Thursday, October 31, 2013


Diana noticed that Zoe was unusually still, and called me to come home during lunch. Muttling was alert--turned her head to track sounds, that sort of thing--but she didn't get up, wasn't interested in food. Vet was closed so we got an appointment for 2:00, when they reopened. We were thinking "This may be It"--such a drastic change from yesterday's "At the beach" and "She seems so happy".
But the vet looked her over and said that she seemed stable. Good color--with a dog, you tell that by looking at the gums and roof of the mouth, using a flashlight so you're not fooled by the room lights, and if she's really bleeding, you'll see grey instead of pink--and no feel of fluid pooled in her belly, so the vet didn't think she was hemorrhaging. Cardiac and respiratory were okay. Vet said that possibly cancer had spread to somewhere else, like her kidneys, which was a depressing thought. I had thought it was just going to be her spleen and she'd basically be fine up until she had a serious bleed; but I've had kidney stones and know how much they hurt, and I don't want Zoe going through that. On the other hand, when I had kidney stones, I didn't want to move unless it was absolutely necessary; if Zoe is willing to get up and wander around, I'll guess that that's not the problem.
Anyway, the vet said to take her home and keep an eye on her. Zoe wasn't interested in food, which is very unlike her, but she did amble around the house and took a walk outside, and at 8pm she finally ate, and another walk at 11pm.
All we can do is wait, and watch.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


It was a warm sunny day so during my lunch, we took Zoe to the beach. She's not quite as frisky as usual, but pretty close; she trotted down to the water and plunked herself down, as usual, then sniffed around at everything, rolled in the sand, and met a couple of people who, as usual, loved her and petted her. She seems happy.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Long Walks

Today was mostly a Zoe day. Took the muttling out for a 90 minute walk around Mount Trashmore around noon, and took her for another 90 minute tour around Great Neck Park this afternoon. Petted her and fed her and gave her treats. Diana said "It's odd how, we're treating her so well now, and why haven't we been doing that all along?" I'd had that thought myself: when you know someone's dying, you start treating them the way you should always have been.

Other accomplishments for today:
Started Christmas e-shopping.
Threaded a needle, which with my hands is something of a feat.
Lit the gas fireplace, for the first time this season. In some ways the pilot light is a nuisance and I keep thinking "let's tear this out and convert it back to wood burning"--that would certainly put out more heat and be more satisfying. Yet the gas is what's here, and it's enough of a fire to encourage curling up with a book.


Friday, October 25, 2013

NaNoWriMo kickoff

We had the NaNoWriMo kickoff, a little early this year. Held at the church at Ward's Corner, with about twenty people attending. A lively crowd, with spirited bidding on some of the plot bunnies.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Since this summer, I have met Larry Correia, Dave Wolverton, and Howard Tayler, and talked with Toni Weisskopf and Mad Mike Williamson. And now, Sarah Hoyt has thrown a carp at me, due to a terrible pun. (I do think that escalated a bit quickly--it was a pun, but she was using a fishonable weapon).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Names of a dog

Zoe, Mutt, Muttling,  ZoPup, Woof, Fluffy Pupkins, Princess Pup, Fluffermutter, Zo Zo the Mongrolian, Jinglewoof (from the collar tags jingling), Thing Woof (from Thing One, Thing Two), AeroPup (sometimes when she lies on her side, she stretches out her legs as if flying), Little Sofa Cushion (when she's curled up on the couch, she looks like a black furry circular pillow), Z Dawg, Zup Pup, The Black Beast.

Her fur has been referred to as "Zoe wool", on the theory that she sheds enough that we could produce a sweater every two days.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Zoe the Escape Artist

Zoe has been an escape artist.

At our previous house, the living room had a glass door which opened onto a deck, which was adjacent to the stairs down to the parking lot. On occasion, we would leave the glass door open; and once in a while, Zoe would get onto a chair, then on to the balcony rail, then around the deck to the stairs, hop down and go exploring. Neighbors would knock on our door and say "Is that Zoe? She's down in the marsh." Usually with thick gooey mud coating her legs and fluffy feet. Zoe never ever pulled this "climb up and tightrope walk along the balcony" trick while we were watching--as far as we could tell, she just beamed herself to the marsh--so it took quite a while for us to figure out how she was doing it.

Then we moved to the new house, and the glass doors open onto the back deck. In 2009 we had the November Nor'Easter, which included the highest flood level I've ever seen since moving to Hampton Roads in 1986. As you might expect, this included quite a bit of wind and rain. Zoe gets antsy when it's windy, and wants to go out into the weather. Which she did. Despite the door being closed. She somehow managed to flip the latch to unlock the door, got the wooden door handle between her teeth,  and pulled it open. This did quite a bit of damage to the door handle, and the splinters tore up her mouth; there was a splattering of blood under the door handle. But she was determined to get out, and she did. When I replaced the door handle, I put bitter apple on it, which is supposed to guarantee that dogs will leave it alone. She had it open within an hour. Next time, I put Chinese fire oil on the handle. That didn't slow her down at all.  Fortunately she was going out onto the back deck, and there's no way to get out from there without jumping down eight feet or more, which she's too smart to do. So I gave up, and she opened the door whenever she wanted.

