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LIVING 55 PLUS

How to help aging adults adapt to technology

GET TO WORK!

Also in this issue: A look into RESIDENTIAL LIFE at Minnesota State University Grab a bite at PATRICK’S ON THIRD Update your book list with Pete Steiner’s BOOKSHELF 2021

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GREENER DAYS AHEAD Great golf happens on great courses. And courses don’t get better than the ones on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. With 11 locations, 26 courses and more than 400 championship holes, the toughest challenge may be deciding which one to play first. Our golf courses and staff are ready to welcome you back to the legendary RTJ Golf Trail. Summer and fall golf packages available. We are open and will be here waiting for you. Visit rtjgolf.com.

2 • FEBRUARY 2021 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


FEATURE S FEBRUARY 2021 Volume 16, Issue 2

16

Work it! Local interior designers give tips on how to glam up your office at home

20

Weaving a new life A support group located in Mankato to help those who have lost their spouse

24

Residential life during a pandemic Community advisers at Minnesota State University learn new ways to help new students adapt to new experiences during a global pandemic

ABOUT THE COVER Denise David and Jes Tano of Whimsy & Weathered. David shared a few decorating tips on how to make working from home comfortable.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 3


DEPARTMENTS 6

From the Editor

8

This Day in History

9

Avant Guardians AJ Arburto

10 Beyond the Margin

9

February resilience and dining out(side)

12 Familiar Faces Pocket Toscani

14 Day Trip Destinations A walk through Native American history

28 Living 55 Plus 36 Let’s Eat!

10

Patrick’s on Third in St. Peter

38 Community Draws

Romantic goth walking date

39 Beer

Foundations February; Bellwether Brews

40 Country Minutes

The dogs of Oshawa Township, Part 13

36

38

41 Ann’s Fashion Fortunes

Tackle boxes, shag mullets, other identity crisis hacks

42 Garden Chat Winter sowing

44 From This Valley Bookshelf 2021

Coming in March

39 4 • FEBRUARY 2021 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

41

Annual photo issue!


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MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 5


FROM THE ASSOCIATE EDITOR By Diana Rojo-Garcia FEBRUARY 2021 • VOLUME 16, ISSUE 2 PUBLISHER Steve Jameson EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Diana Rojo-Garcia EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS Bert Mattson Dan Greenwood Jean Lundquist Kat Baumann Leticia Gonzalez Nicole Helget Ann Rosenquist Fee Pete Steiner Katie Leibel Nell Musolf PHOTOGRAPHERS Pat Christman PAGE DESIGNER Christina Sankey ADVERTISING Danny Creel SALES Jordan Greer-Friesz Josh Zimmerman Theresa Haefner Tim Keech ADVERTISING Barb Wass ASSISTANT ADVERTISING Christina Sankey DESIGNERS CIRCULATION Justin Niles DIRECTOR

Mankato Magazine is published by The Free Press Media monthly at 418 South Second St., Mankato MN 56001. To subscribe, call 1-800-657-4662 or 507-625-4451. $35.40 for 12 issues. For all editorial inquiries, call Diana Rojo-Garcia 507-344-6305, or email drojogarcia@mankatofreepress.com. For advertising, call 344-6364, or e-mail advertising@mankatofreepress.com.

6 • FEBRUARY 2021 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

All I want for Christmas is … a desk

M

ost remember the very first bike they received that they would eventually (or not) learn how to ride off into the sunset. Not me — I mean, I remember the bike. I remember taking the first couple of rolls with the pink training wheels and my parents scolding my older brother for removing them before I was ready. But there’s nothing in my mind that sticks out to me more than receiving, not a bike, but my very first desk, which I asked for in second grade — for Christmas. Ahh … I was a workaholic before I even knew it. The blue, red and yellow plastic workstation was around for as long as I could comfortably sit in it. That desk was loved — and abused at times with various crafts — every time I sat down to write one of the numerous poems or failed books. The desk was splattered with various stickers, coloring books, pens and my favorite Winnie the Pooh cookbook. It was perfect — it had a built-in pen holder, a “file drawer” full of incomplete coloring pages, and even a desk light for when I’d feel inspired beyond my bedtime. Looking at the desk I have now, 20-some years later, I can say it doesn’t look that much different. Except now it’s littered with empty Diet Coke cans and sticky notes. So. Many. Sticky notes. And the other small exception, I guess, is that I now get paid to be at this desk — though it’s not nearly as awesome as the desk I had as a kid. Like many people, since the beginning of the pandemic, I also have been working from home. Honestly … I may never go back to the office (sorry, bosses). The best part for me — an

anxiety-ridden mess — is working in the comfort of my home, in my raccoon onesie and snuggled with at least three blankets. Minimum. However, I wasn’t entirely sure how to set up my office. The first attempt was setting up shop in my bedroom — a big no-no. Even worse, I sat on my bed with a laptop lap desk. That was in our small apartment, though, where space was incredibly limited. My husband and I made it work. Then we moved into a new, more spacious home where each of us has an office to dedicate our workdays completely. But I didn’t have a desk. The hunt for one was almost as difficult as finding toilet paper during the pandemic. If only I’d kept my childhood desk. Once I found a desk, I started to set up my office, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought. I’d like to assume most people didn’t know how to set up their office for maximum comfort while working from home during the pandemic. So I reached out to Denise David, co-owner of Whimsy & Weathered in Mankato and Heather Buisman, interior designer at The Design Element, to give us tips on how to maximize a space you’ll want to show off in your Zoom meetings (that could have been an email) and love working in. Also in this issue: ■ One of our feature writers, Nell Musolf, speaks with a wonderful group called Weavers. Weavers is a support group for those whose spouse has died. Though the group hasn’t recently met in person due to the pandemic, members say it’s helpful to talk with


others who have gone through the same experience. ■ Kat Baumann’s cartoon takes you into a different kind of walk through Mankato. Check out the different graveyards in the area (and as she reminds readers, please remain respectful). ■ Thinking about writing a book for this year’s resolution? Award-winning author and Mankato Magazine columnist Nicole Helget provides some solid advice on how to start writing a book.

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THIS DAY IN HISTORY Compiled by Jean Lundquist

Heinrich hotel sale announced

Feb. 29, 1936 Built in 1905, the Heinrich Hotel was owned and operated by E.J. Himmelman, and then his estate after his death, for 31 years. When it was put up for sale, a Fairmont native living in Watertown, South Dakota, W.G.A. Burton purchased it. Soon it became known as the Burton Hotel. The hotel was closed while Burton completely remodeled, redecorated and refurbished the building. It was expected to open mid-March. No purchase price was reported.

Several runaways cause excitement on the street

Feb. 15, 1897 The City Hotel hostler was driving a bobsled with two children when a train came along and frightened the horse. After some distance, the bobsled turned bottoms up, imprisoning Joe Tessian and the young ones beneath it. Chief Yates was nearby and lifted the box, freeing all three. No one was injured, and the horse returned to the hotel a while later. Willie Jacoby was driving a horse and cutter when the horse became frightened and kicked free of the cutter. It ran up the hill with the thills dangling behind his heels. Meanwhile, a horse believed to belong to Wendell Hodapp ran away later and “made it lively on the streets traversed.”

Mankato running on empty

Feb. 23, 1989 According to some, the drought of 1988 was the worst since the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. So in early 1989, the city of Mankato started planning for the coming summer, not knowing if another drought was upon them. The Blue Earth River had all but dried up, meaning the water reserves took longer to fill, and the town was potentially in danger of wells going dry. That would leave the city relying on luck to keep water flowing to homes and businesses in the city. Council members didn’t like that idea, so they decided to build two more wells as back up for the four already serving the city. The main wells were near Sibley Park. The deep one, known as Number 5, and a large but shallow well, called the Ranney Well.

Performance begins Thursday

Feb. 14, 1979 The annual Orchesis performance at Mankato West High School promised to take the audience from home to Israel with stops in between in Hawaii, France, Rio and others. Called “At Home and Abroad,” the 40 dancers of Orchesis featured dances from hillbilly to jazz, disco, tap and many others. The 40 members of Orchesis danced as a large group and in duets. In a show running Thursday through Saturday, tickets were on sale for a dollar.

Snow sculpture at Minnesota State University vandalized

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Feb. 15, 2011 Jesse Ellerbroek, MSU grad and sculptor, had left his sculpture intact and in progress in Minnesota State University’s campus mall. The sculpture —- 12 feet high and 8 feet in diameter — “The Year of the Hare,” featuring two rabbits back to back, supporting a light bulb, had been vandalized. Ellerbroek’s sculpture had been damaged between late Feb. 11 or early Feb. 12. The sculptor’s tools had been chained up but his long shovel was not. The portion of the planet Earth and the muzzle of one of the rabbits were destroyed. Student Activities Associate Director Gregory T. Wilkins brought the sculptor to campus. The IMPACT Team had paid for the sculpture. Police were notified and a report was taken. Damages were estimated at $1,600


AVANT GUARDIANS By Leticia Gonzales

Functional Pottery Potter AJ Aburto fine tunes craft at Arts Center of Saint Peter

F

or AJ Aburto, a ceramic potter in St. Peter, pottery was an intricate part of growing up in Central America. “In my home country of Nicaragua, I was surrounded by a rich pottery tradition my entire life,” Aburto said. “In my community, women made ceramic dishes to cook tortillas and eat our traditional food. Men used a manual kick wheel to make decorative pottery. Beyond just the function of pottery, tourists purchased ornamental pottery as souvenirs.” Despite his upbringing, Aburto, 38, wasn’t formally introduced to pottery making until he was 25 years old. He was hired by Nicaraguan factory Filtron to fabricate water filters, which were purchased by nongovernmental organizations or NGOs. Two years later, in 2009, he began working for an NGO, Potters for Peace, where he managed development projects that supported Nicaraguan artisans. “My secondary role was to serve as a technical consultant for ceramic water filter factories in underdeveloped countries,” Aburto said. “While working for Potters for Peace, I focused on supporting artists, rather than producing my own work; however, the process of planning, performing, and participating in workshops offered me the opportunity to explore my personal interest in clay.” His life was transformed following the April 18, 2018, citizens protests against the Nicaraguan government’s tax increases. “These peaceful protests quickly escalated to violence, as a result my family relocated to the United States,” he said. “When I arrived in the U.S., I quickly found acceptance in the community of ceramic potters at the Art Center of Saint Peter and formed valuable friendships

