Archive for February, 2010

Alpacas! In Longmont! So! Cute!

Alpaca at the 2008 Extravaganza

Alpaca at the 2008 Extravaganza. Photo snagged from Avedaggio's collection because the ones I took seem to be missing. Click for more.

…And soft, and fluffy, and did I mention cute?

This weekend is the annual Alpaca Extravaganza at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont. As you may or may not know, Colorado is home to oodles of family farms where people raise a variety of animals–sheep, goats, llama, even yak–not only for meat or milk but also for their huggable, cuddlable, spinnable fur. Alpaca seem to be one of the most popular of these fiber animals. They’re docile, they make great pets, and they require very little space as far as grazing animals go. This weekend is your chance to get out to Longmont and meet some of them.

Seminars continue throughout the Extravaganza. The first, “Ranch Set-up for Efficiency and Ease,” is today at 10:00 a.m, followed by “How to Choose Your First Alpaca” at 11:00. The last will be tomorrow’s 2:00 p.m. “What to Do With All That Fiber,” which, if your fiber stash looks anything like mine (mega-voluminous, practically exploding out of the closet), you might find helpful.

Roxxane (baby alpaca) and Me

Another one of Avedaggio's photos from the 2008 Extravaganza. That's me in the green cap wearing the ''dead from the cute'' expression.

But a bigger attraction than the seminars are the animals themselves. Some 15 or so participating farms will be there with their critters, and you can walk right up to the pens and get all gooey-eyed looking at (and if you’re lucky, petting) the absolute adorableness of them. And as if alpaca weren’t heart-melting enough, there’s paco-vicuña, an alpaca-like animal bred for the qualities of its shy and endangered ancestor, the Andean vicuña. If you get a chance to touch the show-and-tell paco-vicuña fleece, don’t pass it up. (Me: “It’s so soft I don’t quite know when I’ve started touching it.” My husband: “It’s like touching the idea of softness.”)

To reiterate: All these awesome farms, animals, fiber and information are on display for your education and entertainment this weekend at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont. On Saturday, February 27, hours are from 9:00 to 5:00; on Sunday, from 10:00 to 4:00. You can call (970) 484-9420 for more information or visit the Alpaca Breeders Alliance of Northern Colorado on the web.

Fundraiser for Earthquake-torn Bhutan (Boulder)

First off, I know what you’re thinking. “When did Denver Metblogs turn into Boulder Metblogs?” Because today’s post is going to be about another Boulder doin’. Look, don’t ask me, there used to be like five of us blogging, all representing different areas of your basic Denver-and-surrounding. Then everyone sort of fell off the map what with life and stuff. Now I’m back (Hi!) and if no one else is yet they probably have good reasons.

So. Boulder! Tomorrow! Fund raiser for Bhutan!

The tragedy in Haiti has gotten a lot of air-time, and rightfully so. But a sad effect of big famous tragedies is how they obscure also big (in terms of human impact) but less famous tragedies. Sort of like after Hurricane Katrina, most of news was about New Orleans and not about, say, towns in gulf-coast Mississippi that had gotten wiped off the map.

The point isn’t to complain about this effect, but to do something about it. And some very good people are indeed doing something.

Bhutan has suffered three (3) major earthquakes in the past four (4) months (see September 2009). That’s a whole lot of shaking in not a lot of time, and the damage to infrastructural necessities has been immense. To raise money to help re-build, an event is going on tomorrow, Friday, February 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the Unity Church of Boulder (2855 Folsom Street). The cost is $35, which covers food, drinks, and your seat in the audience for some wonderful cultural performances. All proceeds go directly to aid the rebuilding efforts in the affected communities.

The flyer says to RSVP by today, Thursday, February 25th, which is sort of almost over. (Sorry. I found out about the event late myself.) But I doubt anyone will turn your money away at the door–every cent will help so much. But to be safe, you might want to call ahead first:

Arunama: (303) 514-4177,
Akayah: (720) 839-6266

Even if you can’t attend, you might want to call to find out how you can help in other ways. (Also, see TLC Bhutan on Facebook.)

Please spread the word as much as you can. Thanks for reading.

Tomorrow: Alpacas! In Longmont!

Homelessness In Your Community: Discuss.

Restoring the Soul, an organization facilitating the service collaboration of faith congregations, has been hosting a series of monthly community forums for several years now. In the organization’s own words:

One aspect of Restoring the Soul: Faith and Community Partnership’s mission is community education on crucial social issues. These Forums present current information via local, expert panelists who are personally involved with the topic issue. The Forums address the information needs of congregations, service agencies and the general citizenry.

(Emphasis mine.) February’s forum is on a topic near and dear to my own heart. It’s called “Homelessness: Compassion and Tension in Community.”

Tension is an appropriate word. I was here in early 2000 when the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless was struggling desperately to find a more adequate location than the converted motel they used to subsist in way up north on Broadway. A facility became available, one that would allow them to multiply their nightly beds, greatly expand their program helping residents transition into independence, and, being more centrally located, give residents better access to jobs and services–but it was too close to a middle school for Boulder parents’ comfort. Because homeless people are scary, dontcha know, they might sneak up to the fence and sell our kids drugs or, y’know, be visible…

The Shelter is in a much better facility now, but it’s still way the hell north on Broadway, at the very last stop of the SKIP route, far enough north that even the “Uptown” residents don’t have to be acutely aware that homeless people exist.

