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.