Stock Show Parade

Well, few changes occurred today! Our plan was to  take a walk in Congress Park then ​visit the Ballpark ​Museum.  The 1st change we made was deciding to go to Confluence Park instead, and poke around REI if we needed to warm up.  On our way downtown, Brian saw signage  referencing the Stock Show Parade.  So that was change number two!
It was a wonderful day downtown.  Confluence was beautiful and surprisingly quiet ​ – ​almost peaceful, a few people relaxing in chairs in the sun with coffee, a few walkers and bikers, and a fisherman in the water under the overpass. During our “pit stop” in REI , D and I were joking about Big Foot…he does an​ ​excellent impression, growl and all !! We walked and took it all in for a bit, T and B did some rock climbing,

​we ​figured out the parade route, then headed to the Union Station area to try to stake out a piece of sidewalk along the parade route.  Well, we couldn’t find a spot right up front (all the kids had those) but we did pretty well, plus ​our spot ​was in the sun.  While we were waiting I listened to S have a wonderful conversation with a little boy about ​his ​glasses.  S comlipmented him on them and the young boy said they were new and just started jabbering on about being able to see!  
The parade was great.  First came the Texas Longhorn Steers, followed the Denver Mounted Police, stage coaches, the Westernaires, lots of cowboys, tractors, more horses and more cowboys.  We all got a real kick out of it.  J didn’t take his eyes off the parade and had a grin on his face the whole time.  
We walked down Blake ​ Street​, again winging it, looking for a burger and found a pretty darn good one at place called Hayters Bar and Grill.  T had the trout sandwich and seemed to be in heaven!!  We watched some folks play giant Jenga and the TV’s were playing music videos that sparked a conversation about MTV.  Phil Collins came up and J smiled again saying “he is one of my favorites”.
Another 15 minute sunny walk back to the car and our day was basically done,.  It went by so quickly and so smoothly.  We all got a kick out of the spontaneity of the day and sense of “freedom”.  The ​Ballpark ​Museum will be there for us next week.

Staunton State Park on New Years Day – great way to start our new year!


I was invited to join the guys for donuts this morning, and I was very happy to do so…to see them and also get off my computer!

The donut shop was closed for the holiday, but right next door was the  bagel shop so that worked out fine. After our relaxed morning together, they brought me back to the office and Brian took the guys all the way up to Staunton State Park. Lucky them! It was much warmer up there, and they got in a real decent trailwalk. Lunch was at the end of the day, back down in Lakewood on their way home.
All good today – a great way to start our new year.

Ladies Day, Holiday Sing a Long and friendships

Another lovely Ladies Day !

Everyone was in fine fine spirits ! D helped C finish getting ready this morning and as C popped her head through her sweater D broke out laughing saying she looked like a turtle just then. The look on Cs face was priceless, C said ​”​well it is a turtle neck sweater​”​ and immediately started laughing too. It was a wonderful start to the day! After we picked P up we were driving to the library listening to a CD that include​d​ a song ​with ​a bawdy 40’s swing vibe to it. P said it sounded like a strip club, CJ agreed, and D laughed s​o​ hard she was crying​.​

At the library both carpools came together for the Christmas Singalong. It was a great success. There was a guitar and a keyboard play​er​ to lead and accompany us and the words to the songs were projected on a screen at the front of the room. We could choose from a list of songs, C chose I’m dreaming of a White Christmas, Denise Felice Natividad, and JaneMarie chose Rocking Around the Christmas Tree (twice !) Actually we went through the entire list twice and I do believe everyone of us sang along and beautifully I might add! Apparently this library does a musical event and sing along once a month…we all thought it might be a good idea to try it out again in the New Year!​ Mary joined us after this, and asked the group if everyone enjoyed singing. J said, “I enjoyed singing, but I’m not sure they enjoyed listening to me!”​

We took the scenic route to Golden and had lunch ​at the Bridgewater ​ Grill in the Golden Hotel. It was perfect. A lovely view of Clear Creak and Table Mountain, quiet restaurant with very good food. The ladies teased Brian about whether or not to shave his beard, we talked of the upcoming Christmas festivities and what we may be doing to celebrate, and sang Happy Birthday to our friend C who is celebrating tomorrow​.​

