Dixie Darr

Archive for the ‘Arvada’ Category

As Time Goes By

In Arvada on May 25, 2018 at 4:29 pm

A thirtysomething student once told me that he never watched black and white movies. It made me sad that he would never see some truly great movies that were made in black and white, movies like To Kill a Mockingbird and Psycho and, especially, Casablanca.

I’ve seen Casablanca several times on television, but never on the silver screen until our local Harkins Olde Town theater featured it on their Tuesday Night Classics and I couldn’t resist.

It was glorious. Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa glows as she gazes at Humphrey Bogart’s Rick. A fairly complex story encompassing love and war and honor as well as murder, intrigue, Nazis and the best-ever rendition of La Marseillaise it’s told simply and filmed on a low budget Hollywood back lot yet still manages to convey the intensity of that critical time in world history and the intensity of the characters’ relationships.

Everyone knows the film’s most beloved lines: “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine,” “We’ll always have Paris,” “Round up the usual suspects,” “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” and “Play it, Sam” (not play it again, Sam).

Casablanca won the Academy Award for best picture in 1944 as well as Oscars for directing and best adapted screenplay proving that sometimes the Academy gets it right. Thank goodness the studio didn’t go with their initial choice of Ronald Reagan to play Rick. I don’t even want to think about it. Based on a failed stage play, Everybody Goes to Rick’s, many consider it the greatest movie of all time, and I think it’s pretty close to perfection.

If you get a chance, see it on the big screen. You can thank me later.


Book It

In Arvada, Books, Learning, Libraries, writing on May 21, 2018 at 7:20 am

I told a friend I was going to the Arvada Book Festival, “a one day celebration of literary arts,” on Saturday, and she asked if they would be selling books there. Yes, I said and other book-related items. She looked confused and then nodded and said, “bookmarks.”
Indeed they did have bookmarks, one included with the complimentary tote bag. Unfortunately, I don’t use bookmarks, haven’t for years. I use Post-It flags to mark my place or I read on Kindle and it saves my place. They had other things, too, but it was mostly local authors trying to sell their books. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I get my books from the library.
The Jeffco Public Library was there, and I signed up for their summer reading program. You choose your own books and record the number of minutes you read. If the total for everyone reaches 40 million minutes, the library will give $500 to Foothills Animal Shelter, plus readers earn prizes along the way. If I did the math right, that works out to $1 for every 1,333 hours of reading, so we won’t be doing it for the money. Still, that’s more than I normally earn for reading, which as we all know, is its own reward.
I didn’t stay for the afternoon workshops or panel discussions because, frankly, I’ve had my fill of those kinds of things.
Everybody kept asking me if I was a writer, and I never know how to answer that question. Yes, because writing is the way I make sense of the world, but no, because I’m not interested in publishing, which is what they were really talking about. I was briefly interested in a local group of mystery writers (Sisters in Crime) until they told me their quarterly meetings are a whole day long. No, thank you. (See workshops above).
I was also happy to learn that Arvada has an Arts and Cultural Commission. I voted for making Arvada the most art-friendly city in the area.
I’m glad I went, but let’s face it, my favorite way to celebrate the literary arts is to stay home and read.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

In Arvada, Auntie Flat, creativity, neighborhood on May 15, 2018 at 8:14 pm

Yesterday a friend asked if I wanted some of the Basket of Gold currently taking over her front yard with their sumptuous yellow flowers. I had to tell her no.
My only outdoor space is a balcony on the north side of the building that gets no direct sunlight.
In my old life, I’d have welcomed them and invited them to take over my own hillside or parking strip.
This time of year, I’d be cutting the last of the lilacs, purple, white, and lavender and propping the vase up so the cats couldn’t eat the flowers, tip over the vase, and drink the water. Those were the days.
I was gradually digging up all the grass and replacing it with flowers. People who asked about my garden always wanted to know what kind of vegetables I grew. I didn’t. I grew flowers.
I’d go out in the early morning to cut a bouquet for that day—roses maybe, and bachelor’s buttons with a sprig or two of bleeding heart.
Ultimately, the garden is what convinced me to move to a condo. As much as I loved the flowers, I didn’t love the buying, planting, watering, fertilizing, mulching, and weeding it took to get to the blooming. When my dad got sick the garden got away from me and I never had the energy to bring it back. My neighbors deserved better.
So I moved to a garden-free zone. Every year, I consider renting a plot in the community garden until I remember the unrelenting heat and weeds of July and August. No, these days I’m an observer only.
What brought all this to mind is reading Creative Quest by Questlove. He uses gardening as a metaphor for creativity in general. “To end up with beautiful flowers and healthy plants, you have to be in regular contact with them. You have to prune. You have to tend.”
I may need to make a trip to Paulino’s or O’Toole’s or Echter’s. Just to look.

