Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Cockle Shells, Silver Bells, and Pretty Maids . . .

I’m not Mary, I’m rarely contrary, but I’ve got a garden this year. Of sorts. (LOL) I’m fresh out of shells, bells and maids. 😦

Strawberry Pot

Strawberry Pot

Years ago when G-Man and I were first married we planted a HUGE garden. (And I had a beautiful, blistering sunburn for my first anniversary. Oh, the memories. 🙂  )

This grew out of the strawberry pot and into the bricks.

This grew out of the strawberry pot and into the bricks.

We raised green beans, beets, tomatoes, onions, peppers, okra. And squash. Six hundred tons of squash. I fixed it every way possible, then we started freezing it.

Sweet potato vine, Vincas, Pintas and Angels' Wings. (Sometimes I make up my own names.)

Sweet potato vine, Vincas, Pintas and Angels’ Wings. (Sometimes I make up my own names.)

In case you didn’t know, if you have a yard in Okieland, you have to have a garden. (I think it’s a law.)

Big pots take a lot of soil!

Big pots take a lot of soil!

I’ve learned a thing or two in the years since that first garden. Now remember, most people know more about gardening than I do. 🙂 But I’m sharing what I know.

Here’s what I’ve picked up on.

  • Life began in a garden. (Called Eden.)
  • Plant flowers. Lots of them. And a few veggies.
  • Only plant three squash or zucchini plants for each family of 357.
  • Don’t plant okra. (It gives you stickers.)
  • Don’t plant watermelon or cantaloupe unless you have plenty of room. (160 acres or so.)
We bought new pots last summer. Now they match!!

We bought new pots last summer. Now they match!!

  • Water, water, water. And then water some more.
  • Stay ahead of the weeds or they’ll eat everything you grow. (Or hide it, which amounts to the same thing.)
  • Lock your car during squash season. Just sayin’.

empty potMore! Dirt! Please!!!

If you look in the background of the above pic, you can see the pots that used to be on my deck. They have herbs in them and I love my herbs, so I moved them to the pond area. Now if I only had a pond.

I have a thing for watering cans.

I have a thing for watering cans.

So here it is, nearly the middle of June, and I’m just getting my pots planted. But they’re pretty, aren’t they? I have a few more plans, and I’ll let you in on them if I can get them done. And find enough soil.

Hope I don't murder them.

Hope I don’t murder them.


It’s In The Air!

Can you feel it? It’s in the air! It’s EVERYWHERE!!! (Or it will be.)


Friday, March 15, 2013, in C-Town, Oklahoma

  • Lo: 46° F
  • Hi: 83° F

Almost a record high! Woohoo!

As you know, I’m a fair-weather gardener. I like the temperature to be not too hot and not too cold when I’m out in the world of dirt and blooms. (And sticks and dead things.) I’m thinking today is The Day to get out and get my hands dirty!


Don’t you love flowers and gardens and things that make our lives more beautiful? (These are Columbine.) Don’t you hate weeds and grass and everything that grows where it’s not supposed to?

blue flowers_edited-1I’m getting excited. Do I work in the garden or head for the poor, neglected, abused pond?


I bought new pots last summer so at least some of my deck containers will match this year. And they aren’t plastic!

wild-blue-flowersAnd the new containers are blue!

pentas and blue flowers

I like blue. (Could you tell?)

eureka!-flowers!!!So . . . I think I might play hooky from work this afternoon and see how warm it really does get. (And how dirty I can get.)

How about you?

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

I love gardens and gardening. After all, Life began in a garden! (Not original, but true!)

To nourish that love, I took Omega to see Dad’s garden a couple of days ago. (G-Man was working on the chicken house, so naturally I jumped at the chance!)

The baby chicks are arriving today, so no chick pics. Yet. I’m hoping someone will get a few shots for me, because I won’t be there when they arrive.

While I was at Dad’s, I quickly found my way to the garden.

Oh. My.

