Saturday, December 31, 2011

Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest

How cool is it that here, out in the middle of the desert tundra that surrounds Abilene (ok, I’m not sure if that’s geologically accurate but you get the point, for effect) we have our own miniature Gothic cathedral?

It actually is cooler than normal inside, which in my experience does in fact match the temperature of the larger European cathedrals. There are interesting architectural touches everywhere, from the classic upside-down-fishing-boat ceiling, to carved wooden seats and figures of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that surround the lectern (is that the right term?).

The stained glass windows are a highlight (check out THAT pun!). And because the place is smaller, their colors glow through closer and have a more immediate effect. Much of this stained glass art is better than some of the older stuff, I think. It all depends on the artist no matter the era I guess, but I feel some others that I’ve seen were more focused on violence or were legalistic.

There are some colorful needlepoint cushions sewn by ladies of the church, and depicting native wildflowers. Why not make ordinary-use things beautiful? I liked experiencing this place. We got a local, personable tour from a church member.

Mockingbird Branch – Abilene Public Library

When I went into the Main branch and South branch I thought both times, “You know, putting some plants in here wouldn’t hurt.” What a great combination plants and books are. But, there weren’t any that I noticed. There are several healthy, lush ones in Mockingbird library, housed in a building which is a perfect example of, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” The outside of this library is flanked by not just one, but two dollar stores (kind of convenient for errands, actually) and a Super Bingo location. It’s an old strip mall, with a somewhat ratty parking lot in front (again, rather convenient). A shiny new sign is attached over the still-existing holes from old one(s). Get inside though, and it’s very pleasant and clean and arranged nicely. They also seem to have more of the books I want here.

Vacuum Cleaner Hospital

Although dustier than your average hospital (: we had quite a good experience getting our Dyson repaired and serviced here. I liked the humor of the sign, which included a vacuum with its tongue hanging out and a thermometer. On South 14th St.

Allen's Taxidermy

Wow! Who knew? I previously knew almost nothing about taxidermy. What surprised me about this place were the iridescent feathers of the turkey, and the exquisite design of the bird. Allen's has an extraordinary reputation in the area for quality work and service. Evidently, during the White Tail season they have a 6 month+ waiting list for jobs. The animals and birds on display give one a good chance to look at them up close. The shop is off the highway on the way to Clyde. The purple flower was outside the owner's residence and I've no idea what kind it is, but it's beautiful and otherworldly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

ACU Walking Trail

Cool fitness and artistic concept: a wide, paved sidewalk interspersed with Bible verses carved into the concrete, adorned with fluttering flags of different nations and the 50 American states. Walkers pass by the fountain on "the hill" and there is a contemplative maze imprinted into the pavement opposite.

Also nearby, the Jacob's Dream statue.

Bloomin' Cactus

Rather wondrous, these cactus "flowers." Right in keeping with the rest of the plant they have spines, but are this gorgeous shade of burgundy pink.

Heff's Burgers

Burgers here are the size of dessert plates. No kidding, one patty equals the amount of meat you'd find in 3, even 4 burgers elsewhere. Lots of choices of shake flavors. 50's decor.

Beauty Is ... In the Eye of the Beholder

This giant gorilla sculpture can be found on Royal Crest Drive in Abilene. Notice the accompanying little baby ... gorilla.

Beauty Is ... Where You Find It

In the Fall ... @ Albertson's - a pile of glorious gourds. @ Natural Grocers - some unusual cauliflower ... relative? Almost like sculpture. Make your own museum exhibit out of a produce section.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tiny Weathered Homes

I’m so curious to know the history of these homes at the intersection of North 8th & Ash Street.

They're tiny, weathered clapboard structures and look like they came out of a kit for “abbreviated house” or something.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Extra Friday Night Lights

The Fair amusement park rides shine beyond the field during a Fall high school football game. The visiting band (Lubbock High) takes the field at half-time. My favorite part of the game? Nachos and a pickle.

Abilene Heat

The "summer" of 2011. Which started in April and continues into October. Although at this point 88 degrees fahrenheit is FIFTY degrees cooler than some of those record-busting days.

