Coersed into a Blog

My family have been bugging me for years to make a blog and sharing my thoughts. They enjoy my stories immensly and tell me I have an ability to 'connect with my readers'. So, here I am, to see if I can truly connect with my readers or bore them to death with my words. We will see.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

One Way= No Way

One Way Driving School
Chalkstone and Jalna Blvd.

I followed this vehicle on Saturday July 3rd as it drove down Jalna Boulevard at around 20:30 hrs....what sparked my interest was that he was driving a Driver's Ed vehicle AS HE TALKED ON HIS BLACKBERRY all the way down Jalna and then proceeded to do a rolling stop at Chalkstone and Jalna....
I think how funny this is that this instructor is teaching young drivers of today the rules and laws of the road and yet here he was, in plain view while advertising his driving school while breaking obvious's it ironic?

Mephitidae mephitis Chronicles- Part V

Instalment #5
Tuesday September 28, 2010- After a broken sleep the previous night catching and releasing skunk and friend, I decided I would take a moratorium on all things skunk and let the trap recover from all the action.  That was until the kids and I saw another skunk padding around on the back patio at 2100 hrs.  They were in adoration of the little stinker and did a lot of those annoying high-pitched baby noises, like “Awwww, he is so cute!”  and “He’s adorable mommy, don’t trap him, let him stay!”  Yeah kids, get the hell to bed.  It was at that moment that I realized that I cannot KILL a skunk.  How awful of me to have even tried and my stomach has been churning with the thought of it since.  I apologize to all animal lovers and SPCA activists right now; I lost my head.  The truth is that skunks are adorable and I do think they are quite beautiful.  So why does something so beautiful have to smell so rotten?  Parents of babies ask that question all the time, too.  So my king-sized garbage pail has joined the ranks with the others at the side of my house- for rubbish only.   
As soon as the kids were tucked in bed I made a bee-line for the peanut butter and jelly and headed out to the yard.  I saw three skunks on Saturday night; two are gone, that leaves one (yes, my stellar math skills indicate that I am indeed a Mensa candidate).  The last remaining skunk had just been spotted hovering near the spot where his mother was last seen in the trap that very morning; he was looking for his mom and I felt a little tug on my heart strings- for about one millisecond.  Then I came to my senses as I recalled the three months worth of skunk smell on Sullivan and how difficult that smell was to get rid of.  I set up my bait and went inside.
It is now 2300 hrs and I decide to check the trap before turning in for the night.  Trap door is closed, something is in there.  Good, got the last skunk.  I grabbed my keys, did my car ritual with the hazards and hatch up and headed into the night to my new favourite spot for skunk relocation.  This time I went even further down that little road behind Amway, way back to a huge field and wooded area.  Under the invasive glare of the street lamps, I lifted the cage from the trunk and placed it gently on the ground.  I pried open the trap door and waited.  And waited, and waited.  What the heck?  All the other skunks did not waste one minute running from the trap-they don’t look back, they ran!  This was odd.  Whatever was in there was not leaving.  Huh.  I pulled the door open and secured the latch so that it would stay open on its own and walked to my car.  Whatever was in there may not be too pleased and exit with a vengeance and obviously does not want to come out into the light or may actually like the comfort of his new home.  Oh Lord, maybe I have trapped Chester the neighbour’s expert mouser and he is about to be set free two kilometres from home into the woods.  Oh good grief, how would I explain that to Amie and Renny?  I would never be able to look them in the eyes again knowing that their beloved family cat was now scrounging for food in the wilderness and never coming home again.  Meh, I warned them the trap was out, if it is Chester then what can I do?  I mean, it’s not like Renny didn’t do the same thing three weeks ago to some nomadic feline, who by the way, is now living in the woods down on Meg Drive somewhere....he would understand because he did it, too. 
I was getting impatient with this skunk- get the hell out of the trap!  I grab my umbrella from the trunk and open it up, using it as a shield of sorts.  I go to the cage and tip it up a bit.  Nothing.  I tip it a bit more.  Still nothing.  I pick up the end of the cage and lift the end off the ground at a 45° angle and what pops out scared the hell out of me.  Not even sure what is was but wow, was it creepy and UGLY!  Good size, long rat-like tail, beige in colour, pointy was gross.  Not a rat but sort of close.  A possum maybe?  Anyway, it took off like the blazes into the night and disappeared into the brush.  I packed up my gear and headed home.  I re-loaded the trap with more of my bait and did attempt #2 for the last skunk. 
Wed Sept 29, 2010- Awoke at 0600 hrs to find another skunk in the trap.  This time he had, like his family members before him, managed to somehow get the entire bag into the trap leaving an exposed skunk.  Damn.  I was groggy from sleep but knew I had to act fast before traffic started getting too heavy on Exeter Road.  I grabbed a towel and started slowly toward the trap.  He saw me and immediately took the alert stance, you know, the stance saying ‘watch out or I will defend myself!’.  I moved very slowly and managed to get the cage covered without incident and immediately took the skunk to ‘the spot’ that I now know so well.  He was released and happily waddled off into the fog of the morning, into the brush hopefully never to be seen again.  I, bed head, pyjamas and all, got back into the Pro5 and drove home.  Wow, three skunks and one possum in two nights.  That trap is paying for itself....

