Little Giant, Big Brain

I have been in deep weeds this summer helping my son Nick Baker finish up a book called “Turtle.” It is Nick’s story of being made fun of by kids in his grade school. Nick was so different from the rest of children at his grade school and 25 years ago he was truly a novelty on campus. Using using a long white cane to find his way earned him the nickname “Turtle”.  This is an illustrated book. Nick is both blind and on the Autism spectrum. He truly needed my eyes and editorial skills to help complete his book.

cover with text

Great news! The book is finished and is selling well. We have it uploaded to Amazon for sale as both print book and Kindle EBook. Local press has been kind to Nick. A recent feature on My Edmonds News TV garnered the attention of the local NBC affiliate, KING 5. They sent a reported and cameraman out and did an in-depth interview. The show was to air the next day.


My son set his alarm for 5:00 am, the stated beginning time for the King5 morning news broadcast. He promised to keep the volume low, knowing that Mom and Dad’ alarm would remain at the usual 7:00 am rising time.


True to his word, we didn’t hear a peep. By 7:00 am our bedroom TV set tuned into the King 5 morning show. Excitedly watching for the next part of the segment that featured Nick, I shouted; “He’s on now!” My husband was in the shower. Steam blew out from the bathroom as he leaped out, towel in hand, to get a look at our family celebrity.

We have ultra sensitive smoke detectors in our home. The weirdest things will get them going… like steam from a hot shower. Yes, they all went off. The units must all belong to the same “union”, when one goes off, they all follow suit and start emitting obnoxious beeps!

Instead of seeing my son on TV, we were running around swinging doors, turning on fans; doing whatever we perceived would make the noise cease and desist. Nick raced up the stairs to see what was happening. He started shouting “I’m going to call 9-1-1”…which of course was not the best idea. Our two dogs were affected by this shrill noise too.  They barked in tandem with Nick. Their voices added to the pleas for the pandemonium to cease.


I stopped dead in my tracks.  As calmly as possible given the uproar in our home, I reviewed with Nick the circumstances under which it was permissible to call 9-1-1. He agreed that he did not smell smoke, or feel any heat from a possible fire. Most importantly there were two other adults were present who had the skills to detect a possible fire or other emergency.  He did relent and hand over the phone. I was truly grateful that he doesn’t have a personal cell phone, or the next sound I’d likely hear would be our doorbell, rung by a local police officer.

A side note here… our name is probably on the “list” of 9-1-1 prank callers. We have had this happen more than once. On the off chance that Nick might still waiver, I took the upstairs base phone off the hook.

The fans and doors seem to increase the smoke detectors activity. Each time things calmed down and we’d breathe a sigh of relief…shrill squawks would again fill the air. Eventually the air cleared of the stimulus and silence prevailed. But wait, now a different beep was heard, the low battery signals. This extra activity had depleted the 9 volt back up battery in two of the units.

This was an easy fix. The ladder and some fresh batteries were all I needed. The situation seemed well in hand as my husband dashed out of the door and backed the car out of our garage.  I waved and silently prayed that he was able to catch the last bus downtown.

The ladder is called Little Giant, but a Big Brain is required to set it up. If that brain belongs to engineering major who’s of a brawny build, so much the better! I wrestled the Little Giant® MegaLite™ Aluminum Ladder out of its storage spot and into the house. “Lite” in the name surely doesn’t mean the physical weight of the ladder.

The brochure (which was nowhere to be found at that moment) says how versatile and easy it is to use. One can configure it to just about any position, like reaching the Smoke Detector mounted on an 18 foot high ceiling in my dining room.  I set up the ladder in the usual A-frame position. I use this ladder about twice a year, so the mechanism to change positions is a little dicey.  I simply could not get it into position to reach that unit located on the 18 foot ceiling.

All the while the random beeps from the low battery continue to drive us crazy. I’d yet to have a cup of coffee, the dogs had not been fed and the show’s last segment is now over. My son, who also hasn’t breakfasted either, heads upstairs. He announces, in case my ears were no longer working, that the smoke detector needs a new battery.

This was the exact moment I’d opened the drawer where our batteries are kept. A crunching sound from a crinkled, empty package, which once held 9 volt Duracell batteries, greeted my ears.

I was on the internet in a flash, Googling: “Handy Man” in Edmonds, WA.  Twenty five minutes later my knight in shining armor, actually clad in jeans and a sweatshirt, arrived to silence the squawks for good.  In no time he had properly aligned the settings and mounted the Little Giant ladder, now stretched to its full height. The joy of not hearing the beeps was short-lived.

My knight on the shining ladder determined that the unit doesn’t just need a battery, it needs to new, as in be replaced with a new unit. The expiration date on this particular one is 2011…oops!

I mentally schedule a stop at the local Home Depot into my rounds for the day. My list included 9 volt batteries.

Much later, I sat down to write this post. I marveled at how our happy high; seeing Nick as the star of the segment on TV this morning, crashed into the reality of daily living on the spectrum.

Just when I thought it was safe to get back in the water…

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