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Archive for the ‘Denver’ Category

My folks and my brother drove over the Rockies to visit for a few days last week.  Highlights included great food, great company, a hilarious visit to a costume shop, a lovely movie, and most importantly, a chance to see my brother before he leaves for Mali in a couple of weeks.  We also stopped by the Denver Botanic Gardens, which was really the only time I remembered my camera.  Three shots below.

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Friday night: Greece, via the Greek Orthodox Festival at Assumption Cathedral in Denver. Recommended meal: Σουβλάκι, σαγανάκι, and, as an digestif, ούζο. To see: the striking icons painted on the inside of the cathedral dome.

Assumption Cathedral

[My favorite thing to do at festivals that feature public dancing is to pick out the one person that seems to be in another world. Remember the aerobics TV show in the ’80s – spoofed here by SNL – with three effort levels (high, medium, and low)? Well, among the 30+ people dancing on stage at the festival, one man stood out as the clear ‘high level’ participant. Extra gestures, non-required twirls, even a little love triangle involving a woman and another man. It wasn’t clear how that love triangle was supposed to work.]

Saturday night: Japan, via the Cherry Blossom Festival in downtown Denver. Recommended meal: Eat before you make the trip to the festival. We had 寿司, in keeping with the evening’s theme. [For some reason, this event closed up all of its food booths before 7pm, perhaps in an effort to give us the impression of arriving at a foreign city early in the morning with the hunger that jet lag produces? The participants in this festival’s dances were mostly of the ‘low effort’ ilk. Some didn’t even look like they were dancing.]

Sunday night: Africa (mostly Uganda), via a performance of the African Children’s Choir. Recommended meal: we didn’t really do African that night, but Frank could cook you up some delicious gunja (no idea if that’s how it’s spelled) from Central African Republic: spinach stew with a peanut sauce.

[These performers were all decidedly in the ‘very high effort’ category. Seriously. These children, some of whom never stopped smiling during the 90-minute concert, were like Energizer bunnies on Red Bull. Their best numbers, like this one, as performed on American Idol, were traditional African songs. The Celine Dion arrangements – I’m not kidding – didn’t do much for me.]

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1) This morning, I run while listening to an interview with Mariane Pearl.  Just after hearing about how her husband Daniel proudly identified himself as a Jew to his own captors, even recalling the street in Israel named after his great-grandfather Chaim Pearl, I reach a sign that reads “Pearl St”.  I’ve seen it dozens of times, but rarely follow it in the course of my morning run.  Today, on an impulse, I turn right, in memory of Daniel and in honor of Mariane.

2) If I am due for a long run, I look forward to running counter-clockwise around Washington Park.  As I turn north along the eastern edge of the park, I’m greeted with this view (or one like it – I didn’t take the picture):

Wash Park view

3) During a morning run a couple of weeks ago, I saw about thirty young mothers pushing strollers of various sizes and colors (and contents, I’m sure, though I’m pretty sure most had babies in them) along the paved track at Wash Park.  All were doing some type of aerobic exercise as well, and there was something quite moving in their united and synchronized participation in something as simple as walking.

4) On the day after St. Patrick’s Day (or on the very day of St. Cyril, poor guy), two small things made me laugh during a beautiful Sunday run.  First, as I passed a neighborhood bar, a table of women cheered me on.  That never happens to me, and I probably needed it, too.

5) A few miles later, I was tickled to see two green balloons somehow untie themselves from a real estate sign and let themselves go.  Their owners had probably forgotten that Saint Patrick’s Day was over.  Or maybe they were making way for the St. Cyril’s day balloons.

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(almost) summer shows

The first day of summer (today, officially) always sneaks in way too late, kind of like a chronically tardy student. It only seems fair to call it summer if it fits the profile, regardless of the calendar date. Daytime temperature in the eighties? Check. Nice cool breeze in the evening? Check. Cats staying out late at night (and hiding inside during the day)? Check.

For example: Frank and I managed to go to three outdoor, big-name concerts – summer events, to be sure – before spring ran out. So here’s my report.

May 15, Red Rocks Amphiteatre: Björk. The most exhilarating concert I’ve attended. The ‘what will she wear?’ factor is compelling enough to make her shows memorable, but Ms. Guðmundsdóttir (see here for Icelandic naming practices) is much more than a swan dress. (Or, in our case, a tribal-looking shawl thing with raccoon-eye makeup.) And she brought her all-female Icelandic brass choir along with her. Not many can claim to have done that.

June 10, Red Rocks: True Colors Tour: Cyndi Lauper, Erasure, Debbie Harry, The Dresden Dolls, and the Cliks. Hosted by Margaret Cho. We weren’t originally planning on going to this, but we bought tickets from some friends who had extras. First confession: I’m not a fan of “gay culture”. I think it often divides instead of uniting. (This tour, in conjunction with the Human Rights Campaign, supports GLBT rights.) Second confession: several times I was moved to tears during this concert, mostly while looking around at the faces of hundreds of people who have known hurt and exclusion, and who also know, hopefully, the joy of being included, and of loving and being loved. Erasure was amazing, by the way. Mostly for nostalgic, sophomore-year-of-high-school reasons. Other highlights: Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and the Dresden Dolls. Major lowlight: Debbie Harry, what are you thinking? (Or what are you on?)