Mephitidae mephitis Chronicles- Part IV

Please note this instalment is the fourth in my skunk diary.  I came home last night and loaded my trap again; peanut butter and raspberry jam seems to be the skunk drug of choice.  Surely after having just witnessed a beloved family member almost meet his maker the skunk accomplice would not be stupid enough to enter that trap.  Oh, he did.  I woke at 0600 hrs to find the biggest fattest skunk in all of south London.  It has ripped all the covering off the trap leaving a perfectly exposed skunk for me to remove.  Oh Lord, I know I have paid you no mind in the past but I promise to start going to church and stop making fun of the Catholics...  Please, please, please let me get this trap covered without incident.
 As my son watched in sleepy-eyed anticipation from the kitchen window, I slowly crept up to the cage behind a towel.  The skunk was so focused on trying to get out of the trap that he hardly even noticed me and I was able to cover the cage successfully.  Now what?  I must get him out of here.  Into the Mazda Pro5 we go, in my pyjamas, bed head, morning breath and all.  Hazards on and hatch up, praying to the good sweet Lord that the skunk will not get spooked and spray AND to not be pulled over by a cop.  Cripes, I have no bra or underwear on for Pete's sake.  That goes against all the teachings of my mother and my mother's mother; always wear clean underwear...I picture myself in the slammer with no panties and the Animal Rights Activists circling my cell like sharks. 
 It was almost daylight, time was of an essence.  I search for a new drop off point and chose a spot even further than earlier that morning, this one on the side of White Oak Road out in the middle of no where.  The road had been blocked by road construction so I could go no further.  Huh, maybe the skunk will meet a cement roller soon.  This skunk was more cautious than the others... when he left the trap it was slow and deliberate, nose in the air, sniffing wildly.  I was able to get a good look at him.  It was huge- definitely an older wiser skunk.  Perhaps the family monarch?  It waddled out and was uncertain where to go; the grasses were very long along the gravel shoulder and formed a barrier of sorts.  It stood there uncertain but when he turned his head and noticed me slowly backing away he was surprised, did a little jump and scurried off into the grass into the ditch. more down, how many more to go?
 P.S.  For the price of $16 (an excellent value I think) I got my king-sized 'killing pool' at Wal-Mart this morning.  It has wheels and a locking lid.  Hey, if you’re going to meet your maker you might as well meet him in style. 

