Page Turner.

Guys – I hope you had a lovely weekend.  Mine was great!  I hiked (more on that soon), went out with friends, and visited a neat bookstore in Denver’s West Highlands neighborhood.

Denver's West Side Books

This place (West Side Books) is exactly what a little independent bookstore should be.  The shelves were stacked with new, used, and rare books, with everything from dime store Westerns and romance novels to volumes about dinosaurs and presidential biographies.  Their kids’ section was my favorite, though: they had all the old Nancy Drew books, which were my favorite growing up.

I treated myself to a used hardcover copy of David Rakoff’s Half Empty only to realize after I got home that I already own this book on my Kindle and have, in fact, read it several times.  Oh well – somebody is getting a really great birthday present.

If you are ever in the Highlands, be sure to swing through!

Swing Dance.

During my morning run to Starbucks, even though I could see my breath, the air had that feel of Florida in the Spring, early in the morning before the sun has warmed the sand.  Sure enough, it turned into a beautiful day.  To take advantage of the blue sky and light breeze, I took a book and an apple to a nearby park.

Swings

When I arrived, the playground was deserted, so I sat on one of the swings overlooking a nearby pond.  How long as it been since you’ve been on a swing?  If it’s been a while, you should remedy that straightaway.  I gripped the metal chains and kicked off the wood chips, enjoying the familiar squeak and whine of the metal and the exciting rush of gaining speed and height.

Once I finished swinging, I walked down to the pond and watched the wind ripple the water towards the shore, around a half submerged tumbleweed.  It was so calm and quiet.

Pond

I found a bench and ate my crisp apple while reading my book.  The wind kept blowing pieces of my hair in my face, but I was so grateful to be sitting outside that I didn’t care.  I simply enjoyed breathing deeply, listening to the distant shouts of exuberant teenagers, and feeling the warmth of the sun.

Hallelujah, By and By.

Do you ever get that feeling, when you’re looking at one of your parents, when you just love them so much that you fear you can’t hold it all, and surely something inside you will explode from the beauty and glee and gratitude and fear?  I felt that way earlier as I watched my mom look through photos of her own mother, who passed away on Sunday morning.  (I have a funny relationship with that term, “passed away,” but I use it deliberately here because “died” has too much finality.)

Life sometimes feels like a series of tangents.  Sentences that you start with the intention of finishing, and then they’re forgotten halfway through.  As we flipped through crumbling old albums, laughing at the perms and the oversize eyeglasses, we remembered an old favorite dress, or a long since broken toy.  The sound of a voice you haven’t heard in fifteen years speaks again, preserved in the mind’s mysterious channels.  You remember the warm scent of Belgian waffles still crisp from the iron, and the pure pleasure of dipping a spoon into a half-frozen glass of milk.

You can feel the scrape of the rough plaid basement carpet on your feet again, and the panicked joy of racing your cousins up the stairs, or around the yard in search of Easter eggs.  You remember hours around a nicked up old kitchen table playing Uno, Skip-Bo, Racko, or Euchre.  Or sneaking into the kitchen after Grandma was asleep, using up all her vanilla extract in uniformly unsuccessful cooking experiments but never getting into trouble for it.  You remember riding in the back of a car that always smelled like Trident gum, and listening to talk radio.

These memories are but a tiny sliver of a life that began in the hills of Virginia and traveled so many unexpected paths, including the one she is surely on now.  Religion can be a touchy topic, and my own beliefs have certainly changed and grown along with me, but  I truly believe that her husband and daughter greeted my Grandma in Heaven with a hug and a hearty “Welcome home.”

A Quick Note.

Hello friends.  I might not be around this week, so I thought I’d give you all your valentine a little early.

Valentine

(Sorry it’s not chocolate – still waiting for someone to invent Wonka-vision.)

I feel blessed to have such an awesome family and so many wonderful friends.  My life is filled with more love than anyone could ask for.  Thank you all for being you.

Barred for Life.

So close...

So close…

Do you see that sliver of silver in the photo above?  That, friends, is Barr Lake.  As you may remember, my first attempt to reach the lake was unsuccessful, as was my second.  On this sunny Saturday, I decided to try again.

As I drove towards the lake, flocks of hundreds of geese flew overhead across the blue sky, streaked by delicate clouds and jet streams.  I pulled into the lot at the edge of the park, hopped out of my Honda, and took a deep breath of warm February air.  (Yes, you read that right – it was almost 60 today.  Have I mentioned how much I love Colorado?)  A line of pine trees led to the lake, which I could just glimpse across the field.

Before I stepped three feet from the car, my spidey senses detected movement.  Camouflaged movement.  Turns out those geese overhead weren’t just for decoration.

After hearing the first loud pop, I turned and saw a flash of fire from one of the hunter’s rifles as he shot at the geese flying directly over my car.  Something (BULLET SHRAPNEL?) landed and skittered across the lot behind me.

I promptly turned on my heel, got back onto the car, and decided to return to Barr Lake when the only thing in season is sunshine.

In Brief.

Hi friends!  I’ve been AWOL recently.  Fun things have been happening, as they are wont to do here in Denver – I saw Craig Morgan play at the Grizzly Rose (more on that later), watched a shirtless man play a keytar (much more on that later), and ate a ridiculously amazing breakfast burrito (read more about that here).

Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of any of this to share with you.  Nobody regrets that more than I do; however, I’m pretty sure it’s been said that 1,000 words equal a picture, so I will attempt to paint a couple below.

Grizzly Rose: Craig Morgan concert

My wonderful cousins invited me along for their “redneck girls’ night” to see Craig Morgan, of “Redneck Yacht Club” fame, play the Grizzly Rose.  We met for Mexican food to fuel up before the show (tamales smothered in green chili…mmm…) and headed to the venue.  The Grizzly Rose is a magical place where you can drink a beer, watch live music, line dance, ride a mechanical bull, and buy a pair of Wranglers.  You can also wear daisy dukes in January, a matching camo-print sweatshirt and baseball cap, or a western shirt with Yosemite Sam emblazoned on your back.

The opening band was decent – they played a mix of original songs and covers, including personal favorite “Strawberry Wine” – and Craig Morgan has very nicely toned arms.  We danced, sang, and saluted our veterans and active military members.

In short, it was amazing.  They offer free dance lessons, which I fully intend to attend.  I’ll be sure to take photos next time.

The Bluebird Theater

A few of us attended the “Third Annual Faceman’s Waltz” at the Bluebird Theater.  What does that mean, you ask?  Hell if I know.  A friend’s former coworker’s awesome band (The Knew) was playing, so to the Bluebird we went.  (Side note: any of you watch Nashville?  I know it’s a different Bluebird, but I pretended I was going to see Deacon, who is a stone cold fox…)

The theater itself was so cool – it feels old but not neglected, like notes from shows in the ’50s still hang in the blue velvet curtains.  It’s a cozy venue, and every seat in the house is a great one, but the music is so great, you’ll be standing.  This particular show was comprised of a bunch of funky bands, including one with a guy wearing a fur vest, and was hosted by a very abrasive Buddy Holly-esque emcee.  My favorite band, other than The Knew, was a shirtless solo artist rocking a white-guy fro and a keytar.  I don’t know how to describe the sounds coming out of this man’s body.  It was a combination of growls, yelps, and some gibberish…they may have been real words, but I was so flabbergasted by the whole scene that I browned out.

After the show, we headed to Pete’s Kitchen for some late-night breakfast burritos: the perfect conclusion to a lovely weekend.