Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sailor The Dog: Ex-Con

As I mentioned in yesterday's Blog, Sunday afternoon my friend Mark and I went to a barbecue at the house of one of my former DU Bookstore colleagues.  He and his wife have both a cat and a dog.  The dog was quite a handful when it was a puppy, and because of this they packed it off to a Colorado Women's Prison which has a program that allows inmates to train dogs for a very reasonable fee.  After he was released, Sailor was okay for a while, but reverted to his old ways and was sent back to prison.  I believe this is called the recidivism problem.  In any case, after doing another stretch in stir Sailor came out a reformed dog.  At first it was uncertain whether he could make it on the outside, but happily, he did.  Congratulations Sailor!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Going To A Barbecue With Mark

My friend Mark - who works at the University of Denver Library - and I went to the house of one of my former DU Bookstore colleagues last night and had a great time drinking beer, eating hamburgers, and catching up with what each of us has been up to lately.  The three of us also discussed politics and the world situation, but could not come up with any solutions.  Surprise!  We probably just needed to drink more beer in order to come up with something workable.  In any case, the photograph above shows Mark showing us some of his cricket  moves.  Mark tried to explain the game to us, but it seems pretty complicated.  He told us that games can last up to 7 hours at a stretch.  I imagine that is because the game is so complicated it takes that long to figure out the rules and declare a winner.  No wonder the British Empire fell into decline.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Bookstore Cat

My office-mate Peter has been complaining about his allergies lately, and wanted to know if I had brought a cat - which he is allergic to - into the office.   No, strangely enough, I had not, but a few days later I caught sight of a cat - or a very large furry rat - darting quickly under some book carts in the stockroom.  Aha! After making discreet inquiries, I learned that the cat actually belongs to the owner of the bicycle shop next door, and the cat has found a passageway between that store and the bookstore's stockroom.  The stockroom people are very mellow, and actually like having the cat around.  Of course, if the cat can get through, various other types of creatures that aren't as cuddly can get through, too, but nobody seems worried about that but me.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Living The Dream

If you dream a lot about floods, that is.  My apartment flooded for the 5th time in approximately 5 years the other night, once again from a leak in a pipe behind the kitchen wall.  Since my bedroom is right next to the kitchen, all the water goes right in there.  I spent the night and the next morning mopping up water, in a vain attempt to keep the carpet dry until the plumbers arrived.  This routine is becoming as regular as the Nile overflowing its banks each spring.  A sure sign from nature that it is time to start planting.  And in Colorado, you know what kind of apartment based crop that means.

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Rare Walk Downtown

I used to walk from work each evening to Denver's Union Station and take the light rail train home.  Now, however, since I often have to go immediately from my Bookstore job to my part-time job in the University of Denver neighborhood, I usually wind up driving to work.  Yesterday was an exception, however, since I had to leave my car at the dealership to fix the "pinstripes," which came off my new Hyundai after I washed it for the first time ("What?  You washed your car?  Never do that again!").  In any case, it was a very pleasant walk indeed, letting me mix with the beautiful people, the homeless, the kids, and the crazies.  Of course, that's just my opinion of them.  I'm sure they all had their own opinion of me.  After all, I used to be known as "Crazy Old Man Hoyt" when I worked at the DU Bookstore.  Although it was the DU Bookstore that made me that way.  I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Visiting With TuTu On A Saturday Night

Last Saturday night I featured a photograph of my brother-in-law George sitting in his favorite easy chair with his and my sister Susan's dog Blackberry, and so in the spirit of fairness, today I am featuring a photograph of their other dog, Tutu.  Do not be fooled - this dog looks big in the photograph, but is only the size of a medium rat.  He also spends the dinner hour barking beside the table, demanding table scraps.   He cannot climb stairs, and therefore also barks when he wants to get to the next level of the townhouse, which can be conservatively estimated at about every five minutes.  In other words, he runs the place.  Go figure.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Nostalgic Photograph of Susan

