Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

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The GRAND Canyon

How long has it been since you were at the Grand Canyon?

We’ve been there twice, the last time at the beginning of this month! And to be honest, my toes stayed curled for a long time after we left because of the sudden drop looming next to the path. 🙂

As you can probably guess, I snapped a few pics while we were there.



This statue was in front of the restaurant where we ate. Don’t you love it?

GC-FATHER-SONTo be honest, I’m a people/critter watcher first and a canyon watcher second. This pair looked like a father-son to me. I loved the way they were recording their time together.

GC-HORSEThis was one of the park rangers. She didn’t stop and chat (sadly) and she didn’t offer me a ride, sigh, but she was friendly. Nice horse, too, huh?

GC-LIZARDWe watched this guy sun himself on the edge of the canyon for several minutes.

GC-SQUIRRELAnd this speedy character entertained several of us lurkers.

GC-ART-STUDIOThis is an artist’s studio there at the edge of the canyon. Imagine spending your days painting God’s handiwork. (And hoping you don’t sleep walk off the edge.)

GC-WEEDSI did get a few (!) shots of the canyon. God really carved out a beautiful place out there.

GC-THE-CANYONAren’t the muted colors gorgeous?



GC-TRAILING-PATHI decided I couldn’t climb any higher on the rim train at one point (that deep hole was making me dizzy) so I sat on a bench and waited while G-Man went on up.

I met several people while I was there. One couple was Sam and Rebecca from Ohio. They asked where I was from and I answered, “Cleveland, OKLAHOMA. When I say Cleveland, most people say ask if it’s the one in Ohio.”

Rebecca laughed. “When you start talking, they know it’s not Ohio.”

“I have an accent???”

GC-LEAP-PADSThis is the place where my kids hopped around the last time we were at the Grand Canyon. Yeah, my toes curled then, too.

So when was the last time you were at the Grand Canyon? Well, it’s time to go back.

Not that it changes much in a span of a few years, except for the manmade stuff. But most peoples’ memories are never as beautiful as the real thing. Head out that way soon and send me a picture of your favorite part.

I’ll love it.


Linda Trout’s Closet

Let me explain–

There’s this thing about me. I think people are fascinating . (ie: Everybody has A Story!)

I might have mentioned, I’m not only a writer, I’m also a reading knitter (or a knitting reader.) Naturally, I like to read about other people’s lives. I’ve suffered mightily because most knitting magazines only have patterns, nothing about the knitters who created them.

There is one TV show I watch about knitting. This past season, they advertised they’d changed their format to include a segment that was about studio to studio, I was so excited! I thought we’d get knitting area tours of their homes. I hoped they’d show us the whys and how-I’s of their lives.

Again, disappointment! Turns out, it’s just a segment done with the host in one place, the guest in another, but nothing about the guest’s home or knitting area or how they make life work while knitting.

Now that’s a real a bummer. 😉

So I started wondering, are there other people like me? People who like to see behind the scenes and inside the lives around them? Where people (writers) work, how they work and why?

Ummm, could be!

So I decided to take up the slack.

(♪♫ Fanfare! ♪♫) Let me introduce to  you to–

 Linda Trout’s Closet

linda-at-her-deskI’ve introduced Linda to you before. She’s one of those nice ladies who is really gorgeous and talented and writes tension filled books. She writes suspense and has two books and a novella to her credit!

Her most recent release is Last Hope Alaska.


It’s a fabulous read! (If you click on the title, it’ll take you to the place where you can buy it, and I’ll get the credit!)

I’ve never been in Linda’s home, so I asked her where she writes.

Linda– “My office is a former walk-in closet that’s shaped like an L. The ‘L’ part is used as storage…has a set of shelves that are loaded down w/blankets, extra pillows, etc.


Me: Where are some other places you write?

Linda–“When I’m at home, my office is the only place I write. I make it a point to not write outdoors. I’d be too much like, “Ooh! A squirrel!” Soon the writing would be totally forgotten as I can find all sorts of things to do in the yard.”

