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10 posts from January 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lasagna Anyone? How About 3 Gift Cards Just for You & the Super Bowl Too!


CONGRATULATIONS! WE HAVE OUR WINNERS! 3 Lucky Readers will have the opportunity to enjoy some time with family at their local Pizza Hut with three $20 gift cards and some delicious new Lasagna on the menu!

I asked you all to tell me what you like best about spending time with family and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your answers.  Hopefully tomorrow (Sunday) you will be able to spend quality time with your family and maybe even some friends cheering for your favorite football team.  It is Super Bowl Sunday after all.  

I printed off the comment list, trimmed it up by the individual comments, and put them in a bowl.  Here are the winning selections:

And the winners are:


Paul wrote:


"I think the best times spent with family members are the ones that are not expected, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, but the ones when they call and tell you they've got the night off from work and can they come over for dinner and to hang out. Then we know for sure that they really want to be there! It's questionable sometimes when they reach a certain age how much they want to be at your house when they could be doing something waaay more important - like hang with their friends... So, those are good moments for me, unforced, relaxed, non-holiday, just wanting to be together."

I really liked your answer, Paul.  I agree with you that the best times with family - just enjoying the everyday moments.  As you say: "unforced, relaxed, non-holiday, just wanting to be together." 

and, the second winner is:


Karen wrote:


"The thing I like best about spending time with my family is that we all get along! Really! :) There are no arguments, and no fights. We laugh a lot, too about anything and everything and we always have inside jokes that last for years and years.

We have a very nice Pizza Hut here in Havre and because there aren't too many restaurants, I'd have to say it's one of my favorites. They have a great lunchtime buffet with salads, pizza and pasta.

Sarah looks beautiful with her nice, straight teeth!

Thanks for the giveaway, Susan!"

Sounds like you and your family all have a fun time together, Karen.  And I completely understand the "inside jokes" remark.  Sometimes I wonder if our friends "get" our wacky sense of humor.  When I and my brothers are together, we tear up the room with comic relief and I often wonder if we're the only ones who get the joke.  That's a laugh in and of itself. 

Oh, and "You're welcome Karen - for the giveaway.  Hee hee.

and, the third winner is:


Marcela wrote:

"I might be colombian but I like my pizza, especially at Pizza Hut, and after reading this blog, I can't wait to visit this neat place with a few of my friends this Super Bowl weekend. Thanks for the info."

Well, Marcela, it looks as though you and your family will have the chance to enjoy some delicious Pizza Hut Lasagna, Pizza, or other favorite from the menu this weekend! 

CONGRATULATIONS!  By the way, I spoke to my sponsor and it looks as though I might be able to have another contest just like this one again soon.  I want my readers to have every opportunity to enjoy these great sponsored prizes.  It sure does make me happy knowing that I have made you happy in some way.

TO OUR WINNERS: Email me at [email protected] to claim your prize.  All I need is your email address and my sponsor will do the rest. 

Everyone have a great weekend with your family.  Reflect on the simple pleasures, the precious memories, the joy of just being together. Life is fleeting.  Time with family is a gift - the greatest gift of all.  As always, thank you for sharing your stories with me.  It is your stories that bring me the greatest pleasure here on Raisin Toast.  Thank you for being a part of my life and for sharing in my journey. 




Last night was a special night out with the family and our neighbor Dan, who just got laid off from his job too.  Horrible Corporate politics in play here and unfortunate for him and his family.  So, we invited Dan and his son, Alex (our son, Matthew's best friend) to join us for dinner.  Unfortunately, Jan, Dan's wife and my friend, was not feeling very well and so she stayed home and rested.  But, we made sure to take her a goody box - and it was a goody too.


We heard that there was a new item on the menu - Lasagna, and we wanted to give it a try.  Actually, it isn't on the menu yet, but will be shortly.  (I have a little bluebird that visits me on occasion and tells me these things).  So, we thought that since the weather was nice and we hadn't been to Pizza Hut in a long, long time, we would scurry on down to the one at 2111 Roosevelt Blvd. in Monroe, NC.  We had never been there and had heard that it is one of the nicest Pizza Huts in the area.  I had never seen a PH Italian Bistro before, so being able to fly the coop for an evening out with my family was exciting.  I really need to get out more.


I was pleasantly surprised.  This was a really nice family restaurant.  And clean.  Very clean.  Impressively clean.  If you want to know just how nice this restaurant is to take your family, know that everything including the mall parking lot where this PH is located was empty except for the Pizza Hut parking lot.  There must have been 5 sheriff's car's in the parking lot as well as lots of cars and trucks (we live in the south, folks, there are gonna be trucks).  Fortunately, as we discovered when we went in, the cops were there to eat - and not arresting anyone or beating off the local yocals with a stick.  (That was a relief).

What I found amazing was that this Pizza Hut was 23 years old.  It looked brand new to me!



Hmmm, let's see, what to order.  We were definitely going to try the new Lasagna, but I could tell that Big Bear had his eye on the wings.  Wow, do they have a selection of wings on the menu or what? 

Did I mention this restaurant was very clean?  It is.  Very.  Clean.


We're hungry.  We're happy.  We're hungry.  We're happy.  I need blinders now that Sarah has had her braces removed.  Yep, they came off yesterday, so I guess you could say that this was a celebratory dinner for Sarah's sparkling, straight, white smile.


I need blinders.  Two-and-a-half years and $5000 dollars later, Sarah will be smiling even when she doesn't feel like it.  "Can I stop smiling now Mom?  Take the dang picture already!"  "Okay, but you have to hold that smile the rest of the night."


This is Tiffany.  She wears braces.  She has worked at this Pizza Hut for over 4 years and is working her way through college.  I thought she was cute.  We all did.


We took turns at the salad bar, and I should tell you that it was delicious.  Small, but good.  I am always weary of salad bars, especially since all kinds of nasty things can grow if it is not kept at a certain temperature and kept clean.  Assistant Manager, Kristine Daniels, who has worked at this Pizza Hut for 18 years, assured me that they monitor the temperature several times a day and keep the salad bar fresh and clean.  They're on top of it and it was a good feeling.  Good salad by the way.

