Dan on Blue Highways – KGUA radio #20

For the September 28, 2020 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour in Gualala, California, we free writers are asked to look to our bookshelf.  What is the book that holds a dear spot in our hearts?  Why is the book important to us? 

Blue Highways

The author of this travelogue, William Least Heat Moon, was fired from his university teaching position, bought a van, packed his dog, and set out on a one year odyssey to discover America.  Often he would stop in a small town, find a temporary job, and interact with Americans he never knew. 

Tree and Scott on the Mendocino coast

The Blue Highways title is taken from the blue color on maps for the roads that are our country’s by-ways.  The ones that are out of the way, not traveled by the impatient or obsessed with time and speed.  A two lane country road like the Pacific Coast Highway in Mendocino County is such a road.

Blue Highway (the PCH) in Mendocino County

Escaping 150 miles north from San Francisco, Hannah and I find a winding coastal road to the house of our friends, Scott and Tree.  Visiting them years ago, one early morning, Hannah and I walk along the PCH while a herd of cattle 100 yards away come to check us out.  As we walk north along their pasture, the herd follows us as if we are Pied Pipers.  The occasional truck or car passes us during their quote morning rush hour.

Blue highways slow me down, make me pause, encourage me to write, read all afternoon long, toast the sunset with a glass of wine, and get so far away that I wonder if I’m ever coming back. 

I always do, but I’m refreshed, more self-reflective, and ironically more appreciative of our home in Maine. 

Dan and Hannah’s Bunion Surgery Numero Dos

All summer long, Hannah knows that surgery on her left foot bunion was coming on September 23, 2020. In the week prior to her surgery, Hannah makes the most of her time.

Getting in a few last serves at Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth
Enjoying the Atlantic Ocean at Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth with our friend Genny
Hiking the Green Belt Trail in Cape Elizabeth with our friend Alan
Teaming up in mixed doubles pickleball with our friend Fran

Finally, this past Sunday, we drive north to Scarborough for Hannah’s Covid-19 test, which is necessary for her to have the bunionectomy. Afterward, Hannah and I take one last shoreline walk at nearby Pine Point Beach since it’ll be mid-November before Hannah can walk our Maine beaches again.  By the way, her Covid test was negative.

Covid Test, a swab up both nostrils, that was described as if a bug flew up your nose
Pine Point Beach in Scarborough, Maine mid-day Sunday

Come Monday morning, Portland Foot and Ankle ask Hannah if she can move up her appointment from 1045A to 730A.   Hannah is all in. Let’s get this show on the road.

Then Wednesday morning, arriving at the Scarborough Surgical Center at 610A, we are given new paper masks; fearless, Hannah awaits her surgery by Dr. Juris who successfully performed surgery on her right bunion four months ago (May 2020).  Click here for that blog.

610A in the waiting room at the Scarborough Surgical Center

Unable to accompany her to pre-op, I skip out and drive to the nearby sandy Pine Point Beach to walk the shoreline for the next 90 minutes, all the way to the pier at Old Orchard Beach and back. 

Morning at Pine Point Beach

Throughout the morning, I get text updates from the team working on Hannah’s bunion.

7:28 AM (Procedure Update) Your loved one is in the operating room and is being prepped for surgery. We will begin the procedure soon.

8:41 AM (Procedure Update) The procedure has ended, your loved one is now in recovery.

Heading back to the surgical center, I stop at Dunkin’ for coffee and a muffin.  It’s the least I can do to support Hannah.

Once back at the outside tables of the surgical center, I soon am called to come to post-op to see the ever-smiling Hannah. 

Wheeled out, Hannah smiles beneath her mask.  Can you tell?

During her seven week rehab, Hannah will be on crutches for five days, wear a surgical boot for two weeks, and then tenderly walk for the following month before she can resume physical activity in mid-November.

Outdoor pickleball season in New England will be over by then, but she can already hear the pickleball courts of Santa Barbara calling her name.

Let the healing begin.

Afternoon of Hannah’s surgery

Dan Introduces Hannah’s Frog Wall of York, Maine

Ever been to the Frog Wall of Santa Barbara, California?

Neither had we until our hiking/pickleball friends, Claudia and Bill, took us there this past winter.  Over the last few years, frogs have organically began appearing on Paterna Road on the hillside in Santa Barbara.

