Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Deer Hunt

Our Thanksgiving was a day filled with family, food, and football, which is as it should be and how it has been all my life. Caroline and all her new family celebrated with us and after enjoying our traditional turkey and dressing, ham, green bean casserole, gravy, cranberry sauce,  sweet potato soufflĂ©,  macaroni and cheese,  fruit salad, lemon and chocolate meringue  and pumpkin  pies, we  spent the day in front of a warm fire  talking, munching, and watching football, especially when A&M beat the hell out of t.u. 

The family: Ken Kron, Caroline, AJ, Callie, Neil, Colten, Janell Kron, Alice, Korben. Ty is somewhere, but not in the picture!

The food.

The football fans.

The hunters.

Our son AJ added a new twist this year by going on  a deer hunt. He came by himself to focus on the hunt, and he was amply rewarded. Colten went along to help  him bag a beautiful ten -point mule deer buck. 

AJ's Pictures 11.26.10 004

IMG_2976The trophy.

My daddy was a deer hunter, and come to think of it, he left a few times the day after Thanksgiving for a deer hunt himself. Hunting was a way of life for him; hunting provided much of the food on the family table when he was growing up. He continued to enjoy the  challenge of the hunt, the beauty of nature, the companionship of fellow hunters, along with  providing food for the family, even when food for the family was the least of it.

Bill told AJ that Grandaddy, the man for whom AJ is named, would be proud of him and would have loved to have taken him hunting himself.  We all decided Daddy was there for the whole thing, as my AJ was using his grandaddy AJ’s Remington GameMaster 760 30-06 pump action rifle to bring down the deer with one clean, decisive kill shot.

AJ's Pictures 11.26.10 006 
Oh, yes. His grandfather would have been pleased.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Season Ends

Friday night in Seminole the Mules met their match, losing to the Wall Hawks 39-28. It was a game of determination and frustration on our part and determination and execution on their part.

We elected to kick first and forced Wall to punt and were then able to score first on a 36 yard run by Cooper Washington. The kick by Saul Elizalde, whose PATs were good all night,  was good and the score was 7-0. And unfortunately, we were never ahead the rest of the game. After a chop block penalty against them, accompanied by an interesting and unusual crowd silence, followed by a roughing the passer call against us, they strike back with a touchdown and two-point conversion, going ahead 8-7.

Early in the second quarter Wall scores again and it is 15-7. We keep the ball for seems like forever but can’t turn it into any points. With 1:05 left in the quarter, Wall runs in another one and the score is 22-7 going into the half. Things are not looking good.

The third quarter starts with what some might have seen as a bad omen when we have trouble breaking through the tunnel to come onto the field. But then Jr. Baca breaks loose on the kick-off for a 40-yard run and we go straight down and score, so now it is 22-14. Unfortunately, Wall came right back and scored themselves in a nine-play drive and bumped the score up to 29-14.  We drive hard but Cooper fumbles and they recover.

The fourth quarter is no fun at all. Wall still has possession of the ball and we fight hard, make them punt, and have a good series ourselves until we fumble, they recover and score, so now it is 36-14. Later Ryan DeLeon runs in a touchdown, the kick is good, and the score looks better, 36-21, but still not good enough. We tried an onside kick that did nothing but give Wall good field position and that pretty much signaled the end of the game. For about the last five minutes or more of the game they took their time setting up running plays, and it was obvious they were trying to let the clock run out. With 1:04 left in the game  they kick a field goal to make the score 39-21. But with 10 seconds left Ryan manages to get in one more time and the score is 39-28, and that’s the way it ends.

Too many of our fans started leaving after Wall’s last touchdown and then the Wall fans started chanting the nah-nah-nah nah good bye song, and that hurt. But it has been a thrilling 10-2 season and the Mules have much to be proud of. And never doubt that the community is proud of them; they did a fine job.  We have next year to look forward to.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The West Texas Drive and Eat Tour


My friend Elaine and I finally managed to take our  long talked-about but often postponed trip down to deep West Texas. We saw lots of country, enjoyed two lovely historic hotels, and found several good places to eat.

