Because Voting Matters, As Do Skunks

On election day, my husband was preparing to take our youngest to school about the same time I was preparing to go vote before heading to work. He let the dog out to potty and then opened the hatchback of his car for her to jump in. She loves to go with him.

As I approached the polling place, my phone rang. It was my husband.

“Did you vote?” he asked.

“I’m on my way to vote,” I said. “Why?”

His voice conveyed his agitation as the words tumbled out. “Rose got sprayed by a skunk! She was in the car and then she got sprayed!”

“She got sprayed while she was in the car?!” I interrupted.

“No! She was in the car and then I went in to tell Hal something and she apparently saw a skunk. I don’t have time for this. I have to get Hal to school!”

“Do you want me to do something,” I asked hesitantly, glancing down at my nice dress clothes and crossing my virtual fingers.

“No,” he finally said. “Just go ahead and vote. I’ll figure it out. I’m just going to leave her outside right now.”

“Ok, honey. I love you.”

With that, I got out of the car and entered our polling station to vote. It was about 7:30 in the morning, 30 minutes after they opened.

I should explain that I live in Texas and my polling place is in a sparse rural area. The Democrats always have the table to the right of the entrance, right next to the wall. The Republicans have the more prominent spot in the center of the room to the left of the entrance.

I am an independent. I have never registered for a political party and for years never voted in a primary because of that. But in Texas, if you want to have a say, it has to be in the Republican primary. At least for now, whoever wins that goes on to win the general election. And there were some local races that I had opinions on.

“Republican or Democrat?” asked one of the Republican pollsters. There were two each, a man and a woman from each party.

I gave the same nuanced answer that I always give: “I’m voting in the Republican primary.”

The Republicans looked harried. They were rifling through boxes that were stacked on the table.

“Can I see your ID?” asked the Republican woman.

I showed it to her; she looked me up in her list, and then highlighted my name.

“I need you to sign in,” she said, motioning to the roster before resuming her search through the boxes.

I don’t know how it is other places, but our roster has three columns: one for what I assume is a unique number, one for your printed name, and one for your signature. The signature block is upside down. The idea is that they don’t have to turn the roster back and forth. Instead, they write in your number and print your name. And then you just sign from your side of the table, making your signature upside down as compared to your printed name.

Now, I didn’t remember this clearly when she told me to sign my name. I looked down at the roster and there was one name already there with a signature that I couldn’t read. She didn’t write my name or my number and the paper was backwards. The printed name was facing me and the signature was upside down. As I tried to remember how it worked (since I wasn’t receiving direction), I thought maybe the polling person signed that I was who I said I was. Seems silly now but I’m really not supposed to be left to my own devices on this.

I printed my name below the other person’s name and asked if they were going to write a number in for me. I guess they didn’t hear me because she just asked, “Do you want paper or electronic?”

They seemed so frenzied that I responded, “Whichever is easier for you I suppose.”

“Electronic would be easier, I think” was her response. Followed by: “I don’t know how to do electronic. I don’t know how to work the machine!” She sounded a little panicked and she was talking to her fellow Republican pollster, not me.

“I’ll show you how to do it,” he said and walked to the other end of the room. She didn’t follow him but I did. After receiving my strip of paper and confirming that I had done this before, I waited for the other voter to finish. And listened to the conversation.

“I just don’t know where they are. I can’t find them!” he said.

“Did you look in the car?” she asked.

“Yes! They aren’t there.”

The Democrats were more relaxed. One of them asked, “What are you looking for?”

“The ballots. The paper ballots.”

My eyes went wide.

The Democrat patted a large metal box in front of him and said, “They should have been in a box. Like this one.”

I finished my voting and prepared to leave. The Republicans were still searching and setting up. Very busy. I smiled at the Democrats. “Have a nice day!” I said to the room.

“You look familiar,” said the Democrat man.

The Democrat woman responded to him, “Of course she does! She’s been here before. Many times.”

I smiled and said, “I recognize you too. You’ve been here all those times.”

