Sunday, March 8, 2020

Three Operas, a Rabbit Hole and an Exploding Toilet

This year the Gregorian Calendar Gods added an extra day to the month of February in honor of my birthday.  What a wonderful gift -- the gift of time -- the one thing we never have enough of, like shoes and perfume.  Of course, some people think it happens automatically every four years, but don’t you believe it.  In any case, I hope you made the most of that extra day. 

Following a pre-Birthday dinner celebration featuring my favorite widow, La Veuve Clicquot, chez Anna and Novis we all went to Bistro La Minette in Philadelphia.  The fois gras was delicious and that small wine glass in the picture was a special indulgence of Sauterne – not easy to find outside of France, probably because Americans don’t seem to have developed a taste for this very expensive dessert wine.  They don’t know what they are missing.  My husband and I love it and order it whenever we can find it. 

As I said, a girl can never have enough perfume.  (Did I say Hermès?)  I added the new Twilly scent to my collection, a gift from my husband.  Lunch with Earline and Linda brought more beautiful gifts. 

Miss Kiri Kat was more excited by the boxes they came in, trying each one out for size until she found one that was juuuust right.

This is the kitty kat corner of my kitchen countertop, all gifts from special friends over the years.  The nesting cat measuring cups are from a French company named Joie, a gift from Anna.  Aren’t they precious? 

Through the middle of February everything was idyllic -- delicious dinners with friends, three wonderful operas at the Met and then, all of a sudden, I fell down the rabbit hole.  It all started when my now retired husband decided that since it was too rainy to play golf he would renovate the basement bathroom. 

Home Renovation Manual – Lesson 1:  “Don’t Try This at Home”

Our basement bathroom is a full bath with shower.  This was not to be a big renovation (no to shower, toilet and sink) just a small renovation (yes to paint, new medicine cabinet and light fixture).  Sound simple?  Ha!! 

“Are you sure you want to do this yourself?” I asked. 

“Yeah, no problem.  Just a new coat of paint, medicine cabinet, light fixture and we’re good.  How hard can that be?” 

How hard indeed…….

Back and forth he went wearing a path between home and Home Depot.  Finally fully equipped, it was time to tackle the job.  From that moment on, everything that could go wrong did, starting with the paint color. 

Since it was basically his bathroom, I told him he could paint it any color he wanted.  Big mistake!! He chose white – not off-white, oyster, ecru, eggshell, pearl or ivory – no -- WHITE WHITE!  With the new, BRIGHT LED exhaust fan light installed after the first three didn’t fit, you could use that bathroom to guide in small planes. 

Finally, we came to the last step -- after waiting two weeks, the cabinet to go over the toilet arrived and Dan installed it “according to the directions.”  And then I opened the door.  All 25 lbs. of wooden cabinet fell on top of me, hit the toilet completely shattering the tank and flooding the entire area.  It was as if the toilet exploded.  There were shards of porcelain everywhere.   The water was still streaming in.  Dan ran in and shut off the water valve since I couldn’t budge it. 

As we surveyed the damage, we realized there were three silver linings. 

Silver Lining No. 1:  I survived with only a slightly wrenched back. 

Silver Lining No .2:  Dan had not yet thrown out a week’s worth of Wall Street Journal newspapers and newspapers are terrific at sopping up water. 

Silver Lining No. 3:  This didn’t happen while we were away. 

Two days later in New York we went to Basso56 for dinner and I did something I never do.  When the waitress asked if I wanted to start with a cocktail I realized that my usual Kir Royal was just not gonna cut it this time. 

So, I ordered a Raspberry Martini.  “Isn’t that all alcohol?” Dan asked.  “It better be,” I responded.  It was, and it was just what the little girl down the rabbit hole needed.  What rabbit hole? 

Naturally, we had to have a new toilet installed which, naturally, stopped working the second day.  The plumber came back with an augur and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it.  After he left, I said, “Dan, do we still have that old plunger?”  Two little plunges et voilà!  It’s worked fine ever since. 

So now that I’d climbed out of the rabbit hole, it was time to figure out how to give some character and warmth to this WHITE, WHITE bathroom. 

I remembered this painting I had “temporarily” stored in the attic sixteen years ago until I could find the perfect place to hang it.   I finally found it. 

I ordered this red 2 CV bath mat on line from a great place called Redbubble.  This is Dan’s favorite French car, so it was not only quirky and appropriate but added a great pop of color. 

I put the smaller one in front of the pedestal sink. 

We decided not to risk any more cabinet disasters and exploding toilets, so we just reinstalled the old metal étagère over the toilet.  I added some red accessories and this lovely April in Paris print I ordered from 

It’s amazing what a little color can do to cozy up a WHITE, WHITE bathroom.  Dan and I both love his new bathroom. 

Oh, and now that I think of it, there was actually a fourth silver lining. 

Silver Lining No. 4:  Handy Dan has hung up his power tools for good.  (Phew!!) 


  1. hahahaha - Oohhh M-T, I can so relate to this. I have found that I am a better tradesman than my husband. Have renovated a few houses in my time and find him more a hindrance than anything else - his ideas are simply not mine! Your (his) bathroom looks lovely. Hope you had a wonderful birthday -and that Raspberry Martini looks truly divine :).

  2. I loved every word. But then, I always do! That disaster in the bathroom...I can feel that pain. I had mine redone but the task was hired out. It took well over a week for the tiny bathroom BUT the worse that happened was the towel rod fell out of the wall. If the cabinet falls down I am in deep trouble. It IS heavy walnut.

  3. Comment sent to me by my friend Anna:

    "It was so nice reading your new blog and remembering the really delicious and very fun dinner we had before your birthday. We will go back there again. Want another kir royale!
    My sympathies for the remodeling of the bathroom but it turned out well and I like it very much. Especially the new (old) shelves instead of the cabinet. It adds so much color and warmth to it. And glad it is over.
    Hope you are over your cold too. Going to the Met Saturday?"

  4. Comment sent to me by my friend and client and accountant Kirsten:

    "I had to note while it was fresh in my very tired brain...I have a bottle of Sauterne. I think. I know it is a lovely and slightly expensive French dessert wine that I bought a few years back. Fun story behind it but if it is in fact the same, I look forward to sharing with you once life resumes normalcy."

  5. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Haha, love your rabbit hole experience, even though not as literal as mine about my sister's rabbit biting a whole in my new The Bridge Italian saddle-bag purse...
    Usually I'm not a bright white fan either as during the evening it makes it so harsh, when light bounces off the wall. But your room is not for evening time... haha! You solved it perfectly with all the colored items placed and/or hung.
    Oh, you made me so happy by reading about your love for Sauterne! Yes, in my previous post about Pieter's Memoirs in France, he was having a Champagne and we both very much loved the Sauterne. In my new post of tomorrow you can read about my very fluent and fluid French experience...
    We both enjoy Sauterne, or Hungarian Tokay, Italian Picolit, all very special and pricy special sweet wines. People that never traveled or have no inkling about these special wines will be turned off by its higher price... But it's worth it! Not to be drunk in quantity but savored with your best friends during a special dinner!
    Also the Canadian Ice Wines are great and the German/Austrian Gewürztraminer.
    Kiri Kat really loves her special box; here it is no different! Boxes, all sizes are like kitty-magnets.

  6. Happy Birthday, Marie-Thérèse!

    Happy to hear you had a wonderful birthday. The cake is beautiful and classy. Delicious treats, indeed.

    Continue to enjoy,



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