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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The Ultimate Artist!

One red leaf in the middle of the green leaves. Love it!

How long has it been since you’ve done something just for fun? Last weekend, G-Man and I did just that. We took the Talimena Drive. Even though it rained, even though it was chilly and wet and far from perfect, it’s one of those weekends I’ll never forget!

We went to McAlester and spent the night Friday, then drove on to Talihina Saturday morning, where they were having their 25th Fall Foliage Festival. We had a great time!

Then we left on the Talimena National Scenic Byway. All I could think on that drive is how lucky we are to have a loving God. He could have given us a world in shades of gray, but he gave us all this. He could have made only one tree or one type of plant to make oxygen, yet He excelled in variety.

Are we blessed or what?!?

Most of theses pictures were taken on that drive.

If you think about going, be sure to clean your windshield FIRST! And if there’s rain in the forecast, use Rain-X.

We found beautiful places along the drive that I never knew existed. We followed motorcycles (poor guys) that looked like tricycles with really long bars in the middle. Chopper Tricycles? I’m not sure what they were, but they were cool! (And great colors!)

But the most amazing part was the color God put on the trees. He is the ultimate artist! The colors are bright and beautiful without being garish.

I may have to blow a few of these up to frame for my walls. God, the ultimate artist!


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.


Stormy Weather

The stormy weather we’ve been having in Okieland isn’t the same as Lena’s song, but it’s disturbing just the same.

Tornados have swept away parts of Moore and we’ve had tornado warning several days in a row. No! Fun! I even went to the cellar my folks had dug when I was a kid. (I usually plan to go under my stairs in case one hits.)

I don’t remember that kind of storm before we moved to C-Town when I was little. I have a slight memory of coming out of a basement once, but barely. I remember really well when Dad had some of the guys who worked on the cable tool rig dig the C-Town cellar.  By hand!

I watched the progress closely (of course.) I’d look down into that hole and thought it was huge! When it was finally finished and concreted, I even went down and tap danced a few steps. (The echo was great!)

Almost immediately, it started leaking water (our part of Okieland has a high water table) so from then on, there about a foot of water standing there. The fact that Dad didn’t get around to putting a door on it (until years and years later) didn’t help any. LOL. We had a great time “walking the tight rope” along the edge of that opening.

Once Granddad caught some catfish and put them down in the cellar. I had visions of nests of snakes living there, and even a few nightmares that centered around it.

Finally though, Sister Debbie moved into Grandmother’s house and decided it was time to make the cellar usable. She had the open window closed up, added a vent and a sump pump. Now the cellar is clean with no critters (except a few spiders) and Deb always makes sure there are plenty of snacks and games to entertain the kiddies who go down.

969748_666217840062234_602725260_n     Pretending we’re monkeys.

The weird thing about that cellar is, I think all the water over the years caused it to shrink! I didn’t know cement could shrink like that, but it’s not nearly as big as it was back in the beginning.

Where do you go during a tornado? Bathtub? Cellar? Or are you like so many of the men I know who go out to the porch and watch?


You Know You’re From Okieland

Adapted from Wikipedia's OK county maps by Set...

Adapted from Wikipedia’s OK county maps by Seth Ilys. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Swiped this from Cheryl Brown’s Facebook page. I went to her FB page to check on her mama, who’s in the hospital. We’re praying for Janyce and we’re trusting God.

