Sunday, April 30, 2017
Denver was hit by a spring snowstorm Friday night that continued all day Saturday. I took the above photo after coming out of the library Saturday, looking toward the Bonnie Brae Ice Cream Shop, which was not doing a very brisk business. The media outlets played it up big, of course, and the local grocery store where I work part-time was one again busy all day Friday with people preparing for the deluge. The last time they predicted snow, I didn't see a single flake (the south and west metro areas supposedly received a lot), and so I was surprised to see about 4 or 5 inches of snow to dust off my car Saturday morning. Still, it was a spring storm, and while snow accumulated on the grassy areas, it melted as soon as it hit the pavement, leaving the roads clear. Which is why I always wonder why people act like they will be holed up in their houses until summer, and buy accordingly. Must be all those Californians who have never seen a snowflake before.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
I had intended to take a self-portrait of myself in the office at my part-time job at a local Denver grocery store, where I fill online shopping orders and deliver them to the customers out in the parking lot. However, just a few days ago I, along with the rest of the staff, was given a form to sign forbidding us from taking photographs of the store or any of the people there. Therefore, I decided to crop the photograph to the point where no one would suspect where it was taken. As for my part-time job, I had an exciting adventure last week. I had loaded up a customer's car, and as I was heading back to the store, I noticed shopping carts in the parking spaces where our customers pick up their orders. I left the pick list pallet, loaded with the empty totes, by the store and went back for the shopping carts. As I was putting them away, the pallet with the totes started to roll into the parking lot, gaining speed very quickly. I chased after it and got hold of it just as it crashed into a cement post and sent the totes flying. I don't know if I hit the post or the totes hit me, but my shoulder still hurts from that little incident. Fortunately, no customers were hurt or any cars damaged. I mentioned this episode to my friend Stuart and my co-workers at my regular job at a local Denver bookstore, and they all thought it was pretty funny. They only wished there was a U-Tube video they could watch of the incident. So much for sympathy. But I learned a valuable lesson - always set the brake. You see - old dogs can learn new tricks.
Friday, April 28, 2017
A number of years ago, when the The Bridges of Madison County (both the book and the film starring Robert Redford) came out, someone jokingly suggested I put together a collection of photographs called The Bridges of Commerce City, a gritty industrial suburb just north of Denver. I never did, but probably should have, and was reminded of this when I ran across the above photo while looking for some zoo photographs. This is in fact a photograph of the bridges of Lower Downtown Denver, which I have to guess would beat out the bridges of Commerce City hands down. A brand new photo project? Perhaps when I have the time - possibly as soon as 2019.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
I had burgers and beers with my friend Stuart (seen in the photograph above) at the Old Chicago Restaurant on South Colorado Boulevard here in Denver yesterday evening. As luck would have it, the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs were both on the television screens there. The Rockies have the best record in the major leagues right now, and people are already beginning to talk playoffs. Stuart and I both agreed that since the baseball season was barely three weeks old, that might very well be a bit of a stretch. As if to validate our point, the Rockies were losing 5 to nothing to the Washington Nationals when we left. As for the Cubs, they were losing 6 to 5 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the bottom of the 8th inning, with at least a fighting chance to win. As for my team, the South Side Chicago White Sox, they had already won a tremendous victory over the always tough Kansas City Royals. Now THAT is the team to watch, in my humble opinion.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Noah, my friend and former University of Denver Bookstore colleague, stopped by the bookstore where I work as the bookkeeper yesterday afternoon. It has been a while since I last saw him, and he tells me he is at long last going to receive his bachelor's degree this summer. This semester he is taking three classes, in addition to working full time as the DU Bookstore's stockroom supervisor and together with his wife raising two young daughters. And I complain about being too busy. Congratulations Noah! Good luck to you.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
I went to the Denver Zoo Sunday afternoon and was happy to find that many of the animals were very amenable to posing for portraits, even the elusive mandrill in the photograph above. Most of the time, this mandrill hides in its cage or behind the trees in its yard. I was therefore shocked when it walked right up to the front of the compound and looked me straight in the eye, posing for the above photo. It must have been the nice weather which put him in a good mood. Either that or they are starting to give the animals a bit of (in Colorado, anyway) legal marijuana to cheer them up a bit. A good idea, considering how depressed most of these zoo animals look most of the time.
