Dream: Francis Dolarhyde, Duck-Sitter

ducks3

I know, right? A little background, maybe. Disney World, here we come…  in December, just a few weeks short of Little Sister’s 5th birthday, the family will travel to Florida for several days in Orlando followed by several days visiting Dad in his winter habitat on Sarasota Bay. Naturally, we’re all quite excited, but a week’s vacation does present a bit of an inconvenience when you have animals that require daily care. The dogs and cats aren’t a problem, as I happen to own a veterinary hospital that offers luxury boarding for the furry family. The livestock, however, are a different matter. We’re a small animal hospital and have no facilities for the horses, and we have too many ducks, chickens and guineas to even consider rounding them up and depositing them somewhere. That leaves us in need of someone to either stop by daily, or find a house-sitter, and I’ve been in the process of trying to find someone so as to save any of our nearby family members from the obligation during the busy holiday season…

* * *

I’m packing for the trip when I get the contest notification, and it’s good news! The pet-sitting website not only has matched my needs with an available pet-sitter, but I’m one of a few lucky vacationers who’s won a Fictional Character Pet-Sitting Experience! (Huh?) Using online algorithms based on my browsing activities, the contest coordinators are certain that they’ve found for me a match made in heaven, as my fictional character is one played by none other than Richard Armitage! (Obviously, whoever’s in charge of the algorithms is really quite competent.) I jump online to learn more and am immediately distracted by buzz on various social media platforms that Richard’s Charitable Pet-Sitting Initiative will be kicking off soon, along with plenty of rumors and speculations about what kind of pet-sitting and for whom and for when! Suddenly, I realize that this could be connected to my Fictional Character Pet-Sitting Experience, and that if I’m right, I may have that elusive “scoop” I’ve been waiting for! 

cesare

Option 1: Cesare Borgia. He looks like he could handle just about any pet-sitting task.

Exhilarated, I log in to the pet-sitting website, ready to learn more about how this is all going to work, and my heart beats faster as I begin to read the list of fictional characters that will be pet-sitting for the holidays! There are some really amazing names here! Cesare Borgia immediately pops out (ok, so that one’s a real historical figure,  though fictionally portrayed on The Borgias which I happen to be immersed in at the moment. And may I just say, dayum….) as well as Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones, The Governor from The Walking Dead, and others, and they all seem to follow one theme… they’re baddies. Some are outright villains, while others are more in the anti-hero category, and as I go down the list, my exhilaration begins to transform into mild alarm. Nevertheless, knowing that I’ve scored a Richard Armitage character, I can’t help but speculate that, well, Guy of Gisborne would fit right in on this list. The perfect baddie…. and one that would absolutely qualify as a major fandom coup! (Am I right, ladies?) Near the bottom of the page, however, it’s not Gisborne’s name and face that causes my heart to stop… it’s the partially masked face of Francis Dolarhyde!

francis

Option 2: Francis Dolarhyde. He looks a little less equipped for my needs.

The implications are mind-boggling. I immediately (and quite sensibly!) begin to panic, wondering whether Francis Dolarhyde already has the information I’ve submitted to the pet-sitting service: where I live, where I’m going, my family details, my… pets! What have I gotten myself into? Is it too late to stop the company from releasing my pet-sitting information to the serial killer? Can I be matched with someone else? (Someone less…psychotically insane, perhaps?) Is it too late to trade for Cesare Borgia? 

I immediately call the company to relate my consternation (and you know it’s a dire pet-sitting mismatch if I’m prepared to call and confront rather than e-mail my concerns!) but the representative reassures me that Francis D. has been fully vetted (by whom? Ted Bundy?) and is more than capable of caring for my feathered friends. He goes on to extol the virtues of the actor Richard Armitage, and reminds me that Dolarhyde is, in fact, a fictitious character, and I need have no qualms whatsoever about him having my information. No, he can’t send Cesare. Cesare has already been deployed to a pet-sitting assignment in Naples. (I didn’t ask whether he meant Florida or Italy.) Furthermore, Francis Dolarhyde is en route and expected to arrive in Oklahoma at any moment for his debriefing with me! (Sounds a little racy, doesn’t it?) I hang up the phone, slightly mollified, reasoning that of course it won’t really be a serial killer that this company deploys to my home. (Just imagine the liability!) No, everything should be fine. They’re sending Richard Armitage. Kind, competent, all-around good guy Richard Armitage. He wouldn’t slaughter anyone. 

Hubby isn’t any more enchanted with the idea of Francis Dolarhyde arriving at any moment than I am. He immediately starts to run through all the reasons why this is a horrible idea as he pulls the 22 rifle down and begins to load it. I’m torn between a natural concern for Richard Armitage’s safety, and a stronger concern for my family’s immediate safety. Hubby is really not happy with me at the moment, and is bringing up ancillary concerns that had not occurred to me yet. Hubby thinks we should warn the neighbors. (That’s sure to go over well! How about a note in their mailbox that says, “Howdy, neighbor! We’ve hired a serial killer who massacres entire families to care for our ducks. He’ll be in the area for the next eight days, so please don’t forget to lock your doors at night and post a sentinel! Have a Merry Christmas!”)  Hubby also isn’t convinced that the authorities shouldn’t be notified. (“Hello! Our family is going on a Disney vacation and we’ve hired a pet-sitter that might be of interest to law enforcement in several states! Oh, and if you might send a patrol car around every few hours to check on our ducks’ safety, we’d really appreciate it!”) I admit to Hubby that assuming we survive the meeting with Dolarhyde when we line him out about his daily animal duties, I’m also somewhat nervous about the animals themselves. Hubby decides to conceal his wildlife game cameras here and there about the property, thinking we can document Dolarhyde’s activities and record any crimes he might commit while pet-sitting. As Hubby gets to work setting up his surveillance system, I raid my fabric stash in the quilting room and start draping the mirrors throughout the house. 

When I finish with that, I resume packing. (Apparently my alarm is not so exaggerated as to cause me to cancel our Disney vacation!) I glance out the window and see Hubby has put a round bale out for the horses (after all, who knows whether Dolarhyde knows how to operate a tractor!) and is now down at the fence line having a conversation with the neighbor. I have no idea what Hubby has told him, but neither man seems to be particularly agitated, and I’m relieved that the neighbor has taken it so well. Hubby, too, seems to have settled down, and I see him shake hands and pat our neighbor’s shoulder in that manly fashion as they part. 

I realize that Hubby has embraced the theory that it’s actually going to be Richard Armitage rather than The Great Red Dragon for our caretaker. This is reassuring to me, as well, and I decide to take a few minutes to set a few bottles of red wine on the kitchen island, then I remember that Francis Dolarhyde seems to enjoy martinis. I pull out bottles of vodka, gin and vermouth, not really sure what type of martini Francis prefers, but I figure he’s welcome to any and all of our liquor if it keeps him mellow and occupied. The next time I look out the window, I see a tall figure in Belstaff leather walking up the driveway, and a white panel van parked outside the gate.

white panel van

White Panel Vans. Never very reassuring.

Immediately my qualms return. It’s the white panel van that has caused me to again question whether we’re dealing with Richard Armitage, or Francis Dolarhyde. (This scenario, where I have trouble deciding whether it’s Richard or one of his characters, seems to be a recurring theme in my dreams! He’s slippery that way.)  I call the kids and order them into the family car, lugging our suitcases out and loading them up. I can’t get my children out of harm’s way soon enough.

guinea

The guineas will ALWAYS sound the alarm!

What’s even more disturbing, though, is that I see the guinea fowl have flown into a tree and I begin to hear them start in with their loud alarm calls. (Anyone not familiar with guineas may not know that these docile but alert birds have uncanny “watchdog” capabilities… an acute awareness of predators within their habitat, if you will. They make a distinct, almost operatic call that is sounded to alert both us and their fellow poultry to any intrusion, day or night. Whether it’s a delivery person, a coyote, a neighbor dog, or a fictional psychopath pet-sitter, the guineas will let us know!) Pulse now pounding, I start the car, and hit the gate opener so we can make a fast exit if we need to. (I don’t question the guineas’ intuitive knowledge of stranger danger, and neither should anyone else!) Hubby, however, ignores this ominous development and walks down to meet the pet-sitter, carrying his 22 rifle casually at his side. Despite the guinea noise, I do find myself admiring Hubby’s casual confidence as he approaches the unsub. I pull out my phone and surreptitiously film the men as they turn toward the barn. I can’t make out what they’re saying, but I’m relieved to see that Francis Dolarhyde doesn’t have the mask on, nor is he wearing those disagreeable dentures. 

feeding time

Where’s our corn?

The ducks and the chickens, as per their usual habit, immediately notice that Hubby is approaching the barn and begin running toward the feeding area, hoping for corn. I wait to see what the guineas will do. Suddenly, it becomes clear to me that whatever the guineas decide will be my barometer, my index, my indicator. I’ll soon know whether Francis Dolarhyde is to be trusted as a duck-sitter, or if I will call 911. (Because apparently when in doubt, I always leave life-or-death decisions to the pea-sized brain of the flightiest creature nearby!)

Hubby and Dolarhyde emerge from the barn as the the ducks and chickens mill around near the door. Dolarhyde stumbles a bit as our bossiest chicken cuts across his path, and he spills a little corn out of his can. Immediately all the fowl converge on the spilled corn, so he sort of shrugs and dumps out the remainder of his can, and Hubby then casts his own can of corn in a more practiced arc, demonstrating how to best disperse the corn so all the feathered pets are sure to get their share. Dolarhyde nods, seeming to understand the better method.

The guinea noise subsides. I hold my breath. After a few more moments of breathless anticipation, the guineas fly out of the tree and past our car. They land at the feet of Francis Dolarhyde, and peck at the corn.

Weak with relief, I realize that everything will be just fine. 

It’s Disney Time.

 

 

 

Dream: Richard Armitage Norwegian Wedding

RAnorwegianwedding

I have weddings on the brain. As you may recall, Little Sister and I recently attended my cousin’s wedding in Colorado, and the Young Love and I are scheduled to attend my aunt’s wedding to her longtime girlfriend in Colorado next month. Apparently, all these weddings have spilled over into my subconscious, and I’m happy to say that Richard Armitage finally revisited my dreamscape.

