Saturday, December 29, 2007

Abidance


Lying in bed last night, I was going over our holidays, and got to thinking about the gift Jodie's giving Starr Ann and me. Jodie invited us to travel up to Massachusetts and stay in her home there for a week or two. While we're there, she promises to take good care of Happy Hands Ranch and all our animals.

I was wondering when we should take Jodie up on the offer, and thinking it would be just like Starr Ann to sense it'd be a good time to come stealing into my room so we could talk it over. Then I started thinking how Starr Ann usually shows up in my room when I'm hoping she will. All of a sudden it dawned on me that Starr Ann always comes to my room. I couldn't think of a single time I'd ever sneaked into her room at night and eased in beside her to get all cozy and talk. Wow. Only one thing to do about that.

Dang, our hallway's really dark. About half the way to Starr Ann's room, something caught my foot and I had to hurl myself forward to keep from falling. But Starr Ann's door put a stop to all that, and when I thudded into it Bates went off big time, snarling and snapping on the other side until I got the thing opened and convinced him it was only me. Well, you'd have thought I insulted his family or something the way the judgmental little snot huffed off and made such a show of settling back into his bed. Not that I could see him, but his grunts and groans were clearly puppy expletives.

So far so good. I was inside Starr Ann's room, and she was still asleep. Have you ever seen a gold bar, or brick I guess they're called, up close? One time before September 11, 2001, Starr Ann and I rode over to Fort Knox and took a tour. They had this gold brick on display in the museum. The more I took in the dense stillness that bar gave off, the more it reminded me of Starr Ann when she's asleep. The girl must have the cleanest conscience on Earth.

Anyway, she was still way unconscious when I got under the covers with her. Hmmm, now what? You gotta be careful about waking Starr Ann up. Things end up splatted against the walls. My eyes started to adjust, and I leaned up on my elbow, close to her face, just watching her. The more I took in the Starr Ann-ness she gave off, the more she reminded me of pure gold. The girl's about the most precious thing on Earth to me.

Right when I'd just about decided not to bother her with waking, Starr Ann turned over and rolled into me. Her eyes flicked open and she didn't sproing all over the place or anything. She just said, "Well hi, Margo," and yawned.

"Well hi, Starr Ann."

She snuggled in close and said, "Thought yet about when would be a good time to visit Massachusetts?"

"Dang, sometimes I think you're as psychic as Simone, Starr Ann."

"Nope, just know you, that's all. So, I was thinking it'd be fun to go real soon. Like maybe even take off tomorrow."

I considered for about a half a second, but actually didn't need that long. "Perfect. Think Jodie's ready to take over on such short notice?"

"I do. Before I left tonight, she told me four times how much she's looking forward to giving us this."

I threw my hand up, and Starr Ann did our special, secret handshake with me. It was set. We're going on an adventure.

A little bit later, I said I guessed I'd head on back to my own room. But Starr Ann just reached past me to her nightstand. From behind the lamp base, she pulled a saucer with a cookie on it. One of those imported sugar cookies I love so much. I didn't even realize we had any of those in the house.

Starr Ann held the saucer out to me. "Take it. It's for you."

"What? A Christmas present or something?"

Starr Ann swung her head back and forth. "Uh-uh. I put one of these here every night, just in case."

"In case what?"

"Case you come in for some reason. Here, eat it."

Goddess, I love those cookies. When it was gone, I said, "How long have you been doing this, Starr Ann?"

"Ever since you first started liking them so much. Are you surprised? Was it good?"

"Delicious. But that was years ago."

By the filtered moonlight, I could see how huge she was smiling. "Yes it was. Twenty-three tins of cookies ago, to be exact."

I had two choices. I picked the one where I go back to my room. At the door, I said, "Goddess, I love you, Starr Ann." Then, just as I was about to touch the doorknob, I realized something. So I turned around and went to Starr Ann's window, raised it, and climbed out.

We got our things together this morning, and are about to head for Massachusetts. We'll be gone for a week, maybe more.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Envision This


Dang, it wasn't easy to put this beast's picture here next to our beautiful Flickerglow and Coat of Arms. But Starr Ann insisted, and she's right.

Our lives are so sweet. We get to shower the women we love with love. We eat well. We enjoy the sensual privilege of touching sleek horse flesh, fluffy cat coats and warm puppy fur. We brave winter's cold from the comfort of thickly padded gear, and extend our muscles in the delightful chores that keep our selves and our animals safe and healthy. We're incredibly lucky. And we firmly believe the Goddess expects us to revel in the joys of life, so we do.

But all is not sweet. Our country tortures people. Our country does tremendous harm in the world. Our tax dollars are at work committing war crimes.

I guess if our peaceful holiday state of mind is too assailable to withstand remembering the bad with the good, then it's not worth having. So, in that spirit, let's envision something useful.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ah, The Return To Normalcy


Starr Ann and I do very little shopping at holiday time. We don't send cards. We don't have a huge Christmas Day dinner. And we don't decorate our house much beyond our Flickerglow.

So we're always amazed at how relieved we still are when the holidays are over and the world settles back into regular days filled with the usual chores and life's simple progression.

Today we're celebrating all those things, and feeling quite good about the world we've built for ourselves.

The celebration of Winter's arrival is nearly over, let's get on with Winter!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Letter From Lane


Starr Ann and I are having a wonderful Christmas! Yesterday, when we still hadn't gotten word from Lane since putting her on the plane headed for Basic Training, I know both our hearts dipped a little bit. Starr Ann was hawking around the mailbox all day. Finally, we heard the postmistress' truck and we ran all the way out to the road together, thinking surely there'd be something. But, no.

Then last night, just like our Christmas Angel, Lori rode over late to deliver a piece of mail. Yep. The very first letter from Lane. And in a typical teenager move, Lane had addressed the envelope nearly correctly. Just one number off. We're so lucky that number guided the letter to Lori, who was kind enough to take time away from her own day and bring it to us. Thanks, Lori girl!

Anyway, here are the words that have made our Christmas complete! We just had to share them.



Hi Starr Ann! Hi Margo!

I'm writing to you from the comfort of my cot. You'd think I'd sit on the floor to write, because I'm messing up my bed, which is made so perfect you can bounce a dime on it usually. I got that lesson right away. Not a big fan of push-ups.

Amanda and me were right together and thicker than thieves for the first two nights while we were in the orientation center. Then, they sent her to another battalion. I won't get to even talk to her until week 4, if we're lucky. I think I'm going to die just from that. I've noticed a lot of girls who like to look a little too long in the showers already though. Maybe I'll talk to them one of these days.

It's effin' cold in the morning here. No smoking, no drinking, and the food; well, let's just say it ain't home cooking, but mama wasn't real good at feeding me anyway. I'm so hungry all the time, I eat it all and scrounge for more if'n I am able. I've lost five pounds already.

Don't mind the marchin' much, but we do it all the time. I got the hang of it real quick. On the fourth day, they put me at fourth squad leader in the first platoon, which means I pretty much set the pace for the marchin'. That's kind of cool. I'm bored with those cadence calls, so I'm going to write to our pardner Mind Nomadic and ask her to write a few line poem to make marchin' more fun and see if the drill sergeants will let us.

They think they're tough, those drill sergeants. One of them looked me in the eye and it kind of scared me. She seemed all mean and everything, 'cept when she calls me in the office and asks me about stuff like what I want to get out of the Army. Don't trust her. Nope, not a bit. But, she ain't as mean as she seems, I'm thinkin'.

I hear we're going to get our assignments soon. I wish I had picked a job when I signed up. Hear tell that lots of folks are endin' up in combat arms or combat support. I'd like to be a field surveyor. That sounds fun. Work outside, tramp around, and look at the closest thing to a telescope the Army has that ain't on a gun. I mean rifle - not supposed to call it a gun. Don't know what's going to happen though. All I know right now is at bedtime, I am very happy to go to sleep. Even with those dang scratchy Army blankets.

Missin' you and the horses and other critters. Nobody wants to wrestle here.

Love,

Lane

Monday, December 24, 2007

Mare On Snow Ridge


To each and every one who wanders in here to Happy Hands Ranch, Starr Ann and I wish you thoughts as peaceful as morning snow and a heart as wild as an untamed mare.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Digg is Dead - Let's Just Bury It


Starr Ann and I are pronouncing Digg dead, and we're burying it. Digg is so shallow, it won't take but a coupla shovelfuls to do the job.

Here's the thing. Digg is in the misogyny and homophobia business. Yep. They like to ban blogs like Lesbiatopia. We just heard about that yesterday.

Now we discover Digg has actually banned two members of The Posse. That's right! Seems Just a Girl in Short Shorts thinks a bit too freely for the folks over at Digg. When Starr Ann heard about that she got that one look on her face you never want to see Starr Ann get. Becky C is one free-thinking woman. She's a lesbian without a box. Heh. Sounds bad doesn't it? But what we mean by that is she defies containment. Yep, Becky C does her own thinking on every subject, and the second you think you want to put a label on her, woops! she whirls around and has an opinion (and a well thought out one) that flies in the face of your label. Anyway, Becky C's a Posse member, and for her banning alone, we'd be riding out against Digg.

