Three Baby Skunks and a Birthday Party

I smelled it as soon as I walked through the front door; that one-of-a-kind-forget-me-not smell. That worse than the worse ever smell that fumigates your car nearly chokes you to death and lingers for miles and miles down the road. So, yeah. I knew there was a skunk in the house.

Like a bloodhound, I searched for the culprit. And there, sitting on the couch giggling like two mischievous imps were my brothers playing with three, bushy-tailed baby skunks.

I like wild animals; even wanted a raccoon once. But never a skunk! But they were so cute. So, after much whining and pleading my parents said we could keep them for a little while in a box outside.

Oh, the plans that we made for our baby critters. We’d name them and care for them and show them to our friends. We’d be the envy of the neighborhood. The talk of the town. The kids with the baby skunks.

The next day, however, the charm of owning a skunk soon wore off. So I decided to give mine to my best friend, Florence who was older and more experienced at caring for animals. After all, she took in every stray dog in the neighborhood. And besides, it was her birthday.

But, for some odd reason, Florence wasn’t as thrilled about receiving the cute little guy as I was giving it to her. And her mother was even less enthused. I could tell by the way the house shook and the windows rattled when she yelled, “Get that thing out of my house!

Mrs. Morgenstern served four years in the Waves, had tattoos on both of her muscular arms, and was as intimidating as a Grizzly Bear. Not even the Godfather would have had the guts to question her authority.

“I just wanted to give it to Florence for her birthday,” I whimpered. “Besides, he doesn’t have a stink bag yet.”

“GET THAT THING OUT OF MY HOUSE!”

She must have scared the little guy cause on the way home, he bit me.

Then he bit me again.

And again.

This time, he wasn’t fooling. I jerked my hand away and landing safely on all fours he raised his bushy tail and fired!

Suddenly, like a mud-wallowing pig, I was saturated from head to toe with an indescribable, eye-watering, breathtaking stench of awful that I never want to smell up close again.

A normal kid would have left it there.

But I wasn’t a normal kid.

Covering my mouth and nose with one hand and grabbing the back of the skunk’s neck with the other, I ran home. No, I flew home!

Confused and nearly blinded by the ghastly fumes, I staggered into the kitchen where my dad sat eating a bowl of cereal.

He was a Clint Eastwood kinda guy; fearless, quiet and reserved. Even now, standing before him, feeling like an idiot smelling worse than a cesspool with a baby skunk dangling from my hand, he never flinched. Barely batted an eye. Motionless as a corpse. And as if he needed the slightest explanation, I whimpered, “He sprayed me, daddy.”

Calmly, he took a bite of cereal and said, “You need to get it out of here.”

Mom stripped me down and nearly threw me into the tub of hot, soapy water where I scrubbed and sniffed till my skin was blood-red and my nose was burning. But like a tick on a dog, the stink had latched on and was there to stay for who knows how long.

That evening I went to Florence’s birthday party smelling like a skunk.

Everyone kept their distance but was gracious enough not to tell me I stunk like a skunk.

I was back in Mrs. Morgenstern’s graces and never took another skunk to her house again.

My brothers and I set the skunks free.

And if someone ever tells you baby skunks don’t have a stink bag . . . don’t believe it!

~ Sandi

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It’s Funny, But Not Funny Ha, Ha

I’m not the only one with this neurotic disorder. I know because I went online to see if there was even a name for it. And there it was. Trichotemnomania, a disorder characterized by compulsive hair cutting or shaving. It is often triggered by intrusive ideas or stressful experiences.

It’s scary having a disorder I can’t even pronounce but at the same time, I’m relieved knowing that I’m not crazy all by myself.

And for me It goes way back; as far back as the time that I made all my Barbie dolls look like Ken and our neighbor’s ten-year-old look like a skinned cat after cutting his hair with the electric clippers. I watched mom cut my brothers’ and daddy’s hair so much that I was sure I knew how. I did okay till I removed the attachment to get it just a little shorter. I should have stopped while I was ahead. But his dad liked it, so it was all good.

Then I began bugging mom to cut my long, red hair; an absolute no-no according to my grandmother who only had her hair cut once in her entire seventy-something years.

Finally, to shut me up, mom got out her big silver shears and cut it. I felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my scrawny shoulders.

