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Mankato Magazine

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FEATU RES MArch 2013 Volume 8, Issue 3




So, you want to do it yourself? Before diving into DIY, here’s some advice from those who’ve been there.

Distinct contributions Meet the YWCA’s 2013 Women of Distinction.


Inner beauty


Ann Fee on fashion

Tips and trends from interior decorating experts.

What’s hot for spring — is spring.

On the cover: Heidi Burns poses in the kitchen that she and her husband remodeled DIY-style. Photo by John Cross









6 From the Editor Home colors our sense of self 9 From the kitchen Healthy recipes for lent 10 Familiar Faces Wendy Schmidt, Creekside Boutique 12 The Gallery Becky Nastansky 18 Good Health Annual physical: Are there benefits? 32 Things to Do, Places to Go Events to check out in March 33 Happy Hour New squeeze 36 Garden Chat Seed money and spring promises 38 Get Out! Make your grandparents proud 40 That’s Life The death of the lively art 44 The Way It Is Paging through old yearbooks: Part 1

Coming up in the April issue of Mankato Magazine ... In March, we splurged on home improvement and spring fashion. But in April, we’ll start pinching pennies. We’ll hunt for some of the best bargains in town and we’ll delve into the dark arts of price haggling. But just in case you need a break from all this thrift, we’ve got some interesting diversions in store as well. Join us, and we’ll carpool all the way to May.

36 4 • MArch 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE



lawyers who partner with you For well over a century, Blethen, Gage and Krause has partnered with our clients to provide effective, practical solutions for their legal concerns. Our commitment to excellence and your legal needs is why our clients–large and small–continue to put their trust in our team.

Smart law. Bold decisions. 127 South Second Street, Mankato MN 56001 • 345-1166 • MANKATO MAGAZINE • MArch 2013 • 5

MANKATO magazine




James P. Santori Joe Spear Tanner Kent Nell Musolf Pete Steiner Jean Lunquist Marie Wood Ann Fee Sarah Zenk Blossom

John Cross Pat Christman Christina Sankey


David Habrat


Karla Marshall


Barb Wass


Sue Hammar Christina Sankey


Denise Zernechel

Mankato Magazine is published monthly at 418 South Second St., Mankato, MN., 56001. To subscribe, call 1-800-657-4662 or 507-625-4451. $19.95 for 12 issues. For editorial inquiries, call Tanner Kent at 344-6354, or e-mail For advertising, call 344-6336, or e-mail


From The Editor

By Joe Spear

Home colors our sense of self


he home improvement store parking lots in March are probably not a precise economic indicator for the Mankato region — but they at least give one a sense that dozens of denizens have awoken from their winter hiatus and have accepted the inevitability of spousal suggestions to attack the to-do list. Hence, we have another appropriate theme for our magazine with the aim of helping the spirit-is-willing, flesh-is-weak humble homeowner often haunted by the ghost of Tim Allen. Owning a home is still considered a major part of the American dream. But that is usually a function of economic circumstances or anticipated mobility. Once people are settled, they usually aim to buy a home. We associate a certain amount of freedom with owning a home but know that like all freedoms, it can extract a price. Homes can be as much expense as they are investments. Even when the housing market tumbles, home buying seems to always come back. The idea of home ownership has never really gone out of vogue in America. People also have emotional connections to their homes. The place they grew up. The tire swing hanging from the oak tree. The Thanksgiving touch football game traditions in the big backyard. We can find home ownership on the second rung of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy — the famous pyramid used to describe the American psychologist’s theory of innate human needs. “Property” is how Maslow describes this need on the second tier, but the way home ownership has evolved in modern American, it’s reasonable to suggest it is closer to the top tier of “selfactualization.” This is no more evident than in this month’s feature on interior decorating. Says interior decorator Katie Kaczmarek: “Thinking of colors with all of your senses is very important. I try to encourage people to look around at the environment and see what makes them who they are.” We become where we live. We tie our identity to that home, to its colors, among other things. Why else would we labor over Pantone’s appropriate colors for each season. A feature in this month’s magazine tells us: The “Pantone View

Home + Interiors” book showcases nine color palettes for 2013 from muted palettes to rainbow inspired colors “for bolder statements.” So about February we begin scanning home improvement magazines, and near the first day of spring we’ve checked out the home and builders show (this year March 22-24 at Verizon Center). You can’t talk about home without talking home furnishings, though our foray this month into that topic veers a bit into the unusual and nostalgic. It seems a staple of many a junior high student’s bedroom in the Mankato area includes the iconic foot pillow, adopted into high school home economics classrooms in Mankato decades ago. “Big Foot” numbers reach into the thousands, by an estimate of Pat Potzler, a former Mankato area schools teacher. “I think I helped make 6,000 of them. I counted them once,” Potzler says. “It’s a pillow, and it has the outline of a foot.” The 29-inch long Big Foot pillow first appeared in Mankato schools in the early 1970s and has remained a favorite “Home Ec” project since. Dakota Meadows teacher Lynda Mead tried to do away with the project one year deciding she wanted to change up the curriculum a bit. She found out the hell hath no furry like that aimed at one who would remove the Big Foot pillow project. There was such an uproar, the project was back and it remains in production today. So whether it’s Pantone’s latest muted palette or Mankato’s foot pillow, our identities are tied to our homes. M Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at 344-6382 or


Brochures Annual Reports Catalogs Magazines Posters Hard and Soft Cover Books Direct Mail and More!

March Almanac

This day in history March 7, 1893: Andrew Peterson, who lived in North Mankato and worked at Wheeler and Bennett’s brickyard, suffered an unfortunate accident when he called upon the home of Mr. Nels Johnson. While there, Johnson’s wife picked up a revolver on the table and pointed it at Peterson in a “playful manner,” according to the account given to The Free Press. When she told Peterson to put up his hands, the revolver discharged, the ball penetrating Peterson’s skull in front of his left ear. After Dr. Warner visited Peterson, he advised: “His death is only a question of a very short time.” March 8, 1907: The Free Press reported that Walter Johnson, 16, of Lafayette Township lost his memory while trying to save his sister. As the boy tried to prevent his sister from falling while riding on a load of straw, the pair tumbled to the ground. Johnson struck his head and lost consciousness. When he awoke, he could remember nothing of the incident, or much of the previous 16 years. Doctors suggested his memory would never return and that he would need to “begin his education anew.” March 13, 1930: During a school board meeting for Mankato schools, board member Ole Hansen took the occassion to criticize the district’s summer playground program, saying: “Just because some women want an afternoon off to play bridge is no reason the taxpayers should pay for the supervision of their children.” None on the board spoke in support of Hansen, while others countered his argument by pointing out the value of the YMCA and Boy Scouts. More than 600 students were enrolled in the program, which cost the district $1,200 at the time. March 14, 1905: The front page of The Free Press proclaimed that the “most damaging fire that has ever visited Mankato” started in the Glass Block building. Though no one died in the blaze, the fire caused upward of $150,000 in damages — the equivalent of almost $4 million today. The Glass Block department store was located at the corner of Jackson and Front streets. No one knew how the fire started, but some witnesses reported an explosion. A few nearby buildings caught fire but the flames were extinguished.

Thinking Inside The Box The Washington Post

There’s a subscription box for everything from beauty products to underwear, and fitness and nutrition essentials are no exception. Here are a few notable health-related finds:

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• KlutchClub is a subscription service that delivers health, fitness and wellness products with themes such as “detox” and “energy.” They typically include exercise DVDs, snacks, supplements and coupons, and run about $18 per month. • For people who want to “get huge,” Jacked Packs offer samples of protein powders, bars and supplements designed to help achieve that goal. Boxes come in options for various “meathead” levels, starting at $14.50 per month.

• PaleoPax delivers grain-, dairy- and legume-free snacks for people following the paleo diet. Boxes start at $18 a month and include five snacks, such as jerky, coconut oil or kelp noodles.




By Family Features

Healthy recipes for lent


ooking nutritious — and delicious — meatless meals for Lent has never been easier. Eating seafood at least twice a week can help protect against heart disease, according to USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To keep hearts healthy, the USDA recommends eating eight ounces of seafood per week, which is equivalent to two four-ounce servings. Here are ways you can add delicious, heart-healthy seafood to your diet: • Choose seafood such as Alaska pollock, cod, halibut, sole, King and Snow crab, black cod and salmon, which offer nutritional benefits such as heart-healthy omega-3s.

• Prepare seafood so it’s lean and flavorful by using healthy cooking methods such as grilling, roasting or baking, and skipping calorie- and fat-laden methods such as frying, breading, or by adding rich sauces. • Add flavor using spices and fresh or dried herbs as seasonings. • Serve seafood with healthful sides, such as whole grains, roasted vegetables and crisp greens.

Salmon Penne with Green Beans Vinaigrette Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Servings: 5 (2 cups each) 12 ounces whole wheat penne (or other pasta) 1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and halved Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 12 ounces Alaska salmon, fresh, thawed or frozen Salt and freshly ground black pepper Lemon wedges and sprigs of thyme, for garnish Cook pasta in boiling water for about 8 minutes, or according to package instructions, until al dente. Add green beans during the last 3 to 4 minutes of cooking time. Drain pasta and beans, reserving 3 tablespoons cooking liquid, then return pasta, beans and reserved liquid to pan. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme leaves, garlic salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. While pasta cooks, rinse any ice glaze from frozen salmon under cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Heat heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of salmon with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place in heated skillet and cook, uncovered, about 3 to 4

minutes, until browned. Shake pan occasionally to keep from sticking. Turn salmon over; cover pan tightly and reduce heat to medium. Cook an additional 6 to 8 minutes for frozen salmon or 3 to 4 minutes for fresh/thawed fish. Cook just until fish is opaque throughout. Break into large chunks (removing skin, if any); add to pasta. Cook and stir gently over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon wedges and thyme sprigs.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • March 2013 • 9

Familiar Faces



Tanner Kent

Wendy Schmidt opened Creekside Boutique in Kasota in 2003. Her store is now located at 120 N. Augusta Ct., near Highway 22.

