She’s come undone


It has come to my attention after 16 years in residence in this particular old house, I can no longer refer to any project we undertook in the pursuit of making our home habitable (and they are many) as “done.”


I am shocked at the rapid decay of our upstairs bath, namely because we “just” remodeled it 15 years ago. To my mind, that’s “new.” The problem was we tried to work with what the former occupants had left us, forgetting they never installed anything that wasn’t apparently purchased as a factory second (or sixth?), possibly off the back of a truck.

As a result it has come to our attention that the wonky plastic “garden tub” they installed has begun to work itself loose from its moorings and threatens to slide right out across the bathroom floor.

Meanwhile the downstairs bath, not to be outdone, has decided to free itself of the burden of an attached toilet. One day, without warning, it simply decided to rock free from the floor.

Why does that happen? It wasn’t like anyone was playing with it or abusing it in any manner, but there you have it. I mention this like it was a wholly unexpected turn of events when, in reality, anyone could have seen it coming.


About a year ago I was hosting a rather large gathering at our home when a dear friend’s child, heart of my heart and like one of my own, attempted to interrupt my conversation. I am nothing if not committed to helping the village raise its children, and I quickly held up one finger in the accepted signal for “shush” and directed said child to not interrupt and please wait his turn.

I allowed the ensuing adult conversation to continue for quite some time before finally turning, smugly I think, to the child and asking him, finally, what it was he wanted. He shrugged and said simply “your toilet is overflowing.”

I deserved that.

I then did what any smart person would do. I mopped up the mess and ignored the problem for another year and a half, easy. That’s how I roll. Look, this isn’t my first rodeo. If we start poking around under there Mr. Wonderful is going to “find something.” Once he “finds something” he is going to want to fix it. Before you know it I will be up to my eyeballs in drywall dust and tile samples.

It’s happened before. I enjoy redecorating and buying new towel holders as much as the next gal, but it’s the finishing touches, like electrical outlet covers, that often trip me up.


I had an article published in House Beautiful Kitchens and Baths years ago (essay not photos, alas) and was much heartened to learn photo stylists use flowers, footwear and even household pets to hide the nagging “small stuff” that goes unfinished in many portions of a room. The artful flower arrangement on a kitchen counter might be a bold pop of color, may be hiding a cracked tile.

I felt so much better after learning that. It helped me come to grips with who we are. We are people who can completely renovate a room from the studs out and then fail to install a 39 cent switch plate cover that would really finish off the room. After a while you just don’t “see” it anymore, or the cat may have been blocking the view.

This failure to finish is why I have been steadfastly ignoring the fact that my bathtub may crash into the dining room below. Ignorance is a gift, really. I’m just so fearful of starting something, because just as the shin bone is connected to the knee bone (it is the knee bone, right?), so too is the new bathtub connected to the new shower surround. If we are going to get a new shower surround then we really should go ahead and replace the cracked tile floor. It’s ceramic so that may require a jackhammer.

Before we know it, our entire second floor is a hard hat area. Worse, it’s another 10 years before I can even think about getting that light switch cover installed.

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