Smelly Intrusions

There seems to be some conspiracy against Delaware Grammy’s nose.  Ever since returning from family vacation last week, there have been assaults upon my olfactory sensory neurons that are anything but pleasant.

It started on Wednesday when I had an appointment @ 10:00am in Dover.  Because our small group meets at our house on Wednesday evening, I took a look around my house the night before and decided that drastic measures were needed before I left for the appointment.  The kitchen was in a mess, my corner was utter chaos, newspapers were scattered about and there was an offensive smell coming from a closed ice cream bucket on my counter where I had been putting table scraps, melon rinds, tomato discards and even onion cuttings.  That would need to be dumped into the bucket that went to the composter.  I also had a Sam’s Club Rotisserie chicken carcass that needed to be disposed of.

So Wednesday morning I flew around and got a great deal of things accomplished.  The kitchen got straightened, the papers were sorted and put into their proper places.  The dishwasher was loaded to the gills, and started, and I decided that I would empty my ice cream bucket and dispose of the chicken carcass as a very last thing before heading out.  So when all was accomplished, the last counter was swished, and I was dressed and ready to go, I picked up the container with the chicken, and the ice cream bucket and headed out to the back deck, where resided the big bucket with a lid on it that carries “stuff” to the composter.  (When I was a little girl, we called it the “slop bucket” and we carried it to the pigs . . . but I digress.)

Anyhow, I carried the stuff out and dumped the carcass first, and then sent the contents of the very smelly, very full ice cream bucket into the larger pail.  It seemed that things did splash about rather muchly, but I didn’t think too much of it.  I made sure the ice cream bucket was empty, and carried it back to the kitchen.  I washed the bucket and disposed of the Sam’s container, gathered my stuff and headed out.

I wasn’t very far down the road when I smelled something really stinky.  It smelled just like that stinky old slop bucket.  I kept searching down the front of my shirt, scrutinizing my skirt and my shoes, even checking out my nylons to see what ever could be clinging there that would be making such an unacceptable smell.  I got to thinking about my appointment, and wondering what they were going to think when I arrived smelling like a slop bucket.  Oh, dear.  I found some wet wipes that I keep in the car and washed my arms and hands, wiped my neck and face, and even brushed over my clothes with them.  I had some deliciously good smelling Rose lotion, and I worked that into my hands.  It seemed to help, but every now and then, I would still catch a whiff of something.  I do not know what it was, even to this day, but I finally decided that the smell had lodged in my nose and kept sending out a warning.  But whatever it was, it wasn’t pleasant.  And it served to make me feel a little insecure, to say the least.

Then Thursday, I had a basket of laundry from the nursing home from Cecilia that needed washing, and I was so puzzled.  I’ve been doing her laundry from there since the end of May, and I have NEVER had it smell so strong of old urine as that basket of stuff did.  It was so strong and stale a smell that I wasn’t sure I could even get it out of her clothes in a satisfactory manner.  So I shoved it into the washer, added some laundry booster, some smell good beads, plenty of detergent and whitener, brightener, and washed it up.  It smelled sweet when I was done, but sometimes when I came into the house, I thought I still smelled something suspicious.

Today the bad smell seemed pretty much contained in my laundry room.  And let me tell you, it was “rankin’!”  Shew!  I just could not figure it out, and of course I kept complaining to my family about it.  They didn’t think they smelled it, (at least not “too much”) and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that could possibly smell so bad.  I looked and sniffed and sniffed and looked.  Nothing would yield the results I wanted.  And the smell seemed to have several possible indicators.  Most of the time it seemed like a dirty diaper.  Sometimes even more offensive — like a dead mouse.  I even thought that someone may have even brought a live sea creature in a shell home from the beach in their pocket, where it (naturally) died and was now making its presence known.  I sniffed the various articles of clothing in the closet and none of them seemed to be the culprit.

Then in the middle of the afternoon, Middle Daughter took a load of sheets to the wash line and when she came back in, she said, “Oh, Mom.  I found the source of your bad smell!”

“Oh, really?  What was it:”  I asked.

“Remember that bucket of potatoes?”  She asked.

My heart sank.  Of course I remembered those potatoes.  “Yes?” I answered, afraid to hope and fully prepared.  We had dug the last of our potatoes before going on family vacation and I had left some of them in a bucket.  When we were leaving, I set the bucket outside the back door and had told Nettie’s caregiver that she could use them if she wished. and then I had pretty much forgotten about them.