I had the opposite carpool on the way home, which​ is ​ always nice. A talked about getting reaqainted with swimming​,​ with the help of her son. J​ ​ of her growing comfort and enjoyment of this group and wanting to get to know D better. And J told P and A about her Arvada neighborhood. ​ In Brian’s carpool I’m told that C surprised us all with memories of her dog. “I loved him like crazy.” She described him as shaggy and big, and said his name was Justin. R then told them about her dog Jingles. We guessed that was due to her Christmas birthday and she said yes, but also the bell around his collar. About then a man was in the crosswalk in front of Brian’s car, in a teeshirt and shorts. E asked, “does he think he’s in Florida!?”​

Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Nature Preserve

Our “Tuesday Tourists” each had a good good day today. We took advantage of the nice weather and, after our morning coffee break, went to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal/Nature Preserve. I had never done the driving tour, but Brian had – so his car led the way. We drove slowly on the one way path, pulling over (lucky us!) when we saw two bison right next to the road. Brian snapped a great picture. That of course was a highlight, but equally exciting were the silly “critters” , I believe they are prairie dogs, they were a riot. Chirping and running and standing you know like they do – at attention. We all got a kick out of them. D  called them groundhogs. I asked the group, innocently – “Could they be named both groundhogs and prairie dogs?” J answered with a confident “no”, then starting laughing. “Actually, I have no idea!”
In my car at least, we were singing Christmas songs and I am very happy to report that E was singing along a LOT! Now that I’ve discovered how to get her to sing,  we may be playing Christmas songs in our car from time to time all year long! T messed up one of the words and he has that wonderful ability to laugh at himself, so when he heard the word “snay” come out of his mouth, instead of “sleigh”, he repeated it and we all just changed the word  and kept on going with it. “Snay bells ring!”
E not long after this cracked us all up. She was sitting alone in the “way back” of my van. We were singing -sort of – most of us couldn’t remember the words – “Santa Claus is coming to town.” T: “He’s coming today? or is he coming tomorrow?” E, from the back, quite dramatically says:  “No. He is coming to town. Santa. Claus. Is coming. To town.” She was really hamming it up and D laughed so hard the  way she does. Now that’s a beautiful sight!
 And T, as we were arriving, was flabbergasted that we had driven so far. He called it “the boonies” and asked me once, “Where are we going!?” V quickly answered, “over there.” Which tickled – and satisfied – T. Those two get such a kick out of each other.
We had  a bit of a walk today. Not so much quantity as quality. We crossed a fabulous footbridge over a shallow but large pond, which had a decent layer of ice on top of it. As we walked across the bridge it would dip into the water and break the ice. We really liked that. It was fun to watch, fun to touch, fun to hear, and fun to do! Brian grabbed a big chunk of that ice out of the pond and let us examine it.
And we listened to  Brian’s explanation of how years ago the government took ownership of more then  200 homesteads from the property but how one remained – so we looked at it, talking  about it’s architecture and topography (did it have electricity? Did it have trees? Could those evergreens have been planted by the owners? Was it close to the river? …) And D danced today, that is always a treat to watch –  her uninhibited joy.
V yodeled at the prairie dogs,  A was enthusiastic in particular about our restaurant choice today (We were at the Fish Company inside Bass Pro Shop. Everyone likes the decoration there, and they have quite decent fish tacos and burgers), and J in her good natured way oohed and ahhed at every deer, and really every little thing we observed today.
A day of friendship – everyone looking out for each other and enjoying each other’s company. absolutely. Glad we got lots of time with Mother Nature too.

Center for Arts Evergreen + Lunch at D.W.’s Diner

The Center for the Arts  Evergreen recently moved into a newer and larger space, and they’ve been inviting us up for a visit. Today was absolutely a perfect day for that. They had on display their “holiday show” and though there were some art pieces regarding  the holidays, it was more a  collection  of artistic items one sale for the holidays. But that was great, because it provided us with such a variety of things to look at: jewelry and paintings and small antiques and photographs and quilts and hats  and  mittens  and stationery and even a colorful interpretation of Beatles music. As J said in the car later,  “every time I turned around there was something else to see!” and we all felt that way.  E pointed out to me a pair of earrings that were unusual and asked me if I could figure out how they would fit in someone’s earlobe, which I didn’t have the answer to, but then we noticed a sign answering her exact question.  (I love this engagement and curiosity)  Every single one of the women found something to interest them, in particular we had a good discussion about the painting of the lady looking at the bluebirds.   Was she “wishing she could fly away” or was she sad, or was she wanting to steal one of their feathers? We all had our opinions, and gave the painting some thought, but when Brian  gave his opinion, C. said something with a slightly sarcastic tone about “well that’s a man’s point of view”, which cracked us up. This gallery was perfect for us as the drive to Evergreen was great, including lots of singing in the car, especially in the  car.
Before the drive to Evergreen, we went on a walk on the trails behind J’s home. He brought healthy snacks and drinks for the ladies to have on the walk, and he said they kept a steady pace for 20 minutes or so.
 Lunch was at D.W.’s Diner. I think everyone enjoyed their meals. C had requested “a small hamburger” and sure enough, the waitress brought her a kids sized one with a side of applesauce and C loved that! K and J- huge salads, L  almost ordered a turkey sandwich then caught herself, “wait a minute, I have a fridge full of turkey. I want pancakes!”
The restaurant, as it turns out, was serving both breakfast and lunch, but no French toast. Oh well.
Brian told me that in his carpool going home, C. and J were very appreciative of their outing, that’s always so good to hear at the end of the day.
I hadn’t been on a “Ladies Day” in quite some time, I enjoyed every minute with these wonderful women.

Longhopes Donkey Rescue

Good day from start to finish. Our two carpools met at Corner Bakery where we laughed and chatted for about a half hour, then hit the road to make our 11:30 tour. The drive was longer then what we usually do, our destination was about 15 minutes past DIA, but it was out in the middle of nowhere, or so it seemed to us. Flat farm land, and few buildings. E, in the way back of my van asked, “Where ARE we?” I replied, “this town is called Bennett”. pause.  Me: “Does that name mean anything to you?” E: “No, but it makes me feel better that it at least has a name!”
Our tour guide was an energetic lovely young lady who knows all about donkeys, that’s for sure! She referred many times to them being “drama queens” and told us how they bond with each other and make special friendships, then have jealousies and breakups and tantrums and then make up with each other. Who knew? These animals have so much personality and yet are calm and affectionate and live to “serve”,  it’s what they’re bred to do which makes them so dear, and yet they sure let us know when they want attention!  D reminded us, before we  arrived, about how she and an old friend of ours, J, were there with us years ago and one particular donkey kept following the two of them around. We had a few similar instances today of the donkeys coming up from behind us and nudging us for attention, and V had one of them attached to him for quite a while. I think his name was Pete. Or maybe it was his buddy, Repeat.
We were able to feed the donkeys and pet them and learn about them, and we were very fortunate to be able to spend time with a donkey who was born on Sunday!
J and V amazed me the most, they were so drawn to the animals and touched them absolutely as often as possible.  A was a bit more of a quiet observer, taking it all in. I overheard him telling a volunteer about his days growing up in Texas with farm animals. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard him talk about that. I mentioned it to him later and he said, “Mary, today is bringing up all kinds of memories for me. “
We were graciously invited  to use a large indoor space on the property for lunch after the tour. The weather had been great, we were outside on our tour for an hour and a half.
Brian brought a perfect lunch for us,  special sandwiches from Tony’s Market, and had all kinds of side dishes for us as well.
S’s birthday was this past weekend, and over lunch and cookies we sang Happy Birthday to him. Not once, not twice, but three times. He told us about a recent trip  he went on and when he noticed oversized Jenga game blocks in a corner, he told us how he used to make those blocks himself.
 Lots of laughter today, and friendship.
And my personal favorite line of the day was T telling me on the way home how much he “liked the animals”.  “they smile! They do!”

Wings over the Rockies and lunch at B.J.s Tavern

Boy everybody was sharp and animated this morning. Our two carpools met for our “coffee break” and the funny conversations kept going around and around the table. T and V constructed some concoction from the spoons and napkins and whatever was on the table, just to make us laugh, E was amused that she got to sit in the high stool since we had used all the other chairs. “I never get a chance to be tall!”. D had many one liners and I’d reach across the table and give him a high five each time, and when J took off her jacket and showed us her pretty, bright pink sweater, everyone oohed and ahhed and she giggled from  the attention.
Then on to Wings over the Rockies..
Our tour guide was excellent, he kept it moving at just the right pace. There is so much to see and I am confident that every person today had a few things in particular that grabbed their attention. On the way to the museum, however, I have to say that at least in my car (I wouldn’t doubt in Brian’s also) we all were singing and the biggest hit was the Hokey Pokey song, honestly everyone was singing along. What a crack up. Then we did some T.V. show theme songs – Adams Family (everyone in the car snapping to the beat) and D and I could do a few more like Gilligans Island.
Back to the tour, all good, we were in the museum well over an hour, exploring and, at the end when the guide asked for a volunteer I pointed to A, so he got to fly like he was one of the Wright Brothers. Brian said his new nickname should be Orville.
E said a few times, and I agreed each time – “How do these huge planes fly? I mean, I know it in my head, but it really is impossible to understand”. She often gets impressed like that on our tours and I find that so exciting. She’ll be so well focused and immersed in the experience.
D was tuned into the guide’s discussion of airplanes flying at such high speed that “windows rattle”, T chimed in when the guide mentioned that he is not aware of “recent flyovers at the start of Bronco games” – T: “because they stink, that’s why!”, V was interested in hearing how a DC 10 compared to an Air Force jet we were standing underneath​ one​, J was upclose listening to every word and reading every sign,  and we all seemed to be enjoying the guide’s stories about Amelia Earhart.
Nice lunch afterwards, at B.J.s Tavern. We have taken our groups here a few times now, and they are becoming a favorite.
When my carpool and I arrived at our coffee stop this morning, and everyone was out of the cars walking in, I had this overwhelming feeling like…ahh…this is exactly why I do this. All morning as we drove along, our discussions were so meaningful and friendly. This group is well matched in their desire to share stories and listen to each other, and assist each other. In my car we talked about a recent support group session that two of them had been to, and a day program that a couple of them go to. They expressed their feelings and laughed and joked and related – related is the word I’m looking for – the back and forth between them as they talked about their lives was pretty powerful to observe today. I started our program years ago specifically to serve this demographic, people who are curious about life and want to stay engaged and active and have full lives and relationships, and are coping with the frustrations of some dementia that has forced a detour in their plans. It was a day full of that friendship and relating today.
After our coffee break  we were pulling away,  and I said my usual corny line, “do we have more or less everyone?” And A’s quick and funny answer was “with us, I’d say everyone is less then more!” Ha!
I mentioned here that I like how this group is curious about life and our surroundings. A couple of examples from V today. One was when we were in Thornton, approaching our 11:30 tour, he observed, “I used to go on Sunday rides when I was a kid and we’d come out this way, but there was nothing here in those days”, and later when we saw a small house standing strong amongst taller buildings, “I bet that used to have a whole farm around it.” We aren’t passively spending our day, I’d say it’s much more about being engaged with our environment, and with each other.
D was one of the first ones I picked up and I said to her, “Sorry, I have this package here. I thought I’d see a mailbox for it, but I haven’t seen one yet. I’ll move it out of your way.” And HOURS later, as I was bringing her home she said, “Look Mary, a mail truck!” Yay! So I  pulled over, jumped out of the car, got the package from the back of the van where it had been out of sight and out of my memory at least, and I handed it right over to the driver.  Thank you D.
S made a joke today which was perfectly appropriate but he apologized and said, “sometimes I can be a smart ass”. D said, “hey, it’s ok, we’ve got a car full of that!” She laughed a bunch today, it was obvious how comfortable she was. And I kept calling her “ballerina” as she gracefully got in and out of the car, and Brian even did some ballet moves for her!
Before our lunch at Olive Garden, we had a full one hour tour and visit with the dogs being trained for hearing impaired people. Hearing Dogs International is  now in their 35th year and are doing wonderful work. Not only do they place their well trained dogs in the homes of the hearing impaired, but when they have dogs who don’t pass the test they still place them in homes where they can be therapeutic. Please check out their website, such a great organization:

Chatfield State Park today and the Red Rocks Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

