Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


School’s Out, Summer’s Here!

School’s out in C-Town and (keep this a secret between you and me) I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Why? you ask. You don’t have kids still in school. Your g-kiddos are still yet to be. What difference does it make you if school is in session or out? 

Because, the kids in my life (that would be nieces, nephews, cousins’ kids, etc) come around a whole lot more when school’s out. And even if they don’t come to work, I get to hear about their exploits.

Wow. Do they have fun!

When I was a kid, we didn’t do a lot in the summer like people do now. The highlight of our normal summer week was walking to the Public Library to return/check out a book. And we swam. A lot. (LOVE that public pool!)

One of my most favorite things to do in the summer (or any time of year) was roller skate. I had two pairs of shoe skates growing up. The first pair didn’t use a skate key. It had leather that pulled across the toe and laced up to hold your foot to the skate. And while that worked, it was for babies. I wanted the real thing.


Skates with a key. My friends I skated with all had skates with a key, so finally Mom broke down and bought me a pair. (My baby skates got handed down to a younger sibling.) I was beyond thrilled! I was elated!!!


There were three of us girls who lived next to each other. Me, Susie Lunsford and Marsha Williams. We loved to skate. The trouble was, Marsha’s driveway sloped a bunch, so when we skated at her house we were mostly in the carport.

Susie’s driveway sloped quite a bit, but not as much.

Marsha Hagberg lived on up the street and had a really steep driveway. Her family owned Ben Franklin, so I’m sure she had the best skates of all. 🙂

My driveway was perfectly flat, but Mom had the cement guys put a broom finish on it so when it was wet, nobody slipped, but that made it really hard to skate on. If you fell, look out! You’d need a whole box of Band-Aids to cover the damage.

We had a couple of sidewalks that were good for skating, and after my grandparents built next door, one that sloped down to their driveway. That surface was p-e-r-f-e-c-t! Smooth and wide with two more sidewalks to zoom along. We had hours and hours of free fun there.

Kids today have never heard of shoe skates or skate keys, but we had a gas!

Do you remember shoe skates? What did you do in the summer to stay entertained?


Memorial Day at Old Mannford Ramp

This is a reblog from five years ago. Much has changed in those five years–kids married, friends passed, books published, a new hip–but memories remain the same. Maybe that’s the good thing about remembering. That’s the one thing in life that remains constant–as long as I don’t compare mine with someone else’s who was at the scene. LOL!

♥ ♥ ♥

5/24/2008– Whenever I think of Memorial Day, I think of the year I was pregnant with our first son (btw: that was 1977.) My DH had wanted a sailboat for sometime, so we finally bought one. A twenty foot Daysailer with a cuddy cabin. (You can see a picture of them here.)

Memorial Day dawned beautiful. The sky was brilliant blue with only a crown of clouds around the horizon. We went to his parents for lunch, then took out the boat. His parents and younger brother decided to go with us. His parents didn’t want to go in the boat so they stayed on shore. After insisting he wear a bright orange life jacket, Younger Brother, DH and I loaded up and took off.

New: We went to Old Mannford Ramp, which is no long open on Keystone Lake. While we were there, I pointed out the place where I’d lived as a little girl as well as the tree I could never climb because the branches started way too high.

I didn’t know that where we put the boat in was the same area where my parent had swum as kids, many years before that and very near the place where my mom had lived.

We went to the end of the area we were in. (I think it was near where that bridge was that scared me so much, the one we had to cross to go see Janie and Sally.)  We were turning around to sail back past his parents so we could wave at them when the wind died. And when I say died, I mean D-I-E-D. There wasn’t a breath of a breeze anywhere. It felt as if we’d all donned heavy wool coats.

“It’s hot!” YB complained. “Can I take off my life jacket?”

“No!” DH and I both answered.

Luckily, there’s a law that you must have a paddle in the boat, so DH, at the back of the boat, started working our way toward home.

That’s when I heard a distant roar. I had no idea what it was, but it scared me to death. “Can you hear that?”

“Hear what?” DH wasn’t in a really good mood with sweat pouring into his eyes.

“That sound. It like a great big wind, heading our way.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

“It’s either a great big wind or someone is riding a motor cycle down the middle of the lake!” I snapped.

Before he could answer me, the wind caught up with us. It filled the sail and the jib, and before we could catch our breaths, tilted the boat high on its edge. I sat close to the cuddy cabin on the low side, and when I glanced at YB to see that he was okay, I saw him bail off the high side into the stormy lake.

Then we capsized. I grabbed the two loose life jackets and put one under each arm to keep them from being washed away.

YB swam up close to me and grabbed the end of the boat. DH worked hard to pull himself onto the top of the bottom of the boat. While he was pulling himself up, YB said, “Quick, Susan, take this.”

“This” was the rudder–which is solid iron and acted like an anchor in my hand, weighing me down so low, I could barely keep  my nose above water.

Then DH said, “Hand me one of those life jackets, Susan. I’ll put it on.”

I started scissor kicking hard to keep the water out of my mouth. “I can’t. I’m holding the rudder. If I give you a life jacket, I’ll go to bottom.”

“Why are you holding the rudder?” 

I was a little irritated. “Because your brother pulled it out and I didn’t want to have to buy another one.”

He looked down from his safe spot. “Okay. Hand it to me.”

“Hand it to you? How? I can barely keep it where it is. I sure can’t lift it.”

Oh.” Getting on one knee, he reached down and took the rudder, placing it next to him. “You all get up here.”

