Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Smelly Dilemma

We recently discovered we have a skunk problem. 

One of our neighbors has a cat that has been roaming the neighborhood for years.  I've written about him before, and you can read about the cat we call Moose, here.  When he comes by for a visit, we will often put a small bowl of dry kitty food by the front step.  We know we have skunks around because we smell them in the neighborhood from time to time, and I learned from experience as a kid that cat food attracts skunks.  We have tried to be careful to pick up the food before we go in the house for the night, but it was left out a few times.

A few days ago, at dusk, I remembered to ask if the cat food had been brought in.  Chad went out to check, and came flying back into the house.  He had just come face to face with a skunk having some dinner!  Amazed that the skunk didn't spray him, he watched through the screen door as it quickly waddled off.  Ugh.  Now I felt obligated to do something about this critter we'd obviously trained to come up to the house.

Animal Control has been warning residents of skunk problems this summer, and has asked for help in trapping them.  Our county has a high rate of rabies in skunks, so it's really not safe to have them in neighborhoods.  I know it is best to remove the skunk, but it is hard for me to be the one to instigate the killing of this wild critter.  I wrestled with whether to call and request a trap, be hypervigilant about the cat food, or simply stop giving Moose a snack when he visits.  In the end, I knew the skunk would keep showing up to look for food, and I was worried about the safety of all the animals and people in the neighborhood, and called for the trap.

I was sorry when we discovered this morning that we had caught a skunk.  That meant the run-in Chad had the other night wasn't a fluke.  Following the instructions that came with the trap, I called right away for it to be picked up.  I was told it could be awhile, and I explained that the skunk was trapped right by our front steps, and that the sun was on the trap.  Knowing we were in for a very hot day, I didn't want the skunk to suffer in the heat, and I also didn't want anyone coming to the front door to get a nasty surprise.  I was told that they understood, but there were "a lot of animals in traps today" and they'd get to it when they could.  Five hours after I called, someone finally showed up and collected the trap, skunk and all.

I know it was the right thing to do, but it sure is hard on my heart.  I hope I never have to do something like this again.  I think Moose may just have to understand why he doesn't get a free snack when he visits here now, just lots of love and pets.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Megan's Day in Pictures

Happy 15th Birthday, Megan!

Megan having a cuddle with Jack before going to take the test for her driving learner's permit. Teddie and Pip want in on the action!

She passed the test, got her temporary permit, and got to do a little driving on the way home!

Lots of loot!

Captain America is one of her favorite movies.

The girl on the horse looks just like Megan! She got this figurine from her dad as a remider of our family's trail ride in Yellowstone National Park this summer.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"You Don't Need Another Dog!"

Meet Jack.  He is a lab/basset mix, is 6 years old, and is the newest member of our family!

Yesterday, we made a quick day trip to Rapid City, SD.  Our daughter was born there (actually at Ellsworth Air Force Base, a few miles outside of Rapid) on August 27, 1997.  We usually go back for her birthday, a sort of fun way to remember the anniversary of her birth by "visiting the scene of the crime".

We let her choose what she wants to do on these birthday trips, and this time she wanted to shop for new school clothing, go to Hobby Lobby to pick up some craft supplies for her projects, and visit the pet stores.  I think I have mentioned before that all three of us love pretty much all animals, and it can be a dangerous thing for us to visit pet stores.  After we'd visited the first of two, and not purchased any critters of any kind, I was patting myself on the on the back.  Oops!  Not so fast, missy!

On our way out of town, Megan wanted to stop and look in PetSmart.  And...that's where we met Jack!  A lady that fosters dogs for the Humane Society in Rapid City had Jack and another dog named Lilly, there with their "adopt me" vests on.  Chad took one look at Jack, and it was love at first sight, for both of them!  My mom calls Chad "the dog whisperer", because pretty much all dogs fall instantly in love with him, and Jack was no exception (I have a funny story about Chad and a dog at Home Depot that I'll save for another blog).  It was pretty obvious that we were not going home without Jack.  Chad has a very tender heart and tearfully said, "I just feel so sorry for him.  He needs us".

Jack, checking out his new yard!

Poor thing, he is really, really overweight.  Surrendered to the shelter by his owners in extremely bad and filthy condition, the shelter workers said they couldn't even tell he was a dog.  They thought he looked like a huge, and very dirty, pot-bellied pig.  How can people do stuff like that to their pets?  He's been in a foster home for the last five months, and has been on a strict diet.  He's lost a lot of weight, but still has quite a bit more to lose.  Chad has plans to slowly get him into shape and turn him into his running partner.  The animal hospital here does a "Biggest Loser: Pet Edition" program, and I will get Jack enrolled in the next round.  Other portly pets watch out, because Jack is gonna win!

Jack's foster mom said when she took him home, it took four people to lift him into her car, and he couldn't even walk around the block.  She also said he's the perfect dog, and he really seems to be.  He's very calm, obedient, has an extremely sweet disposition, gets along with our other critters, and has a fair amount of training.  It is hard to believe he comes from a neglectful/abusive home, and it makes me very angry knowing anyone could do what his previous owners did to such a sweet soul.  He is potty trained, sits and lays down on command, and comes when you call him.  He loves us already, and we love him, too.  Really, what more is there?

