Friday, October 29, 2010

one small step for man

The winter of 1992, Charlie and I went to New York City.

We toured the sights and took the ferry over to Ellis Island. We walked around and then, went in to the Statue of Liberty. Our plan was to climb the stairs all the way to the torch and seeing as it was a rather foggy day and the crowds were light, we thought this would be an easy enough task.

And it was.

Until we started going up the staircase and the wide steps became narrower and narrower. Until they were so narrow that the thin steps going UP in to the torch were intertwined with the thin steps that were coming DOWN from the torch and if you looked over the iron banister that came up to the middle of your thigh, you'd see that the only thing between you and a several hundred foot drop was a thin metal pipe.

Charlie had been in front of me and we were keeping a very good pace up the stairs. Until, my husband made the mistake of looking over the edge. And that's when he came to a sudden and complete stop and I actually ran in to his backside. Very seriously he said, "JEN. Turn around. Go down." I thought he was joking. "Yeah right!" I laughed. "Keep going! We're almost there!!"

He didn't budge. He was totally frozen. "JEN." He said again. "TURN AROUND AND GO DOWN." Then he added, "I AM NOT KIDDING TURN AROUND AND GO DOWN RIGHT NOW BEFORE I THROW UP."

And that's when I realized that the man who would become my husband has a fear of heights. So, I turned around and went back down the stairs and we never discussed it again. Except when we're at dinner parties and the conversation starts to lag. That's when I'll pull out, "Did we ever tell you about the time we climbed the Statue of Liberty?" and Charlie will always shoot me a glance that says, "OH WOULD YOU BE QUIET, WOMAN!"

So. We bought a new house. Right?

And in that house there is this entry way that is at least 15 feet tall and inaccessible with any of our current ladders. The challenge with this entry way isn't just that's it's 15 feet tall, it's that there are a flight of stairs beneath it. So the simple act of getting up there to take down wallpaper, change a light bulb or paint, is a formidable challenge in and of itself.

This last weekend, we went out and bought a 20-foot extension ladder. We justified the $200.00 cost because we believe that we'll be needing this ladder not only to access the entry way for painting and light bulb replacement, but also, to clean out gutters and hang Christmas lights and in doing so, hopefully NOT re-enact the ladder scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

When we got our new ladder home, we set it up in the stairwell and my husband, stood for a moment, surveying the activity before him. That activity being, he needed to climb to the very top of the ceiling and sand off the glue that had been holding the wallpaper in place for the past 50 years. It took him several minutes of self-encouragement and motivation before he even set foot on the ladder.


And once he made it up a few steps...


He turned around and came down again.


"There is absolutely no way in HELL I can do that." He said. "HO NO. HELLS NO WAY, HELLS NO HOW."

So, being the supportive wife that I am, I grabbed the sandpaper, and my camera, and scurried to the top of the ladder. OK, I'll admit, standing on a ladder ABOVE a flight of stairs was a little sketchy. But once I took this picture of my husband standing at the base of the ladder, he said, "You're going to post that on your blog, aren't you?"


And I might have said, "Of course!"

And he might have said, "GET DOWN, WOMAN."

So I gladly did because if I fell off that ladder I most surely would have broken numerous bones and/or died. And then, my husband, who moments later was telling me that he was ready to return the ladder and hire a professional, actually sprinted up the ladder.


He sanded the walls.


He painted the ceiling.


And the very next day, he climbed the ladder again and painted the entire entryway, not once but TWICE.


"Do not talk to me. I am focused on not DYING."


So the moral of this story is, posting about fears in a public forum is one sure-fire way to dispel them. Oh and also? The next time we go to the Statue of Liberty, I'm bringing my camera.


  1. LOve the look of absolute determination not to die in the last picture.

    Go Charlie, go

  2. I'm with Charlie. I find it hard to stand up any higher than a step stool. Driving over the Coronado Bridge is to exist for a full minute on the edge of an actual panic attack. But show me a hole no wider than my own body, 400 feet underground, and I'll shimmy into it without a second thought. Go figure.

    So he's my hero today.

  3. Yay for Charlie! Great job!

  4. We don't have a high ceiling like that, but we are a household of short people. We have a useful gadget that basically holds the light bulb on the end of a stick so you can screw them in or out without needing a ladder.

  5. OMG Charlie! Good for you! Now what fears of Jen's should we do away with? Spiders, snakes, the dark? Surely Charlie you can come up with something to help her with.
    The ceiling and walls look fantastic! or rather from what I can tell with the ladder in the way.

  6. OMGosh, your post made me literally LOL! Thank you for giving my Saturday such a great start!

  7. Well that is one way to get it done. I so need me a Charlie or possibly a ladder like that. At the rate you guys are going you are going to be totally finished by that Thanksgiving dinner:)

    I see that you have been enjoying the beautiful leaves;) That is the reason I never leave the house without my camera during fall.

  8. Way to go Charlie, from another person who is deathly afraid of heights. I bought Greg and I a gift certificate to parachute when I was 20. We went through the eight hour class, got our equipment on, rode up in the plane, and Greg went first.

    I wouldn't go. I sat in the plane and they had to fly me back to the ground. Greg didn't talk to me for 2 weeks.

    You much more understanding, Jen. HA!

  9. LOL! Way to go, Charlie!

  10. I had a client that used to use a brand of light bulbs named Kryptonite (Spelling?)that lasted for several years or so. You might want to google them and see if they are available for those hard to reach spaces.

  11. Ahhh, that is awesome! I JUST had a coversation with MY husband about not having any Caribou and said that I might tell people on my blog that I didn't have any fresh caribou meat and we MIGHT have to go to the store and get BEEF (ICK). He immediately left the house, went to the shop and got his snowmachine ready to go out hunting. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, "If you're going to post on your blog that I'm not a good hunter, I have to make sure to get one so you look like a liar."


  12. Hey - Derrick is afraid of heights too Charlie! If I had a blog I write about the time we went to the Eiffel Tower! Same story!

    You two DIYers . . . . $200 could have bought a lot of handyman services . . . . :-)

    Miss you all - have fun tonight!

    Jessica + Derrick +4

  13. He is a braver person that I am....there is nooooooo way I would get on that ladder!!

    Kudos to Charley.

    I am really hoping to hear more about the the change in the diningroom.

    The Trips and Henry are very cute in their costumes.


  14. Hi Jen. Glad to see your getting things in order. Looks like it's turning out beautifully.

    I'm being charged on my credit card for some small items and mailings I sent to you for your 3 day walk. Just wondering if you got them? Thanks. Marg

  15. ohmygosh, we have the same kind of stairway/high ceiling and ours is still unpainted after 4 years! I will have to hire someone cause neither of us can do it:) Great job!