Saturday, December 8, 2007


The Holiday Hawk is back, although it has been deleted from Wikipedia as advertising spam. I was struck by Sierra Mist's decision to return this commercial, given how inflammatory it will appear to those who wilfully misconstrue the word "holiday" as an assault on Christmas. (These same people, of course, forget that Christ was not born in December and the assignation of Christmas to that date was an assault on pre-Christian religions, the ultimate in cooptation.)

I have a hard time believing this angle has not been discussed at Sierra Mist, and they have consciously chosen to go with the majority on this one: Wishing someone "Happy Holidays" is a respectful way of extending good will without forcing them into YOUR religious expression. I don't remember the "Seasonal Squirrel" from 2006 -- if it's new, it's a clever extension of the theme. Makes me want to go out and buy a Sierra Mist on the spot. And if this is the thin edge of the wedge, bring it on, baby.

And -- speaking of pop culture and waaayyy too much time watching TV, here's a site that Geek Monthly calls the "obsessive TV geek's wet dream": Crossovers and Spin Offs Master Page at Poobala. Here you can find out if there's a cross between Angel and Star Trek Universe, between Flintstones and Bewitched, between Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, between Murphy Brown and The Nanny, between St. Elsewhere and Oz.

A bit of explanation offered by the site's creator, Thom Holbrook: "When shows crossover or spin off other shows the implication is that those shows share a reality. If The Jeffersons and Archie Bunker can meet each other they clearly are part of the same world as opposed to Archie Bunker being able to turn on his TV and watch The Jeffersons. Now when you figure in that many shows do LOTS of crossovers with various shows that can lead to tons of shows all theoretically being part of the same reality." You can then click on a link where shows are listed by their shared reality. (Note: Having a "dream sequence" about a character in another show does NOT count as a "shared reality".) Oh, and in the examples listed in the opening paragraph? The answers are No, Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. Go to the site for details.

Thanks to Kat for the link to Sarah Lyon's Female Mechanics Wall Calendars. The 2008 Female Mechanics Calendars include full-color photos of each mechanic "along with bios telling their stories of how they got into the non-traditional labor field of mechanics. Found mostly through word of mouth, the calendars include automobile, motorcycle, hot rod, jet airplane, helicopter, bicycle, and diesel truck and bus mechanics. The project challenges stereotypes of the typical tool-girl, pin-up calendar by showing women working in their shop environments."

After a week in which flat-earther Sherri Shepherd insisted on The View that "B.C." had no meaning, that "Jesus" came before all other religions existed, it's a relief to find the words of Francesca Grifo, head of the scientific integrity program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Interviewed by Danielle Maestretti in Utne Reader, she has light to shed about methodology, scientific literacy, media balance and political manipulation in Pseudo-Science Debunked.

Utne's Science and Technology Blog also brings us details of a new study from Yale University which "suggests that babies as young as six-months old can tell the difference between helpful and unhelpful creatures". There's a link showing the video used in the study and a link to the original article in New Scientist by Roxanne Khamsi. According to Utne, "Almost all the babies in the experiment preferred the helping blocks. In order to make sense of the experiment, the babies needed to know that the block wanted to go up the hill. This suggests that babies are able to understand other people’s intentions long before they can mutter their first word. The study also suggests that that very early in human development, people learn to like nice people." And those few babies who DIDN'T prefer the helpful blocks? -- they have a future in whatever Cheney takes up after surrendering the Vice Presidency.

("Not Out of the Woods Just Yet", linoleum cut by Raymond Verdaguer)

I also want to recommend a recent interview with Thom Hartmann at Alternet How Liberals Can Speak Without Boring Everyone to Tears, written by Onnesha Roychoudhuri.

Here's one excerpt I particularly liked: "There are two types of conservative... There are the predator cons. These people, probably because of some variation on obsessive compulsive disorder that has focused itself on money, are willing to harm others, to steal from others in order to enrich themselves, and they're so sociopathic that they can still sleep at night...I think we need to acknowledge that some of these conservatives are actually predators. They're sick people."

He talks about the need to contradict attempts to manipulate our fear with laughter -- "loud, sustained laughter" -- and the value of referring to Iraq as an "occupation" rather than a "war". Or fighting the Republican re-framing of inheritance taxes as "the death tax" by re-reframing it as "the rich kids tax".

And regarding strategy, he suggests:

"We must become the media. Since Reagan stopped enforcing the Fairness Doctrine and the Sherman Antitrust Act, and then Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act, the media has become this monolithic monster. We have about 90 percent of everything that Americans see, hear and read, outside of the Internet, coming through the filter of fewer than a dozen corporations. Before Reagan came into office, it was more like 60 or 70 corporations, which still wasn't all that great. And if we lose 'Net neutrality, we may find the same thing will be the case with the Web over the course of a very short number of years. So, we need to become the media, at least over the short term.

"This is very much like the American Revolution. The media was relatively centralized, in as much as people had to answer to King George III for anything that they said in the media. There were three major areas: There were women's groups that would get together under the guise of sewing together, there were men's groups that got together, mostly in bars. Sam Adams is most famous for this. They all plotted revolution. Then, there were these pamphleteers who were nailing things to trees in the middle of the night. That's what we need to do. We need to be the ones who, over Christmas dinner, at the water cooler, are sharing with friends, neighbors and co-workers, the reality of what's going on in the world.

"If every progressive in America could reach out, to change the stories and recalibrate the vision of just ten other people, we could easily hit a critical mass that could change this country. This is how women's suffrage came about, how the Civil Rights Movement came about, the end of the Vietnam war, and the direct election of the Senate in 1914. This is how every major movement in the United States happened."

Consciousness-raising is certainly how the Second-Wave of the Women's Movement occurred -- not university classes or mass events, but small groups of women in living rooms talking things over. I haven't seen chat rooms or blogs effectively replacing it, because there we have to endlessly deal with the reactions of those who have not a clue what our shared experience helps us understand.

It isn't just, as Paula Gunn Allen said, "The root of oppression is loss of memory". It's that memories begin as shared reality, and the current liberal condemnation of "separatism" as a forbidden implement in our toolbox is a perhaps not so accidental way of keeping key target groups whose voice is not fairly represented elsewhere from finding each other and defining their/our own route to change.


Friday, December 7, 2007


(Peregrine Diving on Starlings, photo by Manuel Presti)

The following is an excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates. If you are already a familiar reader, begin below. If you need background, check the links in the sidebar on the right, third time down, to get caught up.

Christmas dinner 2002 -- Gillam is 12, Margie is 14; Allie's mother arrived to live with Allie the week before Christmas

Myra kept a watch out for Allie's car. When it pulled into the carport, she walked out front to greet their guests. It took a bit of engineering to get Ms. Billups out of the back seat and upright at her rolling walker. She headed the wrong way down the driveway and had to be gently herded back toward the sidewalk that led to the house. She looked much, much older than her 65 or so years. When she stopped to shake Myra's hand, she was already out of breath. Edwina was walking behind them, looking frazzled.

Myra could not see a single point of resemblance between Allie and her mother until Ms. Billups spoke. Her voice was more quavery, but had the same pitch and timbre as Allie. It was a little unsettling. When Myra had everybody in the house and seated in the living room, she went into the kitchen to make drinks. Ginny was doing last minute dinner things and said "I'll be right there, one more basting."

"Where are the kids?"

"Hiding on the landing would be my guess" said Ginny, wiping her hands. She walked back out with Myra, giving Edwina and Allie hearty kisses and bending over to shake Ms. Billups' hand. She helped Myra hand out glasses of mint tea to everybody.

Myra walked to the base of the stairs called up "Margie? Gillam?" There was a scuffling sound on the risers just out of sight, then Margie said "Coming right down." Myra waited on them and walked behind them. They didn't completely disgrace themselves, remembering to shake hands deferentially and say their own names. Gillam shoved his hands deep into his pockets and stood stiffly, a series of jutting, awkward angles that Myra wished Ginny would sketch at least once. Margie sat down in the chair nearest Allie and actually tried to join in the conversation.

But even Myra was having trouble finding a place to jump in.

Allie said "On the flight here, we flew over so much snow. More snow than Mama said she'd seen in her whole life."

"One of the things we do here in Seattle, if it's clear, is check to see whether Mount Rainier is 'out', as we call it, and how much snow is on the slope" offered Ginny.

Ms. Billups looked confused.

"Mount Rainer is the big mountain just outside of town, visible from almost any high place in Seattle." said Myra.

"I'm not from here" said Ms. Billups. "This tea tastes funny, is this Luzianne or Lipton's?"

"It's mint tea, Mama. Made from spearmint leaves."

"Oh. Well, I'm not sick, don't listen to what lies that woman told you, I don't need no medication."

"It's not a medicinal tea, it's refreshing" said Allie.

"I'm right in my body and I'm right with God, and all I want, Allie, is for you to get right with God so we can see each other in the hereafter, sitting in God's glory. If I have to spend all eternity knowing that you are suffering the everlasting torments of brimstone searing your flesh, well, please, honey, don't do that to me." Ms. Billups began crying in a thin voice.

Gillam's eyes were almost popping out of his head. Myra nodded at him sharply to sit down.

"We are going to eat in just a few minutes, Ms. Billups" said Ginny gently, putting a hand on the old lady's where it trembled against the leg of her walker. "We made turkey with the kind of dressing Allie said you liked. We have two kinds of cranberries, because my son likes the kind from a can and my daughter like the kind with real berries."

Ms. Billups looked up at that and said "These are your children? Good-looking children. Where's the daddy?"

Allie sighed and said to Myra "I've told her ten times."

Myra said "These children don't have a father, Ms. Billups. They have two mothers; I'm their other mother."

"Ain't right" she muttered. "Every child needs a father. I hope God forgives me for what I've done."

