Dan Hears “When a Door Closes, a Window Opens.”  But what about the Transition? (#11)


Book review of Hell in the Hallway, Light at the Door: How to Move Gracefully Through Change into Renewed and Abundant Life by Ellen Debenport  

It’s a cliché that when a door closes, a window opens.  That said, many of us, including me, buy into that notion.  Why Reverend Mother when advising Maria to climb every mountain in the Sound of Music offered that same advice.   Click here to see Reverend Mother rock Climb Every Mountain.

Ellen agrees with the premise, but thinks there is more to it.  There can be hell in the hallway when going from the closed door to the open window.  Offering constructive advice on how to deal with all sorts of changes in one’s life, the author opens a door for us all.  This is a book where I yellow highlighted it page after page and already have begun reading it a second time.

I have selected twelve quotes from Hell in the Hallway as a tease to see if this might be a book for you.

The hallway is that place between jobs, between relationships, during a major illness or after a permanent change or crises.  Life as you know it has ended, and you’re not sure what’s coming next.

Love is not the same as worry.  Worry blankets those we love with our fear; we are imagining the worst for them.  Love holds a vision for the best.


The key to forgiveness is to stop insisting on what ought to have happened, to stop making up stories about how your life should have been different.

Refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and expected the other person to die, or holding onto a hot coal, intending to throw it at someone else.  Who gets burned?

Release all thoughts of how things ought to be or might turn out, and simply experience the way things are.

Surrender means giving up the stubborn belief that life should be fair or make sense at any given moment.

Everything will be okay in the end.  If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

The most obvious example of our creative power is the placebo effect.  Sick people get better when they believe they will.  The pill they took wasn’t a miracle drug.  Their thinking made them well.

The nocebo effect simply means that negative expectations produce negative results.

(Circumstances) are not happening to you, they are happening for you.


(Quoting Elisabeth Kubler-Ross) People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.

Love first, teach second.

Dan and Hannah Hike and Fly in Astoria, Oregon

AC  Astoria Map

Ever hear of the Astoria Column?  Me neither.  It’s one of twelve historical markers built in the early 20th century that were placed from St. Paul, Minnesota to Astoria, Oregon to celebrate westward expansion.  Click here for further information.  The murals on the Astoria Column commemorate major events of Northwest history between 1792 and 1818.

And it’s also the site of playfulness for one and all; I’ll fill you in later on these friendly skies.

AC 1C  H and P on trail

Hannah and Patty

Hannah and I have come to Astoria, in the northwest corner of Oregon this first week of June, where the wide Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.  We have come for the weekend to catch up with Hannah’s amiga from Arizona State, Patty, and her husband Kent for some Northwest hiking, Mormon Bridge card playing, and margarita drinking.

AC 1  Ps with Han at trailhead

Hannah with Patty and Kent

Astoria itself was the first permanent United States settlement on the Pacific coast.  Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1805–06 at Fort Clatsop, just to the southwest of modern-day Astoria. The expedition had hoped that a ship would come to take them back east, but instead they endured a torturous winter of rain and cold before returning over the land route from whence they came.

AC 1B  better H and P with W and BE

Patty with Max’s Blue Elephant and Hannah with Owen’s Woodstock in the Cathedral Tree

Just a couple of hundred yards up from the main drag (Commercial Street) in this town of 9500 residents, we park roadside at the trailhead of the Cathedral Tree Trail.  Just a half mile down the trail is the Cathedral Tree itself, a monstrous 300-year-old Sitka Spruce for playful adults (Hannah and Patty).   This old growth forest contrasts with the bare stretches of hillside across the Columbia River where Washington loggers have had their way with the evergreens.

AC 2  four of us on trail

Four Sun Devils

The lushness of this trail is something you might find 50 miles inland, as we did at Boulder River, Washington two days ago.   Its green on green has thimbleberries about to pop with flavor.   Asking the only couple we see on the 1.6-mile trail to the summit to snap our picture, we wonder what are the odds of seeing four Sun Devils on a mountainside on the coast of Oregon?

AC 5A  AC ready for planes

Light through the forest ahead reveals that we are near the 600’ summit of Coxcomb Hill, home to the Astoria Column.   The 125’ concrete column has 164 interior steps to the platform at the top.