Found this and couldn’t help but share. And I had to comment, too, so I put mine in red. 😛
You might be an OKIE if:
1. You can properly pronounce Eufaula, Gotebo, Okemah, and Chickasha .
2. You think that people who complain about the wind in their states are sissies.
3. A tornado warning siren is your signal to go out in the yard and look for a funnel. I know they do that in Kansas. My Wichita BIL went out once and videoed one.
4. Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor on the highway.
5. You’ve ever had to switch from “heat” to “A/C” in the same day. Well, duh. Don’t they do that in other states?
6. You know that the true value of a parking space is not determined by the distance to the door, but by the availability of shade. You know it if you’ve ever worn shorts to drive in!
7. Stores don’t have bags, they have sacks.
8. You see people wear bib overalls at funerals. And weddings. 🙂
9. You think everyone from a bigger city has an accent. And they think we have one! G-Man, who grew up ten miles north of me, told me I had an accent when we got married. Got over it, though. 
10. You measure distance in minutes. (“I’m about 5 minutes away.”) They do that in NYC. “Just walk that direction for five minutes.”
11. You refer to the capital of Oklahoma as “The City.”
12. It doesn’t bother you to use an airport named for a man who died in an airplane crash. Your point is???
13. Little smokies are something you serve only for special occasions.
14. You go to the lake because you think it is like going to the ocean. Not sure I get this one. Can anyone help me with it?
15. You listen to the weather forecast before picking out an outfit.
16. You know cow-pies are not made of beef.
17. Someone you know has used a football schedule to plan their wedding date. LOL! Yeah, but it was funny then, too.
18. You have known someone who has had one belt buckle bigger than your fist. Doesn’t everyone?
19. A bad traffic jam involves two cars staring each other at a four- way stop, each determined to be the most polite and let the other go first. 😛
20. You know in which state “Miam-uh” is and in which state “Miam-ee” is.
21. You aren’t surprised to find movie rental, ammunition, and bait all in the same store.
22. Your “place at the lake” has wheels under it.
23. A Mercedes Benz is not a status symbol. A Ford F350 4×4 is.
24. You know everything goes better with Ranch. Well, yeah.
25. You learned how to shoot a gun before you learned how to multiply.
26. You actually get these jokes and are “fixin” to send them to your friends. Nope. Share ’em on my blog. 🙂
27. Finally, you are 100% Oklahoman if you have ever heard this conversation:
“You wanna Coke?”
“What kind?”
“Dr. Pepper.”
Actually, I’ve never heard #27. I think that’s a Texas thing. Here we ask, “Want a pop?
“What kind?”
“DIET Dr. Pepper.”


Cricket Town

Louis L'Amour

Louis L’Amour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Louis L’Amour used to be my favorite writer. For a time in my life, his books were all I read. In those books, he had a saying he used several times. It was something like, “Don’t kill that cricket. His friends will come and eat your socks.”

Guess what? Someone must have killed a cricket in C-Town.

Yesterday, I went with one of my nieces to watch her little sister play softball. (I’m so glad we have school sports for girls these days!)

On the way to the softball field, my niece told me they were having a problem with crickets at school.

And, she said, if anyone started to kill one of the little bugs, her best friend would rescue it and shoo it out of the school.

So I quoted Louis. “She must know if you kill a cricket, his friends will come and eat your socks.”

“But I don’t wear socks, Aunt Susan.”

The girl reminds me of her mama. A lot. LOL. She went on to tell me how many crickets they’re seeing at school. Took me back to when C-Town had a real cricket infestation.

I don’t know why we had so many of the critters living and loving in our town, but they were here by the billions.

Mom owned the dress shop back then, and I worked there. It was in this building, in the front of the main floor. When I’d get to work every morning, the long wall you see would be black with crickets. The sidewalks were covered with crickets. The streets were covered with . . . well, you get the point.

And when I unlocked the door and walked into the shop each morning, I heard the unmistakable crunch of bugs smashing under foot, because the carpet was covered with crickets. Dead crickets, mostly, since we had a bug control guy spray the store each month. The first thing I did was grab the vacuum and sweep up all the little black carcasses.

Even little dead crickets start to smell after a few days, so we kept emptying the sweeper bag every day or two to keep the odor down. One morning, I noticed that dead cricket smell. Gag! I emptied the vacuum bag and took the bag outside along with the trash. The odor was still there.

I hoped I was the only one who could smell it. None of my customers mentioned it, but when my help came in that afternoon, she didn’t hesitate. “It stinks in here. We need to change that sweeper bag.”

“I did change it, and it’s outside. I don’t know what that is.”

The hunt was on. We checked under racks, behind the jewelry counter, under the check out stand and in the office. Nothing. Then she had a spark of genius.

The building we were in was an old bank building. The entryway had two doors to pass through, which was supposed to keep the wind from blowing directly into the main room. (I guess that was so the bank’s stacks of money wouldn’t blow all over before they got it in the vault.)

When the building was built, they made a little indention in the floor in that entry with a scrape-the-mud-off-your-feet-here grate in it. Beneath that grate was a graveyard of dead crickets, sending their perfume into the shop. We got them out of there, fast! Thank goodness, the crickets moved on not too much later.

And now, some of them are back and hunting down my nieces so they can eat their socks. 😉

And the ball game? I didn’t stay for the whole thing, but when I left it was 5-0. We won.

Looks just like me, doesn’t she?


Scorpion Stories

Scorpion anatomy: 1 = Prosoma; 2 = Mesosoma ; ...

Scorpion anatomy: 1 = Prosoma; 2 = Mesosoma ; 3 = Metasoma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 I think Oklahoma is the best place in the world to live. I really do! It’s a wonderful state, full of friendly and very (!) interesting people.

