Friday, April 27, 2012

The end of the affair

No other humans just the hill and I (view to the east)
The falling out of love happened just as quickly as the falling in love. The love affair lasted decades and I certainly had a good run of it. The setting of the affair was the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  There is a romantic ambiance in our ski towns and communities – the athletes wearing their Scandinavian woolen sweaters or colorful fleece, rosy cheeks on the residents from the invigorating cold or unabashed sunshine, the perpetual gentle snowfalls, the tall green conifers framing dappled sunlight and a royal blue sky – and all this was exhilarating and thrilling to me. Being in this environment made me feel like I was waking up every morning to a white Christmas.

Mountains represent something so much greater than oneself:  Mother Nature displays a chilling force of power and special beauty in alpine regions. I wanted to be a part of it somehow and to express my passion -- like a good tumble in the bedroom. And indeed there were sports that could accomplish this meeting between the lover and object of her infatuation. Alpine skiing (and snowboarding) is the art of falling down a snow-capped mountain on boards strapped to your feet with a controlled grace – making turns that look like undulating silk ribbons. I fell in love with falling down. That this “falling down" a mountain sport required a monumental amount of special gear – heavy clunky boots, high tech skis, proper poles, protective goggles, sunscreen, hats, gloves, waterproof pants and jacket  (and a costly lift ticket) -  was just a hurdle I would have to jump over hoping to land gently on a blanket of snow. And jumping up and into the snowy bed was something I did for years.  Yes, I do feel one can have affairs with sports.

Entrance to the Rail Yard Superpipe

Last week, I went downhill skiing for an end of the season fling at the nearby Winter Park Ski Resort. Even though this was not a good year for winter snowfall, a spring storm had recently blanketed a few areas in the Rocky Mountains. The snow on the runs was decent easing into a bit of slush at the base; the temperatures were mild and the sun was playing peek-a-boo with some clouds.  A handful of runs were open and on a third of them I never saw another human. Talk about having a moment alone in nature. I laughed to myself that if I accidentally fell and became injured, no one would find my bones until next fall.

The log architecture at "The Lodge at Sunspot"
I definitely had a good run at it and wove together some graceful turns. Up at this high elevation, I became very thirsty and had to stop at The Lodge at Sunspot for some water and a snack. The lodge sits at 10,700 ft. and is a breathtakingly beautiful structure built of enormous logs with endless views of the Continental Divide. It feels like a natural part of the forest and the safest place you could be in a blizzard. The bottled water cost nearly $4.00 and I spent some time savoring it and watching the sky and clouds move around the mountains. Later in the day, when my burning thighs announced that the first day of skiing was over, I trudged in my clunky ski boots back to the parking lot carrying my skis and poles across my shoulder like a soldier carries his rifle. My feet were anxious to be free and unencumbered; I was looking forward to the hotel swimming pool and bare feet.

Something in me had shifted. My long love affair with downhill skiing seemed to have cooled somewhat – and the cause of this change could be many things. Was it perhaps the high cost of downhill skiing, the ton of equipment to schlep and wear, the heavy uncomfortable boots (even with custom orthotics), along with the added expenses of gas, food and hotel? The ski/snowboard industry has gotten too expensive for the average-income family to easily afford. My pocketbook says ouch every time I go.  And when I weighed the economic situation, like many folks do with a benefit/cost analysis, the costs seemed to outweigh the benefits. Watching a few people on the slopes execute perfect parallel turns, I could not help thinking how unimportant and silly it seemed to make these expensive wiggles.  Maybe, my time could be better spent planting my garden and reaping the rewards of a harvest of nutritious food. Couldn’t I enjoy the mountain equally as well hiking for free in my light-as-air snowshoes? Was I moving in a direction of more simplicity in my life with less reliance on an abnormal amount high-tech equipment for my fun?  A bathing suit and cap for swimming or a pair of sneakers and shorts for jogging seemed delightfully simple. There is a scene in the 1980 comedy, “Private Benjamin,” where Goldie Hawn is marching in the rain weighed down by a ton of army equipment (rifle, helmet, backpack, combat boots and rain gear) and she says, “I want to wear my sandals…I want to go out to lunch…I want to be normal again!”  I can relate.


