Home Renovation

DenaAugust 27, 2013

When Matthew & I moved into our house almost five years ago it was a fixer-upper. (Fixer-upper being a euphemism for: a piece of…) I digress. An elderly woman lived in the house before us. It smelled like cat. There was a thin layer of mouse poop covering every surface & a thick layer in all of the cabinets & drawers. We would come to find that much of the flooring was rotted out and that the walls were insulated with newspaper. There were literally gaping holes in the walls exposed to the outdoors. As fate would have it, we moved in in December. That winter our heating bill averaged $700 per month.

Needless to say, we were blessed that Matthew is a talented carpenter. It took a few years but eventually he gutted and reconstructed the entire house. Yes, there was a short period of time when we used an empty paint bucket for a toilet. And yes, there was a long period of time when I did our dishes in the bathtub. (My back is still thanking me for that…) But in the end, the house turned out beautifully and, five years later, we’re almost done. It was worth it. The location is perfect and through renovating, we were able to create a home that we truly love.

I am reminded of all of this because this past year, we have finally been able to turn our attention toward the outside of the house. We got a new mailbox, stained the decks, replaced the roof, and landscaped the front yard. What we haven’t done yet, is deal with the backyard. We’ve had a longtime disagreement about putting up a fence. We both want one but it’s been a question of when. If it were up to me, we would have had a fence up five years ago. On the other hand, Matthew has other ideas for the backyard and would like to see where everything else falls before we commit to a fence.

All of this came to a head on Friday night when one of my worst fears came true. See, black bears wander through our yard all of the time and usually it’s not a problem. They’ve always happened to come through while we were in the yard alone or when we were in the house. But on Friday night we were roasting marshmallows around a little fire and Bella was with us. Then all of a sudden, you guessed it, a black bear came through. Bella went charging after it. I went charging after Bella, screaming bloody murder. Visions of my sweet dog getting ripped to shreds flashed before my eyes. Now, let me be clear, black bears are very non-aggressive. They do not attack humans and they rarely attack dogs. However an aggressive bear, when confronted, or a mother bear, in any circumstance, will attack a dog in a heartbeat. Thankfully (oh-so-thankfully) we were lucky that night. The bear ran off. Bella ran back to us. And we all lived happily ever after.

But it was more than enough to ruin our peaceful campfire and to make me very upset in the I-told-you-we-should-have-had-a-fence-five-years-ago! kinda way. The whole situation reminded me how difficult the past five years have been. Renovating a home is one of the most stressful things that you can go through — especially when you are living in it through the renovations. Going through the process over the last five years has challenged our relationship, our patience, and our commitment over and over again. However, it has also strengthened our bond. Every hurdle ultimately taught us something and in the end brought us closer together.

Now what about the fence? Well, we’re working hard to come to a decision. I just hope it’s not another five years until we do so! *Sigh.* In the meantime, unfortunately for Bella, she’ll be inside or on a leash until we get it sorted out.

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Comments (7)

  • Gillian

    August 27, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Yikes! That’s pretty terrifying but also neat that you eat to experience such wildlife where you live! You’ll have to share photos of your renovations!

    1. denabotbyl

      August 27, 2013 at 11:35 am

      It really is incredible!! We love all of our animal friends… this time was a bit scary though. I am hoping that Matt comes around on the fence… SOON! The good thing about the fence that I forgot to write is that it will only go around the backyard. So the bears and deer can still get to the apple tree in the front. 🙂

      I want to take pix/do a home tour soon. The problem is that my house always looks like a bomb hit it. Sigh… #newmomproblems 😉

  • Mary Linn Lombardo

    August 27, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    You had my heart pounding form the minute I read “usually not a problem”! knew it had to be Bella. What a hero, she protected you!!! Yes, fence please! (and leash only when human is on the other end of course, right?) So happy for your happy ending!!

    1. denabotbyl

      August 28, 2013 at 4:07 am

      i’m so happy for our happy ending, too. also really grateful. our little hero, bella. <3

  • hayley

    August 28, 2013 at 1:10 am

    poor bella!

    I admire those that can make things, my dad is a joiner and like your handy guy he can achieve so much. both Adrian and I are not into diy (though supposedly being a kiwi/nzlander is SUPPOSE to mean its in our DNA. no way). I totally look up to those that can go about converting the hopeless into the beautiful. you guys sound like you have done a lot.

    sorry to hear about the bear. so not what you needed on such a cosy campfire type night 🙁

    1. denabotbyl

      August 28, 2013 at 4:09 am

      it is great that m. is so handy. unfortunately, following all of the renovations, he has no motivation to do anything more. ha. hoping that he feels differently in a year. 😉

  • hayley

    August 28, 2013 at 1:11 am

    & its mindboggling to most people in NZ a bear going through their yard! crazy!

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