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Who's going to want that old furniture? Lots of folks, it seems.

I waited near the corner to see what would happen.

By C.L. Votaw / February 9, 2009

JUNK? Old items stashed in storage, such as these broken antique chairs, could find purpose in a new home.

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"Everything OK?" I asked my nephew.

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"Just fine," he replied for perhaps the 20th time.

He had always been a patient child. Now grown, he builds houses for a living. That's why I thought he might be able to assemble my new desk, which came in a box. It seemed complicated to me, so I kept checking with him from time to time, just in case he needed my help.

In between our conversations, I looked at my other furniture. So many projects! I had collected six fabulous dining room chairs, all of which were broken. That was the only way they matched. The initial investment was only a dollar or two per chair, so I reasoned that the splintered arms, tattered seats, loose joints, dull finishes, and chipped ornamentation were worth it. I was sure that each piece of worn junk could be transformed into a gorgeous dining chair with just a few hours of work.

That is, it would be quick work if I already knew how to fix all those problems.

Instead, the chairs leaned around my table for months, waiting for me to learn how to fix them. My dining room looked like the garage sales where I purchased the chairs in the first place.

In addition to the chairs, there was also a battered traveling trunk in front of the couch. The trunk would make a quaint coffee table – as soon as I refinished the surface – somehow. And there were several large, charming storage boxes that I had salvaged, even though I didn't have anything to put in them. Plus I had to dispose of my old desk to make room for the new one.

My nephew took a break and helped me carry the old desk outside. We could put it in the bed of his truck so he could drop it off at a thrift store donation center. Or we could disassemble it and slide it into the back seat of my car and I would make the trip to the donation center. Or we could take it out to what I now call the "disappearing corner" near my house and wait to see if any passersby would take it. The weather was good, and hundreds of cars were swooshing by. Giving it away on the street seemed worth a try.

We set the desk on the corner and I affixed a large "FREE" sign to it. My nephew returned to the house, but I waited near the corner to see what would happen.

Ten minutes later, the desk was gone.

Next, I trotted out with one of my broken chairs and waited to see what would happen. As soon as that chair was gone, I brought out more and watched passing cars and trucks stop to pick them up. As soon as all the chairs were gone, I brought out the old trunk, then those free storage containers I didn't need.

All my onerous projects were gone within an hour.

Then it was time to check on my nephew again – I hoped that he hadn't missed me.

The new desk was assembled, and he had found a place to sit and enjoy refreshments after his labor. I joined him and then looked around at my "empty" home – empty of projects calling my name. Instead, there was time, space, and quietude.

"You got a lot done today," said my nephew. I nodded in agreement. So young and yet so wise! Sometimes the most effective way to do a project is to let someone else do it.

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