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Inside: • Posthumous Prose and Poetry • A Queen of H.A.R.T. • Knitting for Baby

by women… for women… about women…


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Contents Features



Two Sticks and Some String . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 This woman was knitting long before the arrival of her grandchild – now she shares what she knows about baby knits


by Judy Kuusisto

A Path of Service and Hope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Kathy Gaalswyk has impacted more than the economies of central Minnesota—read her story. by Carolyn Corbett

Posthumous Prose and Poetry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Be inspired by Pat Kehr who lived with cancer and wrote about it. by Pat Kehr

The Other Woman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 A sister writes about her brother’s search for his birth mother. by Jill Anderson

A Renaissance Woman - Twyla Flaws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32


A woman in the minority at her work, Twyla Flaws expands her world to include a wide range of interests. by Sheila Helmberger

The Healing Power of Touch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 This woman can bring the healing power of touch into your home. by Jenny Holmes

In This Issue 28

generations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

health field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

animals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12


in the minority . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

bon appetit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

witty woman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

entrepreneurs . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

her say . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

3 G e n e ra t i o n s o f Wo m e n W h o S ew by Becky Flansburg

A Queen of HART by Melody Banks

They Call Her the Pit Bull by Kathleen Kr ueger Ramblin’ Family by Jennifer Ander son

40 42

S t a g i n g Yo u r H o m e by Mar lene Cha bot

clubs and clusters . . . . . . . . 26 Friday Study Club by Joan Hasskamp

wellness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

Coping With COPD by Audrae Gr uber


Kid Logic by Kathy Schroeder


Cooks of Confection by Bever ly Marx

Be Careful, It’s My Heart by Bettie Miller A u R e v o i r, E r i c a K a n e by Jan Kur tz

C o v e r p h o t o b y J oey Halvorson On the cover: Three generations of women own and/or operate Countr y Fa br ics , Brainerd, celebrating over 40 year s of business .

C a m p G e t - A - We l l - A by Mar y Aalgaard

the arts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Dreaming on Ice by Theresa Jar vela


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fr o m t h e e d i t o r

Survey Says


While Dispatch readers don’t hesitate to tell us what they think in letters to the editor or Vox Pop, we wanted some specific feedback on Her Voice from Dispatch readers. After our planning committee developed a short survey, it was emailed to approximately 25,000 readers in December. Bear with us as we learn how to use our newly acquired survey software.

According to Nikki Lyter, marketing coordinator for the Dispatch and art director for Her Voice, the 238 responses came flooding in. Over a week’s time we learned more about you and what you want from a magazine. While not statistically significant, what follows are some results from the 83 percent of you answering the survey. Judging from the responses, most survey responders are, no surprise,

By the numbers: Gender: 84.5% 15.5 % Age: 0-34 35-54 55 and over No answer

female male 5% 39.5% 55% .5%

women over 50 who live in the Brainerd/Baxter area, like reading a magazine they can hold and want Her Voice to stay as is. But we’re also interested in the nearly 45 percent in a younger demographic. This edition’s cover story, Three Generations of Women Who Sew, profiles a recent design graduate who wants to “banish the stigma of quilting as archaic.”

PUBLISHER Tim Bogenschutz EDITOR Meg Douglas ART DIRECTOR Nikki Lyter PHOTOGRAPHER Joey Halvorson






Home: 73% in the Brainerd/Baxter area How access the magazine: 4.3 % online 85.7 % magazine insert in the newspaper Response to colored pages and design: 81.5% found color enhances the magazine. Survey responders who patronize advertisers: 69 percent, 78 percent read the ads.



The majority of comments were positive, but for the purpose of transparency, I’m including a diverse sample. “I really enjoy Her Voice, we have so many amazing women in this area.” “Don’t fix what isn’t broken.” “I read it from cover to cover, then pass it on. “I like to have it in my hands.” “I like reading about people I know or know of. Other comments give us something to think about: “patronizing to aim (a magazine) at women.” “Seems to be all same contributors and people.” “This is Her Voice, how about a His Voice?” “I only get the Sunday paper, so don’t see it.” “Why not offer subscriptions to Her Voice?” To all those participating in our survey, thanks for your input. At this point, financial constraints keep us from inserting the magazine on Sunday or creating a His Voice, but these ideas and others will keep us talking and planning for the future. We are currently looking at offering Her Voice as a subscription, a survey suggestion. As always, anyone with more story ideas, more HV suggestions or who want to contribute stories, contact

Meg Douglas, Editor



• 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 NINE, EDITION ONE SPRING 2012

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by Becky Flansburg

photos by Joey Halvorson

(Left to right) Deb Burton owns and operates County Fabrics, Brainerd with the help of her daughter Steffani. Deb’s mother, Lou Rademacher, first started the enterprise as a home-based business. SPRING 2012 | her voice

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“I love it when young girls come up here for the first


I vividly remember, “back in the day,” my mom sewing us kids Barbie Doll clothes, Halloween costumes and occasional jammie sets. The seams weren’t always straight and the colors weren’t always hip, but we always knew it was made with love. Sewing years ago was born of necessity. Back then there were no big box stores to run to if you lost your mittens or blew out your pants. There were also no specialty shops to buy from if you were blessed/cursed with long legs and a short waist. Deb Burton, owner of Country Fabrics of Brainerd has those same memories. “I remember my Mom started sewing because I was long and lanky as a child and finding clothes for me that fit right was difficult.” Mom Lou Rademacher’s love of sewing quickly became a hobby, then a home-business, then a storefront. “Dad was getting a little irritated with the bolts of fabric laying around the house,” laughs Burton. “The last straw was when we turned his pool table into a cutting table!” Forty years later, Burton is passing down her mother’s legacy and love of patterns and fabrics to her daughter, Steffani who is now their store manager. “Steffani joined the business about two years ago and it’s been 8

‘I want to sew s

an amazing move for us.” Burton adds. A graduate in design, Steffani is quick to add “I want to banish the stigma that quilting and sewing is stale and archaic. It’s not just about traditional colors and fabrics anymore.” The third floor of their South Sixth Street location is Steffani’s studio and it’s bursting with colors, projects and patterns intended to target the more youthful crowd. Steffani and Deb are both determined to appeal to the younger generation of future sewers. The same generation of girls who used to “wait in the car” while their moms shopped are now venturing up to the third floor and getting the sewing bug. Steffani points out hip and trendy purses, stuffed animals, aprons and pocketbooks. “I love it when young girls come up here for the first time, look around, and say ‘I want to sew something too!’” Country Fabrics recently celebrated 41 years in business and this year in particular has brought some exciting events and honors for the sewing duo. Their shop was chosen as one of 11 featured shops across the United States for the fall of 2011 issue of Quilt Sampler magazine, published by Better Homes and Gardens. “It has been a tremendous honor for us and our staff,”

Burton proudly adds. “We were in the running with nearly 3,000 other quilt shops nationwide. We couldn’t be happier to be chosen.” Steffani also has had some notoriety with one of her handbags designs. Her Drop-Top Messenger Bag design was chosen for the cover of Stitch Magazine’s fall design issue. The last few years have had many triumphs, but many struggles as well for the Burtons. Buyers are constantly tempted by the lure of the Internet and on-line companies that pop up out of nowhere selling fabrics and patterns. “For us, visibility and customer service is huge,” says Burton. “Despite the trends and the changing of the times, customer service will never go out of style and we know that.” The Burton’s strive to set themselves apart from their on-line competition by offering fun events, classes and even bus tours to sewing-related destinations. “The Internet is a game-changer,” Steffani adds. “But we are evolving with the times and utilizing tools like blogs, Facebook, email newsletters, and Flickr to keep our customer base informed.” “We love our customers,” Burton adds with a smile. “It is so rewarding to have a customer work with you to pick out fabric

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time, look around, and say

w something too!’”

for a project and then have them take the time to stop back at our store and show us the finished product.” Both Deb and Steffani agree they are proud of the sense of community they have created with their customer base as well. “Sewing can be a very lonely hobby. It’s fun to see new friendships formed at our classes and events that carry forward into everyday life.” When I asked what both ladies do to unwind after a long day at work, both laughingly respond, “We sew!” Mother and daughter sew together nearly every day. They begin first hour of the day before the shop opens sewing, and often end the day the same way. They enjoy the creative aspect, and both Burtons admit they eat, breathe and sleep it. “We’ve been in business so long because we both still have the passion for it. Sewing and creating still excites us, and we are eager to share our knowledge.” For more information:


Becky Flansburg

Becky Flansburg is a veteran blogger, freelance writer and social media junkie. She is also a dedicated wife and mom and team family is No. 1. You can find Becky at www.lakesareamomsquadblog. com or

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by Judy Kuusisto


In May of 2011 I achieved the one job description I’ve sought since the age of 5. That was when I told my mom that I’d decided to give up my plans to go to Hollywood and become a famous movie star. Instead, I informed her, I was going to stay home and become a plain old mother like her so that I could become a grandmother one day. My mom remembers the part about plain and old which must’ve rankled someone so young, vivacious and accomplished, but there’s no doubt that I’d figured out who had the best career. It took a while for me to figure out that I would need cooperation from others to achieve my goal. So, in the meantime, I’ve been honing my many varied skills for this dream job, and one of them is knitting. I love knitting. Like many other passionate knitters, I’m forever grateful that it is legal; even on airplanes.

photos by Joey Halvorson and Kaari Kuusisto 10

Knitting gives a person something to do with one’s hands in all sorts of situations. It is satisfying on many levels and, unlike many other artistic or craft pursuits, knitting is quite portable. My sister Marcia and I can often be found comparing notes about our latest projects and talking our way through difficult patterns. It is an excellent stress reliever, although it is probably wise to keep checking one’s pattern to see if the tension in your stitches is right. Years ago, during a particularly difficult month, I knit a sweater for my then 10-year-old son that was far more like a suit of armor for a two year old. It was a good thing he

An experienced knitter, Judy Kuusisto loves knitting for her granddaughter, Katja (left and right). Baby Kennedi models a stylish sweater hand-knit by her mother’s co-worker.

