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The merry, harried month of May

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Day lilies in the front yard

May was an insane month around here – insane in a good way, but no time for blogging. John and Liz took their trek to the base camp at Mt. Everest, leaving very early May 4 and returning very late May 25. Brent and I took care of the three kiddos – and, in the big news I hinted at before – got their family moved in right next door! The timing wasn’t great, but they never dreamed they’d sell their house the first showing in the first hour of the first day it was on the market. The trip had been scheduled since December, so what do you do?

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Looking from our second-floor exercise room at Liz’s and Brent’s new (but old) forever home.

We hated like hell to lose Matthew and Alyssa and Little Rose (as Luke calls her) as neighbors, but what a great turn of events! The dogs are in heaven with three of their five children next door (though they’re still working things out with Fancy, who lives with the kids).

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Miss Don’t Come Near My Kids

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Miss Walk on Me, Pull My Tail, Just Pay Attention to Me

Taking care of up to five kids at a time at 60 is very different from being a young mom, but we survived. The days I had all five kids in Liz’s van, we called it “The LollyMobile.”

An important date in May was the 12th, when Tessie turned 11. She was very pleased with her new birthday bunny, though it lost its squeak quickly from all the playing.

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Not bad for 11. And she still loves opening presents.

We had an exciting two days with baby cardinals – several fledglings were hopping around our back yard, which I noticed after seeing the parents dive-bombing the kids and dogs. I put one in a safer spot (but he/she ran under our deck to join a sibling), then herded all the kids and dogs indoors, and we went upstairs and watched the parents rescue them. Pretty cool.

The next day wasn’t so successful. A very tiny cardinal had fallen on his back in our bamboo – I saw him from the laundry room window. The parents couldn’t help him, and he’s now buried in our hydrangeas out back – Liz’s children saw him die in the little temporary nest (bowl and washcloth) we’d made him. “Make him alive again, Lolly,” Silas implored, but though he called me SuperLolly for days, that was one I couldn’t fix. Oddly, about a foot from the unfortunate little cardinal was an intact robin’s egg, so we had an impromptu lesson on how eggs and baby birds work – and a nice distraction from the funeral.

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We’ve still got the little egg. As Jude said, “Two baby birds didn’t make it today.”

Sylvia had her preK graduation recital Tuesday night and Annabelle’s was Thursday. In between, Ben took me to Dave Matthews. We had great seats.Dave.jpeg

On the 24th, my sister, three friends and I saw Purple Rain at Riverdale. The music is timeless; the movie, oh, my. People laughed out loud at the ’80s hairdos and clothes (and the acting) and gasped at the sexism but applauded the musical performances. It was a fun night in a blur of a month.

The next night, after rain delays, the trekkers made it home. John showered me with riches from Nepal, but I’ll just show you what he brought for the children. We’re not sure where in the house Mr. Tiger, as Silas has named him, will live, as he doesn’t match our decor, but he’s very popular.

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Tiger, tiger, burning bright ..

Golden years

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The upstairs kitchen still has a way to go, but you can see progress.We’ve had a flurry of activity again lately – nothing like out-of-town houseguests to get you cooking with gas (though the stove is not hooked up yet).

Wow, long time between posts. We’ve had lots going on, including John’s Medicare birthday last week, and I’ve been doing lots and lots of writing elsewhere. I’ve also been spending lots of time with little Luke. He adores our quartzite kitchen floor and wanted to know, quite seriously, “How did you get these bricks so straight?”

Maybe I’m just a proud Lolly, but that seems a pretty astute question for a 3-year-old.

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This is a long shot of the upstairs living room, looking west from the kitchen. That’s the new couch that’s been sitting under plastic since delivery.

We’re getting close to finishing on this level. Of course we still have the upstairs loft bedroom and bath to go, but we plan to have Thanksgiving here this year. On this floor, that is.

