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February 2011

50+ Living

Unexpected love Donald and Ann Rudy find wedded bliss late in life

Special section: Snowbirds fly south Rollie and Verna Jensen soak up the rays in Arizona Jim and Roberta Swenson spice up winter with Tex-Mex living

Last Word Floyd Groehler lays to rest career as cemetery supervisor

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16 Health and happiness As the song goes, “Love is in the air. Everywhere I look around.” It is in the shop windows, lining the shelves of every store. There are shades of pink and red as far as the eye can see. It must be February and Valentine’s Day must be near. Valentine’s Day, that holiday of affection and confection is one of my favorites. For me cupid’s holiday is a great celebration of love and not just the romantic kind of love. While Valentine’s Day flourished in the royal courts of the Middle Ages with the likes of Geoffery Chaucer spouting the rules of courtly love. In modern times, the day has come to be associated with more platonic gestures. I can remember

February 2011 Vol. 1 No. 12


Opinion: VA has some new ideas


COVER STORY: Unexpected love


Out and About: Senior center a social hub


Travel: King Tut exhibit opens at science museum


Comfort Foods: A Valentine’s Day meal


Comfort Foods: Serve up a spicy slice


SPECIAL SECTION: Snowbirds fly south


Feature Story: Jensens soak up the Arizona rays


Feature Story: Swensons spicy winter in Texas


Money: Maximize your benefits


Money: Prepaid cards pose risks


Wellness: Oatmeal is heart healthy


Wellness: Tips to lower triglycerides


Medicare Answers: Changes to drug copays




Last Word: Floyd Groehler lays career to rest

decorating my Valentine’s Card box in elementary school where my classmates would drop in the tiny cards and candy. Teachers and parents also received greetings and sweets aplenty at this time of year. The celebration of the important people in life should not be restricted to lovers, but to all those that warm out hearts. In this issue of Zest, we have lovebirds and snowbirds. Donald and Ann Rudy were pleasantly surprised when they met and fell in love two years ago. After a Christmas wedding, the couple settled in Glencoe and began life as husband and wife. Together they enjoy classical music, dining out and taking care of each other. Robins are not the only birds to

fly south for the winter. In Minnesota, plenty of retirees, like Rollie and Verna Jensen, and Jim and Roberta Swenson, turn into snowbirds, trading snow for sunshine. The Jensens spend their winter in Mesa, Ariz., while the Swensons chose Wesloco, Texas. As always, I welcome your feedback and ideas. You can reach me via email at or by sending a letter to Hutchinson Leader, 36 Washington Ave. W., Hutchinson, MN 55350 or Litchfield Independent Review 217 N. Sibley, Litchfield, MN 55355. All the best! Katie Winter

ZEST / February 2011 3


VA has some new ideas by Freddy Grovesy Recent news releases from the Department of Veterans Affairs describe three new pilot programs. It looks like the VA is heading in the right direction. First: A test program has been started to reduce the time it takes to gather veterans’ medical records from civilian doctors. In this plan, a private contractor will get the records from the doctor, scan them and then send the records to the VA via the Internet. Theoretically, the contractor can get the records in seven to 10 days, while it takes the VA 40 days. Each veteran

will need to sign a release for the civilian doctor to release those records. Next up: Your own personalized benefits handbook. In another pilot program, the VA is experimenting with giving each enrolled veteran his or her own customized benefits handbook. The books will have only the information you need about your benefits, and won’t include anything that you don’t get. Included will be a list of ways to contact your local medical facility, scheduling appointments and what your responsibilities are. Only two locations are getting the handbooks now, with the rest of the coun-


try to be covered by fall 2011. And then: In two pilot programs, the VA will try to speed benefits checks to disabled veterans. One program, Express Lane, has the staff at one regional office broken into teams to focus on claims for one disability, theoretically zipping through them quickly, while other teams work on the complex claims for more than one disability. In the other program, Quick Pay, veterans who have sent the VA all the info it needs to process a claim will see their checks much faster. Freddy Groves writes the Veterans Post for King Features Weekly Service

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Colorful Cheese Board Set This set has a porcelain tile center and wood perimeter and includes a cutting and serving knife. The tile features a blue Scandinavian design motif by Sonja Anderson. The board is from Bergquist Imports of Clouqet, MN. $19.95 Gift shop proceeds help pay for facility and resident improvement projects. Available at the Emmaus Place Gift Shop 218 N. Holcombe Ave., Litchfield 320-373-6625


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South American Coffee From the San Lucas Mission in Guatemala. Parishioners grow the coffee trees, pick and roast the beans. This coffee is a rich blend available in regular and dark roast. Proceeds from coffee sales go to help the San Lucas Mission, which has paid for an orphanage, medical clinic, school and works to make people self-sufficient. $7 per bag Available at the St. Philip’s Parish Office 306 N. Holcombe Ave., Litchfield 320-693-3313 Or, St. Philip’s Catholic Church 821 E. Fifth St., Litchfield

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Cover Story


Ann and Donald Rudy are all smiles after exchanging vows in December 2008. In their late 70s, both were amazed to be in love and getting married.

Unexpected love Glencoe couple finds wedded bliss later in life 6 ZEST / February 2011

Cover Story By Katie Winter


all it fate, call it destiny, call it kismet, but just don’t call it expected.

Never in their wildest dreams did Donald and Ann Rudy think love would visit them again. But it did and the couple has been happily married now for two years. Ann, 75, said she was not looking for a husband, but apparently the Lord was busy searching for her. “Never in all my days did I think I would ever marry again,” Ann said. “Its just amazing that God had a plan. We didn’t know about it but it all worked out.” Donald, who celebrated his 80th birthday in December, likes to resort to clichés when describing the pairing. “We’re a match made in heaven,” he said with a grin.

to be his wife. “I knew she was expecting a proposal,” Donald said. “So I got down on my knee and asked her to marry me. I did it before breakfast. I knew she would say yes. I could tell.” Next the couple began planning a Christmas wedding. “We decided to get married in December because that’s when all the kids and everybody (could be there),” Ann said. When Donald and Ann married each other, they were also marrying each other’s families. Ann has five grown children and a gaggle of grandkids, while Donald has a daughter and a son and a few granddaughters. Breaking the news of their nuptials to their families was slightly daunting for Donald and Ann, but they need not have worried. Everyone in their now large combined family was thrilled for the couple.

