Sense of accomplishment, gone

By Mir
May 2, 2011

I have (had) all kinds of exciting things to tell you about today. I am (was) feeling productive! And accomplishment-y! And like a worthwhile member of society, and I couldn’t wait to tell y’all that I’d stopped wallowing long enough to get stuff done. My weekend was FULL OF WIN!

But then I saw that Osama Bin Laden was killed, and because I don’t want to get into anything political and I’m also uncomfortable with the notion of being happy about murder (even of someone who certainly appears to meet all objective criteria for “pure evil”), all I can say is this:

Hey, thanks, President Obama, for upstaging MY weekend! Sheesh.

Naturally, I’m going to tell you about my weekend, anyway, it just seems a lot less impressive, now, somehow. Maybe I will seamlessly embellish part of it to try to bring it up to a similar excitement level. Probably you won’t even notice.

Anyway. I can’t remember if I ever shared the Story Of The Fence. It goes something like this: The original owners of this house decided to put in a pool, and of course when you put in a pool you are required by law to put a fence around it, because it turns out that having small children wander onto your property and drown in your pool can be a real downer. Being the sort of people who routinely did everything they could to make sure that any project they undertook was done as completely half-assed as possible, the fence these people erected is a testament to what can be accomplished through sheer force of will and a lot of alcohol.

The fence line is… interesting. It encloses the pool, yes. It’s also a bizarre shape for no discernable reason. The fencing is a few different heights and even what appears to be at least two different types of fence panels. We have several fence posts not attached to anything at all, suggesting that parts of the fence line were moved, at some point. Also, the fencing is more “picket”-y than privacy, which means it’s ugly AND our neighbors and everything can see right into the pool area with no difficulty. And to top it all off, the entire thing was done in wood that was never stained or sealed or painted in any way.

Fast forward twenty-something years: We now own this lovely home and very much enjoy having a pool. Too bad our fence is quite literally falling into chunks around it, huh? Otto is a whiz with screws and brackets and general patching-up abilities, but we have reached the portion of our program where the original fence wood is starting to just disintegrate whenever he tries to reattach anything. Clearly it was Time To Replace The Fence.

We have been going back and forth with contractors and getting estimates for a couple of months. We need the fence; it’s not really optional, because it’s becoming a safety issue. But as long as we’re replacing it, we may as well get what we want, right? Well. I would like an eight foot privacy fence, because I am a hermit. Also, I would like it in vinyl composite because I would like to spend my summers painting/staining said fence NEVER. I am just being REASONABLE, you see.

Otto would like wood because he likes the way wood looks. But then he seems to get a little miffed when I tell him that if we get wood it’s all him when it’s time to seal it. He’s willing to get vinyl if it’s not too ugly. He’s not sure we need a fence that’s eight feet high, though, because maybe if we straighten out the fence and all of the panels are the same height, six feet will be fine.

After tense negotiations, it turns out that Otto is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT that we don’t need an eight foot fence, because it seems that—while vinyl is close to twice as expensive as wood, which we knew—the people who make vinyl fencing are really bad at math. To wit: Eight foot vinyl fencing costs twice as much as six foot vinyl fencing. (Something about eight foot being special order. And them being BAD AT MATH.) But six foot we could maybe afford. Except then it turned out that most vinyl fencing comes in white, off white, another whitish color, and puke, and we had to start all over again to see if our contractor could find something the color of actual wood.

But HEY, this weekend we finally signed a contract, sold one of the kids for the deposit, did a bit of test digging, discovered Jimmy Hoffa’s body, and our new fence has been ordered. We’re even putting in a chain link run off to the side for Licorice, because after all of the fence negotiations of footprint and material and height and gate type and color and ALL OF THAT, adding a small dog run off the side was kind of “Sure, why not?” in the grand scheme.

