Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stopped Snowing

Yes, it finally stopped snowing. And, sneeting. Yes, sneeting is a word and you can ask Gary England if you don't believe me. Looking out my window, I see about two inches of snow. It was more in some areas and less in others.

I watched the radar as this snow storm moved northeast. The ticker on the weather channel said "Snow storm stretches from Oklahoma to Maine." Maine?  Oklahoma and Maine are not normally used in the same sentence when it comes to weather. That was a first for me. Thankfully, this storm is dumping more snow in Maine. Sorry, Maine, but I like clear roads.

I woke up last night to the sound of thunder and sneet hitting the roof. As much as I don't like "winter precipitation,"  it is much better than the tornado sirens going off. As with all Okie weather, you never know what tomorrow holds. It could be tornadoes; stranger things have happened.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Lights: Downtown Oklahoma City All A-Glow

You can't keep every GPS device ever created. There is nothing as wonderful as getting lost in a construction zone in downtown Oklahoma City. No, I haven't lost my mind. A few days ago, we were zigzagging down one way streets downtown amidst all sorts of construction and saw the most beautiful sites. If we had GPS, we would have missed it all. What were those beautiful sites? I'd be more than happy to explain...

Downtown Oklahoma City was caught up in the Christmas spirit! Lights were twinkling and sparkling everywhere. The trees in The Myriad Botanical Gardens were covered in lights of all colors. Entire sides of buildings were draped in Christmas lights. Despite the craziness of the construction, we continued to drive around the area - caught up in the warmth of the holiday season.

Exactly where these lights were located, I can't tell you. It was quite late at night and seeing the exact street signs wasn't a priority. I can, however, give you directions. Heading east on Reno Avenue, take the first left after The Myriad Botanical Gardens. Then take the first left that is just north of the Gardens. Continue zigzagging through the construction and one way streets and you will see more than your share of gorgeous Christmas lights.

Siobhann, our four year old daughter squealed and clapped her hands in delight at all the lights. She even thanked Santa for hanging all those lights in her letter to him. Unfortunately, due to traffic, I wasn't able to take any photos. I plan to go back one evening, very soon, and capture those lights on film. It will be well worth the trip from Stillwater. Especially with Siobhann with me!

It is a glorious way to get into the Christmas spirit. We sang Christmas carols all the way home. Yes, an hour of Christmas carols at the top of our lungs. No radio to help us with the words. The only conversation between my husband, daughter and myself was which carol to sing next.

Long story short, wherever you live in Oklahoma, it is well worth the drive to Oklahoma City to see these lights. I'm not sure, but I think there is a good chance that as Christmas gets closer even more lights will be added. Load up as many people as you can, turn off your GPS devices and bring your cameras; enjoy downtown Oklahoma City all a-glow!

Happy Oklahoma travels,

Emma Riley Sutton

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Good Okie Wine

I'm a baseball connoisseur, not a wine connoisseur. I know what I like and I know what I don't like. That's all that matters to me. I have varied tastes. I love the fruity ones and the spicy ones. A rich dry wine is perfect for me as is sharply sweet wine. Thankfully, I found a rather interesting wine made right here in Oklahoma. After one glass, it became one of my favorite wines of all times. I'm talking about the jalapeno raisin wine from the Plain View Winery in Lahoma.

If you are looking for fancy "wine words," you won't find them here. I've never written a wine review. In fact, I don't think I've ever seriously read a wine review. I simply drink wine occasionally and I finally found one that is worth writing about.

This jalapeno raisin wine is unlike any wine I've ever tasted before. It isn't spicy and it doesn't have the "jalapeno heat" I was expecting. It is warm though. The aftertaste has a bit of the jalapeno heat I was expecting, but it is very subtle. It isn't something you would notice unless you were really paying attention to it. I suppose the sweetness of the raisin balances the heat and the fruitiness. It reminds me of a smooth bourbon, but with the texture of a wine.

What should you drink it with? I don't have a clue. I drank my with a combination pizza from Mazzio's. I tend to drink wine I like with food I like. Yes, I mix red wine with fish and white wine with steak. Hey, I'm the one drinking the wine and eating the food. Why shouldn't I eat and drink what I like?

I've made that about as clear as mud, haven't I? Let me make it a little bit clearer. It is a good wine and you should try it. Be careful, though. Never drink and drive or operate machine. Sorry, you've probably heard that before. And, if you aren't old enough to drink, don't do it. For the record, my mom hat never comes off. You should know that this wine has quite a kick. One glass and I was done. I had a second because I was at home and it tasted so good! So...

