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Iron Waffle Owner Doesn’t Waffle




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Spring ‘16 Contents


Living Through Lyme Disease


Razing the Barn


Service in San Isidro, Nicaragua

36 42

This woman overcame the odds of a debilitating disease to run a marathon. By Arlene Jones

In her personal essay, the author reveals a mix of emotions in the razing of a family barn. By Donna Salli

Brainerd resident Morgan Twamley spent nearly two challenging years in Nicaragua as a peace corps volunteer. By Carolyn Corbett

It’s Rocket Science

Now working for NASA, this BHS grad may up her technically rigorous career to the level of astronaut. By Jenny Holmes

Women in Tech

Here are three savvy women making their mark in tech sector careers in the Brainerd lakes area. By Rebecca Flansburg


On The Cover Iron Waffle owner Stacy Stranne


Photo by Joey Halvorson

In This Issue editorial • 4

crafts • 16

her say• 28

By Marlene Chabot

By Lisa Henry

See How She Runs

Funky Junk

food• 5

needlework• 18

energy• 30

By Linda Hurst

By Janice Bradshaw

by Meg Douglas

Iron Waffle Owner Doesn’t Waffle

A Stitch in Time

entrepreneurs• 12

A Thrifty Business

Here’s to Volunteers and Volunteering!

clubs and clusters• 14

the arts• 24

By Joey Halvorson

By Carolyn Corbett

Lakes Area Yoga celebrates 20 Years in 2015 By Denise Sundquist

her Voice ISO• 20

By Rebecca Flansburg

Hank of Hair, Piece of Bone By Karen Ogdahl

Moving in with Grandma

18 travel • 38

Traveling With Tots— Treasure not Terror By Jan Kurtz

A Passion for Solar business• 32

Overcoming Obstacles By Cynthia Bachman

books • 34

Library Love Leads to Wine and Words by Mary Aalgaard

Spring 2016 | her voice 3

from the editor


See How She Runs

By women. For women. About women.



Smith is a newcomer to the Brainerd lakes area, but it hasn’t taken her long to make a mark.

Executive director of the United Way of Crow Wing and Southern Cass Counties since September 2013 and owner of Nisswa Yoga since October of 2012, Jennifer arrived in the community with her sleeves rolled up, ready to put down roots and get to work. No surprise that a board would seize on her experience. There’s an aura of energy about her, a winning smile and a genuine interest in others. When asked, United Way board member and Lakes Printing owner Kevin Thesing agrees, “She’s the real deal.” If I sound like her campaign manager, it’s because I’m ready to vote her into office. Goodness knows the city, county, country is crying for leaders with her skill set. Put collaboration high on the list. Jennifer sits at the table with Essentia Health and seven other stakeholders, developing a Reach Out and Read program that state leaders want to promote nationally. For TEDx Gull Lake, a local idea-generating initiative last fall, Jennifer took on the role of master of ceremonies, moving the program along with style and energy. “She made it flow, she made it fun,” says attendee Joey Halvorson. We’d like to think that collaborating — ‘playing well with others’ — is learned in kindergarten. But Jennifer credits her four years at the National Cancer Institute for teaching her the ins and outs of communications and management. With a top notch researcher, Dr. Howard Fine, as a mentor in the Washington D.C. world of politicians 4 Spring 2016 | her voice


Pete Mohs EDITOR

Jennifer Smith and Phil Hunsicker, co-masters of ceremonies at TEDx Gull Lake.

and leaders, Jennifer learned the practical aspect of running an effective organization and the fine art of diplomacy. Credit, too, living in a variety of locations. A South Dakotan by birth, graduate of the University of South Dakota, Jennifer had already lived and worked around the world for over four years, before settling in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., a resort area with mountains, where she managed art galleries. Then cross country to Bethesda, Md., and the challenges of a governmental agency and urban life. It was a serious car accident, says Jennifer, that ultimately brought her back to Minnesota and the Brainerd lakes area where her parents lived. Not that she hadn’t yearned for home before, missing friends’ weddings, family gatherings during the holidays, help with a young son as a single mom. But the accident, she says, landed her in physical therapy for over a year, after surgery, “altering her physical and mental state,” connecting her to core values about working with people in a way that changed lives. Ultimately, she says, in her tendency to find the positive, the accident proved to be a springboard to a new life. After the accident, Jennifer started a yoga practice that fuels her body, mind and spirit and eventually, a business venture. We in the lakes area are lucky to have her as an up and coming leader. Meg Douglas, Editor


Cindy Spilman Lisa Henry PHOTOGRAPHER

Joey Halvorson COPY EDITOR

DeLynn Howard


(entertainment tab)

CONTACT US: Advertising:

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(218) 855-5871 Mail: ATTN: Her Voice Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 974, Brainerd, MN 56401 A quarterly publication of the Brainerd Dispatch. Printed by Forum Communications.

copyright© 2003 VOLUME 16, EDITION 1 SPRING 2016

Stacy Stranne, (right) works alongside Sarah Markham at the Iron Waffle in Nisswa.

Iron Waffle Owner Doesn’t


Iron Waffle owner Stacy Stranne ate her first iron waffle at a farmer’s market in Denver. “I was never one to go

eat a waffle,” she said, “but after having one, Jeremiah, my boyfriend, and I would take our Sundays and go to wherever the waffles were.” The Colorado waffle people eventually got a waffle truck and Stacy returned to the lakes area thinking she might want to do a food truck too.

Spring 2016 | her voice 5

A Liége waffle made of ham, goat cheese and raspberry preserves.

The Iron Waffle Coffee Company

at Sherwood Forest is located at 8785 Interlachen Road, Lake Shore, MN. Phone: 218-963-6317. Daily specials posted on their Facebook page.

6 Spring 2016 | her voice

“I always wanted to have a store in Nisswa,” said Stacy. “Always had a dream to have my own little something. Never dreamed it would be this.” She loves Nisswa but Nisswa has an overabundance of boutiques. Stacy knew she wanted to do something unique, not just compete. John Poston, one of the owners of Sherwood Forest, came to Stacy and her friend PJ Overvold, with an idea. Stacy was working for PJ at the Red Umbrella and the two women had decorated Sherwood Forest for the 2014 Christmas season. John admired the beautiful job they’d done and proposed they open a boutique in the old Sherwood Forest bunkhouse. Stacy didn’t feel a boutique would work well in the woods. “I have this waffle iron,” she said, “and I’ve eaten an iron waffle.” They could do the waffle idea in a small space. Stacy is intuitive and she felt good about this for a specialty niche. John was unsure at first, but after he looked up the whole waffle thing, he came back excited

about it. Her germ of an idea was planted and ready to sprout. It came together fast. Opening day was June 3, 2015, and part of the reason this took off like it did was the location. Stacy was thinking later they probably shouldn’t have opened at such a busy time of the year. The first few weekends they were swamped. One day PJ came out with friends and ended up in the kitchen doing dishes. Stacy’s sister and stepdad also had their hands in the dishwater. It was a team effort from the beginning. One of the lead team members is Kay Saxvold. Kay, who had known Stacy since she was born, hired her at age 14 to work at the Nisswa and Pine River Dairy Queen. She worked alongside Sarah Markham all the way to high school graduation. In the great circle of life, Kay and Sarah are now Stacy’s trusted employees. “To do this together with Kay and Sarah is really fun. John and PJ comprise more of the team. I also have tons of family support.” Kay does all the baking at the Iron

Brainerd native and photographer Joey Halvorson loves sampling the wares of her Nisswa neighborhood.

“She’s got a great work ethic, nonstop energy and she’s very creative”

John Poston owns the Iron Waffle building, and is part of the “team”.

A Positive Team


Waffle including candy, cookies, bars, muffins, caramel rolls, cinnamon rolls and pies. Besides serving waffles the coffee shop also has a soup of the day. Stacy had more anxiety about making coffee drinks than anything else. She took some classes in Minneapolis, and the woman who brought the coffee machine helped train her. Stacy gets her coffee from Stonehouse in Nisswa every week. Fresh coffee is a Stonehouse trademark. PJ did the interior design and decoration for the new building, transforming it from a 1930s bunkhouse to the Iron Waffle of the 21st century. Stacy said she wouldn’t have been able to do all she has without this winning team effort. Stacy is the perfect person for this venture. “She’s got a great work ethic, nonstop energy and she’s very creative,” says John. “She knows how to build a team good people surround themselves with good people.” Stacy’s waffles are not your normal size waffles. This is a mini-waffle loaded with goodies. It is called the Liège, a richer, denser, sweeter and chewier waffle native to Eastern Belgium. It is topped with fruits and sweets and breakfast treats. John kept telling Stacy she needed to have a traditional Minnesota waffle. “I kept telling her she was making a mistake and telling and telling her, but she was right, right, right and I was wrong, wrong, wrong.” In the beginning, Stacy thought this would be “a hobby job,” but now she would like to have a bigger menu and a larger venue. In early November Stacy signed a lease to open her second shop in Steamboat Springs, Co. “I’m scared, but ... I am also only 100feet from the ski hill gondola.” When it comes to making decisions, Stacy doesn’t waffle. n

Kathy Herold REALTOR®/GRI



Jana Froemming REALTOR®/Agent


Spring 2016 | her voice 7




Jennifer Peterson has always loved the outdoors,

running and strength training. Growing up in a rural area

outside of Brainerd, she has been training and riding horses since the age of 7. Moving from ponies to horses, Jennifer Jen finished a marathon in October 2015. She put her boots on for comfort after her run.

received Sam from her parents at the age of 12. They would forever be a team.

When not training for competition, Sam and Jennifer trail ride, or just enjoy the long and winding trails between her home and where she spent her youth. At the age of 25, Jennifer began feeling very fatigued, couldn’t sleep at night and would spend her nights nauseated and vomiting. She had just married, purchased her own home and opened her own salon. While she was still able to do a lot of the physical work of training her horses and sometimes running, she was exhausted. After numerous lab tests, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. A number of studies list Crow Wing County as a leader in reported cases of Lyme disease within the state of Minnesota. Treatment consisted of the traditional course of Doxycycline for three weeks. At the end of that treatment, not feeling better and continuing to have symptoms of fatigue, nausea and vomiting, she was again exhausted. Jennifer was told by a friend to “never quit until you’re back to normal.” After receiving another course of Doxycycline, Jennifer was retested for other things. She again tested positive for Lyme disease and was treated with a double dose of Doxycycline. She says she was still sick, throwing up regardless of what she ate. The result may have been that she just couldn’t keep the meds down. Jennifer says she kept telling her physician that she was not any better…receiving a reply of “you should be.” She went a year with no treatment, learning to adapt to the symptoms – vomiting, trouble eating, fatigue, brain fog, and not being able to think clearly with trouble finding words when in normal everyday conversation. She feels her most successful treatment was a holistic treatment of herbal and vitamin supplements, which made her physically feel better, but she knew it 8 Spring 2016 | her voice

