Back about a month ago, as we were gearing up to have company for the weekend, we noticed an odor. At first it smelled fishy and soon became obvious that it was coming from the laundry room. I initially suspected wet running clothes to be the culprit, but then, on a rainy day when the windows were kept shut, the smell became obnoxious and it was clear that something had died.
That evening, Jamey set out to find the deceased culprit. We were certain it was a mouse, possibly stuck under the upright freezer. Or the chest freezer. Or the washer. Or the dryer. After sliding, scooting and much searching with a flashlight, the search was called off. Nothing was found. But the room wreaked. Being just off the mudroom (the main entrance into our house) and the playroom (where we do school and spend much of our time), it was impossible to ignore. We tried closing the laundry room door and opening the laundry room window wide. I bought air fresheners (which I despise), but still it stunk. As soon as I walked into our house, I could smell it.
A day or so later, Jamey went into our small mudroom off the main mudroom only to smell the smell in there as well. He searched the little room to no avail and we finally had to surmise that something died in the shared wall of the laundry room and small mud room. Wonderful. Company was coming the next day.
We managed to keep the laundry room door closed and our guests (possible fibbing to our faces) kindly said that they couldn't smell anything. Over the next couple weeks, the smell faded away as the deceased dried up and the laundry door was opened back up and I no longer had to hold my breath while doing laundry or retrieving something from the freezers.
End of story? Not so much.
Fast forward a couple weeks to the middle of last week. We live in the country and every year, at a certain time of the year, we notice a surplus of flies. They sneak in the back door, hover around food and poop (or spit up or whatever they do) on my clean windows. We get out the flyswatters and hang the fly tape and in a few weeks, the worst of it has passed and only the occasional fly annoys me for the rest of the summer.
This past week was different. As I was expecting the fly population in our house to wane, it waxed. More and more flies began appearing and these new flies were different. Size-wise, they were in between houseflies and horseflies and they were green. I suspected an open screen somewhere and sure enough, in Sam and Sadie's room I discovered two windows open a couple inches at the top (the screens are only at the bottom). I closed them up and repeated the no-messing-with-the-windows-lecture, killed the remaining flies and thought that was that.
Until the next morning.
I knew something was up when I heard Sam downstairs whacking away at the windows with the flyswatter before I even had Miriam dressed. I went downstairs to find dozens of flies hovering around each window (we have 12 downstairs). Where were they coming from?! I checked windows again. I even looked on the outside of the house trying to discern where they were congregating and possibly entering. I was dumbfounded and getting very frustrated. Sam and I killed hundreds of flies. Sadie, bless her heart, followed us around with the dust-buster vacuuming up the carcasses until the battery ran out.
Then, my mother-in-law called to ask me a question. I shared my conundrum with her and she suggested that maybe they were coming from our cellar. Ha! I hadn't thought of that. She mentioned a fly poison that they had used in the past that was helpful and I quickly shot off another fly-related email to Jamey at work. Yes, in the midst of his continued orientation at his new job, I thought he should know the play-by-play status of our fly situation.
Next, I headed outside to check out the cellar. We have a very primitive cellar- a small concrete slab with cinder block walls that don't even reach the "ceiling" of the cellar, but stop so that the crawl space under the house can be accessed. Yuck. On my way out the door I had to dodge the bottom half of a chipmunk (thank you, Somersault) which turned my already queasy-from-killing-hundreds-of-flies stomach. I got the the door of the cellar, lifted the lid (it's one of those tornado-shelter looking doors) and gazed down the steps at the storm door at the bottom. Even from that distance, I could see thousands of flies buzzing against the storm door.
I went for reinforcements. I needed my eight-year-old boy.
Brave little Sam went down those steps fascinated by all the flies and pushed open the storm door. Flies poured out of the cellar, happy to alas be free.
I. Almost. Gagged.
The rest of the story wraps up as you'd expect. Jamey came home with a fly trap and over a few days, our fly problem went away as the odor in the laundry room had. I can't help but wonder if the two problems were related.
So, who wants to live in those brand-new, tightly-constructed and efficient homes anyway?