Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Manliness, As Exemplified by Shaking Knees

Oh man, how I hate ladders. And heights. Which are usually only accessible via the former.

Of all the things that I absolutely hate about being an architect, it's that annoying problem of having to check a roof. Flat ones are fine, as long as they have a nice high parapet. But then there are the ones that are only about a foot high. Eeeee-yah. And you can't act like you're scared, because the large burly guys who put all the stuff up there in the first place will laugh at you behind your back. But nothing is like a sloped roof. Except for maybe a sloped metal roof. Bleeh--full body shiver every time I think of that stuff.

I just don't like heights, and there on the corner of my eave has hung a floodlight that came unmoored (I call it Unthello) sometime between when the house was painted and about a month ago when I first noticed it hanging there.

Task--reattach it.

Tools--the Amazing, Handy, Yet Too Shaky For Comfort Versa-Ladder; a cordless screwdriver; a somewhat tired chubby guy with an aversion to extra-groundular excursions; and a small boy to hold onto the ladder, and in the event of the law of gravity making itself known, to run inside and tell Mommy to call the ambulance.

The ladder is interesting--it's a steel folding ladder that I bought it several years ago. It weighs a ton, and is supposed to be able to be locked into several different configurations--a vee, a double-u, an upside-down U, an ell--all of which, beside being valuable parts of the alphabet, are handy to have if you're trying to get around various shrubs or obstacles. Supposedly, you're even supposed to be able to use it like a scaffold, in the upside-down U mode. It is supposed to be strong enough to support elephants and the like, but you know, I really don't care. It's still a ladder and the way it's made it seems bouncy, and it has those three hinge points that seem to be nice and large and sturdy, but you just never know. I figured I would give it a link anyway today, but doing a bit of Googling, it seems the domain name has been taken over by prOn sites and other unrelated sources. Could be something to do with this Iowa case where one collapsed as a guy was using it so set ROOF TRUSSES. (I emphasize that only because it plays into my other fear of roofs.) Anyway, it appears they are no long made. Which makes me frightened in retrospect.

Anywho, hefted and hauled that pup out of the garage, carefully unfolded it and made double sure all the hinge locks were set and then set about to swing it into place. A steel ladder is heavy. An 18ft long steel ladder that has been unfolded is heavy, and unweildy. In the extreme.

I managed to stick one end down in the grass so it would hold still and walk it up until it landed on the side of the house, then I ooched the bottom over onto the patio. Went and got my screwdriver, a couple of likely-looking screws, and my small boy.

"Son, I need you to stand right here and hold the side of the ladder so that it doesn't fall."

"Okay, Daddy!"

The idea of a tiny lad being able to arrest the fall of a multi-hundred pound man on the end of a heavy steel stick is laughable, I know, but as I said, I really needed him more as a way to communicate the result to his mother more than render any sort of stability to the enterprise.

I took a deep breath and started clambering up until I was even with his bedroom window. Still too low. One more step, then another, with the ladder gently bobbing underneath me, and Boy commenting on the birds in the yard. "JUST HOLD ON, SON!"

"Okay, Daddy!"

I reached over--much too far for my liking--and saw that not only was the fixture dangling by its wires, one of the bulb holders was also broken off at the base. Well, big deal. I decided I wasn't about to go to the store and get a new one and replace everything--just let it dangle, and when the house burns down, I will be able to change it out while it's on the ground.

I carefully took one of my screws from my clenched lips, tucked it into the fixture mounting hole, and ever so carefully got it threaded back into the hole in the soffit. Rzzip-rrzip. Whew. It took. I got the other and similarly got it started, then threaded the wires back into the hole and finished driving the screws home. SUCCESS!!

Now to get down. By this time, Jonathan had started to gently tap his foot on the bottom rung, which, due to the particular length and material of the ladder and the load imposed upon it, amplified the tap until it felt like I was jumping rope. Well, that's the way it felt. I told him to please stop, and slowly made my way back down, until I once again felt the nice concrete under my feet.

"Whew. That was sorta scary."

"It WAS?!"


"How come?"

Who knows?

He ran back inside as I took the ladder back down, dropping it accidentally and nearly hitting the gas grill in the process, folded it back up, schlepped it back to the garage and sat down on the bench to rest for a moment. Went in and got something to drink as Reba worked on supper--"Jonathan said you got scared up there." Little loudmouth. Looks like I'm going to have to sit him down again and review the Man Code. Rule #54 distinctly says, "Never blab about another man's fears to his woman."

Then again, I did break Rule #2, which is, "Never admit fear," so I suppose it's my own fault.

Back outside, and time to get the wildflower meadow cut down. It actually looks kinda pretty, so I went around and snipped off some of the weeds--there was some yellow stuff, and some purple stuff, and some white stuff with yellow centers, and some blue stuff, stuck 'em in a cup of water and showed them to Miss Reba, who was incredibly umoved by them.

Got out the bird seed and started filling the feeders--I had just gotten to the first one when I turned around and saw Catherine coming to help, hair unponytailed and looking like a fright wig, dressed in flip-flops, a tee shirt, and panties. (It's all part of my plan to position her as the next big thing after Christina Aguilera's star fades.)

"CAT! You need clothes on to be out here!"

"My tee shirt is long--see, it looks like a dwess!"

It did come to her knees, but the effect was not one of wearing a dress, but rather, one of a small girl with no pants on. ::sigh::

"You wanna help?"

Vigorous head shake yes, and she carefully scooped seed and let it run into the feeders, and then took some and made sure the squirrels and voles and shrews and mice and doves had something to eat.

"Okay, 'bye!" and off she went back into the house.

Cranked up the Murray, and started my rounds. Lots and lots of rounds. I suppose I need to sharpen the blade, because the grass was so long all it did was lay over under the blade instead of being clipped off. So I had to basically cut it all twice. Which took a long time, and made me think dark thoughts. Too much exhaust fumes, I suppose. But I guess it's best to think them there and then suppress them, instead of ranting and raving on here. Although probably less entertaining for you, but hey.

All finished, put away the mower, rested a bit more on the bench, and then headed inside to eat supper (stir fry chicken and vegetables, Jim), and then time to get everyone ready for the next day.

Next: Sunday, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!

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