Exploring Utah with Owen and Max – KGUA radio #14

KGUA icon 2

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

CF image

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.

Granddaughters, Bunions, and Courage – KGUA prompt #9

KGUA icon 2

This week’s KGUA radio writing prompt comes from the repeated words in last week’s submissions.  The words that kept coming up again and again were: trust, passion, peace, end, love, give, life, free, youth, kindness, nature, faith, walk, time, courage, ammunition, people, conviction, black, drown, and potential.

Mark Gross, the KGUA writing leader, asked us to time our free write for ten minutes, limiting us to 200 words.  We were to edit just for spelling and grammar, and send in the draft.

His directions were similar to what I did with seventh and eighth graders in Kittery, Maine and while leading the Teaching of Writing courses at Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of New England.  I would have a discussion, read a passage, or come up with a group activity.  From those activities, I would have my students write for ten minutes to see if they found a topic to take through to a final draft in our writing workshop.  Head down and trusting they’d write, I wrote along with my students.

Mark has given me a taste of my own medicine this week, and for that I thank him.  I chose three words below to run with.  The Walk draft aired on the KGUA Monday Morning Writer’s Hour on June 28, 2020 .

Walk

For the first time in six weeks, Hannah walked with me at the beach in Ogunquit, Maine.  You see, six weeks ago to the day, Hannah had bunion surgery.  First she was on crutches, then two weeks in a walking boot, and then wrapping her foot with surgical gauze twice a day in a hiking shoe.wa

words - ogunquit beach

Ogunquit beach on the southern coast of Maine

Oh, she could move around the house, then our yard, but walking for more than twenty minutes…well she just didn’t want to risk screwing up the operation.  It turns out she was walking on the side of her foot to protect her big toe.  A no no.

But this morning, we woke at five, stretched, then a little after six drove to the wide sandy beach here on the Atlantic.  Being low tide, we walked where the waves were rolling softly to the shore.  She thought she’d go halfway, but then…distracted by the fog, stepping in and around the pools of salt water, we were thirty minutes down the beach before she knew it, nearly to Wells.

Pumped, she headed back into the wind full speed ahead.  I’ve been listening to podcasts as I walk alone during Hannah’s rehab, but this was much better.  Both the conversation and the silence.

 

Youth

Hannah and I are just back from Ithaca, New York where we met our granddaughters for the first time.  Yes, granddaughters!  Reese and Charlotte are our identical twins.  In this crazy Time of Corona, we didn’t know if we’d even see them for six months or even a year!  But when our son and his wife, a nurse no less, invited us to visit the girls three weeks after their births, we were all in to drive 400 miles to be with them.

CR girls nose to nose

Charlotte and Reese

When we arrived, mom and dad hugged us!  Do you know how long it’s been since we hugged anyone else!  Yeah, you do, it’s three months going on a year!

The girls mold together as they lie in their bassinet, just like they were in the womb.  As I sat on the couch knees folded together, I held Reese as she lay sleeping.  Yeah, they sleep a lot.  Then they cry, then mom feeds them, sometimes at the same time, and then the girls sleep some more.

But after three days, they were looking around more and more, checking out their new world.  I look forward to being a part of their lives for a long time.

 

Courage

I have to admit I never really got the white privilege stuff.  As a kid, I was just a kid.  What did I know?  We did live in Radburn, a privileged part of Fair Lawn I learned later as a young adult, a pretty much all white community in north Jersey.  We did take two family car trips to the West Coast.  I just figured lots of kids did that.

words - map of maine

In tiny print, York is on this map

My goodness, I played tennis!  Is that ever a white man’s sport, even though the Williams Sisters took charge of the women’s game for the last twenty years.

I was just going through life.  Living frugally on a teacher’s salary while Hannah stayed home with the kids.  But then we moved from multi-cultural Arizona to white bread Maine.  As such, there were not many families of color here that I knew.  Without a second thought, our kids went to college, had careers.