Fashion sense

Wendy Schmidt puts the unique in Creekside Boutique

10 • March 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

WS: When we moved from Kasota to Mankato, I had mixed feelings about the relocation. It was both exciting and sad at the same time. I loved the idea of being able to purchase my own store, and relocate to a larger, brand-new place. However, I was parting from my two good friends and mentors; Jeannine and Mary Miller from M.J. Rose. MM: What makes Creekside Boutique different from the competition? WS: Creekside Boutique is unique in its own way, due to the items and brands we carry. The customers will not see these clothing brands anywhere else in town and we also carry specialty jewelry. We also offer quality merchandise and personal service to all of our customers.


endy Schmidt started Creekside Boutique in 2003, operating for several years in a leased space no bigger than a double garage. Today, Schmidt’s hilltop boutique has become a local fashion destination. Known for its can’t-find-them-anywhere-else brands and styles, Schmidt said she is continuing to live the dream she started a decade ago. Mankato Magazine: When did your interest in fashion begin? Was there a certain moment or event that sparked your interest? Wendy Schmidt: I have had an interest in fashion since my high school years. I always enjoyed the new trends and watching styles come in and go out. After college, I wanted my own business, so I was extremely happy to have my dream come true when I opened Creekside Boutique. MM: When did you open Creekside Boutique, and what motivated you to make the decision? WS: I opened Creekside Boutique in March 2003. I have always been interested in fashion and I had the desire to fulfill a dream. With the passion, and the help from two wonderful friends, I was able to open my own store as they became mentors and my support system. MM: What was it like when you moved out of your first location in Kasota?

MM: What are some things customers can find only at Creekside? Is there anything customers might be surprised to find? WS: We have a variety of items that customers are delighted and surprised to find here at Creekside Boutique. We carry specific shoe brands, such as Pikolinos, Fly London, Riecker and Born. We also carry top-of-the-line jewelry such as Brighton; and popular jean brands, specifically, Not Your Daughter Jeans (NYDJ), French Dressing and Liverpool. I choose the pieces by keeping my customers in mind, as well as looking for items that are appealing to me too. MM: For someone trying to update their wardrobe, are there a few classic pieces you would recommend? What advice would you give? WS: If I were to recommend a couple classic pieces to the customer, I would suggest a colorful blazer (that always looks nice with jeans), a pair of straight leg jeans to wear with tunics and a colorful, printed or even solid color scarf, which always has the ability to pull together an outfit. It is also nice to have a pair of comfortable boots, tall or short, to go with any outfit. MM: How has fashion changed since you’ve been in the business? What do you expect in the future? WS: With a wide variety of styles and colors being in style over the years, fashion has become less restrictive. There are many exciting details and feminine styles out there, such as ruffles, fringe and many different color combinations that makes it fun to mix and match many different styles. MM: What do you enjoy most about your job? WS: What I enjoy most about my job is meeting new people and expressing my passion by introducing them to unique clothing. It is a great feeling to help the customer feel and look their best. At the end of the day, I know the customer has left my store feeling confident in their choice of clothes and accessories. M

Creekside Boutique focuses on unique clothing brands and specialty items, such as jewelry. MANKATO MAGAZINE • March 2013 • 11

The Gallery

Eyeing the Man of La Mancha ‘Don Quixote’ expert shares insight for MSO performance Interview by Tanner Kent


n March 3, the Mankato Symphony Orchestra tackles one of the most timeless of all literary tales: “Don Quixote,” the 17th-century novel authored by Miguel de Cervantes. For the MSO performance, host and guest violist Sam Bergman will offer a “magical blend of history, musical analysis, and whimsy” to take a deeper look at Richard Strauss’ “Don Quixote Op. 35,” which is of course based on the book. Concert Artists Guild International Competition Winner Sebastian Bäverstam will also perform as a guest artist. In addition, Minnesota State University Spanish instructors Jim Grabowska and Kim Contag will offer their insights. (For more information about the show, or purchasing tickets, visit The Mankato Magazine caught up with Grabowska for a few questions about the book that is often considered the first, if not the best, novel ever written. Mankato Magazine: In all of literature, what place does “Don Quixote” occupy in terms of importance and influence? Jim Grabowska: When the year 2000 rolled around, Time-Life came out with a list of the 100 most significant achievements during the preceding 1,000 years. As I recall, there were only 3 references to literature: Shakespeare made it for his body of work, “Tales of Genji” made it and so did “Quixote.” It is considered to be the first modern novel and has been translated into just about every language that has a character system MM: Are there any modern archetypes/cliches/narrative devices that can trace their origin to “Don Quixote”? JG: Perhaps the most significant character contribution is that of the sidekick. Cervantes introduced the world to Sancho Panza, and the faithful sidekick has been around ever since. My favorite narrative device is the interruption: Right in the middle of a fight between Don Quixote and a Viscayan, just as they raise their swords to charge each other, the story stops while the narrator tells us about how he found the missing pieces of the book that we are reading. When he finishes that story, he goes back to the fight. MM: What kind of hero is Don Quixote? There is an image of him as being a bumbling, incompetent, idealistic kind of fool. Is that 12 • March 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

a complete picture? JG: The novel itself is clear: Don Quixote goes insane from reading too many books. In fact, his last act before dying and just after recovering from his madness is to condemn the books that drove him to his state. We’ve had the same phenomenon occur in the 20th/21st century: Honore Daumier’s “Don Quixote and Sancho people who get Panza” is one of countless works inspired by addicted to video Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th-century novel. games or messages in music (who can forget Charles Manson?), for example, and we currently debate whether or not violent video games lead to the tragedies we see in Colorado or Connecticut or Pennsylvania. I don’t see Don Quixote as a hero anymore than I do the “Watchmen” characters. He is dangerous. MM: Of course, Cervantes wrote Don Quixote in the 17th century. Have the interpretations of his novel changed over the centuries? How? JG: Cervantes wrote the book to poke fun ... at everything. Any interpretation other than tongue-in-cheek would be different than the way that Cervantes intended. So the nobility that is assigned to “Don Quixote” by some (to dream the impossible dream) is a prevalent, but different interpretation. I always have to really work with my students to keep them from feeling sorry for Don Quixote & Sancho when they get beaten up or stomped or trounced. This is not the story of a hero who comes back from adversity to triumph. This is more Wile E. Coyote, who just never learns that what he wants will always be out of reach. M

Rock solid jewelry Mankato jeweler goes the extra mile for natural products


By Nell Musolf

rtist Becky Nastansky likes to make her jewelry with natural products and uses items such as glass beads, agates and porcupine quills to create bracelets, necklaces and earrings. For the beads and the polished agates, she usually turns to eBay. For the porcupine quills, she’s a little more hands-on. “When I see a dead porcupine by the side of the road, I bring it home and wash it to get the quills,” Nastansky said with a slightly sheepish grin. “I don’t want to see anything go to waste and I try to make all my jewelry with natural materials.” Nastansky grew up with parents who were crafty and learned how to bead when she was in grade school in Grand Rapids. Her school had a class taught by a Native American artist who showed the students how to make beaded necklaces. Nastansky has been beading ever since. “Once I start to bead a necklace, I don’t stop until I’m finished,” Nastansky said. “I like to work straight through.” In addition to jewelry that she makes using traditional designs, she also makes chakra jewelry that is designed to help the flow of energy in the body. Chakra jewelry is also supposed to help balance the energy for the people who wear them. “I do believe that the different rocks I use in my jewelry can help you deal with sicknesses and also help you to feel more relaxed,” Nastansky said. “It makes me

Becky Nastansky creates a variety of jewelry with glass beads, agates and even porcupine quills. happy to think that what I’m making might help people feel better.” Nastansky sells her jewelry at Christy and Kristie’s, 420 Park Lane in Mankato. Christy and Kristie’s is a collectibles store and is having a grand opening March 2 from 2-7 p.m. The grand opening event will include a wine tasting by Red Sky. “I find it very relaxing to sit down and

make jewelry,” Nastansky said. “My regular job can be very routine so making jewelry gives me the chance to do something that is more creative.” Nastansky is also available for jewelry parties and can be reached at M

MN Book Award finalists — write here in Mankato! Mankato can boast a trio of finalists for the 2013 Minnesota Book Awards. Finalists were chosen by a 24-judge panel. Winners will be named during the 25th Minnesota Book Awards Gala on April 13. There will also be a free “meet the finalists” event on March 15 at the Open Book in Minneapolis.

• “It Takes You Over” — By Nick Healy. In his debut publication of short stories, Healy exposes the tumult and tenderness that exist under the placid surfaces of ordinary lives. Published by New Rivers Press. Finalist in the “Novel & Short Story” category.

Mankato’s finalists include: • “Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota” — By Bruce White and Minnesota State University English instructor Gwen Westerman. This book tells of the rich and tragic history of the Dakota and their native land a century prior to their exile that began in 1862. Published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Finalist in the “Minnesota” category.

• “Nothing Special” — Geoff Herbach. In an awardwinning follow-up to his award-winning debut, Herbach takes readers inside the mind of an athletically gifted teenager who must drop everything to chase down his runaway brother. Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. Finalist in the category “Young People’s Literature.” MANKATO MAGAZINE • March 2013 • 13

Photos by John Cross

(Above) Heidi and Matt Burns didn’t consider themselves particularly handy before they tackled a slate of home improvement projects in their hilltop Mankato home, including a new kitchen counter, faucet and backsplash. (Left) After remodeling their kitchen, Matt and Heidi Burns restored the hardwood floor previously hidden underneath their carpet.

