oh, alabax

in the very early days of 2012 (i make pierre do fun house projects on new year’s day), we changed our very first light fixture in the foyer of our first house. it should not have been complicated — all our electrical was new — but i wanted a chandelier and it didn’t occur to me that i couldn’t really have a chandelier and 8′ ceilings, so it took all day, every tool in the house and got 2012 off to a great start.

over the past five years, however, changing light fixtures has become child’s play. pierre has done five in the past five months with extremely limited cursing. which is why, on my way out the door to take frankie to music last thursday, i thought nothing of asking pierre to get one last fixture up on the day my parents arrived for a visit.

imagine my surprise when i got home to find the new fixture still in its box, pierre still on the ladder and none of our overhead lights working.

this particular electrical box was in an “original” part of the house and was wired in a way that’s fine, but not really the way we expect to see things wired in 2017. instead of the power running to the light switch and the light switch completing the circuit (so when it’s on, you have light and when it’s off, you don’t) the power ran to the box itself. the wires — and there were many seeing as this box powered our hallway light, master bedroom light, nursery light and bathroom lights and fan — were tied off in a very particular way so that all our light switches served that crucial “on/off” function. to pierre’s credit, he did figure all this out, but not before disassembling the entire box, which he then — my parents are here! — did not have unlimited time to fix.

we called an electrician. who fixed everything and who, thank god, thought the wiring looked just fine. (it’s sort of a nightmare of mine that i’ll call in a trade who tells me something’s not to code and that everything needs to be replaced). but he couldn’t hang our fixture! he chipped it trying, and then seemed both abashed and grateful that i sent him downstairs to wire us a plug for our new hot water heater. it’s the alabax large from schoolhouse electric — so beautiful, so poorly designed. pierre and i have hung four in this house now, with one more to go in the den, so we have a bit of a system going. it involves me holding the fixture above my head with my crazy strong arms (all that toddler-wrangling paying dividends) leaving pierre to fiddle with the two screws and curse the angles that don’t allow you to use a screwdriver (nope, not even a stubby) to affix the fixture to its plate. we do all this very quietly, while frankie naps.


i’m working on a more in-depth post about our hallway, which still looks mostly the worst, except for one wall and this ceiling, but i felt like this damn light fixture deserved a post all to itself.

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