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be o t N


NO. 52 Winter 2017-2018


Now with more kids stuff!

406 West Water Street . Decorah, Iowa . 563.382.4103


Fuel Efficient. Environmentally Sensible. You’ll Love More Miles Per Dollar! Downtown La Crosse, WI at 4th and Cameron Streets Phone: 877-4-A-HYBRID

WINTER 2017-18 contents

what we’re loving right now


crafting koselig


norwegian world’s best cake


local books


kathleen ernst


keith lesmeister


steve semken


sunshine bookmark!


outside is in: winter activities


sum of your biz: justin trails


learn to ride earl public transit


recycling 411


Probit: barb welgos





...and more! ON THE COVER: We had a lot of fun putting a table of koselig things together life at Inspire(d) HQ is all about the warm fuzzies! Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

47 \ Winter 2017-18






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Art of Time Ensemble:

Songbook with Steven Page Saturday, February 17 • 7:30 p.m.

Tickets $25, $23, $15

2017–18 Center Stage Series Major Sponsors




Saturday, February 24 • 7:30 p.m.

Tickets $25, $23, $15

Perfect for gift-giving, CSS gift certificates are available in any amount. • (563) 387-1357 Luther College Diversity Council


Luther College • Center for Faith and Life 700 College Drive • Decorah, Iowa

From the Editor


y goal with this Inspire(d) is that you feel like you’re sitting down for a cup of coffee with a good friend. There’s fun conversation, tasty food, and warm fuzzy feelings. In other words, it’s totally koselig. We said that phrase a lot over the last month here at Inspire(d) HQ. “Oh, there’s a fire in the wood stove! Koselig!” “Smell that cake baking? It’s so koselig!” “Yes, you should light another candle. It will make it even more koselig!” Koselig (“koos-uh-lee”) is a Norwegian word that loosely translates to cozy. It’s a bit more than that, though, and Sara Friedl Putnam explains it for us, with help from the folks at Vesterheim Museum (they’ve got a koselig exhibit this winter!). Basically, cultivating a koselig lifestyle means seizing any moment that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling – even if you’re heading outside! The koselig fun begins on page 14, and it for sure doesn’t end there. We’ve got an infographic (pg. 23) filled with ideas for getting koselig, so you THRIVE this winter (instead of just survive). We also test drove a recipe for what Norwegian’s call the World’s Best Cake (verden’s beste kake). It was fun to bake…and eat (pg. 26)! Speaking of cake, make sure to put CAKE BREAK at Vesterheim on your calendar: 3:30 every Wednesday from December-mid April. Yep. Oh, and again, speaking of cake (yes!), the recipe for that chocolate cake on the cover can be found at It’s our go-to birthday cake. All right. Moving on from cake (fine). Next up: Books! More specifically, local books. We caught up with three folks entrenched in that scene for some fun Q&As: Wisconsin author Kathleen Ernst; Decorah’s own Keith Lesmeister; and Steve Semken, founder of Iowa-based Ice Cube Press. The interviews start on page 32 – check them out, then consider checking out their books for great winter reading. Next, grab a glue stick because it’s time to make a smiling sun bookmark (pg. 47) to brighten these dark winter days. As mentioned, koselig doesn’t mean you just stay inside…you’ve got to get out for fresh air, exercise, and fun, too! Remember: There’s no bad weather, just bad gear! We put together a list of outdoor activities to get you motivated and out the door (pg. 48). Our Sum of Your Business follows that thought. Justin Trails Resort near Sparta, Wisconsin, loves winter fun. They’ve got snowshoeing, cross country skiing, a sweet snow tube hill, and even rentals for skijoring! Donna Justin took time out of her busy schedule to share some of what she’s learned in the three decades she and her husband have run Justin Trails Resort (pg. 51). Are bad roads/ your iced up car windows / snowed in driveway keeping you from getting out? Well, you’re in luck! Kristine Jepsen learns – and teaches us – how to ride EARL Public Transit here in Northeast Iowa. Spoiler alert: It’s super easy, and they take you right where you want to go (pg. 56). We also chatted with recycling guru Terry Buenzow over at Winneshiek County Recycling to get the 411 on what’s recyclable, what’s not, and what we should do with those broken twinkly lights and holiday extras (pg. 64). And finally, we’ve got yet another great probituary interview – Barb Welgos – to wrap things up (promise that’s not a holiday pun). Keep it koselig this winter, friends. It’s time to thrive! Here’s to an amazing 2018. Let’s do this.

Looking forward,

What’s it mean?

Inspire(d) Inspire(d) – pronounced in-spy-erd... you know: inspired – stands for both inspire and inspired. The idea is that person one inspires person two. That person is now inspired. Then that person inspires person three (or person one again), who is now inspired. Then the cycle continues! That’s what those arrows around the (d) are about! And our mission is, ultimately, to change the world… starting with our own community!

Who are we? Co-founders:

Aryn Henning Nichols / editor & designer Benji Nichols / writer & advertising sales (& husband, support team, dinner-maker)

We couldn’t do it without: Kristine Kopperud Jepsen / contributor Sara Friedl-Putnam / contributor Inspire(d) Magazine is published quarterly by Inspire(d) Media, LLC, 412 Oak Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. This issue is dated Winter 2017-18, issue 52 volume 11, Copyright 2017-18 by Inspire(d) Magazine.

support inspire(d) Although Inspire(d) is free on stands, you can have it sent to your door (or extended family!) for only $25/year. Email for a membership or visit for more info. Write inspire(d) Want to make a comment about something you read in the magazine? Email Interested in advertising? Contact Benji at or call 563-379-6315. Visit our website: Aryn Henning Nichols


What We’re


right now

Carrie Lee Kindness Rocks!

Carrie Lee Elementary School in Decorah is ready to “rock” with kindness! Students have been hard at work to spread good news and kindness to others this year, and you can be sure we here at Inspire(d) love everything about that! Students are currently working on a project to decorate rocks, and then write kind sayings on them for others to read. These rocks will be put in a rock garden outside of Carrie Lee in the spring, and the public is invited to help. Fun! Here’s what you do: Find a smooth rock out in nature (that’s part of the fun too), decorate it – keep in mind it needs to withstand outdoor elements and weather, so acrylic paints or an epoxy outer layer are probably a good idea – and write a kind saying on it. Completed Kindness Rocks can then be dropped off at the Carrie Lee office (210 Vernon St. Decorah) and they will be added to the collection over the fall and winter. Not into decorating your own rock? You can still help! Carrie Lee is looking for more flat or smooth rocks for students to decorate. If you would have 10, 20, or 100 to donate, they will gladly take them! Please drop rocks off at the Carrie Lee office as well. For more information contact the Carrie Lee office at 563-3823771. To see more about this project nationally, check out: www. Kindness does, indeed, rock, friends! Let’s help spread that word!

Beginner Beekeeping Series


Honey bees are some of the most amazing insects in the world – and some of the most important! Bees are responsible for a huge amount of pollination that happens across our region and beyond. The interest in keeping bees continues to grow, even with the challenges in having an apiary, and Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids wants to help make it all a little easier. The Nature Center is offering Iowa’s premier beekeeping class – an eight-session series that begins in January – to teach interested folks the ins and outs of keeping bees and producing honey. The classes will take students through the annual cycle of beekeeping over the coming months, from establishing a hive to harvesting and marketing honey. Plus, class attendees will gain valuable hands-on experience working with the hives of the educational apiary at Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids! Fun! This class series is designed for people serious about keeping bees in the future. Registration is required – you can do so online at or by contacting Indian Creek asap at 319-364-0662. The first class is January 12, 2018.

Dance & Theatre



MAY 3-12, 2018





Check out the entire 2017-18 Luther Dance & Theatre season online... and mark your calendars! 06

Winter 2017-18 /

Avey/Grouws Band plays International Blues Challenge Many of our readers may be familiar with Decorah’s Jeni Grouws, who is heard on the KDEC FM 100.5 morning show (amongst many other places!). A couple of years ago, she and guitarist Chris Avey crossed paths and realized they could combine their blues efforts to make quite a band. They’ve been playing across the Midwest ever since, and won the Iowa Blues Challenge this fall. That puts them on the road to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, January 17-20, 2018. It just so happens that getting a full band to Memphis in the middle of winter costs a few bucks though, so the band is hard at work playing shows to help cover their trip, so they can get there and hopefully bring home some honors! You can catch the Avey/Grouws Band at various upcoming shows including two nights at the High Court Pub in Lanesboro December 8 and 9, a duo show at the Charmant Hotel in La Crosse on December 15, and a full band NYE throw down at the Elks in Decorah with special guest Owen Miller on Sax. The band also has special merchandise that’s been created to help offset travel costs – check it out at a show or find more info on Facebook (Avey/Grouws Band), or And good luck Jeni, Chris, and band!


WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS? Considering all the variables, deciding when and how to take Social Security can be difficult. We have tools and resources to help you decide what’s right for you. Contact a financial representative today.

Decorah Area Team NEW LOCATION! 118 W Water St Decorah, IA 52101

Office: 563-382-1801 Toll-free: 844-349-7388

Big Turn Music Festival – Red Wing

Sam Brown has made a lot of friends in the last several years as he founded and helped build out the Mid West Music Fest in Winona. That festival has continued on to be a successful mainstay of the regional music scene, and has helped build a great community along the way. MWMF wasn’t Sam’s first festival though, and it’s looking like it won’t be his last. Sam has turned his sights up the river to his hometown of Continued on page 9

Thrivent Financial and its representatives and employees have general knowledge of the Social Security tenets; however, they do not have the professional expertise for a complete discussion of the details of your specific situation. For additional information, contact your local Social Security Administration office. Licensed agent/producer of Thrivent Financial, marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI. Registered representative of Thrivent Investment Management Inc., Minneapolis, MN. Member FINRA and SIPC. Appleton, Wisconsin • Minneapolis, Minnesota • 800-847-4836

27790 R7-17

Hosted 12 workshops in 2017 for small businesses, ranging from social media, online marketing, start your own business & more.

“It made a tremendous Awarded Biz Booster difference for us as we were getting / Mini-Ag Grants up and running.”

$17,000 in 2017

- Maren Beard Luna Valley Farm

Partnered with other development organizations from throughout the region & worked with CIRAS to develop a Workforce Recruitment Roadmap. New and current business counseling sessions More than 70 in 2017!

Administered 2017 Affordable Housing Study for Winneshiek County

What is it we DO, anyway?! Here are some highlights from 2017! Membership to WCDI is full of great benefits for you and your community!

Submitted a Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy grant application to the Iowa Department of Transportation on behalf of the City of Calmar and was awarded $135,000 for the completion of Huber Drive located in the Calmar Industrial Park.

Hosted STEAM Day at the Decorah Middle School for 5th – 8th graders to connect local businesses and local students, and help students learn more about local businesses and career opportunities.

Designated Winneshiek County as a Home Base Iowa Community, connecting veterans and transitioning service members with HBI partners and resources.

Connected empty storefronts with potential businesses We met with 33 retail building owners to try to find homes for 80 inquiries made by potential new businesses “WCDI was an outstanding resource. Friendly, super helpful, supportive and encouraging about my new business. Simply the best experience I've ever had with an organization like that (and I have had several).” - Stephen Larson, Backwater Spirits & More

Find in the2017-18 Chamber / Visitor’s Center downtown! • 507 W Water, Decorah • 563-382-6061 / 08 usWinter

Red Wing, Minnesota, to launch The Big Turn Music Fest with friends Brooke Herling, Assistant Director; Adam Brown, Creative Director; and Chris Warrington, Photographer. The festival will run February 16-17, 2018 in more than a dozen venues across the town, including the beautifully restored opera house, Sheldon Theatre. Upwards of 90 bands will play over the weekend, including Caroline Smith, Dave Simonett, Rogue Valley, Apollo Cobra, Porcupine, We Are The Willows, Ben Weaver, Mike Munson, The Heavy Set, and Decorah’s Meadowlark Valley. Wristbands are $25 a day or $40 for two days and can be purchased at the Sheldon Theater or at www. Also keep up with bigturnmusicfest for all the latest! See you up river this winter!

Inside & Outside seating! Great Venue for your next event!

Empty Nest Winery Upcoming Events

December 31: New Years Eve Murder Mystery Dinner Theater & champagne toast at midnight! Closed January 1 to February 4 Feb. 9, 10 & 11: 7th Annual Blind Wine Tasting New wines to taste & vote on + food & prizes!

Like us for details!

Beer Love!

If you know us, you might know we are pretty big fans of local beer – and the scene continues to be fantastic here in the Driftless! With Decorah favorites Pulpit Rock continuing to brew up fantastic small batches, and national favorite Toppling Goliath now canning their great beers right here in Decorah (and getting ready to open their new brewery and tasting room on Highway 9,) one might think the scene has already peaked – but not so! Since June, Karst Brewing has been keeping the weekends cozy (or koselig, perhaps) in Fountain, Minnesota, with their “nano” brewery. It’s open Fridays from 5-10pm, and Saturdays 12-10pm. They offer growler fills and a small indoor seating area for the winter – with outdoor seating and occasional food trucks in the warmer months. Heading up Highway 52 to Rochester, Forager Brewing Company has been open – and awesome – for a couple of years now. Housed in the old People’s Food Coop space, Kutzky Marketplace and Forager offer up some fantastic brews and food options. The gorgeous space works well through the seasons and is well designed top-to-bottom. Make a point of stopping for a beer – or for brunch – next time you’re in or through Rochester! A little farther to the south in Calmar, Iowa, Sara and Craig Neuzil at Pivo Brewery have just opened the doors and tapped the kegs on their house-brewed beers and cider. This is such a great addition to Calmar, and it will be a super fun stop on the Prairie Farmer Bike Trail come warmer temps. We can’t wait! There’s beer here and beer there to celebrate, but we also want to give a special shout out to our friends at the Root Note in downtown La Crosse, who are hosting a special “Decorah” themed night on February 16, with a Toppling Goliath tap takeover, and Joe and Vicki Price playing the blues all night long. It’ll be a sure fire way to warm up a cold winter night. Cheers!

Serving Wine, Fresh Sangria, Local Beers & House Ciders Hours: Sat. 10-5 & Sun 1-5. Closed Jan 1 - Feb 4 . 563-568-2758 . 1253 Apple Rd. Waukon, IA

Sponsored by KCCK 88.3 FM Postmodern Jukebox

Sunday, February FEBRUARY 11th AT 711PMat 7:00pm


Reserved Seating $46.50 + fees Silver Package $96.50 + fees VIP Gold Package $146.50 + fees

december 1-3 VIP


Valerie June Monday, February 19 at 8:00pm saturday, february 3

saturday, december 9 | 221 E. Washington St. Iowa City | (319) 688-2653

nate staniforth

saturday, december 16

postmodern jukebox

jim norton

sunday, february 11

winterland: best of europe ‘72 friday, december 22

euforquestra’s home for the holidays CO-PRESENTED WITH IOWA CITY YACHT CLUB saturday, January 13

SPONSORED BY KCCK 88.3 FM tuesday, february 13

tommy emmanuel


the second city


rebirth brass band

monday, february 19

sunday, january 14

Marty Stuart & His Fabulous superlatives


squirrel nut zippers SPONSORED BY KCCK 88.3 FM

valerie june friday, february 23

221. E. Washington St. Iowa City | | (319) 688-2653 \ WInter 2017-18


Looking for more details about events on the calendars? Check out these great winter activities! In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar!

EVERYTHING FROM JEANS TO SUITS! Extended hours! 130 W. Water St. Decorah, Iowa 563.382.5761

1. Through December 25: Helping Services for Youth and Families presents Holiday Lights – drive through display open every night (‘til Dec. 25) 5-9 pm, entry by donation, Decorah Campground.

M, T, W, F 9-6 Thursday 9-8 Saturday 9-5 Sunday 12-4

2. December 2: Allamakee Wood-Fired Pottery’s Annual Holiday Pottery Sale 10 am-4 pm Saturday, 2856 Blair Rd, New Albin (for directions) Houston, Minnesota 507-896-OWLS (6957)

Hours Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon: 10 AM–4 PM Call or check our website for extended summer hours and live owl programs



Adults: $5 / Ages 4–17: $3 Ages 3 and under: Free


Winter on the Farm ❆

❅ December 16 FREE EVENT

Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides 11am-3pm

❆ Holiday Sales Free Hot Chocolate

50% ❆ OFF

ALL 2017


Visitors Center Open 10am-5pm 3074 North Winn Rd • Decorah, IA • 563-382-5990 •



3. December 9: Family-fueled comedy, brilliantly-written drama, fresh interpretations of classic Christmas tunes. At Christmas with Mick Sterling and Friends, Potter Auditorium, Chatfield, MN. $22 in advance. 7:30pm.

25W/ $25B

4. December 15: The Stories We Tell: Illustrations by Lauren Bonney Opening Reception at 7-9pm, ArtHaus, Decorah

5. December 16: Enjoy Winter on the Farm at Seed Savers Exchange - take a sleigh ride, enjoy free cookies and cocoa, and shop for holiday gifts. 11am-3pm, 6. December 19: Preschoolers, come with your caregiver to Barnetimen (Children’s Hour) at Vesterheim, 10-11 am! Explore the museum, make art, eat a snack, have fun. FREE! 7. January 1: Don’t FREEZE this winter; stay warm and fit and check out Reefuel’s indoor cycling and yoga unlimited two weeks intro for new members: $20.18!  8: January 13: Door county folk duo, Katie Dahl & Rich Higdon, live at SE Minnesota’s premier listening room. Chatfield Center for the Arts. $20 in advance. 7:30pm

Sustainable Beautiful Efficient David J. Wadsworth • 563.419.0390 • 10

Winter 2017-18 /

9. January 16: Preschoolers, come with your caregiver to Barnetimen (Children’s Hour) at Vesterheim, 10-11 am! Explore the museum, make art, eat a snack, have fun. FREE!

fun stuff to do




DEC 8 - 9: Lanesboro Arts Emerging • Avey/Grouws, 2 nights at Artist Exhibit High Court Pub, Lanesboro Application • Go Cedar Rapids Fat Bike Weekend & Enduro Deadline!






5 4 15 16 Michael Winter on Lauren McElrath, the Farm, Bonney Artist Java John’s, Seed Savers, Reception, Decorah, 7-9pm 11am-3pm ArtHaus, 7pm Burning Bright What’s the Buzz? Intro to Christmas Sing- Hayes Carll, a-long, Java Beekeeping, Cavalier, La Cedar Rapids John’s, 7-9pm Crosse, 8pm


Joe & Vicki Price, Saxon Hall

3 8 9 Annie & The At Christmas Bang Bang, w/ Mick Trempealeau Sterling, Potter Hotel, 9pm Auditorium, Chatfield CFA








DEC 31: HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVE! DEC 30: • Murder Mystery Dinner, Empty Nest Winery • La Crosse Children’s Museum’s • Avey/Grouws Band + Owen Miller, Elks, Decorah Happy Noon Year 10-noon • Decorah Park Rec Family NYE Bash, Luther • Under Paris Skies, Regents Center, 6:30-10:30pm Trempealeau Hotel, 6-9pm • The Old Fashioneds, Trempealeau Hotel • Addison Israelson, Haymarket, 9pm • LB & The HiVolts, Thee OP, Lansing






23 20 Winter 21 Mayer 22 19 6 Steve Belay, Dec. 16: Solstice Brothers Band, Through Dec Barnetimen Trempealeau Winterland: 22: The Trial Children’s Hour Java John’s DEC 9: Best of Europe of Ebenezer Holiday Sing• Karate Chop Silence + Vesterheim, ’72, Englert, Scrooge, Decorah, 10am Driftwood Bones, Haymarket along, St. Mane, IA City Lanesboro Commonweal, • 4onthefloor, Ed’s Winona Lanesboro Joe & Vicki • Kwanzaa Celebration, Price, Safe Luther, 4pm House, Lansing



Phillip Freeman author reading, Dragonfly Books, 2 pm


CP Holiday Decorah Power Vesterheim Train visits “Koselig Cake Learning Series Marquette Break” every Luther Valders Wednesday! (4:15), Lansing 206, 7pm 3:30-4pm (6:10), New Ben Hippen, Albin (7:20), Christmas in Java John’s, La Crescent Decorah, 7-9pm the Union, (9pm) Luther, 4:30pm


2 1 2 DECEMBER 2: “Koselig” • Norwegian Christmas at Vesterheim, 10 am Allamakee Opens at • Porter House Museum Christmas Open Wood-Fired Vesterheim – House, 12-4pm, Decorah Pottery’s Cozy Up! • Gin Mill Hollow, Haymarket, 9 pm Holiday Sale • Pistol Whippin’ Party Penguins, Chatfield CFA Dec 1-2: ArtHaus Holiday Dec. 1-3 & 8-10: The Best Christmas Art Fair, Decorah Pageant Ever, Elkader Opera House


Dec 7-17: A Christmas Story, La Crosse Community Theatre

Davina & The Vagabonds, Thee OP, Lansing


3 Dec 3: 4 Stanton West ArtHaus & Joe Craven, Winter Landmark Children’s Art Center, Fundraiser, Viroqua, 1pm 5 pm & Ed’s No Name, Winona, 8pm

1 Open through Dec. 25: Holiday Lights – drive through display open every night 5-9pm, Decorah Campground


DEC 1-3: • The Art of the Entertainer, St. Mane, Lanesboro • Winneshiek Wilberry Winery Open House

December 7 8




Gregg Hall & The Wrecking Ball, Thee OP, Lansing

28 Winneshiek Wedding Market, Hotel Winneshiek, 12-4pm

Jan 20-21: Wisconsin Winter Free Fishing Weekend


The Craig Olson Project, Thee OP, Lansing


Squirrel Nut Zippers, Englert, IA City




Koselig Board Game Night, Vesterheim, 7-9pm


Barnetimen Children’s Hour, Vesterheim, Decorah, 10am



Koselig Nordic Noir Film Night, Vesterheim, 7pm

Don’t FREEZE this winter; stay warm and fit. Check out Reefuel’s indoor cycling & yoga. Unlimited 2 weeks intro for new members: $20.18!



The Stories We Tell: Lauren Bonney, through February 9, ArtHaus, Decorah



3 4




12 Joe & Vicki Price, Good Fellas, Waukon, 8pm




Mississippi String Band, Haymarket, 9pm 11 Jan 25-28: 47th Annual Driftrunners Snowmobile Club Snowfest!

Jan. 25 - Feb 11: Love. Marriage. And all that comes with it, La Crosse Community Theatre




KVR Winter Fest, La Farge, WI

Katie Dahl & Rich Higdon, Chatfield CFA, 7:30pm



JAN 20: • Koo Koo Kanga Roo: Warehouse, La Crosse 2pm & Ed’s, Winona, 9pm! • Contra Dance, Lingonberry, Decorah, 7:30 pm


January 13-28: Lanesboro Arts Juried High School Art Show


JAN 13: • Ryne Doughty, Haymarket, 9pm • Iowa Games 5k/10k Snowshoe Race, Ingawanis, Janesville • Katie Dahl & Rich Higdon, Chatfield CFA • Rebirth Brass Band, Englert, IA City


19 Charlie 20 17 10 18 Adonis Western Jan 18-21 & Puentes, SMU Parr w/ Ben Home Weaver, St. 26-27: New Page Series, String Band, Mane, 7:30pm Winona Minowa Players Java John’s, Grossology present The Decorah, Bo Ramsey & opens at Lion, The 7-9pm The 3rd Floor, La Crosse Witch, and The CSPS, Cedar Children’s Wardrobe Rapids, 8pm Museum! 24


Vesterheim “Koselig Cake Break” every Wednesday! 3:30-4pm




fun stuff to do


Valerie June, Englert, IA City






7 Tremepealeau Hotel opens for the year

Feb 22-24: MOSES Conference, La Crosse, WI


Barnetimen Children’s Hour, Vesterheim, Decorah, 10am


Koselig Board Game Night, Vesterheim, 7-9pm





Art of Time Ensemble, Luther CSS, CFL, Decorah

Danika & The Jeb, Chatfield CFA


Driftrunners Snowmobile Club Warming Bin Chili Feed!


Nate Staniforth, Englert, IA City

Barneløpet Kids Ski, Decorah Prairie, 9:40am


Feb 24: The Feb 23-24: Jersey Boys, Great Inflate, DHS Gym, $5, Gallagher 10am-2pm Bluedorn PAC, Cedar Falls

24 Marty 23 Stuart & His Lamajamal, Fabulous Luther CSS, Sperlatives, CFL, Decorah Englert Absolute Lil’ Ed and the Vance Gilbert, Hoot, Blues Imperials CSPS, Cedar Trempealeau Haymarket, Rapids, 7pm 9pm Hotel, 8pm 22

My Father’s Dragon, SMU Page Series, Winona

COMING UP MARCH 3: • Maple Syrup Fest & Sticky Stride 5k/10k, Hartman Reserve, Cedar Falls • Mike Munson & Mikkel Beckman, Haymarket, 9pm




Joe & Vicki Price, The RootNote, La Crosse


Happy Lunar New Year

Feb 9-11: Blind Wine Tasting, Empty Nest Winery, Waukon





Feb 2-3: Snowflake Ski Jump Competition, Westby


Feb 3: Winter Warrior Fatbike / Snowshoe duathlon, George Wyth Park, Waterloo

OFF / IPTV Present ‘The Film Lounge” Season 2 Premiere, T-Bocks Upstairs, 7pm


Feb 7-11: Frozen River 12 Film Festival, Winona

Feb 9-11: Winona Winter Carnival

Vesterheim “Koselig Cake Break” every Wednesday from 3:304pm through April 22


13 14 The 15 Celebrate Koselig Nordic Geardaddies, Love! Noir Film Night Mayo Civic Vesterheim, Feb 16-17: The Exhibit Hall, Second City, 7pm Rochester Englert, IA City Tommy Feb 17-18: Big Turn Music Emmanuel, Festival, Red Wing, MN Englert, IA City

FEB 10: • Trout Unlimited Fly Fishing Workshop for all ages! 10am-noon, DHS Gym • The Fattenin’ Frogs, Haymarket, 9pm • Joe & Vicki Price – Byron’s Birthday Bash! Pomeroy, IA

Cozy up with the Koselig exhibit at Vesterheim


Oneota Valley Community Orchestra, DHS, 2pm

Old Soul Society, Thee OP, Lansing


Contra Dance, UCC Fellowship Hall, Decorah, 2-3:30 pm

Postmodern Jukebox, Englert, IA City


Chris Avey Band, Thee OP, Lansing


“Love. Marriage. And all that comes with it”, La Crosse Community Theatre, Jan. 25 - Feb 11

Lanesboro Arts Emerging Artist Exhibition opening February 3




fun stuff to do

25W/ $25B












Inspire(d) World’s Greatest Party


Date (not included in word count): Worlds Greatest Party! 7-10 pm. Inspire(d) invites you to the greatest party ever! We’ll have amazing amounts of fun! See you there!



Questions? Email

(Direct link:

See - we told you about our amazing fictional party in less than 25 words! On the visual calendar (like the one at left), your event will be listed along with a number that corresponds. People can just scan on over to the following pages to get the details!


Simple! We get an email with all your details exactly as you’d like to see them in the listing, and then we add it to the calendar!

It works like this: 1. Go to and click on the 25W/$25B sidebar box 2. Enter your information in our online form 3. Click through to PayPal to complete the transaction

Thus we’ve implemented a simple, expandable list of events for the pages following our regular calendars. Those who are planning “fun stuff to do” get a guaranteed spot on the calendar and in that event listing by purchasing “25 Words/$25 Bucks.”

We know it’s a tough racket to put on live music, activities, and special events, so we want to give you a chance to get the word out without breaking the bank.

Calendar time is always an exciting time at Inspire(d) Headquarters. “Just how much can we fit on there this month?!?” In recent years, what we had chosen for these lovely pages had been entirely editorial and subjective. We figured, hey, you like our magazine, so you’ll probably like the fun stuff to do that we pick out from around our region. But we’re running out of space and want you, our lovely readers, friends, and fellow event planners, to be able to tell us a little more about your fun.

25 Words/$25 Bucks


Looking for more details about events on the calendars? Check out these great winter activities! In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar!


