Windex Pleasures

Today, I cleaned windows at the Cross House.


I love clean windows. For, it’s an easy task offering instant rewards. From inside the house, everything just looks better. From outside, the house looks so much better, too; so loved. When one walks or drives by, the windows sparkle.

After buying the Cross House in 2014, the first thing I did was begin a program of cleaning all the windows. It was evident that this had not happened for a very long time, and many windows required scraping with a straight-edge razor.

The results though were impressive. The house, almost at once, transferred from forlorn and abandoned-looking into, well, something alive.

While my devotion to the Cross House is intense, the price paid is the house I live in. Pre-Cross House, my house was immaculate. Post-Cross House, my house annually approaches ever more slum-like conditions. While the lawn at the Cross House is mowed regularly and edged, my lawn now looks like a wild prairie. A few years ago I even received a Mow Notice from the city. Oh dear. My exterior paint job used-to-be crisp and immaculate. Today, I am a witness to years of effort slowing peeling off the house and falling like dead leaves to the ground. My windows once sparkled. But yesterday I suddenly realized, to my horror, that they had not been cleaned since I purchased the Cross House. OMG, it was four years, at least, since my own windows were clean? At once I had to admit: I had, officially, become white trash.

Yesterday, I stood in my bathroom, looking at the window. This window was really bad. It has one of those aluminum storm windows on it with triple tracks. So, in order to clean the window, I have to remove the storm window (requiring a ladder and screwdriver). Only then can I clean the outside of the window stashes. But then the storm window has to be taken apart so I can clean its glass. Then the storm needs to be put back together, hauled back in place, and re-screwed. And in a few months all this should be done again for optimum sparkleness.

And this is why the bathroom window had not been cleaned in, I estimated with a groan, six years.

I am a bad person.

I have looked at the bathroom window countless times these past years and thought: CLEAN THAT! But then I would think of the work involved (ladder, screwdriver, effort) and how such work would have to be repeated a few months hence…and shrug. Maybe I’ll do it…next week.

But yesterday I had an idea. A brilliant idea.

Why not remove the aluminum storm window, which I have always hated, and…not…replace…it?

My heart soared at the idea!


I raced to get a ladder.

Ten minutes later the window sparkled.

Then I walked into the kitchen, which has two side-by-side windows. A few days previously I cleaned the left window. But the right window had one of the evil aluminum storms on it. The window was dark with dirt, and spiders had created a lacework of webs between the storm and window glass.

But now I knew what to do!

Ten minutes later the storm was banished and the right window sparkled.

I put the storms in storage and will only replace them when the house goes up for sale.

Today, as I walked around my house, I marveled at the difference in having, once again, sparkly windows.

And for now, for now, I am perhaps not entirely white trash.



  1. Tony Bianchini on May 5, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    I feel the same way about mowing my expansive (6 acre) yard = instant results/gratification and it looks perfect (for about 2 days).

    • Ross on May 5, 2018 at 8:57 pm

      SIX acres?

      I would jump off a bridge!

  2. Cindy Belanger on May 5, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    The Cross House windows look spectacularly sparkly. You are not a bad person. With the size of the Cross House and the renovations you are doing and trying to take care of your other house too, it’s impossible to keep both up to par. Hang in there.

  3. Karen Spencer on May 5, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    When can you move into Cross House Ross? We have those same triple windows in our 1923 house. You seem like an extremely good person!

  4. Devyn on May 5, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    Nothing makes a house feel more beautiful than clean windows.

  5. Cindy Abernathy on May 6, 2018 at 1:27 am

    I love the coral porch ceiling. GORGEOUS!

  6. Andrea on May 6, 2018 at 7:31 am

    I grew up in a house with those accursed aluminum storm windows. My mother hated them and swore they were invented soley for the purpose of giving spiders a place to live and build webs. BANISH THEM!! good for you Ross!

