Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Fire Season, Again, Again

So yesterday, Sister Debbie and I had planned to go after work to take pictures at the ranch where we spent a lot of time growing up.

Don’t you love making plans so they can change?

Early in the afternoon, we started seeing heavy smoke coming from south of town. Fire Season, again!

Picture by Matt Shay as he left C-Town

Picture by Matt Shay as he left C-Town

There’s one thing about our Small Town World, when tragedy happens, everyone pitches in to help. Busses couldn’t leave the schools because so many of the kids live in burning areas and many of the roads were closed, so teachers voluntarily stayed to watch over them until parents could find a way in to get them. (Not! Easy!)

Friends picked up children when parents couldn’t get to town.

People offer you a place to stay if you can’t get home. And today there’ll be tons of clothing and furniture donations if they’re needed.

#2 son tried to go home later in the afternoon, but they’d closed Highway 64, so he turned around and left town going north instead of south.

Picture by Matt Shay

Picture by Matt Shay

We tuned in our police scanners and listened to neighborhoods outside of town being evacuated. We heard about people who couldn’t go home because the roads were closed.

Yep, we prayed.

Then it was time for me to go home. I decided to go down through Terlton (a super-small town near ours), across Benight Road (a roller coaster road) up Highway 48 and home.

BUUUUUT . . . Then I got to where Grandma Reeves used to live and decided to turn at Dog Center and head east. After all, we’d heard that part of the world had been burning a few hours earlier. Should be finished by now, my smoke weary brain reasoned. Right?


Besides, we have land in that area and I wanted to see how badly it had been damaged.

I drove a ways and recognized several places I hadn’t seen in years. Then the smoke got a little heavier. I started seeing airplanes drop low and leave water behind.

Finally, I met this coming out of the smoke.


A few others were driving my way, too, and lots of them had very young fire fighters on them. They didn’t stop and make me go back (maybe because I was pulled over to let them pass) but seeing the flames ahead (and next to me) I turned around and went back the other way as fast as I could.

That’s when the fun started. 😉

I turned on a road I thought was going my way. Then I saw one heading east again. I turned on it, thinking it would take me to 48.

Pretty soon there were heavy duty fences and lots of trailers and little outbuildings. I wasn’t passing through a neighborhood. I was on private property, proven when I pulled up to a pair of iron gates. Closed. Locked. Iron gates.

About that time I thought I heard the theme to Deliverance playing and, expecting to see people running out of their buildings at any moment (either to sell me an illegal substance I wasn’t interested in OR to shoot me) I did a perfect three point turn and zipped out of there as fast as my little car would go.

It’s amazing what you find in our countryside. 😉 Especially when you have one of “those” imaginations. LOL.

I finally found a cute young deputy next to a roadblock and asked him if I was headed the right way to get to Benight Road.

Yep. In a couple of miles, I’d be on it.

Will there be a sign that says, “Benight?”

After yelling the question and echoing it a few times (my deputy was from Stillwater, so he didn’t know that answer) the Head Deputy in Charge said, “Nope. 5700 Road.”

I spoke to G-Man a time or two on my cell phone (TGFCP!), keeping him up on where I was in case I didn’t make it home, and told him I was having too much fun!

How often do I get to be in the middle of all that action (accidentally, of course) and not be in a world of hurt?

I finally made it to 48, and saw the fire in the distance.


I made it home just fine, but I was a little wrung out when I got there.

When everything stops smoldering, Sister Debbie and I might have to drive out that way and snap a few pictures.

My next door neighbor drove through the area where I couldn’t go and shared these pictures with me.

Picture by Melissa Smith-Chenoweth

Picture by Melissa Smith-Chenoweth

Picture by Melissa Smith-Chenoweth

         Picture by Melissa Smith-Chenoweth

Thank you, Matt Shay and Melissa Smith-Chenoweth for sharing your pictures.

And a huge thank you to the Fire Fighters and people who worked to put out the fires. We appreciate you!!!

Fire Proof.





2016–So It Begins

A new year. A do over!
I love fresh starts and do overs, don’t you?
Of course, I loved 2015. I had a grandson born, did a little traveling with G-Man, had some personal growth and had a great time writing about (which is like living in) my imaginary town, Jordan Valley.
But now it’s 2016, and I’m thrilled to think what might happen.
Hopefully, I’ll finish and polish the four books I have set in JV and can begin looking into publishing them.
I don’t know if I’ll look for an agent or go another route for publication, but even thinking about that has me bouncing on my tiptoes. 😀
Am I making a goal list? Nope. I’ve learned I’m a little contrary when faced with a to-do list, so not going to happen. Besides, I’d either lose it or get mad and burn it one day. 
I’ve read that if you don’t have a goal you’ll never know when you reach it, but I’m not sure that’s true. I hope I’m not so far gone, I don’t know when I finish what I start.
What do you have planned for this year? Are you a goal setter? If you are, do you care to share?
♥ ♥ ♥


Cashew Caramel Corn–To Die For

Robyn Venable asked me to share my recipe for caramel corn, one of my favorite autumn things. I didn’t share it with anyone for a long time, because it was the only thing I could make better than anyone else.