We exchanged a few niceties and then I went out to my car. As I backed out of the parking space, I pressed the screen on my dashboard to call my husband. I didn’t really want to help with the stinky dog, but figured I should check in.

Just as he answered, the Republican woman came running out of the building waving her arms. “Wait! Wait!”

I rolled down my window. The Democrat woman was trailing behind her. The Republican said, “You didn’t sign the roster!”

“Oh, ok,” I said, pulling back in to park. “You had it upside down,” I then muttered, finally working out in my mind what was supposed to have happened.

The Republican sagged in relief.

Meanwhile, the Democrat had returned to the building, retrieved the Republican roster and a pen, and was now hurrying to my car. “Here,” she said. “You can just sign it out here so you don’t have to go back in.”

“Thanks,” I said, taking the paper and signing it although, I realized right as I did it, without turning it upside down first. So there I was, the second name on the voting roster and my name was going to be backwards of everyone else’s. Assuming they started running the table properly. Otherwise, maybe I set the tone and everyone followed suit.

I can’t know this for sure, but I can’t help but think that the friendly exchange with the Democrat caused her to go glance at the roster to see my name. And that she’s the one that pointed out to them that my signature was missing.

All’s well that ends well, I suppose. I hope they got their act together. When I called my confused husband back after having hung up on him the previous time, he let me off the hook on returning home to help with the stinky dog. And he later told me that by the time he got there that afternoon, at least, they had found the paper ballots.

Icy Hot…

My kids are resourceful and self-sufficient, often to a fault. Like this past Saturday.

Hal had taken the dog out on a leash and ended up falling on the gravel driveway when she took off suddenly. He had a mild scrape on his arm, noticeable but not much blood. He pointed it out to me and I said, “Yep. Looks like it hurts.”

Maybe I should have done more but honestly, it wasn’t that bad. And we were busy trying to get some important outdoor work taken care of before the thunderstorms arrived. But he’s nine and nine-year-olds need injuries to be worthy of medical treatment.

So when I later called to him and tasked him with moving some slender yet long pieces of wood, he arrived holding a wet paper towel against his lower forearm. He fussed, saying, “How? How? I can’t. I can’t. How am I supposed to do this?” For emphasis, he waved his elbows around to demonstrate neither hand was available.

“Put the paper towel away so you can use both hands. It’s not that bad,” I responded, glancing up at the darkening skies and pretending I didn’t feel little raindrops.

He did as he was told and then I lost track of him as I went about other tasks. Sometime later, I found myself on one side of the tractor, my husband sitting on it, and Hal and his brother on the other side. Hal had one of those extra-large Band-Aids on his arm but was still holding on to it, wincing and taking in sharp breaths. He seemed to be in even worse shape than before.

“What’s wrong with you?” his daddy asked.

“He scraped his arm on the driveway earlier. It wasn’t a bad scrape though,” I said.

“Well it hurts!” Hal said, “And now it really hurts even worse since I put some Icy Hot on it.”

There was a moment’s pause while we both processed what he had just said.

“Why did you put Icy Hot on it?” we asked. “You don’t put Icy Hot on wounds like that!”

“Yes you do! Icy to dull the pain and hot to relax it away,” he said with complete sincerity.

“That’s for your muscles!” my husband exclaimed, rubbing his bicep and shoulder in demonstration.

“Well I didn’t know!”

“Go wash it off, sweetheart. Wash it off quickly.”

My husband then turned his head to me. We locked eyes, each struggling between incredulity and humor.

Let me rewind to a couple of nights before real quick. Hal had melted down over the quantity of strawberry we expected to be consumed if he put them on his plate. He felt he was done if half the strawberry was consumed. We explained that he should eat all the red parts or he was wasting the fruit. The reaction was so strong and visceral that his siblings had openly laughed as he left the table. Their laughter had been contagious such that even as I struggled to not, I was dissolving into laughter as well. My husband had glared at us all, shamed us for laughing at him, and made us see it from little Hal’s perspective.

