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Kelsea and I took a lovely drive today. I needed to be up, up, up in the air, and feel the peace and solidity of the mountains surround me, helping me remember what’s real and what really matters. I have lovely memories of this spot and it was nice to make some more today.

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Boulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.  A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.  But to live with a soul mate forever?  Nah. Too painful.  Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.  A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…” —  Elizabeth Gilbert

Daily gratitudes:
Sunshine
Kelsea
MKL tucking me in when he left this morning
Pam
Wind in my hair
My Coconut Chicken Thai Curry Soup

 

A gentle sunset on the Front Range…perhaps our last for a while, as the weather is to turn cold and snowy this weekend.

Boulder County, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “Be still. it takes no effort to be still; it is utterly simple. When your mind is still, you have no name, you have no past, you have no relationships, you have no country, you have no spiritual attainment, you have no lack of spiritual attainment. There is just the presence of beingness with itself”.   —  Gangaji

Daily gratitudes:
Finding humor in awkwardness
Owning my grumblebunny attitude
Real bunnies
A brisk walk
Foster the stuffed koala bear

Dear Unknown Lady,

I don’t know who you are, but I know you’re an angel.

At the height of rush hour heading towards Denver, just past the Church Ranch exit, there was a beautiful dog in the road.  I don’t know if he was your dog, but I know he was someone’s dog.  He was silvery and fluffy and looked like he had some husky and maybe some shepherd in him.  And he was trapped against the center median, with cars speeding by at 65 mph, no doubt missing him by only a hair or a miracle.

Other cars had stopped.  But you did it.  You pulled your truck over on the shoulder, and got out.  You called to him with happiness and enthusiasm, in just such a way that he wouldn’t panic any more than he already no doubt was.  The cars at the critical point decided that this dog’s life was more important than getting someplace two minutes sooner, and stopped, allowing him to gallop across the road to you. He looked absolutely joyful.  And you clapped and encouraged and praised him and he leapt easily into your truck.

And he lived.  Uninjured.

Maybe he had been in your truck and had jumped out somehow.  Maybe he was left behind by someone.  Maybe he was someone’s darling who got loose, like our Champ did once – he miraculously made it to the other side of the highway that time too, and another angel lady helped him.  (Those husky mixes can really be escape artists.)

Champ as a puppy.

But that doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that you took the time to save a beautiful dog.  One beautiful soul rescuing another.

It made my day.  I thank you.  And your fuzzy buddy thanks you.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s….our illustrious president. Yes, that’s right, Barack Obama himself is up there in that helicopter, hovering above Pearl Street in Boulder. This is about as close as I’ll likely ever get to him.

Traffic was a total disaster trying to get to Job #2, since my route takes me right through the CU Campus, which was closed in every direction since that’s where he was speaking. It put me in a foul mood and I’m sure I brought a whole bunch of bad carma (yes, that’s an intentional spelling) on myself.

But oddly enough, his presence brought a very unusual energy to town. Traffic was sparse. People were pulling off the road, or sitting on the curb, just hoping to get a glimpse of the helicopter or the motorcade. Police in patrol cars and unmarked vehicles were everywhere, just keeping a weather eye. It was somehow strangely quiet, as if time had stopped for just a little while. It was pretty cool.

Up above Boulder, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us, that they may see their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even a fiercer life, life because of our quiet.” —  W.B. Yeats

Daily gratitudes:
Pulling the cord to make the Stop Request sign on the bus light up
Sunset over the mountains
New shoes
Tulips
Picket fences

Perhaps it’s environmentally incorrect, but Kelsea and I went for a drive. We weren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves today. So we just went. First we went to see how close we could get to Haystack Mountain.  Haystack Mountain is this weird little pimple on the landscape of the foothills of Boulder. It just rises out of the ground, in the midst of pasture land, and has no discernible purpose. Kelsea had always wondered about it.

So we went on a quest.

We discovered a golf course.  Kind of anti-climactic. The rest of the area surrounding the stack was fenced-in fields. She now has another goal, this one for her 17th birthday – to climb to the top.

