20 Apr 2017, 4:31am
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“…Eyeballs…” Book III: 34. The Honeymoon, Lake Pocotopaug

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

As Grace grows up, some of her stories are happy, some trying, some enlightening, and a few themes are sad, but, they’re all the warp and woof of what goes into the tapestry of life we call Family. The daily living skills and techniques demonstrated by the fictional characters in these stories are valid, tried and true.

 

Book III:  Wife and Mother

#33. The Wedding

#34. The Honeymoon: Lake Pocotopaug

“Oh, no,” Grace groaned, as she heard voices from the docks near the small cottage on Lake Pocotopaug where they were going to start their honeymoon. “I thought all of Mother’s cousins and friends would be gone by the time we got here.”

The lake friends warmly welcomed Ken and Grace.

“We didn’t know you’d be coming,” Mal said.

“Why didn’t your Mother tell us?” Lila asked

Eventually, it came out that Ken and Grace were married.

“Really,” Percy said. “When did you kids tie the knot?”

“Well, actually,” Ken stalled.

“We were married this afternoon,” Grace finished for him.

They had to endure several minutes of teasing about this being their secret honeymoon spot. Within 20-minutes, the other families had cleared out and the other four cottages were empty.

“Alone, at last,” Ken said wolfishly, wrapping his arms around Grace in a bear hug and  nibbling her neck.

The first three days at the Lake were perfect for lounging on the dock, leisure rows around the lake, cooking out and touring the small shops in town.

“Oh, this feels weird,” Grace said, standing in the middle of the Comstock Bridge.

“The Salmon State forest,” Ken began to read from the brochure in his most docent-like voice.”… features Comstock’s Bridge, the only remaining covered bridge in eastern Connecticut, which spans the Salmon River near our cottage in East Hampton.”

In the cool, morning mist, the ducks on their dock would wake them up, demanding to be fed with their loud quacks, squabbling, and splashes. The ducks weren’t intimidated when Grace and Ken walked onto the dock in their bare feet and matching blue striped jammies, instead, the boldest of the quackers came up to them looking for pieces of bread.

“This reminds me of when I was a little girl and we sat near the family camp’s duck pond,” Grace said, holding her palm out with the bread for the ducks. “The counselors would tell us nature stories that made us laugh and sometimes, cry.”

At dusk, each resident put luminaries on the end of their dock.

“The small, brown paper bags are oiled,” Ken explained As they sat on their own dock. ”Then, they are weighted down with sand in the bottom of the bag. A small candle is placed in the sand and lit.

“The surface of the calm lake mirrors the lights, appearing to deepen the depth of the water, the depth of romance, and the depth of my love for you,” Ken softly said, kissing her neck.

Early on their fourth day at the cottage, still snuggled in bed with Ken, Grace said, “Listen to that thunder rumble. It reminds me of the first morning I main-streamed into the public high school.”

“Yes, I remember seeing you for the first time in the lunch line,” Ken smiled.

“Oh don’t remind me of that, thank you very much!” Grace laughed. “Main-streaming turned out to be the right move after all.”

The thunder that shook the little cottage moved on, but, the low-slung clouds persisted and it rained off and on.

“Well, we planned on going to Boston today, anyway,” Ken said. “What about starting the second phase of our honeymoon sooner rather than later?”

“Boston Park Plaza, here we come,” Grace said giving Ken a bear hug.

 

 

 

13 Apr 2017, 5:12am
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“…Eyeballs…” Book III: 33. The Wedding

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

As Grace grows up, some of her stories are happy, some trying, some enlightening, and a few themes are sad, but, they’re all the warp and woof of what goes into the tapestry of life we call Family. The daily living skills demonstrated by the fictional characters in these stories are valid, tried, and true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blind teacher Kate Chamberlin photographed by Kevin Rivoli for “Blind Ambition” written by Michele Locastro Rivoli, Democrat and Chronicle Newspaper, December 30, 1998.

 

 

kathryngc1@verizon.net

www.katechamberlin.com

“Dream it. Write it. Read it.

 

Copyright © July 20, 2016, January, 2017 All Rights Reserved

by Kate Chamberlin

Walworth, NY 14568

 

 
Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

Book III: Wife and Mother

 

#33. The Wedding

Grace dried the dishes her Mother washed. An old ritual that both comforted and got the job done. Grace’s mind wandered down to her parent’s den, where Ken sat with her father.

“Well, Sir,” Ken started, cleared his throat, and began again. “I’ve loved Grace for a long time and, I know, she loves me. We’d like your Blessing for us to get married.”

Grace’s Father continued to watch Lawrence Welk on TV, as if he hadn’t heard Ken.

Eventually, he said, “Yes, Son,” I know my daughter has strong feelings for you. But, as to marrying you? That’s her decision.” He turned to smile at Ken. I’ll go upstairs and send her down here. You ask her.”

Grace felt her Father take the dish towel from her.

“Your young man has something to say to you,” he said with a smile in his voice. ”I’ll finish up here.”

Grace knew what was coming, but, it surprised her when Ken knelt on one knee in front of her. He took her hand and said, “Will you marry me.”

Grace put her hands on each side of his face and brought his lips to her lips. When the kiss ended, she said, “Yes.”

They walked hand-in-hand upstairs to show her parents the lovely solitaire diamond in a Tiffany setting mounted on an ornate white-gold band. Grace could feel the tears of happiness on her Mother’s cheeks when they hugged.

