Everyone has flaws and endearing peccadillos; mine is that I have an inexplicable tendency to burn water.

It started with a Michael Graves tea kettle that was a gift from my uncle and looked like a piece of artwork, it was so brilliantly designed. It had a whistle shaped like a little red bird, so it was a perfect “Robin” kettle. It came to me when the kids were toddlers, and it met its demise one busy morning when it sat on the stove with its little Robin-bird whistling her heart out as I ignored it while tending to a screaming child until the water burned out completely and the cute little whistle-bird melted into the pot itself. I was crushed because I loved that tea pot and doubly crushed when I went to replace it and discovered its cost.

Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her new column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see robinconte.com.

I received a replacement Michael Graves kettle for Mother’s Day, and I got to enjoy it for only two months before I burned that one. As a punishment to myself, I did not replace it but boiled my tea and French-press coffee water in a basic pot on the stove instead. However, since a plain old pot does not come equipped with a whistle, it’s even easier to burn than a tea kettle. I burned four perfectly good 1.2-quart pots until I decided it was time to go back to kettles. By then I had saved up enough money to buy another Michael Graves kettle that I so loved, and I gave it to myself for Christmas, with the silent pledge that if this one burned, I would not replace it.

You guessed it. This one burned, too. But it wasn’t by me this time! It burned on a babysitter’s watch.

I put it on the cabinet-top ledge where it stood as decoration with its fallen brothers. And I decided it was time to go the route of electric tea kettles.

I was well-chuffed with a glass version that boiled water efficiently and expertly, until after a year, it suddenly stopped. I replaced it, and its replacement broke. I replaced it once more and, true to my rule of three, gave up the electric tea kettles when the third one broke.

By this point, it had been about a decade since my burning-curse began, and I’d lost at least 10 pans and teapots along the way. The electric-kettle interlude lasted long enough for me to rekindle my hankering for old-fashioned kettles, and as karma would have it, I found the most perfect one on sale at HomeGoods. It was a nice solid shape, with strong shoulders and a hefty base, plus it was robin’s egg blue, so it became my new perfect-for-Robin tea kettle. It was a color so unique and so wonderful that the ladies in the checkout line with me gushed over it, while I stood in smug satisfaction because I had snagged it for myself.

Every day when I walked into my kitchen and saw it perched there in its spot smack-dab in the middle of the stove top, complimenting my kitchen décor with ease, I felt a light lift of spirit.
I had a new favorite, and I didn’t even think it was possible.

How long did it take me to burn this one? Exactly eight months. This time, I truly mourned because I had completely fallen for it.

I disciplined myself with plain old pots again and went online searching for a replacement, with the sinking feeling that its charming color had been discontinued. And I decided that I’d start scouting HomeGoods again, just in case.

I found a stainless-steel kettle that looked dashing on the HG shelf, and I bought it, but I never could bring myself to use it because it was so lackluster in my own home. When I returned it, I scoured the store once more, and lo and behold, I spotted my very same blue kettle, high on a shelf and on clearance because its lid was lost. Eureka! Fortunately, even though my first blue kettle was useless, I had not moved it because I couldn’t bear to walk into a kitchen bereft of its cheery blue self, and thus I had a lid that perfectly fit this new topless kettle.

Sometimes, things work out.

And maybe, just maybe, this one will last.

…or maybe it won’t.

Robin Conte

Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her new column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see robinconte.com.