Jen with her horse, Sam, at the Crow Wing County Fair. Photo by Arlene Jones

was not a cure. As for the horses, she occasionally rode - but she paid for it by not eating so she wouldn’t vomit. She knew that if she didn’t ride and compete, she would fall more deeply into depression. She adjusted her diet to mainly consist of potatoes, crackers, white carrots and bananas. After a trip to Montana with longtime friends, one of her friends, an RN, saw how Jennifer had to adjust her diet in order to engage in daily normal activities and decided to help manage Jennifer’s health. Reaching out to local healthcare, she was then referred to the Center for Infectious Disease in Duluth at St. Mary’s Hospital. Through testing, Lyme disease was again diagnosed. This time, due to her inability to find words and the

“I know it’s not fast, but I did it.” - Jennifer Peterson

Jen’s first time on Sam after her picc line was removed.

neurological symptoms present, oral antibiotics were ruled out and a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line was recommended. She received her first PICC line with daily antibiotic infusions in 2009 and after six weeks of IV antibiotic therapy she did start to feel better. On her six-week checkup, Jennifer was told she was finished with treatment – leaving with a false belief that she was cured. Jennifer later learned that her physician was caught in the crosshairs of administering the controversial treatment of longterm antibiotics for Lyme disease and stopped treatment. In the 2010 legislative session, Rep. John Ward was the chief author of legislation that would protect physicians who prescribe long-term courses of antibiotics for persistent Lyme patients. The legislation was the impetus for the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice to invoke a voluntary five-year moratorium on investigating, disciplining or otherwise issuing a corrective action based solely on the long-term prescription or administration of use of antibiotic therapy for chronic Lyme disease. That moratorium ended July of 2015. In the 2015 legislative session, Minnesota did pass a statute mandating all health care coverage to include Lyme disease and no other special restriction on treatment for Lyme disease that the health plan does not apply to non-preventive treatment in general. Jennifer went for six months before she noticed symptoms returning and waited a year before she sought treatment, returning to her local physician. Testing revealed multiple lab abnormali-

ties and she was referred to St. Cloud. Not completely satisfied with traditional treatment, Jennifer reached out to another specialist in Willmar. His recommendation was to follow through with traditional treatment until she could get into see him – in five months. During this time, the Lyme symptoms doubled. Long-term antibiotic use through the PICC line was again reinstituted. Her PICC line was inserted in the Twin Cities and over the course of just over two years, she infused herself daily with multiple antibiotics (eight hours daily alternating with fluids). At one point, a blood clot developed and she had to have the PICC line removed locally and made another trip to the cities to have it reinstalled and once again, when she acquired a Staph infection. Sam sat idle and her love of running was a distant memory. Her PICC line was removed Jan. 11, 2014, after two years and two months of antibiotic therapy. Jennifer continued to follow up with her physician in Willmar for lab reviews through the spring of 2014. Her final visit occurred Aug. 19, 2014. She had started to work out and test her body throughout the summer with no symptoms and no pain. Her physician asked her, “How do you feel about being cured?” Jennifer says, “I wanted to find ways to believe that I was cured. I realized that doing extreme workouts and riding Sam more and being outside, was my way of testing that.” Her first extreme workout was in November 2014. “I got out of the pool and was in the shower. I realized that what I needed to believe was that I could push my body that hard, and not feel symptoms or pain. I broke down in the shower and cried, believing I was, finally, cured.” Jennifer continued with her extreme workouts, began running longer distances, and continued to compete with Sam. She decided in August of 2015 to take on the Twin Cities Marathon. However, she had one more thing to conquer – competing with Sam at the Western Saddle Clubs Association State Championships in St. Paul in September of 2015. Jennifer and Sam, who is now widely known as the 33-year-old wonder horse, took first place in Saddle Seat Equitation and second place in Bareback. On the day before the marathon, Jennifer received a call from someone who wanted to ask Jennifer questions on the PICC line treatment and if Jennifer thought it worked. Jennifer’s response: “Well, I’m running the Twin Cities Marathon tomorrow.” After a summer of training and pushing her body, Jennifer completed the Twin Cities Marathon – all 26.2 miles. She finished in 5 hours and 6 minutes and says, “I know it’s not fast, but I did it.” n Arlene Jones actively farms 80 acres with her husband, Bob, just outside of Brainerd. The Farm on St. Mathias is known as a destination farm, growing the region’s premiere vegetables, hosting numerous weddings and fundraisers and fall family fun. In her spare time, Arlene is dedicated to genealogy, family time and local foods. She is also a current Bush Fellow. Spring 2016 | her voice 9



I stood in the hot sun and

watched my brother pull nails.

One by one, weathered board by weathered board, he was pulling down the barn our grandparents had built 90 years before. It was a big barn with a hayloft. I have no idea how long it took to put up. It took two summers to tear down. Every swing of his hammer was hammering at my heart. That’s not to say I didn’t see the necessity in what he was doing. The barn was falling down. The insurance man had said we were on our own with it. We were looking at a tilting, two-story liability. My parents had taken over the farm from my grandmother, Mummu. For close to 40 years, they relished and cared for it. Mom had been born in the house — the chair she drank her coffee in every morning sat in the exact spot where she’d drawn her first breath. She and Dad added on to and modernized the house, but they preserved the outbuildings as they were, staying ahead of decay. It was a bit laissez-faire, but the vintage feel was part of the farm’s charm. Toward the end of my father’s life, his heart was failing. He had trouble doing even basic upkeep, and a peculiarity of his aging was he didn’t want anyone else to do it. We watched him fade, slowly at first, then headlong. We’d expected one more holiday season, all of us together, but didn’t get it. A week before Christmas, the 10 Spring 2016 | her voice

day we’d dreaded came. Our mother was at the farm alone and the barn was falling. Our identity was in that farm, every rock pile, every tree and blade of grass, every cloud that passed overhead, every storm front skirting majestically to the north over Lake Superior. And yes, every board coming off the barn. There’s a family story. When Mummu and Paappa — as we called my grandfather — bought the land in the 1920s, times were tough. As they moved their belongings out to it, they pledged to stay, no matter what the future brought. And they did. Through digging up rocks, cutting trees, blasting stumps, through hand-hewing boards and logs for the sauna, the house, the outbuildings, through caring for stock, planting and haying, late springs and early frosts. There was always early frost. My grandparents loved the farm. Mummu lived there another 10 years after Paappa passed, but my strongest images are of Paappa. Maybe it’s because I look like his family. Maybe it’s because his father was a writer — the salmon-colored book whispering from my grandparents’ bookshelf of his authorship — because the impulse, the need, to explicate moments had come to me, too. My grandfather would go out and walk the farm, alone, all hours. His path edged the rock-pile fences. He and Mummu especially loved the twilight hours. My siblings and I spent many evenings with them watching the sun sink into the tree

The author’s grandparents, Hilda and Väinö, as newlyweds. Hirvela Studio, Ironwood, Mich.

line and stars swirl out of it. I’ve often thought Paappa’s deep connection to the farm had roots in his early life. He was born in Finland, which had a fraught history with Russia and Sweden, being located between them. As a boy in the 1890s, Paappa knew well a family story about an earlier war between those two countries. The family home had been next to a highway then. To protect the house from passing troops, his great-grandfather took it apart, piece-by-piece, moved it uphill,

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The Barn’s last winter.

the family, despite our agonized tears, thinking of life without it, we were descended from emigrant stock, people with eyes to the horizon, and we, too, had made lives elsewhere. None of us could take it over. We were coming to accept, slowly, we could keep only the spirit of our beloved home. We’d be selling the farm. Our mother was alone and the barn was falling down. n Donna Salli holds a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from UMass, Amherst. A poet, essayist, fiction writer and playwright, she lives in Brainerd and teaches at Central Lakes College. Her novel, “A Notion of Pelicans,” will be released from North Star Press later this year.


and put it back together in the woods, where it couldn’t be seen. Many families did the same and later moved their houses back. When Paappa was 8 years old, he watched his father finally move their house back, closer to where it had been. It must have been disquieting to him, to realize how vulnerable the family had been, and in fact still was. No wonder, when he’d grown up, he loved his own safe piece of earth. My brother is a hard worker. He dismantled the barn by himself, with help from a cousin to take the highest boards down. In what seemed a very short time, the barn’s walls were gone, and it was just a roof on upright supports. As I stood and looked at its skeletal frame, I knew we’d been seeing over the last months what Mummu saw as the barn was going up, only in reverse. My heart ached, thinking of what she felt as she watched the work progress, fragrant board after board, nail after shiny nail — the anticipation, the years of marriage still ahead, the children that would be born, weddings, grandchildren. Now, here we were, razing the barn. An enemy that could scale any hill and could see into the densest stand of trees had passed and changed everything. It had taken our father. By the time my brother went back to work on the barn the following spring — it having somehow survived a winter of heavy snow, tilting even more — we’d had family discussions enough to understand that razing it was the first step toward a likely sad outcome. My mother owned the farm, of course, but we all thought of it as ours. Despite our grandparents’ hope the farm would stay in

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A Thrifty Business “If you are patient, whatever you are looking for shows up at a good price.” - Julie LaValle


Three years ago, Julie and Dennis LaValle sold their business, North Central Medical Supply, and retired. For six months. Bored, they bought a building on Washington Street in Brainerd, the old Meyer’s Cleaners, and fixed it up with plans to rent it out. They did lease a portion of the building to an insurance agent. The rest of the building became The Mercantile, a wonderful thrift shop.

Mercantile owner, Julie LaValle, displays a handy fold-up service tray.

The Mercantile 423 Washington St Brainerd, MN 218-270-3352 Mercantilebrainerd 12 Spring 2016 | her voice

The store is bright, clean, an appealing place for browsing. Every week new treasures line the shelves of the comfortably wide aisles. Julie never knows what she’ll find during any particular buying excursion, so there’s no telling what will show up in the store. The variety is one of the reasons customers keep coming back. “This store is awesome,” says Taffy Wood, a regular customer. “Great prices and great people.” Medical supply was stressful. Paperwork and insurance forms consumed Julie’s life until she wasn’t able to work with the people. She wanted fun. Her cheerful attitude and warm smile show she has fun with The Mercantile. Turns out, though, she’d never been a thrifter in her life before becoming a thrift shop owner. She went out thrifting with her son and daughter-in-law in the Twin Cities and thought, “We could do this.” Now she loves going to auctions and estate sales to acquire merchandise for the store.

An out of town tourist loved the glassware at The Mercantile.

