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


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."


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?"


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."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Without Rhyme, Without Reason

My best friend Starr Ann and I noticed a change in Lane after Saturday's afternoon at the Fall Fair. She seemed even more broody than usual.

Like I said, it was the first time the girls' home allowed Lane to spend the whole weekend with us, and we truly wanted to make it memorable - for each of us. All I've got to say is there's no chance we will ever forget it.

On Saturday night, Lane wanted to meet a group of her friends in town. Starr Ann and I said that would be fine and even let her take Carmel, our horse that has kind of become Lane's by virtue of the fact that she always rides her. Anyway, we told Lane to be back home no later than nine.

By the time midnight struck and there was still no sign of Lane, Starr Ann and I were terrified. We'd gone into town looking for her at nine-thirty, but nobody had seen her or her friends. At half past midnight, the barn lights went on and we could see Lane down there tending to Carmel, putting her up for the night.

Both of us just about cried the second we realized she was safe.

Starr Ann said, "When she walks through that door, we don't freak out, we just tell her real calm, but stern, that tomorrow's trip to the Horse Park is off. That's a big enough punishment, don't you think?"

I laughed out loud. "Starr Ann, first of all you couldn't muster stern if your life depended on it. And second, if you take that trip away from her she'll go ballistic."

Starr Ann was dead serious about all this. "Margo, do you remember when we were running around with Carla and Jamie? Do you remember how they'd be all worried about how much trouble they were going to be in when they got home late?"

"Sure I do."

"Well, I know we always pretended that we were the lucky ones, not having anybody to answer to. But, tell the truth, what would you have given to have somebody who cared enough to be really mad and worried when we got home?"

I studied the tops of my shoes for a few seconds. "Anything, I guess."

Starr Ann didn't say another word, just trained her eyes on the front door, waiting for Lane to come in. When she did, it took us about a millisecond to realize she was totally wasted. Somehow, Starr Ann really did manage to be stern. And when she told Lane about the trip being cancelled, that got the exact response we'd expected.

Lane went right up close to Starr Ann, kinda confrontational, and said, "If you think I need you or anybody else telling me what to do, you're crazy."

Starr Ann just said, "We love you, Lane."

Everything froze up for a minute, then Bates, who had been content lying in my arms, started turtle-paddling the air in Lane's direction. I said, "Take him to bed with you, Lane, he wants you."

When Lane took Bates and turned to go upstairs, I could tell she was about to start crying. Guess that was why she didn't argue anymore.

So, Sunday was pretty subdued around here. Jodie came over, and nobody addressed what had happened the night before, or the fact that we weren't at the Horse Park, where we'd been planning to go for the last two weeks. Early in the evening, Lane's case worker, Jennifer, came to pick her up.

Then this morning around ten, here comes Jennifer again. We could tell she had something major on her mind and invited her into the kitchen to talk. There's no way to say this but to say it. Jennifer broke the news that Lane went to the U.S. Army Recruitment Center and enlisted this morning.

Starr Ann went all stony at first, and then her hands started to shake. I felt like somebody had been stomping on my stomach.

Starr Ann said, "Surely she's underage. Surely we can get her out of this."

Jennifer shook her head. "Unfortunately, her parents refuse to override Lane's decision."

Starr Ann jumped up from the table and almost yelled, "Her parents? Her parents? Since when the fuck do they have any say-so? Are they even still her guardians? Can't the girls' home do anything?"

"Starr Ann, Margo, I've exhausted every option in trying to reverse this. Seems it's going forward. The only thing that could keep her out at this point is scoring too low on the entrance exam, but she's way too bright for that." Jennifer put her fingertips to her forehead briefly. "It has been one hell of a morning. What I can do, though, now that Lane is officially Army property, and since she doesn't leave for at least a week, I can allow her to stay here with you two."

I said, "Yes! Please, tell her we want her. Tell her."

When Jennifer left, Starr Ann and I were pretty much dazed, standing on the front porch. Starr Ann said, "Four whole years."

I knew we were both thinking of Iraq and Afghanistan and the fact that we're never going to leave those places, much less end our wars within the next four years. I said, "Is it even humanly possible to survive, holding our breath for that long?"

Starr Ann said, "About a hundred and fifty thousand families are already doing it, Margo. And that's just the American families."

Bates was whining and pawing at Starr Ann's boots. She picked him up and cuddled him. "Hey, Bates Boy, Lane's coming to stay for a whole week. Isn't that great?"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

We Took Bates To A Psychic!

Our puppy, Bates, is getting cuter. Really. Well, anything would be an improvement on when we first found him, but still, we believe he's approaching adorable. Only thing is, his body doesn't seem to be keeping pace with his head growth. Maybe it's just our imaginations.

Remember when my best friend Starr Ann and I found him? It didn't take long for us to forget all about his appearance, and his judgmental attitude, and his urinary habits, and to fall completely in love with little Norman Bates. The only other people in the world who see Bates for his true self are Jodie, of course, and Lane. Lane is the teenager Starr Ann and I met while chaperoning that trail ride for delinquent girls. Yep, Lane's the extra-belligerent, extra-sharp-witted one we had pegged as a baby dyke. And she fell in love with Bates right away.

