• 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.

  • 22Jul
  • 16Jun

    We went to Tyler this weekend to be with Ken & Denis Hawk to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Emil has known Denise since they were kids. He was one of ~5 people at their Catholic ceremony 25 years ago.

    We had a blast! Team Hawk threw a lovely party at a cool Mediterranean-looking terrazzo complete with a lovely vow renewal including statements from each of their 5 children, a 3-course meal, a video produced by the youngest 5 members of Team Hawk (ages ~8 through ~19), and a night filled with dancing.

    I took the camera, so as soon as I have my pictures processed (and permission from Team Hawk), I’ll post a few.

    Ken & Denise, thank you for a lovely party! Congratulations on a quarter century of wedded bliss! Thank you for your contribution of 5(+1) additional humane and kind humans to our society. Thank you for sharing your kindness with the world.

  • 16Nov

    My Twitter-friend Mia just lost her mother-in-law. It’s been a pretty trying time for her, but her Twitter friends have rallied around her for support. (Because Mia and her hubs are struggling financially, one person even paid for the obituary to run in the local paper. She really is that deserving a person.) If you are on Twitter, I encourage you to follow her.

    Today, Mia posted her MIL’s epitaph that she wrote for herself years ago. There are a lot of parts in it that really speak to me, but here are my favorite excerpts.

    I have trudged this life
    Loved by some
    Hated by others
    Liked by only a few

    I have done my best
    T’was all I could do
    I loved so much
    Disliked only a few

    …and then the last ~third is downright tear-jerking!

    Mia, thank you for sharing so much about her with all of us.

  • 12Jun
    Harry: So, what are we going to order?
    Sally: Well, I’m going to start with the grilled ridichio.
    Harry: Jess, Sally is a great orderer….even the chef didn’t know how good it could be.
    Jess: I think restaurants have become to important.
    Marie: Oh, I agree. Restaurants are to people in the 80s what theater was to people in the 60s…. I read that in a magazine. 
    Jess: I wrote that….
    Marie: I’ve never quoted anything from a magazine in my life….I don’t know that much about writing, but…
    Jess: It spoke to you and that pleases me…..No one has ever quoted me back to me before.
    When Harry Met Sally (like any of you expected anything else!)

    Tonight, I did this for someone. We were at a going away party [1] for Christine & James as they prepare for their move to Savannah, GA. Through other friends we have in common, we were introduced to Cedric, who “knew something about me that I didn’t know he knew” right as Emil was joining us. What a great conversation starter! And, since he’s (Cedric, not Emil) a hypnotist, I figured anything was fair game.

    Cedric started off with, “If I said to you…” and then quoted something faintly familiar and then something I recognized. I said, “Oh, we’re both Browncoats!” and we bonded. I told him how we didn’t see the show as it aired, but we saw the first syndication, that we owned the short-lived series, and the movie which we’d seen a bunch…and then said that we even owned a CD of music that fans made. I paused as I tried to think…..and then it came to me slowly, “trinity, trinity…..no, that’s not it…Trilogy, Trilogy, I want my Trilogy …” to which he picked up and carried the whole tune with correct lyrics and…get this: the same voice we’ve heard sing it. He wrote and sings the biggest fan-created song in the entire story line; it’s arguably one of the biggest reasons that Serenity came to be a movie. (Fans seriously revolted when Firefly was not picked up for a second season after the network had screwed it out of having any chance at being seen in an early-DVR time of television when timeslots still mattered.) Hat Tip to the Bedlam Bards…and if the song is not your thing, at least listen at 1:40. LOL!

    We chatted a bit about their experiences with various renaissance fairs, specifically the Sherwood Forrest Faire about 45 minutes outside of Austin. He joked that we had to have seen them, but I didn’t remember. 😉 I was certain we’d passed by, but I didn’t remember any particularly “dirty” songs at the faire.

    On the way to the car, I told Emil, if he’d quoted the episode, “Out of Gas”, I could have finished it right away:

    Wash: When your miracle gets here, you just pound this button once, it’ll call back both shuttles.
    [Movie trivia: When the series was cancelled, Alan Tudyk gave the prop button to Joss Whedon and repeated ~that line to him….and then we got Serenity.]

