Then along came my daughter, who had other plans for my time. The needs of my little one were so constant that I rarely had time to finish the most necessary-to-keep-the-house-standing type projects, much less refinish furniture. Many years passed before I began to dabble again. At 11, she's old enough now that she can either work alongside me or entertain herself somewhere else, and I'm finding myself once again being drawn to those places where barely-still-usable furniture abounds.
Seldom does a piece in great shape catch my eye. Instead, I'm drawn to the ones thick with paint, missing parts, rotting boards, peeling veneer. A gasp away from the Dumpster. Seeing beyond what's there to what could be there.
Sometimes, it isn't just damaged furniture that draws me, but anything damaged. One of our cats was once a gasp away from the Dumpster. I'm not sure how we saw his potential through all his spitting, scowling, growling and bloodletting. It took a few years to completely work over his harsh exterior, but beneath it was one of the sweetest, most affectionate cats I've ever known.
And then there's our foster dog, Roo. In spite of her panphobia (fear of everything), something about her persuaded us to give her a chance. Although the jury's still out on the wisdom of that decision, the glimpses of the dog she can be are becoming a little more frequent, lasting a little bit longer.
I can't imagine there will ever come a day when I search out perfection, when I forget the satisfaction to be had from investing some time. The destination isn't always the best part of the trip. Challenges make life interesting. And meeting those challenges makes it special.
The table, chairs and buffet that I'm hoping to bring home aren't in good shape. A person doesn't have to know much about restoration to recognize the amount of work it will take.
Yet I can't stop thinking about them. Can't stop seeing how they could look.
And if they're still there tomorrow, they're mine.
Karin Fuller can be reached via e-mail at karinful...@cnpapers.com.
Her columns can be found online through her blog at thegazz.com.