Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Leave a comment

Meet the Reeves Crew

A little over three years ago, I told you that my mom’s side of the family gets together only when someone dies. You can read it here.

I hated it then, and I hate more that it’s still true today. But at least those of us who are left get a chance to see each other. I mentioned my sweet Aunt Sally had died, so three of us Spess Girls and G-Man went to Colorado for the funeral and to be with fam.

On our way to Colorado, #4 texted me.

“Tell Bob-the-Plumber I said hello. I’m sorry I can’t be there.”

So as soon as we got there, I told Uncle Robert, “#4 says hello, Bob-the-Plumber. She’s sorry she couldn’t come.”

Uncle R laughed. “Did she tell you that story?”

“No. You tell me.” I love stories. Did I mention my family is full of storytellers? 🙂 I was in heaven!

“Well, she was at Lake City with her husband and boys, so I took them out to eat one night. We went to a steak house, and while we were there, someone waved and me and said, ‘Hello, Bob the Plumber.’

“#4 popped up and said, ‘That’s not Bob the Plumber. That’s my Uncle Robert!”

I thought I’d share some pictures with y’all. (Uncle Robert was back to saying y’all before we left.)

  Mom’s last remaining siblings, Carol and Robert.

Being with Aunt Carol is like spending time with Mama. She’s a fashion bug, for sure! If she weren’t so tiny, I’d go to her house and shop in her closet.

Uncle Robert is Mama’s baby brother. He grew to be the tallest of all the kids.

The smallest boy and girl in this picture are Robert and Carol. Mom is on the far right.

Everyone’s Favorite–Liz.

Liz is Mom’s oldest sister’s only daughter and youngest child. She was just enough older than Deb, Cousin LaDonna and me for us to idolize. If we played pretend, even when Liz was still a kid, we all wanted to be her!

She’s a woman I still look up to. Today she leads a BSF (a women’s Bible Study) in Houston. She’s even more beautiful now than she was as a kid.

These are the Reeves Women. I can see a little bit of Grandma in each one in this picture.

This picture is almost like the one before, but I wanted you to see LaDonna, standing on the far left. Donna is hard working and full of vinegar! LOL.

She lives near Gunnison on a ranch with her husband, and they have three children who all live close by. Her son works with them on the ranch. Her DIL sells real estate, so I’m to contact her if I decide to buy a cabin up there. (I’d LOVE to spend summers near Gunnison.)

My two sisters, Debbie and Cindy are next to LaDonna, and Julie Ann is on the far right.

  This is Donna’s husband in the cowboy hat. He’s a great guy and fun to be around.

This is Julie Ann. When she talks, if I close my eyes, I can see her mama, Sally. Julie doesn’t have that Texas Twang that Sally had, but she matches her in tone and quality! She has two sons, and is a very busy mama.

Oh, and she got her husband to do most of the cooking while we were there.

  Julie Ann’s husband, Bob. This was the first time I’d met him.

The first thing Bob told me was that he’s a coffee snob. Just my kind of guy! He buys special beans. So do I! He grinds his own beans. So do I! We had a great time together.

He’s interesting as well as interested in everything going on.

Uncle Robert has a time with his name. His father-in-law was Bob. He’s Bob (at least when #4 isn’t around.) His son-in-law is Bob. And the man who preached his wife’s funeral was Bob.

We’ll miss Sally so much. I loved the way she used to talk to me, even though I was part of a gaggle of kids. I was eleven when she and Robert married, so she’s been our aunt for a long time. I’ll miss her a lot.

Aunt Sally left a wonderful legacy, though, through her daughter, Julie Ann. Julie has two sons, Rowland and Walker. Rowland is a young teen, so I don’t have any pictures of him. Walker is still in grade school and is as rambunctious as my own boys were.

And there’s not a shy bone in his make up.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Camera Catastrophe–Almost

After several days of tearing out my hair and banging my head on my desk as I tried to wrangle the sisters’ and my own schedules so we could fly to our aunt’s funeral, Dad (who probably got tired of the wailing coming from my office) encouraged us to drive.

But for some reason, he didn’t want us to drive alone. He might have been afraid we’d start shopping somewhere along the way and never get there. Or he might have been worried we’d find a cool old house and set up residence or even just keep on driving and never come home. I’m not sure why he thought we needed a man with us.

Naturally, I volunteered G-Man to be the guy at the wheel. We drove to Hays the first night, then on into Grand Junction the next.

