Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Regionals for the Last Time

IMG_1458Colten ended his high school golf career last week with his fourth trip to the regional golf tournament in Odessa. He was the only Muleshoe Mule to qualify this year and was the only senior on the team, and he represented Muleshoe well.

IMG_1435Since the team wasn’t going, Colten was allowed to take a friend along, and he chose Chris Cage. Coach Sudduth picked them up Tuesday morning at our house, and they were on their way. Colten would get a practice round that afternoon and the meet would started the next day.

Golf should not be a spring sport in West Texas. Between the expected but worse than normal  high spring winds, late cold fronts, and this year’s abundance of sand and dirt due to the drought, the golf meets this year have bordered on cruel and unusual punishment. The first one to be held in Friona was even cancelled due to blizzard conditions! And things didn’t improve much as the season wore on.

IMG_1471The regional tournament was held April 17-18 at Ratliff Ranch Links in Odessa, and conditions were “bru tal” as I once heard the TV announcers lament one time during the British Open on what they thought was a windy and cold day. Ha! Give ‘em a taste of West Texas weather if they want brutal.

IMG_1487But I digress. The weather was most unpleasant the first day, and not much better the second. None of the scores were as good as they might have been on a Chamber of Commerce day. Colten, alas, did not fare as well as he would have liked, either. He never gave up, though, and didn’t let his bad holes keep him from trying to regain control over the game. Heck, even Tiger Woods has some of those days. Even on good weather days.

Note the wind in the trees. Yes, the sun was shining, but it was still cold.

This fan watched from the rough. Golf links in West Texas are a tad different to big city courses, like say, the Atlanta National Golf Club in Georgia…

Cold and windy; he started off well and then had a few bad holes. We came for the second day. Cold and windy again, missed some key shots again, but kept his composure and finished like a sportsman. No thrown clubs, no giving up. And in golf, sometimes that is about all you can do.

IMG_1513Of course he was disappointed that he didn’t do better, but pleased to have been competing, nonetheless. Qualifying for regional golf for four years in a row is no small feat. His days of playing for the Mules may be over, but he has learned a game he can enjoy the rest of his life

Not a bad deal, I must say.

Good job, Colten. We’re proud of you.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

WC Clark Sings Blues For Us

WCClark1996We traveled to the Cactus Theatre in Lubbock last Saturday to hear WC Clark sing his brand of blues. I was surprised to see that the theatre was not filled, but he sang his heart out for those of who were there, and it was a good night.

WC (Wesley Curley) Clark, not to be confused with WC Fields, the 1930s-40s comedian, or WC Handy, the 1930s musician/songwriter who, coincidentally, is considered the father of the blues, and is credited with bringing the blues into the mainstream, is a Texas boy, born and reared in Austin in 1939. Surrounded by music and singers in the family, he sang gospel in the church choir and took up the guitar as a teenager.

After he made a local name for himself and played with T.D. Bell’s band The Cadillacs and The Joe Tex Band in the 60s, he found the Austin blues landscape changing as young white kids were learning and playing the blues. In the 70s he formed a band called Southern Feeling which later dissolved, and WC got a job as a mechanic. During that time he was pursued by Stevie Ray Vaughn, younger brother of Jimmy, both of whom he had played with in Austin earlier. He eventually joined Stevie Ray’s band, The Triple Threat Revue, with Stevie on bass, WC on guitar, keyboardist Mike Kindred, drummer Freddie Pharoah, and singer Lou Ann Barton. WC and Kindred went on to co-write “Cold Shot” which became one of Stevie Ray’s big hits and earned WC his first platinum record.

WC has played with some of the great blues musicians, including BB King, James Brown, Albert King, Freddy King, Bobby Blue Bland, and others. Called the Godfather of Austin Blues, WC continues to play his own brand of blues that has been described as a mix of Texas blues, searing guitar, and heartfelt Memphis vocals, and continues to be held in high esteem in the music world. He has won many awards and recognitions that I chose not to list here, but do go to his website www.WCClark,com for all the details of his accomplishments and biographical history.

