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24 posts from October 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tribute to My Father-in-Law - One Fine Man

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Today was my father-in-law's birthday.  He would have been 83 today had he lived.  Ken was a great guy.  Lighthearted, very funny, and a bit quirky after having suffered a debilitating stroke in 1991.  He always had a smile and a one-liner for everyone he met.  We sure do miss him.

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Ken and Geneva were married for 52 years when he passed in March, 2005 from an undetected case of pneumonia.

He and Geneva had one son and one child only - whom they always called "Bobby" and whom I call "Big Bear" (that's because that is exactly what my hubby is - a big bear). 

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Ken served honorably in the Navy during WWII, and worked for J.P. Stevens & Co. as a regional sales manager for for the Gulistan Carpet Division for 35 years.  He also worked for the Hecht Co. for a long time.  He didn't make a lot of money in his lifetime, but he worked hard to support his wife, whom he adored, and his son, who was the apple of his eye.  Ken's pride in his son was never more evident than when he smiled and snickered and hung out with Bob.

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I knew Ken for 13 years before he passed, and four of those years he and Geneva lived with Bob and I in our 4-bedroom home in Woodbine.  They had lived for 35 years in their home in Olney, Maryland.  A home that they loved and took great pride in.  It was a small home in a nice community, and had all the elements of "cozy" within.  Geneva and Ken, both, prided themselves on the simple decor, and 70s elegant colors that they lived with for 30 years before Bob decided it was time for a change. 

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Ken let Bob do whatever he wanted to their house.  He tore out the carport and singlehandedly built a huge 3 car attached garage.  Bob ripped out the kitchen down to the studs right before we were married and spent nearly every weekend over at his parents remodeling their kitchen (Believe me when I tell you I had to bite my tongue and practice enormous patience and tolerance for these endeavors at his parent's home)

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Bob built a beautiful sunroom on the back of the home too which was originally supposed to be a room for Ken after his stroke so that he didn't have to walk up and down stairs.  Ken couldn't talk well after his stroke.  He muttered his words, slurred his vowels, stumbled over what he was trying to say, and occasionally show such frustration over not being able to get out of his mouth what he was trying to think that he would take his right hand, swat the air in front of him, and say "Oh Hell, forget it."  He always managed, somehow, to get those 4 words out if nothing else.

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Ken was also a prangster and a flirt.  You couldn't help but love him.  In Maryland, where he worked for so many years, they called him the "Mayor of Georgia Avenue."  Don't know the whole story, but it had something to do with him flirting with all the ladies.  He was a goofy character.  He never stopped trying to live as full a life as he could after the stroke.  He knew that Geneva needed him and couldn't live without him.  She depended on him for nearly everything and when Ken had the stroke, she turned to Bob.  Geneva was fragile like that.  Nevertheless, Ken adored her and flirted with her to the end. 

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"Hey you - who are you? what's your name?" he would ask Geneva nearly every day.

"Pootin-tane, ask me again and I'll tell you the same." She'd reply with a laugh and a big smile. 

He'd ask the same comical line of each of us at one time or another while trying to look serious.  Oh, what a look he had.  Too funny he was.

Every time we passed a cemetary he'd pipe up - "Hey, do you know how many people are dead over there?" he'd ask the kids.  All the kids would holler "220!  400! 350!"  Ken would get that snicker on his face and say "You all done?"  "Yep Granddad, how many?"  Ken would say with a skip in his voice - "All of them!" and we'd all laugh and carry on.

Ken was the king of cleaning his plate of 2 big helpings of whatever was for dinner.  It didn't matter what it was, he'd finish everything then take his finger and whip it across whatever particles, crumbs, or gravy was left on the plate.  Poor Matthew.  One evening at dinner after Ken had finished eating and Matthew was still working on his meal, Ken reached over and said "Matthew, pull my finger."  "Why Granddad?  Does it hurt you." "Yep, go ahead boy, pull my finger."  Well, you've all heard this one a thousand times and yes, that elephant lifted him about 2 feet off the chair.

Ken told the same jokes over and over again.  We'd go out for a meal and he'd always ask for Potomac punch.  "Potomac punch?" the server would ask.  "I'm sorry sir, we don't have that."  "The hell you don't! It's water - Potomac punch - get it?"

Or Jack Daniels.  Lordy be, you couldn't ask him what he wanted to drink with any meal without him immediately responding "Jack Daniels."  Jack Daniels.  Jack Daniels.  Yeah, yeah, Ken, Jack Daniels.  Just so you know, on Ken's birthday every year, and tonight was no exception, Bob toasted Dad with a shot of Jack Daniels.  "To Dad, we love you wherever you are, and we are sure you are chasing the pretty girls."

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As easy as it was to get along with Ken, it was miserably difficult to get along with Bob's mother, Geneva, but that's another story for another time.  It wasn't all roses and fun in the 4 years that they lived with us either.  We had noticed that Ken was having difficulty getting up and down and Geneva was becoming more frail and her memory was horrible.  We'd argue with her constantly over bills not being paid, the electric being turned off because the bill wasn't paid, her insurance lapsed for the same reason, and basically just falling apart.  We had Geneva tested and it was determined that she probably had progressive Alzheimer's disease.  So right before Thanksgiving, 2001, they came to spend the holidays with us and never left.  Bob had just lost his job then too from Compaq due to a layoff and acquisition with Hewlett Packard, so he had some time on his hands to help with his parents. 

We cleaned up and cleaned out their house in Olney.  35 years of memories accumulated.  It took us 2 years to go through it all and fix the house up so that it would sell.  The strange thing is, they didn't show signs of missing it all that much.  They enjoyed being with us all the time and having the grandchildren to dote over each day.

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They'd get outside and take walks to the end of the driveway now and then, especially when the weather was nice in the spring and fall, and Ken would drag himself out of the recliner at Geneva's insistence for a breath of fresh air.

It wasn't easy caring for them.  Geneva got progressively worse and became more and more agitated with everyone around her as her memory continued to fail her.  She started to forget where she was, or wander out the door to go home - her home in Olney, even after it was sold.  She occasionally thought Bob was her brother or her husband.  It was tough.  Very tough.  Ken - I could tell he was feeling a bit depressed with Geneva as the days, weeks, and months went by.  I had never seen Ken get angry - really angry - with Geneva until she wanted to fight with him about every subject they discussed.  He and Geneva would sit for hours at our kitchen table and just sit.  Sometimes they'd play cards, but then Ken would get frustrated and pound the table and cuss.  Poor Ken.  He tried hard to be tolerant of the changes that his lovely wife was experiencing.

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It was taking a mental toll on Ken, and I could tell that in his last years, he was feeling less and less of a man and more worried about Geneva.  His stroke had made it difficult for him to get to a bathroom in time, and he had trouble with the circulation in his legs and feet.  There were times we were certain it was gangrene setting in, but the doctor said "no."  He just had poor circulation.  He always coughed too.  Always.  He'd cough and spit into a kleenex.  I know, gross.  I thought so too.  It gave me indigestion and grossed me out somethin' awful.  And I can still hear him coughing and hacking in my brain as if he were in the next room.  Isn't it amazing how these quirky things stick with you permanently even after a loved one is gone? 

Ken had all but given up on Geneva.  She had come downstairs from her bedroom on about 3 different occasions at around midnight if we were downstairs and say to Bob: "Excuse me kind sir, but there is a strange man in my bed and he won't leave.  He came for a visit, but now it is time for him to go home and I can't get him out of my bed."

As you can probably guess, this irritated Ken and broke his heart.  Geneva would confabulate the most elaborate stories about this man who was visiting her and how he was a friend, but she couldn't remember his name.  Only that he was from Tennessee and needed to go home.  When we told her that that was her husband, Ken, and they had been married for 52 years, she'd smile and say "Noooo.  I've never been married."  This went on for six weeks, so...

When Ken sat in his favorite recliner one March afternoon to take a nap, Bob didn't think much of it.  I was sitting in the other recliner watching television and preparing dinner with the children while Bob was mowing the grass.  Ken looked to be resting well.  Bob had taken him to see the doctor just 2 days prior and everything seemed to be fine.  But something was eating at me.  I kept looking over at Ken and my instincts told me he had to go to the hospital - immediately.  Bob said "no, he's fine, Susan, I just had him to the doctor!"  Men, why don't they listen to a woman's instincts.  This world would be a lot better off if more men listened to their woman. 

I got fed up.  Dinner or no dinner, if I had to take him to the hospital myself, he was going to get there. Ken said "no, I'm fine.  I'm just tired."  And he continued to lay in that favorite recliner and snooze.

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Watch out for me when I've got a camera in hand.  I am forever taking pictures.  I like un-posed, natural, real-life pictures, and my camera goes with me everywhere.  It is always within reach, so I took this picture of Ken, paper towel in hand, and a bunch on his lap too, sitting comfortably in his favorite chair.  He looked peaceful, but I knew something was dreadfully wrong.  I called an ambulance - then I told Bob.  He had no choice but to go with the flow. 

Before they arrived, Ken shuffled, as he always did with his cane, to the golden  wing-back chair by the front door.  He sat down and I helped him get on his coat and socks and shoes.  As I tied his shoes I looked up at him and told him "I love you, Ken"

to which he replied "What's your name? Do I know you?" 

"Pootin-tane, ask me again and I'll tell you the same."  and he smiled his big smile and then snickered at me with those endearing blue eyes looking right through me and he patted me on the head like a puppy dog.

All the children ran up to him and cried, hugged him hard, and told him they loved him.   He patted them all on the bee-hind and said "I love you too.  You be good." 

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He looked at Geneva and told her he loved her.  She smiled and said "I love you too" and for a moment we'd think she had her faculties about her.  Then Ken said in his comical manner, "We're getting married next week, you know." and Geneva would smile and laugh and say "Okay."

Ken looked at my mother, Mary, who has lived with us for 10 years now, and he said the darndest thing.  He said "Well Mary, I guess this is goodbye."  My mother got really upset.  I can't remember the last time I saw my mother get that upset - "What do you mean, 'goodbye' Ken?  You'll be back home giving Geneva hell by tomorrow morning."

He just smiled at my mother and then at all of us.  Matthew, his grandson, our baby boy, asked Ken if he could sit on his lap and read him a story.  Ken said "Sure Matthew hop on." 

So Matthew hopped up on Granddaddy Ken's lap and read him some stories about Curious George.  A few minutes later the ambulance arrived.  They put him on the gurney and strapped him in.  They checked his pulse.  Ken was waving to us in his funny way and making faces at the kids - sticking out his tongue and wiggling his ears.

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Bob and I went to the hospital, following the ambulance to the Emergency Room.  They took Ken directly back and started monitoring him.  They discovered that one of his lungs was completely filled with fluid and half the other lung was too.  Now Bob was beside himself upset because the doctor, just 2 days prior, had said he was fine.  What we learned is that when pneumonia is severe, sometimes it can sound like the lungs are clear when they are actually full.  I don't know, I'm obviously not a doctor, but Bob and I were torn apart by the news. 

They did all they could and for a while it looked like he was going to pull through.  I had high hopes, but Bob just looked at me and said "Susan, we haven't hit the witching hour yet."  "Huh?  What's the witching hour?"  Bob took my hand and said "That's the 4am hour.  The hour that most people die."  Well, I had never heard such a thing and I wasn't about to give up hope.  Neither was Bob.  He was worried about 4am, though.  I could tell.

By 3:30 in the morning, it wasn't looking good and his blood pressure started to drop little by little.  With Bob holding his father's right hand, and I holding his left, Ken took his last breath at 3:59 am.  He was at peace.  Bob and I both let out a scream and a cry and the doctor and nurses came in, but they knew it was over.  There was no hope.  Ken knew too.  He knew before we did. 

Well, today is his birthday, and it has taken me the entire day to put together my favorite pictures of the man I called "Father-in-law" and whom I loved dearly.  I wanted to share my memories with you.  My friends.  He taught me how to laugh in the midst of chaos.  Thank you, Ken.  I sure did learn a lot from you and I promise to keep smiling, laughing, and joking even when it's tough.

We love you.  We miss you. 

Your only daughter (in-law) Susan

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Where's My Pizza?

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Last night, all of us hungry and none of us wanting to cook - decided to go to dinner.  Unfortunately, as is the case most of the time, we didn't know where to go, so we ended up fussin' in the Suburban - all 6 of us - over where to eat.  So, at 4 dollars a gallon we're driving down the road with nowhere in sight.  As is often the case in our family.  Don't you just love nights like this?  Hungry.  Tired.  No shower.  No plans.  Just wingin' it.  We're good at this kind of chaos.  It was to be an interesting evening - and that's putting it mildly.  (and if I didn't know better I'd swear that was a picture of telephone cords served up on a plate in the picture above)

We ended up at Buca di Beppo in Pineville.  We've never been there.  As a matter of fact, for all the times I've passed it in the 3 years that we have lived here, I always thought it was called "Bucs" and I wasn't about to eat at a place called "Bucs."  I envisioned one of those electrical bulls center stage, with Cynthia Nixon (Sex in the City) straddling the dang thing feeling mighty powerful.  For 3 years, I've stayed clear of "Bucs," and now I may actually know why - although the food was mighty tasty.

