Dan Steps Up to Work at the Phone Bank for Biden/Harris

Not Molly and Tip

Our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip are walking the walk this 2020 election season. Tip is working at the polls for early voting and on Election Day and Molly is part of team of phone callers to get out the vote for Joe and Kamala.  As Molly talked about her experience of last week, she invited/challenged me to go out of my comfort zone, as she had done, and join the phone bank callers on the Tuesday (October 27, 2020) before Election Day.

Challenge accepted!

At 530P this past Tuesday, I log into Zoom (a first!), and had Ben Blumenthal, Democrat operative/super-volunteer train me remotely.  With the choice of two battleground states (Pennsylvania or Florida), I choose Pennsylvania as my Dad was from Sunbury in the center of the state and Mom lived near Pittsburgh in the west.

Needing a laptop and a cell phone, I am advised to (1) be myself [piece of cake for I got be me], (2) listen [check], (3) be honest [bring out my inner Abe-ness], (4) do not debate, and (5) do my part to restore the soul of America with kindness, caring, and empathy, which is sorely lacking from the current White House.

Along with 18 others on the Zoom screen, I dive in for the next hour and a half to see what voters are thinking in the Keystone State. 

Starting off slowly with a wrong number, I then talk to an upbeat voter for Biden.  My third call is a polite enough woman who says, Absolutely not.  I live in coal energy.

I would say a third of the time people hung up.  One woman says that she’d been called twice before today and another man says please do not call my phone no more and hung up. 

The phone lists need some updating as one caller has moved to New York, another to Arizona.  Though I am calling from my own phone, the ThruTalk software has the number that appears to the one I am calling as coming from a Pennsylvania area code. 

Here’s the script.  When I hear the caller, I start with, Is this, say, John?  If it is, I click on that box on my laptop screen that indicates correct number.  I then continue with This is Dan calling for the Pennsylvania Democrats and wondering if you are voting for Joe Biden.

The screen scrolls down to boxes for me to click on to show who they are voting for.  If they say, Biden I click on Strong for Biden box.  If not, it’s Undecided or Leaning Republican.  If they are still on the line, I then ask if they have voted by mail or are voting on Election Day, then clicking on the appropriate screen for their response.  And that’s where it usually ends.  I never get to, would you like to volunteer? I am rookie; I need some seasoning. Preferably, lemon pepper.

I don’t get any abusive or angry people when I identify myself as a Biden supporter.  Some say they have already voted but don’t tell me for whom.  As a rocket scientist, I figure that means for the current president.

One woman says the name I am calling doesn’t live here.  She wonders if I am a finance person because so many have called for him.  Assuring her I am not, I ask if she is voting for Biden.  She tells me, He’ll raise taxes, I don’t trust him, I’m voting for the other one.  I thank her for her time.

The ones that say that they are voting for Biden, I respond, Good luck to us all next Tuesday.  Usually, that is met with a knowing laugh. 

Worth it?  Yeah.  Since I think this is the most important election of my lifetime (72 years!), I need to do more than just give money to candidates and call local York officials about keeping the polls open in the evening and on weekend.

Effective?  Not sure.  I don’t engage much, but I do get possibly useful information about these voters and help update the Democrat’s phone bank. Fact is, like my learning to hit an effective third shot in pickleball, I believe I’ll get better with more reps.

Second best thing?  I have an experience that was blog-worthy.

Molly on the first day of school 2020 with our grandson Owen

Best thing?  Molly.  Seeing her involved in the political process for her family and for us all, I am pleased that she got me to step up.  Like summer weekday morning golf at the Amesbury Country Club and breakfast outdoors at the Morning Buzz after, I get to virtually hang out with her in these strange times of the Pandemic of 2020.

Dan and Hannah and What is Going On Here!

Similar to our suet cage

A week ago an animal has ripped our suet bird feeder cage off its metal shepherd’s hook and feasted on the suet thirty feet away. Unable to find the suet cage, I eventually found it while mulching the yellow beech leaves of our front yard with our mower. I thought raccoon. Hannah thought bear.

The suet cage after meeting up with our mower 30′ from where it hung on the one remaining standing shepherd’s staff

Then this Monday morning (October 26, 2020), we wake to mayhem. Let the 60 second video do the talking! (Click on the picture below if the white triangle in the center of the picture does not show up.)

We have seen one moose on our property in the 38 years that we have lived on Chases Pond Road in York, Maine. We have never seen a bear.

Help us unravel this mystery by commenting in the space below.

A knowledgeable friend thought Possibly if the pole is not just knocked over but actually bent it was a bear. My feeder at camp which is 12 feet off the ground suspended on a telephone pole was on the ground busted. I fixed it and put it back up. This weekend I found evidence that told me the culprit, a black bear.

Dan Takes a Small Step to Reach Across the Aisle

Somehow mail-in balloting works here in Maine! Go figure. Once my 2020 election ballot was mailed, I then placed it safely in the green mailbox outside the York Town Hall. Hannah and I are playing our part to elect a new president for 2021. 

When you drive by our place, you will see a We Believe sign promoting that Black Lives Matter, No Human is Illegal, and Science is Real

We have another sign supporting our friend Patty Hymanson, our state rep in her re-election bid for the Maine House.

Our neighbors across the street have the signs supporting the current president and others in his party.  These are good folks; they are the first to come to the aid of their neighbors, especially Hannah and Dan. 

It turns out their son Johnny is running for the same state rep position as our friend Patty.

And after thinking about it, a few days ago I sent this text to Johnny’s dad, our neighbor whom we’ve known for thirty years.

I have been meaning to text how impressive it is that Johnny is in the District 4 race.  As Teddy Roosevelt said, your son got into the “arena” and took a stand.  He walked the walk.  As parents you have done a heckuva job.  Congrats to you all.

Dad responded, Thank you so much.  I value your words. 

It’s a small step forward. 

Here is an excerpt from the preface of Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly quoting Teddy Roosevelt’s speech, often referred to as “The Man in the Arena” speech, delivered at the Sorbonne in 1910.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points our how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again…

Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Dan and His Loss – KGUA radio #23

For the October 19, 2020 KGUA radio Monday Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to free write about a loss we have experienced since the pandemic rocked our worlds in March 2020.   

My temporary loss

Here in our small town on the coast of Maine, I don’t know anyone who has got the coronavirus or died from it.  There have certainly been cases and deaths in Maine, but Covid-19 hasn’t touched me directly.

What has touched me, literally, is the lack of hugging in my life.  Though shy and reluctant to hug as a young adult, I now embrace hugging.  You see what I did there! 

Anyway, our sister-in-law Becky taught us how to really hug.  She gives full body squeezes every time we meet.  Her hugs aren’t just some perfunctory, obligatory double pats on the back.  They are real.

I’ve tried elbow bumps, which are laughable.  Fist bumps are fine for the guys and our grandsons but not many others.

Since Hannah and I are connected to Unity of Santa Barbara with its Buddhist tendencies, I began placing my hands together in front of my chest and saying “Namaste.”

That worked for a while until I read of someone patting their heart twice while making eye contact with another. 

You are in my heart.  That feels about right until my hugging days return.

Words – 187

Dan and Hannah – the Pandemic Update (October 2020)

Into our seventh month of the pandemic, there’s no Covid here on Chases Pond Road. We try to be R&R it (by that I mean, being reasonable and responsible) and so far so good. We have had a few things going for us – each other, retired, ample resources, white, and good health.  As in our pre-Covid days, we continue to make social connection our North Star.  

You like to think you are reasonable and responsible, Dan, what about playing pickleball with others and going to the gym? Please. Settle down. We are choosy with whom we play pickleball, finding people who believe in science, masks, and socially distancing in their daily lives beyond the courts.

Hannah with our friend Fran

We’ve adopted the pod system of play to limit our exposure:  Often it’s Norm and Paula on Tuesdays, Genny and Alan on Wednesdays, and Steve and Fran on Thursdays.  That’s pretty much it.

Faithful readers of this blog know Hannah and I have been going to the gym since late June three to four times per week.  Now in mid-October, we still find it safe.  Why? (1) our temperatures are checked every time we enter the building, (2) everyone wears masks. (3) few people have returned to our spacious gym, (4) heavy plastic shields protect the exercise machines that we use, and (5) 70-80% fresh air is being pumped into the gym through the HVAC system per CDC guidelines.

Hannah at Coastal Fitness

Further, though we love our breakfasts out, we have limited our early morning eggs over easy and homefries to the occasional Morning Buzz in Amesbury, MA with its outdoor picnic tables; we do drive-bys at McDonalds for sausage biscuits without the sausage.

We do have friends to our front deck in twos and threes.  Again, ones who believe in science, etc. 

This summer we’ve had the outdoors for walking the beaches in York as well as beach time with our grandsons, Owen and Max.

Owen and Max at the York Harbor Beach

Bicycling, with its built in socially distancing, has taken us to our country roads.

Now that the beech leaves have fallen and the oak leaves are soon to follow, what plans do we have for the coming indoor season?

We won’t play pickleball indoors until there is a vaccine.  Restaurants and breakfast joints are out. We’ll continue to get take-out. We’ll have friends over at a social distance in ones, twos, and threes.  No parties.

Winter bicycling on our roads is not my idea of a good time.  Fact is, it’s my idea of a bad time. We’ll bundle up and walk outdoors come November and December. Then fly to California this winter for outdoor living on the Central Coast.

We’ll go early mornings to the gym as long as it seems safe (i.e. that there aren’t large crowds).  I’ll continue playing ping pong inside with my buddy George as I have since the spring.

We’ll remain big into masks and social distancing. We’ll go to stores that enforce our Maine state mandate to wear masks.

The good doctor Fauci

We’ll get the double dose seniors flu shot and get a Covid vaccine as soon as Dr. Fauci says they are safe. We are not buying what the politician is selling.

Have we been fortunate not getting Covid-19?  Sure, but we give ourselves the best shot by being reasonably reasonable and responsibly responsible. 

We look forward to what the future holds with a new president.

