At 4 p.m. today, after workers remove the pew cushions and burn some incense, the annual St. Francis Day Blessing of the Animals will commence at St. John's Cathedral, 1350 Washington Street.
"There's always a certain degree of joyful chaos because we get a wide variety of animals -- everything from dogs and cats to snakes and gerbils," says the Reverend Poulson Reed, who once blessed a baby elephant from the zoo. "We'll have a fairly short prayer service with some hymns, then go down the aisle and sprinkle holy water on the animals. One of the miracles in all of this is that all the animals seem to get along pretty well. It's certainly about the noisiest that the church ever gets."
That's especially true during a choral version of "All Creatures Great and Small," says Suzanne Cast, an administrative assistant for the music department. "When the choir sings, all of the dogs want to join in."
Joyful howling aside, representatives from the Denver Dumb Friends League will be on hand to collect donations of pet food and money and to arrange adoptions. A second blessing is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, October 4, in the Sheilagh R. Malo Pet Memorial Garden, 2080 South Quebec Street.
For more information, call St. John's at 303-831-7115. -- John La Briola
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there's no reason not to give nature a little help now and then. Tonight Dr.Gregory Buford is throwing a party just for our inner divas: Botox & Chocolate & Shoes, Oh My! The good doc will be at Englewood's Body by Buford from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., giving away tips and secrets for younger-looking skin as well as $50 gift certificates toward a Botox treatment. Of course, if you're of the old-school "I-don't-want-to-poison-my-face-into-submission" set, skip the botulism and enjoy chocolate martinis, decadent desserts and a trunk show of shoes by Colorado's own Kaazana Shoes. To help assuage at least a bit of the guilty pleasure, Kaazana is donating 10 percent of the sales to Volunteers of America. Body by Buford is located in Suite 200 of the Center for Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery, 125 Inverness Drive East. For more information or reservations, call 303-708-8234 or visit www.bodybybu ford.com. --Amy Haimerl
Harvest of Hope seeks to plant seeds in African schools.
Though Africa is thousands of miles from Denver, a Kenyan classroom will grow here for one night. The simulated schoolroom is part of tonight's Harvest of Hope benefit celebration and dinner, sponsored by the Rocky Mountain branch of the Church World Service at the Seawell Ballroom in the Denver Performing Arts Complex.
Starting at 5:30 p.m., visitors will be able to walk through a Kenyan market, experience an African head-wrapping ceremony and watch as dancers, singers and drummers re-create African traditions. Composer Tim Janis will also perform with a children's choir. Dinner is at 6:30.
Proceeds from tickets, $100 to $250, primarily benefit the School Safe Zones Program in Kenya, an outreach the Church World Service began this year in an attempt to shield Kenyan students from societal violence. Some funds will also go to the Raising Boys 2 Men program run by the It Takes a Village organization in metro Denver.
For more information, contact the Church World Service in Denver at 303-455-5765, or log on to www.harvestofhopecolorado.org. -- Ernie Tucker
You Auto Go
Author Michael Connelly shoots to thrill.
"Death is my beat. I make my living from it. I forge my professional reputation on it. I treat it with the passion and precision of an undertaker -- somber and sympathetic about it when I'm with the bereaved, a skilled craftsman with it when I'm alone. I've always thought the secret of dealing with death was to keep it at arm's length. That's the rule. Don't let it breathe in your face."
If former crime-beat journalist Michael Connelly hadn't already hooked every local mystery addict with his early novels featuring LAPD detective Hieronymus Bosch, he got the holdouts with that opening from The Poet, his 1996 thriller set in Denver, where reporter Jack McEvoy solved the mystery of his twin's murder. After that, Connelly returned to Los Angeles and Bosch, and his eleventh novel featuring the cop -- The Closers -- debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list this past May.
Now Connelly's back with The Lincoln Lawyer, a legal thriller featuring a new cast of characters, including defense attorney Mickey Haller, a Beverly Hills playboy and the Lincoln Town Cars that not only serve as Haller's office, but also play a part in the mystery. Connelly will discuss and sign the book at three bookstores today: noon at High Crimes Mystery Bookshop (946 Pearl Street in Boulder, 303-443-8346), 5:30 p.m. at Murder by the Book (1574 South Pearl Street, 303-871-9401), and 7:30 p.m. at Tattered Cover Cherry Creek (2955 East First Avenue, 303-322-7727). -- Patricia Calhoun