Contrary to what you might have thought . . .

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Fedoralady is still alive and (reasonably) well and definitely still an admirer of Mr. Armitage. I enjoy those little snippets we get of him now and again. Thank you, Michelle Forbes, “Berlin Station” co-star and apparent new fan of our amazing guy, for your lovely tweets and twitpics. They do help fans hungry for any morsels of Armitage.

As for me, I’ve had a few issues with writer’s block, a dodgy left shoulder and the usual money worries. There have been frequent bouts of melancholy, what with one actor/musician after another from my youth shuffling off their collective mortal coils. As the late, great southern writer Lewis Grizzard once more or less said, “Elvis is dead and I’m not feeling so good myself.”

Amen, Lewis. Amen.

We haven’t been hit with blizzards as in other parts of the country, but we’ve had some violent thunderstorms that kept me awake all night.  And enough cold, wet days this winter to make my cats alternately stir crazy/ extra clingy and me simply not want to get out of bed. Some days I haven’t. My eyes are doing strange things–too much time online, perhaps?–or maybe my baby cataracts have finally ripened. I flinch at the idea of what surgery will cost me, even with insurance. Those damned co-pays.

A friend’s husband was killed in a traffic accident ten days or so ago. Their daughter is in high school, playing on the girls’ basketball team. She had to miss a game, but was able to play in the game that won her team the regional trophy. My friend was there, eyes still puffy but a smile on her face, posing for a photo holding the trophy, surrounded by the girls.

Life goes on. Celebration and mourning, elation and grief can come fast on one another’s heels.

Our furry babies are growing and in my eyes, absolutely gorgeous. I forget just how much they’ve grown until I look at their older pix and see the difference. I delight in working on photo edits of them.

A prodigal son, a former feral we adopted after his elderly owner had to give him up before moving to assisted living, has returned. Billie Jeff disappeared after literally breaking out of our house and running away months ago. He’s a huge, beautiful boy, his clipped ear giving him a distinctly rakish look. He’s cautious around the other felines but very open to petting and being picked up and cuddled by the humans.
I think he got lonely. And tired of trying to cope on his own.

Billie Jeff, the prodigal who has returned to the fold.

Billie Jeff, the prodigal who has returned to the fold.

I guess we all need a place to call home.

Benny emailed me today to say another cat has appeared at the house, one who quickly headed for the old farmhouse when he saw my husband. That means we now have ten cats in the vicinity, only two of whom have been “fixed.”

I actually dreamed recently that someone had dumped a box full of puppies in our yard. I was alternately elated and completely dismayed. I love puppies and can’t imagine life without my Crick Bank Kitties. But any more mouths to feed . . . no. Just no.  No more room at this inn.

Now I am working on a retrospective video that will be shown at the Ritz each night before the 10th anniversary of our arts council’s musical fundraisers this April. It’s good to get those creative juices flowing again; I hope it helps jumpstart some other projects for me.  Still working on promoting my Crick Bank Kitty Collection at Spreadshirt; got another order on Wednesday. Every little bit helps.

 

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Spring’s coming; according to the groundhog, it will arrive early.

I remain hopeful. Stressed and a bit “beat down,” maybe. But hopeful. And there are images like this to help tide me over.  Thanks again, Michelle.

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Guyday Friday! Ladywriter talks–Politics??–with Sir Guy.

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“I hate politics.”

Sir Guy stretched out his long, long denim-clad legs (he was slumming it. Casual Friday, you know.) and lazily crossed one boot-clad ankle over the other. Folding his arms across his snug-fitting black cashmere sweater (its V-neck giving a tantalizing glimpse of that sculpted chest), Ladywriter’s favorite dark knight threw a smirk her way as he tossed back that lustrous inky black mane of his.

 

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“Did you decide this suddenly, my dear LW, or has your loathing been long standing?” Guy drawled.
She sighed and raked her fingers through her already disheveled hair.

“Oh, it’s been growing. My disillusionment really kicked in when I was working for the newspaper full-time and saw a lot of local and state politicians up close. Reporting tends to breed a certain–cynicism–methinks.”

Guy nodded in commiseration as LW continued.

“And I am already thoroughly sick of all the yadayadayada going on between Democrats and Republicans in social media, the canned political endorsements being dialed to my phone, the ridiculous knee-jerk reactionary posts on Facebook and—”

LW shot Guy her own lop-sided smile, a rather wicked gleam in her eyes behind the spectacles. “If I never saw or heard from Donald Trump again, it would be too soon, my dear Guy!”

He raised a quizzical black brow as he tilted his head.

“You are not an ardent fan of The Donald?” His lips twitched as he spoke.

