Lunch at Bistro at Aspen Grove

It was like Christmas in February there was so much joy in the air. I had a pretty good idea it was going to be a special day when I picked up my group in the morning.  We hadn’t even had coffee or tea yet, and the mood was great! J was sitting in the front seat and at one point she leaned over to me and said, ” I hope we don’t laugh ourselves out before we meet the rest of our group”. After J mentioned that, we tried being serious for a while. During this time an ambulance came screeching up behind us with sirens blaring, passing us by pretty quickly. When I mentioned that they really seemed to be in a hurry, E had it all figured out, she said “​I bet they are going out for their coffee break.”​ That was it for the seriousness.

 We had am early lunch reservation so we drove through a coffee shop for tea and coffees, and headed to the Carson Nature Center, where we met Jennifer and her gang. ​The weather ​was wonderful. We  walked out to where the flood marker is alongside the Platte River​. It is 18 feet tall, which is how high the water was at that point in the ​19​65 flood. ​The marker​said that the flood waters went at least a half mile on either side of the banks, with 40 foot waves coming down the Platte and Plum Creek. We  spent a fair amount of time imagining what it must have been like.
As we were walking we saw our usual dogs and fishermen, and had to scratch a few ears, and hear a fish tale or two. One fisherman had just spotted a large red tail hawk, but we were never able to track him down. This Tuesday group likes their hawks. We have spent a lot of time watching those hawks surf the thermals. Jennifer told us the story of picking up V this morning, driving past him and his wife ​without seeing ​them, and then hearing a really loud whistle. ​That was our ​V getting Jennifers attention.  So ​he whistled for us on our walk, and ​i​t was loud​!​
​After our walk, lunch at Bistro Grove. ​Their dining room is all nice wood, ​with ​​painted ​murals on the walls. One half of our table was looking at a street scene in Paris. D and J especially got a kick out of that. ​D had spotted a cat painted under one of the tables.  We also had  a view of a  painting of a waterfall, which was very peaceful​. ​That feeling carried over to the lunch. T even said ​”​it’s really quiet here for as busy as it is.​” ​The food was really good, service friendly and prompt, and they got us out in time to make it to our ​Active Minds ​talk​ on ​N​ASA​,​which was about ​space exploration ​is, has been and where it is going. ​He touched on both the successes and the failures, and left us feeling a bit uncertain about what will happen going forward.
After the talk we headed across the parking lot to a Hallmark Store. The group picked out a set of valentine days cards, and we sat in a ​sunny place to fill them out.  I wish you all could have seen the concentration of everybody’s face. We helped ​them ​write a few things, but by and large, folks did most of the work themselves. There was even some tears as we discussed what to write. I was helping someone with their card and asked if they wanted me to put in some xxxx and oooo’s, and S very proudly pulled his card out, and  ​showed me the back of the envelope where he had put SWAK.

​We hadn’t ​heard that phrase in many years, so of course it opened up a conversation about passing notes in school, and going steady. V brought up dating two girls at one time and someone mentioned that he was “​a player​” ​. I think he liked that. As we were getting ready to leave I said ​”​come on Player​”​to V, and he beamed and said​ “​yep, that’s me.​”​
There was so much laughter and happiness today. So many little moments. V grabbing D’s hand to help her step off a curb, S holding the door at Tattered Cover and having a nice word for everyone who went in, D tearing up as we worked on her card, T going up to our lunch server and telling her how much he appreciated it, and J’s laugh. She laughed often today, and with gusto. The occasional snowball​ thrown around​, and oh the dogs. It was a nice way to spend a day.
This is such a great group, and we really are privileged to be able to spend time with all of them. I hope you all have a Happy Valentines.

Lunch on Tennyson Street and music – great day

Today was full of energy, laughter, color, and music!
 
We started our day at the office this chilly morning with fruit, pumpkin bread, and beverages…just the ladies (Brian joined us around noon), doing what a room full of grown women do.  Tell stories and giggle…a lot. Starting our day in the Out and About Colorado space is very cozy and relaxing. No pressure, no outside distraction, it’s pretty great !
 
​E had a couple of hysterical lines this morning. Mary showed everyone the ​delicious looking ​gluten free cupcakes and said they looked so good that E would​ have to share ​them with everyone. E, who usually denies being gluten free, announced, “Nope! I’m the only one here who is gluten free!” Also, as we were leaving, Mary (who was staying back at the office) told us that a lady would be a the sing a long who is thinking about joining our group, “so everyone needs to behave. Especially you, E” and her quick reply was, “then what fun will it be?”
 
