Fear, Manipulation, and Guns

Some of you may remember that at one point about three years ago I had to close my Facebook account and start a new one, because I thought it was a really good idea to talk trash to some gun nuts. This group of several thousand people (calling themselves Moms & Dads Against Moms & Dads for Gun Sense) reported my profile as fake. Several dozen more thought it would be fun to go on our business page and leave us 1 star reviews; one even went so far as to say we stole from them. They created a fake Alpine Chimney Sweep page and posted things like, “We like cleaning up people’s shit.” I just found out this last year that they also created an email with my name and emailed at least one of our clients and said all kinds of hateful things.
Through all of this, I heard from a woman in Nebraska who also had a run in with this group and experienced something very similar. Come to find out, ruining people’s lives is what this group really enjoyed doing. They were proficient in screen shots and taking over reviews, making folks that had spoken out against them look really bad. In the thread I had created on their page, they posted a picture of a gun-totting clown and said something to the effect, “Watch your back, Cheetah.”
And the truth is, I was scared. When talking with the woman in Nebraska I found out that this group would go so far as to parade around people’s houses, armed to the hilt – they would claim it was their right. And the scarier things is that their hatred and rage created in me a hatred and rage. I thought (and sometimes still do) about how I could get back at these people – how could I bring them down?! But then, I would remember that they are a well organized group, lurking behind computer screens, and just waiting to pounce on the next person who thinks they can talk some sense into these people. And they have guns. Lots of them.
Up to that point, I had been actively working in my own small personal way to bring about gun reform. I had gone to Senate hearings, written letters, signed petitions, and engaged in many debates with gun owners. But this group did a pretty good job of shutting me up. My dad and my husband were both concerned. My friends would just shake their head…and well, I watched my back.
With more school shootings in the last three years than I can count, I now sit here in awe of the teens who have faced gun fire and have the courage to stand up and say STOP! I am ashamed that I backed down. I am ashamed that I let them bring me down. While I can’t carry the weight of every dead student on my shoulders, I will carry each of them in my heart. I will march for them, teach for them, speak for them, and I will never again be afraid. I would rather die than cower in the face of cowardice – because really, a guy with a gun is just that, a coward. My heart is stronger than any bullet.

Saturn: Life’s Lessons Made Simple

Astrologically, Saturn has a reputation for being challenging or notoriously difficult. The archetypal father figure, Saturn is here to teach us. Most simply, if you are being responsible, disciplined and doing your work, Saturn will be your best friend and guiding light. If you are being lackadaisical then Saturn is going to kick your butt.

Whether by natal placement or by transit, Saturn shows the areas of your life that need the most work. I’m not talking about getting to your job on time, or paying your bills kind of responsibility. I’m talking about the responsibility that comes with having a spirit and dreams, talent and ambition. It’s the responsibility that comes from living here on earth, knowing that you’re going to make your mark and making it a good one.

We often find ourselves struggling with what others expect from us and who they think we are. All the while, denying what we need to feed our essence, consequently stunting our growth. This is where Saturn comes in as a seemingly bad guy because every 27 – 29 years he makes a return to it’s natal position in ones chart, challenging us in many varied ways. All of which depend up where Saturn resides in your natal chart.

Saturn in Aries &/or 1st House – Quite simply you are here to work on yourself – not be selfish or infantile, but to be consciously motivated by your own needs and desires rather than being a door mat. Whether this includes taking care of your body or listening to your inner voice, you are on call to answer to your Self.

Saturn in Taurus &/or 2nd House – The lesson for the day is love and value. How do you show your love? Do the people you admire know it? Are you more in touch with your deepest values or with the close out prices at the mall? Saturn wants you to recognize the spiritual value of “things” and the ultimate value of love, reminding us that we must work hard before we receive the reward.

Saturn in Gemini &/or 3rd House – Here you are held accountable to every word. What you say and how you say it have a direct relationship with your function in your community. Dogmatism is not an option as you are being tested in your ability to remain flexible and open minded. Mastering the art of communication is all part of the job.

Saturn in Cancer &/or 4th House – Both dominance and nurturing are called for with this placement. Balancing your inner masculine and feminine is key. Emotional stability is under the microscope as is your ability to express those emotions in non destructive or crystallized ways.

Saturn in Leo &/or 5th House – Are you having fun yet? Creative self expression is the test. Finding your inner child and letting it’s voice be heard is the only way that Saturn will be happy here. Ironically, it is this very placement that can often inhibit people from experiencing joy. Never lose your sense of wonder – let it be your guide.

Saturn in Virgo &/or 6th House – The test here is one of efficiency and service. Health is also a major factor as we all know that if we don’t have our health we have nothing. Surprisingly, many don’t realize the link between service and health. Think of the last time you went to work – were you happy to go there? Did your work leave you feeling elated or nauseous? Discipline is needed to undertake providing a service that you enjoy, or ultimately your health will suffer.

