Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rediscovering the Game of Jacks


We enjoyed two Christmases this year, one with all the Krons, and a second one with all the Liles. Both were great fun. Food and gifts complimented the quality time we spent together on both occasions.

IMG_6316Korben, Callie, and Ty were on hand for the Kron Christmas,

IMG_6324 as were Colten and his friend Stormi.

IMG_6412Then Colten celebrated again with Ben and Maya at the Liles Christmas.

And I had the pleasure of reacquainting with an old friend-the game of jacks. At the Christmas at the Liles’ house, one of Maya’s stocking stuffers was a new tin box filled with jacks and a ball and a set of pick-up-sticks. Amid all the video games,  remote control cars, and a fancy new cell phone, a set of jacks and pick-up-sticks seemed rather quaint and out of place. But here were two games I could play! And play well, thank you very much. Especially the jacks.


I dropped to the floor, threw out the first hand of jacks, and started the first round of play. AJ took on the challenge, for about half of one turn, and gave up. Colten sat down for about two tries, bounced the ball off his hand and  under the table, declared it was way too hard, and he gave up! Two perfectly coordinated athletes who couldn’t master throwing up a little ball, picking up  a jack, and catching the ball before it hit the ground. And weren’t willing to take the time to learn how. Amazing.

I tried to show them some of  the other rounds in a jacks game after the plain first game where you just pick up the ones, then the twos, till the last  round when you pick up all ten. Then you progress to other games,  like around the world; pigs in a pen, scrambled eggs, double ball-bounce, and others the names of which I can’t remember.   They were impressed. “When does the game end? AJ asked.

“When the bell rings,” I said, because that’s what ended our games at Travis Elementary. We passed many a recess and had hours of fun playing a game that required only our ability to sit  flat-legged on the sidewalk and a well-developed amount of  hand-to-eye coordination, which, of course, we had honed playing previous hours of jacks. Strategy of which jacks to pick up and in what lay-out also plays a part in being successful at jacks, which we also learned from the many hours we spent squatted on the floor bouncing that little ball.

I don’t know if little girls  play jacks much any more, or pick-up-sticks for that matter, and as it turned out, I wasn’t able to  lure Maya away from her other gifts before we left  to find out if she had played much. I just know my friends and I  spent many happy hours bouncing that ball  while carrying on lots of conversation, laughing, having a good time. I came home and dug around and sure enough, found my jacks in the original bag Mother made just for my jacks. You know, some things are just too valuable to throw away. An old golf ball was in the bag, but everyone knows that the best jacks ball is the rubber center you cut out of that golf ball, and alas, I don’t seem to have one of those any more. But I can still slice open a golf ball and get one. I guess new golf ball centers would still make a good jacks ball. Hmmm, something to work on  in the near future.


Next time I run out of something to do, well, I can always fall back on my jacks and briefly revisit my childhood, 65 years and  thousands of  jacks games ago…

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Of Christmases Past

I can’t remember how old I was, but I am guessing in the neighborhood of six or  eight or so, when I told my mother we needed a manger scene to properly celebrate Christmas, the whole point of which is supposed to be  the birthday of Jesus.

I can remember going to the dime store in downtown Rosenberg to buy our first family nativity set. All lined up neatly between glass partitions were rows of  Wise Men, camels, shepherds, sheep, cattle, donkeys, Marys, Josephs, and little baby Jesuses in their hay-filled mangers. Next to the rows of plastic characters were the  cardboard stables in which the birth unfolded. I chose one of the simpler models with a blue-glittered star on top and make-believe hay glued to its roof. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are of course the stars of the drama, and I picked them first.  Then the Wise Men have to journey to the manger, so they and their camels were next. The shepherds were there, too, so I chose two shepherds. But the fun part was the animals who witnessed the baby’s arrival, so I loaded up several sheep and lambs, a cow and calf, and a donkey.

Once home with my treasures I set up the manger on part of a sparkly cotton tree skirt and added cut-up pieces of straw excelsior for hay on the floor of the stable. Then Mother appeared with a short electrical cord with a blue night-light bulb screwed in the socket to put in the back of the manger to cast a soft light behind the Holy Family.

For years after, through school, college, and the early years of our marriage,  the manger was set up the same way at Mother and Daddy’s house,  save for numerous changes in the staging of the animals and people around the baby Jesus. At some point the manger came to live with Bill and me and the kids and became a tradition at our house.  The cotton skirt yellowed and fell apart; the excelsior dwindled to nothing.  The cow and calf disappeared, and I am down to one sheep and lamb. The  shepherds wandered off most recently, but the basics are still here. The cardboard stable is getting wobbly, and the star has lost most of its glitter.

Even though the little dime store diorama is at least 60 years old, it still finds it way out of the box, still finds a place to be set up, and still reminds us of the night Jesus was born.


But for me, it means something else as well.  It will always remind me of  my Christmases past, the memories made,  and the people who loved me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What I Learned at The Muppets Movie

Erin and I took Ben and Maya and her friend Faith to see The Muppets over Thanksgiving. It was an education for me. I don’t go to the movies as much as I used to, and certainly not that many geared to kids, although this one was also  a nostalgia trip for adults who grew up with  Sesame Street and puppets known as  Muppets. That’s the first thing I learned-Muppets and Sesame Street are not all-inclusive. I think Kermit is the main one who can lay claim to being a part of both camps.

We made an effort to make an early feature in hopes of taking advantage of early bird prices. Ours started at 10:40 a.m. The early bird matinee was at 10:00 a.m. The kids’ tickets were $7, Erin’s was $7.25, and my senior ticket was a real bargain at $6.75. I saved a whole 50 cents to spend on popcorn. Now I know that the concession stand is where the real money is made, not the ticket booth, but things have gotten ridiculous. I know Austin is a big city and prices are always higher and all, but really, $16.50 for two drinks and a gargantuan box of popcorn? Sure, it was a lot of  popcorn for all that money,  more  than any human should consume at one sitting, but still. And people wonder why Americans are obese. We passed on refreshments.

We sat through three ads for high-end  cell phones-at a movie aimed at six-year-olds, remember- an ad for a video game with cartoon characters that I thought a bit violent, considering it was  for little kids, at least five kid-geared  previews that also seemed a bit violent, and then without warning a short  Toy Story video that just came out of nowhere. 

And then the movie finally came on. The reviewers are giving it high marks; I thought it was a bit slow. By now you probably know the plot: Muppets put on a marathon to raise money to save the old Muppet studio while Gary and his Muppet brother Walter  discover in which world they each belong, human or Muppet, the high point of that being Walter looking at his reflection in the mirror to see Jim Parsons, a.k.a Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, as Walter’s human side, a perfect piece of casting, I thought. The movie had some other nice touches, like the travel by map bit, Amy Adams’ character making a point about being alone with the aid of a thesaurus, and positive themes like finding your talent, that everyone has a talent, believing  in yourself, and not give up sprinkled throughout the story. Among the fun celebrity cameo appearances was  Selena Gomez,  the movie’s  ace in the hole to make sure slightly older kids would show up.

Unfortunately, when I heard one of the characters make a comment  about those ones, the movie lost credibility with me. Gross misuse of pronouns, and kids will think it’s okay because it was in a movie!

At one point  Kermit expresses concern  that perhaps the Muppets are no longer relevant in today’s world. A valid concern when you consider the paradox of ads for cell phones and video games sharing screen time with a movie starring low-tech hand-manipulated puppets, which, let’s face it, in reality is still what Muppets are. And while I may not be as taken with the movie  as everyone else, who can argue with a sincere green frog who still packs ‘em in?

Miss Piggy knows he’s still relevant. And who would dare argue with her?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Good Memories, Great Season, No Regrets; Thanks, Mules.

The season came to an end for the Mighty Mules Friday night when they fell to the Melissa Cardinals 49 to 36.  And what a season it was! One loss the first game of the year to Shallowater, a 3A team that went deep in the playoffs, followed by a twelve-game winning streak filled with exciting moments and fun times.

