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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

If You Enjoy Southern Colorado--You'll Enjoy This Blog

 I love all of Colorado, but my heart is really in southern Colorado. And if you left your heart in southern Colorado also, then you'll enjoy this blog at: www.southernrockiesnatureblog.com

Chas Clifton, writer of the southern Rockies nature blog, left a few comments on my blog. I could tell from his comments that he knew way more about history, ghost towns and southern Colorado than I or most people do. And that intrigued me, since I am always in awe and appreciate when people come along that I can learn a thing or two about my favorite subjects.

It took me a little time to check out Mr. Clifton's blog, and it turns out that I was correct. This gentleman has a lot of knowledge and unique perspective about southern Colorado.


Mr. Clifton describes his blog as: Where Nature Meets Culture--Plus Wildfire, Dogs, Environmental News, And Writing With A Southern Colorado Perspective.

We need more of that--writing with a southern Colorado perspective. Check out Mr. Clifton's blog. And if you have any links or information to blogs and other writings that explore southern Colorado--let me know and I'll happily give a mention on this blog.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Florence, Colorado: Nightmare On Main St.

There is going to be a nightmare on Main Street in Florence, Colorado. No, it has nothing to do with a nightmare like being trampled by hoards of enthusiastic antique shoppers in the antiques capital of Colorado. It has everything to do with having a good time for Halloween and raising some money for The Rialto Theater.


Are you kidding me? Only $3 to have the bejeezus scared out of you? That's a bargain! I usually pay way more than that to scare myself. OK, I actually am rather frugal and scare myself for free every morning when I look in the mirror.

I'll be there. You can recognize me by the costume I'll be wearing. It won't be exactly like the picture below, but my costume will be similar.


See, I am a scary Halloween monkey. And if you look closely, I'm even dressed a bit like an Italian opera singer, in honor of The Rialto Theater's Italian roots.

OK, I am making that up. But can you blame me for using any excuse to use this wonderful picture? No, you cannot. And don't even try. Just make sure you get to the Rialto and buy a ticket for Nightmare on Main St. and buy plenty of food to help out the cause. If you don't, this scary monkey might just be a little annoyed and haunt people.

Florence, Colorado: The Historic Rialto Theater

Florence, Colorado has treasures almost everywhere--but one of its finest treasures is The Rialto Theater at 209 W. Main St. The grand old building was constructed in 1923 as an opera house with nearly 900 seats. By 1927, the grand old dame was used for screening movies and by 1969 it was closed and ever since has mostly been undergoing painstaking restoration.


The Rialto, named after a section of Venice, Italy--stands as a historical testament to not only the Italian culture so vital in Fremont County, but to the grand era of opera houses.

After years of ups and downs, the theater has seen some majestic restorations, but is still in need of more funds and community volunteers to complete the decade- long project.

I've only been in Florence a relatively short time, but have been following the progress of this massive undertaking. We were fortunate enough to have a private tour of The Rialto, given by Suzanne Phipps, who was instrumental in raising funds and completing projects--shortly before her death in Dec. of 2014.

More recently, city leaders and other civic leaders have taken over the restoration project.

The Rialto has a new (and under partial construction) website at: http://www.historicrialtotheater.com/

Some have estimated that it will take about $1 million more to complete the project and open the doors to opera, theater, community gatherings and more.

I think of Florence (pop. apprx. 3,800) as the little town that could--and will. I think they can do it.

I got a bit curious about the history of opera houses in Colorado. So I went to: www.operaoldcolo.info/houses.html

I know the Rialto is a historical and architectural treasure, but just how rare is it in the state of Colorado?

There were about 150 opera houses built from about 1860 to 1920 in Colorado, according to the historical opera house website. That was the apparent heyday not only in Colorado, but across the USA. Of course, tastes changed. In the 1920s, the silent movies, automobiles and other factors changed people's habits in entertainment.

So, by that standard--Florence's opera house was built in 1923, just as the heyday of opera houses was winding down.

