Tuesday, November 27, 2012

And Finally, The X-Rated Tale From School

I had just moved into the second of the three rooms assigned to me during my tenure at Muleshoe High School. As I remember it, and that is using the term loosely as it has been a few years, it was a work day and my work was caught up, so I decided to clean out and rearrange my desk, This blocky old desk looked like it had been there forever, the traditional teacher’s desk made of wood stained  a light blond color and was built hell for stout, as my daddy would have said.

I started with the shallow center drawer, the one that catches all the pencils, paper clips, and little stuff that start out in their own neat little compartments or boxes and wind up mixed in with everything else and tangled up in the rubber bands and dust bunnies that should have been thrown away a long time ago.

That drawer done, I moved to the stacks of drawers on either side of the desk, throwing away left-over files of the previous occupant and confidently arranging my files that I was sure I would refer to often and which then gathered dust just like the ones before them. All the things I really used wound up on the desktop in sometimes less than orderly piles.

I was down to the bottom drawer on the left-hand side and had just emptied it of the notebooks, loose scrap paper, and  years of accumulated flotsam wadded in the corners when I came upon one of those shiny metal buttons with a pin on the back. I turned it over and read the caption, I LOVE P- - - - .

Really? In a teacher’s desk? I was taken aback! I couldn’t help but smile. How long had this button hidden, nestled there quietly until today? And what teacher took it off of which kid? And why wasn’t it on file in the principal’s office or somewhere as evidence of a student’s wrongdoing? Or thrown away before it landed in the wrong hands-again? Or was it the teacher’s to begin with? Aha! Now, that may be the real story. I think I remember which teacher had this room and therefore this desk before me, but that teacher could have inherited the desk with its hidden missive just like I did. But surely she would have discovered it when she took over possession of the desk, just like I did. Or maybe not.

Well, since the button had survived this long, it just didn’t seem right to  toss it and end the mystery, so considering I have sort of a perverse sense of humor anyway,  I tucked it into my jacket pocket without a clue as to what I would wind up doing with it and went on about my business.

Time passed. The button was sort of forgotten as it resided in its new secret place.  I would wear the jacket from time to time and eventually my hand would come across the button quietly waiting to be rediscovered and marveled at. I would touch it and smile at the memory of the day it surprised me, drop it back into the pocket, and continue on.

The evening came when I wore the jacket to a holiday Christmas affair, the annual Dress Red party given by a group of women in the community. The hostesses would gather our coats as we entered and store them on a bed in the bedroom until we were ready to leave. When the time came for me to depart, I went in to retrieve my jacket, gathered it up and said my goodbyes as I walked out the door. By the time I made it to the car I realized I had someone else’s jacket. This jacket was made very much like mine, but this one didn’t have the telltale button in the pocket!

Back in I rushed to frantically go through the pile of coats to find mine, and thank goodness no one had made the same mistake I had and taken mine instead of her own. 

But if someone had,  I would have loved to seen the expression on that woman’s face when she discovered the mystery button.

And then would she ever had admitted to me that she saw the button when we exchanged jackets?

Ah, the stories that little button could tell!

You know, I’d better go check and make sure it is still safe and waiting for its next adventure.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Season’s Over; Memories Remain. Mules 34, Eastland 48


The Mighty Mules’ season may be over, but Mule Mania is alive and well and  the team and fans have much to reflect upon positively.

The Mules met the Eastland Mavericks at Snyder's Tiger Stadium Friday night. Again we were blessed with perfect football weather: bright half-moon, crisp and cold (by the end of the game a bit too cold perhaps), not much wind, and a good crowd on both sides. I think the Mules had the most. But then Eastland would say the same thing.

At any rate, the game started off well, with our band doing a nice rendition of the national anthem, and Garrison Myers giving a heartfelt, thoughtful prayer, an actual prayer over the loud speaker. How long has it been since you have experienced that? Eastland won the toss choosing to kick off first. On the second play in this first series we commit our first false start, a mistake that plagues the Mules the entire game. The tension in this game is palpable and that is just one way it manifests itself all night. We have to punt on 4th and 12, but manage to get the ball back when the ball takes a bounce off someone’s helmet and we recover. A few short plays later quarterback Caleb Wood carries it in for the touchdown, and we are ahead 7-0 with 6:32 remaining. Unfortunately, two first downs later Eastland also scores, so now it is 7-7 with 4:43 on the clock. We fumble on the possession after the punt, but then our defense holds tough, and we get the ball back, and the quarter ends tied 7-7.

