Monday, October 24, 2011

Second Story Windows

bottle of Windex
roll of paper towel
sturdy wooden chair
one 20' ladder
razor blade scraper
brad nails
2nd roll paper towel
trash can (empty often)
putty knife
glazing compound
3rd roll paper towel
husband to move ladder
2nd bottle Windex
felt weather stripping
wood stain and brush
spoon to remove dirt from glazing compound

In the long list of benefits living in an old house offers me, "washing windows" is not included. Yes, new windows, fabulous vinyl replacements, are an option for many, but I am a bit stubborn. Entrenched actually. Preservation and restoration.

Our upper sashes are 'permanently' held in place by 113 years of weathering and maintenance, freeze and thaw, dust and varnish. Unlike my more open-minded sisters with vinyl replacements,
I wash four of my second story windows from porch tops, crawling out and standing on pitched roofs, one foot lower than the other. Washing the exteriors of the six remaining second-story windows requires climbing a 20' ladder, perching at the top to wash and glaze. Precarious positions for a woman with hips as old as mine.

A previous owner protected the windows with storms, so in addition to the original stationary upper sash and removable lower sash, I wash upper
and lower glass panels from the storms, their 'combination' screens, and the tiny dirt-
catching channels
that align and combine screen with glass.
(Add Q-tips to supply list above.)

There are chance encounters with box elder bugs, spiders, bees, wasps, tiny black flying bugs the spiders seems to enjoy, and those lady-bug looking insects that are not really ladylike or lady bugs at all.

There are random and annoying smudges of white paint on clean glass, created by Windex resting too long on the metal frames of the storms. There are paint splatters older than the storms, crisp dry paint waiting patiently on the exterior of the upper sash, removed by the simple scrape of a razor blade. How did I miss those last time?

There are dents and dings, tiny places where finish is scrapped away from wood, blemishes left by my unpracticed hammering of brad nails that hold the stops in place. With delicate brush strokes, these blemishes will be covered with Minwax Woodfinish 210B Golden Oak or Red Mahogany 225 - whichever is a better match. I size and cut felt weather stripping, placing it into the voids and spaces inherent in old windows.

There is a dusting of fine black dirt atop the glazing compound after the open container falls from the top of the ladder and lands in the freshly turned soil of the flower bed. Before replacing the lid, I scrape the misty blackness from the snow white paste with a kitchen spoon.

There are challenges to overcome - my fear of heights and aversion to spiders, the dirt in the glazing compound. The work is physical and intricate, taking days longer than I'd planned.

On this beautiful autumn day, when the sun streams in through clean vintage glass, I am grateful for the physical stamina to do the work and the undeniable satisfaction of a job well done.

Moses did everything just as the LORD commanded him.

God gave Moses a long and intricate list of tasks to accomplish, and the stamina to do the job well.

I am grateful.


brad nails
window sash

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