As I write this, there is a cascade of water spilling over the side of a clogged gutter at the back of my house, crashing onto a plastic tub that I placed beneath it as a makeshift ramp to guide the water to the drain in my back yard and away from my foundation. The plastic tub has been there for a week, and the sound of water pounding onto it is so loud that it disturbs my sleep at night, because it will not stop raining. I believe the phrase is “April showers bring May flowers”. So what do February showers bring? They bring a not-so-subtle dose of reality to the meaning of homeownership.
I bought my house on St. Patrick’s Day in 2017, so I’ve been here for almost a full year. About a month after I moved in, we had an April monsoon that brought me back down from the clouds of my new house love. I was in the basement doing laundry and I noticed the sound of water running…and it wasn’t coming from the washing machine.
I followed the sound to the floor beneath one of my basement windows. I pulled back the heavy plastic that the previous owners placed, presumably for the purpose of blocking cold air. The window well outside was halfway full with water, and a toad who chose the wrong place to escape the rain was swimming desperately in search of dry grounds.
I ran upstairs and out into the rain, to find that water was pouring over the side of the gutter and splashing onto the ground beside the window well, flowing backward toward the foundation and over the side of the window well’s metal wall. There is a long, narrow drain in my yard just a couple of feet from where the water was landing, but because of the indention in the ground from who-knows-how-many months of rainwater running over the side of the gutter, the water couldn’t find its way to the drain.
I went to my shed and grabbed a shovel, dug a trench to the drain, and the water instantly started flowing towards it. Okay, temporarily fixed. Then I grabbed a small bucket and began scooping water out of the window well, after first rescuing the toad and setting him free on higher ground. Clearly the gutter was clogged, and all of the gutters would need to be cleaned. And guess who doesn’t own a ladder??
I owned another home before buying this one, but it was 30 miles north of where I live now, in the town where my family lives. So any time I had a chore that required equipment or tools that I do not own, I called Dad or Grandpa and ran over to borrow theirs. Not so easy to do when I live 30 miles away and don’t have a truck or even an SUV!
Fast forward 10 months to the day since that April monsoon that delivered a whopping 12 inches of rain in just 24 hours, and I still haven’t cleaned my gutters!! That’s right, the secret is out…I’m a procrastinator! The trench served its purpose and carried the water away from my house and into the drain where it belonged, so the sense of urgency behind gutter cleaning was gone, and my desire to borrow Grandpa’s truck and a ladder was painfully low. But now that indention in the ground from the waterfall in my gutter has become a lake, and the water can no longer make it down the trench and into the drain. The problem will no longer be ignored!
The solution? Bite the bullet and spend an obscene amount of money on my own ladder. And order it from Amazon so it will be delivered to my house, because there is no way a ladder is fitting in the trunk of my Honda Civic (being a homeowner and driving a compact car is a story for another day)! Honestly…have you priced ladders?? Pure insanity!
All I need is something that reaches my roof so I can scoop out whatever muck is in my gutter and re-secure the gutter guards that are supposed to be preventing these clogs in the first place. I don’t need your fancy schmancy stuff, just something that gets me 10 feet above the ground, thankyouverymuch! And I got that for the low, low price of…$70. Most of the ladders I found were averaging $200 and folded and stretched into so many different shapes and sizes you could make origami with them. I mean….$200+ for a hunk of aluminum! What that what?!?
Anyway, now I get to drag my 32-year-old, five-foot-three-inch self onto the roof with a hand spade and scoop out heaven only knows how many years’ worth of tree trash and bird nests and squirrel carcasses that are decaying in a plastic grave on the side of my roof. And when I’m done with that I get to find some dirt to fill in the lake that’s been carved into the ground next to my foundation, and build it up so that water again runs away from my house instead of towards it.
Of the many lessons to be learned when owning a home, this one is among my least favorite. Anyway, the ladder has been ordered and should be delivered next week. Which means next weekend I get to burn leaves (if it ever stops raining long enough for them to dry out), till my garden for those early spring vegetables (if it ever stops raining long enough for the ground to dry out too…), and finally
fall off my roof and break my neck clean my gutters!
To be continued…