Tag Archives: Happy Birthday

Ghost hunting in The Brown Palace

I don’t know if you know this, but I’ve got a damn awesome sister. I hated her in our youthful days; it’s alarming to realize that I now love her so much, I would be willing to chop her into tiny pieces and gobble her up. That’s a compliment, trust me.

Little B and I share birthdays this month. We’re five days and twenty-five years apart. We’ve co-partied for our birthday celebrations before and it’s always good fun but guess what Noelle did this year?

She took B and me to The Brown Palace for a night of ghost-hunting and a day of fancypantness!!

Here’s how it went down.

I go to Denver often enough to know my basic way around so I offered to drive. Noelle and I dressed up because…well, because. I mean, it’s not like either of us get that chance too often. B wore teenage gear because she is sixteen. The point here is that none of us were in shorts and tank tops, ok? Anyhow, my car doesn’t have air conditioning anymore and it was a hot day so we arrived all sweaty and gross. Noelle told me to give the car to the valet. I’m sure he was not glad to hop into our girl-sweat infested vehicle, but he didn’t complain and we didn’t care because we had arrived for our birthday adventure in overheated fashion! Yay!

Noelle, B, and I, sitting outside of The Brown Palace, ready to begin our grand adventure.

We checked in, dropped off our luggage, and B changed into a skirt because we made her. We had some time to kill before our ghost tour and since we were suffering from starvation, we decided to gnosh on appetizers down at the Ship Tavern. Also, Noelle and I enjoyed refreshing adult beverages while B had a Sprite.

It’s on the pointy end of the building.

B’s choice of appetizer

These kept jumping out of the fry cone as the server brought them to our table. It was like they were alive, leaping about, falling to the floor, sprinkling parmesan all around the room. Had Hansel and Gretel had these, they definitely would have been able to follow their trail back home.

This is what was left of the crabcakes by the time I remembered to take pictures. Here’s the dumb thing: we didn’t want to fill up because we were going to have dinner later. So why did we order 3 appetizers? Yeah, we filled up.

Tasty adult beverages

After flinging fries hither and yon, we exited the eatery and waited for our tour guide who turned out to be the actual hotel historian! Her name is Debra. I didn’t take her picture. I don’t know why.

She started by telling us she couldn’t say, “Oh, yeah, we have a whole passel of ghosts in our hotel,” nor could she tell us about anyone who may or may  not have fallen/leapt to their deaths from the 7th floor to the marble atrium below because none of that is allowed. However, she could tell us about “unexplained phenomena” other guests, as well as staff, had experienced while at the Brown Palace.

So we started with a short history of the hotel. It is 121 years old and the only hotel in Denver that has operated continuously for that amount of time. It was owned by the Boettchers for awhile and they’re the reason it didn’t have to close down during the Depression. Yay for smart business decisions!

Now, here’s something I hadn’t known: The hotel gets its water from an artesian well that is around 16 stories deep. People who know about ley lines and ghostly things have said that the well goes deep enough to pass near/on a place of otherwordliness (I am totally paraphrasing all this, by the way) which could be why there are so many instances of “unexplained phenomena” in the ‘ Palace. Of course, as Debra said, this hotel has been in operation 365 days a year for 121 years. The odds are that with that many souls passing through the building, a few are bound to stay.

We visited the former gentleman’s club where one tour group saw a man come from the bathroom only the bathroom was nothing but a wall.

A man walked from this panel and some of the members of that long-ago tour were all like, “Who the hell is that guy? He’s not part of our group. Is he a staff member?” but no one recognized him. Also, they realized much later, that the bathroom from which he’d emerged was actually a wall.

We visited the Presidential Suite and heard about a woman who had owned one of the apartments on the 9th floor, had lived there many years and died there in the arms of her nurse. She had been a cranky thing, according to legend, and in later years, when the hotel took tour groups into her former suite, the front desk’s phone rang, the call coming from her room, yet there was never anyone on the other end. The thing is, at the time, there was no phone in that room because it hadn’t been remodeled as a hotel room yet.

There was also the story of Lizzie. She was not very old when she fell from the 7th floor banister. When she landed on the marble below, she lost consciousness but, according to everyone who had been there at the time (I think in the 20’s or 40’s), she came to and walked it off a little later. There’s more to that story but you can go take the ghost tour, yourself, to find out. Just remember to ask how many people have fallen from the 7th floor.

View from the 7th floor. You can’t see the 8th floor because it’s all walled-in and that is because it sports an art-deco style rather than Victorian.

