Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Game Change


Mama when she played basketball

When I was in high school, C-Town didn’t have basketball for girls. Happily, by the time my younger sibs were in high school, they did. And (much to Mama’s delight!) they not only played, most of them excelled.

Sister Debbie and I, though, were only cheerleaders.

Sisters Cindy and Lisa and Omega were all great players. But basketball has changed for girls so over the years! Cindy and Lisa played half-court ball. I don’t remember if Omega played half-court or full court, but she played!

And now Omega’s youngest daughter is playing.

Omega and her daughter. (Daughter doesn't wear this dress when she plays.)

Omega and her daughter. (Daughter doesn’t normally wear this dress when she plays. Or ever.)

And, not surprisingly, she’s pretty darn good. (Said her aunt who couldn’t be a bit prejudiced and couldn’t hit a basket without a tall ladder.)

So Friday afternoon, Dad and I went to watch this young’un do her stuff. Naturally, she jammed her finger before we got there and didn’t play a whole lot, but we got to see some.

While the other girls played and our Little Bit sat out to let her finger heal, Dad and I got to talking about how much bball has changed for girls.

Apparently, since they switched out the peach basket for a hoop, the guys haven’t changed all that much. But girls?

Back when Mama played–

  • Girls play half court–six girls from each team on the floor.
  • Girls could only dribble once (that’s one bounce!) and then they had to pass the ball.
  • Girls couldn’t take the ball away from one another. They could try to catch it when it was being passed, but absolutely could not try to snatch it out of their hands.

There are probably other differences, like what they wore or how they held their pinky while they served tea at half time, but those are the ones I heard about.

I asked Dad why for each of those old rules, and he had one answer for all of them. It wasn’t feminine.

Dribbling more than once wasn’t girlish? Ooookay.

I come from a long line of storytellers. Dad is no exception.

He told me about Old Ford’s team when Mama played. They had a tall girl (and great player) who had a hot overhead shot. She would hold the ball high and if a guard was blocking her,  she’d use the ball and push the other girl’s hands out of the way. And she nearly always made her shot.

And he followed that with another story.

Like today, back then if one of the girls got knocked down and lay there with her eyes closed, it stopped the game. So one girl, he said, got “knocked out,” stopping the entire game while everyone rushed to see if she were okay or if she needed a doctor.

Trouble was, while she was lying prone and “unconscious,” she forgot to stop chewing her gum.

By the way–the comment about serving tea was a joke.

I think. 😀


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Smoky Waters

One of my favorite things about living on Lake Keystone is, well, the lake. I love watching it and seeing the effect the seasons have on it.

I use it to keep track of where the sun comes up every morning. Is the sun over the lake? Must be summer. Sun in the trees but edging back toward the water? Spring’s here.

There’s a huge distance between where it comes up in the winter and in the summer. I learned that in school, but until we moved into this house I’d never actually marked it. I’m not sure if that’s because of my kitchen window is on the east (it was in Pryor Creek, too) or the fact that there aren’t any houses in the way.

We aren’t alone out in the country–we live in a neighborhood–but we’re the among the highest on the hill. The ones east and west of us are lower, so we have a great view of sunrises and sunsets.

    I love that!

A few years ago when we had an ice storm, the lake froze over completely. No, I didn’t skate on it. (I’ll tell you someday about the time I tried ice skating.)

And I didn’t talk G-Man into borrowing a Volkswagen and cutting donuts on it. (He tells a story about someone he went to high school with doing that.) I tried to talk him into it, but he wouldn’t. 🙂

After a big thunder storm or lots of rain, there’s usually lots of driftwood floating on the lake.

My favorite time to watch the lake, though, is when there’s fog rolling across it. I don’t know if you can see what looks like a cloud bank on the far side of the water, but it was gorgeous! Makes me think of that Deep Purple song


I was going to share the rest of the lyrics


But they aren’t that good. The music’s great, though!

♪♫ SMOKE ON THE WATER . . .  ♪♫

See for yourself–


Family That Skis Together

I’m not sure where in Colorado this was taken, but we were having fun!

When G-Man and I were first married, my folks took us skiing. They’d been the year before with the church and loved it, so they wanted to take their off-spring.

Since Dad had been once, he taught us so we could save what it would cost to take lessons.

After teaching us to bubble-hiney in order to make a turn, and cut a piece of pizza (“sit down on it, Susan!”) Dad thought we were ready to go for it. He pointed us toward the rope tow or easy-peasy lift. Our choice.

G-Man ignored the rope tow AND the easy-peasy lift and practiced on a small hill. He went up and down it until he could control his skis fairly well.

Determined I could do it, I wobble-kneed my way through the E-P lift line. When I saw that lift chair swinging toward me, I nearly panicked. I could just see the open chair taking off with me dangling from it by one arm, far above the snow-covered earth like a cartoon character.

