Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving is a Road Trip

What's a holiday without lots of drive-time? Ours started Wednesday with seven hours to Lake LBJ to break up the trip before going to Kyle on Thursday, which was a short hour and a half drive. But then Friday we managed to turn that hour and a half drive into a six hour scenic stroll back to the lake. Well, part of that was a stop at Cabela's and two cactus nurseries. But that didn't stop us; Colten and I then drove the short fifteen minutes back to Marble Falls that night to see "The Blind Side," which turned out to be well worth the drive, as far as we were concerned, and I highly recommend it. We topped the whole thing off with the seven hours back to Muleshoe on Saturday. My bottom may never be the same.

But I have no cool stories to tell about the trip. Nothing out of the ordinary-food, family, football-the three main topics of Thanksgiving, and we were blessed with an abundance of all three. Life is good.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

We Buried Pedro Jesus Today

Jesus came to live with us after his family made an abrupt move and did not come back for him. His family happened to be of Mexican descent, so we named him Pedro Jesus and affectionately knew him as our bilingual cat. I had him neutered, brought his shots up to date, and he was very content with his new home and his six stepsisters, the six female cats who also found our house as strays and came to claim us as  family. He was a young cat, about a year and a half old, a big, strong, handsome cat. By his actions it became obvious to me that he came to our house as much for the companionship as the free food. He was very friendly and enjoyed being with us outside. He would come greet me every day as I walked on the walk path behind the house.

We found him this morning in front of the barn door, the barn being a place of safety and comfort to him. His only injuries were on his head and mouth, but they were severe. I suppose he was hit by a car somehow, but if so, it was a strange sort of hit. He let us put him in a box and cover him with a towel and let me rub and reassure him as we rushed to the vet's office. Dr. Garten anesthetized him so he wouldn't hurt during the x-ray, which confirmed our worst fears: his jaw was broken, he had skull fractures, which surely meant brain damage,  and most of his teeth were gone. We had no choice. He had made his way back to us for help and putting him to sleep was the only real way to help him.

He is resting comfortably now under the cherry trees. I wrote a good bye letter, sealed it in a plastic bag, and put it with him. He was only with us a few months, but I miss him already.

Godspeed, Jesus.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Get My S--- Together Story

Elizabeth Watson was an imposing presence, well over six feet tall with auburn hair. Sort of an Eleanor Roosevelt-looking  kind of woman. She spent 53 years in education, mostly in  Muleshoe, teaching  primarily at the junior high level, and later becoming the curriculum director. She was the curriculum director until the powers that be gave her a promotion and the more impressive-sounding title of Assistant Supterindentent for Instruction. They even renamed the junior high in her honor. She contributed much to the students of Muleshoe over the years and dedicated herself to her job.

Despite her commanding presence and earnestness of purpose,  Mrs. Watson was probably the most naive, innocent person on the school's payroll, which worked in our favor when she invited a woman named Toody Bird (really) to speak to us at the first day faculty inservice session one year. Toody Bird was quite the education icon in her Austin circle of influence, where she was then a counselor at Westlake High School. As short as Mrs. Watson was tall, as outspoken as Mrs. Watson was proper, she was most entertaining as she shared with us the wisdom of her experiences. Mrs. Watson could see the woman had much to teach us, but she was apparently unprepared for Toody's devilish sense of humor and total disregard for worrying about offending someone when she had something to say.

Toody got the ball rolling by telling us that she found a note on a notepad in her motel room that said, "For a good time, call Elizabeth Watson at ..... We all laughed gleefully; Mrs. Watson turned about three shades of red. Then there was Mrs. Bird's comment about not wanting to go to the doctor because they just scared the hell out of her, which brought more laughter, more red face, and Mrs. Watson's  frantic glance at the school board members to see how they were taking all of that profanity.  But then came the coup de grace, the story that lived on way past the inservice day.

