Thursday, May 31, 2007

It happened one day -- jcarolek

I moved to VA in November of 1988. I bought a house in the boonies but it had a feature that made it ideal to me. It was situated about 1/4 mile off the highway, down a private dirt road. A charter bus service ran a bus each day “across the river” to the primary employer of this area…approximately 45 miles from my house. The bus stopped each morning at my dirt road and three men and I joined others traveling to work. I left the house at 5:45AM and was lucky to step off the bus by 6:00 PM each night. But I did not have to drive, or hunt parking where parking was never available, or deal with traffic. No, for the HUGE sum of $21.00 per week, I could read, sleep, knit, chat or whatever suited me, in relative comfort for the hour plus ride to and fro.

One day I was running just a wee bit late leaving work and as I rounded the corner to cross the street to the bus stop, I saw the bus pull away without me. Now, it was a cold day

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Artist -- Lawrence C. Lemmon

My grandfather was the 20th Century man. Born in 1904 in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania, he was the eldest of five children. He was somewhat sickly, took a little longer to get through school than was normal, lost his mother at age 16 and was required to help raise his younger siblings. His father worked long hours at the mill. Larry, my granddad, took over as the other parent.

Larry did graduate and went on to attend and

Sunday, May 27, 2007

It's All About the Song

I enjoy singing. I have sung all my life. It was one of the ways my father shared his time with his six children. At night, in the dark, all six children sitting on the beds in my brothers’ room, we learned the songs that Dad knew. He taught us to harmonize and helped us hear ourselves when we strayed off key.

At ten I took up the violin and found in it, a

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Always Leave a Paper Trail -- jcarolek

I had intended to make my sister’s birthday cake. But, as is often the case, one thing ran into the next, and I found myself short on time. So it was that I dropped by the local Wal-Mart and purchased a ¼ sheet cake, unfrosted, purchased the frostings and returned home. In just a few minutes I had frosted the cake, creating the “plain” backdrop against which I would place the cake topper.

We made the trip to Dad’s in just about three hours and upon arriving, set about to the important activities...always part of the family gatherings…small talk….snacking on all the goodies…basically catching up. There were ten of us able to particpate in the celebration today and we all stopped briefly to watch the horses race around the track and watch the winner nose out his tough competition…and then we returned to small talk…snacking…and more catching up.

At some point, the actual “dinner” was prepared on the grill and we all sat down to share my sister’s 50th birthday meal. We had steak, shrimp, salad, corn on the cob, vegetable medley, stuffed mushrooms, bread and butter, and more….after grace…we got back to the business at hand…small talk…eating supper…and more catching up.

Soon, we were all filled and we continued our catching up as we helped clean up the dishes, and prepared for the presentation of the cake. I positioned the cake topper atop the cake, and set about adding a dozen candles. I was somewhat impressed with how tough it was to stick the candles in the cake, but I persevered and I achieved my goal. Once I had the candles lit, I carried the cake into the dining room, to the familiar tune of “happy Birthday.”

Jeannie responded to our request to extinguish the candles BEFORE the cake topper caught on fire, by blowing out all twelve. I then set about cutting the cake…once again, I noticed it was quite a sturdy cake, and took a little muscle to cut through. I served the cake to my family members and my husband was the first to start eating his….I was still serving pieces of cake when John asked, “Judy, is there paper under this icing?”

Well, of course there was! Blind as I am, I had not even seen the piece of paper that covered the entire sheet cake. I honestly thought I was looking at the “golden brown” cake while I was icing it. So I had succeeded in icing over a nice sheet of paper, rather than the cake itself. To get a better visual of my accomplishment, please take a cupcake, in the cupcake paper, and turn it upside down in on a plate. Now, do NOT remove the cupcake paper, but carefully apply icing over the whole thing. Now, stick a candle in it, and serve it to your unsuspecting guests!

But, my vision problems are legendary, and this latest faux pas, served to resurrect tales of past “accomplishments”. Everyone enjoyed their cake, as they accepted their piece, scraped the icing off the paper, pulled the paper off the cake, reapplied their icing to the actual cake and then ate it…..

And now you will understand when I say, “I always like to leave a paper trail….”

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Dream Born 50 Years Ago -- jcarolek

May 19, 1957. Tallahassee, FL. My mother gave birth to my parent’s first child. A girl. She was named Jeanne and called Jeannie, after one of my father’s favorite songs, “I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair.”

In fact, Jeannie did have light brown hair and was a father’s dream. She was always the responsible one, the one dedicated to hard work and cleanliness, homework and good grades, helping in the parenting of her younger siblings.

As number two of the brood of six, I was not so certain she was a sister’s dream. In those early days, I would have described her as a sister’s nightmare….the measuring stick against which I, the less likely to live up to the expectations, was measured. Somewhere, in the transition from childhood to adulthood, that perception changed.

Today, I along with my father, step mother, and several other family members, will share a birthday dinner gathering at Dad’s in celebration of that dream come true fifty years ago today. For indeed, my father’s first born child has lived up to and exceeded any parent’s dream, and her brothers and sister have truly been the beneficiaries.

Have a great day as I will, celebrating Jeannie’s 50th~

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I wonder -- jcarolek

“Dad, the teacher said we have to watch Jonathan Livingston Seagull on the TV tonight as an assignment. We have to write about it for English class.”

I was in ninth grade when my teacher made this assignment. I know her intention was good, and she never stopped to think about the unintended consequences of such an assignment. I was, as far as I know, a member of the only family in Bowie, MD in the 1970’s who did NOT have a TV. Dad did not believe in them and felt the country was raising a generation of children whose babysitter was the TV. We, on the other hand, were not so encumbered!

I knew Dad would be angry. I’d been through this