Dan and Hannah and the Simple Things in a Marriage

One Sunday after attending the morning service at Unity on the River in Amesbury, MA, Hannah and I stayed after for a two-hour workshop on improving relationships.  The counselor, Jim Goldstein of Powerful Partnerships, offered some good reminders for us.

Everybody Loves Somebody

Karla Souza plays the lead

For me, it is “easy” to be with Hannah.  It’s just easy to chill with her, hang out with her, whether we are hiking or pickleballing or just in different parts of our house.   “Easy” is one part why our marriage seems to work.  Check out an excellent movie, Everybody Loves Somebody (2016), to see the importance of most of the time it being easy with your spouse.  Click here to see a two-minute trailer of the film.

Love between parents

I believe raising a healthy family is like the instructions delivered by the flight attendant.  “Put the mask on yourself first before you assist others.”   Throughout our years together, I made a priority of my relationship with Hannah; that became the foundation for giving it our best shot to raise healthy, happy, appreciative, engaged, and loving kids.  By the way, I believe the best thing a dad or a mom can do for their kids, is to love their spouse.

So, I leave you with six simple things from the workshop that we don’t always do, but that we sure as hell want to do.

  1. Have rituals that we do together (e.g. evening wine on our front deck or in front of the fireplace)
  2. Have date nights (e.g. Ruby’s in town for half-priced margaritas and nachos)
  3. Do nice things for each other (e.g. simple stuff, without being asked, like Hannah’s meal making and my dishwashing and laundry doing)
  4. Focus on what you like about the other one (e.g. for me, how she gives things a shot. For Hannah, how I encourage people)
  5. Touch a lot (we do every time just one of us leaves the house)
  6. Talk about real things, not just the business of getting through the day. (e.g. our relationship, our friends, our family, what’s ahead)

Simple, but not always so simple.

Dan and Hannah and Roger Federer

For a long time, I’ve been a big fan of Roger Federer, the tennis champion.  You may be thinking, well that certainly fits, Dan; you are the classic front runner.

You got me there.  I do love me my Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and Thousand Time NCAA Champion UConn Women’s Basketball.   Oh yeah, all the way across the country, I am all in on Steph Curry and the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors.  Obviously, I have no shame.  Jordan Spieth is my favorite golfer, now that my fellow Sun Devil alum, Phil Mickelsen, has driven off into the sunset.

RF Roger 1

Roger Federer

Roger said something that rang very true when he was interviewed after winning Wimbledon this past July.  I’ll get to that in due time, but let me tease his quote by saying that I’m reminded of the dangers of taking things for granted.  Mea culpa.

Consider, we live on the coast of Maine, two miles from the Atlantic Ocean.   We go months without seeing the rocky shores and walking its beaches.  Mea bad.

RF Radburn

Back to Roger.  Well, really back to Dan.  Tennis was my game of choice growing up in the 1960s in northern Jersey.   Living just two streets from the Radburn Tennis Courts, I played much of the day throughout the summer.  I played some for the high school team and a little in college.

RF Wooster

Fact is, Hannah and I started courting (you see what I just did!) on the tennis courts at the College of Wooster in Ohio in 1967.  I was hoping my game (in the larger sense) would find its way into her heart.

Something worked, we married, life was very good, but tennis fell to the wayside.  We moved on to running, and later I added golf to my sporting life.  As seniors, Hannah and I have found a hybrid tennis alternative – pickleball – to our immense pleasure.  Being a racket sport, pickleball fit nicely with our tennis-playing past.

RF Brady


But back to Roger. As Michael Jordan is to basketball and Tom Brady to football, Roger from tiny Switzerland is the GOAT in tennis!   As in the Greatest of All Time!  He glides around the court, making shots mere mortals can only dream of.  He’s the people’s champion, beloved around the world.  Fluent in English, French, German, and Swiss-German, he is gracious and articulate, no matter the continent, whether in victory or defeat.

RF Wimbledon

Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2017

Well, back to my tease in the opening paragraph.  As Roger was being interviewed, he was asked about what is the best part of winning this major championship.  Was it that he won his 8th Wimbledon title, the most in history?  Was it racking up his 19th major championship, four more than second place Rafael Nadal (now three since Rafa won the US Open).   Nooooooo.

He said I’m healthy againIt’s all about my health. (The previous year Roger had taken six months away from tennis to heal after knee surgery.)

How quickly those of us who have been blessed with a lifetime of good health can take it for granted.  I have been one such person with remarkably good health for my first seven decades.

RF pickleball

Pickleball sweethearts

But it’s been a rougher go over the last two years.   Nothing big, but my vulnerability is showing.  I’ve had a nasty four day stiff neck and strained shoulders from lifting our grandsons, an aching Achilles from playing ping pong in bare feet, as well as over-enthusiasm pickleball injuries (right elbow and left knee tendinitis, a groin pull).   And then a recent four-hour bolt out of the blue – Transient Global Amnesia – when I couldn’t remember or speak coherently that has me on meds for the coming year.

It is said that retirement is the best.  And I am one of the fortunate ones who has two of the necessary ingredients for retirement – financial means and good health.

There is one caveat.  By being grateful for my good health, I’m only half way there.  The equally important second half is my commitment to sufficient sleep, eating well, surrounding myself with loved ones, meditating, and an hour of daily stretching forever, so I can stay in the game.

Dan and Hannah and the Ways of Our Love

It’s the first week of August, Hannah and I have come to Sandy Springs, Georgia (Atlanta Metro Area) for Hannah’s second experimental stem cell injection; we’ve hopes that stem cells just might hold a key to improving her voice, which has been softened and limited for the past 15 years.

SH 1 Julie and Dr T with H

NP Julie and Dr. Tan prepping Hannah

Injected into her spine (to pass the blood/brain barrier), the stem cells will also be infused into her blood system for improved joint health as well.  We have been encouraged by the positive stem cell results by many pickleballers that we have met from the Yonah Mountain area (north Georgia).

SH 1B J to infuse H

Julie prepping to infuse Hannah with stem cells

Up by 2A in York, Maine for our 6A flight to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, we arrive in the Peach Tree State before 9A; drive 25 miles north to Sandy Springs for Hannah’s treatments.  Dr. Tan administers the stem cell injection; later Nurse Practitioner Julie Thorne infuses the stem cells into her blood system.

SH 2 Anne Frank


Hannah comes out of the 90-minute procedure smiling, without any pain, but…

…we are both weary beyond belief from our just after midnight wake up call on this 90F afternoon.

Unsuccessful in our attempt to check in the early afternoon at our Comfort Suites motel, we take the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank in the World Center in Sandy Springs!  Who knew that the heart of Dixie would have such a treasure!  Click here for more information about this much-needed telling of her story, especially in light of the August events in Charlottesville and the dangerous equivocating of the President.

Finally checked into the Comfort Suites, we lunch on our Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki subs, sort of nap, later walk to the local grocery store for our dinner, and then, toast the success of Hannah’s stem cell surgery with a fine Cabernet in our suite.

Fried, though Hannah’s feeling no pain, we are in bed by 8P.  That’s when our love kicks in.

Unbeknownst to me in my deep slumber of exhaustion, Hannah soon develops back pain pushing past 12 – on a scale of one to ten.  She can’t sleep.  I mean can’t sleep at all.  She showers; she walks the corridor of the motel’s second floor; she takes a bath; she lies in bed hoping to fall asleep.  Nothing works.  Her back hurts big time.

SH D and NR

Dan and Nancy Rose over brunch at the Summerland Cafe, south of Santa Barbara

And this is where Hannah calls on the wisdom of our Santa Barbara and Unity friend Nancy Rose.   Earlier in the evening, Nancy Rose had emailed Hannah

Dear Hannah,

Just getting around to reading my emails.  I love your friend’s saying- “what soap does for the body, tears do for the soul” -beautiful.  You are good for my soul too, Hannah.  Take good care down there in Georgia.  You are in the best hands, and you know whose they are. 

Later, Hannah emails Nancy Rose.

SH Four of us D H NR Duncan

Dan, Hannah, Nancy, and Duncan earlier this year in Summerland, California

dear Nancy  

            Your latest email helped more than I can say….in the middle of the night last night (after my stem cell injections yesterday) I couldn’t sleep, was feeling aches down to my bones (lower back and back of my thighs), tossed and turned – and thought of your words: “You are in the best hands and you know whose they are.” Because of that sharing from you, I woke Dan up and let him be “God’s hands” in the middle of the night.

      I am so blessed. And I am so grateful for you, dear Nancy. And, for my Danny Boy.  my love – to you and your Duncan.


