Thursday, January 31, 2008

Got Grocery?

We drank what was left of the milk for supper last night. And that's not the only thing that was running low, with Lane and Amanda crawling downstairs for refueling every two or three hours. Yep. A major grocery run was definitely needed.

Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) and I were at the kitchen table playing Grocery List when those two soldier girls came down acting a bit less hurried than they had for a few days. Guess their brains were finally out, and they were ready for socializing. Yay.

Lane peeped over Starr Ann's shoulder at her copy of The List and said, "Ooooo, me want some cookies."

Starr Ann pointed to the cookie section of The List. "We have Chips Ahoy, Oreo, and macaroons. What else can we do ya for?"

"Nilla wafers."

Starr Ann gave Lane a long hard look before adding that.

Amanda said, "So, can we go to the store with you guys?"

We said sure, but warned them that the timing might be a little out of their way. See? Starr Ann and I really like to play Grocery Shopping in the middle of the night, when most of the grownups aren't there. Lane and Amanda sounded up for that, so we planned to head out around two in the morning.

Spend-It-Rite was deserted when we got there. Well, deserted except for a few people stocking shelves, one cashier, and the manager who was probably in the office. But no other customers for sure.

First thing as we entered the store, Lane and Amanda cut to the right. Starr Ann had to stop them. "Wrong way, ladies."

Lane laughed, but she loves to challenge Starr Ann at every possible turn. "What does it matter, as long as we make a complete circuit?"

Starr Ann gave her that one look and said, "If we go that way first, silly, we'll pass the bar soap before the bread."

Lane rolled her eyes. Dang, what a teenager that girl can still be. "And that would be a problem why?"

Putting her hands on her hips, Starr Ann let her eyes get all wide, and asked in a serious tone, "You have played Grocery Shopping before, correct Lane? Amanda?"

They looked at each other and made a 'Starr Ann' face. I'd describe it, but I don't think I can. Sorry.

So Starr Ann says, real disappointed, "That speaks volumes. Allow Margo and me to guide and explain. It is essential to smell the breads before smelling the bar soap. The bar soap tends to jack with your olfactory receptors in a way that ruins the bread scents. But the bread has no effect on the soaps. Get it? Good." Starr Ann pointed to a grocery cart and led the way leftward.

We had a great time in the Produce Aisle. What's not to like about tomato inuendo, banana inuendo, and the occasional spontaneous misting? Nothing, in our opinion.

Anyway, next big stop was the Bread Aisle. Poor Lane and Amanda. We had to show them everything, from how to fan the wrapper for greater molecular flux, to saving the rye bread for last. What are they teaching kids nowadays?

They caught on pretty quick after that, though. By the time we reached the canned fruit, Starr Ann was pushing one basket, with me standing on the front and Lane was pushing the other one, with Amanda riding. Lane halted in front of the maraschino cherries. She reached out and touched one of the jars, her fingertip right on a cherry, and gave Starr Ann her best blissful expression of countenance to give some idea of their deliciousness. Yep. It was a move straight from Starr Ann's favorite scene in My Ántonia.

Tears filled Starr Ann's eyes, and she said, "Lane! You read it? For me?"

Looking all proud of herself, Lane said, "In Basic, we got a couple of free hours every Sunday afternoon, and I read it then."

Well, after that, it was Lane pushing one basket with Starr Ann riding, and me pushing Amanda on the other one. And Starr Ann and Lane kinda went off in their own direction for a while. That was real sweet, I thought.

We met back up with them in Greeting Cards. Starr Ann was in the process of explaining how to go through all the Love cards and separate out the ones ambiguous enough to be Lesbian Love cards. We all worked on that for a few minutes and when we had them all sorted, I got out the Sharpie pen we were gonna buy and made a new shelf label that said Lesbian Love. It looked real nice. Then we did the same thing in Birthday, Get Well, Congratulations, and Friendship. Heh.

That was hard work, believe it or not, and we thought we deserved to go directly to the bar soaps. Dang, I could just take a bite right out of Dove pink soap. I swear I could. Starr Ann favors Zest. I noticed Amanda and Lane both seemed partial to the Sandalwood. But whatever. Starr Ann and I try not to judge.

For the final stretch of store, we traded off so that Lane and I were together. As she started to push me toward the back of Aisle Four, I said, "They're kinda following us, Lane, maybe we should take a left here so we don't end up in the meat section. The meat makes Starr Ann sad."

Lane said, "Already all over that, Margo. Starr Ann told me the same thing about you when I almost led you and Amanda over there earlier."

We forgot the dang milk! Can you believe that? All these cookies and no milk.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Night Visit

Last night, Lane and Amanda were still entrenched in their room and Starr Ann went home with Jodie. I had a brand new Carol O'Connell mystery, and although I'd have preferred to be doing what the others were doing, I really was looking forward to settling down to read some Kathleen Mallory.

That's when the nausea hit. By the time I staggered to my bed, I was all clammy and too weak to get undressed. Just climbed under the covers and lay there shivering and kinda not opposed to the idea of dying.

Anyway, I don't know how long I'd been huddled there when the dream started up. Only it didn't seem at all like a dream. But so many parts of it couldn't be NOT a dream, it was real confusing.

In the dream, I heard a horse approaching outside, and then Cap'n Dyke opened my door real soft and came in carrying a lit candle. She paused in the doorway and said, "Me Dear Morsel, a touchy belly be th'worst, now isn't it?" She put the candle on my table and bent over so I didn't have to talk too loud. I nodded my head and the Cap'n said, "Ye take a care an' lie back quiet an' easy, Me Lass. I'll hie right back."

Then she left, or I should say, the dream was over.

