My Windows

1314457723-800pxShe must have smelled the ammonia. The only time I use it is when I am washing windows.

“Hold up a minute,” my wife said.


“I want you to promise me something.”


“No swearing.”

She knows I swear creatively whenever I wash the windows. It is just something I do. It is who I am.

“Look,” I told her, “we moved to the country so I could swear as loud as I want.”

She shook her head no.

“Go to town if you don’t want to hear me.”

Again she shook her head no.

“Even if I am in town,” she explained, “I will know you are swearing.”

“I promise,” I said, placing my hand on my heart, “if you go to town, I will not swear.”

“You’re lying.”

“Pretend I’m not.”

“Why can’t you control your temper?”

I didn’t say a thing. I simply waited for her to leave. What I would have said had she listened is that the old aluminum track windows on our house were designed by Satan himself.

Many consider them his best work.

Face it, aluminum track windows were a fad that lasted only as long as it took the public to realize that only the people who sold them could work them.

With one exception.

I doubt the windows on our house ever worked: even for the sales rep. Currently, every storm window on our house is jammed – at a different height and unique angle.

It is not that they refuse to move, it is just that if you want them to slide up, they fall down and if you want them to come down, they will only go up.

Even though I have managed to take them down and put them up repeatedly, I still spend a full morning trying to figure out how they come apart and an entire afternoon figuring out how they go together.  Contrary to what a rational person might believe, putting track windows together is NOT the reverse of taking them apart. It is an entirely new branch of physics. One that will never be fully understood.

But every spring and every fall, I manage to do it – but not without swearing nor injury. My wife knows this and despite her protests, she knows not to be around when I wash windows.

She pulled into the driveway just as I came around the house after cleaning the last window.

“I bet you swore all afternoon,” she accused.

“Not once,” I said with all the sincerity I could muster.

“Don’t you lie to me, Mister!!”

I let it go… and headed for the garage to put the squeegee and ladder away.

A few minutes later she called from her sewing room.

“What?” I yelled back.

“Have you put your cleaning stuff away?”


“This window is streaked and I refuse to look at streaks all winter.”


“Gotcha,” she shouted in triumph, “you can’t lie to me!”

Author: Almost Iowa

34 thoughts on “My Windows”

  1. When we bought our current house, it was in terrible condition. The first thing we did was replace all the windows, since they leaked. I stood on ladders for years to wash most of them, until the day I discovered that (with the exception of the sliders) they all tilt in for convent washing from inside the house. Not sure why the guy who sold us the windows didn’t mention that one! Or maybe he did and I just forgot….

  2. “Look . . . we moved to the country so I can swear as loud as I want.” Funny! And one of the best perks of living in the country.

  3. I still swear although our windows, for the most part, don’t open. It’s real hard to keep them clean (salt air and all) so they need to be done weekly. When we built the house I insisted on being albe to reach all windows from a normal standing position. Mission accomplished on all but two.

  4. I have found the answer. No storm windows. I did the calculation to find our how much less insulation I would have without storm windows, and how much that would cost in annual heating bills (it might be more in Minnesota), and it came to $148.97 per year. I decided that was a cheap price to pay.

    (The above is a lie, but that’s OK, because you are a man, so it doesnt matter. Just dont show this to your wife, or mine).

    1. Last week, our propane dealer came out to fill our tank. When I complained about the jammed storm windows, he smiled. Now I see that he bought himself a 20 ft bass boat with live-wells and a refrigerator. I hope the two are not related.

      Don’t worry, what is said between guys, stays between guys – even though the women always find out.

  5. We replaced all of our track windows with casements, a few years ago. We thought they would be easier to clean. They aren’t. They just represent a different set of issues. When cranked they get stuck in the most awkward and impossible positions for reaching outside surfaces.

      1. Oh, I’m really looking forward to that! Well, on the upside, I could get rid of curtains, since no one will be able to see in. And I won’t have to clean them any more since I won’t be able to see out anyway.

  6. I am laughing only because I have not yet pulled out the ladder to wash windows. I detest the job, especially since, an hour later (OK, I may be exaggerating a bit, but not by much), the windows appear unwashed. We live along a busy street.

    Some of our windows are of the variety you name. Horrible. I told my husband the other day, as the sun tried to shine through the dirty living room window, that someone needs to invent self-cleaning windows. He mentioned something about something race car drivers place on their windshields. A film of something. I am vague here. I did not listen closely enough. Unlike your wife. She is a clever one.

    1. “We live along a busy street”

      Wouldn’t you know it, I no sooner got the windows washed than our township decided to dump more “gravel” on our road. About 30 belly dumper trucks (the big ones that look like a bridge) have flown by so far, dumping “gravel” which is really dust since there are no pebbles in it, not even sand grains. It is what the quarry calls “fines”.

  7. I haven’t wrestled with the windows you describe, but remember well the ritual of removing wood-framed screens each fall and replacing them with storm windows. Chores like that I remember fondly because they represent the years I was physically capable of that hefty labor and, more significantly, thought I had endless time remaining for more pleasureable pursuits.

    1. Changing the wooden storms bring back memories of my dad. These things were rituals that he enjoyed passing on. I am not sure what I am passing on by cussing at the track windows – but fortunately there are no children around when I do it. 🙂

  8. I know those windows very well. You described them beautifully. I think swearing, not only should be allowed, I think it’s required. They won’t respond to anything less.

  9. White vinegar works a treat on windows – I’ve watched the wife do it hundreds of times…the place ends up smelling like a fish & chip shop though. My wife has just added that a cheap plastic fuselage of cola cleans the toilet bowl to perfection…not that you wanted to know that of course – it does make one wonder what it does to the lining of the stomach though!

  10. One of the great rituals of my childhood was the washing and changing of windows: taking down the screens and putting up the storm windows in fall, reversing it in the spring. With a two-story house, that’s the only time the windows got washed, believe me. I still have a photo of my dad up on the ladder, engaged in the process. It was made a bit harder by the fact that the windows, screens, and storm windows all were wood, and heavy.

    He’d swear, too. The only other times I heard him swear involved plumbing, or an occasional explective that involved taking the Lord’s name in vain. Whenever he was being given the business by my mom about his language, he inform her that was “technical vocabulary,” and necessary for the successful completion of the job.

    1. Oh, I remember that wooden storm window ritual well. My favorite part was the reglazing. We would paint the old glaze with alcohol then light it. The blue flame would circle around the window and curl the old glaze. I got to be quite an expert with a putty knife.

      Fond memories.

  11. “What I would have told her had she listened is that the old aluminum track windows on our house were designed by Satan himself. Many consider them his best work” — a hilarious highlight of a great post!

    1. The only object that rivals aluminum windows for Satan’s best work is the bewildering bristle of buttons on the remote control that operates our satellite TV box. It is a glimpse of hell.

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