DEMENTIA DIAGNOSIS? WHEN IS KEEPING YOUR FAMILY MEMBER HOME NO LONGER AN OPTION
SOMETIMES IT TAKES A VILLAGE!
Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / 3
COMEBACK TWINS Tourists are pouring into Beloit and Janesville, Wisconsin, for its local food, art, music and films, too.
NOVEMBER FROM THE EDITOR 8 Movers and shakers: These are the women of Good Age.
MY TURN 10 A new local book will tell an incredible story of forgiveness.
MEMORIES 12 I have no regrets about my decision to be child free.
REAL AGING Men aged 75 and older are dying of suicide at a rate nearly 30% higher than any other group.
14 Meet four women who were the first to hold statewide office in Minnesota.
HOUSING 16 Remodelers are catering to the needs of older adults.
HOUSING SPOTLIGHT 20 Avidor’s Edina community offers 55-plus luxury living.
IN THE KITCHEN 22 Savor the flavors of autumn with this easy spiced cider.
ON THE COVER Rose McGee and a crew of volunteers will bake 91 pies for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Photos by Tracy Walsh 6 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
GRANDPARENTING 34 Stumped on what to get the grandkids this year?
LISTINGS 48 HOUSING CALENDAR 50 CAN’T-MISS TEASERS 56 BRAIN
FROM THE EDITOR Volume 38 / Issue 11
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8 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
Brave and strong
BY SARAH JACKSON
t isn’t easy living in the modern world. Watching horrifying events on the news and hearing devastating updates from friends and family about their trials — as we, meanwhile, are facing our own challenges — can make us feel overwhelmed, paralyzed by guilt or sick with helplessness. Rose McGee of Golden Valley knows this feeling. Having just survived a traumatizing period in her own life, she found herself watching a heartbreaking newscast about the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. Deeply troubled, she was suddenly overcome by the need to take action. “I feel it was the Lord who spoke to me: ‘Get up and get some pies down there,’” McGee said. So that’s what she did. And today that one grand gesture — a long-distance road trip to deliver 30 handmade sweet potato pies to Missouri — has blossomed into something even grander: Her Sweet Potato Comfort Pie project is now in its sixth year and it is, I’d argue, actually making the world a better, gentler place. You can read McGee’s inspiring story — and even learn how to make her amazing pie — in the pages ahead. And guess what? Hers isn’t the only story of hope in the issue. This month Dave Nimmer writes about 67-year-old Mary Johnson-Roy, who found it in her heart to forgive the man who killed her son when he was 20 years old. She went on to create From Death to Life, an organization that hosts “healing groups” for mothers whose children have been murdered and mothers whose children have committed murder. A new book that captures the tale of forgiveness, Beyond Belief, is coming out next year. This month, we also have a Minnesota Historical Society piece that looks back at the first four women to hold office at the State Capitol. They won their races back in the 1920s in the first Minnesota election in which women were allowed to vote. Imagine! That was nearly a century ago. Just looking at their photos gives me chills. Though Carol Hall didn’t know about that story, she just so happened to write this month about how she and many of her friends made the controversial decision in the 1950s to not have children and instead focus on their careers. I can’t help but marvel at the bravery all these women in these stories showed. I’m grateful to know them and to tell their stories in Good Age. Happy Thanksgiving.
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A forgiveness beyond belief BY DAVE NIMMER
t’s a soulful and spiritual partnership between a white nun, who sought to explore the privilege from the color of her skin, and a black mother, who wanted relief from the anger and resentment toward the man who killed her son. It’s the story of Sister Mary Margaret McKenzie, 91, who asked her Visitation community of North Minneapolis to commission a book about Mary Johnson-Roy, 67, and her journey toward forgiving the man who killed her 20-year-old son, Laramiun Byrd, Feb. 12, 1993, in North Minneapolis. The book, Beyond Belief, will be published early next year. The author, Ray Richardson, is a former Pioneer Press reporter. To write the book, he spent hours interviewing both Johnson-Roy
and Oshea Israel, the then-16-year-old who shot and killed her child. He also searched through court records and talked to prison authorities. In the book, Richardson writes about the final moments of the meeting between Johnson-Roy and Israel in Stillwater Prison before he was released in 2010: “Ma’am, before I go, may I give you a hug?” Oshea asks. Mary’s head tilts slightly in amazement. This is the last thing she expected as part of her mission. The man who killed her son wants to give her a hug. Johnson-Roy responded with a yes and her life was forever changed. “I just hugged the man who murdered my son. I think I really have forgiven this man. Oh, my God.”
Richardson writes: Mary is standing straight. Her arms are elevated, palms up. Eyes now open. If the ceiling wasn’t blocking Mary’s view, she would be looking straight into heaven, perhaps telling Laramiun, “Son, I’m okay. I’m at peace now.” Sister McKenzie became intimately aware of gun violence in North Minneapolis when she showed up for street vigils for the youthful victims, many of them organized by then-Ward 5 Alderman Don Samuels. She noticed the same people were always giving the same messages, and wondered where the mothers were. Then she met Johnson-Roy who had just organized From Death to Life (fromdeathtolife.us), which hosts “healing groups” for mothers whose children have been murdered and mothers whose
▲▲Sister Mary Margaret McKenzie poses with Oshea Israel (left) and Mary Johnson-Roy (right), whose incredible story of forgiveness is documented in the forthcoming book Beyond Belief by Ray Richardson. 10 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
children have committed murder. Johnson-Roy asked McKenzie to be on her board and she immediately accepted. “It is important for people to know the stories of all these mothers,” McKenzie said. “In the end, it is about forgiveness, and forgiveness defines our souls.” Johnson-Roy credits McKenzie with teaching her about what it means to be a nun: In her case, sometimes funny, occasionally sharp, always real. “She is truly MY Sister,” JohnsonRoy said. “She said she’d once spoke in tongues. I sometimes speak in tongues. She shows me how to live: Be open. Be honest. Be loving. Be present.” Johnson-Roy has done that, partnering with Oshea Israel after he was released from prison in 2010 to talk about forgiveness to groups throughout the Twin Cities and across the country on national TV news shows. In fact, Mary and the Sisters hosted a welcome home party at their house for Oshea after his release. They encircled him and promised their support. Sister Karen Mohan recalls she told Oshea she would pray for him and she’s done that every day since. Beyond Belief is the tangible, readable result of the relationship between the two Marys. Their spiritual gift to seniors like me is a bit more elusive, something about the grace of forgiveness leading to a gentler and more hopeful world. They tell me you do this by shedding resentments, accepting responsibility and seeking reconciliation. Underlying it all is the advice from the Visitation’s founder, Saint Francis de Sales: Be who you are, and be that well. Dave Nimmer had a long career as a reporter, editor and professor. Now retired, he has no business card, but plenty to do. Send comments or questions to email@example.com.
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Child free, not childless BY CAROL HALL
have been married, but I have no children. The same is true of three close friends. Back in the days when we should have been having babies, the 1950s and ’60s, we were off doing other things. To shun motherhood during that conservative family-oriented era opened us up for a great deal of scrutiny. So prevalent was the idea of family life, we were thought odd, and looked upon with disapproval — even shamed. Now that we’ve all reached grandparent — even great-grandparent — age, I queried if any of them is sorry today. “Never once in my 76 years have I felt cheated by not having a child,” said Jo from Edina, who enjoyed a long career as a teacher. “Life has been rich and fulfilling and lived on my terms. Some women tell me they feel sorry for me,” she said. “There is a certain arrogance in that statement. It’s all a matter of choice.” Bernice of Oakdale owned and operated a small retail gift and jewelry store. She replied, “No, I’m not sorry. I feel as though I am ‘mom’ to all children. I cringe when I see a little one ignored or not well cared for. Some people use the term ‘child free’ as opposed to ‘childless.’ I haven’t decided which one I prefer.” “I didn’t really care if I had children or not,” said Jane from South Minneapolis, who had a challenging career as an executive secretary. “Women age differently according to their lifestyle. Those with children age with their children: They become grandmothers and think along
12 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
those lines. Women without children remain young.” As for me, I had the opportunity to marry young and have a family, but chose instead to put myself through the University of Minnesota while working as an airline stewardess. Older women going to school was unheard of then: When I walked into a classroom the other students mistook me for the teacher! It took 12 years, but I received my bachelor’s degree in 1974. I guess I just don’t have the “mommy gene.” I’ve never been sorry. The objections we faced, of placing career over motherhood, aren’t there for young women today. They, instead, are encouraged to move forward — even going so far as to run for President of the United States. So, bravo for us! We pioneered for them. We broke from tradition early on, charting our own course — as did another friend of mine, Louise. Louise, conversely, wanted children — but could not conceive. “Being unable to have children was a factor in deciding to become a teacher so I could help shape hundreds of children’s lives for the better,” she said.
