Copyright 2009 - Bruce Gaughran
Inadequate is how I feel when something needs to be done around the house these days. Unfortunately, most everything that needs to be repaired requires someone else to do it. It 'smarts' every time something breaks or needs repair and my wife comments that she wished our nephew lived a little closer (our nephew is the handyman of the family). I also realize it is just my ego being bruised, but it still bugs me. For years, I would 'try' to perform the repair, and several times, I ended up hurt or could have been hurt because my ego blocked all common sense. To give you an idea of what I mean, this happened a few years ago while we still lived in Pennsylvania.
A raccoon broke the wire between two trees that held a bird feeder in the backyard. Not wanting to bother my wife that morning, I grabbed the twenty-five foot extension ladder from the garage, walked to the back of the yard, leaned it up against the big oak tree, and extended the ladder another six feet up the tree. For some reason I believed that because I could still climb steps with the help of handrails, I should be able to climb a ladder.
After securing the wire to my belt loop, I stepped up to the first rung without a problem. The second rung, however, was a little more difficult and should have been a sign. By the third rung, my thighs just would not pull me up. So, figuring that I only needed to go up another five or six rungs, I pushed my butt out (away) from the ladder and used my thighs to push out as much as up as I worked my way up several more rungs. My feet were probably eight to ten feet off the ground by now, I was sweating, and my leg muscles were shaking as much as the ladder. Did that deter me? No way. I figured that if I went up one more rung, I could do the job. Since my center of gravity was no longer against the ladder, all of a sudden I noticed that I was going airborne. I reached for a branch (and missed) as the ladder lifted itself away from the tree and I began to falling backwards in a slow downward arch. It is a somewhat terrifying feeling sailing through the air knowing that you are going to hit the ground hard.
If this had happened in my younger years, I would have just jumped off the ladder and rolled. In this case, however, there was no jumping involved. I just hung on for dear life and wondered if any of the neighbors were watching as I plummeted towards the earth. I find it strange that in almost every fall or accident I have had like this, I am more worried about whether someone is seeing me do something stupid than if I am going to be hurt.
Anyway, back to the story. I ride the ladder to the ground (once again proving Newton was right about gravity). WHOMP! I land on my back still holding onto the ladder. After I catch my breath, I begin to test all of my limbs. When I realized nothing was broken, I extricated myself from the ladder, picked myself up, brushed myself off, and then looked sheepishly to the left and right making certain no one saw my latest aerial stunt.
Realizing that I just got off lucky again, I looked up towards the sky and gave a short prayer of thanks (probably the sixteenth that week). Then I picked up the ladder and took it back to the garage. Once inside the house, I casually mentioned to my wife that when she has some time, "we" (she loves the word 'we' because it means 'she') need to fix the bird feeder sometime today.