Dan’s Top Ten – KGUA #49

For the May 17, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite about what we have learned about ourselves during the pandemic.  I give you my Top Ten!    

Top Ten

10. I’ve learned that when I think I’ve hit a home run in life, I remember that as white guy I was born on second base.

9. I’ve relearned how much I love my Fitbit tracker.  My Fitbit encourages me to continue to be the crazed exerciser that I’ve been ever since my days as a grad student working in the Human Performance Lab at Arizona State University. 

8. I have relearned the timeless wisdom of Don Miguel Ruiz in Four Agreements that two of the keys to happiness are to make no assumptions and to not take anything personally.

7.  I have learned that a margarita or two is just fine, but more is asking for trouble. 

6. Rather than immediately react emotionally when I’m challenged by life coming at me, I’ve learned to take a breath and think about the truth of the situation for me.  Giving myself advice in the third person helps (e.g., Dan, you know that…).

5. I’ve learned the importance of having a knife at every meal to cut my food up to avoid said food from lodging in my throat.  I am not far from a steady diet of mush, oatmeal, and apple sauce.

4.  I’ve learned that my longstanding passion for pickleball has been refocused.  I love playing the soft game with opponents who see the game as a cooperative venture to challenge all players rather than a competitive battle where winning is all that matters.  Also, I like to play pickleball not slamball.

3. I have relearned how fortunate I am to have good health and ample resources to really enjoy retirement.

2. I have learned that a beer with friends after ping pong and pickleball makes the experience a royal flush.

1. I am reminded that I have a traveler’s heart.  I look forward to California’s sunshine and blue skies in the months ahead.

Dan and the Pandemic One Year Ago – KGUA radio #41

For the March 22, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to free write about the day we learned of the Covid-19 pandemic last March. 

The First Time the Pandemic got Real

Something felt different as Hannah and I settled into our Jet Blue flight from Los Angeles to Boston on March 4, 2020.  Surprisingly, this popular non-stop coast-to-coast flight was only 85% full; and for the first time, I saw four or five people wearing masks.  I didn’t think much of it; maybe this pandemic is just all hype and will have little more effect than the seasonal flu.

Eight days later, having bought tickets for the Banff Film Festival at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire months ago, Hannah and I still felt reasonably safe, though packed tightly, with 600 others for these short indie films.    

Coming home that Thursday night, I paused and wondered about our upcoming trip to the national parks of Utah with our daughter Molly’s family just five weeks away.  I’m still feeling hopeful. 

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

The next morning, I was taken aback by the news that Molly’s Lexington, Mass school district was shutting down for two weeks.  Maybe I had underestimated the pandemic’s reach and intensity. 

Over the weekend on a FaceTime call, Molly figuratively grabbed us by the lapels and said it’s time for you two to take this seriously.  By that she meant, stop going to the gym, which we reluctantly did.

Within days, we postponed our family trip to the Arches and Bryce Canyon National Parks.  I had no idea that it would be two years (2022) before we’d all be ready to go again.

Words – 237

Dan’s Word for 2021 – KGUA radio #31

For the January 4, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to free write on our word for 2021. Mine is…

Holding!

Well, I am holding up well during the current pandemic.  Seeing me through are my ping pong and pickleball buddies, the memories of my Aunt Ilene (101) and Uncle Bill (88) who passed this year, good health, the exuberance of our five grandchildren, and my main squeeze Hannah.

I am holding on having survived the last four years of capriciousness and hubris, the relentlessness of the pandemic, and the absence of loved ones at hand to hug and to hold from this time forth.

I am holding out for a bright 2021 with an adult in charge, vaccines for us all, and a better tomorrow with less vitriol, division, and misplaced exceptionalism.

But mostly I am for holding hands.  With the onset of the New England winter, Hannah and I no longer have our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6), up to our place for 24 hours over the weekend; nor do we go to their place for cards, chess, and reading to them at night.  But, I have caught glimpses of the future with them. 

When we hike with our daughter Molly’s family, be it on the Little Harbor Trail in Portsmouth, New Hampshire or around Mount Agamenticus on the Ring Trail in York, Maine, I notice that Max, and later Owen, reflexively reach for my hand or Hannah’s while we are walking through the woods.

The connection and affection of that simple grasp is holding me up and giving me hope.

Words – 245

Max with his Omi on the causeway to the Wiggly Bridge and Steedman Woods in York Harbor, Maine

Dan’s Winter Solstice 2020 – KGUA radio #29

For the December 21, 2020 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to free write about a Christmas memory or the winter solstice.  I choose what’s behind door #2.    

