Free is Never Free

Recently, my fondness for used things has been eclipsed by the beauty of free things. Even better than spending a couple bucks is spending nothing. Case in point: my soon-to-be dining room light fixture. You may remember that I spent a few tortured months cruising expensive websites and stores, but to no avail. Until, that is, my mom spied a box on the side of a road in St. Albans. Because who doesn’t stop for  a “Free” sign on their way to the Chopper?

Voila–my new lamp! Of course, it needs a bit of love, but that’s what we do, right?

Today I decided to paint it. I stirred my old paint, grabbed a brush, and got to work. That was when I realized that there was some hardware decisions to be made. Some of the brass got a coat of white paint, but in order to reach the far prongs of each arm, I decided to be thorough and actually remove the five little electrical cones. (I’m sure there are proper technical terms for all these bits and pieces, but that’s not my thing.) So I was feeling kind of triumphant because I was learning and growing by being thorough for once in my life. It felt kind of good, actually, to be doing something the right way instead of half-assing it and rigging it. Which is my, ahem, usual style.

But tonight I tried to put the little cone pieces back on with their little screws and it turns out that the washer goes on the inside of the cone. That’s right! It goes behind the nested electrical wire. So, I poured a glass of wine, gritted my teeth, and pulled out the electrical part. I can’t see how a normal human with two hands could possibly put these f-ing things back together. With one hand, I’m holding the cone on to the arm thing; meanwhile, I’m trying to screw the screw back in the tiny hole with the other. No love. Not working. And since when do I do electrical?

Is there a lesson in all this? As I contemplate the ruins of my free lamp, I can’t but help feel a tad bitter. Before I braved this lamp, my tried and true motto was always “That’s good enough for me”! But today I tried to do the mature thing, the patient thing, the right thing. And now I’m left with a kind of Russian doll version of electrical pieces and stripped screws. I know, I know. You’re probably thinking I should stick this out and make it work. But I’ve got a headache and the couch beckons me. Plus it’s just really dark in here by now.

I’ll deal with this shizzle tomorrow. Now that’s more like it!

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4 Responses to Free is Never Free

  1. Jennifer says:

    🙂 That always happens to me when I try to do things right, too! Ah, well. Hopefully a night of sleep will help things along!

  2. Jenn says:

    Chalk it up to a learning experience. At least it was a free lamp! And the worst that can happen is that it doesn’t end up working, and you learned what not to do next time!

  3. retepsnave says:

    ditto to Jenn’s comment…
    or you could try your hand at rewiring the lamp!
    oh… now that would be fun

    (I’d offer to help out if I wasn’t already up to my eyeballs in work so much so that the wife often forgets who I am…)
    🙂

  4. laura says:

    I have great faith in you!! You go girl!! I learned how to rewire a lamp just by putzing around with one I’d gotten at a garage sale. And it ended up hanging over our kitchen table for years. You can always ask the electrician to check it out before he hard wires it to your ceiling. I can tell you’re on a roll!

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