Saturn in Libra &/or 7th House – Relationships can take on a very serious quality with this placement. How you relate and practice intimacy may need to be loosened up a bit. Often overly concerned with what others think , the lesson here is to be yourself, understanding that those who love you do so because of who you are – not because of what they think you might be.

Saturn in Scorpio &/or 8th House – Transformation is the name of the game here. Recognizing that we all experience life in cyclical form makes it’s easier to flow with our cycles than against them. Get back to your primal nature! Explore your sexuality, your faith and the mysteries of yourself. Leave no debt unpaid and you’ll have no regrets.

Saturn in Sagittarius &/or 9th House – What do you believe? What is your truth? Are you standing up for what you believe in? These are questions you should be asking your self and everyone else. There is a certain sense of duty that follows your philosophies now. Feed your fires of curiosity and wonder, they will keep you warm and guide you on your chosen path.

Saturn in Capricorn &/or 10th House – On the surface it seems to be all about responsibility and discipline, but these are merely the tools needed in order to create a lasting and meaningful legacy for our future generations. Recognizing that all things are connected leaves no room for behavior less than positive. Patience and steady pursuit of your goals is called for here.

Saturn in Aquarius &/or 11th House – Getting to the root of what it means to be human is the job here. Rigidity or repression can cause you serious trouble. Never stop changing your mind. Dive into your humanness, forgive other humans. Make fellowship a priority in your life while recognizing that popularity is not tantamount to friendship.

Saturn in Pisces &/or 12th House – Your inner mystic has work to do. Living spiritually aware is a good start, but the mission is to manifest dreams and visions. Honoring the thread that ties us all together while living in a knot will not suffice. Let your imagination roam, release the artist in you. It’s okay to have your head in the clouds as long as your feet are firmly on the ground.

If you would like a free copy of your natal chart, please email your time, date, and place of birth to cheetah@womensmarchondenver.com.

Plants and Planets

One of my favorite things about astrology is that it describes the only way in which we are all equal. Living under the same sky not only connects us to other humans but to all life and matter. This is why certain signs and planets are said to rule things, meaning being drawn by the same governing energy. Everyday objects can be designated astrological rulership, giving no end to the possibilities of exploring our world through astrology.

Given that it is summer, I’d like to give you the opportunity to plan and explore your garden with starry eyes. Using plant life to harness and express energy is just another way that astrology can be useful in your everyday life. The following chart is not an exhaustive list; it’s simply meant to give you a place to start.plants planets

An Astrological Guide to Romance

People have long sought ways to please their lovers, often taking extreme measures like altering their bodies to less drastic actions like paying a telephone psychic $5 a minute to find out what their partner wants, likes or needs. It seems too easy that you could just look at a lover’s astrological natal chart and know what’s going to please them, but really it is that easy.

All the energies present at the moment we take our first breath become a part of our astrological make-up, not so different from our biological make-up. Flesh and bones, our bodies are all unique. From Aries to Pisces, our intimate and spiritual needs are all unique. By using a lot of intuitive understanding and a little ancient wisdom you begin to see that we all need the same things just in very different ways. A practice that has been around as long as there have been humans, astrology serves as a useful tool when wanting to invigorate relationships and intimacy, giving us an opportunity to see ourselves and others as all connected.

When beginning the practice of astrology many people stop before they really get started because of the complexity of it all. Astrology is set up on a system of Rulerships, which means that each planet presides over a certain sign, while each sign corresponds to different things and situations i.e. Mars rules Aries, Aries rules action. With 10 planets (the Sun & Moon are called planets to keep things simple) and 12 signs in constant motion, there are endless possibilities in the realm of astrological expression. In order to use astrology you mustn’t get overwhelmed or even feel like you have to understand it completely. Whether you realize it or not, you already have an intuitive understanding of astrology.

The following four steps are simple ways in which you can bring new levels of intimacy and connection to your love life.

STEP ONE: Understand Yourself. Understanding of your own astrological make-up is essential. You must know yourself intimately to share yourself intimately. It’s a good idea to get a natal chart (a map of the planetary placements at the time of your birth) and meet with a professional astrologer. There are also numerous web sites and books made for people wanting to look deeper into themselves through astrology. And even if you just use the Rulership chart included here, you are on your way to understanding yourself through the elements.

Astrologers, books and websites can enlighten you as to why you need clean sheets and a tidy house before you can relax and enjoy a sexual encounter, explaining that Saturn (responsibility and discipline) is ruling your 8th House (sexual expression). This and all planetary placements represent lessons for our spiritual evolution, learned through interactions with others, the environment, and our own awareness. Astrology is often the key unlocking that which we were previously aware, but didn’t understand.

