Friday, January 06, 2012

We're re-doing things around here....

I stared at my house for a long time the week before Thanksgiving, and I realized that we never really moved in to this house.

We've been here for a little over 2 years now (this second time around), and we never really unpacked boxes. Never really unstacked the boxes, even.

Consequently, everything was everywhere, and when we cleaned it was just boxing up the chaos again and moving the boxes to a different spot.

I decided I needed to do something about that.

Then Tim got us a couch for Christmas, and that spurred the change. We needed to make a space to put the couch in.  Right on the heels of that, the one lamp we had in the living room burned out and I couldn't find the right specialty bulb for it, and it was broken anyway--propped up in the corner by a table because it could no longer stand on its own.

I sat down one night and thought through every single room and what I wanted to do to make it right. And I sent the list to Tim. The next day he came home with the shelf I wanted for the bathroom.

Not long after, we sat up one night after the kids were in bed and talked through the whole living room, puzzling out how to rearrange it.

So when Tim went to Vegas, I took down the Christmas tree. Then, as soon as he was back, we started changing things up.

First, I re-did the living room arrangement--took out the table full of mostly-unused computers, moved a bookshelf and my rocking chair, put in the couch.

Then I tackled the lighting problem. For a couple of days, Tim and I searched for one of those lights you hang from a hook and run a chain to the outlet--swag lights, I learned they were called. No good. Nobody's made those for years, and even the people at the thrift stores hadn't seen one come through in a long long time. But on one of my loops through Home Depot, I discovered they make a swag chain kit for a ceiling fan!

Every summer for years now, since 2004 when we bought this house, I've wished for a ceiling fan in the living room. But we don't have an overhead light fixture in the living room, and, to complicate things, we have no attic or crawl space, so installing a ceiling fixture seemed impossible, and a ceiling fan doubly so. So finding a swag chain kit for a ceiling fan got me all excited.

I bought that. The next day, I went out in search of a ceiling fan to install. I finally found one in a box at the local thrift store for $6. There were others, some even all put together, but they cost more. A quick survey let me know that all the parts--including the installation manual--except the glass cover for the light bulbs was there. Even the screws were all in the box. The fan was dirty, but it was complete. So I bought it, brought it home, and started searching for instructions for installing a ceiling fan.

Turns out there are tons of instructions, but none for installing one directly to the joist, not to an electrical box. Finally, I took the hanging bracket to the Home Depot and asked for the right hardware. Turns out there is a kit for installing ceiling fans directly to the joist! So I bought that.

Then, with three kits, three sets of poor-written instructions (one set with no words, and pictures that were so tiny they were impossible to read), and no overall instructions, I set to work. I opened everything and examined all the parts, dragged the ladder in from the garage roof (where it's been for 3 months because I was too lazy to move it), and got to work.

I quickly discovered that people with fibro arm pain shouldn't install things on the ceiling. I also discovered that Elijah likes ladders and is perfectly willing to climb them. Still, I got the mounting plate up working 5 minutes at a time, resting 10 minutes to half an hour between.  Every time I got off the ladder, I had to fold it up and lay it on the floor again so the baby wouldn't go up.

The biggest problem I had was the ceiling mounting box had a hole for the swag chain kit to attach to, but it was the wrong shape and size. I tried a zillion different things (or it felt like it anyway), but nothing would hold for long enough for me to get the box and the mounting bracket attached to the ceiling plate--especially since I couldn't do it without immense pain in my arms.

Finally, I MacGyvered it with a couple of paper clips, and it worked. Tim had to mount the box and the hanging bracket (which go on at the same time), though, because I just couldn't hold my arms up over my head that long. (Sometimes, I am reminded dramatically that fibro is a disability).

Once that mess was solved, the rest of the installation was very straightforward. We got the motor mount and canopy up, the fan blades assembled and installed, and the light fixture installed without too much trouble (from them anyway--the kids were another matter). Plugged it in, and--voila!--an overhead light and ceiling fan, in the living room. They're elegant, too. I am very excited and pleased.

Thank goodness Tim came home to do the overhead work though. He had spent most of the evening giving a lecture on the historical origins of modern college a cappella, comedy a cappella, and the Yale Whiffenpoofs at DU for their music series (my husband is a genius, by the way, in case you hadn't noticed...).

Now I just have one more swag hook to install (it got to be bedtime, so I had to quit working), and the glass piece to buy tomorrow, and then we'll be on to part 3 of the living room: designing and building built-in shelves/cupboards for the living room so we can put away all the junk that has been sitting around in boxes for 2 years.

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