Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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?

Grist Mill


Fall Tripping

Recognize this?

My favorite time to take a road trip is autumn. (Big surprise, huh?) We invited our kids and their honeys to join us over the weekend. (I had lofty dreams of taking family photos, too.) It didn’t work out the way I wanted.

#3 son had another commitment, #2 son couldn’t come until Saturday, and his wife couldn’t come at all, but #2 son and his wife were there. We had a great time!

I love hanging with someone who has great taste.

We saw some beautiful foliage. Have I mentioned I like fall leaves?




Most of you probably know, I’m talking about Wareagle. So many great ideas. So many I want thats! (So many, “I can do thats!”)

Wareagle developed around a grist mill. (That’s the water wheel that turns the millstone inside.) There’s a restaurant in the top of the mill, but we never get close to it during the craft fair. It’s much too crowded. After all, it’s been going on for 59 years!

It’s set in a gorgeous landscape. I love this river.

 There’s an old one-lane bridge that crosses it. The fair is on both sides, and so much fun!

Of course, there were a few things I thought were just too cute to ignore.

Anyone have a spare horseshoe I can borrow?

By the end of a day at Wareagle, I’m always exhausted. But by next year, I’ll be ready to go again. 😛

I’ve talked since the last time we went to Wareagle about the witch’s brooms nearly all the women (besides me) were carrying. G-Man insisted I buy one this time. (I’ll be adding a bat to fly nearby, and maybe a spider.) When we got it, he suggested I fly it to the car. 🙂

I told him I would, except we didn’t have a long enough extension cord.

I bought this doll from Polka Dot Pig. Trouble is, she doesn’t have a name.

 Want to help me name her?

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Best Gift Ever

When I think back over the years (and years AND YEARS) of Christmases that live in my memory, there’s one gift from my childhood that stands out with exclamation marks and sparkles.

I was probably ten years old at the time. I didn’t have anything big I really wanted for Christmas. Not that I had every toy, gadget and game in the world, but I had a bike and skates, and C-Town’s public library was full of great books to read. 

What could I ask for except another *stupid* doll. (With a house full of younger siblings, who needed a doll that couldn’t do anything but maybe cry crocodile tears and dampen its diaper?)

But I had a mother with a special insight into her kids–me at least. She knew I didn’t really enjoy dolls, although I never voiced it. I just didn’t play with them after I got them except to use them for target practice with my six shooters.

So she did me a great favor. She did something that unlocked a whole world for me, showed me there was more to life than what meets the naked eye, and drew a map to the impossible.

She gave me a microscope.  

It was a simple microscope with a built-in light and 3 strengths, the strongest being  maybe 1200. (Even children’s microscopes are much stronger than that now.) The gift came with several prepared slides and a few blank ones.

That evening Mom’s family came over for dinner and to share gifts, and while they were there, I got another memorable gift. I’m not talking about the hanky from Grandma or the little necklace from Aunt Betty (who really should have given me stretch pants. More on that one of these days.)

My cousin Buddy loved it when he heard I had the new ‘scope. (In high school, Buddy was an actor and wore taps on his shoes. If you read–or saw–The Outsiders by SE Hinton, that was Buddy’s generation set in the town where he lived.)

Buddy wanted me to know about just one of the things available to me with my new gift, so he poked his finger and bled on one of my blank slides so I could see the microscopic things in what I’d always thought was just a red liquid.   

But under the strong lens, I found there’s life in the blood!

Yeah, it’s still kind of gross, but that’s when that world of imagination opened up for me. If there was that kind of movement and goings on in one little drop of blood, what else was out there?

I tried looking at all kinds of things under that microscope. Dirty water. Plastic forks. Doll hair. Spit. Somethings were fascinating, others just a blob. Very slowly, though, I realized my best gift ever.

I don’t know if I was born with it or if my parents’ rubbed off on me. Maybe I’d been born with it and exercise developed it like a muscle. How I got it really doesn’t matter as long as I enjoy and employee it. 

My Imagination. My view into a world that isn’t there for anyone but me. A way of looking at things that doesn’t always make sense to anyone else.

And it’s wonderful.

How about giving us a gift today? You can share your best gift ever.

Ps: I don’t want to leave out the eternal gift that’s eternally better–Eternal Life.