Louise also sponsored a young girl in Peru through PLAN International. She was matched with a 7-year-old girl through Big Brothers Big Sisters. She befriended a young single mom and enjoyed spoiling her two children. “I often wondered whether I should accept a rose on Mother’s Day when women are honored at my church,” she said. “I think this year I will accept that rose.” Carol Hall lives in Woodbury. She’s a longtime freelance writer, a University of Minnesota graduate and a former Northwest Airlines stewardess. Send comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The women who paved the way BY LAUREN PECK
he coming year, 2020, will mark 100 years since the 19th Amendment granted U.S. women the right to vote. On Nov. 7, 1922, the first state election after suffrage came into effect, four Minnesota women became the first female legislators to hold office at the State Capitol. Here’s a look at the four women who first broke barriers in the Minnesota political realm to become members of the state House of Representatives.
Myrtle Cain Only 28 when she was elected to represent a Minneapolis district, Cain was one of the youngest female legislators in the country. Despite her youth, she already had served as the president of the Women’s Trades Union of Minneapolis and co-founded Minnesota’s branch of the National Woman’s Party. As a state representative, she quickly took a stand on big issues, including proposing an Equal Rights Amendment in 1923, which stalled in the legislature. She also authored the first-ever bill targeting the Ku Klux Klan. The law made it a misdemeanor for members of organizations like the Klan to wear masks or otherwise conceal their identity in public. After her bill passed 96-2 in Minnesota, some 15 other states followed suit and passed their own anti14 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
masking laws. In 1924, Cain narrowly lost her seat by a handful of votes, but she stayed active in politics for decades. She worked for the Farm-Labor and DFL parties, served as labor relations director for the Twin Cities Army ammunition plant, and was an aide to Mayor Hubert Humphrey, Rep. Roy Wier and Sen. Eugene McCarthy.
Hannah Jensen Kempfer From the small town of Erhard near Fergus Falls, Kempfer was the first woman elected to office from rural Minnesota. She was a former teacher and farmer’s wife, whose friends urged her to run for office. During her first campaign — and her nine non-consecutive terms in the Minnesota House between 1923 and 1942 — Kempfer remained fiercely independent and refused party or special interest group endorsements. “My guiding principle will be ‘equal opportunities for all with special privileges to none,’” she said.
At the legislature, she was a strong advocate for the welfare of children, which was rooted in her own experience. Kempfer was left at a Norwegian orphanage as a baby by her unmarried mother and later adopted. In 1923, Kempfer and her fellow female legislators co-authored a bill that guaranteed children born out of wedlock would receive inheritance rights and required fathers to give their children their last name. Kempfer was also the first woman to serve as speaker of the state House of Representatives; she was appointed honorary speaker for the day on Jan. 28, 1925.
Sue Metzger Dickey Hough Elected to represent a Minneapolis district, Hough was a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and worked in the real estate business. She campaigned as “a businesswoman for a business position” and noted that as a widow with no children, she could devote
⊳⊳Hannah Jensen Kempfer at her desk (pictured left) at the State Capitol in 1936; Hannah Kempfer and Mabeth Hurd Paige in the House of Representatives in St. Paul (right); Photos courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
herself fully to the legislature. When her friends encouraged her to run for office, Hough was reluctant. However, when she told her father she wasn’t going to campaign, he said, “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen a whitelivered Dickey.” She was determined to prove her father wrong and quickly registered to run. During her one term in office, she advocated for a variety of issues, including automobile taxes, building the Mendota Bridge and a revolver bill that echoes gun debates still going on today. “I felt if our boys could not so readily secure firearms, they would not commit these crimes,” she recalled in a report on the 1923 session. Her bill passed the state House, but didn’t make it through the Senate. Hough ran for reelection in 1924, but lost by 150 votes. In a 1963 Minneapolis Star article, she said, “I wasn’t smart enough to ask for a recount.” Hough, however, stayed involved in government work as an employee of the Minnesota Department of Public Welfare from 1939 to 1959.
Mabeth Hurd Paige Before the Minnesota legislature, Paige was an active local suffrage leader and chaired the committee to create the Minnesota chapter of the League of Women Voters. Married to a University
⊳⊳Mabeth Hurd Paige, circa 1925; Myrtle Cain, circa 1923; and Sue Metzger Dickey Hough in 1923.
of Minnesota law school professor, Paige attended law school and was admitted to the bar, but never practiced. In January 1923, soon after her first term began, she introduced a bill in the legislature advocating for employed minors to be able to take high school classes part-time. Paige went on to serve as a longtime legislator representing the Kenwood area of Minneapolis. With 10 consecutive terms and 22 years in office, her efforts spanned a variety of issues, including working hours for women, psychiatric care, welfare and environmental protection for the state’s forests and lakes. After retiring in 1944, Paige was appointed to state commissions on race relations and employment and security and continued to call for more women in politics. When she retired, she expressed concern in the Minneapolis Tribune about how the number of female legislators had fallen rather than grown: “I had hoped when I entered the legislature in 1923 that by 1943 no less than 10 percent of the legislature would be women — yet I am now the only one.” Until the late 1970s, the Minnesota legislature continued to have only a handful of women, but since the mid-2000s, numbers have grown to an average of 60–70 female legislators. In the current 2019-2020 session, women hold 64 of 201 seats, about 32% of the Minnesota State Congress. To learn more about Minnesota women’s impact on the political landscape and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, mark your calendars for the forthcoming exhibit, She Voted: Her Fight, Our Right, which opens Sept. 26, 2020, at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. Lauren Peck is a public relations specialist for the Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / 15
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Designed for aging Want to stay put as you age? Take advantage of these tips for thoughtful planning and strategic remodeling. BY SUSAN SCHAEFER
ome is where the heart is — and many Minnesotans are yearning to stay home as they age. But what happens when climbing stairs or getting in and out of a traditional tubshower becomes difficult? Is it time to move into a senior living community? Not necessarily. If you have a strong social community surrounding you — and a desire to age in the home you’ve always known — you have options. Staying put or aging in place, as it’s known, may be a less expensive option, especially if your home is paid off. In fact, the issue of being able to age in place may be more relevant than ever. Senior citizens are the fastest-growing population, and by 2050, the total number of U.S. residents over 65 is set to double. And Minnesota is a special case. According to St. Paul’s Wilder Research, Minnesota’s 65-and-older adult population will more than double between 2010 and 2030 as the state’s 1.3 million baby boomers head into retirement. During the present decade alone, Minnesota’s senior population is on track to increase by 41%, more than the national average. Why? Residents here in the True North tend not to permanently retire to other regions. Hearty and hale, greatly attached to their families and social networks, Minnesotans stay put.
16 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
▲▲A shower with no curb and floors cleared of hazardous throw rugs make for a safe aging-in-place space. Photo courtesy of Andrea Rugg/Sylvestre Remodeling & Design
With health and social services for seniors already overwhelmed, committees and departments on aging are popping up nationwide, many with specific mandates to keep seniors safe, healthy and happy in their own homes. Notable in this effort is the design community, members of which often join forces with policy makers to offer ideas and services that improve and extend the lives of seniors who choose to live out their years in their own homes.
Certified experts When considering upgrades to an existing home — or building a new one — envisioning a future with full mobility in mind is wise. Although it’s difficult to imagine while enjoying robust health, almost 50% of Americans over 65 will have major joint replacement. And that’s only one of a multitude of misfortunes that can quash mobility. Fortunately, architects, designers, remodelers, custom homebuilders and even occupational therapists have teamed up with other experts to design solutions and products that can help overcome obstacles incurred once mobility is impaired. Their goal is to facilitate lifelong residency. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) — in collaboration with AARP and other experts — has developed the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist
(CAPS) designation, which is earned through training and testing during a multicourse educational program. CAPS professionals focus on the unique needs of older adults, examining common barriers and the appropriate aging-in-place home modifications to solve them. According to NAHB, a CAPS professional can: ⊲⊲ Recommend updates that will help a person live independently in his or her own home. ⊲⊲ Work with an occupational therapist to develop a home modification (or new-build plan) based on the safety and functional needs of an individual or household. ⊲⊲ Collaborate with a licensed contractor or interior designer about building and design strategies for creating attractive, barrier-free living spaces. ⊲⊲ Provide information about building codes and standards, useful products and resources and the costs and time required for common remodeling projects. CAPS remodelers and design-build professionals are not medical or healthcare professionals, and generally consult by charging an hourly or flat fee. To find a CAPS professional, visit the NAHB directory page at nahb.org/find.
LEVELING UP How much does an elevator cost?
What about stair lifts?
Adding an elevator to an existing home costs, on average, between about $35,000–$45,000 in the U.S., according to fixr.com. Read about the different types and brands of elevators, including hydraulic and pneumatic, at fixr.com/costs/elevator-installation.
A professionally installed stairlift costs about $3,000–$5,000 in the U.S., according to fixr.com, about the average cost of one month of assisted living in Minnesota ($3,468). Custom curve rail configurations can cost more than $10,000. Read about the different types and brands of stair lifts at fixr.com/ costs/stairlift-installation.
