Blacklick Woods 5th of 19

The last time I visited Blacklick Woods, I went cross country skiing with some bike club friends. That was back in the day when we had enough snow to ski on. They even had skis to rent. Now you know how long ago that was.

On Monday, Dan and Dora and I got an early start to take advantage of the cooler morning air. Dan had looked up the routes of the various paths, but we chose to use one that was almost exactly one mile around. Because the trails presented no particular challenges, we had plenty of opportunity to talk about many of the issues in the news, and Dan did his usual great job of describing what was around us. Dan was intrigued with the different kinds of trees and the sense that we really were in the woods. But at one point, we walked to a clearing that opened up to a beautiful lake. The park benches looked inviting for taking a break, but we stopped only long enough for a photo op. The only paved paths were in front of the nature center or whatever they call their little building in the middle of the park. It was closed, and that was fine with us, although as we passed it, Dora took a hard right toward the door, presuming that’s where we wanted to go. But once on the path, no matter whether it was gravel, dirt, or a board walk, she knew exactly what we wanted to do. As we tromped along the board walk, Dora was very careful not to let me get too close to the right edge. She wasn’t going to let Mommy slip off the edge like she did at Innis Woods. Her confidence was impressive. When the board walk took a sharp left, we turned on a dime without slowing at all. Twice, a person was walking toward us, and Dan watched as the person stopped and stood at his right and let Dora have her right of way, right down the middle. Dora didn’t even think about giving up any of our space. She’s not that rude on a sidewalk in our neighborhood, but she was on a mission.

When we had done about 3.27 miles by repeating that trail, Dan commented that like the Audubon Park, a gigantic truck tire for people to test their upper body strength waited for the body-builders to come and show off their muscles. This time, I wanted to see what it was like. I quickly discovered that there was no way on this earth I could lift it even a centimeter off the ground. And that’s one goal I will never pursue, for the sake of my back. However, the long weighted ropes that people were lifting and slapping to the ground drew my attention and my wish to give them a try. Two of these heavy ropes were attached to a pole, and the object of the exercise was to grasp one in each hand and lift each one in turn and slap them one at a time to the ground. To my amazement, I was able to get in a few slaps, using a lot of body engagement. I’m sorry I don’t have a video for showing off, but Dan’s camera betrayed us and failed to work. Boohoo. Dan said we’ll have to go back and do it again some day, but I think once was enough. Who knows? Maybe we’ll encounter them in all the rest of the parks we visit in this project. We’ve visited 5 Metro Parks now. I can’t wait to get to 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

Fourth of 19 Autobahn Park

The Autobahn Park south of downtown Columbus is relatively new, but I suspect that most of my suburban neighbors have never considered it a destination. I know some have walked and biked on The Scioto Mile, which ends at the park, but it’s the mile-long walking and biking trail that draws their attention. I’ve walked it myself and have enjoyed the many points of interest along the way, swinging benches, fountains, statues, and a lookout over the river. It’s not ideal for a visually impaired walker, because many cyclists are…. Well, down right rude. They give no warning when they are speeding toward you from behind, instead of calling out “On your left,” as is common cyclist courtesy.

But today, my story is about the park, although Dan and Dora and I did walk a little on the Scioto Mile. The park is named for the building that houses a museum of sorts, all about birds in the area. We did not enter the building, because it looked like there were a lot of people there, and right now, even with masks, we wouldn’t feel safe. What we found to be the most fun was the adult playground. Well, I’m sure kids play there too, but Dan and I enjoyed the challenge of what kids do naturally, climbing over structures that were not originally meant for that purpose.