Aburto’s pottery focuses on beauty and functionality. Courtesy AJ Aburto through the common language of clay.” His skills quickly flourished once he moved to the United States and was introduced to an electric wheel, pre-processed stoneware clay, and high fire electric and gas kilns. “In Nicaragua, I only had access to low fire terracotta clay that was locally dug up and processed. I could only fire pottery in a wood kiln because the cost of energy was too expensive to fire with gas or electric kilns. Since my pots were fired to a low temperature, I could not use glazes, so my pieces had to be heavily burnished and chattered to create texture and decoration.” Aburto also gained experience by attending art fairs, conferences, and workshops, while also training alongside other artists, which exposed him to new techniques. “What I have enjoyed the most is the ability to glaze pottery with

bright and colorful lead-free food safe glazes; however, I continue to burnish and chatter each piece to achieve delicate and detailed results,” he said. “I also continue to make my own tools from salvaged materials rather than simply buying them from the clay supply store.” Whether he is working in Nicaragua or St. Peter, Aburto said he has been able to exchange ideas with other artists and is inspired by the vibrant colors found in nature from his tropical homeland. “I enjoy using white clay bodies like porcelain or white stoneware so the colors are purer and less obscured by darker clay. I focus on making functional pots such as a mug that fits comfortably in the hand or a teapot that doesn’t dribble in addition to serving as a decorative piece that can be elegantly displayed when not in use.” MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 9


BEYOND THE MARGIN By Joe Spear

February resilience and dining out(side) H

alfway through winter, February can test our resilience. The things we miss in our COVID-19 world have become all too clear nearly a year into the pandemic. And the losses can manifest themselves in sometimes extreme ways if we’re not careful. The American Psychological Association in a recent survey notes about 30% of Americans showed symptoms of depression a month or so into the pandemic — triple the usual number. But stoic Minnesotans mostly don’t make a visit to a therapist as the first line of defense. More likely the last. In between, there are behaviors we adopt as a way to ease into compensating for what has been lost. And, of course, columns like this can be one of those adaptations as long as you’re willing to wait for the silver lining at the end of the 800 words of depressing thoughts. But think of it like a winter sunset beyond barren trees that actually offers more of a view than a summer sunset. The leaves aren’t in the way, and you’re more likely to see more of the sun drop behind a prairie horizon. Over the last year, we’ve worked through our stayat-home orders and our shutdowns. We got used to

10 • FEBRUARY 2021 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

summer dining outdoors and 50% capacity indoors. We got used to COVID tests on every corner. The governor eventually told us not to invite friends over to watch the Vikings game but raised hope we could do the Twins opener in person. Maybe. We went to great lengths to study the numbers and not leave the house without knowing the seven-day moving average of COVID cases from Pipestone to Grand Marais. And the death counts were depressing with even the objective press calling them dreadful. Because, of course, they were. And just for good measure along the way, 2020 offered riots spurred by racial injustice and an election spurred by, well, how we think about racial injustice and a number of other things, not the least of which included the tripling of our annual budget deficit. When the election came, some 80 million or so cursed the devil of their choice in unison. ■■■■ Another shutdown came before the holidays hit, but the restaurants could still offer service outside. In January. February. So the thought of dining outdoors in February


offered somewhat of a respite for the desperate. A gray-haired woman took the table to the west and ordered a vodka. The waitress brought the heater over that was just about at the height of the lady’s gray hair that was destined for blue. She was a small woman from the vertical measure but not so much from the horizontal one. As she turned her back to the glowing propane heater, her jacket started to smoke ever so slightly. She turned back around but repeated the exercise again this time, with the faux husky fur of her parka coming dangerously close to the propane element. I stood ready to help her stop, drop and roll but then thought twice that being a spectator would be more fun and safe as others more agile than me might be able rescue her more quickly as my knee had not fully healed from throwing large tree limbs into the ravine. But it didn’t happen and she continued to entertain as she twirled from time to time and gave her audience the secret hope they have when they attend NASCAR races. These are the risks of dining out in the COVID-19 era. But we take them nonetheless because we miss going out, observing and connecting with

others — be it only the winter chill that binds us. In fact, we’re more cheerful when we get to do normal activities in elements we would previously avoid, well, like the plague. Then there were the Bloomington hockey grandmas at the Badger Hill Brewing Co. near the horse-racing track in Shakopee. The Badger Hill folks seem fun with a dose of serious, according to their website which states its three pillars of operating a brewpub: “Be sustainable, Be a great place to work,” and, my favorite: “Be f-----g pro.” The hockey grandmas are ordering more craft beer — peanut butter stout at 6.3% ABV — than they’re likely able to consume reasonably, and they’re checking with the husband to see what they could bring home. The cherry beer sounds interesting until it was discovered it was $20 a bottle. “He said just forget it.” Outdoor dining in February, or January, for that matter, is a new thing, but one like other Minnesota winter adaptations that will soon come to be embraced with bravado on par with ice fishing. Just as we Minnesotans learn to say “20 below isn’t that bad if there’s no wind,” we’ll soon

come to say, “Dining outside in Minnesota winter is no big deal.” In fact, a restaurant in Verndale began setting up ice houses on its outdoor dining space. Reservations were overflowing and so was the celebration as one Star Tribune scribe noted the more cocktails arrived, the more lively the parties got. Restaurant entrepreneur Brian Hagen of the Pirates Den also owns an ice house manufacturing company and had a light bulb idea. The phone was ringing off the hook and the ice houses were full of diners reeling in Base Ale instead of bass, Coors instead of crappies and Pilsner instead of pike. Hagen said dining outdoors in fish houses went so well that he’ll probably keep it up all winter. And for that, he deserves our gratitude. Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at jspear@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6382. Follow on Twitter @jfspear.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 11


FAMILIAR FACES

The Sculptor Professor worked at Chicago’s Field Museum and Children’s Museum in St. Paul

O

Photos by Pat Christman

NAME:

Pocket Toscani HOMETOWN: Dayton, Ohio

WHAT’S WORSE: LAUNDRY OR DISHES?

Laundry, I like doing the dishes … sort of.

COFFEE OR TEA? Both

FAVORITE ONE-HIT WONDER

Probably the U of M Sculpture. I think that will be in my obituary.

12 • FEBRUARY 2021 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

n the corner of Second and Walnut streets is Pocket Toscani’s sculpture “After Party.” Toscani’s sculpture is one of two dozen displayed across Mankato and lower North Mankato as part of its 2020 Walking Sculpture Tour. The artist’s work has been featured across the nation, and Toscani also teaches sculpting in Minnesota State University’s art department. As a professor, Toscani instills hardwork and commends those who display their passion in their art. Toscani’s life advice is concrete: Don’t give up and keep going and show up. “This is how the world works. This is how you create luck,” she said. “This is how you are in the right place at the right time. … Take risks. Be out there and try. No one is discovered in their living room. You have to put your body outside your house.” MANKATO MAGAZINE: What have you been doing to adapt during the pandemic? POCKET TOSCANI: I only go to the grocery store and the hardware store. I always wear a mask too. I split my classes up into halves — still meeting every two days but more distance between us. And sanitizing the tools and tables. MM: Your piece “After Party” is located in downtown Mankato. What was the inspiration behind this piece? PT: It was very intuitive. I just started drawing. I did an outdoor sculpture about 10 years ago that was stacked forms, but it was also crushed and distressed by an auto crusher. I didn’t want to do that here, but I did start sketching stacked forms. What I liked about this composition was its awkwardness. It looked like the forms were just dumped out of a bag. Some of the forms are just about to fall, at least it appears that way. So this relates to a moment in time. Right before a wave crashes into the beach, or an intake of air. I like that suspension. The colors I chose ended up a bit happier than I envisioned. I still think they work, but they are so easy on the eyes. I wanted one or two to be a bit more pukey. That pink was to be a little more tertiary, toward yellow/pink. I just read a quote from Fairfield Porter, a great


painter from the midcentury, “The right color will fix any composition.” Mostly true, I think. The color is where the title comes from. To me it felt like the morning after a ripping good party.

queen ant. It was where I met my life partner. I always say it was like flirting in a large intestine. She was the mural painter there — and still is. The anthill is gone now, but they still have the fiberglass queen ant.

MM: You’ve had pieces exhibited across the state from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul’s Sculpture Park and Franconia Sculpture Park. What initially attracted you to the art of sculpting? PT: Something really felt different inside of me. In college I felt I was mostly lost with 2-D work, I could do this or that style, whatever. It always felt arbitrary. Then I took a metal sculpture class, and I felt like I knew what I was doing — even if I didn’t. The process was just so fun. I can’t explain it. That’s what I stress to my classes is to have fun. Really enjoy it, it is like bliss. I mean you have to work. Really hard in fact, but there must be something you are chasing. I see it in some of my students. This is what life is all about. Find something you love and pursue it, stalk it, get better at it. It is about tenacity. And don’t give up. I know I sound like an old British admiral, but never give up! It’s true. The secret is momentum. It doesn’t happen very often because life gets in the way. But good art begets good art. The hardest part is starting. Sorry, I went off on a tangent.

MM: The last 15 years, you’ve been teaching sculpting. What’s your favorite part about teaching? PT: I love the students. I can’t believe I am saying that because they also drive me crazy. I try to have fun in my classes while pushing them to push themselves. They are really great people — most of them. I feel like I understand them, I used to be one of them. So I am always on their side, even when they think I’m not. I love when they put their shoulders into the class. I had one student this semester that I called out on the last day. I told the class she was not afraid to succeed. She really did put her all into every project, she wasn’t afraid to do her best and to show her devotion. It was really cool to witness. I love that toughness in students. I always tell them to expect more from themselves. They have so much grit and heart they don’t even know it yet. That’s why resistance is so good for them; they find out they have infinite potential.