We continued on from there, just idling, with me stopping to take pictures.  We went down county roads, and to the edge of the little town of Hygiene.  We cruised on into Lyons and had a tea and ice cream, and sat in a little sculpture area until they turned the sprinklers on us.

Then I took her home. I got weepy saying goodbye.  I haven’t seen much of her lately. Although I am away next weekend, we agreed that we will try to have dinner one night a week at least.

Here are some images so you can share our time today.

Photo title: Outstanding In His Field

Boulder County, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”  —  Leslie Poles Hartley

Daily gratitudes:
Baskets
Fireworks
The carousel of happiness
Truck beds
My little sister

Photo title:  Spring Arrives!

Boulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “The natural rhythm of human life is routine punctuated by orgies.”  —  Aldous Huxley

 

Guess what this weekend was?  It was our annual excursion to ….. (drumroll please) ….. Frozen Dead Guy Days!!

This was Kelsea’s and my fourth foray into this festival of the intoxicated macabre.  And this year, we took her uber-cool friend Will.

Uber-Cool Will

You may not be familiar with this event, which is now in its tenth year, but the legend (or fact, really) that inspired it is far older.  Back in 1989, Grandpa Bredo Morstoel passed away in Norway.  Instead of going underground as so many do when they pass, Grandpa took to the skies; his corpse, packed in dry ice, was flown across the pond to the US.  After seeing California (as so many Norwegians want to do) and becoming cryogenically preserved (not quite as popular a tourist activity), he arrived in Colorado to wait out his fate in the company of his daughter and his grandson in the old mining town of Nederland, Colorado, just outside of Boulder.

Grandpa Bredo was kept quietly in a shed on his daughter’s property for a few years.  He was a colorful piece of local lore.  I recall hearing about him before he was famous, but no one was sure if the rumors were  true.  After he’d been resting comfortably for a couple of years, the proverbial S hit the proverbial F.  Grandson Trygve found himself deported, and daughter Aud found herself evicted.  And Grandpa found himself on his own, which is not a good position for a frozen old Norwegian in a Tuff Shed.

You must understand that the people of Nederland are a people apart.  I love it up there.  The townsfolk took Grandpa to their collective bosom.  People stopped by the Tuff Shed where he was stored to tend to his dry ice needs.  And they rallied the town council to – literally – grandfather – Grandpa into the town’s new law that prohibited keeping bodies on private property.  I wonder if any other town has that regulation?

Grandpa’s plight garnered quite a bit of publicity on a worldwide scale.  He has his own caretaker who, with the help of the ever-loyal townsfolk, keeps his body packed in a sarcophagus surrounded by 1600 pounds of dry ice.  He’s been relocated from his original Tuff Shed, due to logistics and safety factors, to a larger unmarked storage facility up the mountain a bit.  On occasion, guests can go up and see the shed, but not Grandpa Bredo himself. 

Still, his share of fame grows yearly.  He’s been the subject of two documentaries by the Beeck Sisters – “Grandpa’s In The Tuff Shed” and “Grandpa’s Still In The Tuff Shed”, and a book written by his caretaker Bo Shaeffer (aka The Iceman) called Colorado’s Iceman and the Story of the Frozen Dead Guy.  There’s even a mystery set around the festival, which I have, but haven’t read yet, called One Too Many Frozen Dead Guys by Pamela Stockho.  And there’s a song by T.D. Rafferty, most aptly named “The Frozen Dead Guy Song.”  Both books and the song are available at trusty www.amazon.com.

