So I married a Norwegian farmer’s daughter. Now, Cheri is not the kind that goes around with felt shoes, and dirndl dresses, with hair braided with ribbons (although she would be really cute if she did!). She also doesn’t have small wooden horses all over the house, nor does the smell of lutefisk float through the air. She does, however, love lots of things Scandinavian. She loves tomten – the Christmas gnomes with long beards and stocking caps – and she loves candles and making lefse. We do own a number of heavy blown glass bowls and those types of things.
And she does like subtle and ornamental lighting. A few years ago, in both Fargo and in Rapid City, we discovered Scandinavian stores, filled to the brim with all things Northern European. Sweaters, books, glass, crystal, runners and even food filled the stores. One thing we also found were small, electric lit candelabras, with tiny little bulbs that threw just the right light to walk through the living room on a dark winter’s night. They are actually very pretty, and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. We bought them all over the course of five years.
Of course, it’s a fact of life that over the passage of time, nothing stays perfect, except for God’s love, and that goes for little, tiny European light bulbs as well. Even though they take hardly any electricity at all, they do on occasion give up the ghost, and just blow out. Most of them take the same or similar size and shape of bulb, and when I was able to locate a source for replacements, I bought a ton of them, and they are stored safely in the middle compartment of our antique secretary, where light bulbs should rest.
However, we do have one candelabra that varies from the others. This one has what is known on the package as “frost drop bulbs,” which look sort of like little flames, except they sit on the top of sturdy thin wires that create a candelabra look. We placed it on a little table near the kitchen, in the dining room, and it gives again just the right light without having to turn on the overhead lights.
Did I tell you about my summer shorts? Well, that’s part of the story. I have two pairs, actually, which are very comfortable, and with the pandemic, were basically all I wore all summer. The only downfall of them, however, is that they have two side pockets, that some rocket scientist decided should have a pleat in each, perhaps to expand as you decide to carry around large oranges or small footballs or something. Well, the trouble with them is that they tend to “pleat out” just as I am walking past a cupboard or dresser, so that the pleat hooks the drawer pulls, and pulls me to a jerking stop. I hate that, but it happens over and over again, and I of course, never learn to walk a little ways away from the dresser. Never.
About a month ago, I was on some sort of mission to get something out of the little pantry that sits just off our dining room, and came around the corner pretty fast and pretty close to the little stand that sits there, with its – you guessed it – little drawer with a drawer pull. Usually when I hit one of those, I’m the one who is stopped short, but this time, the stand was no match. It is light and easily lifted, and can also, I found, be lifted by the hooking of the shorts pleat on the drawer pull. I managed to catch the coffee grinder we have displayed on the stand before it tipped over with everything on it. I never really cared for the frosted glass candy dish that hit the tile floor and became a memory. However, the little candelabra was also perched nicely on the stand, and it took a header to the floor as well. After I swept up the glass mess, hoping I had gotten all the tiny pieces of the candy dish picked up (don’t you hate that, when you know for certain there is one more shard of glass, ready to stab your foot as some point in the future), I then picked up the candelabra, and turned it on, so make sure it worked. It did – mostly. Of the seven little bulbs, four were great little troopers, and marched on. Three, however, did not. I managed to screw them all in again, and two actually lit – one, however, remained quietly dark. No problem – I found the replacements, and quick as can be, had the candelabra up to full light again.
Except, I guess two of the ones that were out actually had mortal wounds, and so this morning, we only had five lights functioning again. No problem – I swooped to the replacements, and found them. Well, the problem is, I found “it.” Only one bulb remained, which left us dark at the top.
Of course, you can’t just go buy tiny ornamental light bulbs at the grocery store, or the hardware store, or really anywhere. I even called the “Bulbs are Us” store, who professed to take care of all my lighting needs. I hate lies. So, it meant I needed to go online and try to find replacements for a bulb with an “E-6” base, a “12 volt” power, and a “.9 watt” output. Please note: .9 watts. Not 30 watt, or 15 watt, but it has be to the magical combination of those three parameters, wrapped up in a cute “frost drop bulb.”
Why is it when you do a search on the internet, it never listens to precisely what you are looking for? I carefully filled in what I needed, and it is as if it heard, “oh – light bulb? Sure – here’s a million to choose from!” And none of them were the right ones. In fact, some were so far off it was embarrassing. I actually did find replacement – at least a picture of it in the “images” section. Unfortunately, it would cost me 4.90 pounds, and even then, they would not ship it from jolly old England. I therefore know they exist somewhere in the world, but I have no idea of how to get them in the US. The hunt continues to find the lights that will bring Christmas joy, instead of a big disappointment because my pants pocket ruined the look.
By the way, if you happen to have any frost drop E6, 12V, .9W bulbs lying around your house, please let me know. Maybe we can make a deal.
There are times when the solution to a problem is very simple. The way to solve it is clear, and the path to doing so is unobstructed, and it’s fixed almost before you know it. Other times, however, it seems like it’s a journey through foreign lands, with more challenges than victories. It’s not helpful when the persons who should have the answers can only say, “I don’t know.” It’s then that I have to remember once again that in the work of living intentionally, I am required to also carry along a good helping of patience, and imagination, and perseverance. I guess that’s the case in any problem-solving experience, and it depends on the problem to determine how much we need to employ those qualities. What’s your problem today? What struggles are you caught up in, that need a better solution than you are finding right now? Know that you are not alone, and that patience is more than a virtue. It is a path. It even shines a tiny light in the darkness, that lets you see, mostly, the way forward. Blessings on you today. Also – when you find your solution, buy a bunch of those whatever you need, just in case you knock the lamp off again sometime…
Word for the Day: vague. Pronounced almost as it is written, with the “gue” making the soft “g” sound, and creating the “a” as a long a. It’s one of our more normal words, and we use it frequently, but may not know from where it comes. It means in English, “lacking clarity, uncertain, unsure.” It comes from the Latin, vagus, which literally means, “wandering, rambling or strolling.” When someone is vague, he or she is all over the map, or not even on a map, and just refuses to be the opposite of the word – clear, concise, fully explained. When someone’s wife asks how the bulbs blew out of a small lamp, perhaps a vague answer is the more workable…
It’s interesting that the word, vague, is found in so many different cultures, looking close to the Latin, but employed by their own language to make that description. Norse is “vakka,” German is “wankon,” and even Old English is “wincian.” Seems like “vague” is part of who we are as humans, sometimes, or maybe not – I don’t know. I’ll get back to you about that. Maybe…
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.