Out our front door towards the iced over vernal pool by the road last week

The week before Christmas it snowed nearly a foot here on the coast of Maine.  Fortunately, it was light and fluffy snow, easy to shovel and push off our driveway.  Hannah and I have put up our traditional fake Christmas tree and strung lights on our front porch as an argument against the cold and the dark of winter.

They’ll be no family gathering at our home on Chases Pond Road this holiday season.  Our kids will not be bringing our five grandchildren to joyfully dominate our days, then sleep through the night.  We are all months from getting the Covid vaccine when travel and togetherness will return.   

Hannah and I will hunker down inside with our morning routines of breakfast oatmeal, writing cards for Hannah, drafting a weekly blog for me, going to the nearly empty gym mid-day for me to pedal with Sports Center, and Hannah to elliptical with The View.  Napping follows for me, and then we take a late afternoon walk at Long Sands Beach at low tide or through Steedman Woods in York Harbor.

And then it’s time for our presence.  Each winter evening, we’ll sit in front of our life-like gas fireplace with a glass of red wine for our time together – our presence to each other.    

Words – 210

Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week #4 – Masks

Refusing to wear a mask is today’s equivalent of drunken driving. The odds of killing someone are low, but collectively this year the refusal to wear masks will kill far more Americans than driving under the influence.

Nicholas Kristof, multiple Pulitzer Prize winner

Masked men and woman (Tip, Owen, Molly, and Max)
True believer

Alerting Hannah and me to three little known organizations that are making the world a better place, Nicholas Kristof has guided us where to donate this holiday season.

  1. Camfed (Campaign for Female Education) to support girls to learn, thrive, and lead. Girls’ education is key to tackling the world’s greatest challenges. Yet, even before COVID-19, 52.2 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa were out of school, and millions more are now at risk.
  2. OneGoal helping close the college divide. OneGoal is working to create a world where all students can earn a college degree and define their future. This one-of-a-kind program partners with high schools in low-income communities to bridge the postsecondary degree dive.
  3. Himalayan Cataract Project giving the gift of sight. Of the more than 36 million people worldwide suffering from unnecessary blindness, half are due to cataracts that can be surgically treated. The cure exists, but remains out of reach for many living in low-resource countries.

To learn more about these initiatives, click on this link https://kristofimpact.org/

Dan and One Thing He’s Accomplished Since March 2020 – KGUA radio #26

For the November 23, 2020 KGUA radio Monday Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to free write about one thing we’ve accomplished since March 2020 in 200 words or less.  

I hope that this doesn’t come off as smug, but what I’ve accomplished during the last eight months is to accept my life as it is.  During the Covid-19 pandemic I have been merely inconvenienced, not devastated as has been the case for so many around the world.

It’s no false humility, just trying to keep it real, and acknowledge the advantages that Hannah and I have.  Among them are: being healthy, retired, having ample resources, believing in science, white, college-educated, and especially having each other.

I acknowledge that’s quite a septet of advantages going into the pandemic.  It’s my variation of white privilege.  There were no bootstraps that got me where I am today.  I didn’t hit a double; I was born on second base.

To maintain this reality during this crises, I wash my hands, wear a mask, socially distance, and avoid gathering indoors.  I’ll take the vaccine once Dr. Fauci gives me his personal go ahead.

I recognize my plentiful breaks in life.  The question becomes, how will I share my abundance with others?

Words – 182

Dan and Hannah Explore the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse on the Gulf of Maine

Rolling down Route 32 in Mid-Coast Maine, Hannah and I notice both the wealth evident in the seasonal coastal homes in New Harbor as well as the subsistence living that also remains a part of this rural coastal peninsula.

Route 32 is on the bayside route above New Harbor
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse appropriately fogged in

Going from the sunshine five miles away at the La Verna Preserve, (click here for that blog), we are engulfed in fog as we approach the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. After shorts at La Verna, I slip on sweatpants, sweatshirt, and light jacket to ward against the foggy chill.

Did you know that the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is on the Maine quarter. (All 50 states have their own quarter.)  I think of it as one of the three iconic lighthouses in the state of Maine (Portland Head and Nubble Light in our York are the other two).