Me: What’s the atmosphere like?

Linda– “It’s grand central station. Cats come in to bug me to pay more attention to them. One wants in my lap and another wants me to rub her belly. The credenza is packed full of writing stuff, a lot of which could be pitched so the drawers would open easier. As I said before, the ‘L’ is a storage area. Suitcases, old press kits that the lady from the Tulsa World brought to our meeting that time, tote bags from conferences, bedding, office supplies, table decorations for book signings, business and personal receipts. You name it, it’s probably stuffed in there. LOL.”


“I always have a glass a sweet tea sitting next to the computer and a bag of cinnamon roasted almonds on the shelf for a ‘brain’ snack.”


“You can see some of my contest certificates hanging on the wall as well as a couple of quilts. One, my MIL made for us as a thank you for putting a new roof on her house a couple months after my FIL passed away. The other is a Yo-Yo quilt top my maternal grandmother made for me when I was a teenager.”

Me: So, do you have a ritual or something you do to start your writing time? Light a candle, play your sound track, bite the head off a chicken?

Linda– “Sorry. No chicken sacrifices. Unlike a lot of writers, I don’t play music, either. I do my best writing at night when all is quiet, the cats have settled down-or gone outside, hubby has turned off the TV and gone to bed. All the lights are out except for the one in my office (we have a very open concept home). The office is just around the corner from our bed and even though the man is out like a light 90 seconds after his head hits the pillow, I still try to be quiet. I guess this helps to center me so I can focus. It’s amazing the plot points I get figured out after 10pm.

Me: That is amazing, because I’m out like a burned down candle stub after 10 pm.


Linda– “Oh, and I always work in sweats in the winter, and shorts and a t-shirt in the summer. Comfort all the way! LOL.”

Me: Okay,  so where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

Linda– “It really isn’t a weird place, but I once wrote several hundred words on a Dana on my way to Alaska for vacation. Then I wrote while sitting on the bed and looking out of the window of our B&B and watching a pair of Bald Eagles teaching their chicks to fish.”

 Me: That’s so cool! (Not sure I could stay in and write with all that going on.)

Linda adds: “I’m pretty plain Jane, I suppose, compared to a lot of other writers. Too bad I don’t dance around in colorful outfits, blaring music that could wake the neighbors 10 acres over. My quieter side (some would say my inner psycho, since I write suspense) seems to be where my stories come from. Hmm I write about killers and I do my best writing when it’s dark outside. What does that say about me?”


Me: It says you’re a darned interesting lady! I knew there was A Story there!

So, anybody else have a question for Linda? Anything you want to know such as how many hours she writes each week, how long it takes her to write a book, does she take her characters from real life or what her favorite part of the process?

All you have to do is ask! I’m sure she’ll be glad to answer. 😀







We Missed ♥ Kevin ♥ but we saw Fort Hayes.

I mentioned that G-Man and I, #2 Son and DIL  went to South Dakota this summer, didn’t I? While we were there, we went to Fort Hayes. The movie wasn’t actually made where the “Fort” stands now, but they are the same buildings and furnishings! This is the room where the crazy guy in DANCES WITH WOLVES gave Kevin his orders.

002 We must have been a little late in the season because the rope maker was gone, but the man who makes pans was there and Nikki learned to make one.


Nikki and the teacher.

027 Learning!



They had great displays.


In case you’re wondering, this isn’t My Mother The Car. (Anyone remember that show?) I asked her and she didn’t answer.

Some I wanted to load up and take home with me.


And we got into a little trouble.


But Matt knew how to escape.


He played us a little tune to celebrate!

016Player piano being played.

I really wanted to take this home!

I really wanted to take this bench home! So pretty! But they wouldn’t let it go. 😦

I loved this wagon.

I loved this wagon, too, although I’m not sure what it was used for in the movie.  (Have you noticed? There wasn’t much I didn’t like.)

