• 17Nov

    Sunday morning brought us some terrible news. Jessica (our neighbor in Bryan) was in ICU and things were not looking good. We jumped in the car, and confirmed the worst when we saw her.

    Several days ago, she was on her roof, painting the exterior of her home with Ben, her coworker/friend/handyman. Clearly she felt fine. Friday, she thought she had a stomach virus and missed that weekend of work. Tuesday, Ben showed up for the next batch of painting and took her to the ER. Emergency surgery found a perforated bowel and Stage Four colon cancer. She then became septic, and a second surgery was required….but she never woke up from that one or came off the vent. When we visited her room, I just held her hand and stroked her hair.

    She did hang on until Casey, the love of her life, could arrive from Boston. His need-it-now flight was delayed when something on the plane broke. He got in Monday morning just before 4am; she passed just a couple of hours later.

    She was Emil’s “movie wife”. I was her “wife-for-a-week”/#AGoodWife two times this summer while she was trying to get organized again after losing her dad this past Mother’s Day. I also spent many of our Thursday night trips to Bryan with her and Marble (the cat we rehomed with her). In spite of our move to Austin, we stayed close and saw each other regularly.

    She was 47 years old. Forty-freakin’-seven.

    Jessica is survived by a big supportive family in Cut Off, Louisiana. Her friends are a vast collection of weirdos (guilty!) and odd ducks. She’s the one who kept in touch with everyone, even her ex-husband’s sister and their kids. Since her dad passed only a few months ago, she leaves behind an un-probated will, two homes/estates, 1.5 cars, and Marble. (He’s going to Boston with Casey…which is truly perfect.) Jessica was single, an only child, and has no children. She was preceded in death by both her parents.


    Jessica, I’ll miss you more than words can say. I already do. Rest in peace…free from pain and machines and heavy drugs. I hope you had a sense in those last few hours and days of how loved you are.

  • 13Sep

    Today, we went to a family birthday party. It was great to see “everyone”. We used to see everyone pretty often. In fact, there were kinda regular Sunday dinners at Emil’s mom’s house when he and I first started dating. Literally every family member came to those. They were great. Then, we had about half the family at Thanksgiving but almost everyone at Christmas. And no one missed Easter.

    Then, the grandkids had their own kids. Holidays went from rare to never for some family members. Those random Sunday dinners went the way of the dodo bird. Emil & I eventually bailed, too. We were some of the last holdouts for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the first to abandon Easter after being left alone a couple of times.

    With Mom in memory care, the family doesn’t do Thanksgiving or Christmas anymore. One sister suggested we do a holiday gathering of some sort, but without all the presents and food. I quickly suggested Twelfth Night. It’s the 12th day of Christmas and we can always plan for the weekend after New Years. I think it’s perfect. Then the conversation went back to the “holidays”. [I didn’t ::sigh:: but come on. There are 12 days of Christmas; they start on Christmas Day.] “Between Thanksgiving and Christmas” was the consensus in that small group. I explained that that cuts us out. “no no no, between them”. “yeah, we’re busy.” “every weekend?” “yep, every year.”

    So, that got me to thinking. What weekends do we have and here’s the list of our #childfree lives and the busy that is us.

    • Sept 5 – Dec 5: nearly every Saturday, some Thursdays, even a Friday one time. College football for our two teams. For me, that also includes doing my part with my little alumni club.
    • August – February: nearly every Sunday: NFL. I couldn’t care less, but Emil is glued to the TV for that whole time. He plans it in advance and won’t miss it for hardly anything. Today’s party was a) an exception, b) also had football, and c) didn’t overlap his favorite team/game, the Cowboys.
    • Sept 19th: Texas Craft Brewers Festival. Expensive tickets were purchased well in advance. And, Emil is the designated driver for me and two friends, so they are counting on us, too.
    • Sept 26-27th: Pecan Street Festival. We went last year and loved it. While it’s a 2x per year event, the spring date never works for us.
    • October: big football like Miami at FSU. It’s also the nicest month of the year. We’re not yet fully booked, but always end up with plans every weekend.
    • October 24/31: Halloween parties; It’s my favorite holiday of the year. I’m not missing that for anything/one.
    • November 26: Thanksgiving
    • November 27: Birthday Bacchanal begins. Emil and several of our friends have birthdays in the last week of November and first week of December. It’s usually a week-to-10-days long celebration with each birthday honoree picking the activity for their day. Emil requests that week off in like July or something.
    • Dec 5th: This year, it’s a family wedding.
    • Dec 12th (annually on the Saturday): a bar-crawl benefit for ACC schools. A couple of hundred alumni drink for a cause.
    • Somewhere in there, we need to make the big road trip to see my family (or what’s left of it).

    So, um, yeah, we’re booked ~every weekend for the entire fall, especially during the “holidays”. The exceptions are a Saturday in September (ooops, that passed) and maybe one or two Saturdays in November.

    I didn’t tell them that I don’t do holiday parties anymore, but it won’t likely matter.

  • 25Apr

    I’m just gonna leave these here. Both of these came across my Twitter feed this morning.

    7 reasons why being childfree isn’t selfish

    Would you help save the Earth by being childfree?


  • 07Apr

    The last of the rocks have been hauled and placed into the beds. It looks so much better back there, now.

    Next steps include planting some seeds, arranging some of the groups of larger stones, and a gutter for the patio cover (and eventually, a rain barrel).

  • 04Apr

    We needed to get away. After our best-laid plans to go to Paris for the “paperwork trip” failed, we made plans for another MicroVacay. (If a vacation is a few days, and a mini vacation is a weekend, then we consider a day trip without an overnight stay to be a micro vacation.) We went to Marble Falls where we found even more stuff to do than on our previous visits.

    our view

    bluebonnets were thick along the roadsides…

    …and out in the fields, too.

    Marble Falls has a dalmation-painted fire hydrant.

    99 bottles of beer on the wall.

    This was my dream car in ~1993. I even wanted this color.

    This view is atop a hill in Marble Falls next to a restaurant and event center.


    “Stonehenge II” down below.

    Moar! Blue! Bonnets!

    Desserts: sundae for E, key lime pie for L

    And, we did all of this in our new car (our 4th Mazda, zoom zoom!)! We went in for an oil change and they worked a miracle for us for a new one. We upgraded features for just a tiny bit more than we were already paying. Plus, we got a color this time (blue). The gray one just never worked right after its accident.

    I’m calling her Bonnie (and did pictures early) in hopes of warding off any bad luck we had with Stormy (who never really got a name and who never got photographed until that chick ran into us at the red light and did $8500 in damages).

    The drives were pretty. The patio enjoying was fabulous. The little shops/boutiques were wonderful. The walks/hikes were great. And we plan to go back in June for their adult soap-box derby.

  • 02Apr

    Last Sunday,, we took advantage of the gorgeous day to drive through part of the hill country. 



    The views from atop a hill (near the build site of a $550+K home) were spectacular. Even the low lake looked pretty. The bright green young leaves gave the hills an interesting color pattern.

  • 01Apr

    For two years, we went with college kids to the Gila National Forest to do trail construction. We worked on the Continental Divide Trail which goes from Mexico to Canada. It was a great way to spend a few days of work advising students. We hauled a lot of flat rocks to build the trail. One year, the students gave us a flat rock they had all signed. And, the year we got married, they gave us a rock that says “Okay” on it. (Because in the cliff dwellings, places you aren’t supposed to go are marked with a rock that simply says “Don’t” and at a high altitude, we all found that hilarious.)

    These last ~2 weeks have felt like those trips. We saw an ad on Craigslist: a guy in our neighborhood was giving away rocks. The only catch is you had to come get them. These aren’t the flat rocks like we used for the trails, but are almost like river rocks. His large lot has them in corners of the front yard, across the front edge (super nice when guests visit and have rocks instead of grass when getting out of the car). They also run all the way down the left side, all the way across the back, and half way up the right side. In most places the rock beds are 12-15′ wide, but in some places they are closer to 20′. He’s been babysitting people right and left who will come take the rocks. He’s been kind enough to let us come multiple times since we don’t have a truck. Well, this week might be our last trip. The beds I planned and the “gap” past our patio are looking great.

    2015-04-01 09.25.54

    Tubs of rocks. We can fit four in the trunk. We hauled 7 of them on Tuesday.

    2015-04-01 12.49.20

    It’s a slow process. It takes me all 4-5 hours to unload all the rocks.

    2015-04-01 14.56.49

    The big side is almost done!

    2015-04-01 14.56.58

    From this angle, it looks almost finished.

    2015-04-01 14.57.18

    But up close, you can see there is much left to do. I think it will take one more trip.

    2015-04-01 14.57.49

    The little side is all done. The patch of discolored ones against the fence on the right are all “flat” rocks that will fit under the gate when it swings open.

    We’ve had tons of compliments from curious neighbors. I’ve gotten free rocks (the big stacked ones), free hyacinth seeds (which will climb the chimney), free tools (two sanders, a caulk gun, a vise, and even a croquet set), and met so many of our neighbors. We’re going to put a wisteria in the pot, since it’s “against the rules” to plant it in the ground.

    There will be more pics when it’s finished!

  • 01Apr

    Emil’s coworker ended up having to go out of state for family stuff. So, Emil has to work at least part of the day on Thursday.

    The bank (where we’d get the notary and another witness, and where there is a safe deposit box for the Will) is closed on Good Friday. So, we’ll have to make the Paris trip another time. I did spend some time yesterday tweaking the Will (formatting, really). It’s a neat two-pager, now with plenty of room for the blanks that can/might get filled in.

    New holiday weekend plan: Emil works part of Thursday, Friday we find an adventure, Saturday we will go downtown, Sunday we will hide from the craziness of Easter.

    The best laid plans….



  • 31Mar

    Happy 14th Anniversary

    to us!

    I say it all the time and still mean it…every day really is better than the last.

    We celebrated a little on Saturday with a trip to Shoal Creek Saloon for crawfish (for me) and pork chops (for E). Tonight, we’re going to get more rocks and then for tacos and beer. yum!

  • 31Mar