Archive for ladders

Rungs to Ruin

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 15, 2009 by davegerry


Another weather story. I must be getting desperate. That’s always the first sign that a reporter is tapped out…when you pull out the old chestnut of weather.

Anyway, we’re supposed to be smacked with an incredible amount of rain here in the next few days. They call it the Pineapple Express because it’s a weather system that comes from somewhere out there in the Pacific, somewhere in the vast, distant, general direction of Hawaii. It’s a very romantic and meaningless euphemism.

In advance of the heavy rain, I am contemplating getting out the ladder to check the eaves troughs for those pesky downspout-blocking leaves. This is always a stupid idea..getting out the ladder, I mean. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says there are 500,000 ladder-related injuries in the United States every year. Not all of these injuries are from falls. Some are due to pinches, cuts, drops, over-extensions, even lightning strikes, I suppose. There is no end to the ways you can cause yourself harm with a ladder. It’s the most useful yet lethal device in the garage.

For that reason, ladders may come with more manufacturer warnings than any other product.  It’s doubtful that one in ten people actually read them.

Here are several, self-evident , common sense guidelines to using a ladder that people violate routinely.

1)  Inspect every ladder each time before use.

2)  Do not use the ladder for anything other than the obvious use for a ladder.

3)  Do not stand on the top step.

4)  Always face the ladder when ascending or descending.

5)  Wear rubber soled-shoes.

I’ve broken all of those rules over the years, many at the same time. I’m probably lucky to have escaped intact but I’ve also become a lot wiser with age. Number 4 is interesting. I used to routinely come down a ladder facing out. I must have rationalized that if I plummet at least I’ll be able to see where I’m going to splat. Number 5…I’ve also been up a ladder in warm weather wearing sandals. Sandals! What the hell kind of safe footwear is that? Even the Romans knew better than to go up a ladder in sandals. When it comes to ladders, many of us become a little muddled after we pass that third rung. Must be the thinner air.

a bad ladder

One of the dumbest things you can do with a ladder is attempt to walk it. What makes people think they can skitter along the side of a building, high above the ground, by rocking or jumping up and down on a ladder like it’s a pogo stick?  This is the result of watching too many Road Runner cartoons or emulating John Belushi’s peeping Tom turn in the movie  Animal House . If a manoeuvre tends to defy the laws of physics, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get away with it on a ladder.

I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going up there. If the rain is heavy enough, perhaps the resulting torrent will simply flush those leaves right over the edge of the eave. There…I’ve rationalized my way to better health and happiness through protecting life and limb

I’ve also made way for an afternoon nap.


The Big Tree

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 30, 2009 by davegerry

big tree 001

There’s a big tree on the front of our property which I have lovingly shaped every year. The tree came home as a seedling with one of the kids from Beavers more than fifteen years ago. I stuck it in a flower bed, forgot about it and now it is well over the roof line. This is what happens in our leafy, rain-soaked corner of the world. You don’t need a green thumb because it is almost impossible to kill anything.

Each summer, when the tree is starting to get a little unruly I tackle it with an extension ladder, electric hedge clippers, manual loppers and some pruning shears. It takes me an entire day to shape it back to a cone.

I risk life and limb in this process. I do stupid things. I teeter beyond the uppermost warning decal on the ladder. The entire top third of the tree has to be shaped with those extended loppers. I get blisters, pulled muscles and I’m sure I’ve compressed some vertebrae from craning my neck for so long. One year I lopped my way right into a hornet’s nest and had to wait for an exterminator to clear the path. The day after the tree shaping I am usually in agony but it’s a job I steadfastly refuse to neglect.

There is a measurable degree of pride that comes with shaping that tree. One morning a neighbour happened by and asked, ‘How do you get that tree to grow in that shape?’ I just looked at her. ‘It doesn’t grow in that shape. It has to be trimmed into that shape.’ People.

What is the psychology behind my obsession with this tree? What does that control represent? I’ve thought about it often and in the most metaphysical manner.

Let’s just say, once the tree starts to go so will I.