We had a great time at Fort Hayes! It would have been even better if Kevin Costner had shown up. I might have let him Dance with a Wolf. (Hey, Jazzy!)



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First Day Vacay

When you think of your favorite vacation, where did you go?

G-Man and I don’t take a big vacation every year. (By “big” I mean where we go SOMEWHERE and stay gone for an entire week.) The last time we had a real vacation, we went to New Mexico and Arizona. LOVED IT!

This year, we went to South Dakota. Mount Rushmore. Deadwood. Bear Country. #2 Son and DIL went with us. (And yes, I came home with several ideas for new books.)

Drive By Shooting :)

Drive By Shooting 🙂

I snapped this pic on the way to SD. I absolutely loved that brick wall. (If I’d actually stepped outside the car, it could have been fantastic!)

Naturally, the first place we visited was the Presidents’ Heads Monument. (Yeah, some people call it Mount Rushmore, but you know me.)

Here are a few of the pics I took.

Matt and Nikki at the Okie post.

Matt and Nikki at the Okie post.

These two made the visit so much fun! They aren’t afraid of anything and have some great ideas. For instance, this next pic is Nikki, making George look as if she just squished his head.

Nikki fingers.

Nikki fingers.

Here Matt’s making her look as if she’s supporting the presidents.


Here’s some more of my photo-stream from that day.

I used my long lens to get up close and personal with the guys.


And here I’m checking for boogies in Abe’s nose. (None.)


We got this picture when Matt stopped the car without being asked so we could grab the pic.


Several more days and hundreds (literally) more pictures, so I’ll always be able to relive the vacay. I have a feeling this will be one of my all time favorites. (For now, anyway.)

Your fave?

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Mad Dashes and Sign Language

Eifle Tower in Las Vegas

Eifle Tower in Las Vegas (Photo credit: Jeff Hill Photo)

So how organized are you when you go on vacation?

I think I missed the organized gene. Being a girl who loves surprises (well, good ones) I’ve always enjoyed just flying by the seat of my pants.

G-Man is just the opposite. He makes lists, lays out what he’s taking and packs very methodically. He’s so thorough, we always have everything except his recliner in our bags. He never has a reason to make a mad dash to a pharmacy or Wally World.

Might as well stay home.

More and more lately, though, I find I don’t remember some things and have to make too many dashes to the oops store for oopsers who don’t make packing lists. (Or even oopsier oopsers who make lists and lose them before they pack.)

I don’t believe oldtimers is setting in (I could have forgotten if it is, right?) I have to believe it’s because I’m expecting my brain to store more and more lists these days. I just neglect going to check my lists. 🙂

So this morning, I thought I’d see what there is on the web in the way of packing lists–and I found a ton. They can be as specific as you want, depending on where you’re vacationing. If you’re going to a beach, put it in your search engine. Moutains? Yes, they have that, too.

They even have packing lists that’ll have you covered if you’re leaving the country. There’s nothing worse than being in a foreign land and not being able to say, “Ibuprofen” in that language because you forgot your English-Foreign Language Book. (I know you can find it on your i-Phone, but do you know what it costs to use an i-Phone in a foreign country?)

Unless you’re good at sign language. 🙂 I’m really good at SL.

When I was a kid, I went to Europe with my Fashion Merchandising school. A couple of my friends went along, and one told me over and over, “When we get to France, I’ll interpret for us. I’ve had four years of French, so we’re covered.”

We got there, and everyone wanted to send home postcards of the Eifel Tower, so we went to Le Drugstore. (Yep, that was the name.) My friend was in front of me, so I watched while in what I assume was perfect high school French, she asked for air mail stamps.

The woman working at Le Drugstore just looked puzzled and shook her head. My friend struggled for five minutes to make her understand, but the woman couldn’t. (Or wouldn’t.) Finally my friend gave up and moved over a step.

I stepped up to the clerk and said, “I want two.” (I held up two fingers.) “Airmail.” (I held my arms out like an airplane and made flying noises.) “Stamps.” (I held out my left hand, palm up, made a fist of my right hand, licked my right thumb and smacked it in the center of my left palm.)

