Sunday, June 9, 2019

A Texas Road Trip

My dear ol' dad and I took a trip to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco yesterday. We meandered the country roads to get there and even chose to pass through Itasca because singer-songwriter Sam Baker, a native Itascan, was playing on the stereo.

After a fine lunch at a cafe in West, we visited the museum, arriving just in time for a presentation by the major of Company F. The major, who has achieved much in his lifetime, attributed any success he may have had to excellent training and strong leadership. His humility, intelligence, and dedication to public service truly impressed me. 

After the presentation, my dear ol' dad and I explored the museum, where we saw the finely engraved Remington Model 8 Frank Hamer was carrying during the Bonnie and Clyde ambush as well as a rifle that belonged to Captain Jack Hays and a knife made by Rezin Bowie, the brother of Alamo defender Jim Bowie.

We had a fine, easy-going trip and look forward to another little Texas adventure soon.


Monday, May 27, 2019

North Texas Fossils

All of my life I have been fascinated by the natural world. By the time I was ten I could be found scouring the fields of North Texas hunting for fossils to lug back home. Not long ago, Martina and I went fossil hunting near our house and brought back quite a few that now decorate our porch. The picture below is of a cephalopod we found that afternoon. I must say that this little squid is very well-preserved.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

AMON! The Ultimate Texan

This morning Martina and I had the pleasure of attending AMON! The Ultimate Texan at the Artisan Center Theater. AMON!, which was written by Dave Lieber, is a one-man show about the life of Fort Worth's greatest advocate, Amon G. Carter.

Being a Fort Worth boy who began reading the Star-Telegram in elementary school, I have been aware of Carter's importance almost all of my life, and I am absolutely thrilled to have had the opportunity to see this production. Kelvin Dilks, in the role of Amon G. Carter, gave a memorable performance, and I truly enjoyed the humor, humanity, and beauty he shared from the stage. 

Tonight I doff my Peters Brothers hat to Lieber, Dilks, director Connie Sanchez, and the Artisan for this wonderful gift to Fort Worth and the Lone Star State. Amon Carter, the publisher, philanthropist, and forward-thinking businessman, is surely smiling down from the great Shady Oak Farm in the sky.

Please note, gentle reader, that this blog post is not a review, for a Fort Worth native who has known the star of the show for more than thirty years is not exactly an impartial critic. So I'll call this post what it is- a boy from Cowtown's praise for a show that made his heart swell with civic pride. Hurray for AMON! The Ultimate Texan!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Farmers Market

This morning Martina and I went to the farmers market at Bear Creek Park in Keller, Texas. While we were there, we met a gentleman from Texas Fungus, a farm that provides area chefs with specialty mushrooms and truffles. Martina asked about a particular species that grows in the woods in the Czech Republic and is commonly used for soup. The gentleman said that he could get her some.

I asked about a native mushroom I had eaten at a restaurant in McAllen last weekend. All I could remember was that the name sounded like it could be Nahuatl, and it turns out that he knew what I was talking about. The mushroom is called huitlacoche and was highly praised by Diana Kennedy in her The Cuisines of Mexico.

After learning a bit about mushroom farming, Martina and I bought some oyster mushrooms that we will have for dinner this evening. I must say that I always love meeting people with specialized skills and interests. I love to hear their stories and learn about their passions. In fact, having the opportunity to learn about other people's worlds is one of my favorite things in life.

Oyster Mushrooms

A Favorite Childhood Fishing Hole

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Texas Institute of Letters Awards Banquet

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the Texas Institute of Letters 83rd Annual Awards Banquet at the historic Casa de Palmas Hotel in McAllen last night. It was an incredible evening, and I was touched and inspired by the work that was shared and by the kindness of the people I met. I am truly grateful to have been invited to this wonderful event.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Chester Drawers?

I recently came in on the tail-end of a debate between a native of Fort Worth and a native of Oklahoma regarding the term "Chester drawers." They both had heard the term employed to describe a certain piece of furniture, and after speaking with them for a moment, I remembered the term from my childhood as well.

Thus, I decided to do a little research. According to the linguists Pyles and Algeo, "Chester drawers" is an example of folk etymology and is based on a misunderstanding of the term "chest of drawers," which is a common answer among Southerners to what linguists call "the bureau question." 

If I were ever to become a rodeo clown, I think I would go by the name Chester Drawers. It has a nicer ring than Chest O' Drawers or any other bureau-related name I can think of. 

Here is a link to an interesting article on the subject: 


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Deep in the Backcountry

While camping solo deep in the Yellowstone backcountry, up around Bighorn Peak, my relationship with books changed. Before I set out, a ranger told me that where I was camping, I probably would not encounter another human for another month. I only camped there a couple of days, but I did encounter another human. And that was F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In my backpack I was carrying The Great Gatsby, which I was reading for the second time, and there in the wilderness, many miles from the closest road, I felt as if I had a friend with me. In those years, I was reading Thoreau, Lao Tzu, Thomas Merton, and Plato, and though I felt a strong affinity to these writers, Fitzgerald somehow seemed like a lifelong friend.

Perhaps it was due to the sheer isolation, but my relationship with books deepened that day. On that bright day in the wilderness, a young writer learned the true, intimate power of the printed page. 

This is my old copy of The Great Gatsby, which is in pretty good condition considering how many miles it traveled in a pack in the mid-nineties, back in my Yellowstone years. Today it rests on a shelf here in Texas enjoying its retirement.