Name Game

In Arvada, Denver, neighborhood on May 7, 2018 at 2:32 pm

When lower downtown Denver became LoDo several decades ago, I was both baffled by the nickname and a little embarrassed. It seemed to me that Denver was trying too hard to seem hip, like SoHo in NYC where the fad of giving neighborhoods two-syllable name contractions started.
RiNo, a shortened version of River North, may have come next, and that didn’t bother me much. What was then a shabby, nondescript, artsy community seemed to perk up a little with the new name. Of course, eventually, it perked up too much and became just one more sea of luxury apartments, restaurants, and galleries, pricing out the artists that made it a desirable location.
LoHi, or lower Highland, came next and that was the one that really irritated me, probably because I lived in Highland neighborhood and resented having realtors and other carpetbaggers stage a wholesale takeover of part of my neighborhood. Since I lived west of Zuni, was I in HiHi? When does it end?
Apparently not soon because now the area around Sloan’s Lake is SloHi to the real estate industry. Shudder. Is that necessary?
Oddly, the areas outside of the northwest quadrant of the city don’t seem to have suffered from this name mania. Sure, Uptown is officially part of North Capitol Hill (NoCaHi anyone?), but at least Uptown is a real word. Why doesn’t Colfax have a WeCo and EaCo? Is Virginia Village ViVi? Or Hilltop HiTo?
I suppose the rebranding comes to areas that want to develop a new image to reflect the gentrification of previously depressed communities. Don’t get me started.
I routinely refer to my current neighborhood as Olde Town Arvada, its official name for the last twenty years or so, while my friend Jeanie, who grew up here in the 50s and 60s knows it as Uptown, not to be confused with the previously mentioned Uptown in Denver.
By the way, I hate that extra e on Olde. My friend Chris insists on pronouncing it Old-ey Town. Are we hip yet?

Lilac Time

In Arvada, Books, Church, creativity, music on May 4, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Spring is my favorite season and lilacs are my favorite flower. They’re blooming now and it looks like a spectacular year for lilacs. Today I’m going to share a few other favorites from this week.

Music – Willie Nelson turned 85 this week and also released his latest album, Last Man Standing, the 156th from my count. In the title song, he laments losing most of his friends. “I don’t wanna be the last man standin’” he sings, “Or wait a minute maybe I do.” I for one hope he sticks around for many more years.

Movie – Come Sunday, streaming on Netflix, tells the story of Carlton Pearson, a rising star in the evangelical world of Oral Roberts. One night he saw a television story about innocent children starving to death in Africa. Believing as he did that only born-again Christians go to heaven, he prayed to God asking why God would condemn them to hell. And God answered, “Is that what you think I do?” When he preached that he no longer believed in hell or that people had to accept Jesus to get to heaven, he lost his following and his church, but he never backed down because God had spoken to him. You can listen to an interview with him on This American Life’s episode on Heretics.

Book – author Tony Hillerman died, I mourned not only his loss but the loss of his characters, Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn. Luckily, Hillerman’s daughter Anne Hillerman took up where her father left off to bring us more Navajo mysteries. I enjoyed the first one, Spider Woman’s Daughter, but thought she stumbled badly on the second, Rock With Wings. Song of the Lion was better and now with the fourth, Cave of Bones, she’s hitting her stride. I’m happy to revisit my old friends Chee and Leaphorn and even happier to see the increased emphasis on Chee’s wife, Bernadette Manuelito.

Event – I just learned that the Arvada Center will host a Book Festival on Saturday, May 19, featuring author readings, an exhibit hall, panel discussions, hands-on activities, contests, and book-related products of all kinds. All for the $5 admission fee. Pay a little more to have brunch with an author and attend a variety of writing workshops. Believe it or not, I’ve never actually been to a book festival. This will be my first, and I hope to see you there.

