M. Giant's
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Thursday, September 25, 2003  

Reaching New Heights

I started my new job a month ago, but my new benefits didn’t kick in until today. I went a month with no health care coverage. So I figured, hey, why not spend that month balanced on the penultimate rung of a sixteen-foot ladder?

One hears about people falling off of ladders. That occurred to me. I didn’t plan to fall off the ladder. No, if I overbalanced and tipped away from the house like John Belushi in Animal House, I’d be riding that sucker all the way to the ground (or into the neighbors’ dining room, as my location dictated). Same thing would happen if the feet at the bottom of it lost their grip and started sliding away from the house, placing me at the vertex of a collapsing hypotenuse. Either way, for weeks I’d be galumphing around on crutches, and when people asked me what happened, I’d have to say “I fell off a ladder.” Even though falling off a ladder wouldn’t strictly describe what had happened to me. Falling off a ladder implies catastrophic operator error, some impromptu and brutally brief Harold Lloyd routine at the end of which the blameless implement still towers unmoved over your broken form. I’m not that inept, so I wasn’t worried about that happening. Until it almost did a few times.

My mom has spent the latter part of the summer working to increase our home’s curb appeal. She and Trash have done all this landscaping work, and she’s helped us paint the shutters and the trim, and she even painted the naked concrete foundation so our house is white all the way to the ground. As if that weren’t enough, she’s prevailed upon us to let her put a couple of coats of paint over our increasingly dingy aluminum siding. Now, the home that started the summer as “the ratty little blue-and-off-white Joad house on the block” is “That sharp-looking little gray-and-white house on the block.”

A quick digression—how common is it to use the word “Joad” as an adjective to describe a crummy-looking domicile? Trash and I first heard it when we were on our road trip with Kraftmatik and the Krank four years ago, and we saw quite a few rural dwellings whose appearance called to mind a Jeff Foxworthy routine. Obviously the term “Joad” derives from the family name in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, but sometimes I wonder if we’re the only people who use it. Anyway.

So now our house looks much nicer, and of course that has led us into the trap, as it always does, of having to continue to do stuff so that the overall appearance lives up to the work we’ve already done, even though we weren’t necessarily planning on doing more right away. Thus, we’ve repainted the wrought-iron railings on our front stoop. We bought a new storm door to replace the rusted-out horror that hangs on the front of our house now (although we haven’t installed it yet; as of now, the decomposition continues under a recent coat of Rust-Oleum™). And I’ve been sort of working on painting the eaves on the ends of the house.

It’s technically a 1½-story house, so painting the front and back was easy, except for the giant tin triangle whose apex is twenty-some feet above our front stoop. The ends are a little trickier, though. I can’t reach the peaks of the eaves even from the fully-extended sixteen-foot extension ladder, even if I stand on the very top rung on my tiptoes. Even if I jump as high as I can from that rung with brush extended, swiping it along the millwork at the apogee of my leap, and hugging the side of the house again when I land. Not that I did that too many times. I found that it caused me to slosh the bucket a little too vigorously, which tended to get a little sloppy.

Only thing for it is renting a 28-footer from the local hardware store. The rate for six hours of use is ridiculously cheap, so my plan is to get as high as I can with my own ladder, then finish up the three-foot-high wedges at the top of each end with the rented one and have it back at the store the same afternoon. But I’ve been putting that off.

Now that I have full medical coverage, though, there’s no reason to procrastinate any more. Up, up and away!

While I’m at it, maybe I’ll put up my Christmas lights. It’s never too early, you know.

Today’s best search phrase (which doesn’t qualify for the contest because it turned up before I announced it): “Fisher Price little people whores.” I can understand if someone is trying to assemble a complete set of these little guys, but you have to understand that not every profession is going to be represented. Even in the gritty urban milieu of the Sesame Street set.

posted by M. Giant 2:56 PM 0 comments


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