Cursed by the Old Woman in the Marketplace

Well, it sounds dramatic, gentle reader, on purpose. To be honest, she was not that old–older than me, but not a crone, and it wasn’t a marketplace, it was an estate sale in Republic last Saturday. And she didn’t mean it as a curse.

As you might know, gentle reader, I have been on a multi-decade quest, well, not so much a quest as something I think of from time to time, to replace the remaining Sauder particle board printer stands used as major pieces of furniture at Nogglestead. These printer stands come right out of the 1990s, with a slit in the top where you can slide the pin-fed paper for your dot matrix printer. Back shortly after the turn of the century, one often found them at garage sales for a couple of dollars, or at least I did, when I was furnishing an apartment and later a house or two. So I picked them up, and they have faithfully served as side tables and entertainment centers for almost a quarter of a century.

So I’ve started stopping at intermittent garage sales and an estate sale or two, maybe one a month, looking for an actual end table. Not just any end table, but an end table that costs about $20.

So I made an outing of it on Saturday, going to breakfast with my oldest son and stopping at a couple of yard sales on the way. On the way back, I told the bored boy (well, almost-man) that the estate sale whose signs we followed deep into a subdivision would be the last one. It was billed as an estate sale, but it was not run by a professional company–it was mostly in a garage. It looked like the man of the house had passed and the mother was downsizing. The garage was full of tools and whatnot, but a sign said “Furniture inside.” So I went inside, and I found what looked to be a serviceable end table, and it was only $20.

As I carried it out, the woman cursed me: “If you’re looking for projects, there’s a cart in the corner. If you like to refinish things.”

I had my hands full, so I could not make a gesture of warding, so I was cursed.

When I got home, I looked at the end table, and it had some dings in it and some of the parts were colored a little differently, so I decided maybe I would refinish it before bringing it in. Instead of bringing it into the house right away, I set it down in the garage.

I had a little time on Saturday afternoon, so I thought I would strip the finish off of it and apply one of my 20-year-old stains (some are younger, only a decade or so old, but I don’t remember which). But my 20-year-old can of stripper was empty, having sublimated sometime in the passed years. So I stopped at Ace Hardware and bought a new can of stripper and a new can of dark stain for $40. Which, if you’re accounting, makes this $20 end table into a $60 end table.

If it makes it out of the garage. I still have a coffee table and two end table set that my brother gave me about 20 years ago, broken down into pieces for easy refinishing (and, more importantly, easy moving from our first rented house to Casinoport to Old Trees to Nogglestead). I also have a little child/doll rocking chair, again broken down for refinishing and it turns out easy moving, that I picked up at a garage sale over 20 years ago. And a desk I bought in 1999 whose metal pulls and accents I removed to refinish, but it got pressed into actual service sometime in those years and has adorned my office, sans pulls and accents, for two decades. Somehow, one of the metal accent pieces has ended up on my workbench in the garage. I’m not sure where the others are, but I presume they’re together.

So the new end table is out in the garage, where projects go to be forgotten or ignored for a long, long time.

Perhaps the woman cursed the end table and not me. But time will tell how soon I get any of this done. After all, playing a couple of turns of an old version of Civilization that turns into a couple hours of an old version of Civilization is far easier, and as we go into summer, cooler.

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