The courtship This is the second marriage for Donald and Ann. Both had been widowed for some years before fates’ grand plan brought them together with the help of a simple Christmas card. “It was three years ago,” Donald recalled. “In a Christmas card I wrote to my cousin in Colorado, I casually mentioned that I was kind of lonely. She called me back after she the card and said, ‘Don I have a dear friend out here I’d love for you to meet.’” That friend was Ann, who had known Donald’s cousin Cheryl for 12 years. Throughout their friendship, Ann had heard many times of the virtues of Cheryl’s mysterious relative in Minnesota. “She said to me one day, ‘you need to meet my cousin,’” Ann said. “I said ‘no, no, I’m not going there.’ She kept saying you need to meet Don. So finally at Christmas that year I said ‘Oh bring him on.’” At Christmas 2007, Cheryl kicked her matchmaking efforts into high gear by sharing Ann’s email address with Donald. He sent her a message almost immediately. In it he described his deeply spiritual life, his work as a missionary doctor in Africa and his affection for classical music. After reading his words, Ann was smitten. “He sent this very interesting email to me,” Ann said. “I thought I’d just answer back. That got to be everyday. I would write at night. He would answer me back the next morning. It was a wonderful way to get to know somebody.” Their “electronic romance,” as Donald dubbed it, continued for nearly four months before they met in person for the first time in Colorado. Their first impressions of each other only solidify the affection they already felt for one another. Ann said Donald’s smile was the first thing to grab her attention, while Donald said he liked what he saw.

Wedding day From there, the couple’s relationship progressed rapidly and on a September morning in 2008 Donald asked Ann


Ann and Donald Rudy enjoy married life in Donald’s Glencoe home.The couple likes going out for dinner and listening to classical music. ZEST / February 2011 7

Cover Story The wedding was a grand affair with 300 guests filling the Episcopal church Ann belonged to in Boulder. Ann’s teenage granddaughter was maid of honor and Donald’s son Mark served as best man. The couple’s grandchildren also took turns reading prayers and scripture passages during the ceremony, which made it extra special for Donald and Ann. “I wasn’t nervous,” Donald said. “I knew she was a good fit.” “I wasn’t so nervous about it,” Ann said. “I was glad we had finally gotten there.” After a vow renewal ceremony in Glencoe a couple weeks later, the Rudys honeymooned in Florida, though they say they do not entirely embrace the honeymoon idea. “We’re still on our honeymoon,” Donald said. “Everyday is a honeymoon with her.” “You don’t need to take a trip somewhere to feel like you are on honeymoon,” Ann added.

Married life Like all newlyweds, they're getting used to their new life together, but Donald and Ann have acquired a wealth of sage advice for a successful marriage that has eased the transition. The Rudys believe respect and sensitivity are musts in any relationship. “I think you have to be completely unselfish,” Ann said. “You have to do more for the other person than you think they are doing for you and it comes back to you ten fold. Be honest with each other and certainly have a good sense of humor.” Humor is not lacking in the Rudys’ marriage. “Some people have said you should get up every morning and tell your wife ‘I’m sorry,’” Donald said with a laugh. “But I think it’s respecting your spouse and trying to share everything. Communication is important.” Besides enjoying tennis, walking and reading together, the couple are planning a trip to Africa this fall. They will visit friends Donald made while serving there as a missionary. The couple is looking forward to the adventure and anything else life has in store for their future as husband and wife. “She’s my partner, my lover and my wife,” Donald said. “And I depend on her more and more.” “He is very loving and very caring,” Ann said. “He just makes me feel good. We’re just both so lucky and thank God everyday for it.”


Donald and Ann Rudy had their wedding ceremony in the Episcopal church Ann attended in Boulder, Colo.

“We’re still on our honeymoon. Everyday is a honeymoon with her.” – Donald Rudy speaking about his new bride,Ann.

8 ZEST / February 2011


King Tut exhibit opens soon at science museum

Tickets for Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs range from $16 to $30 (ticket price includes admission to the King Tut exhibition and the Science Museum’s permanent exhibit galleries). Detailed ticket information, including packages and pricing, is available at Proceeds from the tour will go toward antiquities preservation and conservation efforts in Egypt, including the construction of a new grand museum in Cairo. Visitors may purchase tickets online at, via phone at 651-221-9444 or in person at the muesum box office.

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At 16,000 square feet, Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs will be the largest exhibition in Science Museum history. Featuring more than 100 stunning artifacts from the tomb of the celebrated Boy King and other notable ancient sites, the exhibition will give Science Museum visitors a glimpse inside the ancient Egypt they learned about in school, exploring the mystery and intrigue of this fascinating time period. Visitors will witness the splendor of the pharaohs, learn about their function in both the earthly and divine worlds, and discover how they prepared for the afterlife. The exhibition’s final galleries are dedicated to King Tut’s famous tomb, including an area devoted to its discovery by British explorer Howard Carter in 1922.



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Ticket information

This shabti, or funerary figure, of King Tut was found in the antechamber to his tomb.


The Science Museum of Minnesota has officially launched ticket sales for the upcoming Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs exhibition, opening Feb. 18. With more than 100 authentic artifacts from the tomb of the celebrated pharaoh and other notable ancient sites, the exhibition will be the largest in the Science Museum’s history and represents the first time King Tut’s treasures have visited the region. “From The Dead Sea Scrolls to the Body Worlds exhibit, the Science Museum has a history of bringing world class exhibits to Saint Paul, and having our city be the first in the Upper Midwest to host the Tutankhamun exhibition continues that trend,” said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “The King Tut exhibition presents a landmark opportunity to experience some of the world’s most phenomenal treasures without having to trek across the globe,” said Mike Day, senior vice president of the Science Museum of Minnesota.

ZEST / February 2011 9

Out and about

Senior center a social hub Do you enjoy a game of Rummikub and a steaming cup of coffee? Does an afternoon of friendly conversation and a slice of cake sound like a treat? Then the Dassel Senior Center is the place to be from 24 p.m. every Wednesday. The Dassel Senior Citizens meet weekly at 215 Atlantic Ave. W. for refreshments, visiting and games. New members and visitors of all ages are always welcome. The group especially encourages men to stop by for a round of pool. On a typical afternoon, 25 or more seniors are huddled around tables playing Skip Bo, dominos and Rummikub. Sometimes staff members from Dassel city hall and nearby businesses are there for a chat. With the center’s homey and inviting atmosphere, complete with green plants in the window, it is no wonder why many of the group keep coming back. Officers of the Dassel Senior Citizens are co-chair Steve Nolan, secretary Marva Nolan and treasurer Joan Benson. Joan Benson lays down a card as Sylvia Jorgenson waits for her turn during a game of Skip Bo on Jan. 12 at the Dassel Senior Center. STAFF PHOTOS BY KATIE WINTER


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Out and about

(Left) A group of women share a laugh over coffee and cake during a regular Wednesday meeting of the Dassel Senior Citizens. (Above) Wyaneta Timm, Diane Olson and Irene Walstrom study their tiles during a game of Rummikub. It is just one of the activities members of the Dassel Senior Citizens enjoy doing together.

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Comfort Foods

A Valentine’s Day meal Dipped Strawberries From Family Features Ingredients: • 24 strawberries, rinsed and patted dry • 1 bar (8 ounces) Nestlé Chocolatier 62 percent Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar, broken into sections • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening Instructions: 1. Line baking sheet with wax paper. 2. Microwave chocolate and shortening in medium, uncovered bowl on high power for one minute. 3. Stir. Pieces may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10-to-15-second intervals, stirring until smooth. 4. Hold each strawberry by stem or with wooden pick and dip into melted chocolate; shake off excess. Place on prepared baking sheet; refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.

Double Olive Antipasto Salad From Family Features Ingredients: • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

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• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar • 1 clove garlic, minced • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper • 3 ounces smoked mozzarella or Gouda cheese, diced • 2 ounces Genoa salami, diced • 1/2 cup Lindsay Manzanilla Stuffed Olives, halved • 1/2 cup Lindsay Pitted Black Ripe Olives, halved • 1/3 cup drained giardiniera or diced cherry peppers • 1/2 cup garlic croutons • 4 cups baby spinach Instructions: 1. In large bowl, combine oil, vinegar, garlic and pepper; mix well. 2. Add cheese, salami, both olives and giardiniera, tossing to coat. Cover; chill at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. Add croutons to olive mixture, tossing to coat. Arrange spinach leaves on serving plates; top with salad.

Braised Chicken w/tomatoes and peppers From Kitchen Diva Ingredients: • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil • 1 cut-up whole chicken (3 to 3 1/2 pounds), skin removed • 1/4 teaspoon coarse (kosher or sea) salt • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper • 1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped • 1 medium yellow or green bell pepper, cut into bite-size strips • 2 medium jalapeño chilies, seeded, finely chopped • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro • 2 teaspoons mild or hot chili powder • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin • 2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained • 1/2 cup chicken broth • Hot cooked rice or couscous, if desired • Lime wedges, if desired Instructions: 1. In deep 12-inch skillet or 5-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces to skillet; cook 5 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally, until chicken is light golden brown. Remove chicken from skillet; set aside. 2. In same skillet, add onion, garlic, bell pepper and 1 chopped chili, 1 tablespoon of the cilantro, the chili powder and the cumin. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in the tomatoes and the broth, until well mixed. 3. Return chicken to skillet; spoon sauce over chicken. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes, turning chicken once, until juice of chicken is clear when thickest piece is cut to bone (170 F for breasts; 180 F for thighs and drumsticks). 4. Serve in shallow bowls over rice; sprinkle with remaining cilantro and jalapeno pepper. Serve with lime wedges. Makes 4 servings.

Comfort Foods

Serve up a spicy slice Buffalo Chicken Pizzas

3. With slotted spoon, spoon mixture over dough rectangles to within 1/4 inch of edges. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. 4. Bake 13 to 16 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown. Makes 4 pizzas.

Ingredients: • Olive oil • 1 can (13.8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped (1/2 cup) • 3 tablespoons red pepper sauce • 1 cup diced plum (Roma) tomatoes (3 medium) • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (4 oz)

This tasty pizza recipe was a finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest in 2000.

Preparation 1. Heat oven to 425°F. Lightly coat cookie sheet with olive oil. Unroll dough; with sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into 4 rectangles. Place rectangles on cookie sheet; press each into 6x5-inch rectangle. 2. In 10-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken, onion and pepper sauce; cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes.


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Boomers turn to online dating Older adults are turning more frequently to Internet dating to find a new significant other. After losing a loved one or completing a divorce, many baby boomers are considering getting back into the dating pool. Internet dating sites often provide a good number of candidates for busy people to consider. In busy times filled with work responsibilities and family obligations, logging on to the computer to find a date can be much easier than finding a date in a social setting. Twenty-two percent of the registered members of are over the age

of 50. There’s a good chance that other popular dating sites also have a growing number of older participants as well. There are also dating sites geared to the over-50 crowd to make narrowing down prospects even easier. Finding oneself in midlife and looking for a date or new mate is actually quite common. Thousands of people are in the same situation. In a September 2003 study of singles age 55plus, AARP discovered that 49 percent said of respondents cited, “Having someone to talk to or do things with” as the most important reason for dating. Seniors dating can have

Baby boomers are taking up online dating. a unique set of challenges in comparison to younger


daters. These include: • Habits from years of living single. • Added baggage from divorce. • Older children who may not be keen to their parents dating again. • Elderly parents who need care. • Physical appearance woes, such as wrinkles and extra weight. • Medical issues that are embarrassing or serious. • Self-esteem issues from being out of the dating loop. Baby boomers now represent more than a quarter of the population, and many are being spurred on by children to look into online dating.



