Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In Memory of Little Cat


Little Cat was next on my list of cats to introduce to my readers. Unfortunately, Little Cat was missing when we came home from a trip to the lake on June 29. I have called and called, looked and looked, checked with Animal Control, alerted the vet’s office,  and I have to finally face the reality that she is gone. I don't know where she might have gone or what might have happened to her, but in two days she will have been gone a month, so I am afraid I have to tell her good-bye. And this is the way I choose to do it.


Little Cat came to live with us on April 21, 2009. I think she would be about six or seven years old now. Caroline was trying to downsize her cat population, which in turn just upgraded my cat population. Little Cat reminded me of my dear  Maynard that had died a few years earlier, plus she was just  an endearing  and vulnerable little cat that I had a soft spot for. She was what we all called the Special Needs Cat as she had been abused before Caroline rescued her, and we think she was slightly retarded.


But such a pretty and engaging cat! Once we convinced her that our house was her new home and she became accustomed to helping me do my exercises in the barn, she allowed us to enjoy the pleasure of her company. She was an outside cat and had a bed in the barn with fresh water and food and a cat door for her coming and going. Over time she became pretty possessive of that barn, especially when I was in there with her, and would fuss at the other cats when they came in to eat or drink.


She also kept me company when I would weed the cactus bed and do other gardening chores. She had her spot under the Spanish broom bush and would surreptitiously  observe the world until she saw us come outside. Then in her funny little slew-footed gait, she would lope over to us, meow a greeting , and then help with whatever we were doing.


Doing my exercises is just not the same without her there to keep me company.


So, my dear sweet Little Cat, I miss you, and I hope you have your own special place wherever you are.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Steve Friskup’s Three Main Topics


In an earlier blog we talked about having three main topics in life (The Three Main Topics, April 7, 2010). Steve Friskup could tell you his three without missing a beat: roping, riding, and  religion, not necessarily in that order.  Well, family would sneak in there, too, because he would say there should be  four,  but Steve and his Cowboy Church in Muleshoe pull these three topics, and family as well,  together nicely with their Christian Roping Camp, which just finished its 11th year this past weekend.

For Steve, the clinic is a labor of love and a direction from God. He can tell you the exact time when God started riding shotgun with him. “It was December 3rd, 1995, at one o’clock in the morning, on the first exit on I-40 at Elk City, Oklahoma, while I was driving my pick-up. I pulled over and said, “Lord, I need some help. And He did [help me].”

Steve, who now works as a livestock auctioneer when he is not spreading God’s word at the Muleshoe Cowboy Fellowship, was then a cowboy and auctioneer who was adrift with no fulfillment. Even though he was a husband and father, he felt a desperate need to fill his otherwise empty existence with something that mattered. He knew there had to be more to life than always buying the first round at Happy Hour.

That two-year period after Steve asked for God’s help was the hardest time  in his life- “It’s hard to put old wine in new skin,” he says. In 2002 Steve and his wife Robin were in Canyon  spreading the Good Word when he received a call from Gary Morris asking him to come to Muleshoe to help with a roping clinic and then give an inspirational message on Thursdays. Steve felt drawn to move to Muleshoe and make it permanent. When he told Robin that the Lord wanted them in Muleshoe, she hesitated a minute and said, “Well, go ask him again.”

IMG_5676Robin and Steve Friskup.

Steve asked again,  move they did, and now neither one of them can envision living anywhere else. In those nine years Steve has seen major growth in the Muleshoe Cowboy Fellowship congregation as well as the roping clinic held at the Good Times Roping Arena north of Muleshoe. When I asked about membership numbers, Steve just shook his head and said, “We don’t really have a membership list, but we probably have anywhere from 250-300 at services each week.”


When I asked about participation in the camp this year, he said 125 campers signed up, but the count would be higher if everyone who came actually registered. People showed up from all from all over Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

IMG_5699This is the most important building, along with the arena, for the camp. Last year the kitchen, right, and dining area were added to the tabernacle, at the end.


IMG_5694Roping practice goes on all day, along with devotionals, meals, and lots of fellowship. 

Steve sees the roping clinic as the Muleshoe Cowboy Fellowship’s version of vacation Bible school for families as well as individuals and strives to incorporate the three main topics, with emphasis on the religion point. He has lots of good help from members of the Cowboy Fellowship congregation and others who share an interest in the same three main topics. No registration fee is required, but Steve says many people make donations that go to help with expenses of the camp.

IMG_5713This roping dummy didn’t stand a chance with all these future USTRA/PRCA  members ganging up on it.

Riding and roping skills were taught and practiced through team roping, dummy roping, steer stopping, and the newest attraction-a goat roping pen.  The goats were added last year and have become a main attraction for the kids, although  adults have been seen taking their turns at capturing the little critters  as well.



