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2 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

FEATURES February 2017 Volume 12, Issue 2


Need a date? There’s a dozen apps for that In case you hadn’t noticed, the dating norms among 20-somethings look a little different than those of a generation ago.


Beautiful music, excruciating pain

Amy Kortuem’s talents with a harp have made her a beloved performer around the region. But for the last two years, most of her time has been spent battling back from a brain injury.


Get centered

Whether it’s your job or your relationship that’s got you stressed, we’re here to help you find some Zen, get centered and just … relaxxxxxx.

About the Cover Models Steven Labine and Michaela Shapiro strike a pose reminiscent of the 20-something generation. Our cover photograph was taken by Pat Christman. MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 3

DEPARTMENTS 6 From the Editor 8 This Day in History 9 The Gallery


Dustin Swiers

10 Beyond the Margin For the love of ‘likes’ 12 Day Trip Destinations

Shanty town

25 Food, Drink & Dine

26 Food

28 Wine

29 Beer Love child

30 Happy Hour

32 What’s Cooking Recipe for happiness

36 Living 55 Plus


Third Street Tavern Big reds

Punch for a party

56 Then & Now Laura Ingalls Wilder 58 That’s Life Stress!



60 Garden Chat Winter thoughts on next

year’s garden

62 Your Style Fear, lust, memory. Just a spritz. 64 Coming Attractions 65 Faces & Places 68 From This Valley Quite a piano

Coming in March

58 4 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Our annual photo issue!

It just keeps getting better!

Topics • • • • •

Assessment of Spells Elder Abuse Medical Marijuana Bone Health Bariatric Options

Mary Ann Donahue Looking out for you

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From The Associate EDITOR By Robb Murray February 2017 • VOLUME 12, ISSUE 2 Publisher

Steve Jameson

EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Robb Murray EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS Nell Musolf Pete Steiner Jean Lundquist Sarah Johnson Leigh Pomeroy Bert Mattson Leticia Gonzales Ann Rosenquist Fee Bryce O. Stenzel Brian Arola Amy Kortuem PHOTOGRAPHERS Pat Christman Jackson Forderer Page designer

Christina Sankey

ADVERTISING Phil Seibel manager ADVERTISING Jordan Greer Sales Josh Zimmerman Marianne Carlson Theresa Haefner Thomas Frank ADVERTISING Barb Wass ASSISTANT ADVERTISING Sue Hammar designers Christina Sankey CIRCULATION Justin Niles DIRECTOR

Mankato Magazine is published by The Free Press Media monthly at 418 South Second St., Mankato MN 56001. To subscribe, call 1-800-657-4662 or 507-625-4451. $35.40 for 12 issues. For editorial inquiries, call Robb Murray at 344-6386, or e-mail For advertising, call 344-6336, or e-mail

6 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Need a date? Launch an app I

’m well beyond my dating years. But I have to say, on first glance, I’m wondering if there isn’t something to the idea of keeping things old school. Our cover story this month pulls back the curtain a bit on the dating world of young folks. Specifically, it delves into the digital side of that world to show the impact mobile dating apps are having on the 20-something generation. Have you seen these things? They remove virtually all of the soul-searching, couragemustering, rejection-risking angst of yesteryear and boil it all down to a few taps and a swipe. Just install the app on your smartphone, answer a few questions and, BAM! You’re ready to roll down the virtual streets of modern-day matchmaking. Seems, though, like there’s something missing here. I get that it’s efficient. And I get that it’s dispensing with a lot of that interpersonal trial and error that, let’s face it, can take up a ton of time and leave a guy or gal with a few bumps and bruises on the old ego. But isn’t it those bumps and bruises that sort of define who we are? Aren’t life’s road blocks, speed bumps and detours the things that strengthen our character and build and shape us more into our truest selves? Then again, on second glance … I can imagine a younger Robb getting his hands on a tool like this and feeling like the proverbial kid in a candy store. (Which isn’t to say I’m equating women with candy, or any other type of consumable, or that I’m suggesting women are something to be evaluated or ranked, as a young Robbie might have done in the candy aisle at Brooks Superette on St. Paul’s East Side, where he stared at Charleston

Chews, squirt guns and Charlie’s Angels trading cards pondering which adolescent need on that day to satiate with the 98 cents in his pocket. The struggle was real.) Yes, on second glance, I believe the younger version of me could have appreciated the help. To a guy who is usually an introvert and generally a coward when it comes to women, these mobile apps seem like they’re maybe not all bad. What’s wrong with our tech world friends throwing a virtual bone to the shy guys of the world? But, like I said, I’m well beyond those dating years. I’ll leave those digital-dating helpers to those who need them. Elsewhere in Mankato Magazine, we’ve summoned the help of some local experts to offer you tips on how best to relax. It’s mid-winter out there and you’ve probably had it up to here with 20-degree days, scraping ice off your windshield and snow emergencies, right? Grab a cup of oolong tea, sit in your favorite easy chair and absorb the advice. It’ll do you good. Finally … Many of you know Mankato harpist Amy Kortuem. If you don’t know her, you’ve probably seen or heard her perform. She’s one of the most beloved musicians in our area. But for the past two years, her music hasn’t been her focus. Kortuem suffered a major concussion that has upended her life in unimaginable ways. Luckily, she agreed to share her inspiring story with us. I know you’re going to love it. Stay warm out there, folks. Spring will be here soon! MM Robb Murray is associate editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at 344-6386 or rmurray@ Follow him on Twitter @freepressRobb.

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 7

n i ll


. . . e v Lo

This Day in history By Jean Lundquist

Thursday, Feb. 2, 1950 Hairstyles change, but shop talk the same in 63 years Eighty-year-old Peter Spenger of Mankato will throw up his hands and groan if you ask him how many mops of hair he’s cut in the last 63 years. Not because he doesn’t enjoy cutting hair. It’s just that he’s done more clipping in a lifetime than 40 unscrupulous horse traders. Barbering runs in Spenger’s blood and runs in his family. Three sons are barbers by trade, and his sister’s husband was a barber. A brother in Duluth is a retired barber. Spenger’s two great grandsons are too young, but they are prospects. When Spenger — a 15-year old immigrant boy, walked into a St. Paul barbershop for his first job — men were wearing their hair short on top and long on the bottom. “We used to do a lot of beard trimming. Barbers hated to see beards pass out of style. Now they hate to even shave customers.” Thursday, Feb. 12, 1970 Lincoln pardons parking tickets Did you forget that today is Lincoln’s birthday when you went to work this morning? Well, so did Mankato’s meter maids. Lincoln’s birthday is a legal holiday in Minnesota. Most schools and stores don’t close, but the law has little ways of honoring honest Abe. One of those little ways is relaxing normal weekday parking restrictions, which means motorists in Mankato are not required to put money into meters along downtown streets. In Mankato, however, many motorists overlooked this fact. They could be seen today diligently putting in their 5 cents per hour. Meter maids, informed today about 9:30 a.m. of the legal holiday, trudged back and retrieved tickets they had already issued. If you received a ticket today, the city has issued an emancipation proclamation of its own. You don’t have to pay it.

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8 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Monday, Feb. 14, 1960 Died while standing up J.H. Meyers, an old gentleman of about 74 years of age, died very suddenly of heart failure complicated by asthma about 1:20 a.m. last night while standing in a public room at the Saulpaugh Hotel. A physician was summoned but it was found that the man had died almost instantly. The body was removed to the Landkamer undertaking parlors until relatives could be notified. None of his relatives had been heard from until yesterday afternoon. He was reputed to be quite well to do. Thursday, Feb. 1, 1990 County to buy more equipment for glass recycling Glass recycling is booming, and Blue Earth County Commissioners have decided to keep the program going strong by approving extra equipment. Davis Glamm, a member of the St. Clair glass recycling group, asked the board Tuesday for $3,327 for a second conveyor belt to move crushed glass into storage bins, plus another storage bin. Auctioneers pick up glass from sheds in Mankato and seven other cities throughout Blue Earth County. The crushed glass is sold to Anchor Glass in Shakopee to be made into new beer bottles, Baco Bits bottles and A-1 Steak Sauce bottles. The Actioneers receive $50 per ton of glass recycled. Saturday, Feb. 29, 1936 Heinrich Hotel sale announced Sale of the hotel Heinrich to W.G.A. Burton of Watertown, South Dakota, from the E.J. Himmelman estate was confirmed yesterday by the probate court. Mr. Burton will take possession of the hotel around March 10. Extensive alterations, repairs and improvements have been planned for the property. The hotel will be closed during the work. All rooms will be refurnished. Mr. Burton is a Minnesota man, having been born in Fairmont. The Heinrich hotel was originally opened in 1905.

The Gallery: Dustin Swiers Story by Leticia Gonzales

Techno Art

Dustin Swiers infuses art with science … or is it science with art?


s a former biology major, it’s no wonder artist Dustin Swiers of Mankato combines both science and art to create his glass-blown sculptures and jewelry. “The way that I got into things was kind of a roundabout way of curiosity and being a maker and a craftsman,” said Swiers, who has both bachelor’s and Masters of Fine Arts degrees in sculpture from Minnesota State University. His desire to experiment, he said, was spurred by his grandfather who was a typewriter repairman. As a child, Swiers would spend time at his grandfather’s house “taking things apart and putting them back together.” “Technology became that first influential thing of what are things made of,” he said. “You see a computer or a TV, whatever, and it’s just a box. I wanted to know what was on the inside of those things, so I would take them apart.” In college, Swiers switched majors several times. After stops at the biology

and park and recreation departments, he finally arrived at art, where he said he felt the most comfortable. “I work with found objects, and something that is already ready-made, and try to incorporate those types of things,” said Swiers. His drive and curiosity help him incorporate science into his work as he experiments with different objects. “A lot of that inspiration comes from a real drive for discovery and invention and creation,” Swiers said. “I often find myself asking ‘What if ...’ or ‘Why not?’ and I would take two materials and combine them in a non-traditional way and see if it works and see what my product is. Sometimes those experiments turn out well, sometimes they turn out into something that isn’t very interesting. But that is kind of how experimentation goes.” From a box of varying sizes of ropes to a box of technology parts, it isn’t uncommon to find a collection of items in his studio. Having started as an independent glass blower prior

to earning his degrees, Swiers has an established store on Etsy, an online artisan retail site, called Flame in Hand Glassworking. “I make a lot of necklace pendants that have gold or silver fume, which is what the technique is called,” said Swiers. “It’s like vaporizing metal; and through different glass blowing techniques I am able to trap it inside and manipulate it and make some interesting swirling types of patterns and flower-like shapes that have an interesting metallic or iridescent quality to them.” He is now working on a new technique called copper electroforming. “Essentially, I am able to encase objects in copper plating,” he said. “It looks like chrome plating, but with copper. That is kind of where the science comes into it. I like to utilize science to be able to make my art. It’s just another tool in the belt; a physical tool, but just being able to use the knowhow and make something happen.” MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 9

10 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


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Day Trip Destinations: Art Shanty Projects By Leticia Gonzales

SHANTY TOWN White Bear Lake’s Art Shanty Projects will amaze you with creativity, wonder


or those who don’t like ice fishing, but want an excuse to get out on the ice, the Art Shanty Projects in White Bear Lake aim to provide visitors with a creative yet engaging venue to experience winter. What first started as an informal gathering of friends on Medicine Lake over a weekend to celebrate one lone art shanty has since flourished into a growing nonprofit on more than an acre of ice on White Bear Lake. The event, which runs every weekend through February, will display 20 shanties and 14 performing arts

12 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Go If you


Art Shanty Program White Bear Lake


Saturday and Sundays,

Feb. 4-26 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission FREE

Visit for more details.

groups. “The beauty of building an ice house is that there are not building codes, which was one of the attractors for the original founders, so you can really build it in any way that you want,” Bentley said. “It can be a giant robot, or it could be a teeter totter, or it could look like a fish house, but something is happening in the inside that is completely different from what would happen in a fish house.” Cali Mastny, who grew up in Mankato and moved to the Twin Cities after graduating from Mankato West High School in 1991, participated in the event as an artist for several years before volunteering her time as a member of the Art Shanty Communications Committee. Her team’s first shanty in 2010 was called “Tiny Shanty.” “It was as if a giant mansion had been shrunk down, so everything inside was kind of tiny,” she said. In 2012, the team’s next shanty included a “monsters under the bed” theme, which featured a giant bed on top of their shanty with monster eyes poking out underneath, along with giant furry arms and tentacles sticking out. Her third shanty project was an elevator shanty. “When you came up to it on the lake, it looked like a lobby of a building,” she said. “It had some chairs and rugs, some magazines. It had an elevator door with a call button; when you pushed the call button the doors would open and you’d step inside. It looked like you were in an elevator.” While the creations may appear elaborate, it doesn’t take a professional artist to get involved in the fun. “We have a big group of people who have worked

on our shanties, and not everyone has a formal strict artist’s background,” stated Mastny. “I did go to school for art, but we‘ve had a wide variety of people who have worked on our shanties; lawyers, and computer programmers and a little bit of everything. Everyone has either a maker’s spirit or a performer’s spirit.” Some of this year’s shanties include an air hockey on ice, a conversation booth and a constellationsthemed creation. “Be prepared to engage with people or the space,” shared Mastny. “It is interactive, and things are meant to be able to be touched and talked to and played with and all that kind of stuff in most of the shanties.”

MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 13


off your feet Used to be a little courage and some luck could get you into the dating scene. Nowadays, 20-somethings and beyond are finding it a lot easier to let their fingers do the walking (or flirting) By Brian Arola | Photos by Pat Christman


erched at a high table with a good view of Rounders Sports Bar and Grill (and all the patrons in it,) two regulars of the Mankato bar scene look to pass time before their wings arrive. If this were a weekend, the 20-somethings might be mingling. It being midweek, they’re instead happy to demonstrate the other ways to meet girls these days. Rather than looking down the bar, they look down at their phones. Nick Borneke, 24, and Cody Ziemke, 25, open up Tinder (a popular smartphone dating app) and start swiping left or right. They take a rapid-fire approach, instantaneously deciding whether the pictures the young women posted on their profiles interested them. A swipe right means the woman passed the eye test. If not, to the left they go. This isn’t a one-sided affair. The women users on the apps are making the same decisions about Borneke and other users. So as not to appear too superficial, each profile includes a biography portion. But if you’re the type of person who doesn’t read fine print, you likely can’t be bothered to read the no doubt thoughtful and witty bios users pen about themselves. And Tinder, after all, is more about first impressions. Borneke switches over to a similar dating app, 14 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

called Bumble, created by former Tinder employees who wanted to give women the upper hand. Ask any woman about their experience using dating apps, and then prepare to recoil in horror at their tales of untoward sexual propositions or worse, unsolicited pictures of private parts sent their way by guys who, for some reason, think this kind of gesture will pay off. With those horror stories in mind, Bumble at least allows women to initiate conversations once users match. Young adult singles are rarely using just one of these apps. Even more rare might be those who aren’t using any of them at all. It’s not that they aren’t finding love the way their parents once did, they’re simply playing with an expanded, mobile repertoire to help them do so at times. How they use the apps, however, vastly differs. Borneke and Ziemke don’t use Tinder and Bumble with intentions to match, initiate conversations, meet matches in person, hit it off and live happily ever after. People who do use the apps for those purposes likely will be disappointed. Anyone who’s watched “The Bachelor” has heard a love-struck sap complain how a fellow contestant isn’t in it for the “right reasons” — “right reasons,” of course meaning “true love.” With Tinder and other

Cody Ziemke, left, and Nick Borneke start swiping on Tinder, the most popular mobile dating app, at Rounders Sports Bar and Grill downtown Mankato. The two say they don’t use app seriously, instead preferring to meet dates in person first. apps of its kind, we’re all the skeptical contestant wondering what every other user is using it for. Going by a 2016 Consumers’ Research survey, users aren’t using the apps for much. They found just 13 percent of relationships for Tinder matches lasted longer than one month, well behind other dating services like Match, eHarmony and OkCupid (Bumble wasn’t included.) Steven Labine, 23, who met girlfriend Michaela Shapiro the old fashioned way, said people he knows who use apps like Tinder often don’t seem to realize others aren’t using it to find love. “It’s this instant gratification when it comes to dating, like you need to find your perfect match and you need to find it now,” he said. Borneke and Ziemke have their own reasons for using Tinder, and they insist it’s not for hook ups. Tinder is notoriously known as an app for casual hook-ups, but the two are quick to point out they’ve never actually met up with matches in person. So why use it at all? “I use Tinder strictly as a confidence booster,” Borneke said, lighting up with glee moments later when a girl on Bumble matched with him. Ziemke isn’t sure he’d ever use the app for anything more than reassurance. “I think it’s fun just swiping and seeing who you

match with, but I’d find it awkward to date someone through Tinder,” he said. This was a common refrain when singles were asked how they use mobile dating apps. They’ll tell you they’ve used them, sure, but not to actually try to meet someone. Finding love the way their parents did — through a friend, in class, at work or the bar — still seems to have strong allure. The stigma attached to online dating may be lessening — Pew Research found use of dating sites or mobile apps by young adults has nearly tripled since 2013 — but a cell phone still doesn’t make it into anyone’s idea of a fairytale romance. “I’d rather come down here on a Friday and Saturday night and do it the old-fashioned way,” Borneke said. “For me it’s more about the thrill of the hunt.” Emily Hinton, out for dinner down the street at Blue Bricks, isn’t a huge fan of mobile-aided dating either. Hinton, 28, can speak from experience, having met up with a couple matches on Plenty of Fish — another of the free mobile apps. Her first match took her out for ice cream. He brought his son with. It was awkward. Match no. 2 she met up with a few times, but the spark wasn’t there. Then there the ones not in it for MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 15

As a picture shows up on his screen, Nick Borneke quickly decides whether to swipe left or right. Provided the girl also swipes right on his picture, apps like Tinder and Bumble would allow the users to message each other. the “right reasons.” “They were just looking for a hookup, not a relationship,” she said of her experience with the apps. Her friend, David Brand, said the free apps like Tinder are more likely to be havens for the hook-up culture. and eHarmony are considered more serious, he said, because users pay for the service. Dr. Kristen Cvancara, associate professor in communication studies at Minnesota State University, said it’s understandable for young adults to take a casual approach to the mobile dating apps. Who needs an app when college offers a built-in venue to meet prospective partners? “I think they don’t feel the kind of pressure or reliance on these tools that maybe an individual from another decade would,” Cvancara said. As they age and their time gets gobbled up by responsibilities like work and children, their approach may grow more serious, she said. Despite their own skepticism toward Tinder and other free services, Hinton and Brand said they’re within the age range where they’ll start to see the upsides of the apps. “I think it makes it a little easier to date outside your circle of friends,” Hinton said. They also offer a lifeline to shy people, Brand said. 16 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

“It’s intimidating for some people to approach someone,” he said, especially if you don’t even know whether the person you’re approaching is single. “You can at least assume they’re single if they’re on the apps.” Access to potential partners is undoubtedly the biggest benefit of the mobile apps, Cvancara said. Technology’s impact on dating and relationships often comes up in her interpersonal communication courses. Like any new technology, the apps come with their share of drawbacks to counterbalance the benefits, and your enjoyment with the apps largely depends on how you use them, she said. If you’re looking for authenticity in a partner above all else, she said, Tinder and similar apps might prove frustrating. By nature, the people you match with crafted their profiles to portray themselves in the best possible light. It might take until the first face-to-face encounter to really know who you’ve been chatting with. In that way, interpersonal communication is just as important as ever. It just comes into play later. “The bottom line is to actually develop a relationship with them, you still have to meet and converse and interact,” Cvancara said. Her colleague in the communication studies department, Dr. Kristen Treinen, noticed other downsides in her experience using mobile apps.

After not responding to messages sent her way by interested guys, they got upset. This being the Internet and all, they let her know about it. It wasn’t all that different from a guy spouting off after getting rejected at a bar, she said, but this was slightly worse. “They don’t even know me,” she remembered thinking. “How could they say something like that?’” About 57 percent of women have reported feeling harassed on mobile app or dating sites, compared to just 21 percent of men in the Consumers’ Research study. Treinen said part of the problem is the newness of the apps. While we’ve established boundaries on what’s acceptable in face-to-face interactions, we’re still working to put in place similar boundaries online. She stopped short of calling the apps inherently problematic, instead calling it “different.” This word, “different,” comes up quite a bit when people are asked about how apps like Tinder and Bumble have impacted dating culture. As in, they’re not good or bad influences per se, they’re just ... different. Treinen and Cvancara know the extent of the difference. They remember the days you had to hope your crush was home when you called. Now someone you’re interested in is rarely more than a text message away. Or a swipe. Shapiro said as long as people know what they’re getting into with the apps, the extra opportunities they offer to people seeking love should be seen as a good thing. “The world is always changing and we’re changing with it,” she said. “I don’t think change is MM necessarily bad.”

Popular mobile dating apps Tinder — Most popular of the apps. Uses GPS to find other users nearby. Users then swipe left or right on pictures to indicate their interest. Contact can be initiated once both sides swipe right on each other.

Bumble — Similar to Tinder, but women make the first move.

OkCupid — Biography portion of profile is more robust than Tinder. Compatibility percentages determined by user questionnaires.

Hinge — Takes Facebook info and matches users with singles in their extended friend network.

Coffee Meets Bagel — Users match with one person per day based on preferences they fill out.

Grindr — Similar to Tinder, but for the LGBTQ community. MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 17

y Essa

By Amy Kortuem 18 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


noun ’däjō, ’däjēō/ — A piece of music that should be played slowly e


Everyone knows Amy Kortuem for her beautiful voice and harp concerts. What you might not know about her, though, is that for the past two years she’s been battling her way back to normal after a life-altering concussion. And she’s ready to tell you about it.


wish I could tell you, but I just don’t know. I don’t know the exact reason I fainted and fell in the shower that March morning in 2015, hitting both sides of my forehead in the corner. Or why, when I came to, I stood up right away, fainted again and slammed the back of my head into the tile wall behind me. The only thing I can tell you is this: There were too many reasons to choose from. I’ve fainted before when I’ve been stressed or overwhelmed or overworked or sick or hungry or too hot or because I stood up too fast. When I’ve done too much and ignored the signs that I should stop, sometimes my body stops me. Remember that scene in “The Man with Two Brains,” when Steve Martin asks the portrait of his dead wife for a sign if she thinks there’s anything wrong with his feelings for the new woman in his life? There’s a loud wailing “Nooooooooo!” and lights flash and the wind blows and papers fly through the air and the portrait spins around. And Steve Martin says, “Just any kinda sign. I’ll keep on the lookout for it.” Yeah. It was like that, but the signs were in the form of week-long headaches, fatigue, back pain, depression, anxiety, perpetual sadness and starting to not care much at all about all the things I’d built. And, sometimes, fainting. But I was busy. Busy giving two self-produced harp concerts a year for 12 years, filling weekends and evenings playing for weddings and events, giving harp lessons, freelance writing, trying to write a book, and working 50-hour weeks at my day job as a copywriter at Carlson Craft to keep it all going. Busy getting promoted. Busy getting accepted into the private writing group of an author I’d admired, which upped the pressure to write more at home between freelance writing projects after writing all day at work. Busy traveling to Florida, to Arizona, to France, to Montreal and then to Ireland within eight months. Busy catching a fashionable cold in Paris that knocked me flat with its achoo-la-la-ing, which

gave The Irish Cough I caught in County Kerry fertile ground to live on and on in a chronic hacking.

“Give me just any kinda sign…”

Driven. That’s what people have called me when I’m working on something. Obsessed. Focused (when they’re being kind). Crazy (when they’re not). When I went to the doctor for the third time about The Irish Cough, she had me fill out a form and I must have checked all the wrong boxes because she said, “You need to do something. Or, rather, not do so many things.” She gave me some information about a lovely little retreat where I could remind myself how to meditate and take care of myself and start listening to what I need again. I so won that retreat, people. I wrote the best responses to the questions and I read the most from the book and I stayed up the latest doing assignments and I closed my eyes the hardest when we were meditating and I cried the ugliest when people looked at me in shock and sympathy after I listed the reasons I thought I “might” be so stressed. Then, I took a shower. And I fainted. And I fell. And I hit my head. Three times. I should have asked somebody to drive me to the ER. I should have skipped breakfast and the morning session and the closing ceremony and gone back to bed, but I stayed until the last candle was lit and even wrote a Haiku about the whole experience that left everybody in tears. Then I stayed for lunch. Then, instead of going straight home, I decided to go to Burlington Coat Factory and shop for shoes. Shoes. I remember nothing from the time I decided not to buy that pair of adorable retro navy blue Mary Jane pumps with the cream swirly trim and cute buckles (a decision I still regret) until around noon the next day, when I woke up at home MANKATO MAGAZINE • January 2017 • 19

in a haze of pain with blurred vision in my left eye and a hammering in my head. I’ve had migraines for years, so I know headaches. But this was no headache. This was pain. Coming straight from the center of my brain. My brain hurt. And when I stood up out of bed, I fell from the pain in my right ankle and my left knee. The Urgent Care doctor said things about X-rays and a fractured ankle and a sprained knee and multiple contusions and tried to put a boot on my right foot, but I fell after trying to stand on my left knee. Heat, ice, Ibuprofen, rest – in which order I couldn’t remember. I kept asking about my head. That pain. That pounding. My vision. “Heat, ice, Ibuprofen, rest,” he repeated. “On my head?” I asked. He asked if I had any more questions. “What about my head?” I asked. He told me to follow up with my doctor.


