Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Poop de Doo

We Fort Collins residents love our dogs. But you may have noticed that some dog owners apparently don’t love cleaning up after their dogs. My old dog and I find at least one abandoned poo on our daily walk—a fact which she appreciates more than I do. Perhaps those dog owners want to show up Jerry Seinfeld, who said, "Dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them's making a poop, the other one's carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge?"

But not everyone is content to let sleeping poo lie. Sue Carroll--Owner, Chef, and Biscuitologist of Bones Du Jour--organizes the annual Poop de Doo cleanup at Spring Canyon Dog Park. I had wanted to attend last year’s inaugural event, but I wasn’t able to make it. (Please follow this link to see photographer Heidi Muller’s pictures from 2010.) So I'm glad I had the chance to join in the aptly named Poop de Doo #2. Get it? Number Two. Isn’t that funny? (Insert cricket chirp here.)

Where does one get a feces license?

Thanks to my uncanny mother’s intuition, I knew better than to ask my boys to spend their first Saturday morning after back-to-school picking up poo left by strange dogs. After all, they can go to the backyard and pick up their own dog’s poo any old time. But on my way out the door, I asked my husband if he’d come along so I’d have someone to talk to. And he agreed to join me. (No, he has not recently suffered a head injury.) I’m so glad he did, because he has a great sense of humor and wields a mean pooper-scooper—two excellent qualities for a partner in a poop-scooping event…and, come to think of it, for a life partner in general

We began in the grassy area outside the dog park. It was kind of like an Easter egg hunt, except with turds instead of eggs. But that didn’t stop me from channeling my inner egg-hunting child and exclaiming “there’s one!” every time I spotted an anonymous dog’s little present peeking out from the grass. Perhaps this goes without saying, but we got a few strange looks from the Alzheimer’s Walk participants passing by, who no doubt thought we were part of a county work release program.
Scooping our first quarry

After a thorough sweep of the area, we headed for ground zero inside the confines of the dog park. Spring Canyon is a big, well-attended park, and I’m sure even the most diligent owner’s dog has left behind the occasional stealth poo. We did our best to find them, and an hour of scooping netted at least three pounds' worth...and one cleverly hidden rubber dog turd which earned us a gift certificate for The Cupboard. That’s right, there were prizes! And goody bags, and tennis balls for the dogs, and Sue’s amazing dog treats.

Our haul
Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's rubber.

Hats off to Sue for turning a necessary chore into a fun community get-together. She hopes that future events will include simultaneous cleanups at all the local dog parks. It’s a great idea because, face it, dogs can do a lot of things, but picking up their own poo isn’t one of them. At least that’s what my dog tells me

Why, hello there!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Fun Facts

For your Friday, here are some fun facts about our great state of Colorado. (I assume they’re true, as they come from the Colorado Tourism Office.):

--The world’s largest flat-top mountain is in Grand Mesa.
--Colfax Avenue in Denver is the longest continuous street in America.
--Ouray is home to the world’s first ice-climbing park, which opened in 1995.
--At 10,430 feet, Leadville is the country’s highest incorporated city.
--The Stegosaurus is the Colorado State Fossil.
--Colorado has 54 fourteeners and the highest mean altitude of any state.
--Glenwood Springs is home to the world’s largest natural hot springs pool.
--The Kit Carson County Carousel in Burlington is the oldest wooden merry-go-round in the country and the only one with its original paint.
--The Colorado state insect is the Hairstreak Butterfly.
--The Great Sand Dunes were created by wind and ocean over 1 million years ago.
--Grand Lake is the largest natural lake in the state.

Have a great weekend!

Mystery Photo:
I took last week’s photo from the rooftop patio at Noodles on Laurel and College.