Mephitidae mephitis Chronicles- Part III

Installment #3
I have now tempted fate and trapped THREE skunks, all successfully relocated in the back of my Mazda Pro5.  Slowly I drive the streets of White Oaks, hatch up, hazards blinking in the night, I creep through the neighbourhood praying to the good God almighty that he does not spray in the would I ever get the stench out?  What would be the resell value of a skunk-mobile anyway? 
 After having trapped (what I thought to be) the second of the sighted pair last Monday night, I spent the better half of Tuesday morning filling and blocking the many holes alongside my shed all the while smiling a grin of all grins.  I barricaded like a fat kid on a Smartie, with any piece of wood, random brick or broken patio stones I could muster.  I even bought 1" x 4" wood from Home Depot and dug a small trench to block the side of the shed.  For three days I diligently inspected my work and agreed that yes, I, Jennifer Grant, have won this battle of the skunk.  I was thrilled to let the dogs out after dark, even without a leash while I trailed behind with my flashlight.  Ahhhh, finally!
 Then, on Saturday night, as I sat in a friend's car talking, my friend gasped in horror to see a skunk shimmy from beneath my gate and walk across the yard.  After the initial shock dissipated, he noticed another skunk, then a smaller one following close behind.  After my friend's hysterical laughter subsided he said, "You have a family of skunks and it appears that they loved the accommodations so much they have called all the extended family in to stay, too".  And so the following morning, to my absolute dismay, I saw all my handiwork had been demolished and ruined along the shed.  Wood lay askew, fresh soil dug up and carelessly flung all over and a new hole peeks out amongst my barricades.  Last night I lay in bed reading and heard them outside on the patio.  I peered out the window and yes, TWO skunks.  They were sipping apple martinis and laughing at me.  So, I set the trap tonight and again, as I lay reading I heard the trap spring shut.  I looked out and sure enough one skunk in the trap, and another one desperately trying to spring his family member out of the slammer. 
 So, now I am MAD, MAD, and MAD and decide I have had enough.  The words of Uncle Bruce sprang in my head ("I just drown 'em.  Stick the whole cage in the garbage can filled with water", he said to me one day) and so I grabbed an empty garbage pail and hose and decide that I have to take matters into my own hands.  Had the two skunks I had just captured found their way back, despite the four lanes of Exeter Road traffic?  Impossible! I grab my hose and I start filling the pail.  Today there will be a skunk killing (sorry SPCA) but I am fed up.  I fill my 'killing pool' with icy cold water and gingerly tip the covered trap on its end so that I can slowly submerge the trap in the water.  So far so good.  Then, much to my horror I realize the trap is about 1" longer than the pail- long enough for a little skunk to cling precariously to the side and have a nice refreshing bath on a crisp September evening.  Are you kidding me?  My mind is what?  He is in there sniffing around, treading water for Christ's sake, he is not drowning.  I desperately try to get a plan...does my neighbour have one of those king-sized garbage pails?  Would I get caught if I were to creep around the neighbour's backyards and borrow one for a bit?  Oh dear sweet lord, what have I done?   Should I gas him?  Put him to my tailpipe? What?  What do I do now?
 After a heart wrenching 15 minutes of listening to him leisurely swimming in my garbage pail, I decided this is not even worth it.  He has been swimming so long in there he could easily have passed Level 10 swimming badge at the White Oaks pool and started life guard classes next Saturday.   I decide he will live another day and so I tip the pail over carefully and let the water drain.  I cover the cage so he does not see me and grab my keys.  Lock the door and head to my car.  He will live tonight but he will be sent farther away than before.  I drive to the Amway parking lot and find a narrow driveway marked for Shipping & Receiving at the rear of the lot.  I creep down the lane way and pick a nice wooded area at the end of the road and let my soaking wet little furry friend scurry into the field.  Tomorrow, I am headed to Wal-Mart first thing in the morning.  On my list; king-sized garbage can. 

