Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Likes and Dislikes: Denver Summer Edition

After hosting several out of town guests recently, Denver somehow looks better to me than it did before.  As people come to visit and we show them our new environment, it makes me like it better.  

Back in January, I did my first "Likes and Dislikes" of Denver.  At that time, things like slush were on my mind.  Fast forward to the summer here, and it's a whole new world. So here are some of my likes and dislikes, summer edition:


Fireworks:  For reasons that I can't fully understand, I love fireworks.  Maybe it's a throwback to my childhood, but they never fail to excite me.  So you can imagine my delight to find out that every single night during the summer months, we have an unobstructed view of fireworks that are set off at an amusement park that's about a half mile away from our apartment.  They last about 10 minutes, except for special occasions when they go on a lot longer.  This is such a great bonus that no one mentioned when we rented our place.  At the very first boom, Barry and I run out to our terrace and watch the whole thing.  And I don't seem to be tiring of this routine, even after a month of it.  I can't wait to see what July 4th holds for us.

B-Cycle Rack

B-Cycles:   There are B-Cycle bike racks on many corners of Denver.  You can put your credit card into a machine there and ride off on a nice bike.  You can keep said bike for 24 hours, including docking it at other bike racks around the city and then pulling out a new bike when you want to continue riding.  A great program and a big success.  The B-Cycles started last year, and exactly zero bikes have been stolen since then.

Cherry Creek, June 20, 2011

Cherry Creek:   If I look down from our apartment instead of up, I see Cherry Creek, which has a bike trail on one side of it and a running trail on the other side.  The photo shows it when it was quite high after a night of rain, so it's usually less-river-like than it shows here.  Last weekend, we watched a gondola (yes, actual gondolas, like in Venice!) service giving people rides down the creek, which was yet another surprise to us.


Panhandlers:  Perhaps because I live downtown, panhandlers are all around me. Each person seems to have his/her own corner where they stand with their cardboard signs every single day, just as if this were their job that requires their presence, no matter the weather.  I've studied the signs that range from "Please Help" to more inventive messages, such as "Wife kidnapped by ninjas - need money for karate lessons" or "Need money for spare parts for space ship".   Of course, there are those honest souls who say straight out:  "Why Lie?  Need Beer".  Today I saw a guy with a sign that read:  "Church of Malt Liquor in Need of Funds."   Denver seems very tolerant of all of these sign-holding folks, but none of their messages makes me want to help them.  Whether this is a flaw in my character or a feeling that standing in the same place every day to beg for money signifies such a hopeless act that I have to believe that they could be doing something, somewhere that is more constructive.

So Dry:  Even after 7 months here, it's still unbelievably dry to me.  I am thirsty virtually every waking minute.  I've read that if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  But, no matter how much I drink, I'm still thirsty.  I can't seem to get enough liquid in me, in spite of carrying a water bottle everywhere.  I'll keep trying to hydrate but it's actually a chore.

No Grits:  I haven't seen grits on a menu since I left Atlanta.  It's no coincidence that this blog has "grits" in its name, and, I gotta say, granola is not an adequate substitute. Oh well.

Postscript to this Post:

For those of you who remember my post from several months back about Frozen Dead Guy Days, I wanted to let you know that the rights to this amazing event are now up for sale by the city of Nederland, Colorado.  If you are interested in checking out this fabulous opportunity, click on this New York Times article.

Second Postscript to this Post:

Barry and I take off on this Friday for an 8-day road trip in our new state.  Our stops include Vail, Ouray, Durango and Alamosa.  I will try to take good photos as we explore Colorado.  Hi-ho, Silver, away!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chalk Art and Other Ephemeral Things

The Denver Chalk Art Festival was held last weekend.  This is an annual occurrence that is located two blocks from our loft, so we were able to view it several times during the weekend and monitor the progress of the artists.  As you will see from the photos, these people do a great job - they are making serious works of art that disappear almost as soon as they are completed.  The festival began on Saturday morning and, on Sunday night, all of the drawings are washed away.

As I watched the artists (in 90+° weather, working on their knees on the hard pavement), I couldn't help but think that this is a lot of work for something that is so very temporary.  It's just like building elaborate sand castles or creating ice sculptures. None of these art forms last;  by the time they're completed, they're already facing elimination. 

So I have to ask:  why bother?  Why would someone commit so much energy toward a final product that will not even exist tomorrow?  The only answer I could come up with is that they enjoy the process, not the final, fleeting product.  This is probably a good life lesson to learn.  We should all take pleasure in the process.  The final product is not as important as we might think it is.  Here are some images, during the process, of the chalk festival.  Enjoy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Goodbye, Hometown

Wood Avenue, Linden, NJ

Last week we made an unexpected trip to New Jersey, sadly for a funeral.  While there, we realized that this would most likely be our last trip to our hometown, Linden, New Jersey.  It's not a place to go to for fun and relaxation, and the funeral marked the passing of our last close relative in that city.  So we did a final tour of Linden, passing by all of the Super Fund sites that sit empty as the chemicals leach from them, including the plant where my father worked for 40 years.  We drove by the homes that Barry and I grew up in, the schools and synagogues that we attended, and bid them all farewell.

My childhood home in Linden

I've always thought that growing up in New Jersey was somewhat of a blessing because everyplace else that I've lived seems great by comparison.  And that still is true.  Coming back to Denver was a breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively.  

I'm not exaggerating about our home town.  If you ever have an extra hour and are in NJ, drive south a few miles from Newark Airport on Route 1-9 and take a look.  It's ugly, dirty and congested.  No place you'd choose to spend time.   Or, if you choose the New Jersey Turnpike route, going south from the Airport, you'll see and smell Linden when you pass all of the oil tanks that surround the Turnpike.  And you'll pass Exit 13, our exit and the very same exit that Tony Soprano takes in the opening credits of The Sopranos.

There are definitely some good childhood memories encased in this ecological disaster of a city but, all in all, I'm ready to say goodbye to my hometown.