If you're ever in Lahoma, stop in the Plain View Winery and pick up a bottle or two. Stop into your local liquor store and see if they carry it. A little FYI - the Browns Bottle Shop in Stillwater is where I bought it. They even offered a 10% discount off all Oklahoma wines. I now know where I'm shopping for all my Okie wines.

Happy Oklahoma traveling,

Emma Riley Sutton

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Marriage Okie-Style

"My husband wore a lot of pink underwear and ate a lot of beans that rattled," Nina told me after church one afternoon. "I got married when I was 14 and he has put up with a lot." She proceeded to tell me her entire story.

As a wife and mom, her story fascinates me as much as it did when she first told me. I was barely sixteen and thought I was in love. Filled with humor and grit, I learned a lot about the woman who sat in the fourth row from the front of our church. Nina was a woman everyone should meet.

Married at 14 and a mom at 17, Nina's life wasn't as easy for her and Ben. He was 18 when they married. He worked in the oil fields in southern Oklahoma and was gone for weeks at a time. Nina finished high school and became a housewife in the time she wasn't in school or doing her homework. She missed Ben, but knew this was their lot in life.

"I threw potatoes at him when he'd complain about my cooking," she laughed. "I moved from Momma's kitchen into my own and didn't have a clue about cooking. It takes more than three minutes to cook a three minute egg."

I had to laugh at that. She was one of the best cooks our church had. People paid top dollar for her pies and cakes at the bake sales we had. Her taco casserole and her potato salad were always the first to disappear whenever we had our monthly potlucks the last Sunday of the month.

"I'm surprised my first kids lived," she announced. "Do you know once colic starts, it doesn't go away until the start school?"

I knew all five of Nina and Ben's kids. All were active in our church. I even went to school with her youngest daughter. She and I are still close. All five of them graduated from high school, three of them with honors. Those same three went on to college, each earned both Bachelor's and Master's degrees.

Nina and Ben pinched their pennies and bought a house of their own. She described it as a three bedroom dump. She was thankful that it was well off the road and back in the hills, convinced the county would have condemned it if they had known anyone lived there. Especially a 17 year old mom with a husband that spent more time on an oil rig than at home.

"The living room floor caved in one day," she told me. "Ben was away and Dana was crawling not too far from where it fell in. I didn't know what to do. We didn't have a phone so I took boards off the porch and patched it the best I could. I couldn't tell my Daddy. He's shot me and Ben for sure for buying such a house."

Once again, they scrounged and saved. They turned it into a seven bedroom, five bathroom farmhouse with the biggest kitchen I've ever seen. I was a bride's maid in that house twice. Several people had in our community held their weddings there.

"Ben and I fought all the time the first five years. I'd threaten to go home to Momma and he'd toss me the car keys." She shook her head. "He put up with a lot of teen-age junk. I was married and didn't have a date to the prom; Ben was working that week-end. That can still get ugly if he misses the clothes hamper."

They had been married about 30 years by that time. Together, Nina and Ben teach the young married Sunday school class. If anyone knew how to stay married, those two do. I told her that not too longer as we talked about our lives as married women and mothers.

"I don't know how to make a marriage work," she said, cutting me off quickly. "We mostly tell them what not to do. I tell them to get in the Bible and stay there. And, laugh at each other. Not with each other, but at each other. Marriage is funny and anyone crazy enough to do it needs to be laughed at."

Pink underwear and beans that rattle. I guess that is what makes a marriage work. The Bible and laughter helps as well. That crazy woman Nina. Threatening to go home to Momma and complaining about a dateless prom from many, many years ago. I don't know how folks do marriage other places, but that is marriage Okie-style. Maybe my husband and I could improve our marriage if I threw potatoes.

Happy Oklahoma traveling,

Emma Riley Sutton

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paranormal Activity

Seeing today is Halloween, my thoughts turn to the paranormal. It is, after all, the day when all the ghosts, goblins and spirits are suppose to be the most active. I don't know how much of that I actually believe. I do know that I can't help but to think about my visit to the Pawnee Ranch and Museum. Truth be told, I can't get it out of my mind. That was first time I had ever known I had been, without any doubt, involved in some sort of paranormal activity.

Until that day in Pawnee, I had never believed in ghosts or spirits wandering the earth. My faith tells that when people die, they immediately go one place or another. Granny taught me that. I was raised on it. What happened to me didn't shatter my faith in God or Heaven or Hell. It made me consider other options that might explain the paranormal activity I had witnessed.