Margie jumped in suddenly. "You'd think having two mothers would mean I'd get a lot more clothes and make-up and stuff like that, with double the women, but it's just the opposite for me. I had to make a federal case to get just a lipstick."

This was not helping, but kudos to Margie for behaving normally.

Ginny stood up. "I need to pull out the turkey and let it sit a bit before we carve it. I could use one or two pairs of hands for other chores."

Myra looked at her and shook her head. Gillam jumped up and walked into the kitchen. Edwina put her hand on Ms. Billup's hand and said "I'm going to go help with the serving, Mama B."

After they left, Ms. Billups turned to Allie and said "That gal know you're a woman? You're not hiding anything under them man clothes, are you?"

Margie loved this, broke out in a giggle.

"She knows I'm a woman, Mama. That's why she chose me."

It was going to be a day of avoiding topics, Myra thought. She leaned in and said "Ms. Billups? What was Christmas Day like when you was a girl coming up?"

"Well, now, it wasn't about buying things and showing off, not like now. It was about observing the birthday of our Lord...." She was off. It had been so long since Myra heard this kind of spiel, she was actually ready to listen again. And it was a first time for Margie, who hung on every word. Sensing a genuine audience, Ms. Billups gave up some of the hectoring note in her voice and relaxed into storytelling that was frequently hilarious or poignant. When Ginny called them into dinner, Allie looked much better and Ms. Billups let Myra help her negotiate her walker.

They gave her a spot at the head of the table, with Allie and Edwina on either side. Ginny sat at the other end, for kitchen access. Myra snagged the chair at her right, waving away Margie, who rushed around to sit on Ginny's left, next to Allie. Gillam slid in between Myra and Edwina, the crowded side of the table.

As usual, before the meal they all took hands and sat in a moment of silence. It was just a moment, though. Head of the table privileges apparently included leading the prayer -- or maybe it was just her sense that nobody else was going to do it. "Jesus, look down on this table today..." Ms. Billups began. Gillam involuntarily squeezed Myra's hand, and she squeezed back.

It was as long a harangue as Myra remembered from her childhood. After she was done, with "In Jesus name, we pray", Ms. Billups dropped her hands into her lap. Everybody else, though, kissed the backs of the hands they were holding, tenderly, with eye contact. Ms. Billups watched in confusion, then reached out a trembling hand to Allie who took it and kissed it sweetly. Ms. Billups bent her head over and kissed her own hand. She was instantly flustered, and Margie laughed out loud. "I used to do that all the time, Mama B!" she cried. "It's hard to remember where you're supposed to kiss."

Myra tried to catch Margie's eyes and send her some signal about the Mama B name, that it was for Edwina, not them, but Margie wasn't looking her direction. And Ms. Billups didn't seem to notice one way or the other.

Myra had worked hard on some of the dishes, making them taste as Southern as she could manage. The difference was noticeable to Gillam, who dug in -- extra butter. Pork in some of the vegetables, the ones Ginny could live without. But the turkey was Ginny's alone, and it was spectacular. Eating together is one of the most ancient of human bonding rituals; feeding each other is a way of making peace and extending family. They fell back on it in gratitude.

After the edge of hunger had lessened somewhat, and everything had been tasted, conversation picked back up.

"Now, you -- " said Ms. Billups, pointing to Myra a little confusedly, as if she wasn't sure how to tell Myra and Ginny apart except Myra was fatter -- "You Allie's best friend, right?"

"Yes maam." Margie was tickled by the "maam", Myra could tell.

"You from Texas, that right?"

"Yes maam. But my people moved into Texas from all over the south, including a batch from Monroeville, Mississippi."

"Monroe County just over the state line from Red Bay" said Ms. Billups.

"Yes maam, I know" said Myra.

"What you people's name?" the old woman asked, her eyes sharpening.

"The ones from there were named Armstrong, Fuller, and Basinger" said Myra.

Basinger scored a hit. "I knew some Basingers" said Ms. Billlups. She didn't need to say white Basingers. "They had kin in Mississippi; the kin would come over to our area when I was a girl." Her voice had become very shuttered. She was looking only at her plate.

Myra looked to Allie, who had no answer. Myra reached under the table, took Ginny's hand, and said "From what I know, Ms. Billups, the Basingers in my line were not good people. From what I know, they was in the Klan. From what I can guess, if they traveled somewhere, it was not a good thing for the places they traveled to."

Gillam had stopped eating.

Ms. Billups looked at her, then. This was not a dinnertime topic, and yet it had arrived at the table with them. In an apparent nonsequitur, she asked "What church you belong to?"

"I was raised Southern Baptist, maam. But I left it behind when I was thirteen. I now consider myself a Jew." Myra skipped over the Quaker and Buddhist parts. On Christmas Day, with Ginny beside her, she was a Jew.

"A Jew?"

"Yes, maam. My partner here is a Jew, and we are raising our children as Jews."

Ms. Billups looked around the table. Not just outnumbered by white people, but white Jews.

Finally she said "Only Jews I ever met came through when I was a young woman, trying to get people registered. They came in on buses. We stayed away from 'em."

Myra looked at Margie and said "Freedom riders." Then said to Ms. Billups "Yes maam. Until I moved out of Texas, the only Jews I met were other lesbians. Then my cousin married a Jewish man and converted."

"So there's two Jews in your family of Baptists" said Ms. Billups.

"Well, more than that, now" said Myra. She wanted to add "We tend to spread" just to hear Ginny's laugh, but she knew it wouldn't work with Ms. Billups.

"Well...all right, then" said Ms. Billups. Myra was struck by how well this woman tracked. She was definitely not the raver Allie had been told she was. And she was holding her own in a very alien environment.

Except for the food. The food was homestyle. And Myra's accent, which had returned full-throttle without her noticing it. Margie was determined to try out every vowel and softened consonant later.

The children got up and cleared the table, bringing back dessert plates. Edwina put pies on the table, so many different kinds that each of them could have had one pie for their very own. Which Gillam clearly thought would have been fine by him.

After everyone was served, Ms. Billups began a little preaching: "I was saved the first time when I was very tiny, barely able to walk up to the front of the tent, but Jesus called me and I went. Then I lost my way for a long time. I was saved again on the 15 of July, 2001, and I am going to hang onto this line, this light, straight into heaven. Jesus is my personal savior, he died and was arisen to lead sinners like me on a direct line to God. I serve a risen savior..."

"I know that one!" exclaimed Myra. She brought all activity at the table to a halt by bursting in a fervent hymn:

"I serve a risen Savior, He's in this world today;
I know that he is living, whatever men may say;
I see his hand of mercy, I hear his voice of cheer,
And just the time I need him, he's always near."

When she got to the chorus, Ms. Billups joined her, singing not just the main lines but also a little back echo.

"He lives, (he lives), He lives, (he lives), Christ Jesus lives today.
He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart.
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart."

The very high note on the final "lives" made Myra throw back her throat and spread out one arm. When they were done, Gillam could not have looked more astounded if Myra had sprouted tentacles. He was leaning a little away from her. Ginny was fighting hysterical giggles, and Margie was clearly trying to memorize some of the lyrics she'd just heard. Allie's forehead was laid in her hands, but she was grinning, as was Edwina. Ms. Billups had a beautiful flush on her face. She chortled and pointed her fork at Myra "Now he heard you sing that song!"

"It's a rousing hymn" agreed Mya. She went back to her pie.

Everybody was much more raucous after that. After dinner, Allie took her mother to Myra and Ginny's bathroom. In a minute, she poked her head out the door and motioned to Myra. "I left a bag in the back seat, it's got some things we need" she whispered. Myra scurried out and got it while everyone else was putting away food and cleaning up. Ginny was making plates to send home with Allie's family.

The bag contained adult diapers, Myra could see. When she knocked at the bathroom door, Allie reached one arm out and took the bag. Myra thought about how at the ends of our lives, other people have to deal with our shit for us. Perhaps the main argument for family. She felt a pang of empathy for the future Margie and Gillam, with her and Ginny as old women to contend with.

They were in the bathroom quite a while. Allie opened the door, finally, holding the liner from their wastebasket tied up into a bundle. Myra walked over, took it from her and said "I'll deal with this, you help your Mama." She walked it out to the can by the carport.

When she came back in, Allie and her mother were settled back on the sofa. Margie and Gillam had joined them -- she thought Gillam was there because they were talking about what TV show to watch. Myra went on into the kitchen to wash her hands at the sink.

"If I take Edwina back to my studio, are you going to feel abandoned?" asked Ginny.

"Not at all. She could use a break. I'd send Allie, too, if I could. I'm enjoying her mother."

"Clearly" said Ginny. She pushed her hips up against Myra, pushing her back against the counter, and said in a low voice "When you began singing about how Jesus lives in you? It got me really hot".

Myra was momentarily chilled, until she realized Ginny was kidding. She relaxed and giggled. "Gillam may never trust me again. It's like I had an alien erupt from my stomach."

Ginny began kissing her neck, murmuring "You're a Jew-lover, did you know that, you Jew-lover?" Myra returned the kisses until things got a little heated and they remembered Edwina standing nearby, looking away with a grin.

They pulled apart and Myra joined the TV crew, who had allowed Ms. Billups to choose her favorite show. Myra was relieved it wasn't a religious service. She sat down next to Gillam on the love seat and had trouble staying awake after only a few minutes. When she heard snores and looked around to see Ms. Billups slumped over sideways, sacked out, she put a cushion under Ms. Billup's head, then one under her own head and gave herself up to a nap.

Ginny woke them all up an hour later. "You tryptophan wusses" she said. "Shall we play a game? We have lots of board games."

Allie shook her head to clear it. "No, we need to go home. We got some things to deal with" she said. "But bless you for this dinner, and this gathering." Her voice was fervent.