And because we still had a few bucks left over after that, we went and ordered the kit to convert our pool to salt water, too. We’re hoping that this year Chickadee and her mutant skin will be able to swim more often if the pool isn’t so chlorine-y, though of course “salt water pools” still have chlorine in them, so it’s possible this is the dumbest thing we’ve ever decided to do. Regardless, in a couple of weeks we’ll have a salt water pool surrounded by an actual privacy fence, which will allow me to float around in there, imagining all of the wonderful things I could’ve spent that money on, instead, like a new kitchen or a semester of college for the remaining child, or something.

Once all of our money was spent, I finished planting this year’s garden, yesterday. I was feeling all productive, and stuff, plus it still always makes me laugh when I plant new herbs and remember the very first year I planted and how everyone was all worried about my mint taking over. I’ve learned a few things in the intervening years of gardening, and I still like mint. I’m sorry. I know it evokes strong feelings in many of you. I shall make it up to you by sharing that this year I opted to skip green beans altogether and go for an entire section of snap peas, instead. SCANDALOUS!

And then, of course, this morning I had dinner in the crock pot before I even had breakfast. See? Put all this stuff together, and I was feeling SUPER PRODUCTIVE. But it’s no bringing-an-international-terrorist-to-justice, I suppose.

Though I very much doubt that Obama is making veggie chili for dinner tonight, y’know? JUST SAYIN’.


  1. Randi

    People get salt water pools? You’ll have to ignore me – up here in VT so few people have pools and I’ve never heard of a salt water pool! Doesn’t it hurt if you open your eyes up in the water?

  2. Jen

    I had a half dozen nervous breakdowns Saturday alone over selling our house and moving to Chicago.
    I still can’t believe the mint hasn’t taken over your yard and held you all hostage.
    If you need more kids to sell to pay for that fence, I have a couple I could offer up. Just sayin’. ;)

  3. Beth

    @Randi…I saw my first salt water pool while in Germany at a resort. And no, salt water doesn’t hurt your eyes. It actually hurt my eyes less.

    Obviously you’ve sold poor Monkey. Otherwise there would be no reason to switch the pool over to salt water for Chickie. That’s a shame…if you’d sold chickie, you could have had more years to save for college for Monkey. :)

  4. Becky J

    My parents (live in AL) converted to salt 3 years ago and LOVE it! And it does feel soooo much better on the skin. Hopefully, it will be a good change. Randi, it doesn’t hurt any more than any other pool water on the eyes – I wondered that, too, but it was fine. And the occasional deer/possum/racoon/snake that finds itself accidently in the pool, it is more environmentally friendly. Guess that means you sold Monkey, as Chickadee is planning on swimming! As for the president, is it too snarky to say, “Darn, who got kicked off Apprientice? Ten minutes before the end, just when it was getting GOOD!!”

  5. Christina

    And that is why YOU are the ultimate deal finder! You got a fence you wanted, and a dog run off, AND converted your pool to salt water, all for the budget of a new fence! Enjoy your new privacy, salt-water pool this summer!

  6. Nelson's Mama

    We have several friends with pools and I love the ones with salt systems. It’s MUCH easier on the skin!

  7. ellen

    I know excema is far far less complicated that what your daughter is dealing with, but switching to salt water made all the difference in my kids’ skin. Added bonuses: no more faded swimsuits, no stinging eyes, and no pricey chemical cocktails to add and fiddle with.

  8. Charise

    My birthday is April 29. I feel like the royal wedding upstaged MY day!

    Hope the fence installing and pool converting go well!

  9. Lynn in Mass

    An accomplished weekend indeed.
    I felt pretty accomplished Sunday evening, even if my son has to wear his First Communion suit that is a little snug, I found one and that is the important thing.

  10. Kate

    Oh, my KINGDOM for a salt-water pool! I hope everything goes well with your pool project.

  11. Angela

    Ah yes, in the South a pool is almost necessary! My parents have a salt water pool and we do like it better than chlorine pools.

