Monday, January 29, 2007

Ice and Snow -- time to look UP -- jcarolek

Ice and snow are winter expectations. Those of us who live in the mid-Atlantic coastal region, thrill when we see the white stuff, and most of us are happy that we don’t have to see it day in and day out. But we miss some important lessons that those who live with more of this stuff just seem to know.

I learned the lesson one day when, after the power had been out for more than four days due to an ice/snow storm, we were finally able to get out to our truck which we had parked

Saturday, January 27, 2007

It's all about me -- jcarolek

When I was in my final year of college at Florida State University, (GO NOLES!), I had the opportunity to understand the meaning of the expression, “it’s all about me.”

It was a Friday night. I no longer lived in “the dorm” which is how we referred to my first residence at FSU. Still, my Smith Hall buddies always invited me to the dorm parties. But, as was typical, I was working this Friday night and could not attend the first part of the event…the keg party. I could, however, join them for the ROLLER SKATING PARTY that began at midnight.

So it was that I found myself, not a great skater in the first place, whizzing around the rink – the only one sober!

A little background…there was a weird guy who lived in the dorm. His name was Frank. He was “weird”, not only because he was “like 40 or something”, but also because he thought he was cool hanging out with the Freshmen, etc.

Needless to say he was not one of my favorites, but there Frank was drunkenly skating BACKWARDS, showing off, as if anyone was really impressed. Well, I recall thinking how I wished I could just get away from this dweeb, when he came sailing past me…well, almost.

My clumsy left foot, unnaturally clad in its shoe with wheels, managed to find its way directly into the oncoming path of the drunken Frankster. Before I could scream, well, anything, I was down! I hit hard enough to knock myself out! (ouch)

I recall coming to and knowing that another friend, Norman, must be standing over me. I just knew this because last I’d seen Norman, he was sweating profusely and I awakened to something “dripping” on my face! As I came to, so did the pain. It was my wrist that hurt and I could not lift it up.

Well, wouldn't you know know, the folks who rent the skates ALSO doubled as the “medic on duty!” The guy told me to open my fingers and close them. I was able to do so and he declared me fine and gave me some ice to put on the wrist. It felt as if I had jammed my wrist, and it felt as if it was still out of place.

No problem. I have all types of friends. “Larry,” I called to my friend, (I think he was majoring in something akin to pre-med), surely qualified to do my bidding. “Will you yank my hand really hard. I think I need to get the wrist back in place.” Larry, also having been a participant in the earlier keg party, was probably not on top of his game, but he knew enough to say, “Fletch! You’ll scream!”

I promised I wouldn’t and he complied with my wish and yanked my hand. OUCH!!! (but I did not make a peep!) Well, needless to say, that did not fix the problem. All night I waited while they finished their skating and endured the stop at the drive-through burger joint and finally made it back to my bed. All night, I never let go of my arm, which I supported with my right hand.

When I awoke on Saturday morning, I decided I had to change my clothes. When I let go of my arm, it swung in an unnatural fashion. Well, Norman came to my rescue, took me to the Student Health Center where the x-rays revealed a broken elbow and then to the hospital where I had the full-arm cast applied. The doctor was a little baffled by the x-rays. “Your elbow was clearly out of joint as well as broken, but it is back in joint now. I’ve never seen that happen.” No, I did not tell him about having Larry pop my arm for me!

When I returned with Norman to the dorm, we got on the elevator to ride up to see some of the others. Before the doors closed, in came Frank. He looked at me and said, “What did YOU do to you arm?” I told him what HE did to my arm and he replied, “OH! Yeah, well if you think that’s bad, you should see the BRUISE I have on my butt! My keys were in my back pocket when I fell!”

(I declined the offer to "see"…nothing I’d rather see less!)

So, it was that I learned, there really ARE people who believe it is ALL ABOUT THEM!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Do your own thing, or, don't make the smurfs "blue" -- jcarolek

I was going to title this, "Monkey See, Monkey Do," but in light of the recent Monkey Business, I chose the above title.

My son is two years and one week older than my daughter. He was potty trained before I delivered her (thank you for small favors) and he was about three when

Monday, January 22, 2007

Get the Bell off my Street -- jcarolek

One of the many family rules under which I lived as a youngster concerned the Ice Cream man. Now understand, this staple of American summertime was popular in my neighborhood. But my father had several issues with the whole concept. 

First and foremost, he did not want the guy to park in front of our house and ring that blasted bell. My father was convinced that if we purchased from this guy once, he would stop in front of our house every day. I think his assumption was valid, considering we had six children and the stop would have been a lucrative one.

Secondly, Dad was convinced that the ice cream man would gyp us (you know they are all out to steal kids’ money.)
Third, we didn’t have any money ourselves, so Dad would have to cough up the money for our frozen fancies.
Finally, the timing of the ice cream man’s trip through our neighborhood never failed to coincide with Dad’s

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Significant -- Insignificant -- jcarolek

From the fire there were salvaged only a few things.

