DIY DIVA
DIY diva

Single Girl’s Guide to Country Living: 2013 Update

March 1, 2013 | 28 Comments | Uncategorized
DIY diva

Those of you who have been following my adventures in being a single girl living in the middle of nowhere by herself may or may not remember that around this time last year I wrote a little post about some of the many things a girl needs to survive on her own in the country. Which, of course, was inspired by the fact that earlier that day I’d locked myself out of the house. In the snow. In my pink polka-dot pajamas. Alone. (And I mean, kind of thank God for the alone part, considering the pink polka-dots.)

Since I’d just come off of a four-year relationship that came complete with a well-bearded sidekick to help me out of a jamb whenever I needed, the whole “do it all by yourself with no friends or family within 30 minutes of you” was a little new to me back then.

Now, of course, I’m a DIY veteran.

You’re waiting for the punchline of the joke where I tell you how I locked myself out of the house in the snow in my pajamas again, but you will be disappointed, my friends, because the first thing I did after I bought this house was to install these on every building on my property:

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Is it the prettiest door hardware ever? No. But I can’t even tell you how many times they have saved me from getting locked out of the house, sans pants, while running outside to get a closer look at the peacock in my back yard or chase off a coyote, or, you know, have a glass of wine on the porch. Yes. Pantsless. God I love the country.

Anyway, my point is that these programmable locks have literally saved my ass. And you may think, “Well, Kit, that’s all well and good, but I am not, in fact, a single girl living in the middle of nowhere, so this does not apply to me.” Which is why I thought I would share with you this cautionary tale from Colby (of Your Life is Made Up From Old TV Episodes fame.) Colby is not a single girl living in the country. He is an almost-married man living in the suburbs. So all I’m saying is… this could happen to you:

Kit, as I’ve been recently poking fun at all of the seemingly improbable circumstances you always manage to find yourself in, I just had to share one of my own to show you that residential living has its moments too. We may not have donkeys or mice-infested cars, but we have something crazier: other people. And in this particular case, my dad.

As you know, earlier this week, I had to fly to New York for a meeting. It was an evening flight, so in the late afternoon I had stopped by my house to finish up some last-minute packing. As I stood over my suitcase, I was jolted by a loud crash and crunch from the outside.  Startled, I ran to the window to see the cause: my dad’s minivan was in my driveway with my recycling bin wedged firmly underneath his front bumper.

Apparently my dad – who lives close by and always exhibits a fatherly concern for my safety – had driven by my house and noticed my garage door was up. Now I did not feel that the state of the garage door was an immediate threat to my wellbeing, but my dad felt differently and he intended to use the garage door opener I gave him to lower it so as to protect me from any would-be intruders… you know the kind that enter your house in a crowded subdivision. In broad daylight. When it’s clear that you’re home.

However, the recycling bin under his van took precedent over protecting me from aforementioned daytime burglars, and instead of continuing up my driveway, he put the van in reverse in attempt to loosen the recycling bin. But the bin was wedged too tight under his bumper and just dragged across the pavement.  I wish I could better describe the unrelenting grating sound that occurs when a thick piece of damaged plastic is slowly dragged across asphalt, but I’m not sure there’s a suitable onomatopoeia.

But I’ll try: “Screeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaacrunch.”  Imagine nails-on-a-chalkboard, except like a much louder dub-step remix of it and you’ll get a sense of what I’m talking about.

Well anyway, if going backwards wasn’t helping, the next logical thing to try is to go forward and just drive right over it and crush it completely. I mean to hell with trying to salvage my bin, right? Wrong. I feel like I need to send my praise to the city’s Utilities Division, because this damn thing was durable: I watched as it was steamrolled and pulled under the tire. But instead of shaking loose once it had finished passing under the wheel, the plastic bin popped back up and was now completely stuck between the ground and the bottom of the car. At this point, it may as well have been hermetically sealed to the van, because that bin wasn’t going anywhere.

Clearly the only solution left was to pry the bin out from under the van, so I sprinted out of my house into the snowy driveway to help, leaving my coat and shoes inside in the haste. But prying the bin out from under the van was my solution; my dad had arrived at a different one: flee the scene of the crime.

This is the same man who – when we were vacationing in Niagra Falls – tore the bumper off a parked car and sped to where we were waiting to be picked up screaming “Getinthefuckingcar! Getinthefuckingcar!” and rocketed out of the parking lot like he was auditioning for the role of stunt driver in “Live Free or Die Hard”.  So, to be fair, I probably should have seen this coming.

But I didn’t, and instead I chased after him as he pulled out of the driveway and accelerated down the street.  I had never had the privilege of seeing a minivan go 0-60 prior to this, but I’m pretty sure my dad could have given Mario Andretti a run for his money. The good news is the speed worked and finally the recycling bin shattered, propelling shards of blue plastic everywhere. The bad news is my dad succeeded in his mission to shut the garage door. Yes, the garage door opener works from the street. This of course begs the question, why did he feel compelled to pull into the driveway in the first place? The world may never know.

