HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU: Dirty Window Thoughts From Perfectionist


Once upon a year, I was a neat freak.  There was a place for everything and everything was in its place.

While I dislike housework,  as an advocate of Feng Sui (pronounce Feng Schway), I've always tried to keep both my life and my home in balance, not an easy job with three growing children and a busy husband in a nine-room house. Make that 16 rooms counting five basement and two attic rooms.

 In my younger years, windows–a major frustration–were washed each early spring and late fall. Thirty-nine windows!  (Actually, double that to 78 counting storm windows.)  But, as a young, energetic organizer and perfectionist, I managed!

The children grew and learned to keep their rooms neat.  With time on my hands, I considered a return to college to complete a journalism degree, thought of the possibility of radio journalism, and sought advice from WSMI owner Hayward Talley, who called me the following day to offer a part-time job.  

Yes, he knew I had young children, but to enable me to stay at home with them during the summer, he'd hire a college student to take my place June through August.  Would I be interested?  Since it would offer insight into radio journalism, I was.  As my children matured, my part-time job became full-time, turning into a 21-year career that culminated as continuity director, responsible for making sure that complete daily log information reached on-air announcers–a perfect job for an organized perfectionist.

Despite mid-life years at WSMI, the vacuum sweeper was used each Saturday for a thorough house cleaning.  Eventually, due to an increasingly busy schedule, I hired a weekly cleaning woman.  However, she didn't "do" windows.  They remained my job.  All 78 of them were diligently washed each spring and fall.

The years rolled by.  The children left home, married, and had families of their own.  My husband's health failed.  I resigned from WSMI to care for him, was widowed in 2001, enrolled at SIU/E and returned to print journalism so I could write at home–and continued to wash those 78 windows twice yearly.

While I dislike housework, I love yard work.  As a farmer's daughter, my yard is my self-landscaped, perfectionist goal.   Organized plantings are planned for ease of mowing with a riding mower. Trimming is minimal.  Winter and summer, morning coffee on the patio is a ritual while I admire my handiwork and Standard Poodle Gracie, on her 40-foot tether, chases squirrels and birds around a manicured yard.

The windows?  I've hired them washed several times but found the results didn't meet my perfectionist expectations.  Why pay for inferior work?  They're dirty again and will remain that way until the spirit moves me.   I've lowered my standards because–at age 82–my strength and will-power are diminishing.  I've found I can accept a slight misalignment of all the pictures on my walls that, somehow, become askew.  The sweeper sits idle between monthly visits by my trusted friend and treasured current house cleaner, Debbie.  Should guests be expected between her visits, I do a rapid Swiffer dusting.  

I'm no longer a neat freak perfectionist.  Life is good, but not perfect.  Why should I try to be?  It's a losing battle.  So are those 78 windows!

Lyn is author and columnist Marilyn Felkel Lingle.  e-mail


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