In this game the Mules still supplied exciting moments, but it’s just not as much fun to lose. The weather was cold but nicer than the game last week in Midland, and  a full moon watched over the large, loyal crowd that made the drive over to Sweetwater, including two full fan buses  provided by Muleshoe ISD.

Melissa drew first blood with 6:56 on the clock, 0-7, and we answered with a strong drive down field that ended with a failed field-goal attempt.

Quickly into the second quarter, however, Isaac Baca tied the score running in for the TD, 7-7, but Melissa scored again making it 7-14, and we answer with a TD by Ryan Deleon, tying the score again at 14-14. But then we  discovered they have their own version of an Isaac Baca bulldozer, their QB who just doesn’t go down easily.  With 38 seconds on the clock, Melissa scores again, and it is now 14-21. When the Cardinals kick off, it is a short, dinky little thing that we suspect was designed to keep Saul Elizalde from running it back for a touchdown like he has been known to do. The Mules drive down for what looks like a touchdown before the end of the half and, alas, quarterback Beau Avila throws an interception with 8 seconds left, so we go into the half behind, not something we are accustomed to doing.

The third quarter looks more promising, however, as Isaac Baca quickly scores, runs for the two-point conversion, and we lead 22-21. Melissa answers by scoring again, 22-28, we have some troubles, lose the ball, and with 2:52 on the clock they score again, 22-35. Things are not looking good at this point. Based on their body language, I fear that this is when the psychology of the game is getting to the Mules. They have seldom had to come from behind like this, and I think the pressure of winning a semi-final game is almost worst than the tension of the final game-you are so close and yet so far from that last chance to shine-and I think it took its toll. With 2:21 left in the quarter, Avila loses another pass to an interception, and that seals the deal.

The fourth quarter starts with another quick Melissa touchdown, 22-42, which we answer with a good drive down close to the goal line when Ryan Deleon does not arise after the play. At all games, crowds usually do the right thing and are quiet our of concern for  an injured player, but it seemed even more so this time,  perhaps because of the stakes involved in a semi-final playoff. When he finally was loaded onto the cart and waved the high sign to everyone, both stands gave a rousing and relieved applause of approval. We were told he suffered an injured ankle. We wish him speedy recovery.

At 7:08 we are down close to their end zone, recover their bad punt snap and Isaac Baca  runs it in for a TD; the score is now 29-42. I was hoping that would be the spark they needed. The band even tried to help by playing non-stop when Melissa was in the huddle to drown them with noise, but it didn’t work. Melissa goes on to score again, 29-49. With 1:01 left on the clock and two penalties in a row Jr. Baca is able to score, 36-49, but it is too little too late and the game is over. Final: Melissa 49-Muleshoe 36.

It was a night filled with explosive, exciting plays; they just had more of them than we did. But it was a memorable game, and I doubt there was a fan there that was sorry they had gone to the trouble to go and support the Mules, a bunch of “overachievers,” to quote Coach David Wood, who also said, “I would take a thousand seasons like this one. The kids always played all 48 minutes and left it all on the field every game.”

A season to remember.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cancel School? I Was Just Getting Started!

I agreed to be a long-term substitute for Morgan Marricle when her baby came and she took her maternity leave.  It sounded like a good idea at the time; Morgan teaches freshman English. I taught freshman English for about five years before tackling sophomore, junior, and senior English before retiring in 2004. I can do this. So I said yes.

Everything was fine. And then the baby took matters into his own hands and decided to come about a week early, which pretty much trashed our game plan to get me on board with topics she wanted covered,  materials to use,  and to be introduced to the dreaded CSCOPE. I should have known better than to put it off and trust the baby to follow the schedule. So now I had two days of fumbling around and making it up period by period, not having much luck remembering kids’ names, coming up with a test on the vocabulary they had been studying. Or not, as too many of the grades indicated.

That was Thursday and Friday, Friday being an early release so everyone could go to the playoff football game in Odessa. And early release days are always a wreck. So over the weekend I graded papers, found some tried and true lesson plans of my own, made some decisions about what direction to take, visited with Morgan as she recovered from her C-section, and in general  got organized. I was  ready!


So Monday morning I am up extra early to get to school  before the kids to get everything ready, and we awaken to snow! Then I look on gillambadvertising.com to discover school has been cancelled. Well, by this time I am dressed and ready for the day, so the logical thing to do is go on to school and get ready for the next day. Which I do, but there are pictures to be taken first. I am always a sucker for snow pictures, as you know if you have read the blog very long. Mari and I brave the elements and get some really cool pictures in the overcast pre-dawn morning, and then I head out for for a morning of quiet preparation.


A wise choice, because I now had time  to locate workbooks, gather a classroom set of  The Education of Little Tree, organize  what I plan to use, and in general feel more prepared for the kids when school reconvenes the next day. I am  loaded for bear, as my daddy used to say, and am much relieved that I will not experience my worse nightmare-having a class full of kids with nothing for them to do. You know that dream where you are somewhere around a lot of people and you are the only one naked? Well, I have had that dream, only for me it is a film-loop where I keep looking for what I had prepared and can’t find it, over and over and over.  And sometimes I am also naked or in questionable clothing as well. Fun, huh.


So wish me luck. I dug out my old briefcase, filled it with the graded papers, laid out the game plan for the day on my clipboard, and I’m ready. Now if we will just have school…


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mules 43-Eastland 36

And the Mules just keep on rolling! Everyone traveled to Ratliff Stadium in Odessa Friday night in the mist and fog and cold to watch the Mules win the Region 1 championship game against the Eastland Mavericks. The game was anticipated to be an explosive offensive battle, which finally came in the second half, but started out with both sides’ defensive teams dominating the game.

The car thermometer registered 36 degrees when we entered the parking lot, but the fog was heavy and made it seem even colder. Thank goodness the wind wasn’t a factor, but as the game went on the glare of the lights against the fog had to affect the boys’ ability to see and hold onto the ball, especially when it was in the air on punts, kick-offs, and passes. Heck, by the end of the game, the stands on the other side were just a blur and the press box didn’t show up at all. It was even hard to follow some of the plays and read the players’ numbers on their uniforms. I looked up at one point to see what the boys would see when they looked up to catch a ball and saw billows of fog instead of clear air.

Fans showed up in good numbers for both teams for what turned out to be one of the Mules’ most exciting games this year. And I can’t guarantee the accuracy of all of my notes as I tell you about it- you should see my wrinkled, crumpled, wadded-up  little notepad with the water-stained, ink-blurred, curled pages of information I am working with.

But I digress. The game started with the Eastland team running out onto the field displaying a school flag and a Texas flag, which to me was their way of saying  they were  headed to the state championship. That may not have been their intent at all, but I think it had a touch  of psychological warfare to it.  Didn’t work, though…

And since I am a bit late in getting this posted and everyone has probably read all about the game in the newspaper by now, and the fact that my notes, copious though they are, are a bit hard to read, as I mentioned earlier, I think I will give you the condensed version of the play-by-play. All most people care about is the final score anyway. So here goes-

The first quarter was all defense, until near the end when Eastland was awarded a safety after Mule quarterback  Beau Avila was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone, which made the score 0-2, Eastland.

In the second quarter the offenses had more of a showing,  when Saul Elizalde scored two touchdowns, the most exciting being the 95-yard kickoff return for a TD. Eastland’s offense, however, had a better second quarter as well, and the score was tied at 15-all at the end of the first half.

The third quarter Muleshoe dominated the game and Isaac Baca scored twice, and the quarter ended with the score Mules 29-Eastland 22. This was the quarter when the referees made  some questionable calls, at least the Muleshoe fans thought so, but the outcome of any game can’t be blamed on the refs, so we just had to step up and play even better.

Which, I guess we did in the fourth quarter, as  the Baca brothers put Muleshoe ahead by two more touchdowns  making the score now 42-22, with  2:41 left on the clock. But the game isn’t over till it’s over, and 2:41 is a lot of time to kill while celebrating on the sidelines and waving for the crowd to stand up and cheer, which most everyone was doing already. And it almost came back to bite the Mules  in the butt, because that had to be the longest two minutes and forty-one seconds in the history of high school football, as Eastland wasn’t ready to concede defeat just yet and came back to make a touchdown and then  recover not one, but two onside kicks, scoring on the first one, making the score 43-36 with 21 seconds left. Now it is just a little too close for comfort. But thanks to a false start on the second onside kick, which called for a do-over , which  Avila was able to cover,  we gained control of the ball, and the game was blessedly over.