So, there I am, standing in my socks without a coat, shut out of my house because my keys and cellphone are inside my coat pocket (the keypad on the garage door was out of batteries). I had to go to my neighbor’s (whom I had yet to meet) and convince them that I was not a transient and to let me borrow their phone.  I called my dad.

“Uh, you have to come back to my house and open the garage door. I came out to help you with the recycling bin and you closed the garage door behind me.”

“Oh. You saw that?” He asked sheepishly.

“Yes.” I responded. Then added, “You asshole.” I’m not sure how at any point during his four-minute symphony of grating plastic and asphalt he was under the impression that he had remained undetected. “I’m pretty sure the whole neighborhood saw you.”

“Okay, on my way!” He replied cheerfully and clearly unfazed. He’s awesome like that.

As they say, all’s well that ends well and he showed up to let me back in the house and even replaced my recycling bin… by switching it with my neighbor’s, because “they’ll never know that it was my bin he had run over and not theirs.” Well I guess he’s right. Unless they read your blog, in which case, I suspect they won’t be letting me borrow their phone again anytime soon.

My reactions to this email were, in this order, 1.) oh my god, I need to meet your dad. And 2.) you should probably get a programmable lock.

Seriously, well worth it.

That one stays on my Survival List no matter where you live.

I have also been without power a few times in the last year, which, in the country, means no heat. No water. No flushing toilets. I’ve been talking about getting a generator for a few months, and over the holidays my dad and grandparents finally told me to quit my whining and bought me one for Christmas.

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I’m… kind of speechless actually. My family is so incredibly awesome an supportive. My uncles who will let me borrow their vehicles, or help me with anything I ask. My grandparents who are always the first people to call me for breakfast on a Sunday. My parents who have never once thought about having me committed for all of the insane shit I do. They’re not like, “you’re an effing crazy woman for buying a 150 year old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere by yourself.” They just get me a generator for Christmas and let me get on with my craziness.

Some of that craziness, by the way, means being too stubborn to ask for help getting the 300-pound generator out of the back of your SUV. I’ve learned to be incredibly creative…

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Or, you know, incredibly stupid…

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This crazy idea actually panned out without requiring a hospital visit for breaking half of my toes, but it’s only a matter of time.

The other two items in my Survival Guide list were door chimes to alert me if someone opened the doors to this bigass house, and a battery charger for my car.

As it turns out, living on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere is actually better than door chimes… I can hear someone coming a half mile away (and if that doesn’t alert me, the donkeys will surely sound the alarm.)

My car battery also died the other day while I was buying some straw from a neighbor, and he was kind enough to give me a jump with his four-wheeler, which leads me to believe that if I have a battery issue I can probably solve it with a jump from the lawn mower (or, if I’m lucky enough to purchase one this year, tractor) instead of buying a spare jumper.

That being said, I am far, far from being completely set up out here all by myself (I mean, you know I’m going to be completely off-the-grid before all is said and done, right?) but I do feel like I’m in a really great place to fend for myself, without imposing on my friends, family, or neighbors.

And if I do have to impose? Well, it doesn’t hurt to have these fuzzy little guys on the property to help make up for it…

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Right? I mean, could you say no to that face?

 

DIY diva

    Comments

  • m @ random musings


    wow, I thought my mom was good at willful cluelessness….seriously, I hope Colby offered to replace his neighbor’s bin.

  • Scott


    Weird. I got the exact same lock for my front doorlast week end after the garage keypad died. LOVE IT. A) We no longer have to show the world our disaster of a garage everytime we come home (we don’r keep a car in there anyway). B) The house is more secure because whenever we shut the front door it is locked (You can leave it unlocked if you prefer). Plus – No lock outs.
    Expensive but worth it.

  • Gabrielle


    Firstly I nearly lost it with laughter at the {“Yes.” I responded. Then added, “You asshole.” } part of Colby’s story.
    Secondly….programmable door locks….brilliant idea for my broke-ass back door lock. I can’t wait to go to the hardware store.

    • Kay


      Me too. Favorite part.

    • anne


      I was crying I was laughing so hard. That was a great story.

  • Karen Anne


    Tell us more about the generator? I’ve been looking at those, but there seems to be a choice: (1) not too expensive but you have to keep a lot of gasoline around and refill every few hours (probably in a howling snow storm), or (2) costs the earth and runs on natural gas and you pretty much don’t have to do anything to it since its permanently connected to the natural gas line.

    • Kit


      I will absolutely fill you guys in on the generator, once it’s all hooked up and everything. There’s a switch on my pole for the generator but I need to have a plug put in before it works.

      I opted for a portable generator for a lot of reasons. Well, natural gas isn’t an option for me because there is none where I live, but you can still get whole-house propane or gas generators. On my property the portability is nice because I don’t have power in my big barn, so if I ever want power there, or out on the back of my property I can use the generator instead of buying 3000 ft of extension cords!

  • Lori


    BWWWAAAAAAAA!! This sounds like something the sweetheart would do!

