Well, we did it. My family congregated from all around the country - every corner, I believe - in Las Vegas this past weekend to celebrate my upcoming 50th birthday.
Yes, tomorrow I turn 50. Exactly how did this happen?
My siblings, parents, uncle and their spouses/fiancees appeared miraculously and somewhat dramatically for the Big Event. We ate too much, laughed a lot, and could have been anywhere, really, and not just in Vegas. We did do a wee bit of gambling. I lost. And I'm very grateful that everyone made the effort to come celebrate.
Also present, by happenstance, was a good friend of mine who lives in Phoenix. I have known her for twenty years - met her right before I turned 30, in fact - and she came with my family to the Birthday Dinner, on Saturday evening, at Nora's Italian Cuisine. They sat us in a back room - twelve people, was the final count - all sitting at a round table that filled the room there. Apparently we ordered every appetizer on the menu, along with several entrees - it was excellent food. As if my family's presence was not "presents" enough, I had a variety of treats for the day - a massage/pedicure/manicure in the a.m., a sweet jewelry box, fifty trees planted in my name, a show, an amazon.com certificate, a wonderful necklace and a rabbit. Actually, it was a human being dressed as a rabbit - the Easter Bunny, I think he thought (but my brother explained it wasn't that, and it wasn't "accidental" that it was a rabbit in the first place, ha!) - who came with a singing telegram and then wanted to dance. So I danced with him. It's all on tape, or so my brother-in-law assures me. As the TSA check-in guy said at the airport in Spokane - when he saw I was going to Vegas - "What happens in Vegas ends up on Youtube!" We shall see. We shall see.
On Sunday, as most of the family was departing, I ended up staying with my friend from Phoenix, who was staying at the glamorous Bellagio. It was a perfect day, weather wise, and we sat out at the pool, sunning. This was a far cry from when I left Spokane (sans jacket, as I knew I wouldn't need it in Las Vegas). As I had walked to the Spokane airport from the parking lot last Thursday, it had snowed. And the wind had blown, as though we were on the Great Plains. (Coming back on Monday, it poured rain. Oh, well. The parking-lot-to-airport hike is only about five minutes, in Spokane.)
The other thing that tried to affect my trip was my cat Alex - or, should I say, the cat fight that Alex apparently had a week or two ago, that gave him the scratch on his head that broke open into a sore on Thursday, about three hours before I had to leave. Alex. He's such a pain, that cat. He sees all cats as directly challenging his authority to rule the neighborhood - and every cat fight starts with him going head-first into battle. This is how these cat-scratch battle scars always end up on his head. But I didn't fret too much - I just put a cone on his head to keep him from scratching at the wound, and my neighbor checked on him to ensure that he could eat and could not remove the cone. He was grumpy by the time I got home - Alex, not the neighbor - but he was healed - or nearly healed. I told him I was sorry, but I was not about to let him make me cancel my trip to Vegas. After all, you only turn 50 once. (It's 49 that you can repeat as often as you prefer.)
UPDATE: Well, Alex is doing well. The cone is off, the head is healed, and he is out and about, looking for another cat fight. It's good to see him back to himself.