Next thing I know, there's Cap'n Dyke standing there again, holding a silver goblet. This time she said, "Now, Me Sweetling, when ye feel that ye can bear it, sip this."

I asked her what was in the goblet.

"It be a spot o'peppermint tea with a drop o'honey t'sweeten yer tongue."

When I told her I couldn't quite handle it yet, Th'Cap'n carefully placed her goblet on my table and brought the desk chair over beside the bed. As she sat down, she said, "Ye slip off into dreams, Me Darlin'; I give ye Me Word that I'll be sittin' right here beside ye 'iffin ye be needin' anything at all."

Guess I did sleep for a while, and when I woke up that mint was starting to smell mighty inviting, so in my weird dream it seemed perfectly acceptable to ask the lesbian Pirate Queen for a sip of tea from her silver goblet. The brew was still real warm and I can't tell you how soothing it felt going down. When the goblet was empty, Cap'n Dyke took the weight of it from me and asked me how I felt.

I pushed up on my pillow a bit and said, "A little better, actually." Then a big wave of weakness made me sink down again.

Of course she raised the piratical eyebrow and said, "Margo...if ye will stop tryin' t'sit up, I'll sing ye a wee song, but ye must lie back quiet, hear?"

Well, there wasn't much choice about sitting up at that point anyway.

Then the most amazing thing happened. When she said she'd sing a song, I was thinking something piratical, adventurous, or high seas romantic. But serious as anything, Cap'n Dyke started singing a SpongeBob SquarePants song, in SpongeBob's voice. It was the one that goes:

The best time to wear a striped sweater
is allllll the time,
One with a turtle neck
in its designnnnn...

By the time she got that far, I was laughing too hard to remember being sick. As soon as the song was finished, the Sapphic Seafarer started in on an outrageous story about the Evil Sea-Monkeys and how they know for a fact that SpongeBob really is gay.

This was turning into one of the most fun dreams I'd ever had. I think peppermint tea with a hint of honey and real hard laughter might just be the cure for an upset stomach.

After all the exertion, I must have started looking kinda peaked again, because the Delectable Dyke lowered her voice and quietly told me stories about gypsy birds, and wild horses and a beautiful, virile maid of long ago. As she spoke, My Finest One absently tilted and turned the silver goblet, so the candlelight glinted and glanced all over my walls.

Right before I tipped off to a sound sleep, I think Cap'n Dyke had begun referring to that strong, fervent maid as Jonet Darc. Which made perfect sense, because Starr Ann and I have always been fascinated with Joan of Arc.

Soon after sunrise, I woke up feeling real good. I passed Lane and Amanda at the top of the stairs, on their way back from a kitchen break. We said good morning as Lane taped a fresh BioHazard sign to their door, and as they were scooting inside, Amanda asked me how my touchy belly was feeling.

About halfway down the steps, those words 'touchy belly' echoed back from the Cap'n Dyke dream. Unusual phrasing that. And how did Lane and Amanda know I'd been feeling ill? Hmmm. Have to remember to ask them about that next time they emerge.

Anyway, when I got to the kitchen it smelled just like peppermint tea with a hint of honey.

What's Your Sign?

They're home! Lane and Amanda got here in the middle of the night and we get to have them for ten whole days. At least, we kinda get to have them.

They arrived waving a DO NOT DISTURB sign they'd pilfered from the hotel they stayed in on their way here. Starr Ann and I fixed up a little food and as soon as that was eaten, those two disappeared upstairs. I went up there to see about sheets and pillows, but apparently they'd found their own, because their door was shut and that sign dangled gayly from the doorknob.

I told Starr Ann, "Guess we might not see much of those two the first day."

Starr Ann thought for a second, and said, "We better have food ready for when they crawl out."

"Dang, you're so right."

The first Lane/Amanda sighting was about three hours later. Good thing about the food. They went through half a gallon of milk, a third of a yellow cake with maple icing, and the very last of our chocolate chip cookie dough.

When they drifted back to the room, Starr Ann said, "Hmmm, next time down they're gonna need salty stuff."

Jodie let herself in the front door and came walking in right about then. She laughed real happy when we told her what was going on. Then she went upstairs for something and came back down laughing even harder. "Did you see the sign those two have taped to their bedroom door?"

Starr Ann said, "Yeah, DO NOT DISTURB. Cute."

"Oh, no, that's what they have hanging from the doorknob. Taped to the actual door, there's a sign that says GIRL ON GIRL ZONE - KEEP OUT."

We had to run up and take a look. It was on white sheets of typing paper, written in cornflower blue and forest green crayon. Real pretty.

So before the hour was out, here come Lane and Amanda streaking back down to the kitchen. And yep, Starr Ann was correct, it was salt they were after. Took them about 30 minutes to polish off a big bag of potato chips, two grilled cheese sandwiches apiece, and a huge pot of leftover onion soup.

The whole rest of the day went just about like that until finally, after we all finished a big supper together, they retired for the night. Jodie, Starr Ann and I sneaked upstairs later to have a look at their final sign and had to crack up. The outside of the door was criss-crossed from top to bottom with bright yellow police-type tape that read CAUTION: CRIMES AGAINST NATURE.

Jodie examined the elaborate web stretched back and forth across the doorframe, and said, "Now how in the world did they manage that from inside the room?"

Starr Ann just cocked her head that one way and said, "Window."

Anyway, Lane and Amanda are home! Yay.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

In A Cloud O'Dust

Look out, Bloggies, here comes The Posse!

Heather, at Wishful Writer, is a finalist for the 2008 Bloggies under the GLBT category. Be sure to go vote for this extremely funny and thoughtful writer right away and vote often.

