Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Am Clean, I Promise


"When you were upstairs, did you notice the stench of rotting flesh?"


Such is the conversation of those who live in ancient houses.  Or at least, I hope so.

This house is 200+ years old and we know we share it with numerous critters.  As I sit here typing, I can hear them in the ceiling.  I think they have shackles and are dragging them across the ceiling.   I'm not kidding.

Thunk, scrape, skitter, thunk, skitter, bang.

You might be sitting there, cringing, gagging, thinking you should unfollow me and my filthy ways.

I swear it's not that.  I do clean.

But they did not build houses as tightly back then.

The mice have lived here for far longer than we have.

When we first moved in (remember, I grew up here and then my parents built a house next door- critter free- and then I moved back in in 1997) we had an exterminator come.  He agreed there were many mice in the walls, ceilings and God knew where else, so he put these tidy little blue blocks of poison in the attic and cellar.

And the mice came and ate them.

And just like he said they would, they died in the walls.

And STUNK up the joint.

It was summer.  That was good and bad.  Good because we could at least have the doors and windows open and no heat to add to the smell.  Bad because it was summer and there was natural heat.

We dealt with the smell of death all that summer.

Over the years, we've gone the exterminator route only to have that nasty smell with us for a while each time.

The cats have occasionally caught some mice.

Gwenstopher was actually extremely busy last winter, catching a lot of mice in the house, trying to bring the occasional mouse INTO the house.

But the one thing I don't ever find is any evidence of the mice.  We hear them in the walls and ceilings.  I have seen them in the house.  But never once have they nibbled through a box of crackers or left any droppings anywhere.

I dont' know what these mice want but my food is not it.

I think they want my sanity.  For years, k-ster never heard them.   When I explain to people what it sounds like, they say the mice could never move in that direction because of how the ceiling was built.  They say that the support beams would be in their way.

I think they've engineered some other sort of architecture all their own up there.

A few years ago, I had the most terrifying moment of my life.  We had been smelling the stench in the laundry room.  After doing all of the laundry and ruling that out, k-ster was sure it was the trash.  The laundry room trash consists of lint, but, whatever.  That wasn't it either.

After a while, we gave up.  Because after a while, they don't smell anymore.  Don't ask me what the carcasses do in the walls.  I'm sure that's our new insulation.
Eventually, I did find the source of that laundry room stench.  It was a dead mouse under a thing and it had, ummm, well, started to decay. ANd if you know what happens when bodies decay, well that was happening in my sight.  Purely vile.  I heard Psycho music and everything.  I think they were dancing to the music.
I am a courageous person.  I might grumble or gasp when things are gross or awful, but I don't shriek and play the girl card or run in the corner and throw up.

But the sight of that mouse was enough to render me speechless and when I walked into my parents house and told my father to come now, he actually did.  Usually, he'd give me a hard time about how he is "doing something" and he'd  be over later.  I must have been giving the "I'm going to lose my shit NOW" vibe.

One oatmeal container and a shingle later, the mass had been scraped off the bureau and was disposed of.  But no amount of disinfecting would ever make me ok with that bureau, so we got rid of it.

Alas, last Monday morning, I noticed a vague stink when I went upstairs.  We don't use it as part of the everyday house.  It's storage and my sewing room.  I had been sewing and there was no smell on Sunday.

As the week progressed, the smell got worse.  And it's only when you open the door to upstairs.

Since it's not the main part of the house, it's not exactly neat and tidy.  It would take a long time to actually pick up every single item and inspect it for dead bodies.

So, I don't really know what to do.

Do I just let nature take its course and hope to God I don't run into the rotting process until it's all over?  Do I start moving every single object in hopes that I never find it?  Is it in the wall ?  In the ceiling?  Chimney?

Do you own an old house and know just what I'm talking about?

Do you think this is the most disgusting thing I could write?

Do you have a cadaver dog I could borrow?


  1. Omigosh, this is so interesting! I think I'd move every thing and find it, except I'd make my husband do it. I would love to see a picture of your old house! I love old things. I'm jealous!

  2. I cannot imagine ... last Halloween we spent at a girlfriends and she had a dead something in the walls of her garage ... and it was awful ... even tho it was Halloween and we should have been dealing with the stench of rotting flesh ;)

    Thanks for visiting today over on my Baby Name post !!!

  3. We used to get mice all the time, but haven't had them in awhile. And yes, having dead critters in the walls is pretty gross, but typical of an old house, I am pretty sure!

  4. As if I'd unfollow you for having mice. I have had mice. Our little critters though wanted food. Those little buggers could take anything off the traps, and then they'd knock on the door looking for more. I say let the rotting process take it course. Stay away from the upstairs until it's complete.

  5. OMG, I remember that stench. Yuck! You could close the door and never sew again, but I'd probably pull the "girl card" and make The Aussie find and dispose of the stinker.

  6. My dog used to go NUTS if there were mice (dead or alive) in the walls. She would sit and whine and stare at a wall....and I would be mystified until I stood still long enough to hear the familiar scratch, scratch, scratching from behind the plaster.


    I'm happy to report that there are far fewer critters in the 'burbs where we are now. Far fewer trees and character, too. It's a trade off, I guess.

    Thanks for linking up with #ShowYourWork!


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