Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oh, that? It's a little something called your family fragrance...

by Debra E. Marvin, who probably eats too much garlic.

Can you smell it? No. Probably not. Smells fine to you, doesn’t it?

I’ve been trying my darndest to figure out what to write about on this subject Home Sweet Home. I inadvertently did some research by watching the movie Up in the Air. It was recommended to me because our department is facing Zero Funding (=100% layoffs, Thank you NY State) as of this July and the movie is about a man who is hired to come in and fire people. He spends all his time on airplanes and in hotels and dreads the time he has to spend in his ‘home’, which is actually a bare-bones, empty studio apartment.

Long story short, the character grows in empathy for those he fires and becomes more aware of the importance of family and having a place that feels like home. A true 'character-driven' story. (Red Flag Warning, the movie is rife with language and sexuality and darn it, George Clooney is starting to show wear and tear, too. I'm reviewing scents not movies. Watch at your own risk.)

Anyway, back to our theme.
I love to travel and I love to come back home. I love to walk in the door and ‘be home’. What do I love? My view, my stuff, my bed, my bathroom, my kitchen, my loft (a.k.a. office, sewing room, library general me and my junk space).

I love my bed. (this is not my bed) Everyday. I love getting into it. Sigh. I hate getting out of it. I love the old wool blankets with their holes in winter and my stuffed animals and the way the stupid sheets never stay in place but always wrinkle. I probably don’t wash those sheets enough. I don’t know. Is there a rule? I guess I wasn’t paying attention in Home Ec.

I love my kitchen stuff. (This is not my kitchen but it's closer to the truth than that bed was.) The grandmothers' old dishes. My mother's old utensils, all the pans, bakeware and cookbooks of three generations. Oh, and my brand new food processor. I love knowing right where everything is and having what I need. Not like going to my daughter’s and asking “Don’t you have bay leaves?”

And I love my bathroom. The hot water on demand is great for showers, but it has its idiosyncrasies . . .
I love my toilet. Okay, you don’t need to know this but you have to admit . . . when you’ve been away from home and you get home, doesn’t that porcelain beauty call you in a special way? It almost makes up for having vacation end. (This is neither my toilet nor my parakeet.)

Now, think about your home. Somewhere inside is Your Chair. Possibly a couch or old recliner that retains your lint (dead skin cells), your hair, your butt print and probably your methane. Add to that the stain from the time you dribbled French onion dip on it. Besides you, there's your dog, your cat, a visitor with a full diaper. IOW, there's enough DNA evidence on it to keep a forensics class in their lab all semester.

Put all your favorites together and they elicit a satisfied sigh at the end of a long work day.

Well, you know what? Your house stinks. Yeah, it does. But hopefully it's a good stink. It's you. It's the _________ family fragrance. Fill in your name.

Just like a baby seal finds its mommy on Crowded Seal Beach, and your cat finds its litter box (heck, we can all find your cat’s litter box), that secret little switch in your head tells your body to relax, it’s home.

(These are not my cats either. But I at least know these cats. And I've never smelled their litter box. Amazing.)
You must have noticed when you go visit someone that their home has an odd odor to it. A combination of what they ate (for who knows how many days back…) and what cleaners they use, and what shampoos and soap and if they didn’t, what pets they have, how many children or teenagers they have, and whether the building is new, old, dry, damp, full of dust or old books and is in the city, the country, near the lake or by the highway.

If you visit someone enough times, and if it's someone you like, you might just start to appreciate that odor combination too. It might start to smell like home away from home.

Home is a warm fuzzy feeling that starts with your nose. We react to things by scent much more than we realize. And we catalog those scents in our minds along with a related emotion. We have a long way to go to match our canine companions but we know what we like and we know when we’re home, sweet, smelly, home.

We also have a fragrance beyond the human nose.

Since God himself gave the directions for the tabernacle and first gave man a way to commune with Him after sin messed up our perfect world, our prayers have been represented as a fragrant incense wafting upwards toward Heaven.

“May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” (Psalm 141:2)

“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.” (Revelations 8:3-4)

We no longer need incense to carry our prayers before a Holy God, because our Lord made a way for us to talk directly to him like a child and his father.

