Dixie Darr

Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Just the Facts, Ma’am

In Friends, Learning, Resistance on May 16, 2018 at 10:36 am

A Facebook friend (now former friend) recently posted a meme showing Senator Chuck Schumer saying, “it’s racist to only allow citizens to vote.” That sounded fishy to me, so I looked it up and found out that he never said anything like that. I commented that it wasn’t true and suggested that she might try checking before posting. She was highly offended and told me I “didn’t have to be so nasty.”
Was that nasty I wondered and reread my comment. I guess I could have said “please.” Then it occurred to me that she had posted a vicious lie about someone, yet somehow concluded that my correcting her made me the nasty one. Before I had the chance to compose a polite response, she unfriended me.
This is why I can’t seem to stay friends with conservatives: They refuse to accept facts. “I’m entitled to my opinion,” they say. Yes, they are, but opinions are not equal to facts.
Another friend who hasn’t (yet) unfriended me rails against politicians, saying, “They’re all crooks. They’re all the same.” So far I have avoided telling him my opinion that only conservatives say that to justify voting for a crook. I’ve never heard a liberal say that. Maybe that’s because we pay attention to the facts.

In their last 25 years in office, Democratic Presidents had a total of three executive branch officials indicted with one (1) conviction and one prison sentence. that’s one whole executive branch official convicted of a crime in two and a half decades of Democrat leadership.
In the 28 years that Republicans have held office over the last 53 years, they have had a total of 120 criminal indictments of executive branch officials, 89 criminal convictions, and 34 prison sentences handed down.
Notice this doesn’t go back to the Nixon years. There I go again, pointing out facts. My friend, Chris, says, “My life is a constant battle between wanting to correct grammar and wanting to have friends.”
Yeah, what she said.


Sister Mothers

In Friends on May 10, 2018 at 7:53 am

Here’s the best Mother’s Day story I know. A group of moms from the neighborhood around my church used our garage space to get together and make Mother’s Day cards for moms being held in the ICE detention center in Aurora to let them know they haven’t been forgotten. Blessings on them all.
Today I continue my celebration of women in my life with friends past and present who lift me up when I need it, make me laugh and make me think.

Chris Schorr—we teamed up in high school because she was the smartest girl in class. I like to think I was second. After losing touch for more than thirty years, we reconnected and started right where we left off. She has the most beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen. Among other things, we share a love of reading and a distaste for housework.

MaryEsther Campbell—my favorite person at church. She’s funny, smart, energetic, fiercely loyal, and a little bit naughty. Maybe more than a little bit. Seeing her always makes my day a little brighter.

Vera Benavidez—my best friend for many years before her untimely death. Vera could have an unforgiving nature and was grouchy and angry much of the time. Yet she made friends easier than anyone else I’ve ever known. That was her superpower.

Marla Dionese—she started as my parents’ neighbor and friend and became my friend and lunch buddy. We can talk about almost any topic even when we disagree. She is always curious and ready to help anyone who needs it.

Sister Joan Whittemore—I knew her for a year before I found out she was a Sister of Saint Francis. She loved the Colorado mountains and after moving home to St. Louis made the trek back here annually for her mountain “fix.” ALS took her quickly but death can’t extinguish the sound of her raucous laugh in my head.

Rev. Sheila Baker-Johnson—a loving friend whose faith is steady and true, but never intrusive. Some people you just click with and Sheila was one of those. The breadth of her creativity and love astounds me. Her friendship has been a gift and a blessing for more than twenty years.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