I went to work the next day. And the next. I had deadlines. My boss was on vacation and I was second in command. There were things to do. My doctor was the one who diagnosed the concussion in the follow-up appointment. She told me to stay home from work for two weeks and rest in the dark and quiet. She said it was a strangely good thing I’d fractured my ankle and sprained my knee because otherwise I wouldn’t sit still and let my brain heal. That this was the proverbial “knock over the head” to bring me to my senses. I went back to work after the appointment. A week later, I gave a concert of Celtic harp music for the Arts Center of Waseca. People told me it was outstanding. That I played beautifully and said fascinating things and sang like an angel. I remember nothing about it except that I’d painted my toenails green.

“Give me just any kinda sign…” The summer of 2015 was a blur of head pain and nausea. My vision cleared, but it hurt to move my eyes. Computer time made it worse, and since I’m a writer, I’m working on the computer a lot. Light was bad. Sound was bad. Smells were bad. Motion was bad. Walking was bad. Lying down was bad. Working was bad. Except for the weekly massages I got, everything was just bad. Family and Medical Leave Act, short-term disability and insurance paperwork are torturous enough, I’m sure, when you don’t have a concussion. I had a concussion. A severe one, a “very thorough one,” my neurologist called it after looking at the results of my MRI. “Or, technically, three thorough ones from hitting your head that hard that many times,” she’d said. I made a disaster of all that paperwork. Had to submit everything at least three times before getting it right. I forgot to pay bills. Forgot to do my taxes and had to get two extensions. Put jelly beans in the refrigerator and cucumbers in the cupboard. “How are you doing?” a co-worker asked as I was waiting at the coffee pot for my printed pages to appear. I lost mail. Lost my phone. Lost my keys. Lost my purse. Lost my jar of cumin (it was in the purse I’d lost). Lost my only good black bra (don’t ask because I don’t know). Lost huge chunks of memory. I lost the 20 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

ability to feel any emotion, but I cried all the time, tears leaking down my numb cheeks. I didn’t, however, want to lose the non-refundable tuition I’d paid for a writing workshop in California, so I decided I was probably well enough to go. After the first day, my brain was slamming against my skull. After the second day, I was shaking uncontrollably. On the third day, the vision in my left eye grew hazy, so I left the workshop. I spent the rest of the week in the cloud-like bed of a quiet little hotel in Carmel-by-the-Sea before managing to fly back home, where I lost myself to the rapidly increasing brain pain, headaches, confusion, nausea and lethargy. It was then that I knew. I’d lost my brain. I’d lost who I was. I’d lost Amy.

“Give me just any kinda sign…” I have daily headaches varying in severity from “there” to “bad” to “paralyzing.” But underneath it all, my brain always hurts -- hurts in a way that is more than a headache. Deep in my brain’s wavy, soft center, if feels like there’s … something. Something off, wrong, angry. I’ve tried everything to feel better. Reiki. Deep tissue massage. Chiropractic. Functional neurology. Acupressure. Cutting sugar. Cutting gluten. Cutting nightshade vegetables. Cutting caffeine. Cutting alcohol. Vision specialists dealing with head injuries. Glasses with special prisms and blue-light blocking coatings; one pair for distance, one pair for computer range and two pairs of bifocals. Vision therapy evaluations. Three different types of cleanses. Fasting. Taking 35 nutritional supplements a day (Spanish black radish tablets, anyone?) Butterbur capsules. Big doses of Vitamin B2. Fish oil. Depakote. Topamax. Sumatriptan. Rizatriptan. Anesthetic trigger point injections. Enough Advil Extra-Strength Gel Caps to make my blood run green. I begged my neurologist for exploratory surgery because I was convinced my parasitic twin was in the center of my brain, growing teeth and hair and trying to get out. The neurologist said that was a very accurate description of concussion pain. But she said ‘no’ to surgery. Thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars are still festering on my credit cards from trying everything. Chiropractic and massage helped. That time the functional neurologist pulled my right index finger (don’t go there) and blew warm air in my left ear somehow helped. The glasses helped. Rizatriptan helped. Rest helped. Limited computer time helped. Taking things slowly helped. Not putting pressure on myself helped. So I went back to work full time. I took on more freelance writing. I packed my December calendar with holiday gigs. And then I decided to give a Winter Solstice harp concert. I was going to prove that I was “back,” that the concussion never happened. And it was working ... until my fingers stopped cooperating in the middle of the second verse of “The Old Year Now Away Has Fled.” I just stopped playing. I watched my fingers flutter in front of the strings, beyond my control. It was like when you forget what you were going to say – you

have the words and then you feel them slipping away, away, away down a strange, empty tunnel. What am I doing, I wondered. Whose hands are these? Is this really the concert? I’d introduced the song in a funny way, saying really, why would verse two have us singing about Christ’s circumcision to the tune of “Greensleeves” when it’s Christmas time? So when I stopped playing, the audience laughed and laughed and laughed. While they laughed, I put my head in my hands. They thought I was laughing, too. Instead, I clenched my fluttering fingers into fists at my temples. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, I repeated to myself. Keep playing, keep playing, keep playing. When I lifted my head, the audience was still laughing. “Somebody’s not happy about this circumcision thing,” I said. More laughter. I picked up playing where I left off. The show went on. It had to go on. And at the end, the audience applauded. Then they stood up and applauded some more.

“Give me just any kinda sign…” My neurologist said 15 months is just an average for the amount of the time it could take for recovery. She said it could take two years, maybe more, for full recovery. She recommended I have more patience. Practice more self care. Maybe even a little self love. And to try not to be so afraid. Then, the job offer of a lifetime presented itself: Senior Media Writer for the printing company I’d been freelance writing for, located in a Minneapolis suburb. A huge pay increase. Near the action and arts of the city. This was the security and opportunity I’d been waiting for. I resigned from my job of 22 years, packed up the house I’d lived in just as long, wrangled my three cats, and moved to an apartment in Eden Prairie. I wrote 22 drafts of copy for the company’s new home page. I wrote new-and-improved blog posts, social media copy, product copy, letters, emails, newsletters, surveys and came up with a new copy style for the product pages. I got home at 7 p.m. most nights and went straight to bed with headaches so bad I couldn’t see. Then, after two and a half months, the company hired a consultant. My boss’ job, my job and the jobs of practically the entire marketing department were eliminated. But I wasn’t giving up. I was determined to make a go of it in the cities. I was going to sell my house, live off the proceeds and finally finish my book ... and then just see what happened. What happened was this: Back at the house I was trying to sell in North Mankato, a minor repair on my 100-year-old house revealed the need for a gigantic construction project. Which, being unemployed, I couldn’t afford in addition to the mortgage payment and the apartment rent. Then Harry, my giant white fluffy soul mate of a cat, died. I admitted defeat. My Dad, my brother, a friend and three cousins packed up trailers and trucks and moved me back home. After the last box was hefted into my house and my moving team drove away, I curled into a fetal position on my mattress on the bedroom floor, sandwiched between my two remaining cats, helpless with pain and nausea and fatigue, and I didn’t move for days.


Maybe it’s because I was a gymnast that I instinctively get back up after a fall and finish the routine, even if it’s with a broken foot (true story). Or maybe it’s because I’m a musician that I keep on playing when something goes wrong in a song. Or maybe it’s because I let myself be so brainwashed by the cult of busy-ness and so addicted to achievement that the accomplishments I could list off or work hours I could count up became more important than my own health. I don’t know for sure. But I’ve had a lot of time to think since I rose from that fetal position and started regrouping my life. Being unemployed has meant that I’ve had time and freedom. I’ve healed more, the pain has lessened, the worst headaches aren’t as frequent. I feel more clarity. I simply feel more. I’ve cried real tears and I’ve gotten really angry and I’ve had some epic laugh attacks. At my 20-month follow-up appointment, my neurologist said that what hasn’t yet fully healed from the concussion by now (or gotten “back to normal”) might … not. That any progress from here on out will be very, very slow. The look she gave me was kind, sympathetic. She let me cry. Then she suggested I give myself the freedom to accept this “new normal” rather than getting frustrated and angry with myself and apologizing to everyone because I’m not back at my pre-concussion state. A light flickered then in that painful darkness. I began to realize that, really, I’m fine. My memory can be maddeningly fickle at times. When I’m tired, I drop things and lose my balance and get confused and mix up my words so badly I’ve put my friends into hysterics. Some of those mix-ups have even worked their way into my daily lexicon. For example, I now download files to my “doorknob,” not my desktop. Because laughing at this complex and confounding post-concussion condition helps. I’m really, truly fine. I can still do everything I’ve always done. I’m just learning to live at a saner pace. To be who I am now vs. doing more things to try to get “back to normal.” Because if the old “normal” was over-achieving to the point of collapse and strip-mining my brain of its creativity for everyone else’s benefit and putting my well-being last on my list – why would I ever, ever want to get back there? There are gifts this situation is still giving me. The portrait has stopped spinning and the wind has died down and the ghostly wailing has ceased, because I pay more attention to the signs now. I say ‘no’ when I’m overwhelmed. I rest when I’m tired. I limit my computer time when my eyes hurt. I ask for help when I need to load up my harp. I do some freelance writing, but I also write for myself. I’m searching for a job that will benefit from my skills without splitting my head in two. I do everything to protect my head. But sometimes, I do things even though I know they’ll hurt, like submitting myself to the lights and sounds of the Mankato Symphony’s Led Zeppelin concert, like binge-watching “Law & Order: SVU” for two days with my left eye closed, like playing my harp in three different locations on Christmas Eve, because I have a life to live, and I want to live it. The pain? That’s what Rizatriptan and ice packs are for. MM MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 21