"Edwina's got plates of food that will cover you for tonight and tomorrow" said Ginny. "Tomorrow afternoon we're having our annual Boxing Day tea." She said to Ms. Billups "The day after Christmas, all of our friends who are in town gather to drink hot tea and eat yummy pastries and talk, with the pressure of the holidays behind us. We'd love to have you here."

"Well, now..." said Ms. Billups. Myra said "You can let us know whenever, or just show up. It's very relaxed."

As she hugged Allie goodbye, Myra whispered "I think she just didn't have anybody who wanted to listen to her. If nobody's listening, you might as well talk to God."

"We'll see how it shakes out over time" said Allie. "But that hymn? You scored big with her."

"I'm surprised you didn't join in. If she knows the lyrics, you must too."

Allie grinned. "Edwina was already dealing with as much as she could handle."

As Myra stood in the doorway, Allie ahead of the walker to keep it from skittering down the driveway, she heard Ms. Billups say "Allene, did I thank the Jews?"

"You did, Mama" said Allie.

Myra shut the door, laughing, and went in to see what pie was left.

"Can we watch TV again?" said Gillam.

"Only if it's one of my holiday four" said Myra.

Margie groaned. "Please not 'It's a Wonderful Life'."

"Okay, that leaves 'Boystown', 'Meet Me in St. Louis', or 'White Christmas'" said Gillam, pulling the videos from the shelf.

(Scene from "Choreography" in White Christmas)

Ginny, walking in with milk for Myra, said "I vote for the latter. I love the 'Choreography' send-up." She bent over to kiss Myra and added in a whisper "And I know Rosemary Clooney has the same effect on you as Doris Day."

Myra said "Rosemary and Doris are both from Cincinnati, Ohio."

Laughing, Ginny settled in beside Myra, saying to Margie and Gillam "What are you waiting for? There's pie on the counter."

Early February 2003

After dinner was cleared and the dishes were done, Gillam and Margie disappeared upstairs while Allie had a last cup of coffee before she and Ginny went back to her studio to have their weekly art meeting. Allie whispered "I know it's not a dessert night, but I've got a sweet tooth -- you have anything handy?"

Myra went to the cupboard and came back with a pack of caramel McVitie's. "I can't use these for pie crust" she said, "Eat all you want."

"Ah, McVities" said Allie. "I remember when you discovered them -- or rather, was introduced to them. You ever hear from that gal?"

"Not in years" said Myra, a little nervous.

"Which ex was this?" said Ginny amiably.

"Kat. Kat Whitaker" answered Myra.

"I've not heard that name, does she still live in Seattle?" continued Ginny, still in an easy voice.

"Never did, she was from San Fran" said Myra.

"Summer of '78?" asked Ginny.

"Yeah. Right when I got there" answered Myra, stopping herself because she worried about offering too much information.

Ginny took a sip of tea, then said "Go ahead. I'd like to hear this story. I thought Mimosa was the summer of '78."

"Well, eventually" said Myra. "The first week we were there, though, we went to a performance by this theatre troupe of four short Jewish dykes -- can't remember the name of their group, can you, Al?"

"No, but I think it had 'short' in the title. They was something, though" said Allie.

"It was in a big room that I don't think was a real theater, just a clear space on one end and a buncha benches" said Myra. "And it was all original material. One of the performers -- now her name I do remember, Hillary Carlip -- she had a hobby of collecting shopping lists left behind in grocery store baskets. She'd create characters based on those lists, and it was simply amazing how much you can imagine about someone from what they write down to buy at the store. Plus, she was just a really good actor. My favorite was this woman with a severe pulled-back bun, high heels and a fancy beigy dress, someone who prolly didn't usually do her own grocery shopping. She came into the market at a clip, that kind of fast walk women can do in high heels, pushing her cart impatiently. And Hilary said the items out loud as she put them in the basket -- this woman's voice was prissy and tight-lipped. The entire list, with a big pause in-between, was 'Triscuits......Summer's Eve.' I simply lost it, as Hilary swung that cart around and staccato-strode to the check-out line."

Ginny had begun chuckling at Myra's imitation.

"I was laughing so hard, I slipped off my bench backwards, landing more or less in the lap of the dyke behind me. Very embarrassing. Allie hauled me back upright, and I turned to whisper my apology to whoever I'd landed on, and that was Kat. Short jet-black hair that stuck out straight all over, very pale blue eyes, and this wild lopsided grin. At the intermission, we chatted a bit -- well, she tapped me on the shoulder and talked my ear off -- and I didn't even have a phone number yet to give her. But after the show was over, when I picked up my pack, tucked into the loop at the top was a fold of paper with her number" said Myra.

Ginny was still completely relaxed. "As easy as that" she marveled.

"She called her that night from a pay phone" said Allie. "They went out for ice cream at Old Uncle Gaylord's, I remember because Myra said she'd bring me back two scoops of chocolate, only she didn't show."

Myra was beginning to blush. "Sorry about that. Here, have another McVitie."

Allie said to Ginny, "She was a smoker. Kat, I mean. Bisexual. And she wore dresses."

Now Ginny was startled. She focused on Myra and said "I thought you told me you'd never been with women who were sleeping with men."

"Well, I forgot about her" said Myra, nervous again. "As I remember it, that was when you were trying to find out if I coulda been exposed to AIDS. And in 1978, that wasn't an issue."

"But a smoker? And dresses? She must have been a knock-out" said Ginny.

"Well...yeah. She was an extremely considerate smoker, never in her own house, and she was very clean, washed her hair every day, so I never smelled the residue on her that usually makes me wheeze" Myra explained. "And it wasn't dresses, it was skirts. Funky big skirts, usually with baggy long underwear on beneath them, pushed up to the knees. With a political T-shirt stretched over her big breasts. She had chubby calves with a knot of muscle in the middle of each one, and she wore these old brown leather boots, soft and cracked, up to her ankle." Myra sighed in reminiscence. "She was quite the looker."

"So that was the attraction, her looks?" said Ginny, not quite casual.

"No, not the main thing. She was brilliant and extremely verbal, spoke several languages, I'll bet anything she was a Gemini" said Myra. "She was a year or two younger than me, and I was only 22, so you get the picture of how baby dyke we were. Sweet as hell. She already had a girlfriend, who was off at some CETA training for two weeks, but they were non-monog and she was up front with me about it all. When her girlfriend got back, she kinda freaked out -- we were actually clicking, me and Kat -- and Kat decided it was more important to her to deal with her girlfriend's feelings than to go on seeing me. Which I respect, and it's another indicator of what a goodie she was" said Myra.

There was a long silence, then Myra added "She was the first woman I was ever with who -- noticed when I blanked out. And tried to find out what was going on. She didn't know how, nor did I, so it wasn't -- effective, I guess you'd say. I didn't get a handle on it until way later..." She trailed off.

"Until Karin Barbaras" said Ginny gently.

Myra looked at her gratefully. "Yeah. But Kat, she cared about me more than the sex -- " Myra suddenly began crying, softly. "She's a good memory, you know? And yes, every time I eat a McVitie, I do think of her, and I hope you won't be weird about that because I don't have that many good memories, I'd like to hang onto that one."

Ginny scooted her chair next to Myra and hugged her, saying "Absolutely. In fact, now when I eat McVities, I'm going to remember Kat and send her out a bracha to wherever she is."

Myra sniffled a little more at that, leaning against Ginny. Ginny squeezed her again and said to Allie, "What were you doing while this was going on, not waiting at home for her, I hope?"

Allie cracked up. "Not hardly. I had an early morning job, short order -- Myra was frying doughnuts then, too -- and we was both making five bucks an hour. The room we found cost us $65 each in rent, including all utilities, and even though we was working 20 hours a week, we was rolling in money. I mean, do the math. They didn't take taxes out because it was part-time jobs. During the first week, I went to a performance at the Artemis Cafe that had Gwen Avery -- "

"Ahh" said Myra. Ginny looked at her, and Myra said "Both Gwen, who was a volcanic performer, and the Artemis, a woman-only space. They had a big bowl of corn chowder with half a bagette and a cup of tea for a buck fifty. I spent a lot of time there."

"Well, at that concert" continued Allie, "I met Donnie. She was a tilesetter, already in the union -- "

"Huge woman" said Myra appreciatively.

"And J.T. had said I could play the field while she was out on duty, 'long as I didn't get attached somewhere else. Which was easier said that done. Donnie plain stole my heart" said Allie reflectively.

"Nawlins dyke" Myra told Ginny. "Quieter than Al here, but talk about deep."

After a long appreciative silence between Myra and Allie, Ginny asked Myra "So, how did you come to be with Mimosa?"

"Well, after Kat and I stopped seeing each other, which was only two weeks later, me, Al and Donnie went out to SF State for a film festival on women authors because there was a black women writers documentary showcase. The only one I remember was Toni Morrison -- hadn't read anything by her yet, that's when I went out and got Sula. Damn, what a read that was. Anyhow, we were out front afterward talking and this woman in a manual chair zips by, rolling right over my foot. I sat down on the sidewalk, moaning in pain, and said something like 'Fuck, I think my big toe is broken.' The wheelchair dyke says 'Oh, gosh, that must hurt so bad' and I didn't think, I just glared up at her and said 'Yeah, how the fuck would you know?' There was this ghastly silence around us, and then Mimosa -- it was her, of course -- busted up laughing. She later told me she knew right then I'd treat her like a real person, not a fragile crip. Well, she insisted on giving us a ride home -- we'd taken public transpo because there's no parking out there, but she had a van with a lift -- and by the time we dropped off Allie and Donnie, I'd gotten interested enough to go out with her to this Chinese-run burger joint on Market, near where she lived."

"Happy Boy!" exclaimed Allie.

"That was the name of the burger joint" explained Myra to a confused Ginny. "Great cheeseburgers and fries."

"So, come the end of August, you two have to say goodbye to your new sweethearts and come back home?" prompted Ginny.

