Vote Early and Often


Yesterday, I voted, and it gave me a kind of high. I did it. I got it done. No more indecision, although there was none for me, where the presidency is concerned. But now I can skip any newspaper articles suggesting to me which way I should vote. I no longer have to sit through televised arguments. I don’t care what they are saying about any of the candidates. It’s a done deal, so leave me alone.

I wrote a similar story about independent voting on this blog called “Voting Independently,” which explains how a blind person can use a machine that is set up with an audio program that reads aloud all the candidates and issues. Differently shaped buttons help you navigate through the ballot. You wear a headset, and the screen goes dark when the headsets are plugged in. It’s the greatest breakthrough for blind voters.

When we arrived at a former department store which has been the venue for early voting for several years, the parking lot was full, and we were afraid we would have to stand in a long line anyway. The place was packed, but the workers were so efficient that there was no wait at all. Of course I had the usual moments of irritation when they wanted to speak with my friend instead of me, but a quiet reminder to them that if they were talking about me, they should talk to me seemed to do the job. And there was some confusion on how to set the machine for audio use, but it only took 2 workers and a couple of minutes, and I was in business. After several minutes at the machine, one of the workers asked my friend if she thought I was having problems, but she explained to them that it takes me longer than the typical voter, because every word is read aloud, and you have to sit through it all before you can vote. Then it makes you review all the choices of candidates and issues, whether you want to or not. But I’ve learned that I can speed through that process by just pushing the down arrow quickly through the ones I had no opinion on. I don’t vote for people I have never heard of.

It was a happy feeling to push that “vote” button at the top and here the little beep. I did it, and I was done with this year’s election. Now I just have to plan my victory party when the results are confirmed.

Actually, the real reason I wrote this post was that I wanted you to see the darling picture of Dora, waiting patiently for me while I voted. Isn’t she adorable?

Out of the Mouths of Babes

How many times have you heard me say, “She’s a working dog, so please don’t pet her. You’d be amazed at how many people have never heard it from anyone else. But there’s one little person who has, and she is not shy about telling you.

Several years ago, I gave a big plush golden retriever dog to one of my granddaughters. Because I had a Seeing Eye Dog ® named Sherry at the time, the child named her Sherry. As it happens with families with more than one shild, the good toys get passed along. Now Sherry belongs to 2—1/2 year old Bethany, but the dog’s name is now Dora. Bethany has met the real Dora several times in her young life, and while we encourage her to pet her “nicely,” I don’t recall saying in public in her presence, “Please don’t pet the dog.” But little kids are listening even when you think they aren’t, and she made note in that cute little head of hers.

Now she carries the plush version of Dora around and says to her sisters and her sisters’ friends, “This is Dora, but you can’t pet her, because she is a working dog.”

Bethany, you make me proud. You are my best little advocate.

Hen Hike 2016


You know how when you get back from a vacation you say you’re so tired that you need a vacation? I’ve been back for a week, and I’m just now coming up for air. It wasn’t the rigorous exercise of hiking up through woods to the top of a ski mountain. It wasn’t the five –7 or so miles we walked each day. It wasn’t the stress of traveling to Canada with having to deal with getting to the airport 2 hours early and fiddling with customs. It wasn’t the yackity yack of 12 women all talking at once all day long, but a combination of all this, plus the sheer joy in doing it.

I have written about our famous Hen Hikes before. Search for Hen Hike 1 in this blog to catch up. I have even created a 22-minute speech about this unique group of women, most of whom are seniors, and half of whom are blind, and I’ve presented it at various retirement meetings and blindness conventions. My Toastmasters training has taught me to love it. (Shameless plug. Call me if you need a speaker for your club.) But let me tell you about some highlights of this year’s hike. First, we hiked near Collingwood in Ontario Canada, a first venture outside the country. My dream is to hike in England, maybe for our 20th anniversary, but this was only our 18th. Imagine. I was only 53 when I started this group with a Ski for Light friend, Julie. We’ve hiked in New England, Minnesota, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and New York. When we get too old to negotiate the rocks and roots on the muddy trails, we might hike through the shops in New York City or on a cruise ship.