  12. Liza

    Mint! Panic! Mint! I predict mint will take over your newly salinated pool. And the dog run. And Chickadee’s skin. And the crock pot.

  13. Jamie

    We had a salt-water pool at our last house and we loved it. Just adding salt instead of having to manage the chlorine tablets was so easy and cheap! I hope you guys love it, too. Yay on the new fence, too. We need to replace one side of ours, fun stuff.

  14. sarah

    So I know nothing about pools, and don’t doubt that you’ve done your research. But since it didn’t come up, I wanted to mention the idea of maybe using bromine instead of chlorine if you still have to put some in? I knew someone who had a skin reaction to chlorine but bromine was ok. Since he was a powerful faculty member, he got my university’s new pool to be bromine, and I swam in it all the time and thought it was just fine (tho I don’t have particular skin issues). I did google before writing this and see that some people find bromine to actually be worse for them than chlorine, so certainly it might not be helpful to you at all, but did want to share that there’s at least some people for whom the switch is a good thing.

  15. Kelly Allan

    Your weekend was MUCH MORE interesting than Obama vs. Osama. Mostly because I read what makes me happy. Politics does not fall in that category.

  16. AC

    Glad to see I’m not the only one that deduced that Monkey was considered the sell-able child. Perhaps he brought a higher price?

    My husband and I are also in fencing negotiation. I’m all maintenance-free while he is all traditional-bueaty-blah-blah-blah.

  17. Jen

    I received the same warnings about the mint. More than a year later, it is living happily in a raised bed with some beets, chives, sage, and a few other plants, and very courteously staying where it belongs. It seemed to die off over the winter, but has returned with spring, much to my delight. We use it regularly for tea and tzatziki. It is planted in the particular spot by the fence where our dog likes to bark at the mailman and skateboarders, so maybe being trampled regularly has kept it in check.

    I planted all peas this spring (well, actually, I planted 2 purple bean plants, which were eaten by snails immediately upon transplating into the garden), and have been thoroughly enjoying our bounty of sugar snap peas and yellow snow peas. None of them actually make it into the house for salads or stir frys or anything – I gave my kids and their friends the ok to pick them as long as they eat them, and I believe I have single-handedly doubled the vegetable consumption among the kids in the neighborhood. I planted a second round of them this weekend. They are so sweet and crisp and sooo much better than the ones I get in the store. I’ve had mixed results in my garden, but few things give me such a sense of satisfaction.

    Glad to see someone accomplished something this weekend – mine was a total bust.

  18. Brigid

    I’m a little jealous of the snap pea decision. I pondered the same thing and wimped out. Maybe next year.

    And now I’m off to go pick up a SKUNK TRAP from the local animal control. Which I guess means I will be setting said trap. Oy.

  19. meghann

    Charise- My son’s birthday is April 29th, too. Instead of saying he was being upstaged, we decided to tell everyone that is how the UK decided to celebrate his birthday, by having a huge royal wedding. Wasn’t that nice of them?

  20. Walkingborder (Karen)

    “sold one of the kids for the deposit”

    “We’re hoping that this year Chickadee and her mutant skin will be able to swim more often if the pool isn’t so chlorine-y”

    Now see, I kinda figured Chickadee was the one you sold off, because of the whole, hormonal teenager thing. But well, I guess I guessed wrong.

    Joking, of course (as long as you were).

  21. Lucinda

    I love the way you make me laugh. Congratulations on a very productive weekend. I feel the same as you do about the recent news and I’m so glad you told us about something else instead! Because I would much rather here about crazy fences anyway.

  22. dad

    You have proven yourself a won-ton woman with that snap pea decision.

    And, should I have the urge to visit Monkey, on what slave ship is he toiling…and did he take his new therapist with him?