Dad moved one of his mowers so Omega could get down the sidewalk and at least see the garden from a distance. I got a little closer, but didn’t trapse into it. He and his wife keep it well watered.

That might be why everything looks so good. The last frost date for this part of Okie-Land is April 15th. Just look at what they’ve been doing!

The furry looking stuff (upper right) is asparagus–about as high as my head. (They didn’t share any of the spears, in case you’re wondering.)

Their tomatoes are about shoulder high. Mine are still hanging around my knees, so I must be doing something wrong. (Go figure.)

Nice stand of corn. (I’m hoping to score a few ears.)

This is their lacy-leaf cabbage. It was HUGE! Honestly, it’s at least knee high. The stuff at the store would come just above my ankle. Those two are master gardeners!

They don’t just grow food, either. These are morning glories. (I remember mama growing morning glories at my first childhood home. Sweet memories!)

Dad didn’t know the name of this plant, but said it has big red blooms.

The lake view from their deck. Nice, huh?

They have a telescope that sits just inside so they can watch the bald eagles as they soar nearby. I told Dad I was thinking about building a house right next to his. He said, “You could just move into the chicken house.”

Now that’s an idea!

How does your garden grow?

Have any yummies you want to share?
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Sharing Grins

Here it is, Friday, again. How’s your week been? Good? Fan-flipping-tastic? 🙂

When you judge your week, how do you do it? One of my favorite friends and favorite writers, Marilyn Pappano, is probably judging her week by the number of pages she gets written. She’s under contract for about a gazillion books this year (yay!) so that’s important.

School kids are counting down to the end of school. They’re now in the single digits, making for a great week.

Dad judges his by the number of days until he gets his new/old chicken coop (more on that later) and by measuring the growth in his garden.

I like to judge my week by the number of things that made me grin.

Yeah, I know. Weird, right? I can’t help it. It’s the way my twig is bent.

This week at work, we had some really grinny days and some that were laugh out loud funny.

Deegan, the office ruler, keeps us all grinning.

He’s decided that Cousin Rick is the king of the world. It’s hard to get Deegan to walk past Rick’s door without going in for a visit, and to put on Rick’s hat. And Deegan demands that Rick take him outside to play in the back of his pickup several times a day.

I doubt if you can tell what this is, but it makes me grin every time I drive past it.

There. Is that any better? Someone who lives at the top of this hill has planted pink roses so they’ll grown down the side. Isn’t it gorgeous?

How did it happen?

Did someone plant a climbing rose and over fertilize it? Did they forget it was there and let it just go to town?

Or was someone just extra thoughtful? Maybe they planted several roses and aimed them toward the expressway to give people on the drive to and from T-Town a little something to enjoy?

Who/what/however it was . . . THANKS! You make me grin. (Or at least your roses do.)

One of my tomato plants disappeared this week. That shouldn’t make me grin, but it’s like someone came along and plucked it right out of the ground. No leaves left. No stem. Nada.

I can’t help but remember the old cartoon of the gopher underground in his run, popping vegetables out of the ground overhead.

BTW: There’s no sign of a gopher or a mole, but I have a grin.

And finally, my biggest grin of the week has been Car Wars.

We don’t have assigned parking at work. There are areas where we park out of habit, but even the boss and TV star–well, he’s the boss anyway–doesn’t have squatters rights to his spot.

One day this week, one of the secretaries got hungry and was running out to get something to eat just as another woman was arriving. First Woman had pulled halfway out of her spot when the next woman pulled up and waited. First Woman, not wanting to lose her space, pulled back in.  She waited. Woman in the street waited. They both waited. And waited. The universe expanded. Finally, sensing a stalemate, the woman in the street finally went to a space farther away.

Whew! Saved. First Woman started to pull out again and another worker pulled up and waited to pull in. First Woman pulled back in and, with a lot of determination, out waited that one, too.

