27 January, 2010

I need (a few more) captions

I will fill in the blanks with words at some point. I just wanted to get something up that is a bit more cheerful.

No Regretsies!

There it is, the giant coochie looming in the background. That thing could eat Chicago.

Moki doesn't understand why Uly won't throw the ball. Humans throw balls, she thinks. He smells human, she thinks. Sinda reads Moki's mind. "This one is broken".

20 January, 2010

17 days

As we had expected, my Grandmother followed the love of her life into the unknown. Frankly I'm surprised it took her 17 days. I think she was trying to leave sooner, but her body wasn't cooperating. Above, you see my brother coming to terms.

I leave tomorrow to attend. As I prepare for this journey back to East Texas, I feel as though I've just finished a much longer and harder one. So there is a sense of relief, and peace. The only part of their passing which I haven't yet accepted is this: I spent every summer with them on their farm, their land. For reasons I still can't comprehend, this land is no longer ours. The people who now own and take care of this land are wonderful, generous people. Really, they are part of the family now. But this land is now theirs, not ours. I'm traveling there to say farewell to my Nanaw. I'm also traveling there to make my peace with this place, and say farewell to it. Bob & Liz say we are welcome to come and visit, and that is a comfort. But it won't feel the same. And my kids won't know this place the way I have, which hurts me. Then again the place, the land, won't have the same feeling to me without the reassuring presence of my Grandparents. So I guess it is just time to let go. I'm sorry, I know I'm rambling. I'm just now trying to make sense of it all.

Below are a few photos from happier times, when my youngest was about 18 months old. After I get back, I will attempt to scan (yikes! the scanner! wasn't that a horror movie?) some wonderful old photos of my Grandparents. They were such a handsome couple! Really, you will be amazed.

15 January, 2010

You know what's fun? Watching a cat person fall for a dog.

08 January, 2010

upon reflection

This week has been big (as in momentous), long, and exhausting.

My Papaw with my younger daughter in 2004

My dear grandfather died on January first, which also happened to be my 45th birthday. I had been warned that his passing was imminent, so I guess I was as prepared as one can be. I flew into Austin on Monday and started making my way by rental car to East Texas to attend his funeral on Tuesday morning. I saw my grandmother, his wife of 57 years, who is herself close to the end of her time.

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a farm with cows, chickens and ducks, dogs and the occasional horse. ( I like the idea of an occasional horse, like an occasional chair). My brother and I, who grew up in big, smoggy Houston, spent our summers at the farm for, I don't know...8 years running? Something like that. At the farm we got fresh air, sunshine, wide open spaces, an old ramshackle house that we swore was haunted, and these tough and fiercely loyal surrogate parents who let us run relatively wild. They are the reason I work at a farm. They are the reason I garden. They are the reason I cook. They are the reason I lust after homegrown tomatoes. They are the reason I think cows are the most graceful and elegant creatures on earth.

Don't tell me any different, I don't want to hear it. The breath of grass-fed cows smells like heaven.

My Nanaw was happy to see me, during her moments of clarity. She was also brutally aware of the reason for my visit. My grandparents were a unit unto themselves, always. I don't think any of us can really conceive of her without him. So there's that.

1. The upsides of this trip include getting to see people I hadn't seen in years. This always happens at funerals, doesn't it? Like my brother and his family, my aunt & uncle, and my cousin Jason who is all grown up into Prince Charming. Like my aunt's mother, Peggy. What a beautiful, kind and generous person, and I don't think I've seen her since my aunt & uncle got married about 38 years ago. And afterwards, all my best girlfriends in Austin re-arranged their schedules to join me for a perfect mexican food lunch at Curra's Grill.

2. My grandfather had a graveside service performed by his Masonic lodge. This was my first Masonic funeral, and let me tell you it was interesting. I liked the little aprons they all wore, and the Mason who performed the rites was a prime example of rural Texas masculine gentility. He would have been the older goateed gentleman all the ladies would line up to two-step with at any Texas dance hall.

3. I got to sleep in a king-sized bed all by myself for 2 nights at the Hampton Inn in Palestine.
I also was lucky enough to see some crappy TV, like Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.

This morning, as I've been going through the photos I shot during my trip, I've come to a realization. When I was young, deaths and funerals felt so specific to a individual. I was sad because this person (my Uncle Paul, my high school friend Eric, my Opa, etc. ) had died. Nowadays, my grief is far more general. As I look at the photos of my family and friends, I think about the fact of, the inevitability of death hovering so close to all of us. I look at the photo I took of me with my brother and I imagine him suddenly gone. Me without a baby brother? Impossible.

So I'm trying to just focus on now. Now. Enjoy the here and now.

07 January, 2010

a bit chilly

Right now, as the kids get ready to go back for their first day of school, it is -7 degrees. The dew point is -9, whatever that means. I think long underwear is in order.