My autumn window of opportunity 2015.09.23

Reading this old column from 1995 was both amusing and depressing. I’ve been wrangling with old-fashioned storm windows that long? Up they go every fall; back down to the basement every spring. 

This weekend the tradition should continue because my old windows are still serving their purpose.


I usually think of fall as my favorite season. Not too hot and not too cold. Wonderful colors. A sense of change. Death in the air.

Autumn also brings out The Duties of the Homeowner which makes the season a little less enjoyable. It’s mostly a time to reflect on all that wasn’t accomplished over the summer. I was reminded of this by a story in the Sunday paper.

A checklist of inspections and repairs was offered for the conscientious homeowner. It was an enormous checklist. It mentioned things I never knew existed. Me, the unconscious homeowner.

The onset of cold weather means little more than one word for this homeowner: windows. Most of our windows have built-in storms. That’s easy enough. Pull in the sliding tabs and let the storm window fall.

Well, it’s not always all that easy. There’s one window that’s never easy to reach. You climb under the make-shift desk and try to rise high enough to reach the tabs. One tab always slides easily; the other won’t budge.

And then there was the case of a stubborn bedroom window. I raised the regular window to reach the storm. I lowered the storm with only moderately damaged fingers. I pulled down on the regular window and it wouldn’t budge. Nothing would make it move and I had visions of an open window as the radio weatherman talked about a low of 27 degrees that night.

I had to remove some wood to solve that problem. It made the next chore—putting on the real storm windows on the upstairs front—seem pretty simple.

It’s not hard to put those windows on; it’s just disheartening. I wash them where they’re stored in the basement, watching old glazing drop to the floor at the slightest touch. I carry them to the main floor as paint peels off onto the kitchen floor, leaving a trail to the upstairs.

I shove them part way through the window, climb onto the roof, pull them to the outside and hook them into place. As more glazing drops to the roof.

That’s the great sadness of fall. It’s the end of something. A sense of doom in the air, knowing that freezing temperatures are coming and watching my windows slowly die. It’s a time to think back to warmer times when it was too hot to apply new glaze. It’s the time for a moment of resolve, to pledge that next summer that job will get done.

This Free Press article is really depressing. I was just reminded that I have yet to clean out the eaves, but there’s no reason to do that until the leaves fall. Maybe in November.

Check for peeling paint and touch up. Another reminder of business unfinished. About two-thirds of the back of the house is painted. It wasn’t easy with the peaked roof. I had to tie a rope to the antenna and tie it around my waist. I had to wind it back around the vent stack and make foot loops for support. I had to gaze at the wasp nest two feet from my brush. There’s still time to finish this job before snow falls.

It’s obvious that the guy who wrote the maintenance story doesn’t have a regular newspaper job. He doesn’t really work for a living. He doesn’t have to write sports and sell ads. It would take a year of weekends to make it through his list. I probably have four or five weekends before it’s too cold to bother. As always, I’m sitting here writing about it instead of doing it.

But let me tell you something. I bought some new glazing in July and things have changed. I can face this autumn with a feeling of partial accomplishment. One of those storm windows has a new and decent border of putty that shouldn’t begin falling out until 2001.

My wife said she would do the other one, but it remains cracked and flaking. Mine, unfortunately, remains unpainted, but I’m halfway there. And there’s always next summer.