As I mentioned on this Blog a few days ago, the last time I tried to take a photograph of my sister Susan, she chased me out of her kitchen with a knife.  Which I assume meant she didn't feel like being photographed at that particular moment.  Therefore I am featuring a photograph of her taken a few years back at a restaurant called the Pirates Loft, in Port Salerno, Florida, when cutlery was not an issue.  In the above photograph, she is posing with the pelicans, which would hang out around the docks waiting for the charter boats to come back and provide them with fish remains to eat.  As I recall, Susan often referred to the pelicans as penguins, which confused me a bit at the time.  We are, after all, originally from Chicago, where, as you might or might not know, neither pelicans or penguins are plentiful.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hanging Out With Stuart At Old Chicago

I had dinner (and beers) with my friend Stuart at the Old Chicago restaurant on Colorado Boulevard here in Denver last night.  This particular Old Chicago is located in the building which once housed a restaurant and bar called Fenway Park.  As I recall, Stuart and I were there on it's opening night.  What a surprise, right? In any case, the place soon folded - I suspect because there were too few Red Sox fans in the area.  It reopened a few years later as Old Chicago, drawing the many millions of ex-Chicagoans now living here in the Denver metropolitan area.  No doubt all of them Cub fans, too.  As we used to say back in Chicago, life is hard being a Southsider in a world of Northsiders.  Just let me tell you about that...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Another Sure Sign Of Spring

The accordion player is back!   Every summer on Friday and Saturday evenings he is sitting in front of the bookstore where I work, playing his accordion for tips - definitely a sign that spring is here and summer is on the way.  I decided to take a photograph of him from the top of the parking garage, looking down, both for artistic reasons, and also - not unimportantly - because  I had no money on me and he would have expected a tip if I took a face front snapshot.  In any case, this perspective gives us a view of his basket, where we see he is indeed earning some bucks with this gig, and even has a CD available for sale.  Perhaps it is time for me to take accordion lessons so I can have another income source during my golden years.  I would only have to walk out the door from my bookstore job and chase the other guy away.  Food for thought, as they say.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Saturday Night In Fort Collins

I had dinner up in Fort Collins last night with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George.  It was the second weekend in a row I've had dinner with them - this time rib eye steaks cooked on the grill to perfection.  Last weekend, as readers will recall, my sister chased me out of the kitchen with a knife after I took her photograph, and so this weekend, just to play it safe - in case she just wasn't kidding around - I stuck to photographing my brother-in-law and their two dogs.  It is really a shame, but as women get older, many - if not most of them - are reluctant to be photographed.  And if you do, they may not come after you with a knife, but you can see in their eyes that they'd really like to.  The downside of being a photographer, I guess.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Pinstripe Madness...

No.  I am not referring to the enthusiasm of New York Yankee fans.  I am referring instead to the pinstripes on my new car, which came off the first time I washed it.  Call me old fashioned, but I feel that these pinstripes should have lasted a little bit longer.  Even the ones on American cars last through at least the fourth washing.  On the bright side, the pinstripe repair guy  is working every day these days (and I can just imagine why), and so my pinstripes will be replaced this coming Wednesday.  And then all will once again be right with the world.  Or least the world of pinstripes.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The First Day Of Spring!

Today is the first day of spring.  At last!  However, I have decided to post the above photograph as a reminder that March and April are Denver's snowiest months.  Although the weather over the next few days is predicted to be fairly nice, snow is in the forecast for next week  These days I just hate the snow and cold, although probably not as much as the poor guy in the photo, holding up a sign and looking for spare change from motorists.  I pass him almost every day standing out there on my way home from work each evening. Now that is a hard life.  I don't know about other places, but here in Denver there seems to be a homeless person holding up a sign on every street corner these days.  A sad reality that one hopes can be rectified, considering that the United States is the wealthiest country in the world. We still are, aren't we?  Aren't we?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Obligatory Fort Collins Pet Photo

I took the above photograph of my brother-in-law George holding one of his and my sister Susan's two dogs when I was up in Fort Collins Sunday evening.  As I have said before, their two dogs - Tutu (in the photograph above) and Blackberry - are like their children, and the household revolves around them.  Which just reinforces my opinion that people are crazy when it comes to their pets.  It reminds me of the character in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, who left all his money to his dog, with the stipulation that his butler take him out for a good walk every day.  Long after the dog was gone, however, the butler continued to walk a pretend dog every day in order to still collect the money.  A valuable lesson there:  if you intend to leave all your money to your pets, make sure you have a lawyer go over the language of the will thoroughly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