Well, they do exist, and there but for the grace of our paychecks go most of us. No matter how we may like to pretend it can’t happen to us because we’re good, hardworking people who would never bring the problems of homelessness and poverty on ourselves by being lazy and getting drunk or whatever–it can happen to anyone. All it takes is one unaffordable emergency, one medical diagnosis, one divorce, one abusive family member… And if it happens to you, do you think you’re going to suddenly turn into an amoral predator apt to corrupt children through a schoolyard fence? Would the inability to make the rent turn you into an urban danger overnight?

See also: Being Poor.

So. Important topic. Important forum. Open to the public. If you’re reading these words, you’re invited.

It’ll be this Thursday, February 25th at Congregation Har HaShem (3950 Baseline). The panel, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will be facilitated by Greg Harms, Executive Director of the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless. Panel members will be Joy Eckstine (Carriage House), Joe Pickett (St. Andrew Presbyterian Emergency Warming Center), and Jim Budd (Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow). After the panel there will be half an hour for Q&A.

For more information about attending or how you can listen to a recording of the forum afterwards (via KGNU or online), please visit Restoring the Soul’s informational Forums page.

And thank you for reading.

Elven Career Day Delegation to Visit Boulder Baptist Church


Time for Health Insurance Reform

I am so frustrated I could spit!

At my company, we are going through our annual health insurance renewal process.  Our health insurance company (who shall remain unnamed to protect the guilty) raised our costs by 28%.  It should be noted that their original proposal was for a 33% increase and they “kindly” reduced it to 28%.

In my opinion, that is outrageous.  No other costs are increasing at that rate.  It is an extreme hardship on our staff and a boat anchor for our business.  We will never be able to get the economy going again if businesses across the US are forced to increase their health insurance costs by 28% a year.

My company essentially split the cost with our staff by absorbing a 14% increase in the premiums and passing on the additional cost to the heaviest users in the form of higher deductibles.  The only winner here is the insurance company.

Here is an article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution on the same topic.

The system is broken and it needs to be fixed.  I don’t know if the health insurance legislation that is stalled in Congress is the answer, but I do know that they need to do something – and do it soon.  The Republican approach of denying and delaying is absolutely unconscionable.

Agave Mexican Bistro & Tequila House

Agave Mexican Bistro & Tequila HouseAgave had been “coming soon” to Boulder for the better part of a year since La Maricopa left the corner at 28th and Valmont. (You know the place. That’s where Gondolier used to be before they moved into where Magic Mushroom Pizza used to be.) Then, about three months ago, I saw Agave posting Now Hiring ads in the paper. And yesterday a friend told me they’d been open for a little while now.

I finally had a chance to try them out today.

The restaurant pings my “fine dining” radar, first with the fancy-schmancy name (“Bistro” tends to mean “add ten bucks”), then with the dimly lit interior, the dark wood veneer tables, and of course the top shelf tequila. (My dining companion and I did not sample the tequila. Next time.) Also, the availability of table-side guacamole reminded me of the high-priced Cantina Laredo Gourmet Mexican Food (“Gourmet” is sort of like “Bistro”) down on the 29th Street Mall. But our bill turned out to fall somewhere between a Cantina Laredo splurge and a Casa Alvarez comfort food dinner: $31 for the two of us, post-tax but pre-tip.

We each had a $10 tamale plate. For me, the omnivore, there were Tamales Rojos y Verdes: one chicken tamale smothered in a delicious green chili, one pork tamale in a slightly bitter (mole, I’m guessing) red enchilada-style sauce. For my vegetarian dining companion, the Tamales Agave, two tamales stuffed with black beans and spinach and covered in green chili. The tamales were presented beautifully, lying atop their corn husks, garnished with cubes of tomatoes and mango.

The dishes came with a common bowl each of beans and rice to share. We had our choice: for beans, refried or black or… I forget what they called it, but it involved chorizo; for rice, Mexican or lime-cilantro. We had Mexican rice and refried beans. The latter came garnished with queso fresco. We ended up needing extra rice (hot tamales!). They didn’t end up charging us extra.

For dessert, we split the fried ice cream ($7). It was just the right size for two people who weren’t sure they had room for dessert. It was everything fried ice cream should be: vanilla bean ice cream served in a tostada shell, covered with the requisite crunchy stuff, topped with whipped cream, garnished with mint and a sliced strawberry, and drizzled with a chocolate sauce so rich it verged on alcoholic.

So the food was awesome. The service was too; we felt more than adequately taken care of and never spent an uncomfortable time waiting for anything. My only complaint, if I had to complain–if you twisted my arm and said, “Complain! Complain, or else!”–was the noise level. We sat in one of the booths near the bar, and I could hear the conversation from the booth behind my friend better than I could hear my friend herself. Our own conversation involved a moderate amount of bending our heads over the table and going “What?” To mitigate this complaint, I should note that there was a party of eight having a grand old time at the big table nearby. And the restaurant was full up, prime dining hour full. So I’m not surprised it was noisy.

Before we left, we made sure to check out the happy hour specials and hours. It’s from 3 to 6 on weekdays, there’s half off of appetizers, and there are beer and margarita specials that I didn’t look too closely at. I mean, after all, we were going to be back soon. We could investigate more closely then, right?

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