Urban Art – Minneapolis

This is another thing I have wanted to do for quite a while. I have a list on my phone that I’ve been accumulating over a number of years of locations where I happened upon urban art. I created a route in Mapquest and hubby agreed to drive me around to them all then let me out so that I could take a photo or two or three so that I didn’t have to park. Some of these locations are very busy and it might be hard to find a place to put the car. So, thank you darling hubby for agreeing to this!

We planned to leave before 10 a.m. on a weekday to avoid the busy traffic times. When hubby looked at my route he figured it would take about 2 hours and he was right! We even added many more as he drove from point to point on my map. Oh wait! That’s cool! Can you turn around please? I’d say about a third of these photos were not on my list. Urban art is so popular and I’ve enjoyed seeing the many works of art throughout the city. So many beautiful images and vibrant colors!

Without further ado, please enjoy some urban art in Minneapolis. In all galleries, click on any photo to see a larger photo and the captions which contain the locations of each mural.

First up, how about some Prince murals? I had two on my list for a long time, one I think might have been the first Prince mural created shortly after he died. It’s the third photo with the dove in his hair. Another I noticed when I was searching online for something else “Oh! I need to capture that one too!” and added it to my route. And yet another was a surprise Prince mural in two pieces.

We saw this en route to another point on my mural map. A bonus Prince mural with a message. These were taken the last week of April and you get an inkling of how much snow we had this winter. This empty parking lot must have been a repository for the streets surrounding it and there are some snow piles still melting! I love how part of the mural is being reflected in the water from melted snow in the first photo.

The next set was this cute little house in front of a fire station. Every side is covered in mosaics and each has a different scene of the four seasons. So cool! And pooey, I cut off the top of the first side of the tiny house. It was a rare sunny day which made it kind of hard to see what I was doing. You can see a fire truck just coming out of the garage in that first photo because as I was taking photos it left the building with its siren blaring.

Next are the many murals on Lyndale Avenue between 31st and Franklin. And this isn’t all of them! Lyndale is a very busy street and a couple murals weren’t terribly accessible. I was happy with what I was able to photograph and we moved on to the next point in the route.

Here are the other murals we happened upon en route from point to point.

These are at the Seward Coop on Franklin. One mural is in English and another language I am not familiar with. I think it’s probably Arabic. The Seward neighborhood where this store resides has a large Somali population so Arabic is a good guess. (Editing to add: one of my followers commented that it might be Somali and that’s probably it.) The other two are mosaics on the poles outside the store with fruits and veggies as the themes. Very creative!

And of course there are Bob Dylan murals. We love our native sons!

Here are the others that were on my original list.

I have a list for St. Paul as well so stay tuned for a post of those photos at some point. Do you have a favorite from this group of mural photos? There are so many good ones!

Here’s one that I took in 2014 of the Schmitt Music mural at 10th and Marquette. The music is from a piano piece written by French composer Maurice Ravel called “Gaspard de la Nuit.” Check out an interesting story about how the mural came about at this link. I didn’t get the entire wall but if you google Schmitt music mural you can see it easily if you so desire.

My featured image is also in Minneapolis but I took that photo some time in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd. Here’s another photo that I took in 2020. I had hoped to find it the day of our “field trip” and take another photo without a person in it but I think it was north on Hennepin when we went south and we didn’t travel that way again. Or it could be that it’s no longer there. I do like the photo as it tells the tale of a day in Minneapolis. The woman might be waiting for a bus.


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Lens Artist Challenge – Still Life

Like so many others have said, this is not something I focus on. But after viewing some other posts I’ve dug into my archives and found some that I think fits this theme. Check out Patti’s post if you’d like to join or just to peruse other entries.

First up from the Minnesota State Fair. We always go to the Agriculture building where there are lovely displays of flowers and other things. This is from the room full of gladiolas. The displays change every couple of days so it’s always fun to go back and see what else is on view.

