My husband is always supportive of my artistic endeavors. When I expressed interest in renewing my painting efforts, for example, he promptly drove to the local supply store and bought paint for my hobby. Several gallons of paint, in fact. Exterior latex. And he purchased a 20-foot extension ladder so I would be able to navigate the expansive “canvas” he supplied: the outer walls of our new home.
Not exactly what I had in mind, but it’s the thought that counts, right? At least, that’s what my husband says.
So I’ve been spending a lot of time lately hugging the rungs of my new ladder as I attempt to coerce the paint from my brush to land on the house siding and not on my arms. Rows of bruises at twelve inch intervals all the way up my body testify to the close relationship this ladder and I have formed. But even now, a week into the paint job (I’m a slow painter), I’m learning new things about my metallic compatriot.
Yesterday I extended the ladder fully for the first time since we’ve owned it so I could paint the eaves at the peak of the roof line. I usually don’t have a problem with heights, but the higher I climbed, the more the ladder shimmied and swayed, and the more I began to ponder the likelihood of falling. I could easily imagine my head implanted in the sand like those cartoon caricatures of ostriches.
I persevered to the top and began painting the eaves, when I was joined by a curious bee. I suppose it didn’t help any that my shirt was bright red, and my paintbrush handle a bright yellow. Whatever the attraction, it wasn’t mutual, but there wasn’t a whole lot I could do while clinging to a thin rung 20 feet in the air. Fortunately I have no great fear of bees, so I simply cussed at it and made references to the nature of its mother’s footwear until it finally retreated, buzzing indignantly.
Now spiders are another story. And when the largest daddy longlegs I’ve seen in my life materialized on the wall six inches from my face, I nearly jumped off the ladder. I know daddy longlegs are harmless, but that doesn’t mean I want them crawling around me with their creepy, gangly legs.
The spider fell right onto my pants leg.
You’d be amazed at the agile maneuvers I performed on my high rise perch as I combated that spider, eventually knocking him to the ground. He made a run directly for the wall. Probably climbing right back up here to get me, I figured.
So I started down the shaky ladder. Only then did I notice the bright red “DANGER” label slapped inside the ladder. Yarmouth Gray paint covered most of the message. All I could make out was “DO NOT XXXXX ON OR ABXXXXX,” followed by a big black arrow pointing down to the hard, hard ground. No doubt a graphic depiction of where you would end up should you foolishly XXXXX on or abXXXXX. Below this label, another one began “Before climbing,…” with several paragraphs of fine print whose contents I suddenly felt compelled to read. But I didn’t want to remain swaying 20 feet up with a revengeful spider on the way while I tried to decipher the microscopic print. Besides, it was a little late for any “before climbing” instructions, and I would just have to take my chances about XXXXXing on or abXXXXX.
After I safely reached terra firma, I took a closer look at this ladder to see what else I had overlooked. A yellow “CAUTION” sticker gave clues on the proper positioning of the ladder. “For proper angle distance from ladder base of support wall must be ¼ the working length of ladder.” What do they mean the “working” length of the ladder? Is there part of the ladder that doesn’t work?!?
This last label I found listed other sundry ladder dangers and ended with “read additional instructions on ladder.” Apparently this was the label I should have read first. I found no mention anywhere of what to do should you encounter bees or spiders at high elevations.
I guess I need a taller ladder. This one apparently ran out of room for warning stickers.
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The house did eventually get painted. The next time we faced a house painting project, we contracted it out. I had changed hobbies by then.