Skunk De-Skunker or A Public Service Announcement

Pheasant season is right around the corner and if your dogs are anything like ours, they get into a lot of thick tall grass searching for the elusive scent of a pheasant. Often other creatures pop out of the underbrush, such as rabbits, deer and on occasion, a skunk. That happened on one hunting trip. The dogs were hot on a pheasant that wanted to run through some prairie grass and would not break cover, when the dogs stopped short. As I caught up to Charlie and Orso I could make out something black sticking up in the grass and the dogs were barking at it. I just barely made out the shape and screamed, “Skunk! Leave it –leave it!”

I back pedaled as fast as I could to get out of range, but Charlie and Orso were not so lucky. As Charlie turned the skunk sprayed them catching Charlie on the right side of his face and shoulder, Orso got sprayed on his shoulder. As bad as the dead skunk stench smells when you are driving down the road and get a waft of the road kill aroma, a live skunk spray victim smells worse. It is a cloying sickening sweet, decaying smell that gets in your nostrils and won’t go away.

We took the dogs back to the hotel and first put Charlie in the tub and used all of the shampoo we had scrubbing, rinsing and repeating over and over until the stench was not as overwhelming as it first was. A trip to Walmart for more shampoo and it was Orso’s turn. Even though we were able to cut the stench down with the multiple baths, the stench was still there when you got close to their heads and shoulders. It took almost six months for the smell to completely go away.

After we got back from our fateful hunting trip, we decided to put together a skunk de-skunking kit. In the October 2008 issue of Gun Dog Magazine there was an article about skunks and dogs and it listed a de-skunking recipe. Below is the list of ingredients and instructions for anyone that takes their dogs hiking or hunting and just might need this.

16 ounce bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide (For best results, change out the any unused Hydrogen Peroxide on an annual basis. This is the keep it fresh and active in case you have to use it.)
1 pound box of Baking Soda (transferred to a waterproof container
Dawn Dish Soap
Latex, plastic or rubber gloves (several pair)
A plastic or metal two-quart or larger container to mixing the ingredients (we used a gallon ice cream pail)

Measure one or more cups of baking soda into large container. Add 1/2 cup or more hydrogen peroxide to form a paste. Expect mixture to foam somewhat. Squeeze one or more ounces of liquid soap and while wearing protective gloves, hand mix the ingredients until smooth and slightly runny.

Hand rub mixture into dog’s coat with a massaging motion concentrating on the region where most of the skunk oil is located. Leave mixture on dog for 10 minutes or more. Then rinse with ample fresh water. Avoid getting the mixture in the dog’s eyes. Flush well with fresh water if it does get in his eyes.

Rinse the dog with plenty of fresh water.

NOTE: Do Not mix the solution before it is needed. It is unsafe to store this mixture for any length of time, so mix only when needed, apply immediately and discard afterwards.

We haven’t had to use our kit yet and hope we never have to, but we take it with us on each hunting trip. Of course I probably should do that on our hiking treks too.

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The Walk from Hell

I did not enjoy our walk this afternoon, no not at all. It started off so promising. Mitch was busy putting brakes on my car when I got home from work, so I fed the dogs and changed my clothes. I put their harnesses on them, grabbed my phone, stuffed a couple of poop bags in my pocket and grabbed the leashes off the coat rack. We walked outside, I leashed each one up and told Mitch we would be back shortly and would fix dinner then. It was a beautiful afternoon, mid-seventies and a light breeze, perfect for a dog walk.

Nobody else was around just the dogs and me; we were about halfway to the dam when Charlie stopped to sniff something in the ditch next to the road, took a step and jerked sideways and sort of jumped and limped to the road both at the same time. I looked at him and he was holding his left foot up as if he had stepped on something and cut his paw or had been bitten. I looked down at his elevated paw and saw something sticking out between two of his toes. It looked like a small stick sticking out of a dark brown rock wedged between his toes.

