Today just flowed right along, and we had many laughs. G was in a terrific mood and full of energy from the moment he climbed in the car. We then picked up R and P and off we went to meet Bruce who had T and T with him. Bruce took the guys for these funny little donut things at McDonalds, and bought coffees for them. They sat and watched customers, and children playing. T is not only Mr. Navigator but also Mr Observant, we always notice that about him. Bruce was very surprised when T pointed out a park they drove past and said to Bruce, “you and I have walked there”, which was correct. T commented on things at McDs like, “that little boy’s green shirt”, or “that girl is stuck!”.
Not too sure we’ll partake in McDs donuts again, but it was a perfect, brief start to the day for these guys.
My carpool had some time in Barnes and Noble, and made our way to their Starbucks. On the way G picked up a stuffed animal (Beatrix Potterish) and then of course found a child to hand it to, he really had this boy laughing with the dancing bunny, it was sweet.
We had apple tarts and coffee, then off we all went for the days’ adventure.
We took a scenic drive in the Ken Caryl area, and listened to music in the car. I had been told that G was a big fan of our 60s satellite station, and man is that true. Whistling, singing, ..fantastic. All of them were enjoying the music.
We talked about Sears closing down, and P reminded me that it used to be called Sears Roebuck, which I’d forgotten. He and T had a hilarious moment when I said something about them being “Larry, Curly and Moe in my car.” Then I asked them if they could remember the name of the 4th Stooge. P said, “give me a minute. Or give me a few days.” And really after a few minutes he shouted “Shemp” and was tickled with himself. T was amazed! T asked him how he remembered that, and P said with his huge grin, “I brought it up from the depths!”
We wandered a bit indoors and out, at CU’s Extension School which is also called the Wildlife Experience. Beautiful building, lots of sculptures and art work on display. We attended a noon film about nature in our own backyards, deer, coyote, frogs, birds, raccoons…it was 3D and had some terrific scenery.
T liked the CU images in the center, and told me to be careful on the walkways, pointing out where “the salt is to get rid of the ice”.
We talked about last week’s storm, G told us how he watched out his kitchen window as the snow blew sideways, P told us stories about his career, his time ushering for the Rockies, about his father’s love of Lawrence Welk. R told us – and our waiter who was curious – about racing at Pike’s Peak and Bandimere and Indianapolis, T made a “snowball” out of toilet paper and threw it at G, and T kiddingly called him a “tough guy”.
We had lunch at Great Beginnings, they were exceptionally kind and welcoming to us, discounting our bill and bringing us a plate of cookies too. I have two favorite standout moments of the day, one is during lunch when Bruce got up to use the restroom. As he was walking away T said, “ok, now we can talk about him”. Ha!
And secondly, on my drive home, when it was getting quiet after our full day, listening to P sing along un-self-consciously with Anne Murray, “Can I have this dance for the rest of my life”.
Today was another amazing day as this group continues to blend so nicely. A is a great addition with her positive outlook and infectious energy. She and J get along beautifully; A being the southern belle and J being the consummate gentleman. E and F also quickly fall into their easy, entertaining banter. They are both playful and self deprecating. They both have such a quick wit. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one liner.
Our first stop was Lamar’s donuts. Bruce and Steve were both in attendance and we were even able to stop by for a visit with Mary. It is unusual to have as many attendees as we have caregivers and it was great fun. When we had an extra donut A graciously offered it to the whole group but when their were no takers she was thrilled and said “you all are too kind.”
It was a perfect day for a scenic drive in the foothills. All admired the beautiful homes near Red Rocks Golf Course Community, which led to conversations about three-car garages and how big does a home really need to be? As we passed The Fort, F reminisced about meeting her husband in Ohio and moving to an area near the The Fort, and said they enjoyed many meals at the restaurant. Our drive then took us through Red Rocks park where we saw the trails where Steve used to ride his BMX bike as a child. We learned that E visited the park often with her husband and that J had taken in quite a few shows. On our way out of the park we stopped at the Trading Post to use the bathroom. J and A decided that we had found “the most beautiful bathroom on earth!”
