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Pick of the Summer | Life Through a Lens

The art of

July 10

Vol. 7 Number 5


Announcing Our Newest Physician

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contents july 2010


Advertising Sales



Michael Keith Brad Carter Michael Keith Dejah Quinn


Scott Bartley Melanie Phillips Clemons Denise Quinalty Bob Searl Mindy Wood


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17 features

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departments 9 Scott’s Space

6 Pick of the Summer

10 Best of Shawnee

13 Life through a lens

20 Sonic Contest

17 the art of reborning

30 Reflections

21 You don’t say

Volume 7, Number 5 Shawnee Outlook is a publication of Layers Media, Inc. Š 2010 Layers Media, Inc.

22 beat the heat

Articles and advertisements in Shawnee Outlook do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or Layers Media. Layers Media does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by Shawnee Outlook does not constitute endorsement of the products, services or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service that is fraudulent or misleading in nature. Shawnee Outlook assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials.

25 it’s a smokin’ thang 26 Sounds of the Soul and Scenes from the Mind 25 a delicious history




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Pick of the Summer The Nowakowski Corn Farm by: Melanie Phillips Clemens


hile summer often invokes thoughts of lake outings, barbeques or fireworks, those aren’t the only things that people in the Shawnee area look forward to every summer. Fresh sweet corn from Nowakowski Farms has been a 4th of July highlight for the past 33 years. Robert Nowakowski, owner, shares the history of how Nowakowski Farms evolved. “Our seed representative gave us three pounds of corn. We planted six rows at a hundred yards each but it was too much for us. Our kids asked if they could set up a stand and sell it, kind of like lemonade. The next day they sold it all.” The next year, they planted six rows at a ¼ mile long and sold it all. Robert decided, “We need to look at this a little better.” Nowakowski Farms currently grows 20 acres of sweet corn which can yield up to 1500 bushels of corn each summer. No one in the Nowakowski family is exempt from doing their share of work. “At 6 years old my sons and eventually my granddaughters would drive the tractor while the rest of us would pick corn. Even my 4yr old grandson will sweep up from the sorting. We all work together.” His wife, Geneale, who always worked at his side is now retired. This success influenced Robert’s brothers to start their own sweet corn operation in Harrah twenty five years ago. If this is beginning to sound like a family tradition, it’s actually much more than that. It involves a family and a com-


munity. Not only did the four young Nowakowski kids pick corn when school let out every summer, they brought their friends along with them. “This helped kids in the community get a job that wouldn’t otherwise have one.” The picking season is only ten days long, from the last week of June to the 4th of July but its hard work. “ Corn is kind of abrasive, it will cut you. You need long sleeves, long pants and gloves. The first day, I’d have 12 kids. By the third day, I’d have 2,” Robert laughed. “We encouraged kids to wait until the end to get their pay. They’d get a bonus and it’d keep them coming back.” Robert had the opportunity to “school” many youngsters over the years in being a farmhand and enjoys doing so. “These kids have learned the value of working to get something. It makes them appreciate it more instead of it just being handed to them. I’ve had teenagers come back and thank me.” Some of these kids are the offspring of those who worked twenty years ago. Robert commented, “Their parents didn’t quit because they were tired, they learned perseverance. Pride from getting up at 6 am on their own. Hard work, they want their kids to learn that.” Until last year, all the corn at Nowakowski Farms was handpicked. Investing in a sweet corn puller has changed that. “I’d rather do community service and have boys do it but the machine doesn’t get hot and tired. If I run out, I can run the picker in the middle of the afternoon. I can’t do that with the kids.” Robert said. However, that

has not eliminated the “hired” hands. The corn has to be sorted, bagged and the shank, also known as a piece of the stalk, removed. While this may sound like too much hard work for some, others look forward to it. “I have neighbor ladies who come to help. Even a little brother or sister shows up to see what they can do. They may only be able to carry a ½ a bushel but they are proud and excited to participate.” Occasionally, it still has to be handpicked, depending on weather conditions. Oklahoma hard rain lays the corn over and the machine can’t pull it. About 2 weeks before harvest time, Robert already receives calls from those anxiously waiting to get their share. “We have people come from all over the state, some as far as Enid and Ardmore. People will get here at 6 am. and stand in line for 3 hours to get corn. It’s kind of like waiting in line to get a concert ticket although we haven’t had anyone camp out yet,” Robert laughed. Due to the demand, sometimes they put a limit on how much corn a person can get. “We want to take care of everyone in line. No one wants to walk away empty handed and we don’t want them to.” Robert said. They rarely have any corn left over at the end of the day. However, Robert described the family policy as “we pick it today, we sell it today or we throw it away.” Check out the fresh sweet corn this year at the Nowakowski Farms. It’s a delicious summertime treat that’s well worth it. Nowakowski Farms is located 4 miles North of I-40 and 3 miles West of I-77 on Hazel Dell Road.