But I’ll have to wrest the holiday from Mother. I may be 60, but I’m a southern girl, and in the south, Mama has holidays until she gives them up. She’ll be so thrilled with the kitchen being done that she’ll happily concede this year, though.

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Here you can see more of John’s handiwork – he’s down to just that last window frame! In 100+ year-0ld houses, nothing is plumb, so framing windows is no easy task. And this is the spot where the oval mid-century Danish dining set will sit.

All the leather furniture required cleaning and conditioning, even the brand new stuff – construction dust is hell.

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And here’s a close up of the new floor-sample couch we scored at Ferguson’s in Benton, along with John’s gorgeous cocktail/coffee table. We hope before long he’s taking orders for fine furniture, but he and Lee are still working on the New Deal Studios and Gallery building, so not quite yet. (Maybe is someone was really desperate for something …)

April is a month full of family birthdays – most still with us and a couple with us in spirit. Silas turned 3, John turned 65 and his sister, Kitty, 68 on the same day. April 15 was my grandmother’s birthday. Yesterday our sweet Marie-Noelle caught up with Liz – six weeks or so separate their 36ness. The 24th was my grandfather’s birthday (and also the day my daddy died 34 years ago).

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John let me take his pic in his Star Wars T-shirt Annabelle and Luke picked out for him. Pretty cute for an old guy, huh? And sweet Tessie loves to have her photo taken. She’ll be 11 in May.

Very soon, if all goes as planned, we’ll have some major news that I’ll share. In other important events, John and Liz leave soon for Nepal to climb to the base camp at Mt. Everest, a hike John made 43 years ago. Brent and I will hold down the fort with the three kiddos – I’m getting shots in both shoulders next week to prepare me for more strenuous activity.

We may be old, but we like it. Life is good. John told me a couple of nights ago that he’s looking forward to our golden years.

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John with his darling niece, Lissette, after he returned from his first trip to Nepal and other parts east. My kind of guy then, my kind of guy now. 

Breathe deeply and carry on

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The begonia on the top left is the offspring of the one in the kitchen. The little fern next to her has one baby in the kitchen. The beauties on the seat are fairly new family members – both have purple on the back of their leaves,which made them must-haves, of course. (They also called my name ever-so politely and said they needed homes.) The little antique school desk is one Mother may or may not have used at her elementary school in Russellville, but that’s definitely from whence it came.

Last Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, obviously did not turn out the way we expected.

climate realityAs a new graduate of The Climate Reality Project’s leadership training, one of my early actions (I haven’t done a presentation yet) was holding a “24 Hours of Reality” live-streaming watch party. I’d been streaming since 11 a.m. and hadn’t heard any news all day.

Susan, who arrived early, had just left for home, and Cai, Julia, John and I were watching and waiting on others to arrive when a visibly shaken Al Gore interrupted the broadcast to cancel the event in light of what had happened and in solidarity with Paris (where the “24 Hours of Reality” event was based).

We quickly switched to regular television to find out what had happened – sickening news – and I got busy telling people on their way or who were planning to come the next morning not to come after all.

We had to cancel our party and Climate Reality had to cancel the event, but as disgusting, evil  and vile as the actions of the misguided murderous gang was, and as much as the rest of their gang hopes to frighten the rest of us, we can’t live in fear. We can’t let them win.

The same is true for climate change – the reality is frightening, but we must do what we can to change things, adapt as best we can to our new reality, and keep going. Doing nothing to make a difference is the scariest possibility.

But we’ll save that for another time. Today I want to focus on something soothing, at least for me: functional beauty in the form of houseplants. The function is cleaning the air indoors, and the beauty is obvious. Yes, they take a little love and grooming, and some of the ferns can be as messy as house pets, but love them and they’ll reward you. And love you back.

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The ficus just came back in from the back deck. Her sister, an elderly schefflera arbicola Trinnette,  has an allergy to aphids which requires her to live indoors all year. I think they’re happy to be reunited.

