The Daily Digital Photo
Chronicling the life of Clayton and Spenser, with memories of Scooter

May 23, 2007

Phillip was on the couch the other day watching TV when Spenser began sniffing so intently that we briefly thought there was a side of beef under one of the cushions. Phillip was clearly in the way of the hunt so he got up and helped out by first shaking out the blanket. This yielded nothing of interest so next he lifted up the cushions one by one and lo and behold: a single Cheerio. I eat my morning cereal on the couch and although I am careful not to spill, accidents do happen. Now you don't have to be a Cheerios connoisseur to know that this is not a particularly aromatic breakfast cereal and a single Cheerio on its own probably has next to no odor at all, so how those few molecules of scent permeated a leather sofa cushion will forever remain a mystery.

In 1998 we were trying to sell our house in Baltimore (yes, the one with the spackle) to move to New Jersey. It was a difficult house to sell (split-level; tiny bedrooms) and many people looked at it before we found a buyer. A few hours before one of the showings I noticed a faint but noticeably unpleasant odor emanating from the basement, and when I opened the door I was assaulted by the smell of Something Dead. I read once that the best way to seduce potential housebuyers is to bake chocolate chip cookies or an apple pie before they arrive. Not even double chocolate with extra chips was going to mask this smell and we had to find the source and eradicate it pronto. Trying not to gag, Phillip and I walked around the basement, looking behind and underneath things, but everything was just one big horrendous odor. Then we remembered: we owned beagles! Clayton and Spenser marched downstairs, two dogs on a mission, and right away made a beeline towards one the two storage closets. We opened the door and before you could say "Here's the Dead Thing" they had poked both their noses into an open box of ski woolens and found the Dead Thing: a small field mouse nestled amidst the thermal underwear. Phillip disposed of the mouse and with a little bit of Lysol we were back in business.

A few weeks later with another showing scheduled for the afternoon, a similar smell made its way up the basement stairs. We didn't fool around this time and summoned the beagles right away. This time though they made no beeline but wandered kind of aimlessly instead. Now we had inherited what must have been a two-ton safe from the previous owners of the house which was tucked into a corner of the basement behind the hot water heater. One of the boys wandered over and gave it a few sniffs. "Good boy!" I said, "Found the mouse?" Phillip rolled the safe a few feet away from the wall and before the boys could stick their noses back there we saw it. IT was not a mouse. No, IT was a folded-up brown paper bag with string around it. "Oh dear" I said, imagining all the disgusting or illegal things it could be. Phillip picked it up and gingerly shook it, then poked it. No noise or leakage came from within so he slowly and carefully untied and opened the bag. Okay, now I'm not making this up. Inside the bag was a large wad of twenty dollar bills. Money! Yes indeed, this was definitely money! All agiggle, we counted and made piles and counted again, then high-fived and kissed over our cool ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. With no bill dated later than 1967 we figured that one of the previous owners must have accidently droppped their rainy day package behind the safe where it sat for the next twenty-one years. We practically tore the basement apart looking for more but that was it. We never did find the source of the smell but it didn't matter, the house wouldn't sell for another month. And for their superlative and profitable efforts, the boys received big hugs, two biscuits each, a long walk, and a open-ended contract to sniff out dough!