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Friday, May 9, 2014

The Gate Ghost

We have a tall fence across the back of our property.  In an odd configuration, our back yard abuts our neighbor’s side yard, putting our bedroom windows across from their driveway. The fence seemed like a good idea for privacy.   We’re on good terms with our neighbors, though, so it seemed friendly to install a waist-high gate where our back yard fence meets our next-door-neighbor’s fence.

One time the latch tongue fell off the gate and got lost.  How did this happen?  I have no idea.  I never could figure it out.  I drove an hour to the original fence builder to replace the set, but due to rush hour and road construction, they closed one minute before I got there.  The guy inside would not open the door.  I swore all the way home and bought a similar, but not identical latch set at Home Depot.

Installation of the new latch meant a two inch slice of sky showed through, but, hey, it closes. 
The neighborhood children know they are welcomed to use the gate but should shut it after themselves.  They’re pretty good about it, but since the average age of boy running through the thing is about eight years old, they are not perfect.

Last week, we were invited to our next-door-neighbor’s for a birthday party.  Happy Birthday!  When the behind-us neighbors arrived, they joked that we didn't like them anymore because the gate was stuck shut.

In the morning I went to investigate and saw that although it opens inward, the gate overlapped the other side of the fence post by a good 1/4”.  How could that happen?  I mean, that’s a BIG overlap!  Had the kids slammed it?  No little kid is that strong.  Maybe it had been left opened and a gust of wind during the recent thunder storm caught it and swung it through to the other side -- through 1/4” of wooden post.  Perhaps bad gate ghost, a poltergeist, had struck again. 

I brought my husband out for a look-see.  He noticed the lock mechanism was missing from the other side of the post.  He found it in the dirt on our side.  How did that happen?  I ask you, how?  Because I do not really believe in ghosts, I was still pondering how the gate had managed to defy the laws of physics.  Steve devised a repair plan.  He would remove the end slat, saw an inch off the end of the cross bars, and pull the door through opening.  Then he’d nail the slat back on and screw on the locking mechanism.  This seemed pretty labor intensive.  I knew that if I could just figure out how the gate swung through an opening too small for it, we could reverse the process and affect a repair.

Meanwhile, we went back to reading the paper on our back porch.  I saw the neighbor in front of his garage and called him over to survey the problem.  He thought that if we just pulled on the seven foot post, tilting it toward our side of the fence, it might just make room for the gate to swing through.  Of course, that might loosen the post enough so it would have to be replaced, but it might be worth a try. 

The next day our landscape guy came with his crew to weed and mulch.  Let me say up front that I love this guy.  He is eager to work, does a great job and charges a fair fee. Also, when he was a little boy, he trained as a carpenter and does all sorts of indoor work as well as landscaping.  

Steve looked up from the paper, “Should I go ask Calixto to look at the gate?” 

“Why not?  Catch him while he’s here.”

Steve walked Calixto over to the gate.  Calixto proceeded removed the hinge pins, slid the gate to our side and put the pins back.  He screwed on the lock.  Two minutes.

A gate is a friendly thing.

I would like to point out that between our neighbor, my husband and I , we have a ridiculous number of degrees from institutes of higher learning as well as life experience as experts in a variety of arcane fields with work around the world. 

Yeah, it took the guy with the third grade education.