Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I took the above photograph as I was approaching my workplace on East Colfax Avenue here in Denver yesterday morning. It did seem a bit on the chilly side, but I didn't learn until later that it reached a record 19 below zero yesterday - pretty damn chilly indeed. And as I was walking to work, I was thinking to myself, "Wait minute - my sister and I own a condo in Florida. Near the beach. On a beautiful river. Where it is warm all year round. And we are here why?" An excellent question. I definitely need to consult with my sister Susan on this issue in the next couple of days.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
This week marks exactly one year since I quit my job as a Rural Carrier at the Highlands Ranch, Colorado Post Office to become the Bookkeeper at a local Bookstore chain. I reminisced about working at the Post Office as I waited for the bus to work this morning. It was snowing, the temperature was in the single digits, and the forecast is for more snow and even colder temperatures (18 below is predicted for tonight) over the next few days. Do I miss working outside in these conditions until 8:00 or 9:00 o'clock each evening, being paid "by the route" instead of by the hour? I might be eccentric (i.e.crazy), but I'm not nuts. Time to board my warm bus that will take me to my heated office for the day.
Monday, December 29, 2014
No - it is not L.A. It is Tehran, Iran. I am currently reading City of Lies by British-Iranian journalist and writer Ramita Navai. It paints a pretty dark picture of the City of Tehran and the country of Iran as a whole. This is in sharp contrast to the picture painted by Rick Steves in his one hour travel special on Iran. After visiting the third world country of Egypt (I use a snapshot from that adventure, by the way, as my office computer's "wallpaper," as seen in the photograph above), I was actually thinking of giving Iran a try. Not only because of Steve's enthusiastic report, but also because I hear the Motel 6 in North Tehran has really great rates these days. But not now. In fact, I am even starting to have nightmares about being a secret agent on the run in Iran, and so I think a vacation there right now is out. Perhaps I'll wait until a more adventurous soul travels there first. Perhaps even Cheyanne, recently returned from two years in Mozambique (see yesterday's Blog or check out Cheyanne's Blog at www.timeinmozambique.blogspot.com).
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Cheyanne, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique for the past two years, has returned home at last. Her friends and family threw a surprise party for her last night at Salsas Mexican Restaurant, located in some place called Wheat Ridge, Colorado. It was all very festive, and since it was exactly 21 days since Cheyanne left Africa, the event was totally Ebola free - talk about a win-win situation! Cheyanne and her mother,Valarie, are posing in the photograph above, with one of her friends (Teagan?) flashing the victory sign in the background. Welcome home Cheyanne!
Saturday, December 27, 2014
It was a White Christmas in Colorado this year, with Fort Collins receiving the most snow - around 6 or 7 inches judging from the photograph above. It was all very pretty, but not so pretty getting there without a car. Christmas Day for me was like a remake of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. I took the Light Rail Train from home to the Greyhound Bus Station downtown (a lovely place to visit if you happen to be in town, by the way) and found out the bus had been canceled due to bad weather conditions on I-80. And so yes - they do cancel buses, if you have ever asked yourself that question. Then I took the train home and found that, unlike a few days ago, rental cars were available! I then took the Light Rail Train downtown and took the bus to Denver International Airport, conveniently located close to the Kansas border, to pick one up, since that was the only office open on Christmas Day. By the time I finally got the car, it was 4:00 P.M. and the snowstorm had started. Nothing like a nighttime drive in a snowstorm across the Great Plains to put you in the Christmas spirit! In any case, I got to my sister Susan and brother-in-law George's home by 6:00 P.M. and spent a very pleasant evening there, coming back the following afternoon. All in all, a successful trip. Hope all of you also had a wonderful Christmas!