The girls' home they placed her in allows a day or a weekend away in exchange for good behavior, and Lane comes over to our house on every free day she earns. Her social worker says Lane never showed much cooperation before meeting Starr Ann and me. Well, it's really Starr Ann who hit it off with Lane first, so I give her all the credit. Don't get me wrong, though, over the weeks since meeting her, I've grown to love Lane as much as Starr Ann does. And what a cool case worker she has in Jennifer! Jennifer Dobbs actually recognizes Lane's lesbianism and encourages her to look at us as role models. For Starr Ann and me, that's wonderful and scary at the same time.

Anyway, Lane came over yesterday on a two-day leave. She was lying on the floor in a patch of sunlight, flipping through the newpaper, with Bates right beside her. All of a sudden, she sat upright and said, "There's a Fall Festival in town, and there's going to be a pet psychic there." Lane scooped Bates up and kissed his knobby little head. "Could we take him there and find out what's going on in his brain?"

Contrary to what Lane's youthful preconceptions had set up, pet psychics do not use crystal balls. Matter of fact, the whole operation is pretty free of hocus pocus. We watched as Simone (that was the animal communicator's name) smiled affectionately at each animal she was about to read, and then began answering the owners' questions.

When it was our turn, Simone took little Bates into her arms and a look of alarm crossed her features. That passed fairly quickly and Simone turned to us. "What's its, I mean, what's his name?"

Lane proudly said, "Norman Bates. Bates for short."

Simone took a deep breath and looked right into Bates' eyes. "Do you have a specific question for him?"

Lane hesitated, so Starr Ann supplied, "Maybe just his general outlook. What he thinks of us. You know, is there any way we could make him happier. He's awful happy already, we think."

Simone explained that animals communicate chiefly through pictures. She said, "He's showing me a picture of a woman, you I think," she pointed to me, "sitting in front of a computer."

"That would be me, I'm Margo."

"Well, Margo, he's showing me a vision of peeing on your keyboard. I'm getting the sense he's jealous of the time you spend writing, and would appreciate more playtime with you."

Simone got quiet for a few seconds, then frowned in concentration. "Showing me something, can't quite, it might be two ripe, no wait, it's a plush, no," and Simone broke off. Finally, she opened her eyes back up, glanced at Starr Ann's breasts, and said, "He's showing me cleavage." She nodded at Starr Ann. "Yours."

"Makes sense, he used to sleep between my breasts when he was tiny."

Simone was still a tiny bit transfixed on the front of Starr Ann's shirt. "Well he'd still like to sleep there."

Starr Ann patted Bates' shoulder. "Tough luck, buddy. Make yourself another wish."

When Simone tuned back in to Bates' thoughts, she got to smiling so big, you'd have thought she was still reading one of the more normal pets. To Lane, she said, "He's showing me a picture of the two of you, lying in sweet green grass, your eyes full of blue sky." Simone laughed out loud and continued, "This is purely a dog thing, but he's very clear about the fact that you both have full bellies." Then Simone did something she hadn't done with Starr Ann and me. She just about stared a hole through Lane, almost like it was Lane she was reading. Simone had to snap a little to get her attention back to Bates. She said, "This creature loves you with his entire heart and soul, young lady."

Lane suddenly seemed to be caught between whether to run or cry or pass out. Her eyes filled up with tears, and she said to Simone, real cold, "Tell him that's not a smart move."

Simone was obviously shaken by something too. I was beginning to feel like Starr Ann and I were eavesdropping on a private conversation, and I guess we were, but there was no way to walk away discreetly at that point. Simone said, "It's already done. He already needs you." And she held Bates out for Lane to take.

There were a few tense moments, as Lane didn't reach for the puppy right away. Then, abruptly, the mood shifted, and Lane had Bates in her arms as usual. Just that quick, all the drama evaporated and we were once again three people and a puppy out on a lark, enjoying the Fall Fair.

Later on in the day, we passed by Simone's booth during a slow period and she called us over. She said to all of us, but somehow particularly to Lane, "I read people, too. Would be happy to do you for free."

Lane backed up three steps, scared to death. "Not me. Thanks, though."

Simone raised her eyebrows at Starr Ann and me. We said, sure, a reading sounded fun.

Guess what? I was a pirate captain in a former life! That's right. Cap'n Margo Moon, to be exact.

And cool as that is, guess what? Starr Ann descends directly from Maat, the Egyptian goddess.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Riding Cowgirls Ranch

Jodie and I took the most bracing ride yesterday. The air was crisp enough to put the horses on their toes, and all the way over to Lori Hahn's place, Riding Cowgirls Ranch, Trickster made me pay real good attention. She kept sidestepping and wanting to break into canter. Amelia, Jodie's mare, was full of herself too.

Finally, when the woods opened up onto that big field that runs alongside the creek, Jodie said, "We might as well let them get it out of their systems, Margo."

I agreed, so we turned them loose and had one of the wildest rides ever. By the time we trotted up to Lori's house, we were giddy as all get out on endorphins and adrenaline. Lori heard the hoofbeats and popped out her front door looking all expectant.