Back to the festival!  It’s become a packed event, which is good for the town’s small businesses, but it seems that as it grows, it becomes less and less quirky.  Sad.  However, the two-and-a-half day festival still consists of such unusual activities as:

  • Parade of Hearses, which is exactly what it sounds like
  • Polar Plunge, where participants in varying stages of costume or undress jump into a hole cut in the frozen lake
  • Coffin Races, in which teams of people carry makeshift coffins through an obstacle course in the town playground
  • Frozen Salmon Toss, where you see how far you – yes, YOU – can throw a frozen salmon
  • Brain Freeze, an ice cream eating contest held in the middle of First Street
  • Frozen Turkey Bowling, where you use frozen turkeys to knock down bowling pins (this is also commonly done in supermarkets late at night, and Australians use midgets instead of turkeys)
  • Frozen T-Shirt Contest, where you must unfold a frozen T-shirt and put it on
  • Rocky Mountain Oyster Eating Contest, in which you consume as many “prairie oysters” as possible

We arrived a tad bit late, just after the start of the parade.  The parade is definitely my favorite part of the event.  Several dozen hearses, most of them from the ’60s and ’70s, but the occasional entry from the ’40s and one even from prior to the 20th century, turn out to make a circle around the center of the little town.

Not your typical horse-drawn carriage

A lovely exit vehicle

 

Adjusting the antenna

Big dog in a big red hearse

Big Man, Small Car, Reverse Compensation?

Ghoulish participants were waving and throwing candy.

Hello, Creeper!

Rubber face...or not?

Pay no attention to the woman behind the leopard skin curtain

Small children hardly knew what to make of the event.

One of the Funereal Princesses

What the heck is going on?

Contemplative baby

And really, who can blame them?

After the parade, we headed over to the Polar Plunge, which takes place in a little pond off the creek.  Paramedics are handy by the ice hole to help plungers out if they have trouble. 

Rescue personnel - and this is not a costume.

We found a perfect spot on the edge of the ice.  Nederland is a very dog-friendly town, and pooches were plentiful among the aspens. 

Fluffy shepherd

Calm, cool and collected

Plungers weren’t as creative in their costumes or their approaches this year, which was a little disappointing.  I had tried to talk Kelsea into jumping with me, but she said not until next year, since she’s not a strong swimmer and didn’t want to embarass herself in front of her beloved paramedics.  But we had a grand time watching…

Leprecaun somersault

Hauling out the frozen yeti

These two girls emerged from sleeping bag coccoons to reveal their butterfly selves!

And flew into the cool water!

The Chicken Plunge....

and its unfortunate aftermath.

until the latecomers started just packing onto the ice in front of us so we couldn’t see anymore.  How rude.  In fact, my edit function was apparently set pretty low, as I was telling people in no uncertain terms to sit down.  And I was wishing all the ice would just collapse, making the whole inconsiderate lot of them into unwilling plungers.  The paparazzi really were testing the limits of ice gravity.

Dead Guy Paparrazi

It had gotten REALLY chilly, so we headed to the bookstore/coffee shop to warm up.  I love this little bookstore – it’s mostly used books, but they also have ice cream, a little clothing, a little jewelry, a Tarot card reader, and of course, chai, cocoa, lattes and etcetera. 

Frozen Eyeballs, Dead Man's Toes

And they have creepy stuffed squirrels bolted to their exterior walls.

Freakish? I think so.

We got coffee and brownies and found a little table in the children’s book room in the back.

A coffee trio

The shop cat immediately came to say hello and Will decided he wanted to marry it.

Aura cat

Man, I don’t know what was in those brownies, considering there’s a “green wellness” clinic on either side of the bookstore, but we spent about two hours in silly hysterics, laughing and snorting and giggling at absolutely nothing.  We poked around the bookstore, and fell more in love with the cat, who was now occupying the Tarot card table. 

Aura cat moves to her spot on the Tarot table

I chatted with a lady who teaches knitting and who had knit some amazing glow-in-the-dark skullcaps.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing as glow-in-the-dark yarn. 

Glow-in-the-dark skullcap

(And as a lovely reminder of my last lovely weekend, there’s an Alpaca Store in Nederland where she gets her yarn.)

Can I buy an alpaca here?

We spent so much time in the warmth and silliness of the bookstore that we missed the coffin races.  Kelsea and I had seen them before, so we didn’t mind – the wind had picked up and we were all cold.  Heading back into town through the little covered footbridge, we stopped in a couple of shops.  Will and Kelsea parked themselves in rockers and pretended to be old people.