If anything, my Pawnee paranormal activity strengthened my faith. I believe in angels and demons. They walk every step with us. They are assigned to each of us. Angels are there to lead us, guide us and to protect us. Demons are there to get us into as much trouble as they can, to throw stumbling blocks at us to get us off our perfect path. I have dealt with both angels and demons in the past. I understand them and their purpose. There is no mystery, if that is what caused the paranormal activity at the Pawnee Ranch and Museum.

Do angels and demons linger after we are gone? Do they stick around, waiting for their next assignment? If the answer is yes, that almost explains the paranormal activity I was witness to. I don't have to ponder energy and ghosts. I can simply tell myself that those assigned to help us and hinder us are waiting for their next job.

There are a few problems I have with angels and demons being the cause of the paranormal activity. In the past when I've experienced the presence of angels and demons, I had a sense of good or evil - depending on what was with me at the time. I felt neither one when I was in Pawnee. It was neither comforting or scary. Another problem is why would angels care if I took photos? I wasn't going to use the photos for something that was wrong. Based on that, my theory of angels or demons causing the paranormal activity is blown out of the water. It would be impossible.

I really want answers as to what caused the paranormal activity at the Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum. I'll keep trying to figure it out. Maybe I'll find some sort of answer somewhere, someday. Until then, I will have to accept that paranormal activity can't always be explained.

Happy Oklahoma traveling,

Emma Riley Sutton

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oklahoma State of Mind

I recently received a sweet "tweet" from one of my Twitter friends about this blog. The Twitterer tweeted, "It put me in an Oklahoma state of mind." I'm not sure what others consider an Oklahoma state of mind, but I know what it means to me...

I go back in time to gardening with my Granny. We'd poke holes in the red dirt and drop little seeds into it. We'd pull crab grass from around that little patch of Heaven and watch all the vegetables grow. We grew the best tomatoes, green beans and sage ever. I can't find anything that compares to those veggies.

I see myself sitting on my Granddad's lap, driving around the farm on his riding lawn mower. It was a red and there was barely enough room for him, but he always made space for me. I learned to drive on the red lawn mower. We'd drive around for hours, waiting for Granny to call us in for supper.

An Oklahoma state of mind is huddled in the cellar listening to the wind blow and praying we'd still see the house and barns once we heard Gary England say it was safe to come out. I can see the coal oil lamps flicker against the whitewash on the walls. I can hear my Granny read from the Bible about how Jesus calmed the seas and how His eye is sparrow. "God didn't give me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind," my Granny would quote. "I'm not afraid of the storm. I have a sound mind and that is why we are in the cellar."

I can't leave out driving to Rush Springs to "pick a good'en." Yes, watermelon is one of my weaknesses. We'd get the best one we could find and drive to a park in Duncan. There we would eat our watermelon and watch the birds in the trees and the squirrels dart around gathering food for the winter. Even the ants couldn't ruin our day. My grandparents had a plan; they would leave a piece of watermelon for the ants a few feet away and those ants wouldn't bother us.

For all of my breaks in college, I'd fly home. I'd watch the travelers at Will Rogers World Airport come and go with all their luggage. I'd make up stories for them, pretending I knew why they were their and what their plans were. That was a great way for me to create characters for all the writing I did. Hugs and kisses with tears of joy and sadness were seen all over the airport.

There is also piling up in the back of a pick-up and driving to the high school football games on Friday nights. "We're big B-I-G and we're bad B-A-D and we're boss B-O-S-S, B-O-S-S, boss!" we'd chant as we pulled into the town of the losing team. I was blessed to attend a school that won state championships year after year.

I remember sitting in the shade of a blackjack tree and watching the clouds. I could see all sorts of shapes and the wind moved the clouds about. Sometimes I'd be in my tree swing, wishing I could swing high enough to jump in the back of the fluffy white turtle cloud. The sun would set and all the colors would swirl around. I'd jump out of the swing into a pile of leaves and run inside to wash up for supper - Granny's soup with homemade biscuits or a big pot of beans. Unless she fixed a "real supper" which is a lot like the holiday meals I cook today. I wish I could make fried chicken, meatloaf and pork chops with all sorts of vegetables and desserts for one meal. My modern life doesn't afford me that luxury.

Oh, the fried pies. I still don't know how Granny made them. She'd go out and pick peaches, apricots and apples and, the next thing I knew, we had fried pies. She made jams and jellies from all the fruit as well. I opened the last jar of her apricot preserves a few years ago. My daughter loved it. It was my favorite as well. There was never a recipe written down so I wont' be able to even try to reproduce her masterpiece. She never used recipes. She could just look at whatever she was cooking or baking and now what and how much to add.