Paddy pan squash anyone? From the St. Paul farmers market. I haven’t had these in a long time. It’s not quite time to see them in the market but I’m going to try and remember to look for them this year. They are great as kabobs with chicken and other veggies.

Urban art in Barcelona.

Nuts and confections from La Boquería in Barcelona.

From Málaga in southern Spain. That bougainvillea looks rather still don’t you think? One of my favorite photos of Málaga.

Wild black raspberries anyone? Found in my neighborhood on one of my walks. They turn red first and then black.

The best paella I’ve ever had, hands down! From Cafe Varela at the Preciados Hotel in Madrid, España.

Crema catalana in Barcelona for dessert. Oh my, so yummy! Very similar to crème brûlée but maybe a little sweeter and with a galleta (cookie).

And to complete my paella meal, a cafe con leche with my dessert. There is nothing quite like a cafe con leche in Spain.

I know I had a photo of a Spanish courtyard similar to the one in Patti’s post but darn it, I cannot find it! I think my photos here will suffice though. My cover image is from the traveling Van Gogh interactive exhibit.


Filed under Challenges

What’s on your bookshelf?

One of the things on my list for my retirement has been to read more books. And then I happened upon a post from a blog that I follow entitled “what’s on your bookshelf”. It’s a regular monthly post amongst several bloggers who love to read and anyone can join in so I thought I’d log the books I’ve read in the last month and hope to keep it up regularly. As I like to say “a ver lo que pasa” (we’ll see what happens). Good intentions and all that.

And I managed to start this for the March date but never finished so I’m just going to add onto that half-finished post to make it for the April date. And now I know to start this as soon as I finish a book. Because I’m finding that I’m forgetting things about a couple of weeks after finishing a book.

First up, I finally read For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. Hubby and I watched the PBS series in 2021 which inspired me to want to read this book in particular because it takes place in Spain. Hubby got a paperback for me that Christmas, I read the first chapter and never got back to it. I did enjoy the book and I’m glad to have finally read it. It paints a realistic picture of a small piece of the Spanish Civil War. The story takes place over about a week I believe. And of course I knew how the war turned out so I had an inkling it wouldn’t be a happy story, although there were sprinklings of happiness within the story. Another interesting thing is that it appears to have been written with the characters speaking Spanish but you are reading a literal English translation. Por ejemplo (for example), Hemingway writes “the woman of Pablo” to describe Pilar whose partner is Pablo. I’m not sure if they were married but in English we would say “Pablo’s wife” or “Pablo’s partner” or “Pablo’s woman” and not “the woman of Pablo” which is “la mujer de Pablo” in Spanish. There are many of these throughout the book. I’m guessing Hemingway knew Spanish well enough to write the story in this way. Because of this, it was more interesting to me since I speak Spanish. And there are towns in Spain mentioned in the book that I have been to, so many memories came flooding back. It also reflects the Spanish people that feels very realistic. Although I enjoyed it, one thing I noticed is that Hemingway goes into a lot of detail. I found myself wishing some sections weren’t so detailed. I guess I prefer a story that moves right along instead of minute details about this, that or the other thing. And that could be a description of Hemingway in my opinion. I’m glad I finally read this book but I’m not terribly anxious to read more Hemingway and I’m likely in the minority. I guess Hemingway just doesn’t capture my attention like other authors do 🤷‍♀️

