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It was heartbreaking to not have time to walk the dog before I went to work. His endless trust and "you know best, so I'm sure there's a good reason I can't have the thing I most look forward to in the mornings" expression get to me every time.

But I made myself a wrap for lunch and dropped the biggest piece of halloumi from it onto the floor, where he immediately snapped it up. He loves halloumi.

But so do I!

So I feel like we're even again now.
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I was talking to Andrew this mornign about stuff as I was getting ready, so I only half-noticed that as I was getting my jacket on and finding my keys and picking up Gary's leash, he still hadn't appeared. He is usually very excited about walks, to the point of being excited any time I go near the hallway where my bag and jacket are.

I remembered having seen him upstairs so I called him a couple times. Nothing. Not even the thundery sound he makes when he jumps off our bed (which sometimes is all we get, if he's reluctant to come downstairs). I went up and looked for him; he...wasn't there? I looked in the spare room, which he likes because it gets the most sun, but he wasn't there either. And there wasn't even any sun today.

Then Andrew found him, by opening the basement door. I'd started some laundry fifteen or so minutes earlier, and he'd been downstairs "helping" me by darting around, interested as ever in the arcane human things I was doing. Usually he gets bored before I finish, and my mind had been on all the other things I had to do before I left for work in not very long at all, so I hated noticed I was closing the door before he'd gotten back upstairs.

"He didn't even bark1" Andrew said. We definitely would've heard him if he'd made a noise. "He was just standing right at the top of the stairs when I opened the door." Can't have been very comfortable for him, but bless him not even complaining. We don't deserve dogs.

He was happy to be let out but didn't hold a grudge. He got extra fusses and telling that he was a good boy, he wagged his tail lots and seemeed happy with the belly rubs. He was happier that I was still holding his leash, though. We had a nice walk.
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If there are better friends than ones who'll clip your dog's nails and hold him still while you do this thing he most hates, I can't imagine them.

Gary the Wonder Dog and I are lucky to have such friends. Even if he thinks he's being tortured while it happens, bless him. He gets plenty of treats and fusses too.

We're both a bit wiped from the stress I think but I'm hanging around to watch a little more ST: Disco before we walk home.

He's sitting on a cushion by himself now. Looking warily at us when we move. But he's okay, he's got the happy ears. I shared a picture of him on Facebook yesterday and a friend said his ears are like an aural grin. That's what I think of now every time I see them.
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I am full of curry (it arrived so late, after a day when all I ate was breakfast) and I've about doubled the amount of Star Trek: Discovery I've watched (I'm still in the first season though so sshhh!). It has been a good evening.

[personal profile] diffrentcolours invited me around to watch it, apparently because me saying I was going to get around to catching up on it wasn't happening quickly enough for him (which is fair enough: it wasn't happening at all) and he wants to tell me things about the second season stuff.

Before this, I watched an old movie called The Body Snatcher because [personal profile] magister wanted me to know who Val Lewton was. It was good (but cringeworthy in its disability politics because it's like seventy years old) but I am looking forward to not watching any new things for a while now (I watched some Babylon 5 with Stuart on Thursday too). It helped a lot that Disco has audio description though. I continue to be so grateful for it.

I was home for approximately zero minutes and three seconds to drop off my backpack this afternoon and Gary was so excited to see me the first time but even more excited the second time I came back, just now. This second time he was also immediately keen for me to go upstairs to bed. With him. He was welcome to sit on our bed by himself, but many nights he decides that isn't good enough: he'll run up but if I don't follow in a minute or two he comes back downstairs and continues looking at me expectantly until I get the hint. This is what's happened tonight. And who am I to argue with him. Bed sounds good.

many dogs

Dec. 13th, 2018 05:44 pm
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The best thing about this time yesterday was that the boiler was working again. The house was starting to warm up.

(It's broken again now. I despair. Frigidly.)

The second best thing was that I'd just spent four hours procrastinating and working on an essay I'm really stressed about and I'd gotten some good work done so I was less stressed and I'd come downstairs to investigate possibilities of dinner and relaxing guilt-free.

