Tuesday, April 22, 2008

4/19/08 Passover in Denver

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I returned to the RV after dropping Sarah off at the airport; Dave and I got ready to move and went to the new campground. Cherry Creek State Park was lovely -- we parked next to a meadow and began enjoying the lovely 70 degree weather. In Denver, they say if you don’t like the weather, wait two hours and it will be different. It’s hard to believe that it was snowing the day before!

Dave and I met up with Osi and Selma Sladek, friends from the JCC in Orange County. Selma and I used to be inseparable at the JCC – she staffed the Adult Education and Cultural Arts Department and I loved to volunteer with her events taking tickets at the door, planning book fairs, then chairing events and eventually committees. Selma convinced me to accept the JCC’s offer of a Vice President portfolio, so we worked together daily. They were the days I enjoyed the most at the JCC, before I ever thought of being President and years before the $65 million dollar campus project. Dave was in the preschool; Sarah was in a backpack or playing under the table at committee meetings and I loved my friends on the committees and the excitement of learning about Judaism. They were golden days.

Selma and Osi retired to Denver and Dave and I were going to join their family for the first night of Passover. The night before, we met up with Selma and Osi at a Chinese restaurant. Osi used to teach Dave music at Congregation B’nai Israel, so he was surprised by Dave’s height, head full of curly hair, and outgoing personality. (He read two books at dinner, so apparently some things are still the same, Dave used to read through Hebrew School too.) My head full of curly gray hair was a surprise too. Selma remembers when I started dying my hair to cover the white blaze in my early 30’s.

For Selma and I, it was as if no time had passed. She is just as beautiful as ever – she hasn’t changed a bit. She remembered my book addiction – and brought me two books from author’s she is considering using for this year’s book fair. Plus she brought me a CD filled with her original piano compositions. Wow -- The CD is fantastic!

Passover was a delight. It was a special treat because one of the first events I ever did with Selma was teaching a class on how to make Passover -- I still use many of her recipes that we handed out to the attendees. I got to meet two of their four children and five grandchildren.

Osi lead the service with his wonderful singing voice – not too long, but all the important parts. Selma, her daughter and daughter-in-law put together a spread that was delicious: matzah ball soup, apricot Cornish game hens, brisket, carrot kugel to die for, chopped liver and the best charoset I’ve ever had. When we were all completely stuffed, they brought out plate after plate of desserts. When we left, Dave and I were shocked to realize it was 11:45. We’d had such a good time; we never looked at the clock.

Passover with the Sladek's

Attending the Seder were four of Selma and Osi’s beautiful teenage granddaughters. Not just “nice Jewish girls,” but gorgeous young women, two younger and two older than Dave. After dinner, Dave did his best to make small talk with Alanna. It was sweet to watch him be tongue-tied, stumble over his words, lose his train of thought, try to find websites and books in common, and attempt conversation on the origins of conflict in the Middle East. She is more a listener than a talker, but there was hardly any room for her to get a word in… Did I mention she was beautiful? With incredible bravery, he asked her for her email. Almost 18, she could have blown him off at any time. I was so proud of Dave’s willingness to put himself out there and so taken by the gentleness, charm and graciousness that she showed to him. And yes, she gave him her email address.

The beautiful weather continued and Dave and I explored Denver. Ron, Selma’s son who specializes in historical sites, was full of good ideas and planted the idea of seeing the Denver Mint. The Mint was established 100 years ago, in 1906 and produced 167,371,035 coins the first year. Now they manufacture all the denominations of circulating coins, coin dies and they Denver “D” portion of the uncirculated coin sets and commemorative coins. Today, they make 50 million coins a day.

Denver Slide Show

We were lucky to get a “walk up” space for the tour – they had been full for reservations for several weeks. Dave and I got excited about the state quarters all over again – we had given up his collection when he started the RV trip because the portfolio was too big. We purchased an 8x10 portfolio at the gift shop and are committed to checking all the laundry quarters until we fill up the book. In our change in the RV we had 20 different state quarters, so we are on our way to filling up the book. I got the brand new “New Mexico Quarter” for my friend Sandra Dodd from Albuquerque who sent me a wickedly funny quarter joke a few weeks ago.

We got to see the Court House and the State Capital Building and the park between the two. I talked to one of the gardeners about the pink flowered trees – a type of crab apples – and they are busy getting the flower beds ready for next month’s planting of 30,000 flowers. I wish we could see that…

Dave and I walked along the one mile 16th Street Mall, a road closed off to cars, only the alternative fuel buses are allowed, and enjoyed a leisurely walk to our lunch at the Rock Bottom Brewery. I had thought they had pool tables, but they did have an outdoor patio. We sat outside, enjoyed great food, Dave read a local paper, we discussed graffiti as art; Section 8 housing and watched the world go by.

Then we drove to Golden, Colorado to the Coors Beer Tour. Coors is the world’s fifth-largest brewing company, and their facility in Golden, Colorado is the world’s largest on a single site. Coors also makes the UK’s most popular brew, Carling, which surprised me. Founded in 1873, they made it through prohibition by diversifying into malted milk and ceramics. There was exhibits featuring their early products and packaging; you just don’t expect the Coors logo on a malted milk package!

Early in the tour they have bins full of hops, barley, corn and wheat. After sniffing the fragrant hops, my nose started to run. By the time we got into the fermenting area, I was feeling wheezy. Everything smelled wonderful, but it was very obvious that I was allergic to one of the ingredients in beer production.

At the end of the tour, Coors gives you your choice of three glasses to sample. I’m not much of a beer drinker, so I asked for a half glass of their Blue Moon Belgium White and then I tried pineapple-flavored Zuma. I like the first one well enough, but couldn’t take more than a couple tastes of the other. I guess it shows how little I like beer, when I won’t even drink it if it is free…

The next morning Selma and Osi came to the RV for brunch and to see Mayim. After breakfast Dave and Osi went for a walk and Selma told me romantic story about a blind date, a whirlwind courtship and their elopement. It was right out of a movie! Selma helped me close up the RV, so when the guys got back from their walk, we hooked up the tow car and headed toward Nebraska. It was great having them over and the perfect end to our visit to Denver.

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