Monday, July 28, 2008

Return of the Blue Blazebian!

My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) waltzed in late Sunday evening just as big as you please.

The brat didn't say one word about her bunker or what that algorithm of hers had spit out. She kissed Jodie hello and hugged me, then pointed to the mantelpiece clock and clapped her hands in a chop-chop way. "Whatsa problem here? Where's the laptop. Ya'll forget what night this is?"

Jodie said, "Computer?"

I said, "Forget what?"

Well, Starr Ann put her hands on the hips of her chaps (she had on the beige ones I named Creamy Dreamy) and gave us a disgusted look. "Let me give you a couple hints." She shook out her shoulders, took on this real cute muppet-like face and said, "I want you to have my finger babies."

If we'd have been on email or something, the capital letters would have been flying faster than two tops who've spotted the same lovely bottom headed for a heavy door that's gonna need opening.

But we happened to be functioning in real time, in person, in our living room, so Jodie and I just said, at the same time, "Oh Goddess! It's July 28th! Liz Feldman's new season starts today!" Dang, that was a phenomenally long string of words to say simultaneously. After hanging out together so much this week, Jodie and I are like this.

Anyway, the second season of Liz Feldman's vlog, This Just Out, starts today!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Endless Possibilities

Sometimes I just don't get Starr Ann. There she was a few days ago, all concerned about the fact that I've not posted about Jodie for a while and that Jodie and I seem to have drifted apart. Which, if you ask me, we haven't. But once Starr Ann gets an idea in her head, it's there to stay until she gets rid of it her own self, in her own way. So, I filled out Starr Ann's weird questionnaire (what the heck does my hottest, most recurring sexual fantasy have to do with this, anyway?) and she was supposed to use her homemade algorithm to run my 'data' and come up with the best possible way for Jodie and me to reconnect.

I handed Starr Ann the completed survey, and guess what she did? Without even glancing at my answers, she saddled up her trusty steed Oatmeal and rode off, saying, "Going to one of the bunkers to process this, Margo. Be back soon." That was three days ago.

That night, Jodie asked me over to her place for supper so we could try to figure out what kinda ordeal Starr Ann was going to come up with for us. Jodie's first guess was that Starr Ann would send us off on an extended camping trip. Maybe to Red River Gorge. That sounded real fun to me, so we stopped what we were doing, right in the middle of making the salads, to go check out the Gorge online. Pretty, isn't it?

Then, after another margarita or two, I started thinking that was way too predictable. Starr Ann would surely come up with something a little more subtle than that. Jodie said I was prolly right.

While Jodie and I were all caught up in Googling the Gorge, we started smelling something odd. Right at the same second, we both realized the odor was coming from the kitchen.

Jodie got to the stove first, and started stirring one pan all fast and furious. She said, real relieved, "We nearly scorched our white sauce."

For some reason, that sentence struck me way too funny. My side was killing me, and each time I almost recovered from the laughter, Jodie would make this wry face and repeat, "We nearly scorched our white sauce." Which sent me into another laughing fit.

During dinner, we made all kinds of plans about the camping trip. Then I remembered how, just about a month ago, some guy went missing in Red River Gorge. I told Jodie how Starr Ann had smirked while reading the newspaper article that said he was found about a week later right near where he'd originally camped, had to be identified through dental records, and all his valuables were missing. The smirky part came when Starr Ann quoted: Police do not suspect foul play. In other words, tourism brings in too much revenue to let one person's misfortune get in its way.

Jodie said, "I see your point, Margo. Starr Ann isn't about to let us go trekking off into someplace she deems dangerous."

So by dessert (Jodie had made her super special key lime pie) we were back at square one on figuring out Starr Ann's plan. Jodie threw her hand out, real frustrated like, and nearly knocked over her amaretto coffee.

I poured a little more liqueur into both our coffees and said, "We've gotta get into her head. Gotta think like Starr Ann."

Jodie cracked up. "Takes a brave woman to try a thing like that," she said, and raised her cup. "Here's to brave women."

I raised mine. "Brave women."

After a few minutes of silence, I offered, "Maybe she'll send us off on an exotic vacation somewhere. An Olivia cruise."

