People collect the oddest things: photographs of WWII bombings of Papua New Guinea, salt shakers, monk figurines. Despite the time, effort and money involved in acquiring such collections, however, they're usually doomed to mantelpieces and basement shelves, never to be seen by anyone but an eccentric grandmother or a nosy neighbor -- until the inevitable estate sale.
Unless, of course, the collector has been in touch with the Arapahoe County Library District. Several of the county's branches offer display cases that are open to any resident who wants to share his or her passion with the public; the exhibits change every month.
"The library's main purpose has always been to build stronger relations with the community," says Padma Polepeddi, a librarian at Koelbel Main Library, 5955 South Holly Street in Centennial, which has four six-foot-high, three-shelved glass cases that are available for presentations. "This was one way to do that. In the library, we have people of all ages come in every day, and they stop and look at the collections."
Past showings have included political campaign buttons, Venetian masks, eighteenth-century Spanish coins, demitasse cups and, yes, those photos of Papua New Guinea. Since the program was introduced a dozen years ago, "we've never had a month when a case was empty," says Polepeddi. "All of our cases are booked way in advance. I already have people lined up for next year." On display at Koelbel through the end of this year: G.I. Joe action figures, Sesame Street toys, and bug and nature specimens. To get your collection in the 2005 lineup, call the Koelbel branch at 303-220-7704. -- Caroline Bankoff
Kvelling With Pride
A Jew lonely on Christmas? Not on your life: We go to the movies. We order Chinese. We bid our gentile friends a gut yontiff, ho, ho, ho, and then we dress to the nines and go to the Gefilte Fest (or the Matzoh Ball, or whatever the heck they want to call it) to kibitz with fellow Members of the Tribe. Tradition!
Shmooze away: L'Chaim, Colorado's Jewish singles resource, again hosts this year's party, a Las Vegas-style gaming night and dance, tonight from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Walnut Foundry Event Center, 3002 Walnut Street. Admission is $10 in advance ($15 at the door); for reservations, call 303-316-6480 or visit www.jewishcolorado.org/jlink. -- Susan Froyd
Quiche cravings lead to a new business
Bonnie Smith is a big woman who will talk your ear off if you let her, and she makes some of the most killer quiche you'll ever taste. It's reason enough to visit her quiche kitchen, tucked away just south of the old Gates Rubber factory, at 1176 South Cherokee Street.
Smith's journey began several years ago when she came up with an admittedly odd idea: to sell quiche at the local farmers' markets, thereby putting her gifts for gab and quiche-baking to work in an entrepreneurial setting. And it worked. "I get to bring my food to the people," says Smith, who does fourteen markets a week during the summer. But winters were bleaker for her, despite a healthy catering business.
"People wanting our products would go into a panic around October," she explains. "I'd end up meeting them in parking lots just so they could buy my quiches." So last year she gathered some fellow vendors together to form Goodness to Go, an off-season showcase for Colorado-made products -- everything from herbal bath bags to goat cheese to Minnie Beasley's Almond Lace Cookies -- from November until April. "I'll be open right up until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve and again on the Monday after," Smith promises. So what are you waiting for?
For information, call 303-289-4393 or go to www.quichefactory.com. -- Susan Froyd
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Bell-ringer wrings lemonade out of lemons
Robert Gift likes to find the perfect song for every occasion, and as the City and County Building's self-anointed bell-ringer, he has proven himself an apt clocktower DJ. Once, when Mayor Peña walked out of the building surrounded by politicians, Gift broke out "Send in the Clowns." He made the day for a couple on a tandem bike with his carillon rendition of "Bicycle Built for Two."
His tune-selecting ability is all the more impressive when you realize that playing the mammoth bells -- the largest of the ten weighs two and a half tons -- is, in his words, like "playing a little toy piano with the black notes painted on. If only we had an F sharp," Gift sighs. "A C sharp would be nice, too." But Gift is the first to admit that the 1932-vintage bells -- which, he says, had lain dormant for decades until he rediscovered them while sweeping the building's chimneys in the late '70s -- are best left in their imperfect, antiquated state. "It would take the uniqueness out of our bells to properly tune them," he says.
Denverites will get to hear that uniqueness in the atonal, note-missing magic that Gift skillfully coaxes out of the chimes around dusk every year during the yuletide season. Crane your ear toward the courthouse to hear holiday tunes along with other favorites. -- Adam Cayton-Holland