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.

Paying For Saturday

I did a whole lot of nothing yesterday, other than wash our bedding and knit. Today has been much busier. Morning house chores, got a batch of dog treats in the dehydrator (Super easy two-ingredient “recipe” HERE), wrangled work email, figured out how to use my new scanner and scanned and emailed some photos, and I have a huge pot of pasta sauce simmering so I can assemble a couple of pans of lasagna to take to a family gathering out of town tomorrow.

Now, while the sauce simmers, I can finally knit! I am still working on my super-long rainbow scarf, but started a new one yesterday that is still small enough to take with me tomorrow. So far…

It’s a feather and fan scarf (pattern HERE), using Premiere Serenity yarn by Deborah Norville, in the “sea” colorway. I love this yarn. I made a window treatment with it several years ago, found a ball of it in my stash over the winter, and ordered a bunch more. I’m also using my brand new Knit Picks Caspian wood straight needles, and I love them. The surface has just the right texture for a 2 weight yarn, not as slippery as metal, but more grip than regular bamboo.

There’s a marathon of Season 8 of The Walking Dead, and I’ll alternate between that and a re-watch of an old favorite, Eureka, while I knit. Tonight is the season finale of TWD, as well as the premiere of the new season of Fear the Walking Dead. I can’t wait! I host a live chat on Facebook, and it’s sure to be a ton of fun tonight.

It’s raining off and on, with storms expected later, so it’s a good day for cooking, knitting, and TV. Even rainy, though, it’s a huge step up from our old home in Minnesota, which we fled 4 1/2 years ago. They got over a foot of snow yesterday! Nope, I don’t miss that even a little.

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!

A Mixed Bag

My job, and consequently my life, is a constant juggling act. As Managing Editor for circus-160165_960_720Limitless Publishing, I wear a lot of hats and have to balance the needs of authors, editors, proofreaders, our marketing team, formatters, cover designers, anthology projects…and just thinking about this makes me want a drink.

Factor in household responsibilities, the husband, personal care, and the Direwolves, and it’s even more chaotic. Mozzie just started a new hole in the yard (sorry, Tom) and rolled in it for a while, and we’re expecting my in-laws this evening for a visit. Oh, well.

Still, I try to focus primarily on one category each day. It might be an admin day, in which I manage things like schedules and planning, or an editing day if I have a looming deadline. It might be house stuff, or on the very rare days I don’t have an edit in progress, I can actually kick back and play with yarn.

For most of my life, this meant crochet, but I taught myself to knit a couple of months ago, and am working on my third scarf. I don’t even wear scarves, but it’s a good starter project. I’m using one cake of Lion Brand Mandala yarn, and you have to use the whole thing to get the full colorway, so it’s a long one. It’s currently, um…couch-length.

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See? Couch-length.

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Close-up of the working end, complete with lifelines. I still have lots of green and some blues to get through to reach yellow again, which is where I can finish off.

I want to learn cabling next, or maybe make a shawl or some slightly larger, more challenging project. Yesterday, I ordered a full set of interchangeable stainless steel circular needles from ChiaGoo, and can’t wait to play with them. Expensive, but cheaper than buying each individual size and cable length as I need them. That’s my justification.

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It’s still early, but today’s agenda is crowded and not conducive to focusing on one thing. I have to get things ready for the arrival of our house guests, finish an edit, continue the management-juggling, and get myself presentable enough to go to dinner this evening. Email is caught up for the moment, laundry running, so next up is some editing interspersed with house-tidying…and eventually a shower. I hope.

Or probably everyone else hopes, because I sincerely do not care.

The Most Convenient Food Ever

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Food science is wonderful, and this is truly amazing. Did you know you can purchase 100% nutritionally complete, healthy food, all in a single bag? There are age-appropriate formulas for all life stages, from infant to senior, and you can’t beat the convenience. Just measure out the appropriate amount of bite-sized nuggets and munch away! It’s full of protein, fruits, vegetables, has grain-free formulas for those with gluten intolerance, and even has essential vitamins and minerals added, and a tasty coating to enhance its natural flavor. Doesn’t that sound great?

What? No? It doesn’t?

