falling with the ladder
Friday, May 18 2018
It was gorgeous sunny Friday, and I took a few breaks throughout the workday to work on the screened-in porch project. I was at the stage where it was time to install the horizontal girder between the two eastern pillars (at the corners of the porch farthest from the house). There was the problem I mentioned in yesterday's entry about the pillars being somewhat rotated out of perfect orthogonal relationship with the deck, and I aimed to address that by attaching the girders orthogonal to the pillars and then using their leverage to twist the pillars into their proper form. To help with this, I'd run a rope from the east deck to a high up in a pine east of the deck such that it drooped to a level approximately near that of the bottom of the girder. The idea was to use that to hold the free end of the girder in place some distance away from the pillar to which it would eventually be attached so that I could attach the girder's other end orthogonal to its pillar. In my first attempt at this, I had to maneuver the propped-up gider out from under my ladder, and doing this introduced an unwelcome twisting of it beneath me, helped by the soft, tiled ground I'd placed its feet upon. It soon became clear that I was being flung from the ladder. But I still had enough control of my fate to delay it. I hung onto the pillar, first letting the big dumb wait of that falling girder (a 14 foot two by ten) hit the ground first and only then falling with the ladder. I landed on soft ground on my left elbow, injuring it slightly, but other than that I was fine and could continue working. At least in this case, with my feet having only been maybe only five or six feet above the ground, falling with the ladder seemed to have been a good strategy.
I was more careful on my second attempt, poking the sharp ends of the ladder's base into the dirt with the hinged feet swung out of the way. I also put a large clamp on the top edge of the ladder and used that to temporarily support the soon-to-be attached girder's end while the other end floated in space. I also better supported that free end, propping it near where it wanted to be floating in space on the end of clamped board and only using the rope as one-dimensional net to catch it should it slip and fall off the propping board.
At some point as I worked some time after 6:00pm, the podcast I was listening to via FM radio (that is, broadcasted from my computer on an FM transmitter), was suddenly replaced with the hiss of microwave background radiation. The power had gone out, so of course (these being the sort of times we live in), I went to check if this was a local thing or if it was the end of the world. Fortunately, it was the former and not the latter. According to the Central Hudson outage map, I was in a trapezoidal outage area with a short side along Hurley Mountain Road and with Dug Hill Road running near its longest central axis. Some 160 households had been affected. I wondered how I would be spending my evening tonight with no power, but it came back on a little over an hour later.
Meanwhile Gretchen had spent the day down in Manhattan at some sort of poetry workshop celebrating the work of, well, I forget. She was only down there for the day and returned home before 11:00pm. I'd taken 100 milligrams of diphenhydramine, so my eyelids were soon almost painfully heavy. But Gretchen had made the mistake of drinking a small cup of bad coffee late in the day, and ended up having to take an ambien. This might've been the incident where she attempted to practice her Spanish with the woman behind the counter, which was the complete opposite of what famously happened earlier this week on that same island.
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