Memorial Day weekend in Boulder

The Boulder Creek Festival is as awesome as everyone has said it is! We woke up early-ish and biked to Pearl Street. We locked our bikes and walked for hours between the tents, wandering from free sample to free sample. The damage included energy jelly beans, popcorn, a whole bottle of fruit juice, honey, Clif bar pieces, and a lot more. After a few hours we found ourselves back at the Farmer’s Market. I went back for my Saturday dose of Rowdy Mermaid kombucha~ this time I got Basil Guava~ and we picked up a few more free samples. Finally we had passed all the tents, so we followed the sounds of the creek to a lovely patch of stones perfect for sitting.

After a time, we walked back toward our bikes. It began to rain, though, so we stopped in the Trident Bookstore and Cafe. 

This was yesterday, to be honest. I began this post about the most under-stated yet truly awesome aspect of Boulder yet: it’s bike-friendliness. It takes us, oh, 7 minutes to bike to our favorite coffee shop for music, the Laughing Goat, which is basically in downtown Boulder. Today, we spent a few hours exploring by bike~ we found David’s place of work. When we found it, the sun was just beginning to set. It was astoundingly beautiful. 

Also, when we biked home it was all downhill. That’s the best thing ever.


Peanut butter bars

An addiction to peanut butter + attempt to make a healthy snack led to the discovery of the now Apartment-famous peanut butter bars. 

It’s an absolutely delicious, filling snack which I’m still editing and altering! So far with around four attempts I’ve found a pretty awesome recipe:

Approximately (I don’t use measuring cups because I like to trust the universe and they cost money):

1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)

1 egg

1 banana, crushed

Craisins to taste
Mix all of that together, bake it at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, and you’re golden!! Bake them as cookies, or like we do: in a square cake pan. We cut them into square bars after they’ve baked- it’s an awesome snack!! 

Dearest Books: “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig

I began this book because of a Creative Writing Class taught by one of my favorite professors at Rollins, Dr. Aufhammer.

In the class, Dr. Aufhammer gave us a list of his favorite books from his lifetime of reading. Although I didn’t choose this book at first, someone I highly respect as a writer and reader did choose it. His recommendation interested me, as did Dr. Aufhammer’s statement that Pirsig’s book isn’t an easy read. My subconscious decided to accept that challenge, so when something recalled the book to me months later, I immediately purchased it on Amazon.

“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” is indeed a complicated read. It’s taken me months to piece together the ideas and concepts Pirsig introduces, and thus months to absorb this book. I think Pirsig would say, though, that it isn’t the amount of time it takes to finish the book that matters at all. He wouldn’t even care, I believe, whether a reader absorbed anything at all but one thought which somehow changes the reader’s perspective just a little bit.

There is truly no better way I can think of to describe this book than “beautiful.” Pirsig sets his course of philosophical discussion as he does the concurrent motorcycle journey — gently, with a seemingly uncharted route which somehow works its way perfectly through the necessary philosophical territory. He questions experience (subjective, objective, or otherwise), “classical” and “romantic” perspectives, and introduces the concept of “Quality.” I have no authority upon which to explain these terms, since I’m highly doubtful that I understand them myself. But truly, something about these concepts has changed the way I perceive life and continuity and other people, trying to understand the same things in different ways.

This book has become part of my life. There are so many stories which are wonderful, and exciting, and even question things yet this book is something outside of these. It is a sacred journey which Robert Pirsig has somehow slipped between the folds of a paperback and of which we, as readers, are allowed a glimpse.

Flagstaff peak

There are some places which are somehow spiritual. Yesterday David and I, on the advice of a woman I met at the dog park, drove all the way down Baseline Road until it became Flagstaff Road. We stopped at Panorama Point… which turned out to be the top of the Star Hike. 

We started walking upwards, and it was a lovely, mostly horizontal path. We found a few incredible boulders, and stayed to watch a few climbers. 

After a while we realized we were almost at the top of a mountain. 

We kept climbing, until we reached a plethora of picnic tables, an old well, and a few house-looking structures. We turned left, toward an “overlook.”

We walked into the most magnificent mountain sunset overlook.

Happiness is something you run into, I think. If you chase it, it becomes an obsession. Don’t worry about being happy. But if you find it in places, or in people, or otherwise, then follow what you find. 

Music: Molly Kollier and Kristen Ford

Two incredible women with completely different styles of music, back-to-back at the Laughing Goat Coffeehouse. We walked in, wary because the coffeehouse hosts all kinds of music (I have nothing against old country bluegrass, but it just isn’t my jam)… But as I ordered my coffee it was immediately obvious I woul be staying for a while.

