Imagine what life would be like if it were more like TV commercials, where an offhand remark about your kids to your hairstylist would summon up your personal self-help guru bearing armloads of books she wants you to read. Actually, life is like that, if you get your 'do done at one of the beauty salons on Charlene Ferguson's regular Saturday route. Sista's in the Spirit is a one-woman lending library that's filled with titles from a 400-volume collection and set up in salons in Brighton, Park Hill and Five Points. The dynamic Ferguson found the power of books during the toughest times in her own life, and she now shares that power with others in need at no charge.
The typical managed-care office visit doesn't leave much time for the kind of small talk that can reveal otherwise overlooked symptoms of serious conditions, especially with elderly patients who don't like to complain. The patients of geriatric specialist Dr. John Scott now receive the benefit of an hour-long group visit once a month, where they learn about their multiple illnesses, get their prescriptions refilled and have their general questions answered. That leaves time for one-on-one visits with anyone who needs more care. Dr. Scott isn't accepting new patients at the moment, but other physicians might be open to new ideas in treating older people.


A trip to the hospital isn't supposed to be a day at the spa, but it doesn't have to be dreadful, either. Longmont United Hospital was named "A Hospital With a Heart" last year, for good reason: Family kitchens and dining rooms, quiet rooms for meditation, and health-education libraries on every floor are just some of the amenities available to patients. Non-traditional treatments such as massage and acupuncture are also available to make patients feel a little bit pampered.


Talk about a stirring story! Every Friday afternoon, volunteer Marty Slattery sets up shop at the Hospice of St. John, dispensing cocktails and comfort to the terminally ill. Back in the days when he was a drinker, Slattery tended bar; when he needed to fulfill a community-service requirement, he came up with the cocktail concept. Today it's a real public service. Slattery's even written a novel based on his experiences, the self-published The Cocktail Cart.


You thought the ATM next to the checkout was convenient. Now you can fill up on your way out of the parking lot at King Soopers and City Market locations across the state. Parent company Kroger has been pumping petroleum products from mini-convenience stores since 1998; the metro Denver area now has eight locations. Use your Sooper Card for a three-cent-per-gallon discount, too.
Not only is Compass building goodwill with ATM users by not soaking them for fees (even if they aren't Compass customers!), but they tend to offer more pleasant surroundings for the cash-hungry on the move. This drive-through is well-designed, clean, well-lit and nicely landscaped. If only they'd plant a money tree, it would be ideal.

Anyone who's shopped for floor coverings recently knows they usually come in two types: the wrong color that fits your space perfectly, or the perfect pattern that's only two feet too wide for your room. You can find the third type -- exactly what you want in exactly the size you need -- at Allure Custom Rugs. For more than a dozen years, owner Avner Giladi and his artisans have been transforming individual designs into custom rugs. The carpets, available only through interior designers, take about two months to create and are never of the fourth type: cheap. Most cost between $40 and $90 per square foot, depending on the design. The rest of us can watch the rugs take shape with a tour of the Allure factory; call for an appointment.


Step up to a custom look in your little log cabin with a handcrafted spiral or curved stairway from StairMeister, a Boulder company that has carved out a niche business by offering replacement stairways for the standard steps included in most log-home kits. Tad and Kimberly Horning's shop off U.S. 36 turns out the designer staircases, which run between $3,000 and $20,000, for delivery to all fifty states.


Denver's Home Improvement Thrift Store is a fabulous community resource on many levels. It recycles usable building materials not accepted by regular thrift stores, so it's good for the environment. It sells building materials (everything including the kitchen sink) for up to 70 percent less than even big-box discounters, so it's good for your remodeling budget. Bud's Warehouse also provides job-training opportunities for individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction or prison records, employing the formerly unemployable and helping them get on with life, so it's good for society, too. Stop by the warehouse, in the historic 1881 Colorado Ironworks building (five blocks north of Coors Field), and say hi to Bud.
A sharp tool is a safe tool. The guys at Schlosser Tool & Machinery have been keeping Denver woodworkers sawing safely for more than half a century. Bring your old hand blades -- saws, chisels, augers, anything but power tools -- to the service department and get them spiffed up for a whole new lifetime of service. It's a sharp idea.


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