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The poor scraggly fern and the philodendrons live in the bathroom all year, but the feisty younger fern, who was split off from her bedraggled mother last year, just came in from the deck.

Houseplants have been a big part of my life since I turned 18, and that was a long, long time ago. They’re good for my soul and good for our lungs. They’re also a commitment – I always leave detailed instructions for their care when we travel – and I can’t help but grieve a bit when one goes belly up, as happens at times. But I can’t imagine living without them.

Speaking of travel, if you do, please don’t stop. Please don’t live in fear. That’s not living at all.

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Something

Abbey Road 45 years later

Abbey Road 45 years later

Something about seeing that Pattie Boyd turned 70 yesterday made me feel – not old, not nostalgic, not sad – grateful? Happy to have lived when I have?

Pattie Boyd, my childhood idol and living Francie doll.

Pattie Boyd, my childhood idol and living Francie doll.

Can’t quite put my finger on what that something is, so I’ll blog it out. She’s the girl about whom George Harrison wrote, “Something in the way she moves attracts me like no other lover …,” from Abbey Road (across which we walked on our recent trip to London). She’s the same girl about whom Eric Clapton wrote the tortured “Layla” and the adoring “Wonderful Tonight.”

She’s the girl on whose every (ghost)written word I hung as a 9-11 year old when she had a beauty and advice column in 16 magazine. Her hair and makeup tips were memorized by yours truly, amusing considering I couldn’t touch cosmetics until I turned 13.

She married a Beatle, for heaven’s sake.

Jean Shrimpton was my favorite model in those days, for sheer beauty, glamour and – just look at her.

Her highness of beauty, Jean Shrimpton

Her highness of beauty, Jean Shrimpton

But Pattie was a regular girl, accessible, with an attainable look and darling clothes. (Or so she seemed, despite marrying George, then marrying Eric and having those songs written about her.) She transcended glamour.

As frivolous as it might seem, I’m glad I was affected by her.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••

A few people have asked me to write about our trip, but that’s not something I really feel like doing at the moment, other than to mention the books I read on our trip – and one inspired by our trip that I ordered the last night we were in Paris.

I told myself I could not take Michael Chabon’s Kavalier & Clay with me – it weighs too much and I’d waited all these years to read it and another week wouldn’t hurt me. Kav&Clay

I was about halfway through and could finish it when I got back, I told myself repeatedly – and I already had a beat-up used copy of Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl packed – I’d been saving it for the trip since Julia told me I must read it immediately.

But the day came to leave and I couldn’t leave my comic-book-creating boys behind. I stayed up late nights on our trip to finish the tale Chabon wove so well. I won’t give anything away, but if you like World War II history, comic books or just excellent writing in any form, read it.

CalamityPhysicsBookCoverBut I didn’t let myself start Calamity Physics until our very long return-travel day – made do with magazines after the heartbreak of finishing K&C. I almost finished CP in that one day – what a great, weird book it is. After we got home and real-life ensued, it took me a few days to finish the little bit I had left.

Can’t tell you anything, really, except you’ll never read anything else quite like it. Pessl blew me away with her first novel. The first-person narration, by a college-age girl, is accompanied by self-annotation, a fascinating device and not distracting at all from the top-notch mystery that the book really is.

Just as I finished it, the book I ordered from our hotel room in Montmartre arrived. (Stayed up late the last night of our trip to find a good used copy of a 2013 book, which took some digging. I feed my addiction with used books when possible; my iPad is loaded with classics, travel books and books for work, but turning pages is part of the experience for me.)

thepaintedgirlsI’d read about The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan, a while back and thought I’d probably read it when it came out in paperback. But after seeing Little Dancer, Aged 14 at the Musée D’Orsay, then talking to a very nice lady from Port Arthur, Texas, at lunch at the D’Orsay (she and her husband, a retired firefighter, were at the table next to us and accents required chatting), I revised that to “I’ll read it now.”

