Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Bucket Listing

Like most people, I have a “bucket list” of places I’d like to visit. On that list are all the places we learned about in American History. (I like History? Who knew? Probably not my teachers. LOL.)

Many of the places I’d love to see are east of Okie World. I’ve driven past many of those places, but didn’t actually stop. Why???

Well . . . (Clears throat.)

Once upon a time, back in the dark ages when G-Man and I only had one child, we flew to Rhode Island, because we were going to “bobtail” a truck back to Oklahoma.

Do you know how long it takes to get to Rhode Island from Okie Land?





Just the flight to New York City seemed like a thousand years, but then to get to RI, we had to take a “puddle jumper.” Ever been in a puddle jumper? Well, there’s room for about 16 people, including the pilot. Okay, maybe 30, but not many more. It’s one seat on one side of the aisle and two on the other. Or maybe it was just one on each side of the aisle. But the plane was so small, they couldn’t close the door to the pilots’ seats.

To be very honest, I don’t remember, exactly. (I’ve tried to delete the memory from my mind.)

After we leapt over a couple of puddles, we made it to Rhode Island and the place where we were to pick up the truck we were buying. I wrestled our single suitcase into the cab, scaled the monster (I was afraid I’d need a ladder to get in) and planted myself in the bench seat to wait for G-Man while he finished up inside.


This map is kind of small, but it shows where we went. Rhode Island is A. It’s one of those little states up there by America’s nose. 😉 C-Town is B.

According to Google Maps, it’s 1556 miles from RI to OK, and should take 23 hours to drive. Took us three days.

Why did it take so long, you ask?

It started with us going right through NYC, through the tunnels and over the bridges you see on TV in the cop shows instead of trucking it through White Plains. After that we were on the New Jersey Turnpike. Wall-to-wall vehicles, five o’clock in the afternoon (or there about) and it gridlocked. Shutdown. Nobody moved faster than about one mile an hour.

And I needed to potty. (Yeah, TMI. I know. But I still remember the pain after all these years!)

I know at least one person reading this has at some time ridden in the cab of a big rig and not had a trailer on behind. That’s bobtailing. And it’s ROUGH. Too rough to read, to rough to knit, and too loud to talk. Much. LOL.

Turned out, I was pregnant at the time, but didn’t know it yet. (Surprise!)

We spent the first night in New Jersey. If you look on the map, it’s practically next door to Rhode Island, but the universe had time to expand in that long day!

Did I mention it was winter? Snow covered the ground, and we saw several wrecks. When one of the wrecks included a big rig, it was usually on its side, the trailer broken open long ways and whatever it hauled was spilled out all over the road.

We made it all the way through Pennsylvania, where a lot of those places on my bucket list are.  That’s where America’s first capital was. Our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence there. Betsy Ross lived in that neighborhood. Valley Forge is somewhere around there. (Isn’t it?) And I think Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware was around there.

Old Bedford Village is there. (I wanted to stop at Old Bedford so badly on that trip. And not just for the bathroom!)

American Bandstand and Dick Clark were there!!! Philadelphia is where so many of the great singing groups from the ’50’s got their start.

I think I’m moving Pennsylvania to the top of my Bucket List. 🙂

BTW: We finally did make it home, but I’ve never again volunteered to go with G-Man to bobtail a truck anywhere. And I doubt I ever would . . . unless he asked me. 🙂


Even If You Can’t Swim

I have a new hero. Her name was Irena Sendlerowa, better known as Irena Sendler. She died in 2008 at the age of 98, but that’s not the reason she’s my new hero. (Although I’m hoping to emulate her in that respect.)

Here’s why she’s my hero–


I read this on Facebook:

During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a plumbing/sewer specialist.
She had an ‘ulterior motive’.

She KNEW what the Nazi’s plans were for the Jews (being German). Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and she carried in the back of her truck a burlap sack, (for larger kids).  She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.  The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.  She was caught, and the Nazi’s broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard.

After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.
Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She didn’t win.

So naturally, I went to  Snopes to see if they were telling the truth. I hate it when I read something as exciting as that and then find out it’s not true.

Don’t you?

