Monday, February 22, 2010

Tribute

I wrote this poem about my grandpa several years ago for a college creative writing class. I'd completely forgotten about it until my mom mentioned they were printing it in the funeral program. It pretty well sums up some of my favorite aspects of Grandpa's personality.

9/24/02

Wallace Moses Ott

I
"We'll switch the numbers," you say
"I'll be 19, and you be 91."
I laugh.
Oh Grandpa.
"I met a man who met President Lincoln.
Aren't many people who can say that."
And when I grow up, Grandpa,
I will say that I met a man
Who met a man
Who met President Lincoln.
We all say that work has kept you alive -
You,
Still chasing your cows every day
You'll go as often as we'll let you.
Branded "The Walking Cowboy"
By Michael Martin Murphy,
You can't ride anymore.

II
The "little trees"
Your legacy
They are your children now
I went with you to water them
"Don't run over the little trees"
And we hauled two one-gallon jugs at a time -
Milk jugs, orange juice cartons,
and detergent containers -
Filled with hose water
And loaded in the back of your truck.
We drowned
Each twelve-inch spiky twig
With two gallons of water
You and me
Me, running to try to get more done than you
Aunt Sandra had told me
The more I did, the less you would have to do
So I tried to spare you.
You were impressed with me -
A wimpy girl lugging jugs.
But when we got home, I was tired
You kept working.
I think it was you
Who spared me.

III
When we were done,
We sat in your red truck
Drinking a warm coke.
We split it in two small cups
It tasted like the smell of cloves.
You clutched your cup in your gnarled hand
Your skin looked like that of a
Featherless baby bird,
Translucent and veiny.
I asked you there how you and Grandma met:
She sat on your lap
On the way to a dance
Because there was no room in the car.

IV
You've been married nearly 70 years.
I hope you're still here when I finally meet the
"Blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy with rosy cheeks"
Who you've been asking me about
Since I was three.
You are my hero.
You have always been a tease.
I have never seen you angry.
You can tell better stories
Than anyone I know -
And all of them are true.
I love the one about Butch Cassidy
You did meet him -
I don't care what the historians say.
Methuselah of your day,
Your legacy will live on.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


I miss this guy. It's the first time we've ever been apart for more than half a day. It's a little embarrassing, but I even shed a few tears before I left. (I remember being absolutely disgusted when one of my friends cried the first time she was away from her husband. Oh, the irony.)

Can't wait to see you tomorrow, Baby.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine

I never really liked Valentine's Day before I got married--even the years when I had a boyfriend, the whole thing was just too much pressure. Now, though, I think it's great. What couple doesn't love an excuse to go out on a date or make a fancy dinner? What woman doesn't like flowers, chocolate, and/or presents? What man doesn't love watching chick flicks? (Okay, so that last one was wishful thinking...)

Valentine's Day or not, I love spending time with this guy:


What other man could pull off brown scrubs with ceiling fan tassel "earrings"?

I'm the luckiest.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Homeward Bound

In Loving Memory of
Wallace Moses Ott
September 25, 1911 - February 11, 2010


I love you, Grandpa. Have lots of adventures in heaven.

I can't wait to hear about them.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Grandpa

Grandpa is in the hospital tonight
fighting what may well be his last of countless battles
And though I've always known this day would come,
and sometimes even prayed for it
(in the short periods where I could care more for his happiness
than mine),
it is harder than I thought
and I find myself feeling
Loss
And though my tears are not bitter,
and my mind has been reconciled to the inevitable for days,
years, even,
it's still a blow

But I find comfort in family,
in memory,
and, surprisingly,
solace in tears.

{and I really am fine--
truly!--
I'm filled with peace
as I reflect on the legacy
of this amazing man}

Monday, February 8, 2010

McAllister Park Part II: The Wildlife Shots

One of the main reasons we went to McAllister Park was the deer. They're everywhere, especially in the late afternoon. Jay gets really excited about them: he tiptoes through the brush, quiet as an Indian (Native American? Does even positive stereotyping make me racist?), just to get a few feet closer. He would make a really good hunter, and I've thought about sending him off on the deer hunt with my uncles and cousins. Except that he doesn't like guns. Or killing things. So never mind about hunting.

He does, however, make a great wildlife photographer:



We saw lots of deer on our (never-ending) hike, and we took about a million pictures of them. Well, Jay took about a million pictures of them. He just kept snapping away while I watched. He got some great shots.



And then this buck stepped into the clearing. He was beautiful. And bold. And quite cocky. We're relatively sure he was a teenager on a dare. He looked at us a few times, cool as you please, and then went right back to casual grazing.


Jay handed me the camera, his shutter-finger exhausted. And right then, Buck decided to emerge from the trees.


(You'll notice that my manual focus skills are emerging at best.)


(Then right after I switched to auto focus, he looked at me. Deciding I'd rather blame bad focus on me than the camera (hey, I'm all about accountability), I switched back to manual.)


It's always a little surreal to be close to wild animals, especially big ones. Deer seem to be delicate and deliberate at the same time. This one strode with quiet confidence. His skittish female friends crashed through the underbrush behind him in a frenzied panic.


