Monday, July 28, 2008

A tribute to Louis L'Amour in The Desert Sun

July 28, 2008

All dogs go to heaven

Maggie Downs
The Desert Sun

When Ruby Montana first met the dog, his name was Fritz. He was a wisp of a thing, not even three pounds.

It was Christmas Eve. The sign on his cage simply read, “Heartbroken and homeless.”

The pup had been living with an Alzheimer's patient who fed him nothing but Pepperidge Farm Milanos and beer. After his owner was admitted to a nursing home, the family wanted to put the dog to sleep. Instead, he ended up in a pet grooming shop, waiting for the right home.

Ruby Montana saw the Chihuahua and fell in love.

“Well, come on. I had to take him home,” she says. “There was no way I could walk away from him. Even though I thought my two cocker spaniels would kill him.”

She christened him Louis L'Amour.

This is what Ruby Montana does. She is a collector of many things — people with stories to tell, broken animals, vintage salt and pepper shakers.

Until eight years ago, Ruby owned an eclectic shop in Seattle, Ruby Montana's Pinto Pony, a 2,500-foot space chock-full of retro kitsch, like pig-faced cookie jars, old postcards and Aunt Jemima pitchers.

There, Louis L'Amour helped run the Pinto Pony. As Ruby tells it, he was “the hardest working dog in retail.”

Ruby Montana holds a photo of Louis L'Amour, her 21-year-old Chihuahua who died last week. People in the community and around the world have responded with flowers and messages of condolence. (Richard Lui, The Desert Sun)

Ruby herself is something of a throwback. She is all red lipstick and bombshell blonde hair, propelled by the high-octane coffee she calls “jet fuel.”

She's the only person in the world who would have created the famous Seattle Spam-carving contests, judged by author Tom Robbins. (He wrote a story about Ruby that appears in his 2005 work, “Wild Ducks Flying Backward.”) The Spam-themed festivities “came in a dream,” she says.

Eight years ago, Ruby packed up truckloads of her stuff, drove to Palm Springs and began a new phase of life as the owner of Ruby Montana's Coral Sands Inn.

The place is sweet and quirky with seven theme rooms, like “The Howdy Doody Goes to Bali Suite,” “Yippy Ky Yo Ky Yay Rodeo Suite” and “The Yiddish Cowgirl Suite,” each decorated with vintage artwork, Formica tables and the kind of glassware you would find at grandma's house.

“It attracts a certain kind of person,” she says.

Ruby runs the inn herself. While she doesn't particularly like scrubbing toilets or changing the bed sheets, she's in the resort business for other reasons — for the family it creates.

“You don't make money at these endeavors, but what you do make are friends,” she says.

Louis L'Amour, too, settled into his new position and gathered new fans from all over the globe.

The guests never arrived without gifts for Louis, who ended up with more sweaters than an L.L. Bean catalog.

“He fell into a new kind of retirement lifestyle,” Ruby says. “More glam than retail.”

There are other dogs that help run the joint, too.

Ruby Montana has a shrine set up for Louis at her Palm Springs home.
(Richard Lui, The Desert Sun)

A couple years ago Ruby had Louis L'Amour firmly tucked away in her purse at Trader Joe's. At the checkout, the pooch popped his head out, prompting another woman in line to exclaim, “I know his soulmate and she's in jeopardy!”

That's how Ruby ended up with Lola, a sassy grey dog who fell head over heels in love with Louis L'Amour.

Then, just last year, Ruby was driving on a back road in Emporia, Kan., when the driver of the car in front of her tossed a dog out the window. Ruby pulled over, chased the dog down and gave her a new home and new name — Dusty Springfield.

Last Sunday, just after the storms, 21-year-old Louis L'Amour slipped and drowned in the resort pool. He was carried to Ruby in a towel.

“I heard the knock on the door and just knew. It was the hardest door I'd ever opened,” she says.

Ruby Montana has no problem collecting things. It's letting go that is the problem.

She didn't make an announcement about Louis L'Amour's death, but word spread anyway. Within a day, she had received hundreds of phone calls, dozens of messages on her blog and kind words from all over the world.

“The best part of life is that each person is so unique in what they bring to the table,” she says. “That's what L'Amour had. You truly felt his soul. Everybody did.”

Ruby's neon green cell phone rings. It's a woman in Wisconsin. There are choked-back tears on the other end as a woman says, “My heart is broken for you.”

“It's hard to imagine life without him now, he's been stalking my ankles for so long,” Ruby says, sorrowfully.

Maggie Downs is a features reporter for The Desert Sun.

She can be reached at 778-6435 or

All Photos : Richard Lui, The Desert Sun

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Seattle Times to Run Tribute to Louie L'Amour August 3, 2008

Friends of Louie's can find a tribute to the little gent in The Seattle Times next Sunday. Terry Tazioli is running an article and he knew Louis quite well so it should capture his weltanschaung.