    On the way home, Emil had an Ah Ha! moment and realized we had seen them at this year’s Sherwood Forrest Faire. They were “dirty bards” at the front and center of the faire. We even heard them sining one of their Firefly-fan songs and remarked how that didn’t exactly fit with the faire, but seemed just perfect, anyway. As soon as Emil said a little about them, it all came flooding back to me, and I remembered standing close to “back” stage and dancing along to the dirty. :)

    Turns out, there are some Firefly/Serenity themed shows this weekend that he’s in and we’re going to try to go. wow! He also turned us onto the show Portlandia, which could just as easily be about Austin as it is Portland; they even have a “Keep Portland Weird” sign. wow! Thank you, Christine and Judy for making sure we met Cedric! #OnlyInAustin #WhyAustin

    I realize this shows off what giant nerds/geeks we can be, but I was pleased and proud to be the one who made his day.


    [1] It sure is easier to attend these once every ~3 years instead of 3x per year. Again, #WhyAustin!

  • 21Feb

    It’s been one party after another for us.

    • Miami played FSU in basket ball (and had a darn good showing!)
    • Our No Kidding! chapter had our annual Chocolate party on Valentine’s weekend.
    • This past weekend was a beer tour at Circle Brewery (owned by a Miami alumnus!)
    • The same day, we attended a Mardi Gras party hosted by two Creole Cajuns!
  • 19Jan

    Ack! 2012 has started off with a bang. This must be what runners and racers feel all the time….except we are sprinting through January instead of December. So, here’s a collective update.

    The Move

    Last year, our rent went up almost 10% and added some fees, too. We knew it would happen again (we heard rumors of $100-$150 increases in 1/1 units!), so we started shopping around. It had to be a Perfect Storm in a lot of ways. It’s not worth moving unless we can stay close to the same total expenses, get more space, get nicer fixtures and stuff, etc. Well, when we started looking around, there were a lot of ways we could make this happen. So, on 25-Feb, we’ll have a new place to live. We have until 22-Mar to get out of Riata, but we’re hiring movers so we can leave early in the hope that they can flip our unit quickly like they did for our neighbor. We have been quite happy at Riata. Unless they screw us over on move-out, I’ll give them a 5-star rating on Yelp. But, when we got this “shoebox” shaped apartment, it was an amazing deal we just couldn’t pass up while we still had a mortgage. We were so happy here that when the lease came around, twice, we just stayed. Now, we’re ready to face moving again to go for bigger/better.

    We looked at ~20 places and had a very strong Top 5 list. I fell “in like” with two leasing specialists, one where an acquaintance of ours lives. We found: a lovely town home, an über quiet place up the road, hardwood floors, door-to-door valet trash service, amazing views, and a couple of places with a lot of rugrats. All of the options gave us more space (so I can use Daddy’s desk again!), better amenities for our lifestyle, garage options (so we can stop paying for a storage unit primarily for Daddy’s desk and “junk”), better fixtures, and a better layout.

    Just like we did when house hunting, we made a matrix of all the “stuff”. And just like most brides do with a wedding gown, we ended up at the first place we wanted to see: Villas at Stone Oak Ranch. We have good/affordable access to a game room and a 30-seat movie theater. There is a “gift wrap” area full of paper and tape and scissors. All the standards are there too: gym, pool, business center, etc. We have a detached garage, a square balcony, “Romeo & Juliet” doors off the dining room (which I’ve re-named Rapunzel doors), garden tubs, a kitchen that is open on two ends, an excellent pantry, and data ports in all the rooms. The only things we didn’t get: gas cooking (REALLY hard to find) and a fireplace (again? dammit!). But the deal was just too good to pass up compared to the other places in consideration.

    Aside: During the process we met an amazing woman named Wendie. She gave us the low-down on why so many communities are doing away with their hot tubs. Turns out, some really scary (as in: there is no known cure) stuff can survive even in 104?-temperature chemical-treated water. The report is new and we could not find it online, but it’s scary. Do not, I repeat: DO NOT get in a public hot tub. Feet only. No “sensitive” areas allowed. eeeeeewwww!

