Locked out of my house…IN THE DARK??

The fence of my dreams…

Last Saturday morning started out with a bang when the door from the kitchen to the garage banged shut…behind me.

I loaded my bags into the Trusty Honda. And I ALWAYS have bags!  Usually full of books, my date book, my laptop, pens, notebooks, etc.

Since I still had to grab a few items from inside the house, I headed back to the kitchen door, turned the knob and realized that the door was locked.


The dogs barked like mad on the OTHER side of the door. Also in the kitchen with my dogs? My car keys…

I was already HOT.  And not ‘hot’ as in looking good, ‘hot’ as in HOT FLASH.  I hadn’t taken my Premarin, better known as Hormone Replacement Therapy.  (Those like me who had the early hysterectomy — or have been through ‘the change’ will feel my pain…)

I mopped the sweat from my brow and headed for the front door. Locked.

Still, I wasn’t overly concerned. After some of what I have been through, I know there is always a solution. To anything, really.

I had let the dogs out. Maybe the sliding door was still unlocked?

There will be an adorable picket fence in my side yard. The posts are in the ground, but not painted white and there isn’t yet a gate. Only a welded wire fence to corral the dogs, until my Pretty Picket  Fence is completed.

This is where it got tricky. I needed to hop the flimsy fence. In the dark. At 6:15am.

So I dragged a heavy, wood Adirondack chair over to the fence. Then hoisted the other heavy, Adirondack chair over the fence to the other side–only way to get to the ground on the other side of the fence.

I hopped up on the arm of a chair and was grateful for my agility–AND the ‘catlike reflexes’ I am known for. Because I slid sideways to the seat of the chair and caught myself, laughing out loud at my near disaster. I hadn’t accounted for the slick layer of icy frost that coated the tops of both chairs.

Undeterred,  I kicked off my clogs—that is what my daughter calls my black, leather,  slip-on shoes—and got back on the (rather wobbly) arm of the chair. I made my way over the fence using both chairs and walked over to the sliding door in my now VERY wet socks…

The slider was locked, as well.

By now, my neighbor Chapman’s three large boxers were on alert, barking like lunatics. Total barking dogs? FIVE.

Back in the garage, I weighed my (rather limited) options as I looked for tiny, sharp objects to wiggle the lock open with…

Suddenly, Chapman’s dogs were outside and in a lather. They lunged at the fence and the chorus of Five Barking Dogs was deafening.

I grabbed my cell phone. I didn’t want Chapman to wonder what was going on outside.

Me: Chapman, the dogs are barking at me.  I locked myself out of my house.

Of course, Chapman laughed at me. Who could blame her?

Chapman: Wait a minute…I might still have a key.

She rooted around in her junk drawer. (I heard her on my end) AND…Clouds parted and angels sang because she found a key!

I walked next door, laughing at myself…again. It was still pitch black outside. And it was Chapman’s day off work—her ONE day to sleep in.

Me: Morning Sunshine!!

Chapman handed over the key. As ever, she was in good spirits even though my antics roused her from a dead sleep at the crack of dawn. Lucky I have a neighbor like Chapman.

Me:  I’ll bring this back to you later.

Chapman: You’d better, for your sake. (She chuckled as she said it…)

A little later than expected, I was en route when my cell phone rang.

Dad: You there?

Me: No. I got locked out of my house, but I am on the road now…

Dad: I’m almost there.

Me: Great! Tell Tim I’m running late.

Dad: Can’t you call him?

Me: Can YOU be the bearer of bad news?

Tardiness annoys my brother, Tim. The irony? He is rarely on time. Except when he has a job to do. Tim was Tournament Director for a local hockey tournament.

My Dad, his wife Jannie and I agreed to work the tournament. And I was headed to the ice arena to be a Human Popsicle for the second day in a row. (I do LOVE my brother…)

As I took my post, I got out my reading material.  I’ve been reading an excellent book called, The Secrets of Six Figure Women.  It is an inspirational book about the common traits of successful women.