Four years had passed to get them to this day. During college, Ken and Grace, Joe and Edie kept in close contact through social media and get-togethers as often as their schedules allowed.

Ken graduated from the Eastman School of Music and stayed on to become a Professor, joined the local orchestra of professional musicians, and helped the local high school with their musicals.

Grace earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts to become a high school Natural Sciences teacher, volunteer “Pink Lady” in their local hospital, and fund raiser for her guide dog’s training center.

Edie realized her dream of marrying Joe and owning and operating a shop of fine arts and crafts near where she and Joe lived. She accepted quality consignments and made many of the items she sold.

Joe completed his degree in Forestry Management, landing a job with a national energy company. He surveyed areas where new lines would be installed, insured compliance with environmental regulations, and sometimes flew a small helicopter to inspect the lines.

The August day of Grace’s and Ken’s wedding dawned hot and humid.

“Mother,” Grace said slipping on her wedding gown. “I’m so glad we made Edie’s and my dress out of cool crepe. The scoop neckline and long, lace flutter sleeves won’t be too hot.”

“The lace mantilla with the edge Grandma Kate tatted looks wonderful,” her Mother said. “And Edie’s salmon colored bride’s maid dress fits her to a T.”

“Thank you for spending so much time making our dresses,” Edie said. “The color of these gladiolas are a perfect match.”

When Grace stood at the back of the little church between her Father and Crackers, he whispered, “Joe escorted Mother to her pew and went to stand with Sandy and Ken at the steps to the altar. Edie had just arrived and turned to smile at you. Sandy is looking back at you. I hope he behaves himself.”

Ken’s best man, Sandy, whispered to him, “Wow. Who’d a thought my sis and that mop on four legs could clean up so nicely!”

Ken turned to see that Grace was, indeed, a radiant bride with a well-groomed Golden by her side. Crackers’ harness had a white, silk rose corsage on it.

In the middle of the service, Ken said quietly into Grace’s ear, “A fly landed on Fr. Bollinger’s nose and he didn’t budge. I feel like reaching up to swat it!”

Grace almost laughed, imagining Fr. Bollinger’s surprise if Ken did swat the fly.

It seemed to take forever, but, eventually, Fr. Bollenger said, “You are now husband and wife. Let no man put asunder what God has joined.”

Ken and Grace went from pew to pew, thanking everyone for coming and inviting them to come to the cake and champagne reception.

 

12 Apr 2017, 4:48pm
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“…Eyeballs…” Book II” 32. Senior Class Trip

 

#32. Senior Class Trip

One day the next week after school, they were again in their favorite booth at Family Ties Restaurant. The waitress brought them their sodas and stuffed potato skins.

“Our Class Advisor said we’d have free time between our group tour of the Smithsonian Institute’s Space Museum and dinner at the Watergate Hotel before the play “Hair Spray” at the Kennedy Center to visit whatever we’d choose,” Edie said. “Any suggestions?”

“I’d like to see the Yoshino cherry trees that Japan gave the United States,” said Joe, the aspiring Forrester. “They’re dying out, but, they used cuttings from the original trees to start saplings.”

“I’ve read that the organ in the cathedral is really awesome,” said Ken, the musician. “I doubt they’d let me play it, but maybe we’ll hit a concert or something.”

“I wouldn’t mind visiting the National Cathedral,” Grace said. “Helen Keller’s sarcophagus is there.”

“I wonder if I could get my hands on a gargoyle?” said Edie, the aspiring artist. “I guess it’s the cathedral., Maybe, if we take a taxi, we could drive passed the cherry trees on our way to the Kennedy Center.”

The day hadn’t even dawned yet when the four friends with their classmates and advisors boarded the Greyhound Bus waiting for them in the school parking lot. Most of the students went right back to sleep and awoke hours later to see the tall buildings of our nations’ capitol, Washington, D.C.

After the group tour of the Smithsonian Institute’s Space Museum, the four teens and Crackers stood at the curb and tried to hail a taxi. No one would stop for them.

“Aren’t you just supposed to raise your arm?” Joe asked

“Well, that’s what I thought,” Ken said.

“Let a lady try,” Edie said with a twinkle in her eye. A taxi stopped right away.

The driver took one look at Crackers and repeatedly said in broken English, “No dog! No dog!” He drove off, leaving the astonished teens wondering what that was all about.

A Smithsonian’s Security guard, who had witnessed the fiasco, jotted down the taxi’s license plate and told them that what the taxi driver had done was illegal.

The guard watched them hail another taxi. The driver saw the guard watching and begrudgingly let Ken in the front seat so the other three could sit in the back with Crackers on the floor.

The driver dropped them off at Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues; right in front of The Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Joe paid the fare that was shown on the meter, but, as he walked away, the taxi driver yelled at him, “Don’t you country bumpkins know you’re supposed to gimme a big tip?”  Joe hurried his step toward the group.

They stood at the back of the large tour group. The tour guide was excellent. Her voice projected to everyone in precise diction and grammar as she described each feature of the large organ that loomed in front of them.

“Do you want to feel it?” an unfamiliar man’s voice whispered into Grace’s right ear.

Adrenalin, like hot lava, crashed around in Grace’s body. She reached for Cracker’s harness preparing to bolt to the left to get away from the creep.

“Grace,” Edie’s familiar voice said, “let’s go with this docent, instead of staying with the big group.”

Grace relaxed with relief and almost laughed out loud at her own foolishness. The new docent meant the pipe organ.