Besides, it wasn’t MY recipe. It was a recipe given to me by a friend or two.

But I’ve changed it so much over the years, I think I can safely share it now without worrying that she’ll get mad at me. I hope so, anyway.

The trouble with the way I cook is that I use a specific pan for the popcorn and know how high it should go in the pan. When it gets that high, I stop popping corn. LOL.

I use a turkey roasting pan (the heavy kind) filled just less than half full. Since that doesn’t tell you much, the recipe calls for 8 cups of fresh popped corn.

1 1/2 C brown sugar
1 1/2 C cashews
12 T margarine
6 T light corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla

Bring brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup and cashews to a boil. When mixture boils, stop stirring. Cook for five minutes. Stir in soda and vanilla.

Pour over popcorn and put in 250 degree oven for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.

Spread out on waxed paper to cool. Break up and eat. It’s really (REALLY!) good with coffee. 🙂

As I said, this really isn’t my recipe. (I’m always shocked at people who share a recipe as if it’s theirs. Does anyone really create a recipe from scratch?)

This recipe came from my friend Joy and my sweet friend/neighbor/Heavenly Citizen Suezan for sharing their recipes with me. I’ve enjoyed it for years, and now I’m sharing with you!




Fall/Autumn/Best Time of the Year!

It’s here!

It isn’t a calendar or a clock that tells me. It’s the feeling when I go outside. It’s #2 son’s birthday and football and the fair.

It’s the color of leaves and the frost on the punkin.

What? you might ask, but I bet you already know.

It’s Fall. Autumn. Heaven Time. (Whatever you call it.) And I’m so excited! Its got me knitting and cleaning and loving life.

The best thing? Caramel Cashew Popcorn. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S, buttery, sinfully wonderful goodness. I learned how to eat it (by the ton) and finally how to make it myself when I lived in Pryor Creek. Friend Joy Mobley shared the magical recipe 😀 and over the years I’ve tweaked it just a little.

It’s great with coffee for breakfast. Not exactly the breakfast of champions, but it DEEEELICIOUS! It’s good for lunch. Heck, it’s even good for dinner.

Think I’ll refill my coffee and have another kernel–or a bucketful!



Now, I’m wondering . . . what’s your favorite Autumn treat?

Leave a comment

The GRAND Canyon

How long has it been since you were at the Grand Canyon?

We’ve been there twice, the last time at the beginning of this month! And to be honest, my toes stayed curled for a long time after we left because of the sudden drop looming next to the path. 🙂

As you can probably guess, I snapped a few pics while we were there.



This statue was in front of the restaurant where we ate. Don’t you love it?

GC-FATHER-SONTo be honest, I’m a people/critter watcher first and a canyon watcher second. This pair looked like a father-son to me. I loved the way they were recording their time together.

GC-HORSEThis was one of the park rangers. She didn’t stop and chat (sadly) and she didn’t offer me a ride, sigh, but she was friendly. Nice horse, too, huh?

GC-LIZARDWe watched this guy sun himself on the edge of the canyon for several minutes.

GC-SQUIRRELAnd this speedy character entertained several of us lurkers.

GC-ART-STUDIOThis is an artist’s studio there at the edge of the canyon. Imagine spending your days painting God’s handiwork. (And hoping you don’t sleep walk off the edge.)

GC-WEEDSI did get a few (!) shots of the canyon. God really carved out a beautiful place out there.

GC-THE-CANYONAren’t the muted colors gorgeous?



GC-TRAILING-PATHI decided I couldn’t climb any higher on the rim train at one point (that deep hole was making me dizzy) so I sat on a bench and waited while G-Man went on up.

I met several people while I was there. One couple was Sam and Rebecca from Ohio. They asked where I was from and I answered, “Cleveland, OKLAHOMA. When I say Cleveland, most people say ask if it’s the one in Ohio.”

Rebecca laughed. “When you start talking, they know it’s not Ohio.”

“I have an accent???”

GC-LEAP-PADSThis is the place where my kids hopped around the last time we were at the Grand Canyon. Yeah, my toes curled then, too.

So when was the last time you were at the Grand Canyon? Well, it’s time to go back.

Not that it changes much in a span of a few years, except for the manmade stuff. But most peoples’ memories are never as beautiful as the real thing. Head out that way soon and send me a picture of your favorite part.

I’ll love it.