MM: You worked at The Field of Museum of Natural History then moved to the Twin Cities to work at the Children’s Museum in St. Paul. What was your job like and what did you like most about it? PT: The Field Museum was amazing. Really amazing. It is a natural history museum so it has collections in sociology/culture, zoology, biology and plants — you name it. I worked in production, so I was one of many that built the exhibits. We made molds of a mastodon’s head, welded steel mounts for prehistoric ammonites, created fake habitats for the taxidermy, and erected dinosaur skeletons. FUN! Just to name a few things. One day we all came to work to be greeted by some awful smell. We found out, the biologists were boiling wolves down to their bones. That museum is the eighth wonder of the world. I used to eat my lunch in front of three shrunken heads. Now I think all human remains have been repatriated, or at least removed from the public. The Field Museum was started from the 1893 Columbian World’s Fair, so their collections are amazing, but they also were not very humanitarian about gathering artifacts or animals. I had a friend in “Birds.” He would take me to the hall, which was as big as a warehouse, and open up drawers of snowy owls, or 1-inch hummingbirds, or toucans. It went on and on. Some collected at the turn of the century so they can compare birds of today. I also saw a Coelacanth fish. It was thought to be extinct — super rare. It was kept in a trunk full of formaldehyde. This scientist just pulled its head out of this dark case. And I got to see the real Archaeopteryx fossil. The link between birds and dinosaurs. Cool! The Children’s Museum was also fantastic. It has no collections obviously, but I got to build the anthill! Now I meet 30-year-olds that have been through the anthill. This might be in my obituary, too. It was a human-sized maze that mimicked an anthill, full of tunnels and the queen ant chamber. I also built the

MM: Who is the most creative person you know? PT: Todd Shanafelt — he teaches ceramics at the same time as I do. His work reflects his expansive mind. He doesn’t discard any option to resolving a piece. His work is really fresh and smart. When I look at his art, there is a first impression, then I look a little more analytically and Todd’s work keeps giving. I start to notice the little details that tie into the overall logic of the piece. His work has an element of surprise, which I love. Like “How did he come up with that?” MM: Tell us about a time that you started a sculpture — or any piece of art — that ended up taking a different direction. PT: I used to collect baskets from the thrift stores. Every time I went I bought one or two. So I had quite a few. What I loved about them was this mad structure of the surface, talk about labor. That woven morphology was already to go, I just had to put them together. Well, I did and it was so bad, so I kept working on it. It was still bad. I was embarrassed that my studio mates could see it. The problem was it looked like baskets sewn together — it never transcended the object. It was what it was exactly. It was so stupid. I just ended up donating the baskets back to the thrift store. But I often think I should start collecting baskets again, and trying to collaborate with the material once more. MM: Anything else you’d like to add? PT: I do have quite a few collections. I collect landscape paintings, ceramic tchotchkes, plastic sleds, anything plastic, macrame, jigsaw puzzles, letters like abc etc.,albums, books for collage, Lincoln logs, parade float material, vinyl flooring, TV trays. Sculptors have to have so much stuff. We also have to have a truck and a large studio. I think it is more difficult to be a sculptor than any other artist, this is why we are better than them. Oh, and I forgot — one other collection — my own sculpture. Compiled by Diana Rojo-Garcia MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 13


DAY TRIP DESTINATIONS: NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY By Katie Leibel | Photos courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

The Lower Sioux Agency site features a visitor center and self-guided trails that interpret agency and Dakota history.

Native American History Minnesota dedicates many sites to Native history with educational programs, exhibits

T

his month we travel all over the state to learn more about history, specifically, the history of Indigenous people in Minnesota as this is an important part of our story. After all, the words “Minnesota” and “Mankato” come from Native languages. With many museums and attractions closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, visiting historic sites might not be as easy as it would be in years past, but some adaptations have been made to continue efforts to educate.

Bois Forte Heritage Center and Cultural Museum

Just down the road from the Fortune Bay Resort and Casino on Lake Vermilion, you can find the Bois Forte Heritage Center and Cultural Museum. The site includes many activities — educational and

14 • FEBRUARY 2021 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

recreational — for those stuck with the winter blues. The museum, owned and operated by the Bois Forte Band, is dedicated to telling the Bois Forte Ojibwe story, as their name, Atisokanigamig, or Legend House, implies. This group is one of seven in the Minnesota Chippewa tribe. “We have ice fishing available at the Fortune Bay Marina, snowmobile trails and the resort where you can stay and visit for the weekend or however long you intend to stay,” said Kyle Littlewolf, the visitor service manager. Guests can enjoy these activities and learn about the Bois Forte, with context not found in most history books. “We found our way migrating through the Great Lakes and fought for our lands. We also had visions of finding the food that grew on water, which lead us to where we are now,” Littlewolf said.


Guests can learn about Bois Forte culture by taking a tour through the museum. Due to the pandemic, they are not giving guided tours but are happy to help with any questions that may arise. They also have walking trails right outside the building to explore the scenery. They also offer culture classes on Thursdays, usually at 3 p.m. Visitors come from all over the world to learn about the culture and visit their exhibits. Exhibits include a lifeway exhibit, a birch bark dwelling, veterans’ wall, mural of mitigation, boarding school exhibit and much more. Many items displayed were repatriated from other museums, donated by various people or artwork contributed by tribal members. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission prices and more about their history and what the museum features are available on their website: boisforteheritagecenter. com.

Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site

Established by the U.S. government in 1853, this is the site where the U.S.-Dakota War broke out in 1862, a war many Mankato area residents are familiar with. The result of the war was the mass execution of 38 Dakota men on Dec. 26, 1862, in Mankato. The Lower Sioux historic site is along County Highway 2, nine miles east of Redwood Falls. Visitors can check out the visitor center and self-guided tour to learn more about Dakota history. The goal of its interpretive program is “to accurately and sensitively portray the powerful and complicated history of the site as well as its historical context,” said Heather Koop, head of the society’s southern district historic sites. The Lower Sioux Agency is managed by the Lower Sioux Indian Community, a transition that took place back in 2009 to create an opportunity to expand the use of the site by operating the facility as a year-round cultural center as well as a historic site. This site includes a Dakota history exhibit, a restored 1861 U.S. government building, scenic Minnesota River trails and a museum store featuring Native

The Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post includes a museum dedicated to the history of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. American books and gifts. The site includes three selfguided trail experiences. The first trail is a half-mile wheelchair accessible walk to the 1861 Agency Warehouse. The second is also wheelchair accessible and leads visitors through the Traders Trail on a one-mile loop past interpretive panels and through restored prairie. And lastly, the most challenging River Trail — non-wheelchair accessible — takes visitors into floodplain forest and along the Minnesota River for one mile. Face coverings are required during visits and those exploring the area are asked to maintain a distance of 6 feet from other visitors and staff. “The sites around Mankato all have significant Native American content,” said Jessica Kohen, the public relations manager of the Minnesota Historical Society. Downtown Mankato visitors and residents alike are able to visit multiple statues remembering the mass execution and the lives lost. But travelling around the state to the other sites, including this one where the conflict originally broke out, helps people to learn more about this group including their culture, the true nature of the conflict and more information on a group of people wronged long ago. .

Learning more about our story

Minnesota is rich with historical sites, Native American history and literature.

While many sites are not open amid the pandemic, multiple are still attempting to allow people to learn from home. “The best we can do is share history content that you can explore from the comfort of your couch,” Kohen said. Before heading out to discover more about Minnesota’s past, Kohen shares some advice about great places to visit, even with the pandemic raging on. “Any visit should start with the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post since the museum is dedicated to sharing the story of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. The trading post is open year-round, but the museum closes seasonally in fall,” Kohen said. This restored 1930s trading post allows visitors to learn about the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe through museum exhibits, objects, demonstrations and tours. “There is great Native American content shared at Historic Fort Snelling and more programs are being developed each year as we work more closely with Native American partners to revitalize the site. Across the river the Sibley Historic Site shares Native American history as it connects to the Fur Trade,” Kohen said. It’s clear that however far or not one cares to travel, there is plenty to learn and explore surrounding Native American history in Minnesota. Whether you take our suggestions, Kohen’s or decide to forge your own path, don’t forget to share your experiences with us at Katie.leibel1998@gmail.com. MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 15


Heather Buisman, interior decorator at The Design Element for four years. Photo courtesy The Design Element 16 • FEBRUARY 2021 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Top: Jess Tano arranging a client’s office. Trays, as pictured, are a great organizational tools all working essentials in once place. Left: Denise David (left) and Jess Tano decorate a client’s office. Right: Baskets can make a difference. Whimsy & Weathered suggests adding baskets to keep an office nice and tidy. Photo by Pat Christman

Work It

The Design Element, Whimsy & Weathered provide tips for at-home offices

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By Diana Rojo-Garcia

o-workers gathering around the doughnut box holding quirky coffee-stained mugs have been replaced by running to the kitchen for a refill between Zoom meetings. Instead of commute time, you have slipper-boot find. Cubicles replaced by domiciles. The office is simultaneously home now for so many workers during the pandemic that we’ve had to create a new space for our new routine.

It’s been a change that — much like a whole bunch of other things during the pandemic — office workers had to learn to adapt a living space into a functional work space. Although separating a living space and a working station can be a very fine, and at times blurred, line, there are ways to make a workday at home more comfortable and productive with some small improvements. MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 17


David said. Trays and baskets make it convenient to place all work tools — laptop, notebooks, files, etc. — in one place when a space is transformed later into, for example, a dining area. “It’s a simplistic form to keep clutter and mess organized,” David said. “Shifting back and forth into different stations like that, it feels hard to feel organized.” Other uncommon spaces in a home can become a cozy area to work comfortably at, such as an alcove or even a hall closet, Buisman said. And some had luck looking for a desk at the dawn of the workingfrom-home transition while others found it difficult to find one available as the demand grew. With just a little bit of creativity, a unique and functional desk can be made at home. “Utilizing a dresser or console table as your desk platform can also be a suitable makeshift option,” Buisman said.

Tools, tips for success

An office designed by The Design Element. Set your office by a window to bring in natural light. Courtesy The Design Element “The first thing I always ask a Give me some space client is, ‘How does the space need OK, so you work from home to function?’” David said. until further notice. Now what? A kitchen or dining table, for Some office workers have the example, could easily be luxury of dedicating a whole room transformed into a place of work to an office space, but for others, a but consider its other purpose, part of their home has gained a such as eating dinner at night. dual purpose. “Functionality is the number one The key in turning a living room, question,” David said. reading nook or even a kitchen Buisman suggests to avoid table into a functional workstation placing a designated office in a is to create an “office zone.” place that may have high traffic, be “Consider carving out a small dimly lit or is a dingy basement. amount of space in a secondary Giving yourself tools to succeed is area, like a guest bedroom, loft or key, Buisman said. formal dining room,” said Heather “Location is the best place to Buisman, interior designer at The start!” Design Element of Mankato. For shared spaces, such as a But first, consider the kitchen table, David suggests trays functionality of the room, said or baskets to easily, and Denise David, co-owner of aesthetically, contain all work Whimsy and Weathered in necessities. Mankato. “You can contain mess in a tray,” 18 • FEBRUARY 2021 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Plan out your office space accordingly and think about what is needed for a productive day. Think about what is needed — a computer, file organizer, work platform — and rearrange as needed. One of the most overlooked steps in creating a work space, David said, is a power source. Moving a desk in the middle of the room might be aesthetically pleasing but perhaps not be feasible. Instead, David suggests working around where a power source is to create an office that works best for you. Otherwise, play around with the idea of hiding cords under a rug, which prevents inevitably tripping over wires. Storage and organizing are other main factors to keep in mind. “Anytime space is at a premium, get the most out of it by building from the ground up,” Buisman said. “Fill a wall with modular shelving and use surrounding vertical space to maximize your storage potential.” And don’t forget about all those mandatory ergonomic training sessions. Make sure your chair, keyboard, mouse and computer are set up correctly to prevent any future health issues. This also includes adequate lighting. “Having a light source, such as a


lamp, is huge,” David said. Whimsy and Weathered always looks for opportunities in their clients’ space for different lighting options, especially task lighting. “Often when we are doing something that has a desk area, we know that giving someone task lighting will help the environment of the computer space,” David said. Adding a dedicated light prevents straining to see the monitor. “If you spend a few dollars on comfort things, you’ll be so much happier as you go along,” David said. “Those are important things that will make the day easier.” Having your work space also placed by a window adds not only natural lighting but a small dose of nature during a work period. “When deciding where to set up my temporary home office space, I made sure to set my desk by a window because I love the outdoors,” Buisman said. Success can be found in small additions of tools in a workspace, too. Such as Buisman’s essentials such as drawer dividers, file storage and desk organizers, along with storage boxes to keep the space tidy. Having a separate space from regular living areas isn’t just essential to prevent distractions but also to separate work life from life life, David said. The recent trend of she-sheds has been used for an office space, which provides some with the routine of leaving their home to a work space. Though not everyone has the opportunity for a separate building or dedicated room, it’s still important to take a mental break at home, David said.

