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More Notes from a Country Kitchen


By Vicki Christianson

Mon, Apr 30th, 2012
Posted in All Columnists

It’s spring so time to think “spring cleaning”! I think the first thing everyone likes to do is throw open the windows and let the fresh air in! I live very close to a heavily-traveled gravel road so throwing open the windows is not something I do very often. The road runs to the east of my house so opening any windows to the east or to the south is not always an option.

When the pickups and trucks roll by and the wind is out of the east or south the dust can roll across the yard and right over and through my house. I do open my kitchen windows to the north and west but don’t always get a good breeze from that direction. My two doors with screens also face the south so those doors don’t get left open very often. My clothes line is to the south of the house so I have to be careful which days I can hang laundry out or air out blankets/pillows. Nothing smells better than freshly laundered sheets and bedding that has hung on the clothes line all day!! And if it’s really windy you can hear the sheets snapping in the wind! Every wrinkle gets blown out!

When we were kids spring meant taking all the storm windows off and putting the screens on. That was a job! First we had to pry the storm windows off and hope not too much paint came off with the windows. Then we hauled all the windows to the garage or storage shed for the summer. We didn’t wash them – waited till the fall when we put the windows on and then we washed them up. Sometimes we had to add a little putty too.

Once the storms were all pat away we started bringing out the screens and hauling them up to the house. We laid each screen, one at a time, on a pair of saw horses and then hosed them off. If we didn’t have a hose we used a pail of water and an old rag. We had to clean away the dust and cobwebs from the winter months.

Next we washed the outside of the inside windows. One of us kids was usually on the inside washing the window as the other washed from the outside. We used vinegar water and either crumpled up newspapers or an old dish towel for drying. We washed the same window at the same time so we could watch for streaks and then point them out before we moved on to the next window. If the screen was ripped or torn we would holler for dad and then he would come and fix the tear or remove the screen and piece in a new one. If the tear was fairly small a nice piece of duct tape would cover it nicely!

Mom or dad usually hung the screen as they tended to be quite large and heavy. Just about every window on the house got a screen. After all the screens were on we would start opening as many windows as we could. Every now and then one of the windows wouldn’t open and dad had to do some pounding and digging with a screw driver. Most of the windows did not stay up by themselves. We had heavy sticks or bricks to prop them open with.

After the windows were taken care of, we moved on to those big old rugs that were scattered throughout the house. We would drag them outside and fling them over the clothesline. Then mom would hand us an old broom and tell us to beat the crap out of the rugs! This tended to be quite fun! After we were done beating on them we would leave them hang in the sunshine for the day.

Dad always checked the lines on the clothesline each spring too. One place we lived at had wire lines on the clothes line and another place had heavy plastic lines. Dad checked to make sure none were broken or about to break. He also checked the wooden clothesline poles themselves. If a pole was starting to wobble or had a break in it he would find an old steel fence post and pound it into the ground right next to the wooden pole. He wired the two poles together and we were ready to go for another season!

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