Residents here in the True North tend not to permanently retire to other regions. Hearty and hale, greatly attached to their families and social networks, Minnesotans stay put. Design savvy Sylvestre Remodeling & Design’s owner and chief architect, John Sylvestre, has a lifetime of experience in making home modifications that allow people to stay in the homes they love — with an eye toward style as well as safely. A self-confessed baby boomer, Sylvestre takes seriously individuals’ desires to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. His Richfield-based firm is CAPScertified and his portfolio abounds with examples of work with typical Minneapolis housing stock. For example, his firm installed an elevator in a 1920s home for one client, matching its door to the existing hallway doors to seamlessly integrate the design into the character of the home. Following well-established aging-inplace guidelines, Sylvestre emphasizes basic categories for consideration: One-level living is a primary factor once mobility is impacted. “We have done a number of projects that make sure there is a full bathroom on the first floor, a possible sleeping room and a laundry,” Sylvestre said. Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / 17
▲▲This elevator was finished to match the original interior doors of the existing home. Photos courtesy of Andrea Rugg/Sylvestre Remodeling & Design
⊲⊲ Is there a step-free entrance into
Of course, the bathroom is another critical area. It must be able to accom-
modate mobility aids, such as canes,
⊲⊲ Is there a bedroom, a full bath
walkers and wheelchairs. Options include
or a kitchen on the main level?
widening doors, replacing tubs with
⊲⊲ Are interior doorways at least
showers, investing in wall-hung toilets
36 inches wide?
with adjustable heights, positioning
⊲⊲ Does the kitchen have a work surface
shower controls in a practical location, or
you can use while seated?
removing curbs or step-ups into showers,
⊲⊲ Are the kitchen cabinets and shelves
which also creates a more modern look.
easy for you to reach?
Kitchens are another essential mobility-
⊲⊲ Are your exterior walkways and
friendly frontier. Sylvestre suggests taking a look at cabinets, doorways and islands,
entrances well lit?
ensuring adequate room for tasks. Fully mobile individuals take for granted clearance space needed to open doors and drawers that would be greatly
⊲⊲ Are stairway light fixtures located at ▲▲Shower stall entries without steps can accommodate walkers, wheelchairs and other mobility aids.
impacted when using a mobility aid like a walker or wheelchair.
What to ask There are many resources for folks contemplating an aging-in-place adaptable remodel. 18 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
One of the most popular is AARP’s HomeFit Guide (tinyurl.com/aarphomefit-guide), which begins with a checklist of questions designed to help seniors to think wisely about how to live independently longer. Here are a few:
both the top and bottom of the stairs? ⊲⊲ Do you have a shower with a stepfree entry? ⊲⊲ Are the bathroom cabinets and shelves easy for you to reach? ⊲⊲ Does your bathroom have a lever-, touch- or sensor-style faucet? ⊲⊲ Are there non-slip strips or non-slip mats in the bathtub and/or shower?
According to the NIH’s National Institute on Aging, older adults thinking about aging in place should also consider their ability to continue getting out for social activities, making their own meals, doing personal care tasks, completing household chores, taking care of money management and staying on top of medications and health care, including emergencies. Learn more at tinyurl.com/aging-inplace-ideas.
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A cold-weather city like Minneapolis must mind its walkways, skyways and highways to ensure the safety of Minnesotans who are staying put. So, along with the inside of homes, urban cityscapes and resources are important to the aging-in-place debate. A few years back, Jessica Finlay conducted extensive studies at the University of Minnesota in her field of environmental gerontology. She reported that older residents need small amenities like benches, shady spots, nearby shopping and longer-timed traffic lights to help them cross the street. In Minneapolis, agencies like the city’s Advisory Committee on Aging are working with researchers like Finlay and with nonprofits like the Wilder Foundation to ensure that mobility considerations are factored into the city’s urban plan. Minneapolis, it seems, might be an especially good spot to age in place, inside and out! Susan Schaefer is a Minneapolis-based freelance communications consultant, writer and photographer. Reach her at email@example.com. Read about her recent double hip replacement at mngoodage.com/health/2019/06/ hip-hip-hooray. Rebuilding Together GA 0919 H4.indd 1
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Sophistication for seniors
AVIDOR WHERE: 5220 Eden Ave., Edina OPENING DATE: June 1, 2019 OPENINGS? Yes. AGES: 55 and older NUMBER AND TYPE OF UNITS:
BY SARAH JACKSON
f you’re feeling reluctant about downsizing — or about joining the masses moving into the “senior living” stage of life — you might want to give Avidor a peek. This new, 55-plus Edina community — 165 chic apartments near Highway 100 and 50th Street — is a luxury looker. Its sleek architecture, cushy furniture and contemporary interior design seems right at home in Edina — just east of Interlachen Country Club. It’s sophisticated, but still senior friendly with rent that includes daily continental breakfasts and concierge services, cooking and fitness classes (Zumba Gold, Tai Chi and more), on-site community programming (speakers and entertainers) and social activities such as happy hours, a walking club, coffee clutches and book clubs, plus poker, trivia, movie and game nights.
20 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
A resident “experience director” works to create a robust calendar of daily events and activities that’s tailored to specific requests and interest areas of the active adult residents, said Gabrielle Langan, community director at Avidor Edina. “While our community is truly beautiful, it’s our unique lifestyle program that brings our community to life and promotes active and purposeful living for our residents,” Langan said. Avidor is set to open another location in Minnetonka — with 168 apartments near Ridgedale Center and the Ridgedale Library — in summer of 2020. Nearby, the City of Minnetonka is developing a new, two-acre community park adjacent to Ridgedale Center, using land donated by High Street Residential, which is the developer of both Avidor properties.
165 apartments, including 1-bedroom units ranging from 537–1,125 square feet, and 2-bedroom units ranging from 1,013–1,834 square feet
COST RANGE: $1,899–$4,984 per month, which includes continental breakfasts, social activities, fitness classes, community programming and concierge services. PROPERTY OWNER: Avidor
is managed by Allegro Management Company of St. Louis, Missouri; it was developed by High Street Residential, the residential subsidiary of Texas-based developer Trammell Crow Company.
OTHER COMMUNITIES IN MINNESOTA:
Avidor Minnetonka will open in August 2020 at 12610 Ridgedale Drive.
INFO: 952-658-7848, avidoredina.com
Amenities and activities ⊲⊲ Continental breakfasts ⊲⊲ Concierge seven days a week ⊲⊲ Controlled access ⊲⊲ Daily events and activities ⊲⊲ Stainless steel appliances ⊲⊲ Gas ranges ⊲⊲ Balconies/patios ⊲⊲ Outdoor pool/rooftop terrace/grills ⊲⊲ Business center ⊲⊲ Club room ⊲⊲ Demonstration/catering kitchen ⊲⊲ Fitness center and yoga studio ⊲⊲ Salon/spa ⊲⊲ Theater ⊲⊲ Pet wash and dog run ⊲⊲ Bike storage ⊲⊲ Electric vehicle charging stations ⊲⊲ Valet trash service.
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Do you know of a new or interesting senior housing facility in the Twin Cities that might make a good Housing Spotlight? Write Minnesota Good Age editor Sarah Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Housing Spotlight.
10/18/192019 10:28/AM Minnesota Good Age / November 21
IN THE KITCHEN
Savor the ďŹ‚avors of autumn with this delicious recipe. You can even use a slow cooker to make it easy! Bonus: As the cider mulls, your house will smell fantastic â€” just the thing for a weekend treat or a tasty contribution to any holiday gathering.
SUPER-EASY SPICED CIDER INGREDIENTS
1 gallon apple cider 4 whole cinnamon sticks ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 tablespoon whole cloves 1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced Peel of one orange DIRECTIONS
⊲ Combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker. (To make it easier to remove the spices and orange peel, place them in a few layers of cheesecloth tied with a string to make a little bundle.) ⊲ Heat on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours, or until spices infuse the cider. The longer the spices cook, the stronger the spice flavor will be.
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⊲ Remove the spices before serving. Extra cider can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks in the fridge.
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Manhattans * Martinis Gimlets * Old Fashioneds etc ... Source: Simple Green Meals by Jen Hansard. Photos by Lindsey Rose Johnson. Copyright 2018. Reprinted with permission from Rodale Books, an imprint of The Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives in Northeastern Minnesota. Follow her blog — Kids, Lakes, Loons and Pines — at megdevine.com. Park Tavern GA 0719 H4.indd 1
6/21/19 11:28 Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / AM 23
S N W O T
A new pedestrian bridge over the Rock River in Beloit connects the Ironworks Hotel with the Ironworks Golf Lab, which oďŹ€ers indoor golf performance training and entertainment. Photos courtesy of Visit Beloit and the Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
SEE WHY BELOIT AND JA N E S V I L L E H AV E B E C O M E TOURIST AT T R A C T I O N S IN SOUTHERN WISCONSIN By Carla Waldemar
Beloit and Janesville, Wisconsin — apart by about 10 miles — are friendly rivals much like our own Twin Cities. Both straddle the scenic Rock River as it rampages along. Both are predominantly blue-collar towns that got walloped by the Great Recession of ’08. But both decided not to lie down and die. Their citizens vowed to survive; so they pulled themselves up by their well-worn bootstraps and made their communities even more inviting than before. Today, instead of fleeing, residents are pouring in — and so are tourists.
Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / 25
B E L O I T,
the southernmost of the two (population 36,000), is planted virtually on the border with Illinois, so don’t be surprised to encounter troops of cool Chicagoans vying for space in downtown hotels and restaurants — establishments that would look right at home on the Windy City’s elite Lake Shore Drive. A local business owner, who refused to let her beloved town shrivel, bought the Beloit Inn and renovated it into Ironworks Hotel, a luxe boutique on the bank of the Rock River. It boasts a rough-hewn industrial charm, along with a destination restaurant: Merrill & Houston’s Steak Joint features nine cuts of premier beef as well as duck a l’orange, shrimp scampi and barbecued ribs. Across the street and envisioned by the same owner sits Hotel Goodwin, Ironworks’ cosmopolitan sister, with a cool demeanor celebrating edgy art and an enviable vinyl collection (turntables in every room). Its restaurant, Velvet Buffalo Truk’t Street Tacos, Tequila & Whiskey
26 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
Café, starts dinners with a strawberry, beet and watermelon salad, followed by organic salmon, fried chicken with sweetcorn pudding, or my choice, Berkshire pork belly enhanced with tomatillo, pineapple and Fresno chilis. Pizza from its stone-fired oven is a big hit here, too. Then, which tart will it be? The truﬄe
s’mores version or the blueberry and sweet corn? The Powerhouse, an aptly-named student union, recreation center and athletics facility, is opening this fall and will welcome students from the Beloit College campus it anchors — as well as the general public. The college, founded in 1846 and older than the state of Wisconsin itself, reminds me of our own Macalester with its campus of tumbling greenswards. The campus’s Logan Museum of Anthropology welcomes one and all to examine its collection of objects, mostly gleaned from Mexico and Central America — baskets, pottery, bandolier bags and more. Its neighbor, the Wright Museum of Art, operates four galleries of rotating exhibits (etchings and American landscapes on my visit), all purposely displayed without identifying labels to make students do their own research. Both museums are free. The town’s old-timey Main Street could double
Blue Collar Coﬀee
as a movie set for small-town Americana. Pink petunias overflow their sidewalk beds. A bandstand awaits summertime’s free concerts. Rod, proprietor of the 100-year-old barbershop, shows off his vintage clink-clink cash register and penny scale. Tin Dog Records boasts vinyl, new and used. At Stanton Shoes, we glimpsed a clerk down on one knee to measure a lady’s feet, just like back in the day. A neon sign in a second-story window promises pole-dancing lessons. My Apt @ 429 sells vintage furnishings and clothes. (Don’t miss the beaded handbags). And from May–October on Saturdays downtown is the site of a vibrant farmers market. If you can’t wait that long for a bite, check out truk’t (by the same woman who developed the hotels), which intrigues diners with its trendy takes on tacos, such as Peking duck and shrimp curry. They know their margaritas, too. OK, it’s Wisconsin: Gotta have beer. So a brand-new brewery has arisen in the gorgeous countryside just outside town. G5 Brewing Company is the dreamcome-true of five Gunderson family members, who serve flights and pints and tasty bar food. (Go for the crab cakes!)
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10/17/19 3:36/PM Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 27
JA N E S V I L L E , population 65,000, has a similar economic story to tell, with another happy ending. For years the small town, home of politician Paul Ryan, produced elite, made-to-order Parker pens, until production was moved offshore. Well, there was always General Motors, which employed practically everybody else in town. Until it didn’t. It closed two days before Christmas 2008. Mr. Ryan offered no help, nor did anyone else to whom the city reached. So the townsfolk fueled a renaissance all by themselves. A new hotel with restaurant, Cobblestone Hotel & Suites and Wissota Chophouse, recently opened on Milwaukee Street, and not far away, diners flock to Lark, which debuted in 2017. “Janesville,” said its owner, “was chains-ville. The city was hungry for a good new restaurant.” Chefs’ resumes flowed in from “all over the country.” This evening, its customers range from
partying millennials to a lady of a certain age sporting a shaved head, save for a magenta mohawk. The kitchen specializes in New American comfort food — fried green tomatoes, farro salad, barbecued shrimp, pheasant from a local farm. Best seller? “Our kimchi mac and cheese.” For breakfast, follow the paramedics (as we did) leaping out of their vehicle to scurry into Citrus to stave off a caloric, rather than
30 venues that stay open late
• Grand Lighted Holiday
to provide a unique shopping
Parade: Kick off the holiday season with live music, free hot
medical, emergency via its famous fresh orange juice, plus Benedicts galore. Or start the day with bangers and mash and other Irish fantasies at O’Riley and Conway’s. Their owners have been in business in this space since 1933, opening just moments after Prohibition was repealed. Stroll the victuals off in the lovely Rotary Botanical Gardens — a former gravel pit gorgeously repurposed into 20 acres hosting 24 different garden styles and 4,000 varieties of plants. On select nights in November/December, see it all decorated with holiday lights. Then comb Main Street for more eye candy in the form of murals like the one saluting Chief Black Hawk (left). It shares the block with Carousel Consignments, where owner Joni has curated collectibles for 28 years — cigar boxes and comic books, spinning wheels and dinner bells. The Rock County Historical Society opens Janesville’s historic Lincoln-
experience; Dec. 6. • Beloit International Film
chocolate, photos with Santa
Festival: Now in its 15th year,
and Mrs. Claus and a commu-
BIFF is an annual 10-day film
nity parade with decorative
festival that celebrates the
floats; Nov. 29.
power of independent film
• Holidazzle: Downtown Beloit
from around the world at
comes to life with dazzling
venues ranging in size from 40
holiday window displays,
to 400 seats showcasing 100
carolers and music, plus items
films; Feb. 21–March 1.
for sale from artisans and
Find more events and visitor
craftspeople in more than
information at visitbeloit.com.
28 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
JANESVILLE • Rotary Botanical Gardens Holiday Light Show: Stroll through a winter wonderland featuring 750,000 lights and family-friendly fun; Nov. 29– Dec. 30 on select nights. • Janesville’s Jolly Jingle: Ring in the holiday season with ice skating, live reindeer, a lighted parade, live theater, a holiday market, fireworks, a tree lighting, family entertainment, kids activities, a historical
O’Riley & Conway’s Irish Pub
Tallman House to visitors, including over the holidays. President Lincoln overnighted there in 1859. I took the “Help Wanted Tour” in which visitors take on roles of servants: My laundry-folding failed to pass inspection; I was put on table-setting duty instead. Carla Waldemar is an award-winning food/travel/arts writer. She edits the annual Zagat Survey of Twin Cities restaurants and writes food and travel articles for publications around the world. She lives in Uptown.
holiday tour and more; Dec. 6–8. • Holiday Tours of the LincolnTallman House: See a historic home dressed in its festive
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2/20/19 11:28 Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / AM 29
Out of the
darkness Let’s end the silence around suicide among older men
BY NATE CANNON
he phenomenon of suicide has long been at the center of social debate and discussion. It’s been theorized and analyzed by psychologists and sociologists through a variety of lenses for over a century, been the topic of intense media focus and has become part of the dialogue of mainstream culture. Yet, when discussing preventable suicide, few make mention or think of older adults. After many years of decline, suicide rates have been rising across all demographics since 1999. Despite increased awareness in recent years, few are aware that older adults, particularly older men, are dying by suicide at an alarming rate. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are dying by suicide at a rate nearly four times that of women, with men aged 75 and older dying at a rate nearly 30% higher than any other age group. And yet this “silent epidemic” has rarely been discussed, and there remains a paucity of research around older men and suicide. With the number of older adults set to increase dramatically and with increased life expectancy, more complex health-care challenges are bound to develop.
How we age varies from person to person, though. Life at 50 or 75 for one person can be far different from the next. Yet, for all of us, as we age, the inevitable happens: Our bodies and minds feel the impact of the aging process, and suddenly the baseline of our abilities, as well as our connections to others, start to change.
