Mountain Bluebirds in Manitou Springs

Colorado Mountain Bluebird

It’s 14 degrees and snowing lightly in this little village at the foot of Pikes Peak. Got up at 5:45 because Peanut still hasn’t adjusted to the time change. He knows exactly when it’s time to eat breakfast and makes sure I know it too. My wonderful neighbor Eunice brought me up some water from the nearest Spring yesterday…I need to get out today and buy some birdseed for the forest bluebirds that have finally discovered my bird feeder. Yes, THAT should get me out! And firewood! Have a great Saturday!
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Peanut Escapes!

Peanut got loose, zooming out the door while i was getting firewood. Zoomed down steps toward the busy weekend traffic,  zoomed around corner, flew across the creek up into the forest disappearing; I’m calling and whistling for him damning myself for getting so close to the little bugger. He hides in the little smokehouse across the creek, I run in and get a bone, he zooms down the busy street. A kind dog walker tries to catch the little road runner, however, Peanut slips out of his arms. I call Peanut, whistling, waving his latest chew bone,,,,he’s almost a block away. Cars are zooming around the corner. I feel nauseated. He runs like lightning towards me.  I pounce on him with my bum knee. I think I’m going to barf.

When tourist season starts he just won’t make it if he runs into the street. And when the snowmelt starts he may have to learn to swim upstream if he hops in the stream again. And when the bears get out of hibernation….well let’s not think about that.

Loving and Responsible Pet Owner

Because I am a loving and responsible pet owner, I only cuss and grumble minimally under my breath, while standing in my pj’s and slippers in a down coat with a zipper that doesn’t work, at “even too early in the a.m. for God,” in 18 degrees and snow, while Peanut sniffs EVERY single, minute, blade of grass and dead vegetation before picking just the right one before, “doin his thing.”

Little Feet

Even here on the mountain in Florissant, summer is being stubborn. The weather has been glorious and warm and aspens have held on to their golden leaves longer than usual.  Mike is on top of preparing for the winter as he cuts down the beetle diseased trees at his friend’s in Woodland Park and we have a couple of tidy stacks of split wood in the front and side of the house. Even though the winter snows are gorgeous in the massive pines that surround the house and neighborhood, I feel a sense of dread. The roads in to town become more treacherous and of course the cold is biting.  It’s a different kind of winter though compared to winters in other regions in which I lived. The sun comes out! It doesn’t always melt the snow here, however, it is warming and I love the feel of it on my face and it brings the animals out to bask.

The Woodland Park School district has been calling me almost daily to guest teach at all of their schools and I work just a couple days a week at the shop in Manitou Springs now that tourist season has winded down.  This afternoon I get to drive down the pass and work in the shop. I so look forward to it. It’s not just the meeting of customers from the town and from all over the world, but I love the short walk from my car to the shop. I love to greet the dog walkers on Lovers Lane and if I am lucky, Rocky the town’s most beloved artist, and I will engage in a short conversation.  Rocky lives and has his studio two studios down from the shop and also uses a room below us. One time he said he missed the “little feet” running in our store above him. I thought for a minute about that and came to the conclusion that he was talking about Mandy the gray, black and white spotted,  dachshund that Nancy the manager brings to the store with her. Mandy stays in a little cubby, resting on a stack of blankets beneath our counter.  Mandy had been on vacation while Nancy was visiting her parents in upstate New York.  Rocky has good ears to notice these little dog feet on our wooden floor.

I took this picture from the shop while Rocky was actually posing for a picture for a photographer across from him at the town clock. Rocky is in the process of writing a fictional book and everyone in town is looking forward to when it is completed.

Ruthie

Ruthie watching Olympic ice-skating on tv

“Ruthie, here Ruthie, where are you Ruthie?” I chanted outside the car window, on a recent visit, while driving down a Lawrence alley.  I was looking for my cat Ruthie who found a new home in Lawrence, Kansas one winter day about 4 years ago.