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Envision Lucille Ball in an I Love Lucy scene when she goes to a - whatayacallit - a Medium.  And she has this Medium, beguiled in jewels and long fingernails, rub a crystal ball and tell her her future as an entertainer at the Babalu.  Read her cards.  Scratch her head.  Smile at her with golden teeth.  Uh, try to find the fastest exit.  I felt like we were going to see spirits and have someone read us our cards.  Or something.  Dinner?  Did you all want dinner?  We serve heads here. 

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I do believe that Alison was frightened by the menu.  Get Me Out of Here!  Are you all trying to have me roasted? 

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"Oh dear God in Heaven.  I am too old and too tired for this sh**.  Why did I leave New Mexico?  What have I done!  Why have I come to this place to live with these people?  Why is Sarah holding a pencil next to my head?  Who Am I?  Why am I here?  Where the hell is that Medium!!!"

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Oh look!  It's our server!  Mr. David Petty himself.  The one and only.  Trying to break into Nascar Broadcasting is a tough business, so he works here - between ... between what?

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As usual, the family got comfortable.  Glen was so hungry, he decided to dig for his dinner.

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Matthew decided to pout because he couldn't find anything interesting on the menu.

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Sarah decided to give Big Daddy Bear the evil eye for insisting we eat at this odd place.  "I'm going to make you pay for this, Dad.  You just wait.  Your time is comin.'"

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Big Bear took this opportunity to flip AVAYA the bird. (children close your eyes for a moment - but only for a moment) 

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And so, we took this opportunity to enjoy the scenery.  I had to look at this picture 3 times before I realized that it wasn't the man trying to put his hand up this woman's dress.  She must have had an itch.

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These flowers went very nicely with the decor.  The casket was on the other side.

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And behind this wall rests Mr. Blue Eyes himself. Light a candle and say a prayer before entering.

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And see this picture of Sophia Loren? 

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Matthew was mesmerized by her beauty and couldn't stop staring.

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Sarah paid no attention to her surroundings.  Instead she answered homework questions from her World History class in preparation for the next day's test.  Such as:

1. Which Crusade was a success? Answer: The Last Crusade, of course.  Clearly Indiana Jones was the best.

2. Be familiar with the Children's Crusade.  Answer:  Okay, that's easy.   Isn't that the day after school lets out and everyone heads to Disney World? 

3. What was the System of Feudalism?  Answer:  Isn't that the system in which the children have to exit the room when the parents are feuding?

4. How should we treat the elderly?  Answer: "Mom, how do you spell  'formaldehyde?'"

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Glen is clearly getting impatient for dinner.

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Where's our server?  Why is he hiding?  Doesn't he know we've been waiting for 5 minutes?  Why do we have to chase him to the kitchen?!!

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"Mr. Cook.  Where's our dinner? We're hungry here.  We are your worst customer nightmare" (although we certainly are the most interesting.)  "Mr. Cook?  Cooker?  Chef-a-tooee?  Is this Ratatouille's?  Where are the rats?  I'm the inspector.  Hello!"

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Ahhhhh, Sophia Loren again.

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"She is the most magnificent female creature that has ever lived.  I love her.  I want her.  Can I have her?"

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"Who am I?  Why have my parents done this to me?  What is this feeling in the pit my stomach?  Why am I in love with Sophia Loren?  What do you mean she just turned 74?  Are you stinkin' kidding me?!!!

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There was something wrong with Alison.  Alison?  Nice nails.  Alison?  I think she sees spirits!  Alison?

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"Oh my darling Matthew.  My sweet, adorable boy.  Don't you think I'm as beautiful and magnificent as Sophia?"

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"Matthew, I don't get it.  I know I am as gorgeous as Sophia.  I just don't get it.  I thought you loved me?"

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"I'm heartbroken.  I was never more in love than with Matthew.  Men, you're all alike.  Sarah?  Why are you holding that pencil next to my head?"

And for the final summary of our evening...

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"Mean Avaya! Where's my severance?  Or better yet - where's my pizza?"

I told you it was a strange evening.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Under the Covers


You won't believe this anymore than I do, but I laid down for a nap yesterday at 1pm because, as you may well know, I've been sick for the last week, and I just felt worn out.  I didn't wake up until 7am this morning.  What's wrong with this picture?  I was out.  Totally. 

I did ask my Big Bear if he checked to make sure I was still breathing.  He said "Yep, 3 times, and one time you answered me back with 'I'm sweatin' it out, I'm sweatin' it out'."  I guess so.  There was some heavy dreamin' going on for my lost Sunday, but geez, I sure would have preferred to spend yesterday - conscious.   I wonder if this is what it is like to be in a coma?

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On top of that, I missed calling my mother to wish her a Happy Birthday!  Happy Birthday Mom.  I didn't forget about ya, I just slept thru your birthday. 

My mom is 84 years old now.  Hard to believe.  Mom - hope you are enjoying your visit with Mike. 

Stay well.  Love you.

Me - your unconscious daughter

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gobble Gobble


Talk about having too much time on my hands!  As you may have noticed, I've been making some adjustments to the design of my blog (and to my nose and neck in Photoshop).  My microblog-adjustments make it easier to comment, too, because the comment box is at the bottom of the post.  Right there in front of your face.  You have to comment.  It's there.  It's the law.  I made it happen and besides, I insist. Except for those stinkin' spammers.  Go away.  I delete you anyway.  Does that make sense or did you just decide to close your laptop and pick your toes? 

For those of you who are still with me here - put it this way: I designed this blog - the whole dang thing - from scratch.  Well, almost.  I was also inspired by some of my favorite blogs to figure out a few things on my own, and motivated with the help of the TypePad knowledge base.  I am, however, still confused.  But I am learning, albeit at a snail's pace, how to be my own blog designer.  I'm right-brained and Mensa, what else can I tell ya?

So, I've been trying (among other things) to figure out how to make the comments more readable, friendlier, prettier, slippier, formaber, wittier, numberier.  That explains it, right?  Oh, and I want to make my homepage less bloggy and more designer feisty, snazzy, less crappy.  AND, I want you to like me.  I need you to like me - and read me.  It probably doesn't do me any good to try to make up a new blogging word like "formaber" to snag you on my wormy hook, but you can't blame a girl for trying can ya?

Now that I have attempted to extrapolate** more readers to my blog, I want you to know that you are appreciated.  Yep, I appreciate you for reading my Toaster of stories.  Thank you.  Leave comments too, please - even if you can't find them after you post them.  I read them.  All of them.  Every syllable and grammatical error, just to balance out the fact that you read all my syllables and grammatical errors and new blogging words.  That's only fair.  I really am nice.  It is my goal here to accommodate my readers with a very nice, high tech, classy, smooth, pleasing, happy blog site.  Okay? 

No, I have not been drinking.  Yes, I am currently on a Hydrocodone and cough suppressant induced scavenger hunt for a blog designer and more readers.  Wow, that Hydrocodone is Good stuff when you're sick.

If there are any weblog designers out there who can jazz me up, I'll barter with ya.  I'm cash poor at the moment as my Big Bear is currently out of work and we need to feed our family of 6 (Thanks a helluva lot AVAYA! You stinkin' ... whatever)  I'll advertise for ya,  I'll do a painting for ya, I will, hmmm, within reason, of course, do something really nice for ya, but I'd appreciate a true professional like Heather at Oh My Stinkin' Heck (hint, hint) to please help me polish up my Toaster.  I need a really good polish and organizer too.  Web Designer I am not.  Painter, yes.  Writer, that's debatable.  My English Composition professor would have a cow right about now with this post.  I can see the red marker pen doing everything short of scratching a big X over the whole darn thing and telling me to start over. 

But to keep you really interested in my Hydrocodone induced creative energy, take a look at these pictures:


Now look at this one:


THAT is exactly what I want to do with my Toaster - Miss Raisin Toast - get it?  I want a face lift, neck lift, nose job - by a blog design surgeon.  This is my midlife crisis, folks!  And then, if I get up the guts, I may actually go get one myself because Photoshop managed to take 10 years off my face with that stinkin' clone tool.  What a hoot.

** extrapolate:  To extend the application of (a method or conclusion, esp. one based on statistics) to an unknown situation by assuming that existing trends will continue (if my blog doesn't get a face lift soon it will have to be happy on its current path) or similar methods will be applicable (eg. the results cannot be extrapolated by the statistical analysis of other blogs, but I can hope, right?) 

Good word.  My free gift to you. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I Want My Mommy

Susan2008_7 by you.

I'm miserable.  I have been sick for nearly a week and it isn't getting better.  The thing is getting worse.  Dangnammit.  Symptoms: labored breathing, coughing, congestion, aches, hot flashes (the sick kind not the hormonal kind. LOL)  I feel like I've been burned in the chest with a hot poker.  Cough, cough, hack, hack - am I losing a stinkin' lung here?!!!  Irregular heart beats.  Cough, cough, cough - Crap!   I've always had a feeling I was going to drop dead early, but this isn't what I thought would be my way out. 

Oh, as for doctors - I have purposefully not gone because we need every dollar.  Thanks a helluva lot AVAYA!  So I am trying to ride this out albeit miserably.  If I think I really am losing a lung, I suppose I'll go to the doctor.  So, just a note, if I go 2 or 3 days without posting you know I dropped dead.  Not a very pleasant thought.  No, there are not multiple pictures to go "specifically" with this post unless you want to see pictures of this gray-headed, woebegone, 49 year old lying in bed next to a moutainous trash can of tissues.   Ewww.  So instead, I put pictures of me with a good haircut that have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I am sick-as-a-dog here.

Mary Susan Vaughn by you.

Speaking of dogs, I have such a wonderful dog - and he has been following me everywhere.  He won't leave my side.  Adolf looks at me with those big expressive eyebrows as if to say "I am so sorry you are sick, Mom, please get better soon."  He is such a good boy.

I am, however, enjoying looking out the window at our green grass.  Yep, we've got grass, and as soon as I pull my sorry butt out of bed I'll go run thru it with happy toes.

In the meantime, I want my Mommy - but she's in Florida.  She always dotes on me when I'm sick and has this worried voice - "Ol Susan, can I get you anything?  I hate to see you sick like this."  You know how mother's are.  I suppose I'll just have to settle for Big Bear making me soup and 10 oz mugs of hot tea with lemon.  He's such a good bear.

Love, - Me


Update: I dragged my lazy butt out of bed and went to the doctor.  He's such a nice man.  I particularly enjoyed the People Magazine with Paul Newman on the cover.  I love Paul Newman.  He was the most handsome man ever!  I could look at him all day.  Oh, nuts ... then my nice Dr. Kendall walked in.  Sorry, Paul, gotta do what I gotta do - cough-cough - Crap! 

Diagnosis: I have an upper bronchial infection infarction respiratory lung thing.  It's icky.  It's gross.  It hurts my chest.  I whistle when I breathe.  Yuk.  Got myself all brandied up with prescriptions and antibiotics and told to go home, get in bed, read a good book, have some hot tea with lemon and honey, lots of chicken noodle soup, a foot rub, a back scratch, a head and neck massage.  Yep, had him write the prescription for that too.  Big Bear had better oblige or I'm going to hit him with a pillow when he's cuttin' wood to my right tonight. 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Politics - And Growing Up in an Era of an Unpopular War

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Having grown up the daughter of a very active politician, I know, full well, the toll that politics play on children.  My dad, in my eyes, was bigger than life.  He doted on me all the time, and made me feel like I was his pride and joy.  Every little girl should have such problems, right?  I was his only little girl, and the youngest in the family.  Oh, to be a little girl and have such problems.  So, when he started campaigning for U.S. Senate in 1962 and Congress in 1964, and he ran for House of Delegates and again for U.S. Senate in the 70s.  I was small and out-of-touch, but I was a proud daughter.

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I listened to everything my father said, and all of his opinions.  I didn't understand all that he was discussing, but I did try to grasp what he was saying. 

Now that I am an adult (or at least I think I'm one), I've formed my own opinions about politics, and if there is one thing I know for sure now, it's that my father was, well, a bit over-the-top in his views.  Then again, maybe it was just the times we were living in.  Times were tough back then.  They were a lot different than the times we are living in today.

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There was the Vietnam War raging strongly on peoples minds, much like the Iraq War and War in Afghanistan is now.  But back then, we didn't have the ability to communicate with our loved ones like we do now.  Thank God for the internet and email!  Thank God for 24 hour news like CNN and MSNBC!  We didn't have those luxuries back in the 60s.  We had NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX.  It was in black & white.  It was a luxury just having a television back then. 

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The 1960s were an important era in American history - it began by the domination of John F. Kennedy's Presidency and the Civil Rights Movement.  That was a big thing back in the 60s, and if you think about it, that wasn't too long ago.  The equal rights we take for granted now were non-existent back in the 60s and the war was on in our own streets.