So being the loving caring pet owner I am, I reached down to pull it out. Imagine my surprise and disgust when I discovered it wasn’t a rock wedged between his toes, but instead it was dog poop. I now have dog poop on my left thumb. Gross! Charlie had stepped in some other dog’s feces and was as disgusted about it as I was when I touched it. I walked over and pulled a leaf off of a bush to try and wipe as much off of my thumb as possible. I didn’t have a Kleenex with me and if I did it would have been in my pocket and I certainly wasn’t going to stick my poopy thumb in my pocket to retrieve it.

After wiping as much as I could off of my thumb, I picked a bigger leaf to try and wipe the poop off of Charlie’s toes. Charlie was being his usual uncooperative self and jerked his paw away from me causing me to get dog poop on my right thumb. Now I have dog poop on both thumbs, I am thoroughly disgusted and feel super gross. I can’t touch anything with my thumbs because I don’t want to get the gross icky poop on anything else. I decided to turn around and walk back home. I held the leashes in each palm curling my fingers around them with my thumbs sticking straight out so I wouldn’t accidently touch anything with my thumbs.

Halfway home and so far so good, no other people or dogs show up and both dogs are behaving rather well, when all of a sudden now I have a goddam gnat flying at my face. There was nothing I could do, I couldn’t swat it, just wave my arms around like a crazy woman and jerk my head spasmodically to try and keep it away. I can only imagine what someone thought if anybody looked out of their window at me.

Where is a wet wipe when you need it?

Forgiveness

Can you ever forgive yourself? Is it even possible to really forgive one of your transgressions and fully move on? Forgiving yourself is harder than forgiving someone else. We can look at another person’s faults and misgivings, come up with a hundred reasons why they did what they did and forgive them for it. It may take a while to move on, but eventually we accept the misdeed or error in judgment by someone else and get on with our lives and relationships. So why is it so hard for us to forgive our own missteps? Do we have higher expectations of our selves than others or is it that we look at a lapse in judgment as an insurmountable failure?

I am not proud of my youth. I have done some really stupid things growing up. I made a lot of bad decisions born out of low self-esteem and when something jogs a memory I still cringe inwardly. I look back into the past with loathing for my actions. Granted I was a stupid teenager then and am well into my fifties now, but something about that time in my life still haunts me. There are so many regrets and a desire for a do over, knowing the outcome would probably still be the same, but that doesn’t stop the wishing.

I didn’t kill anybody or maliciously try to hurt others; my transgressions were all directed at me. I wish I had pushed myself more in school, gone to college, had some direction, instead of going along with the aimless mindset of a self-absorbed teenager. I thought that if a boy paid attention to me it meant he loved me. It took me a few years to figure out what real love was.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, my husband, children and my friends, but I wish I could have been better. I wish I had made smarter decisions and wiser choices, not the bonehead mistakes that I can’t seem to put in the past forever. I know I’m not the person I was then; I don’t need validation from anyone else now. The validation has to come from me and grant me the forgiveness of my past sins.

When I look back over the years of my adulthood there have been many great accomplishments. My husband who I love with all of my heart, my two sons, who are all grown up and have families of their own, a daughter that I didn’t give birth to, but love as much and a few truly special friends that I would walk through fire for. These are all the best part of me, the today me.

So what is it about those short seven years of my life that haunt me more than the thirty plus years since? How do I absolve myself, move on and truly face the future with hope and resolve? I can’t answer that, but I am working on it.

The Bane of My Existence

Once again modern technology is making me insane. I thought computers and the internet are supposed to make our lives easier, but no, not so. Every day we use the internet to shop, do online banking and surf thousands of search engines for things like more shopping. Almost every place you go out there in cyberspace to do business has you set up a username and a password all in the name of security. And of course all of the IT gurus tell us to create a different unique password with capital and lower case letters with numbers and special characters at least a million characters long for each time we create a password. Some tell us to use a phrase such as, “Mary had a little lamb” but change some of the letters like this, “M2ryh#daLIT*&%-098b” to make it even more secure. Good luck remembering that one.