Monday, April 24, 2017
I had to start work at my part-time job at a local Denver grocery store at 5 A.M. yesterday morning. While it is true that I was almost catatonic for the first 3 hours, on the bright side I got off work at 1:30 and was able to spend the afternoon at the Denver Zoo. And was therefore able to photograph the zoo's baby giraffe while it was still outside, and show just how tiny it is compared with the adult giraffes. I can't help but notice that this baby giraffe's main interest in life seems to be eating. Not a surprise. And no - this is not the baby giraffe that was seen born on the internet. The Denver Zoo did not even realize it was coming until the last minute. It was even too late to order the cameras. Dam.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
The bookstore where I work is located in Denver's Congress Park neighborhood, which is filled with old, beautiful Victorian homes. I especially like the house in the photograph above, which I often pass when I take a walk through the neighborhood during my lunch break. Not only is it a large beautiful Victorian, but it also has a coach house and a nice large yard. I would frankly be happy with just the coach house alone. It would be easy to heat, it shares a large backyard with the main house, and most importantly, no HOA fees.What more could you possibly want?
Saturday, April 22, 2017
I brought a Blackjack pizza over to my friend Mark's place last night to watch a prerecorded soccer match between Huddersfield and Newcastle. Mark is quite the Newcastle fan, and they won a big victory over their opponent by a 3 to 1 margin. Newcastle has only 3 games left before the playoffs, by the way, which kind of surprised me, since that means the season will end in May. Mark tells me it is because they do not want to interfere with cricket season. God forbid. Let's face it - the British are weird.
Friday, April 21, 2017
Thursday, April 20, 2017
It is almost May - if you haven't downloaded the Chicago Transit Authority Historical Calendar, why the hell not? It is free, and you can keep it on you computer or print it out to put on your wall. It has great photos that feature scenes from Chicago's past, such as the photo above, which shows a small business district just off Longwood Drive, in the South Side Beverly neighborhood, a few miles from where I grew up. Go immediately to http://www.transitchicago.com/historicalcalendar/ and get it now. You still have 8 months of historic Chicago photographs left!
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
My friends Valarie and Jake visited Stuart, Florida a few weeks ago, and really enjoyed their stay there. They were originally going to stay at my sister Susan and my condo, but since I was able to rent it for the year starting March 1st, they had to stay at a bed and breakfast near downtown Stuart instead, which they thoroughly enjoyed. I recommended that they visit the Jolly Sailor Pub, which is an outdoor bar overlooking the Sunset Bay Marina so they could enjoy the view at sunset, but to avoid Sailor's Return, a very pricey restaurant right next door (seen in the photograph to the left).
Of course, they did just the opposite, but enjoyed dining while looking at the sun setting over the St. Lucie River, along which my condo is also located. And the view from the pier near my condo is entirely free, if you don't count the rather high monthly maintenance fees. I try very hard not to. In any case, I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to the Treasure Coast, Jake and Valarie. I strongly recommend that you buy an ocean-side condo along Stuart Beach and let me borrow it once in a while for free. I'll even clean it for you - a quick cleaning, but a cleaning nonetheless. The operative word here is free.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Today is "Tax Day," the deadline for filing 2016 income taxes. This is not my favorite time of year. I hate doing taxes, and always have to pay, and so put off doing them for as long as I can. The only time I had to get them done this year was this past Friday and Saturday nights. Talk about being crabby - I am glad nobody was here to see it. I took the above self-portrait after I was finished, when I was feeling a bit happier about the whole thing. And so if you haven't done your taxes yet, you have just a few hours left. In other words, time to start cranking those numbers. Good luck.
Monday, April 17, 2017
This past weekend marked the 105th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, which claimed 1,500 lives after it struck an iceberg back in 1912. On the 100th anniversary of the disaster, I bought the book seen on the left, which is filled with photographs of the ship and life on board. Many of these photographs were taken by an Irishman named Frank Browne, a theology student from Dublin. His uncle had given him a special gift - passage on the Titanic from Southampton to Cherbourg to Queenstown in Ireland. He met a millionaire on board who offered to pay his way to New York, but his Jesuit superior would not allow him to go, and he had to disembark at Queenstown. Talk about a lucky break, although I bet he was pretty damn unhappy about missing the voyage at the time. He is now remembered for his photographic chronicle of the Titanic, as opposed to being just another statistic. An amazing story.
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Yes - I'm using the same photograph to mark Easter Sunday that I use every year. It is the only photograph I have that I am 100% sure was taken on Easter, and it also shows me at my charming best, sitting in my chair with my Easter basket on the back porch of our house in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Brainerd. No Easter baskets this year - I will have to work at my part-time job at a local Denver grocery store until 8:00 P.M. And I will have an Easter dinner made by the Banquet Frozen Foods people. Let the feast begin!
