Jackie McCall (left) owns Midwest Family Eye Center, with offices in Baxter and Staples, where she helps people see better.

The primary focus of Jackie McCall’s business is the vision of her patients. Doctor Jackie, as they warmly refer to her, has been helping people in the Brainerd lakes area see better since she moved here in 1987. Doctor Jackie grew up in Max, N.D. The town’s name is somewhat of a misnomer with a population of only 300. Jackie’s father worked as a telegrapher for the railroad. The family’s means were modest. They lived in a small train depot that was cramped for a family of seven. There were only two bedrooms. Her parents had one, Jackie shared the other with three sisters and her brother slept in the living room. Before graduating from high school, Jackie knew she wanted to leave the small town. She recalls, “I wasn’t sure what profession to pursue but I excelled in math and science so I thought it would be something in health care.” Shortly after graduating she moved to Bismarck and attended the University of Mary. After three years of college, including two summers of extra courses, Jackie was accepted into Southern California College of Optometry. The idea of working in a career that helped people see better intrigued Jackie. “I started wearing glasses in third grade. It made a huge difference for me. By the time I was in eighth grade I wanted contacts so bad I worked and saved for two summers.” After earning a doctorate in optometry, 40

Jackie moved to Nisswa and worked for another provider before starting her own business: Midwest Family Eye Center. She leased office space for five years then built an office on Excelsior Road. She also has a second office in Staples. Anna Malikowski joined the practice as an independent contractor in 2004. She and Jackie both see patients at the Baxter and Staples locations. It has taken effort for Jackie to get to where she is today. In addition to working hard to operate a successful business, she has raised two daughters as a single parent. The young women attend college now. While there have always been challenges, Jackie feels she made the right choices. “I get a great deal of satisfaction from what I do but the part I enjoy most is working with my patients,” she said. Many patients have trusted their eye care to Jackie for years. Maita Raboin and her husband E. John began seeing her in 2005 after moving here from Bemidji. Maita was diagnosed with glaucoma years earlier. According to the Raboins, Maita’s mother, Florence, had glaucoma. Since one of the risk factors is heredity they thought Maita should be checked.

Glaucoma is pressure that builds in the eyes, if left untreated it leads to blindness. “There is no cure but with proper care and treatment it can be slowed,” Jackie said. Maita was using eye drops when she began seeing Jackie but she was sensitive to some of the medications, which limited her options for treatment. “We discovered with regular testing that, even with medication, Maita’s peripheral vision was shrinking,” said John. “Jackie referred Maita to a specialist in St. Cloud where she underwent a surgical procedure called a trabeculectomy,” John added. The surgery was successful and has considerably slowed down Maita’s visual field loss. Jackie was able to make all the postoperation checks for Maita in Baxter. “My pressures are normal now. With the low pressures, I don’t have to use the drops,” said Maita “but I do have regularly scheduled visits to check my pressures.” Eye health can be an indicator of a person’s overall health. “Diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, present themselves in the health of eyes,” said Jackie. “I’ve referred many patients to their physicians for followup who weren’t even aware they had any physical problems.”

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Fascinating Facts about the Human Eye: • The human eye blinks about 11,000 times per day or over four million times a year. • The eye, which is about the size of a ping-pong, ball contains over two million working parts. • Scientists estimate that the muscles of the eye expend the same amount of energy per day for adjusting to focal distances and light that the leg muscles would use to walk 50 miles. Jackie says. “The same risk factors that affect overall health — smoking, diet, UV rays and heredity — also affect vision.” Says Jackie, “People don’t tend to think about eye health. They may schedule regular visits to the dentist or doctor but wait years to have their eyes examined. Losing one’s sight affects all aspects of life. We shouldn’t take our eyes for granted.”





Hypertension and diabetes can weaken blood vessels in the eye, damaging the retina. Examples shown above.

Both diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) affect the health of the eyes much the same way they affect the heart, by constricting a person’s vascular system. “This is why people with diabetes and high blood pressure will often have heart attacks,” said Jackie. “The body tries to compensate for

decreased circulation by creating smaller weaker collateral vessels. The collateral vessels can bleed and leak fluid damaging the retina causing diabetic or hypertensive retinopathy,” “My staff and I try to impress upon people the importance of taking care of their eyes,”

Melody Banks Melody Banks lives in Nisswa where she works as a graphic artist and writer.

