Tuesday, August 31, 2010


This little black kitten showed up in our yard on July 2, 2004, afraid of nothing and determined that this would be her new home. Bill thought we had enough cats, I think we had three then, and did his best to shoo her away. She had no fear of him or his weed-eater and hung around long enough to make it official: she was indeed home.

She had been here about a week, and we still had not named her. I had a batch of peaches Bill was peeling and I was freezing. He had loads of help from the little black kitten, which, looking back on it now, was just a precursor to her behavior when someone comes to work on my computer and she insists on helping. Well, being in the way, but you get my drift. Bill pushed her away one more time and said, "I guess we might as well name her Peaches. She seems to like them." And it stuck.

She had not been here too long when she broke a back leg. We have no idea how it happened, other than we found some things on the floor in the garage that had fallen from a high shelf, so maybe she tried to jump up there and fell down along with things from the shelf. I dutifully took her to the vet and they set the break and put a cast on the leg.

Well, we hadn't been home an hour before she figured out a way to pull that cast off, so back we went for a redo. I think she managed to get it off once more before deciding it wasn't worth it and left it alone. She healed nicely, but I think it curbed her desire to jump in the highest of places.

She is a funny little cat; for the most part her method of communication is a growl. She asks to be petted, gets in my face, and then when I try to cuddle and pet, she fusses and bites and jumps down. It definitely has to be her idea. Her favorite place, the only place she will actually jump in my lap and curl up, is when I am in the bathroom. Then when I am ready to get up, she gets mad and fusses at me before jumping down. Go figure.

Peaches is six years old now and shows no sign of changing her method of communication, but she has become more needy of attention and makes sure she is wherever we are, just to make sure she doesn't miss anything. I guess cats are suseptible to FOMO (fear of missing out) just like people.

I am glad she decided that we were the family she wanted, because we would have been the ones to miss out-on knowing her.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Quest for Another Perfect Season Begins

The Mules traveled to Shallowater Friday night, August 27th, in search of victory number one. And they got it, but only after much dropping of passes, gathering of penalties, and finding their rhythm. Under the guidance of Cooper Washington as quarterback, a new job for him, and later Beau Avila, the Mighty Mules managed to get their act together and overcome Shallowater's momentum to win 27-13. The game was probably typical for the first game of a season, lots of mistakes, players getting used to new positions, nervousness and anticipation, but in the end, they settled down and pulled it out.

Next week the Mules play Portales here at 8:00. This will be the first game in the newly remodeled Benny Douglas Stadium, which now sports a beautiful new artifical turf field, which really looks crisp with its black and white logo surrounded by that really green fake grass. The stadium also has a new track, new concession stand, new restrooms, new home stands, and new press box. The pre-game meal is Mexican pile-on, one of the better pre-game menus as far as I am concerned. Crisp fall weather, a meal and entertainment in a new facility; not a bad way to spend a Friday night.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yes, That Big Apple

If Washington , DC is light, spread out, and all about history, New York is dark, crowded, and all about money. We took a Grey Line bus tour of the city, which was the thing to do, and it seemed that every fact, of which there were many, the tour guide told us had to do with money-how much this building cost to build, how much this apartment cost to rent or buy, or what rich or famous person lived there or owned the building. We also took a Circle Line boat tour around the island of Manhattan, another good move. We went by the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, numerous famous buildings, Yankee Stadium, the United Nations, World Trade Center area, and under twenty bridges.

Again, I took more pictures than you care to see, so I will share a few of the ones I like best.

We stayed at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, which was right on Times Square, which turned out to be a good choice because we were centrally located. Colten saw lots of things on Times Square that we don't see in Muleshoe, like a singing cowboy with very little on but his boots and hat, wall to wall people from all walks of life, enormous video billboards, and you can imagine the rest. Well, no, I don't think you can unless you have been there. The on-going show of mankind was amazing.

I tried to take pictures of things we would not see at home, and I have yet to see a rooftop garden in Muleshoe.

I see pictures of Central Park with grass fields and skyscrapers in the background, so I thought this would give a different view of the park. This wide esplanade takes visitors out of Shakespeare Park, which has statues of Shakespeare and some of his characters, and plaques with lines from his plays.

After a couple of hours of lines, we finally made it to the top of the Empire State Building. To the right of the city stands the Statue of Liberty. People were lined up three deep at the rail to see the city and take pictures, so we had to wait even after getting in to enjoy the view.

