tragedies #11: the back yard fence saga

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 03-26-2010 09:51 AM 4235 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: I just planed a board :) Part 11 of tragedies series Part 12: fixing my dryer's tensioner »

It sure feels like everything is falling apart this year. There was the planer and its bearings. Too, more than ever I’m wearing out shoes and clothes. I’ve gotten wood glue or finishes on and holes in so many shirts now, and had 3 pairs of jeans become for lack of a better word ‘dry rotten,’ each ending up with tears more than a foot long. The dryer broke… again (washer broke last year – the bottom rusted out and after filling, it popped and dumped water all over the floor). My office chair back has broken, so I can’t lean back anymore. The bathtub faucet has begun to drip all the time. My outdoor/working sneakers have large holes in them, and the insides are all torn up. Granted I’ve been wearing them all day every day for years now, and I do hard things like loading my truck full of 150lbs+ logs often enough, so that’s expected of simple running shoes, but it’s just the timing.

Everything is breaking this year. My miter saw is making a terrible grinding noise and I can’t use it anymore until I figure out what’s going on inside it. I’m pretty sure it just needs to be replaced. It’s just a cheap Ryobi and it’s taken some really bad hits, like when it pulled that round log sideways and pushed its own protective cover into the blade, chewing itself up badly and jamming to a halt. I had to disassemble a lot of it to fix it that time. No idea what’s making the noise now, and the motor brushes seem fine. Several of my hand saws have slipped and hit metal things, knocking off teeth, and at least one of them isn’t usable anymore. I don’t recall this many things falling apart in so short a time before. There’s a general, overall degradation of things, too. Things just seem to be deteriorating. I’ve noticed that the siding all around the house and garage is starting to fall apart, especially around the bottom. There’s a 1’ hole in the wooden slats with insulation spilling out near the garage door. I think it’s been hit too many times by the gardener’s weed-whacker. I’ve been in there several times when he’s hit it, and it always makes me jump. Because of the digging up of the front yard for the sewer line install, the front yard looks like a war zone, and the grass is taking its time bothering to cover back over any of it (the weeds are having fun, though). It goes like this everywhere. The whole place is just aging rapidly. We have had a lot more rain and high winds than usual this year. Perhaps that’s part of it.

Anyway, on to the fence saga – another thing that fell apart.

Before I knew what was going on, the morning glories in the back yard had moved from the trellis to the small back yard gate’s fence and pulled the trellis over. Too, they went in the back window (my bedroom), and somehow managed to sneakily invade the bedroom without me noticing for a month. I tend to just go in and fall into bed, wake up and leave. That room is only for sleeping. Still, it shocked me when I found the vines had come in behind the thick, floor-length curtains, crossed the floor, and wrapped themselves 3 times around a piece of rolling luggage before going into my closet (one I never use), and up through all of my old clothes I don’t wear, through the sleeves, wrapping around the hangers and hanger rod. I finally noticed one day when I happened to look up when going into my room and saw a wide spray of vines coming over the top of the curtain rod and heading toward the bed across the ceiling, literally hanging out over the room about 2’ from the wall. It scared the life out of me. Here’s a shot of the back yard, with the vines clearly having infiltrated my bedroom:

morning glories invade my back wall

Not only did they do that, but they kept trying to go around the fence to the right there and head toward my wood racks, and they did go all the way around the other way, across the cement patio, and to my back door. I swear they weren’t there one week, and then I opened the door one day and they were 3’ from the door. They were at least 15’, maybe 20’ from their base. They also went along the wall, behind outdoor plastic storage closets, then through cracks and all up through those. I opened one of them one day to get something after weeks of not looking in only to find the whole thing full of vines that spilled out at me. They also passed by those and went up into my water heater’s metal enclosure. They had surrounded all of the pipes and hoses and fittings in there. I had to carefully clip them all out. Most recently they decided to push up under the siding on the back of the house, and there was no pulling them out. I just had to cut them right where they entered. They really anchor themselves. I’d have to tear off the siding to get the parts that made it inside. I’d had enough, and went to work one day last week:

morning glories removed from back yard fence

I admit I may once or twice have screamed “Die, you foul monster!” while hacking away for an hour with a hatchet. I had to be careful pulling them free from the electrical box. They were extra tightly wrapped all around that. I suppose they liked that sweet electrical juice. I still at that point had to clean out the bedroom itself, so leaves remain in the windows. I also learned I’m a bit allergic to morning glory dust. The flowers and vines keep covering over themselves, building up a huge pile of debris that basically flakes away into dust. Hacking into that released mighty plumes that blew all around the area, covering me and making my eyes burn and my skin itch mightily.