The Mules will  meet Melissa next Friday for the semi-final match-up in Sweetwater at the Mustang Bowl at 7 pm.

Go Mules!

Monday, November 28, 2011

One More Mule Memory

The other legend that circulates about  Ol’ Pete is that he spent some time up on top of Muleshoe High School. One source said it was a group of boys from Springlake-Earth who were responsible, and that may be right, but I couldn’t find another person to corroborate the story. Then  I finally realized I was looking in all the wrong places. I sent Bill to coffee with instructions to inquire of the old guys he gossips with-yes, men do gossip; they just call it going to coffee-if they knew anything about it. After all, most of them grew up in Muleshoe, had been here for the duration, might even be the ones responsible for Ol’ Pete’s  relocation…

Well, that wasn’t the case, but in a heartbeat and after a chuckle, the lead miscreant was revealed, and I knew exactly who could give me the goods.

So, once again names will not be used to protect the guilty, an exercise in futility, but that was the deal. Here’s what I found out-

This time the adventure took place in the early 70s with a slightly younger group of boys.  It was a time of low school spirit, an unsuccessful football team, too many boys not in athletics with too much time on their hands, and a bootlegger on every corner to oil the wheels of the boys’ bad decisions. This was also back in the days when kids weren’t given new fancy dependable vehicles that made it easy to cruise over to Clovis on the spur of the moment when the mood struck, so the boys came up with their own entertainment, which usually involved dragging Main at home. And other little touches…

They located the two sensors that turned the street lights on and off and figured out that if they shined a spotlight on the sensors the lights would go off just long enough for them to use their handy 9/16 wrench to loosen the bolts anchoring  him to his stand, one per hoof. Then they would  whisk Ol’ Pete into the back of a pickup so he could carouse with them.

Pete graced the yards of teachers’ homes, and yes, the top of the school library, and covered lots of miles in various pickups while the boys made every stop light-the town had about six then-participating in Chinese fire drills along the way, deposited many a beer bottle on the top of St. Clair’s Department Store, and in general aggravated many adults but somehow not getting caught or stopped.

But it was the beer bottles they threw up on St. Clair’s flat roof  that was their final undoing, not hauling Pete around. Someone had to go up on the roof to fix something, discovered an alarmingly  huge number of empties up there, and it was decided that things had gone on long enough. The late H. D. Hunter, then pastor of the Assembly of God church, who happened to be on pretty good terms with the kids, decided it was time to have a visit with them.

A meeting was arranged and they all sat down for a friendly yet stern  talk about their behavior. Mr. Hunter explained to them the embarrassment they were causing their parents, some of the consequences they might ultimately suffer from their misdeeds, the real dangers and accidents  they had  luckily  avoided but could still encounter, and the fact that so far the mule had gone through all this unscathed, but it would take only  one injury to the mule or themselves, and things would no longer be just for fun. The boys respected Mr. Hunter, loved their parents, and in the end didn’t want to hurt any of them, so they decided perhaps the time had come to find something else less offensive to do.  So they stopped. And if truth be told, after the talk, some of the fun had probably gone out of stealing Ol’ Pete anyway.

And that was the end of Ol’ Pete’s running around.  At least until he had the chance to visit Washington, D.C. legally and all. If there are more adventures to be told, it will be up to someone else to tell those tales. I’m all out, and Pete seems perfectly happy with his more sedate life.

So if you don’t have a picture of yourself with Ol’ Pete, next time you are in his neighborhood, take one, like Bob and Virginia Yatzeck from Springfield, Virginia, did-


-or like  Kaley (Mrs. T.J.) Hutto of  Lubbock (on Ol’ Pete), Debbi Hutto of Muleshoe and Canyon,  Kaley’s mom Connie Wedemeier, and Kaley’s sisters Whitney and Lindsey Wedemeier, all from Iowa.


You see, Pete’s a pretty famous guy,  whose fame continues to spread far and wide. And all his adventures are true!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mules 33- Merkel 27

The Mules beat the Merkel Badgers 33-27 tonight at People's Bank Stadium in Frenship on a breezy, damp, cold night. Apparently not too cold, however, as Mule fans were everywhere.We had a good crowd, but then, we only had to drive an hour to the game; Merkel fans had to commit to about three hours, but they had a good crowd, too.

The Mules jumped out ahead 7-0  first quarter on a Saul Elizalde touchdown, but Merkel bounced back second quarter and took the lead 7-14. I will have to admit I dropped the ball-no pun intended!- on my notetaking for a bit right here (long  story, don't ask), so you will have to rely on the newspaper stats to fill in the blanks, but I can tell you that the score is tied in the third quarter 21-21, Merkel gets three penalties right in a row, and we start the fourth quarter with the ball, but can't move it, and Merkel makes the touchdown but fail on their two-point conversion attempt. So now the score is 21-27 with 9:22 on the clock. We retaliate with an Elizalde run and a Jr. Baca touchdown, but then we miss the extra point, so it is tied up again, this time 27-27. The ball changes hands two more times, and Beau Avila and Elizalde set up a 61-yard touchdown with 3:12 on the clock, but Juan Guerrero misses the PAT and the score is 33-27. Merkel can't move the ball and we get it back, thanks to a Ray Martinez interception. We are able to keep the ball for the remaining 1:17, and the game is over. Final score- Mules 33, Merkel 27.

Merkel had a strong running game, not so good with the passing game: Muleshoe's offense was a little out of sync at first,  but the Mules were able to take advantage of Merkel's mistakes, and the rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

The Mules will meet Eastland next Friday, but time and location have not been announced yet. So check the newspapers, Gil Lamb Advertising.com, or the Muleshoe Sports Network.com, fill up the gas tank, wash your black sweatshirt, and get ready for the road trip.

Mule Mania is still kickin'!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving is the Forgotten Holiday

I like Thanksgiving. I like the fact that it is a distinctly American holiday.  I like the turkey and dressing and all the side dishes. I like the family sounds and the football sounds. I like the crispness of the weather. I like giving thanks and counting my blessings.

But Thanksgiving gets lost in the retail frenzy to sell stuff. Halloween seems to have gotten bigger lately and starting sooner. People are decorating outside more and costumes seem more important than ever.

Then the minute after October 31st, Halloween, Fall, and Thanksgiving go on the sale rack to make room for Christmas. The Day of Thanks is overshadowed by the overhyped Black Friday sales. And what an unpleasant name for it; I know why they call it that, but it sounds like Depression Day or something, which to me it is. Mobs of people with mostly unhappy looks on their faces fighting the crowds for superfluous stuff  all  in the name of saving a buck.

I do appreciate the fact that merchants need business to stay in business, but the commercialization of Christmas  has really gotten out of hand and overshadows the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place.  But then you know that. Starting Christmas in November, and really, even before that, pretty much devalues what Christmas should be about, the birth of Christ,  and takes away much of the significance of Thanksgiving, other than it is just another big meal to get out of the way before we go shopping.

So this year try something different. Look forward to the Thanksgiving meal. Invite someone to share your table who, for whatever reason, might be alone on that day. Turn off the TV during the meal, put away the cell phones,  and enjoy the people who are sharing in your bounty. Do something cheesy, like actually taking turns naming what you have to be thankful for. And we do all have things to be thankful for, no matter what trials and tribulations we might have endured during the past year. We are truly blessed, be it by something practical  that we probably take for granted, like  a working water heater, or something as grand and irreplaceable as our health. But then, we tend to take that for granted, too, until we lose it.  But that is the whole point-we have so much to be thankful for, we tend to forget what we have been blessed with.

