Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Five: Week Recap

Wow, what a crazy week. Zombies, fire, and ice…sounds like the makings of an apocalyptic novel. (Truly, my very best wishes go out to everyone affected by the Penny Flats fire.) But looking forward, there’s a ton of stuff to do around town this weekend, so get out and scare up some fun. And, above all, have a safe and happy Halloween!

Today’s Friday Five includes photos from the week:

True Die Hard Cub fans at the Zombie Crawl

Pre-snow foliage

Yeah, he meant to do that.

Two of many casualties

Run, kids, before the creepy snowman grabs your candy

Mystery Photo:
Last week's picture was of the shark at Pott's in Campus West:

Which Old Town building is keeping watch this holiday?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Larimer Chorale

Planning a 35th anniversary party? You might wish to have a cake. Sparkling wine and cider are nice touches. And how about 200 singers, dancers, and musicians? I can barely organize a pot luck and have never thrown a party of that magnitude, but that’s how The Larimer Chorale kicked off its 35th season.

Although I don’t remember the specifics, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the LC perform, but this season-opener was a first-time (for me, at least) collaboration with the IMPACT Dance Company, the CSU Percussion Ensemble, and the Centennial Children’s Chorus. (Thus totaling nearly 200 performers.) And it was also the first event I’ve attended at the newly remodeled Lincoln Center.

Part I of the program showcased individual performances of the Chorale’s Soprano and Alto sections, the Percussion Ensemble with Soprano Tiffany Blake, and the Children’s Chorus. Each piece was unique, lovely, and done to perfection. Part II brought all the participants together for composer Carl Orff’s choral masterwork, Carmina Burana. You’ve no doubt heard the chorus, O Fortuna. It’s a favorite among filmmakers, as it’s the perfect dramatic music for good vs. evil epics such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. (Dozens of movie montages and remixes can be found on YouTube, if you're interested.)

What I did not know is that Orff’s Carmina Burana is a complicated staged work based on 24 poems from the medieval manuscript entitled—any guesses?—Carmina Burana. Some are love songs, but others are songs of nature, of morals, of drinking and gaming, including (from the program notes) “an operatic rant…told from the viewpoint of a swan being roasted on a spit at a drunken feast.” For anyone who has ever been stuck with a bar tab, check out these lyrics, also from the notes: “Large sums of money last too short a time when everybody drinks without moderation and limit, even though they drink with a happy heart; in this everyone sponges on us and it will make us poor. Damnation to those who sponge on us! Put not their names in the book of Just.”

Carmina Burana covers a pretty broad range of the human experience, as does the turning of the Fortune Wheel (left) on which it is based, and the singers, dancers, and instrumentalists more than did it justice. The performance was at times poignant, boisterous, meditative, and seductive. And I guarantee that I wasn’t the only one who got the chills from the opening and closing piece, the above-mentioned O Fortuna. Under the guidance of conductor/artistic director Michael Todd Krueger, the Chorale hit one out of the park in opening its 35th season. Kudos to everyone who helped stage this amazing show--and to the Lincoln Center for its improved acoustics.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Fun: Flock of Flamingos

I went out yesterday morning to get my newspaper and saw that my friend and neighbor had been flocked. No, she hadn't been covered in spray-on Christmas snow, but her yard was full of big pink birds.

The traveling flocks of plastic flamingos are a fundraiser for The Women's Resource Center. The birds have been on the move all month and will soon be calling it quits for the year. But when they return next October, think about scheduling your own flocking. It's such a worthy cause, and what's not to love about waking up to the sight of bright pink plastic flamingos?

Mystery Photo:
Last week's photo was of Lucile's Creole Cafe.

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bobcat Ridge Natural Area

Head west on Harmony Road, and you’ll eventually end up at Horsetooth Reservoir, one of the crown jewels of outdoor recreation along the Front Range. But continue past the res, hang a left at Masonville, and you’ll soon come across another impressive gem tucked back among the foothills: the Bobcat Ridge Natural Area.

