McAllister House

We’re still settling into our new house, putting up curtain rods, painting, stuff like that. But we decided to take a break and see something local.

The McAllister House was built in 1873, at a time when all the houses in Colorado Springs were thrown-together shacks. Henry McAllister was a Quaker from Pennsylvania who worked in the iron and steel industry. During the Civil War, he served in a cavalry scouting unit under General William Jackson Palmer, the founder and promoter of Colorado Springs. Palmer asked him to come out here with his wife Elizabeth and son to help with the organizing and promoting of the resort city. The couple had two daughters and remained active in city politics until Henry’s death in 1921.

For the next 30 years, the house was rented to a woman who used it as a candy shop. When she died in 1958, the house was in danger of being torn down for a parking lot when the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America bought it and turned it into a museum.

There was another couple on our tour. Our very pregnant guide was well-informed and pleasant. 

The bench on the left surrounds the stump of an apple tree. It was the final survivor from Henry’s orchard until it was destroyed during a wind storm in January of this year.

Even though the McAllisters were part of the social in-crowd, their Quaker beliefs led them to life a simple life in a small home. Henry had an office in the house, where he received visitors.

The fireplace is designed to look like an arch with a keystone in honor of Pennsylvania, the “Keystone State” where Henry was from.

There were several pieces of original furniture in the house. The McAllister’s youngest daughter was still alive when the museum was established, and she visited several times. 

Two views of the living room.

The master bedroom. There was a servant’s apartment upstairs where a live-in maid lived. It has since been turned into a bathroom.

The dining room.

We’ve toured dozens of old houses, and they all tend to blend together. But this one had some unique features, carved doorways, ornamental framing around an outside window that formed a bench, the keystone fireplaces. We decided it was well worth the visit.

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Labor Day Balloon Festival

We got up early, drove to Memorial Park and took a slow stroll around the lake while watching this.

Apparently it’s a thing to make the basket hit the water. Several didn’t try. Some tried but pulled up. Maybe 10 did it, and each time there was applause from the spectators. Some dipped once, then lifted and sailed off. Others dragged for quite a ways. 

The weather, in every way, could not have been better. We’ll probably make an annual tradition of this.

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Colorado Springs Sky Sox vs. Memphis Redbirds

Let’s review. We had tickets to a Sky Sox vs. Iowa Cubs game earlier in the season. It was cancelled due to rain. I traded our rain checks for tickets to a double-header against Iowa the next night. Both games were cancelled due to field conditions. We now had rain checks for two games. We finally saw one on July 28. Then we moved and were busy unpacking and all. I finally cashed the other ticket in for a game during the final weekend of the season. 

The Memphis Redbirds, AAA team of the St. Louis Cardinals, were in town. Aledmys Diaz, who played short for Memphis, was a hot-shot rookie for the big league team last season but has been in the minors most of this. He made some great plays on defense, but did nothing with the bat.

Our seats were down close to the field, just up the third-base line.  

Memphis hit two home runs in the first and scored again in the third to go up 3-0. The Sky Sox kept chipping away and ended up winning 4-3 in a rather dull game. The highlight came in the third. Valera, the Memphis 2nd baseman, was on third with no outs. Martini flew out to right on a lazy fly ball. As the right fielder lobbed the ball into the infield, Valera suddenly took off for home and was thrown out easily.

A woman in the next section—she must be a Cardinal fan—had a short string of cowbells hooked over the seat in front of her. Every so often, when Memphis was at bat, she would grab them and shake them for a few seconds. 

A woman in the row in front of us had a young son, a foul mouth, and a New York accent. She was a Mets fan who knew baseball, but she spent 90% of her time taking selfies.

There was a short, but fairly decent fireworks show after the game. 

     

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Colorado State Fair

Of course we had to check out the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo.

We parked in a dirt lot right across from the fair grounds. We were taking our sweet time putting on sun screen and gathering our stuff when we noticed a man in a golf cart waiting to give us a ride to the gate. We piled aboard, and he took off around the outside of the park. Little did we know that this would be the highlight of the day.

At the ticket booth, we found out that Thursday was “Everyone’s a Kid Day.” This meant that we got in for $7 each. It also meant that there was nothing going on this day.  The gate had just opened, and we were among the first people in the park.

A guy walked up to us with a camera and insisted on taking photos of us that we could purchase on our way out. Right. 

We headed to the cattle barn because no state fair is complete without a stroll along the aisles looking at the back end of cows. Except there were only six cows in the entire barn.

The pig and sheep barn was next. This one was completely empty except for one old woman sitting in a lawn chair reading a book.

