Back in the Fifties and Sixties, it had become fashionable to design living rooms without overhead lights. Although the rural parts of the country were just in the second generation of even having electricity, overhead lights in the living room had already become rather blasé. I mean, come on, even shacks and shanties had overhead lights in them! And so, rather than having overhead lights, folks started wiring one or two wall outlets to a light switch. Plug in a couple of table lamps, flip the switch and voila! Lighting in the living room.
I’m not sure how long it was before folks began realizing that a room illuminated only by a couple of table lamps is never fully illuminated. But as people in the throes of fashion are wont to do, they satisfied themselves with the affirming conscious that their living room reflected the latest style and convinced themselves that seeing well in all parts of the room wasn’t really all that important. I mean, how much light do you really need to read the TV Guide?
My wife, however, does not subscribe to the TV Guide and I sometimes read email so we decided it would be an improvement to have an overhead light in the living room. A decision, sadly, neither the builders nor any previous occupants had ever made.
And so it was that yesterday found me celebrating spring break by crawling through our attic on a mission of electrification. The access to our attic is in the ceiling of the garage, a bit over sixty feet away from the installation destination. Our attic is low with only three feet of space above the joists. My effective clearance was about half of that, owing to collar beams spanning. I had to utilize the military crawl technique underneath each of those. I’d shove the small bag of tools I needed forward, crawl forward, shove the bag, crawl forward. And, I had to check before each segment to locate the joists hidden beneath several inches of blown-in insulation.
Then, in order to reach the wire I’d shoved up through a hole I drilled from the exterior wall of the living room, I had to belly my way out to the edge where the rafters slope down. By flattening myself completely against the joists and stretching out as far as I could, I barely managed to reach the wire. All while half-burying my face in the insulation.
I ran the wire, installed the ceiling box and tried to spread the disturbed insulation back into place. Then I headed back through the attic, repeating the shove-and-crawl technique all the way back over to the access hole in the garage ceiling. And along the way, giving thanks. Giving thanks that I hadn’t slipped off the edge and crashed through the brand new ceiling I’d just finished last weekend. Giving thanks for the last few years of mud racing that had given me a good bit of practice in the military crawl. Giving thanks that the insulation I was crawling through was cellulose instead of fiberglass.
And most particularly, giving thanks that just less than three months after my knee surgery, I was doing all this crawling and kneeling without any discomfort in my knee. Even though it’s totally out of my character, I had to admit that finding the good in my situation was decidedly more pleasant than griping about the inconveniences.
And… we now have overhead lighting in our living room.