The topic of religion  was hit in several ways throughout the camp. People shared testimonies after meals (participants were  served breakfast, lunch, and supper, which, by the way, members of the community were also invited to enjoy), during the day between roping sessions, and at night after supper, with worship in the tabernacle, the open pavilion pictured above,  built near the Good Times Arena. The community is always invited to the worship services as well. This year campers heard from Ryan and Kari Pate from First Assembly of God Church with musical accompaniment by Trevor Turnbow,  Monty Leavell from First United Methodist Church with the Joyful Noise singers,  as well as Steve who spoke Tuesday night. Music  was provided Tuesday night  by the Triple L Band from Portales, New Mexico and the MCF Praise Band, comprised of Mica Ruthardt, Logan Ruthardt, Cory Hunt, Angel Hunt, Trevor Turnbow, and Khalli Ruthardt.

IMG_5706Supper in the dining hall before Tuesday night’s worship service.

IMG_5712Charolette, Shelby, and West Cockerham from Texico, NM, have taken part in the camp for the last few years.

IMG_5723David and Terry Marricle, Irene Mason, Jay Messenger, and Mary Lou Leavell led the singing at Tuesday night’s service. Not pictured are W.T. and Pat Watson and Sally Messenger who accompanied them.

Monty Leavell shared a fitting analogy comparing God’s armor to  cowboy gear: the belt of truth, the vest of righteousness, the boots of the gospel of peace, the chinks of faith, the hat of salvation, the  knife of the spirit, and the spurs of encouragement.IMG_5739IMG_5729Campers and community members enjoy the worship services in the tabernacle.

All that practice was tested the last day of the clinic with roping contests using all the skills worked on during the camp.  Red Bluff belt buckles were awarded to all winners, and all campers received T-shirts and caps.

Kail Brunson of Plainview won the 5 and under dummy roping, Trail Townsend of Earth won the 6-9 division, and Heath Houston of Lubbock won in the 10 and over group.

Steer stopping, which is one roper roping the steer’s horns and stopping the steer, was won by Buck Barnes of Amarillo.

And the team roping, which is what  all this practice leads up, to was won by Gary Crandall of Earth and Sid Morris of Muleshoe.

So if roping, riding, or religion happen to be one of your main topics, come the third weekend in July next year, you might want to consider a trip to Muleshoe to take part in the Christian Roping Camp. Not a bad way to spend a few days with your horse, your family, your God.


And to that, all God’s children can say Amen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Welcome to Garage Sale Central!


The time had come to deal with all the stuff we had culled and moved out of the house for the remodeling project. And while we were at it, I decided to tackle the mounds of forgotten treasures in the attic and in my side of the barn. Oh, and don’t forget the furniture  and stuff  that has been accumulating in the container. So, what does one do with 30 years of  things inherited from parents’ homes, your kids’ forgotten treasures, changes in one’s own decorating forays, and a lifetime of  consumer consumption? Well, a garage sale, of course! And what better time to have one of these American institutions of high finance? During a period of 100+ degree weather and drought, right?


My friend Sheila put some of her things out for the sale and kept me company as we enjoyed the 110 degree day. Misery loves company, so between our extended philosophical discussions, consumption of  mass quantities of liquids and ice at an alarming rate, and visiting with our customers, the day wasn’t half bad. And we made some money while passing along our dust-covered treasures to new owners. What a deal.

IMG_5626All that tan-colored ground you see is pure sand. In a non-drought year that would all be native grass and green.


We had the usual garage sale items, along with awkward things, like a pile of Mexican tile from the remodeling that I sold for a whopping $15 that Bill said he would have paid someone $20 just to haul off, and the rolls of carpet, which also sold,  but some stuff you don’t always see. Like the giant picture frames that used to grace my classroom walls that were  filled with snapshots of my former students and which one of those former students bought –for the memories. Or the chicken coop made into a glass-topped coffee table, which no one bought.


The hardest things to let go of, however, were like those big picture frames, things that held memories gathered over a lifetime:  Caroline’s cheerleading megaphone; AJ’s poster-sized picture of his high school football team; a doll-sized trunk full of doll clothes Mother labored over for my Christmas gift one year; my toddler-sized rocking chair, childhood books read over and over.


Then there were the really inane things that made us laugh and giggle: the boxes and boxes of candles I kept unearthing-and then those same candles that melted in the heat-the box full of those square glass canisters everyone seems to have at least one of; baskets and more baskets.