For a little background, I should tell you just a bit about the wedding I recently attended. It turns out that my cousin’s new father-in-law, who we’ll call “Dennis”, is one of those people you might say is a Serious Control Freak. According to my cousin, there were times during the wedding planning when his fiancé was reduced to tears because Dennis the Menace was continually taking charge and refusing to listen to her wishes regarding the wedding service, the decorations, the reception, or any of it. So forceful was Dennis’ personality, in fact, that the couple actually planned their honeymoon in secret, not telling any family member where they were going, because having caved to Dennis on numerous other issues, they didn’t want any interference from him on their honeymoon!

So “our” side of the family, being rather more laid back, derived a great deal of snarky amusement watching Dennis direct activities like a military general at the wedding reception. I do have to hand it to Dennis… everything went off very smoothly, if in a slightly regimented fashion! And although I was too intimidated by Dennis to approach him, I did later wish I’d gone over to the brides’ family table to talk to them about their Norwegian roots. Some of her family came all the way from Norway for the wedding, and I was charmed by their willingness to come so far.

* * *

I am in a state of agitation, completely flustered, because I have missed Richard Armitage’s wedding ceremony. (I can’t explain how I came to be invited, nor do I know the identity of his new spouse. It seems that this fortuitous individual’s name has been kept undisclosed, but I expected to learn the secret at the wedding!) I have my four-year old daughter in tow, and she’s dressed to the nines in her rainbow dress. I am also wearing a dress, and part of my agitation is due to the fact that I did not have time to shower before the ceremony, or to fix my hair or apply new makeup. In fact, I’m feeling really hot and sweaty, in part due to my anxiety over having missed the ceremony, and in part because I have been wielding my lefse stick over several hot griddles in the kitchen all afternoon, feverishly preparing a tall stack of lefse with my family.

Lefse Project

This is a really small lefse crew. You can see we start them young in my family. Young Love was two, and Little Sister was 1 week old when Dad and Brother came to visit. We couldn’t let an opportunity to celebrate the new baby’s arrival pass without making lefse!

Let’s take a moment here, because not everyone may be familiar with lefse. And that is a shame. Lefse, in my humble opinion, is just about the most delicious stuff in the world. It’s an ultra-thin (think crepe) potato- based Norwegian flatbread that is heavenly when eaten warm off the griddle, dripping with butter. Now, some people enjoy lefse with cinnamon-sugar sprinkled on, but in my family, we prefer straight-up hot buttered lefse, and we will use any excuse for a family gathering to get a crew together and make an enormous batch. This labor of love involves about 10-lb of potatoes boiled, peeled and riced, which are then mixed into a dough with heavy cream, flour and lard the day before the lefse party. The lefse assembly process involves specialized equipment, a great quantity of flour, the consumption of alcoholic beverages, and plenty of lefse smack-talk. Ideally we need one person to form dough balls, a couple more to roll out the dough, one or two to man the griddles, and someone to stack and steam and carefully count the lefse.

Although I’ve missed the exchange of vows, I am still in time to make it to Richard Armitage’s wedding reception. While I may not have fresh hair and makeup, I do come prepared in one respect. I have an insulated bag full of lovingly prepared lefse, which I was instructed by Dennis to provide for the wedding reception. (In fact, knowing my family and the way we obsessive-compulsively count and divvy up the lefse, all participants watching like hawks to ensure a fair portion of lefse is allotted for personal consumption, I was probably late due to negotiating the number of lefse that would be relinquished for Richard Armitage versus the number of lefse that the family would keep!) Although Richard’s new spouse is shrouded in mystery, Dennis has indicated that there will be a large Norwegian contingent in attendance, and I am speculating that Richard may have married some long-legged Scandinavian supermodel. 

With my precious lefse bag in one hand and my daughter’s hand in the other, I enter the ballroom. I notice that many of the guests are already seated, and many of them are wearing beautiful Norwegian sweaters. I look up toward the dais where the wedding party is seated above the rest, and I immediately spot Richard Armitage in the center. (Apparently I’m flustered enough that I forget to see who the best man is or to really look at any of the wedding party other than Richard.) I see that the chair adjacent to Richard is empty. Glancing around, I spot Dennis, who is checking his watch rather impatiently. Where is the Scandinavian supermodel, or whoever it is Richard has married?

lefse1

The recipe is simple, if time-consuming, and passed down over countless generations. There is no describing the mouth-watering aroma or the perfection of each buttery, potatoey bite. =)

I quickly make my way over to the buffet table and talk for a moment with the caterers about a covered dish to keep the lefse moist and warm, and ask for butter to be placed nearby. Then I take my seat. I study Richard, who is looking gorgeous in a black tuxedo, but has furrowed brows. I presume he’s wondering where his spouse might be. (Though maybe he’s uncomfortable because he knows that Nobody screws with Dennis’ time table at wedding receptions!) As we wait for something to happen, Little Sister starts asking when they will be cutting the cake, and when the dancing will begin. (So many boys, so little time!)

Pretty soon Dennis approaches the dais and speaks to Richard, who shakes his head and indicates he doesn’t know. Dennis begins to gesticulate and point to his watch, and Richard, harried, scans the room hopefully. Still no spouse. Dennis and Richard then exit the room, only to return a few minutes later. Richard takes his seat, and Dennis speaks to the wait staff, who begin to circulate, taking drink orders. More time elapses, and at some point, Little Sister escapes and begins asking boys to dance. Boy after boy shakes his head no. (The other parents evidently have better control over their offspring!)

Little Sister, who is a veteran of a Dennis-controlled wedding reception, then gets a bright idea. She approaches the man himself. (Not Richard. Dennis Runs The Program at these events!) She tugs on Dennis’ pants, and when he bends down to hear her better, I can only assume she either asks Dennis to dance (this did happen at my cousin’s wedding, BTW. To Dennis’ credit, he complied!) or she asks Dennis to get this party started, but in either case, Dennis sets his shoulders, takes her by the hand, and Dennis and Little Sister march back to the dais. After a few stern words with Richard, who finally shrugs and accepts the inevitable, Dennis turns to the attendees and announces that it’s time to eat and dance. Nobody addresses the elephant in the room: Richard’s significant other still has not appeared!

mittens

Norwegian Lover’s Mittens

After everyone has filled their plates and taken their seats, Dennis announces that some of the attendees have travelled all the way from Norway, and one of the Norwegians has asked to make a short speech in honor of Richard and his absent spouse. Everyone applauds, and an older gentleman dressed in a Norwegian sweater stands up and goes to stand behind Richard and the empty seat. After a few remarks about his travels in the United States that don’t seem to apply at all to the matter at hand, the elderly Norwegian gentleman says his wife has knitted a trio of Norwegian Lover’s Mittens in honor of the couple. He holds up 3 mittens: a right-hand mitten, a left-hand mitten, and a conjoined mitten for the hand-holding couple to wear together. Dennis, realizing that the special moment is somewhat diminished by the lack of a marital partner to demonstrate the mittens, lifts Little Sister up to the dais, and the elderly Norwegian gentleman helps her to stand on the empty chair. Richard good-naturedly dons his left-handed mitten, Little Sister dons the right-handed mitten, and my heart melts as they work out how to put on the shared mitten, then hold up their joined hands for all to see. (Where does my brain come up with these themes?!)

Reception Dance

Now how lucky is he? *snickers*

Never one to miss a golden opportunity, Little Sister then asks the hottest guy in the room to dance. Richard Armitage is either unable to resist her, or unwilling to disappoint her, (or intimidated into capitulation by Dennis!) because he stands up and, still wearing the mittens, carries Little Sister onto the dance floor. He sets her down, and having to stoop to keep hold of her hands, they begin to dance. 

stagedoorPretty soon, ladies begin to form a line along one wall near the dance floor, each waiting her turn to dance with Richard. Several kids and a few couples join the dancers, and Little Sister soon finds a new partner. It’s beginning to remind me of The Stage Door. (In fact, it’s exactly like that!) Even at his own, bizarre wedding reception, Richard Armitage finds himself confronting a line of expectant ladies, and graciously, he begins to dance for short periods with each of them. 

Meanwhile, another line is forming, consisting almost exclusively of Norwegians (easily identified by their sweaters, of course!) over at the buffet table, and I realize that the servers have put out the lefse. (Perhaps only those of us of Norwegian descent will appreciate the spot-on nature of this! LOL). I watch the lefse anxiously, knowing that the supply is limited. As the stack of lefse dwindles, I begin to become very concerned that Richard Armitage is not going to get any lefse! (This, ladies, would be an absolute calamity!) I start looking back and forth between the line of Norwegians and the line of ladies, and I realize that there is no way that Richard will have time to dance with all the ladies, and still be in time to get his lefse. I can’t let that happen. If I thought I was sweaty before, it was nothing compared to what I’m feeling now… this wedding reception is already enough of a debacle without Richard missing out on my lefse! 

After briefly deliberating whether I should try to notify Dennis about the lefse situation, I decide to take matters into my own hands. I stand up, and move to the front of the line at the dance floor, trying to ignore the sharp looks and the air of resentment from the ladies in line. Richard is spending about 30 seconds dancing with each lady, so it isn’t long before he’s standing in front of me with a polite but vacant smile, holding out his hand to take me onto the dance floor. I have no intention of dancing, not even with Richard Armitage. (Two left feet. Trust me, my four-year old can out-dance me any day of the week!)

“Um, if you want to take a quick break, the lefse is almost gone!”

Richard snaps out of his autopilot and leans in closer. “The left what is almost gone?”

“The lefse!”

“Pardon me?”

I say it several more times as I lead Richard away from the dance floor, but clearly he has no clue what lefse is. Luckily, he seems willing enough to come along with me, but I’m feeling very awkward because I’ve just pissed off half the non-Norwegian guests and Richard is looking bewildered. (Just what kind of Scandinavian has he married who never bothered to tell him about lefse?) We reach the buffet table and stand at the end of the line. (Apparently, I’ll risk the wrath of cutting into the would-be dance line, but I know better than to cut in front of Norwegians in line for lefse!) As the line moves slowly forward, I point to the Norwegians and try to get across to Richard that what they’re eating is lefse. He’s nodding. Maybe he understands me, maybe he doesn’t. I glance up at him, and he appears to be looking at my hair with a slight smile.

“Flowers in your hair?” For a moment I’m confused, then I pat my head to see if I’ve misplaced a flower there, and a small flurry of white powder puffs out of my hair. With horror, I realize Richard has noticed flour in my hair! 

“From the lefse! I made it this afternoon!” Richard smiles kindly. I wish I’d showered. Before I can die of mortification, I suddenly see that the very last piece of lefse is being plated. I gesture helplessly, and Richard witnesses the tragic moment as well. 

