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Cafe Minnesota Restaurants Saint Paul

Golden Thyme Cafe, Bouquets by Carolyn: A Selby Avenue Ramble, St. Paul, MN

The 920 block of Selby Avenue, in St. Paul, MN, is the heart of a neighborhood. Golden Thyme Coffee Cafe , Bouquets by Carolyn, and Obama Campaign Headquarters comingle in this short stretch of brick and mortar between Milton and Chatsworth. “Mayor” Mychael Wright and wife Stephanie, owners of Golden Thyme are prominent figures in the community. The Café is a meeting place and unofficial headquarters for the Selby Avenue Jazz Fest, started in 2002. Mychael has partnered with local organizations, businesses, and schools, offering space at the Café for everything from toy giveaways at Christmas to political stump speeches and African-American-themed movie nights.

Today, there are customers at every table. Two self-proclaimed regulars, Patrick and Henry, are seated on high stools at the front window counter. “Everybody feels relaxed here,” comments Patrick, “it’s a corner of America that is mixed and molded..middle of the road.”

Bob and Mary, from neighboring St. Clements Episcopal, incorporate Golden Thyme into their weekly routine and also that of their church. “We hold meetings here and have started a social action community task force…we want to find more ways for St. Clements to be part of the neighborhood. At one time we were a ‘commuter church’, but that is just not the case anymore- a church should be at the heart of its community,” observes Mary.

At the next table over sits Minnesota Stevie, a musician specializing in everything from jazz and R&B to rap and funk.

There is a steady hum of conversation, business and pleasure. People meeting, people who are neighbors, and those just stopping by.

Bouquets By Carolyn, just across Selby, has been in the current location since 2002, but a business for 22 years. It is the first African-American woman owned floral business in Saint Paul. Carolyn takes time out from a busy morning to chat. She says business is good, better now than during the period of recession. Her grandson is in the shop, helping with orders. She is also the proud grandmother of Olivia Bruce, 17, a student at Duke Ellington School of Art in Washington, DC. Carolyn shows me a photo of Olivia and her mom with President and Mrs. Obama. It turns out that Olivia’s artwork was selected to appear in a White House holiday tour book!

Right next door to Carolyn’s establishment is the temporary home of the St. Paul Obama Campaign. The office manager tells me that they are gearing up for Election Day- clearing space for all the supporters expected to descend upon the office. Volunteer phone banks are in full swing and the volunteer receptionist is a testament to grace under pressure.

In the space of a couple of hours I met over a half-dozen people and heard about neighborhood, family, and community pride. Blogging is a GREAT way to explore community and share what you learn- many thanks to all!

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Minnesota Saint Paul Sculpture Tourism

Weekly Photo Challenge November 2, 2012

Fountain In The Sky

Saint Paul, MN developed a water themed park fronting the Mississippi a few years ago, featuring twin fountains. They look like giant arms atop stoney pillars; water flowing and splashing 20 feet to the earth below. On really hot days you can wade in the pool created beneath, or stand under the cascading stream!

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Minnesota Saint Paul

Weekly Photo Challenge October 19, 2012

While hiking, I heard- then spotted a woodpecker.. by the time I had the camera at the ready- well this is what I shot. At the time I thought I had lost a moment. Turns out, it may be a moment realized?!

Woodpecker Silhouette
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Breweries Parks Restaurants Tourism

Loring Park, Sculpture Garden, & Loring Kitchen & Bar: Minneapolis, MN October 2012

Playing tourist in one’s hometown can be an inexpensive and rewarding junket. On a recent October day, I decided to do just that!

My first destination was the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Strolling through the garden, I checked out art I remembered and new installations of note. Perhaps most recognizable, and photographed, is Claes Oldenburg’s Spoon Bridge and Cherry. On this day I chose to photograph Spoonbridge from non-tourist angles!

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: Spoonbridge and Cherry- a different perspective
Cherry reflecting: another perspective- Spoonbridge and Cherry

My favorite piece, an elaborate canopy of steel, bronze and ceramic, suspended on cast stone pillars, is entitled Prophecy of the Ancients (Brower Hatcher).  Standing beneath it, you are truly transported, from whatever angle you choose to view it.

Adjacent to the garden is Loring Park, easily reached by a walkers bridge that traverses Lyndale Avenue. This day the park was resplendent in October yellows and muted greens. Designed by American landscape architect, Horace Cleveland, the park contains a small lake, and paths for biking and walking. In the center is a wildflower garden, still vibrant, despite some frosty nights. Loring Park hosts a wide range of events, including Gay Pride, one of the largest Pride festivals in the country.

Loring Park

Surrounded by upscale apartments and condos, there are also coffee shops and restaurants within easy walking distance of the park. One of my favorites is Loring Kitchen & Bar. Situated directly across from the park, at 1359 Willow Street, LKB offers an outdoor patio and gorgeous, inviting space with seating for large and small groups. The wide bank of windows fronting the Park, flood the interior with light, yet the feel is all about rich wood and stone. The bar area affords patrons a chance to check out the park and sidewalk scene while enjoying a specialty brew (like local Surly Brewing) or wine from an extensive selection.

On this particular day, I was meeting a friend for lunch. We enjoyed Chipotle hummus and vegies and a delicious Basil Tomato pizza. Mmmm. Many thanks to Manager, Julian Menne, and Host, Lauren Miller for helping to create such a great atmosphere!

As for my next ramble- historic Selby Ave in St. Paul, MN!