Posts Tagged ‘Hudson’

Silly Dog

I thought you guys would appreciate this one.

We’ve had a bit of a mouse problem here for the last several months.  Our house is pretty much spotless on food (everything is now in plastic tubs because the damn critters get into everything).  We’ve plugged mouseholes as we find them, we’ve set traps and killed a number of the little beasts, but still they come back.  We suspect one or both of our neighbors is less…rigorous…in their clean-up attempts.

Anyhow, the mouse problem is background.  It has turned up a funny tendency of Hudson’s – once he hears or sees something somewhere, he continues to expect it to be there, whether he has reason to or not.

Three hours ago, there was a mouse under the far end of the loveseat.  I heard it, and Hudson at least heard it – he may have also seen it.  He has periodically stared at or sniffed that end of the loveseat, and continues to do so, even though there has been no further evidence of mouse.  He’s just convinced that it must somehow still be there.  He does this ALL the time, and he’ll end up staring at places where nothing has happened for hours, as if he’s willing the mouse to return.

For a smart dog, he’s a real dummy sometimes!


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Hudson must be having a good dream – he seems to be chewing on something in his sleep. I keep hearing click-click-click of his teeth tapping together.  Dogs are so funny!

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Oh god, Hudson was making me laugh so hard I was having a bit of trouble breathing.  He just did the goofiest thing I have ever seen him do, and he’s routinely a bit goofy.

You have to understand, first off, that bugs are a relatively recent discovery for Hudson.  I suppose he first started paying attention to them a little before Christmas, because I remember it still being a new thing when we visited my family.  In the past couple weeks, he’s finally figured out flying things – before then, he would emphatically sniff where they had been and not be able to figure out what happened to them.

So I’m sitting here at my computer, and I see Hudson sniffing his belly…and then he got his back leg up and ducked his head under it and was sniffing at the ground.  I’m not sure what happened next, but I THINK he tried to jump after a fly…darting farther under his back leg.  What ended up happening was that his back foot swung down and he kicked himself on the back of the head.  He then very abruptly untangled himself and gave this snort…and started looking for the fly again.

OMG.  It was the most ridiculous looking thing you can imagine.  I was laughing so loudly that my fiance, who was in the next room, poked his head out to see what had me cracking up so badly and I couldn’t finish a phrase to tell him.

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We talk a lot about how service dogs are different from pets, but one of the things I don’t see addressed often is how much more care goes into our service dogs than most people put into their pets.

To give you an example, I know what texture Hudson’s poop is and I pay attention to whether he is straining or uncomfortable while he’s doing his business.  It’s important because it tells me a lot about his mental health – when he’s anxious or stressed, he’s very prone to diarrhea.  It also tells me how his gastrointestinal system is doing with his current food, which has been an issue for us.

Hudson’s food costs over $1.50/lb.  We make his treats ourselves from ground beef (and we are thinking about branching into other things like sweet potato chips).

Hudson gets brushed almost daily.  Even among people with longhaired dogs, I know few people who brush out their pets daily.  He also gets tick-checked almost daily.  I’ll admit that there are occasions where I just don’t have the wherewithal to do it, but even on bad days, I check his head and his paws, as those are the most likely places to find ticks.  Tick checking means I go over his entire body with the pads of my fingers, feeling for lumps, bumps, and anything out of place as well as for little bloodsucking monsters.

His teeth get brushed daily.  I’ll admit this is one I fall down on when my fiance isn’t around, because Hudson wants to get the toothpaste so badly that brushing his teeth without someone holding his head still is about as difficult as feeding an uncooperative baby (except that he struggles against me with 65 pounds of strength!) – things go everywhere but where they’re supposed to, I get frustrated, and his teeth don’t get done well.

His nails get cut weekly.  Most people let their pets’ nails get long enough to tick on tile or cement, but this is actually too long.  It makes dogs shift the way they carry their weight and will wear out their hip joints faster.

Hudson’s ears get cleaned weekly.  I know there are a variety of thoughts on how often ears should be cleaned, but that’s what our school taught and he gets frequent enough ear infections that it seems like a good idea with him.

