A Froggy Tale August 8 th. 2022 465 words

It was a cool spring morning on froggy pond. Early risers were practicing swimming and distance hopping. Occasionally there was a tussle when two frogs tried to catch the same fly. But all and all, There was harmony in the froggy pond. Until the Toad family moved in.
The toad was one in a circle of frogs. He kept to himself and didn’t go near the pond. He preferred the cool darkness of his burrow. When a frog saw him he would jump into the pond and swim away.
As will happen with most species, the toad found a mate and had little ones. Now the frogs noticed that there were many small brown toads competing for the choicest insects. The small toads would show aggressive behavior towards the frogs.
Froggy pond was not the same habitat. Some frogs decided to find another pond. Other frogs started a campaign to limit where the toads could live. A few took matters into their own legs and started to meet aggression with more aggression. This led to groups division and decreasing interactions.
Soon the rumors about toads spread. Toads would cause frogs to become ill. The toad population would overpopulate the pond making it unfit for frogs. Frogs were the wrong color and would change the habitat causing toads to die.
Some of the rumors had some basis in truth. Toads rarely liked ponds. They enjoyed a drier terrain. Except for mating season, the toads preferred to not be social. Frogs prefer marshes, ponds and other wetter areas. They would avoid each other except if a larger toad or frog looked at the amphibian as food.
At times, we are toads and frogs. Though there are more similarities than differences, the differences seem to hold more weight .
I know that comparing frogs and toads to people is not the same. We could learn a lesson from nature. If given proper introduction and space, frogs and toads can co-exist. The groundwork must be prepared with forethought. Lets hope that we can be as smart as toads and frogs when it comes to sharing our neighborhoods. Put aside the rumors and find the truths about each other. If toads and frogs can live together , why, can’t we?


“It’s Not Easy bein Green”, Kermit the frog croons a song about being green.
At one time or another, we see our differences
as barriers to relationships.
We would like the world to be like us.
But the differences make us unique, special.
Being blind, I don’t see the visual differences that mark us.
Kindness in others can be heard in the voice.
Listening to others with an open heart could soften our attitude.
to make us color blind.
Carolaspot@aol.com Aug 8, 2022

Lazy Days, August 1st, 2022 422 words

Today is the first day of August. Where did the summer go? The past several weekends, I have had invitations to my family’s reunions. I didn’t travel to my brother’s cottage on the Lake Michigan shoreline, I did visit my husband’s brother, Gene at Brohman MI for a Smolinski family reunion. The family and friends have gathered in this western michigan town for over 43 years. The weekend event was started by Helen Smolinski to gather the family and keep in contact with distant family members.

This was My 30th time to attend.

Over the railroad tracks, you find several cottages that have used by the family for vacations. Grandma and Grandpa Smolinski’s cottage was called ,”Lazy Days”. It has been improved and modernized but still stands on the road to Indian Lake.

Great Grandma Helen didn’t live to see her family reunions take shape .Walking near the old lilac bush, I noticed a plaque with the following words.

Teofil and Helen Smolinski

Loving founders of our family

Those we love don’t go away

They walk beside us evey day

Unseen ,unheard, but always near

So loved ,so missed and very dear

They were both first generation American citizens. Family and faith were cornerstones that united them.

The sharing of stories was as important as the sharing of a meal. I have changed from a newcomer to be a senior member of the family unit. I watched as 20 or more children, the next generation competed in games and races. I remembered our own daughter Ruth,playing and enjoying the same activities.

Though many of the original family members are gone, their spirit is still in the hearts and minds of the remaining family. As I hold the hand of a toddler and give my neice and nephew a hug, I am passing on traditions and memories for generations to come.

***

Smolinski

an acrostic poem

Some traveled to this country for a better life.

Many have worked to make this country a home.

Often, they would be targets of prejudices from others.

Like those who came before and will come after, they lived and loved.

I see the past in the photos of the family now gone.

Now, they are remembered with stories and smiles.

Still the children come to hear the stories of their forefathers and mothers.

