July 2008

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My Uncle Chris was in town this past weekend, therefore affording us the opportunity to explore the city in ways we don’t normally.  Chris is very fond of views, so we went to every spot we hadn’t taken him before, like the rooftop restaurant Rocket on East Burnside where we enjoyed some tantalizing cocktails.  Mine was The High Ball, a perfect combination of bourbon, tea concentrate, and tamarind syrup, topped with a delicious cherry! 

As Portlanders will be able to surmise from the photos, we also went for a short hike in Forest Park to show Chris the very cool ruins of a stone house built by the WPA in the 1930′s.  It always looks so beautiful!  We also made a stop at the Mount Calvary cemetery for the stunning Mt Saint Helen and Mt Hood vistas.  Though they didn’t photograph as nicely as they looked in person, sigh.

Surprisingly, we had never taken him to Washington Park, so that was our next stop.  It was a perfect day to be out among the myriad roses, and while not in their full glory, they were still quite impressive.  After the Rose Garden, we visited the Holocaust Memorial – a very sad place that reminds me of the importance of kindness and forgiveness.  Hating people for having beliefs different than my own can lead me down a very dark path.  

After all that hiking, walking, and driving, we took a bit of a siesta at The Matador in Northwest, an uber-velvety place with stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon (hello decadence) and the best margarita I’ve ever had.  Wouldn’t you know, it had tamarind juice in it?  I think I am becoming a little predictable! 

After more decadent dining that evening at The Berlin Inn and a good night of sleep, we spent Sunday looking at real estate.  Our most interesting stop was at The Benson, where we got to see our fair city from the 24th floor.  I wish I hadn’t been a ninny and forgotten to take photos.  It was really quite nice to see my home from a new angle, and one so flattering as well.  Portland, you look mahvelous!  Thanks for being such a great place to live.

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Though, I don’t care to live there again – snow, traffic, sprawl, and housing prices, returning to Denver is always a treat for me.  I love roaming around, looking for the new, and finding myself happy to see places that have not changed.  Look, there’s the Wonder Bread factory!  I can see the School of Mines “M!”  Oh my goodness, there’s the castle!  All of it brings back a flood of welcome memories and new ideas about the place that was once home.  

This is Paris on the Platte, my absolute favorite coffee shop in Denver.  I first went with friends on my sixteenth birthday – what a joyous discovery.  I spent many a late night – chatting, laughing, playing cards.  There are some changes, but it’s heart remains the same - the checkerboard ceiling, the useless smokeeter, bread boards piled with savory goodness.   I am sipping a regular-old iced coffee here, but back in those early days, it was a Cafe Jacques with cinnamon and a slice of orange on top (no longer on the menu), with an occasional clove cigarette on the side.  I will say, no matter the drink, the company’s always been divine.

 

 

Back when the Wynkoop was one of the few “civilized” outposts in lower downtown (LoDo), I loved wandering the abandoned streets, particularly when I came upon Union Station and beautifully tiled buildings like these.  They don’t make ‘em like this anymore!

In college, The Market was my favorite hangout.  I could cross Auraria Parkway, and mosey down Larimer to grab a slice of quiche, a sweet, and an occasional coffee.  It really looks exactly the same.  The striped awning, the faded sign, the old-fashioned cases filled with cakes and deli selections, right down to the bright young faces behind the counters.  I’ll bet some of them are just as surly, too!

 

Sunset over the Flatirons.  In our restless teenage years, my friend Dionne and I used to drive this road in her Dodge Colt, at this very time of day.  We’d listen to KBCO on the AM dial, the signal fading with the light.  When it went silent, the sound of our voices and the soft rumble of the engine filled the air in the most pleasant fashion. 

Memories – all of them good.

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Before fear, I rode headlong into life,

Full of joy and wonder,

Summer blonde hair whipping wildly in the breeze.

Before fear, my feet were bare,

Burning on the hot summer pavement,

Brown with dirt and sun.

Before fear, I leaped and jumped,

Legs straining, stretching to make my mark,

With vitality and energy.