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nice guys finish last by: Scott Bartley

I hate to be redundant, but I do not dig the summer time. Why? It’s so doggone hot! I hate the heat! Is anyone with me?? Oh well. I’m not here to cry and complain this month. Actually, June was a really good month. We finished our run of “The Producers” at Shawnee Little Theater. Did you see it? It was a barrel full of fun, is what it was. I had a great time. I got to play a role of a lifetime, and I got to do it with people I like and have fun with. Also- the Los Angeles Lakers won their second consecutive World Championship!!! I know it’s not very popular to be a Lakers fan around here, especially with the arrival of the Thunder. In fact, I come across a lot of Laker haters. But what can I say? I’ve been a fan since I was a kid, and I’m not gonna stop now. So just put the Hater-Aid down, and let me revel in my moment. Thank you very much. On to the topic du jour. Lately I’ve been thinking often about what it means to be nice. What is nice? Let’s take a look see. When I type in “nice” in, several definitions pop up. Here are some of the words that are used to define it: pleasing, agreeable, delightful, amiably pleasant, kind, virtuous. OK- that gives me a good idea of what nice is. When I use Wikipedia and type in “nice guy”, here’s what I get: A typical “nice guy” is a man who is likely to put the needs of others before his own, avoid instigating confrontations, do favors, give emotional support, and generally act in a way consistent with the general meaning of “nice”. All of this sounds pretty good, right? So why does “nice” get a bad rap? We’ve all heard the phrase “Nice guys finish last”. And the always unique Alice Cooper even sings “No More Mr. Nice Guy”. The nice guy never seems to get ahead. The nice guy is the one who always ends up being the hot girl’s best friend. If being nice is so desirable,

why can’t a nice guy get a break? This even carries over into athletics. It seems to me that no matter how talented, the nice guy (or girl) will seldom be a champion. Because to be the ultimate winner, you have to have a killer instinct, you have to have the eye of the tiger. (Go ahead, sing it- I am) I’ve always felt that to be a winner, you have to be kind of a jerk when you are competing. I’m not talking about cheating, or even sportsmanship. But the truly great athletes will often have a reputation of being cold- blooded in the heat of the moment. Because that’s what it takes to win. I don’t see how you can be nice, and want to kill your competition at the same time. Please feel free to prove me wrong. I know there have been some great athletes who are good people, and who do good things off of the field. But on the field of play? They’ll rip your head off, Jim. Why all the pontification about being nice? Well, as I get older, I think more about my legacy. What will I leave behind when I move on from this realm? How will people remember me? I’m afraid it’s not how I will want to be remembered. When you get down to it, I want to be a nice guy. I do. So I’m trying really hard to be a nicer person. Now those of you who have known me for an extended period of time are probably guffawing right now. “Bartley? Nice?? Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!!” I will be the first to admit that in the past I have been less than kind. In fact, there have been moments when I was downright mean. And why? Probably just to get a laugh at someone’s expense. One of the things that drives me is my unfortunate need to entertain people, and to make them laugh. I do love to hear someone chortle at something I have said or done. But my sense of humor is some-

what acerbic and dark, and I find much laughter in pointing out others’ quirks. Case in point- my good friend Shawn McEvoy. Shawn and I have been friends for almost 20 years. But I’m not sure why. When Shawn and I were college roommates, I made fun of him mercilessly. I mean it- I made fun of him daily. I created more nicknames for Shawn than I have for anyone else- some of which I could not print here. In fact, one of his girlfriends during this time referred to me as “the devil” because of the way I treated him. True story. I really don’t know why Shawn didn’t beat me up on a daily basis- I’m pretty sure he could. And it wasn’t because I didn’t like Shawn- I really liked him. And now I love him. But I had a strange way of expressing it. And I think in past years, I have expressed regret to him for being such a Jerky Boy. And he’s not the only one. I’m probably not going to look all of you up, but if I was mean to you? I’m sorry. My students also picked up on this. They knew that I could be a big meany, and in fact, I think they grew to like it. I tried to be nicer to my class one day, and one of students asked “What’s wrong? Why are acting so weird?” When I told them why, they just laughed and said they liked the mean-me better. So friends- I pledge to you to be a nicer guy. Really. Recently, I gathered with Shawn and some other friends of ours who in the past, I did not get along with so well. Shawn noticed my different demeanor, as I refused to belittle some of the guys around me. I just told him- It’s the kinder, gentler Scott. Life is too short for us to not treat each other with kindness and respect. Because we have no guarantees that we’ll get a chance to apologize or make amends later. I am going to try to be the Kinder, Gentler Scott- even if it means finishing last.


