2 Dec 2016, 4:00am
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“…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

#4. JUST DUCKY

#5. Morton, The Mockingbird

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

#7. Zack and Zoe

#8. MARIONELLA

.#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

#4. JUST DUCKY

#5. Morton, The Mockingbird

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

#7. Zack and Zoe

 

#8. MARIONELLA

“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

#4. JUST DUCKY

#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

#4. JUST DUCKY

#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.

Thunk.

“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

#4. JUST DUCKY

#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.

 

 

10 Nov 2016, 5:04am
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“…Eyeballs…” Bk1 #4 Just Ducky

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

#4. JUST DUCKY

After the campers washed the sticky s’more’s chocolate and marshmallow off their fingers, they sat along the pond’s grassy banks. The sun warmed their backs as they watched the dragon flies dart across the surface making a humming buzz. Several of the children laughed to see the flashy, little Sunfish  quickly zip  here and there, explaining to Grace they looked like they were playing tag. The line of the campers matching baseball caps, blue camp tee shirts and khaki shorts seemed to reflect the line of ducks calmly paddling on the water.

Story time was one of Grace’s favorite camp activities.  The counselors always used special voices for each character in the story, which often made the campers laugh and, sometimes, cry.

This afternoon, Grace’s favorite councilor, Jessie, said in a serious voice:

Cluck! Cluck! Squawk! Squawk!

They puffed out their feathers. Wings flapped madly.  Dust filled the air. That nasty little raccoon had attacked the barnyard again.  It scared Dame Duck into a panic and she flew away.  Her eggs were getting cold.

The madness knocked Dame Chicken senseless.  All her eggs had been crushed during the run-around.

All the chickens were clucking and scratching, frantically trying to decide what to do.

“We should tell the farmer,” clucked Hen Nancy.

“We should chase after the raccoon,” cackled Hen Patti.

“Well, I think we should all go hide so he can’t find us if he comes back,” lamented Hen Suzie.

“I seem to remember something like this happening before,” said old Nana Duck as she preened a wing trying very hard to remember  whatever it was she was supposed to remember.

 

During their frantic scratching and pecking, six of Dame Duck’s eggs were bumped away from her nest.  Several of the eggs rolled near Dame Chicken’s nest.

One of the chickens stepped on Dame Chicken’s tail feather. rousing her from unconsciousness

“Who stepped on me?” she pecked angrily as her eyes flew open.

Dame Chicken couldn’t believe what she saw.

“How did my eggs get out from under me? Why is everyone so upset?”

She rolled the eggs into her nest and checked each one.

“Hm-m-m, they seem to be larger than my other clutches,” she mused.  “Oh well, I guess perfect practice makes perfect.” She nestled herself over the clutch feeling this was quite an improvement.

 

“What are you all fussing about?        My eggs need peace and quiet to become strong.  Go back to your settings.”

As they heard her calm clucking, the other chickens began to forget why they had been so upset and returned to their own nests to set.

 

Dame Chicken lost track of time as she set on the eggs, rotated them, and patiently waited for them to hatch. At last, the great day came.  She felt one of her babies begin to peck at the shell.

Little by little, the hole got bigger and bigger. The cracks became wider and longer. Finally, her baby was free from his shell. She clucked excitedly over him and was careful not to step on him as she moved to examine another hatchling. Within a short time, all six of the eggs had hatched. She cleaned up the nest. Her babies were sleeping peacefully under her.

“I wish Dame Duck would come back,” she sighed. “I want to share my happiness with her.”

 

Dame Chicken recognized right away that they were bright little peepers.

“Follow me,” she clucked and they did.

“Peck up your seed,” and they did as she showed them.

“Sweep our nest clean,” she said and they did.

“Drink a sip of water,” she clucked but instead, they climbed right into the water tray.

She groomed their fluffy yellow down carefully several times a day. They grew quickly and their fluff began to show signs of real feathers.

“Why don’t their feet look like ours?” asked Hen Nancy.

“Did you mash their beaks?” Hen Patti blurted out.

“My, how dark their new feathers are,” Hen Suzie softly clucked.

“I seem to remember something about that,” quacked   old Nana Duck as she slowly closed her eyes to finish her nap.

 

Dame Chicken admitted to herself that they were different from any other clutch she’d had.

“You are such clever little peepers.      I love you all,”    she crooned to them.      “It doesn’t matter that you look a little different.  Life would be boring if we all looked exactly alike.”

 

Dame Chicken began to take her brood out of the chicken coop to train them in the ways of the world. One day she took them to the farm pond.  Old Nana Duck was dozing in the middle of it.

“You can stand at the edge of the cool water and get a drink,”   Dame Chicken said as she dipped her beak into the water.     They watched her for a split second.  Then stepped up to the edge of the water.  They kept on walking until they were paddling!

“Oh, Dear Gussie,” Dame Chicken exclaimed running back and forth on the bank in exasperation.      “Nana Duck! Nana Duck! Save my babies!”

Old Nana Duck opened a sleepy eye as the babies swam to her. “Well, isn’t this just ducky? There are some things you never forget.”

Dame Chicken’s fear turned to pride as she saw how well her brood could follow old Nana Duck.

“If only Dame Duck could see us now. They are such clever little peepers.”

 

The campers cheered and clapped as Jessie ended her story. The  tame ducks must have thought the clapping sounded like quacking and came up onto the bank. The campers held pieces of bread on their open palms to let the little ducks snatch up the snack.  Grace delighted in feeling the cool little beaks peck her hand for the bread before they waddled back into the pond with little splashes and quacks of thanks.

 

3 Nov 2016, 3:03am
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“…Eyeballs…” Bk1 3. Nighte Search For A Lost Puppy

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

“I don’t need that stupid cane!” 5-year old Grace said to her mother. Grace tucked her hair behind her ears, settled a wiggling puppy on the floor at her feet, and climbed into the van. “We always go to the same camp and do the same things every summer.  I know my way around. Besides, this year I have Wheaton.”

“Wheaton is just our Black Lab Puppy to raise,” Mom said.  “She isn’t old enough to be trained to guide a person who is blind.  You will need your long, white cane.”

“Buckle up!” Dad called over his shoulder. He slipped on his aviator sun-glasses and they were off.

 

They got to the Adirondack family camp in time to take the same walk to the pond they took every night before going to sleep in a tent.

Bedtime came much too soon for Grace, but she climbed onto the cot and snuggled into her soft, warm sleeping bag.  The murmuring sounds of adults talking near the crackling camp fire soon put Grace to sleep.

 

What was that? Grace felt something cold and wet on her cheek! Where am I? She thought.

Wheaton pushed her cold wet nose into Grace’s cheek again and whined. Grace patted Wheaton and listened. All she heard were the night peepers; the water dripping from the maple leaves onto the tent; and the gentle snoring of others in her tent.

“Quiet! It’s night time, you silly puppy.”

Wheaton whined again.

“I know!” Grace whispered.  “I have to take you out.  I’ll go to the bathroom, too.”

Grace slipped her bare feet into her untied sneakers and put on her yellow rain coat. She unhooked Wheaton’s leash.

“I don’t need that stupid cane just to take you out,” she whispered and pushed her long white cane under her cot.

“Wheaton, heel.”

 

When Wheaton finished, they took the path to the latrine. Both of them couldn’t fit into the little bathroom, so Grace hooked the leash on the outside door latch.

“Wheaton, stay.  I won’t be long.”

When Grace came out and reached for the leash, it was not on the door latch.

“Wheaton, come,” Grace said, but

Wheaton didn’t come.

I must find her, Grace thought. She might have gone down to the pond. She really had fun there on our walk.

 

The cool, wet night air closed around Grace as she slowly moved along the stony path. The maple trees smelled damp and moldy.

Grace felt cold mud go over the top of her shoes. She had stepped in a puddle.

She bent over and felt with her hands until she found the edge of the mud.

“Wheaton, come,” Grace called again.  I wouldn’t have to use my hands if I had that stupid cane, she thought.

 

Grace tripped over the grass hump in the middle of the dirt lane. She dragged her foot along the edge of the lane to guide her to the turn off.

Grace held her arms straight out in front of her and moved them back and forth.

“Ouch!” she cried as she hit her hand on the big rock that marked the path to the pond.

“Wheaton liked jumping on and off the rock,” Grace said out loud, trying to be brave. Just then she smelled pine trees and turned into the path leading to the pond. The pat-pat of her feet seemed louder among the pine trees.

“Wheaton, come,” she called.

Her arms were so tired, she could hardly hold them up.

She pulled off her rain hood, took a few steps and listened.

A wet pine branch grabbed her bare ankle and she began to cry.  A sticky cobweb caught on her face. She rubbed it away with the back of her scratched, muddy hand.

The rhythmic song of the night peepers seemed louder with her hood off. It reminded her of the song her mobility teacher used for cane travel.

 

When at last she smelled the fishiness of the pond, she walked slowly until her feet splashed in the water.

As she stood very still and listened, she could only hear the rain falling on the pond.

“Wheaton, come, she called again.