Our lunch and tour of Balistreri Winery was lovely. This is a boutique winery run by family with a deep Sicilian winemaking history. A happily connected with the owners about her shared Sicilian ancestry. We loved learning about some barrels that the winery received from Stranahan’s. The winery uses them to make Port with a hint of whiskey. When someone didn’t remember how many bottles there were to a barrel A chimed in “290, but who’s counting?” J had great questions today which led us to learn that CSU agriculture school provide some of the grapes for this wine. You’ll see a photo of the barrell with CSU written on it, which was what made Jerry curious. Fascinating! I think E’s favorite part of the day was watching them seal the bottles with a very unique wax formula. It was beautiful and artistic. E was amazed “the wax is still warm”.
It’s always great fun with this group F is still – as she says – smarter than a seatbelt, J is still a gentleman. E is still thinking about growing a little taller next week and A is always agreeing with the group. “We’re perfect, we’re always perfect!”
The ladies had separate time this morning, and the guys met at the office for our morning snacks. We recall some funny tidbits of conversation; somehow we got talking about the first man on the moon and the theory these days that it might have been a hoax!? We laughed about that, maybe someone arrived before America did, and hopefully they didn’t leave any litter behind. We talked about the idea that the moon is made of cheese – just silly stuff, and also other conspiracy theories which changed the tone of the conversation to a more serious one – MLK, Robert Kennedy, etc. Then P told us how he went in for his physical during the draft but was turned down. “Too skinny” ! D told us about being in the National Guard and working under his father’s leadership. That’s about when D grabbed an Oreo cookie from across the table, saying it’s “important to chew Oreos while drinking coffee”. Back to the silliness!
In the afternoon the 2 groups met in Platt Park for a walk, just about 20 minutes, exploring the park a bit but mainly the mansion on the premises. We couldn’t get inside, but were impressed with it. And then off to lunch. Panera Breads for salads and sandwiches. The sandwiches were huge! P took it as a challenge – determined to eat as much of his as possible, but the rest of us surrendered. And E took over when Steve surrendered as he tried to open all the potato chip bags. She grabbed them and got the job done!
Across the street is the beautiful Koelbel Library, where we attended the talk about the Tuskagee Airmen. As everyone was getting seated T acted as usher, making sure we were all together. C.J. laughed aloud when she heard this being said during the presentation: Eleanor Roosevelt was scheduled once to fly in a jet piloted by a black person. Apparently someone was concerned about how she’d feel about that but she said she was determined to go ahead. They called FDR and asked him what he thought. FDR replied, “no one can stop her”. CJ loved that!
Yay Friday group, see you next week!
Big group, big laughs, and big fire trucks! We had a wonderful day!
Both carpools met for coffees, hot chocolates and snacks, then we went quickly on to our 11:00 tour of the Inter Canyon Fire Protection District fire station, near Conifer.
Of course the mountains are beautiful right now with the blanket of snow and with the blue skies. No one was upset about heading to the mountains for the day.
Our tour was fantastic! Chief Skip was our guide. He is a warm, enthusiastic, and all around good guy. He encouraged questions and there was one from JM right off the bat. “What is the best thing you like about your job?” Skip’s reply came quickly and easily. He said it was days like today. “Sure I love to go and fight fires but more importantly it is touching the lives of the people in his community and making their day just a little bit better.” I have no doubt that he meant it.
He told us about the fire engines and the ambulance that are housed at that particular station, the cost of that equipment , about the protective garments that are worn by the firefighters, the number of men and women that are served in the district, and told some funny anecdotal stories about 911 calls that they have responded to. E asked about the number of calls they respond to daily, D asked about the lighting on the outside of the trucks, and when Skip invited anyone in our group to get into one of the trucks E, T, P, and D were enthusiastic volunteers.
We asked where the dalmatian was which prompted Skip to tell the group about the link between fire departments and dalmatians back when fire trucks were drawn by horses. He also told a story about the beginnings of volunteer fire departments and who started them. That person was Benjamin Franklin which got a big squeal from JM. Franklin is a Philly native which always brings great pride to her.