Cart Wars

In Arvada, creativity, Denver on April 9, 2018 at 7:04 am

The Safeway at 26th and Federal is where I discovered small, two-tiered grocery carts. It was love at first sight. The top basket was the perfect size for the few items and small amounts that I buy, and the lower basket could hold heavier or bulkier items–two-liter bottles of Diet Coke, say, or a box of cat litter. Other people must have loved them, too, because they were usually all in use and I had to settle for the big, unwieldy old-fashioned carts with one funky wheel that might be perfectly fine for a family of four or so, but weren’t at all suitable for my one-person household. My puny supply of groceries – one chicken breast, some deli turkey, and piddling amounts of fruits and vegetables look downright lonely in the bottom of that big basket. Do they think I’ll buy more to fill it up?
The same thing happens at King Soopers, Sprouts, and Walmart. Most of the time they are out of the small carts and have rows and rows of the family sized ones. That tells me they need to get more of the small ones.
In 2016, 44% of all U.S. households, almost 36 million, were single-person households. We deserve more than ten small carts per store.
Maybe you saw the Nightline show several years ago where they asked IDEO, the product development company, to redesign a shopping cart. Some features of their finished product (swiveling wheels!) looked great, but they are still big and clunky—in fact, bigger and clunkier than the usual type. Phooey.
All I want is a cart that’s small, lightweight, clean, with four working wheels and available when I need it. Is that too much to ask? Based on experience, yes, it is.

Leaving Colorado

In Arvada, Colorado, Denver on April 3, 2018 at 10:54 am

Destiny, a waitress at my favorite restaurant, was telling me about her housing woes. The wildly inflated real estate and housing prices dominate our conversation here in Denver and no one seems to know what to do about it. Destiny and her husband, who works in security downtown, live with their one-year-old in a one-bedroom apartment not far from me in Arvada, where they pay $675 a month. “The only reason it doesn’t cost more is because the owner doesn’t take care of the building,” she said.
They’d like a bigger place, but can’t find anything in their price range. A two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the metro area would cost them about twice what they pay now. A house is completely out of the question, now averaging more than $500,000.
We’ve watched the older, smaller houses, which once could have served as starter homes for young families, get torn down and replaced with monstrous and monstrously expensive townhouses all over town, and we ask one another, “Who can afford to buy them?” And yet, people do buy them as fast as they come on the market.
Local governments are racing to find fixes from requiring builders to include affordable units in new construction to allowing tiny houses and micro-apartments, but these efforts are minimal at best. More and more people are now talking about moving out of Colorado. Gulp.
I’m lucky. I managed to buy a house in what was then a ghetto thirty years ago, long before housing prices took off. Selling it six years ago allowed me to buy a nice one-bedroom condo for cash. It’s now worth more than double what I paid for it with property taxes continuing to rise.
Would I consider moving out of Colorado? My family moved here on my third birthday, and I always considered it to be my birthday present. I never seriously thought about moving out of state because I think it’s the perfect place to live. How could I leave the mountains or our almost perfect weather?
Unlike Destiny, I’m not being forced into that decision. Yet. I am, however, starting to think about it.
It makes me very sad.

That’s Entertainment

In Arvada, creativity, Friends on March 23, 2018 at 7:17 am

Our remodeled and upgraded movie theater complex in Olde Town Arvada will open as the Harkins Theaters on April 26 after being closed for a whole year. I’m very excited about this even though I go to only about one or two movies a year. I can’t wait to see what they’ll be showing. Maybe something I will actually want to see. Doubtful but possible. As an adult, the movies I want to see usually come out between September and December.
Usually, I wait until a movie hits Netflix or Amazon Prime and then watch it. Or not. I may have lost interest by then, or at least I’m no longer interested in sitting still for two hours to watch it.
A few more ground rules: I don’t like animated movies. Sue me. I don’t like violence. For me, a movie must pass the Bechdel test, which asks whether it features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Only about half of all movies meet this requirement.
Here are a few of my all-time favorite movies:
Wizard of Oz—Does anybody not love this movie? It’s my nomination for the best movie ever made. When I first saw it as a child (probably at the Federal Theater), that green witch scared the bejeebers out of me. She still does. Like Dorothy, I love the Scarecrow most of all.
Annie Hall—I think I saw this 25 times when it came out in 1977. I loved everything about it. I wanted to be Annie Hall, and I thought Woody Allen embodied the maxim that intelligence is sexy. Now, however, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch it again and I haven’t seen any Woody Allen movie for thirty years.
Milagro Beanfield War—based on one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Set in New Mexico, it is one of the sweetest movies ever made. It shows how people pull together to keep their lazy little town safe from evil developers, something we can all identify with these days. They do it with humor, music, pure orneriness, and a little magic.
Cannery Row—The critics hated it. I loved it—loved Nick Nolte’s Doc, loved Debra Winger’s house in an oil drum. I loved that one character was named Jesus Mary and Joseph. Quirky doesn’t begin to describe the denizens of this little corner of Steinbeck country, and yet they still manage to form an ersatz family of sorts.
Looking back, I see that three of these movies deal with creating community, and they are all at least thirty years old. I wonder what that reveals about me?
I won’t be going to the next episode of Jurassic Park or Ocean’s Whatever or Mama Mia or Star Wars.
What will I choose?