"No, before that" said Allie. "We had all this money saved up, we bought a camper shell for the back of my little Toyota pickup and headed off to Michigan right before Myra's birthday."

"I turned 23 in Avoca, Iowa" remembered Myra. "The entire town smelled of cowshit."

"We'd taken turns crying, heading west on 80, from the Bay Bridge to Donner Pass" said Allie. "It was kinda nuts, to leave two good wimmins like that behind. But, well, young and stupid covers it. Once we started coming down from the Sierras, though, the adventure took over. Michigan was another whole chapter -- Myra here hooked up with Skyrivers."

"Oh, god" moaned Myra. "I'd had two pieces of good luck in a row, I was due for a fall." She whispered to Ginny "When she came, she'd yell out 'Oh, mama, mama, please, mama', but then she denied she ever said it."

"Did she mean you, like that kind of mama, or her own actual mother?" whispered Ginny back.

"The second" answered Myra. "Plus, she didn't believe in killing anything, including mosquitoes or fleas that were biting her -- "

"Or bodily bacteria, from the smell of her" said Allie, waving her hand in front of her nose. They were all starting to laugh.

"I slithered away after just 24 hours and stuck close to Allie. When we got home, we still had money left over. I'd sublet my place and gotten someone to turn in my unemployment claims for me, so I had a nest-egg waiting on me. Allie crashed with me until she found a new place, and that's when I was able to buy my Honda" said Myra.

"Skyrivers gave you something, what was it again?" asked Allie.

"Giardia" said Myra ruefully.

Ginny glanced at the stairwell and said in a soft voice "If one of them is eavesdropping, they've just gotten enough to keep them gobsmacked for a while."

Myra said in a louder voice "And that's when I became Rajneesh for a year, walking around airports in orange clothes, trying to sell incense for a buck and persuade people to let me tell them about enlightenment."

Ginny giggled and shushed her. Myra said "Look, the McVities are all gone. I have some Penguins, should I break those out?"

Ginny shook her head, but Allie said "I'm making another cup of coffee, just tell me where you've got 'em hid."

12 March 2003, Wednesday

Sima and Chris came over for dinner on Wednesday, bringing two pounds of salmon and more yellow chard from Chris's sister. Myra had already started red beans and rice, so Chris broiled the salmon while Sima enlisted Gillam and Carly's help in pinching out tollhouse cookies. Myra steamed the chard with tabasco and a bit of vinegar added to the steam water, a trick Allie had taught her.

After dinner, Allie and Ginny headed back to her studio for their art meeting. The kids all went upstairs with handfuls of cookies to finish homework. Myra, Sima and Chris settled in the living room to talk.

"You look more panda-ish than usual" remarked Chris. Myra always had allergic shiners around her eyes, but they were sometimes pronounced.

"Not sleeping well" Myra admitted. "I can't believe they gave him the go-ahead. I'm worried sick."

"Yeah" said Chris, "There's no doubt at all that he's going to attack Iraq."

"Why can't they see he's lying? All that bunch left over from Reagan, they lie as easily as they breathe" said Sima.

"The Big Lie" said Myra. "I go back and forth between believing he's a moron who's being manipulated by Gunner Dick or he's just as evil as the rest of them."

"He's born again" said Chris. "That explains it. Don't need a brain when you believe Revelations is literally true."

"Well, god better help us all if they actually do believe we're on the brink of Armageddon, because we'll be the left-behinds. They'll use Israel to start the nukes flying, because it may be the Holy Land but anybody who hasn't converted will be going to hell anyhow" said Myra.

"The whole world is gonna rise up in protest if he just barges ahead" said Sima.

"Won't matter" answered Myra. "He's never listened to anybody -- he doesn't know how. He's not just dim, he lacks the social skills to interact except as a frat boy. My friends in Texas said he's incredibly vindictive -- you disagree with him and his goons will get you, one way or another. And hell, Molly Ivins warned the rest of the country. Despite his pretending to be a bubba, he's not -- he's pure owning class, the product of private schools and his daddy bailing him out endlessly. He doesn't even have nobless oblige. I don't make this comparison lightly, Sima, you know that, but I honestly think he's as dangerous as Hitler."

Sima looked at her with wide eyes. "Does Ginny share that opinion?" she asked.

"I don't know, I just now said it out loud for the first time." Myra lowered her voice a notch. "I'm so scared for my kids' future, I don't know what to do."

Chris leaned forward and said "You gotta give it up, Myra. More than you usually do. Give it to god."

"Well, first of all, Chris, that sounds a little too much like all the right-wing rhetoric being hurled around these days. And second, god doesn't always save the good folks. Maybe in the long run, but short-term, I'm the mommy."

After a pause, Chris said "We're all looking out for those kids, Myra. It's not just you, or you and Ginny."

"I know, but -- "

"You have to get sleep. It's bad, I know things are bad, Myra. But this kind of freakout? It's old, pal. It's an 8-year-old girl trying to fight off monsters in the dark." Chris put one hand on Myra's knee. "Tell Ginny. Talk with her before she goes to sleep. Or call me, I'll leave the ringer on. I'll pray with you."

Myra's eyes stung with tears. "Okay" she whispered. Her eyes kept burning, so she stood up to go in her bathroom and wash them out. As she entered the hall, she heard sock-clad feet surreptitiously move away from the upper landing of the stairs. Goddammit -- if Gillam had heard that conversation...But she wasn't up to confronting him at the moment.

The following Saturday, Carly was back over for the afternoon and Gillam came into her study to ask if he could use her computer for some research.

"School project?" she asked, getting up from her chair.

"Yeah" he said, not quite convincingly.

"What kind of search do you need?" she said casually, sitting on the daybed as Carly pulled up a chair next to Gillam. They glanced at each other, then Gillam said "We're trying to find local clay deposits. In the Capital Hill area, preferably."

"You mean like clay you can use in modeling?" said Myra. "Why don't you just ask your mom for some, she's got bags of it in there."

"No, it's not an art project like that" said Gillam. "I just need to know where it occurs -- "

"Organically" finished Carly.

Myra definitely smelled a rat. But she said "Try the U.S. Geological Survey, see if they have maps of the area."

"Okay" said Gillam. He didn't begin typing, however.

Myra wished Ginny was in her study so she could go confer with her. Instead, she stood up and said "I'm thinking chicken cannelloni for dinner, sound good?"

"Yum!" said Gillam. She didn't hear the click of the keyboard until she was around the corner.

Her brain kept toying with the riddle the next couple of hours as she made dinner, Ginny and Margie came home, and they ate. Gillam and Carly emerged from her study after a while with some printouts, rolled up so she couldn't get a glimpse of what they had. When she went back to her computer after dinner, she checked her cache and discovered Gillam had wiped his footprints. That really kicked her bloodhound sense into gear.

She helped Ginny drain the hottub so they could scrub it out the next day, and even as they chatted, the back of Myra's mind kept saying "local clay deposits". When the water level got down to just a few inches in the tub, Ginny said "Godamighty, look at all the schmutz in there. We need to do this more often." And the Yiddish word suddenly lit up Myra's forebrain.

"Can I leave the rest to you?" she asked Ginny. Ginny nodded, moving the drainage hose so it gave maximum benefit to the yard. Myra walked slowly upstairs and knocked at Gillam's door. When he called out "Come in", she stepped inside and shut the door behind her. Looking at Gillam, then Carly, and the closed notebook on the bed between them, she said slowly "Are you thinking about making a golem?"

Gillam gasped. Carly's pale face went paler. Myra walked over and sat down on the other bed.

("Golem" by Kazuya Akimoto)

"Is this to fight Bush?" she went on. Gillam wanted to deny, but he wasn't wired for lying. Staring at her, he nodded.

She didn't know where to go with this. After a long silence, finally she said "Did you find clay?"

"Not really" said Gillam. "But -- we have the Hebrew words, we think. Please, don't tell Mama."

"I don't keep things from Ginny -- " began Myra.

"Oh, please, it's not about her. I'd rather you not know, either, because it's supposed to be between us and god, you see? It's sacred, a sacred secret" said Gillam passionately.

Myra thought about Chris's offer to pray with her. Prayers takes many forms, she thought.

After another long silence, she said "I won't tell Ginny. But I do want to talk it over with Chris. Not as a parent -- but because she is my spiritual sister in a lot of ways. I'll make sure she doesn't tell anyone else. Would that be all right?"

Carly and Gillam looked at each other, silently conferring, and then Gillam nodded.

"Have you read all the stories about the golems in Eastern Europe? Sometimes things went wrong" said Myra quietly.

"We've talked about it" said Carly. "We're pure of heart. We have faith."

She wanted to cry, then, but held it back. "Okay, listen. Go get my cell phone from the breakfast bar and look for Mara Smith's number, call her. If there's anybody who knows about clay in this area, it's her" said Myra. Gillam's face lit up. "Tell her I know about your project but Ginny doesn't, and it's okay if you keep it secret. She can call me if she needs to confirm that. And -- I think she might know something about golems, in particular . I wouldn't be surprised if she does."

"Thanks, Mom" gushed Gillam, jumping up to hug her.

"If there's any problem at all, I want you to promise me you'll tell me, sooner rather than later" said Myra.

"I will" he said earnestly. "I can't believe you figured it out. I mean, that's unreal."

"We think very alike, me and you" Myra told him. She was gratified at how this pleased him. He was still 12; she wished he would stay in mind-meld with her through the coming years, but it was unlikely. Well, the wheel would come back around, it always did. She kissed his forehead, then Carly's, and whispered "Mazel" before she left.

Summer 2003

Ginny and Allie had been holed up in her studio for a couple of hours working on several different projects Allie was applying for, had been hired to do but needed to plan out, or had begun and needed feedback about. They were about to switch over and talk about gallery options for a couple of Ginny's paintings. Allie was leaned back in her chair, stretching. Myra was visible in the pool outside, swimming laps.

