Tuesday, August 26, 2008

If A Duck Rode A Horse...

Of course, we've all been curious. Who among us cowgirls hasn't asked herself at one time or another: If a Duck rode a horse, what kind of horse would she ride and what would she name it?

Well, sometimes it take two blogs to mine life's intricacies. Extensive research and no small number of emails between Happy Hands Ranch and the exotically located Ducks of Happiness have led to an amazing breakthrough in the Horse of a Duck conundrum.

Meet Herbert the Horse, Duck's light purple stallion! Isn't he grand? Starr Ann and I cannot wait to introduce Oatmeal and Trickster to Herbert. He's different, but aren't we all.

And speaking of different, and in the same way we all are, if you haven't already treated yourself to Duck's offbeat, sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant writing, you might want to saddle up right away and head over to her place.

Oh, and while you're there, be sure to welcome her to The Posse. Yep. Duck's another fine woman who's hot on the trail, and she's ridin' with us!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

E is for Excellent

This is Blog Appreciation Week over at Bloggingham Palace and for some reason, Mimi honored us with one of her E is for Excellence awards. Well, we told her our E wouldn't be a silent one, and we meant it.

It's kinda like a meme award, because when you get it, you're supposed to pass it on by naming 10 blogs you think deserve an E for Excellence.

Well, Starr Ann challenged me to take things one step further. Starr Ann said wouldn't it be innerestin' to expand our bloggy horizons by picking 10 categories and then going out there and finding an Excellent blog within each one. So, that's what we're doing.

Here are our categories:

1. Horses
2. Astronomy
3. Sailing
4. Environmentalism
5. Physics
6. Flash Fiction (I think I already found this one)
7. A blog written from Iran
8. Running (human) (Heh)
9. A blog by a firefighter
10. Bartending

If anybody already knows an excellent blog on any of these themes, just shoot an email to: eforexcellence@gmail.com

Wish us luck! This might take a week or two.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dancing Queen

I knew things were gonna get innerestin' last night when the first woman Starr Ann and I saw as we entered the bar was Siqala Du Chenne, president of our town's chapter of the Kentucky Society of Line Dancing Lesbians. Siqala's a looker, and to her credit she's never let the fact that she's the leader of a group of over 3,000 dancing lesbians, that wields tremendous lobbying power within the state government, go to her head. But even with all that going for her, the sight of Siqala still makes Starr Ann want to run in the opposite direction.

See, Starr Ann has this real alluring way about her when she dances. Walking up there, Starr Ann seems about like any other adorable cowgirl with a real cute butt peeping out of chaps that fit just right. Then, say they start playing Patsy Cline singing San Antonio Rose. Well, first Starr Ann gets to swaying all light and dreamy then the music just starts to noodle right through her body and before you know it hardly nobody can take their eyes off her. I know I sure can't.

Anyway, Siqala's life just won't be complete until she gets Starr Ann to join the Kentucky Society of Line Dancing Lesbians. Every time we run into Siqala, Starr Ann spends half the night thinking up new ways to decline without hurting Siqala's feelings.

So last night, Siqala tried a new tack that nearly worked. She just swooped in on us the minute we walked in the door, hooked her arm in Starr Ann's, and swooshed her off into the corner. About three minutes later, here comes Starr Ann over to tell me she'd agreed to learn a set of steps and dance with them. Seems Siqala gave Starr Ann some sob story about how they were real short on Line Dancing Lesbians that night, what with only about four hundred or so showing up. Siqala said the floor was gonna look positively deserted. Starr Ann said Siqala's voice broke real pitiful when she spoke of how it was gonna look like acres and acres of bare wood out there on that dance floor.

I found myself a table with a good view. No way was I gonna miss a second of watching Starr Ann dance according to a set pattern, fitting in with everybody else.

Siqala had Starr Ann over to the side, teaching her the moves they'd be using for the first song and I was getting comfortable, just about finished with my first drink, when somebody comes up right beside me, puts a fresh shot of tequila and a face down unopened envelope in front of me, and says, "Mind if I sit, Margo?"

