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Wednesday, April 22, 2009  

Grounded

Some of M. Edium's Christmas presents haven't even been played with yet, because they're more of the outdoor warm-weather variety. For instance, there's this little foam rubber toy plane that comes with its own spring-loaded launcher. The plane has a tube running along the bottom of its fuselage, and you thread the rod of the launcher through it, which pushes a spring back. Then when you pull the trigger on the pistol-grip-shaped launcher handle, the spring launches the plane into the air. "Up to sixty feet!" says the box. We don't have any rooms that big, so it was going to need to wait until he could do it outside.

He had actually forgotten about it, but as we've been having more and more warm days lately, he dug it out and wanted to give it a try. One day last week I was just about to bring him outside to play with it, but then he launched it across my study. Two seconds after I told him not to. Obviously plane time was over after that.

Over the next few days, there was reason after reason why we couldn't take it out for a spin. It was too cold again. Or the plane was misplaced. Or it was raining. Or the launcher was missing. Or he had to go somewhere. Or we busted him selling credit default swaps. It was just one thing after another.

Then, this past Sunday, the stars aligned, and everything was in place for a maiden flight. The weather was nice enough, the calendar was clear, both launcher and plane were in his hands, and he hadn't recently misbehaved. So we went out to the back deck. I loaded the plane onto the launcher and was about to show him how it worked, but he wanted to be the first to send it up, and how could I deny him?

So he pointed the launcher straight up into the air and pulled the trigger. Finally freed of its earthly bounds, the plane soared above our yard…where the wind caught it and dumped it on our roof.

For him, it was the equivalent of "Oh, no! I shot my eye out!"

Now, ever since we put in the addition a few years ago, this part of the roof has been out of my reach. It's a good 25 feet above the back yard, and the tallest ladder I have is a sixteen-footer. But was I going to give up the first time my kid lost a toy on the roof? I think not. While I got out the ladder in what would prove to be a futile gesture, M. Edium disappeared for a few minutes while he went in to tell his mom what had happened.

"What did she say?" I asked him when he came back.

"Am I serious?" he answered.

So I did what anybody would do. I went and got the electric leaf blower and the push broom. We went up to Trash and my bedroom, where I took out the window screen, jammed the head of the broom through the handle of the leaf-blower, and leaned out with the whole assembly to reach around under the eaves and try to generate enough of a gust to blow the plane down into the driveway. I tried this a few times. In between each attempt, I would have to pull the remote wind machine back in, close the window to prevent a cat from making a mad leap, go downstairs, back outside, and up the ladder I had since leaned up against the attached garage because the garage roof was the only place where I could actually see where the plane was. I'm pretty sure that I made it rotate a few degrees at one point.

M. Edium was avidly following me around throughout this process, and I was trying to keep him cheered up, saying I wasn't out of ideas yet. "We'll try 500 ideas," he said. I said I thought that we probably wouldn't have to. Which was true. If we hadn't gotten it down within 300 ideas, I was pretty sure we weren't going to at all.

The next thing I tried was to tie a corner of a chenille throw to a clothesline and then heave it up onto the roof. This is trickier than it sounds, partly because a fall I took back in February means that my left shoulder doesn't have the strength or range of motion it once did, and partly because it required me to hurl a ten-pound bundle high in the air while balancing on a stepladder in our driveway. I actually did get the thing up on the roof a few times, but the ideal situation, where the blanket would unroll in such a way as to cause it to drape over the plane and allow me to drag it down, never materialized.

Finally I realized I was going to have to suck it up and get up on the roof anyway. I think I've told you this before, but I hate our roof. The front isn't so high, but it's impossibly steep. The back isn't so steep, but it's impossibly high. I haven't been up there at all since the addition, but it looked like this was going to be the first time.

Fortunately, Trash and Linda saw me with the ladder out the front window, and Trash stuck her head out the door just in time to talk me out of it. Thank God. Now I could move on to my next plan, which was to pull my car up next to the side of the house and put the ladder on the roof of the car.

Actually, no, I didn't do that. But I might have, if not for the fact that we had some people due this week to trim some trees at our end of the block, and they were probably going to have a bucket truck.

Oh, and then the wind blew the plane off the roof the next day.

M. Edium was all excited to get back out there and give it another launch, but it was too cold and windy that day. Too bad.

Today was nice, but we don't know where the launcher is.

And the cycle begins anew.

posted by M. Giant 6:17 PM 4 comments

4 Comments:

The funniest part was M.Edium's initial announcement of the problem, when he ran into the house and dramatically stood in front of me and Trash and said -- JUST like in a movie -- "BAD NEWS!"

Seriously, he is so awesome and wonderful it will keep me chipper for months and months.

By Blogger Linda, at April 22, 2009 at 6:51 PM  

Really? Trash *and* Linda were both inside the house and neither thought to grab a video camera of this?

Because not only would that have been awesome, but it totally could've won you enough on America's Funniest Home Videos that you could afford to buy a 25 foot ladder. Or hire someone with a cherry picker to go up there and get it.

Darn.

By Blogger Heather, at April 22, 2009 at 7:39 PM  

My solution to similar problems? Stand and pitch a basket ball at the toy and try to knock it down. The basket ball is heavy enough and round enough that it won't get stuck on the roof!

And sometimes it really does connect with the toy and knocks it down. Works for things stuck in trees too!

By Blogger My name is Andy., at April 23, 2009 at 2:48 AM  

When it comes to landscaping and labor intensive work I always bring out the bad boy toys. After destroying two back ends in my truck I finally decided to purchase some heavy duty equipment to help me on my way. I have found my dump truck and bucket truck to be very helpful with trimming tall trees and removing the debris from my yard.

By Anonymous used bucket trucks, at April 30, 2009 at 8:32 AM  

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