An Uphill Climb

In Arvada, Learning, Resistance, Walking on March 14, 2018 at 7:25 pm

I went dog walking with a friend and knew I was in trouble when we started off downhill. Contrary to conventional wisdom, my arthritic knees and ankles hurt more going downhill or down stairs than up, but I was also wondering about my stamina in climbing that hill on the way home. It didn’t help that my friend, who’s thin and physically fit, may not have even noticed the slope.
How’s my walking going, you ask? The first couple of weeks with my new shoes were great. I walked 5-6 days a week and even looked forward to getting outside and moving. Then it snowed and snowed again and the sidewalks were icy. Ten years ago, I slipped on ice in the library parking lot and broke my arm. To avoid doing that again, I don’t walk on ice. Then the winds came up and walking in the wind is just too difficult. I’m an excuse machine; I can come up with an excuse for anything.
For a couple of weeks, I barely walked at all. I never thought of it as being a failure or even a dropout—I was just on hiatus, and
now I’m attempting to get back on track. So to speak.
It isn’t easy, but I’m trying. Was it Yoda who said “Do or do not. There is no try”? Okay, how about this: I’m walking regularly and generally improving my physical fitness; I’m just not perfect yet.
I may be operating against human nature here. In her book about establishing habits, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin said, “starting again is often far harder than starting the first time.” I really don’t want to hear that, and I’m not sure I believe it. Starting to eat chocolate or potato chips again or reprising a habit of inactivity seems infinitely easier the second time around. Any former smoker will tell you how easy it is to slide into old habits. Anyway, I’m working on it, but sometimes it seems as if life is an uphill climb.
I’m in my golden years, people. It’s all supposed to be downhill from here.
The problem is that I never know if that means things are going to get better or worse?

Since You Asked

In Arvada, creativity, Denver, Friends on February 5, 2018 at 1:54 pm






My walking is going well. I’ve been out six of the last seven days, mostly for about a mile.
I’ve walked into and around Olde Town, along Clear Creek in Prospect Park, from Highland to the Tattered Cover Lodo and Union Station and past the skate park and Flour Mill Lofts and around City of Cuernavaca Park, crisscrossing the Platte River several times.
The last two were among my favorite walks when I lived in North Denver and I’m happy to rediscover them. It seems I prefer walking in the city and along rivers and creeks to walking around the static lakes in parks although I’ll do both and I’m trying to get interested in nature. You know, listening to birds and identifying plants and small wildlife. I’m not exactly a natural when it comes to the great outdoors.
I never used to like walking with friends, but I appreciate it now because it gives me something to take my mind off of how much my various body parts hurt.
My new shoes keep my feet from hurting, leaving arthritis pain only in my ankles and knees. Sometimes my hip joints ache, too. Getting old is so much fun.
Friends and family are getting into the act with my birthday gifts, too. I use my gift of Deep Blue Rub on anything that’s sore, usually my knees and ankles. I have no idea if these topical creams work, but they make me feel like I’m doing something and the strong eucalyptus scent smells medicinal. I also received Burt’s Bees foot crème, some nice-smelling bath salts for soaking my feet, and a new water bottle. Thanks for the encouragement!
Sometimes I wear earphones to listen to an audiobook, but mostly I let my mind wander. Many of my favorite authors extol walking as an antidote to writer’s block, and Austin Kleon, calls it “a very creative activity.”
I’m starting to feel like my old self again, that is, I’m starting to look forward to my daily walk instead of dreading it. All through school my least favorite class was always gym. Somehow it never penetrated my brain cells that physical activity is something I’d need to do all my life. At least walking is something I like, and with a little more practice, maybe I’ll get good at it.