Tag Archives: community

Local Love – Finding My “Places”

Not to get all “80s TV Show” on you (and really show my age) or anything, but makin’ your way in the world today really does take everything ya got.
Having places of refuge, where you feel truly welcome and wanted can make a crap day (ahem, or week… or month,) feel just a little less awful.

Some times you wanna NEED to go where everybody knows your name.

When we left the city almost 4 years ago (4 YEARS!! WOW… did you think I would make it!?) it was one of the things I worried about most.  Where would I go, in the spread of the ‘burbs and all of those strip malls and chain restaurants?  It wouldn’t be like our little corner of the city, with my sushi bar and coffee shop just down the block: and my beloved little pizzeria/ wine bar just around the corner waiting to pull me in after a tough day and feed me  flatbread with olive tapenade and Rose and make it all better.

Where would we go when The Mr traveled for work?  Who would be as happy to see Jr and I toddling through the front door for dinner as the waitresses and chefs at our little sushi place? His baby self giggled and flirted as they passed him around, making googly eyes and feeding him little bits of things while I ate my miso soup, piping hot. (Hot food/drink = the ultimate mommy treat.)

Those neighborhood places are, quite literally, the center of the world in this mama’s heart.  What would I do without that?

Oh Keri-from-four-years-go….  you need not worry at all.

It is true, it took a while.  There were some false starts with places where the love affair ended when it had hardly begun.

Then came our discovery of the awesomeness that is Big Choice Brewing, a truly spectacular mix of spectacular beer brewed and sold by equally spectacular people. I never miss a chance to gush shamelessly sing their praises, and it instantly rose to the top of my list of places I want to go to celebrate or commiserate the ups and downs of life.

Slowly… slowly, I started to find my places here. A couple good coffee shops not too far away,  a great sushi joint from the city that opened a second location within walking distance from The Casa, a little diner where the waitresses call you “honey” and freaking ADORE my kid.

Then, just a few months ago, the cherry on top of my sundae of local hangouts came into being.  A perfect combo of great creative chef-driven pub food, a rotating craft beer list, really cool “Colorado Casual” decor, and a bookshelf full of games that keeps Jr excited to go back again and again.  It is the joy and beauty that is  The North Side Tavern.

Much like Keri does whenever something new is opening in this town, I was practically beating down the door to come in when they opened.  The location was sorely in need of a “something for everyone” kind of place, with great local personality to make it stand out.

BOOM – NST delivered.

The bar includes ample  electric outlets with both traditional plugs and USB spaces, and the owner Steve is all too happy to see you using them (as I frequently do during a working lunch when I get stir-crazy working at home.) Current favorites for me are the “construction zone burger” (so you can build your own,) the Colorado Cuban, and the traditional wings.  The crispy Brussels sprouts and naked nachos both call to me after a long day as well.

There are good happy hour specials on both drinks and appetizers, and a kids’ menu that Jr loves –  their chicken tenders are like preschooler catnip.    Andplusalso,  we lobbied to get get them to offer BBQ sauce, because it is Jr’s current favorite condiment, and TAH DAH – they did!! (No more tiny Tupperware of BBQ in this momma’s purse!!)

It has quickly become a true gathering place for the neighborhoods around it – a place where Gina or Anthony behind the bar will greet you by name when you walk in for happy hour or dinner with the family.

At night after the littles clear out to get tucked in, The NST hosts local bands on weekends, with the coming acts available on their website.

It’s been a minute (or a year) since I’ve done a Local Love feature here, and it hasn’t been for lack of the love.  Quite the opposite. I have found so very much to love, indeed.

So I have added a Local Love tab on the top menu – if you find yourself here in the perfectly in between spot between Denver and Boulder, for a visit or as a fellow resident, check out some of my favorite spots around the area.

Of course, I am always itching to try something new and wonderful – so if you know the area please do give a shout out to your faves down below, or in the comments on the Local Love page so we can all enjoy.

Finding “your places” where you live means so much more than just knowing who has the best burger or latte (although that never hurts.)  It is finding what speaks to you in a place – what connects you, and grounds you.  It’s finding the people and places that make you proud to call it your home.






Leave a comment

Filed under Local Love

Easy there, Cheer Bear.

I have a confession to make.

It dawned on me some time in August, but I haven’t even allowed myself to get all the way through the full thought of it, LET ALONE actually speak it out loud and bring the being of it forth into concrete reality.

I am happy here.

Deliriously, disgustingly, and freakishly so – if not really totally and completely so. (Did that sound like the Lollipop Guild should be singing it? Because I went right to “Lollipop Guild” in my head. Which sort of fits perfectly.  Quelle horreur.)