Brittany Bushaw can knead the stress right out of your body. Photo by Pat Christman. 22 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

ust relax! J Feeling stressed out? Of course you are. We all are. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with plenty of ideas to chill out as we wait for spring to arrive. By Nell Musolf


n today’s ultra-hectic world, figuring out how to forget the daily rush and find a way to relax can be something of a challenge, especially during the dreary end-of-winter months. Not to worry: We’ve compiled a few tips and ideas from some local folks doing their best to calm down, go with the flow and relax. Mom and daughter Kathy and Emily Doherty are both in the midst of more than average stress. Kathy is getting divorced and Emily is a single mom of a 3-year old. Toss in that Emily’s son is about to go to daycare for the first time and it’s apparent why finding time to relax is a top priority for both mom and daughter. Kathy, an avid reader, has changed her reading list to help her soothe her worries. “One thing I have done to help me relax is switch from reading non-fiction to fiction,” Kathy said. “Reading a beautiful or silly story instead of the stark truth of non-fiction takes me out of my own head and helps put everything into perspective.” Emily ventures into the great outdoors to do some stargazing when she’s feeling overwhelmed. “There’s something about looking up at a starlit sky that helps remind me how small and fleeting and not permanent our troubles are,” Emily said. “It doesn’t always calm me down, but it usually helps.” Both Doherty women enjoy wandering around bookstores to relax. Neither are fond of malls, but thrift stores are another source of relaxation. One final relaxation tip that works for both women can be found in the comfort of their own living room. “The one thing that does seem to calm both of us down is binge watching ‘Charmed’ on Netflix,” Kathy said. “Works every time.” Relationship troubles Shelly Holt’s day job is a mental health therapist for the Counseling Services of Southern Minnesota where she sees people who are facing all kinds of different stress inducing situations. “Clients come in with all sorts of issues they’d like to address and almost all create stress responses,” Holt said. “Relationship problems are the No. 1 concern of most of my clients whether they are 6 or 70.” Holt works with her clients to learn about the

mind and body connection and what is within their control. “I help them uncover what the triggers are, what their personal stress reactions are and how they currently cope with stress. So many people don’t realize that there is a connection between their mind and body,” Holt said. “Many people use unhealthy coping such as overeating, overuse of alcohol or other substances thinking that will help them to relax, but more often than not these things are excessive and counterproductive. I teach them what I know and practice myself. They can then try different methods and determine what works for them.” What works for Holt are a variety of techniques including mindful activities such as focused breathing, visualization, yoga and prayer. Holt also meditates and listens to relaxing music, takes Epsom salt baths and uses aromatherapy. “I get a weekly massage and I love to read,” Holt said. “In the summer I garden, take long walks and sit by the bonfire because those activities help ground me. I work hard to put a lot of margin around and am choosy with what and who I’m involved with because my occupation can be stressful.” Holt also suggests staying away from sensory stimulating activities like watching too much television, spending too much time on the computer, fluorescent lights and loud music. “No more 80’s rock bands,” Holt said. “They cause stressful responses in me.” Holt said that the most important thing she has learned is when to use the word “no.” “We often add or even create our own stress by overextending ourselves,” Holt said. “Some people relax by being with other or engaging in activities. I need solitude. It just depends on how one is wired.” Brittany Bushaw has been a massage therapist for 10 years and a yoga instructor for eight. She currently works at Indigo Organic where, following a massage, she provides clients with yoga stretches and postures for them to do to help sustain the relaxation and tension relief achieved in the massage session. “I have seen people have amazing transitions in MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 23

pain relief by doing a few simple yoga stretches between massages,” Bushaw said. Yoga is an intentional practice of moving the body in correlation with the breath. By focusing on deep breathing along with specific body movements, the mind becomes present in the moment and the outside world drops away naturally. “Now that the mind is getting a break from thinking and is relaxed and still, the body then begins to feel the effects of the relaxed mind and follows suit,” Bushaw said. Bushaw had a few suggestions for someone trying to relax.

24 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

“If you are tense I would suggest moving to a comfortable sitting or lying down position. Close your eyes and turn your attention to your breathing. Is it shallow? Short? Choppy? Try to breath in slow, deep, smooth breaths. Then turn your attention to where your tension lies. Breath into that space of tension or pain. Listen to your body and move slowly.” Bushaw said that if pain is in the neck, lower the chin to the chest and the ear to the shoulder. If it’s upper back pain, begin to relax the shoulders away from the ears and roll the shoulders out. Hip pain can be alleviated by standing and swaying hips side to side with bent knees. “Enter the tense places in your body with curiosity,” Bushaw said. “What in your daily life is causing the tension? What movement feels good and what movement creates discomfort? Yoga means union, and if you are breathing while focusing on mindful movement then you are doing yoga.” Bushaw also said the most valuable relaxation tool is one that is with everyone at all times: our breath. “By focusing on deepening our breath, our mind lets go and our heart rate slows down. Most people believe they need to set special time aside to relax or have their environment perfectly set up. While those are helpful, your mind and body don’t need all of that. They just need you to be aware of your breath and slow it down to relax,” Bushaw said. MM


Enjoy! — Robb Murray, Associate Editor, Mankato Magazine

southern mn style

ead on over to Third Street As we enter February, the month of love (or so they say), here’s an idea: Let’s spread some love to a new restaurant in St. Peter. It’s called Third Street Tavern, and it occupies the space left vacant by Lone Star Barbecue. When I’d heard Lone Star was closing, I was a little sad. I didn’t eat there much but when I did, I was always very impressed with not only the food but the friendly staff. Plus, it was about the only home-grown BBQ joint in the area. That space has housed several businesses over the years that, for whatever reason, couldn’t last longer than a few years. When I’d heard the Person family was buying it, I was hopeful. They’re one of the families in the region that seem to have figured out how to make a restaurant successful in what proves to be a fickle market. Hopefully the same recipe for success they cooked up at Tav on the Ave, The Neighbor’s, Dino’s and Number 4 will follow through to this new endeavor. Sarah Johnson’s got the scoop for you in this month’s Food, Drink & Dine. Oh, and don’t forget to check out Leigh Pomeroy’s annual ode to “Big Reds,” and Bert Mattson’s beer suggestions for lovely brews.

food, drink & dine

Head on over to Third Street

Food southern mn style

New kid on the block St. Peter’s Third Street Tavern hopes to succeed where many others have failed By Sarah Johnson | Photos by Jackson Forderer


old flavors meet high-class spirits at the new Third Street Tavern, a block off Highway 169 in St. Peter’s bustling shopping and entertainment district. The menu is exciting, the liquor selection is impressive, and the décor is sublime. With an on-site smoker and a creative and experienced cooking staff, the new bar-and-grill is becoming a go-to place for a consistently quality food and libations. General manager and co-owner Carter Person thinks so too. “People leave with a smile on their face,” he said from a table in the sun-filled, reclaimed-wood-andoriginal-brick eatery. “It’s been a lot of fun. Some of the menu has taken a life of its own. We want to keep surprising people.” Gourmet burgers (including the cheese-stuffed Juicy Lucies and Bleu Lucies), grilled steaks, pastas, freshcut French fries and tableside guacamole share the menu with smokehouse specialties such as brisket, ribs, half-chickens, pulled pork … even the chicken wings are smoked. A freewheeling appetizer menu contains unique versions of old favorites. French fries become 26 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

“freedom fries” dressed up with tomatoes, cheese, green onions and Sriracha dressing. Quesadillas go Cuban-style with pulled pork, ham, pickles and Swiss cheese. Fried mozzarella comes in a fork-friendly slab, not individual sticks. The decadent housemade dessert menu reminds diners not to stuff themselves before the sweet ending: banana cream crème brulee, bourbon chocolate pecan pie, and (the real) Grandma Sally’s chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, baked fresh to order and served with a glass of milk. Of course. Third St. Tavern along with the Konsbruck Hotel above it are the latest ventures from Mankato Independent Originals, Inc., the family-owned business that also created some of Mankato’s most popular food destinations: Tav on the Ave, Number 4, Neighbor’s Italian Bistro, Dino’s Pizzeria and Absolute Catering. (Before that, the family was involved with the fondly remembered Adrian’s Restaurant and the Corner Malt Shoppe, in and near the space where Neighbor’s is now.) “It’s our first step out of Mankato,” said Person, “and that was definitely a challenge.” He said the historic and beautiful building itself was

this quality was lost. The Jefferson distillery decided to recreate that method of sending casks out to sea for years, and has been selling these bourbons for premium prices, as you can imagine. Most aficionados say it’s well worth it. Or perhaps whiskey is more your taste? Try a 12-year-old Hibiki or a Yamazaki Single Malt. These Japanese offerings are among the best in the world, regularly beating out traditional Scottish and Irish distilleries. Tap beers focus on Minnesota’s best (Surly, Fulton, Schell’s, Summit, Loon Juice) as does the wine list, which features Chankaska Creek varieties produced within a few miles of the place. Choices include bottles of their Marquette Reserve, the finest red wine yet produced at Chankaska. Then there’s the five-bedroom boutique Konsbruck Hotel above the tavern, soothing rooms of Old World charm with modern amenities. The hotel originally opened in 1895 and advertised in frontier newspapers; now it has time-traveled to a five-star recommendation from Trip

Celebrating Our 10 Year Anniversary And Award Winning Business 2006-2016

Advisor on the Internet. Rates are surprisingly reasonable, with rooms featuring antique-style bathtubs, luxurious bedding and oodles more space than ordinary hotel rooms. While the rooms would be perfect for romantic getaways, all sorts of travelers would be well advised to book here as well for value and comfort. Person said the experience of opening a business in St. Peter has been comfortable as well. From city officials, such as Director of Community Development Russ Wille and his staff, to the folks who pop in to say hi, it’s a special sort of place. “St. Peter has a really good sense of community,” he said. “They’ve really embraced us.”

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a big part of the allure when they were considering purchasing the property. “There’s a lot of history in this building,” he said. “It’s survived the two major tornadoes that have hit St. Peter. We wanted it to feel like we’ve been here for a hundred years.” Happy hour(s) run Monday through Friday 2-5 p.m. and return 9 p.m. to close. Beer specials bring back some oldies with Hamm’s, PBR and Grain Belt on sale. The bourbon list includes more than 20 varieties, including the elite Jefferson’s Ocean, which completes its aging process on a ship at sea to replicate the original way bourbon was transported. From distilleries in Kentucky, bourbon casks were boated down the Ohio River to the Mississippi, on to New Orleans and ocean-going vessels toward Europe and the rest of the world. The sloshing this type of travel created intensified and darkened the bourbon, so that when it was tapped, it had improved much further than its landlubber cousins in the same amount of time. With modern transportation methods,

MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 27

Wine & Beer


By Leigh Pomeroy

southern mn style


Big bad reds for the end of winter

bout this time of year I nearly always expound on the virtues of big reds — a.k.a. big BAD reds — for the final days of winter. So here is a guide to hopefully give you some direction. My favorite big bad reds are Barolo from the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy and Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany in central Italy. Both show great intensity in their youth, which does not soften till they are over 10 years of age. This comes from the magical combination of the grape, geography, climate and winemaking. Barolo is made from the nebbiolo grape, which seems to do well only in Piedmont. Vintners elsewhere have tried to make wine from nebbiolo but without the same degree of success. One reason is Barolo’s unique geography and climate. “Nebbiolo” means “fog,” and indeed late in the season fog creeps over Barolo’s rolling hills, which leads to a late harvest. Generally, the longer the hang time on the vine, the more intense the grape flavors get. The funny thing about Barolo is that, because of its sometimes lighter color, one doesn’t always think it’s going to be a big wine when poured. Yet when it gets into your mouth it explodes with intensity and flavor. Brunellos are similar in style, big and bold in their youth, becoming sublime in their old age. Yet they are made with quite a different grape, a unique clone of the sangiovese (sometimes called sangiovese grosso). They are grown further south near Siena on the warm slopes surrounding the Medieval town of Montalcino. Again, it’s that magical combination of climate, geography and grape that creates such a unique wine. Both Barolos and Brunellos must undergo extended aging by law: for Barolo, three years, including 18 months in wood; and for Brunello, two years in wood plus four months in bottle. Not to be a total Italophile, my third favorite big bad red is Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon — not the commercial stuff but those made by small, family owned wineries who either grow their own grapes or have long-term contracts with excellent vineyards. While Napa Valley is considered the prime source of American Cabernet Sauvignon, California produces big bad Cabernets from other areas, such as Ridge Vineyards’ esteemed Monte Bello vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, as well as parts of Sonoma County and the further south and warmer area around Paso Robles.

28 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

And let’s not forget that Washington, while relatively new to grape growing, is producing monster Cabs of its own. Again, look for small, family-owned properties. One grape that is less place specific but produces big bad reds in a number of climates and geographies is syrah. Originally from Iran, it found a home in the Rhône Valley of France, where it reaches its quintessence of strength and power in the wines of Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. From there it has migrated to a number of locations, most notably the warm soils of Australia, where it is called Shiraz. But it has also achieved intensity and thus success in California, Washington, Chile, South Africa and Italy. A relative newcomer to the big bad red scene is the Argentine Malbec. Originally transplanted from Cahors, France, where it makes rustic, long-lived wines, it has excelled in the high-altitude vineyards of Argentina, resulting in a much rounder, jammy expression of the grape. Two final wines need to be included in our big bad red exclusive group: Amarone della Valpolicella from the Verona area of Italy and late harvest California Zinfandels. Amarones are made from corvina, rondinella and molinara grapes, but what makes the wine particularly unique is that some of the grapes are partially dried on racks before fermentation. This leads to a rich, full-bodied, alcoholic (16% and up) and often slightly sweet elixir. Like Barolo and Brunello, it is a wine that doesn’t reveal its finest splendor till after a decade or so in the bottle. Late harvest Zinfandels are similar in that they can be high in alcohol and sometimes show a touch of sweetness. But instead of being dried on racks, the grapes are picked when they are very high in sugar with some raisining on the vine. Needless to say, the best examples of all these wines can be quite expensive. So that’s where your research comes in, which to me is half the fun — that is, learning the stories behind the wines you’re sampling. Leigh Pomeroy is a Mankato-based writer and wine lover.


