“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”  – First recorded in a sermon by John Wesley in 1778

“Clean up! Clean Up! Everybody clean up!”– kindergarten song

There is something about the angle of the sun in the fall that exposes all of the flaws in my housekeeping. The floors look dirtier, dust is more readily apparent on horizontal surfaces and the windows show every smear and bit of detritus. The skylight in our little front room was occluded with two years of accumulated stuff. It was clear that something had to be done.

On a mild and beautiful Tuesday morning, we started to assemble the props and products needed for a large-scale window clean-up. Ladders and brushes, buckets and vinegar, cloths and paper towels. All was in readiness. Mark set up the extension ladder against the front roof and I brought out a two-stair step stool from the studio.

The step stool was not new. It was practically a family heirloom. It had come from my father’s medical office which closed in 1983. It may well have been in my grandfather’s office and was just adopted when Dad moved his practice in. It was wooden and originally had some rubber stair treads that had become so ratty that I tore off and discarded them. It was useful for getting to high shelves and the tops of things that would otherwise be out of reach.

I got to work on the lower windows. Our house was originally a bakery and we chose to keep the original door and double transom windows, as well as the big display windows on either side of them. From the top of the step-stool, I could see spiderwebs galore and lots of dirt. It was so satisfying to spray on the vinegar and water mixture and see just how terrible it had been. Dirty rivulets poured over the door sill and I caught and mopped them away. I quickly used up my rags and stepped back to get down and resupply.

That’s when it happened. Before I knew it, I was flying backward through the air. I had just enough time to think “this could really hurt” when I hit the ground like a ton of bricks. I twisted a bit mid-air and landed on my left side scraping the big ladder as I went down. I was stunned. It had happened so fast. I lay on the ground taking inventory. Head hurt a bit, shoulders stiff, left wrist not good, first numb then HURTING!

According to a quick look on the computer, there are 25,000,000 in-home injuries per year according to the National Safety Council. Nearly 1 in 4 people over the age of 65 experience a fall each year- 2,800,000 of us. Every 11 seconds someone in this age group (me, for example) is treated in the emergency room. However, the most dangerous thing you can do in the home is to eat! There were 48,000,000 injuries from food born illnesses last year alone. Somehow this makes me feel a bit better about the whole window thing. Happens all the time.

All’s well that ends well. I called our health service, spoke to a nurse and they worked me in. I iced my wrist. I supervised a bit more window cleaning by Mark.  Went to Valley Medical and saw Henry Simkin. Had an X-ray and it showed a probable nondisplaced fracture of the distal radius. Got a splint and a follow-up appointment in two weeks.

My friend, Sheila Hunter, often says “no good deed goes unpunished.” It is an ironic twist on the moral precept that no good deed goes unrewarded. Probably both things are true depending on the circumstances. I am grateful that I can still use my dominant right hand. My left arm doesn’t hurt much today. I can see the tops of the arborvitae and the blue of the sky through my sparkling clean skylight. I intend to continue working my way around the house washing windows but will keep my feet on the ground or at least upgrade to a “real” ladder. Live and learn.