Next, I read Maus I and II by Art Spiegelman. I had never heard of Maus until it was banned recently in a Tennessee school district and it was in the news. I wanted to see what the hullabaloo was about. Oh, it’s about the Holocaust. So some Tennessee kids can’t learn about the Holocaust which, for a Jewish person, gives me pause. No, it outrages me!! However, because it caught the attention of several major news outlets, sales of Maus soared on Amazon. Banning books makes people want to read them even more so good luck with your ban on books! Maus is the story of Vladek Spiegelman’s survival of the Holocaust in a graphic novel format and it’s in two parts. Vladek is the author’s father. The first six chapters were published in 1986 as the first book, the next book was published in 1991. And in 1992 it became the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize. It’s very well done with the author interspersing conversations with his father while interviewing him for the book within the story itself so there is a little back and forth from past to present. In the 1940s part of the book Jews are depicted as mice, Polish and German people as pigs and cats. It’s also the story of the relationship between father and son. I was amazed at how lucky and clever Vladek Spiegelman was. For example, there is a scene where Jews were being moved and Vladek was put into a train car with too many people. Upon seeing how many people were in the train car he noticed some hooks above his head, so he made himself a hammock out of a blanket he was carrying. He knew he might have gotten crushed, and many did get crushed, and not have survived that ride had he not thought of making that hammock. I would recommend Maus but keep in mind that the horrors of the Holocaust are on full display. It’s important to know this history so that it’s not repeated. We will never forget!!

I read the second March book by John Lewis about his experiences as an activist for voting rights and civil rights. There are three books in the series and I read the first one a while ago so I don’t remember exactly how it starts. I do remember reading some details of John’s early life in the first book but not much else. And similar to the Maus books, some present day events are interspersed throughout, specifically the inauguration day of our first black president Barack Obama. This trilogy gets great reviews and it’s such important history of the United States that even though I haven’t read the third book, I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a firsthand account of this movement in American history.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood has been in my personal library since the late 80s. I bought it for a class I was taking at the time but then I dropped out of the class and I never read the book. I’ve wanted to read it for many years and I finally did! It’s a dystopian tale where women have no rights and are controlled. A somewhat frightening tale of what could happen when rights are taken away. Here in the U.S. we’ve experienced a bit of this with Roe vs. Wade being overturned by the Supreme Court last year. I hope that this has awakened enough people to get out and vote like their lives depend upon it, because they do! It’s another story that goes back and forth between past and present and it’s written in the first person of a handmaid, a young fertile woman who is placed in a Commander’s house for the sole purpose of producing a child. Commanders were in positions of power and the handmaids take on the name of the Commander in the form of “of warren” or Ofwarren. Warren being the name of the Commander. If the handmaid is moved to another household, she takes on the name of that Commander. An absolutely harrowing tale, to say the least.

I’m really enjoying reading other blog posts from other participants. I’ve gotten so many great ideas for books to read from them and many are on my shelf at my local library. The Muse by Jessie Burton is one of those that I read at the end of March. I absolutely loved this story! It’s another that goes back and forth, this time between 1936 and 1967. I knew at the outset that there would be some connection between the two time periods so I wasn’t surprised when that connection was revealed. But there are some twists within the story that left me stunned! One of the reasons I read this book was because of the connection to Spain. The 1936 part of the story takes place in southern Spain, near Málaga, one of my favorite cities in Spain. It takes place just before the start of the Spanish Civil War and it feels like a realistic picture of the way things were. One of the themes has to do with art and a particular painting where the artist’s demise is unknown, until the end. I’m a lover of art museums so this helped keep me intrigued throughout the book. I also learned a few new things about the story behind a painting that takes a central role in the story, and that it was a fairly popular theme for artists. Towards the end of the book it mentions that, Goya one of my all-time favorite artists, also painted this scene and the painting, Saints Justa and Rufina, is in the Prado in Madrid. I will have to look for that painting when next I’m in Madrid. I love when a story so engages you that you’re sorry to see it end. This is what happened when I finished The Muse. I actually cried at the end! Do read it if you get the chance.

