The least of our problems was the broken window glass in the basement stairwell door, which I “temporarily” fixed with blue painters tape. Last week, I decided to do the job right.
I’d done a lot of old-house renovations over 30+ years. Replacing a window would be no biggie, I thought.
Here’s how it went:
Hour 1: I start to remove the old glaze. How hard could it be? Answer: Like chipping away concrete with a toothpick.
Hour 2: I watch some DIY YouTube videos. Lacking the special products and tools shown, I continue to chip away the concrete.
Hours 3-5: Chip, chip.
Hour 6: The glaze is gone, as is my enthusiasm. Later that evening, I say to my husband, Michael, “I wish I had never started this project.” He replies, “I wish you never did, either.”
Hour 7: I watch YouTube on removing broken window glass. How hard could it be? Answer: Never ask that question.
I put on goggles and work gloves, and begin to wiggle the broken fragment out of the bottom corner. I realize that if the rest of the glass falls out, it will drop on my bare arm. I stop, look at my arm affectionately and go get a heavy old winter coat.
The broken piece comes out easily. Hah! How hard can the rest of it be? Answer: When will you learn?
I follow a YouTube suggestion to cover the remaining glass with duct tape. Then I tap the glass with a hammer to break it into small, easily removable pieces, just like the first piece. I tap harder. I stand at arm’s length and bang. Bang again and again.
It occurs to me that the duct tape is doing its job of preventing breakage. So I pull my coat over my glove, turn away, scrunch up my eyes, and THWACK! The glass gives way, crashing into the space between the interior and exterior doors.
Hour 8: After cleaning up the mess, I measure the window opening to within a 16th of an inch. Michael would be so proud. I head to the hardware store for new glass, and a young guy puts it in my car. At home, I put on my winter coat to carry it inside.
Hour 9: I set out some glazing points (metal slivers you push into the wood frame to secure the glass) and gingerly lift the arm-amputator into the opening.
It’s too small. Shit. But only barely, so I proceed.
Holding the glass in place with one gloved hand, I reach for the points and drop them on the floor. I’m afraid to bend over, putting my head in guillotine position, but I’m more afraid to remove the glass. I have visions of Michael coming home from work to find me standing in a puddle of pee, hand pressed against the window. I choose to stretch down for the points and rise triumphant, head intact.
When I finish setting the points, it’s clear the glass is indeed too small. That night, I reluctantly tell Michael I screwed up the measurement, but he’s got a trick to make it work. And it does.
Hour 10: I watch YouTube on applying glaze. How hard… oh, never mind. Locating two containers of glaze in the basement, I open them to find they’re hard as my hammer. Shit.
Back at the hardware store, an associate hands me a can of window glaze. “Good luck with that,” he says with a slight smirk. His expression suggests he’ll have a chuckle later, thinking of me glazing a window.
Hah! You don’t know me, I think as I walk out.
Hour 11: I attempt to apply the glaze. Check YouTube. Try glazing again. Go back to YouTube. I must have missed some details. Try again. Admit defeat. Sh**.
Hour 12: That night Michael shows me how to apply the glaze and I finish the job.
I hang ivory-colored blinds on the inside of the door. The stairwell glows, as do I. When I finish any house project, I spend some time sitting with it, taking it in, appreciating my handiwork. Perched on the steps, I reflect on the simple adventures of my well nested life.
Glazing out the window, I realize it’s not so hard after all.
(Michael wants me to add that this adventure of mine has redeemed him from a former post. I told him he’s still not getting out of a trip to the fabric store some day.)
— Karen DeBonis
Karen DeBonis blogs about her wild adventures as a homebody, including writing (aka avoiding housework), meditating (aka napping) and serving a nightly smorgasbord to deer and other critters in her yard (aka gardening). She lives in a wonderfully emptied nest in upstate New York with her husband of 34 years.