Since Gene couldn’t retire until the end of the year, and we moved in at the end of September, he could only stay a few days before flying back to Washington. I dropped him off at the airport in Duluth, and thus began what I refer to as “the dark days”.
I’m not good at self-sufficiency – in the 10+ years I’ve been with Gene, I’ve grown accustomed to a certain level of service. Drinks presented to me, water glass pre-filled on my nightstand, blanket turn down service… let’s just say I was forced to rough it until he returned.
It didn’t help that once the sun went down (at like 4:00 pm), the house transformed from a bucolic, pastoral cabin in the woods to that creepy cabin from “Cabin In The Woods”. Each time I went out with the dogs for an evening potty, every single episode of Walking Dead I’ve ever seen started playing in my imagination.
Not being accustomed to the local nightlife, the night bird sounds were near-terror inducing. There’s one bird, which I later learned is a ruffed grouse, that makes a noise by beating its wings against a log that sounds exactly like someone dribbling a basketball. Not scary during the day, but at night, when you’re not expecting to hear sports-related noises? It’s twins-from-The-Shining level creepy.
And then there’s Mr. Waddles. I met Mr. Waddles one night around 11 pm. I was taking Ceri out for her last game of laser chase before going to bed. Normally she chases the red light up and down the driveway about ten times, goes pee, and sleeps through the night. Win-win for both of us. But that night, she chased the laser down the driveway… and nothing but the laser came back up it.
I grabbed the flashlight and shined it toward the trees lining the drive, fully expecting to see a zombie chowing down on a 100-lb Shepherd snack. Instead, I saw Ceri trying to play with a big ol’ skunk.
You know that game happy dogs play, where they splay their front paws out and playfully jump toward the other dog? Mr. Waddles was not amused. I daresay Mr. Waddles was vexed. Mightily vexed. As I’m running down the driveway, bellowing “No – LEAVE THE KITTY” (which usually works inside the house), Ceri managed to corner Mr. Waddles against the shed.
Just as I was reaching down to grab her collar, Mr. Waddles decided his personal bubble had been breached one too many times, and unleashed some stinky retribution.
Oh. My. God.
We got both barrels. Poor Ceri didn’t know what to do. It was in her eyes, so she could barely see, and neither one of us could breathe all that well (mostly by choice, cuz damn). I was able to guide her back to the front door, then made the mistake of letting her collar go so I could open the door. She bolted inside, and decided the best way to get the sting out of her eyes was using the couches and the living room carpet as a towel.
(On a side note – I always thought those Febreeze “wash your room” commercials were full of it. Turns out, that stuff actually works.)
I got her locked in the bathroom, called Gene, and possibly blamed the whole situation on him for not being there to prevent it. (Our memories of said conversation vary, but I’m pretty sure I would never say such a thing).
He found a recipe on Google for skunk oil removal, involving Dawn dish soap, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. I was able to mix up a batch while Ceri fouled the bathmat, the walls, AND the shower curtain, then I got her cleaned up in the shower.
The next day, I drove to Target and loaded up on Febreeze. I also purchased an entire plastic tote’s worth of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and Dawn. It’s now in the front closet, with a huge label reading “Open in case of skunk emergencies”.
The worst part, though, was about two weeks later when Bess Bess came up to visit. I had washed the clothes I was wearing, including my favorite hoodie, several times. But we were walking through the woods, and Bess Bess kept saying I smelled like skunk. I was all, “whatever, you’re just imagining things because I told you the story.” Then we happened to run into the neighbor on the very far side of the property, and since I’ve never met them before, she invited us into her cabin. It was small, and rather hot… and soon it was rather stinky. Sigh. I threw out the hoodie when we got home.