Saturday, October 31, 2009

24-0 and Still Counting

Dimmitt fell to the Mules last night, 56-0, which makes the winning streak rise to 24. And yes, I actually took notes, but I have a feeling my sports reporting career won't benefit much from the effort, but at least I will have some names to go with the plays.

Dimmitt started off the game with some pretty hot passes before our defense tightened up. A 15-yard penalty against Dimmitt moved us to their 15-yard line which Juan Sanchez turned into a touchdown, and with the point after we're ahead 7-zip. Dimmitt had the ball for about six minutes but couldn't score. Later Ryan DeLeon caught a great pass, about 70 yards, for the touchdown, but no extra point. We start the 2nd quarter with a touchdown on an Adrian Muniz reception and make the two point conversion. The score is now 21-0. We keep doing this bouncy punt, something called a squib kick, which seems to work better for us than an airborne punt. And it worked well for the Mules all night. Isaac Baca has fun going in for another touchdown, but we miss the PAT again. Bo Avia gives 110% making a tackle and getting up to do it again. And then Adrian Muniz gave everyone a smile when, after dropping a pass, dropping down to give Coach Wood a few push-ups out on the field. And Coach Wood smiled, too. Juan Sanchez carries the ball in for another TD, and with the 2 point conversion, the score is now 35-0. After that, Dimmitt tried a fake punt and made the first down, but had to actually punt after the next three plays. We did nothing great with the next three plays, and we got to punt again, too. Alas, I failed to catch the player's name, but someone made a good catch on a long pass, after which Adrian Muniz catches a 30 yard pass, add the PAT and with 10 seconds left, we have a 42-0 half time score.

This was our rescheduled Homecoming game, so at halftime we were treated to the combined high school and junior high bands and the homecoming queen coronation of Breann Baca (yes, older sister of RB Isaac Baca) and a nice program from the Halloween-costumed Dimmitt band. At this point, what with a 42 point lead and 42 degree or so weather, people exited like they were at a Tech game. We, of course, braved the elements to see how the game played out. I mean, I had notes to take and all...

The Mules started the 3rd quarter with a touchdown thanks to a 30-yard pass to Isaac Baca and a good point after. Skip to the 4th quarter when Baca again makes an amazing run to the 1-yard line, after which we score on a pass to DeLeon, make the point after for what turns out to be the final score of 56-0. And aside from an interception by Beau Avia and a good catch by Jonathan Garcia, the game winds down with the help of the clock running. I didn't know until this game that the decision to let the clock run is in the hands of the referee and the coach of the team that is behind. Makes sense.

Not too many Dimmitt fans made the trip over, but their team never gave up. They tried really hard for four whole quarters and their quarterback, Marty Puga, made some decent yardage and gave us a few scares on several plays. Their small band threw caution to the wind and played and played during the 4th quarter for everyone's enjoyment.

Whew! I don't know if taking notes is such a good idea. Makes for much more reading on your part, doesn't it? More than you really wanted to know, I suspect. Most people will check the newspaper or Internet for all the stats, which I hope to heavens I got right. I found it hard to concentrate on silly little details like what yard line the play started on, how many yards the pass or punt or run made, you know, stuff  that all hardcore football fans expect to be reported correctly. Well, I tried.

Next week is the biggie, the final game against long-time rival Friona. If I haven't bored  you to distraction with this installment, tune in next week for the final hurrah.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Banana Pudding

My daddy, God love him, loved to eat. Of all the good genes he blessed me with, I'm afraid I managed to get that trait. too. But I digress. This story is not about me; it is about him. And banana pudding.

Mother made wonderful banana pudding. Like most cooks, I make things like my mother made them and swear that her recipe for whatever dish is always the best and right way to make it. My family would defend to the death my macaroni and cheese, which naturally, is Mother's macaroni and cheese. I know this because the other day I tried a macaroni and cheese recipe I found in a magazine and no one would eat it. Really. But there I go digressing again.

Anyway, back to the pudding. As a young bride I made banana pudding for Bill, and it always looked and tasted like Mother's, but before it was all eaten, the bananas would turn black and the whole thing would get slimy. I finally asked her about it one day. What am I doing wrong? Why do the bananas get black?  To which she smiled and said, "Mine never has time to turn black. It never lasts long enough. Your father eats it all before then."

