The title of this post. How cliché, right? My kitchen is swarming with fruit flies, and so I took my trash to the dumpster, running into a neighbor along the way. I remembered when I saw her that the neighborhood gossip (in a good way), Bob the Preacher Man, had told me Sheila has gotten engaged. Sheila lives one building down and has a dog named Izzy and a tiny little bob-tailed cat named Rabbit. Sheila has lived in these condos for as long as I have–10 years now. Which is by far the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere, but that’s another story.

After exchanging greetings, our conversation went like this:

“I heard a rumor about you.”

“You did?” she answered coyly.

“Let me see your hand.”

“I don’t have a ring, yet. But do you remember that conversation we had with Gretchen?”

Gretchen is married to Bob the Preacher Man. The conversation Sheila was referring to took place at a holiday party a couple of years back. Gretchen was giving us a pep talk about finding love later in life. She and Bob married when Gretchen was in her late 40s. Since I’m now 50, the conciliatory effect of the discussion has dimmed. But Sheila remembers.

“Gretchen told us, ‘It’s never too late.'”

Me, always one to shun social constructs, asked: “How old are you, Sheila?”

“I’m 62.”

I was honestly stunned. First, because I didn’t realize Sheila is 62; and second, because who gets married for the first time at 62?

“OK, so maybe it’s still not too late for me, after all. But don’t you worry? Don’t you wonder how you’ll adjust? I don’t know about you, but I’m set in my ways, sister.”

Sheila, being a good sport despite the buzz kill I had delivered, admitted she was a bit concerned.

“The favorite part of my day is crawling into bed with a good book. Alone.”

“Well, for you to take the plunge means you’ve found a good man.”

I’d at last recovered the social graces.

“He is a good man. He’s kind, and intelligent, and sweet.”

“Everything we’ve been looking for all these years,” I replied.

“And he loves animals,” she said.

Now she had me.

“Does he have pets?”

“He has two cats. We will be a blended family.”

Holy shit. Sheila was going to be living with a man, along with his two cats. Two cats to be blended with Izzy and Rabbit. And I thought it was difficult bringing Sophie the stray into the fold with her two black-cat step sisters. Add a man to the mix, and I see some serious Brady Bunch moments ahead.

I then gave Sheila some advice on blending the children, based on my recent experience with Sophie. When I told her it took just over a year to get a photo of the three black cats in the same frame, she seemed relieved.

(Aside: Yes, it happened just a few days ago. The three black cats lounged in front of the television, watching Breaking Bad with me. The photo isn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t like they were going to sit around while I got the lighting right.)

Clockwise: Sadie, sofa; Sophie, green chair; Sally, floor

Clockwise: Sadie, sofa; Sophie, green chair; Sally, floor

As we parted, Sheila reminded me again, “It’s never too late.”

Since my bachelorette status is unconfirmed, I suppose that’s good to hear.

Unconfirmed Bachelorette:

An oldie but goodie. Happy VD, Blogosphere!


Originally posted on Unconfirmed Bachelorette:

Last night I stopped in at Whole Foods, and the roses and tulips were overflowing the flower buckets. I hadn’t intended to buy myself two dozen long-stemmed peach roses, but when I saw them, they were just so lovely. What better way to take care of me, nurture me, celebrate my awesomeness, than to buy myself this Valentine’s gift? So I took them to the counter and asked the flower girl to add some baby’s breath and wrap them up. She wrapped them in orange tissue paper, and they were so gorgeous, I could feel myself beaming.

My checker said, “Those are going to make someone very happy.”

I said, “Me!”

We both laughed. It felt good. It got me thinking–I shall continue in this vein for the next few days. Today I’m going to buy myself six of the most delectable hand-made truffles I can find. And I’m going to book myself an hour-and-a-half…

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Family time has always been a mixed bag for me. (Which makes me unique amongst my readers, I’m sure.) On Thanksgiving, I’d drive down to Houston in the morning, have dinner with my family, and drive back to Austin in the afternoon. Friends and acquaintances who didn’t know my family found the brevity of my visits odd. I found them sanity-preserving. As did my shrink.

Now, I miss those days. I miss the dozen plus people in the house, mostly in the kitchen getting in each other’s way, all frenetically trying to put the finishing touches on their dishes. I miss my brother’s gravy-making. And his turkey carving. (He’d taken over those duties when my dad couldn’t do them any more because of the Alzheimer’s.) I miss arguing with my nieces about whether we would make skinny mashed potatoes, or pour in the half and half and softened butter. (I wanted the latter. It was Thanksgiving, dammit.) Due to all the alcoholism, Thanksgiving was dry at my house most years. Or rather, it was dry in the house. The drinkers would duck outside for the beer or rum and coke waiting in their vehicles, claiming they were stepping out for a smoke. Or to cool off. The house was always too warm. In the beginning, the bodies and cooking caused it. As the years passed, it got progressively warmer. My aging parents, feeling a chill that wasn’t there, would turn the thermostat higher and higher. If only the house had been cooler, I might not have punched my brother in the face that one year. (Not a true story, but the heat was conducive to arguments.)