(Having surfed the net to keep up with current events, Sir Guy was already well aware of Mr. Trump and LadyWriter’s likely opinion of the presidential hopeful. Still, it was great fun to tease her . . .)

LW gave a large and distinctly unladylike snort.

“I’d rather have the sheriff teach me the poetry of pain before I voted that man—-dogcatcher, much less president. As far as I am concerned, he’s a narcissistic blowhard jerkwad who, in the end, is only interested in blatant self-promotion, not what is best for our country.”

“So . . . if he gets this nomination, you will vote for Hilary?”

Ladywriter gave a weary shrug of her shoulders. “I confess I have certain reservations about Hilary, none of which having to do with her being a woman, by the way, but–it may be a case of the lesser of the two evils.” She pressed her hands to her head and shook it. “To think we have months and months of this to go.”

Guy’s kohl-rimmed eyes narrowed in thought. “Perhaps . . . the Ultimate RA Force should reassemble, my lady. And stage an–intervention of sorts with Mr. Trump?”

LW’s eyes widened as she leaned forward. “Oh, could you? WOULD you?”

Guy dipped his head. “For you, my lady, our band of ChaRActer brothers will happily reunite to take on this cursed blight.” As he raised his head, a calculating smile formed on his lips. The gleam in HIS eyes was downright wicked now.

“I think I would rather enjoy, as you would say nowadays, kicking this fellow’s arse from here to next year,” he said in those dark chocolate tones she so loved.

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YESSSS!

(To Be Continued)

So, I now have an online shop . . .

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‘Tis the season . . . & other musings (& some shameless marketing)

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I’ve started a new business venture of sorts that combines my love for animals with my love of photography and photo editing–more on this and an update on the Crick Bank Kitties in my personal blog’s latest post. <3

Musings from a Mid-Century Modern Girl

I have always loved the holiday season. First there’s Thanksgiving, and its opportunity to reflect on blessings and share a meal with those I love. Whether it’s a big extended family gathering as in years part, or as it is now, just Benny and me and the pets, it’s a special time of the year (and one on which I personally refuse to do any shopping).

This year our own furry family expanded with the rescue of our Crick Bank Kitties. I grieved the loss of Spock and Tiger; I still miss them and think of them often. I feel truly blessed to have had them a part of our lives, even if only for a short time.

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A favorite pic of mine--Spock sleeping with Grey in a sweet cuddle. A favorite pic of mine–Spock sleeping with Grey in a sweet cuddle.

But the other six CBKs certainly seem to be flourishing. We finally finished with the daily ringworm meds (and my own…

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My seasonal guilty pleasure; or, surprised by a former RA co-star! Who’da thunk it.

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For most of the year, my TV is likely to be tuned into Investigation Discovery for a good whodunit, PBS for the classy Masterpiece Theatre or a thought-provoking documentary, or BBC America for fantastical fun via “Doctor Who.”
But somehow, come late November, this gal’s thoughts turn in the direction of sweet, snow-capped sentiments, predictable plotlines, sprightly holiday tunes and Norman Rockwell-esque small town Americana at its finest, where the denizens never meet a stranger and often speak with distinctly Canadian accents.

Yes, I fall down the rabbit hole of Hallmark holiday films, and willingly so.  They may frequently be sappy, corny and require the viewer to suspend their disbelief, but there’s just something about them that makes me come back for more.

What can I say? I have always loved Christmas and I’ve always had a sweet tooth.

(All images courtesy of Crown Media)

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When Riley Vance is hired after a case of mistaken identity, she keeps the truth a secret so she can help her boss William Young save a town at risk of losing their main livelihood just before Christmas even as she gets closer to William. Photo: Steve Lund, Shenae Grimes-Beech Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Ben Mark Holzberg

One of my favorite Hallmark holiday films is this one, and not just because it features some adorable felines.

One of my favorite Hallmark holiday films is this one, and not just because it features some adorable felines.

The holiday movies are pretty much non-stop on both the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries this time of year, with a dozen or more new ones churned out every annum for Thanksgiving and Christmas, almost all of them filmed in Canada (hence those distinctly North of the Border vowels).

I find I can go about my business online, doing photo and video edits, creating and flogging my Crick Bank Kitty merchandise, working on humane society projects and have one of these films playing in the background without it being a distraction from RL work. I don’t have to hang on to every word or every visual to know how it’s all going to end. Into every life there comes a need for some feel-good fluff.