  7. Carolyn on May 6, 2018 at 9:02 am

    There is a reason that the people who built these homes often had a staff of servants. NO ONE alone could possibly maintain a house this size by themselves. I think you do an amazing job. My mind is constantly blown by the things you accomplish. BTW, I’ve lived in my house 20 years and some of the upstairs windows have never been cleaned on the outside because I don’t own a ladder tall enough!

  8. JET Texas on May 6, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I’ve never cleaned my windows from the outside. All my homes have had sun screens on them which, like storm windows, provide nice shelter for bugs. I would need to unscrew each screen, and that is too much work. I blast them with the hose from time to time, but that is the best I can do.

  9. SEB on May 6, 2018 at 10:29 am

    oh, window!
    picking up the sky
    light curving eye
    jewels of the house.

    • Cindy Abernathy on May 6, 2018 at 1:19 pm


      • SEB on May 6, 2018 at 8:55 pm


  10. Jakob on May 6, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    I cannot stress clean windows enough. Just cannot. I’m a Realtor and it’s always something I tell my sellers to do, and even the “I don’t need to/there’s nothing wrong with my house” tough sellers are amazed at the results of a professions window cleaning. And up here in the PNW a little extra light makes a huge difference!

    Sidenote: Ever thought about picking up a used bucket truck? If I had a house that big, might be worth dropping a few thousand on one! Getting to ever surface and keeping those dozens of windows sparkling would be a million times easier.

  11. Randy C on May 7, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Hi Ross, I believe I mentioned this once before, either on this blog or when I was visiting the Cross House but please, please do not use Windex or any other commercial glass cleaning products on your beautiful stained glass windows. The chemicals in commercial products can discolor the lead and over time cause it to weaken which results in saggy, bowed windows. Some warm water and a little dish soap will do an excellent job with no ill effects.

    I am admittedly just an amateur stained glass hobbyist of many years, so please confirm this with the experts who are restoring your windows but I am very certain they will agree.

    BTW, that picture of the sparkly clean curved windows in your parlor is amazing!!

  12. Mike on May 7, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    I am with you 100% on the clean windows, dirty ones drive me crazy. I am removing all of the aluminum storms on our house, and restoring the wood windows with no intention of putting the storms back. My grandma was a window-cleaning fanatic; I nearly had a stroke one day when I drove up and caught her (at the age of 91) on a step ladder with a spray bottle and a sack of newspapers, washing her dining room windows. Her formula (and mine) was a solution of one part apple-cider vinegar to three parts water. The newspapers will make them shine with nary a streak, although they can be an issue if your sashes are white…

  13. glenn on May 21, 2018 at 7:01 am

    When I met her she was a beauty queen
    Who wanted something more
    Now she’s hanging out with me in front of the liquor store
    And it won’t start when I shut it off
    So she has to get the beer
    She puts it in the back seat
    And she quietly says to me
    When, exactly, did we become white trash
    How come we have seven dogs living in the garage
    How come the only eight track in our car is Johnny Cash
    When, exactly, did we become white trash
    And she tells everybody that I’ve got my Phd
    But it stands for Post Hole Digger
    It ain’t exactly a degree
    And there’s curtains on the window
    And we hardly watch tv
    And that double wide is triple wide
    Now that’s she’s with me
    And she says
    When, exactly, did we become white trash
    How come we got seven dogs
    And who burned down the garage
    How come the only eight track in our car is Johnny Cash
    When, exactly, did we become white trash
    Girls: When, exactly, did we become white trash
    Boys: When, exactly, did we become white trash
    When, exactly, did we become white trash

    Fred Eaglesmith

  14. Carl on May 22, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    The windows in my 1909 house have not been cleaned proper in at least 40 years. The previous owner told me if I keep up sheers no one will notice. I tried cleaning one. It took hours with prying open trim etc. I figured at this rate by the time I finished the near 100 windows I would need to start all over again. The sheers look so pretty.

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