If you ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it...But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.
--Frank Lloyd Wright
"Five minutes later Selby emerged from her house newly showered, hair in a high ponytail, wearing jeans and a fitted red t-shirt that said “Aged to Perfection” under a sketch of a wine bottle. She climbed into the little red truck and turned the radio volume up to ‘blast’ before weaving through downtown, out
Down the street, she could see the ramshackle white front of Gruene Hall. The establishment took pride in being the oldest continuously operating dancehall in
Selby pulled open the 1940’s era screened door and walked into the front room. A chalkboard sign behind the bar read Cash$ Only!$ and rough plank walls were lined with black and white pictures of musicians past. A young guy in a green Mid-Tech ball cap manned the cash register, dispensing beers as fast as he could get the money. A short line of college-aged kids in jeans snaked out from his station. Other patrons wandered between the front room and the big hall.
She joined the line in time to see a bearded face appear in the open window between the bar and the main hall. “How ‘bout a long-neck?”
The Mid-Tech student reached into the cooler. “Coming right up.”
The ball cap turned to Selby, “What’ll you have?”
“What’s going on today?”
“CD debut party, the Texas Crazies.”
“When does the music start?”
“Whenever they get around to it, I guess. What’ll you have?”
She read the labels on the row of empty bottles on the bar behind him. “Shiner Bock.”
He pulled out a bottle and popped the top.
She gave him a bill, putting change in a jar on the counter before taking her beer and wandering into the warehouse-sized music hall. The shutters were flipped down against the building outside and sunlight spilled through the wide openings, lighting long rows of narrow tables and benches.
Over the years patrons had carved their initials and romances into the tables until the carvings formed a hieroglyphic of beer-fueled history. Except for that, the scene reminded Selby of an old-fashioned camp revival meeting hall. Everything was hand-hewn—walls, ceilings, floors, tables and benches. The idea made her smile. A been-there-and-back temple to music.
The first blooms of our oxblood lily (Rhodophiala bifida) opened on September 4th. Folks in these parts call them Schoolhouse Lilies because they bloom the week that children go back to class.
The original bulbs were brought to the Texas Hill Country by German settlers well over a century ago. It's amazing to think that the bulbs survived the journey, the planting in alien soil and then over one hundred years of volatile Texas weather. Now every September, the older Hill Country towns light up with lilies, red waves of friendship flowing from neighbors dividing and sharing decade after decade.
What a present our blooms were after so many months of drought! I originally planted the bulbs in a front bed three years ago--before I knew the books were wrong, the books that said deer don't eat lilies. Mine were regularly grazed and never had a chance to bloom. But amazingly, they didn't die.
So this year at Easter, a time before we knew the coming months would be a blast furnace, we renovated the front bed and transplanted the lilies to a bed where they got better soil and were surrounded by plants deer don't like. The lily-snacking ended. But in the scorch of summer, the foliage died to the ground. And I knew the lilies had finally given up. Too much too hard too long.
Then on September 4th, when we walked out for our first sunset-porch-sit since May, we found the flowers radiant in ruby glory, testament to the power of life.
She stayed with her folks during the renovations, which took twice as long as she’d planned and cost twice as much as she’d budgeted. Selby worked on the renovation like a job, riding her bike up to the house by eight in the morning, lunch sack in her basket. She wanted to do most of the work herself, hiring help only when she needed it. And when she started on the kitchen, she needed it.
Her father kept his weekly breakfast group updated on her progress and pitfalls. The guys met every Friday morning at Union Street Station, home of “56 Varieties of Omelet and Don’t Ask for a Substitution” fame. Evan Schwartz, a stout, red-faced Rotarian who kept up with everyone else’s lives and never tired of his own opinions, thought she ought to hire his son-in-law, Lucas. “So he can afford to send my granddaughter away for camp.” The group guffawed since the son-in-law’s inadequacies were one of Evan’s favorite themes. However, after the huevos rancheros and