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Articles written by Ann Markusen

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  • On the Mark: A day of music and beauty

    Ann Markusen|Mar 29, 2024

    Early on Monday, March 11, Cromwell-Wright High School singers boarded a big yellow bus headed for the Crosby-Ironton School to participate in the annual Minnesota State High School League choral contest. The students had been preparing for months, receiving solo, duet, and ensemble instruction from MaryRose Varo, Cromwell-Wright's energetic and accomplished vocal teacher. On the piano, Cromwell-Wright's Macie Lind and I served as accompanists, rehearsing with soloists and singers of duets and... Full story

  • On The Mark: New septic install is no small feat

    Ann Markusen|Dec 1, 2023

    The Walli family home, just northwest of the city of Cromwell, required a septic system redo, which has consumed our lives for some time. The project called for both intelligent labor and impressive machinery, including two backhoes and a vintage dump truck. We started this summer by logging off the larger trees, mostly birch and poplar. We tossed the long skinny boughs downhill like javelins. The larger trunks Rod cut to manageable lengths - more or less than 2 feet - with his chainsaw. We... Full story

  • On the mark: Cemeteries bond community

    Ann Markusen|Oct 20, 2023

    For many small-town residents, cemeteries host gatherings and remembrances that bring us together. On the western edge of Carlton County, on South Finn Road, the Lakeside Cemetery serves this purpose. It is well-managed by a team of elders, who keep track of plots and ensure that burials are properly situated and that headstones accurately record their inhabitants. We recently buried the ashes of my husband Rod's older brother Jim Walli (brother Jack's identical twin). Jim had served in Vietnam... Full story

  • On The Mark: Fall is fleeting, but oh, so lovely

    Ann Markusen|Oct 6, 2023

    Autumn has been my favorite month since I was a child. I loved the bursts of orange and yellow. Raking up the leaves in our small Minneapolis yard. Piling them to jump in with neighbor kids. Putting on our tweener (between seasons) jackets. Feeling the chill on my cheeks. Anticipating the applesauce and cider my mom and dad were cooking up in the kitchen. And looking forward to seeing my schoolmates again. We're living on the crest of a glacial hill, with a moraine sloping down toward the west,... Full story

  • On The Mark: Summer brings outside work, beauty

    Ann Markusen|Sep 8, 2023

    It’s been a long and challenging summer in our part of Carlton County. So little rain, so many detours on Highway 210. Not even one swim in a lake! We’ve made up for it with home improvements. These include installing a badly needed new septic system in a new location. That meant lots of oak and poplar to harvest and lots of good thigh and upper body work for the physique! Throwing the smaller lengths like javelins into the surrounding woods. Piling chain-sawed logs in two-foot lengths into the... Full story

  • On the Mark: FinnFest tour was a real North Shore treat

    Ann Markusen|Aug 4, 2023

    Last week, hundreds of locals and visitors, some from abroad, journeyed to Duluth to celebrate Finnish culture and its enduring presence in our communities. It was challenging to choose among many options: talks, films, presentations, musical performances, dancing, Finnish food and drink. Husband Rod Walli and I chose to join the daylong bus trip up the North Shore, offered by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor emeritus Arnold Alanen. At the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center, we... Full story

  • On the Mark: Freerange Films return to the barn this weekend

    Ann Markusen|Jun 23, 2023

    Again this year, the Dugan family and friends host two nights of films in their Wrenshall barn. I’ve been enjoying this year’s slate of films on my computer. I can’t review them all in this slim column, but I’m sharing my favorites. The most spectacular is “Finding Her Beat,” a film made by Japanese, Canadian and American women learning and performing Taiko, a Japanese male art form that combines dance movements with banging a large vertical drum. The film opens with a Korean adoptee rai... Full story

  • On The Mark: Wright native is worth celebrating

    Ann Markusen|Jun 9, 2023

    Often, lifetime residents bring joy, humor and learning to their communities. Two weeks ago, Cromwell-Wright area residents celebrated the life and work of Margaret Webster. Born and raised in Wright, Margaret Webster taught home economics for years at the school in McGregor. She organized community events, including humorous plays that she wrote and directed. Margaret also wrote and illustrated several books: "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Cemetery," "Are All the Heroes Gone?:...

  • Fabric art tells a story

    Ann Markusen|Apr 28, 2023

    The latest Knot Gallery art show features seven artists, who sew, knit, weave and otherwise create art out of fiber and fabric. Last week we featured three of the artists - this week we introduce readers to the other four. Julianne Motis Cloquet area farmer Julianne Motis is exhibiting three quilted pieces depicting a couple of incredibly colorful chickens and a cow, each one pieced together with fabric pieces of all shapes and sizes that come together to portray the animal, the same way a... Full story

  • Next in the gallery: Fabric arts

    Ann Markusen|Apr 21, 2023

    The Knot Gallery is taking a different tack for its next display, hosting a fabric art exhibit for May and June. Join fabric artists and Pine Knot News staff for a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, in the office at 122 Avenue C in Cloquet's West End. The works of seven artists are up for viewing and most of them will be attending the opening, including Moose Lake's Tah'tini Ho'okan, who will be demonstrating techniques on her loom. This week and next we share insights from...

  • Performing comes with joys and some jitters

    Ann Markusen|Apr 7, 2023

    Lately, I’ve been pondering how marvelous and challenging live and in-person human performance can be. Of course, machines perform as well, by design. But machines don’t have feelings and/or unique intelligence that can be mobilized to enhance expression. We also may enjoy products that convey or reflect on expression, such as films, recordings, books and magazines. But nothing can be as marvelous as live human expression offered up to others. A week ago, while in New York City, I attended a n...

  • Choral students shine

    Ann Markusen|Mar 10, 2023

    Cromwell-Wright choir students worked hard this past month and it paid off as many students achieved high marks at the choral subsection contest Tuesday, March 7, at Virginia High School. Max Hanni and Aurora Gervais, Brian Goodrich and Grace Swenson, and Kieriahna Goodin and Haylee McCuskey received "Excellent" ratings for their duets, as did Brian Goodrich, Grace Swenson, Trinity King, Kieriahna Goodin, Kaylee Smith and Haylee McCuskey for their solos. Gracie Foley and Kaylee Smith won a... Full story

  • Cromwell Cardinals hold winter recital

    Ann Markusen|Feb 17, 2023

    The Feb. 8 choral program at Cromwell-Wright School treated an enthusiastic audience of grandparents, parents, siblings and community members to vocal and instrumental performances with 28 students taking on songs they chose and loved: some as solos, others as duets or combos. Elliot Anderson played Chopin's Prelude Op. 28, No. 15 on the piano, a demanding piece, beautifully performed. The program began with "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," a haunting composition by Gordon Lightfoot. The... Full story

  • On the Mark: What a classy, classic show

    Ann Markusen|Dec 16, 2022

    This past Sunday, the Moose Lake High School auditorium rang with a stunning mash-up of horns, reeds, drums, guitar and keyboard. Billed as the Andrew Walesch Big Band, it was the third of this year's five Agate Encores Community Concerts. Walesch, who has performed across the region - including at Oldenburg House events in Carlton - acknowledged his professor from St. Olaf College and announced he'd be singing a Frank Sinatra show, at times accompanying himself on the keyboard. It was amazing...

  • On the Mark: Cromwell gets a makeover

    Ann Markusen|Nov 11, 2022

    If you’ve been driving through Cromwell on Minnesota highways 210 or 73 these past few months, you’ll have seen the remarkable infrastructure redo taking place. The Minnesota Department of Transportation project to update storm sewers, redirect sewer and water mains, install city sidewalks and resurface the highway is nearing completion. Area residents and business owners are looking forward to direct access to commercial enterprises including the city’s Muni, post office, Northview Bank, medic...

  • On the Mark: Putting the garden to bed

    Ann Markusen|Oct 21, 2022

    For 50 years, I have been vegetable gardening on the same plot. My grandfather had brought Danish practices and preferences to his garden. Long widowed from my grandmother’s ovarian cancer, he was delighted to have my help. He patiently answered my questions. We cooked together. Years later, after he and my uncle died, my cousin Martha Markusen asked me if I would buy the house, small barn and 7 acres from them. Her father had unpaid medical expenses, and my contract for deed would enable t... Full story

  • On the Mark: Artists, photographers share urban views

    Ann Markusen|Sep 16, 2022

    Travel near and far in the Pine Knot Gallery’s “urban landscapes” exhibit, opening Friday. Our fall exhibit includes unique urban perspectives from a number of area artists, including Rhonda Peters, Kris Nelson, Ken Hanson, Mark Cline, Carole Hill, Ivy Vainio and Deborah Manisto. Ken and Kris Hanson helped us hang the exhibit, and Ken contributed three acrylic paintings of urbanscapes the two encountered during their trip to Europe this past April. They visited Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona, Rome,... Full story