The second quarter sees the Mules commit the second false start, followed by an interception followed by a ridiculously easy score by the Mavericks, and the score is 7-14 with 10:55 on the clock. The Mules have the ball, but the third false start  and few plays later we give it up and 4th and 13, and by the time the clock says 4:14, Eastland has scored again. Chris Cage makes a tackle to stop their two-point conversion, and the score is 7-20. The Mules rally, however, and manage to score with 32.7 seconds before halftime, and the score is 14-20. But with 4.6 seconds left, Eastland also rallies and scores, miss the extra point, and the quarter ends with the score 14-26

The third quarter starts with the Mules kicking off, each team receiving a penalty apiece when we recover a fumble. The fourth false start occurs, but we are able to march down the field for a touchdown and point after, making the score 21-27. Eastland keeps the ball for one series and punt, but then we have to return the favor and punt right back to them. Our defense holds them, causing another punt to us, and we go on to score. We go for two after yet another false start, but the attempt fails, and this quarter ends 27-26. And at this point, the fans are all taking a deep breath, as I am sure the players did, feeling like momentum was now on our side.

The momentum doesn’t last long, however, as Eastland goes on to score again with 8:59 showing, making the score 27-32. On our next possession we commit false start number 6, throw another interception and see the Mavericks score again with 5:18 left. The score is now 27-41, and time is a factor. And then on our first play after the kick-off, Wood connects with Austin Ross who makes a whopping 75-yard run for a touchdown, Ignacio Elizalde makes the extra point, and the score is 34-41; 5:07 left. Time is even more a factor. And Eastland runs off just as much of it as they can before scoring again with 2:11 left, Now it is 34-48 Eastland, and the handwriting is pretty much on the scoreboard. We make a quick first down on a pass to Ross, but the next pass is intercepted, and that is pretty much it. Eastland makes another first down before running out the clock, and the season ends for the Mules, 34-48. Eastland will go on to play Bangs in the next round of the playoffs.

Our seniors were especially unhappy with the loss, naturally, but the fans were still proud of them and let them know it after the game with lots of congratulations for a good season as we all went down on the field to hug their necks. They have done well, conducted themselves as gentlemen and sportsmen all season and gave us all exciting Friday nights to remember.

As we used to say when I was in school, Way to be, Mules! Thanks for the memories.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Have A New Blog!

Yes, I have added a new blog, Cactus Are Cool, devoted exclusively to the subject of cactus and succulents. I will post a story once a week and add pictures to the section called Blooming Now when something is blooming, which lately, is something new every day, and add tips on caring for cactus under Cactus Care.

I enjoy my cactus so much that this seemed like the logical next step. I may still have stories and pictures about cactus here in The Bright Lights of Muleshoe from time to time, but Cactus Are Cool will be nothing but cactus-related topics. Even if you think you are not interested in cactus, I hope you will give it a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what you learn about them and appreciate their uniqueness even if you still don’t care to try to grow one. I will have to warn you, though, they are seductive and addictive.

My tech support person and I are still working out the bugs, so bear with me. It may take a little time for it to fulfill my expectations. But cactus and succulents have a way of growing slowly, just sitting there, but then suddenly you come in one day to find they have magically grown and even have a bloom to share that you didn’t expect. So I am hoping that the blog may do the same thing- sit there for a while, and then suddenly become a font of information and pretty pictures. I may know a lot about cactus, but I don’t know that much about computers, and therein lies the problem.

So check the blog from time to time at www.cactusarecool.wordpress.com or click on the link Cactus Are Cool down there under About Me on the right hand side of this blog and be amazed and informed. It will be fun. Really.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mules 47, Denver City 22

Mule Mania was happy last night as the Mules played their way into the Bi-District 2A Division 1 Championship against the Denver City Mustangs,winning 47 to 22.

It was a good football night at Lubbock Cooper’s Pirate Stadium, where the game was held. The air was crisp and became crisper, and the lights of Lubbock twinkled on the horizon all around us. We wiin the toss and choose to kick off first as the announcer invites the fans, of which we number more than Denver City, to get ready to rumble! And we are. Ready, that is, as Denver City makes two quick first downs before Saul Sanchez intercepts a pass, which the Mules take advantage of by scoring a touchdown three first downs later. Xavier Reyes carries it in and Nacho Elizalde misses the extra point, something he rarely does, and the Mules lead 6-0 with 7:14 left in the first quarter. Denver City can’t move on their next possession and have to punt. Three Mule first downs later Jr. Baca scores, we go for two and don’t make it, so the score is now 12-0. On the kick-off we try an onside kick, something that hasn’t always worked well for us, but this time we get it! We go on three plays later to another touchdown by Baca again. The PAT is good and the score is now Mules 19, Mustangs 0 with 3:39 left on the clock. Again Denver City can’t go anywhere and two first downs later Baca scores again, the kick is good again, and the score is 26-0. Two plays later the quarter is over and Denver City has the ball.

