outdoors / outdoors

The Skunk

 

Skunk

 

 

The town I live in has been over run by skunks.

They’re everywhere. if you own a dog? The chances are its been sprayed by one.

I was told that if you encounter one and it’s getting ready to blast you? You’ll know it because the tail raises right before it releases its stank. if you can move fast enough and pin its tail down? you just might avoid getting blasted.

I tested this theory out recently while taking care of my mother in laws dog.

I’m gonna refrain from using his name here, I’m not sure he’d like me involving him.

Upon coming across a skunk on a walk with “the dog.” I startled it.

Now a skunk moves very slowly. The don’t run away. More like waddle away.

I should mention I was as scared of it, as it was of me, I wasn’t looking for any trouble.

We were minding our own beeswax.

Try explaining that to a frightened animal with a brain the size of a pea.

I panicked dropping the dog’s leash as the rotten little stinker raised its tail.

It nailed me mid charge squarely in the chest.

Stunned me. can’t describe it. it was awful.

The skunk took off between a couple of houses.

I looked over at my mother in laws dog.

I swear it had this look, like, “What the hell were you thinking?”

I was, after all? only trying to protect him.

I ran home dog in tow, thinking….how am I going to explain this?

Why didn’t I just leave it alone?

It’s a skunk.

My wife bathed me in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and liquid dish soap. which? trust me on this, sounds a lot better than it is. The concoction is supposed to lessen the smell. it did help a little. I guess? Though not enough to be let back into the house.

I had to throw out what I was wearing, and sleep in the garage.

My mother in laws dog got an apology in the morning. me? I got nuthin.

He had to sleep in the garage with me. We didn’t say much to one another.

I’m not going to have to dog sit anymore, I’m pretty sure.

I was told by my wife and mother-in-law I can’t be trusted.

And if we do get to watch the dog?

My wife can walk him. I’ve been asked to stand down. I’m out. done.

Too bad really, Cause I love the little guy. We were friends once. maybe we can patch up our differences someday and move forward. people do it all the time.

Skunks? really? getting to be no ones safe outside after dark. take heed.

They’re out there you know? waiting. watching.

I’m just lucky none of my neighbors saw the exchange. This kind of stuff is not what I want to be known for around town. I’ve already made a few bad judgement calls since we moved in according to my wife. I’m trying to fit in here, honest I am. but we’re talking about a wild animal. and they can be unpredictable. you never know what they’re thinking.

If I could have somehow communicated with it? I would have told it, ramble on little friend, the dog and I mean you no harm. he’s just got to take a leak, and I’m only out walking him because my mother-in-law is out of town.

Alas that would not matter. no words or hopes or prayers would save me on this evening stroll. I was dealing with a force of nature. one that could not and would not be reasoned with.

If only? I had not panicked.

If only? I had not listened to my co-workers advice.

Maybe I would have avoided the ordeal? I really am not the monster I appear to be. I love animals. its true animals sense something inside of us. they have a sixth sense. this animal like other animals I have come into contact with in my life decided that enough was enough. he must pay. there is a bill that must be paid. a debt that must be settled.

I’m not going out after dark anymore. let them tangle with someone else for a change.

I’m through with the animal kingdom for a while. at least for the time being.

I cannot look back on a life of achievement anymore, or of challenges met, or competitors bested.

This obstacle was not overcome. I was.

Coconut Crab

I found it in the road, I didn’t know it fed on native birds and turtles? I didn’t know it was a hazard for children and pets? these things can rip through coconut husk like its butter. and will mess up your garden or lawn. 

-Professor Hugh Biquitis-

University of Hawaii 1977 Journal of Science.

___________________________________________________________

March 2015.

All hell was about to break loose on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Lives would be changed forever.

It started out like every other day in paradise. trade winds, sunshine, wit da waves rolling in.

OOOee Mano was on the lanai of his house upcountry in Waimea, when he heard it come on the radio.

Strange goings on.

The report told of a truck over turned on highway 19 coming down from Waimea. The driver identified as Justin Casey Bolts of Kona has disappeared without a trace. Officers first on the scene discovered someone or something had cut a hole from inside and escaped. According to its owner, the truck was transporting animals to a zoo exhibit at the Waikoloa Hilton. many of the animals and sea creatures are missing, having possibly escaped? those that haven’t, are either in no condition to give a statement. or can’t because they’re tropical birds and sea creatures and shit. inspection of the inside of the truck revealed carnage, in both the cab and in the back where the cages and water tanks were located. a brawl appears to have been fought here.

But who started it?  what happened to the participants? No one’s talking.

Those who have lived through an attack by a Coconut Crab or Crab’s will tell ya.

They’re Very Strong, Incredibly Ill Tempered. Originally from Micronesia. They posses a massive Stomach. It’s Pinchers are almost as big as your arm.

Brah? you get in its way? it hurt you bad. mess you up.

The Coconut Crab is a definite anti-social type. known to snap off fingers and indiscriminate to do some serious damage elsewhere.

OOOee was driving a cargo van that night bringing Snack cakes and Yoo-Hoo to The Kings and Queens Shops on the Kohala Coast.

Coming down the mountain on Highway 19 about an hour past sunset.

While rounding a turn, the crab attacked. its massive claw reached out and latched onto the back bumper of the van pulling itself aboard, cutting a hole and climbing inside.

Listening to his music and thinking about this and that. OOOee had no idea what was creepin about inside the back of his van.

Locked up long enough, this was one angry crab. bent on doing some bad.

The Coconut Crab burst inside the cab and started snapping his massive claw at OOOee. Who did what anyone would when faced with a Hideous Creature ready to do you harm. he hit it repeatedly with a wrench really hard. screaming like a little schoolgirl, he fainted. driving off the side of the road down the steep embankment. The Van smashed through the lava rocks and various scrub bushes coming to a violent halt landing in an old lava tube.

Lucky for OOOee this lava tube was an old flow. and not the new lava that flowed on the other side of the island.

The vans drivers door was wedged in between the lava rock. it wouldn’t open. OOOee released his seatbelt climbing out the window.

The Beast was thrown through the windshield as the van came to rest in the lava tube.

OOOee didn’t stop to wait and see if it was ok? OK? he turned and ran for his life, scrambling up the embankment towards the road above.

Coconut Crab was in Hot Pursuit. growling and covered in snack cakes and broken bottles of Yoo-Hoo.

Making it back to the main road. No streetlights, gas stations, Nothing, but….darkness.

When night falls on the island. you can’t see your hand in front of your face. only thing to do is head down the road and hope a car or truck comes by. and, that they stop.

Car headlights approached at a high rate of speed.

OOOee frantically waved his arms. it swerved narrowly missing him. continuing on tail lights disappearing over the next rise.

The growling began to get louder, and Louder.

What is that thing?

Another set of headlights in the distance.

Stepping onto the roadway. he could hear loud music and a woman’s screaming as the car locked up its brakes.

OOOee stood terrified in the oncoming lane. the driver yelled out the window “Are You Crazy?!?”

A young couple most likely on their honeymoon far away from whatever place they called home. the lady was straddling the man in the front seat. These two were definitely not observing the rules of the road in any country.

OOOee pleaded, “You Gotta Help Me, Something Is After Me!”

The girl in the car reached for her shorts on the passenger seat trying to cover herself up, yelling at her new husband.

“Donny! Don’t Stop!”

“Honey, this man needs our help. can’t you wait til we get back to the room? or at least until we drop him off?”

She screamed louder…..”What?!? NO! Not That. Let’s Get Out Of Here. I’m Scared…”

The Crab Leaped over the embankment through the open passenger window of the stopped car.

OOOee ran. he couldn’t see a thing. looking back over his shoulder he heard the voices of the young man and woman screaming. the cars suspension rocking back and forth violently until it slowly stopped.

All you could hear now was the surf below coming ashore.

Growling.

What is That?

The Crab was headed his way.

“I was supposed to have the day off.”

He kept moving.

Quarter mile up the highway, OOOee took a louie down a side road that led to a restricted section of land used by the army as training grounds during World War II. the area is littered with unexploded bombs and other munitions that have yet to be cleaned up. multiple pleas from locals to the U.S Government have gone unanswered. Feral dogs run loose in the area occasionally stepping on and detonating old ordinance. its extremely dangerous. Security fences surround the land blocking the public from entering.

Keep Out.

U.S. Army Property.

He climbed over the fence to the property.

Maybe? someone would be on guard? watching the place? maybe they had a phone?

OOOee didn’t. he left his phone in the truck. $#%T!

The place was quiet, no sign of a guard or guard-house anywhere. Large holes pockmarked the ground. Enormous impact craters surrounded him.

Maybe I can hide in one of these and wait it out until daylight? he thought.

The fence rattled. he stopped moving, listening. just the breeze. quiet……

The fence rattled again….

Low growling at first, grew louder. this was a different sound.

A feral dog approached baring its teeth. inching closer to OOOee.

The dog never saw the crab until it was too late. knocking it flat. the hound had…had it.

OOOee ducked his head below the rim of the crater he was in. holding his breath. had it seen me?

What is that thing?

The crab did indeed see him. it started to growl. stepping forward placing its leg directly on top of an unexploded munition. until….the munition, exploded. the concussion of the blast set off countless other old bombs and munition on the grounds. the night sky glowed. The crab was blown to bits.

Help came pretty quick as the blasts were heard up in Upcountry. 

The Police along with Army Officers from Pohakuloa Training Area showed up to interrogate OOOee. Satisfied. OOOee was then taken to the hospital treated and released.

He ended up being a hero to the locals. currently the area is slated to get the ok for development of 5 homestead communities that are located within two sections of the Big Island that OOOee helped clear by accidentally luring the crab onto the private property. The sections cover about 100,000 acres.

The crab pushed its luck too far. should have headed out to sea and left well enough alone. but no? it had to push it. Messed wit da wrong Hawaiian.

Sometimes you eat the OOOee. Sometimes, the OOOee eats you.

“How did dat ting get loose?” everyone wanted to know.

Turns out when the driver of the truck stopped for a burger in Waimea. Some Eco-Extremist-Conservationists later identified as Yutov Moore, Ahmad Dogg, Sue Flay, Helen Bedd and Dawn Sara Lee Light broke into the parked truck and tried to release all of the animals. they were successful getting inside. beginning to open the cages and water tanks, until the driver appeared. scaring them off before they had completed their mission. unaware of this, he drove off.

Mass hysteria immediately ensued inside, critters and creatures of the sea and the air began to rip each other to shreds on the road down from Waimea to Waikoloa. Mayhem eventually smashed into the cab. the driver fought for his life and lost. being consumed by several of the larger creatures including the Coconut Crab. setting in motion the colossal struggle witnessed today on the Big Island of Hawaii.

As for OOOee? No Worries Brah, He Da King of Da Big Island, Island Royalty. if only for today? that’s cool wit OOOee. he’s just happy to be home. sitting in his chair, cold drink in hand, enjoying cool breezes.

Wit not a care in the world.

“Today I am Colonel Pineapple. Yesterday I was Captain Coconut. But I got promoted.”

Listening to his music and thinking about this and that.

The only appropriate emotion is gratitude.

The Dead Tree

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I didn’t know you needed a permit to cut down a tree?

We should have been more observant. buyers beware. we didn’t know? if we had? we might have tried to work the tree removal into the cost of our house. sometimes, you overlook the little stuff.

On the day we moved in, I stepped out into our backyard to soak up our new purchase. this was both my wife and my first home.

I looked to my left and saw a woman about 60 to 65 years old watering her flowers. she smiled at me. It wasn’t difficult to offer up a warm smile in return. I extended my hand over our common fence and said, “Hi! I’m Robert your new neighbor.”

She took my hand, shook it and said in one breath. “Hi! I’m Linda….Did you know your tree is dead and is going to fall on my roof? you really should think about taking it down.” I turned and looked up at the tree, then back to her. “I……?” she went on with a concerned tone, “I think it’s got the Emerald Ash Borer? The Village Forrester can confirm that for you. You should get a quote about having it removed.”

I continued to smile, nodding at her. “I will be sure to do that, umm? thanks. well?” clapping my hands together. “It’s very nice to meet you, I better go see how the movers are doing?” I turned around walked back into the house.

My wife was unpacking a box in the kitchen. “I can’t wait to meet our new neighbors.” she said smiling at me. I looked at her and thought yeah? well? at least one of them can’t wait to meet you.

One week after we moved in I got to work, first I would need to do some prep work. I got the Village Forrester out to confirm in fact that the tree was dead. during his visit, he never said a word to me about getting a village permit to remove the tree.

I had been living in the concrete jungle for the past 17 years. how was I suppose to know you needed such a thing?

Someone told me, I could save a few bucks cutting down the tree myself. seeing as how we had just plopped down a decent chunk of coin on a down payment on our house. I figured, I got this. how hard is it to cut down a tree? I see them do it all the time on that Discovery channel show “American Loggers.”

Our backyard is more wide than it is deep. so taking this tree down which was at least 40 feet tall. I figured? that with a circumference of about a foot and a half to maybe 2 feet? I needed to take it out piece by piece.

I didn’t want it to fall on our house. my wife pleaded with me to hire a professional, I did get some quotes. the local companies wanted around 3 to 5 grand to remove it. the cheapest quote I got was for about half of that, and we’d have to wait about 2 months before they could fit us into their schedule. I didn’t want to pay the 3 to 5 grand, or wait for 2 month’s to get it removed.

A lot can happen in that time.

You can find a lot of do-it yourself information on the internet these days. after doing my research I was completely confident I could handle this job. so I got to measuring my backyard and plot the path of the tree coming down. very important piece of information for any of you attempting this type of job.

We live in an older part of town in our village so the lot sizes are tight. we have our privacy as there are lots of mature trees on our property. I found that I could rent a chainsaw by the hour, day or week. I would also need to rent tree climbing spurs. as it would be necessary to prune the upper branches first before cutting the trunk. the trick is to stay off the branches as they can be rotted out on a dead tree. some of them were on ours. carrying a saw with you up into the tree is a delicate act in and of itself. one must be extremely careful.

Do I sound like I know what I’m doing? I do? Really?

Turns out I got some of it exactly right. problem is in taking down a tree of this size you need to get all of it right. the smallest miscalculation is not good. once a tree starts to fall? there is no way to stop it. no way at all. No do overs.

How was I suppose to know that the tree wouldn’t fall the way I had planned? The speed and velocity of the tree coming down on her roof was incredible. I truly underestimated the strength of its impact. it happened so fast. CRACK! BOOM! Lucky for me. Linda wasn’t home. Her cat was however. But he’s not talking. No one has seen Mr. Scruffles since. I’m pretty confident he escaped. as they didn’t find any squashed cat remains in the house when they went in to survey the damage.

Linda as you can imagine wasn’t too pleased when she got home and saw what I’d done to her home. it was exactly as she said. the tree fell on her roof.

“I’m pretty sure the tree was there first?” I told her.

“You may not have built the house? but you did decide to purchase it from the prior owner and live there knowing full well that there were trees in the vicinity? and you were the one who left your cat home alone unattended.”

She pulled out her cell phone, “You are in a lot of trouble buddy.”

“Linda? if you remember? I was only doing what you asked me to, cut down the tree before it….”she finished my sentence. …..”falls on my house? YOU IDIOT! Look At What You’ve Done!”

About the time she was taking me to task, she realized her cat was inside. that’s when she stopped yelling.

“my cat.”

Immediately I tried to diffuse the horror of what may have happened by reassuring her.

“I’m sure its fine?….I couldn’t hear any meowing inside after the impact.”

“If it was in peril it would make a noise, right?”

Then I offered to buy her a new cat if Mr. Scruffles isn’t found? she started to dial.

In a half hour, I had gotten three calls, one from her attorney. one from her insurance company. and one from the village. then the police stopped by. I still think she over-reacted a little. after all? she got what she wanted, took the tree down? Didn’t I?

Honestly I didn’t know you needed a permit to cut down a tree.

We got all of the insurance settlements expedited, all of our other legal issues? were thankfully handled out of court.

I’ve told the village that I was still more than willing to pay for the permit to remove the tree.

It’s been little over a year and a half now since the mishap. Linda’s house has been fixed, looks pretty good. new roof, new bedroom wall, new fence, so? all is well. except for the I told you so’s from my wife, and the cold looks I still get from my next door neighbor.

Maybe one day Linda will forgive me? I’m not such a bad guy? given the chance, I can be really neighborly.

I’m just trying to fit in here. It’s not as easy as you’d think.