We had allowed for about an hour for the tour but things were going so well that we actually spent about an hour and a half there. Skip gave each of us a patch that is sewn onto the uniform of every emergency responder at inter-canyon. Apparently there is a long history of emergency responders trading these patches across the country. Skip told us we could take that patch to any fire station in America and be welcomed as family. Pretty awesome!
We needed to head over to Kittredge for lunch but not before each and every person in our group expressed such gratitude to Skip for a great tour.
Lunch was at a favorite of out and about, in Kittredge, at the Blackbird Cafe. It was a big group but our waitress handled it easily and just about everyone was part of the Clean Plate Club. Because it was a big group there were conversations going on between two and three people rather than across the table as a whole so I can’t give you tidbits from everyone, but I know that there was a lot of gabbing going on. D spent some time getting to know Steve, and JM was getting a kick out of D’s quick wit.
From there the two carpools split into groups for the return trip down the hill and back home. J and I joked about being so close to his home on Quebec yet the traffic was slowing us down so very much. I told him that we were close enough that he could probably walk , but I wouldn’t make him . He laughed and said “oh thanks , I am glad you don’t say here get out I want to show you something then zoom off !” E quickly came to my defense and said “she would never do that !” Then T said “oh yeah! ?! ” Ha ! E, D, T and I had a really interesting and heartfelt conversation about the homelessness in Denver, each expressing an opinion about whether or not to offer money, food, or nothing at all. Each had some really interesting and well-thought-out opinions and T, in particular, was very interested in knowing what each person in the car had to say, and in his own way was able to say that he may not agree but wanted to hear their viewpoints. It was fun for me to listen to this conversation yet not be involved or facilitate it.
It was a really great day that went by very quickly.
|We had such a good day today ! Sunshine, music, art, laughter, and friendship.|
After the morning snack routine we just had to enjoy the spring-like weather. We found the perfect park nearby. Great views, dry pathways, a dog park, and exercise area. Everyone except J tried out a piece of equipmen. Pull ups, bicep curls, leg lifts, etc. Knowing that J has been going to the gym recently I teased him and said “Oh you must be sore from yesterday’s work out right?” He smiled and said “Yea, that’s it” HA ! I never did get him on one of the machines.
We had an early lunch at Spanky’s in the DU area. We go there fairly regularly and are always very warmly greeted by the same waiter who recognizes us immediately. When he was taking our orders, L asked him if the Reubens were good. Our waiter’s response was “Have you ever had a bad Reuben?” L had to admit that he hadn’t and after he finished it told the waiter it was one of the best ! It was a very musical lunch ( and day for that matter). I have a habit of starting a sentence and pausing for a few moments then finishing my sentence. Well, the “Jukebox brains” L and S would fill in those pauses with the lyrics of a song. For example I would say “everything”, then pause and either or S would fill it in with “Everything she does is magic magic”. They did this all day long!
J got in on that too, only not with music. I ask L” Did your mother”, I paused thinking about how I wanted to phrase the question. I guess my pause was too long and J said “What!??” with this tone of like are we supposed to guess or what? It was hilarious and the timing was perfect!
After lunch we visited the Denver Public Library to see a performance by the “Bookshop Band.” What a treat. The duo is from the U.K., and they perform in bookstores and libraries. They are on a tour of the U.S. now, Tattered Cover, etc..The songs they perform are those they have written which were inspired by books they have read. It was wonderful. They would explain the premise of the book then play the song. We took a front row seat and were able to watch them up close and personal as they played the cello, ukulele, and guitar. It really was a treat. They tour the US with their twenty month old daughter who, as L pointed out that she “provided some great background vocals.” J and both said it was great, T said about 5 minutes later it was still giving him the “shivers” and he wiggled a bit ! After the show, we had T led the way to “The Table” on the 7th floor of the Library which was used by the Summit of 8 that involved President Bill Clinton, and other world leaders. The 7th floor has great views of the Denver Art Museum, the City and County Building, the Capitol Building and Civic Center Park, and the halls are filled with great art. Steve and I just let the guys gravitate to what drew them in for 15 minutes or so before heading out.