On our first day, we had our picnic lunch by Lake Huron, enjoying the sound of the waves as they greeted the shore. Our sighted guides spotted a large creature in the water, and there was much discussion about whether it was some kind of odd fish or turtle or some other native animal. A local man walking by informed us that it was a rock. Boy, did we feel like foolish tourists. On the second day, we hiked up hills to thrilling views of the lake and the valleys below. On the third day, we hiked up a trail to the top of a ski run, and then we took the gondola down the mountain side. Even for those of us who couldn’t enjoy the vistas as we sailed over the tree tops, it was a delightful ride. The man operating the gondola was so taken by our charm that he offered to let us ride up and back again for free. We had walked up, but since the ride down was free, and trying to walk back down that steep and rocky slope was not appealing, we hopped on. If you ride up, it costs$16 apiece, unless you’re a group of women who act like they’re having the time of their lives. On the next day, we discovered a memorial garden in the woods. Only The markers were tall stemmed flowers made of concrete with names engraved on the petals. It was a peaceful place to stop and rest, as we had done 7 miles that day. Each day had its unique experience and joy. Each night, my legs, hips, and back were killing me, but a soak in the hot tub was a huge help. For the next several days after my return, I had to drag myself through the day. Funny how that works. If I had had 11 other women with me, and we were hiking, I don’t think I’d be tired at all.

On My Way to Being Famous

Did you know that I wrote a book? Did you know I’m now writing a second book, which is the first book revised? That’s why I haven’t done much lately for this blog. Since last February, I’ve been working on a book about moving my mother into assisted living. It was 391 pages long, and I thought it was fabulous. I sent it to 9 agents, with no response from any of them, and then to 1 editor, who replied almost immediately. She liked my query letter and asked to see the whole manuscript. I was thrilled. Then after a week, she wrote a very nice letter saying what an amazing person I was, blab la bla, and then the second paragraph said unfortunately blab la bla. Surprisingly, I was not upset at all. I know that many famous authors claimed that they had sent their manuscripts to hundreds of editors before 1 finally said they liked it, and then it became a best seller. So I figure I’m on my way to becoming a best seller author. I just have some work to do in the meantime.

The first thing I did was ask that editor why the heck she didn’t like my book. No, I really didn’t say that. I asked her for suggestions for improving it. I was so grateful for her reply, because she spelled it out and now I understand why it would never sell the way it was. I’m not going to go into detail about my failed attempt. I’ll just let you know when my newly revised book gets accepted by some publisher, and then I’ll be rich and famous. ha ha

A Bubble of Americana

Here’s an idea for the perfect getaway vacation. Imagine walking down a street made of bricks, where no cars are allowed. You hear piano music floating from the windows of more than one charming old house. Here comes a man whistling as he walks, and you recognize it as a Chopin waltz. You stop and wait for a group of little kids on bikes with no parent in sight. They ride wherever they please, just like we did as kids. No need for a play date. these kids are just out for the day. As you walk along, you hear people laughing and talking on their front porches, and if they look your way, they wave. Everybody you encounter is smiling. People you sit next to on a bench engage you in conversation. When you go into a store, the girl at the counter smiles and seems genuinely interested in your having a good time. She actually likes her job, and when she’s not serving a customer, she’s reading a book. Many people are walking their dogs, but they’re all under control, and no little kid yells, “Look! It’s a dog.” Everything is kept sparkling clean, from the front porch steps to the red brick walkway to the amphitheater. there will be no dust on the seats or even under your feet when you attend the next lecture. Everyone you meet is interested in learning and has a sense of humor. Every other person seems to be a musician, a writer, a scholar, or at least a reader. You look around at the audience before a lecture, and you discover that someone like Stephen Spielberg is sitting 2 rows behind you. You see a lot of little old ladies with their canes and walkers, but they are just as eager to keep their minds and bodies active and healthy. Teenagers hawk daily newspapers in the square, as in olden days. You leave your door unlocked, even at night, because this is Chautauqua.

Last year, I checked off an item from my bucket list, to go to Chautauqua, CHQ. Then I told you that next on my bucket list was to go again, and I did. See my post on 8/11/2015. I just returned from a week of physical and mental exercise with my friend, Dan. Yu know him as Driver Dan.

Each morning, we walked a mile to the aquatic center for 10 laps of swimming and then walked back to our respective rooms at our rooming house, so there were 2 miles and 500 meters before breakfast every day. The rest of the day, we attended fascinating lectures and discussions with such notables as Roger Rosenblatt, Jane Pauley, Gary Trudeau, Alan Alda, and Bishop John Spong. We managed to squeeze in a little plain old fun by renting a pedal boat, even with Dora along. Don’t we all look charming in our May Wests?

In the evenings we enjoyed music from the Army Brass Band, the CHQ Symphony Orchestra, and a variety of other entertainment.

One of the highlights for me was to have one of the teachers of prose give a quick critique of the book I’m writing. He was very encouraging, and I was thrilled to hear him say it looked quite promising.

As we drove out of the gates on the last day, we felt like we were leaving a bubble of pure Americana—Americana with the ambiance of the fifties but the search for knowledge and truth of today.