Joyce (Rubys mother) Ruby and Lil Louie Lamour

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lou and His Shadow...

Terry Tazioli Remembers Louis L'Amour

Terry wrote a piece on The Coral Sands early in the first years Louie and I were here. It was a huge boon to business and I thank him for that but I especially thank him for his tribute in that article to Louie L'Amour:

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Louis B. "Guard Dog" L'Amour, maybe 10 inches tall at the ears, was pointing dead-on toward the entrance to the Coral Sands Inn. Every time he barked, he shot skyward, each leg a little synchronized rocket.

Outside, some guy Louis the Chihuahua didn't know was ringing the bell next to the motel's locked gate, jumping up and down, trying to see in.

Wouldn't ya know it. Louis's mama was out running errands, one guest was asleep in her room, another was sitting alone, poolside. Everything had been calm in Louis' capable paws — until now. Then comes this guy, acting like some kind of nut.

What's to see, Buster? It's a motel. A six-unit, pink motel. It was here in Palm Springs before you were a bullet in somebody's six-shooter. Why don't you just high-tail it to some other place to bed down. Rawf!

Wait a minute! The guest by the pool is going over to let the nut case in — the guy says he has a reservation. Why does this always happen? Why do so many guests figure they run the place?

Louis glowers and turns away.
Life's just like that at Ruby Montana's Coral Sands Inn.

Terry Tazioli
Travel/Northwest Life
The Seattle Times
P.O. Box 70
Seattle, WA 98111


Do Not Go Gentle

Louie howls to the fates that be. He was letting the pool have it that day, perhaps he knew something. Maybe they were striking a bargain. My boy lived with dash and went out with a splash.

No need to cry, although we do and must, but no NEED to cry for this magnificent soul returned to the waters of life to be born in some new incarnation. Where and when we do not know.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'll Never Be Your Beast of Burden

Suffer the little children . . .

And he did. Louie L'Amour loved children and none more than his nephews Caleb and Nathan pictured here at the Brooklyn House in 1997. When Ruby found him, Louie (then known implausibly as 'Fritz') had been sewn into a horse hair sack by his owner, an elderly woman suffering from dementia and who fed him nothing but Milano cookies and beer -- her own diet.

Yes, Louie was a rescue dog and he never lost sight of those humble beginnings. He made it his life-long policy to rescue a small (or large) portion of every heart he encountered on his journey, but he was especially dear to children. Rube even worried that little Fritz was too small and frail to survive her whirlwind life, including the rough and tumble of twin boys.

But Louie, as usual, exceeded expectations transforming himself from little, hairless, shivering Fritz into the gadabout Louis L'Amour, special secret agent, cowboy, clown, pretend hostage -- whatever the game, he was up for it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Louie lives on in the Blogosphere

The announcement of Louis' sudden passing has touched many Sanders.

The little one had a big impact on many hearts.

As this goes up,
more than 40 love notes have been posted on the Coral Sands site.
and tributes to Saint Louis L'Amour have been popping up across the blogosphere.

The dessert rains come, the skies weep,
but the roses bloom.

from The Joanie-n-Rebecca Golf Experience
So Long, Louie L'Amour, A Dog for All Seasons

From claudia's surf city
louis the love

from the Brockowskis of Michigan
Happy Trails, Lou

and the
AskDavid version on blogger

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Adieu My Captain, Farewell My Love

Louis L'Amour
The Beginning of Time - July 20, 2008

Louie L'Amour, the dapper Master of Ceremonies at The Coral Sands, bought a one-way ticket on the last train West in the early hours of Sunday Morning, Coming Down. He was 21 years old.

Surveying his property, as he did at sunrise every morning, L'Amour, who was deaf and going blind, fell into the pool and slipped away. Befitting the occasion, the desert skies in July tore open and wept, flooding arroyos, taking out traffic lights, and washing the ancient sands, the skies wept, wept, wept at the loss of Louie the Love.

He is survived by his pet Ruby Montana, his bitches Lola and Dusty, a dozen stray cats, and the enduring Sands. The finest Chihuahua ever to play the game or run a motel, Louie was beloved by literally thousands or perhaps even millions. His gifts were in reverse proportion to his size and, in fact, cannot even be measured. Friends gathered throughout the day to comfort Ms. Montana.

May all the Saints embrace him, choirs of angels sing upon his arrival. We know God is smiling upon our Louis -- restored to his youthful vigor and handsomeness, he is working the perimeter in the Great Beyond.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Legendary "Brooklyn" Home To Ruby in Seattle...

Everyone has been asking for a picture of Ravenna Park Brooklyn residence...Here she is...
We loved living there...