We sat and watched, listened, and experienced. Molly’s voice was siren-like, and her eyes strayed from face to face to ceiling. She lost herself into the music sometimes. Her hair was wild, and her sound was unconstrained.

Kristen is from Nashville. Her hair was tossed to one side, dark and curly and her smile easy. She wore business-like attire and her poster told us she was a “one-person Indie/Rock band.” Her warm-up had us gaping. I leaned forward, only realizing songs later that I was sitting on the edge of my chair. Kristen told the audience to clap, showed us how to sing a verse. The sound of the entire audience joining in was incredible. Many voices together somehow sound like one immensely powerful voice. We laughed at the absurdity of her abilities to manipulate a loop pedal, and were hooked completely. She was compelling, yet perhaps not as raw as Molly. Two sides of a coin.

Watching the audience member’s eyes and reactions… People looked at each other at times almost shyly, like they were looking for a model reaction. I think the raw humanity, like in Lilavati’s storytelling, made people uncomfortable and perhaps on shaky ground personally. We don’t know who we are, stripped down. We want to be like other people. 

Songs are storytelling, after all. Listening to the words is fascinating, but so is releasing any intellect ion and simply absorbing the melody.

Boulder Farmers Market & exploring the Public Library

D’Andre and Mira drove alllll the way from Colorado Springs to visit David and me in Boulder. They’re both in the Air Force Academy — just completed their finals — so David and I really wanted to give them a beautiful Saturday in Boulder. I guess it’s kind of pretentious of us to try to show Boulder to them, seeing as they’ve lived in Colorado for two years while we’ve been here for two weeks, but we tried our best!!

We all met at the Boulder Farmer’s Market around 11. David and I brought Lacey and walked her through the farmer’s market… I’ve read a fair amount of ethnography in my anthropology courses at Rollins, and the looks we were getting reminded me of the first part of most anthropologists’ research through participant observation: the period of making mistakes, culturally speaking. I knew that we must be doing something wrong… I looked around. No other dogs within the market stalls. Quickly I pulled David and Lacey to the side — immediately we found a sign saying “no dogs for sanitation purposes.”

Embarrassed, we walked away from the stalls into the grassy/park area. IMG_1455

This picture was taken later in the day, but while the Farmer’s Market was going on the park was absolutely full of humans. There was a group of women and men, both topless, in the center of the park with “Free the Nipple” signs… Families were milling around the group — there was no difference in atmosphere. It was completely, wonderfully, acceptable. Children didn’t care. It goes to show that perhaps our biases truly are culturally and societally created.

Oh, so at this point we decided our best bet was to bring Lacey home so that we could walk among the stalls without worry… skip about 45 minutes where David and I walked to our car, brought Lacey home, drove back, parked, and walked back to the Market to meet D’Andre and Misa.

We walked around the Market for a few hours, spending time at nearly all of the stalls. We sampled salsas, pestos, vegan treats… I actually bought our group of four a beautifully inexpensive vegan muffin which we split four ways. I also made everyone try the kombucha at Happy Leaf (I ended up buying a bottle of the lemongrass kind — for four dollars the kind lady handling the booth filled my water bottle) then at Rowdy Mermaid (I had finished the lemongrass by then, so I got another $4 water-bottle-full of their coconut coffee variety which was INCREDIBLEEEEEE)…

Sometime during this experience we met “XO Earth Man,” a wonderfully fashionable gentleman wearing a globe atop his hat covered in buttons all relating to the Earth. We all talked for a while, during which time he told us about a future in which banks reward people who work toward saving the environment. He told us that the environment will collapse by 2035, and that each moment we give toward saving the environment makes an enormous difference. From what I’ve read in my environmental studies courses, I believe him. Anyways, he was wonderful, and we loved him.IMG_1442

So it turns out that Boulder is teeming with events and cool stuff to do, all available through Google upon a simple search! Yesterday I found something about Wilderness and Feminism, and I was determined to go. I asked the rest of our group if they’d care to join me — well, they were stuck with me by then, so off we went toward the Boulder Public Library.

The address we followed for the discussion turned out to be some kind of branch of the Public Library which was opening a new exhibit which was wonderfully available to touch, listen to, and even to breath into/onto. We walked around in awe, trying to understand the artwork.

In this photo, one of the museum curators patiently explains this piece of artwork to a little boy.