As often in our 50 years together, I am the regular recipient of Hannah’s love, and tonight was another such case.   Hannah wakes me and we cuddle as she tells me of her incessant back pain and inability to sleep.   For me, I am so damn pleased she woke me; I hold her snugly until she is ready to give sleeping another shot.

A few hours later, she wakes me again, still unable to sleep or get comfortable.   We walk the motel corridors together before dawn while everyone else, except us two, sleeps.

And that, my friends, Hannah waking me in the middle of the night is one way of our love…

PS Oh yeah, we’ll remember the Tylenol next time.

Dan with Hannah Makes a Comeback

When I last posted about my late June episode of temporary amnesia (Part 6 of Dan Loses His Mind as His World is Shaken, Rattled, and Rolled), I concluded that blog with my appointment with Dr. Maslinski, a local neurologist.   Click here for the link to that blog.


A simple 2017 Holter Monitor

At that July 5 appointment, the good doctor wanted me to wear a Holter monitor for 48 hours to check out the electrical activity of my heart (EKG); basically to see if my episode was a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) that caused my symptoms.  To lay folk, a TIA is often thought of as a benign mini-stroke.

A TIA is a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain that doesn’t cause permanent damage.  That said, ignoring it can be a big mistake since a TIA may signal that a full-blown stroke is coming down the pike.


One pale dude who knows no shame sporting a Holter Monitor on his right hip

July 24 is Holter Monitor Installation Day.  At the cardiac unit of York (Maine) Hospital, a cardiologist technician attaches five electrodes to my chest, each with a wire to the Holter Monitor; a device that is no more than 1.5” x 2.5” that fits neatly in a plastic holster on my waist.  Installed in less than ten minutes, the monitor has one non-negotiable – no showers for the next 48 hours.

During the day, whether playing pickleball, working out at the gym, playing ping pong, or chilling at home, the monitor is so non-obtrusive that I don’t even know it’s there.

Nighttime?  Sleep is not restful as I reposition the monitor as I inevitably move in bed.  Even so, the Holter monitor is a minor inconvenience over two days.

Eight days later on August 4, I have my second appointment with Dr. Maslinski to go over the results of the electrocardiogram (EKG) from the Holter monitor.

As when meeting with medical professionals, I come with my hopes and my unwarranted expectations.

CB Hope 2

Hope #1The Holter Monitor will identify whether I had a TIA.  The EKG indicated that my heart is basically normal, one any 69-year-old would be proud to call his own.  What happened to me was not likely a TIA.  Still, I am on baby aspirin for the foreseeable future since something heart-related can’t be ruled out.

Hope #2The neurologist would have an idea what did happen.  He does.  He thinks it’s a TGA.  Transient Global Amnesia is a sudden, temporary episode when recall of recent events simply vanishes.  Although a TGA isn’t harmful, there’s no easy way to distinguish the condition from the life-threatening illnesses that can also cause sudden memory loss.

Hope #3He will know why it happened to me specifically.  No dice.  While there is a name for what happened, why it happened remains a mystery, as it did 15 years ago during my first such episode.  He is leaning toward something epileptic (hence putting me on the anti-seizure medication Keppra).

Hope #4 – I’d be able to stop taking the twice daily Keppra medication (for seizures) that I’ve been on for the last month.   That’s not happening any time soon.  Since I had a previous incident, albeit fifteen years ago, he cannot rule out that a seizure is at play.  Hence, Keppra for the coming year.  That we don’t have to meet til late next June suggests to me that the doctor is not overly concerned about my condition.  I put that in the plus column.

Hope #5 – I’ll be able to drive three months after the episode!  And that I will be able to do, if I have no repeat episodes.  And another incident, in my mind, is not likely as I am on anti-seizure Keppra; and it’s been 15 years since my last episode.  He did say that he did not inform the Department of Motor Vehicles of my status because he believed I would follow the law.  It’s not tough sizing me up as a first child, rule-follower.   He did say, he does inform DMV if someone presents as “non-compliant.”

Many people wonder if not driving is a big deal.  It hasn’t been.  Largely due to Hannah’s sweetness and that we are retired.    She and I balance our schedules and make trips happen without too much grief.

To me, Dr. Maslinski’s caution seems reasonable, especially considering this being my second episode.

Could dehydration have triggered this event?

Fact #1 – Without fail for the 2+ months since my episode, I continue daily to drink my 40 ounces of water throughout the morning.