So two days ago I made banana pudding. Yesterday it was all gone. Not a black spot in sight. Bill has carried on the tradition well. His mother-in-law would have been pleased and smiled.  His father-in-law would have fought him for the last helping.

Mother's Banana Pudding (in her own words as she wrote it on the index card)

Mix together
     1cup sugar and 3 tbsp. flour-
     add to 3 egg yolks-well beaten-
          add- 2 cups milk
          1 tsp. vanilla
          1/4 tsp. salt
     cook over low heat til thickened
     layer vanilla wafers, bananas and pudding-top with meringue and bake til meringue is lightly brown

(The meringue is just like what you would put on a creme pie- three egg whites, three tablespoons sugar sprinkled in while the egg whites are beating, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar-also Mother's recipe. Beat on high speed til stiff peaks are formed. Brown in an oven set at 400 degrees. We think Cool Whip on top of banana pudding is a travesty-yep, not the way Mother always made it.)

My tip- I mix the ingredients in my glass mixing bowl and put it in the microwave, cooking for two minutes and stirring for as many times as it takes for it to thicken. Sure beats standing over the stove and possibly letting it burn in the pan. And we never put the pudding in the ice box because we think it tastes better at room temp.  It has never spoiled, and I assure you, even if it you put in the refrigerator, it still turns black if it isn't eaten soon enough.

Okay, so if I had been thinking ahead, I would have taken a picture of the pudding. But by the time I had the idea, you guessed it-the pudding was gone. This is the bowl I always use for banana pudding, and macaroni and cheese, for that matter. So we can never have those two dishes at the same meal. Isn't habit a funny thing?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mules Win Again, But It Was Not Pretty

The notch in the jock strap was a little harder to come by tonight. We traveled to Childress after a two-week layoff due to the Tulia forfeit, which may or may not have been the problem. The Mules won 34-26 but were off their game. Fumbled balls, dropped passes, missed passes, poor blocking; it was one of those nights. Momentum was never really on our side, even though the boys were able to capitalize on a few good breaks. I believe it was the second touchdown (I think I am going to have to actually take notes during the game; my memory has a tendency to lose place) that was called back for an illegal receiver down field, so the Mules marched back their fifteen yards and then ran basically the same pass play again and made it again, only the second time it counted. Later in the game we did the same thing- that is, run a pass play again to make up for the one that was called back, for holding that time. One of Isaac Baca's touchdowns was inspiring because he just kept on truckin' and eluding tackles and came up with six. Later in the game we also recovered the ball on about their ten or so yard line and were able to take it in for the score, which was one time the momentum was on our side. All the correct details and finer points can be read in the newspaper write-up because those guys did take notes, so I will stop before I garble too many of the finer points. I think it would be fair to say that Childress really wanted to win that game, but couldn't pull it out. Muleshoe fans showed up in good numbers for such a far away game.

The Mules' record now stands at 23-0.

Next week will be the postponed homecoming game when Dimmitt comes to town. Next week I will take notes...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mari and Me

Perhaps you've heard of the movie "Marley and Me?" Well, we have our own version going these days with a three-legged pit bull pup our grandson adopted. We have all fallen in love with this little dog, but, honestly, nothing is safe around her! Just this afternoon alone she has drug a box charcoal brickets out of the garage-for about the third time-spreading them all over the yard and tearing the box to shreds, also all over the yard; demolished the squeaky toy which was new just yesterday; chewed on tennis shoes; pulled a soaker hose off a shelf and out into the yard, and tried really hard to grab my camera out of my hands when I tried to take some pictures of her. And then there were the two accidents on the carpet. Yes, we are experiencing the joys of potty training again, with limited success today. Over the weekend she took out the screen off a long patio window trying to get in the house with us, literally broke a metal water faucet off its pipe, loosened the other water faucet with the timer on it causing water to go all over the place, chewed up a basket she discovered on a low shelf, mutilated a watering can, and the list just goes on and on. We keep putting things out of her reach-we think-and then she figures out a way to get to them anyway. She delights in trotting down the hall, head high, those oversized jaws displaying trophies found and vandalized from my computer room: skeins of yarn; shoes, socks, trash retrieved from the trash can; trinkets. I looked out to check on her the other day and couldn't find her, only to realize I was looking in the wrong place. She had figured out she could jump from a lawn chair to a small side table to the top of the patio table and have a much better view from there.

I watched the "Marley and Me" movie thinking, these people are crazy to keep a dog like that. And surely they wouldn't actually let him wreck their house that way. Guess what? This crafty little canine can wreak havoc before I realize it and make me love her anyway. Mari lost her leg to an infection, but she doesn't have any idea she's supposed to have a fourth leg. Doesn't slow her down a bit. She digs like a gopher, hops like Pepe LePew when she plays,  is a bit clumsy on sudden stops, but can do a roll back like a reining horse. Her little eyes twinkle and those ears go goofy, and it's really hard to get mad at her.

Mari is Colten's dog, but she spends most of the afternoon at our house during the school day. We would have never chosen a pit bull, mostly due to their violent reputation, I guess, but this one is quite the charmer, always happy to see us, and perfers being in the house with people. Colten and I googled characteristics of pit bulls and found a great website called American Pit Bull-What's Good About 'Em? What's Bad....The format starts with a section labeled "If you want a dog who..." and then goes into "If you don't want to deal with..." which I found very helpful. Among other things it said these dogs are destructive when bored (tell me about it!) and are strong-willed. They require lots of activity and social interaction, which we give her, but apparently she needs more to do-which is when she invents games, like chew up everything in sight,  and see  how many things will fit through the pet door.

So today we made a trip to the pet store for more squeaky balls, a supposedly indestructible chew toy, and picked up information about dog training class. Right now Mari is napping at my feet after a rousing game of squeaky ball keep-away. And tomorrow will be more fun and games. I can hardly wait!

FYI-I do recommend that website. All you have to do is google characteristics of ___ (whatever breed you are interested in) and you will get the same what's good-what's bad information as well as other good facts about the dog you have or want to get.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mules Add Another Win Without Even Sweating

Well, rats. Tulia forfeited the game scheduled  for tonight (October 16th), so I have no exciting game to tell about. Seems they lost kids to injury, sickness, perhaps some low grades, and I don't know what else, and they had to cancel. This was to be our homecoming, too, with a pregame meal, homecoming queen election, mums, the whole bit. But, as Coach Wood philosophically noted, it was one of those things over which we have no control, so just make another mark in the win column and prepare for the next game.

So the Mules now stand at 22-0, even though I fear it will forever have an asterisk beside it, either literally or unconsciously. But, hey, it was Tulia's choice, not ours.

And just so you know for future plans, the pregame meal will now be before the first home district basketball game on December 8th, and homecoming has been moved to October 30th against Dimmitt.

Next Friday the Mules travel the scenic route to Childress (whoever sets up the districts doesn't know how to read a map-Childress is about three hours away) and we'll see what happens then.

High Rise Condo or Grain Elevator?

Any grain producing area will have grain elevators. Since we have lots of land in production and traditionally  grow lots of wheat, corn, and milo, every little West Texas farming town has a skyline that includes one or three or so grain elevators where the grain is stored after harvest until it is sold. Tall buildings plopped down on top of vast expanses of flat land means that these elevators are prominent on the landscape and come into view long before crossing into the city limits.

I understand that early elevators were called  prairie cathedrals. I like this story better: My friend Elaine Bowman, who works for an oil-related company in Houston, came to Amarillo on a business trip. She was accompanied by a co-worker, very much an urban dweller, who was not impressed with our wide-open spaces, probably wouldn't recognize a grain elevator for what it is at the Houston Ship Channel,  and was aghast at what he saw as desolation and isolation until in the distance he spied a structure looming on the horizon. "Finally!" he brightened up, "Civilization at last. I see condos coming up in front of us." I don't remember how Elaine broke it to him that what he was seeing had nothing to do with high rise living accomodations.

Then there was  the man from the Austin area who had to ask if that big building on the highway in Muleshoe was a cotton gin or a grain elevator. There is a world of difference in those two mainstays of agricultural life, so I made sure he was treated to a tour of each.

But I also need to share Joe Bob Stevenson's story about the time he attended a grain convention, also in Amarillo, and struck up a conversation with a sweet young thing in the hotel lobby (this, of course, before he was married) who asked him what he did for a living. They were at a grain convention, right, so all he said was that he ran an elevator-which he did, for King Grain in Muleshoe, thinking she would make the connection-to which she replied, "Doesn't it get boring just riding up and down all day?"