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could not get his head through the neck opening because he would never have been able to bend his arms. My first knitting project was a poncho. I made it in 1972 when I realized that my burgeoning tummy was not going to be easily contained in my only winter coat. Ponchos were a fashion statement at the time and mine proved popular enough that I quickly had requests to make several more. I didn’t make anything for my babyto-be; there were grandmothers and great-grandmothers busily engaged in that activity. I had no idea how lucky I was and no idea how many things babies need. Nor did I know how fast they grow. The fact is, babies need lots of stuff and none of their clothing fits for long. Knitting for babies and toddlers is very satisfying. There are definite advantages to making things for people too young to have formed definite opinions about what they want to wear each day. It is a kindness, however, to consider the tastes of the parents when planning a project as well as the child’s sex, hair color and skin tones. Not everyone likes pink and baby blue, and in fact, babies look great in bright colors as well as pastels. Little ones love to explore with their eyes, mouths and fingers. Hand knits provide a wonderful way to have fun with color and textures. Decorations like securely fastened on buttons, applique and embroidery can add to the experience. Yarn manufacturers are constantly coming up with new ways to tempt the both giver and the recipient. Soft fibers, in natural and synthetic, are easy to find. There are even “green” yarns being made from recycled and renewable materials. Machine washable yarns, even wools, are bound to be appreciated by new parents, and including washing and care instructions along with the item when gifting is often suggested. Knitting shops, bookstores and the web are excellent resources for finding yarn and inspiration. Books by amazingly talented knitwear designers may include patterns for everything from pacifier holders to nursery décor, toys, blankets, sweaters and hoodies for all seasons. When choosing a pattern, it is a good idea to consider size. Knitting clothing a little big and roomy allows for comfort and easy dressing. At A-Z Yarn store, owner Joanie Ledahl said “I always like knitting for babies because if it is too big it will fit eventually. The pressure is off!” Located in the Crossing Arts building in Brainerd, this welcoming new store should become a mecca for knitters of all skill levels. The class offerings are excellent, the yarns are beautiful, and the setting makes it a great place to spend quality time with other friendly knitters, as well. Yes, another of knitting’s potential joys is the company. When I asked other knitters gathered around Joanie’s big table one afternoon to tell me why they enjoy knitting for the youngest people in their lives, two themes came up repeatedly. “I knit for my children and grandchildren because they are keepsakes that can be handed down through the generations,” said Bonnie Lewis. Darlene Stone noted, “As you are physically working on these things you remember days gone by. You are reminded of the simple joy of making something out of nothing.” Indeed, seeing sweaters I knit for great-nieces in years past on cousins as they are passed down from one to the next is a tribute to good quality yarn and a versatile pattern when several kids can wear an item. However, I can’t imagine anything more satisfying to a knitter than seeing a beloved sweater or blanket, worn to shreds, reluctantly exchanged for a new one. Happily, it doesn’t require experience or advanced skills to knit for babies and toddlers. This is not to say that knitting an heirloom christening gown should be discouraged. I can’t imagine anything more wonderful than having one in the family. Once you have reached an advanced level and are attempting something more complicated, I’ve found it helps to have a knitting pal. My sister Marcia

and I can often be found comparing note on our latest projects and talking our way through difficult patterns. But don’t be discouraged if you are just starting out! Simple projects like soft, hand knit washcloths are practical, gratefully accepted and always needed. One of my favorite knitting authors, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, in her book “At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much,” shares some insight for would-be knitters. “Everybody tells me they would love to knit,” she says “but they don’t have time. I look at people’s lives and I can see opportunity and time for knitting all over the place. The time spent riding on the bus each day? That’s a pair of socks a month. Waiting in line? Mittens. Watching TV? Buckets of wasted time that could be an exquisite lace shawl.” Recently, as my granddaughter and I were snuggled under one of her hand knit blankets, I thought about how turning a piece of string into something for my grandchild, great-nieces, nephew and other little ones will wear or wrap themselves in is a definite perk to the greatest vocation of all. Good-bye, Hollywood, Hello Baby Katja!


Judy Kuusisto

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

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an i m a l s

story and photos by Melody Banks


One of the first things a person will discover when they meet Terry Fischer is her love for animals—especially dogs, cats and horses. The high-spirited, outgoing woman has a commitment to four-legged, furry friends that dates back to her early childhood. “I grew up near Elbow Lake. We lived close to both sets of my grandparents. We always had animals and each of us, my mom, dad, sister and I, had a horse. We kept the horses at our place during the summer and at my grandparent’s farm in the winter,” Fischer says. “My whole family rode. We would ride the horses 10 miles back and forth from and to my grandparent’s place in the spring and fall. Mom was an excellent rider. She’d ride bareback. I can remember watching her gallop off down the road to the neighbor’s for a visit.” Terry is quite a horsewoman herself and has ridden many spirited horses in her time. Starting with her first horse, Joker, which her grandfather bought for her when she was a teenager. “Grandpa and Grandma were at a nearby rodeo. Two people came in riding this bucking little Paint,” she says. “His hooves were painted bright red. Grandpa turned to Grandma and said ‘We need to buy that horse for Terry.’ Grandma was shocked but they bought him. You never could ride Joker 12

HART volunteer Terry Fischer with her dogs, Shooter (Left) and Gunner.

with two people. He would buck every time!” Terry has a soft spot in her heart and remembers every animal she’s owned. She vividly recalls her first loss. A cat named Tippy. “One day Grandpa was driving us home from school we saw a cat lying beside

the road. We knew by the white tip on his tail that it was Tippy,” she says. The last animal Terry had to part with was Dusty, her first and very beloved Tennessee Walking Horse. Terry rode Dusty in many Nisswa Jubilee and Freedom Day Parades. Some have commented they remember see-

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ing her ride Dusty with Golden Retriever, Brittney, following close behind, along Highway 371. “Dusty was 27 years old. For the last several years I tried several types of feed and supplements to keep weight on him,” she explained. “Finally in December of 2010, I knew it was time to call the vet and let him go. The winter would just have been too hard on him.” Part of owning and loving a pet is saying goodbye to them someday. Terry understands there are times when owners may find they cannot keep a pet. “It is important to have a safe place for these animals,” she says. That is why she became involved in Hoofin’ It for HART in 2000. Terry and her late husband Duke bought Marv Koep’s Bait Shop (the current location of Motor City) and moved to Nisswa in 1992. They ran the business until 1995 when Duke was diagnosed with lung cancer in April. He died just two months later. In 1997 Terry began working at the Pickle in Nisswa as a cocktail waitress. She’s found it has opened the door to many wonderful friendships and people she can approach for donations. “I’ve only missed one walk,” she says. “That was when my mom died. She was sick and in the hospital.” Donna Wambeke, executive director of HART, says animal lovers like Terry are

exactly the kind of people they need to help provide their programs and services. “Terry has been our largest individual fundraiser every year and she has won every prize we’ve ever given!” One year she raised over $5,000. In addition to providing a haven for surrendered or abandoned animals, HART provides educational services and programs. “We offer programs on responsible pet ownership and have a very popular program for kids,” says Wambeke. “Volunteers are an important part of what we do. Donations are very important but so are those who can give of their time.” Wambeke is excited. This year is a milestone anniversary for HART. “We will kick off our 25th anniversary at the Walk on May 5. Our goal is to raise $25,000 in honor of 25 years,” she said. “We’re in the process of planning several events including an Open House with a petting zoo in August.”

If Wambeke is lucky enough to have volunteers like Terry involved, she should have no trouble reaching the goal. She may even exceed it. Today Fischer and her partner, Jim Blunt, live at their quaint Gull Dam Ranch. Terry has four cats, two dogs, three horses, a burro and a pony. If she had room, she’d probably have others but no matter how many she has she’ll continue Hoofin’ It for HART. to help raise funds for as long as she can. “I do it,” Fischer explains, “for the animals.”


Melody Banks

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

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

by Kathleen Krueger


A female project manager running a construction site is a rare spectacle, even in the biggest cities. It is even less expected in the Brainerd lakes area. Yet, one of the most experienced and sought after project managers in the area is Laurie Meller and she has been for over 20 years. It has been her demand for excellence and on-time performance from her work crews that has earned her both their respect and the occasional nickname of “Pit Bull.” “I’m not afraid to make a decision—and that is beneficial in my industry…” Laurie told me. “When I said something was ready, it was ready.” It really is no surprise that Laurie ended up in the construction field; it runs in the family. Her father and grandfather were both carpenters and her two brothers now run the family construction business. It wasn’t Laurie’s original intention to follow the family trade when she graduated from high school, though.


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“During my high school senior year, my girlfriend and I went to St Cloud with the intent to sign up for beauty college. Somehow, I ended up at the Technical College and came home enrolled in the Building Construction, Drafting and Estimating program!” After completing her schooling, Laurie took her first construction related job at Lampert Building Center in Brainerd. She worked there for about seven years before taking her job with Kuepers Architects and Builders of Baxter, Minn., where she began her career in estimating and project management. When I asked Laurie to look back over the years and tell me what was her favorite part of her experience working as a project manager at Kuepers and, now, with The Hearth Room, she had a hard time pinning it down. “Although I love the whole project and taking it from start to finish, looking back now, I think I’d have to say that what I do in my current role at The Hearth Room is really the part of my career I’ve enjoyed most. Maybe it’s just a fresh pace, new adventure for me – can’t describe it. At Kuepers, I could be working on five large projects at one time. Now I need to know what’s going on with 125 projects; balancing, organizing and scheduling them all and I love it! It’s a bit chaotic at times, but I love the challenge each day brings in organizing and problem solving. I guess I’ve gotten better at it as I’ve aged.” In spite of how much Laurie loves her job and the long hours that she works each week, she does lead a very active life outside of her work. She has two grown boys who are both pursuing their own careers, and her and her husband, Greg, love to bird hunt with their English Springer named Raggs and go scuba diving. Laurie is also a member of an all-women’s Sporting Clays team during the summer. When her boys were growing up, her winters were filled with the

duties of being a hockey mom, but now she and Greg spend their winter weekends serving on the pit crew of their nephew’s snowmobile racing program. Laurie does wish she had more time to sit back and relax. But given her current busy and challenging lifestyle, it’s hard to imagine that she would really enjoy that as much as she imagines. If, and when, her life does slow down, she says that she would like to set up her own little art studio (did I forget to mention that she loves to draw, as well?) and get knee-deep into gardening. A fulfilling day would end with the arrival of the grandchildren that she hopes will eventually become part of her family picture. For now though, the “Pit Bull” is charging ahead—full steam and taking on every bit of life with the same gusto and enthusiasm she carries with her onto construction sites.


Kathleen Krueger

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

Project Manager Laurie Meller works with Foreman John Trantina on a construction site.

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witty woman

by Jennifer Anderson photos by Joey Halvorson

Jennifer Anderson and her family of six sold their Brained home and lived out of an RV traveling cross country.


Our family of six, a dog, a cat and a fish named Turtle squeezed into our newly purchased, used 38 feet long RV. We sold our home in Brainerd and were headed down the highway on January 5, 2011 after the blizzard swept through, leaving a crusty ice layer on the road. This was to be our very first night sleeping in the RV; it would be the first night of living full-time on the road and the crazy roller coaster ride of our new life. The journey began as a way to see the United States, places my husband Jon and I had only read about in textbooks. It was an opportunity to have a career shift and find a new house to call home. What took place


was an extraordinary inward journey about who we are as individuals, our relationship with our children and the strangers we met along the way. The first inward conflict Jon and I had to battle was our friend called fear. Now fear seems to show his face when there is change to be made, a stepping outside of the box. We have had stare downs with this fear, long conversations of how to cope with the anxi-

ety of leaving behind every “safety” we held onto; family, friends, community, job, home. The process was like trying to run in a bog, every small step was heavy, difficult, yet intentional. The two of us have held hands through it all, when one would start sinking, the other would have to get the rope of hope. This is still our greatest angst, an ongoing hike which continues to strengthen our walk together. The kids have done an amazing job with such a huge transition in their lives. It was difficult to leave friends and to experience a new type of living. They are now Roadschooled (homeschooling on the road) and learn about life, places, people firsthand. A deeper relationship has developed between the four of them as they are forced to spend time together in such a small space, overcoming challenges together. They are learning how to begin relationships with people they meet, ask questions and find answers to what they wonder about, and become who they were created to be. This opportunity of traveling has been huge for Jon and I to learn about our kids individually, their strengths and struggles, a time we can encourage them to embrace their individual passions. One of the elements in our survival kit on this adventure has been humor. Of course sometimes we don’t find it until after the incident has occurred, yet it has been a meaningful way to cope with surprising

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Elijah HerVoiceSpring2012.indd 17

events. I will never forget the day the Florida wind blew in swiftly taking the awning and Jon and I up into the air, when the transmission went out on the van and we were stuck on the side of the road, or the day the RV got stuck perpendicular on the New Mexico highway, blocking both lanes. Amazingly, every one of those incidents connected us with strangers who helped us out in our time of need. We learned quickly, the unknown is not meant to be feared as there are kind, loving people everywhere who will journey by your side. While it may sound glamorous to live on the road, it is not the same as taking a vacation in your camper. This rig falls apart as we journey from shades and sink faucets, refrigerator covers to the drawers bottoming out! We have also had interesting creatures join in the journey like the cockroach in Ethan’s shirt, the spiders that creep on my bedroom ceiling, or the flea infestation that we JUST exterminated (sore subject). The creepiest was the brown widow spider and egg sacs we found under our step that had traveled for three months with us from the south. Can I just say, eww! While I do not enjoy such creatures, it is all worth it for the freedom my family has been given with this opportunity to live simply. We have just enough dishes, just enough clothing; enough living space where getting jabbed by an elbow is part of daily life. If we don’t like our neighbors we just peel off, perhaps secretly in the night. This journey has changed me inside out. I am challenging my fears. I can look at the Carlsbad Caverns elevator man and tell him I will be paralyzed by fear, pure terror, and claustrophobia as we ride 700 feet underground to the caves. Then, give him the signal I am ready for him to shut the doors and drop. I am realizing that this is it, my life. I can choose to let fear keep me from living, or I can live. To read more about our adventures visit


Jennifer Anderson

Jennifer Marie Anderson was raised on her great-grandfather’s farm in Brainerd, MN. Taking the artist name of Jema, she is inspired by nature, creating contemporary acrylic art on textured canvas. Her current focus is “Take Flight” a public art project which integrates the inspirations of people located all over the world.