In Books, Friends, women on April 17, 2018 at 7:43 am









Eleanor Oliphant reminds me of the guy in The Rosie Project except she isn’t on the autism spectrum. Her controlled and awkward life is a result of horrific childhood trauma, and although early hints in the book Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, tell us a little about it, author Gail Honeyman makes us wait for the ending before revealing the whole scope of hideous details.
Eleanor’s life is disciplined and contained. She is unrelenting in her logical, reasonable responses to life and all the people she meets. Her only friend is the vodka that gets her through her solitary weekends. Then she meets Raymond, the IT guy at work, and when they begin to form a tentative friendship, Eleanor’s world opens up.
While she focuses on meeting the man of her dreams, a musician she saw perform one night, her life begins to change. She buys new, fashionable clothing and tries makeup to distract from the burn scar on her face. She accepts a promotion at work, attends a few parties, and makes more friends.
Suddenly her life cracks open and she has to confront all her demons at once. Through it all, Eleanor learns about friendship and the strength of the human spirit.
This is one of those books that I read slowly because I didn’t want it to end. Eleanor is smart, unintentionally funny, and brave. I want to be her friend.
My only disappointment was learning that this is the author’s debut novel. Normally when I really like a book, I will look for other titles by the same author. Picture me pouting. I guess I’ll have to wait for her to write another one.
Meanwhile, Reese Witherspoon is turning this book into a movie. It goes without saying that it won’t be as good as the book, but it could still be wonderful. I’ll expect nothing less.

The Third Place

In Friends on March 30, 2018 at 5:32 pm

For the last five or so years of his life, my dad and stepmom went to Chick-fil-A every day for lunch. They ordered a chicken sandwich and an ice cream cone and split both. They made friends there with other retirees, mostly in their 80s, and with the staff, mostly in their twenties. They liked the food, but the real draw was the camaraderie.
If you ever took a sociology course, you probably ran across the concept of the “third place.” Other than home, the first place, and work, the second place, many people seek a third place where they seek community and conversation. More and more, fast food restaurants act as the third place. They’re cheap, clean, and open long hours, plus they have free wifi and plenty of electrical outlets for charging various devices.
Walk into a McDonald’s anywhere in the country and you are liable to see a table or two of older people drinking coffee and talking. In fact, Dad and Fern went out for coffee at McDonald’s on Friday mornings and met with a different group of old people, most of whom they met at McDonald’s. It’s a thing.
People need to connect with other people face-to-face if at all possible. A Facebook group won’t do it.
If the old paradigm is (mostly men) frequenting bars, the new one may be both men and women meeting others at gyms and yoga classes. Playing sports from golf to bowling also brings people together. More and more our busy lives necessitate multitasking our social lives with other activities.
Coffee shops and other restaurants, too, serve as meeting spaces for affinity groups. Ten or so sports car owners meet every Wednesday morning at the Denny’s I go to. A group of elderly women eat lunch at my favorite Chinese restaurant and stay to play bridge.
My third place is probably my church. In addition to Sunday morning services, I attend an every-other-week current events group, work on a committee, and take occasional classes.
What are some of your favorite third places?

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?

Irrational Exuberance

In creativity, Friends, Home, music, Resistance on March 21, 2018 at 4:35 pm

The phrase “irrational exuberance,” was coined by Nobel laureate Robert Shiller and refers to the enthusiasm of investors not supported by reality. I’m using it here in a more general sense.
Even the most cursory glimpses of our world today reveals problems, so many problems that we can’t keep up.
If I turn on the news, I’m barraged with stories of women attacked in public places or their own homes, children abused,
childish and corrupt behavior from the man in the White House, the proliferation of racists crimes, threat of losing health care,
CEOs making 217 times the average worker’s salary, our crumbling infrastructure, the stimying of academic research for political reasons, sacrificing the environment to corporate greed, and reduced budgets for education.
I hear people screaming that anything they don’t like is “Fake News!” Other people scream unflattering names at the first group.
Wars slaughter men, women, and children all around the globe for stupid, petty reasons and new wars are threatened every day. And so on. Until I just can’t take it anymore.
I turn off the TV, sit back and breathe and try to clear my mind by turning my attention to the good things in my life.
It’s spring! Flowers are starting to bloom and trees to bud. I have plenty of books to read and words to write. I set my own schedule and answer to no one. I have love and joy and music and sunshine. I have church every week. To quote a friend, “It’s still a wonderful world.”
Yes, it is.
When confronted with bad news, I would like to think that I acknowledge it and do what I can, then, like the flower pictured, I’ll
find a scrap of soil and water and turn my face to the sun. I’ll put the shadows behind me and drink in the light.

