Friday, July 31, 2015

Adventures in Urban Wildlife...

(Image borrowed from the interwebs - google image search)

Artemis managed to go nine and a half years without getting sprayed by a skunk.

Perhaps that lulled me into a false sense of security. Perhaps the fact that Artemis has demonstrated herself sensible enough to stop cold at the sound of a rattlesnake's warning made me think she couldn't be stupid enough to confront a skunk...

Regardless, on Wednesday night (ok, technically Thursday morning) at 1am I took Artemis out for a final chance to urinate on some foliage before retiring for a calm eight hours of respite. As is our custom, the dog ambled free of restraints because (I thought THEN) what trouble could possibly arise at 1am on weeknight?

With a single bark of warning, Artemis took off with the fleetness of a startled woodnymph and the determination of a riled hound. I barely had time to register that she had left my side before she stood face to face with a thoroughly agitated, but firmly ground-holding, skunk.

I shouted. I plead. I begged. I cursed.

Neither skunk nor dog were to be swayed.

I called and called, but Artemis was strangely entranced, as though that black and white puffed up tail held the answers to every enigma that had caused her paws and snout to twitch delicately in her dream riddled sleep.

I wasn't going anywhere near the damn thing.

Artemis surged forward, and the skunk, not one to give in quietly to the jaws of a much larger predator, sprayed. And sprayed. And sprayed again. One more time, just for good measure. Or so it seemed in my head. (In truth skunks tend to only spray once per encounter as they have a limited amount of butt juice to share with the world, so it's likely everything else I saw was just posturing.)

Artemis was stunned. I like to believe that's why she didn't beat a hasty retreat at the first whiff of tail spritz. I think her whole system was overloaded by the pungent miasma that hit her directly in the nose.

When she finally regained control of herself she shook her head violently, even while retreating from the myriad flicks of her striped nemesis' tail, and snorted. It was a motion she repeated frequently, the snorts almost mimicking the human gesture of a subtle mixture of disbelief and disdain.

No matter how often she tried to discharge her nose, the smell remained. In fact it grew worse.

I stood, numbly, struck still by the mounting knowledge that my canine companion was now the source of a scent that can only be compared to a hundred tires smoldering in a pile of asphalt on a summer's night, and that I am the responsible adult.


Never in my life have I so desperately wanted to be a child. To not be the person responsible. To blithely suggest that someone else should have to figure out what to do with a skunk coated canine at 1am on a weeknight.


I might have cursed again. It's a distinct possibility.

Not knowing what else to do, I tied Artemis to the bannister outside our door and proceeded upstairs to make use of the glorious pool of information prized by night owls everywhere, the internet.

Luckily, recipes for effective skunk remover abound. Thank you, sweet baby spaghetti monster, may your noodly appendages touch all the peoples, amen.

And so it was, by 1:30am I was to be found, wearing as little as possible, bathing my poor, malodorous canine with a combination of vinegar (this should have been hydrogen peroxide, but I didn't have any and was making do), baking soda, and dish soap on the back patio, with a hose, bucket, and the brush from a dust pan.

I did the best I could with the tools given, but it's possible that the bites of myriad mosquitoes, and the frustration of bathing a dog in the dark, all while trying to touch her as little as possible, might have lowered my standards of performance.

Once the scent of the dog had been downgraded from "Dear GOD what is that THING?!?" to merely, "Hey guys, who farted?" I took her inside and banished her to the bathroom. It was 2:30 in the morning and I was long past ready to collapse.

Sadly, that was not the end of it.

Artemis was so distraught by being banished to the bathroom (a room that she often voluntarily chooses to sleep in, thanks to the cool floor) that she whined constantly throughout the night. The husband, who had to be up before 6am for work, relocated to the living room. I stayed in hopes of calming the poor pooch into some form of slumber. It did not help.

My theory, looking back on it, is that she was trapped with the smell of herself, and she couldn't fathom why I had locked her into a room that smelled like multiple cartons of rotten eggs. As she'd been sprayed in the face, and is a DOG, the scent had to be hundreds of times worse for her than it was for any of the rest of us, but the alternative was to tie her up outside, and I know for a fact she would have howled her head off and kept the entire neighborhood awake the whole night if I'd done that to her.

