Friday, October 31, 2014

Curtis Shelburne Entertains at the Muleshoe Heritage Foundation Annual Meeting.


The turnout was light at the recent Muleshoe Heritage Foundation Annual meeting, which is a shame, because those who bothered to come were treated to a mini-concert by Curtis Shelburne. Refreshments were plentiful and delicious; the music was a pleasure. Curtis shared several songs from several of his CDs and shared stories of the recording process, things he learned along the way and things the audience had not a clue were part of the business. For example, the number of tracks needed to get just the right sound; the technical aspects of pulling it all together; the talented people he worked with along the way.


He shared with a variety of musical genres. My personal favorites were the Elvis arrangement of Peace in the Valley, and Long Black Train, with the help of granddaughter Brenley who is in Kindergarten and daughter of my former student Chris Shelburne, granddaughter Rylee, step-daughter of Stephan Shelburne, another former student! Another favorite that I had not heard in, oh, gee, forever, was the Nat King Cole classic, Unforgettable.

We had to laugh when his wife Juana interjected that we would have to tell him to quit because he enjoys singing so much he will go on forever! So he ended with an appropriate sign-off,  I’ll Be Seeing You.

On the way out, I checked out the new landscaping at the office. It dresses the building up quite nicely.
Lots of history is on display at the Heritage Center. I suspect it is like most landmarks and tourist attractions in other cities. Residents in New York seldom bother to take in the Empire State Building, for example. Don’t do that. You will be pleasantly surprise at the things you learn and the memories that are revisited if you bother to go. It is a nice outing when you think there is nothing to do in Muleshoe.

Of course, you won’t be serenaded by Curtis, but you will learn some things you never even thought about.

Not a bad deal, I must say.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Honey, Anyone?

When Bill received notice that the San Antonio office of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service was putting on their bee workshop again this year, like the one he attended last year (“The Bee Keeper Moves the Swarm,” July 27, 2014), and asked me if I would like to go this time, I was more than ready for the road trip. He wanted to reinforce what he learned last year, and I just wanted to learn about the bees so I could help when needed. And considering that the bees love collecting pollen from my cactus flowers, I wanted to learn about them, too. I found out they are quite remarkable little creatures.

This road trip took us through Big Spring right about lunch time, so we treated ourselves to a meal at the newly restored historic Hotel Settles. The hotel is a story in itself, perhaps for another time, but you can see here that it is a lovely structure.



We enjoyed our lunch and continued on to San Antonio, hitting town just in time to enjoy 5 o’clock traffic.

We ate that night at Las Palapas Mexican Food Restaurant, apparently a San Antonio staple with twelve locations, whose sign stated they are closed on Sundays to allow time for worship and family. I found that interesting in a city the size of this one. The tortilla soup was pretty darn good. They served soft corn tortillas instead of flour, which was a bit different.

The next morning we drove about a block over from the hotel for the workshop at the Extension Office, led this year again by Molly Keck, David Rodriguez, Mike Cole and son Travis, and Bryan Davis. We spent the day learning all kinds of things about bees. For instance, bees are attracted to the color yellow, so perhaps that explains why they spend so much time on the prickly pear blooms. Honey bees are eusocial insects, like ants and termites, because they take cooperative care of their young, have reproductive divisions of labor, a caste system if you will, and have overlapping generations. Drones mate with the queen, help make the babies; worker bees, well, they do all the work. This is a simplified list, but they clean the cells for the larvae, nurse the babies, store nectar and pollen, and a host of other things. And they have cool little pouches on their back legs where they load the pollen to take back to the hive, and you can see the the dot of yellow if you look carefully. And the queen, well, she really is the reason we have the concept of the Queen Bee. She is larger than the others, rules the hive, is supplied with royal jelly by the others, lays the eggs, and pretty much does whatever she wants. She does eventually die, like they all do, but in the meantime, she’s the diva of the hive. We also learned that bees in Texas are all Africanized, thanks to the African bees that migrated  to us from South America. I don’t remember why or how they came to be in South America. The main difference to native bees is that they are a bit more aggressive, but use of smoke and slow movements when working with them calms them enough to get the job done. Bees in the New England states are more docile because they have not been Africanized yet, and you might see bee keepers there using only the bee bonnets and long gloves when working with the hive.

After sampling local honey and realizing they have different flavors depending on where the majority of the pollen was gathered, drawing for door prizes of bee equipment, we adjourned for the day, and we set out on a mission to find Pappadeaux. Couldn’t get the car GPS to work as it was the first time we had even tried to use it, had no luck with my IPhone GPS as I had just gotten it (Can you guess our ages!?) literally the day before, and finding out we had managed to get on the longest feeder road in existence that took us no telling how many miles which finally dumped us on the Bandera highway.We turned around, got back on the 410 loop going the other way, and found Pappadeaux’s. Success at last. And more food than we should have eaten.

Saturday was the demonstration day, the pay-off. We drove to Mike Cole’s place in Atkins, outside San Antonio, suited up, loaded the smoker, and had hands-on experience with his bee hives.