Mephitidae mephitis Chronicles- Part II


Installment #2
It has been a few weeks since I trapped skunk #1.  After a few sightings of the second skunk, I decide that my heart has finally recovered from the initial relocation and I begin the process of trapping the other skunk.  One night was all it took.  Actually, it was less than that- it was more like three hours.  Man, peanut butter and raspberry jam works like a charm.  I went outside after hearing the cage rattle and crinkle and sure enough, a skunk.  Huh.  It was 12:00 AM on Monday September 20th.  I will leave it until dawn and deal with it in the morning.  I lay in bed, tossing and turning.  I go through my morning routine for tomorrow; be to work for 8 AM, kids up, showers x 3, breakfast, lunches need to get made and packed....Okay, so clearly now is the most advantageous time to relocate the skunk. 
I grab my keys, put on a hoodie, off we go, me and my new skunk friend.  I am the transporter of skunks.  I am a skunk taxi of sorts, taking him to meet his lover after a two week separation.  I wonder if absence makes the heart grow fonder or is it absence makes the heart from fungus?  Huh.  Took me less than 10 minutes to get there, release him and get back home.  I felt good about it.  I think I am a skunk warrior now, can do this in my sleep.  I am elated that I have reunited the two skunks together again.  In fact, I can hear Peaches and Herb singing....Reunited and it feels so good, Reunited 'cause we understood, There's one perfect fit, And, sugar, this one is it, We both are so excited, 'Cause we're reunited, hey, hey’. 
Ah, relief.  Tomorrow I will head to Home Depot and get some chicken wire or wood or something to fill the holes.  I will get the holes all filled and barricade everything up now that I know the skunks are safe and happy in the woods, four lanes of 80 km/hr motorized vehicles traffic away.  ;)

Mephitidae mephitis Chronicles

Installment #1
I have a problem; one that has haunted me for years.  It is a problem that I have ignored, using Band-aid solutions in hopes that it would remedy itself.  It has started to impact my home life now and I am not sure how to resolve it.  Well, I do know; this is another problem I have.  I have the necessary tools and the knowledge to fix my problem and yet I turn my back on it while it grows and destroys.  I huddle in the shelter of my home, in the darkness, afraid.  The darkness breeds my problem; it turns into a monster after sunset.  Yes, I have a skunk.  It has been there for years and shows no sign of leaving.  Apparently my shed is the sex den for these skunks; like the Red Light District of Amsterdam, my 16’ x 20’ shed has become a skunk brothel of South London.  I am not sure how many have come and gone or how many there really are now.  All I know is that once the sun sets behind the horizon I live in fear. Going out after dark with the dogs has become a time consuming ritual.  Leashes?  Check. a  12” long, 17 lb. Mag-lite inherited from my father?  Check.  a Out we go...slowly, cautiously. I stomp around on the patio and do a few random throat clearings to scare anything away.  The hardest thing is that my dogs don’t poop readily on a 6’ leash.  They want to pick their spot, sniff the perfect target.  The dogs stare up at me in anticipation.  Sorry boys, after dark you need to do your business right here, right now or forever hold your pee.  In truth, I am so prepared for a potential skunking disaster that I have an emergency kit of skunk ingredients ready to go.  But why do I tempt fate like this?  I am only asking for more trouble if I don’t take care of it now.  By the way, I have a fantastic recipe for de-skunking dogs.  If you need it I’ll send it to you; is cheap and very effective.  So it was on a Saturday evening in August that I decided I had had quite enough of this skunk bully and set forth on a mission to rid the neighbourhood of all things skunk.  I pulled the live trap from the shed and set to work. 
I have done enough research on skunks that I feel I am an aficionado of sorts; between my Google research and watching several  episodes of Billy the Exterminator on A& E, I can tell you quite a bit  about their breeding habits, eating habits and their winter stores of fat.  Known fact:  there is no reprieve from a skunk in the winter.  They do not officially hibernate; they sleep deeply and appear during the milder winter weather to search for food.  I also know that skunks will not spray in enclosed areas so I proceeded to wrap the trap in tin foil and enough duct tape to keep 3M in business for the next century.  I then wrapped my skunk space pod in a garbage bag (you can never be too careful) and baited the trap with delicious sardines (again, more internet research).  I placed the trap near the hole and waited to see what happened. 
Sunday morning, 6:00 AM.  Bright, warm, sunny summer day.  Commotion wakes me from my slumber.  I can hear scratching and crinkling noises.  I creep outside and see the cause of the ruckus.  Skunk.  I got a skunk.  I FINALLY GOT A SKUNK.  Now what?  Oh Lord, I had not thought this through apparently.  I have to be to work in three hours and it can’t stay in the trap all day, he’ll bake and die in the tinfoil wrapped cage in the hot summer sun.  Wait....really? Bake and die?  Well, maybe that’s not so bad... maybe I’ll leave it there and pretend I never saw it, try to convince my conscience that I am a good human being and not an animal torturer.   Ohhh, no, no, no.  That is not right...and the smell, in August?....Can’t do it.  Oh dear Lord. 
I start to sweat- instant sweat of panic.  I am tortured by panic.  I slowly open the gate.  The skunk is in the process of peeling away all my layers of tinfoil and duct tape.  You can see his little tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, straining his eyes in concentration, intently focused on the peeling.  The ground is covered in aluminum foil.  He is in there, meticulously peeling his way to freedom one layer at a time.  I cover the trap with towels and gently, oh so slowly pick up the trap which I carry to the driveway and place by my car.  I step back to gather my thoughts.  I do a panic dance- sort of an excited jump, spastic ‘WTF do I do now?’ sort of jig. 
Okay, breathe.  Phew.....What are my options?  Well, I read that gassing is relatively humane...okay.  Tailpipe, plastic bag.... Stop. 

