Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Time Out

I had a surprise time out with my little friend yesterday.

My cousin had a phone call from a government agency, so I ran outside to get him. He’d taken our buddy out and was letting him play in the back of his pickup. Like the nice person I am (clears throat) I agreed to stay and play while Cousin Rick talked on the phone.

The ice cream truck had come buy, and Rick had ponied up–so I also was put in charge of an ice cream cone, with chocolate cookie crumbles and a dry napkin.

Deegers picked up the few tools in the back of the truck and told me their names as well as which ones were heavy. We wore cabled wire like a necklace and he let me hold a big stick–for a moment or two. Then he wanted to go see the “horse”.

Don’t forget, I’m still holding a melting ice cream cone. Every now and then, he’d take a little sip. (Usually when I wanted to throw it away.)

So we walked across the street

to the front of the Merchant’s Hotel, which is owned by a very nice lady. She has some things decorating the sidewalk in front of her building. Our favorite is a little concrete donkey, which my buddy calls Horse. He’s just the right height for Deegan to get on, all by himself. He holds on to the tall ears and acts like he’s riding him.

Behind the donkey is a concrete cart full of silk flowers. Deegan wanted me to let him ride in the cart, and even went so far as to take out one of the fifty or sixty flowers. (He put it back when instructed.)

Then we walked down the sidewalk while he named other items out there. “Shovel. Baby. Deer. Frog.” And because I knew what they were, I could understand him! 🙂

There’s a garden gnome on a low window sill, and he calls something I can’t understand. I’ll bet Rick knows, though.

He calls me Woo-Woo. Most of the kids (and some of the secretaries) call me Su-Su, so he’s close.

He says hat very clearly. LOL.

I told Granddaddy (Deegan says that fairly clearly) that we need to buy him a real horse, and I was hoping for a cart, too.

Dad answered, “What he needs is a pita-patay.”

Somehow, I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.



Lock Your Doors!

Marilyn Pappano, whose newest book, In the Enemy’s Arms, is on shelves now–and it’s fabulous, tells a joke about being from a Small Town World where the only time you lock your doors is during zucchini season. Guess what?

It’s time! 🙂

Most of my family LOVES squash. I remember eating it as a kid with ketchup, but I got smarter after that.

Grandma Reeves wouldn’t eat it at all. Mama could fry up a big platter, and Grandma would just pass it along. “I don’t eat squash. It’s poor folks’ food!”

“Then I’m a poor folk.” Daddy grinned big. “Pass that squash over here.”

We told our kids it was grown up food, and they couldn’t have any. Funny how that makes them beg for it! (It worked until they figured out what we were doing.)

I like straight or crook neck (yellow) ever better than zucchini, but I don’t quibble if someone else cooking. IT’S ALL GOOD.

You know how they tell you in church that you can’t out give God? You can’t out give a squash plant, either. It’s the gift that just keeps on giving. You can batter and fry the blossoms or eat the whole fruit.

The squash itself can be fried, baked, stuffed, boiled, broiled, sautéed or made into a casserole or dessert bread. (There’s not much better than zucchini bread. Yuuuum!) I’ve read you can even put leftover stewed squash in white bread, but I’ve never tried it.

When G-Man and I were first married, we were very successful at growing squash. (Hey, if you water it, it will grow.) We cooked that stuff every way we could think of. And we froze it.

If you freeze squash, don’t let your dog unplug the deep freeze. Bags of frozen squash left to defrost and sit a few days before you find is a real mess. (Blech.)

My absolute favorite way to eat squash is fried. Yuuummy goodness.

Here’s how Mama taught me–

First you slice the small fruit into a bowl of salted water.

 Keep the slices thin.

Dredge the slices in salted flour. (I’ve found that just salty water, the way Mama did it, isn’t enough seasoning.)

 Shake off the excess flour and fry the slices in oil. I use Cannola Oil, but any vegetable oil works. I don’t deep fry my squash, but you could.

Then you just set them on the table and watch them disappear. If they make it to the table. Sometimes it’s a toss up–will we leave any to serve with dinner? 😉

So–that’s my favorite way to prepare squash. Please–someone share their favorite zucchini bread recipe with me. I’ve never baked it. 🙂

My hibiscus–just for fun.


Games We Played

English: Youths playing the Red Rover game.