More than twenty years ago, my grandparents’ house burned down, as they slept. Awakened by the smoke, my grandfather, a double amputee, went in search of the origin. My grandmother, awakened by his calls, heeded his caution to get out and go to the neighbors. He thought he could get the fire out, but he was wrong.

When my uncle called to tell me of the death of

Friday, January 19, 2007

Standing too close to the fire -- jcarolek

I stood in front of my fireplace this morning, warming my chilled feet and legs by the gas logs’ flames’ warmth. I stood, as I always do, with my back to the fire, allowing the warmth to envelope me. I was reminded of a time years ago when, at the age of 10, I stood in just such a fashion in front of the “fire place” in our living room in our house in England.

Now the fire place was really nothing like any I had send before, or since. It had no logs, fake or otherwise

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A time and a place -- jcarolek

A few years ago my husband was exercising on the treadmill. His morning routine well underway, he had the TV in the exercise room broadcasting the early morning news programs. With interest, he received the news that this day was “National Prayer Day” (did anyone know there was such?) Well, I have never followed up to verify the validity of this event, but the result of my husband’s reception of this information is well documented.

In learned fashion, John closed his eyes to say his prayer. This threw his pace off just a bit, but sufficiently to ensure that he failed to keep up with the programmed speed of the treadmill. Off the back of the treadmill his foot slipped, in the process breaking the back of the treadmill mechanism, rendering it unusable!

By this time, his eyes were wide open, his prayer

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Chatting with Jen -- jcarolek

What a wonderful way to close out another day. My daughter called from CA and we chatted for nearly two hours. We chatted about important, world affairs type topics, and we chatted about thoughts and hopes and dreams type topics. And we talked. Really talked. Not Mom telling daughter about the ways of the world. Not daughter telling Mom that she, “just doesn’t understand!”

How I love being the mother of a daughter who has grown up, maturing sufficiently to want to call just to chat with her old Mom! How I love being able to enjoy my 23 year old, adult daughter, who is truly also my friend.

I remember when I was young and my mother

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The eye -- jcarolek

I was driving home today. In front of me at a stop light I saw the following:

  • A woman driving a car, with three kids that I could see jumping around in the back seat
  • Not sure if there were any in the front seat
  • Woman was on a cell phone and smoking a cigarette, so window was open
  • Woman kept screaming at the kids and gesturing wildly for them to sit down and behave.

It brought to mind the phrase my father used to ensure stellar behavior on road trips. Understand, we had one car, a 1958 Chevy Station Wagon, and Dad drove that car to work every day. Mom and we kids walked everywhere we needed to go, be it grocery shopping, school, doctors, library, or whatever. So, getting to ride in the car was a big deal.

We six kids would pile in and off we would go. Most of these were trips of about an hour or so, going to visit my grandparents, but, we also had the annual vacation trip “The Pond House” in New Bedford, Mass.

For the first few minutes, all went well. The pecking

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Even I can have irrational thoughts -- jcarolek

I was about three months pregnant with my daughter when I had the opportunity to understand the difference between having a horrible thought and acting on that horrible thought. I had taken my 18 month old son for his routine checkup and had stopped on my way home to pick up a few must-haves from the grocery store.

I decided to shop at the Winn Dixie where my then-husband was “third man” (whatever the heck that was…something like the guy who gets to work the crappy hours when the manager and assistant manager are too smart to work.) So, it was

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tis the Season (just ask my neighbors) -- jcarolek

In case you are wondering, it is officially the Valentine's Season. How do I know? Well, I have neighbors who keep me abreast of the current season.

From 11/20 – 1/6 it is Christmas. The Christmas lights adorn the house. The very large front yard is dwarfed by the giant blow-up santa, snowman, etc. etc. No doubt, it is Christmas.

Today, as I drove by I noticed the change in season. Today there is a flag of pinks and reds with hearts hanging in the front yard. There are similarly colored heart-shaped balloons of some nature, hanging in the trees.

If history repeats itself, promptly on February 15th we will enter the season of Easter. These are not Irish savvy people, so St. Patty’s Day does not rate a season. But the blow up bunnies and the giant Easter eggs will grace the yard until the actual day has passed.

After Easter, we enter into the long season

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Put a lid on it! -- jcarolek

When I was 15, I learned my lesson about knowing when and how to throw my weight around. At 5’ 4 ½” tall, I had long enjoyed towering over my four younger brothers, though I had never been able to look my 5’ 7” older sister in the eye. So it was that I was all-powerful when speaking to my brothers.

My family operated by THE RULES. We had rules for everything and by golly, I knew the rules and enjoyed enforcing them. On a particular Saturday, my brother, then 13, made a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He poured himself a glass of milk and trotted off to enjoy his “snack.” Always the good monitor, I informed him that he had left the lid off the jelly jar.

He looked at me and continued to eat. OK, I was a cool sister. I let him eat. When he was done, he cleaned his dish and headed out of the kitchen.

“Dan, you didn’t put the lid on the jelly jar.” I reminded