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A New Brew in Town sips downtown kafĂŠ by: Mindy Wood

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Downtown Shawnee is soon to be home to something truly unique for coffee lovers. Merging the history of one of Shawnee’s oldest buildings with a 21st century renovation, owners Brad Carter and Michael Keith will open sips downtown kafĂŠ early August. Both men are excited about a location they hope will encourage a community revival as people gather for food and fun in a warm, charming atmosphere. The cafĂŠ will serve coffee, lunch, feature local art, music and live entertainment. Whether your taste is traditional or exotic, sips will inspire you to explore something new or fall in love again with your favorite beverage. In addition to traditional drip brew, sips will debut other brewing methods like Pour-over, French Press and Cold Brew. “We’re prepared to offer people basically anything they want,â€? said Carter. “We’ve experimented with different methods and equipment so our customers have the option to try new things and be a little more experimental.â€? Keith agreed. “We will offer many different types of coffee from the ‘fruitier’ coffee to the dark, bold, ‘robust’ coffee. With the freshness of our coffee and the use of some brewing methods you would be hard pressed to find in Shawnee, people will be able to experience coffee in Shawnee like never before.â€? With the utmost respect for the art of coffee selection, they chose a nearby roastery to ensure the highest quality beans for the freshest coffee available. “Upon visiting the roastery we will be using, we were able to witness the very intense process that goes into selecting the best beans

from all regions of the world. Our coffee will be freshly roasted within the week that we serve it, in most cases the next day,â€? said Keith. Sips will serve frozen smoothies, an array of teas and will offer a simple but varied lunch menu of Panini’s, cold and toasted sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups and pastries. Local art, music, poetry and more are on the menu for live events and entertainment. Keith and Carter want to keep the focus local in every way, including the menu. “We’re using local vendors as much as possible for our bread, meat and veggies,â€? said Carter. “We want to be responsible about where our food comes from and support our local economy.â€? They were also responsible about sustainability, using as much of the building’s lumber and other materials after demolition as possible. They even salvaged old love letters, morphine bottles, toys and cans of tobacco. The renovation provoked excitement in the community and on their Facebook page titled, Project 114, which chronicled the process. “We’re creating a place where people come in and feel like it’s their coffee shop. They’re excited about something new going on,â€? said Carter. “It seems to get people’s imagination charged and really caring about downtown. I hope this renovation will inspire others open businesses downtown and even consider the possibility of living down here.â€? Grand opening is scheduled for early August, watch for their ad in the Shawnee Outlook for a date. For more information about sips downtown kafĂŠ visit

Call me today about our full line-up. (Auto. Home. Life. Retirement.) Stephanie Sales (405) 275-5520 4331 N. Kickapoo Shawnee

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Life Through a Lens B o b a n d C l e ta Fa r r

George Washing

ton Lighthouse

by: Mindy Wood

Bob and Cleta Farr have been married more than fifty years, raised children and worked hard all their lives but one special thing they always shared is a love of travel and capturing the world with photography. Over the years, state by state and job by job, the Farrs have captured more than ten thousand images all over America and Canada. “I do all the writing and driving and Bob takes the pictures,” smiled Cleta. “His orders are mostly, ‘turn around.’” Their passion for photography and travel led them in nearly every state in the nation. Bob’s enormous library includes Tucson sunsets and towering desert cactus, scenes of the Grand Canyon, stately bridges, incredible waterfalls and exotic flowers, colorful roads in the fall, Utah’s rock formations, fishing villages on the east coast, forgotten houses, lighthouses, playful children, working parents, and dozens of monuments and memorials. Bob’s zeal for photography started when he was a child with a Popular Science ad that offered a film developing kit. “I sent them their dollar and nickel and I got a package with a couple of chemicals and a couple sheets of photo paper. I took a negative and developed it. It wasn’t very good but you could make out that it was a picture. I grew up on a farm and my dad was older when I was born so we didn’t have much money. When I was about 14 I saved up enough for

a camera,” he laughed, “but I didn’t have the money to buy the film or develop it.” He would soon get his chance a few years later when he joined the Army and married Cleta in 1954. He purchased a top quality camera in 1955 while stationed in Germany where he started taking pictures and giving them to townspeople. “We would go around the town and take pictures of the kids and their families,” said Cleta. “They really appreciated it because they couldn’t afford to have pictures made. It didn’t cost us much.” When they returned to the U.S., Bob honed his craft, learning how to get the best lighting and angle. “My daughter was looking for me one time. She’d got up and I wasn’t in the house so she went down the road but I was in the backyard on my stomach. She came running over to me saying, ‘what’s wrong, what’s wrong!’ I said, ‘nothing, I’m just waiting for the wind to stop blowing.’ I was trying to take a picture of an iris.” In the sixties technology was more primitive than today but Bob managed to get a Cannon Elena, a camera ahead of its time. He became a commercial electrician and often too busy to squeeze in shutter time as he worked from before dawn to after dusk. Cleta was busy managing five children but as they got time the two would work together to enjoy their passion for travel and photography. Their big break

iew Cemetery

Bradford Pears at Fairv


“Where the Red Fern Grows” filming location in Oklahoma


continued from pg. 13

came after Bob retired and Cleta got a nursing degree and took a job as a travel nurse in 1997. It was their ticket to travel. Nearly all expenses paid, they moved about every six months and landed in Richmond, Alexandra, Phoenix, Camp Pendleton, and eventually Hawaii. “We lived on the ninth floor of an apartment looking over the Hawaii International Golf Course for $125 a month,” exclaimed Bob. “He loved it there,” said Cleta, “he would have loved to live there.” The island is a “dream come true” for any photographer. Living there gave him time to discover places on the island tourism never touches and Bob sold a lot of photos that showed a hidden Hawaii that tourists don’t get to see. Even when selling artwork, pictures can be hard to part with but the best pictures Bob had to part with where ones that were stolen over the years. Twice robbed, he lost all of his best pictures in Germany and one that hurt even more, a picture of the Korean War Memorial. “There are nineteen soldiers in front of that but when the light hits it just right there are 38 to draw attention to the 38th Parallel. You couldn’t tell it was a reflection.” All of his Washington memorial photos were taken as well.