Knitting the generations into a family unit.

In each face there are traces of past generations.

They are remembered with laughter not tears.

carolaspot@aol.com copyright 8/1/22

Wicked Wishes 603 words July 25th 2022


I sit alone in a changing room, waiting for a MRI brain scan to look for the cause of my stroke. I wait, for someone to tell me what to do. Finally a technician tells me to strip and put on hospital scrubs and white socks.
“What do I do with my clothes?”
“Just leave them on the table.”
“Where is the table?”
The nurse pauses a beat before answering,”On your left side.”
This is when I have my first of many evil wishes. The table is on my right but the nurse sees the table facing me so it is on her left.
I find my scrubs and wait a little longer. The room is colder than I like. Goosebumps soon form on my arms and thighs. I resist removing my hearing aids until I am in the room housing the machine. As a blind person, I rely on my hearing for clues what’s happening around me.
I was led by the hand like a child to sit then lay on a sliding mat to be pushed into a small opening in a large machine. I knew that the machine was large because I ask to feel it first.
Instead of telling me what to expect and what I needed to do, the last instruction from the tech was,”Don’t move!”
I felt my body slid forward and I was encased inside the machine. I heard the magnets clang and move around my head. I thought of the earrings that I had almost not taken out this morning. I wondered why they hadn’t bothered to ask me about any piercings.
Halfway through the M.R.I., I remembered every horror movie where the brain is removed and replaced with an evil clone. The tube feels tomblike. The warmth of the MRI machine causes claustrophobic panic as I start to sweat. Cool air alternates with heat, chilling my body. I should have taken the extra blanket when it was offered. I was pulled out of the machine. I felt like a cork popped out of a bottle. The tech was talking but I shook my head because I couldn’t understand.
An IV was inserted in my arm to deliver the dye. Though I had dye in the past, This time I felt cold then clammy.
When I asked, the tech she yelled, that it could be a reaction to the dye.
My next wish was to give the same injection into the nearest tech. My mind saw small psychedelic undulating worms in my visual field. I was surprised. I hadn’t had any useable vision for years.
Finally, I was pulled from the machine and could move.
“Where are my hearing aids? ” Inserting them into my ears, I could understand what the techs were saying. I could hold on to the tech’s arm to find my way back to the dressing area.
I was left to locate my clothes by myself. One of my shoes fell to the floor, I had to find it with my feet. The clothes were in a pile not folded as I had left them. I wondered if any of the technicians could get dressed in total darkness!
When I was dressed a tech came to escort me out to the waiting area.
“Well, I am glad that is over!”, I said.
“O, you will be back in two months to have another MRI test.”
Inwardly, I groaned’ but outwardly I smiled at thoughts of sticking each tech with pins as one would do with a voodoo doll. Next time, I will be more assertive about my needs.

Carolfarn@aol.com

Garden Delights


I come from a long line of gardeners. Both of my Grandparents planted a garden to expand their variety of fruits and veggies. Grandpa Heatley would plant beans, cucumbers and tomatoes training them to grow and hang from strings hung on the back fence. His garden resembled a small jungle.
Grandpa Turnbull was more organized and had more room to separate each crop. He liked to keep a salt shaker in an old bird house near the gate. He would pick a ripe tomato and use the shaker to dust his treat saying,”Fresh is best.”
My family continued to have a garden of our own. In addition to the annuals of Swiss Chard, lettuce and beens , we grew Strawberries and had a raspberry section near the fence line. We shared the chore of picking the berries. Because I was small, I picked the berries near the bottom of each bush. I would crawl into the middle of the patch to pick the biggest berries and fill my stomach as well as my pail. The patch of bushes was thick enough to hide in.
After the time to pick asparagus, the plants were allowed to grow to four feet. The feathery plant tops were one of my favorite spots to hide from chores.
Even today, we still have a small garden area. We grow, green beans, cucumbers and asparagus. Sadly, tomatoes and peppers are attacked by blight before setting fruit.
A summer without a garden is like a summer without the sun.


