Exploring Utah with Owen and Max – KGUA radio #14

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For broadcast on August 10, 2020, KGUA radio (Gualala, California) asks writers to free write about in 200 words or less: What is something in front of you that you want to go after, experience, or explore?  What (who) is behind you stopping you from going forward?

Exploring Utah with Owen and Max

Utah map

Moab is near Arches NP

Our grandsons are six and eight.  Hannah and I had big plans to take Max and his older brother Owen to Utah this past April (2020).  In one week’s time, we’d visit four of Utah’s five national parks – Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon.  The boys are at an age where they can hike the trails and enjoy the high desert world so different from their home in New England.

We had rented a condo in Moab with a pool and would have the good company of their parents, our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip;  he just so happens to have the grilling gene that I was born without.

But out of the blue in March (2020), the coronavirus turned our world and theirs upside down.  There was so much unknown about the exploding pandemic.  So many questions with few palatable answers.  Ergo, we postponed our adventure.

It’s now August.  Time to make plans for April 2021.  But the questions and wonderings remain, answers remain elusive.

Who knows what the world will be like in nine months.  So April 2022 is on the table as a possible year for our adventure.  Hell, they’ll be eight and ten and be able to do even more.

Words – 200

Utah five grandkids

The featured picture has Owen in the red Pi shirt with his brother to his right and his cousins, Brooks in blue and six week old Reese (to Owen’s right) and Charlotte looking on in amazement.

Dan and Hannah Give Blood and Have a Covid Test – the Results

The results from the American Red Cross after Hannah and I gave blood in Kittery, Maine ten days ago (July 24, 2020).

COVID-19 Antibody Test Result*: Negative

AMERICAN RED CROSS LOGO

A negative test result means that you probably have not been exposed to COVID-19 and therefore have not developed antibodies to the virus. It also could indicate that antibodies are present but at levels below the test’s threshold for detection, or that the test did not recognize those antibodies. It is possible that you can still contract the virus, if exposed. It takes one to three weeks after an infection for antibodies to be present.

We both are not surprised.  We take seriously the big three: social distancing, wearing masks around others, and avoid going inside unless we absolutely must (i.e. grocery shopping and very little else).

Thanks to our Governor Janet Mills and the many responsible citizens of Maine, we as a state are doing well to date.  When you consider all the out-of-state visitors to our beaches in southern Maine, it’s surprising how well the Pine Tree State is doing.

Covid map to ogunquit

Last weekend at noon, Hannah and I biked to the main beach in Ogunquit from our home in York.  We rode up and down the massive parking lot and saw two Maine license plates out of seventy.  Clearly, Mainers are staying away from the beaches at crunch time.

Covid pickleball

Hannah and I are able to stay active and are not cloistered.  We do play outdoor pickleball in selected groups of four or five and go masked to our gym surrounded by heavy plastic on three sides (though currently we are on haitus).  We don’t do restaurants, but get chicken burritos take-out at Loco Coco’s in Kittery.  We have a friend or two for social distancing drinks and apps on our front deck.  I play ping pong in a trusted friend’s basement once a week.  We see our grandsons for 24 hours at our home.

All we do is simple enough because of the warm weather.  November is still three months away.  Then we’ll go into Phase Two (for us), whatever that might be.

It’s not rocket science to give ourselves the best shot at being Covid-free.  We are just trying to live the two R’s: being reasonable and responsible.

Dan and Hannah Try to Donate Blood and a Surprise Awaits

While working out early on the elliptical at the Coastal Fitness gym, Hannah gets a call that her noon blood donation appointment is cancelled; an appointment, I might add, that was set up two months ago.  The rep from the American Red Cross leaves a message that they overbooked and he will help her schedule a new appointment.  What!  Overbooked!  Bummed, I jump into action for my lady.

AMERICAN RED CROSS LOGO

Since Hannah’s spasmodic dysphonia makes it difficult to be heard on the phone, I call to found out what the hell! and am ready to cancel my appointment, since we give blood together every eight weeks.  When I get the ARC staffer on the phone who had cancelled Hannah’s appointment, he tells me that one worker called in sick.  Now, that is totally understandable and a good reason to cancel an appointment.  Just tell us the truth.  We can handle the truth (in most cases).

When I mention that my appointment wasn’t cancelled, he seems surprised since he responds that he tries to cancel couples at the same time; he just didn’t notice my name.  Really!  Hannah and I both had 12 noon appointments and we both share the uncommon last name of Rothermel.

Possibly because my tone was insistent, not belligerent or snarky, he adds that he usually gives himself the leeway of an extra appointment slot.  So, he gives Hannah back her original appointment.

Blood Special K

For that, I thank him.  I’m a helluva guy, oui?

You see, I prep for our blood donations like a ninja warrior.  I feast on Hannah’s kale casseroles, pop dried apricots, breakfast on fortified with iron Special K cereal swimming in almond milk, and spread raisins in my oatmeal, all rich in iron.  As not a hard meat eater (i.e. no steak, prime rib, or roast beef), I need all the help I can get to reach the necessary hemoglobin level (iron) to qualify to give blood.

Required to wear masks, we arrive at Kittery Community Center to have our temperatures taken.  We both pass with 98.4.

Blood KCC

ARC setting up for business at the Kittery Community Center; it turns out it is where Hannah and I learned to play pickleball

Having answered the required 40 questions online earlier in the morning, we are ready for further medical checks.  I pass the first two tests as my blood pressure is 110/64 and my pulse at 68.  Now for the always dicey hemoglobin test.

The phlebotomist pricks the middle finger on my right hand, puts the blood in a slide, and sets it in her machine.  Males need 13.0 while females need 12.5.  Intently watching the machine, I am stunned, nay floored, that I come up with a 12.0.  All that prep for naught.

 

Blood Hemo 2

Ta-dah!

But the ARC does allow a second hemoglobin test.  As I wait the ten seconds after blood is taken from my left hand, I see… wait for it… Boom 13.9!   What explains the variability of blood taken from different hands?  Why is the blood on my left side iron-laden while the right is anemic?

In any event, I am approved and whisked to the table to offer up some of my finest A+ blood.  All the while, Hannah flies through her medical questions without a hiccup.  And does the ARC ever love Hannah!  For she is O+, the universal donor.  Everyone in need of a blood transfusion can use her blood.

Blood Han

110 Woman!

After five minutes of flow, the needle is removed from my right arm.  It’s my 29th pint.  Hannah, a grizzled veteran and rock star in the blood giving game, comes in with, what I am guessing is a York County record of 110 pints!

The phlebotomist encourages me to double up on my fluids and do no heavy lifting for the next four to five hours.  She adds that my blood will be tested for Covid antibodies.

Whoa!  I had no idea that I’d get a test for the coronavirus.  How cool is that!  I’ll know the results in seven to ten days.

Blood anti 2

With no symptoms for the past seven months since the coronavirus came to America in January 2020, I am guessing I will have no Covid antibodies.  But what if I did!

That would mean I had the coronavirus and was asymptomatic throughout.  Am I immune to further Covid infection and of transmitting the virus?

Stay tuned. I’ll post my Covid antibodies results Monday.

 

 

Dan and Homer, the Greek – KGUA radio #13

The KGUA radio prompt for July 27, 2020 asks writer in 200 words or less to respond to this quote from Homer in The OdysseyEach man delights in the work that suits him best.

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Mark Gross, the KGUA Monday Morning Writer’s Guide, tells us, Let’s go lighter. Happier. Think of a delight. What is your delight? What delights you? What work suits you best, delights you?

A Delightful job

The first job that suited me was teaching fourth graders at Nevitt Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona with Diane and Jean (circa 1974).  We had impossible jobs teaching in an open setting at a brand new school.  Let me remind you about the quote brilliance of the open classroom!

It had no walls.  In this school for 1000 kids, you could literally see from one end of the building to the other.  When our students needed it quiet, other classes were noisy.  When other classes needed it quiet, we disturbed them.  It was insane.

With 33 students per class, we taught all the subjects (reading, spelling, math, sometimes science and social studies) but focused on reading and math since they were the ones the kids took standardized tests for.

Dash Inn

So why the best job, you ask?  Jean and Diane.  As relatively new teachers, we planned together, commiserated and supported each other, and each Friday headed to the Dash Inn on Apache Boulevard for drinks and Mexican food.

Within all this madness, I was not alone.  And for that I thank them dearly.

Words – 182

Where are they know?  Jean died in her early 50s after a 30-year teaching career, six months after she retired!  Diane is hale and healthy living with her hubby in Arizona.

Dan Wonders about this small “t” truth

I dedicate this search for my truth to Lynn Nelson, an English professor of mine at Arizona State University, who with his wife Lorrie became fast friends of Hannah’s and mine during our Arizona Years, 1972-1981.

Lynn truth

Lynn (never Dr. Nelson) spoke of small “t” truths.  As I understand it, those truths are personally true for oneself.  Big “T” truths can be those tenets of the major faiths of the world.

Here’s a small “t” truth that I am workshopping.

When entering a new situation or meeting someone new, I am happier (and less disappointed) if I have realistic expectations rather than positive expectationsWhoa, Dan.  Slow down.  Why not go into a new situation hopeful that it will turn out well?  I am hopeful, realistically hopeful.

Say, I meet a new player on the pickleball court.  Having had countless experiences meeting many people, I am realistic that not everyone I meet will be my cup of tea nor will they find me their cup of joe.  Rather than thinking positively that I will connect with everyone I meet, I am realistic that some relationships lead to connections and some do not.

I’m pleased if the relationship works out but not bummed because my positive expectations haven’t been met.

Lynn Zen

Sounds a little Zen, Dan?

Fact is, you are on to me.  As you can surmise, I’ve taken step one of 10,000 in being a Zen master.

Lynn Han at blood drive

Yesterday, Hannah and I donated blood.  How long the process takes varies widely.  At the Kittery Community Center where the blood drive was held, I had realistic expectations, not the positive attitude that we’ll be necessarily done in the usual 30-45 minutes.  Turns out, it took an hour and fifteen minutes.

Maybe a realistic attitude makes me see that many issues I have our first world problems!

Here’s a final example of realistic expectations having merit for me over positive ones.

Lynn ECSU

As a professor of undergraduates, I taught the intro Exploring Teaching class for students interested in teacher education.  Rather than going into this class with the positive expectation that they all will want to teach, I set a more realistic goal.

I am realistic that teaching is not for everyone.  Even though I give them my all by using interactive lessons, inviting passionate guest speakers, and giving the students experiences in actual classrooms, I am realistic that some of my students are going to pursue further teacher education and others will not.

If students learn after my course that teaching is not for them, the class is a success.  The course is not Loving Teaching but Exploring Teaching.

This is your Zen master signing off.

 

Addendum.  Click here to read more about Lynn’s dynamic work at Arizona State.

Dan Muses About the Future for KGUA radio #12

KGUA radio’s prompt for July 20, 2021 is making me stretch.  I am free writing in less than 200 words to this quote – Large and full and high the future still opens. It is now indeed that I may do the work of my life. And I will.

I had two false starts before this free write worked for me.

The Future

When I was a fourth grade teacher at Nevitt Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona, I had a principal who said, “Tomorrow never comes.”  No, he was not a Zen master, in fact, quite traditional.  He paddled kids who misbehaved; this was the 1970s.  Yes, it was the dark ages of school discipline that may still be alive in the Cactus State.

AZ map 2

While teaching then, I would be thinking of getting to the weekend on Wednesdays.  To summer in February.  That’s a recipe for missing many moments.

In a general sense, tomorrow seems filled with potential while today can be ruled by to-dos if I am not careful.   So carpe diem.

Let’s see, what’s on the menu for today: morning pickleball with friends, hanging the laundry outside, paying the Visa bill, kicking back with a glass of wine with Hannah, dining on take-out chicken burritos, then watching the Money Heist on Netflix.

Now that’s a pretty good day.  My streak of good todays has begun.

Words – 164

Know the author of the above quote?

Dan and Hannah Get the Marriage Question

DNH ithaca

My Ithaca shirt comes to Taughannock Falls in Ithaca, New York

During these Times of Corona, Hannah and I make it a point to avoid crowds.  Hey, we are 72 and reside in the danger zone, age-wise.  Fortunately, we live in Maine, a less populated place to live through a pandemic.

So, it can be no surprise that in the early evening of July 1, 2020, we come with subs and drinks to a distant part of the beach at York Harbor to celebrate our 48th anniversary.

As we sit looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, a mother and her college age daughter pass by.  Earlier when I had passed them on the beach, I had commented about their playing Bananagrams (a free flowing variation of Scrabble that I recommend), which brought a smile of recognition to their faces.

Now, 30 minutes later, the two women pass between us and the incoming tide.  I say to them, Hannah is celebrating her 48th wedding anniversary.  Never knowing what off-the-wall thing I might say to draw attention to myself, Hannah just smiles.

DNH montecito

On a mountainside in Montecito, CA

Mom smiles back and says, What’s your secret?  Hannah and I each have no quick answer but get out that we were just lucky.

After, I think that I want a better answer than that so I can articulate and reflect on the marriage Hannah and I have.

Meeting as first-year students at the College of Wooster, we dated off and on for five years.  In February of 1972, I proposed to her once I got my first real job as a fourth grade teacher at Holdemann Elementary School in Tempe, Arizona.  Married the following July as 24 year olds, we had much learn about being a couple.

So, what’s our secret?

DNH sc

Pickleball in South Carolina

One, we did get lucky as the stars aligned; for she as an upstate New Yorker and me as a Jersey boy happened to go to the same little liberal arts college in Nowhere, Ohio.  So, good fortune certainly got the ball rolling.

Two, we learned how much we enjoy an evening glass of wine together.

Three, we learned that we love being active together.  Be it hiking the canyons and mountains, walking the beach, biking country roads, or pickleballing.

Four, we don’t shop together.

Five, we are learning that we are not in competition with each other; we don’t need to be better than the other, be it in parenting, generosity, or service to others.  Hannah is Hannah, I am me.

DNH with m and o lime kiln

Omi and Poppa with Max (above) and Owen

Six, we are learning to assume the best about the other’s intentions, comments.

Seven, we learned to kiss each time one of us leaves the house.

Eight, I learned when someone compliments Hannah to me (say about her generosity or sweetness), I never joke or am sarcastic (by saying something like, if you only knew!) but respond with some variation of, You got it.  She’s the real thing.

Nine, Hannah cooks, I do the dishes.

Ten, I’m not sure what this means, but in conversation when Hannah is not around, I never refer to Molly, Robyn, and Will as my kids.  They are always our kids.  I sure as hell didn’t raise them on my own.

CR girls Omi and Poppa with Brooks and girls

Omi and Poppa with Brooks (center) and Reese and Charlotte

Eleven, we’ve learned to let the other one spew without offering advice.  Listening is what the spewer wants more than anything.

Twelve, we agree that we found gold living two winter months in Carpinteria, California.

Thirteen, I hang the laundry while Hannah is the problem solver around the house.

Fourteen, we learned that we both have a common interest in reaching out and making connections with many of the people we meet.  We are relentless.  If we were to have headstones, they would say, They tried.