Jodie clasped her hands behind her neck and stared at the ceiling for about five seconds. Then she dismissed my idea with, "Hell, no. That'd leave all the chores on both ranches for Starr Ann to do all by herself. Plus, you know how nosy Starr Ann can be. No way is she about to send us off where she can't snoop around on whether we're re-bonding or not."

I said, "Point well taken. You can say that again."

Jodie quit squinting at the ceiling and focused on me. "You're getting tipsy, Margo."

"Not on your life. Not a snowball's chance."

Jodie smiled real knowing-like. "It was just an observation, not an accusation. More amaretto?"

"Yep, fill 'er up. Top me off."

The bottle seemed to be getting a little frisky, so Jodie handled it very deliberately. She spoke real slow and careful too. "You're definitely buzzed. I can tell because you're starting to speak in clichés. And you're reinforcing the first one with a second one."

"You're off the mark, Jodie. Totally out of the money, here."

I swear Jodie's starting to take on some of Starr Ann's mannerisms, because right then she did a fairly accurate version of that one smug smile that Starr Ann practically has a patent on.

So, we played strip Scrabble for a while, until it was way late. Finally, we decided Miss Algorithm wasn't going to show up that night.

"You might as well stay here tonight, Margo. Trickster and Amelia get along so well, and I'll bet they've already bedded down out there beside the hay roll."

I said, "Moon's up by now, and it's fairly large tonight. Let's take a moonlight walk to the pasture and surprise those two with some carrots."

Jodie was on her feet and getting the carrots before I even finished what I was saying.

Turned out, we didn't get moonlight. Nope. Cloud cover was so dense, we couldn't even pick out a glowing area to tell us where the moon was hiding.

We had climbed the fence and were taking care not to trip in the pasture, which tends to be rougher going than a plain old grassy field, on account of deep hoof prints. All of a sudden, Jodie put her hand on my arm to stop me, and we stood there very still for a few seconds. Our eyes began to adjust to the deep darkness, and we could see both horses lying flat out over by the hay roll, right where Jodie guessed they'd be. Lightning bug paparazzi flashed all around us, and off toward the south fence, we saw the silhouettes of about ten deer, heads to the ground, casually grazing. It was one of those moments where you feel like you're getting a glimpse of what lies underneath everything we call reality. I knew Jodie felt that way too when she took my hand and squeezed it nice and even.

Well, Amelia and Trickster didn't even bother to get up, so we stooped down and fed them their carrots right there on the ground. Lazy bums.

In the morning, with still no sign of Starr Ann, I stayed and helped Jodie do her morning chores then she came over to Happy Hands Ranch to do mine with me.

All through chores, all while we enjoyed a delicious lunch Jodie whipped up, all during a late-afternoon ride down to the big pond for a swim, and then even all through fixing supper that night, we came up with one hypothesis after another trying to guess what kinda plot Starr Ann's gonna come up with to help Jodie and me get close again.

Jodie's going to stay here tonight, because we're going to scour my hard drive for that algorithm. Try to beat Starr Ann to the punch. Heh. It's always good to stay one step ahead of Starr Ann when she gets all possessed with something like this.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pocket Protector Days

My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) came walking toward the barn with that one look on her face and carrying a clipboard. Right away, I calculated whether I had any shot at getting out of Trickster's stall and through the back door without Starr Ann seeing me. It didn't take a genius to come up with odds of about 37 billion to one. Against me.

So I said, "Hey, Starr Ann, see you have the clipboard. This should be fun." Actually, when Starr Ann has the clipboard, you can say anything that comes to your head, because she isn't going to hear what you say, unless what you say has to do with whatever's on the clipboard.

Starr Ann grunted and took the pencil from behind her ear. "Printed out a few graphs, here, Margo. Found something innerestin' about your writing lately."

"My writing?"

"Yes. About The Chronicles."

And here, just to show off to myself how well I know Starr Ann, I said, "Corn cob holders shaped like Peruvian mice."

She nodded all serious and said, "Exactly."

See? Clipboard plus any subject other than what's on her clipboard equals transparent.

Anyway, I said, "So tell me your findings about The Chronicles."

Starr Ann braced the edge of her precious clipboard on her hip real cute and consulted the top sheet of paper as she reported, "I've graphed the number of times you mention Jodie against time and found a shocking drop-off in Jodie-related posts over the last few months."

