Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tick Season does not just mean Lyme Disease -- jcarolek

When we moved to Virginia in 1988 we moved into a house in the woods. I loved it. My then-hubby loved it. Our two children loved it. We had a lot to learn about living in the woods, as both my hubby and I had been raised in the average subdivision neighborhoods of our day.

The second spring in VA, about the end of May, 1990, my son complained of his ear hurting. Upon inspection, I found a tick and removed it from the outside of his ear. Twelve days later, on a Sunday, my son had a headache all day. Naturally prone

Friday, April 27, 2007

Just one of my imperfections -- jcarolek

I started talking at a very early age. My sister, just fourteen months older than I, was not as early a talker, but her diction was perfect. Mom always said Jeannie never spoke until she could use full sentences. Not me! I was jabbering away and blissfully unaware that I was talking with a lisp. OK, so I’m not really sure at what age I developed the lisp, but I do know that when I was in elementary school, I had to go to the “speech” class several times per week.

I recall the speech therapist or teacher or whatever she

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Imagination -- jcarolek

Tonight I was thinking about my brother Ted. No particular reason. He just popped into my brain. I was thinking about the time I returned home from college to discover he was sporting a rather large “bandage” on his face. It turns out it was whatever they used to “fix” a broken nose.

Now, I asked my brother, “How did you break your nose?” He went into a lengthy explanation (yes, the genes MANDATE our giving lengthy explanations) about how he had been playing football with some friends and had gone out to intercept a pass, and run into a tree….breaking his nose.

Well, of course, most football fields are not laid out with trees as strategic “traps” so I had to ask, “Huh???” It turns out, the explanation was quite simple.

He and his friends had been playing football with an imaginary ball, at dusk, in the neighbor’s landscaped (with trees) yard.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How we hear what is said, or, wicked giraffes -- jcarolek

My father tells the story of how he came to fear giraffes. Now, understand, he was raised during those early years in a three room house on Long Pond in New Bedford, MA. Giraffes were NOT running amuck in those parts, even in the 1930’s.

So one night, Dad, then a little boy, dealing with a cold

Monday, April 23, 2007

Blissful in my ignorance -- jcarolek

When I was twelve, my friends and I liked to play around with the Ouija board. We lit candles and we adopted an air of hushed anticipation as we posed those all important questions of the future and awaited the reply delivered through our hands as the “pointer” moved about the board.

Yes, the question of who my sister would marry (a man from Cairo) was of utmost importance to us then, but, interestingly, has yet to come true. And of course the question of how many children I would have (12) was apparently a ten-spot off the mark, but we BELIEVED nonetheless.

One such night, my friend Linda and I sat in our temple of Ouija and scooted the pointer around the board, gathering such insight into our future as how old we would live and from what we would die (I died at age 37 from a brain tumor). Having determined our own fate, we looked to our “circle of friends” and asked similar questions about their longevity. We were pretty creeped out when the powers that drove our hands announced that one of our friends would die at the age of 13. He was already 13. We asked it again and received the same answer. But we got no answer when we asked how he would die.

Well, we went to bed that night, worried sick that our friend was going to die, and knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that we had no control over it. For if we somehow acted on the “knowledge” we had, the fate predicted would never come true, and yet, we knew it had to come true….the Ouija board said so.

I did not tell my parents. I did not tell my friends. I thought it would be a burden I would have to carry with Linda. The burden, as it turns out, was not to be carried long. For two days later our friend was swimming at the pool we called the Lido. He went head first down a slide and hit his head on the floor of the pool. He did not live out his 13th year.

Linda and I never again played with the Ouija board. I never wanted to “know” what was going to happen in my future or another’s. The burden is just too great. I have always felt profoundly sad for those who do “see” the future. I believe it would drive me crazy. I’m far more comfortable living each day, one day at a time, making the day the best I can for myself and those around me, knowing, of course, that someone, somewhere, might be burdened, already knowing of my demise, and yet being able to change nothing. I am quite blissful in my ignorance.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sad and Happy -- jcarolek

Last night my daughter returned from a bonfire where she had visited with my son, their dad and a family friend for the last time before she headed back to CA. She arrived back at my house around 10 PM. She and I had a great time. I introduced her to the new cat, Benson and she spent some “quality time” with our dog, Killian, who loves Jen to death!

And then, Jen and I just sat and talked, and talked and talked.

Though she is doing well in CA, she has decided

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wedding Vowels -- jcarolek

Tonight I had dinner with my daughter, son and hubby. As we sat eating our meal at the restaurant, we chatted about Justice of the Peace presided marriages. Jen wanted to know whether when getting married by the Justice of the Peace, the couple had to say vows, or just sign a piece of paper.