We opened the top hive, and it was amazing how many bees were in there! Mike had several boxes stacked, and with the calming help of the smoke, we checked all of them and found an unbelievable number of bees, honey, brood, and developing larvae. We didn’t ever come across the queen, but she was in there somewhere or it would not have been such a thriving, successful hive.


In both pictures of the frames, the dull gold cells on the left are brood cells, full of developing larvae. The black holes are open cells with the developed larvae almost ready to come out. If you look closely at the top picture, you can see a bit of shine in the black cells. That is the babies. The grayish-gold stuff on the right of the frame is actually honey in honeycomb. And I think you can see all the bees moving around on all of it. I know the honey doesn’t really look much like honey at this point. Trust me; that’s what it is. There are ways to get the honey off the comb and into the form you would recognize, but that is another story. 

Then the bee boxes were restacked, and we headed back to the house. The suits by that time were getting a bit hot and we had aggravated the bees enough by then.

Being a bee keeper really isn’t that hard, and yet there is much to know. I have just scratched the surface here. Even if you care nothing about collecting honey or don’t need the bees for their pollination work, it would be worth attending a bee workshop just to realize how important they are to our ecological system and to appreciate the amazing things they do. 

And if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Tradition Continues-Korben Begins Football

We watched our son AJ play many a football game. We followed grandson Colten’s football career all the way from 7th grade to graduation; this year Korben, Caroline’s 12 year-old son and one of our new grandsons by way of husband Neil, took to the field in Texico, New Mexico, Wolverine green wearing number 84, which was Colten’s number, for the start of his football legacy.

The first game we attended was a combined effort of the 7th and 8th grade teams on both sides. Alas, this was a tough game, and the 7th grade members did considerable watching from the sidelines.

The next game was at Bovina and number 84 did a good job on the kick-off team more than once.

This game was a lot more fun-Texico won!
The game we watched last week was against Ft. Sumner, and Texico was overpowered. Korben played, but the team was unable to pull it out. They did, however, manage to make some nice plays.
And that’s football. You win some, but you don’t lose some; you just run out of time.

But it’s fun to play.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Soccer GrandMom; Movie Date

After she finished the series, Maya insisted I read The Maze Runner trilogy, which I did, so when the movie came out on September 19th, I thought it appropriate that we see it together. I couldn’t get down there on the opening week-end, and I knew she would want to be first, or maybe second, in line to see it with one of her friends anyway, which was understandable. But she graciously and eagerly agreed to see it a second time with me. And why not? She enjoyed the books and what teenage girl (well, almost teenage) wouldn't be willing to watch Dylan O’Brien race through the maze again for another two hours?

So the date was set; I drove down for our big night out to discover that brother Ben had decided to play soccer and had his first practice and game that same week-end. So I got two grandkid events for the price of one trip-a soccer game and a movie. What a deal!

And pizza. But that came later.

Ben’s practice Friday evening went well, but a trip to the store was in order before the game at noon on Saturday, and that’s when I had my first taste of being a soccer mom, AJ and Caroline and Colten  being into the smaller ball sports when they were that age. I know about baseball and softball cleats, gloves, and balls. Shin guards, soccer socks, and soccer cleats were a whole new experience. How hard could it be, buying socks? Harder than you might think, especially when shopping with Ben! Shin guards weren’t that simple, either. And for a while, the only shoes we could find were in girl colors, but the right pair finally surfaced.

So then we rushed back to the house to load up chairs, blankets, and edibles and made our way under a puffy gray sky to the soccer fields. Ben’s game was at 12:45, so when we arrived other games were under way already. Little soccer players were in constant motion all over the place, using up excess energy waiting impatiently for their games to start while the kids in the ongoing games were scurrying about chasing the ball and kicking each other in the shin guards. Not hard, but moms, I suspect, were glad they had gone to the trouble to provide them.


Ben went in as a forward, I think was the position, and did well, but the coach put him in as goalie after the other team racked up 3 points, and he did a really good job stopping more scoring, but alas, the damage was already done, and they lost. But it was the first game. They will get better.

After a little rest, it was time to load up again for the original main event of the week-end, The Maze Runner. i expected the audience to be young people, but it seemed like there were as many adults as kids there. So our group fit right in- mom, grandmother, 12 year-old, 9 year-old. We had all the bases covered. For those of you not into the current blitz of YA dystopia novels, this story is about a group of boys who are saddled with the task of figuring out how to get out of this maze and why they are there in the first place. And that’s just the first conundrum they have to deal with. When the second installment, The Scorch Trials, comes out, another road trip to see it will be in order.

But back to this movie-no sooner would these kids manage to figure out how to overcome one overwhelming obstacle when another one would magically appear. I was worn out by the ending, which of course, left us all dangling and anxious to see how the group deals with a new set of never-ending adversities in the next movie. I was so caught up in the story that when Chuck (spoiler alert) dies, I really did shed a few tears.

Loaded down with pizza, we compared the book to the movie and shared favorite scenes on the way home.

And just before we reached the house,  Ben calmly showed us the tooth that just then decided to come out!


A fun ending to a memorable day. Can’t wait to do it again.