There’s cowboys in them thar hills near my homestead. Fictional buckaroos from TV and movies. Ghosts of real-life vaqueros from days long past. And present-day hotties who wrangle beeves not far from a bustlin’ freeway.
We call that last wild bunch The Luv Wranglers.
More on those guys in a bit.
My homeland, Ventura County CA abuts packed, frantic Los Angeles to the southeast, but you’d never know it. Ventura County is full of western lore and rural flavor. There aren’t many places in Southern California where you can see the beach, suburbs, strawberry fields and avocado groves, foothills and the Topa Topa mountains in one fell swoop. Our own little cul-de-sac used to be a lettuce field, and it isn’t unusual to share a busy street with a tractor.
Not far from my house, rancher Don Raymundo Olivas built a sprawling hacienda when he received a land grant of 5,000 acres in 1847. Here he raised 21 children (poor Doña Teodora) and made a fortune raising cattle to feed gold miners, and tanning hides for the military. The historic Olivas Adobe, a rare two-story adobe, is beautifully preserved and hosts Cowboys, Heroes, and Outlaw Day each June. To my hubby’s delight, however, much of the ranchland is now his favorite golf course.
To the northwest a little deeper into the hills, hearty Western men more than a century ago drove stagecoaches across a “turnpike” built by Chinese laborers and now called San Marcos Pass. They’d pause long enough at Cold Spring Tavern to change horses and let their passengers catch some grub. The structure, built in the 1860’s, exists today and serves the best chili burger ever. Every time I need a Western fix, my hubby takes me out to lunch there. Antique Franklin stoves warm us up, and there really is a cold spring tumbling nearby.
At the cusp of LA and Ventura counties, the Western movie set Paramount Ranch straddles the hills where cowboys shared “Colorado Springs” with Dr. Quinn and rode the trail in movies as recent as Prairie Fever. The Carradines did a lot of “Wild West Tech” episodes there. And I recognize it in tons of other Westerns I watch. I look for it every time. It’s a great place for a picnic or hike.
Now how about those for tailor-made cowboy names? And how’d they get their soubriquet: the Luv Wranglers?
Well, my friend, RWA writer and reporter, Kim Gregory Lamb, features their down-home wisdom in a “Dear Abby” format every once in a while in our local paper, The Ventura County Star. Kim has kindly let me share their witticisms and advice on womenfolk and romance with the fillies and friends of Wildflower Junction. These are some things local inquiring minds presented to the Luv Wranglers not long ago:
Dear Luv Wranglers : What’s one thing that a woman does that’s guaranteed to tick you off?
Rich: “When somebody dies.”
Brad: “When you’re in trouble. I’ve sent an awful lot of flowers. My florist and I sent two of his kids to college.”
When the 78th Annual Academy Awards rolled best flick nominee Brokeback Mountain down the red carpet, the Luv Wranglers had plenty to say, as you can well imagine.
Q: Will you be watching the Oscars?
When Valentine’s Day came around, Kim trusted her instincts and asked the Luv Wranglers to ride in from the range to help all the local tenderfoots rustle up some romance for their guys and gals. Here’s a bit of Valentine’s Day advice our favorite cowboys, dished up at Rich’s dining room table over Cheez-Its and beer.
Brad: “That’s Valentino’s.”
Tucker: “Every day, a man screws up, so Valentine’s Day is to fix all the screw-ups you do all year.”
Q: What was the most romantic thing you’ve ever done on Valentine’s Day?
Brad: “Showed up.”
Q: What presents should you give a woman for Valentine’s Day?
Rich: “As a cattleman, I’d say a cross-bred gift: a cross between what she wants and what she gits.”
Tucker: “Git roses. If you git ’em, like, the night before, you can hide ’em in yer truck.”
Brad: “I’d hide the roses in the kitchen cuz she’ll never look there.”
Q: What special rodeo tricks should you master for Valentine’s Day?
Rich: “We’re not sure, but there will be ropes involved.”
Q: If your relationship is shaky and you’ve been thinking about cutting it off, what do you do about Valentine’s Day?
Brad: “Work late.”
Tucker: “If it’s shaky and you’re gonna dump her anyway, might as well dump her on Valentine’s Day. She’ll never fergit you.”
Rich: “I can’t even remember last Valentine’s Day.”
Their spurs jingled as Rich, Brad and Tucker clumped across a wooden porch in dusty boots after a recent day of cattle roping.They settled in chairs on Rich’s back porch, which overlooks the Ventura backcountry, and prepared to wax poetic for Kim’s latest installment for the Star. Since not one of them has a lick of book-learning about psychology and such, they tapped their common sense and a 12-pack of Coors Light for answers.
Brad again: If we put gel in our hair and put on an Abercrombie shirt, we’d look like every other guy.
Dear Luv Wranglers: Why do guys stay with women who treat them really bad? Do they just like the chase or what’s the deal, when there’s women (who) want to treat them great?
Rich: “Guys always want what’s not good for ’em. Like mashed potatoes, chicken-fried steak and gravy.”
Well, I hope you enjoyed Ventura County’s particular brand of local color today, including our local buckaroos. And I consider myself one sure-fire lucky Star subscriber who can’t wait for Kim’s next installment. And maybe someday you all will read about the Luv Wranglers in the (somewhat fictionalized) trilogy Kim plans to propose to Blaze. Sigh. I don’t know about you, but I think an editor would be a tomfool not to go along with it. Agree?
Of today’s participants, one name will be drawn to win a copy of Midnight Bride and a Starbux card for coffee to read it by
Now…what questions would you dare to ask the Luv Wranglers?
The project she’ll be pitching in San Francisco, Marrying Minda placed first for the Central Ohio Fiction Writers “Ignite the Flame Contest” and is a finalist for the San Antonio Romance Authors “Merritt Magic Moment” Contest. And her last month’s blog for Petticoats and Pistols got syndicated by the Chicago Sun Times! She’s the gramma of the most incredible 18 month old grandson, and her current release, Midnight Bride, continues to get consistently excellent reviews. One reviewer even compared her to Diana Palmer. So all of this AND BLOGGING THIS WEEKEND WITH JILL MARIE has her as close to heaven as one can be on earth.
ORDER FROM AMAZON