STEP TWO: Understand Your Partner. Just as you can come to have a true understanding of Self through astrology, you can gain this same insight into those with whom you relate. If your partner is inclined to be reserved in bed (maybe it’s that Saturn in the 8th house person) you can recognize and utilize the energy that rules their sexual nature to make them feel more comfortable and connected.

Considering the elements is an essential part of making astrology work for you. For example, someone with a strong Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) influence is likely to enjoy reading erotica to her mate in bed, while someone ruled by Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) may want the spontaneous quickies in dangerous places. Two lovers, one with strong Earth influence (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) and one with strong Water influence (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) may create virtual mud within their love life, or they may nurture (Water) and ground (Earth) each other in a way that makes true romantic bliss is possible. Knowing the inclinations of your partner on an intimate, spiritual level can help you give them what they need without them having to ask- what a gift!

STEP THREE: Use the Moon! Ruling our emotional nature and daily tendencies, the Moon is most like a body function. It reminds us all that we humans are prone to moodiness, inconsistent behavior and sometimes we just can’t help it. Arguments can be avoided or easily resolved when you are tuned into lunar energy, making more time and energy available for lovemaking and intimate encounters.

Focusing on the part of the body that each particular Moon sign represents can increase sensuality and awareness. For example, if the Moon is in Aries you might want to give your lover a temple massage or kiss longer than usual, as Aries rules the head.

Keeping track of Moon signs and how they relate to you and your partners own astrological make-up can help keep things fresh as the Moon changes signs every two and a half days. Obviously there are many calendars you can buy and there are no shortages of the websites listing such information.

STEP FOUR: Stock up! Astrology is more biological than you might realize. Each sign responds to environmental and external factors in unique ways. Whether you are planning or just want to be prepared for a romantic interlude, some essential items include….

Candles/Pillows/Blankets – Get colors that your and your partner respond to on an astrological level, or a color that represents an element you’d like to bring to your intimate unions.

Oil – Simple massage oil can be astrologically correct by adding essential oils or aromas that correspond to the signs.

Music – Astrology works through a system of harmonics created by each planet, much the same way all musical instruments have their own unique sound. Instead of broadcasting through a radio, planetary harmonics are expressed by us everyday in spectacular and beautiful ways. Just as the person we love can make our heart sing, music helps us to transcend time and space, allowing that love to flow through our bodies.

Imagination – Share your fantasies and dreams. Be creative and open yourself to wonders of the body and spirit connection.

Cheetah is available for astrological consultation. Call 720.662.9770 or email cheetah@womensmarchondenver.com.

The Astrology of Food

Astrology is all about correlation – describing through metaphor and archetypal energy the way all things in life connect. The mantra of most astrologers is “As above, so below’ whereas the mantra of most dietitians is “You are what you eat”. Even these two clichés have connection.

Not only can astrology clue you into your boyfriend’s quirky tendencies, but it can also help you to keep him well fed. Astrology offers two ways in which you can do this. First, look at foods that are ruled by the signs and planets to attain that type of energy. For instance, if you want your significant other to do more cleaning around the house, make a meal consisting of poultry and grains, Virgo foods.

The more practical and useful application of astrology in your diet is to understand the mineral salt that is associated with each sign. Vital to good health, the mineral salts perform functions that relate to and compliment the energies represented by the zodiac. The following chart shows foods that are ruled by the signs and planets, mineral salt association for all the signs and then foods that are high in those particular mineral salts.

Don’t forget to kiss the cook!

Initiative & Ambition

Aries: radishes, rhubarb, garlic, mustard, onions, peppers

Mars: basil, capers, cayenne pepper, ginger

Potassium phosphate prevents or alleviates insomnia, headaches, nervousness and rashes:

Potatoes, green vegetables, onions, walnuts, oranges, tomatoes, pineapples, apples, raisins

Attachment & Love

Taurus: beans, spinach

Venus: see Libra

Soda sulphate deters water retention that can cause sweating and tendency to be listless and/or depressed: lettuce, onions, beets, cauliflower, spinach, cucumbers, celery, strawberries and apples

Communication & Discernment

Gemini: Nuts

Mercury: see Virgo

Potassium chloride: strengthens respiratory functions, lowers blood pressure and purifies blood: sweet corn, oranges, bananas, grapefruit, peaches, pineapples, plums, apricots, pears, green beans, turnips, collard greens, brussel sprouts, kale, lettuce, watercress, asparagus, carrots, celery

Emotions & Daily Habits

Cancer: cabbage, pumpkins, common vegetables, crab, cucumbers,

Moon: lettuce, pumpkins, shellfish, soup, turnips, cauliflower, juices

Calcium fluoride supports healthy tissue lining, mucous membranes, bones, teeth and skin: cabbage, kale, cottage, cheese, prunes, meat, egg yolks, rye flour, raisins, oranges, lemons, leeks cheese