  • On the Mark: A teacher worth fighting for

    Ann Markusen|Sep 9, 2022

    In the mid-1920s, my grandmother Ruth Lee Markusen began teaching at Cromwell High School. Although she had earned a degree from the University of Minnesota in English and social science (1910) and had taught grammar school in rural Minnesota for several years, she had most recently been a homemaker with two small boys at home. But her husband, Marinus "Renus" Markusen, had contracted tuberculosis and had to close down his planing mill and stop his carpentry work. So, she went to work teaching... Full story

  • On the Mark: Ode to small town cemeteries

    Ann Markusen|Sep 2, 2022

    This morning, we had a visitor. Aaron Aho, the son of the recently deceased Wright resident Marvin Aho, came by to speak with husband Rod Walli about the burial site and interment for Marvin’s father in the Lakeside Cemetery south of Wright. Rod, along with several others from Finnish immigrant families who settled and stayed in Wright, Minnesota, continues to serve on a committee overseeing the cemetery’s care and maintenance and observing rules for purchasing plots, and also locating and int...

  • On the Mark: The joy of jazz

    Ann Markusen|Aug 5, 2022

    Live jazz is a beautiful experience. Last Sunday afternoon, husband Rod and I drove to Dovetail Cafe & Marketplace on West Superior Street in Duluth. My cousin, Beth Wilson – a former choral director at Cloquet High School – and her friend Pete had saved a table for us. It's an intimate space, a long, high-ceilinged room with a beautiful multicolored brick wall running its length. Nursing mugs of hot coffee, we sat within yards of musicians Paul Lerino (keyboard), Rich Mowers (saxophones), Joh...

  • On the Mark: Wrong Days has it all: music, sport and politics

    Ann Markusen|Jul 22, 2022

    It's impossible to take in every pleasure and message at a community festival. Wrong Days in Wright last weekend was as joyful as ever. Arriving early, I watched some energetic softball as I walked the grounds. And later, a vigorous match of volleyball. I enjoyed the parade and my tacos from the food truck. Highlights of the day for me included learning more about the Talon Metals Corporation's proposed plans to build an underground mine in Tamarack that would operate for nine years and... Full story

  • On The Mark: Week in Brazil is a thrill

    Ann Markusen|Jul 8, 2022

    Often, we learn a lot about our own country, state, city and workplaces by sharing experiences with counterparts around the world. In late June, I flew to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, to participate in a weeklong exchange with cultural economists from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries. We last met in Valdivia, Chile, two years ago. The participants in the exchange included professors, researchers and students from many countries, including Portugal, Spain, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and... Full story

  • On the Mark: Cromwell community makeover underway

    Ann Markusen|Jun 3, 2022

    If you’re driving east or west on Minnesota State Highway 210 between Carlton and McGregor over the next few weeks, you’ll be slowed down going through the city of Cromwell. A major makeover of the highway and storm sewer system is in progress, the first of several upgrades that include a better city park with a river walk, improved highway and park lighting, and better sidewalks. Mayor Sharon Zelazny and her city council have worked hard on these projects over the past few years. While the Minn... Full story

  • On The Mark: Music is elixir for gray spring days

    Ann Markusen|May 13, 2022

    It’s been a chilly, damp, dark stretch, from early March through April. The beautiful winter ice for skating melted months ago. Snow for skiing disappeared in bits and drabs. Purple finch and white-throated sparrows have returned, ravenous for sunflower seeds and peanut butter, along with the resident chickadees, woodpeckers and nuthatches. The trilling red-winged blackbirds are turning up too. How have we made it through those dismal weeks? Besides trying out lots of new recipes and l...

  • On the Mark: Students hit stage with song

    Ann Markusen|Apr 15, 2022

    It was an exciting night in the Cromwell-Wright school auditorium last Thursday. It began with 11 of our high school choral students singing their hearts out in solos, duets, and ensembles. The solos included two operatic pieces, both in Italian. Andrea Pocernich sang “Che Fiero Costume,” an Italian aria that furiously castigates Cupid for his machinations as a “tyrannous mentor.” Lithuanian exchange student Augustas Poskus sang the powerful “Vittoria, Mio Core,” celebrating the protagonist... Full story

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