I knew exactly what my mom would say when I told her about Jack, and she didn't disappoint. I also know that Jack will work his way into her heart.  There is room for another grand-doggie in there!  But, her reaction to the news was immediate.

"Ugh! No! You don't need another dog!!!!"

This is what I've heard my entire life when it came to bringing home a critter of any kind, "No, you don't need a/another (fill in the blank).  I also remember hearing, "When you grow up and have your own house, THEN you can have all the animals you want."  Well, mom...I do have my own you can still tell me no, but now I don't have to obey!  It actually is kind of fun, in a devious sort of way, to tell her when we've gotten a new pet.  Hahaha, I know, I'm terrible (mom, I see you sticking your tongue out at me!)!

Anyway, if the definition of "needing" is that we didn't have any dogs already, then no.  We didn't need another dog.  But when we listened to our hearts, we did need another dog, this dog, and I'm so glad our family, and Jack, found each other.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Oh, the Difference a Day Makes!

Yesterday, I wrote about how excited my daughter, Megan, was have marching band season starting.  She's pretty much been waiting for it to begin since it ended last fall, she loved it so much!  She'd just been to band camp last week and had a wonderful time.  She was chosen to play first bass, affectionately called "baby bass", because it is the smallest bass drum in the band.  She'd learned most of their marching show and was over the moon about all the things the entire band accomplished during their three days of camp. 

Then, yesterday afternoon happened.

I've written in earlier posts about Megan running a series of 5k races with her dad this summer.  After the last race they ran in July, Megan came home limping and saying her knee was really hurting.  After taking care of it for a few days, the pain only got worse, and she was asking to go to the doctor.  For her to not only volunteer, but beg to go to the doctor, I knew this was seriously hurting her.  She's a tough kid that pretty much powers through anything, and really, really, doesn't like having to see a doctor. 

I called to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.  He started out with the usual x-rays, and just didn't see anything that should be causing her so much pain, so an MRI was done the next day to take a closer look.  The doctor was speculating that she might have a small ACL tear, or more likely some tendonitis from all of her running.  The doctor explained that "athletic kids" tend to have these types of injuries, but made it seem like it wouldn't really be that big of a deal.  He thought she would probably be in for a knee brace and some physical therapy, but would be able to be in marching band.

Before the results of that MRI were in, Megan had left for band camp.  I did talk to the directors and let them know that she was in the process of getting the knee checked out, so it would probably be better if she wasn't given a heavy instrument to march with.  She had problems with her knee while she was there, but she'd been to see the camp nurse and was given ibuprofen, which helped and she wasn't bothered by pain after that.  She felt like the "baby bass" wasn't too heavy, and the knee continued to be fairly comfortable.

Yesterday, we got the results of the MRI, and the news was worse than we expected.  She actually has a stress fracture in the top of the tibia, and the bone is bleeding into the knee joint.  Good news:  No brace, no physical therapy.  Bad news:  No running, jumping, or marching for at least the next six weeks!  Not taking it easy on the leg could mean more serious injury, or incorrect healing that could cause a lot more trouble.  Megan had to give up her spot on the drumline, and that broke her heart.  She loved her position and was crushed that she wouldn't be able to march!

When she broke the news to the band directors, they were as shocked as we were at the severity of Megan's injury.  They thought she'd have to march with something lighter, like cymbals, but when I told them the doctor said no marching at all, they felt terrible for Megan (and they now have to find a replacement drummer).  In the end, she was given a non marching part, playing the xylophone.  It's a big part, and she will have to memorize it before they perform on August 31st, but she's up to the task.  After many, many tears, she's getting more excited about the part she will be playing, and she's very thankful that she can continue with band and be a part of the show, even if she won't be marching.

She's already looking forward to next year, and being back on the drumline!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Here We Go...

It's that time of year again...back to school!  While many schools around the country have already started, the schools in our town aren't back in session until August 28th.  But, for my daughter, the summer is pretty much over.

Megan is in the high school marching band, and they had their camp to kick off marching season last week.  They went to the Black Hills in South Dakota to learn their show for this year.  There was a lot of hard work, but also some play, and new friends made.  Megan returned home exhausted, but so, so excited for the upcoming season.  She absolutely loves being on the drum line!

A friend of Meg's took this at band camp. Although it's blurry, I love this photo! The huge smile on her face says it all.
From now until the end of football season, there will be daily band rehearsals.  Is Megan sad about giving up the last two weeks of her summer vacation?  No way!  She's been looking forward getting marching band started again for quite awhile.  We will have a very busy week trying to get everything ready for school to start, but it is a good kind of busy.  Shopping for school supplies, new school clothes (is this girl ever gonna stop growing???), shoes, orientation at the high school she will be attending (ack, she's a sophomore this year!), taking the written test so she can get her driving learner's permit on her 15th birthday (the day before school starts!), and a haircut are all on the agenda right along with all of the band rehearsals.  While I will not be going back to school myself (wow, did I really graduate from high school 25 years ago???), there is always an anticipation that comes with this time of year.

