It is time to raise the ridge pole into the peak of living room ceiling and as usual I am working on my own. I have the radio tuned to CBC ( Morningside, with Peter Gzowski) for company and am scratching my head to work out a system that will get the 20 foot cedar pole way up high in the cathedral ceiling -12 feet or more. At one end is a tall post with a space at the top and at the other a slot in the peak of the wall for the beam to slid through to the outer end of the roof line. Really, this is a job for at least a couple of hefty men and some staging but I decide to wing it. It is some time since I have fallen on this building site and cracked my ribs yet again. I am getting cocky.
I manhandle the beam into position below and lift the inside end onto a wooden plank nailed temporarily to the vertical post. Great! Now I lift the outer end onto another temporary step. The beam is now four feet off the floor. I repeat the whole process once again and then hoist the inside end up into a rope sling beside the top of the post. The beam swings ominously in its sling at a 35 degree angle even after I lift the low end to the top of a six foot step ladder. It is time for the decisive step! I will climb the step ladder, take the beam on my shoulder and just walk up the steps until I can slide the beam into place. Up I go, -as the beam approaches horizontal it seems to get lighter - and with a grunt lift it from my shoulder to over my head. Drat, still not quite high enough! I am standing on the very top of the ladder with a long heavy pole held in my quivering hands.
Now I realize that there is no going back. I could never reverse the process smoothly enough to put the log safely back on my shoulders and hence back to the ground. If I try to throw the beam to one side and leap for it, the ladder would just tip over and I would end up crushed by the beam on the floor below. How far down that floor seems! Very carefully I lift the log up onto my fingertips. Still not enough! AHHHH! I rise on tiptoe and, ever so delicately, it slides into place. Phew! I will wait a long time before I share this story with my family.