Window on the World

I am a lousy housekeeper. It’s not that I hate cleaning, but rather that there are so many other interesting things to do and cleaning is never really interesting. Sometimes it’s cathartic, or even affirming, but rarely interesting. It’s not that our house is a disaster, because I do try to rein in the clutter a bit and we run the vacuum and wipe down counter tops. But the really deep cleaning doesn’t happen often.

Twice a year I clean windows: once in the spring when the storm windows come off and we remove the winter grime to make way for the window screens and the spring and summer sunshine, and once in the fall when the storm windows go on and we clear away the summer dirt to let the sun shine in when it reflects a bright glare off the pending snow.

Today was a window cleaning moment. The temperature was 60 degrees and the sky was a bright blue. Plus, because of the Veteran’s Day holiday I was home from work and could get full look at the dirty windows when the sun was at its brightest in the morning light.

But today’s window cleaning was truly bittersweet. Ever since our dog died on Labor Day weekend, we have been missing her. We missed her for about two weeks before we decided it was too hard to look at her crate standing unused in the family room, so we took it down and replaced it with a chair and some plants. We miss her each time we uncover some leftover bit of dog hair on the carpet. That dog shed a lot. I am convinced that decades from now we will move a piece of furniture and still find husky hair under a sofa leg, like some long forgotten artifact unearthed during an archaeological dig. And we missed her each time we looked at the sliding French doors that lead outside from the family room, because her nose prints were perpetually on the window.

dog at the window

She didn’t really like the Christmas bow I put on her, or the fact that there were gift boxes stacked in her usual spot by the window.

That was one of her favorite spots, since the window runs low enough on the door to provide a full dog’s eye view of the backyard and neighborhood stretched out beyond. From that vantage point she was the master of all she surveyed, giving her a true window on her world to watch for other dogs or people talking a walk, or her girls coming home from the school bus or after a bike ride.

So today, I cleaned the last of the dog nose prints from the window. It really was past time, since the dusty film on the rest of the pane was casting a gray pall over the room. And while I was at it I found some dog hair (no surprise there) in the narrow vinyl tracks that allow the screen door and outer door to slide. Honestly, it was dog hair combined with quite a bit of ground in dirt that had been held in those tracks for too long since the vacuum doesn’t easily reach there to clean it out.

Now the windows are clean and the dog nose prints are gone. We really do miss her all the time, nose prints or not. Someday we may get another dog, but not right now. Right now we need the freedom of not having a dog. We need to be able to make an impromptu decision to take a long drive or a day trip and not worry about who will take care of the dog while we’re gone. Frankly, our savings account needs a break too, after months of paying quite a lot to take care of a declining dog with kidney failure.

So we have clean windows. But now I really have to dust since I can clearly see how much has accumulated. Housekeeping really is a thankless job.


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