Hannah with Bill and Claudia on the Frog Wall West in Santa Barbara

Immediately taken with the idea of a Frog Wall, Hannah made it her mission to create a Frog Wall in front of our house in York, Maine.

Caitlin’s Frog in the foreground and Norm’s in the distance

Ergo, we cleared the forest floor behind the frog wall, collected rocks for the wall’s construction, and began to spread the word that frogs are welcome to Maine.

Thanks to our local friends Karen and Mandy, our sister-in-law Stacy and niece Liesje, our pickleball buddy Norm, and pickleball friends Genny and Alan (their granddaughter Caitlin painted a frog on stones), frogs are beginning to populate our Frog Wall.

Though the stone wall for your frogs won’t be completed until 2021 due to Hannah’s fractured left elbow and second bunion surgery this Wednesday with its 6 to 8 week rehab, we invite you to bring a frog for the Frog Wall of York, Maine and watch those frogs multiply.

If you are from Away, please consider sending us a frog that will make you a proud member of Frog Nation, and come visit the FW the next time you are in town. 

Karen’s Frog

As you no doubt know, a frog is a short bodied, tailless amphibian. 

What’s the difference between a frog and a toad, Dan?  Well, most frogs have long legs and smooth skin while toads generally have shorter legs and rougher, thicker skins.

The forest glade between our house and the Frog Wall (the far end center left)
Max (in red) and Owen checking out the Frog Wall (circa 2020)
The Santa Barbara Frog Wall, our inspiration
Norm’s Frog on Chases Pond Road

Dan Tries Something New During an Owen and Max Weekend – KGUA radio #19

For the September 21, 2020 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to participate in Show and Tell.  Mark Gross challenges us to free write about something new we have done. Something we have discovered. A new book? A new hobby? A new recipe? A new pet? Being a new volunteer? A new crop?

Something New

My something new requires you to connect the dots starting with my parents, who lived into their 90s and remain a part of me to this day. 

Dot #1, when Hannah and I had three kids under the age of ten, mom and dad would take them for a long weekend so we could get away alone together.

Dot numero dos, paying it forward, regularly we take our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6), so our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip get some time to themselves.

Max in yellow and Owen hunting for seaglass in Kittery Point

Dot three, though we don’t pretend to have grandparents-of-the-year status, we do have our moments.  This past weekend, with Owen and Max, Hannah and I went looking for sea glass in Kittery Point, hiked the Braveboat Headwaters Trail, took pizza to the York Harbor Beach for boogie boarding and tide pooling and…

Dot quatro, at sunset we four popped into our friend Karen’s, whose sis and brother-in-law were down from Vermont for lobster and, wait for it, ….

Steamers.  There you have it!   In 38 years of living on the coast of Maine, Hannah and I have never had steamers.  Ever adventurous, Owen tries them as well. 

Separating the shell, I remove the clam, pull off the black rubbery end, dip the one inch clam into melted butter, then pop it into my mouth.  Voila!

The next morning I ask Owen to rate steamers from one to ten.  He says a six, which I agree with.  Wondering what the big deal is, Hannah is not impressed and rates the experience a two.

Steamers are fine, and to paraphrase Meatloaf, six out of ten ain’t bad.

Images from that weekend with Owen and Max

Sea glass hunting in Kittery Point
Lunchtime after seaglass hunting
The hike begins
Saturday evening pizza and rock climbing at York Harbor Beach
Sunday morning sprint at York Harbor Beach
Steamers with Rick, Hannah, Max, Owen, Sis, and Karen
Max and Owen check out the initial stages of their Omi’s Frog Wall. Monday’s blog fills in the details about York’s first Frog Wall

Our son Will on the Sugarbench Podcast

Got ten minutes? Twenty? Five?

Our youngest child Will (clearly our favorite son) was interviewed on the September 9, 2020 Sugarbench Podcast about his journey in life.

If you listen to the podcast, you’ll learn about Will’s early years in York, Maine, the value of his college years in Vermont, later grad school in the South, life as a husband and father to three kids in central New York, and his 400 miles of bicycle riding to raise money for the the Children’s Cancer Research Center to honor his sister, Robyn, a leukemia survivor.