I can't leave out my great-uncle's tent revivals he would have in my grandparent's backyard. We'd place long boards on cement blocks for pews. "Heaven's high and Hell's hot, I'm gonna preach," my uncle would say. He was a fiery Pentecostal preacher that walked the talk he talked. Folks would drive for miles to hear him preach. You'd have to get there early to find a seat. I remember the family picnics before those revivals. It seemed the Riley clan came out of the woodwork to hear him preach. He traveled around the country and seeing him was a real treat; he only made it home once or twice a year, if that. He preached well into his nineties.

An Oklahoma state of mind is driving to downtown Oklahoma City and going to the National Oklahoma City Memorial. I remember bringing supplies to those who were helping rescue people. I saw the paws of dogs bleeding as they searched for survivors of the bombing. People huddled in small groups. Some sang hymns and others just stood silently, waiting for the impact to finally hit them. Folks came from all over to help us. And, we helped ourselves. We banded together and did what we could - still reeling from the shock of the situation.

The smell of a cotton field puts me in an Oklahoma state of mind. I don't see many of them anymore, but I remember them. I also remember the stories about picking cotton my family told me. How the dust bowls hit and some of the men set out to California to be "prune pickers." They worked hard and sent back the money they earned to keep their families and farms going during those dark days. Those stories give me hope. No matter how tough the times are now, I know we will make it through. If they could make, we can as well.

A woman in our community was diagnosed with cancer. Her husband, an oilfield worker, had been laid off and the temporary job he was working didn't offer health insurance. We had countless bean suppers, garage sales and the like to raise money for her treatment. We put together an old-fashion "singing." The Riley boys, my cousins, brought in their guitars, fiddles and other instruments to play and sing. There were lots of other talented folks showed up to "pick and sing" for this lady and her medical needs.

Yes, these are all things that put me in an Oklahoma state of mind. Little pieces of my past that lets me know I'm an Okie. Lets me know I'm proud to be an Okie. I often wonder if other people feel as strongly about their home as I do. Do folks in other states have such stories to tell? Do they understand their rich heritage and use it to make a better tomorrow for themselves and their families? I'm a bit partial so it is hard for me to believe that they have such a history, a history that can put them in to such a wonderful state of mind.

I'm ending it here. I could keep going, but I can't see the computer screen or keyboard through my tears. They are happy ones, though. I have really put myself in an Oklahoma state of mind.

Happy Oklahoma traveling,

Emma Riley Sutton

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sad, Sad Saturday

It isn't just a football game to me. I am in way to deep with the whole rivalry between OU and "that team" from the wrong side of the Red River. I have been for years. I remember...

Packing up and heading out with my parents down I-35 to watch the game as a child. That was back in the day. Back when Barry Switzer was the coach and the wishbone reigned supreme. We'd leave on Friday morning and make a week-end of it. Those days are gone, long gone.

I miss the ground game. The whole passing game is so boring. I want to see the action of ducking and dodging and running around. Watching the ball fly through the air isn't the same thing to me. Not that I am such a big football fan. I just love my Sooners.

I never got into football, except for my Sooners. I'm a "Crimson and Cream" gal. I love to watch them play. I always have. There is something about my team. I don't understand the game. In fact, it was just a few weeks ago I learned what "holding" was. I'm such a girl; they all seemed to "holding each other."

I think I regret not graduating from the University of Oklahoma. It was my dream to go there. I got a sweet deal from Smith my junior year in high school and that is where I ended up. Not exactly the college life most people dream of. No football Saturdays. No giant campus to get lost in, both literally and figuratively. I opted for the quiet campus without boys far from home and beloved Sooners. is amamazing what a great scholarship will entice one to do.

I did manage to pick up a few extra hours at OU after I graduated. It wasn't the same, but I was Sooner for 15 hours. I was a little too old for the "college life" by then, but I did have an active imagination. I lived that life in my mind as I sat in the OU library, watching the "youngsters" doing whatever they were doing.

Saturday wasn't the greatest day for me. The loss hit home, but not as close as the memories I have as well as the ones I don't have that I want. I thought about Barry Switzer on thfield, , leading the Sooners to anher vicictory. I thought about the homecomings I missed. I remembered sitting in the stands, screaming at the top of my lungs. I thought about that little garage apartment I lived in during college, in a state that didn't broadcast OU games. I dreamed of living in a crowded dorm with a bunch of girls.

There is next year. I may make that drive down I-35. I'll have to get to some more home games. Of course, I could always go back to get my Master's degree. Yeah right. I am done with school. Then again, my daughter will be looking for a college in about a dozen years or so.

Happy Oklahoma traveling,

Emma Riley Sutton