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Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and I can recall sitting in my living room with my Mom.  She was sitting  on the sofa behind me and I was sitting in front of the television in my pretty new dress from Sears and new shoes.  Mom wanted to watch the news and then Walter Cronkite came on about the Kennedy assassination.  Mom was in shock.  She was glued to the television.  I didn't understand what was going on and remember worrying that my daddy would be shot too. 

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My dad worked in Real Estate Development and was very successful, but I didn't understand all those things back then.  In 1963 I was 4 years old.  My brain was hardly a blip on the radar.  All I knew was that my Daddy was involved in politics and politics killed.  I didn't want him to ever leave home again. 

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Daddy comforted me.  Like he always did.  He'd lift me up into his big, strong arms and talk to me like I was all grown up.  He valued my feelings, my opinion (even though I was only 4) and he respected me.  Not many kids can say that, and I feel enormously blessed to have grown up with a father and mother who made me feel important and valued.  Lord knows I do the same for my own kids - a lesson from my own childhood brought full circle.

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Still, the 1960s were tough years for America.  Lyndon Johnson became President following Kennedy's assassination and he followed in his footsteps to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Again, this was a big deal in American history!  I recall, again, sitting in front of our console television set with the entire family watching Johnson being sworn into office.  I don't know what it was about him, but for some reason, I didn't like Johnson, and you know what?  I can honestly say I don't think it had anything to do with parental opinion.  He just came across to me as being a shady man.  Never underestimate your instincts - even if you are only 4 years old! 

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Back to our discussion - By the middle of the 1960s the streets from coast-to-coast were populated by protestors of the war, and rioting.  It consumed the nightly news, but Walter Cronkite was the epitome of composure through it all, except, of course, when Kennedy was assassinated.  He cried.  He got all choked up.  I remember it as if it were just last month.  Amazing the things that get burned into our memory as a child.

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What more could possibly happen to upset an already traumatic era?  How about the assassination of 2 of this country's most promising leaders - Martin Luther King (the voice and leader of the Civil Rights Movement) and Robert F. Kennedy?  This led to more grief and violence amid a country that was clearly already falling apart.  The Vietnam War was so unpopular, and Johnson was so out-of-touch with what was going on that he didn't even bother to seek re-election.  It was totally out of control.

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My brother Mike (the one in the 47 jersey) was attending the University of Maryland and was involved with my father in campaigning.  He didn't get involved in all the drugs and hippy culture things goin' on.  He did, however, get drafted (his draft number was 2) and got on a plane to boot camp.  Fortunately, because he was attending college, he was able to serve our country in the Air Force here at home.  He didn't have to go to Vietnam.  Thank God for blessings like that.

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Richard Nixon won the Presidential election in 1968 and my parents got all dressed up in their finest Washington garb and attended Nixon's inauguration party.  Nixon was probably the best foreign-relations President this country ever had.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that his 14 terms in office were marked with the Watergate scandal, but come on folks, without Nixon, this country would have been in a world of hurt (get it?  world of hurt?  I know, this isn't really a time to be witty).  Still, that time marked stressed foreign relations across the globe. 

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Nixon's presidency was also marked by a detente with the Soviet Union.  That was a biggie.  Then Nixon opened up communications and diplomatic relations with China.  This had a major impact, because it brought our troops home from Viet Nam.  Then in 1972, Nixon screwed it all up when 5 guys working for the Republicans were arrested for bugging the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel.  It was soon discovered that the break-in had ties to the White House and Nixon.  My dad was pissed.  (and that's putting it mildly).  My dad was beside himself upset.  I can still hear him yelling at the television set and cussin' something awful. 

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You see, back in the years that Nixon was in office, my dad ran for U.S. Senate again, and this time his motto was "Nixon Needs Simms."  Yeah, I'd have to say so.  Maybe if he had won a seat in the Senate, Nixon would not have been so stupid.  I know, I know, the possibility that my father, somehow, would have changed the course of Nixon's administration is about as likely as me walking on the moon someday, but hey! It was a thought - although a strange one. 

But, when I was a kid, I liked to think that somehow my father's involvement in politics and working for the people, somehow changed things for the better.  I'd surely like to think so. 

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You see, my father passed away at the tender age of 55 in 1980.  Far too young to be going home.  I was 5 months pregnant at the time with my daughter, Kimberly, who is now 27 years old.  I was a daddy's girl, and my father's passing sent me over the edge.  And besides, I was only 21, newly married, and the mother of a toddler and a new baby.  What did I know?  Nothin'.  Absolutely nothin' at all.  I needed my daddy, and he left me on my own.  Sure, I had my mother, but there's a big difference when you're a daddy's girl. 

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Politics have a way of affecting all of us, and having grown up in a time of turmoil, transition, war, riots, and heavy-duty politics - with a father who was actively involved in all of it - I know that this election and campaign must also be affecting the young daughters of our current candidates. 

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Putting that all aside, let's not forget what the real issues are here at home and in a time of war, and vote based on good judgment, sound judgment, and a look at the facts.  You see, we have more at our disposal now than we ever could have dreamed possible back in the 1960s.  We have the internet - that information highway that has no end in sight.  Use it.  If you are reading this, then you can Google to your heart's content.  Research.  Don't leave any questions unanswered, and be an educated voter.  You'll be glad you did.  Bottom line -  being  Democrat or Republican isn't the hard line politics that it once was, and it doesn't clearly outline what the true liberal or conservative views are.  Deep down I think we are all a little of both.  It's about following your beliefs.  Look at where the candidates stand on the issues, especially the issues that are important to you - and vote for the candidate that best supports your own personal views. 

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That is what makes this country great - your VOTE really does count.  It counts a helluva lot.  Your VOTE makes history.  So make history this year and VOTE - but do your due diligence first and research.  Then follow your conscience - and make it an educated one.


Monday, October 13, 2008

My Pretty Little Princess

SarahAge8-1 by you.

I don't think Sarah would appreciate me calling her that - now that she is 14, a high schooler, and part tomboy at the moment.  However, she used to be all girly-girl, pink room and everything, always wearing dresses, skirts, frilly this and that.  Now she wears jeans and Harley Davidson t-shirts to school.

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I have a funny story to tell about Sarah.  When she was 5 years old and we were living in Maryland, I received an invitation to have Sarah participate in a local pageant - Pretty Little Princess.  So, at the last minute (because I am not a pageant mom type person, nor am I very prompt about doing things) I sent in the invitation with the registration fee and Sarah's picture and a week later I was told that she was accepted into the pageant. 

Sarah would need a dressy dress and a slacks outfit.  So that is exactly what we got her for this ceremonious occasion.  Sarah looked adorable.  Her hair is the most beautiful head of hair I've ever seen.  Long.  Shiny.  Unnaturally thick.  Naturally wavy.  And, at 5, her hair was way past her shoulders and gorgeous. 

When we arrived at the Hyatt Regency Hotel where the pageant was being staged, I accompanied Sarah into the dressing room where we were surrounded by a barrage of little girls with big hair, too much makeup, and big dresses, from age 3 to 5. 

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I was sad, because I had told Sarah that we were there to have fun and yet, the other little girls didn't look like they were having much fun.  Sadly, it appeared to be all about the Moms and not the children.  I felt bad for some of them.  I had told Sarah that she could model her pretty new clothes to all these people and that we wanted her to have fun, make new friends, and smile.  Just be herself and have fun.  I didn't put any makeup on her precious face.  Not a stitch.  I let the natural wave of her hair be her pride.  I let her smile speak volumes about her personality. 

So Sarah ran around the dressing room and introduced herself to the other little girls.  "Isn't this going to be fun?" she would say.  "We get to show our pretty new clothes to all these people!"  She introduced herself with enthusiasm and a smile. 

One mother asked me to please control my daughter because she was disrupting the other little girls who were not permitted to move their hair or touch anything.  (As I said, I thought it was sad how these mothers dressed their daughters up like circus characters).  Still, after Sarah made her rounds and met everyone, she sat down with me and we talked.

I told her that all the little girls were beautiful just like her, but that beauty was on the inside.  I told her that we were there to make new friends and to show them our pretty new clothes.  I told Sarah that all the little girls were there to have fun and dress pretty.  I DID NOT tell her one thing about it being a competition.  Not one thing. 


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Sarah had no idea she was in a competition, and she treated this day and everyone there like a friend.  I was so proud of her.  Most of the other mothers didn't see it that way though.  I just wanted Sarah to have a positive experience and to not be afraid to be out in front of an audience.  I wanted her to be confident - and she was.

The mother's and their daughters took turns going out on stage.  When it was Sarah's turn, I walked onto the runway with Sarah hand-in-hand and then remained in the background while she walked down the main isle with a big smile to show off her pretty new clothes. 

And smile she did.  She did her thing and didn't follow any set rules.   Sarah was Sarah all over the place.  She made my heart sing joyfully.  She waved and smiled to the judges.  She even looked at one of them and said "Don't you think my dress is pretty?"  It was a shining moment in mother-daughter memories.

Sarah ran back to me and I took her hand and we walked off stage.  We did this twice - once for the casual outfit, and once for the more dressy dress, then we all gathered at the foot of the stage - mothers and daughters together, and we took a seat so that the presenters could give out the awards.

I sat down on the floor with Sarah as did all the other mothers and daughters - 45 contestants in all in Sarah's age group - and we waited anxiously.  Sarah did not know what was going on.  She said "Was I pretty Mommy?"  "Sweetheart, you were absolutely beautiful."  Sarah smiled ear-to-ear, sat in my lap and gave me a big hug.  "I love you, Mommy.  I've had a lot of fun today."  "I love you too babydoll."

"What's that?" Sarah said as she pointed to a large table in the back of the runway that was now covered in trophies.  "Those are trophies.  Every little girl will get one because you are all so special."  Sarah smiled.  "Will I get a tiara too?"  I looked at Sarah and I said that I thought only 1 little girl would wear the special tiara but that I would make sure she got one of her own.  Sarah, as usual, smiled and hugged me tight.

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At the microphone was the presenter.  She was announcing the winners of the various categories - Best Dress, Best Casual Outfit, Miss Congeniality, Prettiest Smile, and then they announced the winner of the Miss Personality Award and mentioned Sarah's name.  I nearly fell over.  Sarah ran up on stage and got a little tiara and a trophy that read "Pretty Little Princess Miss Personality 1999."  She ran back to sit beside me and was so excited.  I didn't know what she had won until she sat down because I wasn't paying attention until they called out her name.  I didn't want to get my hopes up.  Sarah could have cared less during the process.  She didn't know it was a competition. 

When I saw that it was for "Miss Personality" I thought that that was so appropriate for my sweet Sarah.  She was full of personality and I was beaming with pride.  So, the presenter began to announce the top winners.  "The third runner up is ..." and we applauded the little girl that won that title and trophy.  "The second runner up is ..." and we did the same, applauding the precious little girl who won that title.

As the little girl was sitting down next to her mother, I couldn't help but think about Sarah and how proud I was of her.  I knew that if her name was not called for first runner up, that the day was exactly as I had planned it - perfect.  Sarah was happy, she made new friends, and she glowed.  It brought tears to my eyes.

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"And the first runner up is ..." and no, the presenter did not call Sarah's name.  So I hugged Sarah, I looked at her "Miss Personality" trophy with her, and I said to her "Sweetie, I am so proud of you.  You will always be my Pretty Little Princess."  Sarah looked at me and said "I know Mommy.  I've had a lot of fun.  Can we get ice cream after?"  "Absolutely" I said while hugging her. 

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"And the Winner of this year's Pretty Little Princess is ... (and I hugged Sarah closer and kissed her forehead) Sarah Margaret Vaughn!"  "Oh My God!"  I nearly fainted.  Uh, huh?  Did I hear this right?  You're kidding right?  All eyes were on us.  Suddenly, Sarah looked at me, stood up and said "Mommy, can I go get my tiara now?"  I'm still in shock.  "uuuuuh, sure sweetie, uuuuuh, go on up there on the stage."  As Sarah ran to the stage the first thing the presenter did was put a sash over Sarah's dress that read "Pretty Little Princess, 1999"  Then they put a beautiful tiara on her head and Sarah grabbed it to straighten it up.  Then they handed Sarah a trophy that was almost as big as Sarah herself!  So they called me on stage to help her carry it down the isle.  And that is exactly what I did.

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I crawled on my knees across the stage helping Sarah hold the tall, heavy trophy and keep that tiara from falling off her head. 

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Suddenly, I had hundreds of eyes on Sarah and on me and they were not all smiles.  I ignored them.  I never told Sarah she was in a competition.  I just told her we were there to have fun - and fun is exactly what we had.  We just happened to win the whole dang thing.