Seems there was a student who would show up early to school and sit outside Mrs. Bird's office. She would just sit quietly and pleasantly and then leave when the bell rang. Figuring that she should live up to her title of school counselor, Toody finally asked the girl if she needed something or would like to talk to someone, to which the girl thanked her and said no, she just liked to sit there in the morning before class started so she could, you know.. and at that point she gestured with her hands making the shape of a box. Toody looked at her and frowned, trying to understand. The girl made the box gesture again to no more recognition on Toody's face. She finally gave up and said, "You know, Miz Bird, get my shit together."

Mrs. Watson probably had nightmares for years over that. The faculty, however, relived the moment with gusto for years after that by making the box gesture to get the same point across. There are still a few of us around who can read that sign language. And we all have days like that girl when we need just a little time to organize things so we can handle the crap we might have to deal with on any given day. Which was, of course, the purpose of the story: take the time to prepare for the day and be willing to ask questions to really understand what someone is thinking.

Mrs. Watson died in 2002 at the age of 86, but her legacy lives on.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

No Joy in Muleville

There is no joy in Muleville; the mighty Mules' winning streak has struck out. River Road dealt a disappointing blow Friday night beating the Mules in the last two minutes of the game. Final score: 25-21.

We missed the kick-off; the ticket line was five people deep and about sixty feet long with a grand total of two ticket windows-kind of like Wal-Mart during rush hour. River Road scored first and ended the first quarter 6-0. The second quarter was no better, in fact worse, since River Road scored again. The half ends with a replay due to a penalty called on the defensive team, River Road, since a time period, or a game, for that matter, can't end on a defensive penalty. The Mules throw a Hail Mary pass that gets intercepted, which could have made things really bad, but thank goodness, the Mules stop the perpetrator, and the half ends 12-0, a situation we have not seen in many a game. Third quarter begins with hope even though the Mules throw an interception that should have been a touchdown. River Road can't make their first down and when they punt, Larry Richardson runs it back 90 yards to score, which was very exciting, and the Mules are back in the game-12-7. Then later we throw another interception but also make an interception  and score early in the 4th quarter. The score is now 12-14 and we are ahead. We even make another touchdown but it is called back on an illegal substitution. But another touchdown is made after River Road is hit with a penalty on a horsecollar tackle and we score, so it is now 12-21, our lead.

So at this point things are looking pretty good, right? Wrong. Fickle momentum leaves our good graces and River Road scores with 3:20 on the clock. It is now 18-21, and we could still win, until we couldn't handle River Road's onside kick, and River Road got the ball back, and yes, they passed for the cementing touchdown, and we are behind 25-21. As I recall, we don't have a good record with onside kicks. We finally got the ball back with barely enough time to create a miracle, but couldn't make a first down and lost the ball; therefore the game was all over with 58.6 left on the clock.

The Mules may have lost the game, but they still built an historic 25-1 winning streak that was great fun for all of us and an experience the players will never forget. Shoot, it is an experience none of us will forget.

Way to be, Mules. We are all proud of you.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Playoff Info and The Water Tower Story

The Mules will play River Road in Plainview on Friday, November 13, at 7 pm. Hmm, Friday the 13th... bad for River Road, right?

Now, that water tower story. The game between Friona and Muleshoe in the 2000 football season was no less anticipated than last Friday's game, and the Mules won that one, too, 23-14. Four of the boys on that team, the team that made history by making it to the state semifinals that year, thought that game should also be immortalized in history. Well, that and they wanted to rub it in just a bit. So they did what seemed like a really good idea at the time. They gathered paint, necessary equipment, and left under cover of darkness on a road trip to Friona. And sure enough, the rest is history. That score stayed up there for several years; it's probably still up there for all I know, but I haven't looked lately; the water tower is not on my usual path through town.

