16 Mar 2011, 11:29am

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By Kate Chamberlin

I was sitting in my favorite spring chair at our cottage, listening to the cooing of a Morning Dove and the raspy crank of a pheasant interrupt the cacophony of sparrows and warblers singing their hearts out. My thoughts wandered (Yes, yes. That happens often and can be dangerous!)
I guess I feel like a lady-in-waiting, although, when I’m dressed in my grubbies, sweating like a horse as I mop the kitchen linoleum and then try to catch a toddler who has slipped on it, I dont feel like a lady. And for what I’m waiting? I havent a clue.
My thoughts turned to publishing. I was recently asked if I had any new books coming out. I said no, because I felt my two young grandchildren needed me more than I needed to be published. That wasnt the whole truth. My articles have been published a lot and I find the notoriety a little bit embarrassing. I write because I enjoy writing. If it gives people pleasure or a brief smile to make a bright spot in their day, Thats great.
Having said that, I would love to have one of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren discover all the manuscripts, articles and stories I have “on hold”. They would come to know their Mimi — maybe even publish “The Definitive Works of Kate Chamberlin” after I’m gone.
Surely, one of the sections in this tome would be dedicated to the Daughters of the American Revolution. DAR is so much a part of my — their — roots.
They’d scour the numerous articles I’ve written about the Col. William Prescott Chapter (Newark, NY); research my first membership in the Eunice Dennie Burr Chapter (Fairfield, CT); carefully glean information from the scrapbook of my early years in the CAR (Deerfield, IL); and of course, scrutinize all the hand-written genealogy records my grandmother so painstakingly kept.
They would discover that their old blind Mimi was an educated, professional woman who had traveled the world and chose to live in our United States of America. They’d comprehend how integrated the DAR motto of God, Home and Country was throughout her life-time. The ideals and goals of the Daughters were her own goals… and, before my waxing went weepy, my thoughts turned to the Statue of Liberty.
She seems to be a lady in waiting, too. She’s been waiting a heck of a lot longer than I have, yet, amidst the turmoil going on around her, she remains steadfast with her admirable goals of graciously welcoming the down-hearted into domestic peace and tranquility. Her feet are firmly planted on American soil with the waves of freedom lapping near-by.
Alas, I can feel the waves lapping at my own feet…oh, Dear Gussie! That lapping is a DODAR licking my ankles. Abruptly my thoughts turn to more current issues, like getting his breakfast kibbles. Then, when my boys wake up, we’ll hang our American flag on the front of our home with a reverent salute to Independence Day, 2002.
Yes, yes. We’ll even say our Pledge of Allegiance!
(NOTE: The husband of a D.A.R. member is a AHODAR, so, it makes perfect sense that a dog of a D.A.R. member is a DODAR.)
A version of this article appeared in my column Cornucopia on July 4, 2002 Wayne County Mail Newspaper.
Copyright © 2002,2011 by Kate Chamberlin

11 Mar 2011, 11:00am

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Flashes and Paisley Prints

Flashes and Paisley Prints
By Kate Chamberlin
During the mid-1980’s, as I was going blind, I experienced numerous episodes of dark blobs and strings meandering in my eyes. I resisted the impulse to try to catch “the flies”, as they sometimes appeared to be. The doctors labeled the blobs: Floaters and said some floaters are common and natural in even healthy eyes.
When I told my eye doctors about the flashes, spirals and swirling crescents, they would pat my shoulder and say: I’ve heard of that in a few patients, but I don’t know what is happening.
I didn’t tell the doctors about the images of paisley prints, but I often thought I’d love to be able to transfer the unique patterns and colors I experienced onto fabric for clothing and drapes, and even wallpaper. Sometimes the pattern was more a hounds-tooth in vivid colors, but my favorite was the paisley patterns.