I don’t know about you but I have a bunch of passwords to remember. There is my work password to sign on to my computer, the password to sign on to my payroll, taxes and vacation, password to sign on to my health insurance benefits, retirement account, bank, and multiple shopping websites. Passwords, so many passwords to remember and of course you only get three tries before the web site locks you out. I bet hackers and identity thieves get more than three tries. So what’s a memory challenged internet user to do? Write down all of my different passwords, but then where do you store them, in a file on the computer? What if you get hacked, can the hacker find the password file and now have access to your whole life? Do you write it down on a piece of paper? If so where you hide it so only you know where it’s at and still have easy access? Or do you use one the password managers that come with your firewall protection software?

But I’m not so sure those are the best option either. I used one of those password managers and it forgot the password for the website I tried to use. Can you believe it, I logged on, my username and password populated perfectly, and evidently it was not the correct password. I even tried the “forgot password” button and it took me to a screen that wanted my phone number, are you kidding me, my phone number, what about my email address? I have no idea what phone number I put down, but I always know what email address I use. After trying every phone number I could think of I got the death message, “Too many tries, contact IT support to access your account”. It was nice enough to give the phone number of a live chat, but these people keep bankers hours, I can only call from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and whatever you do don’t even think about calling from noon to two, everyone will be at lunch. I have things to do today and sitting around waiting until 8:30 to talk to someone about resetting my password is not on my list. Seriously, the internet is open for business twenty-four seven, why is it that we can’t get technical support the same way?

There goes my blood pressure, perfect the doctor will love that.

Cranky Me

Stand back everyone I’m going on a rant. Run, don’t look back, save yourself, I have passed irritated and have reached flat out cranky. I am working on three days of sleep deprivation and am pretty sure there will be a fourth and a fifth and so on. The reason for this new state, the weather has finally cooled off enough to allow us to open the windows and turn off the air conditioning. Refreshing you would think, but no, our neighbor has a Chocolate Lab puppy that is about nine or ten months old, a sweet loving and totally out of control monstrously large puppy. The neighbor’s will put the puppy out on a run I think just to get some away time from him. And what do puppies do when they are bored and have no one exercising, training and loving on them, puppies find ways to entertain themselves. They chew on inappropriate things like the deck, and furniture, dig up the yard and most of all, bark. Lucky us, the puppy is tied up outside our bedroom window.

The first night the puppy barked for an hour. He would bark nonstop for about five minutes, then stop for about five minutes lulling me into the false sense of relaxation, thinking that the neighbor had enough of him yapping and took him in. No such luck, he was just resting his vocal cords. This on and off barking continued on and on so that when the neighbor finally did take him in for the night, we were both so keyed up, neither one of us had any restful sleep. Getting up at two thirty in the morning for our work schedule makes for a short night anyway, but add only maybe a couple of hours of sleep and we have the start of short tempers. The second night we went to bed earlier because of the prior night’s lack of sleep and hoped for the best. The puppy started off again and barked his on and off routine for about forty-five minutes making another night of misery for us. Last night, he barked for an hour and a half. Mitch finally broke down and called the neighbor and left a message.

That was the whine, here comes the rant. I love dogs, but a barking dog grates on my soul. I cannot stand listening to a dog barking nonstop. If the dog starts barking go and check on the dog and find out why he’s barking. If it’s an intruder, shoot him and let the dog eat the intruder, the dog won’t be barking while he is eating. If nothing is wrong and the dog is just bored, get up off of your duff and go play with him. Run him around the yard throwing a ball, put him through some training drills or walk him. Anything to exercise his body and brain, but don’t leave the dog outside on a run to make the rest of the neighbors miserable.

I would be mortified if a neighbor called me to complain that my dogs were causing any inconvenience for them. I just don’t understand people anymore. What has happened to manners and thoughtfulness? The saddest part about the whole mess is that the puppy will probably be the one to suffer the most from our sleep deprivation. He will probably be kenneled more and for longer periods causing more out of control behavior or worse turned over to a shelter because the owners don’t want to deal with the problem.

Okay so much for my rant, I’m still tired and cranky, but I feel a little better getting that off my chest. Mitch and the dogs thank you too for letting me vent. Cross your fingers for us that maybe just maybe we might get a decent night’s sleep soon. That or pray for cold weather so we have to close the windows and turn on the furnace.