So, instead, we passed a sleepless night. When I finally decided to give up and start my day, the first thing I did was force Artemis into yet another bath. Then, while she dried, I looked up local groomers. Luckily, there was a place within walking distance, and, thanks to a cancelation, they had a slot for us.

So it was that Artemis had her first ever appointment at a groomer. It wasn't cheap, but for how much improved she was (and not just the skunk smell going away) it's a price I'd be willing to pay once or twice a year.

Artemis is now the cleanest she has ever been in her life. And, while her face still smells a tiny bit like skunk, the rest of her smells fantastic.

And thus we live, learn, and fight another day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

10 Things You Won't Say on Your Deathbed...

Lately I've noticed how easy it can be to get so caught up in the things we have to do that we forget to embrace the things we enjoy. This fact has led me to ruminating on the idea of what one ideally wants one's life to have been when one reaches the end of it.

As such, I have compiled a top ten list (of course--what else does one do with these things?) of things that I don't believe* anyone has ever said on their deathbed:

*Note that I said believe. Obviously, this is skewed by own personal perspective on life which is biased by any number of factors.

  1. I wish I'd had less sex.
  2. I wish I'd worked more.
  3. I wish I'd listened to less music.
  4. I wish I'd spent less time outside
  5. I wish I'd seen less of the world.
  6. I wish I'd read fewer books.
  7. I wish I'd tried fewer foods.
  8. I wish I'd spent less time with loved ones.
  9. I wish I'd tried fewer new activities.
  10. I wish I'd had fewer adventures.

Using a bit of backwards mapping (can you tell I was a teacher for ten years?) I believe I can extrapolate a decent set of life goals from those. 

Thoughts? Suggestions? Additions? Subtractions?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Show That Never Happened

If anyone was wondering where I've been since the end of last week the answer is simple: the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

As the largest folk festival in North America, it's always a fun gathering of musicians and music lovers and this year was no exception. The weekend was full of good music and fun hangs. This is the 4th time that I've attended Folk Fest and the second year that I've volunteered there. 

The volunteering piece has been quite entertaining, as I lucked out and somehow managed to wind up working in the Green Room for the main stage. (This isn't as luxurious as it may sound as it involves cleaning bathrooms as much as it involves talking to famous people, but it's not a bad gig all in all.) 

This year, I was half excited and half sad to be working the Green Room on Sunday night because Wilco was closing out the festival and they are one of my favorite bands. I was excited because it meant I would get to meet them (or at least smile at them and offer them food and beverages), but I was sad because typically when one is working the Green Room one is too busy to get to hear much of the music when the bands are actually performing. I wanted to hear this concert so much that "meeting" the band didn't quite temper my disappointment at not getting to watch from front of house. 

But then, no one else wound up getting to hear them either as a torrential downpour that came on suddenly, lasted over an hour, closed out the show and sent everyone packing. Adding a sad face to this line will not begin to account for how much of a bummer this was, but I will add one anyway. :-(

In the meantime, a fellow Green Roomer and I did manage to get Wilco and their crew their post-show-back-on-the-tour-bus food without it being either too soggy or too cold, and then we went back to the Green Room to help clean up. In Wilco's abandoned trailer I found this:

It made me even sadder to see how many songs that I love were on this set list and never got played that night, but I will make myself a playlist* with the entire set list and console myself with that. 

And now we return to the real world...

*If anyone else does the same it should be noted that the entire set was going to be performed acoustically so try to line up acoustic versions for maximum consistency.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Acting Canadian...

The husband and I have been practicing our Canadian lately.

Well, alright, his is quite natural. It is his first culture. But, as a non-Canadian, I have to practice.

So, as a warm up to Canada day, the hubby and I went Canoe camping.

Not sure what this pose/facial expression are supposed to mean, but presumably I was caught mid reply to something...

The rig.

Our Second campsite was gorgeous. Artemis loved it.

I've had that Yankee's cap for over 20 years. Can you tell?

So, there you have it. We forgot the maple syrup, and we didn't ride any moose, but we saw lots of beaver so we felt that was a pretty good start.

For the 4th we practiced being American by getting drunk and watching TV. I guess we should have gone to a baseball game, but those cost money.