The Cross House
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.
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.
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.