Our house needs many things. The roof looks good and we got a new boiler, did basic repair on the deck, and lots of other stuff — all of which got fully paid for. That is why we are so poor. We got about $20,000 of work done during the pandemic lockdowns and we didn’t borrow any money to do it.

Meanwhile, the importance of windows had been rising on my agenda of “stuff we can’t afford but really need to do.” Owen and I were both watching the advertisements from window companies and thinking, “Hmm.”

Window replacement is a big deal in New England because we have awful weather. Not merely awful, but erratic. Rapidly changing, unpredictable. Warm followed by blizzards and a deep freeze with heavy winds and drenching rains not far behind. It’s New England. That’s just the way we roll.

Today, although it was supposed bitterly cold and maybe it was, we have reached that time of winter when anything above zero doesn’t feel all that cold. Mind you, a month ago the current temperature — 17 degrees Fahrenheit (-8.5 Centigrade) would have turned me into a human icicle. After a month of real winter, I went out to feed the birds wearing just my heavy sweatshirt. Okay, I was also wearing a thermal undershirt, heavy sweat pants and Uggs. It is cold. I’m not stupid and I’ve lived in New England for more than 30 years.

Still, I didn’t put on a jacket and I have one hanging on a hook next to the back door for just such an occasion. I have noticed if I work fast, I can be out there, fill the feeders and trays and sweep the dead seeds off the deck before the cold really seeps in and “gets me.” I have to move fast, though. Very fast. I was also grateful for the new storm door we installed last summer. It has reduced the draft from the kitchen big time.

Next problem? Windows.

The two windows over the sink broke almost as soon as we moved here. Originally a double casement, one side opened for a couple of months, but on the other side, the handle broke, which is pretty normal for that kind of window although to be fair, it took more than 40 years to break.

I always intended to get them replaced, but other stuff came up and was more urgent. The windows don’t open, but they are good, solid wood Anderson windows. Even 45 year-old wood windows from Anderson are better than most of the vinyl crap they are selling now.

I also have grown to really hate my front “picture window.” It was quite the fashionable window in 1974 along with avocado-colored bathrooms and kitchens. We had green bathroom fixtures too — this house was SO 1970s.

Whose idea was that? Who through putrid green was a great color for tile and tubs? Did the people who designed it ever have to live with it?

Home on a golden day — maybe it is worth it after all

We also had back sliding doors — another 1970s hot ticket. We got rid of them more than 10 years ago. If I’d known I’d be taking so many pictures through those French doors, I would not have gotten French doors. I could (and probably should) have installed solid, immovable plate glass. I would have had better light and a much easier time taking pictures without fighting to avoid the frames around each little window section.

New bathroom

It’s hard to know what you will be doing 10 years before you do it, but think seriously about what you might want to do. Your hobbies. Your interests. You can get a lot of self-insight if you don’t act on “Oh, I’ve always wanted French doors!” and instead consider, “I might need to feed birds and keep the dogs from exploding through the screens.”

Before the new gutters and why I hate that window!

Home ownership is a big deal. Everyone wants their own home. Except you don’t actually own it. The bank owns it. You get to live in it as long as you can pay the mortgage.

We got married late. We bought the house 10 years after that, so by the time we moved in here we were a lot closer to retirement than we realized. Just a few months after we moved here, Garry was deemed overly mature for his work and I became “obsolete.” He was not too old and I was not obsolete.

On television, was proven because stations who retained their mature reporters also retained more viewers and got better ratings. Viewer love familiar faces.

As for me, companies dumped their “technical writers.” For all practical purposes, they eliminated most of us – more than 75% of working tech writers in this region (I don’t know about the rest of the country) were let go around the same time. Someone, somewhere decided no one needed a manual. No one ever asked the customers (sound familiar?). Oh how wrong they were. For the past 10 years they’ve been trying to rehire us. I still get nibbles since my resume is roaming around the virtual universe.

New gutters, old windows from the deck. The door was replaced last spring.

It turned out, people do want manuals, even if they don’t read them cover-to-cover. They should have hung on to me while I was available. Now, of course, they’re offering perks I wanted way back when — like “you never have to come into the office.” That is not true, no matter what they say. You always have to come in even if it isn’t every day — and sometimes occasionally turns into more days than not.

In any case, Garry and I have never driven from Uxbridge to Boston in an hour. Boston’s border isn’t where we are going. Also, by the time you get to Framingham which is more or less midpoint, traffic is at a standstill. When I worked just outside Boston, what was technically a 45-minute drive really took me more than two hours to get home. I tried local roads but they were worse. Local roads — even though it felt like you were moving — took more like three hours — and that was just a 45 mile drive. Commuting is never about distance. It is entirely about traffic.

Red House Finches

Work isn’t entirely about money. but windows are pricey so a paycheck would have been a nice touch. One way or the other, we need windows.

Owen and I have been watching the advertisements from the window companies. This is the time of year to order windows because it’s the time of year when nothing gets done until spring. This is when contractors are ready to make deals, assuming you have decent credit and don’t mind waiting three to five months — unless COVID comes back and then, who knows when or if it will ever get done? Not meaning to be pessimistic, I said: “We might as well at least get an estimate.”

