along the road
Gods and created
along the road
Gods and created
Some sculptures exhibited are behind glass, others are open to visitors to peer at closely, peek at the small shadows in the creases of the faces. Some of the work is utilitarian, made to ornament balustrades and pillars. Other works stood in temples before kneeling worshipers and burning incense.
Antiquity never quite leaves us, though we try to leave it.
Conserving the past, especially if it is someone else’s, is precious.
The Amarillo College Museum has several floors and this Friday, after Thanksgiving, Alan, Cousin Jim and Scott ,visit both floors.
On the second floor, one of the museum’s permanent exhibits features sculptures carved from sandstone dating from the 1st century in Thailand, Cambodia, and India.The sculptures have been donated to the college by local Dr. William T. Price and his wife, Jimmie Dell Price. The exhibit seems an anomaly in Texas cow country with windmills, barbed wire fences and branding irons crossed over gateways the usual West Texas artistic themes.
When these sculptures were begun, the craftsman/artist started with a simple block of sandstone and then carved away sand till they reached what was in their mind’s eye. There is no going back with this art, no pasting sand back. If you make an error the entire sculpture is ruined and months and months of work are annihilated.
These sculptor’s, like brain surgeon Dr. Price, work slowly and meticulously with sharp instruments, good eyes, and patience.
These artifacts are safe here from the bumpy unknowable future.
The past is like a fine piece of china riding in the back seat of a car, with bad shocks, going down an unpaved mountain road.
This museum is that same car, safely parked in its garage, and the fine china purring in the back seat like a contented cat.
Pots and pans are on the stove, the table has been set for three, a Butterball Turkey browns in the oven. It took four hours for this bird to cook and slicing it up on the kitchen counter means dinner is close.
Alan, Sherrie, and I have Thanksgiving this year at Alan’s.
At the White House, a Trump turkey is pardoned but White House chefs are in their sparkling kitchens preparing a big feast of beef, ham, salmon fit for a King and Queen. Dignitaries visit America’s White House throughout the year, and, while discussing policy, like to wine and dine as befits their diplomatic positions.
On a turkey’s calendar, November 22 is marked with a huge X and circled for emphasis.
On Thanksgiving, they load their families into their SUV’s, tuck in their feathers, and go to the beach, out of harm’s way.
Next year I’m planning on being there with them.
Seeing turkeys, in bikini’s, is something I just don’t want to miss.
Palo Duro canyon isn’t far from Amarillo.
If you head east from Amarillo you hit the Texas Palo Duro State Park where you can drive down into the canyon and access its visitor center and exhibits. On road cuts in the canyon below Alan’s home we have found Indian arrow points lost in ancient hunting miscues. When we drive into the deep canyon we take his 1950’s Willy’s jeep and go way back deep into the canyon gash in the Earth’s arm.
From this bench, the new morning view is spectacular.
Light comes to our side of the planet as the other side turns dark. The switch from dark to light comes quickly. Within thirty minutes we go from a point where I can’t see the creek in the bottom of the canyon to a point I can see the entire creek, as well as homes and houses on the rim of the far side of the canyon.
I wonder who is sitting on a bench on the other side of the world looking at a spectacular sunset, the flip side of my morning?
I wonder if they are saying, like me, ” This is a miracle ”
There are small paths leading out to the benches so I know my brother Alan gets out here too.
This morning, I hunker down in my light jacket.
On Thanksgivings, when I visit, we watch football after turkey dinner and I fall asleep.
Having just one day a year where we are thankful and celebrate just doesn’t seem enough.
I can’t grasp the whole world this morning but I sure like sitting on my little bench with a view of a Texas creek.
Llamas are a working animal in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and other high Andes South American countries.
Llama wool keeps locals warm and you can buy llama sweaters, caps and blankets in open markets in Otavalo, Ecuador as well as other marketplaces in the Andes. This llama,far from home, is boarded at Dave’s daughter Kim’s house in the country near Larkspur, Colorado.
” Kathy, my ex, rents them out to back packers, ” Dave once told me in one of our conversations. ” She just finished a month long backpack trip in Oregon …..”
Some men talk about their ex-wives with disdain. Dave was different.
This llama gives me a look of disdain and I go back inside with the rest of the mourners.
Dave’s ashes are in a small wood box on a living room side table. A slide show on a nearby television shows high lights of Dave’s life; his marriage, the birth of his children, his life as a young man, photos of his father and mother, pictures of him smiling. Dave would be pleased with the turnout, not pleased with the preacher, pleased with Kathy and Kim. He would be back in the kitchen tasting treats if he was still with us. His dog, Chaco, has lost weight and acts anxious as he looks for Dave but can’t sniff him out.
Dave was generous and I expect he would be okay with Kathy gently sprinkling him into a slow moving mountain stream on one of her Spring llama trips somewhere in Colorado.