Light Filters

In creativity, Friends, Learning, Prejudice on February 23, 2018 at 3:13 pm







We were talking about an artist who makes pieces in a wide variety of media. Someone said, “That’s just how she sees the world—as art and what she can make.
We all have our individual points of view, formed by our peculiar experiences, that determine how we interpret the world.
I tend to interpret things as potential blog posts.
My pastor sees something happening and says, “That sermon almost writes itself.”
One friend focuses on people she can help.
Another friend sees small business ideas wherever she looks.
An architect notices ways to make the world better through design.
A cartoonist wants to pick up our spirits with laughter.
A politician relates everything to votes.
Abraham Maslow said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
Nothing wrong with that. We have to use the tools we have at hand. Luckily, we are social animals who can access the gifts and tools of others because not everything is a nail. Variations of the expression, “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are” have been repeated by many people.
While I know this, I tend to forget it in the heat of the moment dealing with someone with an opinion diametrically opposed to my own. I can’t promise to stop that, but I can vow to take a breath and wonder what life circumstances led them to their (wrong!) conclusions. And, of course, I can write about it.

Ambient Light

In Friends, Lent, solitude, spirituality on February 14, 2018 at 4:18 pm

When you reach my advanced years, chances are good that you will need to get up at least once in the middle of every night. I try to avoid turning on a light, and usually, my condo is plenty light enough to keep me from bumping into furniture, stubbing my toe or stepping on my cat. Yeouw! I have many tiny lights on various appliances that indicate that the power is off or on plus a Beatles nightlight, and these provide a bit of light, but most of it comes from street lamps outside that leak in through my closed blinds.
I’m thinking about light because our Lenten theme this year is “Sharing the Light Within: Reclaiming and Restoring Our Beauty in the Darkness.” Sharing our light with others may be the most important thing we do in this life and I’ll get back to that in future posts. Right now, however, I want to herald the light others emit that helps to light our way.
I’ve pretty much always been a loner and I’ve written several times celebrating the art and science of being your own best friend. That never meant being without friends, only that I enjoy and need time with myself.
Today, I want to celebrate you, my friends and family, who add joy and comfort, encouragement and support to my life. You walk with me and laugh with me and sometimes cry with me, too. You make it possible for me to live in a perpetual glow. You are the ambient light that rescues me from despair and keeps me from stumbling around in the darkness, and I thank you for that.
I can only hope I brighten your days as you do mine. Shine on.

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.

Did You Miss Me While I Was Gone?

In Colorado, Denver, Friends on January 15, 2018 at 9:18 am

I took last week off from blog posting because I was entertaining an out-of-town guest, Florida Boy. To be clear, I don’t do that. I neither have nor entertain out-of-town guests, so this was a first for me.

I drew on my childhood when we had lots of relatives and friends visit, mostly from Iowa. Back then we’d head to Estes Park and Trail Ridge Road or Central City (before gambling) closer to town. I no longer go to Central City, although I understand that much of the original town remains unchanged and I’d like to see the face on the barroom floor again.

We did go to Estes Park but didn’t see any elk roaming through town. I pointed out the Stanley Hotel, and remembering The Shining, he asked if the town gets snowed in during the winter. It is winter, I reminded him, and there wasn’t a snowflake to be found. Too bad Trail Ridge Road is closed nine months of the year. That would have shown him some snow.

Nor did we see any snow on our trip to Idaho Springs, my favorite mountain town. The drive back through Clear Creek canyon did offer miles of thick ice on the creek and stunning up-close views of our famously rugged mountains. Just for good measure, we drove up Lariat Trail to the top of Lookout Mountain where we saw one lone deer by the side of the road but still no snow. He did love the view to the west from the Buffalo Bill parking lot showing range after range after range of mountains as far as we could see.

We went to the Stock Show one night and saw the wonderful gallery of western art plus the obligatory cowboys, ranchers, and cows.

Of course these days, the quintessential Colorado experience is a marijuana shop, and we went there, too, noticing that nobody lollygags there, presumably because once they buy their stash they’re eager to get home to enjoy it.

The quintessential Denver experience is the Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant with Colorado’s first liquor license, and we went there, too. Everyone from elsewhere should go there for the food and the ambiance.

The Florida Boy was confounded by people wearing shorts here in January even though the weather was relatively mild all week. He was also amazed at people eating on restaurant patios in 40-degree temperatures.

While we stayed busy, we saved many things for him to see on his next visit. Here in Colorado, we have a never-ending supply of wonders.