I’ve learned a couple of things about the Spess Girls (at least the first three) on this trip.

  1. We’re fairly easy to travel with as long as you don’t let us get too hungry. (And with the travel snacks we packed, there was no danger in that.)
  2. We all inherited the gotta-take-a-picture-of-this gene.

When we got to the mountains, we all yanked out our cameras and started shooting out of the car windows. Here’s the picture I got.

I must have had an odd look on my face, because Sister Cindy pointed at my camera. “Oh, no. Look!”

Here’s what she saw.

At first, I was sick at my stomach. A trip to Colorado, and a broken lens was putting my camera out of commission. But I looked a little closer and saw it wasn’t the lens that was broken, but a protective thingy (I’m sure it has a name, but I don’t remember what it was) that was on my lens. I unscrewed it and was able to use my camera.

That’s when I remembered the strap of my camera bag slipping through my fingers. The bag is kind of a shield shape, with the lens end of the camera pointing down. When it hit the floor, that protective thingy must have shattered.

Time for a new bag!

This is everyday scenry for some Colorado folks. Imagine living where you had wonder-mountains like these, protecting you all the time. I could handle that!

As we drove, we were rained on several times! At first we were curious as to what that wet stuff, falling from the sky could be. Then G-Man, with his super memory, remembered. “I think it’s called rain.”

We immediately pulled the car over, got out and all four of us danced for joy in the downpour. Okay, not really. But in our hearts, we were dancing! 😉

Something else I learned on this trip–If you’re going to take pictures through the windows of your car, you should CLEAN said windows before shooting. This would have been a fantastic picture if it weren’t for the raindrop spots showing up.

And one last thing I learned–this one about me. I like to take pictures in tunnels. No, I don’t know why. It’s probably some dark, psychological thing and I don’t really want to know.

I like taking pictures of the light at the end of the tunnel best of all. Maybe because reminds me of the Happily Ever After in a good book.



Back in My Own Bed!

I’m back! (Did you notice I was gone?)

G-Man, Sisters Debbie, Cindy and I all made a zooming trip to Colorado for one of my aunt’s funerals. NOT the close part of Colorado, naturally. Uncle Robert (Mom’s bro) lives on the far side of that gorgeous state!

I have to tell you, I adore Colorado. Love seeing the miraculous sights. I took some pictures and I plan to share them as soon as I have the energy to download. Right now, I’m pooped.

We left here Friday evening, spent the night at Hays, Kansas, and drove the rest of the way the next day. (We’d originally planned to drive the entire way in one fell swoop. Argh!)

Uncle Robert has one daughter–Julie. Julie has two adorable sons, and they entertained us the entire time. One is a jewelry expert (he’s middle school or early high school age, so that’s pretty darn good!) When a woman walks into the room, he zooms in on their jewelry and starts naming the stones they’re wearing.

I think I disappointed him. I don’t wear many gems. I did have on turquoise (I love that stone!) when we met, but from his response, it was probably faux turq. I was a real disappointment to him.

The other boy reminded me of my kids when they were his age and super excited about having guests who automatically loved them like we loved him.

We had a few sword fights (pencil for swords) and I told him about how my kiddos used to use anything and everything they could get their hands on to make swords.

#1 son would have had a blast playing with this kid. They could have made lots of sabers together. And this one had a big love of Leggos. One of the neighbors loaned him a huge tub of them. #1 could have built an entire Pirate World with that pile of clicky blocks.

And I got to see my Forever Friend, Cathy. I’d never been to their town before, and I felt kind of out of place until Cathy came over. Her hometown hug made me feel like I was home.

I had a piece of the most delicious cake that Cathy made for the fam. It was baked in a bunt pan and looked like chocolate. But it wasn’t chocolate (not my fav). It was spice cake of some kind.

Cathy, if you’re read this, I NEED THAT RECIPE!

I got to hear the Real Story about how Cathy and Sweet Aunt Sally discovered their C-Town connection.

This won’t be perfect, but it’s as close as I can get. 🙂

Forever Friend Cathy went to work as a math professor in the college where Sweet Aunt Sally was the secretary for the math department. One day, Cathy was in the office on the computer and she muttered something that caught Cousin Julie’s (Sweet Sally’s daughter) ear. (I’m not sure if Julie was in college or just there because her mom was there.)

Anyway, whatever it was that Cathy said (I’m guessing it was something like, “well, I’ll swan!” but Julie couldn’t remember exactly.) Julie stopped and said something like, “I’ve only heard my cousins in Oklahoma say that. Where are you from?”

