About a billion years ago, way back when the earth was still cooling, the contractor who did all the necessary repairs to our home before we could move in built a stairway out front to replace the one that had stood the test of time for the previous billion years. This was made more necessary because for a brief period our house was lifted up in the air on jacks while the old brick foundation upon which it had sat since the dawn of time was replaced by this same contractor with a poured concrete plotz on which we hoped to ride out the next series of geological disasters. When our house came back to rest on terra firma again, we still needed a way to climb up to our front door. That's when they set to work crafting our stairs.
It should be noted at this point that my wife was on her way and eventually became a mother as this string of events unfurled. This was back in the days when my life was changing from being the new husband and warehouse manager to becoming a new dad and an elementary school teacher. Vagaries like front stairways seemed like things that could or by all rights should take care of themselves without massive time and feedback on this young family beginning their new adventure.
This was not the case. We, my wife in particular, learned more than she ever wanted to know about building codes and just exactly how high a handrail needs to be in the state of California. She learned this when the county inspector came out to take a look at the construction being completed at our newly refurbished home, as inspectors will. His response, in a word, was "no." The banisters needed to be redone in order to bring our front stairway up to code.
As newly minted homeowners, we had no real interest in holding the contractor's feet to the fire or making more trouble than they already seemed to be experiencing. So we let them fiddle around with how to fix the mess that they created. When they were finished, the rail was at the correct height, but in order to achieve this goal, they had skipped any pretense of aesthetics. They put a sandwich of two by fours layered on top of the original, and cut off the top of the newel posts to be stuck on top of these layers to give it that "finished look." It was a monstrosity, but it was our monstrosity, and with that "U-Save-Termite" and their various tools and employees drifted out of our front yard and eventually out of business.
For the past billion years, we have dealt with that sloppy fix. We even painted it when we did the rest of the house. We did it because it was part of the house. Meanwhile, my wife and son kept giving me power tools for various holidays, and I used them to fix, break, and fix things again throughout our home without ever considering what was sitting just outside our front door.
Last weekend that all changed. I measured and made a drawing of the way our stairway should look, and we went to buy the lumber we needed. It took a couple days, but with my wife's help I was able to right a wrong that had been hanging off our front porch for a billion years.
It was a relief.
And about time.