These men were building a sidewalk along Rebecca Lane. I admired and was awed by the one guy's extra-large-brimmed cowboy hat and the extra shade it provided. I also saw him wetting down the hat under faucet attached to a work truck. How drought-smart is that?!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's About Time

This store contains a mixture of antiques, vintage and new finds. Anything one of the three co-owners likes and brings in to creatively display is for sale. In a review of this place, I first read of the Japanese term, "wabi sabi" and am now I'm enraptured by the concept. It means something like "old and new together," and is about finding beauty in worn, used things and how they juxtapose with new items. Some cool life lessons in there, yes? The way furniture, jewelry, wall art and home decor are artfully combined in this shop offers loads of inspiration.

Larry's Better Burger

Other than the fact that this place looks deserted, with its faded sign and rusty carport, it's a busy joint serving lunch along Treadway Boulevard. Lots of workers in pick-ups stop in, but I also saw a fully gussied-up older woman in a Lexus. Ordering a "small cheeseburger" at the walk-up window (the way its done) got me one that came with mustard, lettuce, tomato, mayo and onions. Just FYI, in case you want to be more specific about condiments. The best part was the buttered, crispy-on-the-inside bun. Also got a strawberry shake which was good. I would say this place has decent quality food - one step up from fast food chains, one step down from homemade.

Saturday Morning Soccer World

Starting at 9:00 a.m. and going on throughout the afternoon, there is a hidden world of activity that many don't know exists, and are happily sleeping in oblivious of.

I'm talking about Big Country Soccer leagues.

The season now is Fall Soccer, lasting for 8 weeks. There is also a Spring season.

Cars arrive in a stream starting at 8:30, turning off of Maple Street onto the dusty gravel road under the entrance to the fields near South 27th. Parents and grandparents help children unload stadium chairs, coolers, regulation-size balls. Players are dressed in elaborate uniforms of bright neon, with matching patterned socks with the likes of stars or flames.

Competition is fierce, at least for some of the parents. Many of the younger kids are still caught up in the simple joys of kicking a ball and running. They make easy mistakes like, "Which goal belongs to our team again?"

Level of play can be high though and some of the girls and boys will go on to play in high school or college.

Until then, their 'fan clubs' (again, parents and grandparents) come to watch them, wearing team colors, some using umbrellas as a shield from the sun.

One girl had a pink blanket from her bed with her to spread on the grass, and I saw a woman carrying a box of donuts.

It's quite an event.

Resigned Sign

"There is nothing left to steal. Please stop cutting my fence." I can only imagine the stories behind this. Think about the time it took to stencil the sign and hang it. On Maple near Berry.

Abilene Sunsets

Seriously?! Can you believe the above?! They are glorious around here. This photo was taken from the alley behind our house. It's like free entertainment many nights. Plan your spot and time, get there, watch and enjoy.


"Dear God, I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday. That was cool!" Eugene (From "Children's Letters to God")

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Paramount Theatre

My, oh my! The "twinkling" sky. This place is rather ornate and gorgeous.

Small white lights set into a blue ceiling flickered on and off throughout the show, The Nutcracker, adding a romantic element to the production.

I found the detailed design flourishes of this building really a nice change from contemporary, style.

What a treat that this architecture has been preserved. Enjoy yourself more in the grand environment at one of the upcoming events.

Mezamiz Coffee Shop

A little oasis of picturesque seating, coffee and conversation along South 7th. The setting along Elm Creek provides a surprisingly woodsy view in back from the deck running along the back of the place. The interior offers cozy seating (couches and armchairs) mixed with an assortment of different-sized tables. It doesn't feel like one big, institutional room. A partial wall, sun nooks and an adjoining meeting room instead give a more home-like feel. Then there's the courtyard outside in the front. Part of the surrounding office complex, containing a couple of hair salons, an insurance agent, and some others - is called "The Cloisters" and whomever designed it must have had a serene contemplative place in mind. A running fountain with goldfish and plenty of greenery contribute to the relaxing vibe. Many ages and types of people come and go.