She was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and first adopted by me when she was a tiny little kitten. We had a good 5 years together. Oh my. That makes Ruthie 9 years old? Wow. I didn’t realize that until now. How time flies when you are having fun.

Anyway, to get on with one of her stories. Cat stories. I never thought I would ever have a cat story. I don’t even really like cats very much. Just my Ruthie. My oldest daughter, Jenny made me, forced me, dragged me to the Golden Valley Humane Society in Minnesota so that I could buy a companion. Actually, I think she and her husband paid for her. I didn’t think I needed a companion, however, my daughter was adamant. They needed me to have better boundaries (not visit their crib so much) so Jenny thought this might help.  I had followed them to Minneapolis about 9 years ago while Tom went to graduate school.  I originally rented a place across the street from them. Jenny invited me.

Ruthie was unique. Most cat owners describe their cats that way, however, really, she was special. In good ways and not so good ways. Sometimes Ruthie thought she was a dog and when she heard people in my hallway or at the outer door she would run to our door and bark.  I love it.  She was also very intuitive and when I was ill, she would pounce gently to my side in bed and cuddle up with me.  She also had a bit of a personality disorder,,,,not just the multiple personality kind (thinking she was a dog) but she liked to sneak up on people, fly through the air and land on their shoulders. Not cool. Especially when a particular guest was holding a full glass of icy lemonade. Ruthie decided to welcome her to my living room with one of those flying through the air episodes and I ended up with a very flustered screaming guest and a lemonade stain on my ceiling. Sometimes I would take 4-5 day trips and have someone check on her food and water occasionally. When I would return, she would run at my heals bitching me out with her whiny meows, for leaving her. That would last about 3 days.

Tom graduated and Jenny, Benny and Tom moved to Lawrence, Kansas.

So Ruthie and I lived in my brownstone four blocks from Lake Harriet happily ever after until I decided to move to Colorado. I had a long talk with her and told her I was going to have to give her to someone else and I would try to keep her in the family so we could continue our love-hate, co-dependent  relationship together.  My son reluctantly said he would take her. He lived in Oklahoma.

I went to Petco or Pet Smart, one of those mega pet stores, not sure which and bought her a fancy soft sided mobile home and some dander spray for my son’s benefit. He has had allergy issues since he was a kid. I put her in her mobile home in the front seat of my CRV with the trailer hitched behind and took off for Colorado. This was Thanksgiving weekend. My first stop was Lawrence, Kansas to have Thanksgiving dinner with all my kids, spend the night and then take off for my cabin in the woods. (The owner of this cabin said no cats allowed, or I would have kept her).  When I got there, Taft immediately started sniffling, wheezing and complaining about Ruthie.

So I put her outside the house in her soft sided mobile home. Ruthie got out. The weather was not looking so great and I had to make plans to leave earlier for Colorado before a big snowstorm hit. We searched the neighborhood for Ruthie. Jenny said she would put up signs and if she found Ruthie she and Tom would take her to the NO KILL shelter there in Lawrence.  She said, that was all she could do.  She also had allergies and only liked Ruthie because she helped keep me out of her hair when we lived in Minneapolis together.  I could see a look of relief on Taft’s face.

So I kissed and hugged my family and set out on my Colorado adventure. Two weeks later Jenny called me and said they found Ruthie.

Now this is where the story gets really good.

Jenny said that the neighbor that lived behind her came up to her and asked her if she was the person looking for the cat. Jenny nodded affirmatively.  He said that when he got up this morning he walked downstairs to the kitchen and there was a cat on his kitchen table. Jenny, laughed and said, yes, that sounds like Ruthie.  The neighbor seemed startled and said, what did you say the cat’s name is? She repeated, Ruthie.  He then said, today is the year anniversary of my mother Ruth’s death.

The cat on the kitchen table was indeed Ruthie. She had found her new home.