Friday, July 22, 2011

Snakebites and Skunks

From now on, when I wallow in self-pity because I'm having a bad day, or bad week, or things are just not going my way, I'll remind myself of what happened to Moe, my beautiful white Boxer. In the space of one week, he got sprayed by a skunk - in the face, mind you, and bitten by a snake - either Copperhead or Rattlesnake, the vet wasn't sure which - five times. Yes, I said 5 times. Twice on the face; twice on the chest; and once on his right front paw.

Now this is a dog who had already suffered through three days of baths. We had scrubbed him with every available "skunk neturalizing" remedy we could find. And since he was sprayed in the face, his jowls had been repeatedly rubbed and scrubbed until I swear they hung at least three inches lower than before. The smell had faded enough so we could stand to have him in the room, but the stench was far from being gone. Moe was quite cavalier about the whole experience, even happy to share the smell with our Jack Russell terrier who is his bestest friend. He had wallowed his face over Captain Jack until his back, too, smelled like skunk.

Then we let the dogs out for one last run before bedtime. (There are four dogs total. Add- Murphy, a Cairn terrier; Molly, a Westie to the group.) No more than 3 minutes later, they came to the door without Moe. We called and called, and finally he limped to the door holding up a front leg. His paw was swelling rapidly and the fang marks were still visible. We noticed he was drooling profusely, but at the time it never occurred to us he was also bitten on the face. We just thought the drool was from the shock of the bite. It wasn't until the next morning that a sack of fluid hung from his chest where he had been bitten.

A frantic call to the vet resulted in the advice to give him 50 milligrams of Benedryl; repeat it in two hours; and bring him in in the morning. This we did, but first we sat down to watch over him all night long. The next morning, his paw had swollen to twice its size with the swelling creeping up his leg, and a sack hung from his chest. At the vet, she immediately noticed the remnants of the skunk smell and then pointed out that he had not just been struck on the paw, but repeatedly on the face and chest. She also said a snake bite to a dog is horribly painful and compared it to a gunshot to a human.

Moe, she said, had had a hell of a week!

A I write this, Moe lays at my feet with one of his squeaky toys, rolling on his back with it clasped between his front paws, like nothing happened to the right one. Other than the chore of getting an antibiotic pill down him twice a day, the effects of the snakebite are gone. But not the skunk! Oh, no, he still carries a trail of musk behind him wherever he goes.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Unexpected Gift

It’s the unexpected gifts we remember - not the gifts we receive for holidays or birthdays, but the ones we are given "just because." I received an unexpected gift this week. It came from someone I had never met before, in of all places a restaurant.
It was an idyllic summer day. Clouds danced cheek to cheek across a brilliant blue sky. My son and I, my sister-in-law and her children, decided to check out a new BBQ restaurant that was near the Breaks Park. We met there for lunch before exploring the park. The minute I saw the place I was hooked. It was an old wooden building with the BBQ actually being made right beside of it. The minute we stepped out of the car, the sweet smoke filled my senses making my stomach rumble.
The inside of the place called “Southern Smoke” was delightfully retro. It was decorated like an old southern person’s house – a jumble of things that should have been thrown away years ago but “you just couldn’t part with them.” It succeeded where other fancier restaurants fail. You know the ones that buy antique toys and pictures to hang on the wall in an ultra-modern building.
Southern Smoke was nothing fancy, just tables and booths covered in red plastic table cloths and a counter with stools where you could eat peering through the door to the kitchen. It didn’t have to be fancy, the attention was on the food, like it should be. Their decorations consisted of signs in all sizes and shapes, colors and textures, and every available space was filled with them. Some I’d seen before like the Irish blessing:
Dance as though no one is watching you,
Love as though you have never loved before,
Sing as though no one can hear you,
Live as though heaven is on earth.
Others were pure Southern humor! One that sticks out in my mind said: I’m working so I can enjoy the lifestyle of my wife and daughter. Then I found one in the bathroom, yes, the bathroom walls were also covered in signs, that I absolutely loved! It was an oval sign done in hot pink and zebra stripe. On it was a black high heel shoe trimmed in hot pink. It said: You can never have too many friends or shoes.
As I was paying my bill and getting ready to leave, I remarked that I fell in love with the “shoe” sign.
“Which one?” A lady behind the counter asked.

“The one in the bathroom.” I then went on to explain that I had a novel called “Mama’s Shoes” that was going to be published soon and that sign reminded me of my book.

The woman then stepped from behind the counter and headed for the bathroom. Throwing over her shoulder, “Now which one is it?”

I followed her and pointed to the sign, asking where she got it. She took the sign off the wall and stepped out of the bathroom. She turned it over to look on the back and showed it to me. She said, “It came from Ross’s.”

“Great,” I said. “I’ll head over there and see if they have anymore.”

“No need to do that,” she said, handing me the sign.

For a moment I stood there staring at her. It hadn’t occurred to me she was giving me the sign. Then she pressed it in my hand, and I realized she was giving it to me. I said, “I can’t take your sign!
She said, “Why not, it’s mine and I can give it to anyone I want.”
There was not even a hint of a smile on her face. It was like she was going to me mad if I refused to take it, so I clutched the sign to my chest and said, “Thank you! This is wonderful!” Then she smiled and led me back to the front of the restaurant where she slipped behind the counter. I thanked her again and told her I planned to put it next to my books if I was lucky enough to do book readings.

She smiled and said, “Just bring me one of your books when you get it. I read all the time.”

I laughed and agreed. A fair trade, I thought, looking down at my new sign. But I plan to visit there long before my book is published because the food was fantastic, second only to the southern hospitality.