It turned out to be the bulbs, which I managed to replace all by myself. I don’t know the last time the bulbs were replaced. Several years ago, I’m sure…but maybe as long as 20 years ago. The bulbs were really in there and I had to work them pretty hard to get them to come out.
What I meant by “commercial” bulbs is that when I googled the writing on the side of the bulb, I got a link to the GE page for them and the title at the top was “commercial” lighting. I’m sure this fixture is one that was originally intended to be used in a garage or workshop, instead of over a kitchen sink. Like I said, it’s fugly. No cover to hide the bulbs. But it is a two-bulb fixture, and mostly what I saw at the home store were 1 bulb lights. So I’m sure that’s why my parents originally installed it - for extra light.
Anyway, thanks so much, everyone, for all your help and information - you really helped me a lot! And now I can see while I’m doing dishes.
Now tell me, how to I open up the big cover over the 4 ft light fixture in the kitchen ceiling? I’m afraid it will just come crashing down and break. Shouldn’t there be some kind of catch or hinge or something to hold one side while the other side swings down? I’ve looked but I don’t see anything. I’m not even sure how to open it up. Any ideas?