Mile High Club

April 2, 2006 at 4:22 PM | Posted in Journal | 6 Comments
I’ve made a lot of bad choices, bad decisions. I mean, I’ve made some good ones, some okay ones, some relatively decent ones, too. But man, when I make a bad one, it’s a doozy.

These are the thoughts I was having earlier today when I was up on a ladder twelve feet above the ground, precariously balanced on uneven, soft, muddy earth, trying to reach into a tree with a handsaw. One leg on the ladder, one leg on a branch, one arm around a sticky, sappy branch, the other arm fighting for it’s life against me, and it was armed with a saw.
On the other hand, I suppose, one of the good decisions I made is that I wasn’t up there with a chainsaw or a stick of dynamite, or a burlap sack full of rattlesnakes, so I had that going for me. Which is nice.

It all started about a week and a half ago, winter’s final spurt before it rolled over and fell asleep. The same snow storm that left the one patch of ice in the bistate area in our driveway for my wife to slip on and break her foot also dumped a few inches of wet, heavy snow around the area. I have a rental house, the house I used to live in, and it has a big evergreen of some sort in the front yard. What kind of evergreen? Well, how the fuck should I know? I’m a philosopher, not a horticulturist. Dammit.
Anyway, the snow laid heavy on the branches, and broke many of them off, down one side of the tree. My renter called to tell me. Yay. It took me a few days to drive by and look at it, and sure enough–I was fucked. I came back today, armed with a saw and some clippers. I cut up the branches on the ground to a manageable size, and threw them in the back yard behind the shed. I figured, give it a month, they will die out and dry out, and be easier to manage and handle. turn someof it into firewood, the rest into mulch.
There were two large branches up in the tree still; the rest had been on the ground. One was completely loose and just laying on other branches, the other hung from it’s broken branch-thingy-root or whatever (again, not a goddamn tree surgeon.)
I go over to my dad’s house, he lives in the area. He has a twelve foot ladder. I load it up onto my Pinto and head back over. (I actually have a pickup, but the imagery here is funny, don’t you think?)
So I set the ladder up, climb up, and knock the loose one down. No real casualties, except I got sap in my eye, and it may still be on my contact lense. Pine needles scatched my face as it slid to the ground.
Then I move the ladder to the other branch, hanging straight down. There is no good place to put it. Finally I get it basically level, in the loosest sense of the word, and it is more or less on at least three legs, although it sinks unevenly into the ground as I climb and it is at last stable on four legs. And cocked slightly away from the tree. The tree, if you recall, is actually my target, and the direction I would like to go, if only to get this over with.
I imagined myself flat on my back, with a branch through my abdomen, trying to scream for help, and no one around. My rentor wasn’t home, and the closest neighbors were old ladies who couldnt hear shit, unless it was kids having fun or someone playing a stereo, so they could call the cops and complain.
"9-11, what is your emergency?"
"Someone in the neighborhood is having fun; make them stop."
"That’s not illegal."
"I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up."
"Your neighbors would help you if you hadn’t pissed them all off."
"One of my neighbors is selling crack."
"Buy some and get back to us."
"There’s somebody laying in the neighbor’s yard. I think they’re dead. They have a spear in their chest."
"That’s your cataract."

So I’m stepping from the ladder to the tree, thinking I’m Danny Glover ("I’m getting too old for this shit."), and wondering why I just didn’t call someone. Wasn’t this covered by my homeowner’s policy?
. . .. . Have I paid my homeowner’s policy on this lately? That was a good question. Along with, did I have life insurance?
Suddenly I was in the tree, at a height completely above the ladder, trying to climb with one hand, holding a saw,. and my pants are falling down. And should I be depending on the branches that didn’t break in the storm to support my weight?
I was reaching over my head to saw the branch, at the break, and I was making progress. I could tell, because the branch twisted downward and toward me, trapping the saw. I let go of the saw, shifted, looked for better footing, and tried to twisted the branch to get the saw free. The branch was about 5 inches in diameter and reached all the way to the ground. Not exactly weightless. The arm I had around the tree I used to hug the tree, and used that hand to get a grip on it. I twisted it, and it broke free.
First the saw fell, and scraped into my arm. Luckily it was a new blade, not the old rusty one. No chance of tetanus. This one was clean and sharp and freshly oiled. Then it sailed effortlessly to the ground.
Meanwhile, the branch broke free, it took it a split second to slip completely out of my hand, it probably weighted two hundred pounds. It is free, it hits the ground, and leans–
towards the ladder.
"Shit!" I put my foot out automatically, and catch the ladder with my toes. That is not going to hold.
Luckily, the branch grazed the ladder, pushed it slightly, then slid past it and crashed to the ground, and the ladder rocked gently back towards me. Now I could get down.
I really, really, really needed to pee.



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  1. I always miss the really good shows! Dammit!
    glad you\’re okay
    you are okay, right?
    stitches needed?
    damn…  that would have been quite the show, too. lol, especially the pants falling down  : )

  2. The comment you left really made me laugh out loud – honestly you are hilarious!! I am still having hassles with getting my girls over. So have been a bit quiet on the blogs of late. I have been given a letter of referral to go to our local Congressman for help. Will give it a shot! I was in desperate need of a shot of humor so, thanks for stopping by and being wonderful, clever and hilarious…you! Catrch you later. x Eileen

  3. You are hilarious! I was already cracking up from reading your philosophical take on my lost home!! LOL (which by the way cured me and saved a possible $100 therapists fee…owe you!!)  and then this entry. My gosh!! YOu need to write a book honestly you have a knack for imagery and you make me laugh which I\’m sorry cause I do feel for ya up there hanging on by the branch but the way you describe it – I was right there with you – well…I was on the ground though and man!! I love coming here to read. Glad you made it through this unscathed and able to return from great heights with the aide of the ladder! -patti 🙂

  4. oh and the falling down pants thing…happened to me the other day …though not at great heights I was in the super super lot of the shopping center with my arms loaded with bags and suddenly my ankles are stuck together and my legs are catching a breeze! Why do pants fall down at the most inoppertune moments and then when you stop on the highway, careen through the burger king line and past the cinnabon cart and sprint to the bathroom they seem glued in place? -p.  

  5. ohmigosh, why didn\’t i see this ? Why?!
    And really, "tsk tsk"? is that a \’busted" sort of thing or something else? I\’m closing vampire sandwiches soon… probably anyways 😛 Too fond of my spaces.

  6. Just stoppin by from Indigo\’s place and thought I\’d say hi… HI!

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