Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Fun, Friends and Beavers

A long time ago, G-Man and I lived in Ponca City, Oklahoma. (My postman called it Punkin Center.) That was before kiddos and before I started writing down my stories.

Yesterday, Dad and I went back to that part of the world. We didn’t go to the house where G-man and I lived, but we were close. Made me think about all the people I knew back then. Those were nice people (hey, they were Okies, how could they not be nice?) but sadly, I haven’t stayed in touch with them.

Dad and I met a family yesterday, though, that felt as if we’d known them forever. The wife was sweet, friendly and funny! (A requirement in my Small Town World.)

Her house was already Christmas ready and gorgeous! The thing is, you could have transferred everything from her house to Sister Debbie’s house, and it would have been perfect. (Deb would have loved it!)

She even had some of the same things I’ve seen at Sister Debbie’s house. Her attitude as a stay-at-home mom was just like Deb’s. And more than her things and attitude, her heart was very familiar!

Her husband’s pride in her was obvious, and her joy at being married to him was there for everyone to see. We met their son, and I have to tell you, he was a boy to be proud of!

The boy is a hunter and fisherman. A kiddo who reminded me a lot of Brother Jeffrey! Not only that, but he was nice and actually carried on a conversation with us adults!

Funny thing, even though there had been problems and tragedies in their lives, this family was fun to be around. We really could have been related! And we might be family in Christ. (I didn’t ask, though.)

When we left this wonderful homey house (complete with pumpkin cookies Daddy loved) we drove through the countryside so we could check on some of our farms.

We stopped on a bridge at the edge of a farm so I could get a picture.


I had to have a picture of this beaver’s dam. See it in the middle there, kinda looking like a bridge? LOL.

I’ll try again.

Damming the creek!

Damming the creek!

See it now? Too cool for school, huh? There was one on the other side of the bridge, too . . .


Looks like a pretty creek where beaver would love to live.


See it, there in the middle? It’s a half-dam. Dad said it had been washed away sometime. We saw another beaver dam while we drove, so we figured there must be quite a population of beaver in that area.

BTW: Did you know beavers mate for life? There’s a couple making a home right there.

We went on to the Kay County Courthouse from there and then to visit the FSA office, where we visited with friends. (Have I mentioned how much I enjoy meeting and remeeting people? They’re just so much fun!)

It was a long day (even with Dad driving) but after a dip of Cherries, Pecans and Cream on a waffle cone (anybody?) I perked up a little. And God gave us a great gift to get us home–

sky-high I couldn’t do the sky justice, but I tried.

It really was a beautiful day. One that’ll live in my memory for a long, long time! (I meet a lot of people I enjoy, but rarely meet folks I feel as if I’ve known for a long time like this family.)

How about you? Do you enjoy meeting new people or are  you happy hanging with the people already in your sphere?




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Dork World

I read other blogs, and so many of them are wonderful! It makes me just a little bit jealous because very few bloggers ever showed dork tendencies as kids. I was a very dorky kid. Or maybe I was nerdy. I’m not really sure of the difference, but I know I wasn’t geeky. I don’t have that kind of smarts. :)Cousin Liz reminded me about what a dork I was last year. The scene of my dorkdom was Grandma Reeves house.

Grandma Reeves didn’t live in just one house while I was growing up. She didn’t mind moving at all, and lived in several houses over the years. One time, she lived on magical farm, just outside of C-Town.

We called her farm the Mead Place because, well, the Mead Family owned it.

There was a huge garden, which Grandma brought to life each spring, a pen for Granddad’s hunting dogs, a barn where Blue their Cow lived, three ponds to fish in, and a horse to ride–yes, it came with the place.

And the house! I loved that house. Of course, I was six or seven when they moved to our Small Town World. I know that, because Cousin Sherry or her brother Joe Ray was born when Grandma lived in that house. (We were so excited!)

It might not have been the newest house in the world, but to my eye, it was wonderous.You’d think that, since it’s the scene of hundreds of my dorkisms, I wouldn’t have so many fond memories. But I do!

The house was two story with a farm kitchen (naturally) one bedroom downstairs, three or four up, a screened in front AND back porch and a stair case you could slide down if you were very careful.

Cousin Liz would come out from T-Town and stay with Grandma for a week or two in the summer, which made Sister Debbie and me ecstatic! One of the reasons we loved Liz so much is that she never treated us like little kids, even though we were several years younger. She treated us as if we were teenagers, too, and friends, so we loved to get to be around her.

Liz always stayed in the middle upstairs bedroom at Grandma’s, right over the screened in front porch. The bedroom had two windows for good ventolation. I’m not sure if the windows didn’t have screens on them or if Liz knew how to take them off and then replace them, but the summer she brought one of her friends out from T-Town with her, they didn’t get in the way.

