Saturday I took advantage of a relatively light schedule and got a solid block of hours in the bathroom for the first time in over a month. First up was to get the linen closet leveled, centered on its pedestal, and secured to the wall. Before I could do that I had to install a section of wood, included with the cabinets, to stand it off the wall by about 3″. I clamped it to the cabinet, scribed it (the wall is not straight), and tried using the new band saw, but found that the band saw was in desperate need of adjustment. Instead, I cut it freehand with the table saw. I clamped it on to the cabinet and screwed it in place, then snugged the whole cabinet up against the wall: a perfect fit. Now the extra room will allow the cabinet doors to clear the door casing when they’re open.
Once that was secured in place, I knew where the woodwork around the window could be, and started putting that back in. I’d already cut the stool, so it was simply a matter of putting the surrounds back in, measuring, cutting, and milling the casing, and setting up the top moulding. After caulking and adding wood fill to the nail holes, I leveled the small cabinet next to it and secured that to the wall. At that point it was time to wrap things up, because we had advent plans for the evening.
Jen got us tickets to see the Moscow Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker in the city, so we got our church clothes on, gave Hazel her sedative and put her in the crate, and headed into Baltimore. We got there early because they’ve begun security checks at the theater, so we had about an hour to kill before the curtain went up. We all got a cocktail at the bar and found some chairs in the upstairs lobby to relax in.
The production was beautiful. The Hippodrome isn’t the largest of stages, so I got the feeling they had to adjust the blocking to fit all of the dancers, but they did an amazing job and we were all captivated. The pair doing the Arabian Variation took our breath away. By the time we got home it was 10:30 and Finn went right to bed.
Sunday was a family day. The girls went to church while I ran some errands—a haircut and some Christmas shopping—and then did some small jobs around the house. When they got home, we went into Ellicott City for some lunch at Georgia Grace cafe, where the menu leans Greek and the food is delicious. Then we came back and took Hazel for a walk around the neighborhood. Back inside, we caught up on our Advent activities around the dining room table. First, we made our family picture, and then we cut out snowflakes to hang on the windows. Then we lit a fire and talked about our Christmas lists. I started feeling lousy and went upstairs for a nap, and by the time I woke up Finn was just settling down in bed.
I’m hoping this lousy feeling doesn’t mean I’m coming down with something, as I still don’t have a very healthy immune system. I did get a bunch of sleep overnight but woke up with the same sore throat and achy feeling.
On Saturday the family gathered in Finley’s room to tackle a large, heavy project that took two nice deliverymen to get up the stairs: a birthday loft bed/desk combination.
The house has been chaos for months, between the bathroom project, the window projects and the dog, there are several cabinets, spare wood, and other building materials stacked in the blue room, tools in the hallway and a compressor in the dining room, and a baby gate between the den and the living room. Finley has been waiting patiently since September, so we tackled it as soon as possible after it was delivered. First we broke down her bed and moved its parts out into the hall, then opened the box and started organizing all 1300 parts. It was slow going at first but after I grabbed two more allen wrenches and another cup of coffee the three of us got the whole thing up and in place. She’s now got a full-size desk under her bed facing the side wall of the house, and her room feels larger and brighter. She’s slept up there several nights without falling out and breaking her head, so that’s a win.
I’m sad, however, that I can’t do “the Bull” anymore. When she was a toddler, I’d stomp around downstairs while she hid under her covers, squealing, and then I’d stomp up the stairs in increasing tempo until I was storming into the room to jump on the bed and yell “YAAARRRGGHHHH!!” and she’d scream under the covers in fear and giggles. It’s impossible to do that when you have to climb a ladder.
Maybe I can install a trampoline…
It was Finley’s birthday yesterday!
We had a friend of Finn’s come over to stay the night, and took the girls out for dinner. Sunday morning Jen made pancakes for breakfast while I took Hazel out to the Lowe’s for supplies. Once we finished eating the girls did their thing until noon, and then we drove into Ellicott City for Finn’s surprise: we made truffles at Sweet Cascades.
The owner, a lovely lady named Sue, had us blow up balloons to made chocolate bowls. Then, we scooped ganache from a bowl and rolled truffles, using a variety of other candies and ingredients to flavor them.
Then we dipped everything in more chocolate and decorated them, which was great fun.
We wrapped up our creations and put them in our bowls, then headed back home, completely stuffed. Mama and I enjoyed the huge smile on Finley’s face the whole time.
I had plans for Jen’s birthday. We were set to have dinner at a new restaurant downtown, and after some last-minute scrambling we found a sitter we know but have never used before (we’ve gone to church with their family for years). Finn and I took the dog out to run errands, and she started complaining about not feeling good at the Home Depot, where Hazel was the hit of the store. We stopped in PetSmart to pick up a yard lead, some chew sticks, a new collar, and a better harness, and Finn looked worse. Out in the parking lot I was holding Hazel while waiting for Finn to get in and she threw up next to the truck.
I packed both of them up and got them home, where we hosed off Finn’s feet and shoes and she went inside. Then I canceled the sitter and our reservation, and we downgraded our plans for something quieter. I’m sorry, baby.
Hazel is settling in well so far, and we’re adjusting to the reality of a new creature in our household who needs constant attention. As puppies go, she’s an absolute dream. She’s able to hold her bowels overnight and make it out to the front lawn at 7AM—but not much past that. She doesn’t bark or carry on when she’s alone at night, and she’s cool with the crate overall. Now that she’s comfortable in the house she’s happier to play and gnaw on things, but she responds to “No” and “Leave it” very quickly. And she wants to walk further and further each day, even though she’s got some anxiety issues with noises and dogs and cars and people.
Finn and I were walking the dog on Sunday afternoon, enjoying the sunshine and cool air, and a truck pulled up alongside us on Frederick Road. A big late-model Ford quad-cab, easily a $60+K truck. The driver half-yelled, half-slurred something like “C’mere” and waved at us; I stopped where I was on the sidewalk and Finn stood beside me, slightly behind me. This kind of thing happens frequently where we live; people get lost and stop to ask for directions quite often in this age of Siri and Google Maps. But whatever.
The man then started talking to us in a rambling, slurring, mumbling voice, and as he began he picked a magazine up off the passenger-side seat next to him. I caught a glimpse of it and something registered and I thought, is that what I think it is? The words I could make out were something about Morseberger’s (the bar down the street in the middle of Catonsville), his daughter in Florida who doesn’t talk to him, driving around—at this point he stopped and said, “is that your daughter?” at which I point the alarm bells were beginning to ring and I didn’t bother to hide the annoyance on my face and said, “Yes?”—and then he mentioned Morseberger’s again and kept looking at me, and then the magazine, and then me again and mumble-talking. It was at this point I could actually make out what the magazine was: a girlie mag of the quality you’d find in a porno shop. And he was looking at Finn.
I snapped. I started yelling at him: “GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE. WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE. YOU ASSHOLE! GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!”
He actually looked shocked, and had the nerve to look wounded, like I’d just kicked his dog. Then he dropped the magazine back down on the seat, struggled to put his truck in gear and peeled out as I yelled after him, “GET OUT OF HERE, ASSHOLE!”
His truck receding in the distance, Finn looked at me and said, “Wow, Daddy, you were swearing at him. Why did you swear at him?”
Pumped up on adrenaline, I had to calm myself down a little and explain to her what I’d seen and why I reacted the way I did. When we got home we set out some food and water for Hazel and the three of us had another discussion about perverts and why they do dumb shit like that and what to do when that happens (we’ve been talking to her about this kind of stuff for years).
When she sets up the lemonade stand, we realize that anything can happen, just like it can when she walks to school. The world is full of normal people and our neighborhood is like most others in the country. But it’s the one screwball that can really mess with one’s trust in society; I can almost see how 1/2 of the population would rather sit inside and listen to Fox News tell us how dangerous the world is every day instead of going out and making it better.
I’m glad I was there with her, and I’m glad the deep-rooted politeness I’ve been taught through the years was overtaken by full-on Dad mode as quickly as it did and with the conviction I felt. Part of me still can’t believe it actually happened.
Sunday afternoon I found a $20 router stand on Craigslist and spent an hour in the car picking it up. I’ve been using my router freehand since I got it, and have found a way to get the results I need without any mounting surface. But for the two threshold pieces I’m building for the bathroom, I need a stable base to work with and the new 60˚ bit I found is too big to use freehand. This stand is only worth about $20—it’s the basest of bases Black & Decker produced about 40 years ago. But within an hour I’d mounted the router to the stand and devised a way to get it to work with the wood I’ve got—I’m going to have to build a jig for it, which I’d have to do with a $300 router stand—but when it’s done I should be able to add a gentle beveled edge to the threshold that won’t stub a toe.