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June 9th, 2014

First off, my next book from Harlequin is called The Truth About Lady FELKIRK.

Not Bellston. Because last time I told you all about it, I forgot the heroine’s name.

The Truth About Lady Felkirk will be available in October. In November, I will have a novella called The Christmas Duchess available in the WISH UPON A SNOWFLAKE anthology.

And now, on to other, more pressing matters.

I mentioned, a couple of months back, that we were remodeling the bathroom.

We still are. At this point, we have been remodeling the bathroom for almost a full year. The end is in sight. But I have been saying that since Thanksgiving, and no one believes me anymore.

Granted, something needed to be done. Like a lot of the repairs and renovations done by the previous owners of this house, that room was a dysfunctional mess. And (like with having a baby, or starting a war) if you wait until you have the time and money to carry it off, it’ll never get done.

So one day, I started picking at the brown speckled Alhambra tiles that went out of fashion when Starsky and Hutch were still on. And, just as I knew they would, they fell off the wall.

I promised my husband he could stay out of this project. It would be mine. Mine and the contractors’. Half the fixtures were already in the basement, waiting to be installed. That was from a time, several years ago, when a Home Depot went out of business.

What can I say? I love a sale. I bought, and I waited. And now, I had a little cash saved up, and could totally DO THIS.

Then, #2 son didn’t get a summer job, and #1 son didn’t get a school loan. And suddenly, I could no longer afford to hire it all out. But everyone owed me money. They owed me something, anyway.

So I said, “Boys. How’d you like to learn some useful life skills?”

In retrospect, the answer should have been a unanimous, “NO!” But they didn’t speak up at the time. And how hard could it be? They do this stuff all the time on the DIY Channel, and it doesn’t look that hard. And there are instructional videos on YouTube for everything.

There are no videos to explain why the previous owner would have installed soffits that didn’t do anything but make the room smaller. Was he planning to hide a body? Or several bodies?

And why was everything held together with nails the size of railroad spikes?

This is a lie. Some parts of that room weren’t nailed at all. Multiple layers of drywall and cement board were laminated together with construction cement. In the demolition process, the only lessons that #2 son learned were that bathroom design, like life, can be unnecessarily cruel and meaningless.

Also, cast iron tubs are heavy.

Then, the actual remodeling began. Two plumbers took one look at the job and walked out, never to be seen again. Third time was the charm.

When the plumbing was finished, we tiled the floor (wrong). So we tiled it again (half way. And wrong). So we ripped it out, and third time was the charm, again. But the whole thing was a micron taller than it had been. We’d already started tiling the walls, but the cove tile no longer fit along the baseboard. Which meant, cutting and grinding. Also, an up close and intimate acquaintance with the fact that no two walls in the room are straight, square or level.

#1 son now knows more about ceramic tile than he ever wanted to. He is also developing the same scowl his father gets, every time I talk about home improvement. Yesterday, he claimed he needed a break because he was getting claustrophobic in an open shower stall.

Play through the fear, Son. I ran out of mercy after six months without an upstairs toilet.

Although I realized, about half way through, that the red and white enamel kettle in the basement that was left by the previous owners is not a spaghetti pot at all. It is a chamber pot, or, as my mother used to call it, a thunder bucket.

I am very glad that I did not make noodles in it.

My husband threatened to take it upstairs and photograph it sitting by the plumbing stack, so he can show people the “After” picture of our remodel.

But that wasn’t necessary. We have a working toilet again. And it only had to be installed twice. We’re getting better at this.

Home improvement is kind of like Afghanistan. You go in with the best intentions, meaning to make things better. All of a sudden, it’s years later, you’re still there, and there’s no end in sight.

And you still have no running water.