Thursday 08 Dec 2016

In the Gutter
Jennifer Flaten

Perched on top of rickety aluminum ladder, I took a deep breath before I plunged my gloved hand into the swampy water.

I fished around and grabbed a hand full of rotting leaves and sticks. After tossing the glob to the ground, I look around and see that I have managed to clear an arms length (in both directions) of the gutter.

Yah -- I only have 999 more arm lengths to go. I sigh and begin my descent.

Ah, gutter cleaning one of the joys of home ownership that isn't mentioned in the brochure. Before you sign on the dotted line, they should tell you a house means you will spend a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon fishing slimy leaves and other gunk out of the gutters.

I've hardly started and already I feel like a grubby urchin straight out of a Charles Dickens novel.

Sure, we have some sort of contraption to do this but I have neither the attention span nor mechanical inclination to master it.

Besides, I can attest to the fact that nothing beats the rush of adrenaline you get as a gust of wind rocks your already wobbly ladder.

When I started, the day was perfectly clear and calm, the minute my foot landed on the second to top rail of the ladder the skies clouded over and the wind kicked up.

At one point, a huge gust of wind blasted me from side to side. I clutched at the thin piece of aluminum and imagined how I would get the attention of my children, if I suddenly found myself swinging from the gutter.

The kids were snug in the house involved in who knows what sort of mischief, while I probed the gutters and potentially dangled like an errant Halloween decoration. The possibility I could alert them to the fact I needed assistance was slim.

Thankfully, the ladder held and I continued my search and destroy mission.

After about five minutes, I realized that ordinary garden gloves simply were not up to a task this monumental.

Not only were my hands cold and wet but the gloves soaked up the water and were expanding like sponges, the fingers were now the size of sausages.

It was becoming difficult to hold on to the ladder and my hands made odd squishy noises as I headed backed down.

After I reached solid ground, I hustled into the house and searched the various boxes on our dining room table.

Finally, I found what I was looking for a box containing latex gloves. With a shout of triumph I snagged a pair of blue latex gloves from the bottom of a box-for the record; I had a choice between purple and blue gloves.

Why do I have latex gloves on the dining room table? I have children-really that is the only explanation that you need. Fine, if you must have details-the grandparents presented the kid with their own set of doctor grade gloves a few weeks ago.

Yes, my parents actually asked the doctor "can I have a couple of those" during their last exam.

Thus gauntleted I return to my ladder. Once again, I attempted to find a piece of level ground-a mission nearly impossible in the area surrounding the house.

I settled for planting two and half out of the four feet solidly in the terra firma. That last foot bounced wildly as I step on each tread of the ladder.

About the 50th time I ascended the ladder, I wondered why no one ever invented gutters with little rolling library ladders attached to them.

Perhaps, I was becoming giddy from exhaustion after scaling the ladder a thousand times, but I thought this was a simply brilliant idea and made a note to patent it after I finished the gutters.

Of course, with the enormous backlog in the patent office I will be lucky to receive my patent by the time I am 80 years old. At that point, the invention would be useless to me as my gutter cleaning days would be long over.

At least I didn't encounter any spiders. A few weeks ago when my husband was attending to the gutters he ended up eye to eyes with a giant, to have him tell it the spider was the size of a dinner plate, arachnid.

My husband sent the spider on a wild ride with a quick shot of the leaf blower.

I admit to being absolutely terrified that I would unwittingly become Miss Moffat to a spider seeking revenge. Luckily, I spotted nary a spider on my little adventure in the gutters.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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