AC 4 balsa wood airplanes

But what’s cool about the Astoria Column is that from its top, it is the launching platform for balsa wood airplanes (the kind of light planes that were a hit with kids in the 50s in Radburn, New Jersey).

On this blue sky Saturday afternoon, many have come to join us in the aerial revelry.   Patty has brought two planes, which we christen Owen and Max.  Others buy balsa wood planes at the gift shop for just one dollar each.   The gift shop clerk says that she sold 1300 in the last two days!

While Patty, Kent, and Hannah climb the 164 circular steps to the top, I wait below to record the launch for your viewing pleasure.

Corralling both the Owen and Max planes after they have landed nearby, I take to the stairs to join the other three, and maybe 15 others, at the top.   This video takes you to the top of the Astoria Column.

AC 5 tower stairs

Astoria Column’s interior stairwell

With riverside margaritas waiting for us back at our Astoria Crest Motel (Click here to learn more about this four star Columbia River motel), Hannah and Patty check out the gift store while I wonder just how fast I could climb the 164 stair steps of the Astoria Column.

Thanks to the technology, I have the stop watch on my iPhone at the ready for my assault.  Faithful readers of this blog might be thinking, Danny, my boy, you’ve been icing and stretching your left Achilles for the last week in the Northwest and now you are charging up the metal stairs to the top of the Astoria Column.  Are you insane?

AC 3B  AC itself with D and H

Fact is, during the entire 1.6-mile Cathedral Tree Trail hike and climbing to the top of the Astoria Column, I never even noticed my Achilles.  Limber and raring to go without a thought to my heel, I take to the circular stairs, charging ahead.  But within 30’ of the top, 68 years of living takes its toll on this 83F late afternoon; I slow and stagger to the top.


AC  timing cropped

But then there is a buzz among the 15 people at the top!  It seems I may have just set an age group record (65 to 69) for the Astoria Column stair climb.   Panting and gasping, I accept their unspoken and unacknowledged congratulations.

As king of the world, I look to the Pacific and can just imagine Leonardo DiCaprio at the bow of the Titanic!  Sounds a little ominous?  Trust me, no such danger lurks for me this beautiful Pacific coast Saturday.

Dan and Hannah are Stopped Dead on I-5 south of Tacoma, Washington (Part 2 of 2)

I left off Part 1 of this two part mini-blog with this tease.  And then he (the police officer) stops.  We all stop.  He gets out of his car and starts running forward down the empty Interstate.

Hannah’s initial thought was that someone stole the police car.

Others have suggested that he was stopping traffic due to an accident further ahead.

Perhaps a motorcade for a big shot was coming through was another thought.

Ducks patrol car

In our rented Kia Sportage, we are in the second row three cars behind the officer’s stopped police car.  A man in the car in front of us bolts out to join the officer and starts running towards the median of the Interstate.    He, like the officer, picks up…

… a small duck and races with it across the highway and gently lays it in the far grass off the shoulder.

Out of my car, I walked to the cars behind us to tell them the story.  The cars of family vacationers all seem to smile at the delay, now that they get what’s happening.  Not more than three minutes after stopping, the officer gets back in this car and speeds off.

It is easy to see that ducks on the Interstate can be a public safety hazard requiring an officer.   Instinctively, a driver may veer into other lane to avoid the ducks and cause an accident.

And what do you know, all the way across the country in Maine another officer was dealing with ducks.

On the Maine Turnpike near the York exit, a man is driving a pick-up truck down the highway with a bunch of ducks standing in the back.  A police officer pulls over the driver, informs him that he is speeding, and then asks him where he’s going with all those ducks.

The driver says that he doesn’t know what to do with them anymore.  The officer says, “Look, there’s York Wild Kingdom not far from here, and that’s where you should take them.”  The man thanks the officer and drives off with his ducks. 

The next day the officer again sees the same pick-up truck barreling down the Maine Turnpike. This time, though, all the ducks in the back are wearing sunglasses.  The officer pulls the driver over and says, “I thought I told you to take those ducks to the zoo at York Wild Kingdom!”

“I did,” said the driver, “but now they want to go to the beach!”  

