Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


What’s a Mother To Do?

What’s a mother to do when she wants to learn something new?

That was kind of exclusionary, wasn’t it? Sorry! I’ll fix it. What’s any adult to do yada yada?

If you want to learn about photography or Mexican cooking or writing in a new genre, most of us can’t just pick out a class in a college catalogue and go for it. There’s almost always a time, money, family issue. (For most women, at least.)

We have to find a different way. So what do you do?

Buy an Online Class

I’ve taken several. They usually cost from $20-$50. I have notebooks full of printouts from those workshops. Often, though, when I get a few weeks in, I learn that the course isn’t teaching what I’d hoped to learn. It wasn’t that I don’t research it. It’s just that the class description can be kind of vague.

Talk about a pain as well as a waste of time and money.


Yes, blogs that teach.

There are several blogs and websites that’ll teach you how to take pictures. The Pioneer Woman, Digital Photograph Tips, Free Photo Course and Take Great Pictures.

I’ve used several of these, but I found The Pioneer Woman speak Okie, like me. It’s very helpful.

I don’t know about you, but I like to have how-to type things where I can put my hands on them, so I print out those blog posts.


The next best idea? For me, it’s books. I’ve loved books since I was small, so finding I could learn just about anything out of a book has always been win/win for me.

I have a little trouble going from page one to page two–I like to skip over and find out the good stuff–but when it comes down to really learning something, that’s probably the best way.

My camera’s How This Camera Works book is a big help! Imagine reading that free book that comes with your camera. My mama believed “When all else fails, read the directions,” and I followed her directive for years. But when I finally read that little book, I found out she wasn’t always right. Just most of the time.

My favorite How-To-Write book has always been Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Deb Dixon. Thinking back, a friend taught me when we read that book (although we both got GMC at the same time, she read through it first) the best way for me to learn from a book.

Not only did she read the book page one, page two, page three, etc. She highlighted important parts and used sticky notes like tabs in a Bible so she could go directly to the part she wanted to find.


Those are the best ideas I have for learning after you’re grown. Do you have any you can share?





Snit Fever

Running late today, but I wanted to share the progress I’ve made on my Meret Beret.

Remember late last summer (or early last fall) I showed you this–That was near the beginning of what I hoped would one day look like this–

That’s not mine. You can tell because the color is wrong and it’s darn near perfect. Mine won’t be. 🙂 This is a picture I found online to show me what it might look like someday. Well, I’m not there yet. Here’s where I am today.

 And here–

In case you’re wondering, that’s my Bible it’s lying on. (I just finished my Bible study for this morning.) And my Bible is lying on my GMC chart for the book I’m currently working on.

I’m such a neat person. Not.

The beret isn’t that complicated, so why am I so slow? Besides time restraints (I hate that excuse, but there you go.) I Christmassed and knitting a cat scarf. (Except for sewing on the head, it’s finished. Yay!) And a pair of fingerless gloves.

While I found the above pictures, I found a couple of other things I finished this year. I just have to share.

This great little scarf (I still need to block it, I guess, because I haven’t worn it.) and my chicken. I call her Shake a Tail Feather.

I learned to knit when I was in junior high. For some reason, I really wanted to learn, even though no one around me knitted at all. Maybe it was seeing Aunt Sally here on a Christmas visit one year, knit throws for her family. Or it could have been seeing people knit on TV and in movies.

Anyway, I bought a book and “taught” myself. It’s really hard to learn to knit (especially casting on) from a book. While the pictures and arrows look as if they’re going one direction, they’re really meant to be going another way altogether. But I persevered.

I discovered how useful knitting was in high school when I was in a one-act play called the Legacy. It was a period piece, set in the 1800’s. I used knitting as busy work during the play.

By the time we quit doing the play for competition, my square I was knitting was really lopsided, because when I’d pick up my knitting to work, I just started knitting. I didn’t look to see whether I had it forward or backward. 🙂

I wish now I’d kept it. 🙂

I’ve taken several classes and found I love knitting along side other people. One of my favorite things about knitting is teaching others. Some pick it up so easily, you’d think they’d learned it somewhere before.

For others, it’s not quite as easy.

Now Omega (kid #6 in the Spess family line up) was determined to learn. She’s in a wheelchair, her hands don’t work as easily as they once did and she can’t drive herself to go to the yarn store, but she was bound she would learn how. So I taught her, and she caught on so quickly I felt as if I’d been a really  slooooow learner.

She even knitted one of the Christmas presents she gave away this year. How cool is that?

This isn’t the best picture of Omega I could find, but I usually try not to capture her wheelchair, because it’s not who she is. I wanted you to be able to see it today.

I wanted to warn you, when Omega decides she’s going to do something, look out!

No telling what she’ll be doing next.