Friday, December 4, 2009

Grub For The Soul

My best friend Starr Ann and I were a little gung ho at the outset of our cattle drive, I guess, because we made a pact to stop at no restaurants along the whole trail. Not even a health food store.

Not far across the Indiana line, I remembered Sanra, an innerestin' beauty from New Albany who'd once spent a whole summer working her brown-eyed magic on Starr Ann.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Moment By Moment, In Rubicon Time

To me and my best friend Starr Ann, crossing a bridge is as full of romance as opening a letter, dropping off to sleep, abandoning a desire, making eye contact with a stray dog or performing any act guaranteed to put you in a whole 'nother place.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Codependency Rocks!

My best friend Starr Ann thought it'd be cool to measure stuff all along our cattle drive, so before we set off she hopped on the Internet and ordered these gadgets for the horses to wear. They're supposed to count the number of steps the horse takes and calculate distance based on the length of the horse's average stride. I think she pretty much wasted her money, but you can't really tell Starr Ann a thing isn't going to work once she gets it in her head that it is.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Git Along Little Doggies

Let's just say my best friend Starr Ann and I have been on a really long cattle drive, okay? And let's fire things up here again by us telling a few tall tales about all the amazing sights we saw out there in them wide open spaces.

Monday, November 9, 2009

What's Wrong With Us?

Seeing as there are only three chapters left in Grand Theft Equine, Starr Ann and I have been revving up to start posting on a regular basis again. So, we were doing some cowgirl image searches, right?

We were both shocked that neither of us remembers this picture of Jane Fonda from Cat Ballou.

We don't remember this one, either.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dona Nobis Pacem

My best friend Starr Ann and I spent much of yesterday brainstorming over what to say about Peace for this year's BlogBlast.

In the morning, while we were cleaning stalls, Starr Ann had herself an idea that featured me writing a poem about Peace. Well, after hearing me try out a few lines, Starr Ann realized she'd overshot. Can I help it that Peace so temptingly rhymes with grease, police, and almost with squeeze? Anyway, no poem.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Down On The Night River

The reason my best friend Starr Ann and I got fired from that bookstore when we were younger is that whenever someone came up to the Customer Service Desk and asked for assistance finding the Self-Help section, Starr Ann would just wink and say, "You can count on me not to show you."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Member Fatigue (or) How Does Your Garden Grow?

An innovator in nearly everything she does, my best friend Starr Ann has some unusual, yet highly successful, gardening techniques. That's why I encouraged her to enter the incredibly popular and competitive annual tomato growing contest in our town this summer.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammo

We were kinda hyped Saturday afternoon as time drew near for that "Open Carry" church meeting out on Valley Station Road. If you'll remember, Starr Ann had eased Jodie and me into the idea of attending and taking our own guns - toy six-shooters and holster for Jodie, plastic AK-47 for Starr Ann, and a hot pink water gun for me.

The only thing that wasn't settled yet when it was almost time to leave was what I was gonna fill that water gun with. Holy water had been mentioned, but it wasn't really a Catholic service. It was getting late, and we didn't want to miss anything, so I was just about to settle on plain water when the idea hit me. Astroglide - the personal lubricant and moisturizer guaranteed to broker a smooth agreement over any friction that may arise between you and your favorite silicon accessory. It took us mere seconds to load up and head for church.

First thing we noticed there at New Bethel Church was a line of people waiting to have their firearms checked for ammunition. The flyer had specifically said no ammo.

For some reason, nobody really acted like they wanted to talk to us. Starr Ann tried to find some common ground by sighing real loud and saying, "I can't believe Michael Jackson's dead!"

That made everybody around us stop for a second, but then they started back up talking only to each other again pretty quick.

When we got close to the front of the line, we could see the church volunteers up there inspecting guns. They were serious as heart attacks as they carefully took each person's pride and joy and handled it like it was the perfect instrument for spreading God's dear love around.

All of a sudden it was our turn!

The man looked up at us and said real loud, "You gotta be shittin' me."

Everything got so quiet, it started feeling like church used to feel when we were little and the nuns forced us to go. Then a guy that turned out to be the pastor, Pastor Pagano (yes, take off the 'o' and you're left with Pagan - truth is stranger than fiction). So, Pastor Pagano rushes up to us all smiles and asks what's going on here.

Jodie said, "We're attending your Open Carry service, just like everyone else." She patted her toy holster. "And we brought our guns."

Pastor Pagano got a little flushed and you could tell he wasn't coming up with any ideas that might get us the hell out of there without him admitting his fondness for the Second Amendment outweighed that for the First Amendment.

Then this woman wearing a T-shirt with a Knob Creek Gun Range logo on it walked up. She kinda brushed the man of the cloth aside and gave all three of us a good lookin' at. She honed in on me and got this wide smile on her face. "Sorry, ma'am. Can't allow you into the service with ammunition in your...gun. Rules."

Dang. No way was I willing to waste that amount of Astroglide. No way.

I said, "But it's only a watery fluid. You're serving refreshments in there, aren't you? People will be drinking water and soft drinks and coffee, won't they?"

"Yes, ma'am. But in the case of that weapon, it's considered ammunition, and the rules say no ammunition."

Well, we're not the kind of cowgirls to stick around too long after being asked to leave. At least not once they get us on a technicality. Anyway, we'd made our point, so we mounted up and were ready to head back home, when this teenage girl came over and asked to pet the horses. We told her that'd be fine, and while she was out of her family's earshot, she told us about this alternative service they were holding over at Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church.

Starr Ann asked her what kind of alternative service?

