Tuesday, February 28, 2012

stalled and kinder

I feel useless when I'm sick, and when I feel useless I feel worthless and than that conjure up all the emotions you might feel when you feel worthless and that's what attacks my mental state.

You know the feeling...when even the miniscule things are mountains.

"The grass is really tall" is mentally interpreted as, "OMG, if you don't get a weed-whacker to this NOW, you're getting kicked out and you've probably violated even the COUNTRY code of ordinance for how tall your grass can be!!"

"You have trash in your car" becomes "If anyone looked into the passenger side of your vehicle right now (the side that doesn't have a mirror screwed into the plastic doo-hicky-thing) they would assume you're a SLOB, a filthy, filthy slob. You better get those rolled up newspapers out of here PRONTO."

"The kitchen floor is sticky from the hydrogen-peroxide/vinegar mix from the Skunk Era" translates into, "You're a terrible housekeeper."

"It's February 28 and you still haven't started your seedlings" means "Your garden is screwed this year...screwed. You're late and you will not have fresh vegetables."

See what I mean?

I texted a friend this morning: "I'm trying not to be overwhelmed by my lack of productivity over the last four days."

She texted back: "It's hard to be stalled by sickness."

Stalled. It resonated with me in the pity-party moment I was in, because that's what I am. I'm temporarily slowed down, stalled, but not waylaid.

I told another friend that I realized I'm older and recovery is taking longer. Her response: "It's not a bad realization...it means we're kinder to our bodies and not impatient with ourselves."

Again, resonation.

Monday, February 27, 2012

when your dog is your nurse

Skye and I have spent the past four days in bed, save a trip to the Dollar store on Friday to get supplies for the long anticipated haul of sickness, and a trip to the urgent care clinic Sunday when the long anticipated haul of sickness turned into too-much-to-freaking-handle-on-my-own.

She rotated between the love seat (which is also her space)

to my bed, and what a great bedmate she is, especially when I'm sick and my feet are cold and she seems to know this and adjusts her body just so that she's laying on them, but not crushing them. And then they become warm.

If I woke up in my fevered haze and could not find her beside me, or four feet away from me on the love seat, I would find her next to my bed on the other side...sleeping.

She became a master at detecting by what stumble to what room I was headed to. I was allowed to pee solo, but any trip to the kitchen or beyond had to accompanied by her. She was annoying only twice when she mistook my throwing off the covers as my hearty way to greet the morning (or, in our case, the rise from our third 2-hour nap) and deciding that trampling over my body was the best way to celebrate. No, Skye, unfortunately, it is not.

So, here's to Skye, and the best nurse a girl could ask for. Unless, of course, I needed someone to bring me food or medicine or Sprite. And here's to all the friends and family who called to check on me and offer to bring me piles of stuff, and to my boss who called today to tell me to stop working from my bed, and to the doctor who "snuck me in" and told me I was too old to have ear infections (two of them!), but that strep was the preliminary culprit behind my illness.

And regretfully, this was the weekend of dear friends visiting Dallas and the Saturday we would spend together, but did not because of double ear infections and strep. I'm blowing you kisses.

Here's to health.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Tonight felt very normal to me.

And not because I come home at 10 o'clock from the laundry mat every night and hang up clean curtains while the dog-who-does-not-belong-to-me watches in earnest and the dog-who-does-belong-to-me pees outside.

And not because I worked till 8:30, and will return 12 hours later (OK, maybe the first part of that sentence - the part before the comma - is normal), and not because I hung up every clean piece of clothing I have.

Those things, in my realm of normal, are abnormal.

What felt normal was taking four steps into my dining room before smelling anything offensive, and then walking through my house breathing what feels like fresh air instead of skunks, onions and vinegar.

Instead, I smelled...nothing. And when my brain didn't know how to register this nonsensical sensation and clamored to smell something , it was the coffee grounds I'd set out last night. I can handle coffee.