We started with the rock climbing wall. Because there was no safety equipment or climbing shoes available, I managed to get up only about a foot off the ground, long enough for Dan to get a picture. A water tower dominated the spot with at least 3 stories of winding stairs, but Dora and I declined to climb. Dan took our picture from 2 stories up, capturing the shadow of the tower behind us. Next, I had the unique experience of climbing a cargo rope, as you will see in the next photo. . I tried walking on the log, testing my balance, but there is no photo of that, because Dan was busy catching me as I fell off. I see some balance PT in my future. My last amusement was to walk through a double line of about 20 tires. You have to step in the middle of each one as if you are stepping in the middle of doughnuts, giant doughnuts. The added challenge for me was that my legs are short. Gigantic truck tires were available for flipping, to strengthen your upper body, but I passed on that one.

As we began our walk around the park, Dan’s attention was arrested by the sight of a turtle, right by the road. He took a picture of it, so it got to be in this story too. Prissy me, I wouldn’t touch it, and Dora had no interest, but it was part of our park experience after all. Aside from testing ourselves on the playground, we managed to walk almost exactly 3 miles. I thought we should add an extra mile for doing all these extra activities, especially since by the time we were back at the car, it was almost 90.

Next time, I’d like to come with a group, and have a little competition. Wouldn’t that be fun? Come to think of it, it would be fun to do anything as a group these days. Maybe next summer.

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

Innis Woods 3rd of 19

20200702_101420Innis Woods is a charming and lovely park just north of Columbus. It’s not one where the hardbodies go to train for a marathon, but Dan and Dora and I did manage to get in 3 miles by repeating a couple of loops. Many families chose Thursday morning for an outing there, and some of them even wore masks—not many but a few older people like us. Most were smiling and friendly, except for one dad who was pushing his baby in a running stroller. He was probably trying to keep the little one asleep, so he just lifted a hand in a quick greeting.

But we were not there to socialize. We were there to give Dora some exercise that wasn’t just walking in our neighborhood. She’s made it very clear that she is bored with that. She doesn’t even want to go out for a walk unless Uncle Dan shows up. Then she’s all wiggles and yips of joy.

This park was donated by the Innis family, particularly the 2 daughters who had inherited the property. Volunteers lovingly maintain the gardens. I almost felt like I should have worn a dress and my Sunday shoes and hat. Good thing I didn’t, because as we walked along an especially narrow ledge, I got too close to the edge, beyond which was a knee-deep pool of muddy water. Oh yes. I plunged right in with my right foot. Dan pulled me up, and if he apologized once, he apologized a hundred times. He had told me several times to be careful, but he didn’t think to tell me why. I just thought he was being overprotective because of the uneven pavers, so I ignored him. Also, the plants on the left side of the walk had grown over half the width of the walk, so there really wasn’t enough room for Dora and me to walk side by side without my falling into the water. She probably looked back and thought, “Why are you in the water? Can I come too?”

Well, as I always say, if I don’t come home dirty and a little scraped up, how would I know I had a good time?

The tour of this park was not just about the miles put in. Several times, we stopped to admire the artwork. The metal replicas of sun flowers were fun to explore. I couldn’t even reach the blooms, which Dan said were very realistic. And if you’re reading this in your inbox, please go back to the website and enjoy the picture of me with the statues of the little Innis children reading a book.

It was a very hot day, but lots of shady spots along the way made for a perfect summer morning.

Second of 19

20200626_112559My last post described how much fun Dora and I had walking at Blendon Woods with our friend Dan. We even included a couple of videos showing off Dora’s spectacular skills at guiding me through rough spots in the trail. Turns out that Dan had just as much fun as we did, so he has suggested that we walk in all 19 Metro parks in the Columbus area. Hence the title of this post.