I just finished The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich this week! I see Louise Erdrich in local media a great deal and her books are prominently displayed in bookstores here in the twin cities. I read about this book when it was published in 2020. I’m always interested to learn about various cultures and when I read that the story centered around Native Americans, I knew I wanted to read it. It shows how Native Americans lived in the 50s in the upper midwest. It centers around two main characters, Thomas and Patrice. Thomas is the night watchman at the jewel-bearing plant as well as the tribal chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota, of which the author is a member. His character is based on Louise’s grandfather, Patrick Gourneau, who was also a night watchman. As tribal chairman Thomas is fighting federal legislation that would move the Chippewa off their land and to some unknown place. Patrice is an employee at the jewel-bearing plant (built just outside the reservation) and Thomas’s niece. She is the sole breadwinner for her family and through her life you get the sense of how her family lived on the reservation in North Dakota. I don’t recall if her age is revealed but I would guess about 19-20. The book was a bit slow to start as all the characters are introduced but I was really engaged in the story after those first several chapters. A main theme is how Thomas gathers data and signatures to fight this new legislation, similar to what Louise’s grandfather did. In the afterword section Louise writes this at the very end: Lastly, if you should ever doubt that a series of dry words in a government document can shatter spirits and demolish lives, let this book erase that doubt. Conversely, if you should be of the conviction that we are powerless to change those dry words, let this book give you heart. This was my first book by this author and it left me wanting to read more by her and, in fact, I’ve already placed two more of her books on my shelf for later at my library. Excellent read and highly recommended 👍

I’m currently reading This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel, another that I learned of from the “what’s on your bookshelf” bloggers. This one grabbed my attention from the first chapter. I love the way Ms. Frankel writes.

Speaking of getting ideas of books to read, my spot for A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman is now 19. I started at 49 over a month ago and there are 17 copies in circulation in my local library system. Popular book! I read about this one via the group of bloggers who love to read and post about the books they’ve read once a month. Looking forward to reading that one too.

Credit for my featured image: Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash


Filed under What's on your bookshelf

Nature Photo Challenge – Long-legged birds

This week’s challenge really suits me because I have many photos of long-legged birds! Mostly great blue herons and egrets that I see around my neighborhood when I take my nearly daily walks. I also managed to catch a great blue heron in flight and two egrets in flight and am including those videos below. Note that the great blue heron flies right past a stationary egret as it lands.

If you’d like to join the challenge, or to view other entries, check out Denzil’s post for more details.

Up first is an egret that I managed to catch in flight as well as its reflection.

The next photo is a HUGE great blue heron I saw at my local park. I don’t believe I had ever seen one this large before.

Next is a gallery of great blue herons. You will notice green muck in every photo in this gallery and some in the next gallery. I believe it’s the run-off of chemicals from lawns around this lake at my local park. I read about another lake nearby that cleaned up their muck last year. I keep hoping our town will clean up the muck on our lake but, so far, no luck on the muck cleaning.

A gallery of the “white bird” follows. We love the white bird in our house. So much so that whenever we see an egret one of us calls out “white bird!”. It’s sort of like a good luck thing, and seeing them always brightens my day. They are so beautiful and they spend spring through fall around here. I almost always see one on my walks.

This one deserves to be on its own as it’s one of my favorites of the white bird! He didn’t fly away as I approached which was really nice. Thank you white bird!

And one of a green heron who doesn’t really have long legs but I thought I’d include it anyway. I had never heard of this bird before and a fellow walker at the park saw me photographing a bird and volunteered to show me a green heron. And now I see these all the time.

To close I wanted to share two videos. Okay, these are not photos but seeing these majestic birds in flight is so fun! First is the great blue heron in flight that I mentioned above. The second video is of two egrets in flight. You will notice one egret is in a tree, as the two keep flying but I’m only focusing on one at that point. You see the second one that was also in flight just finish landing as the other one flies out of sight to the right. I count three egrets, wow.


Filed under Challenges

My March recap

Greetings blogosphere! I’m joining another group that posts monthly updates. If you’d like to come along, check out Donna’s post about “What’s been on your calendar?”.