25W/ $25B

11. January 25-28: 47th Annual Driftrunner’s Snowfest! Fairgrounds Cresco, Iowa. Trail rides, raffle, Trouble Shooter Band Saturday night. Facebook “Driftrunners Snowmobile Club” for details. 12. February 7-11: The Frozen River Film Festival offers documentary films, speakers, and programming that engage, educate and activate our community to become involved in the world. 13. February 10: Ride your snowmobile to the Driftrunner’s warming bin near Granger for Charlie’s Chili Feed. Soup available to warm you up! Facebook “Driftrunners Snowmobile Club” for details. 14. February 17: Nashville’s soulful acoustic pop/blues/ country duo Danika and the Jeb LIVE at SE MN’s premier listening room. Chatfield Center for the Arts, $17 in advance. 7:30pm. 15. February 20: Preschoolers, come with your caregiver to Barnetimen (Children’s Hour) at Vesterheim, 10-11 a.m.! Explore the museum, make art, eat a snack, have fun. FREE!

404 West Water St, Decorah, Iowa . 563.419.4016 Mon-Fri 10am-4pm . Sat 10am-3pm .

118 Washington St. Decorah, Iowa

10. January 18-21 & January 26-27: New Minowa Players presents The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. More information at or call Sheryl at 563-379-5738 563.419.3141 Single origin pour overs. Nitro Cold Brew. Bulk Coffee. DINNER: WED-SAT – OPEN AT 5 SUNDAY BRUNCH: 9-1 RESERVATIONS RECOMMENDED & GREATLY APPRECIATED

bar menu available + DON’T MISS OUR WINE SHOP!

117 WEST WATER STREET, DECORAH . 563.382.WINE Rubaiyat gift certificates are always a great idea!


FOR EVERY BODY. Gabi Masek, Dipl.OM, L.Ac / 563-382-4312


restoration & weatherization

Residential & light commercial construction David J. Wadsworth • 563.419.0390 • \ WInter 2017-18



KOSELIG By Sara Friedl-Putnam Photos by Aryn Henning Nichols

Time for tea!

Board games are a fun way to koselig-up your next party! We love to play Scrabble at Inspire(d) HQ!


Winter 2017-18 /

This is our go-to chocolate cake. It’s SO GOOD! Find the recipe at

Candles are a great way to up the koselig factor!

Look forward to some great local book suggestions in this Inspire(d)!

Try taking up a new hobby or being a maker this winter! \ WInter 2017-18




Firepit artwork by Roxie Nichols, age 5.


Winter 2017-18 /

By Sara Friedl-Putnam

When the weather in the Driftless turns downright frigid, take a cue from the Norwegians and ward off the wintertime blues by mastering the art of koselig. Your breath turns to frost and your eyes start to water upon your first step outdoors. You oh-so-carefully dodge ice, snow, and slush on the sidewalks and streets, and dress in layers so thick you need to budget unbundling time once back inside. And, perhaps most of all, you crave any ray of sunshine during impossibly short days. Dreadful? Or delightful? It’s all a matter of perspective. If you’re one who dreads the advent of winter in the Driftless, you’re certainly not alone. But did you know that some of the happiest folks on the planet (ahem, Norwegians) actually embrace and celebrate those dark, cold winter months? Imagine, for a moment, a group of Norwegians, clad in thick wool sweaters and fuzzy, warm socks, huddled by a gentle fire in a room lit by candles. They’re playing board games, drinking varmsjokolade (hot chocolate), and laughing out loud. That’s just one snapshot of koselig (“koos-uh-lee”), an essentially untranslatable Norwegian word that describes a core part of Norway’s national identity. A home, a chat, a meal, a person… all can be considered koselig. Basically, any time you want to seize the moment and create love, comfort, and happiness, you’re creating koselig. Good food on the table, friends over for drinks, fresh pancakes (or vaffles) in the morning, a sunny day out cross country skiing with friends on that just-fallen snow: each koselig in its own way. Denizens of the Driftless will have the opportunity to learn about and, better yet, experience koselig through a special exhibit that opens this December at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah. “‘Cozy’ is possibly the closest translation, but it’s much more than coziness,” explains Zach Row-Heyveld, Vesterheim’s exhibitions manager. “It’s a sense of contentment, warmth, and comfort and all sorts of other enjoyable things beyond what we think of as coziness – it describes just about anything and everything that evokes warm, fuzzy feelings.” 

What: Koselig special exhibition Where: Asbjørnsen Gallery (the front gallery on the first floor just off the lobby), Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 502 West Water Street, Decorah When: December 1, 2017 through April 22, 2018 Learn more: \ WInter 2017-18


A steaming cup of coffee is a koselig Mainstay.


Winter 2017-18 /

photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

And those warm, fuzzy feelings are why, even though the winters are freezing and unavoidably dark, Norway has time and again proven to be one of the world’s happiest places, according to the United Nations “World Happiness Report.” Norway took first place in the World Happiness Report in 2017, followed by Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland. Year after year, Norway hangs out at the top of this list thanks partially to the undeniably strong sense of community it cultivates by keeping things koselig. “It’s not just an aesthetic,” explains Row-Heyveld. “People light candles, strike up fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets – they intentionally and instinctively create these kinds of koselig environments in their workplaces and schools and homes, and they are happier for it.” And thanks to the efforts of RowHeyveld and his Vesterheim colleagues, Driftless residents need not travel all the way to Scandinavia to learn how to make winter a season to embrace and (gasp!) enjoy. To cultivate koselig in downtown Decorah, Vesterheim transformed its Asbjørnsen Gallery into an immersive living-room environment, replete with

low lighting, comfy seating, slow TV (more on that in a bit), and hot coffee on tap. “We want people to slow down, relax, and kick up their feet upon entering the space,” says Row-Heyveld. “Who knows…we may even have some Norwegian sweaters that folks can wear while there, and we will definitely offer a range of special programs throughout the exhibit’s run that emphasize this sense of coziness and community.” Those programs include board game and Nordic noir film nights, handcraft-focused gatherings, cake breaks (heck yeah!), and the chance to sit back and take in relaxing slow TV programs. “Winter presents an opportunity to explore things that you can only do – or perhaps best do – when the weather is cold,” says RowHeyveld. “And Vesterheim is excited to help folks in the Driftless explore koselig as a way to use those opportunities the cold weather brings to feel warmer all winter.” After decades of bemoaning the advent of winter, Sara FriedlPutnam is more than ready to get koselig this winter. To the surprise of none who know her eating habits, she is most looking forward to spending Wednesday afternoons indulging in cake at Vesterheim.

A Chloe Ellefson Mystery

From bestselling author Kathleen Ernst and Midnight Ink comes the newest Chloe Ellefson historic sites mystery about how far good people will go to protect those they love. Museum curator Chloe Ellefson is excited to learn about Cornish immigrants and mining while on temporary loan to Pendarvis, a historic site in charming Mineral Point. But everything changes when her cop boyfriend Roelke McKenna finds human remains buried in an old cottage. Soon Chloe is caught up in a controversy that threatens Pendarvis. Struggling to keep it open, Chloe must unearth dark secrets—past and present—before a killer buries her. Available in trade paperback and ebook formats from independent bookstores as well as Amazon, Apple iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Google Play and Kobo.

By Kathleen Ernst

Large Print Coming January 3rd \ WInter 2017-18


Håndverksted – 2 pm, third Sunday of each month, December - March

Head on over to Vesterheim Museum in Decorah for some koselig fun this winter!

The Norwegian tradition of håndverksted (“hond-verks-ted”) is time set aside to work on handwork or crafts while enjoying a hot cup of coffee and quiet conversation with others. Pack up your ​fiber project in progress and head to Vesterheim’s Bruening Visitors Center at 2 pm on the third Sunday of each month through March to experience håndverksted for yourself. What qualifies? Weaving, spinning or spindling, knitting, crocheting, quilting, needle felting, embroidery – pretty much any handcraft project that’s fit to travel.

Backgammon, anyone? Pull out your favorite board games and get ready to make some new friends. Vesterheim, partnering with Games XP, will open up its main building for two hours starting at 7 pm on the fourth Tuesday of each month from January through March for you to have fun the good, oldfashioned way: playing board games. Bring a game, or just come ready to learn a new one.

Koselig cake breaks – 3:30 pm, every Wednesday, December 6 through April 22 Cake, community, and conversation about compassion ­– what’s not to like? Swing by Vesterheim’s main building at 3:30 each Wednesday from December 6 through April 22 to enjoy a treat (or two!) and learn more about empathy… some researchers suggest that empathy is the key to high levels of happiness in the Scandinavian countries.

Nordic noir film nights – 7 pm, January 9, February 13, March 13, and April 10 They’re dark, unsettling, and, oh yes, prime for fostering koselig. Bring your favorite blanket and settle in for crime films, Nordic-style (think bleak landscapes and dark moods). Vesterheim and Luther College’s Nordic Studies Program have partnered to bring Nordic noir films to the museum’s main building at 7 pm on the second Tuesday of each month from January through April.

Board game nights – 7-9 pm, January 23, February 27, and March 27

Slow TV, ongoing through exhibit December 1 through April 22, 2018 What could be more relaxing than kicking up your feet and taking in a mesmerizing tour of Scandinavia’s breathtaking landscape from the perspective of a moving train? In 2009 the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation launched the “Slow TV” phenomenon by broadcasting, unedited, a seven-hour train journey from Bergen to Oslo. That slice of slow TV along with hundreds of hours of other Norwegian slow TV programs will run continuously during the course of the exhibit.


Specializing in

COME VISIT OUR SHOWROOM | 1813 Trout Run Road Decorah | 563-382-9360 | 20

Winter 2017-18 /

Only 30 minutes away from Decorah, this full service community offers a variety of great dining options, unique antique, furniture & gift shops, & exciting recreational opportunities. Explore Niagara Cave, tour the Amish countryside, & pedal your way through 60 miles of paved bike trail! Harmony also offers a wide array of services businesses ready to meet your every need.

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Lunch & dinner 7 days/week • Breakfast on Sat and Sun

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December-March, call for to-go pizzas on Fridays from 4-7:30 pm

Celebrating our 16th year in business! Homemade is the key to our success!

Niagara Cave & Mini Golf Nationally recognized as one of the Top Ten Caves in the United States

On our 1-hour guided tour…


Mon - Sat 10-5 Sun 11-4 We deliver anywhere!

• Hike 1 mile underground to depths of 200 ft. • Discover fossils ~450 million years old • See delicate & massive cave formations • Temperature is 48° F (9°C) • Walking shoes are recommended

Also enjoy…

• Miniature Golf • Concessions • Gemstone Mining • Picnic Grounds • Unique Gifts

Check website for off season hours 570 Main Ave N., Harmony, MN 55939 507-886-2777 •

507- 886 - 6606 29842 County Road 30 -

Harmony, MN 55939

For a FREE Visitor Guide, call 1-800-288-7153 or visit us on the web at

What’s Happening at Vesterheim this winter?

Vesterheim’s Folk Art School Norwegian Culture Programs for Youth Winter, spring, and fall sessions—sign up for one or all!


For ages 10-17:

Fun with Fiber for Kids with Laura Demuth*

Kids-maling (Painting) —”Frozen”

December 1, 2017 - April 22, 2018 Opening Event Dec. 1, 2:00-2:30p.m.

with Sally Stromseth*

Whittling Klubb for Kids with Rebecca Hanna*

Come get cozy with Vesterheim in this new exhibit and discover the Norwegian secret to surviving winter—warm drinks, wool socks, close friends, and an untranslatable word! Check for announcements of special events this winter: Board Game Night, Nordic Noir, Cake Break, and more! Sponsored by Kate, Robin, and James Martinson with support from Jerry and Mary Paulson.


February 3, 2018

For ages 13-17:

Kids: Forging With Fire with Brian Fuhrmann

For ages 8-10:

Norsk Skole

with Luther College Nordic Studies Students

Sign up n begins i r! e Decemb

Register online at

* Funded by the American Scandinavian Foundation.

Classes half price on stand-by for Winneshiek County residents.

Creating koselig! At Vesterheim’s Museum Store


Get outside and enjoy the winter at this non-competitive ski or walk event for children ages 3-13. At the Decorah Prairie Start time: 10:00 a.m. Registration: 9:40 a.m. Sponsored by Sons of Norway Lodges in Decorah, Lanesboro, and Spring Grove, and Jon and Mary Hart in memory of Kjell Berntsen.


The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center Decorah, Iowa • • 563-382-9681

Sweaters, Blankets, Décor, Tableware, Candles, ....and more!


the koselig way!


e talk a lot about surviving winter, but how about thriving it? Let’s take some inspiration from those hardy Norwegians. In the winter in Norway, there are parts of the country that experience “polar nights” – days where the sun doesn’t make it over the horizon. The farther north you go above the Arctic Circle, the more polar nights there are. Tromsø, a town 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, has 60 polar nights in a row. Talk about dark winters. So perhaps because of necessity – or perhaps just because they’re super smart – Norwegians know a thing or two when it comes to fending off the wintertime blues. Mostly, they do it through the warm fuzzy feelings of koselig. Getting koselig is more than being cozy – it’s a mentality and a way of life. And it’s easier than you might think. Light some candles, make a hot beverage (coffee, cocoa, tea, hot toddy?!), and snuggle up under a fuzzy blanket with your favorite movie. Or invite some friends over for tasty food and a board game…or get out on the town. There are lots of ways to get koselig. Turn the page to check out our infographic with even more ideas for thriving this winter.

Happy winter! May your days be merry and koselig!

Where local & organic aren’t just a corner of our store, they are the cornerstone of our cooperative business.


FOOD COOPErative decorah, iowa




Water Street Caf é f r e s h .

o r g a n i c .

l o c a l .

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everyone can shop

everyone welcome

grocery bulk produce café meat cheese bakery wine/beer supplements body care

no membership required \ WInter 2017-18



Or get out and about – enjoy the company of good friends at a local restaurant.

Find a winter hobby – make something! There are lots of businesses in town with open studio hours or maker supplies.

If (when?) there’s snow, give skiing or snowshoeing a whirl – get inspired by the beauty of nature.

s e o l i k g way! e h t

Bake bread, cinnamon rolls, cookies, cake… anything, really…warm oven + the smell of fresh baked goods + eating fresh baked goods = koselig, for sure.

Let there be (cozy) light: Turn on your lamps, put up a new string of fairy lights, light some candles, and get that fireplace rolling (if you’ve got one).

Invite friends over for a koselig night in: good food, drinks, and a round or two of your favorite board game.

Treat yourself – massage, yoga, acupuncture, or even just a warm bath. Wash your sheets – fresh sheet day is the best!

Read a book. Really, is there anything more inspiring than getting lost in a great novel? See all the local authors in this issue for a fun reading list!

Snuggle up under a blanket and pull on some warm, fuzzy socks or slippers. Then put on a favorite childhood movie (or Netflix…or your kid’s favorite cartoon).

