So first the cat gets hit by a car, which means a trip to the emergency vet in Maumelle in the wee hours and then back in the a.m. to get him to his real vet to learn just what is meant by “It costs an arm and a leg” and then to the Christmas tree place to pick out the perfect tree but wait must return home to get the tree stand and then go back at the Christmas tree place to find the perfect tree has been mistakenly sold, but the folks are nice and we get to choose another tree and they even put it in the tree stand so this year we won't be hooking it up to the window with fishing line, hurrah, so back home with tree and also garland we picked up and we arrive and see our yard with new eyes, that is, it's knee deep in leaves and there's not point in decorating the door if you can't see it for the leaves so those have to be raked first and bagged and put on the corner and only then can the garland go up, but first you have to untangle the lights and find the ones that are still good or at least part of the strand is good so you can wrap them around the garland while you're on top of a ladder in gale force winds, but you survive that and begin the indoor cleaning because you can't put up a tree and decorate the mantel when the whole house is covered in dog hair and other detritus, like a month of mail on the dining room table that hasn't been waxed or otherwise wiped off since the Mayflower landed so you get out the vacuum cleaner and the dust cloth and a basket to pile all the stuff in and finally, the room is ready to decorate so it's up to the attic to get the eight boxes of ornaments and mantel stuff and wrapping paper and it's down again, many trips, to the living room where you can finally start decorating the tree, but by then you're exhausted and it's time to get a little sleep before the Christmas bird count the next day at all the scenic minnow ponds in Lonoke and only after that can you start on the tree, which by golly has not fallen over, and about three hours later, the angel is on top, the aluminum hash pipe makes its 40th anniversary appearance on a small limb in the back, the ornaments are hanging on barely, the dog has wagged off only a few from the bottom and it's done and you're ready for the holiday, and it's going to be a good one because the cat survived but it's going to be a lean one because the cat survived. Merry Christmas, right?
Driving back from a friend's Christmas party out in the sticks near Roland last Saturday night, The Observer hit a skunk. The night was clear and chilly, but for whatever reason we had the window down on our pickup truck and an elbow jutted out the window, listening to the radio and enjoying the world. Now our granddaddy always told us to avoid the urge to swerve if anything on four legs darted out in front of us — better to lose a few karma points by killing an animal than to take the chance of crashing ourselves. But when we saw that it was a skunk toddling into the cone of our headlights, our nose screamed “Swerve, you idiot! Swerve!” We swerved, the tail end of Le Ford Peekup swinging out just enough on the rebound to scare the hell out of the driver. Even at that, we somehow managed to smush the hell out of the skunk with both our front and back wheels. Hasta La Vista, Pepe le Pew.
The good news is, we didn't have the horrific roll-over that we had envisioned in the split second before we swerved. The bad news is, this particular skunk had apparently just been to the local skunk bar, where he had downed a few beers, then a few shots of tequila, and maybe a couple quarts of water. What we're saying is: he was juicy.
By the time The Observer got home — all the way across town — some 20 minutes later, the tissue we'd stuffed up our schnozz had completely stopped working, and the skunk-stink had seeped into our pores. Eyes burning and stomach boiling, we parked waaaay up the street from The Observatory. Then we staggered away, praying for a good, hard rain. The skunk, we've found, is an instant karma kind of animal.