So I said that I owe you, but really I owe me, a something new this week. Here it is. I learnt all about a woman called Margaret (Molly) Brown. But first I visited the Denver Cat Company. It’s a cafe, with cats. How can you go wrong?
Well they do go a little pear shaped – the coffee is not good. The place is great, lots of nice couches, lots of hidey holes for cats. It didn’t stink like 10 odd cats in a room could. There are four cats in the below photo, can you spot them?
I think I managed to catch the look of disdain on blackies face. He was a beautiful cat but not at all social. The fluffy I called Diva. She was hanging around wanting attention but then she’d snap and decide nope, I’m going to scratch you instead. The kitten was a sweetheart, once I picked her up off a chair she learnt I only wanted a cuddle and was perfectly happy snuggling and snoozing.
I recommend the cat cafe if you don’t need great coffee and you like a relax with some cats. Might be a regular visit for me while I’m without animals in my life. That one is still up for debate, I really want a pet but will my lifestyle support it?
I met a lovely couple of people who were also interested in cuddling the kitten. Mum and Isabella. Mum (I didn’t get her name, tsk) is an Aussie, but had been in London for 24 years and now Miami for three years. She is an artist, though had recently built a house on reclaimed land in Miami – doesn’t seem like the easiest thing to do when the primary language there sounds to be Spanish. Anyways, they are in Denver to visit the Colorado universities for Isabella who wants to study Political Science. They highly recommended a trip to Boulder to tour the town, visit a restaurant called The Sink, and catch the bus tour of the town as it tells all sorts of fun stories. I recommended a trip to National Western (of course), and they jumped at that – they didn’t seem keen on the shopping alternative they’d previously decided on and have a history of travelling and seeing rodeos.
Wandering along Tennyson street I found this cool art and an almost complete knight in a front yard!
My next stop for the day was the Molly Brown museum. I got distracted on the way with lunch…I think I managed to find the busiest Cafe in town. So waiting for food for lunch….
It was a decent sandwich with sweet potato fries which were, to be honest, the highlight. I’d go back there at a less busy time – the food took quite some time to get out, a full restaurant with a waiting queue and a new chef will do that I guess.
*****NEW THING NO.3*****
“I am a daughter of adventure. This means I never experience a dull moment and must be prepared for any eventuality . . . That’s my arc, as the astrologers would say. It’s a good one, too, for a person who had rather make a snap-out than a fade-out of life.”
The Denver Post | August 1923
The Molly Brown House! So I have never heard of Molly Brown. I have never heard of Margaret Brown, the lady’s real name. As it turns out Molly Brown because famous from the musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Apparently Margaret was never known as Molly in her life, it wasn’t until the musical was written when the author decided that Margaret didn’t rhyme with anything so he called her by her ‘nickname’ Molly despite that she was never known by in her life. Funny stuff that.
I warn you that I’ve gone a bit quote mad in this one. The lady who toured us around the house threw out many many quotes. I jotted down bits of them and have managed to find a few of them on the Google: the rather make a snap-out than a fade-out of life was my favourite. Luckily for Margaret Brown, that came true. Margaret Brown died at the ripe old age of 65 – maybe. We know her year of death was 1932, but apparently over the years she quoted her year of birth as being anything from 1967 (the year of her baptism and therefore widely considered her year of birth) to 1973. Her age was none of anyone’s business. Her autopsy showed that she died of a brain tumour, she’d had migraines the previous few months but had put it down to old age. Isn’t it interesting how in less than 100 years our perception of old age has changed so dramatically. 65 is practically middle aged these days!
So the house has been restored over the last fifty years after being used as a boarding house and a home for delinquent teenage girls. It was built in 1889 for $100,000. When JJ Brown struck it rich in the mines of Leadville (sp?) his dear wife Margaret decided she wanted a house in the capital city of Colorado, so she found and bought the house in Denver for $30,000. It lost a hell of a lot of value in the great silver crash. I haven’t yet been to the Colorado History Museum (its on the list), but I guess that Colorado used to supply 60% of the silver to the US mint – all of the silver from Colorado. Then one day the USA stopped buying silver and Colorado crashed. As did the value of the house. Margaret Brown lived there until she died in October 1932. It took her children a full year to sell the house and then it went for $5,000 – it was the great depression after all. Funny thing about her last days – she bought this beautiful timber encased radio in September 1932, then died in October 1932, the poor woman didn’t get a chance to listen to the fancy new radio as it wasn’t delivered until after her death! The radio was listened to and owned by the daughter for quite some time, then eventually her kids kids (or something like that) donated it to the house.
Sorry – I got distracted there – back to the house restoration. Interestingly, and fortuitously for the restorers, Margaret Brown had the forethought to have the rooms of her house photographed relatively regularly, she even wrote the colour schemes on the backs! Seems she’d planned to donate the house to the Denver Arts Society, though that didn’t ever happen. It was very useful when the current foundation purchased the house as it meant that the things that had been painted or changed could be restored to what they were when Margaret Brown lived there.
“Money can’t make a man or woman . . . It isn’t who you are, nor what you have, but what you are that counts.”
The Denver Post | April 1912
The house is fairly opulent. But also done in a fairly economical way. Foe example where there was fancy wall work which looked like pressed metal she had selected a plaster option and painted over a metallic paint. Has the look of fancy pressed metal but with hugely reduced prices. Win for them. Margaret Brown did like displaying the most fashionable of everything. Including various items from her travels, she strategically placed these such that they would be talking points for guests. The bear rug in the photo below is called Bernard, it was one of the first gifts that Mr Brown gave to Mrs Brown after their marriage. The second photo is the only room that Mr Brown was allowed to decorate – his study. The third is part of the modern conveniences of the house at that time, running water and electricity. It was interesting that the lighting was super dim, even in the library. Turns out that Margaret Brown had a rational dislike for open flames, though there were four coal fireplaces that were there for the prestige of being able to buy as much coal as they like. While in Leadville there had been a fire in town and their house had lost a wall, she’d had to flee the house with her children under her arms, so she did not like open flames at all.
