Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Bad Idea

I fell off the ladder today.

I fell off the ladder because I don’t have a car.

I don’t have a car today because it is in the shop.

Since I don’t have a car today and the wind chill outside is in the single digits, I am house-bound.

When I am house-bound bad ideas come hatching out of me like the aliens in the movies of the same name.

Of course, I was only house-bound for an hour or so. This morning I took a four mile walk in the frigid wind. It was lovely. My new down coat was up to the task and I saw a flock of bluebirds.

As soon as I got back and finished my lunch, the bored, guilty feeling came over me. I had to find something to do.

Of course, it’s all my mother’s fault. When we were kids we could not be in the house during the daytime reading or watching TV. She insisted we be out in the fresh air, despite the fact that we lived in Jersey City in the 1950’s, a time when chemical production was in full swing and the air actually tasted worse than it smelled.

This rule even applied when she took us for afternoon visits to our grandmother’s house which was up the block from a gentian violet factory and where the fresh air literally turned our clothing blue. My mother said this was okay because gentian violet was a “medicine.”

As I sat in the empty, quiet kitchen trying to think of something to do that would take me out of the house, I thought first of raking the leaves. Since I had raked most of them and the survivors were being whipped about in a 20 mile per hour wind, this was a weak option. I briefly considered chasing them down with the pool skimmer, but decided this was desperate even by my standards.

I recalled an observation Kathie had made a week or so ago about our outside Christmas decorations. We have a pine tree at the corner of our house that our son planted as sprig when he was a sprig some thirty years ago. Each year I would string it with lights and, along with a wreath here and there, that was our Christmas display.

I gave that up when the tree developed Rockefeller Center Syndrome, perhaps picturing itself being aahed at by Al Roker and sung to by Josh Grobin, and suddenly shot up at an alarming rate. Or maybe, I just got older.

Kathie said that she thought that, since the tree was located facing our driveway and our lane, it was a shame that people approaching the house would not see any festive seasonal décor. This was not presented as a criticism or a challenge, and I did not take it as such at the time. It was just an observation.

Still, as I sat at the kitchen table, it formed the seed of the evil alien that would soon burst out of me as a fully developed bad idea.

“Yes,” I thought, “It is a shame that people approaching our house will think that the Andersens don’t know how to keep Christmas.” The fact that this sounded like something Clark Griswold would say, did not deter me.

By Jove, I would string lights on that tree! Since the tree had grown, I thought surely it would hold my 20 foot ladder extended to its limit. This still would not enable me to get lights to the top of the tree. However, by duck taping two brooms together and balancing the lights on the end, I would create a device that would enable me to place them at the top of the tree from the top of the 20 foot ladder. This was the bad idea.

I extended the ladder and leaned it against the tree. Carrying my placement device with the end of the light string cleverly gripped by the bristles of the broom, I ascended the ladder. When I got to the top and full extended myself to place the beginning of the string, I felt the ladder slowly sliding to my left.

I knew something bad was about to happen. The soft pine branches were gradually sagging away from the ladder carrying it away and downward in the direction of the living room window.

On the other side of that window is my comfy chair where I have spent many pleasant evenings reading in front of the fire. I wondered if my glass-shredded corpse carrying the ducked taped brooms landed in the chair, whether anyone would solve the mystery of how I perished.

Just then, the ladder snagged long enough for me to leap off with just a sore knee to show for my misadventure.

From where I am sitting in my comfy chair I can see the cursed evergreen. If I can cut it with my chain saw, I just might to able to drop it between the two power lines that come into the house on either side of the tree.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about climbing up on the roof to clear out leaves from the gutters. This is giving me second thoughts. Extension ladders can be unreliable. Or maybe it's trees that are unreliable.