Sigh. Good times.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Yellowstone Pictures, Part 2 (with Bison Love Songs video)

We usually go to Yellowstone in early July, but this year, we decided to try going a little later to see if we'd notice differences.  Boy, did we!  The biggest difference between early July and early August is in the Bison.  In July, the cows and calves are separated from the bulls.  But by August, the bison start their mating season, and wow, there are major differences in their behavior!

One of the many bull and cow bison pairs. The whole time, the bull is "singing" to her. I'm sure she likes it, but to me it sounded like a constant growling, grunting, worst-indigestion-you've-ever-had kind of noise! Check it out in the video below. The car was moving, and the video isn't the greatest (no cinematography awards are going to come from this), but it's worth listening to.

Here are more of our Yellowstone adventures!

Megan at the base of Fairy Falls. The only way to see this beautiful waterfall is to hike. It's about 5 miles round-trip, and  very much worth seeing!

Megan, giggling and saying, "NO PAPARAZZI!!", on the hike back from Fairy Falls.

You're right...this isn't Yellowstone! One day, we made the drive down to see the Tetons, so here is Grand Teton, looking a little hazy from the smoke that was across the area.

Mount Moran and its glacier.

Grand Prismatic Spring from part way up the hill behind it. Sadly, the camera just can't do this beautiful spring justice.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Excitement of the 911 Kind

There is nothing like being abruptly awakened in the night by the sounds of someone trying to get into your house.  We always keep our doors locked, thank goodness.  When the door didn't open, there was some scratching, then the door bell started to ring.  By that time, Chad was already at the door, very large and heavy Maglite flashlight in hand, and I had 911 on the phone.  He carefully opened the door in such a way that the intruder wasn't going to get in easily, and found a very drunk guy on the step, with the screen door open and trying to get inside. 

Chad kept the guy from getting inside (a feather could have knocked the guy over) and asked if he needed help, and the guy looked confused and said he was looking for Desiree.  When Chad told him he was lost, there is no Desiree in this house or any of the neighboring homes, the young, well dressed and very polite drunk, apologized, over and over.  He told us his name, and said he had a name badge, but he wasn't wearing one that we could see.  Just about then, and probably less than two minutes after I dialed 911, four police officers in three cars showed up, and our drunk calmly went with them.  We could hear him still apologizing as they were talking to him.  All of the officers were gentle with our drunk, and explained to him that he was going with them.  He said, "ok", and calmly got into one of the police cars.  One of the officers was walking up and down the street checking things out, and found strung along the sidewalk across the street, a name badge, cell phone and a pair of glasses, all belonging to our visitor. 

There is an energy conference in town, which he is no doubt part of, but I'm wondering how he got into our neighborhood as he seemed to be on foot, and we are not exactly near party central. And who is Desiree???

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Yellowstone Pictures, Part 1

Here are some pictures from our trip to Yellowstone. . .more to come!

If you'd like, you can click on the pictures, and you should see a larger version.


Bull Elk, losing his velvet. It looked pretty bloody and gross!

Marmot, also known as a whistle pig or rock dog. Nice Pose!

He got tired of posing!

The Yellowstone River is pretty wide at this point, and we were on the opposite side from this eagle. We watched it fly down and land in the water. It just sat there for awhile, then...

...took off! It then flew up into a tree that was on a little island in the middle of the river...

...where it danced around a bit, then finally settled. I think it went into the river just for a bath. Can you see that its head is pretty wet?

Friday, August 3, 2012


I am getting so excited!  On Sunday, we leave for our annual week in Yellowstone National Park!

View from the webcam at the Old Faithful Visitor Center

I don't know what day next week we will be at Old Faithful, but I do know we will be there at some point.  We stay in the Canyon area, and that is quite a jaunt away from Old Faithful.  Last year when we left our cabins, it was a beautiful day.  By the time we got to the other end of the park, it was pouring down a very cold rain, so we had to view Old Faithful from inside.  Not acceptable!!  You can't hear it, can't feel it, and it really feels like watching it on TV or something.  Bleh!

We have a spot we have visited for years, where we have a place to sit in the shade while we wait,  and it's out of the crowd you can see that gathers right in front of the geyser.  It still offers the perfect view of Old Faithful when it erupts, and we can hear the roar and feel the ground tremble.  I can't wait, and hope we have better luck with the weather this time!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Morning Shower

As I was getting the day started just after 7 o'clock this morning, I heard what sounded like hail on the roof.  I already had some blinds open in the house, so I could see that the sun was shining before I got all the way to the window to look outside.  Thankfully, there was no hail, but very large raindrops falling out of the sunny sky!  A small cloud had passed over and apparently it was a wet little cloud!  It rained for just a few minutes, but it was coming down hard enough to get the water running in the gutters, all while the cheery sun continued to shine.  Beautiful!

Can you see the raindrops falling?