14 • MArch 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

So, you want to do it yourself? Before diving into DIY, take some advice from those who’ve been there By Marie Wood


“You don’t always know what you don’t know.”

eidi and Matt Burns headed down the DIY road after several years in their circa-1958 home in Mankato’s old hilltop neighborhood. In 2010, the Burns remodeled their kitchen in about two weeks. “Matt and I aren’t particularly handy, but we jumped on YouTube to find a video. We read up on it, and in a couple weeks — we dove in,” said Heidi. Their kitchen counter and matching backsplash was a textured white laminate all the way up to the cabinets. They tore out the backsplash and scraped off the yellow glue. Matt pulled out the kitchen counter, installed a new one and replaced the faucet. Meanwhile, Heidi tiled the backsplash. Upon advice from a contractor, she chose to use thinset mortar, which she had to spread on the wall, smooth and level to the right thickness, and set in the tile. Next she grouted between the tiles. To speed the project along, she used tile sheets and pre-mixed grout. A friend used his wet saw to cut some tiles for her. The final step was polishing the tile. “I love tiling,” she said. The biggest challenge was replacing the faucet due to old pipe fittings. The Burns had to call a dear friend on Mother’s Day to help with the plumbing. They were thankful for his expertise. “That’s the problem with DIY. You don’t always know what you don’t know,” said Heidi. Throughout the project, the couple often worked independently of each other. “As much as we could stay out of each others’ way, we did. It goes MANKATO MAGAZINE • MArch 2013 • 15

better that way,” said Heidi. Heidi and Matt have discovered they live in a well-built house. They pulled up the carpet in two bedrooms to reveal hardwood floors in great shape. When Heidi pulled out a bottom drawer in a built-in wall unit in the living room, she found wood floors in that room, as well. One day when her three sons were all home, they cheered her on as she pulled up the ugly carpeting to reveal a gorgeous hardwood floor beneath. The boys helped pull out thousands of staples and nails for about four hours. “They think it’s fun for a while,” said Heidi. This summer, Heidi painted the trim and wainscoting white, because she never

liked that the woodwork and doors in the home were different colors. Then she cleaned and polished the wood doors and replaced the door knobs with brushed nickel hardware. The Burns have also changed out light fixtures. Matt, who works in residential life at Minnesota State University, Mankato, has a degree in industrial engineering. “My husband has learned some electrician work through this whole process. He’s good at it,” said Heidi. “His mind works out the mechanical side of things pretty easily. He’s really smart.”

Heidi’s advice for do-it-yourselfers: • Do your research. Ask lots of questions. If you don’t, you’ll be back (at the home improvement store) about six times.

• Don’t be afraid to try. The worst thing that can happen is you’ll have to call someone in to fix it.

• At some point you have to know when you’re in over your head. Then you have to stop.

When to hire a contractor


hen remodeling goes beyond cosmetic updates, there are some things you don’t want to try at home. Namely HVAC, electrical, plumbing and window replacement noted David Anderson, general contractor of David Anderson Construction, Mankato. He has been remodeling homes for 25 years. “Sometimes it’s better to hire someone who knows what they’re doing from top to bottom,” said Anderson. “We have the right tools, the right amount of people. We come in and get it done.” The most common home improvement projects are kitchen and bathroom remodels and finishing basements. Here is Anderson’s advice to home improvers: Make a plan. Prioritize your projects and figure out what you have to spend. Call a contractor. Contractors offer free estimates on cost of materials and labor. Make sure your contractor and his sub-contractors are licensed, insured and reputable.

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The initial Confident Retirement conversation provides an overview of financial planning concepts. You will not receive written analysis and/or recommendations. Confident retirement is not a guarantee of future financial results. Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. © 2013 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.

16 • MArch 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Pull a building permit. When the job is done, a building official will inspect the work that the contractor has done and if it is done incorrectly, then the contractor must fix it. The building permit protects the homeowner. Beware of environmental hazards. Mold in basement walls and floors requires workers in hazmat suits to fog the area in a two-step process. Bleach and a coat of paint is not the answer.

DIY tips from the professionals


nnette Thorson, specialty assistant manager at The Home Depot in Mankato, loves to see the photos of her customers’ finished projects. “To be able to do something yourself for your home makes you feel good,” said Thorson. “With DIY, there’s a sense of ownership and pride. Then they have the confidence to try something a little more difficult.” Painting Painting is one of the first projects that new homeowners tackle. With a few gallons of paint, they can add a splash of color, update their home and make it their own. “It’s the quickest way to change the look of your house. You can go from a baby’s room to a teenager’s room in a day,” Thorson said. In The Home Depot paint department, accent walls painted in a bright bold color is a popular choice for customers. Shades of purple and burgundy are in this year. With Martha Stewart Living paints, glazes, tools and cool techniques, do-ityourself painters are creating special effects that make their walls look like faux wood, linen, raw silk and other textures. Tiling Tiling a kitchen backsplash is a rewarding project for DIY beginners. “It’s probably the easiest project to get your investment out of and dress up a kitchen,” said Jeff Simonson, merchandise manager at The Home Depot in Mankato. Tile comes in a family of patterns and designs. Most lines come with accents, trim and bling to lend a unique look. Product specialists can recommend the best material for your project: stone, porcelain, glass or ceramic. New products such as the tile setting mat and sheets of tile that come in a pattern of colors and materials such as glass, stone and metal make the job easier. Glass tiles continue to be hot for kitchen backsplashes. “You can be as creative as you want when it comes to tile. It’s not that difficult,” Thorson said. “You can do a tile job in a day.” Faucets and sinks If you want to replace a faucet or sink in a kitchen or bathroom, measure and take a photo. With the measurements and photo, Simonson can get you everything you need for the project.

Photos by John Cross

Home Depot’s Stacy Novotny demonstrates how to grout tile. “Plumbing can be our most frustrated customer base,” Simonson said. It’s actually easier to change out a sink and faucet together, because you can drop the faucet into the sink and tighten the connections before you install the sink. When you change out the faucet only, you have to work under the sink, in the small space between the pipes and wall. Home Depot Workshops Every Saturday and Sunday, The Home Depot in Mankato offers free DIY workshops. Topics include tiling, storage,

kitchen design, bath updates, Martha Stewart Living specialty finishes, and Do-It-Herself workshops too. You don’t have to wait for a workshop. Product specialists will walk you through any home project. How-to videos are also online. Visit and choose the Project: How To tab for workshop schedules, how-to videos and more DIY advice. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • MArch 2013 • 17

Good Health

By Christie Aschwanden | The Washington Post

Benefits of annual physical hard to prove, but endorsed by doctors


y husband hasn’t seen a doctor in at least five years. His last visit came when I insisted on taking him to the emergency room for help extracting a shard of wood he’d accidentally stepped on. Dave, a former athlete in his early 40s, is a fit, healthy nonsmoker. He’s never had an annual physical, and he doesn’t see any need to start now. Once upon a time, an annual physical was just something you did if you cared about your health (and had the insurance to pay for the exam). But a recent review by researchers at the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen suggests that my husband’s “wait for a reason” approach may be perfectly wise. Researchers examined the most rigorous studies they could find (14 in all) comparing people who received so-called general health checks and those who didn’t, some 182,000 people in all. Their analysis found that routine medical exams failed to reduce overall deaths, diseaserelated deaths, hospitalizations or costs. The Cochrane review isn’t the first to question the effectiveness of the annual exam. A 1979 Canadian panel convened by the government concluded that “the routine annual physical examination should be discarded in favour of a selective plan of health protection packages appropriate to the various health needs at the different stages of human life.” The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not advise for or against annual exams; instead, it makes age-specific recommendations about which screening tests you need and when, says Michael L. LeFevre, a physician at the University of Missouri and co-vice chair of this independent group of national experts. Even without formal recommendations, many Americans continue to see their doctor once a year, whether they have symptoms or not. The 2009 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey showed that general medical exams were the No. 1 reason people visited their doctors. The annual physical became popular, in part, because it seems so logical that a regular exam might catch medical problems before they get out of hand, says Ateev Mehrotra, a health policy researcher and physician at the University of 18 • MArch 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

P i t t s b u rg h School of Medicine. But given the lack of evidence that the yearly r i t u a l improves health, he says, “my own view is that the medical community should no l o n g e r encourage patients to receive an a n n u a l physical.” It’s not just that these exams are unlikely to help the patient, Mehrotra says. They come with potentially serious downsides, too. For patients, the negatives include time away from work and possibly unnecessary tests. “Getting a simple urinalysis could lead to a false positive, which could trigger a cascade of even more tests, only to discover in the end that you had nothing wrong with you,” Mehrotra says. There’s also potential for false assurance that everything is okay, which may lead people to ignore or minimize new symptoms. “You may come in and have a completely fine bill of health, and three months later you develop leukemia,” says physician Christine Laine, editor of Annals of Internal Medicine. “Unfortunately, we can’t prevent that from happening.” When you go in for a physical, the doctor checks for things that are common and easy to screen for, but there remain plenty of other conditions that lack a good screening test, and there are others whose outcomes aren’t improved by identifying them earlier, Laine says. Mehrotra says that annual physicals also are straining the medical system. “We’re spending 12 percent of our primary-care time on something that has no evidence to support it.” Primary-care doctors are in short supply. “If physicians stopped doing

annual exams and used that time to accept new patients, it would greatly alleviate the problem.” But that’s unlikely to happen soon, he says, because so many health-care plans create a financial incentive for physicians to provide annual exams. “As a society, we’re spending about as much money on annual exams as we are on breast cancer. That’s a tremendous amount of money for something with no evidence base,” Mehrotra says. He’s particularly alarmed that Medicare recently introduced an annual wellness exam, because health plans are required to cover the same range of preventive services as Medicare. “This perpetuates the myth that the annual physical is important,” Mehrotra says. But, says Sung T. Kim, a family physician at the Inova Medical Group in Centreville, Va., the annual exam isn’t just about improving the patient’s health; it’s also an opportunity to foster the doctor-patient relationship and a chance for him to check on a patient’s mental health. He recommends annual physicals for his patients: “It’s a chance to spend quality time together. We can discuss all the things that are recommended from a prevention standpoint.” Kim routinely sees cholesterol readings that change from year to year and blood pressure that’s gone up between one annual physical and the next.