The girl had all the details. Her eyes got all light, and she said, "It's being put on by Interfaith Paths to Peace and about a dozen other spiritual and peace groups. They're calling it Bring Your Peaceful Heart...Leave Your Gun at Home, and they're having it the exact same time as this service. It's open to the public, and they're having games, poetry, art, music, and readings about peace from the world's great religions."

Jodie looked over her shoulder at the gun crowd all absorbed with their weaponry again. When she turned back, she said, "What's your name, sweetheart?"

Not taking her eyes off Oatmeal, who was enjoying having his muzzle rubbed, she said, "Karen."

Jodie said, "You'd rather be at the Peace Service, wouldn't you, Karen?"

"Yes, ma'am, I guess so. I better go on, now. Thanks for letting me pet your horses."

Instead of going home, we decided to head on over to Thomas Jefferson Unitarian and check it out.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sunday Go To Meetin' Clothes

My best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) came sauntering in this afternoon with that one look on her face. The one where you just know she's about to grab the reins and take the horses in a whole 'nother direction.

She waited until Jodie got back from the kitchen before telling us her news. Seems there's a church just south of here planning on having what they're calling an "Open Carry" church service this weekend. Yep, that's exactly what it sounds like - a church full of gun-totin' religious people.

Starr Ann even had a flyer, which I highly recommend clicking on to enjoy the full effect of the chamber artistically overlaid on the parchmenty copy of The United States Constitution:

Anyway, Jodie, Starr Ann and I were having a good, cynical laugh over the whole thing when Starr Ann's laugh kinda wound down far enough for her to say, "We're definitely going to attend."

Jodie got real serious, real fast and objected, "Honey, Darlin', this is going to involve many rednecks, with guns, in an enclosed space. Our goal should be to remain outside that space. See?"

Poor Jodie. She's only been Starr Ann's sweetheart for a year and a half, so while she's great at picking up on the nuances of Starr Ann's disposition, she hasn't quite mastered the sub-nuances yet, which is exactly why as Starr Ann's lifelong best friend, I grasped before Jodie did that there was absolutely nothing on the Goddess's green earth gonna stop Starr Ann from going to church with those scary Second Amendment people.

Naturally, we couldn't allow her to go alone, so we finally said okay.

Starr Ann's reply was a huge smile and a hug for both of us, followed by, "Now, let's saddle up the horses and head on over to the toy store."

From the smiles on our faces, she realized right away we'd taken her wrong, and she amended that to, "The one where they sell children's toys."

Dang. Talk about two disappointed cowgirls.

Turns out, Starr Ann not only wants us to show up in all our lesbian cowgirl glory, she wants us to be packing. Guns. Toy guns.

Once Jodie and I just gave ourselves up to the whole idea, we kinda started having fun with it. Jodie went with a traditional fake-leather holster, the kind that ties around the thigh, and shiny silver six-shooters. I decided on a bright pink water pistol that I'm not sure what yet, but I think maybe I'm gonna load it with something a little more original than plain water. Of course, Starr Ann just had to have the most authentic looking toy AK-47 anybody ever saw in their life.

So, we're all set for church on Saturday. Wish us luck.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Let's Get Excited!

You know how you and your friends bat emails back and forth all day, trading funny pictures and pointing out weird, outrageous or bizarre news pieces? You know how entertaining it is to get going on a string of emails where everybody's just so hilarious, irreverent and off-the-wall you find yourself laughing out loud at the arrival of one message, only to have to groan at the next?

Well, I've noticed that's not only a great way to pass time at the keyboard, it's also a great way to evolve ideas.

There's also a brand new Web site where you can do the exact same thing. Paladin, our esteemed Posse pal, has been working her butt off to make the GLBTQ department of A World of Progress Teamzine something special. In fact, the entire talented, dedicated team of Progressives over at AWOP has done an inspired job of creating a place to exchange and evolve ideas.

I heartily recommend visiting AWOP and jumping in on the commentary. The AWOP team has done their part, but the next move is ours. If you have an innerestin' take on politics, the environment, being gay, being straight, being human, etc, please click on a comment button and join in.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tumbleweed Intelligence

When my best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) was very little, we were watching a Western movie one afternoon and she asked, "How do the tumbleweeds know when it's time to come to a ghost town?"

It would've been a shame to offer a linear, logical answer to a question of that caliber, so I said, "Because tumbleweeds are the smartest plants on Earth. In fact, a tumbleweed's intelligence is matched only by its athleticism."

Well, Starr Ann's eyes went all wide and she got that one look on her face (yes, the little thing came pre-packaged with that look!) and then she nodded her head once, real satisfied.

Actually, that was the conversation that got us started on structuring our outlook on a lot of things. Like religion. The very next day, we decided not to believe in any religious characters who wore robes. No, anybody who wanted to be part of our spiritual beliefs had to show up dressed for action. So, the Robes Rule basically wiped out all those scroungy Old Testament figures, which was cool with us. Most of the New Testament people had to go, too, which was very freeing.

Not Mary. Starr Ann and I always liked The Blessed Virgin Mary, who was a lesbian. We could imagine everything about her, even how nice she smelled. And Joseph. Joseph, we realized, was a gay man. They had a marriage of convenience. And Jesus was real. We liked Jesus a whole lot and never once believed he had anything to do with all the damage Christians caused.

The pope wasn't real. In our minds, the pope was just a variation of the man behind the curtain pulling the levers in the Wizard of Oz. Toto was real, though.

The whole Santa Claus thing was implausible to Starr Ann and me. From the elves, to Mrs. Claus, to the logistical nightmare of delivering billions of presents in one night, to all those phony aliases like Kris Kringle, and Father Christmas. Santaism was totally made up. But the reindeer were real. Rudoph was real.

