Photo courtesy Flickr
The other day I lunched with a friend who left town in 1986, dragged off to Orange County kicking and screaming, clutching a fir tree and declaring her undying love for Western Washington. We looked out over a Market view of gray on gray, and I asked Jane if she missed Seattle. Naw, she said, she preferred daylight.
Jane’s quip came on top of a month of semi-desperate attempts to light the first floor of the house. Construction in the neighborhood has altered the pattern of light and shadow during what passes for daytime in December and January. Now the brightest light in the house, before three, is reflected off light brick walls to the east and north.
The construction has also revised the necessary patterns of visual privacy. I’ve been improvising sheer curtains with veils of agricultural row cover. It couldn’t be less expensive or easier to handle, seems to be less flammable than a T-shirt, and can obviously be recycled by leaving it at the nearest P-Patch.
The row cover has been a success, but lighting is still problematic. The new shadows coincided with falling back to Standard Time and the installation of a retro carbon filament light bulb in the entry hall fixture. One late November afternoon, I came home and suddenly it felt like walking into the land of dim.
There were a couple of concentric wreath armatures and a few dozen gold Christmas balls on hand, so I mounted two circles of gold balls just above the light bulb to see if shiny surfaces would amplify and scatter what little light the bulb was contributing to the hall. They do that, and fairly well, but I failed to consider that they wouldn’t make the existing bulb any brighter.
There’s still a need. Candles will fill it, and I may just use them on the hall table when a bright welcome is in order. Many of the little rank of solar task lights from the Great Big Northern European Home Furnishings Chain sit idle, and a stack of three of them would replicate a standard Victorian hall fixture. I’ll have to fiddle with some kind of mini-shade for their aggressive blue LEDs, but that will be an entertaining way to fill the odd few minutes some late afternoon.
Righteous window washing and polishing brass will add a few lumens to the mix, flowers and white linen will lighten the atmosphere. It’s always amazing what old-fashioned housekeeping does to relieve the burden on utilities.