The LaValles’ buying territory ranges from Brainerd to the Twin Cities. The past two winters they’ve gone down to Texas/New Mexico area for a monthlong shopping trip, stopping at smaller towns for a bite to eat and check out the local newspaper. “We have a great time doing it and get items from different regions.” Estate sales offer the best prices. Sometimes they buy out the entire sale. Then they triage. Some items go straight to the store or to the warehouse. Some are donated or recycled or put into a free box at the store. Dennis’ online auctions are another way to move merchandise. Large furniture, tools, etc., are listed on under their affiliate name of Last Chance Auctions. Winners of the auctions pick up their items from the LaValles’ warehouse. Julie doesn’t even know what some things are. She puts a note on these saying that the person who identifies it gets a discount. Prices are quite reasonable. “If we get really good prices on items, we try to pass that on to customers,” says Julie. Often she will be at the counter and hear people exclaim, “I used to have one of these!” One of her favorite sales came

after she heard, “Oh my gosh, I’m taking that toy box!” It was a wonderful wooden toy box from the ‘50s that reminded the buyer of the one he’d had when he was a boy. Lucy the Lobster lives at the shop. Julie hides the red plastic lobster somewhere in the store and whoever finds her gets 10 percent off their purchase for the day. Sometimes no one finds it for a week or so. The idea wasn’t focused toward kids, but Julie finds it keeps youngsters busy while their parents shop. Lucy might be tucked away near a Black & Decker Smart Rotisserie or the coffee pots or a vintage fire pump. She might be hanging out by the Nintendo Wii game controller covers or the comics. Perhaps she’s by the candles, the globe or the picture frames. One just never knows. The Mercantile is on Facebook, which is a great way for shoppers to find out what Julie has on sale each week. Many customers simply find the store when driving by and spotting the big banner outside. Some are sent by other thrift shops in the area. “The thrift stores in Brainerd are good about referring to each other,” Julie explains. Julie and Dennis buy very little for

themselves except clothing and food. Most everything else comes from their buying trips. The two don’t really need a lot and downsized their own belongings four years ago when they moved. They have a guideline for deciding what they will take home from the sales they attend. Whatever it is goes up for sale in the store. If it doesn’t sell within a month, they can bring it home. “After a while it clicks,” says Julie. “If you are patient, whatever you are looking for shows up at a good price.” If they want a new rake, sooner or later it comes along. The best part of running The Mercantile? “I don’t have to tell people they can’t have what they need anymore, that they can’t get necessary medical supplies because their insurance won’t cover it.” n Prior to her pastime of playing with words, Carolyn Corbett taught elementary school for 14 years before resigning to sail off into the sunset. Literally. Upon her return, she tutored English and writing at Central Lake College. Today, as a freelance writer/editor, Carolyn has over 250 articles published in cruising, parenting and general interest magazines. Spring 2016 | her voice 13


clubs and clusters

Taking yoga classes at the Franklin Art Center are (left to right) Bette Lorentz, Davi Kirkpatrick, Jan Anderson, Sarah Gorham, teacher, and Mariellen Abramson

Lakes Area Yoga Celebrates By DENISE SUNDQUIST

20 Years in 2015

It’s safe to say there are a lot

more people wearing yoga pants than actually practicing yoga. This recent fashion trend only adds to the misconception that yoga is for the young, impossibly thin woman doing advanced poses in exotic locations.

Many people think it’s not for them since they don’t have a perfect body. But at Lakes Area Yoga, everyone is welcome. They make yoga accessible to all, regardless of age, size or ability. While the pants are a fashion fad, yoga’s not. Yoga has been around for more than 500 years. In 2015, Lakes Area Yoga Association (LAYA) celebrated their 20th anniversary. LAYA serves hundreds of students in the Brainerd and Nisswa area in various locations such as the Franklin Arts Center and Nisswa Elementary School. Classes are generally eclectic and 14 Spring 2016 | her voice

vary with each teacher’s background. The instructors respect each individual’s abilities and needs and offer appropriate variations for the poses. After I spent time with some of the yoga students at LAYA, I learned we actually do live in an exotic location. Lakes, rivers, woods, world class golf courses and hundreds of miles of recreational trails give us endless opportunity for boating, golfing, cross country skiing, biking and nature walks (to name a few!) Practicing yoga allows us to continue enjoying our Northwood amenities. Unfortunately, as we age, we lose flexibility, muscle strength, and balance making us less likely to continue those outdoor adventures. The yoga practice can improve all three. LAYA student Sue is encouraged, “I could bike ride this spring after doing yoga all winter and I could walk across rocks in a stream. I could never do that before.” Jan was a yoga student for years at LAYA when she worked. But when she retired to Garrison she thought, “Well it’s another trip to Brainerd.” She just kind of let it slip. She had her yoga mat at home and practiced her stretches and the yoga poses but was always concerned whether she was doing

them properly with no one to guide her. While Jan was committed, she realized she missed poses to help her with her balance during a sailing vacation with her family, “My balance was gone. It was horrible. That was a shock.” Yoga helps you maintain your quality of life. Student Davi said, “I would love to be one of those people that wants to run a marathon, but I truly I don’t. I want ordinary things to remain ordinary, not to become monumental tasks.” “I want to be able to reach the bowl that I placed in my top cupboard. I want to be able to step from the dock to the boat without overthinking it.” Carole added, “I have a very busy granddaughter so I have to have energy to keep up with her.” Besides the physical, yoga offers mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits. Yoga can calm an anxious state, elevate a depressed mood, and generally allows people to better cope with life’s challenges such as stress and chronic pain. Mariellen worked for 40 years as a registered nurse. She retired, but continues to work as a casual sub in the cardiac rehab center at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center. When she is at yoga she works on her flexibility and relaxation. She has a lot of stress in her life right now and yoga helps relieve the tension. “I just want to be able to function at a good level. I’m in my 70s and I want to be able to do this in my 80s. I want to be able take care of my patients.” A few years ago Sue was faced with a tragic news situation. While she previously struggled to control her emotions during high stress moments, she was now able to take a take a deep breath, collect herself and respond to the event in a calm manner. Another LAYA student suffers from chronic neck pain. She was getting help from her physical therapist, but

Yoga can improve flexibility, muscle strength and balance as well as provide mental, emotional and spiritual benefits, says Denise.

was frustrated. She started yoga once a week and noticed subtle changes. In just a year’s time, the muscles between her scapula quit hurting. She joked, “It took me a year to straighten up!” She tries to never miss a class, “When I don’t go to yoga, the headaches come back.” So many women with different needs

are finding life changing benefits in the same class. The gals at Franklin Art Center love Sarah Gorham’s Tuesday morning class. They show up every week for her calm instruction, guidance, and message of hope to live their best life. Like a good pair of yoga pants, they found a class that is the perfect fit. n

To learn more about the Lakes Area Yoga Association (218) 829-7029

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Dr. Brooke Fenstad


Denise Sundquist is the health and safety coordinator at the Brainerd School District. She is married to her biking coach, Matt and the mother of two grown sons and a very busy 14-year-old daughter. She maintains an active lifestyle to counterbalance her love of anything Dairy Queen.


Dr. Kristel Schamber

Spring 2016 | her voice 15



Metal artist, Jodi Muellner

Funky Junk

Environmentally conscious metal artist Jodi

Muellner sees the waste that surrounds us every day and does her bit to cut down on what ends up in landfills and junkyards by recycling junk. PHOTOS AND STORY By MARLENE CHABOT

The Burtrum resident, part-time nurse at the Franciscan convent in Little Falls, wife and mother of two sons, and owner of Funky Junk, began her interest in recycling objects about four years ago. Jodi’s main work revolves around metal creations for yards or flower pots, but if another recycling idea or project comes to mind she’ll make it, including mittens out of jeans, sweaters and specialty soaps. The soft-spoken artist has learned much in the few years she’s been in business. “One important thing I discovered my first year out as a vendor,” Jodi said, “is that I should’ve had more than one style of metal item to sell. People like to choose from a variety of pieces.” The only thing available for sale her first event were dainty daisy-like flowers made from wire hangers. Not so today. When she attends events 16 Spring 2016 | her voice

now, you’ll see a trailer and car loaded down with a ton of saleable creations. Jodi lived in Greenwald, a little town near Melrose, until she married Randy, a machinist. She says she got her creative edge from her mother, Doris and her father, Dave. Her mother dabbles in various crafts and her father worked in an auto body shop up until retirement. Being married to a machinist has its benefits for metal artist Jodi. Randy’s taught her how to weld and use a grinder plus other basic equipment for shaping things. He also built her a work table and a cart to store her new plasma cutter she uses for welding. And when a job calls for a torch, well, Jodi leaves that task to hubby since she doesn’t feel comfortable using it. Better to be safe than have an accident.

a family affair now. Hubby Randy, who has created a frog out of old spoons, enjoys sharing ideas and teaching their boys, Jayden (14) and Jake (11), how to work with the welder and other equipment. Just recently Jake made his first sale of a small metal tractor. Jodi’s never-ending creativity makes use of many metal objects we may have stopped needing around our own homes but could never fathom another purpose for it. Consider the following flower yard ornaments to grace your landscape: spoons, hubcap with license plates, bed springs, freon tanks, strainer with spoons, sauce pan with spoons, lazy Susan with Jello mold and pulley with hangers. Wait! Maybe you prefer little creatures instead. Door hinges morphed into butterflies, wok pans changed to turtles, toy ironing boards converted to fish. How about a sign saying Love made with barbed wire or chain? Did I mention a birdhouse fashioned from a teapot?

Jodi specializes in creating yard art.


Appearances by metal artist Jodi, include: local spring garden shows, Lemonade Art Fair, Sinclair Lewis Days, and Long Prairie’s Fall Arts and Craft show. n



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The artist’s love for metal crafting shines through as she walks me through her house and the rest of the grounds, explaining each unique design. “It’s fun to make something people enjoy and is also a confidence booster.” Her favorite pieces are the dogs she makes from old toolboxes and other metal parts. On days she has to herself, Jodi sometimes manages to hollow out an eighthour work schedule for creating in their outbuilding not far from the house. “I feel lucky to have a hobby I can sell to make a little money,” she said. When asked if she planned to add new items to her business, she told me it depends on what she finds and her time. Jodi collects a broad spectrum of items ranging from silverware spoons to tanks once used for Freon and metal fencing. Living on a large piece of property affords the artist plenty of storage space for her metal scraps, but when supplies get too low to work on a particular project, you can find her combing through items at garage sales, landfills and junkyards or accepting donations from friends and relatives. Walking through scrapyards actually makes this young woman feel better on days she’s feeling a little blue. “It’s taking the time to rummage through the stuff that does it,” Jodi explained. The artist says she had no mentor when she first decided to get into business. Some ideas she’s picked up off the Internet, but most design ideas are original and come from looking at an acquired object and envisioning how it will appear when finished. “(If ) I have something in mind and it doesn’t turn out the way I thought, I’m still pleased with the results.” Recycling metal objects has become