Just BAM!  There I am, in whatever store or restaurant or brewery or WHEREVER, walking around, greeting everyone and catching up and smiling and waving  and whistling the theme to the Andy Griffith show and shit. (Just kidding, I can’t whistle.  But when I see myself in my head acting like I find myself acting, I totally see me whistling that, so I am going with it.)  If I saw me on the street, I would probably want to trip me, to be honest – at this point my “rah rah hometownieness” is kind of gross.

A few weeks ago while looking through some old things with my parents’ in there basement, I stumbled on this:

My sister and I each got one the year the city celebrated their silver anniversary.

My family has a brick in the library sidewalk with the date we moved here and our name engraved into the face. BUT we still call it “the new library,” since some of my fondest memories are of trips to the children’s library in the basement of the little building over in the back of the Garden Center in the old heart of the city.

The American flag we fly outside our home is one that was used in a local memorial to honor the victims of the attacks on 9/11/2001 – my parents got one for each of us.

I have a history here, and I see it connecting to my present.

This weekend is the big annual festival, and I am comically excited to go, and to take Jr and enjoy seeing friendly faces, from past and present, and watch the parade and see the local vendors (and drink some local beers,) and just take it all in with him.  It was always a highlight for me growing up here, and now it will be for him too.  I can’t wait.  Andplusalso –  the event that I feel actually flipped the switch and started me down this road to embarrassing levels of love for my current situation is actually coming up again at the end of the month. When my editor asked if I would like to go again, there was BEYOND zero hesitation; I could not get the “hell yes!” response email sent fast enough.  MAKE ROOM IN THE MINIVAN, fellow mega-subdivision ladies, we goin’ OUT!!  WOOP WOOP!! (Whoa no.)


If you see a unicorn pooing out a rainbow traveling north west away from the Valley Highway, it is probably headed over to siphon some of the happiness overload off of me to recharge.  (Seriously, if you know me at all by now, you know I am cringing at my own damn self, so you can join in – I totally get it.)

Maybe they spike the water out here with something.

Not sure – and can’t stop to lament now – it’s food truck night in the ‘hood, and I wouldn’t want to miss seeing everyone and joining in.  Gah – I am so gross.



Filed under musing

Old. As. Dirt.

This just in, I am ancient.

No really – I am officially an old lady.

I made the horrifying realization today on my way home after Jr’s parent/teacher conference (during which his teacher said he was totally ready for Kindergarten, which sounded like “and he is leaving for college tomorrow” in my ears, so I was feeling the passing of time pretty deeply already.)

2 things happened within the span of maybe one mile that confirmed my lame-old-mom status:

I recently cut the cord with my SIRIUS subscription, so I am kind of a station flipper of late, trying to figure out what stations play what I like.  I flipped to a song a love and was singing my heart out driving down the road, enjoying the sun FINALLY being out after days (and days) of rain (and snow.) Awesome!! The song ended and the station identification came on – KOOL 105.

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. It was THE OLDIES STATION. The one we used to beg my dad to turn off when we were young because it was SOOOOOOO lame.

Translation – I am now, SOOOO lame.

At almost the exact moment that this terrible understanding was washing over me, I glanced in my rearview mirror and noticed that there was a little black sedan attempting to climb into my back seat. At least that appeared to be what the driver was doing, because the car was so close to the back of me I could see the freckles on the teenage girl’s face as she drove. I looked down to see if (like old ladies do,) I was driving abnormally slow. Nope, 3 miles an hour over the posted limit, totally reasonable.

I glared in my mirror and maintained my speed, not to be pushed into speeding by her presence. She continued to maintain her ridiculously small following distance, senior hat tassle swinging off her review mirror, until the car next to me (also driving normal speed,) turned into a subdivision.   Then she blew by me before swinging back into my lane and into the same turn lane I was heading for. She was going to the high school.

Something SNAPPED – my inner little old lady was shaking her cane over her head on the lawn of my mind and shouting “YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!” I embraced my ancientness.

I snapped a pic of her plate number as we sat in the turn lane. Her eyes shot lightning bolts in her rearview mirror. The light turned green and she tore away, speeding around the corner and into the school parking lot. I ambled by at the speed recommended for the school zone, tootled on home, and did what lame old ladies do in situations like these: I called the school.

Enjoy your chat with the resource officer, young lady.

(Because that is what lame old ladies call young people. Now seriously, get off my lawn. I will be on the back patio bumping the KOOL 105.)

Leave a comment

Filed under musing

Did NOT see that coming.

I am a monumentally somewhat cynical person. I know this. I accept this.

So when the chance presented itself for me to attend a local fundraiser modeled after Dancing With The Stars (including prominent local figures paired with dance professionals,) I confess my internal dialogue went right to “um, that’s a little hokey, no?”

