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.”
Bruce told the group at lunch today, spontaneously he simply said, “I want to tell everyone something. I woke up feeling blah today, and now that I’ve spent the day with my friends I’m feeling so much better. ” It was a very sweet and sincere thing to say. Everyone was quiet for a moment, then G started clapping! Perfect.
This tour was super interesting today. Fort Logan has national, local, state, military and architectural history all wrapped up into one. The tours are free and open to the public every 3rd Saturday from 1:00 – 4:00, if you ever want to check it out. (I think I’ll go back!)
We learned that the house we toured was built in the 1888, not long after the Native Americans had left the area, having lived in teepees. Amazing. The military officer Logan, (who was instrumental in establishing what we now call “Memorial Day”) was a nationally recognized figure, and the military base was named in his honor. The property was a good location due to it’s proximity to water (Bear Creek) and a railroad. It was utilized in both World Wars, and between and after them so yes, lots of history. The particular house we toured was over 4,000 square feet and had 7 bedrooms. We kept the tour to 45 minutes, though everyone was comfortable lingering a bit longer.
We then headed to lunch on the patio at Homestead Golf Club, but the winds forced us to move indoors. The views from there are exceptional, so I was disappointed we had to move, and sure enough as soon as we got settled indoors, the winds stopped. Oh well, that’s how it goes sometimes.
Bruce and I each took our carpools on abbreviated “scenic drives” on the way home, since we were already at the base of the Rockies, Morrison, etc. Then home. I was telling my group that I’m often amazed how quickly our days go, and A said, “that’s because we do so much in one day!”
A few moments that stand out for me today:
S told a story during the tour today and he laughed at himself when he started out like this: “My grandfather used to drive a truck. He had – oh, I’ll never forget this.” pause. “I just forgot it”. We all chuckled, but it wasn’t long before he was able to finish his thoughts. And he sang a bit in my car today, which he doesn’t always do. Especially to “Let it Be”.
G of course sang too. A bunch. We love that about him. He told me stories of his father, “what a character”, and his granddaughter, her school, and her volleyball playing.
One minute when he had stopped singing, E told him assertively, “keep singing” G said, “only if I get paid.”
I overheard A telling the tour guide today, “I am thoroughly enjoying this. Thank you.” And I liked when he said to me towards the end of the day, as we were driving in the foothills, near wide open fields, “you’d never guess we are looking at all this, but we’re so close to town.”
J had a ball, Ms Enthusiasm. She asked me (a few times) where we were going today, and always replied along the lines of “sounds fine to me. Better then staying home doing puzzles”, or “it’s always good to go out, I don’t care where we go”..etc. Just up for an adventure. She’s an appreciative, fun person. However she also told me my nails are too short! Ha! Then she told me she remembers her mother painting her long nails red before she’d go out to play Bridge with her girlfriends. What a nice image of days goneby. I picture ladies all dressed up spending an afternoon together, and J as a child being impressed.
K and I had many laughs over the coffee house I chose today. Long story, but it was a bit of a hassle parking, paying, ordering, getting the coffees to go, getting back in the car, seatbelts…and then the coffee was extremely hot, almost impossible to drink, the cups were so full that coffee was bouncing out and some fell on S’s new shoelaces which he’d just shown us, and no one liked the taste of the coffee! Ha! He and I laughed about it all day.
Looking forward to next week’s adventure!
It was a little bit of history today for ladies day.
We started the day at Harvard Gulch Park, enjoying pastries,fruit and sparkling cider next to the children’splayground. Then off for a little walk through the park- which is next to a golf course-on our perennial search for restrooms. We decided to use the one in the Clubhouse of the Harvard Gulch Golf Course. Here is when wewe stumbled upon the history of the area.! Who would have guessed!?We learned from the golf pro that the land used to be a dairy farm as well as the Colorado State Orphanage. As many as 17,000 orphans resided inthis facility. It was stunning newsto all of us. We talked about the many reasons so many kids would have been orphaned in the early 1900s,World War 1, World War II, the Depression, the Dust Bowl, and disease. E had lots of questions about all this! The man who was telling us about this history has lived in the area for quite some time. He’s actually met and have had conversations with a few of the orphans who came back to visit as adults.
Bruce took the three other men to lunch at Arrowhead Country Club, which is nestled right into the gigantic Red Rocks.
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