Responding to changes As it turns out, both how we respond psychologically to these changes throughout life — and how we in turn manage our own health-care habits — can have a lot to do with gender. In the 2018 review, Suicide in Older Adults, researchers identified specific risk factors for suicidal thoughts and behaviors among people over 65: “psychiatric and neurocognitive disorders, social exclusion, bereavement, cognitive impairment, decision making and cognitive inhibition, physical illnesses and physical and psychological pain.” These contributing factors for suicide may be different for older adults than those of younger groups. So too, they may be different for men than for women. In fact, in an analysis of suicides over the previous 15 years in the United Kingdom, it was found that anxiety and associated depression were factors in one in six deaths of older adults who died by suicide. These individuals were more likely to be male and to live alone, with isolation and physical disability being more prominent contributing factors to the suicides. As we age, we’re more likely to experience health-related setbacks that impact our physical abilities, challenge our ability to work or do other tasks independently, and these in turn influence our income, autonomy and social standing. Aging also impacts relationships, including potential loss of a spouse or
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partner, or a circle of friends. The variables that often define the essence of a person’s life can change, and often disappear, with aging. Successful aging has been linked to the ability to adapt to these difficult but inevitable changes. Individuals who age well, in other words, are better able to bend and flex, and to pursue new alternatives or solutions that still provide a sense of control over what is still within their control. This research further suggests that individuals who struggle to adapt to the inevitable changes associated with aging are at increased risk of suicide.
‘Manning up’ Throughout the lifespan, men have traditionally been conditioned, taught or told to “man up” and “handle it.” As a result, many men may engage in or refrain from activities that, whether inadvertent or intentional, sabotage or fail to maintain their own health. In fact, men are far more likely to have seen a general practitioner for physical health reasons than to have seen a mental health professional in the month prior to suicide. With messages around masculinity being entrenched in the very essence of a man’s identity, an older man who’s found a way of living and developed a routine he’s built his life around, may struggle to adapt to the changes and losses that inevitably occur. Gender can have an enormous influence on how we “do” health care. For men, the social expectations imposed on their gender seem to amplify detrimental cycles of behavior. Research has consistently shown that men experience comparatively greater social pressure to conform to the influence of societal gender norms. As we age, many men may, therefore, find their traditional markers of masculinity compromised. Theory often suggests that masculinity is expressed by men by way of job title and income, physical fitness, social positioning,
independence in action and thought and ability. Inevitably, as we age, these are the areas of life that become challenged. A loss in any of these domains constitutes a greater risk for suicide in men. Moreover, these losses — when they come in many areas — ultimately impact the individual in a cumulative way, raising the risk of suicide exponentially.
Activities for men In my work with dementia, I found it consistently more difficult to engage men in activities. Of course, some activities enforced what were seen as traditional male and female gender roles. Men’s participation in baking club wasn’t expected to be too high. But even when activities were geared toward the specific interests of the men on the unit at that time, getting the men engaged was a challenge. It seemed they didn’t want others to see they needed help, and they certainly weren’t eager to ask for it. This was particularly true if it was an activity they enjoyed, which may be counterintuitive. As the disease progressed, however, they stayed in their rooms more. They chose to do what they could still do, without anyone questioning it: watch sports or other TV, alone. This vicious cycle of feeling disconnected from others, and the grief associated with the loss of the ability to do the things once enjoyed, can lead to isolation. This may lead to more anxiety around social interaction, which further amplifies the sense of loneliness. That can generate depression. Depression then propels the cycle to prime the conditions for a perfect storm.
Fighting isolation For many of the men I worked with, it was important to continue to offer support, and offer invitations to the activities they enjoyed even if they decline the offers
seemingly every time. Being there for someone who is experiencing depression, isolation or any form of mental health challenge can save a life. This may be especially true for men, who may be more prone to draw inward and isolate as the inevitable aspects of aging begin to take their toll and challenge their sense of identity. Adopting a chronic-care model and adjusting for social disconnectedness, neurocognitive impairment and disability are crucial components of successful suicide prevention programs for older adults. These approaches also must take into account what is noted as a gap in the literature: What is the influence of the caregiver dynamic on men’s health? Asking for help can be a difficult thing for anyone. Societal norms have historically deterred men from asking for help, which may be a contributing factor to why so many retreat into the darkness of isolation, and ultimately, end their life by suicide. For the men I worked with in the field of dementia, many of whom were living with mental health challenges, complex health scenarios and had very little family or outside support, it was crucial that I not give up on offering invitations or support. The pattern of isolation can be challenging to break. But by continuing to check in, offer help and not buying into the all too common belief that the person wishes to be alone “all the time” or “always says no,” a new pattern can emerge — one that can help bring these men, and the challenges they are facing, out of the darkness. Nate Cannon is a Twin Cities based author, public speaker and dementia specialist. If you or an older adult in your life are experiencing isolation or depression, please call the Institute on Aging’s 24-hour Friendship Line at 1-800-971-0016 or call the Senior LinkAge line at 1-800-333-2433 and ask about mental health resources. Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / 33
Toys, toys, toys! What should you get the grandkids this year for the holidays? Our sister publication, Minnesota Parent, recently tested 150 toys from local and national toy stores with 28 kids and 17 parents/grandparents. Here are just a few of their top picks!
AGES 1 AND UP
AGES 1 TO 5
This set of three silicone spinners for the baby and toddler set comes with suction cups, so you can pop one of these in front of Baby on a highchair tray, a car window, the side of the bathtub, the floor — you name it. And they’re approved as safe to use as teethers, too! Where to buy locally: ABC & Toy Zone (Chanhassen), Hub Hobby (Richfield, Little Canada), Kiddywampus (Hopkins), Legacy Toys (Edina, Minnetonka, MOA), Mischief Toys (St. Paul)
Would this Vespa-esque rider from Ambosstoys be all form and no function? Quite the opposite! During the toy test, it offered kids a super-smooth ride and cornered like a champ even in busy, tight spaces. It was by far the most popular ride-on toy and parents didn’t blink at the price. It comes in orange, pink, blue, yellow and mint green, too. Where to buy locally: ABC & Toy Zone, Hub Hobby, Legacy Toys COST: $149.99
→→WONDERHOOD GRAND HOTEL This creative building set includes 24 glossy plastic building panels (5 inches square, washable and doublesided), plus a three-story elevator, two figurines and design challenges. Where to buy locally: Legacy Toys (Edina location only) COST: $49.95
34 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
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Mad Mattr’s granular texture reminded us of Kinetic Sand, but its moldability and smooth feel brought back memories of PlayDoh. This kit helped kids shape the material into bricks and shapes to build structures. Where to buy locally: Legacy Toys, The Owl and the Octopus (Wayzata)
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→ CHRISTMAS BAKERY Playmobil: The Movie sets will abound this season after the summer release of the film. But this cute and quaint building set is timeless and ideal for imaginative play. It even includes miniature working cookie cutters. Where to buy locally: ABC & Toy Zone, Legacy Toys, The Owl and the Octopus COST: $49.99
AGE 14 AND UP
→ UGEARS MECHANICAL MODELS
This steam-punk-inspired 3D assembly kit does it all: It’s a puzzle; it’s art; it’s an educational toy. One of many models from Ugears, this bike features a rubber band motor that makes the motorcycle ride as far as 10 feet in one winding Where to buy locally: Science Museum of Minnesota’s Explore Store (St. Paul) COST: $36
LEARN MORE: See the November issue of Minnesota Parent or mnparent.com for the full toy test details, including lists of board games, stocking stuﬀers and more. KARE 11 TV will also be airing stories about the test on KARE 11 Sunrise with Gia Vang from 6–7 a.m. Nov. 4–12. Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / 35
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Rose McGee poses in her Golden Valley living room in front of an African-themed mural created by a friend of hers from Liberia. Photo by Tracy Walsh
38 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
Change A RECIPE FOR
Rose McGee is building connections and helping people heal — locally and nationwide — with her Sweet Potato Comfort Pie project. BY JULIE KENDRICK
Pie gets plenty of attention this month. It’s a time of year when nervous home cooks and experienced bakers alike are pondering and planning all things pie-related, debating the relative merits of pumpkin, pecan or apple for their Thanksgiving tables. But while November may be pie’s moment in the spotlight, that’s not how things work for Rose McGee, a 68-year-old Golden Valley resident. Instead, McGee is already looking toward January, when she and a crew of volunteers will be baking 91 of her signature Sweet Potato Comfort Pies in the course of a single day.
