Hopeful? Confident? June update

Scroll down and see the May photo of “The Runt” tomato plant and the next photo is June 28. It’s growing!

May: Follow the wooden stake to the dirt. You will see a small tomato plant. I call this hopeful or confident because my husband put that large tomato stake next to this tiny tomato plant he calls a runt.

My brother-in-law starts all his plants from seed and gives us several each year. This little guy was hidden next to a cabbage plant. It poked its leaves out and said, “Hey, don’t forget me!”

I’ll keep you updated on its’ progress through the summer. Should be fun to watch!

May 2018 – first day in the ground

The Runt June 28

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Warm weather, books pair well

Day by Day: Warm weather, books pair well

By LIZ THOMPSON

May 21, 2018

This Week News

School books soon will be closed. With that last thud, summer draws us outdoors.

As our children swing the doors open, we need to remember they are our future — and we need to use every opportunity to help each one learn skills for life.

Reading is especially important — even in summer.

“Creating opportunities for summer learning sets the stage for innovation, creativity and leadership in every community,” says the National Summer Learning Association. “The young people we nurture today are the foundation of our society tomorrow.”

Ideas abound to get youngsters reading.

We can combine a nature walk through our parks and have children read the signs.

They can read cereal boxes.

We can take them shopping and have them find things to read in the grocery store.

It will be worth the time, with far-reaching effects.

Let’s give our youths access to books, newspapers and magazines.

Physical activity is vital to our health, but if we know how to read, it stays with us always.

The Columbus (Ohio) Metropolitan Library website says, “Studies show that kids who read during the summer maintain reading skills that are critical to future school success.”

We have no shortage of books.

The system has 22 branches, plus the main library, and is a part of the Central Library Consortium, with 17 partner locations. Add Westerville’s library and we have many locations in our area to find a book for free.

The Columbus library kicks off the Summer Reading Challenge from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 2 at the main library. The program runs until Aug. 4, with opportunities for readers of all ages to track their progress and earn prizes.

“It is critically important that children always have access to books and reading, whether in school or out, and that parents understand they are their child’s first teachers,” said Ben Zenitsky, marketing and communications specialist for the library system.

Kelly Wegley, coordinator of academic achievement and professional development for Worthington Schools, agreed, saying, “Reading is important for life. Reading over the summer, even as few as four to six books, has the potential to make a difference in preventing the summer slide.”

Not every child has these choices, so libraries have established outreach programs and some work with schools.

“We go to select areas, day cares and preschools where children may not have ready access to books,” said Lindsey Smith, outreach with Worthington Libraries. That library system’s summer-reading program runs from May 29 to July 29.

“Our help center transitions to the summer-reading program to prevent the slide,” Smith said. “We have tons of programs and prizes. Every child who completes the program is entered into a raffle to win a bicycle and everyone who finishes gets a prize.”

Upper Arlington has a Summer Library Club for all ages from May 21 to July 31. Patrons can track their reading time, and after 10 hours of reading and 10 activities, such as visiting a park or a library program, they will receive a coupon prize package.

When readers complete 20 hours of the same, they can earn a free book and are entered into a drawing for a grand prize for each age group.

“We have poolside story time on Fridays in June and July,” said Christine Minx, the library’s marketing and community relations manager. “Kids can include the time they spend listening to stories on their reading log.”

Jenni Chatlos of Upper Arlington said her family looks forward to participating in the Summer Library Club each year.

“It gives us a goal to reach,” she said. “It’s a fun way to keep all of us reading over the summer. Then the kids are better prepared for school in the fall.”

Her son, Nate, 6, said, “I like the program because you get to read any book you want. The more you read, the bigger and better prize you get.”

Open the pages of a book this summer and see the world through words.

For more information, visit columbuslibrary.org, worthingtonlibraries.org or ualibrary.org, or check out your local library.

Gardeners can ‘bee friendly’ with little effort

Day by Day: Gardeners can ‘bee friendly’ with little effort

By LIZ THOMPSON

This Week News
April 23, 2018

Robert Frost’s “A Prayer in Spring” reads in part: “And make us happy in the happy bees / The swarm dilating round the perfect trees / And make us happy in the darting bird / That suddenly above the bees is heard.”