Gotta tell you, if there was ever a woman who looked good after getting all cowgirled up, it's Lori. Dang!

Lori said, "Damn! Just what I always wanted - two flushed and panting women on sweaty horses."

Jodie cracked up. "Not very original, Lori. Isn't that every girl's dream?"

"Well, to tell the truth, in my ultimate dream Sela Ward is one of the women. Or both." Lori ran her eyes up and down Jodie and me. Kinda got me squirming, I don't know about Jodie. Then Lori added, "Of course, ya'll do quite nicely."

Dang, those California women have a way about them.

On our way to Lori's kitchen we passed an autographed photo of Sela Ward on a tall marble-top table in the foyer.

I said, "Hey, you weren't kidding about her, were you?"

Lori's eyes lit up. "Not one bit. Matter of fact, she called yesterday to arrange a visit next week. Wants to see my new place."

"You're kidding."

Lori put her hand on her heart. Well, on the ample assets resting just over her heart. "Swear. Last summer, by the grace of the goddess, I ended up trapped in an elevator with Sela, and...well, we have kept in touch ever since." She drifted off for a few seconds and when she refocused on us, she asked, "Where's the Mighty Heart Rustler? Where's Starr Ann?"

No use in going into all the menstrual motivation behind Starr Ann being in one of her bunkers, so we just said she had gone underground for a couple days.

Lori really snapped out of her Sela stupor then. "Would you two like to see my bunker?"

I'm kinda used to the concept by now, but Jodie's eyes just about leaped across the room. "You have an underground shelter, too?"

Lori finished swallowing a bite of one of the delicious scones she'd served us. "Of course."

Jodie slowly swung her head back and forth. "Just three months ago, before moving here, I'd have scoffed at the idea such things even existed. Now, I am personally acquainted with three lesbians who have them - you, Starr Ann, and Celia Susan. Bizarre."

Lori gathered up our plates as she said, "Not really strange, when you think about it a certain way."

Jodie laughed. "And what certain way is that?"

"Tell you a little story. On my thirtieth birthday, a friend of mine, Uncle Doreen, jokingly said, 'Lori, you emerged from the womb thirty years ago, and you've done your best to get back into one ever since.'" Lori smiled fondly and continued, "Doreen was being funny, but it's not all that far from the truth, is it? And if you think about it, the Earth is the ultimate female. So, burrowing into Her is as natural as can be."

All of a sudden, I remembered one of Starr Ann's favorite literary passages. I said, "Goddess, you're serious aren't you? Lori, are you familiar with Willa Cather's novel My Ántonia?"

Lori wrapped her arms around me and hugged me a little bit too hard, saying, "Damn, girl! Bingo!"

Jodie said, "What just happened? I don't get it."

So I explained. "Starr Ann adores this one particular passage in My Ántonia, Jodie. She thinks it's about the most beautiful imagery ever put in words. It's near the very end of the book, when Jim returns to find Ántonia settled down after having born a bunch of children. And she and the children are so proud of their simple things, and they want to show him their fruit cave. Starr Ann almost loses it every time she says that name - the fruit cave. She gets amazed all over again at Cather's sheer audacity, in 1937 no less, in writing a scene that takes place in the main character's very womb."

Right then, Lori got all excited and took over. "Yes! Starr Ann and I have to talk about this sometime. The fruit cave! Genius. And Jodie, they actually go into this place, this underground room, the Earth Mother Herself. And the younger of Ántonia's girls don't speak English. Here's one of my favorite moments of the fruit cave visit: Nina and Jan, and a little girl named Lucie, kept shyly pointing out to me the shelves of glass jars. They said nothing, but glancing at me, traced on the glass with their finger-tips the outline of the cherries and strawberries and crab-apples within, trying by a blissful expression of countenance to give me some idea of their deliciousness. Have you ever heard writing like that in your entire life?"

Jodie was impressed as hell. "Where was my brain the first time I read that novel? I have to reread it."

I said, "Do, Jodie, and then bring it up with Starr Ann." I turned to Lori, "The part right after they emerge from the fruit cave blows Starr Ann's doors off."

Lori quoted again. "We turned to leave the cave; Ántonia and I went up the stairs first, and the children waited. We were standing outside talking, when they all came running up the steps together, big and little, tow heads and gold heads and brown, and flashing little naked legs; a veritable explosion of life out of the dark cave into the sunlight. It made me dizzy for a moment."

Jodie said, "Is your bunker near here, Lori? I'd truly like to see it."

A huge smile broke over Lori's face. "Matter of fact, I planned to go there this very afternoon, to get it ready for Sela's visit."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Highbrow, Baby

Since I've decided to write a little post to especially include who's doin' whom over at Lori Hahn's Riding Cowgirls Ranch, Starr Ann is going to be late today. In the meantime, I suggest going to Lori's blog to check out the reading level over there.

Here's our readability level:

Wacky test! What the heck kinda criteria are they using at The Blog Readability site? And be careful over there - I wouldn't copy their code, simply lift the image. Their code has an ad for cash advance loans embedded in it. Just sayin'.