Creativity & Vitality

Leo: almonds, citrus fruit, lemons, olives & olive oil

Sun: walnuts, citrus fruits, olives

Phosphate of magnesium facilitates normal blood pressure while promoting efficient functioning of the lungs and nerve tissues: walnuts, onions, coconuts, plums, almonds, blueberries, cucumbers, barley, bran, peas, oatmeal, savoy cabbage, oranges, lemons, lettuce, figs, eggs, asparagus

Efficiency & Intellect

Virgo: grains, oats, millet, poultry

Mercury: carrots, celery, parsley, parsnips

Potassium sulphate maintains healthy skin, nails and hair as well as strengthening and rebuilding nerve cells: carrots, tomatoes, red beets, lemons, celery, grapefruit, parsnips, apples, whole wheat, rye and oats

Balance & Harmony

Libra: strawberries

Venus: apples, artichokes, blackberries, spices, honey, yams, nectarines, pears, pecans, plums, pomegranates, wheat, mints

Sodium phosphate balances acid and alkaline, while also equalizing the body’s water to prevent bloating and water retention: watercress, carrots, spinach, peas, celery, beets, yellow corn, strawberries, apples, raisins, figs, almonds, rice and wheat

Karma & Transcendence

Scorpio: leek, oysters,

Pluto: apparently we don’t need food once we’re out of our body

Calcium sulfate is contained in the skin, mucous membranes and tissues, purifying the body of toxins by aiding the elimination process: onions, garlic, cauliflower, leeks, turnips, radishes, watercress, figs, kale, prunes

Truth & Exploration

Sagittarius: green olives

Jupiter: apricots, asparagus, beets, currants, nutmeg

Silicic oxide is necessary for maintaining the covering of the bones and nerves: asparagus, parsnips, cucumbers, onions, whole wheat, strawberries, barley, rye, red cabbage, cherries, bran, fruit and vegetable skins

Responsibility & Discipline

Capricorn: flaxseed

Saturn: barley, dried fruit

Calcium phosphate supports blood vessels and digestive fluids while building strong bones and teeth: cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, figs, plums, strawberries, almonds, lentils, whole wheat, barley, rye, fish

Progressive & Humanitarian

Aquarius: nutrition/power bars

Uranus: this planet is too busy manifesting change to eat

Sodium chloride, which helps to maintain water content throughout the body: cabbage, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, lentils, figs, strawberries, apples, carrots, radishes, chestnuts

Enlightenment & Dreams

Pisces: fish

Neptune: kelp, lobster

Phosphate of iron oxygenates and purifies the blood while helping to maintain normal blood functions, eases respiration: lettuce, radishes, spinach, dried fruits, beans, strawberries, lentils, onions, cabbage, apples, walnuts, barley

Silly Summer Horoscopes for Kids

Horoscopes have been appearing in newspapers for hundreds of years. By using the Sun, the Zodiac, (which means circle of animals) and your birth date as their guide, astrologers can give you insight into how your day might go. Some people read their horoscope (which means to look at the hour) everyday, while others think it’s all a bunch of baloney. I think that baloney is best with bread and mustard.

Find your birthday and corresponding zodiac sign to see what summer fun is ahead for you.

March 21 – April 19 / Aries / Ram: Your summer may be filled with lots of action and adventure, whether you are skydiving or ballroom dancing, be sure to wear your helmet to protect that hard head of yours!

April 20 – May 20 / Taurus / Bull: You will likely find yourself enjoying a nice relaxing summer, spending time with friends, spending time enjoying Popsicles and of course, spending all your parents money.

May 21 – June 20 / Gemini / Twins: Make sure to get your friends phone numbers before the summer starts as you’ll need to make sure that your tongue stays in good shape for all that talking that you love to do.

June 21 – July 22 / Cancer / Crab: Whether you are enjoying a backyard barbeque or a family road trip, you will enjoy your family time…at least as much as your brother or sister will let you!

July 23 – August 22 / Leo / Lion: Your summer will likely be filled with fun and games, just remember to let other people win sometimes…ahhh never mind, you are the CHAMPION of summer fun.

August 23 – September 22 / Virgo / Virgin: Take some time to do something good for your neighborhood this summer; start a street circus, give free hot air balloon rides or maybe you could just offer to help someone with their yard work.

September 23 – October 22 / Libra / Scales: It can be difficult to decide how to enjoy your summer. Just make a plan and do it all; paint your room purple, visit the White House, just don’t stay home being blue.

October 23 – November 21 / Scorpio / Scorpion: As you mysteriously change from a 2nd Grader to a 3rd grader this summer make sure you wear sandals and shorts to keep from destroying your good clothes.

November 22 – December 21 / Sagittarius / Archer: Travel is your middle name and you’re sure to find lots of fun along the way, just remember to let your parents know where you’re going and when you’ll be back so they won’t rent out your room.

December 22 – January 19 / Capricorn / Goat: While the other kids are having fun swimming and bike riding, you’ll be dreaming of spelling tests and room chores. Don’t worry, school will start in September, and you’ll be having fun again.

