I Have No Idea What’s Going On Over There Anymore

My gorgeous new yarn from Blue Barn Fiber is sitting in my mailbox, waiting for me to rescue it and ooh and aah over its glorious yarny-silky goodness, but I’m trapped in the house.

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Seriously, just look at that. It’s called Tide Pools, and I ordered it on a 50/50 SW merino and silk base.

But I can’t get near it because, as I figured, the Redneck Kid-Farm Rodeo is in full force out in their front yard. Last I counted, there were 8-10 kids from toddler to teen running about out there. I know they don’t all live there. It’s a 2-bedroom house, and my best guess is two of the older boys actually live there.

I have no idea who the rest of these assorted rugrats are. Cousins? Friends? Paying daycare customers? I don’t think they’re other random neighborhood kids, because I can’t think of any white kids on this street.

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As I reported in This Post (which contains photographic evidence of excessive kid-quota), there was one primary thing that might just put me over the edge. And (shudder) it appears to have happened.

What I wrote: “I’m really, really glad they don’t appear to have a dog, though. A dog running around out there would not be appreciated by my dogs–or by me.”

And…guess what. Yep. Dog. It looks–from my spying-spot in the dining room–like a little tan chihuahua. But it could be a puppy of something else short-haired that will be larger when it matures. I don’t know yet. So far, it’s been out on a leash, but I’m not optimistic it will stay that way. I picture it wriggling under my fence and getting eaten by the the Poodledactyl and Sir Mozzie the Swift.

For now, observation continues. They do seem to go a lot of places, and should the vehicles be gone when I check, I’ll need to make a dash for the mailbox. This is seriously impeding my usual practice of Immediate Gratification. Waiting sucks. But people suck more.

UPDATED: At latest count, four boys playing basketball. Three toddlers in a wading pool. One young boy going back and forth between the groups. Two teen-type girls watching the toddlers. AND…the dog. Looks like a chihuahua or maybe a chi-dachshund mix because it has a long back. If it’s not a puppy, it appears young. They keep putting it in the pool with the toddlers. It keeps jumping out. And, you guessed it…it’s no longer on a leash.

It’s gonna be a looooooong summer, folks.

Happily Unhuggable

My personal space bubble is getting wider and thicker as I get older. Growing up, back when I still cared about fitting in and being like everyone else, hugs were automatic, if not enjoyed. Everybody hugs, right? But why?

Honestly, I don’t like to be touched at all, unless you are a dog, in which case snuggles are mandatory and you can sit on my lap, climb me like a mountain, lick my face, and I will skritch you anywhere you would like to be skritched.

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Him, I will hug. Probably more than he would prefer.

I have to have an eye exam soon, and after that I desperately need to schedule what I’m sure will be the first of a long series of painful, face-touching appointments. I’m going to need lots of drugs. The really good kind. Partially for the expected nerve-searing agony, but also because I’ll be super stressed out having people touching me.

I don’t even get my hair cut and colored anymore because there is literally no way to accomplish this without being touched, and it is also customary to chat with the stylist. I have decided to embrace the gray and see it as a fashion choice rather than advancing crone-hood. I grab my craft scissors every couple of months and whack off the dead ends and call it good.

I don’t go to the doctor, and I haven’t gotten a new tattoo in three years. These both involve way too much personal contact. I don’t want people to shake my hand or touch my arm when we’re talking. Honestly, I’m not really a fan of the talking part either, but if we can do it at a reasonable distance, I’ll probably survive. Recommended distance = text me from your house. No, don’t call. I don’t answer the phone. Phone calls are like your voice touching my ears.

No manicures or pedicures, and forget massages, because that is professional, therapeutic touching, and it’s not happening. Ever.

Still, hugging is expected, and people who enjoy it can’t comprehend that not everybody is okay with it. Any group event…so much hugging. Friends hug greetings, people meeting for the first time are all “Oh my gosh, I’m so glad to finally meet you!” Hug.

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Cringe.

