East High School Choir performance and lunch at Annie’s Cafe

City Park Denver                St Johns Cathedral Denver
Bruce and Steve came back to the office full of enthusiasm for the choir performance today, and time spent at the cathedral.
We naturally talked about religious symbols and traditions, while we were in St John’s Cathedral.  D said he remembers seeing the Pope, E said she remembers attending a mass by the pope. She told us about the carved statues of the saints and the stations of the cross, and the rosary and the kneelers – lots of info from her too! Bruce asked L how he’d like cleaning all those stained glass windows and L said, “I’d pay someone else. Somehow!”The East High School Honor Choir did a very good job and performed a variety of music.  We were lucky to be upfront in the second row to watch and listen.  J was totally focused and afterwards “grinned ear to ear” , saying how very much he enjoyed it.  He and Bruce also got an upclose look at the pipe organ, and conversed about the different buttons – the leather covers, the size of the pipes, how many there were and what they each might do. J soaked it all up.
The music included songs from Lion King, Little Shop of Horrors, classic choir songs, Sister Act, Sam Cook’s Long Time Comin and a  “tradional” song with an interesting story. The choir director said they’ve been performing it over 30 years. The funny thing is, they don’t know who wrote it or why they necessarily are singing it – other then “it’s tradition!”
There was some art on display in the corridors, we have a picture here of E at a painting of a woman. She said the “woman looks sad. She’s disappointed. She is all dressed up, but she’s alone. I think she got stood up”.  And we heard  what we refer to as E’s favorite word – “HOW?!” How did such a  huge church  get built so long ago? How did the stained glass windows get installed so high up? …” And J had a unique experience! As the group was leaving we stopped while she went into the ladies room. Apparently every young lady from the choir was in there changing their clothes! Sounds overwhelming, but J reports they were all very nice to her.
Then to lunch, Annie’s Cafe. Conversations today included Judy talking about the importance of young girls learning skills to take them into adulthood, and how there are more opportunities for career women now. D had on his Alaska hat so that brought up fishing – “did you fish in Alaska, David?’  “No, but I saw a lot of fish. And I ate a lot of fish” funny.  Steve made an observation about D today that I agree with, “he’s happiest when he’s telling his stories”, plus  he’s so good at it.
After lunch a quick visit to City Park to get ourselves moving before heading home. Judy saw the geese and told us a funny story about feeding baby geese once and getting nipped.
Oh – one more funny incident – at lunch today the guys, Steve and Bruce, said they thought it best if a couple of people split their meals since the servings are so large at Annie’s.  L did a playful growl at Bruce when he saw that half his Reuben was gone, and of course we all enjoy that silliness.


Fort Logan in Denver, Lunch in Evergreen at Lariat Lodge

Fort Logan Colorado                                                                                                     
This group is a ball ! Mr Chatter Boxes one and two and three…
We began at Panera and shared pastries, drank coffee,  and the conversations kept on going. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all we talk about,  but Torrey and Jennifer said they heard:
 L and R talking about milking cows. R had a pet cow named Babe that he’d ride out in the field to get the other cows !? This was hard to picture and he answered the guys that yes, a cow is wide, and yes a cow is bony ! Both of the guys, almost in unison, said that “cats disappear when the cows are no longer being milked”. D and L talked about the  variety of clubs and organizations (they are both Rotarians) and explained differences to Jennifer – Rotary, Elks, Peace Corp, Lions Club…And  DU Hockey came up (seems that happens often), everyone seeming to have something to add on that subject.
Our next stop was Ruby Hill Park. We’ve been there  many times over the years and there is always a lot to see; something for everyone. We tried walking on the foam rubber ground in the playground, which is a bit tricky to balance on, and we looked at and played around with the large sundial which actually shows the day, the season, and the time!  Pretty interesting. And the unique bike trails, we discussed those :”for bikes or motorbikes?” the ramps are designed for experienced riders, we know that much.
And then on to our tour, at Fort Logan, of a refurbished military officer’s home. SO much local and military history here, it was hard to get the guys out the door after an hour plus of looking around. There was a display of Armed Forces badges, page after page of them which L, C and R poured over. There was the story about the Weather  Balloon at Fort Logan, and how it was used in the Spanish American War efforts. R focused in on a newspaper article about the balloon, because he noticed it was in the “Littleton Independent”,  dated 1891 which surprised him.  (discovered a new word today, “Balloonatics”) We learned that General Eisenhower and his wife lived on these grounds, L reminisced in the historically renovated kitchen, about the old stove (reminded him of his mother’s homemade pies)  and admired the fireplace which had been stripped down to the original wood and beautifully stained. We were told that the butler was able to use a creatively designed area attached to the radiator, to keep trays of food warm. There was a cannon in the front yard which T  posed next too, pretending to set it off, a cannon used both in the Civil War and WW I   Torrey said, of this museum, “everyone was totally into it. “
Back in the car, Jennifer said L and C were with her, and cracking her up as they challenged each other with Clint Eastwood movie trivia.
We drove up the hill to Evergreen, and had lunch at Lariat Lodge. Everyone’s food came at once except C. Jennifer asked him “aren’t you going to eat anything?” and he answered, “no I’m just going to drool”. Oops! His meal was delayed, but otherwise all went well.
You will see in one of these pictures that  found a name tag with Jennifer’s name on it. So, of course, he wore it the entire day and that became a running joke. “Jennifer, will you?…” “Ask Jennifer if…”
Plenty of joking around today and exploring and enjoying companionship, that’s for certain!