He gets his paws and ahem personal areas trimmed twice a month.  As a longhaired dog, Hudson is prone to getting mats between his toes, around his groin, and around his anus, so I have to get in between his pads and around areas he’d rather I left alone and trim away fur.  He gets trims to his beard and moustache about every 6 weeks because otherwise he makes an enormous mess when he drinks.

Hudson sees the vet much more often than your average pet does.  My dog sees his doc any time he seems to be significantly under the weather, and he has gotten the canine flu vaccine because I can’t afford for him to be sick.  He takes medication to take care of his allergies and gets his monthly flea, tick, and heartworm meds.

Hudson also gets washed every 4 weeks plus any time he goes in the ocean.  He has to be clean and not smell too strongly of dog for public work, not to mention it’s probably good for him.  He also periodically gets a steroid conditioner as he has itchy skin when his allergies flare.

Hudson doesn’t care for a lot of the things that are done on his behalf.  He’s quite sure that his paws and nails are fine without any interference, thankyouverymuch.  He believes that his groin and his hind end don’t need to be touched.  The bath is entirely unnecessary.  Toothbrushing is a waste of time and I really should just give him the toothpaste to lick up.  Ear-cleaning is enough to get him fighting with most of his strength to get away from me pouring cleaner in and scrubbing his ear.  Tick-checking is annoying, and I really should just pet him instead.  Giving him pills is an annoying habit of mine that I really ought to stop (and trying to get him to take them via something like Pill Pockets is just silly).  Bathing is cruel and unpleasant, especially when it involves washing his head and his beard.  Brushing is unkind and I should stick to scratching and petting instead.

In short, Hudson isn’t fond of most of the care he recieves that keep him in tip-top shape.  He makes a lot of his care mildly difficult – in general he is very polite about the fact that he doesn’t like it, but it’s clear he’d rather we didn’t do it.  The most pitiful is probably the hangdog body language while he’s being bathed, while the strongest attempt to escape what he needs done is when his ears get cleaned.  For the most part, he makes it clear that he’s tolerating what we do.  He hates being clipped and has to be held in position by someone else while I clip him – usually my fiance, as no one else is willing to hold onto the dog quite firmly enough.

For a little bit of amusement, let me tell you what happens when we’re done doing pretty much any of Hudson’s necessary care.  Once we’re finished, I announce ‘All done!’  Hudson starts running around and frolicking, followed by a spate of doggy breakdancing.  His favorite move we call ‘the moustache’, where he uses both of his front paws to smooth over his snout like a man grooming his moustache, except that Hudson tends to make an even bigger mess of it.

So there’s my bit of difference: the difference in healthcare and grooming that a service dog recieves from his partner.  I had a lot of other topics I wanted to write about, including the difference in how people respond to you, but I decided that I didn’t want to write yet another post about how normal folks treat us in uncomfortable ways.

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So, I had a procedure today to determine what’s going on with my GI.  The news is good; with some minor adjustments in diet and the addition of a medication that binds liquid, it should be totally managable.  I’ve been on that medication before with no side effects, so this is about 99% positive.  (The only real downside is that I’m going to have to pay a lot more attention to the way my GI reacts to things, and may have to be more careful about substances like caffeine)

But to get to the good news, I had to make it through the procedure.  They gave me a combination of an opiate (to minimize ‘discomfort’ and sedate somewhat) and versed (to borrow my doctor’s words, “to make you forget”).  I remember things clearly up until the second dose of versed…and then I woke up in the recovery area.  I’ve heard of people having all kinds of bad experiences on versed, but this is the second time I was dosed with it, and all things being equal, it wasn’t all that nasty for me.  (Though I did have a reaction to something the first time that had me throwing up for a couple of days, I think that may have been my oh-so-delicate system’s response to the physical stuff they were doing, not the drug.)  I apparently take rather a lot to be knocked out – two to four times the standard initial dose.

