Friday, September 30, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Well, sure enough, I did think of more things that made me smile at school.
Where to start? How about the time I had the Burmese python visit my leadership class? We got to talking about things that some of the kids had never done, like fly in an airplane, ride a train, touch a snake. Touch a snake? I couldn’t believe some of them had never done that, since I had just about given my mother a coronary several times when I proudly showed her the hog-nose snakes I caught as a child. Kids are supposed to touch snakes, catch frogs, toads, raise tadpoles, stuff like that. So it was decided they should have the chance to get up close and personal with a snake. One of my former students just happened to have a six-foot python that he was willing to bring up for show and tell. So he did, and all the kids, no, most of the kids, were willing to at least offer the snake a fingertip to the back of the head. After they had their ah-ha moment and discovered he wasn’t cold, clammy, or wet, but smooth and agreeable, then they all wanted to pet him. Don’t ask me how we knew he was a he; that’s what we were told, and that was fine with us. Boy V, who was one of the shorter kids in class, was especially taken with the snake and before long had it draped around his neck and body and was quite enjoying being the brave one who would allow the snake to curl up around him when Boy J, a much bigger, tougher-looking kid, who had conveniently been called to the office at the start of class, reappeared, saw the snake curling around the other boy, and nearly broke his neck and the door jamb getting out of the room and into the hall to safety. We never did get him to touch that snake. And this was a nice, gentle, slow-moving snake. I wonder if Boy J has, to this day, ever done anything other than shoot snakes from a safe distance.
I remember with fondness the day that Boy M came into class, exasperated, waving his arms, shaking his head, and whining that the teachers were all picking on him. “What is it with you teachers? Do you just think up ways to pick on me every day?” He plopped down in his desk, resigned to the fact that the world was out to get him. Now, you have to know that this kid was pretty proud of himself and many times we teachers could have asked him the same question- did he stay up nights dreaming up ways to irritate us in class? So I said, quite seriously, “Why, yes, M, it’s in our contracts. We get together every morning and plan what we are going to do to you that day.” He gave me a funny look, got real quiet, and wasn’t sure if he should believe me or not. I rather enjoyed the moment.
This next story is not so much funny as it is a six degrees of Kevin Bacon kind of story. I have this friend from high school, Anne Marie, who used to call me on New Year’s Day, and we would catch up on each other’s lives. She hasn’t called lately, but on one of her calls, she couldn’t wait to tell me about her call from a telemarketer. She didn’t buy anything from him, never intended to, but she was willing to talk a while because she said they get paid more for longer calls. I don’t know if that is true, but it would be just like her to try to help someone out like that. Anyway, they are talking along and she asks him where he is located. Amarillo, he says, and she says oh, I have a friend who lives in Muleshoe, isn’t that close by? He says yes, and asks who the friend is. She says Alice Liles, do you know her? And he says yes, she was my English teacher! Turns out the student was Randy Bohler! How small world syndrome is that! I mean, really, what are the chances of a telemarketer making the call to someone who was willing to chat on the phone and have that information come out of the conversation?
I had one student who had the distinction of being my student for four years, once in 7th grade and three times in freshman English. He wasn’t stupid; on the contrary, he was plenty smart. School just wasn’t on his list of important things to do. He passed 7th grade in pretty good shape, but about the time I moved up to high school to teach freshman English, so did he. Ninth grade was another matter. He missed too many days, had a real aversion to doing his homework, and flunked freshman English. Or maybe he just liked being in my class. So for the next two years he took two English classes a year, freshman and sophomore English, then freshman and junior English, and he may have had to double up his senior year as well, but he earned his English credits, and finally made it out of high school. But the story is that one day of that fourth year I had him, I was called to the office. My room was close to the office then, and I wouldn’t have to be gone but a couple of minutes, and this was back when it was relatively safe to leave a roomful of kids for a few minutes, so I dashed out after telling them to sit tight and I would be right back. Which I was, but when I walked in, there was Boy L up at my lectern teaching the day’s lesson! And doing a pretty good job, I must say. I see him from time to time now and am pleased to report he has matured into a responsible young man with a nice family and a good job as foreman in one of the area industries. That’s one of the fun things about teaching high school; seeing how kids turn out. And they do actually grow up!
