We all survey our domains.

Yesterday was a little amazing. I got the first fifteen minutes back for the audio book version of Only the Innocent to approve. Instead of instantly approving it, I sat there in my chair listening to my book as if I were hearing it for the first time. I was simply entranced. The voice actor did that amazing of a job. I’m stoked. So stoked that I’m put in to start a Kickstarter campaign so I can give him higher pay.

Despite that today has been a day of supreme domestic mundanity. There’s a lot that has to be done around the house to get things together and improve our… lot. When we came home, as I’m sure I’ve said before, the place was a mess. The house was full of junk. The property was covered in weeds and brush from where it hadn’t been getting mowed properly. Five giant pine trees that had been killed by the giant tornado from a few years ago stood dead, ready to fall and kill someone. The carpet stank. The sewage was backing up. The electric needs fixing. Just one thing after another.

So far we have managed to get the sewer pipes clear, shut off the water in parts of the house that’s going to need serious repair, get a washer to replace the one whose motor was burned out mysteriously after coming home, cleaned up various things that had been getting neglected, and (most recently) paid out a bunch of money to hire some young’uns to clean up the brush that had been allowed to take over the yard.

One super important goal has been to get some sort of fence in the backyard, because our dogs are miserable and who can blame them. We tried a petsafe fence, but the only guarantee with that which worked was their guarantee for our money back if the fence didn’t work. Alas. Things are better enough we could do it, so we got a very small loan so we can put in a traditional fence last week.

I should like to add here I would rather leave the lawn open and inviting, but the fence is a must.

Onward to the fencing grounds. Step one was actually getting the death trees cut down, which we’d tried to do on more than one occasion over the year. Finding people who want to work for a living in this town is next to impossible, I swear. I’d been a little iffie about cutting them to begin with because they were right on what we thought might be the property line, and we weren’t sure whose trees they actually were. We only knew they were widow makers waiting to happen. The biggest was leaning dangerously toward our house. If it fell we’d lose house and probably life. It was a BIG tree.

Some manipulative greasy types came by and pushed us around a bit, and between one neighbor next to the trees indicating they were ours and the greasy types we paid to have the trees cut. The greasy ones only cut most, said they’d be back,and left us with a half done mess. There were logs and cut pieces everywhere.

They took a too big chunk of my husband’s meager backpay, too. “At least it looks better,” my neighbor said to me. She’s right. But we’ll never see that money again. My reaction to this has been to put a sign on my front door that says NO SOLICITORS and warns that I *will* let my dog bite you while laughing as only an evil, fed up person can.

Step two was getting the brush out. That happened a few days ago, as I have mentioned. We have a yard again. You can see the concrete fence that the back neighbors and I share. You can see stumps, and terrain, and the boundaries. It looks great. Worth the price, I think.

Step three of this process was figuring the actual property lines.  This meant having to pay to get the land surveyed because people around us didn’t seem to know. I had asked one neighbor when we first bought the house and was told not to worry about it, because it was no big deal. (Yes, it was. I am about to tell you why.)

We’d asked another neighbor later who told us that we could probably try to find the metal stakes put on the corners of the property to figure it out. We got a used metal detector to try to find those, which we did not. (We did find a toy car and some pottery sherds, though.) While we dug, our other neighbor sat on her front porch and watched – nothing really goes on in this neighborhood, I figure, so when we do something outside it’s entertainment for everyone.

We didn’t want to because the price was too steep, but we hired a professional. He came out today. It took him and his partner most of the day, but when he was done we finally knew where our property boundaries were after all these years.  He also told me he’d surveyed the adjoining property for the neighbor who watched us flounder trying to figure out where the lines were. (The same neighbor, I might add, which told me not to worry about the property lines.)

He took me to what was left of the dead trees and explained that was not my property. 50% of the area that I’d paid to have cleared of brush was not my property.

He took me to another part that my neighbor is planting a rose garden in, and he explained that was my property.

He took me to the far corner of the yard and showed me where that property line ended.

He suggested I cut down the maple tree that is 90% on my property but 10% on the neighbor’s. To avoid drama, he said.

He suggested I do a lot of things to make sure there were no grey lines anymore. He seemed to feel it was very urgent I do so.

After he left, it took a little while for it to sink in but I realized I’d been tricked into spending 100% of my husband’s back pay AND to go into debt to clear the dead trees and brush from my neighbor’s property. It was money we sorely needed. Our credit is terrible, and there have been times we weren’t sure if we’d eat over the past year. Now the money is gone.

On my neighbor’s behalf, I’m sure it was an honest mistake. The property lines are a mess. The man who built this house – we call him the Doctor – did a lot of things to make sure we could tell where the property line was without a mistake. He planted trees. He cut a groove into the backyard and lined it with stones. These are all things that told me where the lines were on two sides, but unfortunately I didn’t have the legal document to back it up. So when my husband and I came home from the army, we had been warned by a third neighbor of the animosity brewing over the state of our yard against us – the state that turned out not to be our issue at all. Talk about throwing stones at glass houses.

So here I sit, a little deeper in debt because the people around me felt that knowing the property lines was no big deal. We would have preferred to use my husband’s back pay to put up a fence and not go deeper in debt. It rather feels like we’ve been robbed, and not just by the greasy thieves that said they’d cut down the trees.

But on the bright side… the yard really looks a lot better. Seeing things cleaned up always lifts my spirits.