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Bad Cat Creations
Coffee with sugar, a particular routine, a pack of cats, confident, all on her own terms… She is never shy with her smiles and I found her easy to talk to. She doesn’t want you to get the wrong impression- she isn’t soft she may even be gritty- tattoos, dark edgy hair, and a dress style you can’t just buy off the rack. However, I saw a soft side too (look at the picture of her holding her cat), she is kind and seemed loyal and honest. Fun, quirky, a robust true laugh… things I took with me after meeting Christina.
May I introduce you to Christina:
I was born in 1981 in Copenhagen, Denmark to an Icelandic Mother and a Minnesotan Father. I spent my first few years of life in the tiny farming town of Ogilvie, MN and moved with my widowed Mother to Bemidji around the age of 3. My Mom eventually remarried to a hot-rod mechanic and we moved to the outskirts of Bemidji to an old two story log home built in the 1930’s by my Dad’s maternal grandparents. We had no next door neighbors and I had no siblings, often feeling alone and stranded in the middle of the Chippewa National Forest, my imagination took hold.
As a child I would wonder through the woods surrounding our house, often playing a story or a character in my head, with my trusty yellow lab, Susie, by my side. Some days I was a princess, captured by an evil queen, some days I was a pirate on a treasure hunt for lost gold (which happened to be my play jewelry I would ask my Mom to hide and then diagram a map for me to follow). I picked flowers for my family, collected rocks for my collection, and danced within fairy rings. My Mom embraced art in our lives, and we were always trying new creative avenues. I loved playing with paints, stringing beads and listening to music (of all genres). All in all, a creative and fun childhood.
Growing older, I began to resent being stuck in the woods, far from friends and things to do. We did at times live in town in a home we owned, but always ended up heading back out to our home in the woods for freedom and the stillness. As years went by and I became a teenager my need to leave grew more and more. I couldn’t wait to get out and live my life, discover who I was as I often felt stifled here.
When I was 20, I packed my bags and left for Minneapolis, I was never coming back.
While living in Minneapolis, wanting to find who I was, I realized I had always known who I was. What I was missing was my voice.
Art had always been a coveted dream in my mind, something I loved and had been striving for. I wanted to be an Artist. I told myself time and time again I would never be an Artist because I couldn’t draw or paint the things I saw in my head. It would break my heart over and over. While working at a shop in Minneapolis that sold jewelry making supplies, I pursued jewelry techniques as I had enjoyed making rather primitive jewelry as a child. It all seemed to come so naturally to me. I would spend all day working at the store, building ideas for jewelry in my mind, to get home late at night and pull together the small jewelry kit I had assembled for myself and work and re-work old jewelry. One night, inspired by pendants that were given to me by a customer at my job that day, I got up in the middle of the night with an idea of what should be done with those pendants. I was too afraid to lose the idea in my sleep. After a couple hours of stranding and link working I held up my finished necklace and said ‘YES! This is exactly how I saw it in my head!” That would later come to be my first “Aha moment”. I realized that maybe I couldn’t draw or paint the images in my head, but I had found MY medium for creation and my voice as an Artist.
It was soon after that, when my jewelry box was over flowing, as well as my friend’s and family’s, that I decided it was time to take it to the next level and start my business. Bad Cat Creations was born in 2002.
After 3 years in Minneapolis, I grew weary of the constant stream of noise and distractions. I missed the sounds of loons and crickets at night, having never become accustom to the sirens and noise of the city. The end of that last year could not come soon enough. I bought my home (a small mobile home) and moved it out onto my family’s property. Still unsure of where I wanted my life to go, after a year I closed up the house and headed to Pennsylvania to get a degree in special effects make-up. I don’t know if getting that degree and moving to Hollywood was ever a real goal in my mind, but at the end of my schooling, just about to graduate I realized it was not the industry for me. So, still not wanting to “go home” I headed to Arizona and started working for the Renaissance Festival, looking for new experiences and travel. Those first few months of life in the Southwest left me feeling unhappy and a little lost. When in conversation with one of my closest friends, she asked “if special effects doesn’t make you happy, then what does make you happy?” Without hesitation I said “I love doing my jewelry designs!” This was my second “Aha moment”.
With new determination, as well as wanting to be close to my family, I returned to Bemidji for the final time and began the journey to fulfill my dream.
I began to see Bemidji with new eyes and a new place of promise. Feeling secure and free in my little home in the woods, taking in all the beauty around me in my own yard that I seemed to have missed before, I pushed myself to pull inspiration from all my experiences and travels. Pursing art festival after art festival, toting my wears, telling my story and meeting fellow artisans and new artists looking for advice on how to “get started” selling goods, a brainstorm started brewing.