I was impressed - especially since they had no idea this camera toting lady and her family were going to be dining there last night. 

By the way, I learned that the manager, Mike LanVardt, has been manager of this Pizza Hut for 21 years.  Does this tell you something about this organization?  When everyone else is losing their job, Pizza Hut is holding onto their employees like glue.  Can I send Big Bear over for a job application? 


Ahhh, dinner.  I was starving.  The new family size Lasagna dinner comes with 5 hot, soft, and tasty breadsticks.  No, this is not a commercial for Pizza Hut. Yes, this was our dinner last night - Out & About town.  And it was definitely worth writing about.  The Lasagna, this new Lasagna, wasn't heavy.  The sauce was sweet and tasty too.


My favorite - Pan Cheese Pizza.  I've had so many pizza's (I think we all have) from Dominos to Mario's, and I still think Pizza Hut makes the best.

So, are you all ready for the Super Bowl this Sunday?  Well, how would you like to have something delicious from Pizza Hut to share with family and friends? 

To celebrate my daughter's beautiful new smile, I am offering not 1, not 2, but 3 $20 e-gift cards to Pizza Hut to 3 lucky readers who answer this question in the comments:

What do you like best about spending time with your family?

And maybe, this Sunday, you can gather with your family and your friends, enjoy the Super Bowl, and share some Lasagna and pizza with a smile and a hug.

Because it took me forever to get this post finished (I was watching a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie with my family and my computer kept locking up on me) - This contest will end at 7pm EST, Saturday evening (January 31st), and I will announce the 3 winners 2 hours later, at 9pm Saturday evening - just in time for you to add some great Lasagna to your Sunday Super Bowl Plans.  Deal? 

Now, tell me all about what you like best about spending time with your family and enjoy the Super Bowl!


Friday, January 23, 2009

You Made A Pledge


In my last post: I Pledge To Make A Difference - How About You I asked you to consider making a pledge that would make a positive difference somehow, and a few of you came through.  This pledge, if it is sincere, could never be more important than it is now.  And, I believe that all pledges should begin with prayer. 

I hope that this t-shirt will remind you of your pledge every time you wear it. 

I am the sponsor of this contest (that should explain why it isn't a laptop, software, or cookware - haha), and I picked 2 winners! 

CONGRATULATIONS!  Our first winner is Rebel!  You are the proud recipient of this lovely t-shirt.  Wear it to bed.  Wear it to the grocery store.  Wear it to garden.  Just wear it. :)

Rebel said:

I pledge to be a better citizen of this world by bein' more concerned about what I say to my fellow human and how I act towards my fellow human. More concerned about what I give back to my community. I pledge to waste less, conserve more and gripe less. I pledge to pray, smile, love, share, and laugh more.

CONGRATULATIONS! Our second winner is Sandra!  Sandra made a pledge too. 

Sandra said:

I pledge to talk less and listen more
I pledge to be a better mother
I pledge to recycle more
I pledge to be less wasteful
I pledge to support our President
I pledge to exercise more
I pledge to donate to at least 1 charity a year
I pledge to be more humble
I pledge to be more forgiving

And, you asked a question at the beginning of this post, and I think the one who is mending the flag is Jesus. I see the wound in his hand.

Sandra was the only one who remembered the first question in the post: 


Look for the neglect, warfare, sacrifice tragedy and the evil...
then look for the hope, healing, life and prayer.  Who is mending the flag?

Good Job Sandra!  It is Jesus! 

Winners - please email me at [email protected]  I need your shipping information and your t-shirt size.

Thank you to my readers for entering this contest and for making a pledge.  I wish I had more money to invest in a t-shirt for all of you.  But, well, we're kinda broke right now as Bob is still looking for a job.  We're still doin' okay, though.  I appreciate all of your prayers and emails of concern.  A few of you have even passed on Bob's resume.  Thank you so much!  This t-shirt contest was my way of saying "Thank you" to all my readers - for your kind words, for your heartfelt concern, for you friendship, and for taking time out of your day to read my stories. 



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Pledge to Make a Difference - How About You?


"If My People"
by Jack E. Dawson

Look for the neglect, warfare, sacrifice tragedy and the evil...
then look for the hope, healing, life and prayer.  Who is mending the flag?

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

I Pledge to make a difference.  A positive difference.  I Pledge these things:

To Live a healthier and greener life
To recycle more
To consume less
To turn off lights


To adjust the temperature (down in winter, up in summer)
To give something of value to the elderly
To take my blue bags to the grocery store and not use their bags
To plant at least 10 new trees this year


To grow some of my own vegetables
To teach political awareness to my children
To teach art to the children in my community
To speak with a loving, caring, and understanding voice in my blog
To lend a hand and a smile to a stranger in need


To teach my children the value of caring and doing for others
To teach my children how to get involved in community service
To teach my children how to be articulate so that they will be able to teach others
To inspire others to make a pledge
To inspire others to make a difference
And so much more. 


Watch this video, and then make your pledge.  It's time for a change.  Ironically, that was my father's tag line when he ran for US Senate back in the 60s "It's Time for a Change" and I am glad to pass it forward. 

MySpace Celebrity and Katalyst present The Presidential Pledge

What an incredible day in history we are about to witness.  May this day be the first day of the rest of our lives to make positive change.  Start with you.  Nobody said it would be easy, but nothing that is worthwhile ever is.  Let's do this together.

Now for a surprise for any reader that has read this post and wants to make a difference.  I pledge to give at least 1 "I Pledge" t-shirt (like the one pictured above) to a reader who makes a pledge in the comment section to start making positive change.  Just answer this question:

"What's your pledge?"

Winner will be announced on Thursday at Noon EST. 