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en t r e p r e n e u r s


I’m hooked on HGTV’s home staging shows. Perhaps you are too. The stager comes in, tours your house, advises you on what should be remedied, then “wham” the work’s done and the first day your home is listed it sells. Pretty neat. Too bad it doesn’t work that way in real life. According to area resident, Kathleen Lordbock who’s been in the resale design and home staging business since 1996, these staging shows aren’t an accurate depiction of what the real job entails. “The staging cost,” she said, “is higher than quoted, there are many behind the scenes people you never see


A home stager since 1996, Kathleen Lordbock gives advice and sometimes more on how to present a home in the best possible light to potential buyers.

by Marlene Chabot photos by Sue Wipperling

and work takes much longer.” When Kathleen is hired for a staging that doesn’t require much work, it can be completed in a couple days with only two assistants, but if the staging process turns into a major project and specialists are called in such as carpenters and plumbers, the amount of workers increases considerably and the job can take weeks to complete. In regards to a home selling the day it’s placed on the market, it’s possible but not the norm. Having experienced the sale of four homes myself, only one sold in three days. The others took on the average about four months. Of those three, two homes were void of furniture at the time of showings.

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Kathleen, who has staged homes as far away as Florida, said one of the main challenges a stager faces is having a client understand that once their home goes on the market it becomes a product. The product has to be presented in a way that gets the house sold. “That means,” she explained, “taking care of repairs and no personal effects being exposed, including family photos.” In other words, remove clutter. “Leave some furniture throughout the house too.” Ninety percent of buyers can only visualize what’s there. An empty house makes a home feel sterile and can also leave the feeling it’s actually smaller than it is. The first 90 seconds a buyer spends in your home are the most crucial. That’s when they decide to purchase or not. So if you’ve been putting off those repairs, do it before the buyers come through. For many buyers it takes only one minor flaw to say “no deal.” Kathleen, also a real estate agent for Keller Williams Reality and a short sales expert, recommends that the home owner step away from the critiquing process when preparing to sell their home. “The owner overlooks too many things. Get fresh eyes—a neighbor or relative to inspect the home. What flaws do they see?” If you want a stager to help you sell your house, you have to be willing to stand back and let them do their job. One of the most dif-

A charter member of the Real Estate Staging Association, Kathleen is also involved with the Miss Brainerd Lakes and Miss Baxter Pageant, Dressage (horse training) and showing horses. She entered the world of real estate just three years ago. It’s a good fit. Her staging clients nudged her in that direction she said. Since the staging expert has already built a solid working relationship with the sellers, it’s only natural for the sellers to want the stager to be there through the whole process. Kathleen truly cares about others and it shows in her personal words of wisdom. “Live life with a servant’s heart.”


Marlene Chabot

Marlene Chabot resides in Fort Ripley. A frequent contributor to area publications, she is a member of Sisters in Crime and Great River Writers. She is presently working on her fourth Minnesota based mystery novel. When not writing, she enjoys reading, crafts, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

ficult staging projects Kathleen was requested to help with two years ago was for a bachelor with no taste. Every suggestion she made was rejected. She finally told him she couldn’t work for him. The house still hasn’t sold. Sometimes a staging expert can do too good of a job and the people decide to remain in their house after all the changes are completed. Kathleen confided that two of her customers did just that. Kathleen has always liked design and was doing design projects for herself, family and friends long before going into the staging business full time. “Home staging is based on good design principles, but it is different.” Instead of decorating for a particular individual who will stay in their home for years, the stager is doing it for potential buyers. Their task is to draw out the best features of the home. Raised in Ironton, Minn., Kathleen Lordbock is the youngest of three children born to Walter and Helen Lord. She is the wife of Arthur and mother of two grown daughters. Previous work experience has included teacher for the public school system, public health educator for Aitkin County, and partner in Quality Roof Systems, where she is still currently involved. Her preparation for a career as a staging expert included attending staging classes in the cities, as well as, taking extensive online courses pertaining to the Staging Diva Business Model. SPRING 2012 | her voice

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by Carolyn Corbett photos by Joey Halvorson


In her personal life as well as her professional life, Kathy Gaalswyk walks a path of service. “I think we are called to give back and that looks different for each person. It’s important to figure out how to balance life so that we can serve. For women there are different seasons of life; some are more times for giving; others for other responsibilities. I encourage women to figure out who they are and the best balance for them as they move through life,” she says. Kathy is the president of the Initiative Foundation, which just celebrated its 25th year anniversary, and she is also one of 50 Minnesota’s Top Women in Finance 2011 according to Finance & Commerce magazine. She is also a grandmother, and three cribs, two high chairs, two booster seats and two pack & plays help define this season of Kathy’s life. The Gaalswyk children blessed their parents with four grandsons in 20 months and now an important part of Kathy’s balance includes those precious little people. Kathy and her husband Neal also have several “adopted” grandchildren from young adults with whom they have shared their home. “Over the years we’ve had the privilege of providing a home for different young people who needed surrogate parents. When we have room, we are glad to share it.” This has happened more since their biological kids have moved out because there is more room in the house. “You fall in love with them and want to stay connected. You’re hooked for life.”


Kathy is presently in the certification process to become a doula. “Doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and now refers to a trained and experienced woman who provides physical, emotional and informational support to a pregnant mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period. Doulas are not midwives, nor are they professional medical staff. Doulas recognize birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life and they serve to nurture and protect the woman’s memory of the birth. Through supporting a number of family and friends during birth, Kathy learned that she loves the birth process and wanted additional information so she could be more supportive to new parents during that time. “I believe that having good information lessens fear and having a person to provide quiet encouragement and offer ideas for comfort during President of the Initiative Foundation, Kathy labor helps the mom Gaalswyk has played a role in the economic or couple stay focused and social well-being of Central Minnesota for on the job of delivery. over 25 years.

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My goal is to help moms/couples have a positive birth experience in view of many variables and potential surprises.” For her, it is a form of ministry or volunteer outreach. Another form of service is in the mission trips she and Neal make to Poland. After their daughter spent parts of five summers in Poland working with Josiah Venture to lead English Language Camps, their church asked the couple to lead a team of high school and college aged students on a trip to Poland. The American teams work with youth groups from Polish churches to put on weeklong English Language camps which teach conversational English, have lots of fun, build relationships and share their faith. Since that first trip, they have returned to Poland about eight times leading camps, marriage conferences and work teams to help renovate a camp facility. “We have developed great friendships in Poland and we love to spend time with these dear ones both in Poland and when they visit us in Minnesota. We also hosted a Polish foreign exchange student several years ago and still have some contact with Piotr and his family.” She loves to host and the Gaalswyk house is always open to friends and family. Kathy learned this from her mother and always has guest beds ready. Her home is a calm, comfortable, peaceful

environment and Kathy says the highest compliment she can receive is when someone feels comfortable enough there to help themselves to something. In her work life, Kathy also encourages others to help themselves – and their communities. In 1986, when Kathy became the CEO/president of the Little Falls-based Initiative Foundation, funding was available for only two years and she didn’t know if she would have a job after that. That was 25 years ago and she is still leading the foundation in its mission to unlock the power of central Minnesota people to build and sustain healthy communities. Kathy attended a national conference recently and was reminded how blessed Minnesota is; no other state has this regional foundation model based on local people as key resources. The six regional Minnesota Initiative Foundations were created in the mid 80s as a response to a severe economic depression, similar to what we are facing today. The last couple of years have been really tough. We lost 11,000 jobs in manufacturing and construction alone in our 14 counties. Eight of the 20 counties are in the top 20 in the state for foreclosures. Lots of families are affected. Lots. It is estimated that one-third of our people are living below poverty level. They may have a job, but not one that keeps them above the poverty line. The Initiative Foundation is about helping small rural businesses and despite these difficult economic times Kathy has great hope for the future of our communities. They are filled with great people who have solid ideas about how to improve their home towns, they have the energy and commitment to make things happen, and they are determine to get things done (with a little help from IF and many other great resource organizations).

Wife and mother, Kathy now warms to her role as grandmother with grandson, Truman. SPRING 2012 | her voice

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Over the years, Kathy has encouraged the public and private sectors to collaborate.

“In small communities,” says Kathy, “job creation is often best accomplished through building strong relationships with the existing employers, knocking on their doors to learn what kinds of help they need to add a few jobs, and finding ways to help them make that happen--one employer, one job at a time.” Kathy believes it is also critical to help our employers and our educators find linkages so that we are providing the kinds of training and education that best supports the jobs of today and tomorrow. We are blessed with many great early childhood care providers, K-12 schools and higher education institutions that all play a critical role in preparing our future work force. They are each facing changes and challenges and need the support of their communities to focus on the right success measures and new partnerships. “The recipe works,” Kathy says. “Give local people the tools and resources to develop and implement action plans and they will make things happen in their community. That’s where the hope is.”


Carolyn Corbett

Prior to playing with words for a living, Carolyn Corbett taught elementary school for 14 years. At 35, she resigned and sailed off into the sunset. Literally. Along the way she became a contributing writer for a number of sailing magazines. Today, as a freelance writer/editor, she has over 200 articles published in cruising, parenting and general interest magazines.


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by Pat Kehr

photos by Roland Kehr

Editor’s n for over 3 ote: Pat Kehr, a resi 0 d cinoma of years, died of non-sm ent of Brainerd the lung a oking ade ft n years. Alo ng the w er battling four and ocaray, she sh Journey” in a half are revealing in the Winter 2005 edit d “A Healing io and faith. her struggle uncomm n of Her Voice, Trained in o itially as a n courage, hope ered her o n RN, Pat wn voice in dis Central La kes Colleg Joe Plut’s writing c cove. Pat wrote lass at coping wit h p Brainerd d her cancer. Roland rolifically while e , ted the pro ntist and outdoors e her husband, a nthusiast su se and poe others in try posthu bmitm w Acknowle hatever life chall ously to inspire en dg Roland ha ing the role CLC, p ges they face. layed in P s set up tw at’s Pat’s name o that total to perpetual scholarsh life, ips date a little over $29,0 in 00.

o T e d O

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rn! rebo ful days e v o ain of l Gift ame in p chains d heart. c n o u uble Yo to ride y tro m tail o t ayful s l close p r you paw ooth r golden m s I u day h yo Each and touc t let go. race don’ uiet g q that d n ul gth a stren healing so e l t b y su . Your remind m In-There g n a to H Roland bought this gold kitty charm while Pat was undergoing diagnostic tests in 2003. She wore it during her battle with cancer.