But get this - today we found out that another Posse member has been banned. Are you ready for this? Cap'n Dyke, who happens to be the sweetest, most dashing, most flirtalicious lesbian in all of blogland, has been banned by Digg. The Posse is definitely saddling up!

Now, if you want all the gory details (and believe us, you do), please visit any of the sites above, plus Lori's Hahn at Home. It's all there.

So, nuff said. Digg is dead. Time for all free-thinking, women-loving, freedom-fighting citizens to bury it. As for the Wal-Mart-shopping, Bush-voting, torture-approving, rights-curtailing factions at large in this country, ya'll can just keep on dealing with Digg's rotting carcass.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled activities. Starr Ann is going over to Jodie's place to indulge in some unnatural acts. All day. This, after all, is their first Christmas together.

I'm kinda thinking along those same lines, so I'm getting ready to call up Celia Susan and invite her for Christmas. Keep your fingers crossed she accepts.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dreamscape Ambiguity



I have a map collection. All the maps were drawn by my best friend Starr Ann.

Not long after Starr Ann got to the orphanage, I was telling her how to climb out her bedroom window and get to the kitchenette door at night, where I'd be waiting to let her in and we'd get extra desserts. Anyway, I got out a piece of paper and started to draw her a map. You should have seen that kid's face.

Completely awestruck, she said, "It's like a calendar that tells you where to walk to."

Well, after that Starr Ann made up all kinds of maps. We were orphans, right? And at first, that feels like you're dangling in mid-air. I can totally see where the idea of setting a definite point that says You Are Here then charting the way home would have appealed to Starr Ann.

She used to drag me out into the woods to bury something we valued, and then she'd draw up a map that could get us right back to it. These were the Buried Treasure maps.

Starr Ann's Lucky Maps were a little more open-ended. With those, she'd start out at one of our rooms, or the playground or somplace and draw outward, beyond anywhere we'd actually ever been, and she'd put wild, amazing adventures out there for us to find later, when we were big enough to go off and claim them.

Anyway, I'm not usually very meticulous or organized, but I keep Starr Ann's Lucky Maps separate from her Buried Treasure ones. Always have, for some reason. And I don't claim to have every single one she ever made, but I do have most of them.

Here's the earliest one in my collection. It's a Buried Treasure map from when Starr Ann thought it would be funny to hide part of my Trick-or-Treat booty. Her idea was that when I ran out, she'd surprise me with this map to the rest of my candy.

Needless to say, there were a couple of hitches. First of all, I don't really know what she put the candy in to keep it clean, but the idea of digging it up doesn't seem very appetizing. So, even if we'd found it, which we never did, I'm not at all sure we'd have eaten it. The main reason we couldn't find the candy again was that the gray swirly part there actually turned out to represent a puddle. Two days later, when Starr Ann tried to give me my surprise, the puddle had dried up. We tried and tried, but between losing the puddle and having leaves blown all over the dig area, it was hopeless. Starr Ann was always real careful after that to back up her landmarks and only choose the most permanent, dependable ones available.

I'd put up some other maps, just to show off Starr Ann's cartographical skills, but most of them are top secret, and she'd kill me for putting them on the Internet. Her best ones to date locate the entrances to her bunkers. Of course, showing any of these is out of the question. In fact, I'm not allowed to keep these with the regular collection. No, the bunker maps must be located two map degrees of separation from the collection. By that, I mean I have a map in the collection, coded of course, that leads to a second map, buried I can't say where, and it's that map that leads directly to the bunkers.

Anyway, as Starr Ann stood pouring her first cup of coffee this morning, I could see, even from behind, that something was bothering her. Some people have a telltale way of holding their shoulders when they're tense. With Starr Ann, it's her butt. This morning, her butt just wasn't settled in her chaps right. So I asked her what was wrong.

She took a little sip of her coffee and said, "Had a weird dream."

"Bad weird, or weird weird?"

"Good question, Margo. You tell me. It was one of those real short ones. I was standing on a hill, looking out over a sunrise or a sunset. I didn't know, because I didn't have any bearings. Didn't know where I was." Starr Ann stopped talking a second, trying to picture things again. "Remember how Lane was so afraid of the psychic, Simone, when we had Bates' reading at the fair?"

I said, "Sure. She didn't want anything to do with having her own reading."

Starr Ann nodded. "Well, did it strike you as odd, the night we had to call Simone to help us find Bates, that Lane closed herself in the study and talked to her for so long?"

I remember I did think that was strange at the time. "Yeah, but then I thought Lane was just grateful to Simone and had gotten used to the idea of her abilities."

"Okay, so here's what happened in my dream. I was standing there on that hill, and somebody touched my shoulder. When I turned, I saw Simone. She was holding out a piece of paper that I understood she wanted me to take. As soon as I touched the paper, Simone vanished. So, I unfolded it and it was a map of Iraq."

For Starr Ann's sake, I really wish I could have hidden the flash of fear that went through me right then, but it happened too fast.

We were quiet for a few minutes, until Starr Ann finally said, "Only thing is, it was hard to tell whether it was supposed to be a Lucky Map or a Buried Treasure Map."

Starr Ann and I are going to send all our energy in the direction of it being a Lucky Map. That's all we can do.

A Blog Christmas Present!

My best friend Starr Ann and I got the most wonderful gift today. It's Riley up there. Actually, we got an email telling us that dlp has sponsored Riley for us through the wonderful organization Best Friends. Thanks, dlp!

Starr Ann tells me dlp worked with Best Friends in their rescue efforts after Katrina, and she has the highest admiration for their methods. Those people just seem to never give up on an animal. They had a ward set up for animals infected with Parvo, and treated them. They had special techniques for handling the animals who were freaked and dangerous. They did surgeries on animals that needed extensive repair.

Whatever the animal's problem, physical or emotional, Best Friends does everything that can be done. And dlp can vouch for that. So, Starr Ann and I are extremely honored to know part of their heroic effort is being supported in our names. We're going to their site today and do some Christmas gifting of our own.

Thanks again, dlp! Starr Ann and I love you.

Oh, and here's Riley's story:

No one can believe this girl's sweet temperament.

She arrived at Best Friends with a dislocated fetlock that hadn't been treated for months. Ouch!

Since arriving here, she's had to go to orthopedic surgeons and endure painful recoveries. And through all this, she has remained the most mellow, gentle horse in the world. Where does she get that unquenchable soft spirit?

Riley was born in 1988. She's a very pretty buckskin who came from a home that wasn't able to take care of her. She's recovering well at Best Friends, and would love to have a sponsor to cheer her on.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Vendo Madness



When we were little, Starr Ann wanted to grow up to be a safecracker. Naturally, though, the nuns didn't have a safe, so there wasn't much around to practice on. Until we got big enough to sneak into town, where both the courthouse and the hospital had these Disneyesque vending areas. To Starr Ann's young and ambitious mind, a vending machine was just a safe with food inside instead of money.

Since Sheriff Angela Torrence was usually somewhere around the courthouse, and since Starr Ann and I both crushed on Sheriff Torrence throughout most of our formative years, and getting in trouble with her would have been both exciting and mortifying, we thought it best to hone Starr Ann's vendo-tumbling skills at the hospital. Personally, I think spending all that time over there was one big reason Starr Ann had the flu so much during third grade. Starr Ann insists it was from something that happened between her and Mary Jane Gotlieb in the cloak room a few days before they found out Mary Jane had mono.

Anyway, they haven't really made a vending machine Starr Ann can't defeat. She never actually steals anything, just liberates the snack she wants, then sticks the money in afterward. It's more sport than anything else.

So, the whole reason I got off on all this is to warn you about Oreo Cakesters.
These things look innerestin, but take it from Starr Ann and me: They.Are.Hideous.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Blue Tea Meme From A Virgin Memer


My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) and I have been tagged by The Queen of Memes The Blue Tea Meme From A Virgin Memer. Well, you might be wondering what that means. So did we. To tell the truth, our first thought was, "Dang, we probably have nothing to wear."

Turns out, though, we could do this without any clothes on at all, if we wanted to. We got word from a totally unreliable source that Mimi Lenox, who tagged us, actually wrote her Blue Tea Meme in nothing but a neon-pink feather boa and a brown patent-leather pantsuit. Anyway, fashion is irrelevant, because all this Meme Tag thing means is that we have a nice, fun blog subject all set up for us. Starr Ann and I just have to flesh it out.

Anyway, we've been kinda long in getting around to doing this. What finally put a flame to our chaps was Mimi's thinly veiled, well not veiled at all really, threat concerning a dungeon. That did it. Starr Ann is totally in awe of anyone who has a dungeon, and ever since Mimi left that comment, Starr Ann's been on my case.
Here are the rules (and, yes, cowgirls are known for not getting on well in a 'rule' environment, but we're really trying here).

