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.

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.

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.)

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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