She brought it up and said she was back at the D’Orsay to visit the statuette after reading the historical novel, based on ballet dancers near Montmartre, including Marie van Goethem, who modeled regularly for Edgar Degas and was captured in Little Dancer and many paintings.

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Degas’ “Little Dancer, Aged 14”

The book is good, not life-changingly great, but solidly good and very interesting historically. Buchanan craftily weaves two true stories into one –and it was cool reading about events on the streets we’d walked and hills we’d climbed. I’m very glad I read it.

Montmartre and Sacré Coeur from one of the clock windows at the Museé D-Orsay – the setting for much of

Montmartre and Sacré Coeur from one of the clock windows at the Musée D-Orsay – the setting for much of “The Painted Girls” and where we stayed our three nights in Paris. (Taken with an iPhone, I might add, which did better than our Canon aim-and-shoot.)

their_eyes_frontBut now I’m reading Their Eyes Were Watching God. Once I got used to the dialect, I find it hard to put down. I started it to fill a gap in my English-degree reading. Thank heavens I did!

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••

One last something to write about, in the photo department – and some things I noticed: My passport is expiring, so I had to go get a new picture made. Things I noticed: I often have the non-drunk drunk eyes Daddy had in many photos, and they show up well here. Ten years age you a lot. Passport photos have gone up quite a bit – 10 years ago, I think it was about $10. Yesterday it was $16+ with tax.

And check out the hair – mainly the bangs. Sixties’ influence much? Some things never change.

Pattie Boyd, Jean Shrimpton, I feel your bangs.

Pattie Boyd, Jean Shrimpton, I feel your bangs.

A song for you

Enjoying our anniversary outside Kensington Palace, after tea and scones. The day was windy but warm and beautiful.

Enjoying our anniversary outside Kensington Palace, after tea and scones. The day was windy but warm and beautiful.

John and I recently celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary – in London, after which we chunnelled to Paris. The trip was quick but pretty perfect. (More on that to come – photos are scattered across two iPhones and a camera.)

Ten years have gone in a blink but it’s hard to remember a time when we weren’t together. That’s the dichotomy of love, I suppose.

In addition to the trip, my anniversary present is my fabulous red Anya Sushko London handbag – and John’s is, I guess, the privilege of putting up with me. So, John dear, a bit belatedly, this is my song for you.

My handsome, handsome husband on the stoop of the building on Kilbourne Road in London that he lived in for a few months in 1971.

My handsome, handsome husband on the stoop of the building on Kilbourne Road in London in which he lived for a few months as a college student in 1971.

Thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving my family as much as you love me. (And isn’t it nice that I love your family, too?) Thank you for your patience and gentle spirit.

And thank you for wanting me to have the nicest handbag an old girl could ever have.

So this is me with my bag; Anya Sushko, who hand made it just for me (!); and my step-step-daughter Laura Fischer – Marie-Noelle's little sister with different dad. The Store at ESSE Purse Museum, where I spend much of my time, is the only place in the U.S. that sells Anya's bags. Since we were headed over and planned to meet, I picked mine up at her studio instead of having it shipped over.

So this is my bag; designer/artist Anya Sushko, who handmade it just for me (!); and my step-step-daughter Laura Fischer – Marie-Noelle’s little sister with a different dad.

The Store at ESSE Purse Museum, where I spend much of my time, is the only place in the U.S. that sells Anya Sushko’s bags. I’d been flirting with the fabulous pink purse in our store, but for long-term commitment, I always go red and placed a special order with Anya. Since we were headed to London and had planned to meet her anyway, I picked up my bag at Anya’s studio instead of having it shipped over to the store.

Anya’s a wonder and a delight. My bag is a future family heirloom.

Marie-Noelle’s little sister Laura (same mom, different dad)  attends Central St. Martins College of Art and Design in London (where Anya did her foundation year), so we got to spend time with little Laura, which was another delight of the trip. People thought we were her parents – funny how we all look alike.

