I’ve spoken before about the preponderance of gnomes up here in the Northland. I think they came over with the Norwegians and the Swedes at the turn of the last century. There really is no record of them prior to the Scandinavian invasion, although I am willing to admit that if your mind and eyes are not tuned to see clues and evidence of their presence, they will not boldly show up and wave to you. They are little folks who live mostly in the shadows, or in the camouflage of plants and shrubs, or closets and cupboards.
Already, I am sure there are some of you who might scoff at the assertion that we are living with tiny individuals all around us, and frankly, I have not seen or heard evidence of gnomes in the south, or the west. I think they tend to be most comfortable in climates closer to Oslo or Bergen or Flakstad – places like Oslo, Minnesota, or Karlstad, or even Grafton. They bring good luck, and take care of injured animals, but they also like shiny things, which brings us to our problem of recent days.
You see, we have been bombarded lately by light bulbs “going out.” A number of weeks ago, I reported that the bulb over our bathtub in the master bath had suddenly quit working, and so with the help of a tall ladder, and needing to go out to buy the right wattage bulb, I replaced that one with a bulb that someone promised would last like a hundred years, being made not of the cheap filaments we were used to, but now imbued with super powers of LED, making them brighter, and lasting years and years longer than a mere ordinary bulb – that by the way, lasted probably a good ten years before it blew.
I think the LED, which by the way must stand for “Legendary Expensive Doohickey,” lasted a good 11 weeks. Now realize – that’s not burning for 11 weeks, or even close to that. It wasn’t the main light for the bathroom – we have a bank of six bulbs that do that – it was really only to provide dim light for getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and you don’t want to disturb either your partner, or your own retinas with a blast of brightness. I would expect, over 11 weeks, that the bulb was turned on probably 15 hours total, and that would be generous. And then, it popped – just went out, died, kaput. I promised Cheri that sometime soon I would go through the complicated process of cantilevering over the tub to replace it. Again.
After we had been in the house about a year, one of the fluorescent bulbs in the laundry room also started flickering and becoming a strobe light. At that time, I again hauled in the tall ladder, since we have what seems to be 55 foot ceilings in our home, and after purchasing two new bulbs, since you can’t just replace one fluorescent, I returned brightness to our place of work, and cat litter.
Fluorescent bulbs are expected to last about 30,000 hours. That would mean if it were turned on continually for 3 ½ years, it might require a replacement. Well, it lasted 3 ½ years, but again, probably only turned on for maybe an hour a day. The cats have already informed us that they don’t need lights on when using the litter box. That meant we probably got 1300 hours, instead of 30,000.
As Cheri set up the ironing board in the dining room so she could iron her clothes for the day, I looked out at the slowly emerging dawn, and noticed that one of our little lawn and garden lights that sit by the gazebo had gone out. Just died in the night. Again, we have lived in the home for nearly 6 years, and in the course of that time, I have replaced that particular fixture’s bulb a good 4 or 5 times. It seems odd, because over in the garden, where we have two other identical fixtures, we have yet to replace a bulb, and they have seen renovation of the garden twice, in five years!
And then it came to me: the gnomes are replacing the good bulbs with blown out ones, and are somewhere creating a brightly lit metropolis on the backs of our light bulb budget. That’s the only thing that makes sense, right? I mean, it couldn’t be that somehow the makers of light bulbs today are just manufacturing little pieces of junk that don’t last, right? And even if I buy a bulb that is “guaranteed” to last 50,000 hours, how do I prove that? Do I have to time stamp a picture, or run a continual video loop to show when the bulb actually goes? And how can I prove it was truly THAT bulb, and not another? I’m beginning to think there might be a racket going on somewhere.
There is a light bulb in the Livermore, California fire station that was screwed in for the first time in 1901 – I kid you not – and for 120 years, it has almost never been switched off. It’s still working, although now producing about 4 watts of light, instead of 30 watts. But it’s been working for over a million hours. See what I mean about a racket somewhere?
So, it must be the gnomes. That’s the only thing that makes sense. I suppose if we leave out some nuts, berries or mushrooms, they will take that food, instead of more of our light bulbs, but for now, I’m just glad that the daylight is lengthening, and also that we can afford light bulbs in this pandemic time. Be sure to shut your lights off when you leave a room – else, the gnomes will be busy…
Word for the day: colonel. Pronounced, of course KER-nel. But why, you ask? It’s an interesting walk. In Roman times, an officer was in charge of a “column” of soldiers, from the Latin columna, which also meant “pillar.” The title in Italian was “colonello.” When the French appropriated the word, they gave it a bit of a tweak, and called the person a coronel, a commander of a regiment. As the English took the word, they returned closer to the Italian spelling, but kept the French pronunciation. So, we ended up with a “colonel” called a “kernel.” By the way, it has nothing to do with corn, although in Mitchell, SD, there is the world’s only Corn Palace, and the high school sports teams are known as the Mitchell Kernels, which would have been much cooler to be Colonels, instead of having your mascot be a big ear of corn called “Cornelius.” I kid you not.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.