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AskWindow about* rebates on energy-efficient Hunter Douglas window fashions. Treatments Marlene Chabot is a $Pequot Lakes or more with * rebates on qualifying purchases from January 30 – April 11, 2016 $ freelance writer, novelist or more with rebates on qualifying purchases from January 30 – April 11, 2016 and member of numerous 218-568-8280 writers’ groups. In 2014, Arlean’s Drapery & Pequot Lakes Arlean’s Drapery & We Bring the Showroom to You. 218-839-2349 two short stories were Window Treatments We Bring the Showroom to You! We SpecializeFollow Window Treatments Us AtTreatments. in Window selected for anthology Pequot Lakes Pequot Lakes *Manufacturer’s mail-in rebate offer valid for qualifying purchases made 1/30/16 – 4/11/16 from participating dealers in the U.S. only. Rebate will be issued in the form of a prepaid publications. Her fifth reward card and mailed within 6 weeks of rebate claim receipt. Funds not expire. Subject to applicable law, a $2.00 monthly fee will be assessed against card balance 7 months 218-568-8280 novel is currently waiting after card issuance and each month thereafter. Additional218-568-8280 limitations may apply. Ask participating dealer for details and rebate form. © 2016 Hunter Douglas. All rights reserved. 218-568-8280 All trademarks used herein are the property of Hunter Douglas. WIN16MB2 for publication. Connect 218-839-2349 218-839-2349 with Marlene on her We Bring 218-839-2349 the Showroom to You! Follow Us At We Bring the Showroom We Bring the Showroom to You!to You! Follow Us At Us A Facebook page - Marlene Mc Neil Chabot, www. *Manufacturer’s mail-in rebate offer valid for qualifying purchases made 1/30/16 – 4/11/16 from participating dealers in the U.S. only. Rebate will be issued in Follow the form of a prepaid *Manufacturer’s offerclaim validreceipt. for qualifying made 1/30/16 – 4/11/16law, froma $2.00 participating dealers theassessed U.S. only.against Rebatecard will balance be issued7 in the form of a prepaid, marlenechabotreward card and mailed within 6mail-in weeksrebate of rebate Funds purchases do not expire. Subject to applicable monthly fee willinbe months reward and mailed within 6made weeks of 1/30/16 rebate claimmay receipt. Funds not expire. Subjectfortodetails applicable law, a $2.00 monthly fee will be assessed against cardbe balance 7 months after card andcard each month thereafter. Additional limitations apply. Ask do participating dealer and rebate form. © 2016 Hunter Douglas. All rights reserved. *Manufacturer’s rebate offer valid forissuance qualifying purchases – 4/11/16 from participating dealers in the U.S. only. Rebate will issued in ormail-in Pinterest. issuance each ofmonth thereafter. Additional limitations may apply. Ask participating dealer for details and rebate form. © 2016 Hunter Douglas. All rights reserved. All trademarks after used card herein are the and property Hunter Douglas. WIN16MB2 reward card and mailed within 6 weeks of rebate claim used receipt. Funds do not expire. Subject to applicable law, a $2.00 monthly fee will be assessed against ca All trademarks herein are the property of Hunter Douglas. WIN16MB2 after card issuance and each month thereafter. Additional limitations may apply. Ask participating dealer for details and rebate form. © 2016 Hunter Douglas. Spring 2016 | her voice 17 All trademarks used herein are the property of Hunter Douglas. WIN16MB2



Linda Hurst displays a lace pattern called Shetland Veil that she knit as part of a research project recreating patterns from the 19th century.


A Stitch in Time A Stitch in Time

It’s not often we get the chance to step back in history, so when the opportunity came floating across my Facebook feed, I jumped. I almost missed the small posting with a link that read “Call for Knitters: 19th Century Lace Patterns.” The link brought me to a posting by the University of Glasgow where a research project was underway to recreate knitting patterns for 1840s to 1870s Shetland Lace. Most pattern books that old don’t include any sort 18 Spring 2016 | her voice

of illustration, so the project organizers at the University decided their only option was to have them knit up and they were going to need knitters — lots of knitters. I was one of the lucky ones who got to participate. In an email received from the University of Glasgow, they stated there was such overwhelming response

they had to stop taking requests to participate. When my pattern arrived I was squealing like a 10yearold girl with a new pony. I’m pretty sure my coworkers thought I’d lost my mind, but this was pretty exciting for me. I was in! Patterns were assigned randomly without regard to the knitter’s skill level, mostly because they had no idea if a


get Kristi and Kevin Yutrzenka’s opin- ing through the patterned edge. I hit ions. I decided to go with an Alpaca/ another bump in the veil portion when Merino blend and just to be safe, I pur- the pattern had me reversing directions chased yarn in four thicknesses. This frequently in what turned out to be a gave me options as I tried to determine knitting technique called short rows. It which was correct. Ultimately I used made no sense when reading it, but was fingering weight wool which is a very clear when I just followed the pattern thin yarn most commonly used to make with the belief it would all work out. And it did. socks. So now it’s time to package up my Bone Pins sound appropriately creepy, but this was a time when knit- samples along with my notes. Since ting needles were often made of bone this is a research project, they have or ivory. The question, though, is what a form for us to fill out detailing our is size 9 in 1878? My knitting needles process, materials used and any issues are modern U.S. sizes, but how does we encountered. Some of the finished that equate to the needles of the 1800s? projects will go on display. Knowing Determining needle size turned out to that mine might be one of them gives be a bit of a challenge. A first guess was me a great excuse to go visit Scotland that it was a metric size. The metric sys- again! n tem was used in the United Kingdom since the early 1800s, so if size 9 meant millimeters, I would need modern U.S. A chart comparing old knitting needle sizes size 13. Then I found a chart of old U.K. with new metric sizes. sizes which indicated that I should be pattern was easy or hard. We were given using 3.75mm, or U.S. size 5. These are vague instructions to use yarn that was vastly different so my solution was to “not too thick or fluffy, so that we can knit the pattern twice and see which see the pattern clearly.” So no draw- finished project looked right. The actual pattern was pretty straight ing, no chart, no clue what thickness of forward using basic knitting stitches of yarn to use, not sure what the knitting needles size should be and a cheery knit, purl, wool over, knit two togethScottish “Do your best and good luck!” er. It also had its quirks like where it seemed to direct me back to the castSounded like my kind of adventure. My pattern is a Shetland Veil — circa on row. I thought, “Well, that can’t be 1878 — and it calls for half an ounce of right.” But once I figured out what they Pyrenees wool and “size 9 bone pins.” were talking about, it was smooth sailStep one was to figure out what each Linda Hurst is a media consultant with the Brainerd Dispatch. of these elements would be in today’s She has been knitting since she was 16 and designing original patterns for materials. I did web searches for veils scarves and blankets since 2008. Many of Linda’s patterns are available from the 1800s and came up with what 15-3572_Ad Design Voice.qxp_Layout for free download on under LindaHer Hurst’s Ravlery Store. 1 7/6/15 8:26 AM Page 1 you would expect — large, draped, seethrough head coverings ala “bridal.” 15-3572_Ad Design Her Voice.qxp_Layout 1 7/6/15 8:26 AM Page 1 Common sense dictates that there is no way I’m getting something that big from half an ounce of wool so my patRENE tern was probably a veil that hung from 35253 C a hat, and even that was just a guess. RENE MILLNER Crossla I’ve never heard of Pyrenees wool, 35253 County Rd. 3, 218which I now understand is wool spun Crosslake, MN rene@b from the hair of a Pyrenees dog. Dog? I 218-454-2159 RENE MILLNER stared at that one for a while as it sunk 35253 County Rd. 3, Crosslake, MN in. The pattern also failed to give any ESTATE PLANNING • TRUST/W 218-454-2159 • sort of gauge so I didn’t know what GUARDIAN/CONSERVATORSHIP • BU weight of yarn to use. That’s when I ESTATE PLANNING • TRUST/WILLS paid a visit to Utrinket’s yarn shop to GUARDIAN/CONSERVATORSHIP • BUSINESS LAW Spring 2016 | her voice 19


Here’s to Volunteers and Volunteering! Her Voice


[ in search of ]


This year National Volunteer Week is April 10-16. Spring is a perfect time to honor the many volunteers who donate their time to keep things humming in the Brainerd lakes area but it’s also a time to encourage others to volunteer. What follows below is just a sampling of volunteer opportunities in the lakes area. A more complete listing can be found in the Brainerd Dispatch approximately once a month. n

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank

Habitat for Humanity

From assisting with Habitat home-builds to fundraising, Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity and the Lakes Area Habitat ReStore are perfect places for individuals of any age to donate their time. Volunteers can participate on jobsites during building projects but there are more ways to chip in besides pounding nails or painting. The Habitat ReStore provides a pickup service during the summer months for donated items that are too large for donors to bring in themselves so drivers and pick-up crews are always needed. The ReStore is also in need of those willing to volunteer as cashiers, stock and sales floor staff. Those interested in volunteering can visit Habitat’s website at

The Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen

Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen is located in the Fellowship Hall of Communitas Church at 923 Oak Street in Brainerd, next to the brick church building. This non-profit and volunteer-run organization serves a nutritious meal Monday through Saturday from 5:30-6 p.m to area residents. The Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen has been a symbol of hope and compassion in the area since 1987 and they typically serve meals to around 65 individuals in need per day. Each day help is needed to plan menus, prepare and serve the food and clean up the kitchen and serving area when mealtime is over. Those interested in volunteering at the Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen can contact kitchen manager Pastor Bob Evans.

20 Spring 2016 | her voice

Heartland Animal Rescue

If helping critters is your thing, a volunteering project at Heartland Animal Rescue (HART) may be just the ticket. Located on 15494 Dellwood Drive, Baxter, HART is always on the look-out for volunteer help with special events, animal transportation, cat and dog care and education helpers. Volunteers need to be 16 or older, but children ages 12-15 can volunteer with an adult. Volunteer commitments range from weekly to four times a year and HART’s needs change with the seasons as well. All volunteers are required to complete volunteer orientation that assists participants and staff in determining where they best fit in. Please contact the shelter manager, Alesha Rothberg, or HART director, Donna Wambeke, to set up a time to volunteer.

Breath Of Life Adult Day Service

Established in 2001, Breath of Life Adult Day Service is a nonprofit organization that provides an encouraging, caring, Christian atmosphere for dependent loved ones. It is a place for dependent adults to socialize with peers in a stimulating environment as well as receive daily attention to their long term health care needs. This service is vital to helping the primary caregiver maintain their own physical and emotional well-being; thus improving the attendee and their caregiver’s quality of life. Volunteer opportunities include assisting with daily activities, companionship, socialization and transportation to their Buffalo Hills facility. “Volunteers give additional life and vitality to Breath of Life,” Director Paul Welch says. “We have many opportunities for people and groups to give joy and support to our participants.” To learn more about this valuable local organization and discover the wide variety of volunteer opportunities, visit their website at:

Lakes Area Restorative Justice

Lakes Area Restorative Justice Project (LARJP) is a community directed, operated and supported non-profit organization which was established in 2004. The mission of LARJP is “To foster a strong and healthy community through restorative practices.” A new project for LARJP is Circles in Schools which was born of a collaborative effort with Crow Wing County Social Services to address truancy for several families struggling with this issue. The phrase “it takes a village” is always forefront in LARJP’s goals to set new programs in place that can continue to provide needed services to youth. Volunteers are the glue that holds this organization together and they are always looking for individuals with a passion for giving area youth a chance to succeed. Those interested in volunteering by helping with vision planning as board members or volunteers, or acting as restorative group conferencing facilitators and circle keepers can stop by their office at 242 NW Third St., in Brainerd or call Kathryn Pietz, Executive Director, at 218-454-4145 or visit their website at

Rebecca Flansburg is a proud mom of two, a freelance writer, blogger and project manager for the national children’s literacy event Multicultural Children’s Book Day. When not happily writing and creating content for others, she appreciates being outside, reading and thrifting. You can connect with her on Twitter as @RebeccFlansburg or via her blog Spring 2016 | her voice 21

Service in San Isidro,Nicaragua



Peace corps worker Morgan Twamley with 5th grade students and their teacher during Fiestas Patrias, an independence day celebration. Morgan with other peace corps volunteers, camped at the base of Telica, an active volcano.

was August 2013. Morgan Twamley spent one day in Washington, D.C., then was off to Nicaragua for three months of cultural and job-specific training before her two-year commitment to service in the Peace Corps.