Although he clearly doesn’t know what he is missing, Richard appears genuinely disappointed. His shoulders slump, but I suspect he’s mostly sympathetic on my behalf. Clearly, serving him my lefse was important to me. Richard asks if there is any more in the kitchen, and I shake my head. Then he must have seen a shifty expression cross my face, because he asks, (with remarkable acuity) whether there is any more lefse at my house. (Crap!) Of course there is, but I don’t really want to share my private stash! Even with Richard Armitage! (I’m ashamed to admit that my generosity unfortunately has its limits, and its limits start with my lefse allotment. LOL)

As I narrow my eyes and wonder if I’m enough of an actress to deceive Richard Armitage about my lefse supply, Richard’s gaze suddenly shoots to something over my shoulder, and his face transforms with delight. Without having to turn around, I know that his wedded love has arrived at last. I give him a congratulatory pat on the shoulder and wave him away, vastly relieved that I don’t have to procure a single piece of lefse from my reserve.

I’m so pleased with this development, that I forget to even notice who the hell it was that Richard Armitage has married. 

* * *

Dream: Supermarket Mortification Contest with Richard Armitage

 

 

 

 

I recently had a really rather humiliating outing to the pharmacy. This is so embarrassing that I hesitate to share it here, but it does provide some context for the weird, weird dream I had last night. Anyway, with one kid in preschool and another in kindergarten, it’s somewhat inevitable that the kids become exposed to various nasty things once in a while. No matter how much parents and teachers try to prevent it, it’s just an undeniable fact that kids cough, sneeze, rub their eyes, pick their noses, scratch their bottoms etc., and they don’t always wash their hands or use the antiseptic gels before they resume playing with toys, handling crayons, and so forth. Hence, it’s a fact of life that the kids now and again come home with a stomach bug, a respiratory virus, pink-eye, or the embarrassing problem of: pinworms.

When you start to see a little kid scratching his or her rear end continually, think pinworms. And be worried. Because those little nematodes are very easily transmitted, and can spread to the whole family in no time, due to the worms’ tactics of emerging and laying eggs in the underwear and bed sheets in the night (do you wash your hands every time you handle the kids’ dirty laundry or change the sheets? You should!) They also cause an unbearable itch, so the kid scratches it, and if they don’t wash their hands, the microscopic eggs are deposited on any object that they then handle. As a veterinary aside… don’t blame the pets for pinworms. They come from humans.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I had cause to suspect one of the kids might have pinworms after I observed my child frantically scratching his or her rear end, and being the veterinary diagnostician that I am, I knew it could be easily confirmed microscopically. A pair of gloves, a piece of scotch tape applied to the itchy area first thing the following morning, and an examination of the tape applied to the microscope slide later at work confirmed the problem, and I thought about using the pyrantel pamoate we have at the clinic, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Even though it’s the same active ingredient and I can calculate a human dose as easily as I can calculate a veterinary dose, I just didn’t really want to give my kids the dose out of the large bottle of pyrantel we have on hand for the puppies. So I made a run to the pharmacy, looking for Pin X.

Very, very embarrassing. First I could not find it, and had to ask for help from the pharmacist with several people in line. Then I was directed, red-faced, to the anti-fungal section, which is in itself a bit embarrassing. (Apparently the pharmacy concluded that “Ringworm” and “Pinworm” were similar enough to be shelved together. *Smacks head* Why didn’t I think of that? LOL) Anyway, I bought a couple of bottles, and made the whole family take the Pin X, even though 3 of us weren’t suffering any symptoms… yet. Better to be safe than sorry, right? So there I was at the counter with 2 bottles of Pin X, feeling very self-conscious, and publicly parasitized. It was not an experience I’d care to repeat. In fact, when I got home, I ordered another couple of bottles from an online source, so I’d just have it on hand if this frightful problem ever revisits our household, and not have to make another such awkward run to Walgreens…..

On to the dream…

* * *

I am in the pharmacy section of the largest supermarket in town, furtively looking for Pin X. I search the aisles, high and low, but am so far unsuccessful. Remembering the layout over at Walgreens, I decide to check the anti-fungal section before throwing in the towel. I round the corner into a new aisle, and that’s when I see a tall man wearing sunglasses and a ball cap pulled low over his forehead.

He’s standing in front of the anti-fungal ointments and topical sprays, and I decide to casually peruse other products, not wanting to have him see me pick up a bottle of Pin X and put it in my cart. The man looks familiar, having a tall, lean build… and he looks really nice from behind, but I can’t see more than his profile. Sympathetic to the potential embarrassment of being caught browsing the antifungal products, I try to avoid staring at the man. He’s reading the fine print on a can of Tinactin, and out of the corner of my eye, I suddenly realize that this man’s hand is familiar, and elegant. There’s something about that thumb… with a little gasp, I realize it’s Richard Armitage! I back my cart out of the aisle, practically hyperventilating, hoping he didn’t hear me gasp. I start to head as far away from the pharmacy section as I can get, because the last thing I want or need is an encounter with Richard Armitage involving Pin X or Tinactin.

I make my way to the grocery section, and do some shopping, trying to calm down. I can’t believe Richard Armitage is at the supermarket… and I can’t help myself. I wonder if he might have Athlete’s foot. And I really hope he doesn’t have Ringworm. Poor Richard! The third possibility… I won’t even go there. No! I. Said. I. Won’t. Go. There. I enter the canned food aisle, and I see the man again. This time, I decide to play it casual, and not put it in reverse and back out of the aisle, because to have that happen twice might rouse Richard’s suspicions. I pass his cart, glance in, see the Tinactin. I also see a box of Gas X. OMG. I didn’t just see that. I glance at Richard and see he’s not paying attention to me. He has a crafty smile on his face, and a humongous 32oz can of pinto beans in his hand. He tosses it into the cart with a chuckle and continues past me, heading in the opposite direction.

WTF is he doing with an enormous can of beans and box of Gas X??!?

That’s his business, I tell myself. That’s Richard’s business and I won’t speculate. I continue shopping. I move on to the kid’s clothing section, now starting to giggle a bit myself. That’s just such an embarrassing assortment of things to be buying. Poor Richard! As I grab a couple of packages of kid’s socks, I spot Armitage again. He’s in the panty-hose section and has a package of tan panty-hose. I shake my head and hope he gets the tallest ones available, and speed in the opposite direction. My head is spinning. How can I be attracted to a man who buys panty hose? Or any of the other things that insane man has in his cart?

With Richard safely occupied in the women’s hosiery section, I head back to the pharmacy and rush into the aisle for the Pin X. I grab a couple of boxes and try to hide them under my other groceries, then head back out. I hear that low, sardonic chuckle again and can’t help myself… I know that’s Richard behind me. I really don’t want to see what he has now, and I sure as hell hope he didn’t see me with the Pin X! Still, it’s as if someone else is controlling my cart, because I find myself making a U-turn, and sure enough, there he is again, this time with some kind of wart-remedy product in one hand, and anti-foot-stink powder in the other hand. My jaw drops, and damned if I don’t glance up and see he’s removed his sunglasses, and he’s onto me.

He winks.

I gape.

“Hey, Doc.”

I gulp. I try to say something, but there are no words. I shake my head and sort of wave and gesture at his cart.

He grins and raises an eyebrow.

“It’s all in the way of a Twitter joke,” he offers.

“Hashtag #PeopleOfWalmart?” I respond.

He smiles.

I rifle through my groceries and locate the most embarrassing product of all.

“Don’t forget this, then.”

I hand Richard Armitage a bottle of Pin X. He accepts it, his eyes goggle, and I hear a guffaw as I put it in reverse, wheel my cart around, and make haste for the cashier.

I don’t look back.

* * *

I think this dream might be even more mortifying than the time Hubby brought out the Naked… well, you know what.

Seriously, I never need to see Richard Armitage again.

 

 

 

Dream: Richard Armitage Spurns Unique Cat Breath Opportunity!

I haven’t had a memorable Armitage Dream since late October! Somewhat of a long draught, but last night I had the pleasure of another rather cute (translate: G-rated!) dream starring Richard Armitage, my family, and our kitten-cat, Zax. *I* thought it was pretty entertaining, but maybe only because I have the benefit of knowing the child, and can’t help but find his antics continually amusing…

* * *

charliebrown1

The Young Love as Charlie Brown, 2013 Preschool Christmas Program

I’m at home alone, feverishly speed-dialing family and friends to remind them that my young love’s performance at last year’s preschool Christmas program is about to be televised on PBS! (The kiddo’s pre-K class did a Charlie Brown-themed play last December, and the young love had the leading role. Naturally, Mommy and Daddy were stupendously proud!)  Apparently, PBS is doing a feature on children’s theatre performance, and this humble preschool production has been selected to be featured on the show! (This stellar production really was videoed for posterity… for a fundraising effort whereby the smitten parents buy the DVD, though: not for television! LOL) Hubby has the kids, and has gone down to the PBS studio to chaperone the young love for the PBS station interview. (While I, apparently, stayed home. To man the DVR, evidently. Right. Moving on.) Little do I know, this program is to feature not only the young love’s phenomenal performance as Charlie Brown and various other worthy children’s theatre productions, but is also to feature old footage of several noteworthy celebrities’ early childhood theatre experiences.

The show kicks off, and I watch excitedly, enjoying all the cute snippets from various kid productions around the world, and secure in the knowledge that my young love made the cutest Charlie Brown ever to be seen in live theatre or television. Just as the show is wrapping up, getting ready to move to the studio interviews with the young love and other child performers, I’m blown away to see a brief, Thorin-filled selection from the most recent BOFA trailer, and the PBS host announces that they happen to have exclusive footage of Richard Armitage in his FIRST Hobbit appearance, when he was just a small boy, cast as an elf!  

I can’t believe this scoop! As far as I know, this PBS appearance was not announced anywhere in the fandom, and what are the chances many Armitage admirers would be watching this rather obscure PBS documentary? I might be the one to “break the story” and I happen to be at home, manning the DVR recording the show because the young love was to be featured!! I watch with unmitigated delight as the clips of young Armitage begin to roll. The spindly youth has enormous elf ears, and moves lightly across the stage. He’s simply adorable. Almost as adorable as the Charlie Brown star I’ve just been watching. There isn’t much to it, no dialogue from youthful Richard-the-elf, and it’s over in minutes.

RAcasual1

He looked roughly like this… Is it hot in here????