We know honeybees produce the sticky, sweet nectar that we spread on toast or pour into recipes. More than 4,000 species of bees are native to North America.

Some consider bees pests. Some unwittingly kill the good bugs and bees while using broad methods to kill true pests. It’s important to know the difference and how and why to prevent extinction of the tiny things that matter.

Birds & Blooms magazine calls all bees unsung heroes that work hard to keep our food web functioning: “One in every three bites of food we eat is courtesy of pollination, and 85 percent of flowering plants and trees rely on pollinators for survival.”

Todd Amacker wrote of the pollinator experience at Great Smoky Mountains National Park: “Honeybees alone contribute over $14 billion to the value of U.S. crop production. It turns out that bees need to collect both pollen and nectar in order to stay alive.

“To do this, they frequently visit a wide variety of crops that can include peas, beans, melons, berries and various other fruits. By visiting these crops, and spreading pollen in the process, it allows for plants to reproduce. In turn, the honeybees use pollen to help develop their growing larvae and nectar to turn it into honey.”

Like all living things, stress plays a role in their health.

“All bee species face similar stressors — poor nutrition due to a lack of flowers or monocropping (the practice of growing only one type of agricultural product in a large area of land, year after year), pesticide exposure, parasites and diseases,” said Phyllis Stiles, director of Bee City USA, a certification program that helps pollinator populations.

Reed Johnson, assistant professor in entomology at Ohio State University, pointed to a survey by the University of Maryland: “Beekeepers across the United States lost 33 percent of their honeybee colonies during the year spanning April 2016 to April 2017, according to the latest preliminary results of an annual nationwide survey. Rates of both winter loss and summer loss — and consequently, total annual losses — improved compared with last year.”

What can the home gardener do to help?

He or she can go natural and create a yard that welcomes bees and butterflies.

“Insecticides that kill pest insects are likely to kill bees, too,” Johnson said.

We can eliminate pesticides or use safer ones, such as Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. We also can choose plants from local nurseries that don’t treat seedlings with neonicotinoid pesticides, which kill all insects and bees by attacking the central nervous system.

Johnson said one easy tactic is to mow less frequently.

“Letting clovers and dandelions bloom is probably the easiest strategy for providing bees with food,” he said.

Jerry Hinton of Hinton Apiaries in Grove City said heirloom plants, those that have not been altered to fit snugly into a garden, are more beneficial to pollinators.

“Ideally, one should plant so they will bloom at different times for a consistent food source,” he said. “Not all pollens are created equal. Bees target high-protein flowers. Ask garden experts at garden centers for the best flowers to plant for pollinators.”

Johnson said to read the label for warnings.

“It may be small print,” he said. “The EPA goes through intense scrutiny for approvals and the labels are required.”

Trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and herbs make our yards pretty and useful to us and pollinators. Information is available at u.osu.edu/beelab/gardening-for-bees, including: “Go native, bee showy, bee bountiful, bee diverse, bee patient, bee gentle (they only sting as a defense), bee chemical-free, bee a little messy (they like wood to nest in), bee aware, bee friendly, bee sunny and bee homey.”

Sounds like good advice for more than gardening.

Grasp of MS grows deeper with each day

Day by Day:
Grasp of MS grows deeper with each day

By LIZ THOMPSON

March 19, 2018

ThisWeekNews

As years pass, I am more convinced that everyone struggles with something physical, spiritual, intellectual — or a combination of these.

Today, we have the ability to be more aware of what is happening in other people’s lives beyond our families and close friends, in large part due to social media.

Add to that our ability to research electronically and to hear news on television, radio, smartphones and computers, as well as to read newspapers, magazines and a myriad of research and historical documents and nonfiction and fiction books.

Who knows what might have changed if we had this type of communication when Sylvia Lawry’s brother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the early 1940s in New York?

The family pursued cures for years without success, ultimately leading Lawry to place a small classified ad in the New York Times in 1945 that read: “Multiple Sclerosis. Will anyone recovered from it please communicate with patient.”

Lawry received more than 50 replies from individuals who were “desperate to find encouraging news about MS,” according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s website.