I think this one's my favorite: he looks regal, soft, and proud.


And in this one, he looks wild; almost like a lion. Check out that eye! Raar.


And in this one, he's walking away. His whiskery chin, almost like a peach-fuzz beard, makes me laugh.

I hope his punk teenage friends were watching him. He totally deserves some elevated status after this macho display.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

McAllister Park Part I: The Artsy Shots

A couple of weekends ago, Jay and I went to McAllister Park. Texas parks are a lot different from Utah parks: the majority of them don't have much landscaping or large, manicured grass playing fields. They're more wild and woodsy and veined with walking trails. We brought our new camera along, hoping we'd be able to catch some neat shots.


I've decided that macro photography is my favorite: it's ridiculously easy (of still-lifes, anyway), and it gives the viewer a new perspective of ordinary things, making them seem fantastic and alien and beautiful.


To be honest, San Antonio isn't very pretty this time of year. We don't have much of an autumn, so during winter, dead brown leaves still cling to many of the trees, and most of the natural vegetation is scrubby and grey. Not exactly ideal for a photo shoot.


From looking at these pictures, though, you'd never know it. That's the other thing I love about macro: it allows you to selectively focus on small beauties. Dull or unsightly surroundings blur into a soft, textured background:


I started feeling self-conscious just now because it might look like I'm trying to sound like I know what I'm talking about. In reality, I know almost nothing about photography. I just get really excited when we end up with a few good shots. Here's a deer carcass to distract you from my narcissism:


Jay likes taking pictures, especially when his subject is something as cool as a deer carcass. I also love this shot he got of vestigial autumn leaves: they look like they're dancing in the wind.


One of the perks of McAllister Park is that there's something for everyone: playgrounds for the kids, picnic tables and barbeque grills for families, paved trails for leisurely strolls, and narrow paths for bikers and those of us who like solitude. Since Jay and I fall into the latter category, we spent a long time meandering along narrow, winding paths, pausing for the occasional photo op. I appreciated the silence and the serenity, the plants and the wildlife. I did not appreciate getting lost. Apparently, you can wander a long way while you're appreciating serenity.


We eventually emerged from the trees by a playground on the opposite side of the park. We followed a sidewalk to a drinking fountain, and a few cement blocks away, I noticed this:


How could we pass up an opportunity to find Rainbo Land? We followed the arrow down a small hill, and here's what I swear it was pointing to:


Okay, so probably not exactly what that kid had in mind, but it sure seemed to me like an apt name for the Optimist Club. I'm not sure what those little sun spots are from since they didn't turn up in any of our other pictures. I can only guess that they are manifestations of the sparkles that exist in the lives of optimists. Or maybe, judging by their multiple hues and ethereal quality, they are proof that I found Rainbo Land after all.


Jay fills my life with rainbows. Awww...

Now on to less warm and fuzzy things, lest I lose your attention (and your respect):


I've always thought cactuses were cool. (Yes, I know it's really "cacti." I just think "cactuses" sounds better. Even if my spell-checker underlines it in red.)


Side note: if you're not looking closely, those little groups of spikes on the edges of the cactus don't look particularly threatening; they look like foxtail fibers or immature, harmless pricklies. Let me just tell you, from experience, that they are sharper than the big thorns, and they shed off the plant and into your skin as easily as porcupine quills. Through jeans, even. Ouch.


I am not exactly sure what this cactus plant thing is, but it looks a lot more ominous and spiky in macro than it did in real life.


A clump of "ball moss" growing on an oak tree--a common sight in Texas. Up until recently, I thought the moss was actually a creative way of tree reproduction: doesn't it look like a clump of roots? They often drop to the ground, so I figured the tree was propagating through already sprouting root-balls. Nope. Just moss.


Me in the wild wood. I recall the sound track for this picture went something like this:
Jay: Look at me!
Me: I don't really want to be in a picture.
Jay: Smile! ...aw, c'mon, look at me!
Me: Can't you go take pictures of a rock or something?
Jay: No. Smile!

I actually kinda like it--the sun makes my hair look red.


Stay tuned for Part II: The Wildlife Shots...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lucy, the Pubescent Cat

{love that awesome paint job, don't you? ah, the joys of living in an apartment complex...}

They just grow up too fast, don't they? In November we brought home a kitten; now we have a CAT. (I guess she's technically a kitten until she's a year old, but that's like calling a 15-year old a "child.") Lucy is about 8 months old now, and she is a full-fledged cat teenager, complete with mood swings, hyperactivity, and acne. (Didn't know cats get acne? Yeah, me neither.) Her poor little chin is currently swollen about three times its normal size due to a monster zit. Poor dear; I can relate. I'm looking into buying some Clearasil or something to minimize her breakouts...

Oh, and she went into heat this week. It's actually been pretty funny: she's been super affectionate, purring and rubbing her head against our feet (especially Jay's), and any time we'd try to pet her, she'd stick her little bum up in the air. I sternly explained to her that there is no chance she's going to "get lucky" while she's living under my roof, and, thankfully, her embarrassing behavior has mostly subsided.

New on the to-do list: get Lucy spayed.