Artwork above by:

Jack E. Dawson

Scott Hansen

Shepard Fairey

David Choe

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Death, Dying, and Such


By my hilariously funny, pragmatic, sometimes serious, Charlotte blogger friend:

Charlie Pratt ...

Hiccups, or synchronous diaphragmatic flutter, happen when the diaphragm gets spastic, causing the epiglottis to close involuntarily. Everyone seems to have a different remedy for these, ranging from holding one’s breath to drinking water from the wrong side of the cup to dumping copious amounts of sugar down one’s gullet. The remedies are always much funnier and weirder than the hiccups themselves, providing entertainment for passersby and reminding us that sometimes, life does what it wants with us.

I was thinking about this yesterday, as I watched a US Airways passenger jet bobbing in the frigid Hudson. Seeing that no one was killed, I allowed myself a moment of levity and began thinking about the normal things that happen just before something terribly abnormal.

I wondered if anyone on board had a bout of the hiccups just before the engines blew.

Picture it. An older couple, in their sixties, wearing pastels up top and khakis below, both with white hair, an insatiable love of travel, and an unflappable sense of adventure.

“Betty - hic - I can’t seem to get rid of these damned - hic - hiccups!” This is Bob Jarvis, retired accountant, to his wife Betty, who’s obviously amused.

“Well, Bob,” Betty says, “Why don’t you ask the flight attendant for a cup of water?”

Bob shakes his head. “No, that’s not my remedy.”

“Well what is your remedy, honey?” she asks blithely. Betty is working on the Times crossword, finding a 5-letter word for “wild time” a particularly vexing task. Party? No, too vague. Soiree? No, that’s six letters.

To Betty’s right, out the double-sealed window, a flock of Canadian geese are sucked into the massive jet engines on the Airbus A320, effectively ruining both the airliner’s source of forward thrust, and the Jarvis’s weekend travel plans. Fun fact for Bob & Betty: The impact of a 12-pound bird hitting a plane traveling at 150 miles per hour is equal to that of a 1,000 pound weight dropped from a height of 10 feet, according to experts on bird strikes.


Not long after that, a stewardess runs up the aisle, looking for a fire extinguisher. Bob reminds himself to get her attention when she comes back - he plans to gargle some Schweppes Bitter Lemon and put these hiccups behind him. Betty smiles, pleased with herself as she realizes that the 5-letter word for “wild time” is spree.

Pretty soon, the captain simultaneously cures Bob’s hiccups and threatens Betty’s bloomers. “Brace for impact,” were the words that resounded over the rows of seats. Before long, the jet, on fire and out of time, swoops in low over the Hudson, not unlike one of the ill-fated Canadian geese, whose feathers were now floating down somewhere over on 49th Street, coming to rest on a Persian man who decided to take it as a positive omen for the day.

Chesley-sullenburger-USAirwayspilot A miraculous landing by a fantastic pilot yielded a sigh of national relief as we, glued to our televisions or refreshing our web browsers with manic concern, all watched the passengers - Bob, Betty, and the rest of them - wing-walking to vigilant ferry boats and escorted to safety and warmth by the FDNY, looking like bright-colored courtesans from a strange land, with floatation devices puffed full around their cold necks.

Death and dying didn’t come for them, and we are thankful. But as Betty’s crossword clue would suggest, wild times aren’t only had by those who purchase airline tickets. The spree continued, but quietly, elsewhere, out of the purview of CNN and FOXNews. Sir John Mortimer finished his race yesterday, quietly in his Oxfordshire home. Earlier this week, Arne Naess, Hortense Calisher, and W.D. Snodgrass, three members of the long lineage of thinkers, writers, and poets, ended their stay with us, no longer able to say what needs to be said, write what hasn’t been written, and no chance left for us who’ve yet to shuffle off the coil to be moved by them.

I’m captivated by moments like these. My brain begins its eternal calculations, thinking about the people who might have died yesterday, did die yesterday, and those who would die the day after that. Before long, my brain feels dizzy, like I’d just gotten off the teacups at Disney. Pondering death sucks.

With timing that only life can bring, I was interrupted from my death-meditation by the happy giggles that tumbled out of my one-year-old nephew as he climbed on my back while I watched the news. I turned away from the analysts and rolled on my back, grabbing him and perching him on my chest. I looked at his little face, the picture of joy on the smooth skin of his little face, smiling and reminding me that, thank God, it wasn’t my time yet either. A long string of the purest drool began its descent from his lower lip to my chest when I decided to stop thinking about death and dying and make faces with a one-year-old who - yep, hoo boy, it’s confirmed - had just recently filled his pants, and was laughing about it.

I end this today with a bit from W.D. Snodgrass’s “Old Apple Trees,” in hopes that we keep in mind the magnificent gift that each breath, laugh, and quiet moment brings.

Not one of us got it his own way.

Nothing like any of us

Will be seen again, forever.

Each of us held some noble shape in mind.

It seemed better that we kept alive.

 -- Charlie Pratt

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Anniversary Darling ...


Sixteen years ago today, I had spent my first night in an apartment in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and my last night as a single woman.  Bob and I married on January 15, 1993, in a beautiful evening wedding with votives of candles lining the isle of the church where we married, and were surrounded by family and friends in what, just 7 weeks earlier, would seem to have been an impossibility.

November 20, 1992.  I was single - again.  Alone, and living in a bedroom that I was renting from a homeowner in Olney, Maryland, and going to Georgetown University full time, where I was working hard to earn a degree in International Business and Law.  My textbooks alone stood almost 4 feet high.  I was determined that I was going to be successful and was going to make my daughters, then 14 and 12, proud of their Mommy.  Kathleen was in Florida with my mother and going to middle school.  Kimberly was living with her father, who was in the Army, in Missouri.


Being alone.  It is a tough road being alone.  Especially when you are in your 30s, with children who depend on you and a history of broken relationships.  I was determined to change my life, and change my life I did - maintaining a 4.0 gpa with a full load and a full time job.


(Bob, right before our wedding sitting in the church office - he was a happy guy!)