For our second park, we chose Sharon Woods. I had been there many times on the 3.8-mile loop, which is paved and has only one steep hill . But this time, we chose some other trails where bicycles are not allowed, and again, we had a blast. The trails were not paved, but they were not as rugged as the ones at Blendon Woods. But there were a few ups and down that made them interesting and fun. I liked that parts were gravel; parts were grass paths; parts were dirt; and parts were paved, lending a variety of tactile sensations under foot. We saw many people walking, and not a single soul was wearing a mask. I guess if you are outside and not bunched together, that’s OK. Dan and I walk a few feet apart, but not always 6 feet, but when we need to rest on a bench or consult a map, the masks go back on. This goes for riding in the car. Dora and I sit in the back seat to allow for as much social distancing as possible. When we reward ourselves with a fast food lunch, eaten in the air conditioned car, out comes the hand sanitizer. I’ll admit that the social distancing and the sanitizing are a bit inconvenient, but we do our best.

For those of you receiving this post in your inbox, you’ll need to go back to the website to see a great picture of a large tree that apparently had been knocked over in a recent storm. The roots were up in the air, higher than my head. A walk in the park, even in the city, can provide lots of unusual, even fascinating sights and experiences. The variety of plants and trees are lost on me, but getting out in the world, breathing fresh air, hearing the calls of different birds, and not walking on the same old sidewalks of my neighborhood are all refreshing treats. Dan is a dedicated describer of the visuals, so the experience is complete.

We only walked 3 miles, but it was hot, and I think the hills should count for something. The distance isn’t the goal anyway, but I suspect that as we explore more parks, we’ll get stronger.

We saw many people and their leashed dogs enjoying their walks. If you’re tired of staring at a screen all day, put on some shorts, good walking shoes, and sun screen, and maybe we’ll see you out there.

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

A Burst of Freedom

This post is mostly about showing off Dora’s skills with apologies to my friends who can’t see the videos. Also, if you receive these posts in your inbox, you’ll need to go back to the website to view them, because it’s impossible to post the text and the videos at the same time.

Yesterday, my friend Dan took Dora and me to a park nearby that has miles of trails through woods and meadows. I was dying to get out of the neighborhood, and Dora was bored with walking the same old routes, even though I tried to devise a different one each day. I live in a great neighborhood for walking, because you could take a different route each day and never repeat it exactly. In fact, you could probably walk all day long without walking on the same sidewalk twice. But after 90 days in a row without a break to do something like go to church or shopping or to a meeting, it was wearing on both of us.

In these videos, you will see how skillfully Dora guides me over roots and deep ruts in the dirt roads. Occasionally, she’d hesitate for half a nanosecond to decide the best way to go, but I’d hardly notice a pause. Still, I knew she was sizing up the situation as we approached it, because most of the time, she chose the only smooth part of the road, and when there was no smooth part, she’d zig and zag through the maze of ruts and gigantic roots. I had to pay attention too, because I had to read every little movement. It was hugely fun. In some of the clips, especially after we had done 2 or 3, she’d turn around and grin at Dan as if to say, “Did you get that one?”

We’ve had wildly varied weather, so we chose a day that was dry, not too hot, and not too cold. This has been anything but a typical June. Dan and I wore masks while in the car. We wore them on the trails too, unless there were no other people in sight. Because the weather was so beautiful, we encountered several other people with their well-behaved dogs. Although signs were posted prohibiting dogs or other pets, I think the rangers had looked the other way. They knew that even dogs need a change of scenery and some exercise. The difference was that the people had to make the decisions on which way to get through the rough spots, while I left that up to Dora. Sometimes, Dan gave me a heads up that we were approaching a challenge, and sometimes, the only warning I got was the sound of the video starting.

We topped off the day with a delicious fast food lunch eaten in the car, to avoid going inside. I sat is the back with Dora and it was hard to eat a hamburger just inches from her nose, but, she got the bottom third of my milk shake when we got home.

I don’t know how Dan felt today, but Dora and I were “plum tuckered out” last night and today. We haven’t had such a workout and such a good time in months.

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

Putting my toe in the water

It’s been 3 months since I’ve been anywhere but my own house and on the streets of my own neighborhood. My entertainment has been walking Dora, attending Zoom meetings, talking on the phone with friends, learning to use this confounded new computer, and cleaning house.