But the third best thing, only bumped into third place because the first two was so good, was Andrew telling me that when the boiler guy was leaving, he'd asked "what kinds of dogs are they?"

Our little Gary has apparently made enough noise and disruption that he successfully gave the impression of being several dogs.


May. 3rd, 2018 07:32 pm
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
When Andrew and I first got married we had an argument one day where I said "room" and Andrew thought I was saying "rum" and it turned into a comedy of errors because whatever I did he thought they were the same word and I couldn't understand why.

Now I know! Northern English dialects have a feature called a vowel merger. Words that have different vowel sounds in other dialects sound the same, that's what the merger means. For another example of a famous vowel merger, a lot of Americans (including me) will say "cot" and "caught" the same, and most British people say those differently.

So I've learned in the last few weeks, and hadn't gotten around to telling him until now, that this room/rum thing will be a result of the FOOT/STRUT* merger that you get in Manchester.

This has of course rekindled the argument because he still thinks I'm saying "rum" and "room" the same, and he's just tried showing me that "foot" and "strut" have the same sound which is weird because for me they totally do not.

"This is why Londoners write Mancunians as saying 'fook,' " he said, which is a thing I know he hates. I suppose it's like Canadians and "aboot," they know that spelling is not a fair representation.

The whole thing, with the raised voices and the vehemence and all, was enough to make Gary run over and see if we were okay, try to defuse things. He doesn't like it when the humans are upset and he can't distinguish upset-agitated from, like, we're-playing-Scrabble agitated. Or, it turns out, phonetic-variation agitated.

* (Technically these should be small caps but I don't know how to encode that.)
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Andrew and I have been excitedly reporting to each other that Gary is walking on all four feet, the kind of thing you don't appreciate normally.

He spent the last couple of days hopping around on three, holding his back right leg up. We took him to the vet yesterday afternoon and he apparently has a bit of an infection in the nail bed, he was given antibiotics and painkillers (as well as the quickest nail-clipping I've ever known him to have!) and was so excited to leave the vet's he practically ran all the way home.

It is good to have him more or less back to his old self, after a couple of days of sleeping and not eating much. The vet said that kind of infection could get serious if it's left too long but we seem to have caught it early, which at least meant the stress and expense of going to the vet was justified.

birth control gatekeeping, fatshaming, fertility, etc. )
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Andrew just told me about all the dreams he had last night. Lots of stress ones, but also his brain seems to be trying to do him some favors by dreaming a box set of all music and Doctor Who and things Andrew likes. And then he told me about one where he was walking Gary through somewhere that something bad had happened, they had to climb over fences and stuff. "And Gary was barking and his barks were words and they said 'Don't worry, I'll protect you. Don't worry, I'll protect you,' " Andrew told me.

My heart felt like it grew three sizes. Gary has turned up in scary dreams of mine and his dream-presence has cheered me up and calmed me down. I even dreamed he escaped into our bedroom once to rescue me from a bad dream. He looks after us even in our dreams.

"He didn't know many words," Andrew said. "But he could say 'Don't worry, Andrew, I'll protect you.' "
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
The dog jumped up onto Andrew's lap and Andrew said "I do wonder what Gary thinks of me," for the millionth time, as he's always curious about the internal state of dogs. "Am I just a useful cushion, or am I his friend or what?"

He might have said some more but I was laughing too much at "useful cushion." Bless him and his endless insecurity.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Facebook tells me it was two years ago Gary came to live with us for good. (He'd been with us a few days or weeks at a time on a couple of occasions earlier in the year, before it was clear he was going to need a new home full-time, but this is when we knew he wasn't going away again.)

It's also the first day I'd seen him since Friday! I do miss him when I'm away. I tend to dream about him when I'm somewhere else overnight, not so much when I'm at home. Tonight we collected him from [personal profile] mother_bones and as we walked home I noticed he was doing that weird thing again, sniffing not just at the ground or bins or where other dogs have peed but sniffing the air in what seems like a weird new way that doesn't have an obvious explanation.