Well, I couldn't hardly argue with that. "You know as well as I do, Starr Ann, that Jodie's been working her heart out on that book, being totally meticulous about documenting the Bush administration's atrocities here in the last months of the regime."

Well, she couldn't hardly argue with that. "I do know that. And I also know you've made it a point to stand back and give Jodie and me time alone whenever she does come up for air." Starr Ann flipped to the second page. "Here we have a histogram that clearly shows you've been doing that over roughly the same period of time as the Jodie-deficient posts."

All of a sudden it hit me. Lori Hahn. I said, "You saw yesterday where Lori posted her Spreadsheet of Moving, didn't you, Starr Ann?"

Starr Ann shifted to her other, non-clipboard hip and said, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Well, that proved it. Lori's post definitely had everything to do with this, or else Starr Ann wouldn't have even heard what I said. Heh.

I went on, "You saw that spreadsheet and just couldn't stand it. What else have you got charted there in that stack of papers?"

She clapped the clipboard up close to her chest. "Nothing much. Now, Margo, what are we going to do about your estrangement from Jodie?"


"What else would you call it? Can you even remember the last time you sat down to a meal with Jodie? The last time you put up fencing with her? The last time you saddled up Trickster and rode over to her house to see if she'd like to hop on Amelia and go for a ride? The last time you ganged up with her and made fun of me while I'm listening to music?"

"Stop right there, Starr Ann. We were not making fun. We were sharing how much we love you." Starr Ann didn't even hear that, because it had nothing to do with her printouts. Then I couldn't help myself. I said, "I sure do remember the last time I was all alone with Jodie in this barn. In the biblical sense."

Starr Ann smiled. "That was an anomalous data point that I had to exclude from my reports here. Believe me, I tried to work it into something, but like I said - anomalous."

Since I was just about finished grooming Trickster, I cut to the chase. "So, what do we have to do in response to your findings, Starr Ann."

"I'm glad you asked that, Margo."

I silently cursed Lori Hahn one more time for good measure. "Just tell me, and get it over with, Starr Ann."

Starr Ann pulled several bottom sheets free of her clipboard and repositioned them on the top. "All I need you to do is fill out these forms I've made up." She turned the board so the forms were face up from my perspective. "Answer from your gut, not your brain. And when you're finished, I'll apply your parameters to a little algorithm I've written. After that, I should be able to tell you what we're gonna do about this."

Lori Hahn and her dang Spreadsheet of Moving.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It could all be so easy

Find what you really care about,
And live a life that shows it.

--Kate Wolf

Check out Stacy Westfall, a woman who has done just what Kate was talking about.

Notice there's absolutely no tack on this horse.

Thanks to Joyce at Hapless Tigger for posting this so we could steal it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not Your Grandmother's Doilies

My best friend Starr Ann was born with her very own, fully-formed ideas about home décor. Her criteria? If it pleases her eye, she goes with it.

One time, when we were little, Starr Ann and I got in trouble for something. I think it had to do with a fake rattlesnake that accidentally got left under Sister Blissie Marie's pillow for her to find as she got into bed one night, but I'm not sure. Anyway, Starr Ann and I had to clean the convent living room, dining room, kitchen, and Sister Blissie's room - all before we could go outside and play.

We did the kitchen first, and were miserable the whole time. Then that single interior decorator gene of Starr Ann's kicked into action, and she decided we would not only clean the other rooms, but we were going to make them look better than they ever had before. Something inside me feared this would only buy us more housecleaning duty, but I just couldn't ruin her enthusiasm and send her back into drudge mood, so I kept quiet.

Well, Starr Ann took off and just poured her little heart into cleaning the rest of those rooms. In the living room, the nuns had this tall cherry table, where they always kept a fresh vase of flowers. Starr Ann had to pee, and since we were allowed to use the sisters' main bathroom while we were cleaning, that's where she went. When she was finished, Starr Ann (remember, she was real little) came out carrying a few sheets of pale pink toilet paper. She'd been sitting there doing her business, looking at that pastel pink, and got it into her head it'd look real nice on the polished cherry table, under the vase, like a doily.

Starr Ann put that toilet paper underneath the sisters' fancy flower vase and stepped back a couple steps to admire the color and texture combination she'd created. I didn't know what to do. She seemed so proud of what she'd done. And what harm was it going to do to leave it there? So I didn't say anything. Actually, I thought I'd have time to sneak back after we'd finished and just remove the toilet paper. No big deal.

