Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Please, don't eat the daisies -- jcarolek

OK, so I never saw the TV show or anything, but I remember that title and it has been going through my mind for the past couple of days.

It all began on Monday night. I had worked all day in Linthicum, MD and had made the drive to McLean, VA to attend an awards dinner at which my team was to be honored, along with six other teams, for our contributions to the company. It was a big deal and we had to have group photos and such. There were drinks and hors d' oeuvres served before we all went into the dining room and took our seats at our assigned tables. It seems this week has been full of such activities. On Monday night I was assigned to table 9.

The coordinator of this event had ensured

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My wedding date -- jcarolek

Well, yesterday I attended one of my best friends' son's wedding. He is also one of my son's best friends and my son was one of the groomsmen. The trip to Toms River, NJ was a long one on Friday, but it was worth it. The affair was a very nice one and it was great seeing some old friends I had not seen in a while.

At the reception, I located my place card and noted

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Last NIght -- jcarolek

Last night I dreamed I was in a house off a main road in some small town... I don't think it was in Gloucester, because nothing really looked familiar. But I was in this house alone, as I had been several times fact, I was coming to believe it was MY place to hang out. There was something very comfortable about the house.
It was a small house, with only four rooms, and each of those rooms was small. There was a small, soft bed in the bedroom and I liked to just lie down and take a nap there.... nobody knew I was there and it was so soft and comfortable. The rest of the house is not as clear in my waking mind, but that bedroom is very clear, and that was where I found myself enjoying a few stolen minutes of complete quiet, more and more often.

One day, when I was asleep in the bed, the owner came

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I would have been embarrassed -- jcarolek

I was getting things ready for a get together of family and friends I am having here on the weekend of August 9. I am not a huge planner, typically ending up with last minute decisions and such, but, since I am traveling so much right now, thought it prudent to at least "consider" what I need to get in order.

And as I strolled through Walmart last weekend, getting picnic supplies, I happened upon a volleyball set up....yeah, one of those cheesy ones, and I thought about picking it up.... some of the younger folks like to play....maybe even some of us older folks....and then I thought back to a party I attended many moons ago when I was one of the younger folks...

The woman with whom I first

Monday, July 21, 2008

A lovely white-haired fellow -- jcarolek

I drove to Long Island, NY with one of my coworkers yesterday. We rented a car and shared the driving....I took the easy, open roads during the daylight hours, and he took the gridlocked, noisy roads after dark....seemed fair to me! We arrived at our hotel at 10:15 PM, after a nine hour drive...I was ready to relax!

But, of COURSE, I got sidetracked into things of interest, and it was 5:00 AM before I lay my head to the pillow to get a couple of hours rest. I arose

Friday, July 18, 2008

Interesting day -- jcarolek

My "day" really began the night of the 16th. I had just returned from work to the hotel, being the only one who would remain on-site for the final day, when my BlackBerry vibrated wildly, demanding my attention. On the other end of the phone was one of my new hires, who had left the site less than 30 minutes earlier, had managed to get 7 miles down the road toward his Suffolk, VA home before his 1994 Mercedes began to overheat. I spent much of the evening working with him to get his car to the shop and him back into a hotel for the night.

Meanwhile, I was fighting a feeling in my gut about a friend who was embarking on a long weekend journey down memory lane. I just felt queezy about it, and could not shake

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Little bits of paper -- jcarolek

Tonight was another treat for me. I thought I was coming up to the Baltimore area, preparing for my work week here, and going to dinner with my Dad and step mom in their home nearby. When I awoke this morning and checked

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mountains and rivers -- jcarolek

Yesterday I took a drive to visit my daughter in her home near Charlottesville, VA. It was a beautiful drive there (and a dark drive home, but that's another story.) I was struck with the beauty of the countryside through which I traveled. Had I actually stopped to take pictures, I am certain they would have been far more spectacular, but I was not displeased with the ones I took from the moving car. From Gloucester to Richmond, the road is lined with trees, giving the ride almost a corridor effect. But as I neared Gordonsville, VA, and the shop where my daughter works, the roads opened to pastures with a distant view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. With the sky a brilliant blue, softened with fluffy white clouds, the view was simply beautiful. And it was hard to believe that most of the week here it had been raining and gray.

I had a lovely visit with my daughter and we shared a meal

Thursday, July 10, 2008

About squares, perfect and otherwise -- jcarolek

In just a little while I will no longer be perfect. Yes, I know it is very hard to believe, especially for those who have had the opportunity to actually "experience" me during this past year, but this was one of my very few years of perfection. My first year of perfection was when I was 1, the second when I was 4, the third when I was 9, the fourth when I was 16, the fifth when I was 25, the sixth when I was 36....and this most recent, the one that is fast coming to a close, the year I was 49.