Adding pizzazz

Now that you’ve rearranged your office to its full potential, make that space your own. Buisman and David both suggest adding a little something special to a workspace to make it cozy. “We always talk about personalizing your space if you have the luxury of having an office,” David said. “Function first, personalize second.” Whimsy and Weathered like to call the personalization step in an office space “the frosting.” Items range from a few photo frames of loved ones, mementos from vacations or Grandma’s chachkies, David said. Buisman also suggests leveling

This office designed by The Design Element makes the space work. Heather Buisman suggest adding shelving above a work space to maximize the area. Photo courtesy The Design Element up comfort by adding a favorite piece of art. “When we start a project, we ask our clients ‘What do you have a kinship to?’” David said. “We want to work that into the design.” These items are something that can inspire you as you work, Buisman said. And adding any type of personal item to a space can make it into a space you love going into. Plants — real or not, no one’s judging — can elevate the room’s presence, too, especially during the long Minnestoan winters, David said. “If you come into my house, it has plants … It’s something that makes a (space) feel warm and soft,” David said. “It makes a space welcoming and feel alive.” David also emphasizes finding

any kind of organizational item at hand, such as a tray or bucket. Not only are these useful to move around office supplies from one room to another but also keep the room looking organized. Think of adding some other homey details to an office such as a cozy area rug. “Having a desk and a comfy office chair marks the starting point when creating a happy and productive workspace,” Buisman said. Or try out some of Buisman’s favorite decor items such as bespoke items paired with chic office accessories. “Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean it has to be minimal,” Buisman said. MM

MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 19


Left: John Dorn lost his wife, Kathy, in 2016. Dorn said it is comforting to be with others who have experienced losing a spouse. Right: Donna Appel joined Weavers after losing her husband, Dick, in 2014.

Weaving a new life

Weavers, a support group of those who lost their spouse, give members a chance to connect By Nell Musolf | Photos by John Cross and Pat Christman

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very Thursday morning, at least not during a pandemic, a group of people ages 55 and older meets at Christ the King Church in Mankato. The Weavers gives members support as they process the loss of a spouse. The group began about 20 years ago and was originally under the leadership of a hospice worker and met at what was then Immanuel St. Joseph hospital. The original group focused more on grief support, which worked very well for some of the members. But some participants wanted a more social kind of group where the members got to know each other a little more closely. That was when Weavers was born, thusly named because the group was founded to help people weave their lives into a new normal. “Life is never the same after the death of a spouse,” said member Donna Appel, “so that is what is meant by ‘new normal.’” Appel joined the group after losing her husband of 44 years, Dick, in May 2014. She said each meeting focuses on a different topic, and not necessarily grief. “We don’t focus on grief. We focus on different things such as reading a story from a ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ book or something like that. The group

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isn’t about grief. It’s about support,” Appel said. Weavers has provided Appel and other members to get to know people who are going through the same thing and also offer advice that they’ve learned themselves. “I tell people that if their spouse was good at doing the outdoor things around the house, they’d be smart to learn how to do them, too. And if their spouse did things like pay the bills and take care of the paperwork such as taxes, they need to learn how to do those things as well. After you lose your spouse, you have to figure it out yourself, and you can,” Appel said. Member John Dorn lost his wife, Kathy, in 2016, a loss he said a person never quite gets over. The couple had been married since 1965. “I had lost parents, a sibling, aunts and uncles, and I thought I was prepared,” Dorn said. “Losing a spouse is a different journey. It does get softer over time, but it doesn’t go away. That’s what brings people to join the group.” Dorn said it is comforting to be with people who have gone through the same thing. “Sometimes new people focus on what they are going through, and I think that is very helpful for them.


Marcia Stroup has been leading Weavers since the fall of 2019. Stroup lost her husband, Gary, after 45 years of marriage. Photo by Pat Christman We all take turns sharing, but it isn’t about grief and suffering. It’s about our daily doings. It’s an hour of support for all of us,” he said. Dorn also noted that men in the group can be different from the female members. “I don’t mean to denigrate men, but I have noticed that men can be not quite as alert as women. I can remember being at a party with Kathy where the men talked about how the Vikings were doing. Afterward, Kathy would say to me something like, ‘Isn’t that sad that his mother died?’ I think women are more aware of what’s going on and that perhaps helps them process grief a little more easily. Men seem to come at grief differently,” Dorn said. He said even though his wife is not with him physically, her essence travels with him wherever he goes. “I think about Kathy all the time, and she is always with me. That’s a BLESSING. Not a sorrow, but a joy.” Marcia Stroup has been leading the group since the fall of 2019. Like other members, she sees the group as a way to help a grieving spouse move on. Stroup lost her husband, Gary, after 45 years of marriage. “Gary and I lived in Rose Creek, where the population is about 400 people. Our daughter and son went to college at Minnesota State University, Mankato and then stayed here,” Stroup said. When her husband’s health

began to decline, he decided the time had come for the couple to move to Mankato to be closer to their children. “Our son is in real estate and Gary told him, ‘Mom is coming up to find a house,’” Stroup said. After moving to Mankato, much of Stroup’s time was occupied taking care of her husband. After he died, she realized she didn’t know many people in the Mankato area other than her children. Stroup joined a woman’s group, but it wasn’t the right fit for her. Then she found the Weavers. “When I first joined the Weavers, the group was very large, around 40 people,” Stroup said. “I went three times and wasn’t ready. I waited another five months and decided to go back.” Stroup is glad she gave the group another try. “This group really welcomes everyone with open arms. We are social and that’s good for us. We can talk about our spouses and we can talk about our days. We just talk and being able to talk openly is so helpful. You never get over it, but you do go on. It isn’t a quick fix, but it helps,” Stroup said. Sheldon Baulke joined the Weavers after his wife died in 2016. “At first I hesitated about going,” Baulke said, “but I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. The people are so friendly. We don’t talk only about our losses. We talk about day-to-day things and what our week was like. If you’ve had a bad

week and wanted to talk about it, you get it out there and the other people listen.” Baulke said he’s a little different from the other members in that he has lost two spouses, his first wife in 1991 and his second in 2016. “The group gets you going. You’re doing more socializing, you’re with other people. It’s helped me a lot,” Baulke said. Ivadell Hunter joined the Weavers in 2004 after the passing of her husband, Jim. “They are like such a family to me,” Hunter said. Hunter, who is 85, said she isn’t always able to make it to every meeting, although she tries to since she enjoys the meetings so much. “I go if I feel good, and I always try to go when we have our outing,” Hunter said. She noted that for her the second year after her husband’s death was harder than the first, something she’s noticed happening for others as well. “Family is nice to talk to, but it helps to talk to people who understand what you’ve been through and what you’re going through. It’s not going to go away and something will almost always remind you and set you off. There is always going to be that empty chair. The other members understand that,” Hunter said. Jerry Doering joined the Weavers a few months after losing his wife, Carol. “Most people don’t go until after a year, but I found myself wanting to be with other people,” Doering said. He immediately felt welcomed by the group and some of his loneliness started to fade. “They are just a bunch of nice, helpful people who really care about each other,” Doering said. “That’s so important when you’re alone. It also gives you something to look forward to every week. If you feel like you want to talk but don’t have anyone to talk to, the group is there for you. I’m so grateful to have found them.” The journey of grief is different for everyone, yet there are common threads the Weavers have found. Together they work on weaving those threads into the next part of their lives, a part that will be different from the pattern of the past, but thanks to the friendships they have formed, can be a new pattern for each of them. MM MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 21


REFLECTIONS By Pat Christman

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he holidays seem to go by so fast. We go from a dark and scary Halloween to a chilly Thanksgiving, then to a snow-covered Christmas and an ice-cold New Year’s Day. They’re gone before you know it with a frosty kiss goodbye. We are left with the beauty of a frosty coating and the promise that spring isn’t very far away. MM

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 23


Community adviser, Adam Stenning, has seen an uptick of students looking for help with mental health during the pandemic.

Residential life in a Pandemic

Community advisers at Minnesota State University share experiences, challenges

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By Katie Leibel | Photos courtesy Daniel Vorwerk

innesota State University implemented numerous changes since the beginning of the pandemic, from adjusting the way classes meet — or don’t actually meet — to the way student organizations function. But one aspect not obvious to those not living on campus is the changes in residential life.

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In March students were sent home for spring break, and many moved back home to shelter in place during the pandemic. Now, with classes in session both online and in person, the university has the tough job of connecting with students to learn, grow and have fun from afar. The Residential Life office may be one of those areas


most greatly impacted because those public health guidelines affect them where they live every day. “The things that have changed are really the basic things that people have seen throughout the communities and the country: the social distancing, wearing face coverings, washing hands,” said Cindy Janney, dean of students and residential life director at MSU. For hall directors and community advisers, whose job it is to help connect residents and keep a safe environment, their job grew more difficult. The Minnesota Department of Health issues the guidance the university follows. This includes guidelines specific for the dining hall, classrooms and restroom stalls. As those recommendations evolve, the university’s practices do as well. Challenges of connecting residents, enforcing policies and maintaining safety guidelines have made the job for the average community adviser trickier. Yet, they are adapting to meet students’ needs.

