Archive for March, 2008

Center of the Universe

Monday, March 31st, 2008

On the west side of the square of my hometown, sandwiched between Butch Riggs barbershop and Bill Hanes boot shop, was S & Z Feed store. Earl Sawyer and Guy Zimmerman ran an emporium designed especially for the farmers and ranchers of the area. They stocked, of course all kinds of feed, as well as supplies and medicines for the farm trade including a place for the men to gather and swap tall tails of daring do. The feed store also bought most all of the produced and raised by the farmers and ranchers.

I was proud to work for these gentlemen. My job was to keep the brass disk embedded in the sidewalk in front of the store polished to a high luster. Among my other duties were, testing cream, counting eggs, weighing hides, stacking hay and shoveling oats and corn into bins. But my main, and most important task was polishing the brass plaque. I polished it the first thing each morning and the last thing at night. On muddy days it often got an extra rubbing during the day. In the center of the round disk was a large engraved “X”. Around the perimeter, in bold capitol letters were the words, CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. I knew it was the truth. I could stand with both feet planted on the disk, my eyes closed, arms extended and feel the world, the heavens, and all the universe swirl around me. Mr. Zimmerman told me in strict confidence, one could start from that brass plaque and go anywhere in the world or universe. I believed him.

Finally I grew up, left home, went to school, and opened a shop of my own. We didn’t cater to the farmer; I had other clients. But in those years I often felt uneasy. Things didn’t quite fit. I remembered the brass plaque. Perhaps that was it. I was living in an exocentric world. I resurveyed the universe. Sure enough, just as I suspected, the center was a little off from my youth. I found the center to be right in the middle of my shop. I embedded a brass disk of my own, with a “X” and everything.

I did feel better. For a while. But the uneasiness crept back into my tortured soul. I sold the shop and moved to Liberty Hill. I was relieved for a while. But I needed to know exactly where the starting place was. Where was the “X”? With much trepidation I again began surveying of the universe. I used Polaris as one benchmark and Scorpio as the second. For the third point of reference I found a USGS mark out past Llano. With lot of stake driving and chain dragging I worked many long hours. Each day I felt better. Success must surely be just around the corner.

I bet you can guess where I found the CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. Yep. You are right. Downtown Liberty Hill, Texas. I feel great! And if you get to feeling a little uneasy, nauseous, frustrated, just go downtown, stand on the brass plaque, close your eyes, extend your arms and feel the universe swirl about you. That is guaranteed to make you feel great.

A Eulogy for Pete

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Frank Edward “Pete” Ebeling, a life long rancher of Burnet County died February 26, 2008. Pete was born April 4th, 1922 at Shovel Mountain Community in southern Burnet County. Pete is survived by his wife of 53 years, Leta Ebeling. His sons Don, Mark and his wife Stephanie, Steve and his wife Julie, and daughter Marianne Ebeling also survive him. Pete and Leta have 9 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

Family and friends, we are here to celebrate Pete Ebeling’s life. Pete’s life was full and varied and he pursued it to the fullest. To quote a fellow gardener friend of his, Gary Rowland, “Pete Ebeling is what makes Burnet County unique.”
Pete was a rancher, farmer, gardener, student, and romantic. He was an adventurer,
philanthropist, athlete, collector, and most of all a dreamer.

Pete enjoyed ranching and seeing his goats belly high in grass and about ready to give birth to a new kid. Pete almost lived with his animals during that time of year. He always had a small length of rope in his pocket to pull a kid if needed. Once on the road to Mason to a goat show, with Leta, Buck and Robin, he spied a young heifer in a field, having trouble calving. Pete stopped, climbed the fence and pulled the calf with his trusty rope, then went on to the show. Later Pete was sorry he had not left the rope on the calf’s leg just to confound the unknown owner of the cow and calf.

Pete loved farming and planting his fields. He planted acres of peas, okra, and turnips. I don’t think he wanted that many vegetables, he just wanted to see if he could grow them and give them away. Leta said he once planted 10 acres of okra: they harvested the first fruit and then Pete turned his goats into the field. The goats harvested the rest.

Pete’s garden was a pleasant place to visit. It contained many of the plants listed in the seed catalogue, and grew with abundance. If you visited his garden you could not leave without an arm full of produce. With Leta’s help, there was always one row of zinnias blooming their heart out. Pete loved all the flowers.

Pete studied everything. History perhaps was his greatest interest. He went with Lewis and Clark all the way to the Pacific and back….several times. And he shared his wonder of that journey with us all….several times. But all category of books caught Pete’s mind. Medicine, adventure, humor, as well as pleasure.

Pete was and incurable romantic. That old man you ask? Emphatically yes. He loved to watch the coming of spring, the gentle rain on the tin roof, as well as the billowing of summer clouds. But he especially watched, in spring, for the first daisy blossom to take to Leta. In the dusty dryness of fall he might take Leta a bouquet of dry weeds. He was likely as not to have left a note on the table for Leta before he went to the pasture.

The open road was an adventure to Pete. On a trip to anywhere Pete might turn off the route and take a side trip just to see what lay over that hill or string of trees. And there is where he found many new lands and new people. One grand adventure was the buying of the old steel bridge that spanned the Colorado River at Kingsland. Pete hauled it to the ranch and has used the steel for all kinds of construction.

The word philanthropist usually means a lot of money: not this time. This time it means Pete’s generous heart. He gave to all the fruit, vegetables, and flowers from his fields and gardens. Should a passer by want to buy a bushel of peas, they always got two bushels. And if it were near mealtime he would insist they stay for dinner. Leta said she has cooked for people from around the world.

Pete excelled as an athlete. He was careful which sport he played. To Pete burning prickly pear was not a job, but a sport. Burning pear he once conjured up a lightening storm that lasted for days. Pitching washers was a game he enjoyed. He could sink a washer into the hole at 30 feet often enough to win most of his games. He once said “Its to bad the Olympics did not have a washer pitching contest. But Pete’s greatest sport was the game of “42”. I think he enjoyed playing 42 more that eating dinner. He often traded a few dominions with Alice just for the heck of it. He won some, and he lost some. The last time we played 42 with Pete, he drew 4 consecutive “84” hands. That pleased Pete. We even won some of those hands.

Pete collected things. Like old worn-out cars and trucks. He even managed to drive some them way past their prime. But what Pete really collected were friends. His neighbors, the Duncans and the Mannings were not neighbors, but rather friends. Some one once said if you walked down Park Road 4, you were in mortal danger of being fed and made into a friend. Pete has friends scattered in all points of the compass. And we are all pleased to be counted in that group.

Pete dreamed of many things. Pete dreamed of having a beautiful farm. A farm with more dirt than rocks. Pete dreamed of a soil that was deep and rich and could support any crop. Pete dreamed of living where it rained on time, and the sun shone just the right amount. He dreamed of a land where the breezes cooled his back, but the wind rarely blustered. He dreamed of a growing season that was gentle to crops as well as kind to the animals. Pete dreamed. Perhaps he has now found that land he dreamed of.