It seems perfect that we are in the fog at a Maine lighthouse. Such beacons earn their keep in such weather. You see what I did! Okay, might be a little obtuse. But the primary worker here was a lighthouse keeper.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

As it is Monday, November 9, 2020, we are still in celebratory mood as we engage a mother with her grown daughter who have come from Florida for a Maine lighthouse travel tour.

Learning that mom is originally from Ohio, I have the opportunity to ask if they know of Wooster, Ohio.

Thinking so, she wonders how two Mainers ended up at the College of Wooster.  As a Jersey boy who picked a college entirely based on the possibility that he might make the varsity tennis team and who eventually escaped by transferring to Arizona State University for his senior year, I joke it was a series of bad breaks how I ended up in the Buckeye State, except for the New Yorker I met there – as I point to Hannah.  Thar’s gold in them thar fields of Ohio!

Then, the conversation takes an unfortunate detour as we learn that the women don’t believe the pandemic is real. (I choke back speaking up about the 240K that have died in the United State to date).  Their evidence? A nurse said it’s odd that she has seen no flu patients this fall, implying that the authorities are not telling us everything.

This left turn has no good endgame. We extract ourselves gently as we are no mood to debate or have their metaphorical rain douse our celebration.

Though a small park, the Lighthouse envrions allow us to walk down to the rocks on this low tide early afternoon.  We turn inland to views to the lighthouse cloaked in fog. 

A short walk on the Pemaquid Loop Road adds to our mounting Fitbit step total, but we have bigger fish to fry as hiking at the Dodge Point Preserve 18 miles away in Newcastle awaits. Next Saturday’s blog!

On the Pemaquid Loop Road

Dan and Hannah – the Pandemic Update (October 2020)

Into our seventh month of the pandemic, there’s no Covid here on Chases Pond Road. We try to be R&R it (by that I mean, being reasonable and responsible) and so far so good. We have had a few things going for us – each other, retired, ample resources, white, and good health.  As in our pre-Covid days, we continue to make social connection our North Star.  

You like to think you are reasonable and responsible, Dan, what about playing pickleball with others and going to the gym? Please. Settle down. We are choosy with whom we play pickleball, finding people who believe in science, masks, and socially distancing in their daily lives beyond the courts.

Hannah with our friend Fran

We’ve adopted the pod system of play to limit our exposure:  Often it’s Norm and Paula on Tuesdays, Genny and Alan on Wednesdays, and Steve and Fran on Thursdays.  That’s pretty much it.

Faithful readers of this blog know Hannah and I have been going to the gym since late June three to four times per week.  Now in mid-October, we still find it safe.  Why? (1) our temperatures are checked every time we enter the building, (2) everyone wears masks. (3) few people have returned to our spacious gym, (4) heavy plastic shields protect the exercise machines that we use, and (5) 70-80% fresh air is being pumped into the gym through the HVAC system per CDC guidelines.

Hannah at Coastal Fitness

Further, though we love our breakfasts out, we have limited our early morning eggs over easy and homefries to the occasional Morning Buzz in Amesbury, MA with its outdoor picnic tables; we do drive-bys at McDonalds for sausage biscuits without the sausage.

We do have friends to our front deck in twos and threes.  Again, ones who believe in science, etc. 

This summer we’ve had the outdoors for walking the beaches in York as well as beach time with our grandsons, Owen and Max.

Owen and Max at the York Harbor Beach

Bicycling, with its built in socially distancing, has taken us to our country roads.

Now that the beech leaves have fallen and the oak leaves are soon to follow, what plans do we have for the coming indoor season?

We won’t play pickleball indoors until there is a vaccine.  Restaurants and breakfast joints are out. We’ll continue to get take-out. We’ll have friends over at a social distance in ones, twos, and threes.  No parties.

Winter bicycling on our roads is not my idea of a good time.  Fact is, it’s my idea of a bad time. We’ll bundle up and walk outdoors come November and December. Then fly to California this winter for outdoor living on the Central Coast.

We’ll go early mornings to the gym as long as it seems safe (i.e. that there aren’t large crowds).  I’ll continue playing ping pong inside with my buddy George as I have since the spring.

We’ll remain big into masks and social distancing. We’ll go to stores that enforce our Maine state mandate to wear masks.

The good doctor Fauci

We’ll get the double dose seniors flu shot and get a Covid vaccine as soon as Dr. Fauci says they are safe. We are not buying what the politician is selling.

Have we been fortunate not getting Covid-19?  Sure, but we give ourselves the best shot by being reasonably reasonable and responsibly responsible. 

We look forward to what the future holds with a new president.

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.