Practicing to be grumpy old folks

I took lots of artsy pictures.

Artsy pink glass lamp

Artsy green vase

Artsy art glass

And imagined decorating my new little house.

Post-safari porcelain

Or perhaps a dead guy theme? I might be able to find a coffin coffee table.

Emerging again into the chill, we discovered a mechanical bull set up outside the Pioneer Inn bar.  Well, in my ongoing quest to try new things, I tried this new thing. 

My first mechanical bull ride!

It was a lot harder than it looked and I don’t think I stayed on for 8 seconds.  But Kelsea did quite well!

And Kelsea's first mechanical bull ride!

Our time was winding down.  We passed the Brain Freeze contest, with very few participants. 

Brain freeze competitor

And we passed more cute dogs (in trying to type ‘dogs’ just then, I typed ‘gods’ twice). 

I think I can fit through here...

As our final excursion, we decided to walk out into the half-empty reservoir, something else I’ve always wanted to do.  The reservoir is full to the brim in the summer, putting Boulder at risk of the imminent and overdue 100-year flood, which last occured in 1894.

Archive photo of Boulder's 100-year flood in 1894

But in the winter, it is a barren plain of rocks and dry earth. 

At the bottom of the reservoir

The wind was absolutely vicious; we walked out as far as we could bear, then turned and made a run for the car.  A real run, tears streaming down our faces and snot flying in the wind.  By the time we got to the car, we sounded like we’d had strokes, we were so cold and our brains so bizarrely impacted by who knows what (wind? brownies? mechanical bulls?) that we could barely form words. 

We happied our way down the mountain back to Boulder.  That night, my eyes were still hurting from the grit and the wind, and Kelsea and I were exhausted from battling the breeze, the cold and the mud.  But we had a wonderful time.  Next year, maybe we’ll try tukey bowling and salmon throwing. 

I think it’s great that even with dead guys, there’s always next year.

No, I did not buy an alpaca at auction.  However…

This weekend the Boulder County Fairgrounds hosted the Alpaca Expo.  You may remember from our trip to the Stock Show this year how enamoured Kelsea and I were with the alpacas. Well, even though Kelsea chose to go to the Mall on Saturday, I decided to fly solo to see the critters. 

Empty Corrals at the Boulder County Fairgrounds

O. M. G.

Hello!

There is (almost) nothing I have found that makes me smile more than alpacas.  While the Expo was fairly small, I spent almost three hours there, just hangin’ with my alpaca peeps.  I made friends with several of the ranchers there to exhibit and I learned a lot of little tidbits.

But mostly, I just kind of hung on the railings of the little corrals and basked in the glow of the beasts.  I don’t know what it is about them, but they have amazingly soothing energy.  They are calm, expressive, curious, and gentle.  Kind of like me, but with more hair and bigger eyes.

Adorable Alpaca

I had such a wonderful time that Kelsea and I went back on Sunday.  And as an extra-added bonus, we went to an antique auction that was being held next door.  If you check out my Life List of Things Yet To Be Done (in Lists), you will see that buying something at auction was one of my life goals.  Well, not only did I buy something at auction, I bought somethingS at auction – namely, two pocket knives, a sword, a miscellaneous box of vintage hats, purses and gloves and an amazing piece of folk art – a flying pig, who told me his name was Homer. 

Homer In Profile

Homer From Above

My auction number was 339 and I was flapping my little card along with the other pros, aka, Pierre, George, Tommy and a lady whose shop we had visited in Cheyenne last Labor Day.  Anyway, the whole thing was AWESOME!  And here’s a sampling of the things that I – wisely, in my opinion – didn’t bid on.

Miscellaneous Brasses - I would have bid on this if we'd been there when it was up

Random Auction Items

Creepy Decapitated Doll Heads

Victorian Baby Shoes

Strange Vintage Glassware

As for the alpacas, well, as I said, we learned a lot.  And here are a few things we learned that I’ll bet you probably didn’t know either:

Alpacas are very social creatures.  You can’t have just one.

