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50th Birthday Celebration

Austin Part II: The Celebration

Austin has been my home for well over 20 years and has enabled me to amass many, many amazing friends.  But, living remotely and out of the country makes it challenging to stay in touch. Why?  Well because, frankly, life gets in the way.  Yet somehow, my group of friends forgives my absences, supports my failures, and celebrates my successes.

Heather Newby organized an enormous 50th birthday celebration bringing together friends from the past and present.  Matt and Diana Barker hosted it at their beautiful home, made brisket, provided a host of apps and beverages, and many others supplied drinks for the bar.  It was a spectacular party and a great opportunity to catch up with my long lost Austin friends.

My amazing Austin friends gathered together!

My amazing Austin friends gathered together!

Diana and Matt had a giant “50” balloon sign out in the front yard, just so people knew where the party was.  She did not even know that I had always wanted something like this – loved it!

Diana truly made me feel like a princess - even the day after!

Diana truly made me feel like a princess – even the day after!

Heather Newby made the most delicious carrot cake and Diana hired a piano player.

This carrot cake was beautiful and incredibly yummy!

This carrot cake was beautiful and incredibly yummy!

Lisa Wood created a beautiful photo montage from a collection of photos that our friends sent in.  I’d publish it, but it is a huge file.

Daniel is famous for his birthday poems even though he had “retired” many years ago.  Somehow, Heather convinced him to come out of retirement for one more poem.  See entire poem below and see live recording on my Facebook page posted 1/13/18 from Lisa.

Daniel overwhelmed me with his spectacular poem.

Daniel overwhelmed me with his spectacular poem.

It was truly overwhelming to see so many happy, fabulous people come together for a celebration.  I am humbled to be surrounded by such love.

Lucky girl that I am to call these people my friends.

Lucky girl that I am to call these people my friends.

Love abounds!

Love abounds!


POEM by Daniel Dolce

Lordy, Lordy look who’s…shit, you’re not 40!

Let’s try this again…

Back from the Ocean Blue

So, Happy Birthday to you

Got a pretty sweet lookin tan

Good to have you back on dry land


A year on a boat with Matt?

How they hell did you manage that?

I mean, I know you two are married…

Really, no thoughts…to leave him out there buried?

Back with friends for just a spell

The time away has done you well

You’re looking awful nifty

Even though, you’re 50

We’ve missed you very much

Though never really out of touch

We Love you with all our power

Well…now that you’ve had a shower

Raise a glass to Christine

So lovely and pristine

Keep on drinkin that whiskey

And we’ll do this again when you’re 60!

 Special Thank You:

  • Matt and Diana for hosting my birthday party
  • Heather for organizing it and for making the cake
  • Wayne, Sharon P., Michelle J. for coming into Austin
  • Lisa for making the video montage
  • Michelle M. for letting me stay at Casa Martin
  • Sharon and Shawn for helping me clean my attic
  • And all my friends for making me feel so loved

Austin…Home on the Range, Part I

Coming back to Austin is always fun, but can be a bit challenging as I don’t have a place to stay or a car.  Our home is on the rental market and completely empty.  Luckily, my good friend Michelle, allows me to stay at her house and use it as my “home base” during my visits.   She has a gorgeous home, central to almost everything, is a generous and loving host and friend.  Plus I get unlimited love and kisses from her son Jake and she and Jeremy are superb chefs!

Michelle sent me a text, immediately after my plane landed.  She had been helping me with my birthday present to myself and told me to meet her at Rock of Ages.  She miraculously scheduled an appointment with Steve, the owner who was willing to give me my 50th birthday tattoo.

Many of you know that I have a small tattoo on my right shoulder (a heart with a cross inside it) which was replicated from a piece of James Avery jewelry that one of my dear friends (Darlene) gave me years ago.  Unfortunately, the tattoo did not come out as well as I had hoped and for years I have wanted to clean it up or cover it.  About 6 years ago I found a new tattoo that I really liked but I just wasn’t ready to pull the trigger as the first one hurt like a mother trucker!

After a lot of contemplation, I decided that I wanted to cover my old tattoo with my new one.  The entire process took all of 10 minutes – but it wasn’t a pleasant 10 minutes.  Not nearly as painful as the first one, but certainly not easy.

First, he drew the new design on paper and stenciled it on my back so I could see what it would like.  You can see the blurry edges of the original tattoo and then compare it to the clean edges of my new tattoo.  Then the outlining process began…

Michelle being the studious one, documented the entire process, asking questions, and gathering data.  It was a great distraction as all I could was hold my breath.  It was especially painful when he went over the old tattoo as scar tissue had formed underneath and he had to break it up – fun!

But, the end product was perfect, better than I had imagined! Steve did an amazing job, was very gentle, and extremely professional.  I would highly recommend him and his shop!

The next day, I was able to get a MUCH needed cut and color.  Wendy at Deseo salon has been my stylist for over a decade and always makes me feel like a princess when I leave.  Right image has straggly hair, long, but wickedly damaged.  Left is nicely managed, silky smooth.

Deseo hair salon with Wendy who cut and colored my hair.

Deseo hair salon with Wendy who cut and colored my hair.

Besides visiting friends and running errands, the main reason I come to Austin is to see my doctors.  My first visit was with my plastic surgeon Dr. Piazza at The Piazza Center.  Usually I don’t have any concerns when visiting him as it is a general follow up.  However, I had a bump on my incision that had been bothering me for well over 16 months that I wanted him to check out.  Thinking it was nothing, I was not worried.

However, he informed me that the number one location for breast cancer to metastasize is the incision site.   AND, this bump was on the incision site, on the left side of my left breast (which is where my cancer was), so guess what?  He had to biopsy it.  $HIT!  A few shots, biopsy and 3 stitches later I am out the door.  Thank Heaven above, the results came back 2 days later clean!  My oncology visit with Dr. Patt at Texas Oncology, went really well.  She is so happy with my recovery that she is willing to let me visit annually vs bi-annually.  Sweet!

A wonderful scheduling phenomenon occurred during my Austin visit.  My old boss and several co-workers happened to be in Austin for a regional meeting and were able to meet me for dinner.  It was so awesome to catch up with them!

Jes, Jon, Stacy and I - TDC comrades.

Jes, Jon, Stacy and I – TDC comrades.

One of my biggest chores on this trip was to clean out the attic at our house.  We had sold, donated, or tossed everything inside the house to make room for renters.  However, we stored items in our garage attic.  It was time to clean it out.  My friends Shawn and Sharon came to help, thank goodness!  Piles to Goodwill, piles in the trash, a pile for Wayne’s house and a pile for John and Missy’s barn.  Now the house is completely empty of all Mitchell paraphernalia.  We went to celebrate at Maudie’s.

Sharon and Shawn with me at Maudie's

Sharon and Shawn with me at Maudie’s

Our favorite server, Adolfo at Maudie's

Our favorite server, Adolfo at Maudie’s

A few visits with friends squished in between tons of errands and chores.  Always productive and good to be back in Austin.