Problem was, there was this one real mean nun, nothing like Sister Blissie, but real mean to everybody all the time. So Sister Mary Flagellate of Christ showed up not long after Starr Ann had added the toilet paper touch. Sister stood in the doorway scanning the room for any tiny piece of lint we might have missed, and then she saw it. The toilet paper.

"Which of you came up with this mockery?"

Of course, we both said we'd done it, and so we both got in trouble again, and were invited back for next week's cleaning, and the next, until we could learn to be more respectful.

Which brings me to what I intended to write about. Heh.

Most of our neighbors are real nice. But wouldn't you know, one of the ones who isn't so nice, one who isn't very tolerant of people who arrange their lives the tiniest bit differently than he does his, happens to live right next to our place. Now, that doesn't mean he lives real near, just that he's closer than anybody else.
Elrod's driveway runs right alongside the outside fence of our farthest pasture.

Elrod's a surgeon. Been married at least three times that we know of. Seems like a real material type of person. Doesn't have a lot of use for homosexuals. If he isn't a Republican, it's a real shame, because he sure is a big enough jerk to make a good one.

Well, nine whole months ago, Elrod started having a stone gate built at the entrance to his property. Two workers, at least, have been building this monstrosity for longer than it takes to build a house these days. It's this huge brick and iron fortress sitting out in the middle of nowhere, with an automatic gate that's got to be driving UPS and FedEx, who have to make about four trips up Elrod's drive every day, nuts.

So, up until last week, this thing was just something to laugh about. I swear, every time Starr Ann had to ride home that way and pass by the thing, I knew it because she'd come in the house shaking her head, saying, "That guy must sure feel the need to compensate for something."

Last week, though, things turned ugly. The workers topped several of the brick pinnacles with lights! Bright, polluting, unshaded lights that if you accidentally look directly at them you run inside to a mirror to make sure your eyes aren't squirting blood.

We've been livid. Yes, I said livid. And then I checked my spelling of the word livid, because if you look at it long enough, it starts seeming like there's no such word. But there is. Livid is a perfectly good word, and I even used it correctly.

Anyway, we've been livid over these lights.

And the worst part is that Starr Ann and I just aren't used to carrying around a lot of negativity, but I'm telling you, we've been full of bile over this.

Today, Starr Ann's been off visiting Miss Opal Mountain at the nursing facility, and on the way home this evening she's gonna have to pass by The Brightly Lit Eyesore. I've been trying real hard to figure out a way to keep her from just busting wide open over that thing again tonight. Then it hit me. Hard as it's gonna be, we've gotta find some way to understand Elrod, even a little bit. Only thing's gonna get us up out of all this ugliness is to claim an inch or two of common ground. I think I found about 16 square inches, as a matter of fact.

In our hallway, we have a tall table where we keep things we need to grab on the way outside, like our work gloves, a pocket knife, sunglasses, that kind of stuff. So, I put all that away and set a pretty vase of flowers there on a few squares of pink toilet paper.

Betcha anything Starr Ann gets the message.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Just In

Well, I guess this puts all Starr Ann's nonsense to rest. Frannie has now found 18 horses in the 15-horse picture.

Frannie Comes Through - Big Time

Well, it's not every day you can outwit Starr Ann. But with Frannie's (thanks, Frannie) help, I think we did it this time. Starr Ann claimed she had not only found all 14 of the hidden horses in that image, but had also found an extra one! I gave her until noon today to prove that claim, and guess what? That's right! Not a peep after that.

Meanwhile, I was sitting on a covert email message, with the unappealing subject field "Awesome Things About George Bush." Heh. Although Starr Ann, as not only my best friend (hi, Starr Ann), but my System Administrator, has full access to my email, she never even bothered to check that email. Chalk one up for Frannie.

Anyway, Starr Ann did not deliver proof of her own success in finding all those hidden horses, and it's past noon, so I'm posting Frannie's excellent work. Wouldn't you know it would take the eye of an artist to find 'em all!

Thanks, Frannie!

Starr Ann, you're so immature.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Optical Confusion

Starr Ann can be so immature sometime. Just now she came in all busy and blowing her bangs out of her eyes that one way, and she asked me to please find something a little more visually appealing to put above that terrible politician drawing.

