Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Do You Know What Happened March 29th?

March 29th is a very important day. Do you know what happened? No? (Good!)

Well . . .

  • Man O’War  racehorse, winner of 20 out of 21 races and $249,465, was born. So were Sam Walton and LaToya Jackson. (Not the same year. LOL!)
  • Dr. John Pemberton brewed the first batch of Coca-Cola in a backyard in Atlanta, Georgia. (Don’t ask what was in it or what color it was. You don’t want to know.)  
  • The last United States combat soldiers left South Vietnam. (Yay!)
  • Edwin Drake drilled the first productive U.S. oil well. (Yay again!) 
  • Brenna Logsdon had her first surgery for a brain tumor. (She’s tumor free today! PTL!)

But, but, do you know what else happened on that day? What is more important (to me) than all the happenings I posted above?

I was eight, nearly nine, years old. Sunday morning. Easter Sunday morning. Our preacher, Roy Blizzard, had just finished his sermon (I don’t remember that particular talk, but I can tell you about some others he preached if you’re interested.)

Roy gave the invitation, the church started singing the invitation hymn. I knew, I KNEW Jesus wanted me to give my life to Him. I also knew my daddy needed to do the same.

Since I was standing next to Dad, I leaned on him just a little. They started singing the second verse. Daddy hadn’t moved, so I leaned harder, then I gave him a little push.

We were baptised together that day.

I remember holding Mama’s hand that morning. I wasn’t a bit nervous as we waited to give our confessions of faith, but Mama (who’d been a Christian for years) shook like a leaf.

Now some people don’t believe an eight (nearly nine) year old is mature enough to make a life decision such as that. And while I didn’t know everything the decision would mean to me, I knew that I wanted Jesus to be the Lord of my life. All my life.

I don’t have a great conversion story. I didn’t have a radical change in the way I lived. It was deeper than that.

I had a change in my thinking–a change way deep in my heart. The reason I did the right thing. Why I shared when it was easier not to. Why I was nice when others weren’t nice back. Why my smile doesn’t start on my face. (Kind of like a flower, mine really starts at the root.) 

The reason I care.

No longer just to make my parents proud of me. (Back in those days, most of us kids wanted to make our parents proud.)

Simply put, it’s because He lives in me.  

Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God.

And on March 29th, we had a birthday.

Want to share about the day you accepted Jesus? Tell someone about the difference He’s made in your life? Please do!


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Annual Spring Whine

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I’m confused. (I know. Not a new condition.)

Here it is, the end of March. Right? There’s only one day left of this month, and it’s cold outside. C-O-L-D! I could still see my breath when I walked down the street one day this week.

It was so cold last weekend, I couldn’t make myself go outside to blow leaves out of my garden. And it drizzled on me. Who can deal with a ton of leaves in a cold drizzle???

In case you’re wondering, I don’t get rid of leaves in the fall on purpose. God sends those puppies to insulate tender plants in my garden that might freeze to death. I know it works because every weed that was there last summer is alive and healthy today. LOL.

Yes, I’ve lived in Oklahoma all my life. I should be use to weird weather. I am use to it, and I’m use to whining about it. 😉

I’m so ready to get out and work in my garden. Ready to put baby plants in the groud and watch the grow. Dig up old plants that have done their due.

Ready to eat fresh tomatoes out of somebody’s garden.  Anybody’s garden. Mine, yours, that other guys. Whoever can grow them earliest outside a greenhouse. (Greenhouses just take the flavor out of tomatoes, don’t they?)  

I’m ready for the sun to warm up and shine on me. And on blossoms.

Ever notice how much better lilac blooms smell when they’re warmed by the sun rather than shivering in the chilled air? It’s true! I sniffed one on my walk yesterday afternoon and I could barely smell it. (Couldn’t have been my allergies blocking the scent. Right?)

What plans for around your house do you have for springtime? How about dreams? Want to share?


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National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer sign in Washington DC

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Have you read this? I saw it on Facebook.

