Dixie Darr

Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

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.


Out to Lunch

In Arvada, Friends, neighborhood on November 8, 2017 at 9:24 am

I’d like to invite you to Newk’s, my new favorite Arvada restaurant at 52nd and Wadsworth. Lone Tree has one, too. It’s a chain out of Mississippi, so normally I wouldn’t like it just on principle, my principles being I don’t like chains and I don’t like the South. The latter stems from the movie, Easy Rider, which scared the bejesus out of me in 1969 and I never got over it.

Apparently, this is part of the fast casual restaurant craze favored by millennials and offering casual-dining quality food at fast food speeds. When they discover that some of us old farts like it, too, they may move on as they did when baby boomers and gen Xers took over Facebook.

I prefer service at my table, and here you have to order at the counter, but then they bring it to your table. I also have to schlep my own drinks, but at least I can get a refill on my diet Coke whenever I want it. And I favor booths because they are both comfortable and private. Newk’s has booths and tables as well as those high tables with stools which I hate, but which the younger crowd seems to like for some unknown reason—feeling above the rest of us, perchance?

It’s light, clean and open with plenty of space between tables.

They offer soup, salad, sandwiches, and pizza, plus bread-and-butter pickles to die for at the condiments table. I’m always on the lookout for a good turkey sandwich, and they have one. I’ve also had the pepperoni and sausage pizza, which is very good.

The only thing that would make it better is if it were in Olde Town so I could walk there. At least here there’s plenty of parking, which can’t be said for Olde Town unless you want to use the mostly unused RTD parking garage next to the still not operating commuter rail line. Don’t get me started.

Let me know if you want to have lunch. I’m available.

Laugh Tracks

In Church, creativity, Friends, Learning on November 1, 2017 at 4:05 pm

What’s the most important quality you look for in a friend?” Brandon asked the ten of us to help us get to know one another. I didn’t have to think about it, answering, “A sense of humor.” My first requirement is someone who makes me laugh and who appreciates my so-called wit. What could be better?

As that legendary humorist (?) Charles Dickens said, “there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” If you need proof, just watch one of those videos of babies laughing uncontrollably. In fact, watch one anyway. Here’s a little teaser.  Now, don’t you feel better?

Laughter brings all sorts of benefits besides lifting our mood. It reduces stress, relieves pain, boosts the immune system, and lower blood pressure. Be careful not to laugh too hard, though, or you might actually “bust a gut” laughing—that is, cause a hernia. It’s been known to happen.

You may have heard as I have that children laugh much more frequently than adults. While there doesn’t seem to be any scientific evidence for this particular urban myth, it’s certainly true that we could all stand to lighten up and laugh more. Being around children can help, maybe because we laugh at their silly, uninhibited antics. That’s probably why the Sunday at church when our kids come into the congregation to collect spare change for charity is a favorite time. They are just so cute.

My all-time favorite compliment came from my friend Pat who once told me, “You’re one of the funniest people I know.” I was astounded. I’m one of those people who couldn’t tell a joke if her life depended on it. If I manage to remember one, the chances are good that by the time I get to the punch line, I’ll have forgotten it. What Pat probably meant was that I have a slightly skewed perspective on the world. I can’t help it. With apologies to Art Linkletter, kids (of all ages) say and do the darnedest things.

Who makes you laugh? For a quick fix, you can always watch a child or a puppy, listen to this podcast with Museum of Happiness co-founder Shamash Alidina, take a yoga laughter class, or watch one of the funniest TED talks.

You know what they say, “Laugh and the world laughs with you.” If there’s anything this world needs, it’s more laughter.

Photo Play

In creativity, Friends, Learning on October 11, 2017 at 5:45 pm

I have a love-hate relationship with our picture-happy culture. On the one hand, my favorite things on Facebook are pictures my niece posts of her children. They live close to a thousand miles away, and I only get to see them once a year when they visit their grandparents. Facebook posts let me keep up with them.

Ditto for pictures posted by friends that show me what they’re doing. And I enjoy finding old pictures to post on throwback Thursday.

What I object to is people who have to document EVERYTHING. Blame the iPhone. It’s always right there in your purse or your pocket or, more likely, your hand and that makes it easy to snap a photo. Sometimes I think these ubiquitous amateur photographers don’t really experience anything; they just photograph it so we’ll think they did.

I admit it’s mostly generational. Those my age didn’t grow up with a camera attached to our hand, so we don’t have the habit of constantly taking pictures. Even when I intend to take pictures, like when my great nephew and niece visit, I typically forget. I’m wrapped up in interacting with them and it just doesn’t occur to me to stop and grab the camera. That’s right. I take pictures with a camera, not my phone. Old school, I know.

At least those digital images on your phone don’t take up physical space, so your progeny won’t have to find storage locations for them. My brother and I split the responsibility to store our parents collection. I got the prints, from ancient black and whites to faded Polaroids; he got the slides. I went through mine a couple of years ago to compile a family history book for my nieces, throwing out virtually all the Polaroids, mostly of people and places I didn’t recognize.

The slides still languish in my brother’s storage room. He claims he’ll sort through them—“We’ll put up a screen and have a slide show!” when he retires. I’m not holding my breath.