I check Twitter, WordPress, and Richard Armitage Central on my phone, and there is no mention of it yet! (I seem to always be eager to get “the scoop” for the fandom in my dreams. Like the time I found out about the secret wax figure RA characters at Madame Tussaud’s London. LOL. In real life I tend to be the last to know.) PBS cuts to the studio, and I see my own young love sitting on a large couch with about 5 other children; he’s wearing his Charlie Brown shirt, and seems to be preoccupied with a duffel bag on his lap. This niggles at me, but I am soon distracted: the camera pans around to the other side of a coffee table, and on another couch, sits Richard Armitage and the host of the show! Richard is short-haired and is sporting the stubbled look. He’s wearing casual jeans, black shirt, and black boots. He looks relaxed, and is watching the squirming couch-full across from him with a warm and open expression.

The host of the show introduces the children by first name, and then introduces Richard Armitage. Richard is asked a question or two about his experiences filming the Hobbit, and asked to compare the Peter Jackson mega-blockbuster with the children’s theatre performance from his youth. Richard makes a little joke about the dragon in the early production being basically nothing but smoke and red light, and that’s when I hear a familiar, lisping voice loudly interrupt to announce “But did you know… When I grow up, I’m going to be EITHER a Dragon Sthlayer, or… a Dentisth!” The camera quickly pans out, now showing both couches, but nobody needs to tell me who has just interrupted Richard’s answer. I’ve heard all about my child’s professional aspirations before.

dragonslayerdentist

Maybe the young love is onto something.

Richard’s face lights up and he smiles at the absurdity of this pronouncement. “Are you really? A dragon slayer, or a dentist!  And you can’t be both?” The young love furrows his brow, and takes a moment to thoughtfully ponder such a notion.

“Actually, did you know… a Dragon Sthlayer could be a Dentisth because a Dentisth can kill the tartar-bug in your mouth and make bad breath disthappear, AND a Dragon Sthlayer can kill a dragon and dragonths have bad breath, too? That’ths why I want to be a Dragon Sthlayer because dragonths have BURNING BAD BREATH!”

Richard is chuckling now, and he praises my young love’s determination to fight bad breath on every front. My heart rate has increased, and my foolish grin must be enormous, but the young love isn’t done educating Richard. “Right! But did you know… that old caths can have bad breath but kittenths don’t have bad breath? And did you know… my Mommy can pull out bad teeth on caths?”

crinkles2a

Quick! Somebody screen-capture those crinkles!

Richard, judging by the elevation of his forehead crinkles, is apparently dumbstruck by this revelation, and simply says, “Can she really?”

The young love nods knowledgeably, then unzips his duffel bag and his kitten, Zax, a long-haired black cat of about 6 months age, scrambles out. Because he’s tried putting Zax into a duffel bag on more than one occasion, the young love is ready for him, and manages to snag the laid-back cat  before he reaches the floor, and the cat relaxes like a ragdoll, knowing it is the path of least resistance when a child has hold of him. Young love carries the kitten-cat over to Richard Armitage and introduces him, offering Richard the opportunity to smell the pet’s breath. “Zaxth has good breath. Thsee? You can sthmell insthide hith mouth and it sthmellth like cat food!”

zax1

The ragdoll effect. And the source of the lisp is clearly evident in this photo, as well.

Richard, with a priceless expression, is now leaning as far away from the proffered cat breath as possible, and declines this sniff firmly but politely. The young love asks if Richard would like to hold the cat, and Richard again declines politely, trying not to laugh. “But did you know… if we don’t hold on to Zaxth, he will get sthtraight into that plant!” He points to the on-set decor. “Zaxth alwayth climbth up into my Mommy’th planths and then my Mommy maketh a sthound like thith: PFFFFFTH! and that sthpooked him out of the plant. But here: you hold him!”

Zax is plunked onto Richard’s lap, and like any sensible creature, seems well-pleased to be there. He circles once then settles in, making biscuits. The young love is evidently satisfied that Richard is holding the kitten safely, even if still leaning as far back as possible, and moves off to inspect sound equipment. (We’ve been to a number of pre-school Christmas programs. When he was three, the young love participated not at all, forsaking the song and dance for the chance to open a trapdoor and fiddle around with sound equipment onstage.) Hubby is in the audience and gestures emphatically for the young love to get back to the couch. The young love continues frizzling with sound equipment and ignores his father’s stern gestures like a champ. As if nothing off-script has occurred, the host winks conspiratorially and resumes the discussion, and Richard reluctantly hangs onto the cat. (Far be it from Richard to allow the cat to get into anyone’s plant!) He has a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights look at first, but soon relaxes.

However, the temptation presented by a fluffy black kitten and a closer inspection of sound equipment is simply too overwhelming for the other young theatre performers, and pretty soon several other children have left the couch. The little girls swarm around Richard Armitage, (no surprise there!) while the little boys join the young love in fingering the sound equipment. The little girls, ignoring the boring adult talk, are now petting and cooing to the cat. Pretty soon I see my three-year old daughter, who is supposed to be in the studio audience, has joined the mix. I glance at Hubby, and see mortified resignation on his face. (He clearly should have been the one to stay home and man the DVR…  *I* would not have missed the cat in the duffel bag, or let the daughter slip onto the set. You can take that to the bank!)

catbreath1

I must assume this is a fear of Richard’s.

Although he couldn’t be bothered to mind his daddy, this development does get the young love’s attention. “Did you know… that’th my sthisther! Sthissthy: did you know, he didn’t smell Zaxth’ breath!!” Sissy gives Richard Armitage a pitying look, letting him know he’s missed a real opportunity. It seems our daughter has not made the connection between the unfortunate fellow who won’t smell kitten breath, and her beloved Swisher. (It must be the lack of Twinkle Stars on his wall.) She opens her mouth to say something, but the host of the show, a little flustered now, announces they will cut to commercial. As the film pans out, I see Hubby leap to his feet and hurry over with the duffel bag to collect Zax off Richard’s lap.

Richard and Hubby pass a conspiratorial look, and without any words spoken aloud, I clearly read the silent conversation, the conversation that they dare not have in front of a studio audience and a handful of children.

They say not one word about a Fluffy Black Pussy.

* * *

Perhaps fortunately, I don’t remember anything after they cut to commercial. Note to self: take every precaution in future to be physically present for these proud parental moments! Hubby is absolutely not to be trusted to supervise PBS broadcasting appearances ever again!

May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a Very Happy New Year? Here’s to more Richard Armitage dreams in 2015… =)

Cheers!

Dream: (Halloween Special) Cult of the Armitage-Automata

I had quite the creepy dream, more of a nightmare, really… and thought it was actually rather fitting to share on Halloween.

poppet

What signifies a poppet?

* * *

cumberbatch_wax

Benedict Cumberbatch wax figure, Madame Tussauds, London (Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images)

I’m in London, visiting Benedict Cumberbatch. Not the actual Benedict Cumberbatch, you understand, but the wax version that was recently unveiled at Madame Tussauds. I’m in the middle a whole lot of CumberCollective members, and (though I don’t really affiliate myself as a Cumberbabe, or Cumberbitch, or whatever they are calling themselves these days) their enthusiasm is rather infectious. I’m right there in the throng, looking and acting suspiciously like a Cumberbitch, busy trying to get a selfie with Benedict. I can’t seem to get it right. (What was it Guylty said? Chin out, tilt head… I don’t have the art of the selfie down at all!) After some dreadful results on my first several attempts, I decide to move to a less crowded area to practice my selfie. Once I have the knack of it, I will re-enter the fray and try for a better one with Benedict.

I move down a corridor, looking for a private area where I can practice with my cell phone. I see a door marked “Private” and that is exactly what I’ve been looking for. (Part of me knows I’m not authorized to go in there, but my dream self is apparently willing to break the rules in the name of Benedict Cumberbatch.) I knock hesitantly on the door, and there is no response, so I try the door knob, and find it unlocked. I slip into the darkened room, and feel for a light switch, but there is none. This appears to be a storage area, but there is a dimly lit doorway across the room that appears to have a light source.

I enter the connecting room, which is dimly lit with small lights along the floorboards, but I am able to make out that there are tall wax figures (perfect for practicing!) in here. I find an overhead light switch, flip it on, and what I see here takes my breath. My heart begins to thud, because I’ve just stumbled onto something that as far as I know, is a Real Scoop for my true fandom, the Richard Armitage fandom. We’ve all been wondering if Richard Armitage would ever have his day at Madame Tussauds… and it appears that he secretly has!

THE CRUCIBLE

John Proctor, upright and scowling. (Johan Persson)

Five life-sized wax figures are arranged
in various poses around the room…

John Proctor is standing in the center,
scowling fiercely.

 

 

 

dream1

John Thorton, top hat on his head.

John Thornton, wearing his top hat,
stands gazing pensively, as if waiting,
with one hand behind his back,
and a small stack of books in the other.

 

 

 

 

dream4

Guy of Gisborne, looking up with a smirk.

Guy of Gisborne leans casually
against a post, arms crossed,
with a slight smirk.

 

 

 

dream2

Lucas North, armed and dangerous.

Lucas North has a weapon in one hand,
and the other hand touching his ear,
as if listening to an ear mic.

 

 

dream5

Harry Kennedy, carefree.

Harry Kennedy is dressed for a
walk in the countryside,
and looks casually relaxed and cheerful.

 

 

I am absolutely amazed at my perfect, blind luck! I immediately begin taking pictures from all angles of these gorgeous works of wax. I’ve completely forgotten about practicing selfies, and it doesn’t occur to me to attempt to do selfies with these Richard Armitage characters. They’re too beautiful… I’m thinking to myself that either the management at Madame Tussauds, or one of the wax artists, must be a huge fan of Richard’s work, and am greatly puzzled about why these amazing pieces are not on display in the museum. Is it a work in progress, with more characters to be added? Certainly Thorin ought to have a place, I muse, and John Porter. Even sweetie John Standring, heroic dad Gary WhatsHisName, or Lee in his speedo, would be admirable additions!

I’m so caught up studying these figures in minute detail that I lose track of time. I’m done taking shots of the overall figures, and have moved on to close-ups of elegant hands, chiseled lips, elfish ears and expressive blue eyes. I’m in the middle of a particularly compelling close up of John Thornton’s hand, when the overhead light goes off. A clock chimes somewhere out in the main area of the museum, and I realize it’s midnight! Suddenly aware that I must have missed the closing time, I start to move toward the door, when I hear a distinct click of a lock, and retreating footsteps. Security guard? I move out into the room that I first entered, try the door, and find myself locked in the room! I’m about to call out, when I hear a noise behind me, and all the hairs on my arms stand up.