The event — officially known as Rose McGee’s Sixth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday of Service — is timed to coincide with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, which will be observed on Jan. 20 in 2020. McGee’s upcoming event has two parts: It starts with a baking day (Jan. 18) in which McGee and an all-volunteer crew will bake the pies to mark the 91st anniversary of King’s birth. The next day, Jan. 19, McGee will host a community conversation — Sweet Potato Comfort Pie: A Catalyst for Caring and Building Community — in which registered participants will sit down to sample the pie and talk about who in the community might need a pie. In past years, pies have gone to firefighters, health-care workers, school teachers and administrators. Some youth groups and racial justice organizations have received them, as have St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
HOW IT BEGAN It all started in the summer of 2014, when McGee was watching the news about the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer, and the resulting uproar, in Ferguson, Missouri. Deeply troubled, she stood up and found herself standing in her kitchen overcome by the need to take action. By God, she needed to do something. “I feel it was the Lord who spoke to me: ‘Get up and get some pies down there,’” McGee said. So McGee told her son she was going to drive homemade sweet potato pies to Ferguson. At first, he thought she was kidding. But then he agreed to go on the road trip with her and they, with 30 homemade pies in tow, had an amazing experience, delivering 40 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
You see what is happening every day. Doing nothing is not an option. Change can be made, one pie at a time. — Rose McGee, founder of the Sweet Potato Comfort Pie project
comfort and solidarity from Minnesota. “Upon arrival, first, I asked permission of each person as I offered them a gift of a pie and soon discovered that each one had something to share about how the pie had come at just the right time,” McGee recalled on her project’s website. As more fatal tragedies occurred in the months and years afterward, more road trips followed. Rather than sending thoughts and prayers to mourners near and far, McGee brought herself and more pies to distressed communities, including Minneapolis and St. Paul in 2015 and 2016 after the fatal officer-involved shootings of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile; to South Carolina in 2015 after the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting left nine dead; to North Dakota to the Water Protectors at Standing Rock in 2017; to Pittsburgh after a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018 left 11 dead and seven injured. In 2018, St. Louis Park police officers made Sweet Potato Comfort Pies in response to the bombings in Mogadishu that killed numerous relatives of Somali residents in St. Louis Park. Each time the pies went out, McGee was moved and humbled by the empathy and understanding the baked goods inspired. “We’re still getting cards from the folks out in Pittsburgh,” McGee said, adding that one of the most memorable
responses was from the widow of the man who died in the Minnehaha Academy explosion in 2017 in Minneapolis: “She said, ‘That pie was so delicious. I don’t know what you put in it, because it brought me such comfort.’” This year, McGee was recognized for her efforts in building intergenerational resiliency and racial unity with a two-year Bush Fellowship grant from the St. Paul-based Bush Foundation, which is focused on solving community problems throughout the Midwest.
MAKING AN IMPACT In addition to McGee’s personal baking, more than 3,000 sweet potato pies have been baked and served in the project. The work has involved 30,000 service hours and has impacted 3,000 people. McGee said her broader desire is to help communities develop a greater capacity to respond to the many painful events that happen each day. “We want to be able to express feelings, but we don’t always know how, so creating this food, then gathering and giving the pie away, is a way of doing that,” McGee said. McGee has seen the magic and healing that can happen when making food with love. And she’s found that sometimes the best way to understand the value of something is to give it all away. Of course, it’s no accident that this project is centered around this one particular food. McGee told the Star Tribune: “I call it the sacred dessert of black culture. It’s a delicious way of nurturing Rose McGee’s Sweet Potato Comfort Pie features a touch of lemon extract, ginger and brown sugar. Find her recipe on Page 45. Photo by Tracy Walsh Photography
Rose is a survivor, activist, leader and visionary. We are at a point in our community in Golden Valley where we’ve been able to build trust between the city and the African-American community. We still have a long ways to go, but we’re off to a good start, and we wouldn’t have gotten to this point [without] Rose. She’s a great leader for so many people. — Shep Harris, Golden Valley Mayor
and fortifying the human spirit. This pie not only gives us energy, but links us to history, soothes our spirits and renews us for much needed work.” After all, pies are natural conversation starters. They can build community and help celebrate events. In hard times, they can provide a symbol of caring and solidarity. In fact, McGee is convinced the pies can even bridge racial divides and move our culture toward greater healing and equity. McGee — who works full-time as a program officer for the Minnesota Humanities Center in East St. Paul — is well-versed in creating meaningful conversations. “One of my responsibilities is to lead story circles, which is how we get to the richness and authenticity of people’s hearts and stories,” said McGee, who is also co-author of the book Story Circle Stories. So her annual pie-based community conversations, which are free and involve about 200 people, aren’t random chatter. In fact, a Sweet Potato Comfort Pie Guide lays out how to convene meaningful and productive story circles. When determining who should receive a pie, a call-and-response mindset can be a starting point: First, there is the call, or awareness of, a person or community that could use a pie. Then, there’s the issue of how to respond with respect and humility. Each pie is hand-delivered and 42 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
includes a poem, written by McGee’s daughter, Pastor Roslyn Harmon. In certain situations, cultural considerations have come into play during pie distribution. At least twice, when delivering pies outside of the Twin Cities, McGee has found herself customizing the pie packaging and messaging. For example, when she brought pies to Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, she made the pies with students at the Jewish Day School in St. Louis Park, where the children made special cards to go with the pies. Those pies had to be made in a kosher kitchen with kosher ingredients and utensils, and each box containing a pie had to be kosher-sealed and blessed by a rabbi. When McGee made pies with the Indigenous Circle of Grandmothers to carry to Standing Rock, the grandmothers made their own poem and did a sacred blessing of the pies. “Culture plays a big part in how some things are done,” McGee said.
A TENNESSEE CHILDHOOD Though McGee has made a remarkable impact on her Midwest community, she spent her early years far from Minnesota. She was born and raised in Jackson, Tennessee, growing up on a farm under the guidance of her grandmother and
great-grandmother, whom she refers to as “the grand-women.” “We lived in the country, and we were poor, but we weren’t starving,” she said. “We grew our own food, so that was healthier eating all around.” She picked cotton for white farmers and also picked strawberries in the spring. Born in 1951, she attended segregated schools for much of her early life. She was in high school when the JacksonMadison County Fair finally became integrated. (The fair had previously been held for whites to attend first, then blacks the following week.) “I discovered that they had been having all these contests and competitions that we previously didn’t even know existed,” she said. “I was a member of Future Homemakers of America and the 4-H Club, and I liked understanding the science behind cooking. I started entering my then-famous cornbread muffins in the baking competitions, and I always got a red or blue ribbon.” After attending Lane College, she married, moved to Denver, had her daughter, Roslyn, and began working for United Airlines. She was also an adjunct professor at business colleges, teaching evening classes. “I always had two jobs,” she said. After her marriage ended in divorce, McGee took a job at an IBM regional
There are three ways to take part in Rose McGee’s Sixth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday of Service: Pie baking: Volunteer to help with pie prep from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley. To volunteer, email email@example.com or sign up at sweetpotatocomfortpie.org/ volunteer-index-impact. Community conversation: Reserve your free seat for a thoughtful gathering — Sweet Potato Comfort Pie: A Catalyst for Caring and Building Community — from 2–4:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19 at the Brookview Community Center in Golden Valley. See tinyurl.com/comfort-pie-2019 or call 612-865-1787 for more information. Give: Donations can be sent directly to Golden Valley Community Foundation at gvcfoundation.org/make-a-donation. You must specify that the gift is for Sweet Potato Comfort Pie. Learn more at sweetpotatocomfortpie.org.
office in Rochester, Minnesota, remarried and had her son, Adam. There in the cold north, she began thinking about the food she had enjoyed in her childhood. She called her grandmother back in Tennessee and asked for advice on making a sweet potato pie. “There were no recipes, of course,” McGee said. “But she talked me through it.” As years went by, and she traveled across the United States, McGee tasted regional variations in the classic sweet potato pie recipe. Folks in Florida often included a splash of citrus juice. A co-worker who was originally from North Carolina suggested using condensed milk, not evaporated. McGee started adding ginger to her spice mix. “I’ve tinkered with the recipe for many years,” she said. “All that time, I had no idea why, but I believe the dessert was speaking to me long before I ever realized it.”
DEEP ROOTS After moving to Minneapolis, McGee started another “second job” as the owner of Deep Roots Gourmet Desserts,
selling her pies at farmers markets and at Midtown Global Market. By 2014, she was taking a break from the business, which had consumed all her available free time. Senior Companion & Foster Grandparent GA 0619 V6.indd5/21/19 1 “I would get off work and bake all Friday night to be ready for the markets,” she said. But then, in her frustration to “do something” in the wake of troubling events, she connected to a deeper purpose involving the pies, and the idea for the project began to grow. After returning home from Ferguson, she called Golden Valley mayor Shep Harris and told him her idea. He was one of the people who attended the first gathering in McGee’s living room for discussions about what she calls “the power of the pie.” “Rose is a survivor, activist, leader and visionary,” Harris said. “We are at a point in our community in Golden Valley where we’ve been able to build trust between the city and the AfricanAmerican community. We still have a long ways to go, but we’re
Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / 43
44 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
Sweet Potato Comfort Pie 4 medium to large sweet potatoes with skin on, boiled until tender, cooled and peeled 1 cup brown sugar 2 cups granulated sugar 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1�2 cup butter, melted and cooled 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 2 tablespoons vanilla extract 1 cup condensed milk 1 teaspoon lemon extract 2 unbaked pie shells
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⊲ Add melted butter, then add ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla extract, and mix well. ⊲ Stir in milk; then stir in lemon extract. ⊲ Pour filling into pie shells. ⊲ Place pie in oven, immediately reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 60 minutes or until center of pie is firm. ⊲ Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 1 hour before eating and at least 2 hours before packaging.
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⊲ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
⊲ Mix in eggs.
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Makes two (9-inch) pies
⊲ Beat sweet potatoes with brown sugar and granulated sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer.