“When they come in for an acute visit, a lot of times we can only focus on that problem. An annual visit allows me to take time to spent that extra 10 or 15 minutes really talking,” Kim says. “When we don’t see a patient for two or three years, there could be a lot of things we are missing in the interim.” Some people don’t want the responsibility of keeping tabs on their prevention needs, Laine says. “It takes a very organized patient to realize, ‘Oh I haven’t had my blood pressure checked in four years, maybe it’s time.’ “ So a regularly scheduled doctor visit can ensure that a patient remains on track, but every 12 months is probably too often for many people, she says. How often you see the doctor should depend on your age and your health status. A 25-year-old male in good health probably doesn’t need to see a doctor more than every five years. But as you get older, or if you’re taking medications or managing a chronic condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes, you might need to see the physician even more than once a year, LeFevre says. I stopped seeing my doctor annually after the Preventive Services Task Force changed its recommendations on women’s health screenings. Where it once advised yearly Pap smears for women of reproductive age, the panel and the American Cancer Society now recommend them once every three years for women older than 21 or every five years if done in combination with the HPV test for women older than 30. At 40, unless I develop unusual symptoms, there’s no need for me to go in more often than that, LeFevre says. What about my husband? Should I nag him to see a doctor, or can he wait until he needs his next screening exam? Mehrotra says that given his health status, he’s okay — for now. “If he doesn’t smoke and isn’t at risk for any major diseases and he’s up-to-date on the screenings recommended by the task force, then I don’t see a critical need for an exam.” On LeFevre’s advice, I went to www. to get a list of government recommendations for someone of my husband’s age and health status. Turns out that he’s due for a blood pressure check (every two years for men his age) and a cholesterol screening (recommended every five years for his age category). But he may evade the doctor’s office yet, since these are tests he can get at our annual community health fair, without a formal visit to a doctor. MANKATO MAGAZINE • MArch 2013 • 19

Big Foot

Mankato’s home economics icon By Sarah Zenk Blossom If you took a Home Economics or Family and Consumer Science class in Mankato during the past 30 years, it’s likely that you are familiar with something called the Big Foot. What is the Big Foot? “Dolores Paulson saw the Big Foot. Isn’t that the way the story goes?” said Pat Potzler, former teacher in the Mankato Area School District. “She saw it in another school, and she brought it here. “I think I helped make 6,000 of them. I counted them once,” Potzler continued. “It’s a pillow, and it has the outline of a foot.” The Big Foot is 29 inches tall, first appeared in Mankato schools in the early 1970s and has remained a beloved home economics project ever since. Former Mankato teacher Peg Bindner admits reluctance to adopt it, saying she would have preferred that students work with commercial patterns that would require alteration and customization. But Big Foot took on a life of its own. “Never did we dream it would go on forever,” she said.. Lynda Mead, a current teacher at Dakota Meadows Middle School, said she attempted once to end the sightings for good. “I remember when I transferred from teaching senior high to junior high, and I said: “I am not going to do that Big Foot pillow. It’s been done for 30 years. I am not doing it. “I had kids crying in the counselor’s office. The counselor called me, and she said, “What did you tell the kids? They hear that they can’t make the Big Foot pillow.” After that, I just made it, and they’re still asking to do it, even though they’ve taken sewing out of our curriculum (at Dakota Meadows).” Polly Marshall, retired Mankato teacher, also found that Big Foot wasn’t going away. “I had mothers who called me after Mankato had a flood because the Big Foot that their boys had made had to be thrown away. They said, “We’re going to have to make one at home,” and I supplied them with a pattern.” Though the Big Foot remained unchanged for over 30 years, some things about the department have changed. Since then, technology has changed the way the program looks. The FACS department now has commercial-style kitchens for its more-advanced culinary classes, and students use computer labs more often than not. “It’s changed a lot,” said Eloise Layman, former Mankato 20 • March 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

teacher “We lost the name ‘Home Ec.’” Home Economics turned into Family and Consumer Science (FACS) in Mankato schools in 1993. The new name is meant to reflect more accurately the entire content of the program, according to Mary Draper, a FACS teacher at Mankato East Junior High. Still, many of the retired teachers miss the original name. “It’s really too bad,” Layman said. While the department was operating under the name Home Economics, “some of the kids were allowed to meet their science and math requirements by taking the classes,” Marshall recalled. Nearly all the subject areas covered by Home Ec and FACS require math or science in some form: nutrition, child development, personal finance, sewing, interpersonal communication, and so on. Just as the Home Ec department did, FACS continues to emphasize the importance of time and money management, and consumer skills. In the 1960s, Mankto Area School District’s Home Ec

Photo courtesy of Mary Draper

Mary Gach and Ahmed Busuri hold the Big Foot pillows they created in Mary Draper’s Family and Consumer Science class. The pillows have become something of a Mankato tradition.

department advised a Future Homemakers of America (FHA) club, and topics included driver safety, flag etiquette, and hostess manners. FHA students listened to lectures by teaching and research dietitians, book and stationery designers, and artists. In 1999, the FHA became known nationally as the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). Home Ec classes have been offered since the turn of the 20th century, and the field is still called Home Economics in many southern schools and internationally. The field was founded by Ellen Swallow Richards, a scientist concerned, even then, with sustainable living. At Minnesota State University, courses in Home Economics were formalized in 1917 but were in existence earlier. Jill Conlon, chair of the Family Consumer Science (FCS) department at MSU, said that some of the first female college administrators studied Home Economics. Home Ec was one of the earliest avenues for female participation in higher education. Conlon clarified that there are two main approaches to teaching. The traditional approach emphasizes practical skills, and the critical science approach emphasizes asking questions and solving problems. Mankato Area Public Schools use a hybrid approach that exposes students to a variety of experiences. In addition to the daily instruction that took place in the classroom, food lab, and sewing lab, Layman remembers taking students on trips to Gabberts Design Studio, the Mayo House, and Bachman’s floral center. Students take annual fashionresearch trips to New York City, an opportunity the department has offered for about 20 years. While changing social circumstances and academic trends impact how we see Home Economics, Family and Consumer Science, or whatever its name will be next, it is an inescapable fact that we must learn to feed, house, and clothe ourselves — and we can rest assured there will be a field of study that aims to help us do so safely and efficiently. We may also take solace in the fact that, though endangered, the Big Foot lives on. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • March 2013 • 21


By John Cross

Tales of mega-blizzards around the time of state basketball tournaments are legion in Minnesota. And certainly, some of Minnesota’s most memorable snow storms have occurred in March — the St. Patrick’s Day Blizzard in 1965, for example. But March typically can be a month of dramatic meteorological swings. The historical record low March temperature of -50 degrees was recorded on March 2, 1897, at

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Pokegama Dam. The historical record high March temperature of 88 degrees was recorded in Montevideo on March 23, 1910. The average high temperature in March in Mankato is 42 degrees. Last year, the average high was nearly 50 degrees, making it one of the warmest on record. But averages are the result of extremes. So this year, perhaps, we have cause to worry.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • March 2013 • 23

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Pat Christman

(Above) Antje Meisner, owner of Antje Meisner Concepts, had a hand in the interior decoriation of Mom and Pop’s Ice Cream in Mankato, and Lor Ray Drive Salon and Spa in North Mankato. (Left) Margot Weyhe, owner of The Design Element, said the real trend is the use of color in general.

Inner beauty

Tips and trends from interior decorating experts By Nell Musolf MANKATO MAGAZINE • MArch 2013 • 25


inter officially ends March 20 and with the advent of spring, many people want to freshen up their homes and get rid of the cozy clutter of the past few months. While fuzzy plaids and warm colors might be appealing during the holiday season, come spring and the urge to lighten up seems to grow with the lengthening days. A quick and relatively easy way to change a home’s interior is a coat of paint. Margot Weyhe, interior designer and owner of The Design Element in Mankato, says that industry experts are predicting that emerald green, tangerine and Monaco — or royal — blue are the trending colors of 2013. Weyhe said that she is certain that those colors will be introduced in this year’s new fabrics, paints, area rugs and wall coverings. Wall coverings such as wallpaper are now used more for accents, color and texture and can also be used to soften the look of a room. “In my opinion, what is truly trending is the use of color in general,” Weyhe observed. “It’s not about matching; it’s about mixing colors you wouldn’t ordinarily see together. You might see fuchsia and orange with a little peacock color thrown in.” Antje Meisner of Antje Meisner Concepts agrees that emerald green will be the big color of spring. “The ‘Pantone View Home + Interiors’ book showcases nine color palettes for 2013,” Meisner says. “They range from a mix of muted palettes to rainbow inspired colors for bolder statements.”

Since it is the paint manufacturers who develop the color forecasts, Meisner recommends visiting the Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams websites to see what color trends they have on their websites. “I always ask clients what colors appeal to them and if they have a specific color palette in mind,” Meisner says. “I then build on this to create a color story. Also, just as important, I want to know what colors they would never want in their space. Color has a tremendous affect on how a space feels.” For interior decorator Katie Kaczmarek, color choice is very much an individual choice. “Thinking of colors with all of your senses is very important,” Kaczmarek says. “I try to encourage people to look around at the environment and see what makes them who they are.” Kaczmarek says that dark colors can give a room, even a small one, a feeling of being infinite. If choosing a dark paint, try using white or cream paint on the trim and molding to give the room depth. “Using a dark paint can be a bold statement,” Kaczmarek says, “but if you have a bold personality and want to make that statement, a darker color can be used.” What about wallpaper? Wallpaper is another option for people who want to do more than paint. Wallpapers are currently available in leather, cork, glass beads, shells and bird feathers. For people with larger decorating budgets, handpainted wallpapers can also be found. According to Meisner, wallpaper has grown in popularity over the past five years. “I think many of us have bad memories of grandmother’s wallpaper,” Meisner observes. “Often wallpaper isn’t used because it is a major commitment and can be cost-prohibitive. But wallpaper doesn’t have to be used on all the walls. A patterned paper can be a bold accent on a focal wall.” Weythe agrees: “Wall covering used to be more prominent but now they are used primarily for accent, color and texture. I tend to use them in smaller doses but I love to use dramatic patterns or just soften a room with texture.” When it comes to floor coverings, Weyhe recommends keeping them “cohesive and neutral” since that will give the homeowner more opportunity to use color, pattern and texture in furnishings and on the walls. Meisner said that consistent flooring creates a sense of open space and continuity. She also suggests selecting materials that have colors and tones that complement each other to create a seamless feeling: “That doesn’t mean that the same materials have to be used everywhere. Tile or stone can be used in entryways and mudrooms with wood throughout the rest of the home.” Place furniture purposefully So, your walls are covered, the flooring is perfection and the time has come to fill your freshly decorated space with furniture. What should be the first step? “How a room will be used dictates how furniture should be placed,” Meisner says. Meisner suggests considering what happens in a room as a guidelines for deciding where to put the sofa, television set and everything else. Conversation areas, what activities take place in a room and traffic flow should all be considered when creating a space plan. Weyhe thinks that planning where to put furnishings is easier if a design can be scaled out on paper.