Rules For The Blue Tea Meme: Devise a list of 5-10 courses you would take to fix your life. It's more fun to be in classes with friends, so include one class from the person who tagged you that you'd also like to take. Tag five.

Okay, here's one thing Starr Ann and I decided right away. We will not be taking our courses together. That part is my idea. And I really had to insist on it, because taking a class, any class, with Starr Ann is something I've promised myself I never have to go through again in my whole life.

Last time, Starr Ann and I signed up for this meditation/yoga/tofu course called Relax Your Way To Success. Well, Starr Ann got bored with what she called the "lack of stimulation" after about the first five minutes of the first class. And we were supposed to be in the thing for two whole months, three nights a week. So, second time we went, when they handed out the yoga instructions, Starr Ann worked her evil on the drawings of ladies demonstrating poses. What she was able to do with just a pen and her sick mind really was quite remarkable. I tried to keep from laughing, but Starr Ann would do all these disgusting things to one of the sketches and shove it so seriously right in front of me, and then I'd accidentally look at it and crack up.

That kind of thing kept happening, until on the night of the fifth class meeting, we got kicked out because "Margo's lack of maturity is interfering with the other students' experience." And these were people who are practically professionals at being calm and accepting!

Bottom line, we're not taking anymore classes together. Ever.

Anyway, we get to make up courses!

Starr Ann's first. It's hard to tell from these how lighthearted that girl really is. Deep down.

1. How to Prepare Edible Meals in a Post-Apocalyptic America

Class Description: Use of post-annihilation probable foodstuffs will be discussed and explored. Recipes will include, but not be limited to, 'Blackened Twig Shortbread', 'Stone Stew' and 'Mutant Chicken Egg Souffle.' 1.5 Credit Hours

2. Personal Laser-Beam Application to Deter Eyes in the Sky

Class Description: Participants will build a highly individualized and camoflaged Sun-hot laser system as a means of protecting the personal right to privacy. 3 Credit Hours

3. Fooling All The People All The Time

Class Description: Phone pranks, escape methods, and tricky cowgirl techniques for getting into tight spots, but slipping right out again with minimum detection. Independent study

Now mine. These are a little narrower in scope, and not really college-level classes like Starr Ann's were. But they're things I think would be real helpful.

4. Profanity For Dummies

I have a rare form of dyslexic Tourette's Syndrome. In theory, I can cuss. But faced with a real-life cussing situation, I get the words all wrong, no matter how hard I try. I already blogged about the whole thing, so you've got the picture. I even mess up that acronym form of Internet cussing. You wouldn't believe how many Cool Lesbian chat rooms I've been thrown out of for saying things like OFHJLLRPQGF!!! At first, you can just see all the Cool Lesbians emailing each other real fast behind the scenes, trying to figure out what clever profanity I've come up with. Then I accidentally ask something obvious like, What does OMFG stand for?' and all of a sudden it hits them that I'm clueless and everybody starts ignoring me. Anyway, learning to cuss real fancy and on the spot is a longtime dream of mine.

5. Quick Removal of CD Cellophane

I don't think this needs explanation. CD wrappers are ridiculous.

Starr Ann and I tossed a coin to decide who gets to share one of Mimi's courses. I won!

6. Foreign Affairs 303

A hot Cuban dancer with flashing dark eyes and a cha-cha-cha in his (mine will be a her) caio is really what I mean, but I digress. I need to know in one simple three-paragraph summary in complete-cut-the-political-BS-sentences. WHY are we still fighting?

7. Drawing/Editing Yoga Poses

Okay, I admit it. Starr Ann's vulgarization of those yoga pose drawings made me wish I had her artistic talent. I swear, what that girl can do with a line drawing of a woman doing Downward Dog will bring absolute tears to your eyes.


So, who are Starr Ann and I tagging?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

She's Only In It For The Fun


Guess what? My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) all of a sudden can't cook again!

That's right. This morning, I was all ready for a fancy omelette, prepared with the same expertise as all those dishes Starr Ann served at the party the other night. My vision for the future was that we'd be eating like cowgirl queens from here on out.

Starr Ann sounded kinda evasive. "Hmmm, Margo. I don't really remember exactly how I came up with all that food. The whole day's kinda blurry to me, expecially everything that happened in the kitchen."

I rotated her by the shoulders and escorted her to the stove. "I'll just leave you here alone, so you can create in peace. Oh, and toast with butter would be perfect with my omelette. And some blackberry jelly. And hashbrowns, if you feel like going to the trouble."

So I left Starr Ann to her devices and just hung around the living room, waiting for her to call me to breakfast. Eventually, she did!

Well, the object on my plate was made of eggs, that was undeniable. But calling it an omelette would have been real generous. Usually, you can't drink an omelette, can you? I still had some hope, though. With enough incentive, it does spring eternal, I can vouch for that now. "Um, Starr Ann, you think maybe these eggs have outlived their expiration date?"

She checked the crate. "Nope. They still have 8 good days."

"Dang." Who needed eggs? The hashbrowns were an odd shade of black, but I tried 'em anyway. Error.

Starr Ann studied my face. "Not good, right?"

"Not even edible, Starr Ann. What happened to all the expertise?"

She shrugged, and I'm just about sure the evil thing smiled a little bit. "Don't know."

Well, a couple things went through my mind. One, I'm not here to change Starr Ann, any more than she's here to change me. And two, she's never cooked for me before, so the adjustment wouldn't be huge. So, I inwardly said goodbye to my plans for a live-in gourmet cook, and said, "It must have been a Christmas miracle! A one-time deal of a Christmas miracle!"

Starr Ann did that one self-satisfied, smug little grin and threw her hands in the air. "Yay, a Christmas miracle!"

After our pop tarts, we went outside to take care of the animals. And if the rain lets up later, we think we're going over to Jodie's for lunch.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lane's On The Plane

Somehow, Starr Ann's party plans fell together just right. The house was filling up with women who hit the doorway taking in deep, appreciative whiffs of Starr Ann's cooking and talking fast. What great weather! Have Lane and Amanda shown up yet? Wow, Bates is getting big, no wait, he isn't!

Most of The Posse and all of the Saloon Ladies were there, when Lane and Amanda came walking in looking, well, they were aglow. Heh. People started kissing and hugging them and Amanda was eating it up, but Lane gets a little tight when the affection starts to flow, so she scooped up Bates and told him how handsome he looked in his new "Don't Watch Me Poop" sweater. I got him the bright yellow one with royal blue lettering.

Anyway, this party was already rocking when Lori came swooping in looking cowgirly, yes, but also decidedly piratical. She was leading a contingent from Th'Mound and declared, "This here's Cap'n Dyke's Advanced Plunderin' Party! Prepare to be prepared to be plundered!"

Dang, she was serious. She and the Crew started unloading supplies and Lori personally brought a bottle of Jose Cuervo over to me and asked how I liked it. I said straight, lime no salt. She had two whole shots in me before I knew what was happening. But, heh, it was party time.

Starr Ann was in her glory! Jodie was helping her put out the food, and The Posse just kept complimenting her on just about everything. And Lane really did look happy. She really did.

Right about when everybody got quiet so Sandwriter could read a farewell poem, Lane swung into the dining room, laughing and glancing around, saying, "Where's my Bates Boy?"

FRoG said last time she saw him, he was snapping at one of the pirates.

TripleSecs spoke up and said, "That was me he bit." She was rubbing her ankle a little. "But after that, I saw him walking out the side door, looking all businesslike."

Lane smiled, but kinda rushed to the side door. She was back in a few seconds, looking pretty panicky. "I don't see him!"

Well, right as our all-out search started up, Cap'n Dyke came riding in on Plunder. She stopped next to me, where I was searching some bushes, and said, "Now, Ye didn't think a few Tons o'Ice would be keepin' Me from th'Party, did Ye?"

She studied me kinda hard while I was telling her about Bates being lost. "Me Margo, how much Advance Plunderin' has Me APP accomplished?"

I showed her the tequila bottle Lori had been helping me with, and said, "This much, but that's beside the point! Bates really is lost."

Everything started happening real fast. Starr Ann came running out to tell us Lane had a great idea. She found the card from that animal communicator, Simone, and was on the phone with her right then. We all went inside to get the word.

Bottom line from Simone was that everybody who Bates knows well should fan out, searching and calling his name. Everybody else should get busy printing up flyers and getting them posted all over the place. So, Lori led the poster brigade and Starr Ann, Amanda and I were about to go out calling for Bates, when Lane called us back.

Lane was still on the phone. She said, "Simone has him!" Then she listened a minute, and said, "A man picked Bates up and drove off with him...blue truck...Bates is showing Simone a man's hairy arms as he was being carried...now he's showing her an eagle...no, a hawk on the man's wrist...Simone says maybe a tattoo..."