Big Blue Bear in Denver, books and live music

Our “delightful” Bear

Denver Convention Center

downtown Denver “pebbles” ?!

We began our day with snacks and drinks and exploring a book store. The Elvis book, and Aretha Franklin book – those two generated lots of conversation. P looked at a picture of Elvis and said, “now that was a few years ago”, and J told us how much her mother used to like Elvis. S and I talked about Elvis and Buddy Holly and P reminded us of James Brown too – the early rock and roll stars who danced in their own unique ways. L did a mini-impression for us. We talked about what we like to read. J quickly said, “Murder Mysteries. I know that sounds strange but I love trying to figure out who did it”. I turned to P to ask what he likes to read and he said “Mad Magazine” so quickly we all burst into laughter.

T enthusiastically pointed out a Van Gough art book and also told Torrey, “I could stay here all day” He was having a ball .
J was drawn to the animal books, the science books, the music books – really, we had to pretty much drag everyone out of there to go to our next destination!
We went from the book store to downtown Denver, our first stop being the Convention Center and greeting the Big Blue Bear.  On our 2 block walk from the car  to the building, we passed by some artificial grass and  rock formations.  J thought the grass was a good idea – it stayed green and “didn’t grow too long” ha! And P liked the large rocks, which he referred to as “pebbles” . But then we came across what I guess is an artistic arrangement of those rocks and that struck P so funny, “What is that!?”
We posed for some pictures by the bear, and someone handed us an information sheet. So we discussed it’s height (40 feet) and the cost of construction ($425,000) and it’s name (“Blue”) and then then J pointed out that we assume it was a he, “why can’t it be a she?” S said, “it’s just delightful”, which sums it up for me, I love that big old thing. Walking there I held on to her  arm and  said, “I don’t want to lose you”. She said, “thank you. I don’t want to be lost”.
Our next adventure was lunch at Dazzle Jazz. I think everyone enjoyed the live music. The band played for the first half hour we were having lunch, that timing worked out well for us, having live entertainment as we waited for our food and as we began eating. J was impressed at how young the trio was, and when they finished,  L said, ” I’m loving this”, and when they finished T headed up to say hello to the band – Torrey joined him, and later said the drummer was  touched by T’s compliments.
A pretty magical day, actually. The cold wind prevented us from doing as much walking as we’d like, but we did keep moving – and air drumming, and laughing and exploring.

Two State Parks today! Roxoborough and Chatfield.

