I’ve got a few rocking chairs. Maybe it’s sort of like a hope chest, and if I get enough of them I’ll be able to retire. Except it hasn’t worked. Good try, though.

My first rocker is still my favorite. I picked it up down on the corner of 38th and, maybe 20th ave? long, long ago. I was working with a woman who lived in the same neighborhood, who had been eying it up also, but I jumped first. (Irrelevant, but still makes it a little sweeter.) Stupidhead is all about the sucking up to me these days, and is bored stiff, so he decided to clean it up a little.

I only left him alone in the garage with it for a couple of hours, I swear. Three weeks later, it is back together.

It was fun, except for the parts where I had to yell at him to not turn it into a Frankenstein. Except it already was; Stupidhead figured it had been repaired (or “butchered,” as he put it) three times. I’ve had the chair for probably 25 years, and had never really looked at what was going on with it. I’d noticed bits and pieces, like the 45-degree chop in the front of the one leg where somebody had put in a replacement bolt, and the nails driven through the top of the arms into the legs. But I’d never thought about what all had happened to it. It was obviously designed for a big person, and a really big person must have used it and abused it. There is a stress fracture across the grain in one of the back uprights, and another in one of the legs. The wood itself is terribly dried out, and a few peg holes had to be reinforced. It creaks like crazy now, all the joints settling back into place.

But the biggest thing is the finish. The chair is oak, probably lightly fumed. Stupidhead wandered around our good friend the internet and found a new old technique called french polish, multiple thin, thin layers of shellac. Now this battered old cheap piece of crap rocker glows. I was almost late to work this morning; I was walking past it and the thin light of early morning set it off, and I had to stop for a minute and stare at the grain in the seat.

And this is where it gets cosmic. I’m reading a book by Laurie R. King, the one who wrote “The Bee-Keeper’s Apprentice,” called “Folly.” (Really good, by the way; set in the San Juan Islands.) The protagonist in this book is a woodworker; she talks about a piece finished in french polish. I am so cool. I know how to do it.

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