On the subject of having kids more than one year, when I moved up to high school I did have a bunch of kids several times, now that I think about it, but not because they kept flunking freshman English! I had some of them in G/T in junior high, 7th grade reading, freshman English, regular leadership, and it seems like one other subject-I forget. It’s been a while. I suspect that is more likely to happen in a smaller school. I taught all the freshman English classes, so they had to come through my class for at least that one subject, as they had to do for 7th grade reading. So we knew each other pretty well there for a while. In fact, that class did me the honor of asking me to deliver their commencement address when they graduated, which also gave me the distinction of being the first female commencement speaker at a Muleshoe High School graduation exercise. That would have been back in, oh, gosh, what year, the mid ‘90s? I will have to look it up and get back to you.
And my last story today is one I promised Riley Byers. For several years I taught a PAL (Peer Assistance and Leadership) class, not the same leadership class of the snake story. The PAL class was involved in a variety of things, but their focus was mentoring younger kids and also providing academic and peer mediation help in high school. Riley was in that class. Every year the kids would design the T-shirt they would wear on trips and various occasions in their capacity as PALs. That particular year we were arguing over the design, and Riley hastily drew something on a piece of paper and pitched it on my desk. We all looked at it; some of the kids giggled; Riley defended his design, and the more they thought about it, the more appropriate it seemed to be for what we were all about. Simple, to the point, hit the nail right on the head. As it happens, my T-shirt has an honored place on my T-shirt quilt, so this is the one school story for which I have a picture to share with you:
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Another great night for football; another win for the Mules. I traveled to the far side of Lubbock all by myself, as Bill had to be gone, and Colten went with one of his friends-imagine that, a 17-year old choosing a 17-year old friend over his grandmother! But it gave me a chance to explore heretofore, for me, uncharted territory.
The drive was pleasant, and the game was a good opener to district play, and I even got in for free, being 65 and all. Thank goodness there are a few perks to falling into the dreaded Senior Citizen category! Why can’t they just call us what we are- old people.
But I digress. After a nice visit with a former student as I walked into the stadium and wondering about two shiny silver objects hovering quietly over the cotton fields, Roosevelt missed a field goal, and we answered with a touchdown, and the fast first quarter ended with the score 7-0.
The second quarter started with a Roosevelt touchdown but a failed two-point conversion, and we came back to fumble, recover, and scored with a failed PAT, so the score was 13-6. Roosevelt almost scored on their next possession but we managed to intercept a pass and stopped that. Then we couldn’t score and punted, and Beau ended the half with another interception.
The Mules made a 70-yard drive with a short pass to Adelaido Godeniz for the score and extra point, which made the score 20-6 about four minutes into the third quarter. Roosevelt got the ball but had to punt back to us pretty quickly, and after some nice quick ten-yards-at-a-time first downs, we finally scored, so now the score was 26-6.
The fourth quarter saw more of both teams giving up the ball. Beau threw an interception that Roosevelt managed to turn into a touchdown and extra point, so the score was 26-13. Roosevelt tried and captured their own onside kick but followed that with an intercepted pass, after which we fumbled. Caleb Wood finished the game at QB, and the final score was 26-13.
Beau Avila had a good night with a career high of 121 yards rushing, according the the Clovis News Journal, along with 162 yards passing and two touchdowns.
I enjoyed this game and found myself watching the blinking red lights of wind turbines and the lights of the flat Lubbock skyline marking the horizon behind the home stands.
Next week Bushland comes to town. Stay tuned.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Funny stuff happens in classrooms and schools everywhere every year. Teachers fail to write down those funny things everywhere every year. I’m one of those teachers. We foolishly think we will remember all those funny stories. And of course we don’t.