Dan has some Encouragement for you – KGUA radio #22

For the October 12, 2020 KGUA radio Monday Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to free write words of encouragement in these challenging times.   

Dan and the Stoics

The Stoics of Ancient Rome need better PR.  Their philosophy is mistakenly thought to be about being impassive and unemotional.  That couldn’t be further fron the truth.  The Stoics are our guys to comfort and support us with practical suggestions on living well.

I’m no Stoic scholar, but my understanding is that the Stoics’ philosophy includes two key points for our lives.  One, focus on what you can control, not what you can’t.  Two, how you look at a situation is the key to happiness and satisfaction.

Ergo, you can control your response to a situation like a loss of a relationship or not reaching a goal you have set.  You can look at a new situation as an opportunity not an obstacle.

So, today, I have some 2020 Stoic philosophy for your comfort and support. 

I don’t have to do something, I get to do it

I don’t have to be bummed about the restrictions in my life because of Covid-19; I get to see them as challenges to deal with. The obstacle is the way.

These restrictions are going to be with us for a while.  How we deal with them can make all the difference.

That simple idea turned my life 180 degrees to the good.

Words – 210

Another variation on the theme

Dan and His Oatmeal – KGUA radio #21

For the October 5, 2020 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to free write about a go-to comfort food or a favorite dish.   


Let’s start from the beginning.  Hannah and I buy organic rolled oats in fifty pound bags from the Rising Tide health food store in Kittery, Maine.  Stored in a plastic Rubbermaid garbage container, the oatmeal is our staple for breakfast every morning at home and whenever we come to California.

Doesn’t oatmeal just seem like it’s so healthy for you?  Yes!! Oatmeal is the one “dish” that I can make.  You see, in our 48 years of marriage, Hannah has always been our cook, chef, meal-preparer.  In fact, I don’t even grill. I’m not proud of that.  I’ll have to earn my macho man card some other way.  On the other hand, I am the chief dishwasher.  That’s got to count for something.

Check out the mugs

My routine of oatmeal prep never varies.  I take the pan down from the kitchen beam above my head.  Since I make a heaping bowl, I start with nearly two cups of water for 2/3 of a cup of rolled oats.

And then the excitement begins.  A spoon full of blueberries followed by a handful of raisins. 

Next it’s the nuts: almonds and walnuts.

Les ingredientes (from the center top going clockwise – raisins, almonds, protein powder, sunflower seeds, walnuts, blueberries, flax, and chia seeds)

Can’t forget the seeds: chia, sunflower, and flax.

The thrill builds with protein powder and all topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

As John Denver sings, it’s almost heaven, West Virginia. 

Words – 220

Dan and Hannah and the Yard Signs of 2020

In yards in our neighborhood, signs are appearing on front lawns and weirdly in trees for the current president.  At about a five to one ratio, we being the one, the signs favor the current occupant of the White House and dominate the yard-scape here on Chases Pond Road.

Having lived in this neighborhood for nearly 40 years, we are friendly with our neighbors but not really close.  It seems like a typical 21st century neighborhood that for the most part keeps to themselves and live lives with their circle of friends and family. 

A week ago, a friend of the family, State Rep Patty Hymanson, stops by and asks us to put up a sign supporting her re-election to the Maine Legislature. Our Chases Pond Road is an active country road that leads into town or south onto I-95 to New Hampshire and Boston.  Within the hour, we replace our Dalai Lama sign with hers. 

Then a few days later, on our weekly visit to our daughter Molly’s place, she gives us a We Believe sign.

For some context, in March as the pandemic was in its infancy, Hannah and I gave each of our kids $200 to support their immediate needs as well donate some of the money to a cause they believe in. 

Our daughter’s family surprises us by donating all the money we gave them. While our grandsons Max set up a neighborhood ice cream get-together and Owen donated money to the local food pantry, Tip supported Black Lives Matter in Boston and Molly contributed to Bail Bonds, fighting against the reality that what kind of trial folks get depends on the amount of money they have.   Further, this summer they took their sons to Black Lives Matter rallies in their hometown supporting social justice and peace.

By the next morning, we place the We Believe sign in our front yard.

As is our nature, Hannah and I can seem “nice” and self-effacing, legitimately shy and introverted.  Characteristics that others can mistakenly take as wishy-washy and lacking substance.  We want our yard signs to send a different message.

We are Obama blue in a neighborhood of red upon red.  Dan, what about dialogue with your neighbors?  Rather than debating, it seems reasonable to have conversations to learn about the other’s point of view.  That is a valid point. But for the next thirty-one days, I’d rather spend my time supporting my candidates than learning about their support of the current chief executive. 

A bigger man might spend the time seeking out the other side before November 3, but I guess I am just not that bigger man.  And anyway, there is no way on God’s Good Green Earth that I would vote for the Republican nominee for president. 

For the time being our signs will identify where we stand and where they stand; and that will create a mini-wall between us.  But come November, the signs will come down and we will invite our neighbors to bring a frog to our roadside Frog Wall, and perhaps some non-political conversation and connection. 

We can all be a part of Frog Nation. And so can you!