For more than ten years, Cleta worked three days a week and the rest of the time they spent driving as far as they could, taking in the world in through Bob’s lens. In a way photography was work. Bob admitted to sitting for hours in one spot, waiting for the right moment to capture an image. Often enduring extreme temperatures, his passion provided the patience he needed and deepened his belief that photography is an art. He still produces photos without enhancements and uses a 35mm camera and slides, not digital, so all of his pictures are entirely photographic techniques. “I go to an art show and people ask me if I do art. I tell them about my pictures and they say, ‘oh that’s not art, that’s photography.’ But the way I look at it, the artist has a handful of different colored paints and he’s got a canvas. He mixes up the paint, puts it on a canvas and changes it until he gets it to look right. The world is my canvas. I sit down and I look at it. There’s 47 million things sitting there in front of me and I’ve got to figure out what looks right

and what doesn’t, looking this way and that way, up here and down there, laying on my back or climbing a tree. To me it’s an art.” Perhaps the greatest the gift both have received out of Bob’s photography are the moments they’ll always remember when they glance through the photos. “When you push the shutter, you freeze time. You’ll never get a chance to see some things again, no matter how hard you try.” That’s the beauty of photography and something that Bob and Cleta will always share.

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o you ever feel as if time is getting away from you, that your children or grandchildren are growing up too fast? Are you looking for a way to freeze time? Rebecca Curren is one local artist who has found the secret and is willing to share the details! Curren and her family moved from California to Oklahoma ten years ago and settled in Shawnee last winter. Six years ago, Curren’s oldest daughter was searching e-bay for dolls she wanted for Christmas. When she ran across reborns, mother and daughter were both impressed. The dolls were so lifelike they could easily be confused with real babies.

“We were so amazed at how cute and real some of them looked, but they were a little out of our price range at the time and I told her that I would try to find out how they made these amazing little bundles and that is exactly what I did,” Curren explained. Curren ordered an instructional DVD and contacted other reborn artists. While the DVD taught her the basics, networking gave her an opportunity to learn from the mistakes and triumphs of others. There are several “reborning” or “newborning” techniques, but Curren always starts with a blank kit, which includes a doll’s head and limbs. She paints the limbs and face with several layers of specialized paints. Each layer of paint is “heat set” in an oven for eight minutes to prevent chipping and fading. Then she starts her favorite part of the process— micro-rooting the reborn’s hair— which is the process of attaching one or two strands at a time with a sharp needle. Some reborns have painted hair, but most are given mohair. Curren has found that some of the most realistic mohair comes from a company in Canada and costs $25 for each half ounce. “This process sometimes takes more time than the

painting depending on how much hair I want on the baby. Sometimes you feel like you will never get it done, but boy the results are so worth all the work,” Curren said. Work on the body begins next. While some reborners make their own bodies, Curren orders hers pre-made and fills them with pellets and other material for weight. She fills the limbs with super-fine glass beads that look like sand and seals them separately from the body. The head is filled with larger glass beads and poly-fiber filling. “Once all that is done, I get really excited because what I have been working on is about to be a new creation. I attach the head and limbs to the body and hold it like a real baby to feel if I got the weight right,” she said. “It’s like having a blank canvas come to life—that’s what I love the most about this art form—it’s very rewarding when I take my finished babies out to show them off and everyone is amazed that they are not real.” Curren also makes custom reborns. In this case, the customer gets to help choose the kit, hair and skin tones. She sells her creations on e-bay and craigslist, but admits parting with some of them has been difficult. Her reborns have been “adopted” by people as far away as South Africa, Great Britain, Australia and Canada. Adoptive parents receive an adoption certificate with their reborn. The price varies, but



continued from pg. 17

Curren said most of her dolls start around $300. Reborns are purchased for sentimental value, in the case of custom dolls and for their collectible value. What began as something to do for fun has turned into a full-blown business venture. Curren said that’s the way she has to look at it in order to continue making and selling her creations. She estimates she has reborn roughly 75 dolls over the years, but admits other artists have made hundreds in the same amount of time. “I am so picky about all the details, so I spend more time with each baby that I make,” she said. “It’s time consuming sometimes to find the right kit and hair to match but I haven’t found a baby yet that I haven’t been able to reborn,” she said. In this case, being so particular has turned out to be a good thing. Curren said people who have custom requests often send her baby pictures to tell her exactly what they want. Sometimes these photos are of a child who has grown up. Other parents want to preserve the memory of a lost child.