We decided to find the room where the discussion was to be had, since the Library was much larger than we expected. Just around the corner, we were stopped  by a woman at a table covered in brochures. “Where are you trying to go?” I hesitated, and mentioned something about feminism, and she exclaimed, “You’re late!! Go through that door!!” She pointed and we quickly followed her directions, slightly dazed. I was sure the discussion didn’t start for another 45 minutes, but what the Hell.

We walked into a treasure. It is called Salsa Lotería, and is about being Latina in the United States. At first, we thought we were learning how to create the perfect salsa — the audience asked questions of an elderly woman from Mexico, and she replied in Spanish (which was translated into English). Could you substitute ingredients? How did you learn the recipe? Soon, though, the conversation became deeper. A woman walked onstage, sat down, and began to tell her story. This monologue was titled “El Cordo Umbilical” and relayed a woman’s life as a child in Guatemala, where she was caught in an earthquake and saved by her abuela. She lost her ability to speak normally after the quake, though, and only her abuela kept faith in her, teaching her to work past her stutter even as her parents gave up. She told us about her 20s in Costa Rica where she fell in love with dance, then her move to the U.S… then she danced for us. IMG_1451

It was breathtaking and heartbreaking, all in one.

We left after this monologue. I felt pulled to the Wilderness and Feminism discussion (or perhaps it was pure stubbornness that we would get there, come Hell or high water) so we found our way (with help) to the Arapaho room of the Public Library.

We were the only people under 50 in that room. Now I understood why the group was called the “Great Old Broads.”

There were men! They were a recent addition and known as “bros.”

Ah, Boulder.

We were welcomed into their midst with perhaps a little bit of doubt, but acceptance nonetheless. The speaker was Lilavati Sinclair, M.S.W., M.A.

Damn, did she tell a good story. I’ve never spent much time listening to storytellers, although I’ve heard and read about them. I know there were traveling bards at one point in history, and that storytellers have always had a place in human culture. I guess I thought our modern culture didn’t need them as we used to but damn damn DAMN was it an intense experience.

Lilavati had no embarrassment, no withholdings; she lost herself in the story she told. She recounted a Native American myth (Mohawk, I think) about the origin of the Earth. I fell that if I attempt to retell the story it cannot be possibly as entrancing as Lilavati so I hope you will forgive me for not telling it, but I will divulge what I found most intriguing about the experience.

As Lilavati spoke, I felt myself mold into her voice. My eyes followed hers, my mind was in a different world. My emotions rose and fell with the story. A few times during her telling I awoke from the experience and realized I felt uncomfortable that I had become so involved. I thought, then, watching her face and hearing her voice, that it was raw humanity that made me so uncomfortable. It was too much realness.

She described how the female part of a human, regardless of gender, represents a deep tie to nature. She referenced the moon cycles, growth in body and Earth, and more — I was floored. She spoke of seeds which each person has, seeds of home, of childhood, which perhaps we do not bring with us as we grow older. Are we allowed to bring them by our culture? Do we forget who we are? Do we lose our “bones,” which are those parts of us which may last millenia after we have died?

Lilavati told us that women are part of nature, and as such, can find ourselves within nature. She spoke to us of a hope which always resides in seeking new understanding among trees and plants and soil.

When she asked for comments, the other men and women around me spoke and as they spoke, there was something about their eyes which baffled me. It was a strength that I think is specific to those who truly believe in what they are saying. These people spoke of following your intuition, of being strong, compassionate, free, open, WILD. People, they said, were not allowing themselves nor each other to be wild anymore.

Lead by gratitude, they said. Lead by celebrating the life you have learned to lead, the life you love.

“Be wild for yourself.”


The value of sunshine

Be sure you have a window facing the sun. Perhaps it should face the east, so the rising sun may wake you up, or sunset may be your choice. Regardless, build your home so that you cannot forget about sunlight. 

The warmth of walking out the door into a pool of sunshine is a completely unique experience. It’s been chilly here in Boulder for the past few weeks. I woke up to bring Lacey on her morning walk, blanching at the idea of leaving the warmth of our apartment… The surprise of sunshine was incredible. 

Later, I biked to work. David rode too, and while I was at work he programmed at a coffee shop nearby. When I got off work I asked where to meet him. He told me around the building, on a bench. 

That’s the most wonderful phrase, at 6:30 pm during Boulder’s Springtime. 

Biking home was nearly spiritual. 

I never want to forget the sunlight. Another tool for happiness ~ I’ll use this blog to begin a list. We all have to have our lists, I think. Otherwise, it’s easier to become lost.