There was some minor stress and confusion today.  I didn’t think about the fact that I was going to be knocked out and someone else was needed to mind poor Hudson.  The fiance had headed out for a walk and I couldn’t get him on his cellphone.  For a while it looked like one of the nurses was going to hang on to Hudson in the room with me, which would have worked out okay.  I was really impressed that no one seemed upset or annoyed or difficult about Hudson, even though I’d managed to make quite an unexpected imposition.  Granted, this hospital has always been totally awesome about the service dog.*  Their only concern was making sure that everything was handled in a way that kept the pooch comfortable, and the nurses were willing to totally go out of their way to take care of us – they were great when I explained minimizing interaction with him for the benefit of our partnership, which I’ve found a lot of dog-friendly places have issue with, but not here.  In the end, though, my doctor was running so late that the particular nurse who had volunteered to hang on to Hudson was going to be off shift.  They discovered that my fiance was in the waiting room, though, so he was able to take Hudson. 

Poor fiance was worried that it might be like that instance last summer when the ER barred Hudson, but it was really just a case of trying to keep the stress on the dog the lowest.  At least if he was with the fiance, he was being left with someone familiar to him, and his second favorite person in the world.  Apparently Hudson periodically whined while I was away – poor pooch.  That seems to be his typical response, though.  He doesn’t like being away from me.  I think sometimes he worries about what might happen while he’s not there to watch over me.  The fiance occasionally petted him when he whined, and apparently Hudson took that as a sign that they were going to me, because he stood up looking at the door he’d gone through when the fiance took him back to the waiting room.

Anyhow, so everything went well.  We grabbed an early dinner and had a brief stop in a store I enjoy to get a treat for later.  We got home and…well, they warn you that you aren’t to drive or make major life or business decisions, and I can quite tell why.  I’ve felt kind of…floaty…ever since, and I think I got dosed with the medications about 5 1/2 hours ago.  My head is fuzzy, and it takes longer for things to make sense than usual.  And oh, the bed felt so good to lie down in.  I spent a few hours curled up in bed reading mostly because bed felt so GOOD.  Just comforting and the right temperature and soft and…nice.  (I’m spoiled and have very nice sheets and a thick memory foam topper, oh yes I do.  I love them very, very, very much.)

I’m definitely not entirely back to myself.  I’m…here, but I’m drugged.  Not in an entirely unpleasant way, but everything feels just a little bit surreal.

…I probably should have put off writing the IT guy about my request for a listserv for a project until tomorrow, but at least I had the fiance read it first.  Oh well.  Worst he can say is no, I guess, and then a friend of mine has said he’ll find someone to host it if the school won’t.

*Almost all of my doctors are at this hospital, and the worst thing anyone has ever said about him is either that he startled them or that he’s in the way and needs to move to a different spot in the room.  They are always friendly and positive about his presence, and never once has anyone suggested that I shouldn’t have him with me.  Today was no exception – everyone loved him and wanted to help and even listened when I explained the ‘can not pet or interact’ rules, much as they wanted to love on him.  The way the hospital staff have responded to Hudson is part of why I ❤ that hospital and have everything there, even though it’s halfway across town.  I go where I am welcomed, you know?  It also helps that they consistently treat me as a person, not just a medical question or a disability.  The way this hospital acts?  This is real access, this is real accomodation.  This is me being a person with dignity and rights and intelligence and value and individuality in their eyes.

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I’m training Hudson to do my dirty work.

When the boyfriend teases me, I used to poke him or tickle him.  I’ve had increasing problems with my hands for longer than we’ve known each other, though, so there are often times when I can’t do that.  Particularly recently, with the maybe-it’s-auto-immune thing I’ve been dealing with.

So my solution is to find something Hudson can do.  I’ve invented the command ‘toes’, at which Hudson is supposed to nose or lick the boyfriend’s toes.

The boyfriend is amusingly tolerant of the whole affair.

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Every spring, my service dog organization does a ‘dogs day off’ fundraiser.  Unfortunately, I’m really not up for it right now – I’m in too much pain, and too sick.  So I was thinking about it, and I had an idea for a fundraiser of my own, but I wasn’t sure if there would be much interest.

So here’s what I’m offering: for a $5 donation, you would get a picture of Hudson that no one but me has ever seen.  It could be him working, performing a service task, just chilling, at dog park,  at the lake or the beach.  For a $10 donation, you can specify what kind of picture you like – even a pose you want (or at least, I’ll TRY for requested poses).  No one else would get the picture you get.  It’d be a special thing just for you.

