Get Ready for the Kitchen Witches!

Hello again, friends and readers. I’ve been asked to occaasionally blog about the goings-on at the Milam Community Theater group, which I’m very happy to do. My hope is that those of you in and around Milam County will come join us for a performance or volunteer to help out in some way.

A Sneak Peak

These ladies look like they mean business.

Last night, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek into the MCT’s latest production, the Kitchen Witches, a darned funny play by Caroline Smith, starring Mona Butala and Martha Lee. They are joined by Jonathon Deal, who is also the director, and the trio make for some fun moments. (For more on the play and actors, visit their Playbill page, which has some good photos and information.)

Mandi pays attention to the action on stage so she can make the lights and sound seem effortless. She even has a cameo appearance in the play.

I was up in the balcony-level booth with my friend Mandi. the Queen of Sound and Lighting for the production. I’d never been upstair at the Lester and Beatrice Williams Event Center before, so I enjoyed tripping around on steps and checking out the equipment. They have a really good sound board, and some high-tech new speakers, which make a big difference in the sound.

Modernity.

Mandi was kind enough to give me a tour backstage, so I got to see the new wall system they have, and even to glimse into the glamorous dressing rooms the actors share. I was kidding about glamorous, but it is nice and clean.

Action!

Here’s the set from way up high. I love the floors.

The most fun was being the only actual audience member at the dress rehearsal. I was able to enjoy the experience and watch Mandi expertly bring in music and lights exactly when needed (mostly). I also was impressed at how the stage hands brought in and removed props quickly and efficiently (mostly).

The kitchen witches engaging in snappy comebacks, of which there are many in the play.

The set is really a good kitchen (it has a genuine kitchen island, from the kitchen in the building!), and the actors really are enjoying their parts. I’m always impressed by how they not only memorize lines, but come across as so authentic and genuine. And funny. Don’t forget that. I kept laughing, even though I was trying to be quiet.

Thanks to the team for letting me sit in.

Hey, do you want to see it, too?

Well, of course you want to see this play! As always, MCT productions are among the highlights of life in Cameron, and this is no exception. This post is probably going out a bit late for you to make the dinner theater opening night tonight, but you have plenty more opportunities this weekend and next weekend (performances are March 8-10 and 15-17). Check the website or Facebook page for exact times and prices.

Plays are at 408 S. Columbus Avenue, Cameron. There’s a sign pointing to the Williams Event Center from US 190, if you need help finding it. The turmoff is right near where the feed store used to be (that’s a country way of giving directions).

And you know, if you are reading this after March 2019, don’t despair! MCT always has something in the works. Upcoming productions include Peter Pan (youth play) and Driving Miss Daisy, among others.

So please attend a production, sponsor them if you can (our company is a sponsor!), or even try out and be a part of a production.

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Guest Post: More Dog Sadness

by Mandi Shuffield

Country life is a special and different kind of life. It is even more important out in the country to form bonds with neighbors and their animals, in case an emergency ever happens. Country life does have some rules that are sometimes very heartbreaking for the families that have to abide by them. My family is one of those families.

Sleepy Maggie

I am, by all accounts, an animal lover. All of them. Even skunks. I believe they all have their own beauty to share. The most special animals in my life are my dogs. We operate by pack law, and it serves us well. We have a big collie named Sarge, a “hefty” husky/collie named Wink, a little furry Pomeranian/Yorkie named Sully, and a tiny piebald dachshund/Chihuahua named Maggie. We adopted a beautiful new dog that was a dalmatian mix named Sweetie. 

Fuzzy Sully

The four other dogs get along rather harmoniously. They don’t fight or get physical with each other. They will growl over who gets to sleep on which blanket, but they are called off easily. Sarge and Wink are a protective team. They have been taught to work together to neutralize a threat by command, or by recognition. Sully was bottle raised from 3 days old by me after his mother became sick and passed unexpectedly. Maggie came to me from a cousin of mine. They are not trained like Sarge and Wink. 

King Sarge

We brought 2 year old Sweetie into the pack, and I had very high hopes of her joining in the ranks of Wink and Sarge (who are 7 and 8 respectively). Sweetie seemed like a great fit, and then things turned south. But I want to include pictures of what she was like before that happened to really capture who she truly was before the trauma surfaced and took over her mind.

We have no idea what her life was like for the two years before we had her. She was named very well with her personality. She was an astounding cuddler, and loved the kids. She often slept with my two younger kids, as a matter of fact. She got along very well with the other dogs, the cat, and loved her big yard. 

Wink, with Patsy Catsy

One day she started getting out of the yard and chasing cows, sheep, and anything else she could find. We worked on making the fence more secure, but it just never seemed to work.

Then that escalated. She attacked Maggie unprovoked. It didn’t leave serious injuries, so I let that slide as a bad day. Then it happened again.

The third time was really bad. Maggie came out of it with no permanent damage, but Sweetie threatened the kids (the same ones you see her cuddling in the pictures) that time as well. Sarge and Wink did their jobs and protected Maggie and the boys. Sweetie had to be locked up in the house and isolated to assure that she wouldn’t hurt anyone. That’s no life at all. 

Sweetie with her sleeping buddy

At some point in her life, she suffered trauma that caused her to just snap. She was then unpredictable and dangerous. We only had one choice. To take her to see the vet. February 7th, 2019 I laid on the warm, green grass with Sweetie (who had to be muzzled for behavior there) and held her, and cried so hard that I thought for sure I would vomit. Her trusting eyes had looked to me to be protected, and trusted me fully. I felt like I was plotting her murder behind her back. 

Happy days

The night before she had meat lover’s pizza and chicken wings. I felt like I was the worst person on the face of the planet for not being able to fix this with her. My heart is broken. I took every bit of strength I could muster to tell the vet what had happened, ask about alternatives, then make the final call that I knew had to be made for her own peace. So many people I talked to who are professionals with dogs reassured me that this was the right thing, the only real choice, and most humane thing for her.

Peekaboo

The alternatives of her being hit by a car, or a neighbor shooting her and missing so she suffers, another animal injuring her, Wink and Sarge having to gang up on her 2-1 to protect us, were something that I couldn’t allow her the chance of having to go through. She died next to someone that loved her, who held her, who cried for her, who apologized for whatever had happened to her, and who wished beyond wishes that we were anywhere but there at that moment.

We loved her.

I’m so heartbroken, and so angry that someone hurt her in such a way that made an innocent life have to be cut so short. All sorts of mean things against whoever did that have run through my head. But the main thing I have thought was, “There. I cleaned up your mess for you. I broke my own heart to bring peace to hers that you had broken so badly.” 

I wanted to scream “STOP!” when her heart rate and breathing rapidly declined. She was very heavily sedated before the bad shot came. I just kept saying, “I’m sorry.” over and over again until the vet told me it was over. 

This isn’t a nice, warm, fuzzy, funny post that we usually try to make. This is a real life post of what happens when someone is an irresponsible pet owner. Sweetie’s mother and father were allowed to have a litter of puppies that were unwanted. Those puppies were given away, and at least one of them was abused, then tossed on the street to starve. This is the reality of allowing puppies to be born that you do not want. There is someone like me whose heart is breaking over making the choice to have a dog put to sleep because someone else made a bad choice and was not responsible. 

Sweetie stole my heart, and she deserved to grow old with me. She deserved to watch the boys grow up and meet grandkids to play with one day. She deserved a full, healthy, happy life with us. She is now at peace under the tree with Ricci (my old mare who passed in ’17) and my mom’s little dog (also a rescue who lived to be 18 years old). She belongs under that tree. No matter what man made faults she had, she was my good girl.