Dan and Hannah are Stopped Dead on I-5 south of Tacoma, Washington (Part 1 of 2)

It’s the first week of June.  Hannah and I have just hiked in a Washington Wonderland of Trails (Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State Parks of waterfalls and coastline).  This morning we leave Everett (north of Seattle) for Astoria, Oregon, some 200 miles to our south to meet up with friends.

Ducks I 5 map

I-5 (in red) in Washington from British Columbia to the Oregon border

Not surprisingly this Saturday morning at 10A, I-5 traffic is busy, but not “commuter crazy stop and go” busy.  Cruising along at 70 mph on the six lane Interstate that goes from northern Washington to southern California, I am mindlessly driving when…

… when from a side ramp a police car, with its blue lights flashing, roars on to the Interstate.  Not stupid, and like sheep, we drivers all slow 5 to 10 miles below the speed limit of 65.  Letting him pass; I am thankful it is not me who is on his radar.

Then the officer ahead does something surprising; he slows to 55 mph.  In unison, we all slow to 55.  Hmmmm.  His actions remind me of time on the Beltway around Washington, D.C., when three police cars, each in their own lane spanned across the highway, drove the speed limit to keep the mass of cars from speeding.  But this guy is well below the speed limit?  What gives?

Ducks highway itself

I-5 at a quieter time

We are just south of Tacoma, Washington, entering a more rural part of the state.  And then it gets weirder.  The officer begins weaving from the travel lane, across the middle lane, to the passing lane and then back again.  In a never-ending S pattern, he back and forths it across the highway for a mile or so.   Being forced to slow to 40 mph in our rented Kia Sportage in the second row of three cars trailing the officer, Hannah and I have no idea what’s up.

The officer continues to weave and goes slower and slower.  No one dares to pass him.  Clearly he is on a mission.

And then he stops.  We all stop.  He gets out of his car and starts running forward down the empty Interstate.

Tuesday’s Part 2 gives you an explanation for the officer’s behavior.  In the comments section below this blog, please put your guess as to why the officer might be doing this.

Dan and Patty Hearst 42 years after her Kidnapping (#10)


Book review of American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trail of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin.

Hannah and I married at her father’s Christmas tree farm in East Penfield, NY in 1972.   Twenty months later Patty Hearst was kidnapped on February 4, 1974, two days before Hannah’s 26th birthday.  That’s forty-two years ago for those of you keeping score!!

A 19-year older, Patty Hearst was kidnapped when she just a kid!   Remember yourself at that age?  I was barely pulling my act together during my freshman year at the College of Wooster; my earth-shaking focus was making the college tennis team and hoping something would happen with the comely coed from Fairport, NY, Hannah Kraai.


Patty Hearst as Tania of the Simbionese Liberation Army

I can’t imagine holding it together like Patty Hearst did as the Simbionese Liberation Army took her hostage and changed her life forever over the next 18 months.

This past Sunday morning, I told Hannah that I don’t want to get the Sunday New York Times like I usually do; I want to finish this 350-page book, which I was a third through.  Typically books over 200 pages are deal breakers for me.  I just can’t sustain the focus.

Ah, but this book is different.  Though non-fiction, it reads like a novel.  Although I generally knew her story (as those of you 60+ no doubt do), I didn’t know the details and the personalities.   As you may remember, Patty eventually became a willing participant in the crimes of the SLA.  Or did she?   It’s a compelling story and one of those books I just couldn’t put down.


And by the way, F. Lee Bailey, the flamboyant attorney how defended her and lost, now lives in Maine.  In 2012 he passed the Maine Bar Exam, but the State Board voted 5-4 to deny him a law license on the grounds that he failed to prove that he “possesses the requisite honesty and integrity” to practice law.   Previously he had been disbarred in Florida and Massachusetts.  In 2016, at the age of 83 he is a “legal consultant” in a single room above a beauty shop in, very likely, Yarmouth, some 50 miles north of us in York.  Click here for information on his Maine legal consulting gig.

And one added bonus, Jeffrey Toobin’s last chapter is Aftermath, where he updates the current status of all the key players in this drama.

Danny and Jimmy Need a Little Help from their Friends

The Jimmy of which I speak is the Jimmy Fund.

