Monday, February 27, 2012

The Kids Are All Right

“We’re bleeding confidence right now.” 
-Matt Duchene
My heart is so happy.

This time last year, around the NHL trade deadline, the Avs were struggling. Struuuuuuuuggling. As in two back to back ten game losing streaks, struggling. As in… our only hope is the number two overall draft pick we’re earning right now, struggling. As in this is the worst season since the team moved to Denver, struggling. STRUGGLING. And it was very sad, because the year before that they made the playoffs, and going into February they were 4th in the West, and nobody expected them to tank like that.

But this year. THIS YEAR… has been far from perfect, but I love where they are right now. Because while their position in the playoffs is far from secured, they are right in the thick of it. And they are fighting for it. Hard. They’re showing us, the fans who have suffered through their crap the last few years, that they want it, and that they’re not going to give up, and that they’re not going to let us down again.

Basically what I’m saying is that I feel very appreciated by them right now.

The Avs have won seven of their last ten games, and they’ve won their last four in regulation (which is huge – if a game goes to overtime or a shootout, the loser team still gets a point). They won a game against the Red Wings IN Detroit, after the Wings had gone 23 games in a row without losing one there and 24 straight where they got a point (the streak was broken the previous game, where they lost in a shootout). This ridiculous team, which happens to have the youngest average age of any team in the NHL, is rolling.

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That picture is from the game tonight (click to see more from the gallery on the Avs website), which was against the Anaheim Ducks. While it’s true that I take a special pleasure these days in watching the Avs beat teams from California, this win feels so huge. It was nice to win the last three before this, but now it’s four. Now it’s a streak. And now they have more points (70) than they got in all 82 games last season (68).

Today was the trade deadline, and they sent two guys (including TJ Galiardi, which sent me into such overwhelming fits of joy that I considered dedicating an entire post to the event) to San Jose for another guy who didn’t get to Denver in time to play tonight, but can and will only serve to make this team better. And that’s the thing – this team wants to be better. They know they need to be better if they want to make the playoffs, and if they want to be a legitimate Cup contender down the road.

That’s my favorite thing about them right now. The post-game interviews from tonight all had them saying things like “those first two periods weren’t good enough” or “we can’t start out like that if we expect to win some games down the stretch” or “yeah, we found a way to win that one.”

Yeah, we somehow managed to… score four beautiful highlight reel goals that looked like cake. Our goalie somehow managed to only let in one goal on 28 shots. That's nothing.. It’s just not enough. Keep going. Keep working. Keep pushing. We’re here. We want to be there. We want to be the best.

They’re confident, sure, but they aren’t cocky. There isn’t a single moment where they’re bragging about anything. No indication whatsoever that they think they can take their foot off the gas. They aren’t planning to coast. Hockey players are pretty humble in general, but not a single one of these guys takes credit for anything they do, and their opinion of their play is always “We have to be better. We can be better. We will be better.”  It’s a refrain. It should flash in subtitles at the bottom of the screen during these interviews, as a translation of what their bottom line is.

They aren’t settling for wins. They’re demanding them. They don’t just want to win, they want to blow their opponents out of the water. They want to win every game 10-0, and they’re playing like it.

As opposed to last year, when watching an Avs game was comparable to watching this:

This is not even close to an exaggeration.

This team is so young. Stupidly young. A bunch of them are a lot younger than me, which I’m still routinely alarmed by. But there’s a significant core of them that went through what we’ll call Sports Hell last season. It made them better. These dudes grew up fast, because they were forced to. It’s showing.

By no means am I saying they’re a sure thing for the playoffs. The race for that 8th spot is tight, and yeah, they put themselves in this position with less than stellar play earlier in this season. But I have faith in them. And if they do make it in? They’re gonna deserve to be there.

Even if they don’t make it, I still see every reason to be excited about this group of guys going forward. This is the beginning of something big.

This is when it’s fun to be a sports fan. Sometimes it sucks. But sometimes, it’s awesome.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Instagrammy Gram

So this week overall was not super awesome – it involved an unplanned trip to Texas for my grandfather’s funeral. While that was definitely an emotional time, it was good to see my Texas family again and kind of take a break from the world.

The best part, though, has to be the allergies Texas decided I was missing out on by not living there anymore. All this sneezing… feels just like old times.

Today I’m just posting some of my Instagram pictures from the last week or so, because 1) why not and 2) Instagram is awesome and I will punch you if you disagree. So deal with that, anti-hipsters.

Last weekend we went to see Lord of the Dance. My sister got us the tickets for Christmas. I didn’t write about it on here but it was a childhood dream come true, since my sister and I grew up on our VHS of that show. We also liked Riverdance, but not as much. It was weird because for some reason I almost started crying during the first dance of the performance because I was so happy to be there. Look, judge me if you want, but Michael Flatley is a genius and this show is the greatest.

