Mega Puddles

Flood watches have meant nothing to me, since I don’t live near a river or a stream, but all that has changed over the past week. Once the snow and ice began to melt, and the rains came down for days on end, I knew Dora and I would be stuck in the house until cabin fever would force me out.

That happened last Wednesday when the temps were in the 50’s, and spring was in the air. The sidewalks were wet, but who cared? Not us. It just felt so great to be walking outside. Then suddenly, I was up to my ankles in a mega puddle, a term I have stolen from a newsletter I subscribe to called “Our Daily Wit.” These weren’t just puddles that were deeper than I thought, but small lakes that came up to my ankles, soaking not only my shoes and socks but also the bottoms of my jeans. I was not going to cut my walk short, just because of a little water, but as my feet began to get numb, I changed my mind, and we headed home.

Fortunately, I had thought to leave a towel in the garage for wiping off Dora’s feet, so we went through the garage. First was a vigorous toweling off for Dora and then an immediate stripping down for me, once I got in the house. Straight to the laundry room I went, throwing shoes, socks, pants, and grubby towel into the washer.

And here’s the ironic part. I just did it all again today. Yesterday, my daughter ordered rain boots for me, but they won’t get here until tomorrow. This is assurance that the rain will stop, the sun will come out, and all the ice will gently melt into the grass without forming rivers in the streets—all because I’m finally getting rain boots.

You can all thank me later if this really happens.

Mary Hiland

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

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

Published in Toastmasters International Alumni newsletter

In response to a request from Toastmasters back in August, I wrote a 250 word story about how my Toastmasters experience has helped me after I decided not to renew my membership, but to move on to other endeavors. I dashed off the story and then promptly forgot about it. then I received a message last week saying they were going to use my story. “What story? For What magazine?” I was having a real senior moment. The senior copywriter sent me the story I had sent in, and oh yes, then I remembered writing it. I didn’t realize it was going to be a separate newsletter, devoted to stories from alumni of Toastmasters International. Instead of just taking my story as I had written it, they wrote one about me, with lots of quotes from what I had written. It’s still mostly mine, and I wanted to share it with you. the name of the publication is “Toastmasters Alumni, Learn the Latest.” You can probably find it at

Portrait of Success

Book-Signing Smarts

How do you extinguish monotony at your book reading? If you’re Mary Hiland, an author and blogger who happens to be blind, you call upon lessons previously learned at Toastmasters, including that of vocal and visual variety.

“A book-signing can be as boring as a literature lecture, but as a former Toastmaster, I first took vocal variety to the highest level, by asking my friends to read sections of the book for me,” she says. “I couldn’t read it myself, because I’m blind, but I introduced each person before they read.”

Hiland also incorporated visual variety by having each of her readers stand when they spoke. “I stood whenever I spoke, but when my readers would stand to read, I would sit down,” she recalls.

Hiland brought plenty of copies of her book, “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: A Daughter’s Memoir,” to the book signing and held it up for people to see. She encouraged questions and comments; she incorporated humor and seemingly made eye contact, “as I am pretty good at faking it,” she relays.

She knew her audience—one of the “cardinal rules of Toastmasters,” she states. In this case, it was a group of seniors who either had just gone through the process of moving a parent into assisted living or knew it was coming soon.

Hiland made sure she practiced her opening monologue, the segues into each reading and her ending, just as she would when delivering a speech at her former Toastmasters club.

The one mistake she made? “Not bringing enough books to sign—a sign of success!” Hiland exclaims. She credits Toastmasters for her book-signing smarts.

Mary Hiland

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

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

Free Piano

20190123_142603I want to give the gift of music to a child or adult who is ready to receive it. Yes, I said “give,” as in free. All you have to do is come and get it. Apparently, it’s very hard to find a new home for an old piano, and believe me, I have given a lot of thought to having my piano go out the door. But I refuse to put it on the curb and wait for someone to haul it off to put in a flea market or chop it up for fire wood. This piano has brought joy to my family for years, and now it’s time to let it do the same for another lover of piano music. Please contact me via email at


with “free piano” in the subject line.

If you read my book, “The Bumpy road to Assisted Living a Daughter’s Memoir,” you will see how important the piano has been to my mother and to me. Many fond memories will go out the door with this spinet-size Gulbransen maker of beautiful music.

Mary Hiland

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

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261