As part of the 2015 Heritage Trust grant, about 2/3 of the 42 stained-glass windows in the Cross House are being restored. The last set to be done as part of the grant are the five in the dining room. There is one VERY long one in the middle, two curved ones, and two flat ones.

Because I have now removed so many stained-glass windows I now know what I wish I had known in the beginning: The panels are easy to remove…if you know how. However, because the Cross House did not come with a Magical Maintenance Manual, one just, it is is hoped, figures things out eventually.

Last summer I thought that taking out just the actual glass panels out would be easier, as it had proved way too difficult getting the surrounding wood sashes out. This proved a terrifying bad idea, as I detailed here.

After that heart-attack-inducing-terror I thought: There just has to be a better way of getting the damn stained-glass panels out.

And so it proved, there was.




On Sunday, I started to remove the five stained-glass windows in the dining room. I now know that the glass AND wood sash should be removed together. Previously, I tried removing the stained-glass from the outside. This was my mistake. For, inside, there are narrow, wide pieces of trim which effortlessly come off. And the windows, with no effort, will then fall towards me. A miracle!



And fall toward me some more. Whoee!



With less then ten minutes of effort this stained-glass panel and sash were out!



And its condition is poor. There are two holes which somebody filled with Bondo, and other holes are just unfilled.



The center though is a glory, and in pretty good condition.






I then moved on to one of the two curved panels. These cannot, as I have learned from painful experience, be removed from the comfort of inside. Because they curve. And the wood window frame is narrower on the inside than it is on the outside.


The curved windows are held in place by three pieces of 1×1 trim on the exterior. The two sides pieces come off reasonably easily, although they tend to split. This does not freak me out because somebody told me about an amazing invention called glue.

The top piece of trim has a bunch of cuts in it to allow the curve. As such, they just fall totally apart. Because I now know to expect this I don’t freak out.

With the three trim pieces out, the window should have easily inched toward me and out. One minute and it would be in my hands.

But minutes ticked by. And no inching. Then ten minutes. No inching. Then a half hour. And no inching.


The window appeared stuck but this made no sense as I could see a thin line of daylight along the bottom and other sides.

More minutes continued ticking by. And no inching. Then almost an hour. No inching.

Nothing I did seemed to make any difference. I kept thinking: I am not trying to build a rocket ship to the moon! It is just a damn wood sash!

My extremely high level of anger and frustration is unusual when it come to the Cross House. I have always been blessed with a Budda-like calm when it comes to old houses. I am not, sadly, like this in most other areas of my life.

To me, an old house is like a puppy. The puppy will do stupid, aggravating thing like going potty on your Oriental rug and chewing into a million bits the damask pillow on the sofa. But you don’t get mad. Not really, because that is what puppies do, and any anger is offset by the intoxicating built-in cuteness of the puppy.

BAD PUPPY is instantly mitigated by CUTE PUPPY! And how can a heart not just melt at viewing a guilty-looking puppy face, and thumping tail?





So, while there are countless aggravating tasks when restoring an old house I normally just take all this in stride.

But not Sunday.

Now, I don’t recall how I finally figured out the problem, but it proved that some idiot, no, some ass, had hammered about a half-dozen nails into the bottom of the sash.

Why? Why? Why?

The sash is firmly held in place with wood trim in and out. It ain’t going anywhere.

The sawzall was found, a metal blade inserted, and the offensive nails cut. The window AT LAST slipped out.

I was so thoroughly aggravated that I just left the house.



A new day.

There were three windows still to remove. Another curved one, and two small flat ones.

I began on the east flat one. The interior trim pieces came away easily, but the window refused to drop towards me. I fussed I pulled I hammered and again grew incredibly frustrated.

Now, as you read these words you will want to yell at me the obvious problem: THE WOOD SASH IS NAILED IN!!!!!!!!

Yes, I should have figured this out STAT because I discovered the same damn thing just the day before. But the solution never occurred to me.

And the reason why my brain was fried is because of what happened Sunday evening.

After leaving the Cross House on Sunday, I went to my office to tend to business. I noticed that was coughing just a bit, and felt a bit dizzy. Damn, I thought, I might be getting the flu.

As the evening wore on I found that I could concentrate less and less, so I went to bed to read a book. And with less than a minute in bed, encased in long underwear from head to to, and under a $500 Hungarian goose-down quilt, I started shivering. Really shivering. Shivering as if all the blood in my body has been replace with ice water.

The shivering would not stop. It looked like I was having some sort of seizure.

I threw the quit off me, and the 72-degree-heated-air of the bedroom felt like I was in a freezer unit in a restaurant. I ran to put on a  wool cap over by bald head, my leather coat on, all zipped up, and a scarf wrapped around my neck. Then I raced back into bed.

My brain was so addled that I could not read, and just turn the lights off.

Sleep was fitful, but at least the convulsive shivering subsided.

On Monday morning I felt like hell. My body was now, it was obvious, 140-years-old, and felt like a truck had run over it repeatedly. My brain felt compressed, hurt, and packed in cotton. I was walking like a 140-year-old man.

Managing to get into the car, I got medicine. Then I took a LONG hot shower. And actually felt much better. Well, at least my body felt better; my brain was still not working.

A sensible person would have stayed home. But a sensible person would never have purchased the Cross House.

