She has to wear the ear wrap because her ears will fall off if she doesn’t. She goes into a full-body shake every two minutes because it feels  weird/hurts/itches, the force of which opens up hotspots on her paws, leaving blood trails around the house. When she starts shaking, whoever is on duty needs to basically tackle her to get her to stop, which means someone needs to be with her at all times.

We’re back to the fucking quarantine days again. I know I don’t speak for myself when I say I am so over this shit.

Date posted: January 15, 2020 | Filed under hazel | Leave a Comment »

Well, the site is back up again, after several conversations with my hosting provider. Somebody injected my site with some malware, putting a script in place that was sending my Archives link to a Canadian pill pharmacy site. It’s still there. I had the admins rebuild the site from a backup and run a scan for malware, and it looks like we didn’t catch it. I’ve got some more sleuthing to do. I also think I’m going to finally move hosting providers to the company that hosts my namesake site; I like them a little better and their pricing is more competitive.

* * *

About two weeks ago, Hazel came back from the puppy daycare with a chunk taken our of her ear missing. The daycare was horrified and notified Jen right away but we were pretty relaxed about it; she’s a dog who tries to punch above her weight. We know she’s going to het her butt kicked now and then—and that’s good for her.

But the nick in her ear wouldn’t heal, and we noticed that she was leaving drops of blood all over the house as she shook herself off (she shakes herself at least 20 times a day). Alarmed, Jen took her to the vet, where she was diagnosed with “ear crumble“, a condition where an allergic reaction to a vaccine causes the capillaries in her ears to go necrotic and die off, which, untreated, can lead to loss of both of her ears. She came home from the vet wrapped up in gauze like a Civil War casualty, and then immediately proceeded to shake most of it off. Jen took her back where they sedated her and re-wrapped it and then put her in the Cone of Shame; she returned home stoned to Venus and staring off into space.

Jen ordered a product called a No Flap Ear Wrap to replace the cone and gauze. The first one she ordered was the size recommended for her measurements, but was too large. The next size down was still a bit large. Jen got back online a third time for the next size down, and the manufacturer immediately responded to refund her money and ship us a new one specific to Hazel’s size, requesting we donate the current one to the vet’s office. It’s not often to get customer service that good or that prompt; I was extremely impressed with them.

She’s about as happy with the wrap as she was with the cone; she tries to shake it off about every five minutes.

* * *

Sunday Hazel got us up and out the door at 7:15 and Jen and I took her on a long walk all the way down to the café near the junction, where I got us a coffee for the return trip. After Finley woke, we jumped in the car and drove to the top of the trolley trail, then walked all the way down into Ellicott City for breakfast. Everyone else in Catonsville had the same idea, because the trail was busy. But it was lovely to sit outside and have breakfast with my three girls, and Hazel was about as patient as she could be under the circumstances. We then walked back to the car and headed home, where Hazel passed out in the hallway and we all split off to our own pursuits.


I took advantage of the warm weather and a fresh bloody mary to break down the door on the Accord and swap out the door lock mechanism. After working on the junkyard Accord it was quick work to get the door card off to expose the mechanism. The bolts came off easier with a larger screwdriver—we stripped two of the four bolts in the junkyard—but I still had to drill one of the bolts out.

Once that was done it was a simple matter of pulling the faulty mechanism, replacing it with the new one and testing it before buttoning up the door. Confirming it worked, I put the card back on and put my tools away. Then I stood to the side, used the keyfob to unlock the doors, and enjoyed the fact that the rear door unlocked as it should have the day we bought it.

Date posted: January 12, 2020 | Filed under family, hazel, honda, housekeeping | Leave a Comment »

Hazel at the Home Depot

Date posted: January 6, 2020 | Filed under hazel | Leave a Comment »


Date posted: January 2, 2020 | Filed under hazel | Leave a Comment »


Date posted: December 20, 2019 | Filed under hazel | Leave a Comment »

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.

Date posted: December 16, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, family, finn, hazel, photo | Leave a Comment »


Hazel, much like our daughter, is a creature of habit. She (Hazel) understands how things are supposed to go after two days or so, and happily follows a schedule when it’s made clear to her (Finley takes a while longer). She’s been sleeping on the bed next to me for the past couple of weeks because her separation anxiety hasn’t decreased yet—she’s only been on Prozac for 14 days, so we won’t see any real change until Christmas or so—and hosing out the crate first thing every morning is a drag. She’s gotten to the point now where she sleeps in each morning, so after I’ve risen and woken Finn up, she staggers off the bed and sleepily follows me around the house. I put her on the lead out back and she does her morning business, and then comes right back inside. It’s cold enough that she doesn’t want to hang out in the backyard by herself—and I don’t blame her. If I had to whip my jimmy out on the lawn to pee in 20˚ weather I’d want to go back inside immediately and take a hot shower.