I mentioned this to Andrew last week when I first noticed it, when I'd taken him on one of his evening walks. "Yeah," Andrew said, "he's been doing that lately."

"I hadn't noticed it in the mornings," I'd said (I usually walk him in the mornings, and Andrew in the evenings.) That it's time-of-day specific made it seem even more remarkable.

"He's so earnest about everything all the time," I said. (He is. It's one of his most endearing traits.) "So he looks like he's a little CSI or something."

I thought for a second and then, thinking of it as a parallel to "checking his wee-mail" (a phrase I think I picked up from [personal profile] miss_s_b), I added "a WeeSI!"

And I've been thinking of it that way ever since.

Brain dump

Sep. 26th, 2017 11:08 am
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Went shopping for the bits of groceries I can't send Andrew for (he's been pretty good about asking me nearly every day if I want anything from the shops while he's going, but sometimes that doesn't work) and am on my second load of laundry today. It feels like a lot when I've been so busy! But both were sorely overdue.

But I've done my reading and my little "just to check you did the reading" quiz after my first lecture yesterday. I was supposed to have a tutorial for that this morning but the timetable was screwed up (the timetable is so screwed up I've got at least four things this week but only one turning up on the timetable) so have just got to read about the essay prep we were going to cover. I enjoyed the lecture, on the more sciencey, brain/mind-related aspects of linguistics, and feel like it and the reading are things I get to do rather than things I have to do. If it just stayed that way for the rest of the semester, this'd be easy!

Gary seems to be doing a bit better now the antibiotics are kicking in. When we were gone over the weekend [personal profile] mother_bones noticed he had a loose tooth and rang me up to ask him if it'd be overstepping for them to take him to the vet. Of course I said absolutely not, please do, and told her which vet we've taken him to before. Turns out he's got a couple other bad teeth as well so is going to have an operation on Friday to take them out and catch up on a couple of niggly things like clip his nails (which he hates when he's awake!) and get him microchipped.

[personal profile] mother_bones was also very good at managing my utter misery about this, because of course I immediately panicked that she'd spotted something that I hadn't ages ago because I couldn't see it. She and the vet both said these things can happen (or at least reach a critical mass) quite quickly and I hadn't missed anything or been a bad dog owner. In a funny way I was almost glad that Gary did seem a little subdued when I came to pick him up again after we got back from our weekend away: he clearly was acting differently from the dog I'd dropped off on Friday so I could be more confident that he hadn't been suffering for ages with oblivious humans around. But like I say the vet gave him an injection and we've been giving him oral antibiotics since yesterday and then and today he seems to be much more his old self, still eating and barking at things and sitting in the sun and being his Wonder Dog self. A few friends-of-friends have had unwell or missing or otherwise fraught dogs and it's been a bit much for me because I keep fretting about Gary but I am getting better too.

There's actually enough sun to warm my back as I sit with a big window behind me! I hung the laundry out for the first time in weeks! It's very welcome. But makes me sleepy. I had a lot of sleep last night but could totally have a nap now...
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I stood up from the table with my empty bowl*, and before I'd even reached the kitchen, before I had made any discernable noise, I heard the soft thundering that indicated the dog was running down the stairs.

He scampers over if he's in the room and sees me standing up after a meal, having been taught to expect scraps then (though these are more common from Andrew than me, since he eats meat and somehow more things that can be scraped off the plate onto a little dog's food), but I'd never known him to run downstairs for them. This might partly be explained by the fact that he's not usually upstairs when we're both home, to be fair, though it was about the time he's been heading for bed lately.

But even so, how could he possibly know I was heading for the kitchen with an empty bowl?! I'd only taken a couple of quiet steps.

Then we're also talking, here, about a dog who has been known to hear the noise of me setting a block of cheese on the kitchen counter and come running down the stairs from where he'd been asleep. Cheese is his favorite, and somehow he can tell from another floor of the house, while asleep, that it's that thing and no other I've just gotten out of the fridge.

