Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dixie and the Skunk

Yesterday morning, a little after 6 a.m., Dixie and I went out for her morning walk. As usual during that time of day, I let her off leash. We were sauntering along, not more than five minutes into it, me still half asleep and her sniffing something known only to her every two feet or so. All of a sudden she perked up, looked up and took off across the street.

At first I thought she was going after a cat. Then I saw it wasn't a cat at all. Dixie came to a stop about 4 feet away from the lifted tail and got a squirt of skunk juice right in the face. I came up after her, saying all too late, "Dixie, no!" And then there I was, standing in the midst of the odorous spray that was wafting over me. Dixie was sneezing as I pulled her away and back across the street.

We watched the skunk nonchalantly meander across the street, climb up over a short retaining wall and disappear into bushes ringing a neighboring house. Like two rubes, we stood there gawking - and stinking.

When I got back home I left Dixie out on the front porch, along with my coat and gloves. My first thought was that I could bury all three items for about a month to get rid of the smell but somehow knew that wouldn't solve my problem. So, instead, I got on-line.

I googled "eliminating skunk odor" and found a website of a veterinarian in Dallas, TX. On the website they had a remedy that had been developed to treat a cat that had been sprayed by a skunk. The remedy was: one quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda and a teaspoon of liquid soap mixed together. You then wash the pet in the solution. I only had a pint of hydrogen peroxide; however, I was desperate, it was 6:30 a.m. and I had to go to work. I knew if I didn't do something right then and there my house, my dog and me would be quarantined forever.

Getting out a mixing bowl, I dumped the peroxide in, shook out a quantity of baking soda, poured in some dishwashing soap and called it even. It was not a time for exact measurements.

I put Dixie in the bathtub, being thankful for having brushed her out really well the day before, and hosed her down. Boy, did she stink! Slowly and methodically I washed her with the solution, careful not to get it in her eyes, eventually dumping the rest of it all over her and rubbing it in with vigah (that's how they say vigor up here in the Bahstan areah).

After rinsing her off I smelled her and found that she only had the faintest of eau de phoofey. It worked!!

After work I went to the store, got two quart bottles of hydrogen peroxide (one as a reserve; you never know) and washed my coat, gloves and clothes in the solution. All of the smell came out of them, as well! Well, almost. The palm of one glove, the left one given that I'm left-handed, still smells. But, hey, I'm happy as a pig wait, wrong analogy.

I'm happy that I found a solution to a problem that I thought would be un-resolvable. And, knowing that it will probably happen again, I'm glad I have a remedy on hand that works.

Friday, February 22, 2008

New Home

Last week I moved to Watertown. Interestingly I went from 303 apt. 1 to # 7. Numerologically speaking, I moved from a seven to a seven, which is a mystical number and I'm glad I am able to have the same number.

I like my new place. It's the top floor of a two family and is a two bedroom. Newly renovated, it has all new windows, new woodwork and door frames, a new kitchen with all new appliances, and a new bathroom. On the down side, the steps up to the unit and the back steps down to the basement are steep, but typical of homes here in New England. I even have my own washer and dryer.

There's lots of light and views from all windows. I even have a front and back porch. Once warmer weather rolls around it'll be nice to sit out. The front porch faces south and the back porch faces north.

Today, as I write, there's a snow storm outside. We're expected to have 6 to 10 inches of snow by evenings' end. Fortunately, I'm able to telecommute and so don't have to drive in it.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Waltham Food Pantry

Yesterday, my co-worker JoAnn and I spent the afternoon volunteering at the Waltham Food Pantry. The Pantry is in a separate, stand-alone building behind and at the other end of the parking lot of the American Red Cross on Main Street.

The Pantry is open on Thursday afternoons and people in need can get free food. The people can only avail themselves of this much needed service once a month and it's for sure that the free food they get will likely last them not much more than a week; but, every little bit helps to get through the month.

Yesterday, the bags of donated food consisted of one bag each of potatoes, onions and cheese, five canned goods of vegetables and fruit, and a bag of dried food, that is, cereal and other grains. In addition, each person got a large piece of frozen salmon. Some people didn't, or couldn't, eat salmon and wanted a substitute but there wasn't any. In the end, everyone took was was given out, thanked us and went on their way.

I was kind of surprised to learn how extensive the need for this service was in Waltham. A watch factory town for 100 years, Waltham bills itself as the place where the industrial revolution began. Today, a bedroom community of Boston, it's a hard scrabble town with lots of people who are down and out. While I was there handing out the bags of food I'd earlier helped assemble, I noticed that many of the people coming in seemed to be regular folk who were just down on their luck.

JoAnn and I got there at noon and worked until 4 p.m. Our hosts this day consisted of David, Emily, Olga, and Carlos. Throughout the afternoon other volunteers came and went, helping to put together food bags. One was a retired banker, another a Brandeis student who, during lulls, studied Chinese and a couple more who quietly worked and then just as quietly left.

The Pantry is also able to function as a place where people can apply for food stamps. Apparently, they process many, many applications for food stamps. Olga sat at a desk the entire day entering applications into the computer. She looked like a typical busy, distracted office worker doing mindless work; however, it wasn't mindless and what she was doing was going to have a dramatic effect on a person's life. Her intensity seemed tinged with the true spirit of helping others who are in need of help.

It was an afternoon well spent, a really good experience and a sober reflection of one's life. At one point I remarked to Emily, who had these incredible pale blue eyes, that I hadn't ever done anything like this and was grateful for having had the opportunity to do so.

At the end of the day, we were invited to come back and volunteer again. The invitation, in itself a good feeling of knowing we'd helped, made me remember that we are all one and how important it is to be of service.

The volunteering wasn't about getting out of work, out of the office, for a day. It was about giving. About giving to people who need help, in this case, giving help to people who's mission it is to give help to others who are in more need.

As we were leaving I told them we may never see each other again. But, as a memory, each of them will be with me forever.