I had to do some shopping at the Park Meadows Mall, and since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to stop in at the Lansdowne Pub in Highlands Ranch, where I sometimes dropped by after my shift as a mailman - whenever I finished before midnight, that is, which as I recall was rare.  It was St. Patrick's Day and the place was hopping.  There were green derbies, green berets, green beer, green faces, the whole nine yards.  However, since it brought back haunting memories of my service in the post office, I soon left.  Some things are just too painful.,

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

As I have mentioned several times on this Blog, when St. Patrick's Day rolls around I think of my Uncle Jack (my mother's brother) and my Aunt Helen, who were very proud to be Irish and just loved St. Patrick's Day.  I was going to feature two photographs of them today, but realized that I featured those photographs last year.  Instead, I am using a photograph that I took at a barbecue at Uncle Jack and Aunt Helen's house in Evergreen Park, Illinois many years ago.  From left to right are my Grandmother, Louise Spillard, my mother Mary, my father Nelson, Uncle Jack, and my Uncle Bill, my mother's other brother.  And why did Uncle Jack barbecue in the garage and set out his lawn furniture on the driveway?  I'm afraid we'll never know, but everybody always had a good time, and that is what counts.  After dinner, by the way, we all gathered around Uncle Jack's color television (a novelty at the time) and watched Walt Disney's Wide World of Color.  Is that program still on, by the way?  I'll have to check.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Excitement In Fort Collins

I drove up to Fort Collins yesterday evening to have dinner with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George. It was an excellent meal and we had a great visit, although my sister did take exception to me taking candid "action" photographs as they prepared the meal, and chased me out of the kitchen with a knife.  Just another day in the life of a photographer.  And I am sure she was just kidding.  Who doesn't like their photograph  taken?

Sunday, March 15, 2015


I am in the middle of reading Stephen King's new book Revival.  I was on the Denver Public Library's waiting list for 3 months in order to get a copy.  As of today it is due back at the library and can't be renewed, and so I am going to have to pick up the pace to get the final 130 pages read without incurring too much of a fine.  I always have thought of Stephen King as a horror writer, but I am three quarters of the way through the book, and so far nothing horror related has taken place.  The book relates the story of a minister who lost his wife and young child in a horrible accident, left the ministry, and started experimenting with electricity and using it to heal people.  The healing is actually just an excuse to experiment on people.  The narrator of the story was a small boy in the town where the minister preached, and is concerned about some of people who were cured of their afflictions, but with horrible aftereffects.  This narrator doesn't yet know what the minister's ultimate goal is, although given the title of the book, I have a pretty good idea, and intend to find out for sure, despite the possibility of having to pay library fines of up to $2.00.  In other words, money is no object.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Gentrification Continues On America's Longest, Wicked Street

Colfax Avenue here in Denver continues it's steady climb to respectability.  Just recently the Lost Highway Brewing Company opened  up on the street, just across from Denver's Immaculate Conception Catholic Cathedral.  Colfax might still be America's longest street, but is no longer as wicked as it's promoters want people to believe.  The only gangs wandering it's sidewalks these days are Yuppie and Millennium types, going from bar to bar or brewpub to brewpub in search of fun.  What would Jack Kerouac think about this if he were alive today?  Not much, I suspect, but I still think he would be willing to have a beer or two anyway, just to mull it over.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sunset At The House Of Refuge