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Surprised?  Not really.  I didn't expect Sarah to win.  Not at all.  And I didn't prime her to be a pageant winner either.  I just wanted Sarah to be herself and enjoy the process.  Which leads me to the moral of this story - because yes, even though there was no "moral" that I was searching for in the process, it lead to one anyway - to be yourself.  Be true to who you are.  Don't try to be someone or something that you are not.  Be happy for other's successes.  Be humble and gentle of spirit.  Care about others and their feelings.  And smile. You will surely be a winner - no matter where life takes you.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ding-Dong Ditch



Original Story Posted on: June 25, 2008

What is it about kids these days that they have to do stupid things to the neighbors?  Just now (it is 10:30pm) someone rang our doorbell.  Adolf goes nuts and is barking his head off.  Bob is upstairs working in his office and I'm downstairs in the kitchen.  We all go to the door and ask who it is.  Nobody.  We turn on the lights and there is nobody there.  Naturally, we let Adolf out the front door.  I was hoping he'd find them and take a bite out of their butt and bring it back to me so that I could roast it on an open fire. 

Now that the kids are out of school, I guess they have too much time on their hands so they will piss off the neighbors.  I just hope they fall in one of the holes in our front yard from the irrigation system we're trying to put in.  A nice broken leg would teach them real quick don't you think?

What is really scary is here I sit in my sunroom surrounded by windows and while I sit here holding down the couch in the dark with the only light coming from this laptop, I just scooted down on the couch so that my head was not visible from the window.  Is that nuts?  My backyard is nothing but heavy woods.  We live in a fairly nice area, but hey, there are crazy people all around us.  Just read the front page of the Charlotte Observer sometime, or better yet, just read www.charlotte.com.  Stupidity runs a muck in Charlotte.

When we moved down here from Maryland I was glad that the people are nicer - yeap they are nicer, but I am convinced they are dumber.  The crimes that are on the nightly news are downright dumb-ass.  Now I know why so many of our neighbors have rifles in their homes.  Not guns mind you - rifles.  They are ready to blow your head off if you even think about coming on their property.  Me, I've got Adolf.  Yeap, he's the dog, man.  And he's a dang good one.  He is trained to have your ass for dinner if you even think of trespassing on our property unwelcome.  I thank the Lord for my wonderful dog every day, and yes, he has teeth.


Charlotte Observer Story


Original Story Posted on: June 28, 2008

Below is the Charlotte Observer Story that we were interviewed for yesterday.  It was fun hanging out for several hours with Ortega, the Observer photographer.  Bob's quote is in blue below (or in the continued part if you read the article)  Glen was totally mesmerized by Ortega's camera.  Naturally, we all look bad in the picture, but hey, how often do you get your picture in the paper, right?  my gray hair looks - well - gray.  My double chin looks - well - double.  Sarah's big feet look - well - big.  Bob's frustrations with a Windows laptop look - well - frustrating.  My love for my Apple laptop looks - well - like love for my Apple laptop.  I even dressed in red, white, and blue for all those patriotic readers out there. 

Saturday, Jun 28, 2008
Posted on Sat, Jun. 28, 2008

Commuting from bedroom to home office

By Christopher D. Kirkpatrick


More Charlotte-area companies are helping employees work from home to save on office space and other costs.

The companies say workers need a break from high gas prices, and the programs also attract a wider range of recruits.

Kenny Colbert, president of The Employers Association, said the Charlotte human resources consulting company used to field one or two calls a month from organizations asking about telecommuting. It's increased to two or three daily the past 30 days, he said.

John Boggiano, a 29-year-old operations manager for Carrier Corp. in Charlotte, started telecommuting in February. He saves on gas and gets to eat lunch with his 1-year-old. He said Carrier promotes the option, in part, because it saves $19 a square foot on cubicle space.

“I definitely save on gas, and I don't eat out as much for lunch,” he said.
Some see a downside: Workers left behind in the office get stuck with the spot work, are less satisfied and more likely to leave, one study concluded. And those who telecommute are less likely to be promoted, a survey of executives says.

No one has tallied the number of Charlotte-area companies offering the programs, said Tony Crumbley, vice president of research for the Charlotte Chamber. But it's clear from talking to employers that more companies are getting involved, he said.

One of those is A3 Technologies, a 13-employee Matthews operation that helps companies with bar code and other inventory technologies. The company allows workers to telecommute one day a week, said Alice Davis, chief operating officer.

The month-old program has had the unintended result of increasing worker productivity, she said. “There are some things they can't do at home, so they get it done here.”

Continue reading "Charlotte Observer Story" »

There's a Dog In My Big Bear's Lap

Original Story Posted on: June 23, 2008

How can you not love a dog that wants nothing more than to sit in your lap?  Well, when he's bigger than you, or in this case, as big as my Big Bear, that can be a problem.  But isn't he adorable? 


Friday, October 10, 2008

Robert Vaughn For President - 08

Based on recent responses to my Raisin-Toast blog on Corporate corruption and greed at Avaya; a grass-roots movement has begun to nominate my Big Bear to the highest office in the land. Should make for an interesting election season ...

Now this is a job for Bob!  I could handle 400,000 a year, and on top of that, you can bet he'll straighten out all the Corporate Rats out there and solve all that ails this country ...

Well, there was a video here, but it seems to have faded into oblivion.  Darn, it was such a good editorial too.



How about it? You'd vote for Big Bear now wouldn't you?

Hey Honey - you there on that big Kabota Tractor - You've Got My Vote!  Now, Sweetie Pie, Big Bear of Mine, we're only a month away from a good job.  I think.  You may only have 2 votes, though.  Yours and mine.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Lilly Effect

TexasrainlillyOriginal Story Posted on: June 19, 2008

Ever since I was old enough to appreciate good and constructive advice (I'm trying to think here how long ago that really was?....hmmmm), I've been communicating with family and friends and offering up an ear, a shoulder to cry on, a hug, a good laugh, tough love, and a bit of hard-line advice to get them back on the right track.  Not that I have an inside track to the right track mind you, but I've been kicked in the butt so many times in my own life that somewhere along the way I've managed to offer up some advice to family and friends that keep them coming back for more. 

I'm happy to be here for them.  I know how important it is in life to have someone to talk to who won't judge you for your mistakes, who will listen when all you want is someone to listen to you vent, when you need another person's opinion on matters, when you just need someone who cares.  We've all been there, I don't care who you are - we've all needed a good soul to lean on at times in our life.  I call it the "Lilly effect."  What's the "Lilly effect" you ask? Well, I'll tell ya.  That's my paternal grandmother, Lillian.  Mama Lill (as we used to call her) passed away in 1972 and was the best grandma in the whole world.  Well, at least to me she was the best grandma in the whole world and the only one I ever knew.  Although I was very young when she passed away, about 12 years old, she had an impact on me that to this day still lives in me.  She could offer up advice to make anyone stand up and take notice.  She wasn't about to let anyone in the family go gettin' stupid on her and she'd kick you in the backside if you even thought of moving one iota out of line.  Wow how I thought she was the coolest grandma on earth.  I took notice.  It was either that or get the switch, and I wasn't about to get stung across the bottom for no one.

So that is why I call listening and offering up some down-home, back-woods, kick-butt advice, the "Lilly effect" - because nothing stings the bee-hind more than some seriously good hard-line advice at times.  Notice I said "at times?"  Sometimes you just need compassion and understanding and Mama Lill offered up plenty of that too.  She always, and I mean "always," had a way of finding the balance between being hard-line and a soft-touch.  God I miss her.  In many ways, I think her spirit carries on in me.  I think she is guiding me thru daily life and giving me advice on how to best help my family and friends thru difficult times, and how to help myself too, of course.

I do know that in my heart I think she is still offering up some tough advice for me in my own life, right there alongside my dad who was pretty good at it himself when I needed it, and I'm glad for that. I often think, "I wonder how Mama Lill would handle this" and I usually get my answer.  I only wish she had been alive when I so obviously and blatantly screwed up my own life.  She must have been in Heaven's Bahamas at the time sippin' a tequila and checkin' out the honeys on Heaven's beach.  Dang.  Then again, I wasn't listening to anyone during those years, which might explain why her "Lilly effect" came full circle to slap me upside the head.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I needed more than a slap upside the head - I needed a kick in the butt, a plow on how, and a whip for a tip, and the only way I was goin' to get it was thru flubbin' up my life in a big way early on.  Fortunately for me, I learned.  At least I think I learned.  I mean, my life is pretty good and everyone is happy around here - accept my mother, but she doesn't listen to no-one accept her own bantering.  Can't help her.  Nope.  She's dishin' out her own kind of advice and unfortunately it ain't to my likin' most of the time - or anyone else's in the family for that matter.  Oh well, I love her, faces (she makes faces) and all.

Have you ever heard the saying "Everything I learned about life I learned in Kindergarten?"  Well, everything I learned in life about giving advice and hoping someone takes it I learned from Mama Lill - and my dad (her 2nd son), Harry. He offered up a good bit of the Lilly effect himself until his passing in 1980 when I was 20 years old and pregnant with my 2nd daughter, Kimberly.  That was tough. Sometimes I wish he would have taken his own advice during what was obviously a mid-life crisis, but he wasn't thinkin' if you know what I mean.  He wanted to play.  Again, Mama Lill wasn't around to chase him down with a switch or a shotgun any longer and I think he took advantage of his new-fangled freedom in the 70s.  Unfortunately, it did a number on my dad's health and he passed away at the age of 55.  Much too young for a man with so much personality and presence.

What's funny is that I think I can remember the first advice I ever gave someone.  I was 8 years old and some boy on the playground at school  was crying because some kids had tied his shoes together in a knot as a joke and he fell down and was humiliated.   Those other kids were laughing and pointing their fingers at him and it made me so mad I put my hands on my hips and told them they were nothing but a bunch of losers and to go jump off a roof somewhere and try to fly.  Then, I sashayed on over to that cute little boy, I put my arms around him, told him he was better than those losers, and I untied his knots.  He was crying because the knots were so tight he couldn't get them out.  I was great at getting out knots and i knew it, so when I got out his knot, we became fast friends.  I often wonder what happened to "Toby G."  He was the first boy who became my friend and the first one who ever got some "Lilly effect" advice.  I dished it out and he smiled.  I was hooked on helpin' for sure.  "If you're out there, Toby, I'm glad we were friends at Jackson Road Elementary school in the 60s."  We lost touch after 5th grade because I moved away.

I'm glad that in my years as a grown-up (although at times the term grown-up comes into question since I really am just a big kid.  That's what happens when you're the youngest in a family, you never really grow up and always want to be a baby)  my family and friends have trusted me with their most personal of circumstances and actually listened to what I might have to say about their matters.  Hopefully I've been helpful.

So here I am folks.  If you have a question or if life is turnin' your tail into a tail wind, I'm offering up an ear and some hard-line "Lilly effect" advice.  I'm happy to help. 

Ask on....




Note: That pretty flower above is a Texas Rain Lilly.  It only blooms when it rains and then the next day it is gone.  They are small and very fragrant.  Just as we search longingly for the first crocus in spring, I will be looking for  rain lilies in the fall.  These jewels are easy to grow and can tolerate clay, sand, or bog.  The delicate flowers of these carefree bulbs astonish and delight when they appear after rain showers. Even when neglected all summer, these tenacious bulbs come to life and produce a splendid array of colorful flowers. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, after every rain shower, rain lily bulbs produce scores of delicate, crocus-like flowers on 8" to 10" stems.

Texasrainlilly2 The cultivated varieties have been grown successfully in East Texas, but they thrive in the southeast as  well. As a rule, they are quite easy to cultivate, fast to naturalize, and drought tolerant, and will grow in any well-drained soil. Rain lilies may be grown in containers or as an edging plant in flower beds or along the garden path. Between blooming times, the grass-like foliage is pleasing in the garden. Bulbs are available in white, yellow, and various shades of pink. Different varieties come into bloom from April into November, and with a collection of spring- and fall-blooming bulbs, you can have color in your garden eight months of the year.

Happy Gardening!

Doctor Fix-my-knee

Dsc_0008Original Story Posted on: June 17, 2008

(Raisin Toast Homepage)

For any of you who know me personally, you know that I'm clumsy.  So clumsy of recent, in fact, that I fell about 3 weeks ago and did a real number on my right knee.  I ripped that baby open all the way down to the knee cap, which on me isn't a far journey.  I spent about 8 hours in the Emergency Room whining and maneuvering myself around in a wheel chair with my right leg extended out past the reasonable.  I did try to stay entertained by offering to race a few other patients in wheelchairs across the room, but they were obviously not in the mood. "Get lost lady, this ain't Nascar." (Nice picture of my racked up knee, don't you think?)

When I finally got back to a room and waited another hour to see a doctor, all I wanted was drugs.  Give me drugs.  I even made a few suggestions to the nice doctor. "I'll take some morphine in an IV and a couple of Percocet ought to do just fine."  "Comin' Right Up!"  After that cocktail kicked in quite nicely, I was ready for the doctor to cut off my leg if he wanted to.  Instead, he just put 5 stitches in my knee and sent me home with a prescription for more good stuff and a to-do list for my Big Bear -

Dsc_0002 1. Give her drugs
2. Rub her feet
3. Rub her head
4. Scratch her back
5. Scratch her butt (I like that a lot, especially when it itches)
6. Give her drugs
7. Rub her legs (staying clear of the infamous knee)
8. Cook
9. Clean
10. Do the laundry
11. Play with the children
12. Give her drugs. 

