Former area photographer seeks help in saving historic lodge/hostel
Erik Barstow, left, one of this area's most well-known photographers, has returned to Polk County after his business on the east coast was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Rattle River Lodge and Hostel sits on the Appalachian Trail, against the backdrop of the Carter-Moriah Mountain Range in New Hampshire and is gateway to the Presidential Range of the White Mountains. Built in 1877, this renovated New England colonial home on 7.4 acres does not lack for services, amenities, or modernity, while still keeping its original charm. – Photos provided
NEW HAMPSHIRE/POLK COUNTY - Erik Barstow, one of this area's most well-known photographers and a former Marine, has returned to Polk County after his business on the east coast was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Being home and quarantining has been different this time, as Barstow is used to visiting friends and family.
In the spring of 2014 he decided to invest in a hostel Bed and Breakfast, naming it the Rattle River Lodge & Hostel in Shelburne, New Hampshire, located on the Appalachian Trail.
Barstow, a St. Croix Falls native whose photography was featured in the pages of the Leader for years, said he is hoping to get some help through the SBA Disaster Relief but the process has been slow and that money is mostly intended for retaining employees with not much help towards day-to-day operations.
In addition to the Covid-19 crisis, there is a 50-year-old stream that splits off the Rattle River into Barstow’s backyard that fills a pond that guests know and love. The infrastructure that controls the amount of water to the stream is destroyed due to previous storms causing advanced erosion. The state approved a limited use permit (with zero funding) to allow Barstow to add some protections to keep the water from flooding the hostel but he was relying on this year’s profit to build a protective barrier to help with future flooding.
To cover the operating costs, insurance, taxes and create proper protection barriers, the estimated cost is currently hovering around $25,000. Due to the extenuating circumstances, we are all facing in the current climate, he won’t be able to come up with the funds required to perform these necessary repairs. With the financial means required, we will be able to hire the right people and obtain the right equipment and materials to protect the hostel. The rest of the funds will go to keeping the lights on until he is able to resume normal operations.
"I am humbled by your continuing love and support, and feel reluctant to reach out during these challenging times. I know as a community we will emerge strong and keep Rattle River alive for all the future campfires and memories,” said Barstow.
To donate, please visit
SCF K-9 program leaps ahead
St. Croix Falls Police Officer Patrick Mariakas and their new K-9 officer, Ikar. – Photos courtesy of Kirk Anderson
ST. CROIX FALLS – The effort to start a K-9 officer program at the St. Croix Falls Police Department has moved to the next level in recent weeks. The department has an officer partnered with a 2-year-old German shepherd from Czechoslovakia, and the two have started training that will last a total of three months.
In a press release Monday, April 6, the SCFPD introduced their new K-9 officer, Ikar, who is being partnered with SCFPD Officer Patrick Mariakas.
“K-9 Officer Ikar will be utilized for narcotics, criminal apprehension, officer safety calls, search and rescue, and tracking. Ikar will be a great asset to the police department, citizens and the surrounding communities near St. Croix Falls,” they stated.
In an effort going back over a year, the SCFPD and supporters have committed to private fundraising for the K-9 program, outside of taxpayer expense, including long-term veterinary and food maintenance, and even securing the purchase of a specialized canine-specific SUV, all without creating a burden on taxpayers.
“All funds to date have been raised through the generosity of donors through the St. Croix Fall Police K-9 Association, some grants and special gifts,” the release noted. “To date, we have raised approximately $40,000 of the $50,000 goal. We will continue to raise additional funds that we need to be fully funded.”
According to the release, they are still needing to up-fit the SUV for Ikar’s service, including the installation of a specialized two-section rear seat apparatus and caging, keeping the dog safe but allowing prisoner transport, at an approximate cost of $2,600.
Other up-fitting in the works includes installation of a special $500 heat-sensing system for cooling fans on hot days, at $500. They are also working to have a so-called “bailout system” built in for $300, allowing the dog to be released remotely in an emergency or if the compartment gets dangerously hot.
The SUV requires other canine-specific upgrades, which they are hoping to cover with donations, hopefully even from outside the city, as the department is among the busiest municipal police departments in the area, being a border city with two major highways and a several big-box stores.
“The city continues to see a rise in drug arrests and related offenses. Our proximity to the Twin Cities serves as a pipeline for illegal drugs to the St. Croix Falls area. Those offenders are responsible for narcotics reaching our city and the surrounding area,” SCFPD Chief Erin Murphy wrote in his appeal for a K-9 program. “With the addition of a certified dual-purpose K-9, we can continue to make St. Croix Falls a safer place to live and raise a family.”
Officer Mariakas and Ikar will be training for several months but plan on being out and about, meeting the public this summer at events and for pictures.
Donations to the SCFPD K-9 program are tax deductible and can be made at St. Croix Falls Police K-9 Association Inc., 710 St. Hwy 35, St. Croix Falls, WI 54024. Online donations can be made through a special St. Croix Falls Police Association K-9 website,, where you can follow the K-9 program and Mariakas’ and Ikar’s progress.
Unity Elementary School receives School of Recognition Award
BALSAM LAKE - Unity Elementary was recognized in the ‘Beating the Odds’ category due to the school’s high performance in reading and mathematics when compared to similarly-sized schools, classes and student numbers living in poverty across the state.
Ranking in the top 25% of all schools in the state with high poverty levels was quite an accomplishment, but one which staff, families and students should not be surprised about.
The bottom line at Unity, according to Dr. William DeWitt, elementary school principal, is that “a student’s background, family income level, or other challenges, has absolutely no bearing on their success in our school.” According to DeWitt, this is because Unity Elementary’s educational program is intentionally designed to support every student that enters the doors and helps them reach their maximum potential.
Some of the areas of the Unity Model which DeWitt believes have helped the school not only win this award but also score in the ‘Exceeds Expectations’ category on the state report card from last year, include:
• Small class sizes: Each class is less than 18 students, which promotes a closer community, and more personalized attention.
• Integrated social and emotional learning: Unity delivers a school-wide social/emotional curriculum each morning through in-class ‘morning meetings,’ along with a variety of other supports to students such as; school counseling services, social worker, school-based therapy services, nursing services, and small group friendship, art, music and physical education experiences.
• Common expectations: All students are taught to know the common expectations throughout the school, which are positively rewarded and reinforced daily.
• First class title 1 and special education reading and mathematics support services: Any student struggling is quickly identified and supported through intensified services delivered by a variety of instructors.
• Common intervention times: Grade level instructors intervene with struggling students at a common time daily to help all students reach their potential.
• Clear, aligned curriculum and assessments: All students are provided access to curriculum aligned to state standards, grade level power standards, common grade-level assessments and district-wide, standards-aligned standardized assessments.
• Exciting and relevant experiences: Kids are excited to be at school and have fun at Unity - from library services, music instruction, art classes, physical education, free swimming lessons, access to an incredible campus complete with a nature trail, updated playground, greenhouses, athletic facilities and more.
While seeing the school receive such a fantastic award is certainly exciting for everyone, DeWitt thinks what means even more to the staff is having the special privilege of connecting with each child daily, making positive relationships with them and their families, and seeing them smile when they come to our school.
Something that, right now he says, is sorely missed by teachers across the state with the school closures.
The teachers are working hard to get special learning activities and plans in parent’s hands during this time away, but we are really looking forward to the time we get to see all the children’s smiling faces come walking back through the school doors again and help all of them ‘beat the odds’ and gain the recognition and achievement they deserve.
Newly created website offers fun, hands-on learning activities to do at home
SIREN - As always, Extension and 4-H want to support youth and families with fun, hands-on learning that helps young people build life skills like critical thinking, problem-solving and decision making. World events are making things more challenging right now. But we don’t let that stop us!
Extension educators from around the state created a handy list of easy-to-access activities and curriculum, The page is organized by grade level and is chock full of Extension and 4-H resources as well as high quality, fun, learning activities from a range of other sources.
As you would expect, we focused as much as possible on experiential learning and fun. Then, to save you time, energy and unnecessary worry, we: 
Filtered out many activities with hard-to-find supplies and those that needed a lot of adult supervision to be safe.
