The Skunk Report

It was Valentine’s Day, ten PM. The blinds were down. Thumping came from beside the house. Squeaking ensued. Definitely an animal noise. I turned. Outside lights detected motion and lit the area.

I pulled the blinds up. The squeaking came from a skunk, our skunk, as we call her. Haven’t formally named her yet but we know her by her tail, which looks like a well-used white toilet brush.

Furious squeaking kept going. She was jumping and darting briskly around. I zipped into the other room to bring my wife to the spectacle. Not much was on television and I’d just finished reading my book.

“What’s she doing?” my wife asked.

“I think she’s fighting with something.”

“I think she has a mouse.”

The skunk jumped back, leaped to one side, and twirled. “I don’t see a mouse. I think she’s fighting with something else.”

Our skunk turned and rushed away. There was no mouse. As we stood to consider what we’ve seen, another skunk darted out from under the house. Bigger than our skunk, I’d seen ‘him’ before. “Look.” I pointed him out. “I think she was fighting him. They sometimes fight.”

My wife was nodding. “Yes. I read that females will reject males and sometimes spray them in a defensive action.”

“So he came a-callin’…”

“And she said, no thank you.” The skunk disappeared. The lights went off. My wife turned away. “I think she doesn’t want him because she’s in love with Boo.” Boo is our big black cat with a single white star on his chest.

I remained doubtful. I began lowering the blind. The light appeared. ‘He’ appeared. He looked up at me.

I nodded down at him. “Tough luck, brother. Can you go somewhere else?”

He scurried off into the night. The light went off. I finished lowering the blind on the theater and began wondering what I was going to watch on the telly.

Live theater is so much better.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Hello. Today is Wednesday, the forty-second day of 2021, February 17. 2021. Sunrise struck southern Oregon at 7:05 AM. It’s an assertive sun today, shining down on increased quantities of expanding greenery. Sunset will be at 5:46 PM. All that sunshine is exciting the floofs. Two — Youngblood and Black Beauty, aka Papi and Boo — are out there soaking it up. Not Tucker, though. Today is my wife’s exercise morning (M-W-F), and he likes being in on that.

The skunk declared war on something on Monday night. We were collateral damage as the smell spilled up into the entire house. Fortunately, yesterday was sunny and pleasant (the rain they said we’d get never came). We turned off the heater and opened windows. The skunk’s scent cleared. We went out for a drive. When we returned, she’d struck again. So, do-over, and success again. Then, 9 PM, we went grocery shopping for fresh produce. When we returned…guess what? Yep, she’d struck again. Geuss she was bored or something. This time we fired up the air purifier. That worked. Last night remained skunk free.

Today’s song jumped into the mental stream out of 1992. When I woke up and was still in bed, I thought, “I’m so hot.” Then, writing in my head, I noted, “I’m so excited.” About two minutes later, I said to myself, “I’m so hungry,” and hastened to make breakfast. “I’m so ready,” followed a short while later as I made coffee and then headed in to write. That’s when the Wayback Machine activated Nirvana’s song, “Lithium”.

I’m so happy
‘Cause today I found my friends-they’re in my head
I’m so ugly, that’s okay ’cause so are you
Broke our mirrors

h/t to Metrolyrics.com

Yeah, you know how it goes, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, get vaccinated, do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight. Cheers

The Night Of

Nine PM was approaching. My wife and I were focused on a German television show, “The Nordic Murders”, depending on the captioning to understand the language. An entertaining show, we were commenting on the clothing and differences from American television while guessing motives. Two of the house’s three cats slumbered on the floor.

A sudden hard thumping from under the house drew our attention. Grabbing the remote, I froze the screen. “Under the house,” I said. “The skunk.”

We rushed the window and drew up the blinds. The night was dark. Two lights with sensors had been installed outside for events like these. They remained unlit.