Oh, and I came home to electricity. Last night, in some strange twist of I-have-no-clue-what, I had none. Thankfully there's some thread of survival instinct in me. My sister, who surprised me with a surprise visit, and I visited by the glow of a flashlight and when it came time for bed, I donned a long-sleeve shirt, two sweatshirts, two pairs of PJ pants and two pairs of socks. As Texas weather would have it, tonight I'm sleeping with a couple windows open. But whatever...I'll take it.

Air out, Cottage, air. out.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

neighborhood annoyance

You should get off your ass and play with me.

Um, no. But I'll bite your face.

Oh yeah?

Well, I'll paw your face.

Still not interested.

I get it! It's the quiet game.



Oh, you know

"So, Holly, what are you doing on your Saturday morning?"

Oh, you know, just my daily dog de-skunking routine and trap-checking.

Could this life get any more enchanted?

I don't know, but I'll bet I'll find out.

Basically, all the de-skunking work I did last night on the Cottage was for naught thanks to our now-daily bath in skunk-ass.

Back to square one.

Here's our celebrity skunk.
And yes, I did get close enough (with zoom) to take this picture.

There are probably more.

Friday, February 10, 2012

my nose hairs are singed

Have you ever had one of those weeks where skunks just won't leave you alone?


I have.

It started Monday night.

And Tuesday it wouldn't end.

By Wednesday, you would have hoped for the end, right? I certainly was.

Thursday I was sitting at my desk and smelled a skunk. It was my necklace.

And tonight.

Oh, blessed tonight.

Skye was outside barely five minutes and was sprayed in the face. And she ran through the Cottage before I realized it, her eyes on fire.

To the dollar store I went for hydrogen peroxide, air freshener and gloves. Then I burned her with water that was too hot. And she shook and the mixture got in my eye. And now I'm trying to get the Cottage smelling right.

Why can't skunks eject a flowery odor out of their asses?

It's possible the skunks are going to make me cry.

I'm tired, exhausted really.
I always cry when I'm tired.

It's supposed to be 35 tonight; it's currently 56 in the Cottage. I have the fan going and the doors and windows open in an attempt to air everything out. I discovered that porous plastic is a trap for skunk odor so there's a lot of shit in my yard right now. By a lot, I mean, Skye's crate and several plastic tubs that were retaining skunk smell.

There's a rule in the Cottage. You retain skunk odor - you get dumped in the yard.

I washed my dishes, the few of them, because it felt good to do something simple and with tangible results. Skunk odor has rendered my cleaning efforts pointless. I just scrubbed the kitchen floor on my hands and knees with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap. Did it work? Nah.

Tomorrow is a new day, right? A new day that does not involve going to work for the first day in several days. This is good for the rejuvination of my soul.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

on mornings like these

Paragraph One: It's a beautiful morning here. I'm sitting at my desk (that isn't my permanent desk) and I'm looking out the front of the Cottage. It's a beautiful view. And I think it might be time to cut the grass. My excuse for not doing it is that, first of all, it's February. You don't mow your lawn in February. And the length of the grass adds to the mystic aura of the Cottage.

Paragraph Two: In my old age, I've learned to enjoy slow mornings. I actually like getting up a couple hours before I have to leave and start rushing. It's my time to drink coffee, listen to my favorite morning radio station, play with Skye, put away the dishes I washed the night before and pack my lunch.

Paragraph Three: Someone asked me yesterday what I do to rejuvenate myself. There isn't a magic thing. It's a lifestyle of little things added together. I read, write, I cook and clean. I take day trips and explore smaller-than-one-horse-towns. I train my dog and sit with her. I clean my car. Simple.

Paragraph Four: Skye always wants to go with me. She knows the morning will go one of two ways and she starts prepping my heart by sitting woefully by the front door with a despondent look on her face. Before I've gathered my stuff, if I say "crate" she'll sulk to her crate, get in, maybe pop back out real quick to see if I really meant it. But, if she can go with me, I don't say anything. I just get my stuff, walk towards the door and she starts spinning in circles in the air. She can't get to my car fast enough. This morning the routine started early. She won't leave my side. I guess this means she can go.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

the most prolific carrier of rabies

I know more about skunks than I should.