I didn’t see/feel/hear/experience anything unearthly but Noelle did and B thinks she may have. While we were in the former gentleman’s club (now an event room), Noelle and B felt something cold pass between them. I only felt air conditioning. When we walked down the stairs from the 8th floor to the 7th, Noelle got vertigo. I did, too, but mine came from going from the art-deco-style back down to the very busy, very patterny, somewhat overwhelming Victorian style below. While B and I leaned on the banister rail of the seventh floor, Noelle had to back away because she felt sick. Like, puke-out-her-guts sick. Once we made it to the floor below, she was fine. When we went back up to where she’d felt sick, she was fine. She thinks someone had jumped from there and the leftover trauma made her sick. I blamed the crazy carpet.

You can see how walking down stairs and into this busy-ness could cause vertigo.

Noelle is trying to catch orbs but her camera won’t work right there.

This all goes along with Noelle’s hypersensitivity to anything from other planes and my complete inability to sense things not right in front of me. It’s been this way our whole lives. It used to make me jealous, but now I’m used to it.

After the tour, we ran about, retracing our steps and taking pictures. Then we walked the 16th Street Mall, ate gelato, got henna tattoos, rode the mall shuttle, laughed as B had her tattoo removed by a stumbling homeless man carrying a washboard, went to the Tattered Cover only to find it had closed two minutes before we got there, and finally wound up back in our room where we listened to a wedding party play loud music until midnight.

B gets henna-ed

Noelle gets henna-ed

Moments before the Most Horrific Experience.
It was like this:
We’d just gotten our henna tattoos and were walking along, walking along, getting tired.
We wanted to go to the Tattered Cover but it was so far away.
We got on the mall’s shuttle bus.
Noelle said, “Uh oh, here comes a guy with a washboard”
A man with an enormous backpack, several jackets, dreads, and a beard got on the shuttle, carrying his washboard.
Britt’s eyes got big (She doesn’t see homeless people in her life. They don’t exist where she lives. This was surprising for her)
The man, unstable on his feet, fell into/jostled against her arm, against her new tattoo.
Britt’s face grew horrified. Then she looked at her arm. Her birthday tattoo was gone.
She gave the man a look of evil.
Washboard Man had taken her birthday tattoo.
Britt has decided she is not a fan of homeless people who carry washboards and take off tattoos.
He got off at the next stop.
We laughed at Britt’s terror and indignation.
We did not do a good job at making her a more compassionate person.

This is the tattoo that was scraped off by the shuffling Washboard Man.

The next day, we got to loll about lazily (awesome!!) before getting up and successfully visiting the bookstore. We returned to the hotel and wrapped up the adventure with a super-fancy Afternoon Tea. It was 100% fabulous.

It is time for Afternoon Tea!

“One lump, or two?”

Noelle and I got champagne with fruit juice and B had fruit juice in sparkling water. Because we were extra-fancy.

What is the title of the person who takes care of you during tea time? The Tea Mistress? This is the pouring of the tea by our tea mistress, Hiwat.

The seriousness of the consuming.

It was a fantastic birthday present for both the 16-year-old and the 41-year-old. Noelle, you are the BEST PRESENT-GIVER EVER! Thank you and I hope you had as much fun as I did!


Filed under Adventures, In someone else's backyard, My Dearly Beloveds

In lieu of embarrassing my own children…

I don’t have any fruit from my loins to embarrass. However, I have the next best thing: the fruit of my siblings’ loins!
Actually, gross.

Today, Little B is 16.


Holy hell.

I’m not really ok with this for a number of reasons. But this isn’t about me. It’s about The B.

Oh, she was so young. SO YOUNG!
July 4, 2008

She’s a funny person. And smart. And sometimes a major dork. I would have liked hanging out with her had I been her contemporary and I love hanging out with her as her awesome Auntie Shrew.

She’s also horrible. Here is proof:

Once upon a time, we all lived together in a neat little house on a corner. Noelle was a waitress, I was a librarian, and Little B was a three- or four-year-old. I worked days, Noelle worked nights and we took turns caring for the Little B. Being from an educational background – librarian, remember – and abusive, I forced Little B to do things she didn’t want to do, like learn stuff. And what’s a good way to learn things? Why, by playing games, of course. We played all sorts of games – board games, imagination games, we raced up stairs to see who could get to the top first. It was all in the name of learning. Part of my teaching process was to help Little B understand that SHE CAN’T WIN! because that is a valuable life lesson. Everyone else in Little B’s up-to-then-short life let her win at games, but I didn’t. I figured she’d get much more satisfaction from winning when she did it on her own (also, little kids are the only people I can beat at games) and so that is what we strived toward, though I knew full-well I had a good ten years of being the victor. Also, because I’m a bad person, I’m fairly sure I probably yelled things like, “I BEAT YOU!” every time I won because I enjoy stating the obvious and making children cry.