I also came to realize one more way I have become my mother, not a bad thing, really, but no telling how many sets I found  of napkins with either a tablecloth or placemats to match that she had made, and which we used all the time as I was growing up. Now, I don’t sew like Mother did, but I do seem to have that same desire to create things. For her it was sewing,  needlework, painting, and cooking; for me it has been needlepoint, scrapbooks, gardening, and yes, cooking. The bad part of that need to create, however, is that I had piles of stuff, like artificial flowers that I had every intention of making into these beautiful wreaths and table decorations, which of course, never saw the light of day, and which no one else wanted to fool with and buy, either.


But the sale was a success. The big items, like Bill’s old work truck and my old Mercury Cougar, the tile and carpet, and lots of little stuff all sold. I also believe that the recycling and reusing of garage sale merchandise is a good thing. Waste not, want not, right?  And in the tradition of be careful what you wish for, we finally got a good thunderstorm that drenched all of the left-over stuff that had not been taken to the thrift shop yet.

And that’s okay. We made money; we visited; we cleared out a 30 year accumulation of things; we trekked down memory lane, and we had rain. Garage sale tags-nickel and dime; all the other stuff-priceless.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Three Funerals and the Fourth of July

This was a different Fourth of July. We knew there would be no fireworks due to the drought. Muleshoe’s activities were all scheduled for July 2nd instead of the actual 4th. And then there were the three funerals. My former student and friend, Brant Wedel, lost his grandfather, James Wedel; my doctor and friend, Bruce Purdy,  lost his mother, Frances Purdy; and I lost my lap cat, Kitty.
Now, funerals may not sound like an appropriate way to celebrate the Fourth of July, and especially not one for a cat, but as it turned out, all were fitting.
At his funeral, we learned many things about Mr. Wedel; about his generosity, work ethic, honesty, devotion to family, and his patriotism. His family shared stories about how hard he worked but always managed to be there for important events in their lives, of paying off his farming loans when others were looking for ways out of paying  farming debts, of  his sense of humor, of his pleasure in sharing bags of peanuts-his cash crop-with everyone, of living his Christian faith-he was known to greet the morning sunrise with the opinion that God had sent a Hallelujah! across the sky with color- and of his patriotism. This last one, his love of country, well, what more fitting tribute to a war veteran than to honor him on July 4th? His grandson, Kyle Mahler, who played a lovely version of You’ll Never Walk Alone on his trumpet at the funeral, also delivered the most poignant tribute of all by putting him to rest with Taps as a  part of the ritual of the military honor guard there for the grave side service.
And what about Frances Purdy, Dr. Purdy’s mother? Here was a woman whose legacy, in part, was  her skills as a homemaker whose family will tell you she was the best cook around. We heard stories of  whipping up a chicken-fried steak dinner on a hot plate in the shade of a billboard in the Arizona desert. All they had to do was say they were hungry, and she went to work. I understand fried apricot pies were her specialty.  She was also a competitive  player of games with the grandkids, whose mother lamented that she should let them win once in a while, to which Frances firmly said no, this way it would be a big deal when they finally beat her. And it was. But she connects to the Fourth of July too; she was proud of her husband who was a war hero awarded the Silver Star in WW II and her brother who served and was killed in Korea, a story the family had not heard until late in her life.
And Kitty? Well, she was obviously no war hero, no one’s mother or grandfather, but she was a member of our family, and in that all three shared something very important: the love of a family. I mean no disrespect nor to trivialize  the memory of Mr. Wedel or Mrs. Purdy, but I lost a loved one this July 4th, too. She didn’t affect and shape lives in the manner that Mrs. Purdy and Mr. Wedel so graciously  did, but we did enjoy her company, especially me when she would follow me around waiting for me to sit down so she could settle down in my lap and proceed to purr softly and stay as long as I would let her. I will miss her help here at the computer. She had no formal  funeral, but I did write her a goodbye letter, put it in a plastic bag along with her picture, and buried it with her.
Mr. Wedel was blessed with a sudden and somewhat unexpected passing while waiting for dinner on June 25th.  Mrs. Purdy, who suffered with COPD and congestive heart failure, escaped  her pain on June 19th. Kitty, who had developed inoperable tumors on her old kidneys, was put out of her suffering on the morning of July 2nd.
Mr. Wedel was laid to rest that afternoon in the Muleshoe Memorial Park. Mrs. Purdy was cremated and her ashes scattered in a place special to her. We put Kitty in the front flower bed where she would curl up in the groundcover and secretly watch the world go by.
Independence Day. So many people have lost husbands, wives,  mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, friends who gave bravely and willingly  the ultimate gift. Every time I pass a national cemetery or see a picture of one, it hurts to see how many people had to die for me to take my life in America for granted. We Americans should not take it for granted but  should give thanks to them every day, not just July 4th, that we can watch parades, rodeos, buy at opportunistic store sales, even bury a cat, without worry or fear about the freedom to do so.
So, attend funerals on the Fourth of July? Indeed. What could be more appropriate.