I know they like dog food.

They supposedly don't like srong odors.

They don't want to spray you, and they have to wait about 10 days between sprays.

They're most active on nights when the moon is most full (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights this week).

Males will travel 6 to 8 miles to get a piece of you-know-what.

They're crepuscular.

During mating season, they give off a scent that's different than their spray.

They only live about 3 years because they become road kill more often that not.

They're near sighted.

They have skeletal systems similar to most rodents.

They're diggers.

They're the most prolific carrier of rabies in the Midwest, and they carry other deadly diseases.


they're still under the Cottage.

I called in reinforcements this morning. After they woke me up at 2 a.m. with their shenanigans, I was waving my white flag.

I gave up trying to exterminator-woman.

I asked for help.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's possible I might have the touch

The inside of my nose was bleeding today.

I'm not going to say it was the odiforous aroma I've concocted, with the help of skunks, in the Cottage, but it is a coincedence.

Duly noted.

It's nearly 10:30 and the sounds that tormented me last night are gone.
For now.

It's amazing what happens when you plug the entrance(s).

So, I discovered that skunks are not nocturnal. They are crepuscular, meaning they come out at dawn and dusk. So who set their alarm for pre-dawn so she wouldn't miss the grand exodus?

This girl.

I was out wondering around cautiously in my yard, looking very suspicious, I'm sure.
I'm not sure what I was looking for at pre-dawn, but by the time the sun actually rose, I sprang to action. I piled up rocks and boulders around the holes, scraped gravel, and then set the live trap, which basically made me feel awesome and made for great conversation, but achieved nothing else.

The under carriage of the Cottage is silent - there is no love-making here tonight. If it were possible for a skunk to wave a white flag, I think they'd be waving theirs.

I win.

Be my subscriber...

...if you wanna.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Girl vs. Wild

I've shared houses with love-makers and I'm OK with it.

Have I walked in on two people consumating?

Have I heard things going on in rooms around me?

Have I not heard things going on in rooms around me and wondered if they ever did it?

Am I alright with the love-making situation going on under the Cottage at the present time?
Hell to the no.

Would I be able to sit comfortably in my warm bed if I could see the creatures that I hear under my floorboards right now?
*more emphatically* NO.

So, you've known, as have I, that creatures have lived under the Cottage. I use the past tense because I stopped hearing them and assumed they'd moved on. The dumbass that I am did not clog the hole.

It's night-time. 8 p.m. I go to bed. Exhausted.
Midnight. I'm awakened by tumbling and squeaks and fighting under my floorboards. Not only does it wake me up, but I can't go back to sleep.

I grab my broom.
Because that's what every 20-something single girl in a Cottage does.

I started with negative reinforcement. Every time I heard a squeak, I banged on the floor with the broom handle. Not one squeak went unbanged.

And then, as if on cue, every creature under the Cottage, however many there were, gave me the middle finger via their anal glands.

The entire Cottage erupted in one big skunk fart.

To say that I was stunned is an understatement.
I went back to bed.

I flexed some serious Google muscle and found out that white vinegar works wonders on skunk odor. I also learned that skunk scent is oil-based and therefore absorbs into your human pores. Your human pores. And that for days after being exposed to the smell, you'll catch a whiff of it and it's yourself.


One gallon of white vinegar later and the Cottage was glistening in pungent cleanliness. Next up: get rid of the skunks.

My idea was to poison them and I read that they are deathly allergic to chocolate. I also read that it hardens their blood and dries up their innards, making for a slow death best sped up by blunt force trauma to the head with a shovel.
Um, no.

In some states poisoning them is illegal.
I can't go to jail for skunks.

I could try trapping them. I have a trap and apparently they like dog food.
But if they are of the hog-nosed variety, they are impossible to trap.

I read that if you soak a rag in vinegar and put it outside at night, it will deter them.
So I soaked four paper towels and threw them out the kitchen window in the general vicinity of their entrance.

