Next Exhibit



There’s a Museum of Failure (MOX). I fear I may be close to producing a prime example for their exhibition. We all know that failure sucks. Of course, we pick ourselves up and start over. That’s what facilitates success. We keep on trying. But, after the fifth attempt, shouldn’t there be some allowance for a moment of wallowing in despair? We ought to be allowed to let loose a string of curse words or eat our weight in chocolate chip cookies or have a moment thinking it’s really not worth all this aggravation.

Successful people keep on going despite the irritation. We lesser beings can take only so much. I’m thinking, if someone failed a hundred times and kept going, they didn’t have to cook dinner or drive the kids to karate lessons. Successful people are prime examples of a laser focus so strong they must have had to disregard all activities of daily living in order to do that whole keep-trying thing. But listen, someone had to have taken out their garbage and finished the laundry.

For me, the current annoying failure is minor–merely a failure still in the making. I have, however, reached the critical five-failure threshold. So, I’m baking cookies while swearing under my breath and debating the worth of this endeavor. I hope I have piqued your curiosity. What could drive a woman to wallow so? It’s a window treatment. Go ahead and laugh, but failure is failure and so far, there’s pretty much been a whole lot of irritating lack of success. After five years, I still have nothing to cover my bathroom window other than the ugly decrepit shutter I had decided to replace when we moved into the house. Let’s face it, by the time you’re having to come up with Plan F, you’re entitled to feel some measure of discouragement.

Not my bathroom window

Five years does sound like a long time to be trying though. Especially for something so mundane as a window treatment. By now I’m chanting my excuse, “It’s not me. It’s the window!” And it’s true. Built in 1945, the windows in my sweet little cottage in the mountains have only 1 inch of framing to work with. I first went with the idea of ordering a shade from Lowes. It’s a smallish window in the bathroom, so how much could an accordion shade cost at the big box hardware store. $175 apparently. Still, I was willing to splash out for the sake of privacy in a cute color with top or bottom accordion action. No can do. The shade required a 2-inch frame for proper hanging, even if one was willing to spend too much for it.

Three types of shades later it finally hit home. The sales associate at Lowes could not help me. This many strikes in a row left me cursing the whole shade-making industry and floundering around for something else. I covered the bathroom shutter with a piece of material and left it there for a couple years. We could open the mini louvers on the sides of the shutters, but it wasn’t practical for getting much light into the room.


Later, I created a cute little shade for my kitchen window. I mounted some fabric on a piece of wood at the top of the window and ran a thin dowel through the bottom of it. It nicely covered my window, but I couldn’t open it, so I sewed some little plastic rings on each side at mid-way and top to slip the dowel into and expose most of the window. Could this be done for the bathroom window? I ran there to assess the possibility. If it wasn’t for the toilet, I would have a cleverly designed window treatment, in a fabric of my choosing, adorning the window in my bathroom. I could not squeeze my body between the toilet and the wall in order to reach the upper left-side ring, so I would have to stand on the toilet to open the shade. I was agile enough to manage this maneuver, but it was not something I wished to do every day and figured sooner or later we would get tired of performing the required acrobatics and just leave it down, which was worse than the ugly shutter for achieving the required ratio of privacy to sunlight in our bathroom.

Window film might have been next, but the room is small and I could envision a level of post-shower dewiness that would eventually make it slide off and leave the panes sticky and wonky looking. I considered replacing the glass with something opaque in order to obscure naked bodies and provide some distorted privacy. That wasn’t a problem as the bathroom is not at street level and is on the driveway side of the house. This idea might have gained traction if I didn’t care about seeing the outside world at non-shower times and preferred to have maximum sunshine. Once again, I gave up for a while.

From the stash

This past winter, I finally succumbed to the idea of a curtain. Since I’m a collector of fabrics, I rummaged through the boxes in the basement to find that just right piece of material with which to adorn my bathroom window. What I found was an actual curtain that I would need to tailor to fit over the whole window, frame and all. Wow! This was starting to feel like it would actually happen. I finally found the solution. It was actually the last option, but I didn’t feel like splitting hairs when I could be splitting curtains. My level of excitement rose as I measured out the amount of fabric needed. I was so happy.

I opted for a black curtain rod. Nothing fancy. I found the perfect size at Home Depot and rushed home to give it a hold-it-up-there-to-see-how-it-looks trial. Looks? Fabulous! Here’s where my next failure came taunting me. Each end of the curtain rod had a ball on it. The ball on the left side would not fit between the frame and the wall. Did the ball screw off of the rod? No. It was one solid piece. I had been trying to get this project finished before my company came over the weekend, so had neglected to consider that tiny space over the toilet in my rush to victory. If the damn thing had been flushable, I would have crammed it into the commode and sent it to its just reward.

