12 Jan 2017, 7:11am

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“…Eyeballs…” Book II: 14. Lost In Thought

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

The bus driver was as good as his word. He dropped her off at the end of her street. Although the street was paved, it ended in a cul-de-sac that did not have side-walks or curbs. Grace and Crackers had walked it many times during the summer just for exercise and something to do. She was not worried about getting home and let her mind wander, thinking over some of the things that happened that day.

She felt Crackers’ energy as she pulled hard to get up to the top of the hill. Why was it, Grace wondered, that the dog found all this work so much fun. Grace felt drained. Her thoughts turned to the smooth, low baritone who had been so helpful at lunch time. Suddenly, Grace realized they were starting down the other side of the hill. Crackers had gone past their home and Grace Wasn’t sure how far they’d gone. Bile rose in her throat from fear and panic.

“Crackers, Go Home!” Grace loudly said in fright, hoping the dog would get the message and take them to the unique wooden mailbox they used as a landmark.

Crackers turned to the right, into the middle of the street. Grace could feel the crown of the road. Crackers stopped and then turned to the left. She was confused as to what she was to do.

“Crackers, go home.” Grace repeated again, but, this time in a voice that would not scare the dog. Crackers took several steps forward down the hill but then turned to go back up the hill. After several yards, she stopped. Grace felt the gravel of the shoulder under her feet and reached out with her hand.  She felt the unique but familiar mail-box. It was especially made to hold the Library of Congress Braille books and Records that used to come each week.

“Good girl. Crackers, go home,” Grace   said calmly with relief flooding through her body. She had been so deep in thought, not paying attention to her surroundings,  that she had not told Crackers to go home so she didn’t. The perfect ending to my day, she mused in discussed.

Dinner was quiet that night. Her Dad was on a business trip and her brother was at a Volley ball game. That left her mother and her to have dinner together. Grace really didn’t want to talk about her day. After dinner, her Mother respected her privacy and went off to cut out construction paper pumpkins for her Nursery School children. Grace often helped her with projects, but, she really didn’t want to trace 27 little pumpkins tonight.

Later that evening, when Grace was in her favorite fleecy sleepshirt, reading a braille book, her Mother revived an old tradition that Grace had almost forgotten about. She came into Grace’s room in her flannel robe and PJ’s carrying a tray with two cups, two cookies, and a small chubby pot of fragrant hot herb tea.

“Hi, could we have tea time?”  Her Mother asked. A flood of mushy love gushed over Grace. Before she had gone to the residential school, they always used to ask that of each other whenever one had something to talk about. Sometimes they had tea time just to be together, just us girls, no boys allowed.

During tea time that night, Grace opened up and talked about her day as her Mother listened sympathetically. As Grace talked she felt better and knew that the worst was over. At least she hoped the worst was over. Life had a way of   rolling lemons tart as sour balls her way and she wasn’t so sure she could make any more sweet lemonade.


Copyright (C) 1996, 2016, 2017 by Kate Chamberlin



5 Jan 2017, 4:46am

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“…Eyeballs…” Book II: 13. The Locker Fiasco

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

s   “Oh, good heavens,” Ken said, beginning to laugh, too.

Grace wanted to die as she quickly pulled the straw out of her nose.

“Noel Pollard just came in with the funniest outfit on. He is our class clown and has a real knack for making us laugh. He is sitting down at the table next to us.”

“Oh,” she said, relieved to know they had not been laughing at her. Apparently no one had seen her bad aim because of Noel’s well timed entrance. She tried to regain her composure by asking Ken, “Are you in any of my classes?” keeping her voice even and hoping it didn’t sound stupid.

“No, just lunch,” he said still chuckling a little. “I’m a senior taking a couple AP courses in hopes of getting into the Eastman School of music. I play the Classical Guitar and piano.”

“Oh,” she said again. It was all she could come up with. As Grace was scooping the last bite of chocolate pudding accurately in to her mouth, Heather came over to the table.

“Hi’ya, Kenny,” she said in a honey smooth voice that made it hard for Grace to recognize who was speaking. The thought occurred to her that Heather was impressed with Ken and wished she hadn’t left Grace alone in the line. “We have to get to our next class. You ready?  The tray return is over here.”

Grace clattered around getting Crackers up, her tray balanced, and eventually found the “here” that Heather meant. She heard Heather say a silky, “bye, Kenny.” as she muttered her own, “bye.”

Turning right from the cafeteria, they headed to their lockers. When Grace heard Heather working her own locker combination, she screwed up her courage and asked, “What is my locker number, Heather?”

“Oh, yours is 153 and mine is 155. That’s why they assigned me to baby sit you today. Do you think you can remember the way for tomorrow or do you want me to help again?”

“And, what is my lock combination?  I would like to try it myself this time,” she added, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice. It was never her intention to be a burden to this girl. Grace had not asked to have a sighted guide, much less an unwilling baby sitter. She didn’t even ask to be in this bogus school.

“Your combination is on this paper. It is left to 13; right to 24; and left to 10. Now, what about tomorrow?” she said with some irritation herself.

“I’m not sure I’ll be in tomorrow. But, thanks anyway,” Grace forced cheerfully.

“OK, suit yourself. I’ll check with you in the morning if you’re in,” Heather said and hurried off to join her friends in the classroom near their lockers.

Grace’s memory was good and she remembered the combination exactly, but, to be sure, she took out her mini-digital and recorded it.

As she took hold of the knob on the lock, she realized the folly of trying to do this herself. The numbers were not raised, much less in Braille. How was she going to figure out where even the first number was?  With her cheeks burning and her eyes threatening to flood over, she heard an older woman’s gruff voice say, “Seems to me that you’re in quite a pickle here. Mind if I help?”

After the woman had gotten the locker open, she left before Grace could even say, “Thank you.”  She’d heard that voice earlier today, but, she could not match a name or location to it.

Grace made a mental note that she must definitely make some Braille labels.

The last three periods of school seemed to go slowly, and yet, the clanging of the final bell startled her. She would now have to face finding the right bus. Too bad Crackers couldn’t read. Then most of Grace’s problems would be solved. They went out the front doors of the school with all the other kids jostling them despite Crackers’ best efforts. Out on the cement apron, amid the stinky diesel fumes and rumbling bus engines, she had Crackers stop. To no one in particular she said out loud, “Where is Bus 161 located?”

She heard the older woman’s gruff voice at her right side say, “It is the last bus to your left. Walk straight to the curb and step in. It is always in that location.”

Grace murmured her thank you but knew it was lost in the hub-bub of teens eager to get home. None was more eager than Grace and she hurried to her bus. The driver knew she would be on his bus and had kept the front passenger seat clear for her and her guide dog. He asked her where she wanted to get off so she gave him her address.