Roxborough State Park                        at Chatfield State Park                              Busy day!
We began at City Donuts in Litlteon, gathering, muching, heating up and …dancing! There was music playing overhead  which P so enjoyed that she went up to the man at the counter to compliment him! She asked Jennifer, “do you know the name of this singer?” then broke into her  very best James Brown OWW! So she’s now the best animal noise maker in our group,  but also the best James Brown imitator.  
We  then took a scenic drive through Chatfield State Park and that Jennifer! She made us get out for a quick stretch and walk, which was actually just right.  Some of our folks were cold but everyon was exceptionally appreciative of the beautiful scenery we saw. Torrey asked L if he was cold and he said, “Yes, but I’ll save my whining for later” !
Jennifer said P  was in the front seat next to her on the drive through the park, and along the foothills, and it seemed he couldn’t get enough of it. He kept pointing things out to her, saying how much he was enjoying the view, and finding trails, showing her which  direction they were leading. Really absorbed.  
The group looked out over the reservoir where there were a half dozen ice fisherman. Torrey asked T if he’d want to join them. T: “uh. Only if there is  a hut!”
Then to “the cabin” near the park, where we had lunch, walked around visiting the farm animals, and undertook a service project, packaging donations for a food pantry. 
The cabin is at the south end of Chatfield State Park, with lots of farm animals. P  and her animal noises!  At the farm she was chatting with the goats, and actually is sincere about how she enjoys communicating with animals, it was very dear.   And T  and a  goat had a bleating competition that went on for a few minutes, it made T laugh hard! Jennifer too – watching T stick his tongue out and go blahhh to that goat and the goat doing it back at him!
P and J took over prep work for our lunch, slicing and dicing, others were helping as well, we had motown music playing overhead, and a fire in the fireplace. Then we filled the boxes with crackers and canned veggies and apple sauces and pretzles, which took lots of organizing, sorting, counting, assembly, then clean up!  
The group next headed up into Roxborough Canyon for a very nice drive – J was just loving it. She was so appreciative, and said she felt lucky. 
 On the bumpy dirt road towards the State Park Visitors Center, an old mangy coyote crossed in front of the car and J  recalled once being faced by “two big cats” (mountain lions?) while on a hike.
Once at the Visitors Center we climbed out to do a bit more walking, get the blood flowing, everyone did great. Inside we chatted with the ranger and also were treated to their short film about the history of the park.  Thank you to the team at Roxborough State Park for being so accommodating, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit today. 
One more stop before heading home, out for hot chocolate. We visited Atlas Coffees for the first time. The tall windows gave us another good view and we were grateful for the comfortable chairs and quiet space. 

Such a nice lunch at The Bent Fork, and good weather for our walk at a state park

lunch at the Bent Fork in Aurora                                     
Bruce had time off over the holidays and took it easy at home. He told me after the outing today  how “being back with these guys refreshed me. It picked me up. I needed it.”
The group came to the office for snacks and drinks, and it seems to me we laughed about every second they were here.
Bruce showed us a dance his daughter taught him then he did the twist (sort of), then he and Torrey did a Lawnmower Dance, it was awesome, very funny.  I later asked Bruce to do his  “wierd dance move again ” for the camera. He asked “which one?” and L said, “they were all wierd!”
I stayed put and everyone left from here to tour the Aurora History Museum. Lots to see there, they didn’t even see  two of the rooms. We had Dave as our guide, he’s helped us before. What we liked in particular was how he could “go with it”, Bruce said. When some of us wanted to wander away to check out a particluar exhibit, he’d follow and point things out,  or make  himself available for questions. He connected well with our group and the grand finale was the restored trolley where everyone climbed aboard. It brought back memories for J, she said, of riding on one. We learned that the trolley could run down Colfax but would stick to the middle of the street which made it necessary for passengers to either wait in the street or run across it to get onboard. So electric buses which could more easily move from one side of the road to the other, eventually replaced the trolley.
E commented on the display showing photos of people wearing their head to toe swimming outfits, back in the day. And a historic photo of a  couple of gals walking into a restaurant “too dressed up. They look like trouble”. J was amazed by the display showing Aurora’s old  main water line pipe made of wood, D liked the pictures of old Colfax businesses, the theatres and restaurants.
They stayed in the museum, walking around for about 40 minutes, then walked back to the cars which were a little distance away. Fortunately the weather was chilly but not windy.
Lunch was a bit upscale for us, The Bent Fork. I knew this group would appreciate the menu. Torrey had called ahead and was able to have a special table in the back room reserved for us. It’s in sort of an enclosed patio, and that meant a lot in particular to J, as it was similar to a room she has in her own home, and she enjoyed looking at the indoor plants and  out the windows.
After lunch we  headed to Cherry Creek State Park. The temps had warmed up and we were able to get a walk in. D pointed out the camping area. He shared memories of being there for a long weekend, and  “hooking up the RV”. They walked almost a 1/2 mile. They found a helicopter drone field, watched that then got to talking about airplanes, (E: “HOW do they fly!? They’re so heavy?”) and J pointed out the moon was already up. Next they went to place that sells  dairy free ice cream, “Sweet Cow” at Platte Park, which   everyone enjoyed. We parked 2 blocks away so snuck in another walk!
Thank you Torrey, for discovering a youtube of music from old T.V. shows and movies. He was alone with P for the last 1/2 hour or so, and they played guessing games in the car as they listened to this music.  Torrey was amazed when P said, “listen, that’s Chopsticks”, playing in harmony with the My Three Sons theme. Whoa!