Ok, back to the tractor and the same little boy using Icy Hot on his scrape. My husband mouthed wow and we both started the parental silent laugh. That’s the one where the situation is hopelessly funny but it’s best if you don’t laugh. The same laugh I had failed to master with the strawberry incident. I looked to the ground to keep myself in check.

And that’s when I heard it. My husband has a full, loud laugh. When he really lets loose, it’s something to behold. I’m fairly certain that laugh followed Hal all the way back into the house.

Poor kid. Seriously though – funny enough that he had put that ointment on his wound. But knowing the product’s slogan and reciting it back to us put it all over the top.

Epic Fail. Again.

I have failed. Again.

I am truly and honestly a terrible tooth fairy.

Fortunately, my oldest child has a mouth full of permanent teeth and the middle one no longer believes so he cuts me a lot of slack as long as I eventually pay up. It’s the youngest who’s the problem. He believes, he’s currently shedding half the teeth in his mouth, and he does not appreciate his tooth fairy being so unreliable.

Yesterday was a very long and brutal work day for me. The kind of day where you come home comatose and just sort of ooze your way into bed as soon as possible. I didn’t get to do that, of course. I never do.

Hal showed me his tooth, which the cafeteria ladies had put in a Ziploc bag to take home with him. I suggested that perhaps he leave it on the dining room table to make it easier for the tooth fairy.

“No, I want it under my pillow.”

I suggested that he “hide” it in the candle sconce in the dining room to make it harder on the tooth fairy (as his older brother had done while coming to terms with the tooth fairy’s true identity).

“No! I want it under my pillow!”

Right. The pillow that’s covered with stuffed animals and blankets and sits on the top bunk. Tooth fairy should be able to extract the tooth and insert the money, no problem. *Sigh*

I got some double-sided tape and put it on the top edge of the bag. I then attached that to his bed at the top of the bunk stairs. He thought that was pretty cool. I was relieved. Now I’d just have to pull off the sneak. I wouldn’t have to conduct a search and rescue event beneath a sleeping child too. Oh, and remember. I’d have to remember to do it after he went to bed.

I forgot. Like, immediately. Twice. How do you forget twice, you ask? Simple. I attached it, walked out of the room, and didn’t think about it again. The boys brushed their teeth. I then returned to the room for hugs and kisses, noticed the tooth, and felt a great surge of a) guilt that I had already forgotten and b) relief that I had just been reminded. Then I walked out and didn’t think about it again.

Not at all. Not until this morning when my husband levied a censorious eye at me and said, “The Tooth Fairy had an epic failure last night.”

I bit my tongue to keep from telling him what I thought of this all riding on my little shoulders. Instead I asked how he handled it. Apparently, Hal had adopted a very sad face with droopy eyes and said, “The Tooth Fairy didn’t come…”

While my husband and I were discussing ways to overcome my mistake, Hal came in with an announcement: “I think I know why the Tooth Fairy didn’t come last night.”

“Why didn’t she come, honey?” I asked.

“Because Rose was in our room,” he explained. The dog has been sleeping in the boys’ room for the last couple of weeks.

Without missing a beat, my husband picked up the theory. “You know, I bet that’s why Rose was barking early this morning!”

“I bet you are right!” I said in awe. “I bet she was scared of the dog. Rose saw her and barked at her and scared her off!”

“Well that settles it,” Daddy concluded. “Rose will just have to sleep in her crate tonight so the Tooth Fairy can come.”

With that, Hal left the room, satisfied. My husband turned to me and said, “Boy, your butt got saved on that one!”

“Yeah,” I said, again not bothering to ask why it was only my butt on the line. And of course, Hal just tossed me a temporary lifeline. I still have to remember tonight.

Sometimes Life Stinks

There are definitely downsides to dog ownership. Like skunks. Skunks may very well represent the worst aspect of dog ownership. Hands down.