And family…the hug machine cranks into overdrive. This is when I most often have to give in, because not hugging family you haven’t seen in a while is apparently offensive. Or something. I’m not really sure, because figuring out people is not my strong suit. hug__by_gotbob

I try to limit hug exposure by hanging back until everyone seems to have the hugs out of their systems, then slip into the group unobtrusively. With farewell hugs, the best strategy is to edge to the outer perimeter of the group, sidling toward the door or your car, and hope a friendly wave will do. (Spoiler alert: It almost never does.)

In addition to all the anxiety I have about leaving the house and the Direwolves, the conversations I’ll have to participate in, whether there will be any adult beverages to numb some of my neurological worry centers, if I’m dressed appropriately to blend in and not attract unwanted attention, if I’ll have to use someone’s bathroom (I have developed extraordinary bladder control to avoid this situation)…I don’t really want to have to factor in hug-avoidance. But failure to remain vigilant results in far too much person-to-person contact.

It’s not that I don’t care about all these huggy people. I do. I am happy to see them. I’m stressed about it, but I’m happy. I just don’t want people inside my safety-bubble.

I’m not a germophobe. My lackadaisical attitude toward household sanitation guarantees my immune system is regularly challenged by all manner of microscopic threats and is in top working order. My aversion to touching people isn’t due to fear of illness. I just don’t like it, and I’m at an age where I’m about out of rats’ asses to give about whether I’m socially acceptable.

The struggle is real.

Quiet, Crafty Saturday

Today sort of feels like a “me” day. Work email tends to be light on weekends, and I don’t have a new edit until Tuesday. The only productive thing I’m doing today is washing bedding, because these happy puppy-faces have paws full of yard-sand, which tends to transfer to the sheets, and while it might seem like a great idea to do full-body exfoliation while you sleep, it’s not as pleasant as one might think.

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“Morning, Mama! Does your skin feel smooth and revitalized? Good. Now, go make breakfast.”

Tomorrow will be busier, with making dog treats, scanning some photos, and preparing a couple of lasagnas to take to a family event on Monday. But today, I’m going to chill.

Surely the sign of age and a small sphere of existence (by choice), I’m disproportionately excited about new knitting needles. I ordered a full set of ChiaGoo circulars which should have arrived Thursday since I have Amazon Prime, but tracking showed they won’t arrive until Monday. In compensation, Amazon is extending our Prime membership by a month. So,  yesterday I ordered a full set of Knit Picks Caspian Wood straight needles and paid the extra for next day delivery. See if this boggles your mind as much as it did mine.

  • Ordered 11:33 a.m. yesterday.
  • 6:29 p.m. the package left Chattanooga.
  • 9:48 p.m. it arrived in Knoxville.
  • 11:46 p.m. it left Knoxville.
  • 12:33 a.m. it arrived in Louisville.
  • 4:42 a.m. it left Louisville.
  • 5:54 a.m. it was in Raleigh.
  • 7:13 a.m. it left Raleigh.
  • 7:15 it was in Havelock and out for delivery, which means it must have missed a scan somewhere, because Havelock is more than 2 minutes from Raleigh.
  • Delivered to me in New Bern at 10:30 a.m.

23 hours to get what I want from Tennessee to my doorstep. Pretty cool.

This is what I’m planning today. As you can see, the rainbow scarf is now more-than-couch-length, but I’m in the home stretch. I’m on the blue, which will go back to green then a bit of yellow, and done. I need to find someone who’s into the whole rainbow thing and long scarves to give it a home.

I wanted these straight needles so quickly because we’ll be traveling about 2.5 hours away on Monday for a day trip family event thing. The scarf is too long and cumbersome for travel-knitting, so I want to start something else small to keep me busy and help me deal with the anxiety of socializing. I’m going to do a new fan and feather scarf, though I swore I was done with scarves for now, but I need the ChiaGoo circulars to arrive before I start anything bigger, like a baby blanket or small afghan.

How beautiful are these? Seriously! And I like the feel of them. Smoother than the typical bamboo needles, but a bit more texture than aluminum or steel.

I have quite a bit of this favorite yarn, Premier Serenity by Deborah Norville, colorway “Sea.” It’s a 2 weight and calls for a size 6 needle, and my aluminum 6 needles are currently full of rainbow scarf.