Hidden fruit,
seeds are planted
With hope they will grow
weed with care
all in a row.

Waiting with patience
for the new crop
green beans grow to the top
berry or bean
all taste great
Hidden treasures
never make the plate.

carolaspot@aol.com. July 18th 2022

Tree frogs July 11 th. 336 words

I have heard these little frogs for years in my part of the country. They are found in all parts of the world except Antarctica. I ran across them this past week by accident.
I was on my bike and a young female biker in full biking garb passed me on the path. I did a double take after seeing her fuzzy ears on her helmet. She made me smile.
I caught up to her on a swampy section of the path. There she was off her bike and waving her arms to signal me to stop.
“What’s wrong?”
The tree frogs are on the move.”
Looking down I perceived thousands of brown shapes, the size of dry beans, hopping towards the nearby woods. They were in a large block of small bodies. I would never noticed them without her pointing them out.
I asked,”How did you know?”
She replied, “I have seen them for several years about this time every summer.”
We watched as the small army hopped their way across the bike path and into the woods. They were so small, I would have run over hundreds if the biker had not pointed them out to me.
I thought of the grasshoppers and other creatures that I shared the path with. How many had I callously run over and never noticed?
Now I bike slower and Noticed changes around me. Nature is always on the move!


Tree frogs
Small and brown, they are moving specks of dust on the path.
Holding one in my hand. I see a miniature toad or frog.
The whole group moved as one from the swamp to the nearby trees.
Using their hooked back feet, they climbed the trees.
Many will become food for the birds and other animals.
Some were be run over in their quest to gain the safety of the trees.
Driven by instinct to survive.
They are driven to live to reproduce the next group of tree frogs.
carolaspot@aol.com June 12th at 2022

Connections July 4th, 2022 396 Words

On July 4th, I have memories of visiting the graves of family members . Both sides of my family had graves locally. My mother would bring a plant and spend some quiet time besides each plot. My dad would walk among the graves stopping here and there, lost in a memory.
As a child and a teenager, I would amuse myself reading the tombstones noting the birth and death dates. I wished that our tradition in this country was to place a small photo of the loved one for visitors to recall the departed.
We would drive to Plymouth, a nearby town to stop at the graves of my grandparents and great aunts and uncles. My mother’s family members were buried in Chelsea Michigan.
After my second marriage, my husband and I would drive across the state to the east side to visit John’s father’s grave. To my surprise, the cemetery was full of Turnbulls and Farnsworths.
I recognized many of the names from each side of the family.
When I returned home, I asked my Dad about the Turnbulls in that rural area. My Dad told me that there were many Turnbulls in the thumb area. Then he continue to tell me that his cousins had lived in the thumb and invited my Great grandfather and his family to try farming in Michigan. My great grandfather, his wife and the two children one was my Grandfather, moved from Ontario Canada to try farming on this side of Lake Huron.
Though my Grandfather’s family returned to Canada, There still are many Turnbulls in the area.
Wandering through the graves there were many Farnsworths related to the Turnbull’s by marriage.
I find peace in walking where ancestors once stood and lived.
Our country is filled with family connections forming a people. Some of the stories are well worn. Others are unknown. All played a part in who we are as individuals and as a country.
So take some time from your Independence Day to ponder these ancestors in our family and friends who lived and paved the way for us. Those connections build a strong community and nation. Give thanks and consider what legacy we are passing to others. Will we use the forged connections to strengthen us or use the conflicts to break us apart. The choice is ours.
Happy Independence Day.

