For the December 27, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite to this prompt: RISK! What does this mean to you?
Do any of you feel that the risks you have taken are the best things you have ever done in your life and did those risks occur when you were at the lowest of your lows?
For me, it is a yes and a sometimes.
As a kid and into my early twenties I was aimlessly wallowing, sadly swallowing the company line and being the good boy.
Then with everything falling apart around me at the College of Wooster in Ohio (by that I mean girlfriend issues), I took the risk to transfer to Arizona State University. Crushed it! Life was trending up thanks to a new start.
Within the year Uncle Sam wanted me to fight in Viet Nam. I took the risk to say no. It was a long drawn out struggle but the universe agreed with me. But first, I had to let the universe know what I wanted.
Ten years into our marriage, Hannah and I took the risk to follow our dreams of raising a family in New England and leave the Phoenix metro area. I had no job, had never lived east of the Hudson River, and we had two daughters under three in tow. And we did all this in January. Forty years later we are living the dream in small town New England.
Never quite finding my footing as a public school teacher, I quit in my late forties and took the risk of following another dream of teaching at the university level. Three years later the good folks at Eastern Connecticut State University confirmed that I was worth the risk.
Hannah and I are again big winners in 2021. Our three kids, Will, Robyn, and Molly continue to delight. Molly’s hubby Tip and Will’s wife Laurel shine. Our five grandkids, Reese, Charlotte, Brooks, Max, and Owen add light to our lives. We all got together at Will’s home in Ithaca, New York this past Thanksgiving.
My mom made Christmas stockings for all three of our kids. Mom (1921-2014) had a great run (92 years!) and we all are better for having known her and been encouraged by her.
This Christmas season our daughter Robyn, visiting will from New York, and I continued our holiday tradition of going to a movie, this time fully-masked. We were blown away with how terrific the Spielberg remake of West Side Story was. I loved the original (1961), but this one was just as fantastic. Later in the week, Hannah will continue another tradition with Robyn – mother/daughter going out for Chinese food.
If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.
I wear hard contact lens. I have forever, well, since the summer of 1969 just before I transferred to Arizona State University from the College of Wooster in Ohio. I thought it would help me with the chicks. By the way, it didn’t.
Nearing birthday 74, lately I have noticed that the vision in my right eye has been blurry for the first two to four hours of the day. And then things clear up. This has been going on for some six weeks.
Finally fed up, I make an appointment this Friday past with the lens tech at Kittery Eye on the Route One Bypass in, well, Kittery.
Punctual to a fault, I arrive early for my 9 AM appointment. Taken on time, I explain the situation to Judy, the lens tech. First thing, I am pleased to see is that she takes my disreputable lens case (and by that I mean not the cleanest thing) and offers me a new one.
Removing my contacts, I am delighted that her look suggests that “I’ve got this.” She says, Let me clean them. In five minutes, she comes back and says encouragingly, I found a large deposit of proteins on the center of your right lens that I am working to remove. I’m thrilled.
Keeping me updated, she returns, ever upbeat, with news that in trying to remove the protein deposit it has spread out over my lens, but she’ll keep working on it.
A few minutes after that she returns and smiles in triumph that she has removed the protein deposit. She then hands me another new lens case, a new bottle of cleaning/soaking solution as well as the recommendation to purchase a solution online that will deep clean my lens to reduce the protein build up. One helluva trifecta.
As I come out of the cleaning session with Judy, I am on top of the world. You know the feeling when you are dealing with someone who makes you feel special. I pass the two receptionists and ask, Is your supervisor around? Immediately, their smiles sag, worried looks cross their faces. This is usually not a question that ends well. She is in the back, one responds.
Seeing their expressions, I then say, Tell you what. I don’t need to see her, but would you tell her that Judy, the lens tech, was fabulous. She made my day.
They stop hyperventilating and smile back.
So, why do so many of us expect the worst with that question (Is your supervisor around?) or some variation of that?
I get it that most times when people want to see the supervisor it is because of a problemo, often a big one. Who takes the time to complement another for a job well done when bitching about others is an artform in modern American society? That’s got to change.
So, how to avoid expecting the worst in such situations? Intentionally workshopping a new response by resisting the impulse to fear the worst; try expecting the good. Of course, that takes a ton of practice to develop such a new habit.
I know that is asking a lot, but in time it just might work.
When I was teaching at the U, and by that I mean the University of New England, I would periodically say to a student, I want to see you after class when I had good news for them. I knew that request was loaded when they didn’t know was up and might quite likely fill them with dread. To allay those fears and not ruin the rest of class for them, I would add, It’s all good.
By the way, when I had to have a challenging conversation with a student, I mentioned that fact to them at the end of class and dealt with them on how I could support them with the issue I had (e.g. being late to class). (Thank you, Denny McLoughlin for that insight to support positive change rather than just point out the problem and dole out consequences.)
I just never know when someone will give voice to my unspoken yearnings. Way back in December 2014, our friend Tree Mercer over coffee at the Roast Crumb in York, Maine gave words to what I knew to be true in my heart and lungs. She said that she and her hubby Scott go to California in the winter in large part because of their desire/need to both be outside and exercise outdoors more than they comfortably can in the cold of coastal Maine.
That’s me to a T! That rhymes with E. Eureka! (That’s rhyming stretch, I know.)
The next day I bought tickets for Hannah and me to fly to California for two weeks in January. A few years later, we spent one winter month in Santa Barbara and then the following January and February in nearby Carpinteria.
Sidelined by Covid from traveling to the Golden State in the winter of 2021 and then whacked on the side of the head by wildfires in September 2021, we look forward to finally returning to California in 2022.
In the meantime we are getting our exercise and fresh air locally, albeit in the frozen tundra of coastal Maine. Here’s how we do that in pictures.