Eventually, dinner would make it to the table, remarkably warm. Probably because the house was so hot. There were always two tables set–the big table in the dining room, and the kids’ card table in the adjoining living room. Seated at the grown-up table, my dad always at the head, were my mom, my two brothers (and before they divorced, their wives), my sister, her husband, and me. (I haven’t brought a date to Thanksgiving for thirty years.) My six nieces and nephews would sit at the kids’ table. We’d then go around the tables and say what we were thankful for. My mother generally was thankful that everyone was there and healthy (even when they weren’t). My dad was thankful for his dog. My oldest brother, when he showed up, was thankful for his girlfriend (who would later kill him, but only figuratively). My younger brother would tear up as he expressed thankfulness for his children. (He and I were especially sentimental.) My sister would tell him to hurry the hell up, and then express thankfulness for the fact that she could leave us and go to Galveston as soon as the kitchen was clean. The kids would be thankful for family, or the giant pile of mashed potatoes on the plate before them, or their new puppy yipping outside in the back yard.

I can’t remember what I was thankful for. That I’d dumped my most recent crappy boyfriend, adopted two fluffy black rescue kitties, or lost ten pounds and had room in my Thanksgiving jeans, were likely contenders.

Now, I’m thankful I had all those precious years with the seats at the table filled.

This year, with both my brothers and my father dead and no desire to spend Thanksgiving at my sister’s, I stayed home in Austin. I got up early and did the 5-mile Turkey Trot (which turned out to be 7.34 miles what with all the weaving through the people on the course and getting to and from our parking spot) with my friend, Dora, and then headed to her house for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a nice Thanksgiving, and due to the absence of perceivable alcoholism in the group, there were many bottles of bubbles and wine. No one rushed off right away after dinner. We played Tabu. The house was nice and cool. The pumpkin pie was made with fresh pumpkin. The stress-free smoked turkey from Rudy’s Barbecue was moist and delicious. My Tuscan kale gratin was a hit. There were squabbles amongst Dora’s children from time to time. But rather than causing me consternation, since they aren’t my family, I found it amusing. (I may have even instigated a bit, just for fun.) I pronounce this my new tradition: Turkey Trot followed by Thanksgiving dinner at Dora’s.

Friday morning, I drove to Houston to see my mother. She’d spent Thanksgiving at my sister’s, along with my sister’s husband, her two adult daughter’s, the boyfriend and husband of each, and my eldest niece’s four-month-old baby. A baby! Everybody loves a baby. This particular baby has turned out to be a binding agent. Like eggs. Or mushrooms (as in these gluten-free meatballs).

When I arrived in Houston, I picked my mother up at her assisted living apartment and drove her to the house that she’d lived in with my father for over 30 years. The house currently is unlived in, save for a nephew in the garage apartment. I had invited my nieces and nephews by to spend some time with me and my mom, and had offered to take everyone to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Later, the plan would morph into a family meeting as I arranged for everyone to meet a notary at the house to sign some documents the lawyer had prepared in connection with my father’s estate. My mom and I had several hours to kill before everyone arrived, and I found myself in the master bedroom with her, going through photos and momentos tucked away in her dresser drawers. (She was also looking for a ring she suspected my nephew had hocked. We never found it.) As we looked through the pictures, children’s drawings, and cards, I teared up numerous times. My mom said being in the house made her sad. The house being so devoid of people and commotion played a part in this, to be sure. As did the fact she’d taken many pieces of furniture to her assisted living apartment, leaving it rather sparse of inanimate objects as well.

Eventually, my sister, her husband, all six of my mother’s grandchildren, her great-grandchild (the mushroom baby), and the husband and boyfriend of my nieces (two different people), would trickle in. Then came the notary, and we all took turns signing her book and the three documents, generally milling about, and taking photographs with the baby. The baby, who is perfect, by the way. She looks like a little doll. A Gerber baby. She is beautiful, and oh so sweet. And she loves me, which is to be expected. Unexpectedly, however, is the transformation my sister has undergone. It’s like she saw that baby and her heart grew three sizes, much like the Grinch.

Here is my sister’s heart pre-baby:

Size of Sister's Heart Pre-Grandbaby--note it is barely discernable in the magnifying glass.

Size of Sister’s Heart Pre-Grandbaby–Note it is barely discernible in the magnifying glass.

Here is my sister’s heart post-baby:

Sister's Heart Post-Grandbaby--Note it breaks the magnifying glass due to its ginormous size.

Sister’s Heart Post-Grandbaby–Note it breaks the magnifying glass due to its

ginormous size.

And here is my sister with the baby on one knee, and me on the other.