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“My best advice is to be mindful of walkways and also try not to place every piece of furniture against a wall,” Weyhe says. If new furniture is part of your decorating budget, Mankato offers a wide range of stores that can meet all price ranges. However, when buying furniture, price shouldn’t be the only factor. Quality of construction and what kinds of materials are used should also be considered. Purchasing a well-made piece of furniture that will last many years is more economic than buying something cheaper that will look tattered in a short amount of time. “It should not be stressful to express yourself in your own home,” Kaczmarek observes. “Think of it as mimicking your favorite environment to enjoy all of the time.” M

Top 10 decorating tips from Mankato interior designers • Use pillows as flourishes and change them with each season. • Allow 15 to 18 inches between a coffee table and sofa or chair. • Use personal touches such as family photos, art or collections that show the homeowner’s personality as flourishes. • Use old hardcover books (which can be found inexpensively at thrift stores) as accessories. • Try to create balance in a room without having pairs of everything. • If a room doesn’t have a clear focal point or there is no place for your eye to rest, you’ve probably over decorated. • Sometimes what you leave out of a space is as important as what you put in. • Don’t overdo a trend. Mix it up and make it personal to you. • Let go of your fears and let your personality shine through. • If it doesn’t work out, you can always repaint it. MANKATO MAGAZINE • MArch 2013 • 27

Distinct contributions Meet the YWCA’s 2013 Women of Distinction By Tanner Kent


here’s no formula for eliminating racism and empowering women. There is no handy, step-by-step rubric for how to promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. In the continuing battle for equality, it’s often the individual who makes the difference. And every year since 1973, the Mankato YWCA has recognized the women who are making that difference. This year’s recipients of the Women of Distinction awards are Pam Determan, Julie Vetter and Anne Willaert. Wells Fargo earned the Distinctive Difference award and Terri Hanson received the Young Woman of Distinction award. Yet, they’ve all fulfilled YWCA’s mission in different ways. Determan has spent years trying to bring others on board to her vision of a $4 million adult community center, a building that she said will empower this area’s rapidly aging population to retire more healthfully and optimistically. Willaert channeled her years of working with African refugees into a series of post-secondary career pathways that target underserved and minority students. Vetter has dedicated much of her life to volunteerism, from One Bright Star and the YMCA to Zonta International and the Mayo Clinic. Hanson has been a long-time volunteer at the Mankato pet shelter and is working on a grant to collect the oral traditions and folk tales of African immigrants. And, banking giant Wells Fargo boasts one of corporate America’s highest rates of women and minorities in leadership positions. Though the YWCA has recognized about 120 women during the awards’ 40-year history, each group of winners seems as if it could be the most distinct yet. This year’s crop is no exception. Pam Determan Two years ago, Pam Determan had the opportunity to personally thank the woman who inspired her. That woman was Verna Dargen, Determan’s fifth-grade teacher at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in her hometown of Hopkins. The year that Determan was in her class, Dargen’s husband died. And with her three children already grown, Dargen turned to her 28 • March 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Pam Determan • Director of VINE Faith in Action • Started VINE in 1995 by herself; now the organization boasts 550 volunteers • Once organized car washes to send her youth group to camp at Lake of the Woods • Advice to young women: “Find out what you’re passionate about and go for it.” students for comfort. Determan said she remembers going to her teacher’s house on the weekends to make crafts and volunteering at nursing homes. They also taught an area Sunday school for disabled youth together for seven years until Determan graduated. “She even helped me pick a college,” Determan said. “I’m thankful I was able to tell her what she meant in my life.”

Julie Vetter • Vice president of retail banking at Community Bank • Started career as a bookkeeper with the National Bank of Commerce • An avid gardener • Advice to young women: “Trust your instincts. Hear that little voice inside your head. It’s usually pretty smart.” Determan has honored her mentor’s lessons in giving ever since. After caring for her ailing father during the same time she was caring for her five young boys, Determan decided to do something about the maddening lack of support she found for elderly citizens and their caregivers. So Determan jumpstarted a Mankato branch of the Faith in Action network in 1995. For two years, she operated alone. In fact, Mankato’s first Rake the Town event amounted to Determan’s children raking about 50 yards by themselves. Now, VINE Faith in Action boasts more than 500 volunteers and a variety of programs for senior citizens, people with disabilities, and those who are in the midst of difficult life circumstances. Determan said Mankato now has the nation’s largest Faith in Action network. “It’s just grown and grown and grown,”

Anne Willaert • Director of professional and continuing education for South Central College’s Center for Business and Industry • Played a key role in developing Minnesota’s first community health worker curriculum • Advice to young women: “Don’t think that a strong personality is a bad thing. Every person I hire has a strong personality.”

Determan said. “It’s become something so much bigger than just one person.” And it’s bound to grow even bigger. Last year, VINE purchased the Nichols building from the Blue Earth County Board with the intent of constructing a $4 million adult center. In addition to the expected accouterments, the building will also include a warm water pool, cafe/coffee shop, and a cushioned walking track, among others. “I want this to be something that gives people meaning and purpose — more than a place to be leisurely,” Determan said. “I want this to be a place where people can come to get healthy, stay healthy, volunteer and help other people.” Mary O’Sullivan, who nominated Determan for the award, said they have developed an opposites-attract kind of working relationship during their eight years together.

Determan is the dreamer, she said, “and I’m more concrete.” Over the years, O’Sullivan admitted she’s poured a few cups of cold details on Determan’s big plans — but she’s never de-railed the woman she described as “forwardthinking,” “bold” and “daring.” “I see her work every day,” O’Sullivan said. “And I think to myself: ‘If not her, then who else could be a Woman of Distinction?’” Julie Vetter “Just one more.” When the day has already been long and exhaustion is setting in, Julie Vetter hears her grandfather’s admonishment. The sound begins somewhere in the distance, near her family’s Mapleton farm where she was expected to pull the same chore load as her three other siblings — especially during growing season when the beans MANKATO MAGAZINE • March 2013 • 29

needed walking and weeding. The sound carries across decades of career-building, first as a bookkeeper at the National Bank of Commerce and now as the vice president of retail banking at Community Bank. And it carries through years of community service, from the Red Cross and the YWCA to One Bright Star, a resource organization for families who have lost a child. “One more,” her grandfather would say when Vetter’s young brow was soaked in summer sweat and her aching limbs were begging for quitting time. “Just one more row.” Vetter said the sound of her grandfather’s voice still reaches her ears today. “I still think about that,” she said. “It does push me along a little bit. I’ll feel like it’s time to quit, but then I’ll say: ‘Do one more. Do one more thing.’” Evidence of Vetter’s perseverance and dedication are not hard to find. She served for 10 years on the YWCA’s board, eventually moving up to president. From there, she joined the Mankato chapter of Zonta International, a service club that works to advance the status of women. In addition, Vetter is currently serving as the president of the Mayo Clinic Health System of Mankato Auxiliary. And

if that’s not enough, Vetter is a handy gardener and a pretty fair skipper at the Mankato Curling Club. “The connections you make and the people you meet — I’ve gotten way more out of volunteering that I’ve given,” Vetter said. “It’s just kind of contagious.” Susan Frost, who volunteers alongside Vetter in Zonta and nominated her for the award, said she’s been impressed by Vetter’s ability to connect with people and distinguish herself as a leader. “You watch how she behaves, how she acts, how she treats people and what she says, and you can’t help but like her,” Frost said. “She’s one of those people you are just drawn to.” Anne Willaert Every team needs a finisher. And those that play for the values of empowerment, dignity and freedom have Anne Willaert. “She really has, for a long time, lived and worked the mission of the YWCA,” said Anne Ganey, who should know. Ganey is the former director of the YWCA and herself a Woman of Distinction in 2003. During the time she worked at the YWCA, Ganey wasn’t allowed to nominate. Willaert was her first choice after accepting a new position at South Central College

last year. “She works really hard,” Ganey said. “She doesn’t give up.” Which is exactly what you’d expect from a finisher. More than a decade ago, Willaert was a driving force behind the growth of a small, refugee assimilation program in the basement of First Presbyterian Church into Community Assistance for Refugees — a non-profit organization that helped refugee families resettle in Mankato for nearly 20 years before it disbanded in 2009. Before that, she helped organize the day care program for Mankato Area Catholic Schools. “I like to develop,” Willaert said. “I like to stay busy.” After her time leading Community Assistance for Refugees, Willaert helped pioneer the community health worker training program for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. The initiative was created to address the growing need for so-called “culture brokers” between diverse populations and the health care system. Willaert’s work directly led to a 14-credit, state-standardized curriculum that was trialed at South Central College before

Young Woman of Distinction

Distinctive Difference Award

elli Hanson Magnuson felt a little miffed when she saw her sister graduate in December. Though Terri Hanson was a good student, she didn’t have the decorative tassels or fancy hardware flaunted by many of her Minnesota State University colleagues. “But if there were an award for community engagement,” Kelli said, “she’d be in a fullbody, armor suit.” Terri was only a freshman at Mankato West when she began volunteering with Connecting Kids, and with the YWCA’s Girls on the Run program. She’s volunteered extensively with the Riverside Regional Pet Shelter and spent several months last fall providing hospice care to a dying horse named Red, for whom she was willing to purchase medications out of pocket. She volunteers with the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota and continues to work with the YWCA as a kindergarten-preparedness instructor. In addition, Terri is currently working on a grant to compile oral traditions and folk tales from African immigrants into a children’s book. “Before the phrase ‘service learning’ was even popular, she was out there volunteering,” Kelli said. “She’s so inspiring to me and everybody else she works with.”

n 1852, Henry Wells and William Fargo formed the financial services empire that bears their names. Almost immediately, the company began to establish itself as a forward-thinking enterprise. In 1856, the company hired African-American William Robison as an express driver, a position he held for 40 years. In 1873, Mary Taggart was hired as an agent and eventually became the first woman to operate a branch location. In 1884, Wells Fargo hired a single mother of five children as an agent in Roseville, Calif. And in 1888, the company made equal treatment of men and women of all races a matter of official policy. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that Wells Fargo would be honored for that tradition more than a century later. “I am just really proud of this organization,” said Pam Jagdfeld, who nominated Wells Fargo and it principal business relationship manager at the downtown branch. “I think Wells Fargo has done some pretty amazing things.” Today, 59 percent of Wells Fargo employees are women; 36 percent are minorities. Additionally, those two demographics make up 51 percent and 27 percent of all officer and manager roles, respectively. In addition, all full-time employees are allowed 16 paid hours each year of time off work to volunteer. “The mission of the YWCA and the values of Wells Fargo align pretty well,” Jagdfeld said.