So, I started checking around for a nice horse picture and found this one at a place called Planet Perplex. It's a site full of optical illusions. Prolly for kids, but Starr Ann and I got caught up in it for longer than I care to admit.

Anyway, that picture up there has seven horses hidden in it. I only see four. Starr Ann says she sees all seven, but refuses to point them out to me because she "doesn't want to spoil the joy of discovery" for me.

This one is supposed to have 14 horses.

I've found six. Guess how many Starr Ann says she found.

Starr Ann's so immature sometime.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Politicians Don't Kill, Voters Do

Life is so sweet. And lighthearted moments are the sweetest ones of all. Starr Ann and I are sometimes amazed at how easy, how important, how endangered true lightheartedness is today. That's why we take it where we can find it, and nurture it with laughter, humor, and hopefully, a little bit of grace.

But keeping the lightness alive also means not deluding ourselves. This is July 8. The Bush administration intends to attack, or at the very least, support an attack on Iran (a NUCLEAR power) before August is over. My friends, in six months, we'll be reading articles that will refer to this very month, day, moment, as part of the run-up to the Iran War.

You don't need our help with your search engine skills. Check it out. Here's just one journalistic alert:

The current tension among political observers as to whether the U.S. and/or Israel will undertake military action against Iran before president Bush leaves office has been greatly intensified by the prospect that Congress will pass a frightening resolution, HR 362, as early as this week.

We should be taking to the streets, but we aren't. Let's at least write, phone, and visit our representatives to let them know we aren't going to stand idly by for another war.

Surely, we're better than this.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Leaving Marks

You wouldn't believe what a good laugh we had the night all three of us - Starr Ann, Destiny Jane, and me - showed up at Destiny Jane's truck carrying water to pour under that tire, just to make sure Destiny Jane couldn't leave the next day.

Once we stopped laughing enough to talk, Starr Ann said, "Well, if this isn't about as rigged up as as a no-bid contract to service Iraq's oilfields."

Wiping laugh tears from my eyes, I said, "Starr Ann, you I suspected. But Destiny Jane, you flatter me no end, woman!"

Destiny Jane got this smile on her face that I'm starting to recognize means she's gonna try to say something funny to diffuse the fact she's a little bit embarrassed. "Just trying to keep the tire hydrated, Margo. Why, look at these other three." She walked all the way to the other side of her truck. "Poor things are drier'n the dust on a desert rat's sombrero." She kicked the front tire. "At high noon." She almost cracked up as she pretended to examine the rear tire. "In Tijuana."

Starr Ann swiped her finger along the third tire's tread and said, real sober, "During drought."

So we decided we might as well cut out the whole tire-watering step and figure out how long Destiny Jane could stay, given it was obvious none of us wanted her visit to end. Turns out, she had to be all the way over in Virginia in just one more day. Seems she was all set to start the dream job of her life - directing a non-profit horse rescue organization. Not exactly the kind of job I could feel anything but proud of her about.

Anyway, yesterday morning the three of us went down to the road, which drained off real nice once we stopped watering it, and fixed Destiny Jane's tire. It took about no time to do it. Just jack up the truck, change the tire, and Destiny Jane was good to go.

She tested things out by pulling the truck forward a few feet, well away from the sizable rut that was left after having a pickup stuck in it for several days, not to mention all the water we sloshed in it. She hopped out again, once the truck was in the clear, and we started our goodbyes. Lucky for us all, we're too smart to get overly emotional just because somebody we think we might love a lot has to leave for a perfectly good reason and it would be crazy to change around a bunch of lifelong dream plans over somebody you've known less than four days.

Last thing I said to Destiny Jane after she climbed back up behind the wheel and started her engine again, and we were both looking in her sideview mirror at the place where that tire had been stuck, last thing I said to Destiny Jane was, "Every time I see that hole, I'm going to think of you."

She said, "Perfection, Margo." Then she put her truck in gear and rattled off toward Virginia.

When Destiny Jane was out of sight, I said, "That had to be the stupidest exit line anybody ever came up with."

Starr Ann took my hand and started us for home. "It wasn't an exit line. An exit line is when she isn't coming back. Don't worry, Destiny Jane'll definitely be back."

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Novel Idea

My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) had herself an idea. Starr Ann says on Sundays we should start posting chapters of the book I finished last year - one chapter a week until we've posted the whole novel. So starting tomorrow, that's what we're going to do.