How did I get blown off course with religion? I wanted to talk about tumbleweeds.

Anyway, about a week after Starr Ann and I had that initial tumbleweed talk, she asked, "Margo, what do tumbleweeds eat?"

I said, "Why don't you tell me, Starr Ann?"

She thought for about half a second and said, "They eat the dirt flying around ghost towns."

I was real proud of her at that moment, and said, "Of course! That's surely it."

Well, over the years Starr Ann and I have built up quite a body of Tumbleweed Lore. Most of it came from Starr Ann. Like the fact that tumbleweeds don't poop. Also, tumbleweeds are real fearless. They don't think anything of tumbling off cliffs, or rolling right through a stampeding herd, or jumping into a river and getting carried off on its current for a few miles. Helicopters are the tumbleweed's only natural enemy. Tumbleweeds really hate helicopters. And when tumbleweeds die, their souls go to beautiful wind farms in the Netherlands.

Plus, all tumbleweeds are female. That's why, even though they indulge in a sexual act they call a blow job, the tumbleweed meaning of that phrase bears no resemblance to the human version.

Anyway, what got me thinking about tumbleweeds is the fact that it must seem like Happy Hands Ranch has become a ghost ranch, we've not posted in so long. Thanks, by the way, for the inquiries about our absence.

Well, it's not tumbleweed time around here, it's just that reality-based activities intervene sometimes. Heh.

But Starr Ann and I are not only alive and well, we're enjoying Spring and the animals and each other. I think there'll be more regular posts in the weeks to come, but you can never really predict something like that.

One morning last week, we visited the barns at Churchill Downs, trying to get a shedrow photo good enough to use for posting chapters of my other novel. None of the pictures turned out to be just right, so we're going back this weekend and try the afternoon lighting. Wish us luck, because I'm going to start posting a chapter of Grand Theft Equine every Sunday morning, starting in two weeks. It's a book chock full of lesbians, racehorses, and racetrack life. If you tune in, you should feel right at home right away, since the first chapter features a cute girl, with a splendid butt, wearing chaps. Just sayin'.

I'm not starting the book this Sunday because it's Easter. Starr Ann and I hope everybody has a lovely Easter Sunday!
(the Easter Bunny is real)

Monday, March 23, 2009

The 69th Law of Thermodynamics - Hotness is Relative

Starr Ann sniffed the air and said, "I smell bowling alley."

Right away, I knew what she meant. That special blend of alley varnish, concession stand and ball wax is a hard aroma to forget. And, around here, when that smell sneaks up on you in a non-bowling situation it usually means Claire Norma Jeeter-Smith isn't far away. For some reason, Claire Norma took the idea into her head a few years ago that wearing bowling shoes is the ultimate fashion statement. Real bowling shoes. Old rentals she bought from the actual bowling alley. Anyway, if there's anything a couple of optimists like Starr Ann and I are willing to admit is hopeless, it's that it's possible to get the bowling alley smell out of real bowling alley shoes.

So the minute Starr Ann said that, we both started looking around for Claire Norma. I was the one to spot her standing alone over by the edge of the dance floor.

Claire Norma's build is pretty darn proportional to a pear - short and stubby, real broad and round at the base, sloping narrowly upward to the shoulders, with tightly curled short hair that makes her head keep that narrowing effect going all the way to the top. If Claire Norma sounds like the kinda girl you'd pass right over as you scope out the bar, then I guess I described her pretty accurately.

Which brings me to an uncomfortable subject. At least, it's one that gets Starr Ann and me squirming a little bit. Does our reaction, or lack thereof, to Claire Norma make us bad lesbians? I mean, if we were any kind of upright lesbians, wouldn't we find all women beautiful? And not just on the inside?

"There she is, Starr Ann, over by the dance floor."

Starr Ann said, "Seems kinda far off for us to be picking up the shoes this strong."

I had to agree with that.

Well, just as Starr Ann and I were about to head over there like we always do, so Claire Norma wouldn't be all by herself, we both realized Janie James was standing right next to us. Your eyes wouldn't exactly glide past Janie as you scoped out a bar. Just sayin'.

Anyway, Janie nodded real polite as we made way for her to get through carrying two ice cold beers, with a big smile fixed on a point somewhere near the edge of the dance floor, and wearing an aromatic pair of bowling shoes.

Dang. Hotness is counterintuitive.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Passing On The Narcoleptic Girlfriend

For some reason, I've always secretly thought it'd be cool to know someone with narcolepsy. That sounds mean, I know, but you can't really be held responsible for random things that enter your head. Can you? Anyway, it's not like I'd wish narcolepsy on somebody. She'd already be narcoleptic when I met her.

NOT a girlfriend. I wouldn't want a narcoleptic girlfriend. Now I'm wishing I hadn't even started this whole subject, because the deeper we get into it, the more I sound like a jerk. Maybe I've hit upon a real pocket of intolerance in myself here. I mean, I can imagine there are lots of people riding around with narcolepsy support ribbons on their cars who'd find me downright politically incorrect and prejudiced for being willing to hang out with a narcoleptic, yet not wanting to actually take a chance on having sex with one.

Dang. Now I'm mentally designing the narcolepsy support ribbon. It should have a deep, velvet black background with diamondy stars all over it and a half-moon with its eyes closed. And of course it would say I Support Narcolepsy.

Anyway, is it so wrong to be honest about this? I mean, I wonder how many narcolepsy supporters would have to admit they really wouldn't care to have a girlfriend with Tourette's syndrome, for example? Probably many.

And all those people would be considered intolerant by the Tourettes supporters, conspicuously recognizable by their signature bright yellow and red ribbons that blare Fuck, Yes, I Support Tourette's.

