29 Jun 2017, 4:25am
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“Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?” Book IV: Grandma 48. So Many Flowers

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 IV:  Grandma Grace

#43. Charles and David

#44. Grandma Grace’s S’mores

#45. Green Trillium In May

#46.  Search For Boy And Dog

#47.  The Hollow Tree

#48. So many Flowers

“Well, at least you didn’t sprain anything this time,” Grandma said. “While we’re here, let’s see if there are any spring flowers left and find some of the summer wildflowers.”

They found that the trillium were all gone, but the Blue Coshes had set clusters of little, blue berries.

“Sarah, look at these,” Liam said. “Weird!”

“Grandma,” Sarah, said,” It has small, whitish, speckled berry clusters on really tall leafy stems. What are they?”

“That sounds like the False Solomon’s Seal,” Grandma said. “The little berries will turn red in the fall.”

As they passed out of the wood’s canopy, the cicada reclaimed their territory with a loud, raspy rattling racket. The sunlight blazed upon the meadow full of Daisies, Black-eyed Susan, Mouse-eyed Hogweed, Joe-Pye Weed, Milk Weed, and feathery grasses making a beautiful tapestry of color that shimmered as a gentle wind sent them all into motion.

“Grandma, can I dig up and take some of the wildflowers home for my souvenir this time?” Liam asked the next day.

“The drumlin woods was carved out by the glacier and the bog has unique acid properties that these wildflowers thrive on. If you took them home, they would probably die,” Grandma said. “How about using Granddad’s digital camera to shoot some photos to take home?”

For Sarah’s souvenir, she chose one of the pitchers from Grandma’s collection. It was a short, squat pot with a raised picture of a Pitcher Plant on one side.

Soon they were both asleep in the backseat of the car. And, yes, Liam’s pile of wildflower photographs scattered onto the car floor, just like the wild flowers on the floor of the Drumlin Woods.

 

kathryngc1@verison.net

26 Jun 2017, 10:14am
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“He! You Got Eyeballs In There?” Book IV: Grandma 47. The Hollow Tree

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 IV:  Grandma Grace

#43. Charles and David

#44. Grandma Grace’s S’mores

#45. Green Trillium In May

#46.  Search For Boy And Dog

#47.  The Hollow Tree

“Mom, I can’t find my hiking boots,” Liam hollered, trying to throw things into his tag-along. “Do you have my bathing suit?”

His big sister Sarah, also known as Princes, had packed her suitcase the night before except for the wildflower book she was now reading. It was the one Grandma had given her last spring.

“Mom,” she asked, “do you think we’ll have time to go see Golden Valley and Trillium Heaven before the Fourth of July party begins?”

“Liam your boots are on the boot board. Your swim suit is in your bottom drawer.” Mom said calmly. “Yes, Sarah, I suspect Grandma will go hiking with you again. She goes whenever there is someone to go with her. In her last e-mail, she said that Peyton does really well staying on sidewalks, but the scents on the trails distract her.”

Once again, Liam fell asleep in the car. He woke up to the smell of old polished wood and sand in his bed. The smell of sausage cooking caused him to spring out of bed, dress in a flash, slide down the banister, and land with a thud.

“Good morning, Lazy Bones,” Grandma said even before he entered the kitchen. I thought I heard you coming.”

Peyton trotted over to him, her back-end wiggling and wagging a hearty greeting.

“I’ve cooked all the sausage and the waffles, Mr. Bed-head,” Sarah announced.

“I think I’ll have cereal,” he mumbled, but dug into four squares of waffles with homemade strawberry jam and sausage. “May I take Peyton to the pond, Grandma?”

“No, she needs to stay with me,” Grandma said, “but, if you wear this whistle on the lanyard, you can go by yourself. If you need help, blow it. After I finish the Deviled Eggs, Sarah and I are going to carve a watermelon into a basket for our fresh fruit bowl. Then, we can go on a hike.”

“Okay,” Liam said, bussed his dishes, and was gone with the whistle on a lanyard around his neck.

“That basket of fruit looks good enough to eat,” Sarah joked when they were finished.

“Good. That about wraps it up now, we just need to wait for the rest of the family to…” Grandma stopped and listened.

“I think I heard Liam’s whistle,” grandma said, reaching for her straw hat.