Only, this bit me in the butt.

I had to go to Target one day while I was on Little B watch so I packed her into the car and off we went. We did what we needed to do and then there we were, in the check-out line.  The cashier made polite conversation, asking how our day had been and at one point in the transaction, she mistook me for Little B’s Mommy. Little B was quick to correct her, saying, “She’s not my mommy. She’s my Auntie Shrew. And she BEATS ME.”

You can imagine all the explaining that happened afterward, as well as the looks I received. I’m pretty sure Security followed me to the car just to make sure I didn’t kill the kid in my cart. And that is what retribution at the hands of a just-out-of-toddlerhood child feels like; she won.

There’s something about Target for Little B, apparently. Not long after they moved out and onto their own lives, Noelle took Little B to Target for some shopping. They were in the clothing section and Little B was in the cart, all squirmy and feisty, asking to be let out. Noelle told her that she could come out of the cart only if she stayed right there which Little B promised to do. Noelle looked at a couple of articles of clothing, looked down…and there was no Little B. She was gone. Noelle called out for her, probing, then irritated, then panicking. There was no answer. Noelle did what moms do in this situation – she went into hysterics and found a Target employee who took Little B’s description and radioed in a lost child. Little B was super cute and was always being approached by strangers, offered candy or money, and generally cooed over. It was clear that some freaking weirdo had lured Little B away from her mom and was probably already driving off with her. Noelle met managers and other important people at the front of the store. They were going to do a sweep and call the police but then the radio cackled and the missing child had been found. I know all the parents are already nodding their heads, knowing what’s coming next. They found her quietly crouching in a round rack of clothes because she thought it would be funny to hide from her mom. She’d been perfectly still, perfectly quiet the ENTIRE time. Talk about patience. And evil.

And you wonder why I beat her.

This is my most-favorite picture of Little B who is little no more.
Summer 2009

Dear Little B,

I love you so much. I think you probably know that. I am incredibly fortunate to be your aunt and I would even kidnap you and make you my own if I could. That is how much I love you and I don’t even like kids. Well, not much, anyhow. But I am no longer comfortable calling you “Little B.” You are as tall as I am, your shoe size is bigger, and you have boobs. You look all womanish and you are not little. You are big. Big and strong, neat and hilarious, artistic and amazing. So I’m dropping the “Little” even if it makes us both a bit sad because you can’t be contained in that word at all. There is nothing little about you as you become this larger-than-life real person.
Happy Sixteenth Birthday, B. I cannot WAIT to go ghost-hunting with you!

All my love,

Auntie Shrew


P.S. I can still beat you at running up stairs because you run like an old lady, like Grammy.


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard

Dear Diary: 1984 and 85

When I turned 11, my grandparents, ZZ & Poppop, gave me a diary. They thought I’d love it. I thought so, too, because it was pretty and it had a lock and key. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get the whole concept of recording my thoughts in a book. For instance, I promptly lost the key and couldn’t open it for several weeks. Also, even though I got the diary in September of 1983, I thought I had to wait until the new year started to begin writing. I’ve always been a stickler for the rules, even the imaginary ones.

Just look at it! So lovely! It’s not cutesy with little kid graphics. This is obviously made for a woman who has amazing things to write. Secret things. Dangerous things.

Here’s that first entry:

January 1, 1984.
Dear Diary,
Today was pretty boring. We came back from spending the night at Dale’s house. Then Dale and her kids came over to see us tonight. Alex tried to drown me. I was taking a bath with her and she sat on my head.
NOTE: Alex (aka Bedot) is my youngest sister and she was 4 at the time. As the oldest, it was my job to bathe her and make sure she didn’t drown in the tub. Ironic.

Then there’s a hand-drawn line under that entry and below that is:
Dear Diary 1985,
NOTE: I guess I was ill.
And below that, in round teen-girl cursive, 1990! Yeah buddy!

It would seem I didn’t quite grasp the point of a One Year Diary.

Just for fun, let’s explore a couple of other entries. Of course, as I transpose this, all I hear in my mind is Amy’s diary. I’m leaving the spelling and grammar as is. I’ll even try to format each entry as it appears on the page.

