Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bad Karma

Once upon a time I bought a house. Well, my wife and I did. When we moved in we saw something of a dream come true, the place was dated and in need of some work, but we thought it would be fun slowly shaping it into the place we wanted it to be. By the end we envisioned the stately, modern home, beautiful and charming and all that. I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty.

I immediately ripped up the floor downstairs and put in hardwood, I ripped out the built in bookshelves in order to put in bigger ones, and I took out the florescent lights and put in track lighting. I scraped the popcorn finish from the downstairs ceiling and knocked down walls between rooms upstairs, I put up a nice wooden fence in the back yard, had a large bay window put in…. I was going to make this place awesome.

Fast forward a few years, I still need to put up baseboards where I put in the hardwood, as well as transitions where the new and old sections meet. I’ve got unfinished areas where I removed walls. The area behind the fridge was a pantry before I started changing everything, it looks pretty rough back there now – I have portions where there isn’t even any drywall.

I could go on for days about how I managed to half-ass all my projects in some way. Somewhere along the way I decided that I don’t want to renovate my home anymore. Can I not just watch a movie or read a book instead? At the pace we’ve been going, we’ll never be finished, ever. And if we did manage to get things done in another decade or two, as soon as we wrapped everything up we’d probably need to start over again. I mean, 20 year old, half-assed renovations might not be as awesome then as they are now.

Ugh. Next time I’m buying a new house, one that already looks how I want it to.

My wife, believe it or not, has had her own struggles. She turned a large chunk of our real estate into flower beds. I haven’t figured out the square footage, but it’s a lot. So much in fact, that she is outside every evening working in them, and on weekends she has been forced to sometimes spend 20 hours or so doing nothing but work on flower beds. She’ll get a section perfect, move on to something else, and within a few days that first section has weeds, dying plants, and the most frustrating part – signs of sabotage.

Seriously, someone is killing my wife’s plants.

Now, my first thought was it was one of our crazy, Desperate Housewife inspired neighbors. As funny as that would be, I don't think that's the case. Our neighborhood isn’t so unlike a lot of others, we’ve got folks who keep their place as neat and pretty as possible, and we’ve got others that don’t.  There are a few retired folks around, two young(ish) couples, some new people I’ve only seen at a distance, (a young man from that whole Goth subculture out mowing the lawn while in costume is a sight to behold, I don’t think I’d want all that dangling metal and chain so close to moving lawnmower blades, but whatever) and of course, we’ve got tons of pet owners.

Our place is the end house in the cul de sac, and previous ownership never had much in the way of excess dirt, as all those flower beds were only grass at the time. Now, every feral cat (of which there are several) and unattended dog (a few) sees our place as their personal playground/toilet. I’m always chasing animals away. I mean, if I’m not going to let my own pets shit in my dirt, I don’t know why I should be expected to allow everyone else’s pets to do it.

And it’s not just the poo, the cats are quick and silent, I find evidence of their activity in the mornings usually. It’s the damned dogs pissing on everything in sight that really irks me. That’s what’s killing my wife’s plants. I think one day I’m going to sit on my roof with a pellet gun and some night vision goggles and fire away at everything that crosses my property line that isn’t human.

The truth of it is that those flower beds are a black hole for money, time, labor, and life. The amount of work that is necessary to maintain them when compared to the amount of time spends admiring them is pretty small. But it makes my wife happy, really happy. And she doesn’t give me too much crap for having my Peyton Manning dolls, Green Lantern comics, or a Netflix queue full of TV shows like Farscape, Pawn Stars, and The Incredible Hulk. And she doesn’t even complain after I spent couple thousand dollars turning the downstairs den into a library, that I have, at last count, close to a hundred books in our bedroom because I ran out of shelf space down there. It’s a give and take.

So everyone, please, if you’re going to let your animals run wild, train them to go to the bathroom at their own home. Before I have to shoot them.


Rogue Mutt said...

My dad was always like that with home improvement projects. We've had our backyard deck for like 25 years and it's never had any varnish or sealer or whatever put on it. He put up a wall in the living room to create a new bedroom, but never put drywall over it. And so on. Most of my home improvement projects are small so I can finish them.

Tonja said...

There's probably some natural things you can do to make them find another bathroom - cayenne pepper around the perimeter of the flower bed - maybe? Have a heart traps just to annoy them and so you know whose pet it is. Moth balls around the perimeter? Lemon juice? Poison gummy worms might be taking it a little too far, but that worked for my underground lawn monsters.

Gardening is very relaxing for people who like it. I come up with my best story ideas while gardening.

BTW, no one finishes their projects until it's time to sell it.

KarenG said...

In May we moved from our most beloved family home that had all the renovations, (some still to be done), all the flower beds, fruit trees, even a pond that had given us so much enjoyment but now had serious problems that depressed us whenever we looked at it-- and we came to a fairly new home that needs minimal care. My husband and I, altho we miss the friends from our old neighborhood, and the feelings of home we had there, are loving how much time this move has freed up for us.

I have never felt so right about our decision as I did just now reading your post!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, and here I felt triumphant the first time I changed the toilet tank plumbing! Our house was brand new for a reason - I am not Mr. Handy Man. And my wife can't grow anything. She even killed a cactus once.

Michael Offutt said...

Sounds like you have too much home for the amount of money you guys bring in. I've had this conversation with my brother. If you can't afford to hire someone to do all the home renovations and to do that gardening for you so you don't have to work yourself to have too much house. Think of how much simpler life would be if people just asked themselves "I am one person and I can reasonably tend to one flower pot a day without impacting my free time with my husband. But I want to have a whole yard of flowers. Can I afford that? Nope...flower pot it is." Same goes for house. "I want a house with all of these things in it but the only way I'm going to get all that is to save money by doing ALL OF THE WORK myself. Do I want to do that? Nope...sounds like hard work. Solution...I need more money or smaller house."

Caledonia Lass said...

Well if you really get motivated, you could pick one project at a time to complete. As for those animals... When I first moved up here to Alaska, we lived right in town where there is a leash law. No one ever had their dogs on a leash. My neighbors let out their dogs, they'd roam, do their business (usually in MY yard) and go home. One day I got so tired of it, because I don't have dogs, I watched where the dog went home. I scooped up the pile of poo and dropped it on their doorstep. They finally caught me and asked what I thought I was doing. I said, "Giving back what your dog left in my yard." It never happened again.
But then everyone started keeping better watch on their pets, cause one of my cats got out. She's old and has no front claws (that's how we got her). A dog grabbed her and shook her like a rag doll, nearly killing her. I went into a rampage. Got most of the vet bill paid for me and from that point on, people stopped letting their dogs out without leashes. I think they were secretly happy I moved from that neighborhood. XD

Andrew said...

I think home renovations are like writing projects, only do one at a time. Otherwise, what you end up with is a bunch of incomplete projects. My parents still have a stack of sheet rock that's been sitting on the screen porch since I was in high school. Back in the 80s. Mostly, though, that's because my mom wanted work done that my dad didn't want to do.

Arlee Bird said...

Home renovation is something I would never undertake. I have to admire you for taking up that challenge, but I can't blame you for how you feel about it now. I doubt whether I'd ever go for a fixer upper and try to do it myself.
As far as pets, good fences make good neighbors. I would not be happy with animals using my yard as a toilet.

Tossing It Out

Munk said...

Working with with your hands is a noble act. I find it rejuvinating.

Matthew MacNish said...

Have you considered fencing the whole property in? I wish I could care for my own (minuscule piece of) land. We live in an HOA, and they take way too much money for what I consider to be very shoddy landscaping.