“It was very important to me to be a part of an organization that worked with the community while living like the community, instead of simply working for the community from outside of its borders. Living with the community as a neighbor, one gains an entirely different and more comprehensive perspective of what the needs of the people are and how to be a resource,” says 24-year-old Morgan. Morgan graduated from St. Olaf in 2013 with degrees in Spanish and Environmental Studies. She’d been thinking about service programs and chose to volunteer with the Peace 22 Spring 2016 | her voice

Corps because she agreed with its mission — empowering and training people in sustainable development of their own country. The Peace Corps also offered a wide support network in terms of medical, professional and personal support. Morgan was assigned to the municipality of San Isidro. This municipality encompasses many communities outside of the urban center. Morgan’s two schools were in the urban area. She lived in a neighborhood called La Villa, with one of her schools right next door and the other in the center of town, only a seven-minute bike ride away.

“In the Peace Corps we get to work hand in hand with people. In the community, with the community, like the community. It felt really cool the moment when they called me Profe on the street for the first time. I felt more integrated into the community,” Morgan says. Profe is an abbreviated form of Profesora, a female teacher. Morgan co-planned and co-taught science with four Nicaraguan teachers, working with third to sixth graders, with 25-40 students per class. Part of her job consisted of teacher trainings. The teachers in her area relied primarily on the dictate and copy approach,

so Morgan worked with them on incorporating more projects and creating a more participatory classroom. Each Peace Corps volunteer trains from their own interests. She trained on class management techniques, gardens, recycled crafts and reading comprehension, as well as American culture. Classes run from February through November. Students have December and January off, as well as a week during Holy Week before Easter and a semester break in July. During those times, Morgan worked on things kids

Students harvest radishes from their school garden.

Morgan returned home to Brainerd with a broken leg before finishing her time in Nicaragua. Photo by Joey Halvorson.

Pinta the pig lived on Morgan’s patio and produced nine piglets.


could do during breaks, like helping sixth graders with basic English to give them a leg up for high school. Then there was Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World.) Begun in the ‘80s in Romania, now Camp Glow is in the Peace Corps all over the world. Last year 60 girls ages 12-16, from all over Nicaragua, participated in the camp. Peace Corps volunteers partnered with a non-governmental organization (NGO) called PLAN Nicaragua to put on Camp GLOW. Youth promoters and PLAN coordinators were present at camp. Multiple sessions covered sexuality, teen pregnancy, leadership and self-esteem.The four day camp includes games, team building, a ropes course with zip line, a rock wall and tire swings. Girls love it. “It is a big, eye-opening experience for girls and parents because they

never are away from their families,” says Morgan. In Nicaragua, Peace Corps volunteers are required to live with a host family. That situation is considered safest. It also allowed Morgan to feel more involved with community. Living within three blocks of each other, her host family consisted of a mother, two kids and a granddaughter. The grandfather, who lived just across the street, played guitar and sang in a band for various events, as well as running a bicycle workshop out of his home. Morgan spent a lot of time with women because of the very segregated culture. Coffee and rice provide work for the men, who are gone for four to six months at a time while the women stay home. There are also a lot of men working illegally in the United States. Morgan took advantage of the time she had with women of all ages. “For me, some of the most important conversations were about women and their possibilities,” she says. While in Nicaragua, Morgan was able to email friends and Skype with her parents about once a week. Multiple public cafes in her town offered Internet services, but the connections were not good. However, there was one Wi-Fi cafe and one of the cousins in her family also had Wi-Fi. In addition, the larger school where Morgan worked had a computer lab where she was able to use the Internet to search for class resources and check email. During phone calls home people on the Minnesota end would hear roosters and pigs in the background. Continued on page 41...

Spring 2016 | her voice 23



& Friendsh t r i A

the arts

Millie Engisch recyled a hunk of wood.

Hank of Hair,

Piece of Bone By KAREN OGDAHL

Lisa Jordan, Executive Director of the Franklin Art Center, organized the exhibition at the Crossing Arts Gallery and displayed her own felt sculpture. 24 Spring Spring 2016 2016 || her her voice voice 24

A “

rag and a bone and a hank of hair (We called her the woman who did not care).”

The line comes from Kipling’s poem “The Vampire.” A group of seven artists turned that line on its ear last fall when they created an eclectic art exhibit entitled “Hank of Hair, Piece of Bone.” Unlike the poem, however, these women do care passionately – about their art and their friendship.

The artists, Carolyn Abbott, Millie Engisch, Bonnie Fercho, Haddie Hadachek, Lisa Jordan, Lonnie Knutson and Ruthanne Weaver, began their project with junk. Haddie explained, “I had access to a farm with tons of things to be scavenged, so I invited these gals to come scavenging with me.” What they found that fall day became the inspiration and the material for the widely diverse and thought-provoking art exhibit at The Crossing Arts Gallery. One of Haddie’s pieces was a nearly life-size crowned kachina with a toaster as a head. “It was fun,” she said about putting character into the piece. The crown indicates she’s a mature woman. The body is some kind of large tube. She doesn’t have a waistline, and I don’t either. She is holding an old antler in one hand and the toaster’s cord in the other. You have to wonder what the old gal’s going to do with that cord!” Millie enjoyed the scavenging as much as creating the art. “I loved hanging out at the farm with these other artists. Haddie, Lonnie and I collaborated on a sculpture that is almost nonsensical. No one can appreciate it the way we do because of the laughter and fun that went into it.” One of Carolyn’s pieces was Medusa’s head ringed with snaky hair. “When we were scavenging, I found some black tubing that made me think of Medusa’s hair,” she said. “I asked Millie to come over and make a plaster mask of my face. I did research on Medusa and found she can be good or bad, so I painted her face with both yin and yang.” Another piece came from her childhood. “When I was young, I asked for an erector set, but I was told that was a toy for boys. I used an old erector set to build a canopied bed. Didn’t every girl want one?” she asked. The bed includes a pink canopy and a doll as a nod to the traditional girl toys. Lisa used felted wool to create a sculpture of a forest floor. “This is a very personal piece I call “How I Pray.” It’s a much more revealing

Artists (left to right) Haddie Hadachek, Millie Engisch and Lonnie Knutson are “electrified” by this creation.

Carolyn Abbott with “Medusa,” her creation from plastic tubes. Spring 2016 | her voice 25

piece than my usual work. For me nature is my church, and if I were to pray, that is how I pray. I offer my handiwork to the world.” “Over the Moon,” Lonnie’s series of collages, contains lint from a variety of friends’ dryers. “My lint was gray,” she laughed, “and others donated their more colorful lint, so in a sense, this was a collaborative effort.” Collaboration is a strong theme that runs through the work and the personal relationships of these artists. They meet regularly to discuss art, but they also share a bond of friendship. Carolyn, known for her textile art, found the project helped stretch her creativity. “Working with the group on this exhibit, I knew I had to try a kind of art I don’t usually do. I’ve noticed since I’ve been a part of this group, my work is not so superficial, it has more meaning.” Lisa also echoed those feelings. “I moved to Brainerd nine years ago. I was raising kids at home and quietly doing my art alone. This group gives me support. I feel like I can ask their opinions and get honest answers. It requires a sense of trust to put something out there, but with this group, when I ask their opinions, I know they’ll be there to catch me and help me and that’s pretty amazing!” Their discussions of art frequently wander into more personal talk. “There isn’t much among this group of friends that we can’t share. Art is just one of those things,” Haddie said. “We’re at different places in our lives and have different things going on personally and in our art. Now it’s so much more than an art group. I wouldn’t give these gals up for anything!” Lonnie, a bit teary-eyed, summed it all up, “I loved this show and everything that the women put into it and I love these women!” Take a hank of hair, a piece of bone, a flame of creativity and the encouragement of friends and what do you get? For these women, it’s extraordinary art and a whole lot of love. n

Lonnie Knutson exposes more than she hides with the mask she created.

26 26 Spring Spring 2016 2016 | her | her voice voice

Collaborating on an art exhibit, five of the seven artists (left to right) Haddie Hadachek, Millie Engisch, Carolyn Abbott, Lisa Jordan and Lonnie Knutson.

“We’re at different places in our lives and have different things going on personally and in our art. Now it’s so much more than an art group. I wouldn’t give these gals up for anything!” Karen Ogdahl is a retired teacher and community volunteer.

Spring 2016 | her voice 27

her say


It’s not strange to hear

someone say they moved back in with their parents, but grandparents, on the other hand, is another story. Rare even. My then 3-year-old daughter Marin and I had that experience when we moved from St. Cloud to Brainerd and in with my grandmother, Marion Siegel. It was supposed to be just a couple of months until I could find a place of my own. She made us stay ... for a year!

28 Spring 2016 | her voice

Moving in with


The lifestyle and generational differences were immediate. She was a 1950s-style homemaker who ironed her sheets, baked her own bread and was so organized, she even folded her plastic grocery bags. She relished her role of taking care of her family, diligently doing her housework and keeping everything orderly. I was a single working mother constantly in a messy rush. I don’t know if we could have contrasted anymore. Before moving in with her, I was used to coming and going as I pleased and as long as I had my daughter with me, there was no one to answer to. I remember my first week at her house. I ran some errands after picking up my daughter from daycare. When we walked in the door an hour later than usual Grandma hollered her famous phrase, “I was about to call out the St. Bernards!” — meaning a search team. I felt bad. I told her she didn’t need to cook for us, that I was an adult and she didn’t need to take care of us, either. It didn’t matter. Dinner was ready by the time we got home. Marin would set the table and I would load the dishwasher. Grandma said it gave her something to do, but I know it’s because she loved us. Having dinner made was a huge break for me and she knew it. I tried to repay her with shoveling, mowing and getting the “dang TV to work right.” For meals, Grandma mostly clung to the classic dinner staples of meat and potatoes. For special occasions, she’d consult her family cookbook or rummage through her recipe cards and clippings. I, on the other hand, loved the spice of homemade tacos and pizza

and turned to Google for my recipe searches. Living with me, she became a bigger fan of pizza and I of the family cookbook. Laundry was another issue. Grandma wrinkled her nose at my daughter’s mismatched socks and I shook my head at her neatly arranged drawers of color coordination. “I don’t have time for that,” I told her. “You’re making more work for yourself that way,” she warned. The next day my laundry was done for me. Socks were matched and put away in rows of dress socks, color socks and everyday socks; even the underwear was folded! I have to admit, it was nice. It felt better going through the pile straight out of the dryer and matching them all at one time versus sifting and matching every morning. At 27, I thought I had life, home and raising a child pretty much secured. “You might think Grandma’s an old ‘fuddy duddy,’ but you could learn a thing or two,” she’d say. I’ll never forget when she hooted out in excitement over a bread bag, waving it up in the air. I looked at her with serious bewilderment thinking maybe there was a spider on it. “I can save this for when I bake bread!” she exclaimed. “This is a good one, nice and strong!” I giggled at her. “Really? A used bread bag?” “You kids (my generation) are so wasteful,” she scolded. “I grew up on the farm with nine brothers and sisters and learned not to waste anything. I use things over again or fix ‘em up if they’re broken,” she claimed. She wasn’t kidding. Proof of that is her

Lisa Henry was born in Brainerd and grew up in St. Cloud. She is employed at the Brainerd Dispatch as a graphic designer and has enjoyed coming “home” to Brainerd and raising her three daughters Marin, Nora and Ivy.