Dress in bright clothes. Sometimes you gotta fake it to make it.

Dig out a favorite mug and fill it with hot cider, coffee, cocoa, or tea – it doesn’t matter what you choose, but it’s more koselig if it’s steaming hot.

ACUPUNCTURE QIGONG HERBAL MEDICINE 563.382.9309 309 W. Broadway Decorah, Iowa

Let us create an


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Downtown Decorah!






Introduction/recipe adaptations by Aryn Henning Nichols


Les Wigs Renee

Mother / Daughter Makeovers

111 E. Water St. Decorah, Iowa. 563.382.6212

ake is so festive. Just hearing the word makes me think of a celebration, and that’s exactly the feeling we’re going for this winter here at Inspire(d) HQ! When we heard about the weekly Cake Breaks at Vesterheim Museum in Decorah this winter (3:30 pm every Wednesday!), we were SO. ON. BOARD! I was, subsequently, then thinking about cake, and decided – “Hey, why just Wednesdays? Let’s make a cake today!” I wondered to myself: What kind of cake would a Norwegian make? A little research led me to discover there is a National Cake of Norway (genius!), and it’s claimed to be the “verden’s beste kake”! World’s Best Cake! What?! Tell me more! Verden’s beste kake, also known as Kvæfjordkake, is a sponge cake topped with light meringue, and filled with whipped cream (and vanilla pudding if so desired). This cake is utterly rich in flavor and totally light and airy, all at the same time. Previously known as “Kongekake” (King’s Cake), word on the street is it switched names in the 1930s, when Hulda Ottestad, a cafe owner in Kvæfjord bought a Danish recipe for 200 kroner – just over $30, which was a lot of dough at the time. (Haha, get it?) She and her sister developed it into the popular recipe we see today. Of course, I had to try baking the World’s Best Cake. More sleuthing brought a few recipes to the head. After working mainly from Sweet Paul Magazine’s version, I made some adaptations of my own. Would I call it the World’s Best? Well, I’m more of a chocolate cake gal myself, but this recipe is a really good one, and it makes a really pretty and unique cake (see photo on next page) for any party or family gathering. Enjoy!


on page 30


Winter 2017-18 /

cake break!

Meet the Luther Catering Team JUSTIN SCARDINA Director of Catering

With a combined total of over 60 years of fine dining experience, the Luther Catering Team is ready to take your event from ordinary to extraordinary. They are pleased to offer you a diverse and unique menu that your guests will be talking about for many years to come. Contact the team today so they can guide you through this process and to start transforming your ideas into reality!


Luther College


CALEB TIMP Executive Chef

563.387.1395 • • Luther College, Decorah, Iowa

JESSIE TANSKI Assistant Director of Catering


Affordable Elegance







Verden’s Beste Kake! Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols. Recipe on page 30. 29

Kvæfjordkake Ingredients

Est. 1961

People you can trust. Quality you can depend on.


For the cake + meringue: 10 ½ tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 1⁄2 tablespoons) butter, softened 1 2⁄ 3 cups granulated sugar, separated 1 1⁄ 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 5 large eggs, separated 1⁄ 3 cup whole milk 1 teaspoon almond extract 1⁄2-1 cup sliced almonds For the cream filling: 1 1/2 cup heavy cream 1⁄2 vanilla bean (or 1 t vanilla extract) 1 tablespoon sugar Optional: 1 box vanilla pudding, prepared (or make your favorite homemade vanilla custard recipe)






1. Preheat oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle position. Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper. It’s better to use a metal pan, not glass. 2. Beat butter & 2⁄ 3 cup of sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light & creamy, 2-3 mins. 3. Add the flour and baking powder and mix well on low speed. 4. Separate the eggs (saving the whites in a large clean bowl for the meringue). 5. Mix the egg yolks and milk into the batter. 6. Scrape the batter into the baking pan. 7. Beat the egg whites and the remaining 1 cup sugar to soft peaks. Spread on top of the cake layer. Sprinkle with the almond slices (use more or less depending on your preference). 8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the meringue is light golden brown and puffed (don’t bake it too long or the cake part can get slightly dry!). 9. Cool on a wire rack in the pan, then transfer to a cutting board. 10. When the cake is cool, put the cream in a medium bowl and scrape in the vanilla seeds or add the extract (vanilla pod certainly makes it more luxurious and flavorful) and 1 tablespoon sugar. Throw away the vanilla pod. Beat the cream to soft peaks with an electric mixer, about 2-3 minutes. In a separate bowl, prepare the vanilla pudding, if using, and fold into the cream.

Monday: 9am - 8pm Tues - Fri: 9am - 5pm Saturday: 9am - 3pm 3 goldsmiths 2 graduate gemologists 1 watchmaker 3 diamond setters

31 West Main Street Waukon, Iowa 800.932-7028 • 563.568-3661 30 01

11. Cut the cake in half crosswise with a serrated knife. Place one half of the cake on a serving tray and cover with most of the cream mixture. Place the other half, meringue side up, on top. Plop some cream and sliced strawberries on top of that, and feel free to save any extra cream for serving. This is a super tall cake! 12. Cover or wrap (maybe use some toothpicks on top to keep the wrap from hitting the meringue) and let the cake sit at least one hour in the fridge before serving. You can even make it the night before a party – the flavors meld together well! Notes: Strawberries are a really nice addition, and coffee goes REALLY well with this cake. Many recipes for this cake include folding vanilla pastry cream or custard (or boxed vanilla pudding) in with the whipped cream. I’m sure this would be delightful! I didn’t do that for the cake pictured (I just used whipped cream), but I’m thinking I’ll try it the next time I make this cake! Rest assured if vanilla pudding is not your style: It was great with just the whipped cream too!

Winter 2017-18 /

becomes TinkerHaus (open studio)! Every Saturday 1 to 4 pm Don’t want to make a mess at home? ANYONE can drop in to create ANYTHING. We’ve got tons of supplies for you to use! PLUS: • Register for kids & adult classes • Book our space for a fun party

Details at

508 W. Water St, Decorah. 563.382.5440



Do you have bored kids? Has watching Bob Ross re-runs fired up your need to fill a canvas? We can help you get what you need. We sell goods and dispense ideas to feed your inner maker: Art Supplies, STEM Kits, Paper Resources, Coding and Electronics Bits, Maker Stuff.

110 Winnebago St, Decorah. 563.382.4086


• Create at Open Studio Hours • Check out Clay Classes / Mud Club • Host a Private Party

Tap into your creative side and make some Goods with a class in Polymer Clay, Beaded Jewelry, Hand-dyed Silk Scarves. Plus jewelry repair, crafts, and art in-store!


Tue, Th: 6-9 pm . Wed, Fri: 3:30-6 pm . Sat: 1-4 pm

207 Washington St, Decorah. 563.517.1022

301 W. Water St, Decorah. 563.382.4174

Folk Art School

Fun classes for every level: beginning quilting & sewing on up. Plus project inspiration storewide, & sewing machines to fit any budget with free guide classes to learn the machine. Check out classes – like Embroidery Club, Let’s Get Stripping, Friday After Closing, & more at

415 W. Water St, Decorah. 563.382.4646


Try your hand at silver working, weaving, rosemaling and painting, forging and metalworking, woodcarving, and much more at Vesterheim’s Folk Art School. Creating connections through living traditions!

520 W. Water St, Decorah. 563.382.9681 31



ConcerT Series

Katie Dahl & Rich Higdon

January 13

Peter Mulvey

March 17


LOCAL Q&A with

Connor Garvey

April 14

Kathleen Ernst Keith Lesmeister Steve Semken

Joe Crookston April 28

+ a great line-up of local books for your winter reading pleasure!

bringing the best in original folk music to Southeast Minnesota’s premier listening room

in beautiful Chatfield, MN

405 Main St S • 507.884.7676 32

Winter 2017-18 /

Special thanks to Dragonfly Books in Decorah for assistance with these stories and photos.

Purl Up & Knit for a Spell Yarn, Knitting & Fiber Art Supplies, Classes, & More! Introduction and interviews by Aryn Henning Nichols


hen I was in fourth grade, I used to pretend to be sick so I could stay home and read books (sorry, mom). I’m 36 years old now – so it wasn’t a hundred years ago or anything – but it was a time before TV streaming and social media…we didn’t even have cable. So books were the entertainment, and I loved reading them. In college at the University of Iowa, I had to read a lot for classes, of course – especially with my English and journalism majors – but I still made time for fun reading. And it was magical to finish a book and then go see the author at a reading at Iowa City’s Prairie Lights Books. That combination – books + local bookstores + author readings – brought my imagination to life. It felt like a peek behind the writerly curtain in a way I just loved. We’re lucky to have an amazing bookstore here in Decorah, Dragonfly Books. They host author readings, recommend great books – like the local ones featured here – and, in general, add a coziness (or koselig-ness!) to downtown Decorah that we really love. Other communities across the Driftless have their own versions – to name a handful: Driftless Books in Viroqua, Paperbacks and Pieces in Winona, Pearl Street Books in La Crosse, and, of course, Prairie Lights is still going strong in Iowa City. These bookstores are here to provide us with the materials we need to be smarter, more fun, and more empathetic. All that in a pile of paper? Indeed. There are so many benefits to reading – it’s brings our stressors down, improves the quality of our sleep, increases our vocabulary and brain power, and helps us see how other people might live and feel through their stories, both fictional and real. Somewhere along the line, I stopped reading so much, and I’d like to remedy that this winter. Winter is the perfect time to snuggle in with a good book. Bonus koselig points if it’s next to a fire, and bonus community points if that book is local. Wow, we have a wealth of cool local writers – and publishers – in our area. I was excited to catch up with three such folks: seasoned author, Kathleen Ernst; the freshly first-published Keith Lesmeister; and long-time independent book publisher Steve Semken of Ice Cube Press. Read on to hear their stories!

Tues – Wed & Fri: 11 am – 5 pm Sat: 10 am – 4 pm Thurs: 11 am – 8 pm Sun: 12 – 4 pm

563-517-1059 •

303 W. Water St • Decorah, Iowa •563.382.4941

Hair salon + Manicures & Pedicures Facials • Makeup

Luxury salon & day spa



@kdraedecorah • 101 East Water Street • 563-382-0301


(continued on next page)

Pssst: Man, we know there are really a lot of great authors in this area. If you’re an author and we didn’t include you and your book(s), we apologize! We’ll keep putting together stories about cool people and writers in the region, and we’ll keep you in mind for the future.

M-F 10-15 • Sat 10-4 • Sun 12-4

563-382-4646 | \ WInter 2017-18


In The Driftless Reader, editors Curt Meine & Keefe Keeley collected more than 80 texts: local contributors + writings by Black Hawk, Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frank Lloyd Wright, Aldo Leopold, David Rhodes, and more + explorers, scientists, historians, farmers, songwriters, journalists, and poets. The Driftless Reader provide a deeper appreciation for this region’s layered natural and human history.

Her Lost Year: A Story of Hope and a Vision for Optimizing Children’s Mental Health by Tabita Green, with Rebekah Green of Decorah. An intimate story of parenting and navigating the mental health system.

Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God – a memoir by Lori Erickson, a travel writer from Iowa City. After spending her childhood on an Iowa farm north of Decorah, Lori Erickson grew up to travel the world as a writer specializing in holy sites ­– journeys that led her on an ever-deepening spiritual quest.

My Family and Other Hazards by June Melby: “A funny, heartwarming memoir about saying goodbye to your childhood home, in this case a quirky, one-of-a-kind, family-run miniature golf course in the woods of Wisconsin.” 34

Winter 2017-18 /

Building the Agricultural City, by Robert Wolf of Decorah, demonstrates the need for rural Americans to work cooperatively to create selfreliant, decentralized economies.

local books

Mining for Justice by Kathleen Ernst Read more about this popular Wisconsin author and her books on page 36.

True (…Sort Of) by Katherine Hannigan “Can friendship save you? The day Ferris Boyd moves to town, Delly Pattison is sure a special surpresent (a present that is a surprise) is on its way. Instead, Delly ends up in even more trouble than usual.” Katherine Hannigan, author of National Bestseller Ida B. and many other popular children’s and YA books, lives and writes in rural Northeast Iowa.

Way of the Sage, by Mary Jorgensen of Decorah, provides peaceful theories, examples, and practical exercises to manage your personal wisdom and nurture the strength of your own soul.

In The Gospel of Mary, by Philip Freeman, “an old and dying nun has turned up at Deirdre’s monastery in sixth-century Ireland with an ancient manuscript claiming to be a previously unknown gospel written by Mary, the mother of Jesus.” Catch Philip at a coffee hour at Dragonfly Books on December 17 at 2 pm.