We’ve owned our dog for less than three years and have had to deal with at least 3 skunking incidents. Murphy makes sure that certain aspects of the occasion will always be true:

  1. It will most likely be dark when it happens.
  2. It is guaranteed to be at or near freezing outside.
  3. At least one of you will be occupied in such a way that you can’t imagine a worse possible time to deal with a skunked dog.

The first time she messed with one, she managed to kill it.  Unfortunately, it still sprayed her and it all happened just as my husband was preparing to herd the children out the door to head to school.  Not understanding how caustic the oils are, we tied her up outside so that he could run the kids in and I could go to work.  It wasn’t until we were both home that evening that we attempted to deal with her.  We learned our lesson that time.  You have to drop everything to deal with a skunked dog or a) she suffers discomfort and/or pain and b) the stink lingers longer.

Another time nearly saw the end of our marriage as we struggled to keep our cool after he woke me up in the middle of the night to help with the skunked dog.

And then there was last night.  Things were going well at first.  We all had a meal together at the table.  My husband ran Jane to her Destination Imagination practice.  I read to Hal and had the great joy of watching him take over the reading for the first time.  Then he had a great cello practice with his Dad.  Daryl practiced his viola.  All was going great.

Until it was time for my husband to leave to take Hal to basketball practice and pick up Jane.  Rose, the dog, was excited and hopeful about tagging along.  I remarked that he could take her with him and he said he planned on it.  But as soon as he opened the door and she ran out, he was yelling at her.  His frustration rose as he called to her and angrily deposited her back in the house, like he always does when she runs off instead of waiting for him by the car.

As she ran past me, I first noticed the ridge of hair along her back.  Obviously, she had been chasing something.  Then I noticed a bit of foam around her mouth and heard her snorting.  Then. Then I smelled it.  Just as she took off down to the boys’ room.  Within seconds, my husband opened the door.

“Did she get skunked?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, wrinkling my nose.

“I just smelled it,” he said apologetically.  He almost looked grief stricken and torn.  Hal was about to be late to his first ever basketball practice.  “Can you get Daryl to help?”

“Just go,” I said, as I headed to the supply box that had the extra bottle of hydrogen peroxide and the rubber gloves.  I called to Rose who ran into her crate.  I called to Daryl to get her on the leash and back outside.  I Googled the deskunking recipe.  I mixed the ingredients.  Daryl hurried in and said that Rose had been rolling on the grass and managed to unfasten her collar and run off.  He couldn’t see her since it was dark.

I grabbed the flashlight, found the discarded collar and leash outside, and chased down the dog.  Then he held her more tightly while I went back inside for the supplies.  We did the usual soap her up with peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap, rinse her (and us, incidentally) with the garden hose, wash her with the dog shampoo, and dry her the best we could.

At one point, as we struggled with a squirming, wet, stinky, bleeding (she rubs her face raw when this happens) dog, we heard a little chirping bark sound a little ways off.  Is that the skunk? I thought.  Daryl echoed my thoughts out loud.  The noises continued.  “I think that skunk is mocking us,” Daryl said.  I couldn’t help but agree.  I certainly felt mocked.

The brief times I had been in the house, I could tell that the house was going to stink to high heaven.  Not wanting to exacerbate the problem, I kept her outside.  Daryl and I stripped down and threw our clothes and his sheets in the washing machine.  We used the meager supply of Febreeze on the carpet and couch.  I attempted to dry off my best and newest pair of dress boots that I had been wearing when the incident occurred.

I wrote on the chore calendar that Daryl, who had clearly not been enjoying himself but never once complained or refused to do what I asked, had earned an extra $2.  When Jane returned home, I ordered her to fix Daryl some hot chocolate.  When I returned from picking up Hal, I sprayed Daryl’s bed, which stunk terribly, with the new bottle of Febreeze before pulling the guest mattress in their room for him to sleep on instead.

All in all, it was an exhausting and stinky evening.  Anyone want a dog?

Evolution of a Nap

Hal hasn’t been taking naps lately.  This is good practice for Kindergarten in the Fall, when he must face the rigors of a formal education without that pesky little distraction of sleep in the middle of the day.  He likes the new arrangement.  We aren’t quite sold on it.