Thus, on Monday afternoon I was up a ladder struggling with the damn damn damn east window. And then after a agonizing half-hour my brain managed, with great effort no doubt, to remind me of the day previous. In mid-struggle a single word popped into my head: nails.

Then a second thought: idiot.

The sawzall was put back to work, and after MORE damn damn damn nails were sliced the east window popped out.



I jiggled and banged on and shook the window so much that its already poor condition grew worse.


Then I was able to remove the second curved stained-glass window, and, on Tuesday, the fifth. These were not nailed, praise the Lord, and fell easily to me.

Today I dropped them off at Hoefer Stained Glass for restoration. The trip was an hour-and-a-half each way and this proved almost too much. I survived because of:

  • The car was heated.
  • My seat was heated.
  • I was listing to an audible book.

I had just finished back-to-back intense biographies (Alexander Hamilton and George Washington) so knew that today I would need something much lighter. I selected Florence Grace. This proved a good choice in my condition.

I have not done the dishes since Sunday morning. Today I forced myself to wash the sheets, three days past their due date. My office is a mess. Even worse? The Cross House is also a mess. The ladder is where I left it, as are all the tools, and the floors unswept. A horror, I know!

Today, after getting back home around one, I went right to bed, after taking another hit of Dayquil. It is now 6:15PM, I am fully clothed, wearing a leather jacket, scarf, and wool cap while typing these words. In a moment I am going to crawl back to bed.

I have spellchecked but have no idea of how well I did.




  1. Lea on December 14, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    I hope and pray that you’ll be back in top form, Ross. *warm hug*

  2. RaeJean Lepird on December 14, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Oh, Ross, please do take care of yourself! Your readers can survive a few days without new blog entries while you focus on feeling better. ❤

  3. [email protected] on December 14, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    This has truly been a week from hell. Hope your recovery is swift! I’m never a fan of fruit motifs, but that beveled decanter is really something special.

  4. Blair Carmichael on December 14, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Give yourself a health and welfare day, you don’t want to get sicker and die because your windows are out and would never find their way back! ????

  5. Vicki F on December 14, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    I am a bit relieved. The title of this post was disconcerting right from the start, then finding out the subject matter (removing stained glass windows) I just KNEW as I kept scrolling down that you were gonna’ tell us that one fell out and broke. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very sorry you’re sick, but so glad all the windows are safe. God speed on your road to good health!

  6. Cindi M on December 14, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    Please rest. Please take care of yourself. Your post took me back decades ago when we lost Jim Henson. Rest. Please rest.

  7. Chad on December 15, 2016 at 6:13 am

    This scared the bajeesus out of me because in my WordPress reader all I could see was the title and broken stained glass

  8. Derek on December 15, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Yes, get better. And, that decanter and glass of wine! Wow, that is great.

  9. Californianinkansas on December 15, 2016 at 10:06 am

    I hope you feel better soon! Please be gentle towards yourself!

  10. Barbara Toncheff on December 15, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Please take care of yourself Ross! I JUST discovered your interview on YouTube and can’t tell you enough how much I enjoyed it and may God bless you for what you’re doing. I grew up in a three story turreted Victorian with a slate roof but sadly she is “gone” now. I did manage to talk the owner/developer into letting myself and my two brothers have a walk through of our childhood home prior to demolition even though we hadn’t lived there for 20 years! Very surreal considering the past owner (who also grew up in the house but bought it back) didn’t do much so it was like walking through a time capsule. I was so upset when I heard about the demolition I wrote an essay basically making the home an “animate” object and shared it with all the city’s dignitaries just to let them know just how much that fortress meant to me growing up in it, especially considering my mother died when I was 3 years old. It wasn’t nearly as large or as elaborate as the Cross house but you of all people must understand how something made of mere plaster, wood and stone can enter your soul and never ever leave! I look forward to following you and your labor of love! Godspeed my dear kindred soul!

  11. Farlena on December 15, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Barbara, sorry about your house! Hope you have a lovely picture of it.

    Really loved the wine glass window Ross.

    Tomorrow’s Friday…. let us know what the doctor says ~

  12. David Paolinellie on December 15, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    Ross, a warm cup of tea with whiskey before bed should warm you and do the trick. Or perhaps a warm cup of wine with a lil bit of clove. Try this sure to warm you and help you sleep. You will feel better in the morning. So glad you won the battle with your windows. Hope you feel better soon too. 😉

  13. Ross on December 16, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Hi everybody!

    Thanks for all the kind, supportive words. They warm my heart, and I need every ounce of warmth I can get right now.

    I am still reeling from the flu, and each day is a struggle between vertical and horizontal.

    Good news however! I managed to get the dishes done!!!!!!!!

  14. Seth Hoffman on December 21, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Hope you’re feeling much better now.

    Whenever I encounter a frustrating kludge on something original, I try to remind myself of the fortunate that it’s still there, and that kludged original is better than thrown away and replaced.

  15. djd_fr on January 17, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    You did fine other than “listing” a bit. 🙂

    I imagine you are all better now.

    Thanks for the lovely photos of the windows, especially the close-up. Kansas is a bit far from here.

    • Ross on January 17, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      Yes, much better now! Thank you!

  16. Barbara Toncheff on January 17, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Keep going Dear! The locals, nation, American history and those who love them thank you for it! So many monuments of artistic architecture have been razed and destroyed forever replaced by “builder grade”.

    What you are doing may well be in the Smithsonian one day because of unscrupulous land grabbing capitalists!!!

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