Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Horsing Around -- jcarolek

I have never lived with or had any experience with horses. I have had friends who owned horses all their lives and I have a sister who always dreamed of owning horses. But not me. I was content to admire them from the car as we drove by, or look at their pictures in the magazines or newspapers. But I was not drawn to them.

Tonight I was making my way through the photos my friends and I took whilst I was out in CA and came to those taken on April 16th. We were just driving through the countryside, seeing what we saw, stopping when we chose -- smelling the flowers, if you will. We happened down a dusty dirt road with some stunning trees, fences and other rustic appeal. We stopped and shot dozens of photos.

At one point, I was so engrossed in my own picture taking I accidentally crossed in front of my friend

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We Love You Dave -- jcarolek

Today was one of those days that really makes me sit back and think. We started the day as we ended last night, without power. Tornadoes took their toll on Suffolk, VA, south of us and apparently some micro bursts or something graced our neck of the woods at about the same time. Trees were ripped and shredded and lying on power lines, resulting in the not uncommon for this area, power outage.

Still, some 18 hours after the power went out, it was reestablished and I breathed a sigh of relief. I certainly do not mind, "roughing it" but I had some important obligations to fulfill today and being unable to shower (we are on well water and without electricity we are .... ummm ... without water), would have made me feel kind of grimy. So, I hopped to and got the shower, took care of my morning meeting for work, conducted an interview and headed on to the main focus of my morning.

On Friday, April 25, 2008 as many enjoyed a Friday evening of relaxation or excitement at the end of a work week, a young man, just 25 years old, decided for reasons unknown certainly to me, to take his life. He hung himself and left many wondering what they could have done to have affected a different outcome. He was, by all accounts,

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Running Away -- jcarolek

When I was a teenager, I swore I was going to run away from home. I didn't want to be under the same roof as my parents and brothers and sister. I wanted to be free to do as I pleased without anyone else's opinion or rules. Of course, most of the time I was too busy doing chores, going to school, participating in extra-curricular activities and such to have time to run away, but I had it on my "to-do" list. I brought it out for consideration every now and then and almost ALWAYS when in a fit of anger at my mother, who seemed bent on making my life unbearable. But time ticked on and I did not run away.

Finally, one day in, I believe 10th grade, the stars aligned and my run-away plan was enacted. I grabbed my backpack, shoved some clothes and my tooth brush in it, grabbed my guitar and headed off. I was DOING it! Now, anyone who has contemplated running away will know that USUALLY a person does a little better if they have a destination to which they are running, as opposed to simply running away from their current location. Savvy teenagers who really want to get away, have a plan that includes at least an idea of a destination. I had no such plan. I realized rather quickly as I started down the road, that I was going to have to come up with a plan of where to go.

I could not go back home to make this plan, because I had already made my start, so, I decided to go up to my favorite "thinking place." The Bowie Mansion "hill"

Friday, April 25, 2008

Good morning -- jcarolek

This morning I awoke easily, refreshed, as usual from my few hours of dedicated sleep. And I thought about a time when I was NOT so refreshed and did NOT awaken so easily. Certainly, when I was a teenager, I received more creative threats from Mom than I care to repeat, on the subject of getting up in the morning.... (of course, there were also the creative threats about my messy room, or should I say, my messy "side of the room" since my sister was a meticulously neat roommate, but I will save that for another post.)

My brothers always had their alarms set and they would begin blaring at ungodly hours, because THEY could and did sleep through that din.... not I. I was awakened

Monday, April 21, 2008

Even squirrels -- jcarolek

Nothing was out of scope for my camera on my recent California excursion. Not even the squirrels who inhabit the park were too common to be overlooked. As I make my way through more than 3000 digital images captured by me and my friends during the past two weeks I find myself laughing at some of the less suspecting subjects of our focus.

One of the little fellows that caught my interest was a furry little squirrel who seemed completely oblivious to me. I snapped at least a dozen shots of him as he went about his everyday business, leaving the observation of the inspirational views of Yosemite to me. And little did he know that his very existence was part of that inspiration for me. The grand

How things have changed -- jcarolek

This afternoon, having spent more than nine hours glued to my office chair, having returned to the rigors of everyday life here, I decided I needed to get outside and do something constructive. The fact that it had been raining here for more than 24 hours, and flash flood warnings peppered the area was no deterrent to me. I wanted "out" and I offered myself a perfect project outside. Weeding my front "garden." OK, I have to be honest. My front garden is REALLY just a swale cut into the land to direct the flow of water AWAY from the house's foundation, but I plant flowers and ornamental

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Safe and Sound and Inspired -- jcarolek

It was a perfect trip -- like a dream in many ways and so very real at the same time.  As I resume my "everyday" life, I am left with the memories, the beauty, the vastness of it all and the realization of a little bit more of "me" that I found in her majesty.