Terrific day !https://youtu.be/2U0nREncdFU
It was a crisp morning that lingered until after lunch. I got to pick up J first thing. I like my one on one time with him. He talked about his trip to Michigan and visiting with his daughters for Thanksgiving. He said that it was so good to see them and that he misses them. When I said that’s what we do as fathers, get them prepared for the world, he responded, “But I don’t have to like it.”
G was next and we got some time with his dog to start the day. J leaps out of the car to get some of those Bernie kisses!
After we picked up E we caught ourselves singing to the Christmas songs on the radio on our way to meet the gang for morning snack.
We met up with Mary, L, J and A at Great Harvest Bakery for pumpkin muffins and drinks. This really is a group of friends, Mary and I love our time with them.
I got to talk with A some. I shared a bit of what I’m doing with the Masons, and Al being a Fraternity Brother is always so encouraging. I’m glad we have that bond.
L reminisced about his childhood Thanksgivings and he said one of his favorite things after eating and being stuffed is laying around and watching football “with the top of his pants unbuttoned.” I can relate!
After our morning get together, we stopped at Silo Park for a quick walk. We got a good walk in around the park. In the summer the area is teeming with wildlife and color. Today we agreed that it was all too brown, but the fresh air and physical activity felt good.
We then took a drive thru Cherry Creek State Park. We glimpsed a hawk on our way to the Remote Control Model Airplane Runway. And boy did we get lucky there was a few operators flying planes. They buzzed right past us, just great. We were able to talk to one of the pilots while he prepped his model for flight. We got to see a wide variety of styles and sizes, very interesting. This was a nice treat. E wondered if anyone ever got thier hair stuck in the propeller!
We picked up our friend S, who used to be a regular with our Tuesday bunch, and he joined us for lunch. We kind of surprised him and he said he was so grateful that we thought of him. We ended up at our favorite BBQ restaurant, Hickory House. Many got the Tuesday lunch special of ribs, messy, but delicious.
We wound down the day with an Active Minds presentation on the life and achievements of Fran k Sinatra. His story is incredible. We learned that he was quite a humanitarian, which J related to. We got to enjoy some of his music, wonderful. The speaker played songs and then spoke about “Old Blue Eyes”, telling interesting stories, like about his relationship to the Kennedys!.
When the final song came on, both S and G sat up straighter, and they both sang! Gary was even dancing in his seat a little! (The song was “That’s Life”)
Everyone was paying attention, and we were in a very comfortable theatre. S was in a comfy chair and some of the fabric had fallen to the ground, he picked it up and put it on his head (picture attached). J was completely engaged and at one point turned to Mary and said, “wow”, when we were told that Sinatra once performed in front of an audience of 175,000 in Rio de Janeiro. When we were leaving the talk she said, “that was really fun”.
The sky was gray above, but it seemed the sun was shining high on the mountain peaks all day, which we noticed often as we were driving down Parker Road and in the State Park. Eeveryone commented on just how beautiful Colorado is, J pointed out Longs Peak, the sky and view of the mountains were pretty dramatic.
It was a very good day.
This was an exceptional day.
The weather was nice enough for us to take about a 1/2 mile walk before lunch, we attended croquet for just an hour, but what a full hour it was!, we had such a fun time at lunch it’s hard to even explain…it includes us staying until five minutes before the restaurant closed, with their other last remaining customer literally throwing her head back and bursting with laughter as she enjoyed the antics and conversations at our table, and then silliness and singing in our cars, including my car full of men singing along to Kenny Rogers …”You’ve got to know when to fold up”, (The Gambler) and later to “These Boots are Made for Walking!”
And somehow, for some reason, my favorite moment of this amazing day was a very simple one. Jennifer and I were walking with the group after croquet, and we came across a playground filled with children playing in the fall leaves, kicking a ball around, running…you can picture this. One of the balls flew over the fence and I saw R bend down, pick it up, and throw it back to the boys. It was just one of those quick moments that exemplified what our days are like. We come across strangers, we pet the passing dogs, we laugh with other customers in a restaurant, we share stories with our waitress, we see people we haven’t seen in a while, we tease and laugh and sing, and sometimes simply throw a ball back over a fence to a waiting child. I have learned over the years a great deal from the people in our care, and one of the most important things I’ve learned is how to be present in the moment, like them, and to be open to whatever, or whomever, comes our way.