Grandma had a firm grip on Peyton’s harness as she and Sarah hurried toward the pond, swishing passed the bright orange Day-lilies crowding in on the dirt lane. The bees buzzed from flower to flower as the mosquitoes whined near their ears and dined where-ever they could. The tall grasses and Purple Loosestrife could have hidden a fallen log or, just as easily, a fallen boy, but they heard the whistle coming from over nearer the field where the Marsh Marigolds used to be.

“Grandma, they were so beautiful last spring” Sarah said. “Now, there’s nothing left of them.”

“Do you see a big yellow daisy type of flower with a huge dark center?” Grandma asked.

“Yes,” Sarah said, “what are they?”

“They are called Black-eyed Susan’s. Legend has it that she wandered everywhere until she found her true love Sweet William. They are usually found growing together” Grandma stopped short.

Another sharp whistle urged them on to the drumlin woods. Going from the bright sunlight of the meadow into the dark woods, Sarah couldn’t see anything even with her eyes wide opened, but Grandma said, “It’s coming from up in one of the trees. Do you see one with a trunk base that looks like an elephant’s foot?”

“Yes,” Sarah said after her eyes adjusted to the darkness. “It’s over to our right.”

“Good. Now do you see an opening at its base?” Grandma asked.

“Yes. Why?” Sarah asked.

“That is the hollow Beech tree I’d told Liam about. My guess is that he’s stuck up inside it,” Grandma chuckled, as the shrill blast of the whistle confirmed her suspicion.

Grandma talked Liam down by explaining how to work his shoulders to inch back down the hollow trunk to safety.

“I almost got all the way up to where the light was coming in,” Liam said. “It was really cool, until I tried to get back down. An ant dropped onto my face and stuff started to break off and I got scared.”

 

 

22 Jun 2017, 6:18am
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“Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?” Book IV: Grandma Grace 46. Search For Boy and Dog

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 IV:  Grandma Grace

#43. Charles and David

#44. Grandma Grace’s S’mores

#45. Green Trillium In May

#46.  Search For Boy And Dog

“Let’s start looking for them down by the pond,” Grandma said and plopped her broad brimmed straw hat on her curly gray hair. She held Sarah’s elbow as they stepped off the porch.

“I suspect Liam would try to catch a few frogs and I know Peyton loves to swim,” Grandma said. But after they’d walked down the lane to the pond, Liam and Peyton were nowhere to be found.

“Peyton, come,” Grandma called, but Peyton didn’t come.

Sarah and Grandma walked on past the pond, swatting mosquitoes as they took the path around the bog.

“M-m-m-m” Grandma said, taking a deep breath. “Just smell that bog. Be careful to stay on the path. I’d hate to smoosh any of the little wildflowers. Some of them are really rare.”

“There are so many yellow flowers here. They don’t seem rare. What are they?” Sarah asked.

“These are Marsh Marigolds. Granddad and I call this our Golden Valley. If we take the path to the right, it will take us to the drumlin woods.”

Sarah and Grandma entered the trail in the woods.

“How did you know we were in the woods?” Sarah asked Grandma.

“Well, I smell the decaying, wet leaves from last year and feel the coolness of the budding Maple and Beech trees. Do you see Liam and Peyton or their footprints in the soft earth?”

“No,” Sarah said.

“Peyton, come,” Grandma called again. They both heard the dog’s single bark and Liam’s faint, “Over here.” As Peyton bound into view.

Liam’s tear-stained face looked up at them from the nurse log he was sitting on. “I tried to catch a chipmunk and slipped on the leaves, hurting my ankle. I tried to get your dumb dog to go home, but she wouldn’t go.”

Grandma knelt down and gently felt Liam’s ankle. “It’s a little puffy, but there doesn’t seem to be any breaks. Let’s peel some cool bark to put on it. Your sock will hold the splint in place. Sarah, can you find a thick stick with a V at one end?”

 

Liam was really disappointed that his sprained ankle kept him from going into town that afternoon. He sat stewing in Granddad’s smelly, over-stuffed chair with an ice bag on his ankle when Grandma came in to see him.

“How are you doing?” She asked as Peyton, wearing her harness, led her to his chair.

“Okay,” Liam replied sullenly.

“When I went to wash your muddy shorts, I found these in your pocket, “she said. “What are they?”