January 20 – February 18 / Aquarius / Water Bearer: While you are busy planning the future, you dream of underwater swing sets and rocket bikes that can take you to the moon. Until then, your summer will probably be filled with modern day good times.

February 19 – March 20 / Pisces / Fish: Whether you are at the beach, the lake, or the river, you won’t get tired of the water. However, if you start growing scales or fins, seek medical attention immediately.

Whatever your sign, remember to flash the peace sign once in a while!

The Astrology of Resourcefulness


Discover your unique strengths and weakness when it comes to acquiring your most fundamental needs – which may or may not have anything to do with money! Use the following guide to find the source of your resourcefulness. Whether you are wanting more money, better relationships or have a project you are working on it’s important to recognize that to some extent we all encompass the following energies. Using your natal chart* look to the rulers (cusp and/or planets) of the 2nd, 6th, and 10th house to determine how you can best use the energy with which you are graced.

Aries / Mars – Often leaping before looking, this energy can best be harnessed with the saddle of independence. What may appear as selfishness is really just survival mode kicking in. Like a child, Aries (the first sign of the zodiac) needs to experience and cultivate The Self, discovering their own reliance and abilities. Mars assertiveness can be used beautifully in the realm of resources and finances – especially if you are the entrepreneurial type. Aries’ instincts are sharp and should be trusted.

Taurus / Venus – The Bull and the Goddess of Love make perfect companions; Taurus is all about doing the work and Venus is all about the reward. The gift is truly recognizing that you must do the grunt labor to receive the full blessing and appreciation of a nice hot bath. Taurus needs to feel loved and appreciated, at the same time deserving. Often just shifting how we love and value ourselves puts into motion the Venusian attraction quality and suddenly all that we need is given to us.

Gemini / Mercury – Here’s where we get to use our brain. Gemini is all about information and communication. Add to that intellectuality and perception and we have the perfect recipe for success. The key is to remain adaptable and flexible within any situation. Gemini likes to talk but would do well to listen – especially to people such as siblings and neighbors. These same people are a necessary support system for the Gemini.

Cancer / Moon – Put yourself in situations where emotion and nurturing go well together. Use the feminine aspects in your life to sustain your greatest need; going with the flow. Just as the Moon goes through phases most things in your life will be cyclical. Once you can recognize these cycles in terms of lack or abundance, the world is your oyster. The power of the past can best be used to avoid future struggles, while sentimentality can give you inspiration and a deep sense of connection to whatever you are trying to accomplish.

Leo / Sun – FAME ! I wanna live forever ~ la la la . . .okay, so I can’t sing. But I do use Leo to help generate my own creative self expression. Whether that expression is a poem, my garden or my kids – it’s mine. Whatever you create sustains a part of your soul that nothing else can. Surround yourself with children, they are so vibrant and awake – and they won’t let you forget that the world revolves around them, not you.

Virgo / Mercury – Resourcefulness comes naturally to the Earth signs. This energy gives the ability to be discriminating and analytical. Your sincere desire to make the world a better place can work to your benefit. Work really can be a pleasurable experience especially if it involves using your noggin in those ways that require critical thought. Remember that although your boss might really appreciate your ability to analyze and get to the nitty-gritty of things, your friends may not. If all else fails, keep your hands busy.

Libra / Venus – Charm and diplomacy really are priceless. Endowed with these qualities, Libra is ultimately in it for the discovery of oneself through others. How you relate, whether personally or in business, will have everything to do with how you meet your deepest desires. Your greatest strength is the ability to see all points of view, and the tricky thing is that this is also your greatest weakness.

Scorpio / Mars – Sex, death and taxes are all represented by this duo. Success is assured through constant regeneration, recognition of when things need to end and always paying your debts. You have depth, insight and intensity – use this for the good of all life and you will be using your greatest assets. Maintaining a sense of mystery can help you move stealthily towards your goals but can also hinder you through other’s suspicion.

Sagittarius / Jupiter – Yours is a search for truth, justice and understanding. Despite your notion that these concepts exists in books or buildings, they are really just found in experience. Get out there! Take your dog and your walking stick and set out on the path before you. Talk to everyone and listen carefully, they will tell you everything you need to know. Expansion, abundance and a true sense of wealth is only an idea away.

Capricorn / Saturn – Our lives are made of various structures, from bridges to our bodies. This is the energy that reminds us that we all have a responsibility to maintain the security and endurance of that which we create. But just as bridges have to move with the wind, we have to sway with the changes. A hard worker, you probably don’t lack for much except time – you must create this for yourself.

Aquarius / Uranus – You see the world through the eyes of the future. And while some may perceive you as aloof or cool, remind them that you can’t promote positive change, essentially saving the world, if you are all blubbery and emotional. You certainly don’t lack for change and unpredictability, even downright chaos – but rest assured that your life will change in magic ways if you can get nine hours of sleep.