As far as I knew, I was alone in these rooms. So who was that?

I slowly turn around, and though the lighting is very dim, I see that the wax figure of John Proctor is now seated, with his face in one hand, much like he sat in the opening of The Crucible. He’s not moving; he’s still as wax. Nevertheless, chills run up and down my spine. I could have sworn he was standing a moment ago! My heart is now racing and I am feeling true fear. It’s clear to me that I’ve left a pleasant fantasy world, and entered a horror story instead. I hear another small noise, creep nearer, and see that Gisborne is now looking down, studying a drawn knife. There is now an expression of deadly ferocity on his face. He’s not moving, either, but I know (that I know that I know!) he didn’t have a knife a few minutes ago. He was smirking! His arms were crossed! I have the pictures to prove it!

I slowly and silently sink down to the floor, pressing my cheek against the wall; I am filled with dread and awe… my limbs feel hollow, my lips feel numb. I Must Not Turn My Back On Them. I peek around the door frame again, and now Thornton has moved! He’s taken his hat off with his free hand, and is now looking expectantly up, as if he’s on Margaret’s doorstep. I don’t even want to know what Lucas is up to- if he even is Lucas– what if that’s actually his alter ego John Bateman? That one had a freaking gun last I knew!

As the minutes tick by, I am frozen on the floor, having no idea what kind of alternate reality I’ve fallen into. I hear an occasional scuffing sound, but mostly there is nothing but silence, and the sound of my own heartbeat pounding in my ears. My mind is racing with possibilities, and at some point, I begin to ponder which of these wax figures I could trust the most, in the event that Lucas or Guy, with their weapons, should discover me! I instinctively believe that Harry is probably harmless, but I’m not certain whether the accountant is up to defending me against a warrior like Guy, or a trained operative like Lucas. I know Thornton is good at fisticuffs, but when I last dared to look, he seemed distracted, like his thoughts are on Margaret, so I think I’m going to have to rely on John Proctor. I’m not planning to appeal to Proctor unless I’m in dire need, but I feel better having a plan.

As I sit petrified, hardly daring to breathe, wondering what the hell is going on, I naturally start to second-guess myself. For all I know, these animated wax figures are nothing like the characters they portray. Harry Kennedy could be a smiling psychopath. John Proctor could be the Devil’s familiar! I keep hearing small movements in the dimly lit room, but I no longer have the courage to try to see what the wax figures are up to.

After an interminable period of waiting and wondering, I begin to hear footsteps in the corridor. They draw nearer, but I don’t know if I can, or indeed should, say anything. I don’t know if that’s even a human! For all I know, that could be the wax figure of Adolf Hitler marching around out there! I decide to stay silent.

To my escalating horror, I hear the footsteps stop outside in the corridor. There is a key in the lock, and the door opens. Two women come in, and they are cloaked mysteriously. Whispering to each other, they move past me without ever looking down, and enter the room with the Richard Armitage characters. I hear one of the women whisper that Harry looks to be in the easiest position to carry, and soon they emerge, with soft grunts and staggering slightly, carrying Harry Kennedy horizontally, one at the shoulder level and one at the knee level. Harry’s face is toward me, and I am incredibly creeped out when his eyes lock with mine and stay focused on me as he is carried past. Harry is no longer smiling.

I abruptly decide to try to sneak out in the wake of the two women, judging that they may be distracted enough not to hear me, as they are themselves making a moderate amount of noise as they carry the tall figure of Harry Kennedy through the room. Slipping in behind them, I reach the door to the corridor, and just as I am making my escape, I see an extra cloak hanging from a coat rack just inside the storage room. I snatch the cloak and don it, pulling the hood up just in time. The women shuffle to a stop, so they may shut the door behind them, and they see me. I freeze, but they can’t see my face, and although they mutter in surprise, they assume I am one of them. The woman closest to me asks me to close the door and lock it. I close the door, and fake like I have a key and am locking it.

At this point, I have no choice but to follow along. The women are beginning to huff and puff with the effort of carrying such a large burden. After a short distance, the woman at Harry’s knees orders a stop, and she grunts that she will move to the waist if I can get the knees. I comply, now helping to lighten the load. I am stunned when I realize that Harry’s knees are warm. They flex a little, and I murmur that he’s trying to bend his legs, and the woman in front says, quietly but authoritatively, “None of that, Harry! No funny business!”

We make our way through what seems like endless corridors and then finally to a long stairwell, which we descend. I don’t care to imagine what new terrors might lurk down in the… basement? Dungeon? When we reach the bottom of the stairwell, I see there are dozens of cloaked and hooded women, standing in a circle in what appears to be some sort of cavernous grotto. Above us is a candle chandelier. All of the figures except me have yellow roses pinned to their cloaks. I realize this is some sort of Armitage faction, as the yellow roses are a symbol in North and South. Then I see the poppets. Many of the women are cradling creepy little poppets… poppets of cloth, with needles glinting in the candlelight, that look straight out of The Crucible.

What signifies these poppets?

We set Harry on his feet in the center of the circle, and he crouches there, knees slightly bent. I am Really Not Feeling Comfortable with whatever is going on here. I seem to be taking my cues from Harry, who has a posture of intimidation, hunched shoulders, hands fisted, and a hunted expression. He stands perfectly still. The women begin to chant.

The clock chimes one time, indicating that an hour has passed since all the weirdness began. I start to back toward the stairwell, and this draws the attention of a tall woman who appears to be leading the chant. She suddenly points a pale finger at me, and asks me where is my “Automata Rose”… I don’t know what an Automata Rose is, and take another step backward. My mind races, and it hits me that “Automata” would be plural for “Automaton”, which does seem to describe these otherworldly wax figurines.

I’m frozen with indecision, when another woman suddenly drops her poppet and shrieks “Imposter!” and a third shouts “Stop it, Harry!” I glance at Harry, and see that he’s staring at me with a fierce and pleading expression, and he’s pointing to the stairs. I don’t need another cue. I spin and run straight out of the room, slamming the door behind me. In my panicked flight, I hear footsteps in pursuit behind me, but I never look back. I reach the top of the stairs and sprint faster. I take several wild turns, having no idea where I’m going, and soon I hear another set of pounding footsteps in front of me! 

I hurtle onward, finally rounding another corner and then I see the source of the footsteps I’m running toward… it’s a security guard! I am far more afraid of the cult-like women and their horrible poppets than I am of the security guard, so I run straight for him, and am very relieved when he loudly orders a halt. Because when I halt, so, too, do my pursuers. The security guard seems more irritated than dangerous, as he sternly tells me that I’m in past visitor hours and that he will have to escort me out immediately. He stops to listen, as if momentarily wondering what happened to the other footsteps, but all is silent, and I know that the women have abandoned the chase. Whatever they are doing here, I know now, is unsanctioned. 

I have escaped. And abandoned Harry to I know not what.

* * *

I really don’t know what to make of this dream! Nightmares are rare for me. Ludicrous as the dream now seems, it did in fact freak me out at the time… when I woke up, I remember having sweaty palms and feeling short of breath… consistent with an actual adrenaline release! The dream actually happened several nights ago, after I’d been to see the 2011 National Theatre production of Frankenstein at the local cinema. Perhaps that idea of animated creatures, plus some of the discussions I’ve been following recently about the nature of the Richard Armitage fandom (how well do we know it)… may have inspired it.

Paging Dr. Scott White…. can you analyze this, sir?

 

 

Dream: Abject Humiliation- Hubby/RA Encounter

If you recall- my last Richard Armitage dream, the Comic Con/Responsible Dog Ownership Con dream, was interrupted by the alarm clock while I was busy doing OFA patellar certifications on toy breed dogs while fluffy-white-dog-sitting for Thorin Armitage.

I do have to wonder if spending the time writing up my dReAms may be helping along my subconscious mind, because last night I had a follow-up dReAm, and that was pretty fast. This one went swimmingly, right up until the end. Now I almost hope I never have another.

Warning: Up until now, my dReAms were all G-rated. But read this one at your own risk: contains a lewd joke and racy language!

* * *

I am standing backstage with my office manager at the AAHA Convention Awards Ceremony, feeling the usual flutters one has when one is about to make a public appearance on a stage. Our veterinary practice recently passed our AAHA Inspection to remain an AAHA-Certified practice, and apparently, we are about to receive an Award. (I am actually a little unclear what the Award would be for. In real life, we were told we’d receive a special plaque of recognition at the AAHA Convention when we have been certified for 25 years, and the practice I recently purchased has actually been AAHA-certified for only 21 years. But whatever. We are evidently about to be presented with a rare 21-Year Award. Why not?) My office manager is practically bursting with pride, and true to her nature, she’s come prepared for anything. We naturally didn’t realize we’d have Richard Armitage’s dog along with us when we cross that stage to receive our 21-Year Recognition Award, but she happens to have not one, but two specially-made leashes for the occasion. (Sigh. It’s a practice standard. Good AAHA hospitals take extra precautions, and that means we walk dogs with two leashes. That way, should the unexpected happen, and one leash fails, we still have that additional leash and we won’t lose your pet. Thank goodness we don’t have to cross the stage with Armitage’s dog on gasp! only one leash!)

We hear our names, with all kinds of enthusiastic applause, so out we go. Just to be different, each of us holds one of the leashes, and the fluffy white dog prances along looking really adorable between us. I wish that Richard could see this moment. She doesn’t pee even once as we accept our special plaque! (Of course, there are no scary dwarves anywhere to be seen, so the dog is quite safe. lol) While my office manager is really enjoying all this pomp and ceremony, I am personally rather impatient to take the Award and go. Although I am all finished with my allotted patellar certifications, I still have a stack of paperwork to finish back at my booth at the Responsible Dog Ownership Convention hall, and more importantly, I’m kind of expecting Richard Armitage. These are both excellent reasons why I can’t stay and schmooze, so I delegate the Post-Awards schmoozing to my employee, and make haste for the nearby RDO-Con. 

Now I am back, seated contentedly in my booth, filling out OFA paperwork for Responsible Dog Owners at the RDO-Con, and keeping a cheerful eye out for Richard Armitage. Presumably, Richard will be here soon to pick up his flighty fluffball, and I hope that he will remember to get out of his Thorin costume before he arrives. Everything has gone pretty smoothly, and I am of course very eager to see him again. I haven’t decided, but am deliberating about whether I should bother to mention the fine that I paid when his pet peed the Comic Con carpet, or whether I should just write it off as a business expense. I’m definitely going to provide Richard with these two new leashes, perhaps also with a mild little lecture about the importance of leashes, when he gets here. 