“Won’t I get into trouble, if I start touching things in a museum like this?”  Grace asked, picking up Cracker’s harness again.

“No, Miss,” the docent said. “You and your guide dog are special guests and we have many things for you to experience by touching. Please, come this way to the elevator.”

As Grace stood in a display and eagerly explored the nooks and crannies of the sandstone models used to make the gargoyles and grotesques that adorn the top of the massive seven story stone cathedral, the docent passed around pieces of the statues to Edie, Joe, and Ken.

“Can you find the drain pipe that distinguishes the gargoyle from the grotesque?” Edie asked Grace, wishing she could get in the display, too.

In another part of the cathedral, Grace looped Crackers’ long leash over her arm as she stood on a chair to stretch up to feel the intricately carved wooden panels behind an altar.

“The wood is so beautifully grained,” Joe said, wishing he could run his hands over the panels, too.

The docent told Grace to go passed the fencing to stroke the Canterbury Pulpit from which so many famous speeches and sermons had been given.

When Grace got down on all fours to feel a tapestry runner, Crackers put her forelegs on the floor with her but in the air, furiously wagging her tail and licked Grace’s face. Crackers thought it was finally time to play!

They all had a good laugh at that.

“Oh, Crackers,” Grace said. “You silly puppy. It’s hard to be good for so long, isn’t it?”

She gave Crackers a hug. Then, they all rode the elevator down into the lower catacombs.

Grace gingerly traced the edge of Helen Keller’s sarcophagus.

“Look,” Grace said, “this braille plaque commemorates her life and work.”

“Being so far down in the bowels of this place,” Joe said, “makes me nervous.”

Crackers was nervous, too. She was subdued and tried to get Grace to go toward every exit she found.

The docent took them up to the loft where the organist would sit with a small choir.

“This is awesome,” Ken said. “The ranks of keyboards are fantastic. There are so many pipes.”

“There’s just enough time to get down to the main floor for a performance by a Boys’ Choir from North Carolina. Shall we go?”

Of course, Ken wanted to stay, but came along with the others.

During one of the organ’s crescendos Edie said in a loud whisper, “I sure hope those big stones in the arches don’t vibrate loose or any of the flying buttresses take off.”

Out in front of the cathedral, it took them four tries to get a taxi to take them to the Jefferson  Memorial.

“Oh, Grace,” Edie said as they stood near the Jefferson Memorial. “The cherry trees are in full bloom. Can you smell them?”

“Yes,” Grace said. “Are they planted in a design?”

“The cherry trees encircle the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial,” Ken said to described the scene for Grace. “They also line the grounds of the Washington Monument.”

“They were given to us by Japan as a token of friendship in 1912,” Joe said. “Other trees have been added over the years to make a truly splendid sight.”

Their taxi dropped them off in front of the Watergate Hotel.

“Perfect timing,” Ken said. “Our advisor is just starting to count who’s here and who’s not.”

After the play at the Kennedy Center, on the bus, Ken whispered to Grace, “I think you have to be blind to get the special tour you had,” Ken said, as he laced his fingers with hers. “You and Crackers make a very special team.”

Crackers nudged Ken’s knee, as if to say, Fella, you’re a part of this team, too. Then, she curled up at their feet and slept until the bus was once again in the school’s parking lot.

6 Apr 2017, 9:25am
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“…Eyeballs…” Book II: 31. A Walk Through History

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

As Grace grows up, some of her stories are happy, some trying, some enlightening, and a few themes are sad, but, they’re all the warp and woof of what goes into the tapestry of life we call Family. The daily living skills and techniques demonstrated by the fictional characters in these stories are valid, tried and true.

 

Book II:  The Teenagers

#10. Bad News

#11.  Grace’s Day One

#12 Knight With Shining Flatware

#13. The Locker Fiasco

#14. Lost In Thought

#15. The Musician

#16. Day Two And Beyond

#17. First Date

#18. The Zipper Creep

#19. Making Up

#20. Mall Cruising

#21. And More Questions

#22. Homecoming Dance

#23. Loyalties

#24. Sea Dragons

#25. Guide Dog Chronicles: Puppy Raisers

#26. Guide Dog Chronicles: The Training Center

#27. Guide Dog Chronicles: Grocery Shopping

  1. Guide Dog Chronicles: Hit By A Car

            #29. Guide Dog Chronicles: Smells like A Church

#30. Ken’s No Strings Attached

#31. A Walk through History

One afternoon, as Ken, Grace, Edie, and Joe were seated in the back booth at Family Ties Restaurant sipping sodas and munching on fries, Grace asked them if they’d ever been to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.

“No,”  Edie said. “I know it is very historic, but I’ve never been there. Why?”

“My Dad has a business trip to the area and offered to drop us off at The Williamsburg Lodge,” Grace said. “We can walk to everything from there.”

“Cool,” Joe said, as he RAISED his eyebrows and winked at Edie. “I’ve heard there are lots of taverns and old inns we could explore.”

“There used to be harpsichords imported from Europe back then,” Ken added. “I wonder if they still have one stashed away in any of those big old houses.”

Spring break finally arrived and the teens were on the wide porch of the Williamsburg Lodge, looking over the down-loaded map of the Historic Village.

“Breakfast should be first on our list,” Edie, the ever practical one said.

“It looks like Chownings Tavern is near here,” Ken said.

“Do they say what their specialty is?” Grace asked, as Crackers laid quietly at her feet.

“Bubble and Squeek, and Welsh rarbit, and a dessert,” Joe read. “They’re big on Root Beer here. Great for a hardy breakfast.”