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Habitat's ReStore

Hey, BeLocal Coupon Book holders, the time to use up those coupons that expire on September 1st is ticking away. You’ve had your free breakfast entrée at Lucile’s, your free lunch at Enzio’s, and your free drink at Elliot’s. You’ve saved on drycleaning and pet food and landscaping services. You’ve shopped at Wadoo Furniture, Happy Lucky’s, Trimble Court, and White Balcony. Hopefully, your coupon book is looking beat-up and ready to retire.

But before you call it good, don’t forget to use your 15% off coupon at the Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The Fort Collins Habitat “practices a ‘hand-up, not a hand-out’ policy through working in partnership with low-income families to build simple, decent and affordable homes.” The ReStore helps fund that mission.

I’ve donated items to ReStore but had never been in to look around. The store has everything, from paperback books to a Duncan Phyfe dining set and buffet, from measuring tapes to a motor home. Yes, they sell cars. And doors. And toilets. And kitchen sinks. I enjoy the occasional bargain-hunt, but I refuse to go to garage sales because I always feel weird standing in a stranger’s driveway while they watch me poke through their stuff. ReStore’s slogan is Restore Your Home, Restore Their Hope, which is good, but I think they should add All the Bargains, None of the Awkwardness.

I loved the retro-look of the old sewing machine and was inordinately pleased to see the fat-jiggling, vibrating-belt massager from back in the day. (Wouldn’t you love to see an infomercial featuring those contraptions?) I wasn’t in the market for anything in particular, but I couldn’t turn down this cool tie-dye glass thingie, which is now a candleholder in my garden.

ReStore receives new stuff constantly, and you can bet I’ll visit again. If you don’t have the BeLocal coupon, check the ReStore website for other coupons and discounts.

(Psst, savvy shoppers…BeLocal now has a free online coupon book.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Five: Back to School

Holy notebook paper, Batman, can it really be time to go back to school? Maybe it's just me, but summer vacation flew by yet again. I never quite seem to do everything I have planned. Here are five things I wish I would have done more of this summer:

Farmers’ markets – With markets on Wednesdays, Saturdays x2, and Sundays, I really have no excuse.
Free music – Ditto. Tuesdays in Oak Street Plaza, Wednesdays at the Lagoon, Thursdays in Civic Center Park, Fridays in Old Town…it’s a non-stop free concert around here.
Fort Collins Foxes – Great baseball without driving to Denver. But compared to the majors, the season is quite short.
Hiking – We live so close to so many great hikes that are not—I repeat, not—all-day excursions requiring six pounds of trail mix, a side of beef jerky, three pairs of socks, a solar astronaut blanket, four tubes of Chapstick, wet matches, dry matches, footwear that costs more than my first car, glow-in-the-dark underwear, two screwdrivers (one tool and one drink), a malaria vaccination, spare contact lenses, travel Yahtzee, a pack mule (with or without Sherpa), or freeze-dried anything.
Movies – A hot afternoon + a dark, cool theater = the best kind of escapism.

The good news is that, with the exception of the Foxes, it’s not too late. Don’t tell the kids, but for many of us, summer isn’t really ending. Shhhh. It’ll be our little secret.

Mystery Photo:
Last week was the jumping water fountain in Oak Street Plaza.


This week, the mystery photo is a “Where Was I?” challenge. From where in Fort Collins did I take this picture?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Creative Garden

Kathi D. Dougherty glass
There’s always so much great stuff happening at New West Fest, and this year was no exception. Food, vendors, some of the year’s best people-watching, and music, music, music. Once again, the weekend was filled with amazing performances by talented musicians. I loved having another opportunity to hear two of my favorite bluesy ladies—Susan Tedeschi and Hazel Miller—perform. And how great was it that local station KRFC broadcast live from the Mountain Avenue Stage?

If you attended, I hope you ventured over to Beet Street’s Creative Garden. Located a bit off the beaten path in the parking lot south of the former Elks Club, the garden showcased a select group of Colorado talent. With the performing arts stage on one end and the singer-songwriter stage on the other, and a juried art show in between, it was a really nice place to step aside from some of the festival antics.