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Special: Snowbirds

Landing on the perfect perch Snowbirds flock down south where the weather is warm and fun awaits


he holiday season is over and winter has secured a firm grip on Minnesota, making summer days of strolling in the sunshine or fishing on the lake seem farther away than ever. But some clever Minnesotans have latched on to the right idea – instead of waiting for the warm weather to come to them, they went out and found it for themselves. This process is lovingly coined “the snowbird migration.” Every year millions of retirees from the Midwest, New England and Canada flock to the southern United States for the best weather months of the winter. When it’s snowing and blowing with wind chills in the single digits in Minnesota, snowbirds are taking in the warm, dry desert air of Arizona, where temperatures are a pleasant 80 degrees. While there is an upside to being a snowbird, it also requires some advanced planning and research beyond just having the mail forwarded.

Snowbirds in training need to choose a primary state of residence, where they will live for more than six months. This will be the state they vote in, pay taxes to and be considered a full time resident. Next, they need to decide whether to buy a second home, rent a condo or live in an RV. And what about retirement communities? Are they an option worth exploring? All this and more is important to consider before spreading wings and flying south. To make it all a bit more manageable, here are a few resources to peruse: • – From retirement issues and real estate to aging and health issues. It’s all on this site. • – Online source of information to help you plan your winter stay in Florida. • – the website of the Canadian Snowbird Association is full of top tips.

ZEST / February 2011 15

Special: Snowbirds


Rollie and Verna Jensen help organize Hutchinson Days in Mesa, a monthly gathering of Hutchinson residents who spend all or part of the winter in Arizona. Pictured are (sitting) Verna Jensen, Peg Tapper, Audrey Roskammer, Joyce Johnson, (standing) Rollie Jensen, Fred Schmidt, Nancy Coles, Don Coles, Marilyn Schmidt, Fritz Schmeling, Dorothy Schmeling, Marlys Lindgren, Hank Lindgren,Willy Johnson, Gordie Tapper and Dick Roskammer.

Winter in the sun Rollie and Verna Jensen soak up the rays in Arizona 16 ZEST / February 2011

Special: Snowbirds By Katie Winter


hen most Minnesotans are cranking up the thermostat, others are stuffing shorts and swimsuits into suitcases for their annual trek south where the weather is warm and sunny. The annual migration of snowbirds is here once again. The flocking of older Minnesotans to warmer climes is a tradition for many. The residents who find the snow and cold of the Midwest unbearable scamper away via plane, train, car or even campervan. Rollie and Verna Jensen chose an automotive form of transportation to journey to Mesa, Ariz., and their winter home. Outside their window is a grand evergreen tree, festively adorned with lights during the holiday season, but instead of a blanket of snow covering its roots, it’s a scattering of rocks. Such is the difference between Minnesota and Arizona winters. And such is the way the Jensens like it. “It’s the climate we’re out here for,” Rollie said. “There are a lot of things to see out here. The mountains are always fun and the desert. Plus the fact that there’s good places to walk around out here in the wintertime rather than in the snow.” Snowbirds, as they’re commonly called, spend the colder months in warmer, southern states. For many local snowbirds, that usually means Florida, Texas or Arizona. Whether they fly, drive or take their RV, they’re heading south. While warmer temperatures and a reprieve from snow shoveling are commonly the No. 1 reasons for the migration, they don’t hold all the appeal. Arizona’s dry climate was a balm for the Jensens aging bodies. “Verna has arthritis,” Rollie said. “The dry climate out here is much better for arthritic people. It’s much easier for her in the wintertime.” The warmer climate also contains salves for other ailments. For instance, sunlight and warm temperatures have been linked to happiness. Sunlight also is good for arthritis, asthma and even memory. The cold, snowy weather of the Midwest is also prime breeding ground for cabin fever. As the winter drags on, more and more people find it difficult to enjoy outdoor activities or even use the car, leading to in some cases, isolation and depression. Having the freedom to do the things they like to do is one of the reasons Rollie and Verna became snowbirds when they retired in 1991. At the end of October, the Jensens make the trip from Hutchinson to Mesa, and they typically stay until the first or second week in April. “Verna’s mother used to come out here because one of her daughters lived here,” Rollie said. “We used to visit her. From that we developed a relationship (with Arizona) that we enjoy coming out to.” During the first year they rented a house. By the next year, they bought a place of their own. It’s an in-ground doublewide trailer surrounded by stark landscaping that is the trademark of the desert environment. From fruit trees to cacti, the Jensens have adapted to gardening in

the desert. “The roses grow real well here.” Rollie said. “We’ve got a dozen roses that just finished their blooming cycle and they’re growing again. Then we have three citrus trees – an Arizona Sweets, a grapefruit and then a navel orange. They’re ripe now. We can eat them for about three months. That’s kind of fun.” Instead of grass, their lawn is made up of rocks, and the plants are all self-sufficient. This equals less maintenance for the Jensens and frees up their time for other activities. “We enjoy the activities out here,” Rollie said. “The week starts with church, of course. About once a week we play bingo. We golf once a week. And then we get together and play cards with friends.” And on the second Thursday of the month, December through March, they meet up with fellow Hutchinson snowbirds at what has become called Hutchinson Day in Mesa. The group meets at an Old Country Buffet restaurant for coffee and a breakfast buffet and, of course, a good bout of conversation and socializing. “Hutch Days is for anyone that’s been from Hutch or

