Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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I Love a Rainy . . . Anything

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Did you ever have a memory hit you so hard right out of the blue, you could practically smell it? That happened to me yesterday, when I was leaving Sister Debbie’s house.

The rain was pouring down, and since I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the rain, I wandered out to my car without worrying about getting wet. Sister D lives in the house Grandmother built, which is right next door to the house we grew up in. (Sister Cindy lives in that house.)

It’s an old neighborhood (nearly as old as I am!) so the curbs aren’t the hump kind that you’d normally think of next to a street. They’re a scoopy kind, shaped a little like a lazy J. I imagine the scoopy curb was used so the water would run off the road and into the curb so it could all go to the big puddle at the end of the street. 🙂

Yesterday, when I went to my car, that scoopy curb was running full and childhood memories came flooding back.

When we were kids, Mama always bought us raincoats

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and rubber boots

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that fit over our shoes to wear to school. One year, the coat she bought me was exactly like the coat my friend’s mama bought for her. I thought we looked like pink butterflies in them, so I made up a song that we danced to about us butterflies. LOL. I ended it with us flying south for the winter. (I couldn’t let my pink butterflies just die, could I?)

Our front porch was a big one that looked like a stage, so we performed our song and dance for anyone in the neighborhood who wanted to come. The audience consisted of our parents. But hey! They liked it.

When it rained, we nearly always waded in the water. (What are rubber boots for, anyway?) Once, when my mom had given me a permanent (WHY she gave the kid with the curliest hair in town a perm, I have no idea) it was raining when we got out of school.

I usually walked home with one of my friends and her mom came by to pick her up and offered me a ride. “No thanks. I want to walk in the rain.” Her tattle-tale mom called my mom as soon as she got home to tell on me. 😦 My mom wasn’t happy, probably because her daughter wasn’t smart enough to come in out of the rain.

“I just wanted to try out my new raincoat. Why are you mad?”

“Because, you probably ruined your new perm!”

I’m not sure how she figured that, but I was in trouble for maybe five minutes.

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Another time, Sister Debbie and I walked in the rain from the downtown movie theater to Mrs. Shriner’s house for Piano Club. Right after that, Sister D and I came down with the measles, and Mom wasn’t happy with us.

“You probably made your measles worse by walking in the rain.” That didn’t stop her from reading “Tom Sawyer” to us while we were sick, though. (She’d been told measles make your eyes weak, so she wouldn’t let us read to ourselves while we were ill.)

I loved wading in the mud next to Grandmother’s house in the warm summer rain. (Yep, I got in trouble again.)

The strongest memory though is a summertime rainstorm, walking barefoot in the water, sluicing down the scoopy curb, as the water splashed over my ankles.

I don’t remember being too strict with my kids when it came to rain and puddles. (They might have other memories, though.)

So, rainy day memories?

 

 

 

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Family Tree and History

Ever hear the saying, “What goes around comes around?” Usually when I hear it, someone is threatening someone else. (The threatenee is often me.) “It’ll come back and bite you on the hinny.”

But not always. Sometimes, it’s family history.

I think I’ve mentioned I’m climbing the Family Tree. Wow. Want to get confused, just start that little project! But it’s interesting. I’ve “met” a bunch of shirttail relatives through it. And most of them know way more about my family than I do! 🙂

SPESS FAMILY MINUS CAROLMeet Ray and Ruby Spess, my dad’s parents. They’re standing in front of their first home with their two oldest children, Frank and Paul.

What I love best about this picture is probably what Grandmother hated. See? On the left hand side of the photo? Her laundry is hanging on the line. 🙂

Seeing Uncle Frank look like a shy little boy is pretty cool, too. 😉

Their house was built on land in the Basin, which Granddad’s father got in the land run of 1893, the opening of the Cherokee Strip.

family-spessThe mustached man with the hat is my great-granddad, who made the run. On his right (with one hand on her hip) is his wife, Louisa. One of the two little girls in front of him is my granddad (the one on the left) and the other is his twin sister.

Message to my kiddos–I love family pictures for a reason! It’s genetic!!!

Anyway, the picture is almost the entire family of ten kids–only one person missing.

I believe the reason one person is missing from this pic is that Granddad had a brother named Theodore who died the year Granddad was born (at least that’s what I found on another tree) so it’s likely Theo that’s missing.

The house was probably built out of lumber milled at Grandmother’s grandfather’s lumber mill, there in the Basin.

