Thursday, August 29, 2013

It Stinks Being an Empty Nester

This past weekend was an emotional one as we moved Kelsey into her dorm at Lyndon State College in Vermont.  A lot of anxiety on Kelsey’s part, employing our abilities to be carriers of heavy objects up three flights of stairs, coaches and cheerleaders, but we got through it.  Now to face the reality of our new role as Empty Nesters.   After twenty-two years of centering my life around those of my children, what to do?

Monday morning.  Jay is scheduled for an umbilical hernia repair at Pequot Medical Center at 6:30 am.  He conveniently waited until after Kelsey’s move-in date.  A minor procedure, one I reminded him that I’ve had done on the occasional kitten at the same time it goes in to be spayed or neutered.  The kittens bounce right back, so a week of sick leave seems like overkill.  Nonetheless, I met the doctors beforehand and was asked if I would be waiting or wanted to be called.  Hmmm.  Would I have enough time to do some necessary grocery shopping, including driving home to put the food away?  The store, the medical center, and our house were all within a ten minute drive.  Absolutely, the nurse told me.
As I rounded the aisles at Stop n’ Shop, it was a bittersweet feeling.  For the first time in two years, I was able to freely select food that had gluten in it.   Both of my children have Celiac Disease so their gluten free diet has changed my approach to shopping and dining.  I splurged and picked up some deli rolls.  I also got a package of tilapia, not because it’s a gluten-containing fish, but because Kelsey is a picky eater.  We now have more options for our dinner table without kids to consider. 
I quickly finished shopping and got home, letting the dogs out for a quick potty break while I put groceries away.  It had been an hour and a half since I’d left my husband in his johnnie and paper shower cap so I figured I had just enough time to get back.  The nurse called then and said Jay was just getting out, take my time.  I said I’d be there in ten minutes. 
I called the dogs, but they seemed to have disappeared.  I figured our Golden Oldie Chardonnay was trolling for treasures (chicken poop) and went outside to find them.  I didn’t see the dogs, but I smelled a distinct aroma…of skunk.  I heard our energetic young mutt Cory barking down the driveway by the stone wall and I knew.  We were skunked.
It’s never convenient for your dogs to challenge a skunk, but when you’re trying to get back to the medical center, you don’t have time to deal with two stinky dogs.  This is the first I’ve ever had to deal with a skunked dog and I did what most people would do…I freaked.  All I knew was that I needed to leave, but what to do with the dogs?  Cory was rubbing her face on the door mat, her muzzle covered in a path of slobber from the irritating spray.  There was no doubt she’d been sprayed head on.  I wiped her eyes with a wet paper towel and put her in her crate.  At least that should keep the little instigator from contaminating anything else, I thought.  Chardonnay didn’t seem to have taken a direct hit.  I don’t have a crate for her anyway so I had to take my chances. 
Remembering the nurse telling me to take my time, I figured I’d use an extra 15 minutes to visit Pet Supplies Plus for some magic skunk odor remover rather than drag Jay with me in a drugged-up state.  I got there right as the doors were opening, desperation in my eyes, skunk smell on my clothes.  They were out of de-skunker.  Now I not only felt rushed, but I was irritated with the world.   Everyone was in my way, the lights were all red, and I stank.  My car stank.  Obviously, one can be victimized by a skunk just by walking through the invisible mist they leave floating in the air.  I received a text from Kelsey, letting me know that she needed me to mail her bobby-pins (the good kind), tank tops, her hair dryer and an assortment of other needs.  I took a moment to tell her to get a ride with her roommate and go shopping for herself.
I was so distracted by my skunk thoughts, that I missed the turn for the medical center and didn’t realize it until a couple of miles later.  My exasperation screamed as I turned the car around.  I’ve only been to Pequot a million times (usually for Kelsey), so how could I miss it?  Once there, I was escorted back to my groggy husband who was holding an ice pack to his belly.  He looked up as I walked in.  “I smell skunk.” 
“Funny thing happened while you were in surgery.”
The nurse helped Jay into our van and poked her head in.  “Oh yeah, I can smell it.”
As I pulled into our driveway, Tyler called, panicking because he thought his student loan was still messed up.  Not a good time.  It’ll be okay.  Whatever happened to not having to deal with children?
After I got Jay upstairs and settled into bed, I set back out in search of de-skunking solution.  Petco was also out; not a good sign when the manager said he’s been trying to get more in for two weeks.  PetSmart, my third attempt, had two bottles of Natures Miracle De-skunker left.  I bought both.
I tied the dogs out and covered them in the solution, roughly scrubbing Cory and lecturing her that maybe the shivering cold well water from the hose would teach her to leave pretty black and white rodents alone.  After the baths, my back was killing me and my jeans were soaked, but I was relieved to find that at least the de-skunker solution worked.   The dogs didn’t even smell doggy.
Next, I had to tackle the smell in the house, but it was hard to tell what part of that came from my own clothes and what was from a dog touching various surfaces.  I left my clothes outside as the washing machine was already occupied by the dog bed and the door mat, mopping the floor in my skivvies wherever the dogs’ path had crossed.  I even used the Nature’s Miracle on the back door and my purse.   After I finally showered, I was able to breathe more freely.
From the bed, Jay expressed feeble remorse that he wasn’t able to help me bathe the dogs and de-stink the house.  I was so taking his Percocet with a shot of vodka after this. 

Coraline the Skunk Hunter


  1. OMG...Sharon I could not stop laughing, I'm sure this is not a laughing matter but the way you tell it, it's priceless. I can just picture this! Hope Jay is feeling better, Love!

  2. Percocet and vodka. Yum!

    Having dogs around probably eliminates any chance you have of enjoying a visit from skunks. Years ago, a mother skunk made a lovely nest under my house in Carrollton, Texas, and the baby skunks were adorably cute.

    1. Howard,

      I remember that! I haven't even seen the skunk so it really is like an invisible predator that seaps into my senses.

  3. What a pain! :-(

    Great story, but it leaves me with so many questions:
    1. Is there such thing as a skunk repellent? Traps? Deportation? (They are illegal aliens, aren't they?)
    2. Did Kelsey get her bobby pins (the good kind, whatever that is) and stuff?
    3. Did Tyler get the loan issue squared away?
    4. Has Jay recovered?
    5. Has Jay been in horrible pain since you stole his Percocet?

  4. I am worn out! It is so hard to be two places at once....and it is hard having an empty will get better. Promise

  5. can you explain about tilapia and gluten? i tried googling it and nothing came up. i am very interested.

    1. My point in mentioning tilapia is that because it's a seafood, my daughter doesn't like it. Like all meats, it doesn't have gluten unless it's breaded. My daughter's pickiness just makes feeding her that much harder now that she had Celiac. Sorry for any confusion.

  6. I am going to have to read your blog more often! Such a great story!