The past week, I’ve been learning more lessons from the countertop. As I’ve mentioned before, my kitchen cabinets are topped with teak planks hand-rubbed with tung oil. Keeping them in top shape requires a light sanding and a couple of coats of oil every year-and-a-half or so.
For the first 8 years, I was meticulous in maintaining this routine. An occasional stain would require a sanding and blending in between. I would do this relatively soon. And so it continued until 2016. At that point, a series of events in my family changed my priorities.
Since then, a significant amount of my time has been devoted to caregiving and administering affairs. Oiling the countertops fell close to the bottom of my priority list. The surface of the teak suffered.
Last week, I decided now is the time to sand, oil, and even out the surface. I allotted two days of disruption and moved the dish drainer, cutting boards, knives, coffee setup, and spice rack. The microwave, mug tree, mugs, and snack bowl had to go as well. The dining table was covered.
I began the project. Two days turned into four and the difference in condition proved slight.
Each coat of tung oil has to dry for 24 hours before another sanding can be done or oil can be added. After 5 days, there were still lighter and darker spots. And I discovered the rim around the sink needed special care.
After another day of adding oil only to lighter spots, I thought I’d lightly scrub with steel wool, add a coat of oil, and be done.
Nope. While that coat went on smoothly, once it dried there were areas that continued to show wear.
Today is day nine. The surfaces I use most must still be kept empty. Cooking is more difficult. Dish washing is more difficult. (Oh yeah, I have no working dishwasher because I managed to melt the handle of the knife against the heating element. But that’s a whole other saga to be dealt with.) My table still has no free surface and I need to clean out the refrigerator. It would be an understatement to say, I am ready for this project to be done! I am more than ready!
I was tempted to treat today as the last day no matter what. Truthfully, I’ve had that thought for days. But after wiping off the excess oil from carefully chosen areas of wear this morning, something happened…I could suddenly see that the spot treating was making an improvement.
NINE days of sandpaper, steel wool, oil-oil-oil, steel wool, oil-oil-oil, steel wool, oil-oil-oil until I can finally see the process will work…eventually. We’re still a few days away.
Yesterday, I was frustrated by the mess, tired of the work-arounds, annoyed by trying cook with the spice rack in a different room and a small wooden tray to hold bowls and pans for prep. Today, I feel less frustrated. Why?
Because today I can see the value in what I’ve been doing.
So what are the lessons from the countertop?
1)If something does damage over a long period of time, the time it takes to repair may be lengthy as well (although short in comparison – years vs days).
2)Repair of deep-seated scars must be done in layers that must be given time to dry, jell, set, or cure. Glossing over too much too fast will not create a resilient surface.
3)It is difficult to keep going when you can’t see progress. It takes faith, commitment, and perseverance.
4)Allowing frustration to rule leaves no room to practice patience.
5)Seeing the value in a process makes related tasks less frustrating.
And while I’ve been learning these lessons specifically in relation to wood repair, they apply to pretty much everything I can think of.
Try them on and see if they fit your current frustration.