Starr Ann and I said at the same second, "Randy Sneed!"

We raced for the barn and Starr Ann beat me by a mile, probably because of the tequila. She was already on Oatmeal when Cap'n Dyke intercepted me, saying, "Pop up here, Me Poppet. Ye be seemin' just a Mite Tipsy for ridin' Trickster."

Plunder's one fast steed! We got to Randy's front porch a few hops ahead of Starr Ann. The Cap'n and I reached the door and were about to pound on it, when Starr Ann pushed past us and just opened the thing. Not a lot of locked doors around here. Anyway, there Randy was, standing in his living room smirking.

Starr Ann said, 'Where's the puppy?"

Randy said, "Now I didn't go and wreck your little queer party, did I?"

One second Randy Sneed was grinning his face off and the next he was slamming against the wall with a dagger grazing his throat and a real-life Cap'n Dyke growl happening about four inches from his face.

Cap'n said, "Now ye'll be tellin' Me Mighty Heart Rustler where ye've put th'Puppy."

Real shaky, Randy said, "In that bathroom just the other side of the hall."

Starr Ann threw the door open and came right back out cuddling little Bates, letting him settle against her cleavage the way he loves to do.

Randy said, "I wasn't gonna hurt anything. Just a little joke. You know how I like to joke, right Margo? Right Starr Ann?"

Lane and Amanda came flying through the door and all four of us just wallowed in the relief of being able to touch Bates. Finally, we looked up and saw that Randy was still nailed into place.

I said, "Might as well let him go, Cap'n."

"Not so fast, Me Magnificent." Cap'n Dyke rammed Randy into the wall a little harder and said, "Will One o'ye be checkin' t'See if th'Wee Lad was provided with a bowl o'Water?" She bared her teeth at Randy. "That'll be th'Measure that decides yer Fate, Me Coward." Then she smiled real nice like.

Starr Ann peeked into the bathroom. "Guess you can let him live, Cap'n. There's a big bowl of water and a coupla treats on the floor in there."

I truly think Cap'n was disappointed to hear that. But she turned Randy loose and we all rode home together.

It was the middle of the night by the time everybody got back and the food wasn't exactly in its prime, but none of that mattered much. About four in the morning, Lane got a call. It was from Simone, and they talked for over an hour. After that, Lane's whole demeanor was changed. She was real calm. Seemed real confident. And she started hugging us and telling us she loved us.

Since the night was long gone, and Lane and Amanda had to be on their plane at eight, the whole Posse and all the Saloon Ladies went to the airport to see them off with us.

The very last thing Lane said before leaving was something she whispered to Bates. We couldn't hear what she said, but the puppy who never whines whined the whole time Lane and Amanda were walking away from us toward the plane.



And here's that farewell poem Sandwriter never did get around to reciting:


learning to fly

amanda, lane
i think you're daft
to join the army
sans the draft

in times of peace
it seems ok
with uniforms
and war game play

but war, in countries
far from home
destruction, death
where 'er you roam

but girls must do
what girls must do
and maybe this
is right for you

here at home
we anxious wait
for your return
which will be great

do your duty
soldier well
protect your heart
from war's vile spell

remember love
and gentle days
our love goes with you
for always

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Shitake! It's a Shebang!



Holy Mother of God! (Well, we were raised Catholic, remember)

Starr Ann is cooking. Let me compose myself and begin at the beginning. Deep breath.

Okay, so Starr Ann has decided that tonight, Lane and Amanda's final night with us before leaving tomorrow for Basic Training, we will have a big going away bash. Starr Ann, my best friend Starr Ann, actually went to the grocery on her own and is now in the kitchen preparing a meal by herself. Jodie and I begged her to at least consult with Lori, who is a gourmet cook for Goddess sake, but no. Starr Ann says this meal will be her sendoff gift to Amanda and Lane.

It's just like Starr Ann to come up with this at the last minute. Anyway, she's put me in charge of a million things. I'm supposed to be getting the word out, so anybody in The Posse who sees this, know you're hereby invited to the party, okay? I've sent word over to Riding Cowgirls Ranch, so Lori should be here. And Jodie, of course, knows. We have no idea how to reach Cap'n Dyke, but according to her blog, she's iced in or something. I'm hoping that's a teeny tiny Piratical Untruth though, and have some small reason to believe it might be. Sandwriter, Joyce, Mimi, FRoG, Hill, Becky, and Heather! Ya'll get yer selves over here. And, Sandwriter, bring your pen and paper, okay? We have to see these girls off in style.

Jodie rode over to the saloon to fetch Lou Lou and the ladies.

I'm also in charge of keeping the party a secret from Lane and Amanda. Heh. No problem there. They're making the most of their last day to share a private bedroom.

Starr Ann said I didn't have to do any decorating, other than getting something really snazzy for Bates to wear. I saw a muscle shirt at the feedstore last week with "Stop Watching Me Poop" on it. If they have his size, that's what he'll be wearing. Lane's gonna love it.

Dang! All of a sudden, a delectable aroma, something quite unlike anything I've ever smelled, is pouring in here from the kitchen. What if it turns out Starr Ann can cook?

Anyway, that's all for today, because like I said, Starr Ann has a million things for me to do.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Let's Get Real


Starr Ann's favorite movie is Rocky Horror Picture Show. Yep.

So this morning, Starr Ann was all comfortable in front of my computer, leaning back in my ergonomically engineered Smart Chair, watching her favorite video from Rocky Horror, Sweet Transvestite and, keeping her eyes on the show, she said, "You and I live in an idealized world, Margo."

I was behind her, so she didn't see me roll my eyes. "No joke, Starr Ann. Are you positive?"

"As positive as if I'd just lost an electron."

"I was going for sarcasm, Starr Ann."

"And you just about achieved it, Margo. Anyway, you and I live in an idealized world, and..." Here she paused for one of her favorite moments in the video, the part where Frankenfurter's elevator opens and Janet faints. "...and I think we need to start watching reality TV. We should get ourselves a television for Christmas."

"You're trying to tell me you think reality programming is a good way to get in touch with reality?"

"No."

"Then what are you telling me?"

"That watching reality TV is a good way to get in touch with the illusions the general populace are willing to pretend is reality."

I gave up on the conversation right then, because my favorite part of the video was about to happen - the part where Frankenfurter tosses the Dixie cup full of water into the lens and Starr Ann jumps. She jumps at that part every time.

Anyway, we're getting a TV for Christmas!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Osiris And The Big Dodge & Weave


Starr Ann and I found Jodie in her barn, cleaning up Amelia. Nothing looks dirtier than a paint horse after she's wallowed in mud. Amelia looked like a giant piece of fried chicken as Jodie worked to brush and crumble the thick dried mud that coated just about every inch of her longish winter coat.

Jodie didn't look so good. The drawn face, hollow eyes and tight mouth that greeted us from the other side of Amelia's withers didn't belong to the Jodie we knew.

I said, "Let's cut to the chase, Jodie. What's up with you and Lane?"

She said nothing was up.

I said bullshit.

Jodie shot a look at Starr Ann, then gave in. "Lane has no business going into the service."

I said, "Our sentiments exactly, but it's Lane's life and besides having no power to stop her, I'm not sure, after talking to Lane and Amanda about it, we even would if we could."

Jodie ducked under Amelia's neck to get to her right side. Weird, but I've watched Jodie work on Amelia enough to know she never moves in front of her like that without putting a kiss on Amelia's nose. "Well, then I don't think we have anything to discuss, Margo. Might as well leave it right here."

"Nope, not an option."

Jodie tossed her brush into clean shavings and came barreling out of the stall. "Look! I need to be on a certain plane to keep my sanity and write this book about the war at the same time. Can you understand that?"

"I understand perfectly, but shutting Lane out and pretending you aren't invested in someone who might end up in Iraq isn't a healthy way to stay grounded, Jodie. Really."

Starr Ann put her arms around Jodie, saying, "Margo's right, baby."

"The book really does need to be written, Jodie. And since neither Starr Ann nor I've been to college, or have the credentials to write it, you've got to figure out a way to balance writing and reconciling with Lane before she leaves."

A little bit of Jodie's sense of humor was already flowing back in. "Great, Margo, the education factor was bound to come up sooner or later, wasn't it?"

Starr Ann released Jodie, picked up the discarded brush, and started on Amelia where Jodie'd left off. I bopped Jodie on the head with the rub rag I'd been folding. "Yep, but don't worry. Unless you mention it, nobody'd ever guess you're a professor. You come off as perfectly normal. Really."

I watched Starr Ann cross in front of Amelia's chest and kiss her nose on the way, just like Jodie usually does. Jodie saw it too, and all of a sudden looked like she could just about eat Starr Ann alive.

I said, "You know what? This is one of those places in life that could be a real turning point. A lot of people couldn't get beyond watching Lane go off to the Army during this war without having it turn them into adults."

