Out On A Ledge

September 22, 2008 By: erik Category: Colindres, House, Photos 487 views

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On a ledgeI surprised and impressed myself this weekend. September 20th was the three year anniversary of when we bought our house, making this the house Marga and I have lived in together longest. The biggest reparation that our house has needed since well before we bought it is to sand and varnish the outside window frames. All new houses built around here are built with either PVC or aluminum windows, but our house still has the older wooden windows. Several months ago, we replaced our three worst windows with new aluminum ones, but we decided we couldn’t wait any longer to give the remaining wooden windows more protection against the elements. We should have taken before and after pictures, but I didn’t think to do so. The difference is amazing.

I wouldn’t say that I have a fear of heights. I rather enjoyed looking down from the Empire State Building, for example. But I have had several nightmares that involve precipitous ledges. Not falling, necessarily, but being in a very dangerous place. Part of what make humans such good survivors is the ability to imagine, very vividly, the consequences of actions before deciding which to take. I have a very, very vivid idea of what it would be like to fall from my seventh floor apartment window. I can feel the terror, the wind rushing through my hair, and the realization that these are the last sensations I will ever have. Frankly, it freaks me the hell out. When I lean out the window, I’m always very aware that my center of gravity and a good portion of my mass is clearly inside the house. As soon as there is any doubt, I’m all the way back in.

So when it came time to paint the panels above the window frames this weekend, it really sucked being the tallest family member.

My father-in-law had brought a harness and some rope, without which, there would be no attempting this feat at all. I must admit that it got easier every time I had to go out there (4 coats x 2 windows = 8 times). That cliché about not looking down is 100% true. When I was standing there, focusing on the panel I was painting, things were okay. But bending down to get more paint on my brush and seeing a tiny little car drive by below was not so okay. And once it was particularly windy which was pretty nerve-racking as well.

Naturally I had Marga take some photographs to show off my bravery.

On a ledge

You’ll notice that one hand is always clearly inside the window holding on. The only exception was for putting up the masking tape.

On a ledge

Same pose, different day.

On a ledge

Showing off slightly with both feet outside.

Outside the window

Come on out! The weather’s fine!

Outside the window

On the outside of my seventh floor apartment. The rope was tied very securely to a support column that runs through our living room. What I didn’t expect was just how psychologically comforting it was to have my father-in-law holding the rope and applying just the tiniest bit of tug, so I always had the sensation of being tightly attached to the building.

On a ledge

From the window above. We did this window, too, but it doesn’t have that panel, so it could be done from complete safety inside.

On a ledge

Looking up isn’t a great idea either. You can see how wide the window ledge is. I still get a little dizzy looking at this photo.

I’ve never been very interested in hobbies like skydiving, scuba diving, mountain climbing, or hang gliding. My basic rule on hobbies is to not do things where the primary objective of the hobby is not to die. This kind of thing is not thrilling or exciting to me. I don’t understand roller coasters. Why would I want to trick my brain into thinking I’m in mortal danger? No thank you.

The stress of being out there on the ledge is very tiring. Once I stopped imagining my own gravity and pavement-related death, I slept really well last night.

  • In fact, I slept so well that I didn’t hear the terrorist car bomb in nearby Santoña that woke up my entire neighborhood and killed a Spanish soldier.

    Sigh…such is life in Iraq Pakistan Afghanistan Spain.

  • Impressive. No way could I do that. I recently realized that I have less of a fear of heights and more of a fear of edges.

  • I recently realized that I have less of a fear of heights and more of a fear of edges.

    Exactly! That’s what my second paragraph was trying to express.

  • Are those pajamas you are wearing?

  • You don’t fool me with this “same pose, different day” comment. Don’t worry. I’d have had to change my trousers too if I’d had to lean out a window like that…

  • Alan, those are my work trousers that I wear every day to work. Yes, they are.

  • wow, I keep getting wow.

    You have managed to combine the two things I like best about my two favorite jobs.

    In construction, the greatest feeling comes from looking back at what you have been able to accomplish in just a short amount of time. Something you can really see, touch and appreciate.

    In working from home, you can wear your pajamas all day if you’d like.

    As a renter, I often find small, affordable (very small) projects, such as fixing the sink, or touching up the paint on some trim piece. I can’t resist the urge sometimes, even if I know I will soon give in to my other urge, and move away to a new place, as soon as the contract is up.

    It’s like a disease. Both urges; to fix up a place that’s not yours, and to feel you have to move very frequently.

  • You are one brave man. 🙂 And I was impressed how correctly you put into words what I have been feelingfor long now, about dangerous hobbies and us humans being good survivors due to our vivid imagination. Unfortunately, too vivid sometimes. A couple years ago I developed such a phobia of flying that I wouldn’t even take a flight to go on vacations. Only on job or as a family duty as I hail from pretty remote parts of the globe too. Funnily enough, when I still was in a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend, I didn’t think twice about jumping on a plane every two or three months. However, now that I am safely installed together with him, I am not such an avid flyer anymore.

  • “My basic rule on hobbies is to not do things where the primary objective of the hobby is not to die.”

    Hobby, schmobby. I thought that was the primary objective of the entire undertaking.

  • You’re kind of right, sgazzetti. I was referring to activities that, when you take a beginner’s course, they don’t spend the entire first day explaining safety rules to prevent death. Some examples might help.

    Tennis: Yes.
    Chainsaw juggling: No.
    Golf: Yes.
    Bungee jumping: No.
    Origami: Yes.
    Fugu eating: No.
    Fishing: Yes.
    Sword swallowing: No.
    Learning Spanish: Yes.
    Running with the bulls: No.