We have mountains, prairies, rolling hills, deserts, colorful rivers, sparkling cities, and fantastic Small Town Worlds, not to mention a colorful history as well as a brilliant future!

I ♥ Oklahoma!

But . . . there are one or two things about Okie-Land that’s less than perfect. They’re the kind of things (wild fires, searing summertime heat, tornados) that makes some people want to ask God, “What were you thinking?”

One of the things I wish He’d left out of Okie Land is the scorpion. Just whisper the word. Sssssscorpionsssss. Almost makes you hiss, doesn’t it? *shiver*

Sadly, Okie Land has its share of the nasties, but they’re found all over the world except for the Antarctic. (Can you imagine scorpions in Paris? Sounds like a scary movie, doesn’t it?)

My first meet up with a scorp, I was at Grandma Reeves house on the outskirts of C-Town. She  had a big, screened-in front porch.

Now I’d been warned about scorpions, because my cousin, Liz, had already been stung by one. (As I remember the story, it was in Liz’s shoe. Dad remembers it being where she sat down. Both would be painful, but one is a tad more memorable.) Anyway, Mom warned us about them and even talked about what they looked like.

“They’re tan or brown, up to an inch or two long and have a stinger that curls over their backs. If you see one, get away from it and tell an adult!”

So I knew (kind of) what the critter looked like. I remembered that they hurt. A lot. One late afternoon, I was with Grandma on the porch when I noticed something on the screen. It kind of looked like the stinging bug Mama told us about, but it was different.

This one wasn’t brown or tan, it was a greenish color. And the stingy tail didn’t curl up over its back, it curled to one side. And it had a small piece of grass in its mouth–or maybe there was a grass blade stuck in the screen and the scorp had stopped to chew on it.

I wasn’t sure what that thing was, so I thought I’d test it. Smart girl that I was, I touched its tail to see if it would sting me. Because of the way he was situated, I could only touch the curve, not the stingy tip, so the scorp just took a couple of steps. He didn’t hurt me.

Puzzled, I decided to ask. “Grandma? What’s that’s this thing?”

Grandma lowered her paper. When she saw the scorpion, she yelped, jumped out of her chair and beat it so hard with her paper, it went right through the screen. (Strained scorpion. Yum.)

I never saw Grandma move that fast again.

My next experience with a scorpion was many years later when I was pregnant with my first son. We lived out in the country in an old house. G-Man was at work that night and, because the only air conditioner in the house was a window unit in the kitchen, I was sleeping as close to it as I could get–in the living room.

I was watching TV when I glanced up and saw the scorpion. He was on the wall near a pair of layered glass pictures I’d painted in Janyce Brown’s tole painting class. I was home alone, and it was late at night so I couldn’t call anyone to find out how to kill him.

Okay, when I noticed the Okie Scorp, in my mind I saw an Asian Scorp. (Hey, I was pregnant. I get to blame my hormones for all weird thinking.) To me, that was a tough, hard to kill insect with poisonous venom. I couldn’t let it sting me and harm my baby!

I panicked. How do I kill a scorpion? Fly swatter? Not strong enough. A newspaper? Not hard enough, not thick enough. It might run on top of the newspaper or sting me right through it. What’s big, thick and heavy enough to kill a monster bug?

An encyclopedia!

I edged past the devil’s pet, grabbed the thickest book in the ABC line up, and went back to the living room. I balanced that heavy book in my hand and, taking a deep breath, SLAMMED it against the bug on the wall.

Both layered glass pictures hit the floor. I don’t know how long held the encyclopedia against the wall, but it was a long time.

Would he be dead or was he waiting for me to lift the book so he could leap on me? I could just see my husband coming home to find me stung to death or lying on the floor in a scorpion induced coma.

Finally, I screwed up my courage enough to lift the encyclopedia. (But I was prepared to slam it back against the wall if I needed to.) At first I didn’t see him, and my heart jolted. Had I missed? Had he scurried away to hide until he had a better chance to attack me?

I put down the book and picked up one of the fallen pictures. As I slid the wire back onto the hanger, I found Mr. Scorpion.

Imbedded in the wall, he looked like a gun slinger had the draw on him. (Hands up!)

For the rest of the time we lived in that hot little house, I never quite got that bug cleaned out of the wall.

BTW: I know why God had to give O-World a few things that we don’t really like (wild fires, searing summer heat and tornados.) It’s so we’d have a reason to want to go to Heaven. If we didn’t have a few yucky things, we’d already be There. 🙂

Have you ever met a scorpion?