Seasonal Non-Affective Disorder

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This is Minnesota right now. We’ve had nearly 50 inches of snow near the Twin Cities, and it’s in the negative digits. Everyone is whining about the long, brutally cold winter, and yet, I am the strange one. Cold doesn’t bother me. Snow is only an issue if I have to commute. I like layers. I like “bundling up.” I love soup. I adore cute boots. And I never tire of the winter routine. Perhaps this Kansas girl is still in love with her adopted state. Just a guess.

Afternoon at the Weisman

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Husband and I made a stop at the Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota campus this afternoon to check out Mohamed Mumin’s exhibit, The Youth/Dhallinyarada, a portrait series of 13 Somalian-American men. Stunning.

This is day 356 of Photo 365

Minnesota marriage

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Today the Minnesota Senate passed a gay marriage bill, making Minnesota the 12th state to do so. Tomorrow Governor Mark Dayton will sign the bill into law.

In celebration of the bill most assumed would pass, Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman had these flags placed on the Wabasha Street Bridge today and declared the bridge the “Freedom to Marry Bridge” for the week.

The Twitterverse lit up this afternoon in celebration of the passage. One tweet that made me pause was a statement that went something along the lines of, “Proud of my state. Proud my daughter will never know marrying someone you love was once illegal.”

This is day 133 of Photo 365.

Baby, it’s cold outside

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Today was the start of wind chills in the negative digits. It doesn’t matter if it feels like -10 or -30. Cold is cold, which is why I stayed home today. This chair is perched on our rooftop deck, obviously waiting for warmer weather.

Day 20 of Photo 365.

Carousel

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The Mall of America can be a sanctuary in the middle of a Minnesota winter day. The stores are built around a full-fledged kiddie amusement park, complete with a roller coaster, water ride and Ferris wheel. Since I work nearby, I sometimes like to visit the park over lunch to take in the warmth, sounds of children at play, and light filtering in through the skylights above. This carousel is a favorite, and day eight of my Photo 365 project.

Photo 365

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My friend Mykl proposed a 2013 photo-a-day project on Facebook, which intrigued me. I did a photo-a-day project several years back for one month, and it was challenging and equally fun.

So I’ve joined the project and know that posting to my blog will inspire me to write more, shoot more, and share more, using predominately mobile devices. Those are my quasi-New Year’s resolutions.

And today is the mundane – part of my breakfast, actually. Husband and I spent the weekend in Duluth, Minnesota, and fell in love with the breakfasts at Duluth Grill (the same grill featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives). Adhering to a vegan lifestyle can make travel a challenge, but Duluth has a host of restaurants with vegan selections, and Duluth Grill is a rock star for organic or locally grown food with plenty of vegan options.

My first picture of Photo 365 is “Red Hash” as it’s listed on the menu at Duluth Grill. The melody of pan seared sweet potatoes, beets, caramelized onions and green peppers is divine.

Finding home. Again.

Every so often I wander from Minnesota to northeast Kansas, the corner where I was born and raised. I’m convinced Kansas will forever be known as the Land of Oz – flat, dusty and full of farms with Auntie Em making pie in the kitchen. While the farms and dust are reality, the typography of northeast Kansas is anything but flat. Gentle rolling hills of golden pastures are sprinkled with windmills and grazing horses.

A former co-worker and friend has been blogging about the concept of “home” at Stories She Tells. Her personal self discoveries about moving from state to state continuously as a child are thought-provoking for me. Each of her blog posts make me contemplate about what I consider “home” to be, now as an adult.

I left Kansas for college at 18 and have only been a resident over long weekend visits. There is both strangeness and familiarity when you return to an area you haven’t visited in a long while. Over the Christmas holiday I went to my parents house with the premise of Stories She Tells in my head. The barn where I did chores nearly every morning is very familiar. The downtown streets I walked every day after school? Strange.

One of the familiar places I like to visit is Little Stranger Church, a clapboard structure one mile up the gravel road from where I grew up. Built in 1867, it has severely decayed over the years, although I firmly believe the hand of God Himself has prevented a tornado from taking it away. It has a scattering of families in the cemetery grounds, some who lost all of their children the same year from typhoid fever or influenza.

Little Stranger Church is a place of peace. I also believe it’s a culmination of what Kansas really is. Kansas is worn, battered by wind, peppered with history and filled with common people who live to be 95 or die as children. Kansas is a neutral tone, never offensive, but wise beyond her years. Living in a fast-paced, big city can sometimes put you on auto pilot, and going back to a familiar yet strange place is grounding. My home is in the big city. But I would wager that not many city kids appreciate natural prairie grass and clapboard churches like I do.