Saturday, October 15, 2016

An upsetting experience at High Pie Pizzeria & Taproom in Telluride, Colorado

On our last night here in Telluride, after dining at some wonderful joints like Smugglers and The Butcher & The Baker, we decided to have dinner at High Pie. We felt like pizza, and it looked family friendly. {There are 11 of us, 5 of whom are kids!}

I won't beat around the bush here tonight, I'll get straight to the point. Shortly after placing our orders, my mom went to use the bathroom. But there was no soap. So she came back out and walked to the bar--the only employee around at the moment--and asked the female bartender for some soap for the women's restroom. 

"Some what?" she said.

"Some soap, please." said my mom.

"Soap???" said the bartender, as if she'd never heard of it. 

Uh oh. That's never a good sign. She went back to speak to another employee briefly and came back to tell my mom, "We're out of soap."

{This is where we ate dinner. No soap?! I they not keep a STOCK of it in the back to make sure they never run out? Health codes! Kind of IMPORTANT, am I right?!}

So my mom went, "Uh...okay...I'll just go get some out of the men's restroom."

Except when she got back to the men's bathroom, there were two large male employees rushing back to intercept her. Seeing as the only employee mom had mentioned getting soap in the men's restroom was the girl bartender, it was obvious she'd told these men. They were all but shouting at her.

"No! No! No! That's the men's restroom, you can't go in there! See? Women's restroom is HERE!" 

Basically, they were trying to intimidate my mom. 

Joke's on them. My mom isn't easily intimidated. When she communicated that she wanted soap, one still fussed and the other opened the door a crack--still upset with my mom--and let her get a small squirt of soap on one hand from the automatic dispenser. When my mom went for a second squirt to be sure to have enough, the guy started yelling at her {"No! No! No!"} and then turned to his co-worker and said, and I quote, 

"SHE'S F@#$%& UP!!!!" he said to his friend. "This lady is really F&#%@#$ UP!!!"

Wow. My mom is effed up? For wanting to wash her hands?! At a restaurant?!?!

When she got back to the table and communicated this all to us, we were surprised. She pointed out the men when they passed our table. They went up to other employees and said things, obviously about us because the employees turned to look right at us. 

Needless to say, we were all very disturbed to see a female bartender making our drinks, a female serving pizzas, and a female working the kitchen in the back. Not because they're female, but because there was no soap for females, apparently! 

Come on! You can't find a 7-11 gas station bathroom in the country that doesn't say "EMPLOYEES MUST WASH THEIR HANDS BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK." 

What an embarrassment for High Pie, if you ask me. 

We saw the employees go use the restroom. They made our dinner. Yikes. 

Not to mention, for these men to try and bully my mom, mock her, and call her "f------ up" right to her face for wanting to wash her hands is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. 

When it was time to go, my mom went to close out our bar tab. After seeing the bartender use the restroom without washing her hands, after she sent two burly men to bully my mom, and after saying point blank that they were out of soap as a food service employee who should know better, my mom did something she hasn't done in her sixty years of life: she didn't tip.

I mean, we were all pretty disgusted, and I agreed with my mom deciding not to tip, and I used to work as a hairstylist so I know how important tips are. But no soap for employees and cursing out my mom for trying to get some? UN.ACC.EPTABLE.

Meanwhile, I had gone back to the bathroom to see for myself. Sure enough--and I recorded this on my smartphone--there was NO soap. I opened the dispenser, and there wasn't even a bottle inside. I saw a Mrs. Meyers bottle on the sink that was uncapped--oh here's the soap!--but upon tipping it over, a few drops of water came out and nothing more. The towel dispenser? EMPTY. 

I came out and my sister said, "Did you see anyone in there? I think there's an employee in there, it's like she was hiding in there and didn't want to come out while we were in there even though we waited a while." 

Since she mentioned it, I did remember one stall door being closed. So we watched the door and sure enough, a female employee came out, went right into the kitchen. No soap! I looked through the kitchen doors, and see her stirring a pot of food! Knowing full well she had NOT just washed her hands, and had exited a bathroom moments ago. Sick! {I took a picture.}

Then she looked out the kitchen door window {my camera was gone at this point} to see if we were still there. She saw me and hid. Outrageous. 