She realized “the need for an organized effort to stimulate and finance research into the cure, treatment and cause of multiple sclerosis,” the society notes.

The next year, Lawry gathered 20 research scientists to found what would become the National MS Society. She devoted more than 50 years of her life in the pursuit of a world free of MS. Many continue her efforts today.

March is MS Awareness Month.

No cure has been found, but the society has devoted more than $600 million to research since Lawry’s work began. Its website, nationalmssociety.org, has nearly 2 million visitors each month.

Every March, I write about MS to help those living with the disease or who have a loved one or friend with MS not to feel so alone — to share the knowledge so people can move on and talk about something else other than their disease.

I have been fortunate over the years to talk with hundreds of people with MS.

One of the many facts I gleaned was that we want people to understand what MS is, but we don’t want to be known just as “that person with MS.” We want understanding so we can take someone’s arm for balance or ask for simple assistance, if needed, then move on.

I believe that is a hope most people have, no matter what they are dealing with, that others understand but don’t stay focused on their condition or problem.

As recently as 10 years ago, if I told someone I have MS, I would need to clarify and say “multiple sclerosis.” Now I read novels in which characters have MS, and it’s not spelled out.

MS symptoms can mimic stroke, so it helps to know that MS is a disease of the central nervous system in which the body attacks the protective coating surrounding nerves, leaving scars. Those scars interrupt the signals from the brain to the body, meaning we might lose our balance or vision; have numbness, muscle spasms, difficulty talking, swallowing or walking; experience shooting pain, weakness, seizures or fatigue; and in the worst-case scenario, could become paralyzed.

We know so much more each year. Research dollars have taken us from having zero drugs for MS when I was diagnosed in 1987 to 16 drugs, all proven to prevent flare-ups that can cause new damage.

Researchers are working.

We hear about so many medical conditions daily, with the barrage of advertisements for medicine and pop-ups on our screens. If those conditions do not affect us, we turn a deaf ear, mute the television or ignore the ads. There is only so much we want to or should absorb.

If someone is struggling with anything, a compassionate response is the best medicine — no dollars or advertisement needed.

 

Frustration out west spurred self-assurance

Frustration out west spurred self-assurance

By LIZ THOMPSON

February 19, 2018

This Week News

Twenty-two years ago this month, I did something I regret.

I have reconciled, but can’t forget, so I hope this will serve as a fair warning to others.

If you have ever visited or lived in the Southwest — in particular, Arizona — you’ll understand in a moment.

Winter is the most beautiful time of year there. The mountains burst with riotous flowers. Even the spiky cacti bloom.

When my husband and I moved to Phoenix in July, we were greeted by record heat of 121 degrees. We learned quickly not to go barefoot on the concrete, to drink water all day and to leave the car windows open a bit.

Once winter hit, 70 degrees felt cold. Don’t laugh — that’s 50 degrees cooler than the hottest time of summer.

In job interviews, I was upfront about my hearing loss, not yet the self-advocate I would become. A job offer came, and my only request was that I would not be asked to answer phones. “No problem,” I was told by the CEO’s secretary in the interview.

I shared an office with that same woman, and within a week, she found repeated reasons to leave our office for long periods of time. I reminded her of my request and she said to take messages.

That was like asking a 5-year old to type the financial reports for me.

Failure and many embarrassing situations ensued. I hated feeling incompetent.

A phone ringing put my stomach in knots. Names and numbers were almost impossible for me to comprehend without caller ID. My boss did all he could to help me, but he, too, was baffled. Other staffers were very kind, as well.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was still young.

Finally, I contacted an Arizona state agency for the deaf and those with partial hearing loss, asking for assistance on how to handle the situation. My first clue to the problem should have been when the agency contact suggested meeting at a noisy restaurant. I had to read her lips and have her repeat and repeat.

Her advice, which I should have questioned and, unfortunately, was one of the comments I understood, was: “Without a college degree, you’ll never get a job paying above minimum wage.”

I shook internally, like I do when something serious is impending or happening.

We were about to leave and I said the conversation would have been easier using sign language.

“You know sign?” she said casually. “I didn’t think so since you aren’t deaf.”

But I did know it, and I soon was to be called “functionally deaf.”

