A Rare Visit to the Out

I see people on Facebook post things like, “I twisted my ankle and I’ve been stuck at home for three days. I’m losing my mind!” I do not understand these people.

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Accurate.

We took Oliver to the groomer on January 11. Yesterday, Tom once again persuaded me to leave the house for a couple of hours. Nothing exciting, just a few errands and checking out some local businesses. The previous day’s weather was summery, but Saturday was chilly, so no walking the dogs along the river or heading to the beach.

We went by the Colonial Capital Humane Society flea market to drop off more crochet 26841165_10208037040323626_336358591896336060_obags and see what was selling from the things I’d donated previously. The volunteer I talked to was friendly and enthusiastic, but there was an awful lot of stuff still there, which is a little discouraging. Maybe I need to make different things. I didn’t see the signed books I donated, so hopefully they sold.

Village-Butcher-gallery9We went by The Village Butcher and ordered more shank bones for Mozzie and Oliver, and now I know where it is. You’d think this would mean I could go and pick up bones for the dogs by myself, but you’d be wrong. It’s much more likely Tom will continue to do this.

The main reason I went out today was to stop by our wonderful Farmer’s Market. It’s not produce season, but there are always artisans of all sorts in attendance. Bakers, knitters, wineries, jewelry makers…and soap makers.

Shortly after we moved here in 2014, I discovered the fabulous goat milk soaps, lotions, sugar scrubs, body sprays, and other products from The Beaman’s Fork Soap Company. I head straight to this booth every time I visit the market.

I discovered the Farm at Beaman’s Fork is only about a mile from my house. I haven’t been there yet, because even though Krisann is super friendly and we chat at the market and online, I am socially challenged. But one of these days I definitely need to go meet the goats, as well as her Pyr Casey and German shepherd Seife (which means “soap” in German). Baby steps. It’s only been four years.

Check out the Facebook page for lots of pictures of the dogs, goats, horses, chickens…and this spring’s brand new baby goats!

My reason for the market today was to pick up my Spring BFF Box from Krisann. For each season, she designs four limited edition signature scents for new soaps. I pre-ordered mine and couldn’t wait to see what was in there.

These are the only bath products I use now. The goat milk soaps, lotions, body spray, a new foaming sugar scrub… It kind of makes you want to take three baths a day and try a different scent each time.

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Beautiful, right? I wish you could smell it! I have the vanilla-lime wax melt in my melter now, and it is heavenly.

Here’s the card that describes the contents:

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I pre-ordered the Summer BFF Box also, and I’m already dying to know what fragrances await me. They do have an online store, too, so you can experience these handmade artisan delights firsthand.

Then I came home, after only about two hours, and Mozzie and Oliver tried to murder me with their love. It’s nice to be adored, but their wild, unrestrained welcome home routine is going to put me in traction one of these days. I’d hoped to bribe them into submission with bones from the butcher, but he only had knuckles today, no shanks, and Oliver can’t be trusted with the softer knuckle bones. He has poodledactyl jaws and breaks off chunks, swallows them, then barfs them up on the bedroom floor at 6 a.m. This is not how I prefer to start my day.

And now, having conquered work email and not having a new edit for a day or two, it’s time to resume my exploration of Doctor Who, to discover if I am destined to join the ranks of Whovians, or if the appeal will elude me. I’ll work on more bags for the humane society, but I also think I might dig out the one set of knitting needles I have and see if I can re-learn how to knit.

Because, you know, I need another hobby I can pursue without leaving the couch, much less the house.

Canine Co-Dependency

It takes a lot to get me out of the house, and very little to convince me to stay home. The last time I was out for more than a couple of minutes was January 11 when we took Oliver to the groomer, over a month ago. I’m totally okay with that.

Now, more than ever, it’s leaning toward “can’t” leave the house rather than “don’t want to.” Because…

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These two.

The last dogs to join our pack prior to Oliver and Mozzie were Brody (2006) and Darwin (2007), and I still worked outside the home at least a few days a week until 2010, so they were used to me being gone from time to time. But since Mozzie arrived in November 2016 and Oliver in February 2017, I have literally not spent one night away from home.

My sister and her husband weren’t both out of the house simultaneously for years, because their dog had health issues, and they didn’t want to stress her or have her get into trouble while she was alone. I’m not sure I fully grasped the reality of this until now.

