Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Skunk Who Came for Dinner

A Normal Night:
It is a pretty normal evening here in the Later household: Peter working the 4-2 shift, Kirsti knocking the dresser on herself, and Matthew taking a nap just before bedtime- no early sleep for him. While waiting for the other 5 kids to fall asleep, I’m putting the finishing touches on my “catching the grill on fire” post.

Matthew has been alternating between sitting on my lap and wondering the house. “Finally done posting, now it’s time to clean up the kitchen.” Matthew is still playing in there, so I need to force help him to bed. With the same philosophy about sweeping rice as spaghetti noodles (wait till they dry out a little), I had earlier decided to publish before cleaning, but now it’s time to get my youngest out of the way make sure Matthew gets his needed rest and clean up dinner.

I can hear him playing. “Matthew, time for bed!” Of course, he’s ignoring me. “Come on Matthew, let’s go.” I walk over to drag carry him to bed, calling for him the entire way. As I round the corner of the center island, I’m already bending to pick him up. Only it isn’t Matthew,

IT IS A S-K-U-N-K !!!!!!

And so it Begins:
EEK! I yell, jumping backwards out of view. “Oh crap, I just yelled ‘EEK!’ to a skunk!” The horrible truth hits me quickly; I left the door to the garage (and the automatic garage door) open for the breeze, but more than the breeze has entered. Now there is a skunk eating my children’s leftovers scattered around the kitchen floor.

What to do? WHAT TO DO?!? I peer over CAREFULLY to make sure that tail is still DOWN. So far, so good. First of all, no more skunk startling outbursts! Second, find Matthew. For all I know he’s fallen asleep under the table again and might be close to becoming a Skunk’s cuddle buddy. I run carefully walk to Elise’s room (Matthew’s favorite place to fall asleep). “Whew, he’s there!” So all that time I heard Matthew playing in the kitchen it was . . . I think I’m going to be sick.

How do you get a wild skunk out of your house? He (she?) has slowly moved around the corner of the island. “Think, Charlotte, think. How will you get this skunk, sprayless, out of your house.” Every idea I think involves potentially startling the skunk, an automatic elimination:

  • “I wonder if I should take a picture for my blog.” No, the flash might startle him.

  • “Maybe if a gently push him with a broom?” Definite no-no.

  • “Maybe, if I turn off the camera’s flash?” No, I would have to turn on all the lights and that might be scary to a nocturnal skunk.

  • “I could call animal control.” Who knows how long that would take and would involve talking, might scare the skunk.

  • “Seriously, how am I going to take a picture?”

A Plan is Executed:
The skunk is all the way around the island by now, perusing his eating choices under the table. I have it! My crazy ingenious plan: I will make a food trail for the skunk to follow. Luckily for me some of my children failed to clear their plates (never thought that would be lucky). I kneel, careful to not make sudden movements, starting as close as I dare to the skunk and begin scooping corn and rice in a trail across the floor. Slowly I crawl and scoop towards the garage. I leave a huge clump of food just below the step down into the garage as bait. “That should do it.” Now I’m going to wait.

In case you’re wondering, skunk eating (licking?) food off your floor sounds a lot like a small trickle of water through a faucet. I sit and wait. At one point I try to get (as distantly as possible) behind the skunk and make soft noises in the hopes the skunk will move the other direction toward my trail, but after a couple of times I get too nervous and just wait. “What is that noise?” I notice the sound seems to be coming from two different directions. “Is there water running just outside the door to the garage? Oh no! It can’t be!!!” It is.

There is a SECOND skunk eating my bait. And it has just poked its head over the step. It is coming inside! This was not the point of putting bait inside my garage!! No-sudden-movements rule NO LONGER APPLIES!!! I run over and slam that door right in my guest’s face (as quietly as possible). Then I check with skunk #1- still too interested in the buffet under the table to notice my trail. Luckily, tail still down.

Now I am stuck in a house with a skunk and no open doors. My food trail idea was a FLOP, a huge near backfire FLOP. “Time to check the internet.” If you ever find yourself trapped in a house with a skunk, let me recommend you NOT google 'get skunk out of house'. Because all the sites will be about getting skunk SMELL out of your house, and it looks IMPOSSIBLE. Not comforting at all. Everything I find seems to say I am doomed.

“That skunk seems pretty tame. If it lives in the neighborhood, maybe it is used to people and won’t be scared if I take its picture.”

A New Plan or 2:
“Maybe I can make a NEW food trail around the kitchen through the front door.” This is my new plan. I tiptoe over to the counter and grab my child’s plate of left out leftovers. I decide to start at the front door and move around as close to the skunk as I can get. But, as I approach the door I see something out the window. “Is that . . . it is!!” There is a skunk on my front porch. I am surrounded. No way I’m opening the door.

Panic is setting in. I am out of ideas. As the initial wave of bewilderment begins to recede, I decide to (gingerly) peak in the garage. After all, maybe the front porch skunk is the garage skunk, how many could there be trying to invade my house? I tuck my head inside my garage, “No more skunk patrol!” One shot left before I grab the kids and make a run for it.

I move as stealthily as I can through the house and turn off every light. I open the door to the garage again and flip on the garage light. “Please, please take the bait.” I know that skunks are nocturnal and I pray that doesn’t mean it will decide to turn towards the darker parts of my house. I picture the skunk running up stairs and finding my bedroom or my kids’ rooms. “PLEASE, PLEASE, TAKE THE BAIT!!” That stubborn skunk immediately saunters over to the door and walks right out. I super speed over and slam it shut. My hour of torture is finished, the skunk is GONE!!!!

