1. It’s all about the fam – first, last and always. Ray and I have been married for almost 26 years, for which we credit communication, wine, luck and separate bathrooms. We used to teach Pre-Cana marriage preparation and we pretty much told all the couples the same thing. Hope we didn’t steer anyone wrong. Olivia (17) is looking at colleges to study sports media (please come to Siena!) when she’s not riding horses or at the archery range; Christopher (14) will either be a golf pro or a YouTube star (or both!) 

2. When I was in my 20s, I went part-way through the interview process for the Central Intelligence Agency. I took myself out of the running for two reasons: they kept stressing that in all likelihood I would not be able to speak to my friends or family about my work with the CIA, and they sprung on me that I passed their background check, which I didn’t know they were doing. Guess they didn’t dig too hard: I did my 6th grade social studies term paper on the Soviet Union, and for my research I received a lot of info in the mail from the Soviet embassy that year. 

3. The top item on my bucket list is to visit Russia (must have been that 6th grade term paper), or the repeated viewings of my favorite film, “Dr. Zhivago” (1965 – UK). Other favorite movies: “A Passage to India” (1984 UK/US), “The Harmonists” (1997 – Germany), and “Bad Moms” (2015 – US). I totally think “Bad Moms” belongs in the cinematic pantheon, and you are welcome to debate me on this.

4. I will cop to a fascination with the (inbred, anachronistic) British royal family. I attended the auction of Princess Diana’s gowns at Christie’s in New York, two months before she died. Just for the thrill of it, and with no such funds to back it up, I bid into the $25,000 range for two of her dresses (they ultimately went for more than $80K each). Neither of them would have fit me even if I had dieted rigorously for a year. At least I wouldn’t have had to hem the dresses – like Diana, I am 5’10”. Our similarities, sadly, end there. 

5. Favorite place on the globe? Block Island, Rhode Island. Our family tries to get there once a year. Gorgeous scenery, lighthouses, beaches. Very quiet – until the Witkowskis show up.

6. Nerd alert: I used to play the cello pretty decently, all the way through college. I miss it and I hope to start up again someday. 

7. I think I have a bird thing. I enjoy falconing, and wish I could do it way more often than I do. I love the whole idea of chickens and hope to have my own coop someday. I also keep feeders in our yard. Yeah, I have a bird thing. 

8. I’m a voracious reader and I love to hear people’s recommendations. Please email me at lwitkowski@siena.edu if you want to share your favorite titles with me. My most recent favorites are “American War,” by Omar El Akkad and “Washington Black” by Esi Edugyan. A great place to get reading ideas: Barack Obama’s annual favorite books list. 

9. Fun family history fact! My paternal grandfather was a draft dodger – during World War I (yes, I, not II). He was milking cows in Poland when he and his teenaged buddies got word that the Austro-Hungarian Emperor’s soldiers were coming around to conscript men to fight for the Central Powers (not the good guys). They had been talking for a while about emigrating to America, so they decided right then to pool their meager savings and light out before the draft “committee” got to their village. 

10. Even though I work with words for a living I have some sort of brain glitch where I can’t understand a certain kind of word play. The jewelry store tagline “Every Kiss Begins with Kay”? I heard that for years before I “got” it. The Geico ad where the couple has a problem with clogging? I only got the dance part, not the drain part, until someone pointed it out to me. I puzzled for years over what the K and the 9 stood for in K-9. The worst one? I recently Googled the phone number to call 1-800-PetMeds.