I put the sander down, stand back and admire my work. I didn’t realize how much time I’d spent hunched over the little wooden table, slowly guiding the sander back and forth over the grainy wood. My hands still feel the vibrations and my ears ring from the abrasive sound, even though the sander now lies silent and still on the ground.
The task had my full attention, temporarily stopping rogue thoughts in their tracks. According to a study, the average person has 6,200 thoughts per day. I’m not surprised. I know I’m not alone either when I say that lately my thoughts stray to the terrible news flooding newspapers, TV and social media.
Lately, the image of an Afghan father who had to sell his daughters to feed the rest of his family plagues me. I can’t get the idea of migrants trying to cross the Polish border being sprayed with tear gas and water canons out of my head either. And we think our freedom has been compromised because we have to wear masks, be vaccinated or restrict travel? I’m not trying to minimize the impact of COVID but these stories give me a different perspective.
So I took on the “little blue table” project in part to short circuit the unwanted thoughts in my head. The table was left behind by the former owners of our house and first served as my son’s desk in grade school. We painted it bright blue with a resilient plastic paint. Not resilient enough, it seems. The table bore pockmarks and ring-shaped stains from water glasses that once rested on its surface while my son did his homework. When he started high school, we bought him a real desk. The table was relegated to storage in the basement, and pulled out occasionally for use as a dining room table extension.
The table isn’t anything special and it doesn’t have any value. But for some reason, I could never part with it. So until recently, it sat in the basement, covered with dust, forlornly waiting for the day we would need it again. Then a few months ago, it dawned on me that with a little loving care, it would be perfect as a writing nook in my bedroom.
So, on an unseasonably warm, late-September day, Phase 1 began. I dragged the table outside under the shade of a tree. First I slathered paint stripper all over it. Next I waited (I’d like to say patiently but that would be lying) and watched as the stripper worked its magic and the paint began to blister. That’s when the hard work began. Starting at one end, I scraped the paint until it came off in big blue blobs that landed on the plastic tarp on the ground. A few hours and a few more applications of stripper later, all the blue was gone, leaving an uneven, mahogany-like wood stain. Sanding would be Phase 2 but it would have to wait for another day.
Weeks later, I am finally finished sanding and the wood is soft and smooth to the touch. I’ve already decided that the final phase of the makeover will be a few coats of fresh, white paint.
I started the project to give this little table new life. In truth, it gave me new life too. The hours I spent working on it were an escape that not only entertained me, but gave me a sense of purpose and satisfaction. That’s a big accomplishment for a little blue table.
To donate to help in Afghanistan:
Doctors Without Borders
To donate to help migrants at Belarus-Polish border:
American Red Cross
And now for some light-hearted reading: