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Friday, May 30, 2014


While daffodils and tulips may be the early heralds of spring, for me it is the lilac that makes it official.  They are definitely one of my favorite flowers in the spring, and I love their fragrant blooms that refresh my spirit and always put me in a relaxed and pleasant mood. 

Lilac bushes . . .

. . . line the sidewalks of Uptown.

Here in Minnesota our lilac bushes usually bloom in late April through early May, although this year they are blooming quite late.  We are past Memorial Day and the Lilacs bushes are just now coming into full bloom.

I’m actually pretty excited about the late blooming this year as now the lilacs are bridging the seasons as we head toward summer.  Lilacs have always been one of my favorite spring flowers, and now their beautiful fragrant blooms not only fill my room, but carry me into the summer fun ahead.

I am thinking of the lilac-trees,
  That shook their purple plumes,
And when the sash was open,
  Shed fragrance through the room.
Mrs. Anna S. Stephens—The Old Apple-Tree

Monday, May 26, 2014


For over 140 years, beginning after the Civil War, Americans have been decorating the graves of individuals who have died in service of their country.  Originally known as Decoration Day, we now know and celebrate this holiday as Memorial Day, and for many it is the unofficial start of summer.  Several monuments honoring our service men are located in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood where I live.

At Lakewood Cemetery.

This monument commemorates the members of the Grand Army of the Republic.

The Fraternal Order of the Elk counted many servicemen among it's members.

The Soldier's Memorial is a triptych that honors servicemen . . .

. . . from World War I . . .

. . . the Civil War . . .

. . . and the Spanish American War . . .

At Lake Calhoun.

Lake Calhoun is home to this monument honoring members of 
the Marine Corps during World War I. 

The bell from the U.S.S. Minneapolis, a navy cruiser that was in service from 1894-1921, 
is also located at Lake Calhoun.  Two later ships have also carried this name.

Although this day originally remembered and honored those who died in the Civil War, by the twentieth century it came to recognize all Americans who died in military service.  As we transition into summer, please take a moment to remember these brave men and women.

Friday, May 23, 2014


As summer unofficially begins this weekend, take time to bask in the healing powers of the lakes.  You will be transformed!

"As I sleep, as I sleep, oh, keep my body whole.  
Heal me deep, Heal me deep within my blood and soul.
 Let me rest upon your waters, Lake of Mercy, precious friend.  
Rock me softly in the mid-night wind and make me whole again."

Bret Hesla

Monday, May 19, 2014


Each spring the trees show up in all of their prep glory; resplendent in shades of pink and green.

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

Anais Nin

Friday, May 16, 2014


Last Friday, the American Swedish Institute kicked off its 2014 Cocktails At The Castle series.  This is a new series that the ASI began last year and there were three events held from spring through fall.  This year’s debut event was in celebration of Europe Day.

The line waiting to get into the event . . . 

. . . wound around the block.

This woodcarver demonstrated how to traditionally make wooden bowls.

The evening provided several activities throughout the Visitor’s Center, the Turnblad Mansion (Castle), and on the lawns.  Music was once again provided by The Current, a local radio station, and included live music from local band, Still Pacific, along with a European-inspired dance party from DJ Jake Ruhd.

This was much harder than it looked.

Two young artists worked together to create a painting 
based on the energy of the evening.

Once again the “Castle” played host to a sell-out crowd of 2000 people, which attests to the quality and popularity of these events.  Guests had the opportunity to dine on food and drink provided the FIKA, the ASI’s restaurant, as well as specialty cocktails from Får North Spirits, and beer from Indeed Brewing!

Some of the amazing paper cuttings.

Our ship came in.

Pick up Ping Pong games!

Music from an accordion and a saw!


Drinking games were provided out on the lawn courtesy of the Germanic American Institute, while ping-pong challenges were taking place on the second floor of the Visitor’s Center.  Another popular activity was the (washable) “tattoo parlor” provided by the students of Gustavus Adolphus College, with wait times of an hour or more.

This juggling clown entertained throughout the evening.

My friend Marisa had way too much fun in the book making room.

Folks getting dressed up for the Snap Yourself photo opportunity.

The castle by night.

Next door to the “tattoo parlor,” guests were invited to do paper crafts such as making buttons, and matchbook-styled note pads, while youthful ballerinas dance both inside and outside of the castle.

Some of the 2000 people in attendance.

The painting progressed nicely throughout the evening.

The castle itself, hosted two excellent art exhibts.  First, the evening served as a soft opening of Love Norway X: Installations by Ian Ward Garlant.  The artist joined us for the evening, and I have to say that this must-see exhibit was truly amazing!!!  The evening also highlighted one of the final opportunities to see Papercut! The Incredible Psaligraphy of Karen Bit Vejle.  The intricate delicacies of these papercuts were truly spectacular!

As always, Cocktails At The Castle was a wonderful evening.  The quality of these events is first rate, and never disappoints.  Their next event in this series will be in August.  Be sure to watch their website for more information, and get your tickets early.  These are not-to-be-missed evenings.