The films usually star actors who had hit TV shows in the US back in the ’80s or ’90s, or beloved character actors in supporting roles (these folks often steal the show). One of the leads might come from a stable of Canadian actors who have become familiar faces to me and my fellow sugar addicts. Make no mistake, there are some genuinely talented folks who appear in these films (and often make them watchable in spite of lackluster/ludicrous scripts). Let’s be honest, though–you don’t find a lot of current A- or even B-listers roaming around the set of a Hallmark film.  Certainly not one of the oft classically-trained Brit actors I so admire.

 

Lucas and Adam meet on RA's first (and RPJ's last) episode of Spooks. They had nice on-screen chemistry in their scenes together.

Lucas and Adam meet on RA’s first (and RPJ’s last) episode of Spooks. They had nice on-screen chemistry in their scenes together.

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So I have to admit I was surprised to see RA’s former “Spooks” co-star Rupert Penry-Jones in one of the Hallmark Channel’s new holiday offerings for 2015, “Crown for Christmas.” The film pairs Rupert with Danica McKellar, formerly of the dramedy “The Wonder Years” and reality show “Dancing with the Stars.”  Danica plays an aspiring artist who scrapes by as a maid at a ritzy big city hotel–a job from which she is fired when she tries to help out her sister and fellow maid. But never fear, Danica’s honesty (she turns in the pricey Rolex left by a certain distinguished guest) leads to her being whisked off to Europe to serve as a governess to a princess.

Naturally, with his delicious English accent and tall, regal good looks, Rupert plays Prince Charming, er, King Maximilian, the widowed ruler of a mythical European kingdom. He has troubled connecting with his little princess, Theodosia, who, in turn, acts out and drives one governess after the other out of the castle. Do we all know where the plot is going from here? Of course, we do. The adorable fish-out-of-water American lass wins the hearts of the child, the staff and ultimately, the king himself. And they live happily ever after . . .

Danica McKellar as the spirited American whisked away to a royal castle to serve as a governess to a little princess.

Danica McKellar as the spirited American whisked away to a royal castle to serve as a governess to a little princess.

Yes, I know, it’s been done before, over and over, variations of the same theme. And Danica, while lovely, is, at 40, probably a little long in the tooth for this particular role (something else common to these films–actresses and actors are frequently cast in roles more suitable to performers a decade or two younger).

But I found I did enjoy this offering more than some of the Hallmark holiday fare (there are a few so wretchedly scripted and acted I just can’t force myself to watch. Avoid the Santa films with Steve Guttenberg at all costs).

Rupert definitely brought some class and nicely understated acting to the role. Only a handful of reviews so far, but it’s got a solid 7.2 on IMDB, considerably better than most Hallmark films (admittedly, most of the reviewers seemed to watch primarily for RPJ). Rupert also had truly nice chemistry with the talented young actress playing his daughter, who actually looked as if she might be his offspring.

Rupert Penry-Jones and Ellie Botteril as father and daughter in "Crown for Christmas."

Rupert Penry-Jones and Ellie Botteril as father and daughter in “Crown for Christmas.”

So– how did the lovely Rupert, who has, like RA, performed in legitimate theater in London, end up doing a fluffy Hallmark film? It seems he has joined the cast of the acclaimed FX thriller  “The Strain” (created and co-produced by no less than Guillermo De Toro).  And the show just happens to film in–yep, Canada (a number of US series do shoot in Canada–like “Hannibal.”).  (I haven’t watched this vampire drama yet, but we have all the eps on our DVR.)

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So, I have to ask myself–would I mind it if Mr. A showed up in a Hallmark film? Would his fans mind?  Would there be thudding and squeezing or weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth–or some of both?
No doubt he’s done some controversial roles before (thinking of the polarization caused by “Hannibal”) and likely will in the future, because we know he’s not content to play the same type of character over and over again.  And I think he rather enjoys surprising his fandom with some of his choices. He does maintain a sense of humor about it all.

And he hasn’t actually played a human king . . .    ;)   Or maybe they could bring back RPJ for a second “Crown” film with RA as his royal cousin looking for love . . . hmmmmm.

(Tongue firmly tucked into to cheek tonight, dear ladies. Have a wonderful week!)

 

"A Royal Holiday," starring Richard Armitage

“A Royal Holiday,” starring Richard Armitage

 

Urban and the Shed Crew – a Review

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Urban and the Shed Crew – a Review

I have been eagerly awaiting Guylty’s thoughtful, balanced and insightful review of “Urban” and here it is. A very good read!

