Dan Has A Pearl of Wisdom for His Grandchildren – KGUA #59

For the August 30, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite on What pearl of wisdom do you have for us?

Front row from left to right – Owen (9), Max (7), Brooks (3) Back row – Charlotte (1) and her identical twin sister Reese (1) or Reese and Charlotte

My pearl is for our grandchildren, Owen, Max, Brooks, Reese, and Charlotte,

It comes from Davy Crockett, the King of the Wild Frontier.

I’ll begin with a truth about your parents that you might not know. 

I’ve seen your parents in action.  They’re good, I mean really good.  They are involved parents and love being your mom and dad.  Truth be told, they are exhausted by nightfall.  But it’s a good exhausted!

They are doing what they can so others will want to be around you. They want you to be thoughtful, confident without being arrogant; that you also listen and think of others.  They want to instill in you a passion for life and being responsible stewards of our planet. 

Notice I said nothing about your grades or your SAT scores.  Rather, they encourage you to ask questions and regularly they validate your feelings.  I told you they are good.

Fess Parker, the Davy Crockett of my youth

They are pretty cool, but they don’t get it right all the time.  Who does?  Certainly not your grandparents.  You’ll disagree with them on a regular basis.  But cut them some slack; bless their hearts, they are knocking themselves out for you.

Here’s a biggie.  They don’t expect or want you to be perfect.  They aren’t.  They get that messing up is part of being a kid; fact is, it’s also a part of being an adult.  They want you to learn to own your mistakes not make excuses.  A sincere “I’m sorry” goes along way.  Take your lumps and the consequences without whining.  Despite how much fun a good whine can be.

So, no need to be perfect; swing for the fences and know that truth of Davy Crockett’s words – Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you.    

Words – 257

Dan and Hannah Hike Our American Southwest – Sedona, Arizona (May 2010 Archives #3)

Is there a prettier name for a town than Sedona?  I think not.  As Arizona residents at the time of the birth of our first child Molly, Hannah and I never seriously considered Sedona for her first name.  Did we drop the ball?  I think not. Molly is a beautiful name.

Driving to Sedona today, I wonder if we did.   Like Montana and Dakota, Sedona suggests a strong individual, an unbridled spirit, the West personified.  Who wouldn’t want such a daughter?   Informed later of our musings, Molly said thank you, thank you for not naming me Sedona.  Another bit of unintended karma along our parenting trail.

Through the heavily forested Oak Creek Canyon, we meander down two lane route 89A to Sedona, just an hour’s drive south from Flagstaff.  Passing two of the more popular shorter hikes in the area, one at the West Fork Oak Creek Trail and the other at Slide Rock State Park, we take the rotary just south of town heading down Showalter Road to the parking area for the Mund’s Wagon hike.  Paying five dollars by credit card to park, we love supporting America’s state parks.

Beginning late morning, we head out under blue skies with very little shade.  Following brilliant red sandstone cairns (stacked rocks, in this instance encased in wire mesh cylinders), our trail is nicely marked and easy to follow.  A well-marked trail with other hikers allows me to relax and enjoy myself, unconcerned about getting lost.  Wondering if one is on the trail or not can ruin the best of hikes.

After talking with a returning, agreeable twenty-something hiker, we politely decline his offer of multi-grain energy bars.  It doesn’t take us ten seconds to realize that we just blew it in a big way! We broke the Third Commandment of the Trail – Accept offers of food and water appreciatively.   We hikers are one, inseparable.   We need to do all we can to support and honor each other.

Crossing the dry riverbed repeatedly, we find the modest elevation gain easy to handle.  Ninety minutes later we arrive at a beautiful outcropping at Merry-Go-Round Rock with panoramic views of Bear Wallow Canyon River Valley.  

In stones, Will you marry me? greet us from a Romeo to his Juliet or perhaps a Juliet to her Romeo or even a Thelma to her Louise or… Ah, the mysteries of the trail.  Heading back to the trailhead, we find pools of cool water to soothe our boot weary feet.  

Resting on a rock, I think of the wanderlust legacy bestowed on me by my own Mom and Dad.  Forty-five years ago, they took their three East Coast kids West in a woody station wagon, where I learned that the wilderness world beyond New Jersey was not such a dangerous place; my adventurous spirit was born.

Thank you, Mom and Dad.

Dan’s Wednesday Quotes of the Week #39 – The Stepping Off Place

It felt strange to have no filter on my words, to think and speak at the same time. I noticed how light the words were leaving my mouth.

I worked to keep up the retaining wall holding back all I didn’t say.