New policies

Many new rules and guidelines have been added in residential life to keep people safe. “Students are expected to wear masks in the public areas, so basically if they’re outside of their room, they are complying with the public gathering limitations,” Janney said. This means student staff often have to put in a bit more work enforcing policy from how many people can be in a room to ensuring residents are wearing facemasks. “Students are expected to comply with state, local, federal laws and university policies, and there is a documentation process for when a staff member observes a student appearing not to comply. For a student who is not wearing a face mask, our goal is to educate and support students,” Janney said. Letters sent to students include information about why they need to wear a mask, and if they continue to not comply, they hold a student conduct meeting and implement potential sanctions that would come out of that. Community adviser Adam Stenning noted that getting students to comply with this rule is proving to be difficult. “Another challenge has been enforcing the new policy violations because many residents strongly disagree with them,” he said. Outside of mask-wearing, other policies also have been put into place that have changed the way many live on campus. There was the implementation of an app that students, faculty and staff are to use to screen themselves daily before coming to class to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Another major change is occupancy in floor kitchens and lounges. Floor kitchens can have two people inside at a time, while wearing masks, and common rooms can have nine people inside at a time while wearing masks. At the beginning of the pandemic, ResLife locked the rooms and kept keys to the kitchens and commons rooms at the front desk for people to check out. Because of students’ objections about not being able to connect with others or being able to hold events, now the kitchens remain unlocked. A new guest policy also has been criticized. Each room occupant is allowed to only have one guest at a

time, and there are no guests allowed from midnight to 8 a.m. each day. “I strongly disagree with the overnight guest policy where residents aren’t allowed to have guests over from midnight to 8 a.m.,” Stenning said. “I think that policy has done more harm than good for residents. Residents need sleepovers with their friends, or significant others to de-stress and have fun after long days of class without the fear of getting in trouble.” Janney noted that their approach is to educate and inform students on how to stay safe. “Some schools have this punitive approach where, if people went to a party, all of the sudden they’d get suspended from the school. And our approach, the goals behind it, is to be compassionate and provide care for students and provide information so they know how to best manage their situation,” she said. Janney said the policies are just about trying to keep people healthy. “There was an initial concern of ‘What would this look like?’” Janney said. It’s concerning watching the COVID cases go up in the community and throughout the state, she said. “ But I think the university has tried to act with eyes wide open about the health risks that are here in a pandemic for all of us.” Hall director in the Julia Sears building, Becky Gwinn thinks the university has done an excellent job creating policies to keep students, staff and faculty safe. “It is clear to me that although there are some policies that are not the most enjoyable, they are put in place for a reason and have been shown to be very effective as we see other campuses struggling to keep case numbers down,” Gwinn said.

The look of quarantine

The majority of the nation has been social distancing in one way or another since March to protect against COVID-19, but what happens when a student in residential life is exposed to or diagnosed with the virus? ResLife has a solution for that, too. Students’ options when diagnosed with COVID-19 are: go home and quarantine with family, self-isolate if they have a room and bathroom to themselves, or quarantine in an on-campus isolation space. Students quarantining in an on-campus quarantine or isolation space have a room either in one of two floors of Preska Hall or in a building at Stadium Heights where they are provided with a microwave and a fridge. Students bring their own bedding, and two temporary employees help collect their laundry for a vendor to do. The employees take trash out and provide them with any medicines or prescriptions they may need. Students are expected to remain inside their space. “What we’re providing then for those students is meals that are prepared by dining services, and initially we were doing meal drops once a day, and now we are doing meal drops three times a day. We provide the toiletries that they would need. We had a plan that we started with, and we learned from students after students gave us feedback,” Janney said. She believes the university has been relatively successful in keeping residents safe and preventing the spread of the virus with these isolation spaces and safety precautions in place. Approximately 2,500 students lived in on-campus residence hall facilities MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 25


Becky Gwinn, hall director in the Julia Sears building, says that community advisers have to get more creative to build a community on campus with COVID-19 restrictions in place. during the fall semester. There had been about a total of 250 cases in ResLife from the beginning of fall semester to November. “Of that, 130 students have been in a quarantine or isolation space that we provide, so they moved out of their rooms and then in quarantine, in isolation per direction of the Minnesota Department of Public Health,” Janney said. “We have just over 50 students who have done their quarantine in their own room, and that can be done when there’s a bathroom inside the unit, and when all of the people who are sharing that people are also exposed. Sixty-seven people have decided to go home for their quarantine or isolation period.”

Connecting, avoiding conflicts

The community advisers and hall directors faced many challenges continuing to do their jobs. The weekly “What’s on Wednesday” or WOW community events helped connect people in residence halls. Floors typically held events to help connect students with one another, campus resources and more. That’s all changed. There was some potential for normalcy at the

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beginning of the year by hosting outdoor events. But as the temperatures dropped, it makes the events more difficult to host. The gathering restrictions due to COVID have made it no longer possible to host indoor events. “CAs have now been working to get creative, putting on events in a virtual space, working to find locations with higher occupancy limits, and through extending the amount of time an event might last so that more people can attend,” Gwinn said. Stenning noted that his area has changed some of their events significantly, as well. “This year we are doing ‘hangouts’ instead of events, and we additionally do a ‘WOW’ every Wednesday. I have had more attendance this year at my events compared to last year,” Stenning said. “I think this is because residents have struggled to make new friends because classes are online, and their CA is the only person who ever asks them to hangout.” The ‘hangouts’ have been an outlet for adaptable creativity. “In the beginning of the school year I made sure to host hangouts that just focused on providing a fun time for residents,” Stenning said. He hosted events such as frisbee golf, pumpkin


Students moved into the dorms during 2020’s fall semester using scheduled staggered move-in times due the COVID-19 pandemic. Community advisers and students have learned how to adapt living on campus during the pandemic. | File photo carving, a bonfire and a trick-ortreating event — activities that could keep students safe by remaining socially distant and wearing masks. “More recently, as of Nov. 1, 2020, I have done hangouts that allow residents to express their feelings so that they know they are not alone during this time. I have done events like ‘S.M.A.R.T goal making’ and ‘Coloring and conversations,’” Stenning said. Gwinn also noted that events and WOWs have changed considerably from past years, specifically with some strategic planning. “An event that we put on more recently was a building-wide event called RSO Scavenger Hunt. Through this event, residents would go around the building connecting with a member from nine different registered student organizations,” Gwinn said. They spread this event out to different lounge locations throughout the residence community to make sure they were not overcrowding any one location and allowing for social distancing. “We found this to be an extremely important event to host because residents were sharing that they were not feeling involved on campus, and we wanted to help provide some opportunities for them to become connected to campus,” Gwinn said. Stenning said another effect of the pandemic has been that roommate conflicts and issues with

mental health are up this year, taking their toll on residents. “Having conversations and dealing with situations that (involve) residents struggling with mental health issues has been a big challenge for me. Mental health can be easy to talk about since, as a CA, I receive training on it. But there has been much more concern about residents’ mental health this year,” Stenning said. As a result, his role has significantly changed. “I am constantly having conversations with residents that are concerned about their mental health. Last year I mostly focused on having fun with residents, but this year I am more often having deep conversations with residents that are struggling with things,” Stenning said. He also noted that roommate issues have increased, as to be expected when living in a small space with people of varying lifestyles. “There has not been any disagreements about social distancing or mask wearing in the apartment. The most common roommate issue I have dealt with is cleaning. Commonly, apartments will have one roommate that really wants to keep the place sanitized while the other roommate isn’t concerned at all about it,” Stenning said. His role as a mediator, listener and friendly face has cranked up. “During this isolating time,

residents mostly need to see a familiar face and know that they can come to me anytime for anything they need. I have strived to knock on doors at least twice a week to check in on residents and have conversations with them,” Stenning said.

Looking forward

Janney, Gwinn and Stenning have one message to students: Hang in there, stay safe and we are here for you. “I would just encourage them to hang on. I think it is tiring. I think that people want to be done with it; people want to hang out with their friends,” Janney said. “I recognize this might not have been how you pictured this part of your college career going, but I appreciate each and every one of you for showing up, brightening the halls with your energy and laughter, working to follow the policies, and making the best out of a situation that none of us saw coming. “Know that I am here to support you, and I care about you as a person and as a student, and if you need support there are a lot of people on this campus who care about you and are here to help,” Gwinn said. More information regarding residential life policies, practices and more can be found on the university’s website at https:// mankato.mnsu.edu/university-life/ housing/residential-life/. MM

MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 27


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How to help aging adults adapt to technology By Metro Creative Connection

C

hildren, adolescents and young adults likely cannot imagine a life without modern technology. Technology may have pervaded every part of life in the 21st century, but it wasn’t so long ago that phones were still attached to walls and people had to watch their favorite shows and films exclusively on televisions instead of having the option to watch them on devices like smartphones and tablets. The transition to life in the age of technology went smoothly for most segments of the population, but some aging adults have had a more difficult time making the adjustment. That difficulty was apparent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, when public health agencies like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged aging adults to limit interactions with people outside their homes. Such recommendations forced many seniors to communicate with their families exclusively over the phone or via video conferencing apps like Zoom. If seniors have had a hard time adapting to technology, their families can try these strategies to make that transition go more smoothly. n Go over product manuals with seniors. The senior caregiving experts at Home Care Assistance note that older adults are less likely to learn through experimentation than they are by reading instructions in the manual. When helping seniors learn to use new devices, go over the

30 • LIVING 55 PLUS • FEBRUARY 2021 • Special Advertising Section

owner’s manual with them as you set up the device. Mark important pages in the manual so seniors know where to go for quick answers if they experience any issues logging in or using certain apps. n Look for senior-specific devices and guidebooks. Seniors make up an enormous segment of the population, and tech companies have long since recognized that there’s a market for products designed specifically for aging men and women. When shopping for devices for seniors, look for those that have been designed to help them overcome issues that have proven problematic for aging adults in the past. Devices that feature touchscreens with large menus, easily accessible navigation tools and simplified features can help seniors as they learn to use new technology. n Be patient. Some seniors are excited by the prospect of learning to use new technology, while others may be hesitant. Patience is essential when working with an aging loved one who’s intimidated by technology. Take the time to explain apps and features and don’t take it for granted that seniors will know how to use a device or recognize what a device can do. Today’s seniors may not have grown up with technology at their fingertips, but they can still learn to use devices to their advantage.


7 ways to save more for retirement By Metro Creative Connection

R

etirement seems like a lifetime away for young professionals. But as careers advance, families are started and milestones are met, retirement can start to feel a lot closer. A 2014 Gallup poll indicates that most Americans now retire at age 62. That is a good starting point when planning your retirement. The earlier you start establishing savings goals and putting plans in motion, the more likely you will be to retire on time without having to worry about money. These strategies can help you save more for retirement years.

5. Open a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA is a retirement savings vehicle that enables you to pay taxes on the money you put in up front. When you become eligible to withdraw the funds (after age 591/2), they are taxfree. 6. Aim for a 15 percent investment. Start investing 15 percent of gross income for retirement once you’re debt-free and have a fully funded emergency fund. Such a strategy can go a long way toward ensuring you have enough money to do what you want throughout retirement.