  23. Karate Mom

    Soooo….when can I come swimming? :)

  24. Tenessa

    I want a swimming pool, too. And then I look out at my trampoline that has seen better days since recent tornadic activity in the area and I’ve spent countless hours sewing up the holes in the netting. All of that leads me to thinking that a pool requires much more effort than the trampoline and I’m all out of effort. heh.

  25. Daisy

    I think (shh, don’t tell Mother Nature) that I’ve brought our mint under control. If I can keep it in a small area, I’ll be able to enjoy the aroma and make a few mojitos now and then. I don’t mind it around the rhubarb; the mint keeps the wild bunnies from eating it.

    We don’t have a pool, but our backyard looks like a swamp. Does that count?

  26. MaryP

    Nope, the Obamas would be having a lean-meat chili, though perhaps they don’t make theirs in a crock pot… Nom. (Can I put a link in a comment here? About to find out…)

  27. Pam

    On my way!

  28. karen

    Huh. I always thought Jimmy Hoffa was buried under the bubble cover in my mothers pool that hadn’t been opened since 1976.

    One problem we found with Vinyl…. if you get a deep freeze (prob not likely in Georgia)… it cracks. Even when they say it doesn’t.

  29. JennyM



    Oh gracious, for a moment I had the image of you ridding the world of a senile skin specialist and thus, freeing the world of one more steroidal pushing quake.

    But fences are good, vegie chili even better.

  31. Tracy B

    You were very productive. I can’t say the same, though! Enjoy the pool…salt water is a wise decision. You won’t be sorry! All of the money you’ll save will pay for the fence! Just sayin’…

  32. Another Dawn

    You don’t know. He might be making veggie chili for supper. Could happen.

    I am about to embark on a bathroom reno AND replace the siding, doors and windows on my house.

    Pray for me…

  33. Jinx

    Speaking from experience, I hope you had your survey done when you moved in and the metal rods are still in place. Nothing quite like putting up a fence only to have to pull part of it down because it’s an inch over the property line.

  34. Chris

    OMG! Seriously, too funny! Love you! Made my whole day or maybe even my week with the humor!
    Not sayin’ I have a real life or anything, but whatever!

  35. The Mommy Therapy

    Keep in mind that I have no actual facts about salt water pools, but I do hear that they are fantastic for a TON of different reasons.

    I think you sound very productive and any time dinner is done before breakfast, well, you basically don’t have to do anything the rest of the day as far as I’m concerned. :)

  36. Kira

    You are so wise, because although no one wants to admit it, green beans are usually gross. NOT ALWAYS, PLEASE DON’T GIVE ME YOUR RECIPE. But usually.


  37. Heather

    I know its to late now BUT they now make a composite material that you can put down on the wood decking to help make it last longer & it is a MUCH cheaper route to go (even when spending the $ to build a new deck on top of it) than the vinyl. I work for a remodeling company & we sell both materials. If I had known sooner I could have given you some advice about it.

  38. Aimee

    Well, and if Obama DID make vegetable chili for dinner, I doubt it would be as good as yours.

  39. Katie in MA

    Heh. My girls were in a roll-over accident this weekend (everyone’s fine!..ish) so Monday morning when I woke up and heard I was all Pffft! Osama. Well that’s nice, but BY THE MIRACLE OF SEATBELTS my children are alive! Some other people seemed to think the Osama bit was a pretty big deal though.

  40. Erika

    Every year we say we’re going to convert to a salt-water pump (one of my kiddos has eczema), and every year we end up having to use the money for something else. This year it was a new water pump in my car and a new starter in hubby’s car. Apparently there is some great cosmic conspiracy to keep us using chlorine.

  41. Trish

    Mir, it sounds like the people who lived in your house before you were related to the people who lived in our house before us. Did all the work themselves, and $75,000 later, we’re still fixing some of their messes! Ah, the joys of home-ownership. Seriously making us rethink being renters!! Good luck with the fence. After getting some quotes for a portion of our fence, I can only ask, Where did you find a buyer for one of the kids? We may need to finance ours that way too.

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