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being rolled out to other MnSCU schools. Three years ago, Willaert transitioned to SCC where she began implementation of a $4.5 million Department of Labor grant to create new career pathways for under-served and minority populations. Drawing on her previous experience working with refugees, she helped forge a series of health care career pathways specifically designed to support such students. Earlier this year, she was appointed director of professional and continuing education for SCC’s Center for Business and Industry. Now, she’s working to create additional trainings, continuing education credits and certificates for health care veterans. “I’ve always had awesome people around me,” said Willaert, citing past and present co-workers as well as her three grown children , parents and husband, Andrew. “That’s what makes all these things possible. No one person could ever do this alone.” M 22 varieties of beer on tap


2nd and last Monday of every month

125 S 3rd Street St. Peter 507-931-9051

Tuesday Pub Trivia Karaoke Wednesday Live Music

Every Sunday 4pm-7pm

MANKATO MAGAZINE • MArch 2013 • 31


to do,


to go


23 • Lutheran High School Art Invitational Reception 2 p.m. • Ylvisaker Fine Arts Center, Bethany Lutheran College • free •

4 • Atmosphere Welcome to Minnesota Tour 7 p.m. • Verizon Wireless Center • $23 • 5 • Jazz Lab Band/ Jazz Combos/ Vocal Jazz • 7:30 p.m.•Halling Recital Hall, MSU • $9 general admission, $7 students and children • music 8-10, 15-17 • Merely Players Community Theatre’s “James and the Giant Peach” Lincoln Community Center • $13 general admission •

2 • Jazzfest 2013 with Terell Stafford 7:30 p.m. • Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University • $15 general admission, $13 MSU students• 2 • “A Year of Bach” 3:30 p.m. • Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus • free • 3 • Deconstructing Don Quixote Concert 3-5:30 p.m. • Mankato West High School auditorium • 1351 S. Riverfront Drive • $25 gold section, $20 silver section, $15 bronze section, $5 youth 17 and under and students with ID. • 3 • Southern Minnesota’s Wedding Expo • Noon • Verizon Wireless Center free • 3 • River Hills Boat & Vacation Show 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. • River Hills Mall • free • 3-4 • Winter Choral Concert March 3, 3 p.m. • March 4, 7:30 p.m. • Halling Recital Hall, MSU • $9 general admission, $7 students and children • 32 • MArch 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

15 • Blue Earth County Historical Society’s “Surrounded by History” fundraiser 6-9 p.m. • Centennial Student Union Ballroom, Minnesota State University • $50 • 17 • Franklin Larey piano concert 1:30 p.m. • Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus • free • 18 • Bethany Band Homecoming Concert • 7 p.m. • Trinity Chapel, Bethany Lutheran College • free • 19 • MSU faculty Recital, Richard Weber • 7:30 p.m. • Halling Recital Hall, MSU • $9 general admission, $7 students and children • 22-24 • The Gustavus Dance Company’s 25th Anniversary Concert 22-23, 8 p.m.; 24, 2 p.m. • Anderson Theatre, Gustavus Adolphus • 22-24 • 19th Annual Southern Minnesota Home & Builders Show 22, 5-9 p.m.; 23, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; 24, noon to 5 p.m. • Verizon Wireless Center • free •

23 • Civil War Symposium 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. • Summit Center • 518 S. Fifth St., Mankato • $25 admission with lunch, $20 admission only • 24 • Music on the Hill: “Heavenly Lengths” 2-4 p.m. • Chapel at Good Counsel • 170 Good Counsel Drive, Mankato • $15 • 26 • University Orchestra concert 7:30 p.m • Halling Recital Hall, MSU • $9 general admission, $7 students and children • 26 • South Central MN Project Community Connect 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. • Verizon Wireless Center • free • 27-30 • Minnesota State University’s “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?” 7:30 p.m. • Andreas Theatre • $10, $9 for seniors and youth, $8 for students • www. 27 • Ragamala Dance Company’s 1,001 Buddahs 8 p.m. • Anderson Theatre, Gustavus Adolphus • $15 adults; $12 seniors, students, faculty and staff; free for Gustavus students• 30 • Community Easter Egg Hunt Noon to 2 p.m. • Jaycee Park, Mankato • free • 30 • MAD Girls vs. Goosetown Roller Girls in “How the Rookies Rumble” 7 p.m. • $10 in advance, $12 day of show, $15 floor seating •

Happy Hour

By Bailey Shiffler | McClatchy Tribune News Service

New squeeze

made for those with a sweet tooth. The mixture has a tasty, fruity bite to it, but it can be lip-puckering sweet, perhaps best as an after-dinner cocktail. The blend comes out of the freezer slightly solid, but just a few squeezes give it the perfect blended consistency.

Pouches bypass the glass


ut away the blender, scratch the measuring cups and forget squeezing limes. In fact, you can even ditch the glass. With the number of beverage pouches hitting the market, slipping away to Margaritaville has never been quite so simple. These beverage pouches come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors, from straight hard-liquor “pocket shots” to blended maltbased margaritas and daiquiris meant to “freeze, squeeze and serve.” You can pick them up, along with your mascara and cat food, at places like CVS or Wal-Mart. And they are creating a new market for preblended alcoholic beverages. Sales for pouched beverages neared $200 million in a 12-month period though Aug. 18, according to Nielsen research. A similar yearlong period through Aug. 2010 saw just $12 million in sales. We tested a few frozen “pouch cocktails.” Here were our thoughts. • Arbor Mist White Pear Pinot Grigio: The pear-based slushie is certainly

• Parrot Bay Mango Daiquiri: This daiquiri will make you feel as though you’re on a beach, no matter the season. Made with flavored beer, the drink hides its alcohol well, tasting more like a refreshing smoothie than a spiked daiquiri. The consistency was the best of the bunch — a few squeezes and it seemed to have come straight from the blender. • Shark Attack Cocktails Original Lime Margarita: The Shark Attack margarita, with its tube-shaped wrapper, is meant to be enjoyed straight from the freezer, but the plastic taste will have you reaching for a glass. The pack didn’t freeze well, and the flavors were a tad inauthentic. • Seagram’s Escapes Frozen Sangria: This take on sangria was fruity, with hints of lime and grape flavors working to balance the inevitable sweetness. The sweetness masked the wine flavor, giving more tang than tannin.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • MArch 2013 • 33

g n i r p S What’s hot for spring, is

By Ann Fee


his is what you’re wearing for spring. I mean not exactly, not literally, you don’t need to wear a strapless formal to work in your cubicle up on Northway Drive or wherever you go every day. Although you could. It’s up to you. I’m not going to come to your office and check. What I do expect to see on you, this season, is an age-appropriate (kind of) office-friendly (mostly) version of the bold, plush, pleated hope that showed up on the runways of the Verizon Wireless Center at this year’s Job’s Daughters dance. That was back in January. You remember the night. It was the coldest of the cold, so bitter that teenage leg flesh probably froze when it ran from the roof of the parking ramp down into the dance without so much as self-tanner to shield against the wind. That’s how it went for my son’s date (third from left, aqua tulle). Their group had parked on the roof because the ramp was so full. Then, I imagine, they got out of the car coatless, and skidded in their fancy formal shoes down the steps and across the street into the well-lit lobby, where there was probably a nice indoor/outdoor rug so the girls could stomp the ice and salt off their fresh pedicures. Then, I’m guessing, they walked past an irrelevant coat rack and into the dance, laughing at their triumph over nature. And that’s exactly how spring gets summoned. Get this burned into your shopping brain before you head to River Hills Mall or Encore or Pieces or wherever you go: 34 • March 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Bare legs in a froth of aqua tulle, racing off the top of a cold dark roof into the light, is it. That’s what spring looks like. If you’re interested in shedding winter and beckoning the sun, the hottest possible thing you can wear is your own personal version of I-am-17and-freezing-and-I-don’t-care. How to translate that to grownup workday attire? A ruffled peplum blouse, too dressy for the office. A polished cotton skirt, too shiny for church. Very tall shoes. Leather. Feathers. Sequins. Not all of these at once, certainly, just one at a time. The ladies at Job’s kept it classy that way and so should you. Choose a mini-dress or unstable platform pumps. Wear a rhinestoney halter or a sheer-over-sequins mullet skirt or a waistband flower as large as your head. You just need one risky thing. You need it for the sake of warmth and joy and community beautification and your own personal renewal — find that one chillignoring, nature-defying, I-am-my-own-selfheating-hand-warmer thing, and wear it well. There are other sources of spring fashion information besides Southern Minnesota’s annual winter high school dance, but trust me, they pretty much say the same. Harper’s Bazaar forecasts modesty with bursts of wild: Fur capes, marbled pink fabric, red python leather, glossy cottons, touches of suede. Vogue is excited about bold lines and a generally “unencumbered” freshness. Target Stores see ruffles and floral prints here and there. And the world’s foremost color