“I don’t go down that street,” he said. “I’ll drop you off at the corner. Okay?  Close enough?”

Grace said, “Okay. Thanks.” But, she thought: Right! Nothing like a half-mile walk to get home. Another of life’s little challenges.



Copyright (C) 1996, 2016, 2017 by Kate Chamberlin


29 Dec 2016, 4:56am

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“…Eyeballs…” Book II: 12. Knight With Shining Flatware

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

The same quiet baritone now asked her if he could carry her tray to a table.

“Thanks,” Grace said meekly. “I think that would be the safest thing to do under the circumstances. Do you see where Heather went?”

“Yes,” answered the low baritone, “but, there are no more chairs at that table. Would you sit with me at another table?”

“Ok, but no guarantees about not dumping gravy in your lap,” she ventured to say with a smile.

“It’s a deal. I’ll jump out of the way, if I see it coming. By the way, I’m Ken. Who are you?”

“Sloppy Grace,” she answered sourly and told Crackers to Track Ken to their table. Grace silently said a prayer for nothing more to happen during lunch.

She noticed it got quiet around the table he chose as she maneuvered Crackers to sit with her rump under the table and her head next to Grace’s chair. She felt for the seat and back to be sure she wouldn’t end up on the floor next to her dog and carefully sat down. She could hear some tittering nearby and some “Ooh, Ken.”  “What you got there, Ken?” “You going to feed her, too, Ken?”

Grace felt her face burn like a camp fire and  didn’t know what to say so she started to feel for her straw and flatware. To her rising horror, she could not find them and what was worse, she was pretty sure she hadn’t picked any up, because of all the confusion with the falling tray. She felt something brush her hand and heard a metal clink on her tray.

“I noticed that you didn’t take any of these, so I snatched an extra for you,” Ken said. “I’m not sure it will be worth the effort but I get so hungry, that I’ll even eat school food.”

“Thank you, Ken,” she said with obvious relief. “I’m not usually so klutzy.”

“No problem,” Ken said. “I have an aunt who says she is blind in one eye and can’t see out the other. She just happens to be my favorite aunt, so, I’m often filling in the gaps for her. By the way, what they call turkey is located at one o’clock, the little green balls are at six, and the stiff clouds are around nine. The whole thing is covered in brown mud. Bon Appetit.”

Grace didn’t know who this knight in shining armor was but she was very relieved to have at least one bright spot in her day. She started to relax and taste her food. She knew from eating peas at home that she’d have more success if she mixed them into the mashed potatoes. Grace sincerely hoped Ken was too busy eating his own lunch to notice what she was doing. She had a system of eating around on her plate from 12 o’clock to three o’clock and so on until she’d gotten back to the top of the plate. That way she did not have to ask if she had eaten everything. The turkey was dry in spite of the gravy, so she reached for her carton of milk.

Grace always put her beverage in the upper right hand corner of her tray. The straw’s paper wrapper was very tight and refused to budge without a struggle. She wondered why the school purchased such long straws when the carton of milk was so small. She managed to get the carton open with it blowing only a few bubbles of milk out. By now, she was really thirsty.

Grace quickly lifted the carton toward her mouth and immediately felt the result of her haste. The straw did not enter her opened mouth, but rather, her left nostril. The kids at the next table burst out into a roar of laughter. She wished she could climb down under the table with Crackers or run away. She had never been so embarrassed in all her life. Why did she have to come to this dumb school with all these dumb kids anyway?


22 Dec 2016, 10:48am

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“…Eyeballs…” Bk. II: 11. Grace’s Day One

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

A loud crack of thunder woke Grace the next morning. “Right,” she groaned without picking her head up from the pillow. “The perfect start for my first day of Hell. Crackers, are you ready for this?”

Crackers, who was already awake and ready to go, stuck her wet nose into Grace’s cheek. The Golden Retriever knew she wasn’t allowed on the bed; but, no one ever said anything about resting her chin on it and, if Grace’s face happened to be right there..! Grace swiped the slime off her cheek and patted the dog affectionately as she swung her feet over the edge of the bed. Her feet expertly searched for her fuzzy slippers. Over her fleece bathrobe she put the L. L. Bean raincoat and marched out into the rain to let Crackers piddle and park.

Breakfast with its wafts of freshly brewed coffee, sizzling bacon, and toasted whole wheat bread was efficiently over-seen by her Mother. Her Father had eaten first and was just finishing his coffee when Grace and Crackers came to the table. He mumbled something about “have a good day. I have to run.” and was gone.

Her older brother, Sandy, noisily refolded the newspaper, and did not acknowledge her presence.

Grace’s mother, on the other hand, kept up a bright and lively conversation mostly with herself. She knew that her family was not composed of morning people and had gotten used to talking to herself. Grace felt her Mother’s nervousness and wished she would just stop talking. Grace had her own thoughts about the fast approaching, inevitable doom that would be her day.

With Crackers brushed and harnessed, Grace glumly climbed into her mother’s tan, Astro van. Her mother taught at The Teddy Bear Nursery School and had offered to drop Grace off on her way to work. Grace was glad for the familiar feel of the van and had not protested the offer; Taking the bus home would be bad enough. Before she realized it, her mother was touching her arm and saying, “I love you, Grace. I hope things won’t be too terribly awful for you today.”

The van was stopped at the side door of her new high school. Her stomach started to do flip-flops. Her mouth was dry. Her hands were wet, and her shoes felt like they were made of cement. All she had to do was find the van door handle, pull it, get Crackers out, and remember the route they had planned during their visit the previous week. It had seemed so easy then. The building was quiet as a tomb last week. The principal had given them a guided tour. Grace had Crackers stop at key check points to familiarize the dog with the routes they would need to   get to classes. But, now, through the open van window, she could hear the noisy bus engines as they idled in the bus loop disgorging their cargo of laughing and jostling teenagers. The crowd flowed into the building like a transfusion of new blood to revitalize a deflated body. It was so noisy. She could just barely hear her mother’s van drive off.

“Crackers, forward,” Grace quietly said half hoping the dog would not hear her and they could just forget the whole thing. Crackers was waiting and listening for commands, so forward she went.

Grace knew that most of the kids would be wearing faded blue jeans, floppy high top Reebocks ™, and tee-shirts. Her Mother had bought her new jeans and a tee-shirt to wear today. She guessed she must look like the rest of the crowd. In her old school, she wore a soft, grey skirt and crisp, white button down blouse. She felt awkward and strange in her stiff new jeans and “Save America” tee-shirt that smelled like it was just printed an hour ago.