English: Youths playing the Red Rover game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember the days when the gang of kids in your neighborhood played outside together all summer long? We had so much fun, running, laughing and screaming our heads off until the sun went down and our parents flashed the porch light. (Time to go in.)

I found a button on the floor at work yesterday, so I went from room to room. When I got to the M & M office (Mallory and Mendy) I said,

Button, button–who’s got the button?

I got a strange–Do what?–look from M#1.

“Didn’t you play Button, Button when you were a kid?” I asked.

“I’ve never heard of it. How did you play?”

Surprise. “How about Drop the handkerchief?”


“I’ll bet you never played Good Egg, Rotten Egg either.” I’ve never heard of anyone who played Good Egg except the crew at Bible School in Old Ford one year before we moved to C-Town. (I don’t remember the Bible School lessons, treats or crafts but I loved the games!)

After I demonstrated the position for Good Egg, Rotten Egg (squatting with your hands clasped under your hiney and elbows used for handles) and explained that two larger kids picked you up by your elbows/handles and swung you (if your hands slip loose, you’re a rotten egg) she recognized it.

Different name, same game. And even young M#2 played it on the trampoline.

Since I had work to do, I didn’t ask if they’d played Farmer In the Dell. Besides, it wasn’t my favorite game.

My absolute favorite gaggle of kids game was Red Rover. “Red Rover, Red Rover, let Susan come over.”

(Does anyone know what a Red Rover is?)

Remember how we played it? The other side tried to pick the littlest, weakest kid because they shouldn’t be able to break through the wall of hands-holding kids.

I loved that game, because I was tougher than I looked. I liked being a surprise. 🙂

Tag was always fun for a while as was Hide and Seek. But another one of my favorites was The Ghost Don’t Pop. (Ignore the grammar–we were kids.)

Friend, next-door-neighbor and Monopoly player extraordinaire Susie Lunsford introduced us to that game. You couldn’t play until almost dark because, after all, it was a ghost game. And everyone knows ghosts don’t come out during the day.

A base was chosen, one person was it, and the rest scattered but had to hide in a specified area. (In one person’s yard and around their house.)

After “It” counted to a hundred while all the “ghosts” hid, she started walking around the house, always keeping an eye open for lurking “ghosts.”

Using a scary voice–“It’s one o’clock and the Ghost Don’t Pop. Two o’clock and the Ghost Don’t Pop. Three o’clock and . . . “

At “Twelve o’clock and the Ghost Don’t Pop,” all the ghosts popped and ran for base. “It” ran for base, too. I’m not sure how anyone was the winner or how somebody became “It”, but it sure was fun!

I don’t remember my kids playing a lot of big group games when they were little. Oh, they played Duck, Duck, Goose as preschoolers as well as Tag and Hide and Seek, but once they outgrew those games, organized sports such as T-Ball and Soccer are the only ones I remember.

So I have three questions for you today.

  1. Did you play gaggle-of-kids games when you were young?
  2. What was your favorite?
  3. How did The Ghost Don’t Pop end? (Susie Lunsford, are you there???)


Purple Tails, Sunflowers and Warm Hearts

Seems as if this was my first weekend at home in forever! When did summers get to be so busy?

We had a couple of uninvited guests run into the house Saturday morning.

There were three to be exact. Isn’t he cute? I love the purple tail.

I caught him with a paper towel and took his back outside. He wasn’t more than an inch-and-a-half long, and he was so light, when the paper towel blew in the breeze, it lifted him right off the ground. He held on tight though. 🙂

Another one ran inside and, when I tried to catch him, right down the air vent. I just hope he can find his way back out.

Remember this guy? I’ve decided he’s not a real sunflower (the bloom is too small) but I’m still having fun watching him grow. G-Man says it looks more like a sun-tree than a sunflower, and he might be right. 🙂

He peeked at me last week.

 And now he has that eye open.

I had to shoot up to get the bloom.

The center almost looks like a heart, doesn’t it? I couldn’t resist playing with it just a little.

What do you think? (I used Photoshop Elements to make the change.) Almost looks as if God made it that way, doesn’t it?

Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day three times. Once in church (where every day is God the Father’s Day) once at Sister Debbie’s house (she makes Chicken and Poodles that taste like Grandmother’s did) and the third time with our boys at Johnny Carinos.

Want to know the best part of family get-togethers (including my church family) for me? The joy, laughter and having time just to be with each other.

Warms the heart, doesn’t it?