Twice, my son and his significant other have been over for dinner. The first time, Mother’s Day, he brought lunch. They ate at the table on the patio while I sat just inside the kitchen door, so we could see and hear each other, but there was no touching or even sharing beverages and silverware. They brought their own. It was lovely that they took such care, but oh so awkward. Then last week, I made dinner for them, and this time, we all sat outside, but again, we were careful not to touch or be in the kitchen at the same time. It is our habit for me to do the cooking, and then Steve serves up the plates, and of course, there was lots of hand-washing. My friend Dan comes over on some Saturdays to help me with outside chores, and my friend Valerie comes to help with computer stuff, but we sit in the garage with masks on and with both doors open.

Oh yes, I did have company 3 times, the plumber, the washer repair man, and the cable guy. Until recently, I’ve been fine with all this, even proud of my diligence, but you know what? Pandemic fatigue has finally crept into my attitude. I no longer wear a mask when I’m walking around the neighborhood, but I do wear a cap, which I whip off and use to cover my nose and mouth when passing someone who is standing too close to the sidewalk for my comfort. I cancelled my haircut, because I just wasn’t ready. However, my hair was hanging down in my face and over my ears, so I had to do something. No, I didn’t cut it myself, but I did find a beautician who came to my house yesterday and cut my hair in my front yard.

I long to be with friends, have people over for dinner, and go out for a meal, but I’m just not ready to put my toe in the water. I’m afraid that it will look like gentle waves, and then the undertow will carry me away to the depths of the ocean. I pray to God that the people who are splashing around gleefully are not swept away into the depths of the virus. It’s so easy to get cocky.

Yes, I too am sick of only communicating to a screen, and yes, I long to be touched. And yes, I’m missing my granddaughter’s graduation, which makes me so sad. And I’m mad that there will be no arts festivals or state fairs or concerts in the park. And we’ve postponed the Hen Hike to the spring, for the first time in 20 years. I’m going to miss hiking in the fall. I can’t ride my tandem bike all summer,. I used to laugh and say “I can’t ride, because I can’t be 6 feet away from my captain,” but it isn’t funny anymore.

But enough of my whining. People are very sick. People are dying. Loved ones are grieving. People, Covid 19 is not over. Calm down. Be wary of wading in the waters of open bars and restaurants and especially crowds of 15,000 people packed into a stadium for a political speech. The rip tide of Covid 19 could carry you away and many of those you love. Swim at your own risk.

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

I came. I saw. I conquered.

It was 4:30 in the morning, and I was sound asleep. But suddenly, I was wakened by a sharp succession of tweets. I quickly ran over in my mind which piece of technology could be yelling at me to pay attention to it. My phone? My lap top?? Nothing I own sounded like that. Then I recognized it as a cricket, a very large cricket, and the sound was coming from my bedroom. I was sure of it.

This is the time when you roll over and tap your husband on the shoulder and say, “Wake up Honey. I hear a noise.”

Then he says, “It’s nothing. Go back to sleep.”

Then you say, “but I think it’s a cricket. You’ve got to get up and get it out of here.”

But there is no husband, so I called my guide dog Dora. She does not sleep with me. She sleeps in the guest room, which she thinks is her room.

“Dora,” I called. “Come. Get up here in bed with me.” She did, but when I put my arm around her, I saw that she was trembling. She was afraid too. She would be no help.

“I guess I’ll have to be the man of the house,” I thought, as I gingerly swung my legs over the bed and touched my bare feet to the floor. Tweet tweet came the noise again. I hesitated. Was it closer now? I stomped across the bedroom floor, hoping to scare it into a crack in the floorboards or into the closet. I couldn’t put my shoes on, because maybe it had jumped into one of them. Stomp stomp stomp I went across to the hallway. Tweet Tweet Tweet Tweet the sound was louder now. Was it following me? I stomped into the bathroom, but it didn’t follow me in there. Back into the bedroom I stomped and told Dora we were going outside to pee. She thought that was a grand idea. She did, and then we came back into the house, hoping to hear that it had died or something. But no. Tweet tweet tweet tweet.