Locally, often on Sunday morning we drive six miles north to take to the beach in Ogunquit and along it’s Marginal Way.
When wanting to walk out our front door, we walk through the woods to Chases Pond.
Even when we travel, as we did over Thanksgiving to Ithaca, New York, we find a trail, specifically the South Hill Trail with our daughter Robyn.
When the temperature hits the upper 40s we bundle up and bike on our country roads.
In town, we take to the Cliff Walk from York Harbor Beach.
Two major trails in town head to the Harbor Beach – Through Steedman Woods and the Fisherman’s Walk.
With snow still not covering the ground we head the fairways of the York Golf and Tennis Club.
Or we drive five miles to the base of Mount Agamenticus to hike the Ring Trail around the mountain.
Fortunately we have had no snow as of Friday, December 17. And then it is all about to change in a big way as nine inches of the white stuff is predicted for later tomorrow! The universe is telling us it’s time to go golden in the Golden State!
Post-script December 19, 2021. We on Chases Pond Road dodged a bullet with just 3″ of rain-soaked snow by morning.
First, what does an British owl say? The answer is at the end of this posting.
This summer of 2021 our friend Steve said your sign could use an upgrade. He was right on. We’d had our Hannah’s Loft sign up since Hannah began her five-year run as a Bed & Breakfast Innkeeper (1987-1991) for the two rooms we have above our garage. That’s 34 years of summer’s sun blasts and winter’s cold, wind, and salt.
In addition to being a solid guy and a key member of our pickleball pod, Steve is an artiste. We couldn’t be happier that he was going to spruce up our sign. Teaming up with our buddy Fran, mechanically inclined and an equally valuable member of our pickleball pod, who handled the hardware, Steve put us in business.
Two weeks later in late August, Steve returns the sign with gold-leaf flourishes around the corners and a sparking new paint job. He does suggest that we remove the sign for the winter to keep it out of the elements. We are just two miles from the briny coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
So that brings us to this past Monday (December 13, 2021) when the afternoon temperature rose to a balmy 42F; a perfect afternoon to take down the sign. Retrieving our eight-foot step ladder from the shed, I climb up as Hannah braces the ladder. It is soon quite apparent that I am just not strong enough to lift the heavy sign off its hinges.
Hannah and I discuss our options. Our son-in-law Tip could do this in his sleep. Unfortunately, he lives an hour away and won’t be in York for two more weeks.
The very next day as I return from walking in town, I think about our neighbor across the street, an affable, always willing-to-help kind of guy. Indeed younger and stronger than I.
I pause and think I will, in an act of friendship, give him the gift of helping me out. You might be thinking he’s helping you out, how is that a gift for him, Danny Boy! Think about it. Most people love helping others. Removing the sign might take two minutes and it would really help this 73-year-old.
So I do. I walk across the street, knock on his door, and ask him if he could help me to take down the sign. He said sure. Bracing him on our step ladder, I see him simply lift the sign off its hinges no problemo, and hand it to me. He is beaming; I am beaming.
Certainly he has given me a gift by helping out when I needed it, but I think my gift to him is just as important – the gift of letting him help. I do appreciate our neighbors who let me help them.
Are you buying my interpretation of gift giving?
And by the way, British owl says, “Whom, Whom.” Thank you, Ted Lasso.
For the December 13, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite to this prompt: What is your special holiday time song?
Let There Be Peace on Earth
Some think Gandhi said, Be The Change You Wish To See in the World. In that same vein in 1955, Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller wrote the song Let There Be Peace on Earth. And that, my friends, is my holiday song for 2021.
There is much to the title of this song, but it is the second line that packs the punch. Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let it Begin with Me! Whoa! It’s up to me to act, not just hope good things happen.
Hannah and I heard Let There Be Peace on Earth on a Vince Gill Christmas Album. Click here to listen to his golden voice singing these golden words with a cameo by his daughter Jenny. Below is the version we sing at Unity of Santa Barbara.
Let there be peace on earth And let it begin with me Let there be peace on earth A peace that was meant to be
With God as Creator Family all are we In love we walk with each other In perfect harmony.
Peace has begun with me And this is the moment now.
With ev’ry step I take Let this be my solemn vow
To take each moment and live Each moment in peace eternally Let there be peace on earth And let it begin with me.
Words – 221
Enjoy Gladys Knight’s cover of Let There Be Peace on Earth.
For the December 6, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite to this prompt: You know that one gift you received that just was a curiosity, not your favorite? One that lived in a back room until the giver came to visit?
As usual, I colored outside of the lines for my response.
My Gift – A Ball
Brenda Bracy and John Stacy came to our house to see our six-year-old daughter Robyn who wasn’t feeling very well. To their question if she had a wish, what would it be, she said to go to Disney World. As founding members of our local Dream Factory, they said that they could make that happen.
We then heard from Kitt McLeod who said she’d like Robyn’s whole family to be in a Disney video filmed in Florida that would be used to raise money for a special Village.
There in the Sunshine State our family met Henry Landwirth who had a vision of a Village where families with really sick kids could, for a few days, forget about their illnesses.
Years later, this past November, in fact, Robyn at the age of 40 returned to central Florida to volunteer at Henry’s Give Kids the World Village.
You see over the last few years Robyn has raised money to sustain the Village by getting donations to support her running in their Gingerbread 5K. She continues to volunteer there when she goes; for example at Noah’s Nook she hands out towels at the pool, serves food, and maintains the fishing gear as well as at Clayton’s Corral where she supports the kids riding horses.
So the gift that Brenda and John gave our family was they got the ball rolling for Robyn. She now pays itforward to help other kids with life-threatening illnesses, similar to the leukemia she had as a child.