Last night (June 20), Denver Botanic Gardens: Madeleine Peyroux and Josh Ritter. An attorney at Frank’s work offered these up yesterday, free and last minute. Beautiful setting, weird stage (we saw mostly the back right sides of both artists), lovely night. I gotta say, though, that I think Madeleine Peyroux would be a much better fit in a smoky jazz bar. And she didn’t sound nearly as Billie Holiday-ish as she does on recordings. Josh Ritter, though, was great: funny, charming, personable.

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Artificial people

Just some snapshots of some of the display windows on Broadway in Denver. Enjoy.

Window #1

Window #2

Window #3


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Easy, really.  Just rent a house that the owner plans on selling, take the year to make sure you like it, then do all the irritating paperwork and get the transaction done.  (I’m really bad at the paperwork part – it might as well be in Mongolian as far as I’m concerned.)

We are in the middle of this process, and will close on May 31.  The entire thing has almost been charmed from day one: we found the house via Craigslist, and since we were in Indianapolis at the time, the only way we could get a feel for the place was to ask our friend Christine to take a look at it.  When  she showed up to meet the landlord, they both realized that their daughters went to preschool together.  Those kinds of connections always make things more reassuring; plus, that sort of serendipity has repeated itself several times since we’ve come to Denver, leading to renewed and rediscovered friendships, jobs, and an overall sense of purpose about things that often seem pretty random.  (That’s a very wordy way of saying that we’ve run into various long-lost acquaintances – college and grad school friends and colleagues, Peace Corps folks – in tiny neighborhood churches and in elevators in downtown office buildings.  In most cases, these are people that belong in other times and places and *not* in Denver, Colorado.)

On to the house and neighborhood.  Here are some outside pictures of the house.   First the front:Front

Now the back (imagine more roses in bloom and a cat or two lounging somewhere):Back

And finally, the patio (imagine pots of flowers and another layer of peace flags):

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The house is small, and we’re looking forward to using space in a more strategic and intentional way.   Maybe a dining room table that doubles as a sofabed?  A piano that also washes dishes?

We live in the Baker Historic Neighborhood, where some of our favorite haunts are within a few blocks.  Here are some of the places we go:

The Mayan Theater (old movie theater now showing art films)

The Hornet (great neighborhood restaurant/bar)

Taki Sushi (no link – it’s new!)

Massage Specialists 

Deluxe (great restaurant)

The Episcopal Church of St. Peter and St. Mary

Fancy Tiger (DIY boutique, written up in last Sunday’s New York Times)

Spicy Basil (Thai food)

I’ll quit there – but there’s much, much more.

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This story has a prehistory:

One day when I was an infant (and I depend entirely on what my parents have told me, since I remember nothing of what follows), I became one of those urban legends that you read about in collections of funny stories. My sister even gave me this book, knowing that I was the title character. On this site, the story – though more exaggerated and nail-biting than my own – even occurs in the correct U.S. state (although in the wrong region). What happened was this: we were preparing to take the two and a half hour drive to visit my grandparents. My youngest aunt was twelve years old (or so) at the time, and she had dibs on carrying me out to the car (since my legs didn’t work yet, and because I was the newest addition to the extended family and therefore too cute to resist). After reaching the car, she put the baby seat – with me in it – on the roof of the car so that she could slide into the back seat easily. Presumably, she had counted on someone to give me to her once she was seated. Well, that never happened, and after my parents and older sister all had situated themselves, we began the drive. After a few minutes a woman with a frantic look on her face pulled up next to our car, rolled down her window, and told my parents that there was a baby on top of their car. (I like to think that the woman said this with the same tone one would use to tell someone that there was, say, a dinosaur on top of their car, or a pinball machine.) My parents were understandably Freaked Out, and my mom says there was much shaking and trembling and sweating. Apparently, though, I was as calm as I would be in a rocking chair or in my mother’s arms. And for the record, I harbor no ill will toward anyone involved.

Now for the story:

Two weeks ago, we made plans to celebrate Frank’s birthday by going to an Ethiopian restaurant in town. As is often the case, our silly cat Marcel – we often call him Silly ‘cel, or ask him if he has Silly ‘Cel Anemia – came trotting towards us from across the street as we got to the car. (We have no idea what he does all day, but we have it on good authority that much of it involves sneaking into other people’s houses.) He even jumped into the car for a moment, until we deposited him back onto terra firma so that we could get on our way. After driving for a few blocks, and just before reaching a busy intersection (this one, for you Google-map users), I saw something brownish fall from on top of the car, and at first I thought it was a piece of cardboard, or a piece of wood that someone had thrown at the car. Looking in the rear view mirror, though, I saw that it was an orangish cat. After first thinking that we had hit some poor random tabby, I realized that it was Mr. Marcel, who had apparently jumped on top of the car roof just before we left the house, unknowingly beginning one of the rides of his life. We turned around to look for him, found him hiding under a parked car (with two innocent bystanders looking curiously at him), and returned him to his romping grounds. (He was undamaged, as far as we can tell.)

I like to think that this is an instance of reverse karma, and that Marcel was somehow involved in getting my infant self placed on top of that car in 1973, to punish, in a harmless but jolting way, the driver that forgot to check for loose cats on the top of another car in 2007. If anything can get away with a time-traveling retributive act like that, it’s a cat. Especially Marcel, who still has – according to our best calculations – seven lives left.

Marcel in the tub

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