Friday, August 8, 2014


A story of tenacity, the tenacity, grit and dogged stick-to-it-iveness that has allowed mankind (an womenkind as well, when mankind let them) prevail over insurmountable obstacles, punishing hardship and life-threatening adversity.

Determination propelled Columbus across uncharted waters to an (to him, at least) undiscovered land.

Determination drove Scott to the South Pole (although he died before he got there.)

Determination pushed Canadian long-distance swimmer Marilyn Bell to stroke her way across Lake Ontario.  (And also her coach Gus Ryder, who refused to let her get into the boat.)  (This list could have been more skillfully conceived.)

I too have that kind of determination.  (And my spouse does as well.)

And here is the evidence:

This story finally reached its culmination after more than two years.  And just saying that tells you that we never gave up.  (Or that we are obsessively stubborn, though, as a descriptive of our behavior, I unquestionably prefer the former.)

We bought a floor lamp from a nearby antique store.  The lamp dates back to perhaps the 1930’s and it is strikingly beautiful.  Bronzish in color, about five-and- a-half feet high, boasting an eye-catching, Tiffany-like globe hanging down from an arcing arm attached to the pedestal.  Or something of that nature.  I claim no expertise in floor lamp description.

We got the lamp home, installing it beside a desk-high (and desk-resembling) table in our front hallway.  The lamp looked pleasingly appropriate.

A week later, the lamp was demonstrably leaning, angling over so much that the pedestal was resting heavily on the side of the table it had previously stood over. 

This was not the floor lamp we had hoped for.  We had wanted a lamp that stood up. 

I called the antique store’s proprietor, and insisted that he come over and straighten up the lamp.  He did, meaning he did come over and he did straighten up the lamp.  And the lamp remained in that upright position.

For two days.

It was now clear we had bought ourselves a defective floor lamp. 

The unscrupulous antique store proprietor had apparently cobbled our lamp together from the base of one lamp and the pedestal of another.  Either that or the globe was too heavy for its support system because the globe came from another lamp. 

(I had experienced this phenomenon before, having once been chauffeured around in a limousine, reconstituted from the fusing together of two separate limousines.  You could see that distinctly.  The front half and the back half were two slightly different colors.)

We had washed our hands of the antique store proprietor, but we wanted to keep the lamp.  The thing is, we could not live with it leaning.  A lamp that needed assistance standing up did not reflect well on our sterling reputation as meticulous decorators of our craftsman bungalow. 

“Is that lamp leaning?” is not what you want to hear from first-time visitors to our well-appointed abode.  You would prefer “What a magnificent floor lamp!”  That’s not us being anally compulsive.  Anybody would prefer that.

But at that juncture, we did not know what to do.

Months later, we considered a welder. 

The welder we found soldered the base and the pedestal together, charged us some money, and we went home with our lamp.

A week later, it was leaning again. 

We tried to accept the situation, but we couldn’t.  So a few weeks later, we returned to the welder, requesting more intensive rehabilitation.  The job was done.  We took the lamp home.

Still leaning.  (Not right away.  But eventually.)

Once again, we were stymied.  I recall, during that period, fatalistically saying, “So be it.”  But who was I kidding?

I wanted a straight-up floor lamp.

Months later, the idea arose to visit a highly regarded Pasadena antique emporium (a forty-five minute drive from our house), to solicit their input.  Determined not to give up, we slid the leaning floor lamp into the “Way Back”, and away we went.

At the Pasadena antique emporium we were advised that something in the lamp’s supporting infrastructure was bent, and that if we visited the “Lamp Hospital” (further away still in San Marino), they might be able to help us.  Unfortunately, it was a holiday weekend, and the “Lamp Hospital” was closed.   So we drove the lamp home.

The following week, Dr. M, trekked all the way to San Marino, leaving the invalid lamp at the “Lamp Hospital”, with the assurance, not of a successful repair job, but they’d try.  When they called, Dr. M traveled back out to San Marino, and picked the lamp up.


At this moment – not this very moment – I am writing this – but at the moment I am writing about – I am sitting in my “Reading Chair” in our living room.  Taking a break from my reading, I turn my head to the left, and gaze with indescribable satisfaction at an attractive, straight-standing floor lamp, its eye-catching, Tiffany-style bowl overhanging our desk-high (and desk-resembling) table.

Et voila.

A story of determination.

Is it a great story?


Why isn’t it?

Because it’s a lamp.

And you know what makes it an even worse story?

I just noticed.  

It is starting to lean.


Tommy Tilt Edison said...

And there was light, albeit at somewhat of an angle.

Dave Olden said...

Earl, the question isn't whether the lean has been righted.

The question is: Are you still determine