Old Lovers

I spent a few weeks last summer on a river boat cruise. It was the romantic Danube tour but I was with my husband’s sister and six of her closest friends. There was nothing in their way to prevent turning the cruise into an episode of The Loveboat, but being the only non-single one of the bunch, that was not an option.

The night we were docked in Vienna the seven friends chose to go to a classical concert in town, but I was tired after having gone on a morning tour of Vienna in the pouring rain, then a raft trip after lunch. I was also coming down with a cold, although I was convinced it was allergies at the time so I opted out of the music and sat in the lingboat’s lounge drinking a cocktail and reading on my Kindle.

When I looked up from my book I noticed a tiny woman with snow-white hair sitting across from me, drinking her own cocktail. I smiled and she smiled and before long I knew everything there was to know about Katherine Ashe aka Katherine Ann Wynne. She worked for a company that closed down or something so decided to write. She published books on an obscure Englishman called Simon de Montfort who apparently founded Parliament.

She must have sensed that I was not going to read the books about the founder of Parliament so she said she self-published a book about Fairies. This might or might not have been after I mentioned my daughter was a big believer in the wee folk.

After an hour or so her husband, Peter, joined us. When he learned that my husband worked for NIH he said that my husband probably knew someone he went to school with. Sure enough, Dean knew Peter’s classmate, Tony Fauchi.

I had such a delightful time speaking with this fascinating couple that I asked them if they would mind posing with Rupert. They said they’d be delighted to and anyone who would not want to pose with Rupert was not worth knowing.

Katherine and Peter holding Rupert in the lounge of a cruise ship.
Katherine, Peter and Rupert

Their love for each other was apparent in the way they spoke to each other, the way they looked at each other, the way they spoke of their past life in New York City and their current life in rural Pennsylvania. Throughout the rest of the tour I saw them quite often and while we didn’t have any more long talks, I could still see their love for each other, even at a distance.

They seemed like such a happy, intelligent couple that I think about them often. I still need to read The Fairy Garden though.

My first crime

When I was around 6 years old I was friends with two sisters, Devin and Kathy, who lived on my street. We used to play in their basement where they had such wonderful toys as a mini kitchen with a sink with real running water and a washer that really washed doll clothes along with matching dryer that whose drum you could spin with a crank on the side.

They also had a doll house with lamps and ceiling fixtures that really lit up via hidden batteries and wires. In addition to dollhouse-sized furniture, this dollhouse had dollhouse-sized residents: A mother, a father, a son and a daughter. It even had tiny plastic babies (the kind that one might find in a King Cake) that took long naps in dollhouse-sized cribs.

While I desperately coveted everything they had, I really wanted one of those tiny babies so one day, when the sisters were briefly elsewhere, I secretly slid one of the tiny dolls in the small pocket on the lower thigh of my turquoise pedal pushers. They had many tiny babies and I had none, I said to myself to justify the crime.

Photograph of three tiny dolls. Front, back and side.
Exhibit A

Not long after that day I was playing with my Barbie in my living room, having her hold her tiny new baby. My mom must have been watching me play and asked me where I got the tiny baby. At first I said that Devin and Kathy gave it to me because they had lots and lots, but when she pressed me (maybe threatened to ask their mother) I admitted that I’d taken it. She made me promise to give it back to them and apologize.

I kept half of that promise. I did give Devin and Kathy the stolen tiny baby, but I did not apologize. In fact I lied and told them that I had my own stash of tiny baby dolls and they were welcome to one of mine. They thanked me with hugs.

Dona turns 7. Eight girls at a birthday party.
This photo was taken around the time of the crime. The criminal is sitting in the front row, second from left and the victims are in the front row third from left (Kathy) and back row middle — making the silly face(Devin)

***Note that I did not attempt any wordplay so don’t strain yourself trying to find some.***

Almost back to normal

We had low-key Christmas holiday these past couple of weeks. Our traditions were pretty much discarded but that was okay. Andrew drove down from Pittsburgh and stayed with us for a couple of days, then left for Atlanta to spend Christmas and New Year with Alex’s family. Clare arrived on Christmas Eve (but left a few days later to hang out with friends in New York through the New Year) and Andrew returned on January 3rd. We celebrated our family Christmas Eve that night and Christmas Day the next. Clare flew home to Olympia yesterday and Andrew drives back to Pittsburgh tomorrow. The only constant was Mingus who spent three weeks with us, loving the huge windows to the deck where he could observe squirrels feasting on peanuts I set out for him.

It was great having the new kitchen and our “lodge”. Clare adopted the lodge and made it look cozy and very Clare-like. She even slept there (on the floor) two nights, but realized her bedroom had a comfortable bed. That didn’t stop her from spending her waking hours in the lodge though. The kitchen proved to be as useful as we’d hoped and we spent lots of time as a family cooking and eating in it.

That said, it is always a bit of a disruption when everyone is here and the house usually gets very messy.

Here are a few photos of our last few weeks.