A Southern Fried Mess

Insanity is a southern necessity…

Hmm…That wasn’t supposed to happen

My husband and I bought an expensive but beautiful  floor lamp on impulse about a year ago.  We don’t normally spend lots of money on such things–I mean come on, it’s just a lamp. Normally, we buy used or take stuff that people don’t want and make due. But we decided to splurge this one time.   Anyway,  when we got the lamp home, I immediately put it together and turned it on.  Everything about the fixture was perfect: the color, the size, and the scale. We had done good or so it seemed.

Long about this time, my youngest had just learned to walk and was still a bit wobbly on her feet.  Now we had warned the kids that they were not to run in the living room or to go around the lamp, but….. Well you should know where this is going. My youngest in curls lost her  balance and had grabbed hold of the lamp to steady herself.  Only the lamp didn’t stay put. CRASH! To the floor it went.  She was fine and not hurt, but I couldn’t say the same for the lamp’s glass shade. The biggest piece of broken shade that I could find was no bigger than a quarter. She must have hit it in just the right place to make it shatter like that. There was not gonna be any gluing of this back together.

I wanted to cry and I think maybe I did for a split second. All that money—$106.00 dollars, tax included, to be exact— down the drain.  Oh, well; it was just a lamp, right? We should’ve known better with young kids still in the house. And naturally the place we bought the lamp from didn’t sell replacement parts.

Hubby was speechless when he came home and turned a funny color like he had just eaten something bad. Needless to say the lamp was placed into the hall closet and forgotten about. For a whole year, there it stayed behind the winter coats. Until just recently.

On one of my many cleaning escapades, I drug it out and dusted it off.  Hubby got sick all over again at the sight of it and told me to get rid of it. But I just couldn’t throw it away so I set out to find another glass shade or something else that would work just as well. No luck.

Apparently, after shopping every lamp and home interior shop in town and on the internet, folks just don’t make parts for stuff anymore. Everything is meant to be disposable, I guess. I was ready to give up when my husband surprised me. He told me to just go and buy another lamp—just like the  one we had.

We did and once again the lamp looks stunning in our living room.  Only this time we noticed the tiny piece of paper inside the box that said if we needed to order parts to call this number.  DOH!!!! I swear that paper wasn’t in the other lamp box.  We called, and within one day got our replacement glass shade for free via Fedex. Now all I had to do was to ‘fix’ the other lamp and we would have two beauties gracing our living room.

I worked all day yesterday on the thing, taking it apart and putting it back together.  Now, before I go on I feel the need to tell you something.  I’ve rewired numerous lamps, installed lighting fixtures, and hung ceiling fans more than I can count in my life time. I’ve rewired wall sockets and installed new ones. What I’m trying to say is this: I know a little about electrical stuff…enough not to burn down the house anyway.

I finished the lamp late evening. With the new glass shade sitting atop the fixture and a new bulb installed, I gave the word for my son to plug it in.  We all held our breath in excitement and anticipation.  That’s when the other lights in the house dimmed. Suddenly, before I could tell my son to unplug the lamp’s cord, it exploded in flame. Yes, flame. And It ran quickly up the length of the cord to the lamp of which I was standing on a chair next too.

My younger girls  began screaming and ran to the corner of the room. My oldest son freaked out and ran out of the house. I guess he figured it was everyman for himself. I immediately went to the breaker box and shut down the main breaker as we don’t have a fire extinguisher in the house (and I was in too much of a hurry to sit there and read all the labels on the breakers). I know, I know…how stupid is that? To live in a log house with lots of kids and not own an extinguisher…

When I returned, I unplugged the melted cord from the wall and checked out the electrical box in the wall to make sure it was fine and not spreading the fire through the wiring. Everything was fine. Except for the carpet which was burned in spots, but I’ve always hated that carpet anyway.

I opened up all the doors and windows to get the smoke out and the smell.  There is nothing worse than smelling burnt plastic, trust me. And by this time, I had also managed to find my oldest son outside and get him back in to help me.

My youngest girls were still in the corner crying, with the curly headed one wanting her blanket. My youngest son was annoyed that the lights were off. He was playing spaceman and I was told that you can’t play spacemen without the lights being on. My oldest daughter was next door playing with the neighbor kids. She hasn’t forgiven herself yet for missing out on mama setting fire to the floor lamp.

Yeah, yeah; laugh it up.

I switched the breaker back on, telling my oldest to yell out if fire shot from the socket. I heard nothing. All the excitement was over.  I cleaned up the mess and then made dinner. When daddy came home the kids blurted out that, “Mommy tried to burn down the house. It was cool!”  Once again, I had reached the ‘cool’ status.

After going over things in my mind, I think i have figured out what went wrong.  Normally, I would check out the entire cord for nicks or breaks. I didn’t do that this time. I had assumed that the cord was fine, after all it was new when it got broke.  Second, I let the kids distract me and didn’t double check my work. One of the wires connected to the light socket could have been touching something that it shouldn’t have been. Either way, it was a dumb mistake.

Oh, well. At least the lamp is still in one piece and looks nice even if it doesn’t work.  Only now we, my husband and I, have decided that two floor lamps in the living room is one too many.  Seems ya can’t win for loosing!


October 24, 2008 - Posted by | family, humor, kids, life, Uncategorized | , ,


  1. Sorry but that really was funny. After all the pain of getting the new cover and then the thing bursts into flames. At least no one was hurt and the house is still standing.

    Alright; go ahead and laugh it up at my expense. It is a wonder, one of the great mysteries of the world, that the house is still standing. Things like this always seem to happen to me. 🙂

    Comment by bluesuit12 | October 24, 2008 | Reply

  2. You have a wonderful life. So full of excitement and laughter…I love getting to know the adventures you have. I am very grateful that nothing was to badly destroyed and all is safe.
    Love you, Barb

    You sound just like my husband. He tells me that life is never dull when I’m around. Something, if given enough time, will always happen. The only real thing hurt in the whole episode was my pride.

    Comment by 6justmyopinion | October 24, 2008 | Reply

  3. Darn! I want a picture of the cord. I can’t imagine that the lamp “cared” about which side was the hot and which was the neutral, but it is possible. But maybe a bad spot in the cord was touching the carpet…it has to be the first thing to “ignite”.

    The cord had little silver pieces of solder popped out in all places and the warning tag, you know that really BIG sticker they attach to the lamp, was charred and disfigured. This marks the second item that I have rewired that burst into flames—as reminded to me by my son. “Remember the vacuum cleaner?”

    Comment by morethananelectrician | October 24, 2008 | Reply

  4. The main thing is that everyone is alright and no one was injured. At least it looks good and spruces up the room.
    Ha, Ha! My attitude exactly…
    And thanks for stopping by!

    Comment by FengShuiCandace | October 29, 2008 | Reply

  5. LOL. This is so funny. It sounds just like something that would happen to me.

    Stuff like this happens to me all the time, only I don’t always report it here. I try to keep a low profile in case they are looking for crazy people to put in the padded rooms…….

    Thanks for stopping by, Alyson!!

    Comment by alyson | October 30, 2008 | Reply

  6. Glad all is alright! I laughed more at the spare parts tag then anything else…oh, and your oldest thinking every man for himself.

    FYI: You might check..your insurance company might give you a discount for buying a small extinguisher and having it under your sink. Ours does.

    Alright…you can stop laughing now 😉 come to think of it, I do believe that our insurance company gives discounts for extinguishers/ We have several empty ones (don’t ask, please..) in the garage and laundry room, I wonder if those would count? Hmmmm…………

    Comment by joz1234 | November 5, 2008 | Reply

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