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Heard Around the West

Brief by Betsy Marston

Western Life – July 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

Bouncing Bambi

Boing, boing, boing … Ridgway, Colo., sculptor Clifton Barr looked up from work in his metal and wood studio and saw a large, antlered deer “jumping like a bucking horse” in the neighbor’s yard, reports the Ouray County Plaindealer. Barr did a double take and took off his glasses just to make sure, but when he walked outside the deer was still bouncing. On a trampoline. “He gave me one look and with a leap” — this one off the trampoline — “he was off and running.”

A Bird-Dog?

Dogs often make the lives of mail carriers difficult, but if you’re walking the streets of Newton, Calif., watch out for the wild turkeys. A 30-pound bird seems to have declared war on mailman Tim Hoban, according to The Los Angeles Times. “He sees me,” Hoban says, “hunches up his back, spreads his wings, goes gobble, gobble and charges right at me.” Hoban, who at 5 feet 9 inches is only 15 inches taller than his nemesis, has been told by his supervisors that he doesn’t have to deliver mail to 20 homes in the big bird’s territory.

A Proud Mom and Pop

If you’re a national environmental group asking for support, perhaps it’s best not to immediately assume the worst in Washington, D.C., just because a Republican administration moved in. Wilderness Society fund-raisers found that out when they started calling some lapsed members in Kansas. “After all,” the pitch went, “we have to fight Bush and Norton.” Is that so, responded one couple, who then revealed that they were the parents of new Interior Secretary Gale Norton. According to The Denver Post, Norton’s parents said they were proud of their daughter and saw no need for battle. The Wilderness Society “still hopes (the Nortons) will renew their membership.”

Cheesy Artwork

Do you want cheese on that? Maybe not, but what’s a Wyoming town to do when a New York artist decides to drape a local house, inside and out, with 10,000 pounds of melted cheese?

If you’re the administrator of Powell, pop. 5,300, you work out an agreement with the artist, Cosimo Cavallaro, and strongly urge him to time his flowing art for cool weather. “I’m suggesting a fall date,” administrator Jim Wysocki told the Billings Gazette, “to avoid things like odor as much as possible.” Keeping the house as an objet d’art through the summer might strain the tolerance of neighbors, although local mice and squirrels will likely grow in their enthusiasm.

Cavallaro plans to return to the Big Apple when the project’s done, leaving the Big Cheeseball behind. Which is why Wysocki wants the city to reserve the right to tear down the house of cheese before it can be nibbled away.

In The Dark

All those jokes on the Internet about electricity-deprived yet totally frivolous California seem to have rankled. Now, a letter that purports to be from “The Californians” tells the rest of the West a thing or two. Things like “California ranks 48th in the nation in power consumed per person, and California grows more than half the nation’s fruit, nuts and vegetables.” And now we’re told imperiously, “We’re keeping them. We need something to eat when the power goes out.”

Cultural Coast

Meanwhile, California continues to lead the way, culturally. First, there’s the road-rage trial in San Jose, featuring a 27-year-old man who’s accused of scooping a fluffy bichon frise out of the open window of a car on a stalled freeway, then flinging the little dog into traffic. The pet was run over.

Second, there’s the decision by San Francisco to grant up to $50,000 to city workers who suffer from “gender dysphoria,” in which the patient feels he or she was born the wrong sex. The city’s new health package also adds acupuncture, infertility treatment and Viagra. The estimated annual cost to taxpayers of the added benefits is $683,000, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Fond of Ferrets

In suburban Aurora, Colo., a champion of ferrets is battling both the city and some of his neighbors. They say harboring a few of the sinuous animals is fine, but 80 ferrets?

Randy Horton, a former fishing boat captain, says he fell in love with ferrets after one named Hilarious Harvey saved his life seven years ago. Its antics banished his depression after a heart attack. “He gave me a whole new lease on life,” Horton told The Denver Post. A grateful Horton and his wife, Gloria, have turned all but one room in their house over to the scampering pets, as well as transforming their backyard into an amusement park they call Ferretland USA. It’s become an outing for some in the Denver area who own ferrets or who want to adopt one from the nonprofit refuge.

Last year Horton took in 650 abandoned or abused ferrets and put 549 out for adoption.

Betsy Marston is New Media Editor for High Country News ( She can be reached at HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or