Here is a picture of the stage before it started. It’s the only picture I took because I would have gotten in trouble for taking any others.

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Here is a picture of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog stretching at practice last Tuesday. Also some goalies, and probably David Jones.

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This blurry dog is Max.

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Here’s a less blurry picture of him. He wants to be your best friend.

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This is Jack. You’ve met him before. (More pictures of him soon, since he’s the best.)

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My grandfather’s obituary.

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<3

Monday, February 20, 2012

Poop Town

Greeley really isn’t that bad. It isn’t. It just has confusing roads, terrible drivers, and a constant poop smell, that’s all. It’s just the cows, they can’t help themselves.

My sister goes to school there, and last Thursday I went and visited her. She’s graduating this semester, so this was one of my last chances to go see her before she… moves back in here with the rest of us, I guess? Anyway, it was fun.

For dinner we went to a place called JB’s, where you order your food with a phone at your table. (It’s a drive-in, but you can also go inside.)

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There was also a big painting of some whales on the wall, but it was too far away to take a picture without looking like a crazy whale lady.

Oh hey… look what’s on the menu.

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I’m going to be honest… this is like a 3.5 out of 10 grilled cheese. I still ate it all, but it was stale and crumbly and reminded me of Baylor dining hall grilled cheese sandwiches. (Not Memorial, of course. The other ones.) The fries were good, though.

After this, we went over to the University of Northern Colorado campus so Katie could show me some of the stuff she’s been making in her pottery class. She’s pretty good.

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I’m excited to see what they’ll look like when they’re all finished.

After that, we went to this place called Eileen’s Colossal Cookies (which is apparently a chain store because there’s also one of these right by my house). I got an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and my sister got a snickerdoodle.

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It was delicious.

The rest of the evening was spent hanging out with Dora* and watching the Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson, which is by far the best movie version of that book. It’s not a perfect movie, but I love it. It’s my favorite of all the many, many Jane Austen adaptations. Alan Rickman is the best possible Colonel Brandon and quite frankly, I don’t know why anyone else bothers to try.

*This is Dora:

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She enjoys food and is an expert at being as annoying as possible in her endeavors to get Katie to give it to her.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Day of My Four Most Favorite Things*

On this, the one year anniversary of the retirement of Colorado Avalanche legend Peter Forsberg, we take a moment in reverent silence to reflect upon a glorious and beautiful career that was ended far too soon due to a seemingly endless array of injuries. We also make a stink face at the fact that he played for two other teams besides the Avalanche at different points, both of which shall remain nameless, because we hate them.

We also take this moment to remember the devastating loss suffered that same day at the hands of the hated division rival Calgary Flames, wherein the Avalanche lost 9-1 – the worst loss in franchise history. We saw the entire thing from the thirteenth row, wearing our Peter Forsberg jersey and wishing, hard, that the collapse of the legacy left behind by our current and future hall of famers was just slightly less obvious.

And now, let’s stop thinking about those things, and look to the future, because it is oh so bright! And let us pray that the Canucks don’t do anything like that to us tomorrow.


All right that’s enough of that. That is what Valentine’s Day makes me think of, though. Just… the memory of the lake of tears I cried that day.

I actually did some stuff today. Because my relationship with the Colorado Avalanche is the longest non-familial relationship of my life, I spent the morning with them.

Some pictures from practice:

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Oh hey look… it’s Matt Duchene! You’re almost back! Please get rid of that heinous orange jersey posthaste!

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Non-contact jersey = non-participate in anything cool. Sad day for Dutchy.

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And then Jiggy smiled for my camera (maybe?) and it was great.

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Gabriel Landeskog getting some fighting tips from seasoned fighter Cody McLeod.

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I just like the way Landeskog is standing in that one.

After this, I stopped by Steak N’ Shake for lunch. This stupid place is always overcrowded and frankly the idea of a piece of steak on a sandwich disgusts me somewhat, but they do have an amazing grilled cheese sandwich.

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Wait for it…

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AWWWWWW yeah.

You can’t really tell from that picture, but I’m pretty sure they use the Texas toast bread for this, which is basically the reason I love it so much. I waited in a line at the drive through that I would not even consider waiting in at any other establishment to get this sandwich. It has the perfect ratio of cheese to bread, is toasted just right (actually, the other times I’ve been there it has been toasted just right – this time it could’ve used a little more, but whatever), and is a really great size for something that is (once again) on the kid’s menu. The fries here are pretty subpar, and normally I would take points off for that because I love fries, but this sandwich completely makes up for those. I say it gets my first 10. Congratulations, restaurant at which I would not eat a single other thing off your menu!