Our son gave us a camera so we could check in on the dogs on the rare occasions we’re out, and it does help a little. At least I can be sure they haven’t decided to eat the couch or engage in a doggie death match. But I also now know Mozzie paces much of the time, climbing up to my spot on the couch and looking around forlornly, and Oliver howls. A lot. “Mamaaaaaaaaaa, where are yooooooooooouuuuuuu?”

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A still from the camera footage. Note Mozzie on the left, in my spot on the couch. Oliver, by the sliding door, is in mid-howl, nose up and sending his cry to the heavens.

I can always come up with reasons not to go out. It’s raining. It might rain. It just rained so it would be splashy and muddy. Cloudy with a chance of meatballs. It’s hot, cold, windy, or buggy. The tide is wrong. There’s an event downtown and it would be crowded. I haven’t washed my hair since Tuesday (and it’s currently Friday). It’s Saturday night and the wait for a table would be too long. The dogs are due for grooming, and if we take them to the park, people will think we don’t take care of them.

You see where I’m going with this. It doesn’t take much.

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Besides, Mozzie says I can’t get off the couch. Don’t argue with him. Cute wins every time, and he’s even bigger and cuter now.

While I generally dislike excursions into the Out, I do like vacations, though, and a combination of “what to do with the dogs” and “all our money seems to be missing” has resulted in no away-from-home time for me since we went to Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta in October 2016.

If you love The Walking Dead and have a chance to go to a Walker Stalker event…DOOOOOO IT!

Even if we nailed down funding for a trip, how would that work? Mozzie is a twitchy, anxious dog, and a strange kennel would stress him out way more than would be good for him, and probably the kennel staff.

We have a reliable petsitter who was great with Darwin and Brody, and has stopped to check in on these two once when we had to be gone all day for a family event, but that’s the extent of it so far. I’m not sure Mozzie and Oliver would be okay with only three daily check-ins like the older two were. And leaving them alone overnight…? That’s a wildcard.

One solution would be someone to stay at the house while we were gone. Sort of a rent-a-mama. The key is for someone to be here a good bit of the day, and overnight. But how to find such a person? I dislike having people in my house. Oddly, though, I find it slightly less objectionable if I’m not here and required to interact.

The other, possibly better idea is to simply take the dogs with us, but again, there are some factors to consider. If we were going on an overnight trip to attend an event, that would mean leaving them alone in a hotel room for a minimum of several hours. If Oliver howls in hotels like he does at home, we’d quickly wear out our welcome.

But if we were, for example, on a beach vacation, they’d be with us all the time, other than when we went out to dinner, and a beach house offers more privacy and a better howl-buffer than a hotel room. We frequently vacation with dog-loving friends, though, and managing stranger-dog interactions elevates the stress levels and sucks the fun right out of things. I need to be able to relax and enjoy myself, not spend all my time as a dog referee, so we don’t typically take our dogs. Except…

We took Brody with us in September 2016, because he was rapidly declining, and it was either try taking him with us or skip the trip. He had issues with our friends’ dog, and she had to hide out in the bedroom the whole time to prevent Brody barking us all deaf and traumatizing the poor dog for life. We gave up and came home after only a couple of days.

This probably boils down to taking them with us, provided they are the only dogs present in a shared house, or finding our own separate accommodations.

Or simply staying home.  Aside from the lack of beachy-ness, it’s where I usually prefer to be, anyway.

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Just Being Neighborly

Unless you’re lucky enough to live deep in the forest, in a converted missile silo, or on an island somewhere, neighbors are a fact of life. Social convention suggests we’re supposed to be…neighborly. But for those of us with social anxiety, a strong preference for hermiting, and a dedicated aversion to anyone encroaching on our territory, “neighborly” has a somewhat different definition.

We lived in our house in Minnesota for 17 years. In that time, I spoke to a few neighbors a handful of times, in instances of extreme necessity. Once, Sprocket escaped the yard, and a neighbor returned him. Another time, a neighbor’s dog went walkabout, and I pointed out where I saw him. And I once spoke to Next Door Neighbor West to apologize for Brody barking him deaf while he worked in his back yard. Turned out he didn’t mind; he just barked back. That was nice. Brody made a friend.

So, basically, I talked to neighbors about dogs.

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No. Just…NO.

Four years ago this week, we moved into this house. I quickly learned southern neighbors are…different. Before we got our fence installed (which is six-foot privacy fence on the front and right side, where there are people, and four-foot chain link on the two woodsy sides), the guy across the street and one house up stopped over to say hello while we were out on the back deck. After a bit, he announced he had to pee and proceeded down to the trees at the back of our yard to do exactly that.

