Duke’s of Hazard Dismount


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Dukes of Hazzard2


The Physician’s Assistant eyes my pinky finger carefully. She’s new, having just moved here from Alaska.  I like her already.

“So how did you do this?” she asks.

“I did a Duke’s of Hazard dismount out of the back of my flatbed. Only my little finger decided not to come along.”

“Oh.”  She tilts her head, smiling slightly, “Does that mean you crushed it, or caught it on something?”

“The thing about a rolling dismount from a truck is things happen kinda quick.  It’s hard to separate.  I distinctly remember a pop and thinking “WHOA! That can’t be good”. Then my left finger no longer looked like my right finger.”

She flexes my hand back and forth.  “Not the same?  Can you give me a little more detail?”

“I would say bent.  Real bent.  Also it turned blue. A deep ocean blue, maybe a touch of lavender. Then it went progressively green and yellow within a few days. Oh.  And also it hurt. A lot.”

“How long ago did this happen?”

“Uh.  Maybe three weeks.”

“Wow.  That long?  Why didn’t you come in earlier?”

“I figured it would heal.  Plus I’ve got nine more.  The pinky one is my least favorite.”

“Seriously, you’ve lost some mobility in this finger.  Is that as much as you can straighten it?”

“Yep.  It only hurts when you put direct pressure on the joint, but no pain when you pull on it.”

“It’s still fairly swollen.  I’m guessing you have a fracture, or the tendon has pulled away from the joint. You’re stoic. I can’t tell from manipulating it.  I’m going to need an x-ray and then we may have to splint it.  Because it’s been such a long time since the injury I’m afraid you may permanently lose some flexibility in this finger.

“Hmm, okay.  I’m more concerned about the healing.  It really bugs me in the morning, especially if it’s cold.  It aches.  If I don’t get one hundred percent flexibility in it I can live with that.  It’s not my shooting hand anyways.”

She rips off a referral sheet.  “Here’s some advice.  Maybe wait for the truck to stop next time before you get out.”

“Yeah, but where’s the fun in that?”



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The sun pours clear and true across the canyon floor shining with incandescent purity.  I call it golden light.  Finishing the last adjustment to my saddle, I swing up, pointing Lucien’s noise out into the neighbor’s field.

We walk out slowly, his giant hooves rising and falling, step by step, over a sea of thousands upon thousands of bright orange poppies.  It’s a teaming ocean of flowers.  The breeze picks up and their delicate heads sway this way and that, bowing in a sighing rhythm of nature.

My friend picks up his camera from a short distance away and starts shooting.  His camera clicks, rapid-fire, but my attention is all for my horse.  Like a tsunami his energy rises; power, impulsion, eagerness.

I turn his face into the wind.  Lean forward.  Take the slack from the reins.

We’re ready to thunder the ground.

Setting my heels to his sides we lunge forward into a huge high flying trot. The wind whips our hair.  The ground comes alive, a bright orange flame.

A perfect smile dawns across my face.

I let him go.

We fly like a comet.


Knitting for Dummies


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Knitting on

I clamp my fingers harder around the trailing edge of yarn, dip my right knitting needle down, hook the thread, bob it around the other tread, consult the third diagram in the Knitting for Beginners book for the umpteenth millionth time and then slide my thumb through the loop and pull.

The whole yarn fouls up on the needle and turns into a big crappy knot.

I let out a sizzling curse.  Again.

Butler pulls his gaze from the television and gives me a slitty eyed stare.

“I thought knitting was supposed to be therapeutic.  You don’t sound relaxed,” he says.

“I’m not.  This is way harder than it looks.  This book sucks.  I should have gotten the one for dummies.”

His eyebrow climbs. “Is this a setup?  I’m not touching that.”

“No.  Seriously.  These diagrams suck.  I can’t tell which way the yarn crosses over.  Here look at this one.  Tell me which way I’m supposed to go with my yarn, over or under?”

He looks at the diagram for a couple seconds.  “Hell if I know Babe.”


“Why are you still doing this after two hours?”

“Because.  That’s why.  I am not a quitter.  I am going to get this knitting thing if it kills me.”

“Well.  Okay.  As long as you’re having fun.  You can knit me some ear plugs then.  I prefer blue.”

I hold up a ten inch needle.  “These are good for more than just knitting Buddy.  Poke fun at your own peril.”

He smiles.  “Okay, I’m flexible.  Make ‘em whatever color you want.”

The Longest Distance between two Places is a Short Cut


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tractor wheels

tractor wheels

The New Year has arrived.  And Bruce Lee El Nino has come in with a slamming high kick karate punch.  Just as promised.

For three days it has rained.

And rained.

And rained.

This is a good thing.  A great thing even, for dry as dust California.

But not so great for UPS, FedEx and Western Propane.

