I can usually overcome being the shortest person in the house. We have ladders and step-stools and chairs, the neighbors brick wall -- all kinds of things I can use to gain some height. A few years ago I bought Jeff the best ladder on the planet and I stashed it in the garage recently knowing I would need it to get the rest of the lights down.
The Captain (and possibly others) tends to look with disdain on my height achievement methods. I have yet to explain to him that when I'm struck with the need to tackle a project, I HAVE to do it. It's like having leftover dessert in the house. You can't go through the kitchen without finding yourself with a fork in your hand and half the pie gone when all you meant to do was go to the bathroom.
Which is why I start most of my home improvement projects when he's away. And every Sunday morning, he's away playing basketball.
When I went out to get the newspaper, it seemed like a warm front had moved in as opposed to the ice apocalypse the weather folks had predicted. So as soon as I'd gotten caught up on world events, I put on my sneakers, got my ear muffs and gloves and headed for the ladder. Everything was fine until I actually got up there.
I don't know if it was icy or mossy but there were parts of our roof that are definitely slippery. But I'm still fairly nimble. That and I live in fear of the day the Captain comes home to find me splayed out in the bushes like a rag doll.
Our house is a ranch. So even if I did fall down and the bushes didn't soften the blow, I figured I wouldn't die. And probably someone would find me before too long.
The trees in front of my house are scrawny, ugly fir trees I'd like to see gone. Jeff and Ali disagree. And it was the two of them who'd draped Christmas lights all over them. One of the geniuses had decided it wasn't enough to drape them artfully on the low branches; he/she/they decided the top branches needed to have the cords triple wrapped around forks and nodes that were way out of my reach.
I remedied this by using the cords to pull the branches toward me until I could grab the suckers. I slipped a bit, slid a bit and may or may not have done lasting damage to a few of the less hardy branches. I tried using a fallen branch to snag an out-of-reach cord, as well. I got a mouthful of fir tree with that attempt. And I didn't come close to dislodging the cord.
I considered getting the clippers to cut the branches I couldn't reach, but that would have involved getting down and back up, and while I wasn't giving up, I knew that once my feet hit the ground, common sense might return and keep me from climbing back up.
And yes, my brain kept replaying the warnings from NBC's Chris Clackum and Angie Hicks in a TV consumer news segment about decorating dangers that I'd helped produce right before the holidays. But I was being very, very careful. And I'm nimble like a mountain goat.
At one point, I slithered like the Grinch to get under some branches and around others to get to the trunk. I used it to get upright and was on my tip-toes, stretched across the back of the tree just millimeters away from the cord I need to pull around. That's when the roof slime almost got me.
I'm happy to report that my strategy of using the tree to brace or stop my fall worked like a charm. I maybe hadn't counted on the amount of sap and tree debris that would come with Mother Nature's safety net, but hey: I've long been accused of being a tree hugger. Now I can actually say I am.
As un-Disney Princess that I am, I will admit that was at this moment that I had an image of the Captain pulling in the drive, slamming open his car door and belting out a "Goddammit, Cheryl!" before scrambling up to pull me back to solid ground.
No such luck. So I got my own damn self untangled from the tree and off the roof.
By the time I'd cried "Uncle," I had fir tree twigs and greenery in my hair, my underpants and possibly in my left eyeball. My right shoulder feels like it might have separated from wherever it's supposed to lodge and my thighs are still trembling from the trips up and down that damn ladder.
My mission to unlight the night had begun a few weeks ago when I got about 12 feet of the total 540 feet of lights down. I gave up this morning with four of the 3-feet-long strings still dangling from the trees.
Oh, the Captain, my Captain wasn't thrilled when he got home but he helped me anyway. Now I have to wind the lights back on their wheels and hide them away for a few months. Or forever.
One more note: I don't know how long I was on the roof scrambling about, but I think I deserve more love than my FitBit gave me.
Just for the adrenaline rush, I think I deserved more than the 2588 steps gave me as I was risking my life so the neighbors don't have to see holiday lights until spring.
Maybe I should just be thankful I didn't come away with a surgical scar to compare with Grandpa's...