Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I had purchased new blue lights to replace the older bulb lights that we gave away two years ago, and it took some remembering why we had done that (we were tired of them) so this morning found us finishing up the job started yesterday: clipping on the remainder of lights along the roof line and winding them around bushes and trees. As I wound the lights around the hideous lavender bush (it needs to be yanked and replanted--one of the side effects of being that intimate with your front yard is realizing how long you've ignored it), I thought about the house across the street and the difference between her Christmas decorations and mine.
She has candy canes and gingerbread men. I have strands of lights woven in among dying lavender bushes, the places where the strands join together carefully taped with silver duct tape. Hers look great in the day, but disappear at night. You should probably avert your eyes from ours in the day, but hey--in the night we really shine. Literally.
It got me thinking about my day yesterday, with three doctor visits. The first, to a dentist, started with me tripping and landing on all fours on the pavement outside in the parking lot. I looked down and there were no holes in my new jeans, but hidden by those jeans, my knees were quite sore and achy, and my hands hurt although on the surface although they looked fine. I think my ego was more bruised than my body, but still.
The next doctor was to schedule one of those loathsome every-ten-year tests. And the last doctor was the oncologist--a check up on last year's cancer surgery. Sitting in waiting rooms gave me a chance to think about what goes on under the skin, physically. I do spend some time in church thinking about what goes on under the skin, spiritually, and if my outward pronouncements and behavior match up with my desire to have a generous heart. But to sit and think of the muscles, tissues, bones, blood systems, cancer and surgical scars is not something I usually do. Or like to do.
It's kind of like my Christmas lights. Even though we'd rather not, we have to open ourselves up to the harsh light of day to see the woody stems, prickly branches and dead spots. I realize that I'm lucky in that I don't have endless doctor's visits; these are sporadic events. Yet they force me to think about mortality, about relationships -- all those Big Things -- as I wait for my turn to be called back to the exam room.
But I'd rather think about last night when I went outside to see what our handiwork had wrought: the blue lights were a slice of the heavens of blue and white stars in outer space. I thought of that phrase from The Little Prince, by de Saint Expury, paraphrased here: What is essential is hidden from our eyes. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. I know he did not mean that heart of the doctor's office.
So for now, for this Christmas season, although I am aware on those things that are hidden, I'm keeping my eyes -- and heart -- focused heavenward, on the glowing lights.
Monday, November 19, 2012
The other day I was shopping for a lamp.
I wanted a floor lamp that my husband and I could read by, and in the old language, I needed at least 100 watts of light.
This is where I get all Republican-y and decry the government's intrusion into my life. They are replacing all the lightbulbs because someone has deemed them awful and wasteful and they need to go. I do have a pack of 100-watters sitting out in my garage, no, make that two packs, because you can't buy those anymore--they're gone gone gone from the shelves. But, I digress.
I talked to the young woman (maybe 20 years old?) at IKEA. She had no clue. I asked her if they had lamps that could take the equivalent of 100-watt lightbulbs. She nodded and jumped on the computer in front of her, typing, pulling faces, typing. I stood there like a doofus while her fingers clattered away.
"No," she finally said. "We don't have any 100-watt lightbulbs."
"I know that, " I said in an even tone, but firm, voice. "I want a lamp that will have the equivalent of 100-watts of light."
"Well, you don't have to yell at me."
I convinced her to walk away from her keyboard and come help me. But she wasn't any help at all, only lifting up tags to read them. She knew less than I did.
(marginally helpful chart that I discovered much later)
Now I'm at Target. Two very nice twenty-somethings. Confusion. The young man insisted that I couldn't swap out the lower bulb--13 watt CFL with a 60-watt equivalency-- for the 26 watt CFL (100 watt equivalency), otherwise you'd blow a fuse. A breaker, even, when the surging electricity would short out the light.
He was most insistent on his theory. I started to try outthink him, or at least out-talk him. A breaker? There's no surge of electricity. It's all the same current flowing through the light. I think it has to do more with heat, I said. The higher wattage light will generate more heat and possibly melt connections. Then I did something I thought I could postpone for a few more years.
"In the old days," I began, then stopped, horrified at what had just come out of my mouth.
But it was the old days, when the sockets that held the lightbulbs were metal and if you wanted a brighter light, you just went and got a brighter light and screwed it in. And I remember even in older days there was ceramic sockets, and it didn't matter what wattage went in there. Now we have plastic everything made in China and everyone in the world is twenty years old and their eyes don't need a lot of light.
Upshot: After a stop at another Target closer to home, I was able to buy a floor lamp that was adjustable (to go by the chair I'd just bought at IKEA), and had not one -- but three! -- lightbulb sockets, all the equivalent of 100 watts.
This aging business, as my mother says, is not for sissies.
Friday, November 16, 2012
I think there is this divide between between being young and being old, or older, that starts to show up in strange and interesting ways.
While driving to school, I was listening to a younger woman on a radio talk show analyze the electorate, and she happened to repeat herself on a point she'd made earlier.
She then said, "Sorry to sound like a broken record. . . . player."
I realized then that she had no idea what she was talking about, that this cliche had lost meaning for her because in her mind, it was a broken record player that would cause a song -- or a bit of a song -- to be played over and over, not the broken record. I figured she was about the age of my children, so records and record players would still be something she would know about.
She would not be like my grandson, who was completely stymied when I showed him a record and told him that it had songs on it. And who was even more flummoxed when I told him we played it on a record player. "What's a record player?" he asked.
I felt really old that day.