Monday, October 17, 2005

Mind In The Gutter

It was fairly nice in Spokane this past weekend. The sun was out and it was one of those rare weekends where I didn't have any obligations with the family or other outside activities.

This late in the season nice days can be deceiving, and the inevitable foul weather will be arriving before we know it.

Our yard trashcan was full from pulling out a bush, and there are pine needles and leaves falling which meant soon it would be time to rake the yard and haul out the fall droppings.

This was when my mind went to the gutter.

My house has a lot of rain gutters (what did you think I meant?), so every year just before the snow hits I go through the ritual of climbing up and down a ladder with my rubber coated work gloves, and clean the sludge of leaves, pine needles, and dirt out of my gutters.

We have lived in our current home for three years now, and in that time I have never had a ladder that would reach the very top roof, and from the looks of the gutters up there, the lady that owned the home before us didn't either. This summer we actually had a nice crop of weeds growing in what looked more like a window flower box then a gutter.

Ladders that could reach that high up, and support me at 250 lbs, are not cheap. My wife and I have felt it was not really in the budget to spend approximately $200 far a ladder. Friends and family have mentioned that the cost of repairing water damage that could happen from clogged gutters was far worse of a prospect.

On top of my gutter problem, our kitchen has a high vaulted ceiling with recessed flood lights. Without a tall ladder, I have been unable to reach the uppermost two floodlights and they were both burnt out.

I tried buying one of those new-fangled light bulb changers on a pole. Sounds good in theory doesn't it?

The floodlight removal tip seemed to grab the floodlight alright, but when I unscrewed it I could not get it out of the housing and just pulled the housing out of the ceiling. Then, of course, the fancy tool was stuck up within the housing and dangling from the ceiling. I screwed the bulb back in to gain some more room between the housing and the light and finally got the tool out. Argh!!!

Eventually I was able to yank the time-saving device out of the housing, with the bulb mocking me and still in place.

The second bulb was not as cooperative, and I could not get the tool around the floodlight because that housing was too close to the side of the bulb. Now this was becoming a tool from hell sent to task me, but I had a thought! This demonic device had a suction cup that, in theory, could be used to suction onto a bulb and extract it that way.

Thinking I was finally outsmarting this torturous tool, I screwed on the suction cup attachment, and once again attacked the first infernal bulb. The suction cup made contact, and I gave it a little push as everyone knows you must do to properly get a suction cup to work.

Suddenly there was a loud “POP!”, and I just managed to drop my gaze to floor as I took a shower in glass from the now obliterated floodlight. My wife and Mother-in-law were watching my dismal display as a handyman, and my wife had only one thing to say after watching me bathe in glass fragments.

“Go buy the ladder.”

With that I returned the bulb changing nightmare to Home Depot, and bought a ladder.

At first I was just going to buy a 24' fiberglass extension ladder that could support 300 pounds. Then I began looking at my other options. What I finally decided on was a “Gorilla” ladder, which is pretty nice. It can support my fat butt (up to 300 lbs like the fiberglass extension ladder) and extend to 21' in addition to folding into a multiple-height step-ladder.

When I got it home the first thing I did was fold it into the step ladder, raise it to the needed height, and finally fix those dang floodlights. One of them apparently had not been changed in a long while because it was a bugger to unscrew, and the other one was now just a metal piece that used to be attached to some glass.

The ladder advantage allowed me to finished the indoor light bulb task in no time, and we finally have every bulb lit up in our kitchen, and the ability to reach them should they decide to extinguish in the future.

My nice new ladder and I adjourned to the backyard where I extended it fully to make sure I could hit the roof-line. Sure enough, it would reach with room to spare. I quickly began the thankless task of digging my hands into the muck of the dirty gutters and harvesting my weed crop from the upper-reaches of my home.

As write this I am a tad sore since going up and down the ladder about 100 times has used muscles that don't normally get worked. Now I know why they have those ladder machines in the gym, so a person can stay in shape for cleaning their gutters.

The gutters are clean, the bulbs are changed, and my Home Depot quota for the “honey-do” list has been blown for the month. Up next, placing the patio chair cushions above the garage, and getting down the Halloween decorations, but I'll spare you those exciting stories unless something news-worthy occurs during the process.

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