By Bert Mattson

Heady verse for Valentine’s A

n alternate name for Valentine’s Day is the Feast of Saint Valentine. Conceived as a liturgical event — a feast honoring a Roman saint of elusive origin — it’s become widely recognized as a romantic one. Chaucer, the eminent poet of the Middle Ages, is credited with creating the association with courtship. The holiday is since irretrievably intermingled with poetry and meals marketed to lovers. Percy Bysshe Shelley captures the essence in classic verse of Love’s Philosophy: The fountains mingle with the river And the rivers with the ocean, The winds of heaven mix forever With a sweet emotion; Nothing in the world is single; All things by a law divine In one spirit meet and mingle. Why not I with thine? As much as good company, I adore food and beverage. I love when they mingle well. I’ve been known to miss chunks of conversation while contemplating an interesting restaurant dish. Though, these days, I tend to favor a few straightforward courses prepared at home. Crostini is generally a safe starter. A slice of oil-brushed and broiled baguette with a touch of fig jam and a tangle of prosciutto makes an admirable impression on its own — try mingling that with a bottle of Love Child No. 6 from Boulevard Brewing Co. It comes in a big bottle with a cork, a little reminiscent of wine inside and out. It’s sour, funky, bready and slightly sweet. Notes of dark fruit in this American Wild Ale pair off with sweet and acidic fig preserve. The dry-cured ham echoes funky, oaky elements in the ale. A faint breadiness and

an impression of black pepper in the beer tip their caps to the crostini. Alesmith’s Horny Devil is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale that projects apple, pear and spice. Its curious combination of carbonation and an impression of viscosity lend it to a washed rind cheese. We tried it with North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster but Good Thunder is well worth a shot. The fruit and flowery notes contrast the dense funk of a ripe, runny wheel. Strong Ale and Strong Cheese are not for everyone; if either are for you, this course is well worth the minimal effort. It wouldn’t be much of a Valentine’s Day without dessert. Try Southern Tier’s Salted Caramel Imperial Stout with something only subtly sweet. Bread pudding is a sound recommendation, with creamed whipped without much sugar. Another excellent option are those trendy chocolate wafer crackers with unsweetened whipped cream and a raspberry or half a strawberry. It’s sound principle to keep a dessert’s sweetness subdued when pairing with beer, even in the case of imperial stout. Whipped cream presents a complementary texture to this stout brewed with lactose. The fruit finds familiar ground with chocolate and caramelized sugar aspects of the Stout. As Shelley’s axiom insists, nothing in the word is single. Even if you happen to feast alone on Saint Valentine, why not mingle with one of these bottles? It’s probably best not to disrespect divine law. Bert Mattson is a chef and writer based in St. Paul. He is the manager of the iconic Mickey’s Diner.

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What’s Cooking By Sarah Johnson

southern mn style

What’s your recipe for happiness? A

s Ben Franklin famously said, the Constitution only gives us the right to pursue happiness. We have to catch it ourselves. But how? That’s one of the Big Questions of Life. Like nailing jelly to the wall, finding happiness is an elusive goal. Plenty of well-meaning folks have tried to steer us in the right direction There’s the back-of-the-church-cookbook type of happiness recipe that, while awfully cutesy, still carries deep truths, especially the last sentence:

Recipe for Happiness 2 heaping cups of patience 1 heart, full of love 2 handfuls of generosity 1 quart of faith 1 handful of understanding A dash of laughter A generous sprinkle of kindness Combine patience, love and generosity with understanding. Add a dash of laughter and sprinkle generously with kindness. Add plenty of faith and mix well. Spread over a period of a lifetime. Serve everyone you meet. The Chinese see it slightly differently, but again, the final sentiment is the same: If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else. The Dalai Lama says the simplest way to be happy has only two ingredients: nine hours of sleep a night and a flexible mindset. Gandhi said three ingredients need to be in harmony for happiness to occur: what we think, what we say, and what we do. French novelist Gustave Flaubert thought three 32 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

very special ingredients were necessary: “To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.” Charles Dickens likened happiness to financial stability in his recipe from David Copperfield: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and sixpence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” Actress Ingrid Bergman’s two ingredients were good health and a bad memory. Even our pets are getting in on the happiness equations, according to BritishAmerican wordsmith Christopher Hitchens: “Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if y o u provide them with food and water and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are God.” An anonymous wag said that happiness was never counting your years or your glasses of wine. Another noted that “you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream, which is similar to happiness.” A third opined that “chocolate is the answer; who cares what the question is?” And a final woman revealed that “my mom always








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said that happiness is inside. A fridge, for example.” Orson Welles’ happy ingredients included lots of everything on his plate: “My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.” Hobbits had their own recipes for happiness, or so said J.R.R. Tolkien: “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” Old cowboys had a saying for maintaining their happiness: “Never argue with a mule, a skunk or a cook.” Excellent advice. They might kick or stink up the joint. Scientifically, some foods are rich in the chemical serotonin, which provides us with feelings of well being and joy. The happy foods include eggs, cheese, pineapples, tofu, salmon, turkey, beans, flaxseed oil, sardines, kiwis, bananas, tomatoes, plums, whole grains, nuts and seeds, so chomping down on these items could very well lift your spirits in more ways than just owning a full stomach. Almost as important as the ingredients you eat are the ingredients you don’t eat. Stay away from sweets and things like white bread and white rice, which make you feel good for a little while but then drop you into a deep hole of dissatisfaction. Try to control your coffee cravings, too: Caffeine suppresses serotonin production. (Other ways to boost serotonin include exercise, sunshine and positivity. Sounds like the 1960s all over again.) Sharing stories and meals and genes is how families come together, and if your family life is happy, you probably will be too. Just remember what George Burns always said: “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” Amen and please pass the gravy.




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Reflections By Pat Christman

34 • february 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


t’s hard to go outside this time of year. The view outside the window makes it seem like you’re inside the snow globe as someone shakes it. The wind drives icy crystals into your face like a thousand needle pricks. Each step is an adventure in staying upright. The storm can’t rage forever. Days are already getting longer. The march of the seasons continues on, though it may not seem like it. Soon someone will stop shaking the snow globe outside and the ice will melt. Until then, find someplace warm and watch the snow fall outside the window. MM

MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2017 • 35




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Falcons of

BridgeWater Story by Cliff Coy


s legend has it there once was a king who spent his nights eating and drinking with his ministers. Because of this he ended up neglecting his people. He had a hunting falcon and her name was Shahbaz. One night while

she was out hunting with the king for the food for his nightly feast the falcon saw a man who was being chased by thieves. Shahbaz felt compassion for this man and chased away the thieves and protected him against a mountain

38 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2017 • Special Advertising Section

lion that night. After the fight she returned to the king without her nightly catch. The king was furious and decided to try again the following night. When Shahbaz was released for the hunt that night she saw the same man

and this time he was lost, so she gave him water, captured food for him, and started a fire with her beak. When she returned to the king he was again furious. But she told him her tale of watching over this man and the king

decided to change his ways. He became a Royal Falcon Trainer and his flock of falcons that watched over and cared for his people were named after the original Shahbaz. It is with this principle that The

Green House Project was born. Green House homes are a new way to think about elder care. The homes themselves are much more like a typical house instead of the larger care centers that resemble hospitals that we are used to

Special Advertising Section • February 2017 • Living 55 PLUS • 39

in the area. And the houses and staff are made to conform to the schedules and lifestyles of the residents living in them instead of the other way around like most traditional homes. One such Green House home is coming to the area and is currently under construction in Janesville. The BridgeWater home will have two independent floors for residents to live on with a maximum of twelve residents per floor. Each floor will have their own teams of healthcare professionals as well as staff members and will be manned with eight hour shifts 24/7.

BridgeWater Janesville is scheduled to open in late April The homes even have their own teams of Shahbaz, these people are universal healthcare employees and are responsible for the cooking, cleaning, laundry, activities and any other functions inside of the homes that are not skilled nursing care. “The Shahbaz really get to know the elders really close by providing all of those different services,” said Brooke Olson the Director of Operations for BridgeWater. So they have the ability to see if there are any changes in behavior

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of the residents that might be a trigger of something wrong. As well as Shahbaz, they also employ skilled nurses that are there to take care of any medical needs the residents have. “We will primarily be working with elders who are at a higher need for care, said Brooke. “So it could be someone who needs help with medication management and administration, dressing, grooming, feeding, diabetics. Pretty high care and that is what takes us into the skilled nursing piece which is typically until end of life care. So we can do everything from the higher assisted living, memory care all the way to end of life care.” When you walk into the home you will see that it is very much designed like a home. The architectural layout had to follow the Green House Projects guidelines as well as get signed off by them before it could be built. When you walk inside there are twelve suites that are on the perimeter of the building and the inside part of the house is like a regular home with a hearth area. It includes an open dining room where

“If somebody pulls an alarm chord or pushes a button it rings to a smartphone that all of our staff carry on them that tells them the specific details about who needs help in what room,” said Brooke. “Same thing goes with our fall pads, so if someone is prone to falling they have an alarm pad underneath them so when they start moving it will alert the phone, this way there is no loud alarm that goes off that may startle them into actually falling.” “There is much more attention to each individual elder with this method and focuses more on their specific

everyone sits together for meals including the staff, an open kitchen that isn’t closed off at night so the elders can watch all the food being made, or they can participate in the making of the food if it’s safe and sanitary to do so. There is also a sun room, whirlpool, and a salon. “Nothing looks like it’s a business or nursing or care facility, it’s very much home like,” said Brooke. “The only difference is that the house will be locked at all times to ensure that those elders with memory care needs can’t just up and leave. But those that don’t have memory care needs will be given a private code or fob to come and go as they please, whereas the memory care folks would not have that so that they remain safe and secure in the home.” Facilities like BridgeWater are a lot more calm and quiet than other higher living care facilities. When you walk in you may be shocked to find how quiet it is, especially if it is not around an activity or meal time. It is that way because the facilities don’t have alarms that go off.

needs instead of generalizing them. I think it’s important to tailor things to their needs so they still feel important and not forgotten,” said Emily Brekke, the Housing Manager of BridgeWater Janesville. “I think it’s important, our elders are huge contributors to our society and I think it’s important to offer them the best care available. I think that this model does that, it brings in meaningful relationships and just makes their days as bright as they can be.”

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42 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2017 • Special Advertising Section

Top 5 Retirement Tips Story by Cliff Coy


etirement is something that a lot of don’t start thinking about until it comes up on us. Ideally you should start saving for retirement in your 20’s, even if it’s just a little bit. The sooner you start off, the better you will be when the time comes to calculate everything you’ve saved. But what do you do when you are starting to get close to the age of retirement? Tamera Phillips, owner of Midwest Insurance Group in Mankato has a list of things that she thinks is important for you to be thinking of once you turn 55. “One of the most important things you can do while heading towards retirement,” said Tamera. “Whether it’s 55, 59, 62 start thinking about a date that you really don’t want to be at the employment that you have been at for a long period of time. Give yourself at least two years to do the research. One of the biggest things you can do for yourselves is the research.”

1. Healthcare costs

The biggest concern for most folks within reach of their retirement age should be there healthcare costs. For numerous reasons, first of all you have premiums and fixed expenses, you have medical procedures. These things include things like physical therapy, cost of Medicare, prescription drugs, choosing the right supplement. Your plan is to reduce any unexpected or out of pocket costs once you get to a point where you don’t have the ability to go out and earn an income. There are so many rules when it comes to getting situated with Medicare. You have to apply, whereas years ago it used to kind of be automatic. You worked your 40 quarters and your social security number was in the system, they’d send you a letter asking if you wanted both Part A and Part B of Medicare about 6 weeks before your 65th birthday. Over the years you’ve been able to file and suspend and change some things about your social security and as to when you take it. Special Advertising Section • February 2017 • Living 55 PLUS • 43

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44 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2017 • Special Advertising Section

Now people have to file and apply for Medicare when they turn 65 which is their healthcare costs. The rules change quite frequently but right now you have to have had credible coverage when you leave your employer coverage to go onto Medicare. You get a guaranteed open enrollment period when you go on Medicare and there are so many options out there. Anything you have learned about healthcare before the age 65 changes once you retire. Seek out someone who is experienced and has some education with Medicare because you can get a lot of information

2. Retirement income

The second most important thing in my opinion would be your income. What are you going to live off of? There are so many different people with so many extremes, all the way from qualifying for medical assistance to not having money woes what so ever. But even not having any money woes what so ever does not mean that they don’t pay income taxes. There are a couple of goals that I like talking about when we are talking about retirement. One of the goals is to help our clients get into a position where they are actually paying the least amount of taxes possible, legally. You can do a number of things with annuities and when you actually do the planning and the math you can come out ahead. Life insurance is one of the greatest tools there is to reduce, eliminate or transfer the money tax free or deferred. Retirement income, where is it coming from, how long will it last? Find out what your expected social security check is going to be, you have to get educated. You need to find out what you have all got. It’s time to start gathering your stuff. Get your information together as if you were making a list of all the things you were leaving to somebody. Be diligent in finding out just exactly what you will have available to you.

