Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Winner

The winner of my highly scientific random drawing for a Be Local Coupon Book is Kerrie. Thanks for playing, everyone!

Friday Mystery Photo

Last week's photo was the footbridge leading to the Rolland Moore Tennis Courts:

Where in Fort Collins was this week's picture taken?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Week 15: Beauty School Haircut

I’ve noticed that a lot of women are sporting really cute short haircuts as of late. I think about doing the same from time to time, but I know I can’t commit to a hairstyle that needs trimming every four to six weeks. But even free-range hair such as mine needs occasional cutting to keep it from going completely feral—a look not many women can pull off. Normally, I would schedule an appointment with my regular stylist, but where’s the adventure in that?

Instead, I opted for—say it with me in your best Amy Poehler voice—beauty school, y’all! (I don’t know why I imagine Amy saying it, but it would be funny if she did.) The Hair Dynamics Education Center (located at 6464 South College Avenue) has been training Northern Colorado hairstylists for 25 years. I figured it was time I paid them a visit.

It was a busy place at 10:00 on Friday morning, which I took as a positive sign. I had made an appointment and didn’t have to wait long at all for my stylist-in-training. (I won’t use her name because I didn’t tell her I’d be writing about her. I didn’t want to make her nervous.) She ushered me to my chair, and we had a quick talk about what I wanted, which was pretty simple—the same, but shorter.

The hairstylist program at Hair Dynamics is 40 credits/1200 hours. For the first three months, the students work on human-hair head mannequins before moving on to real live clients. My stylist was nearing the end of her program, which increased my comfort level a bit. She was very friendly, with the kind of demeanor that will serve her well in her chosen profession. (I’m always surprised when I run across a stylist who seems incapable of making casual conversation.) Her skill level was up to the task, but she did seem tentative at times, especially when trimming my bangs. Honestly, I’ve never held so still in my life as I did when those scissors were near my eyes.

"Just a trim today. But leave enough length to hide my severed neck."

When she was finished, she brought over an instructor, who examined and signed off on the final result. I was not offered the chance to use a hand mirror to look at the back of my head. But I did that when I got home, and it was fine.

A note about ambience: this is not a gurgling-fountain/glass-of-wine/spa-salon type of experience. It’s a big place with many people talking at once and announcements made over a loudspeaker. And, like any training facility, I’m sure it’s a crap-shoot. Some trainees probably don’t make the grade. But my haircut was definitely not the worst I’ve ever had, and at a pre-tip price of $8.50, I can’t complain.

Giveaway reminder: Leave a comment at Monday’s post for a chance to win a Be Local Northern Colorado Coupon Book!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Be Local Coupon Book Giveaway

The holiday shopping season is almost officially here. I'm so excited to use my new Be Local Northern Colorado Coupon Book that I decided to give one away, too. There are dozens of great coupons for restaurants, coffee shops, retail, massages, pet care, recreation, health and fitness, gardening, entertainment, and various helpful consultations. And it's all local. (Take that, Gold C!) Coupons don't expire until September 1, 2011, so you have plenty of time to take advantage of all the fabulous deals.

It's a $15 value for a whopping $6000 in savings. (I promise I won't tear out my favorite coupons first.)

Leave me a comment by 5:00 MST Thursday evening telling me you'd like to be entered in the random drawing. I'll post the winner on Friday, along with this week's mystery photo.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Fun: Famous Faces

Match the famous Fort Collins face with the name. Shown below, in no particular order, are: Ansel Watrous, first newspaperman; Antoine Janis, early settler; Joseph E. Mason, first postmaster; Franklin C. Avery, early resident and bank president; and Lt. Col. William Oliver Collins, for whom Fort Collins was named. For more historic photos, please visit the extensive online archives of the Fort Collins History Connection. (Scroll down to the bottom for answers.)

Friday Mystery Photo:

Last week's picture was taken in the atrium of the Harmony Library. (Forest Light, George Peters, Boulder, CO 1999)

Where in Fort Collins was this week's picture taken?

Answer: The gents are, from top to bottom: Avery, Mason, Janis, Collins, Watrous

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Week 14: Cyclocross

I’m usually pretty secure in my Choice City native-hood. I know my way around, I used to shop at the original Steele’s Market on Mountain Avenue, and I can bore anyone with stories of how far out of town Harmony Road used to be. But there’s one thing that always makes me feel as though I should turn in my Colorado-lifer card.

The athlete factor.

We’ve got a lot of them here, folks, and I’m not referring to the arm-chair types who play a little softball on occasion. I mean the hard-core, outdoorsy ones who climb and ski and run and bike and kayak. Who aren’t breathing unless they’re breathing hard. Who buy their apparel at Jax and drive Subarus with at least one big friendly dog in the back.

I am not one of those people. I think the athlete gene in my family gene pool dried up generations ago. I do love the outdoors, and I like to ride my bike and hike and walk my own big friendly dog. But I’m not very competitive, and I’ve never trained for much of anything. (I have, however, carbo-loaded on more than a few regrettable occasions.)

But my general wimpiness doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate watching serious athletes do their stuff, which is why I went to see Saturday’s women’s elite race of the Greenware U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross. The 2010 Gran Prix is a four-weekend, eight-race series including The Planet Bike Cup in Madison, WI; The Derby City Cup in Louisville, KY; our own New Belgium Cup; and The Stanley Portland Cup in Portland, OR. (Kudos to New Belgium and our community for bringing this event to town.)

Being unfamiliar with Cyclocross, I was glad I learned a little beforehand, namely that (from the USGP website) “Cyclocross is a fall/winter, on-road/off-road cycling discipline held on a looped circuit of approximately 1-2 miles. Cyclocross racers navigate mud, sand, pavement, grass, gravel, pasture, and mulch. When the terrain is too steep to ride or they are confronted by a standard set of wooden barriers, riders dismount, shoulder their bikes and run.”

They shoulder their bikes and run? Really?

Yes, indeed.

The track was muddy, the gray sky spit out the occasional snowflake, and the temps were in the low 40s. From what I gather, those were perfect conditions for Cyclocross. Even though I was a newbie, I had a great time hanging out with a thousand or so cycling fans (and some big friendly dogs) and cheering on the riders. The event was free, and the competition was truly world-class. But I do wish I would have thought to bring my cowbell.

Visit the Coloradoan Photo Gallery for many excellent photos of the races.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fashion

Victorian Fashions are the focus of the Avery House exhibits until September of next year. The current display (which ends November 21) is "Inside Out: The Art of Victorian Garment Construction." Beginning November 27, the exhibit will be "East Meets West: The Striffler Family Collection," featuring garments recently donated to the Poudre Landmarks Foundation by Fort Collins resident Carlota Striffler. The Avery House is open from 1-4 on Saturdays and Sundays. For a look at more vintage fashions, including the picture at left of Mattie Russ and Myrtle Freeman (circa 1900), visit the online fashion archive of the Fort Collins History Connection.

Just a reminder about the Fort Collins Stories Giveaway. Send in your Fort Collins story for a chance to win.

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend.

Friday Mystery Photo
Last week's picture was the fountain/birdbath thing in front of the Avery House.

Where in Fort Collins was this week's picture taken?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Week 13: Balloon Twisting 101

If you’re a caregiver of a child under the age of 10 or so, you know the balloon twisters. They're found at festivals, restaurants, and holiday parties, always surrounded by a mob of kids that would make Dora the Explorer jealous. They inflate and twist over and over again, until as many children as possible have their hearts’ desires, be they flower hats, dinosaurs, or pirate swords.

My record as place-holder for my boys in a balloon line is forty-five minutes. I have a short attention span, and I’m not sure I would wait that long for a chance to have Sting perform at my birthday party. But such is the popularity of the balloon twisters.

