Auntie Grace Story. My brown coat.

My Great Aunt Grace is the matriarch of my father’s family.  She’s the last surviving McConnell child, the youngest of a very fun, Irish bunch.  She is my grandmother Elizabeth’s sister.

Aunt Grace is full of stories.  I like to chat with her about once a week to see what she’s up to and almost every time, she ends up telling me a unique piece of her history, my heritage.

Today our discussion included cleaning stuff out of our lives.  She started off by telling me she’s giving many of her LP records to the library for their rummage sale.  Then we both commented on how TV news stations in nearly every large city host coat drives for the needy each autumn.  It seems common.  Stations collect coats at local dry cleaners and the dry cleaners offer their services for free and on a particular weekend, the coats are available to anyone in need, in school gymnasiums and other gathering places.

Aunt Grace grew up in Brooklyn, the only one in her family to do so.  The other, older kids, my Grandma Betty included, grew up in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.  Aunt Grace was most likely a change-of-life baby…or rather, as she imagines, the one her parents got absolutely right.  She stayed single, living with her mother in Bay Ridge.

As we discussed coat drives, she said, “Have I ever told you the story of my brown coat?” I said I didn’t recall, but wanted to hear it.

She started.

Aunt Grace and her mother, Catherine, had a cleaning lady named Mrs. Brown.  One particularly frigid Brooklyn evening, when Aunt Grace arrived home from work, Catherine said to her, “Grace, you’re going to need to get yourself a new brown coat.”

Aunt Grace said, “Mom, I already have a brown coat.”

Catherine said, “No, dear, you don’t.  I gave it to Mrs. Brown today.”

Aunt Grace said she was immediately furious.  ”What!  Why did you give away my coat?”

Catherine said, “Because you have a blue one, a black one, and a red one in the closet already.  Besides, would you believe Mrs. Brown came here today with nothing but a light jacket over her clothes?  You can get another brown coat.”

Aunt Grace continued her sour streak and snapped, “Well, if you gave her the coat I hope you gave her one of my purses to match!”

And Catherine said, “Oh yes, dear, I’m so glad you mentioned it.  I did.”

#apartmenttherapy, oh no you didn’t.

I was surprised when I saw this article posted on Apartment Therapy early this week.

The post is titled Making it Work: Working From Home With Kids.  Immediately, I found the headline a bit of a paradox.  I think we can all agree it takes oodles of work to keep a household running while wrangling children.  And because of this I think it impossible to hold a full-time 40+ hour-a-week job along with acting as primary caregiver.  In fact, where I work, I have signed an agreement saying I am NOT a primary caregiver to anyone when I’m working from home.  I have also agreed that my work remains seamless whether working in or out of the office.

After reading the article a few times, I came to understand the writer may imply she’s not working a traditional job that’s even close to full-time hours, but she never actually says what job she’s doing or how many hours a week she’s expected to put in or if it’s on a project-by-project basis.

To have a headline like Making it Work: Working From Home With Kids, and then follow it up with this photo gave me the willies.  Look at this woman in the photo.  She’s got a glass of wine and a bowl of berries in front of her.  And she’s wearing a lovely afternoon cocktail dress.  She’s working?  It looks more like she’s pinning images onto boards called “Suzy’s 5th Birthday Party” or “Backyard Inspiration” or watching The Mindy Project on Hulu.  Thank goodness Apartment Therapy explains at the end of the post that this image is actually extracted from a house tour photo session with a gal named Jamie posted a while back on their site.  I feel like a more appropriate image could have been chosen.


This is also the kind of post that teeters dangerously on the edge of understanding what work from home actually looks like or is like.

Case in point, my husband was psyched when I became mobile (working away from the office, at home, generally) one day a week.  He said to me,  ”This is going to be great when we have kids.”

Why exactly?

“I mean, you can be at home when the baby is little and take care of her while you work.”

Oh man.  I had to reel him in.  I explained that when I’m working at home, I have the very same load I have at the office and while I may be dressed differently (hey, sweatpants!), I am still busy all day.  I don’t have time to change a nappy or warm a bottle or entertain a toddler.  I hope this made sense to him.  I think it did.

Making it Work: Working From Home With Kids?  I don’t think so.

Apartment Therapy received quite a few comments from other readers on the topic.  Read on!

Why we will most probably NEVER get a dog.

We sit regularly for a darling golden doodle named Ollie.  You’ve probably met him through other posts.  He’s a really charming, sweet pup.


We took him this past Friday when his owner, our neighbor, went away for the weekend.

Friday was spectacular.  Since Ollie is spoiled at home by his momma, we let him do the same things at our house – sleep in bed with us, curl up on the sofa, eat extra treats.  He returns love to us in the form of looking cute, snuggling and licking our feet.