Of late, I am aware that my white comfort is compromising the lives of so many fellow Americans of color.  Now is the time to have the courage to admit my privileged status and do my part to even the playing field.

I’m listening.

 

Dan and His Pandemic Paragraph

I wonder if you could do me a favor.  It’s small, but it really matters to me.  And if I have it right, it’ll make your day, too.

Stim image of check

In March Hannah and I each received a federal government stimulus check.  I knew in the haste of Congress, there would be issues.  My getting one of the checks was one of the issues.  Doing very well, Hannah and I can find better uses for our $1200 than padding our bank account.  That’s where you come in.

Previously, Hannah and I gave some money to four clergy we know as women and men of the cloth are aware of folks who are hurting.  All four pastors came through in the clutch and directed our donations to folks in need.

Stim pay it forward

I want to give away the rest of my stimulus check to you.   Oh, there is a catch.  I want you to request the money to do something for someone else.  A 2020 pay it forward campaign.

Here’s where you come in.  I would like you to email me (danrothermel@gmail.com) or write below in the comment section of my blog in 50 to 100 words (no more!) and tell me of a person who could use a shot in the arm or organization for up to $100 and why.  It doesn’t have to earthshaking; it could be just something that would bring a smile to someone’s day.

Possibilities:

One, a cup of coffee with a friend at an outdoor cafe during the pandemic

Two, a brother doing something for his sister, and all the permutations (i.e. sister to brother, sister to sister, brother to cousin, etc.)  Any age, from kids to boomers.

Three, a waitperson out of work or working less.

Four, someone furloughed or laid off.

Stim kind

Five, someone who was just kind to you recently, or in the past that you haven’t been in touch with for a while.

Six, a rabbi/imam/minister you know who, in turn, knows who needs support.

Seven, a thing another person could use during this global pandemic.

Eight, three half gallons of their favorite ice cream for a pandemic party.

Nine, a local cause you support.

Ten, yes people related to Hannah and me are eligible.

Eleven, an unsung, decent neighbor.

Tell me the little story behind this person or entity and how much you are requesting.  I want to give away $500 this month, but I can only do that with your support and their stories.

Stim over 60

In a future blog, I’ll include the stories without your name or the name of the person you are giving something to.  I’ll edit for clarity and keep them all quite anonymous, unless… you would let me identify you for our Over60hiker blog family.  I hope your stories will help spread this idea of giving.

The deadline is June 15, 2020.  I know, that’s soon.  Think, talk, listen, don’t be shy, and email me.

Francis of Assisi said it well, For it is in the giving that we receive.  For you and for me.

Dan in Praise of Parents During the Time of Corona

As with many parents during the Time of Corona, our daughter Molly with her hubby Tip are on all day with Max (six next month) and Owen (eight this summer).  Our son Will with his wife Laurel have their hands full with their nearly two year old Brooks; and you see, it’s not just Brooks, Laurel is set deliver identical twin girls next month.

Parents Ithacans

Brooks, Laurel, and Will

Brooks’s motor never stops. As parents around the world know, it can be a challenge to reason with a two year old. But Will and Laurel roll with it, cajole when necessary, set boundaries which Brooks takes as starting points for what he’ll actually do, and breathe deep when his afternoon nap time comes.

Parents Rawdings in California

Tip, Molly, Dan, and Hannah in the back, Max and Owen up front in sunnier times in California weeks before the Coronavirus shut us all down

Max and Owen have similar energy but at a higher speed. They also have to do schoolwork. Max (kindergarten) and Owen (first grade) Zoom with classmates and have math, reading, and writing that comes to them online. Twice a week, Hannah and I FaceTime with the boys as they each read us a picture book.

Parents Max book

Max with Happy Pig Day by Mo Willems

Parents Owen book

Owen

Then the inevitable jokes about parents becoming teachers/enforcers emerge:

Homeschooling is going well. Two students were suspending for fighting and one teacher was fired for drinking on the job.

