By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN A dash of art, a sprinkling of culture, and a generous helping of laughter are key ingredients of the Miller household in Delano.
Hans and Melinda, along with their daughters, Claire and Emily, create their own excitement on a daily basis.
“Katie thinks our favorite pastime is laughing,” Melinda said. “That pretty much sums it up right there.”
Melinda, a 1986 graduate of Delano High School, is involved in the Delano Arts and Culture Council, the Delano Dream Team II, and the Delano Artists Guild.
Claire, 14, sings in the choir at Delano Schools, and Katie, 11, plays clarinet in the school band.
Hans is an application support specialist at Mortenson Construction in Minneapolis, and encourages his family’s participation in the arts and culture.
“I appreciate good theatre, and I appreciate art,” Hans said.
Melinda graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a degree in theatre, and she’s passed that talent onto her daughters.
Katie and Claire have both been involved in plays in Delano.
In addition to official acting performances, the Millers enjoy using their imaginations at home.
“We have a sort of eastern Indian tent set up in the basement, along with a mini costume shop,” Melinda said.
The tent is covered in cloth saris, and is a place Katie and Claire can play with friends.
“It’s a great little clubhouse for the girls to go to,” Melinda said.
The girls also have costumes for “fashion” shows, Claire said.
“It’s not really fashion,” Hans laughed, explaining that it’s more like silly outfit combinations.
“Melinda and the girls have quite a wig collection,” he added.
The Millers don’t watch TV, and instead spend their free time playing games and reading books together.
“There’s quite a bit of reading aloud that goes on at our house,” Hans said. “If someone gets tired of reading, they pass the book on to the next person.”
“There are many accents that get used,” Melinda laughed.
A couple of the family’s recent favorites include Harry Potter and the Twilight series.
“We get pretty into it,” Claire said.
The family is also interested in art, and Melinda enjoys visiting the Art Spa in Delano.
“I do mixed media collages,” Melinda said. “I like to use paint, paper, buttons, metal anything I can get my hands on.”
Another place the Millers like to visit is the Three Crows Café & Coffee House in Delano.
“We go for live music and good food,” Hans said. Melinda used to be a cook at the café, as well.
The Millers have become friends with some of the other people who frequent the Three Crows, and they take turns going to each other’s houses.
Being part of a close community has made Delano feel like home for the Miller family, who moved to Delano about five years ago.
“Personally, I love the sense of community and being close to family,” Hans said. “It’s a good place for the girls to grow up, and the schools do a good job.”
Hans and Melinda first met when both worked at Lafayette Country Club in Minnetonka. They lived in Mound and Plymouth before buying land from Melinda’s father in Delano.
Their home has about 50 maple trees, and Hans makes a few gallons of maple syrup each year.
“I started doing that back when I was a kid,” he said. “I make enough to give to family and friends.”
The family lives near the Crow River, and enjoys fishing in the summer.
The Millers also have a pet dog, Gracie, and a fish named Jimmy.
“We really do just enjoy being at home together,” Melinda said.