So I waited and when she looked again to see if it was "safe," I waved. So she came out to talk to me. The following conversation went like this...

Employee: Can I help you?

Me: Yeah, your bartender said you don't have any soap for the women's bathroom?

E: Oh.

Me: I do the employees wash their hands before handling food if there's no soap?

E: Well, we have a sink in the back. {She pointed to the kitchen, not the bathrooms.}

Me: So, it's still gross that your patrons can't wash their hands. That spreads diseases, you need to get soap in there. And your two male employees who were here earlier followed my mom into the men's restroom to try and bully her for getting soap from there.

E: Really?

Me: Yeah. This is a real problem, there are health codes. You can't serve people food with no soap.


Me: Is the manager here?

E: No.

Me: What's their name?

E: Mariah.

Me: Okay, well, we're just pretty upset that the people who made and served us food and drinks don't have soap to wash their hands. That's pretty darn gross, don't you think? I took a picture of you stirring food right after using the bathroom.

E: Well, we do have dish soap back there.

Me: Then why did your bartender tell my mom that you're out? And why was she bullied for trying to get some in the men's restroom? I mean, that's ironic considering Obama says bathrooms are genderless these days anyway...

E: Yeah...

Me: Can you show me your sink in the back?


Me: Show me your sink where your employees wash their hands!

E: Um...well... you can't go back there.

Me: I want to see it, you said there is a sink and soap, let me see.

E: Well, we do wash our hands, actually, in the men's bathroom.

Me: But two of your male employees harassed my mom for doing just that!

E: You should go f---{she stopped herself and looked around.}

My mom, now done paying the bar tab, walks up to see what we're saying. 

Me: Look, I'll have to call the health department because this is REALLY disgusting that you're all preparing food and serving drinks without any soap in the bathroom!

E: {she really just looked stunned and had no excuse}

So we left, but this is after eating and paying for food that was made by mostly female employees. In an establishment that has health codes, and was full of people {I wanted to scream at them to all run because none of these women can wash their hands properly} it was just shocking to find that there was no way for most of the employees to wash their hands. 

I wouldn't be writing this if it were just that, but the fact that men followed my mom to the bathrooms, tried to bully her, and called her "F%@#$&! UP" for wanting to be healthy what universe is THAT ok????

What a bummer to have spent money on that disgusting, upsetting experience on our last night in Telluride. They need to clean up their act!

I mean, I'll admit there was a little amusement there. Like something out of a Seinfeld episode {"NO SOAP FOR YOU!!"} But that amusement was sort of tempered by the fact that these soapless folks made our dinner and handled mom's request for soap totally unprofessionally. It was as simple of a solution as saying, "No soap in the bathroom? Oh, let me grab some for you."

If any of us gets food poisoning from our mini-vacay, we know who to blame! HIGH PIE! 

Here's some photos to backup our story:

Employee left soapless restroom moments before touching this food

Mrs. Meyers soap bottle had no cap, dispenser, and was empty.

Automatic soap dispenser was completely empty.
On our way out, that bartender gave us the dirtiest look

Such a dirty look, it was a shame she had no soap. 

If in Telluride sometime, I can say the best things about Allred's, Smugglers, The Butcher & The Baker, and the Cornerhouse Grille. ALL great restaurants. With soap. 

As for High Pie, it's apparently a health hazard. 

Sure, I've had disappointing experiences at restaurants before and didn't need to write a blog post about it...but this one dropped the f-bomb at my mom for wanting to wash her hands. Unacceptable. 

No Cheers,

Friday, October 7, 2016

Swan Lake of Tears

Confession: I snap photos during curtain calls.
As someone who was raised by two theatre majors and did community and school theatre throughout my school years, I really do not get to go to the theatre enough. Poor me.

But this past week I got to go twice in the span of about 24 hours.