For someone who puts so much time and effort into the creative process, Curren hasn’t kept any of her reborns. Eventually, she would like to have some of her dolls on display and may expand into making reborn toddlers. The largest doll she has made so far has been 22 inches, but they can get much larger. Curren teaches reborning classes about twice each month and tries to keep class sizes small so students get the help they need. Each student provides their own kit and body and Curren provides paints, brushes, weighting material and the mohair. She gives each student a supply list so they know exactly what they need and they are invited to attend future classes for further instruction. Curren also shares tricks of the trade, time savers and a focus on realism. Cost of the class is $150. “The important thing to remember is to have fun with it,” Curren said. For more information on reborning or doll repair, call (405) 213-3367 or e-mail

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You Don’t Say Sue’s Bernard’s Book of Oklahoma Wisdom by: Mindy Wood

Sue Bernard

If it’s one thing Oklahomans are famous for it’s the way we talk. If you think our mid-western drawl and words like, ‘y’all’ are the only distinctions in our verbal culture, you might be forgetting a few choice words and sayings that make us both funny and sometimes hard to figure out. “We do it without even thinking,” said Sue Bernard when she spoke of our southern sayings. “It’s the way we talk.” In her book, “You Don’t Say” you’ll find some familiar phrases like “right as rain” and “where there’s a will there’s a way.” The paradoxical idioms are always humorous, sometimes a little shocking, and even inspirational. Her book contains more than 600 hilarious catchphrases that she collected over a three year period. Apparently humor is a great way to say anything no matter how you really feel. “I’m confused as a turtle on a fencepost,” or “she’s sure got a bee in her bonnet” drive an obvious point with a funny mental picture. Exactly how a person says something could be lighthearted or menacing depending on the tone of voice. “I’m so mad I could catch fire,” or “it’s too late to close the gate after the cows get out” are a few things people could spout out in passing or in passion. Bernard said sayings like these and more were a way people could talk to diffuse a tense situation with humor or an easier way “to take your medicine.” Bernard never intended to make it a book but said she “fell into it.” She started writing down things people said on index cards and a friend encouraged her to compile them in a book. She said she ultimately felt driven to do it as a way to preserve our history and culture. Kimberly Houk created illustrations and the Shawnee News Star printed her book. “I thought it was something worth writing because it’s what we say. I grew up in the mountains of Stillwell in eastern Oklahoma and all of the old sayings were just normal to me until I got older. I recognized that they’re really part of our culture.” Oklahomans are well known for our true grit and tough spirit in the face of adversity. Our do-or-die at-

titude seems to show in our way of speaking. Bernard can personally attest that many of these sage sayings nourish the discouraged soul. She remembered, “The saying, ‘what’s a tree but an acorn that held on’ means there’s times in our lives when it’s just important to hang on and I’ve been there. ‘When you’re down to nothing you know God is up to something,’ always meant to me that I was put on this earth for a reason, even though I don’t always know what that is.” Good advice is another jewel in her book such as, “honey attracts more bees than vinegar,” and “you can say almost anything to anyone if you say it with a smile.” Some sayings are older than others and easily discerned as phrases often used by farmers. “You never miss the water til the well runs dry,” or “even a blind hog will root up an acorn now and then,” and “tend to your own rat killing” are likely a farmer’s translation of ‘don’t take things for granted,’ ‘anything’s possible,’ and ‘mind your own business!’ The book belies its’ collective age with older sayings and Bernard said she knew where to look to find them. “A lot of these came from people in senior citizens homes and centers. We would sit around a table and I would read mine off of index cards and they would tell me theirs. I got a different mixture of sweet, kind and some colorful sayings. They’d always tell me, ‘this book sure makes you feel good.’ It’s because they’re telling stories by the sayings they remember and they’re laughing about it.” Bernard is happy to preserve these beloved sayings for the simple pleasure of watching a person’s reaction and how it opens up discussions that would otherwise remain closed. “Its just been fun to see people read it and laugh. That’s been my primary joy with this book. It’s a good conversation starter and a way to tell how you feel about things. ” If you want to take some great advice, jolt your memory and remember how to laugh at yourself, then “You Don’t Say” is “right up your alley.” You can find copies at The Old Wishing Well, Waldenbooks and Memory Lane.

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It’s an unwelcome sight every summer: the electric bill. Most people just get used to the breezy temperatures and even breezier utility bills during the cooler spring months when the heat hits and the bills hurt once again. According to, average residential electricity prices will likely climb 4.7% this year and 3.3% next year so for now Americans are playing defense. If you want to beat the heat and the cut the bill, you can do it with some simple planning. Start with the biggest expense by evaluating major appliances that use the most energy. Your AC unit should be serviced every year and cleaned of all debris. Have your ducts cleaned, filters changed and make sure there are no rugs or furniture blocking your vents. By raising your thermostat just two degrees you can save up to 3% on your bill in a 24 hour period. Shut off vents in unused rooms and be sure to raise the temperature when you leave the house or install a programmable thermostat to do it for you. You might be surprised to find out that your refrigerator is the biggest energy draining appliance inside your home. Check the thermostat to ensure it’s on the recommended setting so this appliance isn’t running full blast. It’s a good idea to defrost the freezer. Make sure the fan is also not blocked by food as this will make your appliance work harder and use more energy. Speaking of appliances, don’t forget the ones that pack the heat. Even energy efficient washers, dryers and dishwashers can steam up the place, so run these at night. You can also try an indoor clothes line and hang up sheets