Lots of country. Boy, that’s an understatement; we were in West Texas, for crying out loud. If you aren’t familiar with Texas geography, consult your  map while you read this. I drove from Muleshoe to the Midland airport where Elaine had flown in from Houston. We backtracked to Andrews to eat a pile of steak fingers at Buddy’s, known far and wide around here for great chicken fried steak and huge portions.


Then it was through Kermit, Wink, Pyote-cool names, huh?-Pecos, Balmorhea, Ft. Davis, ending in Marfa where we were to stay for two nights at the Hotel Paisano, established in 1930, but put on the map when the cast and crew from Giant stayed there while filming the movie. We shared the hotel with a group of Germans who had come to town  to appreciate examples of the minimalist art which seems to have put Marfa on the art appreciation map. We overheard them asking where the lift (elevator) was, and of course, there wasn’t one, so I don’t know how impressed they were with West Texas. 



That night we ate in the hotel restaurant and drove four miles out to the Marfa Lights Viewing Center, something else Marfa is known for. We didn't see any of the mysterious bouncy unpredictable and unexplained lights, but to be fair, we weren’t really dedicated to the cause and left pretty soon after we got there. It was cold and windy!



Sunday morning we were up early to see all the sights. Turned out nothing was open, so there wasn’t much to see. The hotel didn’t serve breakfast, so we wandered around and finally found a place open, Cochineal, except they didn’t serve me any breakfast. I asked for oatmeal, and they were out. I asked for a croissant and was told they wouldn’t be ready before ten. So I had a cup of hot tea. Elaine had huevos rancheros. The food situation didn’t impress us, but they had a pretty outdoor courtyard area.


We drove to Marathon with the intent of eating at the historic old Gage Hotel, only to discover they only serve dinner. So we walked down the street to a hamburger joint, Johnny B’s and watched a few interesting locals come and go.



From there we went to Alpine, admired the campus of Sul Ross University and still couldn’t find any place open for shopping. Then we stumbled on a man working on the front of his store, and he graciously opened for us.

Back to Marfa, where still not much was open, but we managed to find the Q Cafe and Wine Bar and struck up a conversation with owners Pat Quin and Thomas Schmidt who came to Marfa from Houston, which gave us much to talk about, and we wound up spending about three hours there eating and talking. And Elaine actually drank a glass or two of wine.


Our goal for Monday was to make the scenic drive that follows the Rio Grande from Presidio to Lajitas. We checked out of the hotel and took off south on highway 67, passing through the tiny ghost town of Shafter on the way to Presidio.



We then followed highway 170 driving parallel to the river. Texas Monthly claims this drive to be one of the most scenic in the United States, and it was a lovely drive. But in the spring and early summer I imagine it is even more spectacular. About the only other people we saw on this drive was one or two Border Patrol people. It was just us and roadrunners and javelinas.

Look closely and you can find a javelina in the middle of the picture.


Lajitas is pretty simple: a yellow-brown cemetery that blends into the hill; a golf course; a shopping area called the Lajitas Boardwalk which also has a nice hotel and restaurant, and the Candelaria, which overlooks the golf course, where we ate lunch.



We drove through Terlingua without stopping, no chili cookoff at the time, and did more shopping in Alpine, since now things were open. After missing our turn and making a few circles in Alpine, we managed to find our way to Ft. Davis, which, if you are looking at your map, you can tell  should have been a no-brainer. I swear the arrow on the road sign pointed straight ahead and it should have pointed to the right. But we finally got there, checked into the Hotel Limpia, founded in 1884, and ate Mexican food at Cueva deLeon.





Where the Hotel Paisano was somewhat  Mediterranean/Spanish, the Hotel Limpia was Victorian/Grandmother’s house. And they had a great big cat, Tuxedo, who didn’t seem particularly worried about welcoming guests, as cats are wont to do, but hung around, just in case.


Tuesday was the end of the trip, but we had one more eating stop to make, breakfast at Mary Lou’s, where we were told was a favorite of the locals. And it was.


I took Elaine back to the Midland airport and made my way home, this time by way of Lamesa so I could stop in Lubbock for a few errands before going home.  That was a nice change from the Andrews route because, alas, the Andrews part of West Texas is not known for its scenic appeal. Oil well pump jacks  and steak fingers, yes; scenic beauty, no.


That’s Elaine in front; I am in back.

So that was the West Texas tour. I highly recommend it. Traffic is non-existent-well, there was a little in Alpine- shopping is interesting, and the landscape is beautiful. The area is different from anywhere else in Texas because it is so isolated and laid-back. Be prepared to drive great distances and eat lots of good food.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mules Are Area Champs

We traveled to Wylie Stadium, near Abilene, last night to watch the Mules win another one, beating Breckenridge 14-0.

In a game that started off with not only the national anthem but also the pledge of allegiance-a nice touch-while the flag waved beautifully  on the scoreboard video screen, we watched a game with few big plays, way too many penalties, an incredibly short first quarter and interminably long 4th quarter, and the lowest  score since I don’t know when. We have become pretty spoiled to high scores these past few years, so this score was not up to the Mules’ typically high standards.

No one score the first quarter but early in the second quarter Isaac Baca managed to run one in and we made the PAT, for the score of 7-0. Later Eric Orozco scores on a pass and Saul Elizalde kicks again for 14-0, and that’s it. No touchdowns by either team in the second half, but boy, do they draw lots of flags. If I had known it was going to turn into a delay of game/offside marathon, I would have kept count. We even had two delay of game calls for letting the play clock run out, which we never do.

The last minute and thirty seconds of the game were unusual in that Breckenridge kept possession of the ball and went back and forth from about the 20 to the 45 yard line by gaining first downs, losing ground to penalties, making it up again with decent plays or penalties against us, and repeating the pattern but never being able to score. And it took forever.  In the last seven seconds we managed to make them give up the ball, and the game was over, but it was not our best effort.

Friday November 26, we play Wall at Seminole at 7:30. For this game the Mules won’t be coming off a bye week, which may have thrown off their rhythm with  Breckenridge, so it will be interesting to see what happens this time. That’s one of the intriguing things about football; on any given day anything can happen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Now This is a Pumpkin Patch


I decided if I was going to talk about West Texas cotton, I shouldn’t leave out pumpkins. You have your city style patches, and then you have the real deal. This is one of those real deals north of town that we visited with the grandkids and AJ and Erin around Thanksgiving in 2008.



These are the seconds, the rejects that the grocery stores didn't want. Aren’t they beautiful?  We wanted to take them all home but stopped when we had loaded 47 pumpkins. large and small.


A field of pumpkins is really something to see, and something most people have never had the opportunity to enjoy. So here you are.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Playoff Time Again

Since Muleshoe had a bye this first week of playoffs, we took a short road trip to Sudan to watch Bovina beat Smyer 42-20 and came home to discover that the Mules will play Breckenridge next Friday night, November 19,  in Abilene.

Alas, I didn’t think to ask time and location in Abilene of my source, and since I called the first time at 10:30 and it is now 11:05, I dare not push my luck to call again this late for more details. So check back in the morning-if you haven’t found out somewhere else in the meantime-and by then I should know more.

Go Mules!

Okay, here’s the rest of what you need to know. The game will be at the Wiley stadium in Abilene at 7:30 Friday. School will be let out at 2:15. Bring lots of blankets.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cotton-Stripping Time in West Texas


According to the soulful lyrics of Summertime*, “-the livin’ is easy, fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high,” but in West Texas in autumn time, for cotton farmers the livin’ is busy, the strippers are runnin’, and the cotton is loaded.



By the time it occurred to me that this year’s crop deserved to be discussed, many of the  fields had already been stripped; where green cotton stalks had stood, white and loaded with fluffy white bolls, now defoliated brown naked stalks surrounded large nubby white rectangular modules strung out like a new housing development. But I found a few shots to share with you to give you an idea of what a good cotton crop looks like in the field.