I didn't want to spend my life alone.  I was, and always had been, very much a family girl.  I wanted to be a mother.  I wanted a family of my own.  Somehow, though, at that time in my life, I did not think that I had an option.  And so, I pursued a different road.  One that I hoped would garner me security and restful nights of sleep.  I had been unlucky in love and had made mistakes.  Some of those mistakes I brought on myself, others out of desperation, some were just plain stupid - all in an attempt, albeit unconsciously, to have a home and family I could call my own.  I wanted more than anything to be in love and to be loved.  Still, I was sick of the process.  Sick of dating.  Sick of 2 failed marriages.  Sick of men.

So I immersed myself in my studies and my job and kept my eye on the goal.


(My dear friend, Alison, sang at our wedding.  She sang the Lord's Prayer and The Rose.  Both were so beautiful the whole church was in tears)

I grew up in Maryland and that is why I felt very comfortable living in Olney.  Although I no longer had family there, as they were living in Florida, I had lots of friends close by.  It felt like home. Back then there was nothing but snail mail.  I got an invitation to my 15-year high school reunion class of 1977.  I graduated from Sherwood High in Sandy Spring, Maryland.  I had not missed a reunion yet and I wasn't about to start now.  I was excited about going and decided to ride with my girlfriend Erika, and her husband, Alvin.  Erika and I had been friends since the age of 14.


(My father had passed away in 1980.  I had nobody to walk me down the isle, so Bob met me half way.  We walked towards one another and then, hand-in-hand, he walked me to the alter)

November 21, 1992.  Golden Bull, Gaithersburg, Maryland.  Sherwood High's Class of '77.  500+ people.  Lots of pregnant women, lots of gray, bald, fat guys.  A few classmates had passed away in the 5 years since our last reunion.  I wanted to look good, and daggonit, I think I looked pretty darn good for 33.  I was 104 lbs, 5'8", short brunette hair, in shape, and funny as hell.  I had on a tight red top and a short red-plaid mini skirt.  I was ready to paint the town - and tear up the dance floor.  See, there is something you need to know about me - I LOVE to dance.  I grew up in the 70s – remember? "Dancing Queen?"  There was no way that a DJ was going to put on Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, or Lionel Richie without me tearing up the floor.  Oh, and it didn't matter one iota if I had a dance partner.  I knew how to dance (and no, my job in Maryland was not a stripper either - ha ha - nice try folks) But I sure could dance like one!!!  I knew how to shake my bootie, and that night that is exactly what I did.


(He held my hand tightly and squeezed it when the Pastor said something he really liked)

I walked into the Golden Bull and there standing before me was this tall handsome recognizable face - Bob Vaughn, known in our circles as "Bobby."  Bob and I had known each other since 6th grade - age 11.  His mother had worked for my father in the Republican Central Committee and he used to come to my house and stuff envelopes with political flyers.  Fun time that was - Not.  I never noticed him.  He was a boy in my school and had long legs and pimples.  I liked jocks.  I liked the bad boys.  I knew trouble when I saw it.  Bob was "not" trouble.  Except maybe for Barbara.  Barbara was a close friend in high school and she had it bad for Bob.  Their parents had set them up and thought they would make a cute couple.   

Put it this way, we had the same circle of friends all through high school, but I always thought of Bob as being a bit of a geeky guy and not really my type.  He was nice enough, but naaaah, I had my sights on the midshipmen at the Naval Academy and that was all I could think of all through high school was white pants, white shirts, Disco Dahlgren, and guys in white hats.  Erika, Alison, and I used to tear up the dance floor and laugh all night long as teens hangin' out with 4500 midshipmen on a Saturday night.  Was that dangerous or what?  What were my parents thinking!!! Bob?  Bob who?


(We had a traditional Christian wedding, but we also shared a personal promise to each other)

There he stood, tall and handsome, distinguished, clean cut, in a dark suit, white shirt and tie, and about 20 lbs heavier than I remembered him just 5 years previously, but dang did he look good.  Bob and I always talked and caught up with each other and all of our mutual friends at every reunion.  When I hugged him I recall thinking, "yum, he smells good."  He was smiling and appeared happy to see me and had heard through the grapevine that I was living back in Maryland and was no longer married.  Our conversation went something like this ...

Bob:  "Hey!  Susan!  It's so great to see you!"  (and then he proceeded to hug me)

Me:   "Hi Bob!  How are ya big guy?"

Bob:   "I'm great, working hard at GE.  So, I hear you are living back here?"

Me:    "Yes, I'm going to Georgetown, finally working on finishing my degree, and then go to law school."

Bob:   "How are your girls?  Are they with you?"

Me:    "Unfortunately, no.  I had to make a tough decision in order to get this degree from Georgetown, and after much discussion with my family and Kimberly's daddy, I knew they would be well taken care of while I worked on finishing my degree."

Bob:  "That had to be tough."

Me:    "It was, but it was the right decision."

Bob:   "So, then, I take it you're no longer married?"

Me:    "Nope - I'm single."

Bob:   "Wow!  That's Great!  I mean, sorry to hear that."

Me:   "No problem, Bob.  And you?  Are you married?"


(We kissed and he hugged me tightly.  Believe it or not I was worried that my red lipstick would get all over his face.  Who cares, right!)

Bob:  "No.  I am here with my old girlfriend, Leslie, though.  We dated for 8 years and were engaged for 2 years, but it didn't work out.  We're still friends."

Me:  "That's interesting.  And she is here with you tonight?"

Bob:  "Yes, she is inside talking to friends."

---- I'm feeling really uncomfortable now.

Bob:  "So, are you seeing anyone now?"

Me:   "Nope."

Bob:  "Well, would you like to go out to dinner then?"

Me:   "uuuuuhhhh"

Bob:  "Here.  Let me give you my card and here's my home number.  Can I take you to dinner sometime?"

Me:   "uuuuuhhhh"

Bob:  "Can I call you this week?"

Me:   "uuuuuhhhh - I suppose.  That would be nice actually."