The second quarter Denver City picks up some momentum, or perhaps the Mules let down their guard a bit since they are doing well at this point, because after the Mustangs have to punt when they can’t move on that first possession, Austin Ross drops a long pass, something he seldom does, Ray Martinez makes up for it with a nice run, but a pass intended for Colten Harris is picked off, and three first downs later and one good sack on Saul Sanchez’s part, the Mustangs just slip right by and run in a touchdown. They decide to go for two, but we commit a personal foul, which will be assessed on the kick-off, but means they get to replay the play and this time they make the two points. So the score is now Mules 26, Mustangs 8 with 7:42 on the clock. Momentum is still on their side because we fumble the kick-off which they recover with good field position catch us unaware again and score, missing the point after and making the score 26-14. The next series the Mules regroup and quickly score again  on a nice 55-yard run by Baca. The PAT is good, and the score is 33-14 with 5:55 left in the quarter. They come back, however, with a 70-yard run for a touchdown, which is called back due to an ineligible receiver downfield. We then force them to punt, but we commit a chop block foul and lose 15 yards. A few plays, one flag, and a long pass to Ross later, quarterback Caleb Wood runs in for the touchdown with 2:07 on the clock. The PAT is good, and the score is 40-14.Denver City gives up the ball on fourth down, and three plays later Wood throws an interception, but nothing comes of it or our next possession, and the half ends with the score still 40-14, Muleshoe.

We receive at the beginning of the second quarter. Four quick first downs later Sanchez makes another TD, another good PAT, and the score is 47-14 with 7:22 left in the quarter. Denver City  gives up the ball after three plays, but on our possession we fumble, they recover and manage to score. Their two-point conversion is good, and the score is 47-22 with 3:03 on the clock. The rest of the quarter seems to take forever, and no one scores again, so the quarter ends with the 47-22 score.

The fourth quarter, which ends up with no scoring on either side,  begins with Ross intercepting a pass, and we eat up lots of clock, but don’t score before having to eventually give up the ball. Reyes goes on to intercept a Denver City pass but is called for pass interference and Denver City gets the ball back but can’t do anything with it. We get the ball again, run the clock, send in the JV for a couple of plays, and the game is over: Mules 47, Mustangs 22.

So now the Mules will meet Eastland at Tiger Stadium in Snyder at 7 o’clock on Friday, November 23rd. Be there to enjoy Mule Mania and watch the Mules win!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

R-Rated Tales From School, Continued…

In the 1999-2000 school year I was teaching junior English. The way the schedule fell, fourth period was a testosterone smart bomb just waiting to explode: twenty boys, nearly all of whom were football players who went on that fall to the state semi-finals, three girls, and me. This was a batch of good kids, smart kids, fun to teach. I suspect on some days our noise level was above acceptable, but they always did their work, and I would like to think learned something along the way.

I had discovered the game of Scattergories and on some days when we finished an assignment early or for whatever reason had a little free time, which occasionally happened back then before the alphabet soup of testing became more important than learning. Besides, coming up with the answers is a form of vocabulary building and broadening general knowledge, not to mention creative thinking,  so there you have it.  I would divide them randomly into four teams, and we would play a few rounds of the game. If you are familiar with Scattergories, you know that you have a list of ten items to name which have to begin with the letter of the alphabet that comes up on the die that is cast before each round. The teams have a minute to think of  their answers and then each team tells what they came up with. Original answers are the only ones to get points; any repeats are thrown out. The team with the most point won candy.

And of course, as luck would have it, some games were more challenging than others. Like the one where the die cast came up with the letter P, and we were doing list 4: sports, song titles, parts of the body…

Oh, well. Good. This won’t be awkward or anything. By the time we had made the first two rounds and got to parts of the body, the hormones were bouncing off the walls; laughter and anticipation filled the room. I think the first team offered up pancreas, but the second team couldn’t come up with pituitary or pelvic bone or pericardium-yeah, right, like they were going to get that sophisticated about it-because what they really wanted to say was the other body part that was on all their minds. And of course, see if they could shock the teacher.

Finally Danny R. who never had a shy day in his life,  jumps up. Grinning from ear to ear, loving his position as the center of attention, he throws back his shoulders and announces proudly, “That’s okay, Miz Liles, I’ll say it (knowing they were all on pins and needles for someone to say it) I’ll say it-penis!”