Click on Will’s picture below to listen to Andy’s interview with Will.

Dan at Four in the Morning – KGUA radio #18

For the September 7, 2020 (our daughter Robyn’s 39th birthday) KGUA (Gualala, California) radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are told that Ulysses by James Joyce is often considered the greatest novel ever written.

Ulysses takes place over one day, over 600 pages.  Each chapter is an hour in the life of the character/s as they live their life and navigate their town by the sea from hour to hour.

In 200 to 250 words, we are asked to free write about an hour of the day. 

I just don’t sleep through the night.  I just don’t.  Usually, I’m up once a little after midnight and then again before dawn.  As I awake early this morning, beside me, I hear Hannah’s soft breathing.  I live with a sleeping rockstar. 

But before you get the idea that I don’t sleep well, please consider that I’m often in bed by 830 PM doing a crossword, with the light out by nine most nights.

So you do the math.  Waking for a second time at four AM means I’ve had a decent seven hours – with more to come.  At this point, I return from the bathroom through our kitchen with my iPhone and earbuds.  To lull myself back to sleep, I listen to a podcast, usually sports, since that requires very little of my attention.   

Predictably, my attention wanders.  Removing my earbuds, I lay on my back, eyes closed, and begin to meditate.  Inhaling for a count of five, holding my breath for another five, and then exhaling for five more.  I rinse and repeat until I nod off. 

And all the while Hannah breathes quietly next to me.  It’s all very peaceful, lying next to a rock star.

Words – 211

Four in the morning, Crapped out, Yawning, Longing my life away. – Paul Simon from Still Crazy After All These Years

Dan, his Grandson Owen, and Hydrogen Peroxide

HP two families

Front Row – Will, Owen, Max, Charlotte, Molly  Back Row – Brooks, Laurel, Reese, Tip, Poppa, Omi

Our daughter Molly calls early Saturday morning wondering if she and her family can come up for an afternoon visit on Chases Pond Road.  You see, her brother, our son Will and his family, are here for the week from their home in central New York.

Arriving mid-afternoon, Owen (8) and Max (6) spill out of their 12-year-old Honda Accord on to our front yard where their cousin Brooks (2) awaits.  Nearby, his two month old identical twin sisters, Reese and Charlotte, chill oblivious to the young male exuberance and rough housing.

HP girls

Charlotte and Reese chilling

After late afternoon spaghetti and cucumber salad, Owen turns the bottom of his foot to his mom, feeling a splinter in his foot.  He asks his Omi for a tweezer and Molly works her best to get the splinter out.

When removing it proves elusive, Owen’s Aunt Laurel (an RN) suggests soaking his foot in the kiddie pool and putting some hydrogen peroxide on his foot to loosen the splinter.

Alas, we have no hydrogen peroxide in the house.  So this provides me with the golden opportunity to bring to life Rothermel’s First Theorem of HumanityPeople love to help out.

Jumping into action, I text Laurie across the street to see if she has any hydrogen peroxide.  Returning our text almost immediately, she does, but she is down at the beach for the evening, so we are oh for one.

No problemo.  I text our new next door neighbor Carol, then longtime across-the-street neighbor, Steve, to see if they have any hp.  First Carol, then Steve text back that they do.  We head to Carol’s.

The forest undercover on the way to Carol’s

Walking with Owen through our forest glade front yard, I lead him to Carol’s.  She’s ready with two bottles of hp that she has found in her house.  One has a label from Reny’s (a variety store whose tagline is Reny’s, a Maine adventure) showing that the bottle costs fifty cents.  Giving us that bottle outright, she demonstrates to Owen the welcoming spirit of neighbors helping neighbors; he sees Rothermel’s First Theorem of Humanity in action.

He and I return for a little more soaking then applying the hydrogen peroxide. 

Class is dismissed from Poppa 101 at the University of Chases Pond Road.

By the way, from a valued reader and high school classmate of Hannah’s from New York regarding commenting on my blog and being notified when I respond to your comment

As long as I click the “show me comments” box before posting, all is good. And then WordPress sends me an email confirming that I follow you. I click “confirm” because I’m not sure you’ll see my post if I don’t. WordPress doesn’t notify me that you’ve commented—the comment simply shows up in my email inbox.