I wrote down lots of funny quotes from today, but I think I ‘ll keep it simple instead, and let you know that some of the subjects we discussed were pecan pie, fraternities, chocolate chip ice cream, back seat drivers, our hearing problems, preschoolers, roller skating, birthdays, mansions, high school football, tattoos, and racing cars in Minnesota and Greeley!
Jennifer and Bruce and I appreciated all the interactions between the guys and look forward to next Monday!
It was a beautiful first day of November and a perfect day to be of service.
After picking the guys up we went to Einstein for bagels and coffee. G and I had a funny conversation about bagels and whether or not they really are that much better in New York City. I told G that my son had recently visited NYC and how much he raved about the bagels there. G assured me that my son was absolutely right, New York has THE best bagels but the one in front of him was “pretty damn good too!” We were sitting at large table and we’re chatting away when someone, who had noticed J’s George Washington HS Swim and Dive team t-shirt. The man who joined us had GW gear on as well and was surprised to see Jerry shirt. He was the phys-ed teacher for GW from the early 70s to the early 2000s, coaching football, basketball, swimming, golf, etc. It was an interesting conversation, talking about the rise and fall of GW’s reputation as a great school for sports, chess, and drama.
From there we went to Wash Park for a good long walk around both lakes before heading to our leaf raking project. T noticed a very large bird standing on one leg on a rail that appeared to fishing. I took a photo, if anyone has any thoughts on what it is we would love to know! If was unfamiliar to all of us! T, the tree climber also made a couple of attempts at a large cottonwood. The ornamental grasses at Wash Park caught both J and T’s eye today too. J said that he some growing voluntarily at his house right now. He isn’t sure how it got there, but he is just going to let it go. Just before leaving the park we ran into James of Jiminy wicket. He spotted us first and hollered as we were loading up in the van. J hadn’t met James yet but T certainly knows him well. The greeting that gave each other was warm, heartfelt, and very touching for me. Is a very good reminder about how important these connections are in this community.
The Leaf Raking Project went great! The guys knew exactly what had to be done and jumped in as soon as we got to the backyard. There was a thick blanket of leaves that needed to be cleaned up and we filled at least six containers, taking turns raking bagging and blowing.
Lunch was at Spanky’s in the DU area, soon as we walked in the waiter recognized our group immediately, greeted us with a big where have you been?!? We were pleasantly startled by the greeting, G said it’s good to have a reputation ! J followed that with “Well, it depends”, T followed that with “Ah, it doesn’t matter!” This was the start of a very good lunch. There was a colorful conversation about politics, which we try to avoid, but clearly these guys are of the same mind so we went with it for a bit. Then after lunch G told us, very poignantly, about his families visit to their Synagogue after last week’s horrific events. He did not dwell in the negativity of it all but told us about the overwhelming support the community experienced. G was directly across from me, T and J were sitting on both side of him. G had all three of us wrapped up in the telling of this experience making eye contact with all of us, maybe a little misty eyed from time to time. It was another wonderful moment in a really great day of touching peoples lives.
What a wonderful day. We began with a quick snack today, because we had an 11:00 tour arranged at an art gallery in Evergreen. Great day for the drive there! J commented a few times on the blue sky, I think everyone appreciated the scenery as we headed up the hill. As J pointed out, the sky stayed that blue all day. One time in the car she said, “you couldn’t ask for a better day”, and G said, “actually, you could”, which really made her laugh. He was being the jester with E too. One time during our tour at the art gallery he caught her eye and stuck her tongue out at her, and she did it right back at him! He made us laugh earlier too, when he said, on our way to Evergreen, “J’s coffee keeps jumping out of the cup.” It was true! J agreed that with each bump in the road, it was a challenge with his full cup of coffee. Ha! He seemed pleased that G noticed. L is new to our Tuesday group and is getting to know everyone. Mary said we’re in big trouble, though, because G knows L’s limericks…L can start em and G can finish em. Oh No! There once was a guy in Peru…
We learned something new about J today…he’s a Bob Seager fan! We are all enjoying the new satellite radio in our vans, which was a gift from one of our families. Lots of singing and today G and E did a little “Song Sung Blue” dancing demo for us, with hands spread wide and swaying right and left. What a crack up.