In other words, knock this baby out until it is all healed and she can resume a normal life.  Not.  Oh well, he did spoil me a little bit. Well, maybe a lot.  Okay, he spoiled me a whole lot! See - he stills wants to hug me.

A few days ago, I had a neighbor friend who is also a doctor offer to come over and remove my stitches.  Little did he know that I would be toting a bottle of Bactine and squirting it like a woman on a mission. "What's that going to do?" he asked.  "Prevent me from getting scurvy?  gangrene? meningitis?  Who cares!  It makes me feel better while I scream in agony here as you tear out those stitches and pick at my knee!"  I'm such a baby, and I'll be the first to admit it.

Dsc_0016_3 It's been almost 3 weeks and I still can't bend my knee.  I'm gettin' pretty good at sliding down the banister though.  Okay, maybe not.  I'm sick of being a cripple so I went to our family doctor today and asked him for a new knee.  He wasn't buyin'.  Darn.  He did, however, x-ray my knee, which strangely enough is something they did not do in the hospital.  No fractures in sight, he did decide to send me to an Orthopedic doctor later this week just to make sure nothing fishy is going on in there.  I did offer up my other knee for x-ray so that they could see what a good knee looks like, but he said they already knew what a good knee looks like.  Hey, I was just being nice.  Oh, this is a picture of Dr. Lingo.  He isn't used to having patients take his picture.

Dsc_0003 Speaking of nice, the ladies in the office were very nice - Oh, and so was the doctor, too.  So, in the event you live in Charlotte, North Carolina and want a very nice doctor with very nice assistants, nurses and all, and even an x-ray room on the premises! - Call Charlotte Medical Clinic. This is Diana - she was very nice too.  I'm so happy I live in Charlotte. :)

Dr. Lingo was very nice, especially since I took his picture and told him he better be nice to me or I would take a bad picture of him and post it all over the internet.  He was very nice.  He was also very good to me and gave me another prescription to help me sleep at night.   Oh, it helped me sleep alright.  I took one last night and didn't wake up until 8pm today.  "What day is it?"

"Hey!  Isn't anyone going to spoil me anymore?" 
Darn, I was on such a roll.

Injured Knees

Original Story Posted on: June 6, 2008

Injuredknees What is it about getting older that makes us so dang clumsy?  For an entire week I have been walking (or I should say scooting) around my home with 2 injured knees, and one so injured as to require 5 stitches.  At least I am walking, although barely. 

Last week, while leaving my son's piano lesson, I lost my balance on a stepping stone going across the yard and went down in a fraction of a second.  It happened so fast that I didn't even have time to process a thought such as %$#@!!!!  That word came out of my mouth after I looked at my right knee and realized that I had an open wound all the way down to the knee cap.  I began to cry and asked my precious and very frightened son to run in and tell his teacher to call 911 - "NOW!"  I felt myself slipping away as this overwhelming heat began to rush to my head and a feeling like I was about to pass out.  I just kept screaming to the piercing pain instead and covered my knee with my hand so that I couldn't look at it -  trying to distract myself from the passing out that was inevitable if I relaxed even a little bit or saw any more of the wound on my knee.

My son's teacher called 911, and then my husband.  9 minutes later my hubby arrived - before the EMS.  They didn't arrive for another 4 minutes.  "What if I was having a heart attack guys?!!!"  I swear someone needs to improve the emergency medical response time by improving the emergency medical personnel that are available in this God foresaken North Carolina.  I took the ambulance - Darn it needs some serious shocks.  "Why don't these transports have shocks?!!!!" 

 Thinking that I wouldn't have to wait around and get in to see a doctor faster, I tolerated the shocks.  I was wrong.  I arrived at 7:30pm, and didn't get into the ER until midnight.  An IV, some Morphine, and a couple of percocet later I was ready for the doctor to stitch me up.  I got home at almost 3am. 

So here I sit a week later and I still can't bend my right knee.  Great for blogging.  Bad for everything else in life - like using the bathroom.  Have you ever tried to use the bathroom with your right leg extended straight out?  I didn't think so.  Try it sometime, it isn't easy. 

Great for nappin' though.

Old Friends - New Memories


Original Story Posted on May 20, 2008

There is something wonderful about old friends.  They turn up when you need them the most and when you least expect it.  I needed them most yesterday, and out-of-the-blue, three of them called.  We must have a sensory thing going on here because yesterday's phone calls were completely unexpected, and considering the kind of day I was having, they were a welcome gift to brighten my otherwise difficult day.

K -

OldFriendsNewMem1 First, K called.  We have been friends for 44 years, since 1964 and before the Kennedy assassination.  We haven't spoken on the phone in about 6 months - you know how life can get crazy and we just lose touch for what seems like an eternity until you hear their voice and then it seems like only moments since you spoke. 

My difficult day began with a new friend and a prediction of stormy weather (that will hopefully blow over soon) and ended with a great forecast of old friends and new memories.  K called out of the blue and when I saw her name on the caller ID I was filled with a flood of emotion.  I didn't even answer the phone with "Hello." It was more like "Oh My God! Oh My God! K I can't believe it is you!"  To which she replied "Yeap, that's you - How the hell are ya?!!" The minute we both started talking the laughter began. K is funny as hell, and if I need a good laugh, she can pull out all the stops - oh, right there along with another friend, D, but that is another crazy story for another day.  A conversation with K is better than Comedy Central.  My children think I have completely flipped my proverbial lid because I end up laughing so hard my eyes start to water - you know how it is for women at my age - we occasionally fart without warning and more embarrassing than that is the laughter, cough, or sneeze that reduces us to the bathroom with a need for clean underwear. K's call turned my tears of hurt and frustration into tears of joy and laughter. 

OldFriendsNewMem2 I've been really worried about K lately and every time I have called her over the past 6 months she has been at the doctor's office, asleep, or unable to talk.  She has been ill for a long time and her family history of illness and death could stand up to the tragic life and times of the Kennedy clan any day.  Still, she faces her challenges with a smile, integrity, and a sense of humor that is humbling.   K's veins are bleeding and bursting in her legs and back and she tells me that she looks like she was in a fight with Muhammad Ali and lost.  She has a blood clot in her left eye.  She has high blood pressure and nearly lost her life 20+ years ago due to a complication from medication that she was given for one condition that resulted in the discovery of a rare blood disease and endometriosis and a slew of tests like a lab mouse at NIH in Maryland.  She was one of only 3 others in the United States with this rare blood disease.  It also resulted in her lying in a coma for what seemed an eternity.  On one of the days I visited her when she was at home recovering, her pastor was there giving her her last rights and praying over her.  She couldn't speak a word and all we could see was the "I don't want to die" emotion spilling from her beautiful blue eyes.  Oh, I prayed hard that day, harder than I have ever prayed before.  Life wasn't fair for K, and she was only 27!

She recovered, but K was never to be the same physically.  Still, she was alive - for her famliy who loved her, for her friends who adored her, for her husband who cherished her, and for her daughter who needed her.  God answered our prayers. 

WomanPraying K called to ask me yesterday for more prayers.  "You got it girlfriend.  I've got what I hope to believe is an inside track to the Almighty One - Faith - and you can best believe He is going to hear my prayer."  I am praying for a miracle right now and if anyone is reading this - Pray will ya?!!!!!! God will know who K is.

K will be having surgery at John's Hopkins in Baltimore the first week of June.  In the meantime, she is driving to Georgia to visit her sister and niece for a family graduation celebration and wanted to swing by here with her husband of 30 years.  (No, her husband is not 30 years old, although I'm sure K believes he behaves like it at times.  They've been married for that many years). "Are you kidding?!!! I'm changing the sheets, scrubbing the toilets, and cookin' up some good southern dish just for you (well, I take that back, my husband, Bob, will be doing the cooking since I hate cooking and he is so good at it).  You better not change your plans or I'm going to have to hunt you down," I said to K.

She is facing more complicated challenges right now and will hopefully have her doctor's blessings to make this trip.  So, that was friend #1 who brightened my day and will hopefully be stopping by next week to make some new memories.

A -

About an hour after I hung up from K, the doorbell rang.  My dog, Adolf, our German shepherd, is barking like crazy, so I saunter to the door and I don't see anyone there.  I opened the door and to my left was this huge box.  I knew what was in it and was as excited as a 5 year old child at Christmas.  I drag it into my house surrounded by 3 bouncing children and I grab something sharp, beginning to tear into it with enough enthusiasm to put my children's excitement to shame.   Then again, they had no idea what was in the box and I did -  you know how kids are.  They love surprises.

SaturdayNightFever A and I have been friends since 1974 and the arrival of Disco dancing, Saturday Night Fever, and the BeeGees.  Memories of raging hormones, bad dates, big hair, good-lookin' guys in fresh white uniforms at the Naval Academy abound.  What a great friend A was during those years and she still is.  She has, also, had her share of challenges, health issues, near death experiences, divorce, and more, since we've known each other which seems like a lifetime. 

Well, A is living out west now and doesn't seem all that happy about it.   She is also an artist and a darn good one too.  I am so proud of her.  And "that" is what was in the box!  A 36x36 painting of a Blooming Peacock that is absolutely magnificent!  A needed a web presence for her artwork and I enthusiastically designed and built for her an online studio to showcase her magnificent work.  The colors and character of this Peacock is to die for.  I couldn't wait to call her and tell her I received the painting in perfect condition and was so thrilled to hang it in my music room so that everyone who entered our home would see it first thing when they look to the left. 

Peacock in Bloom.IMG_4263_edited-1 A wrote a beautiful dedication to me on the back of the painting and the entire experience shriveled me to tears.  Being that I had already been crying was making it nearly impossible for me to see it clearly.  So I gathered my emotions and gave her a call.  "So you like it?" she says to me. "LIKE IT?!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!  It is the most beautiful painting I have ever seen!  The colors are magnificent, the detail is bold and brilliant, and the Peacock is looking right at me and smiling!" I answered.  I swear that painting has an energy about it that gives me goosebumps.  This painting is absolutely beautiful.  I can't believe she gave it to me.  A told me that it had been sold twice before but for some reason had fallen thru both times and had been hanging in her music room with her baby grand piano which is where it would hang proudly in my home too - in our music room beside our baby grand piano. She said "Susan, that painting was meant for you.  I painted it for you.  It has always belonged to you and that is why it never left me until it was the right time to come home - to you."  Her paintings are each like a child to her.

I was overwhelmed to say the least.  A and I talked for over an hour and she is making plans to visit in the next 2 months.  A week or more of site-seeing, spas, plein air painting, and new memories.  A is going to school to become a minister and I cannot think of anyone who would make a better minister - someone who has seen the frightening side of life, the sorrowful side of family, the sad side to marriage, and the lonely side to being alone in the middle of the desert with no family, a broken marriage to a man she loved dearly, and no children to kiss goodnight.  A is a very special person and a very dear friend.

After our call, I hung her painting in my music room and will soon be taking it to be framed.  I can't help but look at it and smile.  Colors have a way of bringing about certain emotions, and the colors in this painting are what I call "happy colors."  They sing brightly and spiritedly and are full of positive energy. 

M -

Annapolis Within a couple of hours the phone rang again, and this time it was my friend and former husband, M. M is my first real love, my first real boyfriend, my first lot of things.  Old memories of raging hormones and dating in Annapolis. M and I met in 1976.  Some 32 years ago.  M lives about 10 minutes from us and is very dear to me as well.  We have a daughter together too, and she is 29 and living in Florida.  M is doing well and visits when he can.  He works a lot of hours and never seems to have the time for anything except eat, sleep, and work.  I am concerned he is working himself to death, but he is in great shape and appears to be healthy and happy, so that is a good sign. 

It is always nice to hear from M.  He makes me smile and makes me laugh.  It wasn't always that way, but we were both crazy all those years ago, and we loved each other enough to let by-gones be by-gones and not live our lives filled with regrets and bitterness. I value my friends and have always believed the adage that you should treat your friends like family and your family like friends.  If you do, your life will be blessed.  And for good reason - because a life filled with regret and bitterness will make you sick.  It will eat at you till it kills you.  Forgiveness is the healthiest thing we can ever do for ourselves and the people in our lives.  It strengthens relationships and teaches us humility.  As for M, I look back on our life together with fondness for the good times we had and for the struggles we shared.  I accept them for what they were - difficult.  I learned a lot from those tough years.  The forgiveness we both have brought to our relationship has added to the stability we feel towards each other.  M is good friends with my husband too, and they go riding around town on their harleys.  He just got back from a business trip and wanted to catch up with life at our house.  It is always good to hear from M

Old couple M asked me the strangest question when I was 17 and we were out on a date at a jazz bar in Annapolis.  He said "What are you going to look like at 64?"    "Uuuuuh, beautiful and magnificent of course" I replied. How the heck do I know!  M is notorious for asking the unusual, and meaning something entirely different.  It keeps the conversation interesting, that's for sure.  Fortunately, at the rate we are going as friends, we will know what we look like at 64.  It may not be a pretty site but I can only hope and pray neither one of us is 6 feet under at the age of 64. 