As I entered the hallway, I stood still and listened again. The solution to the mystery was slowly taking shape through my foggy brain. Then like the proverbial light bulb coming on, I knew what to do.

I went downstairs and grabbed the little foot stool, brought it upstairs and put it against the wall. Slowly and cautiously, I reached for the smoke detector and grabbed it. I nearly dropped it when it went tweet tweet tweet tweet. I carried it down to the kitchen and set it on the counter. I considered taking a hammer to it, but I remembered how to open the face, and there they were, two little double A batteries, lying side by side so innocently. As I wrestled the first one out of place, the second one gave a weak little tweet. “Yes, your little buddy has left you, and you will soon follow,” I said with just a little menace.” I sighed with relief as I considered how it lay there, like a fallen soldier, its weapons rolling across the counter. Satisfied, I quietly went back to bed, hoping I had indeed done the job. By now, it was 5:00 in the morning. How was I going to get back to sleep after all that commotion, being wakened by the noise, being sure it was a bug in my room, taking Dora out in the dark, discovering the smoke detector, and then killing it? But you know what? I did go back to sleep, because for once in my life, I won.

aac

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

Silver Linings

Whether an event is monumental or insignificant, it’s the little snippets of life that come to mind when reminiscing. If I make it through this pandemic, and I read through my journal entries, or if I don’t, and my descendants comb through my internet history, we will smile at the “silver linings” we have encountered through this historic experience. History books will reveal the horrific numbers and other heartbreaking facts, but the conversations we hear and overhear are what pull us through.

I was talking with a customer service rep, when she asked me to “hold on for a sec.” Her cat had just walked across her keyboard. Obviously, her casual manner tipped me off that she was working from home, but the cat made it especially endearing. I am grateful that we have the technology for people to work from home, so I can still get my business done.

The first Monday of the pandemic, as I walked with Dora, the only sounds were my footfalls and a few birdsongs. How peaceful it was not to hear traffic roaring on the highway about a half mile away or even cars on the local streets. It was also rather eerie, as if we were the only beings left on the planet. But when we did meet another human on our route, they would say hello, which was something new, Some even were inclined to chat, since we had all day.

I am not a phone chatter in my normal life, but I’ve found a joy in calling someone I haven’t talked to in years. It helps fill the hours, and it makes people feel cared for and not forgotten, especially if they live alone. One friend who is married wondered why nobody else called her. “It’s because you have a husband to keep you company,” I said with just a little envy. Being alone 24 hours a day can get wearisome, but at least, I don’t have to worry about whether I’m getting on his nerves or if I should be doing something to entertain him or cook what he likes instead of cooking to please myself.

My hair and eyebrows have gone wild, and my nails are a mess, but look at the money I’ve saved for the past 3 months. I’ve not only been able to contribute to my savings but also to donate to those in need.

I used to watch the evening news while I ate dinner, but it’s so depressing that I read instead. I take time to pay attention to birdsongs and try to identify them. I take more time to play with Dora and to take her for long walks, while we both are able. I notice and cherish the feel of a favorite juice glass in my hand. I am stopped mid thought when a Chopin waltz comes on, and I just sit there and listen to the whole thing.

I miss going to the Y, but my hair has become healthier since it’s not been subjected to chlorine twice a week. I won’t get to ride my tandem bike this summer, because it’s impossible to keep 6 feet away from my captain, but maybe I’ll discover a new way to enjoy the outdoors.

I am thankful that I am well. And I will stay well by obeying the rules and being patient. Patience has never been my strong suit, so maybe I’ll prove to myself that I can develop it.

Maybe you have thoughts to share on finding the silver linings. Please do share. It will do us all good.

