Thank you to everyone who stayed with me through thick and thin (dramatic intro)... In the end, the man took down the canopy ("I have no idea how", he said.) There was a flat metal plate (with a green wire) attached to the ceiling. This plate had three "lips", and the canopy was put on and turned. The middle pole and ball were indeed being held up only by the canopy. (Must be a very old model.) So Metzspitzer was right...it should have just needed a turn to go past the lips and come down, but it wouldn't turn, and the plate was turning with it. Putting up the new one wasn't so easy, since the elec. box was far into the ceiling. But now it's done, thank you again for all of your comments. Stay tuned for episode two...the attic fan, where we explore why the controls are stashed deep out of reach into the rafters, thus preventing the fan from going on the entire summer. And the electricity is running...I found out the hard way. Ouch.