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The Kitchen Window

Sarah Buys a House is a chronicle of Sarah DeGiorgis' journey along the road to home ownership and renovation in West Philadelphia.

My triumph of this past week was cleaning the big window in the kitchen. No, that's not a joke. This window is massive—so massive that the lower part of it will be behind the sink once all the cabinets get put in. That meant (to me) that I had to clean it now and clean it well, since it probably wouldn't get such a thorough cleaning once the sink was there. And who knows how long it's been since it was cleaned? Certainly longer than I'd like to think about.

I've mentioned this window before. It's the big—BIG—old window in the kitchen facing the wall of my neighbor's house. So yes, it's a window that is a foot or so from a brick wall. Nevertheless I love it because of its size and despite its proximity to a wall I maintain that it lets a good amount of light into the otherwise windowless kitchen. Even though the panes are big and heavy, the old chains slide up and down effortlessly so it's really easy to open and close. I've painted the sill and all the other wood around it bright satiny white, putting painter's tape carefully around the edges of the panes to keep it neat.

Unfortunately, when our zealous anonymous blue painter painted this and the rest of the house blue (even the window frames??) he or she did not believe in using said tape. Or maybe they did (because there's still a stray piece on one of the dining room windows just out of my reach) but obviously did not see any value in using it carefully. With help I got the lower...sash? out of the frame and brought it into the backyard. I grabbed a razor blade and scraped the paint off the glass and then washed the glass with soap and water. I would have loved to have done this with the top sash too, but no one wanted to risk taking it out for fear we'd never get it back in. The inside of the top was easy - I just stood on a ladder to scrape all the paint off the glass. The outside, however...

Let's remember that the distance between mine and my neighbor's house is...small. You can really lean out of that kitchen window (if the screen wasn't permanently nailed/stapled/glued in place) and touch the neighbor's house. The alley itself is less than 2 feet wide, probably closer to a foot and a half so that makes getting a ladder in there tricky. You can, however, lean the ladder against the wall and steady yourself against the other wall...except that the ground slopes pretty sharply down toward my neighbor's house. It's a balancing act. Oh and also the tallest ladder I have is admittedly not very tall and only reaches up to the bottom of the window frame so there I was, perched on the "DO NOT STEP" part of the ladder, leaning against my neighbor's wall for support and still only reaching to about the middle of the upper sash.

Now let me just state that I'm sure there are commercially made products for cleaning hard-to-reach windows. But I don't have any of those so I ingeniously came up with my own. I call it the paint-stick-old-toothbrush cleaner and, yes, I'm working on patenting that so don't try and steal it.

And you know what? It works well! The toothbrush works great for scrubbing and you can throw a towel or rag on the end to dry the window so you don't get water spots. Genius, if you ask me. The only other thing this needs is some kind of harness system so you don't have to worry about falling sideways off the ladder on to the concrete below. In time, my friends.