The room fell silent. I moved toward the room’s doorway and began speaking, looking back as I did. Behind my wife, on the room’s other side, I saw the outside lights go on. Pointing, I called, “Lights, lights,” and strode toward the window.

My wife leaned over and looked out. “Something ran out. It headed toward the front door.”

I pivoted, hurrying toward the front. “Come on.” As I went, I detoured left. “Flashlight, wait.” My wife kept on to the door. As I joined her, I flicked on the outside light. She unlocked the door and opened it, saying as she did, “It must have been two skunks because I don’t — “

Skunk smell slammed me in the face. Back-pedaling, I shouted, “Skunk, skunk, close the door, close the door.” My wife whipped it close.

We stood there, staring at one another as the skunk’s spray wafted around us. “Get the air purifier,” my wife ordered. “Hurry, hurry.”

As I returned with the air purifier from the other room, she turned on the bathroom fan. “Do you think the purifier will help? Should we turn on the furnace fan?”

The smell was rising and engulfing us. “No, let’s just use the room exhaust fans and the purifier.” I went around turning them on.

A few tense hours were endured as the scent rose and fell. The purifier labored through the night. Morning brought relatively skunk-free air.

Outside, I put the board back in place. It’s there mostly to make noise when the skunk goes in and out to alert us about her activity. We speculated from what we’ve read and learned that something had gone under the house and threatened the skunk. She retaliated. But what really happened that night, we’ll never know.

Saturday Strings

Haven’t mentioned a few things (skunk, arm, Fitbit) in a while. Being egocentric, I thought I would today.

  1. Oh, the skunk. She (my wife is certain it’s a female) has gained the upper hand on we puny humans. She thumps the board aside (I keep it there so I know she’s coming and going) and does her business.
  2. Last night, however, came turmoil under the house. Thump, thump, at first, rousing me from my television viewing. My wife had retired to bed. The cats were slumbering in preparation for their three A.M. rounds. I was watching “The Expanse” (the UN has just declared war on Mars and the Roci is heading to Io). The thump was singular and distant at first, causing me a “WTF, did-I-really-hear-something” pause. The show was stopped and I listened, counting cats (two were with me) when I did. Yep, the thumps repeated, more numerous and louder. Pushing the cat off my lap (he was listening, too), I leaped up, checked on the third cat (Papi, sleeping in the living room), and traced the sound. Finding its general area, I began thumping around in retaliation.
  3. The thumping underfoot increased in volume and frequency. My wife called, “Are you hearing this, too?” Uh, yeah. The sounds from beneath gravitated toward the front. Grabbing the flashlight, I turned on the front lights and headed outside.
  4. I arrived just in time to see the skunk exit the crawl space and bolt down the sidewalk, down the driveway, and across the street. Its perfume filled the air.
  5. Returning inside, I learned, we’ve been gassed. I reported my findings to my wife. The smell was mostly gone this morning, probably aided when the furnace kicked on and circulated the air. (The garage, though…you can spoon it out like Jello in there.) (Skunk Jello; that’s a thought.) As to what happened…it’s another of nature’s mysteries. I put the board back up this morning.
  6. My broken arm’s recovery continues. Rotation, flexibility, strength, and dexterity improves by day. I can now use ten pound weights to restore my arm and shoulder strength. I try twelves, but my wrist barks with sharp pains, so I cease. It’ll come. Persistence and perseverance. Raising my arm over my head (to put on a shirt, for example) taxes my shoulder. Yeah, working on it.
  7. Can’t do any pushups or chair-dips with my arm/wrist, though. Well, I can do modified pushups, where I’m on my knees. I can plank, and that’s up to three minutes a night.
  8. Meanwhile, Fitbit has congratulated me on hitting my distance goals every day for seventy-eight continuous days. My daily average is twelve miles a day. Although that pleases me, it comes with caveats. I only seriously walk outside three or four days a week, heading up the hills around my house, typically for one to three miles. Most of my daily stuff is derived from running around the house or jogging in place. I have several routes in the house, doing figure eights around the dining and living rooms. I’d like to walk outside more, but darkness comes early, and it’s wet and chilly, and I’m essentially a cream puff. I’ve considered walking in the morning or early afternoon, but that interferes with writing and housework. Priorities, don’t you know.