So as it came toward us, I turned my back and closed my eyes. The chair hit me in the back of my knees and scooped me up as easy as Superman lifts Lois Lane. I even got off without falling in the middle of anyone.

That was the easy part. Getting to the bottom of the hill took a little more work. And a lot more time. But I made it without falling. 🙂 (My man, who fell several times that morning, tells me women have a lower center of gravity so they naturally fall less. I lovingly answer him, “Sour grapes.”)

After lunch (There might have been a quick nap with my head on the table during that lunch. Skiing is hard work!) we hit the slopes again, and I coerced G-Man into going on the E-P lift. We got pretty good at going up and down that baby hill.

The next day, we went to the top of the mountain. And like the wise adults we were, stayed on the easiest paths.

Brother Jeffrey and his buddy didn’t ski like G-Man and me. They took a three-step approach from the get-go.

  1. Go to the top of the highest mountain available.
  2. Point your ski tips toward the bottom.
  3. Go. For. It.

Zero to ninety in nothing flat. No fear. In fact, they rarely slowed down long enough to wave at friends or family unless we were at the bottom.

The last day of the ski vaca, Dad took us to the back side of the mountain. “Come on, you’ll love it. You’re good enough to do that.”

So, like lambs to the slaughter, we went.

To. The. Back. Side. Of. The. Mountain. (Duh-duh-dum!)

We took a lift, another lift, and then a long, scary, really high lift. And the we were in black, double diamond land. The steepest, deepest, hardest slopes in that part of the state were where we were.

Think of a tall waterfall, made of snow and we had to ski down it.

Gary’s early training on the baby hill stood him in good stead. I, on the other hand, prayed for a helicopter. When none came, I took off my skis and slid down on my hiney.


Ended up with a deep chill but no broken bones. 🙂

And our teachers?

When Mom skied, she was a little bit knock-kneed. Last year I saw a video of me skiing, and guess who I thought it was.

Mom. Knees and all.


Playing Ball

There’s a video you need to watch. It’s on a website call Godvine, and is about opposing high school softball teams.

For a long time, I’ve been a little irritated by high school sports. Too many parents who want to run the show. Too many kids who think they’re going pro at any moment. Too much ego. Too much.

I’d forgotten something else. If done right, sports can teach kids the game of life. How to live like you mean it. How to treat others like you want to be treated. How to allow the Spirit to shine, on the field and off.

I don’t know how to post this video, but in a dog-eat-dog world, it’s really too good to miss. Please, check it out. Click here.  

Watch it and tell me what you think about it. What would you have done if you’d been the girls on the other team?


Do You Remember

Skating when you were a kid?

I loved it. Not inline skates. I tried those once a few years ago and landed right square on my . . . well, I landed hard! 

The kind of skates I had were the ones with four wheels–two in front and two in back–and a key. (For anyone too young to remember, the key didn’t start an engine on the skates. It made them tight enough to stay on your shoes.)

Remember these? They were what made these

stay on your feet. One-size-fits-all. 🙂

My neighbor, Marsha, and I skated on our sidewalk, back and forth, and on our porch (we had a big front porch) but never on the driveway. Mom had the cement guy who poured it put a broom finish on it, and that’s way too bumpy for a good ride.

But after Grandmother and Grandad built the house next door, we could roll down the connecting sidewalk and skate on her nice, smooth double-wide driveway–if all the pickups, cars and trucks were gone to work.

We couldn’t skate in the street. Not because we had a lot of traffic in our Small Town World but because our streets in the summertime were hot, sticky and nearly liquid tarry stuff. If we’d tried skating on them, we would have been stuck fast. (Think the La Brea tar pits.)

On Sunday nights in the winter, our church rented the local skating rink and we’d all skate for free. The rink was right behind the Dari Diner (if you haven’t been there, you’re missing a real C-Town treat!) in a quonset hut.

This is a quonset hut, not THE building where our skate rink was. I don’t know why it was there or who owned it, but I remember lots of nights, skating with our church and having a ball. 

The floor wasn’t perfect. It was wood and fairly smooth, except in one place on the return leg of the big circuit we skated. I don’t remember if the floor changed height or if it didn’t quite come together, but you had to watch for it or it would grab your toe and jerk you down.

One night I was working hard to stay in front of a herd that had bunched up as they skated to “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands” and I forgot about that toe trap. I fell so hard, it knocked the breath out of me. There I was, unable to see or gasp or even think and sprawled in front of what seemed like a million little wheels that I was sure would make mince meat out of me.

But rather than smash me, someone scooped me off the floor and carried me out of the way. I don’t remember if it was Dad or the preacher or who saved me, but I was very happy they did. 

That old skating rink has been gone for a long time now. In its place is our post office, which isn’t nearly as much fun as that skating rink was and not nearly as beautiful as the old post office.

I need to go to Ebay and see if I can buy a pair of those skates before they all disappear from the face of the earth. Someday I want to be able to show them my grandchildren and tell them all about it. When I have grandchildren, that is.

Hint. Hint.