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I might end up using a different size, depending on how my test swatch looks, because I want a lacy look…

But at least whatever I decide, I know I now have the right size needle for my project!

Two In A Row

We did go out last night, and I didn’t die. I did talk to a bunch of people whose names I don’t remember, despite having asked them several times, and I met a nice dog named Zoe, because I always remember dog names. I also snuck a couple pictures of some random guy because he had the prettiest long blond hair I’ve ever seen, but Tom convinced me I should definitely not give him my card and tell him he should seriously consider being a cover model because it’s almost impossible to find good stock photos of guys with long blond hair.

Now, brace yourself. I went out today too. Two days in a row, shower, bra, public. Me. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, so we took the Direwolves to the beach for a few hours. We usually go to Fort Macon State Park because it has plenty of parking, and a nice walkway over the dunes.

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Mozzie and Oliver are maniacs going to and from the car, but once we get to the beach,  they’re both so good I can’t even believe it. They walk nicely, splashing in the surf, not reacting to people or dogs we pass, and lie calmly on the blanket when we get back to our spot.

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Standard poodles definitely attract attention. Two people asked if Oliver was a standard, and one of them even noticed he has his full, natural tail.

I am absolutely exhausted. I’ve walked more in the past two days than in the previous two months, so I’m going to sit here watching TV and knitting until it’s time to watch The Walking Dead tonight. I’m finally almost past the orange part of the yarn, thank goodness. I hate orange, but you can’t have “rainbow” anything without it, although if I were in charge of the color spectrum, I’d definitely change that.

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The Direwolves have just reminded me I absolutely can’t sit here the rest of the day, because it’s supper time, and they’re hungry. They have me very well trained.

Hermit Out and About

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Hermiting is hard. My answer to “Do you want to go…” is nearly always “No.” But from time to time, I have to suck it up and go somewhere, because holding Tom hostage at home isn’t really fair. Staying in and having some adult beverages and watching Netflix used to be an option–my favorite–but apparently we don’t do that anymore. Well, I do, every night when Tom goes to bed, but I guess that doesn’t count.

Tonight is one such night, when I have to dress like a normal person and go out. There’s a 17021379_855781954559544_4158933835694194326_n“battle of the bands” at our favorite bar, The Brown Pelican, and he wants to go…so we’re going.

I used to love music, and we followed one particular band, going on multi-day roadtrips to catch several shows on consecutive nights. But a falling-out (lead singer/guitarist turned out to be a ginormous ass-crumpet) led to me no longer liking music…at all.

Back in those days, going out involved meticulous planning, with every detail of my hair, makeup, outfit, shoes, and accessories carefully coordinated. Now, I’ll get a shower. Probably.

While the main challenge is that I’ll have to converse with non-canine individuals, today has another obstacle. It’s March 31, technically spring. It’s also Easter weekend, or so I’ve heard, since I’m non-religious, and that’s considered a spring holiday. But it’s also a little chilly, with the temperature expected to be around 50 degrees this evening when we head out.

Definitely too cool for my cute summer tops. I tend to be cold, so even a short sleeved top is probably out. But if I wear a sweater, will I look like an idiot? Too cool for my new sandals…but black boots? Too winter-apparel-y?

I thought about wearing a garnet-colored long-sleeve top with my first knitted scarf, 29571342_10214115474733336_8294067764251296272_nwhich is light-weight and could be okay, but that might look like I think I’m still in Minnesota rather than eastern North Carolina.

So, what to do? Barring a meteor strike or robot uprising, we’re going. I’ll probably spend an hour standing in my closet and staring at the available options, which is almost like shopping because I go out so rarely that I find myself saying, “Oh, hey, I didn’t remember I had that.”

Probably too late to knit myself a light spring sweater, especially since I’ve only been knitting for a month and have no idea how to go about sweater-making, and it takes me two weeks to make a stupid scarf.

Whatever I end up wearing, the strategy will be what it always is, which is to reach the correct blood alcohol level to make me temporarily forget I’m a major introvert and avoid a panic attack. I probably won’t have a terrible time, but it’s not even 10 a.m. and I’m worrying about it, and that’s a lot of hours getting myself worked up over nothing.

See? I keep telling everyone hermiting is hard, but only other equally-dedicated introverts believe me.

(DISCLAIMER: As an editor, I desperately want to punctuate the graphic at the top of this post. I normally won’t use any meme with spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors, but I love Bugs Bunny too much to pass this one up.)

Classic: Nobody Likes Team-Building

One of the absolute best things about working from home is I am no longer subjected to the dreaded “team-building events.” I estimate 90% of people hate these things, but we’re all forced to endure them. And let me tell you, extreme introverts hate it more than the less introverted can possibly imagine.

This is a Classic Fermented Fur post from ten years ago. How many of you can relate?

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It is a well-known fact, to those who know it well, that I hate those participatory, team-building, touchy-feely, business seminars. Let me be absolutely clear about this.

I hate them.

Loathe. Abhor. Despise. Detest.

I do not like them. And I need a bigger thesaurus.

And yet that is exactly what I’ll be doing next Tuesday. All day.

We recently re-started our work with our ActionCOACH (yes, that’s how they spell it), which is a worldwide business coaching network. Our coach is an unbelievable dynamo. She’s from Australia, and she does not have a low gear. Think “ADHD hummingbird on crack.” She rock climbs, surfs, bungee jumps, kayaks, and (for all I know) participates in triathlons with entire populations of third world villages perched on her shoulders. Still, she is always impeccably dressed, has lovely – if very pointy – shoes, perfectly sculpted nails, and a dark tan.

As a part of our return to the ActionCOACH fold, we’re being subjected to participating in a Team Alignment Day. I understand the importance of strengthening our team relationships, and finding ways to get along and work better together, because (unfortunately) this is one of our ongoing struggles.

I’d just really rather not be there.

As the Practice Manager, though, there’s simply no way out of it. I must attend, participate, and pretend to be happy about it. I do have enough experience from years of front desk work, pretending to like people, that I will likely pull this off, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’d rather have all my skin peeled off, strip by strip, and fed to rabid jackals.

Tell me if this agenda sounds like fun:

(Setting, a meeting room at a local hotel. The room will be too chilly, I won’t get to sit where I want, and there will not be nearly enough breaks.)

8:00 AM: Welcome and overview

Welcome team

(Yeah, yeah. Yippee.)

Why we are here today

(Because somebody made us be here. Oh, and they’re paying me $15/hour.)

Why to invest in a business coach

(Because we’re clueless, and you’re that damned persuasive)

Introduce business coach

(Hi. We’ve met.)

8:10 AM: Introduction

8:20 AM: General Principles of Success

(By now, I already have to pee, and I want a cigarette. Brain cells may already be starting to atrophy.)

8:45 AM: Setting RAS: What I want out of today

(My answer: More smoke breaks, free lunch, and an early dismissal. An open bar would also be appreciated. And a cab ride home.)

9:00 AM: Game

(I do not like games. And these “games” are never, ever fun.)

9:10 AM: General Principles of Success (Continued)

(Oh, goodie. The 25 minutes of this we’ve already had weren’t nearly enough.)

9:45 AM: Break (15 minutes)

(Translation: Two cigarettes and one quick potty stop. I will probably return to the meeting room out of breath, my pants half zipped, and toilet paper stuck to my heel.)

10:00 AM: 6 Keys to a Winning Team

(If she can just help me get them to stop whining and do their damned jobs, I’ll be happy.)

10:15 AM: Strong Leadership

(Easy. Get a bigger baseball bat team motivation device.)

10:30 AM: Common Goals (Created prior to Team Day)

Business Vision

Business Mission

2007 Goals

(I’m pretty sure that last agenda item should read either 2008 or 2009 goals. Of course, if I re-write my 2007 goals, I could make it look as if I actually accomplished some of them.)

11:30 AM: Rules of the Game

Business Culture Statement (Created on day with Team)

(We’re a holistic veterinary practice. Our vision and mission from the 10:30 segment, and our culture statement, are all very new-agey, all about respect, empowerment, trust, healing, and harmony. Sounds lovely in theory, very tough to pull off in practice when you want to slap someone silly for remaining an idiot after all your generous attempts to de-idiot-ize them.)

12:15 PM: Game

(Perhaps I can pretend to have diarrhea, and thus get an early start on lunch.)

12:30 PM: Lunch (45 minutes)

(Lunch. Is. Not. Included. I am not amused. I shall have to venture several blocks to Chili’s, which I normally wouldn’t mind, but 45 minutes is not enough time for a dozen people to eat lunch, take care of necessities, and get back to the meeting. Especially if they take a detour through Bismarck, which I just might do.)

1:15 PM: Action Plan

5 Ways Profit and 4 Ways Business Building Strategies (Created on day with Team)

(“Created on day with Team” means “We’ll all talk simultaneously and spout off a bunch of random, inconsistent, impractical, off-topic nonsense, and Lori will write it down and attempt to form it into something that won’t make us look like absolute vapor-brains.”)

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2:30 PM: Support Risk Taking

(How risky would it be to make a break for the door right now???)

2:40 PM: 100% Involvement/Inclusion

(I can only promise 75% involvement. Any more than that and my brain begins to swell. I shall have to fake the other 25%.)

2:45 PM: Break (15 minutes)

(See “9:45 AM.”)

3:00 PM: IVVM (Dream Builder)

(I have a huge problem with this part every time. This coach is all about attracting wealth and success, much like The Secret, and simply saying “I will achieve/have/experience this by this date” and it will happen. This has thus far not proven true for me. The other part of the problem is that they encourage our personal dreams and goals as much as business ones. Since all my personal goals and dreams involve things like a remote northwoods island full of dogs, a wildly successful writing career, and never, ever having a “real job” again, I’m not sure my goals are exactly compatible with dreams for the business. With work, I have a hard time looking ahead to next month, let alone 5 and 10-year plans.)

3:15 PM: Top 7 Things Learned Today

(1. Next time, claim to have leprosy.)

3:45 PM: Team WIFLE

(Do you know about WIFLEs? It stands for “What I Feel Like Expressing Is.” You then express whatever needs expressing. Work-related, personal, weather, good news, concerns, whatever is on your mind, always concluding with, “and that’s what I feel like expressing.” Everyone then says, “Thank you, Lori.” I cannot spontaneously WIFLE. When we do this at staff meetings, I have to mentally compose my WIFLE the night before. This is one of those spectacularly lame “getting to know each other as individual human beings” things.

Hey. Remember me? I’m an introvert. That’s all you need to know.)

4:15 PM: Conclusion: Time to Get Into Action

(“Time to get ready to take a nap.”)

At 4:30, I get to exit the parking lot, leaving behind skid marks and a huge, billowing cloud of dust.

Naturally, no Team Day is complete without a bunch of personality profiles and “what I think of our team and business” stuff. We had to fill out and fax in all that stuff this week. I’ve done about 688 of those personality profiles over the years, and guess what? I’m an introvert. (See Team WIFLE) I’ve always been an introvert. I will always be an introvert. Anyone who knows me at all is aware of the fact that I’m an introvert. They also know I’m highly anal-retentive, non-confrontational, and very unpleasant when pushed past my tolerance levels. They’ve seen the results.

Still, I am tired of a lot of the intra-team behaviors that we haven’t managed to change or eliminate. If by some wildly improbable chance this helps fix some of those, it might be sort of worth it. Maybe. Possibly.

I will be ten times more tired at the end of this Alignment Day thing than I ever am after a regular work day. All this people stuff sucks the energy right out of me. It’s a ton of effort and extraordinarily draining for an introvert to pretend to be able to function with normal people, non-stop, for an entire day. That’s why I was so thrilled when we were finally able to assign me to practice management full-time and get me the hell away from the front desk forever.