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oom r h t a s me B nvite i e y c a M new f

t brigh world Your into your d peace. lor an of co rms ong a , r t d s e s r a u ar is e ing yo My fe Just know ear. l, are n y sou m m r a ers w t wat les play n a r g Fra as bubb in. my ch d n u aro !!!! H!!!! H H A

In the summer of 2005, The Kehrs remodeled the second floor bathroom in their north side 84-year-old house, giving Pat this simple pleasure over the next two years.


The Airpor t Pillow

Violent w inter stor ms acros las airpo s rt at 10 p .m. By th the Midwest hav displaced e e time m . Local h y delayed diverted my fligh otels are passenge t to fl ig packed, a rs trying nd the air ht arrives, thousa Oklahoma, and le to sleep. nd av p A lucky ort is offi few have cially clo s of other travele e me stranded in Hungry, a s r n Dale s cold, and airline pil d have bee n similar tired, I cu low, may . The floors are c attempt ly b o rl up on e a blank vered wit to s the hard et. h exhaus my pillow leep is interrupte floor am ted d by a ta ? “ Oh, m id the mass p on my fully acce y world fo e s s h and use m ou pt r y purse fo signal tell her precious gift. a pillow to cushio lder and a little v ra oice: “W s me tha n I m e v y e throbbin ntually e e t I should ’r e leaving “pillow”. My fitf catch a fl g head! I mbrace r get up, e ul ight later now. Wo e th a l sleep un a at uld you li that day til a near nk her in a grogg once the and get a cup of k e y b y v hot coffe airport r I’ll never e. I begin McDonalds lights oice and grateeopens. forget th to up. feel almo at n had no id st human The neon ea how m ight—not becau again an se of the uch her s for sure d misery, b imple off what our ut becau ering me small kin Makes m se of the ant to m dnesses d e think! small kin e at that o for ano Kindnes pillow. dne parti th s doesn’t have to b er. We only know cular time. I gu ss. I’m sure that child ess we ne e someth w h a t they me ver really ing huge an when to be imp k now w e are the ortant. I recipient. t can be as small as an air port 24

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The Red Wagon He struggles to load the floppy newspapers into wagon, and then his trusty red pulls it around the neighborho route. Nothing od on his daily stops him and hi s wagon as they appointed roun complete their ds. Increasing st re ngth and dexter allow him to ca ity eventually rry his papers in his “official” sh outgrows the ne oulder bag. He ed for his wagon . It merely sits and waits for at on the sidelines tention, which do esn’t come from the growing bo y. The “Radio Flye r” retires to the ba sement, as belo toys often do. D ved childhood ust collects for many quiet year hibernates in th s as the wagon e untouched co rner. Then one to come out an day, it is beckon d “work” once ed ag ain. Instead of newspapers for loyally carrying a little disabled bo y, ent summer carg it is asked to ca rry a differo for his mom. She delights in rusted wagon w loading the now ith mossy clay po ts filled with br Frilly purple pe illiant annuals. tunias, flowing re d verbena and ge in the backyard ranium dance just outside her window. Bees an are attracted to d hummingbirds the brilliance an d fly about on su has returned to nny days. “Life the red wagon. ”

Unknown Need

or is hard he garage flo T e. m th ea ben I’m flying to and fly from t far worse— u e B ic . en en d k id ro h b on torted arm is ted feet slip w that my dis when my exci o n g k in ere now? I iv ! rg se n fo n is u n is inte l I ever get th il ai p w e w h o T H g. The concrete s. in er b sist leave my lay there sob ws and rods brothers and re y sc m h al it n w er and cold as I n xt io n g post-op st. E ow for a reu red right wri d spend a lon tu an , ac m fr o ly ro Utah tomorr ad al b it a to my hosp for repair of I am returned erating room p e. o vi e o th m n in ei I am enst ut of a Frank Within hours ice, and swolsomething o e family. k y li m g is packed in in in k m jo o ar n o e ca u I sq arm lo w te o o h y gr e window. S to figure out at next to th t morning. M se ex n ed s ry gn re ve night trying si o n e as ig th y He totally e on a plane t and take m loved. at next to me. renalin get m oard my fligh se b ad e ly sl d si ai an m e u n th would have cl io I m es at k g. in ar ta y in m e sl m er h a et at as d th Sheer trude from my breath, even further al elbow rest d fingers pro names under uishes me in es” the mutu sq im at e h in H ll m s. ca o d len, discolore I “d ar e. e o un . H Then “he” b es of his Trib er in my face far, so good! dreds of pag his newspap n u h en p e o b to to s s ed ips what seem me, and proce form. The n’t me! utters as he fl sp d an s Utah in good out. It sure is gh ab to u s it dI re e ca ak He co ly m ib d is useless, an going to he poss an at h am h t I w if gh er r ri d y ve n o m o ke But ering and w not let pain ta ach it. I grab the bottle. oment, wond n m ca I ef ri at b th a r w fo re and I kno ght. I panic k God, I can ins to throb, nowhere in si purse. Than y is s m es in d t My wrist beg ar gh ri ew st at I need is ll light and a to medication th reach the ca ’t n ca I ed guy next . ff o lid e self-absorb th so k ’m as can’t get the “I — o e. d t tim ing to m for the firs ar one logical th y ” ly n m n ia o what to do. es d s se ar e’ u e er “g th pression as h becomes my wn. I know astonished ex r you?” He and settle do fo an s h o h d at it I w re n b et p ca m dee n help! What is attention is I take a few we land. request for h Of course I ca y . M ry ju p. in el y need until h an r er ev ad h y me fo u m yo to s at attention to tend ’t realize th t paying any try flight and o n n d u o st -c ju sorry. I didn ss ,” o er cr spap n to the worl nder of my , pay attentio “lost in a new st — ir F im h e: for the remai e m k li to er gs says two thin eople are rath gly unkind p the head.” It in n o em it se . “h y n e w b an o to just be unkn I’ll bet that m sort of need need. It may world. They a e e th av f h o I st en re the k up wh Second, spea around me. SPRING 2012 | her voice 25

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cl u b s & c l u s t e r s

story and photos by Joan Hasskamp

Friday Study Club Crosby’s Friday Study Club (L to R Front Row): Joan Hallada, Laura Roberts, Mina Nystrom, Doris Carlson, Linda Anderson. ( L to R Back Row): Michelle LeMieur, Jill Mattson, Kaye Gillman, Peggy Beseres, Vernice Grgurich, Sally Mann, Phyllis Martin, Kay Johnson, Christine Olson


As a young girl in the early 1960s, I recall my mother excitedly scurrying off to Friday Study Club. Even with four young children to care for, she carved out time each month to attend. Amazingly, that club still thrives today. In fact, September 14th, 2011, marked the 99th anniversary of the Friday Study Club in Crosby. Established by seven women shortly after the turn of the century, the members studied areas of interest such as poetry and travel. Eventually, it evolved into a book review club. However, it’s a book club with a slightly different twist, only one member reads the book. That person condenses the story and then reads excerpts to the group. According to their original constitution, they consider themselves a “serious” study group and therefore, only select non-fiction books. The only exception is the December meeting when they may opt for fiction. 26

The club is steeped in tradition. Just as in 1912, membership is limited to 15 women by invitation, primarily to keep it manageable for the host. Per the original by-laws, refreshments are limited to two eatables (desserts), one relish (nuts or candy) and a beverage (coffee and tea.) Although such rules are a bit restrictive, 99 years later the women see no need to change what works. “Tradition is huge,” says President Michelle LeMieur. “I feel so honored to be a part of the group.” When Michelle’s neighbor, Elsie Moores, died, Michelle was invited to fill Elsie’s spot. Several years later she was elected president. Michelle says she loves to hear about topics she might not otherwise be aware of. “Being a member of this group continues my learning,” she says. Members range in age from 39-85. The youngest member, Laura Roberts,

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believes the mixture of women who might not ordinarily socialize together adds to the richness of the group. “I really like the multigenerational aspect of it,” she says. Longtime member, Joan Hallada, echoes similar sentiments. “It’s a good mix of people I wouldn’t be in contact with otherwise, it’s fun, it’s living.” One of the most senior members, Vernice Grgurich, joined in 1967. She took a few years off from the club when she entered the labor force but rejoined after retirement. “I love it,” she gushes. She relishes how each member selects varied and interesting reading choices. Plus, she enjoys the social aspect of the club. Even after women transition out of the club due to age or health, they can remain honorary members. Ninety-three-year-old Jeanette Smith is one such member. Despite living in a long-term care facility in Wisconsin, she is still able to partake in some of the meetings. That’s because member Linda Anderson makes audiotapes and sends them to Jeanette’s daughter in Wisconsin. Mother and daughter then enjoy listening together. It’s this bonding and caring that exists between members that results in Linda describing the experience of being a member as “delightful.”

According to an article published in the Crosby-Ironton Courier in 1962, the Friday Study Club was the first club to be organized in Crosby. The civic-minded organization raised money in order to establish the Crosby Public Library and purchase its first 47 books. Also, through the club’s efforts, a public playground was started and a municipal Christmas tree was put on display. During World War I, members sewed for Red Cross and French relief organizations and many baskets of food were given out to the needy at Christmas. In keeping with tradition, the club still makes an annual donation to the now named Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library in Crosby, according to librarian and member, Peggy Beseres. Other charitable donations are made to Toys for Tots and the Caring Ladies for CRES, a group of volunteers at the Cuyuna Range Elementary School in Crosby who make birthday baskets for less fortunate students. Sally Mann originally joined the group in the 1950s when she was in her late twenties. She says it was a great honor to be asked. “Mrs. VanEvera and Mrs. Smith were so gracious and lovely to me,” she recalls. Keeping to that tradition, she makes a similar effort to warmly welcome the newer members today.

Once a year in December members are encouraged to invite guests to the meeting. Thanks to Kay Johnson’s gracious invitation, I was able to discover what Friday Book Club is all about. As I listened to Sally Mann read beautifully from the book, “Paul and Me,” by A.E. Hotchner, I understood why my mother loved Friday Study Club. It’s a warm welcoming group of diverse women devoted to reading, learning and growing. Now that’s a tradition worth celebrating and keeping.


Joan Hasskamp

Joan Hasskamp is employed by Crow Wing County Community Services. She lives in Crosby.

