One of the few side benefits of not tottling off to an office five days a week is how very clean and organized your house can be when you have little else to occupy your time. All that pent-up energy you used to spend on work things can now be spent on house things, all the projects, big and small that have been piling up because you were either too busy or too tired to care about them when you had a job. In the past few weeks I have taken on cleaning tasks that would make Martha Stewart (or the people who actually do the work for her) proud. I have straightened out every closet, dusted ceiling fans, scrubbed floors, cleaned windows and taken the dishwasher apart, in other words I have become my mother. This Suzy Homemaker vibe was so strong it even extended to my garage, a place the child that I used to take to school in the mornings told me was “very messy“. (For the record I am a very clean and neat person, but there are a couple of areas where I let my not-at-all-neat-freak flag fly, and one of those happens to be the garage.) On more than one occasion she even offered to send her dad over to straighten it up for me, not sure if he ever knew that because I never took him or her up on the offer.
I decided to do it myself because in addition to being on a major life-cleaning and purging mission, I was also on a quest to locate something from the past that I knew was in there, somewhere. The 80’s were known for a lot of things like skin-tight Guess jeans, really bad perms, cassette tapes, Bartle & Jaymes wine coolers and rain lamps. You know those lamps with the pseudo Venus de Milo statue (but with arms) surrounded by plastic greenery and crisscrossing strands of fishing line that tiny drops of something trickled down? Rain lamps were swank and elegant in a trashy 80’s kind of way and my mom was the proud owner of one she bought back in the day at Montgomery Ward (RIP).
I was pretty sure it was somewhere in my “very messy” garage, the question was where, and then once located, what kind of shape it would be in because it has been in there for at least a decade. After filling a garbage can with useless crap and finding more than a few things that I have been looking for for years (hello expensive pruners and skate blade protectors), lo and behold there it was, behind a Sharper Image elliptical machine that hadn’t been used since the Bush years. It was sealed in a box that was a little bit water damaged because it was sitting directly under an air conditioner but other than that looked pretty gosh darn good. My mom had promised this little slice of ’80’s heaven to my niece when she was little and now that she’s all grown up with a proper career and an apartment of her own in NOHO, she was looking to collect on her inheritance.
Despite being sealed in a box it was still a bit dusty in that dirty, clumpy, kinda suspiciously looks like spider eggs way. Thanks to my deep love of all things Charlotte’s Web, I am not in any way an arachnophobe but that doesn’t mean I want to go out of my way to encounter a bunch of spiders either. I grabbed some paper towels and started to clean it as best I could before putting it on my counter, just in case any little Charlottes were still around. I plugged the cord with its annoying chain into an outlet and hoped for the best.
Success! I did not even have to search in vain for a tiny little lightbulb because the one in the lamp still had some lumens left in it. What wasn’t happening was any sort of rain action. I remembered back in the day that it took a while for the rain to kick in but also figured after ten plus years any sort of oil that had been in there had probably dried up long ago. According to my Google research, they stopped selling the original oil but you could order something similar online or use mineral oil. Since I am an immediate gratification kind of gal I went with the mineral oil, which only took me going to three stores to find. Good thing I have lots of time on my hands because if I had a job that lamp might have stayed in my garage for another ten years.
According to rain lamp experts, you pour the oil into the bottom, the amount varies depending on the size of the lamp. Per instructions, I poured the mineral oil in until the pump sound changed. If there still was no precip happening you could add more, which I did and then decided to wait, and wait and wait some more, a trait I am not generally known for.
Snoopy McSnooperson decided he liked the taste of mineral oil and proceeded to lick all the fishing line and the fake shrubbery. I was just about to unplug the lamp in defeat when tiny drops of oil rain started down one strand and then another strand and the next thing you know it’s pouring and somewhere an old man is snoring.
Now I just need to figure out how to remove the oil so I can ship this shining example of 80’s decor to its rightful owner. Of course another big thing from that era was over the top music videos, the more absurd and self-indulgent the better. Guns & Roses, a band known for both, gave us this gem and while technically it came from the 1991 stylistically I say close enough.