I had already decided that we’d come on the wrong day and that this fair, at its best, doesn’t compare to those in the Midwest.

The next barn had birds and rabbits. There were about 20 chickens, all on sale. We didn’t buy any. There were also a variety of birds on display as an exhibit, not part of the competition.

There were, however, quite a few rabbits.

So we’d been at the fair for half an hour. We’d already seen all there was to see in all the animal barns. I checked out the schedule and noticed that the Sea Lion Splash Show was at 1:00. We found the place—two swimming pools with a stage in between.

The show lasted about 10 minutes and included some amazing tricks, like sea lions picking plastic bottles out of the water and putting them in the trash. They only successfully completed about half the tricks. Here’s one jumping out of the water for a “nice try” at hitting the ball.

We bought lunch on the nearly empty midway. What crowd there was consisted mostly of people in wheelchairs bused in from several institutions. 

Sally had a chicken kabob. I had corn on the cob and a corn dog.

Not far away, a sorry blue grass band serenaded us with “Do Lord.”

The most interesting part of the fair was the Colorado Agricultural Pavilion which featured animals and crops grown in the state. 

There were two or three buildings with 4-H prize winners. Every item I saw had a ribbon of some sort, and the lowest finish I found was 8th place. We were the only people in a couple of these buildings.

I noticed one cake that read” “But the gift of God is eternal life,” and “Do you know Jesus?” I was hoping the opposite side said, “The wages of sin is death,” because that would have been a great cake. But no such luck.

The crowd was not growing. 

We poked our heads in three or four other buildings—none of which entertained us for long. There was a pretty cool model railroad display in one.

Also, apparently competitive troll-house building is a thing.

One barn was full of booths, selling everything from phone cases, to nuts, to mattresses (who goes to a state fair and comes home with a mattress?), to art. I’ve never in my life been accosted so aggressively so many times in one day. It didn’t matter that we walked down the exact center of the aisle and studiously avoiding making eye contact or pausing. At almost every booth, someone would come out and hand us something or attempt to engage us in conversation. One guy from the phone cover booth stepped in front of me and asked me what type of phone I have. I said, “I’m good.” As I walked away, he called after me—voice dripping with as much sarcasm as he could muster, “Sir, I didn’t question whether or not you were good.” We escaped as quickly as we could.

A stroll through the horse barns, past a Clydesdale named Roger, along an outdoor arena with cowboys taking horses through lazy paces while 11 people looked on, and we were done.

We’d been there all of three hours, seen everything there was to see, and had nowhere to go but home. We stopped at McDonald’s in Pueblo and for ice cream in the Springs, and that was our day. 

On other days, there are rodeos and big named performers like ZZ Top and Skillet. But on this day, the fair was underwhelming.

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Eclipse

The solar eclipse path of totality crossed north of Colorado. In the Springs, it maxed out at 89%. Everyone on staff at CBS wandered out on the patio every so often to see the progress. Marilyn brought plates with screens for us to look through, and her husband brought his telescope. A few people also had eclipse glasses.

Shortly after the moon began its passage across the sun, I tried taking a photo with my phone though one of the plates. The results were less than spectacular.

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Later I tried taking a photo through the scope, and this worked better.

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As time passed, the light became stranger and the shadows lost their definition.

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Maddie set the chair up with her eclipse glasses. In the background, you can see the students from TCA out on the football field and the scoreboard counting down the minutes to maximum coverage.

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This was as good as it got in the Springs.

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It was cool, but I wish I had made the effort to get to where it was total. The next one is in seven years. It crosses central Arkansas, and it’s on my birthday!

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My Sole Journey into Poetry

I’m no poet. But once, for reasons I can’t recall, I was inspired to write a poem—about the 1987 MLB All-Star Game. 

The game went into the 13th inning with no score. The National League finally crossed the plate twice in the top of the inning. In the bottom half, the American League hopes rested on the backs of three players that, at the time, I’d never heard of—Kevin Seitzer (Royals), Pat Tabler (Indians), and Matt Nokes (Tigers). When the game finally ended with a 2-0 National League win, I sat down and wrote this:

It was the last of the thirteenth
They were down by just two
It’s up to Seitzer and Tabler and Nokes

They were the last hope
For the American Crew
They were Seitzer and Tabler and Nokes

And up in the stands
Many voices cried, “Who
Are Seitzer and Tabler and Nokes?”

But there in the spotlight
Among the chosen, the few
Were Seitzer and Tabler and Nokes

In came Fernandez
The crowd gasped as he threw
To Seitzer and Tabler and Nokes

Sid threw four balls to Kevin
Things began to look blue
But not for Seitzer and Tabler and Nokes

But Pat’s efforts were puny
His results were few
Seitzer walked, Tabler choked, now it’s Nokes

With Winfield in deck
Matt knew what to do
Come on Seitzer and Tabler and Nokes!