(A perfect day and a happy couple.)

(At this moment I was thinking "hey, I can go out to dinner and a movie once in a while, right?  What's the big deal?  I had sworn off men altogether, but Bob wasn't 'men' he was a 'friend.'")

Bob hands me a pen and his card and asked me to write down my number.  As I'm doing this I was thinking, "What in the hell am I doing?  Am I nuts????"

So we hugged, he kissed me on the cheek, and we walked inside to mingle with all the fat and pregnant people.  Leslie came over and said hello and we all - about a dozen or more of us, all sat together at one big round table.  Round tables were everywhere, lining a big dance floor.

Thirty minutes into this reunion you could hear lots of laughter and conversation, and some great 70s music, but nobody was dancing.  I sat there and finally announced "Screw this, I'm dancin' - if you old farts want to sit on your butts all night, that's your problem, but I'm dancin'."  I got out of my chair and headed for the dance floor to shake my bootie to Michael Jackson in front of 500+ fuddy duddies.  And shake I did.  I have the moves baby, let me tell ya, I was shakin' my stuff.  And there on the sidelines patting his knee, tapping his foot, and smiling was none other than Bob.  He later told me that he had his eye on that mini skirt the whole night. And the funny thing about that evening was that Leslie encouraged him to dance with me.


(Our reception was in the church fellowship hall)

After the second song, he got up and joined me on the dance floor.  That was brave.  I mean, everybody else sat - looking - refusing to move - an inch.  "Good Lord People!  Dance!  Live a little!"

Bob can't dance.  He bobs back and forth (get it?  Bobs?  Forget it, bad humor I know.)   Anyway, his arms are moving back and forth and he wiggled his hips a little bit, and I didn't care one bit.  Nope.  I didn't care if I was dancing with the worst dancer in the place.  You know why?  Because he was smiling ear-to-ear and having a great time, and apparently was happy to be dancing with me.  That was good enough for me regardless of the fact that we looked like complete fools.

I danced my hiney off that night and Bob danced with me most of the evening.  Leslie was a good sport about it.  She didn't want to dance, but she enjoyed mingling with our mutual friends.

I left with Erika and Alvin and Bob said he would call.  The reunion had been the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  Bob called me on Sunday.  Then Monday.  Then Tuesday.  Then Wednesday.   I spent Thanksgiving with a girlfriend and her family.  Then Friday, we went out to dinner to "Pat & Mike's" in Gaithersburg (I don't think it is there any longer) and then we were going to go to a movie.  We had a great dinner and talked and laughed for hours.  We never did make it to that movie.  It was a fun evening and Bob asked me if I wanted to go out again.  "Yes," I said, "I'd really like that."  And the next day we went to Georgetown and walked around.


("Here, let me do that"  Already trying to take control ey?  Nope, you better watch out if you don't want cake in the face)

I had a lot of studying to do so I passed on seeing him on Sunday, but at 6:30am Monday morning, the doorbell rang at the house where I was living.  I thought "who in their right mind is ringing the doorbell at this hour of the morning?"  I hurried down the stairs in my flannel pajamas and opened the door to see Bob standing there with a dozen red roses, a card, wearing a nice leather jacket, looking all clean cut and handsome and boy did he ever smell good.

Me: "uuuuuhhhh.  Good morning you.  Come on in I guess. What on earth are you doing here at this hour?"

Bob: "I woke you didn't I?"

Me: "Well, I don't have to be at school till 2, so yep, but that's okay, come on in and I'll make coffee, unless you're in a rush."

Bob: "Well, I was going to work, and I was going to leave this on the doorstep, but then I thought I'd take the chance that I would see you."

Me: "Well, you're seein' me alright - jammies, furry slippers, clean face, bad breath and all."

Bob: "You look great to me."

(I didn't know how to answer that so I think I didn't)


(Let the celebration begin, and then please get me out of these shoes)

I put the beautiful roses in a vase, made some coffee, and thanked him for thinking of me.  The card was very sentimental.  I can't remember exactly what it said, but it was something about how happy he was that I was in his life and he had underlined a lot of words in the card to emphasize his feelings.  … Listen, I don't want to hear it, okay?  So what if we had only been out on 2 dates.  We talked on the phone daily for 9 days.

Screeeeeeeech AAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I walked him to the door and stepped out the door to the front porch as the sun was coming up - kinda. And it was freezing.  And I didn't care.  (My toes were warm).  And "no" he had not kissed me yet.  And I wasn't expecting him to either, I mean, he was my friend.  Friends don't kiss.  Do they?

Screeeeeeeech AAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!

He took about a dozen steps towards his little blue Porsche as I stood there watching him go to work and I had my feet clamped together and my arms crossed in front of me like I was holding in my gut and I was still half asleep when I noticed he was walking rather boldly back my way.  Suddenly, I wanted a breath mint.

“H'll o. uuuuuhhhh ...”

Whamo!  Bob pushed me up against the cold siding on the house, his body pressed up against mine, I could hear the crackling of his leather jacket as he wrapped his arms around me and laid a kiss on me that ... that ...
that ...

certainly woke me up that morning!


(My feet were killing me!  Such perfect marital manners, don't you think?  See that pretty lady on the left?  She was a friend and neighbor where I was living before I married Bob.  Her husband was President Bush's (Sr) dentist.  I often wonder if he ever pulled out any of his teeth)

After catching our respective breaths, and feeling weak in the knees ...

Screeeeeeeech AAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!  "What am I DOING???  AM I OUT OF MY MIND???  THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED TO DO!!!"  I needed to get back to the books.

I needed a stiff drink - "where's the ice tea?"  Hey!  That's stiff at 7am!

I sashayed back to bed and thought, "What in the hell just happened?  Why am I trembling? Why am I feeling this ache deep inside now?  That had to be a seriously wet dream. Right?"

Bob called me at 9am, noon, and 1pm.  Ya think I got any studying done that morning?  I give you 3 guesses and the first 2 don't count.