Hands On At the Arts Festival

One of the highlights of summer in Columbus Ohio is the annual arts festival, held on the first weekend in June. I went today with my friend Eve and had a wonderful time. Hundreds of booths and tents line the two main bridges downtown and the streets that connect them. In this photo, I am leaning over the railing of the bridge, admiring the sparkling Scioto River along with my new “deer” friend. He’s a life-size statue of a deer, and it looks like he’s smiling as he looks over the River.


My friend Eve has been a guide for me when hiking and a captain for me when biking. She has taken me shopping, and she has assisted when I host parties. she knows my tastes and what I need and do not need regarding mobility. When we would come to a booth that caught her eye, she would describe briefly what it contained, and if I showed no interest, we moved on. But if it was something I wanted to explore, she expertly placed my hands on the objects of art without fear of breaking anything. Most vendors encouraged me to touch anything I wanted anyway. Even people who are sighted want to touch the artwork to experience the textures.

We had a “get-away” cue. Sometimes, the vendors were so excited about showing me their artworks that it was hard to leave. After touching a few examples of the various pieces, Eve would say, “Here’s my arm,” and we would escape. But this one man delighted so much in showing me what he had done with palm leaves and maple leaves, that he’d say, “No, I’ve got her. I want to show her this other piece,” and off he’d take me to look at another stunning example of tactile art. You’d think I was a millionaire in disguise, and they somehow knew it. But we weren’t in a hurry, and it was a beautiful day, so we had fun with him.

In addition to being able to buy jewelry, blown glass, wood carvings, and even art objects made from collected pieces of junk, we could enjoy the same variety of food. Wanting to know all my options, I insisted on walking through the entire row of food vendors before I made my choice. Fortunately, Eve is the same way. We don’t just stop at the first thing we see and settle for that.

Mostly what I like to do at an arts festival is get an ice cream cone and sit on the grass and enjoy live music. Today, however, we got there early to beat the heat, so we were too early for the music, but I got a real “feel” for the world of arts.

If you think that art is just for those who can see, you’re missing out on an experience that will broaden your world and impress you with the imagination and creativity that these artists demonstrate. And if you happen to be a millionaire, it’s just the place for finding that perfect lamp, bird feeder, serving tray, or object to make you laugh.

Don’t miss out on a different way to spend a summer day.

Memorial Day Renewed

It’s a funny thing how your views change about certain customs as you grow older or mature,. I mean, I used to think that it’s not Christmas unless you have a Christmas tree. And you had to have ham on Easter. And Memorial Day was the most boring of so called holidays.

This year, something—or someone—was calling me to go down to French Lick, Indiana to put flowers on my mother’s grave. I always thought that was an odd thing to do. Who cared if there were flowers on the headstones of people who were not there? It’s just like when my brother died at age 29, and people I didn’t know streamed into the funeral home to express their condolences. Before that, I had thought it was goolish. that night, I was touched.

So after a six-hour drive, with live purple dianthus in the trunk, along with a shovel, jugs of water, and gardening gloves, my generous friend Dan and I trudged through the weeds to a certain spot in this ancient cemetery to decorate the graves of my family. We placed one flower on either side of each of six headstones of my family, my grandmother, my mother, my dad, my aunt and her husband, and my beloved cousin. I had planned to stroll around and read the names of the others buried there, some of whom I knew as a child, but by then, the heat and the bugs were really getting to us. Then I asked Dan to do something else I used to think was weird. I asked him to take a picture of each stone with its little flank of Dianthus, so I could send them to my kids. They both are mature enough to appreciate my effort, because they both remember that beautiful old cemetery from funerals they had attended as little children and two years ago for the funeral of their grandma. It’s way out in the country on the top of a hill, where all you can hear is an occasional chirp of a bird. I think it’s the most peaceful place in the world.

We also brought a flag to place by my dad’s headstone. the American Legion volunteers had already planted one there, but we put ours there anyway. After all, he had served in the Army twice.

I had wanted to make this pilgrimage last August, on the first anniversary of my mother’s death, but I didn’t know of anyone I could ask to make such a sacrifice. It’s a 12-hour drive round trip and an overnight stay, so it’s not easy. One friend said in disbelief, ”You drove all that way just to plant flowers? You didn’t walk around the town or anything else? that’s a lot of work just to decorate your family’s graves.”” But now, I am blessed to have a new friend Dan who gave me the gift of his time for me to do what I felt needed to be done. It’s an honorable thing to do, dan, when you honor the deceased, even when it’s not your own family. Thank you for understanding a call that I can’t even understand myself.