Rollie and Verna Jensen love the warm, dry climate of Arizona and the unique plants, like cacti, roses and fruit trees, that grow there. ZEST / February 2011 17

Special: Snowbirds around Hutch,” Rollie said. “That program got started in 1982. We have as many as 100 people there in February. We have coffee hour at 8 a.m. and then we have a buffet at 8:30 a.m. Then we just visit.” And what are the topics of discussions? “Mostly our aches and pains,” Rollie said with a laugh. “What we enjoy about it is some of the folks that come here we don’t get the chance to see all summer long at home. So it’s fun that they come out here.” The Jensens started off as attendees of the monthly gathering before assuming the role of leading and coordinating the get-togethers five years ago. For more information about Hutchinson Days in Mesa, call Rollie at 480-380-3229. The restaurant’s address is 6625 E. Southern Ave., Mesa, Ariz. Rollie and Verna had heard much about Arizona from friends and ended up falling in love with Mesa. During those days, Mesa was still a relatively small city with a population of only around 25,000. Now 20 years later the city just 20 miles east of Phoenix has a population of 300,000. “It’s grown so much.” Rollie said. “Where we live we used to go a couple blocks and then we could walk in the desert, but now that’s all built up. Now we have schools, post offices and Walgreens.” Over the years, the Jensens have become adept at

making the yearly transition between Minnesota and Arizona. So much so that they pack very little into their car when they set off in October. “We’ve kind of duplicated everything here we have back in Minnesota,” Rollie said. “So when we drive out, we don’t hardly have our car plumb full because we have so much duplicated.” The Jensens also have adjusted their holiday celebrations to accommodate their winter living arrangements. In recent years, the family has gathered for Christmas during the summer months. Other years relatives have traveled to Arizona at Christmas time. Rollie said an Arizona Christmas does not look dissimilar to one in Minnesota. “Even though we don’t have snow, people decorate a lot out here for Christmas,” Rollie said. “There are lights and snowmen. And up in the Superstition Mountains, which are about 10 miles away, we see snow a couple times during the winter. So that gives us the atmosphere here.” Rollie and Verna have no plans to give up that atmosphere anytime soon. In fact sometimes the couple marvel at their good fortune to be able to spend so much time in a place they love. “It’s surprising how it’s worked,” Rollie said. “We count our blessings that’s for sure.”

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A golden sunset and luscious palm trees make Rollie and Verna Jensen forget all about the snow and cold in wintry Minnesota.

Special: Snowbirds

Holiday on the border Swensons spice up winter with Tex-Mex living STAFF PHOTO BY KATIE WINTER

Jim and Roberta Swenson spend much of the winter in Weslaco,Texas, a small town near the U.S.-Mexico border.

By Katie Winter


ot wishing to spend anymore time than is necessary enduring the Minnesota winter, Jim and Roberta Swenson have packed their bags and flown the coop. Like thousands of other snowbirds, the Swensons will land in southern climes, where the weather is warm and the sun is shining. Litchfield residents, Jim and Roberta have built their

nest in the Siesta Retirement Village in Weslaco, Texas. And coincidentally so have other Minnesota couples. “Our street that we live on pretty much people call it Minnesota street,” Jim said. “Two houses down from us are from Pelican Rapids. Two houses up, they’re from Moorhead. The gal across the street from us used to live in Willmar. We have another former Litchfieldite who lives in our park, Ed Meyer. He used to be a school teacher. He gives carving classes down there. There’s a lot of Minnesota, a lot of Wisconsin and a lot of Canada.”

ZEST / February 2011 19

Special: Snowbirds If really there is no place like home, then for the Swensons their winter home is the next best thing. The couple have found a slice of Minnesota nice in southeast Texas, complete with many comforts of home. On Wednesdays, the Minnesota connection stretches 16 miles west to a Shoney’s restaurant in McAllen, where the Swensons lunch with other Litchfield residents who winter in Texas. A lot of the time their conversations have a distinctly Minnesota flavor. “How’d your corn do this year?” Jim said is a popular question in conversation. “It’s really funny. We enjoy it very much.” The Swensons settled in the Siesta Retirement Village during the fall of 2004. They had visited Roberta’s cousin, a village resident, the previous year and fell in love with the pristine and well-planned community. With its multitude of services – including a community center, fitness center, pool, craft room and woodworking shop – village residents have no problem keeping active. “It is so nice there,“ Roberta said. “We just liked the neatness of the village. They’ve got woodworking. They have quilting, a library and fitness room.” But do not get the impression that Jim and Roberta never venture beyond the perimeters of their Texas village. They have an adventurous spirit that often carries them across the U.S. border into the small Mexican town of Nuevo Progreso. The popular border town draws streams of snowbirds with its low prices on food and prescription medications. The cafés and people so characteristic of the Mexican culture grabbed the Swensons’ attention almost immediately. They spend many afternoons walking the town’s

streets, browsing peddlers’ wares and soaking up the atmosphere. “It’s just a nice place to go, and we enjoy going over there,” Jim said. “There’s a little bakery where we’ll go have coffee and a fresh roll. They do a wonderful job.” In recent months, though, snowbirds have grown more apprehensive of crossing the border into the violence-riddled country. As rival drug cartels continue to wage war against each other and the Mexican government, violence has spread eastward. In the fall of 2010, the U.S. issued warnings against unnecessary travel to Tamaulipas, the Mexican state that borders Texas, including Nuevo Progreso. The Swensons are aware of the risks. The armed officers and heavy artillery stationed at the border remind Jim and Roberta of the need for caution and alertness each time they visit Nuevo Progreso. “It is a little unnerving to see the guys with their guns,” Roberta said, “but they tell you why they’re there and you feel safe.” The Swensons are not typical snowbirds. Their southern migration does not last from late fall until early spring. Instead the couple take a handful of mini trips each winter, which allows Jim to maintain his post as a Meeker County commissioner. As such, Jim is required to attend a certain number of meetings. So to have the best of both worlds, Jim and Roberta spend most of November in Texas. December passes in Minnesota. January brings a return flight to Texas, while February, March and April are spent alternatively in Litchfield and Weslaco. Jim said he makes an effort to keep up on county business while in Texas.


