Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Mysterious Stink (or Life's Not Always Perfect)

In college, my best friend and I shared an apartment from the time we were sophomores to seniors.  Oh, how happy we were to be out of the dorm and in our own place!  Neither of us were what you would call fastidiously neat.  In fact, if you were to ask our mothers (who were also college roommates), I'm pretty sure they both would say we were slobs.  From time to time, we would get an unpleasant smell in the two bedroom unit we occupied.  The source was usually a mildewed towel or rotten potato in a dark cabinet.  The term we coined for this was "The Mysterious Stink" because we would both smell it, but it was hard to identify what it was and locate where it was coming from for a day or two (or if I'm being more honest, maybe even a week or two).  You see, we couldn't kill it because we couldn't find it. 

Some of my fondest memories of college are of those days we lived together.  If one of us had been a neat freak, it probably would have killed the friendship.  Fortunately, we were not and are still the best of friends.

I've mentioned on the blog before that my mom had a career that she didn't give up when she had children.  You can read all about that in this post if you are so inclined.  She was not a domestic goddess, so I did not learn a lot about "keeping" a house growing up.  This is not to say she did not keep a clean house, but she was prone to clutter just as I am.  We both like "stuff".  My mom had to get the cleaning done in bits and pieces when she could.  We helped, but there was no schedule we all lived by for cleaning the house. To this day, I hate cleaning the house.  I do, however, love the entire five minutes that the house is clean after I am done cleaning it, so I do persist (most of the time) in cleaning it once a week.   I also have some daily rules: No dirty dishes left in the sink, laundry is put away immediately, and beds are always made before you get back into them.  Once a week, the clutter gets "organized" or put away.

I will mention that my husband is also very helpful with cleaning but is cut very much from the same cloth I am. A mess bothers him less than it does me most of the time.  This is one of the reasons why we are such good roommates and still the best of friends.

So you can imagine my consternation when "The Mysterious Stink" came to call a few weeks ago.  I immediately suspected the cats, Yoshi and Patches.  (Yes, we let the kids each name one.) We have two cats that my children received for Christmas several years ago.  Although I do love these cats, they can, at times, be assholes.  At these times, I do call them out for this.  I think they resent me for it.  I also think they know that I am secretly more of a dog person.

 I did make it a point to post on my friend and former college roommate's Facebook wall that "The Mysterious Stink" had made an encore appearance into my life.  I found it both annoying and amusing.  I'm pretty sure that it brought a smile to her face even though she lives hundreds of miles away from me so I can't be positive.


This is one of our cats.  As I attempted to find a picture of the other one, I remembered that he runs off every time I try to take a picture of him.  Jerk.  He is from the same color palette but short haired and more white than ginger colored.  Our cats are brothers from the same litter.  We got them at a shelter when they were older kittens (which meant a discounted adoption fee).  The original plan was to just get one, but my husband didn't want to split up brothers. I remind him of this every time they do something particularly irksome.

Anyway, I employed the same method that we used in college to ferret out the stench which was identify and locate.  It smelled like cat poo and seemed to be coming from our lower level room where my husband was building under the stairs storage.  He checked and assured me there was nothing around where he was building.  He is always a bit incredulous whenever I try to blame anything on the cats.  They, like most humans, find him far more likeable than me and are partial to him because of this.

This went on for about two weeks on and off.  We would notice it, then it would go away.  Then my daughter was sick during the week.   My husband stayed home with her the second day and did some more work on the under the stairs storage area.  That was when he discovered the cats' indoor toilet waaaaay under the stairs in question.  It seems they didn't like that we had moved the litter box out to the garage which has been colder than average this winter.  They had taken to pooping under the stairs.

Needless to say, he finished up the storage space that day.  It is not accessible to the cats anymore. 

I tell this story not to gross you out (proabably too late for that), but to let you know that life's not always perfect.  You probably already knew that, right?  But sometimes it can seem that way when we just see glimpses of each other's lives through Facebook or blogs or even just every day surface interactions.  One of the first bloggers I started following posted a picture about a year ago of the dirty dishes in her sink and clutter on her kitchen counter.  This was before I had started a blog, but it was one of the first times I ever felt compelled to comment on one.  I wrote, "Thanks.  I needed to see this."  Unrealistic comparison can be a monster that we feed well and regularly. Realistic comparison is the hero that can vanquish it.  It was good to see someone else had a mess in their house that night.  I really appreciated her candor in that post.

I try to write about things that make me happy.  I am also one of those people who post pictures of my smiling kids, delicious food, and adorable pets.  I sometimes post why I love and appreciate my husband.  No one wants to listen to someone bitch and moan. It's even more tiresome to read someone's writing that does the same.  I could have just kept this story to myself and let you enjoy the adorable picture of Yoshi snuggled up to a pillow.  But life is messy.  I think that bears mentioning now and again.  Sometimes the floors don't get mopped.  Sometimes the waistband on my pants is too snug and there is dog hair all over them.  Sometimes my wallet is bulging with receipts that I haven't entered in the checkbook register.  There are mornings when I lose patience with my kids and then regret it once I am at work.  Sometimes "The Mysterious Stink" invades my home.  I can only be glad that I still share my life with someone who finds it both annoying and amusing as well and understands what I mean when I use that term.


Saturday, March 1, 2014


The month of March is one of my favorites.  It's the month of my daughter and husband's birthdays.  It's the month of St. Patrick's Day for this (at least partly) Irish, Catholic girl.  (BTW, please don't comment and tell me St. Patrick wasn't Irish.  Duh! I love when people think they're the first ones to discover that.)  And it's the month during which you can still wear winter clothes and they get waaaaay marked down in stores.  It also holds the beginning of spring, although it rarely feels like it in the Midwest. 

As I type this, we have yet another snowstorm heading our way. It's supposed to snow pretty much all day Sunday well into Monday morning.  My house is clean, the laundry is under control, my family is all here, and we're stocked up with food and firewood. I'm looking forward to it.  But then I start to worry about whether or not I'll have to travel on Monday to work.

Lucky for me, this is what was read at mass tonight:

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Boy, that really kicks me squarely in the butt.  I wouldn't say I'm the biggest worrywart in the world, but I can compete with the semi-pros.

These words are also a reminder to be present in the day.  Pay attention to the details. It's okay to look forward to what's coming, but don't get caught up in the worry of tomorrow.  Remember how lucky you are right here, right now.

My d├ęcor around the house is a good reminder of that.  This sign is for our front door.

 I find that I am a person who likes to decorate with words.  Go figure - a writer who likes to see words around her house.  Not that surprising, is it?   I like the word "lucky".  For me it's a synonym for "blessed" or "fortunate".  Today is where I need to live.  Today that is what I am.