Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brian Regan at the Lincoln Center

As every parent knows, kids pass many milestones growing up, not the least of which, in my book, is when they become old enough to understand some of the humor in the adult world. When my boys first watched (the edited version of) Christmas Vacation, they thought it was the dumbest movie ever—and felt entirely gypped by the fact that only the opening credits were animated. Now, they appreciate why I laugh until I cry every time that squirrel jumps out of the tree. And when something isn’t working around the house and I tell my husband that “the little lights aren’t twinkling,” the boys get the joke. I love it when they get the jokes.

My husband and I have followed comedian Brian Regan’s career for years. We’ve seen him perform live three times—twice in Denver and once here. Thanks to Netflix and YouTube, my boys know—and love—most of Brian’s routines and can do pretty darn good impersonations of him. When they heard last summer that Brian would be coming to town, they desperately wanted to go. In a Christmas lie to rival the Grinch, we told them that tickets were sold out, and man, were they disappointed. Fast-forward to Christmas morning when they unwrapped their tickets. Surprise. Elation. Big smiles on the faces of two sneaky parents.

The week before the show, one son was sick with a cold and the other with the stomach bug that had run rampant through the school. I worried that, come show time, not all of us would be healthy enough to attend. But the gods of comedy smiled on us, and we were good to go. Were we the only ones talking about girth units at Mulligan’s on Friday? I like to think so.

The show was everything we knew it would be: spot-on, gut-achingly hilarious, and clean enough for tweens. (That last part sounds lame, but if you know Brian’s comedy, you know what I mean.) I was in tears by uni-hair and didn’t stop laughing until the end. I hope my boys will always remember seeing Brian Regan live for the first time. I know I will never forget how much I enjoyed watching them watching him.

My older son will soon officially be a teenager, and the younger will follow in two years. I know there will be many times during this phase of our lives when we will not see eye-to-eye on everything. Perhaps anything. But if we can still laugh together as a family, we’ll make it through.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Five: Fun Facts

Here are five fun facts from Charlene Tresner's book Streets of Fort Collins - A History of Fort Collins, Colorado, Through Its Street Names:

Early Fort Collins resident Norman H. Meldrum was elected every time he ran for public office, from city treasurer in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Colorado's lieutenant governor;

Arthur C. Sheely was a former Aggie who owned an auto dealership and helped raise the money to build Hughes Stadium;

Charles S. Willox was a fieldman for the Great Western Sugar Company;

Edora combines the names of Edwin and Cora Johnson, original owners of the land where the park stands; and

Frederick Sherwood was appointed by President Lincoln "as an agent to supply the Arapahoe Indians with food and take responsibility for their welfare."

Any guesses as to which one of those gents is pictured below?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Letter Writing Revival

I’ve been accused of being both Amish and a Luddite, but I honestly have nothing against technology. I love my smart phone, and there’s no way I want to return to the days of the VCR. But I do think that technology is divesting us of a few of our more civilized habits of communication. Non-public telephone conversations, for example. (Yes, loud woman in the grocery line, I’m talking to you.) And letter writing.

In this world of instantaneous communication, writing a letter takes planning, pen and paper, and postage, and there are many days when I am lacking at least one of those. But that’s what makes a letter so thoughtful. It can’t be composed and dispatched in the length of a Burger King commercial. I love receiving a hand-written note in the mail, which otherwise is divided between bills and junk. But it had been quite some time since I sent one. So when my friend Kerrie Flanagan hosted a letter writing revival at the Northern Colorado Writers studio, I dropped by to join in.

Kerrie provided all the supplies, including postage, and set the ambience with relaxing music. Other than grocery lists, I haven't written much by hand lately, and I was reminded that letter writing requires more forethought than composing at a keyboard. Once you realize you’ve begun one of those sentences that goes nowhere, there’s no backspace key to bail you out. It’s either cross out, start over, or press on. Oh, the pressure.

I wrote a note to an elderly aunt in Colorado Springs and sent a card to my mother, who lives in town. Neither uses email, so a letter is not old-school for them. I also sent a letter to my sister in Seattle, the only non-holiday correspondence I’ve sent her via snail mail in years. And I sent a letter to my boys telling them how great they are. When it arrived, I suspected they would be underwhelmed. Neither one of them likes to communicate in writing—especially cursive—and I assumed they would shrug me off as embarrassingly old-fashioned. But they were genuinely appreciative of my effort and sentiment.

Email is hugely convenient, and I have no plans to do without it. But I will make an effort to sit and write a letter more often. Just think how much more fun a trip to the mailbox would be if we could trade one piece of our daily bills-and-junk mail for a letter from someone we care about.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Fun: February Flashback

In the 1960's, the Coloradoan ran a "Remember When?" column written by James R. Miller (left), local historian and former editor of the Fort Collins Express-Courier (forerunner to the Coloradoan). I'm not old enough to remember them, so it's fun to take a look back.

From the column that ran on February 18, 1965, here's what was happening:

1915: "Today will be dog day in the city magistrate's court. Some 87 citizens have been summoned to tell why they have not paid license on the dogs they are said to own."

1925: "This year Fort Collins will pave Pitkin Street from end to end, Laporte from Howes to Shields, and widen pavement on South College Avenue from Pitkin to Prospect."

1935: "With total receipts of $707.81 and disbursements of $849.68, an operating deficit of $141.87 appears in the January report of activities of the municipal railway system."

1945: "Three Fort Collins soldiers have won decorations for outstanding service with the Army and Air forces in France. Maj. William R. Herdener, field artillery supply officer, received the Bronze Star...Capt. Robert G. Roten has been awarded an Oak Leaf cluster, the equivalent of a second award of the Distinguished Flying Cross...Pfc. Francis H. McGuire has received the Purple Heart, a presidential unit citation and the Soldier's medal..."

