Friday, November 5, 2010

Cussometer Reading: Only a "2"!

Wednesday, when my folks were visiting, I asked Dad to help me with the worst storm window of the bunch: the big one on the back porch. I told you about this process last year. Remember? The storm windows out there on the screen porch were salvaged from steamboats by my great-grandpa.

Click here to refresh your memory; there are pictures and everything.

Man, that storm window is heavy. It must weigh about thirty-five or forty pounds. It's about three feet high and five and a half feet wide. Real wood and real glass--yeah--and it's that old-fashioned, warbledy glass from history.

Every year we've lived here, getting that thing in and out--but especially in--has been a pain. It always sticks on one side, and we have often sanded or even planed that edge to get it to fit.

Worse, we usually have a hell of a time getting it to go on both hooks at once. It's a two-person job at best. The bottom part must be held far out beyond the side of the house in order to get the top part on the hooks. Then, the bottom part is pulled inside and locked in place with more hooks.

It's heavy enough that you want to use both arms to hold the bottom edge of the storm. What, then, do you use to move the top part into position on the hooks? Your head? I have actually tried that. (And no, it doesn't work.)

The dialogue usually begins like this:

Person A: Okay . . . I think it's hooked on my side . . . how about yours?

Person B: Nope, I can't get it on. We need to push it out and try again.

(Pushing, lifting, grunting noises; squeaking of metal hooks.)

Person B: Okay, it's hooked on my side. Are you on on yours?

Person A: No, it slipped off and now I can't get it to go on. We've got to lift it out again.

(More pushing, lifting, and grunting; squeaking of metal hooks.)

Person A: Okay, I think it's on on my side . . .

Person B: Dang it! Now it won't fit on my hook again.

(More pushing, lifting, and grunting, etc.)

Person A (or B, take your pick; whichever person represents ME): Okay--hang on--I've got to rest a second, my arms are getting tired . . .

Let the cussing commence. If there's a Person C, he or she stands in the yard, watching. The job of Person C is to let Persons A and B know if the window is actually hooked or not. That knowledge is reassuring when it's time to haul the bottom inward, usually with some real force, since it always sticks.

So even if you can manage to get it on both hooks at once, you sometimes still can't get the window to fit into place. It's at this point that we've unhooked the window, lugged it completely back inside, and run down to the basement for the sandpaper and planer. . . . Then, to start all over again.

For years, now, Sue and I have been rating each fall's back-porch storm-window experience on a scale of 1 to 10 on the "cussometer." Most years, it's about a 7 or 8. Some years, it's been a 9--especially if we're trying to do it after a rain, when the wood swells and makes for a particularly tight fit.

. . . So Wednesday, Dad and I put up that blasted storm window, while Mom reported on our progress from down in the yard.

And--what happened? What did we do? I had been dreading the whole operation--but it was actually very easy this time. Yes, it took us a few tries to get it hooked, but it wasn't very bad.

And then, when we pulled it inward, at first it seemed hopelessly stuck in the usual place; then Dad did something--what??--to the top, on his side, and whoosh! It slid right into place. Did he lift it? Did he push it outward a little right there? He says he doesn't know--he had accidentally gotten his fingers caught at the bottom and was pushing it outward in order to free his hand--and then--

Wow! What did we do?? Was it because I had parted my hair differently that day? Was it the shoes we had on? Was it that I had just drank a Diet Dr. Pepper? --I mean, What??

Ta-dahhh!! It was only about a 2 on the cussometer this year!

I was almost afraid to tell Sue about it that evening; I was afraid she'd feel gypped out of the one easy time we had with the storm window. I wish she could have seen it, because I don't think she completely believes me!

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