Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Happy, Happy Birthday, #4!


It seems like just last year I told you the same thing. 🙂 Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it?

I have a little test to see if you’re losing your mind from living in that foreign country (Kansas Country.)

  • Who got shut up in the clothes dryer?
  • Who dreamed a witch was cutting off her leg?
  • Who crawled the day she came home from the hospital?
  • Who was the STAR! of her first grade play?
  • Who was number four in a line of girls, so she sparkled plenty to get attention?
  • Who could run faster and jump higher than anyone else, just because Mama wanted her to be a good basketball player?
  • Who took care of her older sister when the mean girls picked on her?
  • Who was Grandmother’s favorite noodle unroller?
  • Who named all her dolls Deara?
  • Who “saved” her oldest sister in life saving?
  • Who is so claustrophobic she nearly couldn’t get baptised?
  • Who was so tender headed, Mama called her Grandma Reeves?
  • Who got lost when she looked in the barrel marked, “For men only”
  • Who loves you the mostest?

Happy birthday, #4. Love you and miss you!!!



Happy Birthday, Sister Debbie!

Debbie gave me this picture several years ago in a frame that says, “Sisters.” She’s the baby,  and that’s our gorgeous mama.

And today’s Deb’s birthday.

One of my favorite things about Debbie is her wonderful and warped sense of humor.I don’t remember what Jeffrey did to crack us up in this picture. Debbie’s seated here, wearing black and  white, and saying, “I’m the nice one.”

That made us laugh all over again. 🙂

Debbie is the sister everyone wishes they had. She’s fun and funny, a wonderful, loyal friend, a cohort in crime and a world class shopper.

Her life hasn’t always been easy, but she’s always taken the high road.

More than the sister of a lifetime, she’s a sister for eternity. Debbie is one of the most spiritual people I know.

Deb is on the right.

When trouble came in her life that would have made most women run to a lawyer, she ran to the Lord. She fasted and prayed for over a year, seeking God’s perfect will.

Thank you, Debbie, for being a special sister of my heart.

Thank you for getting in trouble with me, for being so much like Mama even though I look most like her :), for being there every time I’ve needed you, for having a sense of humor and for know God in a way few people ever do and being so willing to share Him.

Happy birthday!

I love you!

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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?


Kiddo Lost and . . . ?

The other day, I heard a noise in the kitchen. Since it wasn’t lunch time, I went to investigate. Guess what I found.

This precious little girl, sitting in her car seat/carrier. She normally a very happy baby I understand, but when a girl’s in a strange place and an even stranger woman starts loving on you, it can be a little disconcerting.

She handled me well, though. 🙂

I soon heard a commotion down the hall. The sweet baby’s bigger sibling had found a place to have fun. This little girl cracks me up. She’s one who, being a very smart child, tests her boundaries very often. That’s Brother Jeffrey behind her.  This one found a bowl of licorice jelly beans and declared she loved them! (Unusual for a girl her age.)

She carried them with her for the rest of the time she was in the office. Didn’t finish them off, though. I imagine the flavor was intense for even a candy lover like her.

But this precious boy, who at his tender years rules the office with an iron fist holding most of us by the heart, nearly killed me yesterday.

I used to be his favorite. When he was upset, he’d occasionally come to me for comfort. That makes a wannabe grandmother feel wonderful! But I’ve been replaced.

His favorite person now is Rick. Rick has a pickup and a hat that he lets him wear. (What can I say? The Kiddo is into hats.) Rick takes him out and lets him play in the bed of his pickup truck. Kiddo loves that! He sets him in the fork of a small tree in our garden. Kiddo adores him.

Apparently, Kiddo has decided I’m chopped liver. 😦

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Getting Loaded at the Red Barn

I promised to tell you how Sister Debbie and I got loaded the other night. 🙂

Thursday night, Sister Debbie, her daughter, granddaughter and I went to the Red Barn Boutique. The Red Barn is only open twice a year, and even though I’d never heard of it before, I didn’t want to miss that sale.

Now I know why! For years, I’ve been wanting a wheelbarrow. Two, actually. I wanted an antique, wooden one with a wooden wheel. G-Man promised to build me a look alike a long, long time ago. So long ago, the boys looked like this–

and this at the time.

Somehow, my man never got around to building it. 😉 I don’t know how he could have forgotten. LOL.

I also wanted one to cart stuff to my garden. It’s a loooong way from my car to the flower bed, especially toting mulch by the bag, so I really needed it. Really!

And while there, I found an adorable flock of chickens. Well, all I’d need if I were going to start of flock of chickens–a rooster and a hen. I’m not sure what the eggs will taste like, though.

Aren’t they cute?

 Did you notice? The hen is really wild about the rooster.

She lost her head over him! (No extra charge for the can.)

I started to take only the rooster, but the hen was a real bargain. And Sister Debbie warned me I’d probably regret it if I didn’t take them both. I’d probably be running around looking for her like a chicken with my head cut off.

And who am I to argue with my shopping guru?

 This is my adorable wheelbarrow. Don’t you love it?

Okay, it needs a new tire (right now it’s more of a drag-barrow than a wheel-barrow) but that’s no biggie. Right? Right?

Sister Debbie found a washtub on a stand, something like this.

but different. This one’s mine.

We stood in line

to pay for everything. The vendors were so nice! They even told us we could drive out the In gate, so we could pick up our heavy-duty purchases.

Of course, we had to park right in the way of everybody while we unloaded and reloaded. And unloaded and pushed and shoved and tugged and lifted. Finally, we ended up looking like this–

with Sister Debbie holding her washtub stand in the front passenger seat while we drove away. (I was in the backseat with the sweetie.)

For some reason, our driver thought that might be at least illegal and at most dangerous.

