Light obsession

On the first night of hanukah, my true love gave to me... his lovely company! :)

On the first night of hanukah…

Tonight is the first night of hanukah. If you read the American press, they are all in a tizzy over Thanksgivukkah, or however you want to spell it, and all the varieties of fried food (including turkey) you could put on your table. I, however, am excited about the new lamp over our table. Which nearly fried me.

Last week, Matt finally complained enough about the simple IKEA lamp we had, hanging low over the table. Its flattened cone shape and black shellacked outer shell were somewhat trendy, but the shade was too small to be really stylish, and the lightbulb hung down below the edge, blinding us.

So we dug out a square paper lantern I have been carrying around with us in our various moves (possibly also made by IKEA). Matt had dismissed it as too “grad school,” but willingly gave it a go, and even liked it better than he thought. But it turned out he was right. By Sunday afternoon, I was ready to torch it.

So we headed out into the cold, clear, early-afternoon blue sky and shining sun, in search of a lamp store. The El near us was closed (Sunday!), the Åhlens was too much in the center of shopping madness downtown, and the discount IKEA knockoff store in the mall on Södermalm seemed to have gone out of business. We ended up at Stålands, a multistory warren of furniture, high and low end.

Thankfully the lamps are in a room in the back on the first floor. And they had a table with objects marked down by 50%. Which maybe should have set off some alarm bells, but we found something we liked almost immediately. I had some doubts about the color (butter yellow or herb green?), but Matt ruled out the yellow, and I ruled out the black cords, and boom, we were off! A frosted white tube with a sage-green metal sleeve to fit over it.

We carried the lamp home on the T-bana, and on arrival, Matt promptly went to take a nap, leaving me to set up the lamp. I struggled with it a bit: lamps meant to hang from the ceiling here have these tiny two-pronged plugs, and they generally have a hook to hang from some feet away from the ceiling plug-in.  I balanced on two kitchen chairs, fighting to get the lamp plugged in and the cords tucked into the plastic caps to hide them.

And I found that our new lamp wouldn’t stay lit.  I could jiggle the plug to get it to light, but it would flicker out, or off and on.  And finally, after too many flicks of the wall switch, the socket set off sparks showering from the ceiling in an exciting firework, and the fuse blew in the kitchen, landing me in complete darkness.

I might have yelped.

Matt kept sleeping.  I found the breaker and reset the lights and went and sat on the couch.  I wasn’t touching that thing again without supervision.

But it turned out I didn’t have to — Matt emerged from his nap and rewired the lamp, which had a faulty connection near the plug. He learned all this electrician type stuff from his dad (my dad taught me to do my own laundry and clean a toilet!). And a good thing, too: Matt says that most of the lamps he’s bought in Europe have been troublesome, as if the manufacturers here were sloppy and just expect people to know what they are doing enough to fix these products on their own.  (Or perhaps hire someone who does if it’s not sommarlov — the whole experience also reminded me of the unexpected drama of putting together our couch.) He says they just aren’t as rigid about fire codes.

So, with a little work, now we now have an interesting Danish-design lamp in our kitchen, worthy of grownups, just in time for the dark and the holidays of lights.

Lamp, in early morning light.

Lamp, in early morning light. (With blue IKEA pendant in window in background.)

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