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he r s ay l i t e

photos and story by Kathy Schroeder

Winter has come, and with it my favorite time of the year: winter break. Tapping in to my accrued vacation as much as I can, I do my best to take a few days off while the kids are on break. This allows us time to simply relax and hang out together without me needing to push the kids to fit my next agenda item. No pressure to get homework done. No racing to eat something resembling breakfast before school. No covert skipping of sentences as I have one eye on the clock during nightly story time. Heck, even bathing is optional. But this quality time isn’t all tender moments cuddled together reading a book. The unstructured time allows my two boys the chance to find new and innovative ways to annoy each other. Creativity at its finest, I say. The last time we enjoyed this freedom was during summer vacation. That break had only just begun, and I quickly found myself uttering some memorable quotes, as I lay down new, previously unneeded household rules. “No putting toys in your underwear,” was the first. This rule had actually been in place in our house a year ago, but I hadn’t needed to reinforce it for quite some time. It’s been reinstated, due to the 5-year-olds decision to place his 9-year-old brother’s toys in a unique hiding spot. Chalk up two points for originality. Although the younger one instigated it, I’m not seeing a halo on the older one either. My 9-year old offers a look of utter disbelief as I discover his secretive efforts to irritate his younger brother. “Where did your brother’s favorite stuffed animal go?” receives a completely innocent, blank look at first, but soon a sly grin begins to appear and he skips off to retrieve the hidden puppy from who knows where. It’s a similar look I receive when I question why a completely empty box of cereal is neatly put away in the cupboard, or how in the world boogers end up on the bedroom walls. New rules need to be implemented faster than I can verbalize them. In addition to the rules, I need to change up my responses to annoying behavior to try and keep my patience from exploding. A recent long day of errands, accompanied by an extraordinary amount of poking, prodding and rounds of copying everything the other says prompted me to start a round of the “hold your breath as long as you can game,” a personal parenting favorite of mine. I figure at the least it buys me 30 seconds of quiet. At best, one of them passes out after deciding to go for the big win. This usually (but not always) sets them back on the course to brotherly love. That brotherly love has been on overdrive recently, prompting the newest rule: “No licking your brother.” Again, the 5-year-old has initiated and the 9-year-old is desperately reaching out for help. This rule is a variation on a rule passed a few weeks ago “No licking Mommy.” I still flinch if he 42

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by Jenny Holmes

photos by Joey Halvorson


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It isn’t likely Laura Ingalls Wilder would’ve ever dreamt her style would be emulated and sold to thousands of households across the United States via something called the Internet. But that’s exactly what’s happening daily in the living room of one Fort Ripley family. Jill Anderson, a 1988 graduate of Brainerd High School, has been sewing and selling pioneer-style and 1700s era Colonial-style dresses for girls over the last three and a half years. Once completed, her wares get posted, complete with description and photos, to online marketplaces such as eBay and Etsy where potential buyers can either bid or purchase the dresses immediately. The mother of five — ages ranging from 5 to 17 — had always enjoyed sewing and often made dresses and costumes for her own daughters. But it wasn’t until her husband of 20 years started feeling the slowdown effects of the economy in his construction business that she considered selling her creations.

As a stay-at- home mom, Jill said she felt that she needed to do something to help generate income. She started doing a bit of research online to see what types of costumes were selling, in what Jill Anderson turns a hobby into a web-based business, sizes and at what price sewing Colonial-style dresses for girls then posting them range. Knowing her on eBay and Etsy. girls really enjoyed the

“Little House on a Prairie style” dresses, she decided to market this type of costume to see what type of response it would receive. “What I made for my girls was very time consuming, with a lot of ruffles,” Jill said. “So, I started working on a pattern of something that was still flattering but didn’t take as much time.” Before long, Jill had four dresses posted to

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R E L A X . R E J U V E N AT E . U N W I N D .



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eBay; and much to her surprise, the first one sold within 20 minutes of being listed. The flurry continued as dresses were gobbled up as soon as she could list a new posting. “We hadn’t sold anything on eBay before, so it was a figure-it-out kind of thing. When I started I thought maybe I could sell about four a week and that’s the time I was selling about four a day.” Home schooling her five children and maintaining the house by day, Jill found herself working late into the evenings and on weekends to sew more product to meet online demands. “I gave it a shot,” Jill said of launching her business. “It’s been kind of a blessing. Sometimes it’s even busier than I’d like it to be,” she added with a chuckle. A simple try-and-see project has become a family opportunity. Husband, Tom, has stepped in to help with home schooling and cooking so Mom can find more hours in the day to sew. And now, 17-year-old daughter Emily, has launched her own online business, making simple bonnets from Mom’s scraps, then selling her own listings under her own username, taking her own pictures and handling her own transactions. “She’s a pretty good seamstress,” Jill said of her daughter. “It’s been fun to watch her become an entrepreneur.” Even youngest daughter, Elsie, lends a hand by modeling dresses in Jill’s online photos. Jill and family have discovered that, while it certainly can have its drawbacks, selling online is the way to go with a small, home-based business. “For something that’s a specialty like this, the Internet is a great place. I probably couldn’t sell a lot locally, but you have this great marketplace online. So it’s really a great niche for me to be able to do that and have a great customer base.” Jill has found that her busiest time is during the nine months of the school year. Her primary purchasers are those looking for costumes for Pioneer Days events or field trips to old school houses when young girls want to dress up to fit the part. Halloween also results in a jump in sales. Jill realizes the sky, truly, is the limit in creating and selling dresses and costumes online, but at this point she isn’t looking to expand her business. She plans to continue with the American historical period dresses and selling them through the growing online marketplace. While eBay has been popular, Jill said sites like Etsy, where only handmade goods can be sold, allow her to branch out and reach an even larger virtual audience. “You learn to do business the best and least expensive way,” Jill said, noting there are little to no overhead costs associated with online stores with the exception of your listing and selling fees. “You just have to work that into your costs.” The Anderson family has also learned that eBay can be a great way to make a few extra bucks by listing and selling other items, including merchandise picked up at garage sales that could be made into profit or even things just lying around the house. “I know there are lots of moms out there like me who are looking to find what they can do. I just feel like if you can find something that you’ve been doing, or like to do, it will be more successful. I feel lucky I was able to take something that I like to do and make money from it and still be able to stay home. I feel blessed in that respect.” To see Jill’s dresses for yourself, visit or


Jenny Holmes Corner of 7th & Laurel Downtown Brainerd 829-7266 46

Jenny Holmes is a former reporter with the Brainerd Dispatch and recently started her own free-lance public relations and communications company. She lives in Nisswa with her husband, two children and dogs.

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Her Voice Nov. 2010