Having always had the dream to own my own store, I decided I would not waste anymore time simply dreaming of it. I would make it happen. I had decided I would not only follow my dreams, but I would chase them down and make them my reality! And if I could help other artists along the way, and bring new and different products to my community- I would do it, and do it with a smile.
I often joke that opening my shop was purely a selfish dream, I wanted a fun little boutique like the ones I loved in Minneapolis and other places in my travels, and if no one else was going to do it, then I would! But in actuality, I wanted to fully embrace my community and help it grow into the artist community it is blossoming into. I began to meet wonderful people, and find new love of old places I had once never given a second glance too. I love that I can walk through my downtown area and encounter friendly strangers and smiling friends. I love the strong sense of community, and the feeling that if we can be a strong community, then we too, as individuals, are strong.
I have some serious pride of my town Bemidji. It is a fun, warm, loving, and creative community. I often wonder how I didn’t see these things before, but I don’t spend too many precious moments thinking of the past, wanting to savor every moment enjoying the present and dreaming of the future.
Filming “Common Ground”
North East of Bemidji
Ashley was the one to contact me. She asked me if I would take part in her LPTV show Common Ground. I was so new into my project this prospect made me nervous. We met and discussed the possibility at a downtown coffee shop. When we left I was going to take part in Ashley’s show and she was going to participate in my project. She would be filming me taking pics of someone and I in turn would take pics of her filming someone,a very snake eating it’s own tail tale. What I learned is Ashley is learning to live in the Greater North. Brought here temporarily for a job, she is staying for reasons not listed in the travel brochure.
This is Ashley:
I was offered a job, I was moving to a new city! Life, as I knew it, was great! I received a packet in the mail from the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce, including ALL the information I needed to know about the city of Bemidji. Sure, the temperature looked colder…. and my friend’s eye’s nearly bugged out their heads when they saw 50 below in all of that information…but, it never really impacted me?
I guess, a naïve Ohio girl had never felt 50 below, so it was no big shake. I was ready!
On my 24th birthday, I loaded up my car and headed North with my mother by my side! As we passed each state line, my excitement grew! By the time we reached Motley, (next day) it was 8 p.m. and my excitement flew out the window somewhere on Highway 10. Where in the heck is this place, Bemidji? After two angels assured us we were headed in the right direction, we finally reached our destination!
The cold, winter months drug on, but I was reporting for Lakeland News at Ten and meeting several key community members! I was driving on the ice with a vehicle to cover stories with the DNR, which was shocking to me! I was watching Ice Rescue Searches with the local emergency departments. I covered Logging Days, an annual tradition in Bemidji. I watched two police officers in training, get zapped by the tazer gun. This process was all part of their training. They did ask if I wanted to be zapped too- now if that isn’t Minnesota Nice, I don’t know what is? I politely declined to be zapped! I watched winter blow away and summer swarm in with mosquitoes. I vividly remember ducking to the ground, thinking a pterodactyl was flying overhead! Thankfully, the mosquitoes don’t like me.
Soon, I met a great friend, who insisted on keeping me here. So I agreed when she asked me to meet a new guy, who had just moved to town too! Things were great- I was new to Bemidji and he was new to Bemidji. We were learning what this town has to offer, together! I became obsessed with the outdoors! I began to learn of the vast trail system. I was bike riding, running, swimming in the lakes and enjoying life in the North Country. We savored the summer days until winter blew in again and I was offered a job to leave, a morning anchor position, at a TV station in Wisconsin. I visited the small Wisconsin town, I even interviewed for the job, which was offered to me. After a lot of tears, many long conversations, a list of pros and cons, I decided this is my town! Bemidji, the last place on earth I thought I’d be living! Now granted, my love interest, Dale Turner had a lot to do with my decision to stay, but thankfully, I’ve never regretted staying here!
Bemidji is a unique place. It’s a close-knit community that thrives on togetherness. Whether it be volunteerism, community events, or a night out on the town we do it together. You see the same faces everywhere you go and to me, that’s ok! I enjoy the small town feel of Bemidji. I cannot believe the vast appreciation for non-profits! There are even businesses that allow you to volunteer your time, during the workday. Not too many other cities, especially larger ones, would be so willing to let employees reach out to their communities to lend a helping hand! I think it is awesome, I can say I live in a town that thrives on community!