Ginny said "I want to ask you a very personal question."

Allie leaned forward and grinned. "Well, you can ask."

"Way back before Myra and I got together -- why did you kiss her, that day?"

Allie hadn't seen this one coming. She craned her neck around and made sure Myra was still outside, out of earshot. She looked back at Ginny and seemed to be thinking about refusing the question.

"What I tell you? -- never a word to Myra. I know that's asking something. But if she wants the answer to that question, she needs to get it herself."


"Well, Ginny...It took a long time to figure it out myself. I was not attracted to her, not in the way I define it. And I do trust my definition, it works for me. But I -- it's hard to describe how I love her. It's like we grew up together, you know? Although nothing could be further from the truth, our childhoods are not similar in key respects -- still, it's like I didn't have the ground to stand on to be an adult until I had her in my corner. She's who you want covering your back, you know? She's the best."

"I know. When it's time to get serious, she's the rock."

"So despite the racial divide -- and no matter how good she is, that gap is always painfully there for me, I think maybe you can understand it as a Jew -- "

"In some respects, I do."

"Despite how differently we come at things, we wind up at the same place. Which is the biggest wellspring of hope you can ask for. So, even with everything in me arguing with myself all the time, I got to where I just let myself count on her. She can be an idiot and she will mouth off when she ought had not, but ask her to back up and take a look, she will. She will never stop trying, and over time, she's got one hell of a success rate. So I realized, that day, I was really deeply involved with her. Like, forever. And it was a good feeling. Not romantic, not a bit romantic."

"I can see all that, Allie. But that doesn't explain kissing her."

"No. I'm getting there. The thing is -- I've seen all these women over the years who got a look at her and decided to have a go at her. And Myra thinks they were all just drawn to her being damaged, being boundaryless, being usable. That's true for more of them than it should be. But that wasn't all women were seeing. She's appallingly transparent, much more naked than she seems to know she is. And she's beautiful, you know? She's really something. So a lot of those women were seeing something in her that really was her. They might not have been able to deal with the situation, but their impulse was good."


"Karin was a gift from god. Don't mean to stick a knife in your heart, but she was."

"It's okay, I'm not jealous. Not once I met her."

"So Myra -- she's got some really good women having a try with her. And while I didn't feel that tingle, you know, that sexual thang, I was curious about her that way because there was such a lot of traffic in her neighborhood, you dig? And we were so solid, I forgot for a minute that line of bright red buttons on her dashboard. I just thought 'Wonder what they all experience kissing you, buddy' and I leaned over and kissed her. It was impulsive and brainless. I'm sorry for what it did to her, how much more work it created for her. But it's not a bad memory for me."

"She's a good kisser" said Ginny with a grin.

"Yes, she is" said Allie. "But don't you ever tell her I said so."

"I won't, and I'd rather you not dwell on the memory of it, either." Ginny was still grinning, but this was a real request.

"You got it.

"She's coming in now. Back to work?"

Allie cracked her knuckles and picked up her pencil with a wink.

In mid August, after dinner one night, Edwina pulled Ginny aside and said "Listen, Margie's asked me to take her shopping and I told her yes. Just wanted to let you know."

"Shopping for what?" asked Ginny. Myra, who had been eavesdropping, walked over to stand next to Ginny.

"Bras. She wants something besides a sports bra, and I'm going to help her figure out what she needs."

Ginny and Myra were both momentarily speechless. Then Ginny gave a strained chuckle.

"Well, obviously, that's not part of my skillset, underwear in general."

Myra interjected "But does she really need a brassiere kind of thing? I mean, we're not talking like underwire or whatever it is, right?"

Edwina looked at her. "You daughter is, pardon me for saying, stacked. She's got Ginny's rump but shoulders like Gillam, with muscles to match, and yes, she's full-breasted. She reminds me of Lena Horne in 'Stormy Weather'."

Allie had joined them for this last bit of conversation. Edwina began laughing and said "I wish you, Myra and Allie, could see the expressions on your faces. I never knew her in diapers, but she's grown up since then. Haven't you looked at her lately?"

"I guess not" mumbled Allie.

Ginny began laughing, too. "I'm glad she had the sense to go to you, Edwina. If you wind up paying for anything, let me know how much it is."

"No bustiers" said Myra.

Ginny snorted. Allie said "Now, when Gillam needs to buy a tailored suit, I'll help him with that."

"What about jockstraps?" asked Edwina.

Allie fought not to blush. "Yes, that too."

"It won't be long" said Ginny. "He's gotten pubic hair, and he's definitely getting bigger in the package area."

Myra was scandalized. "How on earth do you know that?"

Ginny gave her a look. "He often swims nude, Myra."

"But we're not supposed to look at him!" she protested.

"He's my son, of course I look" replied Ginny. She added "And you're right, Edwina, about Margie. Crewing has really paid off for her, I'm completely envious of her biceps."


Thursday, December 6, 2007


(Women kissing at Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, photo by JEB)

It's a tough week -- lots of responsibilities elsewhere, and nothing left over to write new stuff/read things to pass on. But I do have this in the pipeline, so I'll put it up tonight for all you Ginny fans. Thanks for your support, it means a great deal to me (and to her).

The following is an excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates. If you are already a familiar reader, begin below. If you need background, check the links in the sidebar on the right, third time down, to get caught up.

August 1986, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival

Myra, Ginny and Allie flew into Ann Arbor on Wednesday afternoon of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, heavy with duffels full of camping gear. They rented a car and bought a cooler and groceries to supplement the festival's vegetarian/near vegan fare: butter, cheese, tuna, tofu sausage, gallons of juice, a Coke per day for Myra, and a pair of salt and pepper shakers. Ginny brought smoked salmon plus various herbs and home-made dressings from home. Despite desperately wanting to be there already, they were reluctant to arrive well after dark and try to pitch camp without seeing the lay of the land, so they rented a motel room and got up very early the next morning to drive north.

As they left the highway and began traveling the increasingly smaller roads that led to the festival land, they were in larger and larger streams of carloads of wildly excited women, dykey-looking women, who honked at each other cheerfully and gave each other the women's liberation fist or the V for vulva sign. At the gates, festies poked their heads into their cars, asking who they were and where they were from, then shouting to the sky "Welcome to Michigan, Myra, Ginny and Allie from Seattle!"

They parked their car, each carrying just one duffel of essential gear for the time being, and went through registration. They checked out the message boards, looking for people they knew, and signed up for work shifts. Myra and Allie agreed to do a security shift together that afternoon, while Ginny signed up for girls' childcare in the same time slot. Allie and Ginny then chose a making breakshift gig the following day, and Myra opted for a turn at the Womb during the first part of Friday night.

Poring over the map of the grounds, Myra and Ginny settled on the camping area for clean and sober women who would agree to quiet at night. Allie raised her eyebows and said "Tent walls are thin. Are they referring just to electronic noise, or do they mean the kind of ruckus you two make in bed?" Ginny blushed, a rare thing to see. Myra just grinned. Allie finally said she wanted to check out the wimmin of color camping area. Myra's face was struggling to not show disappointment. Allie punched her on the arm and said "Get over it. Like, now."

They walked through the main gathering areas, Myra explaining to Ginny how the festival ran, checking out the food prep area, the public cold showers, the main stage and day stages, the vendors' area, the girls' zone, and the Womb. Then they went on to Myra and Ginny's campsite. There Myra said "Listen, just drop the gear and let me start on the tent. You two go explore the land -- it's big, it won't be completely covered with women yet, and it's worth knowing for yourself, Ginny. Meet me back here in an hour, say?"

By the time they returned, Ginny was stark naked except for her boots and wool socks. Everything else had apparently made its way into the now-bulging pack on Allie's back. Both of their faces were illuminated with wonder and, already, that Michigan sense of sisterhood and safety. Myra had camp for her and Ginny ready.

Allie gave Ginny back her clothes and shouldered her duffle. "I'm going to head on out, you two."

"Don't you want us to go with you?" said Myra. "See where you are?"

"You know where I'll be, and you know my tent" said Allie. "I'd rather make introductions by myelf."

"...Okay. Well, we're going to catch the shuttle back to the parking area and bring up the cooler and the other duffel. We can have food and dish central here at this tent, if that's all right, since it's on your way to the main area anyhow. Come find us when you're ready, and we can go get lunch together."

Myra didn't shed clothes until they were back from the car. She, too, left on her boots, as well as a pair of shorts -- she didn't like dirt in her yoni, she said. She had a deep purple bandana loosely around her neck to use as a face mask against dust or smoke. Her notebook and inhaler were in her shorts. She insisted Ginny put on a complete layer of sunscreen, and they had a lot of fun rubbing this in for each other. Then she created a daypack with extra clothes for the chill that came with nightfall, a small bottle of Bullfrog, flashlights, soap, shampoo and towels. She filled a separate daypack with all their dishes and condiments for meals. She stacked these in a corner of the tent along with a plastic-backed blanket for them to sit on at the night concerts. Meanwhile, Ginny chatted up every woman in sight and began taking pictures.

Myra said "If you're going to take a photo of women that's more than just a background shot, you need to get their consent. If they're wearing a button that says 'Don't steal my image', they're already saying no photos."

"Because of all the nudity?"

"For some. But there's a lot of separatists who object to the objectification and theft that will occur when these photos gets developed, and also a strong contingent of women who don't participate in commercial photography because there are animal products used in developing processes."

"Wow. Makes me wonder whether I should do this."

"Welcome to Michigan, which gives you enough room from boyland to enable you to think differently" grinned Myra.

When Allie finally came back down the path, watching carefully where she stepped because she had shed her shoes, she too was naked except for a braided leather strand around her waist and the African beads she always wore around her neck. Her skin shone from a fresh application of coconut oil. Ginny simply goggled, and Myra realized Ginny had not seen Allie naked before. Almost six feet tall, strongly muscled and dark black, she was as beautiful as Myra remembered.

