Like almost everyone else, I’m cringing about the drastic drop in temperature that is headed our way.  Yesterday and today, I’ve tried to finish up, put up, lock down, and repair whatever needed done before this storm hits.

One of the things on my list today was putting the vent cover back on my studio’s wood stove pipe.  It would blow off in high winds, and I had Brandon replace it a few times, only to find it by the chicken coop on a different windy day.  OK.  I had to get serious.

“What’s the best way to keep the vent cover on my stove pipe?” I asked sweetly… halfway hoping Vernon would leave the Denver Broncos behind and come help me in what was a quick 10 minute job.

“Use some machine screws.  There should be some in the garage.”

Well, okey dokey.  I grabbed my supplies and headed to the studio.  When Brandon does this, he jumps up, heaves himself up on the tin roof, sticks the cover back on… and jumps back off.  I went for my step ladder.

I went to the shortest corner, but still my step ladder wouldn’t quite reach the roof.  Well, it wasn’t too far off.  I could make it.  I placed a little piece of wood under the leg hoping to steady the warped step ladder.  Yeah.  Good enough.

I climbed up cautiously.  Slid onto the tin roof on my belly.  Inched farther inward in a pathetic army crawl.  Stood up.  Went to the stove pipe and saw I’d have to be creative about attaching the cover.  I was.  I did it… although two out of the three screws weren’t in very far, and all I had in my tool kit was itsy bitsy screwdrivers and no regular attachment to use my cordless drill.  I needed to climb down, get the right tools, and come back and finish.

I wandered to the edge of the roof and looked down.


It looked farther down now.

The wind was gusting and I hoped it wouldn’t blow my ladder over.

I laid down… and scooted close to the edge.  I stuck out my right leg to feel for the top of the ladder.  Where was it?  If my knee could have bent forward, there would have been no problem, but it can’t… so I scooted back, stood up, squatted down and tried to reach that top step once again.  Ha Ha Ho Ho.  No way.  How can going down be so different from going up?  All right.  There is nothing to this!  I laid on my belly once again and breathed.  In.  Out.  Boy, it sure would be great if someone would come hold my ladder.  No, hand me a screwdriver and THEN hold my ladder!  I wonder how long it would be before Vernon came to look for me?  Was this the first quarter or second?  How long til halftime and the possible glance out the window to see me stranded up here???  Oh, heavens!  I’m NOT stranded!  I snuggled next to the edge, grabbed a pitiful hold on the rafter, and stuck my leg into the air.  Grunt.  Gasp.  My toe grazed the top of the ladder and it wiggled.  NO WAY it felt that insecure on the way up.  I glanced down, noting the angle of the steps I’d have to account for in my descent.

Holy cow, this was beginning to sound as if I were descending from Mt. Everest!  It was just a little drop to the step.  I could do it.  One more deep breath, and I slid away from the edge and stood up.  Maybe Brandon was going to come over and watch the last part of the game.  It wasn’t cold.  I could hang out here a while.  I went back to the stove pipe and once again tried to use the tiny screwdriver with no luck.

OK.  I was talking myself into not-quite-panic-how-long-before-I’m-missed-I-need-help mode.  I stuck two fingers in my mouth and whistled.  It’s a great whistle.  I taught it to myself one day in high school P. E. class.  I think we were supposed to be doing tumbling.  Yeah, right.  I can’t tumble.  But I learned to whistle.  The dogs looked.  The chickens clucked.  I whistled.  Repeatedly.  Loudly.  No one came.  No one called.  I gingerly stepped to the edge and checked out the thought of jumping off like my son.  Yeah.  NOOOOOO.

Oh, good grief.

I lay down once again.  The tin and I were beginning to create a relationship.  Skooch.  Breathe.  Skooch closer.  Down a little.  Right THERE.

Honestly.  Did I not just watch some guy walk a tightrope between two skyscrapers just last week?  All I had to do was stick my foot out, find the step, and trust a tippy ladder.

Telling myself to think of my balance.  Most of my weight was still on the roof.  Even if the ladder fell over, I could wiggle my way back onto the roof.  Right then I knew if roofs came with handles, this would not have been an issue, but going over the edge with no good hold was the key to my fear.  I searched for the best handhold I could find for my right hand and my left simply caressed the tin as I slid over the edge.

Shaky.  Tippy.  Wobbling like a drunken sailor, the ladder stayed upright for my first step.  Then the second.  Nothing came crashing down.  I did not fall and break a leg.  I did not die.

On the ground and looking up, I couldn’t believe I had been spooked by so little of a distance.  I retrieved the right bit end and returned to my ladder.  One sigh and I began to climb, slid onto the tin, stood and walked to the stove pipe.  30 seconds with my cordless drill finished the job.  Back to the edge.  Lay down again.  I rested my cheek on the still warm tin.  I wondered how many times in life we’re <this close> to safety but fear those few inches of loss of control?  Was it logic that pulled me through?  Regaining of self confidence?  Knowing that it was up to me and me alone (unless I waited until the Broncos beat the Raiders and Vernon got hungry?).  Was it faith that sent me bravery when I needed it?  Was it the knowledge I had the best handhold available and it would be enough?

Does it matter?

The point is… I did it.  I risked.  I won.



Risk — 19 Comments

  1. Whew, you had me holding my breath and heart racing, and felt just a touch of resentment that the Broncos were getting all the cheers, when, after all you were the one deserving three big cheers! Hooray! You did it!! 😉

  2. Wow! I was holding my breath as I read this, glad to know you accomplished the job and were SAFE! I see that you have lots of sympathy on here from women that understand how to commiserate with your experience! I know — if he doesn’t do it (or the ball game is on) you want to get it done!

  3. Loved the post! Being afraid of heights I felt like I was up there with you! Glad you made it safely! Now let’s just hope your vent cap repair is permanent! ☺

  4. CALL…I will come hold the ladder during football games. Rather than have you laying on the ground with something broken on your body. Safety first.

  5. What a story. So very glad you arrived safely at the bottom and returned to finish the job. You certainly did win, hopefully with a smile on your face. Yeah!!!! I did it!!

  6. There must be bunches and bunches of us going, “oh, yeh, I have been there, too!” so glad that you conquered! Hope that I remember your story the next time that I need to screw up my courage!

  7. FWIW, I have the same panic attacks on roofs.

    Re the cold weather, have your stock had a chance to acclimate? I’m thinking of the disaster of a couple years or so back in South Dakota, where early snows took out a large portion of the herds.

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