Obituary – Tina Riner

Tina Riner, highly regarded interpreter for the deaf

By Andrew Meacham, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Friday, May 28, 2010

DADE CITY — Tina Riner loved horses and sign language.

She was a highly regarded interpreter for the deaf who could sign with subtlety and contextual accuracy in different dialects and in sensitive situations, including legal and medical work.

When hospitals needed someone to communicate with a rape victim who was deaf, they called Riner. If a suspect police were interviewing in a criminal case was deaf, they called her, too.

Her affinity for horses dated back to infancy, when her mother ferried her around on horseback, starting at 9 months old. She owned a miniature horse, about 3 feet tall, all black except for his white forelegs. Socks pulled her in a buggy when she visited neighbors, or gave rides to children.

Ms. Riner died May 13, after falling from a horse. She was 38.

She was born and raised in Naples, and she found her twin loves early. She saw her first sign language interpreter in the fourth grade, and the other hook was set.

Ms. Riner went to Stetson University, then Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., where she became certified in sign language.

She moved to Lithia, then Dade City, and began contracting her work as a signer. She did it for 15 years, and it suited her.

“She was smart,” said her mother, Nadine Riner. “It was a reward to her and challenging at the same time.”

Ms. Riner traveled the state and beyond, helping the deaf communicate across a gamut of situations.

Sometimes the hospital called because a deaf person had been involved in an accident or was giving birth.

She signed at museum lectures and plays, for NASA in Cape Canaveral, even on cruises. She signed for politicians, including Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, when they passed through the Tampa Bay area. Once, she signed for a taping of Oprah.

“She had conceptual accuracy and the ability to do cultural translation,” said Jennifer Hess, an employment services specialist for Port Richey’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Florida. “She could translate an idiom from English into something maybe a deaf person could understand. She also did medical and legal interpreting. You have to have great skills to do that, because the liability is so high.”

She smoldered when she saw clients neglected by their parents or the school system. (Ninety percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents. But only 20 percent of those parents ever learn sign language, Hess said).

She answered the same questions about deaf people over and over. One of her pet peeves was that people found it so hard to believe deaf people can drive cars.

“Those are things you would think would be hidden by the dark ages,” said friend and fellow interpreter April Perry, 38. “But we see them every day.”

To symbolize her frustration, Ms. Riner sometimes wore a T-shirt that read: “I see dumb people.”

Away from work, Ms. Riner re-tiled and painted the home she bought five years ago. She was equally happy knocking down or painting walls; sanding furniture or curled up with a book; all dressed up for a trial or out in the yard with her big hat, pushing a lawn mower.

She was nearly finished with a remodeling and painting project, and she was looking forward to taking her interpreting business to the next level, whatever that might be.

At 9 p.m. May 7, she went horseback riding with a neighbor. John Olski said he and Ms. Riner had just entered a pasture behind his property when she told him to go ahead.

“She said, ‘I’ll be right with you,’ ” said Olski, 83.

When she didn’t catch up, Olski turned around and looked back. He saw the quarter horse she had been riding thundering toward him. He wondered why she was going so fast.

The quarter horse flew past him, reins flapping. No one was riding it.

Olski found Ms. Riner on the ground. She died six days later at Tampa General Hospital, a result of head injuries sustained in the fall, her family said.

Her family and friends are trying to reconcile the loss.

Said Perry: “Tina had accomplished everything life had to offer.”

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this story. Andrew Meacham can be reached at or . Copyright 2010 St. Petersburg Times

Napping Yoga

After a couple of weeks away from yoga, I wanted to ease back into the practice. So I went to a restorative class this morning. It was a new studio, and I wandered back to the office to sign in as “Drop In.”

“I’m a drop in too,” I heard another woman say. “This is restorative yoga, right?” the woman continued. “The kind where you lay around and rest?”

The yoga instructor smiled. “Yes. I call it napping yoga.”

It’s a fitting name because it’s so deeply relaxing. Today, we opened with a few side stretches and twists. The rest of the class we spent in Reclining Bound Angle Pose, Seated Forward Bend, Waterfall, and Savasana.

It was heavenly

Walking Barefoot

I’m at the BlogHer conference in downtown Chicago mingling with 800 other women (promise I’ll link to some great food and yoga blogs once I process all the info that’s pouring into my brain).

The first day, I decided to get some exercise by walking from the train station to the conference center. I was wearing sandals and carrying a heavy laptop bag. I got lost. One hour and five blisters later, I finally arrived. I was smart enough to take a cab back to the train station that night, but once I made it to the suburbs (where I’m staying with a friend) I had to walk another mile to their house. My friend’s husband, Brad, was with me, and he watched as I limped and cringed.

“Ow, ow, ow,” I said as my sandals rubbed against my blisters.

I slipped off my shoes.

“Ow, ow, ow,” I said again as the sharp little pebbles on the roads and sidewalks cut my feet.

“You’re a yoga blogger!” Brad said.

“What does that have to do with anything?” I asked.

“Some yogis walk over hot coals and stuff,” he pointed out.

Now that he mentioned it, I did recall reading a passage in a book about firewalking at a yoga retreat. Although none of the yoga classes I’ve attended have involved hot coals, we do practice in bare feet. Still, smooth wood floors and soft sticky mats may help strengthen my soul, but they don’t sturdy up the skin on my soles.

Walking home that night, I stepped off the sidewalk and onto the grass. It was long and cool and damp. It cushioned my bare feet and brushed in between my toes. I completely forgot about my blisters as I focused on how nice it felt to observe the world through from the bottom up. It had been a long time since I’ve walked barefoot in the grass.

To some, barefoot hiking is a hobby. Richard Frazine wrote a book about it called The Barefoot Hiker, and Common Ground, a sustainable living magazine, wrote an article about it here.

How often do we take time to feel the crunch of leaves or the slick slime of moss or the powder puffs of dirt through our feet and toes? Not to mention walking barefoot is gentle on the planet. I think I will start taking off my shoes more often, especially outside.

As quoted on this website, Sitting Bull said:  “Healthy feet can hear the very heart of Mother Earth.”

Garlic Wasa

Ingredients

5 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
8 pieces WASA Multigrain Crispbread (may substitute any WASA Crispbread flavors)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º
Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix.
Spread 1 heaping teaspoon onto each crispbread.
Bake 5 to 7 minutes and serve warm.

Prep time: 17 minutes

Serves 8

Nutritional Value Per Serving

Calories 186
Total Fat 11 g
Saturated Fat 1.8 g
Cholesterol 2 mg
Sodium 199 mg
Total Carbohydrate 21 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Protein 3 g
Calcium 35 mg

Dry Ground

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. And God saw that it was good. –Genesis 1:9

That verse has been stuck in my head since November.

Outside, I’ll point to our little community yard in front of our townhouse and say, “This hasn’t been dry since we moved in.”

It’s true.

When it’s not covered in snow or ice, it’s a wet, muddy patch of grass. I’m ready for sunshine. For warm air. For dry ground.

Last Saturday, I got my wish. The sun blazed in the sky without a cloud in sight. I was so happy and giddy and overwhelmed with possibilities I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I bike? Rollerblade? Find an outdoor court and play tennis? In the end, I opted for a long walk. I simply wanted to let the fresh air clear my mind.

Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk.

I could’ve stayed on the trail forever.

The day came to a close, and by Sunday morning it was raining again. Our patch of grass was wet and muddy. But there are more warm, dry days ahead. I can feel them. And I’m ready to welcome them with open arms.

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