It is, however, close to the nursing home, which is how the painters were IDed. Seems some folks at the nursing home were able to get the painters' license plate number and alerted the Friona police department, who alerted the Muleshoe police department, who called the perpetrators in for a little visit. I wasn't there, but it seems restitution was discussed, a fine imposed, and punishment in the form of painting over their own handiwork was considered, but in the end, the original artwork was preserved as motivation for future Chieftain teams when Muleshoe showed up on their schedule again.

Names will not be mentioned to protect the guilty, but I don't think it is any secret in Muleshoe who did it. It is one of those war stories that is remembered fondly. Just ask Lincoln, Jeff, Kyle, or Chance.

Oops. Did I say too much?

Friday, November 6, 2009

The 25th Notch-Mule Mania is Still Alive and Well

We were in the middle of a long line of red taillights streaming from Muleshoe to Friona and arrived thirty minutes before kickoff, and the stands were already full. We managed to find seats, but it was standing room only after that. I dutifully took notes throughout the game, but heck, the game came down to the last 2 minutes. By the end of the first quarter the Mules were behind 7-0, a new experience for them this year. Friona had the ball for more than six minutes that quarter, and we couldn't seem to get things going. Early in the 2nd quarter Friona scored again, but 26 seconds later the Mules scored for the first time, so it is 14-7. Halfway into the 3rd quarter we finally scored again on a nice run, and it is 14-14. After that we got our first break with an interception which led to a touchdown, and the Mules were finally ahead 21-14. The 4th quarter was filled with major fourth down plays by the Mules' defense, and then the Mules made one more touchdown with 2:53 on the clock. The score is now 28-14.

And this is when things got sticky. Friona completed an unexpected pass play and moved down field. The defense held them for two plays and a flag, but Friona still managed to score, so now it is 28-21 I think this is about the time that the clock stopped when it shouldn't have for about 15 seconds, so Friona had the gift of 15 more seconds to work with. Friona, as expected, kicked an on-side kick and recovered it, much to our dismay, with 1:09 on the clock-and here is where 15 more seconds off the clock would have come in handy. It is then 4th and 17 for Friona with 49.9 on the clock. They pass; it's complete. Seventeen seconds on the clock and here comes another pass, only this time it is knocked down. Then another pass knocked down, and another with 13.9 on the clock, another down, and the game is over, thank goodness! Final score: Mules 28, Friona 21.

At this time I am not sure of opponent or place of the upcoming playoff game; we think it will be River Road and play in Amarillo. But if you will check back tomorrow, I will have that information verified. And I will tell you a little tale of another big win over Friona that involves the Friona water tower.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Silence is an Endangered Commodity

So I'm sitting here in my retina doctor's office-vitreoretinal specialist is the official title-laboring with dilated eyes to read an article in Newsweek-yes, that liberal cheerleader magazine whose subscription won't be renewed when it runs out in April but which sometimes has articles I find interesting-while trying to block out the drone of cell phone conversations going on around me, the general noise of people, and the incessant drivel coming from  the ubiquitous waiting room TV. How ironic is it that the topic of the article,"The Devil Loves Cell Phones," by Julia Baird (Newsweek 11-2-09, page 28), is being played out all around me?

Cell phones are bad enough, but it's the unnecessary TVs that drive me crazy, what with the smug talking heads yakking about banal psuedo-news items only occasionally throwing in a real news tidbit. The powers that be always seem to tune into one of the news stations, for fear of offending someone with the choice of an actual show-which would be just as bad because none of it is needed. And the volume is turned up just enough to be irritating and whiny. Nobody really listens; nobody really cares; yet these TVs show up all over the place.  I have been known to mute the set; what I'd really like to do is throw it out the door.

The article's arguments made in favor of more silence in our lives work for me. I do watch certain TV shows, but not at someone else's expense. I have Sirius radio in the car and enjoy it, but there are days when I never turn it on. Driving in solitude is sometimes just what I need to collect my thoughts, get my s--- together (and there is a story behind that, too), or just have the chance to do what Pogo used to do: "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits." It comforts the soul.