She knew she was near the open side doors when she heard laughing kids, slamming locker doors, and squeaking of sneakers on highly polished tile floors. She knew she was through the doors when the hallway got deathly silent. Her face became bright red and hot. It felt like all the blood drained into her stomach, threatening to come out in one whoosh.

“I knew this would happen,” Grace moaned to herself with a nervous flick of her head that sent her hair bouncing every which way. “Grace, hold your head up and concentrate on following Crackers’ lead. This is no time to bump into a wall,” she continued muttering to herself.

As they proceeded down the hall, Grace thought she heard, “My, God, it’s a blind dog!” “No, you nerd, the dog can see. The girl is blind.” followed by lots of whispered tittering. Grace thought she had counted three doors, so she told Crackers, “Left. Left.”

As they entered the room and walked up to a counter, a gruff voice said, “You can’t come in here without a pass.”  The musty smell of old volumes, polished wood, new plastic covers, and inky magazines told Grace she’d turned one door too soon. She was in the library and not the main office.

“Sorry,” she said quickly and turned back toward the door and re-entered the hall that was once again noisy with kids’ chatter.

At the Main Office counter, a friendlier voice said, “Hi, “I’m Tanya, the school secretary. You must be Grace.”

“Yes, I am. Dr. Jones said I should stop in here before going anywhere else. Do you know why?” Grace asked, feeling relieved just a tiny bit that the secretary had not only known her but had also said her own name so Grace also knew to whom she was speaking.

“Yes. We have assigned a student to help you get around for the first few days. Her name is Heather. She’s over there in the red tee shirt…oh, I forgot. I’ll go get her for you.”

Grace remembered what red looked like but there was no way she could see it now or even where the girl was standing.

All she could see were hazy things, kind of like looking through wax paper. She turned as she heard someone cracking gum come up beside her.

“Hi,” Heather said, as she bent down to pet Crackers. “You have a really cute doggie here. What’s his name?”

“Her name is Crackers. But you really shouldn’t pet a dog in harness. She is working now and it will distract her.” Grace tried to sound friendly, but, she had to be firm about not petting Crackers when she should be paying attention to her duties.

“Oh, I didn’t know that, “Heather remarked off handedly as she continued to pet Crackers. “Let’s get to your locker and then home room before the bell rings. We have a pass to be late but I wanna see my buds.”

At Grace’s locker, Heather ran through the lock combination and opened   the locker for Grace. Grace debated whether or not she should explain that she was only out of sight and not out of mind. If Heather had told her the combination, she could have opened the locker herself. It wasn’t until they got into home room that Grace realized that she did not even know her locker number, much less the lock’s combination. She made a mental note to bring her Braille labeler in to school tomorrow, if she came back at all. Mrs. Curtiss, the home room teacher,  seemed like a decent teacher. Grace thought she’d be able to ask her for help if it was absolutely necessary. Home room seemed awfully short. It was time to go to First Period quicker than Grace would have liked.

Heather walked on Grace’s right and seemed to know everyone. They all said hi to Heather and commented on what a nice dog that was, but, no one said hi to Grace. She could never figure out why people found it easier to talk to a dog than to another person. By the end of Second Period, Grace really had to go to the bathroom. She asked Heather where it was.

“It’s down the hall to the right,” Heather said. “Do I have to go with you?”

Grace said, “No thanks. Crackers can find the bathroom.”  They went down the hall and Grace began to say, “Right, crackers, bathroom.”

Crackers went through the tiled, zigzag entrance to the bathroom. Grace was sure it was a bathroom by the smell. Suddenly, she heard, “What the…? Get out of here!”

She was horrified. Crackers had taken her into the boy’s bathroom instead of the girl’s bathroom.

They beat a hasty retreat to the matching zigzag entrance right next to the boy’s bathroom. She was glad no one else was in the girl’s bathroom as a few hot tears rolled down her cheeks.

Third and Fourth Periods passed with no major problems. Fifth Period, however, was lunch and a whole new set of problems cropped up. Grace was determined to be as independent as possible. Crackers took her to the beginning of the lunch line right behind Heather. They were used to lunch lines in her old school and so she knew what to do. She felt around for the trays and put one on the slide bars. It wasn’t quite straight and the tray slid through the bars making an awful clatter as it crashed to the tile floor. As she bent down to pick it up, she banged her head on the bars and felt a big Goose egg start toswell up.

The guy behind her picked up the tray and said in a quiet baritone, “It’s in front of you now.”

She mumbled her thanks and slid the tray too far past the lunch lady who was serving up the main course. Grace had read the menu at home and now could smell  the sliced turkey, green peas, and mashed potatoes with gravy. Grace was used to feeling a notch in the bars where she was supposed to stop at each station. Her cheeks burned as she remembered this was not her old school.  Grace managed to get her plate on to her tray and move to the desserts. She knew from reading the menu yesterday that she had a choice of pumpkin pie or Chocolate Pudding. After her tray problem, she just wanted to quickly pick up one or the other, it didn’t matter which, and get to her seat without any more mishaps. She reached in to feel for a plate and found that she was knuckle deep in Chocolate Pudding. Hoping no one noticed, she put that dish on her tray and slid down to the milk cartons. Again, she knew there would be Chocolate, Skim, or whole milk. She didn’t care which, so, she reached in to get one. Before her hand touched any cartons, the Goose Egg smashed into the sneeze guard causing her to wince. She stifled a cry and stretched her arm in farther to find the milk and put it on her tray. At the cashier, she was thankful that her Mother had purchased a lunch ticket and the lady only had to punch out today’s date. Grace was good at feeling each coin to identify it, but, Thought that at the rate she was going today, she’d mess up again for sure.

Her tray was heavy and not balanced. How was she going to carry it in one hand with her books and hold the dog’s harness in the other hand? Heather had gone on ahead to sit with her friends, leaving Grace stranded.



17 Dec 2016, 8:31am

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“…Eyeballs…” bk II: 10. Bad news

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.





“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 II: The Teenagers


#10. Bad News

“I absolutely refuse to go. There is no reason why I should and you can’t make me. I was happy in my old school. Why couldn’t they leave me there?  No one asked me if I wanted to leave and come here to finish high school. It’s a dumb law and I’m not going to go. I don’t have anything to wear. I don’t know anyone. And I just won’t go,” Grace sobbed as her hands mutilated a wet tissue. Her shoulder length wavy brown hair was snarled and unkempt from all the crying and rocking on her bed.

“But, Grace, all the residential schools for the blind are being closed. The students are being main-streamed into the local high schools,” her mother tried to explain. “I know none of the others will be in your new high school; but, you’ll make other friends. It’s an opportunity to learn new things. Look how well you and your guide dog work together. Remember when you went to the Training Center to get Crackers, you weren’t so sure you could do that, either.”

