Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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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.

1JOKE

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.

firestarter

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.

fire

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.

firewell

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.

firegrassagain

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.

firemen

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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Cockle Shells, Silver Bells, and Pretty Maids . . .

I’m not Mary, I’m rarely contrary, but I’ve got a garden this year. Of sorts. (LOL) I’m fresh out of shells, bells and maids. 😦

Strawberry Pot

Strawberry Pot

Years ago when G-Man and I were first married we planted a HUGE garden. (And I had a beautiful, blistering sunburn for my first anniversary. Oh, the memories. 🙂  )

This grew out of the strawberry pot and into the bricks.

This grew out of the strawberry pot and into the bricks.

We raised green beans, beets, tomatoes, onions, peppers, okra. And squash. Six hundred tons of squash. I fixed it every way possible, then we started freezing it.

Sweet potato vine, Vincas, Pintas and Angels' Wings. (Sometimes I make up my own names.)

Sweet potato vine, Vincas, Pintas and Angels’ Wings. (Sometimes I make up my own names.)

In case you didn’t know, if you have a yard in Okieland, you have to have a garden. (I think it’s a law.)

Big pots take a lot of soil!

Big pots take a lot of soil!

I’ve learned a thing or two in the years since that first garden. Now remember, most people know more about gardening than I do. 🙂 But I’m sharing what I know.

Here’s what I’ve picked up on.

  • Life began in a garden. (Called Eden.)
  • Plant flowers. Lots of them. And a few veggies.
  • Only plant three squash or zucchini plants for each family of 357.
  • Don’t plant okra. (It gives you stickers.)
  • Don’t plant watermelon or cantaloupe unless you have plenty of room. (160 acres or so.)
We bought new pots last summer. Now they match!!

We bought new pots last summer. Now they match!!

  • Water, water, water. And then water some more.
  • Stay ahead of the weeds or they’ll eat everything you grow. (Or hide it, which amounts to the same thing.)
  • Lock your car during squash season. Just sayin’.

empty potMore! Dirt! Please!!!

If you look in the background of the above pic, you can see the pots that used to be on my deck. They have herbs in them and I love my herbs, so I moved them to the pond area. Now if I only had a pond.

I have a thing for watering cans.

I have a thing for watering cans.

So here it is, nearly the middle of June, and I’m just getting my pots planted. But they’re pretty, aren’t they? I have a few more plans, and I’ll let you in on them if I can get them done. And find enough soil.

Hope I don't murder them.

Hope I don’t murder them.


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Me? Mother of the Year?(snort)

Happy Mother's Day

So for our Mother’s Day celebration we met all the kids at Kilkenny’s for dinner. Yeah, one of my favorite restaurants, and since I didn’t want to clean and cook and no one else did either, perfect idea!

While we were there, I decided we should play Happy Mama Memories. You know, where the kids are supposed to remember really sweet things I did for them as kids?

  • The Halloween costumes I created for them, sewing late into the night.
  • The time I saved Brad’s life by realizing he had appendicitis and rushing him (by myself!) to the hospital in Tulsa.
  • The time I insisted we take Matt to a plastic surgeon rather than let the doc in our Small Town World stitch up his lip with a fish hook and baling twine. (Okay, slight exaggeration, but you get my drift. 🙂 )

Did that happen? Uh . . . nope.

My kids took it a step farther, as usual, and played Mom’s Most Embarrassing Moments, blow by blow.

  • Such as the time the neighborhood crazy woman decided she wanted to whack me with a shovel, and I walked myself out where she stood (with her big-mama shovel) and said go for it.
  • And the time I went nose to nose with one of my kids assistant soccer coach who didn’t go to any of the practices, but thought he should yell louder than the real coach and tell the kids what to do (even though they had no idea what he was talking about because he wasn’t at the practices.)

Coach Wannabe: “Just because I can’t make the practices, does that mean I can’t be part of the team?”

Mean Mommy Susan: “Yes!”

Coach Wannabe putting on a big whine: “Well, that’s not fair.”

 

Our party took a good hitch after that. #1 DIL told us when she started feeling loved by the family–When she told us she’d spewed all over my bathroom, and I answered, “No problem.”

I LIKED that one. 🙂

Okay, nobody ever will offered me the Mother of the Year Award, but I love the stuffings out of my babies, which surprised me and my mother. (I was so not a little girl who liked dolls!)

And I love the stuffings out of them and their wives now, even though they know where all the bodies are buried. (And don’t mind talking about it.)


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Coyotes, II

When I was a baby, Mom’s Uncle Henry gave me a puppy named Mike. I’m not sure who named him Mike (I really was a baby) but he was the best dog ever! One of those pets that you just think about and a smile starts way down deep inside you and doesn’t stop until your mouth stretches in a big old smile. He was the best!

We don’t have many pictures of Mike. (My family didn’t often waste film on dogs) but we have this one, courtesy of my cousins’ mom.

mike's-photoThis is Mike. He didn’t have white on his face, and I’m not sure why this picture looks like he did. It might be snow or maybe it’s the way the light hit his face and that old film.

Anyway, we lived on the farm in the Basin outside of Old Ford when we got him. He lived there with us, and when we moved into town where we lived with Grandmother and Granddad, he stayed at the farm. (The house in town was on the highway, so farm life was much safer.)