Saturday was great too.  We left Ollie home while we ran errands from 8:30 until two in the afternoon.  We walked him, he did his business, and was fabulous.

Sunday morning, our nephew came over so we could all go skiing.  We made sure Ollie did his business in the morning and we walked him.  We were gone seven hours.

When we arrived home, I notice something smelled a bit off in the apartment.  The boys started unpacking the ski stuff and I immediately took Ollie for a walk.  He did not finish his business.  It was suspicious.  After returning with Ollie, there was a knock at our door.  It was my normally thoughtful neighbor who lives down the hall.

“Hello!” I said as I opened the door.

“A word of advice,” she started.  I knew this could not be good.  ”When Ollie is staying with you and you leave for the entire day, you should put him back in his own apartment.  He’s unfamiliar with your place and he whined all afternoon.  It was terrible.  I talked to D [who lives next door to us] about it and he agreed it was awful.”

I was taken aback, of course, as she was rather harsh, I thought.  I apologized, closed the door and when I rounded the corner back into the living room, I noticed Ollie vomit on the wood floor near the sofa.

I yelled for C and then saw a second clump of vomit near the dining room table.  I continued to smart from my conversation with our neighbor as the vomit was graciously cleaned up by C.  I sent our nephew on the hunt for other former bits of Ollie that could have been deposited around the apartment.  I was certain there was more.

Sure enough, we were alerted to two piles of scat on the carpet in the bedroom and one large dried patch of urine that had bubbled the antique Iranian rug on loan from my mother-in-law.  My heart about broke in two.

Ollie had followed us into the bedroom and then looked at us and down at the scat on the carpet.  I asked him if he was okay.  Was he sick?  Was he mad at us?  No response.  He turned around and left the room.

C went out to buy some Nature’s Miracle, which we were told was the best, for this sort of situation.  [Side note:  Grocery chains King Soopers and Safeway do not stock Nature's Miracle.  C drove all over town looking for it.]

While C was out, I went next door to apologize and was met with the same cool attitude I got from our first neighbor.  He said he didn’t care about the whining, he just felt bad for the dog.  I wish I had been calm enough to tell him the dog was sick and would’ve whined whether he was at home or at our place.  I wish I could have told him we were doing penance for the whining that disturbed him.

Monday I had the day off from work.  My first order of business was putting Ollie back at his momma’s apartment while I met my coffee date at 9.  I dropped the rug off for cleaning at 10.  The first thing the rug guy said when he saw the damage was, “Wow…this is a really nice rug.  Where did you get it?”  Sigh.

When I came home at 10:20 I took Ollie out immediately. Though he’d eaten his meal the night before, he still hadn’t completed his business.  Five more times during the day I took the dog outside for extra long walks around the block.   I felt a prisoner to him and dared not leave him alone for a second.  Ollie seemed in good spirits, however, and did a good amount of cuddling.  I baked cookies and he was underfoot the entire time.

Finally, I took Ollie out before C got home in a final attempt to make sure he was empty before his owner was home at 8:30.  C and I had plans to be out for dinner.

After a jaunt in the park including a short run, Ollie seemed worn out, but still had not completed his daily constitutional.  I let the leash loose and had him run in the open space off the park’s concrete walks.  Almost immediately, he laid down in the dry grass and started rolling and shoving his head into the ground.  I yanked him up by the collar but it was too late.  Hundreds, maybe thousands of splinter-sized dry grass clippings were stuck in his curly cue fur.  I attempted to brush them off but to no avail.  There was no way around it.  Ollie needed a bath.

On our way back to our building, Ollie stopped and sniffed at a tree.  I told him that we were not stopping again unless he was going to finish his business.  Sure enough, he met my eyes and completed the task.

I spent an hour giving him a bath.  He refused to shake off in the tub, so did it instead in the bathroom.  Mud and grass coated the tub and the walls of the room by the time I put the dear doodle back in his own apartment.  I took a shower in our other bathroom and by the time C came home I hugged him tight, whimpering, “wine.”

Having a day to contemplate the ordeal I’m already convincing myself it’s not nearly as terrible as I thought it was.  Isn’t that just the way it is when you love someone or something or some place?  If you experience less than sunshine, it tends to fade quickly and that overwhelming love comes back.

After work yesterday I told Ollie’s momma everything that happened just so she’d know he got sick in the house and why he smelled like Herbal Essences shampoo.  She said he was fine and so happy.  The entire time I was reiterating the story, Ollie was licking my hand and leaning against my leg.

I so love that dog.

Make way.

I had a very heavy heart last Thursday morning when C called me to tell me “the fences are up.”  One block from where we live some beautiful old buildings are being torn down.  They will be replaced with this.