Fact #2 – I have not had a repeat episode.

Fact #3 – Two plus two is four.

Fact #4 – I am not sure I really understand syllogisms any better now than I did when I barely earned a C in a Logic course at the College of Wooster.

Fact #5 – No doctor has suggested a connection between dehydration and a TGA.

CB hospital costs

So, what does something like this cost in 2017?  I had no idea a CAT Scan costs $1,053; an echocardiogram sets one back $1,454; an MRI goes for a cool $2,069; the charge for a carotid artery test is $652; an electroencephalography (EEG) is a mere $561.

In my six pages of detailed charges from York Hospital, I can’t find the cost of my hospital room for the night.  But considering that to date, the total charges are $12,822.93, my overnight stay couldn’t have been cheap.

I am a fortunate dude.

Dan and Hannah and Sharing Our Good Fortune (Part Deux)

Molly July

Re: treating another

The day before we are to meet at the golf course, I email Molly and say, I want to treat you to golf and breakfast tomorrow.  And then I add, Sometime down the road, consider paying it forward when you happen to be out with someone else.

How cool is that!  Oui?

So, what do you think?  What do you do in these situations?  Post your comments beneath the blog or let’s talk more on this subject the next time we get together.

Dan and Hannah and Sharing Our Good Fortune  

At times, Hannah and I wonder how to share our good fortune…

…without that genuine act of generosity screwing up our relationships.  If you are on the giving end, you know that there can be great satisfaction and a self-confidence that can grow when treating others.  But it’s not all that simple.

How does the one being taken care of feel?  Their confidence?  Their feeling that they are pulling their own weight?  Can treating another easily throw relationships out of balance with one party holding all the cards and the other wondering how can I ever repay these genuine acts of kindness?  I don’t have the money to do so.

coffee and muffin

Hannah knows sometimes it isn’t easy for another to accept her offer to treat them to coffee and a muffin when they go out together.  It can be complicated for many reasons.  She smooths it out by saying to her friend, It’s Dan’s treat.  Pretty cool, n’est-ce pas?

We try to be thought-full when we are treating others.  Just because we may have more money, we don’t want to set up an unhealthy superior/inferior dynamic.  You know the kind, where having more means, means we are the ones feeling good by treating and taking care of others.

And worse, the one being paid for could get used to being paid for.  And then come to expect it, possibly eroding their self-esteem.  It can be a complicated picture when true generosity is at the heart of the giving.

golf with molly

On the 7th green at the Amesbury Country Club

In late August, I wanted to treat our daughter Molly to nine holes of golf at dawn at the Amesbury Country Club and breakfast after at the Morning Buzz.   In June, she treated me for Father’s Day to golf and breakfast and later that summer, I paid the bill for those two for her birthday.

So, how to go about paying this third time?  At this time in our lives, Hannah and I have much more disposable income than she and Tip.  Still, I don’t want paying for golf and breakfast this morning to complicate and distort our relationship.

And I came up with a brilliant finesse.

Tomorrow I’ll post that finesse.








Dan and Hannah Hike to Stewart Falls in Sundance, Utah


Physically, it has not been a good morning.  Wa, wa, wa.  Cue the violins.  In fact, bring on the whole string section.  I can’t be the only one whose body starts to turn on them in their late sixties.

My patellar (knee cap) tendon lets me know that he is not going to play nice today.  I admit I haven’t been easy on the ole boy, this being the sixth day of our seven-day hiking and pickleballing adventures in Utah.  At the neighborhood pickleball courts this morning, he showed me who’s boss.  I am hesitant in my court movements as Hannah and I play with our friend Nancy, her daughter Cara, and Nancy’s grandson Milo.

Then walking the mile back to Nancy’s place on the 90F morning, I walk haltingly, not quite limping, even with my compression sleeve.  Bad news is on the doorstep, I couldn’t take one more step.  (You got to love the appropriateness of this classic line from Don McLean’s American Pie.)

SF 3D falls alone

Stewart Falls above the Sundance Resort

The bad news is that our hike to Stewart Falls with our friend Dixie this afternoon is looking like it’ll be sans dear ole Dan.  There’s no way you should go and risk injury, my rationale side speaks up.  Don’t be an even bigger fool!  

By noon, with no improvement, it is clear, I will sit this hike out.  But things are never as simple as they seem.  Sweet as ever, Hannah lets me know if there is any way I could make this hike happen, she would love me to go.

