What Is That Smell?

“The carpet is dirty.” she told me, wrinkling her nose. She was a prospective renter for a condo we manage.

“No, actually, that’s the color it is.  Multi-color sand and dirt, and it looks pretty good.  We’ll check it out when the furniture is off.” I was able to reassure her, but I could smell it too.  Mild animal odor.

This carpet isn’t that old!  I can’t stand the thought of replacing it again already…aaagghh!

I remember other times being assaulted with an odor as soon as I stepped into a house.  Usually it was the house of an animal lover with indoor pets abounding, or an elderly couple whose days of cleaning up immaculately after kitty were past. This all makes me think of the power of smell to form our opinions, and rather quickly I might add. This is not good news.  For one, the impression left on a prospective renter might mean I have to replace carpet in the condo I was showing.  For two, it means I have to watch out as some people would describe the husband and I as an elderly couple whose days of cleaning up immaculately after kitty are past.

We aren’t that old!!  I clean up after that cat all the time, cat hair, cat puke, cat litter, all of it…

One of these days I will start losing my sense of smell.  It might actually be an old age blessing, I don’t know.  but it’s not happening yet.  Lately every time I walk into my closet from a certain direction (there are two doors) I smell something… something sour, old.and difficult to describe any more concretely.  It’s only there for a few seconds and then it’s gone. I have done housecleaning professionally and following my training I have taken that closet apart, including inspection of all the shoe soles, behind the small dressers and washing the throw rug.  There is nothing there.  I have checked out the air vents. Nothing.  I don’t know where else to check, but the smell is still there.

Did I just tell people that my house stinks?!  I’m making it sound like I live in a barn – that’s just not right.  I shouldn’t write that. 

Lying in bed in the morning, I can tell if the timer on the coffee pot worked. I can walk toward my kitchen and tell immediately if the garbage should have been taken out the night before.  I can tell what it is in the garbage that is announcing itself and almost to the hour how long it has been there. I can tell from the opposite end of the house that the pan cooking whatever on the stove is out of water and working on a burn.  I can tell if the cat has used the litter box (oh, how I can tell!), I can tell if the shirt lying on the dryer is used and on its way to the wash or fresh and on its way to the closet.  I can smell way too much sometimes.

I’m revealing my smell obsession.  Stop it now.

Last night as a friend came to the house to bring me something, we stopped and talked by the dining room table.  I was very nervous to linger there as it was the area of one of my latest mystery smells.  Smelled like rotting chicken.  Really.  Fortunately she was bringing me some essential oils which smell really great.  I will never know whether she decided to demonstrate the difuser out of self defense.  She was too polite to say, and I kept hoping it was just happy coincidence that she chose a nice strong lavender.

Wow, maybe I do live in a barn!  What kind of house cleaner am I?!

When the husband came home from band practice, he smelled it too, and said he had been smelling it for days.  Funny thing, it was coming from his briefcase that he keeps on a chair at the end of the table.  Yeah, the one he takes to work and sometimes he throws his lunch into the side pocket.  Well, what do you know?  There’s still a boiled egg hiding in there from two weeks ago.  Nasty thing.

Gosh, it was rotting chicken.  We are getting so old.  But hey, we found it.  

I ran the difuser all night, right by my bed.  It was great.  I love lavender.



Please tell me this happens to you too.   Maybe, just once in a while?



Cleaners and Neaters

For me, one of the nicest things about travel is that eventually I get to come home. Home, after two weeks away, is almost like someplace I’ve never been. It is a familiar, but still strange sort of place.

I get to use a full size tube of tooth paste.

My friends and family say they missed me.

There is an abundance of meaningful work to do.

I don’t have to wear dirty clothes unless I want to.

And oddly enough, instead of responding to unusual circumstances that present themselves only on rare occasions, I have to think about and be who I need to be for the long haul, the majority of day to day living. More about that later.

As I reacquaint myself with the house where I live with the husband, I am suddenly able to figure something out that I have wondered about for years.  We are different, the husband and I, and that’s good and serves a purpose. Here is my newest definition of a particular difference.

Some people are neat and tidy but not necessarily cleaners.

Other people makes lots of messes when they work but they are cleaners when it’s done.

Neaters and cleaners, that’s it.  I can think of so many examples of how this works out – like our paperwork and files.  Everything is stacked or filed (kept) meticulously, but usually it is only one of us who cleans and throws out the outdated and unnecessary.  Bathroom stuff is on its shelf or drawer, but only one of us wipes out the drawer and cleans the shelf. The dishwasher is loaded and run, but only one of us clears and cleans the counters and puts stuff away.  

Now unless you begin to think that the cleaner is in some way superior to the neater, let me say that it’s not true.  I am the cleaner (in case you haven’t figured it out) and I am capable of what I call “creative mess” at any moment.  I am following a trail and can’t be bothered with neatness along the way. Besides, I know I’m going to have to clean it up eventually, so I get to choose when. There is evidence of my creative side all over the house but the husband doesn’t often mind (or notice) as long as his stuff is in the pile where he put it (neatly). We were meant to coexist.

Those of us who love our homes will probably admit that the cleaning and organizing that we do is part of the “love”.  The satisfaction of making a difference, even if it’s only to clean a counter or rearrange a corner of the living room, is like getting to catch up with an old friend.  Yep, that’s what I’m doing today and it’s good to be home… I’m just sayin’.