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off to a good start, and we wouldn’t have gotten to this point but for Rose. She was the convener who built relationships. I’m proud of her, of her strength and courage. She’s a great leader for so many people.” As a community activist, her vision and commitment have been recognized by many organizations. McGee was Golden Valley’s Citizen of the Year, and she has received that city’s Human Rights Award, too. Teresa Martin, a member of the Golden Valley Human Rights Commission, said McGee has a gift for bringing people together from all walks of life to discuss the tough issues around diversity, social justice and how to build strong communities in times of divisiveness. “She throws open the welcome doors and invites people into her life and mission,” Martin said. “I consider myself truly blessed to be her friend and to be a part of the work she is doing for our community.” McGee is going to have an even busier year in 2020. As part of her Bush Fellow-
Longtime baker Rose McGee makes a Sweet Potato Comfort Pie with her granddaughter, Bentley Rose, in her Golden Valley kitchen. Photo courtesy of Rose McGee
ship, McGee plans to travel to several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to listen and learn. She’s written a children’s book, Can’t Nobody Make a Sweet Potato Pie Like Our Mama, which will be published in spring 2021 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. She also hopes to spend some time in Los Angeles, visiting her first grandchild, Bentley Rose, who turns 2 in February. This January, once all the flour has been dusted off the volunteer cooks’ hands, and once the last sliver of pie has been eaten, McGee hopes that members of her community still remember the deeper meaning behind this celebration of Dr. King’s life. “He said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ You see
what is happening every day. Doing nothing is not an option,” McGee said. “Change can be made, one pie at a time.” Julie Kendrick is a contributing writer for many local and national publications. She lives in Minneapolis. Follow her on Twitter @KendrickWorks.
From the community of Golden Valley, Minnesota to wherever you reside May this sweet potato pie soothe and warm your insides. Take time to laugh, cry and remember those you love, but never forget your strength that comes from above. From family to community and community to your heart unity and peace is where comfort and joy start. So today be BLESSED remember to eat, pray and love as you partake in making a diﬀerence, for there is much to be proud of. Enjoy! — Pastor Roslyn Harmon, Circle of Healing Ministries, 2014
Each Sweet Potato Comfort Pie comes with this special poem. Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / 47
•MEMORY CARE •ASSISTED LIVING •INDEPENDENT HOUSING •LONG TERM CARE •NEW CONSTRUCTION AVIDOR IN EDINA Avidor in Edina is a thoughtfully designed community of apartment homes for those 55+ who are entering their next exciting chapter of life. From quality finishes and fixtures, luxurious décor, a la carte options and proximity to 50th and France, Avidor encourages empowered living. Relax and enjoy the lifestyle you’ve earned. Edina • 952-204-5261 avidorliving.com/edina
BOOTH MANOR APARTMENTS Conveniently located across from Loring Park, this 21-story high-rise, with 154 one-bedroom apartments is designed for seniors 62 years of age or better, offering many services and amenities. It also combines the convenience of being near downtown with the serenity of the great outdoors. Minneapolis • 612-338-6313 salvationarmynorth.org/community/ booth-manor
AVIDOR IN MINNETONKA Avidor in Minnetonka is an ideal location close to both Downtown Minneapolis and Lake Minnetonka. Restaurants, shopping and Ridgedale Center are right outside your door. At home, in this premiere 55+ community, you’ll find everything to make your next adventure exceptional. Enjoy extensive amenities, high-end finishes and daily events and activities to keep life interesting and engaging. Minnetonka avidorliving.com/minnetonka
CENTRACARE–ST. BENEDICT’S COMMUNITY Convenience, independence and lifestyle are important aspects when choosing senior living and care options. Whether you want to be free of maintaining a house or need help with everyday tasks, our campuses offer choices for living your best life. Sartell • 320-654-2352 St. Cloud • 320-252-0010 Monticello • 763-295-4051 CentraCare.com
BENEDICTINE LIVING COMMUNITY Benedictine Living Community of Shakopee provides spacious apartment homes for those 55+ who want the amenities and choices to live their best life. With modern décor, great amenities and a beautiful setting that connects to city trails, Benedictine Living Community in Shakopee is for those who are living fully, living well. Shakopee • 952-236-4566 blcshakopee.com
CITY OF SOUTH ST. PAUL, HOUSING DIVISION The City of South St. Paul operates 296 one bedroom public housing apartments for residents aged 50+. Rent is based on 30% of tenant’s income. All utilities paid, on-site caretaker, security, after-hours answering service, community room, resident activities, laundry facilities. Call today for an appointment. South St. Paul • 651-554-3270 firstname.lastname@example.org
48 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
COMMONBOND COMMUNITIES CommonBond builds stable homes, strong futures, and vibrant communities. As the largest nonprofit provider of affordable homes in the Upper Midwest, CommonBond has been building and sustaining homes with services to families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities since 1971. St. Paul • 651-291-1750 commonbond.org/findhousing COVENANT LIVING OF GOLDEN VALLEY Covenant Living of Golden Valley residents and non-residents alike can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with access to our on-site continuum of health care services. At Covenant Living of Golden Valley, we focus on you, your specific needs and personalized care. Golden Valley • 877-473-6903 covlivinggoldenvalley.org EDEN PRAIRIE SENIOR LIVING Our Independent, Assisted and Memory Care living community offers a quality lifestyle in a safe environment. We strive to make residents feel that they are part of the Southview family. Our highlytrained and compassionate staff provide fantastic living arrangements and unbeatable amenities tailored to your evolving needs. Eden Prairie • 651-600-1821 edenprairieseniorliving.com LYNGBLOMSTEN Lyngblomsten is a Christian nonprofit organization serving older adults and their families. A continuum of care offers: independent housing with assisted living services, full range of 24-hour
skilled nursing options including short and longterm care, and community services and resources. St. Paul • 651-646-2941 lyngblomsten.org
NOKOMIS SQUARE COOPERATIVE Nokomis Square Cooperative is a member owned and operated housing and lifestyle choice for individuals 62 plus. We’re situated between Lake Nokomis and Minnehaha Park in South Minneapolis. Concrete and steel construction and experienced maintenance staff provide a carefree, well-kept environment. Minneapolis • 612-721-5077 nokomissquare.com SENIOR COMPANION & FOSTER GRANDPARENT PROGRAMS Foster Grandparents provide one-on-one mentoring a few hours a week to at-risk youth to help them boost their self-esteem and overall success. In this role, you can positively impact the lives of children and youth, find a meaningful way to give back and earn extra income. St. Paul • 651.642.5990 lssmn.org/services/older-adults/ foster-grandparents
Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / 49
CAN’T-MISS CALENDAR NOVEMBER
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER → Roguishly charming Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family fortune, sets out to speed up the line of succession by using a great deal of charm and a dash of murder. When: Through Feb. 15 Where: Old Log Theatre, Excelsior Cost: $30–$40 Info: oldlog.com
→ Critically acclaimed selections at this MSP Film Society event include dramas, documentaries and children’s films from throughout the Western Hemisphere.
→ Join a pancake breakfast fundraiser for this nonprofit art studio in south Minneapolis whose mission is to illuminate youth as leaders while inspiring creativity, courage and collaboration throughout the whole community.
→ These 27th-annual prestigious awards recognize individuals and organizations who strengthen and enrich Minnesota through their commitment to the arts and arts education.
When: Nov. 1–7 Where: St. Anthony Main Theatre, Minneapolis Cost: $6–$12 Info: mspfilm.org
When: Nov. 2 Where: 2235 E. 38th St., Minneapolis Cost: $8–$12 Info: courageous-hearts.org
When: Nov. 7 Where: Ordway Center for Performing Arts, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: ordway.org
SALSA DEL SOUL
→ Former science teacher and accomplished baker Lois Nokleby will explain the “whys” of ingredients and the importance of different steps.
→ This Twin Cities-based, nine-piece orchestra performs various styles of dance music from the Spanish-speaking regions of the Caribbean. All proceeds will go toward a mission trip to Puerto Rico to assist in rebuilding after Hurricane Maria.
→ Aldo Moroni will reveal his latest epic project in progress, a huge mountainscape in miniature with thousands of small-scale ceramic buildings depicting the Mesoamerican experience.
THE CHEMISTRY OF A GOOD CAKE
When: Nov. 2 Where: Norway House, Minneapolis Cost: $25 Info: ingebretsens.com 50 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
When: Nov. 2 Where: Hamline Church, St. Paul Cost: $12 for adults, $5 for ages 6–12, Info: hamlinechurch.org
THE UNVEILING OF M.EX.