Drama is a funny thing, though. When you’re by yourself, lying facedown in the grass, drooling a little on yourself while you try to figure out how this horrible, horrible thing could have possibly happened, it isn’t dramatic. But as soon as you add a witness, it becomes absurdly dramatic. I guess the audience makes the difference.

The Stepping Off Place by Cameron Kelly Rosenblum

This is Cam’s debut young adult novel. The horrible, horrible thing in the above quote is about suicide, in this case teen suicide. She deals with the subject with compassion, understanding, and ultimately with hope.

Readers of this blog may recognize her last name as that of my teaching, hiking buddy Paul Rosenblum, who would come to my University of New England teacher education class to share his passion for the teaching life.

Dan and What His World Looks Like – KGUA #58

For the August 23, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite on What Does My World Look Like? (today? tomorrow? right now? in the future?)

For me, it all depends on the day.

Catch me on an August Sunday, my world looks beautiful.  Every two weeks at dawn on the course in Amesbury, Mass, I golf nine holes with our daughter Molly.  We don’t keep score and do hit extra balls when our first shots are not satisfactory.  We always follow up with eggs, homefries, multi-grain toast, and coffee at the Morning Buzz.

Catch me on a Monday, well my world is beautiful, too.  It’s a ping pong day with my buddy George.  Playing weekly for ten years, he wins some, I win some.  Supporting each other’s good shots with Wows and Whoas, we have a beer after our sweat-filled ninety minutes whacking the little white ball.

Fran and Hannah

Catch me on an early summer Wednesday, check off beautiful again.  Hannah and I ride bikes on our quiet country coastal roads at dawn to avoid the tourist traffic.  Riding side-by-side, we talk and then go single file when the occasional car passes by.  And all of a sudden, we are pulling into our driveway fourteen miles later.

Catch me on a Thursday, my world remains bee-you-tee-full.  Pickleballing with our friends, Fran and Steve, we have partners rather than opponents who don’t take themselves too seriously.  It’s just fun, then we all retire to our front deck for mid-day brewskis and buttery, store-bought popcorn.

My life is not always beautiful, but beautiful is what I remember about this past week. 

Dan and Hannah Hike Our American Southwest – Grand Canyon North Rim (May 2010 Archives)

Snowing in late May!  Yes, snow falls in late May in the highlands of northern Arizona.  Two years ago while hiking at the North Rim in pants and sweatshirts in late spring, Hannah and I were under the threat of snow throughout the afternoon.   After hiking, we drove cautiously north to Kanab, UT in a snowstorm that New Englanders would be proud to call their own.  

Today (2010) 60 degrees welcomes us to the North Rim on this Memorial Day.  Before we hike on this Memorial Day we call our daughter Robyn (veteran of the War in Afghanistan) and my parents (World War II) to thank them for their service to our country.

In 1992, Hannah and I took our three kids (Molly [12], Robyn [10], and Will [8]) to hike on the North Kaibab Trail, two miles into the Grand Canyon here at the North Rim. Unbeknownst to us at the time, Will was suffering from an ear infection. Later that night, after driving 350 miles to Phoenix, he got the anti-biotics he needed to reduce the pain.

The North Rim is out of the way, in a big way.  From Flagstaff, we drive five hours north on lonely roads from central Arizona by way of Route 89 through the Navajo Reservation, over the Colorado River south of Page, AZ, and through the Kaibab Plateau.  We purchase turquoise jewelry from the First Americans at a roadside stand.

National Geographic meadows and Smithsonian forests open up as we drive south.  Proudly flashing, our Seniors Pass, available to all those 62 and older for ten greenbacks, we now get into all National Parks without ever paying another dime.  (Nota bene – In 2021 such a pass is $85.)  Due to heavy winter snows, the North Rim doesn’t open till mid-May. 

In the early afternoon at the North Rim, we leave behind the heat of the desert and take to the five-mile roundtrip, clearly marked Uncle Jim Trail on the rim of the Canyon.  Through a forest of dappled sunlight the trail meanders gently to a Canyon overlook.  A few hikers pass us by on this loop trail that is easy on the feet.

Uncle Jim Trail on the rim at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Surprisingly, many areas of the forest are burned.  The rangers say the use of controlled burns minimizes major forest fires, which maintains the high plateau ecosystem.  To complete our three hours of hiking we take to the level, easy-to-negotiate hikes of the Bridal and Transept Trails near the Bright Angel Lodge.  With many views of the canyon, the hikes are leisurely, well-marked, and satisfying.  

Bridal Trail at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

By the way, after we drive 80 miles north to Kanab, Utah for the night.  Kanab has wide streets and a lazy feel, something out of American Graffiti.  We sit by the pool, toast the evening, and watch the cars roll by as the sun sets.  To our right is a patrol car parked by the side of the road to slow down incoming out-of-towners.  Once we examine it more closely, we realize there is a dummy in the front seat.  We smile in admiration. 