"How's your camp?" asked Myra.

Allie grinned exuberantly. "Lotsa sistahs. There's a great communal firepit and also a canopy we can hang out under. I pitched my little nest, then helped out some other wimmins with their stuff. I seem to be popular."

"I bet you are" breathed Ginny.

Myra grinned to herself. "You got real clothes and shoes in that daypack on your back? We need to head on to our work shift after lunch."

"Yeah, I thought of that. We need anything from the cooler to supplement lunch?" said Allie.

"Let's just see what they've got. We won't feel deprived until tomorrow" said Myra.

They began strolling to the main area.

At dinner that night, which they ate in the edge of the Womb area, Allie and Ginny swapped stories of what they'd learned on their shifts.

"There are actually jackasses on the perimeter trying to sneak in and get a look at pussy" said Allie in disgust. "I mean, how stupid can you be? I'm telling you, half our job would be to keep some of these wimmins from tearing an intruder to pieces. It just can't be that women get to be all to themselves for a week, it just can't be tolerated. Threat to whole fucking patriarchy."

"And the girls here -- they're virtually autonomous, and they've gone completely wild. They travel in packs and are completely sure of their rights -- it's incredible" said Ginny.

"No male conditioning means no sexual predation" commented Myra. "I mean, I know there is that 2% of child rapists who are women -- but the odds are in favor of the girls here like noplace else on earth."

At that point a woman yelled out "Myra!" and bounded over to them. Myra stood up and hugged her, a tall thick white woman with a black crewcut and very large breasts.

"Hey, Smokey" said Allie, reaching up a hand from where she sat. Smokey shook it, then reached a hand to Ginny.

"This is Smokey, Ginny. Smoke, this is my partner Ginny."

"Partner?" said Smokey with a grin. "I never heard you use that word before."

"The times, they are a-changin'" Myra grinned back. "Wanna sit and eat with us?"

"No, I got places to be, hook up with ya later. Where ya camped?"

They swapped campsite directions, and after another hug with a kiss right on the lips, Smokey headed toward the main stage.

Once she was out of earshot, Myra said "Her breasts have actually gotten bigger."

"I wondered" said Allie. "I mean, I only saw her that once, coming out of your bathroom."

Ginny said in a quiet voice "An ex of yours, I gather."

Myra stopped grinning quite so widely and stopped gazing after Smokey.

"Yeah. She was in that first year after I moved to Seattle." Myra couldn't think of anything else to say that she was sure Ginny would want to hear.

After dinner, Ginny said she wanted to grab a quick shower. Myra said "You can, but I don't advise it. The water comes straight up from a glacier, it feels like. I actually get headaches when I wash my hair. Better to sponge off now, and save showers for the middle of the day, when you can sit in the sun afterward and come back from hypothermia."

Ginny nodded and went to wash up. When she got back, she said "Brrrr. I can't imagine getting under that with my whole body. Warm me up, sweetheart."

Myra and Allie had washed the dishes already, so they strolled over to the bowl of land in front of the main stage. They chose a spot well away from the smoking area -- most spots were already taken, so they had to sit further back than they would have liked. Myra stretched out on the ground and Ginny immediately lay on top of her. Allie sat down beside them, not touching. The sun was nearly gone, and the air had gotten distinctly colder. Allie's nipples were hard.

("The future is female", Main stage, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, photo by JEB)

After a couple of minutes kissing Ginny, Myra sat up and said "I gotta put on another layer. And if you feel a bite through your clothes, it's a Michigan mosquito, they're big as hawks. Use insect repellent, here."

Ginny reluctantly put on pants and shirts. Allie had on pants and boots from her work shift, but now pulled on a turtleneck and a sweatshirt. After she settled back down, Myra scooted over behind her and put her arms around Allie's middle.

"Al -- I've been at Michigan without a girlfriend, and it fucking sucked. You'd think with all this sense of community, it would be okay to be single, but for me it was actually worse. I try not to think of my lesbian identity as being connected to having a lover, and intellectually it doesn't, but in practice -- I'm not there yet. So...I just want to remind you, you're my family, I adore you, and if you'll let me, I want to be just as snuggly with you as I am with Ginny."

"Not exactly the same way, if you don't mind" said Allie, putting her hand over Myra's around her.

"Well, of course" said Myra, a little embarrassed.

"How 'bout you, Ginny-Poo? You gonna be able to share?" said Allie.

Whatever Ginny was feeling, all that showed was gladness. "As long as I get to melt up alongside one of you two gorgeous Amazons, I'll be happy."

It was a little contrived at first, but by the end of the evening, all three of them were comfortably welcoming one another into easy cuddling and connection. The concert was like none they'd ever seen, surrounded by women and girls under the clear crisp stars. During one of Ginny's favorite songs, she began crying. She put her mouth next to Myra's ear and whispered "Never knew it could be this right. This is what we were born to be with each other."

Later, as they crawled into their zipped-together sleeping bag, they could hear the cries nearby of two women making love. Ginny said "Do we sound that -- urgent, d'ya think?"

"I don't know what I sound like. Sometimes you are, sometimes you're just plain screaming" said Myra. "Sometimes you're triumphant, and sometimes -- oh, god, Ginny, I'm getting seriously turned on just remembering what you sound like."

Ginny pulled Myra on top of her. "Remind me" she murmured.

Allie arrived early Friday morning to go with Ginny to their work shift. Ginny wound up peeling potatoes for two hours, while Allie was given an axe and entertained countless women by expertly chopping wood naked, finally streaming with sweat despite the morning chill. By the time Myra got up and joined them to eat, they were rosy-cheeked and had made numerous friends. During the day on Friday, the three of them split up for workshops and visiting other women except lunch and dinner, when they met at Ginny and Myra's tent and walked to the food lines together.

As they headed for dinner on Friday, Myra explained she'd signed up for a shift at the Womb during the concert because it was a time when there were generally not enough workers anyhow, and in particular her area -- helping counsel women who were freaking out about something because for the first time in their lives they felt escape from male domination -- was badly needed. Ginny and Allie assured her they'd keep each other good company.

After dinner, she walked with them over to the main stage area so she'd know where their blanket was. She sat with them a few minutes after they got settled in; she planned to return for the last bit of the concert if she felt okay about leaving her shift when it was over. Otherwise, they would stop in at the Womb for her on their way back to their tents.

Ginny felt a pang seeing Myra leave, weaving her way through the already solid checkerboard of blankets and tarps on the ground. Before Myra was completely out of sight at the periphery of the bowl, a Latina a few years younger than Ginny approached their blanket. This woman was muscular, a cafe-au-lait color with brief black curls and a dimple in her chin. She squatted down and signed at Ginny and Allie. Neither of them knew sign language, and Myra wasn't there with her ever-present notebook -- they couldn't find any writing paper in their packs. This woman pointed after Myra and seemed to be asking if she was coming back. Her face was intense. Ginny couldn't convey the information that Myra was gone until the end of the concert. Finally the woman made a flurry of signs, some of them clearly exasperated, waved at them, and walked off.

"Does Myra know how to sign?" Ginny asked Allie.

"Not that I know of" she replied.

Ten minutes later the dimple-chinned woman returned, accompanied by a young white woman with long brown hair. She signed and the white woman interpreted, introducing her as Elisa. She asked when Myra was coming back, and Ginny explained to her about Myra's schedule. Elisa looked extremely disappointed. She asked Ginny and Allie who they were, and after they identified themselves in relation to Myra, she asked "Is she the woman who led a workshop here at Michigan in 1981?"

Ginny looked at Allie, who said "Myra was here in 1981, I remember that. What kind of workshop?"

Elisa hesitated. The muscles in her arms bunched, and suddenly Ginny said "Kore's Rage. Myra did an incest survivor workshop here that year, the first one ever at Michigan, I remember her telling me."

Allie said "That's right, I knew there was something I should've remembered."

When this was translated to Elisa, she stopped standing over them and instead squatted down again. She asked them if they were incest survivors -- there didn't seem to be a sign for this, Elisa was spelling it out each time. Ginny shook her head, but Allie, after a pause, said "Yes, I am." Ginny didn't turn to look at her, but she felt a shock to her system: Allie had never told her, and neither had Myra.

Elisa reached out her hand and took Allie's in hers. They looked at each other, gripped tight. Then Elisa pulled free to sign again, with hesitant motions, lots of pauses. She told them that Myra's workshop was the first time she had ever told anyone about what had happened to her. As she said that, Ginny abruptly remembered Myra telling her about this woman. Tears came to her eyes as they did to Elisa's. She said Myra had saved her life. Ginny broke in and said "She remembers you. She has talked about you to me."

When this was translated, Elisa was visibly moved. She made a move toward to Ginny, then checked herself, but Ginny reached out and pulled her into a hug. Elisa responded for a minute, and pulled away again awkwardly. She told them she would try to come back at the end of the concert. She pointed to the section she was sitting in, among disabled women at the front left who were directly below the signers on stage. Then she thanked them and left.

"Well I'll be damned" said Allie softly as Elisa and the interpreter walked away. She lay down on their blanket, folding her arms behind her head. After a moment, Ginny lay down beside her and put her head on Allie's shoulder. Allie lifted her arm down and put it around Ginny's shoulder. Ginny was feeling sweeps of gratitude for Myra ever having been born.

They had a great time at the concert, snuggling, chatting between sets, and dyke-watching. Half an hour after her shift was supposed to end, Myra finally appeared at the edge of the bowl, waiting until one song was over before trying to reach them without stepping on anybody. By the time she got there, the next song was half done. She plopped down into the space they created between them, giving them each a kiss and whispering into Ginny's ear "I am burned to a crisp." Ginny sat behind Myra and pulled her back into her arms. At the next break, she intended to tell Myra about Elisa -- it was more than something that could be whispered briefly between songs.

