Dan and Hannah Seek a Covid Vaccine Part 1 of 3

I am workshopping a new mantra – Expect the Good.   Let me show you what that looks like.

While waiting for the run-off to the two Senate races in Georgia, I expected the good that during the nine weeks between the presidential election and the run-off the two Democrat candidates would win.  This time it was one for the good guys.  But if it hadn’t been, then I’d find the good in what happened.

At the last minute Hannah and I chose not to go to California this winter.  After inquiring about a refund for our two month rental, we waited for eleven days expecting the good.  If that didn’t happen, then we’d find the good in what did happen.

In both cases, I spent no time fretting and coming up with worst case scenarios.  Whatever the results, I enjoyed the time being upbeat by expecting the good.

Then on January 18, 2021 our valiant Governor Janet Mills decided that those over 70 would be placed in the 1b category for getting the Covid vaccine (1a was frontline health care workers and those in nursing homes). 

We live in York County. Portland is in Cumberland County

As septuagenarians, Hannah and I began calling MaineHealth Services for an appointment again and again.  We heard either, There are no more vaccines for today, try again tomorrow or the phone call was immediately disconnected on their end.  News reports of limited Covid vaccines and none in the US stockpile made it uncertain when we would get a vaccine. 

But…we expected the good, be that that good would come in January, February, March, or April.

After calling Tuesday, we got little encouragement and the same routine.  Emailing our primary care physician about when they would let us know when vaccines would be available for us 70 year olds, I learned from the nurse it may be February at the earliest in York.

In the meantime, we made a deal with our friend Howie that if we heard anything about vaccine sign-ups, we would let him know, and he would do the same.  Our friend Bob sent us another phone number to try.  Our friend Corky told us to be persistent.

Come Wednesday, we phone early and heard for the first time, leave your number and we’ll return your call in the order it was received.  Hmmm.  That sounds good.

With our iPhones on loud, we went to the gym on that Inauguration Day to pedal and watch the inspiring Biden/Harris festivities.  Twenty minutes in, Hannah gets a call, dismounts the elliptical, confirms her availability, and has a Covid vaccine appointment eight days hence.  Just like that!

Handing me her phone, she says, they want to set up an appointment for you, too!  Hallelujah.  In short order I, too, am scheduled for a Covid vaccination next week.

Part II – Today (January 28, 2021) we head off to Goodall Hospital in Sanford, Maine for our Covid vaccination. Details of the experience and our reactions to the vaccination will be posted this Saturday.

Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week #10 –

When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Brave enough to be it!

from Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb, as recited at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on January 20, 2021

Full text

When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice.

And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow, we do it. Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

And so, we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped; that even as we tired, we tried; that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it. Because being American is more than a pride we inherit; it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So, while once we asked: “How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?” Now we assert, “How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?”

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised, but whole; benevolent, but bold; fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation, because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change our children’s birthright.

So, let us leave behind a country better than one we were left. With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limned hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Dan and Hannah Walk to the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse (Maine)

Our unexpected November getaway up the coast of Maine takes us to the town of Rockland, Maine on Penobscot Bay. Known for lobster and its deep harbor, it’s even whiter than the state of Maine as a whole. Rockland has a racial makeup that is 95.8% white.  We do white here in Maine, and that’s not a bad thing.  It is what it is. See below for the five whitest states in the United States.

Just yesterday, two women from Florida that we met on their Maine Lighthouse Tour recommended that we go to the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, 7/8 of a mile into the bay.  Always up for some extra Fitbit steps, we take coastal Route One to parking for the lighthouse. 

From parking lot to breakwater (upper right)

What must be a madhouse in the summer with tourists seeking clam huts and lobster meals is this morning mellow and crowd-free on an unseasonably warm November day in the mid-60s.  Parking is free as we walk to the breakwater just beyond the golf course at the Samoset Resort.

Rockland Breakwater with the lighthouse in the distance

With others on the massive granite blocks on the 12-15’ wide breakwater, we slip on our masks any time we approach another set of walkers.  Trying to put aside the feeling that all the non-mask wearers are for the one-term president, we smile and greet all that we pass. 

By the way, a sign on the main drag in Santa Barbara says, Have fun. Be safe. Don’t ruin it for everyone. The sign at our gym in Kittery politely speaks its truth.