Here’s the mass that had made it over the small fence:

morning glory vine ball

It took 2 weeks to get rid of it, as only half would fit in the green waste bin at a time:

morning glory vines in trash

The cat definitely approved of the new, clean area, but note the poor condition of the fence:

cat inspects newly cleaned area

cleaned area in back yard

From the other side – the fence was previously covered in more than a foot of vines piled on top of each other:

no more vines

The fence had become really wobbly. The vines had been holding it up rather securely. Today I was in and out to the garage all day, and then at one point I headed back out to find this:

fallen fence in back yard

fallen fence in back yard

It really underscored for me the whole “everything is falling apart” feeling I’ve been having lately. The bottom of the posts had rotted away:

fence post rotten at bottom

I had just earlier in the day picked up this Stanley 55 – 040 nail claw / chisel for helping with reclaimed lumber:

Stanley nail claw / chisel

It helped me make pretty short work of the whole thing:

fence boards

fence posts

I was going to keep them, plane them, and make something out of them, but these things are toast. Just trying to pry them loose caused them to crack along their lengths far too easily. Much of the wood could be scraped away easily with a fingernail. They were all completely dry rotted, with no real structure left to them, so I dumped them out by the road. It’s trash day. Someone will come along and use them for firewood.

I swept up, and now if I’m to be honest, I rather like this a lot better. I’ve always been one for closed-in spaces, low ceilings, small rooms, lots of fences. I’m kind of a natural mole. However, I love being able to see my ‘xylarium’ (wood racks) easily from the back yard. I’ll love not banging into the fence all the time with a shoulder, planks, green waste bin, or furniture dolly dragging logs around.

missing fence

Too, I’ve long wanted to tear out this ratty old fence and build one that can be easily lifted out so one day I could get my expensive wood shed rolled out whenever I move. I think once the log racks are out of there (hopefully not in the too near future), it will fit. I should one day mock up a 1×2 frame and see if my friends and I can snake it out of there between the house and garage without getting wedged.

view through former fenced area into back yard

I guess that’s the secret – look for the positives. My shoes aren’t falling apart. They’re finally falling apart after a very good run through probably 2 or 3 years of hard labor. My chair broke, but clearly I have a lot of weight to lose. It’s just trying to urge me back the treadmill ;) The dryer, though a pain, was actually kind of fun to fix. There are positives to most of it.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

7 comments so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4444 days

#1 posted 03-26-2010 01:49 PM

Feel your pain and joy Gary. My house is a fixer upper and have had to deal with the breaks. I posted a roofing project on homerefurbishers that a buddy and I completed last summer. Big mess and nearly made me cry when it was finally completed.

As far as jeans go, if you have a Tractor Supply Company store where you live, pick up some of the CE Schmidt jeans they have there. They are economical and tough as nails. I was ripping out so many jeans around here I refused to buy new ones. I picked up two pair a few months ago and haven’t torn a hole yet, which is like a guiness record for me.

Good luck with the projects, looking great so far.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4676 days

#2 posted 03-26-2010 02:46 PM

clearly , you need to take a ’ love boat ’ cruise ,
for a month .
and re-evaluate your priorities ,
while an exorcist deals with the house .

just wear your life jacket the whole time (LOL) !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View lew's profile


13488 posts in 5091 days

#3 posted 03-26-2010 05:29 PM

Ahh, the joys (?) of home ownership. Just when you think everything is right with the world, something else breaks.

Your story of the morning glories reminded me of a friends home. They have an ivy vine that grew into the house. They found it to work as a thermometer. When it went below 32 degrees outside, the leaves on the inside would droop. But, I think your situation may have been a little “over kill” on the sensing units.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4717 days

#4 posted 03-26-2010 09:42 PM

David – good grief! I’m glad the place hasn’t come to that yet! What a job. Also, thanks for the note on the pants. I grabbed 2 pair from OSH (Orchard Supply Headquarters) and those fell apart pretty quickly, too. I began to think no jeans were strong enough, but I’ll definitely track down some CE Schmidts. I had a pair recently where the outer hem got loose. I was just watching TV with my hand on my leg and felt something weird. It was the front and back pulling apart and revealing the stitches like a ladder down the leg. I flipped them inside out and ran the whole hem with a tight, zig-zag stitch on my little sewing machine. Now they’re good again. It’s nice to be able to fix some things, but it was yet another of those “Why is everything falling apart?” moments.

David (Patron) – a vacation would probably be nice, as long as I could come back to no problems here. I don’t know how that’s possible :)

Lew – I’m only renting, so the real problems are my landlady’s! I have grown a bit of an unnatural fear of morning glories after seeing how quickly they move. I swore I could almost watch them grow if I sat down long enough.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


23286 posts in 5011 days

#5 posted 03-28-2010 07:22 AM

Coming from the farm I can tell you it is the forces of nature. When you live in town, nature is working against you. Things rust, wear out and need to be fixed and replaced. When you live on the farm, nature works for you. Every spring the new growth adds to your wealth and well being. The cows have calves, the horses colts, and the sheep lambs. A few seeds will give you reap bushels of wheat. Nature gives you more every year instead of constantly chipping away.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4717 days

#6 posted 03-28-2010 08:19 AM

Your story cheers me up, Topamax! I think I need a farm, with a nice, huge patch of woods.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4544 days

#7 posted 03-28-2010 04:49 PM

Your morning glories sound like they have been crossbred with kudzu!

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