Lessons From The Ladder

My longtime friend, Jerry Sinyard, built our home in 2001. I thought the unpainted color of the cement planks looked fine. Jane, however, was not interested in the natural look.   She brought home a lot of paint samples to dab on the boards. She would ask Jerry’s opinion, to which he would always wisely reply, “If you like it, then I like it.”

I am convinced that sample number 27 was the exact same factory standard light green that we tried in test number one. The difference was that Jane created it by combining 9 colors. I’m not one to argue about paint, so please don’t mention this to her.

Someone told us that paint on cement siding would look fine for 12 to 15 years. Jane heard 12. I heard 15.   I stalled her those three years, telling her that I would paint the house when I retired. I delayed a few more months, as she again sought out the perfect color. She didn’t think the sample number 27 paint formula, the one that we had secured in our safety deposit box, was exactly what we wanted. Times had changed. The paint needed a dot more of something, a hint of some indefinable color.

Our home has two stories. I’m a one-story guy. I don’t like heights.  When I was a child my parents took my brother Jimmy and me to The Macon Fair every October. My favorite part of the Ferris wheel was when it began stopping to let people off. I knew the odds were getting better that I would survive.

I wondered if the wild looking guy who had carelessly snapped our safety bar in place, had also put this contraption together. Had he tightened all the nuts and bolts? Had he checked for worn parts and frayed cables? He just didn’t look dependable. Back in the 1950’s, dependable folks weren’t covered with tattoos or sporting ducktails. He had it all.

Before I began painting our second story, Jane heard voices coming from our office. “What in the world are you watching?” she asked. “Ladder safety videos,” I replied. She thought that was funny. I considered it prudent and knew that thousands of OSHA employees were on my side.

The videos were helpful, filled with facts about safety. Their entertainment value, however, was a bit weak. I toyed with the idea of writing a short safety manual that might be a little more fun to read. When I started writing, I realized that a lot of the principals of ladder safety could also be applied to daily living, something I call Paint Can Theology. Solid ground, for example, is important for both ladders and life.

There is a disclaimer in the book, noting that it is not recommended for professional painters or theologians. If you fit either of those two categories, then I beg you not to buy it. Otherwise, you might enjoy climbing a few rungs.

The hardest part of painting our house was getting started. The second hardest part is getting finished. Now that I have a weekly column to write, the painting will just have to wait. Besides, Jane is looking at paint samples for the front door. “It needs a little more green,” she said, “or maybe a tad of black.” Perhaps I have time to get a few columns ahead.

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