I recently found out that the flashes have a name: photopsia. It is defined as: a subjective sensation of lights, sparks or colors due to electrical or mechanical stimulation of the ocular system.
Now there is also a name for my beautiful patterns: Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS). Charles Bonnet, an 18th century Swiss naturalist and philosopher, is credited as the first person to describe the syndrome. Like his grandfather, who had low vision and saw men, women, birds and buildings he knew were not there, Charles experienced similar phantom visions when his own vision deteriorated around 1760.
it is more likely to appear if you have visual acuity between 20/120 and 20/400. If your vision falls within these parameters, your eyes still have a great deal of power, even though they aren’t receiving or sending as many images as previously. when retinal cells become impaired and are no longer able to receive and relay visual images to the brain, the visual system begins firing off images on its own. Hallucinatory episodes can vary in duration from seconds to hours, and the symptoms can be present from days to years.
Charles Bonnet Syndrome is no more than a side effect of vision loss. The six criteria for Charles Bonnet Syndrome (outlined by Naville in 1873 – and still applicable today) can help you determine whether or not you are experiencing phantom vision. Ask yourself whether the images you see have the following six characteristics:
“1. They occur when you are fully conscious and wide awake, often during broad daylight.

2. They do not deceive you; you are aware that they are not real.
3. They occur in combination with normal perception. For example, you may see a sidewalk clearly but find it covered with dots, flowers, or faces.
4. They are exclusively visual and do not appear in combination with any sounds or bizarre sensations.
5. They appear and disappear without obvious cause.
6. They are amusing or annoying but not grotesque.
There is no known cure or treatment, but it is important for you and others to know you’re not crazy!

Since ophthalmology has paid so little attention to Charles Bonnet Syndrome, many doctors don’t realize how common it really is, and some may not be familiar with it at all.
Oh, dear Gussie! You can bet MY doctors are going to hear about this syndrome!
SOURCES: (1) The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight, written by Lylas G. Mogk, MD, and A4arja Mogk, PhD, Published by The Ballantine Publishing Group (2003).
(2) excerpt from the Fall 2004 Newsletter from the Lighthouse International, NY, NY: “I See Purple Flowers Everywhere: The Many Visions of Charles Bonnet Syndrome’ by Lylas G. Mogk, MD, and Marja Mogk, PhD; with Carol J. Sussman-Skalkal CSW, MBA.
(3) web-site hits: American Foundation for the Blind and Royal National Institute of the blind; October 6, 2004.
(A version of this article first appeared in my column Cornucopia on 10/20/2004 Wayne County STAR Newspaper; and Matilda Magazine, March, 2011.

4 Mar 2011, 11:07am

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I rose early one cool summer morning and took my mug of instant orange capucchino out onto our porch. The birds were rather twitterpated, but all else was quiet. Wheaton, my guide dog, was like a warm blanket on my feet while the mug of coffee warmed my fingers. The sweet, hot liquid tasted good and my thoughts began to wander.
I traveled a lot as a young woman. I played in the dirt with dusty Mexican children as their mother and aunts wove the beautiful sarape that hangs in my game room; I marveled at the huge wedding in Canada where everyone was actually related to each other; I recoiled in horror to find I was sharing my bed in Portugal with cockroaches; I felt my heart palpitate when La Tuna in Spain serenaded me beneath my balcony window; I had my picture taken with the monkies on Gibraltar; and I felt more than nervous walking around the market place in Tangiers.
My Dad often said he wanted me to travel as much as I could, so that if I was ever in a position where I couldn’t “get out”, I’d have a lot to think about. He was a very wise man.
After all is said and done, I choose to live in America. Call me old-fashioned, maybe even a prude, but I am proud to be an American.
I admit I feel goose bumps when I hear the fife and drum music during a parade. I stand when I sing the national anthem and I get really ticked when humanoids burn the American flag.
I suppose you could call me the melted pot . I have seven different nationalities in my ancestry, and yet, I don’t label myself Swedish-American or French-American, etc. Only in America do we have the freedom to use the labels African-American or Japanese-American. Perhaps only the Indians could use Cherokee-American or -Seneca-American. Everyone else is American with varying cultural flavorings.
I remembered an article Jack Fleischer, the Co-ordinator of Honor America, wrote to Ann Landers (D&C, June 13, 1998) on a little known law that mandates a 21-day salute from June 14 to July 4th to honor our American flag and the patriotism it represents. He had suggestions for special activities to do during the period of Flag Day to Independence Day.
Then My thoughts wandered to cool summer mornings at my grandmother’s home in Connecticut. She was a dedicated member of the Eunice Denny Burr Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Each morning we would put the heavy standard bearing the large American flag into its bracket on the side of the house. It was up tall and we had to carry the stool from the kitchen out with us. When our flag was snuggly in its holder, we’d stand back and salute. Each evening we’d bring the flag in with just as much solemnity and ceremony. It was part of being at Nana’s.
I still give a salute when I put up or take down my flag. When my neighbors children are here, I encourage them to assist me and I hope to encourage my grandchildren to respect the American flag, too.

