Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Lamp and Memories

Back in the sixties, my folks did a lot of travelling.  One of the results was that there were various near- and middle-eastern objets d'art in the house I first lived in.

This brass lamp used to hang in a back hallway between the bathroom and my parent's bedroom.  The lamp has a pointy end, and used to be the source of four-year-old anxiety:  "What if it falls on my head just as I'm walking underneath it?"

My dad had wired it up with a forty watt light-bulb, and when it was on, it threw a basket-weave pattern onto the hallway floor.  I remember being confused by the pattern, partially because it was subtle and easily obscured by the living-room table lamps.  It's strange that I can only recall the light and shadow on the floor, but I couldn't tell you if the floor was bare wood or carpeted.  I want to say bare wood, but maybe it had some kind of vinyl or tile cover.

And now I'm recalling the huge--at the time--metal grate in the floor of the hall where the furnace would push out hot air.  When we were done with our baths, my sister and I would come out in towels or bathrobes or pajamas, stand on the grate, and let the hot air balloon out whatever was wrapped around us.  I remember the grate wasn't the most comfortable thing against bare feet, and standing on it until the hot air stopped blowing would leave a grid of narrow rectangles along one's soles.

The grate was so good at drying us, that one day I thought it would be good at drying off some wet ping-pong balls.  I forget why they were wet, either they were bathtub toys or I'd floated them in a lime green (with a swirly spiral pattern in the middle) ceramic bowl of water for some reason.  In any case, the vent dried the ping-pong balls too well.  I left them on the grate--the rectangular grid kept them from rolling off too much--and when I came back a little while later, they had melted:  most of them had triangular divots along their tops.

But to get back to the lamp, the LEDs Mark got me fit into it, and we've got a hook in the corner of our house that seems made for sharp pointy brass objects to cast basket-weave bands of light.  Illuminating it gives me a strange sense of homeyness, and now of course I wonder how many of my tea fantasies can trace their roots back to this lamp.

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