What was that? Yes, it was a jangling sound quite near.  As she felt around for Wheaton and her jangling dog tags, her hand touched a cold slippery log.  She quickly pulled away.

Then she heard the jangle again.

She made herself feel along the slimy log.  There was Wheaton.  The leash had caught under the log.

“Oh, Wheaton, ” she cried and hugged the wet wiggling puppy. Wheaton covered Grace’s face with wet kisses.

 

Grace pulled the leash free. As she turned to go, she slipped and fell to her knees. Her hand landed on a long stick. She picked it up.

“It’s not my cane, Wheaton,” she said, “but it should help. My teacher always said, ‘Use your long, white cane to walk fast so you don’t shuffle.’”

Grace moved her stick-cane from side to side along the soft pine path. Now she could keep her tired arms at her sides.

 

Her stick-cane hit the big rock where she had hurt her hand before.

Grace trailed the stick along the grassy edge of the lane.  “Well, it really is easier walking with this stick-cane, Wheaton!” she said.

Suddenly, the end of the stick dropped down. She remembered her teacher saying, ‘If the cane dips down, poke around with the tip to find out if you can step over or around whatever it is.’

This time she didn’t sink in the big mud puddle.

She tap-tapped her way over the rest of the stony path. Left, right.  Left, right.  Grace and Wheaton marched back to the tent.

 

When the birds began to sing in the morning, a sunbeam peeped in through the tent flap to show Grace with her long white cane snug in her sleeping bag.  One muddy puppy lay curled on the floor next to two muddy shoes and a stick.

 

NOTE:  adapted from “The Night Search” by Kate Chamberlin, Illustrated by Dot Yoder, Jason and Nordic Publishers, 1997. “The Night Search” went out of print in 2015 when the publishers went out of business.

27 Oct 2016, 4:08am
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“…Eyeballs…” Bk I. 2. Elytra, the Ladybug

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

Grace not only liked the smell of crayons and paste in her nursery school, she wanted to learn everything about everything. One early fall day, Miss Holmberg and the Mothers volunteering that day, took the children on a walk around to the back of the school building and onto the Nature Trail. Grace and her cousin, Zack were paired up as buddies for the hike.

When they came to a grassy clearing in the woods, Miss Holmberg had everyone sit on the logs they found placed in a circle.

“Put on your listening caps,” she said. “What do you hear?”

“Nothing,” Savannah said quickly.

“Then, close your eyes so your ears can hear,” Miss Holmberg suggested.

“I think I hear little peepers singing. Are we near a pond?” John asked.

“I hear leaves knocking together in the trees,” Grace said.

“I hear a bee buzzing,” Zack said with alarm.

“Sit very still and the bee will keep on going,” Miss Holmberg advised. “Not everything in nature makes a sound. I want to share Elytra’s story with you.”.

“Who is Elytra?” Karrah asked.

“I’ll show you.” Miss Holmberg reached into her pocket and pulled out a puppet. She handed it to Grace.

“Grace, you can feel the round back on the puppet, as the others can see the bright red color with black dots on its back,” she said. “Now, put your hand into the glove part of the puppet, Grace.”

“Hey, it’s got legs!” Fred yelled in excitement.

“It’s a ladybug!” Martha said. “Cool.”

“Yes, it’s a ladybug puppet,” Miss Holmberg agreed.

“This glove has six fingers, but, I don’t have enough fingers,” Grace said.

“That’s because insects have six legs,” Miss Holmberg said. “We’ll put this tissue in the sixth leg so Elytra looks right.”

“Ladybugs are all around here; not making a sound. I have a story about Elytra, The Ladybug.”

 

 

Elytra could not remember what had happened or where she was when she woke up. Her head pounded and she was starving.

“A tasty aphid would be good, about now,” she thought.

As she Looked around the garden, other ladybugs slowly tested their legs and wings.

“Elytra is the name given to the 2 front, false wings or shell that covers the true wings used for flying,” Miss Holmberg explained.

Two ladybugs flew up and were carried off by a puff of summer wind. She saw another one get snatched out of the air by a swallow. Elytra wanted to go home, but where was home?

She remembered that all the ladybugs had been herded into a small, stuffy box and mailed off. They must have crammed a hundred or more ladybugs into the mailer. It was no way to treat a ladybug. Or a gentleman bug, for that matter either.

“Ladybugs are not native to every state,” Miss Holmberg said. “They are raised on Ladybug farms and are shipped by mail to those who place an order.”

The mailer sat in the post office for almost four days. Then in the mail box at the end of the lane for two days. The jostling she’d gotten in the boy’s bike basket when he finally did pick them up, was enough to make her pass out. The way he just dumped them all out into the garden was a shock but it brought her to her senses.

