Sunday, July 29, 2007

Why I Do not Raise Chickens -- jcarolek

When I was 15 I acquired a few newly hatched baby chicks from my Biology teacher. It was the end of the school year and the studies which involved our observing the various stages of egg-to-birth of the chicken had come to an end. However, the wee little chicks had just arrived on the scene.

My neighbor and good friend Billy also acquired some of the chicks, though his also included a couple of ducklings and goslings. Our teacher instructed us in the make-shift incubators we should build and sent us on our merry way.

Once home, we built the cardboard and tinfoil structures,

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Back in the Day -- jcarolek

A long ride in the car when I was a kid was truly one of my favorite experiences. In the 1960’s Dad drove a red and white, 1958 Chevy Station Wagon. It had the front bench seat which was occupied by Dad in the driver’s seat and Mom in the passenger’s seat. The six kids “shared” the back seat and the cargo space behind the back seat.

Now I use the term, “shared” with a bit of poetic license, for sharing implies some sort of democracy and this was certainly NOT the case in this particular instance. Age represented rank and we pulled rank with pleasure. Jeannie, being the eldest, the tallest, and the right hand to the parents (often confused with "god"), always chose first and her’s was the window

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's ALL about ME -- jcarolek

I stayed home from school sick that day, in 1968. My younger brothers and older sister headed for school. That year, our first in Cheltenham, England, my sister, next to youngest brother and I went to one school and my two oldest brothers went to another. We all walked together, as the older boys’ school was on the way to our school.

When we reached their school (Dean Close) we waited and watched as they crossed the busy road. And then we carried on to our school (NewCourt). We ranged in age from 11 to 6, my sister Jeannie being the eldest.

So on this day, at home in bed with some ailment,

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Balancing Act -- jcarolek

When I was a young mother, living with my then-hubby and son in Tallahassee, FL, my youngest brother began his college career at FSU. He had attended high school in Italy, so, back in the US, he was anxious to “fit in” and have some good extra-curricular fun.

A few of my brothers and I had been active in community theatre and drama clubs during our Jr. High and High School years, and Ray had been one of the four of us who had enjoyed this pastime. So, since FSU had a dynamite theatre department, he decided he would audition for some roles. At the time, they held auditions for all the productions at the beginning of the semester and Ray landed a few bit roles. He decided these would not keep him sufficiently busy, so he decided to take one of the unique FSU offerings. The FSU Flying High Circus.

I laughed when I heard about this. My brother had never struck me as a gymnast or any particularly sports-inclined kind of kid, but what the heck. As a supporting sister, I went, when invited, to see “Home Show” under the big tent that year.

The first thing I had to do was try to control my laughter when, after watching the very cute, very fit female members of the circus enter, I saw the guys enter. All had a similar build. Muscular, very fit, and while the girls were wearing pretty little flashy costumes, the guys were wearing sequined embellished stretchy pants…and no tops…Now, this was not particularly funny until I saw Ray, tall and skinny, with a very distinct “farmer’s sunburn” he had acquired as they set up the tent. His physique was completely different from the others, and, well, to me, he just looked funny.

Nevertheless, cheer we did, and in a few short minutes I began to be amazed at what my brother could do. He and three other guys did an incredible gymnastic balancing act. He and his female partner performed a mind boggling routine on the double trapeze, a routine the circus folks referred to as “sex in the air.” He and three other guys performed a routine wherein they used a female performer as a jump rope, and threw her through the air to each other in some curious game of keep away. He juggled and he performed a slack wire routine. All of these were serious crowd pleasers and he executed them flawlessly.

Over the next few years I watched him and his partner bring back stunts from the FSU Flying High Circus days of the 50’s which included roller skating and Ray swinging his partner around by the ankles, bringing her face closer and closer to the ground, until she literally was able to light a match on the floor….a match she held between her teeth. And to think Ray had never even roller skated before he got the idea to bring back this particular act!

The act that remains in my brain all these many years later, though, is the one he performed on that slack wire. He walked out on the wire (about 6-8 feet off the ground), carrying a ladder and some clubs. He placed the ladder at about a 45 degree angle on the slack wire. He then proceeded to climb up to about the third rung of a four rung ladder. If you can imagine, he is now actually balancing on the rung of a ladder which has him about 45 degrees away from the wire itself. He then began to juggle….I saw him do this routine juggling tennis rackets, regular clubs, and fire clubs.

I remember thinking then, how on earth could anyone do this. And especially my brother…never known as Mr. Coordination! Nevertheless, he did it and he did it well!

He gained much from his experience in the FSU Flying High Circus. He was selected to get paid as a performer/instructor at Calloway Gardens, GA every summer while he was at FSU. He was featured in Southern Living Magazine,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Banana Pudding for Breakfast -- jcarolek

She slapped the pages down one by one, with the vigor of someone who was angry with another. She “flipped” through the magazine and she carried on a congenial conversation on her cell phone, as she sat in the chair beside me as I waited in the dentist’s office this morning. I tried to concentrate on my SUDOKU puzzle and not rip the poor magazine from her abusive hands. I tried to focus, counting 1 to 9 (I was doing SUDOKU, you know) to calm my frustration with her

Monday, July 2, 2007

From this angle -- jcarolek

As a youngster I was shorter and chubbier than my sister who was 14 months my senior. She was “pretty and smart” and I was, well, I was Judy. I was a tomboy and loved to play in the uneven bars in the school playground. I thoroughly enjoyed swinging my legs up over the bar and hanging upside down. I was not afraid of even the highest of the three bars