Monday, July 14, 2008

We call Her Flipper, Flipper...Faster Than Lightning...Elliott Walker Veith My Beautiful and Brilliant God Daughter in Bozeman Montana Happy Birthday

Elliott Veith My Precious God Daughter Happy Birthday, Baby! You were so very happy at the moment I took this picture...
I am sure this photo captures the moment you developed your beautiful smile...I love you very much.
I am very sorry not to make it to Montana this year to celebrate with you. I want you to know that I am there in spirit with you. xoxoRuby

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ruth and Calyn Dougherty pictured here on the front porch of the legendary Brooklyn house in Seattle...

For all who knew Ruth, today is a sad day. Ruth crossed over early in the morning on July 12, 2008 in Louisville, Kentucky. Step mother is such an inadequate word, as is so with all the "step" relations. No one is a step sister. They are either your sister or not. And it's the same with step mother. Ruth was so much more than a step. She was the journey. She had scores of friends and a large family. She loved to sit and talk, read books and especially loved to sing. She had a strong melodic voice and belonged to Sweet Adelines, touring with the nationally renowned group occassionally. My condolences are with the entire Dougherty family and a special nod to Calyn Dougherty, who is part of my family and, thus, included me in Ruth's. May choirs of angels greet her.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Isabelle Lynn and Kay Kershaw At The Double Kay Mountain Ranch in Goose Prairie Washington/Chinook Pass

Kay and Isabelle were the Gertrude and Alice of America...and served as mentors. They are the real truth behind the direction of a little pink motel...The Coral Sands. Their Guest Ranch high in the mountains didn't have power and they had to cross country ski 30 miles to retrieve their mail. They would take Supreme Court Justices...William O. Douglas...on two week pack trips...eventually coming up with the very first designation for Wilderness in the State of Washington...The William O. Douglas Wilderness area was certainly mentored by Isabelle Lynn and Kay Kershaw. These women were the real Deal.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mighty APHRODITE HAS SPOKEN AND Look at our Cee Cee on her 65th greece...

Cee Cee Ponicsan turned 65 today...She makes it all look so easy. She has found an inner peace that balances with her Model quality beauty that make the Gods smile. My CeeCee is a true friend and the Queen of many hearts. Happy Birthday to you today my Dear Friend...Ruby Loves You.

And Ruby So Loved Her Only Son . . .

The Reverend Montana launches her ministry with a call to the river and first born Louis answers. Some call it the baptism of a voice crying in the desert, Louis just called it a dip in the pool on a hot afternoon.

Whatever, the church is open for business and will commence weddings, commitment ceremonies, baptisms, cake walks, and other accouterments of the spirit in due order.

C'mon down for a little communion. You know how we feel about bread and wine here. Let the spirit move you, we'll groove you.

The Reverend is waiting for you in the desert. Answer the call.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


JULY 9, 2009

The never ending river--Mary Nastali who begat Vita Alea who begat Elliott and Amanda who, with her soon-to-be-husband John, is begetting The Bean (also pictured above) concealed by mother's blouse.

Amanda Veith (daughter of my best of friends Nick, Vita, Bruce and Jennifer) will marry her Angel Baby John Holcomb tonight as the stars twinkle above them. Could one of those stars be Mary? The ceremony, on the stoop of their back porch, will legitimize the Bean... A bittersweet moment for us all with the passing of Gram just yesterday, and the birth of a new little family...Gram will take out a few lights around us in these 24 of mine is twinkling now...(Mary Nastali the Grandmother of Amanda and the Mother of Vita). Mary always thought someone from the other side was we know it is her. A big hearty Congratulations to two of the sweetest young people on the face of this planet. I cherish this moment and you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Lovely and Talented Singer, Painter, Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, and so much more

Mary Nastali
1914 - 2008

Mary and her sisters, The Farmeretttes, sang on Chicago's WLS. Its call letters referred to Sears & Roebuck, then the Worlds Largest Store--WLS.

Mary on her wedding day.

A big thank you to granddaughter Lisa Hilger for sending The Coral Sands these great photos of Mary Nastali. A group hug goes out to all the Nastalis, Veiths, and Hilgers, their children and grandchildren, and the little buns in ovens that carry on for Mary. There is not bandwidth enough to say all this woman was, the lives she touched, the hearts she lived in, the food, dear God, the food this gal baked, braised, roasted, boiled, sauteed, blanched, soaked, sliced, fricasseed, and put on the table every day. The art she produced, becoming an accomplished painter of astounding miniatures. She could reproduce the entire Flemish renaissance on a grain of sand. Loved and missed by all who knew her and millions who knew her only by reputation. The wind cries Mary.