Starr Ann had Amelia nice and shiny and was in the middle of picking out a front hoof. She paused in mid pick and said, "But we know Neith is watching over us and we're keeping the Osiris myth in mind the whole time, right?"

Jodie cocked her head and said, "I'm familiar enough with Neith, but can't recall Osiris."

Starr Ann said, "It's that one where after death, the only thing that happens is your heart is placed on the pan of a scale. In the other pan, there's a feather. If you escape this life with a heart that's lighter than the feather, you advance to the next world. If not, you come back to this one and try again."

Jodie took my hand and towed me over to a bale of hay. She sat down and pulled me into her lap, where we could sit and watch Starr Ann finish up on Amelia. Tightening her arms around my waist, she said, "Well damn it all, then! You two aren't going to leave me behind. Fuck it. I'm following you into the next world." Jodie squeezed my breast, pushed me from her lap, and popped into the stall to give Amelia two nice kisses on the nose. Then she reached into her pocket for a mint.

As Amelia's strong, flat teeth crushed the candy, her nostils widened and she breathed out forcefully. Jodie took in a huge gulp of the cold, pepperminted air and said, "Just smell that!"

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Exit Strategy


My best friend Starr Ann slipped into bed with me last night, right as I was about to fall asleep. Love when she does that.

We were getting situated, cuddling up, and Starr Ann said, "Got a little problem with Jodie."

So I acted all put off, pushed her away from me, and said, "Yuck. Your girlfriend's holding out and you're crawling in here for a little help? Thanks, but no thanks, Starr Ann. It hasn't been that long since Celia Susan was here."

Starr Ann laughed, but she rolled over on top of me real fast. "You know, Margo, Jodie still thinks you and me have unfinished business."

Dang, but Starr Ann has strong legs. Once she gets a good thigh lock on you, you're pretty much stuck until you can trick her into letting you up. I said, "You're unique, Starr Ann, you know that?"

"Wonderfully singular, unique? Or peculiar, unique?" She actually pushed her pelvis into me on each of the 'uniques.'

"Wonderfully peculiar, unique." I tried one more time to buck her off. "We should have tried the rodeo, dammit. I could've made a fortune putting you up on broncs and bulls."

Starr Ann giggled, but she didn't move off. I said, "Ok, what's up with Jodie?"

"Don't know, exactly, but I think it has something to do with Lane's enlistment."

"Dang, you're serious, aren't you? I thought Jodie'd just been a little scarce lately because of being busy with the book."

Starr Ann's voice was taking on that hushed, Starr Ann whisperiness. "She's really thrown by it, Margo. And she's kinda cut off and distant about everything."

I put my arms up around Starr Ann and pulled her down for a full-body hug. "Thrown, as in?"

"Thrown, as in she's real mad and doesn't want to even see or talk to Lane."

Starr Ann wasn't doing anything with her hips by then, was just lying there being a lump. "Then we'll work on this, baby. First thing in the morning, I'm going over there and having a talk with Ms. Jodie Diamond."

Starr Ann reanimated. "You will? I just don't want Lane to leave for the Army without..." Then Starr Ann started jerking real hard and I thought she was laughing. But it ended up she was crying! And Starr Ann never cries.

By the time we got through, we had it figured out that Jodie was the only one of us who's not in denial. Starr Ann and I finally admitted to each other we're terrified of what could lie ahead for Lane in the Army, and we've decided to go together to Jodie's and talk it out.

Anyway, we were past the crying and the talking, and had made that decision about going to Jodie's and Starr Ann was still nice and firmly in place. Thoughts of mortality transform so effortlessly into the need to feel alive.

Starr Ann raised herself up a little and looked down on me. She smiled that one Starr Ann smile. "Know what, Margo? I bet we end up saving each other until our old age."

"You mean after our breasts fall down and go boom?"

Starr Ann cracked up. "Maybe, but that'll hardly matter." She got up then, went over to the window, and climbed out. Starr Ann has never left my bedroom any other way. Always goes right out the window.

Anyway, Lane leaves for Basic Training on December 12.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lost and Found


Starr Ann and I follow the Whooping Crane migration every year. This year, a lone crane got separated from the flock. All through the week he was lost, we watched our skies, and tried to make it down to the ponds more often, doing our part to look out for him. Then, last weekend, they found him! Anyway, here's an email we got today, from someone who cares about the cranes too. We welcome Ellie to Happy Hands Ranch, and if she ever gets a blog, she's automatically in The Posse. Thanks, Ellie. (Starr Ann said to ask if that's short for Ellie Mae, by any chance?)


Howdy Neighbors!

Haven't had a chance to meet you all, yet. But I'm sure lookin' forward to it.

I've been busy following the progress of Operation Migration.

Even struck out on my own to try and locate #733.

I'm sure you've heard about the devoted people who, by ultra-lights, escort a young flock of Whooping Cranes from Wisconsin to Florida every year. In the past, it has taken anywhere from 48 to 76 days to cover the approximately 1200 miles! Can you imagine?! These people are really dedicated to helping these amazing birds, though. Considering there are only about 500 Whooping Cranes left in the world, these folks really have their work cut out for them!

Looks like I got off my subject. That happens a lot with me. Anyway, I've heard a bunch about Happy Hands and Riding Cowgirls and I cain't wait to meet ya.

Gotta Go, now...I'm hoping to catch up with the flock as they head into Tennessee.

Happy Holidays With All The Flockings,

Ellie


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's All In How You Ask It


My best friend Starr Ann got up this morning wearing that one look you never want to see, unless you're in the mood for a real unusual day.

Soon as breakfast was over, she started getting her survey tools together. And I don't mean levels and tripods and stuff. No, Starr Ann has a stack of clipboards and a box of short, eraserless pencils, the kind they use at those Goofy Golf courses. Anyway, when Starr Ann plays Survey, she dresses in a real plain business suit and takes her survey supplies downtown to ask people a bunch of off-the-wall questions. First, though, she makes me help her write the questionnaire. Actually, that part is kinda fun. Then when she comes home, we eat lunch while Starr Ann fills me in on the current opinions and attitudes of our fellow Kentuckians.

Today's survey results were revealing.

According to Starr Ann's research, when asked their most pressing concern, 63% of respondents chose holiday weight gain, 22% said lack of scientific respect for astrology, and 12% cited the potential threat if Rhode Island develops nuclear weaponry. Issues of low concern, including the war in Iraq, global warming, and religious outrage over Nicole Kidman's new children's film, were dismissed by an overwhelming majority of Kentuckians as "old news," "too complicated," and "harmless," respectively.

A whopping 74% of those polled favored the criminalization of celibacy.

Unredeemed coupons ranked highest with consumers among the economic dangers Americans face, distantly followed by subprime lending practices and a financial market system based largely on greed and fear.

There was an even split over whether people who drive hybrid cars are "selfishly trying to avoid high gasoline prices," or "just trying to make SUV drivers look bad." A statistically insignificant number of participants chose "truly concerned over greenhouse gas emissions."

Right now, Starr Ann is out doing what she usually does after taking our region's civic temperature. That's right, she's spiffing up her underground bunkers. After lunch, she saddled Oatmeal and headed for The Sulaco. Have I mentioned that Starr Ann's shelters have elaborate themes? The Sulaco, an exact replica of the drop ship in Aliens, is my personal favorite. Maybe I should describe all the themes sometime. Tomorrow, I think she intends to make some improvements over at Wonderland.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cowgirl Fashion Sense


My best friend Starr Ann hasn't made up her mind about presidential candidates yet. But she hopes we don't get corralled into a default vote for Hillary. If it comes to that, we'll do it, but we sure hope it doesn't come to that. Anyway, this isn't really about Hillary. Starr Ann is fascinated with those pants. That girl's been cracking (heh) me up with all the nifty uses she can think of for what she's calling The Un-Chaps. Can't really publish any of them, though.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Horses Are Such Beautiful Creatures


My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) and I try real hard to avoid letting the good stuff in life become transparent. You know what I mean? That old trap of not realizing what's important to you until it's gone? Or not fully living until you face your own mortality?

Anyway, it's easy to get all caught up in caring for horses and forget to enjoy their company. We see people doing that all the time. But the only thing Starr Ann and I have to do to realign our priorities is start talking about Broadway Chief.

When we were on the racetrack, Starr Ann always did like galloping horses, but I eventually stopped doing that to be a groom. Although riding was fun, I always did get more out of grooming horses.

So, we had this locally famous horse in the barn - Broadway Chief. He was a nine-year-old gelding when I became his groom. Chief ran near the bottom of the racing card, ran in middling claiming races, and had the worst way of going you ever saw. When Chief came charging down the stretch, his legs made anybody with a trained eye do a double-take. I can only liken Chief's form to a helicopter with a bent blade. He wasn't lame, by any means. Just had a weird way of traveling.