3. Taxes

The third thing you are looking at is taxes. Taxes can come back and bite you in the butt later. So you are looking for tax deferred, tax free or transferable, stretch IRA’s. There are all sorts of different things. So that is really important.

Making some good decisions so that you don’t outlive your resources, it’s really hard. If you look at your life right now and a lot of people live paycheck to paycheck. Some people are fortunate where they have a savings account that is earning them almost no interest what so ever, but it’s like a revolving door so they can get at it when they want. During your career you put into that golden future by investing well and saving smart, making decisions. You’ve worked those 40 quarters and now you get to draw. So when you get to that point you can start looking at safety and growth and how to protect everything you’ve put into that golden box.

5. Get your ducks in a row

The very last thing about retirement is that you need to get your ducks in a row. Because if you haven’t done that by the time you retire, it needs to be the first thing on your list. It’s what you need to know when you no longer go to that paying job. Sit down, meet with an attorney and get your will taken care of because if you have a sudden change in health or end up going a different direction than what you planned, getting your healthcare directive, your power of attorney, your living will and then sitting down and putting on paper where you want everything that you have worked so hard to go to, it’s so important. There is a list of things to do, write letters to the kids, put together the photo albums. There are so many things that are non-monetary. But when it comes to business succession planning or say that you are a farm family and you want to make sure the farm goes to the right person, there are many things that need to be looked at and you will probably need the help of an attorney to do it. “When you are looking at ending your years of working think of all the money and effort you have put into a degree and a career and applying for better positions or changing careers,” said Tamera. “And you get to the point when you want to retire. It’s the greatest time in the world and you are looking back with pride on all the things you’ve accomplished. And yet you have to make decisions based on what you’ve done to that point.”

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24/7 Helpline 800.272.3900 Special Advertising Section • February 2017 • Living 55 PLUS • 45

Power of attorney protects loved ones L

ife is full of the unexpected. But just because the future is unpredictable does not mean adults cannot prepare for what lies ahead. Estate planning is important, and establishing power of attorney can be essential for men and women looking to protect their financial resources and other assets.

What is power of attorney?

A power of attorney, or POA, is a document that enables an individual to appoint a person or organization to manage his or her affairs should this individual become unable to do so. According to the National Caregivers Library, POA is granted to an “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” to give a person the legal authority to make decisions for an incapacitated “principal.” The laws for creating a power of attorney vary depending on where a person lives, but there are some general similarities regardless of geography. 46 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2017 • Special Advertising Section

Why is power of attorney needed?

Many people believe their families will be able to step in if an event occurs that leaves them incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves. Unfortunately, this is not always true. If a person is not named as an agent or granted legal access to financial, medical and other pertinent information, family members’ hands may be tied. In addition, the government may appoint someone to make certain decisions for an individual if no POA is named. Just about everyone can benefit from establishing an attorney-in-fact. Doing so does not mean men and women cannot live independently, but it will remove the legal barriers involved should a person no longer be physically or mentally capable of managing certain tasks.

Power of attorney varies

Power of attorney is a broad term that covers various aspects of decisionmaking. According to the legal resource ‘Lectric Law Library, the main types of POA include general power of attorney, health care power of attorney, durable power of attorney, and special power of attorney. Many of the responsibilities overlap, but there are some subtle legal differences. Durable power of attorney, for example, relates to all the appointments involved in general, special and health care powers of attorney being made “durable.” This means the document will remain in effect or take effect if a person becomes mentally incompetent. Certain powers of attorney may fall within a certain time period.

What is covered?

An agent appointed through POA may be able to handle the following, or more, depending on the verbiage of the document: n banking transactions n buying/selling property n settling claims n filing tax returns n managing government-supplied benefits n maintaining business interests n making estate-planning decisions n deciding on medical treatments n selling personal property n fulfilling advanced health care directives

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700 Agency Trail, Mankato Special Advertising Section • February 2017 • Living 55 PLUS • 47

Understanding dementia a key to compassionate care


lzheimer’s disease is one of the more prominent forms of dementia, but there are many additional types of dementia that also can cause both physical and cognitive alterations. Understanding the complexity of dementia can be beneficial to both dementia sufferers and their caregivers. Dementia is a general term used to define a decline in mental ability severe enough that it can interfere with daily life, offers the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.

Dementia is not a disease but a term used to describe a wide range of symptoms. The words “senility” and “dementia” often are incorrectly used interchangeably. However, serious mental decline is not a normal part of aging. Dementia presents itself through various symptoms, and memory loss alone is not enough to lead to a dementia diagnosis. Dementia can affect thinking and social abilities, but the Mayo Clinic notes that some dementias may be reversible. The following are some common symptoms of dementia:

48 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2017 • Special Advertising Section

n Trouble communicating or finding words. n Difficulty completing complex tasks. n Challenges with planning and organization. n Episodes of confusion and disorientation. n Memory loss, which is often noticed by a third party. n Personality changes that can include

Apart from Alzheimer’s disease, which is a progressive disorder most common in people age 65 and older, there are other types of dementia. The second most common is called “vascular dementia.” This results from damage to vessels that supply blood to the brain. This damage can be the result of stroke, smoking and other blood vessel conditions. Brain imaging can often detect blood vessel problems implicated in vascular dementia. Dementia with Lewy bodies, or DLB, is another dementia that laymen may mistake for Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that people with DLB often have not only memory loss and cognitive problems common in Alzheimer’s, but they also display initial or early symptoms such as sleep disturbances, well-formed visual hallucinations, slowness, gait imbalance or other Parkinsonian movement features, which can lead to misdiagnosis. If physicians suspect dementia was caused by various factors, a person may be diagnosed with mixed dementia. Unfortunately, there are no cures for progressive dementias that are linked to plaque tangles in the brain and changes in the way the brain processes the protein alpha-synuclein. Patience and various medications may be needed to help those with dementia live fuller lives. Cholinesterase inhibitors are mainstays in dementia treatment. These medications prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger important for learning and memory. Acetylcholine supports communication among nerve cells by keeping acetylcholine levels high. Physical therapy and cognitive therapy may be used in conjunction with medication to assist those with various dementias. Helping individuals with dementia remain comfortable is a priority for caregivers, and understanding the symptoms and treatments can help caregivers make patients and loved ones as comfortable as possible.

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543 Oakwood Drive, Janesville, MN 56048 Special Advertising Section • February 2017 • Living 55 PLUS • 49


Options when paying for long-term care

ging has its side effects, as it’s inevitable that individuals’ bodies and minds will change as they approach their golden years. Illnesses, disabilities and other conditions may speed up the changes in certain individuals. While many seniors continue to live independently well into their golden years, some require long-term care. The decision to move an elderly relative into a long-term care facility can be difficult. In addition to the emotional effects of such a decision, families must deal with the financial repercussions. Long-term care services can be costly, and many general 50 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2017 • Special Advertising Section

healthcare insurance plans do not cover long-term care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers that an assisted living facility may cost roughly $3,300 per month for a one-bedroom unit, while a nursing home may cost between $6,200 and $6,900. Seniors or families who have enough income and savings may be able to pay for long-term care services without assistance. But those who cannot afford to do so may need to utilize different programs or resources to pay for long-term care.

n Long-term care insurance: According to WebMD, commercial insurers offer private policies referred to as long-term care insurance. These policies may cover services such as care at home, adult day care, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. However, plans vary widely. In addition, the cost for care and eligibility requirements may change as a person ages, so it’s best to purchase this insurance while young and relatively healthy. n Government assistance: Government health programs may pay for a portion of certain care but not all of the services offered by long-term care facilities. For example, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association says government health care programs may cover only a small percentage of the costs for nursing homes or other specialized residential care facilities, or perhaps none at all depending on the circumstances. In the United States, Medicare is the Federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older and for some people younger than 65 who are disabled. Medicare generally does not pay for long-term help with daily activities. Medicare pays for very limited skilled nursing home care after a hospital stay, but not for many assisted living facilities. Medicaid is another option that pays for health services and long-term care for low-income people of any age. First, applicants must determine their eligibility for Medicaid. Medicaid is typically only available after most personal assets have been depleted. Even with Medicaid, a resident of a long-term care facility may need to pay a portion of the care out of pocket. What’s more, as part of the application for Medicaid, a “look back” at assets is required to deter gifting assets in order to qualify. Paying for long-term care requires planning well in advance of when such services may be needed.

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Source: Metro Creative Connection Special Advertising Section • February 2017 • Living 55 PLUS • 51

Senior living options abound S

enior living communities often present an affordable and comfortable option for adults over the age of 55. Filled with like-minded and similarly aged residents, these communities can be the right fit for individuals no longer interested in or capable of taking care of a larger home. Senior communities are located all across the country. Finding one that meets your needs takes only a little research. Although they are often moderately priced and offer a variety of amenities, senior living communities sometimes suffer from a bad reputation. But such communities are not the “old age homes” that some people purport them to be. Rather, they’re entire living neighborhoods that cater to the needs of an active resident base. These communities can range from independent living private homes or condos to managed care facilities. Residents may be able to enjoy organized outings, recreation, shopping, and socialization without having to venture far from property grounds. Some communities offer food services or an on-site restaurant. Fifty-five and older communities offer conveniences that many find irresistible. They’re frequently located close to shopping, dining and healthcare providers. Taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance expenses may be covered in one fee. Clubhouses, golf courses, lakes, card rooms, and many other offerings are designed to appeal to residents of many ages. Now that baby boomers have reached the age where retirement communities are a consideration, there has been an influx of interest. Those considering a move to one of these communities should research some information before purchasing a unit.

n Determine the fees associated with a community. Can Medicaid or long-term care insurance pay for all or a portion of the fees? Which types of services does the monthly fee cover? 52 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2017 • Special Advertising Section

n Who is eligible to live in the community? Some restrict all residents to a particular age, while others do not. Rules may be in effect that include an age cut-off limit. n Investigate the types of residents and who would be your immediate neighbors. What percentage of people live in the community all year long, and how many are part-time residents? n Look into the particular home owner’s association rules. Bylaws may indicate that the property must be kept in a certain manner. You may not be able to paint exterior items a certain color, nor put up fencing or set up outdoor patio furniture. Get the details before you sign anything. n Is this the type of community where you can age in place? Meaning, are there separate accommodations if you eventually need assisted living care? Some communities offer living options that vary depending on residents’ ages. n Be sure there are activities or amenities that appeal to you. You eventually want to find your niche and get together with a group of friends who share the same interests. n You may want to find a community close to your children or other relatives. This way you will not have to travel far to visit others, and they will be able to visit you easily in return. n Some communities are gated, which can increase feelings of safety. If this is a priority, look for housing under security. Following these guidelines can mean discovering a community where anyone can feel comfortable for years to come.

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pon retiring, many seniors downsize to all-inclusive independent living communities. These communities provide all various amenities without asking seniors to negotiate the obstacles of traditional home ownership. Although senior living apartments or condominiums often may great living arrangements, all-inclusive properties tend to cost more money than standard apartments. Interested parties may experience a bit of sticker shock initially before looking for ways to finance their new living arrangements. n Long-term care insurance: Individuals who plan ahead can invest in long-term care insurance. This insurance may be able to cover the costs of some housing facilities, or help finance outside private caregiver assistance.

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n Life insurance policies: Some insurance policies can be cashed in for a percentage of their face value. This money can then be used to offset the costs of senior housing. n Home sale profit: Many seniors sell their homes and pay for new living situations with the return on those sales. Bridge loans can help as seniors wait for their homes to be sold. n Line of credit: A loan system called an “Elderlife Line of Credit,” enables multiple family members or friends to share the cost of paying for eldercare. n New location: Finding a community in locations with more manageable cost of living expenses may be the best way to maintain your standard of living without breaking the bank.