Heh, I'm off to check the lay of things over at Riding Cowgirls. Tune in later today if you want the lowdown.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Jodie and I disagree on one big point. Jodie believes we should try to assist Starr Ann during her special days each month. I believe we should stick with what has worked in the past, which is sending Starr Ann off for a few quiet days alone in one of her bunkers.

This morning, Starr Ann snapped at me about ten times over absolutely nothing. I had just started getting her clothes ready and framing how I'd suggest that she go underground, when Jodie showed up.

All Jodie said was, "Starr Ann, honey, can I give you a hand moving that stove?"

Here I should note that one of Starr Ann's PMS peculiarities is rearranging appliances. Major appliances. No idea where this comes from.

So Starr Ann set the hand truck upright, real gentle like so as not to damage the stove, and said, "What do I look like? A wimp?"

The alarm on Jodie's face made me want to laugh, but I knew I shouldn't. I said, "Jodie, come help me pick out a CD, will you?"

Once we were out of Starr Ann's earshot, I told Jodie, "All we need to do is finish packing this little bag for her and make a mild suggestion. She always takes the hint and goes to one of the shelters."

"Margo, that's cruel. How can you banish someone you love for, long does she usually stay gone?"

I said, "Depends. Let me do a little recon."

Back in the kitchen, I offered, "Starr Ann, the refrigerator looks nice there in front of the windows and all, but there's no place to plug it in."

Starr Ann threw her hands in the air and let them smack back down on her thighs real loud. "Well, great. Maybe you've got a better idea where to put it."

I walked over and held Starr Ann's hand for a few seconds, all understanding like, meanwhile checking on the degree of puffiness. "It's all right, we can run an extension cord." Then I opened the refrigerator and pretended to search its dark interior for the milk. I let a few choice words slip out of my mouth. "General Musharraf." No irate response from Starr Ann. "Arundhati Roy." No look of admiration tinged with lust from Starr Ann. "Dick Cheney." Starr Ann did not gag. I closed the fridge and followed Starr Ann into the laundry room where she was unhooking the dryer. "Gonna need the pipe wrench for the washer connection?"

With utter disgust, she said, "Do I look like a complete idiot?"

I kissed her on the cheek and went to give Jodie the report. "Okay, Jodie, here's the deal. She's a major chemical spill. Almost no functioning of the neocortex. Responds to neither positive nor negative idealistic stimulus. However, there is exaggerated response to trivial suggestions concerning the appliances. From the feel of her fingers, water weight buildup is about as bad as it gets." I put a consoling hand on Jodie's shoulder. "We have to let her go. And to answer your question, I'd say we're looking at three days, minimum."

"Well, that's just not acceptable, Margo. Three days every month adds up to thirty-six days a year. One entire month every year that we just hustle her off so we don't have to put up with her behavior."

Right then Bates, our puppy who dedicates his life to being contrary and unyielding, scooted from the utility room with his tail between his legs and burrowed under the sofa.

In the most humble, rest-my-case manner I could muster, I said, "She's even scaring the animals. We must keep her away from the horses."

Jodie folded her arms and that was about the final straw for me. Much as I hated to do it, I suggested, "Maybe Starr Ann should stay at your house for a few days. That way, you could take real good care of her. Make her comfortable during these difficulties. As soon as her period cuts loose, send her on home. Hmmmm? Does that sound like the loving thing to do?"

Heh. They left about an hour ago. If Jodie's half the woman I think she is, it'll take her one, maybe two, days to come around to my way of thinking and haul Starr Ann off to a shelter. In the meantime, as soon as I get this last ceiling fan put back up, I've got the house and lots of leisure time all to myself.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Whatever You Believe

Rest in peace, Maxi Pad with Wings.

Our dear friend Cap'n Dyke suffered a huge loss overnight. Nine-year-old Max passed away from a sudden illness. Starr Ann, Jodie, and I offer deepest sympathy to Our Finest One.

Seems the loss of a pet is never easy. Only a few days ago, another wonderful friend, Lori Hahn, lost her sweet girl, Molly. Just look at how beautiful she was.

Here at Happy Hands Ranch we will be thinking of all the ones who are now with the Goddess, and taking extra time to pat and kiss the ones who are still here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Where's Starr Ann?

Ever check out one of those Where's Waldo books? Hate those things. Really do. So don't worry, this has nothing to do with those.

But I saw this video and just about every frame of it screamed Starr Ann to me. Take a look and see if you can find Starr Ann. If you happen to hate this song, don't listen.

Happy Sunday!

Where's Starr Ann?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Change Is Good

My best friend Starr Ann loves candles. Don't get me wrong, she doesn't eat them anymore. That was a passing phase in first grade that I used to tease her about a lot. At the time, I happened to be in second grade and awful proud of having just kicked my paste dependence.

Anyway, especially after she's cleaned the house from top to bottom, Starr Ann loves to light a bunch of scented candles and turn off all the lights. Have I ever mentioned that Starr Ann actually enjoys housecleaning? Yep. She really does. And if you don't think that has worked out real nice for me over the years, think again. But Starr Ann isn't a clean freak or anything. In fact, she isn't all that much into maintenance cleaning. No, what she likes to do is let the house get kinda needy, let things go just a little. That's when her cleaning fits hit, when the work actually makes a noticeable difference. Starr Ann can't dust unless there's some real live dust to get rid of.