At this point, I'm not even sure why I started this conversation. Maybe I have short-term memory loss. Maybe I should design a support ribbon for short-term memory loss. It'd be orange, I think. And it would read I Support...

Anyway, for some reason, I still think it'd be cool to know somebody who has narcolepsy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mothers of Invention

All through growing up in the orphanage, my best friend Starr Ann and I used to create stories for ourselves about what our mother would be like, if we had one. We got so much in the habit of inventing our ideal mother, that to this day, one of us will occasionally begin a sentence with, "If we had a mother,she would..."

Sometime a story would come out of a dream, sometime we'd just make it up, but whatever the source, all our stories became part of this elaborate mother history we shared.

Anyway, here are a few of our mom stories and our approximate ages when they popped into being.

(3-year-old Starr Ann)(made up) Our mom would think of real fun games to play with us whenever it stormed, just so we'd get used to liking rough weather.

(7-year-old me)(dreamed) Starr Ann and I had two beautiful green turtles, the ones about as big around as a half dollar. Their names were Speedy and Greeny (we were little, okay?). One time, our mom accidentally stacked a bunch of cotton diapers right next to the turtles' bowl and the diaper lint made a thin coating on the water that also coated Speedy and Greeny's noses and they couldn't breathe. As much as our mom must have been hurting over finding them dead, she came outside and called us to the porch with this great big smile on her face. Our mom told us she had wonderful news. She was cleaning the turtle bowl and Speedy and Greeny jumped down into the toilet and swam to the river to be with their mother. Our mom said we should be very happy for them. Not the best way to help your children create their grief pathways, but our mom didn't know that.

(9-year-old Starr Ann)(made up)
All through grade school, whenever one of the teachers at our little parochial school would be absent for some reason, our mom was the default substitute teacher. When the sixth grade teacher had a nervous breakdown, our mom taught at our school for a whole year. Her kids loved her so much that a bunch of them used to come to our house almost every day after school, which meant we got to hang out with older kids! It was great until a couple of the wilder boys tricked Starr Ann by giving her a candy bar that was really laxative. But Starr Ann came out the winner, because our mom made those boys bring Starr Ann a real candy bar each and every day until school was out.

(12-year-old me)(dreamed) Our mom's favorite movie star was Susan Hayward. Whenever you mentioned the name Susan Hayward, our mom would say something like, "Ohhhhh, just the thought of her makes my knees weak." Heh. Just sayin'.

(13-year-old Starr Ann)(dreamed)
There was this boy in our neighborhood who was a senior in high school when I was a freshman. Our mom really liked him, but I didn't. When this boy asked me to his prom, I didn't want to go, but my mom practically forced me to. I counted every second of that miserable night and came home real early.

(young adult me)(made up)
When I broke the news to our mom that I was lesbian, I told her it was because she made me go to that prom with that boy I didn't like. Even though she's cool with me being gay, I still tell her that.

About a month ago, Starr Ann dreamed our mom got real sick and had to be put on life support. After a couple of days, she was conscious, but couldn't say a word due to the breathing tube down her throat. She kept looking at me, trying to say something. We tried and tried to guess what she meant, but she shook her head no with each guess. Finally, the nurse brought in this sheet of paper with big block letters on it, and said maybe our mom was lucid enough to spell out her message. Our mom spelled out C-H-A-I-R and pointed at me. She always did worry about how I stand up for too long when she's in the hospital, and here she comes out of a very near death episode, with a breathing tube down her throat and a feeding tube down her nose and needles in her arm and all she's thinking about is my comfort. When Starr Ann and I invent a mother, we really invent a mother.

Not that our mom doesn't have her faults and didn't make mistakes and doesn't drive us nuts at times. We added those parts to the history, too, but somehow they don't tend to stick or seem very important.

Since Starr Ann's dream where our mom almost died, we've been talking and thinking a lot about mothers in general. Starr Ann and I have just about decided nobody in the world sees their mother all that realistically. In fact, it's about as impossible to be objective about your own mother as it is to see your own image the way other people do.

Anyway, in the last couple of weeks, I've added this new scenario where even though the doctors say she's had many silent heart attacks over the years, and even though they say her lungs are awfully bad, our mom is so resilient that she's amazing them every day with how well she's bouncing back.

We love our mom.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Creepy Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal is all the GOP has? HE is their greatest hope? I've trimmed down this video of Rachel Maddow's response last night to the Republican rebuttal to President Obama's address. It's only 26 seconds long. She's real hot when she's befuddled!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Lovers' Day, Doll

Sweet love of my life
Keeper of my cowgirl heart
Hottest thing this side of white lightning

I love you for all I'm worth

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Calming Fragrance of Inner Peace

My best friend Starr Ann isn't intentionally perverse. Well, perverse is the wrong word. What I mean is that she doesn't go to any trouble to run against the grain, but sometime, a lot of the time, she just naturally does.

Like when we were in high school and studying communism. Of course, it was real easy to pick up on the fact that the nuns expected everybody to react negatively to the word communism. I guess I don't have to describe the reaction Starr Ann got when she stood up one day and said communism sounded like a very nice system for doing things. Then, to make it even worse, she pointed out that, if you think about it, a convent functions like a little communist society. It wasn't until after class, when we were walking by ourselves, that Starr Ann added she'd never recommend actually forming a communist state, because although the theory is awful pretty, there's nobody but humans to try it out on, and on a large scale, human greed would be bound to mess things up.

Anyway, right now, everybody you run into is so uptight about the economic crisis. Like yesterday. We were at the grocery. Starr Ann had bought a package of vegetarian bacon as soon as we got there, so she could walk around eating what looked like - raw pork! When Starr Ann does that, you can just hear people tisking about the fact she's gonna get worms for sure.

Dang. Now I have to decide whether to leave that part about the raw fake bacon in here or not. On one hand, it doesn't do a heckuva lot to support my statement that Starr Ann isn't intentionally perverse. Heh. On another hand, I like to tip people off to fun things to do. Okay, I'm leaving it in.

So, there we were in the grocery, and here comes our neighbor, Randy, moping down the soap aisle. Starr Ann flapped a big ol' piece of raw fake (but very real looking) bacon in her mouth and said, "Why so chipper, Randy?"

Okay, I'm thinking about just taking out that whole sentence where I say Starr Ann doesn't try to be perverse.

His surprise made him almost look perked up for a second, but then his face went all heavy again, and Randy said, "Chipper? Who can be chipper with the stock markets crashing and credit drying up and nobody knowing from one day to the next who's gonna lose their job?"

Starr Ann sucked the last bit of salty goodness out of that particular piece of bacon and said, "Now, Randy, aren't you the guy who's been complaining about your job the whole nine years you been working at the hardware store?"

Randy puffed up his chest. "Sure I hate my job. Nobody likes workin'. But I'd sure like bein' broke and hungry a whole lot less."

Well, I could see Starr Ann revving up to get Randy in a conversation that was going to twist him up good, so I grabbed a slice of Starr Ann's bacon and stepped between them. "You hungry now, Randy? Want some of this?"

You should have seen the look that rolled across that poor guy's face at the thought of eating pork worms. Soon as he got feeling stable again, Randy wheeled his cart in the opposite direction of the one Starr Ann and I were headed.

We were about to pass on by the diet soups aisle when Barbra Jayce Cramer-Tildon spotted us and rushed right over with this real dazzled look on her face. Which meant absolutely nothing, because Barbra Jayce's face no longer has a repertoire of expressions to arrange itself in. Nope. What with all the facial medical interventions she's had done and all the makeup Barbra Jayce wears, it's just about impossible for her to look anything but dazzled. Up until that last intervention, if you got Barbra Jayce real mad you could see a little something that bordered on stunned, but those days are past her now.

Anyway, we tried to hustle down the next aisle in a hurry, but Barbra Jayce just grabbed about ten cans of unseasoned water chestnut broth and ran to catch up with us. "Starr Ann! Margo! Ain't everything awful?" Barbra Jayce said, in that heavy, gravelly voice that's about as opposite as you can get from dazzled.

Starr Ann said, "Awful?"

Barbra Jayce said, "Don't tell me the economic crisis and this stimulus package business doesn't scare you half to death, Starr Ann."

Rolling a bacon slice up real neat, Starr Ann said, "Okay, I won't."

Barbra Jayce threw her hands in the air and said, "There you go, Starr Ann, acting like there ain't a thing in the world can shake you up!"

When Starr Ann popped that rolled-up bacon in her mouth, you could tell the implications would have registered on Barbra Jayce's face if only they could. But they couldn't.

Anyway, by that time, we were entering the pet section, and Barbra Jayce growled out, "Mark my words, this country's headed for disaster."

Starr Ann stopped a little ways down from the pet food part of the aisle, put her hand on Barbra Jayce's shoulder, and said real kind, "BJ, you ever stop to think that living in a financial system where people who hollow out the currency, lending and re-lending money until it's nearly worthless, are lavishly rewarded, while the ones who actually produce things of value, like food, or art, or healing, or learning, have to barely get by or else resort to credit - did you ever stop to think that a country that functions like that is already in a state of disaster? Personally, I'm ready to face whatever this correction brings."

A casual onlooker would have thought maybe Barbra Jayce had been strongly affected, dazzled even, by Starr Ann's words, but of course, that wasn't the case. Barbra Jayce paused for the slightest moment before saying, "Don't you come crying to me, Starr Ann, when you finally realize how far all that inner peace crap's gonna get you, you hear?"

Starr Ann just finished off her last piece of fake bacon and held a bottle of de-wormer up where she could see the label better, saying all distracted, "Wonder if this one's cherry flavored."

Obviously, I went ahead and left in that part about how Starr Ann isn't intentionally perverse. I'll leave it to you to decide if I did the right thing.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Instrument of Fun - Our Kinda Stimulus Package

Absent-mindedly rubbing her right forearm this morning, my best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) had absolutely no complaint in her voice as she said, "My arm feels kinda asleep from all the vibration yesterday, is yours, Margo?"

Mine was a little tingly. I said, "Nope. Not a bit. Arm's just fine. Maybe I should be the one to use it today, and you take a little time off. Don't wanna end up with repetitive motion injury, do you?"

Starr Ann limbered her wrist up, and then rotated her shoulder some before saying, "No way! I'm sure this is temporary. See?" She flexed her fingers. "The numbness is already working out a whole lot. And remember, I get to use it first today."

Dang! Starr Ann never forgets who's turn it is next.

I blew out my breath real hard, so it would make my bangs fly up the way Starr Ann always finds so funny and said, "Okay, you get started. I'll get the lubricating oil and be there in a minute."

Starr Ann had that one smile on her face as she nodded and headed out to the back porch where we left the chainsaw yesterday when we finished with it.

That's right! If there's one thing that interferes with blogging more than losing power in an ice storm, it's spending all day cutting up the debris that ice storm left behind. Anyway, Happy Hands Ranch is looking a bit more cleaned up after all our work this weekend, and I'm really hoping to get back to writing and reading everybody else's blogs in a day or two.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It Really Is A Musical

**I've been wanting to tell about this for a while now, but simply did not have the technology. Now I DO have the technology to trim an embedded video down to just a few seconds. So, please trust me, and when you come across an embedded video within this story, go ahead and click on it, watch the very short clip, and read on. Oh, and, apologies in advance to those of you without fast connections.