Guylty Pleasure

Attempt number 5 at getting a review of UATSC down. Yes. It has taken me five days and four scrapped attempts to finally post my review of UATSC. To jump ahead, I think the film is good. But I almost felt a little bit too entertained and not quite affected enough by it, due to the aesthetic and plot choices in it. And I acknowledge that that is due to having read the book – which has resulted in my own interpretations and own mental visualisation of the story. As it is, the film is film-maker Candida Brady’s own, individual interpretation of the story. And it is therefore separate from the book and equally valid. My difficulty at coming to a conclusion about the film’s merits is hampered by my expectations, based on the source material – which potentially makes my review unfair.

UATSC cover The cover of the 2005 memoir, available here

You see, I walked…

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A great black cat crossed her path today . . . Happy Guyday Friday the 13th!

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“Some people think days like today are most unlucky …” He purred.

She smiled, tilting her head. “But I’ve never been superstitious.”

A flash of white teeth. Clear blue eyes tinged with grey gleamed as he leaned in close. Dangerously close.

“So you have no fear of black cats crossing your path, my lady?” A dark whisper, murmured in her ear.

Her heart thumped hard in her chest. Could he hear it?

“No . . . not at all. They are such–beautiful, elegant creatures. Who simply need to be–appreciated.”
She caught her breath as she felt his strong, nimble fingers wrap around one wrist, gently caressing it. He spoke again, his voice husky and deep.

“And you have the right touch to tame the beast, my lady?”

She sighed. “Just let me show you . . .”

A dark laugh. “With pleasure . . .”

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Casually Strolling Into Madness – #UATSC Premiere Part 2

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Dog tired but glad to get a dose of Thorin

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Have you ever been so tired you could barely hold your head up? Part of it’s physical and part of it’s mental and emotional. We have a humane society pet calendar due two weeks from tomorrow and I haven’t been able to meet with the publisher yet due to issues for both of us. She’s been swamped and I’ve been sick. Thursday should finally be the day.

She has all the photos and stories and info in her possession that I have put together and supplied to her and I have complete faith in her ability to lay it all out and I will step in and supply captions and proofing. I’ve known her for years, I know her skill set and ability to meet deadlines. But the humane society president doesn’t know all these things and I feel him breathing down my neck because this isn’t the way the previous printer and the previous project chair did things. *sigh*

Of course, the previous printer, who undeniably did good work, was charging us so much for the print job we weren’t making a lot of profit. And the previous project chair got burned out and also managed to alienate some of the people submitting photos by more or less insulting their precious pets. As someone confided to me, “No one wants to hear their dog’s too ugly to be in the calendar.”

No, indeed. Don’t bite the hand that shells out the dollars for the calendars, dear.

Anyway, I am on my second round of antibiotics now and I think the remaining lesions are beginning to fade a bit. I haven’t had a weeping blister in several days and should definitely be past the contagious stage. I think the meds are starting to really sap what energy I have, which is never where I would like it to be.

I was able to go out in public and cover two events Saturday with normal makeup and just a little extra concealer. I didn’t scare the children or farm animals (Old Time Farm Day was one of the events). My skin’s still itchy and tender and molting a bit, but at least I don’t feel so ickily leprous. There’s improvement; I guess I am just too impatient. Today, I’ve been nauseous and dizzy and overwhelmingly tired.

And then something came tonight after dark via the UPS lady, who calls me “sugah” and “darlin'” but keeps a sharp eye out for our GSD (“Once you’ve been bitten, you just extra careful, ya know?”)
I do know.

The parcel, heavy for its size, contained the final Weta Chronicles book on the Hobbit films and it completes my collection. I haven’t had the money to splurge on some of the Hobbit merchandising but I always seem to find room for books.

And these books are something special, handsomely bound with lavish illustrations and copious photographs, so much detail about the costuming, makeup and prosthetics, set design and decoration, and the artists and craftspeople who painstakingly create worlds upon the screen that only previously existed in the imagination. These are keepsakes and the sort of books I love to revisit from time to time.

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Naturally, the first thing I look for is anything related to Thorin and Richard.

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There’s more I’d like to say about Richard’s own thoughts and impressions recorded in this volume and those of the individuals who worked with him, but my brain is too sludgy tonight to even attempt it. Maybe tomorrow . . . tomorrow is another day.

Happy Halloween from The Dark Side . . .

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“You are still such a temptation . . .”

A single saturnine brow is raised.

“Oh–am I?” A husky purr from deep in his throat.

“Ummmm-hmmmmm.” Her lips curved into a teasing smile.

“So many of us ready to fall at your feet . . .”

A flash of white teeth in the semi-darkness.

“Including–you, my lady?”

A soft sigh slowly exhaled. “Always . . .”

A velvet chuckle. “Well, then—I shall see you on the dark side, my angel.”

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Happy Halloween!