Chief was a big favorite of fans around Churchill Downs and Turfway. Dang, could that boy put on an exciting show! Broadway Chief may not have been a stakes horse, but he didn't know that. When he ran in realistic company, Chief loved to be hanging last as they rounded the final turn. Once he saw the stretch in front of him, he would dig in and lay his heart right down in the dirt to get to that finish line first. People who didn't even fully realize what they were seeing got choked up watching Broadway Chief run.

One time, at Turfway Park, I was walking Chief around after a race, cooling him out. Starr Ann was fluffing up his stall, and keeping his water bucket topped off as he gradually drank his post-race fill. A very elegantly dressed lady had somehow wangled her way into the receiving barn and you could tell she didn't know where she was supposed to stand or how to move around horses. She came right up to Chief and me, on his outside, and said, "Could I please just touch him? I've been to every one of his races for the last five years. He's my hero."

Of course, I let her pet him and even told her she could wait over by his stall until he was cool enough to go in. But she said people were waiting for her and she was happy to have just touched him once. That says it all about that boy's charisma.

I'm not saying he was a saint. Chief was one of the most cantankerous horses I've ever been around. The second you darkened the doorway to his stall, he would swing his butt around and throw a hoof at you. Just catching him in the morning was a challenge. And brushing him was a whole lot like trying to wax a racecar, during a race, in high winds. Perfect gentleman, though, about having his hooves picked out.

I used to keep Chief's forelock a little longer than the usual racing length. Made him look real roguish to fit his personality. On race days, by the time I gave him his lighter ration of oats first thing in the morning, he knew what was up. And as soon as he realized he'd be running that afternoon, his game face was on. He would stand at the front of the stall, fire filling his eyes, psyching up. For hours before hitting the track, Chief methodically prepared himself mentally for the big stretch run. Starr Ann and I were in absolute awe of him.

Before Chief and I came to our understanding, the one where I figured out exactly how he wanted things done and did them that way, he took advantage of a lapse in my concentration one morning and bit my shoulder blade pretty good. It really hurt, and left a big white scar. All of that barely mattered, though. Chief's presence, his personality, his determination, are what endeared him to Starr Ann and me forever. When we had to part ways with him, we knew he was near the end of his racing career and would have given anything to be in a position to adopt him. Best we could salvage was the solemn word of his owner that Chief really did have a carefree retirement ahead of him.

So what has us thinking about all this so much? A member of The Posse, Joyce over at Hapless Tigger, has lost her heart to a nine-year-old gelding who's still racing. Joyce's dream is to claim Proud Patrolman and give him a home someday. We send her all good energy with regard to that dream.

Yesterday, I was changing my shirt after cleaning stalls and Starr Ann happened to come into the room. She ran her hand across my right shoulder blade and said, "Chief's scar really looks pretty today."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Our Finest One


Late yesterday afternoon, Starr Ann rode out for Jodie's place just a few minutes after Lane and Amanda left for their apartment. Yes, they're calling it their apartment.

Thinking I was in for a quiet evening, I started cleaning the stalls early. I know I've said it here before, but swear to the Goddess, mucking stalls is pure meditative bliss. So I'd just reached those smooth mental waters where fantasy glides with no effort, skims along on its own, when I heard horses approaching.

Starr Ann was back, and she brought a surprise with her! Intercepted a lesbian Pirate Queen, she did. That's right! Cap'n Dyke dropped anchor here last night.

"Holy Goddess, My Fine One! How long has it been since we had you all to ourselves?"

"Too long, Me Magnificent." Cap'n finished removing Plunder's bridle and gave Starr Ann a wink. "Th'Mighty Heart Rustler tells Th'Cap'n the two of Ye've a Wee One about An' she's temptin' Th'Fates o'War."

"Yes, I wish Lane were here. I'd try to sweet talk you into taking her hostage on Th'Mound until our good old country wakes up and stops pillaging"

Cap'n shook her head as she flipped some stray strands of Plunder's matte black mane over to the right side. "Aye, Me Meltable, that could be quite tiresome Th'Wait."

Starr Ann was so enthused to have the Cap'n here, you could tell she didn't want to spend time talking about what we all agreed on anyway. She threw her best Starr Ann bear hug on the Cap'n. They sure did look cute. There's something about a Pirate Queen getting all blushy that just makes you grin. Then I think the plunder came out of the pirate, because Starr Ann jumped kinda quick and did her high-pitched, surprised-but-delighted sound. Love when that happens.

So I ended up getting lots of help with the stalls. And as we left the barn, walking up toward the house, Cap'n froze in her boot tracks. She stood there, mesmerized by Starr Ann's candle that glowed in the windowsill.

"You okay, My Finest?"

"Aye, Me Margo. What a lovely Flickerglow on th'windowsill. Makes Th' Cap'n wish that someone did th'self-same for Her Self. What a wonderous feelin' t'know someone was wishin' one t'see th'flickerglow waitin' an' a Fine Woman along with th'Same."

"How about two women? Starr Ann and I send beautiful candlelight your way always, you know."

Cap'n smacked her thigh. "Well Held, Me Danger Girl."

Before long, we were warm and full of good supper. Starr Ann brought out a fresh taper and held it to the candle burning in our windowsill. When the taper took flame, she shielded it with her hand and carried it to the Cap'n.

Starr Ann said, "Yours, Cap'n, so you remember us out there on your high seas."

My first thought was that it's probably pretty dangerous to burn candles on a pirate ship. Yeah, I know. I've been accused of ruining good moments before. Anyway, it must not be altogether against ship safety rules, because Th'Cap'n is indeed burning her candle in a windowsill on Th'Mound. It looks magical out there in the deep sea darkness.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hail Mary

Starr Ann feels sorry for Jesus. She really does.

When we very little, Starr Ann used to pray. That habit wasn't anything to worry about, wasn't anything that a couple years of Catholic education couldn't fix.

I was always partial to Mary. Something about the way they always called her the 'Virgin' kept her sexuality front and center in my mind, and since I can't remember a time before being interested in sex, I kinda developed a crush on Mary. And I loved that part in the Hail Mary where you get to say "the fruit of thy womb." Dang, that still kinda causes a twang.

Starr Ann liked Mary, too, but the strongest emotion she recalls from the days when we were frog-marched to church every morning and twice on Fridays because that's when we had to go to Confession in the afternoon, is embarrassment. Embarrassment for Jesus.

In both our books, there's nothing harder to withstand than embarrassment for someone else. That's just an awful feeling. Anyway, guess when Starr Ann felt the most mortified for poor Jesus? Christmas time. Yep.

Starr Ann has this internal filter that lets the good, the noble, the uplifting parts of a person or concept through with much more vibrance than other parts. So, when it came to Jesus, what she saw most was his kindness and keen intellect. All the perverted twists people put on the things he said just didn't register with Starr Ann. To her, he was just one of the nicest men you could imagine.

She has always been offended by the gaudiness of Christmas. Even before she was old enough to understand about consumerism run amock, corporate avarice, and families pretending to like being together when they would rather stay home, Starr Ann wanted more dignity for Jesus on his birthday. Okay, so another thing is that she hates the colors red and green together. But she also chafed at all the "fall on your knees" stuff.

Anyway, it didn't take us long to get a handle on religion. By the time I was ten, I'd already turned Confession into a real fun game, and I was teaching Starr Ann how to make up stuff that would have the priest looking at us all worried.

If I didn't already know I loved Starr Ann, I sure would have realized it the Friday night she told me about her most illustrious Confession ever. Father Darbin was on duty. Poor guy. Starr Ann went in like normal and started off with the usual, "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned." She told him that some of the other kids (they can't make you name names in the confessional) had shown her their secret peephole into the sacristy. And that she had looked through it. Father tried real hard to get more details from her, but she acted all confused and ashamed. Of course, back then we had no idea of the nerve this might hit. All little Starr Ann was thinking was that priests wouldn't want to be seen without their collars!

Two weeks later, when the workmen arrived and started ripping the sacristy walls apart, we knew there was more to that story than we thought. Anyway, we chalked it up as a major, if ambigous, victory for Starr Ann.

So yesterday, when Starr Ann came home from town, she got out her Christmas candle. Every winter, right after she sees the first garish decorations, she puts a plain white candle in her windowsill, and lights it as soon as darkness falls. Starr Ann really hates red and green together.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Queen Of The Cowgirls


My best friend Starr Ann gets a little too focused sometimes. Yesterday was Talk Lane Out of Going in The Army Day, and Starr Ann celebrated it like there was no tomorrow.

By the time Lane, Amanda, Starr Ann and I were building a fire in the fireplace after supper, I thought the subject had finally been exhausted. You'd think I'd know Starr Ann better by now, wouldn't you?

Real casual, but totally out of the blue, Starr Ann smiled at Lane and Amanda sitting there holding hands and said, "You two make such a nice couple."

Dang, Starr Ann sounded like somebody's grandmother. Never a good sign. Ever.

