14 December 2021

Stairway Almost to Heaven

The wooden deck in our backyard had never been maintained when we bought our fixer-upper 15ish years ago. The previous owners also removed the hot tub the night before we closed on the house (giving us the opportunity to back out of the sale without a financial loss, had we wanted, but also leaving a huge hole in the deck). About a year later, I went through one of the deck stairs, so Lizard removed the deck, along with the help of our then current missionaries.

We had big plans! We were going to build a red rock slab staircase that would match the flagstone I intended to use on the portion of the backyard that wouldn't grow grass. I have begun the flagstone part of the project, but we never got the stairway built. I built a makeshift stair at the backdoor to keep from falling on my noggin when I water the garden.

I ripped more than one dress on the deck skeleton over the years. I really hated that thing. Except when it made a stable, dry sitting surface while shooting snowflakes...

I dismantled that makeshift stairway the day before we thought work on the new stairs would begin. The crew had to delay our work for a week. I worried I'd forget the bricks and boards were gone. So that sweet husband of mine made a couple of signs to remind me. I am married to the most wonderful man on the planet!

One slab of the front stairway has been sinking on one side the entire time we have lived in the house. Probably due in part to the hyacinths I planted in the rocks in front of it. But also because none of the homes in our neighborhood were built on amended soil. A foolish developer builds your house upon the clay...

The cracks in the front concrete have provided excellent shelter for snakes and mice, neither of which we care to house. The off-levelness of that one step really hampered Lizard every time we went out the front door. He hasn't been able to go out the backdoor for a couple of years now. It has been a very long time coming, but we finally got those stairs replaced last week.

The company we used sized everything to accommadate a wheelchair, in case we ever get to that point. We hope we don't, but it's good to know we are ready if it happens.

The night before the concrete was poured, I dreamed the squirrel scampered all the way across the back steps, leaving footprints. Not an hour after the pouring (while the crew poured three more like projects in our neighborhood to address similar clay foundation issues), our squirrel had to leave his Hollywood-style signature. He also must have dunked his tail. There were a couple of long, deep gouges. I'll bet he spent a good deal of time licking his tail for the next several hours!

The crew leveled it off when they returned, and I tried to keep an eye out for our curious critter so he couldn't repeat the feat. But he must have learned his lesson. The smoothing lasted.

Snow was in the forecast two days after the stairs had been poured. We didn't know if we'd actually get any snow because it's been so dry. I got to shovel 1.5 inches off my new stairs Friday morning! I was as excited for the snow as I am about the stairs!

Neighborhood mice apparently are excited, too. Less than one week into the new stairs, a mouse hole has appeared. I filled it in with red sand.

I won't be planting new hyacinths near the front stair, and I'm going to have to redo the little rock area there. I'm thinking about having a short brick wall built around the rock area and adding soil to cover up where the clay has settled away from the front porch. But that would involve watering in the long run because I'd want to plant beautiful things there. So I'll have a few months to think on that.

Meanwhile, the back doorway is going to need a little bit of TLC. The back stairs are ready for some new landscaping, too, but I was already working on that with red sand and flagstone. I just didn't know how far out the stairs would reach, so I had to wait until they were done. Now I might have to wait until our tiny stretch of winter turns back into autumn-like weather!

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