How did you spend Father’s Day?






Happy Father’s Day!

I hit the jackpot when it came to parents. I know, I’m bragging, and I’m sorry about that. But it’s true. God gave me top-of-the-line, never-been-beat, parents to die for.

No. Kidding.

Dad with his six kids on his 80th birthday.

I didn’t do anything to get such great parents, of course. But I’m Number One in the kid department, and I’m just thrilled I wasn’t such a bad kid they didn’t want more.

Mom and Dad the summer before they married. (Dad was 19.) The baby is my cousin Lindy. (Thanks to Aunt Wilma for sharing this picture.)

This is Dad today with his great-grandson, Andrew. (That’s Faith texting in the background.)

I love working for my dad. (I might have mentioned that before.) Love learning from him and watching him get excited over the work he does. He says he’s never worked a day in his life. He LOVES what he does. (Great attitude, huh?)

 Celebrating one of his birthdays. Isn’t he a hoot?

He’s just as nice as he looks, too.

Dad about to walk me down the aisle.

I saved this picture until last because I can never look at it without my heart melting just a bit. It takes me back to that exact moment. He looked at me because the photographer told him to, but then he whispered, “I love you.”

I gave Dad a garden fork for Father’s Day this year. (He’s turned into a gardener extraordinaire in the past several years.) Of course, he dug his potatoes that morning before he came to work (sigh) but at least it won’t be worn out (or rusted out) for next year.

Here are some gifts I’ve received from Dad–

Great advice: “Pay your taxes the way you should. That way you can always sleep at night.”

Best Day: The Easter we were baptised together at the old church in C-Town.

Funny memory (now, anyway): Deb and I talked and played in church. When we got home, Dad spanked us with his old belt. (Probably because it was softer.) I got spanked first. When it was Deb’s turn, she got a couple of whacks and the belt broke.

Punishment over.

Sweet, happy memories: (I can’t choose just one.)

  • Summers at the lake where Dad taught me to ski.
  • When I told my parents I was getting married, Mom said, “If you do, you can’t move home again.” Without missing a beat, Dad snapped back, “Oh, yes she can, too!” (I never did.)
  • The tears in Dad’s eyes when I told him I was going to have my first baby. “Have you told your mom?” When I told him no he said, “Don’t ever let her find out you told me first.”

I didn’t.

If you have a memory you can share of my dad, please do!

Or if you have a memory of your dad you’d like to share, I’d love it!


White Haired Wisdom from Frank Peretti

Front cover of Piercing the Darkness

Front cover of Piercing the Darkness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog is by Frank Peretti. Remember, “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing the Darkness?” Yep, it’s THAT Frank Peretti. Don’t be impressed. I don’t know the guy. I just “liked” him on Facebook.