or other clothing items that never see an iron or get back to nature and hang up the wash outside on a clothesline. Your yard will smell great! Grill baby, grill. Summers wouldn’t be delicious without the backyard cookout but try to branch out beyond barbeque chicken, hamburgers and hotdogs to cut back on cooking indoors. You can use foil to steam veggies and easily prepare other foods on your grill that normally simmer on a hot stove. Don’t forget to use small appliances like slow cookers and toaster ovens. Most recipes can be converted to these cooking methods that eliminate indoor heat or use far less electricity. If you have to use your oven, double the dish and freeze it for later so at least it’s one less time to crank up the heat. For long range planning, shade your home with trees or install solar panels to maximize energy from the radiating sun. You can check with the utility company about a usage plan agreement which usually requires that you use major appliances during certain times of day. If you’re interested in averaging your bill, however be advised they will base your monthly rate on the previous twelve months, including last year’s high bills so you need to reduce energy before averaging or you’ll simply pay the same high bill every year. Other ways to keep the bill down are tried and true like keeping the lights low, drawing the shades, and sealing crevices. Trying any of these can only help you beat the heat this summer, so get out there and kill the bill!

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Alex and Jeff Sigman

If you want to wow your friends and family this summer cookout season, forget about the Food Network and tune into some expert advice right here in the county. Stewart ‘Stu’ Wintrode of Oklahoma City and Jeff Sigman of Tecumseh turned out for the second annual It’s a Smokin’ Thang contest this year, judged by the official Kansas City Barbeque Society and hosted by Linda Praytor. Stewart Wintrode is something of a travelling professional when it comes to smoking contests. He competes throughout Texas, Kansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas around twenty times a year and he places often. He was back for the KCBS contest this year and won first place in Pork and Pork Ribs, third in Chicken, and fourth in Briscuit. Wintrode said winning is all about the judging tables and their taste buds can vary. “It just depends on the table you’re presenting to. I would say that the KCBS scoring system is very consistent but if you present to a table that doesn’t like your taste profile then you’re done. If they do, then you’ve got your foot in the door and there’s a chance you could win.” Jeff Stigman, who does about five contests a year, was a little more relaxed about the judges’ tables. Stigman, a 6th grade science teacher for Tecumseh Middle School, won first place in the People’s Choice award. While it didn’t fetch a cash prize, Stigman and his 13 year old son Alex were pleased. “All the contests we go to, about the same 4 or 5 teams win because they do this all the time. My son

Stu Wi Wesley, April, and

and I do it because we love to cook. Sure you’d like to win all those categories but I’m really cooking for the people. The judges know what they like and if they like mine they do, if they don’t then that’s ok.” Stigman got started when he and a friend decided to build a smoker. After some success cooking for tailgate parties during OU games, they decided to start entering contests. He and his son make their own rubs and sauces and enjoy summers smoking up the whole summer with backyard cooking. Although the KCBS event drew everyone from casual competitors to fierce backyard chefs, both men offered a few tips for the amateur smoker. From tips on meat selection and cooking temperatures and to techniques to keep your feast flavorful and moist, you can expect more compliments around the table. Both agreed that you should be picky about your meat selection. “Choose good meat,” said Wintrode. “Don’t buy the cheapest of the cheap because the quality of the meat will affect the end result.” For pork and briscuit Stigman prefers cuts with more fat. “I like to have a little more fat because when you smoke it that fat kind of breaks down and gives it more moisture. If you get a real lean cut of meat it’s going to be dry. Go low and slow on the smoke and it’ll break down the fat. What fat doesn’t break down, just trim it off.” For moist meat, Wintrode recommends injection for pork and beef and brine for chicken. “For the backyard cook struggling with

dry chicken, try brine. It’s a new thing, so experiment with it because it will make your end result much better. For large cuts of meat, the best thing is injection. There are several good products on the market. There are recipes that call for water, worcestishire sauce, beef broth and if you like it sweet, try apple juice. Trying different ingredients lets you get it the flavor you want.” According to these guys, the biggest pitfall to avoid when smoking large portions of meat is impatience. “You can’t cook a ten pound portion of meat in three or four hours and expect it to be tender,” said Wintrode. Sigman agreed and added that it takes patience to closely monitor the temperature. “We cook at 225 and it’s really important not to let it get way high or way low. I check my meat every half hour or less, especially in the summer when it gets really hot quick.” What kind of wood should you use? That depends on your taste. “I don’t like really strong smoke flavor so I use pecan and it gives it a sweet flavor,” said Sigman. “Hickory is a little too strong and Mesquite is way too strong for me we use nothing but pecan.” While both men are keeping their best secrets to themselves, these commonly overlooked mistakes can go a long way to making a better meal. Be discriminate about meat selection, try some new techniques and above all, be patient. Good meals come to those who wait. For more information about KCBS, visit