carolaspot@aol.com
7-4-2022

Roberta Griffen, early avocate for the blind, June 27, 2022 515 words

Today is Helen Keller’s birthday. Most people know of the advocacy and accomplishments of this remarkable woman. But there are many others who paved the way for the blind to be taught to live and have careers. One of these individuals was Roberta Griffen.
Roberta was born in 1867 in Pittsburgh Pa. Little is known about her early years. The opinion at the time was blind and others that were handicapped could be trained for minimal tasks. Roberta stayed home for her first twelve years.before moving to Bay City Michigan in 1879.
She entered the Michigan school for the blind in Lansing with 40 other students.
She learned to braille, use a typewriter, sewing and other skills she would need to have a career. She completed high school in Cleveland where the school offered an expanded program. After high school, Roberta was accepted at Western College on probation. She was to keep up with other students with little accommodations.
She bought all of her texts and paid fellow students to read the assignments to her. Her skilled typing allowed her to type lessons. She was told that she must keep up with her classmates.
Roberta finished college in three years. She supplemented her income by giving piano lessons. Roberta invented an embossed score to read music.
Ms. Griffen moved with her mother to a two story home to give classes in the day and a have living quarters on the top floor. Among Roberta’s accomplishments were working with Helen Keller to standardize the braille alphabet and contractions. Teaching skills to blind mothers while volunteers offered childcare for the children.
Roberta’s passions was preventing blindness in babies. This is what Caused Roberta’s blindness.
In 1913, Ms. Griffen pushed for a reading room in the new library to be dedicated with tools and reading material for the blind. In 1916, the Association for the Blind was formed and expanded to continue to this day. One of 17 libraries for the blind, they formed the start of the National Library for the Blind Network.
Roberta died in 1944 and was one of sixteen women honored in the Michigan Hall of Fame.
I learned that each person can use his or her skills to promote advocacy in their chosen field. Physical or mental challenges can be overcome with assistance and support from others.
Happy Birthday Helen. Thanks for paving the way for the rest of us.


Helen Keller with an imagined cochlear implant.

This is hearing?
Helen awoke in a hospital bed.
She was dressed in a gown with lots of ties.
She felt insect like buzzing first in the front of her head, then to the side and finally in the back.
There was a large hand holding hers.
Quickly, she fingered spelled,”Where am I?”
The hand slowly spelled,”You are in a hospital. You have had a cochlear implant.”
What you feel in your head is the start of hearing. With training you will learn to identify sounds.”
She continued to have headaches as a response to the buzzing in her head.
Helen thought,”If this is hearing, I would rather be deaf!”
carolfarn@aol.com
copyright 6-27-2022

Favorite Flavor June 20, 2022 Under 200 words

When I was little, my favorite flavor was chocolate. Being one of five children, I was limited to getting chocolate on holidays and my birthday. Chocolate made me happy.

I was born with glaucoma. Twice a year, I had to have an eye exam and my eye pressure checked. The doctor wanted an easy patient, so I was put to sleep with ether. I was nauseous and tired after the appointment. I still feel sick if I smell ether to this day.

We drove from a small town to the larger Ann Arbor area. I had never seen people of different skin colors before these hospital visits. I saw a rainbow of people, but I didn’t say anything to my mother.

We went into the waiting areaehere I saw a black man dressed in scrubs .

“I want the chocolate doctor.”

I knew that chocolate was good and didn’t hurt. So a chocolate doctor would not hurt me.

The janitor smiled at me. After my appointment, he came back to give me a piece of chocolate candy.

My white doctor didn’t take the time to calm a frightened child, but a kind janitor and his smile helped me feel better. That and a little chocolate!

***

Chocolate

Choice of most children.

Helps chase away the fear.

One man saw a frighten child.

Care fully, he opened my hand.

On my palm, he placed a piece of chocolate.

Looking up, I saw him smile.

A friendly face.

The terror was gone.

Ending the appointment with a piece of chocolate.

carolfarn@aol.com 6/20/2022

HOW DOES THE GARDEN GROW 6-13-2022 410 WORDS

How does a blind gardener locate, plant and maintain a garden space? Depending on your ability and desire for seasonal plants, most people can enjoy fresh produce. I have a small garden space enclosed to prevent animals from gathering the greenery. I plant cucumbers on a trellis so the fruit hangs down and forms long ccucumbers that are easily found. My vegetables include green beans, aspargus, peppers and and Indian corn. only the asparagus comes up each year. When I had some vision I planted purple beans because I could use the color to locate the beans on the plant. Now I plant pole beans and locate the beans by touch. Asparagus is picked in the late spring by cutting the spears at ground level . They will grow more spears until the weather turns hot. The plant is allowed to grow and mature to produce a feathery plant producing energy for next year’s crop.