“Well,” Deborah said with that note in her voice.  “What happens when you leave a bucket of potatoes out, and it rains on them and then it gets really hot?”  She could have skipped the science lesson.  I’ve lived long enough to know these things.  “Anyhow,” she continued, “those potatoes are terrible.  They stink awful!  Somebody better do something with them!”

Oh, dear!  Well.  Somebody should, I guess. I wished it wouldn’t need to be me.  She wasn’t offering anytime soon, obviously.  And I was getting ready for a wedding.  Certain Man was getting ready for the wedding, and he had to preach tomorrow, so I didn’t want to disturb him.  Besides, I felt really guilty about needing to get rid of them, what with the hard work he had put into planting them and digging them.  We had gotten some really good eating off our small patch, but there’s never a good reason for wasting “the end of the bucket.”  And it happens entirely too often at this house.  I decided, though, in light of the wedding and such, that I was going to let it go until we got back. I was doing some laundry for Cecilia, though, and a smell just kept wafting up every now and again, reminding me.

When Daniel and I left for the wedding, I decided to come clean about it.  I told him how I thought a bucket of rotten potatoes on the back deck was making my house stink, and his only comment was a resolute, “Well, we will need to take care of that when we get home.”  The wedding was sweet, and we enjoyed it very much, but it was getting dark by the time we got home, and I decided that I would just go ahead and take care of it while Daniel was doing other things, but he saw me loading up the golf cart with the offending bucket (upon which I had put a tight fitting lid) and he offered to help.  I said that I thought I could do it, but he was pretty intent on helping me, so we meandered off together to the composter, and got everything dumped, and the bucket washed.  Wow!  Was I ever glad that was over!  And he didn’t even scold me!  Not that he usually does, but he doesn’t like hard work and good food going to waste, so home grown red potatoes and their use is a touchy subject.

Then we came into the house and he decided to go get milk and I said that I was going to take some clean laundry down to the nursing home and visit Cecilia a bit.  So he got our milk pail and headed out.  I went to get Cecilia’s laundry into her laundry basket and laid her hang up clothes on top.  Just as I was turning away from the closet, I smelled that terrible smell again.  It was really bad.  It seemed different from the “rotten potato” smell, and it definitely seemed to be in the area I was standing.  So back to the fray I went, methodically searching all along the perimeters of the laundry room.  When I got to the entry way, I definitely smelled the lingering aroma of rotten potatoes, but this other smell really was different somehow.  It smelled like something dead.  I opened the basement stairwell, and stuck my head into that confine and drew a deep breath. Nothing there offensive.  I went back to the laundry room, opened the electric panel and sniffed there.  Nothing.  (I know, I know!  The electric panel.  One time there was a bad smell in the wall and it seemed to come out of the electric panel . . . )  I had just about given up when suddenly, I thought of something.

Early in the summer, one evening Certain Man and I were working out in the garden.  He started his chicken house generator in the course of the evening, and a nest blew out of the exhaust pipe.  Now usually this would have been one of those pesky starling nests, but this time, three tiny, beautiful eggs were spit out and they lay, unbroken on the grass.  I looked at those eggs and I was heartsick.  This was no starling nest.  I carefully brought them into the house for identification, and had put them in a little container up on the shelf in the laundry room.  I would look at them frequently, and think about the pair of Great Crested Flycatchers whose home we had unwittingly destroyed.  I remembered their frantic cries and the way they flew anxiously about after their nest was destroyed and I wondered if they had found another suitable cavity in which to make their home.  I had thought, briefly, that maybe I should get rid of those eggs, but they had seemed very stable up there on the shelf and they were so pretty, I just never did away with them.

Well, now was the time when I wished I had.  One of them had succumbed to either the pressure inside, or from an inadvertent bump from without, and it was in a most disgusting, putrid and offensive state of disintegration.  E-w-w-w-w-w!  What a mess!  It didn’t take this Delaware Grammy long to pick up the container, hold it at arm’s length (while I held my breath) so as not to catch another whiff of anything, and carry it to the outside dumpster where I unceremoniously disposed of it, Great Crested Flycatcher, notwithstanding.

And then I came back in to use some Febreeze and to replenish some plug-in air fresheners and to feel greatly relieved that the search for stink had been resolved, at least for now.  Whew!  What a relief, indeed!

And that’s the news on a lighter side from Shady Acres, where the night has turned to the beginning of a new day, and this Delaware Grammy is going to bed.

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