The End:
I shut off the garage light in hopes that the skunk will take the hint again, waiting until I’m ready for bed to check. I kid you not, there is a 3rd skunk, this one smaller than the last two, finishing off the pile of rice. I shut the door, call Peter at the hospital and inform him that he is under no circumstances to enter the house through the garage tonight (he thinks the story is HILARIOUS, probably because there was no spraying involved).

As I begin to drift off to sleep, I remember Peter lost his house key and can’t get into the front door. Good thing we live in ULTRA SAFE neighborhood, I go down and unlock the front door. Unable to resist, I peak one more time in the garage. No skunk. I shut the automatic garage door. My ordeal is finally over. Did I mention Peter’s first question when I told him the skunk story- “Did you get a picture for the blog?” For once common sense prevailed, although I might be doing reconnaissance tonight for that all important visual.

PS I tried to get a picture of the neighboorhood residing skunks tonight, but it involved the skunk raising its tail high and me high tailing it back inside!! You'll have to be satisfied with the pictures of me playing with my camera.


  1. Are you even kidding me? That story had me laughing OUT LOUD! Too funny. Seriously....way to get the skunk out without getting smelly though...hahahaha

  2. Oh my gosh!!! I am rolling on the floor laughing. I have nothing but respect for you - you have 6 great kids, you do bedtime by yourself probably more nights than you have help, and you just successfully got a skunk out of your house without scaring it. I mean really, could you be a better mom/homemaker (I hate that word)/domestic goddess?

  3. Hilarious. I can't believe that you didn't get sprayed. Love the reaction photos.

  4. You are TOO funny. I'm glad you survived the skunk ordeal!

  5. Sounds like you were skunked. I laughed out loud and Dad wanted to know what was so funny.

    Are you sunburned or is the just a tan. Maybe it is the lighting from your camera.

    What adventures you are having there in CT. Stay in the house at night.

    Just too funny.

  6. Charlotte, I can't stop laughing!! I can't believe you evaded being sprayed! I am very grateful I have never had that experience and I hope I never do. I love the shots you did get. Thanks for the ab workout!

  7. Oh my gosh! I cannot even believe is!!!

  8. Oh! My! Goodness! I can't even imagine! I so totally would have freaked out and ended up with a skunk sprayed house.

  9. ROFLOL!! My sister called 1/2 way through reading this and so I had to start over so she could enjoy a great laugh. I am so impressed that you made it through without getting sprayed.

  10. That is so funny! I love how you tell the story it only makes it better. The best is you thinking of getting a picture for the blog. It is like when I found Madison with Poop on her face and stopped to get a picture. JK. That is great. I'm glad you didn't get sprayed!

  11. I was laughing my head off, then I made my dad read it, then I texted my Mom, Kristen, and Tiffany and told them they have to read it.

    Rod Tuckers comment:
    Something smells funny about that story.

  12. Uncle Rod, you really are my dad's brother. Just too, too punny.

  13. Man you must be a really good cook! Not many of us are so lucky to have such an interesting guest.(oops, I mean 3) I am impressed by your quick thinking. This is so hilarious!! Thanks for sharing.

  14. I cannot even believe that story is real. Seriously. SERIOUSLY??? Holy cow. I don't think I have seen a skunk in real life...

    Anyway, those live-action shots you captured made my day. When Barlow wakes up from his pre-bedtime nap (he and Matthew could be best friends!) I will be sure and show him this.

  15. Did I ever tell you about the time when I was camping and woke up in the middle of the night face to face with a skunk? I swear, he was kissing me on the nose! I did exactly what every 17-year-old in my situation would do...I screamed. Luckily the little critter high-tailed it out of the tent without leaving any reminder behind.

  16. Charl, you are so funny and you write so well that we all experenced it with you. Thanks. I am surprised that Uncle Rod didn't try and raise a stink about it and share our skunk story, but it'll have to wait until another time.

    I am glad you didn't get sprayed. I know there are all kinds of remedies, but it's very difficult to get off and usually you end up burning your clothes because the smell never really comes out.

  17. Charl, I have to write this for a friend named Pepe, because he doesn't have interenet.

    "No! No! No! That is not the way it was. I was just wondering through on open door, when this beautiful woman started to give me a big hug. It was love at first site. Then, she laid food out so nicely for me to eat, I could tell she was smitten too. Ah, but when she turned off the lights so we could be together, I went in search for my love, but some villian slammed the door shut, and what could of been will never be."

    Pepe Le Pew

  18. You are probably the funniest blogger I know and this was by far your funniest post. Love your pictures and your obsession with getting a skunk shot.

    Next time it happens (well, with 3 skunks vying for your charcoal burgers who knows?) throw a blanket over him then carry him out. They aren't scared if they can't see. That's how my neighbor got rid of a skunk at this house - fortunately before we moved in.

  19. Oh so funny. I can't believe you didn't get a picture!! You will have to stage one (Mathew would look good in a skunk costume) You do tell a good story. Can't stop laughing!

  20. I REALLY needed that! LOL Thanks for pointing me to this post, I'm sorry you had to go through that ordeal, but am thankful you have a blog to pass the story along!

  21. I love all the pictures of yourself instead of the skunk. Did you happen to realize how stinking cute your skunk was? It is so unfortunate that something so adorable is so smelly. Kind of like my boys. ;-)

  22. That was a great story. I was laughing out loud, so I had to read it to Andy.
    I am still getting over the shock of you reaching to pick up Matthew and it being a skunk. :)

  23. That is crazy. I love how your priorities keep shifting from taking its photo to getting it out.

    I happen to love the smell of skunk. But guests might not so I would not want it to spray my house or me either.