And there it was. The kids loved it. And let’s face it, it was funny. I was just tickled they didn’t progress to that other body part sometimes identified by a slang word starting with a P.

But that’s another story. Tune in next week.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mules 42, Littlefield 51

I am sad to report that the Mighty Mules faltered tonight, as the Littlefield Wildcats slipped past them 51-42 in an exciting, hard-fought game. You should have been there.

The stream of traffic was heavy as the Littlefield fans made their way to Benny Douglas stadium; they filled the visitors’ stands, the first time that has happened this year. Emotions ran high on their part, as they had lost a player to suicide a couple of weeks ago, and their quarterback fanned desire even more when he pointed out that they had not beaten this bunch of Muleshoe seniors since their 7th grade year. Muleshoe, of course, wanted to add another win to that list as they moved on to the playoffs. This promised from the start to be a tough game, no matter what color you wore.

And it was, from beginning to the very end, as you will see in a minute. We received first and marched down the field, making five quick first downs and quarterback Caleb Wood runs it in with 8:18 on the clock. Nacho Elizalde made the point after and the score was Mules 7, Wildcats 0. A kick-off and two first downs later, one of their big running back plows through to the end zone. Their point after is no good, so the score is 7-6 with 5:32 left in the first quarter. But the Mules come right back and two  plays later Wood carries it in again, Elizalde kicks again; score now 14-6. After the kick-off, Littlefield makes four first downs before the end of the quarter.

Then the second quarter barely gets going good before Littlefield scores again and try a two-point conversion, which we stop, so the score is now 14-12. We turn around and answer that with a very quick, two-play drive and the score is now 21-12 with 9:56 on the clock. Things are looking good at this point, but this is about when the stumble begins. Our kick to Littlefield is short on purpose to inhibit a long return on their part, which is okay, but then they are about to slip past us when they fumble and Ryan Johnson recovers. All looks good until two first downs later Wood throws a long pass that is intercepted and Littlefield manages to run it in for another touchdown. Their point after, however, hits the goal post, which helps, and the score is 21-18 with 7:12 left in the second quarter. Then what has to be the turning point in the game occurs when we have yet another pass intercepted and they manage to turn it into a touchdown and extra point, making the score 21-25, the first time since we played Shallowater at the first of the year that Muleshoe has been behind. And from that point on, the Mules were never able to recover the lead. We get the ball, but two first downs later, we have yet another pass intercepted and another Littlefield  touchdown is scored, minus the point after, making the score 21-31. We get the ball back with 51 seconds left, make a nice surprise trick pass play, but can’t move it into the end zone. The half ends with Littlefield ahead 21-31.

The third quarter Littlefield has the ball but gives it up to us pretty quickly. We make three quick first downs and things are looking good again, until we fumble on the eight yard line. They, however, turn around and fumble themselves and we recover and are able to score, closing their lead to 28-31. Five first downs later and lots of clock eaten up, they score again, miss the extra point, and the score is 28-38. And again, when we get the ball, two quick first downs later we score again and close the gap to 35-38 and the quarter ends.

LIttlefield has possession at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and in spite of some good defense, one tackle in particular by Xavier Reyes, they manage to take it in again, extra point good, and the score is 35-45. We respond with a quick touchdown run made by Austin Ross with the help of a good block by Colten Harris, and the score moves up again, 42-45 with 7:34 left in the game.  We try an onside kick, which doesn’t work, and Littlefield uses up lots of clock, scoring with a minute 58 seconds left. We did block the point after, so the score stands at 42-51, and time is running out. We throw another interception, and at this point some people start to leave. But you should never leave until it is really over, because then Littlefield fumbles and we recover. Yes, I know, time is running out, but you just never know. Unfortunately, in desperation, Wood tries valiantly again, passes, only to see it intercepted again. One play later, the clock is allowed to run out, and the game is over, Mules 42, Littlefield 51.

But what a game! This one definitely wasn’t over till it was over, and both teams fought till the end, just the way it should be. The Mules have nothing to be ashamed of and will get another chance next week when they play Denver City in the first round of the playoffs. You will have to check other sources for time and place, as I am not privy to that information at this time.

Find out the details, because you still need to be there. Mule Mania is alive and well.

Go Mules!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An R-Rated Tale From School-Or Maybe PG-13 In Today’s World

A while back I shared some stories from school with you. You may also have read about my attending a Jaston Williams writing workshop in Lubbock the other day. I shared a story from school at the workshop in one of our assignments, as we were writing from life experiences. So I will share that story with you in a slightly different form.