Friday, December 26, 2014
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Yes. Once again, I am featuring another one of my favorite family holiday photographs in honor of Christmas Day. In the photograph above are (from left to right) my mother Mary, my sister Susan, yours truly (several years ago, of course), and my father Nelson, posing in the living room of our house in the South Side Brainerd neighborhood of Chicago. This photograph, by the way, is the only one I own - holidays or not - that features all of us together. A true classic, especially of my sister, posing for the camera in her inimitable way. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
It's Christmas Eve Everyone! And in honor of that, I am featuring my favorite photograph of my parents during the holidays, sitting in the den of our house in the Brainerd neighborhood of Chicago. I know I have used this photograph in the past, but frankly, I don't care. It brings back such happy memories that I just feel the need to feature it again this year. Am I a sentimental fool or what? The vote is in - "a what." What?
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
I stopped by the Cherry Creek Mall here in Denver to do a little Christmas shopping yesterday evening and noticed that Santa was doing a very brisk business. The line snaked all through the center of the mall, and almost every parent was opting to have a photograph taken of their child sitting on Santa's lap. At the same time, on the other side of the mall, a group of protester's was staging a "death-in" to protest the police shootings in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City. Talk about a study in contrasts. Mall Management, by the way, was not happy. Surprise!
Monday, December 22, 2014
Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, and therefore I decided to stop on my walk home from work at the Vine Street Pub and Brewery at 17th and Vine Street here in Denver. The Vine Street Pub and its sister brew pub, Mountain Sun Brewery in Boulder, are big Druid hangouts, and last night the place was packed with people celebrating the Winter Solstice. The Gypsy Kings were performing live, and the beer was flowing. This was only the second or third time I have visited this establishment, since they do not take credit cards. Yes! Scary but true. I guess it must be some sort of Druid thing. Watch your step there or you could be washing dishes until the wee hours.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
My classic 1987 Honda Civic Sedan is dead. Dead, but not forgotten, since it is sitting in my parking space and I will need to find a way of disposing of it. But on the bright side, Denver's RTD (Regional Transportation District) has installed a bus stop sign right in front of my apartment building. In fact, if I am running late in the morning, I could even leap from the balcony of my 4th floor condo and still catch the bus to work. Talk about wonderful! Of course, this location has always "officially" been an RTD bus stop, but since there were no signs to indicate it, the bus drivers would refuse to stop there, even if you begged, pleaded, and started crying uncontrollably, which I have done on more than one occasion. In any case, since the signs are now up, I will be able to avoid having to walk those 8 precious minutes to the University of Denver Light Rail Station each morning. Talk about a really great Christmas gift! Life is good.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
When I first started this Blog, I asked people at the University of Denver Bookstore if they wanted to be featured on it, and almost everyone seemed pretty enthusiastic and wanted to participate. But eventually, most of my co-workers became very hesitant about it, and told me that they were now in the Federal Witness Protection Program and could never be photographed again. I thought this was just a fluke, but now I am working at a totally different place, and the pattern is just the same. My office-mate Peter (seen in the photograph above with his back turned) now refuses to be directly photographed. He did not specifically say he was in the Federal Witness Protection Program, but he was very clear about not wanting his face to ever appear on this Blog again. And just what is the deal with that? Perhaps the problem is that Peter and all the rest of them actually started reading the Blog. Big mistake.