Donut Shops

BK Donuts (not sure what the BK stands for - I'd like to find out) is run by an Asian family. Fresh & tasty donuts in my opinion. Plus, it's kind of interesting to see what items will be in place in front of the Buddha's well-fed altar. Once, I saw a piled-high bowl of donut holes. Another time, a stacked tower of oranges. The owner's little granddaughter is often coloring at one of the tables, with a big basket of crayons in front of her.

AM Donuts is a local pastry institution apparently, with two locations. Find a good mix of locals, some still in pajamas, on any given morning to pick up pastries for breakfast. They have slightly larger-than-average sizes. The glazed donut holes seem popular, as well as the cinnamon rolls. I like the iced cake with sprinkles, and the chocolate old-fashioned.

Betty Rose's Little Brisket

Driving by with the windows down, you smell the meat cooking in the barbecue shed outside Betty Rose's on Rebecca. The effect of the fragrance is like when those cartoon fingers lead a character irresistibly by the nose. It smells so incredibly meaty and delicious. This place looks like nothing much from the outside, being as it's in a strip mall, next to a dry cleaners and a nail salon. Inside, red checked tablecloths on picnic tables, and Dr. Pepper memorabilia set the scene for a down-home dining experience. Their side dishes are good and their meat even better. It's a favorite local place, so be ready to wait in line when there's a special deal going on. I like their banana pudding and peach cobbler too.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

National WASP Museum

About an hour west of Abilene in Sweetwater.

“Grace under fire” took on new meaning Memorial Day weekend 2011 at the National WASP Museum in Sweetwater, Texas.

Twenty former World War II women pilots took their seats in the museum’s hangar for a performance of nearby Highland High School's one-act play about the life of Jackie Cochran, the first Director of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots organization.

Cochran was a contemporary of Chuck Yeager’s, and by all accounts cut from the same daredevil cloth, with extreme flying abilities. She was the first woman to break the sound barrier and won flying races in the late 30’s - 60’s against other elite men and women pilots.

The group of women in their 80’s and 90’s moved with a gracefulness and assurance that perhaps can be attributed to being members of the Greatest Generation with its focus on dignity and perseverance. Their contained, yet assertive panache was likely also because of their unique experiences as a result of being already determined, gifted people who overcame multiple odds and contributed selflessly to others.

A good example of desire and need combining, the women’s stories of becoming pilots involved a fascination with the sky and marked motivation and dedication to learn to fly at a time when not many people were doing so, not to mention many women.

Find some of their individual biographies on Wikipedia or at the museum website. I’m also curious about a documentary about Hazel Ying Lee the first Chinese American woman to fly for the United States military.

Around 1942, the women were recruited as experienced airplane pilots to help the war effort, for example by ferrying planes to forward locations or around the U.S. during 1943 and 1944.

Military training took place at Avenger Field in Sweetwater which is now the site of the museum and the butt of a joke in the script about the dust, wind, scorpions and rattlesnakes found in the area.

One former WASP wearing a sunshine yellow pantsuit, bent over from osteoporosis, slowly walks to her seat in the front row. She is instantly surrounded by a large group of adoring fans.

These high school actors are fascinated to meet her after researching her life and exploits while preparing for their play. She holds court for a few minutes and they all talk animatedly, using fist pumps and lots of smiles. The young girl actresses have their long brown or blond hair in rolled forties style or braids. The older “girls” in the audience have windblown white curls, a gray bob held with a clip, or a low chignon fastened with a decorative clasp.

Old and new - but the same - are represented by a female active-duty Air Force member in a camouflage uniform escorting one of the veterans to her seat.

Appreciation for service and sacrifice and a fun time were had by all. Thanks to much planning, organization and effort behind the scenes.

I have added this movie about the WASP to my netflix queque Fly Girls.

Museum website.

The play "The Fastest Woman Alive" adapted from the full-length version, written by Karen Sunde and published by Dramatic Publishing.