The Center for Arts at Evergreen was very welcoming to us. We had the place all to ourselves, as it worked out, and two guides! They had seats arranged for us in front of a wall of select pieces and they were well trained in art therapy for our group like ours. The exhibit was varied, from modern pop to classical and impressionistic. Everyone had a favorite and commented accordingly. Our guides explained that the theme was water media, and that it was a juried exhibition, so there was a variety of styles and a wide array of artists from all over the country. There were pieces to appeal to everyone.
J liked the dancing girl all in pink ( entitled “Exuberance” she thought it seemed “so natural”), J liked a portrait of an older man and wanted to learn more about it, so the guide stuck with him for a while, providing more details, and he also liked an abstract of a couple holding hands. L liked the attached painting of a river (he said “They’re all neat but that one really catches my eye. It leaves room for the imagination”). Jane commented once, “I’m very left brained and not artistic at all, but I like looking at art”, she pointed out the difference in proportion on a realist piece and made many interesting observations. In one painting there was a clothes line depicted, which G said reminded him of “hanging clothes with my mom”, and E said she remembered that too. She said, “it was horrible when the clothes froze.” That painting was of a home and yard in Cuba, which led A to share some stories about sailing past Cuba many years ago! And another painting was of Venice, so he let us know that you could sail a boat from Venice to England without sailing on the ocean. G even pointed out the stained glass at the front of the gallery, and the guide explained that the building is a former church. Everyone was thoroughly engaged.
We then broke for lunch at The Blackbird Tavern, which sits on the banks of Bear Creek. A, soaking up the sun shining in the large window and peering out side, said “I could just sit here and look at the creek all day.” J told Mary that he remembers being with us at this restaurant a couple of times before, “but that’s ok, it’s great!”
One subject that came up was historical events in our life times. Bruce mentioned when Elvis died. J remembered man first walking on the moon and A chimed in that he remembered when Alaska became a state. We also joked around with our usual “crick” or “creek” argument, and overall just relaxed and enjoyed our meal with the terrific views out the windows.
Our morning was definitely Fall in Colorado! Beautiful, colorful, but also damp and cloudy. But we really liked our drive up into Roxborough State Park. We saw more deer then ever before, and took a little five minute walk in the chilly air.
In the afternoon, we spent time at our “cabin”, at Happy Dog Ranch, which everyone was impressed with. B clearly remembered past events there with the group, and with the spouses. I will try to plan one of those again soon. It’s a large space with a full kitchen. Everyone helped carry our belongings from the vans into the cabin. Ice chest, sandwiches, supplies for the sack lunch making project, lots to carry! We began with lunch, a delicious one provided by Corner Bakery, then began our task. Man o man this was worthwhile. Everyone commented throughout the day on how important it is to do some community service work. G and S couldn’t wait to get started, S spreading jam, G washing and slicing strawberries. L is great in the kitchen! Cleaning dishes, wiping down the counters, super helpful. Bruce and I had J counting bags and sorting, B filling baggies with chips, etc…we took about 45 minutes and were really focused on what we were doing. We completed 30 sack lunches which, after I send this email to everyone, I’ll take across the street to “The Life Center”, where they feed at risk families on Tuesday nights. I know they’ll welcome also having lunch ready for tomorrow.
As we worked we told stories, L about his career, S about his work history, G expressed the importance he places on helping out others, J told us about raising four boys and “I’ve packed a lot of lunches in my day”. Then veryone chipped in, as we cleaned up and repacked and reloaded up the vans!
S made me giggle when I noticed two Oreos stacked on top of each other on his plate after lunch. “Two Oreos ?” He thought for a sec then said, “someone must have taken my third.”
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