Remember Zelda? Also known as that dresser I bought off kijiji for $50? The one I was going to refinish?
Actually, she’s been done for a month and a half, after a five-day marathon of refinishing that was pretty much as intense as I imagined it would be. And at least as equally rewarding. She’s been ensconced in the newly painted bedroom for at least six weeks now, and I keep meaning to post about her, but somehow the effort of blogging about refinishing the dresser has seemed like so much more work than actually refinishing the dresser.
I think it’s because I had envisioned writing a “how to” post, wherein I would detail all the steps and tools and products that I used. But I don’t want to write a how-to post. There are plenty of lovely how-to posts out there already, including this one, which I used as a guideline. What I really want is to tell you how immensely satisfying and addictive it is to pour a thick layer of paint remover over a surface and then watch the layers of yellowed varnish bubble and curl and dissolve; that I could scrape that gunk off smooth wooden surfaces for days, getting down to base layers. And that I did scrape gunk off smooth wooden surfaces for days, listening to podcast after podcast, stripping off and replacing latex gloves, going over the entire surface — top, bottom, sides, legs, all nine drawers — twice with the remover and then again with steel wool and then again (and again) with the hand sander. And then the three layers of stain, the two of varnish, sandwiching in the coats between first thing in the morning and lasting at night, colonizing the deck and the dining room, fans acting as ventilation.
She’s not perfect, but of course she is.
This weekend, I am once more without kids, and, for a change, without a major project. Of course, I have half a dozen smaller projects on the go — I’m nearly finished a massive reorganization of the garden beds, foraging back-lane raspberries, revising that budget, All The Filing, editing a newsletter, figuring out the ending to that story, etc. There’s dirt under my fingernails. I made chicken stock last week, and then soup. I ate all the chard from the last-minute vegetable garden I planted in a fit of get these seeds in the ground and see what happens, and then I replanted the chard.
But after the initial flurry of activity involved in reclaiming this space, I think I'm starting to actually live in it, inhabiting it more than simply shaping it. I’m trying to remember how to slow down, forcing myself to sit quietly with a book or a newspaper or — more radical still — just my breath. Maybe that’s natural, the beginnings of the shift from summer to fall (yes, yes, I know it’s too early, but before you protest, I can already feel the chill in the evening air). But it’s something else, too, and it’s good.