“They’re my Ultimate Trading Cards,” Liam said.

“Do they have pictures on them? Do you trade your doubles or play games with them?” she asked. “I wonder if they’re like my old Yew-Go-Wild cards?”

Liam and Grandma were deep in concentration, trying to remember where the matching wildflower cards were hidden face down on the table, when the others came in from shopping.

“Look, Sarah,” Liam said. “Once we find all the wildflower matches, we add up the points to see who won. Some of the wildflowers are excused…”

“Do you mean extinct?” Grandma said smiling.

“Yeah, extinct,” he agreed. “That means they don’t grow here any more, like the dinosaurs. They’re gone.”

 

In the morning, Grandma soaked his ankle in baking soda water and it felt a lot better, so he, Sarah, and Grandma took Peyton out for a walk.

“Grandma, are any of those wildflowers on your cards around here?” Liam asked.

“Let’s start at Golden Valley,” Grandma said. “Marsh Marigold is one of the wildflower cards. Because of the glacier activity many, many years ago, this area is a bog and several special wildflowers grow here. Do you see how close together the mounds of plants grow? That’s nature’s way of keeping out the weeds. The Marsh Marigold is also called Cowslip.”

“Oh, no,” Sarah laughed. “Now I know why Mom laughs every time she says: I’ve seen ‘Cows Slip’ under the fence!”

They came near the edge of the drumlin woods and Grandma said, “Now look for a little plant that looks like a balcony with a roof over it. Don’t pick it off the stem, but gently lift up the flap. Do you see Jack-in-the-pulpit?

“I found one, but it looks like it has two things, Grandma,” Liam said excitedly. “What’s that called?”

“My mother used to call it Jack-and-Jill-in-the-pulpit”, Grandma laughed. “It is rare to find two of them that have grown so close together that they look like Jack-and-Jill-in-the-Pulpit. She often said that if two people are true soul-mates, they’ll come back to the place they love, growing so close together that they look like one.  Sometimes, their family and friends will circle ‘round them.”

“Granddad and I call this Trillium Heaven,” Grandma said as they went deeper into the woods where the ground was speckled with sun-light splashing through the tree branches. Sarah saw googles of white trillium and red trillium.

“The Red trillium or Wake Robin is also called the Stinky Trillium,” Grandma said, hoping she didn’t sound like she was back in the classroom teaching Botany.

“Grandma, why are there so many colors?” Sarah asked.

“Some think it is because of a disease that turns them different colors. Others say it is just the flower passing its prime,” Grandma said.

“Sarah,” Liam hollered. “Look at this one. It has three leaves and three white petals. There’s no stalk, Grandma, and it’s almost all green.”

“Liam, you’ve found the rare Sessile trillium,” grandma exclaimed. “It’s also called the Toad Shade Trillium.”

 

On the last morning of their visit, Sarah, Liam, and Grandma went hiking. This time, they brought along the wildflower cards. They found matches for Squirrel Corn, Rattle Snake Fern, Skunk Cabbage, Hepatica, Trout Lily, Pitcher Plant, False Solomon’s Seal, Spring Beauty, and Wild Ginger.

On their way back to the farmhouse, a sudden spring downpour came toward them from across the valley.

“Let’s run for that shack!” Sarah hooted, grabbing Grandma’s elbow. “It’s rather dilapidated, but it might keep us dry.”

After the shower had passed, the sunbeams came through the tree branches to form a brilliant rainbow blessing the Golden Valley.

Later in the car as they made the long trip home, Sarah was deep in thought as she read the book Grandma had given her about Jane Colden, the first woman botanist in Colonial America. Sarah knew she’d treasure it forever.

Liam stuck on the last sticker in his new Wildflower sticker book and sorted through the Yew-Go-Wild cards Grandma had given him. “Look, Mom,” Liam suddenly said and shoved a Yew-Go-Wild card at her. “Here’s the Dutchman’s Britches. Grandma said:

 

Dutchmen’s britches hanging in a row.

On tiny clotheslines you grow;

Rain and dew will wash you,

soil and dirt will go away.

Sun will dry you

on a sunny day.

 

“And look at this one, Mom. Grandma said the Native Americans used to use the juice from the Blood Root to paint their faces.”