Sounds of the Soul and Scenes from the Mind

Shanda McDonald by: Mindy Wood

Mural and Performance in the Ozark Mountains Shanda McDonald leads what most people would consider quite an exciting life. By day she works for the Sales’ All State Insurance office but by night she’s a skilled musician and budding artist. She plays regularly in the traditional bluegrass music scene in Oklahoma City but also travels frequently in and out of state for music festivals and bookings. With a keen ability to play an array of instruments and a love for musical improvisation, she is not limited by any genre. Improvisation is also evident in her artwork as she thinks outside the box for canvases, colors, and tools that illustrate her experimental creativity. McDonald plays mostly violin and performs with at least four different bands spanning genres such as bluegrass, folk and English country folk, Irish, blues, and Middle Eastern. True to her love of music and experimentation, she likes to play the blues on guitar and over the years has mastered piano, violin, and mandolin. The bands are Home, The Merry Sisters, Celtic Caravan, and Ladies at Play. She’s also played with Branson Missouri greats like Barbara Fairchild, worked as a singing tour guide, and performed with other musicians in play quartets, among them the famous play, “Shepherd of the Hills.” McDonald started playing piano when she was six years old and by the time she was in 7th grade, studied classical music under Paul Boon, then head of the middle school and high school orchestra program. In less than six months, Boon promoted her to the high school orchestra. “With so many years of pia-


no I already knew how to read sheet music and my ear was trained for pitch so I picked up the violin and mastered it fairly quickly.” When she obtained a scholarship to study classical music at OCU in piano and viola, she got a taste for something that would shape her musical career. “I started playing with a bluegrass band on the side in college with Bob Crothers’ Pine Ridge Trio. That’s when I realized I had the free form ability to play traditional music. I got my taste for improvisation and being on stage as a female fiddler with an audience and I loved it. It was really hard to sit in an orchestra after that.” She joined up with Prairie Land String Band and performed with them in costume for Revolutionary and Civil War reinactments in Oklahoma City. Barbara Fairchild heard of her talents and offered her a fiddler’s job in Branson Missouri where she performed for five seasons. There she discovered the book and long running play “Shepherd of the Hills” based on the novel by Harold Bell Wright. “I fell in love with the book. After I read it, I kept hearing tunes when I would think of different scenes in the book and I wrote them down. Before I knew it I had enough music to do a recording.” She eventually performed for the play and acted as performing tour guide in the area, playing her fiddle and singing in the hills she fell in love with. With the deep impressions of both the beautiful setting of the book in Branson and the story, Shanda began to connect even more with her instrument and realize there was a place in her soul where instrument and player

were one, where passion and skill merged. “I’m beyond the point of having to think about my instrument, as if it now has a mind of its own and it’s playing itself. It’s amazing to be that connected to something. I think it’s the same way with art, mathematics and science where it just comes out of you.” Her experiments with art are also successful. She completed a painted mosaic on a bed sheet, using a pencil to outline the mosaic, and interior wall paint to fill in the design. Her idea worked and her painting won first place at the Winfield Kansas Bluegrass Festival for Best Campsite. Both her daughters Jenna, who plays the flute, and Garrett who plays the guitar, have followed their mother’s artistic lead and enjoy creating their own music and painting. Shanda said much of her talent is credited to her mother. “My mother taught herself to play piano by ear. She saw I had a gift and gave me the piano lessons she never had. She was always painting and I can even remember a mural she painted on the wall when I was about four years old. She was big on inspiring me to think outside the box and always telling me, ‘you can do anything you put your mind to with God’s help.’ All of this is really about her.” At this stage of Shanda’s musical career she is focused on playing what she truly loves and finds meaningful. “I don’t perform for the masses anymore, I play what I love and just share it. I play the music and hope I can carry the audience there with me. Music is the language of the world. It’s magical and I’m blessed to be able share my gift with others.”


now hlrlng



Delicious History

McLoud and the Blackberry Festival by: Mindy Wood

Shawnee’s neighboring town, McLoud has quite a story to tell that includes their long held honor as the Blackberry Capitol of the Word and an account of the town’s tough start when it was even closer to home nearer Shawnee’s city limits. The town was founded in 1895 but was drowned out by a terrible flood. It wasn’t the first time the low lying settlers had experienced flooding so they packed their bags and moved where the town lies today on either side of I-40 and McLoud Road. It didn’t take long for farmers to find the fertile land would be a good home to crops and among them that flourished were blackberries. A group of farmers formed a blackberry growers association and later sent a crate packed with the luscious fruit to President Eisenhower. “That’s when McLoud received national attention and became the Blackberry Capitol of the Word,” said Jayne Sconyers, McLoud Chamber of Commerce Director. “They produced an enormous amount of blackberries, so it was known as the place to get your blackberries.” They started a blackberry festival during that time as well. “ In the 1940’s they started celebrating the end of blackberry harvest with a picnic and since the harvest ended around the same time as the 4th of July celebration they decided to combine the two and that’s where we get the Blackberry Festival.” Although McLoud doesn’t produce as many blackberries as they used to, the little ‘blackberry capitol of the world’ is no stranger to Oklahomans thanks to the annual Blackberry Queen Pageant. Every year a new queen is chosen during the festival. She attends parades throughout the state and find herself in and out of meetings with state representatives as she keeps busy helping with the McLoud Chamber of Commerce events. “They work really hard and it’s opened a lot of opportunities for them. Some of our girls have done paging for state senators and representatives at the capitol because of those connections they made as Blackberry Queen. They don’t just get a crown and sash and leave the