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story and photos by Jill Anderson


I never gave the other women much consideration. Never thought about them missing out on important life events, or how they felt over the years. All I knew was I had two new brothers in addition to my older brother. Instead of bringing my younger brothers home from the hospital, we brought them home from an adoption agency. My parents, however, did think of those mothers who had courageously and selflessly given up their child for adoption, in hopes of a better life for them. Occasionally, as my brothers got older, they too thought of their birth parents. But it wasn’t until this past year that my brother, Mike, actually did something about it. He, along with his wife, Stephanie, started the process of locating his birth mother. With our parent’s blessing, Mike contacted the agency where he was adopted and was given a wealth of information as to what to expect; the very realistic chance of never finding his birth mother, the chance of rejection and the possibilities of hearing a truth Mike might not want to hear. But Mike and Stephanie pushed on. When they got word it could take months, Stephanie tried a different approach. They went through the Minnesota Department of Health which gave them Mike’s birth mother’s name (only because she had gone through the work to allow it). Then Stephanie got busy on the computer. Says Mike, “Within an hour she had information on my birth mother and possible birth siblings!” Mike was amazed at the endless information the Internet provided. Stephanie had located Mike’s birth mother, Connie, in the White Pages and under Intellus she found Mike’s birth brother listed. Without thinking, Mike picked up the phone and called the number listed and in no time at all was talking to a birth brother who, thankfully, had been told of Mike’s birth 45 years earlier. Mike was lucky; many birth mothers keep the secret from their family. In Mike’s case, Connie told her children back in 1995 of his birth, the same year she contacted the Department of Health to put her name on his birth certificate in case Mike ever tried to locate her. That pivotal phone call to his birth brother set things in motion. 28

Jill Anderson’s brother at his first reunion with his adopted mother, (left) Bunny and his birth mother, Connie. Pg. 29 - Jill growing up with brothers (left to right) Matt, Chris, Mike.

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Mike’s birth brother quickly got the rest of the family on the phone; two sisters and their mother. Finally, they could celebrate after waiting for years to hear from Mike! My mom and I had a chance this past fall to meet Mike’s birth family with him. As I sat visiting with Mike and Connie, it was amazing to see Mike so at peace with himself. I asked him, “Why did you wait until now to look for your birth mom?” “I wasn’t ready before this; my life wasn’t the way I wanted it to be. I had to be ready to present myself to her and I finally felt like I was at that point,” Mike confessed. Connie, however, had been ready. Ready and waiting for years to hear from the child she had to give up against her will. “The decision was out of my hands. You had two choices back then: give your child up for adoption or marry.” Since she was no longer with Mike’s birth father at the time of his birth, her hand was forced by her mother and an older sister. After the birth, kept secret just like her pregnancy, Connie was sent back to the home for unwed mothers. Baby Mike stayed in the hospital for about two weeks and Connie was never even given a chance to hold him. “I couldn’t talk about the emotional heartbreak of giving him up. I had to pretend the whole thing had never happened, which was impossible.” Very few knew of her situation, very few to talk to about her feelings and pain. Connie’s life went on, she had three more children, and for the most part lived in the Twin Cities, about twenty miles away from my family. Ironically, the greatest chance of her running into Mike came about somewhere else; in a tiny central Minnesota town. Connie had grown up in this town of roughly 200 people, still had family there and visited often with her husband and children. In that very town, my parents bought a cabin in the late 1960s. Every summer we spent weeks there and every Sunday my family, just like Connie’s, went to the Catholic Church in town. With only a handful of people attending the weekly service, you can imagine our families likely crossed paths a number of times over the years. “To think of how I prayed for the child I’d given up and here he was likely in the very church I was praying,” Connie marveled. As sad as the situation was for Connie, her selfless decision made it possible for my parents to adopt. After having my older brother and me, they wanted more children and talked of adoption. My dad was a pilot in the Air Force, Vietnam was going on, dad was ready to get out of the service and they wanted to settle somewhere before adopting. When we moved to St. Paul, they filled out adoption papers with the agency and were told it would likely take six months before they got a baby. It took three. They were ecstatic and from the moment we all went to pick up Mike, we bonded. “It was just like coming home from the hospital, only Mike was a few weeks old. We felt the same way with Mike, and again, with Matt (my youngest brother) as we did with you and Chris,” my mom remembered. After two adoptions, my parents hoped to adopt yet another boy. I was a little disgruntled. I wanted a sister. “We were told adoption was getting so popular, we might not be able to adopt again, and they were right,” Mom said. Adopting certainly has become popular over the years. You likely know at least one person who either has adopted or has been adopted. One of my best friends has a daughter she adopted and I have a son-in-law who is adopted. Yet we seldom think of the two women involved in that emotional, heartfelt process. Two women, in

one way or another, giving selflessly of themselves for one child. Adoption makes news on a regular basis through celebrities, many who have adopted children from other countries, or adult celebrities who have been adopted themselves: Steve Jobs, Faith Hill, John Lennon and Sarah McLachlan to name a few. As much as my parents wondered about the birth mothers who enabled them to adopt Mike and Matt, Connie wondered just as often about them. “I’d asked for him to be placed in a Catholic home and I hoped he would have a good upbringing.” Mike reassures her. “It all worked out for the best. I couldn’t have asked for better parents to adopt me. It’s all good.” He smiles and so does Connie. “The best part for me,” she reflects, “is the other day I was sitting in my kitchen thinking about Mike and realized I don’t have to just sit and think and wonder what he’s doing anymore. I can pick up the phone now and talk to him anytime.”


Jill Anderson

Jill Anderson lives in Emily and is a frequent contributor to Her Voice. She is very thankful for her brothers (although she never thought she’d say that!) and agrees with her brother Mike that they couldn’t have asked for better parents.

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by Mary Aalgaard

Every child deserves a chance to attend summer camp. But, what if you’re chronically ill and can’t leave the hospital? What if your diagnosis demands a sterile environment? What if all you ever wanted was to feel normal, but all you’ve ever known is chronic pain and countless operations? JoLanne Hanson, a 1987 graduate of Brainerd high school, pondered this dilemma even as she was working for Target Corporation several years ago as an event planner for its St. Jude Research Children’s Hospital relationship. A colleague described to her how a girl who had cancer had tried to attend summer camp, but was unable to complete the week due to her illness and had to be brought back to the hospital for emergency care. JoLanne thought about how unfair that was and the seed was planted. Together with her colleague and friend Kate

Picture time with Miles the hospital mascot.

Bach Davis she got busy planning the details to form their own non-profit in-house camp called Camp Get-A-Well-A. “These kids were missing out on a fundamental childhood experience,” JoLanne said. The camps are held in the hospitals’ safe and sterile environments with medical staff close at hand. The kids come down to the rooms if they are able. This motivates many of them to get up, get dressed, push themselves beyond their pain and participate. She describes the benefits of this recreational therapy in kids who hadn’t been motivated to even sit up and feed themselves. By the end of their weeklong camp, they were up and ready to go before it started. They were laughing and creating things, eating popcorn and making friends. When the camps start on Monday, everyone comes in a stranger, unsure of what to

Caleb on his way to Camp Get-A-Well-A.

A volunteer helping a camper make a pillow. 30

expect. By Thursday, they form a bond. JoLanne says by this time, she is so emotionally involved that she has to take a moment and let it out. Some of these kids have chronic illnesses, some terminal. Some have a high rate of recovery and chance for a fairly “normal” life, while others might not be around for next year’s camp. JoLanne has been contacted by families for photos they took during camps to be used at memorial services. What a gift to have been part of the joy amidst the suffering for even the sickest child. When a child is too ill or vulnerable to attend camp with other children, some of the volunteers will bring pieces of camp right to the child’s room. They make their own craft kits, from supplies to pictures and instructions and put them in baggies or small totes so that kids can do the projects from their beds.

Bowling at a Camp Carnival.

A camper and his grandma playing in the tent.

Chloe blowing bubbles at “Camp Minute to Win It.”

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They have done everything that an outdoor camp offers including: tie-dying, tents, beadwork, and color wars (a game of tag and competitions), doing puzzles while blindfolded, or seeing who can make the most s’mores the fastest. JoLanne has a few interns in her program for the summer camps. This is a chance for many people to get involved with kids who have unique needs. Sponsors can see exactly where their money is going and observe the benefits to the children, often sending volunteers. Parents find this is a great place to connect with each other and offer support. The children make friends with kids who have similar diagnosis, or ones with something completely different. Camp Get-A-Well-A is a year-round program at Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. Besides the week-long summer camp, they have S’more Camps, lasting two-four hours on the first Saturday and fourth Thursday of each month. Some families who are regulars at Gillette will ask when the camps are being held so they can schedule the child’s next surgery around that date.

They know the positive impact of attending this program. It offers so much more than a funky t-shirt and bead bracelet. It offers hope, stimulates healing and provides joy to even the most critically ill patient. Siblings and friends are also welcome. Camps have been extended to Dell’s Children’s Medical Center in Austin, TX, Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, and Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Each location has something unique to offer. Surrounding support programs and entertainment make their appearances, from local zoo keepers and their portable animals to fashioning a pond outside and stocking it with fish. While the hospital in Brainerd is too small to have a children’s wing, many local residents have been to Gillette’s for care for their children. JoLanne would love to see this program grow with camps forming in children’s hospitals all over the country. Physical therapists rave at the results they see in their patients. Anesthesiologists comment that kids who have been at the camp need less meds before surgery. As hope increases, pain

decreases, muscles relax, brains engage and hearts become strong. You can learn more about Camp Get-AWell-A at the website, www.campgetawella. org. Donations and sponsorships are needed to keep the program going and growing.


Mary Aalgaard

Mary Aalgaard is a freelance writer in the Brainerd area where she lives with four sons and cat Leo. She teaches piano lessons, works with kids and dramas, writes plays and manages two blogs. Her personal blog is: www.maryaalgaard.

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by Sheila Helmberger

A Renaissance Woman -Twyla Flaws


photos by Joey Halvorson

There’s a lot to talk about with Twyla Flaws. She lives in Merrifield in a home she built 11 years ago, and there’s a 10 point buck hanging on the wall that she shot herself hunting alone on her property five years ago. She belongs to a book club and enjoys learning new things, such as designing jewelry and even painting, something she tried earlier this fall. She also has a job she loves in a company where 90 percent of the employees are the opposite sex. You might think that could present some challenges at work. “Not a bit,” she says. “I’ve never had issues.” Twyla is the human resources manager at Clow Stamping Company in Merrifield. The company performs metal stamping and fabrication work for clients such as Kawasaki, John Deere and some 500 other customers. “It’s physical and highly industrial work,” says Twyla, “So it’s traditionally been an occupation men have gravitated to. But manufacturing has changed significantly over the years. Equipment has become high tech with the use of robotics, computer operated lasers and cad engineering and design. It’s challenging, rewarding, high demanding and high paying but a safe occupation,” She says, “There are a handful of women working our production and they’re good at what they do.” She would love to see more students, particularly women, take a close look at a manufacturing/engineering career. Twyla says she actually has her mother to thank for the job she’s had for three decades. “They were looking for a receptionist/secretary at Clow and my mother interviewed,” she says, “After the interview she came home and told me, ‘Holy Cow! I can’t do that Twyla Flaws, human resource manager at Clow Stamping with her horse, Obie and at work with Tim Yeager, (top) Kris Peterzen, Robin Loftis (middle) and (bottom) Oscar Shogren (left) and Bruce Rugloski. 32