It's like when you're riding in a car that's going at a steady speed. You don't feel a thing. Don't sense the motion. But speeding up and slowing down? That's different. Roller coasters and ferris wheels are all about acceleration. Amusement parks should really be called acceleration parks, because people are accelerometers, not speedometers.

And some people, like Starr Ann, are thrillometers. She just naturally seeks out the exciting bits life has to offer and I don't believe she even notices the mundane. Unless, of course, things have been real exciting, which gets her craving the ordinary. But that's just another form of acceleration.

I was explaining all this stuff to Jodie yesterday as we were playing Topsy-Turvey and watching Starr Ann clean the kitchen. Jodie wasn't one hundred percent sold on the concept of us just hanging out while Starr Ann worked her butt off.

Jodie said, "Maybe we should suspend our game and give her a hand."

This sounded like dangerous thinking to me.

"No, that would dilute the satisfaction she'll have when everything's all sparkling and fresh. Just trust me on this."

"Margo, are you sure you're not rationalizing here?"

That did it! I said, "Now you're asking me to come up with a rational argument for rationalization? Sorry, the bus stops right here, Jodie. If you want to fix yourself up a bucket of soap suds and get started on some floor or something, go right ahead."

Heh. That woke her up. "Well, when you put it that way, she does seem content."

Right then, right when I knew I had Jodie in a useful frame of mind, Starr Ann came into the living room and said, "Either of you feel like washing the kitchen windows?"

Dang! Curse change. Curse acceleration.

But later on, when everything was in its place, and the candles were all lit, and we were relaxing by the fireplace as I told Jodie about how Starr Ann used to eat candles, I have to admit to feeling extra satisfied.

Still hoping this doesn't start a trend, though.

Candle glow is mighty appealing, don't you think?

Friday, November 9, 2007

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Apply Within <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dona Nobis Pacem

All there is, is atoms and space. Everything else is illusion. (Melissa Etheridge)

Special Guest Blogger: Starr Ann

Have you ever heard of a Partners Desk? My best friend Margo (hi, Margo) and I have one of them. A Partners Desk has two fronts, so the partners can sit across from one another, facing, as they work. Usually, Margo is writing fiction and I'm...well let's just say I'm making plans. Here's a picture of a Partners Desk that's a lot fancier than ours, but at least it gives you an idea what I'm talking about.

Neat, huh? Last night, Margo and I were at our desk working on today's BlogBlast for Peace post. I was having trouble getting started, and my mind began to drift. Margo was concentrating very hard, but she wasn't writing much. You can always tell when Margo gets traction on an idea because her words start zooming all over the place. You probably noticed that if you ever read her stuff. It's like somebody threw a ball bearing into a halfpipe. Words start rolling like crazy, up and down ramps, and flying up in the air and going nearly out of control, until they finally settle once she gets her idea out. I wrote down that image, thinking maybe I'd use it in my half of our peace blog, because when she gets to that point, what you've got is a person at peace.

After about ten more minutes of us both basically spinning our wheels, I couldn't take it any longer. I had to reach into my second drawer from the top and get out my spitball straw. The first spitball hit her on the arm and she barely even noticed. The second one hit her below her collarbone, but all she did was rub once where I got her. The third one hit her writing hand and landed on the page, next to her pen point. I knew there was going to be trouble when she stayed very calm and didn't look up.

Like a crocodile striking from still water, Margo launched herself across our desk and wrestled me to the floor. Strengthwise, we're an even match. But she is ticklish and I am not. I always win because of that. Once I'd tickled her into submission, we were lying on the floor, on our backs, panting hard. Then the endorphins hit and we started giggling and saying whatever came to our heads. Peace was on our minds because of the blog.

Margo said, "Know what's peaceful?"

"Yeah, tickling you silly."

"That too, but I really like being in the barn all by myself listening to the horses eat."

I knew exactly what she meant. I said, "Or working on something, anything, so hard you all of a sudden look up and have no earthly idea what time it is."

"Yeah, that's always good. And then there's that chemical change that happens from crying and how peaceful you feel afterward."

I reminded Margo that I don't cry much. She nodded. Then we started batting peaceful moments and thoughts back and forth.

"The cold, still minutes right before sunrise."

"Salty soup and crackers after you've been sick."

"Joan Baez's voice singing anything. Or talking."

"Watching Ruffian's races over and over and over."

"Falling asleep in a pool of sunlight."

"The moments after orgasm."

"Overhauling the underground bunkers and re-stocking their food supplies."

"That's not peaceful."

"To me it is."

"Reading Willa Cather."

Anyway, you get the idea. We must have been lying there for half an hour when Jodie came walking in. Margo had fallen asleep, so Jodie spoke softly as she eased down beside us. I told her how our attempt to blog about peace had ended up in a fairly violent wrestling match. I recounted for her the peaceful images we'd come up with lying there on the floor.

I said, "All those beautiful, peaceful experiences are wonderful, and I'm so grateful we get to have them. But, do you ever feel guilty for how fortunate we are? Are we the modern, American incarnation of the good Germans?"