She put another log in and lit some rolled up paper. "Yep, real nice." My stomach clenched. Starr Ann stood up, dusted off her pants, and sauntered over to the couch. Sat right beside Lane. "All you'd have to do is walk into your recruiter's office, holding hands just like you are now." She chuckled for effect. "Maybe enjoy a nice kiss when everybody's looking." Starr Ann smacked her leg real loud. "And wham! Out of the Army." Her words got all rushed up and high-pitched. "You could get jobs. We'd help you. You could go to school. We'd help you. You could stay here, no rent, for as long as you wanted. You know we'd give you all the privacy you wanted. Please?"

Lane carefully released Amanda's hand and turned toward Starr Ann. She let out a war whoop and pounced, using the advantage of surprise to get a good tickle in before Starr Ann rolled forcefully to the right, which threw them both onto the floor. Poor Bates scooted underneath the loveseat. Lane's leg caught the edge of an endtable and knocked it crooked. From the looks of things, this was going to be one hell of a wrestling match.

I said, "Amanda, let's get to safer ground! The kitchen. Bring that glass of tea on your way out."

I grabbed our Dale Evans commemorative plate just seconds before Lane pushed Starr Ann into the table it was sitting on. Dang, Starr Ann would be mad afterwards if I'd have let them break that plate.

We closed the kitchen door behind us, and Amanda said, "What about Bates Boy?"

I took a quick glance that way, heard a crash, and told her, "He's smart enough to stay out of the way. I hope."

I took that opportunity to have a little heart to heart with Amanda. Goddess, now I sound like the grandma. Anyway, I said, "One thing I've been wondering about, Amanda, and Lane always skirts a direct answer to this, is exactly why you two signed up for the Army in the first place."

Amanda took her measure of me, and must have decided I was okay, because she got real serious. "Margo, do you and Starr Ann believe American lives are any more important than Iraqi lives?"

I said no.

"Well, then, since we are never going to leave Iraq." Amanda jutted forward a little and really gave me a piercing look. "You realize we aren't going to leave, right?"

I said, "It would take a miracle at this point. And I'm not saying I don't believe in miracles, just saying that's exactly what would have to happen."

"Okay, then given we aren't leaving, it seems to me that making sure our presence there consists of as many people as possible who value the lives of Iraqis is the best way to make a difference. A real difference."

I hadn't thought of it that way. "Is this how Lane feels, too?"

Amanda nodded her head. "That's how we got started talking in the first place. I couldn't believe anybody else looked at it that way."

"But they're going to train you to kill the so-called enemy."

"They can train all they want. I'm not prone to brainwashing. Just ask my folks."

I had to laugh. "Well, I've had my doubts about how they were ever going to make Lane conform. We just worry, Amanda, about both of you."

"I know. I do, too. But Lane and I have talked and talked about it. We have to do this."

"I wish Lane would have opened up to Starr Ann and me about this."

Amanda actually blushed. "Lane does her most confidential talking once her brain has been removed from the equation."

Something thudded in the living room.

Now I was cracking up. "Tell you what, next time you remove her brain from the equation, don't let her lie there and enjoy it. Bring her directly to us before she gets out of the mood to talk."

"Damn, Margo, doesn't anything embarrass you?"

The ruckus in the living room died down completely, so we went to investigate. Starr Ann had Lane pinned fair and square. Laughing and breathing real hard, she said, "What should we do with her? Slow death by tickling, or just let Bates lick her in the face until he gets tired?" Starr Ann looked down at Lane. "Which he never will, and you'll be AWOL from the get-go and they'll kick you out before you ever get in."

I said, "Starr Ann, you all broke the Dale Evans plate, you know. I took it to the kitchen and glued it, but..."

Starr Ann went all floppy and helped Lane to her feet. She said, "Dang. I loved that plate."

I waved Lane and Amanda to the front door. As they escaped, I got where the couch was between Starr Ann and me, then started sweet talking. "Now, Starr Ann, honey. Good news! The plate's fine. And I finally got the lowdown on why Lane joined the Army. If you don't kill me, I think you'll find it real innerestin."

Starr Ann turned all mellow and motioned toward the kitchen. "I could use something to drink. Why don't we get some wine and you tell me about it."

I led the way and right as we reached the doorway, I felt Starr Ann put a neck lock on me. Dang. Bates has some bad puppy breath. Especially when he gets to lick you in the face until he gets tired, which he never does.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cowgirl Up!


The Posse has a new rider!

My best friend Starr Ann and I are real proud to welcome Heather, from The Wishful Writer, to our little band of women who are hot on the trail. Heather's hot, and she's definitely on the trail of something. The woman is hilarious and a fine writer. She tackles big issues and small over there at The Wishful Writer. Today's post concerns paternal flatulence. We'll leave it to you to decide whether that qualifies as a big or a small issue. Anyway, after you check out her blog, saddle back up and ride for all you're worth over to Bloginterviewer to vote on our brand new Posse Girl. Let's vote for her every day, so the straight people don't win again. Heh.

Too bad Heather missed yesterday's festivities! We had a blast, and are all a bit low-key today after all the ropin' and ridin' yesterday. One of us, though, had the strength to actually write a poem about the big chase. Sandwriter has graced Happy Hands Ranch with a poem to help us remember what a rowdy time we had.

the posse all were gathered
once more to play the game
one team to run and one to chase
our margo did proclaim

no quarter asked, no quarter given
the way we always play
a cowgirl loves to ride and win
yihaaa! i've said my say...


-Sandwriter, November 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Good Posse Always Gets Her Woman


My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) was sitting at the foot of my bed staring at me when I woke up this morning. That's always a sure sign it's going to be an innerestin day.

"Margo, we've come perilously close to acting like grownups lately. Don't try to deny it."

I sat up. "Not denying that. I've noticed it too. What do you have in mind?"

Starr Ann rocked her chair to the least safe chair position - resting on the rear legs only. Dang, she was out for danger and it showed! She hooked her thumbs in her belt loops and got real thoughtful. "Only way to lick a situation like this," she said, with a desperate, devil-may-care look in her eye, "is to assemble The Posse."

"Hot dang! Starr Ann, you just gush good ideas, sometime, you know that?"

As it turned out, the entire Happy Hands Ranch Posse, excepting two, were available.

Becky C, who frankly lives to shop, was out, well, shopping. Starr Ann and I had forgotten about the Friday after Thanksgiving being the biggest shopping day of the year. When we reached Becky, she was in the middle of picking out which pair of short shorts she wanted to wear as she shopped the day away.

The other member who couldn't make it was Mimi. Blog Blast for Peace was so incredibly successful, Mimi is still surfing the Blogosphere, finding Peace Blogs to leave her lovely, encouraging comments on.

Anyway, there we were, all saddled up, horses dancing, kinda circling around and high. It was Starr Ann, Sandwriter, Lori, FRoG, Hill Country Gal, Hapless Tigger, and me. We were feeling pretty good about what the afternoon had in store, when the final member, Cap'n Dyke, came flying up out of nowhere on her horse, Plunder.

Starr Ann nodded to the Cap'n and said, "This is all of us, then. Let's break up on even sides."

Hill spoke up first. "OMFG!!!"

I'll just tell you right away that Hill actually says the letters. She really does.

So, Hill continues, "I hope you lezzies don't get all involved with the minutiae of dividing up again. Last fucking time, it was getting dark when we finally got to the chase." But we know Hill well enough to realize she wasn't really mad. Especially when she laughed real hearty and said, "ROTFLMAO!!! As the only straight posse members, FRoG and I should be on separate sides. And let's try to keep that one thing from happening. Starr Ann, you know who the hell I'm talking to."

Starr Ann couldn't deny it, so she just kept things moving along. "Okay, FRoG and Hill on opposite teams. Now, Lori, between the two of them, who are you riding with?

Lori looked at first Hill, then FRoG. "FRoG certainly has all the qualities-"

Hill broke in with, "Cut the shit, Hahn. You with me, or you with FRoG."

Lori said, "FRoG."

FRoG smiled real sweet, but also eyed up the rest of The Posse. We all knew from experience that FRoG, despite having her head in the clouds much of the time, can be real competitive. Vicious, almost. And she likes to ride with the best of the best. Very ambitious. Plus, she moved to the Southwest recently, which just about made the rest of us cowgirls expire with envy.

Right then, Sandwriter whipped out her poetic license and took over. She said, "Lest we lose more daylight, trying hard to be fair, let me divide us up right, and we'll ride without care." Keen-eyed and savvy, Sandwriter surveyed our group. "Hapless Tigger with FRoG, and Margo, you too. Hill, the Cap'n and I are with you."

Everybody bunched their horses in the clusters Sandwriter had assigned. Except for Hapless Tigger. She was on her cell phone again.

I said, "Hey, Triple Secs, can't you just get your bets down all at once so we don't have to stop every five minutes this time?"

Into her phone, Tigger said, "Hold just a minute, please." She muffled the phone to her chest and looked at me. "Margo, I just this minute decided on my trifecta. What do you want me to do? Simply pass it up?"