Ground Zero now just looks like another construction site as they are rebuilding and beginning the 911 memorial. But they had a gift shop/museum that displayed pictures of the event as it unfolded and models of the memorial. They also had this small replica of the Statue of Liberty that mysteriously appeared at one of the firehouses close to the scene. Over time people added mementoes and memorials to the statue which now stands in this gift shop.

You won't see this in Muleshoe: garbage piled up right in front of the store waiting for pick-up the next day. We saw it all over town, in front of fancy stores and restaurants right along with the more average places. Perhaps some areas in New York have alleys, but downtown Manhattan isn't one of them.

This shot was also taken from the Empire State Building. I like the contrast of the buildings with all the cabs and other vehicles. This is pretty representative of the city.

Our bus tour took us to Harlem where we saw the Apollo Theater, where many of the black performers we enjoy got their break and went on to become icons in the music world.

You are seeing New York on your right; New Jersey on your left. This was one of the views we had from the tour boat.

Another view from the tour boat.

Ellis Island is one stop we felt like we didn't have time to make since our time was limited and it deserved more time than we could give it. If I ever get back up that way, it will be one of the first places I will visit.

To go up into the Statue of Liberty tickets have to be requested six months to a year ahead of time, and we didn't know to do that. But to me the beauty of the statue is not going in it but seeing it from the water, so we were just pleased to go by it.

This is a huge interactive billboard on Times Square advertising a brand of clothing called Forever 21. The girl you see takes pictures of the crowd, live, and then shows them and you try to find yourself in the crowd. Then she comes on and paints over the last picture she has shown, and the whole process starts over again. In this one Colten has on a pink shirt and I have on white. Can you find us?

We finished our trip by riding Amtrak back to Washington, DC, and flying Southwest Airlines home. It was a great trip. It as also great to be home.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Liles Go to Washington

The city of Washington, DC, is light, spread out, and all about history. It is the heart of our country, and every American should see it.

We did a darn good  job of seeing most of the main attractions, but it became a case of so many buildings and monuments, so little time. We walked almost everywhere, took rather expensive taxis when we just flat ran out of steam, and rode the Metro, their subway, twice. We discovered that many of the major attractions required a ticket, for the sake of crowd control, but the tickets were free. Wait in line for tickets, then wait in line to use your ticket. We also discovered that to take the White House tour, we should have applied for tickets six months in advance with our congressman. But the outside of it was good enough for us. We did manage to get a special Capitol tour with the help of Congressman Randy Neugebauer. We made all the Smithsonian buildings except Arts and Industries, which was closed for rennovations.

I took many more pictures than you would care to see, so I will just share some of the highlights with you. And again, I encourage you to go see the city for yourself. You will spent a boatload of money and wear yourself out, but your heart will swell with pride and patriotism, and your heart will break when visitng monuments honoring the lives lost to protect the United States of America. God bless them all.

That's the Lincoln Memorial in the distance, framed by part of  the World War II Memorial

The Washington Monument and the Reflection Pool.

The Viet Nam Memorial was the most emotional monument for me.

The Smithsonian Castle was beautiful and architecturally different compared to the other Smithsonian buildings. The exhibit when we were there was of Madeleine Albright's book Read My Pins and the many pins and brooches she wore while serving as Secretary of State.

The Library of Congrress is a beautiful building, like no library you have ever seen before.

The Spirit of St. Louis flies in the Smithsonian Museum of  Air and Space.

The city at night is equally impressive. This is the fountain at the World War II Memorial.

This is the view from atop the Washington Monument. Notice that the buildings are all about the same height. I wasn't told of a building code, but I suspect there is one and all the buildings have to be under a certain height so that nothing overshadows any of the monuments or the Capitol building. And notice that overall the city looks white or beige.

Julia Child's kitchen can be found in the Museum of American History. Another interesting exhibit in that building was the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner," complete with the story of the battle and how it all happened. No pictures were allowed for that one.

This arch marked the entrance to the Conservatory, the only building that did not require going through security check. I guess they figured no one would care to sabotage plants.They even had a nice collection of cactus. I could have much spent more time there, but it was time to head for New York by that time.

Which we did, on Amtrak, and we had that nice ride through five states I mentioned earlier. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Escape from Amtrak

We flew into Baltimore last week to visit Washington DC and later New York City. I have pleasant childhood memories of riding the train from Rosenberg to Ft. Worth where my grandparents would pick me up for a summer vacation with them in Olney. So to add to the list of the many experiences we expected to have on this trip, we chose to ride the Amtrak train into both cities. Riding Amtrak provided us with more than we had bargained for.