It had been one of those days. When lunch time came, I stayed in the room to grade 4th period’s tests so that would be one less set of papers to lug home. This was back in the old building, before all the renovations, and my room was big and my desk was on the back wall away from the hallway and my door. I became aware of noise coming down the quiet hall. Girls’ voices became louder, chattering about who knows what. The closer they came the louder and more animated they became. But apparently one of the girls had listened to enough, and I heard, in this crystal clear voice above the chatter, “Oh, just shut the f--- up!”

For a split second there was silence. I looked up and caught a fleeting glimpse as three girls glided past my door. The girls took a breath, I sat in surprised shock. and without missing another beat, the conversation started up again, albeit a bit more subdued. Immobilized by indecision, my shoulders dropped, and I let out a big sigh. Geez, I suppose I should deal with that, but I don’t want to. The exasperated girl didn’t mean for me to hear that. They were oblivious to any teacher being within ear shot.

Let it go, I decided. The speaker of the expletive no doubt had had a morning like mine, and I knew just how she felt.

I asked April Smith, down the hall, if she had heard the girls and told her what had transpired. We both laughed, commiserated with the ring leader, and from then on when we were bored to distraction by one of our fellow teachers who liked to expound upon her own useless ideas at our faculty meetings, we would instinctively look at each other, roll our eyes, and mouth in silence “just shut the f…” grin knowingly, and try to look interested as this person blathered on ad nauseum about whatever. Like the girl in the hall, we were never reprimanded, either, but it didn’t take any special lip-reading skills to know what we had silently screamed at the offending  speaker. So I always figured there were others in the group who were thinking the same thing themselves.

So the years have passed, but there are times when I find myself in a similar situation. Like once when I was cornered by an obnoxious grandmother who was just sure I would want to hear all about her lovely, talented, beautiful, smart, blah, blah, blah, successful granddaughter. As she yammered on and on -and on- I couldn’t help but wish Mrs. Smith was sitting across the way, so I could roll my eyes at her, mouth the magic phrase, and chuckle to myself as I escaped the present, slipped back into my room, and listened for surprises in the hall.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mules 37, Childress 14

The game was relatively short, but the drive was not, so I am a bit late in reporting that Muleshoe came out on top against Childress last night, 37-14.

The weather was wonderful; we took cold weather clothes and blankets, and then sat there in shirt sleeves and light jackets. Alas, I failed to catch the announcer’s name, but got a kick out of his enthusiasm for both teams, mispronounced Spanish surnames, and clever comments, like the proof needed for the winner to pick up the autographed Bobcat helmet they had a drawing for- “just bring your driver’s license, fingerprints, and blood sample to claim your prize.”

The clock showed 7:21 before the Mules drew first blood, with QB Caleb Wood carrying in for the touchdown and Nacho Elizalde making good on the extra point. At 3:33 Childress scores, but misses the PAT, making the score 7-6, Muleshoe. Then before the end of the quarter we score again on a pass to Austin Ross and the score is 14-6, Muleshoe.

Childress owns the first of the second quarter, however, eating the clock down to 5:04, passing for a two-point conversion, and the score is 14-14. When we get the ball, we make two quick first downs, and on the third series Ross makes a fun play when the ball is thrown to him, almost intercepted, and he basically just takes it back from the Childress player and makes the first down. But we are not able to keep the momentum and give up the ball on fourth down. Childress is not able to move the ball, either, and we get it back with 47 seconds left before the half. We can’t get into the end zone, either, but Elizalde saves the day with a nice little, oh, about a 35-yard field goal before the half and makes the score 17-14.

The third quarter is exciting with lots off near interceptions, fumbled snaps by Childress, long passes by both teams, and the score remains 17-14.

The fourth quarter sees Xavier Reyes catch a pass for a touchdown, Elizalde PAT, bumping up the score to 24-14, followed by Ray Martinez running for a TD, with a rare miss by Elizalde and the score is 30-14. Martinez, by the way, had a big night, knocking down several key Childress passes and working his little butt off.  More Childress fumbles later, Shawn Atwood recovers one of them right at the end zone for a touchdown, Elizalde kicks and the score is 37-14. We do an onside kick that Childress covers but can’t move, and they turn over the ball to us. We run down the last 31 seconds and the game is over. Mules 37, Childress 14.

Next week Littlefield comes to town for all the marbles. The teams are tied in district play and the town rivalry is alive and well. So come for a pre-game meal of turkey and dressing and support the Mules.

Mule Mania is on the move. Go Mules!