- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

Wet, miserable weather highlighted by a chilly wind didn't deter 150-plus pals of Walter and Didi Cutler from celebrating the publication of Mrs. Cutler's handsome new photography book, "Mysteries of the Desert," at the home of former CIA and FBI Director William H. Webster and his wife, Lynda, on Tuesday.
Le tout Washington made it there or at least everyone who wasn't at the preview party for the new PBS film biography of Common Cause founder John W. Gardner at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. (Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and husband John were spotted at both.)
Mrs. Webster's plan to direct traffic flow from inside the house onto an adjacent terrace was dashed by the driving rain, which meant things got a bit crowded by the critical hour of 7 p.m. when Sen. Patrick Leahy, Bitsey Folger, Pam and Mike Peabody, James and Sylvia Symington, Lucky Roosevelt, Aileen Train, Arthur Houghton, Helene Philon, Arnaud and Alexandra de Borchgrave, Philip and Nina Pillsbury, Debbie Dingell, Penne Korth, Najeeb and Libby Halaby, Count and Countess Wilhelm Wachtmeister and the ambassadors of Belgium, Australia, Brazil and Portugal were there.
The turnout was good for sales of Mrs. Cutler's photographic portrayal of Saudi Arabian deserts and oases, published by Rizzoli early last month. (Olsson's Books representatives said it set a record for a private signing.)
Books about the Middle East, of course, are hot tickets these days.
"The timing was amazing," the author said, still sounding a bit astonished that her lavishly illustrated tome came out at the very moment the current crisis exploded.
"I just wanted to show the other side of a very special part of the world that most Americans, and most Westerners, know very little about," Mrs. Cutler explained after noting that her desert forays began when her husband was ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1984 to 1989.
The guest of honor was especially gratified that so many friends had offered to give parties in her honor. (Count and Countess Peder Bonde, Lloyd and Ann Hand and Jane and Robert Geniesse co-hosted the fete at the Websters' home; Italian Ambassador Ferdinando Salleo and wife Anna-Maria had a major crowd at their residence on Oct. 9.)
The partying is not over yet, either.
As Donna McLarty was ordering a dozen copies for Christmas gifts, she mentioned that she would be throwing her own little bash for Mrs. Cutler in Little Rock, Ark., in January. Bill Nitze said he would be doing the same in Colorado when an exhibit of pictures from the book goes on display in August at the Aspen Institute Art Gallery.

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