Cabinet Of Curiousities

I started reading this great book a couple of days ago about what the author learned by interviewing people who had lived past the age of 100 and also happened to be alive at the time of the interview. (Clarity is everything.)

What really caught my attention was how the author described the somewhat-wrinkled interviewees: ” Most of the centenarians were models of perseverance and positive thinking. They had open minds and open hearts. They were curious and generous and fun.”

These sound like people I would like to hang out with, that’s for sure. But I also thought that curious and fun were excellent words to help us glide into the rest of this post, which basically consists of some curious odds and ends that might even be funny…

Take, for example, the tool cabinet that appears as the featured image for this post. In case you’re curious, that is the tool cabinet of the legendary tool cabinet builder, Civil War veteran and equally legendary pianomaker, Henry O. Studley.

Henry O Studley in his workshop
Henry in close proximity to his tool cabinet but social distancing from his piano. Oops! I meant physical distancing.

There’s a whole book about this guy’s tool cabinet written by a fellow by the name of Donald C. Williams1. You should read it. It might prove to be a life-changing experience for you. Like Mr. Williams, you might find the following passage to be particularly moving-if you’re into awls or possibly nickel-plated brass tubing. Or you just happen to like moving passages.

Moving passage on page 123

Seriously, it’s a magnificent book and one hell of a tool cabinet. Learning about the Studley cabinet is a great way to exercise your curiosity. Incidentally, you can rearrange the name Henry O. Studley into “Hey dusty loner!”- a handy greeting you can use if you happen to encounter a road-stained, solitary traveller!

Man walking along lonely trail stretchin into the distance
“Hey dusty loner!”

All this talk about curiosity naturally brings me to the topic of cats in general, and my cat Zoe in particular. Cats are curious creatures and Zoe is no exception. When Zoe isn’t doing her Great Horned Owl impersonation she can often be found investigating things such as empty paper bags. To be honest, quite often the investigations consist mostly of roosting.

Zoe knows that humans are also a curious bunch-especially the ones who live past the age of 100-so here she is roosting/investigating but also leaving the very tip of her tail outside the bag as a lure in case anyone wants to conduct a thorough investigation of her approximately 40 year-old tail. (The units here are cat years by the way.)

tip of a cat's tail protruding from a paper bag

Moving right along, many of us probably know that in addition to a penchant for paper bags, cats also like liver. This brings me to my cousin, who is a meticulous builder and also happens to have a pretty respectable grasp of the English language in all its splendor. He possesses a deep fondness for bacon as we’ll discover. His liver is in fine shape as far as I know. For all these reasons and many more, you would love to have this guy do work on your house. He’s also great to have as a blood relative if you don’t mind my saying so.

My cousin and I have talked about many diverse subjects over the years. These subjects do not include Mr. Studley’s tool cabinet, oddly enough. This I regret deeply. If there was ever grist for the mill of a meticulous craftsman like my cousin, it would be that tool cabinet.

To make up for not bringing him up to speed on the well-documented tool cabinet, I thought I would finish off this post by including a liver-related birthday greeting he sent me the other day:

All you need to know about liver is…that it tastes like liver. Everyone knows what iron filings are, right? In Science Class? The tiny bits of metal that you would dump on a sheet of paper, put a magnet under and watch as the bits form a pattern? Yeah. Iron filings. I’ve never eaten iron filings but I’m pretty sure they taste exactly like liver.

Hell, we’ve tried to dress it up through the centuries: fried onions, bacon. Liver almost ruined both those things for me. Can you even imagine…hating bacon? Today we have 163 mustards from which to choose. What we really have is 163 failed attempts to mask-not enhance-the taste of liver. (For something to be enhanced, it has to have something going for it in the first place.)

So why do we eat liver? Because it’s plentiful and inexpensive. Wait! So is cardboard! Aha! They might taste the same, but liver is good for you whereas everyone who has ever read a cereal box knows that cardboard probably causes cancer. And all of us have probably had this interchange at the dinner table:

Mom: Eat that liver.

You: What if I don’t?

Mom: You’ll be punished.

You: Really? The only thing worse than eating this liver would be eating my own liver.

Happy Birthday Cuz!! Go easy on your liver.

Footnotes

1.Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet And Workbench Of Henry O. Studley

2. I forgot to talk about the workbench.

Author:

Dave Barry fan and Medical Director at Rocky Mountain Analytical