“We’re here to try new things, so, I’m for the Bubble and Squeek thing,” Grace laughed.

After their breakfast of eggs and potatoes for Grace and Ken; the cheese sauce over toast points for Edie and Joe, they again poured over the village map.

“The Prentis Store is on Colonial and Duke of Glouster Streets, near the Prentis House on Botetourt and Duke of Glouster Streets,” Ken noticed.

“Oh, look. Right across the street from that,” Edie exclaimed, “is the silver smith James Craig.”

“I’ve heard of him,” Joe said. “Maybe, we’ll see some skilled artisans making watches or jewelry.”

“It says in the brochure that Golden Ball in London is the trademark used by jewelers and goldsmiths,” Ken read. “It says James Craig was a watch-maker and made a pair of earrings for George Washington’s daughter.”

“Grace,” Edie said. “Let’s get matching earrings as a souvenir of our trip.”

“Edie, are your ears pierced, too?” Grace asked.

“Yes,”  Edie said.

Grace told Crackers “Forward.” And they strolled down the wooden side-walk toward the silver smith’s shop. The sidewalk felt like corduroy beneath Grace’s feet. Crackers was busy looking right and left for anything that might harm Grace, as well as, going forward the way Grace had told her. When they crossed the unpaved street, Crackers was careful to guide Grace around the horse droppings.

At first, the teens were perplexed as they stood in front of the two doors  to the silver smith’s building. They soon figured out that the door on the west went into the workshop and entered. Later, the girls went in the east door to purchase sparkly, silver earrings.

“I didn’t realize it would take you two so long to choose earrings,” Joe said, RAISING his eyebrows at Edie. “I’m starving. What are we near?” Edie rolled her eyes  at him and grinned.

“Looks like the King’s Arms Tavern might be near enough to reach before you faint,” Ken, the keeper of the map, teased.

Each time they passed a door, Crackers indicated it with a little nod of her head in its direction. When they came to a door that smelled like food, Grace said, “M-m-m, this smells like a restaurant. Is it the one we want?”

Once seated with Crackers safely tucked underneath the table, the “wench” brought their menus. She told them that the over-sized napkins were to be tucked into their shirt collar to protect their clothes.

“I feel really silly with this tucked into my shirt,” Grace said.

“Well, join the club,” Ken said. “We all look silly.”

The Southern fare of Peanut soup, pecan pie, Veal chops, Cavalier’s Lamb, Ginger ale or cider made it hard to choose.

As the wench served them, she chatted amiably about the history of the tavern, “It was owned by Mrs. Vobe, during a time when it was unusual for women to own property. She changed the name to Eagle Tavern   to make it more her own and began to serve real Southern food.”

After lunch, they walked back toward the Guard House to the octagonal brick magazine.

“Look at those Muskets, munitions, swords, pikes, canteens and cooking utensils,” Joe nearly hollered. “They are awesome.”

“It feels cool in here and smells old,” Grace said. “Are there any things I can feel or hold?”

The docent handed them wrought iron, wooden, and lead items used in the colonial days for fighting and daily living. They were so engrossed in exploring the relics, that they nearly missed their date at the Court House.

Crackers was more than happy to walk briskly along the board walk toward the Court House.

Ken and Joe were scheduled to be seated in the Jury Panel. Edie and Grace sat on a long, uncomfortable wooden bench, as the jury participated in the trial that actually took place in the Court Room centuries ago. Crackers was comfortable resting under the bench Grace sat on, even though, the floor was dusty, unfinished wood.

“Edie,” Grace whispered, “I can feel there are no rugs on the floor, but, aren’t there any drapes on the windows? It sounds so empty.”

“It’s like a big wooden box with these benches, a few desks and chairs up front,” Edie said.

Although  Ken and Joe had only been on the jury during the long trial, not  convicted or even charged, Grace, Edie, Joe, and Ken took each other’s pictures standing in the “Stocks” on the grass next to the Court House. They thought it would make a great FaceBook post.

“Well, I see we’ve saved the best for last,” Ken said, pointing to the map. “Our next stop is the Bruton Parish Church.”

“Something tells me that this is where we’re going to find the harpsichord,” Grace laughed.

“Close,” Ken said, taking her hand. “Peter Pelham was the organist in that church and gave harpsichord lessons to the well-bred young ladies of the village.”

As Edie and Joe described the things Crackers led Grace past, Ken was deep in conversation with one of the other docents.

“We have one more stop to make,” Ken said with a big grin. “The piano forte and harpsichord are in the Governor’s Palace. The docent is going to call ahead to let them know we’re coming.”

Once in the Governor’s Palace, the docent led them right to the piano forte and asked, “So, who is the musician?”

All three friends pointed to Ken, who tried to hide his excitement.

“We have a few minutes before a large tour group comes in. Is there a tune you’d like me to play?” the docent asked.

“May I play it?”  Ken asked, twisting and untwisting his fingers. Permission was given and Ken played a beautiful Keyboard Sonata by Haydn.

Grace held her right hand out and told Crackers, “hup-up.”  Crackers moved ahead so Grace’s hand touched Ken’s shoulder.

“You play so beautifully,” she said. “The piano forte sounds a lot like our pianos today.”

“Don’t you wish you could play like that?” Edie whispered to Joe, but Joe was lost in the strains of the sonata.

Moving into a smaller room, the docent said, “We don’t usually let anyone play this 18th Century harpsichord, but you were so eager and able to play the piano forte, I suppose there will be no holding you back. Be my guest.”

Hesitantly, Ken sat down on the ancient stool in front of the small instrument that he’d wanted to play for a long time.

“The harpsichord,” the docent said as Ken began to play a Prelude by J. S. Bach. “is a string instrument similar to the piano forte, but the strings are plucked by little hooks, rather than struck by leather covered hammers.”

Ken lost himself in the thrill of performing on such an old and time-honored instrument. He came out of his heavenly reverie when Grace softly said, “Hello-o-o. Earth to Ken. We need to go. The tour group is almost on us.”

They thanked the docent for the very special treat he’d given them and walked toward Shields Tavern for dinner.

Grace tucked Crackers under the table and ordered a green salad, remembering how one of the Heritage Lettuce Plants leaf she sampled at the Village Nursery tasted like vinegar, another like mint, still another like lemon and so many others, that the salad would not need any dressing.

“Oh, how weird,” Joe said when Grace’s salad arrived.

“Why?”  Grace asked. “What’s so weird about different greens having different shapes and flavors?”

“First, put your hands down and don’t touch it,” Ken said, knowing Grace always explored everything with her hands. He began to describe what they could see and she could not. “There are a variety of leafy greens about six-inches tall sticking straight up out of a four-inch long toasted bread troth.”

“It looks like someone stuck green leaves and stuff into a planter,” Joe said, trying to be helpful.

“The dressing is squiggled in a zigzag pattern like a border on the plate with grape tomatoes plopped onto the dressing,“ Ken continued.

“I bet they did that so they wouldn’t roll off,” Edie blurted out.

“How am I supposed to eat this?”  Grace moaned.

“Knock it over!” Edie, Joe, and Ken said in unison. ”And use a fork,” they added. All four of them dissolved into laughter.

When Crackers heard feet shuffle and chairs scrape on the bare wooden floor, she got up and shook. She did a good job of keeping Grace on the path back to the Williamsburg Lodge. Just as they entered the parking lot, Grace’s Dad drove in.

In no time, Crackers was curled up at Grace’s feet fast asleep, making little puppy woofs and twitching her paws. She wasn’t the only one who was dog tired. Within minutes of relaxing in the car, all but Grace’s Dad were asleep, dreaming of more adventures to come.

(Music Source: Keyboard Sonata by Haydn  on the piano forte:

www.youtube …Joseph Haydn Piano Sonatas, Fortepiano after Schantz 1790 1. Son No.21 in D minor Hob XVI/2a: Moderato 0:00 2. Larghetto 3.

And Prelude by J. S. Bach on The harpsichord:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=iT29XpFEFH4

31 Mar 2017, 7:13am
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“…Eyeballs…” Book II: 30. Ken’s No Strings Attached

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

As Grace grows up, some of her stories are happy, some trying, some enlightening, and a few themes are sad, but, they’re all the warp and woof of what goes into the tapestry of life we call Family. The daily living skills and techniques demonstrated by the fictional characters in these stories are valid, tried and true.

 

Book II:  The Teenagers

#10. Bad News

#11.  Grace’s Day One

#12 Knight With Shining Flatware

#13. The Locker Fiasco

#14. Lost In Thought

#15. The Musician

#16. Day Two And Beyond

#17. First Date

#18. The Zipper Creep

#19. Making Up

#20. Mall Cruising

#21. And More Questions

#22. Homecoming Dance

#23. Loyalties

#24. Sea Dragons

#25. Guide Dog Chronicles: Puppy Raisers

#26. Guide Dog Chronicles: The Training Center

#27. Guide Dog Chronicles: Grocery Shopping

  1. Guide Dog Chronicles: Hit By A Car

            #29. Guide Dog Chronicles: Smells like A Church

#30. Ken’s No Strings Attached

Sunday morning, Grace heard Ken’s Stang long before he pulled into her driveway. She could hear Joe and Edie laughing at something as Ken got out of the car to ring her doorbell. Sandy opened the front door.

“Hi, Junior,” Sandy said. “That’s quite a ring Grace has hanging around her neck. I certainly hope your intentions are honorable.”

“That’s enough, Sandy,” Grace’s Mom said, walking into the foyer. “Hello, Ken. Grace is getting Crackers into her harness and will be here in a minute. Isn’t the Memorial this morning at the Holy Cross Church?”

“Yes. It is,” Ken said. “I’m going to play my guitar for part of the service.”

Grace was within earshot and relieved to hear that they’d be in a familiar church, where Crackers had already been trained.

“I haven’t heard you play your guitar,” Grace said, trying to keep Crackers from jumping on him. “I think she is really happy to see you. It feels like her tail is wagging her whole body. Have you played for the Memorial before?”

“Yes. I like to play for the Memorial each year. Two of my cousins died in the military. It is my way of saying ‘Thank you for making it possible for me to have the freedom to play’. Someday, I hope to play in a military band.”

“I’ve never seen a Classical Guitar in the military band,” Sandy said.

“Right,” Ken answered. “I also play the trumpet and trombone.”

“Impressive,” Sandy mocked, clapping his hands. “I just play the hands.”

“With that applause,” Ken said affably, we’ll be going. Ready, Grace?”

During the short ride over to the church, Grace explained, “Our church building is over 100-years old. It used to be a one-room school house. The original bell is still in the belfry and we use it every Sunday.”

“Don’t the neighbors complain about the bell?”  Joe asked.