Finally! First Woman thought she was safe to dash over, get her food and get back before anyone could steal her spot. She started to pull out again when a third woman pulled up and waited. For the third time, First Woman pulled back in and  out waited the interloper.

But Third Woman outwitted the spot-squatter. She pulled around the block and waited until she saw First Woman drive away. Then she circled the block and zipped right into the coveted spot.

After all her work, time, patience and determination, First Woman had her parking spot stolen right from under her.

And I missed the whole thing! (I’ve got to start getting to work earlier.)

I heard the story from an unhappy Blocked Parker–all three, actually–and laughed my guts out.

That’s just too funny! (Maybe because I wasn’t involved.) Especially when you remember that, like everyone I know (me, too!) these women are looking for ways to get more exercise.


So how about you? Any grins you can share this week?


Garden Fear

This may get me into trouble with the law. In fact, it might really get my blog banned, but I’m going to tell you about it anyway. As a warning. Yeah. That’s it. A warning!

Don’t let this happen to you. Pretty Azalea, isn’t it? This isn’t the bully. This beautiful plant acts like a lady and very quietly grows at the office. I just wanted you to see something beautiful before I introduced you to the harsh realities of life in a garden.

Warning: The following pictures may be disturbing. Continue at your own risk.

This is the bully.

You can’t see it, but there’s a pyramid doohicky under that blaze of color. (The Wordsmith is off duty today. Sorry.)

Once upon a time, the pyramid looked something like this.

 Here’s what happened–We bought two vines and the pyramid a couple of years ago. The tiny vines were so small and innocent looking, I wondered if they’d ever cover enough of the support for it to look right, so I carefully planted them and wound their tender arms in and around the pyramid.

Every few days I’d run out and keep them headed the right direction, just in case they didn’t know where they were supposed to be. I talked to them, too. I might even have named them. “That’s right, Sweet Baby, grow on!”

Sweet Baby. I really think that was my big mistake.

I mentioned the other day that I was too big a weenie to do much in my garden last summer. So while I wasn’t looking, my tiny vine turned into a bully. Aggressive isn’t a strong enough word for it. He became the Axis Powers!(Surprise, I don’t remember that war. I learned that in History Class.)

After he swallowed the obelisk whole (I looked up the “real” word) he started reaching out to grab plants around it. He grows over them and entwined them in his tendrils, just taking them over as if he had the right.

 If he continues in the way he’s been acting, he’ll likely choke them.

Vine Homer and Daisy Bart

Isn’t there a law against what he’s doing?

I really don’t know what to do, short of something drastic. I’m honestly afraid that if I stand still very long while I’m out there, he’ll grow right over me!

I’ll have to do something drastic. Maybe take my garden shears out and whack him back. I probably should get an ax. Or even a machete. It’s starting to look like a jungle out there.

I just ran out this morning and did a mind meld with him.

The red star is hanging on my fence at the back of the garden.

I think (I’m kind of new at mind melding with plants so I’m not positive) he’s trying to reach the star(s) to eat them. Nobody tell him they’re on my fence and not in outer space. He’s liable to go supercharged.

If he did that, I’d have to rename him A-II! Now if he just had Levi Stubbs’s voice, I’d invite y’all over to feed  him–er–hear him. 🙂

Ps: Name that movie!


Something about Me (Gasp)

My earlier confession (I Confess!) did my soul so much good, I’m going to hit it again. Ready? (Clears throat and takes a deep, cleansing breath.)




I’m so ashamed. I love gardens–strolling through them, looking at them, letting my heart warm and swell, just enjoying them. That’s all wonderful.

I even like planting new plants. Digging holes in the fresh dirt and arranging the baby plants is a joy! I really like seeing them take root and live. Okay, maybe I don’t hate gardening. Maybe I hate the stuff that goes along with it.

It takes a lot of hard work to make them look like the ones I like to look at.

(“You sure this girl’s a writer, Marylois? She just ended a sentence with a prepositty-thing.)