Included activities that encouraged some kind of safe social connection and/or involved getting youth out of the chair and moving.
Included high quality, inclusive and accessible resources for all ages, including parents, caregivers and families.
Check out the link to see what’s there now. Bookmark it to check back for new resources added later.
Fun, Hands-On Learning At Home:
Any questions? Contact Beth Rank, Burnett County positive youth development extension educator, at 715-349-2151 or [email protected]
St. Croix Valley Foundation announces music grant awards
NORTHWEST WISCONSIN - This fall the St. Croix Valley Foundation awarded $32,327 to 16 schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota through its Music Education grants program, including Frederic, $645 for keyboard project in elementary school and $2,100 for instrument repair, refurbishment and replacement in the middle and high schools; Siren, 3,570 for instrument replacement for band program; Osceola, $4,241 for "Barry is an Old Man!" production; and Taylors Falls, Minn., $2,000 for artist in residence and the ukelele program.
“Music has shown to have a positive impact on student learning, self-discipline, thinking skills and creative abilities,” remarked Kris Tjornehoj, chair of SCVF’s Music Education grant panel. “And there is a pressing need to provide resources that sustain and enhance music programs in our schools – whether to repair and replace aging instruments pieced together with wire and duct-tape, to give students exposure to world-class musicians, or to extend loaner instruments to students when their family’s financial resources are limited.
Music Education grants are given annually each December. They are made possible by a donor whose gift established an endowment fund. The donor, herself once a teacher, wished to give the gift of music to students of all ages, from pre-school through high school.
The SCVF provides donors with the opportunity to create or add to Valley Impact Funds for causes that are closest to their hearts. The Foundation has funds addressing a variety of causes including music education, the arts, health and wellness, the environment and animals. The advantage of these funds is their mission is unchanging yet they remain current and flexible. We cannot guess tomorrow’s issues or know which organizations can best address those issues at that time. However, through Valley Impact Funds and the competitive grants programs, the SCVF places grant dollars in the most capable hands at the right time, in perpetuity.
Visit for additional information on grant guidelines and eligibility.
Free online educational programming offered by the International Wolf Center
Free WolfLink programs, webinars, storytimes and reading resources are part of the efforts undertaken by the Center, which will remain closed through April
STATEWIDE - Additional free educational programming about wolves is being offered by the International Wolf Center. These programs come as more students from across the United States find themselves at home instead of the classroom to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Efforts include free webinars, complete lists of resources and even morning preschool storytimes on Facebook Live.
“We know there’s great demand for opportunities to learn from home,” said the Center’s Executive Director, Grant Spickelmier. “We’re excited we can step up to help. It’s because of our support from members and donors across the world that we’re able to offer these programs at no charge.”
The programs are vital to the Center’s efforts to spread science-based wolf information during the current pandemic. The Center’s location in Ely, Minnesota, will remain closed to the public until at least May 1 in accordance with recommendations from the state’s governor.
The Center will continue to monitor the situation and will post updates to its website at
“Our staff is eager to keep teaching the world about wolves, even as our facility in Ely is closed,” Spickelmier said.

Free STEM Tuesday WolfLinks
Among the new initiatives the Center is participating in are free STEM Tuesday WolfLink programs. These are offered in partnership with the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration.
The online programs are free for all students in grades K-6. The first webinar is at 9 a.m. central time on April 7. The second is at 11:45 a.m. central time on April 14.
To register for these free STEM webinars, watch the Center’s website at

Friday pack update webinar
After a successful launch last week, the International Wolf Center will be offering another free Wolf Care webinar this Friday at 9 a.m. Central Time and every Friday this spring. To view this week’s webinar, use this link: A free download of Zoom software may be required. These webinars feature updates on the Center’s pack of ambassador wolves.

Books and videos list
Want your kids to stop playing video games for a while? The Center’s outreach department compiled a complete list of age-appropriate videos and books. That list can be found on the Center’s website at Included are publicly available videos on PBS and YouTube, plus book recommendations for preschoolers, elementary school students and middle school students through adults.

Wolf storytime
For our youngest pack members - the Center’s education staff will be holding a weekly preschool storytime featuring an appropriate wolf book. These broadcasts will be held on Mondays at 10 a.m. Central Time with the first one on Monday, March 30. These will be shown on the Center’s Facebook page through Facebook Live. That page can be found here:

Closing update
The International Wolf Center’s location in Ely, Minnesota, will remain closed until at least May 1 in accordance with recommendations from the state’s governor. The Center will continue to monitor the situation and will post updates to its website.

How can you help?
Additional programming efforts such as these come with considerable expense. While the Center takes on these efforts, it is doing so as its interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota, which is closed to the public because of the coronavirus. The interpretive center accounts for a significant share of the Center’s revenue every year and its indefinite closing presents a unique challenge.
“We are looking for additional supporters to join us now as we continue to push out free programming to those who need it,” Spickelmier said. “We need our whole pack working together to face these challenges.”
To make a one-time donation, or a recurring gift,
Membership in the Center is also available and includes a number of benefits, including an annual subscription to International Wolf magazine. To learn more about membership, visit
The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit
DAWC introduces two new veterinarians

BURNETT COUNTY - The Domestic Animal Wellness Center and Wildlife Rescue, Inc. is excited to introduce two new veterinarians. Drs. Brittney Nelson and Lisa Wolff have been added to the staff. Nelson is the center’s full-time lead vet and director. Wolff is part-time working one to two days a week.
With the addition of Nelson, the non-profit small animal and wildlife clinic will be including added equine services. Dr. Wolff has expertise in dental and is a surgeon. DAWC continues to provide full-service professional grooming too.
Nelson grew up in a small town in northwestern Illinois and received her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University. Following veterinary school, she worked in a mixed animal practice before moving to the Spooner area. When she is not working, Nelson enjoys running with her border collie, riding horses, and reading.
According to board president, Theresa Goiffon, “We are now poised for consistency, growth and the ability to serve many more patients as well as additional types of animals in our community. We wish to thank the staff for their hard work, board treasurer Dave Alden for his dedication to the clinic and the community for their continued support during the staff transition.”
t the country. They hired a variety of relief veterinarians serve their clients and keep their doors open.
Following the retirement of lead veterinarian and director Dr. Sue Johnson in 2018, the clinic actively searched and contacted over 700 veterinarian candidates throughout the country. They hired a variety of relief veterinarians serve their clients and keep their doors open.
It was a stressful time for the board, the staff and the lack of stability was not the way they wanted to serve their clients. As a result, the clinic has been working hard to get back on track and is grateful for the support of their banker, Kyle Johansen of Frandsen Bank in Luck. They are also grateful to the public for their financial contributions and those that participate in the weekly meat raffles at the Tavern on Main.
Established in November of 2012 in Frederic, DAWC is a non-profit veterinary now located just north of Siren along the Hwy. 35/70 corridor. They are open weekdays and will include limited Saturday hours this summer.
The clinic has provided quality veterinary services to over 3,500 animals and actively serve over 1,800 clients. Also, they have helped over 125 wildlife animals in need.
An open house celebration will be held later this spring. For additional information about DAWC, Inc. mission visit them on Facebook or at their website - Becky Strabel
Birkie 'Warriors' have local connection
A Frederic graduate and members of his family were named the winners of the 2020 Birkie Warriors & Inga Contest and took part in the 46th-annual American Birkebeiner ski race this past weekend in Hayward. David Kettula, a 1974 graduate of Frederic High School, now of International Falls, Minn., his daughter, Tasha Pinckney, grandson Caelan Pinckney and son-in-law Vergil Pinckney, all of Rochester, Minn., portrayed Skjervald, Inga, Prince Haakon and Torstein, respectively, as the Birkebeiner legacy was brought to life. In addition to skiing the entire 55-kilometer Birkie Classic race, the trio of adults picked up baby Caelan, portraying Prince Haakon, at the American Birkebeiner International Bridge and carried him across the finish line on Hayward’s Main Street to signify the safe delivery of Prince Haakon to Trondheim, Norway. The contest winners were carefully selected by judges who know exactly what it takes to ski the 55-kilometer Birkie Classic Trail on wooden skis and in full period costume. Each year, the contest judges are none other than the previous year’s contest winners. Each group who enters the Warriors & Inga Contest is required to submit an essay outlining their skiing abilities and why they should be selected as the next “Birkie Royalty.” Together, the Kettula/Pinckney trio has a long history of Birkie Week participation and a definite case of Birkie fever! The 2020 Slumberland American Birkebeiner will be the 30th Birkie for Kettula (Skjervald). When he lined up on the start line 30 years ago, it was the very first ski race he’d ever participated in and he hasn’t missed a Birkie race since. “We were all together when I received the email that said we made it. We all let out a Birkie yell. It is a once-in-a-lifetime honor,” stated Kettula. Kettula’s daughter, Tasha Pinckney (Inga), has an equally impressive Birkie track record, skiing her 10th Birkie in 2020. Pinckney has also skied two Kortelopet races, along with four Junior Birkie and 10 Barnebirkie races. “When I found out we won, I couldn’t stop smiling,” Pinckney recalled. “I started thinking about training on wooden skis, what costumes we would wear, and when the elite skiers might pass us! I’ve been skiing since I could walk and am so excited to portray Inga for my 10th Birkie and cross the finish line with my son,” she continued. Tasha’s husband, Vergil Pinckney (Torstein), did not grow up as a cross-country skier, but it didn’t take long for him to catch Birkie fever after meeting Tasha; 2020 will be Vergil’s second Birkie. - Photos courtesy American Birkbeiner
giveBIG helps nonprofits raise more funds
giveBIG St. Croix Valley, an online fundraiser, returns on April 28 for its seventh year. While giveBIG St. Croix Valley all happens in 24 hours, investments will have a long-lasting impact in our communities. In the past seven years in the St. Croix Valley region, giveBIG has raised more than $1.7 million for over 130 nonprofits. “giveBIG St. Croix Valley is focused on more than just the 24 hours of giving,” says director Sara Haase, “Strong communities are created by individuals empowering one another. giveBIG St. Croix Valley gives each individual the chance to become a hero within our community by supporting their favorite causes. What is so unique about giveBIG is the dollars raised in those 24 hours stay here in the St. Croix Valley, directly impacting the very communities we live and work in.” This year giveBIG is excited to announce it is expanding to include nonprofits in Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties. Ann Searles, director of United Way, says, “We encourage everyone to give what they can. All donations are a big gift to our community. Any individual or business may donate. If you are a qualified nonprofit and are looking for ways to expand your reach and raise more dollars in 2020 then giveBIG is for you. Registration is open at If you have questions about how you can become involved in this amazing community event, or on registration or company sponsorship opportunities, please contact Haase at [email protected] - Special graphic
Tiger Tech open house opens doors
Tiger Tech: Click here for my page.
Frederic Arts announces Hand Building Clay Pots course
FREDERIC – Frederic Arts is pleased to announce a second Hand Building Clay Pots class with local potter Christy Wetzig.
Catch the excitement! The Frederic Art Center has a new pottery kiln, so they eagerly invite you to join their inaugural pottery classes! Participants will be using slabs of clay to learn several methods of forming three-dimensional forms. Patterns will be available if you need a kickstart on your creativity, otherwise the sky (and the kiln) is the limit. They'll spend the first two evenings forming pots and the last time they will finish them with simple glazes. Learn the pottery process from beginning to end and bring home an armful of pots.
The class begins Monday, March 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m. and runs for three weeks. Cost is $75, due to Frederic Arts at, and includes all materials. Class is limited to eight students. For questions, contact [email protected]
All skill levels are welcome. Children under 12 welcome with one accompanying adult per child.
When Hollywood collided with the Apple River
The dam site became a regional entertainment mecca. - Photo provided
There is nothing remaining of the many activities, structures or the three dams over history that used to exist on what is now called the Woodley property, a block of county-owned parcels currently preparing to be sold in an online auction, or not, but that’s a different story, noted elsewhere.
The Woodley property has fallen under many names over the last century, most notably of late as the old Country Dam, which locals still recall as a multibar, restaurant and nightclub with a wild and occasionally famous resume – even including a taste of Hollywood which will be clarified later – since James Woodley first opened on New Years’ Eve in 1961. There is more on that side of the history in a moment. The real story started with the Apple River.
The dam proper
The actual dam was among the last “grandfathered” configurations of its type in the region, a rare, privately owned hydroelectric dam. Until its removal and creek restoration in 2009, the Woodley Dam was among a handful of dams that predated some of the most basic regulations, including escaping the purview of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, which arguably was a thorn in the side of the state for many years.
While the records are sketchy beyond ownership, it was thought that dam removed a decade ago was the third such earthen dam at or near the site since 1934, when a local man named Fred Riddler started the business as Riddlers’ Mill. The entrepreneurial Riddler created a hydroelectric facility a short time later and also built a so-called cabana building near the dam for use as a wood sawmill, grain exchange and mill, and later as a general store of sorts.
According to a variety of historical sources and past interviews, Riddler took advantage of poor local roadways and relied on farmers who weren't up for long trips to the Twin Cities or places to sell their commodities. He also didn't mind working on weekends. With that move, Riddler was the only option for Saturday grain sales, and he reportedly influenced the Chicago Board of Trade and Minneapolis Grain Exchange prices for the opening bell on Mondays for several years. So that little stretch of the Apple River was an important cog in world commodity prices for a brief blip in time.
But it wasn't just commodities that were addressed over the 80 years the dam(s) supplied power for what later became a large and diverse operation, with plenty of juice to spare for neighbors.
The Woodley era
James Woodley had bought the property from Riddler in 1960 and opened it in grandiose fashion a short time later. Under Woodley, the old Country Dam became a mecca of entertainment and options, located on the busy corner of CTH H and Hwy. 8 between Balsam Lake and Amery. The property was a haven for travelers and locals alike as car camping and road touring grew in popularity. He offered everything from camping to a neighboring motel, with meals for couples, dates, receptions or families, and recreational options that included tubing down the dam, swimming, live music, an outdoor amphitheater across the river, as well as a first for the area in a petting zoo and numerous winter activities, including snowmobiles.
Polk County took possession of the entire property in 2002 in a settlement over Woodley’s back taxes after years of lawsuits, appeals and controversy. They razed the remaining, blighted and delinquent portions of the original buildings, with the only remaining evidence of the history being the dam proper, which was removed in 2009 after years of delay due to legal issues and challenges. The riverway was restored to its current state, which looks nothing like it appeared when Riddler, and later Woodley, would turn the impounded water into a lake with two private picnic islands, named after Woodley’s young daughters.
But in its heyday, the last hydro dam was a multifunction earthen structure, a sort of Swiss Army knife of water impoundment. The dam was not only used to impound a several-acre pond at the head, but it also provided a picturesque waterwheel using the Apple River as a powerhead. The snowmobile trailhead across the dam top literally opened the door to the machines in the area and was part of the history that led to construction of the current bridge to replace the razed dam and river crossing.
A unique site
The snowmobile trail and river crossing, on top of the growing popularity of the dam site as a sort of snowmobile crossroads and for trails and entertainment, led to a little-known asterisk in history for the Woodley site.
That dedicated Apple River snowmobile trail crossing was still unique 50 years ago, especially one with the supporting venue of the old Country Dam, where riders had options for food, drink, gas, lodging, music and more. Public snowmobile trails were still new to the world, and the growing popularity of the sport collided on the front door of the old Country Dam, which became known as one of the biggest music venues between Milwaukee and Minneapolis. It featured big name stars from rock ‘n’ roll, country and many other types of music, from Dolly Parton to the Trashmen, Bobby Vee and countless other local, regional and national acts.
The dam site became synonymous with entertainment, good and bad, and also became noteworthy for snowmobilers and tourists, sporting several musical stages, different food options from pizza to casual dining and notoriously rowdy drinking parties that led to all sorts of stories over the years.