“Mom,” he said with a yawn, “When can we go back to Grandma’s? She said we’ll look for a Lady’s pink Slipper and she told me where there is a really cool, hollow tree I can explore.”

Another yawn and Liam slumped in his seat belt, fast asleep. His wildflower cards slipped off his lap and scattered on the floor of the car, just like the wildflowers in the bog and drumlin woods of Wayne County New York.

 

21 Jun 2017, 2:47pm
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“Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There? Book IV: Grandma Grace #45. Green Trillium In May

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 IV:  Grandma Grace

#43. Charles and David

#44. Grandma Grace’s S’mores

#45. Green Trillium In May

#45. Green Trillium In May

45. Green Trillium In May

“I don’t want to go to Grandma’s,” 9 -year old Liam stormed instead of packing his tag-a-long suitcase. “Her house smells old and she doesn’t even know about Ultimate Trading Cards.”

“Mom, do you think Grandma Grace will let us play with her new guide dog?” 12-year old Sarah Grace asked, as she completed her packing.

“Besides, it’s boring there,” Liam continued to fuss.

“Liam, is it being at Grandma’s or the long ride that you don’t like?” their Mom asked, not expecting an answer. “Sarah, Grandma’s new guide dog is young, so I’m not sure if she’ll be trained enough for Grandma Grace to let her off leash to play.”

Soon Liam was slumped in his seatbelt, sound asleep and not aware of when his card collection slid off his lap or even when they arrived at the farm.

When his eyes opened, the smell of old, polished wood hit his nose and the feel of sand in his bed scratched his bare feet. Then he smelled the bacon and remembered where he was — Grandma’s!

Liam was surprised to see Sarah turning the bacon and Grandma mixing up the buttermilk pancake batter. Sarah never did any cooking at home, but then again, things were different at Grandma’s.

Grandma seemed too ancient to have such a young dog for a guide.

“Her name is Peyton Grace,” Sarah announced with her princess attitude. “She’s a three-year old yellow lab.”

“Who cares,” Liam growled as he dug into the stack of pancakes with homemade blueberry preserves and bacon. He slipped the dog a piece of pancake, even though he knew Grandma’s guide dogs weren’t supposed to have people food.

After breakfast, the grown-ups were talking as Sarah cut out Early American stencils for Grandma’s projects. Liam was bored, just as he knew he would be. He decided to go down to the pond and check out the tadpoles. Peyton quietly slipped out the screen door with him.

When Grandma called her guide dog, she didn’t come. “That’s unusual,” Grandma said. “I wonder where she is?  Sarah, do you see her?”

“No,” Sarah said. “I think she went out with Liam. Isn’t that okay?”

“No, neither of them asked to go out,” Grandmas said. “Maybe we ought to go look for them. They aren’t really that familiar with the farm and the spring rains have made the bog a bit dangerous.”

 

 

15 Jun 2017, 5:47am
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“…Eyeballs…” Book IV: 44. Grandma Grace’s S’mores

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 IV:  Grandma Grace

#43. Charles and David

#44. Grandma Grace’s S’mores

“Grandma Grace! Grandma Grace! Tell us a story, ple-e-ease,” my three, young grandchildren begged as I sat in my favorite wicker rocker. Paulette climbed into my lap, as  Liam and Gracie sat themselves next to my old guide dog   at my feet on the old farm house porch.

“Well, when I was about your ages,” I began, “Our family went to a camp each summer that had lots of pine trees, a fish pond with tame ducks on it, tents to sleep in, and a camp fire every evening.”

“Were you blind then?” asked Liam, who got the thick curly brown hair from Granddad Ken.

“Yes,” I answered, “but, I’ve  always tried to do things the other kids were doing and my mother knew it was important to let me try things on my own. One evening, I wanted to make my own s’more, just like the other campers did,” I continued. “My mother said I couldn’t do it, because of the open camp fire.”

“Yes, I can. I can feel when I’m too close to the fire,” I said and proceeded to show her. I could hear her talking with other adults, but, she stayed nearby

“I felt the lines on the graham cracker and pushed. The graham cracker crumbled. After several crumbled crackers, I broke one along the lines and set it on the log we used for a bench.

“The chocolate candy bar was easy to unwrap. It was hard to break the candy, but I got it right on the first try!”