Mike Riley at Central Compress in Sudan said cotton farmers were experiencing sort of  a perfect storm this year. They enjoyed good rains with only a little loss from hail and rain, which produced good yields. Overseas production was down due to bad weather in China and Pakistan and other cotton-producing countries, so the cotton supply was low-remember the theory of  supply and demand? So the price is really good, $1.30-1.50 a pound, which is unheard of since $.50 is pretty standard and $1.00 is considered high. A bale of cotton is typically around 500 pounds, so do the math. It’s going to be a banner year for cotton farmers who have done their homework and are producing lots of modules.



Module Trucks

Conventional wisdom says a farmer can expect eight bales of cotton to a module, give or take, and there is no telling how many modules are being gathered per acre this year. The tally is still out since the stripping is not finished.  And then there are variables to consider: variety of cotton planted;  who stripped and how thorough they were; who ginned it, which all play a part in how much cotton winds up in the module and then the bale.


Boll Buggy and Cotton Stripper- the cotton is stripped, dumped into the boll buggy, which is then dumped into the module builder, many loads are pressed into a module, then loaded into the module truck and taken to the gin to be processed into a cotton bale.


Module Builder



Modules waiting to be ginned.


Muleshoe Co-op Gin

But I think it will be safe to predict, with apologies to the Gershwins and DeBose, that Ma may be good-lookin’, but Daddy’s definitely gonna be rich, so cotton-farmer babies, you won’t need to cry.



“Summertime,” from the opera Porgy and Bess. Lyrics and music by Heyward DeBose, George and Ira Gershwin; 1935.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Childress is Definitely a Road Trip

Childress is a three-hour drive from Muleshoe, so you can see my dilemma when we rolled into the drive-way at 1:45 am: write about the game or hit the bed. Alas, you can see which won.

But – I can tell you that the Mules won the ball game, 41-19, so it was worth the drive. We had a decent crowd, actually about as many Mule fans came as Bobcat fans, and they didn’t have to make the drive. But it wasn’t crowded, so we had 50-yard line seats and room to stretch out. The band was late because they had to wait until 4:30 for a bus to be available to leave town, so when the team ran onto the field, it was a little quiet. Then a few of us bravely sang the school song a cappella, and the fight was on.

And it was a fight. I think we were supposed to win this game, but apparently no one told Childress. They played until the end, no running of the clock, and passed their little hearts out. And were successful doing it-they even scored first. We need to work on pass defense or sacking the quarterback, I guess.

In the next sixteen seconds, however, we responded with a touchdown of our own, run in by Ryan DeLeon  on the first play of our possession. The announcer, who was fun to listen to, had trouble with some of our players’ last names, and he announced that the kick by Saul, no last name, was good. So now the score is 7-7. That was a humorous play because it caught the refs off guard and no one was down there to call the touchdown, but our players did! But aside from a cool sack made by Cooper Washington, we do nothing else spectacular and the quarter ends 7-7.

The band finally arrives, just in time to see Jr. Baca break loose and score, 14-7.  Later in the quarter Rico Alacron blocks a punt and we have the ball on the 30 yard line but can’t seem to take advantage of the break because Cooper throws a long pass that is intercepted in the end zone. Childress takes it down to the other ten yard line with one second left, pass and we intercept and save a score. The score is still 14-7.

The third quarter starts off with a bang as Ray Ramirez has a good run, setting up Isaac Baca to score, 21-7. Then on our next possession Childress was expecting an option play to Juan Sanchez  again, but a pass to Ryan DeLeon scores, and we are now at 28-7. But Childress doesn’t give up, continues  their throwing game and score, only to miss the PAT, making the score 28-13. They follow that with an onside kick and get it. We manage to finally get the ball back but then throw it right to one of their players.

The fourth quarter starts with a good drive, Cooper Washington making a nice 30-yard run and Eric Orozco scoring. But we miss the point after and the score is 34-13. Childress follows with yet another series of good pass plays, until Eric Orozco blocks a scoring pass but they do manage to score with 2:53 left but  failing on a 2-point conversion, so the score is now 34-19. The last two minutes of the game are exciting because we drop the ball, they recover, we respond with an interception, Saul Elizalde runs it to the 3-yard line, Jr. runs it in, Juan Guerrero kicks the point and the final score is 41-19.

This was an interesting game for several reasons. Childress never gave up, even though they were probably not going to catch up, which made it exciting and certainly gave our players a run for their money, even beating us in the stats as reported in the paper this morning. The Childress stadium is a neat place to play. I don’t know this, but it looks like something built during the Depression  by the WPA  out of natural stone,  and it has a nice character to it. And is holding up well, Depression era or not. They have a concession stand on both sides of the field. Our band being late made the first of the game uncharacteristically quiet.  Their band chose not to dress in uniforms and at halftime formed a semi-circle and played while the cheerleaders danced, did routines, and executed gymnastics flips and runs. And the announcer went out of his way to  thank us for coming and wished us  a safe trip home.

The Mules are the Division 1 District 1-2A champs and as such, have a bye next Friday, as do all district 2A division 1 champs in the state due to re-alignment, so the playoff schedule is still to be determined. Tune in next week for details.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pretty in Pink-the Shirt, That is, Not the Movie

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the Bailey County Relay for Life committee was pondering fund-raising ideas. Since pink is the color  linked to  breast cancer,  they came up with the idea to “pink out the stadium” at the next home football game. Stephanie Geel, the Relay team chairperson,  said, “It’d be cool if we could sell t-shirts,”  but committee chairperson  Rhonda Myers   reasoned they might not be able to pull it all together, as time was short with only ten days till that home game, and it might not work. But they called Hellen and Lonnie Adrian at Graffi-tees anyway, and they agreed to help them try. Hellen came up with the design, Lonnie printed the shirts, and the project was on.


The plan was  to sell the shirts at the schools, United, and Williams Brothers. Then Rhonda posted a notice about the shirts on Facebook , and it was a whole new ball game. The response was overwhelming; shirts were sold quickly at the original locations, but then shirts went out to Houston, Dallas, Roaring Springs, Stephenville, and the second printing of 500 shirts was ordered. And then another 200. Pretty successful when you consider 1200 shirts is about one fifth of the total Muleshoe population. The generosity of the community came through once again.


So when October 29th rolled around and the stands began to fill up, the crowd was not completely pink, but darn close. The cheerleaders even wore pink, had special pink pompons, and occasionally on a high jump a flash of pink tights was visible (not visible in this picture, however, as the girls had slipped on the long pants in the cold). The pink shirt plan brought in over $4,000, which will stay in this area and made available to  Bailey County cancer patients and families as they deal with  their fight against this disease.


Rhonda Myers

Rhonda, a breast cancer survivor herself, told me that the money they raise does help with research and helped to build the new $15 million Hope Lodge in Lubbock, which is like a Ronald McDonald House, but for cancer patients of all ages and their families. Only six Hope Lodges exist in the United States, and this is the only one in Texas. But the majority of the money stays in Bailey County for the benefit of local people. “Any person in Bailey County can get help from the American Cancer Society-rides, gas, lodging, counseling,  financial aid, help finding financial aid, anything the patient needs.  They can get help if they will just ask,” Rhonda told me. 

Even though this was a pink endeavor in honor of breast cancer since it was  Breast Cancer Awareness month, Rhonda said she works with Relay for Life rather than some other cancer groups because, as she put it, “[Relay for Life'] is for all cancers, not just breast cancer, and nearly everyone has been affected in some way by cancer, and in a small town it helps everyone.”

Rhonda and her committee felt like they could sell the shirts for this very reason. Talk to people and connections to cancer pop up everywhere.

So there will be more fund-raisers and awareness events in the future. June 3, 2011, will be the Bailey County Relay for Life, and next October I suspect there will be another pink affair to keep the search for a cure on everyone’s  mind.