What’s blue & cute & has a great message? Read on! Raising funds for our CBK!

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Need a cute blue tee bearing an important message? Want to help seven furry orphans in the storm? Check out my newest “Musings” blog post! :D

Musings from a Mid-Century Modern Girl

It’s a long-sleeved Gildan unisex tee in a lovely shade of Carolina Blue from Boosters.com, that’s what! Super comfy and perfect for cooler weather, the Crick Bank Kitties tee comes in all sizes from Youth Extra Small to Adult 5XL.

Each Crick Bank Kitties tee is $25, with profits going to cover medical expenses of the seven new (formerly abandoned) feline mouths we are feeding, vetting, socializing and eventually spaying and neutering. We want them all to have a happy, healthy life full of love.
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Take a look at the back and you’ll see it ALSO has a special message, because cats DO multiply like crazy and spaying and neutering is the most humane way to decrease the surplus pet population. Too many kittens are born into situations where they are not wanted, many ending up abandoned like the Crick Bank Kitties or surrendered to shelters where the overwhelming odds are they will be…

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Hail, hail, the (Crick Bank Kitty) gang’s all here! Happy, sad, and scabby (me, not the kitties)

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Update on my real life activities with the Crick Bank Gang and this weird bacterial infection . . . Happy, Sad and Scabby. That’s me!

Musings from a Mid-Century Modern Girl

The beautiful and regal Midnight, the eldest of the Crick Bank Kitties (who came from various assorted and sundry litters, it seems).

In this past week, we’ve gained three new family members and said a final goodbye to another.

It all happened on the same day, in fact. Benny, who is, I’ve decided, the cat whisperer of Butler County, took the TNR trap we borrowed from Annie and managed, one at a time, to capture Midnight, Smokey and Marmalade and bring them to the house. Finally–all of the Crick Bank Gang Kitties were residing on Pecan Ridge. Hooray!

P1190610cuddlewPunkin Punkin decided to cuddle with Marmalade, Smokey and Midnight on Friday night. Benny alerted me to this “Kodak Moment.”

However, our happiness was tempered by the loss of sweet, curious, gentle Spock, he of the alien-looking ears and unusual blue-green eyes. Unlike the other kittens we had already rescued, Spock never seemed to gain…

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After eight years, Richard Armitage, you still move me.

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I don’t have the extended edition of the BOTFA yet (maybe for Christmas if I am a very good girl). However, I have certainly appreciated getting to see the clip of   the preparation for Thorin’s final scene and the numerous screen caps from various bonus videos people have posted.

 

Seeing these various images–some solemn, others light-hearted–touched off a wellspring of emotions inside me.  How could I not fail to be moved seeing Richard’s preparation for Thorin’s death scene? Seeing how he lay there so quiet, so still and deep in thought, as the crew members moved around him, shifting snow, adjusting his costume, saying very little themselves as if recognizing the solemnity of the occasion.

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And then watching Martin and Richard acting that scene–absolutely heartbreaking. I remembered my husband reaching over and squeezing my hand to comfort me as the tears flowed freely down my face watching that scene in the theater. And I cried once again as I watched it unfold on the screen of my laptop.

Richard Armitage, I am not sure there is anybody who can die more–beautifully, poetically–than you onscreen.  I might be prejudiced, of course–but you do have a tremendous capacity to move me with your artistry.

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I was also very touched seeing the little shrine the crew created on the spot where the death scene took place.

It was a fitting way to honor this larger-than-life character and the rather extraordinary man who brought him so vividly, unforgettably to life.  Here’s to Thorza!

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Seeing the smile on your face as you talk about it makes me believe you were also touched by the tribute, both proud and humbled by this gesture.

Seeing you in full concentration mode–the dedicated, focused actor who is always on task–and in those lighter moments when Richard breaks through the Thorin guise and we see the grins and laughter, the humor, sweetness and genuineness reflected in those eyes–well, I am once again impressed by that dedication and drawn to the man I perceive you to be. Unpretentious, good-humored, attentive, discerning.

 

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And huggable. Huggable is very important.

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Oh, those eyes. That smile. I won’t even get into how impossibly sexy you also are here (ah, there goes that head bob as you murmur a self-deprecating remark). Beyond the obvious attractions of grey-tinged beard (growing older ever so gracefully, you are), glimpsed chest hair, lovely crinkles and that plaid shirt with its tempting snaps, there’s that aura you exhude. Yes, even in a screen cap of a candid moment.  Especially in such a moment.

Richard Armitage, after more than eight years as a fan, you still move me. Move me to tears, to smiles, to giggles, to that funny little flutter in my heart and in my stomach.