Monday, May 11, 2009

Multipurpose Drool

As any mortified parent who didn't vacuum yesterday can tell you, a drooling baby picks up dust-bunnies like nobodys business. Having had one to many occasions to contemplate this phenomenon, I've concluded that there's an evolutionary adaptation at work here.

First of all, there's camouflage. On a forest floor, that untended baby would be picking up leaves and small twigs, disguising it from predators whilst mommy and daddy are hunting, or gathering or making more siblings or what have you. Pretty hand really.

Next, when mommy and daddy catch their breath and notice the baby is beyond dirty, they are inspired to clean it. This is good for the baby. I'm sure there were parents who weren't moved to clean baby under those circumstances. Those babies probably didn't grow up to make more babies. You see how this evolution thing is working.

Finally, the mortification of the aforementioned parents at finding baby plastered with dirt inspires a few gray hairs, and shaves a few days off the lifespan, thus shortening the amount of time mom and dad will be around to hog up all the good food. This last element is a process that escalates as a child grows older, culminating in some cases in outright parricide. For examples, see the histories of pretty much any royal family, or spend a few minutes trying to talk to a teenager. Be careful, I'm told they bite.

(Neither the author of this blog nor any of his subsidiary contributors bears any responsibility for injuries sustained while trying to discuss the intricacies of baby drool and food supplies with teenagers.)

Something Old, Something New

A few days ago, I took out a really old piece of family furniture to clean it up and see if I could give it a new life. It's a long low cabinet with an odd history. My great grandfather worked as a delivery man for a dry-goods warehouse back around the turn of the century. The turn of the twentieth century that is. He drove a wagon drawn by a team of horses.

The cabinet originally came out of the warehouse where he worked. It stayed in his basement for untold decades, a home for tools, half used cans of paint, and other odds and ends. After that, it made it's way to my dad's garage where it stayed for another few decades. I can distinctly recall the handful of tools, fishing tackle, paint, lawn jarts, car parts and motor oil living there when I was a kid. When my parents sold their old home, it ended up in a storage unit for years, and was nearly let go, but for my saying I wanted it.

When I set it down in my driveway to clean it up, it looked used up. Used hard. One end was stained where a pan of motor oil had spilled over the top of it. The doors were stuck closed or broken. Spray paint marred some of them. Another had a few slugs from a long forgotten pellet gun. The dark reddish-brown finish was covered in a century of grime and dust.

I took the doors off and set them aside. Then, with a bucket of soapy water and brush, I started scrubbing, inside and out. A few hours later, the rich grain of oak peered out from beneath the grime. The golden color of the wood looked happy to see the sun. The few stains and scars that remain are only smile lines.

A little polish and repair work took only a short time more. Now the open shelves are home to a colorful collection of children's toys and books. The television and a couple of houseplants sit on top. Sometimes recycling is a feel good exercise.