There's this thing my best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) does sometime. It's kinda hard to explain, and we've never, ever actually put it into words. Anyway, Starr Ann can take a perfectly normal-feeling day and turn it into what I can only describe as a real life musical. That's right! And it usually starts up something like the way it did this morning.

We were having breakfast. So far so good. Jodie went to the fridge and asked if anybody would like more milk. I said no. But Starr Ann smiled that one smile, the one that says her movements and facial expressions are about to go real big, like she's onstage. Then all of a sudden she says, "I'd like more milk, ...

Right away, Jodie and I knew a Starr Ann Musical Day had begun, but the unspoken rule is that we never, ever acknowledge it's happening, so Jodie just whisked over to the table, and with a flourish, she filled Starr Ann's glass up to the top.

Starr Ann beamed at Jodie and said with genuine admiration, "Baby, how do you make everything look so effortless?"

Closing the carton and popping it back into the fridge, Jodie said, "Why, it's nothing. In fact...

Anyway, after breakfast, as is often the case when we're in the middle of a Starr Ann Musical Day, somebody knocked on our door. We all three rushed to answer it, expecting the real fun to begin, but were kinda disappointed to see it was our neighbor, Billie Mae. Starr Ann's been trying real hard to get Billie Mae interested in something besides being over-medicated and the fact that her opposite-sex marriage is on the rocks, and last week it emerged that Billie's always wanted to learn to whistle. So that's what she and Starr Ann have been working real hard on. The second she crossed through the doorway, Billie Mae started up trying to show Starr Ann the whistling progress she'd made last night...

All kind and understanding, Starr Ann said, "See, Billie, that ain't real whistling, okay?"

Well, like always, Billie wasn't much innerested in hearing anything remotely connected with reality, so she got all teary eyed, which made Starr Ann get a little more stern and say, "Now, Billie Mae...

To which Billie Mae responded by flipping herself around and dancing off to the comfort of her medicine cabinet.

A few hours and many sensational song and dance routines later, there was another knock. This time, what I saw standing there on the porch was a little more to my liking. It was Celia Susan, wearing what might be the tightest pair of pants I ever did see. And she was doing them all kinds of justice.

Even though Celia Susan and I have suspended our physical relationship for the past several months on account of knowing we'll never really fall in love with each other and deciding maybe we shouldn't give in to the moment and risk taking the edge off our scouting abilities, you should have seen the twirl I executed on the way to greeting her while asking, "Celia Susan...

Poor Celia Susan just waltzed right up and looked at me hard with those big brown Celia Susan eyes for a second before saying, "Margo...

Dang. I might get these gallant notions in my head sometime, but I'm not insane or anything. I took Celia Susan's hand in mine, danced her around the hallway once, and said, "Sure, I'll help you make it through the night."

Well, after that number, Jodie got all caught up in the sexual tension and gave Starr Ann that one look I've seen pass between them before. Then Jodie started moving her hips mighty smooth like, and she said, kinda urgent, "Starr Ann, darlin', ...

To tell the truth, I don't think they'd have lasted until they got home to Jodie's, so I reminded them how far my bedroom is from Starr Ann's and suggested we all call it a night. That idea went over real well.

Anyway, Starr Ann Musical Days always turn out to be pretty innerestin', but this was one of the best. And breaking with tradition, it extended beyond the daytime. Late into the night, from both ends of our house, you could plainly hear...


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Holed Up. Heh.

Well, we got ourselves stranded in an ice storm. With no heat for five days, cold temperatures that swooped down to 12 degrees on Thursday night, and 24 dogs, cats, and horses that couldn't be left behind, what are a couple of cowgirls to do?

That's easy. These two cowgirls let ourselves be dazzled by the sights, excited by the challenge, and awed by the adventure.

We bundled the smaller animals in front of the hearth with us, kept a roaring fire going, carried lots of water to the horses, fluffed the stalls thick with bedding, cooked amazing food in the fireplace, and took a few pictures of the beauty and destruction.

Here's some of the destruction. That's the driveway, looking out toward our main gate. Not real passable.

We could hear loud crashing all night long, as the ice broke our trees. These bird feeders are maybe fifty yards from the house.

Even two days after the storm, we had to walk all the dogs on leashes to keep them clear of limbs that continued to fall.

To get the horses out of the barn that first morning, we had to cut away a huge piece of Bradford pear tree that had fallen in front of the door. In this picture, we'd already pulled the branches aside.

Okay, just a few more of the beautiful sights Nature left behind after her little reminder of who's still really in charge.

Oh, and just in case you ever run into a situation that seems hopeless, and you're feeling like giving up, it might be good to know that when the weather warmed up five days after the storm, this 9-foot-tall blue spruce actually stood back up.

To Oatmeal and Trickster, that warm weather meant just one thing. Sunbath!

Anyway, it was a winter storm we'll always remember, but it's great to be warm, safe, and online again.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Monday, January 26, 2009

With Idleness Comes...

Starr Ann is so very loved! After Saturday's PMScapades, look what Paladin, who's taking a little break from blogging, went and did:

Well, I was bored, see, ‘cause I haven’t been blogging and filled only 23.5 hours of my day these days. I figured I’d do something nice for Starr Ann and also protect the rest of us by making sure when those eggs start moving around, she has a comfortable place to go. Don’t worry, I also passworded the little cook stove down there. I broke the code for the password to get into the bunker and rearranged a few things and added a few pieces in. Nothing major. Still waiting on this nice little Barbaro B&W photo series I had Annie Liebowitz take for me a few years ago to finish off the hall decor. Annie – she gets distracted so easily – I really can’t complain after all she’s done for me over the years.