* Previously full of noodles and carrots and "chicken" and a miso ginger sauce I made from a recipe and found rather disappointing: even with lots more ginger than it called for it wasn't enough ginger, and too much miso for my tastes, but it was edible and I'll try it again with some tweaks.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
You know it's been a low-spoon week fortnight in this household when it gets to be about eight o'clock in the evening and the dog runs upstairs thinking it must be time to cuddle up to at least one of his humans in bed (usually me, but yesterday it was Andrew napping at six).

I started getting ready for bed about nine-thirty, partly because I felt sorry for his confusion and restlessness. He's curled up on my feet now, seeming very content.

I accidentally elbowed him (not too hard!) in the head as I was settling into bed. But since as I did he recognized I was getting into position for him to settle on, he bounded over to his usual spot and in his cheerfulness about this didn't seem to hold my mistake against me. He's such a good example for how great and important it is to go to bed.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
We shut Gary downstairs at night but on rare occasions I guess the door doesn't close properly or else he's desperate enough to get upstairs with us that he gets the handle pulled down enough to open the door--he can jump high enough, to my surprise; I've seen it.

Usually he only does this when I've gone out but Andrew's still sleeping so he has to take such extraordinary measures to be let out for a pee. But last night, after we went to bed but before we turned off the lights to go to sleep, I heard some strange noises and then he came bounding into the room and into the bed.

We didn't let him up here at first because I didn't want a bed full of dog hair and my sleep is interrupted/fragile enough without any external help. Then we found out that Andrew and Gary clash for some reason when Gary's allowed in our room, especially on the bed, so it was definitely not going to happen even on the days when he looks really sad to be left on his own (I'm not the soft touch Andrew is, but even I have heartstrings that can be susceptible at times!).

Last night he didn't growl or snarl at all but he didn't spend any time near Andrew either, he strode to the top of the blanket next to me (on the side away from Andrew), burrowed underneath--no small feat for a dog that still hasn't learned he can't get under a blanket he's standing on--and seemed to have every intention of staying just like that. I don't think either of us wanted to get out of bed to shut him downstairs again, so we thought we'd see what happened...and he was perfectly well behaved all night.

Having Andrew spooning up to one side of me and the dog pressed against my legs on the other side did make it quite a production to move or turn or do anything, especially when I had to go for a wee in the middle of the night. I didn't want to wake Andrew and I didn't want to push the dog off the bed! I think I managed. Yoga has given me good practice at this kind of thing.

But it never got past being a challenge and into being a problem. It was too nice to have all the cuddles. I've gone to bed on my own tonight and I miss that.


Mar. 16th, 2017 10:41 pm
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Gary's already gone on his holiday, staying with Andrew's dad because we'll be away this weekend.

I opened the front door after many hours of clerical by-election work without being met by barking, a wagging tail, or short legs padding excitedly to the door.

I ate my dinner with no rush to take the plate out to the kitchen, because there were no feet jumping up to bop me on the leg to indicate an interest in examining the plate for any tasty food. (He always gives up this hope once the empty dishes have been taken to the sink; such a helpful inducement to tidiness.)

And now I have to go to bed with no chance of snuggles.

We've only had the dog about eighteen months. How did we manage so long without one?!
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Here's a little clip of me and Gary from the BBC Breakfast twitter account.

I've had lots of nice messages from friends, family and even the people from Scope I talked to on Friday about this. Most of them have been about Gary.

I'm a bit sad my own family can't see me on TV -- while also kind of glad because they Don't Think of Me as Disabled and I'd worry they'd think I was complaining -- but I thought maybe I'd see about finding some nice stills from the video and getting them printed as proper photos for my family's Christmas presents. Seems a bit self-absorbed but I'm sure they'd like it. They don't have many pictures of me anyway. And none of the dog!
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I had the strangest day on Friday.

