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Trip Report Murder-suicide, family fighting, and insanity: Only an idiot (me) would plan both a kitchen remodel and a trip to Paris at the same time....

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Part 1 of many

It all seemed like a good idea then. The kitchen was 25 years old and its inhabitants were in need of a vacation. Why not do the 2 birds with 1 stone routine. We're healthy, no kids, and one of us (me) has a flexible job. So last August we booked a trip to Paris on AA with frequent flyer miles (a first and did that feel good) for 8 glorius nights from 4/20/06-4/29/06 and signed up with a kitchen and bath outfit. I'm not exactly sure when the "kitchen" remodel morphed into the powder room and mudroom remodel as well, but it definitely did. What budget...

Tackling 2 projects at once proved to be rather challenging. Now I've planned several trips before, thanx to my fellow Fodorites. But I've never done any remodeling. Boy was I about to get an education. Worse, that project would eventually turn into a tragedy.

On 2 prior trips to Paris, the last being 20 years ago when I was 30, I was intimidated by the people, culture, and language. Pretty city but a rough crowd. Things probably would have gone smoother then if I'd spoken some French. DW had never been to Paris and I wanted her to see it in the springtime. Wary of my past experiences, I thought long and hard about taking one of those organized tours. But emboldened by the fine folks here, I decided we'd go it alone.

As insurance, I immediately booked guide Michael Osman for 4 days based on the recommendations here, figuring he'd handle the language and cultural barriers and allow me to focus my energies at home where they were truly needed. So other than booking a hotel, the 3 star Hotel de Varenne in the 7th (147 E per nite for a standard double), picking up the AAA spiral bound guide on Paris (excellent), and monitoring this site daily for tips and advice, I more or less put Paris on the back burner. Considering we had 8 days to fill and I remembered next to nothing about Paris, that was a little unsettling.

Meanwhile the gobs and gobs of research that usually go into trip planning instead went into kitchen sinks, appliances, switchplate covers, grout colors..... I had no idea there were so many decisions to make. Who knew that toilets now come in "tall" versions, that cooktops now work via magnetism (induction), that faucets can be opereated by foot pad (Tapmaster), etc, etc. My DW will be the first to admit she doesn't have the patience for such things. Hence I am the trip planner as well as the kitchen designer, planner, shopper, etc. But being a detail guy and a perfectionist, I can drive myself crazy and nearly did.

In Sept, we paid the big check to the kitchen and bath company so they could order the cabinets with the idea they'd be here well in advance of the kitchen demolition slated for the end of Dec. We'd been working exclusively with brother A on this little project, one of the owners. He and his employees were acting as the general contractor altho I ended up participating in that role as well. On Dec 28, the kithchen is gutted. We're told everything should be done in 6-8 weeks. Yeah, I know, I'm thinking more like 10-12. Still, lots of time to get it done before Paris....

On Jan 9, brother A calls to advise he's leaving the company to pursue other opportunities and brother B will be taking over the project. Not to worry says brother A.... On Jan 12, we meet brother B for first time and learn brother A was fired for a variety of things, not the least of which was failing to order our cabinets.... But they've been ordered now, he says, and will be in around Mar 1.... Oh the things that swirl around a lawyer's head at that moment. After many sleepless nights, we get the feeling maybe we won't be heading down to the bankrutcy court to file a claim after all. And sure enough, brother B turns out to be a very good and honest man.

Fast forward to Friday, Mar 31. The kitchen, powder and mud rooms are about 70% done. The lead carpenter, a wonderful worker and kind man who I had seen and spoken with almost daily since Dec 28, goes home and does the unspeakable. Something must have snapped. According to the police reports and new broadcasts, he shot his wife and then took his own life, leaving their 2 boys (10 and 12) to find them............

And we're going to Paris in 3 weeks???

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