Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Masonville Mercantile

On our recent trip to Bobcat Ridge, we passed by the Masonville Mercantile and figured it was worth a stop on the way back. Located in the unincorporated town of—you guessed it—Masonville, the Mercantile was established in 1896. Self-described as “Northern Colorado’s one stop shop for any different occasion,” this unique store caters to everyone from brides and steampunkers to fans of vintage Hollywood and Wild West buffs. Veils? Check. Handmade jewelry? Check. Roy Rogers memorabilia? Check.  Pappy the Cowboy Fortune teller? Check.

The Mercantile even has its own milliner, which has got to be a rarity these days, as women don’t wear spectacular hats nearly often enough. It is a fun store to poke around in, and full of interesting wares. But on a quiet afternoon, as was the case with our visit, it was also easy for me to imagine it as the setting for a creepy ghost story…especially when I laid eyes on the pink-boa’ed mannequin reclined in the bathtub underneath the Marilyn shrine, looking slightly more dead than relaxed. You just know she gets up and towels off after everyone has gone home for the night.

The quirkiness continues across the street, where behind the iron gates lies a scattered collection of western sculptures, statues, wagons, and small buildings including a jail and an open-air chapel. After taking in the sights—and after my older son’s brief, and self-imposed, incarceration—we headed home. But I’ll be back someday, especially if I ever decide to dress up as a steampunk Betty Boop cowgirl.  (Okay, that sounds flat-out awesome, right?)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Photo of the Week: A Manslaughter of Crows

I’ve seen so many crows lately, and they seem larger than ever. How is that happening? Solar radiation? Secret genetic engineering experiments? Extra-nutritious roadkill? If they had the right kinds of feet, they’d be able to carry away inattentive cats and small children. But even though the crows are loud and bossy, I do love seeing them perched among the bare winter branches—it’s so Edgar Allen Poe.

Of course, when I set out to photograph a whole bunch of them doing just that, the most I could find at any one time was three. Not quite enough to be a murder of crows, so that’s why I call them a manslaughter. Even though the law says that manslaughter is a lesser crime than murder, it sounds so much worse, doesn't it? Here is comedian Brian Regan’s take on it. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Run on home, Rebels

Kudos to the CSU men’s basketball team for sending the 23rd ranked UNLV Runnin’ Rebels home with a loss on Saturday night. When I was in college, Jerry Tarkanian was the coach of Nevada-Las Vegas. Like Bobby Knight at Indiana, Jerry was one of those brash, highly successful coaches I always rooted against, even though UNLV and CSU were not even in the same conference back then. I’ve since ditched my ‘80s perm and shoulder pads, but I still love it when my alma mater beats UNLV, especially in a nail-biter at a packed Moby Arena.

The students were back from winter break, doing whatever good luck free-throw thing they do with their arms. The Ram-meter was flashing and snorting. New head coach Larry Eustachy appears to be earning his keep, as the team looked pretty sharp and is performing very well in a number of sporty-sounding statistics such as scoring margin and rebounding offense. The Rams’ current 24-game home win streak is 4th in the nation, behind powerhouses Syracuse and Kansas…and South Dakota State (about whom I know absolutely nothing).

The only small bummer is that the less-expensive general-admission seats are apparently a thing of the past, just like the towel Coach Tarkanian used to use to wipe his sweaty bald head. Every seat is now reserved, which means that even the people in the nosebleeds have to pay…well, through the nose compared to prior years. I understand about money and athletics, but I also know that this makes it harder for many families to get their kids out to a game.

Anyhoo, the lead changed a nerve-wracking 14 times, but thanks to some clutch free-throws late in the game (hey, maybe that arm thing works) the Rams came out on top, 66-61—the same margin CSU enjoyed at halftime. I guess they could have skipped the second half and called it good, but I’m glad they didn’t. It was much more fun this way. And I wish the Rams the best of luck in continuing their home win streak when they play Boise State on January 30.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Photo of the Week

I spied with my little eye...

an old red truck,

a few leafless trees,

a scattering of dirt clods,

and a deer,

who watched, still as a statue, as I walked my dog down the path nearby.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Natural Areas: Bobcat Ridge

My 2013 tour of Fort Collins Natural Areas kicks off with Bobcat Ridge. My first visit there was with an elementary school field trip. Now, if you’ve ever accompanied a hundred fifth-graders on any kind of an educational outing, you will know that it makes for a particular kind of experience—fun, interesting, chaotic, and maybe just a tad exhausting. And often, time management becomes an issue. This was the case with our field trip in that we squeezed in so many learning activities that we only had about ten minutes for actual hiking.  

But on a crisp January day during winter break, I had a chance to get a better feel for Bobcat Ridge. A few miles west of Fort Collins, this natural area covers 2,600 acres and has a history of farming and ranching dating back to the 1880s. My family and I took the relatively quick hike back to the Kitchen/Smith Cabin, so named because it was built in 1917 by Ed Kitchen with the help of Edward and Eugene Smith, who owned the land. The cabin retains its original walls and stone foundation, but the rest has been restored as needed to keep it in safe, usable condition.