Jim and Roberta Swenson own a trailer in the Siesta Retirement Village in Weslaco,Texas, where they live on the same street as many other Minnesotans. 20 ZEST / February 2011

Special: Snowbirds Jim and Roberta Swenson spend much of their time down south in the Mexican border town of Nuevo Progreso.They usually stop at a cafe for coffee and then browse the wares street peddlers are selling.


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“I keep in touch,” Jim said. “I call back quite often and we take the laptop so I can e-mail back and forth. I work down there on certain things that come up.” The spirit of community permeates throughout the various retirement villages in southeast Texas. At times Jim and Roberta have been right in the thick of it. The couple enjoy visiting other retirement parks, where fundraising breakfasts are often held. A few community newspapers are published in the area specifically for snowbirds and the Swensons often page through them to keep up on the latest happenings. “They have two newspapers that get plopped down on a table at the back of the community halls at all of the (retirement villages),” Roberta said. “You go through that to see when there’s a Minnesota get-together or a 3M get-together. There is always something somewhere.” Texas is not recognized as a hub for live music without good reason, as the Swensons have discovered. The pair often attend musical performances at a local high school, where the talent of the students impressed Jim and Roberta. “It is just unreal, the talent,” Jim said. “They’ll have a mariachi band up there playing. Last year we went to one (performance) and there were three harps on stage and all three were played by three young men. They’re good. It was wonderful.” A popular slogan is that everything is bigger in Texas. Well, that is certainly true of the amount of activities Jim and Roberta have found themselves enjoying in the Lone Star State. Whether it’s trips to the beach, golfing, card playing or shopping the Swensons rarely stand still.” “If you’re bored down there, it’s nobody’s fault but your own,” Roberta said.

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Maximize your benefits Thinking of retiring? After a lifetime of hard work and income tax, you probably want to get the most out of your Social Security dollars. Fortunately, social security is flexible enough to accommodate different circumstances. And knowing your different options is the first step to finding what plan will work best. What to consider The first step you’ll need to take in order to make an informed decision is to find out how much money you’ll receive in a couple of different scenarios. Your benefits will vary not only according to your age and salary, but also depending on whether you start collecting early, collect while working, receive spousal payments, or suspend your payments until you’re 70. You also want to consider your overall health and other retirement or pension plans you have. To learn

about the different options available to you, visit the Social Security Administration at and use the online calculator. Collecting early tactics While the full retirement age for most Americans is 67, most are eligible to start collecting early at age 62. And while you can continue working while collecting, your benefits may be reduced by up to 30 percent. Some of your benefits can be withheld if you have extra earnings, but after you reach the full retirement age, the SSA will recalculate your benefit amount to give you credit for any months for which you did not receive benefits. In this tough economy, collecting early may be a desirable option for seniors unable to find work but still able and willing to work in the future. Double team delay

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Not so. Prepaid cards can come with: purchase fees, activation fees, minimum deposit fees, card-replacement fees, withdrawal fees, ATM inquiry fees, cancellation fees, monthly fees, reload fees, annual fees, PIN fees and even fees to talk to customer service. Prepaid cards generally put a temporary lock on your funds when used at a gas station or for hotels, denying you access to your own money. Some of the prepaid cards even include a line of credit or overdraft protection. If you don’t keep careful track of the associated fees, you can spend more than you expect and incur debt. There’s also no credit reporting with prepaid cards, which means they can’t be used to build up a credit history. Instead of paying fees to use your own money, open a bank account and use the debit card that comes with it.

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Oatmeal is heart healthy Oatmeal isn’t just a delicious, filling and energy-boosting breakfast food. When eaten on a regular basis, oatmeal can offer marked improvements in health, say experts. Oatmeal, as many people know, is formed from the oat grain. Oats have a hard outer hull, which often is removed during processing. Different oatmeal varieties, whether rolled oats, slow-cooking, instant, etc., are formed from processing the grain in a variety of ways. An oat that has had its hull removed is then known as an oat groat. These can be cooked and enjoyed without any other processing. Rolled oats, or the old-fashioned “oatmeal” that is widely known and found in food stores, are oat groats that have been steamed, rolled and flaked so they cook quickly. Oatmeal is one of the few grain products that is truly whole grain because the bran and germ have not been removed. That’s just one of the many reasons to make oatmeal a part of a healthy diet. • There have been numerous studies to show that oatmeal helps improve heart health by reducing cholesterol. As of 1997, the FDA has said that oatmeal manufacturers can promote oatmeal’s heart-healthy attributes right on the product label. Oatmeal’s soluble fiber helps remove bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body.

• Oatmeal may help reduce type 2 diabetes risk. The soluble fiber can help maintain proper blood-glucose levels. • It may help with diets and weight-loss initiatives. Oatmeal absorbs water, which means it can make a person feel fuller longer. This, in turn, prevents overeating. Starting the day with a bowl of oatmeal may mean less snacking between meals. • Oatmeal is a good source of protein, complex carbohydrates and iron. • Again, thanks to its soluble fiber, oatmeal may help reduce blood pressure. • Plain rolled oats contain only one ingredient – oats – making them an all-natural food source. • Oatmeal can be used in muffins, cookies and breads to make it a versatile ingredient for any meal. • Depending on the variety, oatmeal can be prepared in a minute in the microwave or within 10 to 15 minutes when cooked on the stovetop. • There is research indicating that the nutrients in oatmeal may help reduce cancer risk. Oatmeal is a healthy food that can be enjoyed quickly any time of the day. It’s assorted health benefits make it a worthy addition to anyone’s daily diet.