7. Make calculated cuts. Think about which items you can live without and dedicate what you would spend on those expenditures to retirement. For example, calculate the difference between buying a new car and a certified pre-owned model. Deposit the savings into retirement. Can you skip a vacation this year and do a staycation instead? Forgoing certain luxuries can help you build retirement savings. Saving for retirement becomes a little easier with strategies that can make money go further.

1. Raise what raise? If you’re lucky enough to get a salary increase at work, direct the extra money into retirement savings accounts and act like the raise never happened. You won’t miss the extra money since you were not accustomed to earning it, and redirecting it into retirement savings can go a long way toward procuring your financial future. 2. Max out deposit limits. By depositing the maximum allowable amount into your retirement accounts each year, you can grow your retirement savings quickly and earn considerably more interest on your money over the life of the account. 3. Allocate your tax refund. Elect to apply your tax refund to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. 4. Take advantage of employers’ offers to match retirement contributions. Many employers will match 401(k) contributions if you save enough to qualify. This is an easy way to save without having to put in any extra money out of your own pocket. Make sure you’re vested in the 401(k) plan so that the employer contributions can be taken with you if you leave a job.

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Maintaining brain health as you age

By Vine

A

fter retiring from teaching, Pru Gushwa kept busy with volunteering and playing with grandchildren, but as a lifelong learner, Gushwa felt she was missing something. “I had noticed changes in myself and wanted to strengthen my mental abilities,” said Gushwa. So, after hearing about a mind aerobic program offered through VINE Faith in Action, she convinced her husband John to sign up with her for the cognitive training classes. “VINE has been helping older adults in the community stay active and engaged for over 25 years,” said Adam Massmann, VINE’s Assistant to the Director. VINE’s services include exercise opportunities, educational presentations, social gatherings, support groups, respite care and more. In 2019, VINE started the VINE Mind Academy and began offering mind aerobics classes, designed to provide older adults with comprehensive mental workouts to help improve cognitive functioning. “When our cognitive skills decline – so do our bodies,” said Dr. Jeff Buchanan, Professor of Psychology at Minnesota State University, Mankato. “By taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to stay in your own home longer.” After working with the New England Cognitive Center (NECC), a non-profit organization that develops research-based cognitive rehabilitative programs for older adults, Dr. Buchanan partnered with VINE to offer the program within the Greater Mankato community. “Many people show a cognitive decline when they get older,” Dr. Buchanan said. “Now more evidence is showing a preventable quality – if you eat right, exercise, stay socially engaged and keep your brain active- it’s a good recipe to maintain brain health.” Although there is no cure for dementia, scientists have identified factors that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. While some risk factors like age, family history and heredity cannot be changed, evidence suggests there may be factors we can influence through general lifestyle and wellness choices. The Lancet International Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care reported more than one third of dementia cases could be preventable through lifestyle changes including managing chronic conditions, a healthy diet, regular exercise, continual education, socialization, and good sleep. “VINE has grown throughout the years and has been able to offer more programs to help older adults age successfully,” Massmann said. “When we learned about the benefits of the mind aerobic program in

other parts of the country, we wanted to bring it to our community.” The NECC offers a suite of programs designed to systematically stimulate six major cognitive domains of the brain. Thanks to a grant from MSU-Mankato and the Mankato Clinic, VINE purchased the Mind Sharpener program, trained staff, and began offering classes for people with normal to forgetful memory loss. Prior to beginning, Dr. Buchanan screens each participant to test the cognitive skills that will be targeted during the classes. Trained facilitators then lead a series of 24 one-hour small group sessions targeting the six major cognitive skills, focusing on attention/ concentration, visual spatial acuity, memory, language, processing speed and executive functioning. “The classes are done is a specific order, targeting each different cognitive area,” VINE’s trained facilitator, Massmann said. “Each class becomes a little more challenging throughout the program.” Gushwa said she enjoyed all the activities they did in class and was surprised by the ones that challenged her the most. “The areas I thought were my strength, were the ones that actually needed sharpening.” “If you are really good at crossword puzzles, that’s great, but you should be working on things you aren’t very good at,” Massmann said. “You need to challenge your brain.” After graduating from the program, Dr. Buchanan tests each participant’s cognitive functioning to see if there was any change from the start of the class. The results showed modest improvements in overall cognitive functioning, memory, and visual-spatial skills. He also conducted a three-month follow up test and discovered these improvements remained stable. “What that tells us is that the gains from the program are being maintained, at least in the short-term,” Dr. Buchanan said. Gushwa said she found herself applying the lessons she learned in class to her everyday life, like being more attentive when driving. “Often my husband and I reflect back on the experience and say, see, we needed that class.” After COVID restricted in-person gatherings, the NECC designed a virtual option for their Mind Works program which is geared towards people with mild to moderate cognitive decline. VINE will begin offering the classes virtually in February. For more information about the VINE Mind Academy, visit vinevolunteers.com or call (507) 387-1666.

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From dark days to light at the end of the tunnel By Katie Roiger It played out like a scene from a science fiction/horror movie mashup: A mysterious illness with no known remedy originates in a distant country. The disease floods across the globe as fast as water spilled from a glass, pouring into country after country. Governments are stymied. Citizens are terrified. The overwhelming response to the unknown, as-yet unstoppable disease is lockdown. Businesses shutter; arts and entertainment take an unprecedented hit. And people are isolated from that most basic of human needs: Community. The social distancing recommendations following the widespread Coronavirus outbreak were appreciated by a concerned public. In Minnesota, as in the rest of the United States, individuals saw the need to limit contact and minimize gatherings as “doing their part,” a sentiment akin to the pitchin and help-out patriotic spirit of last century’s World Wars. One subgroup was particularly quick to realize that social distancing was not only important for solidarity purposes, but potentially necessary for survival itself. This group was composed of the staff and residents of America’s assisted living and nursing home care facilities. According to the AARP website, nursing homes were often the front lines for COVID-19 battles. By the end of June, 2020, around 54,000 residents and workers had died due to COVID, and nearly 264,000 residents from the nation’s 9,912 care facilities had contracted the virus. Clearly individuals of advanced years were more vulnerable to the disease. Protecting them would be no easy task. “It’s a pandemic and it’s affecting all of us,” said Monarch Meadows’ chief operating officer Mark Halpert. “There have been plenty of people [at Monarch] who have gotten sick from

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COVID and some lives have been lost. It’s difficult for all of us.” North Mankato’s Oak Terrace Assisted Living Community has also seen its share of tragedy within the past nine months. The community offers a full spectrum of living options, from independent living to full care. Administrator Drew Hood said that when the virus struck, the residents requiring full care were hit the hardest. “The virus is very contagious,” Hood said. “The thing that makes it very difficult is the residents’ ability to practice proper social distancing. We have a memory care community where they frequently forget they need to wear a mask and they don’t understand that they shouldn’t go into other residents’ rooms and socialize. We’re really trying to protect somebody who doesn’t understand anything about the virus.” Another ongoing challenge for nursing homes and assisted living facilities is staffing. Workers are required to complete daily coronavirus testing. If an employee tested positive for the virus, they were immediately required to quarantine at home. This frequently threatens to leave large gaps in the daily care roster. “The biggest overall challenge has one hundred percent been staffing,” said Halpert. “If the staff tests positive, they have to stay home, but we still need to take care of the residents. There was not one day when we didn’t take care of our residents, but it was really tough when you had 14 staff members on a shift and all 14 had COVID and had to stay home.” Although Monarch occasionally struggled with potential staff shortages, Halpert said that they were lucky that the virus never hit more than one residence at a time. “We cleared one building, and then the next day we had an

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outbreak in the next!” he added. Halpert and Hood both stressed how proud they were of their fellow workers for rising to the occasion. The administrators expressed admiration for the staff’s flexibility and willingness to take on extra shifts when necessary. “I’m very thankful for a lot of long, dedicated hours by the nursing team,” Hood said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of all the managers and direct care staff who have picked up shifts.” “I saw the staff run around making sure that every single call was answered and every single resident’s need was

met,” said Halpert. “They were coming to work every day for the scheduled shifts, picking up more, sitting there when a resident was struggling to breathe and taking care of them, sharing tears when sadness happens and lifting up spirits when the time was right [and] just really doing their job with a smile. No matter how tough the times were, they really came through, and I think that’s incredible.” The staff and residents continue to rely on each other for positive energy. Despite a temporary ban on nonessential visitors, the tenants have

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found new ways to stay close to family and friends. Thanks to increased reliance on video technologies, some residents have actually seen more of their loved ones than they did before the pandemic. “We have people who are doing quite well during this pandemic because their families are from out of town and they didn’t get to see them much, but now they’re Zoom calling them all the time,” Hood said. Other residents have taken the opportunity to learn new skills and try new hobbies. One of Oak Terrace’s tenants is an avid painter who, thanks to the lockdown, has spent significantly more time working on her creations. Others have chosen to refresh their knowledge of crocheting, knitting, and other crafts, or have challenged themselves with crosswords and puzzles. One resident particularly enjoys video games, so the staff ordered a few more. Television also remains a popular choice. In addition to giving residents attentive care, many staff members have attempted to continue providing entertainment options. At Monarch Meadows, non-contagious residents were invited to play Hallway Bingo. A worker would sit in the corridor calling out numbers while the residents participated from their apartment doorways. Monarch Meadows also purchased 150 iPads to distribute throughout their buildings and IT services are currently working to set up televised games. The facility also scheduled a game truck to visit the homes, but had to cancel due to bad weather. “Every day, we have a conversation about how to put a smile on residents’ faces,” said Halpert. Right now, the biggest reason to smile is the prospect of upcoming vaccines. Both Oak Terrace and Monarch Meadows anticipate that staff and residents will all receive the first round of vaccines within the month of January, with the second round to follow by early spring. Once the CDC provides guidelines for vaccinated individuals and nursing homes in particular, staff hopes to open the facilities up for visits and trips. “I’m excited for new guidance for what it’s going to look like when residents and staff are vaccinated,” Hood said. “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and that brings us hope.”


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Food & Beer

LET'S EAT!

By Dan Greenwood

SOUTHERN MN STYLE Kitchen manager, Anne Norgaard (left) and co-owner John Mayer. Patrick’s on Third in St. Peter is known for the ‘world-famous’ patty melt.

