Trading Spaces

List of things to buy today:

  1. Eggs, bread, celery, potatoes
  2. Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs 1.5 dozen
  3. flame retardant spray
  4. lampshade

Flame retardant spray? I think that everyone should have that on their shopping list; I said it as a joke to my Dad, and he wrote it down. Within seconds, I realized that not only does it sound hilarious, that I actually needed some. Why? Explanation to follow.

Yes, it’s a federal holiday today. What does that mean you may ask? Clearly, it means that my mother has decided to clean the house. I love it how it can go for weeks on end looking like hell, with every horizontal surface filled with stacks of old mail and papers, and then suddenly, because goverment offices are closed and and the mail doesn’t come, everything needs to be weeded. The process occurs regardless of other family members’ occupation, usually starting with some form of gardening/lawn mowing until she’s good and tired (moody), then the sorting begins; this machine scurries around the house on tasks of the utmost importance, such as asking me in a flustered tone if my headphones should go in the hall or on the ever accumulating pile of “Thea’s Shit” on the front table. Of course it follows that the fate of the free world depends upon my response; again, regardless of whatever project I might be working on, infinitely less important than the organizational opus going on in the other room. GRRRRRRRRRRRR.

And people wonder why I don’t chat with Cathy that often. Economy of conversation is in full effect; my sister and I have learned the futility of responding to questions whose answer is readily apparent. ex.- Thea fills coffee maker with water, removes beans from freezer and inserts filter. Mom asks “Oh, are you making coffee?” No, this is nuclear physics; appearances can be deceiving.

Well, that was fun. What really led me to post today, however, was what I was doing WHILE Mom cleaned. I made a lamp today, in full-on ‘Trading Spaces’ mode.

When I came home from Spain, I saw sitting on the front porch ready to go to the trash an old “bronze” lamp from about 1970 that had been in our living room since time immemorial. Saddened that our family should lose such a treasure, and being without a light in my bedroom (mine had been appropriated for some other use in my 6 month absence), I decided that I should succor the sad thing and give it a facelift, like I’d seen done so many times on TLC. I’m almost finished now, after three days, several trips to the hardware store, and much inhalation of paint fumes. In the process, I proved once again that it is indeed as the maxim says: everything is easier on TV.

After cleaning, sanding, and priming the lamp, I went in search of the right paint, and a new bulb socket and harp. Paint I found, right off the bat, but Home Depot only had sockets, not cords, so I’d have to use the antique wiring that the lamp already had, something that didn’t seem all that prudent for fire-safety. I went home anyway to finish painting, reassembling, and such. Went back out again with Pops today to pick up the last few supplies, and I couldn’t help but think that this ‘little’ project had sucked up an inordinate amount of my time in the past few days. On the show, it all looks so easy, because they probably have their little interns and assorted peons to run around to 3 hardware stores to find the right parts, and somebody to shoo the ants away from newly sprayed metal parts so they don’t end up permanently affixed to the new creation. Unfortunately I am just me, peon-less in my redecorating schemes, and everything takes a lot more time than I think it will.

Also, little snags like Mom walking into the kitchen and glaring at the fabric that I had planned to used for a lampshade, snapping “That doesn’t seem like a very good idea. Is it flame retardant?” [hence need for flame retardant spray]. So I compromise. Since nobody seemed to have any f.r.s., fabric goes on the border of a pre-made lampshade, and my project just does a little swerve at roadblock number 7.

It will be finished eventually, and I’ll have a very fun light fixture that matches both my college decor and the pillows for our living room, so I guess it’s worth the trouble. Oh, the sacrifices I make for design. =) I also feel strangely powerful when I can make electrical things that function. It’s fun to say “I re-wired a lamp.”

On a completely unrelated note, saw Legally Blonde 2 with Mom and Sis. Very funny. Also got to go to my favorite restaurant in Norfolk last night, Luna Maya (also complete with retro-orange-Trading-Spaces-esque decor), and had killer enchiladas with chipotle. Makes me happy. I’m not very patriotic, especially in this day and age, so the 4th kind of loses a little of its splendor. Being back in a military town is sure a kick in the head; blind patriotism scares me. The fact remains that I still like crabs with Old Bay and fireworks, so it should be a good holiday. Whew, I’m outie.


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