Bob and I talked every day and he even helped me with some problems I was having in Statistics class.  (I wonder why?) He took me to dinner nearly every night and we laughed and had a great time.  I was comfortable with Bob.  I didn't feel like I had to be somebody I wasn't.  I felt better in my own skin too when I was with him.  It was like we had known each other our entire lives - and to tell you the truth we had.

Ya know, I should be mad as hell at Bob.  Dag gone him.  I mean, he could have saved me a lot of grief and 15 years of heartache and heartbreak if I had known this all along.  What's the deal with that anyway?

December and final exams around the corner - I wasn't prepared at all.  I was so angry with myself for letting this relationship, friendship, whatever you call it, get between me and the studies that were so important to me.  MEN!  See how they can screw up the works?  Screw up your life?  Screw up your plans?  Screw up your grades!!! Crap.

It was a week before Christmas and Bob and I had seen each other nearly every day since the day after Thanksgiving.  He told me he loved me.

Screeeeeeeech HALT!!!!!!!!!!!

Honestly, I think my reply was "Oh dear."  I was scared out of my head.  I had tickets to fly to Florida and be with my family and my girls for 2 weeks over Christmas.  I couldn't wait to see them.  I missed them something awful.  Bob agreed to drive me to the airport.  That week we exchanged gifts.  Bob got me a really great ski outfit.  It was beautiful.  I don't know where I was going to wear it because I didn't ski (Bob did, though) and so, I think he was hinting that he wanted to take me skiing with him.  I was feeling really bad at that moment.  I wanted us to be "friends" and I was really torn up about all of these feelings between us.

I had to dig deep in my heart and decide what I wanted to do and I knew I had to make a decision fast. I knew we couldn't carry on this way.  We needed to talk.  I knew that I would break this man's heart if I continued to see him under these circumstances, and I knew that mine wasn't far behind.  I couldn't let this happen.  I couldn't hurt him.  He was my friend -  my dear friend.  And I wanted to keep it that way.  I thought about that all the way to Florida.  I focused on my girls and then Kim was off to spend time with her daddy for the remainder of the holidays.  Kathleen was into girlfriends and music and didn't have time for hangin' with Mom.  My mother did what she does best - nap.  ( and just so you know, I'm turning into my mother more and more every day).


(Me and my good friend, Erika)

It was 2 days after Christmas and nothing was going on.  Nothin' at all really.  I was enjoying the Florida weather, but I was missing Bob.  I had thought about Bob a lot over the holidays and Mom had remembered what a nice boy he was all those years ago.  Bob sent a gift to my mother for Christmas - a Poinsettia tree - and a nice card.  He sent me a card too, and to this day I will never forget what it said inside ...

He had handwritten the lyrics to the Carpenters’ “Merry Christmas Darling”

Greeting cards have all been sent 

The Christmas rush is through 

But I still have one wish to make 

A special one for you 

Merry Christmas darling 

We're apart that's true 

But I can dream and in my dreams 

I'm Christmas-ing with you 

Holidays are joyful 

There's always something new 

But every day's a holiday 

When I'm near to you 

The lights on my tree 

I wish you could see 

I wish it every day 

Logs on the fire 

Fill me with desire 

To see you and to say 

That I wish you Merry Christmas 

Happy New Year, too 

I've just one wish to make 

I wish I were with you 

I wish I were with you, 
I wish I were with you.

And he signed it “I Love You, Bob.”

I had thought about this predicament, and thought about it more, and I finally made a decision.  It was a conscious decision.  In other words, I used my head on this one, and knew that my heart would follow along for the ride.  So I picked up the phone and called Bob the morning of the 28th. 

Me: “Hey.  What are you doin?”  I asked.

Bob: “Not much.  Just working on the house.” (Bob was remodeling his parent’s house).

Me: “Working hard I suppose.” 

Bob: “I miss you.”


Bob: “Susan?  Did you hear me?”

Me:  “Yes.”


Bob: “Are you okay?”


Me: “Bob …”

Bob: “Yeah”

Me:  “I miss you too.”


Bob:  “Susan …”

Me:  “Bob, don’t.  Wait.  What are your plans for tonight?”

Bob: “Well, I was just working on the house and then going to bed early I suppose, why?”

Me: “You want to take me to dinner?”


Bob: “Are you serious?  But you’re not coming home for another week”

Me:  “You’re right, I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Bob: “Now wait a minute there, Susan, what are you up to?”

Me:  “Well, you didn’t answer my question … Do you want to take me to dinner?”

Bob: “Sure, but you’re in Florida and I’m in Maryland, so unless you have plans that I don’t know about, the closest we’re going to get to going to dinner is if you call me when you sit down to eat.”

Me: “Not if you pick me up from the airport at 8 o’clock tonight.”


Bob: “Give me the details.  I’ll be there.  By the way, Susan … I Love You” 

In the background I heard his mother's voice say "You do?" I knew then that trouble wasn't too far behind.  But, I'm a tough gal, so, I packed my things and I talked to my mother and Kathleen.  Kathleen could have cared less (you know how teenagers are), and yet, my mother understood.  I called my brothers and told them I was flying back to Maryland and I’d talk to them soon.   I had made a “decision.”   One that would change the entire course of my life.  And I was going to share it with Bob that night.


(Who is this couple? Do you know them?  They look vaguely familiar, but then again, they were much skinnier and prettier back then.  Ahhh, youth)

To Be Continued …

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Some Lucky Guys

This video was too crazy not to share. 

I guess when it's not your time, it's not your time. Now wasn't that fun? Dang.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Send Off to Dub-Ya - Join the Conversation

This 23/6 video pretty much sums it up - however, the movie disappeared, oh well.  Someone in the other political party must have deleted it.  So, instead, here is a Mac ad ...



Could it get much worse? I sure hope not. Goodbye and good riddance.