We Could’ve Been Happy Here by Keith Lesmeister Check out the interview with this Decorahbased writer on page 41 \ Winter 2017-18


Q&A with kathleen ernst Interview and introduction by Aryn Henning Nichols


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isconsin author Kathleen Ernst’s own history reads like a novel: “I’ve worn many bonnets over the years: writer, reader, historical interpreter, curator, reenactor, naturalist, educator. Never had a job I didn’t love! As a child, I dreamed of being a full-time writer. Now I have the fun of writing books about ideas that fascinate me, experiences that moved me, and historical tidbits that capture my imagination,” she sums up beautifully, like a writer would, on her website. Kathleen, now 58, grew up surrounded by books, with a librarian mother and a father who was an avid reader. Her mom would bring home historical fiction about any upcoming family vacation they were planning, and Kathleen and her two sisters would often stay up late reading under the covers with a flashlight. It’s just like you might imagine an author’s childhood. But Kathleen was also very interested in the world outside those books. She spent several summers working in Western Maryland, backpacking 500 miles on the Appalachian Trail, canoeing on the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, and biking along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. She went on to Photos courtesy Kathleen Ernst study forestry at West Virginia University, and planned to be a park ranger. “People are sometimes perplexed when they learn that I have with degrees in forestry and in history!” she says. “I studied environmental education as an undergraduate, but also took a lot of history and writing courses. Later I earned a Masters in History Education and Writing, which focused on nontraditional ways of teaching history, and covered topics like museum education and historical fiction.”  It was a useful background for her writings today. “To me, it’s easier to think about the lives of people long gone if you have an understanding of their environment.” Kathleen’s first permanent job was at an outdoor living history museum called Old World Wisconsin in Waukesha County. Old World has more than 60 restored buildings, situated on 576 acres within a state forest. “It was the best training ground imaginable for an historical fiction writer!” Kathleen started working at Old World in 1982, just six years after it first opened, and stayed for more than a decade. After that, she worked as a television writer until finally becoming a full-time writer in 2004. Her first published historical fiction novels were The Night Riders of Harpers Ferry and The Bravest Girl in Sharpsburg. She’s gone on to create the popular Chloe Ellefson series – eight so far – and has published 36 books in total, 20 of them American Girl novels. “I became aware of American Girl when I was working at Old World Wisconsin, before I started publishing books. Occasionally someone from the company would call with a question about some historical detail. I was always glad to help, and I’d daydream about writing for the company,” she

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says. “Then I did start getting book contracts, the first several for historical novels for young readers. One of those books found its way to the desk of an American Girl editor who was looking for historical fiction writers. She called to offer me the chance to try writing a historical mystery for a new line they were developing, History Mysteries. That was the beginning of a long relationship!” Kathleen and her husband, “Mr. Ernst” (Scott), live in Middleton, Wisconsin. They recently celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary, and have worked as business partners since he retired in 2010. “My writing career had just reached a point where handling the writing and the marketing/promotion was getting to be way too much for me,” Kathleen says. “I was starting a big project for American Girl (creating the historical character Caroline) and the first Chloe Ellefson mystery (Old World Murder) was just picked up by a publisher. Since Scott’s background is in sales and marketing, it was the perfect time for us to start working together.” Kathleen’s most recent Chloe Ellefson book, Mining for Justice was released in October 2017 (paperback is out now too)! The story takes place in September 1983 in Eagle, Palmyra, and Mineral Point, Wisconsin, with an historical plotline set in Cornwall, England during the 1820s and Mineral Point in the 1830s and 1860s. You can meet Kathleen and check out Mining for Justice and other Kathleen Ernst books at a book signing on December 2, 2017, from 1 to 4 pm at Vesterheim Museum in Decorah as part of Vesterheim’s Norwegian Christmas event. (continued on next page)

local books Mining for Justice by Katheleen Ernst Digging Up Secrets Uncovers a Legacy of Peril Chloe Ellefson is excited to be learning about Wisconsin’s Cornish immigrants and mining history while on temporary assignment at Pendarvis, a historic site in charming Mineral Point. But when her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, discovers longburied human remains in the root cellar of an old Cornish cottage, Chloe reluctantly agrees to mine the historical record for answers. She soon finds herself in the middle of a heated and deadly controversy that threatens to close Pendarvis. While struggling to help the historic site, Chloe must unearth dark secrets, past and present, before a killer comes to bury her.

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local books 3D Printing: The Revolution in Personalized Manufacturing by Melissa Koch Newly-transplanted-to-Decorah author Melissa Koch lays out the industry of 3D printing in this new book. Want to learn more? Here’s a synopsis: 3D printing was once only known through science fiction. But inventors and engineers began experimenting in real life with 3D printing to find faster ways to develop and build prototypes, using computers, ultraviolet lasers, and printable materials. Now, there are many innovative uses for 3D printing. Learn how 3D printing works – plus the drawbacks – in this new local book.

Kathleen Ernst Q&A 1. It seems, with writing (and a lot of things, really), one of the hardest parts is getting started. How do you get the first words going for a new book? Do you work typical hours, or whenever the writing seems to flow? I learned a long time ago that it’s best to simply plunge in. I start with a basic premise or idea, not knowing exactly where the story will end up. I don’t worry about perfecting the first chapter at this stage; the first chapter is always the last thing I tinker with, making sure it sets up a journey to the novel’s conclusion. Writing is how I earn my living, so I do work every day, whether I’m feeling particularly creative or not. I begin by reading over what was written the day before, which helps launch me into whatever comes next. Even though my husband works full-time on the business end of things, I still spend more time on tasks other than the actual writing: creating blog posts, putting together programs, communicating with readers, visiting libraries, etc. Several times a year I go someplace quiet and hole up for a week and write without distraction. Those retreats have become essential to meeting deadlines.  2. Which do you enjoy more: fiction or non-fiction writing? Why? I truly do enjoy both. With nonfiction, I love letting people from the past tell their own stories in snippets gleaned from diaries, reminiscences, letters. But I’d have to name fiction my favorite. Writing fiction allows me to fill in gaps in the historical record. I strive to create complex characters who grow and change, and face challenges we today can scarcely imagine, but who feel familiar emotions. Readers may know nothing about Cornish miners or German immigrants, but they know what it’s like to feel love, fear, etc. 3. Are you often working on multiple books at the same time? Is it hard to navigate the different story lines in your head? I usually do work on two books at a time. I focus on one book in the morning and the second in the afternoon. When I was unexpectedly asked to write my latest nonfiction




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Kathleen when she worked at Old World Wisconsin.

book, A Settler’s Year: Pioneer Life Through the Seasons, that made three; I worked on that in the evenings. Switching back and forth may not be ideal, but I’m used to it. I find it easier to work on multiple books at once, rather than alternating weeks or something. What I’m researching and writing stays in my head, as opposed to trying to come back to Project B after working on Project A exclusively for a while. 4. How was Chloe Ellefson born? Do you know where her mysteries will take you through future books, or does she surprise you sometimes? I worked at Old World Wisconsin for 12 years. I started the Chloe Ellefson series after I’d moved on because I missed the historic sites world. I enjoy the mystery genre, and had been writing mysteries for kids, so I decided to write the first book “on spec,” not knowing if I’d find a publisher or not. Happily, I did! Chloe Ellefson is a curator at Old World Wisconsin so we have a lot in common. However, she is definitely a fictional character, not me. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to showcase a variety of wonderful historic sites and museums in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest. The most important factor is that a setting will let me reflect on a major issue that Chloe and her cop-friend Roelke McKenna are struggling with. The latest book, Mining For Justice, has a handful of characters, past and present, wrestling with a single moral dilemma: How far would you go to protect someone you love? I have a growing list of possibilities for future books. A site used as a setting must be one I know my readers will enjoy visiting, and there must be enough of a landscape that I can plot an exciting mystery. Sometimes I get suggestions to use a oneroom log cabin as a setting, and as marvelous as the structure and story might be, that’s not enough to sustain a book. 5. What’s the favorite thing you’ve done to research for a book? I’m lucky enough to work doing what I love, so it’s difficult to choose just one thing! Highlights of book-related research include going sailing on a reproduction 1812 sloop, traveling to Scotland, touring all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites, taking folk art classes at Vesterheim, touring two 19th century lead mines, and serving as a live-in docent at Pottawatomie Lighthouse in Rock Island State Park, in Lake Michigan. My husband and I often explore historic sites; it’s all research for the Chloe Ellefson mysteries, but we’d be doing it anyway!


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Saami Inspired Bracelet Basics by Liz Bucheit, Lanesboro, Minnesota We love the idea of being a maker, especially in the winter, and we love that our friend Liz Bucheit, award winning jewelry designer of Crown Trout Jewelers in Lanesboro, Minnesota (she made our wedding rings!), has published her first how-to jewelry book. Inspired by her Scandinavian ancestry, Liz keeps close ties to her heritage by teaching jewelry courses focused on traditional crafts like spun pewter thread braiding. Historically, Vikings used metal spun thread to decorate their clothing and leather goods. This technique enjoyed a resurgence in popularity during the 16th century among the Saami, Scandinavia’s original native population. Liz’s book guides the reader through a bracelet project with the aid of clear text, photography, and additional instructional videos. Books and kits are available at the Vesterheim Museum store or at Creekfinding: A True Story by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by‎ Claudia McGehee We loved this beautifully illustrated children’s book about Mike Osterholm and his restoration of Allamakee County’s Brook Creek. So did Roxie! Here’s what it’s about: “Once upon a time a creek burbled up and tumbled across a prairie valley. It was filled with insects and brook trout that ate them, frogs that chirruped and birds watching for bugs and fish. This is a true story about a man named Mike who went looking for that creek long after it was buried under fields of corn. It is the story of how a creek can be brought back to life, and with it a whole world of nature. In the words of award-winning author Jacqueline Briggs Martin and the enchanting illustrations by Claudia McGehee, this heartening tale of an ecosystem restored in the Driftless Area of northeast Iowa unfolds in a way that will charm and inform young readers who are drawn to a good mystery, the wonders of nature—and, of course, big earth-moving machines.”

Q&A with keith lesmeister Interview and introduction by Aryn Henning Nichols


eith Lesmeister is the kind of guy you want to have a beer with. His wry sense of humor, laidback style, and genuine kindness keeps you guessing what’s coming next. The same goes for his stories. His recently published story collection, We Could’ve Been Happy Here (MG Press 2017), started out as an exercise in writing the unfamiliar; writing what he doesn’t know. So while Keith has what most would consider an enjoyable life – drinking coffee, shooting hoops, hanging out with his awesome wife and three sweet kids – the characters he writes come from fractured families; people living on the margins, but all connected to Iowa “I wasn’t overly conscious of tone, but I’ve been surprised to hear from readers/reviewers who think of it as ‘dark.’ It’s certainly not an upbeat or uplifting book, but this is real stuff, real life, whether we personally live those experiences or not,” he says. Ten years ago, Keith got interested in writing – mostly family stories at first – but then he took an Introduction to Creative Writing Course at Decorah’s Luther College with David Faldet. “In that class we read some (fictional) short stories that just shredded me (in the best possible way),” he says. “Until that class, I never really read short stories or even considered their existence. Now, it’s mostly all I read and write.” Born in North Carolina, and raised in Cedar Rapids, Keith moved to Decorah at age 18 to attend Luther College. He’s been a resident ever since, and over the last five years, the now 38-year-old writer carefully put together the stories that would eventually make up We Could’ve Been Happy Here, his first published book. It’s been called “authentic, hilarious, offbeat”... and, yes, it often keeps you guessing what’s coming next. In addition to drinking coffee and writing stories in anything other than jeans (see below), Keith teaches full-time – writing and literature courses at Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar, Iowa. “I love it,” he says. “Building something in the classroom, with the students – is very special. A privilege, really.” Keith’s fiction has appeared in American Short Fiction, Gettysburg Review, North American Review, Redivider, Slice Magazine, and many others. His nonfiction has appeared in River Teeth, Sycamore Review, The Good Men Project, Tin House Open Bar, Water~Stone Review, and elsewhere. He received his M.F.A. from the Bennington Writing Seminars. You can check out Keith Lesmeister and We Could’ve Been Happy Here at a reading at Barnes & Noble in Cedar Rapids on Saturday December 9, from 1-4 pm. (continued on next page)

We Could Have Been Happy Here by Keith Lesmeister In his first collection of short fiction, Keith Lesmeister plows out a distinctive vision of the contemporary Midwest. A recovering addict chases down a herd of runaway cows with a girl the same age as his estranged daughter. A middle-aged couple rediscovers their love for one another through the unlikely circumstance of robbing a bank. A drunken grandmother goads her grandson into bartering his leftover booze for a kayak. The daughter of a deployed soldier wages a bloody war on the rabbits ravaging her family’s farm. These stories peer into the lives of those at the margins–the broken, the resigned, the misunderstood. At turns hopeful and humorous, tender and tragic, We Could’ve Been Happy Here illuminates how we are shaped and buoyed by our intimate connections with others—both those close to us, and those we hardly know.


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1. What do you tell people when they ask what We Could’ve Been Happy Here is about? The common writerly advice is to write what you know. But I was challenged, by one of my faculty mentors in grad school, to write what I don’t know. Of course, all the stories in the book are set in Iowa, and the landscape here I know intimately. Outside of that, this collection was an exercise in writing from perspectives different from my own. I like to walk my dog twice a day, drink lots of coffee, shoot hoops in the backyard, read, and watch my kids’ various events. That’s great for me, horrible for writing fiction. So I tried to write about characters who are at the end of their rope; characters who’ve made poor decisions and are now facing the consequences of such decisions; characters who’ve been estranged from loved ones, for a host of reasons, and are trying desperately to reconnect. 2. You were on the road a ton this past summer promoting the book. What was your favorite stop on your tour? Why? So many great memories. I’ve met so many great folks – other writers, of course, but also literary art supporters – and have also caught up with old friends from childhood. Here are a few highlights: exploring the Bay Area; hiking the coast and Muir woods; eating at the only Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown; in Madison a woman walked out of the Q/A after I told a real-life story involving the death of a bunny; the shady motel in Lincoln; getting lost in Chicago; and lastly, in Cedar Rapids, I caught up with a few high school buddies. We went to Parlor City, drank a lot of beer, told stories that I’d be embarrassed to share with anyone else, and laughed a lot. I mean, I haven’t laughed that hard in a long, long time. 3. What’s your perfect writing scenario? Time of day? Outfit? Location? Snacks/beverages? Mornings, lots of coffee. No cream, no sugar. But if I’m in the middle of a project and working to get it done, I can work any time of day. I can work pretty much anywhere, so long as it’s quiet. Outfit? Well, let me say what I don’t wear. I don’t wear jeans. I don’t own a pair of jeans. I haven’t owned a pair of jeans in – I don’t know – fifteen years, maybe. 4. Does your family ever give you feedback mid-draft, or do they have to wait for the finished product? My family doesn’t give feedback mid-draft, but I have read to them some of my work out loud and they come back with constructive critique. For instance, before the book was published, I read to them “Between the Fireflies” and my son suggested that I remove some of the dialogue tags (I said/she said). And I did remove a few. Another time, my youngest child (then nine) was at a reading with me in Bayfield, Wisconsin, and when Peter Geye and I asked for one last question, her hand shot up, and she asked if either of us ever take risks with our writing. It was a total surprise – that she asked that question – and since then I’ve thought a lot about stretching myself as a writer; taking more risks: in form, in structure, voice, and so on. 5. What’s your favorite thing to do in the winter?    I’m partial to the time-warp experience that occurs between Christmas and New Year’s, when kids are home and there’s always a pot of coffee available, and board games and puzzles become the entertainment of choice. That, and movies, snow-hiking, cross country skiing, and drinking heavy stouts and porters. I mean, I guess I love everything about winter.

