Thursday, September 26, 2013

Colorado Weekend Top Ten

After a fun and busy 3-day weekend in Colorado, we are back in New Mexico. It is especially exciting because it is officially FALL, and right on cue, the weather is chillier and the air is crisper, which means I can wear the hats and scarves and sweaters that have been gathering dust in the back of my closet since May.

But more on wonderful Santa Fe fall weather in another post. Right now we are going to share with you all the abbreviated version of our Colorado weekend, in chronological order for your reading pleasure!

1. Reuniting with my Bestie

Jordyn & I at a frolf course near her house.
I hadn't seen Jordyn, my best friend of forever, since last December, which was a ridiculously long time, so it was especially excellent to spend Friday afternoon with her. One of the things I love most about our friendship is that we are basically happy doing anything together, which is why we are always laughing in pictures of the two of us! On Friday we walked to a park and took cute pictures together and watched a random Disney movie on Netflix. And it was great!

2. Wedding!
At the core, I would say all you need to make a wedding successful is good people, good food, and good fun; Brandon and Ginger's wedding had it all. Plus, the ceremony was incredibly touching and we got to dance a bunch. Eric has known both Brandon and Ginger for a long time, and in the past few years I've gotten to spend some time with them as well, and it is so obvious that they are a phenomenal couple. It was so great to be there are bask in the happiness that their relationship brings.

Eric & me pre-wedding.
As Eric & I slowly approach serious wedding planning time, it is good to be reminded of the joy and love that weddings bring to everyone involved. Plus, it gave us some good ideas and inspiration. So congrats to the happy couple once again, and thanks for throwing a great party!

3. Breakfast at Silver Grill
Jordyn had a class at 9 on Saturday morning, but I really wanted to squeeze in more hangout time with her, so we went to the Silver Grill Cafe for an early Saturday morning breakfast. Silver Grill is one of Eric's favorite places to eat because they make their own fresh-squeezed orange juice and amazing cinnamon rolls. Ask him sometime to describe their cinnamon roll french toast, which is what he ate on Saturday morning. I got biscuits and gravy, which is always my first choice for breakfast food. It was a great way to start the morning.

4. Going to College
Eric with an outdoor sculpture at CSU.
We had a couple free hours on Saturday morning, so we went to Eric's alma mater and walked around. Neither of us had been to the CSU campus in a few years, and it was fun to hear some of Eric's college stories I had never heard before and see the new changes on the campus (although some of them, in our opinion, are quite ugly). Being on a college campus made me miss being a student quite a bit - the library, the student activities, the academia - but then I remembered homework and missed it a little less.

5. Brunch at Silver Grill
Yep, you read that right... back to the Silver Grill Cafe for brunch! As we were ambling around CSU, Eric's sister Lindsay invited us to brunch with the wedding party and friends, and we had to laugh when she told us that everyone was going to the same place we had just eaten at mere hours before. But hey, it isn't one of our favorite Colorado restaurants for nothing. We had an awesome veggie quesadilla, and we got to spend more time with our friends that we had seen the night before!

6. Longmont Oktoberfest
Did you know that Longmont has an Oktoberfest? I didn't, until we got to Longmont on Saturday afternoon and my dad suggested we go to Oktoberfest that evening. I guess it's usually a fundraiser for the Symphony, but this year they understandably had changed the focus to flood relief. Pizza and beer for a good cause? Fine with me! Apparently many other Longmonsters felt the same way, because there were a TON of people there (at least by Longmont standards). I also found out that three new microbreweries are supposed to come to Longmont in the next year, which will make 6 total! Is Longmont getting cool without me?

We also ended up running into a good number of people we knew, most of whom I hadn't seen in years! It was quite the pleasant surprise.
Eric, me, Debbie, and Eileen!
7. Food from our Parents
I know this is cliche, but it really is awesome to visit our parents and get food from them. Parents know what is up. When we got to Eric's parents' house late Thursday night, his mom had conveniently just baked some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that we had as both a late-night snack and a breakfast snack. In Longmont, we lazed around in the afternoon eating my dad's delicious kale chips (I was the one that got him hooked on them last year, and now he is almost better at making them than I am!) and homemade hummus. Then, back at Eric's parents' house, they gave us a big bag of potatoes from their garden and gifted us some cinnamon honey spread from a Colorado farmer's market! Our families have good taste.

8. Chopping Wood
Most of you probably know that Eric is essentially a lumberjack. He wears flannel shirts, he has a beard, and he loves pancakes. Turns out he is also really good at splitting wood. Eric's folks graciously allowed us to take some of their firewood off their hands, and it needed splitting, and Eric made it look so easy... so I worked up the courage to try.

Admittedly not wearing the best footwear for the job.
Despite my lack of coordination and my general aversion to using large, heavy tools, it was pretty fun and I sort of got the hang of it. So consider me a lumberjack in training! Still working on growing out my beard.

9. Costco
Another first from the weekend: I went to Costco for the first time. Ever. My brother generously took us on a Sunday afternoon, even though historically that is the most crowded day. (He lives literally next door to Costco, it is ridiculous.) It was overwhelming, and we of course ended up buying a few more things than we anticipated, but Eric has convinced me that it will save us lots of money. And combined with aforementioned food from parents, we suddenly have so much food in our house! Is this what adulthood is like?

My favorite thing about Costco was the fact that we bought a large block of Tillamook pepperjack cheese for like, $8. The high prices of Tillamook outside of the Pacific Northwest have made me sad since we moved here, but now we have enough cheese to last us a good while. Oh, and the free samples were pretty nice, too.