Would anyone be interested in that?  If I could sell 200 of the ‘basic’ pictures or 100 of the requested pictures, or some mix of the two that totaled $1,000, we could sponsor a puppy and name it!  If we get that far, the boyfriend and I have a list of names and everyone who donated, even if they didn’t donate enough to get a picture, would get to vote on the names.  The names, for reference, range from tremendously silly to respectable, most of them nicknames I used at one point or another for my dear Hudson.

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This is my post for the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival.  I’ll link to the Carnival post once it’s up!

The theme for this Carnival is ‘Reactions’.

One of the things they warn you about when you go to get a service dog is that you’re about to become a lot more visible, and they’re right.  They’re so right that even when you expect that, it’s a little overwhelming.  You can’t so much as go pick up your medications at the pharmacy without someone making a comment.  Maybe they’ll ask to pet him.  If you have a dog like mine, who isn’t definitely of a recognized breed, they’ll ask you what breed he is, and often make suggestions as to what they think he is (some of which will be truely absurd).  They’ll comment on how well behaved he is, and some of them will talk about wishing their dogs were as good.  They’ll tell you you have a handsome dog.  They’ll comment on your gear.  They’ll point you and your dog out to their children.  The vast majority of them will say your dog is a guide dog, because the use of other types of assistance dogs isn’t as well known.

It’s kind of exhausting, and every now and again, I find myself wanting to say one simple thing to them: he’s not here for you.  I don’t get to, though, because as a service dog partner, I am treated as an ambassador for all assistance dog pairs out there.  I have to make nice, because a bad interaction with a service dog or their partner might make someone stop letting assistance dogs into their businesses, which amounts to not letting people with disabilities into their businesses.*

So here’s what I want to say, when it’s been a long day and I’m just trying to finish up and get home.  Please be warned that the rest of this post is extremely sarcastic and a bit angry.

Yes, I know every dog lover is happy to see my dog out in public.

Yes, it’s very nice that you’re not petting him, good for you on reading part of the signs on his gear.  I wish you got the ‘do not distract’ part, though, because your bending down and babytalking at him is getting his attention and I’m going to have to give my dog a verbal correction for something that isn’t entirely his fault so that he doesn’t learn that he can pay attention to other people like that.

Yes, I’m sure your dog looked just like him, except small and white and not so fluffy.  How very similar.

Yes, you know what?  My 65 pound dog is part ‘scotty dog’.  How ever did you guess?

Oh, by all means, please distract my dog from what he is doing and damage his training by petting him.  That is ever so good for us.  I will remember you the next time he dashes down the stairs and knocks me over so someone can pet him.

Please, give my dog human food!  It’s not like doggy digestion is a bit on the delicate side and human food isn’t designed for them.  I’m sure I won’t be dealing with diarrhea for the next two days.

Why hello stranger, it is ever so kind of you to take pictures of us without asking me if it’s okay!  I love being an object of curiousity for you!

How wonderful it is that you let your children run over and pet strange dogs without asking the owner first!

Please, ask me if you can ride my dog.  Yes, that harness on his back there is for your entertainment, and I haven’t heard that one before.

Do you really need to know what breed he is?  How clever of you to guess.

I’m so glad you approve of his haircut.  I’m not sure if you’re asking if I groom him myself because you are impressed by what the widdle crippled girl can do or because you want to show off your own dog grooming knowledge.  Maybe you’re looking for the name of a good dog groomer.

Why yes, he does wear boots when it’s snowy out.  Gee, no one has ever told me how cute they are before.

Please, don’t feel like you have to ask if I mind talking, even though I’m near collapsing and exhausted and flushed in the face.  I’m sure you could tell that I came here specially to chit-chat with you while I wait for the trolley to come.

What this all adds up to is one little thing: I’m tired of getting singled out by people who are looking for any excuse to talk to the girl with the dog.  Yes, I’m sure that I’m a curiousity, and you rarely see other assistance dogs, and you’re curious.  But please, take your curiousity online the next time.  Even if you go to another service dog user’s blog, they have the luxury of answering you when they have energy and patience to do so.