My Sister--Note Mushroom Baby on one knee, and me, dressed as reindeer dog, on the other.

My Sister–Note Mushroom Baby on one

knee, and me, dressed as reindeer dog, on the other.

Yes, the change was this dramatic. She hugged me. She talked to me when she didn’t have to. She kept handing me the baby and taking pictures. And then every one of us (all 12.5) went to dinner at my father’s favorite Mexican restaurant. (I’m not much for believing in dead people looking down and seeing what’s going on, but if he could have seen it, he’d have been feeling like the Grinch with the swollen heart.) I’ve got photos of all 12.5 of us at a very long table, all the seats filled, plundering the chips and queso, fajitas, and margaritas spread from end to end. (Since all the alcoholics now are dead, the ban has lifted.) Everyone had a great time. Everyone was happy we could be together. Everyone was happy that we were happy.

All hail to the Mushroom Baby. For she is good.

Quick post before I lose connectivity. Stunning, warm day. Unusual in Ketchikan. I took this photo from my iPhone. I don’t know whether it’s any good. It can’t possibly capture the majesty of my surroundings.


My first year on law review I had to write a comment on an area of law. I chose assisted suicide and whether it should be legal. I researched it from all angles. The slippery slope–we’ll eventually be euthanizing people for a tooth ache. Or for being a ginger. (Would that really be so wrong?) And the flip side of the argument–people with terminal illnesses in excruciating pain or inevitable mental deterioration should be permitted the option to simply die with dignity.

Assisted Suicide by Political Cartoonist Ingrid Rice

Assisted Suicide by Political Cartoonist Ingrid Rice

After all the research, I came down on the side of Dr. Kevorkian, who would later be convicted of second-degree murder in Michigan.

Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have passed legislation making physician-assisted suicide legal. I’m in Texas, so I’m screwed. My state kills lots of people. We’re number one in executions. But we’re not allowed to be assisted by a physician when we’re terminally ill and want to die. There is no right to choose in Texas. And don’t get me started on the recent abortion legislation. Just when I thought the state could not devolve any further. Yes, in Texas we believe strongly in devolution. But evolution? Hell no.

You might be wondering what brought the topic of assisted suicide to mind. My mother has been ill. (Complications from deep vein thrombosis.) Since my last post (almost a month ago!) she spent nearly two weeks in the hospital, two weeks in an acute rehab center, and is now in a SNF (skilled nursing facility). She’s expected to be able to return home with the assistance of a caregiver (not covered by Medicare), occasional visits by an RN (covered), and home therapy (covered). Whether she’ll actually ever leave the SNF (pronounced “sniff”), is uncertain. Whether she’ll again become ambulatory also remains uncertain.

She says if she’s destined to spend the rest of her life bedridden and in pain, she’s checking out. I don’t blame her. But I don’t see how she’ll accomplish this. Which has me pondering how I’ll shuffle off this mortal coil should I decide I’m ready to do so. Currently I’m throwing every dime I can spare into my 401k and moderate risk investments. I’m shopping for long-term health insurance, which Medicare does not cover. I’m considering my options for home care and assistance in managing my finances. I’m planning a trust for the benefit of my cats. (Yes, you can do that.) I’m trying to decide whether pills or an injection is the better option and what kind of drug I’ll want to have stashed away should the time come.

If I’m lucky I’ll remain healthy and active until I keel over from an embolism at age 94. But in my family, it’s more likely to be cancer or Alzheimer’s. Or both. Maybe I should relocate to Seattle.

image I used to be an optimist. But a person can take only so much death and illness before they become a realist.

I wrote a big post about all the bloviating lawyers, the agonizing smalltalk, and the collossal waste of time I spent in meetings over the weekend. But the only thing I truly care to write about is the pro bono awards.

The first award was given to a team of lawyers who’d succeeded in beating city hall and getting a methadone clinic built in a city that didn’t want it. The second involved getting a wrongful conviction overturned for a kid who had been living under political asylum after escaping a horribly violent African country at the age of three. While the bogus conviction was on appeal, ICE was getting ready to deport him, then 22, back to Sierra Leone. The legal team got the wrongful conviction overturned just in time, and he remains in this country, intent on becoming a Marine. This despite his being sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing $150, a crime he did not commit, and as a result, spending time in prison and an immigration detention facility. Yes, you heard that right: he doesn’t want to bomb a marathon now that he’s free. He wants to be a Marine.

They brought him to the banquet and he told us his story. Seeing the beaming smile on his face made the whole weekend. It made my whole weekend, anyway.


My, what nice teeth you have!So much happened today with stray kitty Sophie. Tonight will be her third night under my roof in her sanctuary room. But we’re so tired. I’m tired. The kitties are tired. So we shall sleep and tomorrow write a full account of the day’s events. They involve the mobile vet, fresh-baked salmon, hisses from the closet, and more.

Until tomorrow.

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