Plenty of room for the entire gang should things get tough. If Starr Ann gets completely out of control, we can lasso her and tie her to those bed posts. Tell Jodie no offense.

This is Starr Ann’s room.

It was tough getting the final touch in – the cheap plastic plants came with it and I just ran out of time. I knew I was about out of time with Starr Ann’s latest brush with PMS coming soon. I figure Starr Ann can find something else to go there-she’ll probably cry over it though, huh?

Love and Kisses,
Paladin, Have Hot Tub, Will Travel

Saturday, January 24, 2009

We're All Good Eggs

The nuns at our orphanage were very thorough about Sex Education. Well, they called it Health and Hygiene, but believe me, it was sex ed. It used to kinda amaze Starr Ann and me that nuns of all people were so caught up in studying the reproductive cycle, until we decided it was a lot like the way Starr Ann and I were innerested in space travel and fascinated by Pygmies. Deep down, we had a pretty good idea we'd never experience either up-close, but that's what made imagining so fun. Same with nuns and reproduction, I guess.

Anyway, there's a small reproductive tidbit I get reminded of about once a month. It's a little piece of software, called apoptosis, that gets run by a female fetus roughly halfway through her time inside mama. Already possessing each and every egg she'll ever have by that time, the little girl's body sends a signal to those eggs, telling them to commence with mass suicide. Yep! All but the strongest of our eggs commit apoptosis before we're born, leaving something like 400 of them that have to last us throughout our fertile days.

So about once a month, when Starr Ann starts showing signs of PMS, I can't help but think it seems like we've been through this way more than 400 times already. It is kinda intriguin' to discover which flavor of PMS we'll endure each month, though, I have to admit.

Like this morning, Starr Ann sauntered past Jodie and me in the living room and said, "Think I'll go try out this recipe I dreamed up. Key lime quiche. How does that sound?"

Now there was a time, and not so very long ago, when a declaration like that woulda struck terror in our hearts. But ever since we had the stove password protected, Starr Ann's cooking threats aren't nearly as scary.

Starr Ann gets real distracted during her special days, so it took about an hour for her to wander back out of the kitchen and mention, "Stove's broken."

Jodie and I just muttered something we hoped gave the general impression we'd have that looked into, which wasn't even necessary, because Starr Ann had already lighted on another swell idea.

She brightened all up and said, "Hey, why don't we get some baby chicks this Easter?"

Expertly navigating away from an outright negative response, Jodie said, "What an idea, darling. I think that definitely bears a closer look - right before Easter."

Dang! Jodie's good.

Then things got dangerous, because Starr Ann suggested we go over to Jodie's house and whip up some omelettes. She offered to use our eggs, and when she came back in carrying the carton, reading about how the eggs came from cage-free hens who don't get antibiotics, and who eat organic food, that set Starr Ann's hormonally imbalanced thoughts going on whether we should even be eating eggs in the first place. Starr Ann was this close to clouding up with tears when Jodie and I executed a beautiful team effort where Jodie faked like she had a splinter in her finger and when Starr Ann put the eggs down to go sterilize a pin, I put the carton away real fast.

Poor Starr Ann. She was wearing us out, so we had to get rid of her for the weekend. It was almost too easy to do. We just had Celia Susan call real breathless and everything to report that the signals from Starr Ann's bunker security system were coming in all scrambled. Poor thing couldn't get saddled up quick enough to go troubleshoot her equipment.

***For an incredibly innerestin' explanation of apoptosis, check out this 1, 369-word excerpt from Natalie Angier's Woman: An Intimate Geography.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Can Spring Fever Be Fatal?

It's way too early to be afflicted with spring fever. Prolly something to do with climate change. Anyway, I could just daydream and watch this all day long.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Saddle Up, America!

Since our orphanage was Catholic, Starr Ann and I were basically raised by nuns. Well, really and truly, we raised each other. But until we learned a few tricks, the nuns were in charge.

Anyway, I guess most people have heard of Lent. Part of how Catholics observe Lent is by 'giving something up' during the weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Well, at the orphanage, the nuns used to make us all stand up in class the day before Ash Wednesday and declare what we'd be giving up. When Starr Ann was about eight, she stood up big as you please and announced with real regret in her voice that she'd be giving up lima beans for Lent that year. Only thing was, Starr Ann hated lima beans, and everybody knew it.

I personally thought that showed a lot of imagination and ingenuity on Starr Ann's part. Sister Blissie Marie thought it showed a lot of disrespect and smart-aleckness. AND, Sister for some reason suspected the idea originally came from me. So, Starr Ann and I both were assigned a Lenten sacrifice that year. To this day, neither Starr Ann nor I can really look directly at a lima bean.

So, last night, as Jodie, Starr Ann and I were savoring President Obama's Inauguration Day, all of a sudden, his message penetrated our revelry. If the man said it once yesterday, he said it eight thousand times - we all have to find a way to pitch in. Dang!

We had a long talk, and decided that Jodie's already doing her part by chronicling the Bush years in her textbook for middle-school kids.

Then we focused on me and decided that since two major areas of focus are to be education and science, the best way for me to serve will be to find a good inner-city tutoring program and volunteer to help kids get a good math and science foundation.

Starr Ann isn't saying yet how she plans to contribute, but she promises it won't have anything to do with lima beans. Heh.

