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Ps & Qs: Kate the Cattle Queen

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By Jeannie Perry

Each time I make an appointment for a haircut I tell myself I will try something new; bangs perhaps, or a pixie cut. Although, I’ve never been what you would call pixieish. I come from a long line of large-boned, well-over-six-foot, whiskered highlanders named Horace who lived for 90 years. In fact, I’m not even sure what a ‘pixie’ is… sort of like an elf meets a bird-boned girl from the rainforest? Anyway, I think it sounds adorable! But, in much the same way I promise myself I’ll order something exotic the next time we go for Mexican and then find myself ordering a quesadilla for the gazillionth time in my adult life, I just get a trim.

Ahh, the safety of routine. The trick is keeping the routine positive, especially as I enter the early stages of Cronedom — which I’m looking forward to, by the way. I recently joined the Great Old Broads as a Training Broad and my mantra of late has been “Stay in the light, Carol Anne.” Of course, the actual quote is “Do not go into the light, Carol Anne” in reference to the 1982 movie Poltergeist where the youngest child of a suburban family starts channeling ghosts through their television set. Whenever I watch TV these days I want to stockpile soap, vodka, and candles, and head for the hills…

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I want to rise above the talking heads and their fearful babble, and think, act, and write about recent highlights (— no, I never even get those!) in a positive light. Great things are happening in our world, despite the ever-present corporate Greedy Gusses and their sycophants, but it’s a struggle to keep my focus on the light, instead of the giant cloud of shit that’s headed our way. The Trump administration is gutting our government, leaving a huge chunk of Swiss cheese where there used to be programs in departments that are kinda essential to our security and safety, like the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture. I think it will take a while to realize there isn’t anyone at the helm (or the desk to answer the phone) but when the wheels do come off, then what? Every man for himself, I suppose, which brings me back to my ultimate crafting daydream of learning how to make candles, vodka, and soap so I can live off my stockpile in the woods.

I will also need to channel the help of a ghost; specifically, the ghost of Kate Lindvig, known as the Cattle Queen. Kate was a woman who knew how to get ’er done when it came to surviving in the Rocky Mountains. My grandparents bought Snowmass Falls Ranch from Kate in the 1940s and made it their summer cow camp. But Kate had lived there year-round since the turn of the century, renting cabins to hunters and trappers, raising livestock and living off the land. The story goes that she was a mail-order bride from Denmark, but when she got off the train in Nebraska she took one look around and got back on the train, making her way west to settle in Snowmass, Colorado.

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One of my favorite places in the world, I love to hike in and around Kate’s throughout the year, just watching the seasons change — both in Nature and in myself. I find a sense of peace and tranquility in the woods, away from the things of man, along with my other favorite mantra: Everything will be alright in the end, so if it’s not alright, it’s not the end. And I like the comparison of a single life to the annual rotation of our planet; Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter = Maiden, Mother, Warrior, Crone. I like to imagine Kate working up there through all the stages of her life, in all the Colorado seasons, just because she wanted to. I admire her strength and endurance, but mostly her refusal to settle for her society’s standards. My plan is to still be up in the hills, hiking around in my “new” haircut and staying in the light, well into the winter of my own life.

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