Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Orchestrating fun -- jcarolek

When I was ten years old, I had a birthday party. I had wanted one for as long as I could remember, but with six kids, raising a family on a government salary, Dad and Mom were not in the habit of “wasting” money on parties. But I wanted one. And so my mother told me I could have one, but I would have to do all the work to make it happen.

I busily made my plans. I made paper party hats. I made the list of games we would play. I made the list of friends

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I learned it from a monkey -- jcarolek

When I was a little girl, my parents decided to get a new pet. Yes, we had the dog (Honey) and the cat (Yata), but into our family we welcomed Impy. Impy was a squirrel monkey. Now, I suppose it is natural for a family of eight (six kids and two parents) to NEED another mouth to feed, another joker to clean up after and, well, you get the picture.

Impy was purchased from a local pet store and it was clear from the beginning that he had some “issues.”

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Gift of Warmth -- jcarolek

My children were six and eight years old the Christmas that stands out from all others. Having moved from Florida to Virginia just one year previously, we were still in the infancy stage of making new friends and creating a new life for our family. In an attempt to combine the old with the new, we had invited my mother and stepfather from Maryland and two of my brothers from Florida to spend Christmas Day with us, and had been invited to some friends' house for food and festivities Christmas afternoon.

Christmas Day had been planned to begin with our traditional attendance at the Midnight Mass at the local

Monday, November 13, 2006

ROCK ON BUD!!! -- jcarolek

When I met my father-in-law, in March of 1998, I recognized immediately that meeting him was, indeed, a privilege. At 73 years young, this man, Bud to his family and friends, was still a “doer.” Sitting still was not his forte. He had retired ten years earlier, and had not missed a beat of life since.

His garden was his primary labor of love, and I have written before on what a wonderful gardener he was. His quilting was another labor of love which kept him out of my mother-in-law’s hair during those winter months when Mother Nature made working in the garden impossible in South Carolina.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A veteran and a red pen -- jcarolek

Once, my daughter wrote a thank you note to my great Aunt June. Aunt June was known for her “moodiness.” Had she exercised her body as much as she exercised her Last Will and Testament, which she constantly changed to reflect her latest mood, she would have probably lived another ten years, but, I digress.

Aunt June sent my daughter a slip for Christmas. As long as I can recall, Aunt June had sent young girls slips for Christmas. I never wore any that she sent me, and my daughter’s slips met much the same fate. I think Aunt June had purchased the clearance rack at a 1950’s lingerie counter

Thursday, November 9, 2006

There's bald man sitting on my couch -- jcarolek

I read a very sad and touching post today by a fellow blogger who is suffering with the loss of her beloved grandmother. She has lost her not to death, but to Alzheimer’s. We all know, theoretically, how devastating this disease can be, but the true impact is only felt when it is someone you love.

My father-in-law, Bud was from a large family – all girls except Bud. Two sisters died early, one from cancer, one in early childhood. When I met the family, nine years ago, the remaining siblings included Bud and four sisters. All were sharp of mind and sharp of appearance.

Are you the patient or am I? -- jcarolek

When my son was one month shy of 17, he had a head-on collision, caused by an epileptic seizure. We did not know he had epilepsy at the time, and, oddly enough, according to the neurologists, his epilepsy was a typical childhood “form” which is essentially “outgrown” as an adult. He just happened to have a grand mal seizure before he “outgrew” it. I am not an expert on epilepsy, but my brother Ted was diagnosed with it at the age of 23 and my sister-in-law, my son’s aunt, was diagnosed with it at age 18. Both apparently had it as children, but, again, nobody knew until their first grand mal seizure. This, however, is not germane to the story I wish to relate, save the fact that this head-on collision resulted in Stephen being airlifted

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Gripped by Fear -- jcarolek

I was the second born in a family of six children. My sister was 14 months my elder and generally stood head and shoulders above me all my life. I was thankful for my four younger brothers, who were my slaves, audience, congregation, students, depending on my mood and theirs. At times I must wonder what my parents were thinking, leaving my sister “in charge” of us beginning at a very early age. As they went out the door to whatever important thing took them from the bedlam they had created in their bedroom, my father would always say,

“What Jeannie says, goes. If you don’t like it, do it and complain about it later.”

Well, as I have mentioned earlier, Jeannie was not fond

Saturday, November 4, 2006

And about my feet -- jcarolek

In my recent post I bemoaned the size of my forehead, which is gigantic. As I finished off that entry, it occurred to me that the other physical oddity which kept me from joining the ranks of the beautiful, and the popular, was the size of my feet.

Yes, indeedy….I had tiny ones. So you see, while I was blessed with the gift of a huge brain, evidenced by that gigantic forehead, I was unable to stand on my own two feet! Well, not really, but they were really small. Now I could have understood this had I come from small-footed parents,

Friday, November 3, 2006

And today I follow the sun -- jcarolek

On my morning walk I took my camera.
Fall is offering great beauty which I dare not miss.
Today my eye was caught by the elusive sun.
I could see him shining on the leaves, but where was he?
On my way back home, I saw his sparkle and caught his pinpoint of light.
As I drew closer to home, I saw him as he danced in the woods, ducking in and out of the trees,
so colorfully adorned in their fall leaves.
I felt his pull even as I watched him rise. And I followed.
And when at last, I topped the hill,
I saw that weak fall sun,
Had taken just a moment out of his busy day,
To bring light to my home.
Please, enjoy my sun, which I share with you.

Living up to my forehead -- jcarolek

Funny what our parents tell us to help us deal with the oddities with which we are afflicted. I was born cross-eyed, with severe vision problems. I had surgery at eight months old and began wearing glasses when I was 10 months old. I’ve worn glasses all my life. I’ve been called four-eyes, and other equally imaginative names.

I started talking at eight months old and had a lisp. I carried that lisp with me until I was 15 years old. Now, these “defects” might have been what most would consider

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Back and Forth and a Path -- jcarolek

The first day of each month is a time I set aside for reflection and to look ahead at the possibilities.

October was a full month. My best friend married and I was her matron of dubious honor. My loved one made baby steps back along the familiar path of recovery, though the steps this time are more carefully taken. My daughter successfully established her floral design business in Napa, CA. My son, with his girlfriend and his best friend from childhood successfully established their data archiving business,

A rubber, you say? -- jcarolek

When I was thirteen I returned to the United States, having lived for three years in Cheltenham, England. I brought with me my full blown British accent, acquired within a few short months of living in the ‘hood.

Naturally, at thirteen, I was desperate fit in with my peers, so I found it objectionable that my accent made me different. My brother Tim and I shared a desire to rid ourselves as quickly as humanly possible of the accent which had dubbed us both, “English Muffin” by our new

Sheep's Brains and Snails -- jcarolek

Now, on the subject of different words which, as a famous man once noted result in “two countries separated by a common language,” I can also attest to the fact that as a youngster, my new American friends were quite appalled when I spoke of some of my favorite dishes, served regularly in England for lunch at school.

Of particular note was a dish we called Faggots.
What, I hear you cry, could that possibly be?
Well, what it LOOKED like was meatballs in gravy.
What we were TOLD it was, was SHEEP’S BRAINS……