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3.17.2012

WINDOWS, WINDOWS AND MORE WINDOWS

I have bought quite a few houses in my lifetime.  The very first house I bought cost $34,000 in 1987.  Certain makes and models of cars can easily cost that amount and more now.  I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that for $34,000 you sleep and LIVE in a house, but sit and DRIVE a car.  Every house, with the exception of maybe one, I have liked something about.  Every house though, no matter the great qualities they might have had, usually had an issue here or there, or sometimes many!   One house I bought had old "Florida" windows.  Florida windows are named that because they are aluminum (not great in the Midwest in cold temperatures), single-paned sliding windows used predominantly in the south where weather conditions are not as cold.  They conducted heat and cold like a thin hot pad that needed to be thrown away.  They also didn't lock, which was a bit creepy.  In the deep winter of northern Indiana an actual thick plate of ice would form on the inside of the aluminum window frame.  After the first summer and winter with those windows they were replaced with energy efficient double hung tilt-in vinyl clad windows with LOCKS!  I felt much safer.  A few houses later I again found myself in a house with shitty windows.  A couple of those windows also did not lock.  And the ones that did, were warped and left a bit of a gap at the top.  Once again I found myself needing to replace all the windows in a house.  It seems that much like the lifespan of a roof, windows too have a lifespan.  What was it about me that kept buying houses that had things either mechanically or structurally that were at the end of their life.  I had a soft spot, an optimistic and creative bent toward fixing up older things.  To making them come alive again.  When I bought this wonderful 1954 brick house I presently live in I knew there was a myriad of things that needed a loving, up-to-date touch.  There was not a single-paned painted window in this house that I could get open.  I guess the previous owners, in their mid-nineties and with poor circulation, evidently never needed to open a window.  Try as I might, using my brute strength and even resorting to banging on the edge of the wood part of the window with a hammer, they would not open.  I did though manage to crack one of them in my angered, furious and desperate attempts to get some outside air in the house.  With their 1950's life fully lived, I had to replace the windows.  When my brother-in-law came to install the new beautiful windows I purchased he assumed he could open the old ones to remove them.  He could not get them open either.  The task of replacing them became a bit more tedious as each window had to be cut out with a Saws-All.  I replaced every window in this house, except for the four basement windows.  They too needed replacing, but since money doesn't grow on the trees around my house, I opted to wait.  Yesterday morning I went down to the basement and turned the corner to see one of the basement windows hanging from its perch.  I immediately froze fearing that someone had entered the basement and was lurking down there.  A brief episode of 48 Hours Mystery played in my head.  Even though technically it is a "tip in" style basement window, it was not supposed to be open.  After a quick look around I realized there was no entry by a human just by a few mice and a host of bugs!  That 1950's metal window I had jimmy-rigged, caulked and foamed had finally given up the ghost and rusted out.  We wedged it back in temporarily and I called the window company yet again.

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