And speaking of doing your part - anybody whose imagination and incentive hasn't quite caught fire yet should check out Heather's series on her extraordinary experiences volunteering in Nicaragua as part of a Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip. Even if you already know how you plan to serve in our new America, you might want to pop on over there, because Part One begins with a little vlog where you get to see a mighty cute girl.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

She See You, Baby

On the day Barack Obama's beloved grandmother passed away, in the stillness of the irony that she departed within hours of seeing him elected President of the United States, I read a comment on a news article that echoes now, as we watch this man take the life of our country in his hands.

The comment simply read:

She see you, baby, now go to your destiny.

Monday, January 19, 2009

He Would Have Been Eighty

The mind and heart soar in imagining how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would rejoice in what's about to happen in Washington tomorrow.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Children of Gaza, Run to the Angels

Starr Ann and I were watching cartoons this morning, when she stood up, walked calmly to the TV, and turned it off. Her voice had that calm, controlled quality that lately means she's fighting off tears over the children of Gaza and all the others who are suffering and dying because of someone else's politics, greed or religious beliefs.

Over the last week, Starr Ann and I will be going about our merry way, laughing, working, playing and being amazed by our animals, when something will suddenly bring home the reality of so many lives being lived in misery. Last weekend, Starr Ann read an article by Suzanne Baroud, Children of Gaza, Run to the Angels. And then I read it. And we've been wrestling with the seeming inappropriateness of our own, personal happiness ever since.

But when Starr Ann turned off our cartoons this morning, she had something more useful than guilt to discuss.

She said, "Margo, I've decided to go ahead and watch the inauguration on Tuesday."

I couldn't believe it! We've both been so sickened by the inclusion of Nazi-admiring Rick Warren having a part in the festivities, we'd decided there wasn't much for two gay women to celebrate at the swearing-in ceremony.

Starr Ann could see my surprise, of course, so she explained, "Last night, Jodie and I were discussing the horror in Gaza, and at one point, she got all passionate the way she does, you know? And she just started ranting a little bit, and saying 'What could possibly be worth all that suffering? How is it possible to see those pictures of those bloody, broken babies and not just put down the weapons? Just walk away?' And you know what, Margo? All of a sudden, this feeling came over me, and instead of feeling contempt for the aggressors of the world, I only felt like scouring my whole being for animosity and simply putting it down. Walking away."

I said, "I'm not at all comfortable with that, Starr Ann. It sounds like a recipe for letting the bad guys win. Plus, it makes me start hearing Kumbaya, and you know I hate when that stupid song gets stuck in my head."

Starr Ann said, "Yeah, intellectually, I didn't like that feeling either. And by the time I went to sleep last night, I thought I'd rid myself of it. But this morning, I woke up in the middle of this real frustrating dream."

Goddess, I love the place where Starr Ann's expression shifts to when she starts telling me about one of her dreams.

Her face got all beautiful that way and she continued, "In the dream, I had all these threads lined up parallel to each other." Starr Ann ran her fingers across the sofa seat, showing me how the threads were all lined up even. "And it was understood in the dream that I was supposed to be making cloth out of these threads. Only thing was, as long as I lined them up alongside each other, they stayed loose. And the more threads I lined up, the harder it got to keep control of them, and I was getting real angry over the fact that I was working so hard, but still didn't have any real cloth, just the same old loose threads."

I said, "Well, Starr Ann, it makes sense you'd have frustrating dreams. It's been a disappointing week."

"But listen to this, Margo. All of a sudden, that conversation with Jodie came to my mind in the dream, and when I pictured everybody laying down their weapons, everything seemed clear."

I started humming Kumbaya loud enough for Starr Ann to hear, just so I wouldn't have to be the only one infected with it.

Starr Ann kinda chuckled, and said, "What a jerk you are. Anyway, I started running threads cross-ways to the ones I'd lined up, and all of a sudden, I had cloth."

"Then what?"

"Then I had cloth."

"But what else?"

"Nothing else. It was a dream, silly."

"You're unique, Starr Ann, you know that?"

Starr Ann puffed out her chest, just like she used to do when she was little and proud of something, and said, "Anyway, we voted for the man. We bargained for change. We've entrusted certain decisions to him. If we can't find it in our hearts to lay down the bitterness we feel over Warren, how can we sit here and shake our heads over the fact that other humans can't lay down their bitterness? We're going to watch the inauguration. And we're going to resume hoping. Not blindly, and certainly not without criticism when it's called for."

I said, "Starr Ann, you're getting dangerously close to the phrase, 'Be the peace you'd like to see in the world.'"

Right then, Starr Ann took unfair advantage of my engagement in deep thinking, and tackled me. As she tickled me beyond the ability to speak or breathe, she sang our June Cleaver version of Kumbaya, the way we used to sing it around our campfires when the nuns couldn't hear:

Someones laughing, Ward, kumbaya
Someones laughing, Ward, kumbaya
Someones laughing, Ward, kumbaya
Oh Ward, kumbaya

Someones crying, Ward, kumbaya
Someones crying, Ward, kumbaya
Someones crying, Ward, kumbaya
Oh Ward, kumbaya

Friday, January 16, 2009

Run, Dangergirl, Run!

UPDATE to Like Ice Pain, Only Different

Paladin's tests came back good. That's right! Dr. No is now Dr. Yes. When last seen, Paladin bore remarkable resemblance, in spirit at least, to the picture above.

Right before Paladin rode off in a blaze of libidinal glory, at least three witnesses (Jodie, Starr Ann and me) got a look at her new business cards that read: Have Doctor's Note - Will Travel.

When the dust cleared, Paladin was long gone, and all that remained was an empty Tylenol bottle rolling around in the road.

Everyone here at The Starr Ann Chronicles just wants to say, "Good on ya, Paladin! So glad you're healthy."

Saturday, January 10, 2009