Roman's Mother

Who is that good looking woman, you may ask. Well, if you read the header you would know, it's my mother Agnes. That also explains where Arthur (my son) inherited his looks from :) Anyway, my mother works as a mechanical engineer and is emplyed by Bently Nevada Corporation as a Lead Scientist. She specializes in vibration (not vibrators, you silly) and ways to detect rotating machinery problems non-distructively. You may think, that's not a job for the woman, but her work would contradict you. She can solve Lapunov's equations faster than you blink. She came to the US over 16 years ago, and adopted herself here very well. She is very active professionally and travels a lot. You can call her workaholic and perfectionist, she does not take no for the answer (ask her co-workers if you doubt it). She is also getting more active on the internet, so watch for her WEB presence in the future. You can reach her via e-mail @

Happy family

In the picture above you can find Agnes, Miriam (daughter-in-law), Don Bently (her long-time companion) and Arthur (grandson); I am hiding behind camera.

Agnes likes to write. Here is a sample of her writing. Read it, if you have unwanted skunks/animals in your backyard or a sense of humor.

Skunks -- by Agnes Muszynska

Photo Credit: Wendy Shattil, Bob Rozinski
BTW, how come two people get credit for one skunk picture... takes a picture and another steps on a gas ;)

One summer, a while ago, I took a two week business trip. On returning home I went to my garden to collect some parsley and dill for dinner. My garden was usually a mess. A lot of weeds growing high, almost taking over all the beds of planted vegetables. Thousands of grasshoppers grazed happily on my vegetables, and jumped out from under my feet as I made my way to the garden. Ugly and annoying as they were, the grasshoppers were relatively harmless, and I had learned to tolerate them. On this particular sunny and warm afternoon as I approached the patch of parsley, I was not surprised to hear the familiar noises of the grasshoppers, coming from the weeds. I did not pay much attention to the grasshoppers. It suddenly struck me, however, that the incoming sounds were not as uniform as usual, but came from one specific place just in front of me. I took one more step forward, and literally froze. Three feet away in the weeds, was a skunk! While I was unable to make a move, and my heart pounded heavily, this small, pretty animal with handsome white stripe over his black, furry back, slowly crawled toward the juniper bushes and disappeared from sight. I retreated cautiously and returned to the house. My thoughts were full on anxiety:
"I have a big problem, what to do?!"
I had known skunks only from books. In Poland there are no skunks!

Usually when something happened, my first step was to ask for help from our Plant Security people. At least they were available for 24 hours a day! So I called the Plant and asked for advice. The guard on duty did not have an immediate answer, but promised to call back shortly. After ten minutes he called to report a recommendation just received from the Animal Control Services, to whom he addressed my request. To start with, the guard reported, Animal Control stated that
"They do not do skunks."
However they did offered an advice:
"Get bread crumbs and scatter them on the lawn, starting from the bush where the skunk disappeared, to the garden gate, and finally beyond. Leave the gate opened overnight. The skunk will probably find it’s way out!"

I did as recommended, carefully trying to avoid immediate encounters with the skunk when scattering the bread.

Next morning I went outside to check the effectiveness of the previous day’s measures. Well…, some crumbs had disappeared. The skunk was not in sight also. But then my neighbor, a retired lady, came out from her house and approached the fence which separated our lots.

She started the conversation by saying: "Do you know that you have skunks in your back yard?"
I was surprised that she knew, and I related to her the story of the previous day’s events.

"The problem is that you do not have a skunk, but you have a FAMILY of skunks!"
and she revealed the frightening truth. Apparently when I was out of town, a female skunk gave birth to two babies in my back yard, most probably under my porch. Since then, the skunk family lived in my yard. The neighbors watched them playing on my lawn every evening. The skunks looked cute, but the neighbors were seriously afraid that the skunk family would cross the fence and invade their yard. My neighbors always silently disapproved of the messy state of my garden. Now the skunk story was related to me, also with a tone of disapproval.

I now had a REAL problem. How to get rid of a family of skunks?! By now, they probably thought of my back yard as their own home!

When I went to work at the Plant I asked my secretary to look for some help. She was a very energetic and enthusiastic woman, and at once began calling various pertinent institutions around the county, and beyond. It was not easy, however, to obtain any information and advise on what to do with the skunks. By the end of the work day I had received a single advice from the Animal Control Agency of the neighboring county as a potential solution to the problem:
"Buy a wild animal trap-cage, cover it by a black plastic bag (skunks like darkness), and put inside the cage a fresh, fried chicken (the best is Kentucky fried chicken!). Leave everything overnight."

After reading these instructions I asked:
"And then what?!"
It looked as though the recommended solution was not bad for any wild animal, EXCEPT skunks. The Animal Control, which does not do skunks, evidently did not realize how unique a weapon this animal comes equipped with! If trapped, it is still very dangerous! Furthermore, I did not have just one skunk, but the entire family!!

The advice was clearly inapplicable. I started calling around, to all friends and acquaintances, asking them to refer to me anyone who might have had some experience with skunks.

By the end of the next day a recommendation arrived. It was passed to me by a forester, and this time it sounded quite reasonable and feasible.
"Skunks are nocturnal animals. They do not like light, they do not like noise, and are sensitive to smells. In particular they do not like the smell of camphor. You have to fight them psychologically!"

Shortly thereafter I went to the drug store and purchased four pounds of moth flakes. The contents of the package were duly spread on and under my porch, on the lawn, and under the juniper bushes where I had seen the skunk. A loudly playing radio was installed overnight on the porch. The porch lights were turned on, and a few more lamps were added around the yard. All gates to the yard were left widely opened overnight.

Later, my neighbors complained that they had not been able to sleep, as the music was too loud. However the cure for skunks was miraculously effective! Nobody has seen a skunk in my back yard since.

Minden, Nevada, April 1996

To learn more about skunks see Skunk and Opossum Page

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