Friday, December 19, 2014
I have always considered myself a hip, happening kind of dude, which is how I imagine everyone else sees me too, but I have to admit that I never heard of Cary Elwes until a couple of weeks ago. Elwes (in the photograph above on the right) appeared in front of a packed house at the Tattered Cover Bookstore last night to discuss his new book, As You Wish, which describes the making of the movie The Princess Bride, in which he starred. I have never seen The Princess Bride, which probably explains why I have never heard of Elwes. He seems like a personable guy, and told some amusing stories about his co-stars and the making of the movie. I briefly considered renting the film, but during the Q&A part of the evening, I learned that Jim Carrey also stars in the movie, and so forget it. No way. Nothing personal Cary.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Today marks exactly one week until Christmas, and in honor of that I am featuring photographs of both my sister and myself visiting with Santa Claus. Of course, the photograph of my sister was taken many, many, many years before my photograph. Also, careful observation of the photographs show that the Santa with my sister is an old fashioned, circa 1950 Santa, while the Santa with me is a more modern, contemporary, circa 1960 Santa. I'm just sayin'.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
The City of Denver is celebrating the holidays big time these days at the newly remodeled Union Station, with the whole outside of the place lit up and a Christmas tree out front for the first time in three years. They also have a tree inside the station, although if you use a tripod to take a photograph, the RTD (Regional Transportation District) Police take you away and you are never seen again. To avoid spending the holidays locked in a deserted rail car in a forgotten part of the city, I decided to stick with just photographs of the outside of the building this year. Such is life in the new millennium, where photography seems to have become a crime. Go figure.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
I checked out the Facebook Page of Cheyanne, daughter of my friend Valarie and for the past two years a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique, and she is slowly working her way back home to Denver. After stops in Lisbon and London, she is now touring Ireland, and can be seen in the above photograph chipping away at the rocks on the Cliffs of Moher, high above the Atlantic Ocean. Best of all, she reports no symptoms of Ebola on her Facebook page. Traveling through Europe without Ebola. What could be more perfect?
Monday, December 15, 2014
I finished the book The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson this past weekend and must say I really enjoyed it. It is the story of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and H H Holmes - the first serial killer in US history. Holmes killed scores of young women at his World's Fair Hotel in the South Side Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. I had wanted to read the book ever since I saw a short feature about the story on WGN Television News one night (see it yourself at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kntRF16RMy0). A WGN reporter interviewed Jeff Mudgett, the great great grandson of Holmes (Holmes real name was Mudgett), and followed him on a tour of the Englewood Post Office, the site of Holmes' "torture castle." It seems to me that Mudgett and the reporter implied the Post Office was the actual building where Holmes did his killing. If I had paid closer attention, I would have heard a local historian saying that the original building was just east of the present post office. Which means of course that I was right about one thing - those ghostly, agonized screams coming from the basement of the post office are not from Holmes' victims but from the ghosts of postal employees past.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Yes. It is hard to believe, but my classic 1987 Honda Civic sedan is giving me trouble once again. It stopped right in the middle of busy University Boulevard on my way to work Thursday morning, and I was very lucky to be able to coast to a less busy street before the car came to a stop. Of course, even though I had my flashers on, people still honked their horns at me and gave me dirty looks as they went around. Filthy scumbags one and all, and I mean that with all due respect. In any case, since I have AAA on speed dial and told them I was in the middle of Mississippi Avenue facing imminent death, the tow truck came right away and towed my car away. I called up the auto repair place to let them know to expect it, and as usual, they seemed less than enthused to be seeing it again. The usual greeting is "You still have that old Honda?" In any case, they will take a look at it this coming week. Probably just needs a fuse or something.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
I had beer and sandwiches Thursday night at the Old Chicago on Colorado Boulevard here in Denver with my friend Stuart, seen in the above photograph sporting his new glasses. Stuart is a graduate of the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Since the school is in the process of constructing a new building on campus, I am sure Stuart will be sending them a sizable check soon. I also am a DU graduate, having received an MBA from DU's Daniels College of Business. However, since I was laid off because of outsourcing from the DU Bookstore after 30 years of loyal service as their Finance Manager, I cannot afford to send DU a check, sizable or otherwise. And I am definitely NOT bitter about this. Not me. No way. No how. Send DU a donation? I would if I could but I can't so I won't.