In the morning, I saw that [twitter.com profile] SurvivorKatie had linked a tweet at me about a focus group Scope were doing for visually impaired people. "It's a chance to get paid for what you do anyway!" she said, which made me smile. I told her I'd e-mail the guy for information like the tweet said to, but that I'd bet it's in London.

I e-mailed the guy and he e-mailed me back questions and details that didn't mention the word "London" anywhere (usually there's just a postcode or borough name hidden somewhere...) but yep, it was in London. So I wrote back to nicely suggest that they might like to include that fact in publicity for future such things because it saves the likes of me wasting their time (but I didn't say it like that, I said it in a nice way).

And I actually got a nicer reply than I expected: the guy said he'd only moved to London a couple of years ago and he'd gotten annoyed at how London-centric everything had been too. And he asked where I live since there are other things like this in other places.

We were e-mailing back and forth in between me getting ready for the day: I got dressed, walked the dog, all that kind of stuff. I was going to have a cup of tea with a friend, my new Bluetooth keyboard (Xmas present from Andrew) was arriving for my new tablet (birthday/Xmas present from [personal profile] mother_bones) was supposed to be arriving which I was looking forward to, I was going to the pub with the rest of the new WI committee that evening...it seemed like a nice enough day.

Just as I was getting to my friend's house, my phone pinged with an e-mail: it was from this Scope guy and it said something like "well actually we're looking for someone to do a media opportunity this afternoon, pre-record for the BBC for Monday, would you be interested?" I didn't look at it that closely, but I thought that all sounded okay so I wrote back yeah, sure and rang my friend's doorbell and didn't think much about it.

In the time it took me to drink about three cups of tea, I'd suddenly become this guy's favorite person because I think I'd solved a problem for them on pretty short notice. And this wasn't even going to be BBC radio like I'd been on a couple of times before, it was BBC Breakfast -- morning TV! They were going to talk about the "disability employment gap" and wanted a disabled person on who'd had trouble in, or getting, work. I was like hell yeah, I have opinions about that: If I had a job that didn't make me worse, it'd solve approximately all the problems in my life (while giving me a bunch of new ones, yes I know, but at least they'd be novelties).

As is the way of these things I was starting to hear slightly conflicting stuff and soon talking to a bunch of different people. After a few more e-mails and phone calls, what had changed to being a pre-record done over the weekend somewhere local to me (either my house or something like a cafe, and I was like...uh, yeah, cafe please, my house is awful), it suddenly became "right, I've got your address to tell the cameraman, he'll be on his way over really soon." I wasn't even home yet myself, I was still sitting on my friend's sofa when I heard that.

So I ran for a bus back from Reddish and on my way called Andrew and tried to explain. "He's coming here?" he said.

"I...guess so? I don't really know."

"But have you told him about our house?! Have you told him about Gary the Wonder Dog?! Why don't you go to Inspire instead?" All valid points, I felt, but there wasn't anything I could do about them.

I got home, needed a wee, but my phone rang again and the cameraman said he was leaving now so should be here in 30-45 minutes. I had enough time to wash my hair and put on a slightly-less-scruffy top. Andrew helped me pick everything up off the floor and furniture so it was at least possible for people to walk or sit down in our living room.

I was by this point anxiety-attack levels of anxious, though not exactly having an attack, and it was all about the state of me and the house rather than about the interview!

While I was waiting for the guy to show up, I talked to some Scope people about about this, what they'd like me to say if I could -- though they repeatedly emphasized that I should only say it if I actually thought it and not to worry if I didn't manage it. I think they were pretty grateful they'd found someone to do this and the guy I'd originally spoken to seemed to think it was as funny as I did that it'd turned out this way. "We're going to do this all backwards," he said, "because you'll do the interview and then I'll catch up with you and get details from you for our Stories project..."

And then the guy finally turned up and he was very nice. Since the dog, as always, went mental because someone had knocked on the door, I greeted him with "Sorry, I should've said we have a dog, I hope you're okay with dogs!" He was very okay, which was lucky really...or in another way, maybe not, because if he hadn't been maybe we could've gone to Inspire after all!