Q&A with steve semken

Interview and introduction by Aryn Henning Nichols


arents tell their kids to pick a career that pays,” says Ice Cube Press founder Steve Semken. “Well, my name is Steven Semken, and I make all my money through publishing. It is a valuable thing…you can be a writer and a publisher, and it is important work.” Ice Cube Press, an award winning independent book publisher created to “better understand the Midwest” first started in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1991. “If I didn’t have such bad jobs in Lawrence I probably never would have started,” Steve says with a laugh. “There was a little bookstore around the corner from my house and I walked by it every day. And one day I remembered, ‘oh yeah, I wanted to work with words.’” More than two decades later, there’s no doubt he’s achieved that goal. When Ice Cube Press celebrated its 20th business anniversary, Steve wrote on the press blog: “We want to remind, refresh, invigorate, rolemodel, show off a little, and in general make it clear that it is still possible to start and operate a small business in this day and age without help from governments, without loans, without degrees in business, or writing, or accounting, or marketing. That a creative person, with a sense of determination can urge, negotiate, and call upon the entire range of the definition of hope to succeed. It’s not small town, second rate living, it’s real, now, and complete.” Now, 27 years later, Steve and Ice Cube Press have published more than a hundred books by a wide variety of authors. In 1993, Steve relocated to North Liberty, Iowa – a place he’s called home ever

since. Currently in his 50s, Steve has one daughter – a senior in high school – and he runs Ice Cube Press from a home-based office. “In some ways it’s not too exciting… I’m sitting in a room that could be a bedroom. But it also constantly requires my full attention and creativity,” he says. “I won’t lie, it can be lonely sometimes, but writing and editing is kind of lonely work.” That doesn’t make it any less worthwhile or legit. “People love telling stories and hearing stories. It’s how we figure out who we are and where we live,” he says. Steve, himself, has authored six books – Soul External: Rediscovering the Great Blue Heron won the Kansas Book Award – edited three others, has been included in four anthologies, and was picked as the Writer in Residence at the Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska. He’s served as faculty at the Midwest Writing Center’s David Collins Writing Conference in the Quad Cities as well, and for more than 10 years sponsored and organized the annual Harvest Lecture/Voices From The Prairie. “My thing is that I use the literary arts to better understand living in the Midwest,” he says. “Environmental writing has always been what I liked the most. I’ve learned to publish what I like. I trust what I like, and that’s how I built this business.” “‘Why am I still in business?’ you might ask. I don’t know,” he says with a laugh. “I’ve got no degree in marketing, advertising, web design, anything. Just motivation. I guess I believe I’m in business because I help enable author’s dreams to come true.” (continued on next page)

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1. Where did the name Ice Cube Press come from? It’s not as exciting as you might hope! I was writing a story and my character was walking across the desert. He got inside a mirage – it was the Ice Cube Café. That was the same day I thought, “Hey, I think I’m going to start a press! I’ll just call it Ice Cube Press.” If I had known I would still be doing this 27 years later, I don’t know if I would have kept Ice Cube Press as my name. I don’t mind it, but I would have called it something more serious. I just never expected it to work, which sounds kind of ridiculous to say about something that’s been your lifelong passion! Prior to the press, though, I’d started and stopped and tried a fair number of things that didn’t work out in the end. I’m happy this one did! 2. What does an “imprint” mean? You just brought a new imprint on, Maintenance Ends. Tell us more about how that all works, please! Imprints usually happen because some super inspired person comes up to me with a whole new direction within what I’m trying to do. A niche, as they say. For Maintenance Ends, that means cutting edge literary work. I don’t go into imprints lightly – I pick people I know I can work with. I can’t envision anything imprint founder Todd Kimm will pick that I won’t like. I trust what he’s trying to do. (See sidebar for more info on Maintenance Ends.) 3. You write books as well as edit, design, and publish. Do you like one type of work more, or does it all kind of flow together? Decades ago I had big plans… I was going to be an award-winning writer. The thing stereotypes are made of. Long lines at signings, tours in Europe. Honestly, it was only eight years ago when I finally said, “Yeah, I’m probably not going to be a New York Times bestselling author.” But I’m surprised at how much I enjoy helping others write their books. Right now I feel like I’m doing what I should be doing. I often say I’m someone who helps other people’s dreams come true. Sure, I want to write another book someday – I have my mind on a book that will be about the wild and hearsay– but I’m okay if it doesn’t happen anytime soon.

4. How do you decide that you’re going to take on a new author or publish someone’s book? What’s the process? I was speaking at a writing conference recently and four writing clubs showed up…it’s a terrifying image when people are walking in with boxes of 500 sheets of paper! I get a couple hundred submissions a year, and I don’t want to mislead anyone: I might take one every couple of years. Ice Cube Press publishes five or six books a year, but most are by people I meet in person or through friends. It has to be someone interesting and motivated, and a subject matter that’s interesting to me. Here’s the thing: People are so anxious to get published, I get the feeling they don’t enjoy the writing process. But that’s the most fun part of doing a book: the writing. I’ll do conferences and I’ll ask how many people are excited about writing…who has or is being carried away with the characters of their novel for instance… and no one will raise their hands. They’re so anxious to get published and famous. You don’t have to submit the perfect book – I can work with ideas, but I can’t work with boring perfect books. I just need to be able to imagine that we can sit together and have coffee and that the writer will be responsive to things I want them to try. And sure, I take very few books per year, but I definitely don’t overlook the trust it takes to send me something. That’s where I came up with this dream thing. A book an author submits to me might be the biggest thing that they’ve done in their lives – besides their family. I understand that I’m taking things on that are important for people. I think it’s valuable for people submitting to know that publishers don’t say, “Oh man…another book.” At least I don’t. I respect the time it takes to put a book together. One of the interesting things people learn about working with me is that I like to do all the stuff – design, editing, website, promotions…I do have help some with editing and sales. We usually have plotted out the first THE LARGEST 500 to 1000 sales. Despite being sort of jovial and laidback on the outside, it takes a lot of work and planning to be a publisher. As well, authors should know, they have to be engaged and help a lot to sell the book. This may not seem fair, but for a small press like mine, it’s the reality. 5. In your years publishing and writing books, do any nuggets stand out as helping to “better understand the Midwest”? A lot of people talk about flyover states, and it seems like the Midwest never gets respect. I grew up in the area, not knowing there was a Pulitzer Prize winner down the road. I thought important things happened in New York City or other places. People need to know life in the Midwest is valuable and heroic and full of all the emotions that make us human. I can feel that people get a sense that their lives are not valued enough, that they can get taken advantage of because they’re not that important. One of the things I like to prove is that we’re all important. This is how I think about our region of the world: There’s the same amount of sunlight everywhere, it just comes in different ways. There’s just as much good everywhere it just comes in different ways.


local books Maintenance Ends Imprint: Maintenance Ends is “a Midwest-centric publishing imprint dedicated to bringing fresh, off-center voices into print.” It’s first book, coming 2018, is Voices after Evelyn by Rick Harsch, a fictional take on the still unsolved 1953 disappearance of La Crosse, Wisconsin, babysitter Evelyn Hartley. Founding Maintenance Ends publisher/editor Todd Kimm co-founded and edited the statewide arts quarterly Tractor Magazine in the early 90s. Todd has edited small town newspapers, Iowa City’s former alternative weekly, Icon, and Little Village magazine (which he also cofounded). He has worked as communications director for various Iowa non-profits, including Legion Arts and PFI, an Ames-based sustainable agriculture group. For a time, he even worked in the Iowa Legislature. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he now lives in Solon, site of his first job, covering Beef Days.



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local books Ivy by Decorah author M. G. Slind Henrik (“Just call me Hank”) van Daam is president of Nieuw Nederland College, a small liberal arts college in north-central Minnesota. He has big plans – not just for the college, but for his own future. Nothing will come of them, though, if the faculty keep getting in the way. But Hank doesn’t care what they think. That’s one of the reasons so many of the faculty hate him. During the worst snow storm in years, Hank disappears mysteriously. When his body is found the next morning, the question is: did someone on campus hate him enough to kill him? Women and the Land by Barbara Hall and Kathryn Gamble, published by Ice Cube Press Women and the Land takes a look at more than 25 women who are impacting Iowa’s farmland. Some of them have inherited rural property and are managing the agriculture practices from afar. Some are working the land directly, providing food to the heartland. Some are working in tandem with their husbands, fathers, sisters, daughters. Many of them grew up on a farm, left the land to get an education and left the state to follow their passions, only to find that their deepest passion is really the land, and have returned to it. Each of the women is affecting the land in her own unique and feminine way. We here at Inspire(d) met the farmer on the cover, Wendy Johnson of Jóia Food Farm, at Luna Valley Farm’s Kickstarter party this fall. We were excited to read more about her story – and other amazing women too – in this gorgeous Ice Cube Press-published book.

Aryn Henning Nichols had a great time chatting with these writers! She is looking forward to a winter full of more books, more fun, and lots more koselig

Brighten up those winter nights of reading with a little sunshine tucked into your book!


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You know what they say: Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear! Keep this in mind this winter when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s minus 10 outside and no sun in sight, because getting fresh air is an important part of thriving this winter! You can do it! Just get geared up and go! Happy winter, friends! 48

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Winter on the Farm – Seed Savers!

The Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm is an amazing place to visit any time of the year – but “Winter on the Farm” only happens once a year! Grab your crew and head out to Heritage Farm on Saturday, December 16 for a sleigh load of free fun! Horse drawn sleigh rides will be available from 11 am to 3 pm (in the case of no snow, wagon rides!), and you can also taste heirloom butterbeans, check out the Visitor’s Center special holiday sales, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies! Might we add that a membership to Seed Savers is an excellent holiday gift – for yourself and your family, or for a friend. The organization’s mission of sharing heritage varieties of seeds not only supports diversity of plants across the country and beyond; it has created an incredible draw to our area through farm and eco tourism. It’s a win-win that we love supporting! www.

Go CR Fat Bike Weekend

Cedar Rapids is serious about their biking community – especially in recent years as new and continuing projects have developed all over the city both on streets and in the dirt! For example: A weekend of Fat Bike Fun is kicking off this year December 8-9 sponsored in part by Go Cedar Rapids, as well as the Linn Area Mountain Bike Association (LAMBA), Cedar Rapids Park & Rec, and several other local bike supporting organizations. On Friday night enjoy a night ride and after party with several fun stops along the way at local watering holes. Saturday

morning will mark the Sac & Fox Endurance Trail race at the Indian Creek Nature Center, with riders making 3.75 mile laps from noon to 3 pm – whoever racks up the most laps wins! Fun and fellowship follows the race, as well as a sweet raffle and prizes. Registration is required and lodging + event packages are available. Check out more at

National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count!

For more than a 100 years, volunteers across the country have spent 24 hours counting bird species within a 15-mile radius of their local area – and so can you! The count takes place between December 14 and January 5 on one specific day for each area. Each local area organizes their count, then the information on state and national numbers is compiled through the Audubon society and released to track bird species over time. In Iowa alone, 139 species have been spotted in recent years! Anyone can join in, but folks need to find their local group to participate. More information can be found at join-christmas-bird-count

KVR Winter Festival

The Kickapoo Valley Reserve is an incredible wild resource in Western Wisconsin, and one that we find many people have not visited. Well, here’s your chance to change that (or make another visit!), and have a reason to get out this winter. The KVR Winter Festival, held on January 13th, 2018, includes sledding, archery, snow sculpture, skiing, ice cave hikes, chain saw carving, bobsled rides, sled dog races, and a Chili and Bread contest sponsored by the La Farge Lions club. The festival goes from 10am to 4pm and is free of charge, with activities subject to change upon weather conditions. Find out more at www.




Let’s get outside for winter fun!



FATBIKING • 101 College Dr. Decorah, Iowa • 563-382-8209 \ WInter 2017-18




Frosty Buns Race Series–Blackhawk County

Looking slightly to the south, our friends at Black Hawk County Conservation and the Hartman Reserve near Cedar Falls are helping put together the “Frosty Buns Race Series” this winter – a series of three events from January to March. The hope is to help promote outdoor activities in winter while showing off various public lands in the Cedar Valley. The first race is the Iowa Games Snowshoe Race January 13 at Ingawanis Woods near Janesville, Iowa. Next, the Winter Warrior Duathlon will be held February 3 at George Wyth State Park, and finally The Sticky Stride will be on March 3 at Hartmans Reserve Nature Center. More info and registration will be available via





Barnelopet Kids Ski Race

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Driftless Half Marathon – start training!

Eagles Nest

The Lodge

January, February, and March 2018

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Make Reservations at 563-546-7722 & Mention the Winter Special 50

Winter 2017-18 /

The idea, at its core, is to introduce kids to the great sport of cross-country skiing – something that Sons of Norway lodges across the country have been doing for years. For many years here in Decorah, Vesterheim Museum has also been helping that goal along through this treasured local event. Participants ages 3-13 provide their own equipment (check with Decorah Bicycles for rentals!) and ski with a printed bib over a course on the Decorah Community Prairie (near Aase Haugen). After completing the course, skiers receive hot chocolate, cookies, and a medal. Registration begins at 9:40 am on February 3, 2018 and the “race” – which is super lowpressure – begins at 10 am. More information can be found at www.

Even though we’re focusing on winter sports, it’s never too early to start thinking about knocking that half marathon off your bucket list… especially when it’s right in our collective “back yard”! The Driftless Half Marathon is launching in October 2018 and registration is open now. The course will follow gorgeous fall routes from the Mississippi River town of Harpers Ferry to Lansing, Iowa. Challenging elevation changes are guaranteed, as are amazing views of the river valley in fall. And if that’s not enough to get you off the couch, proceeds from the Driftless Half Marathon running event will benefit the Lansing Lions Club, the Allamakee Law Enforcement, and the Lansing Fire and EMS Department! Find out more and register at - happy training!





Justin Trails Resort Sparta, WI

Photos courtesy Justin Trails Resort

custom GLAM for


& more!

930 Division St. Cresco, Iowa OPEN TUES-SAT BY APPOINTMENT OR CHANCE 563.379.7583 \ WInter 2017-18


Winter Fun at Justin trails! Introduction and interview by Aryn Henning Nichols Photos courtesy Dawn Justin

Are you heading over to Justin Trails to check out the winter fun for just the day? No problem! Here are details on fees and rentals:

Use of all the snow hill and ski / snow shoeing trails is included for guests who book an overnight stay at Justin Trails Resort. Check availability of cabins and suites at


onna and Don Justin have welcomed year-round guests and visitors to Justin Trails Resort in Sparta, Wisconsin, for more than 30 years. The 200-acre family farm – purchased from Don’s parents in 1970 – includes 50 acres of certified organic farmland and 150 acres of oak savanna and woodland forest restoration, but the biggest draw, most would argue, is the amazing bed and breakfast resort. It’s really so much more than a B&B. On site, there are two Scandinavian Full-Scribe log cabins, a cute cottage, three luxurious

suites in the main farmhouse, and campsites ranging from a “camping cabin” to tipis (cool!) and rustic tent sites. Overnight guests and winter day-trippers can enjoy the groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing or jump on a tube and zip down the sledding hills. During warm weather, they offer two championship disc golf courses and multi purpose use of the extensive trail system too, of course. While the resort is a fun spot for a romantic getaway, the whole family is welcome: All of the suites and cabins are kid and pet friendly.