Pretty soon, I hear a buzz of commotion, accompanied by an increase of little-dog-yipping and snarling, and I look up, expecting to see Richard. Earlier, Thorin was perceived as a high-level threat by the toy breed contingent, so I’m snickering and rolling my eyes, thinking Richard has forgotten to take his Thorin costume off. However, instead of seeing Richard Armitage in the center of the buzz, my heart skips a beat. It’s not Thorin- it’s someone similar- equally tall with long brown hair, a beard, sword… but this masculine attraction (or threat, depending on your gender and species) is strutting along garbed in Viking Age attire. I think I’m about to ovulate, because this is just too much excitement for one day- It’s Rollo. Rollo Lothbrook, of Vikings. And his confident warrior’s stride and his beautiful male arrogance as he surveys the RDO-Con booths is breathtaking.

(Vikings, on History Channel: another show I absolutely adore, not least because Rollo, played by very appealing Clive Standen,  is involved. The Award-winning doc is in danger of a swoon, pant, and hypersalivation attack.)

Rollo1

Rollo Lothbrook. I must be in Valhalla. Have mercy.

As had happened earlier with Thorin Armitage, the ladies are beginning to swarm Rollo. The temperature in the convention center suddenly feels uncomfortably hot, and I am beginning to fan myself, wondering if I ought to get his autograph. All I have in the way of paper are my OFA patellar certification forms, but that doesn’t stop me. Then I remember Hubby’s physician cousin and her close friend, who originally encouraged us to start watching Vikings, and who are both as terribly attracted to Rollo as I am. So I grab 3 patellar certification forms and emerge from my booth, ready to brave the snarling doggies and hoping Rollo has time for 3 more autographs, when I hear a low, smooth, familiar voice behind me ask me if I’m going somewhere!

hat1

Richard Armitage is one shrewd operator. [Photo found on ezyoung.tumblr.com]

(You guessed it!) It’s Richard! Now all becomes clear- the cagey man has sent Clive Standen/Rollo in as a diversion, and slipped unnoticed past the responsible dog ladies on his mission to retrieve FluffyPuff. (No, I don’t know if that’s her name, but it perfectly describes Richard’s little dog.) Forgetting all about Rollo and my dream of autographed OFA patellar certification forms, I turn to Richard. (Yes, the dilemma about the fine I paid earlier has flown right out of my head!) He did remember to remove his Thorin gear, and here he is, wearing familiar Stage Door apparel, a ball cap, and an entirely self-satisfied smile. His gambit has worked. He can sneak in and out with nobody the wiser, and retrieve his FluffyPuff without having to run the yipping dog gauntlet again.

The dog is overjoyed to see him and only makes a small spot on the floor, which I am amazed and touched to see he is prepared for. He pulls a paper towel out of his back pocket and quickly mops up the little mess, while she rolls over in submissive joy and presents her belly for a rub. My heart is melting, as he obliges her, and as soon as he finishes the enthusiastic belly rub, she leaps into his arms and he catches her in an obviously oft-rehearsed move as he smoothly rises to his feet, simultaneously catching the dog and tossing the paper towel into the nearest wastebasket with splendid aim.

Shania1

Here is Shania. A full grown Anatolian Shepherd, she weighs in at 130 lb.

Before I can really gather my wits, something catches my attention on the far side of the convention center. I see a beautiful, huge Anatolian Shepherd on a leash, and the crowds are parting around her as she makes her majestic entrance. Then I realize it’s my own Anatolian Shepherd, Shania. And attached to the other end of the (cough! single) leash is my Hubby. (Expletive!) Hubby does look pretty sexy today. I have no idea why he has shown up here with Shania, but he’s dressed to kill in his black jeans, sports coat and boots, like he’s dressed for a date. (Did I forget more than one thing on my Tulsa itinerary? Is this supposed to be a date night? ) Richard follows my gaze and spots Hubby and Shania, and I hurriedly tell him that’s my Hubby. I am suddenly in a complete fluster about what I should do! Hubby knows about my Armitage Affliction, but I didn’t tell him I would be meeting Richard today, and I’m immediately feeling uncomfortably concerned that Hubby might draw the wrong conclusion here!

Richard kindly thanks me for watching his dog, and I am more than relieved to see him slip out of the booth and start for the door. (Evidently our gentleman is no slouch when it comes to reading a domestic situation clearly! Lol) However, much to my consternation, Hubby and Richard Armitage stop and sort of face off in the center of the Convention center in a modified show-ring that was used for some canine obedience demonstrations earlier. I watch like a hawk, not sure what is happening. Is it going to be a pissing match? I have the funny thought that Shania, a giant-breed, could pee gallons compared to FluffyPuff if it came down to a literal pissing match. However, the two men, who are both bearded, dark-haired, blue-eyed, and of a same height, seem to be conversing pleasantly. Richard sets his dog down and she sniffs noses with Shania, who casually wags her tail, and Richard pats Shania’s head. Now that it appears I am not in Big Trouble, I consider whether to join the men and their dogs. Especially when I notice that Rollo Lothbrook is now headed in that direction.

I snatch up my OFA patellar certifications and follow Rollo. If the opportunity arises, I’ll be ready. As I make my way toward the ring, Rollo stops to admire a rather impressive Great Dane, so I’m able to catch him. I ask him how he got roped into being a diversion for Richard Armitage, and he laughs and says he owed him one from their Robinhood days, but he doesn’t elaborate. Clive Standen/Rollo kindly signs my absurd forms, jokingly putting his signature on the line reserved for the certifying veterinarian, and we both hear Richard and Hubby burst out into laughter. I glance over, and see Hubby is showing Richard something on his phone, and then they both laugh again, and Richard slaps Hubby on the back, then covers his face with one hand, laughing and shaking his head as if he can’t believe what was just said.

(This does not surprise me. Hubby has the gift of gab, and is more than capable of holding his own in any kind of ribald exchange.)

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Richard laughs at Hubby’s lewd joke. Pink-ear manip. Photo unattributed, sorry.

I suddenly am not so sure I want to go over there after all, because there is absolutely no telling what they are talking about, and Richard has just glanced in my direction, still chuckling, and his ears are pink. I have a terrible premonition that I might be the butt of this joke, so I sort of smile, lean against the side of the ring, wave casually, and give Hubby one of those looks that a married couple can exchange with perfect comprehension… namely: “I love you, but you’d better get your ass over here and explain yourself, right now!” Aborting my original mission, I thank Clive/Rollo and send him on his way to join Richard, and Hubby continues toward me. Hubby and Rollo fist-bump as they pass one another. I’m impressed.

I greet Hubby with a hug and quick kiss, then I turn to watch the incredibly compelling rear view of the actors as they stroll unhurriedly toward the exit. Richard is sharing something humorous with Clive.  When I turn back to Hubby, I note that he, too, is still smirking. With a knowing look, Hubby asks if I have enjoyed myself today. I flush, and show him the Rollo autographs, and he assures me that his cousin and friend are going to flip out when they see these. I finally get up the courage to ask Hubby what he thought of Richard, and Hubby decides to play it cool, saying Richard seems like a nice, down-to-earth guy. I wait, and Hubby doesn’t say anything else. Finally, I have to specifically ask what they were laughing about, and now it’s Hubby who is turning pink. At first he tries to brush me off, saying it was just a jest, and “Nevermind.” Of course, this only inflames my curiosity further. I’m not about to let him brush me off, (though now I wish I had) so finally, he reveals more about their conversation.

It seems that Richard had seen Hubby watching him walk away from my booth, and so he’d stopped in a friendly manner, and explained that I’d lent a hand in catching his little dog earlier. Then Richard, like most people who have never encountered an Anatolian Shepherd, had politely enquired what breed Shania was. They had talked a bit about dogs, and then Hubby had offered that, being a Cat-Person, this was his first trip to any sort of dog convention, and he’d mentioned to Richard that he’d recently been to a cat show, which was a lot quieter. (This is true!) Richard, the self-confessed Non-Cat-Person, had scoffed at him. Hubby’s rejoinder: “Richard, you really haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my wife’s naked pussy.”

(#FacePalm! #SomebodyShootMe! #OMFGI’mGoingToKillYou!)

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Charlie and Noobie. My Nekkid Loves. #FacePalm

Then he’d pulled out the cell phone and shown Richard my “naked pussy”- referring, of course, to my beloved Sphynx cats! I am speechless. I am so mortified- yet at the same time, think it’s slightly hilarious- that I sort of shriek out in a horrified cry of laughter, and I smack Hubby, hard, and tell him he’s such an ass! I hear another peal of laughter and turn to see Richard and Clive looking our way, waiting to see what my response would be. I smack Hubby once more for good measure, then bury my face in his chest in mortification, and refuse to look their way again. Ever. I don’t see this, but something tells me Hubby gives them the thumbs up.

And that’s the end.

 * * *

So there you have it! If this scenario ever played out in real life, I’m sorry to say I’d have to kill my Hubby. I do have to give the dream Hubby props, though. I can think of no better way to ensure his wife’s immediate desire to Avoid Richard Armitage At All Costs! LOL

 

Dream: Thorin Scares His Own Dog

I’ve had another Armitage dream and I’m happy to say that it did follow-up somewhat on last month’s prize-winning dream in which Lucas North made an office call. If nothing else, it answered the burning question in all our minds… what was the fate of the fluffy white dog?

* * *

Much to my surprise, I find myself tagging along as the proverbial third-wheel on a date that my veterinary technician has had planned for months. She and her spouse have treated themselves to one day at the Tulsa Comic Con, and she, at least, is there for one reason: Daryl Dixon of The Walking Dead.

(If I may be said to be PreoccupiedWithArmitage, then it may also be said that my vet tech is PreoccupiedWithDaryl. Norman Reedus is supposed to represent TWD at the upcoming Tulsa Comic Con, and I have heard pretty much nothing but #DarylDiscussion out of her for the past week. Perhaps this explains why I find myself dreaming I’m at this Comic Con, when I’ve never been the Comic Con-type, and neither Richard Armitage, nor Graham McTavish are on the Tulsa schedule.)

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Daryl Dixon. Not too shabby.