Source: Metro Creative Connection

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• February 2017 • Living 55 PLUS • 53

Physical, Occupational & Speech

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Kentucky Blue Grass, Bourbon, Music & Noah’s Ark Tour!


Heart disease can affect just about anyone. While it was once widely and mistakenly considered a man’s disease, since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease. According to the Harvard Medical School, heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over age 65, just as it’s the leading killer of men. Myths abound with regard to heart disease and heart attack risk. One such myth that prevails is that a person who has heart disease should avoid all exercise. However, cardiologists advise that physical activity can help to strengthen the heart, which will improve blood flow to the brain and internal organs. Those who want to exercise should speak with their doctors about which types of exercise are right for them. In the interim, begin with some low-intensity walking, as this is usually a safe, low-impact way to improve personal health.

Join the Saints Club on a seven-day motor coach tour to Kentucky for some wonderful sight-seeing, music, racetrack tours, bourbon and then Noah’s Ark! This tour includes a tour at the Churchill Downs Racetrack, Kentucky Derby Museum, Bardstown’s Civil War Museum & the Museum of Whiskey History, Lincoln’s boyhood home, the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, a fun musical bluegrass show, one of Lexington’s thoroughbred horse farms, and the new Ark Encounterfeaturing a full sized replica of Noah’s Ark! Flyers are available in the bank lobby, and we will have a travel show presentation February 16th at the Legion in St. Peter. Call us at 931-3310 for more information!

Upcoming Events:

“Mamma Mia!” @ Orpheum Theatre

March 16 “Wife Begins at 40!” @ Daytrippers Dinner Theater

April 14 Travel Show on Great Canadian Cities

February 16 Valentine’s Day Social/Travel Show on Kentucky Tour @ Legion Club

March 30 “Apollo: Why We Went to the Moon!”, David Jones, Speaker

April 19 Kentucky Blue Grass, Bourbon, Music & Noah’s Ark (thru’ the 25th)

February 11

May 31 “Grease!” @Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

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Monarch Healthcare Management proudly offers both inpatient and outpatient speech, physical and occupational therapy at many of our locations. Check us out online to see how our wonderful team of therapists can help you feel your best! 54 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2017 • Special Advertising Section

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Special Advertising Section • February 2017 • Living 55 PLUS • 55

Then & Now: Laura Ingalls Wilder By: Bryce O. Stenzel

Little girl on the prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first book until she was 65. But her memories of her childhood — and her research — have provided legions of fans with literary enjoyment.


eloved children’s author Laura Ingalls Wilder was born on Thursday, Feb. 7, 1867 in Pepin, Wis. She was the second daughter (Laura’s older sister, Mary Amelia Ingalls was born on January 10, 1865) of Charles P. and Caroline (Quiner) Ingalls. The Civil War was only two years past when baby Laura was born in a cabin on the edge of the “Big Woods” in the Chippewa River valley region of Wisconsin, just a few miles from the Mississippi River. She was named Laura Elizabeth after Charles’ mother, Laura Louise Colby Ingalls. The young couple had moved to this remote agricultural region of western Wisconsin with Charles’ parents and the rest of his family five years earlier. In her first novel, “Little House in the Big Woods,” Laura herself turns five years old, when the real-life author had only been three during the events of the book. According to a letter from her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, to biographer William Anderson, the publisher had Laura change her age in the book because it seemed unrealistic for a 3-year-old to have specific memories as detailed as the ones she wrote about. For similar reasons, and for the sake of consistency in the continuation of the Ingalls family saga as described in “Little House on the Prairie,” Laura portrayed herself as 6-7 years old. Laura Ingalls would also be responsible for exaggerating the primitiveness of the place where she had been born. The first lines of “Little House in the Big Woods” describe her family’s cabin as virtually isolated, far from people and civilization. “As far as a man could go to the north in a day, or a week, or a whole month, there was nothing but woods,” she wrote, describing a place that had no houses, no roads, no people — just forest and the wild animals inhabiting it. Wolves, bears and other animals did pose some serious dangers to the settlers, but as pioneer farmers carved out clearings in the woods and planted their crops of wheat (the primary cash crop of this time), the wild animals lost their habitat

56 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

and dwindled away in significant numbers — no longer serving as a major threat to the advancement of “civilization.” At the same time, lumbermen were floating their logs down the Chippewa River into Beef Slough at its mouth where it connected with the Mississippi on the eastern edge of the county. In 1869, Charles Ingalls (characterized by his daughter as always possessing a bit of wanderlust, and a desire to see what was over the next hill) decided to move his family from Pepin to the banks of the Verdigris River, near the new town of Independence, Kansas. This became the setting for “Little House on the Prairie.” Many of the incidents in the book were actual situations that happened to the Ingalls family, as told to Laura by her father, mother and older sister. Because Laura was, in fact, 2 to 3½ years old while her family lived in “Indian Territory” (in actuality, it was the “Osage Diminished Reserve”) during 1869–1870, and did not remember the incidents herself, Laura did more historical research on this novel than on any other novel she wrote in an attempt to have all details as correct as possible. For example, the first African-American man Laura ever met was Dr. George Tann, who worked among the Osage Indians, on whose land the Ingalls family settled — illegally, as it turned out. It was Dr. Tann who treated the entire Ingalls family when they were struck with malaria, which was carried by mosquitoes that thrived along the creek and river bottoms where they settled. Another example of Laura’s attention to historical detail was in her description of Soldat du Chene, the Osage leader responsible for convincing his people not to fight the white settlers who were encroaching on their tribal lands. Instead, Soldat du Chene and his followers left their camps and moved south into present-day Oklahoma, avoiding a violent confrontation.

The incident was vividly recalled in the novel as general and, in particular, being “massacred” on the Laura and her family watched the long line of Osage frontier. On their journey across Minnesota, the Indians ride past their log house on their way out. family actually came across several shells of buildings Shortly afterwards, Laura and her family were forced and other reminders of the bloody “Sioux Uprising.” by the United States Army to move elsewhere. The These “Indian disturbances” of 1862 had driven out land they settled on still legally belonged to the the first white settler in the area around the future Osage. Why they settled there in the first place is not Walnut Station — a man named Brown. He had clearly explained in Laura’s novel, but she left little arrived a year earlier and squatted south of town near doubt who her family blamed for their misfortune: a grove of walnut trees straddling Plum Creek. the ineptitude of the U.S. government in not making Surveyors came through several years later, pitching clear where the land boundaries actually were. In their tents in the grove and marking off the townships reality, this may or may not have been a fair assessment around them. The first permanent settler, a Norwegian of the situation, but it made for a good story, which immigrant named Eleck Nelson, arrived with his was Laura’s primary motivation in recounting it. wife, Alena, in 1870 and commenced farming. Laura’s family returned to Pepin in 1871, a year after This Lutheran family, which eventually included Laura’s sister, Carrie, was born. This return trip was seven children, was typical of the large Scandinavian not described in the books. Rather, the reader was left element that settled the region. It was here where with the impression that after Laura’s self-awareness began to leaving Kansas, the Ingalls family blossom. She vividly described her Dugout site, headed immediately north to life in a dugout, playing along Plum Walnut Grove, MN Minnesota, where they settled “On Creek, going to school in town, and the Banks of Plum Creek,” her family’s struggle to overcome (published in 1937) near the the forces of nature — particularly fledgling settlement of Walnut the Rocky Mountain locust plagues Station (later renamed Walnut of 1874-1875. Grove) in southwestern Redwood Caroline Ingalls gave birth to the County. couple’s only son, Charles Frederick In reality, the Ingalls family did or “Freddie,” in November of 1875. not move to the Walnut Grove area He died nine months later. The until the spring of 1874, arriving there only several Ingalls family sold its farm in July of 1876 and moved months after the townsite was platted and trains to Burr Oak, Iowa, where their fourth child, Grace, began servicing the community in October of the was born in 1877. Charles and Caroline Ingalls previous year. Laura saw her first train on the 200managed a hotel (Masters) in Burr Oak for a short mile trek her parents made by covered wagon from time before moving back to Walnut Grove in 1878. Pepin to a point near its western terminus at Tracy. They did not return to the farm but lived in town. The Winona and St. Peter Railroad was a branch of Mary contracted scarlet fever at this time, leaving the Chicago and North Western system, with its her blind. Laura described riding the rails from headquarters in the “Windy City.” The extension of Walnut Grove to Tracy in order to meet her father, its tracks west through Mankato (1868) and New Ulm who had taken a job as a railroad timekeeper. The had led to the quick establishment of communities Ingalls family left Minnesota for De Smet in the platted around the depots, which were set down Dakota Territory in 1879. every 8-12 miles or so. Modern U.S. Highway 14 parallels their route west. New towns appeared at places such as Lamberton, In 1995, U.S. 14 was designated the Laura Ingalls Walnut Station, and Tracy before the route turned to Wilder Historic Highway from Mankato to Lake the northwest toward Marshall and ultimately to Lake Benton. Since then, this Historic Highway has been Kampeska in Dakota Territory. The Ingalls family was extended into South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. in the vanguard of settlement — a feat that would be De Smet became the locale for the remaining replicated again in 1879, when the family left Walnut books in the “Little House” series: “By the Shores of Grove for De Smet in Dakota Territory, once again Silver Lake” (1939), “The Long Winter” (1940), “Little following the railroad west to the end of the line. Town on the Prairie” (1941), and “These Happy In the “Little House on the Prairie” television series Golden Years” (1943). that aired from 1974 to 1982, both Sleepy Eye and In 1885, Laura Ingalls married Almanzo Wilder. A Mankato were trading towns that the citizens of year later, their daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, was Walnut Grove visited. However, Mankato, in born. In 1894, Laura, Almanzo, and Rose moved from particular, does not appear in the Laura Ingalls De Smet to Mansfield, Missouri, where Laura and Wilder books. It is not known for certain whether the Almanzo spent their remaining years at Rocky Ridge family spent any time in Mankato. Farm. He died in 1949, and she died in 1957. Because of its importance as a trading town, Surprisingly, although she wrote articles for local however, it is possible that they may have stopped farm magazines, Laura did not publish her first book there for supplies before continuing on their journey until she was 65. It was the warm reception that “Little west. The real significance of Mankato to the Ingalls House in the Big Woods” received from her fans, as family was indirect; it was the site of the largest masswell as the encouragement of her daughter Rose, an execution in U.S. history, when 38 Dakota warriors accomplished writer in her own right, that encouraged were hanged as punishment for their involvement in Laura to continue turning her childhood memories the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. This secured the frontier. into books that have stood the test of time being From their earlier experience with the Osage tribe loved by generations of children, as well as adults, the in Kansas, Caroline Ingalls was fearful of Indians in world over. MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 57


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Jean Lundquist is a master gardener who lives near Good Thunder.