Saturday, April 15, 2017
I just finished reading James Rollins book Amazonia, which I picked up at the Beautiful Junk Sale, which is sponsored by The Action Center, the non-profit organization my friend Valarie works for. During the last hour of the sale, you can buy a grocery bag full of books for $10, and I go around and throw anything even remotely interesting in the bag. Amazonia was one of those books, and I figured what the heck, read it and get your ten dollars worth. The last book I read by Rollins was The Seventh Plague, which revolved around a world threatening plague that begins in Africa. Amazonia, written about 15 years ago, revolves around a plague that begins in South America. Am I noticing a trend here? In any case, it was a good read and definitely kept me entertained. Check it out at your local bookstore.
Friday, April 14, 2017
Finally, at the age of 64, I have become a member of a union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). The part-time job I have at a local grocery store requires union membership, and the membership dues are automatically subtracted from your paycheck. Now, as far as I know, I can file a grievance against my employer at will, and even call for a wildcat strike. Wow! And by the way - please not that I took the above photograph from my balcony over the condo's pool, and it is filled with water! For the first time in 3 years! Union membership and a swimming pool. Is life good or what?
Thursday, April 13, 2017
My friend Stuart (seen in the photograph above) and I had burgers and beers on the rooftop of the Old Chicago Restaurant and Bar in beautiful, exotic Lakewood, Colorado last night, and celebrated the University of Denver Pioneers tremendous hockey victory. They beat Minnesota Duluth last Saturday night for the national collegiate championship. Both Stuart and I are DU alumni and felt a celebration was in order. Of course, the DU student body celebrated by setting fires in the streets and rioting, but let's face it - we are both too old to riot. Burgers and beers seemed more appropriate.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
A few weeks ago I blogged about the Westernaires Equestrian Center, which is located right next to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, in beautiful, exotic Lakewood, Colorado. You can bring your own horse and ride up into the foothills, or else rent a horse at the center and ride on your own or with a group. It reminded me that my mother Mary, father Nelson, my mother's parents Louise and Bill, and my mother's good friend Peggy all drove together to Colorado from Chicago back in the late 1930s. They visited the Garden of the Gods, Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, and also went horseback riding while they were here. I found the photograph above in one of my photo albums, along with quite a few others. My mother is on the left, my father on the right, and my mother's friend Peggy is in the center. My mother often spoke to me about this trip. My Grandfather Spillard did the driving. There were no interstate highways back then, and it took forever. My grandfather would start thinking about something, and would begin driving very slow, then speed up, and then slow down once again, all this during a hot summer in the Midwest. Also, the horse my mother was riding did not like the way she was riding it, and kept giving her dirty looks. She never rode a horse again, although there was not much horse riding opportunities back on the South Side of Chicago. Probably a good thing.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Sunday afternoon I went to the Denver Zoo after I got off work at my part-time job, and in addition to visiting the new zoo babies, I stopped by "The Edge," the new home for the zoo's tigers. Zoo officials say that the new tiger compound allows visitors to get much closer to the animals, but to me it still looks like a big cage - two big cages, as a matter of fact. The tiger in one cage was snoozing, and the other was pacing along the perimeter of his or her new home. I took the photo on the left during a brief period when she or he sat down near the exhibit's window.
I took the photograph of the spider monkey in the photograph on the right while he was sitting in his cage in the Monkey House, built in 1908. The cages are pretty small, and you have to feel sorry for the animals confined there, destined to live out their lives in such a small space. I'm not sure why these particular monkeys are confined to these cages, while others are allowed to roam in much larger areas. Did they do something bad? Are these monkeys in solitary confinement for a reason? I say some non-profit organization should appeal to the governor for a pardon. Let them roam the grounds freely, like those peacocks that seem to be all over the place. They won't run away. They must know a good thing when they see it, right?
Monday, April 10, 2017
I visited the Denver Zoo yesterday to check out the new babies that have been born there recently. It has been a while since I have been to the zoo, mainly because I dropped my single lens reflex digital camera and it took several months to get it repaired. I took the photograph on the left of the baby giraffe in the Giraffe House. I was hoping to take an outdoor photograph showing the contrast in size between it and it's mother, but the giraffes evidently came inside early. It was an extremely windy day, and perhaps they need to bring them in because they are so tall, kind of like taking semi-trailer trucks on the way to Wyoming off Interstate 25 during high wind periods. And no, I have never taken a zoology class, thank you for asking.