That’s all that’s fit to print. The cats (Boo, Tucker, and Papi) are all healthy and doing well. Tucker has said no to going outside, which is fine by me. Boo likes to go out in the morning and evening to do his business, but those turns are getting shorter quick. He resorted to the litter box last night. (Um, yea?) Papi, though, is a youngblood, and must roam the night. As its cold, his outside visits are getting shorter, but then, he’s bored, and wants to go out (or have me stay up and play with him, which ain’t gonna happen). Can’t wait till he matures enough to stay inside more.

Hope your life is going well. Take care.

Cheers

Seven Things Saturday

  1. We were out walking and encountered a rafter of wild turkeys. We have a few rafters in Ashland. We rarely come across them on our end of town. Encountering these smart birds is usually entertaining. Most rafters are eleven to seventeen birds in our area.
  2. This rafter was checking out the electric bikes available for rent. I imagined the turkeys were saying, “Hey, I’m tired of walking. Let’s rent some bikes.” Another replied, “I don’t see why not. I don’t see rule against turkeys anywhere on the rules.” “Cool. Does anyone have a phone? We need to use an app.” None did, ending their idea before it started.
  3. I recommend a show called “Staged” if you can watch it. It’s David Tennant and Michael Sheen as themselves. In theory, they’re rehearsing a play online during the COVID-19 lockdown. What we see are two experienced, celebrated adult film and television stars coping with the situation. The remaining cast is excellent, as are guest stars like Adrian Lester, Judi Dench, and Samuel L. Jackson. We caught it on Hulu. Sadly, there are but six episodes. My wife wants to watch it again. Good fun.
  4. My friends are circulating an email speculating how dinosaurs reproduced. It’s entertaining stuff to read. Ever imagine how big a dinosaur’s anus must be? Well, I immediately thought of the blue whale. If you watch “QI”, you know exactly why.
  5. That’s one of many emails being circulated by the same group of friends, my beer-drinking bodies. Emails about Osiris-Rex landing on Bennu and grabbing a soil sample also flew, along with the usual stuff about local politics, humor, and super-conductivity being achieved at room temperature.
  6. Active COVID-19 are increasing around the world. The US set a new daily high with 83,000 plus. Mortality is down, but hospitalizations are on the rise again. Please wear a mask and practice distancing. I know it’s hard but you’ll be happier in the end. Don’t believe me; check out recent pieces about the Stockdale Syndrome (“Have faith but face reality”).
  7. Had blood drawn as part of the annual process. Glyco-Hemoglobin A1C and Comprehensive Metabolic Panel. All looked although sodium remains stubbornly high. Good news, right?
  8. I may have driven the skunk away. It’s a bittersweet thing and still early days. First, I propped a board against the vent so that if the skunk left, I’d know. Second, I shook the house with Led Zeppelin II. Third, I then installed a boom box on max volume in the crawl space and played it for hours. We’ll see.

Yes, I know that was eight, contrary to the post title. Just call it a bonus.

Tuesday’s Trivia

Politics and books took over my bandwidth last week.