While I’m not sure why I’m here, I do enjoy The Walking Dead and I am looking forward to seeing Daryl a bit myself. He’s pretty much all that one could hope for in a post-Apocalyptic redneck hero, and I’m not exactly immune to his charms. As we are meandering through the crowded building, I notice that some of the cast from Outlander and Game of Thrones are advertised, and I start to feel pretty glad that I have materialized at the Comic Con despite its thin Hobbit presence. I study my schedule and lay out my plans for the day, notify my companions of where I’ll be, and head out on my own.

No sooner have I separated from them, when I hear a pretty big commotion coming from The Hobbit area. Since as far as I know, only a couple of orcs will be there, I don’t have a lot of interest in that booth. Nevertheless, I hear the commotion and scan the area, and I spot a familiar fluffy white dog evading the crowd. People are trying to catch her, but her tail is tucked and she’s skittering out of reach and clearly very frightened. It looks a lot like my former tornado/hoarding refugee dog #1 that was adopted by Richard Armitage… or was it Lucas North?… last month. I become concerned that the animal might bite someone out of fear, or get tangled in a camera cord, or urinate on the floor, which is her specialty.

Crouching down, I call to her, and she not only hears me, but she recognizes a familiar face and makes a bee-line in my direction. When she reaches me, she falls all over herself in happy dog-reunion style, and obligingly urinates on the floor. I reach into my purse and grab my microchip scanner (oh yes, I take that to all the Comic Cons!) and sure enough, the scanner confirms what I already suspect: here we have the very dog that Richard… or Lucas… adopted last month. (I evidently keep every microchip serial number I’ve ever implanted stored in my brain. I’m that good.) I gather her into my arms, already on high alert. It’s possible that Richard Armitage… or Lucas North… is in the building.

I start to scan the area, my heart pumping, my face flushing, knowing that I might have another encounter with RA-LN-whoever he is. But before I can make any progress, a Comic Con official hurries toward me with a very stern face. I’m told that not only are dogs not allowed in the building, but I’m breaking Tulsa leash law ordinances, and I must pay a fine for the urine mess. I have his back, though. Rather than saying it’s not my dog, thereby casting RA-LN as the villain in this piece, I write a check to pay for the damages, and apologize very sincerely as I am escorted out the door. Privately, I’m pretty disappointed in my favorite actor. I had expected better from him. Imagine letting a scared little dog loose at a Comic Con!

In fact, the more I think about it, the more irritated I become. Not only has RA-LN lost the dog, but now I am stuck babysitting outside, instead of attending the activities and events of some of my favorite programs. (If I miss Jamie Fraser, Jon Snow or Daryl Dixon, Armitage will have a lot to answer for!) Then something even worse catches my attention. The neighboring building has a big sign that says “Responsible Dog Ownership Convention” and I realize that I have slipped up and forgotten my purpose for coming to Tulsa. I was not ever supposed to be in Tulsa for Comic Con… I was signed up to do OFA patellar certifications for the responsible dog owners of Tulsa, and I’m late!!! (Don’t you hate when that happens!? lol)

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Thorin Oakenshield. Bane of small canine companions everywhere.

I hustle into the other convention center and find my booth is incredibly over-run with people. At first, I am concerned that my brain lapse has made me so late that I have kept everyone waiting for hours, but then I see that is not the case. There are a few people waiting, but mostly everyone there is crowding my booth because one of the people in line is none other than Thorin Oakenshield! The responsible dog owners are clearly thrilled to see the cross-over between conventions, but many of their dogs are not. Several toy breed dogs- Pomeranians, toy poodles, and Chihuahuas- are barking and growling at the Hairy Dwarf King. And it is Thorin. Long hair, prosthetic nose and brow, Middle Earth costume and all. People and yipping little dogs are closing in around him. He looks strained.

As I get closer, it occurs to me that while everything else is the same as the Thorin on film, there is one major difference… this Thorin is no shorty, and I realize it’s probably Richard Armitage, looking for his dog. I begin to feel better, because at least he knew where to find me, even if I myself didn’t know where I was supposed to be. I hurry up to Thorin, and find him watching me with a very interesting expression on his face. Sheepish, relieved, and astonished all at once. I immediately capitalize on this happenstance. Nobody needs to know I forgot about the OFA patellar certifications. I was just late because I was rounding up celebrity dogs. All in a day’s work. (Love it when you come out smelling like roses!)

I start to hand the dog over to Thorin, but he backs away with an even more sheepish and apologetic expression. He warns me she’s about to “piss on both of us” and admits that he’s just started his Hobbit promotions and damned if the dog isn’t scared-to-death of him when he dons his Thorin paraphernalia. He explains how the dog got away from him in the first place- he made the mistake of leaving her off the leash when he was going to take her for a walk before his Comic Con appearance, and discovered her fear of Thorin when she wouldn’t come to him. He’s been chasing and cajoling her for hours in costume, and she finally slipped inside the Comic Con building. Rather than going after her, he threw in the towel and came to the Responsible Dog Ownership Convention in hopes of obtaining my assistance in catching the dog, since he didn’t have time to get out of Thorin-gear and back into costume and make-up before his scheduled appearance.

(How odd that of all the actors involved in the Comic Con, only Richard Armitage had to appear in full costume. Very unfortunate for him! lol)

True to my usual form, I start to become concerned about the line of people waiting for their patellar certifications, so I tell Thorin Armitage that he is welcome to return to his Comic Con duties. I will watch the dog until he is finished, but not a moment longer, because I have a couple of items on my Comic Con schedule that I would hate to miss. I politely wish him well and take my place at the exam table in my booth.

(Why do I hustle him away at every opportunity I get? It’s baffling!)

I watch Thorin sign a few autographs and snap a few pictures with exhilarated ladies (and their intimidated and/or snarling little dogs) as he makes his way out of the building. I’m pretty pleased that he was at least a responsible-ENOUGH-dog-owner to have sought my assistance in retrieving his dwarf-phobic pet, and I’m really enjoying the free positive buzz he’s provided for my veterinary practice and for OFA patellar certifications in general.

My booth is the cool booth, today!

* * *

Hate to say the alarm clock went off before Richard came back to my booth to retrieve his erstwhile little dog! At least the alarm saved me from having to do too many more dreary patellar certifications. All in all, pretty pleasant dream! =)

Dream: Armitage (?) at the Vet Office

So a couple of nights ago, I had a strange and heartwarming dream. It was related to my Spooks Season 6 dream… it had only the edge of a hint of the danger element, but quite a bit of the absurdity.

* * *

I’m at my desk, when I hear the clinic door chime. It’s my lunch hour, and no appointments are scheduled. I assume someone is picking up medications or something, and am therefore surprised when I hear footsteps moving at quite a clip down the hall. I immediately stand, thinking an emergency has arrived. However, the look on the office manager’s face is anything but concerned.

“Richard is here to see you in Exam Room 1!” she says, flushed. Naturally, I know this is some kind of a joke. I don’t know what to expect… my husband, a blow-up Richard doll, a surprise party… anything could be waiting for me. So I sort of take my time getting there. And find a dead ringer for Richard Armitage, his chin shaven, dressed in jeans, button-up shirt and black leather jacket, alone in the exam room. No pet accompanies him.

My mind flashes to my previous adventure involving Adam Carter. I don’t know if the man in front of me is Richard Armitage, or Lucas North. As far as I know, Richard is still wearing a beard, so I suspect this is Lucas. I don’t have to ask, as he immediately launches into an explanation. His presence here is twofold. He wants to thank me for my part in freeing him from the Russian prison. The information on the Russian microchip I’d given to Adam Carter, as it turned out, gave Harry Pierce enough leverage with Lucas’ captors to negotiate his freedom.

(So it was down to me, everyone. The glorious Season 7 of Spooks, was thanks to me, and thanks to Milton. That’s pretty impressive egoism!)

I now know that Lucas is standing in front of me, and wonder if I am somehow involved in another covert operation. But before I can respond, or question Lucas about the events of that other crazy day at the office, he goes on to say that, in addition to saying thank you, he’s in the area to promote Into the Storm and to visit the areas destroyed in the May 20, 2013 Moore Tornado. Specifically, he wants to visit displaced pets from the devastating storm.

(Having to reassess whether this is Lucas, I meanwhile fail to point out that Into the Storm has already come and gone from the local movie theaters, and that the pets who were displaced last summer have long since been either reunited with their families, or re-homed with adoptive families.)

Remarkably, we do have two canine refugees in the kennel. I tell him he’s more than welcome to visit our storm refugees.

(That was very convenient. Magically appearing dogs!)

The man looks pleased, and mentions that he’s wanted to adopt a dog for a long time. I had been  on my way to the door, to ask one of the girls to bring the first dog, but upon hearing he is in the mood to adopt a dog, I stop in my tracks. “I’m afraid that depends on who’s adopting a dog. Are you adopting as Lucas North, or Richard Armitage?”

(Apparently, I’m about to tell Lucas North he’s not a qualified applicant. Having him show up and wave a weapon around would be fine with me; in fact, I’ve yearned for it. But a dog adoption is another matter entirely. You never know when someone like Lucas might go all John Bateman, and where would that leave the dog?)

He smiles a very Lucas-like, mysterious smile, and does not answer. I close the door again, stubborn.

(I’m not sure why Lucas is now not even qualified to visit with my refugee dogs, but it seems I will not even bring a dog forward until I am certain of the man’s identity.)

Finally, he caves. He admits he is Richard Armitage, but asks me not to let on. I tell him his face is already known in this vet office, and he mutters that he has been debriefed about our fridge. However, I am now satisfied, and call for the first dog. The dog appears. She is a smallish white female, and I inform him that she’s a cross between a Bichon and a Westie. As soon as she is placed on the exam table, she timidly approaches Richard, and presses into his torso. He pets her for a few minutes, silently. She gazes into his eyes and presses closer. He sighs, and asks if she has any medical problems.

I tell him that she is a very timid dog, that she came from a hoarder situation before the tornado, and that she is very loving and sweet, but is easily scared and is prone to submissive urination. His head jerks up at this, and an odd light comes into his eyes. “Submissive urination?” I smile at him, and tell him it’s ok, I know he has a tendency for bathroom humor. Without missing a beat, he says he just didn’t want to piss me off. I let out a little laugh. He looks down at the dog again, continues to stroke her. Then he sighs again, and admits he was looking for something a little more manly than a fluffy white dog with submissive urination. But when I go to take her away, she presses closer to him again, and starts to tremble a bit. He says he wants to have a look at the next dog, but never stops petting the non-manly little candidate.

