About Mary Hiland

Need a keynote speaker? Want a workshop that will wow your conference attendees? Been looking for just the right person to present a sensational sensitivity session? Mary Hiland is an “Advanced Communicator” in toastmasters International, a member of World Champion’s Edge, and is an experienced public speaker.

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

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

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

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

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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

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

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

Available at Amazon.com, 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

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

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

Available at Amazon.com, 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

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

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

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

Paying for my Dreams

I don’t happen to have thousands of dollars at my disposal for redecorating my house, so I did what most people do in my situation. I opened an account with Synchrony Bank to take 18 months to pay off the loan with no interest. Of course the catch is that if you don’t pay it off in 18 months, you have to pay 29% of the entire loan. I had done this before when I bought a new sofa, so I was familiar with the drill. I filled out the paper work to have equal payments withdrawn from my checking account. But when the first due date arrived, and no payment was withdrawn, I called the next day to complain. To make a long boring story shorter, they were going to charge me a late fee. Now I rarely yell at the customer service person, but this time, I lost it. “Oh no,” I said. “I am not paying a late fee. It was not my fault that they did not take out the payment from my checking account.” A few days later, I got a letter saying they would look into the matter. Just as I plan never to do business with Right rug again, I am never doing business with synchrony Bank again.

This upsetting exchange came on the heels of having the plumber charge me $346 to replace the seal on my toilet. $346! I’ve been told by friends that they got a completely new toilet and had the old one taken out and the new one installed for much less than that. I have a feeling that as a single female I was taken by Water Works, the company that Right rug contracts to take a toilet out and replace it when the bathroom floor is being replaced.

the next expense is going to be shaving off the bottom of the closet doors, because now the carpet pile is too high. Lucky for me, my friend from church, Paul, came over and fixed one set of closet doors and two bedroom doors, but the doors to my own closet need serious work. I hadn’t counted on that being a part of the makeover. When I casually mentioned to the Right rug man that my next project would be replacing the countertops, he wanted to take a giant leap back to the store to show me what they had. Not so fast. I have to pay off one project at a time. By the time I do that, it will be time for me to move into independent living, and I will not want to go, because then I will love my house and refuse to move.

Mary Hiland

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

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

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

New Carpet, a Hard-Earned Joy

??It’s been at least 20 years since I’ve had new carpet in my house, so I’d say it’s about time to update around here. I laugh when I remember how my volunteer Sherri and I went to pick out linoleum for the kitchen. I had no vision by then, so I had to rely completely on her taste and judgement, which made her very nervous. “Don’t even describe anything that’s ugly,” I advised. “Just tell me about the ones you would consider yourself.” My only suggestion was to find something that would blend in with paw prints from my dogs. For the carpet, I was completely on my own, just going by what the salesman described as he put down various samples in my living room. I chose one despite the name, Thunder Storm, which turned out to be a blueish dark grey, again to mask the dog prints.

This time, I had the good fortune to have my friend Valerie along with me, as well as her husband Mark to select the color at the store. It’s called Wonderful. I hope it is. It took a lot of frustration and irritation to be a part of my home décor.

Starting with a snarky person who answered my first call to Right rug, I was put off immediately. I suggested that someone come and bring samples. He told me they had 2,000 selections, so it would be better to come to the store. When we sat down to talk to Dan our soon to be salesman, he put down four samples, and that was it. I was expecting to be overwhelmed with choices. Four? As it turned out, Mark and Valerie both liked one, and that’s the one I now have in every room in my house. Next, we set a date, but they could only give me a window of eight hours for arrival. That meant I had to be dressed and ready at 8:00 a.m. and then possibly wait all day. No walk, no errands, no lunch out. Just sit and wait. So I prepared by bringing my lap top, my talking book player, a thermos of tea, and some snacks to the family room, the only room in the house not to be redone.

The next and most frustrating part of this adventure was selecting the laminate wood for the kitchen and bathroom. We chose a color, brought it home, rejected it, because it was too dark. then we brought it back, chose another color, brought it to the house, and decided it was right. Dan put in an order. So far so good. the next day, he told me that the manufacturer had stopped producing that color and had none left over, so back to the drawing board we went. We selected another color, which of course was not in stock, so I had to wait for it to come in. this time it was perfect, but it shouldn’t have been this hard.

Meanwhile, I had to move everything out of my closets and off the floor, strip the beds, find some place to store all this stuff and then make a list of where I put everything. My garage looked like a thrift shop on steroids. I had no idea I had so much stuff. I vowed that when I started putting everything away, I would only keep those items that “brought me joy.” Because I had been through this sort of experience with my mother’s belongings when we moved her into assisted living, it was not hard for me to sort out what I really wanted and needed. I recruited the help of my son and granddaughter McKenzie to carry armloads of clothes back up to the closet and heavy boxes of books. Then I recruited the other granddaughter Meghan to climb up on my countertops to put away the teapots and Blue willow dishes that I display in honor of my grandmother. now I have 6 empty storage bins in my garage. It’s been like moving, only moving back into the same house. But now this house has a fresh look and feel. My next adventure was with the lending institution, which I’ll have to talk about next time.

Mary Hiland

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

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

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

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

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

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

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261