Zieff, Howard, dir. Private Benjamin. Perf. Goldie Hawn, and Eileen Brennan. Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., 1980. Film.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A little bit of Paris

Some treats found at "Les Delices de Paris" on Holly St. in Denver

When Bumble and I were in Paris in 2004, we would delight in eating a freshly-made crepe from the corner crepe guy on our morning walks. My husband would say, “Bon Ger" to him and he would respond and say, “Don’t lose your accent!” This humorous food vendor would make us paper-thin delectable crepes and fill them with our choice of fresh ingredients and dust the folded over tops with powdered sugar. We often got the sliced banana and Nutella crepes (sometimes we added strawberries). It was a yummy nosh and a great memory.

Je suis un francophile et adore tous ce qui est français. Comme j'étais heureux de trouver une pâtisserie typiquement française dans mon quartier, hier. [I am à francophile and adore all things French. How happy I was to find an authentic French pastry shop in my neighborhood yesterday!]

Exterior Shot

The delightful French pastry shop is called “Les Delices de Paris” (The Delights of Paris) and is located in the Leetsdale Shopping Center (SW corner), which is at the intersection of Holly Street and Leetsdale Drive in Southeast Denver. Right next door is a knitting shop called “I Love Knitting” in case you get lost. The proprietors, Chrystel and Gerard, are from the suburbs of Paris and they wake up before dawn to start baking for us. Now, while there are no crepes, there are 10 different varieties of quiche to serve as breakfast or lunch. The quiches are a great way to partake in a pastry that is not all about sugar but with protein-packed eggs and a wide variety of savory ingredients. I enjoyed the Quiche Lorraine and Spinach Quiche while Bumble had the Mexican Quiche with cheese and jalapenos.

Latte with Quiche Lorraine and a Bichon (Lemon Turnover)

There are gobs of sweet goodies to choose from: Napoleons and Chocolate Eclairs to Apple Flan Tartlets and Almond Croissants. The Bichon, or lemon turnover, was divine and creamy but not too sweet. Next next time I am going to try the various biscottis.  If you need a French fix, perhaps after enjoying a movie set in Paris like “Hugo” or "Midnight in Paris," then give Les Delices de Paris a visit.

Located at:
600 S. Holly St. Suite 101
Denver, CO 80246

More sweets to feast your eyes upon!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April's History Springs Forth

Peach blossoms in April
April Birthstone: Diamond     
Flower: Daisy or Sweet Pea
Famous Quotes: 
"Sweet April showers do spring May flowers." - Thomas Tusser

"And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast, Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest." -
  Percy Bysshe Shelley

April, the name of the fourth month in our calendar, evolved from the Roman month Aprilis which most probably derived from the Latin verb Aperire, “to open” - as the opening, or blossoming, of trees and flowers.  In the Northern Hemisphere this 30 day month brings us bees, butterflies, flowers, the planting season, household spring cleaning, romantic notions of love, and the opening season of professional baseball. What could be better?

Explore a few more historic facts for each day of April which I have listed below; some dates have more than one entry.

April's Historic Events

April 1 - April Fool’s Day. This celebration has many possible origins, one of which is associated with the change from the old Julian calendar to the newer Gregorian calendar ordered in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. This new calendar shifted the New Year to January 1 instead of April 1. The change did not take hold right away. Many folks continued to celebrate the new year on April 1 and perhaps were seen as fools.

April 2, 1513 – Ponce de Leon is credited with the discovery of Florida for Spain. However, some historians argue that John Cabot and his son Sebastian my have discovered the pennisula first in the years 1497 to 1498.

April 3, 1860 – The Pony Express debuts with a goal to hasten mail delivery across the continental U.S.. The service lasted only 19 months
when the completion of the Pacific Telegraph line ended the need for its existence (Pony Express National Museum).

April 3, 2012 – Not beautiful weather today in Denver, Colorado.  The day brings a wet snow after a warm March and makes inhabitants feel a bit under the weather.

April 4, 1968 – Martin Luther King was assassinated on his hotel balcony in Memphis, TN – the man was killed but his dream lived on.