Elytra saw well-tended rows of carrots, onions, beets, and beans with patches of tomato, pumpkin and cucumber. Bright mounds of marigolds were scattered in among the vegetables.

“My Grandma Kate plants all kinds of things together so she doesn’t have to weed it so often,” Sarah said. “She says it keeps the bugs confused, so they go away.”

 

A few weeds grew along the board paths, but that didn’t matter to Elytra. Her mouth was like cotton on a humid summer day. She wanted water, but, where was it?

She walked down the board and noticed a round, puddle. Carefully she dragged herself up onto the edge of the pale, the amber liquid smelled awful. Slugs limp bodies floated on it. Their deaths warned her not to drink the beer.

“Beer?” John exclaimed. “My Dad drinks beer, but he doesn’t fall in or drown.”

 

Elytra opened her red shell and spread her true wings and hoped the wind wouldn’t take her too far.

She squeezed a bitter juice out of her leg joints. This liquid is actually blood but once a bird tastes its bitter taste, they won’t feed on Ladybugs.

A swallow caught the bright red of her shell and swooped down to snatch her out of the air, but, at the last minute, he remembered how bad the other ladybug had tasted. He knocked Elytra to the ground.

“Wow,” Zack said. “That was close!”

 

She fell to the dirt. She landed  on  the outer leaf of a fluffy, brilliant yellow flower.

Painfully  she Crawled toward the  main  stem  of  the  dandelion. Sheltered underneath was a small well of water. She took a few cautious sips.

Suddenly, Dirt, roots, pebbles, and Elytra went sailing through the, air. The boy didn’t care how he weeded the garden or what he mashed.

Elytra managed to spread her wings in time to keep herself from smashing against the cement birdbath. she landed on a rock.

The boy’s dog noticed her land and came over to investigate. He sniffed so closely to her, she could feel the smelly wet breath.

“I have a dog,” Fred interrupted. “He stays outside, ‘cause Ma says he’s too stanky.”

 

When the dog excitedly barked, Elytra was tumbled antennae over wing-tips off the rock.

The punky, fragrant rotting wood softened her fall when she Landed flat on her back. It’s moistness felt cool. Her eyes were soothed by the dark wood shielding her from the glare of the sun.

As she kicked her feet and pumped her wings to right herself, she sensed there were other ladybugs nearby.

Elytra search for them. They were Under the bark. she found many of her travel mates hiding from the boy and his dog, hoping they wouldn’t find their hiding place behind the rock and  under the log. She felt safe within the colony. She was home.

 

Miss Holmberg put the puppet back in her pocket and said, “Let’s count with the ladybugs. Each time I say a number, you hold up that many fingers to see hominy ladybugs come to the Ladybug Party.”

Ladybug 1,  say how do you do.  Hold up one finger, Savannah.

Ladybug    2,    has    come    to     play     with     you.

Ladybug  3,  has  climbed  a  tree,

Ladybug  4  sadly skinned her knee.

Ladybug     5     is     hiding     under     the      bark.

Ladybug  6  wants  to be  a  lark.

Ladybug  7  got  stuck  in the hay,

Ladybug  8  doesn’t know what  to say.

Ladybug     9     never     knows     the     time,      and

Ladybug  10   only has  a dime.

Ladybugs  1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8,    9,  10

Do,  come  play again.

Grace and her classmates clapped and laughed as the finger-play ended.

For the next couple of days, the children read books, looked at inter-net pictures and learned more about ladybugs. But, the best time was when they could play with the ladybug puppet with six legs named Elytra.

Science Reference: Coccinella (beetle) septeinpunctata (7 spots)

19 Oct 2016, 4:58pm
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Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

blind-ambition-photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

kathryngc@juno.com

www.katechamberlin.com

“Dream it. Write it. Read it.

 

Copyright © 1996 and July 20, 2016 All Rights Reserved

by Kate Chamberlin

Walworth, NY 14568

 

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

“What do you like about your Teddy Bear Trail Nursery School?” Grandpa asked 4-year old Grace as they waited for Sunday dinner.

“I like the smell of paste, crayons, and peanut butter sandwiches,” she said

“Do you like your teacher?” he asked with a wink.

“Yes. Her curly hair tickles my cheek when she hugs me!” Grace said.  “She waits for me to feel my way from chair, to table, to carpet without rushing me.  Now I know my way around the room all by myself.”

“Do you like having your Mom come in to help the teacher?” he prompted.

“Yup,” was Grace’s quick answer.