So now fast forward a year or two, and I am on my way to a national Gifted/Talented convention for teachers in New Orleans. The first afternoon I had some time to see the city before the meetings started, so I signed up for a Gray Line bus tour of historical sites. Three men boarded the bus and two of them sat across from me. The third one asked if the empty seat by me was taken, which is wasn't, and I of course offered it to him. We introducted ourselves and established that he was from North Carolina and I was from Texas, and I asked what brought him to town. He said he and his friends were there for an elevator convention. With Joe Bob's story lurking in my memory, I launched into a discussion of crops and blathered on about elevators and agriculture and I forget what else while he is looking at me with a blank expression on his face. When I ask him about crops in his part of the world, he pauses slightly, and says, "You don't understand. I run a regular elevator."

After that I let him initiate the conversation topics. He already thought my elevator didn't go all the way to the top; I saw no need to make it worse.

The first picture was taken looking west from the top of this elevator which is right on highway 84 going through Muleshoe. The building to the left is the Chamber of Commerce office.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mules Roll On

The flu is alive and well in Muleshoe, just like everywhere else, and even though it benched some Mules, the healthy ones persevered and won their first district game with Floydada; the score-46-14. Alas, we committed the two-percenter sin (for those of you not steeped in Aggie lore, two-percenters are those slackers who don't support their team 100 percent; we don't commit that sin very often) and did not travel the two hours to Floydada to cheer them on, but it doesn't look like they missed us. The problem is, though, that I can't very well comment on the game, not having been there. We listened on the radio, but I was in and out of the room too much to really follow the dynamics of the game. Well, I could make something up, but I'm not that good at fiction.

That makes it 21 straight wins for the Mules. Next week Tulia comes to town for our homecoming.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Pity Party Encounters Gloria's Funeral

I spent most of the day Wednesday in bed. I wasn't sick. Oh, no, that would have made sense. Instead, I was doing much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands, sniveling about growing old and having no real reason to get up. What was the point? Sure, I have a family to look after, cooking to do, taxi service to run. But for some reason that day I was emotionally drained and full of despair. And nothing seemed to be going right: I dropped or fumbled everything I picked up; I was peeved at my grandson (and who hasn't been peeved at a 15 year-old boy from time to time?); the pizza I had for lunch didn't seem to taste all that good; and the weather was gray and overcast, which didn't help any. My to-do list was long but mundane. I simply couldn't muster the energy to do anything. I was totally wasting a day of my life, a life that gets precious when there is less of it to waste, as Bonnie Raitt sings in one of her songs.
When I was teaching I used to wish I had unlimited time to work outside, play with my cactus, do needlepoint, make scrapbooks, read just for fun. I retired in 2004 after 31 years of teaching. Now I have all the time I want to play with the cactus, do needlepoint, make scrapbooks, whatever. And guess what? It all seems rather pointless now. At least it did on Wednesday.

And then today I attended the funeral of Gloria Heredia, a member of our church who died after a two year battle against cancer. Heavens- I have wasted more days of my life than she spent actively engaged in battling the cancer. She was 45 years old. Forty-five. Way too young to die. Her daughters, Esther (a former student of mine) and Jennifer (a former student for a brief time before a schedule change) said their mother made the best of every day and never asked "Why [did this happen to] me?" She was one of these rare people who seem to be pleasant and always smiling , a feat I have yet to master.

So about this time I am thinking, shame on me; who am I to think I have no reason to get up in the morning? At least I will have the option to get up in the morning. And then the 23rd Psalm was read as one of her favorite Bible passages. My cup runneth over. Gloria knew her cup runneth over, even with the cancer. We fed family and friends, probably a hundred, after the funeral. She obviously touched many lives. I don't have cancer, so my cup has room for even more stuff. I started making a mental list of all the family, friends, experiences, pets, material possessions, good health, everything I have been blessed with by the grace of God, and realized that my cup was absolutely overflowing with so much more than I deserve. That made all my whining the day before seem petty indeed.

The nurses commented that Gloria died with a smile and an air of contentment about her. Her faith and will to live a full life kept her strong to the end.

So, dear readers, I suspect we all need, from time to time, to look at how our cups do indeed runneth over and make up our minds not to waste even one more glorious day that we will be given. And smile.

Godspeed, Gloria. Thanks for your life; thanks for the lesson.