1955: "Mr. and Mrs. W. Ed Wright, who have sold their farm northeast of Fort Collins, which has been their home for many years, moved to the Parkview Apartments."

Valentine's Day comes too early for these hearts, but it won't be long before we see them again. I promise.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday Rerun

Well, I'm sorry to report that the activity I hoped to attend on Sunday fell through, and I didn't have time to squeeze in a Plan B. So today's post is another look at last year's Valentine's Dinner, prepared in my own poorly-appointed kitchen by me, using lots of fresh local ingredients. I'm not much of a cook, but this culinary undertaking turned out pretty well.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Five: Family Treats

Thank goodness for Valentine's Day to brighten up the middle of February. Today's Friday Five includes some of my family's favorite special treats, for winter or anytime.

1. Husband: New Belgium's Frambozen. He looks forward to its release every year.

2. Me: It's so hard to choose, but I stopped by Genoa Coffee last week for the first time and had a delicious espresso/Nutella/whipped cream coffee drink that was amazing, even in decaf form. It had a cool Italian name, too, which I have of course forgotten.

3. Older son: Walrus Ice Cream's chocolate-chocolate chip.

4. Younger son: Morning Fresh Dairy's Rootbeer Milk, made with Coopersmith's Root Beer Syrup.

5. Dog: Anything that falls on the floor, especially if it's a treat from Bones du Jour.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Foothills Farmers Market

Last week felt a lot like spring in Colorado—first with the unseasonably warm temperatures, and then with the big, wet snow. But thanks to that dang groundhog, we still have a few more weeks of winter before we can pack away the snow gear. Until then, get a taste of summer at an indoor farmer’s market. The Saturday markets take place every other week at the downtown Opera Galleria. On alternating Sundays, the Foothills Mall hosts a market at the former bookstore just inside the main north entrance.

This market is smaller (though maybe part of it was due to Superbowl Sunday) but not lacking in delicious finds. For example:

At Ten Bears Winery, I sampled a Nutty Laporte dessert wine that made me want to put on fuzzy socks and curl up in a comfortable chair. Ten Bears is located in LaPorte, which makes it the northernmost Front Range winery. Their grapes come from the western slope, but soon they will be using some of their own, as well. (Grapevines are kind of like kids—you can try to hurry them along, but it doesn’t really do any good.) The website has information about retail sales, wine tastings, and custom labels.

Loco Bueno green chile is made with turkey breast for a lean protein boost. It’s all natural, gluten free, and comes in three heat levels. I like things spicy, so I tried the hottest one, which has a good kick but not enough to kill the flavor. Check the website for retail sales and delivery info. And if you don’t know that loco bueno means crazy good, you better write your high school Spanish teacher a note of apology.

Mountain’s Edge Coffee roasts UTZ Certified Arabica beans to perfection in Berthoud. They offer blends, single source, and decaf. For all the information I don’t have room to list here, including this truffle recipe I’m going to make for Valentine’s Day, visit their website.

Last but not least, I was pleased to find fresh greens even with six inches of snow on the ground outside. The products from Wise Acres Greenhouse (another great name) include single greens and herbs, spring meadow mixes with edible flowers, and unique Japanese greens. The spring meadow mix made a beautiful salad, with the added benefit of seeing the looks on my sons’ faces when I ate the nasturtium on top. And the spinach-like Tatsoi was delicious in a white bean soup.

For better or worse, football’s over now, so there’s no excuse not to get to the Sunday market and make your own discoveries.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Fashion

I know it's barely February, but it's never too early to think spring fashion. The Fort Collins History Connection has an online archive of Fort Collins fashions throughout the years. This photo is from the CSU Spring Fashion Show of 1966.

Any guesses what year this portrait was taken?

Last week's pictures were taken at the corner of Taft Hill and Prospect, across the street from Red Fox Meadows.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tarot Reading

Seinfeld fans, remember the series of episodes where Jerry and George were about to hit the big time with their show about nothing when George noticed that weird white thing on his lip?

George: God would never let me be successful; he'd kill me first. He'd never let me be happy.
Therapist: I thought you didn't believe in God?
George: I do for the bad things.

I’m kind of the same way. For example, if a friend told me she had a dream I won the lottery, I’d laugh about it. If, however, she told me she dreamed I was hit by a bus, I’d be really dang careful crossing the street. So I tend to avoid palm readers and fortune tellers and the like. But when I saw an ad for tarot readings at Boutique Bravo, I figured I had nothing to lose. Or did I? (Insert sinister laugh here.)

Tarot cards have an interesting history. I didn’t know that the first Tarot cards were originally created for games. The use of Tarot for divination dates back to England and France circa 1781. There are also many different versions of Tarot decks, from Native American imagery to Angels to the beautiful Golden Tarot used in my reading to, of all things, Disney.

Theresa Rose has been reading tarot for 28 years, so I felt confident that she knew what she was doing. And the fact that she did not in any way resemble Harry Potter's Professor Trelawney helped, too.

Theresa shuffled the cards to clear them of any leftover energy and asked me if I had a question I wanted to think about. I did and focused on that for a moment with my hands on the cards. Being a tarot novice, I thought that she would deal out my cards a la Blackjack, but I was allowed to pick my own. Once I did, Theresa interpreted them.

Nothing was said of lotteries or being run over by a bus. But what did come up were the issues of creativity, inspiration, emotion, money, and even diet. I know, those are general topics that apply to almost everyone, but the ways in which they were manifest in the reading felt very specific to me. It was fun to make the connections between the cards and what’s happening in my life, and, as Theresa said, it was not at all “creepy.” I'm glad I did it, and I will do it again.

Theresa’s rates are very reasonable, and she does parties, which I think would be a blast. She can be reached at