I figured I would just have to hang the rod directly onto the window frame to allow for ball space. I requested a drill from the basement tool cache and drilled a hole on each side of the window frame. The right side was somewhat accessible by standing on the edge of the tub. The left side, which had been the bane of my existence, was approached by delicately balancing on the toilet seat (not quite tall enough) while administering the drilling process with my left hand at an awkward angle. The holes were not even, but at this point I truly did not care.

Demon brackets

Planning is everything my friends. If there is failure in the planning–or no planning at all, as in my case, the result may be, quite frankly, sucky. Before I even screwed the holding bracket into the window frame, I realized my curtain would not cover the space where the bracket would hang, leaving about an inch of un-curtained window frame on each side. Even I, who desperately wanted a window covering, could not live with that. Refusing to return to square one, I stopped to consider what else could be done.

Should I have taken the rod back to the store? Probably yes, but in my frenzy to have some measure of success, I handed it off to my guy with the tools in the basement and asked him to cut the left ball off. He did–with precision accuracy. I was happy with the result. To balance things out, I sent the rod back down for a ball-ectomy on the other side. I could not believe how much better that curtain rod looked after its balls had been cut off! There was pure joy in my heart. There was hope that this ordeal would soon be over. All I had to do was hang the brackets on the wall outside the window frame, finish adjusting my curtain to size and slip that rod and dazzling drapery into its new home.

Unfortunately, the devil’s advocate arose from his basement lair and declared I could not hang those brackets on a plaster wall. Well, I could, but dragging the curtain to the side every morning would eventually pull the bracket from the plaster. Molly bolts were declared the solution. He even showed me what they look like. The example was huge! I would need a bore hole with the radius of a shot glass in order to get that thing into the wall. Smaller ones, if they existed, would require another trip to the hardware store. Five failures. Though they be liberally spaced out in time, five angst-driven, humiliating, demoralizing failures was my absolute limit.

My nemesis

Time was running out for getting this project done before weekend arrivals. I could sense my anxiety ratcheting up into Mount Vesuvius level and that’s when I realized I would not complete my window treatment until our guests had left and my blood pressure dropped back to a pre-project level. I put everything away, replaced the fabric over the shutter and stowed my disappointment in the closet until such time as I could rally my determination and go buy the proper equipment so as to make my curtain a permanent fixture. That was two weeks ago.

Right now, I’m avoiding the inevitable aggravation and disappointment inherent in the project. I know I’ll get back to it, I still want a new look for my bathroom window. If a Museum of Failure teaches us anything, it’s that we are not alone in the humiliation and despair that represents a total shipwreck. Everything on exhibit in that museum is something someone created for the marketplace, which failed to capture the loyalty of consumers. In comparison, my personal debacle would pale when viewed between the Edsel and a can of New Coke. “Oh,” people might comment, “she didn’t measure twice.” And there is some truth in that, but honestly, it’s not me, it’s the window. I don’t know how many more attempts and failures I can take, but I’m willing to bet that someday there will be a brand-new window covering for my bathroom window even if I end up paying someone else to put it up there.

From the Household MOX.


Quotes on failure? We got ’em. In the menu above.


  1. I’m currently in the beginning of creating a window treatment for the door in my studio. I’ve decided to try something called pojagi piecing to make the fabric. New technique to me so there is a high chance of failure. To add to the chaos, I’m dyeing the fabric. Why not make things as difficult as possible?

    Happy problem solving!

    • Pojagi piecing. I’m going to have to look that up! If you have failure, call me and we can go cry in our beer together!

  2. I hate doing window treatments! I’m finally fairly happy with most of mine at my own house….. I’ve been here long enough I’ve started calling this home. Anyway, I bet the window will look great once you get it to your liking!!

    • We will need to catch up about those window treatments that made you fairly happy. It’s ok to call the current place home as long as you don’t start redecorating!

      • Ha ha ha. I did organize things a bit… but haven’t moved furniture or reorganized towel drawers etc. ????

        As for window treatments…. Sometimes I just had to say “it’s good enough”

  3. Ha… my comment went to a bin to be moderated… I mistyped my email address.

  4. Three years ago we loved in. Sally said “i will make these temporary window coverings”. Expertly created with unraveling bottoms, they are almost as tad as the balls chopped off. I laughed. Thanks for the moment of levity.

    • I still have the paper shades I purchased as a last minute resort for our guest room when we moved in. They will stay there until they fall down because I can’t go through this again.

  5. This was funny. The treatment needed two calls cut off. I laughed out loud.

  6. I feel your angst. I have those recessed windows too that need the tiniest rod which is not strong enough to hold the length of fabric I needed. And because I am so afraid of accidentally pulling it down all together I use one of those grabby things to open and close the curtain.

    And didnt Albert Einstein fail dozens of times before his success with the light bulb.

    and .. there is a great metaphor for life in this. cute blog. thanks for writing

  7. Jennifer Bosch

    When I hung the curtains in my bedroom I measured 4 times and still got it wrong.
    I feel your pain. I have no curtains now. I have solid doors to the south and doors with built-in blinds to the east. It’s fine.

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