Pisces / Neptune – Deeply in touch with your visions, dreams and ideals, you can spend a lot of time wishing. Turning your dreams into reality often requires that we sacrifice our ideals. It is through all forms of art that you can manifest your visions rather than letting them turn to faded memories. Your intuition is strong and should not be disregarded. If you listen to yourself, you can trust your way to brilliance.

Alexander Family Taxidermy


Dear Aunt Jennifer,

            I am so pleased to hear that you are happy in your new Florida home. We miss you greatly here in town; especially me. Nobody has your sense of humor and everybody looks at me like I am a freak when I try to joke with them. I hope that as soon as dad is better I can finally redeem those mileage points I have accumulated on my American Airlines Visa so dad and I can come to see you. Dad’s oncologist is hopeful that this next round of chemo will be his last. Honestly, I don’t know what to think. One day he looks horrible and the next he is like a spry fox, back to his old ways, fiddling around in the shop, prepping the few animals that come in these days.

            I have to tell you, I’ve never seen a slower hunting season – it’s not that there aren’t animals out there for the game, it’s that Lolo is slowly turning into a ghost town. They stopped construction on the new housing development and there are stories in the Herald every week about how houses are just sitting empty as people are just up and leaving. I can’t say I blame them. I probably wouldn’t stay if it weren’t for dad and this damn shop. Every time I think I should just give in and sell this old building I think about Grandpa Jack and how he would swell with pride every time Mr. Sweeny painted the Alexander Family Taxidermy sign.

            Oh well, if I haven’t left in the last fifty-five years, I guess I am not going to – we are managing okay. We just got another contract with the University of Montana for their new owl exhibit so that should keep me busy for the next couple of months. I am tired though. Dad’s illness takes up most of our days; between driving to Missoula for doctor’s visits or the hours that I spend juicing every vegetable imaginable for him (he saw Juicing Cures Cancer on Oprah last year – and you know how he takes her word as gospel) I barely have time to keep up on the laundry, let alone all the work that goes into maintaining a 112 year old business. Maybe this is why I miss you so much; I don’t have anyone to complain to!

            Well my dear auntie, remember to wear your sunscreen and know that we are thinking of you here in chilly ol’ Lolo.

Much love, Naomi

April 11, 2007

My dearest, most favorite and only niece Naomi,

Thank you for your letter and the cookies – they were delicious as always, and Mrs. Frankel in 2A would like the recipe (I told her I never baked a day in my life and that it’s a wonder you know how to do anything domestic at all, growing up with just your dad and me!).

Anyhow, enough of the chit chat – at seventy-eight, I don’t have time for that. I want you to know that I think you are wasting your life there in Lolo. I couldn’t tell you this when I was there, although I have wanted to tell you since you turned seventeen and I was living in New York with that man Harold. I couldn’t tell you this because I didn’t want to see the sadness in your eyes and I know how deeply you love your father and how dedicated you are to carrying on our crazy family tradition of stuffing animals for a living. I admire you for that, but I also see that there is a light burning in you that can’t shine in the mountains in Montana. And let’s be honest Naomi, you are no spring chicken. Which leads me to your father – he would never tell you this, so I will. I said good-bye to Abe the day I left for Florida. We both know that we won’t be seeing each other again and we are okay with that. And while I also admire your constant optimism, I don’t think you will be redeeming your mileage points for two tickets. Make your peace now, tell him what you need to tell him because the time is slipping away and you won’t get another chance – at least not in this lifetime. I love you and will look forward to your next letter – could you send me some of that peanut brittle next time? I don’t give a damn what the dentist says!

Much love, Auntie Jennifer

June 30, 2007

Dear Aunt Jennifer,

            Thank you for the lovely flowers – they were the nicest ones at the service. I wish you could have been there. Dad had a lot more friends than I ever knew about and I was amazed at the number of people in attendance. The funeral director had to scramble for extra seats and the caterers ran out of food about forty-five minutes before the wake was over. Dad would have loved all the fuss. I love that it’s all over.

            I am not sure what exactly to do next – I have been so focused on dad and his cancer for the last two years that now I don’t know what to do with myself. And of course, then there is the issue of money. Or rather lack thereof. Dad’s co-pays were through the roof, our property taxes keep going up, and the building is in serious need of a new roof before winter. I wouldn’t be worried if we had any business, but apparently taxidermy is not high on anyone’s priority list these days. I had hoped dad’s life insurance would have been enough to cover all that, but it barely covered the funeral costs and insurance deductibles. Oh Auntie, how I wish you were here to tell me what to do. I am a fifty-five year old woman and I feel like a lost little girl – lost in the town I have lived in my whole life. Maybe you were right, maybe I am wasting my life mounting animals (you know we never say “stuffed!”) here in Lolo – but what else would I do?

            As always, I love and miss you – I’ll send peanut brittle next time.