In the week we were gone, Silas went from toddling to flat-out walking and talking a little bit. Time marches on.

And John and I keep marching together. Here’s to our next 10. I love you.

Smiling at the hubby in Montmartre.

Smiling at the hubby in Montmartre.

Wild night 2 (or Traveling Band, Fin)

The last day in Paris brought liberation for my little traveling band – liberation from the Texans, who went to Disneyland Paris, of all things to do (!), and from the very nice other groups, one of which had to leave early; the other chose to go to the beaches of Normandy. So much to do, so little time!

That’s one of the things that lead to Kim and I having a very wild night of our own. En masse, we’d taken a guided bus tour of the city and gone to Versailles; we spent the summer solstice at Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower, and ended that evening with a lovely boat ride down the Seine, followed by the runaway incident.

So having a day all to ourselves, with darling Kathy, our tour guide, was heaven. We took a leisurely morning stroll in the heart of the city, had leisurely cafes while people-watching and visited Notre Dame, all before lunch.

Place de la Hôtel de Ville, in the 4th arrondissement, is the city hall of Paris. We took lots of photos of the mammoth beauty.

Place de la Hôtel de Ville, in the 4th arrondissement, is the city hall of Paris. We took lots of photos of the mammoth beauty.

Kitty and I had a salads and white wine for sisters-in-law near Notre Dame while Kim and Kathy took the kiddos to shop and eat fast food.

Kathy and Kitty chat outside Le Quasimodo, where Kitty and I had an adult lunch, while Kathy and Kim took the kids elsewhere in the vicinity.

Kathy and Kitty chat outside Le Quasimodo, where Kitty and I had an adult lunch, while Kathy and Kim took the kids elsewhere in the vicinity.

Then it was off to the Louvre, where we must have set a record for speed – I could have spent days. That might have been the night we had some of the best pizza ever – Kathy made sure the vegetarian options were flying, so it was the best meal of the trip for me.

I’d be lying if I said I remember every detail (this was 2009), but this I know: Kitty and the kids were tired and Kim and I didn’t want Paris to end. We might have gotten all the way back to our hotel on the outskirts of town, the Mercure Fontenay Sous Bois, but we may have broken off from the group before getting all the way back to the boonies.

Kim? Do you remember?

What I do remember is the worried look that flitted across Kathy’s face when we assured her that of course we could find our way back from Notre Dame, where we’d decided to return to buy some art prints we didn’t get earlier (a semi-flimsy excuse for roaming Paris at dusk). After all, we were big girls (who spoke no French to speak of and understood very little), and we had our slips of paper with the hotel name and address on them in case of emergency.

Anyway, we returned to this gloriously beautiful metro station

Tuileries station – outstanding but much harder to find in the dark.

Our illusive station (whose name escapes me) – outstanding but much harder to find in the dark.

and hoofed it, hurrying, yet stopping to take photos and take in the early evening beauty along the way.

Place de la Hôtel de Ville by night is breathtaking – and served as a marker that we were on the correct route.

Place de la Hôtel de Ville by night is breathtaking – and served as a marker that we were on the correct route.

Summer days are deceptively long in Paris, so we really didn’t realize how late it was getting. But when we got near Notre Dame, all the little shops were closed. Oh, well. We were having fun.

Then, with the flip of an astronomical switch, it was dark.

Night arrives with a thud of brightly lit darkness in the center of Paris.

Night arrives with a thud of brightly lit darkness in the center of Paris.

Dark. But beautiful, if a bit confusing.

One of the lovely things we saw as we circled and circled our metro station. Couldn't say what it's called.

One of the lovely things we saw as we circled and circled our metro station. Couldn’t say what it’s called.

OK, a lot confusing. Before long, we realized we were going in circles, so we started stopping to ask for directions. Which was a bit of a joke, since Kim and I both tend to glaze over at directions in English, much less French, and both have trouble remembering right from left, especially under pressure.