First, Justin and I went to Cabaret with our friend Michael from high school, at the Buell at the Denver Center for Performing arts {America's largest performing arts complex under one roof #hometownbrag}. We saw Cabaret for the first time in high school. With Mike. So fancy that. Cabaret is a sobering show. It stars off all tomfoolery and ends with a gasp.

Then, the next morning the girls and I had tickets to see Swan Lake performed by the Colorado Ballet at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, which literally shares a wall with the Buell Auditorium.

Credit: Artists of Colorado Ballet

This is one of the huge benefits of our "homeschool school," Options, through Aurora Public Schools. Options scored a section for the Colorado Ballet's final dress rehearsal, when the CO Ballet invites school groups to come watch for $10/ticket {typical prices are $50-$150} and they live stream their performance to children's hospitals and charities.

This is how we got to see the Alice in Wonderland ballet last spring too. I applaud the Colorado Ballet for hosting this arts event for the children. More of this!!

So Sander dropped us off and we found our seats, in the nosebleeds, but we still had a good view. Ellie Caulkins Opera House seats 2,200 people--most of whom that day were children, but you wouldn't know it. The kids, I tell you. They were on the edges of their seats for most of it. They clapped loudly when Odette delivered her 33 fouettes or the Prince jumped especially high. They love it. Two thousand kids sat nicely for a ballet performance.

Anyway, I hadn't seen Swan Lake yet but I know and love the music. Tchaikovsky is my absolute favorite composer ever. EVER. So romantic, so impassioned!

I adore Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. The Pas de Deux is the most heartbreaking romantic piece of music ever written by someone other than God himself. Uh. In my opinion. Tchaikovsky has this way of making me feel ALL THE EMOTIONS.

But back to Swan Lake.

This ballet isn't messing around. And Colorado Ballet may not be as famous as the fancy academy in New York, but I've watched the Russian Ballet's Nutcracker, Sweden's Royal Ballet Nutcracker, and the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker all on YouTube...and their set and costumes can't hold a candle to the Colorado Ballet's Nutcracker {which I've seen four times in person}. We have the best Mother Ginger, friends, by far.

But back to Swan Lake. Again.

Swan Lake is a ballet featuring four acts and two intermissions. It ran from 10:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. and it was just perfection.

The very last scene is, I've decided, my favorite part. No.29, the finale scene. The entire ballet is wrapped up in this piece. Despite being starving and sitting watching ballet for three hours, my girls were on the edge of their seats when No.29 panned out.

In the final scene, Odette {the Swan Queen, human by night, swan by day thanks to evil sorcerer Von Rothbart} throws herself off a cliff {in this version} in a fit of romantic, tragic, beautiful rage. By doing so she saves all the other swans from his spell. The Prince follows her to death all Romeo-style, and together they enjoy an apotheosis.

Now, that's too much for a kid to understand right? A five-year-old watching Swan Lake wouldn't really put all that together by interpreting dance and all.

Which is why it shocked me to look over at the most beautiful part of No.29 and see Violet had legit tears brimming up in her eyes, threatening to spill over.

I recovered from my shock, teared up myself--like a well--because my heart and ALL THE EMOTIONS, and leaned over and asked, "Are you crying?"

"No!" she said, looking slightly embarrassed. "My eyes are just tinkling!"

I've listened to No.29 several times over tonight and it gives me chills every time, so much so that I'm beginning to feel ill from all the chills.

I was telling my mom about Violet's ballet tears and she referenced the quote, "Music bypasses the intellect and speaks straight to the soul." Or something along those lines. So true, and I think I witnessed that with Violet at Swan Lake.

If you please, open this YouTube of No.29...

Skip ahead to 3:00 if you want the gist of the Swan Lake sound and feel. Starting at 1:25 is even better. Tell you recognize Swan Lake? Even if you don't think you'd know it, I bet you will recognize it. I can't listen to this music without making expressions on my face.

But wait around and keep listening until the last part, at 5:45, the very last minute of this 3 hour ballet, when the music changes delightfully to something less tragic and more hopeful, is around when I tore my eyes from the passionate scene I'd just witnessed and glanced at Violet, her eyes full to the brim with tears, staring at those dancers, entranced. It had gone to her soul, bypassing that intellect. Listen to this and imagine seeing that happen to your five year old... Tchaikovsky!
You flipping genius, you.