The next day, one of these little monsters called in a bomb threat.

The day after that, my child said, “I hope I don’t have the same teacher next year.”

I don’t believe our kids and spouses have turned to song yet to pass the time, but they just might be inspired by these Brits.

Can we agree that we could all use some distractions during these crazy times?  For families that valuable distraction is right at their feet or in the next room.  Let me explain.

There are no doubt many blessings in being a parent despite how challenging and exhausting it can be.  But their kids’ ever present needs keep parents in the moment, in the now, maintaining their Zen.

One advantage of having kids is they can be a positive distraction for parents; so the adults are less likely to focus on their own fears and doubts during this global pandemic. Yes, I know the importance of self-care, but I am speaking of the dwelling, the ruminating, the fear-creating that can come with the uncertainty of how long these crazy times will last.  Kids provide a delightful, important distraction.

In a previous life for Hannah and me some thirty plus year ago, we were fortunate to have the distraction of two year old Will and six year old Molly when our four year old Robyn got really sick. Having two other kids to focus on, helped us navigate that crazy time and not obsess about Robyn’s health.  Will and Molly provided a much appreciated distraction.

Kids are so much more than distractions, but they can be meaningful distractions during times like these.

Dan Wonders Is This a Prelude to Old Age?

Like you, I have a lot of time during this Time of Corona.  (I am workshopping various descriptors of this time of the Covid-19 coronavirus global pandemic.  I am looking for something not too clinical (Covid-19) and not too generic (coronavirus) that has a lyrical ring to it.)

Old age cane

Anyway, I am wondering if our current Stay at Home mandate is preparing me/us for old age.  Is all this time at home, restricting my opportunities to be physically active, giving me a peek into the future (horrors, my future!)?  Our pickleball courts, our gym, our beaches, our cliff walks, our Mount Agamenticus are all closed here on the coast of Maine.

When I am in my 90s (I got a shot since my parents each lived into their 90s), I may not be able to climb mountains, whack the pickleball, or get my heart rate to 130 on the elliptical.  I may be restricted more than I can imagine.  I know that my physical well-being is not going to last forever.

So, and I bet you know where this is going, I’m going to be in the present, enjoy what physical activity I can do during the Time of Corona (i.e. walk daily, bike our country roads now that warmer weather has come to Maine).

Old age Willard Scott

I want no part of being remembered by Willard Scott, NBC weather personality, for my 100th birthday.  I lean on the wisdom of a wheelchair-bound 92 year old that I met when I took my middle schoolers to the local nursing home for a day to interview residents and write observations about what they saw.  She said, 92 is too old.  In so many words, she was ready to cash in her chips.

That last paragraph notwithstanding, I’ll be fine hitting the century mark if I am as healthy as I am today at 72.  You just never know.

Dan’s Small Victory in These Crazy Times

It may not seem like much to you, but it still feels like a sweet win to me!  Let me explain.

Hannah and I are now in “Stay at Home” mode due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, wisely instituted by our Governor Janet Mills.  As with many, we are in lock down except for walks in town, grocery shopping, and the occasional Subway run for take-out.

Small V Dr. Z

Dr. Zieja

Today, the first Monday in April 2020, I have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Zieja at Kittery Eye in the next town.

You see, four weeks earlier during my annual eye exam, the good doctor found an irritation in my right eye beneath my contact lens that concerned him, not freaked him out, but concerned him.  Checking the pair of contacts I was wearing, he found that they were not the source of the irritation because they were scratch-free.

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my other pair of contacts.  You see, I alternate days using my two pairs of contacts.  Dr. Z wasn’t sure if the irritation was due to a scratch from this second pair of lens at home or that the shape of my eyeball had changed so that I would need a new lens.

Small V hard lens on finger

First getting contacts in 1970, I remain old school using hard lenses.