Her Mother’s words droned on and on. Grace unconsciously reached down to pet Crackers on her head and tuned her Mother out. She really didn’t understand. It wasn’t happening to her. She had two good eyes and had never had anything embarrassing happen to her. So, what did she know, anyway?

Eventually, her Mother’s back rubbing and shoulder massage, calmed her down a little; or at least, it made her mother think she was calmer, so, she left the room. Grace knew it was far from over. She fell into a fitful sleep that was full of wrong buses, missed classes, staring kids, and stupid teachers.


2 Dec 2016, 4:00am

Comments Off on “…Eyeballs…” Bk 1: 9. Hey, There’s A Dog In Here!

“…Eyeballs…” Bk 1: 9. Hey, There’s A Dog In Here!

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 I:  The Early Years

#1.  If You Can’t See…

#2. Elytra, The Ladybug

#3. The Night Search For A Missing Puppy


#5. Morton, The Mockingbird

#6. Grace, Martha, and The Sleep Shirt Solution

#7. Zack and Zoe


.#9. Hey, There’s A Dog In Here!

This is the day Grace’s Third Grade class has Show and Tell. She never brought in things that are ordinary; just things that no one else would think of doing. She’d already chewed off her fingernails.

“Where could my Show-and-Tell be?” Grace wondered. “My turn is next and she isn’t here yet. My knuckles are aching from holding onto my desk so tightly. I can feel my cheeks begin to burn.”

As the teacher calls my name, I hear a clickity click coming down the hall. I grab my long, white cane, zip out of my seat, and tappity tap to the door. I recognize the clickity click of Mrs. Carnes’s Guide Dog. I’m saved; she is here.

“Hi, Mrs. Carnes. My room is over here to the right. You’re just in time,” I say hoping the relief I feel doesn’t sound rude.

“Hi, Grace, your directions on how to get here were very good.”

“We’re ready for you, ” I say as I tappity tap ahead of them to pat the chair in front of the class.

Now my face is flushed with excitement. The kids are all talking at once.

“Hey, there’s a dog in here!” Fred hollers out.

“Future, Chair,” Mrs. Carnes quietly commands her guide dog.

When they get to the chair, Future puts her chin on the seat to let Mrs. Carnes know where to sit. Then Future lays down on the floor facing the kids.

“This is my neighbor, Mrs. Carnes, and her guide dog Future. I asked her to come for Show and Tell. She’s blind so Future guides her everywhere.” I sit down on the floor near Future, but, I remember not to pet her when she’s wearing her harness.

“Thank you, Grace. I always like to share my story with Others.”


Mrs. Carnes starts by asking, “If I can’t see, how can I tell what time it is?”

“Ask your mother,” responds Suzie.

“You could set an alarm clock,” Yolanda thoughtfully offers.

“Well, they are good suggestions, but, remember I can’t see to set the alarm. I am alone at home a lot so I can’t ask my mother.”

“Ask your dog,” giggles Fred.

“My guide dog is good, but, she isn’t THAT good! How else might I be able to tell time for myself?”

She gives them a hint by saying, “Think about your five senses.”

Grace has known Mrs. Carnes for years, so, besides being blind herself, Grace knows all the answers about being blind. She is more interested in how Future reacts to the kids as they warm up to talking with a blind adult for the first time. Future’s tail wags, thumping Grace’s side. She wonders if dogs can smile.

“You could get one of those really tall clocks like my Grandma has in her hall way. It rings chimes all the time. You’d hear it.”

“Oh, great idea,” she says enthusiastically. “But, could I carry it to school with me?” We all laugh at this idea. “I’ll give you another hint. Listen to my magic sleeve. It will talk to you.”

They are really surprised when she rolls up her cuff to show them the talking watch. Grace knows Future likes the watch because when she hears it beep around 3:30, she knows it is time to eat supper!


“My blindness is like looking through wax paper,” Mrs. Carnes says, passing around a piece of wax paper for the children to look through. “Blind is not catching. You could hug me and I could hug you and you would not go blind.”

“Hey Lady, you got eyeballs in there?” interrupted Fred.

“Sure, I do. They just don’t work too well,” Mrs. Carnes answers him.

Grace thinks it must be really hard for Future to lay still when she’d really rather play with the children. But, she knows her duty as a working dog. Only her tail wags.


“Now, since I can’t see, what other of my senses might I use?”

Future sneezed as she asked this question.

“Smelling!” they all yell at the same time.

The Sniffy Jars are fun, but, it is hard to name the fragrances. With Future’s long nose she can smell better than anyone.


“If it doesn’t smell or talk and you can’t see it, what other sense could you use?” Mrs. Carnes encouraged.

“I know,” Jeremy excitedly yells out. “Touch.”

“Yes, and these are Feely Cans for you to try,” she said.

Grace imagines Future perking up her ears. Maybe someday, Grace thinks, Future will stick her paw in there to feel what’s inside.

“Does anyone know how you can read if you can’t see the print?” Mrs. Carnes asks reaching into her carpet bag. “You can see these dots, I can feel them. It is called Braille. This newsletter has many braille cells on it. Here is one cell. Each cell has six dots. While you feel the Braille, I’ll put your name on an alphabet card.”

Grace supposes Future could never get the hang of using that slate and stylus. Grace wonders if the kids know the very large Braille cell Mrs. Carnes shows them is really a pan that can cook six muffins.


“This is called a long, white cane. Many blind people, like Grace, use it to keep themselves safe. You tap it from left to right as you walk. Just like marching! I used this one before I trained with Future. Listen to the sound it makes as you use it to go across the room. A tap on the rug is going to be different from the tap on the bare tile floor.”

Grace smiles as she hears the kids bump into a lot of things trying out the long white cane. She knows Future could guide them better than that!


“This is a family photo,” Mrs. Carnes says, holding up a full color picture of a Mother Golden Retriever and her puppy. Grace suspects that Future really perks up her ears now. She knows Mrs. Carnes is talking about her puppyhood.

“When Future was about ten weeks old, she was given to a family to raise. She learned to sleep in her own bed, eat from her own dish, and how to behave in public. After a year, she went to a guide dog training school.”

Mrs. Carnes gently puts her hand on Future’s silky head as she tells them how smoothly she can guide her through crowds of people, up escalators, and even ride on a school bus.

“I can feel the motion of Future’s body by holding the harness handle. When Future stops, I stop, feel with my foot, and listen. Then, I give her the command, ‘Future, forward.’ I can feel her go ahead and I go with her.”