I also discovered that it's skunk mating season. And males will travel 4 to 6 miles to get to a female. And that they're getting it on right now under my bed.

I am traumatized. It sounds violent and not fun, and it stinks.
It all stinks.

My nose is so assaulted that it can't tell what the heck it's smelling anymore. Between skunk juice, vinegar and Febreeze, I've got some sort of chemical concoction going on that's probably HAZMAT worthy.

I'm afraid skunks are going to pop out of my air vent.
I'm afraid they're going to eat through the floorboard and attack me in my sleep.
I'm afraid they'll never come out.
I'm afraid I'm going to go to work and smell like either skunk or vinegar.

"I feel like a skunk stake-out is in order," I texted a friend. "Apparently they like dog food. Maybe I can coax them out and then clog the hole."

"Maybe," was her reply, and then more practically, "If you want you can come sleep on our couch tonight until someone can come fix it tomorrow."

I'm going to try the dog food. The dog food and the trap.

This isn't rocket science. This is me against nature, which, OK, probably resembles a NASA-approved formula for a spaceship launch, but I'm a patient hunter.

(Not really), but I'll getcha.

Or at least I'll try.

Armed with a broom...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

when you're this tired...

...you take your clothes off as soon as you walk through the door and you don't care where they land.
...you unclasp your bra and think that's all you have to do before it's off.
...you eat more pizza than you should.
...you push off work to tomorrow even though that means you technically won't have a day off this week.
...you mistake the aroma of chicken in the crock pot for dog shit.
...you wish for 8 p.m. to get here so you can go to sleep and not feel so lame on a Saturday night.
...you are so, so excited to sleep. Just sleep. And not set an alarm.

Friday, February 3, 2012

gently closing

I'm not a gentle person sometimes. I break a lot of shit because I get impatient. Just tonight I used my foot to (gently) press my front door shut (the frame swells in the humidity and today it was humid) and the door squashed a little. In my defense, it's a cheap door. Not hard at all.

The cowardly part of me wants to slam this week closed. Shut. Gone. Can I tell you it's been a terrible week?

Yes, there have been gem moments. Like last night when a very dear friend and a coworker joined me at a local bar to eat fried pickles and watch Murray State on the biggest TV in the place. That was a great three hours.

Other hours, other moments have not been great, and those are the ones the cowardly part of me wants to dismiss. You did not exist.

But to do that means to slam a proverbial door on the being who held my hand, or at least nustled it, through nearly every milestone in my young adult life. I can't slam the door on him.

Everyone has been so gracious and kind with their words. Friends are calling at all hours, texting and Facebooking....some remembering him with me, others sympathizing, others saying they were so glad to have met him just last weekend.

Are you okay?

Yes, I am.
I am okay because he was in my life.
I am okay because he made it okay. He made so much good.

I cry when I get home. I'm crying now. It's what he meant to me, what he represented, who he was that gets me. And then wrapped around the fact that he's gone. Zeb is gone.

I can't slam the door on this week.

I'm gently closing it, but I'm leaving it open a crack. I'll want to come back and remember. The brave part of me will always come back, will always revisit.

I'm leaving the proverbial light on, too.


There's something about these words that I want to be perfect.
I want to describe the way he knew my soul.
I want you to see me, 15 years old, laying in my bunk bed in a travel trailer, him next to me, my hand making even strokes across his side until he fell asleep.
I want you to watch that same hand, now 28 years old, caressing, massaging the same side. Except this time I was telling him, "It's okay. You can go if you need to."

And he did.

The same noble way he insisted on walking ahead of me always and the way he looked at me when I helped him stand up when he was stiff - thankful, but stoic - is the same way he left. He tried to stand up when I stopped petting him and went into the house. And then, when I came back, moments later, he was gone.

He left exactly how, selfishly, I wanted him to. I wanted him home, with me, peaceful. I wanted it to end how it all started 13 years ago.

I sat with him for a long time - same hand, same side.

There is so much about him to say, so much to talk about, so many memories, so many things I'll say later, but for right now, I miss him.

And the tears just keep falling.