The problems of being a shortish female

I’ve lived in a bunch of different situations throughout my life, but I’ve always live with men. Since men tend to be taller, stronger, and braver than me, I’ve never had to clean out rain gutters. Oh, I may have mucked out the low ones on the workshop once or twice, but never the ones on the house. Being a widow is a great way to learn fascinating new skills.

One section of our roof is flat, and it’s got a leak in it. I figured cleaning the gutter would help it drain, and if I could get up there, I might even be able to patch it. Duck tape or something.

We’ve got three ladders: an old wooden stepladder we found in the trash which isn’t much good for anything, a two-part painter’s ladder we also found in the trash, and a nice aluminum stepladder I bought because I hated to see my menfolk risking their necks on the first two. The aluminum one is tall enough for me to reach the workshop gutters easily, but to get to the house ones I have to reach up over my head. I only got one side of the workshop and about a fifth of the house done this morning, allowing time to snowshovel into buckets the nasty brew of fermenting leaves, maple seedlings, and just plain dirt that came down. After that, I seriously needed a shower.

I would have liked to climb up onto the roof, but that would have required the much taller painter’s ladder–that is, if I’d been able to figure out how to assemble it. That’s another thing about men, they have this instinctive knowledge about how to put together ladders. I couldn’t figure it out, and I’m just lucky I didn’t take out a window or my head trying. I tried using one section of the painter’s ladder, but to get up to the roof it had to be placed at a pretty steep pitch. I was chicken to climb all the way up there without at least having somebody to hold the bottom for me.

Sam is only marginally taller and stronger than me, and I don’t know that he’s any braver. I suppose between the two of us, somebody can get up there once it’s dried out and jury rig something.

What this situation really calls for is Danny. That one was always looking for excuses to climb up high, so when he lived here was the go-to guy for gutter cleaning. He’d get right up there and shovel gutter goo down from the top, so he didn’t end up with it all over him like I did. And once when we had a hornet’s nest in the attic vent, for a few bucks he cheerfully went up there dressed up thick is the Michelin man and sprayed it.

I suppose I should hire somebody for this stuff. Who’d want their epitaph to say, “She was too cheap to hire a roofer”?

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