Aspen Princess: Finding my pedigree |

Aspen Princess: Finding my pedigree

Alison Berkley Margo
Aspen Princess

I think I found a new line of work.

I’m sitting here on the patio at Confluence Coffee in Basalt (please, I’m begging you, do not call it “Saxy’s” anymore) and literally every person who has walked by has asked me if they can take a picture of Gertrude.

People go nuts over her, carrying on and freaking out like she’s a celebrity and not a fat little dog with a smashed-in face.

“Oh my god, I love pugs!” they exclaim, as if she’s a rock star and not something anyone with the money can go and buy.

Minutes before, I was standing with my friend Brent on the corner and a car pulled up and the girls inside started wielding their phones and snapping her photo, paparazzi style. I looked at them, trying to decipher if I knew them. It was hard to tell because they both had straight blonde hair past their shoulders and were dressed in Patagonia puffer jackets with gold-rimmed aviator glasses and looked just like every other female in this valley. It’s kind of embarrassing when you think about it, how we all dress and look and act pretty much exactly the same.

Speaking of embarrassing, the thought that they might be taking my picture flashed through my mind.

“Oh my god! Is that the Aspen Princess?” one would say to the other. “The girl from The Aspen Times with the pigtails?”

“What’s she doing all the way down here in Basalt?” the other one would say. “Shouldn’t she be on her third gondy lap by now or searching for a new place to hang out after yoga now that Peaches is gone?”

I must have been giving them a confused look because the two girls started furiously pointing at the dog just to let me know that they weren’t stalking me but my pedigree.

Since I’ve been sitting here, at least three more people have taken her picture.

“You should charge for that,” my friend Katherine said as she passed us on her way to work. “You’d probably make a few hundred dollars by noon.”

It’s funny she should bring that up as I have been looking to get into a new line of work, like one that pays thousands instead of hundreds of dollars. The truth is, I’ve been doing a lot more mothering than working lately and could use a little inspiration and some cash flow in my life. I’m just wondering: Do those two things ever go together?

Lately I find myself doing a lot of work I don’t get paid for, like planning parties for 2-year-olds and 70-somethings. This weekend, for example, I’m hosting a party at my parents’ home in Steamboat for their 50th wedding anniversary for 25 of their closest friends.

It’s possible I may have gotten a little overconfident on the heels of my success with “Choo Choo, Look Who’s Turning Two!” because suddenly, I find myself playing caterer, event planner, floral designer and party decorator.

Come to think of it, Pinterest is probably the worst thing to happen to modern women in terms of giving us the resources to think it’s a good idea to do things like spray paint live roses and experiment with a sous vide. All of a sudden I find myself up at 3 o’clock in the morning worrying that the 25 salmon filets I’m going to sear the day before (with a little help from my friend and neighbor chef Katie Baum) are going to be dried out. I’m picturing myself, “Top Chef”-style, with beads of sweat dripping off my forehead with one hand bound in a rubber glove to stop the bleeding after I dismember a finger trying to julienne the carrots. Meanwhile, my guests grow impatient waiting for their second course.

Then I also have to field questions from my mother, who so badly wants to trust that I can handle this, that I can pretend to be a caterer for a day. And just when my confidence is up after another tasting, she starts in with the questions. (Ryan and I have been testing out all the recipes for the party in our home kitchen. See, now that I am a make-believe caterer, I say things like “home kitchen.”)

“Isn’t that going to be messy?” she says when I ask her if she has small bowls we can use to serve the appetizer.

“It’s not soup,” I reassure her, because I know she doesn’t like soup. She doesn’t like smoothies, either. “I don’t like to eat my meal through a straw,” she’ll say every time I whip up a protein shake. I chalk it up to a fear-of-nursing-homes thing and usually just ignore it.

“Oh, and your brother doesn’t want salmon.”

That’s when I have to put my hand over the phone and scream into a pillow.

“He doesn’t like any pink fish,” she continues. “He wouldn’t eat the trout I made the other night, either. And it was surprisingly good, and I got it at City Market!”

Because she is both retired and picky, she will spend half the day stopping at four different stores in order to get the best items available.

But no pressure, right?

I mean, I love to cook, I love to be creative and put together the little details that make an event special. I love my parents, too, and think 50 years of marriage is worthy of more than a celebration. It’s deserving of a tribute.

I also love my pug, who nestled in my lap in the warm mid-morning sun snoring away, even if my fingers are cold on account of typing outside in the middle of winter.

Now if I could just figure out a way to make some money, and become my own kind of pedigree.

The Princess is really needing to get a Bowl hike in this week. Email your love to


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