I looked up to see Lori standing there holding a fancy schmancy glass of something, so I pulled out the chair beside me and said, "Heck, no, Lori. What in the world is that you're drinking?"

Tossing a careless glance at her glass, Lori said, "Russian River Pino, 2005."

"Dang, they're serving that here at the Velvet Tipper? Seems like just a couple months ago they got that extra tap for Coors Light."

"That would have been my second choice," Lori said, and nodded in the direction of Siqala and Starr Ann. "What's up with that?"

I looked over in time to see Starr Ann perfectly imitate one of Siqala's moves, which made Siqala smile big. "Siqala's finally done it. Talked Starr Ann into dancing with the Line Dancing Lesbians."

Lori settled in, took a discerning sip of whatever that was, and said, "Well, all I know is, it's always pure pleasure to watch Starr Ann dance." Then she tapped the envelope and said, "Came looking for you two on purpose tonight, thinking you'd want to read that right away."

I had to laugh when I saw it was a letter from Lane, to Starr Ann and me, but once again mistakenly addressed to Lori's address. "After all that girl's been through, you know, it makes me happy to see she still ends up doing such teenager things, like not being able to get the address right."

Since the dancing didn't seem to be getting ready to start very soon, I went ahead and opened the letter. Lori and I read it together. Here's what it said:

Hi Starr Ann, Hi Margo!

Well, this letter comes to you all the way from Walter Reed. Things have been crazy and I haven’t had a lot of time to write. Well, I’ve been writing, but not to anyone I know personal-like. I spent a whole bunch of time in the library here and found out that I like the Internet something fierce. I found this website on how to find your congressperson and senators and such and I wrote me a few letters about my holding pattern here. Talked about a few of the things I saw over there too. And, I told them about Jamila and how there wasn’t any need to take her so soon.

Well, that got me a call from the post judge advocate. Wanted to know why I didn’t go through the chain-of-command and got kinda’ annoyed with me. Heard from someone that it doesn’t make them look real good when they have to hear about something from the back end like that. I’ve heard story after story about things gone wrong here. Suicides and stuff. Not good.

So, I spent some time talking to a few folks who hadn’t planned on needing to talk to me. Brought up the fact that they’ve kept me here so long. My leg is as good as it’s going to get after four surgeries, so they started processing me for a military disability pension. Won’t never be running any more races, but I’ll still be able to ride my horse, so I guess that’s all that matters, huh? Could be a while before I hear. What they finally decided was that my PTSD can be treated on an out-patient basis and with some medication. Medication., my ass. I’m on medication for this and for that and for another thing. Apparently, I’m a little pissed off at them here and therapy isn’t doing much. They have me lined up to see a VA counselor when I get back.

Wait, I wasn’t going to tell you that yet. Yup, I get 30 days convalescent leave while they process my discharge and pension stuff, then I get sent home. I hear tell that if I get “lucky” and get 30% or more disability, I can go to college free – with a bad limp and a lot of pain, but free.

Wanted to run this by you two. Thought I’d hop a plane to Dallas and check in with the VA there and start that therapy. Maybe stay with Jamila’s family for a bit. I wrote to them too and they want to have me for a while. I figure if I spend some time there, maybe I can hear about Jamila when she was a kid and stuff and keep her alive in me a while longer. Would you guys be hurt if I did that instead of coming straight back?

Let me know. I miss and (gulp) love you guys.


Right as Lori and I finished reading, the music got louder and the Line Dancing Lesbians were lined up and moving. It was real nice to see them all stepping and swinging and twirling in time. And Starr Ann did real good. Nobody could have told she just learned the steps that very night. Another thing nobody could have told was the magic that usually happens when Starr Ann dances.

Lori tapped my arm and said, "What's wrong with Starr Ann? I usually get goosebumps watching her move."

I said, "I know," and we just kept on watching the dancers a while. Then I leaned over and said, "So, I think there's some real hopeful signs in Lane's letter."