You see, they all like to take the short cut, the little connecting road between the well and the second driveway.  It’s just a little hill, a pass between our road and my sister’s property. It connects our driveways to Tepusquet Road. That way they don’t have to take the extra time to turn their trucks around.

The only problem is, when it rains that road turns to pure clay.  It gets slick as snot.  Everyone in the entire canyon knows that no one but a fool would try to drive on that road in winter.  You might as well turn your vehicle into a planter.

Apparently UPS, FedEX and Western Propane don’t know that.

They all got stuck.  On the same day.  One after the other.

First Western Propane made a run for it.  In his big gas truck. Ten billion pounds of explosive device on wheels.  He gunned it.  Dude made some deep ruts trying to get up speed. Here’s a motto, if at first you don’t succeed, give it more gas. Finally had to call it a day and back out with some help when he went wheels deep.

Then FedEx came along.  In his two-wheel drive white Chevy van.  No weight on the rear axle.  No prayer that was gonna make it.  Yep.  He didn’t even pause.  Dove right into those deep ruts left by Western Propane.

He got yanked out the front driveway.

Then came UPS.  I’ll give him some credit.  He was a temp driver, barely out of diapers, and it was dusk.  He might not have noticed the crater sized ruts from the other two drivers.  He rammed himself good and tight up against the telephone pole that backs our well casing.  He waited a good half hour before he slunk over to the house to use the phone to call in the industrial sized tow truck it took to wench him out of that mess two hours later.

This morning Butler went over and parked the tractor smack dab right in the middle of the short cut.  He said the next guy that tries to go around it and gets stuck gets his vehicle buried right where he stands.

I think he meant it.

Thirty Years




“So,” Butler says raising a glass as we sit down to dinner at the Cheese Cake Factory in Thousand Oaks and lifts it in my direction, “here’s to thirty years together.”

I reach down and pick up my water glass and look back at him stunned.  “No way.”

“Yes way.  I proposed to you thirty years ago this Christmas.”

“Crap. Really?”

He smiles. “That’s not really the response I was hoping for.”

“Oh.  Sorry.”  I feel my eyes tear up.  I never cry.  At least not over normal stuff like this.  I cry when they do dog commercials on television.  “I meant to say HOLY crap.”

He laughs.

“Are you sure?”  I’m trying to do the mental math, but I’m my head’s not cooperating. I’m still recovering from a mind bending migraine. “My math’s kinda sketchy right now.”

“Yep.  Positive.” He winks. “My math’s always more reliable than yours.”

“True.”  I smile at him.  “Reliable.  I would say that pretty much defines you Babe.”

He tilts his head to the side with a softening expression, “Oh.  Here it comes.  Now you’re gonna get all girly and emotional on me.”

I wipe my eyes and try to kick him under the table but he just laughs again. “Give me a break, I’m just trying to say thank you,” my voice cracks slightly. “Thank you for carrying the load, for taking care of Mom, keeping the ranch going, working the rentals, fixing everything, for being there.  Always.  Reliable, ‘til the last breath in you.”

His smile broadens.  He nods in acknowledgement.  We raise our glasses again, clink them together, and drink.  To thirty years.

Boneless Chicken Farmer


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Boneless Chicken Ranch


“Are you going to answer me or not?”  Strangely my head feels disconnected from my body.

Butler shifts his feet slightly, leans back against the wall and gives me a silent stare.


“Or not.”



“Did you just get here?”

He ignores me. Again. I shoot him a dirty look.

“Fine.  I’m getting up then.”  I heave myself into a sitting position on the bed and slide my legs over the side in one continuous motion.  And watch as the floor comes up to meet my face.


Butler, in a flurry of action, reaches over and grasps my shoulders, halting me right before I kiss the concrete.

“Take it EASY Babe.  Jeezus.  You’re high as a kite.”

I take extreme umbrage at that.  “I am not.”

“Right.  How many times have you asked me what time I got here?”

I tilt my head and think about that for a sec. “Once.”

I don’t sound convinced.  Even to myself.

“Try five times.”

“Oh.  Well.  What time DID you get here?”

“Goddamn it Babe.”

“Well you never said.”

“You need to chill out.  You’re not going anywhere until some of these meds wear off.”

“I’m fine.  Totally fine.  You’re a worry wart.” I start to list over and Butler grabs me again before I smack my head onto the side rails.  Sitting up is harder than it seems.

“Uh huh.  Perfectly fine.  Then how come I feel like a boneless chicken farmer?  They weren’t supposed to give you general anesthesia.”

“They didn’t.  It was propo…something.  I don’t remember anything after she said “This will relax you slightly.””

He sighs.  “I married the biggest lightweight on the planet.”

I grimace.

He looks at his watch and sighs again.  Louder.  “We’re going to need a wheel chair to get you out of here aren’t we?”

