September 09, 2019

Peaking After 60

Peaking After 60
By John R. Greenwood

One of my favorite quotes is, "Life Begins Outside Your Comfort Zone." Living outside your comfort zone can be invigorating, but it can also cause you bodily harm when it comes to painting the peak of your house from the far reaches of an extension ladder. Surprisingly, I'm not as brave as I used to be. Well, to be honest, I was never all that brave—especially when it came to working high above the earth. Yes, I've worked from scaffolding and extension ladders before, but I'm not as nimble as I used to be. Let's just say I could never be mistaken for, "Jack, be nimble, Jack, be quick." One thing I have been known for is; being careful. My job as a driver supervisor for thirty years was teaching and preaching safe driving and working practices. That penchant for safety exposed itself during my house painting project when I moved from the back of my one-story ranch to the peak on the gable end of the house. The peak of a one-story house is two stories above the ground and a substantial fall for a man with 60-year-old parts. I was using a borrowed 20' extension ladder which at full extension delivered me and my paintbrush to their lofty destination. My dilemma was the weight rating of this particular ladder. It was a hair shy of the reading on our bathroom scale. It's a challenge to paint while holding a paintbrush in one hand, white-knuckling the rungs of an aluminum ladder with the other, and praying to the DIY Gods all at the same time. My heart said, man-up, my head said shut up and listen. Listen to the voice on your shoulder, yelling at you to commandeer a sturdier ladder. I'd spent years telling hundreds of drivers in my Safe Driving Courses to listen to that little voice on their shoulder. When that little shoulder-voice whispers to you to get out of the truck and take a second look before you back up—you listen to it! In the case of the sketchy extension ladder, that little voice was screaming at me to do something different. A two-minute call to Trax Equipment Rental on Circular St. Saratoga and $25 provided peace of mind and a taller, beefier ladder. My confidence and safety were in much better hands.

I have decades of DIY stumbles and scars to prove my skills as a homeowner are less than professional. Still, my desire to DIY is always full throttle. Balancing ability, want, and safety has plagued man for centuries. Not unlike our willingness to ask for directions is our unwillingness to ask for help or look for time-consuming alternatives when faced with a seemingly simple task. The words, "I can build it cheaper," sends chills up Mrs. G's spine. She's spent 45 years paying for my adventures at "cheaper." It's a story we're all familiar with. In my defense, when I had the time and energy, I didn't always have the funds. Now that I'm a tad more fluid, my energy level usually finds itself at half charge. 

In the end, my peak-painting adventure was successful and even rewarding. Now I'm ready to move around to the front of the house where step ladders rule and fear is limited to a stray wasp attack. 

House-painting may seem boring to you, but for this creaky grandfather, its become my Mt. Marcy. Maybe, I'll tackle that next summer? It would be a piece of cake after this.