Photo courtesy of Scott Fee

What to wear this season? Reckless, youthful, sky-colored hope. And sequins authority, Pantone, lays out a spring fashion palette of blah (musky green, muted yellow, African violet) together with some crisp tones (lemon zest, nectarine, linen) which, combined, make a striking bouquet nobody thought to put together until now. Which is what makes it just right. That’s what makes it spring. This is how I’m asking you to think when you approach your mirror and your closet and the world in the weeks ahead. And what if you don’t? What if you go the same-old. tried-and-true, muted cotton-polyblend layered route? Friends, I saw exactly that, precisely the same evening as Job’s, a little further out on the prairie. That same cold Saturday night, Indian Island Winery in Janesville threw an Old Hollywood Glamour Masquerade Ball. The turnout was fantastic. Every costume was lush and sparkling — but it wasn’t spring. The colors were deep, the shoulder straps were wide, the heel heights were demure. Still lovely. Still hot, even. There was pleasure and possibility in those clothes, but nothing truly new. No raw hope. No pastel sunrise shooting off the top of a parking ramp roof. I’m not saying the attire at the Old Hollywood Masquerade Ball is the reason we’re still cold in March. I am not blaming people for dressing their age. I’m just saying, if we could all just risk the chill, if we could take a deep sharp breath and bare our one best part and artfully

drape the rest, if we can link arms and nudge our left knees slightly forward and cause everything else to fall just so, we might give the grass something to push up for. We might just light up the night, melt the sidewalk, warm up the room, drag up the sun. We can do this. We can wear this. So help us Job. M

Ann Fee offers fashion advice to fans of her band, The Frye, on Twitter @ARosenquistFee. She blogs at

MANKATO MAGAZINE • March 2013 • 35

Garden Chat

By Jean Lundquist

Seed money and spring promises


s I prepare to start my seeds this month, I have to pause and think as I look over the packets of seeds I’ve purchased so far. I’ve been taken in by seed company promises many times. Only twice have I ever found that the promises made in seed catalogs were kept. One kept promise was made by Farmer Seed and Nursery out of Faribault. Their Green Ice cucumber truly is the best I have ever eaten. It’s a wonderful slicer, not an all-around-good-for-everything cuke. After originally paying $20 for a packet, I was directed to a smaller packet that cost a mere $6. Even with my thrifty ways, I thought it was worth it. Nary a hint of bitterness, and nary a burp. The other promise that I believe was kept comes from Gurney with their Gotta Have It sweet corn. While not nearly as spendy as the Green Ice Cucumbers, it does hold well on the stalk and keeps well in the fridge, extending the delight of a single sowing. The only problem I’ve had with Gotta Have It is that the raccoons love it as much as I do. We’re going to foil their pillaging ideas this year, however, with an electric fence. The charging unit is already in the house. Fencing is work, and an electric fence is way more expensive than no fence. I’m serious about my Gotta Have It sweet corn this year. Still, every year the seed companies throw out a hook, and I rise to take the bait. I bit on a couple of things that sound too good to be true this season. One is Burpee’s SuperSauce hybrid tomato. The catalog arrived early. The cover was 36 • MArch 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

consumed by a picture of a plump, oval, saucy looking tomato. In the corner of the cover, it read: “Shown Actual Size.” I laughed and put the catalog aside. Later, I picked up the catalog again, and measured the tomato: fiveand-a-half inches high, five inches wide. The hype says each tomato weighs two pounds, and one will fill a quart canning jar all by itself. Would Burpee’s lie? OK, they lied about the Super Tasty tomato being the best tasting tomato ever, but I wrote that off to a difference between my soil and theirs. I bit. I bought a packet. I fear if I grow a tomato able to fill a quart jar all by itself, it will frighten me. But I just have to try. The other seed that caught my interest — and my cash — is On Deck sweet corn. I bought some just in case my Gotta Have It fence doesn’t work. On Deck can be grown in planters. I have never had luck growing any vegetable in a container, but this one is bred to be grown that way. I figure I’ll put the pots on the apron of the small shed and move it in each night when the ears start to develop. That will be one way to keep it from the raccoons, without the need of a fence. I can already foresee how this project will go, I fear. The pots will each contain five very heavy stalks of corn and the pot will be heavy with damp soil. It will be work to pull them in each evening and I’ll have to get up early to take them out in the morning before I go to work. It will be hot this summer and I’ll want to sit in the shade, or in the air conditioning, and the night I decide to forego the move inside, the raccoons will strike. But in March, I’m raring to go and I’ve bought the seed already. I’ll close with two tips for you — my own personal promises I expect are the

truth. If you have the chance to grow Orange Pixie Hybrid tomatoes, they will be the closest thing to tomato candy you can get. They are a large cherry tomato, and the least acidic and sweetest I have ever tasted. I got mine from John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds. Secondly, if you want to grow peperoncini peppers like the one you get in your salad at Italian restaurants, you need to grow the Greek variety, not the Italian variety. They taste different and they look different. The Greek peppers are shorter, and what you are used to seeing and eating. And FYI, they are pronounced “pepperon-chee-ni.” Now, you can sound smart when you talk about your wonderful peppers. Now, let’s get planting! M

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

Twin Rivers Council for the Arts

PROMOTING A VIBRANT ARTS COMMUNITY Arts by the River is now accepting applications from artists, arts and culture organizations, and food vendors. To learn more, or to volunteer, visit ArtsbytheRiver. com. Deadline April 1. In the Gallery at the Emy Frentz Arts Guild, 523 S 2nd St, Mankato: MARCH 11, 5:30PM – The Business of Art: Bulk Mail Workshop; Learn the nuts and bolts of this money-saving business tool. Free to TRCA affiliates; $15 general admission APRIL 12, NOON1PM – The Artist Circle: Facilitated by Barbe Marshall Hansen; Make your artistic voice a priority. We meet monthly on 2nd Fridays. Free to TRCA affiliates; $5 general admission APRIL 18, 5:30PM – ArtTalks! Networking group; Meet, collaborate, brainstorm, and be heard. Free to TRCA affiliates; $5 general admission This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

So arts and culture thrive Twin Rivers Council for the Arts located in Emy Frentz Arts Guild

523 South Second Street Mankato, MN 56001 507-387-1008 A calendar of events in our region including sports, arts, history, nature, festivals, and expos... 022061584901

MANKATO MAGAZINE • MArch 2013 • 37

Get Out!

By Rachael Hanel

Get active — and make your grandparents proud N

ow that it’s March, we can pat ourselves on the back for making it through another winter with its challenges of little daylight, ice and bitter cold temperatures. It was another challenging winter for those of us who enjoy trekking through the snow. As I write this, my yard looks like a skating rink with a dusting of snow on top. Walking, snowshoeing or skiing on the Sakatah Trail is off-limits unless I want to break an ankle. This in-between weather is about the worst it can get. If there’s no snow or ice at all, at least I could run on the trail like I did last winter. Or if there’s plenty of snow, I can do the usual winter activities. But with this weather, I’ve been forced inside on a treadmill or indoor bike trainer more often than I would like. Maybe it’s the monotony of indoor exercise that makes me think strange thoughts. When I’m on the treadmill or the bike trainer, I think of how odd I would look to someone from 100 years ago. I think of my farmer grandparents in particular. They plowed, gardened, walked, chased children, baked, lifted, cleaned, scrubbed, washed, chopped wood, all without the aid of our modern conveniences. The men of that time grew sinewy muscles, and the women developed strong arms and backs. They didn’t have to schedule exercise. It was part of their daily lives. They could eat potatoes fried in bacon grease or cookies baked with lard knowing that they would work it off in the course of a day. Then there’s me, who has to carefully schedule my 30 to 60 minutes of activity per day. When am I going to do it? Where? At home? Make the 20-minute drive to the YMCA? Do I even have time to fit it in at all? It gets sandwiched between work, sleep, eating, work, work, and more work. I haven’t gone as far as penciling in exercise in a planner, but I may have to soon. Without exercise, my life is pretty sedentary. I work on a computer eight, 10, sometimes 12 hours a day. When I go into Mankato from my home in Madison Lake, I have to drive — I don’t have the extra time it takes to commute by bicycle on nice days (which I used to do when I had a more flexible schedule). I’m not alone. Our lives are much different from our grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ lives. And it’s posing great risks to us. According to America’s Health Rankings, one out of five Minnesotans reports doing little to no physical activity other than their regular job in the past month. What’s sad is that Minnesota is one of the more active states. And a 2011 Harvard University study found that Americans watched an average of five hours of TV a day. The study found that just two hours of watching TV a day led to a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Previous studies have linked higher amounts of television viewing to obesity and high blood pressure. The study’s researchers suggested the novel idea of turning off the TV and going for a walk. 38 • February 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Photo courtesy of Blue Earth County Historical Society

Once upon a time, an abundance of farm work ensured daily physical activity. Today, even 20 minutes of physical activity can require some planning. A study that gained a lot of attention last year was one that reported sitting for 11 or more hours a day can increase risk of death by 40 percent, regardless of the amount of physical activity done during the day. (Emphasis mine). That changed my mindset. I’m not a fan of sitting for long stretches anyway — I get restless. But I have been trying to incorporate more activity during the workday to break up long periods of sitting. I might do a few minutes of yoga before lunch, and if the Sakatah Trail is decent, I take my dog for a walk. My job involves many phone meetings, so I try to stretch or do light weights during calls if I can. If you sit all day, other good options are getting a treadmill desk or standing station, sitting on a yoga ball instead of a chair or walking laps around the office. Spring always brings with it a renewed energy and commitment to become more active. New Year’s resolutions may have fallen away, but now is a great time to pick those back up. At least we have some additional evening daylight hours to look forward to. On March 10, later sunsets return thanks to Daylights Savings Time. We will begin March with just over 11 hours of daylight. By the end of the month, we’ll have a full 12 hours and 44 minutes, according to the Astronomical Observations Department at the U.S. Naval Observatory. What will you do with the extra hour-and-a-half of sun? Watch television, or make little changes to increase your activity levels? If you do the latter, your grandparents would be proud. M

Rachael Hanel lives and writes in Madison Lake. She tweets at @Rachael18.

Benedictine Court Senior Housing Where Aging and Choice Come Together Providing Excellent Service in: • Janitorial Services • Window Washing • Carpet Cleaning • Water, Fire & Smoke • Hard Floor Care Restoration

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You’ve made smart choices your whole life. Deciding to move to Benedictine Court in St. Peter is just another smart choice. Discover freedom from cooking, home maintenance, housekeeping and other chores, allowing you the time to enjoy the things that are most important to you. Appreciate the added peace of mind in knowing that healthcare is available, if you need it, for as long as you need it. Benedictine Court offers a unique setting that has interior access to the Benedictine Health Center nursing home, two clinics and a hospital all just down the hall.