Which leads us back to Christmas, which, now that we have appropriately celebrated Thanksgiving, will come in all due course with its proper  emphasis.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mules 43-Godley 27

The Mules won the Area Champions football trophy last night, beating Godley 43-27 in the Mustang Bowl at Sweetwater. It was quite a game. I took loads of notes; Bill said too many notes. Let me see how much of it I wind up overloading you with.

To start with, there were definitely more Mule fans there than Wildcat fans, but at least their band was there on time to play their school song, and later, as the home team, The Star-Spangled Banner. The field is down below ground level, hence the name Mustang Bowl, so the wind, which was blowing quite well and continued all night, was at least not quite as cold as it could have been since it was not blowing up on your legs through the seats.

But on to the game. We received first and marched down the field before quarterback Beau Avila was sacked and then threw an interception. So Godley drives down and Saul Elizalde intercepts one himself , which eventually leads to a touchdown and extra point, the score now 7-0 and the clock stands at 4:16, first quarter. With 2:49 left in the quarter, Godley slips by for their own touchdown and point after, tying the score at 7-7. which is how the quarter ends. But at least by now the band has arrived, and there is a little more noise from our stands.

Godley starts off with a bang, or I should say touchdown, a mere 43 seconds into the second quarter, and the score is 7-14. But we drive back down and Isaac Baca runs in for another score, so now it is 14-14. On Godley’s next possession they just nearly score, and Coach Wood calls time out to chew on a few Mule butts, to no avail, apparently, because Godley then goes on to score, which is called back on a face mask penalty. We then answer with a face mask penalty of our own, and they are just about to score again when, luckily for us, they drop the ball and we recover on the 5-yard line. But then we don’t take advantage of the gift, can’t score, and have to punt. Low and behold, Godley fumbles again, we get it and this time Ryan Deleon catches a long pass and scores, Elizalde kicks and the score is now 21-14. Godley gives the Mules yet another fumble after the kick-off and once again we can’t use it to score, but at least that keeps Godley from scoring. Another Muleshoe interception, another Godley fumble and with 2 seconds on the clock, Elizalde barely misses a field goal and it is half-time.

Third quarter and  Godley eats up 5 minutes and 56 seconds before finally making the touchdown but missing the point after, and the score is 21-20. It’s at this point that things get a little scary. We punt, recover another fumble, get a penalty and even get it to the 5-yard line and can’t score. And the score is 21-20, remember. ..

So the fourth quarter starts with the football gods on our side-we catch them in the end zone for a safety, and we follow up with a touchdown, so now the score is 30-20. Godley follows with a touchdown, making the score 30-27 with 8:32 on the clock, so it’s a little dicey again! And I may be the only person who saw it this way, but at this point the Godley band fired up a very fast version of that Hey! Go (fill in your mascot)! song and I swear it threw the tempo off on the playing field as well. Everything felt rushed. I felt rushed and wondered what it would do the team. Well, a personal foul was called, we got a first down out of the deal,  and made a touchdown, so I guess it worked out okay. The score is 37-27 with 3:57 left. Elizalde kicks the ball out of bounds twice, so they send in Joe Guerrero and he kicks out of bounds! But we go on to intercept another pass and score with it this time and planned to kick the extra point, but a bad snap caused a change of plans and Avila couldn’t quite turn it into a two-point conversion, so the score is now 43-27 with 2:03 left in the game. Guerrero kicks another one out of bounds, and at this point the game is over. The last minute, thirty-nine on the clock is allowed to run out, and the celebrating began.

Now here’s where things get fuzzy. We leave the game with the understanding that the Mules will play Merkel at Frenship next Friday. This morning the TV says Childress won, UIL says Merkel won  but shows a different score than  the newspaper. So since UIL should be the final authority, I am going to say that the Mules will play Merkel on Friday at a location to be announced!

Way to be, Mules! Great game.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Mule of Many Colors

Long before Ol’ Pete took his trip to Washington, D.C., he had a few other adventures that were fodder for the  stories we heard  when we first moved here. Naturally, the history of Ol’ Pete wouldn’t be complete without documentation of those misadventures, so let me tell you what I found out about the time Pete was painted lime green with pink polka dots.

I tracked down the ring leader of this infamous escapade  and had to promise to use no names, to protect the guilty, even though I’ll bet half the town could name names if you asked them. Sometime in the late 60s, which would have been just a few short years after Pete came to Muleshoe as the Mule Memorial, this  group of high school seniors who stayed in trouble together came up with a plan to give him this  interesting look. They drew straws, and my source drew the short straw, which meant that he had to paint the mule. The others were the look-outs who were to watch for police and others and honk their horn when someone approached so the painter could hide behind the nearby railroad cars. This was before the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center was built, remember, and most of the time railroad cars would be conveniently parked in the vicinity  to hide behind.

The mule decorating was completed without a hitch and all went well, until the next day when the brouhaha hit the fan and the town was aghast and dismayed  that someone had defiled their new national monument. After all, a lot of people went to a lot of trouble to get that mule in Muleshoe, he was still shiny and new,  and now someone had sullied the results of all that hard work.

And the perpetrators might have gotten away with it, except that the next day  the painter of the mule was summoned to pick up his mother at the beauty shop, and his fingernails outlined in lime green paint were his undoing. His mother, observant as most mothers are,  noticed them right off, was horrified at her discovery, and sent her wayward son back to the car immediately. He didn’t say so, but I suspect there was hell to pay when he got home.

But who knew? Being pretty typical teenagers, I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. And they did at least have the forethought to use water-based paint, so Ol’ Pete’s appropriate mule brown finish was restored without a hitch when city workers were dispatched to make things right again.

My informant told me with a chuckle that they had no idea their paint job would upset so many people so much. And of course, they never gave a thought to the fact they would be defacing public property that also happened to be a national monument. They really could have gotten into a boatload of trouble. But the world was a different place back then. I guess by the time things settled down and the mule was back to his original finish, everyone was  just glad everything was back to normal, no lasting harm had been done,  and the story became a part of Muleshoe folklore.

At least now I have saved it for future generations to be able to read about, much to the chagrin of those who were involved, I guess! And if I was really good with Photo Shop, which I am not, I could have tried to recreate that lovely paint job for you, which I won’t. So let your imagination run wild and conjure up your own vision of Ol” Pete as a green and pink Appaloosa. Have fun!

In all my digging for this story, I also unearthed information about the other  Ol’ Pete adventure we heard about when we moved here. Tune in next week for one last mule story.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Mules Will Play Godley

The playoff season has begun. Godley beat Bangs tonight 56-7, which means the Mules will meet Godley Friday night, November 18th, in Sweetwater at 7:30.

This is a pretty short blog since we didn’t go to this game,  and I have no first-hand observations to share with you, but I did promise playoff information, so here it is. Short and sweet.

Mule Mania is on the march. Go Mules!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Travels with Ol’ Pete

Old_Pete_in_Washington_2001Photo courtesy of Clifton Meyers.

While Ol’ Pete spends most of his time taking pictures with  people traveling through  Muleshoe, he did have the opportunity to visit our nation’s Capitol in 2001  for President George Bush’s inauguration.

It all started with Larry and Rick Meyers, sons of Jinx and Rowena  Meyers, who grew up in Muleshoe but moved to Washington, D.C., where they established a consulting/lobbying firm. Brother Cliff, who  moved to  Lubbock,  was also in on the deal. They all three  may have moved, but they never forgot their Muleshoe roots, and together with other transplanted Texans who moved to the D.C. area and formed a group known as the Texas State Society, planned a bi-partisan Texas-themed black-tie ball for the night of the inauguration festivities and came up with the grand idea that Ol’ Pete should be there as well. It took a little sweet-talking and maneuvering, but they gained permission from City Hall and the Texas Historical Commission to remove him from his permanent home and let him be an honored guest at the ball. After more phone calls and cajoling, it was agreed that Pete could hitch a ride to and from the party with other memorabilia that Texas Tech University would be sending to the inauguration.

Needless to say, Pete wouldn’t be the only one from Muleshoe to make the trek to the Capitol. Along with the three Meyers brothers, Muleshoe was represented by Muleshoe mayor Victor Leal and his wife Debbie, Chuck Smith, David and Diane Smith, Vicki Jinks, Bruce and Cindy Purdy, Charles and Jerie Nell Flowers, Mike and Cris Cleavinger, Pat Young, her daughter Tisha (Boehning), and son Tadd and Annie Young.  They all had invitations to the ball and had to be checked out by the Secret Service before being approved to attend the ball. Nothing was said about checking out Ol’ Pete’s credentials…

IMG_6147Invitation to the Black Tie and  Boots Presidential Inauguration Ball 2001

Rick Meyers Co-Host of the 2001 Black Tie & Boots Inaugural BallRick Meyers co-hosting President and Mrs. Bush, Vice President Dick and Lynne Cheney, Governor Rick Perry, and Kay Bailey Hutchison at the Black Tie and Boots Ball. Photo  courtesy of Clifton Meyers.

The Black Tie and Boots Presidential Inauguration Ball 2001 was the brainchild of the Texas State  Society; the Muleshoe Martini and Cigar Bar at this ball was the creation of Rick and Larry Meyers. And this is where Ol’ Pete was to hold court, except they couldn’t get him into the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel to do so! With a little manual labor and deconstruction of an entry door into the hotel’s kitchen, Pete finally made his entrance, to the delight of the party-goers. President Bush did, in fact, visit the bar, along with Laura Bush,  Vice President and Mrs.  Cheney, Kay Bailey Hutchinson,  and Governor Perry. And as the night wore on and the martini bar lived up to its name, things got pretty lively. I’m sure Pete was the silent witness to many events  and stories that are probably best left untold, but an exhibition of mule riding (think Debra Winger on the mechanical bull in Urban Cowboy) was one display that probably everyone else saw, too.

IMG_6145This ticket to the Inaugural Parade allowed the Muleshoe group to be seated on a reviewing stand  where they had a good seat for watching the parade.

Rick Meyers_Victor Leal_Old Pete_on the Texas Float Bush Inaugural ParadeRick Meyers and Victor Leal with the float. Photo  courtesy of  Clifton Meyers. (I don’t think the Road Work Ahead sign is part of the float!)

As the party wound down, it was time to get Pete to his assigned spot for the parade, so Victor Leal, Mike Cleavinger, Chuck Smith, Bruce Purdy, and Charles Flowers gathered him up, loaded him in the back of a pick—up, jumped in the back with him, and off they went in the freezing rain to find the float on which he would ride for the parade. As they were racing from red light to red light holding on dearly to the mule, lest he get banged up before they could get him home safely to Muleshoe, Victor Leal remembers fondly looking up and seeing, in the distance,  the Washington Monument between Pete’s ears. How neat is that!


But get him there they do, and he proceeds to travel the parade route on a float, thanks to  the Texas State Society, with a longhorn steer, bluebonnets, and other things Texan, along with  Rick Meyers, Cliff Meyers,  Ben Crenshaw, Miss Texas- Sara Watson,  Mayor Leal, and others I am probably leaving out by accident.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Pete made it home no worse for wear, but much more worldly,  and back to the safety of his perch on American Boulevard, where he still stands to greet visitors and serves in  honor of mules and their contributions to society.

Next week: the mule of many colors.


Thanks to Cliff Meyers, Rowena Meyers,  Chuck Smith, Victor Leal, Magann Rennels, Cliff Black, Juana Shelburne,  and Pat Young  for their help on this and the Mule Memorial story.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mules 45-Childress 15

Tonight was Senior Night for the Mules, and their going-away present was the district trophy, presented to them by Supt. Gene Sheets after the game. They were already district champs;  the win tonight merely the icing on the cake.

The game started out with a bang in our favor with a 65-yard return by Saul Elizalde and three plays later QB Caleb Wood passes back to him for a touchdown. With 10:42 on the clock the score is already Muleshoe 7, Childress 0.  After Childress can’t make their first down, Wood’s first pass on the next possession ends up being intercepted, but we get it right back after Childress tries and fails on a faked punt. Isaac Baca then makes one of his signature runs, barreling through the line and carrying all his tacklers with him, setting up the touchdown run by Wood. So now the score is 14-0. Once again Childress can’t make a first down and punts, only to have Ryan Deleon bumble the catch, which puts the next play on the 3-yard line, way too close to the Mules’  end zone, as it turns out, because Wood then falls there,  which of course, gives Childress a safety. The score is now 14-2. Childress manages to almost make a TD, but Adelido Godinez ruins the play for them and the first quarter is over.

The second quarter starts with the Mules not making a first down and having to punt, but then holding Childress and making them punt, and the Mules block it and get to go on to score again pretty quickly. Godinez takes it in and Elizalde kicks the PAT, making the score 21-2. After Childress makes one first down they still have to give up the ball again, and Ryan Deleon makes an 80-yard run and Elizalde kicks again to make the score 28-2. Childress has to give up the ball again, not making a first down, and we try a little reverse hand-off after catching the punt and bauble it. The Mules  make up for it on the next play making our own first down, but alas, can’t turn it into a TD, and the half ends with the score 28-2.

Childress receives to begin the third quarter and gives a determined effort when they make their 4th down and 1/2 yard to go, but then give up the ball on the next series when it is 4th and 13 to go and have to punt. This next series gives the Mules a little trouble, but at least it does use up some of the clock, and considering it is getting a bit cold by now, suited me just fine. After that when Childress gets the ball back, they actually get three first downs in a row and turn it into a TD but miss the point-after, so the score is 28-8, which gives the game a slightly different flavor, especially since the Mules now seem a little flat. However, on the next series Wood fires them up a bit with a nice 60-yard run for a touchdown, which is, sadly, called back for a holding penalty against the Mules.

So the fourth quarter starts with the same score, 28-8, and we can’t get anything going. But Childress does, and they manage to score and make the extra point, and the score is now 28-15. It could be a totally different ball game now. So Isaac Baca does another one of his carry-everyone-with-him plays and gets things going again by setting things up for Ray Martinez to score, but that one, too, is called back for Mules holding. They don’t let that stop them, however, and a few plays later Isaac Baca does score, the PAT is good, and it is now 35-15. That feels a little better. Childress can’t do anything with their next possession, and Elizalde and Juan Guerrero  turn our next series into another touchdown and point-after,   and the score is 42-15. Childress has one more possession and we get the ball  with 1:53 on the clock. By the time the clock is down to 45 seconds, it is allowed to run out, and the game is over. Score: 42-15, Muleshoe once again victorious.

Muleshoe gets a bye  and will play the winner of the Godley-Clyde game next Friday. I was told the decision has already been made to play the game in Sweetwater, so now it is scouting time for the coaches  and recuperation and rest  time for the team until they find out who their opponent will be. 

Check in next Friday, and I should be able to give you more details on the playoff game. In the meantime, congratulations to the Mules for another fun regular season, and good luck in the playoffs.

Mule Mania strikes again!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ol’ Pete, the Mule Memorial



Back in the late ‘70s a  trip to visit Bill’s Aunt Ruth and Uncle Leroy Berggren at their  farm between Farwell and Bovina took us through Muleshoe and by the Mule Memorial. We piled out of the car and took your typical tourist picture with the mule. Who knew that in 1980  we would move to Muleshoe and drive by that mule every day, sometimes more than once!

So I wanted to know  Ol’ Pete’s story, which started, interestingly enough, not in Muleshoe, but in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Time has passed and most of the principal players are gone, but this is what I can piece together. It seems writer and historian V. H. Torrance  from Austin, upon visiting the Ft. Worth Fat Stock Show,  lamented the absence of mules at the event and the mule’s  demise from the American scene and wrote about it in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Dr. J. B. Barnett from Marlin, after reading the story, saw the need for a memorial to the hard-working mule and sent a contribution along with  a suggestion that a mule memorial be erected at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Ft. Worth. Then George Dolan,  a columnist for the  Ft. Worth newspaper, wrote about receiving the contribution and suggestion, which was then read by Gil Lamb and Carroll Pouncey, who was the Muleshoe Chamber of Commerce manager at the time. Lamb and Pouncey wrote to Barnett and Dolan  arguing why a mule memorial should be in Muleshoe instead of Ft. Worth.  I think it was about this time that Mrs. Middlebrook’s 4th grade class at DeShazo Elementary gathered donations, and student Cindy Smith sent the money and yet more arguments to Mr. Dolan  for why the memorial should be in Muleshoe.


At this point Dr. Barnett traveled to Muleshoe  and enjoyed the red carpet treatment as  Gil Lamb presented him with myriad reasons why the memorial should come to Muleshoe. Dr. Barnett was introduced to Gil Lamb’s Mule Train on KMUL, shown Lamb’s mule collection, told about the Muleshoe Ranch, and the fact that highway 84 ran right through town and all travelers would be exposed to the mule. Convinced, Dr. Barnett helped organize the National Mule Memorial Association. To  get the word out about the desire to honor the mule for its many contributions to the development of early America and its role in our early war efforts, Gil Lamb also wrote a story carried by the AP wire service, which gave it international exposure, even being carried in the Stars and Stripes newspaper read by our soldiers overseas. Many soldiers even sent in donations themselves.

When the West Texas dust cleared, over 700 donations had come in from all over the world, but ironically, not many from Muleshoe. Most of the donations were small, something like $5, which also earned the contributor a membership card in the National Mule Memorial Association. I didn’t discover what the final total came to, but I know it wasn’t enough for a bronze statue, which was what the association first desired. A bronze statue was cost-prohibitive, so  things were stalled briefly, until someone from the Fiberglass Menagerie company from California came through  town and convinced the association that fiberglass, which was fairly new at the time, having been developed during WWII to replace molded plywood used in airplane radar domes, was indeed durable and strong enough to be suitable material for making the mule. He showed examples of their work,  and it was decided that fiberglass would work.


An actual Muleshoe mule named Old Pete, owned by Dave Anders was photographed to be used as the model, and sculptor Kevin Wolf from Aurora, Colorado, set to work on the statue.  When he was finished, Jim St. Clair flew out to California to approve the completed design and also donated  a large building block  that came from the St. Clair Department store for the statue to stand upon. The memorial was  placed near  the Santa Fe Depot in the depot’s  original location at the corner of American Boulevard and Main Street. Cecil Davis saw to it the memorial had an historical marker.


The dedication was set for July 3rd, 1965, as the 4th was on a Sunday that year, and back then the Sabbath was still held sacred and no major events were scheduled on a Sunday. Two days of activities were planned for that time, leading up to the dedication of the memorial on the 3rd.  Around 10,000 people were on hand for the  gala affair, including then Texas Attorney General  Waggoner Carr. Dr. Barnett, without whom the memorial might not have ever existed, regrettably had died earlier and did not get to see the memorial become a reality.


Ol’ Pete stood at his original location for many years sort of by himself, and then he became a part of the structure where he now stands. Here’s how it went, I think:

The land for the mule memorial had been deeded to the city by Santa Fe Railroad; the Depot that stood nearby had been closed in the 70s; Santa Fe wanted to give away and move the depot building in the 80s, which led to the building of a new Chamber of Commerce office and visitors center in that location  in 1999. Ol’ Pete was going to have to be relocated for all that to happen, and because  he was a state-certified memorial with a marker, permission had to be gained from the Texas Historical Commission. They finally agreed when it was determined that it would  involve a move of  only a  few feet. The stone from St. Clair’s was replaced, and Ol’ Pete and his historical marker were moved to what his now his permanent location on the deck of the Hugh Young Visitors Center and Chamber of Commerce office which was dedicated on July 4, 2000.

IMG_0902In the Denver airport, the Mule Memorial is shown on this large map of the United States that highlights places of interest in all the states. Note that this is an early photograph of Pete in his original location.


My kids would always scoff at people who stopped to take a picture with the mule. I told them not to laugh too loud, as somewhere tucked away I had that same picture of them with the mule. Ol’ Pete is a constant ambassador for the town and serves us well. He has been pictured and written about in several magazines, including recently in  Texas Highways. In fact, he has even traveled out of state on occasion, and I will tell you about that in next week’s edition, as well as one incident that is legend in Muleshoe.


More information and photographs of the Mule Memorial Dedication can be found in Tales and Trails of Bailey County, the first 70 years. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX., 1988.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mules 54 (or 53)-River Road 7

The Mules ventured   to Amarillo to play River Road Friday night.  Coming off the big win against Littlefield last week and expecting River Road to be a probable win could have spelled disaster for the Mules, who needed to win this one to be assured of the district title; instead they kept their heads in the game and won big, 54-7, and gave lots of back-up players the chance to see some action.

There was no play clock, the scoreboard decided to act up, the field was wet, therefore  the ball wet, and it was cold. Thank goodness there was no wind. The scoreboard acting up is probably why there is some disagreement over the score. When it finally was turned back on and ran for the remainder of the game, it showed 53 for the Mules. The Clovis News Journal said 54; the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal said 53. My calculator says 54. Considering River Road definitely had 7, I think it is safe to say the Mules won and go on.

The first quarter was all Muleshoe, 20-0. Interestingly enough, the second quarter saw River Road make their only score  of the night  on an overload play with a student body sweep. Whoa! Listen to me try to use all that technical football jargon! They took the Mules by surprise with that one, and tried a few other fancy plays, but we made adjustments and stopped them. So the second quarter the score was 20-7, Muleshoe.

The third quarter saw quarterback Beau Avila start things off on the Mules first possession and then he handed things over to Caleb Wood, who gained lots of good experience, playing the rest of the game. Several other players, some who had just been moved up from JV, also saw lots of good playing time during the second half.

The Mules went on to score 21 points the third quarter and 13 points the fourth quarter, only missed two PAT attempts, and had a good night overall. We had 581 total yards to River Road’s 222. It was Senior Night at River Road, not a pleasant game for the seniors, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Next week is the last district game against Childress here. The regular season is winding down and the playoffs will be gearing up. Come for the long-standing traditional turkey and dressing pre-game meal and hunker down for a good game.

Mule Mania is alive and well!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All Good Pets Must Surely Go to Heaven

I helped my friend Sheila put to rest her two little dog companions, Scruffy and Buddy,  last Wednesday. We buried them beside the walking path around our pasture, a place they liked to visit and explore.  That  same pasture is also the final resting place of my black mare, Samba,  Caramel the dog, and Perla’s father, Daddy Cat. The pasture butts up against our yard where all the other animals that shared their lives with our family are tucked away. Like Pedro Jesus (We Buried Pedro Jesus Today, November 21, 2009), and Kitty (Three Funerals and the Fourth of July, July 5, 2011),  they are all buried somewhere in the yard that was their favorite place, too. Maybe it makes no difference to them, but it makes a difference to me,  and it helps in a small way to deal with losing them.

We have always buried our pets.  We have lost a few cats to cars on the roads, and I would never just leave their little bodies there to be mutilated again and again or to have to drive by and see the results. I always feel sorry for those animals who have no one to care enough about them to pick them up after an accident, or in the case of strays, that no one cared enough to give them a home in the first place and left them there to die.  When  one has to be put down at the vet’s office, we always bring them home.  After sharing 33 years with her, I could never have allowed the used cow dealer to haul off Samba’s body from the pasture. She deserved better.

But they are just animals, you say. On the contrary, like the Velveteen Rabbit, when they are loved, really loved, they become real, like a person.  When Samba and I would return from an all day ride and my mother would inquire about our day, she noticed that I would always tell her that we had a good time or an interesting day or whatever. It wasn’t just me; we were on an adventure as friends. I never thought about it any other way.

I have enjoyed dogs going with Samba and me on the horseback rides, cats helping me type all kinds of things on the computer, cats and dogs  helping me with the gardening, exercising, keeping me warm as we’re sleeping, watching TV, sitting on the patio watching the world go by, just being there. They are masters at unconditional love and were always  there for me.

When my animals die, I tell them good-bye in a letter, as I mentioned in the aforementioned blogs.  It gives me a chance to let them know one last time how important they were to me and how they enriched my life. I put the letter in a sealed plastic bag along with their picture  and bury it with them. Sheila wrote a letter to her boys, and she said it helped. This letter or journal writing also helps with the loss of a person, too. Of course, you should be telling those people every day how much they mean to you. But then, you already knew that. Now in a hundred years or a thousand years when some archeologist excavates this site, they will know that those little velveteen animals were special and were  loved.

So when I die, I have faith that I will be greeted not only by my God and  my human family members and friends,  but also my cats and dogs and horse will be there to help me do whatever it is I am assigned  to do in Heaven.

How could it be Heaven without my animals  there, too?


Friday, October 21, 2011

Mules 49-Littlefield 42

For you Two-Percenters who failed to fill your reserved seats tonight, it is your loss. Tonight was quintessential football, a fight to the finish, a great game. A heck of a game! Littlefield came to play; the Mules were out to defend their 43-8 shellacking of the Wildcats last year. It was a game of traded touchdowns and big plays, but we probably made the biggest play late in the game when it was 3rd and 7 and Beau Avila kept the ball to make the first down and watched the clock tick off the last few seconds.

We win the toss and elect to kick off. Littlefield can’t move the ball and punts, which sounds like a good start for us, until two plays later we fumble on the 17 yard-line and Littlefield makes a quick TD. The score is 0-7. A nice pass to Saul Elizalde gets everyone fired up, but by this time we have lost Tony Molina and Adelaido Godinez to injury. Isaac Baca scores to make it 7-7. Littlefield goes on to take it to the goal line, the Mules hold them three times, but the Wildcats manage to take it in, so now it is 7-14. We bauble the ball on the kick-off, something we have trouble with all night, and the quarter ends.

Isaac Baca scores early in the second quarter, 14-14, and then after Littlefield has to punt, Elizalde runs it back for another touchdown, making the score 21-14. The ball goes to Littlefield, we get it back, and Isaac Baca scores, 28-14. But the Wildcats answer with a long 73 yard run and another TD, 28-21. With less than a minute and a half left, we finally get down to the 5 with 14 seconds left , then 9 seconds, and Ryan Deleon catches a short pass for another TD, 35-21. I haven’t mentioned every play in this series, but it was a heck of a series of plays.

It was also at this point that a group of  students led by Garrison Myers  decided to take back the “Gimme a Hoorah” yell, so for the rest of the game, we had a competition going between the kids and  Richard Hawkins and Cliff Black  to get a hoorah out of the fans. That was fun.

Darryl McCamish and the friends he brought with him from Cannon AFB, resplendent in their Mules sweatshirts and caps, had a particularly good time at this game, too,  reciting every yell  the cheerleaders led and then doing some improvising of their own in their nice deep, loud bass voices. They should come to all the games!

The third quarter starts with us receiving, but doing it badly and have to punt right off. Littlefield makes a long play on their first possession-we are missing Tony Molina on defense about now-and get down on the 7 yard line. The Mules make a good goal-line stand, but not enough, and the Wildcats pass for the TD, 35-28. We go downfield the hard way after yet another bad kick-off catch, then make a very costly fumble close to the end zone, which Littlefield recovers in the end zone and get the ball on the 20. They take it down for first and goal as the quarter ends with the score still 35-28.

Littlefield then takes it in for the TD the first play of the fourth quarter. We are off-sides for the extra point, and Littlefield decides to go for two, which they do, and it is now 35-36. We have trouble on the first three plays after we get the ball back and then Avila throws what I consider to be a Hail Mary pass which is caught by Deleon and we score, try for two and fail. The score is 41-36. Littlefield answers by going right down the field and scoring their own TD, go for two and they fail, so now the score is 41-42.  We drop the kick-off AGAIN  but recover. After his pass is knocked down, Avila carries the ball on the next play, makes it to the 50, and after more running plays, finally a pass to Deleon makes the TD and we go for two and the score is 49-42 with 4:39 left on the clock. Now things are getting really tense. Who will have the ball last? Littlefield moves the ball closer to the goal line and as if a prayer was answered, Deleon intercepts a pass to prevent a Littlefield TD with 2:26 left in the game. We do a little stalling, call some running plays but don’t seem to move the ball. And here is when that big play is made: 55 seconds on the clock;  it is 3rd and 7;  Avila carries the ball, makes  the first down, and we let the clock run down. Final score-Mules 49, Wildcats 42.

Wow! The crowd, which did fill in a bit by the end of the first quarter, is on their feet and few are leaving, giving the boys a well-deserved standing ovation. Littlefield played hard, but  Muleshoe did, too. It just seemed like the Mules would get themselves into a situation and then pull themselves out, doing what the situation called for on short notice. What a deal!

Next week is River Road there. I hope they have something left to pull out for that game! Get a good night’s sleep, boys. The season’s not over till it’s over.

Go Mules!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How ‘bout That Haboob!

According to Wikipedia, a haboob is an intense wind storm that occurs in Africa, India, Australia, the Middle East, America, heck, anywhere it is arid and sandy. Arid and sandy. Well, no wonder we had one yesterday. And it was a doozy.

S5008304The haboob as it rolls in behind Park View Nursing Home in Muleshoe, around 4:45 pm on October 17, 2011. Picture courtesy of Jack Rennels.

Bill was gone at the moment, so Colten was helping me move my cactus inside for the winter, and we were almost through when I looked up and here comes this huge  rolling wave of dirt. By the time I could get the camera we were enveloped in this brownish-red cloud of grit and reportedly 75 mph wind. The good news is that we were finished moving in the plants; the bad news is that since we were busy, we really didn’t get to witness the progress of this thing from the beginning but found ourselves smack in the middle of it.


The only plants we had not moved in were the five pachypodiums-Madagascar palms-behind the garage. We realized this as we watched from the back patio door when the wind blew over my tallest palm, after which I pushed Colten out the door to help me move the rest of them into the garage.

IMG_6090Note the tall plant close to the eaves of the house.

IMG_6091Note the tall plant after it came crashing down in the wind!

When we first came into the house and the storm was at its height, it was eerily dark and spooky inside. Sunlight was completely cut off by the blanket of sand between us and the sun. And the wind was still howling. The cloud of dirt and dust displayed a whole spectrum of browns, from beiges and dark browns to reds and almost black before blowing through enough to leave the whole sky just a smoggy, dirty yellow- brown.  The cold winds lingered, however, even after they had carried the dirt somewhere else to do its display of shock and awe.

We moved into this house in 1982, and I used to run a mile down the dirt road that borders the  north side of the house, the road itself running east and west.  I can remember one day on the return trip hearing a loud booming sound to the north and looking up to see a wall of dirt on its way toward me. Thank goodness I was almost to the corner and to the house, because by the time I could make it in the door, it hit. Coming from the land of live oak trees and loads of rain, I had never seen anything like it.  Now I have seen two.

And that’s enough!

A haboob hit Ransom Canyon, near Lubbock, Texas, on June 18, 2009.

Spearman, Texas, in a Dust Bowl haboob, April 14, 1935.


Learn more about haboobs at       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haboob

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mules 62-Friona 21

Okay, so here’s the deal. I took copious notes last night, slept late this morning,  now need to help with a tiling project, and the blog is still not done. For those of you who might be faithful readers, I apologize for my lack of discipline and lateness with the story. So here is the condensed version:

The weather was quintessential football weather. Shirts and pompoms and the sunset  were pink for breast cancer awareness. Fans on both sides contributed $1600 to send to Luis Morales, a Vega football player who was paralyzed from a football injury in a game on September 29. The Mules dominated the game. Friona didn’t make a first down until into the second quarter. The Mules’ offense was smokin’ hot and the defense wasn’t shabby, either. The whole team had a good night.

Next week the Mules face Littlefield at home. Big game. See you there. Mule Mania is alive and well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Teenage Waste Land, I Mean, Room

I opened the Life section of the paper the other day to  this headline: “Cute, Creative; Decorators give advice for personalizing kids’ rooms.” Really? Like they are going to need any help making it their own?  Now, I will have to admit that the article was really aimed more at younger kids more  than teenagers, but it has been my experience that kids put their own distinctive marks on their rooms without any help from the adults, thank you very much. 