When it comes time to pass them along to the next generation, I’m pretty sure nothing but the digital files will survive in a cloud somewhere long ago and far away.

Journey Group

In Church, Friends on October 9, 2017 at 6:56 am

Five of the seven of us are around 30 or so and fit together naturally. You wouldn’t be surprised to see them socializing. The two of us in our late sixties seem out of place, but that’s what these Journey Groups are all about—gathering with other random members of our church and getting to know one another. We meet at someone’s house for two hours of snacks and conversation. In a growing church like ours, people frequently lament that there are just so many new people all the time. We get to know the people who sit near us in the sanctuary, but not those on the opposite side of the aisle.

Following some ice-breaking questions from our pastor, we found out where the others went to school and what they do and how they ended up in Colorado. We had fun confessing the kinds of things that got us in trouble growing up.

The more revealing question had everyone naming a secret goal or project. One woman really likes to bake, and her husband-to-be would like to open a microbrewery next to her future bakery, “when we win the lottery.” Another would like to start a mountain hiking program for disabled youth. We gave her a few ideas for funding sources that might make her dream possible. A single woman wants to have kids either through fostering, adoption, or the usual way. A married woman with two kids would like to have a lot more “if money were no object.” She also loves baking and cooking and thinks about starting a food blog.

One retired woman wants to write, and we encouraged her to start doing that. All it takes is a computer and a few ideas, with maybe a tiny smidgen of courage.

Of course, I already write these daily posts about whatever strikes my fancy, and initially, I couldn’t think of anything beyond that. Then I remembered that I started writing a mystery a couple of years ago and I’d like to get back to that.

Many believe that we don’t meet people by accident. They cross our paths for a reason. I don’t really believe that, but I do believe we shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to get to know those who appear in our vicinity and who may accompany us on part of our journey through life. After all, some people we encounter as we cruise along end up changing our whole direction.

Under the Big Top

In Church, Friends, music, neighborhood on September 11, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sometimes church is just too much fun. Going to church always makes me happy. I love seeing my friends, singing and praying in community, and hearing uplifting words from our pastor. But sometimes, it’s an exuberant celebration of life and love and, yes, God. Yesterday was one of those days.

Once a year, we leave the sanctuary to have our service in a big tent in the parking lot. A local bluegrass band, Thunder and Rain, provides the music. People wander by because it’s that kind of neighborhood and also because there’s a farmer’s market just down the street, and some of them join us for a song. Being outside makes us much more relaxed as does keeping our three or four dozen kids in the service with us. It makes us louder, too.

Many people, not all of them kids, danced in the aisles as we sang “May the Circle Be Unbroken,” “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” “Amazing Grace,” and my favorite, “I’ll Fly Away.” Abby and Scarlett, both about four, played with Abby’s doll carriage and stuffed animals. Several people strolled to the back of the tent for refreshments before returning to their seats.

We learned that the United Methodist Church, with which everyone in our congregation disagrees on at least a few things (*cough* social principles), encompasses members as diverse as George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Sessions. It’s a big tent. We acknowledged the founder, John Wesley, with a bobblehead doll.

Afterward, just about everybody there helped fold and stack every chair we own to haul them back to the church. We’re a family; we all pitch in. Note to self: We need to buy more chairs because the family is growing.

Then, since it was also bike to church day, people took off on their bikes for a short communal ride around the neighborhood park. A glorious good time was had by all.

Against the Wind

In Colorado, Friends, Home, spirituality on September 8, 2017 at 6:31 am

All I know about hurricanes is what I see on the news. Living in Colorado, we’re protected from such things by hundreds of miles of land. In fact, as natural disasters go, we don’t have much. Wildfires frequently rage out of control, destroying forests, homes, and wild life, although aside from stirring up our allergies they don’t affect us in the city. We don’t have major earthquakes, and tornadoes generally touch down in wide open spaces. We do have the occasional devastating flood, but again, since 1965, not in the city. The worst a blizzard does is make leaving home inadvisable for a day or two. Big deal.

I have never known anyone personally who was directly affected by any of these things. No one I know lost their home or their life in any of these events. To me, they’ve always just been stories I watch on TV for a couple of days until the next news cycle kicks in.

I go about my business, watching the carnival for this weekend’s Harvest Festival assemble in the theaters’ parking lot, wondering when the remodeled theaters will reopen, and looking forward to my church’s annual bluegrass tent service on Sunday.

Hurricane Irma is different, not only because it’s the biggest, baddest hurricane on record but because I have a friend in its path. That changes everything. He lives on the Atlantic coast of central Florida and gives me regular updates on his preparations. I’m scared this time, for him. If he decides to leave, given the gasoline shortages and traffic jams, will he be able to get out? If he stays, will he survive? What will he lose?

Having someone you care about affected makes all the difference, even if it shouldn’t. So, while I pray for all the people in Florida and the Caribbean, I’m really praying that God will protect my friend.

