Tag Archives: chocolate chip cookies

A Rocky Start: Chapter Nine Continued

Image1-17_edited-1Laura gave her career report on Monday morning. Just like Logan’s, it was perfect in every way. First she talked about some chefs she liked to watch on television, like Rachael Ray. Then she talked about famous cooking schools. “The best ones,” she said, “are in Paris, but you really don’t have to go that far. There is Le Cordon Bleu College in Scottsdale that has a very good reputation.”

At the end of her report, she passed out samples of her homemade cookies. She called them Laura’s Everything Cookies because they were filled with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, and pecans. Everyone said they were the best cookies they had ever eaten. Amber was thinking that Betty Jenkins still made the best cookies she’d ever eaten, but she’d never tell Laura that.

After school, the girls rode their bikes to the senior center. Mrs. Snow saw them looking at the bulletin board. “Girls,” she said, “I need to see you in my office.”

The Happy Helpers looked at each other as if to ask, “Did we do something wrong?”

“Have a seat.” Mrs. Snow pointed to some chairs near her desk. “Bob said he had you set the tables for lunch on Saturday.”

“We did, “Laura said. “We did exactly what Bob told us to do.”

“He said that he made it quite clear that you should put out forks, knives, and spoons,” Mrs. Snow continued.

“That’s what we did.” Amber sounded concerned.

“Well, there were no spoons on the tables when the lunch was served. In fact, there were no spoons anywhere in the kitchen. Later, Walt found them in the recreation room.”

“I know there were spoons on the tables,” Melissa defended. “I put them there myself.”

“Maybe you forgot to put out the spoons,” Mrs. Snow suggested. “That’s possible, isn’t it?”

“No,” Laura insisted. “There were spoons on the tables. We didn’t forget.”

“Well,” Mrs. Snow went on, “I guess we’ll let it go at that. We all make mistakes sometimes. Try not to let it happen again.”

“We won’t,” Amber promised. “We like helping, and we always try to do our best.”

“Next Saturday, the women’s auxiliary is setting up for the big Easter luncheon. We could use your help with that. It’s an important event for the seniors. I hope I can count on you.”

“You can,” they all assured her.

“That was so strange,” Melissa said when they got outside.

“I wonder what happened to the spoons.” Laura shook her head.

“I don’t know,” Amber said thoughtfully. “But I think someone doesn’t want us here.”

At dinner that night, Amber told her family about what happened at the senior center.

“We really did set the table correctly,” Amber insisted. “The spoons just disappeared.”

“It sounds like someone was playing a practical joke on you,” John said. “I wouldn’t take it too seriously. Anyway, you have a second chance to prove yourselves.”

“Yeah, sis,” Kyle added. “What would your life be like without a little drama now and then? Pretty boring!”

“Not to change the subject,” Mary continued, “how are you coming with your career project?”

“Fine,” Amber answered. “It’s almost ready. Laura gave hers today. It was perfect, just like Logan’s. I think Ms. McGuire had the best students give their reports first to make the rest of us look bad.”

“She’s probably trying to let you slackers have more time to finish yours,” Kyle said with a laugh.

“Your teacher’s a smart woman.” John frowned at Kyle. “She had the best students do theirs first to give the rest of you an idea of how to do it. She let them set the example.”

“You might be right,” Amber said. “Logan did a little show-and-tell at the end of his report, and so did Laura. I suppose everyone will have to do that now. I’d better think of something I can show.”

“How about some of your drawings?” Mary asked. “That is, if you are doing your report on art as a career.”

“That’s my secret,” Amber reminded her with a sly smile.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

 

A Rocky Start: Chapter Five Continued

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Soggy Sunday was followed by muggy Monday. The rain had halted for a bit, but the clouds remained, and Amber was sure it would rain again. She took her umbrella with her on her way to school. The class had been progressing through the career unit as Ms. McGuire had said they would. The first careers they explored were jobs in health care. Amber knew that there were doctors and nurses, but she never thought about all the different types of jobs there were in health care. The EMTs who ride in ambulances, people who operate x-ray machines, and those who test blood are all health care workers. Some of them sounded pretty interesting, but some seemed too gory, like those working in emergency rooms.

Many of the students in Amber’s class had already signed up for their career reports. Laura had quickly taken chef before someone else chose it. Melissa had decided to report on marine biology, thinking it meant swimming with dolphins. Logan chose architecture as his career interest, and Chris decided on construction. Chris said that Logan could design the buildings, and he would build them. Spike had signed up for astronaut. That seemed appropriate to the girls as they weren’t sure he was from this planet anyway. Amber was the only one still thinking about what to choose, and she was really feeling the pressure of not being able to make up her mind.

Amber was almost halfway home when the downpour started. The rain was coming down so hard that her umbrella proved useless. At first, she tried to run, but the wind was blowing against her so that all she could do was push forward. As she passed Betty Jenkins’s house, she heard a familiar voice calling to her.

“Amber,” Betty yelled, “get in here out of the rain.”

Without hesitating, Amber did as Betty said, and a few seconds later, she was dripping water on the tile entryway inside Betty’s house. Betty took a towel out of the closet in the hallway and put it around Amber’s shoulders. “Here, dry off,” she said. “I’ve got some cookies in the oven. I’ll be right back.”

