It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.

~ Charles Spurgeon ~

How To Close A Skylight

April 4th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 3 mins, 58 secs

Do you think he is going to close it? I’m getting cold.

Learning how to close a skylight is something I never thought about. I mean, how hard could it be, right? But like climbing onto the back of an elephant, or collecting a fresh specimen from an anxious dachshund, you’ve just got to do it.

Silly me. When we had the skylight put in there was the choice between a motorized version, and the manually closing “low tech” type. I thought the latter was better because it was simpler. Besides, surely it would help save the world a little bit (oh all right, not at all). But I never factored on the type of torment such a simple fitting could turn out to be.

Take this morning. I was in that comatose state where the best I can muster to a direct question of, “Would you like a cup of tea?” is a slight wiggle of the left pinky. Having polished this wriggle, I plan one day to be able to order a 3 course meal, conduct a 48 piece orchestra, close overloaded luggage, and – as was the case this morning – indicate to Ruth that “Yes please, I’d love a cuppa. PS: I’m trapped inside a comatose body. Oh, and by the way: good morning!”

On the theme of how immobile we might be, nature has a way of dealing with people who still lying in bed at 6.30am. It’s called a full bladder. Despite your weary resistance, that wondrous bladder has a knack of ramping up your wakefulness to the point where even slipping in a quick dance to the bathroom seems like no trouble at all (even if, like me, you do it with your eyes closed).

Having risen from the slab and walking zombie like to the toilet, Ruth loudly pronounced, “Darling, will you please close the skylight? It’s freezing in here.

That might sound simple enough. Yet, it’s the equivalent to asking, “Dear, why don’t you build a car out of empty cardboard boxes? Oh and while you are test driving it, do stop at the store and get some milk and bread?” All right, I’m exaggerating. But when you are still mostly asleep and just walked full tilt into the still closed bedroom door, it feels close.

Thinking Ruth wanted me to shut that skylight immediately triggered an intense bout of close skylight anxiety. That’s how hard it is to shut the wretched thing.

So now, as I’m writing this to you, I’m still feeling uptight about the skylight. Why? Because the pole used to close the skylight window is truly horrible to use.

Half squatting, with your knees bent, whilst rocking side to side seems like a good birthing position. But it’s actually the best technique to close the skylight I know.

The impossibly long rod meant to shut the skylight window is so long it’s difficult to maneuver vertically into the skylight well without smashing things. Hence I need to poke my bottom out and assume the bump and grind position (and no, I don’t feel like shaking my tail feather). It’s so difficult not to knock Ruth’s perfumes and whatnots off the sink surround when you are wielding a 20-foot bargepole in your bedroom with 8-foot ceilings.

To make the pole more interesting it comes with a crank handle and a tiny hook at the other end (kind of like a large animal vet’s gynecological device). Ideal for helping out the odd cow stuck high up in a tree.  But, when it comes to closing skylights, it’s well nigh hopeless.

When I’ve managed to knock everything off Ruth’s side of the sink without breaking anything, the next part is to avoid scoring the plasterboard walls or ceiling with the hook end. Over the years, I’ve scratched more strokes on our bathroom wall than a lifer in Leavenworth (yet still… no parole).

So finally getting the skylight rod upright into the light well is a true moment of triumph. At that point, you do feel as if you could build a car out of cardboard and even do a bit of arboreal vet care on cattle. But the feeling of triumph is brief as the close confines of the skylight well remind you of the ultimate challenge.

Having mentioned all the rigmarole of getting this impossibly long rod off the top of the cupboard and gently turning, twisting, and rocking to get the thing up into the skylight shaft without gouging the ceiling or whacking the cat, it’s time for the hardest part: the docking (and it isn’t pretty). Because the pole end has a wide hook that is meant to connect into the equivalent hook on the skylight base, latching up leaves you so close yet so far from doing much of anything.

Looking up into the light well, poking a miniature hook into an equally miniature catch for ten, twenty, or even thirty minutes might seem slightly inconvenient. But I can assure you, it’s brutal. By the time I’ve finally hooked the whatsit into the thingme enough times to twist the whatshisname in, I’m a gibbering mess! Who knew closing a skylight could be so cruel? But it is.

Working with crude connections way above head height with your arms over your shoulders is no joke. Which is why I’m telling you that when it comes to skylights there are only two choices: electric or fixed. If anyone anywhere says you need to use a long pole with a crank handle at one end and a little hook at the other to open or close anything, head straight for the door and keep on walking.

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