Skunk Smell



It happened suddenly, before I even realized a skunk had sprayed my daughter.  One moment I was helping my son with his bike, and the next my little girl is gagging and coughing and trying to scream.

The day had not started out well.  Both children had missed the bus, apparently because I failed to yell “Hurry Up” enough times.  It never fails to surprise me how slowly my children can do normal, every-day things, like put a shirt on or eat cereal or brush their teeth.  So, the bus came and went, and my children were not on it.  That meant that I had to search for my purse and keys while tugging on a bra and tennis shoes at the same time so I could drive them.  Driving them was the only way to get them to school safely and on time, although I would have loved to have just made them stay home, do homework and stay in bed all day long after the morning they gave me.

Nevertheless, I got them to the proper place at the proper time so they do the requisite learning activities and I could have the next several hours to prepare for my afternoon meeting.  That meetig did not go well, unfortunately, and I didn’t get the bid, despite all the hours of work I’d put into my presentation.

I barely got home in time for the kids to get off the bus, and we headed straight into whining homework time.  I powered through, helping them with their homework, cleaning the kitchen, folding laundry and getting dinner ready all at the same time.

I realized it was too quiet at the dinner table.  I’d spent all the time I had with my children that day yelling at them to hurry up or do something or focus on their work, and they were just as tired as I was.  It was time to do something fun.

We pulled out the bikes and rode around the neighborhood.  It was a lovely, early spring day, one of those rare warm ones, and the evening was turning out to be beautiful.  We laughed and raced and spent some wonderful quality time.

Then my son’s bike broke.  Then, my daughter chased down a skunk and the skunk sprayed her.  I had no idea what to do.  I wanted to grab her and hold her and console her, but we couldn’t stop coughing and gagging on that nasty skunk smell.  I somehow managed to calm her down, get us and the bikes back home, stripped her down in the garage and threw away the clothes, and got her in the tub while I searched for how to remove skunk smell.  After many hours, lot of my daughter’s tears and some tears on my part, we managed to get rid of the skunk smell, mostly.  Compared to today, tomorrow can only be better.

Snake In School


Cherie hated the boredom and pettiness of junior high, she hated life at home as her parents prepared for a divorce, she hated the boys who made fun of her (it was junior high, after all), and she hated her brother for just being her brother.  She loved to do one thing, and one thing only, and that was to practice cello in the quiet little music rehearsal rooms at school.

Those music rooms were solace.  They were silent, no one else could hear her or judge her.  And, instead of worrying about how she looked or what she was doing, she could just lose herself in the deep soothing tones of the cello.

She was good, too.  She’d started learning how to play the cello when she was five, and worked hard at it.  By the time she was in fifth grade, she was entering competitions and doing well.  Cherie knew that some of the kids at school mocked her for being an orchestra geek, and one who played a huge stringed instrument that she lugged back and forth between home and school.  But, she couldn’t bear to even consider giving it up to avoid negative attention.  It was too wonderful, and some day, school would be behind her, the mean kids would have either gotten nicer with age or lived out their lives in pettiness, and she would always have the cello.

So, she played, and closed her eyes and enjoyed making such wonderful sounds.  As she finished the last piece of music, she opened her eyes.  In the middle of the music room, in front of her chair, a small snake lay stretched out.  There was a snake in the music room.

What was worse was the boy who was next in line to use the music room was peering in teh tiny rectangular hole, with his eyes as wide as they could go.  Cherie could tell he was terrified there was a snake in the music room.  Slowly, his eyes moved and met hers solemnly, wondering what he was going to do.

Slowly, she slipped out from behind the cello, and crept toward the snake.  She could tell it was just a harmless garden snake, they’d seen plenty of those at her grandparent’s farm, and she bent down and scooped it up.  She glanced back up at the boy in the window and couldn’t help but smile at his soundless cries.  The room was, after all, sound proof.  He ran off as she packed up her stuff one-handed, the other hand tightly gripping the squirming snake.  By the time she left the music room, a whole group of junior high boys were standing at the end of the hall, watching how she handled this snake in the music room.  She calmly walked past them and headed to the office, aware they were trailing after her, whispering.  She walked into the office, startling the secretary at the desk, let her know she’d found a snake in the music room, and went outside, dropping the snake in the bushes.  She turned around, cheeks burning, ready for the boys to mock her.  They stared at her, and then one of them whooped, punching his fist in the air.  They all cheered and clapped and called her name.  She wasn’t at all like the other girls, and they were impressed.