I was so happy  to see the group here around the table this morning, we talked about New Year’s resolutions (E, “I never make any. I guess because I’d forget I made them!”). We talked about games we played as a child (which was initiated by something P said. I had asked him what sport he was best at and he said, “Tiddlewinks” Ha!), board games, Shoots and Ladders, card games. D told us how much the “kids enjoyed” (but I think he did too) spraying Silly String all over each other one day at his home over the holidays. P blew the horn, E popped the poppers, and Jennifer threw confetti all over us!
P – Torrey told me – ‘Laughed like crazy all day today”. He was indeed joyful from the minute we saw him. He made everyone else laugh at lunch with a funny head twirl he did in imitation of the waitress, she thought it was great too. We ate at “Malones” in Arvada, a good spot for us. Nearby is Van Bibber Park and Trails, and by this time in the afternoon the snow had melted well enough to make for an enjoyable walk. J pet every dog we passed.  Some of us  zipped ahead with Jennifer and the whole group was amazed at this house under construction. D:”a triplex?” J: “it has three porches!”. So great to stop and really look at what we’re seeing sometimes.
This was a nice long walk today, and D in particular expressed how much he appreciated it.
We visited the Quilt Museum today and were lucky to receive an impromptu tour by one of the artists. His enthusiasm was contagious, P said, “he sure likes what he does!”
We learned a lot about the art of quilting, the way it portrays our American history and the many different  artistic  styles.
We didn’t have a tour scheduled, but the guide overheard E asking ‘How…?” – which is so her ! – love that curiosity. He came over to answer her question then spent time with us, which was wonderful.
A main theme of the current exhibit is  hexagons, they were everywhere. J noticed a sign that said there were 1300 in the one quilt and Jennifer said she was afraid he was going to try and count them all! D noticed not only did one quilt have many hexagons in it, but the quilt was in the shape of one.  And P knows that his buddy Torrey loves puns, so grabbed his attention to show this funny sign to him (attached).
J  had a great day too, Torrey recalls one funny thing he said. Torrey was complimenting his full head of hair and asked, “is it called salt and pepper?” Jerry:” just salt”.
Happy New Year everyone, see you in 2020 !

Littleton Historical Museum today, and browsing through Barnes & Noble

Littleton Historical Museum                      Littleton Historical Museum
Bruce’s description of today: “slow and steady, kept on rollin”
We began over coffee at the Starbucks inside Barnes & Noble, which we thought would be cozy and warm on this cold morning.
Our choice of coffee stops  proved better then planned, because after coffee we wandered around the bookstore quite a bit and kept that warm feeling going. Everyone was engaged – you’ll see J here more excited about the faux furs holiday gifts then the books nearby! – though I know she loves books, and brings the subject of reading up frequently, but of those blankets “we need this on our couch!”  D and S  in particular liked  leisurely browsing through the shelves, the subjects that grabbed them were sports, planes, cars, military, planets, space… At one point J walked over to read a sign over E’s head, and she ducked to get out of his way which he thought was funny since they are about a foot apart. Jennifer reminded her how short she is  compared to Jerry and the other guys. P said, “you don’t have to duck!” and bent down to make her laugh too.
D saw a book about Taos “just like my shirt says”, and we all gathered around the “Great Speeches” book and tried to identify all the famous people on the cover. We saw books about Tiger Woods and Nelso Mandella. D picked out familiar authors Balducci and Grisham.  And also the posters on the wall of classics like Gone With The Wind (Jennifer laughed while  telling me how everyone had to say, “Frankly My Dear…”) Bruce said, “we were all over that bookstore”. And we learned something about D. He does NOT like listening to books on CD in the car, ha! no hesitation about that!
Then on to the Littleton Historical Museum. One of their exhibits is leaving soon, it’s about toys and “The Way We Played”, and though this was a repeat for some we wanted to hit it up again before it’s too late. Everyone seemed to like it.  J was bothered by the Ken doll (“legs are too long, arms are too skinny”). The doll house brought back memories for D – when he looked inside it he saw a rocking chair and told us how he got one when his children were little, and how special those times were to him.
There was art on display too – the quilt depicting stilettos was a favorite of J’s, “those purple heels!” And a piece called “Floating Down Brown’s Canyon”. I’m not sure what that meant but P was sure he had been there.  And a painting of a camper van that David pointed out to Jennifer – “there you are”, as he recalled last week her mentioning she’d like to get an RV someday!
There is a lot to see outdoors at this museum and it seemed to be warming up, so they gave it a go. The group was able to walk around and at least say hello to some of the farm animals, which E and J couldn’t get enough of.
Then to lunch. The guys and gals split up, Jennifer took E and J to Village Inn. J told Jennifer how much she enjoyed listening to the children laughing at another table. Sunshine and flowers and children laughing, that’s a great day for Judy – we didn’t have much in terms of flowers today, but we got some sunshine and children for her!  Bruce took the guys to Los Dos Potrillos. And on the way home the guys had a little extra time so detoured through Chatfield State Park. Bruce has been noticing how  P is verbalizing more appreciation for nature and scenery lately. He always has, but I agree that more often nowadays he’s expressing gratitude for simply looking out the car windows at the mountains and rocks and sky.

