Category Archives: Life

My Letter to Kevin from Chetek

While other parents sent their kids to sleep-away camp, mine sent me to my grandparent’s house in Wisconsin. I think I got the better deal.

I would have been 15 and Kevin would have been around 9 when I wrote this.

June 18, 1972

Dear Kevin,

Hi, I told you I would write. How is my bed? I have to open my bed every day (night really). How are the gerbils? Did they have babies yet?

I have not caught any fish yet. Grandma caught four good ones one night and forgot to clean them so they died. Then she caught three that she cleaned right away. (ICK!) I am learning to fish, slowly but surely. It has been too cold to fish though.

Ginny and Jack are coming up today and Jack will be fishing most of the time I bet.

How are you and Billy getting along lately? Is he giving you trouble?

I saw a movie a couple of nights ago. It was called Toy Tiger. It was about a little boy who made up stories about his father (who he never had). Timmy said that his father was a great explorer. This big bully didn’t believe Timmie so he kept teasing him. Timmie found a guy and told the kids that he was his father. It all ended up happy.

We had spinach the other day and I put vinegar on it and ate it! (I nearly puked though)

You should have been up here last Monday. Four trees fell over/down by the dock. Grandma and I were sitting looking out of the window and all of a sudden we heard a loud crack (we thought it was thunder. Then Grandma looked out and said “Holy Cow, look at that, the tree was struck by lightning!” We all looked and a bunch of trees were lying down with the ground sticking up 3½ feet.

Kevin, will you mind if I write in cursive? I’m getting tired of writing like this.

I also wrote a letter to Chad — give it to him (go to his house) and have his mother read it to him. Does he wonder where I am? Or has he forgotten about me?

Oh — ask mom to send my white shorts with the buttons up with Uncle Dick or someone — even the Pasholks if they see you. O.K.?

Is it nice and warm in Elgin? It’s freezing up here. I can hardly get any tan.

I can’t think of anything else to write so I will write more later.

I will have to go pretty soon because we are going to eat. I will try to finish this page though. I will write later (next week or so).

Have you seen Cindy Jordon around? She isn’t in Maine. To be honest I wish I was home but I am having an okay time up here.

Do you sleep with Cinder? If so does she keep you awake? You will have to write and tell me all about everything. Are you taking swimming lessons? All I do is sit around — it’s kind of boring.

Well, I miss you and don’t forget to give Chad his letter. Maybe he will let you read it.

Love, as always,
Dona

Love to all!

PS Write!
PPS Okay?

First Letter to Parents After Move to Pittsburgh

Dean and I started dating in 1979. He moved in with me summer, 1981. We moved to Pittsburgh mid-summer 1981. My parents, brother and cousin helped us move. Here’s a letter I wrote to them.

We had no idea that we would not be able to use the money we put in a bank for two weeks after opening an account and could not cash any checks that were not certified. Not only my parents try to help us out, so did Dean’s. We lived on $40 worth of change that I’d serendipitously been saving since moving into an apartment in Elgin.

The comment about pink, not blue, fingers was because of my Reynaud’s syndrome and stress sometimes made my fingers turn blue.

Also the description of my 25th birthday makes me tired just reading it!

August 26, 1981

Dear Mom, Dad & Kevin,

So — this is the second letter I’ve written. Letter #1 is stale (and besides I’ve already told you everything that’s in it).

Like I said on the phone — the apartment actually is livable now. Each room still has a lot to be done, but at least we can move. Today we cleaned out the desks and put some books away. Our next big project is making shelves for the stereo and albums and the remainder of the books.

We have no hot water yet. The plumber never showed up. I guess it’s quite a job. Ask Dick Palmer why he thinks we are having so many problems. 🙂 (Actually I think our landlady is worried about $$$)

My birthday was really special. Dean made me a wonderful breakfast of strawberries & cream, kippers, pink champagne, soft-boiled eggs, bagels & toast (this was all before we knew how poor we were 😑)

Then we went to a festival downtown at Point State Park. That’s where the three rivers come together. We watched the speed boaters and Dean “frolicked” in the fountain.

For dinner, Dean mad a roast and Yorkshire pudding. It was all very wonderful dean gave me my favorite cologne, a blue rose, peppercorns, kerosene for my lamp, a bottle of wine, and from a small garage sale, a salt shaker and pepper mill sett, directly (long ago) from Italy.