PATRICK’S on THIRD

St. Peter bar and restaurant offers variety of food, beer — and drum corps music By Dan Greenwood | Photos by Pat Christman

P

atrick’s on Third in downtown St. Peter has been drawing an eclectic mix of customers since co-owner John Mayer’s parents bought the historic building in 1988. Named after Mayer’s father, the restaurant and bar, with 32 beers on tap, has developed a reputation as a diverse gathering place for the town’s 11,000 residents. 36 • FEBRUARY 2021 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Kitchen manager Anne Norgaard said they make changes to the menu every year. Sometimes it’s drastic. Other times they make just a couple of minor tweaks, but one of their most popular sandwiches has had a constant presence. “We’re known for the worldfamous patty melt,” said co-owner John Mayer. “It tastes the same as it did when we first

made it in 1988. The reason that we claim that to be world famous is because it always makes it from one menu to the next. It’s a nice handheld sandwich that’s tasty.” This time around, Norgaard said customers will see a greater focus on having more signature meals to choose from. “Whenever anyone asks me what I should get at Patrick’s, I always point them toward our


Patrick’s on Third always tries to keep the menu fresh with new items. The patty melt, however, is a staple. corned beef,” Norgaard said. “It’s my pride and joy and took a long time to perfect it.” The Irish Meat Shovel sandwich, filled with corned beef and drizzled with the restaurant’s new queso sauce on a pretzel bun, is top seller, along with the Reuben, made from a whole brisket of corned beef and topped with Patrick’s house-made sauerkraut. Patrick’s roast beef is also cooked in-house. Norgaard said she and her staff did a lot of experimentation until they perfected the recipe. “We roast it for nine hours,” she said. “We sear it first and put on a good rub of coriander seeds, black pepper, fresh garlic and olive oil. We’ve tried it a million different ways, and this is where we landed. We couldn’t be happier with the results.” Along with a variety of pizzas, Mayer said they also have a crust for those with a gluten intolerance, bound together with cheese and cauliflower. Out of more than a dozen burgers to choose from, Norgaard said the Jameson melt, with a handmade whiskey teriyaki style glaze and topped with cheddar cheese, fried onions and peppers on rye is a big hit. Her personal favorite is the meatless wild rice mushroom burger.

What:

Patrick’s on Third

Where:

125 S. Third St., St. Peter

What they’re known for:

Burgers, pizzas, signature sandwiches and 32 tap beers “It’s a vegetarian burger that we hand make here with mushrooms, wild rice, seasoning and breadcrumbs, and it’s fried on both sides,” Norgaard said. “It is so good. We have a lot of meat eaters that eat it as well.” Mayer said they incorporate ingredients from the local farmers market during the summer months, and they source their free-range bison locally from Sleepy Bison Acres near Sleepy Eye. “We’ve gone and visited the animals and have added a bunch of bison items to our menu,” Norgaard said. That includes bison tacos accompanied with blue cheese dressing and crumbles, romaine lettuce, red onion and bacon. For burger lovers, there’s the bison patty melt, and the Homestead Bison Melt, made from a grilled bison patty and topped with

pepper jack cheese, tomato and bacon on grilled sourdough bread. Patrick’s on Third is also the unofficial hangout for the Govenaires, the St. Peter based all-ages drum corps. Formed in 1927, the group is the oldest competing drum and bugle corps in the world. Mayer’s father and mother joined the Govies in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, respectively, and Mayer and his siblings joined them in the 1980s. “When they’re not at rehearsal, they’re usually hanging out here at Patrick’s,” Mayer said. “Anytime the drum corps is in the bar, it’s always a good time because you never know when somebody’s going to run outside, grab their horn and start playing. They’ve performed here many times. Sometimes it’s scheduled and sometimes it’s impromptu.” Mayer said his favorite aspect of running the bar and restaurant is that he never knows what the day will bring. “Every day is exciting, and every day is different,” he said. “At the end of the day I’m usually laughing about something. There are so many weird things that have happened in this bar.”

MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 37


COMMUNITY DRAWS By Kat Baumann

38 • FEBRUARY 2021 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


BEER

By Bert Mattson

Foundations February; Bellwether Brews

T

hese days consumers seem to select beers less for being exemplary than for including novel ingredients, methods or, in some cases, being altogether rare. Here and there, storied breweries are even shelving flagship styles to meet the demand for experimental brews. This dizzying innovation isn’t exactly an unattractive feature of the brewing field. Still, it’d be a shame to see trailblazing beers fall by the wayside, only for being honest to style. My senior year in college I was pressed into an executive role in a campus tavern keeper's club. One of my jobs was to recruit members to replace the ones who had left me holding the hot potato. I was fortunate to find a windfall of interesting and motivated individuals to round out the board. They made me look good and, I’ve heard tell, took the club to new heights. That’s another story. The point is that one of them was an avid homebrewer. Before long, in addition to field trips to taverns (it was a practical club), we were touring breweries. It began with Leinenkugel’s, but the scope crept to include trips to James Page Brewing Company and Summit Brewing Company — at the old University Avenue location. These were heady times, branching out from Boston Lager to Page’s Boundary Waters Wild Rice Lager and Summit’s Extra Pale Ale. Flash forward and Extra Pale Ale is all but taken for granted. It’s something of a default. In contrast to those early days one might say we’ve become a bit spoiled.

It was one thing to lose a stable of authentic Minnesota beer styles to industrialized brewing, but quite another to leave them behind in a fit of fickleness. I was devastated when rumors swirled that we might be losing Summit’s Great Northern Porter, which to me is an exemplar. I believe the only beer that predates it in the Summit stable is EPA — circa 1986. Folks forget this is an award-winning beer. Make this the month you rediscover it. Tap into the caramel, citrus and bite, and imagine the effect on a 1995 mentality. On that same early wave rode the Pete’s Wicked Ale phenomenon. The meteoric rise of this one rendered it the nation’s second biggest craft brew label. In those early days it was contract brewed at no other than August Schell Brewing in New Ulm. My father kept a stave and hoop Schell’s pony keg in my basement when I was a kid. He’d sometimes launch into inappropriate tales about that keg (he lugged it up a flagpole to avoid confiscation; he earned it). Schell’s is about as old as any family-owned brewery in the country, and Fasching has likely been celebrated in New Ulm at least as long as the brewery stood. But Bock Fest dates back to around 1987. Back in the tavern keeper's club days, Bock was a revelation. Schell’s Bock is another award-winning beer. We’re coming upon the perfect season to rediscover the smooth, malty richness of this German-style dark lager. Past is prologue. Bert Mattson is a chef and writer based in St. Paul. He is the manager of the iconic Mickey’s Diner. bertsbackburner.com

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COUNTRY MINUTES By Nicole Helget

The dogs of Oshawa Township L

et’s say you’ve been mulling the idea of getting started on that book you’ve always wanted to write. Maybe the idea of the book bothers you all day. Maybe sometimes a scene or an exchange of dialogue or a plot twist or a revelation comes to you in the middle of the night and you scribble out a note to yourself that you can’t make out in the morning light. But maybe you don’t know how to start. Maybe you feel like it won’t be any good and no one will read it. Maybe you feel like you don’t know anything at all about writing books. To this day, even after many fulllength books under my belt, I never, ever sit down and think, “OK, let’s get cracking on that next 300-page manuscript.” The burden seems too much to bear, the task too enormous to even begin. No. Rather I think about the writing of it in small bits with a general idea that the book will eventually probably have three acts and a controlled plot so that I don’t wander in the weeds for too many years. The easiest way to write a book is one sentence at a time. Then one paragraph at a time. Then one page at a time. So, if you are thinking about 2021 as the year you may as well write that book, I have some advice for you on getting going. Ask yourself who the book is going to be about and why. Who is the main character? If it’s creative nonfiction or memoir, the main character is probably you. Ask yourself where the story physically begins. What is the opening setting? Often, in creative nonfiction and memoir, it is a childhood home or hometown. Ask yourself what the first conflict is. What is the triggering event that begins the unspooling of all the problems? Often in creative nonfiction and memoir, it’s the first memorable moment of a physical change related to a rite of passage or phase of life or a cycle of transformation. Then, get all three of those things, 40 • FEBRUARY 2021 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Part 13

the main character, the opening setting, and the triggering event going, with urgency and your personal flair, through description, detail, and possibly dialogue, in the first few pages. We call this moment a hook, which is a literary magic trick used to invite a reader into a story and compel them to keep turning pages. Characterization is the word we use to describe how the writer develops the people in their story. The main character(s) needs to be a dynamic character, meaning the character changes over time throughout the phase of life you’ve decided to write about. The change can be physical or internal. The best books show both kinds of change. Dynamic characters should have at least three aspects to their characterization. The writer should show the reader how the main character looks, walks, talks, rests, laughs, broods, drives, cooks, and every other action that helps the reader understand how the main character interacts with the world around them. Also, the reader should have a sense of the main character’s internal life, the character’s thoughts, feelings, intellect, vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and strengths. Thirdly, the reader should get a sense of how the main character affects other characters. When the main character enters the scene, how do the other characters react? For instance, if a person walked into my kitchen and my dog Polar Bear peeled back his lips and growled, that would tell the reader something about the person who walked into my kitchen. As you keep writing, remember that setting isn’t only to be used as a stage on which your characters act. Setting can and should create conflict, reflect mood, reflect character, and reveal craft elements such as metaphor and lyricism. In memoir, remember to create both active settings (where events happen)

and sanctuary settings (where the main character goes to reflect). In memoir, it’s very common for the book to open and end in the same setting after some kind of transformation by the main character. Often, when writers tell me they have writer’s block, it’s usually because they’ve gotten stuck on one type of conflict. So lastly, as you begin your writing journey this year, remember to indulge all three levels of conflict. The most obvious is man versus man, meaning one character is in some kind of battle or conflict with another character. For instance, if your neighbor is mad your apple tree keeps dripping mushy fruit onto his driveway and screams at you at 7:30 in the morning, that’s a man versus man type of conflict. If you decide to chop down the tree with a dull ax in a thunderstorm, you have another type of conflict: man versus nature. Finally, if after you’ve cut down the tree, all the memories of your dead grandpa planting the tree when you were just a wee kid arise and make you weep, that’s a man versus self conflict. Challenge yourself to get the first chapter written this month. Nicole Helget is a multi-genre author. Her most recent book, THE END OF THE WILD, is a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice, a Parents' Choice Award Winner, a Charlotte Huck Award Honor Book, a New York Public Library Best Books for Kids, a Kirkus Best Middle-Grade Book, an Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students, a Best STEM Trade Books for Students K-12, a Georgia Children's Book Award Nominee, and the Minnesota Book Awards Middle Grade Winner. She works as a teacher, manuscript guide, editor, and ghostwriter. She lives in rural St. Peter with her family and dogs. You can follow the Dogs of Oshawa Township at @TheOshawa on Twitter.