Anyone looking at this pattern, a pattern, incidentally that is consistent for all of us, not just me, will notice that our years of perfection, at least in the sense of perfect "squares" grow farther and farther apart. My next

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Trafalgar Square -- jcarolek

With the recent water dumping on my laptops, courtesy of the Holiday Inn in San Diego, I have been working through attempting to back up "stuff" from my hard drives....lest things go further south with the laptops that are still limping along. Of course, many of the items being backed up are photographs, and as I back them up, I find myself looking at the albums again ... this naturally makes the process a lot longer, but it also makes it more enjoyable.

I came across some photos I took in 2004

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

In-between places -- jcarolek

I was looking at some of my pictures from my recent travels to CA. I have spent time in the cities, at the beach, in the mountains and in all of those "in between" know, the ones that are not your destination, but are the journey through which treasured memories are discovered. And I was looking at the pictures I take around my own stopping grounds, here in VA. Here too, I have the ocean, the cities and the mountains....and I live in one of those, "in between" places.

What struck me was the feeling of "home" I have experienced in my recent travels, and certainly, the greatest feeling of home comes from the people

Monday, July 7, 2008

Not just another crying baby -- jcarolek

He was the last to board the plane as we prepared to leave the Las Vegas airport where I had spent my first layover on my return trip from CA to VA. The minute I saw him, I knew he would be finding his way to the empty window seat beside the middle seat I occupied. He was an interesting looking young man with his little white hat, glasses, beard and long shorts. And he looked a bit agitated. But then again, plane travel these days can be quite stressful, so that was not jumping out at me as odd.

Sure enough, he was to be my travel companion for the 4 1/2 hour flight and I was thankful that the flight appeared to be devoid of crying/screaming babies (they seem to be drawn to me.) No sooner did this young man flop down in his seat than he began to cry. I saw him try to control it. I heard him try to be discreet, but he was in full breakdown mode and within a couple of minutes was sobbing. He turned his head toward the window and struggled for composure, but composure was not his for the asking at that moment.

I felt, somehow, like an intruder, a voyeur of sorts, and wanted with all my being to give him the privacy he so desperately needed in order to collect himself. As the flight attendant instructed us to pay mind to the safety briefings, I was aware that my young travel companion was falling deeper into his grief. But I said not a word, trying to focus my attention on the exit doors and the oxygen masks...and how to act in the event of a crisis.

As the instructional video wrapped up, I could not shake the notion that this young man had been seated next to me for a reason, and I had to engage him, try to connect so that he would know he was not alone, for alone was how I felt he must feel. Quite out of character for me, I spoke to him first. I simply asked if I could help.

The next two hours of our flight were spent with a young man, a little younger than my own children, sharing with me his overwhelming emotions of having spent six months abroad

Friday, July 4, 2008

Paris Hilton and Tsunamis -- jcarolek

San Diego was fun...and not so fun, depending on how one grades such things. I had a wonderful visit with my brother and his family and did a little sightseeing. My friend and I did not know where we were going much of the time and we ended up seeing things by accident that we would never have planned as part of our San Diego adventure. The Border Patrol dudes on the four-wheelers, wearing ski masks, flying along the steep dirt "roads" was a very interesting sight to me. Being informed that we were driving where only foot and horse traffic was permitted (not marked in any way, I might add) was curious, especially because, when asked how we COULD get to see the ocean, these same guys told us to drive to a place that was CLEARLY marked no-trespassing and just walk through the opening to the side of the locked gates....yeah, right! Whatever!

So, along the way, we saw a few interesting signs. One of these signs informed us that we were in a Tsunami zone,

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

San Diego is nice too -- jcarolek

Last night we went to eat, my brother and his family and my friend and I. And it was nice. We shared a meal in a Mexican restaurant and shared stories of long ago and recent experiences. And we laughed. My brother clarified that my loud and sometimes embarrassing cackle of a laugh is simply a family characteristic....we shared a cackle over that too.

At one point, a three member "band" swung by our table and asked if we had requests. We suggested a couple and our requests were met with disdain...guess we don't know the "right" requests. Nevertheless, they eventually started playing a song that they knew (not one we requested), and amazingly, as so often happens to me, I was thrown back in time.

I don't know the name of the song, but it was a song my father used to sing to us when we were kids -- the ONLY song