The past couple of mornings, I have sat at my computer in the room I call my office at home and looked out the windows to see the sun. Well, I have kind of seen the sun. In order to see the sun, I have had to look through the dirt and cobwebs that now coat the windows like a stick-on film. You see, I don’t do windows.
When we moved into the house, now 25 years ago, the windows were a significant factor in our decision to buy it. There are lots and lots of windows in the house, and lots of windows mean lots of light, and both Max and I like lots of light. But lots of windows also mean lots of windows to wash. The real problem is that I am simply not skilled at getting windows clean.
I have read instructions about never washing windows on a sunny day and about using newspaper rather than a cloth to do the cleaning. I have even copied a “recipe” for a soap mixture that I found on Facebook. But when it comes right down to it, I can’t get the panes sparkling clear. After I finish the job, I sit back to admire the fruits of my labor, and instead find streak after streak after streak. That is frustrating.
After a few attempts, I enlisted Max as the resident window-washer; he is much more detail oriented than I, and his artist’s hands are better suited to getting into the nooks and crannies of the panes and mullions. But even he had problems. Then we attacked the windows together, he on the outside and I on the inside. That seemed to work much better, but it is such a big job, that we have to reserve a day to get it done.
Well, we haven’t made that reservation for a while. And it shows. I can overlook the windows in the dining room and living room, because the sun doesn’t hit them quite so directly. Looking at those windows is kind of like looking in a mirror at an angle in order to avoid seeing the new wrinkles that have popped up over the previous month. It works pretty well for a time, but then, even the angle shows what I try to avoid seeing. There’s no escaping the upstairs windows, though. There is no angle. What I see is what I get, and right now, I’m getting light that filters through the aforesaid dirt and cobwebs.
It’s almost enough to make me feel guilty. But after all, this summer has not been conducive to cleaning windows; the seemingly never-ending rain would have made window-washing futile. And when the rain stopped, the steam started. Who could be expected to work outside in such heat and humidity? And then Emily came for a few days, but we wouldn’t spend her visit cleaning house; we get to see her too infrequently. We’ve had two nice days in a row – but those were work days! We couldn’t take off work to wash windows!
These mental tussles about housecleaning items are beginning to wear thin. Several years ago, I embarked on a housekeeping plan that included both vacuuming and washing windows. It was the “card system.” One color card indicated chores that were to be done daily. Another color showed weekly chores, another color showed monthly jobs, and so on. Window washing was coded “yearly.” I can’t remember how long the card system lasted, but working full time and raising a small child interfered almost immediately. I decided that the child and the job were more important than a fastidiously clean house. Fortunately, Max agreed with me. He thought he probably should, because had he not agreed, he could have been the one designated to follow the cards’ instructions.
Now, however, although we are still working full time, we aren’t raising a child. Perhaps it’s time that the window washing finds its way to the top of the “to-do” list. I’ll let you know.
Deborah Mitchell is a a local attorney and a Municipal Court Judge.