One of the few benefits of Manyu going to Asia each winter (and leaving me behind to care for our dog) is that I can complete home projects without her looking over my shoulder or complaining about the messes I leave in my wake. On Manyu’s current trip, I have been unusually productive. So far I have painted the kitchen ceiling, repaired a shower stall in the back bathroom, replaced glass panels in two cabinets, and re-glued the chairs for our breakfast nook. All that remains is the project I have been avoiding from the start, and that is replacing the ceiling fan in the main bathroom and repairing a bit of water damage caused by the malfunctioning fan. I just know the project is going to be way more difficult than it ought to be. I haven’t even started the project, and I’ve already injured myself because of it. 

In my research about ceiling fans, I read that I should insulate the tube running from the fan to the roof, as this will minimize condensation around the tube itself. I was hoping to avoid the unpleasant task of crawling up into our tiny attic space, but decided if I was going to make these repairs at all I was going to do them correctly.

I then remembered that I might have leftover fiberglass batting from a previous project in the crawlspace under the house. Unfortunately, if there is an area of our house I like less than the small attic, it is the equally small area under the house. Now I was going to crawl under our house to fix a problem that was on the top of our house. 

To get into the basement crawlspace, I have to get to a small door at the very back of Clare’s long narrow closet. Our house is great, but it has its quirks (i.e., no full attic or no full basement). I pulled a half dozen storage bins out of the closet and removed the quarter-inch piece of carpeted plywood that covers the hole in the floor. Thinking I’d search the crawlspace before climbing down into it, I lowered my upper body into the hole and waved around a flashlight to see if the insulation was even down there. As I dangled upside down in the hole, something that felt like a large rock came out of nowhere and hit me in the shoulder. A rock in Clare’s closet made no sense to me, and when I aimed my flashlight straight down to see what it was that had hit me, all I saw was a black cloth bag lying on the thick plastic sheeting that covers the dirt floor. My whole purpose for leaning head first into the hole was to avoid climbing into the crawlspace if the insulation wasn’t down there, but now I had to go down just to retrieve the bag. That meant getting a small step ladder out of the garage. Whereas most of the crawlspace is about three feet deep, the depth right below the access door is, for no apparent reason, nearly five feet. My aging body can still drop that distance without a ladder, but I have a hard time getting out. 

I climbed down and discovered the black bag contained Clare’s shot put from high school. I don’t know where it was that it rolled into the hole, but I am grateful it hit me only with a glancing blow. The insulation, by the way, was tucked behind a support column, and I wouldn’t have seen it had I not gone down to retrieve the bag. Still the event is an ominous prelude to a repair project I don’t want to do.

Steven Simpson