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job, but you can.’” Twyla was working as a secretary at PORT Group Homes in Brainerd at the time but says it was so close to home she decided to interview. She got the job. Clow Stamping is a family owned company. “Working for a family owned business is a lot of fun,” she says. This one is also successful. When she started the company employed about 50 people. Today 320 people work there. As the company started growing more positions were created and responsibilities were realigned to handle the workload. In 1994 her position officially changed from secretary / insurance coordinator to personnel manager. She has been instrumental in writing company policies and procedures, monitoring compliance to state and federal laws, and facilitating hiring, firing and conflict resolution. “In the 70s you went to school as women and you could be teachers and nurses and secretaries,” she says, “And then in the 80s it started to shake. I’ve always been very blessed here. Being a woman is certainly not something that has ever held me back. I think in earlier years you had to prove your credibility because you were a woman in a male dominated workforce and a woman in a male dominated occupation. People are people,” she says matter-of-factly. “It doesn’t matter if they’re male or female you speak to respect and fairness and equitable issues..” Sometimes being a female may actually be an advantage in her position she says. “If I do conflict resolution I think I’m probably looked to as the room monitor or the “mom.” If a situation is escalating or employees are discussing something and it gets a little heated I can say, ‘You know – you’re out of line. Step back.’ or ‘You’re getting a little cranky.’ It’s not socially acceptable to raise your voice or take a swing at your ‘mom,’” she says chuckling. “When you treat everybody with respect, they’re easy to work with.” Twla thinks times have changed. “People don’t really consider gender anymore when hiring or working together. Attitudes have shifted significantly in 30 years,” she says. Twyla said another plus with her job is that it has allowed her to get involved in a lot of organizations outside of her office duties. “It’s important to the Clow family to be visible in the community,” she says and to give back to the lakes area that has been so good to them. Twyla said she has enjoyed volunteering and has had the opportunity to serve on a number of boards and committees over the years. She has served on boards at Central Lakes College and has been involved in the United Way, the Brainerd Lakes Chamber and some far reaching organizations such as her appointment to the Governors Workforce Development Council, (GWDC). “That’s very interesting,” she said of the council, “We make recommendations to the governor and help form workforce development policy for the state of Minnesota.” This includes school programs she said and ways to aid disabled workers. She serves on the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Board – a foundation that gives training money to companies that need to train a workforce. She’s also involved on the Workforce Investment Board out of Detroit Lakes. “I truly appreciate that the company affords me the time to do those kinds of things,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity for the employer and it’s enjoyable for me so it’s a two-fold blessing. We’re all busy and we don’t want to serve just for the purpose of serving. You want to know that something is being accomplished.” In her free time Twyla really does enjoys learning new things. Recently she has been asked to teach the Girl Scouts how to make some of the jewelry she’s been designing. It’s a hobby she took up herself about a year ago. And after hearing about its benefits about six years ago she began practicing REIKI, a Japanese energy therapy technique for relaxation and healing. “Some nurses I know have taken similar training and call it healing touch,” she says.

The book club she belongs to has about 10 other “interesting and intellectual” women. “It’s fun and it encourages me to read things that I might not otherwise,” she says of the group. She has also been fortunate to do a little traveling over the years including around Europe. For the past six years she has headed south for a “Chic Week” in the winter with the “Florida Four,” a group of good friends who enjoy the sun. Twyla combines the vacation with a little family time too and stays an extra week longer at the beginning or the end of the trip and is joined by her kids and grandkids. Most of her family, her parents, children, step children and grandchildren live close to her and her fiancé, Curt. At home on the hobby farm she has two horses and a “pet” jersey steer, Red Cow, that she says may have an identity crisis. Red Cow arrived when he was just weeks old and “I’m sure he thinks he’s a horse too,” she says laughing. As for work, Twyla said people have started to ask if she is thinking about retiring soon, “First of all I think, ‘Do I look that old?’” she laughs. And then says it will probably be awhile. Anyway, she said she thinks the key to most things is that you have to just stay challenged and keep active. That does not seem to be a problem.


Sheila Helmberger

Sheila Helmberger is a freelance writer in the Brainerd lakes area.

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th e a r t s


by Theresa Jarvela

photos by Joey Halvorson

Young skater Sophie Schwendeman executes a tricky move.



Six-year-old Melissa Drake sat watching serving on the board of directors, fundrais- responsibility and, with the exception of four the Vacationland Figure Skating Club per- ing and volunteering when needed. The club weeks in April and two weeks at the end of form its Spring Show, “Salute to Disney.” is open to skaters aged 3 to 93 (or older?) August, they skate year-round. The Junior Little did she know that one day the skater Club is for the younger skater who wants to she had come to watch would be her busiThe Basic Skills program (where one advance past Basic Skills and the Bridge ness associate and friend and that together learns the fundamentals of skating) is head- Program and will have individualized they would share their skating passion with ed by Stacey and anyone who has a desire to instruction with a private coach. so many. learn to skate can sign up. Thirty minute Skaters in the Senior Club have passed Seventeen-year-old Stacey Shields was classes are held on Sunday evenings begin- the United States Figure Skating Preexcited because her boyfriend’s mother was ning in October and ending in March. Preliminary “Moves in the Field” and in the audience watching her perform in the The Bridge Class (instruction off and on “Freestyle” tests. They are committed to Vacationland Figure Skating Club’s Spring ice) is the link between Basic Skills and figure skating and VFSC and have taken Show and she had brought along a friend Junior Club. Here the student is introduced their skating to the next level. and the friend had brought along her daugh- to a training program and different skating Those skaters who have a competitive ter, 6-year-old Melissa. Little did Stacey disciplines while learning what is required to nature will find many opportunities to comknow that one day Melissa would be her attain the next level. Since the Bridge Class pete. Skaters of all ages and abilities can business associate and friend and that is in conjunction with the Basic Skills Class, participate in non-qualifying competitions together they would share their skating pas- skaters are on the ice twice a week. to earn awards and showcase skill mastery. sion with so many. Junior and Senior Clubs are Melissa’s According to Melissa, “The nice thing about Fast forward to 2012 and you figure skating competitions is that more than likely will find Melissa you can choose which one(s) to and Stacey at the Brainerd Area attend. You do not have a team Civic Center where Melissa telling you when and where you (Drake) Hannah is the Junior and have to travel. There are competiSenior Club head professional tions held all over the state of and Stacey (Shields) Kruger is the Minnesota. You can find a compeBasic Skills head professional for tition every month of the year.” the Vacationland Figure Skating The beginning skater can comClub (VFSC). (The club moved pete in the Basic Skills to the Civic Center in 1977 after Competitions where they are skating at the outdoor rink in introduced to competing in a fun Bane Park for the first two years.) way. Promoting competition at VFSC was formed by Ms. Pat the grass-roots level encourages DeChaine in 1975 in an effort to skating participation and generprovide the community with a ates enthusiasm. skating alternative to hockey. I asked Stacey if any of the Going strong for 37 years, it is a students pursue skating as a nonprofit organization supported Realizing a dream, Melissa Hannah (left) is the Junior and career or continue after they leave by membership fees, fundraising Senior Club head professional and Stacey Kruger is the Basic the club. Her reply, “Once you and donations. Skaters’ parents Skills head professional for the Vacationland Figure Skating learn how to skate and go through play an active role in the club by Club. a program such as ours, you can


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go just about anywhere that has a figure skating club and inquire about teaching. Of course, once you go through the higher ranked tests, you are just about guaranteed a job as a coach.” So when all is said and done, lessons learned and spins are spun, there’s no greater fun than an ice show! The entire community is invited to attend this annual spring event and see for itself what hard work and dedication have produced. Held at the Brainerd Area Civic Center, the 2012 show is scheduled for March 24 with performances at 1 and 7 p.m. and March 25 at 1 p.m. You can purchase advance tickets from any VFSC member or at Cub Foods in Brainerd or Baxter. When asked if any success stories have come out of Vacationland Figure Skating Club, Stacey and Melissa both respond, “Every skater is a success story.” But if you were to ask me, I would respond, “While that may be true, perhaps two of the most successful stories are Melissa’s and Stacey’s!” For more information contact Stacey at


Theresa Jarvela

Theresa Jarvela lives in Brainerd, is a member of Great River Writers, Brainerd Writers Alliance and Sisters in Crime Organization. Her first novel, “Home Sweet Murder – Spirit Lake,” will be published in June of 2012.

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he a l t h f i e l d

By Audrae Gruber

Karla Provost, respiratory therapist and director of Respiratory Care with Essentia Health, Brainerd, checks the oxygen level of Jerry Schuller.

B The pulmonary team: (left to right) Karla; Dr. Greg Davis, pulmonologist; Diane Forstner, registered nurse; Tasha Michael, respiratory therapist. 36

“Breathe in—one, two. Breathe out—one, two, three, four. Smell the roses, blow out the candles.” Echoes of instructions coming from the pulmonary rehabilitation class on the second floor at Essentia Health –St Joseph’s Medical Center, Brainerd. Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD) patients are participating in the bi-weekly exercise for the 10-week pulmonary rehabilitation program. I first connected with Karla Provost, director of Respiratory Care/Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, as a COPD patient in one of those groups. Although I never smoked, I was diagnosed 30 years ago with COPD because of my history with asthma. It was pure joy to take part in a program that many of us have advocated for in this community and to see the positive response of fellow lung patients. To this date, some 60 patients have participated. Last November, the program celebrated its first year delivering lifeenhancing services to lung patients in the Brainerd and surrounding communities. COPD includes conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and often chronic asthma. Some of the members have been smokers, some have not. There is also a rare genetic component called the Alpha One gene, which identifies patients with a genetic disposition to emphysema. These patients are identified with a simple blood

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sample and treated with life-long medication therapy. No matter what the cause, this group is working hard to maintain and keep high functioning levels with a disease which is incurable. A recent study from The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, CA finds that “one out of every five people over age 35 and older is likely to develop COPD” and the overall risk of developing the disease surpasses heart failure, breast and prostate cancer. The long- awaited rehabilitative program started in Brainerd under the guidance of Dr. Greg Davis, pulmonologist, a new member of the Essentia team. To supervise the program, Karla Provost was chosen to organize and develop the details and carry out the launching of this important service. What good fortune! Karla has been the spark, the force, the energy. Hired in June of 2010, Karla and her team set up a viable program of rehabilitation for patients who previously had been left on their own, coping with a disease which inhibited their ability to breathe and function doing basic daily tasks. Karla’s journey to Brainerd has been unusual and adventurous. She grew up in Pennsylvania and joined the Navy when she was 18. She served eight years of active duty working with airplanes and helicopters. In 1999, she joined the Army National Guard and served three years while attending respiratory school and in 2004, she joined the Air Force Reserve as a respiratory therapist. The year 2011 marked her 19th year of military duty, having served in Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, where she was deployed in 2007. In Iraq, she was a critical care air transport respiratory therapist moving injured soldiers from battle field hospitals to Germany. She says, “This was the most rewarding job of my life.” Karla literally “landed” in Brainerd by virtue of her husband, Kevin Provost, who grew up here and has family roots. Karla and Kevin are raising their two daughters Evie and Amy in this supportive and familiar environment. Kevin also works at Essentia Health in the Brainerd lakes Heart & Vascular Center, so Essentia is a family affair. Karla says she “got into” the pulmonary career when her first born child had breathing difficulties during her first year. Karla was working for an accounting firm at the time and became very aware of the challenges and treatment for those with breathing issues. Her hours spent with her daughter providing nebulizer treatments, watching 24/7 for signs of distress and days in the hospital with asthma and pneumonia became the impetus to become a therapist. She says, “It was the best decision I have ever made for myself and my family.” Her daughter is now a healthy teenager. Passion and devotion combined with intelligence and innovation have provided the Brainerd community with an outstanding member. In this past year she has developed the pulmonary rehabilitation course, set up a pulmonary support group and will graduate in 2012 with a B.S. degree in pulmonary science. She is active in asthma education and pulmonary function testing. Karla’s goals are “to enable patients to become more proactive than reactive, to maintain wellness and to provide education and autonomy for patients to be the best that they can be in dealing with their diagnosis.” She also advocates that patients get involved early in the progression of the disease to maintain a healthier lifestyle as long as possible. Besides all of these qualities, Karla has a wonderful sense of humor and an open and easy way with people. Welcome Karla Provost, her family and pulmonary rehabilitation.