But I was able to remember a couple of them that might bring a smile or two.
Like the time Coach Ted Lepps and teacher Kevin Noack plotted a prank against MHS principal Dave Jenkins. They knew he had a Subway sandwich every day for lunch, so on the appointed day they stealthily followed him , parked at a discreet distance, waited for him to go in to the Subway shop, and then one of them jumped in Mr. Jenkins’ pick-up, where he had conveniently left the keys, and drove it around to the north side of the building where Mr. Jenkins would not be able to see it when he came out. They waited, no doubt full of smirks and giggles, until he came out, found no pick-up, and stood there dumbfounded, until they had laughed enough and let him in on the joke by honking their horn. I’m sure it would have been a lot more fun to be there in person, but it was also fun to watch them regale everyone with the details back at school.
And then I also remember one of the faculty Christmas gift-exchanges when counselor Linda Marr and I pulled off our own little caper when we teamed up to create this great poster that we were giving Mr. Jenkins’ wife Sheri at the party. LInda found this great poster of this really hot guy in a skimpy bathing suit grinning and holding a sign that said “Will Work for Sex” and I had taken a picture of Mr. Jenkins’ face that we had enlarged, cut out, and positioned on the poster so that he now had the hot body holding the sign. Poor unsuspecting Sheri opened the poster and then of course had no choice but to display it for all to see. That was fun.
Bless Mr. Jenkins 'heart, he always took these things good-naturedly, and we always had a good time at work. which made it fun to get up in the mornings. All of the pranks never got in the way of teaching the kids, either. In spite of all the jokes, he did run a smooth ship because he knew he could trust us to still get the job done. Just like the Sophie the sofa cat incident illustrates (The Sofa Cat, March 7, 2010), we knew if we took care of business, he would take it in stride and life would go on.
I remember the time that Linda Marr did a number on me. Historically one of our cafeteria’s best meals was always its turkey dinner at Thanksgiving and Christmas. This one year I actually had a student assistant for one period which happened to be the period right before lunch, so on one of those turkey meal days, I sent Josie to the cafeteria to get a tray for me. She did, and left it in the workroom at my usual place at the table. When the bell rang, I went to the workroom to enjoy my meal and the company of the other teachers who regularly ate there. Things were just fine until I bit down on a foreign object in my dressing and spit out a plastic cricket! Well, we all had a good laugh, I wondered how it got there, and continued eating. Up popped another one in the mashed potatoes! And then another under the slice of turkey! And I think by the time it was over, I counted five of the little critters. As you can see, I don’t let a little plastic keep me from enjoying a meal. Now I suspected the student aide had been bribed into being an accomplice, so later that day I cornered her in the hall, despite her ducking, and she ‘fessed up that Mrs. Marr had instructed her to bring my tray by her office so she could implant the insects. Those crickets lived in my desk drawer for several years and always brought a smile to my face. I have no idea what substitute teachers thought when they saw them nestled among the paper clips. After they jumped back, I hope they, too, smiled.
We had been discussing the connotation of words in my junior English class, and it just so happened that McDonald’s had recently come to town. I asked if the kids thought of Muleshoe as a town or a city, and several in the class agreed we were a city. Really? I questioned them, and was informed very seriously by Samuel that of course we were a city-we had a McDonald's…
Then there was time when Al Bishop was the high school principal and the students were whining about the dress code or something else that kids tend to whine about as being grossly unfair. I think the issue in question was about wearing shorts, or the length of shorts, whatever. This prompted a discussion among the teachers about appropriate dress, and who knows what else at this point. Probably we were whining about being taken for granted, and it was decided we should turn the tables on the little darlin’s and have a shorts-for-teachers day. So we did. Most all the teachers did wear shorts on the appointed day, and those who didn’t at least went out of their typical dress zone and wore something much more casual. This was back in the days when it was easy to separate the students from the teachers based on what each group wore, so when prim and proper Mrs. Wrinkle showed up in capris, well, the kids didn’t know what to think. We thought it was great! We had fun that day.