But then Gary wouldn't have ended up a TV star. But also nobody would see the piles of dirty dishes in my kitchen! "Swings and roundabouts," as the locals say.

Both of these things (dog and dishes, not swings or roundabouts) were used for "sequencing shots" -- the "look this is a normal person who does normal things!" kind of thing that's there to break up a talking-head interview, because really who wants to look at my stupid head for the whole two minutes or whatever they'll use.

I had to do everything twice -- play with Gary, put food in his bowl, pretend to wash one cup (so I guess at least if I look like I have a kitchen full of dirty dishes, I at least also look like I am actually going to do them!) -- so it could be filmed from different angles, and the whole thing seemed slightly surreal. I wasn't nervous about it because on some level I couldn't convince my brain it was really happening.

The guy was a bit self-conscious about all the faffing, messing with lights and doing things from different angles and whatnot, but I didn't mind at all because I was clearly a very small cog in a very big machine, and I could just wait to be told to do things and I didn't need to care if they were silly or confusing things. And it's not like they were difficult things. It was quite relaxing, actually!

Oh and as for what I talked about, I have basically no idea. My memory goes to shit when I'm anxious anyway. I do remember talking about Occupational Health being so shit when I started my NHS job, I hope that patronizing cow who tied my shoe for me hears herself being talked about on the telly, except I'm sure she doesn't remember it...). I probably talked for 15 minutes or so and they'll use two minutes of it and I have no idea which two minutes.

But you can all find out, if you want! It's apparently going to be on at ten to seven tomorrow morning, me pre-recorded with some employer in the studio saying no doubt that I am wrong about everything.

Anyway, what Scope asked me to mention is that there's a Government consultation going on into "helping disabled people find employment" but maybe we can convince them that the reasons we're not finding it are to do with employers disabling us rather than us just thinking life on benefits is so easy and nice that we can't be arsed getting a job... I'm going to try to write a response to the consultation, anyway, and would encourage any of my disabled chums to do so too. I'm happy to talk through or help anyone with that, if it'd help.


Nov. 19th, 2016 12:58 am
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Andrew and his mom went to a gig tonight so she's staying overnight.

When they got back we sat at the table, her smoking cigarettes and sharing her beer with me (the bag she brought with her seems to contain clothes, a tablet so she can listen to the radio all night, and cans of lager; I approve of all of this), and we all talked about progressive politics and how great Gary is and other good stuff.

And then we had to go to bed, so I checked on Gary and closed the door to keep him downstairs...but it wouldn't close! It was stuck nearly-closed. This extraordinary thing had never happened before.

I eventually discovered he'd left his Dentastix treat between the door and the frame, seeming for all the world as if it'd been intentionally placed there to wedge the door open so he could sneak upstairs to sleep with his humans. That's some dog, that wonder dog.


Oct. 22nd, 2016 06:02 pm
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
I dreamed last night that Gary the Wonder Dog died. I was away somewhere and Andrew told me. I cried and cried. I looked at pictures of him on my phone and cried. But then somehow when I got back home Andrew had been wrong and he was fine and I thought my heart would burst from happiness. (Gary has shown up in my dreams before to cheer me up and I don't think my subconscious was willing to keep him away for too long.)

Then Andrew woke me up to tell me it was late and gary'd probably want to be let outside, so I went downstairs and he didn't need a wee but he curled up on my lap under a blanket and was so warm and furry and sweet and I was so happy he's there.

And then facebook told me it'd been a year since he came to live with us. We didn't know then he'd be here for good; it might just have been for a couple of months. And I posted these pictures that day.

Happy year-with-us, Gary the Wonder Dog.
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)
Andrew's trying to get the dog to stop barking.

"Calm grey ocean, Gary, calm grey ocean."

I was reading something, so it took a second for my brain to catch up with my ears.

"Calm grey ocean?" I was worried this was going to be part of his anti-sunshine, pro-overcast worldview, but no.

"Yeah, well, he's colorblind!" Andrew explained.

Of course. I should've known...


hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)

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