Jen has been cranking on two projects so Hazel has been at puppy daycare twice this week, which is a godsend for all of us. It’s a huge warehouse/outdoor area by the airport where she can go and play with 40+ other dogs from 8AM to 6PM. We pick her up after I get off the train and she’s a happy wiggle when she sees us; after she gets home and has some water and a snack, she passes out on her heated bed like a wino on a bender. The one drawback has been that she comes home smelling like the pee of a thousand dogs; it’s like she swims through a river of it to get back home to us. Tuesday night it was raining and when she got in the car she smelled like a train station bathroom. We hauled her upstairs and threw her directly in the bathtub for a shower, which she tolerated but did not enjoy.


After we have dinner and do homework and get Finn to sleep and the house quiets down, I sit with her in the den or living room and she crashes out in her settle bed and snores. When it’s time to wrap up the evening, she watches me start dousing the lights and checking the locks, and she trots over to the front door where I hook her up for her nighttime pee. We come right back inside and she waits by the stairs for me to lift her over the gate, and then she trots up into the bedroom and immediately curls up next to my pillow. This is our routine; it’s comforting to follow.

Deviation from a daily routine sends her into puppy panic. Last night, instead of putting her on a lead by the front door for her evening pee, I walked to the back door and waited for her; she stood in the doorway of the kitchen, blinking at me as if to say, “Hey, asshole, we go out the FRONT door for this.” I coaxed her over and put her on the lead, and she stood on the back porch shivering, trying to figure out what the fuck was going on. I thought I’d be able to stay inside but had to go out in socks and convince her to come down to the lawn and pee, and then she decided she had to start barking at something in the shadows and I had to chase her back up the stairs. Clearly I did not respect the system.

As I’ve mentioned before, sleeping next to her is like sleeping with toddler Finley: she’s as hot as a toaster and she likes to lay directly on my body; more often than not I’ll wake up with my arm under her butt or most of her on one leg and I’ve got to push her off to get the circulation flowing again. She grunts and snores and sometimes she’ll get up and circle around to find a new nest and then BOOM she’s laying all 33 pounds right back on my hip again. And then immediately continues snoring. At least the puppy farts are mostly behind us (see what I did there); the room stank like a hobo’s butt for a while.

Separation anxiety, as mentioned above, is still a real problem. Any time past two hours in the crate and she starts peeing on herself. We’ve taken to buying Nature’s Miracle in 55 gallon drums. We have to schedule our trips in short bursts, and anytime we’re away from the house I hear the urine clock ticking like the countdown in a disaster movie. Sometimes we get lucky, and she’s just happy to see us, and other times she’s soaking wet and happy to see us (and not all that interested in going outside, strangely).

All that having been said, we’re all happy to have her, for the most part, and she brings joy to our house every day. Like any child, pet, spouse, or family member, she’s her own person and has her own particular idiosyncrasies, and it’s taking time to learn who she is and what her quirks are. If we could just get her to calm the fuck down and not spray the inside of her crate with panic urine while we all go to the library, life would be great.

Date posted: December 12, 2019 | Filed under general, hazel, photo | Leave a Comment »


Hazel is home from the vet minus stitches and life preserver. Apparently she’s got a clean bill of health to run and play as much as she wants, but she’s not allowed to roughhouse with dogs for a week. This is good and bad; she’s been cooped up so long without any other canine activity that she’s absolutely spastic during the day and pulls like a sled dog when it’s time to take a walk. However, she hasn’t visited any of her usual haunts for several weeks, so the hound part of her brain shuts down all other inputs besides her nose. A SQUIRREL HAS PEED HERE. I MUST INVESTIGATE. This makes each walk feel like a rush hour cab drive through midtown Manhattan: moments of frantic, barely contained activity, followed by a jarring stop and a long, boring wait staring at my phone. Last night I took her out after I got home and we spent a moonlit half hour crashing into each other as she followed meandering squirrel trails in the woods, doubling back on herself and tangling the leash between my legs.

Her strangest new behavior is the rotating poop: She’ll sniff around for a while and her posture will change ever so slightly, from I’m-following-this-squirrel to I’M-GOING-TO-DROP-A-DEUCE, and then she’ll quickly assume the position and then start vibrating. Her legs start moving and she tippy-toes around in one direction until she’s made a 360˚ Circle of Feces, only barely avoiding stepping in her own production. I don’t know if she’s having a seizure or attempting to summon a Shoggoth on the lawn of the church. At least she’s doing it on someone else’s property; it’s hard to sell a house with a portal to hell in the backyard.