I'm off to my normal Sunday activities, but will be back later with more from a time which, I am certain, has had a profound effect on my perception of "my" world.

Photos hardly do it justice, but they do trigger the memories and with the memories, the reliving of those feelings.


We Played -- jcarolek

My trip to California was a business trip. I am used to such trips. Typically, I spend very little, if any, time at all seeing the area where work takes me, opting to focus on the "matters at hand" and assuring myself that I will take time to enjoy the "places" later in life, when I am not under pressure of the "corporate world." I do usually try to have at least one "fun" evening with someone I know from the area, or with one of the other attendees.

This business trip though, I had already decided was going to be the first of my "new" approach to business travel. I was going to see what there was in the world outside of the confines of my hotel. And a friend attending the same conference provided the catalyst for this new approach.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

On a "jet plane" -- jcarolek

I finished packing for my trip to CA last night. I will depart from here in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow. As has been the case recently, this morning I awoke with a song on my mind and tongue, and I had to laugh...No mystery on this one! The song? Leaving on a Jet Plane (Peter , Paul and Mary version).

What's funny about this to me is that it WAS one of my favorite songs WAY back in about 1970 while I was in school at Charlton Park Convent in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire,

Saturday, April 5, 2008

It was a beautiful Wedding -- jcarolek

The "crowd" gathered for the moment of truth...the committing to each other of their love, their dreams and their lives. The crowd was small, to be sure, consisting of the bride and groom themselves, mother of the bride (me), father of the bride, grandparents of the bride, two friends of the the bride/family, and the Justice of the Peace. The ceremony was to be held at the couple's cottage they rent in Louisa, VA, a beautifully rural town near Charlottesville.

Jen had selected her "spot" as a rock out in the field behind their cottage.....we "walked" the several football field lengths through the soft, bramble covered terrain, and I only lost my shoes about eight times!

Yesterday we remembered and laughed (again) -- jcarolek

Yesterday was the first time I had spent any real amount of time with my ex-husband in ten years. Similarly, it was the first time in those same ten years that my dad and step mom had spent any time with him. And, of course, over those many years, certain things are forgotten....the way he says his words...the urgency with which he approaches everything, and the impatience he has with others.... mostly, I like to remember the better qualities. And yesterday was Jen's day and we happily attended her simple, but lovely wedding.

As we headed out the door to make the journey through the pasture to the rock upon which the wedding ceremony was to be held, James, (my ex) told Jen she should ditch the umbrella, because it wasn't raining. "No," we all agreed. That is not an umbrella, it's a parasol! And it will look great with her wedding "gown."

"Oh," he said, almost to himself, "a parasol....."

Friday, April 4, 2008

I finished staining the deck, at least -- jcarolek

I finished staining the deck that afternoon, frustrated that the labor pains I had been enduring for three solid days, had come to a screeching halt, seemingly without producing that long anticipated birth, the birth of my second child. I resigned myself to the fact that I was not in control of this situation, but that the child within would dictate arrival time, and I might as well just get on with business….at least I’d be able to sleep that night.

And sleep I did…for three and a half glorious, lovely hours….before I was bolted out of slumber with back searing pain…they were back and with a vengeance!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Shendandoah in my top desk drawer -- jcarolek

Yesterday afternoon I was looking for some things. I had lost track of a DVD recorded of a concert we gave a couple of years ago....I wanted to find it, to listen/watch it. So, I was on a hunt. In my top desk drawer in my office, I found a LOT of interesting items. There were the usual -- paper clips, pens, pencils, free AOL discs, stick-it memo pads, a single shoelace......

And no DVD.

Just as I was about to move on to my NEXT hunting ground, I spied something lying quietly at the very back corner

My favorite April Fool's trick -- jcarolek

The best April Fool's joke I ever saw was about 15 years ago. My then-hubby and I were watching the 10PM news on April Fool's Day and they were interviewing people about the best jokes played on them or that they had played on others. Hubby thought one was so funny, he just HAD to use it.

So right then and there, he hopped up out of his recliner (very few things were worthy of this level of energy exertion) and headed to the kitchen. There, he took a rubber band and proceeded to the sink. There, he pulled the vegetable sprayer up and placed the rubber band around the handle,