Sunday, August 28, 2016

From 0 to 100.

When the phone rang this morning, it was my brother John announcing the birth of his fifth grandchild yesterday. Little Reagan Makala Schneider arrived almost two weeks early, weighed in at 7 lbs. 5 oz., 20 inches long and was enthusiastically welcomed by big sister Becca and big brother Tyson. A new life on the planet!

At noon I headed north to Wellington City Park because I heard there was a birthday party going on. In just a couple of days, Paul Ridnour, long-time Wellington resident, will turn 100 and his family had gathered in the park to celebrate with him. Blue and white balloons, tons of delicious food, little knots of people chatting with each other, relaxing in the sun, kids at play. And there was Paul in the shade at a picnic table in the middle of it all, blue eyes sparkling and with a big smile on his face. At the other end of life, there he was, enjoying the moment.

Eleven of his 12 surviving children were there with their families—enough of them and their offspring, numbering six generations, to pretty much fill up the park. His son Richard, a rancher in Craig said, “Sure I recognize all my siblings, but their offspring—too many—I don’t even try.”


And then there’s the rest of us, somewhere in-between, hanging in there with the ups and downs of what it means to be 10 or 30, 50 or 80 just trying to make sense of it all. I wonder what Paul might have to say to Reagan. I wonder, 100 years from now, what all Reagan will have experienced. Dizzying thought. Impossible to imagine. Don’t even try.

Today is a perfect late summer day to be enjoyed, made more precious because there has already been a bit of snow in the high country and we know that winter will arrive before we know it.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dearie, do you remember when...?

It wasn’t easy finding a time when we could all get together for an evening but last Friday night it happened.  Life is busy for each of the seven women who gathered around a sparkling dinner table loaded with delicious grub at Diane’s house. She sent her husband off to spend the evening with her dad, his father-in-law. This was a chick affair—a mini reunion of sorts featuring two grandmas, four daughters and a granddaughter. Except for Ellen, who is 22, this group of women has known each for more than 50 years. The grandmas were in our late twenties back in 1964 when both families moved to Fort Collins and our combined total of eight children ranged in age from one month to five years.

The families lived across town from each other. The kids never went to the same schools. But nevertheless, the family friendship grew. We hiked, picnicked, skied and just hung out together.

And then the kids suddenly grew up. Many of them went away to get educated. They all married and had children. They became “doctors, lawyers, merchants and chiefs.”  And then, slowly, they began to come home. Six of the eight kids are now in or close to Fort Collins. Much to the amazement of the grandmas, even more incredible than the fact that they are now in their eighties, these “kids” are all AARP eligible these days.  They have a slew of children of their own, but no grandchildren just yet.

The food last Friday night was fantastic, as was the setting, but it was almost incidental to the chatter that just would not quit. Story after story poured out:
You remember the time when… It was the middle generation, the “fifties” daughters who entertained themselves and us with stories about themselves and their brothers—no holds barred.

The laughter went on and on. The hour grew late. No one wanted this evening to end. We’ll be doing this again sometime soon and maybe, just maybe, we’ll invite the boys, or maybe we won’t.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's not about the finish line

Photo by Heather Beller

I think maybe I’ve come of age as a runner. Yesterday I did The Run for Hope, a 5k race around City Park, very close to my home. I love this race and have done it many times, but this year was special because a big group of us signed on as “Team Morgan” in support of our fellow runner Cathy Morgan who is waging an incredible battle against the big C. We rounded up as many lime green shirts as we could find and went for it. Part of our group surrounded Cathy and walked the course with her. They all finished in fine style.

My goal was to see if I could better my 5k time for this season, specifically finish the race in under 25 minutes. Probably not impossible, but probably quite unlikely. It would be great, I figured, if I could head for the 5k masters championships in October knowing that a 24-something was still possible.  No harm in dreaming, right?

Even so, I was pretty casual about this race. Too casual it turns out because I never heard a starting gun. In fact, I wasn’t absolutely sure just where the starting line was. When a whole bunch of people started moving, at first I thought they were on their way to the start line. Then I realized that they were actually running,  a fact that made me conclude that this race must have started.  Then I got serious and, I must admit, I tried to make up for lost time.

But unknown to me, I had failed to step on the timing pad at the start line. Who knows how that could happen? I was chatting at the time. Maybe I walked around instead of across it. I’ll never know.

When it was time to check the finishing board, my name did not appear. I’ll never know what my time was, though I can estimate because I saw the clock at the finish line. I didn’t break 25 minutes but I’ll never know how close I came.

And what did it matter? It didn’t.

I had a great time. It was fun being with Morgan and all her friends. The weather was great.  The band and the singer were terrific. The race was well organized. There was a good turnout. The cause was a great one.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Stadium convert

Okay. I’m coming around. In spite of myself and what I once thought, I’m getting excited about seeing a football stadium rise out of the ground in the southwest corner of Colorado State University, not much over a mile from where I live.

After years of controversy; protests, yard signs and some screaming and yelling, the citizens of Fort Collins gave up begging the University not to construct this behemoth, sure to cause unimaginable congestion and impose hardship on nearby neighbors. The fact of the matter was, CSU owned the land and had every right to build upon it whatever they wished. Getting it paid for and dealing with traffic issues aside, seems to me it was done deal from day one.

This Sunday morning I took myself on a campus tour into the stadium construction area. Huge cranes reached into the sky. Already rows and rows of seats were in place far above ground level. It’s gonna be big and it won’t be complete until next year, in time for the opening of the football season.

I got to thinking how much fun it must be to work on this project in most any capacity—to see such a structure coming to life and realizing all that will go on within its walls. This a project with such awesomely visible results.

Early into my run, I found a quarter in the road. No pockets so I carried it in my hot little hand all the rest of the way. That’s because I’m a stingy tightwad and I hate to waste anything. I just don’t have it in me to leave a quarter in the street. And I suppose that’s the reason why I didn’t like the idea of a new stadium on the CSU campus. I could not imagine abandoning a 50-year-old football stadium nestled below the foothills of the Rockies in a location many universities, I thought, would kill for. Plenty of parking. Room for endless tailgate parties. Three miles from town on good roads. No campus congestion.

In my “opposition to the stadium” days, I kept wondering why the existing stadium couldn’t be rehabbed and if not, what in the world would become of it? Abandoning it seemed such a waste and there did not seem to be a good way to recycle or repurpose it.

It took me a while to come around. I suspect CSU officials figured most townies, and even anti-stadium profs and alums, would see the light before the first game day in the new place arrived. I started to think that maybe an on-campus stadium was a good idea after this year’s Bolder Boulder 10k, feeling a thrill as I ran into Folsom Field and felt the energy of a stadium filled with people having a good time and cheering on their friends right there on the campus. And the view got even better as I took my place as a spectator.

I still have moments when I wonder why an on-campus stadium is the key to producing a winning top level football team. But what I do know is that the half-built structure down the road is already a campus landmark. Hopes are high that it will be the site of some happy hometown victories and the source of a whole lot of school spirit.

CSU will play its first game in the new stadium in September 2017. I’ll be walking over.