Here's Heather:

Cute, huh? Not only that, she's a fine writer and she's Posse. So what are we waiting for? Let's go to the Bloggies and vote!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Starr Ann Is...

Well, not actually FOR SALE, but more like FREE to a GOOD HOME.

Starr Ann's a very innerestin girl, who's not only fun to be around, but she can be real helpful at times. And she looks absolutely smashing in

Only thing is, right now she has a COUPLA THINGS goin' on.

First, there's her Category 5

Plus her recent

Now add all that to the fact that Starr Ann is

the situation for all it's worth, and voilà! We're willing to let her go. To the right home, of course.

The sooner the better. If she makes us rub her feet one more time, or if she sends one more sandwich back to the kitchen because "the pickle is on the ketchup side of the cheese, and the onion is touching the mustard," Jodie and I are thinking of dropping the GOOD HOME stipulation, and just giving her to the first woman who drives up here in a pickup truck. Oh, yeah, you'll need a truck, because Starr Ann isn't about to budge from that sofa. That reminds me, we're throwing in a sofa with the deal.

Anyway, if you want Starr Ann, she's quite available. Hurry. Jodie and I can't wait to head for

Monday, January 21, 2008

Loose Horse

Starr Ann was just standing there in front of the refrigerator, babbling about shampoo. A twingle of alarm shot through my veins.

I gripped Jodie's elbow and ushered her aside. "One of the signs," I said.

Jodie didn't get my drift at first. "Signs of what?"
I shushed her and looked over at a still-oblivious Starr Ann. "Keep your voice down, will you?" I turned and glanced at the calendar for verification - as if I needed it. "PMS. She's entering PMS."

That woke Jodie up. "Will she go willingly to one of the bunkers? I mean, before the snapping and bitching starts? Or do we have to wait until she gets all regretful about being snotty?"

"Depends. Leave this to me." I went over and put my hand on Starr Ann's shoulder. "Hey, Starr Ann, what's on Fridge TV today? Anything good?"

Starr Ann opened the vegetable crisper real quick and grabbed a carrot. Okay, that told me a lot. She was in the denial phase.

It took the rest of the morning to move Starr Ann smoothly out of denial, through mocking incredulity, and beyond downright disparagement, to acceptance and the actual packing of her bags. Jodie and I were happy to help with that.

Starr Ann stepped into Oatmeal's stirrups at five minutes after two. I remember because my cellphone rang right as I would have been saying goodbye to her and telling her I love her. As it was, the call broke in. It was Wanda, our farrier, saying she'd be about a half an hour late, that it was five after two then, and she'd be delayed until around three. I said okay, and by the time I turned back toward the paddock, Starr Ann was a couple hundred yards away already. I didn't think one thing of it. Jodie high-fived me over us getting Starr Ann on her way at such an early stage of this month's PMS festivities, and we went inside to brew some tea.

Wanda came, trimmed four horses, and left. Jodie and I were almost back to the house when we heard hoofbeats, real fast, real erratic, bearing down on us. It was Oatmeal - steaming, blowing, lathered, and missing his saddle.

My brain started this miserable loop that went, We don't even know which bunker she was going to! - How on Earth did he lose even the saddle? - She's for sure hurt! - It's bitter cold out here! - I didn't kiss her goodbye! - We don't even know which bunker....

Jodie ran several steps in the direction Oatmeal had roared in from, then realized the futility of that. She whirled around, stood very still for a moment, and shouted, although I was standing right there, "Margo, you get on Trickster and try to retrace Oatmeal's tracks. I'll follow you on Amelia as soon as I get poor Oatmeal safely put up."

There was no blood. That had to be a good thing, right? But there was no movement either. I'd have imagined myself making fast, efficient moves, instinctively doing whatever the situation called for. That's not how it played out. I could barely move. Kneeling there beside Starr Ann, so still underneath Oatmeal's saddle, my only thought was that there still had to be a Starr Ann spark in there, and I had to be meticulously careful to avoid blowing it out.

I removed my coat and my sweatshirt to pile on top of her, then hit 911. Everybody knows our little bridge across Beargrass Creek, so I used that as a landmark to tell the dispatcher where I'd found Starr Ann. Weightlessly draped across her, trying to share my body heat without hurting, I pressed the side of my face to Starr Ann's neck, listening to the slosh of her pulse there, and asked the lady to please ask them to hurry.

Thank Goddess for the snow. Jodie easily found us, and she'd even had the presence of mind to grab some horse blankets. Starr Ann didn't wake up the whole time we removed the saddle and gingerly bundled her up.

We endured twenty minutes of pure Hell waiting for them to arrive. We both huddled over her, Jodie just staring at her face, and me babbling about everything I hadn't said before she left us, about that stupid phone call from Wanda getting me distracted. I couldn't remember the last time I said out loud that I loved her.

Neither of us cried. Crying would have been too scary. We were outside our bodies, though. Drifting way far away somewhere, with our Starr Ann.

When they finally got there, first thing they did was make us leave her. That felt like the wrong thing, but of course they had work to do. None of the horrible bureaucratic, legality mess you always hear about prevented us from riding in the ambulance with her, though. This is a small town. They know us as people.

When the doctor came out to speak with us, she made sure to approach us wearing a big smile. No broken bones, big concussion, Starr Ann was conscious, her body is one humongous bruise.

Seems something spooked Oatmeal and when his legs went out from under him, Starr Ann ended up underneath. Quick as anything, he rolled upright again, but the roll squished Starr Ann pretty good. She remembers seeing him standing above her, his saddle askew and the reins hanging down. The main thing on her mind was removing the tack before he got tangled in it and hurt himself. As she bent to lower the saddle to the ground, that's when she noticed how bad her head was hurting. Then the light went away.