My first glimpse of Bobcat was through the windows of a school bus, as a parent chaperone on my younger son’s pre-eco-week field trip. I had expected a nature area akin to the part of Coyote Ridge that is visible from Taft Hill Road—specifically a trail and a ridge—so I was surprised to find a picturesque farmhouse and agrarian outbuildings right there by the parking lot. I therefore deduced—because I’m smart like that, you know—that Bobcat Ridge apparently had more to offer than just some nice day hikes.

We spent a few hours in the company of some of Larimer County’s volunteer naturalists, who instructed the roving bands of students in the basics of the geology, topography, biology, and ecology of the area. It was interactive fun that kept us interested and engaged, but it wasn’t until I got home and visited the county’s Bobcat Ridge webpage that I realized what a long and fascinating history the area has. (And, yes, I wish I would have done it before I went.)

Carol Tunner (hey, I just met her a couple of weeks ago at the Coke sign) has compiled an amazingly comprehensive history of the area dating back to the very first Native American settlers. Along with geological and ecological information, Pieces of the Past: The Story of Bobcat Ridge Natural Area details the lives of the families who settled in and around the area. The pictures, maps, and excerpts from interviews make for a fascinating look at early farming, ranching, and mining life in Larimer County.

As far as animals go, a stampeding herd of fifth-graders was an effective wildlife deterrent, but Bobcat Ridge is home to a variety of critters including elk, deer, bears, skunks, coyotes, and, appropriately enough, bobcats. Many of these animals have been photographed doing their thing by the eight heat/motion sensitive cameras which make up the Bobcat Ridge Natural Areas Wildlife Camera Project (a joint project with the Rocky Mountain Cat Conservancy).

If all this isn’t enough, the Bobcat Ridge webpage has even more information available, including the Bobcat Gulch Fire Report. Whether you’ve been to Bobcat before or are planning your first visit, take some time to learn a little about its history. And then get out and enjoy this amazing area.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Focus: Off the Mat

It's been said that we all have a book inside us, but getting the book out and published can be a daunting task. When it happens, it deserves celebrating. So I was pleased to pop down to Everyday Joe's on Saturday (my first visit there) to attend local teacher/coach/mentor/author Jeff Bibbey's release party for his novel, Off the Mat. It's hard for me to believe, but my husband and Jeff go back 30 years (we really can't be that old). Jeff's a great guy, and we wish him every success.

A bit about the book (from BookLocker): Devin Thomsen and Steven Matchik seek intensity, and unity of body and spirit. Their demanding coach Sean Cardsen shows the way on the wrestling mat –will it be enough?

Read the rest of the synopsis, an excerpt, and buy a copy here. Also available at Amazon and B&N. Read Nancy Hansford's review from the Coloradoan here.

Mystery Photo:Last week's picture was of the entrance to The Crown Pub:

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vines Vintage Market

When I’m out and about in town, I try to keep my eyes open for signs advertising new-to-me places and/or activities. The fun part is, I don’t always know what I’ll find when I follow the signs. I might discover amazing kinetic yard art. Or I might unintentionally almost take my sons to a head shop—and then stumble across a treasure trove next door.

I’ve been routinely passing a sign advertising the opening of Vines Vintage Market for a couple of weeks now, and it piqued my interest. Part of the reason I was curious is that the sign beckoned from the Cimarron Plaza on the southwest corner of Drake Road and Shields Street. There hasn’t been a lot going on at that plaza as of late, especially since Blockbuster closed. It’s not that far from my neighborhood, but I didn’t often have a reason to go there, aside from the occasional hankering for the buffet at Mt. Everest CafĂ©. So I was hoping that Vines would be worth a stop.

The moment I set foot in the door—which was propped open to welcome shoppers and the warm October air—I knew it was. Vines has a friendly, funky vibe, with absolutely zero old-attic-musty-dusty that sometimes plagues vintage and resale shops. The store artfully combines retail space for 17 different vendors offering clothing, jewelry, furniture, functional and decorative items for the home, and locally made candles, soaps, and skin products. Some items are antique, vintage, and/or repurposed, and some are new. (I know, there are an awful lot of commas in this paragraph, so thanks for sticking with me.)

