Sometimes, the best part about vacation can be coming home. This is especially true if you leave your house in a state of cleanliness and order. I am pleased to report that I actually managed to leave my house in great shape when I left for the States. Everything was in its place, every piece of laundry had been cleaned, folded and put away, every dish had been done and put away, and the whole house was vacuumed, dusted, and generally cleaned. My humble abode was spic and span, top to bottom. (Those of you who know me will understand what a rarity this all is.)
So imagine my dismay when I returned from vacation to a home not glowing with Martha-like domestic beauty, but one that was dirty, reeking, and hotter than hades. How does this happen? At least everything was still orderly, and the dishes and laundry hadn't magically dirtied themselves. But where did the dirt come from? The dogs were at the kennel the whole time, so I cannot blame them. Perhaps the dust and dirt in the air reached some sort of critical mass--much like water droplets becoming rain--and the dirt just sprinkled down from out of nowhere.
The heat can be explained. Anyone who has visited can attest to the fact that air flow is a serious problem in these houses even under the best of circumstances. In this case the doors and windows were sealed up tight for three weeks. So it's a no-brainer that everything in my home's apparently dirt-laden air just stagnated.
But the worst, the absolute worst, my friends, was the odor. I opened my front door and was bombarded by a stench so horrific it practically defies explanation. Nevertheless I will try. It was as if half a dozen two-pack-a-day smokers had been shacking up in my home, but now imagine that these smokers were not humans but dogs. You know when you book a smoke-free hotel room and you enter it and you can tell that it recently has made the switch from smoke-friendly to non-smoking status? You can tell the staff did their best to try to rid the air of the odor, but to no avail. Add in the mysterious kennel odor (which must have wafted up from my carpets as, I have said, the dogs were not at home to create this part of the odor), the absurd heat, the complete lack of air circulation, and my sensitive pregnant nose, and you've got the perfect storm of stinkiness. PEE YEW. (To clarify, there was not actually cigarette smoke in my house...this is only the closest odor I can come up with to relate to my home's stench: pervasive, thick, musty, offensive.)
So the battle against the odor has begun.
Step One: Open all windows and doors to rooms which would otherwise bang shut, finding ingenious ways to prop them all open (I highly recommend the hanger chain, details available upon request).
Step Two: Bathe dogs, who smell a bit like kennel and a bit like farm thanks to their stay at the rural Kleintierresidenz. (This is the step I am currently executing. I am halfway done, but have taken a break to write this, as I find bathing the dogs in my current condition to be back-breaking work. Come to think of it, the whole process of bathing them should be a blog entry unto itself. Anyhoo, Zephie is clean. Tilly is not.)
Step Three: Vacuum, using Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh Powder, or whatever it is called (love this stuff).
Step Four: Evacuate home for several hours so as to eliminate sense memory.
Step Five: Re-enter home and give it the sniff test. If odor persists, light candles. (Current favorite is Glade's "Clean Linen.") Spray Febreze in the air (I like the summer scent, which is basically melon-scented).
Step Six: Pray.