Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to put things away. She would roam from room to room to set things right and conceal objects behind doors. Her very favorite pastime was to collect like things and put them in boxes, drawers, or bins and label them. She did this for many years, always gleaning new pleasure from each mess made neat.

One day, absentmindedly, she said to her husband, “I want an old library card catalog to have and to hold and to stuff things in and label.” Her husband, being a kind and loving man who took great joy in bringing the girl happiness, sought out a vintage library card catalog and surprised the girl with it. She was overjoyed and her husband received many kisses. Stars in their eyes, they set about refinishing the piece.

First, they took off all the hardware and set it aside:

Then, they sanded each box and each of the 45 drawers over and over again. This took so long, the girl became fatigued of the task and abandoned her husband to sand each piece by hand without any help. The girl should be ashamed of herself.

After one long year of on and off sanding, the card catalog was finally ready to be finished. But first, the girl went back and forth at least a half dozen times about the color. Her sweet and patient husband almost went mad with her indecisiveness. When she chose a stain, she rejoined him in this final push to finish the project.

So they stained. And stained. And stained some more. One coat, then two coats. Then a coat of sealant, then another coat of sealant.

At long last, the girl and her husband tracked down the bag of hardware and washed each piece, making it shine all bright and bronzey. As they cleaned, the girl thought of her letterpress collection and how neatly each drawer would hold several specimens and keep them in place. Buoyed by these high hopes, they reassembled the card catalog and she set to work stocking it.

And then–the labels. Here was the penultimate moment, the reason for this cabinet’s being: to be stuffed and labeled and so bring happiness to its owners.

The girl beamed with radiant delight and left this message to her diligent, hard-working husband:

photos (and all the work on the cabinet): Brad Linberg