So I call for the next dog, and while we are waiting, I ask Richard Armitage what it is he’s looking for in a canine companion. He immediately confesses he wants a “dog like Dean’s” and I tell him I’m afraid I don’t know Dean, or Dean’s dog. He looks at me like I’m crazy, and tells me of course I know Dean’s dog, “Whisper”- she’s famous. I realize he’s not talking about his Hobbit co-star, but Dean Potter, a world-famous free solo rock climber who has recently taken to climbing with his dog, Whisper, in a special harness on his back. Whisper also does BASE jumps and wingsuit flying with Dean.

(I have a thing for free solo climbers. It’s a morbid fascination, plus some of them are hot. If your palms are not sufficiently sweaty on any given day, check them out.)

Richard assures me he’s no free solo climber, but he’s always wanted to go snow-skiing with a dog. He’s seen how Whisper rides in Dean’s harness, and that’s what he has in mind.

(Far be it from me to discourage Richard’s dream. If he thinks downhill skiing would be more fulfilling with a dog on his back, then by all means, let’s find the right dog for the occasion.)

I tell Richard that I believe I happen to have an outstanding candidate. This next dog is small enough to ride in a harness; he’s athletic, adventurous, and definitely more of an all-terrain dog. The dog enters the room; it’s a little Australian cattle dog mix, with a patchy coat and friendly, confident demeanor. I ask our vet tech to demonstrate the dog’s capabilities. What follows next is a fantastic sequence of dog tricks, real circus-level material, while she explains to Richard that the rough and ready little dog can fetch, swim, ride horseback, compete in agility, and is probably a great candidate for search and rescue, as well. She issues a command for the dog to find the biohazards, and he immediately opens the cabinet, sits, and stares at the sharps container under the sink. I make a little quip that the only thing this dog doesn’t do is speak Russian.

There is an immediate change in the atmosphere, as Richard looks at me sharply. The mysterious Lucas-smile flits across his features. He holds my gaze for some time, and I start to feel prickles. Then he issues a sharp command in Russian, and the dog immediately leaves the sharps container, goes to his side, and sits, watching Richard alertly. Another Russian command, and the dog performs a rapid roll-over. My skin prickles again. How does the dog know Russian?

Before I can think too much about this phenomenon, Richard redirects my attention to the little white dog, still snuggling as close to him as she can.

(Who can blame her? Any female with one iota of taste would love to have Richard Armitage take her home with him.)

He asks me to explain a little more about submissive urination, so I launch into my little blurb about that topic, hoping for the dog’s sake that he is not about to break her heart. I throw out the possibility that with his schedule so busy, two dogs might keep each other company a little bit, when he is gone. He starts to ask questions about dog husbandry, and we enter a pretty banal conversation about heartworm prevention and so on, and meanwhile, I begin to hear the front door chiming quite a bit. Aware that my lunch hour is almost over, I indicate to Richard that he is welcome to sleep on it, and return later if he decides to adopt one or both dogs.

(Really, doc? You tried to hustle Richard Armitage out the door? Yes, I’m afraid I did. I didn’t want to keep my afternoon appointments waiting.)

However, he’s already come to a decision. He doesn’t look particularly proud of himself, but he’s unable to separate himself from the fluffy animal plastered against him. He has tried to push her toward me once, as I lectured about flea prevention, but as soon as she started to tremble again, he had reluctantly drawn her back into his chest. I’ve been watching his hand language during my veterinary spiel, and I can tell that she’s getting under his skin. His strokes are becoming almost protective, and his lashes have been lowered as he watches her while listening to my veterinary advice. After I politely hint that it’s time for him to go, (somebody smack me, please!) he says, with another sigh, that he guesses he will have to adopt both dogs. I give him a delighted smile, and tell him he needs to fill out some paperwork.

We go to the lobby together, where I am astonished to find several ladies, who don’t belong in this setting, milling about. The office manager’s daughter is here, on the pretense of buying ear cleanser. She doesn’t have a dog. My Hubby’s cousin, a local physician who also has Not One Single Pet, is in the lobby holding a bag of cat food. Several other ladies, sans pets, are lined up at the counter with random pet supplies, and the entire staff is also in the lobby, dusting, pretending to reorganize the pamphlets, pretending to mop. The office manager starts to load Richard Armitage up with necesseties. Pretty soon he has a couple of bags of food, his own bottle of ear cleanser, a year’s supply of heartworm preventative, a thunder shirt for the timid dog, low calorie dog biscuits, and several other items. He looks overwhelmed. His forehead is very crinkled. I have to duck back to the treatment area before I start laughing at the lobby full of faux customers and the man with two new dogs and enough products to open his own pet store.

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Lucas North, my nemesis.

From a window in the back, I watch him exit the building, his arms loaded. He makes his way to his car, and suddenly the driver’s door opens and Hermione Norris appears. Prickles start again. Is that Ros Myers?  They exchange a conspiratorial smile, efficiently load the dogs and the supplies into the back seat, all the while scanning the area. Ros says something into an ear mic, gives him a meaningful look, and they both get into the car, fast, and speed out of the parking lot.

I think back to the Russian dog commands, the dog’s extraordinary intelligence, and realize his capabilities were always highly unnatural. I realize, too late, that the male dog was a Russian asset.

I have just been played by Lucas North.

* * *

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. And I really hope Lucas returns to the clinic soon. =)

Dream: Spooks, the Vet Office Episode

 

I had another g-rated Richard Armitage dream last night. These g-rated Armitage dreams are just delightful, though why so g-rated all the time, I’m not sure. I’ve made notations about it, but since it connects with a dream I had several months ago, I thought I’d share the prequel today.

* * *

(To really enter this dream experience, you must first pause, and play the intro music to Spooks in your mind. Dun Dun…. duhduhduh…. Dun Dun….. wuaarrr…. You all know it. It’s in the background of this dream.)

I’m at the office, and much to my dismay, I have one of my favorite patients on the table. The pet is presenting in a weakened and lethargic condition, and has an infected, open wound tract near the base of his skull. He has been transferred from the emergency center, where he’d presented for status epilepticus, a neurological emergency, the night before. The seizures are now under control, but everyone is still very worried. This patient is named Milton, and he’s a real patient of mine, or he was before I bought my own practice in a different town.

(No, I’m not sure whether Milton is named after “the” Milton of North and South fame. Maybe I’ll ask him. He’s a minor YouTube and Facebook celebrity.)

We anesthetize Milton, clean the wound, and take him to radiology.

(Why I thought we needed to radiograph his skull is a mystery, but it’s a good thing I did.)

To everyone’s astonishment, there is a microchip implant inside his skull cavity! I assume that this is a Home Again Microchip implant, gone horribly, horribly wrong. It needs to come out ASAP, I tell Milton’s mom, or he’s likely to continue having seizures and recurring brain infections.

(Recurring brain infections, very bad juju. WTF, self? Please excuse the implausibility of all this, and trust me that my veterinary dreams are never very medically sound. In other words, please don’t fear having your pet microchipped. Recurring brain infections are NOT a risk factor.)

Milton’s mom is one of those clients who will spare no expense on her pets, and she immediately agrees to brain surgery.

(In the dream, I apparently have no qualms about brain surgery. In real life, Milton would be on his way to the veterinary neurosurgeon.)

Now the brain surgery is over, and Milton is in recovery. My surgery tech and I are examining the microchip, but something is not right. It doesn’t look like a Home Again Microchip. It’s a little bigger, and it has Russian symbols on it.

(Apparently I can always recognize a top-secret Russian symbol when I see one.)

I start to get a tingling all over my skin, as I realize I’ve stumbled onto something dangerous. I think I may need to call the FBI or the CIA, but there are ramifications to that. Someone has implanted a foreign microchip, with classified data, in Milton. If Milton’s mom is involved in a covert operation, she could be in danger, or might be a danger to myself and my employees… I’m not sure. If another veterinarian, who presumably implanted the data chip, is involved, implicating a colleague could likewise have profound consequences, both to me and to the colleague, especially if innocent. But before I can contact either the FBI or the CIA, the front door chimes. My surgery tech and I both startle, and are instantly on guard. She reaches for her weapon.

(No, firearms are not standard equipment for veterinary technicians. Fear not, the next time you are at the vet’s office.)

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Adam Carter, Section Chief, Veterinary Operations

Before she can draw the weapon, Adam Carter slips through the door to the treatment area, his weapon already drawn. He is on high alert. He scans the room, and his eyes land on our damned fridge, which is decorated with hot men and fluffy animals. He only glances at it, but I know he’s seen Richard Armitage, and made the connection to Lucas North. His eyes meet mine, and I can see he’s measuring me, gauging my involvement with Lucas North, Russian spies, and the world of covert operations. My glance shifts to my surgery tech, and I give her the slightest negative signal, indicating to her that she should not try anything. I know she doesn’t watch Spooks, and has no way of knowing Adam Carter is one of the good guys, or that he could drop her in an instant if she moves for her weapon again.

(At this point, I have the distinct thought, outside the dream but still in it, that I must be dreaming in Season 6. I chastise myself for not dreaming in Season 7, when Lucas North might have come to the clinic instead.)

Our office manager arrives, breathless, looking both terrified and exhilarated. She was at reception when Adam Carter entered the premises. She doesn’t watch Spooks either, but she recognizes Rupert Penry-Jones from Persuasion. I give her the same slight signal, not to try anything. I am confident Adam Carter will not kill us, unless he has no choice.

Moving very slowly, I put the Russian data chip into a biohazard ziplock bag, and hand it to Adam. I know that as an American citizen, I should probably not be handing whatever secrets it contains to the British, but Adam does have a gun, and I have witnesses to corroborate that I was under duress as I passed classified data to MI-5. Adam slips the bag into his trench coat pocket, never lowering the weapon, glances at the fridge again, and I regret that Rupert Penry-Jones is not among the puppies and kittens there. Nobody says anything. Adam nods at me, and withdraws from the room in a fluid motion. A moment later, the front door chimes, indicating he has left the building.

Instead of freaking out, the three of us whistle, fan our faces and murmur things like “Dayum!” and “Smokin’!” as we smile at the gorgeous luck of it all.

* * *

It was a very thrilling dream. I mean, if I had to choose any character other than Lucas North, to draw a weapon on myself and my employees, it would definitely be Adam Carter. I knew he wouldn’t kill us, and he sure looked sexy in that trench coat.

And stay tuned… a vet office sequel happened last night. (Warning, though: It was more of a hallmark movie than an action/suspense. =)