Dining at Tropicale a Wonderful Restaurant Venue in Palm Springs...Geri, Ruby and Rebecca...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Louie Lamour Sweeping the Grounds...Lookin' Good...Taken by Katy Nastali Wood Rubys God daughter...

An email to a fan

Sun, 6 Jul 2008

Thank you, Honey!

I had a lovely birthday here in Ptown. I had my first sold-out show of the summer, had drinks with John Waters, then capped the evening off by having more drinks with Lea Delaria and Janette. A lovely day.

I'm determined to come visit you in the next year. . .
I don't know if it'll be in January or what, but I'm going to get down there!

Love you, Ruby,


John Waters, a fan of Dina Martina's, of course

I wanted to post this on the Blog...drinks with John Waters!!!

Lea Delaria and Janette Mason are also regular Sanders and I love them. (Lea is a famous comedian).


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Rebecca "Peaches" Chekouras and our Host Jamie "First" Kabler at The Launch Party July 5, 2008

Jamie Kabler promotes everything worthwhile in PS. One only need to follow him around to do the right thing. He could teach us all a thing or two. Hosting a party for 600 without taking a drink is a Masters Task and one to revere. I say we'd all be a little better off if Jamie were a little more involved in city government. Maybe one day. I will say we are all big fans of our new mayor Steve Pougnet and our council woman Ginny Foat.

Jamie Kabler Hosted the Launch Party for Cinema Diverse Last Evening at Leisureland...He is the consummate Host....Brilliant gathering...

The 2008 Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in Palm Springs...
This Festival will run at Camelot Theatres July 22-27th, 2008...
This will be a showcase of the best in LGBT filmmaking from the US and around the world.
Visit their website:
Jamie and Ruby will see you there.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Very Happy Birthday Shout Goes Out to Sander and Friend Dina Martina . . . riding here in the Seattle Gay Pride Parade (left) with Love(ly) Laverne

Dina and Laverne are among the best of home grown Seattle...Be sure to go to Dina's website...

Happy Birthday, Darlin' . . . RZM

So Long Mr. Helms, You've Done Quite Enough

Lesson to be learned from Helms' dark legacy
While Faith In America respects this time of loss for former Sen. Jesse Helms' family, we are compelled to remind Americans that there is a lesson to be learned from Helms' dark legacy that for years promoted religion-based prejudice and discrimination against those that were different than him.
In a 1995 radio broadcast he remarked, "Homosexuals are weak, morally sick wretches." In a 1994 letter to Patsy Clarke of Raleigh, N.C., whose son had died of AIDS, Helms wrote "As for homosexuality, the Bible judges it, I do not." ,
"These typical statements by Helms clearly demonstrate how he used the Bible to justify a message of hostility, condemnation and discrimination toward gays and lesbians," said Faith In America Executive Director Brent Childers. "He clearly judged and condemned gay and lesbian individuals as morally depraved, while trying to conceal his hostility, bigotry and prejudice behind his own personal interpretation of scriptual text."
Childers said it may never be known if Helms truly believed gay and lesbians were condemned by God or if he once truly believed the Bible condemned interracial marriages when in 1968 he told Duke University students who staged a vigil in response to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination that "They should ask their parents if it would be all right for their son or daughter to marry a Negro."
"What we do know is that he was wrong in 1968 to condemn interracial marriage and he was wrong to condemn gays and lesbians," he said. "Inflicting harm on others in the name of religion is at the heart of Helms' dark legacy. People like Helms don't seem to recognize the very real harm they cause, especially to impressionable teenagers." And while Helms in the past may have promoted bigotry and hatred because of his own personal misunderstanding and prejudices, Childers said it is clear today that many elected officials and those seeking public office promote hatred and bigotry toward gay and lesbians for no other other reason than political gain.
"These politicians are writing a legacy far darker than even that of Helms," he added. Faith in America is a civil rights advocacy organization whose mission is to end legal and spiritual discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people in America and to gain full and equal rights for those citizens.
Faith in America is the only national LGBT rights advocacy organization lead by a straight ally. Faith In America is not a religious organization but works to educate Americans about the harm caused by religion-based bigotry against GLBT individuals by connecting the historical dots of discrimination and prejudice.

Sander Rebecca "Peaches" Chekouras is back...she is here with Palm Springs Kim Chasen

Palm Springs 4th of July Picnic...Suzanne, Paula, Ace (in the back) Ruby and Rebecca

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy Birthday H.B. (Peter House) on the right...Ruby Montanas ex Husband...Here he is photographed with "the Fish" (poker buddy) at the family farm

Many a wild poker game was played at the family farm in Dexter, Michigan, off Old Territorial Road. The family farm, "Meanwhile" was the favorite hangout for all who knew. Peters parents "Big George" and Betty House developed it and added a fresh water lake. Happy Birthday, Peter.