Pictures on the Fridge

Kirby Ave Mary & Dogs Babe & Candy

We’ve all posted our children’s artwork on the fridge, and many of us have magnetic memorabilia that make us smile each time we open the fridge door. My daughter Kara has taken that idea to a new level.

Recently, we sorted through ancient photo albums that had belonged to my late mother, throwing out the ones that meant nothing to me or to her—photos of long-ago friends of my mother whom I never knew, because I wasn’t born yet. Some of them I have saved to go into my next book, “Insight out One Blind woman’s View of her Life,” and some Kara kept for her own collection.

Knowing it might be years before she would find the time to put them in albums or hang them on the wall, she came up with a creative idea to introduce her daughters to the people in our family who came before her.

Each day, she tapes a different picture to the fridge. It might be my grandmother. It might be me as a little girl or of Kara when she herself was a baby. When the older girls come home from school, they say, “Let’s see who’s featured on the fridge today. Who is that?”

To me, this sounds like a much better way to display those old photos. Here’s one I especially like and had forgotten. Maybe I’ll do that myself if I can get somebody to help me so I don’t hang them upside down. LOL

If you are getting this post in your inbox, the photo will not come with it, so you’ll need to go to my website to “admire” it. It’s me as a little girl posing with my two Dalmatians, Babe and Candy. Babe was Candy’s mom, and Candy was our pick of the litter. Weren’t we adorable?


Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261


Proof on the Roof

Bumping and thumping and scrambling around noises woke me at 3:30 in the morning. My heart started bumping and thumping as well. Someone or something had got into my attic and threatened to break into my house from the ceiling, or so I feared. I slipped out of bed and in my barefeet padded into the hallway to listen more carefully. The sounds continued for several minutes, causing me to wonder in terror what I should do. Blind and living alone, I believed the time had come to get help. Reasoning that I pay taxes for this service, I dialed 911. The female dispatcher pleasantly and without complaint for such an insignificant request for someone to come to help me, kept me on the phone until the officer had arrived, looked around my yard and rung the doorbell. We chatted briefly through the screen door, because by then, the noises had gone away and my heart had returned to a normal beat. He asked me kindly if I wanted the squad, but I told him no thanks. He left, and of course then all thumps and bumps disappeared for the rest of the night.

But the whole noises-in-the-attic episode returned the next night, only this time at about 10:30, early enough for my screams directed at the hallway ceiling would probably only affect whatever or whoever had decided to play, fight, or mate in my attic. “Get off my roof!” I yelled with as much force as I could muster from the depth of my diaphragm. I repeated my big bad voice several times, and sure enough, the noises stopped. But I had had it.

My son Steve may not visit me regularly or call to chat, but when I call him with a request for help like this, he responds immediately. The next night, he climbed up onto the roof and discovered about 20 piles of skat, confirming my suspicion of uninvited night visitors. He walked around on the roof and noted that the torrential rains or some animal created an eight-inch hole in the roof, thus a convenient entry to the attic. Steve came in and pronounced, “you’ve got good news and bad news.” His interpretation of good news boiled down to my imagination’s not having run away with me. The bad news consisted of serious damage to my roof.

Now here comes the best part of this story. Steve stepped up and completely took over. He called my insurance company and actually talked to a real person. He called Varmint Guard and made an appointment for an inspection. I suspect and yes, hope, that he and the inspector can meet here, so he can show her what he has found.

I have had to deal with so many home-owner woes on my own, everything from fruit flies to water in the basement every time it rained to trees that needed trimming to overgrown arborvitae to dead grass to gutters that needed repair to a bowing retaining wall that threatens to collapse that on more than one occasion, I have considered moving to a condo. You can be sure those thoughts of condos danced in my dreams that second night of terrorizing guests in the attic, but I like my house, and I love my son , especially for coming through when I really need him. I feel taken care of at these times, and it feels good.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story in another post.

Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

Mother/Daughter Memories

image1Today, I want to share with you an update on my redecorating in the form of a writing exercise I incorporated into the prompt for our writing group within The Transition Network, TTN. We were to describe a room. I’ve always been a little fearful of writing dialog, but here goes.

Standing in my newly redecorated kitchen, my daughter Kara gazed around with approval. “It’s beautiful,” she exclaimed. “It looks so clean and bright without the wall paper. The modern flooring and the white painted walls make it a whole new kitchen.”

“I’m told the laminated floor actually looks like wood, “I said, “and I adore walking across this carpet in the dining area in my bare feet–It’s so lush.”

Kara agreed. “It’s a great color, a warm brown mixed with a bit of gray, very ‘in’.”

“Did you see what I have on the wall over the table?” I asked, sweeping my arm in presentation. “It’s a photo of a cardinal, taken by Roberta who is a professional photographer.”

Kara walked over and leaned forward to get a better look. “I love it. It’s so cheerful, with his bright red against that snowy branch. And I see you found place mats with a male cardinal that looks just like him, and darling cardinal salt and pepper shakers, too. Is this going to be your new kitchen theme? No more teapots and blue willow dishes?”

“Oh no,” I said,” turning to face the cabinets over the sink. “Look up there. Mom’s teapots are still marching along, and I will never take down Grandma’s Blue Willow.”

Kara sniffed the air significantly. “Are you baking something? It smells delicious.”

“Oh my gosh,” I said as I whirled around to the stove. “It’s the bran muffins.” Just then, Alexa chimed in with, “Your muffins are done. Your muffins are done.”

Still taking in the new look, as I pulled the muffins out of the oven, Kara said, “I just noticed that the color of your laminate is the same as your cabinets, that light honey brown. It feels warm and inviting. M…M…M…those muffins look yummy.”

“After we let them cool enough to take out of the pan, we’ll have one,” I promised as I tapped the top of each muffin, testing for doneness.

As we bit into the buttery muffins and sipped our tea, Kara noticed that the table had been refinished. “I like this new look on your table.”

“It feels different, rough and rustic, since I had it refinished, but I guess it looks nice. I will never get rid of this table. You bought it for me that Christmas while you were living with me, getting your masters at OSU.” We sipped our tea in companionable silence as we thought about how wonderful it was to be together again. This kitchen is full of memories, and we were making new mother/daughter ones today.

If you’d like to see the cardinal photo up close, please visit

Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

The Ice Cream Man

I was walking along in my neighborhood one Sunday afternoon when I heard that unmistakable sound of a happy tune floating over the area from the original version of a food truck. If I’d had little kids with me, they’d be jumping up and down clamoring for money for the ice cream man. when my kids were little, all they needed was a quarter or two, but they would come running from wherever they were, bolting into the house and scrambling for their piggy banks. The urgency for this dramatic event always baffled me. We had plenty of ice cream treats in the freezer, but treats from the ice cream man were worth even scraped knees and elbows as they flew out the door and out to the street in order to catch him before he drove off. Every summer, as I heard the song, “Turkey in the Straw,” I knew the season had begun. But on this day, the tune was a little different. It started of with a cheery “Hello!” in a female voice. I was fooled at first in thinking it was a real live young woman, so I turned and waved. But I realized my error as I kept hearing her call out “Hello!” over and over as the truck drove slowly down the street and turned the corner. I wondered what they were selling these days. When my kids were a little older, the big sellers were Bomb Pops and Pushups, which by that time were more like a dollar apiece. There was no real ice cream, like when I was a kid.

When I was very small, the ice cream man walked down the center of the street pushing a freezer on wheels, and he called out with his own voice, “Eskimo Pies…Eskimo Pies.” Now that was a real treat. Later, as a teen, the ice cream man sold soft serve ice cream in cones, and when I heard that jaunty little tune, it was my dad who walked out to the street, digging his wallet out of his pocket. He bought 4 cones, one for each of us, and one for each of the 2 Dalmatians we had at the time. It was so darling to see them holding their ice cream cones between their crossed paws, licking as fast as they could, and then holding a paw up to their foreheads with an ice cream headache. I wish I had a picture to show you, but you probably have your own memories of the ice cream man in your neighborhood.

Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

A Few Words Are Worth a Thousand Pictures

My late mother has been gone for almost 5 years, but most of her keepsakes wound up at my house. I have dealt with most of them, the ones that I could identify by touch, but the hundreds of photographs were my nemesis. She had mounted them neatly in dozens of albums, and some actually had names and dates written on the back, although many were in pencil and barely legible. There were also duplicates of duplicates. Others had puzzling captions like “He was 4 in this picture.” Who? When? It was a mystery to my daughter and me as we poured over the mountain of albums together last week. Kara was here for a conference for parents who home-school, and I had the privilege of attending with her, but when we were not downtown at the conference, we were working our way through many tasks that I had been saving up for her. My son was lucky enough to be out of town those days, or he would have been recruited to help. It was up to Kara to determine if this picture or that should be saved. I advised that if she did not recognize the people and there was no label, it just had to be pitched. No use saving a photo of someone she does not know. Certainly her children and future grandchildren will not value them either. Some decisions were easier than others, like when the photo was of a car or a river or an unknown house. People liked to take pictures of their cars back then, and most of the men had a cigarette in their mouths. It seemed heartless to throw away these images, but we had to remind ourselves that we were not throwing away the people themselves.

It was the same with the stacks of old school papers and letters from friends. In some cases, like the letters from my dad to my mother when he was in the Army, there was historical value. I enjoyed hearing some of the stories and essays I had written as a young child, but we had to discipline ourselves and not read every one, especially the letters from old boyfriends, or we would never get done. We’ll save those for a rainy day when the grandkids are here and might enjoy reading what Grandma had to say when she was their age. Maybe not.

I am happy to report that the albums have been cleared, and I must say I’m sorry to the garbage man who probably got a hernia carrying out my garbage and recycling today. But I feel so much lighter, knowing that those photos and papers have finally been organized or removed from my guest room. I was also delighted to find some photos that I plan to use in my next book, Insight Out, One Blind Woman’s View of her Life, which should come out this coming fall. I was afraid I didn’t have pictures of my children when they were babies or pictures of the Seeing Eye (r) dogs I had back in the 80’s and 90’s, but now I have them.

The lesson we learned and the one I want to pass on to you is, if you’re going to save that photo, for Goodness sake, attach labels, names, dates, places, and events. Your grandchildren will not have a clue what that is and will either agonize over what to do with it or just pitch it with all your other stuff that means nothing to them. Make those photos meaningful for the sake of your family history.

Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

Going to the Zoo with Granddaughters

Recently, my daughter and her oldest and youngest daughters were at my house for a life-changing visit. The oldest is a sophomore in high school and has begun her search for the perfect college. I was delighted that she was considering 3 in the Columbus area, but I questioned the wisdom of choosing one so far from home, as it is a 2-flight journey and quite expensive. “Is she prepared to stay at school until Christmas?” I asked my daughter.

“Well, I think she is considering coming home on weekends to Grammie’s,.” my daughter slyly replied. I was thrilled. The thought of having my sweet and thoughtful granddaughter spend weekends with me while she attended a nearby college was very appealing.

After a day of travel, which was stressful enough, and two intense days of touring 3 colleges, it was time to relax and have some fun together. We were lucky enough to finally have a bright and pleasant day to all go to the zoo, thanks to my generous friend Janet, who did the driving. She also took photos and was my guide while my daughter was busy with her 5-year-old. I had not been to the zoo in many years, and it was amazing to see how it has expanded and become much more entertaining. The highlight of the day for me was feeding the giraffes. In case you’ve never fed a giraffe at the zoo, you have to walk up a ramp to a platform nearly 15 feet high, so the giraffe can poke his head through an opening and gently take the overpriced leaf from your hand. There is no snatching with teeth but a gentle touch of the lips on your hand. Other new features were almost as much fun. Of course I had to have my picture taken sitting next to the brand new bronze statue of Jack Hannah sitting on a park bench, holding a penguin and another animal, which I think was a baby cheetah. Mrs. Hannah was standing behind her husband with one hand on his shoulder and the other on the cheetah. Both my granddaughters rode the camels, and there would have been a picture of me riding one too, except that I chickened out at the last minute. I think the highlight of the day for the 5-year-old was the pony rides. At first, she didn’t want to ride the train, but like any 5-year-old, she changed her mind when we were about as far away as we could get, and then she wanted to ride it twice, this time with Grammie. Another new feature was panning for “gems” for the kids. Seeing my interest in what this was all about, Janet insisted I get in there and try it too. Here’s a picture of the 3 of us, playing in the dirt and water. Later, when we got home, sorting those pretty rocks kept my 5-year-old busy for quite a long time, sorting and incorporating them into some sort of art project. Meanwhile, my college-bound granddaughter played along, all the while pondering which one of the dozen colleges she will have visited.. I hope it’s one near me. What a wonderful experience it will be for both of us. We may not get to go to the zoo, but we’ll go to concerts and plays, out for dinner, shopping, and to church. We’ll play Scrabble, watch a movie at home, cook together, and take long walks around the neighborhood. “Pick Grammie, pick me!” I want to say. But I have to remind myself, she’s choosing a college, not where she will spend her weekends. And oh yes, we do have to consider there might someday be a boyfriend in the picture too. Isn’t grandmothering a blast?

P.S. If you got this in your inbox, you will have to go to the website to see the pics.

Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

Goodbye Dear Little Piano

Watching my son and another man ease my piano out the front door felt like sending a child away to live with another family. I have such sweet memories of moving that piano from my mother and dad’s house in southern Indiana up to our house in Gahanna. We had rented a You-Haul, and when we finally pulled into their driveway after a 6-hour drive, my husband joked, “OK Steve. You take one end, and I’ll take the other, and we can get back on the road.” And then Steve, who was only about 5 or 6 began to cry, because he thought we were going to visit Grandma and Grandpa first. Of course we were, but Steve sometimes didn’t get my husband’s sense of humor. The other part of this memory occurred when we were driving across the bridge over the Ohio River, and I prayed that the kids would stay asleep in the back seat. I know that the weight of the piano made it hard to handle that You-Haul trailer, and especially going over the bridge, it made me very nervous. To add to my stress, the kids had found a turtle in the road in from of my parents’ house, and the turtle was riding in the trailer with the piano. I prayed it wouldn’t get squashed. The piano and the turtle both made it home safely, and the piano has enjoyed a long stay at my house. I can’t say the same for the turtle.

My daughter took piano lessons, but long before that, I took lessons myself. I learned to read braille music and memorized several classical pieces. I never did learn to play by ear. But I did enjoy learning and playing for my own pleasure. When my mother hosted a birthday party for my Aunt Vida who was turning 80, she asked me to play the piano. Normally, it would be my mother who would entertain the guests with music, but for this party, she would be busy hostessing. It was the one and only time I performed for other people, but because it was mostly family there, I wasn’t nervous. Now, when I hear a particular piece on the radio, like a Chopin waltz, I sigh with some regret, thinking, “I used to play that.” Every time I hosted a holiday party for my bike club, I gladly paid the money to have my piano tuned in preparation for the party. Several people in the club were very good pianists, and they would take turns at the piano. It always made me feel happy to have that piano played. It gave me more joy during those parties than at any other time, although there was one time that topped them all. That was when my mother and my very young granddaughter Meghan played Ode to Joy together, with Meghan playing her simplified version mostly in the treble keys, while Mom filled in with bigger chords. I am so thankful Steve caught it on his phone, and pulls it up from time to time when we get into a reminiscing mood. Meghan doesn’t play anymore, and neither do I. Kara’s daughter Brianna does, but she’s not here enough to make it worth taking up the space I need in my living room for other things.

I have moved that piano by myself to 3 of the 4 walls over the years, because I love rearranging furniture. Her final move came today, as she left with a very pleasant couple to claim her after my granddaughter placed an ad on line. They have 6 kids, and one is already quite good on the piano, and they are hoping the other kids will learn to play as well. One child has CP, and they are hoping to get a teacher who will come to their house. If playing piano music brings joy to that little girl, then it’s worth the sadness of saying goodbye to my long-time friend, my dear little spinet piano.

Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261