I picked up a pair of shoes from the cobbler today. The whole idea pleases me immensely--drop off an injured shoe--heel worn down, strap torn--and turn up three weeks later to pick it up. Besides the obvious draws--recycling, supporting a local small business--there's also the fact that my great-grandpa was a cobbler. We have a photo of him standing in the basement of the Kansas hotel where his shop was located, wearing a long leather apron, surrounded by dozens of pairs of shoes.
His son, my grandfather, loved to refinish furniture. My aunt told me this, in April. How did I not know? Maybe I did, deep down--a whiff of sawdust brings back a flood of happy grandpa memories, a madeleine a la Proust. When I was a kid, his daughter--my Mom--re-did an entire cherry wood upright piano, sanding and varnishing it completely by hand. Next winter, when I'm tucked away in the basement with my Dremel contour sander, sweat dripping off my safety glasses, I'll think of them and this wood-working DNA we share.
I also inherited another of mom's affinities. From the bus this morning I spied a pile of interesting junk on a corner, labeled with that magical word: FREE. Later, I detoured to that corner, and sure enough, the pile was still there. What I thought was a shiny red bread box was a strange square microwave, with a broken door latch. I walked on. Oh well. Free isn't worth extra radiation with my nachos.