Diane Findley acrylics
Dave Ellis bowl I bought for my birthday

Saturday evening, we caught the last bit of a rollicking performance by Big Jim Adam and John Stilwagen and then stayed for local fave Jeff Finlin. In between, we enjoyed browsing the artist booths, including Kathi D. Dougherty’s fused glass, Diane Findley’s bright acrylics, and Dave Ellis’s pottery. The Gardens had a craft area for kids, and the local potter’s guild had ongoing demonstrations. And, as no summer celebration of creativity is complete without chalk art, there was a place for that, too. On a larger scale, these two pieces—Flowers in Wonderland by Lisa J. Cameron and water to the garden by Tim Upham—added the “whoa, cool” factor.

Flowers in Wonderland
water to the garden

I hope more creative gardens will crop up around town—hint, hint—but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Jeff Finlin rockin' out

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday (not so final) Finale

Hey, I made it! Fifty-two weeks, fifty-two new (to me) activities. I did some things I’d always wanted to do, and I tried some things I’d never realized Fort Collins had to offer. I found some great new places, did a few good deeds, and met some of the nicest people imaginable. I discovered the fine community of local bloggers and took a lot of mystery photos. I had a couple of scheduling snafus and last-minute scrambles, but I somehow managed to make every post.

My sons suggested that I choose my favorite activities for a Friday Five, but I really can’t narrow it down. So here are five things I learned (or re-learned) during my year of blogging in and about Fort Collins.

1. A camera without a charged battery is just a really clumsy necklace.
2. Be flexible. Like our fickle weather, plans can and do change at a moment’s notice.
3. The all events calendar rocks.
4. Talented, caring, hard-working folks? We has them.
5. The nickname “Fort Fun” couldn’t be more appropriate.

In fact, I had so much fun that I decided to keep going. After all, I haven't even come close to crossing everything off my to-do list. I’ll continue to find new things to try, but I might throw in some old favorites, too.

Thanks to everyone who followed along this year. I hope you’ll stick around to see what the next year brings. But the biggest thank you goes to my husband and sons. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Mystery Photo:
Last week's picture was taken at Avogadro's Number.

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Week 52: Ace Gillett's Lounge

Last Friday, I was ready to do some double-duty celebrating. First of all, it was my 22nd wedding anniversary, which is no small feat considering that I account for one-half of the relationship. Secondly, I was rarin’ to go on my 52nd new activity of the year. I suggested to my husband that he choose what we would do for our night out…provided I could blog about it. Being the romantic guy that he is, he did not offer to take me to a closet-organizing workshop or a tour of the sewage treatment plant. He suggested date night at Ace Gillett’s Lounge beneath the Armstrong Hotel.

(Just exactly who was Ace Gillett? Take a minute to find out here.)

I’d been hearing nothing but good things about this downtown destination. Classy. Swanky. Ritzy. Chic. Coincidentally, those are the very same adjectives that could be used to describe me…in an alternate universe. In fact, the very idea of swanky makes me a little nervous, but I did my best to get polished up in my dress jeans. As my husband and I were leaving, our younger son—and resident expert on Norse mythology—counted the eight bangles on my wrist and told me I needed to add one more because Odin wears nine golden arm rings. Mine were silver, but of course I added another anyway, because one never knows when one might need to channel the power of a Norse god on a Friday night.

The outside entrance to Ace’s doesn’t look like much—a steel door at the bottom of cement stairs—but I loved that about it. And the sign at the inner door inviting patrons to “come as you are” sealed it. (Having grown up in Fort Collins, I know that we pretty much “come as we are” to everything, but it’s nice to know that it’s okay.) Downtown was hoppin’ for First Friday, but my husband and I arrived early enough to get a nice table for two. These days, I save most of my imbibing for special occasions, and this certainly qualified. I ordered the refreshing Stark and Dormy—rum, ginger beer, and lime—because it reminded me of Snoopy.

