Windows, episode 2

Continuing the story

We moved on to the southeast window.

We already knew that this window was going to be a problem. When we took the shade down we discovered that the glass in the upper sash ended about 1/4 inch below the upper sash frame. No wonder this room is drafty. At some point someone had attempted to fill the gap with putty, but most of that had fallen out, and the east wind blows freely into the room. I thought perhaps someone had installed a new pane that was too small, but this isn’t likely. The bottom frame of the sash has rotted enough to pull loose from the side frames and slip down enough to leave the gap at the top.

But we ignored the upper sash for the moment and proceeded to work on the lower sash. We were able to break the paint seal on the inside reasonably quickly, but the window still did not open. Now it was time to break the seal on the outside.

Because of the slope the house was built on, the ground is considerably lower under the southeast window than it is under the northeast window. I needed something taller than the ladder I had used there, but when I brought the extension ladder around to the window I couldn’t find a place to put its feet. The bricks were in the way.

At some point in the past a chimney, perhaps, had been removed. For whatever reason, instead of hauling the bricks away, or even stacking them neatly, the workers had simply dumped them on the ground below the window. There they lay, some half buried in mud, most tangled in English ivy. The task had become more complicated. Before I could attempt to set up the ladder I had to move bricks, perhaps not all the bricks but many. I started shifting them down the slope and stacking them as neatly as I could a few feet from the house wall.

There were a lot of bricks. After a while Lisa realized that I hadn’t begun working on the window and came down to see what had happened to me. Wisely, she didn’t help with the bricks. Instead she began to clear off a concrete slab that we had noticed, nearly entirely buried, near the southeast corner of the house. She pulled out English ivy vines and scraped dirt and roots, and eventually the entire slab was revealed. It was bigger than we expected, and took some time to clear.

Meanwhile, I had cleared most of the bricks away from the window area and began manouvering the ladder into position. The slope below this window was harder to deal with than had been the case at the other window. I quickly discovered that if both feet of the ladder are firmly planted on the ground, the ladder will be parallel to the side of the house and the top will drop on the ground. I thought that this wouldn’t be very useful. After several fruitless attempts, none of which resulted in having the ladder close enough to the window that I could work, I fetched the old step ladder.

The old step ladder, which we found in the yard when we moved in, is a 10-foot wooden step ladder. It’s not in the most wondrous condition, but it’s sturdy, mostly.

I managed to wedge the old step ladder into a position from which I could reach nearly all the lower sash without a lot of danger of falling, and proceeded to cut the outside paint. Surprisingly, the sash opened reasonably easily. And there we stood, with both windows open, probably for the first time in years.

But by then we were rather tired of windows. It was a clear, bright day, and being outside seemed the best way to finish the day. We spent most of the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the area under the window and around the slab, then built a stone walkway from the garden path to the slab. Both the garbage can and the recycling can now reside on the slab.

[to be continued, perhaps …]


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