Monday, November 17, 2014

Bringing Light to the Situation

Little Cuter and SIR had the most beautiful wedding at our house.  The front and the back were decorated with light, and not much more.  There were strings of little bulbs hung in the trees surrounding the enclosing walls in the backyard and there were globes with electric bulbs scattered through the trees in the front.

Neighbors complimented us for weeks following the event.  The house looked stunning, elegant, delightfully mysterious, festive.... I loved collecting the kudos. 

Time passed, the images didn't fade, TBG was on board with the idea - I began to search for a way to make it a more permanent part of our landscaping.  We paid thousands to have professionally installed up-lighting on the foliage; we saved thousands by opting to leave the actual house in shadows.  It's a nice enough structure, but it didn't need to be floodlit like the Taj Mahal. We were looking for highlights, not advertising our status.

That's a problem with lighting the outside of our house.  The illumination draws attention.  We like to stay private.  Ever since my life burst onto the public scene, I've become acutely aware of two facts: we are in the phone book abd  my computer monitor and tower are on a desk which affords me a magnificent view of the mountains and the road in front of my house but which also affords passersby the opportunity to gaze into that window and look right back at me.  At night, though I like to type with the stars blazing back at me, the un-shaded window pinpoints me like a target in a shooting range.  I pull the shade and sigh.

But those little lights from the wedding haunted me.  The front of our home is well-lit, and the big, round, colorful balls the boys will help me hang in December will be decorative enough to suit me.  But the back, where the lighting is focused on the pool and the low bushes surrounding it, is awfully dark at night.  We've left the floor to ceiling windows uncovered, which works fine in the daytime but leaves a big black hole in the evening.

My search for hanging globe lights continued.  The web was an interesting place to look - hanging globes had maps of the world, lighted globes had batteries and flashing red splats for capital cities.  Solar powered illumination had hundreds of thousands of suggestions; hanging solar illumination wasn't much less overwhelming.  The party planners thought Crate and Barrel was their source for the lit balls that delighted me, but Crate and Barrel's website was useless.

I went to the store.

I haven't been shopping for home goods in years.  I have enough stuff.  The colors and the textures and the shiny newness of it all was overwhelming, but I was saved by the lovely lady behind the counter who knew exactly what it was that I was seeking.  She knew the proprietary name of the product, she knew that it came in two sizes, she knew that it was on sale. 

On sale.  My two favorite words in the shopping world. 

She couldn't order it for me, because it was only in the warehouse and her computer couldn't talk to the warehouse for me.  So, I sat on a sofa in front of her Service Desk and ordered twelve large balls with interior solar light sticks. Then, I left town.
When I returned, ten days later, there were three giant white Crate and Barrel boxes awaiting me in the front hallway.  TBG had moved them inside and there they waited.  Inside each one, four smaller brown boxes were nestled in the middle of more beautiful bubble wrap than I'd seen in a long time.  All twelve lights could have been sent in one box, I think, but the excess somehow made me smile. I'll reuse the packing materials and I've already repurposed one box to serve as my Halloween storage container but it was the sheer too-much-ness which awed me.

I unpacked one light from one small brown box.  I hung it for days in the sunlight, waiting for a miracle to occur.  When that didn't happen, I loaded them all back in my car for a return trip to C&B.  The saleswoman was very happy to take them back, was very sorry they didn't work, was calling for a helper to unload my trunk, was as surprised as I was that the globe unscrewed in the middle and that in the middle of the middle was a very very small on/off switch.

She turned it on.  I drove home, rehung the globe, and was treated to a small but shimmering glow that evening.  I moved the lucite orb from the Palo Verde in the front to the crepe myrtle in the courtyard to the mesquite with the sturdiest branches in the backyard. 

It took three days, but last night TBG noticed the glow, admired the glow, and wondered if there could be more glow.  For a man who like the least amount of tchotchkes on permanent display, this is a milestone moment.  He adores the holiday charm my decorations bring to the season, but the basic structure of our house is unadorned.  If I cared, I'd make a fuss.  I don't, so I don't.  He's always been in charge of the colors and the sizes and the shapes of our furnishings, although I retain veto power. Usually, my attempts to liven up the scenery are met with polite dismissals.... and sometimes not so polite dismissals (cf my desire to paint the interior pony walls surrounding the pool in vibrant purples and yellows and oranges). 

To find that an idea I'd created met with his approval filled me with delight.... and my delight soon spilled over into gushing.... which led to why are you so excited.... and we both make those decisions, don't we...and I stopped before what began as a smile ended in a tiff. 

I'll hang some tonight before he changes his mind.


  1. One of the few things I miss about having a house, other than the dishwasher, is hanging lights outside in the branches. We just loved sitting in the den, looking at the illuminated trees. Must be something primal about driving away the darkness. We have lights on the palm tree, but it's just not the same.....

    1. Driving away the darkness, indeed, Allison. As the nights come so quickly now, our big black voids are freaking us out... just a little. Lights on the palm trees are not the same!

  2. Please tell me you are going to post pictures?! I've just got to see this when it's done. All of the houses on our street have those uplights on their plants and trees, but I just cannot fathom spending the money--especially when we have so many other things I want to do to the inside of the house (like getting a new dishwasher and fridge). Hubby wants a sprinkler system too. I keep refusing 'cause I think it's a huge waste of money. I don't have to have my grass be green all year long and I don't care if my ultra-conservative neighbor has to look at my lawn. He doesn't pay my bills and the water bill for some of our neighbors who have sprinkler systems has been in the hundreds of dollars.

    Cannot wait to see pics!

    Megan xxx

    1. A sprinkler system can actually save you money by watering only when and for as long as you set it. (Sorry!)
      Yes, I will post pictures when they are up after Thanksgiving.
      Can you ask for appliances from Santa?

  3. I so relate to how you feel about being a target. Having been in the newspapers or not, to be highlighted when a road goes by can make a person concerned. Our Oregon farm has that problem more than the Arizona house. We have a highway not that far and a small park. I don't like being high-lit at night! Sounds like you came up with an interesting option. I look forward to the photos-- hopefully

    1. That is the worst consequence of January 8 for me.... I feel SO vulnerable where I'd never worried before.


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