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

Community Calls

In my last post, I mentioned the Community Calls that The American Council of the Blind, (ACB) sponsors. Because I’m no longer part of the decision-making mechanism, I don’t know whose idea it was to create this service, but they deserve big-time recognition at the national convention in July. We all have learned the importance of face to face communication because of the necessity to curtail it for our own health. But we found that it was also creating mental and emotional problems that were just as big as the Corona virus itself.

As human beings, we need to be with other human beings, to have live conversations, to have interactions, and to be touched. Unfortunately, the third important need had to be postponed except for families and those who live together, but we found ways to communicate with live conversations and interactions. Zoom became a household word and became a life-saver in a very literal sense.

Business meetings were the first to utilize the platforms such as Zoom, but then social meetings began to use it as well. I was drawn into Zoomland by my writers group, my book club, a story-telling group, and even opening presents on Christmas Day. I watch my church service and participate in my Sunday school and Bible study groups via Zoom. I think it’s the best thing to come along since the telephone. Years ago, I would have thought the whole concept was kind of science fictiony. Now, I owe much of my survival of sheltering in place to this wonderful invention.

ACB came to the rescue for thousands of blind individuals all over the world who were stuck at home with very little social interaction on a daily basis. I was one of them. I’m not sure how I heard about these social meetings that were going on all day, every day, but once I logged on, I knew I had discovered a treasure. Some of these hour-long “Community Calls” are designed to educate, like recipe swaps, dog guide handlers’ discussions, technology webinars, yoga classes, mental health lectures, guitar lessons, knitting groups, and book chats. Many others are designed to help people get to know one another with games and reminiscing stories, all hosted and facilitated by ACB volunteers. These sessions, all of them are truly building a community. Everyone, who wants to, has a chance to talk, and while email addresses and phone numbers are not shared during the calls, there is a way for individuals to connect for private conversations. Talking to your computer is not the same as having coffee in your neighbor’s kitchen, but it’s far better than watching TV for hours or even listening to talking books, although there is a place for both .

Now that the Y has opened up, although the hours are limited, and social distancing makes it a bit awkward at times, and now that some restaurants have survived, and that most of my friends have been vaccinated, I expect that I will not be so dependent on the Community Calls, but I sincerely hope that they continue for people who are not as fortunate as I am and don’t have the opportunities I enjoy. And there are some that are my favorites, and I will treat them like a favorite TV show.

Thank you ACB for making this past year and a half bearable a

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

Parts of Pandemic Prevail

Parts of Pandemic Prevail

And this is a good thing in many ways. I have just begun to put my toe in the waters of modifying my pandemic behaviors.

I still wear a mask when around other people, which is rare, mostly in doctors’ offices, PT, and other medical facilities. But since I’ve been fully vaccinated, and many others have as well, I’m feeling a little more freedom. I no longer sit in the back seat of my friend’s car with my mask on. What a relief to be sitting up front like an adult. I’ve actually been to a restaurant twice since a year ago March. Until now, the only restaurant visits have been in a drive-through venue. All of my leisure activities have been outside, walking in my neighborhood or at a metro park with my friend Dan.

But here’s the part I like. It was because of the pandemic that I asked Dan to take us to a park to walk, because Dora was so bored, and so was I. We have been visiting all 19 metro parks, repeating our favorites, once a week. Afterward, we go to a drive-through restaurant for lunch, so that means at least one meal a week that I don’t have to prepare or plan for. The masks come down while we’re outside, but the fun continues.

I’m not a movie buff, but I love classical music concerts and musicals. I’ve attended more this past year than usual, because I watch them on Zoom. The tickets are much less expensive than theater tickets, and I have the best seat in the house. I wear my wireless headset, and the music is as alive as if I were right there on stage.

One night last year, ProMusica presented a concert in drive-in movie style. We put our chairs in front of our parked car and enjoyed the music outside and with plenty of distance from other music-lovers. I hope they do that again, but now they are presenting special programming for Zoom performances, and aside from having to enjoy them alone, I can hear the music better that way.

Grocery-shopping is a real challenge for my non technical brain, as I have to fill out an order form on line. It’s not easy, especially when the “dictate” function doesn’t understand what I said, but the flip side of this task is that I often stumble on to products I had never heard of. It’s been fun to try new treats that a human shopper might not mention as we fly by with our cart. There is the positive side, but I’ll be so glad to go to the store myself with a friend again.

My church and Sunday School are now both on Zoom and in person for those who feel a closer relationship to God if they worship in His house. They keep urging me to join them, and I keep saying no. What they don’t understand is that it’s not that I don’t have to get dressed in street clothes or to get a ride, although to tell the truth, that’s part of it. It’s just off-putting to sit 6 feet away from everybody and not shake hands or tell who’s speaking to me behind that mask.

Perhaps the part that I hope never goes away is the ACB Community Calls. These are Zoom meetings, seminars, and conversations for fun with other blind folks around the world. We talk about everything from guide dogs to reminiscing about our childhoods. We are making the best of the pandemic. I’m dipping in my toe, but I’m not jumping in and making a big splash.

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

Sermon from the Back Seat

Sermon from the Back Seat

I was riding home from the Y the other day in a LYFT car when I suddenly remembered that I didn’t have my mask on. All drivers and passengers are required to wear masks.

“Oh that’s OK,” said the driver. It doesn’t bother me.” That’s when I pulled my sleeve across my face.

“Are you fully vaccinated?” I asked.

“No, I’m going to wait and see how other people do. I’m not sure these shots are safe.”

That’s when my blood pressure began to rise. Who did he think he was? Di he think he was smarter than the top medical scientists in the world? He’s a LYFT driver. Why should he question them? As I heard someone say, “Nobody is safe until we’re all safe.”

Here’s the thing he is not considering. He told me he doesn’t go around crowds, but what about the constant stream of strangers climbing into his back seat? We all may be vaccinated, but we can still be carriers. If a virus is floating around, we’ll be 95% protected, but he will be 100% vulnerable. Another attitude that makes my blood boil is the people who say they have a right to not get vaccinated. It should be everyone’s personal choice. But I say what if we all felt that way? We’d never attain herd immunity. What if people felt that way about Smallpox? Or Polio?

We have enough problems in the world that we can’t do anything about. Here’s something we can. Just roll up your sleeve and be a big boy. Maybe your mom will buy you a toy and take you to McDonald’s.

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

Mountains and Lakes

Like the ground hog who pokes his head out at the beginning of February to see when spring is coming, I opened my front door to determine the safety and enjoyment of walking in my neighborhood. Some people, like my snow angel, Ron, had cleared their front sidewalks. Some had left the snow there to harden into impassable slabs of ice. When Dan took us for a walk around the neighborhood on Thursday, it was a test of Dora’s memory of what to do about these dangerous mini ice rinks. Having a “4-wheel drive,” they were no problem for her, so she just kept on charging ahead in her excited state, while I slid around, trying not to do the splits or land on a body part. Dan was right behind me with a hand extended to catch me, which I needed once or twice.

Clearly, Dora needed a refresher in ice mobility. Back in 2014, when she was a brand new certified Seeing Eye dog, she was very impressive with her ability to spot ice ahead and would slow down for me. But over the years of having not so much snow, she’s become a little rusty in that skill. So we practiced, and yesterday, we ventured out on our own.

Most of the sidewalks were clear of snow, since we had had a couple of days of warmer temps, but now and then, Dora had to remember how to negotiate the places where the home owners had neglected their front walks, and over this brutally cold month, the ice had remained, especially in the shady spots, not that we ever had that much sun.

She did very well, having paid attention to her refresher, but twice, it might have been comical to watch me in action.

Snowplows typically dump their loads on the edges of the crosswalks as they make their turns. When we try to cross a street, Dora tries to search for a path through the mountains of snow. After a few seconds of her frustration, I just drop the harness and step over the mound and encourage her to follow by leaping over it. Yesterday, when I attempted this feat, I discovered that the mound was wider than I expected and almost did the splits. But it’s a good thing I’m fairly agile. A few blocks later, as we turned a corner, Dora took me into the grass instead of keeping me on the sidewalk. After I questioned her for not staying on the sidewalk, I found out that the sidewalk was completely impassable. A line of overgrown bushes has prevented any sun from melting that ice for several yards, so I just grabbed the bushes as I walked along until the bushes came to an end.

Today, we had a different kind of adventure. After a “melt-down,” the sidewalks were clear of snow, but the low places were filled with deep puddles. With water over my ankles, I was glad it was relatively warm and that my shoes were washable. Always an adventure. Stay tuned for the next one.

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

For the Love of Snow

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved snow. I loved to make snow men and snow women. I loved sledding, until the day I slammed head first into a stone wall and had to have stitches. When I learned to cross country ski, I was in Heaven, gliding over the rolling terrain at Ski for Light, but I never learned to love skiing downhill. I loved ice skating, both on a smooth-as-glass rink and on a wrinkly pond. I loved making snowballs to throw for my dog, only to have them crumble in her mouth. I loved walking in frozen air, when snowflakes were just beginning to appear. All you have to do is take your dog out early in the morning before dawn, and you witness the beauty of a winter’s gift. There is nothing so beautiful as walking on freshly fallen snow, when your steps are silent, and your whole neighborhood has been blanketed with the tranquility that creates the feeling of family.

The other day, someone remarked on how beautiful the snow was and that it was too bad that I couldn’t enjoy it. What was she talking about? There are so many more ways of enjoying snow than looking at it. Snow is God’s way of giving us something in winter to be happy about.

That last paragraph came from the memories I have stored up to cheer me in this grey and gloomy time. The truth is that it seems to me that a pandemic is enough without adding a huge snow and ice storm to lock me inside. Today, taking my dog out early in the morning is not a joy to celebrate the beautiful snow but a challenge to keep from falling on my face as I negotiate the clumps of ice to her favorite spot to empty. In fact, she doesn’t get to go to her favorite spot, because I’m not about to trudge through 8 inches of snow and ice to the end of the yard. I took my daughter’s advice and commanded that “right here,” a few feet from the back patio is just fine. And amazingly enough, she complies. I usually have someone shovel a patch of snow, so she can have a place where she doesn’t have to dip her bottom into the snow, but it came too fast this year.

I’m itching to get out and walk, but unfortunately, not everybody shovels the sidewalk in front of their houses, like my next door neighbor does. He even shovels mine. I call him my snow angel, because as soon as the snow stops, I hear him out there shoveling my driveway and sidewalks. Every older person should be so lucky. I used to enjoy shoveling my own snow until my back issues put a stop to it. It’s going up to 24 today. Maybe I should get out there and try to make a snowman for old time’s sake. But a better idea is to take a walk with my friend Dan, so that’s just what I did, and it was wonderful.

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

Hiding in a Tree

M n D in a treeJanuary 6, 2021 was one of the worst days in our nation’s history, but I was blissfully unaware of all the ugliness that was happening at the Capitol, as Dan and I walked through the peacefulness of Pickerington Ponds Metro Park in a different part of the world. As people shouted their protests and worked themselves up into destructive craziness, we smiled at the joy that my Seeing Eye dog Dora showed in her constantly wagging tail. Once again, this was one happy dog as she gayly trotted down the trail, stopping now and then to investigate some delicious smell. Meanwhile, Dan pointed out some wonders of nature, like the couple of swans that put on a show for us, flying from one point to another on the pond.

But the special effect for me was the hollow tree that Dan spotted and encouraged me to step inside. What a weird feeling to be standing completely inside the trunk of a tree. Here’s a picture, or you would never believe it.

The sky was a flat slate of grey, and we encountered many puddles and swampy patches in the trail. But several other people thought it was a good day to go for a walk too. We all came home with muddy paws or boots, but our day was a winner compared to what Congress had to face. Please keep our world in

your thoughts and prayers. Let hollow trees, cloudy skies and beautiful swans calm our troubled hearts.

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