Honestly, I’m a bit (okay, a lot) on the frugal side and have fled in quiet dismay from more than one boutique. But the prices at Vines are really reasonable and fit every budget, from two dollars to two thousand dollars. I came home with a fun new bead bracelet, a pre-owned J. Jill cardigan, and a vintage doorknob plaque thingie for just under forty dollars. Shopping aside, I also enjoyed chatting with owner Kathryn Grant. I was glad to hear that business has been brisk since the opening. What’s more, Kathryn also hosts after-hours vintage parties and showers, complete with libations if you so desire.

The retail website is still under construction, but the Vines Vintage blog is up and running, with lots of great pictures of the merchandise. I’m so glad that Vines is bringing an Old Town flair to my zip code, and I plan to stop by frequently to see what’s new. And old.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Fun: Fall Facts

Hey, how about some fun fall-related facts for your Friday?

Aspen trees are related to willows. What appear to be individual aspen trees are actually genetic clones joined by a single root network. Because the groves are healthiest when they include trees at various stages of development, the aspen is thought to symbolize community and strength through diversity.

Elk (aka wapiti, meaning “white rump”) are members of the deer family. Bulls grow new antlers every year. In spring, the increasing daylight stimulates the testosterone needed for antler growth. The antlers can grow up to 1 inch per day during the summer. Before you head up to hear them bugle, learn more from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation website.

Estes Park—a beautiful place this time of year—is named for Kentucky-born miner Joel Estes. Estes, who struck it rich in the California gold rush, moved to the area in 1859 with his wife and 13 children. Read more about the history of the village here.

Have a great weekend!

Mystery Photo:Last week’s picture was taken at Bath Nursery.

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

'What's It Worth?' Fundraiser

I understand why fall is fundraiser season. Spendy summer vacations are over, the holidays aren’t quite breathing down our necks, and it seems to be a good time to hit people up for a worthy cause. (I know my boys’ schools are doing it.) Maybe that’s why the advertisement for the Fort Collins Symphony Guild’s “What’s It Worth?” fundraiser caught my eye. A take-off of the perennial PBS favorite Antiques Roadshow, “What’s It Worth?” sounded like at least as much fun as the caramel corn and magazine subscriptions that have been circulating around my neighborhood.

At $15 for the first item and $10 for a second, the appraisals were reasonable, especially considering that whole ‘worthy cause’ thing. But I had no idea what item to have appraised. I’m fresh out of antique Tiffany lamps and 18th Century French Provincial furniture. All the original artwork in my house was done by my kids or me. My jewelry box has a fine collection of vintage lint. I so wish I would have had the guts to recreate this bit from comedian Brian Regan and take a rusty spatula, but I chickened out for fear of looking like a lunatic. (Really, is there anything more awkward than when a bunch of strangers doesn’t get the joke?) In the end, my husband and I decided to take his 1897 Rockford (Ill.) Watch Company pocket watch. We knew its value was mostly sentimental (my husband was born in Rockford), but we were curious what the appraiser would have to say about it.

We didn’t get to the mall until the last hour of the event. By then most of the other appraise-ees had come and gone, so we didn’t have to wait. We bought our ticket and were directed to Leon Feldman (Public Volunteer Appraiser Since 1988), the gentleman in charge of watch appraisals. He welcomed us, but he looked tired and confessed that it had been a long day. After hours spent assigning value to thousand-dollar platinum watches, he seemed underwhelmed by our trinket. But he kindly told us a little bit about the company’s history and complimented us on the watch’s condition. Favored by railroad men and farmers back in the day, Rockford watches are in general reliable and hard-working—as is my husband, so I suppose that’s fitting. As for the appraisal itself…well, unless we find a tiny copy of the Declaration of Independence wedged inside the case, my husband’s got to keep his day job.

Even after stopping to chat with a woman who was having a book of antique presidential photographs appraised, we were in and out of “What’s It Worth?” in less than fifteen minutes. That makes this week’s activity one of my fastest, but I still had fun and would do it again. With or without my spatula.