Since I featured a photograph of my father Nelson yesterday, I figured I should probably feature a photograph of my mother Mary today.  The photograph on the left was taken at the House of Refuge in Stuart, Florida one August day a number of years ago.  It is one of my favorite photographs of my mother, taken at sunset after dinner at the Prawnbroker Restaurant in nearby Sewell's Point.  As I have mentioned before, this peaceful and wonderful spot on the ocean had been "discovered" by wedding photographers, who were all over the place when I visited there last November.  Or perhaps they have always used that spot as a backdrop, but simply avoided the heat and humidity of August.  Still another good reason to visit in the off season.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today would have been my father Nelson Hoyt's 106th birthday if he were alive today.  He and my mother retired to Stuart, Florida in 1976, and both of them loved it there.  My father loved golf, and was able to play almost every day, which helped make up for doing a job he hated for most of his life.  Whenever my sister and I would visit our parents down in Stuart, my father would get up early every morning and make breakfast for everyone, which was a very nice thing indeed. However, I recall that when my parents drove to Chicago for Christmas each year, my sister was such a neat freak that she made Dad fry the bacon out in the unheated utility room of her house each morning, which didn't seem fair.  He didn't seem to mind, though, and if he were around today, I am sure my sister would let him fry bacon wherever he wanted.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bill Veeck - A Real Life Hero

Now that spring training has begun in earnest, it is time to celebrate and recognize Bill Veeck as not only a great contributor to the sport of baseball, but as a great human being as well.  Veeck was the owner of the minor league Milwaukee Brewers, the major league Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns, and Chicago White Sox.  He was a man of the people, mixed with the fans in the cheap seats, and always kept his name in the phone book, so that if anyone wanted to talk with him, they could. He was also the originator of some of the greatest promotions in baseball, including putting a midget, Eddie Gaedell, up to bat during a St. Louis Browns doubleheader.  It was Bill Veeck, by the way, who brought spring training to Arizona.  He signed the first black baseball player in the American League, Larry Doby, to a contract in 1947, but found out that the hotels in Florida would not allow Doby to stay with the rest of the team.  Outraged, Veeck got a few other teams to join him and they moved their training camps to Arizona.  Thanks for everything, Bill!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Where Are The Masterpieces?

Wandering the Denver Art Museum (The DAM) Sunday afternoon and looking at the various interesting - and often very weird - art pieces in the contemporary art galleries, I had to wonder what ever happened to the $100 million in impressionist paintings donated to the museum by by Frederick C. Hamilton, the retired CEO of the museum.  After loaning these priceless paintings to the museum for the Passport To Paris exhibit, Hamilton agreed to donate them to the museum permanently.  However, they have never gone back on display, even after several years.  Personally, I think they are probably all hanging in the employee lounge, allowing the DAM employees to gaze at them as they munch their lunch.  Is that fair or what?  I say put them on display now, or else give them back to Hamilton so he can put them back up on the walls of his humble Denver bungalow.  Fair is fair, after all.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sunday Afternoon At The DAM

I spent a few hours at the Denver Art Museum yesterday afternoon, and although I must say it made for a very pleasant day, it made me realize that the museum has a lot of very strange art on display.  Just one example is Mark Wallinger's Angel, a short video featuring the artist as "Blind Faith," walking in place in front of two escalators at the London Underground's Angel Station and reciting the first 5 verses of the Gospel of St. John over and over again - backwards.  I know the theme is spirituality and the work is filled with symbolism, but after finding out that Wallinger lives in London, I suspect that in reality London's notorious weather simply made him go crazy.  And understandably so.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

My Grandmother, Louise Spillard

The photograph on the left is of my maternal Grandmother, Louise Spillard, taken around the turn of the 20th century. My mother Mary and her mother were very close, and Grandmother spent a lot of time with us when I was growing up in the Brainerd neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.  She loved to shop, and I remember driving with my mother and her to the Evergreen Park Shopping Center almost every weekend to check out the sales. Grandmother had two sisters she was also very close to and therefore we had a large extended family during my formative years, which sadly is no longer the case. These days people tend to be much more mobile, and we are all the poorer for it.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Springing Ahead