Amtrak Station

The whole thing started when we landed in the rain at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)  and had to wait about twenty minutes before they were willing to open the door to connect to the concourse, because of equipment getting wet, I suppose. This of course shortened the hour we had planned on  to catch the shuttle and make it to the Amtrak station for the forty-minute trip into DC. That station was a real let-down, small, poorly arranged, dark, crowded with people and shrouded in a cloud of disenchantment. The two employees behind the enclosed glass office didn't seem particularly happy to be there and weren't getting into any hurry to help anyone. Bill tried to access the Amtrak automated ticket machine with the bar code on the reservations we had printed off the website, to no avail, and wasn't real happy by the time he finally got tickets from the sullen woman behind the glass. Then we had to rush through construction to find the right train, which we had just missed, and boarded another one going to the same destination. It was full and the three of us-Colten went, too-had to sit wherever we could find an empty seat. Which is not always a bad thing, since talking to people from other places is usually interesting.

We had not gone but a mile or two, once we finally started, late, when we rolled to a stop and sat there. And sat. And sat. Finally the intercom came on, and we were told there was trouble up ahead because of the storm that had blown through, the same storm that had delayed our disembarking from the airplane. Then there were other obscure announcements, more sitting, and occasionally some minor movement of the train. And more sitting.

The not so pretty trees we looked at for four hours.

Eventually we were told the storm had knocked out the power up ahead and in DC and they couldn't run the trains because the signals were out. By now the noise level rose and the patience level fell as we realized we would be stuck in this train for no telling how long. It got hot. Rumors circulated as to when we might finally be moving again. Apparently the man serving in the cafe car suffered the brunt of the complaints about the situation, over which he had no control, and in desperation started handing out free soft drinks trying to keep tempers down. I learned all about the family of the man sitting next to me, who happened to be from San Antonio. Colten said the man behind him answered a call on his cell phone with the greeting, "You have reached Hell." There was no view from the window to help entertain or distract us because we were looking at a wall of not very pretty trees. Considering I had heard other stories about Amtrak trips run amuck, I began to question our decision to ride the train and was not looking forward to the other three times we were to be on it.

Our forty-minute train ride turned into four hours, but I will have to say once we started rolling, it was nice and fast. The scenery wasn't the greatest-I was expecting to see more countryside, I guess-as the tracks went through the less than scenic parts of the cities, as most train tracks do, but it was still interesting. And really fast.

The lobby area of Union Station in Washington, DC. We ate at this restaurant on the return trip.

The front corridor at Union Station.

The front of Union Station.

But Union Station in Washington, DC, made up for the puny, unpleasant little cubby-hole we started with. It was beautiful, spacious, and massive, like all the monuments and government buildings we saw for the next two days.

In all fairness to Amtrak, I will have to say that the storm that caused all the trouble really had been a pretty bad one, as we watched on the news that night all the coverage of downed trees and intersections with no traffic signals, and other havoc wreaked by the storm.

Two and a half days later, the ride from Union Station to Pennsylvania Station in New York made up for that first ride in Hell. We had no trouble boarding for this ride, and we discovered they have something called the Quiet Car, and they meant it. No cell phone conversations, no loud talking, no acting stupid. It was really nice. This time we left on time and had no delays. And we all sat together. A fun part of this ride was traveling through five states on the way to our destination: Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and then New York.

Amtrack train underground at Pennsylvania Station.

When it came time for the trip back to DC and on to Baltimore to catch the plane for home, we were seasoned travelers (not!) and knew to get on the Quiet Car, which we were told was at the end of the train. So we rushed to the last car and settled in smugly, proud of ourselves for knowing what to do this time. We noticed that the space between seats was wider, but it didn't register with us why the seats were more spacious until the conductor noted on our tickets that we were traveling coach and this was the Business Car. So we had to move to the next to the last car to ride in the Quiet Car.  As we were making the move, I noticed that both cars were neatly labeled, if we had just bothered to read...

Colten in the Quiet Car.

So in all fairness I will have to say that after our escape from that very first experience with Amtrak, it wasn't bad at all. Wonder what the chances are of Amtrak running a shopping special from Muleshoe to Lubbock?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Welcome to the Dari Delite, Home of the Hershey Burger

Mention Hershey Burger to anyone who lived in Muleshoe from 1954 to 1980, and you will get a delighted, surprised look, a smile, and a comment about how good a Hersey Burger tasted. And if you let them, they will also talk about the Bertieburger and the Twin Dog and tell you how great they were.

As far as I know, Muleshoe is the only place that can lay claim to the Hersey Burger, dreamed up by Bertie Purcell, proprietor of the Dari Delite Drive-In.

Bertie and Pat

I finally had the chance to find out first hand just what all the fuss was about when I went to Park View Nursing Home here in Muleshoe to visit with Bertie herself, along with her daughter, Pat Purcell Young, who is also a friend of  mine. Pat had worked at the Dari Delite as a teenager and was very well-versed in the dishes that made the place a landmark. She was also very proud of her mother and the notoriety she had earned with her meticulous attention to the food she served.

Bertie Mae Seales, who was born in 1926 in Roaring Springs, Texas, came to Muleshoe in a covered wagon when she was about three months old, so she has been here a long time, 83 years to be exact. She opened the Dari Delite in 1954, and it stayed open until her husband, Vennie Purcell, died in 1979, and  she closed the order window in 1980 after 26 years of delighting customers with her specialty dishes.

The Dari Delite building had been a drive-in before Bertie ran it. McDonald's may think they are modern with their drive-up speakers to place orders, but the Dari Delite had the very first one in town. Pat said people would drive up to the window to place their order and then drive around the back of the building to the other side to the pick-up window, and off they would go with their treasure of tasty food. Bertie did all the cooking and preparation, and Pat, along with one other person, would take the orders and hand them to the customers. It was a good system.

So, now the part you've been waiting for-what in the world is a Hershey Burger, anyway? Bertie would take a cinnamon roll from another eatery tradition in Muleshoe, the Spudnut Shop, a donut place that made donuts with potato flour, and slice it in half lengthwise like a hamburger bun. She would place a whole Hershey's chocolate bar on the bottom half of the roll and put the top back on. Then the outside of the cinnamon roll would be lightly buttered, just enough to keep it from sticking to the foil it was about to be wrapped in before being placed on the grill to heat. When the top of the foil felt hot to the touch, Bertie would turn it over to finish heating the other side of the roll, which didn't take long. Then it was taken off the grill, put in a sack and sent on its merry way to be enjoyed by the customer.

Since the Hershey Burger was dessert, the Bertieburger or Twin Dog made excellent main courses. The Bertieburger was a hamburger laced with Bertie's special chili, ham, and cheese. When Bertie became a resident at Park View two and a half months ago, Bruce Purdy, a Muleshoe product who is now her doctor, made the comment that considering how many Bertieburgers he ate growing up, he certainly wanted to take good care of Bertie now.

And then I have watched our friend Joe Bob Stevenson describe the Twin Dog, all the while salivating at the memory of how good they were and  how he lived on them when he worked at King Grain, especially during the harvest when it was nothing, he said, at 8 or 9 at night to order burgers or dogs for the crew working late. The Twin Dog was a hot dog with the wiener sliced lengthwise and then cut in half so that there were four pieces of wiener to lay out on the open bun, then covered with mustard, chili, onion, and cheese.

This chili must have been what made the difference because it seems to have been a main ingredient on everything, well, except the Hershey Burger. It seems Bertie's grilled cheese sandwiches even had chili and onion on them. Pat said her mother was glad to share recipes of how to put together her dishes, but the chili recipe was never given out. Even to Pat.

One other thing the Dari Delite was known for was its lemonade and limeade, which was sweetened with what Bertie called simple syrup, made with ten pounds of sugar dissolved in hot water. One squirt was added to the small drinks; two squirts to the large.

The Dari Delite was located on the corner of the Plainview Highway and East Ash, across from King Grain. The building was moved in 1981, and now nothing stands as a monument to the legendary drive-in but its utility pole, all alone in the middle of a vacant lot. But the Dari Delite and its delectable dishes will always survive in the memories of the many people who ate there.

I would have attempted to duplicate the Hershey Burger process so I could taste it and also have a picture of the finished product to show you, but since the Spudnut Shop is no longer around, which means the cinnamon roll just wouldn't be the same, I decided to not mess with history and let you imagine it in your mind. But one of these days, I will have to try it so I, too, can brag of the experience of eating the celebrated Hershey Burger. The Bertieburger and Twin dog I might also try, but there again, with none of Bertie's special chili, my attempts will pale by comparison.

According to an Associated Press article in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal*, Americans seem to be on a quest for a better burger, so it sounds like what the world needs now is another Dari Delite.

*"Burger Nation," Mattthew Barakat. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal,. July 18, 2010, section D, page 1.