How building a fence can kill you

I’m still working away on some very interesting creative projects. I’ll tell you about them soon, but I’ve had something else eat up enormous chunks of my time. We’ll file this in the “life happens” category. This is the story of my fence.

My backyard wooden fence was like a sick old family member that was progressively falling apart and shutting down. Being the caring relative I am, I gave moral support and kept extending longevity with scrap bits of wood and two-inch screws to hold it all together. It was a good arrangement. Then, last spring, a fierce wind storm blew two rotten sections to smithereens, posts and all. The rest of the fence was sagging and one gust away from falling too. And as I would do for any family member gasping for a final breath, I kicked the rest down and threw it away. Time for a new fence!

The company I hired to install the posts refused to dig three of the holes because of cables and pipes running underground. If they hit something, they would be responsible for repair costs. So they recommended that I hand-dig those three holes myself. It would require care and patience.

Making sure that I was digging a full two feet away from the locate lines sprayed on my lawn, I dug the first hole but it wasn’t quite deep enough. The rule of thumb for post hole depth is about one-third the fence height, but my shovel just couldn’t dig deeper into this rock-hard soil. I gave up and moved on. The next two holes went a lot deeper and I learned some digging techniques. I hit some difficult, thick roots, but I found I could sever them if I made direct and forceful jabs with my straight-edge shovel. So I went back to the first hole and found I was making great progress. three, then four inches deeper. I thought, maybe just one inch deeper. Yes, one more inch would do it. As I was about to destroy yet another root, I stopped. This root felt different under my shovel. I put down the shovel, took off my glove and leaned into the hole with my bare hand stretched. Deeper, deeper, and then I touched the root. That’s when I discovered it wasn’t a root. My middle finger felt a tingle.

Have you ever touched an electrified fence? I have. My grandfather had an electrified fence on his farm, and he’d grip it with his right hand and encourage the grandkids to link hands with his left in an electrified chain of children. I’ll never forget what it felt like to be a conduit of electricity.

Oddly, touching this cable in my post hole wasn’t nearly as shocking.

Nothing happened to me when I touched it. Well, nothing serious. My body hair fell out from the crotch down and my toenails turned black, but otherwise I’m unscathed. I made up that last bit. I came away completely unharmed. I was lucky. But I still have this live hydro wire at the bottom of a hole in my backyard. A crew from the hydro company will repair it tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to the bill I’ll be presented with once this is all fixed up. My power didn’t go out in the house, so I’m hopeful that this is just a minor nick in the cable.

One day I’ll have a beautiful fence in my backyard. Hopefully very soon.

On a side note, I’m climbing the CN Tower in support of the United Way this Saturday. I’m excited and completely unprepared. Below is a drawing I made after completing the climb in 2009.

Dan Holst Soelberg is climbing the CN Tower for the United Way


A day of laughs and entertainment at Hamilton’s second annual Comic Con

Superheroes assemble! Costumed attendees await their turn to take the stage at Hamilton's Comic Con costume competition. (Please forgive my blurry photo)

Superheroes assemble! Costumed attendees await their turn to take the stage at Hamilton’s Comic Con costume competition. (Please forgive my blurry photo)

I started off Saturday feeling like I could have slept a few more hours. A brutal cold was festering hot in my headachy sinuses and I wasn’t sure if I was up for a long day at Hamilton’s second annual Comic Con. About an hour into my day at the convention centre I had forgotten all about my early morning concerns. It helps to be surrounded by inspiring fans and table neighbours who spend the entire day making everybody laugh.

My jovial neighbours Andrew and Mike pose with me in front of their table

My jovial neighbours Andrew and Mike pose with me in front of their table

Aside from being super nice and hilariously funny, Andrew and Mike have joined forces to create a new spin on Doctor Who in the form of an audio podcast. Curious? Check out their facebook page here and their podcast available absolutely free from iTunes.

Wolverine costume Zombie costumeTo my near left was Phil Ortiz of The Simpsons fame, who spent the entire day drawing for fans. I leaned in closer from time to time just to see his masterful hand at work. I was lucky enough to see him shake a Homer out of his marker like it was nothing. I must say, his fans are dedicated. Some spending most of the eight hour Comic Con day in line to be immortalized by Mr. Ortiz. When he left his table for over an hour to eat lunch, nobody moved an inch from their firmly held queue spots.

Mars Attacks! costumeOh, and the many costumed talents who were amazing spectacles for all to enjoy! From the creative superhero costumes to this detailed Mars Attacks!-inspired masterpiece, there was a feast for the eyes to behold.

I sold a few Christmas cards and calendars, and I have plenty to offer you on my online shop. The Christmas cards are available individually or in boxed sets of 10, and the 2015 calendars are available here.

Thank you Hamilton. I look forward to returning next year!

Headless snowmen greeting card by Dan Holst Soelberg

Hamilton Comic Con, here I come

Hamilton Comic Con is tomorrow from 10am to 6pm, and I have a table on the third floor. Aside from a nasty cold that has decided to occupy every sinus cavity to the limit, I’m excited and raring to meet Hamilton full-on. I sold out of a bunch of stuff at Fan Expo a month ago, so there was a lot of re-stocking to do.

Headless snowmen Christmas card by Dan Holst Soelberg

The front of my headless snowmen Christmas card

Inside Christmas card by Dan Holst Soelberg

Open the card to reveal a festive message!

The most popular item at Fan Expo was a Christmas greeting card. So, it’s back at $4 a piece, or two for $6. By request, I’m also offering the card in boxed sets of 10 for $25. I managed to find a handsome little white box for the cards that I could stamp my logo onto. If you can’t make it to Hamilton tomorrow, Christmas greeting cards will be made available on my online shop next week.


2015 Calendar by Dan Holst Soelberg2015 calendars are back! The calendar features drawings from my book Dwellers of Lurching Swill and includes all Canadian holidays.

For complete information on the convention, click here. See you tomorrow Hamilton!Inside the 2015 Calendar by Dan Holst Soelberg