Well, I began to answer, explaining what I knew about it,

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Eskimo kisses? -- jcarolek

Good morning all. I just have a few minutes before heading off to more of my four day meeting, but wanted to check in and see how everyone is doing. Yesterday was blustery – very windy but at least the rain had subsided. My daughter went to visit a friend of hers who lives and works nearby and then she returned to the hotel room and made supper for us. What a treat that was! Usually, when I travel I just grab junk to eat, as I am not a fan of eating alone, but also shy away from going out to eat with “the crowd.”

After supper, she left for Richmond and will spend the

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Truly a delight -- jcarolek

Good morning all from windy, gloomy, Northern VA. I arrived safely yesterday afternoon and shared a wonderful night with my daughter…she’s still sleeping…I will head out to my all-day meeting in just a little while, but wanted to share some of my daughter’s photos of her adventures with you.

I hope you all have a wonderful day and make many sales,

Saturday, April 14, 2007

She was such a timid little girl -- jcarolek

Today I sang and played guitar at the wedding of a lovely young lady to her chosen young man. I sing and play at many such events and I have seen different approaches to this ritual of union. But today I was struck by several things.

This young lady, Michelle, had been in my daughter’s first Brownie troop…I have known her since she was five.
She has always been a tiny, timid little girl, who stammered when asked to decide ANYTHING…be it grape jelly or strawberry, orange juice or milk, she stood tongue tied, shrinking back into herself.
For the first three years I knew Michelle, I rarely heard her say a word…her best friend Jennifer ALWAYS spoke for her.
The only place I saw her act completely confident was on the stage in her dance routines, for dancing was her “sport.”

Today, rather in contrast to the timid little girl I had always known, I saw a confident young lady, who, having completed

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A single little scarecrow reminded me -- jcarolek

On my drive to No VA yesterday, I passed a roadside market, where produce from the owner’s farm is sold. They had erected a healthy looking scarecrow, I think more as an attraction to potential customers than as a real deterrent to crows. Nevertheless, his happy face brought back a memory I thought I’d share.

When I was 10 years old we moved to Cheltenham, England. I have a scrapbook of those years in my brain as vivid as if I could physically turn the pages and touch the pictures

Just another of life's embarrassing moments -- jcarolek

When we returned to the “States” after living in England for three years, my parents had to register all of us for school. Three of us were of Junior High School age (7th, 8th, 9th grades) and the other three were elementary school age (5th, 4th, and 2nd grades). I was the 13 year old heading into 8th grade. My brother Tim was heading into 7th.

I recall with amused clarity the conversation the principal

Sunday, April 8, 2007

An Easter story (of sorts) -- jcarolek

Before we purchased the land on which we built our house, my husband used to like to take his daily walk back through the dirt roads on which this property bordered. Many times he took our dog Killian with him on these walks. Always, he had Killian on her lead.

Once, about this time seven years ago, my in-laws were visiting and my father-in-law, quite a walker in his own right, went with hubby and Killian on their walk. With no properties developed in this 100 acre track of land, my father-in-law encouraged hubby to let Killian off her lead to run through

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Washing Dishes and Cast Iron Skillets -- jcarolek

Arguably one of the most detested chores when I was growing up was washing the dishes. Now, please understand, from the time I was 5 ½ years old, we lived in a “modern” house that had a dishwasher, so the chore would not seem to have been overwhelming. Still, I recall it as being the one on the job board (yes, my mother kept a great job board to ensure equitable assignment of daily chores amongst her six youngins) that I truly hated.

The whole concept of washing dishes the “old fashioned way” on a daily basis was pretty alien to me. So, when we moved to England when I was 10, I discovered there

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Rocking Gently on the Waves -- jcarolek

My grandfather painted some great paintings. I have shared them before in my blog. I love these paintings that grace the walls of my house. They help keep me connected to a man born more than a century ago.

Tonight I was looking at the ship. This ship is anchored on the wall above the mantel in my living room. I supposed I will always keep it in the living room, for it was always on my family’s living room wall as I grew up. There is something abiding about this particular painting that grounds me.

I recall lying on the living room floor with my brother Tim, a huge piece of brown paper on the floor between us, upon which we drew the island paradise we were sure we would find and live in once we were “all grown up.” And above us the ship rocked gently on the waves.

And I recall lying under the card table in the same living room, carefully affixing stamps into my stamp albums, listening to Burl Ives sing Waltzing Matilda, lost in my own little world. And above me, the ship rocked gently on the waves.

Yes, and on Thanksgiving when my grandparents came to share the feast with us, and we moved the table into the living room, to accommodate the extra diners. We all ate and laughed and after supper, Grandad drew a caricature

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Hills are Alive with the sound of embarrassment -- jcarolek

When I was 11 my grandparents flew over from the US to visit us where we were living in Cheltenham, England. They visited a few days in our home and then we all set out to go to Scotland, where my grandfather had some genealogical research he wanted to do. Our train ride took some time, but we loved the trip

Our final destination was a hotel called the Tornadee Hotel. Getting to the hotel was more fun than actually being at the hotel and I suspect Dad knew we six kids would be a little antsy just sitting around while Grandad