I scanned the website to see if the Rialto was listed. I was surprised that it was not. According to the website, Florence had a previous opera house built in 1903, that is now apparently a bank parking lot.

According to the website, only about 46 (or approximately one-third) of Colorado's original opera houses have been identified and many of those 46 have been so substantially remodeled or renovated that they can barely be classified as historical opera houses. Sad. About 17 remain in mostly intact condition. Buildings, that is, that were significantly associated with opera in the past, still are, or ones that will be fairly soon.

Seventeen. Sad.

But, Florence's Rialto Theater is not on the list. It's not even mentioned.

Do we have number 18 here?

Regardless, most people in Fremont County agreed The Rialto is a treasure that needs to be restored, not only for the historical record, but for the community treasure it was, still is and will be even more so in the future.


Florence, Colorado: Who Says GITMO & Antiques Can't Be Funny?

Who says GITMO and antiques can't be funny? Come on, I can't make this stuff up. But this week, someone I am acquainted with DID make Guantanamo Bay AND antiques funny--right here in Florence, Colorado.

We noted a few days ago that Florence made the national FOX news, reporting on Pentagon officials touring Supermax in Florence and the state penitentiary in nearby Canon City as possible places to relocate Guantanamo Bay detainees. I happened to be watching from a Japanese restaurant on Florence's Main St. when one news camera crew was packing its gear. I had no idea what it was all about until I saw the FOX national news the next day. And someone told me it was also on a local (Colorado Springs) NBC channel.

Ah, but they reported the straight news. Boy, was I in for a treat today when I discovered there was yet another news report that was delicious. Yes, it's the one that proves Gitmo AND antiques can be funny.

I was casually strolling down Main. St. when Larry Nelson, owner of Florence Antiques, informed me that Florence had been on the news. I said I knew and I had done a little mention of it on my blog.

No, I was told--Larry Nelson himself was on the news. Larry escorted me and my unsuspecting spouse inside Florence Antiques to Larry's computer where he showed us the news video.

For our local readers (and our readers out of the area) below is a picture of Larry I took last year when we were doing steampunk events for the steampunk festival last April. Yes, that's a steam gauge in Larry's mouth. And yes, I am giving you a hint, that FOX 31 News of Denver was in for a journalistic roller coaster of a ride.


Yes, Mr. Nelson is wearing overalls. But that's besides the point.

Let's backtrack. I used to live in Denver, for a brief time, and I remember watching Justin Joseph on FOX 31 News. I always considered him as a journalist that stood out from the rest. And Joseph did not let me down. But I am fairly certain that when Joseph set out to report on the Pentagon officials in Florence AND the antiques scene in Florence (the antiques capital of Colorado) he had no idea he would inadvertently be shooting the next pilot for a new reality show about the Florence antiques scene, starring Larry Nelson.

Most of us in the antiques trade in Florence, already knew Larry would make a good reality TV star. We just didn't know how he'd play out on the telly, since we'd never seen him on the telly. I'll get to that later.

Here's a link to the FOX 31 News video, featuring Supermax AND Larry Nelson. I can ASSURE you that even though Supermax looms large in reality and in legend on the outskirts of Florence proper--Mr. Nelson's personality loomed larger that Supermax, Guantanamo or the Pentagon. Stinking Pentagon. We don't need no stinking Pentagon officials--Florence has Larry Nelson and that's enough, thank you very much!

http://kdvr.com/2015/10/13/pentagon-officials-look-at-colorado-prisons-as-possible-homes-for-guantanamo-detainees/

The news video starts with Larry narrating," Welcome to Florence, the capital of antiques."

The news package is actually a work of art--interspersing shots of inmates, barbed wire, Supermax and some really cool Toby mugs in Larry's antiques shop.

I really have to tip my vintage hat off to FOX news. Even on the national story, they balanced the Gitmo story and Supermax with the antiques culture in Florence. But FOX 31 in Denver, really did it up right.