Just Saying Hello From Behind the Neighboring Curtain

Alpacas only have bottom teeth until they are about three years old, at which point they are ready to breed and get their fighting teeth.

Clinton Showing Off His Alpacas Bottom Teeth

 When they get bored, they chew things.

Dishevelled Beastie Eating the Rail

Alpacas’ adorable “Hmmmm” humming noise means they are stressed.  Or hungry.  But I guess being hungry can make you feel stressed.

Her Close-Up

Like many animals, they like to groom each other, and can often find leftovers in their Alpaca buddies.

I Love Eating My Friends Fur

The Suri is the most dominant type of Alpaca, although it is the least common type outside of South America.

Nancy Showing Off Champagne the Suri Alpaca

But there are also some interesting Vicuna-Alpaca mixes (and all alpacas (and llamas) are part of the camel family).

Alpaca-Vicunas

Alpacas chew their cud in a figure-eight shape.  And when they swallow a lump of cud (what’s that called?), they immediately bring up another one.  If you watch their throats, you can see the one coming down and the other coming up.

Cud-Chewing Cutie-Pie

Alpacas sit on all four legs, but when it’s very cold, they raise their hindquarters slightly off the ground to increase their warmth.

Seated Alpaca

Alpacas are raised for their fiber and for breeding – several people were weaving and spinning at the event.

Dyed Alpaca Yarn

Spinning

 

They don’t always like being touched on the head because their mothers generally nudged them on their heads to discipline them.  They prefer being touched on the neck.

Intertwined Alpaca Necks

And when a randy male alpaca tried to mount Perfection, he was decidedly put in his place by her spitting most firmly in his face after escaping his lascivious clutches.  She is a feisty little beauty.  No one can mount Perfection.

Perfection

Most importantly of all, they give amazingly awesome angel baby kisses.  Storm the big white alpaca kissed me several times.  (No tongue.) I felt truly privileged.

Storm the Kissing Alpaca

So it was a lovely weekend.  I even tried out Zydeco dancing on Friday night.  Not well, mind you, but it was new and fun and great exercise, so I think I’ll try it again.  And since the auctions happen once a month, we’ll definitely be back.  It will be THE place to furnish the new house!

Have a happy week!

As you may have figured out, this week I will be writing about Christmas “stuff”, as well as the emotions that go along with the holidays.  This is a slight departure from the theme, but as you’ll see, not really.

When Kelsea and I were driving back from our Labor Day mother-daughter getaway in Cheyenne, we saw a plume of smoke over the mountains, being buffeted about by high winds.  I said to her, “Uh oh.”  By the time we got to the outskirts of Boulder, this is what we saw:

Uh oh was an understatement.  The Four Mile Fire destroyed 169 homes on the edge of Boulder.  I knew several people who were evacuated, and many who were on edge, but I had not met anyone who had lost their home until Thanksgiving.  One of my fellow dinner guests at the Big House was a gentleman who had lost his home in the fire, and he was still clearly and understandably shell-shocked.

One of the blogs I follow, http://piperbayard.wordpress.com/, wrote today about Andi, a woman who lost everything (except her dog, her kayak and the clothes she had packed for the trip to Port Townsend, where she was when the fire happened) in the fire.  Andi’s award-winning blog can be found at Burning Down the House.

In order to bring holiday cheer to what has been a dark time, Nellie (Andi’s dog) is hoping to receive Christmas cards from all over the world.  The cards brighten little Nellie’s mood, and everyone, including dogs, needs that at this time of year.  So I’m asking my friends in the blogosphere around this earth to take five minutes out of their day, and send a card to Nellie at this address:

Princess Nellie
c/o Chautauqua Main Office
900 Baseline Road
Boulder, CO  80302

It will make us all have a little merrier Christmas and spread a little more love.  That’s always a good thing.  Let’s show Nellie that love is something no fire can destroy.

Gratitudes: Christmas Trees, the upcoming Lunar Eclipse (even if I’m not awake for it), warm winters, power strips, pork green chile.

April 2021
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