Lee and I will be young forever. Lee may not actually believe this, but he certainly did not encourage me to look at the tenuousness of that assumption during design stage. His method of operation is to take no responsibility and let me make my own mistakes. Then when something goes wrong he’ll say, “I wouldn’t have done that.” If he doesn’t say that it is what I imagine. It’s okay. He’s prepared. He has a dumb waiter at his barn which he used to move pottery up and down from his workshop to the kiln which will fit into our spiral corner just in case.
We climb 27 steps to get into the tower’s top floor. The easier climb, going up in the cottage and over the bridge has 29 steps.
Perhaps it was not the smartest design but it is fun to live in a tree house. So far there has been only one evening that I couldn’t possibly climb those stairs and that was two days ago after spending time on my knees in the garden.
Nobody has fallen down the stairs except my dog Tuck, on the spiral. It is a good thing he got over that embarrassment quickly since he is a dog with little self-control. He’s not allowed to cross the alley between the cottage and the tower because he will be overpowered by the desire to chase rabbits or take a swim.
We’ll be sitting in the kitchen and decide we should walk the dogs. Lee crosses to the tower to get Jaxon’s leash. Tuck is up the steps over the bridge and down the spiral to meet him at the door. Lee comes back to the kitchen through the alley. Tuck is up over and down and greets him at the door. Lee remembers he forgot his phone. He cuts across to the tower, and Tuck goes up over and down to meet him over there again. It’s great. Tuck has never been happier.
Jaxon on the other hand will not use the spiral. I admire him for recognizing his limitations.
The stairs have fallen with me on them. Lee claims the blame, but it’s partially my fault also. He was working on the three steps that go from the bridge to the tower and left the project for lunch or whatever. I dislocated my finger when the steps collapsed beneath me. That was a down. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll probably have a stiff index finger and not be able to make a tight fist for the rest of my life. Lee will probably be very disappointed I didn’t post the photo he took of my finger — the one that he has used to gleefully gross out most of our friends.
Sitting on the top deck and having morning coffee is an up and makes me so glad we threw out common sense and built our home with all those steps. We are in the shade, we see three herons in their usual places, an eagle, fishermen, and an early sailboat. There’s a delightful breeze. There is a lot of bird activity in the trees at that level in the morning.
Our stairway to the second floor is a spiral from Stair-Pak in Pennsylvania. It’s all oak, and arrived in pieces, each numbered so that there would be no mistakes putting it together. It went together easily and looks great. Make sure you check with them before you buy elsewhere.
Our stairway to the third floor was designed and built by our friend Scott Ziegler – a true craftsman.
Lee designed and built the bannisters out of a slab of cherry. He built our coffee nook and storage under the stairs from excess flooring. The risers and sides of the staircase still need finish work and painting.
And Lee built new handrails on the second floor landing in the cottage. He hated the ones that were there. The railings sit on metal rods which screw into the floor for easy removal — convenient for carrying furniture up and down and into the two rooms on the second floor. Also for spanning a ladder over the stairwell when painting the ceiling and walls or placing a light fixture.
Ah – and then there are the outdoor steps complete with Lee’s wife’s family goddess which traveled from China by plane on the lap of his father-in-law. Now she protects our home and our families. Later she will stand at the door of his son’s home and hopefully she will continue to bless my boys and their loved ones as her own.
Just a brief aside. We received our Certificate of Occupancy yesterday. Thank you to everyone who worked with us!