“I dunno.  Depends on how good a chicken farmer you are.”



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“Babe, we’ve got a code three emergency.”

Butler yawns and cracks his eyes open a centimeter wider as he staggers into the bathroom.  “What?”

“I’m out of deodorant.”

“Damn.  Call the National Guard.  We’re gonna have a mass evacuation of the entire West Coast.”

“Not if I borrow yours.”

“Not a chance.”

“Come ON.  We’re married.  What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine.  It’s in the contract.  I have witnesses.”


“I WILL exact revenge.  I will be painful and ugly.  AND don’t forget stinky.”

He reaches under his side of the sink and pulls out his deodorant.  “Okay.  I would have anyways, but it’s always nice to hear you beg.”

“I hate you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Jeezus.  Anarchy?  That’s the name of your deodorant?”

He grins.  Wide.

“Shut up.”

“I didn’t say a word.”

Pillow Talk


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The disgruntled employees were brought down with tranquilizer darts, ending the worst pillow fight in recent memory.

I pick up a pillow and send it lobbing straight at Butler’s head.

He ducks, plucks it out of mid-air, and lobs it back, catching me directly in the face with the velocity of a surface to air missile.


“Babe, that’s the pillow that goes on your side of the bed,” I say flipping my hair back and shifting the pillow hand to hand.  He watches it, eyes tracking.

He’s helping me make the bed this morning.  This is the second morning in a row we’ve slept together.  I’m giddy.  Between his sleep apnea and my chronic light- sleeping from the migraines, we’ve been forced apart.  BUT now he’s got his new apnea machine.  AND it’s working.  Being together again is a joy I can’t even begin to describe.

“I’ve got my three pillows.  They’re on the floor,” he says looking down swiftly and then snapping them back at me.  Daring.

“Uh huh.”  I carefully set my three white pillows on my side of the bed, in easy reach, and look at him expectantly.

He pulls his one white and two brown pillows off the floor and lays them at the top of his side of the bed.

“Babe,” I say I eyeing his handiwork, “Let’s see…something in this picture doesn’t match all the others?  Oh what could it be?”

“What?” he says, the epitome of indifference.

I roll my eyes.  “Two of those are decorative pillows.  They go on top of the bedspread.  That’s why they’re not white.”

He pulls the cover over them, making a huge lump.  “Look, now they match.  Problem solved.” He grins.  Triumphant.

I snatch the stray white pillow off the top and pitch it straight at his head. Remembering to duck lower this time.

The Pits


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“So how’s the digging going?” I ask Butler as he comes in the door.  He looks beat.  He’s taken on a plumbing job in town where he’s trenching a ditch from the house down to the main sewer line connection in the sidewalk.  Of course we’re hitting record high temperatures this week.  It’s like a sauna in town.

“Like shit.  It’s hard pan after you hit the first couple feet.  I’m having to pick-axe it all the way down.  I hit pipe at three feet near the house, but it’s dropping to over five feet as I slope down toward the sidewalk.  This is going to be a beating.  I thought it would be mostly sand, but it’s almost as hard as Tepusquet.”

“You look like you went through a meat grinder.  What happened to your legs?”

He looks down.  His shins are marked all the way up by puncture marks and smeared blood.  “Dunno.”

“Great.  Can you wear pants next time?  You’re shorts aren’t offering much protection.”

“No.  I’ll melt.”


“What?  It’ll grow back.”

“You aren’t a lizard.  You don’t just regenerate.

He shrugs.

I sigh.

“How many days do you think you’ll have before you finish?”

He makes a face.  An annoyed face.


“Depends on how many yahoos come along and drive me bat shit crazy.”


“I swear every nosey neighbor in Santa Maria stops by and asks what I’m doing.  It should be fairly obvious.  I’m standing in a ditch shoveling dirt in a perfect line from the house to the sidewalk.  It shouldn’t take Einstein to figure it out.”

I laugh.  “They’re just being friendly, making small talk, you know being neighborly.

“Well it’s annoying.  I was tempted to start making up stories, you know about the voices and the bodies,  insinuating they might be next if they don’t move it.”

“Probably good idea you didn’t, especially for future job prospects.”

“Yeah.  That and the next guy that came knocking at my ditch was a Sherriff’s Patrol Officer.”

“Really?  Uh oh.”

“Yeah.  I thought crud; do we have a permit issue?  But nope, he was wondering if I saw a white pickup truck driving around with some stolen barbecues hitched to the back.  But HELLO I’ve been working in a five foot ditch.  I can’t SEE anything.”

“Oh.  Yeah.  Hmmm…as far as neighborhood entertainment you’re kind’a the pits aren’t you?”

He raises an eyebrow.  “Do you want to be the next body?”

I wink.  “Just making small talk.”