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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Entry 198 Around 1990 We got skunked!

I can’t remember the year but our house got skunked!  Larry and I woke in the morning to an awful odor.  We got up and started downstairs to see if we could find the source.  Our dog followed us down the stairs.  Each step got worse and worse with the smell.  By the time we reached the bottom of the stairs our eyes were stinging and our noses were running.  I opened the door to the outside and our dog pushed past me and began vomiting on the sidewalk.
 I followed the dog out to see if she was ok and noticed there was no odor outside!  We must have made a lot of noise because the kids started coming down the stair.  Each one was gagging and holding their nose.  Larry had a fellow who worked for us, Manuel, crawl under the house to search for a skunk.  Larry opened the doors to the attic and searched.  We could find no sign of a skunk other that the potent smell.  I lit every candle I could find which helped just a little and only if we were standing right by the candle. 
Larry went to a custodial supply store and brought home several hundred dollars worth of air spray and other stuff.  We tried everything.  Nothing helped.  I have smelled skunks before while driving but this smell was so strong it made us all have upset tummies and burning eyes.  The oddest thing is outside smelled fine.  There was no odor outside.  We never did figure out how we got skunked inside the house!    
The kids needed to get dressed and taken to school.  We had to search the closets to find clothes that didn’t reek with the stink!  We tried our best but I think they all had to repeat the story several times at school that day as to why they smelled so bad.  I washed every piece of clothing for the seven of us that was washable from socks to dresses to pants to shirts.  I hung leather jackets and things I couldn’t wash outside.  I washed sheets, blankets, and bedspreads.  I washed towels and floor mats.  I washed down the kitchen and bathroom floors.  Larry sprayed the furniture and carpets and drapes.  We had huge fans brought in trying to blow out the smell.  Sadly…nothing worked. 
At the end of the day it was only slightly better than it had been in the morning.  After washing, drying, folding, putting in drawers, and hanging up all our clothing and bedding and towels etc, within hours it all began to stink again!  For a long while I would put what we were going to wear the following day in the washing machine when we went to bed and stick them in the dryer first thing in the morning.  When we timed it just right the kids could eat breakfast, brush their teeth, and get their clothes on and get out of the house for school before they began stinking again.
We considered packing up and staying at a hotel for a night or two but because of the animals and all we’d need to take we decided to tough it out.  It was a good decision because we would have been at the hotel for weeks!  The best relief of the smell seemed to be something baking in the oven.  I baked hundreds of cookies, roasted chickens and pot roasts, made cakes, and even strawberry jam in efforts to make the air breathable. 
As time passed the odor lessened and we all became immune to it.  We’d forget about it for a while.  The kids still were getting “looks” at school and the initial breath inside after being gone always reminded us of our plight! 
After months and I mean months, our house was livable again.  Even so, for the next few years every time it rained a faint smell of skunk would fill the house again.  That brought up a second question.  The first question is how did the odor get inside and not be outside?  The second question was, why did the rainy weather make the odor reappear?  I still don’t have an answer for either question. 
I do know to this day when I'm with someone camping and they can faintly smell a skunk or in a car and they will start sniffing the air commenting on an unlucky skunk by the roadside I have to laugh out loud.  The smell they are trying to identify, while being a very memorable smell, is nothing but a very faint whisper compared to the paralyzing odor we lived through!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Entry 197: 1990 Charlie and the Burn Pile


          It was just about time for dinner.  All the kids were busy with afternoon playtime.  From my bedroom upstairs I could hear someone screaming.  I looked from my window and saw Charlie nearing the back door at a run.

          I ran down the stairs and met him in our laundry room.  When he stopped running he started hoping.  He couldn’t stand still.  He sat on the cool linoleum floor and held his feet up at me.  The bottoms of both feet were burned.  Charlie was crying and a little hard to understand.  He’d been out playing in the field and come upon the burn pile.  The burn pile didn’t appear to be burning and he started across it.  Well, the surface wasn’t burning but had a crust of ash and that is what Charlie saw.  Under the crust were red coals from layer upon layer of burned brush. 
          When Charlie had taken a few steps his feet got hot causing him to jump.  He was wearing beach walkers and one came off.  Then he had to run to the edge of the burn pile with only one shoe.  He immediately started running to the house and the other beach walker flew off.  He told me he was running so fast his tears went to his ears instead of down his cheeks.
          Adam had also heard Charlie’s screams.  When he had made sure Charlie was with me he went to the burn pile.  He found one beach walker about 10 tree rows from the pit and could see the other one melting in a footprint of ash.
I stuck Charlie in the bath tub and ran cool water over his feet.  One foot showed burn area all the way across and between the toes.  The other foot was burned only at the edges.  Besides the burns on his feet, when he was running to the house he was running through a field of puncture vines.  He had whole stickers and little pieces of stickers all over the bottoms of both feet.  He was crying the most pitiful cry.  It wasn’t a made up and feel sorry for me cry.  It was a cry of pain.  I called the doctor who recommended cool water, some Aspirin, and ointment when he could stand it.
The skin was peeling off before I took him out of the tub.  Larry carried him downstairs and put him on the couch where he stayed until Adam carried him up to bed.  I was up several times during the night.  He would drift to sleep but wake up often to intense pain.  When we asked him about the stickers he said his feet burned so badly he didn’t know he was running through stickers. 
Those little feet healed and carried Charlie to many more adventures growing up on the farm.