All in all I am truly blessed.  I do not have a jealous husband.  Thank God.  Because I remain friends with M and we trust each other completely.  I would hate to think that I would have to sacrifice any relationship that was life changing and fundamentally important to me because of petty jealousies.  My dear husband has supported me thru many things, but we have never questioned our marriage, our relationship, our commitment, or our own friendship in a way that would prevent us from remaining close to those who have been important to us since our childhood and continue to be important to us.   

I suppose honesty and trust play a big part in the forming of a lasting marriage.  One thing I have learned from my failed marriages (Yes, there have been, unfortunately, 2 prior) and the successful marriage I am blessed with now is filled with Trust and Friendship.  It isn't always a great day together and there have been many times, and will continue to be times, when we are so upset we want to punch each other in the nose, but BlueRidgeMountains we know what buttons are in the red-zone and we know how to avoid an argument by walking away and redirecting the conversation.  If you really love each other, I believe that no event in life should be so life shattering that you have to sever your relationship entirely because of a disagreement.  If that happens, it never really was the kind of relationship that a lifetime of memories are built on. 

It takes many things to build a mountain of memories with someone you love, and  sometimes, just sometimes, it takes an earthquake to create a stronger mountain of new memories.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Friends - Pulling out the fire hose


 This story was originally posted on: May 19, 2008 (Raisin Toast Homepage)

I've been awake off and on all night thinking about friendship.  I just had a somewhat major fall out with a "friend" and began analyzing just how good of "friends" we really are.  I've only known L for about a year, but we have been great friends - able to talk about anything, able to share anything, and able to talk to each other about those uncomfortable issues without feeling "judged."  That's a true friend.  We did have one disagreement early on in the friendship about L's husband's ex-wife.  A silly disagreement if you ask me, but a disagreement nonetheless.  We apologized and that was the end of that - next chapter begun. 

Soon after, L began what was to be a horrible divorce that has impacted her children, her life, her career, her friendships, everything.   I sludged thru the mud with her, helped her move, was there thru the tears, the fights with her children, the fights with lawyers, the fights with other so-called friends, the fights with her soon-to-be-ex, and her disagreements with her previous ex.  Put it this way, when it comes to friendship, I'm a pig.  I'll get in the same mud pen with any of my friends and play in the sludge, the mud, and eat the bugs - Friends2 but I'll tell you when you are dirty and when the dirt doesn't suit you and if necessary I'll pull out the fire hose to wash you off.  I'll speak my mind.  Funny thing is, I have discovered that my "true friends" have always been those that do the same in return.  They tell me off when I need it.  They give me a good kick in the butt  when I'm playing in the wrong pen, and they'll pull out the fire hose when necessary even if it stings.  They KNOW that no matter what is said - hurtful, constructive, cranky or not, that we will wake up the next day as "friends."  "Next chapter" I call it - even stronger than the previous.

I had this argument with L over her ex-husband who is a doctor (not that that means a whole heck-of-a-lot as he is only human), and who is also our neighbor. He is suffering - I mean really suffering - over this divorce, as is L, and he comes over to talk now and then.  L knows this.  Bottom line is this, L is my friend, and her soon-to-be-ex-husband needs one.  I care about people, that is my nature.  I care when I see people genuinely hurting and I will try to help if I can.  I am also one wise enough to know that you can't always believe everything someone (even a friend) tells you.  It is their perception, maybe, and very true to that friend, but that doesn't mean that that is the whole story.  I do believe something very close to the heart that my father once told me as a child "If something is important to you, check it out.  If I or anyone says anything to you that is important to you, check it out. Review the facts.  If you find out I'm full of crap and don't know what I'm talking about, then you better let me know fast so I don't continue to make a fool of myself, Deal? - Deal." I never forgot that and actually took that conversation quite seriously, along with "Don't be a judge of friendship - be a friend. A good friend is one who will kick you in the butt when you need one." 

Friends3 I've been enormously blessed, and I've been thru a lot of crap in my own life.  My friends have trudged through it all with me time and time again, and we always manage to come clean in the end.  I've had a few who have had to pull out the fire hose, but the sting was ultimately worth it.  I love you all and appreciate more than you know your honesty and your trudging.  You are as close (if not closer) than family to my heart and in my life.  They (whoever "they" is) say that a person is lucky if they can go through their life with one close friend.  All I know is that I am dang lucky and blessed beyond comprehension because although some of my friends have disappeared from the radar for a time due to life, moving away, or moving on, that radar hasn't dropped for long because we have always been in each other's lives.  We have always known how to find one another. We've always been there.  In that case, I have a number of "friends" and I am not talking about the "fair-weather friends" either. 

Fair-weather friends. You know the type.  The ones who will be there as long as the garden is well kept and the sky is blue.  The second clouds roll in, they haul-tail it out so they don't get wet.  Then they show up again when the weather clears.  Sorry, anyone out there who thinks this is friendship better wise up.  That is just plain ridiculous - and that goes for family members too!!!!

 As you can probably tell, I take friendship very (and I mean VERY) seriously.  And I test it now and then.  With L I tested it last night and we'll see how we fare soon enough.  For those of my "friends" who are reading this I  want to clarify something......I love you more than you know.  I'd do anything for you (within reason of course, and you wouldn't ask me to do anything unreasonable anyway - like rob a bank or punch someone in the mouth for you).  Although I might be tempted, but never act on, the need to punch someone in the mouth for you.  I love you.  Bunches.  You have all changed my life profoundly, including  L. You - L, are the extra block in my quilt of friends that help me to sleep calmer at night and keep me up when it is important to me - like now. 

I hope you will listen - and I mean really listen, L.  If you weren't important to me, I would have given up on this friendship a long time ago.  I don't need this garbage in my life.  Get over it.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Live and learn from it.  I said my peace and yes, I meant every word.  If it bothers you that much, then take a minute and reflect on it.  If you are still so pissed that we can't even talk about it, then we were never really "friends."  I, on the other hand, believe that we are.  So, if you need me, I am here.  I will always be here.  Because I count you among my dear, very dear, FRIENDS

Oprah and Reincarnation


Original story posted on May 14, 2008

I just watched an Oprah show with Dr. Oz and Dr. Weiss on regression into past lives through hypnosis.  Something about energy and how we are all connected.  Dr. Oz said that if a knob was the same energy here as something on the other side of the world and he turned it, the knob on the other side would turn too.  This is all too much for my brain to comprehend and I think I would be terrified to actually be hypnotized.  Are we asleep during hypnosis?  Do we know what we said or did? 

As hard as this is to believe, it somehow makes sense.  I can't believe that we are only here for one life.  Maybe we are, maybe not.  I do believe in the energy of the spirit we hold within.  I sometimes find myself quietly having a conversation in my head with my deceased father or a friend who passed away 14 years ago.   I can hear his voice answering me if I talk to him.  Maybe I'm just wierd, but I truly believe that when we think about someone who has passed on and they have affected our lives, I believe that spirit within them continues to live within us.  Does that make sense?  In some ways, I hope this is true.  I want to always be close to my children, even if only in their head.

William Tell Mom


This video was too funny not to post.  I say pretty much everything in the video - well, almost. 

(This story was originally posted on October 10, 2007)

Theme? Do I Need A Theme?

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My husband wanted to talk last night.  It was 2:30 in the morning and he wanted to talk.  And not just about anything of great importance, necessarily, at least not to me at that time of the morning, but, he wanted to talk about "themes."    My theme.  My theme for this Raisin Toast blog thingy I've got goin' on here.

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He was concerned that I didn't have 50,000 readers a day and 20,000 comments for every post and that if I had a "theme" for the blog, I would garner more readership.

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Now, in my educated opinion, I need a theme like I need this nice Tennessee ladie's burger, fries, yogurt, and soda while sitting on I-40 East 2 weeks ago, or whenever that was.

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Maggie Mae doesn't think I need a theme.  In fact, she'll argue the point.  If I have a theme, I might not be able to post these lovely pictures of her giving me crap about my driving.

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Or pictures of Alison thinking "What the hell am I doing moving clear across the country and driving with this crazy woman?"

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Or how about this...who else do you know takes her camera everywhere and takes pictures of New Mexico natives?  Her outfit matches the decor of the Walmart bank very nicely don't you think?  She was a very nice lady by the way.

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Or pictures of little girls with their hands sneaking into the ATM machine?

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Or magnificent cloud formations at 30,000 feet?  

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I love pink flamingos, don't you? 


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But boy do I love hoppin' bands.  So, when Bob told me I needed a theme, I fell asleep thinking.  "Huh?  I don't want a theme!  I'm a rebel, a disorganized mash of marshmallows, a  blend of cake and ice cream, a  junk drawer of ideas!  I can't have a theme, that would destroy my identity!

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Of course, I like funny.  I like serious.  I like normal.  I like chaos.  I like pets.  I like to drive you crazy with a post like this.

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And a face like this. 

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Or better yet, how about a face like this?  Now who wouldn't want to share that smile with the world?

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This is my life.  The good, the not so good, the ridiculous.  This is my theme - my life.  My children.  My pets.  My suburban housewife mentality and laundry and dirty dishes and a Big Bear that is the best cuddle ever.

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I have a 14 year old daughter who I am extremely proud of.

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A 29 year old daughter that I worry about.

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And a 27 year old daughter that I miss so much my heart aches to hug her and talk to her.

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I have a son who makes me laugh and smile - constantly.

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And a grandson who amazes me regularly.

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I have a mother who has lived with us for 10 years and who has been visiting my brother's in Florida for the last 3 months.  I miss her - even her daily griping.

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I have friends like Beth, who can sing and cook - at the same time!

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And friends like Alison who I love like a sister and who I would take into my home on a moment's notice.  Oh, and let there be no doubt - I would do it for Beth too! 

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And I paint and want to share with you the things I find beautiful.

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And isn't Bruce a cutie too?  He's a local horse that makes me want to jump on him and ride him thru town.

So, no, this Raisin Toast blog thingy has no theme.  It is my life.  I don't have a life on a ranch with cattle, wild mustangs, and lodges being built like Ree Drummond.  I don't use risky language and talk trash like Heather Armstrong of Dooce.   But I talk about the things I love and the people that surround me.  I share with you what's on my mind.   And although my life may not be as interesting as others or as risky as some, it is my life and I'm proud of the life I've made in this world. 

I hope you enjoy reading my stories.  They don't have a theme, but in their own way, that is my theme - a bit like my life - chaotic.

Still, what is your opinion?  I appreciate hearing from my readers and would love to know what you think of my blog.  Do I need a theme?  Like Ree Drummond?  Do I need to talk more trashy to garner your attention? (Lordy, I hope not!) Do I need to have a purpose for everything I post?  Or am I doomed for the sludge pile of blogs? 

Let me know your thoughts.


Let's Talk Freedom of Speech - AVAYA

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Well, it seems as though my post about Avaya and their LACK of Integrity has received a bit of attention.  Unfortunately, it isn't all "positive" attention.  Therefore, I give you 3 guesses who is creating more hot air about my post, and the first 2 guesses don't count.

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Now that we have that question asked and answered, let's talk about Freedom of Speech.  You know, that First Amendment Right in the United States Constitution that our forefathers created to protect the rights of Americans?  I'm an American.  I'm a proud American.  I am also a wife and mother and I'll spit bullets at anyone who tries to harm any member of my family.  I am also fully capable of thinking for myself and speaking for myself, so if AVAYA has something to complain about with regards to my blog or post and the FACTS within it, then please, AVAYA, talk to me. 

Bob knew nothing about my post until after it was posted.  He knew nothing about my letter to Jim Hirt and Greg Billings until after I had clicked "Send."  So, then, I suppose, AVAYA, that begs the question from you and your attorneys - "Then how did she get their email addresses?"  This isn't rocket science, guys - all I had to do was go to Bob's computer and dig thru his emails and address book.  There is no law that prevents a wife from snooping.  Never has been, and probably never will be.  As a matter of fact, more wives should snoop.  So snoop away readers.  Have at it.  I do it with Pride.

And how did I get the information about all that I had written in the post?  My husband - that Big Bear you laid off - he talks to me.  His Snoop Wife.  You know, ME.  He talks and he shares.  Oh, and I take notes.  Lots of notes - because I like to write and type and ask questions.  Why?  Because he loves me and we love each other and we have a family to protect and care for and children to raise - and teach about unethical corporate practices in their homeschooling studies.


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So, while we are on the subject of Freedom of Speech, let us not forget the rare and important Supreme Court decision about our First Amendment Rights on the Internet:

Reno v. ACLU, 1997, in which, and I quote from Wikipedia:

"all 9 Justices of the Court voted to strike down anti-obscenity provisions of the Communications Decency Act (the "CDA"), finding they violated the freedom of speech provisions of the First Amendment. Two Justices concurred in part and dissented in part to the decision. This was the first major Supreme Court ruling regarding the regulation of materials distributed via Internet.

The CDA was an attempt to protect minors from explicit material on the Internet by criminalizing the "knowing" transmission of "obscene or indecent" messages to any recipient under 18; and also the knowing sending to a person under 18 of anything "that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or organs."