I don’t like grinding dirt into my knees. And I’m not wild about getting dirt under my fingernails and/or breaking them.

I. Hate. Sweat. And sweating!

And I hate sunburns, which I get nearly every year from working in my garden.

On our first anniversary I planted rows of green beans and beets, and ended up with a 3rd degree sunburn. (Okay, maybe not 3rd degree, but it hurt like snarklies!) Not the best anniversary celebration we ever had, I promise you.

I hate weeds AND weeding. Did I mention ticks? Hate, hate, hate those mean little suckers. (Literally, they’re suckers. And even after you flush them down the river, the place where they bit you ITCHES! for a long time. Eeeew, yuck!)

And I hate snakes. Even the ones that ‘can’t hurt you”.

To my shame, last year I flunked gardening, totally.

I worked hard early on, putting down weed barrier, using Roundup, and mulching, mulching, mulching. Did I mention I mulched? I did.

A bunch.

Then the heat hit. Oh, my stars! Heat doesn’t describe the weather we suffered last summer. The blazing, hellish temperatures ate my lunch! (I think I’m allergic.)

Can you believe we had a record breaking fifty-one consecutive days of 101plus heat? No rain.

So my plants wouldn’t die, we kept the sprinkler system going. The thing is, when plants grow, so do weeds. And every time I tried to go out and pull the weeds sneaking through the Roundup/weed barrier/mulch block I’d put down, something happened.

Sometimes it was something as simple as a phone call. Other times, an inside chore. Once in a while, I could even make up remember an emergency errand I HAD to run.

If I had to, I fell down, kicked and screamed until I gave myself permission not to go out. Of course, my gardens grew up with weeds, but I didn’t care. With heat like that, who was going to be outside to see it anyway?

Besides, surviving the summer was much more important than killing off a few weeds.

Now when I look out at my Tarzan-and-Cheetah-would-be-right-at-home back yard, I realize I might have been wrong. (Imagine that. LOL) One of these days, I’ll go out and get to work on my wild world. I’ll dig and pull and fight, working my way from one end of that mess to the other. (Oy!)

Or maybe a glutton for punishment boy scout will come along who wants to earn his Helper To A Lady In Distress Badge.

Miracles have been known to happen, you know. 😉

Now I have a question. When God put Adam and Eve the perfect Garden of Eden, who had to pull the weeds?


I’m Leafing

I love springtime, almost as much as I love fall.

And I love my jasmine!

And I love gardens, and gardening! As long as it’s not too hot or cold or wet or dry. Guess you could call me a fair weather gardener. I just call me the WWG.  (World’s Worst Gardner.)

My favorite gardening is when I don’t do anything, and things just bloom. Like Jazzy–my jasmine who grows on the fence at the back of my garden.

Question: Do you name the plants in your garden? Is the fact that I do a sign that I’m . . .  Never mind. I don’t want to know.

Now, combine my enjoyment for gardens with my enjoyment of photography, which I’m not that good at either, but I enjoy the guts out of it.

Yesterday, I took my camera into the yard. I took Jazzy’s portrait, then noticed the leaves on one of my Japanese Maples in the first garden I built after moving here were looking good.

Don’t you love the way the light shines through?

I have a thing about leaves. I love to sit under a tree and just watch the leaves move in the breeze. They relax me as they whisper, rustle, play and some even predict the weather. (Deciduous trees’ leaves often turn upside down before a rain.)

I’ve been told that when I was an infant, I loved for Mama to put my carriage under a tree. I’d babble to the leaves as if they were talking with me.

I have a theory about babies and guardian angels.

BTW: Leaves aren’t easy to photograph on a breezy day. For some reason, they just won’t hold still. And living here on the lake, it’s a rare day that’s not breezy. So your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to pretend these pictures are well focused. This communication will self-destruct . . .  (TV Show/Movie title?)

Or maybe I’ll make-believe I wanted them this way so you could see the energy.