Stern Park in Littleton and lunch at Great Beginnings

donations for the food pantry
what a full, fun, busy day
Morning snacks at a donut shop…you’ll see here G greeting everyone there by making funny faces in the window.
Then to our office where we did a project, sorting through and compiling donations to the food pantry.  This went well, it took us about a half hour and everyone understood and appreciated the importance of our work.
Then! on a walk in Stern Park, where we watched ducks sliding around on ice, P doing her awesome imitation of  duck and goose sounds, and L pulled Bruce aside to point out construction of a home  nearby – all the while everyone talking about movies and Christmas and Christmas music and enjoying being in the sunshine.
Then! to Lone Tree Arts Center which was, according to Jennifer, “very successful”. There was so much to see. Large paintings and portraits that kept us engaged. Near one of them Jennifer asked the group, “is that of a sunrise? or a sunset?” and G broke into song “Sunrise, Sunset”. He’s hilarious.  P had so much to say about the portraits in particular. “This man is thinking about the things he’s done in his life and feeling badly”. or “he must work in service to his country, his hat is camo”  F  liked the colorful drawing of a dog in a chef’s hat until Jennifer said, “but he’s frying a cat”, which F  thought was terrible! T liked the painting you’ll see here of a road in the fog. It must have  reminded him of the part of the country he grew up in. He said, “you’re not supposed to go there today”, as if the artist was indicating the weather was going to worsen. I LOVE taking groups to view art, it’s so incredible to see how each piece affects us differently.
Lunch today was at Great Beginnings, another hit. Funny subjects came up like the fact that everyone had cantalope as a side dish. What’s the difference between cantalope and honey dew and star furit and musk melon. And what the heck is musk melon anyway!? Jennifer tossed a folded up napkin at someone, who tossed one at someone else and so on…L was laughing hard at this and Jennifer said, “but you started it!” “HA! No I didn’t!”  he said. He had a fun day for sure.
Before heading home the groups drove over Dam Road at Cherry Creek State Park – so the jokes were all “dam” related, the dam park, the dam road, the dam bathrooms. So silly. P especially laughed at this and added more then a little to the conversation.
And Jennifer’s group had a bit more time so got out at the park to see the model airplane field, which she said T and P were really interested in. The sun  was strong and  in Tim’s eyes and he was uncomfortable. Jennifer said, “do you need a hat?” at which point Gary reached over and put his own hat on T’s head. Ahhh…  Then P pointed out a large dog in the distance, “NO!” said T, “that’s a huge coyote!” (which it was)
Fun adventures, all day long.

History Colorado’s Scenic Historic Byways

At History Colorado today there was absolutely something  for everyone. The entire group was thrilled to see the photo collection of “Scenic and Historic Byways” of Colorado, what beautiful images!
The quilt on display  was sewn by a slave from Missouri, after her death her husband brought the quilt with him to Colorado. J and E were in love that quilt and the story.
And John Denver’s guitar! When J saw it she broke into song – Country Roads, Take Me Home. Then she reminded us that she was born in West Virginia, and P told us about his relatives in Virginia.
We also took a walk in a park this morning and saw this silly creature plus of course the usual geese and ducks who are also silly! We went out to lunch and had such a good time today, lots of connections between everyone.

Liks for Ice Cream and an Active Minds talk about haunted places in Denver