I don’t want to be stared at, any more than I did when I used crutches.  I’m a normal person going around doing normal person things, and while I love the furry little pants off Hudson, I don’t want my every public interaction to be about him or about the disability that causes me to need him.  I just want you to treat me like anyone else.  Do you know how long it’s been since anyone commented on anything other than my dog and my braces?

* This sentence originally said “…someone stop letting dogs into their businesses.”  Sharon pointed out that it’s not about the dogs, it’s about the people with them.  You see, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it isn’t the dogs who have rights, it’s the people-with-dogs who have rights.  It’s a pretty important difference, which is why I thought it was worth correcting.

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…Or An Average Day In The Life Of A Service Dog

Being January, we’ve been getting snow.  Now, yours truely does not get around well in snow.  I’m far more prone to slipping and falling than your average person.  It comes with certain kinds of disability, including mine.

That means on snowy or icy days, I rely a lot more on Hudson.  I end up catching myself against his harness when I start to slip, or when I miss my footing.

Yesterday in particular, Hudson saved me from a very nasty fall.  We have a spot of sidewalk that is broken up in a particularly nasty fashion.  It appears that there was a tree there that grew too large and pushed up the sidewalk.  At any rate, it means there’s a steep-sided little ‘hill’, with broken cement edges at the top that do a fantastic job of catching my feet.  I had walked up it just fine, but as I was walking down, my feet just slid.

I ended up putting enough weight on Hudson’s harness to drive his butt to the ground and force his front legs wide.  His belly was nearly in the snow.

And yet, he didn’t bolt out from under the pressure.  I managed to keep myself from hitting the ground because of his support.  Yeah, I tweaked my back a little, but I did a lot less damage to myself than if I had hit the ground.

I stopped out there, in the cold and snow and ice, and praised him and petted him for a good minute.

Thank you, boy.  It’s times like these that point out just how well you do your job.

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So, yesterday everyone’s favorite goddess of entropy turned 27.  (Hey, I go by Kali, remember?)

It’s funny, 27 feels a lot older than 26 did.  I’m not entirely sure why.  Maybe it’s partly because I’ve been working as a clinical legal intern for the past several months, which is very much like the sort of work a new lawyer does in a big organization.  Maybe it’s because a decade ago I celebrated the first birthday after I moved out of my parents’ house for college.  Maybe it’s because I’m now three times the age where I first have a long series of clear memories (I don’t remember much from when I was a little kid – a couple of quick little flashes, but not a whole lot).

At any rate, my birthday weekend certainly could have gone better.  I dislocated my left shoulder fully several weeks ago, and I’ve been having more severe trouble with my back ever since.  Over the weekend, it got so bad that it caused a really horrific migraine on Thursday, bad enough that I threw up and maxed out my doses of all of my meds.  I spent all day Friday in bed, and was so badly off that I didn’t even put Hudson’s bowl down on the floor for him, I had to have the boyfriend do it.  I spent the first two-thirds of Saturday in bed, but eventually made it up for a few hours at the end of the day.  Oh, and the only reason I made it up was a combination of two long hot baths (one Fri one Sat) and slow, gentle stretching while in bed.  It was certainly a lousy couple of days.  There may or may not have been a minor brush with something flu-like involved; my vote is that I was sick.  I was more-or-less back to the pre-Thanksgiving state by Sunday, my actual birthday.  Today, I got to see my PT with the magic hands, Vince.  I’m sore and achey from being worked on, but I know tomorrow I will feel better than today.  Usually it’s more immediate, but hey, I can deal.

And for my birthday, Hudson gave himself ear infections *rolls her eyes* so the other trip out today was to the vet.

Having said that, it wasn’t a bad birthday, really.  The boyfriend and I sat and watched back-episodes of Supernatural (we’re partway through season 4, no spoilers!) and generally had a pretty relaxed day.  My sister gave me something thoughtful but not presently very useful (cooking gadgetry, when I rarely cook anymore).  My parents gave me some $200 worth of limited edition perfumes that I’d been positively lusting after and crushed at the thought that I wasn’t going to get them.  The boyfriend gave me a gift certificate to Old Navy, where I get most of my work clothes and a good deal of my non-work clothes, as they magically have clothing that FITS! this short, curvy, busty girl.  I’ve already transformed a bit less than half of it into a sweater that I’d been wanting for weeks but couldn’t justify the price of (on a nice Thanksgiving sale, no less).

