Yesterday was truly one of those glorious late fall days up here in the Northland. It’s hard to imagine, but the wind didn’t get above about 4mph, and the temps were scraping up onto 60 degrees. Lots of sun, and just right for sitting out on the back patio, until the riding lawn mower cavalry went on the move, mowing down a good 1/16th of an inch of grass since they mowed last week. It’s the end of October, folks – nothing is growing here anymore, even if it looks green… we even grilled some great ribeyes, and pretended it was still kind of summer.
I awoke this morning to the sound of what I could only imagine was an ice storm, pelting at our windows. Since this was definitely NOT in the weather forecast, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter… what I found was not ice, but instead, our huge maple tree, which during the summer produces a good half million green leaves, deciding that today would be the day to drop the leaves. Of course, the wind having cranked up to 25mph with 40mph gusts did help loosen the grip of the leaves, but they all seemed to hit our window like poor travelers pounding on the door, asking to come in from the cold autumn weather. And indeed, where it was 60 yesterday, we awoke to 25 degrees, with the hopes of maybe getting up to 45. Of course, the wind chill helped bring it down further, so that at our high point, we managed to scrape out 35 degrees. Of course, it is October 30, and this is where we live. It just changed so quickly.
And so, as is always the case it seems, we wait until AFTER the best day of fall, when the wind is biting and the air more than whispers that winter is on the way, to take care of a critical autumn task. Now, where you live, you might have screen doors in front of your other doors to keep all the flies and other bugs out of your beloved home. We have those too, but it’s also necessary up here to have a bit of a hybrid storm door, that changes over to a huge pane of glass to protect you from the wind and snow blowing in as you open the front door when the winter winds howl at you. This requires a significant bit of homeowner calisthenics, as you need to remove the door-sized screen, carry it downstairs, and bring up the door-sized huge glass insert that will then keep you safe all winter.
All I can say is that it is a real pain in the rump to have to make the changeover. Twice a year, and it doesn’t matter which is being taken out, and which put in, it’s always a struggle, which brings out my dad’s spirit in me, as I lecture to the world that there must be an easier way, and it’s amazing that no one is seriously hurt moving that huge piece of glass around and trying to jam it in place in the frame of the storm door… everyone in the house loves that time…
You see, some door engineer decided that the best way to seat the insert was to have a tiny track all around the frame that would/should hold the screen or the glass, which then is secured in place with long plastic edging that is crammed in between the frame and the glass/screen. Brilliant – they probably got a Nobel Peace Price in Door construction for it.
Except – our house, as lovely as it is, is celebrating its 25 year of existence. Lots of things have been updated and changed out… except for the storm doors. That is, except for the long plastic edging. Now, if I were a long piece of plastic edging, called on to hold things in place, as a barrier between the inside of the home and the summer heat and the winter cold, about after 15 years or so, I might tend to become a bit brittle, and obstinate about fitting into that slot season after season. In fact, just for spite, I might break off a piece or so, just to make it a bit more of a challenge to the person trying to cram me in place. I would do that.
And that’s just what happens. There is no flex or ability to seal easily and nicely – it’s just a fight to put it all in place, that comes after trying to change out the panels themselves, which also have decided over the years to not quite fit in true, but instead to either warp or bend a little. It’s a laugh a minute. I’m not an engineer, but each time I do this, I wonder why some door scientist didn’t come up with some kind of silicone edging material, that would stay flexible, and tuck right in and hold things in place, until the next season rolled around. I would buy that in a heartbeat!
And so, on one occasion, I went to the storm door website, to see about replacement edging. Sure enough – they had some! Granted, it was supposedly the very kind we were using, but 25 years younger, so there was hope. I ordered a set, believing the cost was worth the drop in frustration. Imagine my surprise, then, when the edging came, and the time to change the doors out came, that although it promised to be answer to my door prayers, the stuff was way to fat and big to even come close to fitting our needs, or the door. That happened during the pandemic time, so my only recourse would have been to try to mail back a huge long cardboard tube to the manufacturer, and try to get a refund… Anyone want some long plastic edging?
Well, after using a screwdriver to get the edging out, and then using a hammer to try to put it back in with this season’s insert (always fun to hit a hammer along the edge of a six foot piece of glass, that you know is not tempered…), we managed to get both the front and back doors in place for another season. As I sat on my chair in the living room, looking at the front door, and thinking about those infuriating storm doors, I succumbed to the temptation that always arises. How about – next spring – when it’s no longer cold – that we go around to various home improvement places, and see for ourselves what the new generation of storm doors might be like, and perhaps, just perhaps, take the plunge and buy two new doors, that someone else could install, and kick us off properly for the next 25 years?
The biggest shock about that idea was that when I actually expressed it out loud, my beloved wife heartily agreed that it was time to do that. I think after watching the spectacle for the last number of years, she knew it was just a matter of time before the neighborhood would be witness to large panes of storm door glass getting shot putted into the street. We should probably avoid that, I guess.
So, for now, we are all nice and sealed up for the winter, and visions of new storm doors are dancing in my head. It could be a very nice spring…
We humans are often pretty patient and tolerant, even when things don’t go quite the way we want. It’s also true that there are those times, when patience ends, and change must happen. The key, of course, is knowing when that should happen, and how it should happen, so that the best result should… result. It’s just another example of each one of us finding the path to living intentionally, instead of haphazardly or accidentally. It does no good to thrash about in life – we are better than that.
I invite you to come up and see us next year sometime – please be sure to admire what I hope will be new storm doors… and a smile on our faces. Life is good, and our job is to make it better. Peace.
Thought for the day: The first step to success is not to give yourself any other options. It’s not that we can’t be flexible, but cooked spaghetti has never made a real leadership decision…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.