 

“Some of the children are curious about how you do things, since you can’t see,” Miss Holmberg asked Grace in nursery school on Monday. “Would it be okay if we talk about how you use your other senses?”

“Sure,” Grace said, so,  at circle time, the questions started flying.

“If you can’t see, how can you tell who is your mother?” Zack asked.

“I can tell my mother by her voice,” Grace said.

“We have a game we can play,” Miss Holmberg said.  “When you feel my tap on your shoulder, say: Hello.  The rest of the children can guess who said : Hello or at least, where it came from.  Ready?  Close your eyes now.  No peeking!”

 

“If you can’t see, how can you know what you’re wearing?” Suzie wanted to know.

“I can tell what I’m wearing by touching my clothes,” Grace said.

“I have three boxes,” Miss Holmberg said, placing them in the middle of the circle. “Each one has something in it that you can wear. Who would like to reach into the first box to tell us what’s inside?  Okay, Savannah and thank you for raising your hand.”

Savannah reached into the box with a very serious look on her face. Then, she flipped her long blonde hair, grinned and said, “It’s a sock.”

David squinted his eyes and reached into the second box and said, “I found somebody’s jeans!”

“I think it is a shirt.”  Janey said with her arm up to her elbow in the third box. “I feel buttons.”

“Very good, “ Miss Holmberg said. “Now, each of you feel your clothes. Do you feel the difference from your shirt to your socks?

 

“If you can’t see, how can you know what you’re eating?” Yolanda asked during Circle Time on Tuesday.

“I can tell it’s a jelly sandwich by tasting it.”

”I’m going to have Grace’s Mom give you a paper plate with a small sandwich on it,”   Miss Holmberg explained. “But, first you must close your eyes and use your sense of taste to tell us what it is.”

“I have a honey sandwich,” Tommy said, licking his fingers.

“Mine is grape jelly,” Jackie said.

“Yuk! I don’t like this peanut butter ,”  Holly said. “It has chunks in it.”

 

”If you can’t see, how can you tell if there is a fire?” Tyler asked at Wednesday’s Circle Time.

“I can tell there is fire by smelling the smoke.”

“Well, I’m not going to light a fire here in school,” Miss Holmberg chuckled.  Instead, Grace’s Mom is going to pass around jars for you to smell.  Remember, to breath into your body to smell something.”

“This one is mint,” Sarah said. “Is it somebody’s chewing gum?”

“Mine is a flower. Maybe a rose,” Janey said.

“Hey,” Fred yelled and sniffed again. “I got dog food!”

 

“If you are blind, how can you read the letter from your Grandma?” Barbara asked as they walked to the Circle Time carpet on Thursday.

“I can read Grandma Kate’s letter because she uses Braille.” Grace said as they sat down  side by side.

Grace’s Mom handed her a stack of cards. At the top, Grandma Kate had Brailled each friend’s name.

“I can feel the bumps that make up the abc’s, Grace said and she called out the letters for each friend’s name until all the Braille alphabet cards had been passed out.

 

“If you are blind, how will you get to school?” Matthew asked on Friday.

“I can get to school by tapping my long, white cane to the bus stop.”

“I tap the tip of my long, white cane left and right,” Grace said as she moved her cane ahead of her feet  to show the children.  “When the tip hits something, I feel around the thing to know which way to keep going.”

Miss Holmberg and Grace’s Mom helped everyone use Grace’s long, white cane to go from a desk to the door, to the carpet.

Suddenly, Fred started to laugh, saying, “I’m trapped in the bathroom!”  All the children laughed with him as Miss Holmberg guided him back to the circle.

 

“If you are blind, how can you tell we are your friends?” All the children wanted to know.

“I can tell you are my friends by the way you love me just as I am.”

“Children,” Miss Holmberg said. “Please stand up and hold hands. As we march around the circle carpet, we’ll learn a new song.”

As they marched, she sang:

Make new friends, but keep the old.

One is silver and the other’s gold.

 

 

 

13 Oct 2016, 4:57am
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Fall Leaves

Fall Leaves

By Dave and Kate Chamberlin

 

 

Five Maple leaves hanging on a tree.

Each as colorful as can be.

 

The green one said, “Oh My, there is rain in the air,

But, I don’t really care.

 

The Yellow one said, “It sure is getting cold.”

And he shivered and shuddered even though his color was bold.

 

The red one said, “Wow! Here comes the snow.

Look at how fast it drifts below.”

 

The orange one said, “ Now that rain is icy sleet,

I’m sure glad we don’t have feet.”

 

The brown one whined, “Don’t you wish you could fly?

Ooooooo went the wind,

And the colorful leaves swooshed into the sky.

 

October 11,2016