I went in search of a little of that balloon mystique at the Balloon Twisting 101 class offered through the City of Fort Collins Recreator. The class was taught by Renee Cohn Jones, a.k.a. Jalapena the Clown, who has a doctorate in psychology and the perfect temperament for this type of work. From her, the small-but-enthusiastic class learned the cardinal rule of balloon twisting, which is (take a guess):

a) Always inflate balloon before knotting the end;
b) Do not eat fried chicken while twisting;
c) Use an air pump to avoid risk of unconsciousness;
d) NEVER give a balloon to a child under the age of 3

I imagine that a-c are important pointers, but the correct answer is d. Latex balloons are a choking hazard and are never to be given directly to young children. The balloon should be handed to the responsible adult, who is also cautioned to make sure the child doesn’t put the balloon in his/her mouth.

Having taken care of that most important point of business, we started twisting.

My first dog. Okay, so the proportions were a little off.

Dog #2...better!


You've never seen a pink giraffe?

The mouse and the elephant. (Of course it's an elephant. Can't you see how scared it is of the mouse?)

My favorite...the hummingbird.

Balloon twisting requires patience, tireless hands, and the kind of creativity that can make a child's balloon wish come true. And the willingness to wear a silly hat probably doesn't hurt, either.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Five

It's Friday, November 5th--a perfect day for a Friday Five. Here are five of my favorite places to walk in Fort Collins:

Mountain Avenue:
My best friend and I used to walk down to Woolworth's on the corner of College and Mountain (where Austin's restaurant is now).

Around the lake at City Park:

Anywhere along the Poudre River Trail:

Old Town:

Cathy Fromme Prairie:

Friday Mystery Photo:
Last week's picture was taken at Whole Foods.

Where in Fort Collins was this week's picture taken?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Week 12: Organ Extravaganza

I admit it—I’m a Hallo-weenie. I’m easily startled (I suspect I’m distantly related to those fainting goats), and I have zero appetite for blood and guts. But I do like a little shiver on Halloween and decided to see if I could find one at the CSU School of the Arts 5th Annual Halloween Organ Extravaganza.

CSU’s famed Casavant Organ (at left) was built for the music building in 1968, thanks to the efforts of late professor emeritus Robert Cavarra. The massive instrument has 2,096 pipes, a 56-note keyboard, a 32-note pedal board, and 34 stops. After lengthy and painstaking cleaning and restoration, the organ was reassembled in its new home in the Organ Recital Hall at the University Center for the Arts—which I will always know as the “old Fort Collins High School”—and had its UCA debut in February, 2009.

After handing out candy to the neighborhood goblins, I wore my best rags—mummy–style, of course—down to the UCA for the 9:00 show. At the opening notes of the seasonal standard Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in d minor (for a fun look and listen, click here), I found my shiver. And a few goosebumps, as well.

Who's yo' mummy?

Mozart called the organ the “king of instruments” for good reason. Organs produce an astounding range of sounds--delicate and whimsical, or powerful enough to vibrate bone marrow. (Learn more about the mechanics here). I have trouble walking and chewing gum, and I can’t imagine the coordination needed to master an instrument that requires the simultaneous participation of both hands and both feet. But that was not a problem for the ten fantastically talented CSU organ students, some of whom are in just their first semester under the instruction of Dr. Joel Bacon, Assistant Professor of Organ and Harpsichord, and Stewart and Sheron Golden Chair of Organ and Liturgical Studies (whew...say that three times fast).

Dr. Joel "Sunny-Side Up"Bacon

The CSU Faculty Brass Quintet was also on hand to perform Through the Haunted Carnival. This "Hallows Eve Medley" (comp. Nicole Buetti) had me picturing red-eyed carousel horses and creepy clowns (but I think all circus clowns are kind of creepy). The Quintet followed up with the familiar-but-fun “Night on Bald Mountain.”

Monday's headline:
"Trumpet Player Blows Top"

The performance appeared to be a sell-out, and the “wildly popular” concert will no doubt return next year. What better way to celebrate my new Halloween philosophy: organs = bad; organ music = good!