Dear Diary, April 19, 1984
Oscar’s sick! He going to dye! I buried the babies today. I dug up a squirrle. So I cried and cried. I fell terrible.
NOTE: Oscar was a rabbit. The babies were from our female rabbit. She killed them…and was possibly working on Oscar, too. Oh, and also? We buried all dead animals in our yard, even if they weren’t ours. Thus the squirrel.

July 10, 1986
My chicken Peep McNugget layed an egg. Her very 1st.
NOTE: I hatched that chicken myself. She was later viciously murdered by a contraband terrier from hell (NEVER FORGET!) and she died in my arms. I didn’t get that from a song, she really did die in my arms.

’85, September 9
Dear Diary,
My fingernail came off today while I was reading the sword of Shanarra! Oh well!
NOTE: Reading is dangerous?

Happy Birthday Erica! September 23
Dear Diary, I had a great birthday. On Friday we went to ZZ’s and invited Kim over and had a party, then the next night we went to The Mug and had a small party, then today we had a party here & went hiking with Randy & Glenda.
NOTE: That was totally the beginning of my party lifestyle and it’s still about that exciting.

October 31
Dear Diary,
I was a fairy,
Bubba – Pirate
Noelle – Hobo
Bedot – Skeleton
NOTE: Bubba is my brother. His real name is Chris. I’m not sure I’m allowed to mention that, as I didn’t ask permission, but Noelle and Bedot totally said I could use their names, so 2/3 isn’t bad, right?

And we’ll end with this one because it shows I was a stalker at a very young age:

November 1
Mags Furuholmen’s  birthday.
Dear Diary,
ZZ left, I went to the Doctor again. I got a blood test.
**Mags’ birthday definitely takes precedence on this page. I wonder how he’s doing? Last I read, he was quite ill. Happy belated birthday, Mags. I hope you’re doing ok.

Just to make this diary even MORE magical, I pasted unicorn and Pegasus stickers all over the inside. Don’t worry, I only used my BEST unicorn and Pegasus stickers.


Filed under My Dearly Beloveds, My journey to writerhood, White trash childhood

006.7 EKGO STREET DATE: 9/23/12 – or – My first post!

Today I am 40 and I have decided this is the decade in which I become a writer. May as well since I write all the dang time anyway and I should do something with all those words falling out of me, n’est pas?
“Why a blog and not a book or some magazine articles,” you ask? (Pretend you asked that)
Well, I’ve already written a couple of articles and I’ve got a few bajillion books started or in various stages of finishment. However, I think a blog could be a good exercise in keeping things concise, for working on my actual writing skills, and in finding my voice. It is my great hope that by practicing here, I can finish some of those few bajillion books.
Aaaaand, I like to tell stories. Actually, I LOVE to tell stories. A blog seems like a natural storytelling space. We’ll see if it works.

Here’s my plan. I’m not saying it’s a good one, it’s just what I’m using to get off the ground:
1. Post once a week. Probably at the beginning. Maybe. I guess that depends on what you consider the beginning of the week. I consider Monday the beginning. And Monday is often unpleasant and difficult so maybe I won’t get around to posting until Tuesday. Don’t hold me to anything, this is not a legally binding contract. This is just my vague plan and it’s only in place in my head (and here) to try to keep me on track and focused. Let’s just move on already.
2. Post only on the following topics:
My Adventures to include those that happen in my own backyard or while I’m housesitting as well as adventures abroad
Tales from Toiletopia. A few people already know this: I LOVE toilet stories. I have great ones and I enjoy those told to me by others. Potty humor just cracks me up! Because I am a 12-year-old boy, apparently.
My journey to writerhood. I don’t imagine there will actually be too many posts about this topic, but you never know. Crazier things have happened.
My Dearly Beloveds. All the fun stuff about friends, family, and my cats or any future critters who join our circus.
My Phenomenal Fake Life. This will be about the amazing things that happen in my life, only it’s the life that only exists in my imagination.
My Opinions On Stuff. Probably reviews on books and movies. Maybe thoughts on video games. Who knows. I’ve already got a whole slew of book reviews up on Goodreads, so maybe just general things that entertained me. Or maybe this is where I’ll go all ranty and stuff. Who really knows at this point.
3. Posts will have a one page limit. Except for full-on stories or things that need lots of words, I’m going to try to keep my posts to a page in length. A Word document page, I mean. That’s, what? Around 450ish to 700ish words, depending on spacing?

And…that’s about it, I think. Well, it’s good enough for now, at any rate.

I welcome myself to the blogosphere. Wish me luck!Here, have a sundae.


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My journey to writerhood