I’d like to say they were heroes
But when they were through
They were just Seitzer and Tabler and Nokes

Whatever afflicted these three
Caught up with Dave, too
He choked like Seitzer and Tabler and Nokes

Why they were out there
I haven’t a clue
Goodbye Seitzer and Tabler and Nokes

And there you have it—my only attempt at poetry. You’re welcome.

Other players mentioned are Sid Fernandez (Mets) and Dave Winfield (Yankees).

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Pop Crate Shelves

About ten years ago, I had a brilliant idea—collect old wooden pop crates and hang them on a wall to make a giant printers’ drawer-type arrangement. I bought one here and one there, paying about $20 for each. When I had about six of them, I hung them on the wall in the basement of the Cary house and displayed an assortment of Pepsi cans on them. Beth moved home, and I didn’t do anything more with them. But I kept buying one now and again. Mostly I bought Pepsi, but I also bought a Double Cola crate and, for some reason, three 7up crates. 

When we moved to Colorado, I sold off my Pepsi can collection. I debated whether to get rid of the crates too, but after having my vision for so long, I couldn’t do it. I packed them up and put them on the truck.

On our second weekend in the new house, I bought the hardware I needed and put them on the wall in my loft/study.

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It turned out looking every bit as good as I expected. I put the three photos above on Facebook and got a lot of likes. And then I filled them.

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I think I might buy three or four more, but I’m in no rush. 

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Week One

The day finally arrived when we moved out of the Chase’s basement into our own home. We met Michael, our realtor, at the house at 10:00 am for the final walk-through to make sure everything was OK. It was, almost. Sally noticed that one of the basement windows was cracked by the contractors who replaced the window well. (We found out the next day that they also broke a plastic drain pipe on the neighbor’s house.)

It’s a funny time. The house is almost yours but not quite. And it looks more barren than you’ve ever seen it before because the previous occupants finally got all their stuff out. (In our case, the previous occupants were a group of young women who taught at The Classical Academy. The owners bought it as an investment property and never lived here.)

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While the young ladies didn’t trash it and cleaned it well, they made some strange choices. For instance, notice the variety of bulbs in the chandelier in the dining room.

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Michael took us to the mortgage firm and we signed a million papers. The sellers agreed to pay to get the broken window fixed. We also got into a conversation about Lokal, the builders of the townhouse that ripped us off. Turns out they have a reputation. And now the word is getting around to Springs realtors.

We went to Noodles for lunch, then I took Sally back to Chase’s so she could pack and clean. I loaded the car with stuff and headed to the house. I spent the afternoon hanging in the kitchen while a carpet cleaner cleaned all three floors. This was our gift from our realtors, Denise, Nolan, and Michael. (Of course, the carpet got dirty again the next day when the movers marched in and out.) We spent a last night at the Chase’s to give the floor a chance to dry. This has been our home since December.

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On Thursday, Sally dropped me and the cats at the house. ABF told me the truck would arrive between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. I asked if they could narrow that down at all, but the woman said no. So I had to sit around the empty house again. The cats were nervous. Millie wandered around some before finding a hiding place on top of the kitchen cabinets.

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Lucy, however, stayed in her cage in the laundry room all day.

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The street in front of our house is a fire lane. I didn’t figure there was any way we could park a truck out there, especially overnight. I was planning on having it parked on the next cross street, two houses down, and having the movers carry all our stuff along the sidewalk that runs through our backyard. 

The truck driver actually called early and said he’d be there around 10:00. I was outside waiting for him to show him where to park when my neighbor wandered over. His name is Dan, and during the course of our conversation, I mentioned my dilemma with the truck. He said that was ridiculous—he’d left trucks parked in the street overnight and had seen other people do it to. Nobody seemed to care. Minutes later our truck showed up. I had it parked right in front our our house. 

Sally came by shortly after noon with Chick-fil-A for lunch—our first meal in our new home.

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I called the movers, who had been scheduled to arrive sometime between 2:00 and 5:00, depending on when I called to say the truck was there. As it turned out, they arrived at 3:00. Five young guys who set right to work. The foreman was friendly but the others were quiet at first. But by the end of the day, I had struck up conversations with most of them. A sixth guy showed an hour later.  For seven and a half months, I’d been mildly worried about the condition of our belongings in an unprotected truck sitting out in snow and rain and sun with temperatures from 4° to 90°. As I watched our stuff being carried into the house, my worries began to lessen. Everything seemed to be in pretty good shape. (There were a few dings and dents, but nothing was ruined.) 