Dr. Z recommended that I wear the first pairs of lens exclusively to see if the irritation cleared up on its own.  If it did, that meant the second pair of contacts was the likely problem, and I’d replace them.  If the irritation did not go away, it was a sign that my eyeball had changed and I needed new contacts.

The irritation was not a big deal, especially since earlier in the appointment, Dr. Z had said that I was not entering the Danger Zone:  macular degeneration or glaucoma or their Inevitable Nephew: cataract surgery, which is still a ways down the road.

Calling at 930A on the Wednesday before my follow-up appointment, I learned that Kittery Eye was closed, but I could leave a message.  I understand the risk he and other health professionals are taking by coming to the office.

Small V hard lens

My eyes have felt fine these past four weeks wearing one pair of lens all the time.  Still his uber-microscope looking into my eyes may reveal something.  I would just like to know, but the world won’t end if my appointment is postponed, for months!

My message on the office answering machine was: (1) is my appointment on, unlikely as that was, or, if not, (2) could I just drop off my other pair of contacts to see if they were the source of the problem?

Small V Kittery eye sign

I didn’t hear back Wednesday or Thursday.  Then late Friday afternoon I get a call from Gretchen, the scheduler at Kittery Eye.  She says Dr. Zieja will be in next week.  Hallelujah Brother!

And just like that, I will see him next Friday at 1030A to find out what’s up with right eye.  It’s a small W when victories are hard to come by in this Era of the Coronavirus.

Any small victories in your life?

Dan and Hannah Try to Be Part of the Solution

I listen to a lot of podcasts – while doing the dishes, when I walk on my own, in bed in the early morning while Hannah sleeps.  Generally, during these crazy times, they are sports-related or solution-oriented for dealing with COVID -19 (CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease in 2019).

I don’t remember which podcast it was, but the point of one was the importance of supporting small businesses during these tumultuous times.  One suggestion was long distance tipping of waitstaff at restaurants that your frequent.  Another was supporting local farmers.  Immediately, that spoke to me since my three keys to boost my immune system are get enough sleep, exercise, and eat well, which means lots of fruits and vegetables.

CSA logo 2

Thanks to our crunchy (and that’s a good thing!) friends, Scott and Tree, we know about the Orange Circle Farm, a CSA, here in southern Maine.  Know what CSA stands for?  I didn’t.  It’s at the bottom of the blog.  I digress as I am wont to do.

You see, when Tree and Scott were away, they had us pick up their weekly bin of veggies from Farmer Jeff and Farmer Erin.  Now that I think about it, it makes sense that females who farm go buy the name Farmer This or That.  My childhood stories had no women or womyn farmers.  Geez, another digression.

CSA Jeff and Erin

Jeff and Erin

We just signed on to get a full bin of veggies each week throughout the late spring, summer and early fall.  We hit the quinella with our decision.

One, we are supporting a local small business.

Two, we are getting farm fresh food… let the OCF farmers tell you about their produce.

All vegetables are grown without using any herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides.  We focus on pest and disease prevention through holistic practices that include careful attention to soil health, cover crops, composting, crop rotations, row covers, mindful irrigation, and crop diversity.  They hope to be officially organic-certified in 2020.  My kind of folks.

CSA greenhouse plants

Three, though initially it may be more expensive than the grocery store, though I am not sure that is actually true, we are now a part of a long-term solution to create sustainable agriculture without the use of crazy chemicals.  Paying $550 for a full share for the season, Hannah and I are not expected to work at the farm, which, if you know me, would have been a deal breaker.  Anyway, why would they want me screwing up their operation?

Four, we are providing the seed money (see what I just did.  Seed money for their seedsOh, you writers think you are so clever.) for the Orange Circle Farm to buy supplies for the upcoming growing season.

CSA onions

Five, we are modeling what we believe, not just talking about it.  Giving voice to intentions is good, but it’s the action that completes the package.

I know not everyone could lay out that kind of cash for their veggies, but since we can, we did; as we try to be a small part of the solution.

CSA – Community Supported Agriculture.