There are two reasons for Starr Ann's idea. First, there's just too much to do around the ranch in summer, and we have to buy time anywhere we can find it. Second, I'm working hard on a third novel, which leaves even less time for writing everything else.

But don't worry. If you just don't have the kinda time it'd take to read a whole chapter a week (and who does?), The Starr Ann Chronicles will still be here from Tuesday through Saturday. Approximately.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Clear As Chocolate Pudding

Any other time, if my best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) went to all the trouble to dress for town, she'd stay there long enough to get her whole backlog of errands taken care of. Any other time, it'd get so late I'd start to wonder if everything was okay. Well, the morning Starr Ann and Jodie went to meet with Jodie's publisher and left me alone with Destiny Jane didn't turn out like usual.

Right about the time Destiny Jane made that nice comment where she kinda compared me to a piece of fruitcake made with bourbon whiskey, which gives it a little bite, just the way she likes it, here comes Starr Ann and Jodie riding back up, big as anything. So, instead of progressing back inside for a little while, just Destiny Jane and me, the four of us ended up taking a trail ride. All afternoon. Until suppertime.

I was feeling real smug though, thinking to myself the whole way that Destiny Jane was bound to take me up on the offer to sleep in my room. The farther out we got on that ride, the more I told myself a little anticipation never hurt anybody.

We were all half starved by the time we finally got home and got the horses squared away. Once we hit the kitchen, everybody jumped in on fixing supper like we'd been working together forever. Eventually, talk got around to Starr Ann's bunkers, and Destiny Jane seemed to be real innerested.

Then Starr Ann said, all casual, as if she wasn't doing the prurient equivalent of sliding a knife between my ribs, "Since the moon's fairly new, tonight'll be a good dark one for testing some equipment in my bunkers. Be happy to have your company and show them to you, Destiny, if that sounds inviting."

"Sounds about as inviting as flute music noodling down a holler in the green lighting right before a downpour."

Starr Ann slapped her leg and sealed the fate of my evening. "Then we'll head out soon as supper dishes are done."

Not long after they left, I filled up a bunch of water jugs and carried them down to where that truck of Destiny Jane's sits stuck in mud that was drying way too quick. Lucky for me, that bad tire was in a little dip that held moisture real well. It only took me two trips to soak things up bad enough to make it impossible to get a jack stable underneath there. Heh. Someday, Destiny Jane and I are gonna laugh about all this.

They didn't get back from the bunker run until way after it got light. And, of course, they were both so tired all they could do was fall dead asleep after I fed them breakfast.

Later on, Starr Ann was the first one up. She looked like a little cleaned-up kid walking into the barn all sharp and fresh, with her hair still slightly damp.

I said, "So did Destiny Jane like the shelters?"

Starr Ann smiled and said, "Does a ruby-throat like a trumpet vine?"

I had to shake my head. "You're starting to talk like Destiny Jane, you know that Starr Ann?"

Starr Ann tilted her head sideways. "I'm getting an Indiana accent?"

"No, silly. I mean all the analogical language."

Starr Ann tilted her head to the other side. "Margo, sometimes you make about as much sense as clothes on a cartoon character."

"You're telling me you haven't noticed anything about how Destiny Jane talks?"

"Well, sure. I hear a trace of Indiana accent, but it's not that much different from ours."

When she gets like that, there's just no place to go with Starr Ann, so I dropped the whole subject. "Okay, Starr Ann, then let me ask you this. Did Destiny Jane mention anything about how long she can afford to be stuck here?"

"Not a thing. Why?"

"Because, Starr Ann, I'd like nothing better than for it to rain real hard for about a week, to keep that truck right where it is, if you get my drift."

Starr Ann started nodding her head all of a sudden and she gave out a low whistle. "Dang, guess I've been as dense as an oil executive testifying before Congress about record profits." She kissed my cheek. "I'm real sorry."

By the time Destiny Jane woke up, Starr Ann had a real romantic dinner ready, and as she put it on the table, she made her excuses about leaving us alone. Said she was spending the night over at Jodie's and not to expect her home until late the next day.

As Destiny Jane and I started eating, I heard Starr Ann turn on the outside water spigot before she rode off. And when I checked later, all those jugs were missing.