Weekly Photo Challenge November 9th Renewal

Perhaps I am cheating on this one?? Renewal, for me, means quitting my serious job at age 54 and doing things I really want to do! I created a photo collage.

In the photo: me, at age 7 (lots of ideas!), the sea turtle (my honu friend), photo cards from W7th Freelance, a children’s book (currently selling at somewhere around 1,250,300 on Amazon.com- guess I have some work to do on THAT project), and some shots of amazing children I met a few weeks ago while on a job…

This is renewal..

RENEWAL

WWII, Dad, MN History Center and Discovery

The plane seems to pitch and roll, noise fills the interior and the shouts of the men are deafening. Enemy fire tears holes in the cabin. We are hit! Flames leap past the windows. A green light guides them to their destiny. Jump! Jump now!

A voice covers a new silence, informing me that all but two perished that day.

I am sitting inside a replica of a WWII Douglas C-47 Skytrain. The faces and voices are real, the effect stunning and emotional. For me, this is the core experience of the Minnesota History Center exhibit, Minnesota’s Greatest Generation.

It resonates on a personal level; my father served in the 19th General Hospital (Rochester, NY) in the European Theater. I realize there are quite a few people like me; children of WWII vets, born later in life perhaps. We learn about our parents through family artifacts, books, letters and exhibits, such as the one at the History Center. My dad did not speak of his WWII.

Tragically, we lost touch when I was 28; his mind captured by a different sort of enemy: Alzheimer’s. I had not begun to formulate, or even imagine, the questions I would later want to ask.

The Minnesota History Center is perched on a hillside overlooking downtown St. Paul. Intersected by streets that also lead visitors to the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Minnesota State Capital, it provides sweeping panoramas from its expansive windows.

The Generations exhibit covers birth, the growing up years, the cultural influences of the times, and what society looked like after the war: the boomers…

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Via the Minnesota Historical Society, a portal opens to over two dozen historic sites across the state. From the History Center to Split Rock Light House and Jeffers Petroglyphs, or living history at Oliver H Kelley Farm; the story of Minnesota unfolds.

For me, my visit inspires me to continue the project of reading and archiving my father’s letters and memorabilia. He and I have a great deal of catching up to do.

November 9, 2012

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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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!

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!

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