Lori's eyes were still on Starr Ann, so I dropped the subject of Lane's letter and went back to watching the dancing. Then the song ended and Martina McBride's Independence Day started up. Starr Ann was in line, and started moving with everybody else, but that ain't a song about patriotism, and it has nothing to do with staying in line. By the time the first 'Let freedom ring' hit, Starr Ann had broken loose and the music was working its way through her. Before it was over, half the Line Dancing Lesbians were still going through their motions, but even they couldn't take their eyes off of Starr Ann. Told you. Once the music noodles through that girl, she's a sight to see.

After that dance, Starr Ann came over to the table to say hi to Lori. She spotted Lane's letter right away, and said all in a rush, "Lane! What's she got to say? Is she gonna be okay?"

With absolute confidence, Lori said, "That girl tames about as easy as you, Starr Ann. I'm thinking that's what's going to get her through."

I totally believe that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Made Starr Ann Do This

We got this from Frannie, who got it from Lori, who got it...ultimately from Wordle.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Working the Room

Our puppy Bates was limping a little bit last night, so Starr Ann and I thought it best to take him to the animal clinic this morning.

The clinic sits on the edge of our town's ghetto. Yep. Been there since right after the Second World War. You'd think the location would kinda dictate the clientele, but that's not the case. Some things are just more compelling than prejudice and fear of the unknown. One of those things, I guess, is the bond some people share with the animals in their lives.

So, here's this little animal hospital, that still uses typewriters to keep their records, that instead of allowing folks to make appointments they take patients on a first-come-first-serve (okay, I know the lesbian readership here's gonna have a field day with that, but it's the most accurate way of describing the clinic's system) basis, that no matter how early you get there you're prolly in for at least a two-hour wait (Starr Ann and I once waited over five hours, no lie) and the waiting room is always packed.

Why do so many people go there? Depends. Some, especially people from the neighborhood, bring their animals because it's the least expensive veterinary clinic around. But reasonable fees can't explain why people fly their fancy show dogs in from as far as New York. And cost is certainly not the reason Starr Ann and I load up our critters in the pickup truck and drive for a whole hour to wait all that time to see one of the vets. Speaking strictly for Starr Ann and myself, we go for the quality of care.

Anyway, we pulled into the parking lot around ten this morning, and the place was already mobbed. Had to ride around for about five minutes, just waiting for a parking spot to open up. Finally, this SUV's backup lights went on right when we were in position to slide in its spot. By the time we got parked, Bates was fit to be tied. That boy loves sitting in the waiting room with all the other people and animals. It's like he's the host of a big party, making eye contact with the owners until they trust him enough to let him sniff their dog or cat or snake or rabbit or you-name-it.

So, as we got out of the truck, Bates was all squirmy and squeaky. But Starr Ann and I took time to check out the bumper stickers we passed on the way to the door. As usual, there was an eclectic mix.

First one we spotted read: I’m So Old I Remember When America Made Things. Not too bad, considering some of the ones we've seen there. Starr Ann and I looked at each other and smiled cautiously.

Next one, slapped real haphazard onto the back window of a battered Oldsmobile, screamed the lovely sentiment: Celebrate Guantanamo! Uh-oh.

Moving on, we came to a neat little hybrid with a tiny sticker proclaiming: A Puppy Is for Life, Not Just for Christmas.

By that point, Bates was twisting so bad in Starr Ann's arms we had to speed up, just to keep him from straining something. I caught a few others as we zoomed past them: I'm a Survivor of Roe v Wade, One Nation Under Surveillance, Dick Cheney Shoots His Friends (I knew Starr Ann saw that one too, because she snickered), and Understanding Terrorists...one bullet at a time.

It looked like we were in for an innerestin' two or three hours, bottled up with the people who ushered those opinions around. For the record, our F150 has a turquoise sticker with brown lettering that says: Cowgirls Don't Take Directions. That's because it's true. Heh.