In our yard.

I went in the house and did not go back out.

We’re the last house on a dead end road, so we have nice, quiet neighbors on one side, a rental house directly across from us, and the yard-urinator next to that. I have no idea who else lives on the street. I’m not interested.

The most interaction I’ve had to date was with the quiet couple next door. Two years ago, I was on the deck and Darwin-big-paw was observing me and managed to knock the pole into the sliding door track. I had no phone, all windows and doors were locked, the gates were also locked, and I had a pot of chili on the stove. Oh, and Tom was in Jacksonville, 40 minutes away. So I had no choice but to haul my aging, sedentary ass over the chain link part of the fence into the woods, trek through the neighbors’ side yard, knock on their door, and ask to use their phone to call Tom.

Yeah, that was fun. Anyway…

We’ve been really lucky with the rental so far. When we got here, a nice single woman in her 30s with an older, well-behaved dog lived there. When she moved, it was occupied by two young Marines. They were polite, kept to themselves, looked great mowing the yard, and were well-armed, which was comforting since I’m often home alone. But they moved in the fall, and the house has been vacant.

Now, someone has moved in, and I’m not exactly sure what to make of it. I originally noticed a woman and either two teen boys or one teen boy and a husband. The older-seeming of the males always had a hat on, so I couldn’t get a read on him. But either situation seemed unlikely to inconvenience me in any significant way.

I take my privacy and the tranquility of my domain seriously. Yard-urinator-guy has a lot of grown kids, grandkids, a whole big family that often congregates in the covered gathering area by his house. They’re loud and boisterous, but in a happy way, so as long as the festivities conclude at a reasonable hour, I’m fine.

But these new people…I’m not sure about. I usually only see one vehicle, but after a couple of days I noticed (shudder) children. Like teacup humans up to maybe 4-5 years old. I’m not sure, exactly. I’m not a kid person. These small people seem to come and go, so now I wonder if the woman does some kind of (shudder again) home daycare, either as an income source or for family.

This would not be acceptable for a lot of reasons. Kids make me very, very twitchy. Adults, once you make your boundaries clear, tend to leave you alone. (Pee in my yard, I put up a fence, problem solved.) Kids don’t do that. Plus, they run around outside, yelling and laughing and doing other kid-type things. Yeah, I know, kids have to play. They were inside, but Mom kicked them out because they were making her insane, and now she’s hit the Xanax bottle, the hidden Twinkie stash, and possibly has vodka in a coffee cup. So the kids are outside.

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I’m totally the Dad-bear on the left

I can ignore them. My family room (AKA “my spot”) is in the back of the house. But the Direwolves, not so much. If there are kids riding bikes or playing games or running around, I’m going to be dealing with a lot of barking. And doG forbid the kids take an interest in the dogs, because then I’ll have them sneaking through the woods to the chain link or peeking under the gates in the privacy fence so they can see the doggies.

Yeah, I’m that neighbor. The creepy old lady who looks through the blinds and takes random surveillance photos to text to Tom to get his take on the latest developments. I was going to post a couple of these photos here, but it occurred to me this might be crossing some sort of socially-acceptable–and possibly legal–line. I don’t know. I’m not good at this.

So, eventually, Tom will be outside and see them and go over to talk and see what they’re like. This is his primary neighbor-related duty. People like him. I make people uncomfortable, which is only fair, since they make me even more uncomfortable.

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Oliver and Mozzie occasionally assist with the surveillance

Today, I saw a little purple plastic ride-on car thing in their driveway. This implies outdoor child-related activities. I do not like this. I’m imagining a swing set, maybe a bouncy-house, perhaps even a wading pool, and this is not good. For me.

The good news is I have not yet observed any dogs. My worst fear is someone will move in with several unruly, troublesome, roam-at-large dogs. Nobody else on the street has a fence. A house with resident outside or uncontained dogs would be awful. Mozzie and Oliver would be glued to the front windows, barking themselves into a spit-slinging frenzy. At-large dogs could be exploring our fence, digging under gates, or going to the woods side chain link and harassing my dogs. At which point I shall lose my mind.

For now, it’s a waiting game. I check the situation whenever I pass through the front of the house, but it’s been chilly, so I don’t yet have enough information.

But just in case, anybody know how to build a moat?