COPD patient and writer (left) Audrae Gruber took Karla’s class at Essentia Health—St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

photos by Joey Halvorson

Audrae Gruber

Audrae Gruber is a retired St. Paul teacher. She studied with author Carol Bly and has written for a number of area publications. She is a member of Brainerd writers, Kindred Street Writers and Heartland Poets and volunteers with Hospice and the Brainerd Library.

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By Kathy Schroeder photos by Joey Halvorson


I reached down and removed the plastic alien from the bathtub without even a second thought. Why wouldn’t I expect to find an alien there? Raising two boys is a daily adventure. Nothing fazes me anymore. The crusty, dirty sock I discovered in the bottom of a vase wasn’t pleasant, but wasn’t entirely surprising either. Kid logic is something I miss having. What seems odd to me is simply normal to them. I’m often told the residents of my house are colorful; myself included, so is it just happening under my roof? Here are a handful of the hundreds of kid logic statements I’ve scratched my head over:

Time spent on chores should be extended as much as possible.

I’ve always looked at chores as a necessary evil. My youngest would disagree. With each item he removes from the dishwasher, he sings about it in an operatic tune. I’ve tried to explain that he doesn’t need to put every single bowl on his head when he’s unloading the dishwasher. He ignores me without pause.

The 5-second rule applies outside also. I’ve watched half eaten apples be set in the dirt next to the playground swings and then later picked up so the child can take a large bite from it. Do kids not have the ability to taste sand? After seeing them use sand-covered hands to grab crackers or chips at the beach, I guess not. Camping has introduced my boys to new levels of dirt. I had just assumed that when the marshmallow falls off the stick and lands in the ashes, no one would want to eat it. Apparently someone does. And he’s my child. 38

Jayce at age 5, “Kissing the fish.” Jayce, (left) now age 10, shows off his “horizontal” move over the family trampoline. Andrew, age 14, gets a leg-up on brother Jayce.

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Sixty seconds and one minute are not equal.

When first learning how to operate the microwave, my youngest insisted that he heat up his food on his own. I conceded and directed him to put it in for a minute. When I went in to the kitchen to check on him, I questioned him: “Did you cook it for one minute?” “No,” he said, “I only did 60 seconds.” This is the same kid that, when I once asked him when he was planning to clean his room, answered, “The day before tomorrow.”

Why stop at kissing a fish?

My brother, thankfully, has taught my kids all the important skills needed to be a successful fisherman. He had my youngest casting before he was 3. I‘ve tried emphasizing the finer rituals of fishing when my brother isn’t around. The boys and I were camping on a beautiful Minnesota lake and the kids spent hours fishing off the dock. My job was to take pictures of each and every fish caught. When my youngest caught his first one, I made him pose with the fish, then reminded him he needed to kiss the fish. He obliged, and as my camera kept snapping photos, he proceeded to then LICK the fish from top to bottom.

Everything has a do-over option.

Anyone who has played any board game or any sport with a child knows everything in their world has a do-over option. Everything. I’m often the one calling a do-over when they claim to have accomplished brushing their teeth in less than 5 seconds, including the time it takes to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush. But I was caught off guard when I heard a do-over one night during our bedtime routine. We finished a story, sang a favorite bedtime song and now it was time for prayers. My youngest went first and after a long dissertation, declared, “Wait. Scratch that.” and called a do-over. Do-overs for prayers. Hadn’t thought of it.

Hygiene. Is it really necessary?

On the rare occasion when I do convince them to bathe, I’m gifted precious moments like the time my youngest called me in to the bathroom to watch him create gas bubbles. Or the time I heard the expected cry from the bathtub of “Can I get out now??” and went in to inspect. I asked if he had washed his hair yet, to which he responded with a bounce in his voice, “No, but I shaved my legs. It felt weird.”

And (drum roll) all-time favorite kid logic statement.

It happened on the drive to school. One of those eerily quiet, haven’t fully woken up yet, contemplative drives. The quiet must have been too much for my outgoing then 7-year-old. Breaking the morning silence, he turned to big brother and stated, “You know you can’t just shoot a monkey.” Good to know. There you have it; some of my favorite Kid Logic moments. Someday, my house will be alien-free. And when it is, I may just go buy some aliens of my own...right after I lick a fish.


Kathy Schroeder

Kathy Schroeder lives in the Brainerd lakes area. By day she works in marketing and by night she laughs with the most amazing 10 and 13 year-old boys you’ll ever meet.

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bon appetit


ooks of onfection

By Beverly Marx photo by Joey Halvorson

ookies: rlite mint c a t S s ’ a m d n a Great Gr ide: hen set as Sift and t ur 3 cups flo ng soda i k a b p s t 1 lt a s 1/2 tsp

Then add: r 1 cup suga wn sugar o r b p u 1/2 c hen add: Mix well t 2 eggs r 2 Tbs wate a ll i n a v p s t 1

e bowl In separat er: th e cream tog tter u b 1/2 cup ortening h s p u ing soda 1/2 c flour, bak 2 hours. n i x i m n the or Beat well, Mix well and chill f nt wafer i m . x e i g m r a t l l g 1 and sa by coverin ed cookie s s a e e i r k g o o n c o e ce Shap walnut. dough. Pla kie with a o with 1 Tbs o c h c a e top inutes or sheet and for 8-12 m s e e r g e d 0 d. Bake at 35 tly browne until ligh


Grandma’s Rhubarb C ake.

1/2 cup s hortening 2 eggs 2 cups fl o 1 1/2 cup ur 1/3 cup m sugar ilk 2 cake? cups It’s rhubarb 1 tsp bak i 1 tsp sal ng soda t 1 tsp cin n 1 tsp all amon spice 1 tsp clo ves


Mix ingre d pour into ients well, 9x13 pan. a greased

In separa What’s the big deal about a birthday or wedding t 1 1/2 cup e bowl mix: because they are for special occasions and special 1 cup bro flour people. Who better knows that than “Not Just w 1 stick o n sugar Cakes” ladies from Aitkin. Owners Christine f butter 1/2 cup n Myers and Amy Workman met at a garage sale uts and their friendship turned into a dream business. Amy made her first cake at the age of 22 and Christine at 17. They look at making cakes like Spread th a work of art. They have an endless list of flais mixtur e on top mixture. vors (last count was over 100) but what really of r Bake at 3 3 5 4 0 50 degree hubarb minutes o makes them unique is that each cake is custom s for r u n til t in dent o created with the client and recipient in mind, f cake co oothpick inserte d mes out c no two are alike. To date they have made over lean. 7,500 cakes. I asked what was their most wild and challenging cake. Christine described a 4 foot tall realistic compound hunting bow and 3D realistic toilet (both for weddings). Everything is eatable on the cakes, including the people statues. Neither owner will eat cake at parties, but they do taste test everything they bake. In 2010 at the Miss Cake of the Lakes Cake contest they won Judge’s Choice. They not only make cakes but also cupcakes, bars, cookies, donuts, homeBeverly Marx made bread, pies and soups; after all they are “Not Just Cakes.” They prefer Beverly Marx and her husband George three days’ notice for an order but once they actually created a wedding cake live on Nisswa Lake year round. They have an with only a few hours notice. In addition they are now selling wedding English Setter named Rainbow that is very gowns and formals at their store. You can view some of their cakes at www. spoiled. She loves living at the lake because it is so peaceful.



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he a l t h

By Bettie Miller

Be Careful,


When I left for Abbott-Northwestern Hospital on August 3rd, I was scheduled for an angiogram. I did pack an overnight bag in case I had to stay over but I never thought I would be gone until August 26th. My aortic valve had narrowed considerably and I consulted with a cardiologist about a new procedure to repair it without going through open heart surgery. He decided I was not a good candidate for that type of treatment so we consulted further with a surgeon who would repair it surgically with a “tissue” valve which meant using a pig or cow valve. There was some urgency in his voice which made me listen carefully to what he was proposing. He could do the surgery in two days. I could go home for a day but he suggested I stay over for preliminary preparations. If I did choose to go back home would I come back? How much time did I need to think about it? If anything I would decide to put it off awhile. So, I stayed. My daughters came to be with me and the surgery proceeded for several hours. The next few days are fuzzy, to say the least, and when I finally woke up I wondered what I had done – the pain was a reminder of exactly what had transpired. One of the first things I noticed was that my breathing was so easy – I had been out of breath for so long without realizing it that breathing without effort was definitely a plus. I looked at my incision and wondered how a surgeon ever got the nerve to do it the first time. Wow! There it was right down the middle from my collarbone to the bottom of my rib cage. But I was still a live human being. Amazing! I was afraid to move and didn’t attempt it when I was alone. Moving was something that would take time I found out so I spent several days in ICU and finally moved to the next tier. The care was excellent and professional but I didn’t think I would ever move freely again. Ouch! The nurses talked to me about follow-up care and cardiac rehab at a closer to home facility so I had to work on getting up and walking with a walker. After a few more days we made arrangements to move on to Brainerd’s Good Samaritan cardiac rehab program.

It’s My Heart

It was now August 15th. One of my daughters stayed with me and we waited impatiently for my discharge papers. And we waited! We left at ten minutes before three and got to Brainerd at 5:10. It was unbelievable how we flew and no ticket – it seemed like the road just cleared the way for us. So, again I settled in for the next step in my recovery. The first thing I noticed as I was wheeled in was a beauty salon. My hair definitely needed some help after days on end in bed. Call it vanity but I could not wait to get in there and it is quite a sight with all the wheelchair patients. Even before I saw the physical therapist I was in there. It was definitely the highlight of my convalescence. No I knew I could handle anything I had to do as soon as I had a new do. A woman has to feel good about the way she looks! Now I was open to rehab and spent 11 days there. I still could not get in and out of bed without help but something told me things would improve when I got home. More arrangements were made for home care and I finally got home on August 26th. A personal aide and a physical therapist would help me at home for two more weeks. They were wonderful! Soon I was doing calisthenics and taking care of my personal grooming alone. The next step was to walk without help and it was a happy day that the walker went back to the basement where it belonged. A cane came in handy for walking outdoors and I kept increasing my walking time. I was on my way now! As a card carrying numbered valve recipient I joined the ranks of Barbara Bush and Barbara Walters. My cow valve actually has its own number in case of any further invasive surgery I may need in the future.

After an angiogram, Bettie Miller had her heart valve repaired rather than undergo open heart surgery.