You can't argue with Triple Secs when it comes to betting horses, so I just shut my mouth. Finally, she turned her phone off and got her horse in position.

While the two groups faced off, Plunder, a stallion black as deep space with stars in his eyes and quite hard to handle, danced beneath Cap'n Dyke as he registered her anticipation. The Pirate Queen smirked in my direction and steadied her horse, saying, "Ease up, Plunder! Th'chase be afoot soon enough."

The coin was tossed and FRoG's team won. We chose to be the Outlaws. That meant Hill's group would be the Law. As always, the Outlaws were granted a ten minute lead. We spurred our horses and raced off toward the cliffs to the north of Happy Hands Ranch. Once beyond those, we could choose a change of direction without the Law seeing which way we went.

Us Outlaws gave those peacekeepers a run for their money, all right. I was the last Outlaw still on the loose, and it was just about dark before they captured me. Actually, it was getting so cold out, I almost didn't mind when I rounded that boulder and ran Trickster right up on Starr Ann and Cap'n Dyke, the both of them sitting there on Oatmeal and Plunder, looking like two cats about to divide up one little mouse. I put my hands in the air, and the game was over. Personally, I think it was uncalled for that they tied me across my saddle and took me in that way, telling everybody how I tried to make a run for it and they had to kill me. But I went along with what they told me to do, because Posse Day rules say when you get captured, you forfeit all choice in how they take you in.

We sat around the fire until late in the night, tired as all get out and real hungry from being outside most of the day. Lori brought over enough food to fill up three posses and we feasted until the wee hours, listening to blog stories and just enjoying the good company.

When everybody left, Starr Ann said, "No danger of turning into a grownup when you ride with women like that."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Blessings



As we sat down to our tempting Thanksgiving meal, Lane spoke up. "Don't anybody get started yet." She reached over and took Amanda's hand. "I want to say a kinda prayer, I guess."

Lane has a spiritual side? Who knew.

Because we didn't know what else to do, exactly, the rest of us joined hands too.

Lane said, "Just want to say thanks to the Goddess, for helping me find my way to this table, where every one of us sits by choice. Not bound by law, or blood, or obligation. Bound by affection, love, and honest to Goddess attraction." Then she beamed her big beautiful smile at each one of us.

Amanda said, "Amen."

Starr Ann said, "Amen."

Jodie said, "Amen."

Celia Susan said, "Amen."

I said, "Amen."


Happy Thanksgiving to anyone who happens to find their way here to the Happy Hands Ranch today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday Cheer


Lane got up at four in the morning and already had the horses fed and the barn cleaned by the time Starr Ann and I were awake. Naturally, we figured something was up. It was. Lane had another announcement for us.

After breakfast, she started clearing the table, and said, real smooth, "I'm going to spend the night over at Amanda's."

Starr Ann said, "Your buddy Amanda, who rides the paint mare?"

"No, a different Amanda."

I said, "Not the one you said you'd like to kick her butt because of the stupid guys she dates?"

"Hell no! I met this one at the recruiter's the other day. We're going to try to leave for Basic the same day."

Starr Ann held onto her plate so Lane couldn't scoop it up. "Hang on, will you? I'm not finished." Starr Ann jellied another piece of toast. "How many Amandas do you know, anyway?"

Lane shrugged. "A few. Roughly one in three girls born around the time I was are named Amanda."

Starr Ann said she believed that, then asked, "So, spending the night, eh? Thought you didn't like sleeping in houses with parental types around."

Lane's eyes got a real tantalized look in them. "Who said anything about parents? Amanda's twenty. Has her own place."

Starr Ann stopped eating and looked over at me so we could exchange an exaggerated look of clear understanding. Lane took her cue. She wiggled her eyebrows and shook her butt. Nuff said. Lane has herself a girlfriend.

After Lane left for Amanda's, Starr Ann said, "Remember when we were seventeen, Margo? You were crawlin' around after Janie Thomas and I was totally gone over Desiree."

"Actually, you were crawlin' around after Desiree, and I was totally gone over Janie Thomas."

"Heh."

I said, "Goddess, remember how Sister Mary Toadius was always trying to sniff out whether anybody was having any fun? How about that time she caught you and Christine Adams in the laundry room?"

"Yeah, and Sister Mary Blissie Marie came to our rescue by making up that story about how she had told us to get down on our knees and scrub the floor."

I could see the idea cut its way through Starr Ann's mind. She put down the dish towel and said, "Think I'll mosey over to Jodie's."

So there I was, sitting on the porch, watching the rain and wishing for someone to share some carnal celebration of my own with, when I saw a horse approaching from the South. As it drew closer, I could make out Sugar's white blaze against her deep chestnut coat. Dang. Seems I had conjured Celia Susan out of thin air.

Celia Susan brought Sugar right up to the porch rail, and without dismounting, she asked, "Got an extra place at the table for Thanksgiving dinner?"

"Always, Celia." I think I actually had tears in my eyes.

Astonished, she said, "Why, Margo, that's the first time you've ever called me Celia instead of Celia Susan, you know that?"

Celia Susan had peeled back the hood of her rain jacket and her hair was real messed up, like in the morning sometime. I just nodded, and I guess my mood all of a sudden got through to her. She said, kinda snappy, "I'm gonna get Sugar put up snug. Why don't you fix me a hot bath, and after, you and I'll see what all we can give each other to feel thankful about tomorrow?"

When I went back outside to meet Celia Susan on her way in from the barn, the rain had stopped and the air was full of rainbows. Nature sure was putting on a beautiful show out there, but Celia and I went inside anyway.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Indestructible Youth


Lane won't be leaving for the Army in a week, like we first thought. It'll be a month. Lane's particularly excited about the bonus the Army's giving her to report for Basic Training within 30 days. Looks like she'll be getting herself $20,000 dollars for agreeing to go that fast. The Army calls it a quick-ship bonus. Sounds like cargo, doesn't it? Anyway, there's ink on a piece of paper that means we have no power to reverse this. It's a done deal. She is going.

We fixed veggie chili for supper, but Lane was dead asleep on the couch by the time it was ready to eat. Starr Ann and I didn't want to wake her. Poor kid was exhausted from all the excitement. We were, too, but somehow had managed to stay on our feet. We filled our bowls and drifted into the living room, where we sat silently eating and watching Lane's mellow face as she slept.

Starr Ann whispered, "It's like she's fallen onto this huge assembly line that'll carry her right into the jaws of a vicious steel monster."

I nodded and put my bowl down. "I don't think I've ever felt so helpless in my life."

"Me either."

Right then, Lane's eyes popped open and she started laughing like crazy. She sat up, still laughing, and bumped her head against the wall behind her. Didn't faze her a bit. "Holy crap, you guys! You'd think I was dead or something." She adjusted the couch pillow to make Bates more comfortable and stood up. "Chili looks good. I'm about to starve." She bounced into the kitchen.

Starr Ann looked at me and shrugged. "She has no idea what we're going through, does she? No idea what she's gotten herself into."

All I could do was shake my head.

Lane plopped down in the recliner and wolfed chili while planning out her evening. She said, "Mind if I go meet Sandy and Jen in town?"

Funny how just two days ago, we had been all worried about Lane being late getting home from a night out with her friends. That seemed more than tame now.

Starr Ann said, "Sure. What time do you expect to be home?"

Lane went into hysterics again. "Ohmigod! You guys are frickin' freaking out over this Army stuff, aren't you? What happened to the old, 'You need to be back by nine' routine?"

I'll be danged if she didn't actually go back to the kitchen for her third bowl of chili. After downing that one, she stretched real big, and said, "Look, this is a good thing, okay? Don't you understand? I've finally done something that's going to get me somewhere in life. And you all are the ones that gave me the confidence to do it." The awkward, unsure Lane almost surfaced for a second, but the new, happier Lane managed to stay in charge. "I love you, okay? There! Satisfied?" And she did the most amazing thing. She kissed each of us before flying upstairs to get dressed.

I was just about drained, emotionally, and felt sure Starr Ann was too. I said, "Like you always say, Starr Ann, we gotta deal with what is."

Starr Ann couldn't argue with that.

Before Lane left, she handed us a slip of paper. "Here's a number you can get me at tonight, if you get worried about me or something, okay?"

I hugged her and said, "You really have grown up in the span of a single weekend, haven't you? Thanks for thinking of this."

There went that laughter again, and Lane bopped out the door, happy as could be, promising, "Be back by nine, don't worry."

When it got to be ten thirty, and Lane still wasn't home, Starr Ann turned my cell phone on and said, "What's that number, Margo?"

"555-8383."

Starr Ann punched it in, listened for a bit, and hung up. She tossed me the phone, laughing hard and saying, "That girl's a mess."

I did check it out, and Starr Ann's right. I said, "Looks like the US Army might be in for some trouble."

Starr Ann's smile vanished. "Yeah, and we're the two geniuses who gave her the confidence to join."