I also took a photograph of the baby gorilla, too. Every other time I have seen it, it was being carried around by it's mother, but now it is finally walking on it's own. A good thing, too, since pretty soon it will be an awfully damn heavy thing to carry. I must say, it is pretty damn cute, and follows it's mother around everywhere. And it is still a hit with zoo visitors. I had a hard time getting a clear photograph, what with all the other people trying to get a look and take photographs of it. Unfortunately, pushing my way to the front might be acceptable behavior in some parts of New York and New Jersey, but not here. Oh well, all it took was a little patience and I took the photogrpah on the right. The conclusion to a successful zoo day.
Sunday, April 9, 2017
I had dinner with some of the old DU Bookstore gang last night at Shells and Sauce, a little "trattoria" on 12th Street here in Denver. It is located in a little business district in a really nice looking neighborhood, just a short distance from the Denver Botanical Gardens. Not only was the food really good, but it was happy hour, and not only were the drinks cheap, but the entrees were half price. What a deal! Everybody had a good time catching up on what we all have been doing since our last get-together, and gracefully allowed me to take a Blog photograph. After I took a couple of photos, a woman parked right next to us and my friend Valarie asked her if she would take a photograph of all of us, which she did. In the above photograph, from left to right in the back row, are Chris, the former Accounts Payable Assistant at the University of Denver Bookstore, her husband Jim, Darrel, the former Accounts Payable Supervisor at the DU Bookstore, Valarie's husband Jake, and Valarie, the former Operations Manager at the store. In the front row are Linda, who is Darrel's wife, and myself, the former Finance Manager of the DU Bookstore. Thanks for taking the photograph, mysterious stranger. And great to see you all again, guys!
Saturday, April 8, 2017
I truly did not believe I would be going to Opening Day at Coors Field here in Denver this year. It would have been the first time I missed it since the team started playing baseball. Yesterday morning a ticket for a Rockpile seat (the worst in the house) cost $120 on Stubhub, and the Colorado Rockies website tickets started at $100. I decided to take the train down to the stadium and just hang out, enjoying the party atmosphere. I went to the ticket window when I got to the park and found that the Rockies had released the tickets they were holding as part of season ticket packages, and were selling at $75. I said what the hell, and got in line. It was the slowest line at the stadium, and by the time I got to the window the $75 tickets were sold out. I threw up my hands and walked away.
Freeland pitched 6 innings and gave up one run and 4 hits, leaving with the Rockies ahead 2 to 1, a remarkable debut. It got pretty exciting, because now the Colorado Rockies bullpen would have to hold the Los Angeles Dodgers to that one run to give Freeland his first major league victory, God help him. Surprisingly, they did just that and the Rockies won the game by that very score, and are seen celebrating in the photograph on the right. The Freeland family were all cheering and hugging each other and otherwise carrying on, and happy as can be. The only downside is that they never did invite me to the post-game celebration. Bummer.
Friday, April 7, 2017
The Colorado Rockies have their home opener today at Coors Field in lower downtown Denver. It is a really big deal around here, and the streets around the ballpark are crowded with fans. It is so popular, the Rockies organization holds a lottery to choose who has first pick on tickets. I did not get selected, and so if I want to go to the game, it will cost well over $100 for a mediocre (at best) seat. That is just outrageous. I'm thinking of skipping the game this year, the first Opening Day I will have missed since the Rockies started playing. The organization has become very greedy in recent years, raising ticket prices up the wazoo for the most popular games, and refusing to increase payroll to put together a decent team. I think the organization feels that if the team can draw 3 million fans each year with a team that stinks, why spend any money on making the team better. Each year owner Charlie Monfort predicts the team will make the playoffs, and each year they finish in last or next to last place. Hey Charlie, sounds to me like you are a good candidate for Congress.
Thursday, April 6, 2017
After finishing Daniel Silva's novel The Kill Artist, I have now read all of the books in the Gabriel Allon series, and I must say I have enjoyed them all. The Kill Artist is the first book in this series about an Israeli Mossad agent, and I thought it would start when his young son is killed and wife seriously injured and psychologically damaged from a terrorist bombing of their car. However, it actually begins years later, when Allon is living in Cornwall and is persuaded by his old boss to help him find a notorious terrorist. It is an exciting story, and if you haven't read any books in the series, I recommend you start with this one and read them in the order they were written. Now I have to just wait for the next one to come out. So hurry up and write it, Silva.
