Last weekend, we went to an auction.
It was amazing, thrilling, and sad at the same time… I had no idea how exciting an auction could be… antiques (I LOVE antiques), my favorite knickknacks, gifts, you name it, it was there. The sadness was in the fact that a dear and beautiful friend and her husband is leaving town to find the peace and solitude of the mountains. She is a rare gem of kindness in a world where these gems are becoming more and more rare…
I did come home with some wonderful items, and once they graced our threshold, I went on a decorating rampage. I love decorating homes, but with little time for such hobbies, this was a healing treat to my soul. After a couple days of figuring out where these elegantly simple items would go, what happened next is common when you get new furniture or new decorations or a new home.
You see how appalling some of your old stuff looks.
Enter stage left: my kitchen table.
Now, for some of you who may not know, a table that feeds 10 people acquires a bit of ‘wear and tear’ in less time than it takes one to say ‘constant bleach spray.’ For those in real estate, you might use the word ‘distressed’ and ‘delightfully aged.’ For those of us in the real world, we would use the term ‘frightfully beat up.’
Oh, it’s a nice table. Solid wood, and it had like 10 layers of professional varnish on it originally. It didn’t take very long for our family of young ‘uns, 8 kiddos 12 and under, to remove the layers, and for me to subsequently scrub the heck out of it. I don’t know about you, but I prefer less than 3 layers of jelly cement where my plate sits when I eat, even though the red hue might be called ‘delightfully distressed brick-red antique markings’ by those in real estate. To me, it’s called ‘gross.’
So I set out to re-varnish my table. How hard could it be?
(For those of you unfamiliar with movies, this question has the same answer as that question asked in action films: ‘What could possibly happen?’ or ‘How much worse could it get?’)
So a couple days ago, I stripped the table (after the bleach spray) and began to put thin layers of varnish 6 hours apart upon the table. By yesterday evening, it looked gorgeous. Oh yeah, baby, I was PROUD. See? I can do these things! What’s the big deal? I was so proud that I put a heavy ceramic flower vase in the middle of it last night. Beautiful.
This morning, there was a nice circular dent in the varnish in the shape of the bottom of the ceramic vase. Oops. No worries… I’ll just put on an extra coat! So that’s what I did, and it, too, was even more gorgeous. Plus, it added another layer on a table that really could use 20 layers of barrier between children and bare wood. I prided myself on an even more beautiful job well-done and went upstairs to work on other chores like piles of laundry while the varnish dried.
After a few hours, I wanted to see how the drying process was going on my ‘new’ beautiful table.
Now, for those of you who are familiar with farms, we sometimes have a fly or two. OK, I’m being nice. We have a ridiculous amount of flies in fly season, which is typically Augustish – Septemberish. With a dairy and goats in heat, I think every fly in Colorado makes a bee-line for our property during these two months. Not to mention, we are surrounded by cattle ranches. We have an ongoing battle keeping those dudes OUT of our house, including myself yelling in an inappropriate tone: “CLOSE THE FRONT DOOR!!!!!!!!!” to any chillens that casually leave it open. Sometimes, I’ve even accidentally yelled at a guest. Sorry.
So as I inspected my handiwork, I was horrified to notice that FOUR flies had landed and died on the wet/tacky varnish. AAAaaagggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And then I composed myself. I got a sharp-tipped knife and removed them one by one, all the while blocking out in my mind what I was doing (bug phobia). Turns out, it went well, with almost no difference on the table.
Except for one fly that had embedded itself so perfectly, that when I removed it, there was a perfect, much lighter colored area on the wood of the shape of a fly, looking like it had fossilized. No. NOOOOOOO!!!!!!! There would not WOULD NOT be the mark of my mortal enemy on my table. No. I had it perfect. I could have been OK with the mark of anything else. A pacifier. A bottle. A diaper. But not a fly. Not a symbol of what I fight tooth and nail all summer with free ranging chickens and fly predators (which are expensive, by the way) and hours upon hours of swatting and trapping. NO!
I composed myself again, and said, ‘now dear shalimamma, just put a bit of varnish over that spot, and you should be good to go!’ And asked I that question again ‘how hard can it be?’
So I covered the spot. Easily at first… except now there was a ridiculously opaque DARK brown spot in the middle of the table. So naturally, I tried to blend it with the surrounding area. And blend… and blend… until now there was a HUGE opaque area of dark brown that looked horrible and tacky at the edges (since the varnish had already begun to dry.)
So, naturally, in order to get the varnish wet again, I brought out the paint thinner.
I thinned the area and put on another layer… the whole thing got bigger and bigger until I was thinning and revarnishing and blending the whole table, and getting madder and madder while dealing with things like ‘one of my hairs falling into the wet varnish because I foolishly forgot to pull back my hair.’ I worked on it and worked on it and thought of all the other things I really should have been doing, and wondered why flies existed in the first place and swore to kill every relative of the ones who had landed on my precious table…
When finally the table came to a nice planned rustic look (in real estate language), or ‘over-stained’ in normal language, and I was satisfied… but as with all irritating things like this, I had a thought…
Isn’t this just what we do? We have an imperfection which no one would hardly notice, but we want to appear perfect so badly that we spend most of our hours and days covering up way WAY more than we need to. To the point where the cover-up looks much worse than the original fly imprint. I realized how I do this… even though I try to be transparent… and I make a mess of things by trying to hide under layers of varnish.
I also thought of how I let down my guard with the flies and went upstairs… when I should have been standing guard like I did with that first layer several days ago. Flies creep in if we’re not watching. With this last layer, (oh yes, LAST, or the thing will be black), I stood guard.
Perhaps I should be a little more relaxed about the one or two fly fossils. After all, we all have them hiding in there somewhere… underneath our ‘glossy, sturdy, impenetrable surface’… right?