When Future hears us clapping and saying Thank You, she gets up and shakes. She knows it is time for her to get back to active duty. The class all watch Mrs. Carnes stand and pick up the harness handle in her left hand.

Mrs. Carnes says, “Good-bye. Thank you for having us. You’ve been a wonderful audience.”

As they pass Grace, she can feel a breeze from Future’s wagging tail. It is as if Future is also waving good-bye to the class.


1 Dec 2016, 2:07pm

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“…Eyeballs…” Bk 1: 8. Marionella

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 I:  The Early Years

#1.  If You Can’t See…

#2. Elytra, The Ladybug

#3. The Night Search For A Missing Puppy


#5. Morton, The Mockingbird

#6. Grace, Martha, and The Sleep Shirt Solution

#7. Zack and Zoe



“Buckle up,” Grace’s Dad sang in his off-key tenor’s voice. “It’s over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house we go!”

Grace put Goldie, her Golden Retriever puppy,  on the floor at her feet, placed her folded long, white cane next to her seat and buckled her seat belt, Visiting her Mother’s parents on their farm was one of Grace’s favorite places to go.

Grace’s cousins, Martha and Janey with their families were already at the farm when she and her parents drove up the stone lane to the old farm house.

After hugs and hellos all around, the grown-ups slipped into talking about things that bored the cousins.

“Grandma Kate,” Martha said munching on popcorn. “Would you tell us a story?”

“Sure,” Grandma Kate said, slowly rocking in her wicker rocker on the wide front porch with her old guide dog at her feet. “Which one would you like to hear?”

“Marionella!” Grace and Janey called together. Martha had so much popcorn stuffed into her mouth that a weird sound came out. It made the girls giggle.

“Stories always start out: Once upon a time, so:


Once upon a time, a long time ago, on this very farm. Mommee and Poppee (my aunt and uncle) adopted a boy named George. In time, they thought they’d like to adopt another child. They asked George what he thought about that idea.

“About you and Poppee adopting another kid,” George said as they sorted out the clean laundry. He was 12 and felt very good about helping make this serious family decision. “I don’t want anyone older than me and she should be a girl.”

After long months of waiting and many trips to Ecuador, 3 year old Marionella came to live with George, Mommee, and Poppee.

“Marionella doesn’t speak English yet,” Mommee said. “They spoke Spanish in the orphanage. But, I’m sure she’ll learn English quickly.”

“Cool!” George said, “I’ll use my Spanish on her. I wondered what good it would be, now I know.”

“O.K. We can use both, for a while,” Mommee said, brushing Marionella’s long brown hair.

Marionella sat on Mommee’s lap and didn’t say anything.


When they tucked Marionella into her twin bed at night, Mommee said kissing her forehead, “Good night, Marionella. I love you.”

Poppee said  giving her a hug, “Sweet dreams, Marionella.”

George said  giving her a high-five, “Hasta manana, Marionella.”

Marionella looked at them with her big, serious, brown eyes but didn’t say anything.


Every morning, they’d name the clothes she wore.

“Marionella, this is a shirt,” Mommee said as she helped Marionella button up the front.

“Marionella, these are your jeans,” Poppee said guiding her foot into the denim pant leg.

“Zapatos,” George proudly said flipping one sneaker at her.

Marionella caught the sneaker but didn’t say anything.


The next week, Mommee took Marionella to Nursery School.

“Good morning, Marionella,” her nursery school teacher said,

“bonjour,” said a little girl clutching a cloth doll.

“Guten morgen,” said a boy playing with blocks.

Marionella let go of Mommee’s hand but didn’t say anything.


Day after day, week after week, they would teach her new English words.

“This is chicken, Marionella.” Mommee said stabbing a piece with the fork,

“This is rice, Marionella,” Poppee said scooping up a spoonful

“Drink your leche, Marionella,” George said between gulps of his own milk.

Marionella ate her dinner but didn’t say anything.


Night after night, at tuck in time, Mommee said, “Good night, Marionella. I love you.”

Poppee said, “Sweet dreams, Marionella. I love you.”

George said, “Te quiero, Marionella.”

Marionella hugged Mommee and said, “I love you.”

She hugged Poppee and said “I love you.”

And she hugged George and said, “I love you.”

Mommee, Poppee, and George were so surprised to hear Marionella say something, and to say it in English. It called for a group hug, so that’s what they did with laughter and tears.”

“And, do you know what?” Grandma Kate asked Grace, Janey, and Martha.

“What!” they asked.

My cousin, “Marionella, hasn’t stopped talking yet!”


“Your story ended just in time,” Grandpa Carl said, standing at the screen door. “Dinner’s almost ready.”

“Well then,” Grandma Kate said getting out of her rocking chair. “Let’s have our own group hug and head in to wash up.” So, that’s what they did



24 Nov 2016, 10:53am

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“…Eyeballs…” Bk I: 7. Zack and Zoe

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 I:  The Early Years

#1.  If You Can’t See…

#2. Elytra, The Ladybug

#3. The Night Search For A Missing Puppy


#5. Morton, The Mockingbird

#6. Grace, Martha, and The Sleep Shirt Solution

#7. Zack and Zoe

“I’m so glad you’re here, Zack,” Grandma Kate said, hugging him and ruffling his brush cut, as her two dogs licked his face.

“After I have a drink of water, can we go see the new kittens in the barn?”  Zack asked.


“I love being here on the farm with you and Grandpa Carl,” Zack said, skipping along beside his Grandma as she held her guide dog Finchlee’s harness with her retired guide dog Wheaton following them to the barn.

“They are so little,” whispered Zack. “They don’t even have their eyes opened!  I wish I had another drink of water so I could stay here longer.”

“Grandma,” Zack said with alarm.  “What’s the matter with Wheaton?  She’s shaking and jerking all over.”

“Oh, Dear Gussie. She’s having a seizure,” Grandma said.  “Move the bucket away from her head.  Let’s wait quietly next to her.  When she stops shaking, we’ll go get you your drink and Wheaton her pill.”

“I’m too tired to go to the barn,” Zack said.

The kittens may have opened their eyes, but, Zack couldn’t keep his own eyes open.

“Are you feeling okay?”  Grandma asked Zack, when she found him curled up on the hearth rug next to Wheaton for a second nap.

“Zack?  It’s your turn to move your checkers.  Zack, can you hear me?”  Grandpa asked.  “You were zoned-out.”

Full of concern, Grandpa remembered that he used to have that happen to him, too.  Even now, he had to keep his weight down and eat right.

“Zack, drink some juice,” He said and after a few minutes, they could play checkers again.

“Grandpa, I beat you at your own game,” Zack laughed.