Cathy answered, “I’m from C-Town, Oklahoma.”

Julie answered, “So are my cousins!”

Cathy was surprised. “What’s the family name?”


“You’re kidding!” I imagine Cathy was astonished by now. “My forever friend growing up was Susan Spess!”

Cathy became part of Uncle Robert’s family. He called her his almost niece. 🙂 Now, I think they’ve decided to leave the Almost out. Cathy was with them right after Sweet Sally’s death, taking delicious food each time she went over.

She even spoke at the funeral. I’d mentioned to her how obits always disappoint me because they don’t share the real heart of the person who’s passed on.

The minister, Preacher Bob, opened the floor to anyone who wanted to talk about Sweet Sally. Several men stood up, many of whom had worked with Sweet Sally at the college. But none of them got to the heart of Sally.

Cathy did. And I’ll be forever grateful to her for it.

Uncle Robert let me look at their wedding pictures while we were there. He looked like a movie star from the ’50’s or early ’60’s, but I can’t remember the man’s name. Tall, slender, olive skin tone and black hair. That man was handsome!

And Sweet Sally was tall, so slender Robert could put his hands around her waist and touch his fingertips. In her wedding dress, she looked like a queen.

The funniest of their wedding pics was when Sally threw her bouquet. Sally’s sister and I are going for those flowers! Her sister was about twenty, and I was ten, going on eleven.

I’m not sure who caught the toss. I think the sister did–but she played dirty. 😉 (Just kidding.)

It was a bitter-sweet reunion. I’m hoping we can have a real one before someone else dies.

And I’m looking forward to that reunion we’ll have in the sweet by-and-by!

I always enjoy learning things about myself. Here’s what I learned on this trip–

  • I like sleeping in my own bed.
  • If there’s food, I will eat. (Whether I’m hungry or not.)
  • I don’t get car sick. (I can read or knit and it doesn’t bother me.)
  • I love sleeping in my own bed.
  • Free breakfasts are fantastic–even if they aren’t really good.
  • I like traveling best when I’m asleep.
  • I’m not afraid of heights . . . I’m terrified.
  • I adore sleeping in my own bed.



Back In The Day

Comments made in the year 1955!

‘I’ll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, it’s going to be impossible to buy a week’s groceries for $10.00. ‘

‘Have you seen the new cars coming out next year?  It won’t be long before $1,000.00 will only buy a used one.’

‘If cigarettes keep going up in price,I’m going to quit; 20 cents apack is ridiculous. ‘

Did you hear the postoffice is thinking about charging 7 cents just to mail a letter.’

‘If they raise the minimum wage to$1.00, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store.’

‘When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 25 cents a gallon. Guess we’d be better off leaving the car in the garage.’

‘I’m afraid to send my kids to the movies any more.  Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying DAMN in ‘GONE WITH THE WIND’, it seems every new movie has either HELL or DAMN in it.’

‘I read the other day where some scientist thinks it’s possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas.’

 ‘Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $50,000a year just to play ball? It wouldn’t surprise me if someday they’ll be making more than the President. ‘

‘I never thought I’d see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric.  They are even making electric typewriters now. ‘

‘It’s too bad things are so tough now adays.  I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet. ‘

‘It won’t be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work.’

‘I’m afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business.’

‘Thank goodness I won’t live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes.  I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to government.’

‘The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on.’

‘There is no sense going on short trips anymore for a weekend.  It costs nearly $2.00 a night to stay in a hotel.’

‘No one can afford to be sick anymore. At $15.00 a day in the hospital, it’s too rich for my blood.’

‘If they think I’ll pay 30 cents for ahair cut, forget it.’

*  *  *

This was in an email from Cathy Barkley, friend extraordinaire, hotel finder and brave soul.

Thanks for being there when ever I need you. You’re a great sister/friend. Love you!





Out and About

I’m gone! Not really. I’m just in a different spot for a few days.

One of my sweet aunt’s died, so I’m state challenged. 🙂 I’ll try to check in and share some of the fun we had getting out here. (Oy!)

Please pop over to Writingsluts if you have an extra moment. I wrote a blog last week that’s hanging out over there.

I’ll be back . . .

Leave a comment

Mad Dashes and Sign Language

Eifle Tower in Las Vegas

Eifle Tower in Las Vegas (Photo credit: Jeff Hill Photo)

So how organized are you when you go on vacation?

