Jake and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Smell

03 October 2011

Well let's start with the good news, shall we? Jake is four months old today!! He is healthy, big, and strong. One reader even called him dapper. 
And that's my good news. And it is very good news, isn't it? Yes. Very good news. 

I'm watching some towels and receiving blankets blowing carelessly on the line in the California breeze. That's nice.

I'm working my best to stay positive. To paint a lovely picture of my little life before I subject you to the next 750ish words of not so fun. Because there is a lot of fun in the world. There is a little baby kicking his little legs on a blanket on the grass. A blanket that has J-A-K-E sewed right on it. There is the lemon verbena bush growing up and over the fence. Bouganvillea. Plumbago. Banana trees. Yes lots of lovely things. Out here. In the yard. As far as I can get from my house without losing internet access.

Because because because because BECAUSE

[Stop here if you can't stomach words like "maggot"- or click here if you'd rather read another sweeter story about a possum that is a littledidweknow precursor to this one - otherwise tallyho]

There is a dead rotting possum in my ceiling.

On Friday I noticed there were some fleas in the house. It's never fun of course to have fleas, but I didn't pay too much attention to them. I figured the landlord's dog had somehow left them around. Every thirty minutes or so I would pick another of the little buggers out of my sock, and keep on with my day. By about four in the afternoon there were a lot of fleas, and they were concentrated right around the bedroom door. I texted Jacob. It was a rainy day, which is very unusual for us, so we figured this little flea circus had something to do with the weather. 

On Saturday the number of fleas had started to diminish somewhat, but the house began smelling strangely of gas, I can't tell you how many times I checked the range only to find that indeed all the knobs were OFF. By the evening we noticed there were an unusual amount of flies buzzing around. We of course wondered at this strange coincidence of not-niceties but we figured it was indeed just that. Coincidence. But I should have remembered some wisdom from my favorite Hugh-Laurie-as-Dr.-House and kept at it for 95% of the episode until I found the one disease that could explain all these seemingly disconnected symptoms.

For it was no disease at all, but death itself.

Yesterday, there was no mistaking it. There was no mistaking the flies literally crawling of the light fixtures, no mistaking from where the flies had jumped ship, and most of all no mistaking the pungent smell of putrefication. 

This is the part where you get to start feeling sorry for us.

We called the landlord to come fix the situation. He asked if Jacob wanted to handle it, and Jacob said he would take care of it for the tune of 500$. This didn't fly with our landlord, and he said he would make it better while we spent the afternoon at Uncle John's. We got home at 6 and found the smell even stronger and a vent in our bedroom ceiling (??*!*?)

Jacob covered up the vent with plastic wrap and tape and proceeded to call the landlord and say that by "fix it" we'd prefer to have the dead thing gone, not venting into our bedroom. So we shacked up in the living room for the night. A big fan and an occasional misting of orange oil and we managed to keep the scent at bay.

This morning the plastic that Jacob used to seal up the vent was full of maggots, and they were slowly oozing their white squirmy bodies under the masking tape. Our landlord and his handyman started in on the project of extricating the thing by entering the roof from the side of the house. They decided to slowly pull out the insulation and hopefully the deceased critter would be on top of it. They hip hoorayed when very quickly their efforts were rewarded with a dead possum. But this dead possum was not our dead possum. This was another dead possum. Like very dead. Like one year dead (?!?*?).

The handyman soon came inside to seal up the vent he had put in our bedroom. To avoid the ensuing maggots-all-over-the-bedroom-floor scene, I decided to take the baby for a little jog. When we got back, we found the ceiling patched. Good. And a new vent in the closet. (?!?!?!) And the handyman looked like he was packing up. 

I asked about the vent in the closet and he hedged. I asked if they had found the freshly dead possum in the ceiling, he hedged again. He did however inform me that as he cleaned up from the mess he had noticed that our bedroom was very dusty. Cue blank stare from me.

So I did what every modern, self-respecting, independent wife and mother would do. I called my husband and held back tears as I shamelessly tattled on our landlord.

Jacob then contacted the landlord and certainly said some very sweet things to him.

Current status. The expired possum is still in residence, but at least all the vents have been reconverted into ceiling. I'm camped out in the yard with a fussy baby as I admire the constellation of flea bites on my ankles, and think about how I haven't prepped for my classes tomorrow, and agonize over the laundry I haven't folded, dishes I haven't washed, and thank you notes I still haven't written. I'm also fretting about how Jacob is working late and seriously considering breaking my no drinking alone during the week rule (specifically it's a nothing-but-one-glass-of-wine-alone-on-non-consecutive-weeknights rule, but still...)

Yes, here I am, smelly and indignant.

How was your day?


  1. oh. dear. so, let me get this straight. possum found, but possum not taken away? why is this??

  2. Oh my goodness.

    You deserve two large glasses Hans solo or not!!!

    Shame shame on your landlord!!!!

  3. There's an air mattress in Houston whenever you want it! Hope this gets fixed soon!

  4. Blythe-old dead possum found. new dead possum not found. i think i should clarify this in the post...

    Grace-I know! He better make this right soon before he turns into a total sleazy character!

    Anne-what I wouldn't give to be on your air mattress, cats and all!

  5. wow. what an exciting way to be introduced to your blog. I am not going to complain about my day to my husband now. I hope your possum mummifies soon or your landlord grows some....

  6. Perhaps coincidentally or not this is the first blog post without pictorial interjection, no? Probably a good idea all the same.

  7. I have no words. I was very happy to read further and discover that the offending dead thing had been removed. I can't believe your slimy landlord!

    Lovely guest post on Grace's blog today!


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