My friend Tim has had quite a lot to say in the comments, and daggonit so have I - what a laugh. Still, how about you join the conversation too? What are your thoughts about the outgoing President? What are your thoughts about the incoming President? Let's talk.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Gargle with Saltwater then Crash


That pretty much describes my past week.  Maybe my MacBook needed a saltwater gargle too.  Let this be a lesson to all of you out there who don't back up your computers on a regular basis.  Do.  Do back up your system.  Now.  Or forever lose your pictures, important documents, everything.  The thing that is so ridiculous about my experience, is that it didn't have to happen. 


Three years ago my MacBook died.  I took it into the Apple Store (not this nifty one in London, but the one in Charlotte, NC) and a Genius told me that my hard drive could not be recovered.  They put a new hard drive in my laptop and sent me on my way.  To avoid this ever happening again, I purchased an external hard drive and the Genius showed me how to clone my MacBook hard drive to the external drive. I did this religiously for about 6 months, and then I started getting lazy about backing up my computer.  So lazy, in fact, that I haven't backed up my laptop in about 6 months.  I'll bet you can't guess what happened to it last week?  Yep, you guessed it.  It crashed. 

I have a tendency to run my computers into the ground and download a hundred programs, because I think they are invincible.  That's because they are Macs.  Macs are invincible.  Well, sorta.  Put it this way, I won't have a problem in the world with any Mac I've ever had - no viruses, no problems, nothing, nada, until one day it just won't work.  Fortunately, Apple stands by their computers and because I have an AppleCare plan, they protect my investment.  Thank you Apple.  Unfortunately, though, they can't always recover what I've lost.  And in this case I lost a lot.  BUT, I'm not going to cry.  Nope. I am not going to fuss or scream or stomp my feet.  Nope.  I am going to hand over my MacBook, wait patiently for it's new heart replacement surgery, (hard drive that is), and then start over - from scratch. 

Although I now back up my images to Flickr, those are the ones I have already resized, edited, and played with.  I had about 500 images that I had not yet edited in Photoshop and they were waiting quietly on my MacBook for me to get to them.  Now I'll never see them again.  Can I cry now?  They were important images too.  I have no one to blame but myself for this debacle. I didn't just lose images, but documents and software that I had downloaded from the internet, and password information and...and...and...crap.  This really stinks.  


You know what gets me through sludge like this?  The reality that in the big scheme of life, this is nothing.  Insignificant.  Who cares, really.  That is what keeps me going through Big Bear's job loss too, is knowing that I have a roof over my head and I'm not hungry or cold.  Wait a minute, I am cold (we lowered our temperature to 68 degrees on both levels of our home and we're walking around in 2 layers of clothing), but I'm not freezing, and we have a warm family room because we have a fire going 24/7 to keep one room in our house really warm.  That is so we can lower our utility bill, of course.  And NO, we are not losing our home. 

I read on someone's blog that we were losing our home and yet I'm having contests.  First of all, we are not losing our home, and secondly, my contests are sponsored and not a dime is coming from our pocket.  Thank you to my sponsors for making this holiday season special for my readers who won your great prizes!  So, what keeps me smiling through all of this mess?  My Big Bear, my family, my children's laughter, a hot shower with smell-good bath wash, a warm bed with an awesome down comforter, the other computers in my house that work just fine, my dear friends, and you - my readers.  See!  I told you having a journal next to my bed to write in every night was a good idea!  How many of you started a bedside journal? 

A few of you told me that you were going to start a bedside journal to write your daily blessings in every night.  Ya gotta start it if you want to realize the benefits.  There are nights I have gone to bed feeling lousy and stressed and then I start to think about my personal blessings.  Then I think about all those families out there who have it so much worse than I.  Families who "have" lost their homes.  Families who are living out of their cars or on the streets or in shelters.  Families who have lost loved ones or their health.  I think about the young men and women soldiers, too, who are in a foreign land and can't be with their family.  The Lord has really been good to us in this life and believe me when I tell you I have no room to complain about anything.  I'll pray for all of you instead and that will make me feel better.


I am, however, going to get smart so that these little speed bumps smooth out a little.  For instance, I am going to keep a hard copy of all my passwords and computer information in one of those small Globe-Weiss index card boxes that hold 3x5 cards.  And, I am going to burn all my documents on my hard drive to disc.  And, I'm going to back up my computer at least once a month.  And I am going to keep all my images on a separate hard drive as well as my computer.  Because prevention is 9/10ths of the cure. (By the way, if you click on the index card file above, it will take you to Staples where you can order one for yourself.)

Now if I could only find a good cure for this sore throat that has been hangin' on for a week now.  Big Bear told me to gargle with saltwater.  For 16 years I have avoided gargling with salt water when I have a sore throat.  But, the other day I gave in and gargled.  I wanted to throw up, but I gargled.  Yuck!  Gross!  Bleck!  Disgusting!  Then I gargled again.  (You don't want to know).  And believe it or not, I didn't have a sore throat for 2 days.  Now it's back with a vengeance and I know he is going to make me gargle with that stuff again.  Yuck!  Gross!  Bleck!  Disgusting! 

But only if he brings me some chocolate afterwards.  Gotta have my chocolate.  And milk.  And a foot rub.  And a head rub.  And a back scratch.  And ... oh forget it.

Now be a good doobie and back up your hard drive, write all your passwords and important information on 3x5 cards and put them in a nice Globe-Weiss file box, then gargle with saltwater and call me in the morning.


Apple Online Store

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Facebook Status Etiquette, v 1.0


Don't get me started.  Or, better yet, please do.  There are a few blogs out there that haven't yet been completely unleashed on the reader world.  They are the great undiscovered and, well, daggone it, have I ever found one that is hilarious - one of the best reads that I enjoy almost daily.  That would be "Diary of An American Boy, or, A Life Worth Remembering," By Charlie Robert Pratt. 

Several times a week, I'll pop on over to Charlie's place and see what he's up to.  You see, he is writing a book and his blog "is" his book (more or less).  And I assure you that when his book is published, I'm going to be one of the first in line, behind his mother, of course, to buy it.  There is just something about his prose that inspires me to be a better writer.  Another neat thing, I might add, is that Charlie and I have become acquaintances over the course of the last few months since I discovered his writings, his ramblings, his blog.  And, we both live in Charlotte, this wonderful Queen city. 