  1. Books are such time thieves. Writing them takes time, energy, and attention. With energy, I’m referring to intellectual, emotional, and physical energy. The effort absorbs everything. Don’t know if that’s true for other writers, but this is how it is for me.
  2. Reading books also sucks away time and energy. I read a C.J. Sanson novel last week, Tombland. Tombland isn’t a small novel, registering at eight hundred packed pages. The latest in the Matthew Shardlake series, like the other novels, I was compelled to read, almost as if I’d been cursed. The mystery is relatively thin but that is incidental to the history, period, and characters. His voice is authentic, and the characters are alive and shifting. You feel it all.
  3. But reading that book meant I was doing almost nothing else. It was that consuming. I was also trying to read it to return it to the library. It was due 10/22, but I had other books on hold. My wife also had library books to return (The Plover, and The House in the Cerulean Sea). (She’d read Tombland before me.) So I was pushing to finish to turn the books in, limiting our library visits and its potential COVID-19 exposure. They do a good job at the library, but exposure is exposure, right? Right. After returning Tombland, I returned home and had an email from the library system: they’d extended Tombland for me. Nice of them but unnecessary.
  4. I recommend Tombland. This particular novel swirled around murders in Norfolk in 1549. Somerset was the Lord Protector for the young king. It being England and that era, politics around rights for the common people the Kett Rebellion, differences in the church (Protestants vs. Catholics), power struggles among lords and ladies (including Edward’s sisters), and enclosures – fencing off common land that set aside for animal crazy. All the sinister and cynical conniving among the wealthy to increase their power and wealth, and their attitude toward the lower classes, and the subservience expected from the upper classes strikes amazing similarities to what’s happening in the United States in this century.
  5. Tombland was a fresh reminder of what England endured and how they prevailed and developed as a democracy. Turmoil and bloodshed are occurring in the U.S., but not at the levels seen in England at that time. I want to add, yet. It may come to that.
  6. The monstrous poverty and homelessness of the era also brought out sharp comparisons to here and now in America. It provided rich fodder for heavy thinking.
  7. Of course, reading a book that I enjoy helps inform the novel that I’m writing. Nothing I read made me want to tear up my manuscript (or delete it) or start anew. It did inspire nuances and new flavors to fold into the blend, and of course, fuel up the need to sit down and write.
  8. The skunk and I (and my wife) continue our non-violent confrontation. I don’t want the skunk to go under the house to live; the skunk wants to. I’m not a violent person, and love animals. Watching the skunk (and studying it through the window as it emerges at night) gives more appreciation to who it is. Yet, I know it’s damaging our foundation, insulation, and weather barrier. I empathize with the little critter, though. It’s a tough life out there, and it’s only trying to exist as I’m trying to exist. It certainly has the same rights as me.
  9. I blame some of my sympathy to the skunk to the Netflix documentary, My Octopus Teacher. A wonderful love story, it revealed standard details the octopus and its tough existence. Naturally, after watching it, I transferred the octopus’ struggles to ‘my’ skunk. There is a difference between the octopus and skunk: the octopus isn’t invading ‘my’ territory. Anyone can argue, the skunks were there first, and that I’m the trespasser. I know; that doesn’t make my job dealing with the skunk any easier.

The Cat and Her

She thought, by the way he was behaving, that the tabby wanted to go out via the pet door. The hard plastic cover was off, but he had issues with it. The youngest (and newest) member of their floofdom, he’d not been socialized well. He distrusted people and other animals, and stayed wary. That seemed like learned behavior, as he was otherwise so sweet, and smart.

He always had trouble with the pet door, though. Her working theory was that the other cats (old and tough rescues from the street who still argued about who ruled the house) often ambushed the tabby when he used the pet door, so he was leery of it. It fit, as theories go.

“You want to go out?” she asked him, heading for the pet door. Sitting four feet from it, he lifted his pretty green eyes from the pet door to regard her but immediately put attention back on the door. His look said, there’s someone out there. If you want to know, you look.

She scoffed. “There’s no one out there. I’ll prove it.”

Looking out, she did see another. Not recognizing them in the dim light (was it the fluffy cat from next door?) she got down on her hands and knees. Pushing the door flap up, she called to the other animal, “Here, kitty, kitty.” As it ambled toward her, she realized, skunk.

Post haste, she dropped the flap and put the hard plastic door on. Standing, hands on hips, she gazed down at her tabby. “You knew, didn’t you?” she accused him.

Yawning, he stood and stretched. Entertainment over, he turned, put his tail up, and dashed down the hall.

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