Laugh Your Way to Lower Stress

Fence Me In

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Some people go on vacation. I go to the annual Home Show. Where else can you learn about retractable patio door screens and tiny houses (they’re so cute when they’re little), get a free chiropractic evaluation, and take a dip in the hot tub? “Always take a swimsuit to the Home Show” is my mantra.

Like any tourist, I always come home with souvenirs: pockets full of hard candy, sample tiles, three different textures of bark-o-mulch, a tiny sedum I rescued from the floor, and a buff young man named Paul. That’s right, I picked up a guy, and as I write these words, he is rebuilding part of my fence (in his shirt sleeves even though it’s only 48 degrees this morning—not that I’m complaining, mind you). My whole front fence needs to be replaced, but I can only afford to have work done a little at a time. It’s the same way I approach my own dental health. “Just clean the one tooth, doc.”

Watson and Penny aren’t as happy about today’s adventure as I am. They’ve spent the last hour barking from the window seat, which I remind them was built by another man I picked up at a previous home show.

My house is 53 this year, which means that it needs almost as much spackle and shingling as I do. As a result, a lot of tradespeople come and go, in and out, in and out, in and out of the house. In their way, they are much like my dogs—always needing to be on the other side of the door in front of them. But, unlike my hounds, they typically shed less and are friendlier to the mail carrier when he arrives with packages (which, by the way usually contain either organic gluten-free fair trade dog supplements or free-range pillows for the pooches.)

Unfortunately, I’m about as handy as a drunken octopus trying to text. I’ve resigned myself to the knowledge that I can’t “fix” anything; I can only postpone the inevitable phone call to someone with a tool belt and tattooed biceps the size of oak tree limbs. Case in point: the fence being repaired today. A few years ago, one of the boards broke in two, giving the wiener dogs a perfect view of people who dared walk anywhere near their property. In order to calm the ruckus I decided, “Hey, I have a hammer and nails, I’ll just go get a cedar board from Jerry’s and take care of the problem myself.” Ah, if only it were that easy.

This section of fence is decorative, if by decorative, one means “odd, with fence boards running horizontally instead of vertically and held together with a mostly decayed old totem pole.” Still, it was just one board, so off to the hardware store I sashayed, thinking that maybe just this once the hours of Rehab Addict I’ve watched would pay off.

When I returned, after being frisked by the hounds to make sure I hadn’t snuck out to either pet kittens or roll in dog treats, I grabbed my tools and began the repair…only to find that the reason the other board had detached in the first place was that the part of the totem pole it had been nailed to was missing. So off to the store I went again, this time to buy a post. I don’t know if it was a 2-by, a 4-by, or a fly-by. I just chose something that would fit in my car and that I could carry to the parking lot without throwing out my back. (This, by the way, is how I will choose my next husband, should I ever go that route again).

Now before you ask whether I dug a hole and poured in cement before setting the post in place, let me just giggle. No, no I did not. I used some nails the size of railroad spikes to attach the post to the remaining good parts of the totem pole. It was solid as a rock stacked on top of several smaller rocks, but it was much better than it had been. Then I nailed the board to it. Of course the board I used was 1-foot longer than it needed to be, but at this point I was too exhausted to saw it off by hand with my Swiss Army knife attachment, so I left it as an “adornment.”

Then I went inside and lay on the sofa with the dachshunds and watched a marathon of Flip this House.

This brings us to today with the hammering and the barking and the laughing from Paul as he examines my handiwork. If only the home show was still going; I could really use another dip in the hot tub.

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