We managed to keep laughing, though part of my laughing was caused by sweet, sweet Kim’s cursing every time we realized we were passing something we’d already seen. We’re both grandmothers, so I’ll spare you the word (but it was the grandaddy of swear words, used like a champ over and over and over).

Then, of course, there it was, our station. We flew down the escalators and to a ticket window where we showed our slips of paper and  a woman traded us tickets for euros. But we couldn’t understand a word she said about which train to take, so once again we had to ask for directions.

The station was still very crowded and people seemed to be hurrying more than usual, but I spotted a man I just knew spoke English.

“That guy,” I told Kim, “is Swiss. Maybe German, but he speaks English. I can tell.”

He was talking to another man when we approached them, and the Swiss man (yes, he was), who turned out to be Dominick, looked less than pleased and didn’t say anything at first when I asked him if he spoke English.

Then he took a deep breath and asked how he could help us. We showed him our handy slips of paper. “That’s my train,” he told us.”I’d be pleased to accompany you.”

We had the nicest visit on our ride – turns out Dominick worked for Otis Elevator’s international division – Otis Elevator, which has a division in Little Rock – and he told us our husbands were lucky men.

He got off a few stops before we did but made sure we knew which stop to listen for, and when we reached it, we got off. It was after midnight by  then, and, though we didn’t recognize anything, we were sure we were just at a different end of the station, so we left it and turned in the direction we thought was toward our hotel.

Nothing looked familiar and we soon realized that was because we were in a residential neighborhood. Kim’s cursing took on a new vengeance. We turned back toward the station, passing a late-night construction crew who, after looking at us incredulously, managed to convey that they didn’t consider us safe and suggested we hurry.

We made it back to the station where we finally found someone who worked there – no commuters or tourists were in sight – who could understand us. He talked to someone else and they finally decided the best thing for us to do was to go outside, sit on a bench and wait on a bus, which might come by sometime in the next couple of hours. Taking the train back would be too complicated for us, he said, plus the trains stop running around 1 a.m.

WHAT?! Now we were scared. We went and sat on the forsaken little bench for what seemed like an eternity, holding our breath every time a car slowly passed us by. Finally we decided to take our chances on a train before it was too late to catch one at all and were running to the turnstile when we heard someone politely yelling, “Ladies. Ladies!”

But we didn’t stop until the voice thundered, “LAURA!”

What the … we quickly turned around to see lovely, bald Dominick running toward us. He told us he realized our addresses were wrong – seems the hotel had printed south instead of north or east instead of west – whatever – so he knew we hadn’t gotten to our hotel and was worried about us.

When he got home, he grabbed his car, a white Volvo station wagon, and came to retrieve us, if he could manage to find us.

If we would be so kind as to allow him, he told us, he would like to drive us back to our hotel to make sure we got there safely.

We accepted, dubbing him St. Dominick.

The only photo we have of our hero is this one Kim took from the back seat.

The only photo we have of our hero is this one Kim took from the back seat.

When we pulled up in front of the hotel lobby it was nearly 2 a.m.; all the kids from the greater tour group were hanging out for the last night, and Kathy sat in a chair looking weary.

They looked shocked to see us and doubly shocked when we both hugged our saint and Kim kissed him on the cheek. We didn’t even get his last name.

When we came through the doors, Kim’s daughter, Allison, looked shocked.

“Mom! Why did you kiss that cab driver?!”

We gave an abbreviated explanation and apologized to Kathy, who’d been very worried and was waiting up on us.

The next morning, we left for home. We’ve never tracked down Dominick to thank him properly, though I did try, even calling Otis Worldwide. But somewhere out there is a Swiss angel in a white Volvo.

Thank you, thank you, St. Dominick.

Kim and I were tired but happy to be back with the group for breakfast on our last day.

Kim and I were tired but happy to be back with the group for breakfast on our last day.