“Zack,”  Dr. Brittany told them after his appointment.  “The tests we did show us that your body has a problem using sugar.  It’s called Diabetes.”

In the hospital, Zack’s finger was pricked to check the sugar level in his blood.  He needed shots of insulin.

Zack saw a girl with a kind of helmet on her head.  Her name was Zoë

“I hate this helmet, but it protects my head when I have a seizure,” Zoë told him. She needed medicine to control the seizures.

“Hey, “Zack said, a week later at play group. ”Do you want to meet Zip?”

“Who is Zip?”  Savannah asked.

“Is he your pretend friend?” John asked.

Zack pulled up his shirt. “Look what I have,” Zack said, pointing to a small box on his belt.

“It’s a cell phone,” Savannah said.

“It’s a beeper,” John said.

“No,” Zack said.  “It’s an insulin pump.

“Zack,” Zoë said happily, “you got a pump.” and thought:  I wish I could have a little box instead of this big helmet.

“Right, Zoë,” Zack said putting his shirt back down.  “Now I can eat birthday cake and not get sick.  I can run and play without getting tired.  And I don’t need any more shots.”

Zoë wondered if she’d ever get rid of her ugly helmet. Zack hugged her and went over to the Star Wars center.

The next morning, Zack said, “Mommy, I finished my breakfast and I’m ready to go to school.”

After he’d told his Mom the numbers on his insulin pump, she pushed the little button, and they walked to Zack’s Kindergarten.  He happily sang a little song as he skipped along beside her.

They met Zoë and her Mom walking to school and joined them.  Zoë hoped Zack would notice that she didn’t have on her helmet.

At school, Karrah asked, “Zack, what’s the lump under your shirt?” as they put their lunch boxes in their cubbies.

“It’s Zip,” Zack said and explained his insulin pump.

“Why do you call it Zip?”  Sarah asked.

“Zip.  No more shots!”  Zack laughed.

“Boys and Girls, this is Zoë,” Miss Alexandra said.  “Her family has just moved here, so let’s come to our circle time on the rug and get to know each other.”

Zack and Grace sat together. “Can I feel your pump?”  Zack’s cousin, Grace asked reaching out her hand.  Zack knew she was blind and couldn’t see anything.

“Okay, but don’t push any buttons,” he said and put her hand on the pump.

Suddenly, Zoë flopped over, shaking all over.  Zack went over to move the chair away from her head, then, quietly sat on the rug next to her until she stopped shaking.

“Did you forget to take your pill today?”  Zack asked, remembering how Grandma Kate gave Wheaton a pill after her seizure in the barn.

Later, “M-m-m,” Grace said at lunch. “It smells like I have a cream cheese and black olive sandwich and a dill pickle.  What do you two have?”

“Oh yum,” Zack said.  “I have peanut butter and the strawberry jam Mom and I made on whole wheat bread with carrot curls.  My favorite,” Zack said.  “Zoë, what do you have for lunch.”

“I have a cheese stick and turkey roll-up,” she said, quietly, wishing she didn’t have to put her Helmut back on.

After lunch, Miss Alexandra said, “Zack and Zoë, It’s time to go down to the nurse’s office.  Your partner today is Tyler.”

“Hello, Zack, Zoë, and Tyler,” the nurse said. “Zoë, let’s start with you and your blood pressure.  Very good.  Here is your pill so you won’t have another seizure today.

“Zack, what are your numbers now?”

“7 dot 7,” Zack read from the pump. “That’s pretty good, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” the nurse said. “Someday a computer chip will do what your pancreas should do. For Zoë, a different chip will help control her brain synapses.”

“Yeah, that’d be great. Thanks ,” Zack and Zoë said as they left to go back to class with Tyler.

“What are you doing?” Zack exclaimed when they walked into the classroom.  His eyes were wide with surprise to see all the children wearing small boxes: in their sock top, stuck in their waistband, or bumping out their shirt pocket. Grace wore her box as a necklace.

“Why do you all have boxes?”  Zack asked.

Zoë and Tyler shared a smile.  They were in on the secret box project, but, she too was surprised to see all the children had on a balloon ring that looked a lot like her helmet.

“We wanted to have our own Zips and helmets,” Matthew said. “Now we can all be cool like you.”

“Oh you guys!  You’re the best friends ever,” Zack said grinning from ear to ear, as they all lined up for recess.

Holding Tyler’s hand, Zoë was grinning, too, because she felt the same way Zack felt:  happy and accepted.


18 Nov 2016, 5:12am

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“…Eyeballs…” Bk I: 6. Grace, Martha, and The Slee pShirt Solution

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 I:  The Early Years

#1.  If You Can’t See…

#2. Elytra, The Ladybug

#3. The Night Search For A Missing Puppy


#5. Morton, The Mockingbird

#6. Grace, Martha, and The Sleep Shirt Solution

Five year old Grace sat near the open window listening for car tires on her gravel driveway. She’d put on her favorite tee shirt with the embroidered flowers around the neck. Her shorts were the same pale blue of the bumpiest flowers. She carefully strung macaroni, bells and buttons for a friendship necklace to give her cousin. The cousin she’d never even met.

“How old is Martha, Mom?” She asked as she recognized the whiff of her mother’s perfume passing by.

“You are three days younger than Martha,” her Mom said placing the vase of peonies on the dining room table. “My sister and I were pregnant at the same time.”

“If she is family,” Grace asked, jingling a little bell and pausing her project just long enough to pat the sleeping puppy at her feet, “how come we’ve never had parties with them?”

“Well, the Army keeps its people on the move.” Her Mom answered. “They are only here on a four week leave. Tonight they’ll be with us. Other nights they’ll be with the rest of the family.”

“Why does…?” she began but stopped as she heard a car on the gravel driveway. “They’re here!”


Grace held Goldie’s leash as the excited puppy pulled her toward the car in the driveway.

The grown-ups hugged and kissed and cried. She felt their wet hugs and kisses but there weren’t any child-size hugs.

Grace felt the excited tug of Goldie’s leash again. The 5 month old Golden Retriever saw Martha pretending to be asleep in the car. Grace followed Goldie’s tug and went over to the open car door with her.

Martha laid very still thinking Grace would never know the difference. Goldie could see her, though and smothered her in wet puppy kisses until she dissolved into giggles.

“Hi,” said Grace. “Are you Martha?”

“Yuck!” Martha said. “Ugh! My lips touched dog lips!  What’s the dumb dog’s name?”

“Goldie,” Grace said. “We’re raising her to be a guide dog. She’s the third one we’ve had. I’ll get a real guide dog when I’m 16.”

“Cool,” Martha said as she got out of the car. She was soon covered with Grace’s parents’ hugs and kisses along with Goldie’s.


Grace and Martha sat at a special table just for kids. It was noisy at the big table as their parents caught up on all the family news.

It was quiet at the kids table.

“If you can’t see,” Martha blurted out,  “how can you eat?”

“Usually I can smell what I’m eating, “Grace said, “and sometimes Mom will tell me what’s on my plate; like a clock.”

“Oh,” Martha smirked and swiped Grace’s pickle chips.


After dinner when everyone was just sitting around, Martha suggested they play Charades. It was a game she and her parents had played often. She was good at it, too.

“Well,” Martha’s Mom said, “let’s do something that Grace can do.”

“I like Charades,” Grace said. “Mom, can I get the game box?”

“You sure can,” her Mom said.

“If she can’t see,” Martha said, “how can she guess at what we are doing?”

“As you act it out, we call out our guesses,” Grace’s Mom answered, “Grace is very good at drawing conclusions. She often beats us to the correct answer.”

Martha did not call out her guesses. She did not like being beaten at the game she had suggested. She especially didn’t like having to wear a macaroni necklace and hid it under the neck of her polo shirt.


When it was time for bed, Grace and Martha put Goldie in her wire crate in the kitchen.

“If you’re so sure you can’t see,” Martha said, “then how can you take care of a dog?”

“Mom always puts Goldie’s food in the same place. I use a cup to scoop the right amount,” Grace said.

“Why can’t she sleep with us?”  Martha wanted to know.

“It’s part of her training,” Grace said. “Mom says this is part of my training, too.”

Their folks came in to say good night when the girls were in new, matching sleep shirts. No one noticed the macaroni necklaces half hidden under the sleep shirts.   “Are you two girls too big for a bed-time story?” Grace’s Mom asked.

“Oh, Mom,” Grace said, “could Martha and I read it to you?”

“Read?” Martha frowned. “How can YOU read THEM a story if you can’t see?”

“Look,” Grace said reaching over to the book shelf near her bed. “You read one page in print, I’ll read one page in braille.”


When Martha thought everyone was asleep, she got out of her cot and went to see Goldie. The puppy was awake and wagging her tail at the sight of someone to play with.

Quietly she unlatched Goldie’s crate and took her out onto the porch. Goldie nibbled the macaroni necklace that peeked above her sleep shirt. Martha took it off and put it on Goldie. She had to wrap it around twice so it wouldn’t fall off.

A sound in the back meadow caught Goldie’s attention. She took off at a run to check it out. Martha called to her but she did not return. Martha was afraid to go off the porch in the dark.

“The dumb dog will be back when it’s hungry,” she muttered and went back to her cot.


Grace was the first one up in the morning. She put a robe over her sleep-shirt and quietly went downstairs to feed Goldie. She felt for the crate’s latch. It was unhooked. She felt for the dog’s familiar soft fur and wet nose. Goldie wasn’t in her crate. She wasn’t in the kitchen. Her leash was on its hook but Goldie didn’t come when Grace called her.

A cool morning breeze came through the kitchen screen door. She knew her Mom always closed and locked that door.

“Mom?” She softly called. “Is Goldie with you?” No one answered.

Grace felt the latch on the screen door.

“Hello,” She said stepping out onto the porch. The morning mist was wet on her cheeks.

“Goldie,” She called. “Goldie, come.”

“Where’s Goldie?”  Martha’s voice made Grace jump.

“I don’t know,” Grace said. “I came down to feed her and she was already out but her leash is on its hook. Do you see her?”

“No,” Martha said. “It’s too foggy to see anything.”

“I’m going to look for her,” Grace sighed.


“Wait, if you can’t see, how can you find her?”

“I’ve been all over the meadow with my long, white cane,” Grace snapped. “Are you coming?”

“No,” Martha whined. “The fog is too thick for me to see anything.”

“Well, I can’t see anything either. Now are you going to help me look for Goldie or not?”

The girls stepped off the porch hand in hand.

Grace swished her cane from left to right and back again. After many steps she heard a clunk and the cane stopped.

“Here is the stone we use for first base,” Grace told Martha. “Goldie, come.”

“First base?”  Martha said in surprise. “How can blind kids play baseball?”

“We play kick baseball. Dad and I use a ball with a beep in it.”  Grace whispered. “Be quiet. Did you hear something?  A little bell?”

“No,” A worried Martha said.

Swish, swish went Grace’s cane again as they moved farther away from the porch and its safety. An eerie light came through the fog as the sun sneaked a peak over the meadow.

“It’s creepy out here,” Martha said. “I’m going back.”  She looked behind her. She had no idea which way was back.

“If it looks creepy,” Grace said,” then don’t look. Count steps with me until we get to the old quarry at the edge of the meadow.”

Swish, swish. Martha held Grace’s hand a bit tighter and closed her eyes.


“Here is the ridge of rock at the edge of the meadow,” Grace said, knowing very well she was not allowed to be this near the old quarry. “Goldie, come.”

“Grace, this is stupid,” Martha said. “Your dumb dog is probably home now. Let’s go back…”

“Sh, I heard something,” Grace said. “Listen. Goldie, come.”

“I don’t hear anything,” Martha said.

“It’s a bell,” Grace said. “No, it’s a whimper. Listen. Goldie, come.”

“I hear it, too,” Martha said. “Where’s it coming from?”


“This way,” and Grace tapped carefully along the ridge of the old quarry. She kept to the grass line, picking her steps carefully. Martha kept in step with her.

“Goldie, come,” Grace said every few feet and then listened for the whimpering and the bell.

They stopped.

“Martha,” she said, “what do you see?  Do you see Goldie?”

Martha was surprised to find she still had her eyes closed!  She blinked them open and said, “Oh, gosh, we’re right at the edge of the quarry. The fog isn’t too bad here but I don’t see Goldie.”

“Lay down on your belly and look over the edge,” Grace told her. “It sounds like we are right next to the sound. Listen. Goldie, come.”

“She’s there,” Martha called from the ground. “She’s on a small ledge. There’s blood on her. She sees me. Her tail is wagging like crazy!”

“I’ve heard the grown-ups talk about trails in and out of the quarry,” Grace mused. “Do you see a way down to her?”

“No,” Martha said. “No, wait. There is one that stops just above her.”


The girls held hands again and slowly made their way down the old quarry path until it stopped short of where the ledge was.

“Goldie, come,” Grace said. Goldie shook her head and whimpered.

“What is wrapped around her nose?”  Martha asked.

“You’re asking me?” she teased Martha” You’re the one with the good eyeballs. What is it?”

“It’s the macaroni necklace,” Martha quietly said. “Mine.”