Friday, December 12, 2014
In yesterday's Blog I mentioned my Grandmother Hoyt, and so today I thought I would feature some photographs of my grandparents, Claire and Fleta Hoyt. Once in a while my sister used to stay with them overnight at their house in the South Side Brainerd neighborhood of Chicago, and just loved it. By the time I came along - many, many years later - my grandparents spent most of their time in California, and so I did not get to know them nearly as well. One of the photographs also features my father Nelson, who was born in 1909. If he were alive today, I would say to him "Wow! They had cameras back then?" I'm sure he wouldn't have taken that wrong. My grandparents, by the way, got married in the parlor of a house on Halloween and the wedding was constantly interrupted by trick or treaters. Let that be a warning to all you brides-to-be out there planning a Halloween wedding.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
I picked up a copy of a beautiful book called A Passion to Lead: Theodore Roosevelt in his Own Words the other day at the Bookstore where I work here in Denver. It looks very much like a leather-bound volume, has many wonderful photographs, and cost a mere $10 (even less after my employee discount). You can't find deals like that or even realize that they exist on Amazon, let me tell you. Plus, as an added bonus, the book has a number of photographs of one of my ancestors, General Joseph E. Wheeler. Wheeler (wearing a beard in the photographs above) was a Confederate Calvary General who fought Sherman during the Civil War. Later, he was a senator from Mississippi and fought under Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan Hill. Unfortunately, I don't know exactly what relation Wheeler was to us. My father was always bringing him up (Wheeler's nickname was Fightin' Joe), but the only person who would have known was my father's mother (my grandmother), Fleta Wheeler. Yes - Fleta!. My point - and I do have one - is that you should support your local bookstore. And also, why don't parents name their children Fleta anymore?
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Yes - this is a quotation from the classic novel Little Women. It is also the response I got from my sister Susan when I suggested a scaled back Christmas this year, due to our mutual, reduced financial circumstances. Personally, I was thinking of giving out various framed self-portraits of myself (as seen on this Blog) as gifts this year. Who wouldn't want such a lovely gift? Evidently my sister Susan and brother-in-law George, to name just two (seen in the photograph above, taken within the last 10 or 20 years or so). So much for that idea.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
I attended First Saturday at the Denver Art Museum (The DAM) last weekend and went up to the 7th floor to see Photography and Vision: The Influence of Joyce and Ted Strauss. This is a photography exhibit featuring photographs donated to the museum by Joyce and Ted Strauss. Many of these photographs are truly wonderful - others are just plain weird. One of my favorites is a self portrait by Chuck Close, in front of which I can be seen posing in the photograph above. Another favorite is Ronald Wohlauer's Man on Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis. It is just plain quirky and fun. Catch the exhibit at The DAM through January 25th. Be sure to mention my name to get a discount on your admission.
Monday, December 8, 2014
I went to the Denver Art Museum Saturday afternoon, not realizing that the Parade of Lights was taking place that evening. Traffic was a nightmare, but I was able to find a good parking spot, and decided after visiting the museum to stay and watch the parade. The parade went smoothly, for the most part, although there were several minor delays. First, some protesters ran into the street in an attempt to disrupt the event, but were quickly subdued and arrested. And why were protesters trying to disrupt the parade? Evidently it had something to do with the decision to not indict police officers in Missouri and New York. I'm not sure how the Parade of Lights is related to that, but I'm sure there must be some logical connection. The second delay was caused by the giant penguin (seen in the photograph above), who several times refused to duck down below various power lines along the route. The giant penguin, by the way, was neither charged nor arrested.
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Cheyanne, daughter of my friend Valarie and for the past two years a "teacher of teachers" with the Peace Corps in Mozambique, left Africa for home yesterday. After visiting Portugal and New York City, she will be heading back to Denver in time for the holidays. I strongly recommend to Valarie that Cheyanne be quarantined for 21 days, just to be on the safe side, in light of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Granted, it would be over the holidays, which might make for a less than jolly Christmas for Cheyanne (second from the right in the photo above), but on the other hand, think of all the reading she could catch up on. It is just a matter of looking at the glass as half full instead of half empty. Read all about Cheyanne's adventures in Mozambique at www.timeinmozambique.blogspot.com.