Dream On

In Friends, Prejudice, Resistance on September 7, 2017 at 10:53 am

Every single one of us is the descendant of a go-getter. Of dreamers and of believers.” That’s one of the few things Marco Rubio has ever said that I agree with. The dream crusher in the White House must have realized how unpopular his decision would be because didn’t have the huevos to announce the end of DACA himself. Instead he sent well-known racist and KKK sympathizer Jefferson Beauregard Sessions to do the dirty deed, serving up a whole batch of lies to justify the action.

For the record, DACA did not grant legal status to recipients. Instead, it gave them a temporary reprieve.

It did not contribute to the surge of unaccompanied minors at the southern border.

It did not allow recipients participation in Social Security.

It did not deny jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing illegal aliens to take those jobs.

The facts show that dreamers cannot vote, receive any federal benefits, like social security, food stamps or college financial aid, or receive amnesty.

The backlash was swift and widespread, coming from business and religious leaders in addition to elected officials from his own party. More than 70% of Americans think dreamers should be allowed to stay.

The criticism even seemed to penetrate 45’s obliviousness. Initially, he passed the buck to Congress, and later tweeted that if they couldn’t reach an agreement, he would revisit the subject. He also tweeted that he would take no action against dreamers for six months. Both of these statements would be welcome if anybody actually believed anything he says (or tweets).

We can’t relax and trust him to take care of things. We have to make this happen. These young people grew up here and are just as American as any of us. We need them as much as they need us. Right now, we’re all dreamers.

Sing with me now. Dream on until your dreams come true.

Sweet dreams are made of this.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

In Church, Friends, neighborhood on September 1, 2017 at 6:37 am

Hurricane Harvey caused the worst flooding ever including almost 52 inches of rain in one day, yet Republicans still refuse to acknowledge climate change. They’d rather blame the catastrophe on Houston having a gay mayor or the country allowing marriage equality. Sure, that makes sense.

During times of crisis, it is always gratifying to see pictures of neighbors helping neighbors, although the newspeople report it so breathlessly that you would think it never happened before. The truth is that every disaster brings out our altruistic spirit. We reach out, send money, assemble flood buckets, use our boats and cars and wagons, open our homes, whatever we have to help others.

Unfortunately, disasters can also bring out the worst, as illustrated in the tweeters who praise 45 for his response while criticizing Obama for his response to Hurricane Katrina when it was George W. Bush who botched that effort so spectacularly. Obama was an Illinois Senator who was, in fact, helping people displaced by the flooding in New Orleans.

Maybe the biggest fail of the week goes to Joel Osteen who refused to open the doors of his megachurch to shelter flood victims until he was forced to do so by public scorn. His excuse modified from saying the church was flooded and inaccessible (not true) to “they didn’t ask me to” when it is perfectly clear that Jesus asked him 2,000 years ago.

The Christian response came from Jim McIngvale, the Houston furniture store owner who didn’t hesitate to open his furniture store doors to shelter and feed hundreds of desperate people with nobody asking him to. Also lauded were the four bakers who found themselves trapped at work and spent their time making hundreds of loaves of bread for other flood victims.

The response from local, state, and federal government is being called excellent so far, although experts remind us that it will take years to recover from Harvey. What it takes to build a bridge over these troubled waters will be all of us linking arms like those people who formed a human chain to rescue people trapped in flooded cars. As Anne Lamott said, “Give someone hope, and then there will be hope in the world.”

We need to become a human chain of mercy and compassion.

Old Friends

In Friends on July 28, 2017 at 6:34 am









Chris and I were best friends in high school. In our sophomore year, we were in French class when we heard that President Kennedy had been shot and at lunch when Walter Cronkite told the world he was dead. Assassinated.
One month later, Beatles music came to America and that, as much as anything, pulled us out of a slump.
Our junior year, we took the train to Quebec with the French Club, where I had my kleenex-on-the-head meltdown.
So we went through a lot together.
After graduation, she went to an exclusive liberal arts college in Illinois, and I went to CSU, which I hated and quit after one year.
We both married young. She moved to New Jersey to teach elementary school, I went through some bad times and maybe so did she. Our lives diverged and we lost touch.
Flash forward 35 years. I wanted more than anything to reconnect with Chris but could find no trace of her on the internet.
One night, I was teaching a class in research methods and decided to give my class the impossible assignment of finding her. Maybe, I thought, they’d have some ideas I hadn’t thought of, although I didn’t expect much to come of it.
I told them what I knew about her and her family, and within about 30 seconds, one student told me she thought she knew Chris’s brother.
And so, as a result of asking a futile question in a lost cause, I was able to reconnect with her. That was 2004. We’ve gotten together a few times when she’s come to Colorado. (I don’t travel.) She has lived her entire adult life in New Jersey and feels much more comfortable there than here, while I cannot imagine living anywhere but Colorado.
She’s still one of the smartest people I know. We have identical political views and social values, and we both love books more than people. I always look forward to seeing her on Facebook.
It’s a cliché that true friends can go years without talking and still pick up right where they left off. I never would have thought that a friendship started when I was 15 would still be strong today, especially after a gap of 35 years.
I don’t remember how we first met, but some people you just click with. You know right away that something special connects you. Time doesn’t matter. Distance doesn’t matter.
There are, at a minimum, 47 different kinds of love. This is one.