Austin

Wittliff Collection

Our father chose to donate most of his ACL memorabilia to the Bill Wittliff Collection at Texas State University. I went down today to deliver his ACL Hall of Fame award to Curator Steve Davis, and a couple of the grandkids and great grandkids were able to make it too. The Armadillo Rising exhibit, which includes an ACL display, closes July 3. Steve added the award to the case for the last 10 days.

Yoga

I'm on my fourth year of practicing yoga regularly, but I still haven't mastered a handstand. (Truth is, I haven't even tried yet.) But my friend Zelinda, who owns the studio I frequent, became determined to mindfully attempt a handstand a day for one year, and yesterday was day 365. She chronicled the entire journey on the studio's Instagram page, and if you check it out and scroll back to this time last year, you'll see how much she improved over the course of a year. You'll also probably be entertained by all of the places she attempted her handstands (grocery store, fire station, splash pad, etc.) One gets the feeling that on some days she just remembered she needed to try one, stopped what she was doing, and did it. 

One of the many things I love about The Yoga Room is their tag line: Yoga for Every Body. You won't find any competition here, no pushing you beyond your current limits, no expectations at all. What you will find is encouragement -- and lots of it. Zelinda's philosophy is that yoga should be accessible to everyone, regardless of body shape, athletic ability, age, or disability (she even has classes for cancer survivors and people with neuromuscular diseases like MS or ALS.) And if you start with accepting where people are, you can encourage them to possibly go a little further. Her handstand-a-day experiment is living proof that someone who "can't" eventually "can," if they'll keep at it.

Last week we set out to capture day 364 and 365 at some prominent Round Rock landmarks. We spent some time at the Dell Diamond, the AAA affiliate of the Texas Rangers. It had just rained but she brought towels and blotted off places for her hands.

Next we attempted a feat we'd been talking about tackling for the last couple of years: doing a shoot at the "Round Rock" (the landmark that gave the city its name.) When we arrived, Zelinda and I stood on the bridge and began formulating a plan.  She said she could wade in from the side and climb on the rock, while I stood on the bridge and shot pictures. As we were talking, both of us noticed something moving in the water:

Snakes! 

Her face fell. (I was shuddering, but I knew I wasn't going to have to get in the water.) We stood there trying to think of a different approach. She walked around the side to see if there was another way. 

There wasn't. 

She really wanted to do this, and I could tell she was trying to talk herself into swimming with the snakes. I finally said, "Look, Academy is only 10 minutes from here. What if we got a little blow-up boat? We could attach a rope to it and I could let you float to the rock and then pull the boat back out for the shoot. Then when we're done, I'll send it back for you." She thought a minute and said, "Why not?" So we hopped in her car and went to Academy, where a very nice man named Ed helped us blow up Zelinda's new boat (we didn't have all day to use our lungs.)

Once it was inflated, we threw it in the back of her SUV and tried again. Here she is just before we lowered her in the water. 

Our plan worked, which means she didn't capsize and there was no fraternizing with snakes. Even after all of that, her focus was razor sharp.

Here she is, about to make the 30-foot journey back. Where there's a will, there's a way! Thanks Zelinda, for not giving up, and for being willing to roll with my crazy plan!

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Family Circus

My middle daughter, Mandy, and her daughter, Piper, were both born on April 8. (They were also born in the same hospital.) About two weeks ago, Happy stuck his head in my office and said, "I just saw a Groupon for flying trapeze lessons. Do you think they'd want to do that for their birthdays?" 

Um, Yeah.

So today these two headed out to Trapeze Austin to cash in their vouchers and take to the air. And the experience did not disappoint. Of course the paparazzi had to tag along (yours truly.)

Happy and I got there just as they were about to try what I'll call the transfer trick. In order for the "catcher" to be able to get a good grip, she had to put chalk all over her forearms. Here's my fearless [almost] seven year old getting ready and heading up the ladder.

Piper wasn't able to make the jump, but she got really really close. I am incredibly proud and impressed that she so fearlessly flung herself at the sky. Mandy said when they asked who wanted to go first, she started walking to the front while raising her hand. 

Piper's mom, however, is ready for the circus. She completed the transfer like a boss. Wow.

Next, Piper practiced tucking her feet in and swinging from her legs again, and Mandy learned how to do aerial splits. And by learn I mean she simulated it once on the practice bar and then climbed up and did it perfectly the first time. 

This place not only gives aerial lessons, it's a stunt camp. There was a kid having a birthday party while we were there, and an explosion happened during Mandy's first run. 

Happy brought the GoPro we got for Christmas and videoed it. Here's one run apiece. Mandy and Piper both loved the experience and will definitely be going back to do it again. We would highly recommend Trapeze Austin. 

Happy Birthday, girls!

Austin's [not so] Secret Garden

Austin's [not so] Secret Garden

This iconic Texas nursery has been in its current location in Oak Hill since 1993 and let me tell you, it's an experience. This isn't your run-of-the-mill, let's go buy plants for our flowerbed kind of place, though you can certainly find plenty of things that will beautify your yard. What finally got me there was their labyrinth...

The Eyes of Texas

The Eyes of Texas

Every August, Texas Longhorn fans gear up for their season: football season. A few years ago I got a call from a company that wanted me to shoot photos for the book, The Ultimate Tailgater's Guide to the Big 12. I'm a native Austinite, and to be completely honest I was in the dark about what was going on at the UT campus during every home game. I had no idea how devoted these fans are. Suffice it to say, my eyes were opened when I spent a day among them during the UT/Ohio State game. It's not an event; it's a way of life. If you happen to be in town during a home football game, it's worth a trip to tailgater's paradise. A good place to start is right in front of the Bob Bullock History Museum.