It was two whole hours before we got to go into the emergency room and be with Starr Ann. And then, it was only because she was being such a pain about us coming in. The dynamic from the scene of her accident took up where it left off, as I started babbling again and Jodie simply picked up Starr Ann's hand and silently held on.

I was saying, "I was so afraid our last moments together were going to end up being with me on the phone, walking away, and you getting hustled off so we wouldn't have to put up with your PMS. Dang, Starr Ann, I thought I'd die, thinking about that."

Starr Ann looked at me real hard for a second, and then said, "Were you saying things like that while I was out? While I was unconscious?"

I said yes.

Starr Ann got that one look, the one she gets when she's all fascinated. "Margo, I think I knew it, knew what you were going through. I remember feeling like I just had to get an idea across to you," she looked at Jodie, "the both of you, that the last moment is just a moment. Being the last one doesn't mean anything." She frowned slightly, then winced at the muscle movement it took to do that. "It was like, you know, if I could focus on a single atom of your body, it'd look like any other atom of that element. The miracle of you, or you," she squeezed Jodie's hand a little harder, "can't be isolated into the pieces either of you are made of. Margo, no final moment or final act could take away from what we are to each other, the nights you stayed awake whispering and humming to me when I first got to the orphanage, every smack on the butt when I've hit you with a smart aleck remark, all the times we've laughed so hard together we had to lean on each other to stay standing. Promise me you'll never worry again about what it's all meant, what it all adds up to, okay?"


"Good." She shook her head. "Goddess, what an idiot you are, to have even one regret about us."

"That's harsh. You just called me an idiot, Starr Ann."

"No way."

"Yes you did, didn't she, Jodie?"

Jodie said yes.

Starr Ann tried to look all innocent. "Must be the concussion. No matter what I say over the next few days, no matter what demands I make, no matter how difficult I might be, please know it's the concussion talking." She got that one real dramatic look on her face then and said, "I sure could use a foot rub. Will one of you rub my poor feet? The doctor says they must have been the only part of me that didn't spend some time underneath Oatmeal."

They said that evil thing gets to come home tomorrow. Jodie and I are sincerely afraid of being cooped up in the house with a Starr Ann who's not only PMSing, but flashing her brand new concussion card just about every two seconds. Wish us luck.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Monkey Comfort

My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) and I were at Jodie's house yesterday when the mail arrived. There was a package in it - late Christmas present from Jodie's cousin. She opened it and laughed the moment she saw popsickle-blue fur sticking up between light pink tissue paper edges. Very lovingly, Jodie pulled the stuffed monkey from his delicate nest, saying, "Ah, my goddess, if it isn't Bomba." She buried her face in the monkey's neck and took in a deep breath. "Smells the same as always." By the look on Jodie's face, that was a good thing.

So, Jodie told us Bomba's life story. And when she had finished, she put Bomba on her desk, saying she'd have to find the proper place of honor for him later. Only thing was, Jodie hadn't paid attention to how she laid Bomba down. One monkey foot was twisted under his wiry body, and the left monkey hand didn't look a bit comfortable the way it was bent.

Well, ever since she was little, Starr Ann has had this kinda extended empathy. First time I noticed it was with a statue of The Blessed Virgin Mary.

See, Starr Ann was always a great speller. When she was in third grade and I was in fifth, Sister Blissie Marie started up these weekly spelling bees at our school. Starr Ann was too advanced to compete with her own age group, so Sister Blissie put her in with my class.

We were all real excited about that very first spelling bee. I lasted fairly long, but dropped out when I drew the word 'discombobulate' and spelled it 'd-i-s-c-o-m-b-O-O-b-u-l-a-t-e.' Before long, the contest got down to Starr Ann and Cory Jameson. Starr Ann made it safely through 'gramophone' (I told you she was good), and Cory had to spell 'quadruple,' which came out as 'q-u-a-d-r-u-p-A-l. Starr Ann was the winner!

So, the prize was a full week's custody of this real pretty statue of The Blessed Virgin. During her first week taking care of the trophy, Starr Ann fixed up a place in our room, on the table right between our beds, for Mary. Every morning, Starr Ann dusted Mary and faced her toward the window. Then at night, before closing our shade, she turned Mary back around to overlook our room.

The next week, Starr Ann won The Mother of God again. It got down to her and Cory, but Starr Ann aced 'cornucopia' right ahead of Cory getting hold of 'annihilate,' which well, annihilated him.

By the third spelling bee, Starr Ann was getting pretty attached to our Mary, and she studied her vocabluary words harder and harder. So, as everybody expected, we all got shot down (I missed on cunning, don't ask), leaving only Starr Ann and Cory standing once again. That week, Cory's mom had come to school to watch us. Yep, some of the kids at our school weren't actually part of the orphanage. Their parents even paid tuition. In a master stroke, Cory made it past 'rappelling,' and Starr Ann got off with 'exemplary.' Then Cory was unlucky enough to venture 'f-l-a-c-k-s-e-e-d' for flaxseed. Dang. Three victories for Starr Ann in a row!

But when Sister Blissie Marie went to the center of the room for the presentation, she said, "Congratulations to Starr Ann for being so good at spelling. This week, however, because Cory has barely missed first place three times in a row, we're going to award him the care of Our Blessed Virgin Mary." Sister Blissie looked in our direction. "That's fine with you, isn't it Starr Ann?"

Starr Ann just nodded her head yes.