YB climbed up and sat on the sloping portion, then we looked toward shore. DH’s mother was running up and down the beach as if she thought we were going to be swept out to sea at any moment. (Oklahoma is a long way from the sea, but that didn’t enter her mind. Her baby was in trouble.)

His father found someone who had a boat with an engine and sent them out to rescue us. But the waves were so high and the wind so bad, each time they got close, they almost landed on top of us. They had to give up.

In a while a man with long hair, wearing only a pair of cutoffs and carrying an empty gallon milk carton came wading into the lake, then swam toward us.

“Go back! Go back!” DH yelled.

The guy ignored him. When he got there, he told us he was with lake rescue.

“What’s the milk carton for?” I asked.

“It’s to tie to the mast in case we have to drop it.”

He told DH to get off the boat, go underneath and break the mast over. DH went under, but it took him so long to find the mast and do the necessary adjustments in the dark, the stranger thought he was going to have to rescue him.

DH finally popped back out, safe and sound. With the mast now hinged instead of fixed, the wind was able to blow the boat onto its side. We easily pushed it to shore.

A bit upset (and in my first trimester of pregnancy) I got in the truck and let DH and his dad load up.

Although we still own it, we only went out on that boat one more time. It was a Fourth of July when the wind blew so hard, it forced us against the rocks under the railroad trestle. Unwilling to chance capsizing again, I whistled down a passing boat (yep, I got the big whistle gene in this fam) and got us a tow back to shore.

What are your favorite Memorial Day memories? Sprucing up the cemetery with your grandparents when you were a kid? Going on picnics with your families? Vacations that span the weekend? Or for you, was Memorial Day just a day to catch up on yard work?



Me? Mother of the Year?(snort)

Happy Mother's Day

So for our Mother’s Day celebration we met all the kids at Kilkenny’s for dinner. Yeah, one of my favorite restaurants, and since I didn’t want to clean and cook and no one else did either, perfect idea!

While we were there, I decided we should play Happy Mama Memories. You know, where the kids are supposed to remember really sweet things I did for them as kids?

  • The Halloween costumes I created for them, sewing late into the night.
  • The time I saved Brad’s life by realizing he had appendicitis and rushing him (by myself!) to the hospital in Tulsa.
  • The time I insisted we take Matt to a plastic surgeon rather than let the doc in our Small Town World stitch up his lip with a fish hook and baling twine. (Okay, slight exaggeration, but you get my drift. 🙂 )

Did that happen? Uh . . . nope.

My kids took it a step farther, as usual, and played Mom’s Most Embarrassing Moments, blow by blow.

  • Such as the time the neighborhood crazy woman decided she wanted to whack me with a shovel, and I walked myself out where she stood (with her big-mama shovel) and said go for it.
  • And the time I went nose to nose with one of my kids assistant soccer coach who didn’t go to any of the practices, but thought he should yell louder than the real coach and tell the kids what to do (even though they had no idea what he was talking about because he wasn’t at the practices.)

Coach Wannabe: “Just because I can’t make the practices, does that mean I can’t be part of the team?”

Mean Mommy Susan: “Yes!”

Coach Wannabe putting on a big whine: “Well, that’s not fair.”


Our party took a good hitch after that. #1 DIL told us when she started feeling loved by the family–When she told us she’d spewed all over my bathroom, and I answered, “No problem.”

I LIKED that one. 🙂

Okay, nobody ever will offered me the Mother of the Year Award, but I love the stuffings out of my babies, which surprised me and my mother. (I was so not a little girl who liked dolls!)

And I love the stuffings out of them and their wives now, even though they know where all the bodies are buried. (And don’t mind talking about it.)


Catchin’ Up

How was your week?

Mine was busy, busy, busy!

I was at the conference last weekend, which means doing this week what didn’t get done last weekend. You know, all those pesky little things like laundry. And watering and feeding, etc.

And I’ve been trying to write twenty hours a week, because Jodi Thomas promises that if you’ll write twenty hours a week, you’ll be a NYT best selling author. I’d love to put her to the test! (I’ll let you know if I work up to 20/week.)

Rhonda-and-JodiMy Publisher, Rhonda Penders, and Jodi Thomas.

And we had a shower for Niece Ashley, who’ll be having a baby girl sometime in June to go with her two foster/soon-to-be adopted daughters. (A household full of girls? Who’s ever heard the like?)



Since I’m not Sister Debbie, the super hospitable sister, I’ve not had a hand in many showers. I had a hard time figuring how many to plan for and how much food to make for that many. Here’s the prob: How many tea sammies will the average shower attendee consume? And how much stuff do I need to buy to make that many sammies? (Oh, the stress!)

Next time, I’ll use my number for RSVPs so I can be sure I’m stressed to THE MAX! (And I’ll try to remember how many sammies each recipe makes.) AND I’ll start planning my part of the food before the day prior to the party.

Yikes. That might have been my last shower.


And of course, we had Mother’s Day. Don’t you love get togethers when you don’t have to clean or cook? I do! And I love getting presents. (Yes! I cleaned up!!!)

I got a garden gift card (yay!) and a gorgeous necklace that echoes my heart (yay! yay!) AND a garden scooter. (When it gets here.) 🙂 I’m telling you, my kids know me.

We played a game I called, “Happy Mama Memories,” but it turned into “Let’s Embarrass Mama.” So much fun! (rolling my eyes.)

I made my kids happy by NOT taking my camera. So no pictures, but we had a ball.

More shower pics: