Nov 15 2008

Wine fridge

Zippy, still hearing the call of the wild at age 16, does not need a wine fridge to survive.

Goddammit, it’s been months since the initiation of my relocation to the Texas Hill Country. The move has not yet been completed. This is because the house, which has been under construction for three years, remains adamantly opposed to my occupation.

For example, the cistern water is of a highly questionable character (I’m being generous here. If I described accurately the semi-liquid substance emitted by my spigots you would have to stop reading and hurl. See The Magic Christian for more information). Windows leak, doors freak, faucets overshoot sinks and soak people square in the crotch (funny until it happens to you), flipping on a porch light causes a county-wide blackout, etc.

Even still yet now today a hora, as years drag into decades and I begin to wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled, there remain holes to be drilled, filters ordered, bondo applied, Bobcats rented, seeds sewn, seams caulked, snakes removed, water samples sent off to labs, messages left on sub-contractors’ cell phones so they can leave messages on my cell phone placing the blame for their fuckups on other sub-contractors, and, naturally, bills to be paid.

In the meantime I’m camping out in the new house, come hell or high water. Fortunately the wine fridge — an anomaly, it’s the only non-German appliance in the joint, and consequently the only one that works — has been properly installed and is humming along like a vintage Bentley. At some point in the distant past, when my obstreperal lobe was running on all eight cylinders, I cleverly stocked this excellent fridge with a bunch of snazzy boutique wines my father left me. I hate to think to what abysmal depths of despair I would have sunk had I not seen to this critical detail.

I allude in particular to an episode of telephonal infamy. In this episode, the phone company — a vile entity known as Verizon — put me on permahold for about 86 and a half hours. This permahold was necessary so that I might experience the maximum degree of angry frustration when they at last informed me that it would be three months before they would get around to installing a land line. Bright young auntie that I am, it began to dawn on me that this delay would leave me to fend off the creeping discomfiture of boondockian isolation with nothing but my wits and my cell phone. The ruralized performance of which cell phone I can only characterize as shitty.

I won’t comment on my wits.

You’d be surprised at the frequency with which a phone can come in handy when you’re living in a half-built internetless house out in the middle of West Rattlesnake. It turns out that, out here, there is a one-to-one correspondence between the degree of phone call urgency and the ineffectuality of your cell phone. Your mom calls to jaw about Erica Kane getting booted off Dancing With The Stars? No problem! You got 5 bars. But the minute a pack of rabid wild hogs corners you on the precipice of a 60-foot bluff, forget about it. You’re goin’ down, and no one’s gonna find your vulture-pecked corpse for weeks. Thanks, AT&T!

Cell phones: at or near the top of my list of things that people cling to desperately despite the fact that they don’t fucking work. Also on that list: wrinkle cream, Jesus, and anything that purports to get the skunk out of a skunked dog.

Seriously. You can mix up hydrogen peroxide, lemony-fresh dish soap, baking soda, white vinegar and tomato juice, and soak that mutt all day long, but take it from me; if you think the dog smells even an iota better after all that, you’re delusional. Nothing but time gets the skunk out of a skunked dog. At least, nothing that won’t kill the dog.

So if it weren’t for that wine fridge — and the fact that it’s fucking excellent out here — I would have pulled my own head off by now.


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  1. TP

    Thanks for the Zippy pic. Look at that face. The heart comes close to popping.

  2. Megan

    Aw, it’s a dog…hi, Zippy.

    Isn’t it pretty cheap to live in Texas? (Land, real estate, that sort of thing.) I’ve been researching cheap places to live, with or without my sperm donor (depends on how he evolves), once I get my master’s and my newest chickadee (due next March) is off the tit. Texas sounds like a bit of a hassle though. The U.S. is optional.

    My friend caught a feral kitten once, a beautiful little long-haired Siamese mix. Right after she was sprayed by a skunk. We started calling her Skunk, and it stuck (along with the smell). Now she’s this regal, huge, elegant cat…named Skunk.

  3. Orange

    Wow, that’s a lot of hassle and inconvenience. Can the patriarchy be blamed for it?

  4. PhysioProf

    Even still yet now today a hora

    You’re doing the hora? Isn’t that illegal in Texas?

  5. nina

    So, what are you drinking? Details, please.

  6. Mel

    Verizon is pretty fucking evil, in my book, but I think most phone companies are varying degrees of evilitudinous.

    I always tell people that no skunk formula will completely eliminate the odor – this I also know from experience – but the peroxide/baking soda/dish soap one certainly helps. Thankfully, the local skunk doesn’t venture through our yard very often.

  7. Medbh

    Our Isis was a pooch who loved to catch skunks for the double treat of terrorizing the poor beastie and then the tomato juice bath which followed.
    Lap, lap, lap it up she did.

  8. Twisty

    “Wow, that’s a lot of hassle and inconvenience. Can the patriarchy be blamed for it?”

    I blame the patriarchy for the fact that I perceive these stupid details as hassle and inconvenience. The fact is, I live in paradise. I sleep on a feather bed with a 180 degree view of the hills. Every morning I leap from it with a glad cry, put a caffe Americano in a go cup, and take a brisk hike in the woods when the air is crisp and a light fog wisps through the valley. There are flocks of wild turkeys and deer and red-tailed hawks and a crystal clear creek full of perch and catfish and little frogs, and NO PEOPLE for MILES, but I am too imbued with some bullshit urban ideology to cope properly with bad cell phone reception. What a fucking asshole I am.

    Megan, I cannot recommend the Austin area as a cheepo place to homestead. You can’t buy a tarpaper shack in town for under half a million. Land out in the Hill Country is going for $20-30K per acre (a far cry from the price I paid many years ago, let me assure you). Austin’s great, but it’s just a few clicks from hell-hole.

  9. slythwolf

    You have to detox from the urban bullshit for a while before it really sinks in that you don’t need a lot of the shit we take for granted. It sounds like a fantastic place.

    Speaking of dogs and skunks, worse than a skunked dog is a dog that has been sprayed in the open mouth, who then comes inside the house foaming skunk-spray out of her mouth all over the carpet. The dog actually deskunked fairly quickly, very little of her fur having been contaminated, but the carpet was not so lucky. Being indoors nauseated us for months. And we had to sleep in that house.

  10. sonia

    even better than when you blame is when you blame and livin-the-radfem-dream report.


  11. Pinko Punko

    So somehow “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” was on the TV and my brain just went pop. Like a kernel of popcorn. Pllof. Bif. Zop. Gone. Donezoes. Head in the wine fridge. Over.

    Did Zippy get skunkwagoned or was it the blacklisted B?

  12. rainie

    Years ago I heard that tomato juice is the deskunking elixir of choice. I have no firsthand experience, but it sounds plausible.

  13. ass

    A great many people around the blog have no potable drinking water, no electricity, and certainly no wine fridge or personal radio tower.
    How you must bleed.

  14. Jeni

    Aw, Zippy! What a sweet dog. He looks a bit lean, though; is that just the angle of the shot?

    If you get too sick of dealing with Paradise all day, come visit Edinburgh. I’ll buy you beers!

  15. Zooeyibz

    I live Ibiza, which is basically paradise on earth (and rattlesnake free) yet still nearly tore my head off out of sheer frustration with the local telephone/internet monopoly which – among its other amusign gambits – installed our ADSL in the flat down the block and randomly changed our phone number without warning.
    No matter where you are, technology is a fuckup – IBTP who run the systems.

  16. Twisty

    “How you must bleed.”

    I couldn’t agree more, ass, and though your “gotcha!” sarcasm is something of a tired internet ploy, I applaud your incisiveness in illuminating the group that my attempt at an amusing anecdote is transparently just another revolting example of privileged honky whining. I trust I can count on you for another salty riposte when I start complaining about how you just can’t find good help these days.

    It just shows to go ya how in a megatheocorporatocratic society you can’t even trust your internet feminists to be sufficiently ascetic. Of course some — not me, certainly, but some — might point out that, globally speaking, merely having the education, position, and opportunity to correct the worldviews of internet feminists is a luxury enjoyed only by a tiny minority.

  17. tinfoil hattie

    Aaah — sounds like perfection. The part about no people for miles especially appeals to me right now.

  18. Theriomorph

    Scope mouthwash or the jumbo generic versions. Seriously. WAY better than tomato juice. The alcohols in it strip the majority of the skunk oil from the fur – and while you wait for time to do the rest you have a minty-fresh stinky dog.

    Your new place sounds damn good in spite of Verizon, Twisty. Glad for you. How’s Stanley?

  19. blondie

    Hi Zippy! Sorry to hear about your skunking. Remember, those black and white kitties aren’t kitties. Not good for chasing.

  20. Melody-Jane

    It sounds horrific, is there not an upside?

    I presume any and all upsides are nothing to do with the patriarchy?

  21. derrp

    Theriomorph, I was just thinking that some type of alcohol would do the trick. It would probably work best if it was able to sit on the fur for a while. Maybe a Costco size jug of hand sanitizer?

    Twisty, the comment by “ass” sure was boring, but your response? Perfection. Salty riposte! I’m going to have to start a database of these gems.

  22. Orange

    Re: Twisty’s response at 8:32: Oh, snap!

    Ass would disdain me even more. I am not leaving my big-city environs with all the advantages and potable water a woman could want. I don’t hanker to get away from the masses of humanity that surround me–I like that sort of thing. Well, when I get off the internet and out of the house, that is. Of course, there are hungry people right here in America. They have potable water, but are homeless or thisclose to homelessness–and they might not be feeling so terribly lucky, to be living here in the First World but lackign First World resources. Plus, dang, the Third World folks without electricity mostly don’t live in places with frigid winters. Chicago gets unsurvivable without gas and electric.

    Am I rambling again? Oh, dear. It must be the flirtinis I drank.

  23. lawbitch

    After being without electricity for 8 days following Ike, I now appreciate electricity on a new level. Forget the phone! Gotta keep your wine cold, ya know!

    P.S. Megan, it’s still relatively cheap down here on the Gulf Coast. Gotta brave the heat/humidity, hurricanes, mosquitoes, bugs, etc. It’s still pretty civilized, though.

  24. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    I’ve been watching the economy and our nations infrastructure go down the crapper and frankly I think we ALL should be prepared to face campsite-quality living conditions, just in case. I deal with the survival/preparedness question by asking myself: If I were going on a three month long camping trip to (Survivor Island, Mount Nowhere, or the New Twisty Digs perhaps), what would I pack? The result was my Survive the Apocalypse shopping list, and this item made the top: A Berkey water (ceramic/gravity) filter. It looks like a canteen. You can set it out in the rain and an hour or so later you’ll have potable water. There are probably cheaper ceramic/gravity filters out there, and handy folks might even want to try to make their own. I, however, am lazy.

    The second item on my list was a solar power generator, which I built myself with a solar panel and 12 volt boat battery, then wrote about on my blog. Here it is; I hope the Spamulator doesn’t git me:


    As for Zippy, yay Zippy is alive and well! Who cares if he stinks! But what about that enzyme cleaner that kills the cat pee odors? Might that work? Failing that, would he accept a shave?

  25. compcat

    Technu helps strip the oil off of skunked dogs too. Nothing completely gets the smell, though.

    According to the Terrierman (http://www.terrierman.com/skunk.htm) who gets all sorts of skunk experience, natures miracle skunk odor remover is the best. Unfortunately, he also says:

    “As for getting rid of skunk stink, well good luck with that! Skunk stink lasts and lasts because the thioacetates in skunk spray break down into stinky thiols over time, resulting in the stink coming back, especially after the dog gets wet. The thiols can only be eliminated by repeated application of a soap-and-oxygenater combination, such as peroxide and hand soap. No matter what you do, the stink will be with you for 30 days.”

    On the upside, Hooray! Zippy is still around kicking back and ummm, annoying wildlife. Such a good dog.

  26. Ron Sullivan


    The older I get, the better that sounds.

  27. Vinaigrette Girl

    Thiols are broken down photochemically and stabilised by both iron and copper. So washing the Texas dust out has to help, laden as the stuff is with all those divalent metals; and maybe adding some cheap vodka to the tomato juice will assist in further breaking down those ligands. Most of those bonds break up pretty nicely with inkyhool.[hic]

  28. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    So happy to see Zippy again. She appears to be in fine fettle.

    In my experience, the only thing that cures a skunked dog is shaving. Sadly, this sends the dog into pitiful fits of shame and self-loathing, so I don’t recommend it. And you still have to rent the rug-shampooing machine. Cut off your nose and you’d still smell skunk-funk through your ears. Pleh.

  29. narya

    Hey! I know a cat named Zippy! But I don’t think they’re related.

    Yes, I, too, want to know what you’re drinkin’.

  30. Mooska

    This is irrelevant to this thread, but if I stick it on the Aussie mining town thread, no-one will see it and it *did* make me laugh. I came across an article about that whole ‘Ugly Women Wanted’ saga recently, and they’d actually bothered to talk to a couple of local women, who said that the local men – and I know this will cause many of you to faint delicately away with shock – are too busy drinking beer and shouting/honking at women from their trucks to have any time for swashbuckling dalliance, or even normal conversation.

    In short, as one woman put it, “We have a saying round here: The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”

    Your house and surrounds sound lovely, Twisty, scorpions and foul water aside. A pox on your phone company, and all power to your internet connection.