Bobcat Ridge is also home to one of the city’s Wildlife Project cameras. Eight motion/heat sensitive cameras capture candid shots of the area’s wilder residents going about their daily and nightly business on and off the trails. The photos are available for viewing online and provide a fascinating peek at some of the many species (aside from rambunctious fifth-graders) that can be found in the foothills just west of town. (The only critters we saw this time were the always-entertaining prairie dogs.)

For more information about Bobcat Ridge, including history and trail conditions, click here.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Five: The Harlem Globetrotters

As much as I would have liked to have jetted off to somewhere exotic over the Christmas break (I so want to say I've been to the Free and Sovereign State of Quintana Roo because it has the best name ever) the only 'globetrotting' we did was watching the Harlem Globetrotters. I've never seen them perform live, and I was pleasantly surprised by how fun it was. I laughed a lot, and I wasn't the only one. Their self-described "Amazing Basketball Fun and Family Entertainment" pretty much nails it. In fact, I was disappointed when the show ended, which is saying a lot because my butt was numb from sitting on a hard plastic seat for two hours.

At one point, the team spokesman said something about the Trotters' 89-year-history, and I was taken aback. I knew they'd been around since the early '70s--that's about as far back as my functional memory goes--but nearly 90 years? Get out. Turns out that the team--originally called The Savoy Five after Chicago's Savoy Ballroom--was organized in 1926 by 24-year-old Abe Saperstein. The name was changed the following year, and The Harlem Globetrotters have been going strong ever since.

Five fun facts:

Sweet Georgia Brown became team's theme song in 1952.

Baseball hall-of-famers Bob Gibson and Ferguson Jenkins and NBA phenom Wilt Chamberlain  all played for the Globetrotters.

In 1985, the team signed their first female players, Lynette Woodard and Joyce Walker.

They're the only sports team with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

Honorary Globetrotters include Henry Kissinger, Bob Hope, and Pope John Paul II.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Natural Areas 20th Anniversary

This year, the City of Fort Collins is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its natural areas program. According to the official timeline, the city began acquiring open space way back in the early 1970s. The “Natural Areas Policy Plan” was officially adopted by the City Council in October of 1992. The city now has 39 natural areas which total 35,000 acres and include over 100 miles of trails. Voters have continued to support the sales-tax funding for this program since the initial ballot measure in 1992.

As part of the celebration, the city has put together a Natural Areas 20th Anniversary Passport and is challenging folks to visit twenty different natural areas before November 15th. As a little incentive, there will be a drawing for a backpack full of “outdoor supplies.” I’m not exactly sure what that entails, but as long as it includes M&Ms and sunscreen, I’m good.

I think this little challenge sounds like fun, and I will be visiting as many natural areas as I can this year and posting a few pictures here. In addition, the city will offer classes, programs, and volunteer opportunities, and I hope to be involved in some of those, as well.

For more information about the anniversary and passport challenge, click here.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Five: Foodie Walk

Our downtown area now has a self-guided foodie walk on the third Friday of the month. Seven local food-related shops offer goodies to taste--their usual products, the wares of specialty vendors, or a little of both. My family and I went in December and tried these five delicious, and very different, samples:

Holiday fudge:

Fruit salsas:

Gourmet cheese:

Tea seed oil:

Nut brittle:

It was a fun way to spend an hour on a Friday evening, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the selections change with the seasons. Details about the foodie walk can be found here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year of Awesome Perfection!

Happy New Year plus one day! I love New Year’s, and I always make at least one resolution. This year, I resolve to be 100% perfect in all manner of things, which means I will no longer be allowed to:

Eat holiday (any holiday) candy for breakfast;
Pretend I don’t know the dishwasher needs to be unloaded;
Take a pair of either son’s boxer shorts out of the dirty clothes and say they are from the clean laundry;
Curse at drivers ahead of me who are going the exact speed limit;
Watch more than 10 minutes of a bad movie;
Order French fries for an entrée;
Act like I’m not home when a stranger rings the doorbell;
Hide the occasional clothing purchase from my husband;
Count a sugar-free Slurpee as one of my eight daily glasses of water;
Claim to drink eight glasses of water a day;
Nod like I understand what smart people are talking about at parties;
Claim to be invited to smart peoples’ parties;
Pretend that walking my 9 ½ year old dog counts as working out;
Skip entire sections of my book club books;
Tell everyone that this is the year I’ll finally take up yoga;
Imply that I loved kale as a child;
Spend two hours blog-hopping and call it writing time;
Feign interest in technology, gadgets, apps, and i-anything;
Recycle news magazines without even opening them; and
Roll my eyes sarcastically and, when observed by husband I didn’t know was watching, pretend that I wasn’t rolling my eyes, I was having contact lens issues, which then requires that I remove said contact lenses to make it appear legit.

I expect that by the end of the week, or sunset today, at least half of this list will be out the window, but until then I will enjoy my thirty-two seconds of New Year’s perfection.