I have been a fan of the blues from way back. The Triumphs would play Bobby Bland numbers at their dances when I was in high school. My mother and I appreciated the rhythm and musical harmony of the blues that we listened to and enjoyed together. And I always had a gut feeling of what music called the blues was all about, but never thought about its history. So I looked it up. According to Wikipedia- and I know that site is sometimes maligned for misinformation, but I think this about right- the term probably derived from the mysticism involving the blue indigo plant from which blue dye is made, and which was used in many West African cultures in death and mourning ceremonies where the mourners’ garments would have been dyed blue to indicate suffering. The mystical association towards the indigo plant, grown on many southern U.S. slave-owning plantations, combined with West African slaves who sang of their suffering as they worked with the cotton that would be dyed by the indigo dye, eventually resulted in the songs they would sing being known as the blues. Those songs they would sing included spirituals, work songs, filed hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed narrative ballads. It also turns out that true blues music contains specific chord progressions and “blue” notes flattened or gradually bent to achieve that mellow, warm sound that I like so much. And it is my own observation that blues music always has a special kind of harmonious beat, sounding the best when thumped out on a bass fiddle, which doesn’t seem to be used so much any more.

Clark said, “If the blues is played right, it makes your soul feel clean.” I never thought about it that way, but I have noticed a funny thing about the blues. I can be in a down or blue mood, listen to some blues, and lo and behold, I find myself smiling quietly as I listen. It just has that effect. I have also talked to aspiring musicians about playing the blues, and they tell me, quite seriously, that blues are hard to play because “you have to feel it to play it right.” Which says to me you have to feel it in your soul, that same soul that WC says will feel clean when you do it right.

I tried to write down his playlist, which was pretty varied,  as we listened, but my pen wouldn’t cooperate. Some of the high points for me were his rendition of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say?,” “Love and Happiness," that I have also heard done by Etta James, another favorite blues singer of mine, “Further On Down The Line,” that I also have by another blues favorite, Bobby Bland, some Stevie Wonder, the Stevie Ray Vaughn hit, “Cold Shot,” and something I had never heard before with the lyric “What you cryin’ about, what you lost is somethin’ you’ll be better off without.” And there were others that I knew and others that must have been his hits that I had not heard before but enjoyed hearing on this night.

wc2002promo_02So if you ever get the chance to hear him perform, take advantage of the opportunity. I’ll bet you will come away with a smile on your face and your blues behind you.





Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Carol Sue Comes For a Visit

IMG_9140Carol Sue and I go way back-literally from birth to the present. So when her mother died last September (see “600 Miles and 60 Years,” October 17, 2012), after the funeral some of her other friends and I convinced her she needed a break from everything that goes with caring for an ailing mother to arranging the funeral, not to mention a demanding job, and it was decided  that the best way for that to happen was for her to get out of Dodge, well, Dallas, in this case, and come revisit the slower pace of life in a small town, Muleshoe, in this case.

I told Bill that after I picked her up at the airport, we would eat and shop in Lubbock, to which he wondered how shopping in Lubbock would be any different to shopping in Dallas, what with the big chain stores and all, so I knew I had my work cut out for me.

Her visit went something like this…

IMG_1345On Thursday I picked her up around noon at Lubbock International, which was her first culture shock, since the Lubbock airport is small potatoes compared to DFW or Love Field, either one. We ate at Gardski’s Loft, a nice place to eat that is not to be found in Dallas. We literally had the place to ourselves by the time we finished our meal and visit and walked out at 2:15 p.m. We did hit a few ubiquitous stores before heading to Muleshoe to enjoy a steak supper at home followed by non-stop talking late into the night. We looked through scrapbooks, laughed about the nights we spent at her house curled up in a comforter under the piano in the living room with all the doors shut and the window-unit air conditioner turned way down, remembered Ethel Mae, the housekeeper with the one snaggle-tooth, remembered departed classmates, and reflected on the paths our lives have taken since childhood.