To schedule a visit or to learn more, call 507-934-8817 or visit our new website,

1906 N. Sunrise Drive, St. Peter, MN MANKATO MAGAZINE • March 2013 • 39

That’s Life

By Nell Musolf

The death of the lively art


n my lifetime I’ve seen many, many things meander down Memory Lane, apparently never to resurface again. Among them are thank-you notes, Christmas cards and vinyl records. Fortunately, most things that become antiquated are replaced by something new that might not be necessarily an improvement but is usually better than nothing. I don’t think that’s going to be the case with one aspect of social interaction that seems to be limping along to a slow a painful death: the lively art of conversation. One of the things I truly enjoy doing is going to a restaurant and eavesdropping on the conversations going on at the tables around me. Not in a-climbing-over-theback-of-the-booth-and demanding-that-theother-parties-repeat-what-they-just-said kind of way, but in a casual, wow-your-lifeis-WAY-more -interesting-than-mine manner. Listening in on those conversations is like being a part of a real-life soap opera and it almost always makes me appreciate the somewhat sedate pace of my own world to an even greater degree. However, of late I’ve noticed that restaurant conversations seem to be drying up faster than a sidewalk puddle on a hot day in July. Instead of talking to each other, people eating out are often busily texting other people who aren’t eating out with them, resulting in no one saying a word to anyone else at the table except when the waiter stops by wanting to know who’s ready for another drink. People no longer seem to understand — or care — what a conversation is 40 • MArch 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

supposed to consist of. Maybe I’m wrong but I’ve always been under the belief that a conversation is when I say something to you, you listen and then say something back to me. Then I say something to you and so on and so on until the conversation is over. Oh, and that elusive “something” has to be more than a generic “How are you?” At least, that’s how I remember conversations being. Conversations have evolved from verbal tennis matches into murky double monologues where one person talks about what is on his mind/life/Facebook page while the other person impatiently waits for him to finish so that she can talk about what’s on her mind/life/Facebook page. Sometimes they don’t even wait for the other person to stop talking but instead pull out their cell phone and start texting another person to get a head start on yet another monologue of the cyber variety. People no longer have conversations; they have recitations instead. This truly perplexes me. Conversations are supposed to involve more than one person and more than one point of view. They are supposed to be about learning something about how other people think, feel and react to the world around them. It helps if they occur in real time and involve a little eye contact every now and then. Not every conversation a person has is going to be earth-shattering or even all that interesting; but as we lose the ability to even feign interest in other people’s lives, what’s going to vanish next? Mother’s Day? And can anyone say in all honesty that

they are positive that whatever they have to say is categorically more interesting than anything anyone else could possibly come up with? I don’t think so. It wouldn’t be fair to blame cell phones, video games or emails for the lack of conversational skills plaguing our society at the moment because many people who stink at having conversations are not in the under-30 crowd. Lousy conversationalists know no age boundaries. My sister, who is no spring chicken, regularly goes on the computer or texts other people while we’re talking on the telephone and when I ask her why she bothered to call me if she’s going to check her email while I’m telling her all the fascinating details of what’s going on in my life, she’ll reply: “Oh, I can do two things at once.” Well, maybe. But believe me, she isn’t doing either of them very well and she’s also ticking off her only sibling royally in the process. Maybe I’m in the minority as someone who misses having honest-to-goodness conversations with living, breathing people as opposed to a cell phone or Facebook pal. Maybe I’m too sensitive and expecting too much by wanting people to ask me how I am and have them be truly interested in my response. All I know for sure is that the once lively art seems to have died a slow death and never even received a decent burial. M Nell Musolf is a mom and a freelance writer from Mankato.

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix 1

Twins Caravan 1. Hannah Ryan enjoys making faces with her cotton candy almost as much as she enjoys eating it. 2. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire signs a bobblehead for a fan. 3. Terry Steinbach signs a cardboard cutout that will be auctioned off for charity. 4. T.C. Bear stops to pose with Haley and Shaya Zabel, and Christian Kroc. 5. The crowd enjoyed hotdogs, popcorn and other baseball fare while they waited for the program to begin.





MANKATO MAGAZINE • March 2013 • 41

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Mankato Craft Beer Expo 1. Festival attendees barter and place bets on whether or not friends can strike & nail into the wood stool with one swing.

4. A group of friends takes a break from their drinks for a photo opportunity at the Mankato Craft Beer Expo on Jan. 19.

2. Julie Hahn (far left) samples a few brews with her friend during the craft beer show.

6. Sean Mchugh pours Chris Lewis a sample at the Mankato Craft Beer show on Jan. 19.

3. Charley Swanson discusses his products with a couple at the show.


5. Festival attendees don mustaches at the Mankato Area Craft Beer Expo.


3 4


42 • MArch 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Mankato Bridal Show


1. Crystal Curtis (left) and Jenny Jones look over wedding options at the Mankato Area Bridal Show. 2. Tami Noyola (left) listens as Jenna Odegard talks about the items featured in her booth at the Mankato Area Bridal Show. 3. A few friends share a laugh at the bridal show. 4. Models strike a pose for audience members capturing every moment on their iPads. 5. Employees Joe Guzman (middle) and Erika Servus (right) talk with two ladies about tuxedo rentals at the Bridal Show. 6. Corey Willard of Graif Clothing discusses tuxedo options with a few women at the Mankato Area Bridal Show. 7. Some of the male models show off their tuxedos with some interesting dance moves at the Mankato Area Bridal Show.







MANKATO MAGAZINE • March 2013 • 43

The Way It Is

By Pete Steiner

Paging through old yearbooks: Part 1


rying to flesh out details about a friend who had passed on, I went looking for my old high school yearbooks. Just where, in which strata of the sedimentation of our lives, might they have settled? One was stashed on a bookshelf in the basement. The other, I eventually discovered, had actually accomplished the migration to an upstairs shelf — probably, although I don’t exactly recall, for a research effort prior to a reunion some years back. While gathering the information I was originally seeking, I found the search evolving into an extended browsing session, details of which you are about to share. OTAKNAM is “Mankato” spelled backward. Long ago, some clever wordsmith decided that’s what the Mankato High School yearbook would be called. I went to MHS before the public high school was split into East and West, when there was only the building that currently houses West, down in “the slough,” as that old stream bed area of town was known. Inside my 1964 OTAKNAM, from my junior year, nearly every bit of white space on many of the pages carries handwritten inscriptions, quite a few of them from people I only dimly remember. Consider, we had 400 people in our class alone. You never wanted to be rude and say, NO, you can’t write in my book. After all, contemplating a run for class president in the upcoming senior year, even a 16-year-old had enough political sense to realize: You never blow anyone off. I drifted into a reverie reading some of the things my classmates had written, and especially, looking at the black and white photos. Handsome and talented Bill Kough crowning the homecoming 44 • MArch 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

queen. (Bill and I were to later share a double date on graduation night. Eventually, he would become one of very few ever granted conscientious objector status by the local draft board during the Vietnam War.) Oh, look, there some of us were, singing folk music at a “hootenanny” — the ‘60s version of a poetry slam or a flash mob. Turn another page and the caption on the prom picture says the theme was “Contemporary Climax.” Something tells me the PC censors would disallow that phrase in 2013. •••• Anyone who doubts the power of nostalgia need only turn on Public Television during one of their perpetual pledge drives. Seeking to shake the money tree, they trot out all the entertainment icons from the boomers’ youth. Even though those icons now are mostly paunchy and gray or balding, they still apparently bring the viewers delight, and the TV channel big bucks. Justin Bieber will be there in 2063, if there’s still public television. Of course, my era was romanticized by the film, “American Graffiti,” which portrayed ducktail hair and cruising the strip as a teen nirvana. For many of us, however, the times were more nuanced. Certainly, grabbing an ice-cold, 5-cent mug of root beer at the oak-shaded Oasis near Sibley Park is a fond memory. So is going to Pizza Kato or Marti’s Pizza on South Front after a football game. But I also recall a painful shyness. I look at pictures of two beautiful girls who never got asked out, one because she was so smart, she was intimidating; the other, I’m not sure why. Why hadn’t I been the one to step forward? •••• Could it be said that years are a process of scabbing, of time trying to heal its wounds? Then you open that yearbook, and you’re suddenly picking at those scabs. There’s the handsome football star, escorting his beautiful date at Prom. Everything looks so All-American. And

then you remember, he would later take his own life. There’s a photo of the beauty who would die too young of cancer. A photo of Denny Hauch, who drowned at Lake Washington the summer before his senior year. The photo of another great athlete who would die young in a plane crash. And a photo of Gerald Sack, who would die in Vietnam. For a moment, you contemplate why you were spared to write about them. But you quickly realize, you can’t have the answer to that question. •••• Without benefit from the context of time, all the moments and events portrayed in the OTAKNAM must have seemed so important, so significant. Some of them actually were. There’s the photo dedicating the book to the man after whom Todnem Field would be named. Standing in the empty basement locker room, Louis Todnem gazes pensively at nothing in particular, maybe contemplating his pending retirement after 41 memorable years as coach, teacher and athletics director. There are other great teachers, longdeparted, pictured in those pages. Marty Wiltgen. Harry Fitterer. Who could forget his fourth-hour English class — not just because of “Moby Dick,” but also because of the day Fitterer strode dramatically in after lunch hour, Nov. 22, 1963, declaring: “The President has been shot!” He assured us he would not joke about so serious a subject as this. Like 9-11, that moment is frozen in time for me. Fitterer was a once-in-a-lifetime teacher, who also directed the class play. In the fall of 1963, he decided the school would attempt its first-ever Broadway musical. That would change my life, as would two other monumental events that would occur before our 1965 graduation — one local, one international. Those things would confirm that our naive high school insularity was about to vanish. Maybe we can discuss them in next month’s magazine. M Pete Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE.




MANKATO MAGAZINE • MArch 2013 • 45

Mankato Magazine  

48-page magazine featuring the People, Places, Lifestyles of the Minnesota River Valley

Mankato Magazine  

48-page magazine featuring the People, Places, Lifestyles of the Minnesota River Valley