“Yea, Grandma Grace,” Paulette cheered. Her bouncing body caused her blonde pigtails to flip up and down, tickling Grandma Grace’s face.

“I set one of the chocolate pieces on the graham cracker that was on the log. Carefully, I put one marshmallow on a prong of my long handled fork.

“I could feel the heat from the campfire, but, the marshmallow fell off before I got it near the flame.”

“Aw, Grandma,” blonde, blue-eyed Gracie sighed.

“I jammed the second marshmallow onto the prong and held it over the fire. After a long time, I pulled it back and felt the marshmallow. It was still cold. I put it back over the fire, lower this time. Poof! It went up in flames and I could smell charred, burnt sugar. I pulled out the fork. The marshmallow fell into the fire.”

“Oh, no,” Liam moaned.

“I needed something to hold my fork up at the right height, so, I found a notched stick and poked it into the ground near the fire, away from the smoky side. The marshmallow toasted up quite nicely. I carried it back to the log. Turned around and, having forgotten what was on the log,  sat on my graham cracker and chocolate. It crumbled and fell into the dirt when I quickly stood up.”

“Grandma!” they all yelled in sympathy.

“Well, I ate that marshmallow plain. I needed something to keep my graham cracker and chocolate safe, so I found the old, iron skillet my mother used to cook our breakfast. I put a new graham cracker and chocolate into it so I could find them without sitting on them or knocking them into the dirt again.

“I placed the skillet next to the notched stick as I roasted another marshmallow. My marshmallow was, of course, perfect this time. I put it on top of the chocolate.

“Holding the marshmallow down with the top piece of the graham cracker, I slowly pulled my fork out. The center of the marshmallow stayed on the fork. When it was cool, I pinched it off and ate the sticky part.”

“Yum!”  Paulette said.

“There’s nothing better than a gooey sticky s’more with melted chocolate dripping all around. I ate the whole mess and several more, too!”

“Grandma Grace,” Gracie asked, “Would you make s’mores for us, please?”

Sure,” I said stretching and waking up my old guide dog, “but, these days I use a microwave!”

 

8 Jun 2017, 4:33am
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“Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?” Book IV: Grandma Grace 43. Charles and David

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

kathryngc1@verizon.net

www.katechamberlin.com

“Dream it. Write it. Read it.

 

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

by Kate Chamberlin

Walworth, NY 14568

 
Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

Book IV: Grandma Grace

 

#43. Charles and David

Charles and his cousin, David were in the same Kindergarten.  Charles’ favorite thing to do when he came home from school was to eat and watch TV.  He weighed a lot and didn’t have much fun or energy.

David’s diabetes made him thirsty and tired much of the time. Sometimes, the insulin pump didn’t work right.

During recess one day at school, Tyler asked David, “Why do you wear that little box?”

“It helps keep me healthy,” David told him.

“Does it hurt?” John asked.

“No,” David said and got in line behind his cousin Charles at the slide.

“Don’t stand behind me,” Charles said to David.  “I don’t want to catch your diabetes.”

“You can’t catch it, Fatty,” David said and pushed ahead of Charles.

“Am not,” Charles said, as David pushed him over and sat on him.

“Are to,” David said “Fatty, Fatty, two by four…”

”Just because you’re a girlie girl,” Charles cried. He rolled David over and sat on him.  “Davy, Davy, skinny as a fox, wired to a little box.”

“Guys,” Tyler yelled. “Cut it out.” The recess bell rang. They brushed themselves off and lined up before they got into serious trouble.

At the end of the school year, Grandma Grace invited both boys to spend the summer with Granddad Ken and her on their farm.

“Where’s the TV?” Charles asked, putting his tag-along near the couch and petting Grandma’s guide dog.

“I’m thirsty.  “Can I see the new kittens?”  David asked.

“Well, Charles, Granddad and I don’t have a TV. We have other things we like to do.  Let’s all have a glass of lemonade, then see the kittens.”

Every morning, after a glass of juice, a granola bar, and a check of David’s blood count, they went with Grandma Grace to weed the garden.

She encouraged the boys to try to pull up the weed with the longest root. Then, they’d try to find the reddest strawberry, the smallest lettuce, longest carrot, fattest potato, skinniest beans and other vegetables planted in the rows they’d just weeded.

