Saturday, December 29, 2007


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.



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 truck...Bates is showing Simone a man's hairy arms as he was being he's showing her an, 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?"


"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,


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."