So, please forgive me, but since I can't think of a post today that would tickle your fancy better than the one he posted the other day about Facebook, I am going to share it with you if for no other reason than to give you one hell of a hearty laugh this Monday morning - especially if you use Facebook. 

I sure do love my contributing authors - they're the best! 

Take it away Charlie! ...

Facebook Status Etiquette, v 1.0

What follows is an attempt, on my part, to bring to light certain verbal evils being perpetrated on the public through the continual and widespread misuse of the Facebook status message. All of the names have been changed to protect the innocent.


Now, you may be sitting here thinking, “Charlie, really - who cares? It’s a Facebook status message. Seriously, does it matter?” Most days, I’d nod and agree with you. But unfortunately, the time has come to clean house. I can no longer sit idly by and watch countless intelligent, employed Americans misrepresenting themselves and their own intelligence by underestimating the effect their words have on the modern world.

So then, let us begin.


1. The “Is” Debacle - This is a doozy. When you click on the status bar to leave a new status message, Facebook automatically inserts your name and, as a sort of verbal kick-start, the third person singular present tense of the word “be,” or, “is.” Don’t let this throw you, folks. You don’t have to include the word “is” in your message. This isn’t fascist Germany - you have the power. There are some that routinely fail to manage this little extra insertion and leave us scratching our heads and wondering why our brains just threw up as we read these ol’ chestnuts:

“Jimmy is cheese!”

“Janie is just got laid off. I need a drink.”


These status messages can be understood, but only after awkwardly bouncing over the verbal speed bumps. Over time, this sort of misuse becomes extremely common, and if we’re not careful, could easily slip into the American vernacular, leading possibly to Presidents giving speeches that begin as follows:

“My fellow Americans: Your President is we just bombed Iran. SUCK IT, AHMADINEJAD!!”

Do your part, citizens, and spare us this awful, awful future.


2. The Braggadocious Update - This is the passive-agressive’s favorite Facebook feature. It occurs when one makes use of the Facebook status message to indicate some sort of achievement, personal athletic feat, special gift, or upcoming travel plans.

“Belinda loves her new Miata!!”

“Bart just ROCKED his first half-marathon.”

“Brock is out running 10 miles in the sleet and driving rain. Hit up the celly.”

“Boris totally digs his sweet new job.”

Now, the intentions responsible for these eye-roll-inducing messages are all generally harmless, although it indicates a certain amount of need inherent in the person’s life for public approval and/or praise. The whole purpose of posting status messages like these is to elicit further investigation from the people in their lives. It’s important that you not instantly respond by commenting or leaving a message on their wall, thus validating bad behavior and becoming a part of the epidemic.


3. The “Look At Me, I Have A Family” Problem - No kiddin’, I love families. Really. I would love to have one someday. And I like to think that I’d avoid this next point of malfeasance, but it seems that even the best of people fall prey to this mistake. Some people, in an apparent attempt to self-validate, post smarmy domestic updates that serve only to point the finger at anyone who doesn’t have a home, children, or a garage.

“Cindy is watching the kids fingerpaint while planning our next trip to Disney.”

“Carol can’t believe that nine kids can be so tiring! Yay, Grey’s comes on tonight!!”

“Chris just took Layla and Breedon to get their hair cut - thank you, Supercuts.”

It’s not that we don’t care. We do. We really do. It’s just that, well, we don’t want to have to.


So, that’s a start. Even as we speak, Facebook Status Etiquette v. 1.1 is in the works. Stay tuned for further updates. Charlie is I hope you all have a good day!

Charlie Pratt is ...

Susan is ... laughing my butt off at this post!!! THIS "ARE" SO TRUE!!!! I just discovered the back button to delete the "is" in that status message on Facebook. Before that I was always having to think of a message that was grammatically 'is' correct."


Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Cathedral of Memories in 2008

Memories of 2008 from Susan Vaughn on Vimeo.

(Be sure you have your sound ON when you play the video.)

It took me 4 days, but I finally got my video of "Memories of 2008" completed.  I've cried way too much in the last 4 days and now it is time to move on to a year of being healthier and stronger.  I don't know that we could be much happier, although Big Bear finding a job would surely improve our stress level around here.  We're content.  We are comfortable.  We have each other and that means a hell of a lot when you get to be our age.

Bob said something profound to me the other day as we were getting ready to attend the funeral of someone very dear to me.  He said "I suppose we need more black clothes.  Looks like we are going to be attending more funerals as we get older."  I replied "That's a depressing thought." To which he replied, "It's only a matter of time before our movie of 'Four Funerals and a Wedding' comes out."  No laughter necessary, it was time to change the subject and leave home.

I do want to thank you - all my readers, friends, and family - for making Raisin Toast a part of your regular read.  I don't know how this toaster of mine can make a positive difference, but if I can create a positive environment for those who stop by, a place that holds some value to you, a place where you can feel as comfortable as if you were curled up on your sofa in your jammies with a cup of hot cocoa and 2 slices of raisin toast lightly buttered - well - I will have accomplished what I set out to do.

The music in this video is by my friend Karla Anderson, whose CD "Embassy Sessions" is a must have for your iTunes and music library.  I love her music, her mellow voice, her uniquely Karla sound and rhythm, and her - I love her.  She's pretty special.  I can't wait for her next CD to come out.  She writes most (if not all) of her own music which makes it that much more wonderful and honest.  I could swear the lyrics were written with me in mind, especially after making this video.  

The two songs in this video are Cathedral and What Else Can I Do.  Thank you, Karla, for writing such beautiful music and for singing it so eloquently.

You can see Karla's most recent music video HERE.  Stop by her site.  She'll be glad you did and so will you.

I look forward to this coming year and hope that you will continue to take this journey with me.

Blessings to you all!


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