Well, that evening, Starr Ann asked me to sneak over to Cory Jameson's house with her. She said she wanted to check out Mary's new place. The Jamesons were finishing up supper, and it was getting dark out, so we could see in their kitchen window real well and it was a warm night, so it wasn't hard to hear them talking through the screen door. We heard the mother telling the father all about how Cory won the spelling bee. And she told Cory to go get his trophy. When Cory got up from the table and unzipped his backpack, Starr Ann's hand gripped mine real tight. Cory pulled Mary out of that dark bag, upside down. The father put down a chicken leg and didn't even wipe his hands off before reaching out and handling the statue. Then he handed it back, and Cory laid Mary on the counter, on her side, with her face stuck in a pile of dishrags or something. Starr Ann and I didn't say too much on our way back to the orphanage.

Anyway, the following week, when Cory and Starr Ann squared off, I could feel Starr Ann's resolve. By all that was holy, that girl was determined to win Mary's freedom from the Jamesons. Luckily, Cory's mom wasn't around that week. Starr Ann's final word was 'reverence,' which I would have guessed should be spelled 'r-e-v-e-r-A-n-c-e.' Whew, Starr Ann was good. Then, in a weird twist, Cory got 'relevance.' Well, he must have been thinking the same thing I had about 'reverence,' because without hesitating, he boomed out, 'r-e-l-e-v-E-n-c-e." Game, set, and match to Starr Ann.

That night, as Mary stood strong and secure on our table, I knew it would be Starr Ann's first good night's sleep for a whole week.

On the following Friday, Cory's mom was there again, and when Starr Ann won the spelling bee (I can't really give you the details of how she won that one, because I kinda left for a few minutes), Sister Blissie Marie announced that there was a new prize. From then on, the winner would be awarded merit points that could be saved up and traded in for extra dessert at lunchtime. Seems The Blessed Virgin statue had disappeared at some point during the bee.

Anyway, the minute Jodie walked away from her desk, Starr Ann nonchalantly reached over and arranged Bomba so he looked real comfortable.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Don't Make Starr Ann Spank You

Don't make my best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) have to spank you. Hurry over and nominate Lori Hahn's blog, Hahn at Home, for TLL Lesbian Blog of The Year 2007.

You do it like this:

--Go to the TLL nominations page.
--Write a simple comment declaring Lori as your nominee, and then insert her link, which is
--That's it! You're done.

Congratulations! You have successfully avoided a spanking* from Starr Ann.

*For those who would prefer to receive said spanking, simply nominate Lori first, then come back here and leave a comment to that effect.

Lane Has Twelve Mommies

Starr Ann just about couldn't stand the idea of Lane graduating from Basic Training without having any family of her own there to watch. Remember how, in her last letter, Lane said, "No one will be here for me, but my best basic buddy Charlotte has her whole family coming from Arkansas?" Well, that line put that one look on Starr Ann's face. The one that says, 'Get outta my way, I'm comin' through.'

By the time Starr Ann got done sending out her Secret Posse Call, each and every member of The Posse was ready to ride. Yep, and I have to say right here that Frannie and Wildwind fit in like they've been with us forever.

The audience attending Monday night's graduation ceremonies at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, wasn't exactly your normal gathering of parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. One lucky member of Charlie 1/34 had twelve (well, thirteen if you count Sandwriter for each of her blogs) proud visitors - all women, all dynamic, and none of them related by even a single drop of blood.

From the second we reached that Army post, we hit one obstacle after another. But guess what? Even though Lane had no idea we were going to be there, even though we had no invitation, we made it past every barrier with ease. Here's how Starr Ann explained the whole thing to me. Starr Ann said just like loving thoughts attract love and peaceful thoughts attract peace, thoughts of subversion attract posse members with extensive backgrounds in military intelligence. It's that simple and beautiful.

Like magic or something, whenever anybody looked at us real suspicious and asked for our paperwork, either Gina, Lori, or Starr Ann whipped out what was apparently just the thing, because all gates and doors simply opened before us. Excellent!

Praise the Goddess, we did make it to the hall in time, but without getting word to Lane we were there. Poor kid had to spiff herself up and jump through a million hoops all day thinking she'd be the only grad with nobody from home to see her.

The place was packed, and you'da thought we'd have to sit way in the back, but Cap'n Dyke just kinda nonchalantly strolled up front and had a little talk with this real robust looking family, and all of a sudden they were grabbing coats from chairbacks and gathering purses and cleaning up their tobacco spit cups so we could sit down. Real nice people. As they passed, I heard this one older lady asking what 'keelhaul' means. Heh. Anyway, we ended up sitting quite close to the stage.

Lane's Company was seated over to the side, a neatly arranged pool of green and bronze, where sweet young faces floated clean, proud and smiling.

Starr Ann leaned and whispered to me, "She's in the second row, fourth from the right."

Dang. There she was. Lane but not Lane. Lane's eyes set in a more angular face. Lane's body, but more strongly held. Then the girl next to her must have said something funny, and in a quick flash of laughter, it was Lane, just Lane.

Starr Ann turned to her left to whisper to Jodie, I leaned right and whispered to Cap'n, and in a few seconds the whole Posse had its sights on our girl.

According to this very innerestin woman at the microphone (who, incidentally, did to a uniform what Becky C does to short shorts), there were some awards to give out before the actual graduating part.

Lane's name got called for a bunch of certificates - expert markswoman and highest score on the PT test by any woman ever in the history of the Company are the two that stand out in my mind. Each time Lane went forward to claim an award, she looked directly at that nicely uniformed officer who was handing them out, and though we clapped along with the rest of the audience, Lane didn't spot us. She still thought she had no one.

Then they announced we were coming to the highest honor of the evening. The final award was for the graduate who'd shown the most exceptional soldiering skill, maturity, and good judgment throughout Basic Training. And the name they called was Lane's.

Well, that did it! Like our chairs were on fire, the whole Posse jumped up and cheered as Lane approached the podium. This time we were impossible to miss. As I glanced down the row at the likes of us - a Creatively Flowing artist, a nomadic poet, a recovering historian writing a book of truth about the Iraq War, a Meme Queen in a pink feather boa, a Wishful Writer, a horse-handicapping academic, a wild Texan political blogger extraordinaire, a gentle folk rock girl living under the clouds somewhere near the Mexican border, a Jill of All Trades from Colorado, a multi-tasking blogger-mom-marketer-humanitarian-gourmet crazy woman from California, a lesbian Pirate Queen, and two cowgirls - the idea crossed my mind that our presence could just possibly embarrass Lane in the midst of her new, straight-arrow, establishment friends.

Unfolding a piece of paper, Lane turned toward the people. Her composure wobbled for a second there when she spotted The Posse, still standing and clapping wildly, tears on most of our cheeks, and huge smiles all over our faces. Slowly, deliberately, Lane made eye contact with each of us. She glanced down at the prepared acceptance speech in her hand. She gently re-folded it and put it back in her pocket. Then she began.

"I want to thank all my friends in Charlie 1/34 for making Basic Training an unforgettable experience. And deepest regards to Sgt. Angel Moreno, Sgt. William Castor, and Lt. Amelia Jameson. You all have my deepest respect." Then Lane let out a small chuckle. "I had a short speech prepared for this. It was about why I entered the Army at this terrible time in our country's life, what I hope to do for the world, what I hope to make of life, given my rotten start." She came over to the edge of the stage nearest The Posse. "But that was before I saw my beautiful family here. It couldn't have been easy for these war protesters, Peace Bloggers, and fun lovers to come here tonight. Only explanation is they really love me." Lane winked right at Starr Ann and went back over to the podium. "So instead of making that big speech, I just want to wish all of you and your families even half the love I have in mine."

The Posse lost it. I doubt there's ever been that kind of chaos at a military graduation before, but nobody tried to stop us. Lane came down from the stage and it took us about ten minutes to get done hugging and kissing and crying.

We hung around as long as they'd let us after the ceremony, and caught up on Lane's plans. Amanda graduates on Thursday, and Lane says they're gonna meet up on leave. They'll be coming back to Happy Hands Ranch for 10 days between Basic and Advanced Individualized Training!

Temperatures were in the 20s for the ride home, but we all felt warm as could be.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Draw, Podnah!

My best friend Starr Ann and I were checking out this cool artist's blog over the weekend, when Starr Ann got that one look on her face. The one that says, 'We need to get more Posse.' Right away, I had to agree.

So far, The Posse doesn't have a visual artist.

Now, Starr Ann thinks she's artistic, and I have to admit that when she's motivated she really can create quite an effect. But have you ever heard of the book titled Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain? Well, Starr Ann's version would be something like Drawing On The Filthy Side Of The Brain. I already wrote about this in detail not long ago, when I did the Blue Tea Meme. Bottom line, I don't really count Starr Ann as being all that artistic.

As for me, I do real good with coloring books, but even there I need the kind with nice thick lines.

Anyway, starting today, a true artist is riding with The Posse! Frannie, from Creatively Flowing, and her beautiful mare Wildwind have agreed to be part of Happy Hands Ranch.

Starr Ann and I are extra excited about this, because Frannie's saddling up just in time for The Posse's big trip today. We're heading out for Lane's Basic Training graduation ceremony. Should be innerestin.

Cowgirl Up, Frannie. Welcome!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tagged and Threatened/Promised

My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) and I've been Meme Tagged again. Yep, and this one nearly caused a tiny rift at Happy Hands Ranch. Believe that? We never argue here. If we disagree, we'd rather wrestle to the point of tickling than actually bicker.

Anyway, the Queen of Memes tagged us with this new
meme called No Autographs, Please - The Band Meme. So far so good. Mimi always comes up with fun games.

In the past, I've enjoyed procrastinating on meme follow-through. Drives Queenie crazy. Keeps her out of trouble (everybody knows she was arrested in a toy store over the holidays, right?). But this one looked so fun, I got started on it right away.

So, here's what nearly upset our Happy Hands - The Dungeon.

Yep. The dungeon. See? The standing threat is that if you fail to answer your Meme Call, you get thrown into this dungeon. I'm claustrophobic and don't really care to get put down there. But Starr Ann's practically salivating at the thought of taking a peek inside. So, when she realized I was answering this tag real fast, Starr Ann started lobbying for us to dodge the meme.

Here's how The Band Meme goes. You are about to have your own band's CD cover. Follow these directions to the letter. Go to......


The first article title on the page is the name of your band.


The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.


The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4. Use your graphics program of choice to throw them together, and post the result as a comment in this post. Also, pass it along in your own journal because it’s more amusing that way.

Then, Starr Ann saw our results! Heh. Even Starr Ann's dungeon fantasies couldn't override the pure excellence of our band, our debut album, and especially our album cover. And we both want to swear to one and all, right here and now, that there was absolutely no cheating on the album cover picture! We swear! Starr Ann and I are leading a truly charmed life.

So, here it is:

And for the record (heh) there was no rift. We do be riffin', though.

Now, who are Starr Ann and I tagging?

Cap'n Dyke (because Pirate Music is so Adventurous)

Sandwriter (because she's a famous Dream Guitar player)

Drowning Pisces (because she's so danged tech savvy)

*Special thanks for the graphic assistance of a certain piratical geek.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Monday, January 7, 2008

New Letter From Lane

Guest post by Lori Hahn. Thank you, Lori.

