Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Keep Me in Stitches

One of my absolute favorite things in the world is quilts. Don’t you love them?

When my father-in-law remarried after G-Man’s mother died, his wife and her sister were into making quilts. It didn’t take her long to figure out how much I liked them, so she made one for Baby Boy.

 Isn’t this adorable? I love it. It was kind of big to wrap Buggy in, so I hung it on the wall.

I love that they took the time to finish it with Prairie Points.

I like old quilts even more than new ones. This one belonged to my Grandmother. She gave it to me when I lived in Pryor Creek.

One of my boys got a virus not long after I got it, and nothing made him feel better except wrapping up in this quilt. It really is kind of like a hug from home. You know?

Grandmother told me her mother (Grandma Mitchell) made it for her when she was first married in about 1922. How cool is that?

 This is a crazy quilt my mom used to pad some furniture because nobody wanted the quilt. My Grandma Reeves’s mother-in-law made it and gave it to her  when she was a newly wed.

Same quilt, just turned to another part. It’s not a cozy comfortable quilt. Not like a hug from home, but I love it.

To be VERY honest, I don’t remember where I got this one. I believe one of my sisters who loves me a ton gave it to me. Lots of people would rather not have a quilt that’s tied instead of quilted, but I love them.


I’ve even made a few small pieces. A pink baby quilt I made for my baby girl, who turned out not to be a girl, so it became a wall hanging. I’m not sure where it is right now, but it had heart squares–all different kinds of heart squares. (I’ve never made an appliqued quilt. I like piecing them.)

I made this star square. It started out to be a toilet seat cover, but I couldn’t quite figure that out, so I changed it to a wall hanging.

This is a sailboat. Can you tell? I made it, too. 🙂

And I saw a picture of this one in a book, and I wanted it. So I figured out how and made it, too.

Yes, they’re all wall hangings. A baby quilt is the biggest thing I’ve ever made. But the ones I made are hand quilted by moi. Impressed? LOL.

One of my two absolute all time favorites is this one. Grandma Reeves’s sister and mother made for her when she married Granddad. It’s a double wedding ring quilt.

Grandma and Granddad were married about 64 years. The quilt is old and stained and faded and has a hole worn in it because she said with all her kids (seven of them) she had to use everything in the house to keep them warm.

This beautiful quilt hangs above my bed.

For inspiration.

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Good morning! I wrote the following for the Smart Women blog I’m part of and thought I’d share it with you, here.

Hope you have a great weekend!

I’m stuck for something to write about today, which is a surprise for me since it doesn’t happen often. I blogged only once this week at  Small Town World , where I normally blog three times without fail. 😦

Why the problem? I’m consumed with a new project. I’m not sure if anyone else’s brain works like mine, but when I have a new exciting-for-me project, it’s all I think about. Where my characters are going next. How I’m going to take it there. How the writer I-wanna-be-when-I-grow-up would structure the project, and can I make that work for me?

I forget to go to the grocery store. I don’t notice when it’s time to go to work. I can’t get to my Small World to say hi. (Hi!!!)

It causes a little snarl in relationships, too. Someone talks to me, but I’m rereading the last few lines I’ve written, and I don’t hear what was said until the last words. For some reason, that someone gets a little irritated the third time I ask him to repeat. (Go figure.)

I’m watching TV with my man, he comments on what’s just been said and I have to find the rewind button because somehow my laptop is in front of me and I’m seeing Colorado, not the news. Or the weather. Or the movie I wanted to see.

Or I’m at work with something vital on my desk, and instead of hammering the thing out, I’m plotting in my mind.

Cousin: “Do you have a total on the open invoices you’re sending out today?”

Me: Gasp. “Am I paying bills today?”

In order to continue to live a semi-normal life while I’m in this mode, I have to resort to things like making lists. Getting people to call me when it’s time to get ready for work. And making lists.

I even use the list AP on my phone. Added a couple, too. 🙂 Now I’m either going to have to put an alarm clock where I write or learn to use the alarm on my phone with a really discordant tone.

So . . . can anyone help me? When you get over-powered by a project, and you’re loving it, how do you make things work in your real life?

