Dream: Francis Dolarhyde, Duck-Sitter


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! 


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!


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.


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.




Getting Giffy With It


I’ve… ah… been making a few GIFs…

Oh There Are Others

Ah… yes.

Um, once I started, I couldn’t seem to stop!


I said I couldn’t stop!

They’re almost becoming….


Yes. Something like that….

Yeah, so I downloaded this cool tool. It’s called the “Giffing Tool” and if you don’t want the free one (with watermarks), you pay. But you just pay what you want to pay. I didn’t see if they would accept $0, but paid a nominal fee via PayPal, and now I’m getting Giffy. Once it downloads and you save it to your folder, you can use it to basically crop out any area on your monitor. I’ve tried YouTube (Crucible Trailer), Netflix (North and South, Robinhood and Vicar of Dibley), and even a DVD (Strike Back). It works on all of them! Allows you to add text, turn it greyscale, or lighten it.

Pretty easy, once I got the hang of it….


Well, yeah. The first one took about an hour. But each successive GIF got faster after that!

I feel like I’ve entered a new phase of my PreoccupationWithArmitage….

I’ve entered the GIF zone. =)



Limerick: Armitage Eyes

0dc986e815da37aa2ed332d75b37142bSeated at my desk with a tall stack of charts…
I can’t face catching up, I don’t have the heart.
I know the day this stack began:
The blame belongs to a particular man!
It was October 9 when my chart count did start.



B0GAZPxCYAEWKPiRichard Armitage on Twitter distracts every time…
But on that particular day, his tweet was sublime.
He planned a surprise
A selfie, with eyes
So distRActing, it was actually a crime!





IMG_303485126580042Yes, I need to catch up, I’m a month behind…
But I find that Armitage is always on my mind.
Preoccupied each day
I can’t look away
If I weren’t my own boss, a pink slip I’d find!




1163f321756786328c6c224f3bc86f4dBut really, Richard Armitage, I can’t help myself…
Your ears just remind me of the sexiest elf
Then there’s your mouth
And everything south
I can’t choose your best feature from such wealth!





EyesThat being said, if I had no choice but to choose…
I’d have to decide on those baby blues.
Even before I fell
Into this preoccupied spell
Richard’s eyes had me truly enthused.





imagesDE55D5IMThat was way back, when Thorin walked through the door…
He arrived at Bag End ready to settle an old score.
I was at the local theatre
With my eyes on the leader
And a whole new outlook on the dwarves of Tolkien lore!


Richard Armitage London StudiosI suppose it’s as well that I didn’t pursue…
At the time I couldn’t afford to bid normalcy adieu!
It would be over 2 years
Before I kicked into gear
John Thornton made me join the queue.





thorntoneyes1I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…
He had me at “Stephens”- it still makes me grin!
But as a first time beholder
Yet to see John’s eyes smolder
I’d no idea the trouble I was in!




sadeyes1Such expressions those eyes at different moments convey…
Be it outrage, arrogance, or wistful dismay.
As my viewing progressed
I couldn’t help but be impressed
At the volumes Those Eyes Alone can say!



glamorguySometimes what kills me is that “Come Hither” look…
Gisborne’s eyes only, no finger need be crooked!
I’d be a goner
If he’d do me the honor
It’s no mystery why I’ve become hooked!




proctor2When I saw him live in London at The Old Vic…
The fire in John’s eyes caused my heart to kick.
The intensity of his stare
Had my heart snared
In a way that can’t be explained in a pic.





IMG_0739reMy new friend Irache, from The Crucible Stage Door
Managed to get a shot that I love all the more.
It’s nothing but eyes
But it’s a hell of a prize
When we first saw it, we practically yelled “Score!”



Thorin2As if all of this wasn’t sufficient to distract…
A heartbreak is coming, that’s just a fact.
We’ll all follow Thorin one last time
Profoundly painful, and yet sublime
Grappling with these images that both sadden, and attract.




esquire1So back to the charts… I’m afraid they must wait…
Until my equilibrium returns to steady state.
Armitage Eyes have struck again
I’m beginning to wonder if or when
Their hold on me will begin to abate.

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.


What signifies a poppet?

* * *


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!


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.





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.






Guy of Gisborne, looking up with a smirk.

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





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.




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?