And between the music and the sight of my too-young-to-get-it daughter being moved, well, I became total milktoast and started mopping up my tears with my sleeve before the other parents noticed me. Violet and I, we were feeling ALL THE EMOTIONS. {Thanks, Tchaikovsky.}

Violet, by the way, is in her second semester of pre-ballet at the Colorado Ballet Academy. We're very proud of our tiny dancer, and while I've started to think she really could do well as a ballerina--as a hobby or whatever--this experience showed me she has the emotional of "what it takes" to feel the music and respond....with....ALL THE EMOTIONS! required for a dancer to understand in order to emote through her dancing.

Props to the Colorado Ballet for doing shows for school children. Props to the live orchestra that moved us to tears. And props to Mr. T for writing raw emotion in the forms of musical notes.

Heather {aka Emotionally Fragile Dance Mom}

Monday, October 3, 2016

Autumn Begins at Fairmount

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Yesterday I had two photo requests at the cemetery to fulfill, but upon entering the grounds I was distracted by two young bucks who were lounging in block 2. Frustrated with the quality of zoom photos on my Samsung smart phone, I took advantage of the Broncos game {no traffic} and rushed home to get my Nikon with my telephoto lens, hoping the bucks would still be there when I returned 15 minutes later.

They were. Bless! So while I eventually did find my photo requests, I also spent some time capturing what autumn looks like at Fairmount. Enjoy.

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

Deer at Fairmount Cemetery

I think I'm going to have to remember to take my Nikon to Fairmount more often.

Cheers to a bright autumn,

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Meow Wolf & House of Eternal Return

House of Eternal Return

Over breakfast in Santa Fe a couple weeks ago, my sister and her husband suggested we check out Meow Wolf, an art...experience that has recently opened. They talked it up something awful. Awfully wonderful. Britt and Noah aren't necessarily the types to talk places up enthusiastically without warrant. So, even though we'd originally planned a quick overnight visit for my niece's birthday, we decided Santa Fe was too great to eat and run. 

Meow Wolf it is.
We arrived to find a nondescript building with an arcade-inspired sign
and parking lot full of both cars and food trucks.
House of Eternal Return

What the heck is Meow Wolf? 
Meow Wolf describes itself as an immersive art experience. 
I'll say.
That's putting it rather lightly. 
To sum it up:
Meow Wolf is a company of artists that specializes in creating immersive art, while on the side they focus on bringing the children of New Mexico art education and exploration. Because the public schools there have basically abandoned this very important subject. So famous Santa Fe resident, George R.R. Martin {of Game of Thrones fame, as he wrote the books}, purchased a bowling alley that had been abandoned for years. He's long term leasing it to Meow Wolf in the name of art. So Meow Wolf now has 30,000+ square feet with which they've done something incredible. {Read George R.R. Martin's blog on the creating of Meow Wolf exhibit here.} While a good portion was used for a community art center, 20,000 square feet was used to create:

It opened in April of 2016.
This is where you buy tickets for it:
House of Eternal Return

Upon buying tickets, you are told, 
"Go anywhere. Touch everything."

So you head to the door for the exhibit, and find yourself walking through a dark hallway, through a door, and finding, well, THIS:
House of Eternal Return 

And I'm really going to try and hold back posting too many photos here. 
Because what starts out as a tour through a Victorian home in an abandoned bowling alley soon starts to turn into something much more wild. 
Beyond your dreams. 

House of Eternal Return 

Here's the thing about House of Eternal Return: 
It's immersive art. But also, like a jungle gym. 
And it's like a living mystery, too, because believe it or not, the whole exhibit tells a rather complex story about the family this house belongs to.

You're invited to stay all day, if you wish, and piece together what happened to this family. 
You can watch their videos, rummage through their mail, browse their computers, pull books off their shelves, rummage through kitchen cupboards, sit at their dining room table and pour over newspapers...
{This is the best review I've found in both describing the experience and also going into some detail about the House of Eternal Return family story.}

House of Eternal Return 

Or--and I recommend this version if you have kids with you, as we did--you can just start exploring. 