ANN’S FASHION FORTUNES By Ann Rosenquist Fee

Tackle boxes, shag mullets, other identity crisis hacks DEAR ANN: Since I’m only using makeup like twice a month, is it okay to put the makeup carrier away instead of having it continue to take up space on the counter? Or is that an unconscious signal that I’m giving up? DEAR READER: Does “away” mean “shelved in a tidy fashion, clearly labeled, ready to be used?” Or “out of sight because I will never use this again but can’t bear to rid myself of it?” My hunch is it’s a combination, and that you need to sort the “sometimes” items from the “over and done with” products. Whatever survives in the “sometimes” pile, definitely keep it on the counter but not in an open tote. Get yourself a case with a lid. A hat box, a tackle box, some fauxsuede thing on clearance. As long as the lid closes, ta-da, you’ve got your occasional makeup at the ready without sitting there tormenting you with its visibility. The “over and done” makeup gets tossed because even if it’s technically still usable, you’ve moved on. And that’s not giving up. It’s the prelude to starting anew. DEAR ANN: Shag mullet or something more appropriate for my age, which is 68? DEAR READER: Current events call on each of us to set examples of high-road forward-thinkingness. The most selfless and visionary thing you can do for anyone looking to you for guidance, which is basically everybody because everybody’s looking everywhere right now, is to eschew the notion of “appropriate hair” as one of many stale concepts no longer serving us well. So I’m sorry if it turns out to be unflattering, but for the greater good, shag mullet it is. DEAR ANN: I’m 58 and have worked at home for most of COVID and will be working from

Unworn makeup glaring at you? Make it stop. home through May. I had a work wardrobe I liked but now only casual clothes make sense, and I’ve always struggled with a casual wardrobe that feels like “me.” This is funny timing because I’m finally coming to feel confident in myself and who I am. What I want others to see is someone who is curious, warm-hearted, and approachable. I do not want that “liberal, woke” vibe, just that “nonpolitical, open to learning about others and changing the way I think and act” vibe. Unfortunately, I have a face that probably screams white entitlement but that’s not who I want to be associated with. I want to make sure that white entitled people get this message and are either scared to approach me or are intrigued and want to learn as much as I want to learn. I like the athletic, energetic vibe, but I have a menopause stomach so tight yoga pants without a long sweater are out of the question. I like modern Scandinavian. Shoes are also an issue. I prefer thrift stores and natural fibers. I’m totally into remaking clothes (or making them) but lack that creative spark for figuring out what to do. Help? Am I the only one feeling this way?

DEAR READER: Pretty sure most silver-jewelry-wearing menopausal Minnesotans are with you, and the answer lies in busting “modern Scandinavian” into two parts: 1) “modern,” which I advise you to shelve because you’re spot-on in hinting that Fair Isle cardigans are somehow tone-deaf at the moment; and 2) “Scandinavian,” which provides the elements you’re looking for, if we look way back. Prehistoric Viking women had some go-tos you might do well to import: leather footwear, which you can interpret as work boots or overthe-ankle house slippers, whatever, just make them natural-colored and sturdy as if you might need to go from spinning wool to slogging through fields on a moment’s notice. Also strap dresses that are basically roomy jumpers with pockets. This is your answer to the oversized sweater — paired with yoga pants, the natural-fiber strap dress says, “I am energetic and aware of my heritage and might be carrying a flint, which I’m not afraid to use.” Also, “feel free to ask me about this thing I’m wearing unless it scares you because you fear introspection, in which case stay away.” Bonus points for wood or bone buttons. Whatever you can do to replace the Fair Isle-ish elements of your wardrobe with earthier, more raw, more functional alternatives, I am confident you’ll start feeling more like the rune Ansuz (openness, insight, communication, vision) and less like, well, like a silver cuff bracelet stamped with the rune Ansuz. Got a question? Submit it at annrosenquistfee.com (click on Ann’s Fashion Fortunes). Ann Rosenquist Fee is executive director of the Arts Center of Saint Peter and host of Live from the Arts Center, a music and interview show Thursdays 1-2 p.m. on KMSU 89.7FM. MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2021 • 41


GARDEN CHAT By Jean Lundquist

Winter Sowing Now is the time to try winter sowing in your garden

H

ave you ever thought about “winter sowing” for your vegetables and flowers? I know – I had never heard of it either until I spent too much time in front of the computer during the pandemic. The World Wide Web is a truly huge place, and there are avenues for gardening I haven’t even found yet. But the words “winter sowing” captured my imagination, and I’m doing it this year. Now is about the right time for our zone if you’d like to try it, too. At first I thought it meant scattering seeds on the ground before the snow fell, hoping for a quick start in the spring. Or maybe, I thought, we just sprinkle seeds atop the snow and hope they don’t drift away with the winter wind. But it turns out to be a lot more fun than that. First, you need some gallon milk jugs, orange juice 42 • FEBRUARY 2021 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

containers or something similar. I’ve seen people use 2-liter pop bottles, but it seems to work better with flatsided plastic jugs. You’ll need to poke holes in the bottoms of your jugs for drainage. Cut the jug in half around three sides, leaving the fourth side for a hinge. To have enough room for root growth, I made the bottom a little deeper than the top. (That’s what we used to call the biggest half.) Line the bottom with a layer of newspaper to hold the soil in, then put seed starting mix in the bottom half of your jug. Make sure the soil is damp but not soupy wet. Then, plant seeds. Don’t crowd them, but four or five seeds per container seems to be quite common. Using some duct tape, close the “lid” of your jug and set it outside. Place it in direct sunlight. Placing it in something like a milk crate is a good idea, so it won’t be sitting directly in water from any rain or melting


snow. Then, go in the house and rejoice that you are gardening in February. In fact, late January or early February is the perfect time to start winter sowing here. Now mind you, I haven’t done this until this year, so I’m only going on what I’ve read. This is not a way to avoid the grow lights in the basement or the heat mat for your warmth-loving plants. According to gardeners in zone 4b, where we are, the freeze-thaw cycle won’t hurt what you’ve planted. In fact, the cycle helps plants such as morning glories to germinate, as the process breaks down the hard outer hull of the shell. No need to nick it before planting it. I’m not all that knowledgeable about flowers, but I read a lot of them do well when started like this. Tomatoes and peppers are often stunted and will do better under lights and on top of your heat mat. Cole crops such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi and cauliflower are the veggies that seem best suited to winter sowing, as they do best in cooler (or cold) weather.

Not all cold-loving plants will do well with this sowing method, however. Radishes and carrots for example, do well when planted early in the spring but do not like to be transplanted. They split and look funny if they are transplanted. They still taste OK, however, so give it a try if you are so inclined. These mini-greenhouses sound like fun. They’re a way to get started gardening early, though I think it could hurt a bit to see them covered in snow. I’m assured they don’t mind and should not be brought in when it snows or turns cold. Apparently it’s true that many people turned to gardening when the pandemic struck. Greenhouse manufacturers are warning potential buyers that delivery will take a bit longer this year due to a backlog. Maybe these mini-greenhouses will have an uplifting effect for us all as we await the waning of the pandemic and the warm breezes of spring. Jean Lundquist is a Master Gardener who lives near Good Thunder. gardenchatkato@gmail.com

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FROM THIS VALLEY By Pete Steiner

BOOKSHELF 2021 I

envy Bill Gates. No, not talkin’ about all his billions. I envy his professed ability to read 750 words a minute – that’s a page every 20 seconds – with 90% retention. Were that gift mine, I could have gotten better grades in school, not had to cram for tests and kept the size of my pile of unread books to an untippable height. But depending on the book, and the distractions (email notifications, robocalls, the usual suspects), I do about one page per minute. So reading my current main novel, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera,” I will need about six uninterrupted hours. Nevertheless, it’s worth it to immerse oneself in the immense talent and insight of a Nobel prize winner, one of the founders of “magical realism.” Preferring to have more than one book going at a time, I also returned to another of my favorite novels, from back in college, Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.” That’ll take about 10 hours, at my rate! I read a commentary in which a professor called “Crime’s” protagonist, Raskolnikov (one of the great and most complex characters in literature) “a very modern man.” That analysis points out that Raskolnikov, in mid-19th century Russia, was engulfed in vast economic, social and political turmoil, not unlike what we’re experiencing today. Then, at Pages Past Bookstore at the library downtown, I grabbed a copy of J. M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” (cheap – two dollars!). Oh sure, I know the Disney version almost by heart, but being a boomer and being male, I wanted Barrie’s more complete insight on not ever growing up. ■■ ■ ■

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Ever since an eye-opening class with Marty Wiltgen, a teacher many ‘60s and ‘70s Scarlet alumni fondly recall, I have been drawn to philosophy – you know, books by those thinkers who try to figure out, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” I ordered “The Book of Dead Philosophers” by Simon Critchley. It’s breezy as well as insightful, maybe a good start for anyone who’s not ready to plow head-on into, say, Hegel. I had read some Sartre but never anything by the most important woman in his life, Simone de Beauvoir. Check out her analysis and apply it to your favorite boomer: “Aging opens up a gap between one’s subjective existence and how that existence is viewed objectively. In old age, one’s being is defined by the way in which one is seen by others, regardless of how one might feel subjectively.” You mean to say, 70 is not the new 50? ■■■■ If you’re a member of a book club (congratulations), or if you’re one of those people I envy who can read two or three books a week, you’re thinking: You, Mr. Peter, are listing mostly old books, nothing from the bestseller lists. And you are right. Heck, I just read Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” for the first time. Bought it on impulse during a foray into a favorite Twin Cities bookstore. Amazed at the economy of Papa’s writing and what he can do with dialogue. So yeah, it may be five to seven years before I get to “Where the Crawdads Sing” (my wife read it; the hardcover is in my pile). Still I was pleased when I checked a display in a local store for Oprah’s picks. Of those maybe dozen featured books, I’ve actually read two – Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” (very dark, but you might

relate) and “100 Years of Solitude” by, yes, G.G. Marquez. I then looked at, and decided to skip “Pillow Thoughts” by pop-psychology poet Courtney Peppernell. I have no idea if she knows Mike Lindell. Maybe if they put it on sale, two for one? ■■■■ Occasionally, I’ll pick up a scary book — but here we’re not talking Stephen King. I am working my way through a nonfiction bestseller, Calvin Newport’s “Digital Minimalism.” The renowned tech philosopher delves deeply into how social media have literally enslaved us, and it is frightening in its own way. All those “likes” we get on Facebook? A blatant, calculated, out-and-out Pavlovian stimulusresponse mechanism. Newport interviews many leading Silicon Va l l e y s c i e n t i s t s w h o h a v e developed these devilish techniques, along with people who have employed various strategies to free themselves from “digital bondage,” from spending too much time on gooey stuff on Facebook or angry rants on Twitter. ■■■■ Let me leave you with this: I am endorsing a bestseller. In fact, I bought it for Jeanne for Christmas. Barnes and Noble chose Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s “World of Wonders” as “book of the year.” A huge honor for Minneapolis’ small independent literary publisher Milkweed Editions. Complete with beautiful illustrations, it could be just the thing if you’re still trying to recover from too much 2020 doom scrolling. Longtime radio guy Pete Steiner is now a free lance writer in Mankato.


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