Friday, May 15, 2009

Decay Management

And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale

Having once lived in Arizona, where the dry winds preserve wood and metal indefinitely, I now find myself nostalgic for that slower environment. Our sun room, for example, has two big sections of metal-frame casement windows that are under siege from the weather. Only a few years ago they seemed fine.

In this picture you can see the pitiful bottom corner of the window that faces our side yard. The green sills are wooden (I'll be replacing them) and I believe they were painted over by the previous owner just before he sold us the house (what a clever guy to paint over rotten wood). But the real problem in this picture is something you really can't see. Under the red paint and churning over the surface of those poor metal frames is an infestation of rust, which causes the paint to blister and peel and eventually causes the metal to, well, just disappear. The rust is everywhere and it is unstoppable. Coincidentally, it seems, the previous owners chose this particular shade of rusty red paint for the metal window frames. Hmm.

To be sure, I will make an effort to remove the rust--I bought a cute little brass brush just for this purpose. But these frames have many angles and hard-to-get-to spots. After a while frustration will set in. I will be tempted to bring in some sort of power tool--a big industrial grinder would be nice or a sand blaster or my sledge hammer--but by this point I will be angry at the rust and not thinking clearly and prone to cut myself on the broken glass that will be scattered in all directions by the power tool. No, instead I'll get discouraged and defeated and I'll just paint over the remaining rust and pass the problem along. Experience tells me this is true about myself. I will rationalize as follows: Why waste hours and hours stripping these old frames until my fingers are all bleeding and I still can't get half of it? WTF! I won't do it!

What I really want to do is pull out these stupid frames and make some new windows, with a custom frame design that I can sit and admire. New Pellas would be nice, too, but they would cost thousands. I'll make the frames out of that new composite wood that lasts at least 50 years, which is plenty (if I'm doing my math correctly). They will be super cool windows. I can do this. More to come later.

We all have stuff within our spheres of responsibility, and that stuff gets older and older, but we always have a choice about what to do. From hour to hour we ripe and ripe. With the proper decay management (maybe even some yoga), we don't need to rot and rot.

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