Residences-at-the-Gardens-Nov-2012-RenderingI will tell you right now, imagining this large, wide, flat building in our neighborhood breaks my heart.  But see that building just beyond the new rendering above–the high rise?  I looked at living there.  Heck, even the building I currently call home a block from this location is just as architecturally-bland and jarring as the proposed Residences at the Gardens.  But I like to think we’ve learned some lessons in urban neighborhood design since my building was erected in 1959, when Cheesman Park’s lovely Denver Squares and colonial-style homes were threatened by high rises to make way for city dwellers who wanted a doable walk or ride into downtown but a home on the park.

As Denver’s population continues to grow, so does the desire to live along the city parks, parks like Cheesman.  Vine Street between 11th and 12th looks like this.


And to the east of these homes, some quiet, unassuming apartment buildings.  As of now, not long for the world.




In the summer, lovely, thick vines grow over the red bricks and the street is quiet and shady.

I adore the intricate details like terracotta shingles and back terraces over the garages on the alley.  It is all very quaint and Parisian.


The details on the side entrance of 2120 Vine.  Swoon.




And the neighborhood changes, once again.


A peaceful storm.

We’ve had a quiet winter so far in Mile High–some snow in the mountains (more falling right now) but very little in the city.  I love a good, hearty snow day, particularly when it comes on a weekend when you can hunker down in front of a wood stove with soup and a cup of tea.

This weekend, my parents were lucky enough to get some snow in New York, thanks to that gigantic Northeast Nemo.  Not too many inches, just enough to be peaceful and white.

These are some photos sent from my momma yesterday.

This is their side yard.

NY1White on white.  I love the way the tree branches cast afternoon shadows on that brilliant sugar dust.

NY2And darling Miles, contemplating a pounce onto the deck.  He would ultimately decide it too chilly.  Smart kitty.



Yo. Homie.

I came across these awesome tee shirts on a Saturday afternoon at while I was wondering what was going on in Eastern Standard Time.

Feeling homesick or know someone who is?  Snatch one of these up and send a care package.

The best part about buying one or ten of these cute tees?  Part of proceeds go to Multiple Sclerosis research.

Be cute.  Do good.


That little period at the end of the “home” on this New York tee shirt is placed just about where I spent my formative years.

Colorado just looks like a big rectangle, unfortunately, thanks to its days as a U. S. territory.  This shirt may need some explanation to passersby if they’re unfamiliar with American geography.


The next tee probably doesn’t need a whole lot of ‘splainin.’  There are a lot of other countries to choose from too.  It’s fun to browse.




Twelve 2012 Instagram Faves.

I got an iPhone for my birthday last year from C and for the past several months, I’ve taken over 1,800 photos with it.  I imagine that’s many, many more calls than I’ve made and received.  I think the first app I downloaded was Instagram.  I’ve had a fun time with it.

You hear a lot these days about digital photos never leaving the gallery and staying on a disk or in a server for the rest of time.  Below are some of my favorite photos enhanced by Instagram taken in 2012–shared now, with all of you.

Instagram11. Western skies on a pretty spring afternoon in Lakewood.



2. Brudder love on the Lake.



3. A special birthday morning.



4. It became very real we were getting married when Tiffany started arriving on Vine Street.



5. This darling tiger kitty is my favorite.  He gets a lot of love from Momma and Dad.



6. The most magical place.  When I need a time out, I close my eyes and think of the smell of the forest and the lake.



7. What a muse.  More of the same special place.


Instagram78. One happy camper on a Sunday morning in the Rockies.


Instagram89. Labor Day wool winners at the Columbia County Fair in Chatham.



10. Already pining for the Atlantic at the SeaCrest Beach Hotel.



11. First time at a Big Boy in Oh-hi-oh on our way home from R and J’s lovely wedding!



12. Charlie Brown’s.  Where it all started for me and C.  We love this place.


Because we are silly and tomorrow is Saturday.

UClubSwank!One of us still has his ‘Africa Beard.’  I’m semi attached to it.

This photo is from last Saturday night at the University Club.  Lisa and Stan invited us as guests and it was fun!  We got to dress up and I wore some of Grandma Betty’s rhinestones.

This weekend we’re taking it easy and have only one date on the calendar.  That makes me happy.

In the meantime, here are some fun things for you.

For tomorrow morning, a pancake recipe from Ree Drummond.  It may be a little more work than you usually put into a pancake, but let me tell you, it’s worth the effort.

And after you’ve had your carbs, spend 30 minutes organizing your medicine cabinet.  Easy cheesy.  Then get on with your day.

Be sure to bring some of this awesome guacamole to wherever you’re going to watch the Superbowl…even if it’s just your own living room.  C swears by it.

Cheers to the weekend!