Before fear, my laughter was everywhere,

Ringing in the air,

Singing in my heart.

Before fear, I was always myself,

Not wondering who or what to be.

What will this crowd think of me?

Before fear, I did not think of it,

I just was,

Every moment of every day.

Now as I return, I move with hope as I pray.

Colleen Sohn

 

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I believe one of the greatest privileges I have been given as a consumer is to meet with the people who have made or grown what I am purchasing.  I love talking with tradespeople of all kinds: farmers, designers, painters, potters, and jewelers.  They all have such interesting lives and passions, and it is a pleasure to share a moment with them, speaking earnestly about what it is they do.  It gives the purchase a certain weight and reverence.

I feel particularly lucky to have met with the artisans responsible for the creation of jewelry and pottery purchased on our trip.  This is Marie Moquino, of the Santo Domingo Pueblo.  She and her husband Tom, set out their wares at Ojo Caliente.  I bought the bracelet she is stringing in the photo and a beautiful gaspeite and onyx necklace.  I asked her if I could take a picture of her working, and thankfully, she agreed.  We learned that she and her husband have lived in New Mexico, as she says, “For life.”  Kind and peaceful, we talked about their travels to various Pow-Wows around the west, relatives in Oregon, and the fact that they’ve been married for forty-nine years.  I hope to make this milestone with the joy they possessed.

We also got lucky and ran into the man responsible for making the summer owl we purchased on our last visit, and then bought its counterpart, the winter owl.  He explained that there are only two owls, despite there being four seasons.  This is representative of his people and the union of opposites.  What is even more interesting is that we bought the summer owl on the opposite side of the plaza – talk about balance and union!

Here is some of the adobe architecture I love so much, but please don’t ask me why.  I really can’t say.  I just like it.  This and the above photo are the Church of San Felipe in Albuquerque.  This building was constructed in 1793 and is still going strong.  I wonder how long our little house will last?

Finally, the return to Denver.  This was my eastern view of New Mexico.  Goodbye gorgeous!

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As part of our trip east, we drove (rather Gregory did) my grandparents to New Mexico so they could visit with my grandpa’s older sister Shirley.  They spent three days together in Albuquerque while we were gallivanting around Santa Fe and Ojo Caliente.  We met up on the final leg of their Albuquerque journey, and got to see Shirley, too.  I had only met her once when I was very little, and actually have no recollection of her, just her house.  It was far from the hotel where we stayed and had a lot of wood paneling.  Aren’t memories funny?  

I think my grandma jinxed this picture.  They were both smiling nicely and looking at the camera, when she exclaimed, “I never take a good picture!”  Well, whaddya know, it is a little blurry, and neither one of them is looking in the same direction.  They both look happy, though.  That is what really counts. 

Look at this handsome couple: my Mom and Daddy, high school sweehearts that will be married for forty years in September!

Here we are, all together – the infamous Sohn family.  We all look so happy because we ate dinner together for the first time since, jeez, I don’t know.  It didn’t hurt that our bellies were filled with Daddy’s yummy green chile.  Food IS love sometimes, especially when it is Mexican.  Left to right, Aaron (the baby), Colleen (number two daughter), Mom, Daddy, Lara (number one daughter), and Chris (right after me).  It is a good picture.  I’ll bet my mom gets misty when she looks at it. 

My adorable nephews – they are Lara’s boys, though not for much longer.  Chaz, on the left, is sixteen!  Jett is nine!  That makes me feel much older than I look, I hope. 

A little background – this is the yard where I grew up.  It is rather large, and full of fun places for hiding and adventure.  The boys are sitting on and we are standing in front of one of a series of rocks that divide the upper and lower parts.  When we were little, we used to have so much fun racing, jumping from rock to rock.  I tried it again this time, but, even with longer legs, I’m not as fast as I once was.  I think a fear of falling has something to do with it.  I find it amazing to think of all I was capable of doing before fear came into the picture.  I think I’ll post more about that later…

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