It may be somewhat more uncomfortable than usual this time around, though, since at least some of the staff probably sees me as the Wicked Witch right now, following last week’s careless screw-ups and subsequent Consequences. We’ve been saying for ages, “Hey, one more screw-up or one more crappy attitude and there are going to be some Consequences, gosh darn it!” Yet until then, no Consequences ever manifested. So maybe it’s not so strange that people actually were surprised when it happened. But I know how to be the Bad Guy now, when I have to be. I don’t like it, but I like warning people about the same errors and attitude issues till my tongue goes numb even less.

Maybe the cure for being an introvert is just getting too pissed off to remember that you are one.

 

Good Boundaries Make Good Neighbors

I’m not a people person, but I’m especially not a kid person. The only one I’ve ever cared about was mine, and he’ll be 34 tomorrow, so even that is well in the past. I do not want to hold your baby. I don’t want to hear the cute thing your toddler just did. I am not even remotely interested in your daughter’s dance recital.

However, if your puppy caught a grasshopper, I totally want to hear about that in great detail.

As I mentioned in THIS post and THIS other post, we have new occupants in the rental K1361house across the street, and this is causing me some anxiety. When we moved here four years ago, it was occupied by a 30-something single woman with an elderly dog, and then a couple of young Marines. They were good, quiet, friendly, but boundary-respecting neighbors, and I was okay with that.

A little more than a month ago, people appeared over there. I had a hard time figuring out who the residents were, as the various individuals spotted seemed to vary. But after a month of observation, I’m fairly sure the ones who live there are a woman and two younger-teen boys.

Yes, I realize the “normal” thing to do would be to walk over there to say hello and introduce myself. If you don’t know anything else about me, you should be aware that “normal” is not a word ever used in any way regarding my social skills and interactions, unless it’s prefaced by “ab-“.

My issues come from the numerous other children who are there on a regular basis. The woman must do some sort of daycare, either for relatives or as a business, as two toddlers (maybe more…honestly, kids all kind of look the same to me) are usually present. There are also a boy and a girl of approximately middle school age. Maybe others. I should probably keep some sort of logbook.

This is a lot of kids.

Plastic outdoor toys started to show up in the yard. Then a portable basketball hoop was placed at the end of the street. Our house and theirs are the last on our respective sides of the dead-end street, and I have to admit that’s a pretty good setup for a basketball hoop. What they don’t know, however, is that patch where the road ends is considered overflow parking for our two houses. We only have a small gravel drive in the front of the house, so if you have company, that’s where they go.

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Kid-faces blocked, because even I realize that’s kind of wrong.

Now the truly horrifying part. I’ve noticed these kids, who are definitely school age other than the toddler-types, are present throughout the day. Know what that means? Home school. These other kids who I don’t think live there–it’s only a two-bedroom house–might be part of the home school setup. Maybe she has some sort of cooperative with other families in her church or something. She has a “pray” sticker on her truck, and that seems like the sort of things church families probably do.

I’ve also noticed the boys tend to be out playing basketball at very regular times, suggesting home school “recess.” Our late-great dogs Darwin and Brody would’ve been very upset by this, slinging bark-drool all over the front windows and destroying the blinds. Mozzie and Oliver will take off barking if they hear a distinct noise or kid-related squealing, but other than that are doing pretty well. In fact, I have a feeling Mozzie might actually like kids–much to my dismay–because he’ll sit at the window quietly and watch them play.

I’m generally the tense, curmudgeonly one…but for some reason this basketball hoop is bothering Tom a lot more than I’d expect. The ball bounces into our front yard, and he gets all territorial. I’m supposed to be the territorial one. He’s supposed to be the laid-back, friendly, tolerant one who will chat with the neighbors when they cross paths outside, finding out who they are and letting them know we’re harmless but have definite boundaries. Now I’m finding myself saying things like, “It’s no big deal. They’re not hurting anything,” when I’m more accustomed to saying, “They’re out there…all the damned time.”

I don’t like it. I don’t like any of it. I have this shifting herd of non-adult humans running around out there, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about it. Luckily, the room where I spend 90% of my time is in the back of our house, away from the road.

I’m really, really glad they don’t appear to have a dog, though. A dog running around out there would not be appreciated by my dogs–or by me.