If you’ll share with me, I’ll make a list. And I’ll try to remember where it is. 🙂

Related articles


Car Entertainment

I get a thrill every time I get in my car.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but when I listen to the radio, my favorite stations to listen to don’t play music. (Yes. I’m weird.)

I like to hear people talk. Talk radio–Christian talk radio–is what I’ve tuned to for years.

Okay, yes. I listen to the great old songs sometimes, but that’s not what I like best.

Recently, I was turning the dial, looking for G-Man’s fave (R & B) when I noticed something intriguing. A station called, “Radio Classics.”

Now, I’m not old enough to remember the time before TV. (Really, I’m not!) But I remember my parents and grandparents talking about old radio shows. Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour have all entertained me while I drive.

Road to Bali

Bob, Bing and Dorothy told the story about the Road to Hollywood. (At the end they were waiting tables and working in gas stations.)

They’re funny!

I’ve heard Fibber McGee (He opened his closet door and had an avalanche) Dragnet, Johnny Dollar and Charlie McCarthy. Oh, and The Shadow!

And I heard GUNSMOKE! Great story. (Matt told the bad guys at the end that if he wasn’t the marshal, he’d beat them with his gun.) You know who played Matt on the radio? William Conrad! Remember him? He played Cannon on CBS in the ’70’s.

Radio’s Gunsmoke

Not my idea of Matt Dillon, visually. But when it’s on the radio, YOU get to decide how the characters look. 🙂 I like that!

I almost got to hear HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL. Did you ever see that TV show? (It’s on Encore Westerns sometimes.) The TV show starred Richard Boone and was about a hired gun who, in his non-professional life, was a highly educated gentleman. The show was on CBS from 1957 until 1963.


BUT it was also a radio show that ran from 1958 until 1960. HGWT was one of the few shows that was on TV first, then was adapted to radio.

If you have pay=to-play radio, check it out. Very entertaining!

BTW: The pictures used here are all from Wikipedia. Click on the title underneath the photo for copyright and fairuse information.


Hairy Beast

Mexican Redknee Tarantula.

This is a Wikipedia pic. It’s not me!

Back in the day before we had kids, G-Man and I lived out on one of the family ranches in a house with a screened-in patio. There was no door on the space, just a hole where the door had been.

The patio opened off our bedroom through a sliding glass door. I loved filling the area with plants in the spring and summertime. There was a “shelf” (actually, support for the screening) that went all the way around for holding my smaller plants. The big ones I set on the concrete floor.

Because my man was working 24 hour call at that time, I was home alone a lot. I spent a lot of time working on my plants, cleaning the space and dreaming about how I’d change it if I could.

One day I was out there, sweeping and watering, when I heard footsteps. Naturally, I turned to if a cow had found a way into the yard (again) or if someone was out there, working cattle.


It was a brand new visitor.

Now Dad had taught us girls that tarantulas weren’t critters to be feared. He used to pick them up and say hello whenever we came across one. But for some reason, having a hairy spider that was bigger than a coffee cup stomping around my patio unnerved me.

He was between the open doorway and me, so I grabbed my broom. Straw end down, I smacked at him. I wasn’t trying to hit him. (I was afraid he’d break the straw.) I just wanted to shoo him toward the door.

Instead of shooing, he jumped over the broom (!) and chased me. Being a very sensible woman, I screamed, threw down the broom, ran into the house, slammed AND LOCKED the sliding glass door.

That giant spider picked up my broom and broke it right over his knee. 😉

When G-Man came home that evening, I told him about the bully spider chasing me around our patio. “Kill it!” I demanded.

G-Man listened quietly, went into the kitchen and found a clean jar, then walked back through the house and out to the patio. I hoped the mean spider was gone.

After Gary moved the pieces of broom left after the tarantula got through with it, he looked around. Naturally, I hoped Mr. Tula had gone home, because I didn’t want to have to call 9-1-1 and tell them my husband had been beaten up by a spider.

But no. The hairy beast was still there, waiting on Gary like one gunfighter waits on the other.

“Never mind!” I yelled through the firmly closed glass door. “Just leave him there. I can get more plants.”

They both ignored me.

I squealed, “Eeeeeeeeeewwwwww. . . ” Gary stooped and put the jar in front of the tarantula, who calmly walked right in.