Jodie took my hand and squeezed as she thought about that. She stood up and retrieved a copy of our Peace Globe from Margo's side of the desk. "Look at this. The Earth, Nature, is a dynamic system full of beauty yes, but She also thrives on violence. Think about all life through all the ages. How have the vast majority of individual lives ended? By being eaten. Uninterrupted peace isn't natural."

"Are you saying we just stand by? Just let violence take its course?"

"Hell no. We fight it every step of the way. Resist with all our might." Jodie shook her head and smiled. "But that's not what we're talking about at the moment. We're talking about the place of peace in the world. And I believe peace is exactly what you two made of it tonight. You can't feel peaceful all the time, any more than the world is ever going to be bathed in perpetual peace. What you can do, all you can do, is pay damn good attention to the peace that comes your way."

Jodie kissed me goodnight and went home so I could write down these events. We debated over whether to wake Margo up so she could help with the post, but she just looked too peaceful lying there asleep.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Have Fey'th

Breaking news provided by our new neighbor Lori:

Is there anything un-wonderful about this woman? I think not.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Remember Chanticia

Yesterday, my best friend Starr Ann was about to take a bite from one of the cherry fried pies our new neighbor Lori had dropped off early in the morning. Starr Ann hesitated and said, "Remember Chanticia?"

I said, "No forgetting Chanticia, Starr Ann. You know that."

Starr Ann bit into the delicious crunchy crust and watched the cherry filling run. I didn't say anything else right away, just let Starr Ann's memories run too.

We met Chanticia back when we lived on the racetrack. It was at Arlington Park. We only knew her for ten days total.

From that first morning Chanticia came to work at our barn, she and Starr Ann felt a definite pull toward each other. Anybody could see that a furlong away.

Chanticia had just come down from a job picking cherries in a Washington orchard. Goddess, she was pretty. And she was about the same age as Starr Ann and me. But Chanticia's face, well, there were already about a million things in her face. That's the only way I can put it. She had too many things in her face already for a girl so young. At the time, I'd say Starr Ann had about five things in her face. They were anticipation, enthusiasm, animal satisfaction, grace, and mischief.

One thing I noticed by about the second day we knew Chanticia was that when she looked right at Starr Ann, all of a sudden, Chanticia only had those same five things showing up in her face. The other stuff just lifted, sublimed away.

Chanticia was illegal. We knew that from the very start. In fact, on the third day after we met her, Immigration did a sweep through the backside and we had to hide Chanticia in our tack room real quick. Don't know why, but Immigration's policy was to leave the tack rooms of white females alone. We hid a lot of friends in our room because of that.

Anyway, Chanticia's fingers, from picking the cherries, were beautifully stained a deep cherry red. For her own reasons, though, she seemed a little embarrassed by the stains. Starr Ann and I both noticed that.

On about the sixth day we knew Chanticia, I was a few stalls down the shedrow from where she and Starr Ann were standing close, talking. Chanticia started to gesture something with her right hand, but caught herself and drew it back. Starr Ann tilted her head, looking right at Chanticia, and took that hand in her own. Then Starr Ann separated those cherried fingers and held them soft as baby chicks for a few seconds. Starr Ann leaned forward and pecked Chanticia on the cheek before putting her mouth around one of the fingers and sucking it with more love than I would have believed possible. That might have been the sexiest thing I ever witnessed in my life.

On the tenth day after we met Chanticia, Immigration did a sweep of the backside while Starr Ann and I were offtrack doing our laundry. From what we could piece together, they loaded Chanticia up with five other illegals and took her away. Nobody knew for sure what happened to them when Immigration took them, but the most common story was that they were taken back to Mexico. Dropped off across the border.

When we got back that day and found out, Starr Ann didn't cry. She just walked over to our padlocked door and pushed against it real hard for a long time, silent as could be. Her only words the whole rest of that night were, "Right on the other side of that door. Just a few inches. She'd be safe here right now if she just could have gotten beyond our door."

We tried hard, but never found out what happened to Chanticia. Cherries always remind us of her, though.

Beginning that tenth day after we met Chanticia, Starr Ann had seven things in her face. From then on, there has been the vaguest hint of longing in her eyes and the faintest trace of cherry stain on her lips.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sunday Reruns - Hankering

[Originally posted August 11, 2007]

My best friend Starr Ann and I were watching Saturday cartoons this morning when she sat forward on her end of the couch and put her bowl on the coffee table. And there was still plenty of cereal left in the bowl! If that fact doesn’t raise a bunch of red flags for you, then you just don’t know Starr Ann and you sure never saw her spoon her way through a box of Froot Loops.

Naturally, I was concerned. In fact, Starr Ann has caused nothing but worry lately. First, she disappeared for three days after hearing about Shrub commuting I Scatface Libby’s (remember him?) sentence. Soon as she got word of that she started in on how this just might set off the Big One. According to Starr Ann, there’s a platoon of rogue CIA operatives (led by beautiful ex-Agent Valerie Plame) who are planning a takeover of the White House. Starr Ann thought it would be best for her and me to go underground until the dust settled. I declined the invitation, and Starr Ann pouted a little bit, like she always does when I’m not paranoid enough for my own good. She got over it, though, and tacked up her trusty stallion Oatmeal.

