When my sisters and brother and I were little, we lived in a newly built, but unfinished house on the edge of town. The streets weren’t even put in place yet. Our road was just a track through a field of yellow grass. But it was perfect for us to play cowboys and gallop our pretend horses around the trails and up and down the hills of dirt that were not yet backfilled to the new house. We pretended to be characters from the western movies of the day — Annie Oakley, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Dale Evans. But Annie was my favourite. My sister was really too little to keep up with us as we tore around on the hills of dirt, so she played Annie Oakley and guarded the house while the rest of us were out on the range.
I don’t know what is wrapped around her right hand, and I just noticed for the first time in decades that there is a doll peeking out from behind her left shoulder.
Fast forward to more modern times. When the Captain and I were on one of our trips to Baja California, we stopped to do some shopping in Ensenada. I found a puppet-style doll that I couldn’t live without. She was the Mexican version of Annie Oakley. What made me even happier, was buying the doll that had to be her partner. He is pictured in the photo below Annie.
The store proprietor told me that this doll represents the hen-pecked husband, the Honeydew man (Honey, do this and Honey, do that), but in Spanish they called this fellow a “mandelon,” because he is ordered about. What woman would not want a mandelon to do things for her? I had to have this doll!
In my novel Orion’s Gift, Sylvia is all alone in the world. It seems that her life has taken a sudden turn and everything has been going wrong for her.
She has “run away” to Baja California and is living in her VW van.
She really needs someone, so I gave her a mascot to lend her strength. Below is a short excerpt from Orion’s Gift, telling about how Sylvia came to adopt Annie.
In one shop, handmade puppets on strings hung from the ceiling. Each doll had a unique character and, like orphans hoping to be adopted, seemed to call, “Take me with you.” I fell in love with a Mexican Annie Oakley. She held a mini six-gun in each hand and radiated confidence and self-reliance. I paid for her and happily carried her home to my van. I rigged up a spot on the curtain rod behind the seat for Annie to watch over me at night. She’d be my mascot, a reminder that I was strong and could take care of myself.
You can read Sylvia’s story in my novel “Orion’s Gift.” She’s going to need Annie’s strength to face some of the challenges of being a woman travelling alone in Baja.