I let her sleep late Friday morning-after all, this was supposed to be her chance to rest, and I found Poopie Cat snuggled up with her in bed, Poopie’s way of showing Carol she was welcome. Thank goodness Carol wasn’t allergic to cats!

After more visiting over breakfast, we drove back to Lubbock and hit a few stores, some name-brand, some not so much, one of them being a luggage store, as the zipper on her suitcase had cratered and she wanted to replace it with one of those styles that rolls on four wheels. I decided if I ever needed another suitcase, that’s the kind I will get. We then ate, at all places,at  the new United Market Street on 19th and Quaker since we had a big discussion comparing Whole Foods and Central Market and whether or not the Market Street stores in Dallas were in fact related to the United stores in Lubbock, which, it turns out, they are.

IMG_9354We then made it over to the Lubbock Community Theatre to enjoy a performance of “The Trip to Bountiful,” which was the main reason for going to back to Lubbock that day. Even though they no doubt have community theatre in Dallas, this was still a little different entertainment for her.

Saturday we ventured over to Clovis, New Mexico, to shop a few places that I knew would be different to Dallas. We didn’t want to take the time to drive to Santa Fe, so Clovis had to be the stand-in.

IMG_1263On the way we stopped at the Talavera pottery place in Texico and she was delighted to find a Talavera monkey to add to her collection.

Then we found the Mariachi Frog, an interesting little collection of shops and vendor booths that I don’t think she would see in Dallas.

IMG_1281We drove around a bit before coming back to Muleshoe so we could make the finals of the district track meet being held at the high school. That was definitely not something she would have thought about doing in Dallas even though Carol was a teacher in the early days and still enjoys watching kids do their thing. And it was a pretty day, finally, so it was nice to be outside to bask in the sun and not have to fight the wind and dust.

And what would a trip to Muleshoe be without taking a picture at our famous Mule Memorial with Ol’ Pete?

We even made a trip to our United grocery store, that small town meeting place where everyone said hello and wondered who the stranger was with me.

IMG_1301Sunday morning I took her to Sunday school and church at our Methodist church. We grew up in the same Methodist church in Rosenberg, but instead of church in the big city, where she found the churches to be too big and impersonal, she has been attending a Bible study group, the Roaring Lambs, which has a variety of outreach projects. I drafted her to be our Sunday school guest speaker, and she told us about this group and some of the good things they do.

We were going to eat at Leal’s, something else she would not do in Dallas, but it turned out to be camp Sunday, when the education committee prepares the meal and takes up a love offering to help fund kids who want to go to church camp but need a little assistance, so we did that instead, another slice of life in a small town.

After church we took one last picture together, and
then it was time to get her back to the airport for the trip home, so we headed for Lubbock once again. She insisted on going the full hour before flight time; I have never seen that airport busy enough to warrant going that early, but she wanted to, so we did. Memories of the lines at DFW, no doubt.



We put her out at the curb with her cool new suitcase,  hugged her neck, and she was on her way.

I hope she went home refreshed.  I‘m not sure she went home totally rested; we stayed up too late every night for that, but we did have a good visit.

I hope next time it doesn’t take seven months to get her here.


Friday, April 12, 2013

I Won a Blue Ribbon

IMG_1332I wrote about the Muleshoe Art Association’s show in 2011 (“Deja Vu at the Art Show,” April 27, 2011); this year I decided to enter-and won! The first art show story was about Reagan Cox’s interpretation of one of my Kilimanjaro pictures. I chose another image from my trip to Africa to enter myself, this one of a Massai girl and baby, and the judge, Jan Lloyd, liked it and gave it a blue ribbon in the miscellaneous category. Unlike the popular artists’ mediums of watercolor, oils, pastels, and acrylics, photography is lumped together with pen and ink, ceramics, charcoal, and any other medium chosen to work with.