The words may not sound pretty or perfect to you but the honest words of a humbled heart are a sweet fragrance to Him

So tell me, and the rest of cyberspace . . . what do you love about your home? And what are two or three things that probably contribute to the family fragrance at your house?

thanks for visiting!


  1. I'll be away from my computer most of the day. What? Say it ain't so. Actually moving about and doing physical labor. Oh, the Joy!

    So, please know I'll reappear later.

    Have a great spring like summer day.

    And say a prayer for those who've lost their homes or worse, loved ones, in the recent deadly weather down south, will you?

  2. Deb, as always a GREAT blog. I was reading along, laughing at your photo comments, and then I saw my KITTIES! I started laughing out loud. They're famous now! But I was totally agreeing with you about how it's great to vacation but it's WONDERFUL to come back home...Thanks for the great start to the day.

  3. When we moved into this house a few years ago (a thirty year old home) I became a room freshener junkie. Not sure why. I never noticed smells much before. Now I do. Maybe it's having teenaged boys in the house LOL!

    Anyway, I love your line about our words sounding imperfect to us but when spoken to God from a humble heart they are a pleasing fragrance. A good reminder to start my day!

  4. I love my bed. No other bed like it in the world. When I come home from a trip, that's what I want.

    Fragrances? I've been told often that my home smells like the Lebanese spices my mother in law sends by the bagfuls. I'm sure we have some dog scent mixed in most days. And maybe a hint of lavendar or fruit scents from my cleaners (if I actually get around to cleaning.) Of course, if my husband does any cleaning, then the house smells like industrial strength bleach.

    I've also gotten many comments over the years that my house has a very peaceful spirit to it.

  5. Teenage boys = keep those darn sneakers out in the garage!!! And all those hormones? I completely understand, D'Ann!

    Hey Sharon - I wasn't sure which of the new cats was there with Raquel.

    Dina, I love the idea of smelling your Lebanese spices AND lavender.
    And yes, we ourselves are supposed to be a fragrance of God to those in need. Maybe when we can say He is the air we breathe...then our fragrance can truly be of Him.

    Thanks ladies. I'll be back later this afternoon.

  6. Hi, Debra!

    Here's a handy homeowner's tip regarding garlic: Any time that you are lonesome, and you wish "unexpected" company would drop by--go heavy on the garlic! Mega-garlic breath! People will come to your house. It's happened to me three times withing the last few months. I don't eat garlicky foods that often, but they seem to be a people-magnet!

    OK, so I have established that my house occasionally smells of garlic. Most of the time, though, it just smells like old wood, clean laundry, yeast bread and apples. By now, I think that my cats and I are a blend, so we don't notice each other's scents : )

  7. Deb, I LOVED this post! I'm still smiling. I do have an imprint in my favorite chair :-) I love my bed, and there are things I love about my kitchen now that I've moved. Like a working garbage disposal.

    I used to sell scented candles for extra cash, and I'm sort of addicted to them. If I know someone's coming over, I always burn a candle before they arrive so my house doesn't smell like sweaty kid, sour milk or Comet. Or whatever my house smells like.

    Great spiritual tie in too. Thanks, Deb.

  8. What a delightful post, Deb.

    I really laughed about the toilet paragraph because we just got a new European style toilet which uses a LOT less water than the old one. When Jessie, our 18 yo, left for Bible College last Sept, the old one was still installed. Mind you, we also had a 20 sq ft hole behind the toilet and only a double layer shower curtain hiding it from the livingroom.

    The new toilet was ready to rumble when Jessie came home for Christmas. And the moment she saw it, she let out a screech! She charged out of the bathroom and yelled about the awful toilets they had in Scotland (her mission trip last summer) and how she'd vowed never to use another one when she returned to Canada.


    We've since found out it depends where you sit that has an impact on what falls. LOL We don't seem to have a problem... And I do love this new toilet, Deb, and know exactly what you mean.