Porcupine Problem


My grandpa tells the best stories, and I’ve loved listening to him ever since I was tiny.  I thought I’d heard them all, but I overheard him telling my four year-old daughter a story about a porcupine problem the other day.  She’d learned about porcupines in preschool and I’d shown her videos online, but I’m sure she’ll always remember my grandfather telling her all about the porcupine problem.

My grandfather’s a good ol’ boy from Georgia.  He ends most sentences with “Dontcha Know” or “Dontcha See.”  He says it as if it’s all one word, and sometimes says both of them one right after the other.  It’s frustrating to some, annoying to others, but it’s endearing to me.

“Oh, why we had a problem with a porcupine once when I was a little ‘un, Dontcha Know Dontcha See.”  My daughter was tucked up on his knee, listening with sparkling eyes, just as I used to when I was a child.  “It just come right outta the woods n’ wandered all over the place, mostly at night, and every once in a while, we’d see it shufflin’ around out there, Dontcha See.  I threw a few rocks at it, hopin’ to scare it off, but it never did pay me no mind, it just always come back, Dontcha Know.”

I smiled, thrilled to be hearing a new story.

“Well, this porcupine, he chewed a hole right into Daddy’s work shed, clean through the wood walls, Dontcha See.  And, I take it that’s where it lived for a while, especially since my Daddy didn’t do a whole lotta work out in that shed during the cold months, as it didn’t have no heat in there, Dontcha See.   But, that porcupine didn’t pay no heed to heat or no, it just up and moved right on in and started chewing on my Daddy’s tools, Dontcha Know.  Well, my brother and I, we never did think about telling Daddy about the porcupine problem, we just liked to watch it when we could and we thought it was something fun, knowing we had a porcupine in the shed, Dontcha See.  So, spring come, and Mommy had some project or other for my Daddy to do, and out he goes to the shed, fixin’ to get the job done, Dontcha Know.  ‘Fore we know it, he comes a hollerin’ outta that shed, mad as heck, yellin’ for us boys to come on out, Dontcha Know.  We ran out, fast as we could, and he started hollerin’ as how we oughtn’t to touch his tools and break the handles off, and didn’t we know it’d cost good money to replace all the wood that we’d broken, Dontcha See.  Well, he didn’t calm down for a long time, but once he did, we convinced him as how we had a porcupine problem and that porcupine done chewed up all the wood handles on his favorite tools, Dontcha See.  It took some quick explainin’ but he finally saw as how we was probably right, we had a porcupine problem, and we didn’t get skinned that day for getting’ into his tools, since it was the porcupine, Dontcha Know.”

Admittedly, a story about a porcupine problem wasn’t his best story ever, but it was the last one he got to tell my daughter before he passed, and I’ll always cherish it.  Dontcha Know.

Rats In House


Rat (1)

Oh, no, this will not do, we will have no more rats in the house, uh uh, no way. I don’t know how the dirty damn things got in my house, or why they chose us. I run a clean home. We don’t live in a museum or anything, that’s not what I’m saying. We live in a cute little clean home, though, and I refuse to let rats in the house destroy it.
But, we are losing this battle, and I am ready to drop kick the little suckers into next year if I have to.
I first noticed we might have a rat in the house when I went through the Christmas decorations that I keep in the downstairs office. There were holes chewed right through the cardboard boxes, and little rat turds sprinkled in the tinsel and garlands. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d up and had babies right there in and amongst the nativity scenes and tree ornaments. At least there wasn’t anything dead in there, but just knowing they had made free with my decorations was enough to give me the shivers.
I made everyone tear through the house, looking for little rat holes or rat droppings. My niece found half an eaten potato in the pantry. Oh, no, we not only have rats in the house but they’re in the kitchen, too?! It was on, I was at war.
We put out traps, sealed up all the food, cleaned up all the rat turds. It obviously wasn’t enough. The rats in the house chewed through the water line to the refrigerator next. Oh, yes, they did, chewed enough holes in it that water soaked up underneath the floor boards and ran down the wall into a closet downstairs. Water damage on two floors, all because some furry little rodent can’t keep clear of my house and keep its teeth off pipes.
We caught two rats with the kind of rat traps you get at the hardware store, and I thought, phew, we don’t have anymore rats in the house. But, it turns out I was wrong, because the next thing you know, we found out that a rat had made its way into a guest bedroom, chewed a hole into the closet where we keep all our extra winter clothes, and made a rat nest and had babies inside a spare skiing jacket. It chewed its way clean through the jacket lining and used the inside fluff to make a nest for disgusting rat babies.
This will not do. I cannot have rats in my house. We are a clean family and I expect our home to be free of rats, so you gotta send someone out here ASAP to trap the rats, kill the rats, whatever you gotta do to get them out of my house.