Lisa’s grandmother Marion Siegel shows her great-grandchildren, Ivy (2) and Nora (4) the old fashion art of ironing.

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UNIQUE Dr. Jackie McCall • Dr. Evan Kuhn 7870 Excelsior Rd., Baxter Brainerd Office: 218.828.9545 • 877.338.3957 Staples Office: 218.894.5480 • 866.894.5455


50-year-old prayer book, a 1960s popcorn popper that she recently gave to Marin, now 9, who loves to watch the kernels puff out; and a tulip coaster holder that must have been superglued over a dozen times. At the time I probably would have thrown them all out, however the prayer book has very special meaning to Grandma. She brought it to church every Sunday for her children to read and eventually her grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. I now feel honored to own that book. And now my two younger daughters, Nora, 4, and Ivy, 2, love to play with the tulip coaster holder and give Grandma new reasons to break out the superglue. For all the trials, the laughs and great talks outnumbered them by far. And yes, I learned a thing or two. n

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Spring 2016 | her voice 29

PHOTO BY JOEY HALVORSON 30 Spring 2016 | her voice

BJ Allen, a passionate believer in solar power, brought a sustainable energy system to a hospital in Liberia, Africa.

A Passion for Solar



BJ Allen believes solar power can positively change the world. Working as special projects man-

ager for the nonprofit Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) based in Pine River, BJ provides solar installations for low-income households to reduce their energy costs. In 2014, RREAL was approached by a group of women who asked, “Can you do this for a war-damaged hospital in Africa?” It’s not surprising she answered yes. BJ grew up with solar in Northern many rural women who traveled there power of the African sun in a country California in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Her fa- for childbirth, an area covering 450,000 close to the equator. She discovered a ther was a contractor who installed a people. Expecting disease to be the large hospital complex that contained solar system on their home. “Those were most serious problem, the visitors were dormitories, a school of nursing and a somewhat experimental years for solar,” surprised to learn that power was their county health department serving 39 BJ said. “We were learning what did and biggest challenge. Health care work- rural clinics. “An on-site assessment is didn’t work.” Before joining RREAL, BJ ers no longer had enough electricity to crucial to designing a system,” BJ said. received a degree in electrical engineer- work. They now relied on diesel gener- “I looked for the best location to put up ing from the University of San Diego. ators that frequently broke down and a solar array and studied how to tie into Then she taught in Japan where she met cost an astonishing $35,000 a month for their existing system with their many her future husband Jason Edens, the fuel. The Phebe doctors wore headlamps buildings.” She also found staff electrifounder and director of RREAL. “We’re during surgeries because of the many cians, a maintenance team and construction crews already in place. “The beausolar nerds,” she said. Today at their ru- power outages. ty of this project is that it can really ral Pine River home they use an work.” active solar air heating system, “This is a lifesaving project,” said passive solar thermal, two solar BJ. “There’s nothing like an Ebola water heating systems and two outbreak to drive home that we live photovoltaic solar electricity arin a small world. We’re a global sorays called PV arrays. ciety now. Ebola could become our Having worked on hundreds problem. Without reliable power, of solar installations with the Phebe could face an uphill battle in RREAL team, BJ knew she stopping another epidemic. Building could bring her expertise to this up infrastructure in other parts of the African project. “I have a passion world will ultimately help us here, for social-environmental justice too.” Bringing solar power to Phebe issues,” BJ said. BJ visiting Phebe hospital in Liberia. would eliminate the need for high In 2012, a group from the fuel costs and free up funds for healthWomen of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) heard Phebe’s medical director and the care. “But we need to raise more funds to about the bold women of Liberia and ELCA women discussed bringing in so- make the installation happen.” BJ sees a bright future for solar powtraveled there to be inspired. They lar power and they formed a partnership learned the West African women had with RREAL called PV for Phebe to er. “The market continues to expand and organized in 2003 to end their country’s try to accomplish that. BJ believed set- prices continue to come down. We have civil war. Without using weapons they ting up a photovoltaic microgrid could an opportunity in Minnesota to become took a stand and forced warring factions provide more reliable power and be a a leader in solar deployment.” For more information about RREAL to make peace. As a result, Ellen Johnson sustainable, longterm solution to their and BJ’s PV for Phebe project, visit:wSirleaf won a Nobel Peace Prize and be- problem. Last April, BJ stepped off a plane in n came president of Liberia. After their meeting with Sirleaf, the sunny Africa. Smiling Liberians in colELCA women visited Phebe Hospital, a orful clothes greeted her with “Welcome place their church had sponsored since to Liberia.” She planned on making a site Bradshaw , a free1921. What they found touched their visit to Phebe a few months earlier, but Janice lance writer and photoghearts. Phebe Hospital was once one of an Ebola outbreak there kept her away. rapher, finds inspiration in the woods where she the most advanced in the country with Travel stopped while the contagious, oflives north of Brainerd. air conditioning and central oxygen. But ten fatal, disease spread. BJ was one of She also enjoys traveling on genealogy quests and writing family stories. during the civil war, fighters ransacked the first foreigners to return after the epJanice has shared her writing with Her Voice the building and destroyed the regional idemic and the people were delighted to since the first issue in May 2003. power grid. The hospital continued to see visitors again. 31 Spring 2016 2016 || her her voice voice 31 serve 30,000 patients a year, including Walking around Phebe, BJ felt the Spring



Her mother left when she was 3 years old, walking away from eight children ranging in age from 6 months to 15 years. Her father struggled to keep his children together but soon Social Services stepped in and placed the children in foster care. Juanita Lutz, founder of Techniscribe, Inc., was that 3-year-old.

Overcoming Obstacles PHOTO BY JOEY HALVORSON 32 Spring Spring 2016 2016 || her her voice voice 32

Juanita Lutz is founder of Techniscribe, Inc., a 20-year-old company providing transcriptions. She now employs 40 women who work from home in three states.

This year is the 20 year anniversary of Techniscribe, Inc., a company providing transcription for doctors and other medical practitioners. Transcriptions come from voice recordings that are converted to word documents, becoming part of the patient’s permanent chart. It’s a service that must be completed quickly and accurately with a 24 hour turnaround time. Juanita knew she had to take care of herself from a young age. At 4, she was placed in foster care and felt fortunate to stay in the same home until she was 18. She recalls being terrified knowing that she could be moved at any time. One of her earliest memories is of her foster dad teaching her to write her name, his name and their telephone number so if Social Services ever took her away she would be able to someday reconnect with them.

from tapes to digital dictation. It takes special skills and mindset to hear and type complicated medical terms and various reports. Keep in mind that the transcriptionists hear voices of all accents and word pronunciations. They must train their ear to include the diverse range of voices and word uses. Since the transcription work is done in private homes, the Baxter office is used for training, management and occasional meetings. Juanita obtains clients by word of mouth and cold calls. A doctor, a clinic or hospital may be overwhelmed with transcription needs and call for temporary assistance and then stay with Techniscribe, Inc. due to the great service they receive. What sets them apart from other transcription services is the ability to tailor services to their clients’ needs. They have grown to over 27 clients in six states. Juanita credits her success to the great team of medical transcriptionists and managers she employs. Additionally, for

most of her 20 years in business she has contracted her IT services with Syvantis in Baxter, one of her best decisions as they are involved in virtually every aspect of setting up clients and employees. Two daughters work with her; Jacy is a transcriptionist and Trisha is her administrative assistant. Her son, Tim, is a police officer in Kansas City and her son, Tucker, is in college. She and her husband, Paul, divide their time between Breezy Point and Cape Coral, Fla. Besides running the company Juanita loves spending time with her family, traveling, reading, boating and cooking.”n

Cynthia Bachman is a freelance writer and is employed in the medical field. She lives in the Brainerd area with her husband, Brian.

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She credits her foster parents, Ann and Louis Holm, for instilling in her a strong work ethic and providing consis consistent love and encouragement. Her foster parents also pursued and were granted to raise Juanita’s two younger sisters. She remembers clearly the days that each of her little sisters arrived to the house (one is now a teacher, the other a nurse). Juanita has always known and interacted with her biological father and her five older siblings. It was her typing teacher at Verndale High School, Will Domier, who noted and encouraged her natural talent on a typewriter and told her, “You can make a living typing.” The minute her hands touched the keyboard of the manual typewriter she was in love. She was the first of her friends to embrace the “new” technology of computers. Juanita was 10 years out of high school, married and the mother of four children (the youngest 3 months old) when she started classes at the Minnesota State Vocational School in Wadena. She took nine months of medical secretary coursework, after which she was hired at transcriptionthe Staples Hospital as a transcription ist and a coder. Later she worked at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd. One night she got a call from Charles McGraw, a physician from Wadena who needed someone to do his transcription work. Juanita took on his dictation and continued her full time position for six months in Brainerd. Many times she would stay up until 1 a.m. to complete the task, and then start again at 6 a.m., driving to get audio tapes then the next day return the tapes and the hard copies. Her older children spent many hours driving tapes/reports back and forth. Juanita started Techniscribe, Inc. in her home, allowing her to be with her children. Her company has grown to include six employees at the Baxter office and more than 40 women that work from their homes in three states, allowing mothers to have flexible hours and work around their family needs/ schedules. Techniscribe, Inc. offers 24-hour coverage, seven days a week including holidays. Modern technology has changed

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Spring 2016 | her voice 33



Attending last year’s Wine and Words, book club “Reading Between the Wines” were Jeanne Kilian (left, front), Johanna Larson, Nicole Finnegan, Jill Neumann, Erin Anderson, Teresa Lund (back), Janelle Angland and Andrea Baumann.

Library Love Leads to


Wine and Words

February is “I Love to Read” month. What a perfect time to visit your local library and check out a book, music CD or movie. You could also bring the kids to storytime, look up resources online, or read a magazine or newspaper. If you’re thinking that most people get their information on personal computers or smartphones these days, think again. Libraries are more important than ever in providing information to everyone in the community. Jon Coy, children’s book author, says, “Major changes are occurring in the ways we read, the ways we tell stories and the ways we gather information. I believe that public libraries are more important now than ever ... They provide a public symbol of the equal opportunity we espouse.” What public libraries offer gives equal ground to all patrons, from all walks of life, from the person who needs to use a computer to look up information or study for an exam, to the one who needs to dig deeper in the subject.