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FEB 22 MAR 9



The Rose Ensemble

Let our authentic trolleys transport you in style on your wedding day!

It’s $5 per person for day users. Rentals are $5/ day for snow shoes $10/day for skis. There’s no extra charge for snow tubes. And, yes, they’ve got several harnesses for dogs for skijoring, and Donna loves to teach people how to do it!

Or around town on one of our Decorah Trolley Tours! The Justin’s “About Us” story is a sweet one: Don and Donna met at Wisconsin’s Cashton Fall Festival, courted, and married in 1967. Donna graduated from US-La Crosse with a B.S. in Elementary Education. Don attained what he calls a “Ph T (Put her Through)”. Don had previously graduated from UW-Madison’s Farm Short Course. For more than a decade, Donna taught in the Sparta area schools while Don continued to farm with Donna’s assistance. As high interest rates in the mid 1980s created financial difficulties for Donna Justin many farmers, Don and Donna looked for other ways to utilize their land. Their first idea was to build ski trails. Not long after, the farmhouse bed and breakfast was born. They rented 100 rooms that first year – 1985 – and things kept rolling from there. Little House on the Prairie was built, along with (Continued on next page)

More info: 563.419.8902 . \ WInter 2017-18


private bathrooms in the farmhouse. The granary became The Cottage, the machine shed was transformed into The Lodge, the Paul Bunyan log cabin was built, and whirlpools and fireplaces were added. After the cows and machinery were sold, the chicken coop was renovated to become the Camping Cabin. Now, more than three decades later, Justin Trails Resort offers – in total – indoor lodging for 24 guests, a primitive campground, disc golf, wedding celebrations, and they often have school, 4-H, and boy and girl scout groups visiting to use the snow shoe trails and snow tubing in the winter season. Don’s grandparents, Gustave and Appalonia Justin, purchased the farm with “only one hill” as Gus told his family in 1916, and in 2016, they received the Century Farm Award at the Wisconsin State Fair. These days, Don maintains the grounds while Donna manages the inn and events. The couple enjoys meeting guests from all over the world who come to their little coulee for a peaceful Wisconsin getaway. We caught up with Donna to learn more about her history as a businessowner and innkeeper. Name: Donna Justin Age: 69 Business: Justin Trails Resort, LLC Years in Business: 32 years 1. Tell us about the “leap” moments. When/how did you decide to jump in and become your own boss? I’ve had several “leaps”. I left a teaching career of 13 years to start the ski trails: Our business began in 1985 with cross-country ski trails and snow tubing.

I left a retail career to become a full time innkeeper: In 1986, we added a bed and breakfast license for two rooms in our house. Slowly we added The Little House on the Prairie, The Cottage, The Lodge, Paul Bunyan log cabin, the Camping Cabin, and a campground license. And in 2013, my husband, Don and I made the leap to renovate our 1919 post and beam barn into “The Elegant Barn” for wedding, anniversary and other special events. 2. What’s the best thing about being your own boss? The best thing about being my own boss is setting goals, accomplishing them, and moving forward with more goals. I love to see progress, and add new amenities and opportunities for guests. 3. How about the worst? The worst thing about being my own boss is very occasionally someone will disrespect our property or ask for a big discount, which, as business-owners we know is not possible if we want to stay in business! 4. Was there ever a hurdle where you just thought, “I can’t do this?” How did you overcome it? Both my husband, Don, and I cannot think of a time when “we can’t do this”. 5. Any mentors/role models you look to/have looked to? Many local business owners and administrators: George Bahr who owned Ridgeview Inn Supper Club Jan Gallagher, UW-L Small Business Development Center Executive Director Gary Kirking, UW-Extension Small Business Development Specialist Jim Palmquist, owner of Palmquist’s The Farm, Brantwood, Wisconsin Rollie Cooper, UW-Extension Small Business Development Specialist Roseann Boyett of Trillium Bed and Breakfast, La Farge Nancy Rhodes, owner and innkeeper Viroqua Heritage Inn, Viroqua.

Find your

Adventure in Southeast Minnesota! Photos / Bob Smock . 507-765-2100

WANT MORE? 60+ Miles of Paved Bike Trails! 54

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6. What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started? How to set prices so I could give back more. I’d love to be able to make more contributions to the community, but it can be hard to find surplus funds to donate.

I love to read biographies. Joanna Gaines “The Magnolia Story” is my most recent inspirational read. Joanna sums up my feelings very well:


“It’s hard to describe the feeling that comes with starting your own business. It really is so much work in the beginning that you lose yourself in it. You lose your sense of time and you can’t believe how quickly the days go by because there’s no time to focus on much of anything else. But then you open the doors and it’s like you’ve given birth to this new thing that didn’t exist before. Then when it starts to flourish, well, that’s just icing on the cake. To get to see it live and breathe and to know that this thing you created out of thin air can put a smile on other people’s faces is such a blessing.”

Justin Trails Resort 7452 Kathryn Avenue Sparta, WI 54656 (608) 269-4522

207 College Drive, Decorah 563-380-3610 Open 7 Days A Week

open 7 days • fresh & organic produce • grocery • in-house bakery • full-service meat & seafood • made-from-scratch deli soups & sandwiches • vegetarian & glutenfree options • specialty cheeses • coffee & tea bar • cosmetics •

7. How do you manage your life/work balance? I grew up on a dairy farm, married a farmer, and have always known a busy lifestyle. My guests become my friends. They allow me to provide a wonderful expression of my creativity and to learn about their lifestyles. 8. What keeps you inspired? Any quotes that keep you going? Belonging to associations keeps me inspired. I have learned so much as the first president of the Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association and the Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs Coulee Region Association. I have attended national conferences as a member of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International and the Association of Bridal Consultants.

body care • vitamins • local food & favorites

La Crosse 315 5th Avenue South 608-784-5798 Rochester 519 1st Avenue SW 507-289-9061

Good. Honest. Local. \ WInter 2017-18


Current times for in-town service: Cresco: 7am-4pm Mon-Fri Decorah: 7am-5pm Mon-Fri Oelwein: 9am-1pm Mon-Fri Waukon: 9am-1pm Mon-Fri Guttenberg: 8:45am-1pm Mon-Fri West Union: 9am-2pm Mon, Wed, Fri West Union: 9am-1pm Tue, Thu Elkader: 9am-1pm Tue, Thu Monona: 9am-1pm Tue, Thu


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EARL serves five Iowa counties: Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard, and Winneshiek. Call (563) 382-4259 or toll-free (866) 382-4259 between 5am and 5pm weekdays to schedule.



historic Easy. Affordable. Reliable. Life-changing. By Kristine Jepsen

Inspire(d)’s Kristine Jepsen takes public transit – both in the city and in rural Iowa – and shares what she’s learned! Psst: It really is easy!

For events & ticket information visit 207 N. Main, Elkader, IA



ust as I began story research on EARL – Easy, Affordable, Reliable and Lifechanging public transit here in Northeast Iowa – I happened to experience New York City’s transit system for the first time. I know, I know: First subway just shy of 40?! Well, it’s true. I needed to get from Harlem to downtown Manhattan – at rush hour – to hear a Spring Grove, Minnesota friend perform at Carnegie Hall. The trip is 45+ minutes by car, costing roughly $50 more than the subway fare of $2.75. In other words, mass transit was a no brainer. But I was nervous, sweating into my evening wear and trying not to look flustered and unsure to my traveling companion: My 9-year-old daughter. As the train lurched through its stops and starts, passengers of all stripes bumped together, bags and coats pressing close as we stumbled a step, then back. A few seats over, a preschooler sang her little heart out: The alphabet song, as best she knew it. I sent up some thanks to the smart engineers who built the Big Apple’s Metro system, even commissioning lovely street signage in tiny, hand-laid tile. (Continued on next page)


Java John’s FINE WINE CRAFT BEER DINNER ENTREES DESSERTS COFFEE & ESPRESSO LIVE MUSIC Monday-Thursday until 9 Friday & Saturday until 11 Sunday until 3 400 West Water Street, Decorah 563.382.5690

Photo courtesy EARL Public Transit

WInter 2017-18


Photo by EARL

For the first time, as a rural Iowan accustomed to driving and parking easily, my own mobility felt beyond my control. I understood with gut accuracy that my getting somewhere is in fact an enormous privilege. And I realized that getting places, together – the forward momentum of engaging in the world, even a simple exposure to our various shapes, colors, and accents – really is necessary to living. Cut off from each other, we are very different humans indeed. Back at home in Iowa, EARL Public Transit beat me to this realization long ago, with a mission to “change people’s lives, embody the spirit of hope, improve communities, and make America a better place to live,” according to EARL’s current rider guide. “We care about the entire community,” it concludes, “and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.” Expanded in the early 2000s from primarily a shuttle service for seniors and residents with special needs, the now-mustachioed EARL is the pride of its parent organization, Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation (NEICAC), and serves five Iowa counties: Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard, and Winneshiek. EARL’s fleet of 53 vehicles, ranging from minivans to 18-passenger shuttles, all Americans with Disabilities (ADA) compliant, are on-call to transport anyone – anyone – who needs a ride. This service is door-to-door, whether for a one-time event or a regular route, to school, work, or your local book club. Unlike NYC, there’s no waiting at bus stops. No reading maps or cross-checking schedules (though handy skills, all!).

Call today for details and see Reserve now for the maximum Nabotunet is part of the Aase Haugen Family of Senior


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You simply call EARL’s friendly dispatch at (866) 382-4259, give your location and destination, and arrange pick-up and return times. City centers in each of EARL’s five counties have regular hours for its in-town, $2/ride service – see sidebar – Monday through Friday and $.50 per mile outside city limits during the week. If you need weekend service, it’s $15/ride in town and $1.50/ mile beyond. Ride hours are generally 7 am to 5 pm, and it’s best to call 24 hours in advance for guaranteed service, but exceptions, including same-day pickup, especially in-town, can be made. “We don’t turn down requests,” says Wendy Norton, former EARL dispatch operator who is now transit assistant and coordinator of NEICAC’s car financing program, Wheels for Work. “If you have any questions about riding, just call and ask!” Longer, customized rides are popular as well. For example, a ride from downtown Decorah to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is $76 each way, per person. From central Waukon to La Crosse Regional Airport is $29 each way, per rider. And from Main Street McGregor to the University of Madison health facilities is $52 each way, per person. And while you might be tempted to only estimate fuel cost when calculating bus transit vs driving a personal vehicle, that’s just part of the equation, says EARL mobility manager and de facto marketing specialist Sam Castro. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the average cost to drive a new vehicle in 2017 is $0.74 per mile, which factors in insurance, car payments, depreciation, and repair, in addition Sam Castro to fuel costs. At that rate, your round-trip airport run to Minneapolis comes out to $222 (300 miles x $0.74), and on EARL, a rider makes the trip there and back for $152. Plus, EARL takes you right to the door, hassle free. And if your flight is delayed, or your medical appointment runs long, the driver will wait, or return at the new time. “Just let us know what’s going on, and we’ll make sure you get back,” Wendy Norton says. Which is to say: EARL is serious about its service being easy, with a capital E. “We see transportation as a basic right,” Castro continues. “Transport holds our society together – people, goods, energy, even ideas. We all deserve equal access to mobility.” Castro, previously a photographer circulating in the news world, says joining the EARL team in 2015 ferried him, personally, back to professional fulfillment. Upon landing in Northeast Iowa, to be closer to his wife’s family, Castro applied to be an EARL driver – drivers are still much wanted – see sidebar for more info! – but was quickly steered toward administration, where he became mobility manager and, instead, the driver of EARL’s visibility in its five-county region. “I was in mourning, really, I think, for two years after the dailies [newspapers] I worked for started shrinking,” he says, part of significant downsizing. “I love everything that daily news gives to a community – that energy, the stories that really highlight what matters.” EARL has come to fulfill that, too, he says: “It’s a real community within this community, and a place to give back.” (Continued on next page)

presents Classical Vienna Works by Beethoven, Haydn, & Mozart Guest Artist: Kayla Burggraf

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 18. 2 PM Decorah High School Auditorium 100 Claiborne Dr. Decorah, Iowa

The Oneota Valley Community Orchestra is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit community orchestra, dedicated to presenting live classical music to the residents of the Oneota Valley, to promote music education, & to provide the opportunity for amateur & professional musicians to continue a lifelong study & performance of classical music.

Thanks to our sponsors: Marion E. Jerome Foundation, Inc. & The Depot Outlet.


building communities

one rock at a time 85 years in business!


Serving communities in Iowa, Minnesota, & Missouri

900 Montgomery St, Decorah, IA 563-382-2933 . \ WInter 2017-18


EARL aims to accommodate the needs of school-age riders, too, including college students who don’t have their own vehicles for shopping, or who need to get home for holidays. Photo courtesy EARL Public Transit

Osteopathic options for your health

Osteopathic medicine provides additional treatment options using manipulative medicine or a “hands-on” approach to relieve symptoms of: • Headaches • Sinus infections • Joint and back pain • Back and pelvic pain in pregnancy • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) • Other chronic pain Call the Gundersen Decorah Clinic to learn more, (563) 382-3140.