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Of course, it doesn’t. But that’s exactly what the majority of people feed their dogs. You wouldn’t feed your child or yourself this way, because you’re not an idiot. You understand that a diet consisting solely of highly-processed ingredients, cooked at high heat and dried, is not healthy. You need fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, all in as wide a variety as possible to be truly healthy.

Even the cheapest, most crap-and-filler-laden commercial food carries the “seal of imagesapproval” from the Association of American Feed Control Officers (AAFCO) as “100% nutritionally complete.” But AAFCO is not the FDA–or a government agency at all. It’s a private corporation, basically the fox watching the hen house. All their “approval” means is the bag contains what it says it contains, and if a pet is fed this particular food exclusively…it isn’t likely to die of starvation or malnutrition. It in no way certifies the ingredients are of any sort of quality.

If you (or your child) ate nothing but dried cereal, ramen, and hot dogs every day, you probably wouldn’t die. But would you be healthy? How much healthier would you be if you ate those things, but also added fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables?

I see it all the time in various dog groups. “What kind of food is best for my (insert breed here)?” They get a range of replies from the most expensive, organic, grain-free brands with exotic proteins like kangaroo or pheasant, to “I feed Crap-In-A-Bag from Costco, and my dogs have always done fine on it.” They choose a brand and buy that same bag, same variety, month after month, year after year.

At the very least, they should change the protein each time. Get beef, then the next time the chicken and turkey, then the lamb, then the salmon. The only variety some dogs get is the occasional pizza crust or tidbit from their people’s plates or what they manage to scavenge from the trash. No wonder they’re garbage-hounds. They’re starving for real food.

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I’m not anti-kibble. I feed about 50% grain-free dry food, because the tree that fell across my fence last year didn’t have $100 bills for leaves and I have two large-breed dogs who like to eat a couple of times a day.

You don’t have to go all-out with a totally raw diet. It’s not for everybody. But no matter which commercial brand you buy, you can make it healthier. At the very least, you can mix in a raw egg, or plain yogurt, or ground beef or turkey, some raw liver, or shredded and lightly steamed leafy greens or sweet potato, or a handful of fresh blueberries. Any or all of these once a day will go a long way to add high-quality nutrition and natural enzymes and probiotics to your dog’s diet.

There are complete frozen raw diets available at most pet supply stores. Not so much the “big box” stores, but your local or regional shops. These contain a range of proteins, bone, vegetables, and fruits, and can be used to supplement kibble. There are freeze-dried or dehydrated foods. I’m currently buying Sojos freeze-dried. I mix that up, then stir in the dry food.

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If raw grosses you out, cook it–but don’t over-cook it. There are all kinds of “stew” recipes out there for dogs. Put it in your slow cooker and add some to your dog’s food every day.

You don’t have to be a food chemist or a chef. Simply put a little thought into what you feed your dog. Just as you eat some processed convenience foods but also recognize the value of whole, healthy, natural foods, do the same for your dog. Convenience is…convenient. But the dog you love deserves more.

PS: While writing this post, I encountered THIS article taking a similar look at “dog food for people.” It was an April Fool’s story, and…It. Is. Hilarious.

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The Dreaded Spoilers

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We’ve all had it happen. A new movie comes out, and some ass-crumpet posts a pivotal detail on social media before you have a chance to see it. A TV series airs in another country or time zone before it airs in yours, and though you promised to stay off Facebook, you pop in for “just a minute” and discover a favorite character is dead.

Wails, anguish, threats of swift and blinding retribution.

But there’s another kind of spoiler, one some viewers actually seek out. Let’s skip movies for now, since I rarely watch movies, though I did watch Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri yesterday. (Spoiler alert: There are billboards. Three of them. Outside Ebbing, Missouri.)

Television episodes are provided to select reviewers before the episode airs, and some of them work with fandom sites to reveal key information before it is broadcast. They can’t just post them anywhere, though, or the network will quickly figure out who it is, and their early-review days are over.

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One such group is The Spoiling Dead Fans, though they got a lot of heat from AMC, and now the spoilers are shared in a closed group, TSDF Army. Around Wednesday or Thursday before the Sunday US premiere of an episode, a Q&A covering key story developments appears, and lots of people read them.