Long story short – she was gone for eight days. She showed back up on Thursday and I was so happy and relieved to be sitting there with her watching our cartoons like always, I guess I just didn’t notice there was something eating at her until she put that bowl down and her attention strayed from the TV right as Tweety Pie was about to set Sylvester’s uvula on fire.

Those big brown eyes of Starr Ann’s clouded up and she spilled the whole messy truth. She wants the new neighbor lady who just bought the spread two places over from here. Wants her bad. But if there’s any force stronger in my Starr Ann than the desire for a woman she’s got her heart set on, it’s her unshakable honor. And Starr Ann is absolutely convinced that the terrorists in the Oval Office have her near the top of some hate list and would target Ms. Jodie Diamond (that’s the new neighbor woman) if they got wind of Starr Ann and her “doing the fandango.”

Anyway, I think Starr Ann at least felt better after we talked it out, because she finished her Froot Loop sludge and got real interested when Road Runner came on. In fact, Starr Ann was wearing her Dalmatian PJs and from the corner of my eye I could see some of the dots moving on the front of her pajama bottoms. She paced herself perfectly, too. Her moment arrived just as Coyote accidentally ran over the edge of a cliff. And I tried not to hear, but I’m almost sure she called Jodie Diamond’s name at the very second Coyote splatted against the canyon floor.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Happy Wildness

Seems I forgot something when I said I'd be writing a series titled, My Best Friend Starr Ann's Most Embarrassing Moments. Truth is, Starr Ann does not suffer from embarrassment. Ever.

So, as she was trying to decipher my new password this morning, she said, "Don't think you've got fodder for that series, Margo. Now, if you want to write about all the times I've done things that have embarrassed you, that's different. Plenty of those." She tested out another password and it failed. Heh.

I said, "I'm always proud of you, Starr Ann."

That got a snicker.

Starr Ann said, "How about the time you were picking up Chinese food I had called in under the name Condoleezza Rice, and it took five minutes to straighten out the confusion and then they kept calling you Condoleezza Rice in front of all the people behind you in line?"

I said that wasn't embarrassment, it was outrage.

She thought a second, then tried another variation of the password and asked, "Well, what about when we were on that crowded elevator and I asked you how your supply of Preparation H was holding up?"

I said, "That one was so lame, Starr Ann. Who would believe I needed that stuff?"

"Or the time I talked you into going to that Republican rally with me, just to get a handle on what makes those people tick?"

I had to admit, "Okay, that was totally humiliating."

Starr Ann hit Enter and her password attempt failed again. She was never going to guess this one. Then she said, "The time we were driving in Claire's car with the two wild fawns and I kept waving out the window at people?"

Now that brought back a lot of wonderful memories. It was two springs ago. We heard this distressed sound coming from the woods. Sounded like a kitten screaming its head off. But it turned out to be a tiny fawn. She was lying all wound into a ball just at the edge of the trees. Now, we know well enough to never meddle with a fawn lying alone like that. The mama deer leave them like that on purpose, teaching the baby to be very still and quiet when she has to leave it alone. But this one was hollering and carrying on so, we thought it would be a good idea to call the wildlife rescue organization near us. Barbara said that if the baby was that upset, it was probably hungry, which meant the mama hadn't been back in quite a while. We did a search and did, sadly, find that the mother would not be returning. She had been hit by a car.

That meant we needed to go against the usual rule of leaving a baby deer where it's lying, get it to a warm, dry place before dark, and get some formula in its belly. This little thing couldn't even walk. It just scrabbled across the ground, but we dang near couldn't catch it. Good thing she almost got away, though, because in tripping after her, we discovered her sister about fifty feet away, lying quiet as could be.

Here's the second baby, right where we found her.

Anyway, we got to keep them in one of our stalls for several days before taking them to Barbara's to be socialized with other orphans.

They were real weak at first, and skittish.

But the more we fed them, the stronger they got. And although we tried hard not to make them too tame, the simple reality that we had to bottle feed them did cause some imprinting.

When they finally got big enough to stand and run around upright, we fully understood why you should never try to keep a wild animal. They were incredibly strong and we feared they were going to break out of the barn any day.

That worry made it a lot easier to give them up when the time came. We borrowed our neighbor's station wagon for the trip to Barbara's place. That morning, we put on all kinds of protective clothing and backed the car right up to the stall door, because we were sure these kids were going to go nuts when we confined them inside a vehicle. To tell the truth, we were a little bit daunted by the idea of trying to drive 15 miles with two crazed fawns ricocheting all over the place.

But they were little angels about getting carried to the back seat, where Starr Ann intended to try to keep them contained while I drove. So far so good. Then I started the car up, and they stayed right there on Starr Ann's lap, nice as could be. When we got rolling, same thing. Perfect behavior from those two.