The Titanic link – she was very well travelled and when the engines didn’t turn on after the jolt of hitting the iceberg, so Margaret Brown got prepared. She had on seven layers of leggings and her warmest clothes with her pockets stuffed with all her cash and jewellery when the porters came to evacuate first class just as a precaution. She knew it was no precaution. When she headed down to the evacuation area she noted that most of the lifeboats were barely full, so she loudly told the guys how to do their job. Her reward – being picked up and dropped off the ship down to one of the already lowering lifeboats. She didn’t hit anyone when she landed in the boat – proof that the space was significantly underutilised. Astonishing. For 20 odd years after the sinking, Margaret Brown was an advocate for people who were having troubles after the incident. This is an amusing quote given the list of clothes Margaret Brown submitted to her insurers after the Titanic sinking. Most insurers didn’t pay as it was considered an act of god, Margaret Brown was also not paid and subsequently didn’t get travel insurance ever again.
“Really, we think too much about too many clothes. If you have only one suitable gown for each occasion, it saves no end of worry.”
to Denver Post reporter | April 1912
Margaret Brown was a pretty fascinating woman.
She spoke six languages fluently, and at the time that the Titanic sunk she had conversational level Russian – she was the only one on the boat who spoke any Russian so she became the advocate for the Russians. They even stayed with her in her hotel suite while they sorted out a new life in the USA. She’d been studying languages while in Leadville, hiring tutors to come and teach her. When they got lucky and became rich she convinced one of the east coast colleges (I can’t remember which, but think prestigious and elitist). She convinced them that their exclusion of women was wrong and they should teach her. They accepted her but didn’t accept any other women for years after she finished up.
Phew – for a one hour tour of the house I sure learnt a heck of a lot!
I guess I didn’t tell you anything about work this week. I moved desks on Wednesday, I’m now in a nice dark corner which is in the process of getting lighting. It’s not bad really. The estimating team is hiring people left right and centre so both Chad and I got booted from their room. Pity, there was a nice buzz and constant flow of people there, but I’ll get used to it in the new corner with the new people. My neighbour is a bloke called Morgan, he’s of Pat Mitchell’s generation, they know each other from way back by the sound of it. Morgan has been in and out so I’ve not chatted much. Watch this space, we all know how I love stories from the older generations.
Speaking if older generation, we had a bloke by the name of Dan come in this week. He’s one of the old timers who still works with us on a casual basis. Lovely guy, been there, seen and built everything with hydropower. He’s estimating one of the jobs we’re bidding here in Colorado. Dan flew in from a place called Hells Canyon. He’d been up from 0300 on the tractor clearing the snow from his drive so he could get to the airport, he was overjoyed when I pointed out the coffee machine to him 🙂 Dan has a saw mill on his place so he potters around with milling wood when he’s not playing at making his own rum and surviving in the extreme weather he seems to have. Apparently when he was building a hydropower plant in Hells Canyon it was 130•F, then in the evenings it was less than freezing. That would not be fun when you’re trying to work.
Hmmm, the only other thing happening at work was that we had one proposal no-go’ed, then within twenty four hours they go’ed it. Really now, that is just infuriating. I guess it is better than the no goes because we’re still in the running – can’t win if you don’t play – but it is quite confusing. I get the feeling that these guys have yet to define precisely what we are and are not planning to bid on. And if we do bid, who has responsibility for what roles. It is all very frustrating, but I guess they’ll work it out and pass the info down the line eventually. I’ve been tasked with trying to work on the who does what, one of the first things I was asked to work on was a flow chart of how we get these bids from request for proposal to submitting the bid, then defining who is responsible for each step. Pity the only person who has looked at it and made comments is Mark. I had an initial conversation with Melinda (BD Manager), but the only one who has done anything since then (about two weeks) is Mark. I hugely appreciate that he makes the effort to review and / or get back to me about the work that I do. Makes me feel much more useful and like the time I spend on things isn’t wasted.
It seems I’m in quote mode today. I have been enjoying reading Grandma Lins blog, she has a perfect concept – to write her stories down if not for her children, then for her children’s children. She says “one day all my blather will be treasured by my progeny”, perfect concept, I wish more older people would write their stories. The above post has a couple of pearlers!
And finally, a little celebration. Today is three months since my surgery. When I was talking to mum this evening I realised that I guess today is three months and one day thanks to the date line, but the gist is there. I have managed to get through three months after the hysterectomy and I didn’t go too terribly insane nor have I ballooned into a fat desk worker. I have been getting back into running and exercising, starting gently and intentionally limiting myself with the gym that is available at Bridgwater (there is no squat rack and no bar for deadlifts). My advice to anyone who has the time to prepare – get strong and fit before you do the surgery…I attribute my great recovery to an awesome surgeon, great people looking after me in the first six weeks of recovery, and my general strength and fitness. So there you have it – yay to three months!
So, how did you like two posts this week? I had a chat with mum today – seems she goes to almost extraordinary lengths to read my posts in peace, including stopping at the top of the road on the way home from work to read it so she doesn’t get distracted with Steve and life when she gets home. Thank you for appreciating my efforts mum! But really, I hope you all enjoy this double post. Not sure what I’ll do next week, call it a surprise, for you and me 🙂