I do.

The Spoiling Dead Fans has over 450,000 likes on Facebook. The closed TSDF Army group has over 40,000 members.

Why would anyone want to know what happens before an episode? For me, it’s a combination of anxiety and immediate gratification. I admit, I do sometimes skip the spoilers for a huge episode like a season premiere or finale, but I usually read the spoilers for The Walking Dead. I’m a highly anxious person, and I’ll get so worked up with the anticipation and tension that I can’t enjoy the program itself. I’m also very Veruca Salt, and “I want it now.” No waiting. I want to know, so just tell me, already. If I know, I can mentally prepare myself for anything disturbing, or pay closer attention as the revelation of something exciting approaches.

There have been exceptions. I didn’t read about the season finale as we awaited who would Negan bash in the head…and regretted it. I’d heard rumors of a possible cliffhanger, but refused to believe they’d do that to fans. And they did. And I was furious. There’s nothing worse for an immediate-gratification person than having to wait six months for an answer. I still hate Scott Gimple. So. Much.

There have also been a few times even TSDF Army declined to post a spoiler. Most notably was when Chandler Riggs himself contacted them and asked them not to reveal Carl’s impending death. Because he asked politely and respectfully, and was humble and mature about it, they agreed.

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Right now, their source has decided not to provide spoilers for the upcoming final two episodes of the current season. This is his or her prerogative, and we don’t have any right to complain. We’re not entitled to spoilers. There are rumors out there, but very little of it can be confirmed. So I’m going into tonight’s episode with not much concrete information. I kind of hate it, but I understand.

How do you feel about spoilers, either the right-after-it-airs kind, or the pre-broadcast ones? And after a movie or episode is out there, how long is the appropriate time to refrain from posting spoilers on social media? I mean, it’s not realistic to keep your thoughts and opinions to yourself for months, just because someone is waiting for a movie to hit Amazon, or because someone is a season behind in binge-watching The Walking Dead. I think a week, maybe two, is fair. If seeing the movie or series isn’t your priority, you have to accept the risk.

As for tonight, I very strongly suspect one particular death. I have some good hunches about a few other developments. But I’m going in with a lot less information than I typically have, and there’s only one thing I can say about that…

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Brain Vacation

I’ve had a stressful, busy week, so other than some light editing, I’m giving my brain the day off. There will be knitting, TV, time with the Direwolves, and Tom has suggested pizza and movie night. When he gets home, he’s bringing pizza from a place with wood-burning ovens we’ve been meaning to try. Right now, I think the movie will be Three Billboards.

In the meantime, enjoy these photos of my day, as always, featuring Mozzie and Oliver.

An Intriguing Image

When we were out at Prohibition last weekend and I was enjoying some tasty dirty martinis, I noticed two framed art prints I found unusually intriguing. Let me explain and see what you think.

Artist Brent Lynch has a piece titled “Lounge Bar,” featuring a man and woman in what appears to be a mid-20th-century bar.

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Nice, yes, but that’s not what I saw last weekend. It seems the full painting featuring two people is also sold in two pieces, one featuring the man and called “Cigar Bar,” and one featuring the woman and called “Evening Lounge.”

They’re normally displayed like this, a literal two-piece version of the original so it can be hung side by side or near each other.

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But prohibition had them hung opposite, and it intrigued me far more than the above options.

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The above isn’t from Prohibition, but an image I found online.

This is my actual dark, quick-snap from last weekend…

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I tend to get strangely fascinated with random things or people when we’re out, because I’m in a constant state of low-level anxiety, and also tend to consume a lot of cocktails to compensate. But it’s been nearly a week, and I’m still thinking about these prints. I love the classic, elegant, mysterious, noir feel of it.

I definitely like them hanging opposite, looking away from each other. What’s the story? The author in me wants to know.

  • Are they a couple, but have fallen out of love? They’re facing away from each other, not engaging at all.
  • Are they strangers who could potentially be soul mates, but they’re missing the connection because they’re both focused elsewhere, lost in their own thoughts?
  • Are they not even there at the same time, with the images being the same bar at different times? Are they star-crossed lovers who missed their chance encounter, perhaps by minutes?
  • Were they once a couple, and this was “their” bar, but they’ve now separated, each coming to the bar alone, thinking of what they’ve lost?

I can’t think of a time a piece of art has drawn me in this way. I think I’d like to buy these prints, but I rarely have images of people anywhere in my house. That’s how deep my social dysfunction runs. I don’t even like pictures of people. Also, there’s no red decor in my house, so I’m not even sure where I’d put it.

What do you think is the story behind the paintings, if displayed as I saw them, facing away from each other? There’s a story there, probably more than one.

Doctor Who Universe

A couple of months ago, I started watching Doctor Who for the first time. Just the modern seasons, not the originals. I’ve now finished all ten current seasons, and I have to say I like it…but I don’t love it. I’m not a crazed fan, and if they said there wouldn’t be any more seasons, I wouldn’t be heartbroken. I liked it enough to watch all ten seasons, though.

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My favorite Doctor is definitely 11, Matt Smith, and my favorite companion is Amy. I liked Rose, despite her awful makeup that seemed to run off her face every time she cried, which was a lot, and never took to Martha Jones much. Then Amy came along, and I really loved her story arc.

When the 12th Doctor came along, I tried to like Peter Capaldi, but he was more dour and less quirky than #11, and I never fully connected with him. I thought I’d like Bill a lot, but ultimately she was mostly just okay.

My favorite episode overall was the one with Amy and van Gogh. It was poignant and thought-provoking and definitely hit all the feels. There’s even a knitting pattern for a scarf like Amy wore, and I’m probably going to make it.

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I suppose I’m looking forward a bit to the introduction of the first female Doctor in season 11, but not with “watch the calendar” enthusiasm.

Then I moved on to Torchwood. I’d say I like it about the same as Doctor Who. I know a lot of viewers are enthralled by John Barrowman, but he doesn’t do it for me. He’s not a very good actor, and I know he’s supposed to be the dashing hero, but he looks like a cookie cutter right out of central casting, or a cartoon of the handsome Captain Jack Harkness brought to life.

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There’s not a particular character or relationship that resonates with me, and I’m not sure why. I know Owen was supposed to be the good-looking rascal, but I seriously hoped he was going to be killed off at the end of season 1. He annoys me.

The relationship between Gwen and Rhys seems forced and isn’t enhancing the storyline. Ianto is potentially interesting, but feels two-dimensional. He does have some of the best deadpan one-liners, though. Tosh is okay, too, but not terribly compelling.

But I’m only a few episodes into season 2, so maybe that will all develop more.

Who are your favorites and least favorites on Doctor Who and Torchwood? Are there aspects I’m missing? I did enjoy seeing James Marsters in his guest role on Torchwood. I also liked the Eugene Jones episode, so I’m hoping there are even better episodes ahead.

Edit, Knit, Repeat

My next edit was delayed, so I did a lot of knitting yesterday. It was probably a good thing, though. After being out both Saturday night and Sunday, way more social interaction than I’m used to, I was having the usual introvert reaction, not wanting to talk or think or engage much while I re-charged. I knitted and watched Torchwood most of the day.

This scarf is in some ways both easier and more challenging than the other two I’ve done. You absolutely have to count stitches correctly due to the vertical lines of the loops and double decreases. But it’s also clear within several stitches if you’ve miscounted, because the pattern doesn’t line up. I’ve only had to use a lifeline once so far on this scarf.

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It’s going to be a long scarf! It’s already about 18 inches, and I’m only into the third color, not counting that tiny bit of yellow at the beginning, and I still have purples, greens, and blues left. It felt like the orange was never going to end, which sucked because I really hate orange. Too perky.

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Here, you can see the transition from the orange, to the dark pinkish-orange, to the magenta. I can’t wait to get into the “cool” colors, which are my favorite.

Part of my edit arrived a while ago, though, so I have to work a bit before I can knit today. But I have some weird nervous energy going, like I’m forgetting something important. I might need to putter around the house a bit and see if that helps, or if I remember whatever it is.

I could’ve crocheted about four scarves in the amount of time this knit one is taking so far, but old dog, new tricks…important if you want to keep your brain from turning to lumpy oatmeal.