Fifteen, we learned not to take our good marriage for granted.  We have learned to speak up when we are wondering what the other is thinking or has done.

Sixteen, we agreed that our family was a priority over our careers.  We valued experiences together over things.

This is no recipe for others, just what we do.  As you can see, there was a whole lot learning going on.

Maybe that is the secret.

Dan and Hannah and The Great Cycle Challenge

Our son Will is hitting the road.  Maybe you’d like to support him.  Here’s his note.

This September, I’m riding 300 miles in the Great Cycle Challenge to fight kids’ cancer. I am riding in honor of my sister Robyn, a survivor of childhood leukemia. Appropriately, this challenge falls during her birthday month!
Cancer is the largest killer of children from disease in the United States – 38 kids die every week. 
My challenge will be tough, but it’s nothing compared to what these brave kids face every day of their lives as they battle this terrible disease.  
And so I am taking on this challenge to end childhood cancer and save little lives.
Please consider making a donation to this cause at my fundraising page:
All funds raised will support Children’s Cancer Research Fund to continue their work to develop innovative treatments and find a cure for childhood cancer.
Thank you for your support!
Love, Will

Pumpkin, Big Brother, and Walking Boot – KGUA prompt #10

This week’s writing prompt for the KGUA radio Monday Morning Writer’s Hour wants writers to grab an old photograph.  You.  A Loved one.  A friend.  A stranger.  A pet.  Someone you pass by.  An acquaintance.  Someone you don’t know in the photo.

How is the person feeling in the photo? (Maybe it’s in the lines of the face. The expression. The posture. You get the idea).

Write this in THIRD PERSON! Third person in this exercise does not have access to the subjects thoughts! It’s all visual description Yes, you can see emotion or imagine it.

DO NOT USE “I” OR “ME” EVEN IF IT IS A PHOTO OF YOURSELF. DO NOT IDENTIFY WHO THE SUBJECT IS.

Since we will not be seeing these actual photos, we will see them, feel them, know them from your writing.

SET THE TIMER. 10 MINUTE FREE WRITE (200 WORDS MAX) DOES NOT INCLUDE THE TIME TO CHOOSE THE PHOTO.

By voice memo from my iPhone, I submitted the Pumpkin story.  I have added the pictures at the end of the entire blog for each of the three drafts so you can first form a picture in your mind from my writing, and then see the inspiration for that writing.

 

Pumpkin

He just won the lottery.  He has the biggest and best pumpkin any kindergartner could pick.  He beams with joy at his selection.  Fact is, at five years old, he is joy.

He woke early knowing today was the field trip to the pumpkin patch out Route Two.  Normally, he sleeps in on school days, but not today.  Today, he gets to be outside.  He’s a fine student but four walls do not hold his enthusiasm for life.

It’s not just the destination but the bus ride with his friends.  Schools have lots of rules, busses have fewer rules.  He can sit where he wants.  He can talk with his best friend and no one else can hear.

At the pumpkin patch, he is on a solo mission, ready to find the biggest pumpkin he can lift.  They are everywhere.  Who knew that ten thousand pumpkins could grow on two acres!   It was never in doubt as his laser focus honed in on the brightest orange pumpkin he had ever seen.

His first grade brother will congratulate him on his choice, and his parents will just smile, knowing they’ve a son who finds such joy in a simple pumpkin.

Words 199

 

Big Brother

His parents are always taking pictures of him.  He’s two, he says cheese with his lips framing his first very white teeth.  He plays his part for the family scrapbook.

Today his parents set him on the heart-shaped pillow above his two-week-old identical twin sisters.  He seems so big, when three weeks ago, he was the baby of the house.  No more, he has been promoted to big brother.

He doesn’t know it yet, but it’s the picture that they will show at the reception hall when he gets married.  People will just smile, and say, aren’t they cute?  And cute they are.  As a 31 year old, he will hug his 29 year old sisters knowing that life is good.  They all have no complaints.