There were a few interviews with folks (on the streets of Florence) who were not terribly happy about Gitmo folks potentially parking their felonious butts in Florence, along with the rest of the inmates.

Now, Larry Nelson of Florence Antiques--he has few qualms about that. "That's OK, they won't get out of there," he told the reporter with a hearty laugh.

OK, everyone knows deep down that we are much more interested in antiques in Florence and eccentrics like Larry Nelson, than we are in what goes on at Supermax. Most people agree that no one has ever escaped--and if they did, I pity them, because they really don't know what type of folks live in Florence. But they do now.

And what other antiques shop owners and dealers wanted to know (all of whom had NO idea Larry had been on the news until I told them) was if this brought a few more browsers and customers into Florence. Larry had told me that people actually told him they saw him on the news in Denver and drove to Denver to see what he and his store were about. Watch the video! Larry just got Florence, about a zillion dollars worth of free publicity. There we hoards of people browsing in Florence right after these multitude of stories played in Colorado Springs, Denver and nationally.

And how does Larry play on TV? You be the judge. But I can tell you--that's exactly the Larry most people know in Florence. He does translate to TV.

I told another dealer about the video. She and I went back to Larry's store and she saw the video and I watched it for the second delightful time. The other dealer insisted that Larry shop for his own reality TV show immediately. Actually she had told Larry that last year. I seconded the motion. Only time will tell. But I guarantee you--I don't know anyone besides Larry Nelson and Justin Joseph of FOX News 31 that could have made Gitmo AND antiques funny.

But what was really funny was that Larry didn't seem to understand what the other dealer and I were telling him about--that he plays well on TV and we were not joking when we said he needs to get his own TV show.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Florence, Colorado: Makes National FOX News

On Oct. 13, we and an out-of-town guest, were sitting in one of our favorite restaurants (ITO'S  Japanese) on Florence's Main St. when we noticed someone with a huge video camera. Being the nosy (um, curious person) that I am, I left my shrimp tempura bento box behind for a moment and ran to the window.

I saw the fellow pack up his camera in an unmarked SUV, so we couldn't figure who was in town.

Apparently he was part of FOX News, because this morning the story about Florence was all over the national FOX News channel, and then on the local evening news.

The story was about Pentagon officials coming to Florence to scout SuperMax (and the state penitentiary) in Canon City to possibly relocate Gitmo prisoners.

Interesting.


I won't comment on the wisdom, or folly, of that possible action.

I will comment on the fact that it was nice to see Florence's lovely Main St. in some of the shots. There were shots of people strolling down the street and some glimpses of Spirit Riders, The Iron Gate Antiques Mall and Florence Flower Shop.

Yes, we are home to Supermax. But we are also the antiques capital of Colorado and home to some wicked awesome eateries. And it was nice of FOX News to interview someone on the streets of Florence and also to give a balanced picture of this town. Supermax AND charming shops and eateries.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Touch Evil: Who Says Collectibles Can't Be Funny?

What the heck is this doing in an antiques store? Being the Sherlock Holmes (ette) of antiques in Florence, Colorado--I like to think deep thoughts about antiques, collectibles and other inanimate objects. I like to wonder who brought them into a store and where the items journeyed before they came to Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado.


Tee hee!

Can you even guess what this is? I didn't know until I read the tag. My first guess was a cousin of Gumby with a grass skirt. Perhaps a distant relative of the animated character,  lived in the Pacific Islands or went on a vacation and got a sunburn.

I was wrong. But that happens a lot, so I am used to it.

Once a fellow co-worker and friend told me, "You know, you are a touch evil. And you ENJOY it!"

I try to take everything said to me with a thick skin and a twinkle in my slightly evil eye and glommed on to the fact that she said a TOUCH evil. Not totally evil. And yeah, I like it. A little.

So, that's my hint about this object. It's just a touch evil.

Any more guesses?