Bettie Miller

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


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By Jenny Holmes photos by Joey Halvorson


Never underestimate the power of touch. In fact, it’s something Mandy Pfeiffer believes in so strongly, she has chosen to make a career of it. Mandy, 31, decided 13 years ago to devote her life to becoming a massage therapist. She recalls her decision and the passion behind it. “Initially, I wanted to work in the medical field, but I can’t do blood,” she laughed. “I truly have a love for people and I know how touch can really enhance people’s lives. Unfortunately, many people don’t receive touch in their lives and I wanted to show the positive difference it can make.” At the age of 18, Mandy attended a massage therapy school in the Twin Cities area where she received her two-year massage therapy degree. Fresh from school with her certification, her first venture was as a volunteer at the oncology unit of a St Paul hospital. Studying under a Reiki master, Mandy met with cancer patients on a regular basis, practicing aromatherapy and healing touch. “It made my passion for massage therapy even stronger. To see how people received massage and how they could feel the love through your hands. The positive energy you can give through touch is incredible. The patients received it so well. Just giving

love through your hands. How else can you explain it?” Following a few months of working at the hospital, Mandy became a mentor to other students going through the same massage therapy program. She also accepted a position at a salon and day spa in Ramsey before moving to the lakes area in 2005, when she began working at the Glacial Waters Spa at Grand View Lodge. Throughout her career, Mandy has always practiced with a traveling table, offering massage therapy in the privacy of clients’ homes. She has continued to build clientele through referrals “which is really nice. And safe,” she laughed. While many enjoy a spa experience at an actual spa facility, Mandy said a growing number of people prefer to have the massage come to them, within the comforts of their own home. “It’s increasingly popular,” Mandy said of her mobile massage business. “When people know they can trust you and they can invite you into their home... It’s nice to be in an environment where you don’t have to get in your car and go home afterward. You can kick your family out and you’re in a place where you don’t have to deal with environmental changes after you get off the table. After your massage, you can go right to

bed, sit in front of the fire. You don’t have to worry about what your hair looks like. You can enjoy the affects of your massage long after it’s over.” Oftentimes, clients will schedule a massage later in the evening right before bed. Some will light candles to create ambiance. But Mandy said her only requirement is that the client chooses a quiet space in their home in an area that could accommodate a twinsized bed. She takes care of the rest, including the massage table, linens and music. The massage begins with healing breaths, aromatherapy and absolute relaxation. “I like my massage to be uniform, but not cookie cutter uniform,” Mandy said. “I like my touch to be calming and soothing, applying touch where it’s needed with a sense of fluidity. I do it to ensure it’s the most relaxing, even in a deep tissue massage. I can work on

Massage therapist, Mandy Pfeiffer, believes in the healing power of touch.


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trigger points in certain areas of tension, but I always finish with relaxing, soothing and elongating strokes.” Mandy realizes each individual has unique needs and preferences, therefore she offers several different types of massage to her clients:

Deep Tissue Massage –

Includes the manipulation of muscle tissue beneath the surface. Works out trigger points, breaks up scar tissue and adhesions with firm pressure. Mandy said this type of massage is best for those who like a significant amount of pressure. Pressure is delivered primarily to the back, neck, glutes, shoulders, hands and feet.

Basic Swedish Massage –

This is a basic relaxation massage. It includes the manipulation of muscles with long, soothing strokes. It helps increase blood flow and My kids relieves the body of toxins, and alleviates stress. It’s also good for love massage, so lymphatic drainage. Swedish Massage is the “one size fits all” mas- when I bring the table sage, good for every body, and works the entire body. in the house and I put them on it, they understand a little bit more about why Mommy leaves and goes to work. They love touch. My little man lies on the couch and Stone Massage – Warm (or hot) stone massage virtually melts muscles into submis- puts his feet in my lap. He’s 16 months. My Lidia always has a hand sion. This type of massage is grounding and takes you back into on me and my oldest daughter, Maddie, loves a good scalp massage. nature, “relaxing you down to your soul,” Mandy says. Heat warms We’re a touchy family because that’s what I do. Even my husband the entire body as shaped and polished stones from Lake Superior knows what I do is important because he appreciates it so much.” Mandy concludes, “I love what I do. Everyone has something are warmed and applied with oils during the massage process. Mandy said, like the Basic Swedish, Stone Massage is also good for every special that they’ve been put on this earth to do. God gave me the body, especially those with circulation issues or during the cold, win- gift of touch. All the work through my hands comes from the Lord. He gives me the love that I can pass on to others.” ter months.

Sports Massage –

Popular amongst athletes, especially golfers, this type of massage integrates stretching to warm and engage muscles. Invigorating, quick massage confuses muscles into submission. Mandy said this type of massage is not intended to be relaxing, but rather stimulate muscles prior to activity.


Pregnancy Massage –

As a certified doula, Mandy also offers massage for expectant women up to the day they deliver. Pregnancy Massage helps relax the pelvic girdle and helps to later force pressure downward. The massage is performed while Mom lies on her side, using pillows to prop both her and baby to maximize comfort. Attention is focused on the hips and sacrum, relaxing muscles. She also works on legs and the round ligaments that are used differently during pregnancy. Expectant fathers can also pick up tips from Mandy on maximizing Mom’s comfort during labor with gentle massage and touch techniques.

Jenny Holmes

Once a Brainerd Dispatch reporter, Jenny Holmes now owns a public relations and communication company. She lives in Nisswa with her husband, two children, two dogs and a cat.

Mandy offers her mobile massage service on evenings and weekends by appointment and provides services in 60- and 90-minute increments. One exciting offering she provides for ladies are home spa days. Mandy and two friends travel to offer massages and treatments for bridal showers, baby showers or just a fun girls night out at home. One question beckons to be asked – as a massage therapist by trade, does the family benefit during “off hours?” “At my house, we always tease – a mechanic’s car is never fixed. A massage therapist’s husband is never massaged,” she laughs. As a busy mother of three she says, “it’s a struggle to balance everything.

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he r s a y


Daily I filed through the lunch line at Hamline University’s Sorin Hall, bypassing the grapes, in solidarity with the Cesar Chavez farm workers boycott, and sat at an empty table by the window looking out over the campus. “Would anyone come and sit with me?” I wondered, still haunted by high school insecurity. But, when lunch was over, I found myself quite ready to be alone, back in my single at Manor House. I climbed the stairs to my third floor dorm room and, unbeknownst to me, began a noon ritual that would stick with me for decades. I’d shut the door, turn on the TV and settle into a pre-class afternoon break. The theme song brought their faces floating out of the “All My Children” family album and into my life. I found their escapades, feuds and occasional forays into social issues a relief compared to the drama conjured up at the college dorm! It never occurred to me that, nearly 40 years later, I would still harbor this “tug to 44

By Jan Kurtz photos by Joey Halvorson

the TV,” checking in occasionally to see what was up with Erica Kane or Tad and Dixie! At the time, they were like school classmates, there everyday, living through universal pubescent trials, with the advantage of my not getting involved. But, after college graduation, these personages did not go off into the world, only to come back into my life at a five-year reunion. They were available week days growing older with the rest of us. After college, I lived with Grandma Hazel for the summer. She, too, had her “stories.” Grandma would make us sandwiches, pull out the TV trays and sit herself on the sofa, patting the spot next to her for me. She would shush me with a glance or let out an exasperated, “Can’t she see that man is no good?” shaking her finger in warning, but saving her tirade for the commercials. I knew that men yelled at TV sports, but did not discover women gathering to watch “their stories” until I traveled to Mexico. It was soon apparent that going to the munici-

pal market during “telenovela time” was useless. From one stall to another, vendors clustered around small televisions, propped on the merchandise. Not yet understanding much Spanish, the “novelas” took on a bizarre pantomime of over-exaggerated gesturing and heart-wrenching shrieks emitted from red painted lips. At least in Mexico, the stories ended within 12-16 weeks, offering the fans some closure. Back in the States, the story lines just kept coming. After I got married, my patronage grew sporadic. Yet, when I was home on a week day, I’d feel the temptation of the 12 o’clock hour, and might be found headed to the TV room with lunch or a basket of laundry to fold. Sometimes, I tuned in out of curiosity. Sometimes, it offered a safe way to ride the roller-coaster of life’s emotions without having to invest myself too deeply. By the millennia, AMC had ventured into themes of gay marriage, alcoholism, breast cancer and

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most recently, returning war vets. When they touched my issues, my temper would rise and my tears fall, cleansing me vicariously. Like a good book or a movie, I could release. Whatever the attraction, there they were, any day that I choose to check in. When AMC published a 25th anniversary family album, I realized some of these characters had been in my life longer than many of my friends! But, the option to pop in and catch up on the latest adventures is over. All My Children was canceled and the writers scrambled to make a wrap. They brought back former characters (such as Carol Burnett, a major AMC fan) in hair-brained skits. Dixie and Zach did not die, but were scooped up by the wicked Dr. David, (or was he just a genius in stem cell research?) Yes, the hint that a number of previously deceased might have been saved kept the dedicated watching for more miraculous resurrections! Oh, to have our “dead” back! Or…wait… maybe not! As AMC wound down, Erica Kane was seen dictating her autobiography, uncovering matured self-discoveries dating back to my days at Hamline. As she did so, I gave pause to review my own life. I have already bid adieu to Bonanza, the Beatles, AMC and now, Garrison Keillor foreshadows his retirement. Their stories have been part of my story. Perhaps yours. These connect our common story. We grieve the changes and realize…their changes are ours! Life is passing… But wait. The ink is not dry on the obituary. There is cyberspace…stay tuned. Or not.


A fan since her college days, Jan Kurtz mourns the ending of the daily soap, “All My Children.”

Jan Kurtz

Jan’s travels, professional and personal time are a blend of her northern roots sprinkled with a dash of Spanish. She is equally inspired by the family cabin and downtown Madrid. Her business card reads: “Bilingual optimist.”

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Her Voice Service Directory • Spring 2012 Assisted Living

Excelsior Place 14211 Firewood Drive Baxter, MN (218) 828-4770 Good Neighbor Home Health Care (218) 829-9238 (888) 221-5785


Accucare Audiology 14275 Golf Course Rd #220 Baxter, MN (218) 454-3277 Preferred Hearing 17274 State Hwy 371 Brainerd, MN 56401 1-800-458-0895


Auto Import 22 Washington Street Brainerd, MN (218) 829-3307 Mills Honda Hwy 210 Brainerd/Baxter 866-455-7638


Northern Family Chiropractic 13968 Cypress Dr. Suite 1B Baxter, MN 218-822-3855


Nor-Son 7900 Hastings Rd Baxter, MN (218) 828-1722 (800) 858-1722


Just For Kix 6948 Lake Forest Road Brainerd, MN (218) 829-7107 Music General 416 South 7th Street Brainerd, MN (218) 829-0076



Lakes Area Women’s Expo Saturday, April 21, 2012 (218) 851-1974

Family Planning

Natural Family Planning 523 North Third Street Brainerd, MN (218) 829-2861


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


Essentia Health St. Joseph’s Hospital 218-829-2861 Brainerd Clinic (218) 828-2880 Baxter Clinic - Now Open! (218) 828-2880 Lakewood Health System Staples Motley Pillager Eagle Bend Browerville (218) 894-1515 (800) 525-1033


Showplace Kitchens 15860 Audubon Way Baxter, MN (218) 824-4228


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


Great Northern Opticians 2020 South 6th Street Brainerd, MN (218) 829-1335 Midwest Family Eye 7870 Excelsior Rd Baxter, MN (218) 828-9545

Opticians (cont.)

Midwest Family Eye 201 1st St NE Staples, MN (218) 894-5480 Northern Eye Center Brainerd Little Falls Staples 218-829-2020 1-800-872-0005


Hirshfield’s 7447 Clearwater Rd Baxter, Minnesota (218) 824-0926


Northern Psychiatric Associates 7115 Forthun Rd # 105 Baxter, MN (218) 454-0090

Real Estate

Claudia Allene 15354 Dellwood Drive, Ste 100 Baxter, MN 218-820-9354 Cygneture Title 13432 Elmwood Drive, Suite 1 Baxter, MN 218-828-0122


O’Design Pequot Lakes, MN 218-340-6172 Rohlfing Inc. 923 Wright Street Brainerd, MN (218) 829-0303

Window Treatments

Arlean’s Drapery 4835 County Road 16 Pequot Lakes, MN (218) 568-8280

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Her Voice Magazine - Spring 2012  

• Two Sticks and Some String: This woman was knitting long before the arrival of her grandchild – now she shares what she knows about baby k...

Her Voice Magazine - Spring 2012  

• Two Sticks and Some String: This woman was knitting long before the arrival of her grandchild – now she shares what she knows about baby k...