April 5, 1614 – Pocahontas marries John Rolfe, a Virginian tobacco farmer.

April 6, 1896
- The tradition of the Olympic Games is reborn again in Athens after 1,500 years of being banned.

April 7, 1994
– Civil war breaks out in Rwanda after President Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down.  Hutu extremists brutally murdered an estimated 500,000 to 1 million innocent civilian Tutsis and moderate Hutus. It is considered the worst episode of ethnic genocide since World War II.

April 7, 2012 – First day of Passover (Pesach) will be celebrated. God commanded the Death Angel to “pass over” the Israelites and save them from experiencing 10th plague that would befall the Egyptians, if they would paint the blood of a Lamb onto their side posts and lintels of their front door.

April 8 – Hanamatsuri or Buddha’s Birthday (born Prince Siddhartha Gautama) is often celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th Lunar month (which can be May in some Asian calendars).
April 8, 1974 - Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his 715th career home run.

April 8, 2012 – Easter Sunday, the day that celebrates Jesus' rising from the dead after three days. This speaks to the promise of life after death.

April 9, 1865 – General Robert E. Lee surrenders his troops to Ulysses S. Grant, ending the American Civil War.

April 10, 1866
– ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is founded by Henry Bergh in New York City.

April 10, 1925 – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby,” was published.

April 11, 1814 – Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, abdicates his throne and is banished to Elba, an island in the Mediterranean Sea.

April 12, 1861 – Civil War in America begins at Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

April 12, 1945 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the longest serving President of the United States, dies in Warm Springs, GA.

April 13 – Thai, Laotian, Burmese, Cambodian New Year.

April 14, 1865 – President Lincoln is shot at the Ford Theater and dies the next day.

April 15 – Tax day (IRS filing of income taxes due) in the U.S.

April 15, 1912 – The "unsinkable ship," the RMS Titanic, goes down in the Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an iceberg.
Only 705 people were rescued from over 2,200 passengers on board.

April 15, 1947 – Jackie Robinson becomes the first African-American major league baseball player.

April 16, 1943 – A Swiss chemist discovers LSD-25, a synthetic drug he created to help fight severe alcoholism but that produces hallucinations of its own.

April 17, 1970 – Apollo 13 returns safely to Earth after experiencing a problem two days into the mission. One of the oxygen tanks in the spacecraft blew up and many maneuvers were incorporated by the crew to offset the tragedy.

April 18, 1775 – Paul Revere’s famous ride commenced to warn the community that the British were coming.

April 19, 1775 – The American Revolution begins with a shot heard round the world.

April 19, 1897- First Boston Marathon was held.

April 20, 1999 – Columbine High School Massacre in Colorado. 

April 20 or 420 - Cannabis Culture Day - a counterculture celebration of the decriminalization of non-medical cannabis in the U.S.

April 21, 1838 – John Muir, father of the naturalist movement, is born. 
John Muir photo  - courtesy

April 22 – Earth day began in the U.S. in 1970 with young Americans wanting to give the environment a voice; it eventually inspired the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency. Today it is celebrated throughout the world by honoring nature and giving back to the environment.

April 23, 1581 – William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-on-Avon. He dies on the same day in 1613.

April 24, 1800 – Library of Congress is established in Washington DC. It is the largest library in the world today.

April 25 – ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day, and marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

April 25, 1953 – DNA is discovered by James Watson and Frances Crick, who would go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in Physiology in 1962.

April 26, 1954 – Polio vaccine trials begin in an elementary school in Virginia and after almost a year the vaccine was announced to be safe and effective immunization against the dreaded crippling virus.

April 27, 2012 – Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated by planting trees in the U.S. to improve communities.

April 28, 1945 – Benito Mussolini is executed by his countrymen.

April 29, 1945 – Prisoners of the Dachau concentration camp are liberated by U.S. soldiers. 
Dachau Liberation by U.S. soldiers April 1945 - photo courtesy Google Images

April 30, 1945 – Adolf Hitler commits suicide.

April 30, 1975 – South Vietnam surrenders to North Vietnam after the fall of its capitol, Saigon, ending the long war.