34 34 Spring Spring2016 2016| |her hervoice voice

Wine and Words Now, more than ever, we need to support our local libraries. Events like the outstanding fundraiser Wine and Words in August prove that we are a community of readers who value the written word and admire the authors who give us those stories. Sheila DeChantal and Gail Brecht are co-chairs of Friends of the Library, a group that supports our local library through volunteer efforts and fundraising. Twice a year they hold a used book sale. People from the area donate their used books, Friends of the Library organize the books to sell to the community. For the past three years, Sheila, Gail and the Friends of the Library, plus more volunteers, work hard to make Wine and Words an evening filled with food, wine, silent auction gift baskets and both local and national authors. Lorna Landvik is the master of ceremonies and her wit and personality keep

the audience engaged and giggling. William Kent Krueger has been a guest author twice, and we’ve been treated to insights into his and other authors’ inspiration. All the authors say something about the importance of libraries in their lives, having a place to go as a youngster to get books for free, doing research for their novels, sharing their stories at summer library events like our Brown Bag Lunch. All the authors come to Brainerd on their own dime to promote their books, yes, and also to support the library. Barbara Claypole White, one of the authors at the 2014 Wine and Words event said that when she married and moved to the USA from England, she found herself in a new home, a new country, with little kids, and not much social outlet. “If it wasn’t for story time at the library,” Sheila DeChantal has used her connections with books and authors to grow this event. As a book blogger/reviewer she visited the 2010 New York Book Expo where she found herself rubbing

elbows and making connections with many famous authors and those who were just starting out. Sheila brought Sandra Brannan to the first Wine and Words event in 2013 with her newly released Liv Bergen mystery novels, set in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Many authors who have been at Wine and Words have connections to the area, or want to visit the lovely lakes area. Nadia Hashimi was the hidden gem at the 2015 event with her warm personality and unique (to Midwesterners) history with Afghanistan. Sheila wasn’t ready, yet, to reveal the author lineup for 2016. “Shoot for the moon,” she says, “You never know who you might get.” Whether it’s an all-time favorite author or someone new to me, I know this will be another wonderful evening of Wine and Words. n

• Friends of the library book sale: March 1012, 2016. •Also in March, a Gatsby event FUNdraiser, held at Arrowwood Lodge. Come dressed like a flapper or gangster from the roaring ‘20s, or just as yourself, enjoy cocktails and appetizers while listening to the high school jazz band and learning a few fun swing dance moves from Oscar and Michelle Gonzalez. • The annual Wine and Words event will be Aug. 11, 2016, at Grand View Lodge, a sponsor of this event. You can access information on the Brainerd Public Library at To learn more about Friends of the Library events, like Wine and Words and the Gatsby event, go to...

Mary Aalgaard is a freelance writer and blogger. Her words stretch across the globe through her blogs on Mary is also a playwright, debuting “Coffee Shop Confessions” in coffee shops around the Brainerd area in 2012. She also works with children and adults to create original dramas and is offering theatre classes for kids with the help of her sock puppets Millie and Willie Cottonpoly. Contact her at

The Women of CENTURY 21



Spring 2016 2016 || her her voice voice 35 35 Spring

It’s Rocket Science

Branelle Cibuzar Rodriquez works for NASA as an International Space Station Mission Evaluation Room Manager.



others had dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers and teachers, Branelle had her eyes on the stars at a young age.

She recalls telling her parents, Shellie and the late Alan Cibuzar, her aspirations of someday joining the U.S. Space Program. And, over time, her desire to work on the cutting edge of space exploration never wavered. “My parents encouraged my interests and provided guidance in achieving my goals,” Branelle said. “They sought out opportunities for me, ensured that I was getting the best education, and were amazing role models and still are. Education was always first in our house and college really wasn’t a yes or no; it was ‘which college?’” After graduating from BHS, Branelle continued her education at the University of North Dakota. In the summer after freshman year, she was a space camp counselor at the US Space and Rocket Center, sharing her passion for space with the next generation. Immediately following graduation, Branelle joined the team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas in the Crew and Thermal Systems Division Life Support and Habitability Branch as a project manager, developing space flight 36 Spring 2016 | her voice

hardware for the ISS. In her first few years with NASA, Branelle blazed a trail, leading several projects that are currently used in flight on the ISS today, including the station’s crew quarters where astronauts live and sleep and the urine monitoring system. Additionally, she has led several research projects that take a look at advanced technologies for exploration missions and was the lead for projects designing waste collection and habitation systems. More recently, Branelle led the team of engineers tasked with changing the philosophy for fighting fires in microgravity by developing and designing a fine water mist fire extinguisher for the ISS. “Right now, I tell my friends that I manage a team of really smart people and we fix things when they break on the Space Station. In my previous job, I used to say I worked on the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. I have a slew of ‘potty’ talk as you can imagine. In fact, when I first met my husband, I asked him if he was willing to donate (his urine) to science. The look on his face was priceless.”

It was in 2014, four years after earning her Masters in Engineering from the University of Texas, that Branelle was promoted to the position of ISS Mission Evaluation Room (MER) Manager where she is responsible for the MER and ensuring that information is communicated clearly and effectively, making the final call on real time decisions. The ISS is the only vehicle in low earth orbit that is manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Therefore, it requires an army of individuals on the ground to ensure that the vehicle is operating as expected. “Our primary function while sitting console is to support all activities onorbit. We follow procedures with the crew and are prepared to answer questions immediately upon being asked. This is called flight following. Flight following can either be extremely quiet, or can be extremely busy. As issues arise, these need to be worked real time. If hardware fails or a caution or warning annunciate, an immediate jump into action occurs and you work to ensure that the crew is safe and that Station is safe. Once that is complete, we then begin to

Branelle sometimes assists with space walks, an event that takes an “army of folks on ground,” says Branelle.

A typical day for Branelle (Cibuzar) Rodriguez begins around 6 a.m. After grabbing a cup of coffee and checking in with her coworkers, Branelle sits down at a computer and reviews happenings from the night prior and determines what’s to come during the day ahead. There’s paperwork and communications, troubleshooting and event coordination. You could say it’s not rocket science, but you’d be absolutely wrong. Branelle, a 2000 graduate of Brainerd High School. is employed with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as an International Space Station (ISS) Mission Evaluation Room (MER) Manager; and she is, literally, a rocket scientist. And in October 2015, this 33-yearold mother of one was the youngest to-date inductee into the Brainerd High School Distinguished Hall of Fame. assess impacts and how to get systems back up and running.” Just another day at the office. Typically, Branell is on console around 10 hours, taking her turn periodically to monitor any anomalies during off hours. In addition to these “regular duties,” Branelle also has the opportunity

to regularly assist on “special events,” including space walks, visiting vehicle capture, robotics operations and more. “As you can imagine, leaving the safe environment of the ISS and venturing out into the vacuum of space is anything but normal. This is a significant achievement and it takes an army of folks on ground to work together to make it successful. These times are always exciting and typically come with a bit of an adrenalin rush.” After a day of dealing with telemetry analysis, conversations with occupants of the ISS, flight operations planning and more, Branelle begins her other full-time job as wife of husband, Scott, and mother of daughter, Samantha, at their home in southeastern Texas. “Life as a MER Manager is always busy and constantly changing,” she noted. “But, my family always comes first, and I am thankful that I work in an organization that fully supports this.” Even supported 100 percent by her husband, Branelle says going back to work had its challenges. “I’m lucky to have Samantha on-site with me, so we drive to and from together. I also make it a priority to leave work at 4 p.m. each day in order to maximize my time with her.” Occasionally, Branelle works from home, but after Samantha has gone to bed. Says Branelle, “If I’m working off-nominal hours supporting real time operations I don’t see her as much, but still am able to make time. It’s not always easy and my sleep has dwindled, but thankfully we have a lot of fun as a family!” So, what’s next for this star struck woman now that she has achieved the job of her dreams? Going into space. Branelle says she will probably apply in the next round of astronaut selections. “Opportunities arise within NASA, and hopefully one of those will come to fruition and I’ll be able to use my leadership skills in different capacities,” says Branelle.

Branelle’s other full time job: wife to Scott, mother to Samantha.

While having a child has changed her perspective, she falls back on advice from her dad. “He once told me that I should work in a position that gives me the best shot at advancing and preserving mankind. I hope to always be able to do this.”. n Jenny Holmes is a former reporter for the Brainerd Dispatch and currently owns a public relations and communication business. She lives in Nisswa with husband, Tim and their two school-aged children.

Spring 2016 | her voice 37


Traveling With Tots —

Treasure not Terror Grandmother Jan Kurtz, loved her week in the Badlands with son, Greg, daughter-in-law, Cindy and grandchildren, Ella and James.

38 Spring Spring 2016 2016 | her her voice voice 38



you read “Traveling with Tots” did you roll your eyes, imagining hours on the road with carsick kids whining, “Are we there yet?” or think “What fun?” Do you have memories of long travel days, pitching tents after dark and arguing with your siblings over who’d sit by the window or reminisce about evening bonfires roasting marshmallows? When I told my friends that my son, Greg, had invited me to join his wife Cindy and two kids, Ella, 6, and James, 2, for a week in the Bad Badlands, many raised their eyebrows followed by a dubious “Good luck.” Me? I was delighted. I offered to be the full time nanny and live-in Visa card. I wanted to experience their discoveries first hand. I’d risk getting nudged out of bed by a snuggling toddler and walking cranky kids around while mom and dad waited for the food to arrive. I could do sleep deprivation and be patient for seven days. “When do we go?” I said, “What’s the plan?” “Not tenting,” my son stated firmly. He claims to suffer from PTSD caused by our Cloud Peak backpacking trip. After soul and web-searching, we reserved camper cabins, tickets for the 1880s Train, a Cowboy Chuckwagon sup- per, a water park hotel and a minivan. To the doubters, I concede that the first forebodday didn’t inspire confidence, but forebod ing. That morning, James’ first trip was to the hospital. He had been running in stocking isfeet, gleefully sliding around the kitchen is land when he went down with a thud. His body arched and then twitched in Cindy’s arms. After the policewoman, paramedics and CAT scan, he and his concussion were exgiven permission to leave. Cautiously ex headcited, as any previous pioneer family head ing west, we finally hit the road. As Ella and I looked out the window with our Auto Bingo cards, I thought of wagthose pioneers and their Conestoga wag ons traveling 12 miles a day. We were going 80 miles-per-hour in an air-conditioned minivan with plugged in cooler, listening to surround sound music. How does that segue into an age appropriate introduction to the history of the sacred Badlands, Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore? Travel accentuates learning opportunities. The Mitchell Corn Palace offered a life lesson that had nothing to do with the vegetative historical murals. With the gift shop selling dream catchers, canned prairie poop and toy Indian drums from China, Greg calmed Ella’s frenzy, prophesying that this

was but the beginning and advising her to make a list and stretch her allowance. She was prepared in time for our next stop: Wall Drug! She bought a prairie dog, “Prairie” for herself and a soft, cuddly bear “Oso” for James, demonstrating economics, generosity and the importance of naming. “Why do Indians have names like Sitting Bull and Rainin-the-Face?” Ella had asked when we circled the Wall Drug restaurant’s Wild West portrait display. “Many names come from experiences in their lives,” I told her, opening a cultural conversation. The visit to the Paleolithic Indian museum carried the

At the Cowboy Jamboree in the Blac

k Hills

theme with its sandbox ‘dig’ for arrowheads and a walk-in wigwam. “Nana, you sleep on that buffalo hide and I’ll use that wood for a cook fire,” Ella said, directing another round of “pretend.” Kids rekindle our imaginations. Spring 2016 2016 || her her voice voice 39 39 Spring

At Bear Country, “wild” animals roamed free as cars snaked bumper to bumper through the hills. Here, Ella learned a “grownup” lesson. Just as a big, brown bruin lumbered within photographing range, she let out a shriek. Her camera battery had died! Better luck struck at the Chuckwagon Jamboree when she got to sit between handsome Xavier, and his cowboy daddy, driving their Belgian horses, Bert and Ernie, to camp. On the return, she reluctantly relinquished her coveted seat to another little girl. Sharing was bittersweet until Mommy took a photo of . . . the horses. Meanwhile, James was working on animal vocabulary. “Buflo,” “mont goat” and “rabit” were reinforced with hand-clapping and smiles. I savored those mini-moments of unplanned pleasure: the Star Spangled Banner burst-






JANUARY 1–MARCH 31, 2016


ing from the CD just as George Washington’s mountain profile came into view, or watching the baby robin’s first flight and buffalo rolling in dirt. We spent our last evening on a cabin porch within the Indians’ sacred Badlands. Ella and James shared an oversized log chair, she petting her white rabbit pelt and he clutching “Oso” to his chest. I sat quietly tapping on my new feather-painted drum. “Ella, if you had an Indian name, what would it be?” “Rabbit,” she said, touching the pelt. “James could be “Little Run-and-Fall-Down Bear!” I suggested. Thus it came to pass that Nana New Feather, Rabbit and Run-and-Fall-Down Bear retreated into their cabin as the sun set on their first vacation. Traveling with tots? Not a terror, but a treasure. n

Jan Kurtz once led student groups abroad but her recent travels have been intrastate with family. Both offer new discoveries and adventures, but being a ‘Nana’ opening these doors is an added joy!



On a boardwalk in the Badlands National Park.

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...Continued from page 23 Morgan got used to living with animals. A pig tethered on patio would eat her clothes. She had to chase the pig down the road one day; no one else was home to do it. The family had chickens; then they had soup. They also ate the pig. Exploring much of Nicaragua, Morgan traveled to Somoto Canyon, a popular tourist destination where a group hiked, camped, and rappelled. She visited Selva Negra, a popular organic coffee getaway in Jinotega, the coffee region. A long trip to the East coast had a Caribbean feel with people speaking English Creole and foods made with coconut. She traveled to Rivas, a beach area on the west coast, and to Granada, a beautiful old Spanish city filled with expatriates and tourists. A favorite trip was when a group of Peace Corps volunteers climbed Telica volcano in the area of Leon and camped at the top to see the sun rise in

the morning. Morgan spent the summer of 2015 back in Brainerd with a serious foot injury that required surgery and recuperation time. She wrote in her blog ( of wishing she were back at work, fulfilling the short time left of her service commitment. When her two year commitment came to an end in December 2015, it was an option to extend for a third year as a Peace Corps leader supporting other volunteers, but Morgan felt ready to move on to the next step in her life. Interested in immigration advocacy and law, she wants to continue working with Hispanic people and using her Spanish. “During my time in Peace Corps

I have had to overcome some of the most challenging moments of my life, physically, mentally, emotionally and professionally,” says Morgan. “But that has also enabled me to feel highly empowered, inspired and determined. For anyone wanting to serve abroad, I would highly recommend this experience.” n

Prior to her pastime of playing with words, Carolyn Corbett taught elementary school for 14 years before resigning to sail off into the sunset. Upon her return, she tutored English and writing at Central Lake College. Today, as a freelance writer/editor, Carolyn has over 250 articles published in cruising, parenting and general interest magazines.

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Kay Paulus, Gullview Technologies, Baxter


According to a recent

article on, women are making great strides entering tech fields. Despite that, only 30 percent of today’s tech workers are women. Another startling statistic, according to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), is that only 17-20 percent of current engineering students are female. 42 Spring 2016 | her voice

2015 with a vision of providing ongoing, high value, sustainable software development and support capabilities. “Having parents who encouraged me to be whatever I wanted to be was instrumental in my journey into this career,” Kay says. “My mom grew up during a time when women had three career options — a nurse, a teacher or a secretary. So when I was growing up, she reinforced the fact that I was so lucky to have the option to be whatever I wanted to be.” In her youth, Kay didn’t consider an engineering career. “If you would have said ‘engineer’ to me I would have viKay Paulus A longtime resident of the sualized a guy with a striped hat driving a train,” she says. With Brainerd lakes area, Kay Paulus an engineering scholarship afhas always loved technoloter graduation, Kay gave it a try. gy. Kay is currently the soft“The classes were difficult; it ware team lead at Gullview took diligence and perseverance Technologies of Baxter and her to get through them, but I stuck primary role within the comit out and am glad that I did,” pany is software development. she said. Gullview opened in August of Despite these obvious gaps in workplace diversity, the technology, software and IT opportunities in the lakes area are growing. Among the many talented women occupying jobs in the tech-related field in this community are three savvy business women making their mark in their tech sector careers. These women are not only blazing the trail in one of the fastest growing job fields in the U.S.; they are setting an example for providing a supportive and flexible work environment for female employees.

Robin Eddy

When Robin Eddy is not riding her bike to work or training for her next Ironman Triathlon, she can be found rocking her role as director of software delivery and quality at MicroNet of Nisswa. But Robin didn’t always know she wanted to work in the IT field. Technology may have been in her blood for years, but Robin says that first she was a second grade teacher. “I loved being a teacher, but soon the passion for computer science took over,” she recalled. “I gave into my ‘nerdy side’ and decided to fulfill my dream of working in the technology field back when the ‘dot com’ era was in full swing.” Robin enrolled at St. Thomas Graduate School of Engineering in the late 1990s and has been working in the IT industry since 1998. Continued on page 46...

Robin Eddy, MicroNet, Nisswa

“I don’t think people realize how much technology touches their lives.”

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After graduating in 1998, Kay jumped headfirst into the world of technology and software development. “What I like best about this line of work, aside from the fact that it keeps me on my toes, is the opportunity to make a difference in the world,” says Kay. “I feel that I’ve been able to do that with every position I’ve held.” Kay’s first job was in the aviation industry where the software she created helped make flying safer. In the music industry next, she created software that helped musicians express their creative visions. In the utility industry, she created the software that helped make the grid more reliable and efficient. “Now I’ve come full circle to the manufacturing industry and the software I’m creating makes it easier for product engineers to order their parts, she says. “I don’t think people realize how much technology touches their lives.” A devoted wife and mom of three, Kay says, “A career in software development has the added benefit of flexibility that isn’t available in many other fields. Having a job with flexibility is very appealing to women, specifically moms, who desire a full-time job, yet one that can balance their work with the needs of their family.”

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Spring 2016 | her voice 43

Her Voice Service Directory • Spring 2016 Appliances


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

7217 Excelsior Rd, Suite 105 Baxter, MN (218) 454-8272

Schroeder’s Appliance


Thrivent Financial



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

18441 HWY 371 Brainerd, MN (218) 829-2881

Cuyuna Regional Medical Center 320 East Main Street Crosby, MN (218) 546-7000 (888) 487-6437

Gull Lake Glass

Just For Kix



Pequot Lakes, MN (218) 568-8280

417 8th Ave NE Brainerd, MN (218) 828-1816

Arlean’s Drapery

Essentia Health

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

Cub Foods

Home Healthcare

14133 Edgewood Dr. Baxter, MN

Accra Care Home Health Brainerd, MN (218) 270-5905

Home Improvement Hirshfield’s

Home Instead Senior Care

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

108 S 6th St Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 451-4745 • 218-855-5895

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yarn ~ antiques ~ gifts

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44 Spring 2016 | her voice

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617 Laurel Street, Brainerd, MN 56401

Her Voice Service Directory • Spring 2016 Insurance


Real Estate

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

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

14391 Edgewood Drive Baxter, MN (218) 828-2222

Northridge Agency

Lakes Area Eyecare


E.L. Menk Jewelers

Midwest Family Eye

623 Laurel St. Brainerd, MN (218) 829-7266

7870 Excelsior Rd Baxter, MN 56425 (218) 828-9545 121 4th St NE Staples, MN 56479 (218) 894-5480

Law Firm

Breen & Person Ltd.

124 N. 6th St. Brainerd, MN (218) 828-1248

Brainerd Century 21

Senior Living

Excelsior Place Assisted Living 14211 Firewood Drive Baxter, MN 56425 (218) 828-4770

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Spring 2016 | her voice 45

Tech Career Resources Here are some online resources specific to women in tech: Girl Develop It: Ladies Learning Code: DevChix: SOURCES

...Continued from page 43 Robin spent many years working for various companies that built websites for clients and developing software. But soon she was looking for new mountains to conquer. She opted to enroll in M.I.T from 2009 to 2012 to gain leadership skills from the Sloan School of Management and obtain her executive leadership degree. “I’ve been using those leadership skills, along with my IT and technology expertise, for the last four years and it’s work I truly love to do,” she added. “It’s great to be a female working in a male-dominated field, but what it’s truly about is the relationships. Women have exceptionally good communication and networking skills and the ability to naturally nurture their team members and clients.” Robin says this is a skill that’s even more important in a digital world. When asked who her greatest inspiration is, Robin says that honor belongs to her 13 year-old daughter, Abigail. “I am so inspired by my daughter,” she says enthusiastically. “Abigail is always exploring new ideas, new hobbies and basically just participating in life.” Robin advises all women to find activities that build their confidence. A twotime Ironman finisher, Robin says she applies the confidence she gains in training and competing to her professional life and encourages other women to do the same. 46 Spring 2016 | her voice

Megan Morgan

Megan Morgan, Ascensus, Brainerd

Like many business professionals, Megan Morgan’s current role as director of product management at Ascensus was not immediately on her career radar. Going to college for hotel and restaurant management, Megan says she originally had an eye on starting her own bed and breakfast.

“I love the fact that there is no ‘typical day’ at my job” ~ Megan Morgan

Megan landed in the lakes area because it was a hot spot for the hospitality industry. After a summer working at resorts, she looked for year-round opportunities and was hired by Universal Pensions for a job in the marketing department as a database administrator. “From there I moved into the IT department and began working on Project Management.” After working for a similar company in St. Cloud in 2003, Megan earned a master’s degree at St. Cloud State, then looked for work closer to home so as to spend more time with husband, Jamie, and son, Alex. The need for more family time and less drive time fueled her

choice to return to Universal Pensions, now known as Ascensus, in 2011. “I love the fact that there is no ‘typical day’ at my job,” Megan says. “I love the variety of what I do which can entail working on everything from building software applications to working the companies that partner with Ascensus. Megan says that often she was the only woman in the room during development meetings. “That could be intimidating for some, but you learn to rise above it,” she says. For all women looking to make a career in the IT field, Megan encourages them to “always have the confidence in themselves and their abilities and wear that confidence with pride.” n

Rebecca Flansburg is a proud mom of two, a freelance writer, blogger and project manager for the national children’s literacy event Multicultural Children’s Book Day. When not happily writing and creating content for others, she appreciates being outside, reading and thrifting. You can connect with her on Twitter as @RebeccFlansburg or via her blog

Best start for Baby and Mom happens here BA BY- F R I E N D LY D E S I G N ATE D 2015 - 2020

Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center has earned international recognition as a “Baby-Friendly” birth facility. The designation means its Family Birthplace offers the gold standard in care for mothers and babies.

Mom Alissa with Baby Lily

Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center is the only facility in Central Minnesota to earn the international award. Learn more. Visit or call 218.454.5935.

Her Voice Magazine Spring 2016 issue  

Living Through Lyme Disease: This woman overcame the odds of a debilitating disease to run a marathon. • Razing the Barn: In her personal es...

Her Voice Magazine Spring 2016 issue  

Living Through Lyme Disease: This woman overcame the odds of a debilitating disease to run a marathon. • Razing the Barn: In her personal es...