    Don’t worry friends and family: we’re hiring movers. We are also cleaning out the storage unit and holding a big moving sale in their parking lot. What doesn’t get sold is getting donated. Goodwill is going to LOVE us! LMK if you are close and care about the few big-ticket items we’re selling.

    Oh! And we were able to surprise a friend with the referral fee paid to REALTORs. She’s a single mom and a cancer survivor, so she was elated with the news.

    (The) Grandaddy

    Grandaddy is quite frustrated and bored. His hip is so messed up from the botched “Paris-effin’-Texas” surgery that he can’t sit up. He’s been laying down since Hallowe’en. The Longview/Tyler doctors have deemed all surgical options too risky. Health care is a joke from the beginning; but in a small town that is 20 years behind the times, 1 hour from an interstate highway, and 2 hours from anything you’ve ever heard of, it’s nothing short of tragic. Mama Bee is still fighting the residuals from the beotch who called APS on her (the witch has since apologized), but no one wants to take Grandaddy on as a client. They claim he’ll have a stroke if he stays in bed too much longer, but they won’t come help her get him the physical therapy he needs to get out of the hospital bed. It’s heartbreaking….worse so to be physically and financially powerless to help. If I could wave a magic wand, I’d care-flight him to one of those fancy-schmancy places in Dallas where he’d get all the help he needs. Again, I need to win the lottery for that. I don’t know what those places cost, but even the crappy Paris nursing homes are $6K per month…and for terrible care compared with what my Grandmother can do (even at her small stature).

    The Fraud

    In the midst of The Move, we got a call that we’d have to pay rent with “certified funds” like a cashier’s check or money order. We’ve been on auto-draft, so this would be a real pain in the butt. Today, I called the “ladder” of people to find out the cause. Some jackass spoofed my Texas driver’s license number when writing a bad check at Walmart in a town I’ve never been to in Oklahoma. Telecheck reported it to credit on my DL number without checking any facts like the name. So, now, I’m in the middle of yet another fraud mess. I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened. So, to all the people who gave me shit (my sorority included) for wanting to protect my SSN, DL, DOB, mailing address, and other “credit” information, Fuck You! THIS is why. Less than $300 of stupid means we have to get a money order for rent every month? Are you kidding? Since Emil was just frauded over Xmas, this is just another reason to try to get off the financial grid. I haven’t even owned checks in years and I’m still dealing with this kind of bullshit.

    Dear Walmart: stop taking checks. They are not money. They are only theft.

    “Dear” Telecheck, this a’int our first rodeo for something completely out of my control. I already don’t shop at any store that posts they use you. You have needed better processes since ~1993 when I bought <$10 worth of socks from one of your client stores. Your sign in the window means I don’t shop there. fuckers. Oh, and if you think I’m alone in my opinion, search “telecheck” on Twitter. You need to learn/use social media, too, BTW.

    The Fun

    Austin is about to ride the big wave of fun that is Spring. Right after we move in, we’ll have RISE (free workshops for entrepreneurs) and the four South by Southwest conferences. I’ve been invited to return tot he photo crew for SXSW. And, I’ve been selected to wrangle for another all-time favorite photographer at Texas School in May. It’s a fun ride, but it’s a sprint, so jump on board fast if you want to hang with us!

    Oh, and for those of you close by, look for a party in April or May. The party room at the new place is stellar (pool, poker, shuffleboard, music, swimming, etc.)



  • 03Jan

    2012: Prioritize Joy, Now!

    Touched by my friend Nanette (whom I’ve met IRL a couple of times, but feel I’ve known in my soul for a lifetime or two), I give you my newly-stolen 2012 mantra:

    “Prioritize joy, now!”

    Now, go read her words of inspiration and the post that instigated her’s.

    And Nanette, Friend, though we’ve known each other briefly in this short life, please know that I love you. (#7 was a close second for my 2012 mantra thievery.)

    Your Turn

    Do you have theme/mantra/slogan for 2012? If so, please share! And, if you have resources for the, please cite/share. We all love to share the love.