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Whenever there is a chance of snow these days, all the local newscasts make it sound like Armageddon is near. However, the past two snowstorms the weather forecasters have predicted never materialized, at least in Denver. Supposedly all the snow went to the south and west, but I suspect they might be saying that just to save face. In any case, they predicted another storm for yesterday, and the local grocery store where I work part-time in the evenings and on weekends was jammed with people preparing for a blizzard of massive proportions, which not even the weather people were predicting. In any case, I was surprised when I woke up yesterday morning to actually see it was indeed snowing.
Of course, since it was a spring storm, the snow immediately melted when it hit the pavement, and there was only an inch or so to remove from my car. And as the bookstore where I work as the bookkeeper is only a few miles away via city streets, driving there was not much of a challenge. It started snowing again as I was leaving work, coming down a bit harder this time, but still nothing to worry about. And so, all in all it was a win-win situation. The city got some badly needed moisture, the local newscasters boosted their ratings by scaring the hell out of everyone, and the grocery stores made a pile of money. But what I want to know is what everyone is going to do with all that extra food they bought. Will it be party time here in Denver? Will I be invited? I didn't think so.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
The Joan and Charlie Show is always funny, and I try to catch it each time I attend Final Fridays. The skit is put on by the Buntport Theater group, and is based on a painting by the same name that the museum owns. You can see a replica of the painting in the photograph on the right, not to mention the two actors who portray Joan and Charlie. The show takes place on the third floor of the Hamilton Building in a freight elevator - don't ask me why. In any case - curiously - the painting is no longer on exhibit and is in storage somewhere. I say they should find it and hang it up in the elevator during the show. Why not? Or just give it to Joan and Charlie to keep.
Monday, April 3, 2017
I had a very serious senior moment this past Friday night and Saturday morning. And the above photograph - which if I say so myself is a pretty nice shot of the Denver Art Museum - proved critical in fixing it. As you all know, Friday night was the final Friday in March, and as I had the day off from my part-time job in the evenings, I went down to the Denver Art Museum (the DAM) to their monthly Untitled Final Fridays event. As I was leaving, however, the crisis began. I have always parked on South Acoma Street - just south of the museum - when I go to these events, and when I approached my usual parking spot, I could not find my car. I walked all around the neighborhood and could not find it. I finally gave up, assuming the car was stolen, and took the light rail train home in a very dark mood. Saturday morning I was checking the price for new cars, checking bus routes, and even considered downloading Uber onto my cell phone (it turns out it was already pre-loaded - how handy). Finally I decided to work on my Blog, and uploaded the above photograph that I took just before entering the museum. And in just minutes I realized that this location was the exact opposite direction from where I thought I had parked. I rushed out of the house, hopped on the light rail train, and speeded to the spot I took that photo. And there was my car, right where I had parked it, with a $25 parking ticket in the door handle. Crisis over. I didn't even care about the $25 ticket at that point, which is saying something. This incident reminds me of the story Dave Barry tells about his mother. She came out of the grocery store one day and could not find her car. A bunch of people were helping her look for it when she suddenly remembered they had just bought a new car. Wait a minute, she said to everyone. It's not a white Ford, it's a silver Chevy. Everyone just smiled and slowly backed away. I feel your pain, Mrs. Barry.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Major league baseball is back! Today 3 games start off the season, including the St. Louis Cardinals playing the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs (even now it seems hard to believe it happened, kind of like a Trump presidency). The rest of the teams start to play on Monday, including the Colorado Rockies. I took the above photograph of their star player, Carlos Gonzales, on the last day of the major league baseball season, saying goodbye to the fans for the year. Although Gonzales had a great season, the Rockies had still another horrible year. And this year? The Rockies are already beset by injuries, before the season even begins. I suspect Gonzales will never experience a post season run, at least here in Denver. Sorry about that, Carlos. But on the bright side, you and Chicago Cubs superstar Ernie Banks (the Cubs first black baseball player) will have a lot in common.
Saturday, April 1, 2017
I took the above photograph of the University of Denver's Ritchie Center the other evening, around sunset, from the living room of my condo. It is the university's sports center and was paid for entirely by then chancellor Dan Ritchie. Ritchie took over as chancellor when DU was struggling, and donated his own money and put the arm on his wealthy friends to build the University of Denver into a major institution. He was (and still is) a man of principle, and truly cared about the faculty, staff, and students. He resigned to become head of the Denver Center of the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, his replacement turned out to be a tool of the business-oriented Board of Trustees. I truly believe the DU Bookstore, where I worked for almost 30 years, would have not been outsourced to Follett Higher Education Group, throwing the staff's lives into turbulence, if he remained chancellor. But I am still not bitter. Very much.