OK, I'm not totally evil and won't keep you in suspense. It's a voodoo doll.

I didn't see that this item came with any pins. But if it did, I would have stuck a pin or two in it (in some not too painful place, since I am only a touch evil) and "zapped" the person who brought this into an antiques shop.

Hmmm. Seems like there is yet another category of antiques. Oh yeah, I could bore myself and talk about RECOGNIZED categories of antiques and collectibles. But what fun would that be.

The new category is Purgatory Antiques and Collectibles. I heard a nasty rumor that Kovel's is coming out with a price guide in this category on the twelfth of never.

Why Purgatory Antiques and Collectibles? That refers to items that are not crummy enough to be thrown out, donated to a charity or re-gifted. But are way too crappy for an antiques store, but someone tries to slip them in anyway and hope no one notices.

Perhaps we can start a National Purge Purgatory Day and have bonfires to rid the world of these items.

Is It An Antique Mall or An Antiques Mall?

Is it an antique mall or an antiques mall? Antique store or antiques store?

You say tomato and I say tomato. OK, say it however you wish, as long as you don't write: I want to eat a tomatoe. Eeek!




I am not a grammar cop, but it recently came up in conversation when I noted that Florence was sometimes touted as the antique capital of Colorado and at other times--the antiques capital of Colorado.

I asked a few people which they thought was correct. Some believed it was antique capital and a few more believed, antiques capital.

I explained that it is quite simple. If one refers to a town as an antique capital, it suggests the town itself is an antique. Perhaps the first capital in the state? If one refers to a mall or shop as an antique shop, then it suggests the shop or mall is an antique. I went on to say, that if I refer to a woman as an antique, I am saying she is old. If I refer to her as an antiques woman--I am suggesting she is an antiques dealer or into antiques.

 But here is where I rest my case. It's Antiques Roadshow, not Antique Roadshow.

So, that is why I refer to Florence as, the antiques capital of Colorado.

And today,or tomorrow, thank your English teacher if you know the difference when to use antiques or antique. Or the difference between your and you're--as in you're not paying attention to your English teacher.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

We Found YOU In Florence, Colorado: Kate Hamel of San Rafael, CA

Yes, we Found You In Florence, Colorado: Kate Hamel of San Rafael, California!

We have a feature on this blog called: Will We Find YOU In Florence? Florence is the antiques capital of Colorado. And as such, the town gets out-of-town, as well as local visitors. I thought it would be interesting to randomly ask people what they found in Florence, as I likewise, find them in Florence.

Recently we met Kate, who is a truck driver.


She walked into The Iron Gate Antique Mall recently and was thrilled by all the awesome shops in Florence. She is pictured with what she found in one shop, some bars of handmade soap.

In the course of her work, Kate has been from Vermont to California. She's made many deliveries to the Denver area and has been to Pueblo, but has never taken the cut-off from Pueblo and visited Florence until this visit

Recently she had a delivery to make at Fremont Motorsports, located at 600 E. Main St.( www.fremontmotorsports.com)  and used the time she had waiting to make delivery to explore the town.

Kate, besides enjoying a successful career as a trucker, is also a furniture designer. She is working on launching her own furniture company. She promised to send pictures, to be posted on this blog, of her reclaimed furniture designs, as well as the link to her upcoming website.

The fact that Kate is creative and artistic, added to her delight in discovering the unique vibe of Florence.

"I've met friendly people, seen wonderful antiques stores and met guineas, chickens, rooster, mules..." Kate said.

Yes, Florence had lots of great antiques shops (more per capita than anywhere in Colorado), and many friends people and animals. But we've found that the people who visit Florence are also extremely friendly and have interesting creative pursuits.

Kate also enjoyed the history of the town and the scenic beauty. Yes, we found Kate in Florence. And she says she was so thrilled with what she found in Florence, that she'll be back. So, it's likely we'll find first-time visitor, Kate Hamel, in Florence again.

But will we find YOU in Florence? If we do, we'll give you a card with the address to this blog and take your picture and ask you what you found in Florence.

And even if I don't find YOU in Florence--you are welcome to send your own pictures of what you found in Florence, for possible inclusion on this blog.

Who Says Collectibles Can't Be Funny? What Would Martha Stewart Do?

I sit up nights wondering what Martha Stewart would do if she was in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado browsing and noticed the amount of scary clowns running amok.

Would she run screaming to the offices of Architectural Digest for a cleansing? Or would she do what the Queen of Questionable Taste does and look those scary clowns in the eyes and immortalize them for the whole world to see?

I think she is a brave and talented woman with impeccable taste who would figure out a creative way for people to use scary clowns in decorating.

If she were as scared of the clown collectibles as I was, I think she'd have too much class to show it.

Since I have little class, I'll just keep on showing the tour of Florence's scary clowns and giving myself the willies.

 Oh my goodness! I can't decide if that's a price tag around the clown's neck or he's finally had enough of this cold, cruel world and decided to do himself in. Please, don't do it clown!

 OK, I give this clown permission to do himself in.

 Stop the madness. This isn't Ringling Brothers. This is Florence for goodness sake!


This clown is saying,"Ssshhh! I have a secret. The Queen of Questionable Taste must die soon. She has done more to discredit our kind than all the previous generations of clown collectibles mockers before her."

Who Says Collectibles Can't Be Funny? Scary Clown Parade

Just when you thought the scary clown invasion in Florence, Colorado was over--I captured one of the biggest parades of the pesky collectibles yet.


Notice the sign, left by the seller of this clown: Nods Off To Sleep. I tell ya what, I won't be nodding off to sleep if he's in my bedroom.


OK, I'm not the biggest antiques and collectibles expert in the universe. But I have a decent knowledge. And this glass clown bumfoozled me. Not only does he look like a deranged pirate clown--but he has a special skill. He's a slightly naughty clown. It took the King of Impeccable Taste to point out to the INNOCENT Queen of Questionable Taste that this nasty clown is an ashtray and if one puts a cigarette in the middle there, well, um, ah--it looks like his winkie. I assume winkie is the correct term for a clown's private parts.


Some things are better left unspoken. I have no words for this clown--except to get the hell out of the city limits of Florence by midnight or I'll sic the clown with the winkie on him.


Oh, God! The humanity. Apparently the clown convention was meeting in Florence.


Apparently even Jim Beam has went over to the dark side with this clown liquor bottle. I think I'll need a snort or two before I upload the next clown picture.


I think this clown would make a great anniversary gift. Just make sure you don't value your significant other--because I smell divorce papers coming down the pike after someone unwraps this gift.

Who Says Arts & Crafts Can't Be Funny? The Worst Atrocity I've Ever Seen

You want ugly? You want something so horrific it will burn your retinas? Then don't look at this picture. It's the worst of crafts and collectibles. It's the worst mankind can create with a pair of pantyhose, some poly fluff and some demonic artist inspiration.

When The King of Impeccable Taste saw these, he dubbed them Adam and Eve and suggested they go hide their shame. I was too fixated on the fact that these creations from hell were showcased in a frigging Cup O' Noodles box. I kid you not. True story! Everything on this blog is  true--but this is really true. And what transpired after I took the pictures is also true.


I don't have a good enough camera to pick up the fact that these pantyhose beauties were VERY pilled. Like somebody had rubbed them way too much.

I screamed and took another picture and the owner of these geriatric soft poly fluff porn dolls actually told me I could take them home for FREE!

I gasped and looked at him and said, "I thought our vague friendship meant more to you than that!"

Apparently it did not.


Hell no! These atrocities and the frigging Cup O' Noodles box stayed in this store. If I took these home, I'd be demoted from The Queen of Questionable Taste to The Queen of Satan's Interior Decorating Staff.