“I NEVER PICKED STRAWBERRIES AND DUG POTATOES OR CARROTS AT THE SAME TIME.” Charles said.

Before they knew it, it was time for their big breakfast with granddad who had finished his morning chores.

“Boy, I love these pancakes and jam,” Charles said, helping himself to another stack of whole wheat pancakes.  “May I have more cocoa, please?”

“David, the strawberry jam is made so you can eat it too,” Grandma said.

“Thanks, Grandma,” David said. “May I scoop my own?”

After breakfast, Grandma pushed the little button on David’s pump and THE BOYS went to the barn where Granddad was.

“Grandma said we’re going exploring,” David said, gently petting one of the new kittens.

“So I hear,” Granddad said. “She’ll be along soon with a snack and a plan. “

“And here I am,” Grandma said as her guide dog led her up to them. “Here’s a snack for each of you.”

The boys tucked the carrot and celery sticks, an apple stuffed with peanut butter, DAVID’S EMERGENCY CANDY, and a bottle of water into their day-packs.

They sauntered out of the big barn into the warm sunshine and toward the lane to begin their walk.

“Grandma, what are these tall, lacy flowers?” Charles asked, swishing through the meadow along the lane.

“They smell like carrots,” David said, yanking one up roots and all.

“Those are Queen Anne’s Lace, a member of the wild carrot family,” Grandma said.

Near the edge of the woods, David tripped over a tree root and said,” Wow, look at that!  It looks like an elephant’s leg and toes.”

“That’s the Beech Tree,” Grandma said.

“The bark looks smooth, “Charles said, “but it feels scratchy.”

The boys ran ahead of Grandma to climb a tree or flatten out on their bellies to watch the minnows in the pond. Then, they’d run back to her with a thousand and one questions.

In the evening, they sat around a camp fire out by the old stone wall, roasting marshmallows.

“I see a castle with a dragon near it,” Charles said looking into the campfire flames.

“The clouds are going to make the old man in the moon sneeze,” David laughed, noticing how the wispy clouds floated right under the man in the moon’s nose.

Their day had been full of activity and the boys were more than ready to climb the steep stairs to their beds.

One day, Grandma said, “You know your way around well enough to go exploring on your own. Wear this lanyard with a whistle and blow it if you need help.  Don’t forget your snack.”

Later that afternoon, David found a fallen, hollow log and crawled through it. Charles tried to follow him.

“I’m stuck,” Charles yelled.

“I knew you wouldn’t fit,” David laughed.

“You did this on purpose.  “I’m gonna tell Grandma,” Charles wailed.

David gave in and worked hard to pull away the bark until Charles could get out. Once freed, Charles chased David toward the next tree, where they stopped.

“I don’t feel so good,” David said and slumped to the ground.

“David, David,” Charles called in alarm. “Are you dead?”

“No, but I feel really weird,” David said softly. “Give me one of MY candies.”

“Sorry, I got hungry and ate all of them,” Charles said. He blew his whistle as hard as he could.

SOON GRANDDAD AND GRANDMA HURRIED down THE lane. When they reached the boys, Granddad supported David as Grandma held the little straw of the juice bag to his lips.

“You didn’t eat your snack, did you,” Grandma said, knowing he did not.

“We were having too much fun and forgot,” Charles answered, not admitting he’d eaten all the candy.

“Let’s take a quick trip to see Dr. Alexandra,” Grandma said. “Just to be sure you’re okay.”

The next day, as they, laid on their backs in their tree fort, listening to the birds, Charles said, “I’m sorry I ate your candy. I’m glad you’re okay.,”

“Me, too and I’m glad Grandma still trusts us to go exploring alone,”

“Look at that rain coming across the field,” Charles said. “Run for the barn.” And they did.

“Wow, that lightening was close,” David said as he lay on the loft floor near the open door. “But, that thunder was right in here,” he yelled and put his hands over his ears.

“Let’s get to the house to see if Grandma’s okay,” Charles said, not wanting to admit that the thunder scared him.

“Let’s go,” David yelled and took off splashing through puddles to the house.

In the mud room, they put their muddy boots on the boot board, toweled their hair and put on the dry clothes Grandma had brought them.

“Now what can we do?” Charles asked. “There’s no TV.” “It’s still pouring!”