And trust me, as a single (former homemaker) with teenagers soon to hit college, I NEED all the inspiration I can get!! Though probably, most Six Figure Women do NOT begin the day by getting locked out of their houses…

And yet, I have hope for myself and my future. And along with my ‘catlike reflexes,’ I have my sense of humor…which is good, because I tend to NEED it!

Ode to the Doggie Playpen…

The fence of my dreams...

Cheap fencing is available and can be put up by two women in one day. Even if they have to clear overgrowth and vines using rusty old tools. Even in the pouring rain…

Back at the Big House, I had the luxury of Invisible Fence brand fencing. A fantastic product (really, it is), so long as a person can shell out $2000 to keep a couple of dogs in a yard. For this newly single mother with teenagers, underground fencing was out of the question.

Being a city girl, I was familiar with chain link fencing, wood fencing and the ever popular white picket fence. But I had never seen welded wire fencing.

After 2 years of trying to contain my dogs in my little White Ranch House—with little success—I was desperate for a solution. More so after a couple of ‘friendly’ front porch visits with the Dog Warden, citations that resulted in fines that I could ill afford. Like serendipity, I happened upon Livestock Fencing that is simply rolled out and attached to metal poles. Who knew?

For that matter, I had never heard of the Tractor Supply Store where one goes to purchase welded wire fencing. Growing up in cities, I mainly shopped at the mall. Living out toward the country– toward, because we are too close to a city to be truly rural—I have gained an affinity for smaller ‘Mom & Pop’ stores, Nurseries, Farmers Markets, Antique Stores…and now the Tractor Supply Store.

I wasn’t quite prepared for the Tractor Supply, nor the fence building equipment needed for my project. Happily ignorant and with spring in my step, I made my purchases. Thank goodness for the Nice (patient) Guy who helped me load my car.

As I almost always do, I brought the dogs. And a trunk full of eBay items headed for the  post office. Incidentally, I have an old Honda Accord, which has long since been called ‘the Honda pickup.’ Because I use it as one! I was thankful for the fruitful eBay week, but I had to move the boxes to the front seat and they took up the space of an adult person. Not the end of the world that I would be riding home with a “box buddy”…kind of like the blowup ‘passengers’ they used to sell—but in corrugated brown box form. And there was still room (barely) for the dogs in the backseat.

The dogs banged around inside the car—a bundle of whining, tail wagging, barking energy—as the Nice Guy and I loaded (jammed & crammed) my rolls of fencing and T posts into the trunk. He even used twine to secure my purchases (something I know NOTHING about) and finally tied a big red flag to the crap jutting out from my trunk. Apparently, the law requires such a flag for anything that sticks out more than 1 foot. Without it, I risked being stopped and given a ticket. It is shocking that I have NOT been fined for such a thing.

Not even on one of my more flagrant violations of this law when I brought home a patio set hanging halfway out of my van—with a few boys holding onto it to keep it inside the vehicle. Halfway home, it became necessary for the boys to scramble back to their seats and buckle up—which left us with a dangly table that miraculously stayed IN the van. The black and white car that caused the rush to the seats didn’t seem to mind that I was bumping along with a large glass-top table precariously close to concrete. Either that, or he just wasn’t in the mood to take on the situation. I mean, where to start? But I’m getting off track…

My new fence looks nothing like the adorable white picket fences in storybooks and pictures, however it does blend into the landscape and can easily be removed, if need be. It does keep the doggies in my yard and cost less than $200—less than the fines I paid to the County…I think they had something to do with having a Dog at Large.

My reality. Not as pretty or Perfect--but it DOES the trick!

Every time one of my dogs decided to step out for a little jaunt At Large in the neighborhood, they always came right back to my front door when the Warden happened along. The damn dogs could have at least run about and let us find them, so I had some chance of being anonymous. No such luck.

Those days are over now that I have my 48” welded wire fencing. My dogs have what amounts to a Doggie Playpen in the backyard. And they don’t seem to mind at all. They are happy out there.

It isn’t the fence of my dreams. Then again, my life isn’t all that I had dreamed of either. And that’s okay. Somehow, it works.

Special Thanks to Casey Nichols for showing up in the pouring rain to help with such a dreadful task. Most people would not have–I truly appreciated the help and her companionship that day!!!