City of London By-Law section 3.1 of the Idling Control By-law amended October 2009. 
3.1  Idling – Motor Vehicle - more than two (2) consecutive minutes - prohibited
No person shall idle a Motor Vehicle for more than two consecutive minutes.

Damn.  Thwarted.  I pictured myself in my pajamas donning my wild bed head as I explain to the police officer why my car was running while the little stinker chokes, sputters and gags his last breath while attached to the tailpipe of my Mazda Pro5.  No, I would likely face a fine and the SPCA would get wind of it for sure.  I could drown it?  No...Dead animals freak me out.   Disposing of it would be my issue.  I stand in my driveway, sweaty and panicked.  I shall re-locate the skunk.  Absolutely the best way to go. 
I get my keys and pop the hatch, gently move the trap into the trunk.  I get in the car and slowly put the car into reverse, turn on my hazards and back out of my driveway.  Early Sunday morning and nary a car on the road- perfect.  I make my way to Meg Drive and cross over Exeter Road and drive south  to the dead end where I decide the wooded desolate area would make a perfect new home for a skunk.  Okay, this is good.  No incidents and I feel a bit less sweaty and panicky, but I am, however, very concerned  about the actual release and departure of the skunk.  I am bent over the trap and trying to fiddle with the door to flip it open.  Dear Lord, what if is bites me?  Skunks are notorious for carrying rabies, you know.  Jesus...I can’t afford to get rabies right now...I need to be to work soon....I can’t sell kids clothes while foaming at the mouth... I open the door (sweat pouring down my temples, heart pounding so hard and fast I can almost hear it is my ears) and wait.  The skunk makes his grand appearance, blinking eyes in the sunlight, makes a mad dash for the hills and never looks back.  He scurries along the grass and into the field.  I almost faint from the relief of it all and return to my car, shaking and trembling from all the fear and adrenaline.  Done deal.  Smell you later, little friend. 
Later that evening I brag to my neighbour that I caught THE skunk.  I felt like a local hero and now should be held in fairly high regard amongst my fellow London Southies for being so fearless and brave (or stupid, whatever you want to call it).  He eyed me like I had three heads and casually informed me that there is not one skunk Jennifer, but at least two that he has seen together in his yard.  My pride deflates like a balloon.  One down, more to go I suppose.