We shared the fruit and cheese plate, and then—as we apparently hadn’t consumed enough dairy fat—the crème brulee trio. Everything was delicious, but frankly the food was the last thing on my mind. It’s been a long, busy summer, and my husband and I hadn’t been out together without our boys in a very long time. The music provided the perfect backdrop as we talked and laughed and remembered that we’re more than just a mom and a dad—we’re still husband and wife through thick and thin.

As the evening wore on, more and more patrons trickled in from above us at street level, and my husband and I eventually decided—somewhat reluctantly—to give up our table. I left Ace’s feeling that he had chosen the perfect place for our double celebration. It’s truly classy but not pretentious or expensive, and I felt comfortable from the moment I walked in. From what I could tell from the merriment all around, everyone else did, too. I honestly can’t wait to go back. Maybe I’ll even try the fried banana sandwich.

Fear my arm rings, mortals!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Fun: All About Us

The first anniversary of this blog is coming right up, and it seems like a good time to do a little sharing--you know, like those "stand up and tell us something about yourself" class introductions, only way less awkward. So whether you've stuck with me all year or are visiting for the first time, please take a moment to share something about the unique person that is you, dear reader.

I'll get the ball rolling. In the spirit of the Friday Five, here are five random things about me:

1. I enjoy superhero movies;
2. I'm allergic to sunflower seeds;
3. I've always wanted to travel to Iceland;
4. My favorite book is the dictionary; and
5. I love soup.

Mystery Photo:
Last week's picture was of Joe McGrane's 100 Days of Summer, which is found in front of City Park Pool.

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

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Week 51: On the Vine Farm Tour

Midsummer has me green with gardener’s envy. In the spring, when I plant my small backyard garden, I get starry-eyed over its potential greatness. Usually this Martha Stewart-like vision involves an imaginary (hand-woven, of course) bushel basket overflowing with a colorful mosaic of tasty veggies. But by August, reality has set in. Weeds and squash bugs multiply exponentially every time I turn around. My tomato plants lean from their pots, looking spindly and spent—and, if I’m not mistaken, more than a little resentful. Peter Piper would need about forty years in my garden to get his peck of pre-pickled peppers. Occasionally, I can (and do) blame the weather for my gardening failures, but the truth is, I don’t spend enough time at it. Apparently, a garden needs more than just sun and water to thrive. Go figure.

I’m never more envious than when I pass by On the Vine at Richmond Farms, the beautiful CSA on Horsetooth Road west of Shields Street. And, as this happens multiple times nearly every day, I wanted to stop in and find out how the real growers do it. Super-friendly farm owner Bob Miller was kind enough to take a break from his never-ending duties to give my sons and me a tour. Bob comes from a farming family and still owns his family farm near Wichita, Kansas. He and his wife bought the property on Richmond Drive in 2009 and had their first partial planting the next year. This year, they’re farming the entire property—and their neighbor’s, as well.

As he showed us around, Bob talked about the ups and downs of this year’s crop—what’s working, what wasn’t so successful, what he might do differently next year. But it’s evident that the successes far outweigh the failures. Rows of broccoli, onions, purple-blossomed beans, cucumbers, herbs, sunflowers, sweet corn buzzing with busy bees, a pumpkin patch worthy of Hagrid…all the garden bounty I dream about in March thriving under the sun of a warm August morning. It just goes to show what a dedicated farmer can do.

Bob follows organic farming practices and sells at the Larimer County Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings in downtown Fort Collins. But if you’re in the neighborhood, you can stop by the farm and buy on-site. While you’re there, get information about On the Vine’s CSA shares. They offer full, half, and working shares, with Friday pick-up at the farm.

If, like me, you have trouble mustering up sufficient veggie production from your backyard, don’t despair. The solution might be right around the corner at your local CSA farm.