Hi Starr Ann! Hi Margo,

We are in the final week of basic. I’ll be marching all perfect and stuff and in my greens on Monday. Families are coming. No one will be here for me, but my best basic buddy Charlotte has her whole family coming from Arkansas. Cousins and everything. I think it’s an entire family made up of cousins from the sounds of things though! I tease her that way. Got a couple of letters from Amanda. That seems kind of ridiculous considering her building and mine are LOS (that’s line of sight for you civilians). We’ll be able to see each other on Sunday when we have an open pass. She got her assignment to go to combat medic school. She told them she fainted when she saw blood, but they said she’d get over it.

I had to do all these field exercises, like setting up land mines, firing an M-60, and jumpin’ in and out of fox holes and throwing grenades for a couple of days. That was kind of cool. When we did the grenade throwing thing, it was with live grenades. The drill sergeant got down in the hole with us and we jumped out and tossed it and jumped back in the hole. Problem was when the girl who was always messin’ up didn’t clear the wall with her grenade. It dropped right down where they stood.

The drill sergeant picked her up and tossed her in the hole. She made it in, but he had to go to the hospital, because he wasn’t quite there himself. I hear he’s going to be okay, but won’t be back for graduation. Couldn’t help but think that Iraq and Afghanistan might be full of such mishaps.

I thought I’d let you know that I have my assignment too. Now, don’t get all scared or anything, but I will be going to a six week school for 21S – Topographic Surveyor school. I’ll support a combat artillery unit. My orders say I’m going to go to a unit somewhere in Iraq—they ain’t talkin’ about ‘xactly where. I was told I needed to learn about caves and rock formations and tribal behavior. They’re going to teach me that too.

I hoped me and Amanda were going to be together, but the buddy program only lets us join up together, apparently. It’s kind of like foster care when we finally find a family that fits. They tell us we can stay and then we don’t. So, it ain’t nothin’ new.

Hey, girls, don’t you worry about me. You know I will be duckin’ and coverin’ if anything comes my way I can’t deal with. I just worry about these other kids. They ain’t as tough as me. All I know is I look pretty damned tight in those greens and can break down my M-16 and put it back together faster than any of the men in the battalion.

Love to the critters and Jodie.


Happy Natal Day, Delectable Dyke!

Well, it's true. Even lesbian Pirate Queens have birthdays.

Starr Ann and I wish Our Finest One, Cap'n Dyke, a magical natal day filled with love, lightheartedness and laughter. And yes, plunderin' an' pillagin' too, because we know how happy that makes her!

Everybody's invited to Happy Hands Ranch tonight to raise a tankard to The Creamy One Herself. Practice your piratese and bring your most piratical ways.

Oh, and Starr Ann challenges the whole lot of you to a game of WWPD.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Opal Mountain

One of the first dogs my best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) and I took in when we got to Kentucky was a little terrier mix with nursing home certification. Billie was a magical girl who could bring a smile to the most troubled face. Anyway, it was because of Billie's vocation that Starr Ann and I got involved with the Creative Rest and Play Home for Seniors (CRAP HS). And that's how we met Opal Mountain.

This morning on our way to pick up Opal, I said to Starr Ann, "Do you ever think maybe we should bring Opal to the ranch more than just once a month?"

Starr Ann just said, "Ten Second Rule."

"Right." See? Since the nuns raised Starr Ann and me Catholic, we sometimes have to remind each other that guilt is only useful for about ten seconds. That's how long it should take to decide what's causing it, whether or not it requires a change of course, and then dismiss it. Anyway, we give Opal what we can, and we know it.

When we got there, Starr Ann went directly to Opal's room and I went to the main desk to show our papers and sign her out. When I got finished and joined them in the room, Starr Ann already had Opal bundled up for the trip to Happy Hands Ranch, and they were chuckling together about something.

Soon as I swung through the doorway, Opal stopped laughing, her eyes got real wide, and she pointed her finger at me. Then she shrieked, "That's the bitch that stole my purse!"

Dang. It was going to be a stolen purse day with Opal. Now, Opal loves Starr Ann like nothing you ever saw. I mean, no matter how far afield Opal's mind is wandering, her Starr Ann love stays right in place. I'm a different story. Opal does love me, but there are times when she doesn't quite recognize that she does. Anyway, on days like today, I'm a purse snatcher, and nothing on the Goddess's Earth is about to change Opal's mind. So we don't even try.

We got Opal all snugged down in the little buggy we bought just for bringing her home, and set out for the ranch. I drove, because last time I tried to sit in the back with Opal on a purse snatcher day, she all of a sudden had one of her moments and just about kicked me right out of the moving buggy. Nowadays, Starr Ann always rides in back.

It's warm here today, sixty degrees in the middle of January, and Opal loves riding so much, I took the long way. By the time we were home and situated in the living room, Opal had asked about fifty times for her White Russian. Opal loves her some kahlua, and White Russians are her favorite drink.

Now, part of the CRAP HS paperwork we have to sign when we pick up Opal says we won't give her any alcohol. Starr Ann says that's merely a technicality that CRAP HS has to put down for liability purposes, and since we don't live our lives in liability's shadow, we don't have to worry about that. I'm fine with it. And Opal is more than fine with it. Besides, she's 88 and not on any medication except her Metamucil, so what's it going to hurt? Plus, we make her White Russians with Ensure, and Opal can use the calories. If you look at it a certain way, Opal just about needs her White Russians.

Anyway, as I came in carrying her first drink, Opal let out one of those whoops that feels like an icepick through the temple and hollered, "That's the bitch that stole my purse!" Dang, when am I ever going to get used to that? I spilled sticky White Russian all over me and the floor.

The whole day long, Starr Ann stayed cuddled up on one end of the couch, with Opal on the other, laughing and telling stories. Most of the time, I was allowed to be in there with them, since Starr Ann kept telling her I was harmless and Opal believes, at least for a few seconds, anything that comes out of Starr Ann's mouth.