On his perch of the heart-shaped pillow, he’s had just about enough of this posing.  He “mooches” (i.e. kisses) with his sisters, then gently caress their heads.  But there are baskets of blocks to dump, lawns to mow next to daddy, and races to be run around the first floor of his house.

Time is awasting.  He is born to move and groove.  And groove he must.

Words 188

 

Walking Boot

She has taken the next step, literally.  She has moved from crutches to the walking boot.  The five inch scar from her bunion surgery is still wrapped in protective surgical gauze, but she can now maneuver easily from the one step of the deck to the dining room and around the narrow corner from her bed to the bathroom sink.

She knows she’s one week into her six week journey to make her right foot right.  Knowing is one thing, being happy that she can’t walk the local beach with her hubby or play pickleball with her friends is something else.

But these are small potatoes when she thinks about a previous surgery and an even longer rehab for a busted leg after a water skiing accident on an idyllic Maine pond eight years ago.  Then three years ago, she ended up in the ER at the Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara after falling down a cliff, tearing into her thigh to the bone.

She knows she’ll get through the rehab.  She just didn’t know that she’d be rehabbing one more time.

Ah, the active life she leads.  These are small prices to pay for being on the move.

Words 191

 

Prompt Pictures

KGUA 13 Max and pumpkin

Our grandson Max

 

 

KGUA 13 Brooks with Reese and Charlotte

Our grandson Brooks with his sisters Reese and Charlotte

 

 

KGUA 13 walking boot

Hannah’s walking boot five days after bunion surgery

Dan and Hannah Aren’t Considering Returning to Their Gym, are They!

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Going to the gym!  Are you crazy!  Our local Coastal Fitness gym is one place that I thought I’d never return to during this global pandemic.  Too much sweat, too many heavy breathers, too many spiraling viral air currents, all in close quarters.  How could they protect us?

But our friend Mandy, a thoughtfully cautious sort, had returned to working out there.  But the more she talked about going to the gym, we thought, “It’s summertime; we’ve got the country roads, the beaches, and the outdoor pickleball courts.  Why take a chance?”

And then it rained last Monday!

So we decided to give Coastal Fitness a look to see what they have done to welcome us back in this Time of Corona?

Upon entering through the front doors, Hannah and I in masks each have our temperatures taken by the attendant wearing a mask herself, pointing a thermometer gun at our foreheads.  Though the bathrooms are open, no longer are showers available.

CF Hanna on treadmill

Hannahs atreadmilling

Passing through, we are struck by the heavy clear plastic sheets that hang from the ceiling on three sides of all the exercise equipment: the recumbents, the ellipticals, and the treadmills.  To top it off, only every other piece of equipment is available.

Since there may be five people in the large area this early morning, I take my mask off and return to my favorite elliptical in the back that I haven’t seen since mid-March.  In no time, I catch a rhythm and am channel surfing through ESPN, ESPN2, and the Weather Channel.  Soon finding cable fare repetitive, I plug in my iPhone to listen to my morning podcast of choice, The Daily from the New York Times.

Carefully wiping everything with disinfectant that I touched on the elliptical, I move on to the recumbent.  Thirty minutes of high octane exercise-induced bliss.   I am home, athletically-speaking.

CF D on recumbent

Enclosed in plastic on three sides, I’m pumping away

As an annual dues paying member, I see no need for Coastal Fitness to credit us for the three months they were closed due to the virus.  They have taken a financial hit in the shorts and we don’t want to add to their woes.  Fortunate to have a gym, we want them to stay in business!

Following the arrows out of the back of the building, I am riding high having had the aerobic workout that I just don’t get in my short sprints on the pickleball court or while biking like a 72-year-old on our country roads.

I bet we are safer here than in any local restaurant, hardware, or grocery store.  Yeah, we’ll be back tomorrow; you see, the forecast is for more showers.