Well, we got signed in and since all the seats were full, we had to stand up at first, which was fine with us after that long ride. Bates immediately focused on the biggest dog in the room, one of the meatier Rottweilers we've ever seen. So Bates wiggles up to this guy, whose person was an eighty-something lady with shiny hair that wasn't exactly blue, but pretty close. The Rotty bellied out on the floor just in case Bates got cold feet, which he never would, and the two of them went nose to nose. Geronimo (the rot) and his lady (Kathy) were absolutely ga-ga over Bates, which played right into Bates' hand. Once he was like this with the biggest beast in the place, all the others were just a matter of a few tail wags and cute glances. Our boy Bates can really work a room.

Turned out Geronimo was in to have a little cyst on his back leg looked at. Across from Geronimo, there sat a tall slim boy holding a tiny pup. When Bates got to them the boy, who seemed pretty shy, said he lived over in Cliffsdale (which is a housing project a few blocks from the clinic) and he'd found the puppy on his way to the store last week. He'd been doing some jobs and saving up so he could pay to get the pup's shots.

Starr Ann went over and stooped down beside this kid so she could pet the puppy. "Whatcha calling him?"

"Jack, short for Jackpot."

Starr Ann patted Jack's head once more and came back over by me, since the kid seemed uncomfortable with the attention.

Over in the corner, there was this great big white guy holding an older brown poodle all wrapped up in a yellow blanket. I had the guy pegged as the most likely candidate for driving the Understand Terrorists...one bullet at a time car. I think Starr Ann did too, because she kinda kept Bates busy on the other side of the room, away from that guy. But then the first two seats to get vacant were right next to him, and it would've been a little obvious if we hadn't taken them, so we ended sitting right next to this big redneck-looking man who would most likely just as soon step on a couple of lesbians as look at 'em.

Bates continued to suck up all the attention in the waiting room, which kept the spotlight pretty much on Starr Ann and me too. So, people were asking us about Bates, and telling us all about their pets and things were rolling along pretty friendly and smooth.

Then, since that man was near us, some of the spotlight leaked over on him. Geronimo's lady asked, "What's your poodle's name?"

Well, you don't usually picture conservatives having soft, loving looks on their faces, but this guy just lit up as he looked down at his dog and re-situated the yellow blankie around her shoulders. He said, "Her name's Prancy, because when she was young, she could prance with the best of 'em." Then, just as unconcerned as anything, he bent forward and kissed Prancy on top of her brown curly head.

We spent the whole rest of the time before Bates got called back hearing about Prancy's condition. Seems she has this real complicated heart condition that needs close monitoring. Besides all the expense that Clay (how's that for a perfect redneck name?) has gone to for Prancy, he's put in an incredible amount of time bringing her to the vet twice a week, once for her treatment and once for a check to make sure her meds aren't harming her. When the technician came out to take Prancy back for her treatment, Clay kissed her head again right before handing her over.

Geronimo had been called back a few minutes before they took Prancy, so we got to see which car his lady, Kathy, got into. Ready for this? Kathy was the Celebrate Guantanamo driver. Tell you what, bumper stickers don't reveal half as much about the prejudices of others as they do about your own.

Bates is fine. They think he just twisted a hip muscle, so he's got anti-inflammatory pills and a muscle relaxer. Goes back for a re-check in two weeks, unless it looks like he's not improving. In that case, we're supposed to take him back right away.

Walking out to the truck, we saw Clay driving off, and there was Prancy's pretty little face right beneath his, between him and the steering wheel. We were right, by the way. Clay was the Understand Terrorists...one bullet at a time guy.

Once we were all settled in the truck and Bates had decided whether he wanted the window open or closed (open, of course), Starr Ann looked over at me and said, "You know, I always think of them as hating us because of who we love, and us being disgusted with them because of who they hate."

I nodded. "Yep. Gets murky when you have to realize they're capable of love too."

Starr Ann turned the engine over and sighed real big as she said, "Guess as long as we're seeing it in us and them terms, nothing's going to change much."

I had no illusions about how hard it was for Starr Ann to reach that conclusion. And I'm sure she'll be her old self and back to thinking up ways to torment Republicans real soon. But the shades of gray gained a little space in her spectrum today. Mine too.