Mike did come to town every now and then. Once, when Dad went out and got the tractor to do something at the house, Mike followed him into town. Debbie and I were so excited to see him, even though we’d probably been out to see him just a few days before that.

Anyway, Mike lived on the farm where Uncle Frank and Uncle Paul and their families lived. Both families fed him. It’s a wonder he wasn’t fat, fat, fat, but he was too busy to get fat. Whatever was going on, Mike was in the midst of it.

mikeWilma Spess won an award with this picture.

This is a picture of a picture. I snapped it through the glass to share with you. The red on the coyote is my shirt, reflecting in the glass. (Sorry!)

For some reason, this coyote had been prowling close to Uncle Paul’s house, snacking on UP’s chickens. My uncle decided he needed to do something about it, and took the dogs to go after him.

BTW: So you don’t think too harshly of us, in Okie-Land there used to be a bounty on coyotes.

The coyote has turned on the dogs here, ready to do battle. It’s not a fill-you-with-glee picture, is it? So why did I share it?

Because Wilma took a great picture. (Wish you could see the original.)

Because I wanted you to meet my dog, Mike. 🙂

And because I wanted you to see how gorgeous the coyote is.

coyote    He’s a beauty, isn’t he?

I’ll bet nobody had to make him howl! 🙂

 


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The Family Rock

Last fall, I shared this picture with you when I was talking about family pictures.

twin-rocks

My great-grandmother was much better at commanding the fam to get together for a pic than I am. She succeeded. I didn’t.

This picture still isn’t very good, but I used a photo-editing program to darken it a little, because I wanted you to see what’s behind them.

That’s Twin Rock on Eagle Mountain. (Okay, it’s not really a mountain, but that sounds better than Eagle Hill. Right?)

Twin Rock is a sort of Spess Family icon. We love it.

My dad’s only sister had a picture of her and her cousin snapped there. It was a shot of one of the girl’s head as she’s lying on one rock, and the other girl’s feet, as she’s lying on the other. I THINK they were supposed to look as if the first girl was so tall, she could lie down and curve her body all the way around so her feet stuck out from the other.

It took me several years of looking at it to figure out what they were doing.

Naturally, since Twin Rock is famous in our family, I’ve been there a few times. Once, I was reading all the names and dates carved into it. Lots of names–most of whom I’m related to.

Then I came to a four letter word. H-E-L-L.

That stopped me. Rock chiseling is a lot of work. Why would someone be so proud of knowing the word, they’d work that hard to share it?

Maybe, I thought, it was a warning. Something like, Beware of hell? So I brushed off lichen and moss, trying to see if there was more to it.

There was.

It said, “Mitchell.” LOL. Yep, a family name.

The carving probably wasn’t as hard as I thought, I realize now, because Twin Rock is made of sandstone. Sandstone is a soft material, which erodes quickly.

Twin Rock isn’t nearly as tall as it was in this picture that was probably taken about 1903 or 1904. In fact, it’s barely taller than my head. But most of the names are still there.

And I’m very glad. I know that they spent quite a bit of time in that very spot where I’m standing when I look at it, a direct connection with family I never met.


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It’s In The Air!

Can you feel it? It’s in the air! It’s EVERYWHERE!!! (Or it will be.)

LOOK AT THIS!

Friday, March 15, 2013, in C-Town, Oklahoma

  • Lo: 46° F
  • Hi: 83° F

Almost a record high! Woohoo!

As you know, I’m a fair-weather gardener. I like the temperature to be not too hot and not too cold when I’m out in the world of dirt and blooms. (And sticks and dead things.) I’m thinking today is The Day to get out and get my hands dirty!

spring-columbines

Don’t you love flowers and gardens and things that make our lives more beautiful? (These are Columbine.) Don’t you hate weeds and grass and everything that grows where it’s not supposed to?

blue flowers_edited-1I’m getting excited. Do I work in the garden or head for the poor, neglected, abused pond?

white-flowers

I bought new pots last summer so at least some of my deck containers will match this year. And they aren’t plastic!

wild-blue-flowersAnd the new containers are blue!

pentas and blue flowers

I like blue. (Could you tell?)

eureka!-flowers!!!So . . . I think I might play hooky from work this afternoon and see how warm it really does get. (And how dirty I can get.)

How about you?


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Snow Day!

Okay, it’s not really a snow day in the strictest sense. I think I can still drive to work without being in danger of sliding off the road, but it’s a snowy day.

snow-in-the-hoodIt’s been so long before we had much snow, I’m excited to get whatever comes down.

snow-deckNot much yet, but still it’s white. And cold. And wet. 🙂

snow-fenceRemember when you were a kid and they called off school because of the snow? Wasn’t it fun?

Mom made hot chocolate for us. We’d dress warm and go outside to play, play, play. Then we’d come in, take off our wet clothes and drink the chocolate and warm up in front of the fireplace.

As soon as we got warm, we were ready to go out again. And mom let us.

She never complained about the wet floors or the extra laundry she had to do. (Who wants to put on cold wet clothes to go out and play?)

Once in a while, if she didn’t have babies too small to go out, Mom would dress warm, go out and help us make a snowman or have a snowball fight with us.

Coolest mom ever!

Read more about her here: Snowing and Blowing.

Our dad was pretty cool, too. Read about the sled he built for us kids and all the fun he and his friends had with it, here. “Sleddy Memories”

Guess I’ll call work and see how the roads are looking. Wonder if schools are out today?