Sunday, August 26, 2007

Women of the West, Part 2

Illustration courtesy of

Actually, the alert among you have noticed that there was no entry entitled "Women of the West, Part 1." The first entry in this series (since I just decided it was a series) was entitled "Doña Concha", and appeared on October 5, 2006.

Today's subject is Lady Catherine Moon, in whom I became interested after a recent trip to Fort Collins, CO. The B&B in which I was staying had a room named for Lady Moon, and later in the week, on a drive west out of the city to have lunch with my sons, we passed a Lady Moon Drive--so I just had to find out more about her.

Lady Moon started life as Katie Grattan Lawder, born to Irish parents on an English ship off the coast of France in 1864/5. She emigrated to the US when she was orphaned at the age of 12, and found work with a doctor's family in Clinton, Iowa. At 18 she moved near to Fort Collins, Colorado. According to some stories she first married a prospector, but eventually all agree that she met and married Cecil Moon, an Oxford graduate and younger son of a titled British family. According to an entry in Empire Magazine, Moon was "a remittance man. Such a one was usually a wayward son, sent as far from home as possible, and maintained there by regular checks from home. . . . He had failed in a try at the mining business, and when he met Katie he was a student at a ranching school." Cecil fell for Katie (who was either his laundress or nursing him back to health) and they married in 1888.

After their marriage, a series of deaths in the family resulted in Cecil's inheriting his grandfather's title and fortune. Having become Lady Moon, Katie (now Catherine) insisted on a trip back to England with her husband to visit his relatives. Cecil's mother did not approve of Katie, and so they returned to Colorado.

Katie and Cecil divorced sometime in the early part of the 20th century, after Katie had taken control of most of Cecil's fortune. As "plain" Mrs. Moon, Katie ran a 2,100 acre cattle ranch in the back country near Fort Collins, and was generally seen around town wearing a plumed hat. Some sources say she drank whiskey, dyed her hair, and dressed flamboyantly. According to the History of Larimer County: "Lady Moon is a good business woman and a lover of good horses."

She died of cancer in 1926 at Larimer County Hospital, having survived a disrupted childhood, numerous ocean voyages, social rejection, and a precedent-setting decision by a Colorado court requiring her to pay alimony to Cecil.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder

Last evening, just before twilight, it was doing what it is often doing this time of the year in the late afternoon--thundering and lightening. We had only a brief spit of rain here, but I could see it raining in the northeast mountains, while the sinking sun shone fiercely in the west. I was on my out, drove around the corner to pick up my mail, turned back to head out to the main street, and saw the most incredible double rainbow I have EVER seen--one perfect arc stretching from the horizon across a vast piece of dark sky with every color in the spectrum clearly differentiated. The shadow arc was softer, dreamier, but no less beautiful. By the time I got home and got my camera, the brightest arc had also started to mist over, but I did catch this picture taken from my front yard.

I brought my camera with me to the movies, and walked around the parking lot for a while, but while it continued to rain in the mountains and shine in the west, there was nothing left but a brief suggestion of color.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Robert Parker's Appaloosa

A film version of this book (one of the few Parkers I haven't read yet) is set to start production in locations in and around Santa Fe on October 1, and run until Thanksgiving. Ed Harris will produce, direct, and act in the film, and the cast will also include Renée Zellweger and Viggo Mortensen. So perhaps there will be interesting star sightings to report in October and November--stay tuned!