In our household the boss is known for her good decision making. We will leave aside her decision to buy zoo zoo pets for the children this week. We should also ignore the foolhardy decision to marry a graduate student. She generally goes to bed at an appropriate time and sleeps until she’s rested. She eats when she’s hungry and drinks when she’s dry. I tend to sleep poorly. I find the more I worry, the better I get at it. Why should I give up something I’m good at (hence grad school).

Friday night after it had finally become really dark outside I heard a highpitched scratchy/skreeching noise. I mentioned this to my wife. She noted that the cats were in and the chickens locked up and went back to her zazen meditation. I thought to myself: “perhaps something is in trouble!” I dashed to the mudroom and put on my headlamp (standard superhero gear) and headed out the door.

The noise was coming from a neighbor’s yard. I feared for their cat — it could have been hit. I approached cautiously as I’ve been often told that a wounded animal is a dangerous animal. What I saw was black and white like their cat, but wasn’t writhing in pain. It also didn’t look like a cat. I went inside to let the boss know. “That’s good.” I imagine that most of my readers already know that this animal was not to be trifled with. So I grabbed a more powerful flashlight and headed out.

Two! Two skunks. And what were they doing? Under the glare of the more powerful flashlight they stopped and headed under a nearby car and began making the ungodly sound again. Were they engaged intimately? Why yes I think they were. It’s the wrong season — skunks are supposed to make new skunks in early spring. This is July! Perhaps these were naughty teenage skunks. Sadly, I neglected to photograph the events.

I did not get sprayed. Yes! This meant I didn’t learn any lessons.

Saturday morning the sun had an evil grin plastered on its tremendous face. It promised to be so hot it would fry eggs in the fridge. Good time to clean the gutters! I grabbed my trusty 30 ft wooden extension ladder and tottered out of the garage. My 20ft ladder is fiberglass and was big enough for our old house. It’s light and easy to erect. This wooden one isn’t really light at all. It’s also hard to work with. No matter, the gutters must be cleaned.

I found that if I leaned the top of the ladder against the house while standing under it, I could slowly extend it without having to balance the whole thing. Excellent. Once I had it fully extended I checked its attack angle and stability. I decided I needed someone to anchor the bottom for me. Luckily my life partner, boss, was inside entertaining the boarders and was glad to help.

“You’re not climbing that thing.” Admittedly it did sway a bit both up and down and right to left. I assured her that the previous owners had used it to paint the house. “It’s totally safe, Dave painted the house with it.” I tried a big smile. This did not help at all. “Your false cheeriness paints a scary picture.” I pointed over her shoulder, grabbed my hoe and began scurrying up the ladder. She had no choice but to brace it.

Somewhere about halfway I started to remember that the previous owners had actually owned an aluminum ladder that they took with them. They left their old crappy ladder with us. I didn’t want to buy a new one: even at the despot it was going to set me back nearly $350. I persevered and managed to clean the gutters.

That’s two foolhardy decisions that did not end in tragedy. I’m due. Tomorrow I have to remount our attic windows. As far as I can tell this activity is entirely safe. I, or my heirs, will let you know how it went.