From there it escalated from mom cutting my hair to me cutting my hair. After all, I had plenty of experience.

When I was a teen I wanted everyone’s hair but my own. Every Sunday at church I sat behind Freda, drooling over her short, dark wavy hair neatly combed back into a drake’s tail. She was beautiful, like a China doll, with big brown eyes, thick dark lashes and porcelain complexion.

And I’d sit there thinking if my hair looked like hers, I would be transformed from an awkward, ugly duckling to a beautiful, graceful swan. My freckles would disappear, my straight, unruly red hair would become dark and wavy, and I would finally like the gawky kid looking back at me in the mirror.

Thus began my full-blown hair obsession. I’d cut it, color it, curl it, tease it, and spray it. Some mornings I’d spend hours doing and redoing my hair till it was perfect. Other days I’d get so angry and frustrated that I’d throw my hairbrush across the room and cry. And yes, most mornings I was late for work in spite of getting up at four in the morning to be at work by seven.

I bought wigs to cover the shame of cutting my hair too short. But, even my wigs weren’t safe with a pair of scissors in my hand.

Beauty School taught me the do’s and don’ts of cutting hair, but I taught myself how to use the electric clippers.

That’s when I really got crazy. There’s just something about the sound and smell and feel of the clippers in my hand, especially when I’m feeling stressed and anxious. A coworker once told me that she knew how stressed I was by the length of my hair. So when I’d come to work wearing a ball cap, she was tempted to call the Mental Health Hot Line.

One time my husband hid my clippers, but I hunted till I found them.

I could go on and on telling you how I’d stay up all night cutting my hair, but that would really make me look stupid. And I could tell you that I like wearing my hair short, and laugh when strangers ask me if I have cancer and little kids asking me if I’m a girl, but I’m afraid you’ll think I belong in the loony bin.

But I can tell you that I’m okay with cutting and wearing my hair short and that when I screw it up I slap on a ball cap till it grows out and I begin the madness again. And I don’t mind telling you that my family laughs at me, and that’s okay because I laugh harder at myself.

So yes, I admit to having OCD. But, believe it or not, I’m dealing with it. I take medication, which sometimes isn’t enough and I feel like getting good and drunk. But I did that once and got so sick I swore I’d NEVER do it again! Besides, I can’t stand the stuff.

OCD is painful. It messes with my mind, heart and soul. It cripples and enslaves and makes me feel like I belong in a freak show. I’m restless, my mind races, my insides feel like a bomb exploding and I wonder why I was even born. I question if God really loves me, I’m so messed up. Some days I can’t stop crying, other days I’m so depressed I think I’d be better off dead.

I pray and read my Bible. I talk to family and friends and realize that they love me in spite of my insanity. Most of all, I continue working on myself. Medication alone can’t fix everything that’s wrong; I wish it did. And although God doesn’t remove the thorn in my side, He gives me the strength to bear it. Sometimes, like the one set of footprints in the sand, He carries me till I can walk on my own.

I couldn’t make it without God and family and friends. They’ve been there, helping me pick up the pieces of my life, loving me, encouraging me, and seeing me through the darkest shadows of despair. I’m thankful and blessed that God loves me so much that He never leaves my side.

So does that mean I’m throwing away my clippers? Are you crazy?

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrong Assumptions

Hubby and I were at Wal-Mart the other day and ran into a friend we hadn’t seen in a while. As we were standing in the aisle talking, a lady pushing an empty buggy stopped and gave me a great big, I-think-I-know-you smile. I didn’t know her, but I smiled back because that’s what southerners do. Then, in broken English, she said, “Can I talk to you?”

Dumbfounded, I pointed at myself and said, “Me?”

Like a kid sent to the principal’s office, I shuffled toward her, wondering what she could want with me. The last time a stranger got all friendly with me like that asked me to buy her one of the two jackets she had draped across her arm.   

Standing beside her she wrapped a hefty arm around me, pressed her lips against my ear and whispered slowly, “Do you have cancer?”

Suddenly, I was back at Lowe’s checking out, my little pink cap covering my buzzcut and the cashier’s sympathetic words ringing in my ears, “Keep up the good fight!”

All my life I’ve kept up the good fight against injustice, against discrimination, against abuse, but never against cancer.

Laughing I said to my amazon captor, “I did have cancer, but I don’t anymore. I just like wearing my hair short.”

She must have thought I was in denial because she wouldn’t release me and insisted I drink a particular type of water. I can’t tell you what it is because she said it was a secret. But the real reason I can’t tell you is that I couldn’t understand her. So after the third, embarrassing “huh?” I just smiled and pretended I understood every incoherent word.

Standing too close for comfort now I looked into her big, droopy brown eyes and straining to make sense of her blundering words, I wondered if she was on medication or drugs. But more than anything I wanted this confusing encounter to be done and over.

But she wasn’t done with me yet. Nope! With her arm tightening around my waist, she told me I had to eat something too. Could have been roadkill for all I know, or a toad. Even if I knew what it was I wasn’t eating it . . . ever!

This concerned soul was so convinced that I had cancer and that she had a magical cure that I feared she was going to perform voodoo magic right then and there. But, to my relief, she released her arm from around my waist, smiled real big and said, “I want you to drink that water and eat (whatever she told me it was) because I want to see your pretty face when I come back to Wal-Mart.”

I don’t think I’m going back to Wal-Mart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nobody’s Perfect!

I think it started at conception because I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t pushed around by a perfectionist bully and it screaming in my ears, “You gotta be perfect to be loved and accepted in this world. Nobody likes a failure!”

Nobody told me that it was okay to make mistakes, that they’re all part of growing up and learning and discovering who I am. Nobody told me that not everyone performs at the same level; that we all enter this world wrapped with our own special talents and skills.

So it was really tough for me in school; especially when it came to Math. How I hated Math! Made no sense to me whatsoever. And how painfully vivid I remember sitting at my desk in the third grade, the sweetest teacher I ever had trying her darndest to help me understand the stupid problem glaring at me from the page. But what she didn’t understand was how hard I was trying and how utterly embarrassed and angry and frustrated I felt until I plopped my head on my desk and cried. Exasperated, she shook her head and walked away leaving me crying and feeling like the dumbest kid in the class.

And to make up for my failure in becoming a mathematician, I dared not ever turn in my homework with eraser marks all over it. No, sir! I kept redoing it, over and over, wasting time, energy, and paper till I got it right; no eraser marks, no wrinkles, tears or smudges. One hundred percent perfection.

I could go on and on about the wreckage perfectionism caused throughout my life, but this short post would become a thousand page novel. Instead, I want to share how I’m gradually accepting the cruel hard fact that I am not and never will be perfect.

It started with my sweet daughter-in-law. No, she hasn’t bribed me and doesn’t even know I’m writing this post. She is the most well-rounded, self-confident person I know with a bubbly, joyous attitude that brightens any room she enters.

And besides being a faithful, dedicated, top-notch nurse, wife, mother and grandmother, she’s not overly bothered with crooked pictures hanging on the wall, dirty laundry, and dishes in the sink; unlike her perfectionist mother-in-law. She spends her time and energy enjoying life instead of agonizing whether or not every hair is in place before sticking her head out the door.

So do positive, non-perfectionist people really have an effect on others? Well, let’s see: I’ve got dirty dishes in the sink, an unmade bed, and dirty laundry. The screen on my back porch is torn, the deck is green from algae, and my carpets are pee-stained in every room. Oh, and the toilets are yelling, “CLEAN ME!”

And I have to say that, although I’m still a perfectionist-junky, I am gradually kicking the habit. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to jump up, wash those dirty dishes, stick a load of clothes in the washer, and make up the bed. And it surely doesn’t mean that I’m jumping up and down with joy that things are old and falling apart that we can’t afford to fix right now. What I am saying is that I’m learning to live in peace with it.

So what does perfectionism do for you? Well, if you enjoy being tied in knots every day of your life; feeling like a total failure; afraid to do anything for fear of not doing it perfectly; comparing yourself to others; tossing and turning all night because you did or said something wrong; working yourself to death, getting ulcers, and making others miserable, then it goes above and beyond tearing your life apart.

I thank God that He has put all the right people in my life that have taught me to love myself, defects and all, and to stop being so hard on myself. I’m thankful that I no longer feel like I’m being scrutinized under a microscope when I enter a room full of people. And I’m thankful that, although my childhood was miles from being perfect, God gave me the parents He wanted me to have, that one day, in His own perfect timing, He would reveal His perfect love and forgiveness to me.

Okay, I just couldn’t stand it anymore. It’s 11:34 pm and I just got back from tossing the dishes in the dishwasher and wiping the stove, and countertops. But, I didn’t scrub the kitchen sinks till my fingers bled, and all the other chores are still waiting in line, so I’d say I’ve made some progress today. Not bad since I used to scrub and clean every single day and still feel my house wasn’t clean enough. I can honestly say those days are far behind me, except for an occasional relapse. But hey, nobody’s perfect!

 

 

 

It’s a Pain in the Feet!

It started ten years ago with numbness, mostly in my left foot, and my right foot feeling as though I had a marble in my shoe when I jogged. But, because I stubbornly believed and still believe that moving is good for the body, I continued jogging for seventeen years. No, I’m not a glutton for pain, I just learned to push through it. I’m tenacious that way.

A few years ago, however, my feet, mostly my left foot, have advanced from numbness to swelling, redness, stinging and burning like they’re in a fire pit.

My doctor started me out on 1000 mg. of Vitamin B12. Doesn’t help my foot pain but helps prevent anemia so I have to keep taking it.

Then came the trial and error of anti-seizure medications, one of which was Lyrica. Well, if I needed more meat on my bones, which I don’t, gaining twenty pounds in four weeks would have been a great side effect. And since depression has been a demented tag-a-long most of my life, Lyrica, along with all the other costly so-called-pain relievers with their hateful side-effects no longer line my medicine cabinet.

So what do I do for my poor, pitiful feet? I freeze them to death in cold water, sleep with my feet sticking out from the covers, and walk barefoot around the house. In the winter, I walk outside on the deck barefoot and stand there till they quit burning.

The weird thing with neuropathy is that my feet don’t burn and sting twenty-four-seven, which is a blessing. During the day, like right now, they feel like normal feet; you know, feet that aren’t screaming their toes off. But let evening come when I want to lay down and cuddle with my dogs and watch Forensic Files on Netflix (I hate stupid commercials), my feet begin screaming like two spoiled brats demanding my full attention.

And they won’t shut up till I drag myself out of bed, fill a basin with cold water and sit and soak my feet till they’re numb. Then they’re good to go . . . till they thaw out.

So this is my three to four times daily routine when I’m at home. When I’m out shopping all day, my feet throbbing and burning, even in my high-dollar shoes, that’s another song and dance. What keeps me from going insane are visions of icebergs floating in my little white basin and plunging my naked feet into the freezing water when I get home.

Sometimes the pain is so unbearable that I feel like cutting off my feet. Then I’d probably suffer phantom pain the rest of my life with no relief at all since I’d have no more feet to soak. It’s a lose-lose battle.

And I have to tell you, neuropathy is no respecter of persons either. It doesn’t just pounce on diabetics; I’m living proof of that. Hubby’s diabetic but doesn’t have neuropathy and I’m glad he doesn’t; I just wish I didn’t!

So that’s my sob story for today. I guess my last words would be that I’d rather suffer pain I can tolerate and control than getting hooked on painkillers with worse side-effects than the pain itself.

Maybe one day there will be a cure for neuropathy, until then, I’ll just keep soaking my feet in ice-cold water in my little white basin till I can’t feel them anymore.

One Week Down

My Four-Legged Babies

It’s 2:10 pm and hubby and both dogs are still sound asleep. I thought of waking them, but it’s so peaceful and quiet that I changed my mind.

Bella and Pepper have been driving me nuts! For three years, Bella was the only child; potty trained, and over her chewing the furniture and pillows stage. But, after rescuing Pepper a year ago, our house hasn’t been the same. Oh, the couple loves each other, that’s for sure. But, even as sweet and gentle and dainty and loving as Pepper is, she brings out the worst in Bella; our hyperactive-tough-as-pig iron problem child. She’s more hyper, more mouthy, and has reverted back to peeing and pooping on the floor as if to say, “Pepper does it, so I can too!” Oh, and Bella’s a digger. She’s dug holes she can stick her big head into all over the backyard! And she thinks she’s a lap dog, now. A lap dog that takes up three and a half laps to sprawl on. I feel like I’m raising two kids instead of two dogs.