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St. Peter MANKATO MAGAZINE • )(%58$5< • 61

Your style By Ann Rosenquist Fee

It’s LOVE month! L

Let’s smell like it.

et’s own up to the fact that you haven’t changed your Cuddl Duds ® or Under Armours ® or whatever it is, your favored winterfoundational garment, in days. And you’re not going to. I mean, why. If it’s not freezing right now, it’s going to be. You’d only take off your clothes to wash them, and if you get started with laundry, eventually it’ll be late and you’ll have to go down into a cold basement to throw the wet stuff into

62 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

the dryer and who needs fresh armpits at a cost like that. You can feel just fine about this with one key mindshift. You can actively choose, guilt-free, to spend the back half of winter encased in layers if you’ll go ahead and embrace it as an opportunity to experiment with fragrance. “Fragrance” is a delightful way to put it. Right now you stink. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’ll

go ahead and experiment within the intense laboratory-like environment you’ve created from your neck down as protection from the cold, then come summer — by the time other people can smell you as well — you’ll know what works. Do you try pure essential oils versus a lab-concocted thing in an overdressed bottle? Guess what. It’s up to you. Plant-based fragrances, of course, are where the art form began. But not all plant-based oils agree with human skin, and not all synthetic fragrances are bad for it. So says writer April Long in the December 2016 ELLE Magazine: “Only recently — somewhat ironically, in these green-minded times — a new generation of perfumers have become outspoken in their use of and appreciation for synthetics … There are bad synthetics and there are good synthetics, just as there are good naturals and bad naturals. It’s all about how they’re used.” Philosophically speaking, ELLE notes, some perfumers consider synthetics essential to artistry. Raymond Matts, who teaches fragrance courses at New York’s Pratt Institute, finds it “...more interesting to create gardenia without gardenia. It’s like the Impressionists, who wanted to paint the emotion of being in nature. It’s the job of the perfumer to give the feeling of nature without the presence of nature.” So whether you shop the Health & Beauty aisle at the St. Peter Food Co-Op and Deli, or from the perfume bank at Ulta, you’re on pretty much equal allergenic and aesthetic ground. Choose the first scent that evokes emotion. I’m serious about that. Don’t just buy what smells good. They all smell good, in some way, or they wouldn’t have made it this far. Go with the first one that aligns so well with your particular olfactory sense

KatieRegan & Kevin Regan Katie & Kevin Real Estate Team Real Estate Team

that it brings up memories you can’t remember, but need to remember but might never remember, but still feel the need because the smell/swell of emotion is so amazing, which is what keeps you buying the stuff. Based on nothing except my own affection for neroli oil, I posit that this is what’s going on, always, when a person has a signature scent. They REAL ESTATE REAL ESTATE wear it because they love it, l-o-v-e TEAM TEAM it, and they love it because it lines up with the most primal piece of their personal physiology, so primal that the smell-wearer might never be able to figure out what’s going on — which is mystery on top of mystery because what even IS smell? — which, you can begin to see how all this serves as a distraction from winter. Not to mention how it turns the petri dish of your undershirt into something divine. Possible, though, that you’ll want a complete break from the layers in order to be totally scientific about this, and begin from relative smellneutrality. For this, I suggest the bath bomb. Specifically a bath bomb from the line recently created by awardwinning playwright and singersongwriter Joe Tougas. “Hot baths are meditation,” Tougas says. “The darkness, the music, the Scotch … I’ve been a longtime fan. Last fall, I met some people who made bath bombs. The term sounded precisely like what I needed to enhance the ritual a bit. And making them sounded enjoyable. When they’re in progress they have the consistency of wet sand, so it’s like revenge-of-the-sandcastles if you do it right.” “I’ve found myself getting quite excited when it all works out, when the purple, frankincense-infused sphere holds its shape,” Tougas adds. “It’s nothing I talk too much about because it’s rare anybody discusses frankincense anymore.” But Tougas does. And you’re welcome to join the conversation. Joe Tougas Bath Bombs are for sale at all performances of The Frye, listed at Hope to see/smell you there.

507.469.9683 507.469.9683

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Four Time National Award Winners 20765 Foley Rd., Mankato, MN | 507.387.2434 | 507.726.2411

Bathrooms Worth Bragging About

Ann Rosenquist Fee is executive director of the Arts Center of Saint Peter and a vocalist with The Frye. She blogs at

219 S Victory Dr | Mankato 507 | 345 | 7009

Hours: Tue & Wed & Fri | 9 am to 6 pm Mon & Thu | 9 am to 7 pm Saturday | 9 am to 4 pm

MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 63

Coming Attractions: February 1-5 MSU Theatre: ‘The Glass Menagerie’

7:30 p.m., 1-5, 2 p.m. 4-5 — Andreas Theater — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $16 regular, $14 discount, $11 current MSU students — 507-381-6661

3-5, 10-11

BLC Theater: ‘The Music Man’ 7:30 p.m., 3,4,10 and 11, 2 p.m., 5 and 11 — Lee Theater — Ylvisaker Fine Arts Center — Bethany Lutheran College — Mankato — $10 — 507-344-7374.


Dancing with the Mankato Stars 7 p.m. — Verizon Wireless Center —1 Civic Center Plaza — Mankato — $15 regular, $25 VIP, $1000 corporate tables — www.


11 Gustavus Choir’s 2017 Home Concert

Twin Cities Hot Club 7:30 p.m. — Elias J. Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $12 general admission, $11 current MSU students —

7:30 p.m. — Elias J. Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $15 general admission, $13 current MSU students —

16 Bunny Just Piano Festival:

4 Jazz at the Kato: Charles Lazarus:

A Night in the Tropics 7 p.m. — Kato Ballroom — 200 Chestnut St. — Mankato — $50 reserved table seating, $25 adult general admission, $13.50 student general admission —


Saint Peter Choral Society ‘Hiawatha’s Wedding-Feast’ 2:30 p.m. — Bjorling Recital Hall — Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter — $8 in advance at Swedish Kontur, St. Peter, $10 at the door, free for students — 507-934-6176

7 Mumblin’ Drew and Liz Draper

7:30 p.m. — Elias J. Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $12 general admission, $11 current MSU students —

9 Scottie Miller Band

7:30 p.m. — Elias J. Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $12 general admission, $11 current MSU students —

64 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


New Music Recital 7 p.m. — Trinity Chapel — Bethany Lutheran College —

12 Nooky Jones Band

Bekesh Trio 3 p.m. — Chapel of the Christ — Martin Luther College — New Ulm — $10 general, $5 students and children —

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ 8 p.m., 17-18 and 2 p.m., 19 — Anderson Theatre — Gustavus Adolphus College — St. Peter — 507-933-7590

The Gustavus Wind Orchestra Concert 1:30 p.m. — Bjorling Recital hall — Gustavus Adolphus College — St. Peter — free — 507-933-7013

7:30 p.m. — Christ Chapel — Gustavus Adolphus College — St. Peter — free — 507-933-7013

4 Summit Avenue Music Series featuring the

17-19 Gustavus Theatre: ‘Sweeney Todd:

Davell Crawford 7:30 p.m. — Elias J. Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $15 general admission, $13 current MSU students —

19 Mankato Symphony Orchestra:

Symphonic Series: Far From Home 3 p.m. — Performing Arts Center — 1 Civic Center Plaza — Mankato — $35 adults, $5 students, free for children under 12 —

19 Bunny Just Piano Festival: Charles Asche

7:30 p.m. — Elias J. Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $12 general admission, $11 current MSU students —

16-18, 23-26

MSU Theatre: ‘The Game’s Afoot’ 7:30 p.m. 16-18 and 23-25, 2 p.m., 25-26 — Ted Paul Theatre — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $16 regular, $14 discount, $11 current MSU students — 507-381-6661



Winter Choral 3 p.m. — Elias J. Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $9 general admission, $7 current MSU and other (K-12) students —


Winter Choral (repeat concert) 7:30 p.m. — Elias J. Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $9 general admission, $7 current MSU and other (K-12) students —


Concert Bands 7:30 p.m. — Elias J. Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $9 general admission, $7 current MSU and other (K-12) students —

28 Let It Be: A Celebration of the Music of

The Beatles 7:30 p.m. — Performing Arts Center — 1 Civic Center Plaza — Mankato — $57, $47 and $32 —

Faces & Places: Photos By SPX Sports

Bells On Belgrade 1. MSU carolers Gary DuCharme, Emily Scinto, Gabe Sell, Amanda Mai, Andrew Anderson and Claire Clauson sing for the crowd on Belgrade. 2. Members of St. Paul’s Luthern Church portray the nativity scene. 3. Ellen Koenigs, Bernie Koenigs, Sydney Wojszynski, Hannah Cesario and Mary Anne Dundas entertain people with Christmas Carols at Bells on Belgrade in North Mankato. 4. Hanna Swancutt and Emily Wheeler hand out glow sticks in their festive outfits. 5. Hoyt Reichel picks out a prize after playing a game at Bells on Belgrade. 6. A horse-drawn wagon gave people rides during the event.







MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 65

Faces & Places: Photos By SPX Sports

GSR Fine Art Festival 1. Nathan Lough works on a piece during the festival for visitors to see. 2. Cynnthia Verbrugge (Kitsune Art Glass), displays her work. 3. Mary Solberg proudly stands with her stained glass artwork. 4. Amber Rahe paints on her latest work at the entrance of the art festival. 5. Linda Clayton, (Linda Clayton Fine Art), shows her vibrant work with Allie Causin. 6. The Leprechaun Pirates performed. 7. The Mary Guentzel Jazz Quartet performs a number for the crowd.




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66 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Faces & Places: Photos By SPX Sports

Kiwanis Holiday Lights 1. The center of the park was beautiful after a recent snowfall. 2. Snowflakes adorn the hillside at Sibley Park as real snowflakes fall. 3. A new locomotive was a big hit with the children this year. 4. New snowmen were one of many attractions to the park this year. 5. The ice sculpture was given a finishing touch with green Christmas lights. 6. Standing atop Sibley Park offers a breathtaking view through the pines.


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MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2017 • 67

From this Valley By Pete Steiner

The composer’s conduit, or ... Whose piano is that, anyway?


he lights dim, the full house at Halling Hall quiets. A door opens at the back of the stage, and the tall, slender figure of Dr. David Viscoli emerges to applause. Professorially (he is, after all, Professor of Piano at Minnesota State University), he explains that the seldom-performed Latin American music we are about to hear is something he was able to explore and rehearse during a sabbatical — including a trip to Cuba — a yearand-a-half earlier. Then he sits at the Steinway concert grand, takes a moment to focus, and begins playing. His fingers glide and fly up and down the keyboard. The program concludes with a dauntingly difficult sonata by Alberto Ginastera, which prompts even a fellow concert pianist in the audience to declare afterward, “that was quite impressive.” The audience offers a standing ovation. •••• While I knew who Viscoli was, I had never met him prior to last summer’s Bier on Belgrade festival. I was guestbartending, and MSU Professor Dave Engen, whom I’ve quoted in this space regarding his theories of “third-places” (think Wagon Wheel, the Circle Inn, Mutch Hardware), greeted me and asked if I knew his friend, Viscoli. I began laughing, and asked if he knew anything about a piano rumored to have belonged to legendary composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff. Call me “Nerd-Boy,” but suddenly Viscoli and I were avidly discussing the virtues of moody Russian music while sipping craft beer to a blues band cranking in the background. •••• We’re fortunate to have several 68 • February 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

piano virtuosos residing and performing regularly right here in River City. Viscoli, encouraged by his mother and grandmother (who practiced with him DAILY), began playing at three. Early on, his teachers recognized his exceptional skill, so it was off to Interlochen Arts Academy, then a performance degree from UT-Austin, and finally a doctorate at University of Southern California. While there he heard about a special piano: it had allegedly belonged to Rachmaninoff, himself a keyboard virtuoso. Russian to the core, Sergei had nevertheless died in Beverly Hills in his 70th year in 1943. At his death, he personally owned two nine-foot Steinway concert grands and a smaller, seven-foot “Steinway B.” They had all been auctioned off; the pianist who had bought the “B” had eventually sold it to one of his students, whom David subsequently met at USC. And now it was being sold again. Irresistible for anyone really serious about playing piano. •••• I’ve asked David Viscoli if we can do a formal interview, and he agrees. We discuss why he prefers teaching to full-time concertizing, which is portrayed as so glamorous — think Horowitz or Rubinstein or Van Cliburn: “What I appreciate is, I can teach what I love, but I can ALSO concertize. I like the balance. If you only concertize, you play the same pieces over and over. You’re always on the road. It’s hard on the family.”

Thus, he had 19 students at MSU last semester, but he still performs enough to stay satisfied. Besides the Latin American concert on campus, he recently had a chance to perform Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto with the national symphony of Panama. He says it typically takes up to a year to prepare a major piece, but if it’s memorized, it might be eighteen months. Then I get a pleasant surprise: “Would you like to hear something?” Of course! He leads me into his small studio. And there it is — a brown, seven-foot Steinway, not the traditional black. And the legs are ornate, in the “Empire” style. The white keys are slightly yellowed from age. “That’s not...?” I ask, stopping midsentence. He smiles and shrugs. “It has a very warm sound — original sound board — especially in the middle range.” He explains, every piano has a unique sound. He offers me a comfortable chair, and goes to the piano. He sits down and focuses for a moment. Then he commences with a Rachmaninoff piece, “Etude-Tableau,” inspired by the sea and the seagulls. I hear the lush, rippling sounds, look at him, almost trance-like at the keyboard. “I do get into a zone,” is how he puts it. “I always aspire to be a conduit for the composer.” He doesn’t expect any performance to be flawless — “it’s very hard to be perfect, you get tense if you expect to be perfect.” I close my eyes, contemplating, this is how it might have been once for Royalty, a command performance. And I think, writing for Mankato Mag can be a sweet gig!

Peter Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE.


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People, Places, Lifestyles of the Minnesota River Valley

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People, Places, Lifestyles of the Minnesota River Valley