Read it here on Snopes.

I did a Google search and found a website that told about a group of Kansas high school students had researched her life and written a play about her. (I had trouble telling G-Man about Irena–couldn’t talk for crying. I’m not sure how they could get through the play without crying their eyes out.)

From Wikipedia:

In 1999, a group of Kansas high school students discovered Irena’s story and wrote a play about her called, Life in a Jar. The play is still being performed all over the United States. It has since been adapted to television as The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler.[19][20][21] Actress Anna Paquin plays the role of Irena.

Sendler’s story was largely unknown to the world until the students developed The Irena Sendler Project,[22][23] producing their performance Life in a Jar. This student-produced drama has now been performed over 285 times all across the United States, in Canada and in Poland. Sendler’s message of love and respect has grown through the performances, over 1,500 media stories, a student-developed website with 30,000,000 hits, a national teaching award in Poland and the United States, and an educational foundation, the Lowell Milken Education Center, to make Sendler’s story known to the world.

Life in a Jar continues to travel around the country[24] sharing Irena’s story.

According to the website telling about the play, Life in a Jar, Irena’s father was a physician who contacted typhus working with patients during an epidemic.

While he was dying, he told seven-year-old Irena, “If you see someone drowning, you must try to save them, even if you can’t swim.” He died right after that, but the little girl never forgot his actions or his words. He gave his life for others.

She lived her life for others. (Sound like anyone you know?)

If I were a teacher, I’d see if I could find The Courage Life of Irena Sendler and I’d show it to every child in every class I taught.

In this day when so many parents are busy, trying to keep their heads above water, sometimes they forget to tell their kids the things they need to know. That leaves the people who teach them and spend time with them each day to set the example. Tell them the things their parents don’t, even if they can’t put always put it in words.

This play might be a way.

Wonder if we could get Life in a Jar to come to C-Town?

Gotta go dry my eyes now.



Take a Guess

Know what this is?

grandmother'sIt’s part of something that hangs on the wall in my bathroom, right above the towel rack. Guess quick, because I’m going to tell/show you in just a moment. 🙂

Now, I’m not a person friends flock to for help decorating their homes. My house doesn’t even come close to looking like the display area of a design shop.

I like to blame that on the fact that G-Man thinks he should have some say in our decorating. His idea of a perfect wall used to be this–

grand-wallNo holes to be filled, no scratches to be fixed, no paint to be redone. Over the years together, we’ve melded our tastes. A little. 🙂

The sort of thing I like usually belonged to someone else a long time ago.  And if it belonged to someone I knew, so much the better!

For instance.grandma's-mirror-2 This used to belong to my grandma. It was on her vanity table, which was in her bedroom all the years I can remember. Now it hangs in my little bathroom downstairs. (The rest of the vanity used to be in my entryway, but is in a bedroom now.)

Even though the reflective stuff on the back of the mirror isn’t in really good shape, it makes me feel good to know I’m looking in the same mirror Eva looked in for years and years.

Back to the picture at the top. Through guessing? Read on.

One day, I went shopping with my sweet friend Marilyn and I saw something that caught my fancy.

grandmother's-iron-rose It quickly learned my name.


And it called me back to that side of the store, again and again.




And the kicker?


It was on sale! (Can anyone resist a half-price sale???)

Well, I can’t. So I bought it and toted it home, feeling a little silly. After all, it was just a piece of wrought iron, like Grandmother had on her porch. Sigh. Now what?

I thought about using it in my garden or hanging it on my porch. Somehow, that just didn’t work for me. 😦

So I set it in an out-of-the-way place in my house and left it for several months. Then one day, I got tired of two things–tripping over the wrought iron and the empty spot over my downstairs towel rack.

Putting two and two together, I got an answer.

Why not hang this gorgeous piece of iron up there? There was already a nail in the wall, so I didn’t have to worry about finding a stud.

I could hang it myself!

grandmother's-wrought-iron I liked it, but it looked a little bare. What to do? What to do?

After a few days of looking at the bare metal, I got another idea. I garden each spring until it gets too hot and the weeds get the run of the place, and sometimes I dry the flowers I grow. Why not hang some of the flowers I’d dried from it?