The Hollywood twist
The prominent trail location and success of the bar and nightclub led to the site becoming the backdrop for a little-known Hollywood film, “It Ain't Easy,” which was part of several weeks of primarily second-unit production in 1971. The movie was released in 1972 to little or no success except among people who loved vintage snowmobiles and the cross-country treks that are featured.
The movie had a secondary title in foreign releases as “The Winnipeg Run,” which is shown in the promotional photos form subsequent marketing efforts. The film focused on a 500-mile snowmobile race between St. Paul and Winnipeg, while also featuring a variety of snowmobile trick riding on machines that today seem more like yard art or museum pieces.
However dated it might seem, the film accidentally seemed to be among the first Hollywood efforts to highlight and address the very real issue of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans, far ahead of its time, but sadly in a barely mediocre at best film.
In a nutshell, the film features “Randy” as a retired Army veteran “… released early from treatment for his PTSD,” back when PTSD was rarely mentioned and was a controversial diagnosis, at best, and hardly accepted by the military. The plot summary confirms that Randy “… is set loose into the world to make it on his own.”
So, of course, he enters an extreme cross-country 500-mile snowmobile race, from Manitoba to St. Paul - via Wisconsin, somehow - which is the connection to the old Country Dam, which was a literal snowmobile mecca before there were any real public snowmobile trail efforts in the 1960s and ‘70s.
The bar, nightclub and the trail across the dam were all featured prominently in the film, a copy of which is all but impossible to find today.
Reportedly, portions of the Thief River Falls, Minnesota, area were meant to look like Canada and northern Minnesota, as were a few areas around Amery and Balsam Lake, but the film notes are few beyond credits.
The film’s working title when filming locally was “Into the Storm,” and while the film became little more than a brief credit for some people, it did lead to or was a step along the way for several Hollywood types. It was the first credited film for the late Maurice Hurley as director, who later went on to direct many big TV productions including “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “The Equalizer” and “Baywatch Nights.”
“It Ain’t Easy” was basically described by critics as a tragic love story, with a tragic ending, but that doesn’t always sell well. The marketing gurus had another way of putting it: “He came home to Minnesota looking to find peace … and found something else.” As cheesy as it sounded, it turned out worse.
A star emerged
However bad the movie and script were, the B-minus-grade movie did lead to one true Hollywood success story for the lead actor who played Randy the veteran.
Lance Henriksen is the star featured in the movie poster, bowing his head in a sad profile which gave little hint that the chisel-featured, gravelly-voiced actor would later become a versatile standard bearer and would use his “snowmobile Randy” role as a kickoff for a lengthy Hollywood career.
Henriksen would later appear as a lead or prominent character in dozens of award-winning, even Oscar-nominated and winning, films including “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Network” and ”Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” He may be most easily remembered for playing astronaut Wally Schirra in “The Right Stuff,” on top of countless TV and film roles. He played Abraham Lincoln in “The Day Lincoln Was Shot,” and even the first “Terminator” movie featured the now-recognizable actor, whose first leading movie role was filmed in a little-known and mediocre, at best, film that featured Polk County and at the Country Dam.
Forward under 40 awarded at Madison Founders’ Day Celebration
Kiana Beaudin will also be featured in “A Conversation on Native American Health Care.” – Photo provided
MADISON — The Wisconsin Alumni Association will give a Forward under 40 Award to Kiana Beaudin at the upcoming Madison Founders’ Day Celebration. Beaudin will also speak during a special presentation: “A Conversation on Native American Health Care.”
The Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Forward under 40 Award recognizes alumni under the age of 40 who are outstanding examples of living the Wisconsin Idea, the idea that this public university exists to serve the public good. Beaudin is one of six honorees this year.
The Ho-Chunk Nation’s Department of Health has been declared a “shining star” among providers in the U.S. Indian Health Service, and executive director Kiana Beaudin is proud to serve her tribe as the department’s guiding light.
Beaudin is approaching the start of her second year in the department’s top job. She directs partnerships and health care services that serve the Ho-Chunk Nation’s more than 7,800 tribal members and communities across 18 counties in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
She brings nearly a decade of experience in family medicine to the role. Beaudin is pairing her personal passion for patient care with the opportunity to address health disparities for Native American populations across the nation. “Helping individuals change, that’s all about finding their motivation and what they want to do,” Beaudin says. “Making the switch from patient care to policy, I can effect change on a larger level.”
Previously, as a physician assistant at the Ho-Chunk Nation House of Wellness Clinic, Beaudin turned big ideas into best practices. For example, she incorporated the Ho-Chunk language into clinic care. She also created cultural-awareness training to ensure caregivers understand the perspectives of tribal members, including the use of traditional medicine. “People need to be exposed to us in a manner that’s respectful, and not with the bias that other populations may carry,” she says.
After her uncle’s death following colon cancer, Beaudin created the Sjaa Kikere Standing Strong Prevention Incentive to encourage colon-cancer screenings. Her idea to offer wellness incentives later expanded to increase the number of adults who regularly get preventive screenings.
Beaudin has also earned state and national recognition as a leader in providing medically assisted treatment for people with opioid and alcohol-use disorders. She helped patients navigate support programs and resources, and when they were ready, connected them to treatment.
“We’ve really seen a change in the attitude about people who have issues with addiction, from it being a choice to realizing that it’s a disease, really addressing the stigma that surrounds it,” she says. “With heroin or opiates, you never know when could be your last use because of the risk of overdose. It’s taking our young people.”
For Beaudin, connections to the University of Wisconsin run deep. She’s the daughter of two UW alumni, and she is affiliated with the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and with the Ho-Chunk Nation. The UW–Madison campus is located on lands recognized as where Ho-Chunk people lived for at least 12,000 years. “Going to school on my ancestral land was really a source of power and support for me,” she says. “I knew that prayers had been said for me right where I was.”
While in the physician assistant program, Beaudin says she was the only American Indian student in the entire UW School of Medicine and Public Health. Today, she’s a mentor and honorary fellow for the Native American Center for Health Professions, which she credits for remarkable growth in the number of Native American students now enrolled in the UW’s nursing and medical programs.
For several years, Beaudin also volunteered as a preceptor, hosting a UW–Madison PA student for a rotation at the Ho-Chunk health clinic. Students posted there learned about direct patient care while immersed in the American Indian community.
In 2019, the UW’s PA program named her Outstanding Preceptor of the Year. “It’s paying it back to the people who have come before me, paying it forward to the future providers, and then also ensuring that Native American people get the best possible care,” she says. “I couldn’t have come to where I am today if it wasn’t for people doing the same thing for me.”

The Madison Founders’ Day Celebration: A Conversation on Native American Health Care will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 6-8 p.m. Forward under 40 Award presentation to Kiana Beaudin at 7:30 p.m. at the One Alumni Place, 650 N. Lake Street, Madison, WI 53706.
The program will include:
Kiana Beaudin ’10, MPA’15, a physician assistant and the youngest executive director in the history of the Ho-Chunk Nation health department;
Danielle Yancey ’04, MS’10 — director of the Native American Center for Health Professions with the UW’s School of Medicine and Public Health;
CAPT Ted Hall — PharmD, BCPP, Advanced Practice Pharmacist, USPHS/IHS/Ho-Chunk Nation Health Department;
Gail Nahwahquaw — Department of Health Services Tribal Director; and
Dr. Benally Thompson — Assistant Professor University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health .
The event is free and open to the public. Registration is recommended, space is limited.
Aging Athlete | Rod Kleiss
In this last quadrant of our lives, we all have issues to deal with. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t. So as I began my physical rejuvenation and fitness work, some of my old issues started to take stage front and center so to speak. The first of these was the rotator-cuff pain in my right shoulder. The Mayo Clinic doctors had identified the root cause and although they thought at my age I didn’t need to have it fixed (aargh!) they agreed to do it. So I had the surgery done. The procedure was more intense than I expected.
When I awakened after the surgery, I really couldn’t stand up and my right arm was immobilized. I’ve only had one other surgery 30 years ago. The very first thing I discovered about orthopedic surgery at my age is that things take a long time to get better.