“Kate,” my husband said coming out onto the porch, breaking into my revery. “What are you doing?” he asked sleepily.
Not wanting to have him think I was a sentimental old fool, I said, “I’m waiting for the sunrise.”
“Kate,” he chided and kissed me on the cheek, “you’re facing west.
Oh dear Gussie, only in America!

2 Mar 2011, 11:50am

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Walworth-Seely Public Library: Zingerella

Zingerella, named 1998 Library Director of the Year
Mary Zingerella is one of the people who works in our neighborhood. Mrs. Zingerella came on board as the Director of the Walworth-Seely Library in September, 1998.
She brings with her a zip for life, vim for literacy and a fierce vigor for libraries.
Her love of libraries was kindled early by her hometown librarian. Mary signed up for her first library card when she was only 7 years old.
“I thought the library was a fun and appealing place to hang out,” she told me during our telephone interview. “My mother read a lot to me, too.”
Mary earned her Bachelor degree from Gennesseo (the last class to be able to receive the Library degree) and went onto a Master’s degree in Library Science.
Mary met her husband, Anthony, when she was attending Mt. Morris Central High School. Being a small school, everyone knew everyone else and she needed a ride over to visit her sister, who had been in a car accident. Tony offered to drive her and has been a “driving force” ever since. They were married July 18, 1970. He is a Vietnam Vet and currently employed working on the computers at Lisk in Clifton Springs.

Mary and Tony’s daughter, Vivian Renee, and three grand-children, 7 year old Tina, two year old Erica and one year old Eddie, currently live in Rome, NY.
Their son, Michael, lives with them in Shortsville and works in a Prime Outlets cosmetics shop in Waterloo.
Rounding out her family are Dumb Fred, a cat with medium length hair; Buddy, a short haired cat; Sasha, a 9 year old German Shepherd; and Sebastian, a mixed breed A puppy from Hell.
It isn’t difficult to understand why Mary was chosen the Fingerlakes Library System’s 1998 Library Director of the Year. Her many years of working with the Girl Scouts, Humane Society and, especially, her commitment to Literacy Volunteers have shown her how important to the community public library’s out-reach programs are.
“I think my contribution is that I am a clear proponent of libraries, the Youth task group in Seneca county affecting families and children, coordinating agencies working in the county, and writing a Parent and Child grant.”
She is quite the public speaker and not shy about going before a board to tail twist for monies to fund her projects. She’s even been on Cable Channel 12!
“I’m a strong proponent of library programs,” she effervesced. “I want to help people understand that the library is more than a book depository.”

“I’d like to make better use of the electronic resources,” she stated referring to LAKEnet, a project funded by BOCES that will bring three high-speed inter-net lines into the Walworth-Seely Library. “it is our policy to have open access–no filters on our inter-net lines–just as we do with our books in print.”
The next time you’re in the library, make a point to stop by the counter to say hello to Mary. She’s anxious to meet you.
Thank you, Mary Zingerella. You are now a Walworthian with the accent on worth.
(NOTE: A version of this article appeared in my column Cornucopia, 10/14/1998 Wayne County STAR. Copyright © 1998, 2011 by Kate Chamberlin)

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