Coastal Fitness, Kittery, Maine

Stepping carefully over the one to four inch cracks between the granite blocks, we look down more than up over the next 15 minutes out to the 120 year old lighthouse. 

It turns out the breakwater was built before the lighthouse itself.  Prior to the breakwater, nor’easters damaged buildings and ships on the Rockland waterfront.   

Landside of the Lighthouse
The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse from the shipping lane
From the lighthouse back to land

The lighthouse is worthwhile stopover for some Fitbit-loving exercise for us on our way to Mount Battie in Camden ten miles away.  Next Saturday’s blog will take you to the mountaintop.

Whitest states in the United States

One, Maine – 94.6%.

Two, Vermont – 94.2%

Three, West Virginia -93.5%

Four, New Hampshire – 93.2%

Five, Idaho – 93.0%

Six, Iowa – 90.7% (Interesting the first two presidential primary states [NH and IA] are on this list.  It’s understandable that Joe Biden needed South Carolina with its larger Black population to demonstrate he was a viable candidate).

By the way, I respond to all comments that readers make to every blog posting. If you don’t get an email notification of my response to your comment, be sure to click the small square in the lower left to get that email. Thanks. DR

Dan and Hannah Celebrate by Hiking the La Verna Reserve near Damariscotta, Maine

Unusually warm weather for early November has Hannah and me itching to the hit the road and rock and roll up the coast of Maine for some hiking and lighthousing.  Having my own personal Maine travel guru in Paul Rosenblum, I learn that 100 miles north of York are hiking trails on the Pemaquid Peninsula for our time to celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music.

Warm temps over the cold Atlantic bring heavy fog to the coast this Monday after the 2020 election, as we drive north on the Maine Turnpike before turning onto coastal Route One in Topsham. 

Our WAZE GPS takes us through Damariscotta south on the Pemaquid Peninsula to the parking lot for the La Verna Preserve.

With promised water views of the Muscongus Bay, we do wonder what we’ll see as the fog has us hiking in a wonderland cloud.  With well-marked, blue blaze trails, we begin on the Hoyt Trail, turn left at the Ellis Trail (see map below), to maximize our hiking mileage (by that I mean our Fitbit steps!). 

Wouldn’t Robert Frost love this stonewall!

With a few firs of green, skeletal oak trees, and hemlocks dying a brittle death from the tiny white hemlock woolly adelgid, we trample the fallen oak leaves aware that hidden stones and roots lurk below. 

Shorts in Maine November!

Once to Muscongus Bay, we channel our Inner Zen Sunshine, having faith that the fog will lift. At various points along the Shore Trail we head down to the rocks and get our full Maine coastal experience. 

And then Voila! The sun breaks through.

With few others are on this trail, when we do cross paths, we all don our masks.  It’s our effort to support the common good. It’s not rocket science. Fact is, it’s second grade science!

Returning by way of the La Verna Trail, we encounter a solo hiker who we greet with It’s a great day for a celebration.  He knowingly smiles and laughs his agreement about the momentous conclusion to the 2020 presidential race just two days ago.

La Verna Trail

Soon, a younger couple, he with tattoos (not that there is anything wrong with that) and both without masks pass by.  I am not so lighthearted with them as we are deep in Red Country. 

You see, there is talk of two “Maines.”  We in the south are more progressive, brunch-loving, and drive Priuses and those in the north have more conservative views, pick-ups, and gun racks.

An American flag truck at the trailhead

After 90 minutes of temperate November hiking, in shorts no less, we return to the parking lot to see two women about our age dressed in hunter orange with their pooch suitably covered with her own orange reflective vest.  We smile and say, It’s a great day for a celebration.  The first woman looks at her partner as she smiles back broadly. Then they wonder if we have heard any gunshots? No, only a distant chain saw.

It’s one thing to be white in America and be disgusted by the tone and substance of the last four years. It’s something else to be gay, undocumented, or a person of color who is directly threatened by policies of exclusion and hate.

We celebrate today but know the journey is nowhere near done.

For those wondering more about the backstory of the La Verna Reserve, please read on. Tap on the images to enlarge them for easier reading.

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 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 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!