A very sweet note via Social media greeted me first thing when I woke up. It was sent by my cousin.  Izzie is actually, technically, my ‘second’ cousin. We never cared what that ranking meant; we just knew we were closely related to the same group of mostly old people. We were cousins. That was enough.

Reading her message, a tender tribute to our family’s deceased matriarchs, was a lovely way to begin the day. Once upon a time, I started each morning with a love note. The Big Love of My Life left me a ‘seven letter word’ message on the Scrabble board daily, on his way out the door. First one he ever left me was: COURAGE. To match his, with my seven letters; I spelled the word: CHERISH.

We played that One Word game the whole time were together; about one thousand days. One thousand, seven letter word days. You can do the A-Z a whole lot of ways in 1000 seven letter days.

He’s been dead over a month now. We’d said our final good byes long ago. He gave me enough true love to last a life time. By perfect coincidence, the nick name I called him, started with a C. (Charlie) So really, it’s that first C that is the premise for the rest of this.

Jumping back to today, C is first for cousins (or second cousins.) Secondly, C for me is for Caribou. That is ‘where’ – – a big part of the ‘why’ this whole “C” chapter occurred. Third C is for Chapter.

Fourth C is for Colorado; there are a lot of Cs…I’d arrived in Colorado in a pick-up truck. It was a Chevy with a camper-top. Determined to change or attempt to alter what seem pre-ordained as my destiny; soon after I graduated from college, I’d moved over one thousand miles away to live in another state.

With no legitimate income strategy to speak of, I was subsisting in a small, salmon- pink, 1950’s travel trailer in a low-rent R.V. park with 2 large dogs and zero revenue. One of my dogs, Zuma, was pregnant. Too soon, I had 9 dogs and no job. A friendly neighbor living in the lone  frame house in the Rocky Mountain R.V. ghetto, New Jersey Patti, asked if I wanted to help out at a local ranch.

Seeing the pickup truck with Texas license plates gave the misguided impression that I was an authentic cowgirl. Though I had been comfortable enough around horses growing up and had recently hand- raised an orphaned two month old colt, I wasn’t anything close to a genuine horse-wrangling cowgirl.

With hounds to feed, I was confident that I could be enough of a cowgirl for the part-time job. Luckily, my first morning at the job of cowgirl morphed into me being a stand- in for the missing, grill cook. I was far more competent in the kitchen than I was in a barn. And it was far more of a Recording Studio than a ranch. Employee absenteeism plagued the owners. My part time job became a full time job; before the day was over, the owner had offered me employment.

It was at this Ranch that artists would come for the high altitude that allowed them vocally  to hit that High C. Many big name stars visited the Ranch. With this job, came the added responsibility of driving stars to Red Rocks to perform. I dutifully drove Willie Nelson and humbly stood backstage while he and Kris Kristopherson serenaded the enchanted, concert crowd under a crystal clear Colorado starlit night. Brilliant stars under the brilliant stars. Both of those star-men were also truly kind-hearted souls.

Want more about the days that started at Caribou Ranch? Can I confide in you? (This wasn’t an actual attempt at a concise summary; I was just playing the 7 letter word game with you! See how many of these words contain seven letters each.)  What seven letter word would you play? Start with C…

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