Jimmy Fund posterThe Jimmy Fund started in 1948 to help a 12-year-old cancer patient dubbed “Jimmy.”  On a national radio broadcast, millions heard the boy visit with his heroes from the Boston Braves as they stood by his hospital bed.  At the time Boston had two baseball teams, the Red Sox and the Braves.  People everywhere sent contributions in to help buy Jimmy a television so he could watch the Braves play, launching an effort that continues to bring hope to thousands of children and adults facing cancer throughout the world today.

On the morning of Sunday, September 25, 2016, I will walk the final six miles of the Boston Marathon course to raise money for the Jimmy Fund.  To date, I have raised $1800 on my way to $2500.

I will be entering the Marathon course mere yards before the legendary Heartbreak Hill.   I’m pumped for what is called “the steepest hill you will ever run,” or walk in my case.  After that, I’ll pass through Boston College.  The Eagles haven’t been the same since Doug Flutie left campus with his Heisman Trophy in 1984.


I’ll then be heading down Beacon Street, to later pass by the Green Monster of Fenway Park (pronounce Pahk).  Then finally I’ll cruising by Copley Square on to Boylston Street to the finish line.  Click here to get an excellent mile by mile account of the Boston Marathon course.

CMF 4 Mt Rainier on Ramparts trail

Dan, the Jimmy Fund Walking Man warming up near Mount Rainier

Please consider donating, even $10, to this cause at my official Jimmy Fund webpage?

Click on this link to go to my fundraising page directly.   http://www.jimmyfundwalk.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1145126&lis=0&kntae1145126=60CDEA50E9FB48F28CAD9BC54338B563&supid=436593997

Or you can send a check payable to “Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk” with my name in the memo line.  Send it directly to the Jimmy Fund Walk lockbox at

Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, P.O. Box 3595, Boston, MA 02241-3595

I am walking for our friend Barry Fletcher, who, with joy in his heart, battled cancer as long as he possibly  could.  With our team captain George Derby, we walk in his memory.


Celebrating Robyn’s 35th Birthday

As many of you know, Hannah and I have a personal connection to cancer; in our case it is childhood leukemia.  We are eternally grateful to all the people, whom we never met, who donated money for cancer research in the 1980s.  Because of them, our four-year-old daughter Robyn, when diagnosed with leukemia in December of 1985, had a chance for a long life.  She was treated in Boston and Portland, Maine and turned 35 this past Wednesday (September 7, 2016).


Dan Has Big Magic for You! (#9)

bm-cover-with-herThat is, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearClick here for a review of this book by the New York Times.

Since the respected Ogun Holder recommended the book, I just ordered it on Amazon and loved it.   I have eight quotes for your perusal.  Perhaps, they are enough to have you borrow the book from your local library or buy it.  Enjoy.

When I refer to “creative living,” I am speaking more broadly.  I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.

Bravery means doing something scary.

It’s never too late.

Fake it til you make it.

Perfect is not only the enemy of the good; it’s also the enemy of the realistic, the possible, and the fun.

We all spend our twenties and thirties trying so hard to be perfect, because we’re so worried about what people will think of us.  Then we get into our forties and fifties, and we finally start to be free, because we decide that we don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of us.  But you won’t be completely free until you reach your sixties and seventies, when you finally realize this liberating truth –nobody was ever thinking about you, anyhow.

First of all, forgive yourself.

Whatever you do, try not to dwell too long on your failures.  You don’t need to conduct autopsies on your disasters.  You don’t need to know what anything means.

Dan and Hannah Hike Morse Mountain to Seawall Beach in Maine

SB pickleball M H and D

With our daughter Molly on the pickleball courts at York High School

Normally throughout the summer, Hannah and I play pickleball on Tuesdays.  But today is not a normal Tuesday.  We are feeling something different.  Despite our love of whacking wiffle balls with paddles, we are looking to break from a routine that we love.  Today that would be some coastal Maine hiking.

SB map of Bath coast

Thanks to our friend and favorite Maine writer, Molly Hogan, a former student of mine at the University of New England, we have learned of the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area 90 miles north of our home in York.  (Click here for Molly’s blog – Nix the comfort zone.)   The four-mile round-trip hike to Morse Mountain/Seawall Beach will take us through coastal forest and marshland on our way to the Atlantic Ocean.

