Category: Portraits

This is Ralph in his greenhouseHad a client this morningRalph wanted me to pick out some plants from his Dahlia collectionThis is Ralph trying to find me more plants for my garden.Ralph's gifts to me this morningRalph's plants on my deck

Meet Ralph my 82 year old friend. He lives for his gardening all Spring and Summer.


Joan made my day.  I was on the ground taking photos, she approached me with a smile and said “hello”.  I said “hello” back and asked how she’s doing.  She replied “Well, I’m not much for photos, but I sure love to come here and see all the smiling faces that these flowers bring to people”.  She said, it made her smile to see others smile, so cute!  I continued taking photos as she strolled by, forgot about Joan as I was on the ground eating dirt as I usually do trying to capture my lovelies.  A while later I looked around to see where I should photograph next.  There was Joan sitting on a bench watching the people.  She was just smiling, enjoying the day.  I walked over to her, set my camera bag down and asked her if she’s from around here.  Said she had an option to live in warm sunny Florida or Cold Minnesota, says she opted for Minnesota because Florida doesn’t have any trees and she loves trees!  I showed her some of the photos I had taken, she loved them. I told Joan about the huge Oak she should see that sits on the hill. She asked me my name and said she felt bad cause she has a bad memory and would never be able to remember my name again. I told her it’s Marina like a boat dock, she laughed and says “yes, I will remember that you take photos and that your name is like a boat dock”  We laughed, she thought that was humorous.

A while after leaving the area where I was chatting with Joan, I was once again taking photos on the ground and I heard someone loudly say “Hey”, “Hey, I know you”.  It was Joan across one of the gardens, standing there with her was her relatives.  They looked at her as if she lost her mind.  She says you’re the photographer.  She says I have to ask you a question, so I walked over to her.  She asked what I do with all my photos?  I shared that I create greeting cards, turn them into big canvas photos, frame and matted photos.  Her daughter asked if I would give them my name so they can google search me, they were so sweet.

Joan made my day 🙂

I continued taking photos, Joan left


Meet Joan, she made my day!

4-18-2012 Today I met a man named Ralph, this is his house.

Ralph lives in this house with his 81 year old sister in West Saint Paul, Ralph is 82. He was born here and grew up here. His grandfather built this house. He’s a retired Electrician. His father was a carpenter and grandfather worked at the Saint Paul Stockyards back in the day.

These days Ralph puts everything into his luscious spring and summer gardens. He has an impressive greenhouse on left side of the photo you can see a little bit of the greenhouse. Ralph attends St. Joe’s church down the street from where he lives.

I have driven by this house thousands of times in my almost 20 years or working and living on the West Side. I admire his gardens from afar. Today as I drove past his house on my way to drop off pictures to Cherokee Church for the exhibit, he was outside. I wanted to photograph his gardens for years, but hadn’t the nerve to ask.

Today I drove up his driveway, introduced myself, he was very welcoming and friendly, sort of. I asked if I could photograph his flowers he looked confused so I offered info about my love for flowers and neighborhood flower photo capturing. Ralph smiled and pointed to his head and said “you must have something special up here to know how to do that” he was referring to my photo capturing. I told him, I don’t know about that, I just love to take photos. I told him I would have to return as I would have to go home to get my camera. When I returned he showed me around his gardens, and the greenhouse. He’s such a sweet man.

He asked me if I go to church, we talked about church for a bit, I showed him flower albums on my cell phone which he did not know how to use. I then showed him a video on my cell of TD Jakes, I told him he’s very inspirational, he asked if it was television I explained that it was the internet. He was very impressed. He says “Isn’t that something” He had a tough time sliding the photos on my iPhone, he thought he’d have to push hard to get them to slide. When he finally got it, he smiled.

He asked if I would like some of his plants in his greenhouse and fruits and vegetables as seedlings or when they come up as he gives most of it away. Are you kidding!!! I was jumping up and down inside, Marina Loves plants!!!! Free plants grown by Ralph, he has quite the extensive greenhouse, I offered to help him in his garden for trade, he said, not necessary he’s happy to gift me whatever I want :). He started naming some of the plants he wants to give me so he said I would have to make room for some cause they get pretty big 🙂

We had such a great conversation about the work he used to do, about Sam cause he saw one of Sam’s pix as he was sliding through the flowers, Sibley, Stockyards, Flowers, Gardening, Life.