“After the school was abandoned for many years, the church moved in. During the renovation, they found the bell, re-tied the rope and tried it out,” Grace said, relating more church history. “One of the elderly neighbors heard the bell and toddled over to ask what the emergency was.”

“Oh, yes,” Edie said. “I’ve read that in small towns, whenever the school, Town Hall, or church bell rang, it was to summon help from everybody.”

When they arrived at the church, Crackers did a good job getting Grace and her friends to the pew they usually sat in. Ken sat with them until it was time for his soli.

The congregation was very quiet as Ken began the Allemande, from Lute suite No.11 by Sylvia’s Leopold Weiss.

“Oh, my,” Grace said softly, as the somber, reverent sounds from the strings of Ken’s Classical Baroque Alto Guitar filled the church. It was a very moving tribute to the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

“It’s beautiful,” Edie sniffled and blew her nose.

Tears streamed down Grace’s cheeks. She could hear Joe and several others near her quietly trying to clear their throats.

Ken’s second solo, Lute Sonata #2 also by Sylvius Leopold Weiss, was a tune that replaced the tears with smiles. Ken’s guitar reminded everyone of the hope the future would bring.

Traditionally, the congregation doesn’t applaud for prayers offered during the service, whether said or sung or strummed. But, everyone was so moved by his offerings, they did applaud.

Ken came and sat next to Grace. He leaned over and gently kissed her cheek, which was still wet and flushed with emotion.

Crackers got up from under the pew and put her head on Ken’s lap when he sat down. She seemed to say:  I’m glad you’re our new friend. Friends are forever.

(Music Source: Allemande, from Lute suite No.11 by Sylvius Leopold Weiss:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MM3beCev_i4 and Lute Sonata #2 by Sylvius Leopold Weiss:

www.youtube.com…Silvyus Leopold Weiss Suites N 1,2,3,Michel Cardin)

 

kathryngc1@verizon.net

29 Mar 2017, 4:37pm
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Comments Off on “…Eyeballs…” Book II: #29. Guide Dog Chronicles: Smells Like A Church

“…Eyeballs…” Book II: #29. Guide Dog Chronicles: Smells Like A Church

#29. Guide Dog Chronicles: Smells like A Church

Have you ever noticed the different odors inside a church?  When I take Grace to church at Holy Cross, I air-scent the parking lot and head for the stairs on the north side, stopping at the little ramp between the parking lot and the walkway. She’ll say, “Crackers, upstairs.”, although, I already know where to go.

At the foot of the stairs, I wait to be sure the young children aren’t playing on the steps or the older folks aren’t still slowly going up the wooden stairs.

As she feels the first step with her foot, and before she tells me, “Crackers, forward.”  I have a chance to take a quick sniff of it. Each step has a different smell. Sometimes they smell sour from the wet boots and shoes or like crushed fall leaves or freshly cut grass. Once it smelled really bad from guess-what-they-stepped-in!  (I know it wasn’t mine, because Grace always picks up after me.)

Once at the top, she’ll feel for the door latch and open it for us. The indoor air sometimes smells like cleaning stuff people use in the bathrooms.

The kitchen is on our left and has great coffee and snack aromas wafting out. I know to take Grace into the big church area after she visits with the folks in the kitchen.

In the chapel, the odor is very different. At first I notice the coolness and quiet of the large room. The rug smells like the steps, but when I hold my head up, I can smell the cleaning polish that was used on all the pews.

On our way down the main aisle to our pew, I like to hold my head up very high to smell the incense. Ours is an old church that has had many services in it. Not every service uses incense but the scent is always there. Once when the minister was swinging the incense holder, I got some drops of it on me. I smelled really good for days.

I know where our pew is, because, it smells like me. I lay down under the pew, where no one will hear me snore during the sermon or little woofs as I dream the time away. I also like to rest my chin on the kneeler.

As we leave our pew to go up for Communion, I like to straighten my hair. Grace has been told that, when the sun is shining through the beautiful stained glass windows just right, when I shake, a golden orb forms around me. When we get to the altar rail, I like trying to get a whiff of the wine. Someday, I want to snatch a wafer, but, I know Grace would be embarrassed if I really did get one.

Sometimes, it is hard to concentrate. One morning, I couldn’t resist stopping to sniff a lady’s cowboy boots as she knelt at the Communion rail. I got into trouble for that. But, Man, I’d never smelled horse stuff before.

Sometimes people call to me and pet me. I try very hard to ignore them so I can keep Grace safe. The hardest people to ignore are the sweet little old ladies who think I am adorable. I want to stop and be petted by all of them, but, I know my duty as a working dog. I don’t mind, because, I know Grace and I will have lots of time to socialize during the coffee hour.

Coffee Hour follows the church service. Sometimes, Grace takes off my harness and I can play with the children and be petted by all the adults. They are always amazed at how well I know to behave in harness and when to let loose! My favorite people are the children who are my height. I like to surprise them and lick their faces. Usually there are some cake or cookie crumbs to be tasted if I aim right for their chin. Jacob is afraid of dogs and won’t come face to face with me. He thinks that I don’t know he is the one who’s trying to catch my wagging tail while I am licking someone else’s face!

I have been in several churches and they seem to smell alike. Perhaps, it is the incense or maybe it is a combination of coffee, wine, flowers, incense, and such wonderful, loving people. I like to take Grace to church.