Working for Lakeland Public Television for the past four years, I have learned just how important all non-profit organizations are to this area. Through my line of work, I have been fortunate to work within the Bemidji community and surrounding communities. Many communities rely on Bemidji, as it is the closest “city” to most of their towns. Not only do they rely on Bemidji for shopping, but for entertainment. We have a great venue for performance, art and outdoors! I have learned a great deal about the arts of northern Minnesota from a new show that I produce and host on Lakeland Public Television called Common Ground. Common Ground is a weekly series that highlights northern and central Minnesota. We explore the worlds of art, history and culture right here in the North Country! Meeting such talent in my very own community is such an adventure! The people of Northern Minnesota are great and the community I have learned to accept as my own is priceless! I have thoroughly enjoyed my 4 years in the Bemidji area and plan to call this place home for a very long time!
I could never have imagined the lifelong memories I have created here in Bemidji, MN. I now love the outdoors, have a new appreciation for the arts and thoroughly enjoy taking an active part in my community! Lastly, I should tell you there was some information missing from that very first packet I received from the Chamber of Commerce. It failed to mention, I would find love and lasting friendships here in Bemidji, MN. It’s for those reasons, I call Bemidji, home.
I had just finished a meeting downtown. A truck with a trailer pulled up and parked as I crossed the street heading toward my vehicle. The emblem on the side resembled that of a super hero, and maybe Kirby (The Bike Guy) is a super hero, at least in the world of bikers. Kirby grew tired of trying to make a living and decided to try to earn money doing what he liked instead. This decision seems to have served him well. Mobile bike repair with same or next day service is something this town obviously needed. But there is a man behind the business
Meet Kirby H. (aka The Bike Guy):
Water, pine trees, wood smoke and ‘smores, that was the beginning of my personal Bemidji. I guess I am lucky that my parents loved to camp. When I was a kid the word “Bemidji” was magic. I have heard it said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but to an eight year old growing up in the middle of the Red River Valley, the word “Bemidji” conjured up a thousand pictures. Here a few words about my town, you will have to fill in your pictures yourself.
Summer, the camping was in the summer (and still is for my wife, kids and I) but since I arrived here in 1997 summer has grown into more than I could even have dreamt it would. I love to fish, enough said about that. Really, I love too many fun summer things to even start listing them, so I will list the fun Bemidji things I don’t do: rollerblading on the bike trail (no time), windsurfing (but my friend, Drew, is going to teach me this summer) and Muskie fishing (not enough patience). That’s it.
Fall, okay the smell of the leaves on a damp morning – I will never be able to put that into words so I won’t even try. My dog helping me find birds is the highlight for me, my wife prefers to round up her friends and head to “Girls Deer Camp.” When our kids were younger they loved to rake leaves into a big pile and bury each other (wait a minute, they still do!), the pumpkin patch, “Spooky Dinner” (our annual Halloween bash for the kids, their friends and our friends) late season walleye fishing on the Rainey, bow hunting, late season mtn. bike rides on 60 degree days in November, and finally the first snow arrives!!!
Winter, I would call it “the best season of all” but that would just not be fair to the other three. At Buena Vista Ski Area I fell in love with skiing the minute my oldest brother, Mark, rode a chairlift to the top with me and said “See you at the bottom!” I became and addict, I would beg, borrow and steal rides with my friends and their families, I signed up for any and all denominations that were sending a bus for the weekend, any way I could get there was fair game. On church trips we slept in the train cars that still sit in the Logging Village; those hot/cold then hot/cold bunks are where I left some of my best nights of sleep, ever. I could not believe it when, in the fall of 2005, Liz Letson called me and asked me to run the rental shop (I had managed a ski/bike service shop in Grand Forks when I was in college, so I knew the biz backwards and forwards). I tried to act cool but I think they saw the excitement in me in the first five minutes. I loved every minute of it (if you can figure out how to bottle the energy of two hundred school kids that just rode a bus two hours to get there, you will be a billionaire) but I am leaving to run my own business; I am still going to Ski Patrol but I will miss being a bigger part of the experience that people have there.
Spring, everything comes to a stop, slush turns into mud, then it snows again, then that turns in to mud; all on its own schedule with no regard for what us lowly humans want to get done. It is fun to drill holes in the trees and get the main ingredient for syrup out, but other than that I have come to appreciate the “shoulder” time of early spring. Spring gives a person time to transition from one season’s toys to the next. I get our winter gear stowed and roll out the bikes and boat for a little TLC. Relining the fishing rods and finding the life jackets means it is time to look forward to another summer and the circle begins again.