One more picture–dad and sparkyThat’s Dad riding Sparky. Now look behind him. See that barn? Even after my grandparents moved into Old ‘Ford, they farmed in the Basin. They had a sow and her piglets living in that barn. This particular year, they raised a bumper crop of corn and stored that corn in the loft of the barn.

As I said, the corn was a bumper crop. And one morning they got to the farm and found  . . . you’re ahead of me, aren’t you?

Yep. You guessed it. That barn loft cratered under the weight of the corn and buried the sow and her babies.

Did it kill the pigs?

Nope.

Did they let the sow eat her way out?

Nope, again.

They rescued the pigs, and stored the corn someplace else.

Now back to going and coming around.

Fast forward to 2014–just about 110 years after that family picture was taken. My dad (the kid on the horse) lives very near where that family picture was taken, and not far from where Grandmother and Granddad had their first house, where the sow was buried in the corn.

Today, Dad raises a huge garden that gets bigger every year. He has chickens, raises his own beef (Brother Jeffrey’s bailiwick) and now he’s planning to get a sow and start raising his own pork.

Sounds a whole lot like what his grandfather must have done to get his family raised, even though Dad never knew that grandfather.

I love it that he’s repeating history that way.

Have you studied your family tree? Any surprises pop up for you?


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Adding a New Season of the Year

Oklahoma has announced it’s going to a five season year. The Legislature has decided that from now on we won’t only have Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. We’ll be the first state to go to a five season year.

Fire Season.

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But it seems that every year we start the almost springtime with wild fires. Those fires burn our woods, and our homes and sometime (sadly) people.

This year, it has started already.

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Tuesday night I was driving home from work behind a slow poke. I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw a white pickup with a red and blue light bar tailgating me.

The first time we had a tiny gap in traffic and that pickup passed me like I was parked with a fence around me. I did catch a glimpse of the sign on the door.

“RESCUE.”

When the rescue truck got off the expressway at my exit and made that light bar go hot, I got a little nervous. And when I noticed the sky choked with smoke, I was plain old scared.

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The truck wasn’t headed to my house to rescue Miss Molly. (Thank you, Jesus!) They were out to rescue someone else’s family on the other side of the  expressway.

Question: Why do we have wild fires?

Answer: We need rain.

Question: How do they start?

Answer: Many ways.

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I heard one day a couple of years ago fires were springing up in several areas along the highway, someone was driving down the road throwing out something flaming to start them intentionally. It turned out a truck had a chain dragging behind it, which sparked and caught the dry grass. (I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s possible.)

Years ago, my BIL threw a lighted cigarette out the window of a truck. The next day he drove past the same pasture and it had burned from that cigarette.

Sometimes, lightning starts them, but normally it’s humans who do the job. (Fireworks, anyone? Campfires. Outdoor grilling.)

Question: Have you ever been in a wild fire?

Answer: Yes. Before we moved to Pryor Creek, one started and swept across the property we lived on. We had a two story house with a high peaked roof, and those flames were burning higher than the top of that roof.

And for some reason, fire creates wind. At least it seemed that way to me. My cousin lived next door. (We built our houses at the same time.) While G-Man and I’d had trees pushed back from our house (makes yard work easier), my cousin kept as many trees as he could around his. It really is better for your power bills to do that, but when the fires came, his house was in more danger than ours.

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Everyone helped. We grabbed all the hoses we could find, ran hoses from our house to his and sprayed things down. (Yes, we wet our house down, too.)

The fire department was there, fighting. People with tank trucks hauled in water and wet things for us. Everyone pitched in to help.

Luckily, we didn’t lose anything vital. Our homes made it through, but it was scary.

I wasn’t like the people you see on TV who load up everything important and leave. I stayed right where I was. Siblings, cousins, friends were there with us.

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Ever notice when someone you might not know pitches in to help you, they’re suddenly a friend? And how a friend/relative who’s there shoulder to shoulder with you are forever after more than what they were? They’re a hero.

Ooh, another gift for my list!

In the battle (of a fire) we learn who the true heroes are.

Have you ever been through an Oklahoma Wild Fire?

 


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Where’s My Camera?

Back in the day, before we had children, G-Man and I lived on a family place we called Silver Creek. (So called because Silver Creek ran through it. Brilliant, right?)

It was school land (part of Oklahoma’s School Land Trust) so we didn’t “own” the place. We just treated it as if we did.

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This is the house we lived in.

That’s not my car and those aren’t my boys. The picture belongs to James Clifton Paula Lindon. (That’s Cliff and his shirtless brother/deputy, John.) They had the place before we did. I swiped the pic off Facebook. 🙂

I have a few pictures of the place. Somewhere, there’s a picture of the copperhead that got stuck in the bottom groove of the garage door and whacked G-Man on the arm when he opened it.

G-Man said he grabbed a camera when he went inside for a gun because he was afraid no one would believe the story without it. 🙂

And I have some pictures of #1 son’s first Christmas. That’s where we lived when our first baby boy was born.

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But I have tons of pictures locked inside my head that I can’t show you.

Such as a picture of the skunk family who lived under our house. I called them watch-skunks. (They only sprayed when strangers came.) When G-Man had to go under the house to unfreeze pipes once, the skunk fam didn’t spray. They just moved over so he could work. 🙂

I don’t have pictures of the wasps that chased me the first night we lived there. (They lived in the ceiling of the front porch and came out at night if the light was on to warm their little bodies.)

I don’t have a picture of the first scorpion I annihilated. (How do you kill a scorpion? I grabbed the biggest encyclopedia in the house and slammed it into the poor critter. If that wall is still there, he’s probably still embedded in it.)

And I don’t have a picture of Eegore the tarantula who wandered onto my screened in patio (where my plants were) and when I went after him with a broom, jumped over the broom and chased me back into the house. (I told Gary he wrestled the broom away from me, then chased me into the house with it, but he didn’t really.)

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This isn’t Eegore. This is his grandson. (Or great-grandson.)

G-Man “rescued” Eegore later that day, and since he had a “hunched” back, he got that name. He came back every so often just to say hi.

When he did, I waved from inside the house. (With the broom hidden.)

I got chased a lot when we lived there.

I don’t have a picture of the many times I got my car stuck in the sticky mud and had to walk home. (I did learn how to drive in mud without getting stuck, though.)

The one picture I’m so very, very sorry I missed is of the wild turkey cock that walked through our yard with his tail on display one day.

He was a thing of beauty!

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Where’s your camera when you need one?

I’m very thankful for smart phones theses days!


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Welcome to the SideBar

Did you notice I swopped out the pictures in the sidebar? (On the right.) Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t. I had to go back and look for them myself, and I did the work! (Rolls eyes.)

With all the cold weather and snowy days we’ve had this year, I thought I’d add a little more to the flakiness. I love the memories the pictures bring back, so I kind of tried to tell a non-verbal story. See if you get it.

The first picture is Mom and Dad on one of our ski trips.

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The ‘Rents had gone skiing with the church the year I had my first baby. (For some reason–either being extremely prego or having a new nursing baby–G-Man and I didn’t go.)

So when #1 son was almost a year old, they decided to take the entire fam on our first y’all come ski trip.

When they decided to take the trip, Mom called Gaye, a wonderful friend I’d grown up with, who lived at Crested Butte, Colorado. (And she skied every day! Lucky girl.)

Miracle of miracles, Gaye found us a place to stay. (Thanks, Gaye!) It was an entire house, and since we had a few extras (one husband-to-be and several friends) it was perfect.

Gaye even found us a sweet woman for #1 son to stay with while we were there. (Thanks, again, Gaye!)

Mom bought us some of our ski gear for Christmas. Silly me, I asked for gloves, not mittens. Wow! Big mistake.

Mittens might make you look like a little kid, but they keep your fingers much, much warmer! I bought down-filled mittens there on the slopes and I was WARM! Broke, but warm. (Anything you buy on the ski slopes is expensive.)

Dad decided we didn’t need to pay to take ski lessons. He taught us everything we needed to know the morning of the first day. How to stop (make a piece of pie with your skis and sit down on it!) How to turn (Bubbletail, cut some pie and lean into it.)

I was climbing on a very easy-to-navigate ski lift (and getting in better skiers’ way) that afternoon.

A more thoughtful person, G-Man found a hill and practiced all by himself.

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This is G-Man and me. I borrowed my ski suit from a friend, who told me to keep it. She had a new one. I loved it! (Thank you, Lana!!!)

Brother Jeffrey and his buddy didn’t bother to learn to traverse the slopes.  They just turned their tips downhill and flew! And they had a great time doing it.

I took some spectacular spills, even though Gary and I stayed on Green (Easy) slopes with an occasional Blue (Medium) thrown in.

The last day of the trip, Dad thought G-Man and I were good enough to go to the backside of the mountain . . . where we found there were only Black (double diamond-HARD!) trails.
Have you ever prayed for a helicopter to come and rescue you? I did that day. 🙂 I think I ended up just sliding down the slope on my backside–which I only thought was cold before I started the slide.
On the way home, we ran into a blizzard. We were in Oklahoma, and experiencing worse weather than Colorado had! The baby didn’t feel good, so it was a long, long trip.
How about that? I just realized this memory is another gift for my list.
I’m oh! So! Very! Grateful!
 
 
 
 
 


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Phobia Lane

My Phobia:

I think I mentioned yesterday I’d had some toothy dilemmas in the past few days. To be very honest, I’m a denta-phobic. But I come by it honestly.

When I was a little kid (like five or six) my jaw teeth abscessed. All of them.

According to my mom, that wasn’t my fault. It was hers for not taking her calcium because it made her sick when she was preggers with me. (I like that reason.)

She took me to a dentist in a nearby Small Town World, and without telling her what he was going to do, the dentist pulled two of my teeth. The man apparently hadn’t learned yet that you shouldn’t make a mama mad.

Naturally, Mom took me to a children’s specialist.

Mistake #1.  (I think this guy was a child’s specialist because he was bigger than we were.)

This guy told her he was going to have to pull the rest of my jaw teeth. And he told her IN FRONT OF ME!

Mistake #2.

But those two mistakes weren’t what made me a denta-phobic. It was because this New Dentist would give me the shot to deaden doomed teeth, then pull them BEFORE the shot took effect. I can tell you in two words how that felt.

IT HURT!!!

After my first trip to visit New Dentist, I did not want to go back. Ever! I didn’t care how bad my teeth hurt.

Then one day Sister Debbie and I were playing on the front porch and she said she was going to go to the farm with Granddad Ray.

Now I loved going to the farm! Cousins lived there. Sparky lived there. And Granddad’s garden (full of watermelons) was there.

“I want to go,” I told her.

“You can’t,” she answered me. “You have to go get your toofus pulled.”

My stomach hit the concrete steps. Get my toofus–I mean tooth–pulled? While Sister Debbie got to go to the farm? Noooooo!

My parent’s plan to take me to have two teeth extracted as a surprise failed. (IOW–Sister Debbie spilled the beans.)

But it wasn’t all bad. The last two tooth-pulling visits, my daddy took me. Only me. No one else to share his attention. (As one of six kiddos, that sparkles in my memory. You know?)

And after the excruciating experience of having my non-deadened teeth pulled, we got to eat in my favorite place–Danner’s Cafeteria.

Naturally, I got 4F–fried fish and French fries. My faves! And for dessert, I probably got watermelon. Or Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.

But I couldn’t eat my fish because my gums, torn open by the extractions, hurt too much.

Daddy watched me order and he didn’t say a word, but he oh, so wisely ordered baked halibut. And when I couldn’t chew mine, we traded.

I’m still amazed at how very smart my dad was for such a young guy. (About 26 at the time.)

After lunch, Dad took me to see a movie.

We did the Daddy-Daughter thing for the last two pairs of extractions, so we saw two movies. One was Raintree County. I didn’t understand most of it, but it had Liz Taylor in it, and Daddy loved watching her, so I enjoyed every moment of it.

I’m not sure what the other flick was, but I think it was High Noon or something like it. Apparently there were no John Wayne movies out right then or we would have gone to see him.

The same dentist filled a couple of my teeth, and no, he didn’t use Novocain. He said the cavities were so small, I’d never feel him drilling.

I have news for him. I felt it!

I have to feel a little sorry for this dentist. Before my cousin Joanie told her mom how mean he was (very!) and we all quit going to him, he had a few unpleasant experiences with me.

I bit him (accidentally, of course. He had fat fingers.) threw up on him and I passed out. I have a feeling Joanie did worse. (As the only girl and youngest of four kids, she was always good at pay back.)

Dental Dude: (aka–phobia fixer)

Happily, Dental Dude (my dentist now) is nothing like that dentist was.

He’s interested in everything and asks lots of questions. (The only problem is when he has both hands in my mouth, it’s  a little hard to answer.)

And he works very hard not to hurt me. VERY. HARD. (I keep hoping he’s afraid of me, but I haven’t noticed any signs of it.)

DD is interesting. Even though he hurt both of his knees a few years ago (a great excuse to quit exercising in anyone’s book) he enters triathlons anytime there’s one close. And he trains all the time.

He runs miles and miles. And bikes miles and miles. And he swims miles and miles. IN! OUR! LAKE!

Our Small Town World Lake is formed from damming the Arkansas and Cimarron Rivers, and the Cimarron carries a ton of dirt it picked up on the way to our world, so this isn’t a clear lake by any means. But he likes to swim in it because the pool in his neighborhood is too small to get much swimming done.

He mentioned his nose itches for a day or two after he swims. (His helper suggested he wear a nose plug to stop that from happening. I would have recommended a different lake.)

Last week:

When he couldn’t glue my tooth back together (still wondering WHY, but I have a feeling it has to do with boring stuff that would make my brain go numb) he had to pull that piece.

I flashed right back and became six-year-old Susan. “Noooo!”

But it hurt too much to leave broken like that. I was determined he was going to make it NUMB before he pulled it out.

“It’s like a baby tooth,” he told me. “Just hanging there, ready to come out.”

“I cried when they pulled my baby teeth.” I answered grimly. “Give that numbing stuff time to work before you yank on it.”

“This numbing stuff is instantaneous.” He’s so patient with me. Nice guy. “It doesn’t need time.”

“But I can still feel my tooth.”

After a couple of more shots, he easily pulled it.

Did I feel silly for making such a fuss?

Nope. I’m entitled to the fuss.

How about y’all? Any of you guys have denta-phobias?

Care to share?

 


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WOOHOO! And, Aaaaack!

Can you believe it’s September already? WOOHOO! I love autumn. (Come on and get here!)

I feel as if I’ve been kinda MIA for the last week or two. Sorry about that, but I’ve been busy lately.

I had a tooth go bad (infected, you know?) so the dentist started a root canal. (You know it’s hurting me when I can’t wait to get into the office and get a giant needle shoved in my jaw. I’m denta-phobic!) The next day, I was sick all day.

I don’t know why. Maybe it was a coincidence and maybe it was the infection. Who knows? (I’m sure someone does, but I’d rather just ignore it.)

Dental Dude put me on antibiotics (he’s a great guy) and that caused Other Problems. (If you don’t know what kind of problems antibiotics can cause, look it up. It’s gross enough to live through without talking about it.)

There’s another story about the visit. I’ll try to remember to tell it later. Tomorrow maybe?

Next I was hit by a UTI. (You can look that one up, too.) For some reason, doctors don’t like to take my word for it when I tell them I have an infection, so I had to go in for a visit. 😦 But I don’t really mind. I have a great doc.

So my funny doctor (not my dentist) changed my antibiotics to something that’ll work on both problems and we both crossed our fingers that I WOULDN’T have more of that same Other Problem again.

Yep, another story about that visit, too. DAT, maybe?

Sigh.

When I ate my breakfast cereal one morning, I heard a snap and oops! Root Canaled tooth cracked. Luckily, Omega had a dentist appointment she let me use that afternoon. Sisters are great, aren’t they?

I tried to get Dental Dude to glue the tooth back together, but he said he couldn’t. (I even offered to loan him some fingernail glue. No go.)

My dad had his hip replaced on Tuesday. Naturally, I wanted to be there when before surgery started, but the surgeon got around earlier than I did and I didn’t make it in time. Almost all of his kiddos were there when he came out.

He did great! Something about the procedure has changed in the last four years since I had mine replaced, and he didn’t get the morphine pump like I had. (Interesting experience if you enjoy riding the Tilt-a-Whirl when you were young.)

But when it was time for him to get up and stand on that new hipper, his BP took a nose dive.

I spent one night with him at the hospital. (We like to have somebody there all the time. Anyone else like that?) Not a lot of rest, but we had a great time together.

It took a couple of days for him to get over having low BP, but he’s home now and happy as a lark.

I figure he’ll be back at work in a week or so if not before.

He didn’t make it to church Sunday, although I half expected him to be there. I really missed him, too.

As busy as I’ve been with everything, I didn’t get much else done. Not much writing. Or blogging. Or gardening. (Weeds be gone!)

Oh, and our gift for this beautiful long weekend? Our upstairs air conditioner died a sad death, so we’re living downstairs.

Yet another story for even another time. 🙂

What’s going on with you?