Before the break arrived, however, Elisa materialized from their left, the same interpreter behind her. They sat down on the blanket and the interpreter seemed to tell Elisa to wait until the song was ended. Elisa stared at Myra almost hungrily. Myra was staring back at her. When Elisa turned and signed something to the interpreter, Myra suddenly gasped and sat up in recognition. She grabbed Elisa in a bearhug. Elisa began crying on Myra's shoulder.

Fortunately, this song was the end of a set. They were able to talk during the break, with intense feeling in their voices and motions. Elisa repeated to Myra that Myra had saved her life. She filled Myra in on how she had been able, finally, to tell her mother about her father's abuse, and her mother had believed and supported her. Elisa had gone on to spread the basic theory of Myra's workshop throughout her local deaf community. Ginny could feel Myra trembling during this conversation.

As the final set started up, Elisa said goodbye with a last hug. As the two women walked away, Myra leaned back against Ginny and Ginny whispered in her ear "I am so proud of you, I don't know how to express it." Myra burrowed into Ginny's arms and reached out one hand to take Allie's. She closed her eyes for the rest of the set.

After the concert, walking back down the trail to their tent, Myra said again "Allie -- come sleep with us. We'll be cozy together, and I just hate to see you walk off into the dark alone."

Allie laughed. "You two going to keep your hands off each other a whole night?"

"Well, no, we'll be cuddling and kiss goodnight, but if you're talking about sex -- I got no rule about when we make love, it'll be just as easy to do it tomorrow afternoon as tonight, you ought to know that about us by now."

"Before Ginny, you was so buttoned down about your love life, Myra, remember? For all the girlfriends you had, we never had any proof you all was getting it on in terms of public behavior. No daytime rendezvous that I knew about."

Ginny slid her hand into Myra's. Myra said "Everything's different now. So, come join us?"

"Nah. I've got my little tent in a cluster of some other women I like, and there's the fire pit. I'm going to sit up for a while and talk" said Allie. "But I do appreciate the offer."

"Meet us for brex here, then?"

"Affirmative." Allie gave them hugs and ambled off into the darkness.

Once in the tent, Myra and Ginny stripped naked and slid into bed. Ginny rolled on top of Myra and said "Are we going to wait until tomorrow afternoon?"

Myra giggled. "No need to, is there?" They began kissing with intent.

Myra woke up right before dawn, a common occurrence for her at Michigan when this was the coldest, dampest time of day. She wasn't chilled, but her shoulders were out of the bag and she felt exposed. She also needed to pee, and decided she couldn't wait. She got up crankily and walked to the nearby hedge of ferns to squat, wiped herself and brought the paper back to their trash bag. As she got back in the tent, Ginny awoke and welcomed her with a deliciously warm body. Her face still smelled like yoni. She murmured "Love you all there is."

Myra lay awake, thinking about her shift at the Womb. Aside from the usual string of women who had unexpectedly begun their periods, no matter where they were in their cycle, and found themselves unprepared, needing sponges or tampons, Myra had done some serious counseling of two different dykes.

One was a young woman, no more than 22, who had come to the festival with her girlfriend only to discover her girlfriend wanted them not to be monogamous during the festival, with no prior discussion. The young woman was close to being suicidal -- this was her first big relationship, and her support system was hundreds of miles away. Myra spent two hours holding her and comforting her as best she could.

The second woman needing help was even more difficult. She had both epilepsy and bipolar disorder, and had decided, on arriving at the festival on Tuesday to help set up, that she wouldn't need to take her medications while she was here. She'd gone into convulsions that afternoon, finally been persuaded to take her Dilantin, but at dinner began showing signs of going into a manic phase. She had a friend with her who coaxed her to the Womb.

Myra was not willing to forcibly medicate anybody, but she did spent an hour trying to listen to the woman's nonstop speech and persuade her that she'd have a better festival if she could sleep and calm down a little. Finally her friend had demanded medical intervention, and Myra had gone to find the doctor on call, leaving the situation in her hands. She worried about this woman now. It was so hard to know truth and safety when the outside world lied about almost everything. Male conditioning was a toxin that left a constant aftertaste. No wonder when women got here, got a glimpse of what they were living under, some of them had trouble adjusting to freedom.

Myra finally got warm again, thanks to Ginny, and drowsed off.

August 2006

All summer, Myra, Ginny, Allie, and Edwina had been planning to attend the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival together. Edwina had gone once when she was a young woman still living in Chicago. David assumed care of the teenagers at the house, but Myra secretly asked Chris and Sima to check on on them daily and make sure David wasn't overlooking the kinds of stunts her kids could pull.

None of the four 50+-year-olds felt like sleeping on the ground or dealing with some of the rigors of camping. They decided to rent two small Winnedykos, one for each couple, and park them facing each other with a canopy over the space in between. Under the canopy, they would place rented folding tables and chairs as a communal work space. Myra took her manual typewriter because she wasn't sure about keeping her laptop charged, although Edwina did take her laptop and several spare batteries. Ginny and Allie each had large suitcases full of art supplies.

They flew into Ann Arbor, made their rentals, did a big shopping run for food extras the festival wouldn't have, and spent most of the first afternoon setting up their enclave, as Myra had begun calling it. Allie sat down at the table as soon as it was ready and began drawing on a large Bristol board. This turned out to be a sign saying "Dyke Painter At Work -- No Photos, No Watching -- Don't try to talk to her, she bites" with a wonderful likeness of naked Ginny at her easel, sporting fangs and paint-daubed breasts.

Ginny set herself up in the verge just beyond the canopy so she would get full sun, and Allie hung the sign from the canopy next to it. Within a few hours, however, she moved the sign away to the other side of the canopy because so many women wanted to take a photo of the sign itself. Myra, Allie and Edwina let photographers shoot them at work, occasionally requesting that a copy be shared with them. Ginny had one canvas already stretched and gessoed in her suitcase, something she rarely did, but it enabled her to start painting immediately.

(Watermelons ready for eating at Michigan)

The second day, Allie and Myra stood in the dinner line while Ginny and Edwina walked to refill water bottles nearby. Ginny was nearly back when a tall, blond-with-silver-haired woman zoomed toward her, screaming her name. Ginny dropped her water bottles and threw her arms around the woman. They hopped up and down together, pulling back to look at each other in wild excitement, then hugging exuberantly again. Edwina picked up the bottles near Ginny's feet and brought them on to the others.

After a couple of minutes, Ginny pulled his woman to them in line. "Oh, my god, Myra -- this is DAKIN! From Greenham Common!" She jabbed a thumb at Dakin as if she had created her on the spot.

Myra took her in. She was their age, with great lines in her face and strong legs. She had on a blue tank top and jean cutoffs. One of her arms was tight around Ginny's shoulders. Myra stepped forward and shook her other hand, saying "I'm Myra Josong, Ginny's partner."

Dakin shook her hand but a tiny bit of the excitement dimmed in her. Myra heard one of the clutch of young lesbians behind them in line say in a stage whisper "That's Myra Josong! The one who writes the Skene books!"

Ginny managed to actually introduce Allie and Edwina to Dakin, but then started talking with Dakin animatedly again. Allie said to Myra "Greenham Common? From the eighties?"

Myra said quietly "Yeah. A brief thing but the best of her exes. She's from Denmark, or was then."

Allie took another look. Myra heard someone on the group behind them say "Isn't she lovers with someone else famous? Like a musician or something?" A second voice said "No, she's a painter -- oh, my god, that's her over there! Ginny Bates!" It was hard not to be distracted. Dakin was facing Ginny and had her in a grip with her hips pushed up full against Ginny's as they talked.

Edwina was not smiling. Allie said "Looks like maybe it ain't all the way over for -- what's her name, Dayking?"

Myra spelled it, then said "Um-hm. But let Ginny have her fun."

Allie looked at her critically. "You not worried?"

"Not in the least. When Ginny realizes Dakin has an agenda, it won't be pretty. I actually hope it doesn't come to that. Dakin is the one who helped wake Ginny up to her possibilities. We owe her a lot."

Allie had continued to look at Myra. "You changed, girlfriend."

"Thank god for that." Then she said "Ginny, you two get back in line, we're reaching the food."

Ginny peeled away from Dakin and pushed in front of Myra, then turned impulsively and kissed her with joyous passion. "Dakin!" she said to Myra.

"I am so happy for you. I look forward to getting to know her over dinner" said Myra.

Allie invited Dakin to cut in front of her, which Dakin did after a moment's hesitation, seeing Ginny in Myra's arms. One of the lesbians behind them said "See, I told you."

Myra was the last of their group to go through the food line. Just as she about to leave the line, she turned to the starstruck group behind them and said "Any of you take women's studies in college?" Startled, three of the young lesbians said "Yes." Myra, grinning, said "Did you ever use a textbook by Dr. Edwina Coy?" Two of the three again responded yes.

Myra pointed to Edwina walking away from them and said "That's her. And that woman beside her -- ever read the Podinqo books when you were a kid?" This time all of them nodded. "That's Allie Billups, the creator of those books. My darling Ginny you've already identified, and yes, I'm Myra Bates-Josong. We're all a family, have been for decades. So -- aim high, sisters, and treasure your friends." She gave them a wink and walked off to join her family.

But at dinner, Dakin sat a few feet away from the rest and patted the ground beside her for Ginny. Ginny plopped down next to her and they ate from each other's plates. Myra passed over salt, pepper and other goodies from their stock as she noticed Ginny needing them. Ginny looked really young at the moment, and without care.

Allie leaned over to Edwina and gave her some back story, which did not change Edwina's stony expression. They ate quickly -- they were a little late to get blanket space for that evening's concert. They talked among themselves as usual. Myra could hear Dakin's accent, which was charming, and at one point heard that Dakin still lived in Denmark, was here in the U.S. on a visit and to experience Michigan, a lesbian rite of passage. Otherwise, they seemed to be sharing memories about Greenham Common, mostly, although Ginny did talk a while about her painting and about their children.