By the time we went through town, Starr Ann had the babies' heads propped up on her shoulders where they could each look out a window. Every time we came up next to another car, the fawn on that side put her ears forward and looked at the people next to us. And Starr Ann would smile and wave. Starr Ann to this day contends I was embarrassed by all that, but I am here to tell you it is one of my fondest memories - of Starr Ann and of our babies.

I was telling Starr Ann one more time about how she failed to humiliate me with that one when she hooted real loud. She had cracked my new password. How on Earth can one human being be that much inside another's head? I will never understand it. But at least I'm smart enough to enjoy it.

Oh, and the fawns grew up healthy and strong. Barbara turned them out on a refuge with the other orphans when they got big enough.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Bot Egg Brat

My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) is a horrid little brat.

Know why I'm late getting a post up today? Because Starr Ann changed my password right before she left to go check the filtration systems in all her underground bunkers. Took me 45 minutes to guess the new Blogger password. She'd changed it to boteggs69. Uh. Hang on a second. Don't try out that password or anything before I get back.

Okay, all good.

Anyway, you know how passwords tend to stem from what you have on your mind at the time you set them? Well, since Starr Ann was scraping bot eggs off the legs of her trusty steed Oatmeal this morning, I thought I'd try boteggs as the root of the password. And she always adds 69 at the end. Thinks that's real funny.

Now I've fixed her good. She'll probably suspect I used some combination of the terms lust, pert, and Tina Fey for the new word. Don't ask why she'll think that.

But being a tricky cowgirl, I threw Starr Ann a real curve and went with CurvaliCious69. Hang on a second. Don't try that or anything before I get back.


Anyway, let's just say I threw her a curve and went with *************.

And over the next few days, until Starr Ann guesses the new key, I might just post a series called My Best Friend Starr Ann's Most Embarrassing Moments. That's right! I believe it's time a certain cute cowgirl (hi, Starr Ann) learned that tricks are fine, but you don't mess with Margo. Heh.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Starr Ann is so susceptible to fascination. Right now, she's all caught up in reading about the comet that suddenly got a million times brighter on October 24. Recall that Jodie gave Starr Ann a telescope for her birthday just four days earlier? Well, that had Starr Ann all hyped up on astronomy anyway, and when Comet Holmes pulled its dazzling outburst trick, she really threw herself into studying it. Ironic that a telescope isn't much use when it comes to looking at a comet, unless you're doing spectroscopy. But Starr Ann has some pretty fancy binoculars, so she's set.

There she is over there on the couch reading an article from the Net I printed for her. As she reads, Starr Ann's eyes are about as round as that picture of Holmes up there. She has her headphones on, listening to the new Melissa Etheridge CD, The Awakening, and she pauses once in a while to pay extra attention to the music.

Jodie and I are puttering around, trying not to be too obvious about watching Starr Ann's facial expressions. Goddess love her, she's in her own little world. They seem to know her there.

I start blending up a batch of strawberry smoothies as Jodie makes a reconnaissance pass by the CD player to check what Starr Ann is hearing at the moment.

Jodie picks up the jacket notes and brings them to me, saying, "Right now she's on 'Message To Myself.'" Jodie gets real serious. "Margo, do you think she knows how much she's loved. I mean, how completely, by both of us?"

I snicker. "She's not one to doubt that, Jodie."

Jodie says, "I just..."

I look back at Starr Ann. She has lifted her eyes from the comet article and is grinning at our cat, Posse, who is on the other end of the couch doing what cats can do that we can't, but wish we could, and I'm not talking about purring.

I touch Jodie's arm.

Starr Ann redirects her attention to the comet and I add the frozen strawberries to the smoothies.

A few minutes later, Jodie says, "Whatever song she's on now has really transported our Starr Ann."

I glance toward the couch. Starr Ann's face is full of so much tenderness, I can barely stand it. Jodie squints to make out which song is doing that. It's 'I've Loved You Before.' Jodie reads the words and whispers, "Did I hold you in my arms as you were taking your last breath?/Did I shout to all the gods that I would love you beyond death?" All of a sudden, Jodie has to leave the room.

She comes back in just as I'm taking the smoothies from the freezer. Obviously, there have been some tears, because Jodie's eyes are a little pink.

I say, "Been keeping track of the songs. She's listening to 'The Kingdom of Heaven' right now."

Jodie is alarmed, "That's the one that rips her apart." Jodie glances around the room, like she wants to find something, anything, to distract Starr Ann with.

Real quick, I poke a straw down in one of the smoothies and carry it into the living room, come up behind Starr Ann, and set it down next to her. Half-consciously, still enthralled with the song, she reaches out and picks up the smoothie, taking a big pull on the straw.

From the doorway, standing beside Jodie again, I watch as the ice pain hits Starr Ann and spikes up through her head. She rips her headphones off, jumps up off the couch, and about knocks us down getting to the breadbox. For some reason, Starr Ann thinks the best cure for ice pain is filling her mouth up with bread.

Anyway, I lean over and whisper to Jodie, "Got all kinds of techniques for breaking the mood when loving Starr Ann gets too intense."

Jodie says, "I'm going to need you to teach them all to me."

With her mouth crammed full of bread, Starr Ann says, "Anybody heard the weather forecast? I sure hope it's clear enough to see the comet again tonight."