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And, AVAYA, the last I checked, there were no materials or speech that were explicit or threatening to any children under the age of 18 in my blog - except maybe my own children - who, yes, have been threatened by the AVAYA layoff.  They have been threatened by an act of Corporate greed on your part.  I think it is a joke that you called our home and told Bob that certain individuals within AVAYA feel threatened by my blog.  Threatened?  Your kidding, right? You threatened our family when you "first" made Bob pay for your mistakes, then fessed up and paid him a measly sum of money to appease him and what? Shut me up?  The one who is threatened here is our family, my husband, my children, my home.  Grow up and get your heads out of that dark space just south of your belly button.

And if you read Reno v. ACLU, you'll notice that it does not apply here.  Oh, and slander?  I did not know that speaking the truth was slander.  I might have to check that, though, to make sure I didn't say anything indecent.  I sure was thinking it though.  And I'm thinking some things right now that I won't talk about here because that would be indecent, and emotional, and not very lady-like.


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By the way, the Reno v. ACLU decision struck down portions of the 1996 - and I quote from Wikipedia: (don't you just love Wikipedia?):

Communications Decency Act, a law intended to outlaw so-called "indecent" online communication (that is, nonobscene material protected by the First Amendment.) The court's decision identified the Internet as a "free speech zone," and extended the same Constitutional protections given to books, magazines, films, and spoken expression to materials published on the Internet..."

As I said before, I was not indecent, although I would have to admit that you, AVAYA, are very indecent.  You are chronically indecent. You really ought to do something about that, because it ruins people, it destroys families, people lose their lives and their homes because of indecent people like the ones I have mentioned here - AVAYA.


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As for Freedom of Expression, I would have to say that I express myself quite well.  I like to express myself.  I'm right-brained.  I express myself in my paintings, in my home in how I fold my laundry, how I cook, how I play the piano, how I teach my children, and with every conversation and hug I plant on them. 

I express myself in my writing, my emails, and my blog too, because I love to write and I love to express myself.  So, express myself I will do - every single day.  I have never now, or ever, intended to express myself with the purpose of hurting anyone else - waking them up, maybe - but not hurting anyone.  I don't like to hurt people.  I do, however, believe in the old adage "What goes around comes around" and if you sling mud at me or my family, that "Same" mud is going to come right back and hit you square between the eyes.  Maybe not thru me or my blog, or maybe so, but it will get ya.  (I'm starting to sound like Sarah Palin.  God forbid).  Politicians take note:  When you sling mud at your opponent, he can sling right back.  And so goes the merry-go-round we call Corporate America.  Round and Round and Round it goes and Where It Stops Nobody Knows.

Oh, and I didn't yell "Fire" in a crowded movie theater or in the men's bathroom at AVAYA either.  So, no imminent lawless action there either.


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I think you'd be hard-pressed to get me for an act of "Commercial Speech" since I am not profiting from anything I have said and I don't work on Wall Street.  Now, if you want to argue that I wrote the blog with the intention of receiving a profit I'd have to argue this: -  that I just want you - AVAYA - to be "fair" and "Just" and "Prudent" in how you kick dedicated employees to the curb and then ask them to pay up for your slip-ups in bookkeeping or whatever it was that you screwed up on in the beginning of 2008.  Then you, AVAYA, asked my husband (and our family) to fork over for your mistake to the tune of approximately 5800 dollars.  YOU laid off Bob and then told him that he had to pay YOU!  Yep, that's what AVAYA did.  That's really indecent if you ask me.

Bob did his prudent research and begged to differ with the folks at AVAYA - which resulted in his lay off shortly thereafter.  Are you putting the puzzle together yet folks? Oh, but now, AVAYA has been part nice and had a moment of enlightenment since my story brought some facts, as I know them to be, to light, and as I have been told by my Dear Husband.  This man, whom I love, has been a dedicated, upstanding employee to AVAYA's "non-deserving" Corporation, and we have now received a small deposit in our checking account based on the commission that my husband earned in the first place!!!!!


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But now there is the issue of severance, and as I mentioned in my last post regarding this issue, AVAYA wants to shove Bob out the door with only 2 weeks severance.  Normally, or should I say "historically," a company will pay an employee 1 month for every year they have been with the company - not 1 week.  But, that has been our experience with other layoffs.  And none of the other layoffs were as lowly as this one.  So, when we received a phone call today from an AVAYA attorney who apparently claimed, in no uncertain terms, that the law of AVAYA is the law of AVAYA and that 2 weeks is 2 weeks and that will never change, Bob asked something to the effect: "Then why did another employee, affected by this same layoff, receive 6 weeks severance?"  The attorney replied (again I am only para-phrasing here since my husband relayed the information to me) "Can you name names?"  To which Bob replied, saying something like, "Sure, Fred R..... received 6 weeks severance." (This was only after Fred received an original 2 weeks severance and fought with AVAYA - or, I should say, that that is my understanding).

Now that we have that out in the open, I would like to say that AVAYA is not only not consistent, they are not fair.  I don't know how long Fred R. has been with AVAYA, but I would be willing to bet he deserved a little more than 6 weeks severance and he shouldn't have had to fight for it either.  As for Bob, he would have been with AVAYA for 2 years this month had he not been laid off just 2 weeks or so prior to that 2-year mark.

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So here we sit.  No income.  No job.  No way to support our family.  No back-up either (Retirement is gone, no thanks to the current economic conditions), No severance package at the moment that justifies the time and dedication spent employed by the Corporate greed busters at AVAYA.  No health insurance.  No life insurance.  No NOTHING!  No Thanks to You at the moment - AVAYA. 

I am upset, and I have every legal and personal right to be upset.  I also have a right to write this blog.  And a note to Jim Hirt and Greg Billings, and all the other self-serving AVAYA Corporate Executives: This is MY personal blog, this is MY life, this is MY family, this is MY home, and I have a First Amendment right to speak my mind - within reason - and with legitimate facts in hand - to protect my family, my children, my home, and my husband, from greedy, pathetic, Corporate Rats like you - AVAYA.


Peek-a-BOO Furball

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Here I sit on the sofa this weekend while Adolf was napping at my feet, Bob was off snoring somewhere, Alison was napping too and the boys were off playing with their friend, Alex.  Sarah was watching television.  It was a rainy kind-of day.  One of the boys walked in our back door and Sarah glanced over her shoulder just in time for me to pick up my camera which is usually at my side, and snap this picture of Hannah peeking at me while lying with Sarah in our big recliner.   Hey, when you've got a Big Bear like I do, you've got to have a recliner in the family room.  Oops, I almost forgot - we've got two.  That's because we have a big family and a lot of lazy butts. 

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Really now, how could I not take a picture of that little white dust mop?

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Sarah seemed somewhat oblivious to the cuteness at her feet.

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Still, that face, those floppy ears, those eyebrows, that wet, cold, black button nose!  Could I resist?  Naaaah.  I just want to muss up that fur and those ears? 

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And then kiss her and hug her and make her pee.

Love, Susan

Fur Flyin' Love Fest

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Oh, how I love my dogs.  They are so entertaining.  Who needs television and all that bad news if you can watch the fur fly when a German Shepherd and a Malti-tzu puppy play. 

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Adolf and Hannah absolutely love each other.  They kiss and smooch and growl and lick...

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And they play and cuddle and smooch some more...

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Adolf especially enjoys every opportunity to get Hannah in a head-lock.

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And then Hannah will try the same thing.  She thinks she is a big dog like Adolf.

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And then they'll cuddle some more.

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"What-ya lookin' at?  This is supposed to be a private moment, mom.  Get lost."

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Oh, excuse me.  You two look so cute together.


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I love to photograph blossoming love.  Oh, how they love each other.

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Actually, they are both pretty good about posing for pictures.

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Again, Hannah will plant a kiss on Adolf when he least expects it.

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Then again, maybe he does expect it from her.  He knows her well.

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Then they look at me again to see if I'm getting this.  "Yes dears, I am getting this."

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Oh No!  It's another head-lock!

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"Awww, Hannah don't!  That tickles!  hee hee haa haa hoo hoo" slobber slobber

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"Here girly, right back at ya"

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"Listen carefully, when I say "GO," you sit up and we will both sing as loud as we can and scare mom off that couch, okay?"  "Okay"


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"You are my Sunshine, My Only Sunshine, You Make Me Hap-peee When Skies are Gray

You'll Never Know Dear, How muuuuch I Love You, Please Don't Take My Sunshine Aw-ayyyyy" 

Sing it again with me....

Don't you just love to be in the presence of true love?

Now Smile.....


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Avaya - Your LACK of Corporate Integrity Exceeds You

As of September 15th, my husband, Bob, was laid off from his position as Director of Business Development for the Financial Vertical which included Banking, Capital Markets, and Insurance, within Avaya, a global leader in communication systems, applications, and services. He had worked for Avaya for almost 2 years.   And, even though he had not had that many years with Avaya, he had a solid history of meeting and exceeding the established quota for the financial vertical.  In the almost two years that Bob worked for Avaya, he exceeded his plan by 121% in FY07 and was tracking at 109% of plan through 1HFY08.  And, the final numbers for 2HFY08, although they have not been published yet as of this writing, have a projection based on the $44M quota assigned to him.  This would indicate that he, at the very least, had met the minimum of plan and/or exceeded it by 5-10% in a very difficult economic climate.  I do not understand why good people, such as my husband, who are productive and successful within a company, can be kicked to the curb with no reasoning, very little (if any) severance, and no consideration for their dedication to the company and their position within that company.  It sickens me. If anyone is wondering why this country is going to hell, it is because there is no accountability or responsibility anymore on the part of the top executives and management within organizations such as Avaya, to take care of their employees.  They could care less.  They are nothing but a bunch of greedy, lying thieves, who can’t be trusted, and who only care about their own bottom line.  Which begs the question, if an employee is meeting or exceeding “their” bottom line, then why would that person be laid off?  Read on and I’ll tell you why.  It is a “Save Your Own butt” mentality and wipe your feet on everybody and anybody who gets in your way.  I suppose Bob got in their way and made them hone up to their mistakes.

Bob and another employee were the only two laid off within the Business Development team, however, they were two of many who were selected for the recent reduction in force under the Force Management Program (FMP) at Avaya and within the Business Development team.   Both of these individuals, my husband included, were the two top performing Business Development Managers in terms of quota, size, and performance, against their quota and total value to the company.  Lower performing employees were retained in terms of financial performance and goals.  Does this make sense?  Or maybe they just thought that Bob and this other guy were making more money than everybody else in their vertical, therefore, kick them to the curb – so that maybe Avaya could look better on paper for a prospective sale to Cisco?  You think?  Or was it for another reason?  Reduce your most profitable, yet highly paid, employees from your bottom line, and then, just maybe, Cisco, or someone else, will find the acquisition to be a bit more attractive. As I said, it is all about the bottom line, and not about lives, families, and taking care of those very individuals who have added to the success and growth of a company. Bob, and the other guy who were selected for the FMP were over-qualified for the Business Development Management positions that they held.  In the case of my husband, he was recommended for a promotion in his most recent review and was the leading candidate for a promotion just before Avaya’s reorganization froze the role and opportunity he was being considered for.  Bob was also actively recruited for senior positions on other teams, but again, the positions were frozen by recent reorganizations.  Why am I not surprised?  Oh, lets talk trash – both individuals who were laid off were 49 and 61.  Bob is the 49 year old in this equation.  Sometimes hiring a younger individual for the same job, you can pay him a heck of a lot less.  Why is it that a company, like Avaya, can simply kick to the curb their top performing employees, neither of which had ever had any performance issues to support the FMP decision to let them go. 

Oh, this gets better folks, Bob was given a 2-week severance AND they are taking a big chunk of his earnings and messing with the numbers – costing Bob to have virtually NO last paycheck.  I’ll explain that in a minute, but as for the severance? … The 2-week severance they offered Bob is not the usual or customary severance package according to industry standards and does not provide for adequate bridge compensation to allow Bob time to secure new employment without incurring financial hardship and harm to our family. It is standard practice to provide an exiting employee due to lay-off with a severance package that will bridge the gap until the employee can secure other employment.  Not anymore.  They don’t care.  As long as they are lining their own pockets, they will turn their backs on everyone else no matter what the suffering.  Such is the case of Avaya.  Such is the case with this country.  Such is the case with my husband and our family.  We are suffering because of the greedy upper corporate management within Avaya.  I am sure that theirs is not the only company to treat their employees like disposable garbage. Bob is currently supporting our family of six and his elderly mother who is in a nursing home for Alzheimer’s patients.  He is the sole income in our family, and the loss of his income and negligent terms of severance that Avaya is throwing in his face will create more harm to him and our family than we could ever possibly recover from – at least Not any time soon.  Not easily, and certainly Not quickly.  Does this seem fair to you?  Does this sound to you like corrupt corporate America?  Where is the integrity in any of this?  There is none.  Certainly not with Avaya, and I have no problem broadcasting their shameful act of destroying a family to the world.  Finding a company to work for that you are proud of is next to, if not completely, impossible in America.  It just doesn’t exist anymore.  What happened to the companies that paid out pension plans to employees who put in dedicated years of service?  What happened to corporations that cared for and protected their employees by offering benefits, incentive plans, bonuses, and severance packages that protected them and their families from financial harm?  What happened to companies that valued family and built their foundation of success on character and integrity, good business and fair practices?  What happened to accountability and responsibility?  That doesn’t exist, and then we wonder why this country is going to hell, falling apart, losing its financial stability, losing everything that once characterized this country as “proud” and “honorable?”  The very foundation by which this country was built no longer exists.  We have a bunch of corrupt, pocket-lining, stealing, cheating, lying, thieves running our government and our largest companies.  Maybe I am making a sweeping generalization right now, but I am mad as hell, and I have every reason to be. 