House of Eternal Return 

While the front of the house seems perfectly normal, as soon as you set foot in it, things start to become surreal. 

House of Eternal Return 

You might find yourself going through unexpected portals. 
Here's what's on the other side of that fireplace.
House of Eternal Return

After crawling through any given portal, you're not in a Victorian home anymore. 

House of Eternal Return

You might find yourself in what looks like a fish tank.

House of Eternal Return

Or a room with a mysterious beast.

House of Eternal Return

I want to say: this place is a bit Tim Burton at times, but 100% kid friendly. 
They've made an effort to make it not scary. 
This is no haunted house.
Just trippy as all get out.

House of Eternal Return

One minute you're invading a deserted dessert trailer home, and the next minute you're back in the hallway of the Victorian looking at family photos on the wall.

House of Eternal Return

Are you a snooper?
This place is your dream come true. 
Yeah, dig into those nightstands!

House of Eternal Return

Feel free to see what's on the family computer...

House of Eternal Return

Remember the ripples on the ceiling over the dining room? 
Same sort of ripples in the room right above it...what happened with the toilet?
Hint: if you lean over far enough, you can see what's in there.
{I think I'd have loved to be able to spend a day here putting together the family's story!}

House of Eternal Return

Ever been tempted to peek in someone's medicine cabinet?
Oh, come on! Admit it! 
Well, this one is certainly mysterious. 
Pills are falling into a Coraline-esque tunnel of pink fluff.

House of Eternal Return

Whenever you find yourself immersed in normalcy once again, all you need do is open a kid's closet door to find yourself back in someone's acid trip...

House of Eternal Return

On a catwalk, free to explore one of several tree house structures. 

House of Eternal ReturnHouse of Eternal Return

There is not an inch of this dreamworld that isn't covered in something to behold.

House of Eternal Return

So in case you were wondering exactly what "immersive art" meant.

House of Eternal Return

House of Eternal Return

And they meant it when they said touch everything, because you never know what might light up and change colors on you.

House of Eternal Return

You might turn around to find the aspens giving you the stink eye.

House of Eternal Return 

And this. Well, this sums up one hidden room we stumbled upon.
House of Eternal Return

Remember there's 20,000 square feet to explore here. Just when you think you've seen it all, you discover another portal, staircase, or doorway into something entirely different than where you just were. 

This area, which almost felt like the seedy area of Bangkok at night, is where local bands might be invited to play for a special Meow Wolf event.

House of Eternal Return

I really am holding back with the photos here. 
Just giving you a glimpse at the craziness. 
{If you want to see even more of my photos, you can visit my Flickr account.}
This blog post shows fewer than 1/3 of just my Meow Wolf photos.
I'm holding back in case you ever get to go.
I don't want to spoil it all, but I did want to show just how incredibly unique this place is!

House of Eternal Return

TV tunnel. 
Once I saw it, I realized I've always wanted to go through one.

House of Eternal Return

House of Eternal Return

Sometimes even the walls react to your touch.

House of Eternal Return

Or if you just want to sit down and play the grand piano, the staff will not stop you.

House of Eternal Return

My sister shared a rumor that they say there are rooms at House of Eternal Return that haven't even been discovered yet. I asked the girl who sold us our tickets if that was true
...she wouldn't give a clear answer.

House of Eternal Return

All ages are welcome at Meow Wolf.
My parents enjoyed themselves SO MUCH.
See for yourself:
House of Eternal Return

Like I said, portals and stairways lurk everywhere just waiting to be found.
I wasn't sure I was glad we found this incredibly claustrophobic spiral staircase.
It was not for the faint of heart. 
House of Eternal Return

House of Eternal Return

And then there was this stairwell, which led to...
House of Eternal Return

I just...I have no words for whatever this is.
House of Eternal Return

But here and there you find yourself back inside the house. And that's okay! There is no right or wrong way to travel through; this art experience is a choose-your-own-adventure.
House of Eternal Return

With three little ones in tow {DO bring kids, but know they could get lost so easily in here} we ended up staying and exploring about two hours. It was so worth the cost of tickets. I'd like to go back with just adults and try the storytelling/mystery side of it.