 

 

23 Mar 2017, 4:50pm
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“…Eyeballs…” Book II: 28. Guide Dog Chronicles: Hit By A Car

 

#28. Guide Dog Chronicles: Hit by a Car

That fateful day, Grace and Sandy put our many bags of groceries into two carts to get them to the van. The plan was for Sandy to push the first cart and steer the cart Grace would push. I was at proper heel position.

We stopped just outside the door at the crosswalk. A car stopped at the stop sign. We proceeded into the crosswalk toward our van in the handicapped parking slot. As we were walking, Grace heard a man yell very loudly. At the same moment she realized that the man was Sandy, she heard a thump and a yelp. I was hit hard on my left flank and thrown to Grace’s far right. As Sandy continued to yell at the woman through her closed window, Grace immediately took off my harness and made me lie down.

After she’d felt me all over and found no broken bones or blood, a stranger escorted us to our van. I walked with them and hopped into the back seat. I was okay; just shaken-up and sore.

Believe me, it is a lot safer to take Grace to church.

 

kathryngc1@verizon.net

23 Mar 2017, 1:48pm
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“…Eyeballs…” Book II: 27. Guide Dog Chronicles: Grocery Shopping

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

As Grace grows up, some of her stories are happy, some trying, some enlightening, and a few themes are sad, but, they’re all the warp and woof of what goes into the tapestry of life we call Family. The daily living skills and techniques demonstrated by the fictional characters in these stories are valid, tried and true.

 

Book II:  The Teenagers

#10. Bad News

#11.  Grace’s Day One

#12 Knight With Shining Flatware

#13. The Locker Fiasco

#14. Lost In Thought

#15. The Musician

#16. Day Two And Beyond

#17. First Date

#18. The Zipper Creep

#19. Making Up

#20. Mall Cruising

#21. And More Questions

#22. Homecoming Dance

#23. Loyalties

#24. Sea Dragons

#25. Guide Dog Chronicles: Puppy Raisers

#26. Guide Dog Chronicles: The Training Center

#27. Guide Dog Chronicles: Grocery Shopping

Grace’s Mom will make up a grocery list for Sandy and Grace to do the shopping. Of course, I go, too. After Sandy parks in the Handicapped Parking slot, I guide Grace to the painted cross-walk and wait for her command:  Crackers, forward. If it is safe, I take her to the sidewalk.

Then, I take Grace to the bottle return for the deposit receipt and where Sandy catches up to us. From there I know we go to the Deli number dispenser and wait in line. When Grace has put our package of great smelling ham and cheese, or roast beef in our cart, we head over to the doughnuts. We wait out of the way while her brother chooses a dozen doughnuts. It’s important for me to get Grace to a safe spot, because, people have to serve themselves in the bakery department. They have a tendency to rudely jostle each other to get to the freshest doughnuts.

From the bakery, it’s simple enough to follow the outer wall cases. We stop at vegetables here and there, then go to the meat and bacon sections. Soda, milk, and eggs sections are next. It’s cold along here. As I stop at each place, Grace feels and chooses which items she wants. We like walking through the flower section. The dirt smells fresh if they’ve just watered the plants. The fragrant lilies seem to be Grace’s favorite; roses are mine.

The bulk food section smells pretty good, too; lots of cinnamon cookies, popcorn, and granola. The frozen food cases are too cold and a bit boring, except when the workers’ wheeled dollies make it like an obstacle course. It takes a lot of concentration to maneuver along safely.

In spite of my best efforts, the time I was hit by a car in the parking lot was really scary.

 

kathryngc1@verizon.net

16 Mar 2017, 2:50pm
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“…Eyeballs…” Book II: 26. Guide Dog Chronicles: Training Center

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

As Grace grows up, some of her stories are happy, some trying, some enlightening, and a few themes are sad, but, they’re all the warp and woof of what goes into the tapestry of life we call Family. The daily living skills and techniques demonstrated by the fictional characters in these stories are valid, tried and true.

 

Book II:  The Teenagers

#10. Bad News

#11.  Grace’s Day One

#12 Knight With Shining Flatware

#13. The Locker Fiasco

#14. Lost In Thought

#15. The Musician

#16. Day Two And Beyond

#17. First Date

#18. The Zipper Creep

#19. Making Up

#20. Mall Cruising

#21. And More Questions

#22. Homecoming Dance

#23. Loyalties

#24. Sea Dragons

#25. Guide Dog Chronicles: Puppy Raisers

#26. Guide Dog Chronicles: The Training Center

I’d passed all my tests, training runs, and was ready to be graduated as an official guide dog for the blind. I could feel the excitement going all through the Training Center. My trainers knew all about me and, now, they were going to match me up with a compatible person.

Then, she was there, sitting on the couch. I couldn’t contain my excitement. As soon as I saw Grace, dressed in her sensible shoes, I knew she liked to walk. As soon as my trainerr unhooked the leash from my collar and she called me, I barreled into her. It was a good thing she was already sitting down. I began licking her face and it was love at first lick.

When Grace told me to sit, so she could put her leash on my collar, I surprised her by immediately sitting. I didn’t want to lose this new friend. I felt Grace was worried about being able to trust me with her life, but, I knew I could do it. I just had to prove it to her.

The turning point came during a training walk in a small city. We were standing on the corner waiting for the traffic light to change. A big delivery truck turned the corner a bit too sharply. His rear wheels jumped up over the sidewalk. If I hadn’t pulled back on my harness making Grace go backward with me, she would have been part of the pavement. Once Grace learned to relax, it became fun to strut our stuff along sidewalks and country roads, up and down stairs, in and out of revolving doors, up escalators and down elevators, as well as dining in restaurants, meeting new friends, and bonding with each other.

After graduation, we went to Grace’s home where she lived with her parents and brother. I liked them a lot, but, I knew that Grace was my lady and, when I’m wearing my beautiful leather harness, Grace is my responsibility. I take care of her and she takes care of me. We go everywhere together:  to school, to church, into town, and even grocery shopping.

 

kathryngc1@verizon.net

16 Mar 2017, 6:53am
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Comments Off on “…Eyeballs…” Book II: 25. Guide Dog Chronicles: Puppy Raisers

“…Eyeballs…” Book II: 25. Guide Dog Chronicles: Puppy Raisers

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

As Grace grows up, some of her stories are happy, some trying, some enlightening, and a few themes are sad, but, they’re all the warp and woof of what goes into the tapestry of life we call Family. The daily living skills and techniques demonstrated by the fictional characters in these stories are valid, tried and true.

 

Book II:  The Teenagers

#10. Bad News

#11.  Grace’s Day One

#12 Knight With Shining Flatware

#13. The Locker Fiasco

#14. Lost In Thought

#15. The Musician

#16. Day Two And Beyond

#17. First Date

#18. The Zipper Creep

#19. Making Up

#20. Mall Cruising

#21. And More Questions

#22. Homecoming Dance

#23. Loyalties

#24. Sea Dragons

#25. Guide Dog Chronicles: Puppy Raisers

It was so cool. I couldn’t stop wagging my tail, which waggled my whole body. Last week Grace took me to see my favorite puppy raisers. It had been two whole years since I was taken away from them to go to the guide dog training center. As soon as I got out of the car in their driveway, I remembered where I was. It was such fun being there again. Have you ever had to move to another home and leave everyone you knew behind?

I’ve had to do that many times. After I was born at the Puppy Breeding Center, I stayed with my Mother until I could drink from a bowl. I was taken home by a girl who was a 4-H member in a town far from my Mother.

I was not a happy puppy then because the girl left me alone a lot. I wanted to play and be friends but she had other things to do that were more important than me. I began to feel really sad and angry. I nipped at people when they came near me. I was trying to let them know I needed a friend too. After a month, the girl’s Mother called the Puppy Breeding Center to tell them I should be put in another Puppy Raiser’s home. And that is how I came to live with my favorite puppy raisers, Tim and Rosemary.

I was scared to go to another place where I would not know anyone. I just wanted a friend to play with, a full tummy, and a comfy place to sleep. Rosemary said I was so skinny and small when she first saw me she thought I was a Terrier, not a Golden Retriever. I snapped at her, but, in time, I came to realize that if anyone was going to be my friend, I had to stop nipping at everyone.

I wanted to please my new Puppy Raisers, so, I tried hard to do what they wanted me to do.

One time they gave me a flat, plastic plate like thing with edges on it. There wasn’t any food or anything on it. I had no idea what it was. Then they threw it onto the lawn a short ways away from us. Tim ran after it and called me. I thought it was not too bright of him to throw it away if he really had wanted it! When we got to where the thing landed, he picked it up and threw it again. This time I raced him to it. I couldn’t figure out how to throw it so I sat on it and started to chew it. He tickled me until I got up and ran away with it. He chased me and we had a great time with the toy he called a Frisbee.

I learned how to do a lot of things during the ten months I lived with Tim and Rosemary. I liked walking to the meadow with Tim at piddle and park time. We would run and play. Sometimes he even let me go by myself. They taught me not to take anything from the table; just to eat from my own bowl and not from the cats’ bowls, and to stay off the furniture. I had my own spot to sleep in at night. I liked it best when we rode in the car. I would go into school with them. Tim was a Sixth Grade teacher and Rosemary was a First Grade teacher. I liked being with the children. Going to school with Tim and Rosemary was my favorite thing to do.

They already had an old cat, a kitten, and another puppy from the Puppy Breeding Center. The kitten was OK and fun to play with. The old cat did not seem to like me too much and would sit on the window sill teasing me until I barked. I wasn’t supposed to bark, so, I would get into a lot of trouble because of that darn cat.

The dog wasn’t too cool either. When I first came, I would eat my food slowly and sometimes rest between bites. Well, that big dog would budge right in, finish my food, and get back to his own bowl before Rosemary could catch him.

That bully would take my NylaBone, too. I didn’t really like to chew on that bone, though, because, it would get little prickles on it that would poke my gums and that hurt. I’d stop chewing for half a second and, zip, that big dog would have my bone. I figured, it wasn’t worth fighting over. The big dog went back to the training center for final training three months after I arrived on the scene, so, I had Tim and Rosemary (and the cats) all to myself.

My puppy raisers and I had fun learning good behavior in all types of places and situations. I had a lot of visits to the vet to make sure I was healthy and developing properly. Usually the 4-H people took me there and Tim and Rosemary took me everywhere else. Several times a person from the Training Center would come to test me on things like what I did when they tried to startle me with loud sounds and how I behaved if I had to walk alongside a moving car.

One day after dinner, Tim and Rosemary took me to someone’s home where I had to stay over-night in a crate next to two other dogs. I was miserable and lonely. I even missed that stupid old cat! In the morning, we were put into the back of a van and taken to the Training Center. I felt lost and once again abandoned and unloved.

I didn’t know it at the time, but, it was the beginning of the three months that would   give meaning to the rest of my life.

 

 

kathryngc1@verizon.net