When G-Man had a little piece of cardboard covering the jar’s mouth, I opened the door. “Are you going to pour gas on it and burn it?”

G-Man gave me a look. “He won’t hurt you.”

“He CHASED me,” I argued.

“Well, you might hurt yourself, but he won’t hurt you.” He watched the monster inside the jar as if he thought he was interesting. Ew, again.

I stood way back. “You’re going to turn him loose in the yard, aren’t you?”

“Yeah. They just eat other bugs and stuff.”

“Well, he won’t leave. We might as well name him before you turn him loose.”

“You name him.”

“Okay. He looks like an Irving to me.”

We saw Irving several times before we moved out of that house.

Irving came to see me again yesterday. He’s moved closer to town and was taking a stroll on the jogging track near C-Town. The poor guy is getting older now and not moving very fast.

He didn’t jump or play chase yesterday, but instead mosied along while we chatted. I tried to get him to hold hands while my walking buddy took our picture together, but he didn’t even want to do that.

He just wanted to get home to his bottle of Ibuprofen and a heating pad. I kind of wanted to do the same thing.

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Smoky Waters

One of my favorite things about living on Lake Keystone is, well, the lake. I love watching it and seeing the effect the seasons have on it.

I use it to keep track of where the sun comes up every morning. Is the sun over the lake? Must be summer. Sun in the trees but edging back toward the water? Spring’s here.

There’s a huge distance between where it comes up in the winter and in the summer. I learned that in school, but until we moved into this house I’d never actually marked it. I’m not sure if that’s because of my kitchen window is on the east (it was in Pryor Creek, too) or the fact that there aren’t any houses in the way.

We aren’t alone out in the country–we live in a neighborhood–but we’re the among the highest on the hill. The ones east and west of us are lower, so we have a great view of sunrises and sunsets.

    I love that!

A few years ago when we had an ice storm, the lake froze over completely. No, I didn’t skate on it. (I’ll tell you someday about the time I tried ice skating.)

And I didn’t talk G-Man into borrowing a Volkswagen and cutting donuts on it. (He tells a story about someone he went to high school with doing that.) I tried to talk him into it, but he wouldn’t. 🙂

After a big thunder storm or lots of rain, there’s usually lots of driftwood floating on the lake.

My favorite time to watch the lake, though, is when there’s fog rolling across it. I don’t know if you can see what looks like a cloud bank on the far side of the water, but it was gorgeous! Makes me think of that Deep Purple song


I was going to share the rest of the lyrics


But they aren’t that good. The music’s great, though!

♪♫ SMOKE ON THE WATER . . .  ♪♫

See for yourself–


Happy October!

October is one of my favorite months of the world! Let me tell you why. (Knew I would, didn’t you?)

  • First, Middle Son Matt was born in October. The adorable child grew up to be a very nice, good looking, responsible guy. (A mom can’t ask for more than that.)

It’s party time!

  • The weather’s MUCH better. It’s not hot, anymore. No more three digit temps. No more sweat on my brow the moment I step out of the air conditioning. Lower air conditioner bills. And we get a little rain. (I remember once when it snowed on Halloween!)

Leaves! If the trees have any left, they change to gorgeous colors. Oranges and golds and beautiful reds. And there’s something inside me that wants to observe and enjoy and record all of it.

  • Apples. Yep, apples. I. Love. Them. Love the tart sweetness, the crunchiness and the millions of dishes that can be made with apples. No way I can name them all, but I love them fried for breakfast, baked in Tuela’s Fresh Apple Cake OR an apple pie, carameled (is that a word?) as well as juiced, warmed and mixed with spices.

Pumkins, pumkins, pumpkins! And gourds. Have you noticed how many varieties there are for sale anymore? From tiny to huge, dark orange to white and there are even some I call Monsterkins–kind of misshapen and covered with warts.

And finally (although I could probably come up with hundreds of things I love about October) I love Opals. That’s October’s birthstone, and I think they’re beautiful.

Next time I’m in Austrailia, I’ll see if I can pick up a few. 🙂

  What’s your favorite thing about October? The sports? Halloween? I’d love to know.