Each season, I try growing a new plant. This year, I started Indian corn for fall decorating and feeding the squirrels. The whole garden has a canapy of growing bittersweet. This protects the young plants from getting too much direct sunlight.

On the back porch, I have containers of catnip, basel and cherry tomatoes to use in cooking and making pesto. Beside the pordch, grows chives, mint and lavender for aroma therapy and relaxing.

I will explore with my husband to discover new plants that appear. This year, I found several morel mushrooms growing on our hill near the steps. They can be cleaned and frozen until there are enough for a meal.

I have found a lenten rose in the woods transplanted by a bird to that spot. On the exploring John and I will make notes on new plants to check their progress in the season to come.

A note about weeding. The container garden is easy to weed. The new growth on the edge of the container is probably weeds. If a plant grows tall and feels different than the other plands in the container, they don’t belong.

The plants will attract birds and bees to pollinate your small garden. The aromas from growing herbs create another layer of sensations to enjoy.

So If you start with one plant or a small garden, enjoy the time outside with your plants.

********

A seed planted

grows with sun and water

into a delight.

Carolfarn@aol.com

6/20/2022

Northville Recreation June 6, 2022

The start of summer signaled the end of school and time to relax for most kids, not for our family. It was time to sign up for summer programs with the Recreation Department. We had the options to join a baseball team, sign up to go on bus trips to Bell Isle, the Detroit Zoo or Michigan’s Adventure and Cedar Point or a Detroit Tigers Baseball game. I was too young for most of those activities so I was signed up for day camp each week day morning for 8 weeks.
The camp was located at Ford Field in town. My Mother would drop me off at my Grandma Heatley’s home a couple of blocks from the field.
The field had plenty of room to play games and do arts and crafts. The counselors, high school students, offered a free craft project and other craft work for a nominal fee. I brought my allowance to buy leather pieces that were punched with holes to sew together with plastic lanyard cord to weave and sew crafts together. I sewed many coin purses and necklaces to attach a whistle for coaching a game.
The free activities were making figures from plaster of Paris . We would sit in the sun as the rubber molds of animals and children dried. We would carefully unroll the mold from the cast. Even if the form wasn’t perfect, the casted form could be used as chalk to write on sidewalks.
The next year, the Recreation Department and the Scouts shared a new building located in the middle of town. I was allowed to walk the few blocks to the camp.
Archery and putt putt golf was offered as well as the arts and crafts.
I loved the feeling of independence that the walk offered me.
There were two places of interest along the way down Katy Street. An ancient mulberry tree hung over the cemetery . The small tree grew from one of the grave sites. It had the sweetest berries to pluck on the way for a couple of weeks in July.
The cemetery was an old one, one of the first in the town. The monuments were fascinating to a nine year old. One of the graves had a cement crib on it. I read that two children were buried in it. On a dare, I laid down in the cement grave marker. I thought I heard footsteps approaching. I quickly got up and hurried away.
The Recreation Department had a Pet and Doll show and turtle races as special events. I took prizes for placing in the turtle race and placing first and second in different doll categories. We were given small cash prizes.
Summer was never boring for a youngster in the 1960’s in the small town of Northville.


Resting in the grave

The old graveyard beckoned me.
It’s ancient monuments were worn by time and rain.
many of the interred were young.
One grave was in the shape of a toddler’s crib ,made of cement and mortar.
The names of two babies were on the headboard.
A brother and sister that died in a flu epidemic days apart.
I laid in the bed and whispered to the dead.
“I will not forget you.”
Putting violets on the headstone, I said a prayer .
carolfarn/@aol.com
copyright 6/6/2022