Sincerely, Naomi

July 4, 2007

Dearest Naomi,

I am sure my father would be rolling in his grave to hear me say this, but don’t you think that 112 years is long enough for a family business? Don’t you think you owe yourself some of that dedication you so generously give to others? I say, call up Margaret Hannigan and have her list that building with Century 21 – and then get your butt down here and let’s go have some margaritas! Which is where I am headed right now as the girls and I are starting our Fourth of July celebration off right. I have discovered Florida is not just where the college kids let loose. Won’t you join us?

Truly, Jennifer


July 27, 2007

Dear Aunt Jennifer,

            Thank you for the offer of margaritas and cutting loose, but I am delighted to tell you that I think I have solved most of my worries. I decided to rent out the apartment in the basement (it took me nine hours to clear out forty years’ worth of  dad’s pet projects) and have found a rather handy gentleman to be my tenant. His name is Claude Mathers and he is from California. Honestly, I am not sure how he ended up here, but he is nice enough, although I get the feeling he’s a bit of a misogynist. He seemed shocked that a woman could run a taxidermy business – much less an old spinster like myself. Anyhow, the financial burden is lessened by his rent, but business is still slow and all I ever see on CNN these days are mass lay-offs and people losing their homes left and right – so I guess really, I am still worried. But I am not ready to close shop just yet – and yes, Grandpa Jack surely rolled over in his grave.

            Harriet told me to tell you hello. She misses doing your hair every Friday and says that nobody is as fun to gossip with. I tried to take your place and gossip with her, but it turns out that I have been the source of local gossip now that I am a landlord. Apparently the ladies in the sewing club think I am “up to something” with Claude. And while he is handsome, I don’t think I could ever be romantically involved with a man who spits green globs of phlegm in the driveway every day. If only those green globs kept the coyotes away – they have gotten three of my hens in as many weeks. I might resort to the ol’ poisoned steak routine that dad was so fond of – as he would say, “If you’re gonna kill ‘em you might as well give ‘em one last good meal!”

            Anyhow, the phone is actually ringing. We’ll talk soon!

Love, Naomi

September 3, 2007

Dear Naomi,

I apologize for taking so long to respond to your letter. Life in Florida has proved to be quite social and it seems that every day I am invited to some new event. I have met so many lovely people and even started taking a yoga class on Thursdays with Mrs. Frankel (she much appreciated the recipe, by the way – although her cookies were definitely not as good as yours!).

I am glad to hear of this Claude fellow, although I do hope you did a thorough background check on him, references – all that. Is he going to help you fix the roof? Did you get rid of the coyote? Has business improved this season? When are you going to redeem those mileage points and come visit me?!

Write again soon – your letters mean the world to me.

Much love, Auntie Jennifer


October 30, 2007

Dear Naomi,

I haven’t heard from you in months. Is everything okay? I am quite concerned as Harriet called to tell me that you have been acting very strange and that this Claude fellow of yours has already moved away, seemingly in the dead of night. I just tried to call you, but you did not answer either line. My imagination is running wild and I would just feel so much better if you would call me. I have one of those cellular phones now so you can reach me anytime at (305) 627-2342. You know I love you!

Sincerely, Aunt Jennifer


November 4, 2007

Dear Auntie,

            I don’t even know where to begin. First off, I apologize for making you worry. And I would have called, but once you read this letter, you will understand why I haven’t.

            Do you believe in miracles? I am sure you do – you believe in fairies and sprites, so you must believe in miracles. And this is why you are the only person in the world that I could ever confess what has transpired since I last wrote to you. Remember how I signed off that the phone was ringing? Well, that phone call was from a man by the name of Zavier Kassid. You may have even heard of him, he’s a real life billionaire from the Arab nation of Qatar. And well, since we are both too old for chit –chat, I will just tell you that he has hired me to taxidermy his wife when she dies for ONE-MILLION DOLLARS!! Amira has less than a year to live as she is suffering from a rare and incurable disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. It attacks her nervous system – oh it is just so horrible!

            Anyhow, apparently Zavier heard of our services through some diplomat that dad had mounted a six-point buck for back in 1984. And while she’s not dead yet, I met her last month and I can see why he would want to preserve her – she’s the most gorgeous creature I have ever met and even I wanted to reach out and stroke her hair. Zavier calls her Amira (which he told me is Princess in Arabic) but her name is Janet – I have to say, I almost laughed out loud when she told me her real name. How anyone so beautiful and utterly graceful could be called Janet is beyond me.

            Forgive me for getting off topic, I am just swirling with excitement and well, really there is much more to tell. I am imagining your jaw dropping as you read this and well, I have to say, this whole thing is so surreal. One minute I am literally praying for a miracle, or a sign, or a thunderbolt to strike me dead – and the next I am getting the phone call of a lifetime.

            Now surely you must be wondering how I could do something like this – many would say it’s immoral or even evil, but if you saw how Zavier loves this woman, you would understand (and he assures me that no one will ever know what we are doing). Their story is like a fairy tale and I wouldn’t even believe it myself had I not seen it first hand when they flew me out to New York City!! I hadn’t ever been farther east than Nebraska and I have to say, you were right in some ways – Lolo can be soul sucking. But I am rejuvenated now, Auntie Jenn! While I was in New York meeting Amira I was literally buzzing. I have never felt so much energy in my life. Which is why it was a bit of a shock to come home and find Claude dead. Yes, dead.

            Remember my coyote problem? Well, in all the excitement of this new job and the big flight to New York, I never told Claude that the steak marinating in the fridge were marinating in poison. Really, I didn’t think I needed to tell him as he has his own damn fridge downstairs – and really, who steals food from someone’s fridge? So, needless to say, he was dead as a door nail when I got back from New York. He hadn’t quite reached that point of puffing up and smelling bad, which was good.

            No, I didn’t call the sheriff or anyone like that. I almost did – picked up the phone and even dialed 9-1…but it occurred to me Auntie Jenn that I have never performed taxidermy on a human before. Deer, elk, mountain lions, birds, fish, yes. Humans, never. I can’t say that it ever even came up in conversation in 112 years that I know of, so I decided that true to the promise of excellence from Alexander Family Taxidermy that I would practice on Claude before Amira dies.

            Oh Auntie, it was horrendous in the beginning. You know dad always did most of the skinning and so this did not go well at first. Fortunately I knew to start with the butt, and after a few mishaps and tears, I finally figured out the best way to move the blade and found that it was very similar to working with fish. Anyhow, you should see Claude now. He’s more handsome now than he was when he was alive. I’ll admit I took some liberty with his jaw bone and made it a smidge more masculine. I’m also happy to report that it’s been about four months and nobody has come looking for him. I left his truck along the river bank with all of his belongings in the back. I have left Claude in the basement surrounded by all our furry friends.

            I am quite confident in my ability to work with Amira now and well, for one million dollars I’d better do a damn good job, right? Zavier has paid me $100,000 as a sort of retainer for when she does finally pass away. I got a new roof and have paid all the bills that have been piling up. Everybody in town just thinks I inherited money from dad – I just let them think whatever they want to think.

            I hope you are not too shocked or disappointed in my choices. I couldn’t handle it if you were disappointed in me. You wouldn’t turn down a million dollars if nobody really gets hurt, right?  Please write soon.

Love, Naomi


November 8, 2007

Dear oh Dear Naomi,

        I must say your letter has left me indeed shocked, but definitely not disappointed. I am delighted that you got to take a trip, however odd a reason it may be. I love New York City as you know. I will be honest, I am concerned that there would be legal trouble (desecration laws come to mind) should anyone find out what you have been up to. But I trust you to be smart (I also destroyed your letter just in case!) and yes, I have heard of Mr. Kassid – he was featured in Newsweek a few years back for being the youngest billionaire or something like that. How fortuitous that he should even know of Alexander Family Taxidermy.

       Oddly enough, I recall my Grandpa Floyd telling the story of how he did taxidermy on his older brother who died from choking on a cherry pit when he was only twenty-seven. The story went that they would bring him out of the basement for holidays, parades and other special events. He said the towns folk didn’t mind as they expected us Alexanders to be a bit off our rockers anyhow, stuffing dead animals for a living and all. I never believed the stories and always thought Grandpa Floyd was just pulling my leg. But after hearing what you have been doing, I am thinking Grandpa Floyd was telling the truth – and that surely we must be off our rockers!

       Well Naomi, keep me posted – and now that you should have no more money worries and plenty of mileage points, you’d better pay your old Auntie Jenn a visit.

All my love, Jennifer


January 13, 2008

Dear Aunt Jennifer,

            Thank you so much for understanding and accepting this bizarre turn of events. I would have written sooner, but Amira died on December 7th and needless to say, I was quite busy there for some time. BUT, she came out almost as beautiful as she was when she was alive. Unfortunately, nothing can really replace the sparkle of life in someone’s eyes – although I did insert fourteen carat sapphires in her eyes at the request of Zavier and it really is a nice touch.

            I never even knew that Grandpa Floyd had brother! And well, yes, I must be crazy for doing this – but I will tell you what, I have never slept so well in my life. I am definitely not tired anymore.

            So, as I am sure you must be wondering, I was paid in cash and invested in a top of the line safe. I don’t plan on living a millionaire’s lifestyle as I wouldn’t even know how to…although I did buy myself a plane ticket to Miami and rented a car for a week! I will be arriving just in time for your birthday on February 1st. And I have to say, I could use some sunshine. These Montana winters seem to get more brutal every year – global warming, my ass!

            I look forward to seeing you soon Auntie.

Much love, Naomi