Last night, I dragged the second crate up into the spare room and set it up next to the futon. She was demoted from the bed to the crate so that I could actually rest, and apart from some initial whining and a brief episode at about 2:30AM, she was quiet in there. I will be happy to have her back on a regular schedule, because last night was the first good night’s sleep I’ve had since the middle of October. I think moving the heating pad in there did not hurt; at this point her sleeping arrangements are more luxurious than ours are.

A side effect of weaning off the sedatives has been that she found her bark hiding under the couch somewhere; what started as a BUFF  and a low growl has now graduated to a full BORR-RORR-RORR-RORR whenever a door closes, a car passes or a dog barks a half a mile away. Her anxiety is at an all-time high, which means she’s tuned to the danger frequency even when she’s snoring. More than once over the past week I was woken to a BUFF and a growl next to my head in the darkness; I would wait until she let out another BUFF and then put a hand on her flank or her head and quietly tell her to go back to sleep. Falling leaves will set her off. Jen and I joke that the house is surrounded by Chupacabra and Hazel the only one who can see them. I don’t know what she’s going to do when it snows; I don’t think there are enough drugs to calm her when Chupacabra start falling from the sky.


Date posted: November 21, 2019 | Filed under hazel | Leave a Comment »

Not much to report on about the weekend. I can bullet some of them out.

  • We found a new place for weekend breakfast, neither closer or cheaper, but definitely tastier, in Ellicott City. Three sandwiches and three fancy warm drinks totaled out to a little under $30, but damn, a sausage cheese and egg sandwich between two waffles was the fucking bomb.
  • Finn and I drove the Scout down there, after two weeks of slumber in the garage, and she ran great. But it was cold. It’s definitely time to get the hardtop back on her.
  • My back could not take any more days on the couch, so Hazel and I moved upstairs to the futon on Friday night. She was relaxed enough to go right to sleep, but any stirring of leaves or wind through branches outside had her awake, hackles up, staring out the window. Several times she started barking, and I had to talk her back to sleep. Saturday night I closed the blinds and she didn’t hear anything or move for the whole night.
  • Sleeping with Hazel is like sleeping with Finley at age 4: she’s all elbows and knees, and she puts off more heat than a wood-burning stove.
  • Jen took a well-deserved mental health afternoon on Saturday, and Finn was invited to a friend’s house for a sleepover that evening. Jen and I were so beat that evening, we got a pizza, poured some drinks and watched a movie. It’s the first time we’ve done that in about five years.
  • I got a little woodworking done in the bathroom on Sunday, but my time was limited. Progress was limited mostly to a coat of paint on the dining room windowframe, some woodwork painted in the bathroom, and a new stool cut for the front windows up there.
  • I drive to Parkville at 6:30 to buy a vintage Sears bandsaw from a strange dude off of Craigslist. He lived in a little house with his Mom which was CRAMMED with stuff in neat piles all the way through the house. He took me to the basement and I had visions of ending up as a flesh raincoat, but the saw was good and the deal was done. The wall next to the linen closet is not straight, and there’s a piece of wood that sets in between the closet and the wall. Once I’ve scribed the wall’s curves onto the wood, I can use the bandsaw to cut that much cleaner than if I did it with a jigsaw.
Date posted: November 17, 2019 | Filed under hazel, house, list | Leave a Comment »


Hazel is home from the vet, minus her girl parts and groggy from opioids.

Jen and I stopped in to the PetSmart before picking her up to get an alternative to the Cone of Shame: an inflatable collar. Instead of banging around the house looking like an old-time record player, she looks like she’s on the redeye to Cleveland. She has to wear this contraption for the next couple of days to keep from pulling her stitches, and she goes back in a week or so to have them pulled out.

The overnight was pretty rough. She’s not comfortable at all, so she passes out for two hours and then gets up and wanders around, trying to find a way to be still. At one point she started climbing onto the couch, so I scooped her up alongside me, and we slept like that for an hour, uncomfortably, until she stirred and I helped her back down.

The word on her pelvis is good: she’s got a clean bill of health after the x-ray so once she’s healed up some from the surgery she can walk up and down stairs under her own power again, but we’re carrying her outside for the next couple of days.

Date posted: November 14, 2019 | Filed under hazel, photo | Leave a Comment »