X ray

Our plan for this weekend had been to go to Colonial Williamsburg on Saturday; I was going to an Ironclads game on Sunday; D&D on Monday; board meeting Tuesday. How quickly one x ray can change things...

On Thursday night, around 1am, Zoe gave one sharp arf!, which is usually her way to say "I'm out on the deck, someone come open the door."  But she wasn't outside; she was downstairs (which is odd--she normally sleeps in the bedroom) in the living room, in her Princess Pose--laying down, head out, front paws stretched out in front of her. I figured she wanted a walk, so I took her out for ten minutes, she did what she needed to, we came back inside.
She arfed again at 2:30am. She doesn't usually ask in the middle of the night; on the other hand, she's been needing more frequent walks for the last couple of months. So I took her out again.
Again, at 6am. Diana took her out this time. Odd but not worrisome.

Friday evening we were both out of the house for a bit. When Diana came back, Zoe didn't get up to meet her at the door; she just stayed there, her head down on her paws, not moving. Diana rubbed her back and Zoe just stayed put; normally she'll flop over so you can rub her tummy. Odd...odd enough that we took her to the vet. Zoe perked up while we were in the waiting room but we figured, eh, "we're here, might as well do an x ray; if it's good, then we won't be worrying, and if it's bad, at least we'll know."

And so, sadly, we know.

Spleen is about three times normal size. There's an 80% chance it's cancer--given that she had growths in the last few weeks from mouth and eyelid, it's almost certain. As is, the vet says she might make it two or three weeks, but probably not to Thanksgiving.  They can do surgery and give her chemo, but even so, she'd probably only last three months, so what's the point of putting her through that?

We called Josh Friday night; he drove down from the farm this morning.

Zoe's not as energetic as usual but she doesn't seem to be in pain, she alert, and lovable as ever..

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tortas de Aceite

Diana saw tortas de aceite and decided we should try them. They turn out to be sort of flatbread with a bit of sugar, almond, sesame, and anise. I don't know if they're supposed to be bitter, but the ones we had were, quite.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

All's Well That Ends Well

"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none"
All's Well That Ends Well    Act I, scene 1.

Now Reading

  • Swords of Exodus, the sequel to Dead Six by Kupari and Correia. 
  • Skinwalker by Hillerman
  • Lord Geoffrey's Fancy by Duggan
  • Deadlands RPG rules

Lord Geoffrey's Fancy is set in Frankish Romanie, which was what we'd call Greece while it was under control of French-descended barons around AD1255.  The narrator is a landless knight recently come from England to serve under Geoffrey, so we get to learn through him about the campaigns and politics and interactions in this little known portion of history.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Door Hanging

Diana decided she wanted new door on the second bathroom, but the new one turned out to be 1/8" wider than the old one. So today I planed it, mortised the hinges, hung the door, installed the lock set, mortised the strike plate and installed that. Not as neat aj ob as I'd have liked, but passable and the everything works.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Doobie Brothers

My first concert in a loooooong time, we went to see the Doobie Brothers at the Sandler Center.

Quite a bit of white hair in the audience.

They started with "Jesus is Just Alright" and went on with a mix of classics and more recent songs, mostly high-energy although there was one acoustic with just two guitarists. It would be overstating things to say that people were dancing--the Sandler doesn't really give you enough room for that--but people were certainly up and clapping and singing along, particularly on "Old Black Water". It was a bit loud, and the instruments overpowered the vocals; on the other hand, they didn't have anyone with a voice like Michael McDonald, so the instruments were the main attraction. The keyboard player was quite good, another guy played guitar, electric harpsichord, harmonica, and violin (not all at the same time), and everyone seemed happy to be there. We had a good time.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Alvin York

Everyone has heard of Sergeant York, but it is good to be reminded.

On this day in 1918, the 328th Infantry engaged German forces near Chatel-Chehery, France. As York recalled:
The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks. Their machine guns were up there on the heights overlooking us and well hidden, and we couldn't tell for certain where the terrible heavy fire was coming from... And I'm telling you they were shooting straight. Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home...
Seventeen men, including York, were ordered to infiltrate and take out the machine guns. The patrol had captured a group of the enemy, when they came under fire from German guns; of the seventeen, six were killed and three wounded. York, the ranking NCO, left his men under cover, guarding the prisoners, while he advanced and engaged the guns. His Medal of Honor citation reads:
After his platoon suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machine gun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.

Monday, October 7, 2013


I've found a new D&D campaign, this one using 4th Edition rules. Tonight was my first session, and my first die roll was a natural 20--an auspicious way to start off the game! I'm looking forward to getting back into campaigning.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Government Shutdown

And the Federal Government has shut down, as of yesterday, with only "essential" personnel working. "Essential" personnel apparently includes "people to close National Parks and monuments which don't ordinarily have any NPS staff, don't ever close, and don't cost any money to keep open", such as the WW2 Memorial in DC. Because they're being spiteful and petty and, oh wait, the Government Is Our Friend. Trust the Government.