IMG_1327Needless to say, I was tickled to death when I walked in after the judging and saw the blue ribbon. Lots of talent was on display, and I appreciated the recognition of having something blue-ribbon worthy. Let me highlight some of the other winners and notable work on display.

Best of show was this watercolor by Joy Simmon from Clovis, New Mexico.


These orange poppies by Terry Watson from Clovis did not receive a ribbon, but was one of my personal favorites. This lovely portrait by Jackie Hinderliter of Clovis was given an honorable mention.

Reagan Cox’s view of the Farwell grain elevators won an honorable mention.

And Reagan’s street scene of New Orleans also earned an honorable mention. Yes, I know the ribbons aren’t the same color, but they are both honorable mention.

Lois Snyder from Clovis received an honorable mention and was also the Muleshoe State Bank’s choice for the Purchase Award, the painting the bank buys each year and hangs in the bank. This one will grace the walls of Dusty Clayton's office.

Pauline Clark’s “Pink Geraniums” won first place in the oils division.

Muleshoe artist Pat Prater’s adobe and this vase of flowers from Marie Tidwell of Clovis both caught my eye.

The ribbon winners will be on display for a time in the lobby of Muleshoe State Bank if you missed the show and would like to see the winners.

The art association’s show is always held in April and always located in the meeting room at Muleshoe State Bank. Admission is free and refreshments are always on hand. And something to consider: you don’t have to be a member of the association to enter, so if you have something you’ve done and would like to show off, take it down and see what happens.

Next April when we are battling cold winds and dirt storms again-one hit during opening day this year-and you need a ray of sunshine and color, visit the show. You will come away relaxed, smiling, and impressed at the local talent on display. 

For a complete list of winners, go to www.gillambadvertising.com or the Muleshoe Journal newspaper.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Fine Arts Shine

One of the main fund raises for the Fine Arts Boosters at Muleshoe High School-yes, there is a booster club for Fine Arts just like for Athletics-is what they call Fine Arts Night to Shine, held in the Spring every year. This year that night was March 25, and it was a full evening of entertainment.


The night began with a barbecue brisket meal, in the commons/cafeteria area, where student artwork was on display.The art department also made decorations for the tables. During the meal items donated by local businesses and individuals were out on display for a silent auction, and during the program some items were sold in a live auction.. After the meal, the choir and band performed, and then everyone moved to the auditorium to see the one act play. It was quite a night, with something for everyone.

Let me share a few scenes from the night with you:

Artwork by Garrison Myers.

IMG_1159Desiree Gutierrez, Amy Rosas, Ashton Hunt, Triston Boehning, and  Shyanne Carpenter pose in front of the art display.

Fine Arts Boosters secretary Lori Bales organized the silent and live auction items.

Choir director Lorissa Mason led the choir through one of their numbers.

Thurman Myers served as auctioneer for the live auction.

John Gibson directed the band in one of their numbers.

Assistant band director Grady Alberts accompanied the band in an arrangement of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Ryan Johnson and Blayne Shipman performed in the one act play, Players in the Game.

The play cast took a bow after their performance. The play won at the district level and advanced and will compete in the Area contest on April 9.

In recent years the fine arts programs in public schools have taken a hit on funding and classes offered, which is a real shame. For some students, going to art class or choir or band or speech is the highlight of their school day; sometimes those classes are what keep them in school. Research has also shown that kids who play musical instruments also tend to do better in math. As a former English teacher, I can tell you that kids who participate in speech and the performing arts are also going to be better readers and have an appreciation for literature. Fine arts are not fluff; they are an integral part of a solid education, what we used to call a liberal education, before the word liberal took on loaded political connotations.

Kids need the fine arts. Attend Fine Arts Night to Shine next year and watch talented kids who are involved, learning, and having a good time. And you’ll be entertained besides.

Not a bad deal, I must say.