But we did enjoy experiencing some of the paranormal in the dining room before we left. 
House of Eternal Return

I read later there is a second floor window you can go through, and I regret that we didn't find that portal. Next time...
From upstairs, though, you can see the entrance/exit. Oh, see people going through the family's mail at the mailbox? Story to tell there...I'll get to that in a minute.
House of Eternal Return

When you're ready to go, you enter reality once again, maybe even with a sense of relief. 
House of Eternal Return

There are a few amazing sculptures in the parking lot, too.

I'm so happy Santa Fe has such an incredible, absolutely unique art experience to boast about.
Look, I'll stop short of saying you should make a special trip just to Santa Fe to see Meow Wolf...I won't be that dramatic.

However, if you were to visit Santa Fe and leave without seeing Meow Wolf and House of Eternal Return...that'd be a crying shame, man. A crying shame.
House of Eternal Return

So, now to explain the bomb threat story I mentioned weeks ago on Facebook...

While in House of Eternal Return, we all made some sardonic remarks--despite how amazing it was--that, man, we'd hate to be here when the fire alarms went off! The fact that this place even managed to pass code is in itself a modern marvel. 

But we survived the experience unscathed and with just as many children as we had going in. We left right after I'd taken  peek at the family mail in the mailbox in that third-to-last photo, remember that? After just seeing all 20,000 square feet of trippy non-sense, I wasn't trying to make sense of anything anymore. I picked up a pile of letters and opened the one on top. It looked like thank you note stationery. I read out loud what the handwritten message said.

It mentioned suicide bombers which I thought was rather dark, and exchanged confused glances with my family--our expressions all agreeing that it sounded cryptic. I don't remember what it said exactly, but I do remember thinking it must be a historical clue of some sort, a character's backstory. A staff member stood right next to us during this, I'll add.

I wasn't even going to try to make sense of all the letters when I hadn't been following the story all along anyway, plus a line of other guests was starting to form behind me, so I put them back and we joined my dad in the lobby to leave Meow Wolf at about 2 p.m.. Would never have thought anything of the letter if I hadn't seen the news that night...

Anyway, we visited the Plaza and went back to the hotel and out to eat, and got the kids to bed, and then I sneaked upstairs to my parent's hotel room where they had the end of the Olympics on the TV transitioning into the 10 p.m. news. It was then that we heard a report about Meow Wolf being evacuated after a supposed bomb threat in notes and clues left around the building! The very same day we'd visited. It was startling, and my mom quickly mentioned, "Didn't you read a note in the mailbox that mentioned suicide bombers?" Oh my gosh, I had! How crazy is that?! Without knowing details, hearing "Meow Wolf evacuated after bomb threats" was rather alarming! 

Happy to report, however, that this seems to all be at worst an elaborate, unfunny hoax and at best a misunderstood, silly addition to the exhibit. It took the staff to finally notice the cryptic messages weren't part of the exhibit. None of the fake clues read like an actual threat {according to updated news sources}, but one had the mention of suicide bombers in it, so in an abundance of caution, they shut down the place and searched for any legit threats. If anyone did mean it as a real fake threat, that's not cool. and that person is a turd. I really don't think there was any real threat in the first place. Not even as a cruel, sick joke.

All that to was just ironic that this happened a couple hours after we left, and after we'd been saying, "I'd hate to be here when the alarms went off!" ...only to find out later that exact thing happened. And that yours truly had unknowingly handled the note that would later summon the bomb squad.

In fact, huge props to the staff of Meow Wolf and the Santa Fe PD for taking even the slightest possible threat seriously and doing their due diligence! Glad it turned out to be nothing, but the response is impressive. I'm sure it's not likely to ever happen again. Meow Wolf is clearly a well loved Santa Fe attraction.

If you should ever get the chance to go to House of Eternal Return, DO.
Be sure to open the refrigerator. 


Blogging tips