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 look for Indian arrow points lost in ancient hunting miscues. When we drive into the deep canyon to fish we take his 1950’s Willy’s jeep so we don’t get stuck.
From this bench, the new morning is quiet spectacular.
Light comes to our side of the planet as the other side turns dark. This switch from dark to light comes quickly. Within thirty minutes sunrise goes 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.
Small paths lead out to the benches so I know my brother Alan gets out here too.
I hunker down in my light jacket waiting for the sun to start warming the planet.
On Thanksgivings, when I visit, we watch football after a big turkey feast and I always fall asleep in my chair while football players try to kick a pigskin through goalposts.
Having just one day a year where we are thankful and celebrate just doesn’t seem enough.
Texas, where my dad was born and raised, not far from here, feels like home this morning.
On some bench, just now,around the world from me, someone is watching our sun go down.
I hope they are content too, to live,and let live.
Most people call these ” clouds ” and stop.
A few go further and describe them as ” beautiful clouds,” or, if a scientist, ” atmospheric conflagrations. ”
My aunt called them ” buttermilk ” clouds when she was hunched in a bird blind shooting photographs of eagles nesting in the top branches of cottonwood trees on her ranch.
Tonight, these graceful puffs of smoke move languidly through the cerulean sky, just before sunset that turns the heavens reddish yellow.
These cloud fingers are delicate as a concert pianists hands,look like Octopus tentacles reaching for prey near a coral reef, resemble the crust on a fine pastry in your town’s best bakery.
No matter how you describe this natural phenomenon, the safest posture is to bow your head and appreciate your good fortune for a world you didn’t make but get to live in.
The creek is in better shape today than fifty years ago.
Then, creek banks were crowded with brush. Now, you can stand on the bank and easily cast your tackle. There are still cat tails in the creek but they are controlled by a local wildlife biologist for a monthly stipend.
Fifty years ago there were perch in the water, small fish that strike impulsively, put up a fight, and have lots of bones to work around at the dinner table. We ate them fried in a blanket of corn meal along with cornbread, black eyed peas and Texas toast fixed by Grandma. In the creek, we kids waded in undershorts seining for minnows to use as bait. For city kids, the creek and the ranch were a place to look forward to visiting when school shut down for the summer.
The water today is dark, opaque, ten foot deep in the middle. It’s surface is a mirror reflecting trees on the other side of the bank. Like so much of nature, you can feel a lot more beneath the surface than you can see.
Growing up, I had no idea I would be fishing the creek when I got old.
Even the future can’t swim away from the past.
River Falls has a make believe golf course in a cow pasture not far from the Texas Palo Duro Canyon.
This area has been transformed from grazing to ranchettes. With an airport, five acre lots, utilities and roads, the development attracts people with money who want to get away from big city life. Plenty of city folks make huge money in urban jungles but like their leisure with their horses in wild open spaces.
The River Falls Country Club has a small unattended clubhouse, a short nine holes with raised indoor outdoor carpet greens, bumpy fairways of prairie grass, no traps or trees, a steady West Texas wind.
Alan and I watch out for prairie dog holes and rattlesnakes and navigate the course somewhere north of par. If you hit short of the green your ball bounces back towards you. If you hit the green your ball bounces off the green and you have a tough chip coming back.
Those old Scottish guys, who invented the game, played on courses like this in weather like this. It isn’t hard to see them savoring scotch whiskey after a round with the elements.
When I think of the equipment they used and the scores they achieved, I am glad they aren’t playing today.
We wouldn’t have a fighting chance, on the course, or at the bar.
In the 1950’s, Patsy Cline was the premier country western singer.
Her lyrics mirrored those of today; broken relationships, falling in and out of love, working for a living, heartaches and headaches. She was talked up in the tabloids, wore clothes as far removed from the range as a cowgirl could get, sang classic songs that still pop like champagne bubbles.
” Smokey “, Alan’s cookie jar horse, passes his time on the range listening to Patsy on headphones in Texas.
When cowboys get hungry in the bunkhouse they separate Smokey’s head from his neck, reach for a peanut butter cookie,then carefully re-attach the head and neck in one sure handed gun slinging motion.
Patsy’s best song is ” Crazy.”
” Crazy ” brings back memories of me and the construction guys gang sitting in an east side Albuquerque Waffle House, feeding quarters into a juke box, playing Elvis Presley and Rolling Stones hits while waitresses crooned out waffle and scrambled egg orders in raspy voices.
” Crazy” should be our new American National Anthem.
We don’t have trouble being crazy and Patsy sounds more prescient every time I listen to her.
This sweet roll is pure Texas.
Tired of omelets, biscuits and gravy, toast, waffles, steaks with eggs over easy, diners can always opt for a non-politically correct sweet roll breakfast that Lyle Lovett would feature in his kind of songs.
This roll fills a plate instead of a saucer. It would go well on Caesar’s table at a fine Roman buffet where elites dine with the Emperor served by slaves and entertained by musicians and dancing girls.
This morning Dave and the Russian Vera join forces, one with a fork and the other a knife. The roll is carefully, surgically divided into smaller bites and by the end of breakfast they have finished half and put the other half in a takeout box.
I look for togas here but people in Pier 19 are wearing windbreakers and baseball caps and look middle class. We sometimes think we have a Caesar in the White House,but, so far, American Caesar’s don’t have a professional food taster, don’t get killed too often, and are kicked out of office after eight years if they can fool the voters two elections in a row.
Vera will have to walk miles to deal recover from this decadence.
Dave never gains weight but he will need a smoke before breakfast is done.
E-Harmony, from what I have learned about it, is doing as much for foreign relations as all our American Ambassadors put together.
At seven in the morning, you show yourself down several hallways into the restaurant.
Giovanni or one of the girls gets a pot of coffee and a full cup to me when they see me. When the wind blows I can feel the entire pier swing its hips like a drunk hula girl. It is five o’ clock somewhere and Jimmie Buffet Drive runs right through our dining area to the bar where Happy Hour begins when someone starts a fish story and the bar girl pours her first round.
At seven in the morning, this restaurant has an odd feel. Everything slants to the left and the guys who built the place must have had their heads in Margaritaville when they picked up their hammers and screw guns and measured their cuts.
By seven thirty, my order is on the wheel and cooks are scrambling eggs, frying bacon, making biscuits and gravy.
Sitting near the kitchen I listen to them talking about parties and during Spring Break plates will fly through their serving window as fast as they can fix them as they break their necks looking at girls in bikini’s, or less.
By eight, the sun is warming me through single pane windows and a pelican on top of a close by pier post in my line of sight is grooming.
Deckhands on the Osprey are out swabbing decks, loading poles and ice coolers filled with drinks, sandwiches and bait shrimp. In the gift shop, a clerk runs credit cards for men and women going out to fish this morning on the Osprey.
At seven, the world looks screwy. By nine, kinks are worked out.
South Padre Island, when you look at its aerial photograph on the wall, looks like a shark’s tooth.
I keep a sharp eye out for one legged sailors.
They are my canary in the mine shaft.