10. Amazing Skies
Okay, this technically isn't about Colorado, but on the way out of New Mexico and on the way back, we saw the most incredible skies, filled with orange sunsets, dark purple thunderstorms, and rainbows. I tried to take pictures but of course they look terrible in comparison to what we actually saw. We always talk about how amazing the skies are in New Mexico, and to have a reminder of that on each end of our weekend seemed pretty lucky. We are glad to call this enchanting land home.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Zozobra and Rainy Days

How is it already mid-September? One minute we're celebrating Labor Day and complaining about the heat, and then suddenly it is mid-September and there are massive floodwaters in Colorado and parts of New Mexico. And we realize that we have been neglecting the blog. Sorry, blog.

Zeezy watching the rain.
Eric & I will always be Coloradans at heart, and many of our family members still live there. To see pictures of roads completely destroyed, streets turned into rivers, families evacuated as their homes flooded - it was upsetting. My hometown, Longmont, got hit pretty hard. My dad still lives in the house I grew up in, and last Thursday he, along with the rest of the neighborhood, was evacuated and didn't get to return home until the next day. Here's a picture of some flooding about three houses down from his house:

More water on this street than in the Santa Fe River.
Luckily, my dad is fine, our house didn't flood, and everyone that Eric & I know is safe. Still, it is pretty emotionally unsettling to see your childhood neighborhood torn apart. Bike paths and bridges that were just built last year are completely destroyed. Eric & I can't sop talking about how much money this is going to cost Colorado, the cities, and the people that were affected.

We're going to Colorado this weekend, and I'm kind of nervous to see the aftermath of this disaster. On one hand, it felt weird and sad to see pictures of my home on the news when I wasn't there to experience it. On the other hand, it seemed really intense and I'm sure it will feel intense to be there this weekend.

That is the quick Colorado update. Here in New Mexico, there were some floods in parts of the state, but in Santa Fe we just had 4 straight days of rain. Eric & I didn't mind, because it gave us the opportunity to stay inside and brew beer, make pizza, and bake brownies. It made for a lovely transition to AUTUMN, my favorite season. The weather has been noticeably chillier, the sun is setting earlier every day, and it is totally acceptable for everything to be pumpkin-flavored. We are getting very excited about all the stews we are going to make in our crock pot.

Anyway. Since we are behind on the blogging, we also need to tell you all about the Zozobra.

Zozobra is a giant marionette that is burned every year in the beginning of September in front of thousands of cheering Santa Feans. Will Shuster, a local artist, created this tradition in the 1920s.
Will Shuster with Zozobra back in the day.
Zozobra means anxiety in Spanish, and Zozobra (also called Old Man Gloom) represents all the anxiety, worries, fears, and other bad things that Santa Feans carry with them. The idea is that when he is burned, everything bad is burned with him. Pretty good deal, right? Santa Feans are encouraged to submit their own worries and fears in various "Gloom Boxes" around the city in the weeks leading up to Zozobra.

About a week before Zozobra was burned, Eric & I went to a free gallery exhibit dedicated to Zozobra art. Not knowing what it would be like, I stupidly did not bring my camera, which I immediately regretted because there was SO MUCH Zozobra art. I don't know if I can convey in writing how into Zozobra people are here. There are Zozobra T-shirts, earrings, and posters. There are hundreds of pictures of Zozobra drawn by elementary schoolers in their art classes. There are paintings and sculptures of Zozobra; in fact, there is a solid gold sculpture of Zozobra that one can purchase for a ridiculous amount of money. There are fully-functional birdhouses that are decorated with Zozobra's face and topped with vanity plates that spell out "Zozobra." Most impressively, there is an awesome vintage car with Zozobra painted on the hood decorated with desert imagery. (Again, why did I not have my camera for this??)

At this event, Zozobra himself was displayed for all to see:
That is his head. His body is laying to the left of the picture. You can't tell exactly how huge he is, but take my word for it. When his head is attached he is just about 50 feet tall. FIFTY FEET! Definitely the tallest puppet I've ever seen. It was pretty crazy to see him up close, and Eric & I got to write our fears and worries on a piece of paper and put it in his body ourselves. (When I type that out it does not sound very cool, but trust me, it was pretty cool.) We also learned that Zozobra's hair is a different color each year, and the color of his hair stays secret until the day of the burning.

So, September 5th rolls around, and Eric & I walk down to Fort Marcy Park, where THOUSANDS of people are gathered (equal to almost half the population of Santa Fe, I kid you not), a rock band is playing, and Zozobra is displayed for everyone to see. We note that his hair is green this year. As it gets darker, the music stops, the lights go out, and Zozobra begins groaning and waving his arms around wildly. There is some ceremony involving people in white robes, torch-bearers, and a fire dancer. There are fireworks. It looks something like this:

Zozobras from previous years.
People in the crowd chant, "Burn him! Burn him!" And then, finally, he is set on fire.

Since he is basically made of newspaper, he burns very quickly, but it is still awesome to see him burn. Until his body falls apart, you can see the frame of his figure glowing from the fire. And then his whole body collapses into a smoking pile, there are more fireworks, and everyone is happy.

So now you know about the weirdest and coolest Santa Fe tradition. We were really glad we went, and now we don't have any worries or fears or doubts because they were all burned with Zozobra. (Ha!) Really though, we are happy and well, eating good food and making exciting plans for the near future.