New Thing #328: Going Up On A Ladder

Window_ShutterI'm not a climber. I've seen climbers - children and adults.

You turn around and next thing you know they're high atop the nearest structure.

That's not me.

First of all, I was never very good at finding the foothold - even climbing fences as a kid.

But secondly - and most importantly - I am afraid of heights.

It's not a crippling fear. I'll go up on the roof if it's enticing enough…I just won't go near the edge. (I had a friend who lived in midtown Manhattan for a number of years, and we went to the roof of his apartment building once. I couldn't believe how unsafe it was to be up there - the ledge wasn't all that high. But I could have lived up there, I loved the view so much.)

So it's not the type of fear that will prevent me from experiencing something worth seeing, for example...but it is the type of fear that will keep me from doing something like bungee jumping or skydiving.

Or from climbing a ladder, for the most part.

I say "for the most part" because there are going to be times, I've come to realize, when in my current state of husband and father I'm going to have to climb the ladder.

Especially when, as you see in that picture above, strong winds this summer ripped our shutters off the exterior of our house. (Imagine my surprise when I realized after seven or eight years of living here that our shutters were decorative and not practical. Thank goodness for these storms, saving me from having to embarrass myself by trying to close the decorative shutters someday.)

I made a cursory attempt to fix the shutter a few weeks ago, reaching up to the nail with the shutter and falling a bunch of feet short. It was then I knew I was going to have to take the trip up the ladder. Also, not pictured, a more recent storm knocked a screen off of one of our bedroom windows.

So I took out the ladder. (An ordeal, because it was tucked away in the back of the garage because, you know, I don't ever use it. I bought it one weekend - I think it might have been a Thanksgiving weekend, actually, a few years ago - when there was some tree trimming that needed to happen because some branches were getting too close to the house. I chickened out of the climbing of the ladder when my brother and my dad, both visiting and helping me with the yard work, were much more eager to climb it.)

I steadied it against the ground, then against the wall, and then re-steadied it. My daughter came out and said, "Are you scared to climb it?" And this is an important part of fatherhood - it makes me braver. "No," I said. "I'm just making sure it's really safe." Me_On_LadderAnd then, with my daughter watching I marched right up that ladder and placed the shutter back on the nail. (And then I took a quick peek to make sure any neighbors weren't watching and I snapped a "ladder selfie" to prove I had done it. Kind of wish I had either smiled or not. Not crazy about the in between look there.)

You can see the shutter on the far left on the top picture is also pulling away from the wall. I climbed over there and played with it for a few minutes, but I couldn't do anything about it right now. Then I went around to the front of the house and used the ladder to fix the screen on the bedroom. Then I went to the corner of the house where some overgrowth had gotten tangled up in the gutter near the chimney. I used a step stool on one side of the house and the tall ladder on the other side. I was able to clear a little bit out but the fun and games were over when I knocked a brick off the chimney (yes, our chimney is falling apart, I discovered) and it hit me in the head.

That was the end of our ladder fun for the day.

The screen will probably blow off in the next storm. The shutters will definitely both come down with the next gust of wind.

But that doesn't really matter. My daughter saw me climb a ladder like a man. When other kids talk about the dad things their dads do, like climbing ladders to fix shutters, she can share a story too.

Maybe I'll even get adventurous and use the ladder to hang this year's Christmas lights even higher!

But then I think that ladder's getting returned to the back of the garage for another few years.