Wild night 1

Kim's cool photo near the scene of the crime.

Kim’s cool photo near the scene of the crime.

After leaving the story hanging for many months, I’m finally ready – compelled – to tell the story of the wild nights my little traveling band of students, sister-in-law, Kitty, and friend Kim (mostly friend Kim and moi) had in Gay Paree on our EF Tour in 2009.

I hinted at what was to come in the post called “People Are Strange,” so if some things seem repetitive, forgive me, please. I mentioned that we accidentally lost a 12-year-old with a heart condition after her mother went in search of some goth lovebirds from their group of Texans who decided to disappear in the deliciously seedy area around Le Moulin Rouge.

That’s near Montmartre, where John and I are soon headed for our 10th anniversary, which is one reason it’s on my mind.

Kim caught me taking a photo of the Metropolitan sign. Can't wait to be back in that very spot.

Kim caught me taking a photo of the Metropolitain sign. Can’t wait to be back in that very spot.

Kids are pretty much all the same in how quickly they’ll fold if their friends are in danger – after the honeybuns missed roll call and their sponsors were mildly panicked (tour guide Kathy must have been, too, though she always seemed unflappable), it was no time before the rest of the Texas teens snitched them out.

At the gathering spot, just before head count and all hell breaking loose.

At the gathering spot, just before head count and all hell breaking loose.

They’d planned to run away in Paris. Oops. Their sponsors had other plans and said they’d comb the area until they found them. We should take our tired selves back to the suburbs, to our very nice but oddly out of the way hotel. All the mother of the young girl asked was that we take care of her daughter.

Of course, of course, I assured her and did all but hold her hand.

Let me interrupt to add that, a while back, while looking through photos from the trip, I noticed the future disappearance artists in the corner of a photo of our Little Rock group that Kim had taken. I’ve wavered on posting it, but what the hell.

EF Tour guide, British but fluent in French Kathy Pickus in bright green, gives instructions/directions of some sort to Andrew, Nick, me, Kitty and Ali – while the escape-plotters photobomb us before that was even a fad.

Our EF Tour guide, British but fluent in French Kathy Pickis (in bright green) gives instructions/directions of some sort to Andrew, Nick, me, Kitty and Ali – while the escape-plotters photobomb us at right before that was even a fad.

Anyway, we left en masse as it was getting dark and arrived at the packed-to-the-stretching-point Metro station. Kathy explained that getting on board would be tricky, with the lateness and the crowds, and that no matter what, we MUST STAY TOGETHER. When the car doors open, leap, she stressed. If you hesitate, all is lost.

We were ready. I had the little girl right beside me and had been coaching her, as she seemed mildly freaked out, about sticking with me and moving quickly. The train screeched to a stop, and the group leaped into the car as I said, “Now,” and jumped, too. I turned around to see the doors close, with the child still on the platform, eyes wide and beginning to fill with tears.

“KATHY!” we all screamed. “We lost her!”

As we all began forming retrieval plans/thinking what we’d say to her mother, Kathy told us to GO TO THE HOTEL – she’d hop off the car, run to a bridge across the track, go back the other direction, and, if the fates were with us, find the little girl still frozen to the spot.

She was. Kathy brought her back safely. Even though the Texans had been the bane of our trip, that night we joined hands and sang “We Are the World.” Well, no, but some of us were never so relieved to see a kid we didn’t know.

At a happier moment, beautiful mother and daughter duo, Kim and Ali, stand right in front of the darling girl we lost, albeit briefly. I'm so sorry, little darling.

At a happier moment, beautiful mother and daughter duo Kim and Ali stand right in front of the girl we lost, albeit briefly. I’m so sorry, little darling.

At some point in the night the sponsors returned, runaways in tow. Don’t remember details, don’t know if the police were involved.

But I do know the wild night Kim and I shared will have to wait a bit longer. Computer’s being clunky and I’m cooking dinner.