Dan and the Pandemic One Year Ago – KGUA radio #41

For the March 22, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to free write about the day we learned of the Covid-19 pandemic last March. 

The First Time the Pandemic got Real

Something felt different as Hannah and I settled into our Jet Blue flight from Los Angeles to Boston on March 4, 2020.  Surprisingly, this popular non-stop coast-to-coast flight was only 85% full; and for the first time, I saw four or five people wearing masks.  I didn’t think much of it; maybe this pandemic is just all hype and will have little more effect than the seasonal flu.

Eight days later, having bought tickets for the Banff Film Festival at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire months ago, Hannah and I still felt reasonably safe, though packed tightly, with 600 others for these short indie films.    

Coming home that Thursday night, I paused and wondered about our upcoming trip to the national parks of Utah with our daughter Molly’s family just five weeks away.  I’m still feeling hopeful. 

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

The next morning, I was taken aback by the news that Molly’s Lexington, Mass school district was shutting down for two weeks.  Maybe I had underestimated the pandemic’s reach and intensity. 

Over the weekend on a FaceTime call, Molly figuratively grabbed us by the lapels and said it’s time for you two to take this seriously.  By that she meant, stop going to the gym, which we reluctantly did.

Within days, we postponed our family trip to the Arches and Bryce Canyon National Parks.  I had no idea that it would be two years (2022) before we’d all be ready to go again.

Words – 237

Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week – #17 – Personal Freedom

Mindfulness provides incredible freedom, because it means we don’t have to believe every passing thought or emotion as real and true. Rather, we can see the different thoughts and emotions arise and pass away, and we can decide which are worthy of paying attention to and which are not.

Kristin Neff, PhD, the author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

I often try out books by getting them from our public library, as I did with this one. Within days, I knew this was one to buy. Her quote continues.

We can question the accuracy of our perceptions and ask if our thoughts and emotions need to be taken quite seriously. The real treasure offered by mindfulness – it’s amazing gift – is that mindfulness provides us with the opportunity to respond rather than simply react.

Mind-blowing – DR

Dan and Doing What Scares Him – KGUA radio free write #39

For the March 8, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to free write based on an article in Outside magazine about Doing the Thing That Scares You The Most. 

Certainly, I have a fear of small planes and helicopters. Who wouldn’t?  It’s the crashing that scares me.

Bears.  Something about being pawed and clawed to death by Smoky the Bear just doesn’t sit right with me.

Growling, unleashed dogs scare me too.  Bite me once, shame on you.  Bite me twice, shame on me.

Traveling outside of the US and Canada is not on my to-do list.  I read just enough to be scared.

Hannah surveys the climb ahead

Confrontation?  Lord no.  Dealing with the aggressive and loud leaves me looking for the nearest exit.

But what I am most scared of is climbing Angel’s Landing with our young grandsons, Owen and Max.

Do you know about this hike in Zion National Park in southern Utah?  To reach the perch at Angel’s Landing, over the last half mile, hikers must hold on to thick, mountainside chains with the valley floor fifteen hundred feet below.  After twice backing down from summiting Angel’s Landing, six years ago Hannah and I hung on for dear life as we slowly made our way to the tiny landing area.

But take Owen and Max?  No way.  That responsibility scares me. 

Now here’s a compromise.  What if I would be their Sherpa to guide the boys and their parents (who have already successfully made this climb) along to the mountaintop.   Ultimate responsibility would fall on their parents.   Oooo, that’s an unfortunate verb. Still, that sounds like a plan.  Zion National Park, here we come.

Words – 233

Images of our climbs to Angel’s Landing (2015 & 2016)

The trail begins to Angel’s Landing
The easy part

First encounter with the chains

Chains up close and personal
The Holy Grail
Atop looking down the Virgin River Valley
Proof that we made it


Don’t look down!

Holding on tight

Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week – #16 You are Somebody

I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that, and then I realized I am somebody.

Lily Tomlin (Her first and middle names are Mary Jean.)

Heard on Steven Leavitt’s podcast, People I Mostly Admire, when interviewing Marina Nitze. He of Freakonomics fame. She with some amazing information on the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes. Listen here about this amazing woman.