Dan and My Great Expectations – KGUA #57

For the August 16, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite on What are my Great Expectations for the coming year?

First, let me get this off my chest.  As a 9th grader at Thomas Jefferson Junior High School in Fair Lawn, New Jersey in 1963, my classmates and I were assigned the reading (by that I mean torture) of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.  That and other classics sent me down a road of disliking, nay loathing, to read, and only reading enough to pass the test.

I was a study, test, and forget guy.  Only after college did I learn the joy of reading.  Why you ask?  I got to choose what I wanted to read.  What a concept!  Choice is fundamental to learning to read, and more important, learning to love to read.  Our grandson Owen is proving the wisdom of that strategy.

Whoa, that was a hundred word digression when I only have 250 words total to play with this morning for KGUA.  Let’s get back on track.

My great expectations, well you know, I don’t live in the world of specific expectations.  Sure, I expect the good.  But the good can come in many forms, especially in ways I have no way of knowing.

I remain open to finding the good in whatever happens.  So here are some likes/hopes, not expectations.

I’d like the vast majority of Americans to get vaccinated so we all are safer.

I’d like continued good health for my family, my friends, the KGUA family, and, sure, myself.

I’d like there to be 2%, just 2%, less division in our country.  I’d like the trend of our discourse to be more listening and less debating.

Let’s call it a day.  Expectations they are not, but to quote John Lennon, I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one.

Words – 276

Dan’s Wearing a Mask Again (August 2021)

Though fully vaccinated since February 2021, this morning I wore my cloth mask into our gym, Coastal Fitness, in Kittery due to the emergence of the Delta variant.  I didn’t see any other masks among the seniors or the young dudes lifting weights.  I wore one into the Nike Outlet store when I was buying new athletic shoes for pickleball; a few others were wearing masks, including all the sales staff.  Even for fifteen seconds, I slip on my mask to pick up take-out chicken burritos from Loco Coco’s Tacos. 

There is no mandate to wear a mask indoors in Maine as of August 13, 2021.  As it turns out, Mainers are getting the message being second in the country having 97.7% fully vaccinated adults 65 and over.  (Vermont blows everyone out of the water at 99.6%!!  You go Green Mountaineers!) 

Maine is second for adults eighteen and over that are fully vaccinated at 68.8% while Vermont crushes it at 70.3%.

Let me say that I don’t wear a mask outdoors playing pickleball, biking on our country roads, walking on the Maine shoreline, nor when friends are over on our front deck.  I don’t wear it at our gym when I am stepping on the elliptical nor pedaling on the recumbent.

So why do I wear a mask indoors when I don’t have t? 

I just want the people I come in contact with to have a better chance of not getting Covid.  As a vaccinated Mainer, I know I could be asymptomatic and pass the virus to another.  If I do pass it on to a vaccinated one, it’s unlikely they will have any more than mild cold symptoms.

If I do pass the virus on to an unvaccinated one, I’m sorry, so be it.  They chose not to get vaccinated when there are vaccines for everyone!  By wearing a mask, I am looking out for the greater good and the unvaccinated as well, who are the reason I am wearing a mask at all.

Wearing a mask is my small rock thrown in the pond rippling good health for us all.

Dan and Where He Gets His Strength – KGUA #56

Mt Major in New Hampshire with Lake Winnipesaukee in the background circa 2021

For the August 9, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite on Where we get our strength?

To say that my wife of 49 years, Hannah Banana, is the source of my strength seems so cliché, so trite, so “of course you are going to say that.” But my dears, it’s true blue through and through.

In the late 1960s at the College of Wooster in Ohio, she saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself, something worth pursuing and learning more about.  As for me, I saw a personable, so much fun, and very good looking, athletic young woman.

Looking back, we were two insecure kids who fortunately matured at a similar pace (we met at 19 and married at 24 with a few breaks along the way).  We were two rough pieces of coal that with tender care could become, dare I say, even diamonds.

Taughannock Falls in New York circa 2020

Growing up with two highly visible fathers who loomed over of their communities (hers the family doctor for the entire village in upstate New York and mine the high school principal right in town in north Jersey), we knew that to spread our wings, in fact to learn that we had wings at all, we had to get away.  In fact, 2500 miles away to Arizona turned out to be just the landing spot in our search for the monarch butterflies we could be.

Through the years, we leaned on each other as we grew individually and together – when her brother Doug died in his mid-fifties of brain cancer, when I wondered if teaching was really a lifetime career for me.

Arm in arm, we’ve become a pretty good team.

Words – 260