We moms and grandmothers envision this well-designed, immaculately clean, brightly painted, organized, neat and tidy Better Homes and Gardens fantasy, and what we get is an Escape From New York war zone. Well, that is, if the room in question is the abode of a 17 year-old boy. I realize there are some apprentice OCD children out there whose rooms are award-winning clean. Not at my house. And I’ll admit it, not in my room when I was a teenager, either. But I do remember having cleaning attacks hit me, usually around 11:45 pm on a school night,  and I would organize with a vengeance and then not want to rise and shine the next morning.

But I digress.


The 17 year-old in question has taken up residence in  his mother’s old room, and I really don’t remember how well she kept house when she lived in it, probably about like he does, and like his Uncle AJ did when he was that age, but it tends to be in a state of disruption more often than not. But when it is clean, like in the top picture, it is all his doing, not mine. And that’s a good thing.


Anyway,  back to the article. It  talks about  storage containers as “overlooked methods of combining function and style.” A nice wicker basket for dirty clothes stays stuffed to overflowing. Book shelves are apparently better for holding shoes than books and things. And conventional storage like a chest of drawers and closets? Those are places to store clothes not worn and things not used; clothes that are worn and things that are used stay out where they are conveniently at hand at all times. Towel racks are merely to decorate the wall, not for holding towels, for heaven’s sake. Bedside tables aren’t for silly things like clocks and lamps, but serve as repositories for numerous dishes, glasses, Dr Pepper cans,  and Honey Bun wrappers, which do eventually make their way to the kitchen and wastebasket.

But you know what? That 17 year-old is also responsible for the washing, drying, and ironing, if necessary, of those same clothes that lay in heaps and piles and draped over the chair and bed, and so far he has not gone off to school in dirty clothes, rumpled clothes, or no clothes, so while his organizational skills may need a little work, his attention to clothing and his sense of style are developing nicely, I must say.

He’s a good kid. I am confident that one day it will all come together for him, and then he will fuss at his own 17 year-old over the same messes, a stage of life  commonly known as  paying for your raising…


Price, Irie. “Cute, Creative,” Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, section B, page 1, September 25, 2011.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mules 41-Slaton 12

We were unable to make this game, but I know that the wind blew and  the Mules prevailed  and beat Slaton last night, 41-12. We listened to the game via Channel 6, so between that and the stats in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, I can tell you that Isaac Baca left the game early with an injury, we led 14-6 at the half, things picked up third quarter with the score 34-6, and the game ended after both teams scored once more, making the final score  41-12.

Beau Avila quarterbacked most of the game, but Caleb Wood saw some action as well. We had 14 first downs compared to their 11, which looks fairly close to me, but our 158 rushing yards compared to their 43, and our 263 vs. their 192 passing yards sounds like we were a stronger team. Both teams suffered three fumbles, but we recovered one more than they did, but we had more penalties, 7-50 to their 2-15, traditionally what happens when you are the visiting team, right?

Touchdown credit goes to Adelaido Godeniz, Saul Elizalde, Jr. Baca, and Beau Avila. Extra points were made by Saul Elizalde and Juan Guerrero. The entire team gets credit, however, for a good game and win.

Nest week we travel to Friona. Should be a good one. See you there.

Go Mules!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cactus and Kerrville


I traveled to the Hill Country this past weekend to visit friends and attend the Texas Association of Cactus & Succulent Societies 2011 Fall Seminar. And to buy more cactus that I don’t need but want. That’s what a collection is all about, right, adding to it?

Before driving to Kerrville, I took a little side trip down Highway 71 toward Austin to see what I could find that I don’t have at Spicewood Spines Succulent Nursery  in Spicewood, and yes, I found several plants! Then I went on to Living Desert in Bee Cave and was delighted find even more plants to add to my collection.

I guess it has been about two years ago that I designed and landscaped the yard of friends Jimmy and Carol Hooks in Kerrville with cactus I had grown, and I was anxious to see how things were doing. Well, things were doing fine! Great, in fact. Jimmy had lost all the golden barrels to last year’s horrible winter weather, but had replanted and everything just looked wonderful. I stumbled out of the car and wandered around the yard in awe of how full and pretty everything looked.  The saguaro I had babied and loved that was about four feet tall when we planted it  did survive the winter, thanks to Jimmy’s dedication to covering and protecting it from the cold, and it had grown at least another foot, if not  more.




IMG_6016Notice the wire around the trees to keep the deer from stripping the bark and eating the leaves. Everything in Kerrville has to be planted with deer in mind.

IMG_6017The dry creek bed was Jimmy’s idea, and it adds interest to the yard. You can see it better in the picture below.


The seminar was all day Saturday with guest speakers, vendors, who-guess what?-had yet more plants I needed to add to my collection, and ended with an auction of donated plants to raise money to help with expenses of putting on next year’s seminar. Well, I had to support the cause, right? But I did limit myself to two specimens.

I enjoyed the speakers’ presentations and learned many new things. I am still a novice, really, so I always learn something worthwhile when I get to rub shoulders with the experts. Woody Minnich from Cedar Grove, New Mexico, shared his travels in the U.S. Western states, Mexico, and Peru. The trouble is, I won’t have any trouble locating his cactus nursery there in New Mexico, and I assure you I will have no trouble adding to my collection when I find it! Lonnie Childs who is active in the Hill Country area, talked about yuccas. Steven Lovecky from the Waco area showed us how to identify and differentiate between similar species. Jim Mauseth, who is a professor of integrative biology UT Austin, gave the most technical of the talks, complete with microscopic slides of cactus cell tissue and taught us how cacti and succulents collect and store water. While it was pretty scientific, it was also easy and interesting to  follow, and even though I understand cactus, I found it very informative and helpful. Richard Stamper from Houston is a fan of aloes and showed us some really neat hybrids and made me want them all.

And I’m sure by now most of you have dozed off, unless, of course, you appreciate cactus and succulents, so I will attempt to regain your attention by sharing with you a few more  pictures from one of the gardens that we toured on Sunday, pictures for which I made a special trip back to Kerrville on Monday with my camera, which I had left at the lake-a wonderful senior moment. The owner of this garden asked that his privacy be protected, so all you need to know is that it is located somewhere in Kerrville and made me jealous that he can grow these things outside in the ground, with a little protection from time to time, and I can’t.





IMG_5965The round ball in the left of the picture is an agave victoria-reginae.  I now have three small ones to add to my garden. And the yucca in the picture below, yucca australis, is very different to what I have now, so of course I had to have one. But it has a long way to go to look like this one.


And I will end with  the story of a plant I bought at Spicewood Spines. I picked it because it was ready to bloom, and I thought it was of the huernia variety, which have really stunning five-pointed star-shaped flowers with intricate designs in pretty colors. When I loaded up to come home, I put it in the back seat rather than the trunk with the rest of my treasures so it would have some light to encourage the flowers. Well, everything was just fine until I stopped at Sweetwater for a potty break. When I came back to the car, I opened the door to get in and this horrible, awful, dreadful smell hit me in the face. I couldn’t imagine what it was and decided I must have run over a pile of road kill and parts of it flipped up and were stuck on the underside of the car. Then I remembered I had a big yucca in the back that was too tall to put in the trunk and thought maybe something was in the dirt that smelled, so I opened the back door and the smell was even stronger. But it wasn’t the yucca; it was that plant with the buds on it. They had all opened, a lovely mass of maroon star-shaped flowers that smelled like a dead animal! I realized I had smelled something earlier in the trip, and I guess my nose had grown accustomed to it and I  forgot about it, until I re-entered the closed-up car.  So now I knew it was of the stapelia family, a relative of the huernia that I thought I was buying. And the common name for stapelias is carrion flower…


Now I am all inspired to redo my cactus garden, which needs a little updating and spiffing up  anyway. And  now I have a new yucca and  those round agave victorias for a new look. Of course, this will also call for a load of more rocks, which I import from a friend in Coleman.

Hmmm. I feel another road trip coming on.