By the time Betty returned, Amber had dried her hair as best as she could. Her clothes were still wet, and she was shivering.

“Come in the kitchen,” Betty suggested. “It’s warmer in there with the oven on.”

Amber could already smell the delicious chocolate chip cookies and hoped that Betty would offer her one. Betty told her to sit down at the table, and without even asking, she set a glass of milk and a plate with two cookies in front of Amber.

“So what exciting things happened at school today?” Betty wanted to know.

“We’re studying careers right now,” Amber told her. “Today Dr. Stevens, a veterinarian, came to talk to the class. She told us that she became a vet because she loves animals, especially dogs. She said most of what she does is routine, like giving shots and operating on dogs and cats so they can’t have babies. Chris asked her what the worst part of her job was. She said putting pets to sleep when they were old and suffering. The family is always crying and it is so sad, but it still has to be done.”

“She sounds like a very caring person,” Betty said.

“She’s the vet who gave Domino his shots. Next week she’s going to fix Domino so he won’t be able to make puppies.”

“That is a good thing to do,” Betty said. “You’re being a responsible pet owner.”

“It’s a good thing Domino doesn’t know what’s going to happen,” Amber said. “When I had my tonsils out, I had a week to worry about it. That was the longest week of my life. Why don’t you have any pets?”

“Paul and I had a dog,” Betty explained. “He was just a mutt we got at the animal shelter, maybe a collie and German shepherd mix. We called him Pepper because he was sort of black, white, and gray. Pepper got hip dysplasia like German shepherds do sometimes. Eventually, we had to put him to sleep.”

“I hope that doesn’t happen to Domino,” Amber said.

“He’s a young dog, so you won’t have to worry about that for years,” Betty assured her.

“There’s one part of the career unit that I’m not looking forward to.” Amber sighed a big sigh. “We have to choose a career we are interested in and give a report.”

“What career did you choose?” Betty asked.

“That’s the problem,” Amber said. “I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up.”

“You have lots of time for that,” Betty said. “Your teacher is probably just trying to get you started thinking about what you might be interested in. What’s your favorite subject in school?”

“That’s easy,” Amber said with enthusiasm. “Art is my favorite subject.”

“There are lots of careers that involve art,” Betty said. “You could be an artist or sell art supplies. You could work in a museum or even be an art teacher.”

“You hear a lot about starving artists,” Amber said seriously. “What if I’m not good enough to make money being an artist?”

“I love art too,” Betty told her. “In fact, I have a little studio behind the house. That’s where I keep my paint supplies and my paintings.”

“Was that your career?” Amber asked.

“Not really,” Betty said. “Usually I just give my paintings away. Once in a while, someone pays me, mostly for the supplies. My real job was delivering mail when we lived in Kansas.”

“Did you like that job?” Amber asked.

“I liked it very much. I was out in the fresh air every day. Some days, it was cold and snowy. Once I was even chased by a tornado. But I got to visit with lots of people. I got to know their dogs too. It was a great job, and I miss it sometimes.”

“I’d love to see some of your paintings,” Amber said. “Would you show them to me sometime?”

“I sure will,” Betty said. “When it’s not so rainy outside.”

“Speaking of rain,” Amber said. “It looks like it stopped for a little while. I think I had better get home before my mom starts to worry.”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

Meet Betty Jenkins

IMG_0426The first senior you will meet in A Rocky Start is Betty Jenkins and you meet her as Amber does on the second page. She is having trouble retrieving her newspaper from the bushes and asks Amber for help. That’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Betty is a retired mail carrier who moved from Kansas to Bluesky with her husband Paul.  When Paul passed away, Betty made the decision to remain in Bluesky. She has three sons. Calvin is a stockbroker in Oakland, California and has three boys. Sam is in the air force, stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Robert, who has two girls and a boy, is a chef in San Francisco.

Amber and Betty quickly develop a strong bond, due partly to their mutual love of art. Betty has a small studio behind her house where she paints landscapes. She sells a few of her paintings, but she gives many of them away. Amber is also drawn to Betty because Betty accepts and supports Amber as she is. While Amber’s family is loving and supportive, they can sometimes be a little overbearing. Betty is more likely to help Amber find her own way through situations.

There are two things Betty is famous for in Bluesky. First is her special chocolate chip cookies. She has a secret ingredient that she never tells to anyone–well, maybe just one person. The other thing Betty is famous for is shuffleboard. She invites Amber to her shuffleboard match at the senior center. Amber brings her friends along to cheer for Betty. Not only do they learn about shuffleboard, but they also discover the opportunity to become junior volunteers.

Betty is the best example of “love your neighbor.” When Doris Duncan hurts her back, Betty is right there to lend a hand. In this way, she is a role model to the Handy Helpers. Mary Snyder’s failed attempts at planting a garden lead her to enlist the help of Betty’s green thumb. Betty is there, hoe in hand, to lead the Snyders toward a bountiful garden.

It is Betty’s sense of humor that draws others–including the Handy Helpers–to her. She has a talent for lightening up any situation. When Amber has a mishap with her spinach salad, Betty tells a funny story on herself to make Amber feel better. Betty is the kind of friend and neighbor everyone would wish to have.

A Rocky Start and all the Handy Helper books are available at amazon