When: Nov. 8 Where: California Building, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: tinyurl.com/mex-unveiling
MINNEAPOLIS HOLIDAY BOUTIQUE → More than 300 exhibitors will present the latest styles, trends, jewelry, gifts, children’s items and gourmet foods to an estimated 28,000 shoppers. When: Nov. 8–10 Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis Cost: $8 for ages 55 and older on Nov. 8 only (box office only); otherwise $10 online or $12 at the door; free for ages 12 and younger Info: minneapolisholidayboutique.com
STATEWIDE STAR PARTY → Thousands of Minnesotans at sites across the state will observe the moon and engage in hands-on astronomy activities as part of this inaugural event. When: Nov. 8–11 Where: Minnesota Cost: FREE Info: bellmuseum.umn.edu
IN A STAND OF DYING TREES → Ben and Amanda love their town and their neighbors. When Liam, Ben’s former college friend, comes to town on a campaign to get people to “vote blue,” their idyllic life is threatened. When: Nov. 8–23 Where: Off Leash Art Box, Minneapolis Cost: $20 Info: uprisingtheatreco.com/tickets
CURRENTS → The Minnesota Philharmonic and the One Voice Mixed Chorus will join up to perform Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Symphonic Variations on an African Air, Dvořák’s In Nature’s Realm and Sibelius’ Finlandia, along with works by contemporary composers Dessa and Jocelyn Hagen, Mari Ésabel Valverde and Lee Hoiby. Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / 51
KRIS KRISTOFFERSON →→The famed songwriter’s hits include Me and Bobby McGee, For the Good Times, Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down and Help Me Make It Through the Night. When: Nov. 12 Where: Pantages Theatre, Minneapolis Cost: $68.50–$78.50 Info: hennepintheatretrust.org
When: Nov. 9 Where: O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, St. Paul Cost: $5–$20 Info: mnphil.org
VETERANS DAY SALUTE →→The Minnetonka Civic Orchestra will perform, Bronze Star Medal recipient Maureen Banavige and Vietnam Veteran Gary Nash will speak, and two Minnesota veterans who served in the D-Day Invasion will be honored.
A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS
→→Singer-songwriter and Cities 97 radio personality Keri Noble returns to perform an assortment of songs from her holiday album More Than Santa. When: Nov. 29–30 Where: Chanhassen Dinner Theatres Cost: $40–$55 Info: chanhassendt.com
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When: Nov. 10 Where: Trinity Lutheran Church, Long Lake Cost: FREE Info: trinitylonglake.org
VETERANS DAY →→The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is inviting veterans, families, elected officials and community members
to celebrate and honor all veterans. Free breakfast will be served from 8:30–9:30 a.m., followed by the program at 10 a.m. When: Nov. 11 Where: Veterans Memorial Community Center, Inver Grove Heights Cost: FREE Info: mn.gov/mdva/news/events
NOV. 16–JAN. 12
HOLIDAY TRADITIONS →→In a new exhibit — Time Tested. Tradition Approved. — guest curators representing Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Irish-American guests from Celtic Junction have designed installations reflecting each country’s distinctive holiday traditions during a specific time period. When: Nov. 16–Jan. 12 Where: American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis Cost: Tickets start at $16. Info: asimn.org
MINNESOTA MANDOLIN ORCHESTRA
→→VocalEssence honors the tradition of African-American spirituals as Dr. André Thomas conducts the Midwest premiere of his Mass: A Celebration of Love and Joy, along with traditional spirituals.
→→Enjoy the music of this old world string instrument in a concert of pops, classics and more.
WHAT A MIGHTY GOD
When: Nov. 17 Where: St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Mahtomedi Cost: $10–$40 Info: vocalessence.org
HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE →→Enjoy cider and Somali coffee, locally made treats, hundreds of clay pots for sale and free hands-on clay activities. When: Nov. 17 Where: Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: northernclaycenter.org
When: Nov. 17 Where: Landmark Center, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: landmarkcenter.org
NOV. 20–DEC. 29
MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY →→In this return of the Jungle’s huge 2017 hit, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice characters reunite at the Darcy home for the holidays. When: Nov. 20–Dec. 29 Where: Jungle Theater, Minneapolis Cost: $40–$50 Info: jungletheater.org
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10/14/19 2:48 Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / PM 53
NOV. 29–DEC. 1
→→The wives of Henry VIII join forces for a pop-concert spectacle, reclaiming their identities out of the shadow of their infamous spouse and remixing 500 years of historical heartbreak. When: Nov. 29–Dec. 1 Where: Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St. Paul
Cost: $40.50–$81.50 Info: ordway.org
→→Experience the choral music of Finland, Estonia and Latvia, born from a difficult history of occupation and oppression, courtesy of CorVoce, a nonprofit auditioned, volunteer, community chamber choir.
→→Celebrate National Square Dance Day with square dancing, contra dancing, circle dances as well as other forms of social dancing. Beginners are highly encouraged to attend.
→→The cast of A Prairie Home Companion reunites for a Christmas show about coming together during these politically divisive times.
BRIDGES OF SONG
When: Nov. 23–24 Where: Nov. 23: St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, Roseville; Nov. 24: Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church (Mindekirken), Minneapolis Cost: Free, but donations are encouraged. Info: spvf.net
A LANDMARK HOEDOWN
When: Nov. 24 Where: Landmark Center, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: landmarkcenter.org
GARRISON KEILLOR’S PRAIRIE HOME CHRISTMAS SHOW
When: Nov. 30 Where: Pantages Theatre, Minneapolis Cost: $46–$66 Info: hennepintheatretrust.org
Find more events at mngoodage.com/ cant-miss-calendar.
54 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
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Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / 55
Brain teasers SUDOKU
WORD SEARCH A Finger in Every Pie
BANANA BOYSENBERRY BUMBLEBERRY CARDAMOM CHOCOLATE CINNAMON COCONUT
Clue: M = E ’
X L M
Y Q M
Q O K ’ X
? Y M U I M G X ?
G W X
O X S A
Q K X J
. H M Z P M O .
M O M
WORD SCRAMBLE Complete the following words using each given letter once.
, G J K X U J R ,
S K Z
K M B M U
. Y S K Q G .
56 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
3. March 14 or 3/14, since pi’s first
Source: Martha Stewart
Break the code to reveal a quote from a famous person. Each letter represents another letter.
POTATO PUMPKIN RASPBERRY RHUBARB SHOOFLY SHEPHERDS WHOOPIE
TRIVIA 1. Waitress 2. Betty’s Pies digits are 3.14
CORNMEAL CRANBERRY CRUMBLE CUSTARD GRAHAM MERINGUE NUTMEG
WORD SCRAMBLE Cherry, Peanut, Mousse
Easy As Pie CRYTPOGRAM So the pie isn’t perfect? Cut it into wedges. Stay in control, and never panic.
1. What 2007 film, which was adapted into a stage musical in 2016, stars Keri Russell as a creator of pies? 2. An episode of Man Vs. Food featured what North Shore mainstay for its “Pig’s Trough Challenge,” a 3-pound platter of homemade pie with ice cream and toppings? 3. On what date do some people celebrate Pi Day as an occasion for eating pie?
Sources: imdb.com, wikipedia.org, foodreference.com
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Minnesota Good Age / November 2019 / 57
67 Police car warning 68 Scratches (out)
1 Craftsy website 5 Regarding 10 Like a bug in a rug 14 “I understand now” 15 Crime boss John known as “The Teflon Don” 16 Letter before kappa 17 Spaghetti sauce brand 18 Composer Ned 19 Inside look at a hospital? 20 Sheepless nursery rhyme character 23 Clod chopper 24 Letter after kappa 28 Usain Bolt race pace 31 Bric-a-__ 33 Tokyo dough 34 Irish allegiance shout 36 British sports car, familiarly 58 / November 2019 / Minnesota Good Age
37 Cold and damp 38 Many millennia 39 Auditioner’s goal 40 Over-easy item 41 End of a proverb embodied by three monkeys 45 Regret 46 __ legs: rear pair 47 Twins Ashley and Mary-Kate 48 Episodic story 50 WWII female 51 “Why are you laughing?” 58 Apple’s virtual assistant 61 Refill, as a partly drunk drink 62 Actress Falco 63 Day to beware 64 Make used (to) 65 Spy __ Hari 66 Milne’s “The House at __ Corner”
1 Jimmy Carter’s middle name 2 Bangkok native 3 USAF NCO 4 Sarcastic “Could that be more obvious?” 5 Go along with 6 __ tube: TV 7 Mexican “other” 8 Sch. near the Rio Grande 9 Streaming delay 10 Typical dinner hr. 11 Country with fjords: Abbr. 12 Actress Hagen 13 Carefree 21 Like 1,225-page “War and Peace” 22 Apiece 25 Quaint exclamation 26 Add (a player) to the poker game 27 Mike Trout’s team 28 Passover meals 29 Czech capital city 30 Dead __: look-alike 31 __-shouldered 32 Captain, e.g. 35 “Where have you __?” 39 2004-2011 TV series about firefighters 41 Ousted Iranian leader 42 Core exercise system 43 Sign on a new store 44 Norwegian saint 49 “If only” 52 Author Morrison 53 Egg on 54 “No prob” 55 Minn. neighbor 56 Nick at __ 57 Nays’ opposites 58 Drink sampling 59 Altar affirmative 60 Rock’s __ Speedwagon