    I grew up in the middle of nowhere, and I am sure I can add to your list, but I will be damned if my brain is working now…not enough coffee. Give me a bit. Right now, all I can think of is a tractor with a blade and brush-hog, and a couple of cats to keep the snakes and mice away.

  • Belinda


    Just found your blog and LOVE it! Before I got married two years ago, I lived in a house in the suburbs with that kind of lock and it was invaluable! Once I could freaking remember the combination…

  • Suzanne


    I’m a new reader, and I LOVE your blog. It’s awesome. I just have one request…more of the donkeys!

  • Kay


    Oh I’m glad you shared this! Funny funny!
    We got good news on the land we are trying to purchase so keep up the good work (and the whining if need be) so we can use some of your crazy ideas.

  • Karen A.


    I, too, am a single girl living in the country. My door handle locks are the kind that, when locked, feel unlocked from the inside–IOW, the handle turns. The day after I moved in, I stepped out of the house into my new world, closing the door behind me, locked of course. I fortunately knew something about my closest neighbor from the sellers of my property, so I felt comfortable hopping on my bike, riding to her house, driving down a dark driveway, and knocking on a stranger’s door.

    The locksmith came tout de suite and told me that anyone could open my door with a credit card–which he then proceeded to do. Good thing the doors also have good deadbolts.

    My father, when house sitting for me, was also locked out–in his undies–in 30 degree weather. He fortunately had left his car keys in the ignition and drove into town to my sister’s home to get a spare key. I had told him where my hide-a-keys (yes, I have 2) were, but in typical male-of-the-species fashion, he didn’t listen. Serves him right. :-)

  • Sarah In Illinois


    Oh dear, poor Colby. That is just too funny.

    As a girl who has sold auto parts for a living for 20 years now. I still recommend the battery charger. ;)

    A jump start from a mower or 4 wheeler WILL get you going in an emergency but relying on your alternator to recharge your battery is not a good idea. The slower charge that a battery charger can provide will lengthen the life of your battery and alternator.

    Love the donkey in the snow!

  • lisa


    i just died. DIED. colby tells one hellova story. my parents recently got a programmable lock, too. they live in the middle of the woods and never really locked their doors.. so i never had a key. who needed one? right?
    then there started to be robberies around town in other houses in the woods who never really locked their doors, so they upgraded! and now i really don’t need a key. it’s kind of awesome.

  • Micha


    I think your donkey boys could convince even my urban husband to move to the country

  • Jason (Colby's Brother)


    And now everyone knows why I have had the programmable lock on each of my doors for years…

  • Vita


    This is off topic, but I really like that photo of you at the top. It’s kind of awesome!

  • Margaret


    We have a car jumper that you leave plugged in the wall to charge and use it like another car or battery to jump start your car. A great invention and usually $50 on sale at sears or an auto parts store.

  • Julie C


    I have enjoyed reading your blog.

    My husband, an auto mechanic, insists that we have one of these for starting cars. We bought one to send with our son when he moved 2 hours away. It only about $40 on Amazon. Schumacher XP400 Instant Portable Power Source

    My sister got one of those locks for her front door. She said she got tired of buying her son new keys.

  • Elin


    I have never understood the self locking door thing. No one has them here, so we very rarely get locked out while getting the newspaper, or mail, of crazy parents.

  • Carla


    As usual Kit great post! I know what a busy woman you are but I have to tell you how much I miss you on the days you don’t post. And I do love seeing the boys. Maybe you should always post a picture of them regardless of the topic!

  • Jess


    Kit gives me such an inspiration boost. My eventual goal is to buy an old ramshackle Ontario farmhouse on a huge chunk of mixed agricultural and bush land, then bring it back to life as my dream house. It’s definitely going to take a few steps up the property ladder to get there though =S

    But even without owning my own place yet, Kit’s stories make it seem way less like a dream and way more like a real possibility!

  • Emily


    I CANNOT WAIT to hear about your adventure going off the grid. So jealous. Plan details? Dream/wish list?

  • Kit's Mom


    Well, that’s what Colby gets for not believing your stories! LOL!

  • Jenny


    I really like the idea of those programmable doors. Years ago I lived alone in the country and quickly learned a generator was essential. I do miss being able to go out on the deck sans pants. I would be arrested around here.

  • Trish


    Pragrammable door lock …. BEST.INVENTION.EVER.

    Bought one for my daughter after she broke into her own house for the THIRD time and ended up with a HUGE bruise from falling into the basement from the tiny window…..

  • Korlad


    Yup, me single now, living on an island. Personally, I’d go with a diesel generator and try to score a solar panel/battery/inverter for those “no fuel” situations, for me, that’s post hurricane. Battery charger is a must on my list. Also, other invaluables are industrial strength moving dollies (converts from vertical to horizontal), wire rope come-alongs and block and tackle for moving things solo. I Once removed the rear tire from a mini bike and ran a rope around the wheel to make it into an impromptu motorized winch….. You are amazing. Thanks for your input and inspiration.

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