My March has had its ups and downs. First off, I thought that my part-time job was going to end in March. Oh but wait! It’s actually not ending and I don’t know when it will end. I had gone back to the University of Minnesota for the third time in January to help my boss with the budget. When I left last October I had told him that if the market didn’t pick up soon that I’d be looking for another part time job. And he said “don’t look too far! I could use your help with the budget.” My gift from the U from a retirement incentive had run out in December and the market did not pick up so I contacted him and he was overjoyed that I was coming back to help him. He had some other tasks for me as well which filled out my time between January and early March. In the mean time we got a surprise inheritance which means that I don’t really have to work any more but things changed and I’m now covering for someone who is on medical leave. While I don’t really need the money, I felt bad for my boss and decided to stay and help him out again. Luckily I’m limited to 14 hours a week which suits me just fine. I’m hoping to make enough to save for a trip to Spain next spring. Fingers crossed!

Next, on March 9th we celebrated 32 years of marital bliss! Wow, where has all that time gone? We had planned on eating at a restaurant where we celebrated our daughter’s birthday last November. At that time we decided to get a bunch of appetizers and that worked very well. For our anniversary dinner we chose entrees and they weren’t as satisfying as the birthday celebration with appetizers and drinks. However, we did get to try a horseradish infused vodka which was very good! We do like the restaurant but I think we’ll stick to appetizers going forward. I’m not going to name the restaurant, just know it’s a very popular place in St. Paul. Here’s a before and after, our wedding day in 1991 and a few photos of us in D.C. last year. I forgot to ask the waitress to photograph us on our anniversary, oops.

And now I can see that I should probably start this monthly recap early in the month and continue to add onto it during the month because now I’m having trouble remembering all that we did last month. I am doing a lot more reading and I read five books, woo hoo! I’ll be recapping them later this month as part of the monthly “what’s on your bookshelf” posts. I think I read about 5 books total in 2022 so I’m achieving my retirement goal of reading more books. Yay me!

One thing I do remember is that we finally visited The American Swedish Institute. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed a Swedish lunch in their Fika Cafe. A bit spendy (Minnesotan for expensive) but we decided to splurge and get the whole Swedish experience. It was so worth it! Do check out my post if you’re so inclined. Here is one of my favorite fireplaces from that visit.

On the last day of March we were treated to yet another winter storm. I mean, come on!! It’s flipping APRIL already!!! Well, this storm was a doozy in that it was nearly 8 inches of wet, heavy snow which wreaked havoc across the twin cities. We lost power for a couple of hours overnight and 65,000 customers were still without power the morning after the storm.

I looked out my living room window and saw my crabapple tree’s branches touching the ground….Oh wait, that’s not the ground, rather a pile of snow from our record-breaking snowfall this season, so let me start over. My crabapple’s tree branches were touching the snow pile in my front yard as well as my husband’s truck. Normally the branches above his truck are about five feet up. Not on April 1st!! Boy howdy. I sat down to reply to an email and as I was writing I heard a huge crack and then saw snow flying about. And I got up to see my beautiful crabapple tree cracked. I doubt it can be saved but we did notice the branches hanging onto the truck sprang back up during the day as the snow melted, so that part of the tree appears to look normal. I think we’ll get a couple of arborists to look at it and then decide what we want to do. Our neighbor across the street has a chainsaw so maybe we can enlist his help (again) to remove what will become a dead part of the tree. Years ago a piece of our maple tree fell over in a thunderstorm and here was our neighbor with his chainsaw to clean up. We didn’t even ask him! So wonderful to have nice neighbors. Here are a few photos from first thing in the morning and then later in the day after the snow began to melt. Click on any photo to open the gallery and see captions on the photos.

I wish I had photos of this year’s lovely spring blooms, alas, that will have to wait until all this snow melts again. We had a little warm-up the last week of March and could actually see a lot of grass in our backyard!! We haven’t seen that in months. It’s supposed to be above freezing for the next 10 days and even get into the FIFTIES!?!?!?!? I don’t think we’ve seen temps in the 50s since at least last November so we are much looking forward to that, that is as long as that forecast rings true.

I will leave you with one photo of a bleeding heart which is among the plants that blooms in early spring. Still waiting for spring in the frozen tundra……


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Lens-Artist Photo Challenge – Spring

As most people know, I live in the frozen tundra of the twin cities. As such you might also know that even though the calendar might say it’s spring this week, you sure cannot tell when you look out the window. We had a record-breaking amount of snow this season and, well, it’s still everywhere! At least a foot of it is still on the ground, except for the huge piles in parking lots. But the sun is shining today and I’ve always said “whenever the sun shines in Minnesota, it’s a nice day!” And, temps for the next 10 days are predicted to be above freezing! Whee!! But, enough about that. We’re anxiously awaiting spring and this week’s challenge poses a nice option to engulf myself in photos of spring. Here’s a gallery of some of my favorite spring photos from past years that I hope you will enjoy. My cover photo is the waterfall at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park from last May.

If you would like to jump in or to view others’ posts, do check out Sofia’s post about this week’s challenge.


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The American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis

I’ve been wanting to visit the American Swedish Institute for many years and finally the stars aligned and hubby and I went this week shortly after they opened in the morning. What an immense house with beautiful woodwork, stained glass and many beautiful and unique fireplaces. It was once owned by and built for Swan Turnblad, owner of the largest Swedish-language newspaper in the U.S. According to ASI’s website, there are 11 tile stoves that were imported from Sweden. Each one is a different color and style and they are just beautiful. A volunteer told us a story about a picture in one of these stoves. It’s of Carlos V (or Charles the 5th) of Spain with the king of Sweden making some sort of deal. The king of Sweden is tossing a paper into the fire to indicate their oral agreement, that they didn’t need to sign a contract. A very beautiful fireplace, and especially due to the picture. Look for it in the gallery below.

Apparently there isn’t a whole lot that is known about the Turnblad family. Not many mementos were left in the house. Here is some of what is known. Swan Turnblad and his wife Christina immigrated to the United States from Sweden when they were children in 1868 and 1876. They married in 1883 and had one child, Lillian, who was born in 1884. Swan was the owner of Svenska Amerikanska Posten, the largest Swedish-language newspaper in the U.S. But one of the volunteers indicated that Swan couldn’t possibly have made enough money from the newspaper to afford building his mansion on Park Avenue in Minneapolis. This volunteer suggested he may have been involved in some under-the-table type dealings which made him more money.

The mansion was built between 1904 and 1908, designed by Minneapolis architects Christopher Boehme and Victor Cordella. The family only lived there a few years before donating it in 1929 to become ASI. It is believed that their apartment above the newspaper’s offices was their main residence, despite having owned the mansion for 20 years.

If you park in the free lot at 27th and Park, you enter a modern building, the Nelson Cultural Center, and that is connected to the mansion. In front of the counter where you buy entry tickets is the Fika Cafe where we had a nice lunch after touring the mansion. There was a glass exhibit, Fluidity, with displays throughout the house. You’ll see a few of these in my photo galleries. You could start the exhibit in the Nelson Cultural Center and continue throughout the house. We enjoyed both the mansion and the many glass exhibits and I’m so glad I finally got to the American Swedish Institute! It was a fun adventure to the other side of the river.

Below is a gallery of some photos that I took with some captions. I hope you will enjoy! First, a gallery of the house and a separate gallery for the glass sculptures will follow, though you will see some sculptures in my photos of the house.

A smaller gallery with some of the glass sculptures we saw.

I had hoped to visit during the holidays as I understand the decorations are wonderful. Perhaps we’ll make it for 2023’s holidays. Something to look forward to! If you’re in Minneapolis, do pay a visit to this beautiful place. Pretty sure you won’t be disappointed. Here’s a link to their website for more information:

American Swedish Institute


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