Dork Night, as I remember it, was beautiful. Because there were no street lights in the country, you could see every star in the sky. The moon was so bright, it made the two giant cedar trees in the front yard look kind of silvery.

I don’t know if Liz and her friend were admiring the night or just having fun doing something a little bit dangerous, but they decided it would be fun to go out onto the roof of the porch outside those windows.

I remember watching them go out one window and come in the other one. After a while, they decided to sit on that roof and chat a bit.

Liz looked in the window at me. “Want to come out here and sit on the roof with us?”

Get ready. Proof of my natural dork-ability is about to happen. *sigh*

I can only guess what I looked like, since I couldn’t see me.

Remember those little girls at school who wouldn’t play Herd-of-Horses or Wolf Family at school because they might get their dresses dirty? (You didn’t play those games in your school?)

The girls who closed their eyes when they talked, always made 100 on their homework and never, ever folded their paper the wrong way? I figure I looked just like one of them.

That would have been absolutely the ONLY time in my life I looked like one of them. I promise. But that one night, I did. *sigh, again*

So, nerd that I was, I channeled that I’m-too-good-and-clean-pain-in-the-patootie-girl.

“No. I don’t believe my parents would want me to do that.”

I feel very fortunate that Liz and her friend didn’t laugh their guts out and fall right off that roof. I probably would have. She didn’t even call me a dork or a nerd. I probably would have done that, too.

She just went back out and sat with her friend. (Yeah, they might have been smoking, but I wouldn’t tell on Liz. No matter what!) *sigh, a third time*

I wonder if there’s a Twelve Step Program for dorks somewhere out there?




Lemons to . . . ?

You know the old question, What do you do when life hands you lemons? Make lemonade, of course!

I’ve heard several other answers.

  • Serve mine with a twist.
  • Stuff them in your, uh, ladies’ underwear and save money on padding.
  • Sell them on eBay.
  • Trade them in for ones that get better gas mileage. (I like that one!)
  • Make a helmet for your kitty.

Okay, this guy used a lime, but you get the idea.

My Granddad Ray was one of those guys who knew about turning lemons into lemonade. He was born in 1900, along with a twin sister, in this cabin.

 The cabin was built on the place my great-grandfather got in the opening of the Cherokee Strip. I believe Great-granddad Spess staked a different place, then traded a man for this one. That was seven years before Granddad Ray was born.

Granddad grew up on that land. When he married, he and Grandmother built a house there and had two children. They moved to town by the time they had their last child.

My dad was born in 1930, the last of Granddad and Grandmother’s four children–all six years old and under! (Oy!) 1930 was practically the beginning of The Great Depression, but Granddad figured several ways to turn the lemons of a depression into lemonade.

He raised and butchered his own animals and raised much of their own food on the Farm. (I have a hunch he was a pretty fair trader, too!) He sold insurance and got into the oil business.

When I was a kid, we always called the land where Granddad was born The Farm. (Original, right? LOL) The Farm is in the Basin, near Old Ford.

As kids, we loved to go there. Sparky, the horse Dad bought when he was twelve, lived there as well as two families of cousins. When we were there, we could fish in the best catfish pond in the world, and if we were very, very lucky, Granddad would pick a watermelon and we’d get to eat it, warm and sweet, straight out of the garden.

The soil near the river was really sandy, and while it might not be the best for raising some crops (kind of hard to keep watered) Granddad found it was a great place to plant watermelons.

About the only thing on The Farm I never liked was Bull Neddles. Know what that is?

This is from Plant of the Week on Facebook:

The entire plant is covered in glass-like hairs that when touched break off into the skin and act as hypodermic needles releasing a toxin that causes an intense burning sensation.  The stinging hairs can penetrate even the heaviest clothing such as jeans.  Depending on sensitivity of ones skin the affected area can remain red and swollen for a number of days after initial contact.

If you ever got too near one, you’d remember. Just brush against a bull neddle and your legs start itching and stinging enough to make you cry for a long time.

As kids, we wore shorts all summer long except when we went to The Farm. If we forgot and wore them and got caught by a bull neddle, we didn’t forget again for a long time.

But Granddad knew something about Bull Neddles that us kids didn’t know. It was good for food! Not the stinging neddles, but the seed pod.

Inside the seed capsule that bears a coat of armour more formidable than steel waits a delicious nut. (from Plant of the Week on FB again.)

I remember one year when Granddad brought home a bucket full of those seed pods. When he told us what they were, us kids gave that bucket a wide berth. We imagined that, even after they were off the plant, they’d cause itching like our on legs when we got too close in the summer.

I don’t know if anyone except Granddad ever ate those nuts he picked. LOL.

Granddad even knew how to find fruit in an old orchard that had gone wild, and how to turn the gritty pears he picked in that orchard into honey. Pear honey. 🙂

One more thing I know? When Granddad got lemons, he made lemonade but he added fresh orange juice to it and lots of sugar, so it wasn’t so tart.