We say a lot of things about Hazel. She’s a good girl; she’s out of control. She’s a smart dog; She’s a moron. She’s a sharp as a tack; she’s a mess. All of it is true. She’s a mixture of very intelligent breeds that have combined in her brain to create a lovable schizophrenic who is a slave to her own conflicting instincts. She is desperate to be put to work: She wants to hunt for game but is continually sidetracked by the scent of rodentia. She can be passed out cold but the faint bark of a horny fox will send her into convulsions. We take her to the Farmer’s Market every chance we get, but the presence of other dogs means I’ve got to hand off my coffee and choke up on the leash to make sure she doesn’t get tangled up in the crowd. To her credit, she’s never the dog to bark or growl; I’m usually able to get her away from the other dog quick enough to avoid that.
Her smell has been getting pretty foul lately, and the frito smell from her paws has been strong, so I got her to follow me up to the bathtub to get ready for a bath. She knows what the bathroom is all about and doesn’t really enjoy being in there, but she followed me in and sat on the rug, waiting for me to prepare. I realized I’d forgotten the baking soda, so I gave her the WAIT command and ran downstairs to grab it. It took a little longer than I was expecting to find it, but I also grabbed the marshmallows and ran back up. As I reached the top of the stairs, I was happily surprised to see her sitting quietly where I’d left her, clearly aware I was about to give her a bath, but resigned to her fate. I gave her a handful of marshmallows.
She is a beautiful, maddening mess of a dog, but I love her very much.
Saturday morning the family rose, grabbed a quick meal, and put on warm clothes so that we could help organize and distribute Thanksgiving meals for a church in our neighborhood. As part of the food drive we did a couple of weeks ago, our church partners with others to collect and donate food, and we signed up for another morning of service. We parked front of a long line of idling cars, then walked to the back of the church house where tables were set up and people were busily building boxes of cans and bags of dry goods. Jen and Finn dove into the tent and got to work, and I made myself useful at a pile of boxes along the driveway, stacking and moving things from one place to the next. When the cars started coming in, we all hustled to fill them with food. It was a bit chaotic at the beginning, but the joyful congregation and good cheer kept the mood light and the work easy. The last of 200 turkeys was loaded in a car at 10:40, and the final car drove through at 11:30. We helped clean up as much as we possibly could, then had a slice of homemade cake and some hot chocolate and said our good-byes, happy we’d been able to do some good.
I headed over the bridge on Sunday morning to put a day’s worth of work in on the schoolbus, which has been sitting patiently in the shed since we stopped work in October. The first job was to unpack the bench seats and do a test fitting to see how they looked. We unpacked one and set it up on the floor of the garage, finally figuring out how the folding mechanism worked so that we could convert it into a seat (they ship flat). We used an angle grinder to take a third folding section of the bed off the back—there isn’t enough room to include it, and they don’t need it with the way we’re organizing the space. Then we hauled it into the bus and sat it in place, making some test holes to figure out where the seat bases will land. When that was done we unpacked the single seat and put that in place to test the pass-through space. It’ll be tight, but it should work.
Repacking the seats, we sanded the high edges of the floor down, put about a thousand flooring nails in place, and applied leveling mud to the surface to smooth it all out. By the time that dried it was getting dark, so we set up a light and got to work laying floor tile. We started up front and worked our way back, and with Brian prepping the floor and laying tile and me cutting tiles to fit, we cranked it out pretty quickly. Even so, by the time we finished it was 7:30 and while he cleaned up the surface I ran around and threw all the tools in the truck. We then had a minor hiccup when the battery on the bus decided it was too weak to turn the motor over, so we found some jumper cables and started it from Brian’s truck. It was 8PM when we left Rock Hall and 9:30 by the time I made it home to the girls.
Meanwhile, Jen had been at the ER with Hazel for four hours, who had been acting strangely all morning. They were swamped so it took a long time to be seen, but when she was examined and an X-ray was taken, it turned out she is backed up worse than the Long Beach dockyards. They did some, uh, work to help the situation but it’s going to take more long walks and some time to clear out her pipes. So she’s moping around the house with her bonnet and a disturbed look on her face. Here’s to hoping the deliveries start back up again.
Well, it looks like the time I spent wet and shivering in a field in Pennsylvania translated itself into a head cold. I’m taking some Dayquil to knock the cough and runny nose back, and that seems to be holding things at bay for now. I’m going to try to get into bed and get as much rest as I can through the weekend so that I can get better before we head to Mom’s house for Turkey Day.
Hazel is back to wearing the Bonnet of Shame for a while; we were lightening the medication for her allergies but her ears started scabbing up and bleeding again (and itching, which meant she was scratching and shaking her head even more) so we ramped the dose back up again. She’s a pitiful sight; she skulks around like we’ve been beating her with broom handles every day of her life. I feel terrible for her, but it’s either this or she sprays blood all over the house. And I’m not having that.
© 2022 Bill Dugan