Familie Circus

“Our Covid Quarantine Year” photo by Chamonix Browne, The Happy Film Company. Tolle wearing L.K. Bennett

Lately my family has been amused by the hilarity of names for goups of different types of animals. A herd of elk is familiar, but a tower of giraffes?! Really? Can it be? A smack of jellyfish! A conspiracy of lemurs. A crash of rhinoceroses. A scurry of squirrels. A wisdom of wombats. A zeal of zebras?! We laugh together with mouths agape in disbelief.

Seriously, is this stuff for real? What do you call a group of cats? A clowder. A clutter. A pounce. A dout. A nuisance. A glorying. A glare. Apparently any of the above are ligit. It’s so zany it resonates with our year. What do you call a group during Covid quarentine? A pod. A bubble. A household. A family circus.

As the vaccinated population (people poked) grows and expands around us like kernals of corn in a popcorn popper, the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be finally well and truly receeding. Days emerge where I find myself momentarily forgetting about Covid altogether before something prompts me to remember (walking from the early morning tennis court into the park bathroom–oh, right, mask up), and it’s like waking from a nice dream and crashing back into the reality of a crushing break-up. What a year it has been!

We were incredilbly blessed by the friends that emerged into our sphere. Our associations shifted somewhat to settle in to routines with those families and friends who were similarly aligned as we were. For these folks we are eternally grateful, especially Clarence, Tom and Mandy, NanaBaba, and the Lange Family.

As much as we tried to keep an even keel, there’s no denying Covid’s collective impact also reached our household as well. Even as we worked hard to maintain a steady sense of normalcy throughout the uncertainty and rapidly evolving guidelines, there were losses and challenges. It helped to have Michael near the front-lines, but not in the trenches, getting the most up-to-date information from infections diseases rounds.

The family circus that will be remembered as our year of COVID quarentine has been entertaining overall. It was Lady Kitty’s first year of life, and Lake grew from a toddler to a little boy. We were certainly never bored! Not with Lady Kitty astounding us every day (Michael said, “She’s fully engaged but can only grunt to get her point across. it’s like being in a different country), and Lake around slinging out memorable phrases like a firefighter with a drenching hose.

I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you a collection of recent quotes from our contemporary family circus. So, here you go… enjoy!

Lake loves cats. He is an assiduous student of cats and their various qualities and dispositions. He recently described our tortoiseshell neighbor cat, as his “fravrorite cat.” He described her coloring as “black with a shimmer of white. Like Missy but with less hair.” About Mr. Cat, Lake said, “Mr. Cat looks like a movie star, doesn’t he? He just needs some sunglasses.” He came up with that a few days after I had recounted an anecdote from the dentist office. Seeing Michael reclined in the dental chair, I said to him, “You look like a movie star, Michael! Must be the sunglasses.” “No,” Michael dead-panned, “I look like that all the time.” Now, Lake really wants to be a circus actor. “No, just a plain actor. A dramatic actor,” he clarified.

My angels.

Lady Kitty said, “wawawawawa”

Lake interpreted for us. According to Lake, Lady Kitty is saying, “My mommy’s the best! She’s the cook of my life!”

Those two have a really sweet relationship. Lake adores Lady Kitty and vice versa. He continues along this charming vein:

“Lakus Bakus has something to saykus…”

“Lady Kitty, it wouldn’t be the same without you.”

“We’re pals, right, Lady Kitty? We’re pals!”

“Lady Kitty, I’m voting for you, pal!”

“All I need is a Newfoundland. Lady Kitty hasn’t even had the experience of having a Newfoundland around. She hasn’t even had the experience.”

Instead, what she’s grown up with is a clutter of cats! In fact, Lake continued:

“Lady Kitty is going on a safari to look for cats!”

Lake gave Madeline a handful of foreign coins. “You’re so wealthy now. You have a collection of coins!” Then with the thinly veiled generosity of a four year old. He proclaimed “you can buy me Octonauts!”

The Vaccine Spring is lifting the mood of Covid Quarantine, and we’re looking forward to a cultural shift in precautions allowing us to travel to Port Townsend and Leavenworth and other favorite destinations to reunite with friends we haven’t seen in over a year.

“I can’t wait to get busy chopping wood with Baba at Newman Lake. We go out in his huge truck to get wood. And he has me in the front all the way to wherever the wood is, and back. Because it’s not very far.”

“Newman Lake is very deep in the woods. But Quinault is even deeper in the woods. There’s not even a single power cord. Tolle couldn’t even have a single movie to watch when she was there… nothing!” Lake is incredulous and perhaps a tiny bit proud.

It’s true Mama Tolle grew up without electricity and we learned keepin’ busy from a young age. No problems with boredom there!

One of Lake’s beloved family jokes is to ask: “What did you eat for dinner two days ago, Lady Kitty?!” when Lady Kitty has the hiccups. Madeline taught us a German technique for resolving hiccups. Ask the person “What did you eat for dinner two days ago?” The hiccups are stilled into submission by the concentration of remembering. We have all been pleasantly surprised how well it works. Try it!

There’s also plenty of minor disagreements along the way, feeling out our boundaries and continually learning how to get along. but that’s how we get to know each other’s needs and vulnerabilities so we can better be supported, and support each other, right?

Mama: It’s time to pick out your pajamas Lake.

Lake: That’s not something I’m going to offer to do.


Lake responded with, “Now it’s getting complicated.”

In closing, I will include as a tribute some wise words from recently departed Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. Many years ago, prior to meeting the Beatles in London at an awards ceremony in the Spring of 1964, Philip was asked if he thought the band was helpful or harmful to Britain. “Entirely helpful,” he answered. “I would much rather people make any noise they like, singing and dancing. What I object to is people fighting and stealing. It seems to me that these blokes are helping people to enjoy themselves.”

Thank you, Prince Philip, for sagely illuminating the fundamental ground rules of community fellowship in bespoke salty wry humor. I appreciate the Windsors’ clear eyed pragmatism. (Happy 95th Birthday, HRH Queen Elizabeth II!) They do inspire me to keep calm and carry on. And certainly share a bit of mirth along the way.

That’s mostly what has been going on during our Covid Quarantine year: a pod of people and a glare of cats living joyously together making a bunch of noise singing and dancing, and only rarely fighting or stealing. I’m grateful for everyone who has sustained us during Covid Quarantine in our bubble. We are looking forward to hopefully being able to pop the bubble soon! Ultimately each and every day has been a perfect day. I’m glad I spent it with you.