Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nothing much to see here, so stay why don't you

What you looking at (2009) Kodakotype by Pants

No part of the year goes as quickly as June. The short winter days bring with them a lot of extra work and the fact that there are fewer hours to do it in doesn't help. It's not just that. It's almost as if June is non-month in the southern hemisphere. The northern equivalent, December, contains certain events which prolong the days and render it hugely significant. There's all that anticipation and shopping and socialising and planning for Christmas and New Year's Eve. The shops are open late and there are lights in all the trees. The bleakest month of the year needs lights.

There are few things sadder than a seaside town in the southern hemisphere in the middle of winter. So often I've walked along The Esplanade in Larrikin's End in the early evening, parka zipped up to my chin, battling the gale-force winds, looked up at the sad, scrubby pines and thought, 'there is such a thing as solar-powered fairy lights you know.' 

Having said that, the Seat of Pants lighting rig is far from perfection, although there are fairy lights, indoors and out. Three years ago now, I worked for a year in a hideous but well-paid job. I saved almost all of my earnings, whacked the wad into a special, high(ish) interest account and have been gradually upgrading SoP on the proceeds since. The big job was the external painting. It took a great deal of time and I proved not all that good at having people crawling all over my carapace for many months of days. SoP has become a separate planet, a bit like Discworld, gliding through space on the back of a giant turtle. My turtle is not fond of interlopers in Dulux caps.

It took me about a year of monkish silence and furious waving about of incense sticks to recover from le grande makeover, after which I realised that I would need 1) bathroom refurbishment of my en suite bathroom (get 'er) and 2) lighting renewal. I thought the former would be the easiest so I called in quotes. None of the 'tradies' who came were prepared to do what I asked for. They all wanted to strip my little bathroom and start again. I wanted a replacement shower stall, basin and stand (preferably recycled) and a new cistern and seat for the toilet - there is nothing wrong with the bowl or the plumbing.

I turned to the lights - forgive the lame pun, it's late in a very short month which, by the way, barely exits. I called in a lighting guy who handed me a huge catalogue. Forensic scouring of this catalogue failed to come up with a single non-hideous light fitting. Quite a lot of the house should be easy. The whole downstairs section has the low, horizontal ceilings that are well-suited to subdued downlighters. 

Downlighters aren't the problem. What's not to like about a little white disc with a light in it? Upstairs is where the lighting challenge lies. SoP is a typical 1980s house with very high cathedral ceilings, skylights and exposed beams. Along these beams and very high in the corners are positioned typically eighties single spots and rows of spots. Lighting in these areas is very important for a number of reasons. 

The kitchen is there, and it's helpful to be able to see when you're cooking, especially if sharp knives are involved. A large part of it is my work space - well all of it actually when no one else is in residence. I don't tend to work when there isn't good daylight but I might if I had good artifical light. And it's the main entertainment area. You really don't want dinner guests feeling like they're being interrogated by the CIA while they're eating your rather excellent, if you do say so yourself, aubergine lasagne.

Dissatisfied with the catalogue offerings, I dove into the on-line marketplace and came up with no pearls in the shape of discreet, elegant, light-diffusing eco-friendly spotlights. I never thought that I could be rendered despondent by the lack of a consumer product to buy. Reader, it was an annoying first. Then I had a light-bulb moment (June, southern hemisphere, we talked about this already.) I could get retro fittings. But where? I spent a morning on eBay and then thought, hang on a minute, I already have retro fittings!

I phoned lighting guy and asked if the fittings I already had could be repositioned, repaired and fitted with energy-efficient bulbs that didn't explode - several have in my time here, and let me tell you it's no fun picking the aftermath out of the salad. The spots I have suit the style of the house. They're bell-shaped, brass and they swivel. Lighting guy said, yes, in principle, it could work. 

So, I spent half a day calculating if the functional single spots I had would meet my lighting needs.  No one needs banks of spots unless they're planning on moonlighting as a boxing gym. I have enough, counting the one in my bedroom that is pointed straight at my face. It's a fairly large room but the bed can only be located in one place. I really don't know what that's about. Even if one is into self-examination, there are limits, surely.

I sent my detailed specification off to lighting guy and never heard back. That was last June, or maybe the June before. I still work mostly in the daylight hours. Guests have gotten used to candles. One day, in a better month, I'll call for quotes. Next month, I'll write a better post. That's a 'tradie' promise. Meanwhile, I'll put on my fairy lights and pretend I'm in Paris and Lake Larrikin is the Seine.