He has a Virgin mary statue in one of his gardens surrounded by Tulips. He says he placed it there 50 years ago. it has a hole in the back, says a kid through a rock at it and made a perfect hole. Dumb kids! Around the statue he has marbles in a circular arrangement. he asked if I notice he strategically placed them to look like a rosary that ends in a silver cross with Jesus on it. Ralph is quite creative.

Sometimes I think we forget that the elderly have so much to teach us and that they can inspire us, and that they need conversation just as much as we do. I would go to the retirement home, spend a lot of time with them, however, I’m a big baby and I would probably leave crying all the time cause they remind me of my grandmother whom I miss. She’s 97 this year.

Ralph seemed apprehensive at first when I asked to photograph his flowers. Now I think he sees the passion he has for flowers in this Mexicana. Maybe he’s never even met a Mexicana before? Just sayin 🙂 He told me he could see that I was passionate about my photography and flowers and appreciated that I appreciate his work in his garden.

Ralph my new friend 🙂

Happy Cinco De Mayo

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe. The leader of the Lakota Dakota Nakota Oyate, the great Sioux nation, is a man with a vision.
A Great Urgency: To All World Religious and Spiritual Leaders

My Relatives,

Time has come to speak to the hearts of our Nations and their Leaders. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, to come together from the Spirit of your Nations in prayer.

We, from the heart of Turtle Island, have a great message for the World; we are guided to speak from all the White Animals showing their sacred color, which have been signs for us to pray for the sacred life of all things.

The dangers we are faced with at this time are not of spirit, mistakes that we cannot afford to continue to make.

I asked, as Spiritual Leaders, that we join together, united in prayer with the whole of our Global Communities. My concern is these serious issues will continue to worsen, as a domino effect that our Ancestors have warned us of in their Prophecies.

I know in my heart there are millions of people that feel our united prayers for the sake of our Grandmother Earth are long overdue. I believe we as Spiritual people must gather ourselves and focus our thoughts and prayers to allow the healing of the many wounds that have been inflicted on the Earth.

As we honor the Cycle of Life, let us call for Prayer circles globally to assist in healing Grandmother Earth (our Unc¹I Maka), and that we may also seek to live in harmony, as we make the choice to change the destructive path we are on.

As we pray, we will fully understand that we are all connected. And that what we create can have lasting effects on all life.

So let us unite spiritually, All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer. Along with this immediate effort, I also ask to please remember World Peace and Prayer Day/ Honoring Sacred Sites day. Whether it is a natural site, a temple, a church, a synagogue or just your own sacred space, let us make a prayer for all life, for good decision making by our Nations, for our children¹s future and well-being, and the generations to come.

Onipikte (that we shall live),

Chief Arvol Looking Horse sees a great danger threatening “Grandmother Earth” and a great hope for restoring her wholeness. So he is calling all nations to prayer of any kind in an effort to return the planet to balance, the people to spirit. I asked him why this path is the right path to take. “A man or a woman without spirit is very dangerous,” Looking Horse explained in a recent phone interview. According to this Sioux chief, the absence of spirit is causing suffering everywhere. “We are in a time of survival,” he said. “But we don’t want to believe it because we have forgotten our spirits. We have forgotten that Grandmother Earth has a spirit.” Disconnected souls are hurting others without even knowing they are hurting others.” Those being hurt include animals, trees and waterways. The Sioux have an inclusive worldview, but it was not shared by the transplanted Europeans who undertook genocide on Indian land, culminating in the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890. That final brutality broke the “hoop” binding Indians together; however, Sioux prophecy foretold that in a hundred years the people would be reunited. Although surviving tribe members and their descendants were stripped of religious freedoms (returned to them only 32 year ago by the U.S. government), the rituals were kept and the prophecy not forgotten. So the Sioux nations set out on horseback to “mend the broken hoop” of their nation in 1986 at a sacred site known to non-Indians as Devils Tower or the Great Horn Butte; their ritual went on for four years and concluded in 1990, 100 years after Wounded Knee. During the course of that long ritual, Looking Horse was surprised by a vision that came to him of peace and unity that included not only the Indian nations but all the nations of the world, each gathering with ritual plants around sacred fires on every continent. The Sioux chief felt called to oversee a much broader mending. But who was going to listen even to the chief of a people largely ignored in the country where they lived? “It’s everyday life for us that we hold Grandmother Earth sacred, we hold the trees and the plants, everything has a spirit. We need people to be really respectful for each other. The Great Spirit put us here all together. If we’re going to survive, we need to have spirit and compassion.

My relative on my dad’s side.

Happy 14th Birthday Samuel