D said a couple of times, “I gotta take my husband here”, when we were at the Red Rocks Rock n Roll Museum this afternoon. I was surprised, actually, how much time we spent there. It was something I thought we’d enjoy for a half hour or so, plus of course the amazing drive to get up there, but it ended up having lots we each were interested in.  A read about Glenn Miller, D and I liked John Denver’s section, we looked at pictures of Elvis and other entertainers, and we also went out to their patio to take in the views. I had to practically drag A away from that patio, he was soaking it all in.
I had A and J and D in my care throughout the morning, and it was a complete pleasure. We lingered over our “coffee break” and shared stories, then took  a 40 minute stroll at the lake in Chatfield State Park. J and A are getting to know each other better, and today we discovered many similarities in their life stories. Is it possible that they both were involved in developing a suburb!?
Additionally, A and his wife  have extensive experience in sailing, and J said her husband  frequently sailed when they lived in Texas, and A was familiar with the area! (if I understood correctly, “Conley”).
We counted the sailboats on the lake, watched a small plane circle overhead, appreciated how uncrowded it was in the park, found small flowers still blooming in the sun, a trail left behind by a snake (well, that’s what I thought but J was probably correct that it was a trail left by a boy dragging a stick. More poetic at least), we grabbed each other’s arms or a hand now and then, helping to step over a bump in the road, or down a step…
There were many healthy and beautiful trees along the shore of the lake, (J pointed out the contrast in colors of the leaves against today’s very blue sky) and also many fallen trees, which had white washed branches. I wanted to take some of them home, they were so cool looking. I decided against it because no one offered to help me carry large branches into my car!…but then I found a teeny one  and considered taking it instead…but, “J, is this a bone? Or is it from the tree?” J: “it’s a tree bone” Ha!
Off we went to lunch, to a good Mexican restaurant. Bruce met us there and added some enthusiasm and energy to our afternoon. A liked his food, though “prefers Tex-Mex” and we shared some hearty laughs over he and Bruce posing for a picture together holding a vase of flowers – extremely silly and really funny.
Roads were fine today, thankfully, so off we went. The three carpools each had their coffee and donut time, then we met at croquet (which is now indoors for the remainder of the season).  I think the guys all got in two rounds each.
B was right on today! In particular I appreciated it when I started to tell a story about something he and I had done together well over a year ago, and I was only partially the way through the story when he cut in and finished it!
After coffee, as I was driving my group to croquet, Wash Park looked so beautiful  with the big trees covered in snow, and the lake…so I told my guys we were going to detour through the park on our way,  and they started teasing me. The more they tease of course, the funnier it gets. I was pointing things out but M was saying, “I just want more donuts”, I saw something in the lake and asked, “what is that?’ and L said, “a thinga-ma-jigger”,  and I rolled down the windows to point out big branches which had broken off in the snow but all I got was, “roll up the windows!”. I turned to B next to me in the front and said, “I think we should ignore those guys in the back,” and he said, “yeah, they’re no good.” Ha!
Fun too, was when “Wake Up Little Suzie” came on the radio and these guys sang along! That surprised me! And it led to L telling us a story about a similar adventure when he rescued a young couple from embarrassment while he was on the police force.
So we drove the few more blocks to the church which hosts our indoor croquet. It was great to see the other guys arrive bit by bit, as James was just finishing the set up, and  we all got started.  D very well remembered that we played in the church last year, and mentioned a number of times  how when it ends, “we’ll roll up the carpets and put them back where they belong.” He, like many of them,  like chipping in to help whenever possible, grabbing the door or holding something for me, and this is a good example. I actually had to tell D towards the end, “15 more minutes! We still have 15 more minutes of play, then we can all help with cleaning up.” He played  well today, he had some great shots. And R made me laugh  at this puffy-chest sort of stance he made (I’ve never seen him do that!) when he made a good shot, it cracked everyone up who happened to see it. I tried to get him to do it again for a picture, but at least I got M shaking his hand.
Croquet is such a great activity for this bunch, there is an element of silliness but also competitiveness  to it that is just right. I am very grateful that James continues to offer it to us, particularly on the colder days.  T made a shot that got a round  of applause, then he asked his admirers, “what do I win!?” On one of D’s shots that wasn’t his best, he said to me, “well if at first I don’t succeed, I probably won’t the next time either.”
And this kind of blew me away. Goofy M, making us  laugh with his antics. One would think he wasn’t all that focused, but once when I hit the ball he, standing next to me says in all seriousness, “little too long.” and walked away. Hey!
I just remembered this funny moment when we first pulled up to the church this morning. L got out of the car first, then M and B had a bit of complicated maneuvers to get out and not step in a puddle. As they were pondering how they were  going to do that, Lou was kindly standing by, offering a hand if needed. L was trying to talk them  through it, then said, “I know. Try this.” and he broke into: “You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out…” and that did it! Perhaps the distraction? I don’t know, but M got right out of the car  with B behind him.
Lunch was in Morrison at Red Rocks Grill. The drive was scenic for sure. M: “this is a great place to live”. T and Brian sat at one end of the table, both appreciating the music playing all throughout our meal, must have been a Rolling Stones station? R told us about his great looking hat he was wearing today (from a U.S.A. track competition he was in, I believe he said) And I sat next to P at lunch  and got to know him better.  He told me more about the work he did in Washington D.C. and how much he liked a trip his daughter and son-in-law took him on (I assumed he was talking about Georgetown) when they went on a train ride. He also told me how much he liked visiting  Evergreen, as he’s getting to know Colorado better. By the way – we were all told that his son-in-law is “the best one anyone could ask for.”