As soon as I finished my lunch, I drove out to Parker to hit up Nomelie Cupcakes. I forgot to take a picture of it from the outside, so you’ll just have to imagine what it looks like.

I got two red velvet cupcakes and two cookies and cream cupcakes, one of each for me and one of each to surprise my mom for Valentine’s Day (look, I’m not completely cynical and heartless).

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Oh… hi Leo.

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Oh, the beauty of a perfect cupcake!

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Oh, the beauty of an imperfect cupcake!

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Here they are in their home.

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Here are some cat feet.

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And here is a Pippin.

Story about Pippin… last week he was playing around with Leo and pulled a muscle in his back left leg. We didn’t know what exactly had happened or what was wrong, but for about two days he refused to really move at all, and when he did, he didn’t put any weight on that back leg. Leo was a good little brother and kept him company (and helped him finish all his food, of course), but it was kind of scary. He hissed at me a couple times when I tried to come near him. We took him to the vet on Friday and they told us what was wrong and gave us some medicine, but naturally Pippin was not interested whatsoever in taking the medicine and decided to get better all by himself. Which he did, immediately after he came home from the vet. His thought process probably went something like “I am NOT going back to that place if I can help it.”

Anyway, he’s fine now.

I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day and that your favorite team did not get blown out in horrific fashion on the day your favorite player of all time retired. But if that did happen to you, I would definitely give you one of my cupcakes, because you would need it much more than me. (Trust me. You would need it badly.)

*Hockey, grilled cheese sandwiches, cupcakes, and cats. In case that wasn’t clear.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

“We have lingered in the chambers of the sea / By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown / Till human voices wake us, and we drown.”

I tried to write a pithy tweet that encompassed all of these thoughts and feelings, but I failed. So now it’s a blog post.

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I’ve seen some posts floating around about this book, but none of them really come close to expressing in any way how I feel right now, having just finished it about twenty minutes ago.

In fact, I find myself pretty overwhelmed by the woeful inadequacy of the reaction posts I’ve stumbled across (maybe I’m not reading the good ones?) – this isn’t just “a good book” that “you should read” “if you’re into that kind of thing.” I’m not going to tell you to read The Fault in Our Stars because I would never ever want someone to feel like they have to read this book, like it’s this burden they’re bearing because their friend said it was good and now they feel obligated. No. This book is too beautiful for that, and deserves to be approached willingly by every person who opens it up.

I have a Nook, and I love it, because it lets you carry around a library in your purse, or whatever, and books are cheaper when they’re e-books, and that’s convenient for unemployed people who like to read. But I somehow could tell that The Fault in Our Stars was not a book that could be appropriately appreciated without holding it. This is the kind of book that demands to be experienced in every way you can experience a book. Buy it and read it and feel the weight of it as you turn the pages, give it the chance to give you paper cuts, get food on it accidentally when you take it to read at Noodles and Co. before a hockey game. Let it be alive the way real books can be alive.

It’s about a girl who has cancer, and she falls in love. There. That’s about all I knew about it when I started to read it, and that’s all you need to know. You’ll find it in the YA section, but that doesn’t matter. The book jacket makes it sound like a sappy teen romance, but it isn’t. It’s a book that will devastate you in the best possible way and force you to appreciate every single breath you draw into your lungs.

Anyway, read it. Or don’t read it, whatever. (If you have read it, though – please, please talk about it with me.)

john green

Saturday, February 11, 2012

You Know When You Shout a Lot and Then Your Voice Hurts and You Can’t Stop Coughing? Yeah. That.

First, some irrelevant analysis: If we were judging this hockey season based solely on the outcome of the games I have gone to (which we definitely cannot reasonably do, at all), this year the Avs are absolutely tearing it up compared to last year.

Last season I went to seven games, and they won four of those. So far this season, I’ve gone to six games (including a preseason game), and of those, they have won five. I have seen the Avs win in person one more time this year than I did last year, and the same amount of times in the regular season as last year. And it’s only February.

However, all the regular season games I’ve seen them win have been against Eastern conference teams (Capitals, Flyers, Panthers, Hurricanes), and the one I saw them lose was a division game (Wild). This is problematic. I have no more comments on this issue, because it upsets me.

I’ve only seen them win once in regulation. One was a shootout, won on a goal from Ryan O’Reilly. The other two were won in overtime. By Ryan O’Reilly. Who has snuck up and become the greatest thing to happen to this team in the 2009 draft (sorry Dutchy, I still love you, but we all know you aren’t going to win the Selke any time soon).

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(I did not take this picture.)