Accompanied by our free spirits, we take the Maine Turnpike north on the coast.  Turning towards the ocean on route 209 in Bath, we pass the large houses of seafaring captains of yore as well as the preppy Hyde School behind its “stay out” spiked metal eight-foot fence protecting its pristine lawns.

SB map of SB

After driving a simple twenty miles down one of the many peninsulas along the coast of Maine on route 209, we take route 216 rather than continue on to Popham Beach State Park.  Eight tenths of a mile later, we turn left on the Morse Mountain Road for the Conservation Area trailhead parking.

Two hundred yards up the gently rising gravelly road, we meet Jack, a student at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, who is all at once the gate keeper, parking lot attendant, and biology major.   With limited parking for at most 40 cars, we pull into one of the few remaining spaces at noon this late August Tuesday.

SB 1  H on trail

Hannah on fire road as the trail begins

If you are thinking that if the lot is full, you can park along route 216, think again, my friend.  The road has no shoulder as the bushes, trees, and brambles come right to the road’s edge.  The good news is that since the trail to the beach is only two miles, there is lots of turnover in the parking lot.

SB piping plover

Piping Plover

Cooperating with the Nature Conservancy and the Maine Audubon Society to preserve nesting sites for piping plovers, rare and fragile plants, the Conservation Area covers 600 acres from the Sprague River to the Morse River out to Seawall Beach.  The St. John Family leases the entire area to Bates College for one dollar.

The two-mile trail to the beach climbs initially through the forest of pines and hardwoods.  Molly has warned us of mosquitos, but with the midday sun shining through the trees, we see nary a mosquito, Zika or otherwise.  The fire road, once paved but now with just vestiges of macadam, is wide enough for a pickup; the St. John Family has access to its houses along the trail.  For the rest of us, we walk.  Which we are so damn lucky to do!

SB 1C more marsh

It’s a simple climb along the fire road to Morse Mountain.   Saving a trip to the actual summit of Morse Mountain for our return, we head east to the beach, first in forested area, then to the wetlands of the bay.

SB 1B  marsh

At a leisurely pace, it takes us no more than 40 minutes to wind up at the expansive sandy beach.  Along the way we pass other couples, mostly seniors, and families out for this last taste of days without routine before the school year begins.  With no public facilities, toilets, picnic tables, or lifeguards, this is shoreline heaven for all who like their beaches un-ly, unsullied and uncrowded.

On this late August summer day with the temps near 80F and full sunshine, we have a mile of sandy beach before us to make our four miles of hiking into six.   For most people, beach-going is living the dream.  Hannah and I are just not such people.  Lying in the sun “collecting rays” is not our idea of a good time.  And I find walking in the dry sand of the beach frustrating and worthy of #$*&!# name-calling.

SB 2 D at beach

Dan at Seawall Beach at the Atlantic Ocean

But today Seawall Beach delivers in an unexpected way.  Since it is low tide, we have firm wet sand by the shoreline to maintain a steady pace without us wading through and sinking in the dry sand.

Families are building sand castles, some like the Geico guy and some like Geico’s competition.  Click here to see the 30 second Geico ad at the beach that is played on ESPN morning, noon, and night.

Twenty minutes later we arrive at the Morse River with Popham Beach State Park across the waterway.  Truly, cares and routines get left behind.

Leaving the beach on the trail back to the parking area, we soon take to the spur of no more than a few hundred yards to the top of the very modest Morse Mountain.  There we see a vision of ourselves in four years.  Let me explain.

For there, on the slightly angled large boulder with views to the Atlantic Ocean, we meet grandparents Mike and Molly who have brought their grandsons, Landon and Spencer, to hike the trail; out for an adventure, they say.

SB  Owen and Max and Hannah

Max and Owen with their Omi loving their popcorn

You see, “an adventure” is just we call our regular excursions with our grandsons, Owen (4) and Max (2).

Why the following day we will have such a “24 hours of Owen and Max” adventure.  We will take them to race around the indoor track at the Kittery Community Center, play with the trains at the York Public Library, chuck water balloons from our upstairs deck, and then celebrate it all with popcorn, before baths in our kitchen sink.

We mark our 2020 calendar to hike to Seawall Beach for an adventure with the then eight-year-old Owen and his six-year-old brother Max.