And despite the mundane and frustrating days we also had, it is nice to be able to think back and laugh over stuff like this. Maybe all this reliving the past will jump start my memory, and I will remember a few more of the stories I failed to write down. I hope so.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I am still dealing with boxes of stuff packed away for the house remodeling and then boxes left over from the garage sale. Last night I was sorting through yet one more of those boxes and came across a little book titled The Quotable Woman. All progress stopped as I made the mistake of thumbing through it.
What I discovered was that all the good quotes have already been credited to someone else! Just like all the good book titles have already been taken. I mean, how much more melodious and inviting can a title get than A River Runs Through It ?
But back to the quotes, all kinds of collections of quotes are out there, and while all of them are not particularly profound or funny or insightful, wouldn’t it be neat to have said something someone thought worthy of being recorded and passed on? I guess part of it, for me, is to think that I would be leaving something of value and that someone in the future would read it, have an epiphany and think I was really a profound thinker. Right. Like that is going to happen. Besides saying something profound, it really helps to get it into print if you also happen to be famous, so given that I am not famous or profound, well, there you have it…
I have always liked little quotes and sayings (see “The Vitamind,” December 15, 2010) because sometimes they just hit the nail right on the head and stick with you. For instance, many is the time I can relate to “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.” Mostly I do the just sitting part. I always thought Pogo from the comic strip said that, but it turns out it was Satchel Paige, the great baseball player. He must have been quite the philosopher because I came across another one of his pithy comments in what I thought was a great birthday card, which had two old men playing leap-frog and another Satchel Paige quote underneath: “Age is a question of mind over matter; if you don’t mind, age don’t matter.”
Pogo did make the observation that “We have met the enemy and he is us,” and really, haven’t we all been the instigator of many of our own problems and crises from time to time? Be honest. You know you have. I certainly have.
About the only insightful thing I can remember coming up with is that when the kids were teenagers we stumbled onto the awful truth that “It’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, but how you look that makes the difference.” Are we cynics at my house, or in this day and age, just realists?
And I could go on and on with great stuff other people have said, words to live by, if you will, but I will leave you with one that helps in many situations: “A live well-lived is the best revenge.”
But then I try to remember this one at mealtime, which comes from that great thinker, Miss Piggy: “Never eat more than you can lift.”
What’s your favorite quote?
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Fall weather finally kicked in, homecoming was celebrated, and Muleshoe and Andrews traded touchdowns to the obnoxious blarings of air horns on steroids to a 63-34 finale.
These stupid air horns had a heyday, what with all the scoring giving them way too many opportunities to blast us out of the stands. Andrews brought one all dolled up with flashing colored lights, which apparently convinced someone from Muleshoe to drag one up, and the two proceeded to have their own little juvenile contest of who could squeal the loudest and ruin the most eardrums. I hope this is not a ritual we hear repeated in future games.
But I digress. After Stephanie Vasquez was crowned homecoming queen, Jr. Baca scores very quickly on the Mule’s first possession, and suddenly we are in the lead 8-0. Soon after Adelaido Godinez scores another one for us, 15-0. Then Andrews scores right before the end of the first quarter, but we block the PAT, making it 15-6.
The first quarter was fast; the rest of the game was not. And I could try to give you a blow-by-blow, but I don’t’ think I will. Both teams had some exciting runs, long passes, interceptions, and bad defensive stands, which after some plays had us all shaking our collective heads and wondering where the boys’ heads were during some of those plays.
I don’t know who the coaches might consider the MVP of that game, but I heard Jr. Baca, Ray Martinez, Ryan Deleon, Beau Avila, and especially Isaac Baca mentioned many times during the night. Beau quarterbacked most of the night, but Caleb Wood worked that position as well toward the end of the game.