Since she was supposed to be the expert, I thought I had no other options. I didn’t know who else to ask.

My husband and I talked it through many times, but we had no other ideas for my employment. Finally, I begged my husband to move back to Ohio — to what was familiar.

He picked up my final paycheck for me. The employee asked him why I was leaving. When he told her my hearing loss was making it difficult to do my job, she said, “I wish she’d said something. My sister is deaf. I could have helped her.”

My husband left a job he loved in a place we’d both learned to love to come back to Ohio, all because he loves me.

We returned to Ohio in February, the grayest month. I swore I’d never get myself in a spot like that again and that I would find answers, even when they seemed elusive.

That experience made me an advocate for people with hearing loss or any special need. I never wanted anyone to have that much doubt in their abilities or think options were so few.

Seven years later, with me now sporting a cochlear implant and true ability to hear and understand, we moved back to the Valley of the Sun. I worked in schools with special-needs children, hoping to spark their confidence. Three years later, we chose to move back to Ohio.

God didn’t put that old doubt in my mind, so be careful when taking advice — expert or not. Don’t live on regrets — learn from them.

 

Words’ impact can last for life; choose wisely

Day by Day: Words’ impact can last for life; choose wisely

By LIZ THOMPSON

January 22, 2018
This Week News

Words are powerful. They can make us smile, cry, rejoice or doubt. They can inspire us to improve, learn, apologize, question, create and think.

If you doubt the power of written or spoken words, consider the words “I do” spoken at a wedding and all that promise implies.

Think of the parent when a child says his or her first word — especially if it’s Mama, Papa or a version of the same.

The old retort to deflect cruel words, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” may work only for the moment. The long-term effects can be devastating if we are told often enough, especially when young, that we are stupid, ugly or other equally nasty names, and we believe it. We can only hope there is plenty of positivity in those same taunted lives — or that we can be there to soften the blows.

Authors of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and music have entertained, informed and given us reasons to sing and dance since the first word was written, the first instrument was fashioned and the first words sung.

As a writer, I respect words, and think through many times before submitting a column. I have done just that for 20 years this month. That’s a lot of words — and I have loved every minute.

I asked some friends what words they believe hold power.

Don Huiner, from Worthington, chose his power words in two groups. He placed despise, loathe, contemptible and worthless in one group; in the other, treasure, cherish, respect, value and thankful. I spy two words in the last group of positives that were turned into popular songs.

Pat Vincent, who lives in Grandview Heights, said, “When somebody says, ‘How are you doing, really?’ you know that they really want to know. They’re not just being polite.”

When I think about how many times a day we might say, “How are you?” without waiting for a reply, his words ring true.

Pat also said when a person looks at something you have done or said and responds, “That’s nice,” you can be pretty sure they are only being polite.

Dee Standish, whom I’ve known since kindergarten, said: ”‘I am here for you if you need me’ are powerful words for two reasons. The first, (you are) letting someone know you care and will support their needs. Second, it allows the person in need the freedom to respond when they might be vulnerable in varying situations. There is no pressure on either side.”

When words, or what we might think are the “right” words, seem to escape us, words of action or support suffice beautifully, as Dee says.

I wasn’t surprised when a friend from church, Mariann Rowe, chose hope as her most powerful word. One synonym for hope is faith.

When we hear bad news, in particular, hope can sustain us. We say we hope something good lasts. How often we say, “I can only hope … ” or “I hope you have a good day.”

I love reading fiction. I’m selective with the genre because I don’t need fearful or negative topics swirling through my head.

Some time back, I wrote my first novel. Since I’d always written nonfiction, the mechanics of writing fiction required research.

My first try was rejected by two publishers, but with good advice. Their words were powerful because they didn’t just say “no,” but they softened the blow with advice I took to heart. I knew I had a lot to learn. More research and more rewrites followed.

The last rejection told me to consider writing in third person, not first. I shifted gears, turned around and started again.

Words of rejection are hard to hear, but with practical advice, I was led to hope, to improve and to learn. That’s powerful.

Most people can name at least one author, song, speaker or teacher that had a lasting effect in their lives. My bet is those words they read or heard were positive.

We control the power of the words we speak or write when we take time to really listen and choose hopeful, caring words.