stage.” The Blackberry Queen title originally went to the farmer’s daughter who brought in the most harvest. “You had to be the daughter of a blackberry farmer to even be considered for the title and it was judged based on whichever farmer brought in the most blackberries because at that time they brought them to a barn they had in town. When you finished your harvest, you brought them to the barn and they counted your crates.” Now girls are chosen based on private interviews, a question and answer session and a themed essay, this year based on “McLoud on the Map.” Each year the festival runs from July 2nd to July 4th and ends with fireworks. They feature a carnival, kids games, a car show, poker run, cobbler eating and baking contest and this year a photography and texting contest. Food vendors are required to offer at least one blackberry item. “They get pretty creative,” said Sconyers. “They can serve anything they can dream up, one lady switched from strawberry shortcake to black berry shortcake and we had everything from blackberry crepes and blackberry funnel cakes to blackberry wine. Kiwanis makes an amazing blackberry wine cake.” Throughout the year the chamber sells cookbooks with blackberry recipes and blackberry jelly. When they’re not busy promoting the town, they’re working on building a close community and preserving the town’s history. In October they have an annual chili cook off with cash prizes to the winners. Currently they are working on a restoration project to preserve the town’s Home Economic Cottage, the last of the early day’s school buildings. The McLoud Chamber, public schools and the historical society are all working together to move the building and reuse it as part of the chamber’s offices. For more information about McLoud’s past or the Blackberry Festival, visit



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When our kids were young we bought a little frog with transparent skin. Actually, what we bought was a Grow a Frog Kit that came with a little frog-sized aquarium, some gravel for the bottom, and a postcard to fill out and send to the Grow a Frog people. They promised that they would send a tadpole guaranteed to arrive alive. This was marketed as a way to learn about metamorphosis, but what I learned about was murder. Our tadpole arrived alive and wiggly, and thrived in his little tank. We watched, amazed, as he sprouted little arms and grew webbed feet. We named him Rumbus (I don’t know why, but it meant something at the time). The instructions that came with Rumbus said that little frogs with transparent skin are sensitive to changes in water temperature. The instructions were very clear: change the aquarium water regularly, and be sure to let the fresh water sit overnight so that the temperature of the old water and the fresh water are exactly the same. I precisely followed the instructions for the first six months. For some reason, and I’m sure it was a very good reason, I decided to change Rumbus’ water without taking the time to leave it out overnight. I filled a bowl with fresh water and tried to match the temperature of the fresh water to the water in the aquarium by alternately sticking my finger in one and then the other. The fresh water is too hot, I thought, and added a bit of cold water. Better, but still too warm. I tinkered with temperature of the fresh water until I was satisfied that the two were exactly the same temperature. Or close enough. Apparently Rumbus’ body was more sensitive to changes in water temperature than my finger. As soon as his little see-through body hit the fresh water his little froggy arms shot forward and his little froggy legs shot backwards and I swear I heard a little froggy scream: “Ahhhhhh,” just before he went belly-up, stiff as a little board. I don’t have a lot of empathy for amphibians, as a rule, but I felt

sorry for Rumbus. I killed him. My children and I buried Rumbus in the backyard. My son said a few kind and somber words over his ex-pet as I covered Rumbus’ matchbox coffin with dirt. Changes in temperature don’t kill me, but summer heat makes me crabby. I do fine in the winter; I look forward to the first hard freeze and relish a good snowstorm. However, when the snow melts, the grass greens, and the temperature soars above ninety I feel miserable. For years I thought myself a warm weather wimp, then a kind and knowledgeable science teacher told me something that changed my life. She said that the source of my summertime bad attitude might be physiological. “There’s a thing called ‘meninges’, she said. It is a thin membrane that surrounds the brain and separates it from the skull. In some people heat causes the meninges to swell putting pressure on the brain causing irritability. Maybe you are a grouch in the summer because your meninges is swollen.” I was liberated! I am not a summertime sissy after all; I have a condition. Now I can snap at people three to four months out of the year without guilt. I can go with a temper tantrum and when my victim says, “What’s the matter with you?” I can answer, “I have a condition; my meninges is swollen. As we speak it is pressing on my brain causing irritability. I can’t help it. Sorry.” That’s not entirely true, you know. I can try to justify my crankiness, heat swollen meninges and all, but I am not helpless against the feelings. I can’t control all of life’s circumstances but I can control my response to them. I can surrender to the short fuse and blame my meninges or I can choose patience. This is not easy, of course, but one of the marks of maturity is the ability to choose the right response no matter how badly one feels emotionally, physically, or otherwise. Here’s to maturity, adaptability, a cool summer and an early frost.

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