Saturday, he was being a bit grouchy and we had made him go to his room for quiet time.  After quiet time, he had wandered into the living room and begun to pester the dog… who happens to still appreciate nap time.  A lot.

20140712_144207

What she doesn’t appreciate is non-napping youngsters bothering her during hers.  So she tolerated the snuggling and neck pulling for oh, about… 2 seconds, and then gave a little growling snap of protest, which prompted at least 2 people to call out sternly, “Hal!  Leave Rose alone!  You know better than that!”

Hal took a break for maybe 2 minutes and then had another go.  I scolded him and told him to return to his room.  He flopped on the floor.  I was busy with garage sale preparations so I didn’t notice right away.  This is what I found a little bit later:

20140712_144134I’m pretty sure this started as a pout.  But after awhile, I noticed that he wasn’t moving.  The pout had evolved into a nap.  Praise the Lord!

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The dragon stayed perfectly placed to give me a smile each time I walked through the room for some time.  But let’s face it; sleeping on the floor really isn’t all that comfortable.  Especially when there’s no carpet.  Even when you are a little guy.  So eventually the pout that had evolved into an impromptu nap evolved again.

20140712_152712And again.

20140712_161326And again.

20140712_161535And even though he was sort of in a main thoroughfare, we all tiptoed quietly around him and enjoyed the peace.  Except Rose, who stayed sprawled out on the couch… enjoying the peace.

 

 

 

 

Pavlov Shakes His Head

Our dog, Rose, has a crate.  It’s typically nestled back into a corner of the “big room” – this being an all-purpose office, library, sewing room, guest room, exercise space, photography area, and general junk storage.  She stays in the crate when we are not home and also at night when we go to bed.

She doesn’t dislike her crate.  Granted, if we are going somewhere, she’d rather go with us in the car.  And she’d rather sleep on her pillow in our bedroom at night (this is disallowed because I have issues with sleep and she snores).  But she likes her little den just fine.  She’ll even retire to it if she wishes to rest and we are in the big room.

She knows it’s time to get in her crate when she hears the treat bag rattle in the kitchen.  Wherever she is, when she hears the bag, she hops up and runs into the big room, climbs into her crate, turns around, and waits expectantly.  We give her the treat and shut the door.

Sometimes when we have company, the particular guest isn’t interested in sharing the room with the dog – even with the crate.  Such a scenario existed this past weekend so we chose to move the crate into the living room.

By Sunday evening, she had spent two nights in the crate in the center of the living room.  The kids went to bed and I sat down on the loveseat to fold laundry.  The long couch, where she usually lies, was empty.  But she didn’t jump up on the couch.  She trotted into her crate and curled up.

When my husband sat down on the couch, she glanced up at him but didn’t hurry over to be with him.  She was perfectly comfortable.  In fact, she spent the rest of the evening sleeping in the crate.

When it was time for us to retire to bed, I contemplated just shutting the door on the crate.  Before I had a chance to act on it, my husband started the usual ritual by opening the treat bag in the kitchen.

Rose’s head shot up.  She looked around.  And then she ran out of the crate and headed for the big room.  I stood there dumbfounded as I watched her disappear.  A few seconds later, she returned and hurried into the crate.  I know she’s just a dog, but I would swear that she had a rather sheepish look on her face.

Let’s Fix The Dog

Hal had a goody bag from his field trip that he was eager to show off when I arrived to pick him up from the preschool.

“Look, Mommy!” he cried, “We went to the place where you take dogs to get fixed!”

I raised my eyebrows at that. Interesting choice of focus, I thought. While spaying and neutering are important and certainly common at a veterinary clinic, it seemed a rather odd topic for a preschool field trip.

He stuck his right foot out in front of him, wiggled it, and then pointed to it. “Next time Rose hurts her foot, we need to take her there.”

Ahhh…. That kind of “fixing”. Okaaayy…