19 December 2008

On getting new windows

So this morning I wake up to a layer of ice on everything. And the window guys are due at 8 am. This would have have been way less of a problem back in November when windows should have happened. Still, new windows are going to be wonderful. Imagine...real windows you can see out of and that open AND close. Oh wait, you probably don't have to imagine... you probably have had functional windows for years. This house, however, was built in 1918. And up until, oh,1940 or '50 had perfectly good double-hung sash wood-framed windows that went up and down. No screens or storms, but energy was cheaper then and you just opened your windows in summer and closed them in winter. Somewhere along the way a previous owner caulked most of the window shut, probably due to heating costs going up. And somewhere along the way the ones that did open developed warpage and leaks. In one window in the den there is a gap I can put a pencil through. Now I am worrying; will they be able to put in windows in the freezing icy rain?

A little after 9 am, three guys show up in a pick-up truck with the five big picture windows. And right off there is a conflict. These are single hung windows, but the paperwork says they should be double hung. Check in with the boss and they find the order was changed because the windows (62" wide) were too big to be doubles and had to be special made singles. In fact we had had the order changed twice (hence the not getting them installed until now). And so the project begins.

First I have to round up 4 very pissed cats who had their lives rearranged last night when we moved all furniture away from the windows. After encarcerating the cats on the 3rd floor in the library--with food, water and a litter box--we make coffee and put out gingersnaps for the workmen. Steve is running around like a kid at Christmas, watchng and asking all kinds of questions.

About 2 hours later the 3 big downstairs windows are in and more guys have shown up with the rest of the windows--straight from the manufacturer. The other thing that showed up was a brown (pitbull mix) puppy who thought he lived here. Men are going in and out of the house with windows and stuff. The dog who is wet, shivering, and trailing a very chewed up leash wants to get in the house, too. What ensues is a Keystone cop routine with Steve chasing the dog up down frozen steps.

On the leash now, Steve takes the dog around the block looking for the owner--no luck. Dog gets ensconced in the garage with a bowl of water, some cat food (better than nothing) and a pile of old towels. Dog wants company and so sets up barking like crazy. I call animal control and arrange for a pick-up. They will be around sometime today. . . maybe.

Workmen have the four bedrooms' windows in and are off to a late lunch. Eighteen windows to do and they have done 10 in 4 hours. I'm impressed. Oh, there is still caulking and wrapping the frames outside to do, but not bad. We turned the furnace off at the beginning of the job and despite the 33 degree weather with icy freezing rain outside the house, the temp inside has not dropped below 60. They pull a window out and replace it so fast it's like opening and closing a door.

Meanwhile I have made more coffee, cleaned up my email--which involves lots of phone calling to deal with a last minute change in meeting scheduling that no one told me about until today. Fortunately I had five whole hours left to fix the snafu before the university shut down entirely for break. Lucky me.

Dog is still barking. But down the street comes a kid looking for his lost dog. We happily reunite kid and dog, and immediately call animal control to cancel the pickup. Promptly 20 minutes later the animal control guy turns up at the door to take the dog away. No dog? Do we have any other problems? Stray anything? Must have been a slow day at the shelter.

Back to window guys. It's 3 pm and the siders have shown up. They begin wrapping all the window casements. Steve has now made up his own version of the "12 days of Christmas" that sums up the day:

12 guests soon coming,
11 rooms to clean up,
10 windows finished,
9 pots of coffee,
8 windows to go yet,
7 email crises,
6 plates of cookies
5 picture windows!
4 cats in the attic,
3 guys installing
2 siders siding
and a dog barking in the garage!

More coffee, more cookies. I am on my sixth cuppa today. The window job was supposed to take 2 days, it may only take a day and a half the workmen tell us. There is dust everywhere--not from the installation, rather from behind all the furniture that was moved. Ah well, a bit of vacuuming and we will be back to normal--better than before. Even the curtains have gone through the washer and look great. So some furniture moving and we will be ready for company at Christmas!

Well, we'll be ready once we finish the basement shower repairs that is. Oh and I still need to put a coat of paint on the powder room off the kitchen. No sweat. Really. We have two whole days next week to do that stuff!

15 December 2008

Chai Spiced Cookies

Just in time for holiday baking, Gillianne has sent me a recipe she found for "Chai Spiced Cookies"!

Chai-Spiced Cookies (makes about 30 cookies)

Fragrant with the classic flavors of chai tea, these buttery, crumbly cookies are perfect for dunking in a cup of tea or coffee.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Beat butter with granulated sugar in a medium bowl until well blended. Stir in flour, spices, salt and vanilla until just combined. Scoop and roll dough into small teaspoon-sized balls and place about an inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar and let cool completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container. (Recipe Courtesy Whole Foods Market)

Thanks, Gillie!