"We better git" said Allie, gathering up their dishes.

Ginny broke off from Dakin to say "Oh, gosh, it's time, isn't it? Listen, leave us your dishes, I'll do them. You go save us a place."

"Okey-doke" said Myra, handing Ginny the dish bag. She leaned over and Ginny gave her a happy kiss. "See you there."

After they got settled on a blanket, Myra gave them a fuller version of Ginny's ex history. Edwina said, "Well, still, if you ask me, Dakin's being grabby. Rude."

"I don't know what cultural norms she's operating under" said Myra. "And she's alone, apparently, in a foreign country. And who wouldn't be gonzo over the idea of hooking back up with Ginny?"

"But Ginny's not available for hooking up with, why doesn't she make that clear?" said Edwina.

"It hasn't occurred to her that she'd need to. Ginny thinks its obvious everywhere we go that we're a unit. And frankly, it is obvious. Dakin is just trying to ignore it. I feel for her, I do. She's probably hoping that thing with exes, you know, where you get one more crack at 'em for old time sake, will work in her favor here." Myra chuckled.

"You are really not concerned here?" said Allie.

"Really not."

As if to reward her, Ginny yoo-hooed from several feet away, with a clanking mesh bag of wet dishes and Dakin in her wake. She put the bag down on a corner of the blanket and took her usual spot between Myra's legs, leaning back against her with a contented stretch. "Here, Dakin, you can sit beside us and talk to Myra, too. Myra and I have been together twenty years last June, isn't that something? And I still can't quite get enough of her." She turned her head and kissed Myra long enough to make Allie cough to cover a laugh. Edwina, finally grinning, pulled Allie back against her.

Dakin still made no effort to get into the general conversation. She answered questions, briefly, but kept her satellite dish tuned in to Ginny. Not long afterward, the MC came on stage and the evening's entertainment removed any real need to talk, although of course the four of them did, between songs and sets. Ginny would sometimes turn in Myra's lap to face Dakin and talk to her, but spent an equal amount of time facing Allie and Edwina to talk with them. During one long break, she pushed Myra down flat, lay on top of her and made out with her sweetly. Myra could tell no difference in Ginny's behavior this night from any other.

During the second long break, Ginny said "Dammit, I need to use those awful toilets." Dakin leaped up immediately. "I'll go with you."

"Save my spot" Ginny said to Myra.

"Will do."

Dakin took Ginny's hand and threaded a way for them through all the crowded blankets on the ground. As they returned twenty minutes later, Myra could hear Ginny giving Dakin directions on how to find their trailers and explaining their custom of eating breakfast as a group. Once back at the blanket, Dakin just squatted for a minute, saying she was going on to her tent, she'd see Ginny in the morning. She leaned in for a kiss, which Ginny took on her cheek. Then Dakin left.

"My turn to lean against you" said Myra, and Ginny scooted in behind her.

"She didn't know about me as a painter" said Ginny. "I mean, how well-known I've become. But she didn't remember my last name, either, so that makes sense."

"What is she doing now?" said Myra.

"Some kind of social services, I'm not sure I understood it all. She couldn't translate every word, and the way they set things up there is different."

"Any children?"

"No, and she didn't seem very interested in hearing about Margie and Gillam. I guess some women just aren't into kids."

"That's true" said Myra with a private smile. She felt Allie's toe nudge her thigh.

Allie had a hard time getting to sleep because some assholes in Camp Trans were playing music at the top of their sound system. She liked Snoop Dogg, had most of his albums, but the songs they were blasting were not woman-friendly. She wished she had taken Myra up on her offer of earplugs.

She finally dropped off, then an hour later woke back up needing to pee. She said a little prayer for the convenience of the tiny can in the trailer. She left the door open, and as she sat there for a moment, she could hear Ginny's cries of pleasure coming from the trailer next door. She grinned, thinking You may not be worried, Myra, but you're not missing the boat completely. When she climbed back into bed, Edwina was awake and said "You wanna show everybody how it's really done?" as she crawled on top of Allie.

The next morning, Myra was up, short on sleep but tending two skillets of sausage on the Coleman -- one tofu, one not -- as Allie and Edwina spread their haul from the breakfast line onto the table. Ginny already had her canvas on the easel and was looking at it with a remote expression in her eyes. She was, as always, in stark naked painter attire.

Myra heard Ginny's name being called, and looked up to see Dakin approaching on the path. She had foresworn any shirt today, and had a big bowl of granola and yogurt in front of her balancing a pair of ruby red grapefruits on her inner elbows, right next to her equally large breasts. Myra had to look away quickly to keep from laughing out loud. Allie didn't bother with trying to be discrete, and her guffaws filled the space between the trailers.

"I bring us breakfast" said Dakin eagerly.

Ginny came out of her reverie, looking a little confused. "But I told you we all eat together. This is my family, here, this is Myra, we always eat together. Sit down with us, we all pool what we've got."

Myra heard the first note of -- something -- in Ginny's voice. Ginny sat down in the chair next to Myra and took some of the tofu sausage Myra was dishing out. "You want your usual?" Ginny asked. Myra nodded, and Ginny leaned over to the cooler, pulling out Myra's milk, Allie's pineapple juice blend, and the half-and-half for Allie's coffee. Edwina already had her Cremora.

"What do you want to drink, Dakin?" she asked.

"Is that Coke in there?" replied Dakin. Ginny glanced at Myra, who nodded. Ginny handed her the Coke.

This time, Ginny kept trying to drag Dakin into the general conversation. She used charm at first, but it eventually got almost heavy-handed as Dakin refused to really open up to anyone but Ginny. Myra was a little mystified -- this was unlike any other European woman traveling in the U.S. she'd ever met. It didn't quite fit with the image she had developed of who Dakin had been to Ginny.

After breakfast, Myra gathered the dishes and trudged off to wash them. She noted Dakin added hers to the bag, meaning she intended to stick around a while. When she got back, Allie was already hard at work, and Edwina had out her files and notebooks. Ginny was setting up Myra's manual typewriter for her.

"Thanks, babe" said Myra. She put away the dishes and pulled out her notebook. Ginny pulled her into a long hug and kiss. This time, it felt not quite un-self-conscious.

As Myra sat down at her spot, Ginny began selecting tubes of paint from her case. "What are you going to do, Dakin?" she asked.

Dakin picked up a chair and set it in the verge behind Ginny's easel. "I watch you paint" she said with a grin.

Ginny stopped her sorting. " I don't like anyone watching how I paint. You can sit on this side and watch me -- " Ginny paused at that, then went on -- "but not the painting itself. Please."

With a hint of sullenness, Dakin put the chair back at the table.

Myra said "If you want to write or do any kind of art, we've got tons of supplies, just ask for what you need."

Dakin shrugged at her and turned the chair so she was facing Ginny. Allie made a little sound with her teeth. Ginny glanced at her, then picked up her palette and went to the easel. Thirty seconds later, they had all vanished from Ginny's world.

Over the next hour, Myra didn't get much done because she had never been able to concentrate around someone who was fidgeting. Dakin shifted position every minute, yawned, picked at various parts of her body, and even cracked her knuckles a few times. She kept her gaze mostly Ginny's face, hoping for a return glance, but Myra could've told her that would never happen. However, when Dakin finally stood and went over to Ginny, saying "You need a break yet?", Ginny pulled herself out, looked at Dakin levelly, and set down her brush. After a long moment, she said "Let's walk down and fill the water bottles".

Dakin jubilantly grabbed two of the bottles and almost jigged down the bath beside Ginny.

Once they were out of earshot, Allie gave a whoop and said "What do you think was the bigger sin, interrupting her painting or refusing to talk with us?"

Myra said "It was the grapefruits. Ginny has no truck at all with objectification."

Edwina enjoyed that. But Myra did not.

"Ginny's going to hate losing a sustaining myth."

Half an hour later, Myra saw Ginny returning alone down the path with all the water jugs balanced in her arms. Myra hopped to her feet and rushed to take some of the load from Ginny. Once they had them stored away at the trailer, she put her arms around Ginny and looked in her eyes.

"Did you know from the outset? I mean, that she had only one idea in her head about me?" asked Ginny in a bruised voice.

Myra waited a second. "It kinda looked that way, yeah. But I hoped things would shift."

"And it didn't bother you? You weren't jealous?"

"No, of course not. I mean, I cared for your sake...but I was safe as houses, I knew that."

Ginny put her cheek next to Myra's and whispered "You certainly are. I am so fixated on you I never dream someone else would try to make a move on me."

"Did she? Make a move, I mean."

"I didn't give her the chance. I was kinda blunt, Myra."

Myra pulled back to grin at Ginny. "Is she bleeding?"

Ginny managed a grin, but she said "Please tell me she wasn't always a player, Myra. That I wasn't just lesbian candy that summer."

"Of course that summer was real, Ginny. You know better, you know what happened. It was what it was. But sometimes people don't change over time. You outgrew her within a year or two, I bet."

"Seems like whatever direction I head in, growth-wise, you turn out to be on the same path" said Ginny, wonderingly.

"Yeah, I've noticed that too. I don't think it's an accident, our convergence."

"For me, it's a minute by minute yes." Ginny finally kissed Myra the way Myra had been hoping she would for the last little while. When they were done, she said "Will you put sunscreen on me?"

Myra took her time, working the oil into every fold and plane of Ginny's body. She would later find out that Allie was sketching this scene. Her gorgeous watercolor of it would be her anniversary present to them the next year.

When Myra was done, Ginny said "I'll need a redo later" and Myra said "I'll be here." They all went back to work. A few hours later, Ginny and Myra made the lunch run, and then they worked happily all the afternoon, listening to a distant fiddler in the woods play her way slowly through her repertoire of Scots' strathspeys.