Relatively speaking, ours is not a devastating experience – yet.  And I totally consider those Americans who are in far worse circumstances.  I pray for you too.  People are losing their homes every day and the proposed bail-out by our Administration is too little too late if you ask me.  But who’s asking me, right?  Nobody cares what I think anymore than the next guy.  It is the cumulative effect that destroys good families, good people, hard-working Americans, and the best of those in business – big and small.  We are the ones that suffer the greatest loss to the greed and lack of conscience of corporate America.  Avaya, by its own admission, made a mistake in their handling and accounting of revenue credited as “Sell thru Revenue” from the System Integrator / Service Provider Practice (SI/SP) which is a fractional part of the source of revenue for the Financial Vertical.  The SI/SP practice has a horizontal orientation and touches several industry verticals and geographic regions – not just the Financial Vertical for which Bob was, as you recall, Director of Business Development.  The SI/SP revenue component has always been included in the quota and compensation (commission) plans since Bob was initially employed by Avaya in October, 2006.  In August, 2008, Bob was informed “verbally” that an error had been discovered in “their” own accounting and that Avaya was planning to account for the error by either doubling Bob’s quota for August and September 2008 (from ~=$3.7M to ~=$7.4M per month).  Choke.  Yes, we choked on this like a huge chicken bone stuck in your throat.  So, in our attempt to breathe again, Bob requested a full audit of the financial records to determine the origin and cause of the error.  He wanted to determine, and rightfully so, the appropriate accountability and responsibility so as to come to a fair and proper resolution.  Despite repeated requests – verbally, and in writing – to management (aka Jim Hirt, and the one who is most responsible for this debacle), no proof of the error or verifiable justification of fact has ever been presented.  This lack of action on the part of Avaya’s management effectively eliminated Bob’s paycheck for September and October (his last paycheck – Oh, I almost forgot, there isn’t going to be any!).  Avaya, single-handedly, transferred “their” incompetence and accountability for the error to Bob and some other selected members of the Business Development Team creating more financial hardship for our family and those others who were chosen to take the fall.  This is unconscionable!  This hardship and relative harm based on the negligence of Senior Management and Operation Staff is appalling.  All we wanted was a fair and equitable accountability and for the company to take responsibility for its error and not pass it down to Bob or anyone else!  Oh, but Bob took the hit.  The biggest hit of all thus far.

When Bob refused to agree to the proposed “correction” based on the unfair nature of the resolution – (in other words, they asked Bob to pay for, out of his paycheck, THEIR financial error!  He refused.  It wasn’t his error.  It wasn’t his responsibility.  Period.  Exclamation Point!) Of course, Avaya did what Avaya does best – they laid him off with no explanation. In addition to the error identified above, it was independently reported by another manager reviewing the financial reports for the Financial Vertical that ~=$2.6M in revenue had not been properly accounted for and was missing for the month of August.  Taken as an aggregate, it lead to serious concerns as to the integrity of the financial data that Avaya is using to base the compensation of its employees and the potential for malfeasance in Avaya’s corporate governance.  At the very least, it directly highlights the lack of control and serious incompetence over the financial data on the part of line management within the Business Development team and most likely the larger organization as well. On September 15th, (His effective termination date) my husband, Bob, was informed via email that the compensation issue would be resolved by Avaya, but not without costing Bob a considerable chunk of his paycheck.  They were still taking it out of his commission.  His earned commission.  The communication occurred “after” he had been terminated from the company, of course, and only served to deny fair compensation for revenue that Bob had earned.  It also included a component part of his overall compensation and commission plan since October, 2006. The dirty scumbuckets at Avaya kicked him to the curb when he questioned their integrity and accounting, and then made him pay for their screw up.  I have no problem telling the world just the kind of people who are managing Avaya and the dirty way they treat their employees – their best employees no less.  They don’t keep their word, employment contracts are worthless, severance packages that are agreed upon at the time of employment can’t be trusted to be valuable at all.  They’re liars.  I hope the government audits every last dollar that flows in and out of that company.  Every last letter of the accounting should be questioned and audited.  We now risk: losing our home, not having any cash flow any time soon to buy food and take care of our family.  We never once asked for anything other than fair compensation for Bob’s job of meeting and exceeding his quota.  They have been abusing him for some time now and he has continued to, consistently, meet their demands and more.  Bottom line, Bob is an ethical man.  He only wants to be treated fairly and compensated for his work.  Below is a letter I wrote to Bob’s management at Avaya the other morning when I was lying awake in bed and needed to get the feeling off my chest - and I don’t mind sharing it.  This is how I feel and something should be done about this.

Re: Robert Vaughn

Dear Jim,

This is completely out of character for me, but I just can't sit back and watch our family, our finances, and our life fall apart without contacting you.  I understand that Avaya has been laying off a number of people, for reasons unknown, but I do not understand why Bob was laid off and why he is being penalized even during his exit.

Bob is the hardest working man I know, and a man whom I am proud to say has more integrity in his little finger than most men could ever hope to have.  He is a family man, a dear husband, a wonderful father, and provider for our family of 6.  He has been a constant for all of us, and the first person that anyone, friend, family, and colleague alike, could call on in time of need.

When he interviewed with you in 2006 and took the position with Avaya, it was with high hopes, although a bit of apprehension, at taking on a position that relied on sales and commissions - something that he was not immediately comfortable with.  Not because he couldn't do the job and do it exceedingly well, but because of the commission-based paycheck with which he would be supporting our family.  It is tough to budget for a family's expenses when you don't know how much your check will be each month.  Still, Bob has given Avaya more than 100% of his dedication, working extremely long days, long weeks, and hours that seem inhuman at times.   He shares everything with me, Jim, and for the last 2 years, from what I can tell, he has been making his quota consistently across the board, and that then begs the question "Then if he has been an asset to Avaya, why did Avaya, or you, Jim, let him go?."

His dedication to Avaya and his job should have been something that you and others within your organization would have been proud of.  That is what is so confusing and unsettling as we are now faced with the tragedy of this failing economy on top of the possibility of losing our home and not being able to support our family for a long time to come.  You, and Avaya, didn't even provide us with a parachute for the fall.  Not only are you penalizing Bob for an error that was made by Avaya on his commission (apparently at the beginning of this year?), but you are taking it out of the very money we need to survive.  And, you give this man 2 weeks severance?  Is there no corporate integrity left in this country?  In Avaya?  Do you just kick your best employees out of the cockpit without a parachute, family in arms grasp, and expect them to land on their feet?

Why, Jim, would you, or those responsible for this travesty within Avaya, permit this to happen to anyone who has worked so hard for your company?  This is not only heart-breaking, family destroying, financially devastating, and health deteriorating, but it is unconscionable that those responsible for the welfare of a company or organization, such as yourself, would not also feel a profound sense of responsibility for the humanity, the families, the lives, of those very employees for which you find it so necessary to kick to the curb.

I get the distinct impression that you did not care for Bob for some reason and that troubles me.  Maybe because he rejected your proposal to take the fall for your financial error?  Not just because I'm his wife, but because Bob is probably the most likable guy, in addition to being trustworthy and reliable, you could ever hope to work with, work for, or have working for your company.  "Likable," of course, does not an outstanding employee make, but it doesn't hurt if all the other core values and work ethic are there to support the position for which he was hired and more.

My father used to tell me that if he ever said something or did something that was troubling to me or conjured up questions, I should ask and look for answers.  And, if he was making a fool of himself I had better tell him quick so he doesn't continue to look like a fool.   That said, you should now know why I am not going to sit back and watch my husband be pushed out of a plane without a parachute.  You have left him with nothing.  Nothing at all to even hold on to while he's falling.  It pains me deeply that you and those within top management at Avaya do not have more humanity and compassion for the families you find it so easy to throw away - without much warning.

I certainly hope, Jim, that for whatever capacity you have within Avaya to provide Bob with the compensation that he rightfully deserves, and an exit package that is reflective of the standard of work ethic and integrity that he consistently dedicated himself for the past 2 years, that you will do something to show your appreciation regardless of the fact that you have now "kicked him to the curb."  I hope you will stand up to the plate and do what is right.  I hope that you, Jim, will show this family and others going forward that you, too, are a man of integrity and dedication - not just to the company you work for, but also to your employees.   Any person in your position should treat their employees as family - "work" family as it may be, you are still "all" family.  Because when you don't take care of each other, even when you go in different directions, it ultimately comes back full circle.

I look forward to talking to you, Jim.  We're all human.  We all have families to care for and children to raise.  We all do our best - including you, I would hope.  I trust that you will do what is right - unselfishly, and with a clean conscience, knowing that you have taken care of your employees, from first day to last and beyond.  No less than you would hope to receive if the same crisis were to befall you.

Susan Vaughn

(Note: Jim has not contacted me or Bob.  Neither has the President of Avaya Global Services, Chris Formant, his direct report, Greg Billings, and the VP of Sales, Jim Hirt, who is the one primarily accountable for the decisions that have been made.  I didn’t expect them to contact me, if you want to know the truth about it, because I knew that they didn’t care.  Once scum always scum I suppose) If you have, or know of a position, that you think meets Bob's experience, please, let us know.  I have this awful gut-wrenching feeling that we will lose our home as a result of this experience.  Can I throw up now?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

My Keyboard has a Mind of its Own
By Sarah Vaughn

AppleKeyboard.jpg by you.

Yesterday, my daughter, Sarah, asked me to please proofread her blog for "The Pink Life."  She has been having some trouble with her keyboard, and I thought her blog was funny.  I love reading Sarah's ramblings.   I have encouraged her to write and to express herself - that was part of her homeschooling experience, and the fact that she loves to read, write, play the piano, draw, paint, and focus on her studies has made me extremely proud of her to say the least.  Sarah has a great sense of humor, and I am finding that her humor is starting to come through in her blog posts.  So, I thought I would share Sarah's latest post with my readers.  You'll definitely get a kick out of how my 14 year old daughter thinks.

My Keyboard Has a Mind of its Own
By: Sarah Vaughn Sept. 29, 2008
The Pink Life

AppleKeyboard2.jpg by you.    

Today...well, my computer keyboard went noodles!!! I was listening to my songs and suddenly my brightness of my screen (There is a button to where you can control your brightness you know.) went down...down...down. I'm thinking "What the heck?" I pressed the button to brighten my screen and it went back down again. I'm thinking that this is really WEIRD!!!!! So I keep pressing the brighten button and it kept getting dark. This time I held it and finally it stayed bright. (YAY! Applaud...applaud, applaud. Thank you, thank you.) Well, the next morning (EARLY) at like 5AM I woke up and heard my computer make a sound like someone was holding down the spacebar when it was on the password. There must be ghosts in my room that are checking out my computer.  So, I went over, woke up my computer and it stopped. It was freaky but I didn't really care because I was too tired so I went back to bed.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz AppleKeyboard.jpg by you.

9am...The incident that happened above, the first one, repeated itself. So, as I was messing with my computer, I think "one day keyboards are going to be in the news because they are probably all collaborating to frustrate us.  Oh, and...TALKING!"

 AppleKeyboard4.jpg by you.

"Breaking News. Mr. Keyboard 130294, president of the Keyboards Corporation has some things to say. He would like to tell you why it is unfair for humans to put their dirty, icky fingers all over them. He also wants to explain why they are quitting their typing jobs. They are tired of being dirty. They would like some respect." "So here is Mr. Keyboard 130294 speaking for his people...or electronics." "Beep beep beep boop beep bob oo up deep dep beep do beep bop beep...BEEP!" "And that was Mr. Keyboard 130294 speaking profoundly for his people, even through we didn't know exactly what he said. Hey, wait Mr. Keyboard , I'm sorry I didn't mean that wait noooo, sto..."

 AppleKeyboard3.jpg by you.

We are sorry, but we have to interrupt this broadcast because there have been some signal errors. Imagine if that happened. That would stink. Yep. Really stink. Keyboards will get revenge one day...THEY WILL! And when they do, don't come crying to me because you didn't listen. Thats why I'm leaving the earth right now to mars. KIDDING!!! The Keyboards are getting stronger every minute you ignore them. HA! You listening now? I can't imagine not having a keyboard. Can you? This is making me tired imagining what would happen if keyboards took over the world. YAWN! If nothing else, just keep it clean and don't eat Doritos while you're typing and maybe your keyboard won't go nuts.

Okay, Please leave me a comment.


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