    As for smells, we don't have an attached garage, nor a porch, and our back door leads to the sunroom which is too cold to leave boots and shoes in during the winter months, so when you walk in the front door, you get the full hit of about 12 prs of footwear. sigh

    3 things I love about my home other than above:

    - the 10x20 ft screened sunroom

    - the red wall in the living room

    - our 1 yr old 'motion' furniture so that we now have 4 recliners in the livingroom and no ottomans. And yes, one of those recliners is my spot and no body sits there. I hate to admit but even if a visitor sits there, the looks on my family's faces quickly have them jumping up and moving. Yeah, I know it's not hospitable, but what can I say? LOL *shrug

    Thanks for this post, Deb.


  9. Hi Virginia! A treat to see you as always! I would probably have a hard time finding a day when I didn't eat garlic as I make my own hummus and I have it at least once a day. Strangely enough, I don't have anyone visiting either. Hmmmmm. Wonder why?

    Last weekend I brought the clean laundry in off the line and let it 'finish' drying on the racks. How I love THAT smell in the house. Doesn't it just take you back to summer every time you smell it?

  10. Susie, So you're admitting here that you intentionally cover up that family fragrance, eh? Good luck to you if it works. As Anita says, there's nothing that says HOME like teenagers' shoes right by the door.

    My house is so odd that to come in the back door (which everyone uses because the front door is on the lake side of the house. Go figure...) you have to come in a door that is near both the bathroom AND the closet where the cat box is. It's a no win situation!
    The only way to beat that combo is to fry up some cabbage!!

  11. Anita, what word pictures you drew for us today. The plastic wall? the European toilet? too funny.

    Do you honestly want to know what I was thinking just last night? Back when we had cloth diapers and they got swished off in the toilet, you needed that big quantity of water. (I hope no one is eating right now as they read this) Nowadays with so little water in the bowl, that would be a lot harder to do.

    I can get on my soapbox about cloth diapers vs disposable here but I won't.

    Now that I've established that yes, the house may have an odd odor or two, let me tell you that you will also get a cat or a dog on your lap the minute you park yourself anywhere at my house. Be Warned! Poor things are desperate for attention. And only the cat sheds.

  12. Hey Deb,
    I was at a workshop all day in Kentucky. Just across the Ohio River for those of you who may not be aware of that. :)

    I love the deck, my office, and the bed. I also have a very easy time crawling into it and the hardest time crawling out of it.

    We have 2 dogs and 4 cats and I'm sure visitors can't miss that fact. Anyone have any ideas on how to mangage all those smells?

    Loved the parrot pic. :)

    It seems that since PulsePoint did my website and Facebook, etc. I now come across blogger with my pen name if anyone is wonder who I am? :)

  13. I remember rinsing out the diapers in the toilet... I got tendenitis doing it! And Deb, don't get your nose in a knot because back in the late 90's, I MADE ALL THE CLOTH DIAPERS for my youngest son!

    'cept hubby didn't like them. JJ was our 4th child and at 45+, hubby said he was too old to do the diaper pail trick.

    And I sewed all his diaper shirts, too since I couldn't afford to buy them and wanted over a dozen. I did a real good job, too and everyone thought they were store-bought. *preen... preen.

    And if one of our kids does come home lugging a baby and a diaper pail, I'm sure we can find a puddle somewhere on our 160 acres to use... at least for the baby. LOL

  14. Hey Jilly Jillian

    You know I have to agree that Ohio always seemed like a northern state and KY a southern. I learned a lot when my son went to college in Cincy.

    I didn't think of that as 'the midwest' either but I heard it referred that way often.

    Thanks for stopping in to say hi after you busy work day!

    Anita - I knew we were kindred spirits when we first met. You're a "make do' kind of woman!

  15. I'm still giggling over your photo comments... what fun!
    My house smells like dogs and boys. No wonder we're having trouble selling it!
    I want to set up a spray station at the door, like they have at Macy's and Bloomingdales, that squirts them with the scent of my choosing when they enter.
    Isn't it strange the way a room that's closed up for awhile goes back to smelling like the house did when you first moved in?

  16. Hey Niki,
    it's true that the house has its own odors before we even move in!

    You'll have to get a buyer who has dogs and boys and they'll feel 'right at home'---


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