Yesterday we went to the Heard Natural Science Center, in nearby Fairview. Bessie Heard showed the foresight to want to donate her family's riparian wood for use as a park. Her attorney at that time showed the sense to advise her not to give it to a city or town, lest it someday be sliced by well-intentioned recreationalists into a series of baseball fields. They instead set up a foundation which ensures that the Heard remains a pristine place to hike and see nature exhibits. We maintain an annual membership there, so that we can go and hike several times a year on the short, gentle trails through a solid stand of trees. We saw winter robins in profusion, as well as an armadillo rooting through leaves.
The Heard continues to have a travelling exhibit I enjoyed seeing again, Birds Through a Naturalist's Eye, which features the lithographos of John James Audubon, John Gould, and Edward Lear. I love bird portraits--they speak volumes to me, somehow, like reading the letter "B" in the World Book Encyclopedia. A new exhibit featured native American crafts and arts from the Aleutians--I loved the modern haida portrait of a kingfisher, done with the idiosyncratic religious imagery of that people.
We adjourned to the Pantry Restaurant in downtown McKinney, Texas. The Pantry is one of those places which is located in a storefront that seems as though it might have once been a hardware store. It has a kind of graciousness about it nonetheless, as one waits in line to order sandwiches, a soup of the day, or an entree, which, when prepared, are consumed on wooden chairs pulled up to solid wooden tables. As we entered, a woman somewhat older than our sadly advanced age intoned with an east Texas drawl "try the chicken spaghetti--it's divine!" (or rather "Divvvv-iiiiiiine"), but we observed that entree being wiped from the chalkboard as we waited in line. We had instead smoked turkey sandwiches--mine was served on a French roll, and the roll, I must admit was divvvviiine.
McKinney's downtown is one of those courthouse square downtowns, as are so many traditional Texas towns. McKinney is only a few dozens of miles from Dallas, but it is not at all a bedroom community. It retains an independence and charm, even as its population expands. After we scouted out a few antique stores, we decided to drive to the nearby town of Farmersville, Texas, whose antique stores run a wide range from 18th Century elegance to 1973 shabby chic, and whose prices always offer a substantial discount off the prices in our crowded suburbs. We browsed many stores there, including my favorite, one of those little "untended booth" antique malls. I bought two tiny well-used bells, the size of one's palm, and one slightly larger porcelain bell with a gorgeous sound, all for about ten dollars.
When I came to be an adult, I learned a theological concept that would, in fact, not have surprised me much when I was 12, if, when I was 12, I could have been bothered to stop reading science fiction novels, a tropical fish guidebook, star patterns about the constellation Orion, and old Frank Merriweather books long enough to think about it. That thing is called "process theology", and I'll summarize the point I have in mind when I say that in process theology the source of reality is not so much as a thing as an endless becoming and transforming. Antique stores are much like process theology made real--stores arise, they transform, the disappear. We encountered one store called Grandma's Attic which is having its liquidation sale. The kind man left sending this store to Heaven smiled and said "Don't pay any attention to the prices marked--they don't mean anything. These are priced to move".
I became enrapt with a set of bird lithographs of Australian birds, not that different from the bird lithographs we saw in the Gould portion of the Heard Museum. Each lithograph, displayed in a very modest frame, was originally marked sixty dollars, which suggests to me that the liquidation price for the set might be quite modest indeed. I wondered if they were Gould prints, but when I looked up the "Trans Tool Soc." listed as the
publisher on google, I got research about something I did not understand, and when I listed the printer, Minter, I got at best only references to a silent film starred named Minter, whose 1919 appearance in "Anne of Green Gables" apparently got completely eclipsed when either she or her mother allegedly shot her director. Shooting directors, like having intimate relations with Brad Pitt, tends to overshadow things a bit.
I'm puzzling over whether to go back and buy those prints. But for now I'll hold my cards close to my vest, except that all my vests, rarely worn, actually hang in my closet.
This morning I toured all kinds of musician spaces at www.myspace.com. I had to immediately request to be added as a friend the fellow who posted a classified ad "you should add our band!" and then the band page said "we don't know what we sound like yet because we haven't started practicing". As always, I was intrigued by what an incredible number of capable songsters compete in the field of music, even after one excludes from consideration the far more incredible number of less than perfectly capable song artists out there. I am glad I pursue law as my profession, which is competitive enough, rather than a more competitive field.
The good thing about Myspace is that one comes to realize that everyone that one knows is on it in the same way that so many people one knows have a LiveJournal. However, whereas with LiveJournal, so many (I am a palpable exception) keep their journals secret, so that nobody can know their inmost thoughts about liking other bands better than Coldplay or fearing the toll of veternary bills, a lot of Myspace people are actually self-promoting in some way. Self-promotion has the huge advantage that anonymity is less important to a self-promoter. So visitng that MySpace is like a safari, in which one always finds friends or potential new friends. Still, when I tried to convert my user page to a fan page, using a URL helpfully provided by MySpace intelligentsia from the home office, nothing happened other than an error message. Even in a deep drought, serious rain falls.
Speaking of drought, Lake Lavon, over which we drove yesterday, has receded to a frightening degree. I felt less Rachel Carson-y about this drought when I read that we were actually due for this drought after a cycle of rain years. But I want the rain to return. I wnat to sing Annie Lennox songs in the rain. I associate January with
the Bodhi Tree Bookstore in West Hollywood, California, where a cool and rainy January day might frame a walk among the shelves, browsing books by theologians forgotten and religions unknown, while incense burned and
gamelan music played. I never did much sitting under bodhi trees, but I'd like to experience a real Bodhi Tree Bookstore rain.