As the unrelenting march of time turns day into night and back again into day, weeks slip by never to be recovered and what seemed like a period of time unfathomable suddenly becomes a period of time past. We are faced with an act of renewal–either a renewal of the known, to accept the status quo and maintain what is comfortable and assured; or a renewal of the spirit, giving way to the ephemeral nature of humanity and embracing the only constant any of us face: change.
The renter’s life is an ever-constant negotiation of renewal and acceptance. Accepting another 12 months of the known or accepting 12 months of the unknown.
One of the things that any scavenger of the Free Stuff listings will quickly learn is that the first and last week of any month are prime times for locating treasures discarded in the disarray that accompanies an acceptance of change. In the frenetic dash to consolidate our lives into tidy, cardboard-enshrouded quanta, destined for vans, trucks or the back seats of cars, we find ourselves making hasty decisions; casting off the material bonds that we have accumulated since our last renewal. Purging and cleansing what is no longer necessary or desired or simply what no longer fits into what our lives have become.
These are frantic designs of change into which the scavenger wriggles, ever seeking to cull from this chaos a glimmer of reward: a modicum of symbiotic relief as one person’s anxiety is assuaged with their divestment, while the other’s addictions are fed with their acquisition.
This is my happy place.
The post-Christmas season can be an anticlimactic time, when celebrations are winding down and pant sizes are rounding up. It also signals the end of not only a month, but also a year. I found this particular bookcase, upside-down in a picture that was taken to capture a room full of furniture that was up for grabs. The owners had rented and lived in the same house for (if I recall correctly) over two decades. The house was being sold and so they were moving on, but without a good bulk of their belongings.
What caught my eye with this bookcase was not so much the bookcase, but the hairpin legs. Having priced hairpin legs for another project, I was comfortable with taking this entire bookcase, regardless of the condition, just for the legs.
When I arrived to pick up the bookcase, it was every bit as beat-up as I feared. Coming from a smoking house, the wood retained a tarry, stale cigarette smell. The entire structure was frighteningly wobbly and one shelf had split where the screw affixed it to the side.
The bookcase was very obviously handmade and would have probably fared better as a refinishing project in more skilled hands than my own. Because of the odd moulding that was used to finish around the edges, and the quarter rounds used to support the shelves, it created some interesting joints that I didn’t feel like tackling to stain and capture the essence of the wood grain.
The structural integrity of the bookcase also played a part in this decision, by virtue of needing a good shoring. Using a clamp and some wood glue, my first task was to repair the shelf that had split. Once the glue had dried, I filled in the areas that had splintered out with some wood putty.
I then proceeded to systematically strengthen all of the joints with glue and wood putty, until it comfortably supported its own weight, while remaining (mostly) true, square and plumb. Once this was done, I was able to reuse some of the green paint from the Trash Pile Bookcase and breathe new life into something that might otherwise have lain rotting in a landfill.
Ironically enough, after refinishing this bookcase and ultimately selling it, I still haven’t found a satisfactory use for those hairpin legs. One day…
- Wood putty
- Green mystery paint