At about 10PM Friday night, Sophie asked politely to go outside. I went to the door, asked her to sit and wait, which is something we’ve been working on, opened the door, took one sniff, and then slammed the door in her face.

“Sorry, honey,” I said. “There’s a skunk out there. You’re just gonna have to hold it until morning.”

Sophie was rather surprised by this behavior, but being an agreeable sort of dog, sighed and went back to bed.

Until 4:30 AM or so, when she said, “I REALLY have to go now.”


I got up, opened the door, took a sniff. No skunk smell, so I gave her my permission and off she went. 30 seconds later, I heard her scratching at the door. Of course, I got up again and opened it for her, although I was a little surprised at her haste. She usually takes more time than that.

She came in, head down, tail between her legs, and peed on the floor. And while my sleepy self was trying to process what she had just done/was doing, the reek hit me.

I swear skunks are truly practicing chemical warfare: skunk — really close, immediate, fresh skunk spray — is just SUCH an overwhelming smell.

Fortunately, I’d washed my dishes the night before. I grabbed Sophie and put her in the kitchen sink before she could go under the bed. Also fortunate, it wasn’t a direct hit the way it was last summer. It was bad — so bad! — but not as astonishingly, mind-bogglingly awful as it was then. Still, I wasn’t quite fast enough. Later in the day, I also wound up washing towels and sheets and the clothes I was wearing, and feeling quite sorry for myself. But by Sunday morning, the smell was mostly gone, which means I’m way ahead of the game compared to 2022’s July skunk experience, which could still be smelled in October.

Amusingly — to me, anyway, if not to her — I was sleepy enough that instead of washing Sophie with the internet-approved combo of Dawn, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda, I used Dawn, baking soda and white vinegar. At the time, I was surprised by the way the reaction turned into an incredible mess, overflowing the bowl I was using onto the floor, the counter, and me, but not surprised enough to realize that I’d screwed up. It was only later in the day, when I was putting things away, that I saw what I’d done. But wow, what a beauty treatment for her fur — I’m sure it’s the vinegar, but her white fur is practically glow-in-the-dark right now, it’s so very white. I think she might still have preferred hydrogen peroxide, though, since I’m not sure a dog would choose to smell like vinegar. Honestly, she was quite sad about the whole thing, really. And so was I. I guess my skunk check only works when the skunk is  close to the house.

In completely unrelated news, I was at the grocery store this morning when an older gentleman in the line next to me said to his cashier, “Did you hear that they’re talking about making it illegal to sell shredded cheese?”

I think I probably had exactly the same reaction as the cashier did —  and the same reaction as the person behind him in line, my own cashier, and every other person within hearing range — which was an internal eye-roll about people’s weird internet conspiracy theories.

I’m not quite sure how the cashier responded, but I’m gonna say that he gave the polite murmur one gives when faced with a conversation that one really doesn’t want to get into.

The gentleman went on to say, in the same tone of deep conspiratorial foreboding, “Yeah, they want to make America great again.”

I giggled. It took me a couple seconds, and I was eavesdropping, so I wasn’t going to be too obvious, but I definitely giggled.

No one else responded at all. Stony silence. His cashier said something along the lines of, “I don’t really follow politics.” Whoosh! That’s the sound of a joke flying right by.

The guy did not keep trying; no explanation, which I would probably have tried, to be honest, but a joke that you’ve missed is not much of a joke.

On my way out, he was still packing up his groceries, so I patted his arm, and said, “My grandpa would have loved that joke. Loved it! I wish I could call him up and share it with him.” He gave me a huge smile and said, “Thank you,” and I waved good-bye to him as I went out the door.

Suzanne had missed the joke, too, so as we were walking through the parking lot, I re-told it, and she got it as soon as I added a hand motion of one closed fist sliding over the other, ie, a grating motion. Shredded cheese, make America grate again, yep. I’m still laughing, and actually, really wishing I could tell that joke to both my grandfathers. I wonder if, fifty years from now, there will be AIs completely capable of simulating people who are gone? And I wonder if that will be profoundly creepy or really quite nice? Maybe it’ll be both…

But I’m not going to let myself get distracted by new ideas! Today hasn’t included any real writing, just some revisions to Cici 2 (now titled Cici and the Curator Search for Treasure), and a business blog post about an SFWA StoryBundle, which includes A Lonely Magic, and which, if you read fantasy, you should absolutely check out: Take No Prisoners. It’s a great deal: 13 books for $20 if you buy the bigger bundle, which of course you should. The deal ends August 17th, so it’s a limited time offer, and you should act fast. My, how marketing speak of me. 🙂 But you’d be supporting a bunch of independent authors and a good organization, so you’d get to feel virtuous for your $20, too, which is always nice.

And now… well, I was going to say that I was going to get back to real writing, but it would be a lie. It’s a really nice day and I’m going to put on my shorts and go sit in the sunshine and read a book. But tomorrow will involve real writing, I swear!