Blogging Is As Easy As Falling Off A Ladder

Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22587 – 900

Here’s the haps:

First, F.Y.I. there are a couple of updates about my daughter-in-law’s status from my son over at Brother’s Campfire. There is still a long row to hoe but the last couple of posts were encouraging.

Yesterday I mentioned having an idea while standing on a ladder at work and writing it down. I didn’t exactly mean it that way but it came down to that, more or less. One of the comments (I love comments, by the way, and try to respond to every one in as timely a manner as I can and feel bad if someone has to wait a day or two for a response. Many times my readers are far wittier and wiser than I am and I look forward to reading your responses, whatever they may be, to my stuff.) I received was from my friend and media assistant, Amber, who said, “That is an amazing idea. Just don’t fall off the ladder. Although that would make a story as well.”

I have a story to tell.

Thankfully it didn’t happen yesterday or even yesteryear. It had to be at least fifteen years ago, if not more like twenty. We were living in the house prior to this one and we’ve lived here twelve years and at the time this happened we had no idea we were going to move. It was this sense of permanence that caused me to have to change the screens every year. It was so long ago that I don’t even remember whether I was putting the screens up or taking them down.

There are quite a number of common-sense safety rules you should always follow when using a step ladder. Now that I’m over sixty I follow them to a “T.” back in my forties I wasn’t quite as wise and besides, changing screens and storm windows is a tedious job. One rule is that you never step past the second from top rung and you never, ever, under any circumstances at all, ever stand on the top step. You should always have three points of contact, as well, while climbing, two feet and a hand or two hands and a foot.

TNT was a teenager at the time and the only one home. She glanced out the window and saw that I was out there and thought no more about it. Meantime I went around the corner and set the ladder up. It was a very slightly rickety six-foot step ladder. The screens were fastened with a simple wingnut that turned to hold the wooden frame in place. Undo the wingnuts, pop the frame out, pop the new frame in, redo the wingnuts. Next.

A simple enough, straightforward procedure anyone ought to be able to do. You could probably train a monkey to do it (If you had a monkey and a place to keep it and the time and energy to train it and the money for Purina Monkey Chow). You could do it, even if, say, you were aggravated or crabby or hangry or frustrated or whatever. Except, if you hurry these sorts of jobs you might tend to take shortcuts.

For example, if the corner window was such a booger bear to work on because of the ground and you had to move the ladder at least twice. Unless you could reach the farther part without doing that. Well, I was certain I could reach it. I mean, who wants to take the time to climb back down and move the ladder when it’s just…right…there… I reached from the safety of the second rung and could just barely touch it. If I just climbed a step higher…up on top…The top step should be okay for just a second or two…stretch… I only had to nudge the little nut over a bit. I could do this. Just stretch a bit more…lean my hand on the wall and raise my one foot slightly to stretch out just a bit more…

Of course, you have correctly guessed what happened next. The ladder moved one way and I briefly moved the other way until I moved downwards. Fast. The ladder landed under me and my side hit the ladder and I bounced to the ground. I had heard of people getting the wind knocked out of them but had never experienced it. Until that moment. I could not get any air into my lungs at all. I couldn’t yell or cry or scream or anything. That was the scariest part, I think. Just a little bit of air, please… I was beginning to feel panicked when a little tiny breath came in. Not enough to call for Daughter but she was astute enough to wonder where I was and came out and yelled for me and when I didn’t yell back she came looking and found me on the ground gasping for air. My side, the side that I hit against the ladder as I was going down, really, really hurt. She helped me get up and steady and into the house.

Badly bruised with a couple of cracked ribs I wondered if maybe I shouldn’t have thought about it again and just moved the stupid ladder.


  1. Whether it was screens, windows, awnings, painting or putting up the Christmas lights or later taking them down, I never had a problem with the ladder. Alarms must go off in the wasp nests and…you know the rest.

  2. Ladder climbing is worthy of mindfulness and respect. I finally replaced an old rickety ladder with one of those new-fangled articulated aluminum ladders. Gutter cleaning is now much safer.

  3. Oh, Herb, love your story. I googled wingnut and the word is more common than I thought. What a name for such a common object. Sorry to hear about the bruise and your rib injury, but otherwise it is fun. I hear stories like this several times in the last ten years since people tend to clean up their own gutter or even try a little bit of roofing themselves.

  4. You’re still wondering if you should have moved the ladder?! I’m glad you weren’t more gravely injured. This is exactly the kind of scary story that runs through my head every time I climb a ladder. I’m not great with heights in general, but ladder climbing makes me literally tremble in fear, which I realize makes me more likely to fall, and that makes the tremble worse. I avoid ladders when I can.

  5. Yes it definitely makes a story when you fall off the ladder. I’m sorry to hear that. It sounds not fun. (Every time it happens it hurts)

  6. I am so sorry to hear that you fell off a ladder and am glad you were not hurt bad. the thing is the stupidity factor in guys is so strong that I truly don’t know any man who has not fallen off a ladder or off a roof. They are not dangerous we are just …
    Holly Jolly Laughter

  7. I severely bruised my ribs years ago when I decided not to take the time to get the ladder out and stepped on a patio chair not designed to balance me when making emergency repairs on the deck after a windstorm. Ladder work is not friendly with shortcuts.

  8. I have stood on the top step and live to tell the tale. I was under 35 then. I would never try it as one over 60 now. That is a really sobering time after a fall when you wonder if getting back up is actually possible.

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