Putting A Little Light In My Life

I’ve always had a love for old things … old houses, old barns, old furniture, old stuff and yes, even old people.

I’m not exactly sure when I realized this – perhaps when I was living in Redwood County and my best friend was living in New Ulm. Each time I’d drive there for a visit, we’d wander around town looking at the beautiful old homes and perusing the quaint antique shops.

So, it came as no surprise that I would fall in love with a house in Wabasso that was built in 1928. Under the shaggy green living and dining room carpet I discovered birds-eye maple flooring that, in time, was refinished to a beautiful sheen. Weeks were spent on my hands and knees scraping carpet padding and pulling up staples and nails. Wearing shoes around the house was a must.

I think even more appreciated than the original hardwood floors, however, were the wide baseboards and rich-looking wood trim, lead glass window and front and back porches that had wainscoting on each side and on the ceiling. Oh, I loved that house. If I could have moved that house to Worthington with me, I would have in a heartbeat.

It took a while for me to find “just the right house” in Worthington and, while I have to put up with the smallest bathroom ever, I have a home with character. I found a place where, underneath nearly every piece of carpet on the main floor, beautiful hardwood boards stretch neatly from wall to wall.

Sure, they need some work, but I can live with the imperfections. I’ve covered up the areas that are prone to putting splinters in my toes and, if I feel the need to explain my floors to guests, I simply say … they’ll get refinished some day. I don’t know when that some day is and, unlike most projects I tackle, I really don’t care when or if this one gets done.

In the meantime, there are other, smaller projects that seem a bit less daunting. One such example is my new lamp – my new, old lamp.

For years, Mom has been storing my Grandma Buntjer’s floor lamp in the basement of the farm house. She’d planned to refinish it “some day,” but I think most people know how those “some days” work.

Anyway, I’d been looking for a new lamp to replace my floor lamp in the living room. About a year ago, the dimmer knob broke off in my hand. I probably should have tossed it out, but I need good lighting for stitching my needlework projects and the lamp still worked. As luck would have it, the lamp had been on the brightest setting when the knob broke off.

A few days before my vacation was to begin last month, I asked Mom if I could have Grandma’s old lamp. Neither one of us were prepared for the condition we found it in. The cord was not just missing the plug, there were exposed wires along several areas of it as well.

Rust had formed along the top of the base, the milk glass shade was gone, and who knows where the big outer lamp shade ended up.

I’m fortunate to have a co-worker who is married to a virtual Mr. Fix-it. My lamp traveled to Avoca, where it spent a week being stripped of its original wires, getting a new main light bulb holder thingamajig and being fitted with a couple of new switches. In other words, my new, old fire hazard of a floor lamp was almost good as new.

Last weekend, I worked to sand off as much of the rust as I could, then spray-painted the lamp with the closest color match I could find at the local hardware store … antique white.

After a few coats of paint, finding an old milk glass shade at an Okoboji antique shop, and fitting the lamp with new light bulbs, I plugged it in for the first time tonight. Oh, what a beautiful old lamp!

After stitching under the light for more than an hour tonight, I’ve realized my new old lamp is much brighter than what I was using. Hopefully that will mean less eye strain!

The lamp is still missing a big old lampshade, but I don’t mind. I’ll find one eventually – looking is the fun part. I didn’t have any luck at the antique shops Mom and I visited along the North Shore a couple of weeks ago, but that just means I get to go on more treasure hunts.

I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for, but I’ll know it when I see it. I want a shade that has character … just like my house.