The Mules don’t play next Friday, but will go to Lubbock Roosevelt on September 23rd for the opening of district play. Tune in then, and we will see if the defense shows up for that game.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
I suspect you are familiar with Jeff Foxworthy's You might be a Redneck comedy routine, and now he has taken it a step further with You may live in Texas and it was forwarded to me in an email recently.
I could relate to all of his scenarios, but a few really hit home, like this one: If you’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you may live in Texas. I called my mother, I thought, one day, to ask what I was doing wrong when cooking fresh green beans, and I started the conversation with no greeting but just bombarded her with the question. This voice on the other end hesitated a minute, gave me an answer, paused, and then said, totally dumbfounded, “Who is this?” After I apologized for calling her instead of my mother, we laughed, talked a minute, and then hung up. Neither one of us had a clue who we were talking to, but we had a nice little visit.
As for Foxworthy’s other You might live in Texas statements, I can confirm that my students used to wear shorts and a coat to school all the time; we always measure our trips in hours rather than distance; I know how to use jumper cables; I have definitely driven 80 mph in Houston; and when we finally got a cold front yesterday and the temperature dropped to a pleasant 60, after all this 100+ degree weather, darn it, it did feel a bit chilly!
This list got me to thinking about things particular to our little town, which, of course, might also apply to your town, but maybe not. So with thanks to Jeff Foxworthy for celebrating our Texan idiosyncrasies and apologies for borrowing his format, I present my list of observations based on life in Muleshoe, You might live in a small West Texas town if-
Your preacher wears cowboy boots and Western clothes on Sunday morning, and he isn’t even the Cowboy Church preacher;
Your town actually has a Cowboy Church;
You see pick-ups with stock trailers still hooked up in the church parking lots on Sunday morning, just because its handier that way;
Your town has one stop light, down from seven back in the old days;
Everyone goes to Friday night high school football games, even if they don’t have a child or relative on the team or in the band;
You see everyone you know strolling up and down the aisles of the new United Supermarket, the grand opening of which is more like the social event of the year rather a store opening;
Your former student, the son of the owner of the water well drilling company, brings a back-hoe to your house, digs a grave in the pasture, buries your horse, and never charges you for his trouble;
The only time you have to lock your car is in the summer to keep friends from sneaking their surplus okra and squash into the back seat;
They know your husband by name at McDonald’s where his group goes for morning coffee;
If the drive-though line at McDonald’s is too long because of all the pick-ups and stock trailers in line in front of you, and you can admire the rumps of a couple of good horses while you wait;
The neighborhood three-legged pit bull is known by name and welcomed at the golf course and in the pro shop.
And this last one needs a set-up. Years ago we made a trip to Ft. Smith, Arkansas, to visit relatives. As we passed by Ft. Smith Country Club, one of those exclusive, old money clubs, Bill pointed it out to the kids, who were probably about nine and eleven at the time. AJ took one look at the fancy cars parked neatly in front of the clubhouse, and remarked, quite seriously, that it couldn’t possibly be a country club because there were no pick-ups in the parking lot…which brings us to my last observation,
If nearly all of the vehicles in the Country Club parking lot are pick-ups, most of which probably aren’t locked and might have a rifle behind the seat, you just might live in a small West Texas town.
Can you add anything to the list?
Saturday, September 3, 2011
I’m afraid I have to admit we were what Aggies disdainfully label a two-percenter last night, you know, someone who only gives 2% in effort and loyalty to their team, and did not attend the Muleshoe-Portales football game. So I will give credit to Dave Wagner who covered the game for the Clovis News-Journal for the information I will summarize for you about the game.
Senior quarterback Beau Avila threw for three touchdowns and ran for the other one, all in the first half, which was enough to win the game. It seems the Mules also had four turnovers in this game, three less than last week, so that may be something they need to work on.
Even though the second half saw Portales rally and score their points, the Mules’ lead provided an opportunity for several Mules’ backup players to go in and get some experience, which is always a good thing.
Next week is Homecoming against Andrews here. I will be at that game-not that it will make my report any better!-but at least I will see first hand what transpires and will lose the dreaded two-percenter label.