This is how you wind up buying expensive things. You say you want an estimate, but deep in your brain, you know you’re going to do it. If they give you a good enough deal, you’re on.

Morning light in the dining room through French doors

We finally decided on replacing five windows, four of which are broken plus the big window in the living room which counts as three windows because it is the size of three windows. We actually have one other broken one, but it’s behind Garry huge oak desk which is behind the tons of stuff Garry is going to — any day now — clear out of that room.

Meanwhile, we can’t move the desk because it is solid oak and heavy (a tall, oak rolltop). Even if we could get people to help, there’s no room to move it because the room is full of stuff. Lots and lots of stuff, some of which has value, much of which needs to be donated to people who might use it, and the rest, trash. I also noticed that the window in the main bathroom is in pretty bad shape, so I might have to add in that window.

Today was a happy experience. The sales guy was young, had his sales rap down to an art form and he hardly had to pause for breath. We were lucky insofar as our credit is shockingly good, I’ve been paying things down for years and all the things we did recently were paid off in full. Yo!

We were approved for $15,000 of credit in about an eighth of second and gee whiz, we only needed 10 of that 15 grand. But should we decide to get even MORE work done, we’ve got the credit and at 6.7%, I don’t think we’ll get a better deal.

I was glad we decided today because I have a feeling the Feds are going to raise rates this week. This is probably the best deal we’ll get. I have to wonder if we’ll live to see the end of these payments, but this is the same company we used to finance the bathroom three years ago, so as far as they are concerned, we’re great customers.

We are getting new kitchen windows — sliders rather than casement. A new dining room window, the old one being broken. A new picture window that will be nicer than the one we’ve now got — almost anything would look better than the one we currently have. Also my bathroom window and one window in the basement, also broken. We’ll be cooler in summer with lower electric bills because finally, we’ll have cross ventilation!

What a magical idea! There is a bizarre level of optimism that people of our age and stage in life will buy windows with ten years of payments. Not to worry because we are also getting a full 25-year warranty. What could possibly go wrong?

At the end of the warranty, Garry will be 105 and I will be a mere 100, but hey, whose counting?

Categories: #Birds, #Photography, Anecdote, Architecture, Blackstone Valley, House and home, House Finch, Weather, Windows

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12 replies

  1. It will all be beautiful — and you will save on summer cooling and winter heating to help pay down the windows!


    • I don’t know how much we’ll save, but the house will certainly LOOK better and be more saleable, should we have to sell it though I hope we don’t. This house is very well insulated . These 47-year-old all wood Anderson windows don’t leak. They are better windows than any of the vinyl windows on the market — EVEN broken and needing paint. They are just old. The paint has peeled off. The broken ones need to be replaced because you can’t just FIX a window anymore. Whatever happened to glazing? We have this a terrible mindset of “when in doubt, throw it out.”

      We might save on A/C if a cross draft means we won’t have to turn on the A/C so early or leave it on as late. I guess we’ll see.


  2. I had to smile when you talked about saying you’re just getting an estimate while knowing all the while that you’ll end up actually going through with the work – we’ve certainly done that in the past! And boy do houses suck up money, especially older ones. It seems no sooner is one thing done than there’s another needing attention. We’re fortunate to have more disposable income than you, despite being retired, but there are other things I’d rather spend money on, like travelling!


    • We used to have money. The house ate it. We should have moved out before it needed to have the work we’d done before to be redone. I was sort of shocked. Somehow, i thought if you did it once, that was it. I somehow never imagined we’d be living here when our new roof was getting old, when our relatively new boiler became a very old boiler, when our well needed rebuilding, the septic needed to be revived, the “forever” cedar fence had deteriorated — and we discovered how bad a job the original contractors had done on the house. Live and learn.

      Mostly though, we’ve just lived here long enough for things that were new to get old. This house wasn’t a great piece of construction in the first places, either.

      They call houses “money pits.” Yup. They ARE money pits. I think it’s possible boats are worse but I haven’t owned anything bigger than a 16 foot sailing sloop, so I can only guess.


  3. Your windows certainly do get a lot of wear and tear, Marilyn, I can see why you need replacements. I assume you get charged an insurance fee that plays up the debt if you die within the 10 year period. I noticed this with my dad’s latest purchase and although I understand it, it seems a bit horrible.


  4. I hope you’re not thinking of having new windows in the cold months? You really will freeze!


    • No, they aren’t going to be installed until probably late spring or early summer. It’s a three to four month wait NOW and if COVID comes back, it could be longer. I said as long as it gets done before the next winter comes around. This is why this is a good time to get estimates because they are putting together work for next season. It all depends on the weather. We’re actually expecting a full blizzard tonight and tomorrow. We haven’t had a serious winter in a few years, so on one level, nice to have “real” New England weather back. On the OTHER hand, it’s a real winter. It’s COLD.


  5. Wonderful shot of the finches. It looks like, like them or not, you have fabulous views through all your windows.


    • It’s just that I have a 4″ by 9″ space through which to shoot. Mind you I’ve gotten pretty good at shooting through a very small space, but it does make photography a lot harder when there is a frame in the way pretty much all the time.


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