Like always, we ate supper early and started out for CRAP HS in time to get back before dark. We got Opal's teeth put up, and tucked her in bed just in time. She was snoring real loud as we tiptoed from her room. Her favorite aide stopped to talk a minute on our way out, and told us again how much Opal's attitude has improved since last year, when we got permission from her family for these visits.

Here at home later, we were raiding the kitchen for leftovers and Starr Ann said, real serious, "Why can't you leave your hands off that purse?"

I said, "That's it!" and wheeled around, trying to pin Starr Ann's arms.

But she was ready for me and managed to get a slight advantage, then got lucky enough to reach my tickle spot. Dang!

If there's anybody out there who really believes torture is any way to extract legitimate information, all I've got to say is before Starr Ann was done, I not only admitted to stealing Opal's purse, but confessed to a string of other snatchings over the years.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Power of Place

My best friend Starr Ann and I didn't end up staying two whole weeks, or even one, at Jodie's place up in Massachusetts. It just got too weird.

On our way there, we went right through town, and it seemed like a nice enough place. Starr Ann had her R-dar going, but wasn't picking up many Republicans at all. (Dang, I just tested out saying 'R-dar' three times fast. Although not as hard as that incredibly funny hard-to-say routine Tina Fey did in 30Rock. Remember her in that episode where she kept trying to pronounce 'rural juror?' Go ahead and try saying that even once. Tina Fey. Wow.)

Anyway, not too many Republicans mucking up the place, and it's a college town so we were feeling pretty comfortable and real glad about where Jodie lives when she's not at her ranch writing her book. Then we finally reached her house.

Dang. It was really nice. Elegant, austere, almost like a museum. Very impressive, really. The grounds were finely manicured and the house itself just oozed sophisticated grace. Quite beautiful. Starr Ann got out the key Jodie gave us and I saw her hesitate just a tiny bit before opening the door. We were smiling and everything, but I could tell we were both just a little tentative about actually going inside.

So right off, soon as you walk in the door, you can smell floor polish and flowers. Not Jodie's regular scents at all. But nice, anyway.

Starr Ann and I tried real hard to be nonchalant as we went from room to room. But we were both holding ourselves kinda stiff and then when we started talking, it was like we were afraid to speak out loud in our regular voices.

Real hushed, Starr Ann said, "Any chance we wandered into the wrong house, Margo?"

I said I didn't think there was any way the number would be right and the key would fit if we weren't in the right place.

"Yeah, guess that's true." Starr Ann had that one look she gets when she's trying to make things add up and they just won't.

So, we spent that first evening sitting in Jodie's living room in these real straight-backed chairs. We ended up eating out, because there was no way we
were going to take a chance in that fancy kitchen.

Then we were in the bathroom getting ready for bed, and I noticed Starr Ann was even brushing her teeth all wrong. Usually, Starr Ann works up a whole lot of toothpaste foam when she brushes. And once her mouth's totally frothy, she gets to talking all dreamy like, and waving her bubbly toothbrush in the air. Usually, it's a real treat to watch Starr Ann brush her teeth. That night, not so much.

We stayed out most of the next day, just walking around, taking in the sights. When we got back and Starr Ann sighed real big before putting the key in the door, I said, "How about we just head home tomorrow?"

Starr Ann's shoulders relaxed some then.

We rode up after dark, and from pretty far off we could hear hammering. Turns out we'd had some freezing rain the night before and during the day's thaw, a weak section in our fence had fallen over. Jodie had the horses secure in the barn and was out there in the cold, in the crossbeam of two big flashlights she'd set up, repairing our fence.

She couldn't respond too much to our arrival, because she was busy balancing a 16-foot board while nailing one end of it to the post, but when she saw us, Jodie yelled over the wind, "Don't set foot in this pasture, you two! Fucking mud in here's like walking on Crisco." She put her knee up to prop the board better and went on. "You didn't stay very long." Then she laughed a little bit and said, "Doesn't matter. I mainly wanted you to get a glimpse of my old life." She was talking while holding two nails between her teeth, and the wind was awful loud, but we heard her very distinctly when she said, "Gonna have to cut the university loose and sell that place. Can't envision leaving here ever again."

You shoulda seen Starr Ann's face light up. This was our Jodie.

So, we stood outside the gate for a few seconds, just watching her work. Then the board slipped and Jodie hit the mud. Starr Ann was over that gate and beside her before I had a chance to get the first latch opened. Just as she bent over to help Jodie up, Starr Ann's feet slipped out from under her and the ground claimed her too.

I truly was about to go in and help them, but all of a sudden they were both laughing hysterically. So I just enjoyed the mud wrestling while it lasted, which wasn't all that long, because it really was cold out.

We decided the horses could just stay inside in the morning until we got back outside and finished the fence. Jodie and Starr Ann needed to get inside where it was warm and take a bath.

Once they were in there splashing around and laughing, I went back out to finish the fence. No sense in keeping the horses waiting in the morning when I didn't have anything better to do.

Crisco was right! I landed right in it twice before the first board was even up. By the time the fence was good and secure, I was coated in good Kentucky mud and shivering my butt off.

From my hot bath afterward, I could hear Jodie and Starr Ann tussling in Starr Ann's room.

It feels real good to come home.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Posse Galore

My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) and I just met another cool cowgirl! Yep. Gina over at Drowning Pisces is hot on the trail and she writes like a dream.

So guess what? Drowning Pisces and her horse Bolero are joining The Posse. That's right. This little band of hard ridin', saddle slidin' lesbians just got stronger. Welcome to Happy Hands Ranch, Gina!