Turns out he isn’t just a great writer, he’s smart, too. So I’m sharing some of his White Haired Wisdom.
If you want to keep up with Frank, you can like him on Facebook. 
White-Haired Wisdom: Our WHW for today is for all those young and not as young ladies out there who are looking toward marriage.  Moms and Dads, you might want to pass this on to your daughters.
When you’re looking for the right guy, make up your mind here and now that you’re going to Go Through The Middle: you’re going to prove and test him, however long it takes, to make sure he’s God’s pick for you.
Too many people fall into a relationship quickly and easily, “in love” but not thinking.  Let me share with you. Quick and Easy do not make SAFE.
Slow and Careful make SAFE.
So to be specific: dear lady, do yourself, your family, your friends, and your pastor a big favor: Don’t Marry a Jerk.
When I consider the rivers of marital counseling cases that flow through any church, it pains me that the bulk of the counseling is because the guy is a jerk, which tells us something we must face up to and fear: There are jerks in this world, even Christian, church-going jerks.
They are out there, and they are looking for you. Sometimes I marvel at the guys that girls marry.  It’s as if the girl took applications and interviewed several men in order to choose the worst possible candidate:
“Oh, no, I’m sorry, you don’t qualify.  You’re a man with deep convictions with a job; you have a car that actually runs; you believe in self-sacrifice and looking out for your wife and kids.
“I’m looking for a man who can’t hold a job so we end up living with my folks and driving dad’s car because ours is always broken down or out of gas.
“I want a man who is always around when he wants sex but has no interest in taking care of me or the kids. “I’m looking for someone who has a drug or alcohol problem because I think I can fix him. “I need somebody who’s really moody and pouts and yells a lot because I like getting emotionally beat up.
“I’m looking for someone who blames all his problems on everybody else so I’ll have to take the rap for everything. “I want a man who keeps score in a relationship –
Well, I did this and this and this for you, but you only did this and this for me – so I’m always, always trying to make him happy.
“I want a man who can’t control his appetites, who doesn’t want to wait until marriage for sex because he just can’t help himself, which means he won’t wait for anything else he wants, which means we’ll always be in financial trouble.” Jerks are little boys who shave.
The most important thing to them is the latest computer game, everybody else is wrong and they are right, they are constantly texting on a cell phone their mother is paying for, and they drive without insurance.
Jerks need to control and abuse to feel manly, and Christian jerks use the Bible, erroneously, to make it spiritual.  And are you ready for the biggest lie a woman can fall for?
Here it comes–
“He’ll change.”
Listen, I know God’s grace can run mighty deep and of course there are testimonies, but more often than not – which means you should count on it – whatever he is now, that’s what he’s going to be twenty, thirty years from now. 
While you’re still free to make a good and safe choice – not just for you but for your kids-to-be – don’t even think about there being exceptions to the rule.
So it’s my prayer that these words will provide some advance warning and protection for you.  I’ve already heard back from some precious women who can verify everything I’m saying, and they will tell you as I will, Go Through the Middle to find a Real Man, which means you’ll probably have to wade through a few jerks before you find him, but just as there are jerks in the world, so there are good, solid, Real Men, and holding out for the right one will be more than worth it; it will define the rest of your life.
Now I’m thinking about what to say to the fellas who want to be Real Men.  I’ll be back shortly. Frank, on June 13, 2012.


The American

A long, long time ago, my mama insisted that I go downtown and apply for a job opening she knew was coming up. I’m not sure why she was so insistent, but being a good, obedient daughter (wink) I went to The Cleveland American.

The people who owned the newspaper were neighbors and went to the same church we did. I’d babysit for them once in a while. Loved the kids. Loved the wife! I was scared to death of the husband/owner of the American. (I don’t know why.)

So Mom dropped me off at the paper, and I went in and sat in the small office, waiting for the owner to get off the phone.

Finally, he looked at me and said, “What’d you need?”

I burst into tears.

No kidding. I didn’t just have tears running from my eyes, I BOO-HOOED. I have to hand it to the guy, he didn’t get worried and upset. He just waited until the storm dissipated a bit and handed me a wad of Kleenexes.

When I could breathe again, he asked, “So . . . what’d you need?”

He hired me, but only for two weeks–until the girl he really wanted to hire came back from vacation. 🙂

I was a filler, doing what I could (washed walls, cleaned bathrooms, answered the phone, stayed away from the back and the huge letter press that shook the entire building) until the girl with talent for the job came back.

I think he forgot to let me go after those two weeks, because I worked there for the next two-and-a-half years–most of the time I was in high school.

I learned a lot working at the paper.

  • How to take personals from the sweet little old ladies of C-Town (Maggie had Sunday dinner with Margie, her sister who lives across town.)
  • Papercuts hurt.
  • I like people.
  • I like selling things to the public.
  • Staples hurt when they go into your fingers.
  • I don’t mind being LMOTP. (Still my job description.)
  • I didn’t like single wraps.

Lots of high school kids worked at the American while I was there. Mostly guys (one asked if I wanted my palm read, and yes, he painted it red.) but also another girl or two.

Since then, I watched the boss’s kids grow up to be beautiful people I’m proud to call friends today.

The editor of the paper now is the couple’s son, and he does a wonderful job. I wish I could share some of his front pages. I love them! (And I’ll bet he doesn’t make little girls cry.)

So yesterday, my little buddy needed to get out of the office. I took him on a little walk and guess what we found.

A truck! (He can say “truck” but it doesn’t sound much like truck.)

My guy loves trucks, so we stopped to watch.

 Doesn’t it look like fun?

We peeked into the truck and I thought, The American is getting a new sign. Yay! (I liked the old one, too.)

Don’t you love the shape?

 Isn’t it great? This sign has it all. History. Website. Who they are and what they do. Makes me wonder who designed it and why they don’t do that for a living.

   Little Bit loved every moment.

Anybody know what goes through a little boy’s mind when he’s watching trucks?

Can you share it?