I liked that a lot!

Then Christmas came, and I got a new idea.

grandmother's-christmas I took some of the ornaments I’d put old pictures in and hung them from the iron. I like it so much, I left it up for a whole year!

grandmother-christmas-2But even that got old after a while. Time for a change. Back to flowers.

grand's-hydies-2This time, instead of dried roses and lavender,

grands-hydie's-3I used hydrangeas.


But even with dried hydies, it looked a little sparse.


Naturally, I grabbed these cute little birdhouses I’d hung on my Christmas tree.


They’re rusty little things, and I love them!

grands-hydies-5I know, they’d probably look better if they were hung with brown velvet ribbon instead of that wire, but I kind of like the wire.

And Sister Debbie–the answer is yes. I still want wrought iron that came off Grandmother’s porch. All I’ll have to do is figure out how to cut it apart and we can have these beauties all over the house.

So how about you? Do you get someone to decorate for you or do you enjoy finding goodies and doing the “work” yourself?





I asked Beth (my book winner) for her favorite recipe, and she responded right away with this link to Kraft!

Here’s what it says:

1-3/4 cups  flour
1 pkg.  (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
1 Tbsp.  CALUMET Baking Powder
2 tsp.  pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp.  baking soda
1/2 cup  butter, melted
1 cup  sugar
1 can  (15 oz.) pumpkin
2 eggs
1/3 cup  chopped PLANTERS Walnuts

Make It

HEAT oven to 350ºF.

MIX flour, dry pudding mix, baking powder, spice and baking soda; set aside.

WHISK butter, sugar and pumpkin in large bowl.  Blend in eggs.  Add flour mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Pour into 8×4-inch loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray; top with nuts.

BAKE 1 hour to 1 hour 5 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, covering loosely with foil for the last 20 min.  Cool bread in pan 10 min.  Remove from pan to wire rack; cool completely.

Kraft Kitchens Tips

Special Extra
Slice the bread loaf, then spread with softened PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese.  If desired, you can heat the  bread slices in the microwave before spreading with the cream cheese.
Instead of sprinkling the nuts on top of the batter in the pan, you can stir them into the batter before pouring the batter into the pan. Or, you can stir half the nuts into the batter and sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.
Pumpkin Pie Spice Substitute
No pumpkin pie spice on hand?  No problem!  Here’s an easy way to make your own.  For each 1 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice needed, just combine 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground ginger, 1/8 tsp. ground allspice and 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg.

Thank you, Beth AND Kraft!!!

1 Comment

Winner, Winner, But Not a Chicken Dinner


Congratulations, Beth of E. Lizard Breath Speaks blog won the drawing for my book.

I gave her a choice–


To School a Cowboy



Blind Sight

Beth chose Blind Sight. 🙂 I’ll be sending it to her today.

For those of you who are terribly disappointed because you didn’t win (That’s what all the wailing I hear is about. Right?) you can order my books (paperback or Kindle form) from The Wild Rose Press or from Amazon.

Okay, commercial over. 😉 More about Beth.

047_biggerThis picture is from Beth’s twitter page.

She from a Small Town World in Virginia, and loves to travel all over. Her blog is full of pictures of places she’s visited. She and her hubby of eight years love to take the scenic route through Small World America.

She and her husband love kayaking. That could makes me a tad jealous. Wouldn’t it be cool to vaca with a kayak and a camera to see how many streams and rivers you could get down?


She enjoys movies and reading and funny stories and decorating and baking and crafting and making people laugh.

She started blogging in order to “meet new folks, bloggers, people from Virginia. folks that I have something in common with–likes and dislikes.”

Beth writes, “my purpose … I really like folks to lighten up their lives … giggle, be silly & laugh. Not take things so seriously. I like to uplift (lift up) folks & make them smile. Life is so stressful normally I think blogging is meant for fun & entertainment. I do at times take on the serious side of things but I prefer the lighter side.”

I think we might be related. LOL.

Beth, I’ve enjoyed “meeting” you (and everyone who signed up for the contest.) Hope you enjoy Blind Sight!