J stretched out on of our couches, we enjoyed seeing her relax​ed​ and enjoying our space. We sat there in conversation for a while, A told us stories about her family and their connection to New Mexico, quite interesting. ​D was laughing hard as she retold stories of joining the “Monday Men”‘s group once, she remembered some pretty specific stories, it was a crack up. And she told ​me ​about outings she was on recently, which ​I had ​missed, in particular ​the ​visit to the Catholic Cathedral and the 911 Call Center.
 
From downtown Littleton we made our way down Sant​a​Fe through the Arts ​D​istrict.  If you haven​’​t been that direction for a while there are tons of big colorful murals painted​ on ​the walls of many of the buildings.  A noticed them ​first ​which  got everyone else looking for them.  That is, of course, ​a ​great​ thing​!  However, we were all looking back and forth across the street​, and ​looking so quickly trying to see what everyone was pointing out​, ​that I just had to make a loop and drive down the street ​again!  
 
The sing a long at the library was fantastic!  I think we were concerned that it might be too ​corny, but ​not even close.  All the gals really enjoyed them​s​elves. We were accompanied by a guitarist and keyboardist​, ​singing songs from the Beatles, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Willie Nelson, John Denver, and Johnny Cash.  Songs like Blowing in the Wind, Amazing Grace, Kumbyah, and Proud Mary.  You should have seen D doing her best Tina Turner singing “Rolling, Rolling, Rolling on the ​R​river”…it was so great to watch.  When asked if we would be returning next month…it was a resounding yes​, ​and thumbs up from J​.
 
​Brian joined us for lunch at the “Cozy Cottage”,​on Tennyson, ​a hit for us. A loved the décor and the food (devoured those scrambled eggs) and said a few times how “cute” it is. D was so talkative, Brian said she’s been like that all week. And she accepted a dare from Brian at lunch and took a spoonful of hot sauce. She was so happy today.
J got one of her favorites – pancakes. And the waitress had to bring us extra syrup! After lunch we had time for a drive in the neighborhood. A and E seemed to remember ​the old ​Elitch’s ​and where it ​used to be (there are still remnants), A commented on the “cute and small” houses, but E was bothered by all the construction and the changes (aren’t most of us?)
Looking forward to next Friday!

Lunch at Spanky’s Grill, a walk at Lowry Sports Center and we learned a thing or two about football!

What a beautiful day we had. 66 degrees on January 18th? Yes please. We had a smaller group today which  gave the day a sense of intimacy. I picked up T first,  and we  stopped on the way to J’s to buy   coffees for the group. We were quite happy with those coffees, sitting in the sun talking baseball, and weather, and whatever else, waiting to meet Jennifer and her carpool.

Once we were all together, we all climbed into one van and explored J’s area.  I took them to a home I lived in as a child,  near  6th and Dayton. Needless to say the area has changed since 1960. We made our way to  the Lowry Sports fields, and walked up the dam. Once we were on top we had spectacular views of the mountains. It’s a good thing J was there,  as we were trying to figure out the names of the peaks, and he was able to straighten us out.  We thought we could even see Wyoming from there, and  T suggested we drive  up that way to see if we were right.
Usually with bigger groups we will break up into smaller groups as we walk, but today we stayed close together. I think the smaller setting  must have helped because both T and J were more verbal and conversational today. And, as usual, D was in a great mood. I’ve forgotten how much I learn from D when we are out on walks. And not only was he sharp, he was quick to laugh and smile. It was nice.
In the afternoon,  we  took the three guys out to lunch at Spanky’s (near DU, great spot for us). J talked about his time at National Parks. He told an amazing story about camping with his daughters (if I’m remembering  correctly) when a herd of bison came upon them (yikes!) and later, wolves.  His stories were terrific, and everyone was entertained. He mentioned what she thought was a national park in New Mexico, but with D’s assistance – and a little help from Google – they decided it was a national monument they were thinking of, at Los Alamos. D told them how he once upon a time seriously considered taking  a job there. And T talked about his travels in Botswana when he was a young man, All  very interesting!
After lunch they got in another walk, on the Highline Canal  beside  Mamie Eisenhower Park. Jennifer  pointed out a baseball field but was corrected by J – nope, that’s a softball field, and he and D taught her why – the baseball field would have had grass in it!  We love these conversations, these interactions, these spontaneous dialogues. Sometimes they can be the most meaningful moments of the day.  D  used words Jennifer had never heard – he  referred to people from  South Dakota  as  “SoDakens” and used the expression “Mile-or-more” when they passed a very brightly colored car. She told me the guys taught her a thing of two today!
After lunch and the walk beside the park, a one hour talk about football, it’s history and it’s future. All the guys seemed to enjoy that hour, and it was a really good day for all!

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.