But he is ridiculous. He played a great game and had some great chances and scored the gamewinner and afterwards all he could talk about is the fact that he didn’t score twice during the game to help them win 5-3 in regulation. Never cuts himself a break. I could not be happier he is an Av. He was drafted 33rd overall – you know who had the 32nd pick? Detroit. The Detroit Red Wings. I don’t even… I just… what if… but no. He’s ours, and ours for good. This guy is the next captain, absolutely.

This was the best game I’ve ever gone to. For real this time. I know I said that last time, and I said this disclaimer part last time too, but this one really was the best. I went to a game last year where they tied it to go into overtime with about three seconds left, and that was amazing and intense, but this game they won in overtime with 1.2 seconds left. And the house was packed, because it was Military Appreciation Night, and everything that came with that elevated this game to a totally different level.

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They wore these camo jerseys during warmups. They’re all signed now and getting auctioned off.

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Oh, Shane O’Brien.

If you’re interested in watching the whole pre-game ceremony, where they honored all branches of the military and had a Medal of Honor winner from Fort Collins do the ceremonial puck drop and Joe Sakic made an appearance, click here. The game was broadcast around the world to military bases and ships at sea and I could not be happier or prouder that the Avs put on such a great show for them.

Here’s the recap of the actual game:

They gave away some camo Avalanche hats signed by Joe Sakic to a few people who were finalists in a contest. During the game, one of the girls who won one of these hats came over to our row, where a couple of guys in uniform were sitting next to us, and asked them to sign her hat. There were lots of other signatures on the hat by this time, so I can only assume she was going around to these guys asking a bunch of them for their autographs. I know she was just one person, but I thought this was such a great and simple way to show them that they’re the real heroes. Joe Sakic is a legend, but all he did was play some great hockey. These guys willingly put their lives on the line for their country day after day. They deserve to be cheered the way we cheer for our favorite sports heroes, and it was so great to be there and get to do that last night.

One last thing: during the second intermission, these guys got sworn in. It was so cool.

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Thanks for being such a classy organization, Avalanche. So proud to be a fan today.

Now please go thrash the Blues.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Sweet Tooth is Now Set For Another Couple Weeks

Remember when I lived in California for a hot minute and there were cupcake places everywhere? And I would go to those places and then blog about them? Well… Colorado has cupcake shops too (praise the Lord). Gigi’s is pretty close to where I live, so today I went and scoped it out.

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I’m glad I went when I did (around 1) because it doesn’t look like their cupcake selection lasts all day. Which… isn’t really surprising, because: cupcakes.

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The sticker says “You are about to discover why we are swirls above the rest.”

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Since taking these pictures, I have devoured the Wedding Cake cupcake and yes, of course it was delicious. The little tiny sprinkles got everywhere, though. EVVVVerywhere. But it’s okay. I forgive you, sprinkles, you can’t help it.

I haven’t had the other one yet, as I am saving it for a moment in time where I feel like I have enough room in my stomach to eat it. These suckers are filling. (You could probably have guessed that from the sheer amount of frosting.)

I didn’t plan on getting two of the less interesting flavors – in fact I was assuming there was some kind of white chocolate thing going on with the second cupcake, but no such luck. However, I’m finding it hard to regret literally anything about this trip to Gigi’s because HELLO: CUPCAKES.

Gigi’s has much cooler flavors than the two I got, including Canadian Maple, Kentucky Bourbon Pie, Raspberry Buckle, and Amaretto Amore. There are Gigi’s all over the place, so go see for yourself. Their menu is different each day of the week, so if you want to try a specific flavor you’re gonna have to plan ahead. (Don’t worry though, their website will help you.)

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This almost happened.

P.S. This has nothing to do with anything in this post but I am incredibly stoked about this development. More hockey! MOAAARRRR!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Hair is Even Better In Person

Skype is a wonderful invention. It lets me talk to my family and best friends who are both near and far and, if we don’t feel like talking, the instant messaging is unsurpassed (though it used to have games – I miss you, Sea Battle).

Today, I got a call from someone particularly special:

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This is my cousin Jack. He likes to play video games. And to call people on Skype. And to play video games for the people he calls on Skype. (He really likes Little Big Planet and Lego Batman.) He also likes to run around and shout things the people he’s talking to on Skype can’t understand, and then vanish into the next room in search of his mom so she’ll talk to the person he called on Skype while he plays video games.

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He told me (with some prompting) that today at school, he played with cars in the sandbox with his friend. Then (with some more prompting) he sang me a song he learned. In that picture he’s wearing his policeman hat that he made at school, because this week is Community Helper Week, and policemen, teachers, doctors, and “fiert-fightors” are included in this category. According to him, policemen "have guns and shoot the bad guys, like in Lego Batman."

Basically, Jack is the best. I'm a little disappointed at how adamant he is about not wanting to ever eat a grilled cheese sandwich, but he's only four. He's got time.