Dan and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Perhaps, you remember The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly film (1966) with Clint Eastwood (By the way, the year Hannah and I graduated from high school). Sent to me by a valued reader, the clip unlocks the origin of the wa-wa’s, the whistling, and the unexpected wind instruments. Mesmerizing is the first two minutes from the Danish National Symphony.

Dan and Hannah Pay It Forward – Pandemic Style – KGUA #40

Winter evening in York

Funny how paying it forward works.  Let me explain.

The best gift, bar none, Hannah and I ever received as parents was when someone would take our young kids so we could get away for some “us” time.  League leaders in this category were my mom and dad.  Regularly, they would settle into our house in York, Maine with Molly, Robyn, and Will while Hannah and I would take two nights going up the coast to Camden.

Circa 1945 My mom and dad in the Pacific during WWII

With the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic, Hannah and I have a chance to pay it forward with our daughter Molly’s family.  Our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6), have been remote schooling and hanging with their parents going on 12 months. 

Now that Hannah and I are two weeks past our second Pfizer vaccine for Covid, we are set to have the boys for our famous 24 Hours of Owen and Max.  Molly and her hubby Tip get to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

The first weekend in March is still winter in Maine.  Highs this Saturday are in the upper 20s; though the sunshine adds a few degrees, the wind takes away a few more.

The Home Depot Kids’ Workshop has been cancelled, the York Public Library is not an option.  Basically it’s the great outdoors.

Taking the boys to the mailbox, Hannah turns toward the icy pond in our front yard.  The boys have their plastic sleds and we all have struck outdoor gold.

After an early lunch, we pile into our Prius for George Derby’s place on the Atlantic where we hunt for sea glass, explore the rocky coastline, and get nicely surprised by George just returning from clamming. 

Sea glass hunting
With Owen, George is just back from clamming with a peck of clams, which is about 15 pounds of clams
Owen with the clam fork

Just north of George’s place is the Fort McClary State Park for further exploring and a short trail hike.

A wintry 28F on the coast of Maine at Fort McClary State Park
Cannons that protected the Maine coast in days gone by
Owen, Max, and their Omi at Fort McClary

After three hours outside, we all return to our Chases Pond Road place.  The boys settled in with a Netflix movie, Bigfoot Family, while I go to the York House of Pizza for dinner.  Then Hannah and I have a glass of wine to toast our extended family.

After their large pepperoni pizza and our mushroom, we play cards, Sevens and Sh-theed.  Bedtime by 730P leaves us all ready for a good night’s sleep.

Next morning, Hannah makes omelets-to-order.  Max choses cheese while and Owen opts for onion.

Twenty fours after I picked up the boys, I return them to their pop.

It was one of the best 24 hours of the entire winter!  As you can see, paying it forward has multiple winners!

Max and his cheesy omelet
Owen digs onions in his omelet

By the way, when asked to rate Bigfoot Family from one to ten (ten being high), no surprise that the children of a math educator (their mom Molly) would rate the movie a 9.7 (Owen) and 9.9 (Max).

Dan Shares a Most Unique Thing – KGUA radio free write #38

For the March 1, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to Share the most unique thing about ourselves!

Stunned, as were all of my classmates, I couldn’t believe the news, as we sat in Dave Pooley’s tenth grade biology class at Fair Lawn High School.

You see, I was a paperboy for the Bergen Record in northern New Jersey.  At the time, many newspapers were delivered in the afternoon by teenagers on their bicycles.  I’d pick up my thirty papers near Plaza Stationary in the center of Radburn, divide them into my two back wheel baskets, and deliver them to the houses in our neighborhood.  It was good money.

At the time, the Bergen Record cost $0.33 for six days of home delivery.  I made $0.12 per week for every customer. And then there were the tips! When someone gave me $0.40 for the week I was pumped.  Joy had no bounds when someone gave me $0.50.

On this specific day, the papers were late.  I sat on the curb in silence unable to make sense out of what had just happened.  My little world was jumbled and shaken. The newspapers were always here by three.  At 430P, still nothing.  It was getting dark when they arrived. 

It didn’t make sense to my idealistic young mind.  He was such a great man, doing important things, a unique politician for those coming of age in 1963.  And then he was gone.

You see, unique about me is that on that Friday in November, the 22nd to be exact, I was the one spreading the news from Bolton Place up Owen Avenue that President John Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.

Words – 239