More Than Just a Walk in the Park

When was the last time you peeked out from the inside of a tree? Unless you’re a squirrel, it’s probably been a rare occasion, if ever. This tree might have been hit by lightening, judging by the shapes of the “windows.” It happens that this was my second opportunity to walk inside a tree, the first being at another Columbus Metro Park. Over the last 19 months, my friend Dan has taken Dora and me to a metro park once a week for a change of pace, literally. When we step onto a paved trail, it’s like Dora is trying to win a race. If we have the trail mostly to ourselves, I take off the harness and let her walk freely. Ironically, she doesn’t run ahead but stays about six feet in front of us, walking at our pace.

Even though I get a kick out of Dora’s enjoyment, what I love most about these walks in the parks is stopping to listen, to touch, to smell, and to learn. In one park, we were startled as we walked across a little bridge. We thought we heard a woodpecker under the bridge, but we learned later that it was a squirrel making a warning sound to his forest friends. In another park, I touched the most interesting moss that covered the whole tree. At every park bench we encounter, we stop to read for whom the bench was dedicated. We also take that opportunity to rest my back and give Dora a drink.

On the walk last week, we thought at first that we were hearing a gaggle of geese in the distance, but as they approached overhead, we saw that it was a murder of crows. Murder is a good word for a bunch of crows, because you just know what their motivation is. They flew not in formation like geese but in a bunch, and they made a huge circle, coming back around toward us. For a minute, we thought they might have had murdering us on their minds. But they soon settled down by a pond, where no doubt, there was some disgusting scent whetting their appetites. This week, we returned to one of our favorite parks where hundreds of tall pine trees stand at attention all year. But now that we have cooler weather, their fragrance floats all around, causing us to stop in our tracks and breathe in the memories of Christmas that pine evokes. We stand and sniff the air, just savoring the peace of the pine forest and the quiet that surrounds us. Because not many people know about this sanctuary of trees and birds, we usually have the trails to ourselves. Meanwhile, winter is on its way, and I hope we can visit some of these parks when snow changes the entire scene, and we have a whole new park experience to enjoy.

Mary Hiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available from Amazon

Stepping Back in Time

It was like stepping back in time. As we turned onto the street in Norwood, Ohio, where I lived from 1945 or so until 1957 or there abouts, I had the weird sensation of feeling the years melting away.

I had just visited my friend Deborah in Cincinnati last weekend for a marathon gab fest, Scrabble, and her coaching me on some technology. and after I said my goodbyes and thanked her for her hospitality, I posed a question to my friend Dan as we pulled out of her driveway. Dan had been kind enough to agree to drive me to Deborah’s, but he also agreed to make a quick side trip to Norwood. Norwood is known for being one of the first cities within a city. It’s a city in southwest Ohio, but it’s completely surrounded by Cincinnati.

I had lived in 3 different houses growing up, but this one was the one where I had my first memories. I walked to school, even starting in kindergarten. Because both my parents worked, my mother arranged for an older girl in my school to meet me at the end of my street to walk with me. As we passed each trigger for a memory, I pointed them out to Dan, as if they were famous sites on a tour. “Here’s the corner where there was a little grocery store. Is it still there? Here’s the drug store where I walked to get a soda and read comic books on the floor and then not pay for them. Here’s the bar, which used to be called The Tap Room. I thought that’s where people went to tap dance. Here’s where my best friend lived. “

As we got closer and closer to the house, I worried that it would have fallen into disrepair. After all, the neighborhood was old even when I had lived there. The street was so rough, it felt like we were driving over cobble stones, but the houses, although old, looked well preserved and as attractive as possible. As far as I could tell, nothing had changed. People even lived in my own old house. I know this, because Dan saw a woman driving toward my house, and to our amazement, she pulled into the driveway. She went into the house and then popped back out to collect her mail. She must have seen us staring at her house, my house, because we drove on down the street, and when we came back past my/her house, the woman was sitting out on the porch steps, watching us. Dan waved and smiled, and we drove on down that ancient street full of memories. If we had had time to get out and walk, I would have asked Dan to walk with me to my school, which I had thought was a very long distance. But we drove and set the odometer, and when we reached the school, Dan said, “Are you ready for this? .5 miles.”

“Half a mile!” I exclaimed. I would have sworn it was at least 2 miles.” That’s what we all think when we’re 6 years old, and we have little short legs, and the street crossings look like crossing into new worlds.

Next on our tour was the house where I lived when I was in junior high. I loved that little house, so much so, that it often appears in my dreams. It’s a tidy little brick ranch that is indicative of my life back then, tidy, small, and yes, square. The happiest years of my childhood were based in that house—the start of serious dance lessons with Jack Louiso, singing in the adult choir, playing wiffle ball with the neighbor kids, and loving my 2 Dalmatians. It was before the death of my adored big brother and my beloved Aunt Lynn.

As we headed back north on I71, I reflected on how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to step back in time and revisit my youth. What a weird feeling but wonderful too. I am grateful to Dan for being willing to make that happen.

Mary Hiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available from Amazon

A New Kind of Wardrobe

I used to have a recurring dream that I opened my closet and discovered several brand new dresses. I was delighted, because I love new clothes, especially dresses. Waking up and finding the same old outfits was always a disappointment. Someday, when I return to going to meetings or church or out to dinner, where I might want to wear a dress, I’ll open my closet to find dresses I don’t recognize. It will be just like that dream, only not disappointing. They are not new, but they might as well be. I don’t even remember some of them, even after I’ve held them up and examined them.

I was taken aback when my friend Deborah and I were chatting on the phone, and she asked me what the dresses I had bought looked like. I had to think really hard before I could come up with the vaguest of descriptions.

No, it’s not dementia, or at least, I don’t think so. It’s because for the past year and a half, I’ve worn only shorts and sweats with T-shirts and sweatshirts. There has been no need to look at the dresses in my closet, because I go to church by watching the service from my couch on YouTube. I go to meetings via Zoom. And the only dining out I’ve done has been drive-through fast food places.

It’s been a very weird world recently for many reasons, and the pandemic being one of the most troubling.

But it seems that a lot of people think it’s over, or it never happened at all. As soon as the second summer came around, people thronged in every entertainment venue and restaurant. New eateries are opening all the time, and movie theaters have opened their doors. Some may say that I’ve been overly cautious, verging on paranoid, but I’ve been healthy and have found ways to connect with people without being in a crowd. Once a week, my friend Dan and I take Dora for a good long walk in a metro park, and we are refreshed and rejuvenated every time. We love to stop and listen to birds, examine the plants, and revel in the quiet. Sure, I’d like to go to a festival or a concert, but is it worth the price of a possible deadly illness?

Maybe I’m extra careful, because I am of the age where we are most at risk I got a massage last week for the first time in two years. I asked the therapist if he had been fully vaccinated. He said he had not, because he didn’t think enough testing had been done. I was furious. Who does he think he is? If I had had a way home, I would have left right then, but at least he wore a mask.

If I live long enough to see the end of this pandemic, I think I should buy a whole new wardrobe and fill my calendar with lots of fun things to do. But I will never give up my comfortable sweats and my relaxing walks in the parks.

Mary Hiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available from Amazon

Non Virtual Virtual 5K for K9

Two years ago, I posted a video of Dora and me crossing the finish line with Dan behind us, at the fund-raiser for sick and injured dogs at the shelter. It was a 5K out-and-back walk with dozens of dogs with their people on a path that took us along the Alum Creek Dam. Just a few weeks ago, I was there kayaking with my family, but on this day, it was a family of folks who love their pets and raise money to help the little guys who are waiting for their forever homes. 

You might remember my writing about the pet pig named Kevin Bacon. We met him at the first event, but we didn’t see him at the second one. Then along came Covid, and the in-person/dog event had to go virtual. We still got beautifully designed shirts when we paid our registration fees. All the dogs pictured on the front were wearing masks.

This year, sadly, it had to be virtual again, but we wanted to walk the walk whether or not there would be winners of prizes and free stuff like toys and treats. It was a beautiful day, and we were not alone. Almost everybody we met along the trail had dogs with them, friendly hellos, and even some opportunities to pet their happy dogs. As you can see on our smiling faces that we were having a great day with Dora, and she was thrilled to be photographed between her two favorite people. My only regret is that we should have taken that picture in front of the sign that said “No dogs allowed.” But the good people who maintain this interesting State park must have a soft spot in their hearts for this worthy cause.

This time was different from the others for another reason. We weren’t in a hurry, so we stopped to read the educational signs. They told us what kinds of birds to look for and how the dam works. What a great way to spend a Saturday. Maybe you’ll join us next year.

Three Generations Kayaking Together

A few weeks ago, my son Steve and his friend Terri introduced me to the peaceful sport of kayaking. One usually doesn’t use the adjective “peaceful” for a sport, but it applies here. Once I got the hang of paddling and the slight anxiety of being almost down in the water in a bathtub-like boat, I absolutely loved it. I’d paddle for a few minutes and then rest and revel in the quiet of the lake and listen to the occasional call of a bird, a bird I never hear in my back yard.

The sound of the water parting as my paddle came up and sprinkled a little over my legs on its way over to the other side was a soothing sound.

I loved it so much that when my daughter’s family came for a short visit after not having seen them for a year and a half, the first activity just had to be kayaking or paddle boarding or just riding on the boat with Steve. Steve and Terri were our instructors and coaches, and it was great fun to see how the two older girls took to the kayak and the paddle board. Their dad Scott, who works out daily, was a natural at the paddle board.

After I had paddled in Terri’s kayak across the lake and back, I was happy to trade with Terri, so she could coach from the water and have a little fun too, while I relaxed on the trolling boat with my face to the sun and my attention to Steve’s description of how they were doing. I loved the gentle rocking as we rounded an island, following the others in the water. Everybody loved the experience. Too bad my daughter and her youngest are victims of motion sickness, because I know they would have loved it otherwise.

As we climbed back into the car with our wet clothes and filthy water shoes, I was reminded of a saying I often quote. We must have had a good time since we’re wet and dirty. The rain held off too, and the oppressive heat backed off, so we could have dinner on the patio. What a perfect start for their long-awaited visit. Thanks to Steve for providing entertainment, so a visit to Grammie’s would be fun. 

What Now? Kayaking?

As part of the Ski for Light family, I’m always impressed with all the other athletic endeavors my friends enjoy when they aren’t skiing, and until today, I could only claim cycling and hiking to my list of other activities. I can now claim that I have learned to kayak. As you will see in the video if you are reading this on my website, I am in my own kayak, paddling on my own steam, and not tethered to another kayak. This video was taken by my granddaughter from my son’s trolling boat. He kept very close, so he could give me directions to keep from running into the bank or into his friend Terri’s kayak. She kept very close to me on my other side, so she too could tell me to paddle more with the right or with the left to keep going straight. When you are totally blind, you really can’t tell which way you’re going, and “Go straight ahead means nothing when you’re on the water. But I was able to paddle correctly and not tip over, and those two accomplishments made it a successful crossing of the lake.

We were blessed with partly cloudy skies and almost no wind, so the lake looked smooth as glass—perfect for my first solo attempt. I had walked Dora in the morning, and then gave my arms a workout in the afternoon, but with the help of people I love, I made it! And I’m very proud of myself. Who would ever think that at my age, I’d be learning a new sport? It should be a new knitting pattern or maybe the ukulele. But this is way more fun.

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Bashful Birthday Girl

We all have our pandemic stories, everything from losing loved ones to the Corona Virus to being bored. I’ve written here about recruiting my friend Dan to take Dora and me to a metro park for a change of scenery and for a break in the boredom of walking the same old streets in our neighborhood, week after week.

But here’s something I hadn’t considered. My guide dog would become so used to being the only dog in her life that when the opportunity to introduce doggy company into her humdrum life, it would be very frightening. I’ve read that people are hesitant to join back into groups, because they have been so used to being alone. They fear being around other people. But the same can be true of our dogs. When I went to the beauty shop for the first time in months, Dora trembled with apprehension. She was very uncomfortable with all the conversations that were going on around us. I was not prepared for this. I thought she would be like me, happy to be with real live people again.

Dora will soon be eight years old, so I latched onto the idea I had several years ago of having a doggy birthday party. My friends Dave and Kathy brought their darling Goldendoodles over for a romp in the yard, a treat for them, as they don’t have a fenced in yard like we do. As they clambered out of the car and galloped over to where I was sitting with Dora on leash, they were so excited to see Dora and me that they were jumping all over each other. It was going to be a party indeed! But the birthday girl wasn’t used to such exuberance, so she tried to hide under the bench where I was sitting. I hadn’t expected that. We see this behavior with little kids, but apparently, it happens with dogs too. We herded them into the house and out into the back yard. Just like before, Winifred and Baggins seemed to enjoy exploring the yard, while Dora only had eyes for Dave, who obligingly tossed the Kong for her at least a hundred times. Next it was time to sing happy birthday and enjoy their Frosty Paws, a special ice cream-like product for dogs. Kathy held one cup for one dog, and I held one for each of two dogs. As you can see in the video, we had three happy dogs, licking their peanut butter treats with constantly wagging tales.

When it was time to go home, our doggy guests each got a toy, but of course they each wanted what the others had. This is why they get their party favors as they go out the door. The dogs had fun, but the people enjoyed it more. And the birthday girl wondered “What was that all about?”

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Ribbit ribbit

Let me start by telling you I am not a fan of amphibians, not by any means. In fact, they go in the eewooo category. But after reading a story in the Columbus Dispatch about a special exhibit at Dawes Arboretum, I suggested it to Dan as our next park destination.

The Ribbit Exhibit, as it is cleverly called, is a collection of sculptures made by an artist who had chosen frogs as his subjects. I expected it would be some little frogs and some big frogs, but I was delighted to discover these frogs were portrayed as doing very unfroglike activities.

The first one we came to was a big frog getting ready to play leap frog over a smaller frog, who was about to leap over yet a smaller frog. I posed as if I were about to leap over the first frog, and thus began our photos of Mary having fun with the frogs. The next frog was about my size, standing up and playing a banjo. The caption for this photo of me pretending to kiss him is “Sometimes you just have to kiss some frogs….” Some others I liked were the frog riding a bike, one taking his dog for a walk, and another using binoculars to scan for flies I guess. He was part of a windmill-like structure that carried him around in a counter-clockwise motion with the wind. But my favorite was the couple dancing. She wore a dress, and he wore a vest with a dress shirt, complete with cufflinks. They were in ballroom dance position, which of course touched my heart. I would caption this one, “Froggy went a courtin’.”

Dawes Arboretum is near Newark Ohio, about an hour’s drive from Columbus. And the Ribbit Exhibit will be there all summer. It is a beautiful setting, peaceful and fun at the same time. You will not see flashing lights or animation, but you will smile, I’m sure.

Address: 7770 Jacksontown Rd, Newark, OH 43056

Ribbit the Exhibit daily through September 8

Larger than life Frog sculptures created by J. A. Cobb

Included with admission

Lyman Whitaker’s Wind Sculptures daily through October 17

Works of art moving with the wind

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Article about dangerous ingredient in sun screne and hand sanitizers from USA Today News Section 2021 06 09

Please check your sun screen and hand sanitizer. If it contains benzene, you need to check the level. It can cause cancer.

From: NFB-NEWSLINE Online <publications@nfbnewsline.net>
Sent: Wednesday, June 9, 2021 9:03 AM
To: Mary Hiland <mary.hiland@wowway.com>
Subject: Article from USA Today News Section 2021 06 09

Report: Sunscreens contaminated with benzene By Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY After losing out on an entire summer to the pandemic last year, Americans are eager to lather up with sunscreen and head to their nearest beaches now that vaccines have stifled coronavirus transmission in the U.S. But a recent report found dozens of popular sunscreen products have been contaminated with a chemical, called benzene, that is known to cause cancer. Valisure, a Connecticut-based online pharmacy and laboratory, tested and analyzed 294 unique batches from 69 different companies and found 78 sunscreen and after-sun care products contained the chemical. Benzene is not an ingredient of sunscreen products. Health experts speculate the chemical may have contaminated these products during the manufacturing process, as benzene levels varied between batches of the same product from the same companies. The company’s citizen petition is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to recall 40 sunscreen and after-sun care products found to contain higher levels of benzene. The brands include Neutrogena, Sun Bum, CVS Health and Fruit of the Earth. Valisure also is requesting the FDA recall tested products made by Raw Elements, SunBurnt, Goodsense, Banana Boat, TopCare Everyday and EltaMD, although benzene levels in these products fell within the agency’s allowable concentration limit of 2 parts per million. In statements sent to USA TODAY, the companies said they were reviewing information from the petition. Neutrogena topped the list of products with the highest levels of benzene. "We take the information shared in the citizen’s petition very seriously and are acting with the utmost urgency," the company said in a statement. "We are committed to making high-quality, safe and effective sunscreens available to consumers as sunscreen is critical to public health. The report, published just after Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, comes just months after Valisure found benzene in 44 of 260 hand sanitizer products it tested in March. "It is unfortunately apparent that benzene contamination is a broad and very concerning issue in the American consumer product supply chain, and it underscores the critical need for independent testing," said David Light, founder and CEO of Valisure. The FDA said in a statement to USA TODAY that it would continue to monitor the sunscreen marketplace and its manufacturing efforts while it evaluates the citizen petition. "The agency reminds manufacturers, distributors, repackagers and importers they are responsible for the quality of their products and urges manufacturers to test their ingredients to ensure they meet specifications and are free from harmful contamination," the statement said. The products ranged from lotions to aloe and gel, but more than half of the listed products were sprays. Health experts say sprays may be more dangerous than lotions because there’s a higher chance of inhaling the harmful contaminants. Benzene is a chemical that can be found in both natural and manufacturing processes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can be found in volcanoes and forest fires, as well as crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke. While benzene is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the U.S., the American Cancer Society said benzene is known to cause cancer. Long-term exposure to benzene mainly harms the bone marrow and has been associated with blood cancers such as leukemia. Some industries employ benzene to make other chemicals used in making plastics, resins, nylon, synthetic fibers, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides, the CDC says. "To put it into context, benzene is all around us it’s in tobacco smoke, it’s in gasoline, it’s in the air outside when we walk around," said Dr. Min Deng, dermatologist at Medstar Health. "The indoor levels of benzene are higher than the outdoor levels of benzene. Any level of benzene is harmful to humans, but Deng urges consumers to continue to wear sunscreen, as the sun is known to cause the most common cancer in the United States – skin cancer. According to the CDC, about 4.3 million adults are treated for the most common types of skin cancer – basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas – each year. "The link between the sun and skin cancer is stronger than the link between smoking and lung cancer," she said. "I would urge patients to review the list, find a product on the list that was tested as benzene contaminant-free and try to use those products. Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.

This article is provided to you as a courtesy of NFB-NEWSLINE? Online for your sole use. The content of this E-mail is protected under copyright law, and is not to be distributed in any manner to others; infringement of our non-dissemination agreement is strictly prohibited. Allowing someone to have access to this material is in violation of the Terms of Use agreement that you electronically signed when you signed up for NFB-NEWSLINE? Online. Please do not forward this E-mail or its attachments to any other person or disseminate it in any manner. Thank you. The NFB-NEWSLINE? Team.

Is a Guide Dog a Service Animal?

Is a Guide Dog a Service Animal?

It used to be that whenever a person encountered a guide dog, they assumed it was a Seeing Eye ® dog. They called all guide dog Seeing Eye dogs, or maybe blind dogs or eye dogs. The point is, they knew the dog’s purpose was to help a blind person, even if they didn’t know the proper term. They also didn’t know that there are many dog guide training schools in the U.S. and even in other countries. Many of them are top notch, but The Seeing Eye was the first one in our country and remains one of the best. I might say THE best, but I know of many fine dogs from other schools.

But nowadays, the term that most people use is “service animal.” It has appeared in all media as the dog that is allowed to ride on planes, accompany their handlers in restaurants and even in medical buildings. Service animals recently have been defined as dogs only. In other words, you can’t have a cat that can be accepted as a service animal. You can look up all that information on line, so I won’t go into that here. My purpose in writing about this subject is that we seem to have gone full circle. When I encounter people with questions about my dog, they want to know about my “service animal.” For some reason, this rubs me the wrong way. I am very proud that she is a graduate of The Seeing Eye in Morristown, N.J. I don’t like it that she is lumped in with that vague term of “service animals.” In fact, today I will go so far as to say that young people don’t even understand what service she provides.

I was walking with Dora in my neighborhood the other day, when a dog seemed to appear out of nowhere right in front of Dora and was barking its head off. Of course I stopped Dora and tried to make myself look as big and authoritative as possible and yelled “No!” toward the barking dog. The young girl with the dog must have giggled or made some sort of comment—I can’t remember now, because I was more concerned with Dora’s safety—but I did ask, “Do you have your dog under control?” She said she did, but obviously she did not. In my community, it’s a misdemeanor to distract a guide dog while it’s working and I could have reported her. She would have been given a fine. But all I wanted to do was get away from that obnoxious dog. Most of the time, the obnoxious dogs are in their own yards, and Dora just ignores them, but this was a little too close for comfort. BTW, yelling NO at a dog that comes running toward us is my usual response. I believe that “no” is a word they are used to hearing, and it usually stops them long enough for us to move along. As usual, I regretted not stopping to talk to the child and explain to her how her dog was preventing my dog from doing her work, which was to guide me, because I am blind. I’d be willing to bet money that she had no idea what that harness on Dora’s body meant.

Most of the time, the troubles I have with the uninformed public is the “no petting” rule. Petting a guide dog or otherwise distracting it from it’s job of guiding can be dangerous for the person, and could cause a serious injury. And to top it off, a lot of people think they are exempt from that rule because they love dogs or they have a dog at home. I just want to say, “Go home and pet your own dog. Mine has work to do, and you’re in her way.” Instead, I write to you, Dear Reader and hope the word gets around.

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com