Thursday, November 25, 2004

Stair Master

Aside from the fact that it is impossible to get anything large up our staircase, I love having stairs in our house. I grew up in a one level ranch. As a kid I always wished we had stairs so that I could do dangerous things, like slide down the banister Mary Poppins-style or down the stairs themselves, encased in a sleeping bag. Stairs add a magical, story-book quality to the house. When we were shopping for our current home, I did not even consider a one-story, and thus stair-less, house.

We are fortunate enough to have two sets of stairs. The first set leads from the basement to the first floor. They are open (no risers) and utilitarian. The cat is terrified of the open risers and so has not explored the basement. The second set of stairs was the subject of the Stairway to Hell entry. They lead from the dining room to the attic bedroom. When we moved into our house, they were covered with disco carpeting. The two bottom stairs/landings had a bonus covering of linoleum beneath the carpet. Beneath the carpet/linoleum, we found decent, hardwood stairs. They currently wear remains of carpet backing and linoleum glue. I plan on refinishing them in January.

My mother refers to the stairs in her house as “The Stair Master.” She claims that they keep her fit. I have found, though, that if you have stairs in your house, you quickly begin to avoid going up and down them, thus nullifying most of the fitness benefits. The following story illustrates how soon stairs become a pain in the behind. This past weekend, I moved Mike’s and my clothing to the attic from the guest room. We still sleep in the guest room, but in order to get dressed, we now have to go upstairs. When Mike couldn’t find his pants, he came downstairs to complain. I then insisted that he go back up with me to see that his pants were indeed in plain sight, in the closet. His response: “How many more times do I have to go up and down the stairs?” My mental answer: “About 6000 more times in the next 3 years.”

Even before I had stairs, I was enchanted with the idea of the stair step basket, which I first saw in a Lillian Vernon catalogue. It is shaped to sit on your stairs and its purpose is to collect the items you will take up or down the next time you deign to make a trip. I think it is such a clever idea. When my mother first moved to her staired house, from our previous ranch, I suggested she get one. Her response? “But then I wouldn’t go up and down my Stair Master!” Her secret: she doesn’t really go up and down every time an item needs to be moved – instead, everything collects on the bottom step, threatening to cause a lethal accident. She could use a basket – and so could I!

The top of our basement steps collect tools, laundry, and garage sale items. The collection has grown since I saw “The Grudge” and have become terrified of the basement at night. The resulting assemblage is now quite hazardous. The top of the attic stairs have conveniently flat newel posts. They hold everything from drinking glasses to (more) laundry. The bottom of the attic stairs is usually free of debris, because there are other horizontal surfaces nearby. The downside of not tripping over items every time I go up the attic stairs is that I forget about them until I’m upstairs and want them. But I still don’t go down to fetch them. I just tell myself that I’ll remember next time I go up.

So, if you want to get me a Christmas/housewarming/”just because” present, I’d love a couple of stair step baskets. They will not interfere with my fitness level. They will improve my home’s safety rating. And they are so darn cute!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snowflake says: Being old and absentminded, I am constantly going up and down stairs to get or return things. I agree with your mother that this is a good thing, as it is one of the few physical activities I do. I still collect small items on the bannister, which I take upstairs periodically.

I hope you will get a couple of stair step baskets, but I will not be getting you one. First, I already have your housewarming gift, plus you may end up with 20!


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