What I did on My Vacation

We were on vacation this week and it didn’t come a moment too soon. I was in desperate need of some de-stressing. Our original vacation plans were to drive to Washington State and go on a serious week long wine tasting trek with some scenic vistas thrown in. But after going over the vacation budget and the cost estimates, we were a bit short and I am loathe to running up a huge credit card debt for a week of drinking and debauchery. Even though I am always up for debauchery and of course, drinking, I do have some limits.

After plan A tanked, we decided on plan B, a driving trip to New Mexico, going the NRA shooting center in Roton, New Mexico then driving on to Taos and tasting some of New Mexico’s wines. New Mexico is half the distance to Washington so I figured half the cost. Logical right? So that is what we decided on, drive to New Mexico, shoot up a bunch of ammunition, drive some wine and eat spicy food, what could be better?

Well fate decided that she had a better plan and evidently a sense of humor too. Not something I saw any humor in but I guess someone else might. There is a homeowner in this tiny burg that had let her property fall into extreme disrepair and the neighbors had been complaining. Original plans were made to condemn the property and tear it down. At the eleven hour the property owner showed up to a city meeting last fall to plead her case and of course our soft hearted codes enforcement officer, Mitch, fell for it. The city ended up giving her time to clean up the property and guess what, nothing was done. After many months of fruitless efforts to contact the owner, Mitch was finally able to serve her with a summons to come to court and guess what, the court date was smack dab in the middle of our vacation. There went plan B, straight down the tubes.

That left us with a very short window for any time away. We ended up with plan C, a quick sashay to other end of the state for a couple of days with Mitch and my camera. The two hooligans went to a pet spa to corrupt many new dogs and we got to sleep in hotel beds by ourselves, something very novel. We found out that we could sleep in a much smaller bed when it was just the two of us. We tasted a few Missouri wines though, I am not a fan of the wines here but I did buy an awesome t-shirt.

We found a few places to hike and got lost a couple of times hiking. You would think that being at a nature sanctuary with marked trails one would not get lost, but then one has never hiked with us. The nice lady at the Wildcat Nature Sanctuary even gave us a trail map and told us the direction to take and we still made the wrong turn, took the course backwards and ended up on the wrong side of the highway in the middle of a dry creek bed totally lost. Thank god we are smarter than most or you would be reading about a couple of idiots lost in the woods in southern Missouri.

All in all though the time away was short, we had fun just being away and hopefully my mental health has improved. By the way, here is the t-shirt I bought. It fits me don’t you think?

SAMSUNG

Cramping My Style

Work is cramping my style. I have been swamped at work lately. So busy, that I have been going in an hour early every day and working through lunch just to keep up. That extra hour of early time means that I don’t get to do any writing and of course when I have no time to spend writing, I have lots of great story ideas. All of these ideas come when I’m either walking the dogs, taking a shower or doing something else that entails my hands being otherwise occupied and there is no paper or pen around so I can at least jot down an idea. Then just like a dog seeing a squirrel, I start something else and totally forget what I wanted to say. I have no idea how many story ideas that I’ve lost and are floating around in the mishmash of my brain among all of the other things I’ve forgotten, like where I put the electric bill.

What I need is a thought activated idea recorder that will record my random thoughts, organize them into complete sentences and write a finished polished story. I could then take my idea recorder, plug it into the computer and download this wonderful story. What a superb product this would be. Every writer I know would have one. Sadly I know of no such gadget or believe me I would be the first to own one.

But back to my original thought, work is definitely getting in the way of my writing. (See what I mean about “squirrel”? One minute I’m focused the next off on another tangent.) The audacity of a company in the business of making a profit through the labor of their employees, said company shows its’ appreciation by paying us a salary and actually expects us to work and earn that salary. Can you believe it? Actually work to receive my paycheck? Oh man, the unfairness of it all. But I really like eating, I’m not the starving artist type, so I go in and work every day giving it my all, so for now I have to squeeze out my writing time when I can, right along with my work out time, which isn’t getting done on a regular basis either.