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

Tribute to My Mother

A tribute to my mother appears in the last chapter of my recently published book, Insight Out, One Blind Woman’s View of Her life. Here are some excerpts rom that chapter.

Etta Regina Hagen Oliver Wilson
1916–2014

And now we come to my mother, the most influential woman in my life.…

I’m grateful for the education and lessons in life my mother gave me.

In her role as mother, Regina Wilson led a regimented life as an example to her children and as a model wife of the 1940s, ‘50s, and on until her widowhood and eventual death. She strove to be the perfect housekeeper and the most attentive parent in the universe. …….

I am so grateful to her for doing something that had to be very hard for her.

She allowed me and even encouraged me to be as independent as I wanted. She helped me assemble a wardrobe for college, helped me pack all my records and other essentials for college life, and then helped me move into my dorm at Ohio State, a hundred miles from home. When I think of how hard it must have been to send her visually impaired daughter off to college with a white cane and a little trepidation, I suspect she shed a few tears on the drive home while my dad held his tears back. I applaud their bravery and trust to let me go.

I always wanted to emulate Aunt Lynn, and in some ways, I still do. But the truth is, I am the next generation of my mother. I have a plaque that reads, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all.”

I don’t pretend to have lived up to her standards, to have matched her IQ, or to have the strength and tenacity to endure the kind of hardships she had throughout her life, but I do recognize that I am my mother’s daughter in many ways.

When my brother, Dick, my mother’s son from her first marriage, was killed in a car crash, I was 19. He lived in Sarasota with his wife and her little girl. They were expecting a baby in about a month. I had come to spend the summer with them, but I quickly grew up in one night. When the adults in the room were discussing who was going to call our mother, I immediately spoke up and declared that I should be the one. It was without doubt the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But here again, it was what my mother would have done.

Without thinking about it, I have incorporated the philosophies and the legacies handed down to me from all the women in my life. I hope these legacies will be carried on through the branches of our family tree….

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

Changes in my World

/If you’re like me, you’re sick of the news on radio and TV. It’s like picking at a sore. In today’s post, however, I’d like to think about the positive changes we are optimistically expecting.

As I chat with friends on the phone, something I never used to do, I’m finding that we’re all scared but keeping busy with creative ways to cope and to keep in virtual touch. Hardly anyone is bored, including me.

In this technology age, I’m finding that while it’s great to have the ability to meet in groups safely on line, there’s nothing like being in the same room with your friends and colleagues. I didn’t realize how much I miss talking face to face with someone. Somehow, it validates me as a human, not just a video image and a voice coming from a screen. I hope that we’ll all still value our face to face relationships even when this pandemic is behind us.

today, families are looking up from their phones and noticing the people stuck in the house with them. They are taking bike rides together and walks, being careful to stay clear of other people doing the same.

People are cleaning out closets and basements and sprucing up their yards. Because I haven’t been able to have a cleaning person, I’ve tried to keep up with the dirt, dog hair, and germs, like I haven’t done in years. I’m discovering that I like going to bed at night with a sparkling clean sink in the kitchen and in the bathroom every night. I’m also finding that I’m cleaning for my own pleasure, not just at those times when I’m expecting company.

I’ve heard that people are returning to cooking instead of just grabbing a meal from the freezer. Me too. It’s comforting to have real food on the table for a change.

Many people, like writers, are getting tons of work done. Unfortunately, my mental energy has been sapped by trying to learn a new computer and a new speech program at the same time, so my writing anything but this blog and Face Book posts has been on hold. But this has been the right time to study the computer, since, as I said before, I have all day.

My daughter calls me every night to check on my health, both physical and emotional, and that’s a plus. In normal times, she calls once a week, but would it be greedy of me to hope this will be the new normal? My son calls me now and then, which is also an improvement. Mother’s Day is coming up, and he always takes me out for a meal for the occasion, so I’ll be looking forward to how creative he can get this year. Creativity in problem-solving has emerged, and I like it.

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