The Queen of Questionable Taste is a part-time antiques and collectibles dealer and a mocker of  tacky, ugly, FUNky  and horrid collectibles and other questionable items, but takes special glee in mocking scary clowns. The Queen appreciates a good antique and some collectibles, but insists that another man's trash is always trash--unless of course someone is willing to pay the big bucks for it. The Queen used to be a newspaper reporter and also wrote for a major national magazine. The Queen enjoys decorating her home in the tacky pseudo-Victorian gypsy funk style, gardening, reading and acting offended when her husband, The King of Impeccable Taste, makes folk art out of junk he scrounges for free from alleys and other people's yards and out of the Arkansas River. The Queen and her husband have lived in colorful Colorado for over 20 years and LOVE it.



What I Found In Florence, The Antiques Capital of Colorado: Random Acts Of Kindess

As you know, I have a feature around here--where I overhear people saying what they found in Florence. Then I bring out my camera and notepad and ask for their story. So far, no one has refused.

But more often than not, I find something in Florence. This week it was, random acts of kindness. Nice moments that I wouldn't interrupt and necessarily ask for the person's name, story and picture.

First two ladies came into the antiques shop. One collects chickens. She found two that she didn't think she had. These were adorable miniature glass chicken dishes with lids. I could tell she wanted both, but she just got one. I could tell her friend could also tell she wanted both.

They came back a short time later and her friend asked me to get the other chicken out of the showcase. "It's her birthday soon. So I am buying her birthday gift early."

"At least you know she'll absolutely love it," I said. It reminds me of what my husband and I do sometimes. One of us will find something neat that we just feel great about treating ourselves to--and the other will buy it for a far-off birthday or holiday or occasion. My husband started this tradition and claimed that by the time the occasion rolled around, I would forget he bought the item right in front of me. The first time he did that, I scoffed. Surely, I would remember, even if the occasion was several months off.

Not so! And so a tradition was born. And apparently these two cute ladies had the same thing going on. A random act of kindness.

A few hours later another customer came in.


He brought a Marx tin wind-up toy truck to the counter and asked me what the price was. The price was very clearly marked on the label. Apparently he thought the price was too good to be true and wanted me to confirm it. I told him it was a cheap price for a Marx (under $20) but it was because the wind-up mechanism didn't work.

"That's OK," he smiled," I volunteer over at the veteran's nursing home and there is a gentleman who lives there who loves to fix things like this."

Yes, another random act of kindness. A volunteer, spending his own money to bring even more purpose to a veteran's hands and a smile to his face.

Thanks to that veteran for his service and thanks to that volunteer for his service.

And that's just a little of what I found in Florence this week.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Florence Brewing Company: Serious Craft Beer In Fremont County

Everytime I think it can't get much better than living in Florence, Colorado--another reason pops up (or should I say, hops up) that makes living in this picturesque town gets even better. This spring, Florence Brewing Company will be opening at 200 S. Pikes Peak Ave. in a lovely historical building.

The Florence Brewing Company will be bringing its own craft beers to the establishment, and attempting to use locally sourced hops and other ingredients, as much as possible.

The FBC will be opening where the Florence Citizen newspaper has been located for decades. The newspaper will continue operating in a smaller portion of the building.

You can read all about it at: https://www.facebook.com/FlorenceBrewingCompany

I think we have a winner here!

Who Says Antiques Can't Be Funny? Slightly Naughty Girls



Jenny is my favorite strumpet of the day.


Oh, Jenny you naughty girl. I know I always wear stilettos, seamed nylons, a garter belt and a ruffly pair of skimpy bloomers to do some steam cleaning.  Don't you? I even dress up like a French maid when I am cleaning toilets. Actually I don't, but my husband might enjoy that.


Have you no shame, you turn-of-the century hottie? At least Jenny has some style and some, well clothing. I learn something new on every antiques and collectibles junket and today I learned that it looks like they might have had bikini waxes about a hundred years ago. I did not know that.