The first moderately unpleasant episode began when I noticed that one of the end caps of the front gutter was leaking. So I went up the stepladder to see if the gutter pipe was blocked. I have done it 20 times — I know the ground there is uneven — yet this time, from haste or distraction, I did not ground the ladder properly. I went four or five feet up, then I was on the sidewalk.
Thirty-two feet per second per second, the rate of acceleration of falling bodies, is pretty quick. I landed on my hands and knees, but I must have turned as I fell, smacking the back of my head on the rain barrel. I did what any red-blooded homeowner does when he injures himself — I called for my wife. She said I was showing a lot of red blood. Our friend Doug, the builder/artist, offered to come over with his staple gun. We went to the emergency room of the local hospital instead.