As a kid, I spent many hours exploring my grandparents barn. They didn’t farm, so the barn was used in a unique variety of ways; space was rented for an antique car collection, mounds of sawdust were heaped in one area, the purpose unknown to me, some truck repair appeared to occur in a shop in the back, and there were stacks and stacks of old chicken crates and other chicken related apparatus.
I am recalling these things through the lens of a 8-12 year old boy so my understanding of certain uses was hazy at the time. The old car area was creepy and I explored it infrequently, as I was never sure if I was really allowed to be there, The cars were owned by my mother’s cousin, although I didn’t know that at the time. To me it was just this amazing room filled with pre-1950’s (a guess) cars covered in a think layer of dust.
The sawdust room, was pure joy to enter, and pure itching to exit. As a child, I had trouble connecting the cause and effect relationship, allowing for many a happy afternoon romping through this larger then life pile, only to spend the remainder of the day itching, sneezing, and picking at my socks. I couldn’t seem to just play around the edges of the pile, I had to get in.
After an afternoon of sock picking, I thought up an idea for materials to stick together, alas Velcro was already invented some 50 years earlier (sadly, I’m always late with inventive ideas, just recently I thought up a bungee cord cargo net for securing goods in my trailer which just happens to already by for sale in a wide variety of stores).
The real adventures began as I explored the upstairs, whether there was actual stairs, or a ladder, I don’t recall. Either way, the top floor was a maze of old wooden chicken crates, birds bones crunched underfoot, and large windows, the glass long gone provided the only light.
It was hot.
I never lingered in this area, except to sit in the windows, feet dangling onto the roof, enjoying the view below. Falling, while lively and briefly exciting, would have ruined the afternoon, and I wasn’t finished picking sawdust from my socks, so I never exited the barn in this manner.
As if I were a giant magnet working in a recycling center, barn dust and grime positively coated my exterior, I left footprints as I walked. As a kid, getting dirty of was one of my daily objectives, still is in-fact, and the barn allowed me to exceed my own high expectations prior to lunch.
Fast forward a few years…
As the arrival of my first child neared I grew nostalgic for my own childhood memories, saddened that I no longer have access to the barn, I set about recreating the experience in the soon to be born child’s room. My wife, in full blown nesting mode that only a bald eagle could relate to; thought dust and dirt would go wonderfully with the crib she was assembling with sticks and branches.
How would I go about creating this dusty scene you ask?
Would I vacuum without the bag attachment, would I open the windows and inject the contents of my yard, or would I remove the air filter from the heating unit allowing a fine coating to permeate every surface? Of course not, those activities are all pointless, accomplishing nothing. Rather, I got out the power sander, and set to work, prepping my old dressers for a new finish.
I sanded and sanded, dust flew and my nostrils clogged. I sneezed frequently, adding fresh moisture to the woody mixture. Soon all surfaces were coated, dust dripped from my body as I moved, my clothing provided more warmth as I added an insulating layer of wood particles.
My recreation was wonderfully perfect, until my wife knocked on the door, reviving me from dreamland. I quickly grabbed a rag, that was already dust covered mind you, and proceeded with a frantic attempt to get the dust airborne, hoping she wouldn’t notice the fog-like cloud and it would all just drift out the window.
Before my plan could be executed she entered and burst into tears. I didn’t remember anyone crying during barn play as a child, so I asked her to to kindly leave if she wasn’t going to play right. Fortunately, the dressers ended up looking beautiful, matching the new crib to perfection, and the dust was gone long before the baby arrived.
Smartly, this past summer, I refinished the third piece in the set, in the garage. I sanded, painted, and stained, all in peace and harmony. I renewed old furniture that had been in my mother’s room, my room, and now my children’s rooms, allowing a bit of family history to live on. I easily saved several hundred dollars compared to going out and buying new furniture. Doing the work myself meant I only spent money on materials, which amounted to a can of paint, and a can of stain, costing only around $50 dollars total. I followed my own advice and improved my skills. Created a fun summer activity. I didn’t even need to buy new tools.
Have you ever restored something of value, or are you always going out and buying new stuff?