    Permalink Filed under: friends, Lori Tags: , No Comments
  • 02Jan

    We joined two childfree friends for a quiet New Years Eve celebration with the games of Talisman and You Don’t Know Jack for Roku. Hours of gaming fun! Even though I was last-place-by-far, I was quite surprised to learn it was 11:30 and we should freshen our drinks and find the new stand in for Dick Clark. Time flies when you’re having fun.

    Jeff and Judy are fabulous and comfortable hosts, so we had plenty of options for snackage and drinkage. They got a Hickory Farms gift for xmas filled with summer sausage, cheese, mustard, fancy crackers, etc.

    They also shopped a little. Wallace and Gromit fans: we got to try Wensleydale Cheese! (Come On! Say it in your best Queen’s English Accent, “Weeeeeennn-sley-dale!!!”) I was tempted to have more that just a taste. nom nom nom. I didn’t expect to like this exact one because it was laced with cranberries (texture issues) but it was divine and smooth! Emil liked it too, which says a lot about the cranberries adding to the flavor in a good way!

    We had some great beer and wine options, but since I was officially skipping a dose of Codeine for a respiratory infection, I kept a slow pace. They did send us home with a lovely bottle of Innovac!ón wine. It’s a Tempranillo Malbec from the Mendoza region in Argentina. Bliss. In. A. Glass. I hear it’s at Specs and even Costco!

    Judy was the only one who would eat Hoppin’ John with meat, so she made one like none I’d ever seen: with collard greens and ham. Interesting. It smelled good and inspired me to add greens to my next vegan version of the same.

    Emil grabbed his usually favorite party snack tray from HEB and about 30 bottles of Dr. Pepper.

    I made two new things that were just lovely, in my vegan opinion. (And, since both casseroles I made for xmas were so bland I dumped all of them down the disposal, this was a nice change of pace.)

    Vegan Chili-con-queso

    • 1 can vegan chili (Some are just beans and tomatoes with seasonings. Others have textured soy protein for a “ground meat” feel to them.)
    • 1 8oz tub of vegan cream cheese
    1. Bring the cream cheese close to room temperature.
    2. Heat the chili for 2-3 minutes in a microwave.
    3. Blend the two together.
    4. Microwave again as necessary to blend and/or just before serving.
    5. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

    This is the closest thing to a real queso I’ve had and it was good. Judy liked it, too! The beauty is that any of you can pick up a can of Wolf Brand chili and cream cheese and do the same non-vegan version. The recipe didn’t call for heating it, and it is good when it’s no longer warm, but it was so much better heated up! One advantage of the vegan version is that there is nothing in it that will spoil if it sits out all night for a long party. So, if you are taking this to share, you might consider keeping it vegan for convenience.

    Cream Cheese Sandwich Spread

    • 1 8oz tub of vegan cream cheese, room temperature
    • fresh garlic, minced; to taste. (I used about 2 Tablespoons and it was quite garlicky.)
    • 1-2 bell peppers (the small red one I was was not quite enough. I’ll use two colors next time.), diced
    • celery, diced (based more on taste/texture than anything. I used about half a small bundle. I’ll add more next time.)
    1. Bring the cream cheese close to room temperature.
    2. Mince the garlic and dice the veggies.
    3. Blend all together.
    4. Serve with crackers, baguette pieces, Melba toast, etc. Or, use as a spread on your favorite veggie sandwich.

    I’ve been in a hummus and guacamole rut, so this got me right out of it. I can’t wait to try it again with other veggies (carrots? tiny broccoli?) and on a sandwich with fresh veggies to compliment. Again, if you aren’t vegan, use your favorite cream cheese and some crisp veggies for fresh noshing. This will be great in the summer (and since it was 78 degrees on New Year’s Eve in Austin, it was a welcome refreshment.)

    Whatever way you found to celebrate, we hope it was grand.






  • 07Nov

    Thanks to @idodoodle, we have now seen a Blue Lime (Internet Cafe) in the Philippines. Yay for the “franchise”! Now, if we could only get them to pay their fees…. hmmmm? 😉

    “Czech” it out!

    Blue Lime in Phillippines