Dave would also be okay with his daughter, her husband and his grand kids packing into his almost new Airstream and going anywhere, except Texas, a state he loathed.
When I get home I’m going to dust off my walking shoes and take a trip to Mexico, a trip Dave and I talked about for the last two years but didn’t get around to doing for his health issues, which he rarely talked about.
When I get to Mexico I’m going to smoke a cigar for Dave even though I don’t smoke, and have a drink of Crown Royal even though I hate blended whiskey.
Dave will be pleased.
This home on wheels was originally owned by a couple from Louisiana who traveled from town to town with a carnival. They sold kewpie dolls and prizes, and, as far as we know, lived as happy as the Old Lady who lived in a Shoe.
Inside, it is roomy enough for a couple that gets along.
For a couple that doesn’t get along, there is no house big enough.
This might be Beth’s Bar and Grill, but it might not be Beth who serves us.
This morning our hostess, waitress, cook is a short, stubby, older looking than she is woman who wears house slippers and a blue apron. She screws up her face funny when she writes our order into her little spiral notebook, grasping the pencil tightly like a student with learning difficulties. I wait for her to lick the pencil tip.
” Is that it? ” she says, looking at us as she reaches for our three menus as if she doesn’t want them to get away.
” That’s it, ” we say.
” We should have been higher, ” Weston says, ” the seismic was no good. ”
His dad nods. Max and I check our silverware for food the ex- con dishwasher didn’t take off.
This little Bar and Grill,in Benkleman, was in its heyday in the 1950’s when oil drilling in the Continental U.S. was strong and wheat and cattle brought good prices. The wallpaper, yellowed now, was new then and conversation was heady and animated. World War 2 was over and servicemen were back home with most of their limbs and some of their mental health intact.
” Disappointing, ” I add, the only coffee drinker in the group.
” If it isn’t there, it isn’t there, ” Neal says.
When the food comes it is as plain as the building. There is no salsa or sprig of parsley to give the plate a fancy look. A man sitting at the table behind us is happy Beth is open on a Sunday morning with snow on the ground at seven in the morning. He has hot tea , reads his local newspaper, checks cattle futures and has his toast with a bit of orange marmalade. He appears to be a regular who is joined by a friend halfway through my eggs over easy.
There are three pool tables in the back of the restaurant and some evenings, under dropped lights, men will be here playing pool, watching football, and drinking beer, staying out of their wive’s house.
There is money in alcohol, not so much in meat and potato’s food.
Dry holes, last time I looked, still cost me a fair bit of money.
Disappointed, but not dejected, we all leave Beth a good tip, even if we didn’t hit anything but dirt.
Going into the hole you add pipe, coming out of the hole you take away pipe..
It is snowing but the drillers don’t stop. When you are drilling a mile down you don’t leave the hole open long. The Earth doesn’t tolerate straws dipped into its reservoir and can close its teeth with a snap.
You drill, test, lay pipe and produce, or plug the hole.
Trying to hit a target you can’t see and can’t know the size of , covered by roller coaster layers of Earth 4000 plus feet down, is tough.
A fair number of wells are busts.
A few are bonanzas.
Every project looks good before you drill it or we wouldn’t be out here freezing our tails off.
My brother Neal, at my request, always tells me, before we drill a well, about John Steinbeck’s ” rabbit in ” Of Mice and men. ”
Before each calculated gamble, on Neal’s skill and experience, I rub my stomach, like a big Buddha,for good luck.
On the derrick, a crew of three roughnecks stop drilling to make the pipe going into the Earth one length longer.
A length of pipe is retrieved from the squirrel cage at the top of the rig, lowered to the captured and clamped pipe at the roughnecks feet. The new length of pipe is screwed onto the top of the pipe coming out of the hole, by two drillers, using chains and muscle. The tool pusher then touches a gear, when all hands are clear, and the newly extended drilling pipe rotates, and down drilling resumes.
Drilling in the continental U.S. hasn’t changed much in a hundred years. The derricks now are built from steel instead of wood, the drill bits are sharper and last longer, there is electricity instead of whale oil lamps. Drilling is quicker and there are more tests to determine if a well will be profitable.There are improved methods of extracting oil from your discoveries. There are more environmental regulations. The men on the derrick are still rough and tumble pickup driving young men with crazy habits and a big bucket of problems. Most have too many girlfriends, too many kids, too many addictions, and too small a paycheck.
When the price of oil drops, drilling stops and small towns like Benkleman suffer. Much of the employment in this part of Nebraska is in the oil fields and state revenues are buoyed by taxes on each barrel of oil brought out of the ground. When the price of oil increases, good times roll.
Seeing a new pair of boots in the driller’s shack is comforting. The country still needs energy, unpopular as the idea is to some.
You can’t learn the oil business from books, you don’t find oil if you don ‘t drill, and Max and Weston doing what their dad does is natural.
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