But it was presented as an opportunity to attend and then write an article about the evening and the foundation the evening benefits; so off I went in the back of my editor’s minivan, not quite knowing what to expect. Whatever I could have expected, it never could have compared to what I actually found – in the event, and in myself because of it.

It didn’t occur to me that I would see people I knew. Which seems ridiculous to say in hindsight – you were raised here, Keri. You know this town. This town knows you.

I’d forgotten. I had lost that; or maybe thought that all of us had lost that in the passing years. In the warm, genuine hugs and smiles and inquiries of wonderfully familiar faces I remembered again.

Sitting in the dark, surrounded by people who so love this place, people I know, children of people I know, I was overtaken by the sense of community. I hadn’t expected it, and It engulfed me like a tidal wave. I lost my breath.

I Could. Not. Stop. Smiling.  I found it (or rather it found me.) That connection I’d been missing since we moved back. The understanding of where I fit. Of belonging to a place. Of being home.

In that moment, in that space, my heart just swelled up, so fast and so completely full , and broke the internal Grinchy meter of my cynicism.


Riding back home in the darkness and drizzle, I looked out that minivan window and suddenly I saw it all again – the bones and the soul of the little hometown I loved so fiercely in my youth. And the good things about what has grown and filled in and taken shape in my absence.

For the first time it didn’t feel like a betrayal to my “Reluctantly Suburban” persona to understand where I fit in the story of my hometown. Or even to be ok with it being my son’s hometown as well.

It didn’t feel like a threat to my love of the city to have a sense of belonging here – not just in my past, but in the present and in our family’s future as well.


Filed under Uncategorized

Pocket Park Politics

I can’t lie – there were some, um, “relationship dynamic challenges”  that occurred in the highrise we called home during the majority of our urban days.

You can’t share that many common amenities (and walls,) and never have even a minor disagreement.  Goodness knows there is always that one busybody who LOVES to tattle on the person using the elevator to move furniture without the fire key; and in the city there is bound to be a group of renter kids who seem hell-bent on having one of their Coors Light bottles end up broken in the bottom of the pool if someone doesn’t parent them into less stupidity (yeah that was me,  because don’t jeopardize my pool time.  Like ever.)

Still I have to say that in spite of the barking dogs, squawking parrots, the  occasional waft of weed in the HVAC vents, the creepy dude who threw weird parties on the 2nd floor that STARTED at like 3am, and all of the other little annoyances that cropped up, most folks remained friendly and sort of just let everyone else live their lives without paying too much attention.

In the ‘burbs?  Not so much.

I have distinct memories of my mom leaning on the chain link fence of our childhood back yard, getting (and giving) the news of the neighborhood with the neighbor lady – which person was ticked at which other person for the dog that was going from yard to yard, impregnating the pedigreed masses of the female pooch population  (it really happened – actually our family dog was one of the puppies produced, but I digress,) or WHATEVER the buzz was up and down the block.

There were clicks, and almost fist-fights, and “I heard the Joneses DYED their lawn” type scandals enough to make it easy to understand exactly how the concept for Desperate Housewives came into being.

So last night when Jr and I drove into the subdivision to find a swarm of Police presence, I confess I was rubbernecking all over the pocket park trying to see what I could see.   I attempted to send The Mr out into the road to see if he could shake down neighbors passing by for the dirt (he was in comfy pants already, and having none of it. Party pooper.)

Then it occurred to me – seeing that kind of thing in our old ‘hood would barely have caused a sideways glance as I passed.  We lived in a nice area, but still, police activity was a normal occurrence there.  I might have popped out on to the patio to get a bird’s eye view of whatever was going down while sipping on my martini or something, but the concept of attempting to figure out what was up would never have crossed my mind.

Meanwhile, back in the present, here is “Suburban Keri” plotting to chase down the paper boy next Thursday at the crack of dawn to get a first look at the Enterprise Police Beat column.

Hell I full on tackled The Mr on the patio last summer to keep him from making any noise and alerting the neighbors arguing over a fence with each other to our eavesdropping presence. In contrast,  patio time in the city always involved a polite “here I am on the other side of that sheet metal wall” cough or throat clear so the guys next door didn’t get TOO romantic on the balcony over their late dinner with me practically sitting at the table with  them.

I can’t really figure out where the shift occurred – it seems like there was just so much EVERYTHING going on in the urban heart of it all, that no one really paid attention to almost anything.  Slow things down a bit in the subdivisions and soccer practices, and everyone kind of expects to have the whole damn scoop all the time.


No time to think about it now, I see my neighbor coming up the walk to get the bouquet the florist left with us in their absence…  going to brew some coffee, dig out the Kahlua, and see what’s up around the loop.

Leave a comment

Filed under musing