She was probably afraid she’d end up like my chicken, having to go around with a can where her head used to be. So she pulled into the school where she student taught.

(That doesn’t sound right, does it? Student taught? It couldn’t be student teached, could it? Hm. Well, it was where she was a student teacher.)

I was between two baby car seats in the back, so Sister Debbie got out and they completely revamped that car. Those two can organize! Especially if I stay out of the way.

They got everything fitted into Mel’s car, thank goodness. For a while, I was afraid I’d have to stay at that school while they took everything home, then came back to get me.

Not that I wouldn’t trust them to remember where they left me. Maybe. 🙂 But I was thrilled to get to go home with everything else.

We all kept our heads and drove home, after a quick stop to munch tortillas at the Vaqueros (yum) where we drank nothing but water with lemon and DIDN’T get loaded. I promise.

Have you ever gotten a little over-enthusiastic when shopping and not had room for all your treasures? Surely the Spess girls aren’t the only women in the world who over-splurge?



I might have mentioned my mama had six kids, five of whom were girls. When I’d gone to college and Sister Debbie was getting close, Mama must have decided she didn’t have enough to do, or maybe she was tired of sewing.

She decided to open a dress shop, and she wanted to have it open for the Easter shopping season. (Easter was a big sewing/dress shopping time in our Small Town World.)

She and Dad looked around for a place to put the shop and decided the empty front portion of the bank building where Dad had his office would be the perfect spot.

She went to market with a friend who owned a dress shop in a town not too far away and ordered stock for her store. She and Dad and my sibs old enough to help got busy turning a bank into a dress shop.

She called me one night at school at college, and wanted to talk about naming the store. Since it had been The First National Bank, she thought about naming it The First Place. I loved that idea (a few years later we heard of several stores that took the name) but it wasn’t the one she ultimately chose.

In the end, she named her store Four Seasons Fashions, but people in town called it Mary Sue’s.

She worried a lot about the store in the beginning, so much she could hardly eat. Dad told her it cost less to open her store than to hit one dry hole, so stop sweating it.  Still, she talked about taking several people to market with her so she could be sure get it right–Grandmother, so she’d have someone with “older” taste and opinions, someone like Sister Debbie or me with a young person’s opinion, and so on.

In the end, she learned to think about the people she wanted to sell to. She would go into a show room at market and, as she bought the merchandise, she’d think one thing looked like this woman, and wouldn’t another woman enjoy that.

I left Bible college after my second year and switched to a school in Tulsa with a fashion merchandising course. A few years later, I went to work for Mom. I loved working at Four Seasons. Loved almost every part of it.

I enjoyed doing displays, buying the merchandise and, mostly, getting to know the people in our Small Town World.

I worked in other clothing stores over the years–Tulsa, Ponca City, Bartlesville, from large department stores to a store much like Mom’s, but I never worked anyplace where the owner worried about or liked her customers so much.

Or knew them so well.

Once I started working there, Mama didn’t feel she had to be at the shop quite as much. But she loved going to market and seeing the newest clothes. We didn’t buy the most expensive designer clothes, but we sometimes had to walk down their halls going to another manufacturer nearby.

I started getting sick with tonsilitis once on our way to Dallas. By the time we got there, my throat was killing me, but I thought I could tough it out until I got home to my own doctor. We were going to a showroom near the designers’ when a woman stopped me to ask where I got the flower pin I was wearing.

While we chatted, I got started feeling really bad. Apparently it showed in my face because she nearly dragged me into the (designer!) showroom where she worked and forced me to eat a plate of melon and ham. At least the melon felt good on my throat! LOL. I remember later wishing I’d felt better so I could have taken note of how that showroom was different than the less expensive places.

Mama only missed going to market once in all the years she owned Four Seasons–when her high school aged nephew in Texas died. That was one of those times when she needed to be with her sister.

We used lots of ways to publicize our clothes–a large window in front where our prettiest clothes were on display, occasional fashion shows, and we sometimes we advertised in the local paper. But the best advertisement in the world was my mama when she went anywhere, dressed in Four Seasons’ stock.

She made those clothes look great!


Memories Tree

Know what this is?

How about now?

I know. This will help.

 How about this?

If you’re thinking it’s a glove, you’d be only half right. It’s also an . . .

 Are you ready for it?


I finally decorated my 2nd tree last night. And, yes, I add the gloves every year. It started once when we bought some antique ornaments in Eureka Springs. I put them on the big tree in our living room, but it looked a little bare. I didn’t want to put new ornaments on it, so I added Grandmother’s old gloves.

 I love the way they look, dangling there. And since I have some of Grandmother’s ornaments on the tree

such as the sputnik at the bottom of this picture

and this satellite, I figure they belong there. Their shapes tell you their birthdates–the fifties.

Here are a few more of my favorite old ornaments–

Mama had an ornament like this when I was a kid. My secret tradition was for me to put it on the tree.

My Joanie ornament.

The year Joanie and I lived together, we had a tiny cedar Christmas tree that Dad cut for us. This ornament is like the ones we had on that tree.

 And this is just a cool old ornament.

All my old ornaments aren’t family hand-me-downs; some are just pretty. Or interesting. So if you see some orphaned ones on the loose somewhere, let me know. I’ll give them a good home!

This is under my Grandmother tree.

 It’s a tree skirt.

Mom and I were at market in Dallas, and she had me order this one for Grandmother and one with a red background for her house. (I think Brother Jeffrey has the red one under his tree.)

The back of it is Christmas red, and in one corner it says, “1991; To Ruby from Carol and Mary Sue. Happy Mother’s Day.”

Check out last year’s post, THE GRANDMOTHER TREE. 🙂