My arm stayed unmovable for two weeks and then unworkable for another month and finally as I started physical therapy, the progress of returning to normal just seemed to take forever. It was a full two years before I felt that my arm was fully functional. On the one hand, the surgery worked. In the end my shoulder issues went away. Today I have complete use of both shoulders, but getting to that point took two years.
There is the lesson learned. At this age nothing happens quickly. I will consider very carefully the expected road to recovery before I consider any more corrective actions. I’m glad I did it because now I can throw a ball, play tennis and racquetball and throw kids around with both arms. But in the process, I lost a complete year of physical training and I missed the 2017 Grantsburg Triathlon. The surgery also led to another problem. While my arm was in traction, the attached hand suddenly developed carpal-tunnel syndrome. No one could ever tell me why that happened, but it did and it hurt. Six months after my first surgery, I had to go back for carpal-tunnel surgery on my hand. Yes, that hurt a lot too, and it also took two years to get better. In fact, I am still working on full motion and strength in my right hand. So surgery can be very helpful, but it will be a test of will and endurance to outlast the recovery period.
When I was able to resume my training, we modified the workout to accommodate the recovery. It didn’t actually take that long to get back into a good training regimen. For that, I was grateful. Things started to get back to normal and then the fitness center was sold. The new owners started working on it. But they also cut back on workout classes. I still had Natalie as my trainer, but everything else I would have to start doing on my own. And then my fitness world imploded when they let Natalie go, and I had no trainer. Why do these kinds of things have to happen? I did have a number of workout routines that Natalie had written down for me, so I kept rotating my workouts with those for guidance. It worked but I sorely missed her attention to my form and progress. I also missed the aerobics of the group sessions. On top of that, the fitness center didn’t seem to be doing so well and it might well close down before long. I did sign up for another triathlon but, without a coach and with my poor preparation, I didn’t beat my first-year showing. I was 10 minutes slower. The question was now whether I could get back into the swing of things or just fail in my effort to regain fitness.
Random Thoughts | Suzanne Johnson
Super Bowl LIV
So, have you purchased your supersized snacks to put into your supersized bowl as you prepare for this weekend’s Super Bowl football game? Have you placed your bet on who will be victorious? Will it be the team from Kansas City or the team from San Francisco? Or, are you a person who tunes into the big game for the halftime show or perhaps just to view the commercials? Throughout the evening on Sunday, Feb. 2, I will probably switch to see how things are going with the game, but, I will no doubt, actually be more tuned into a different show on a different channel.
When the Minnesota Vikings played the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs, I did pay attention to the outcome of the game. Don’t throw any footballs at me, but I was hoping the Vikings would have been victorious after that game. I had hoped the Vikings and the Green Bay Packers would meet up to play in the playoffs. If they had, I would have really made an effort to be with grandson Cole, a Vikings fan, to watch the game. This 4-foot-2-inch 53-pounder is so animated when he watches football. He has a lot of football facts stored away in his 8-year-old brain. I don’t want to dash his dreams, but Cole would like to be a professional football player when he is older. I guess I shouldn’t be too concerned about his dream job at this point. Last year, his desire was to be a paleontologist.
When the time came for the Packers to play the 49ers in the NFC championship game, I asked Cole which team he would be cheering for. I was a tad disappointed when he said the 49ers. So, who is Cole hoping will win the Super Bowl? I guess he is going with Kansas City. Is it perhaps because the team hasn’t been to the Super Bowl for something like 50 years? I think there are quite a few football fans who are happy to see other teams playing in the Super Bowl this year. They may have been getting tired of seeing the New England Patriots there for like four times in the last five years?
If you plan to watch the competition as the Chiefs and the 49ers meet up at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, I hope you enjoy your refreshments and the super big game.
Suzanne can be reached at [email protected]
Carrie Classon | The Postscript
Learning to whistle
My sister learned to whistle at 2 years old.
She was precocious in other ways as well. She knew how to read by the time she started kindergarten. She demonstrated a physical dexterity I never did. She was much more talented at the piano. But it was the whistling that really got to me.
I was 6 when she started to whistle and I remember it clearly. She sat in her high chair at my grandparents’ house and started whistling her heart out. She could see, even at 2, that she was creating quite a sensation and so she continued, louder, demonstrating her newfound talent. I was sick with envy.
I don’t think I have envied many people many times in my life, but I very much wanted to whistle when I was 6. Like tying your shoes at 5, it is a milestone. My dad whistled. My friends could whistle. Now my baby sister could whistle and everyone was over the moon. It was a low moment in my short life.
My grandmother, who I am sure was very well intentioned, did not make the situation better.
"Carrie, some people never learn how to whistle,” she informed me.
I suppose this was to help me understand that I had company, that there was a great world of non-whistlers out there and I would surely find companionship with the similarly inadequate. I was not comforted.
"Some people never learn how to whistle!” I remember repeating to myself many times over. I think this may have been the first time I was seriously confronted with the possibility that there might be something I desperately wanted to do that I would not be able to do. I had parents who assured me that I would be able to do whatever I put my mind to and here I was, at 6, already stopped at a major roadblock. It was very discouraging.
I could be imagining this, but it seems to me my sister sensed my dejection and whistled with even more virtuosity.
All this came to mind as I was in New York last week. I had just performed material from my columns at a conference. I was certainly a late arrival to this world. Most of the performers were at least 20 years younger than me, if not 30, and I was every bit as nervous as the youngest of them—perhaps more so.
I had 15 minutes to perform and, while it’s hard to tell with these things, I felt I did reasonably well. Afterward, I changed out of my sparkly costume and headed back to the hotel to watch some of the other talented people perform. It was unseasonably warm in New York for January. The sky was clear and there was an unexpectedly big moon rising over the skyscrapers. I stopped, right in the middle of Broadway and stared at this giant moon.
I suddenly realized how ridiculously lucky I was. I was doing something new. I was having fun. I might or might not be embarrassing myself but, if I was, I really did not care. I started to whistle. I was walking down Broadway whistling and I didn’t care if anyone heard me. I fished my phone out of my purse and called my sister.
"Hey, Sister!” I announced without preamble, "I just wanted you to know that I couldn’t whistle at 2 and not even at 6 but I actually am a halfway decent whistler now!”
My sister laughed and I told her I loved her and I kept walking and smiling and whistling.
Till next time,
Classon’s memoir is called "Blue Yarn.” Learn more at
Darcy Kolander | Homemade with Love
So my middle daughter, Jozie, who is smarter than I am, asked if she could borrow my phone to see if her headphones were working. If it was just her headphones, she said, she would know, as they weren’t working in her own phone. She gave me my phone back and said, "It’s my charging port, they work in your phone.”
"So use your Bluetooth Beats,” I said.
No response.
After a while I get a text on my phone from Jozie, asking, "Mom, can I get a puppy tomorrow?”
My response, "No!”
Except when I texted no, it didn’t show up as no. It showed up as "Yes, darling. A German shepherd.”
What was happening? It took me a minute to realize what she had done.
"Jozie! What are you doing?!” I texted.
When she borrowed my phone earlier in the day, she had programmed it to say, "Yes, darling. A German shepherd,” for the response she knew she would actually receive, "No.”
So, if anyone receives the response, "Yes, darling. A German shepherd,” from me, just know that the answer to your question is no, because I don’t know how to program it back.
"I think my favorite part of being a mother has been sacrificing my body, career, mental stability and psychical appearance to wait on them hand and foot. Only to be met with, ‘YOU DON’T DO ANYTHING FOR ME,’ when I ask them to pick up a fruit snack wrapper. It is very rewarding.” – Unknown
After texting my sister a happy birthday on Friday, I asked her to send me a vegan-friendly recipe. She fittingly sent a recipe for Spicy BBQ Cauliflower Wings. It actually looks quite tasty.
Vegan Spicy BBQ Cauliflower Wings
1 pound cauliflower, without leaves
3 ounces plain flour
5 tablespoons plant-based milk
2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon hot sauce
3/4 cup BBQ sauce
To serve (optional)
Sesame seeds
Spring onion
Remember, if you are truly trying vegan you also have to make your own dressing. But if you made it to this point, I’d say you’re doing well!
For the ranch dressing (optional)
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 or 2 tablespoons oat milk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry dill
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinches of salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 390°F and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
In a mixing bowl combine the flour, plant-based milk, mixed herbs and big pinches of salt and pepper with 5 tablespoons water. Whisk until fully combined into a batter.
Next, add the panko breadcrumbs to a medium-sized mixing bowl along with the vegetable oil. Use your hands to combine (make sure you remove any clumps).
Trim the stalk of the cauliflower. Then cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets and use your hands to tear apart any big pieces.
Add the cauliflower florets to the batter and use a spoon to toss them in the batter. Once the florets are fully coated, add them to the breadcrumb mix one at a time and toss them in the breadcrumbs, then place on the lined baking tray.
Bake the florets for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, if serving with ranch dressing, add all the ingredients to a small mixing bowl and stir to combine.
To make the BBQ hot sauce, add the sauce ingredients to a saucepan or a wok on low heat. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is hot.
Once the cauliflower has finished baking, add the florets to the saucepan with the hot sauce and stir through until the florets are fully coated.
Transfer the hot wings to a serving plate and top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. To finish, finely slice half a spring onion and sprinkle on top. Serve with the homemade ranch dressing.
Peter Kwong | Wok & Roll
New York City
The first time I got on an airplane was when I left Hong Kong for the States; goodness, that was 50-some years ago. My college is in Southern California, and that’s where I spent most of my time, going to school and working. Somehow, I did manage to visit my high school buddies from Hong Kong who were studying in other states, but it was by bus only. Never had a chance to fly again until my career took a turn many years later. I was invited to interview with companies in different parts of the country, and hence, I started to learn more about different airports and to begin my journey of traveling.
After spending 15 years in just one state, California; all I knew was San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. Then the sky opened up, and I started to learn more about other states – Florida, Washington, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Wisconsin, New York, Minnesota and many others. Even though most airport terminals look the same inside, the views before landing are all different. I loved the window seat as I could check out all the sceneries. Yes, California is a big state, yet, it is just a small part of a huge country!
In most of the states, planes would pass through mountains or forests before they landed on the runway. But not New York City; the plane would fly past buildings after buildings before it finally would land. It is indeed a land of cement forests. The first time I was in New York City I was in awe, as it reminded me so much of Hong Kong – tall buildings and busy people everywhere! And everyone seemed to be in a hurry. I was on a business trip, hence not much time for sightseeing. My mission was to try different dipping sauces from various Chinese restaurants, and to create the perfect one for a restaurant owner (who is Jewish) so he could use the sauce for his Chinese restaurant in Beverly Hills. A bizarre story indeed, but that’s the story of my life. I think I had tried 15 dipping sauces from different restaurants, and I finally came up with my own. To spend all that money just to develop a dipping sauce? Why not, if you have plenty of time and money?
After my daughter graduated from college in Boston, she decided to move to New York City to try her luck. She didn’t have a job lined up and she didn’t know a single soul; yet, she just packed up and went. Sounds a lot like her old man. So, what kind of advice could I give her? I could hear her defending herself, "You did it, Dad, why can’t I?” That’s why I didn’t say a word. As in a miracle, not only did she find an apartment, she also landed an amazing job. I guess luck ran in our family. My wife and I went to visit her after she settled in. NYC is nice to visit, but it is not my kind of town – I don’t like crowds and I am very frugal – to spend a fortune on hotel rooms and meals is not my cup of tea.
The third trip to NYC was more fun, as all the expense was paid for. I was working for a Spanish broadcasting company then. No, don’t ask why in the world a non-Spanish-speaking Chinese person was working in a Hispanic company. To survive, you just got to do what you got to do. Anyway, the company was bought out by some American investors who were interested in the growing market. They were looking for a new name for the company and were offering a prize for the winner – an all-paid-for vacation to NYC. Out of 500-some entries, they picked "Adelante,” which means "moving forward.” And guess who submitted it – yes, yours truly. It is nice to spend money when you don’t have to think about it. The prize included the plane fare, the hotel, $500 cash, plus dinner with the CEO of the company. I was shocked and elated. Not only could we visit NYC in style, but we would be dining with the CEO.
I forgot the name of the restaurant, but we will never forget the dining experience. Needless to say, candles, shining chandeliers, spotless china and glassware … and the servers all dressed better than we did. Oh well. But the scariest part of the whole experience was that the menu had no prices! Yes, no prices. Never in our lives had we eaten in any establishments that wouldn’t tell you how much it cost for your meal. As a matter of fact, part of my skills in designing a menu is how to price the menu. Some would just put an even number as the price – $6, $9, $13 … while some would put $23.99 just to reflect the price is under $24. But this menu had no prices listed! I looked at the CEO and he looked confident that we didn’t have to wash dishes afterward. So, I acted like we ate at places like this often and started to relax a bit.
We had appetizers, entrees, wines, after-dinner drinks, desserts and more after-dinner drinks … I stopped trying to figure out how much the meal would have cost me after the second glass of wine. Lordy, couldn’t wait to tell the guys at the office.
The third time back was when my daughter got married. It was a joyous occasion indeed, my little girl all grown up and found her true love. At the reception, before I gave the toast, I told the guests that in China, we called our daughter "Chien Jin.” In translation, it means a thousand teals of gold. Just imagine how much it is worth for a single teal (bar) of gold and multiply that 1,000 times. I looked at the groom and said, "I’m giving you the most treasured possession I have ever had. And now she is in your hands. Please take good care of her.” Everyone cheered.
The fourth time was after our grandson was born. He was barely 7 or 8 months old. Watching my daughter feeding the baby, changing him and giving him all the attention and love just melted my heart. Four months later, they announced that they would be moving to San Francisco as my son-in-law got recruited. Life does go around in circles. NYC is not my kind of town, but she has left a lot of fond memories in my heart. Who knows, we might return some day for a visit. I’d like to go back to the restaurant where the menu has no prices just to see for myself. I will bring my personal rubber gloves just in case I have to wash dishes.
Peter’s new book "Have You Eaten?” has just come out. It is a memoir of him growing up around food in Hong Kong, plus of a lot of fun and interesting dishes from his cooking classes. Check out the video on his website,
Danielle Danford | Dear Dani D.
Sometimes life can feel like a slap in the face. There are times in my life where I’ve been taken completely by surprise by the actions of others or the, seemingly, random bad luck event that occurs with impeccably terrible timing.
In the recent past my husband and his brother did some maintenance on my car, only to find that the nut for the transmission oil pan sheared off while still inside my vehicle. It’s surprising when life can be completely altered by a simple broken nut. How life can become so changed by a singular event.
However, had we remembered the events that occurred the last time we changed the transmission oil we would have had new parts on hand, prepared for the inevitable. This is something I believe is easy to overlook in life. How some events feel like they are random bits of bad luck, but upon reflection I’ve found that my own actions or choices led me to that very situation.
I made some positive choices at the start of the new year. I decided my word for 2020 is “Practice.” Choosing a word for the year is something I picked up from an online community of planners and journalers. Choosing a word for the year is as simple as identifying with a word and how it can positively influence your life for the next year.
I find I “live my best life” when I live with intention and focus, while still giving myself room for learning.
This is why I chose the word “practice” for 2020. Perhaps you’d consider adopting a word for the year? If so, I’m curious to know what your word is. Feel free to write to me about it at [email protected]
Natural Connections | Emily Stone
Broken shells have stories to tell. Can you read them? – Photo by Emily Stone
Reading on the beach
I slept with the sound of ocean waves crashing into the white sand beach. Through a full day board meeting in a cramped conference room, we kept an eye on swooping flocks of pelicans, took breaks on the balcony to inhale the smell of salt, and watched a thunderstorm toss dune grass into a frenzy. Everything from the humidity in January to the arc of wave-smoothed sand was outside of my normal realm.
Mary Oliver, my favorite poet, lived on the tip of Cape Cod and often wrote about the ocean, a subject quite novel to me. Her poem “Breakage” begins, “I go down to the edge of the sea,” and goes on to name and describe the pieces of broken shells she finds on the beach. It ends, “First you figure out what each one means by itself … then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.”
That concept I understand. I can go out in the North Woods and read a story in the odds and ends of life I find there. But when I finally broke away from the group to take my camera for a walk on the beach in the late afternoon, the stories there seemed written in a foreign language.
The strandline, where the last high tide had left its burdens, was a mosaic of colorful bits of shells. The jumble teased me with the hope that something there would look familiar; would be identifiable. Give me a similar assortment of torn leaves from bog plants and I could recognize every one, but the shells were merely pretty.
Then I caught sight of one white shell with a tiny, perfect hole. Near it was another shell with a similar puncture, and another, and another. When I lived in northern California and took kids to the tidepools there, we’d found similar holes in the conical shells of limpets. The culprit: one of several types of snails. Snails use acid to soften the shell of their prey and a hard-toothed tongue called a radula to drill a deadly hole. Using a combination of their radula and digestive enzymes, the snail turns the owner of the shell into soup, and slurps it up as a midnight snack. A quick Google search told me that moon snails are the most common malefactors on this beach.
The lovely remains of these grisly feasts are perfect for stringing on necklaces or adding to charm bracelets. In nature, beauty often cloaks a beast.
The translucent blue balloons of Portuguese men-of-war are no exception. These were one of the first novelties to catch my eye on the beach, and I assumed they were jellyfish. Google soon set me straight. Despite its inflated top, trailing tentacles and floppy translucence, The Portuguese man-of-war is not a jellyfish at all. It’s a colonial organism. The balloon, the tentacles with their stinging cells, and all of its body parts are made up of different types of zooids that function together like a single animal and cannot survive independently.
Despite the Portuguese man-of-war’s famously fierce stings, once washed up on the shore they are often eaten by ghost crabs. I was glad to happen upon this fact during my research, because it explains why many of the blue balloons I found were perched near the entrances of small tunnels in the sand. Those tunnels, as my Facebook friends informed me, belong to ghost crabs.
I’d been hoping that the tunnels were inhabited by Alabama beach mice, a species highlighted on a nearby interpretive sign. These endangered mice store the seeds of sea oats, an important sand-stabilizing dune grass, deep inside their tunnels. The sea oats seeds I found blowing around the beach looked dry and forlorn, while those forgotten inside the mouse tunnels find themselves in the perfect garden. Mice live farther up in the dunes, though, unlike the crabs who need to wet their gills in order to breathe.
So, inspired by Mary Oliver, and assisted by my Facebook community and the internet, I’m learning a new tongue, one flavored by salt and full of the “shushhhh” of waves on sand. I’m beginning to piece together some of the stories on the beach. Snails drill holes in their neighbor’s shells, crabs eat colonial organisms that are not jellyfish and mice plant seeds that stabilize the dunes.
These characters seem even more exotic now that I’m back among dunes of snow instead of sand. But with all of her diversity, Nature has only so many plots in her literature. Wherever I go, I recognize the muffled drama of predation, the necessary work of scavengers, the magic synergy of cooperation, and the serendipity of accidental gardeners. Wherever we go, there are stories that we can learn to read.
Emily Stone is the naturalist/education director at the Cable Natural History Museum. Her second book, “Natural Connections: Dreaming of an Elfin Skimmer,” is now available to purchase at and at your local independent bookstore.

For more than 50 years, the Cable Natural History Museum has served to connect you to the North Woods. Visit them in Cable. Their Curiosity Center kids’ exhibit and Pollinator Power annual exhibit are open. Call them at 715-798-3890 or email [email protected]
Ninety-four-year-old Bonnie Jedlund is having fun clogging with friends in Webster
The Webster cloggers goofed for the camera after their class. Front (left to right): Students Cheryl Chelmo, Bonnie Jed- lund, Bonnie Dahlstrom, Karen Walker, and instructor Sheryl Baker. Back: Students Karen Thompson, Chris Wynn, Jeanette Harder, Dawn Fern, Terri Elfstrom and Yvonne Fair.
WEBSTER – Bonnie Jedlund is a woman of that generation, we all know the one, and people of it. They are the folks who just keep going, living life
to its fullest.
Though they may be in their 80s and 90s their energy and enthusiasm for growing and learning hasn’t seemed to have waned over the years.
You can find them boogying off to book clubs, clamoring to do crafting and quilting, biking, hiking and running around the town, voraciously volunteering, exuberantly acting in community theater, just to name a few of the activities satisfying their desire to discover new opportunities for fun and adventure.
Ninety-four-year-old Jedlund is a prime example of that group, with her young-at-heart attitude. Ever active in her community, she sports the expression of a woman who is up for it all.
And one activity Jedlund is definitely up for is clogging.
Clogging is an authentic form of American folk dance. The dancer’s footwear (which does not involve wooden shoes, but, instead, shoes which could be used much like a tap shoe) is used to strike the heel, the toe, or both against a floor or each other to create audible rhythms.
Jedlund’s start in clogging began 10 years ago. After talking to her family for a while about wanting to learn to clog, one day her son Steve presented her with a pair of clogging shoes, remarking, “Put your feet where your mouth is.”
And so, equipped with the proper performing footwear, Jedlund found a clogging class to take while on vacation in Arizona.
Clogging so captivated her, once back home in Webster Jedlund sought out friends to interest them in giving clogging a try.
After finding out Sheryl Baker was teaching clogging classes in Frederic and St. Croix Falls, Jedlund and friends Bonnie Dahlstrom, Chris Wynn, Cheryl Chelmo and Jeanette Harder traveled to St. Croix
Falls for her classes for a number of years.
“Bonnie Dahlstrom and Bonnie Jedlund had traveled to St. Croix Falls to take my classes and worked very hard to get me up in Webster to teach classes,” commented Baker.
Since then Jedlund’s original group of recruits, Dahlstrom, Chelmo, Wynn and Harder, have continued to clog together and have been joined by some 10 other women, meeting once a week for class with Baker at the Webster Community Center.
Baker, who has been dancing for 33 years (32 of those also instructing), teaches shuffle clogging, buck dancing and Canadian step dancing as well as traditional mountain figures and some flatfooting.
“I demonstrate to the Webster group all three styles but mainly I teach shuffle clogging to my recreational dancers,” explained Baker.
When Jedlund is asked what it is about clogging she loves, a broad smile crosses her face. Her answer is simple: “Because it’s fun, and it’s good exercise.”
Baker, herself a woman full of energy and enthusiasm for her art, has only admiration for her student’s spirit.
“Bonnie Jedlund is someone who inspires you to be your personal best! Her zest for living life to its fullest is very meaningful and she is a great role model for all adults! She enjoys many activities and social outings and is a selfless citizen that gives way more than she receives! I can only hope to be the woman she is as I age! Bonnie is amazing!”
Dahlstrom and Chelmo agree.
“I admire Bonnie so much. She inspires everyone with her positive attitude. There is no holding her back,” expressed Dahlstrom of her friend’s vitality for life. ”She’s like the Energizer Bunny. She can do circles around people 20 years younger than her.”
Homemade with Love | Darcy Kolander

In this column I will be referring back to my grandma, Emma Kolander, as I wrote about her in my first column about molasses cookies. She kept notes of almost everything.
Emma was asked, “When you think of school days, what memory comes to mind?” She responded, “My mother-in-law taught school in the early ‘20s (that is the early 1920’s) in a one-room rural school with two dozen students, some of them nearly as old as she was. After school had been in session for some time she happened to be standing next to a little second-grade girl as they were repeating the Pledge of Allegiance. During that era the words were ‘one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’ She realized the little girl was saying, “… one nation, under God, in de fish bowl … still smile over that tale.
“To realize the humor of this tale you need to understand the geography of my area. I taught school in Siren, Wisconsin, which is 6 miles south of Webster, Wisconsin.
“Every time a student had difficulty with a word in reading class I would refer him/her to ‘Mr. Webster,’ my nickname for the Webster Dictionary. As I did this one particular day, an eighth-grade boy responded, ‘I never can understand how come we use Webster’s dictionary when we live in Siren!’
“Needless to say, we had an impromptu lesson at that moment!”
This reminds me of a similar story of my Grandpa Don, which would be my mother’s dad. His name was Donald Frederic Mack. I, being me, asked him one day, “Grandpa, what’s your middle name again? Is it Siren or Webster?” He got a kick out of that question. Both Don and Emma studied in the old Trade River one-room schoolhouse together, small world.
This is a fun and easy dish I make once in a while. This recipe can be changed a lot and you can use varying levels of spice in each ingredient to your liking.
Chicken surprise | Darcy Kolander
2 packages boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 large can of cream of mushroom soup
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
1 bag tortilla chips (You can use any tortilla chips, Doritos, lime flavored, etc. I like the plain/original best.)
2 small cans Rotel (I use one can of hot diced tomatoes and green chilies and one mild.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
Cut up and season chicken and fry in large skillet.
Spread half the crushed chips into the bottom of the baking dish.
In your large skillet, stir remaining ingredients into cooked chicken … cream of mushroom soup, Rotel and cheese.
Spread the mixture evenly over the chips in the baking pan and top with other half of crushed chips.
Bake for 20 minutes.
If you have any tried-and-true recipes you’d like to share, send them to me at [email protected]
Chenal Brothers warmly welcomed by Grantsburg community
Bob Rombach, owner of We Are Grantsburg and co-sponsor with the Grantsburg Legion of a reception held Jan. 8 for Leo and John Chenal, posed for a fun fan photo with the two Wisconsin Badger players.
GRANTSBURG – John and Leo Chenal were warmly welcomed by community members at a reception held for the Wisconsin Badger players at the Grantsburg Legion Hall Wednesday, Jan. 8.
The Chenals arrived to find the hall sporting Badger gear from top to bottom, complete with large wall hanging pictures, Badger tablecloths and napkins. Fans of all ages enjoyed free root beer floats served in Badger cups.
The impromptu event, hosted by the Brask-Fossum-Janke American Legion Post 185 members and We Are Grantsburg, was held to show support for the two Wisconsin Badger brothers after their recent Rose Bowl performance and for the Grantsburg youth football Clipper Club. Volunteers from the Clipper Club and the Country Store in Grantsburg were on hand to help host the event.
Folks coming to the meet and greet for the Chenals could support the Clipper Club by participating in a meat and 50/50 raffle, and by making a donation for handmade Badger bowl cozies made by the Legion Auxiliary and other Badger memorabilia.
Fans young and old coming to congratulate the two Badger football players fresh back home from the Rose Bowl game brought items to have signed or had their root beer float Badger cup signed by the Chenals.
"The Chenal boys walked through the doors leading to the Legion Post hall area even bigger and stronger in appearance than what fans remembered,” noted 2nd Vice Commander, Duke Tucker, who helped organize the community welcome. "We’ve been looking at ways to show support for our community youth and to bring people together in general and thought this would be a great way to do both.”
During his remarks welcoming the Chenals and their fans, Tucker joked John and Leo had a tough time getting their focus off the raw meat neatly lined up on the raffle table. "No doubt it can be compared to their hunger to be stronger in the coming year in order to help bring even more success to the Badgers.”
"It was nice to see lots of community members out to support the local team. It was so much more than I was expecting. I really appreciate the people who put the whole thing together, including Duke Tucker and the whole Legion,” commented John Chenal after the event.
The Legion post in Grantsburg holds a meat and 50/50 raffle every Saturday evening in to provide a venue for organizations to raise money. Some upcoming organizations taking advantage of the raffle opportunity are the Grantsburg youth trap team and a group raising funds to support the annual eighth-grade Washington, D.C., trip.
Recent groups benefiting from the raffle are the Burnett County Family Resource Center, Burnett County Law Enforcement Citizens Auxiliary, and the Legion post itself.
"It was mentioned a number of times during the Chenal event how the post is looking to help any group seeking to raise money for causes that help to make our community a better place to live,” said Tucker.
According to Tucker folks should keep an eye on exciting new things happening at the Grantsburg Legion post.
"Recent renovations of the rest rooms and the increased activities and membership has its members fired up for things to come,” said Tucker. "The focus of Post 185 is on promoting Americanism, patriotism, service to our veterans, and helping the community be a great place to raise a family with strong core values.”
"It was really nice to see the community show up and support John and I and to give back to the football program. Coming back to Grantsburg, to our hometown, and being able to help our hometown football team with this fundraiser was fantastic, said Leo Chenal of the event. "We really appreciate all of the support the coaches and the community have given us over the years. Having all the young kids there was great because they are the future of the program and it’s great to be able to inspire them and that’s something John and I really enjoy getting to do!”
NOTE: The Grantsburg American Legion Brask-Fossum-Janke Post 185 "family” is made up of four groups: The Legion - which requires for the individual to be honorably discharged from active duty or to be current active duty status; the Auxiliary unit - women who are direct descendents, siblings, or spouses of Legion-eligible veterans; SAL (Sons of the American Legion) - Men who are direct descendents, siblings, or spouses of Legion-eligible veterans; Team Players - This group covers anyone that wishes to support the post activities. Individuals participate as much as or as little as they’d like. Joining the post can be accomplished by reporting to the membership table at any monthly meal, which is generally held the fourth Thursday of each month.
The Foxhole Bar & Lounge, which is a fundraising arm of Legion Post 185, is open daily at 11 a.m. for lunch specials, has a variety of fresh-ground burgers, Burnett Dairy pizzas, and a Friday night fish fry, which are fairly new offerings.

Community Game Night
Community Game Night at Frederic High School is THIS SATURDAY, Jan. 18, 6-8:30 p.m. Bring a prepackaged snack to share, and games, or play volleyball or 9 Square in the Air. Please disregard the listings in the Jan. 15 edition of the Leader that say the game night is on Jan. 25 – this is only the makeup date in case of bad weather. For updates, call 715-327-4868 or go to the Frederic Community Facebook page.
CLM Homemade with Love | Darcy Kolander
In this column I will be referring back to my grandma, Emma Kolander, as I wrote about her in my first column about molasses cookies. She kept notes of almost everything.
Emma was asked, "When you think of school days, what memory comes to mind?” She responded, "My mother-in-law taught school in the early ‘20s (that is the early 1920s) in a one-room rural school with two dozen students, some of them nearly as old as she was. After school had been in session for some time she happened to be standing next to a little second-grade girl as they were repeating the Pledge of Allegiance. During that era the words were ‘one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’ She realized the little girl was saying, "… one nation, under God, in de fish bowl’ … still smile over that tale.
"To realize the humor of this tale you need to understand the geography of my area. I taught school in Siren, Wisconsin, which is 6 miles south of Webster, Wisconsin.
"Every time a student had difficulty with a word in reading class I would refer him/her to ‘Mr. Webster,’ my nickname for the Webster Dictionary. As I did this one particular day, an eighth-grade boy responded, ‘I never can understand how come we use Webster’s dictionary when we live in Siren!’
"Needless to say, we had an impromptu lesson at that moment!”
This reminds me of a similar story of my Grandpa Don, which would be my mother’s dad. His name was Donald Frederic Mack. I, being me, asked him one day, "Grandpa, what’s your middle name again? Is it Siren or Webster?” He got a kick out of that question. Both Don and Emma studied in the old Trade River one-room schoolhouse together, small world.
This is a fun and easy dish I make once in a while. This recipe can be changed a lot and you can use varying levels of spice in each ingredient to your liking.
Chicken surprise | Darcy Kolander
2 packages boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 large can of cream of mushroom soup
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
1 bag tortilla chips (You can use any tortilla chips, Doritos, lime flavored, etc. I like the plain/original best.)
2 small cans Rotel (I use one can of hot diced tomatoes and green chilies and one mild.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
Cut up and season chicken and fry in large skillet.
Spread half the crushed chips into the bottom of the baking dish.
In your large skillet, stir remaining ingredients into cooked chicken … cream of mushroom soup, Rotel and cheese.
Spread the mixture evenly over the chips in the baking pan and top with other half of crushed chips.
Bake for 20 minutes.
If you have any tried-and-true recipes you’d like to share, send them to me at [email protected]
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