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Tips to lower triglycerides triglycerides, as does immoderate alcohol drinking. Omega-3 fatty acids lower them. Fish – a good source of omega-3 fatty acids – therefore, ought to be a major part of two weekly meals. If you don’t like the taste of fish, you can take omega-3 in pills. I know people must cringe when they hear exercise mentioned, as it appears to be a panacea for every ill. A half-hour of brisk walking on most days of the week reliably lowers triglycerides. You can start more modestly, and work your way to the 30-minute goal. If none of these lowers

your triglycerides, medicines can. Lopid, Tricor and niacin are three reliable drugs. – By Paul G. Donohue, M.D.

Avoid fried foods, which contain triglycerides, artery clogging fats.

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Answer: Triglycerides are fats. The marbling in meat and the stuff that surrounds a cut of meat are triglycerides. In the blood, they are not solids. They’re a source of energy for body cells. Excess amounts are stored as fat. Cholesterol gets all the blame for clogging heart arteries and causing heart

attacks. But triglycerides bear part of the blame. A very high blood triglyceride level inflames the pancreas – pancreatitis. That happens, but is a somewhat rare event compared with other causes of pancreatitis. The normal triglyceride reading should be less than 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L). Values between 150 and 199 (1.7 to 2.2) are considered borderline high. Anything above 500 (5.6) is very high. Weight reduction almost always brings down triglycerides. Fatty foods, fatty meats and fried foods should be eaten sparingly. Surprisingly, sugar raises

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Dear Dr. Donohue: What are triglycerides? What do they do to you? I am a 55-year-old male in good health, or so I thought. My lab tests have shown I have elevated triglycerides. How do I get my level down?

ZEST / February 2011 25

Medicare Answers

Be informed of changes to Medicare drug copays Dear Marci, My Medicare drug copays and coinsurances usually change each year. How much will I pay for my drugs in 2011? — Eric Dear Eric, The Medicare prescription drug benefit is called Part D. Most Part D plans have a fee that you must pay each month to be in the plan. This is called a premium. If your yearly income is above $85,000 ($170,000 for couples) you’ll pay a higher premium. There are four coverage periods in most Part D plans. You pay a different amount for your drugs in each coverage period. Which period you’re in depends on how much you and your plan have spent on drugs since the start of the year. The first coverage period is called the deductible period. During this period, you pay the full cost of your drugs until you meet your deductible. The deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before the plan covers any of your drugs. It varies by plan, but it can’t be more than $310 in 2011 for a Part D plan. The second period is the initial coverage period. You reach the initial coverage period once you’ve paid your deductible. In this period, drug costs are shared between you and your plan. Your plan pays part of the cost of your drugs and you pay a copayment or coinsurance. How much you pay depends on your plan. In 2011, this period ends when you and your plan together have spent approximately $2,840 on drugs. If you and your plan spend $2,840 on drugs, you will reach the third coverage period. This period is called the coverage gap or the doughnut hole. Your plan pays nothing for your drugs during this period. However, the coverage gap is being phased out over the next few years as a part of health reform. Another change is that you will no longer pay the full cost of your drugs during the coverage gap. Drug manufacturers and the government will pay part of the cost of your drugs during the gap. In 2011, you will only have to pay 50 percent of the cost of brand name drugs and 93 percent of the cost of generic drugs when you are in the gap. The percentage you pay will get smaller each year until the gap is phased out in 2020. At that time you will pay no more than 25 percent of the costs of your drugs. The last coverage period is called catastrophic coverage. You reach this period when you and your plan have spent $6,448 on drugs since the start of the year. In the catastrophic coverage period, your drug costs go

26 ZEST / February 2011

down a lot. You pay either 5 percent of the cost of the drug or $6.30 for brand-name drugs and $2.50 for generics, whichever is greater. People in the Extra Help program have different costs throughout the year. There are many programs that can help you save money on drugs. Some of these programs include Extra Help, State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs and charities. Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs is a resource that can help you find safe and effective drugs that are also the best value for your money. — Marci

Many programs can help you save money on drugs. Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs is a resource that can help you find the best value for your money.

Medicare Answers

Medicare adds free services Did you know you can now get some free services from Medicare? With the health-care reform laws, you’re now eligible to get certain types of free preventive care, starting in 2011. These include: • Annual vaccinations, such as flu and pneumonia shots • Pap tests and pelvic exams every two years • Nutrition help if you have kidney problems or diabetes • Cholesterol blood checks every five years • Bone density tests for osteoporosis every two years • Mammograms once a year • Prostate exams and PSA test every year • Diabetes checks twice a year • Colonoscopy and screenings at varying times However, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, check to be sure you’re covered on free screenings. Read the fine print. If you hit the prescription cost “doughnut hole” in 2010,

you’ll have a 50 percent discount on name-brand drugs in 2011. If you need medical equipment, changes have been made there, too. Medicare now puts all contracts for medical equipment out for bid. If you have the original Medicare, you’ll likely have to get your medical equipment and supplies, such as oxygen, from an approved supplier. If your current supplier is not in the program, the only way your equipment will be paid for is if that supplier signs up. Beware while traveling: If you don’t use an approved supplier, you’ll pay full price. If you don’t have the Medicare handbook that was sent to you last October, look online at for the “Medicare & You 2011 Handbook.” You'll find it right on the front screen to read or download. Look for the blue apple symbols in the handbook to see preventive-care items. The site also has ZIP code directory for equipment suppliers. For more information, call Medicare at 800-6334227.

