Sunday, November 01, 2009 :::
My house tried to kill me today.
I'm not a handyman. Nor am I a good homeowner. I don't know what I'm doing, I have no idea how to work tools or fix faucets, and I'm awkward and clumsy to boot. Somehow I manage to keep the place together and just short of ramshackle, but it's a constant battle. Especially when it comes to the Fall yardwork.
Today was gutter cleaning day.
I've neglected this task for the last couple years, and the normally-charming-looking vines on the back of my house had taken over. I knew it would be ugly up there, but I could no longer push off the chore. I grabbed some thick rubber gloves, a pair of dull scissors for trimming away the unwanted foilage, and an ancient aluminum extension ladder that I inherited from my dad years ago.
The ladder is ginormous, and it has an old rope attached to one end that loops around it. I've never been able to ascertain the function of the rope but I've always figured that it must be there for a purpose so I've never dared to remove it. Trying to maneuver the unwieldly monster ladder while simultaneously trying to avoid getting caught up in the mystery rope is a considerably arduous task. I probably look like an Abbott and Costello movie most of the time.
As I positioned the metal bohemoth against the back of my one-and-a-half-story home, the height suddenly looked incredibly imposing. The ladder was perilously perched twenty feet above the ground against a sagging gutter and directly next to a power line. I made sure I had my cell phone in my pocket (just in case I survived whatever disaster was in store for me), I took a deep breath, and I began my ascent.
Climbing the ladder with a garbage bag in one hand and a pair of rusty scissors in the other didn't improve my confidence. The rubber gloves on each hand were most effective at masking the small amount dexterity I might have had left. I started to imagine a morbid death scenario like the ones that play out in those Final Destination movies. I wasn't sure if my death would be by falling, impaling, electrocution, or - knowing those movies - some ghastly combination of the three.
So I took my time and worked deliberately, my hands soaked in putrid mold-water, pulling out years worth of dead vines, rotting leaves, and a substance that was technically not poop but looked and smelled like it was at least related in some way. Halfway through the task, the rotting substance was smeared all over my face, soaked into my clothes, and splattered all over the ground below. The garbage bag filled up quickly and became almost too heavy to bear. The over-extended extension ladder wobbled beneath my feet. The gutter creaked underneath the weight of it all. The sun disappeared behind a cloud.
I heard my neighbor's door open and I looked over just in time to see a black cat scurry out, stop dead in its tracks, and stare directly at me. I thought, "That's funny, I never knew they had a black cat." But it must have sensed the impending doom because it quickly turned around and scurried back inside before the door ever had a chance to close. I took it as a sign and carefully started to climb back down the ladder, one step at a time.
It was at the second to last step when my right foot slipped on a glop of wayward non-poop, my left foot got caught in the mystery rope, and I started to fall backwards toward the ground. I was close enough to the bottom to know I wouldn't get seriously hurt, so my main concern became to avoid landing directly on the garbage bag of barfy compost. I tried to toss the bag to the side but it was too heavy, and the attempt threw off the balance of the ladder, sending it sliding down the gutter toward the power lines. I landed with a thud on my back, with my left leg still caught up in the ladder. The bag of mold and rot landed with a splat, speckling my face with a million droplets of oily sludge.
Miraculously, the sliding ladder was stopped in its sliding tracks by a vine before it could act as a conduit for my electrocution. But the jarring motion had knocked loose the scissors that I had mistakenly left on the top rung, and so they came flipping down the ladder, bouncing and sliding from rung to rung.
I instinctively covered my face and head with my arms until the clang of the falling scissors stopped, but I felt nothing pierce my gut or impale my neck so I slowly lowered my arms and opened my eyes, one at a time. I looked down at my chest, torso, and legs, but the scissors must have landed somewhere else. I turned to my left to see if that evil cat had returned to gloat, and this is what I saw, not two feet from my head:
I guess my cell phone came in handy after all, because I was able to snatch this picture of my very own Final Destination style near death experience. The gutters were far from clean, but let me tell you: gutter cleaning day was o.v.e.r.
Having survived that ordeal, I can declare officially that I will never again attempt to clean a gutter. It's just one more homeowner task of which I am simply incapable. And it confirms what I already knew: it's time to sell this death trap and move on.
So... anybody looking to buy a nice and affordable three bedroom house in South Minneapolis? Jukebox not included.
::: posted by dan at 3:32 PM :: [ link ] :: (6) comments
6 previous comments:
The iRobot people of Roomba and Scooba fame also make a gutter cleaning robot: http://store.irobot.com/category/index.jsp?categoryId=3334470&cp=2804605&ab=CMS_IRBT_Storefront_090809_guttercleaning
By Nick Manson, at 10:52 AM
You should note the advertisement for Gutter Helmet
By , at 5:06 PM
Couple of things: A). Glad you're okay B). You can hire people to clean your gutters C). I'm sorry - but I have to admit that I laughed so hard I cried. Thanks, I needed that.
By K, at 10:24 PM
I can't help but wonder whether the bees had anything to do with this
By , at 1:09 PM
I laughed so hard the assholes in the cubes around me were popping up...
By , at 8:27 AM
I was waiting for bees to pop into the story too.... or squirrels.
Gee Dan, how is it that your can't clean a gutter and I was able to melt and pour 800 pounds of molten bronze today? You a pussy ;-) Love ya anyway. - Cole
By me, at 8:20 PM
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