Not long ago, I came across a house that was set back some distance uphill from the street. The house itself was rather charming, but this is how you got to the front door: Assuming you spotted the narrow flight of concrete steps hidden among the shrubs and didn't clamber up the driveway instead -- as most baffled visitors did -- you were rewarded with an additional hike over uneven and badly spaced stepping stones that drifted aimlessly up the hill. At the last minute, the route swerved to avoid a huge tree and then just barely squeezed you in at the foot of another narrow, L-shaped stair leading up to the front porch. Climbing up to the first landing got you an excellent close-up view of the electric meter, the gas meter, and a tangle of assorted power and telephone lines, alo...
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