SF 1C H and D

Dixie and Hannah

She offers the possibility that I drive out with them 25 minutes to the trailhead and just give it a shot.  If it’s a no go, I can take my iPhone and some reading and hang out at the trailhead while the others hike.  Who could say no to such a sensible option and that smile?  Pas moi!

Popping Tylenol and packing my compression sleeve, I suck it up and do it for the love of my life.  In fact, giving the hike a shot turns out to be no sacrifice at all.  If I hadn’t gone, I would have missed a sparkling afternoon with new friends.  Let me explain and show you in pictures.

SF 1D D S and D

Scot, Dixie, and the Ithaca Bomber

AL 2C AL in distance

Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park

Dixie arrives just after three with her bf Scot.  Hannah and I have not seen Dixie since February 2015, when we met her and her then 12-year-old daughter Jocelyn on Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park.  I mean, we were hiking the last half mile of the “hanging on to chains” part of the trail, 1500’ above the Virgin River Valley when we met them!   Click here for the link to that hike.  https://over60hiker.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/dan-and-hannah-wonder-about-angels-landing-in-zion-national-park/

AL 4D d and h at top to the east

Atop Angel’s Landing

As we four hiked the last half mile to Angel’s Landing itself that day, I was impressed with Jocelyn’s cool-as-a-cucumber-ness and with Dixie’s parenting, believing in her daughter and encouraging her along the way.  Think Seb to Mia in La La Land.

After the hike, Hannah and Dixie exchanged contact information, kept in touch regularly, and here we are more than two years later ready to hike together near Dixie’s home in central Utah.

SF butch and sundance

Robert Redford and Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

At the Emery Grove State Park, Stewart Falls at 7000’ is three miles above the Sundance Resort to the west of Provo, UT.  Six years ago, Hannah and I came here to hike in the area.   Once done hiking, we walked around the Sundance complex of studios, restaurants, and grounds.  Stunningly that Sunday afternoon, we saw The one and only Robert Redford being interviewed.  Respecting his privacy but star struck nonetheless, we stole glances and made excuses to walk nearby.  If you are of a certain age, Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) is about as cool as it gets.  He was then cool squared in The Sting (1973).

SF 2C mountains above the trail

Stewart Falls Trail with the falls (dead center) in the distance

The trail to Stewart Falls climbs a few hundred feet of elevation and then down to the falls 1.7 miles in total from the trailhead, which makes it family-friendly and, indeed, an enjoyable walk-in-the-park for those of us over-60.   In the distance, we see the majestic, snow-laced Mount Timpanogos at 11,752’.

Hiking in pairs through the forest, Dixie and Hannah up front, Scot and me trailing behind, my conversation with Scot is easy: first sports, then family, then work (him), retirement (me).  I then learn that he is a lawyer.

Sizing people up with uncanny accuracy, I take him for one who enjoys a good lawyer joke.  So, I jump into the deep end; my “go to” lawyer joke is from The War of the Roses (1989) with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.   What are 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

A good start.  Scot has his own go-to lawyer joke, why don’t sharks eat lawyers?

Professional courtesy.

SF 3A D H D closeup

Dixie, Hannah, and Dan

Once up the mountainside of pines, the trail levels off to aspens on this sun-dappled first Monday in June.  Within a half mile of the Stewart Falls, the trail descends as many happy waterfall seekers are returning to the trailhead.

The Stewart Falls are in their glory this first week of June after a rainy winter.  Then it hits both Hannah and me at the same moment!

SF 3E we four at falls

Scot, Dixie, Hannah, and Dan

We have, in fact, been to these falls before.  Six years ago, when snow forced us off the Mount Timpanogos Trail, we indeed hiked to Stewart Falls.

Sit down if you are standing because I am going deep, I’m talking Henry David Thoreau deep.  Hiking in the great outdoors can be therapeutic – mitigating sadness and depression; promoting gratitude and appreciating life; deepening friendships in a woodland setting.  Our love affair with Natural Utah has an apt ending with waterfalls and new friends – Dixie and Scot.



Falls with Nancy Turley early June

Battle Creek Falls in June

PS It turns out the next day, our longtime friend Nancy Turley takes us to Battle Creek Falls near Pleasant Grove in central Utah.  I love this artsy picture of mine.  Do I hear an Amen, brother?