Saturday, December 6, 2014
And no - it is not "my" other bar. The place is actually called My Other Bar, and is located at the corner of 6th and Downing Streets here in Southeast Denver. I got together with a friend and former DU Bookstore colleague last night at that very pleasant establishment for food and beer. Since my former colleague, like many others I know, is in the Federal Witness Protection Program, I was not able to take his photograph. If it ever appeared, he would be hunted down like a dog. But no matter - the photograph above makes a very atmospheric replacement.
Friday, December 5, 2014
For a city that has been trying to shed it's "Cow Town" image for the past 40 years or so, Denver certainly celebrates and embraces The National Western Stock Show, held annually at the Denver Coliseum, near the old stockyards. The 16 day event begins in a mere 5 weeks, and I have to admit that it is kind of a fun thing to attend. It gives you a chance to experience a different world, made up of people from all over the Midwest and Great Plains, who still lead a rural lifestyle that I didn't think existed anymore. Plus, you get to take photographs of a variety of farm animals, such as the one in the "sheep-shot" above. These creatures actually seem to like being photographed, unlike many people I know (who I usually wind up photographing anyway). One word of advice, however. Every day of the event a rodeo is held. As Ed, my old boss at the University of Denver Bookstore, once said about rodeos, "once is interesting, twice is a mistake." And even once seems to last an eternity, not that I'm criticizing or anything.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
There is a very trendy restaurant a block or so from the bookstore where I work called Okinawa. I find that very ironic, since my father, Nelson Hoyt, was a dentist on Okinawa during World War II. Okinawa might be trendy now, but it sure wasn't when he was there. A typhoon came along and took every possession he owned. And no sooner did things get back to normal than another typhoon came along and took everything away again. Lately there has been a movement to raise money to send veterans from "The Greatest Generation" back to where they served during World War II. I am absolutely convinced that my father would not look very favorably on being sent back to that island. Just leave him alone and let him read his books would have been his attitude. And rightly so. My father, by the way, is in the second row on the far right in the black and white photograph above. The identity of the native Okinawan in the black and white photograph on the left will be a mystery forever. And the restaurant in the color photograph above, located at the corner of Colfax and York here in Denver, will take your reservation now.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
I finally decided to read The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, this week after seeing a feature about it on the WGN Chicago 9 o'clock news. It is about the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, and serial killer H.H. Holmes, who murdered scores of young women who came to Chicago to visit the fair. The 1893 World's Colombian Exposition took place on Chicago's South Side, in Jackson Park, along the shores of Lake Michigan. Holmes "torture palace" was at 63rd and Wallace Street, just a few blocks from St. Bernard's Hospital, where yours truly was born. The book is a fascinating look at the City of Chicago back in the 1890s, the movers and shakers who built the fair, and the charming and sinister Holmes. Holmes building still exists, by the way, and is now a U.S. Post Office. I don't know if the place is haunted or not, but my guess is that most of the screaming and suffering these days is from Postal Employees. As a former mail carrier, I can relate. Talk about torture.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
I went downtown this past Sunday afternoon to take some photographs of all the Christmas lights and decorations here in Denver. Armed with my tripod and camera, I started in the Grand Hall of Denver's newly remodeled Union Station. After snapping a few shots, I was told tripods are considered professional equipment and not allowed in the building. Next I went to the City and County Building (seen in the photograph above), but after about 10 minutes all the lights went out and never came back on. At least I didn't see any carolers being hosed down by the police and fire department. You look for positives where you can find them, after all.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You absolutely can go home again. You can go back and visit the actual physical place, like I did when I went back to the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Brainerd a few years ago (check out my book about that at http://www.blurb.com/b/1361398-the-journey-home-returning-to-chicago); you can go back home through photographs like the one above, and you can go back home through your dreams, which I seem to do virtually every night these days. No matter which way you do it, it is a way to go back home, and I for one am all the richer for it. Does that make me a sensitive New Age kind of guy or what?