President Obama has decided that there will no longer be a “National Day of Prayer” held in May. He doesn’t want to offend anybody. Where was his concern about offending Christians last January when he allowed the Muslims to hold a day of prayer on the capitol grounds. As a Christian American “I Am Offended.” If you agree, copy and paste no matter what religion you are, this country was built on Freedom
(Thanks for sharing, Larry!)

My flash response–“Do what?!?”

Okay, it’s not true. G-Man knew immediately and started telling me while I read it to him. It took me a moment or two longer.

It’s a hoax/rumor/whatever that’s been going around since 2009. I don’t know its purpose. As you’d expect, several people commented when it was posted on FB. I have a feeling that, like me, many were ready to fight for the right to have a National Day of Prayer.

For those first few seconds, I felt like someone had burned me. No one can stop us from having our NDP. So what if someone in the government blah, blah, blah. I looked it up about that time and found it was just a cheat. We will have our NDP.  We haven’t been stopped, blocked or otherwise messed with.

Then I started thinking. (That’s not necessarily a good thing.)

I was riled in those moments when I thought we’d lost it. But now that I know we do have it . . . what? Back to the old, “Ho-hum it’s NPD”? Or am I going to realize what a blessing and previlege it is?    

I didn’t even know when NPD started. Answer–1952. (John Adams and Abe Lincoln each called for a day when the nation was in prayer.)

So . . . how did you observe that day last year? Did you spend it on your knees? Did you attend a special observance? Did you even slow your life a little to talk to God?

I’ll be very honest here–I didn’t. I remember that day last year. I think the churches in C-Town might have had a special prayer service during the lunch hour. I didn’t go.

I remember praying for our leaders and our government, but I didn’t stop what I was doing to talk to Him. (I pray on the go a lot.) I didn’t take the day off from work to pray, and no, I didn’t fast.

When I read that rumor, I was ready to let people know I wanted the right to a NDP. I wanted to tell someone how important it is. I was even ready to help start a grassroots effort. “We don’t need the government. We can do it ourselves!”

But now that I know I will have my NDP and have had it since 1952 (and have pretty much ignored it) what am I going to do?

What about you? Do you remember the first Thursday in May last year? How did you observe NDP? What are your plans for May 5, 2011?


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Basin Post Master

Can you read it?

I found this at Grandmother’s house when I lived there. They’re framed now and on the wall at the office. (I couldn’t just keep them to myself.)

They aren’t originals. At least one other of Dad’s cousins has a copy, too. But they’re so interesting to read. It’s from the government when they made a postoffice in the Basin, north of the ‘Ford.

I first read about it in Cherokee Strip Fever by Zola Sample. What a surprise! No one ever mentioned that part of the family history to us. In fact, they didn’t mention much family history beyond Grandad and Grandmother.

I loved seeing family names in her books. (Just now ordered my own copy because the copy I read before from Grandmother’s house has been misplaced.)

When I showed these papers to Dad, he said they had the legal wrong.

The postoffice was on the other side of the road from where it’s noted here.

That’s a map of the Basin–see how the river makes almost a complete circle? The shape is why it’s called Basin.

In my memory, there were no schools, businesses, saw mills, churches or postoffices in that area. Only farmers and ranchers. But in my imagination, I see a bustling community filled with relatives, in-laws and outlaws. 😉 How fun is that?

We hung the framed pages about the postoffice (the Mitchell side of the family) in the front office at work, next to pictures of my great-grandparents (the Spess side.)

Maybe this way we can pass down a little family history, at least.


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Thanks, Ina, For Your Corn Chowder

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This is a Barefoot Contessa recipe. Ina Garten is the Barefoot Contessa. She’s on the Food Channel if you want to watch her.

The way they film her cooking is great. Her camera men get right in there and fill the screen with food as if they were taking a still shot to frame and hang on the wall.

She just looks like she’d be fun to know, doesn’t she? I’d love to be her friend. Her background is fascinating. She worked in the Whitehouse at one time (NOT in a foodie capasity) then she moved to New York State where she bought The Barefoot Contessa. I don’t think it was a restaurant, but from what I can tell on TV, they prepared food sort of like a deli, except it was remarkable food. 

I have all her cookbooks except  her newest one, and I already have it on my list for my birthday. (Fingers crossed.)

Here’s one G-Man requests on a regular basis–

Ina’s Corn Chowder

  • 8 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
  • 10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 pound sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

Directions

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.

Now just to be honest, I’ve never made it exactly like Ina does. For a long time, I couldn’t find tumeric, so I left it out. When I found it, I learned I didn’t like the flavor.

Why ruin a good thing? I leave it out.

And the grocery store in C-Town doesn’t carry white cheddar. Let me amend that. If the grocer in C-Town carries white cheddar, I can’t find it. 😉 I just use regular mild cheddar. (White sounds mild to me.) 

I’ve never used fresh corn in this recipe–only frozen. (Fresh corn is for grilling and eating off the cob or in Grandmommy Corn. I’ll post that another time.)

 And if I don’t have chicken stock, I made the stuff with cubes and boiling water.

Okay, that’s it. It’s a wonderful recipe and makes a lot. (I cut it in half and we still have it for a whole week.)

I’m sending a big Thank You! to Ina. You make eating at my house taste so much better!


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Avard Mitchell–1897 to 1920

Uncle Frank told me the story of Grandmother’s brother, Avard, and Grandad’s twin sister, May. It seems they were sparking when Avard decided to teach May how to shoot. They used a six gun.

Being ignorant about guns and not knowing safety rules, May accidentally shot Avard.

“Gut shot,” Uncle Frank said. “He lived for about a week before he died.”

I try to imagine the accident. I see it happening at the Mitchell house (the cellar is still there but the house is gone) since the older Spess brothers pretty well knew how to shoot and probably would have taken over. (If they were around.)

The sound of the shot, the flash of heat followed by the wash of pure cold that must have gripped Grandma Mitchell when she realized her son had been shot and, barring a miracle, he couldn’t live.

Did they send for a doctor? I don’t know, but I’d guess they did. Knowing the Mitchells, they prayed for that miracle. Called the church together and prayed without ceasing for a miracle that wouldn’t come.   

Avard died on July 8th. Here’s what it says at the bottom of his headstone–

Weep not, father and mother, for me. For I wait in Glory for thee.

Two years later, May married Ott Lawmaster (I think the last name is right) and her twin brother, Ray, married Ruby Mitchell. They eloped.

I don’t know if that was because Grandma Mitchell hadn’t gotten over a Spess killing her son or if Ray just didn’t ask Ruby until the last minute.

Guess I’d better ask Uncle Frank.


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Bye-Bye Big Love, Hello Dancing Stars!

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Confession: I am (was?) a BIG LOVE fan.

I know, I know. I’m awful. G-Man was appalled when I started watching at the beginning of the series. (Although he did get caught up in it, too.)

My friends compared seeing the show to watching a snake in the room.

I can’t help it. I loved BIG LOVE!

Why? I’m not sure. I could never be in a plural marriage. I’m very jealous, or maybe I’m selfish, but I like being the one and only. And if my man ever suggested dragging in another spouse, I’d have to break his nose–or something. 😉

That said, the set up for Big Love was perfect. Here’s why.

  1. The wives all lived in separate houses, so they weren’t fighting over who was the boss of the house or who had to do which chore.
  2. The wives had extremely different personalities so Bill wasn’t marrying the same woman, over and over. And it made for great conflict!
  3. Although the kids lived in the house with their own mother, the other mothers loved them like they were literally their own. No jealousy over kids and what they received.

Did I like the way it ended? No.

*Big Pout*

But then, I didn’t like that it ended at all.

*Big Pout Finished*

(I never can keep a pout going for long.) 

So . . . anybody watching DANCING WITH THE STARS this season? What’d you think of Kirstie? (I loved her!)