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The felt mustache cut-outs Castro uses as business cards were his idea, but the story of the logo itself – “EARL” in a bowler hat and mustache – is a good one, too, says Spiff Slifka, Howard County development coordinator and tourism director. Castro calls her one of the “midwives” of modern EARL transit for her work rebranding and championing the service to represent the community at large. “We – a group of seven of us affiliated with Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation, me the least familiar of them all – were invited to attend a week-long national transportation summit in Washington D.C.,” she says – it’s impossible to miss her enthusiasm, as her raspy voice picks up in speed. The days were exhausting – 10 hours straight of defining and refining what exactly our communities needed to help them thrive, she says. “And I kept hearing from my colleagues, ‘Hmmmm, well, I’m not sure Earl would be on board with that,’ or ‘No way. Earl would never go for that!’ and I started thinking, ‘Who is Earl?!’ Is this guy for real? And why is he so picky?’” He is indeed a real guy, Earl Henry, then head of transportation at NEICAC. And he was particular because he was tasked with traversing the unknown: How to provide public transit in a very rural place, with its residents scattered up and down bluffs and winding side streets. Finally, at the conference facilitators’ methodical prodding, the group distilled their transportation goals to four qualities: That it be affordable and reliable, first; and that it be an easy and life-changing shift for your average Iowan, away from stubborn reliance on driving ourselves, no matter the weather, difficulty or expense. “I looked at our requirements,” Slifka says, “and yelped, ‘Oh Lord, it’s EARL!’” Easy, Affordable, Reliable, Life-Changing. It took the group a few minutes more to co-opt Earl’s real-life habit of wearing the mustache and hat for a logo. “Pieces fell right into place, and we were on our way.” Since that summit and the steady expansion of its ridership (to more than 185,000 customer trips in their fiscal year ending June 2017), EARL has blossomed, offering something of a mobile mixer anytime you board. Some riders need to stow bags of groceries and other purchases. No problem. “This area up here is sometimes full of bags,” says driver Rich Wede, a retired school superintendent, gesturing toward the vestibule-like bay bounded by the bus’s front door. Some passengers have bikes or strollers to wrangle. Easy! Select buses have bike racks on the front. And some folks just enjoy a snippet of friendly banter, maybe at the end of their work shift, or as a distraction before a medical appointment. The drivers are the midwives now, greeting you by name and picking up the conversation where you left it at your last stop. “I really had no idea this existed,” says rider Gerald Carlson, who lives on the northern outskirts of Decorah and who read about EARL recently in a local paper. He had reason to try it, he says, when his

MON - THURS: 11- 9 • FRI - SAT 11-10 • SUN: 11-8

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(Continued on next page) \ WInter 2017-18


Left: Driver Karla Gossling starts her shift 40 minutes early so she can get four neighbors to work right at 7am, her route’s normal start time. One day soon, EARL will collaborate with area employers to co-sponsor vehicles and routes to provide affordable rides for workers, says EARL mobility manager Sam Castro. Photo by EARL Public Transit.

How to Summon EARL 1. Call (563) 382-4259 or toll-free (866) 382-4259 between 5am and 5pm weekdays to schedule. Calling a day ahead is best, but same-day service may also be possible.

Caring, compassionate EARL drivers wanted!

Part-time drivers are needed within the counties of Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek and surrounding areas. Must have or be able to secure a Class C CDL license with passenger endorsement upon hiring. (Transit provides training to individuals to help them to secure the necessary CDL license.) Proficiency with email and GPS strongly preferred. For more information, visit Join the team!

2. Be ready 15 minutes prior to your scheduled pick-up, with payment handy. It’s $2/each way for in-town service. If headed out of town, your trip total (cost figured per mile) will be given at booking so you’re ready. Weekend trips are possible, at higher cost. Drivers cannot make change, so exact cash or check payment is required. Riders may also purchase a booklet of in-town fare tickets from drivers or the NEICAC office at 305 Montgomery Street or PO Box 487, Decorah. Passengers over age 60 and not residing in a nursing home qualify for discounted fare tickets, available from the Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging, at 563-382-2941. 3. Ride in comfort! (Think: Heat! A few minutes of quiet to work/sleep/study/ reflect!) The fine print: Drivers will wait a total of 10 minutes at your stop and are authorized to depart 3 minutes past your scheduled pick-up time. Riders are allowed one escort per trip; riders requiring an interpreter may bring one escort and one interpreter. TTY callers: Please use Relay Iowa 711. Para TTY en espanol: Marquen 1-800-264-7190 y pidas que marquen a (866) 382-4259.

Left: Driver Rich Wede, a former farm kid, driver’s ed instructor and retired administrator at South Winneshiek Schools and St. Benedict’s Catholic School in Decorah, says even his military training didn’t teach him as much wayfinding as EARL. “I’ve never learned so many little ways to get so many places,” he says with a laugh. Drivers use tablets on board to view pick-ups and GPS routes, as well as respond to same-day pick-up requests. Photos by Kristine Jepsen


wife happened to be out of town – in the couple’s only car – on a day he needed to get to an appointment. “I mean, I’m a runner on the trails here – I could have done the six miles, I guess,” he says with a laugh. “But then, they might look at me funny when I got there in running clothes.” EARL aims to accommodate the needs of school-age riders, too, including college students who don’t have their own vehicles for shopping, or who need to get home for holidays. Already, many preschool programs throughout the region and some public school children in Cresco take EARL to and from school daily. Mobility manager Castro says he dreams of filling buses to get music or sport fans to regional events and performances, connecting riders via a shared interest. For all this and more, I’m on board – maybe not every day, admittedly, but when I can untether from the instantaneousness of my digitized life and plan ahead. A warm, reliable ride home from the airport, when I’m ready to hand over my bags and be done being responsible? Or, a trip to the store without de-icing my car? Yes, please. More important, to me anyway, EARL affords precious hours of non-driving time to catch winks, catch up on a book, or answer the many questions of a 9-year-old. “Is this our stop?” she will ask. And again at the next. And the next. “No,” I will say. “They’ll take us exactly where we need to go. That’s how EARL works.” Kristine Jepsen commutes daily from her family’s farm 30 minutes north of Decorah – plenty of time to appreciate what EARL does to make rural mobility more of a together activity! When not holed up writing for journals and ag businesses, she can be found homeschooling the nine-year-old in this story and learning to ride horse.

Current times for in-town service: Cresco: 7am-4pm Mon-Fri Decorah: 7am-5pm Mon-Fri Oelwein: 9am-1pm Mon-Fri Waukon: 9am-1pm Mon-Fri


river view inn

Lansing, Iowa

60 SOUTH FRONT STREET, LANSING, IOWA 563-537-0072 • 563-538-4231 (DAYTIME)


SALES SERVICE PARTS We service all brands.


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NOW is always the right time to tune up or upgrade your mower or blower! TOP-OF-THE-LINE BRANDS – TORO • CUB CADET

Lawn Mowers, Snow Blowers, Chain Saws, & More!

Burgers • Sandwiches • Salads • Appetizers • Breakfast • In-House Catering Locally Sourced Menu Options • Come watch your favorite games! • 22 Beers on Tap!

Guttenberg: 8:45am-1pm Mon-Fri West Union: 9am-2pm M, W, F West Union: 9am-1pm Tue, Thu Elkader: 9am-1pm Tue, Thu Monona: 9am-1pm Tue, Thu

Two event spaces for small or large groups – up to 200 people. Contact our Event Coordinator at for details.

206 W. Water St. •563-382-5970 •

Insurance & Real Estate

Decorah, Iowa 563.382.3627 \ WInter 2017-18


The 411on A few holiday-related recycling questions for Winneshiek County Recycling Department Manager Terry Buenzow, aka

Mr. g n i l c y Rec

Interview & introduction by Aryn Henning Nichols


he holiday season can be filled with fun, family, presents, and cheer. It also can generate a lot of waste! Around here, that means the question, “Do you think this is recyclable?” comes up a lot. It’s always followed with a, “Let’s ask Terry!” Terry Buenzow, the Department Manager at Winneshiek County Recycling, is more passionate about recycling than anyone we’ve ever met. He and his team of recyclers work hard to make Winneshiek County one of the leading recycling facilities in the region. 64

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The Winneshiek County recycling center processes more than 3000 tons (6 million pounds) of recyclables per year, and has the capacity to do a lot more. The revenue generated at the facility is returned to the Winneshiek County General Fund for property tax relief, which means that all Winneshiek County residents have a financial stake in – and potential benefit from – this program. (And all people benefit from a cleaner planet.) It is truly fun to talk to Terry about plastic numbers, recyclable Christmas trees, and tissue paper. So we thought we’d give you a little 411 refresher course on holiday recyclables. Happy holidays, and thanks for saving the earth! 1. What’s the 411 on wrapping paper? Which ones can we recycle, and which ones can’t we? Wrapping paper is not recyclable. A lot of it is truly a plastic laminated paper. Once paper fiber has plastic melted into it recycling is no longer an option. It’s just like candle wax on your carpet or jalapeno peppers in your chocolate pudding, once it’s in it will never come out. There is no practical way for a paper mill to make the distinction as to what wrapping paper is good or what is bad so as a rule they say no to it. A cat that looks like a cat surely must be a cat. What about brown craft paper? Brown craft paper is nice stuff! Totally recyclable. We really don’t see much of it during the holidays though. 2. Where should we take old electronics after we unwrap new ones this holiday? Generally most electronics can come here – we don’t have a bin for electronics, so they need to come when we’re open. We don’t take the old style TVs here, but we do keep the TV recycling trailer out at the Winneshiek County Landfill. No, they will not be landfilled! We keep the trailer out there because I do not have a special operating permit to handle them at this facility. In a few years we will get one and make this place a true one-stop shop. Another thing to remember is that any kind of battery that can be recharged cannot be put in the Winneshiek County Landfill. Same for cell phones. We were the first area of the state to ban these things from the landfill. Bring them to us. Single use alkaline batteries are landfill material, though. They are safe and there is hardly anything in them that has any viable recycling to it.

3. Who takes Christmas trees, or what’s the best way to dispose of them? Real Christmas trees cannot be landfilled as they are classified as yard waste. Many towns have a program for them where they are basically treated like tree branches. If not, be creative and return it to the Earth somehow! Nothing wrong with heat value or a marshmallow roast with one, either. As far as artificial trees, almost all of them have a metal framework and we take them at the recycling plant. We take Christmas lights, too – they have their own bin out here. 4. Do you take old clothes, shoes, slippers, etc.? Reusable clothing, shoes, belts, purses, and stuffed animals are sent to Canada to a number of different export warehouses where they will be loaded onto shipping containers and exported across the world. We often do not know the exact country each shipment goes to, but we do know that Finland, Russia, and Pakistan have received our things in the last few months. If clothes or shoes are too far gone to ever be worn again by anyone else they should be landfilled. 5. What about all those packing bubbles that say they’re recyclable. Are they really? What about packing peanuts?? And you love to get boxes, right? Broken down is best? Bubble wrap is recyclable along with plastic grocery sacks – they can be brought out here to the recycling plant. We don’t take them in the bins across the county as that creates a material-handling nightmare. Landfill your Styrofoam and peanuts. No viable end markets out there for that stuff, and none will likely ever develop. And yes, we love boxes. Can’t put cardboard in the trash so bring it to us! As far as flattening it out, go look at a cardboard recycling bin. You will be flattening it out for sure!

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6. Holiday cards/photos? Photos: no; cards and envelopes: yes. Lots of gift bags are recyclable, too, just make sure they aren’t actually plastic. 7. Broken plastic toys: recyclable? Landfill your broken plastic toys (that are totally beyond repair). Toys are usually made from plastic types that are very unusual and not compatible with anything else. Metal toys are different. Most metal toys can be recycled. Always remember, too, that if something has an electric motor it cannot be landfilled. Check with us on things like that. 8. Disposable plates/napkins/utensils must go in trash, yes? Disposable plates, cups, napkins, utensils, straws, etc., are landfill material. Tissue used as packing in a box is good to recycle, but tissue used as part of a bodily function is not. Winneshiek County Recycling 2510 172nd Avenue Decorah, Iowa (in Freeport)


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Find tons of helpful information at Or like Winneshiek County Recycling on Facebook Or call 563-382-6514 Facility hours: Monday - Friday 6 am to 3 pm, Drop-off containers in front of building and numerous collection bins within the county are open 24-Hours! \ WInter 2017-18



Barb Welgos

Interviewed by Inspire(d) Media’s Benji Nichols

Barb Welgos lives a life full of family, service, daily email writing, and keeping tabs on sporting events. On top of that, she plays regularly during the season at the Oneota Golf & Country Club – all at age 95. She was raised in Riverside, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, but was “destined to be an Iowan!” Many summers were spent at her grandmother’s in Lansing, Iowa, and she is a graduate of Grinnell College (as was her mother). She moved to Waterville, Iowa with her husband, Joe, in 1947 to help run a family lumberyard, and to Decorah a couple of years later. From the Brookfield Zoo to Luther College, her life’s work often focused on serving others, and always on her family and three daughters (Jane, Nancy, and Mary). Her volunteerism runs deep, including decades spent at the Winneshiek Medical Center as a greeter, as well as knitting newborn caps, PEO (Philanthropic Education Organization), the Luther College Woman’s Club, and the United Methodist Church of Decorah. Barb is proud of her family, her many friends, and thankful for her health! She truly brings a light to any room with her youthful exuberance. What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? One of my speech professors at Grinnell always said, “Plan your work, and work your plan!” I’ve always liked that. Also, “don’t lose touch with your younger friends as you age,” it was my girls who gave that to me! What did you want to be when you grew up? I originally thought I might be a nurse, as many women did at that time. My dad was in PR for the Swift Company in Chicago, and encouraged me to get advanced typing courses. At Grinnell I majored in speech, with minors in sociology and psychology. What do/did you do? I was a nurse’s aid during the war while Joe was gone, and then had a personnel position at the Sears Roebuck offices in downtown Chicago. I did some speech therapy work early on, but was then a homemaker when we moved to Iowa and had our family. Once our daughters were older, I started taking some education classes at Luther – some from (Professor) John Cline. While I was doing that, the Dean of Women left her position, and I was offered a position as Counselor for Women at the college, which I did for seven years before they rehired a Dean. Then I became the director of Student Health Services before Joe and I both retired from Luther. We enjoyed our retirement together, seeing family and traveling to Florida, Texas, and Arizona before Joe passed away in in 1995. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you? My three daughters! Try to describe yourself in one sentence. Living my life fully, day by day, and with a positive attitude!

Do you know someone you’d love to interview for this page? Let us know!

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? A little something sweet… Name one thing you could not live without. Sending and receiving emails – I email with friends and family every day. Multiple choice: tell us about… Your first job. The Brookfield Zoo was right at the backdoor of our high school – we could hear the animals from school! When I was at the age for a summer job, I went to work in the concession stand at the zoo. I did that for two summers, and then moved to being a cashier for another summer. The pay was 15 cents an hour, and my sister and cousin also worked at the zoo. The baby panda came during that time (the first in the US), and there were always interesting people around.

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Inspire(d) Winter 2017-2018  
Inspire(d) Winter 2017-2018  

Learn to be Koselig This Winter! Stay cozy tips, Norwegian Best Cake recipe, local author interviews, Driftless outdoor fun, Justin Trails,...