  31. Sidewriter

    I cannot vouch for it myself, but I’ve heard that skunk smell can be fought with Massingil (and vaseline to keep it away from the eyes.)

  32. NeoCleo

    Sorry about the skunk, Twisty, but even with all the problems I can’t feel too sorry for you. I hope that when I finally retire I have some place as beautiful as yours to run off to and spend the rest of my years.

  33. Theriomorph

    Maybe a Costco size jug of hand sanitizer?

    Ha! I think that’s for when they roll in dead thing, though.

  34. denelian

    is it possible to get cable installed and get a CABLE phone? i much prefer them, anyway. i am guessing now, based on the tower, but its a thought – go for the cable instead of the phone, and the you have a better internet connect, 500 channels of godaweful misogynistic crap and a phone.

    or… well, maybe get a cb radio instead and damn BOTH the phone and the cable…

    good luck. the place look georgous!

  35. Rikibeth

    VinaigretteGirl, when mixing cheap vodka with tomato juice to address skunk stink problems, is it better to apply the mixture to the dog, or to take the combination internally so you just care less about the stink?

  36. Vinaigrette Girl

    Rikibeth, good question; my own vote would be to continue washing the dog and drinking a cold beer, because the mere idea of skunk-o-dog plus cheap vodka hangover is already giving me jaundice. But that’s me.

    Seriously, I would think that adding cheap inkyhool would help break up the thiol groups and render them more liable to washing out. The little sods like to hang on to proteins, even keratin, as well as to hunker down in lipids.

  37. alphabitch

    We lived in the woods on a lake when I was a child. My Irish setter got skunked from time to time, and once mom bathed her in tomato juice. The dog promptly rolled in dead fish and rotting seaweed. It was thirty-some years before I could drink a bloody mary without thinking of skunk and dead fish in the most visceral way possible.

    I kept at it, though. Totally worth it.

  38. Lockon

    I’m sorry, but I can’t stop laughing at ass thinking that people using a computer and internet connection to read a blog are thinking “damn, I wish I had electricity”.

  39. Gayle

    She may not smell so good but Zippy looks fit and healthy! Not bad for a sixteen year old.

    You go, Zippy!

  40. Jodie

    Zippy is soooo cute.

    The whole skunk experience could be worse — one of my friends’ dogs cornered a skunk under her older, frame house. According to my friend, the dog was the LEAST of her worries.

  41. Broce

    Twisty really, I’m not laughing at your situation, I’m laughing with you.

    In 1957 my parents got married and bought a house built in 1910, built by, my father swore “Nova Scotian carpenters”..which is only funny if you know my mothers father was born in Nova Scotia and he said that to annoy her.

    They redid much of the house…replastered walls, refinished floors, only to discover after all that was done that the electrical wiring was so bad every bit of it had to be ripped out of the walls and re-done. My mother arrived home another day to discover that a badly placed wall in a tiny hallway had offended my father (he fell, and being a very tall man, wound up wedged and couldnt extricate himself for half an hour), and had been “disappeared” with a sledgehammer.

    My mother wound up writing a novella about this process, called “But please, don’t let me discourage you.” It purported to be a “primer” on how to fix up an old house. Each chapter told a different story about their experiences, ending with “But please, dont let me discourage you.”

    Like your journey, it wasnt a lot of fun in the living, but it made a great story for years to come.

  42. Greenconsciousness

    Ah Twisty

    Have you experienced hunting season yet?

  43. sonia

    not that we care, ok, but re: oh snap!

    I bet you that, um, ass, that posted about twisty’s whitebreadedness was this guy:


    just saying. i think it’s funny how men will bring up all kinds of other oppressions to make out that we should shut the front door about ours.

    because feminism is a side issue to, you know, the other REAL issues. the ones created by male power.

  44. Azundris

    sonia, briefly going off topic here, but wow, what a weird article that guy posted. So I take it his complaints are:
    a) “Only men should speak for feminism.” Because rich women will be attacked for being part of the patriarchy, and poor women will be suspected of just looking for somebody else to blame for their (own) lack of success.
    b) “twisty uses long words and makes more money than I do! I certainly won’t support her feminism if she doesn’t make proper gestures of submission and inferiority! By the way, where’s my blowjob?”
    c) “Speaking of which, twisty also wants to take my favorite kind of ‘sex’ away!”


    (As another data point I, twice removed culturally (European, born w/o silver spoon) and no genius, usually get twisty’s message five by five. So much for “incomprehensible elitist writing.”)

    Now back to our regular programme.

  45. Elaine Vigneault

    Zippy is really, really cute :)

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