This coming week is a bit exciting, a bit scary, and a bit sad.  Exciting and scary both come in over the fact that I’m getting my new leg braces.  I’m excited because I’ve been stuck not-walking for the past 5 months and I’m sick of it.  I’m a bit scared because these braces are going to go from my feet to the middle of my thighs, which is quite a big piece of machinery.  These braces are being designed to deal with the problems of the former braces – heat, cuts from the edge of the braces, difficulty in getting into them, and discomfort wearing them.  They’re 100% custom and will have padding and rolled edges to make them easier on my body.  I also decided, what the hell, if people are going to stare at my braces, I may as well give them a reason to – so the new braces are going to be swirly blue instead of the basic black of the old ones.  Also scary is talking to my doctors (my GP and my pain specialist) about starting to investigate what we think may be CRPS or RSD in my feet and lower legs.  Yet another piece of scary is my schedule for next year – registration is due on the 2nd, and I’m still trying to figure out if I can take the clinical I want and if I can find someone to supervise some ‘guided research’.  Sad is finishing up my internship at the LGBT center.  I’ll be keeping on a couple of my clients, because they’re cases I really feel involved in, but the rest I’ll be writing transfer memos for to inform the next intern what’s going on.

The academic stuff is particularly stressful.  The clinical issue is…well, it’s upsetting.  The professor for that clinic is making noises about not being able to accomodate me, and I don’t know how well I’ll be able to fight that.  See, he’s saying that if I can’t make the hours he’s dictating, he’s worried that I ‘won’t get the full experience of the clinical’.  And if that’s true, they can say that they are unable to accomodate me and it’s legal.  I thought we had come to an agreement weeks ago, and I spoke to the clinical director saying as much, only to have him ripost that we hadn’t had an agreement and there are lots of problems still to deal with.  I need to get an accomodation letter from my GP, but it’s been hard to get in to see him.  I’m finally seeing him tomorrow.  And the guided research…whoo.  One of my co-authors on the article is making noises that we really need to get to work on this article, but there’s no way I’ll have time unless I am getting academic credit for the research and writing, which means I need to find someone to supervise my research and so far, I can’t hook anyone.  Time is coming down to the wire, and my anxiety is ratcheting up.

Early December is my least favorite time of year.  It’s getting miserable and cold (which makes me ache so much), school stress is at fever-pitch, holiday stress is starting up, and I have a tendancy of injuring myself or getting sick right about this time of year almost every year.  Going to visit people for the holidays tends to stress me out – my extended family and my sister stress me out, and I always feel like the boyfriend’s parents don’t quite approve of my needs to rest, sleep, avoid the cold, and avoid their rather abrupt driving.  Not to mention they’re Christian and the boyfriend and I are living together but aren’t planning to get hitched for several years yet.

This time of year makes me long for early fall, when the heat of summer has faded and the nights have just a hint of crispness to them.  When the sun still glows warm in the afternoon but doesn’t melt me.  When the last corn of the season is still in the farmer’s markets and the first apples are starting to appear.  Oh how I love early fall.  Winter feels all the more disappointing because of the length of stunningly georgous weather we had this fall.  We’ve only just pulled air conditioners out of windows this past week because it wasn’t cold enough for them to be a problem.  But now…now the cold seeps through the windows so badly that we’ll need to get the plastic window cover kits to create insulation so that the livingroom isn’t half-frozen by the big front windows.  As for the kitchen, well, there’s no helping it because the door isn’t hung straight so it’s got gaps everywhere and besides that the kitchen was a late addition without much insulation.  The bathroom is just as bad as the kitchen – to take a hot bath right now, I have to run the bath far too hot 20 minutes before I want to get in so that it will warm up the evil cast iron bathtub.  I hate that bathtub.  It makes me long for the fiberglass constructions I’m used to that warm up in just a minute or two.

Ah well.  At least no snow has stuck yet.  Adieu to the unseasonably fair weather that took us through most of November, and Salut to the miserable cold come creeping in.

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