ZEST / February 2011 27


KING CROSSWORD ACROSS 1 Peculiar 4 Bikini half 7 Poet Angelou 11 Satirical comic Sahl 13 “– the ramparts ...” 14 Mid-month date 15 Celebrity 16 Witty one 17 Last year's frosh 18 Skewered entree 20 Mineral hardness scale name 22 Apprehend 24 Toy (with) 28 Sheriff 32 Did a cobbler’s job 33 Composer Khachaturian 34 Catch some rays 36 Require 37 Stiff 39 Lustrous, in a way 41 Meryl Streep’s alma mater 43 Hawaiian garland

28 ZEST / February 2011

44 46 50 53 55 56 57 58 59 60 61

Overly confident Fake drake New Zealand bird Bow the head Coffee Reverberate Raw rock Mideast sultanate Night light? Fresh Wapiti

DOWN 1 Siberian city 2 Be too fond 3 Colorless 4 Violinist's need 5 Paper quantity 6 Shop talk 7 City in Orange County, Calif. 8 Commotion 9 “Uh-huh” 10 Blond shade 12 Message 19 “Hum-bug!”

21 23 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 35 38 40 42 45 47 48 49 50 51 52 54

Storefront sign abbr. Cudgel Run off Ogler's look Vortex Sportscaster Albert Met melody “Before,” in an Alger story – Vegas Zero Weir Started Talk nonstop Former veep Arrived Elliptical Tug hard Trivia maven Jennings Lemieux milieu Which person Morning moisture

All answers on page 31

All answers on page 31

“The mail’s here!” The happiest day of the month is when delivery of the fresh, new issue of ZEST arrives in mailboxes and on newsstands. Home delivery subscriptions are available for $18 per year. Subscribers to the Independent Review or Leader can receive ZEST for only $10 per year.



Subscribe to ZEST Name ____________________________________________ Address __________________________________________ City ____________________State ______Zip____________ Mail this form and your $18 or $10 check to ZEST ZEST OR 36 Washington Ave. W. P.O. Box 921 TO Hutchinson, MN 55350 Litchfield, MN 55355

ZEST / February 2011 29

Last Word

Groehler lays to rest career as cemetery supervisor By Terry Davis In his more than 34 years as a city of Hutchinson employee, Floyd Groehler has met countless hundreds, if not thousands, of families at their most trying moment — following the death of a loved one. Groehler, supervisor of city-owned Oakland Cemetery, retired at the end of December. He brought to a close a public career that started in January 1977 with his hiring by the Parks Department. A year later, he transferred to the cemetery where he worked under then-supervisor Ed Ondracek. He trained as a replacement for Ondracek, who retired about two years later. Since then, Groehler has handled about 2,600 of the total 6,900 burials the cemetery has had since its founding in 1857. That meant helping people in their time of sorrow. “You almost have to take ownership of (the job) to do a good job,” Groehler said. “It is rewarding when you are able to help a family. It is a difficult time for them, especially when it is an unexpected death or that of a child. “We deal with them all,” he continued. “They all get the same treatment. We treat them all with respect.”

Changing times Oakland Cemetery in the late 1970s lacked electricity and operated out of a cluster of small buildings. Expansion took place in the late 1990s when the city collaborated with Dobratz-Hantge Funeral Chapel to add a chapel. About 15 years ago, the cemetery put up its first columbarium as cremations gained in popularity. This year, 47 percent of burials have been cremations. The American Legion donated flag poles erected in that area at the northeast corner of the cemetery. “The city has done a very good job allowing the cemetery to become what it is,” he said. “The cemetery business is a weird business. You have to plan for 100 years and once you start something you can’t change things because you can’t move people. “When I started, this was a corn field,” he said pointing to the west side of the cemetery. “And they baled hay to the south where Greencastle is now.”

Origins Groehler takes his “ownership” comment to heart. He knows the history of the cemetery. It was founded in September 1857 when the mother of a young boy asked city leaders to establish a cemetery so her 4-year-old wouldn’t have to be buried out on the prairie. Mention a relative buried in the cemetery and he likely knows where they are buried. If not, he can consult the cemetery’s computer data base to locate the grave. The

30 ZEST / February 2011


After 33 years of working as supervisor at Oakland Cemetery, Floyd Groehler retired on Dec. 30. information includes some burial permits, which were required until a few decades ago. “I get requests from all over the country for genealogy information,” he said. “Yesterday, I looked up information on a family who will have a burial here. Three relatives here died in the 1918-19 flu.”

The future Groehler will have time to do what he wants, when he wants. That could include a little travel and spending more time at his lake home. It will be an adjustment for him, too, he said. He leaves with a recommendation for everyone. “I’ve written my own obituary and I always encourage preplanning (of funerals),” Groehler said. “Talk about (death). It is going to happen to everyone. That’s a huge help to the survivors so they have an idea of what the person wanted.”

Puzzle Answers

Burley Fireplace & Spa

In the Hu tchinson M all 1060 Hwy . 15 Hutchinso n, MN 553 50 Phone: 320 -292-9947 tim@burley www.burley

N02639 Z

Cork board ng Advertisi 4-4171 (320) 23 r p er owriv sales@cr

inter Katie WReporter

172 0) 234-4 6 or (32 or 6 2 et 3 .n 3 w e 9 entrevi (320) 6 om independ nleader.c winter@ so in ch t hu winter@

MAKE YOUR BUSINESS STAND OUT! If you would like to advertise your business here, please contact Shari Forsman, Advertising Representative at 320-234-4171 or e-mail N02643 Z


orsmatinve Shari FRep resenta

ZEST / February 2011 31

Joint pain? Take the first step toward

restoring your active lifestyle.

Attend a FREE Seminar on “Managing Your Joint Pain” with leading orthopaedic surgeons Dr. Gordon Walker and Dr. Jay Barry. Learn more about: • Causes of knee and hip pain • Total joint replacement • Treatment options

Thursday, Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m. Hutchinson Event Center Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to (320) 234-5081. Space is limited.

320.234.5081 •


32 ZEST / February 2011

zest Feb 2011  

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