I think I missed the organized gene. Being a girl who loves surprises (well, good ones) I’ve always enjoyed just flying by the seat of my pants.

G-Man is just the opposite. He makes lists, lays out what he’s taking and packs very methodically. He’s so thorough, we always have everything except his recliner in our bags. He never has a reason to make a mad dash to a pharmacy or Wally World.

Might as well stay home.

More and more lately, though, I find I don’t remember some things and have to make too many dashes to the oops store for oopsers who don’t make packing lists. (Or even oopsier oopsers who make lists and lose them before they pack.)

I don’t believe oldtimers is setting in (I could have forgotten if it is, right?) I have to believe it’s because I’m expecting my brain to store more and more lists these days. I just neglect going to check my lists. 🙂

So this morning, I thought I’d see what there is on the web in the way of packing lists–and I found a ton. They can be as specific as you want, depending on where you’re vacationing. If you’re going to a beach, put it in your search engine. Moutains? Yes, they have that, too.

They even have packing lists that’ll have you covered if you’re leaving the country. There’s nothing worse than being in a foreign land and not being able to say, “Ibuprofen” in that language because you forgot your English-Foreign Language Book. (I know you can find it on your i-Phone, but do you know what it costs to use an i-Phone in a foreign country?)

Unless you’re good at sign language. 🙂 I’m really good at SL.

When I was a kid, I went to Europe with my Fashion Merchandising school. A couple of my friends went along, and one told me over and over, “When we get to France, I’ll interpret for us. I’ve had four years of French, so we’re covered.”

We got there, and everyone wanted to send home postcards of the Eifel Tower, so we went to Le Drugstore. (Yep, that was the name.) My friend was in front of me, so I watched while in what I assume was perfect high school French, she asked for air mail stamps.

The woman working at Le Drugstore just looked puzzled and shook her head. My friend struggled for five minutes to make her understand, but the woman couldn’t. (Or wouldn’t.) Finally my friend gave up and moved over a step.

I stepped up to the clerk and said, “I want two.” (I held up two fingers.) “Airmail.” (I held my arms out like an airplane and made flying noises.) “Stamps.” (I held out my left hand, palm up, made a fist of my right hand, licked my right thumb and smacked it in the center of my left palm.)

The clerk handed me the stamps. 🙂 I wasn’t smooth, but I got my stamps. LOL.

How about it? Are you an organized traveler or not? Or maybe I should ask, do you enjoy an occasional mad dashes and sign language.

Leave a comment

Tire Jewelry Anyone?

Did your mama ever tell you, “You’re gonna drive those wheels right off your car”? Well, guess what. I did. :)Not literally, but I tried. I drove one of my tires until it was almost bald.

I hadn’t noticed, and one day MS said, “Mom, you need a new tire.”

I thought,What’s he doing, examining my tires?  but answered like the sweet mama I am, “Oookay, thanks.” I really wasn’t thrilled about needing a tire. I mean, honestly. Who notices tires? So why spend all that money on something no one sees?

That is, until G-Man said, “We’re going to have to get a new tire before we can go to T-Town again.” Ack!!!

(Big sigh.) Tires all look alike–unless they’re flat or have a big hole in them or cables sticking out. Right? And they’re only available in black. I remember seeing black and white ones when I was a kid, but these days it’s B. O. (Black only.)

They don’t come in colors that coordinate with your car. No pictures. Nothing with bling. No sparkle, no shine.

You can’t even get tire jewelry to dress them up, except for yucky chains in winter, and you can only use them when there’s snow and/or ice on the ground.

There’s only plain, ugly, round tires that smell funky. (Anybody stepping in that with me?)

Wow. Imagine how far the shoe industry would have come if the only color shoes came in was black and the big difference was the name on the side–and how big a bank loan you had to have to get them.

Not only is it a pain in the bank book to buy plain, black tires, it takes for-ev-ver! for-ev-ver! for-ev-ver! (Name that movie.) to get them mounted and put back on the car. Oh, yeah, I know they put them up on the rack (snort) and take the wheels off, then swap out the tires, but hello? I’ve had babies in less time than it takes to do that.

After I paid yesterday, my car didn’t come back for a long time. I finally told the woman I gave my check to that if the tire guy had stolen my car and run off to Mexico with the woman from the Gas ‘n’ Go nearby, I might just stop payment on that check–if it didn’t bounce first.

If anyone decides to try out my idea of tire jewelry (I’m thinking a single row of rhinestones to start and we can build from there) let me know. I’d love to sparkle while I roll.