“Would you help me find something up in the attic,” Grandma said as she and Crackers led the way to the attic stairs.

“Somewhere in this old attic is the wooden checker board Granddad made for your parents when they were your age,” Grandma said.

“Grandma, what’s in these trunks?” Charles asked.

“Wow, look at this old Navy uniform,” David said, pawing through an open trunk.  “Was Granddad in the Navy?”

“Yes,” Grandma said smiling, knowing the boys would now spend hours dry and warm exploring the attic.

The weeks flew by. Summer was almost over.  The boys sat together blowing bubbles on the broad porch of the  farmhouse.

”Your parents will be here soon,” Grandma said, giving them each a hug. “Charles, I think you have lost some weight and grown taller.”

“I ate lots of food from the garden,” Charles said, “but, my pants are too big for me.  I need a new belt to hold them up.”

“I’ll give you one of mine,” David offered.

“And, David, I don’t have to push your pump button so often,” Grandma Grace said.

“Can we come again next summer? This was fun,” David said, blowing a chain of soap bubbles off the porch into the bright sunshine. Each connected bubble shone with a beautiful, miniature rainbow.

“You know, David,” I always knew we were cousins…” Charles started to say.

“…but now,” David finished for him, “we’re best friends, too.”

NOTE: adapted from “Charles and David” by Kate Chamberlin, illustrated by Dean Wroth, published in 2010, Jason and Nordic Publishers, out of print when the publisher went out of business in 2015.

6 Jun 2017, 1:42pm
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“…Eyeballs…” Book III: 42. Visiting the Farm

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

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

 

Book III:  Wife and Mother

#33. The Wedding

#34. The Honeymoon: Lake Pocotopaug

#35. The Honeymoon: Freedom Trail

#36. The Baby Can’t Go Home

#37. The Home Visit

#38. And Then There Were Two

#39.  Fire Prevention

#40. And Then There Were Three

#41. Cooking With Marion

#42. Visiting The Farm

As a child, Grace always looked forward to visiting Grandma Kate and Granddad Carl on their farm. It wasn’t a working farm with cows, horses, chickens, and sheep, but, the fields were lush with wild flowers, ducks on the pond, a hard wood forest to explore, a big barn to jump from the loft into the haymow, and, of course, an old attic chock full of interesting stuff  collected throughout the generations. Grace and Ken’s children loved visiting the farm, too. It was a long drive to get there, but, the time flew by as they read a book, played cards, and slept.

On this particular hot and windy afternoon, Grace and her Grandmother sat in the roomy kitchen at the large, well-worn oak table sorting and snapping string beans  when the screen door sprang open, slammed against the wall and two squabbling boys came storming in.

“Whoa,” Grace said, putting a hand on her guide dog’s head to let her know there was no need to guide her out of harm’s way. “What’s going on? Why the tornado?”

“I want to go swimming,” William complained. “But, he won’t be my buddy so I can go in the pond.”

“I want to fly a kite,” Paul defended his decision. “It isn’t every day that the wind is really good for flying a kite.”

“Grace,” Grandma Kate said. “Do you remember how you and your brother used to settle differences?”

“Hmmmmm,” Grace thought a moment. “Yes, I do!  Boys go up and put on your swim suits. Ken would you look for something in the barn for me, please?”

“Swimming?” Paul growled and stomped up the stairs. “I never get to do what I want to.”

Soon, the four adults, two guide dogs, and little Marion sat on the grassy bank of the pond watching the boys.

“Yup,” Ken said. “Ole Ben Franklin had a good idea when he flew his kite.”

“Dad,” Paul yelled. “Watch this.”

The boys floated on their backs and held the kite string as the wind lifted it up and over the pond. It pulled the boys with it, scattering the startled ducks.

“Isn’t that awesome,” William said. “Mom, did you and Uncle Sandy used to do this, too?”

“We sure did,” Grace said. “It was great fun even way back when.”

Later, in the moonlit evening, when the wind had died down, they all sat out near the old rock wall around a camp fire.

“Look into the camp fire,” Ken said to the boys. “What do you see?”

“I See a big castle with lots of towers,” William replied.

“I think there’s a dragon in there burning down your castle,” Paul challenged.

“By the smell of it,” Grace said, “Someone’s marshmallow is burning!”