After dinner and cake (yes — he baked a cake, complete with 25 ! candles). We took a long leisurely walk around our new neighborhood.

Cinder has settled in very nicely. It’s almost as if no move ever took place.

We still have to thank you properly. I wish I could have said more in the way of thanks when you left but I was ready to cry at any moment.

Also we owe you money for gas, etc. That will be paid as soon as we can.

Well, take care,
Love,
Dona

P.S. Got the checks today.
Thanks for the loan — I feel awful, asking for the money — thanks so much.

Dona

Hi again —

Enclosed, you have found the two checks. Thanks, but the bank won’t accept it except to go into our account and that won’t be good until the 8th of September. (That’s the $50.00) Then — the $15.00 check — it’s not certified. Seems that certified means the bank guarantees the money. We even went to the assistant manager. But luckily we found out that the book store takes VISA (Dean needs books) and that leaves us with enough cash to get by. There is $40.00 in my change bottle. I appreciate your help very much. If you can’t get your money back (but I am sure you can). Send me the check back and I’ll be able to cash it and send you back one of our checks.

Don’t worry — my fingers are still pink — not blue.

I called the school district and they are sending applications for subbing. One district (Pittsburgh) isn’t accepting subbing applications until next week.

Love,
Dona

A Quiet but Not Uneventful Vacation

We were supposed to go to New Mexico the first week of May. Dean had a talk at the University of New Mexico and we were going to make a week of it — exploring Albuquerque, then heading to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge before visiting my childhood friend, Stephanie in Silver City (where Dan Bern also lives).

Well, New Mexico didn’t happen because they decided to make Dean’s talk virtual and he had reasons to stay in the DC area for that week. He still wanted to get away and we settled on going to Cape May, New Jersey instead. I booked a house at Cape May Point — away from the hustle and bustle of the actual town of Cape May and walking distance to the bird observatory.

We arrived at the cabin we rented Saturday evening, followed soon after by Andrew and Alex. We dined at a vegan/local seafood restaurant that night and I’d planned on having someone (not me) cook breakfast (I had the ingredients all ready to go). When I realized that the directions were missing (turns out they were not missing) I thought I’d cook breakfast anyway. Dean took off to check out the beach and I started prepping — the first thing was to zest the lemon. Unfortunately there was no zester in the house so I peeled the lemon and was in the process of mincing the peel (with a very sharp knife I’d brought from home) when I sliced through the first section of my pinky on my left hand. I swore loudly and Andrew, who’d just gotten up, rushed to me and asked, “Cut or burn?” I said, “Cut — and it’s bad” while I grabbed for a paper towel to catch the blood. Alex must have heard the commotion and came out to see what was going on. She calmly wrapped my finger in gauze that Andrew found in the bathroom and agreed with me that I’d need stitches. We had to wait until 8:30 to go to the local urgent care facility.

By the time we left for the urgent care facility, Dean had gotten back from his walk, but Andrew had already written a note.

At the urgent care place a nurse practitioner who resembled Tony Soprano more than Nurse Jackie sewed me up. I don’t think he did that good of a job, but what do I know?

We had a much better breakfast of delicious bagels than we would have if we’d cooked the pancakes I’d planed. After breakfast we did some shopping, then bid Andrew and Alex farewell back at the cabin.

Dean was really tired and took a nap before making dinner. He was also stuffed up and complained of a sore throat. Later that evening Alex called to say that she’d been exposed to Covid at school but tested negative that night.

The next day Andrew informed us that Alex tested positive for Covid. Dean slept longer than he’d slept in years so used one of the antigen tests I brought from home — it was negative. I thought I would wait until Thursday morning to test again.

On Tuesday Clare called to tell us she might not be able to move into the new rental she and Pete were scheduled to move to on May 28 because it was still a shambles. (Luckily this was all resolved on Saturday when the landlord actually saw the place). It was worrying that she might be temporally houseless.

So with the possibility of developing Covid and Clare’s news, we were understandably a little anxious. I was grumpy, fulling expecting that I would either get whatever Dean had or Covid or both! We both tested negative for Covid on Thursday morning. I still need to test again to be sure, but I have no symptoms — nor any symptoms of Dean’s nasty cold.

Maybe it was good that the weather was lousy — it made sticking around in the cabin less painful.

That said, we did to a few things…