Tonight we move the clocks forward an hour and start Daylight Savings Time, a sure sign of both spring and the summer to come.  Soon the swimming pool at my condo building will be open and University of Denver students will once again be diving into it from the balconies, being carted off to the emergency room afterwards.  Here in Colorado there are two rival bills in the legislature, one to institute year round Daylight Savings Time and the other to institute Year Round Standard Time.  Both bills claim the switching to the rival time system will kill you in the end.  I am sure they are both right.  In any case, most of the world switches to Daylight Savings Time each year.  Back when I had money and was sightseeing on the island of Santorini in Greece, I remember waiting for over an hour at my hotel to be driven to the ferry to Athens.  When the driver finally got there, he told me that we had switched back to Standard Time the previous evening.  I was really surprised at the time that the rest of the world also did this, and also pretty bitter about losing an entire hour of sightseeing.  Like I said, I have never denied being a cheapskate.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Heartbreak Of Purchasing Colorado License Plates

The temporary tags on my new, luxury Hyundai Accent expired this week, and so I had to grit my teeth and drive to the local Denver Motor Vehicles Office to get permanent license plates.  Unlike in Chicago, where everybody just pays their $15 (or whatever) and puts a sticker on their window, here in Denver they charge by the age and value of the car.  Let me tell you, it was a tremendous shock to the system (and pocketbook) when I bought a new car here back in 1986.  As I recall, I think I had to be institutionalized for a brief period. Not only that, but DMV hides their Five Points office from all but local insiders.  Even though I've been there before, I still had to drive in circles for half an hour to find the place.  The streets go at all different angles in that part of North Denver, and they don't even have signs on the building letting you know it is the Motor Vehicles Department. Although when I finally got there, the parking lot was filled and the lines very long.  What's the deal with that?  Could it just be me?  Nah...

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Getting All Our Ducks (And Geese) In A Row

Evidently both ducks and geese are causing a world of problems in Denver's Washington Park and surrounding neighborhoods these days.  These areas have been taken over by the troublesome birds, and those are not golden eggs they are laying.  The city has come up with the idea of chasing them around the frozen ponds with a motorized dog, but the neighbors don't think too much of the idea, especially since it is not working.  Perhaps if we caught them all and exported them as a food source.  Don't the English still like a nice plump goose for the holidays?  And you can't go wrong with a nice cooked duck. Plus, with an alternate revenue source, we could get rid of Denver's nasty red light cameras.  Another win-win situation!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Spring Training Games Begin Today!

Yes, it's true.  Baseball spring training games start today in Florida and Arizona - a sure sign of spring, despite the snow up north.  In honor of this wonderful time, I am featuring a photograph of the late Harry Caray, leading the crowd in the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" from the broadcast booth of old Comiskey Park back in 1980.  Most Cub Fans seem to forget that Harry Cary was the long time announcer for the Chicago White Sox (not to mention the St. Louis Cardinals) before becoming the voice of the Chicago Cubs.  Harry did not just spring up full grown from the outfield of Wrigley Field, although a number of Wrigley Field Bleacher Bums swear that they witnessed this event.  Let's Play Two!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Peter Battles The Elements

My office-mate Peter lives on the West Side of Denver, and commutes by bus to the Bookstore where we work on East Colfax Avenue.  Peter does not like winter anyway, but this winter has been especially hard on him, what with record snow and bitter cold during the month of February, as well as having to deal with all the crazies on the Colfax bus.  However, I think you have the wrong attitude about all this, Peter.  I say you should enjoy and embrace the cold and snow, as well as the crazies on the Colfax bus (but not literally, of course).

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Record February

Although it is nothing compared with Boston or even Chicago, Denver had a record amount of snowfall in February.  We never had a major, shut down the city kind of storm here, but it seemed to snow every single day, and stayed pretty damned cold, too.  And considering that March is Denver's snowiest month, things aren't expected to get better anytime soon.  Another 2 to 4 inches is predicted again for tonight.  Oh Joy! Where is global warming when you really need it?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Nostalgia And Baseball!

Since my recent Blog Posts have been about nostalgia and baseball, today I have decided to combine the two and feature a photograph of my mother in front of Coors Field before we went in to see the Colorado Rockies play ball in July of 2007.  It was the annual fireworks game, a very popular event in Denver. My mother was living with me here in Denver at the time, and was not really a big baseball, or for that matter, a big fireworks fan, but she was indeed a good sport.  And so I say let the spring training games begin