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The piano was a challenge. It took four of the guys a half hour to get it down the stairs. At one point, at the bottom, I thought it wouldn’t make it around the corner and they’d have to bring it back up. 

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Our old living room couch, which Sally also wanted in the basement, wouldn’t fit through the basement door. There was only one mishap during the move. It was supposed to rain all afternoon and evening, but it held off except for one 10-minute stretch. During that stretch, a bin of my old paperbacks slipped off the stack and spilled out on the street. We gathered them up and I set them out to dry. One or two look a little older, but most of them are fine. I began to feel guilty as I saw the guys carry box after box upstairs. In my last house, I had the books stacked in the basement and then I had to carry them up two flights. This time, I had them all carried upstairs where gravity was in my favor. 

Near the end of the move, one of the guys asked me what I do for a living. I said I was a writer. He said, “Oh, that explains all the books.” I said, “Good, I’m glad something does.” 

They were done by 5:30, and our house looked like this.

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Sally found a couple of mixing bowls and made clam chowder for supper.

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We went back to Chase’s—they said there was no rush, and we believed them, but we wanted to get out of their hair as quickly as possible. But I underestimated how tired I was. As I began to carry boxes to our car, Tim suggested we stage everything upstairs. He, Young, Hannah and Sarah all chipped in and soon everything we had in the basement was in the living room. We made it home with a load. I set up the maple bed in an upstairs bedroom and inflated an air mattress for myself. 

On Friday, we got to work unpacking. This largely consisted of moving boxes so we could get furniture where we wanted it. An ABF cab came by and took the truck that held our stuff for so long.

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The sellers agreed to mud-jack the front stoop, which was slanted downhill. When the crew came and rang the doorbell, I stubbed my toe on a box. It soon turned deep purple, and it was three weeks before I could walk without pain.

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About that time, the Chases showed up with three vehicles packed with ALL the rest of our stuff. This was not part of the plan, but we appreciated it tremendously. We unloaded it all into the mess.

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Sally and I had hoped to paint one wall of our bedroom this day so we could set up our sleep-number bed. That wasn’t good enough for Young and Hannah. They helped Sally paint the entire room.

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While that was going on, Tim set up our computers and got them connected to the Internet. Beth had sent us some Chicago-style pizzas as a housewarming gift, and we enjoyed them with the Chases. When they left, I managed to get our bed set up and we crashed.

Over Saturday and Sunday, we made a lot of progress. Most of the furniture made it to it’s final resting place and we emptied a lot of boxes. Sally got the kitchen unpacked and I put my books in the bookcases. By Monday morning, when I went back to work, the house was functional, but there was still a lot to do.

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Quick Trip to Columbus

We were planning on eating dinner downtown along the river at a restaurant that overlooks the fountain. But when we took a second look at the menu, we decided to go elsewhere. We ended up at Spaghetti Warehouse where there was an interesting building and uninteresting food.

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Our table was in the trolley car where it was warm and sticky.

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When we’d eaten, we went downtown along the river and found out the fountain wasn’t working anyway. We strolled along the Scioto Mile for a bit and remembered what humidity felt like (although by Ohio standards, it wasn’t bad).

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We still had plenty of time before dark, and sitting in our hotel room didn’t seem like all that much fun. I headed to the Columbus Park of Roses, which we visited in May before the roses were in bloom. As we entered the park, I saw a sign announcing free concerts on Sunday nights.

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And that’s how we found ourselves sitting in a large crowd of old people watching a bad high school band play patriotic music. (The snow cones were free.)

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The band played all the armed forces songs while a very old man in a wheelchair behind us sang along. When we’d had all the poorly-played music we wanted, we took a twilight stroll around the gardens. The roses were definitely in bloom this time.

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The next day we had our favorite Ohio food — Skyline Chili.

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We had some time to kill, so we visited an antique mall.

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And then the other Ohio must-have—Graeter’s Ice Cream. I had the black raspberry chocolate-chip. Sally got something else and regretted it.

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Our flight back to Colorado chased the sunset.

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Rock House Ice Cream

We weren’t looking for a meal after eating lunch at Garden of the Gods Market & Cafe, but ice cream sounded good. I decided to try Rock House, which I’ve driven past several times but never stopped at.

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The girls working behind the counter were very friendly. I ordered raspberry with chocolate chips. Sally had rum raisin, but she liked it anyway. We ate on the front patio and looked across the road at Sally’s mountain. My ice cream was a bit too sweet, but I’m not an ice cream snob, so my opinion isn’t significant.

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