“Oh, Dear Gussie,” Grandma Kate chuckled. “Some family traditions are easy to pass on to the next generation.”

Grace and Ken cherished their children; relished their accomplishments in school, sports, and faith in themselves and others as The days passed into years and the years into decades.

“Are we having fun yet?” Ken, whose rich brown curls were flecked with grey,  asked one evening relaxing in the home they’d bought as newly-weds, waiting for their son William to arrive with his wife and children. “Isn’t having our children and their families come for  visits  the best ever?”

Grace’s springy silver curls framed her face as she nodded and saluted him with her wine glass, took a sip, and said, ”Yes, definitely.”

 

1 Jun 2017, 5:36am
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“Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There? Book III: 41. Cooking With Marion

Hey! You Got Eyeballs In There?

By Kate Chamberlin

 

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

 

Book III:  Wife and Mother

#33. The Wedding

#34. The Honeymoon: Lake Pocotopaug

#35. The Honeymoon: Freedom Trail

#36. The Baby Can’t Go Home

#37. The Home Visit

#38. And Then There Were Two

#39.  Fire Prevention

#40. And Then There Were Three

#41. Cooking With Marion

“They’re gone, Mommy,” 3-year old Marion told Grace as the school bus swallowed William and Paul. “We can bake cookies now.” She pushed the old, paint splattered, metal, two-step stool over to the kitchen counter.

“I’ll get the Crisco and vanilla that are up tall,” Grace said. “Would you, please find the eggs and milk from the refrigerator?”

Okay, Mommy,” Marion said and actually got the eggs over to the counter without cracking any and milk without spilling a drop.

Marion was just the right size to halfway climb into the awkward corner cabinet to bring out the cookie trays. She stretched into the utensil drawer to bring out the measuring spoons.

Once everything was out and ready, Marion climbed up the stool and sat on the counter with the recipe card in her hand.

“One C S-U-G-A-R. Three E-G-G-S,” Marion spelled out each word until  the cookie batter was ready for shaping. It was slow going, but, Grace knew how important it was for a young child to feel successful, so she waited patiently for each amount and ingredient to be read.

“Mommy, what does this say,”  Marion asked when she got stuck on a number, letter or symbol.

“Draw it in my hand, Dolly,” Grace said and held out her palm so Marion could draw the confusing character on her palm.

When the cookies were in the oven, each would get one beater to lick; Grace would get the wooden spoon, and Marion would get the rubber spatula to clean out the bowl.  It was fun and they shared even-steven before they washed the dishes together.

“MMMMMMM, Dolly,” Grace would say after the Brailled timer had rung, “Don’t those cookies smell good? What color are they? They don’t smell burned crispy black!”

Grace and Marion squatted in front of the oven door’ window to look in on the gingerbread men.

“Oh, they look puffy and brown.  One of them is crying.”  Marion said.

“Crying? What makes you think he’s crying?” Grace asked in mock horror.

“His chocolate chip eye is running down his cheek,” Marion answered sadly.

“Why do you suppose he might be crying?” Grace asked, slipping into teacher mode.

“He knows he’s going to  be eaten,” Marion said with wisdom.

“Well, why did we bake these Ginger Bread Men?” Grace asked  as she reached for the  print/Braille  book of THE GINGER BREAD MAN. The Ginger Bread Men cooled on the wire racks as Grace read the story to Marion.

“So, you see,” Grace concluded. “Our Gingerbread men were made to be eaten.” And that is what they did when William and Paul came home from school.

Sometimes, Grace and Marion baked cookies shaped like numbers, dinosaurs, bare  feet, hearts, Christmas symbols, or geometric figures. Then, Ken and the children decorated the cookies with lots of frosting, colored sprinkles, chocolate Jimmies, silver balls, and hot red cinnamon hearts.

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup molasses

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended.

In a large bowl beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended.

Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue to mix until well blended.

Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.

Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 deg. Prepare baking sheets by greasing or lining with parchment paper.

(Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temp before using.) Preheat oven to 375°.

Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface.

Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin.

Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick.

Use additional flour to avoid sticking.

Cut out cookies with desired cutter– the ginger bread man is our favorite of course.

Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart.

decorate now with features or wait until cool

Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies

Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack.

After cookies are cool you may decorate them any way you like.