The clerk handed me the stamps. 🙂 I wasn’t smooth, but I got my stamps. LOL.

How about it? Are you an organized traveler or not? Or maybe I should ask, do you enjoy an occasional mad dashes and sign language.


Do You Believe

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. (At least, that’s what the big boys tell us.) Kids who eat breakfast learn better. People who eat breakfast have fewer problems with their weight. 

I’m convinced. Breakfast is a good thing.

I believe in breakfast. Probably because I’ve eaten breakfast every morning of my life, with the rare exception of forced fasting days. (Days when babies, blood or surgeries are happening.)

Before we moved to C-Town, we lived in Old Ford in a house with my parents, my just-younger sister and my grandparents. Mom and Grandmother spent a lot of time in the kitchen at least twice a day, cooking big meals.

I have more memories of breakfasts than I do dinners. Even as I little kid, I could tell Grandmother’s biscuits from Mom’s. And who made the scrambled eggs. Dad made the best.

All the men in our family are wonderful cooks, in case you’re wondering. Sometimes the kitchen was crowded with cooks.

We had to be careful if Granddad was in the kitchen just after we’d butchered. He loved to fix scrambled eggs and calf’s brains. And while brains might be non-toxic, I never wanted gray matter in my mouth. Eeeeew.

One of my memories of Old Ford was when I discovered sugar. After the cereal was out of my bowl, I put in more sweetener. Now that was good! I kept adding until Grandmother said, “I think you have enough sugar.” She glanced into my empty bowl and immediately took the sugar off the table.

Mama’s favorite breakfast was pancakes. Blueberry, if possible. My favorite is biscuits and gravy with fresh side. (That’s probably Dad’s fav, too.)

Have you ever eaten fresh side? It’s the same meat as bacon, except it hasn’t been cured. To me, it tastes kind of like pork chops, except much better. Sometimes you can find it in the store, but not often. Usually, you have to butcher.

When you cook fresh side (if you ever get the chance) salt and pepper it well, then fry until the fat along the edge is well done. Oh! My! Stars!

Like my daddy says, It’ll make your tongue lap your brains out.

When we moved to C-Town, we had a neighbor who had kids some of my siblings’ ages. (With six kids in our family, we had someone almost everyone’s age.)

When the sibs stayed all night over there, they came home talking about eating Egg in a Well. (I think that’s what it was called.) It might be the dish that’s called Egg in a Hole or even Toad in a Hole. Whatever it’s called, it’s good!

We just called it Egg in Toast. Here’s how–

Butter a slice of bread and cut a hole in the middle. I put a little butter on the pan in the hole, then drop in an egg. (Try not to break the yolk.)  Salt and pepper egg to taste.

Lightly butter the up side of the bread. When the egg is set, turn the whole thing over and toast the other side.

I like to fry another slice of toast to go along with my egg in toast. 😉  Strawberry jelly is WONDERFUL on fried toast. Don’t ask me how I know that. And don’t tell Weight Watchers I eat it. I might get banned for life.

Some of my favorite breakfast memories are from our vacations. Sometimes my parents would take all their kids, Grandmother and Granddad, and whatever of the rest of the fam who wanted to go, and we’d travel in campers.

We camped out (if sleeping in campers is camping out) and cooked most of our meals over an open campfire.

For breakfast, we didn’t just have cereal. We had meals.

Aunt Phyllis could cook a half-dozen eggs at a time, baste them until they were just done perfectly and slide all six out of the pan in one motion without breaking any.

Mama took along a heavy cake pan, made of cast aluminum (I think) to use as a griddle for frying bacon or making pancakes.

I inherited my mother-in-laws pan like that. While I don’t often cook for a lot of people like Mama did, I take it along when I fix biscuits at our writers’ retreat each year.

It would be about the right size to fix cinnamon rolls in, too. I may have to try it later.

So how about it? Do you believe in eating breakfast or not?