“Goldie, come,” Grace Said again. “I hear her whimpering and the necklace bells but why doesn’t she come up here?”

“She’s sitting with her paw up,” Martha said. “Her nose is bleeding and her paws too.

Grace laid on her belly and poked her cane down toward the ledge.

“It is an arm’s length more than your cane,” Martha said.

“I’m going down next to her. I’ll push her up to you,” Grace said.

Before Martha could say anything, Grace had felt along the quarry wall and was next to her puppy.

Grace felt Goldie’s wet muzzle. She unwound the necklace and threw it into the quarry. Goldie’s lips began to bleed again but she showed her delight by sliming Grace with kisses.

Goldie refused to put weight on one of her back paws and one of her front paws.

“She’s too heavy for me to push up to you,” Grace said. “I have an idea. Can you come down here with me?”

“If you can do it, I can do it, too,” Martha said.


The adults had come down for breakfast and saw the girls were gone. They thought they were playing with Goldie  outside.

“I’ll call the girls in for breakfast,” Grace’s Mom said, placing a platter of scrambled eggs and crisp bacon  with a basket of buttermilk biscuits on the table.

When there was no answer to her call she said, “It is not like Grace to go so far from the house that she can’t hear my call.”

Grace’s Dad decided he’d best look for the girls before breakfast. He and Martha’s Dad walked all over the yard, not finding a sign of them.

“You don’t suppose they’ve gone exploring in the quarry, do you?” Grace’s Dad wondered.

When they came near the edge of the meadow where the rocks began to show, they stopped dead in their tracks.

The girls were just getting to the top of the old trail, lugging a sack of something between them.


Goldie had been too heavy for Grace to push up to Martha, so, they’d put her in Grace’s over-sized sleep shirt. Then, the girls were able to get a firm hold of the shirt and heft her up the trail.

Goldie’s tail had slipped out the neck-hole and her back legs poked through the sleeves, but she hadn’t fallen out.

The Dads stared in awe and amusement. The girls refused their help. Goldie rode like a queen between her two favorite subjects.

Once back in the kitchen, Grace’s Dad thoroughly checked over Goldie.

“She has only sprained her paws,” He said. “I think she must have landed on the ledge pretty hard. That’s why her nose bled, too. She must have cut her paws when she tried to scramble up off the ledge. The string had cut into her lips when she tried to work it off. I can’t imagine how she got that necklace.”

“She liked it,” Martha said in a shaking voice. “So I put it around her neck.” Then, with tears in her eyes, Martha told everyone what had happened. “I’m sorry, Grace, I didn’t mean to hurt Goldie.”


Grace and Martha gently gave Goldie a bath. She was soon fast asleep under a blanket of sun in front of the window seat. One girl sat on each side of her petting her soft, tan fur. The grown-ups looked over occasionally as they finished their coffee.

Grace remembered her box of macaroni, bells and buttons. It was still on the window seat.

“Martha,” she said, “I’m sorry I threw the other necklace into the quarry. Do you want another one?”

“And I’ll make one for you,” Martha said nodding her head.


The time for saying good-bye came too quickly. Everyone hugged and kissed everyone. Grace felt child-sized arms around her.

“I’ll write to you,” Grace said, hugging Martha.

“If you can’t see,” Martha asked, “how can you?”

“I’ll use my talking computer and print it out, silly,” Grace laughed.

“Mom,” Martha asked as they held hands walking to the car, “can I learn braille so I can write to Grace?”

“Mom,” Grace said as she heard the sound of the tires crunching on the gravel fade away. “I always knew I had a cousin, but now I know I have a new friend, too.”

17 Nov 2016, 5:26am

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“…Eyeballs…” Bk I 5. Morton, the Mockingbird

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 I:  The Early Years

#1.  If You Can’t See…

#2. Elytra, The Ladybug

#3. The Night Search For A Missing Puppy


#5. Morton, The Mockingbird

The next day, as all the campers sat around the last campfire of the week, their councilor, Jessie, said she had another story, but that she needed everyone to help her tell it properly.

So, she started:


Morton flew to the top of the tall Catalpa tree. He had his pick of perches. No one was ever there. He waited a very long time.

Finally, a big Blue Jay flew near screaming, “Jay!  Jay!  Jay!”

Morton repeated, “Jay!  Jay!  Jay!” as fast as he could.

Jessie said we needed to be Morton and copy the Jay’s call, and we did.

The big Blue Jay rudely flew right on past Morton’s tree without answering him.


Morton looked down from his tall perch. He heard the lady whistle for her cat, “Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!”

Morton repeated, “Tweet!  Tweet!  Tweet!” as fast as he could and so did we.

When the big grey cat came to her, she picked him up and took him into the house. Morton wondered if anyone would ever love him like that.


A Robin in the next tree cheerfully sang, “Cheerio!  Cheerio! Cheerio!”

Morton copied him, “Cheerio!  Cheerio!  Cheerio!” as fast as he could and so did we.

The Robin was insulted and flew away. Morton fluffed his steel gray feathers and waited.


He heard the fat bull frog near the goldfish pond belch a loud, raspy “crro-a-k! crro-a-k! crro-a-k ”

That frog might make a good friend, Morton thought. He answered, “Crro-a-k! Crro-a-k! Crro-a-k!” as fast as he could and so did we.

We also laughed, but, Jessie continued: He couldn’t make it sound quite right.

The bull frog hopped away.


Morton was not discouraged, though. He began to practice all of his calls.

He screamed like a Blue Jay, Blue Jay,  “Jay!  Jay!  Jay!” and so did we.

He whistled like the ladywhilstle, , “Tweet!  Tweet!  Tweet!” and so did we.

He sang like the Robin, “Cheerio!  Cheerio!  Cheerio!” and so did we.

He croaked like the bull frog, “Crro-a-k! Crro-a-k! Crro-a-k!” and so did we.

To his amazement, he heard, “Jay!  Jay!  Jay!  Tweet!  Tweet!  Tweet!  Cheerio!  Cheerio! Cheerio!  Crro-a-k!  Crro-a-k!  Crro-a-k!” exactly the way he had done it and so did we.


With a flurry of feathers and a soft breath of air, Millie gracefully landed in the Catalpa tree near Morton.

The quick flash of her white petticoat caught his eye. The perfect way she sang was just the way he liked it.

They sang their hearts out as the bright moon rose above them. Morton had found his special friend.


Grace really enjoyed Jessie’s story about Morton and Millie. She knew that each of the campers had found special friends, too.  Grace, her new friends, and their parents all promised to keep in touch with each other by e-mailing and phone calls.  We all promised to come back next summer to family camp.