Well, Pepper and Bella are separated for now. Pepper was spayed Tuesday and hubby brought her home yesterday saying she has to be kept quiet for two weeks. That means two weeks of no jumping up and down like a kangaroo, and wrestling Bella to the floor and taking off with her chew toy. Two weeks of no racing Bella to their food bowl, and dancing around like a ballerina. She’s either in her crate or Bella’s in hers.

And I have to say, It’s the calmest and least frustrated I have felt in months. Hubby has a ton of tolerance, I have NONE! So yeah. I’m letting them all sleep as long as they want to today . . . and maybe tomorrow and the next day as well!

A Child’s Tea Party

 

Sitting in the large Victorian parlor with its high ceilings and antique furniture, was my grandmother and four of her dearest friends. Being a part of such classy women with their braided buns and hair nets and ankle-length dresses was the highlight of my growing up years. Sometimes I would sit at my table and color, listening to their hushed tones echoing through the room. Other times I would sit quietly, my eyes bouncing from one face to the other wondering why old people get so wrinkled.

But this day, I didn’t want to color or just sit and observe. This day I wanted to be as sophisticated as the Queen herself. Not that I didn’t enjoy having tea with my dolls. They were always willing participants. But this day I wanted real live people at my tea party.

Cup after cup made its way around the circle of women, each one swallowing the cool, clear liquid and smacking their lips with delight.

I felt so proud.

Suddenly, wondering where I was getting the water since I couldn’t reach the kitchen sink, my grandmother followed me and watched in horror as I dipped my dainty little teacup into the commode!

I think that was the last tea party I ever had at my grandmother’s house. Come to think of it, I think that was the last tea party ever!

For the Love of a Canine

Passing cage after smelly cage, dog after sad-eyed dog,

My hopes, like fat droplets of rain splattering to the dingy floor,

I thought we’d never find the one. I wanted to leave. Then we spotted her

Curled in a ball like a lonely forsaken fawn on a thin ragged blanket

In the middle of the large, cold and desolate cage.

When she saw us standing there, she sprang to life and came running,

Her tail wagging furiously. Oblivious to the deafening barking

And howling echoing throughout the heart-sickening kennel, she jumped

Up and down like a bouncing kangaroo as if auditioning for the role of a lifetime.

Unable to resist her persistent charm, we cracked the cage door, and barely

Clasping the leash to her collar, she pulled my seemingly drunken husband

Through a crowd of bystanders straight to the doggie playground outside.

Squinting against the bright sunshine, we unfastened her leash and like a flash,

She raced around the playground, sniffed a few tattered toys scattered around,

Then like a playful cheetah came charging full speed towards me.

Unable to stop, she slid completely under my chair, backed out,

Snuggled close beside me and plopped her head on my lap.

That’s when I decided that having a Greyhound mix won’t be so bad.

However, since adopting her that day, I’ve questioned my sanity,

Wondering if I would survive this long-legged, faster than lightning,

Over-active, sassy, jittery, destructive chewing, hard-to-potty-train canine.

Now, nearly a year later, Bella has become the absolute funniest, most adorable,

Loveable, playful, snuggling, heart-melting, four-legged joy of our lives!

Click on a picture to start slide show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opposites Attract

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He sees his man cave as orderly as a doctor’s office

I see the aftermath of a hurricane

He wants it done tomorrow

I want it done yesterday

He sees the bucket half full

I see it half empty

He’s cool calm and collect

I’m as nervous as a jack-rabbit

He thinks before he speaks

I spew it out and think about it later

He loves a crowd

I’d rather have a tooth pulled

He likes being on center stage

I hide behind the curtain

He likes sleeping late

I like seeing the sun rise

He likes to cook

I’d rather clean the toilet

He thinks country music is soothing to the soul

I think it’s like fingernails raking across a chalkboard

On and on I could go

But there’s no point

Because with all our differences

Like a crazy quilt of many colors and patterns

Our hearts have intertwined as one

Creating a beautiful

Sometimes crazy marriage

That has not frayed or faded in forty-five years

So I guess opposites really do attract!