Dan and Hannah at the Wedding of Kara and Charles (October 3, 2021)

Kara is my brother Richard’s youngest, his only daughter. Charles is her guy. She and the C Man (I have no idea if Charles’ college buddies call him that, but it was fun to write.) had invited some 150 guests to the Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, New York for their nuptials on the first Sunday in October (2021). 

Otesaga Hotel

Alas, one hundred made the scene in these Times of the Delta Variant of Covid; the ceremony and cocktail hour are to be outside while the dinner/reception will be indoors.

Otsego Lake, home to Otesaga Hotel Resort

Hannah and I wondered about coming to the wedding at all, but in the end felt satisfactory precautions were taken and we are Pfizer vaccinated. Click here for the link to the blog why we chose to come to the wedding.

About five hours of driving

Carpooling with our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip, Hannah and I arrive around noon at Cooperstown, New York, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Since the wedding is a 345 PM affair, we have time for lunch together with our three kids (and Tip), then walk the property at the Otesaga Resort and into town to get our 10+K steps.

Lunch of Wegman’s subs with Robyn, Molly, Will, Hannah, Dan, and Tip

Having not worn a suit in forever, I rocked the same gray suit that I wore to Molly and Tip’s wedding in 2011. With rain in the forecast, the ceremony is moved to a 120-seat ballroom. At the outset, I do wear my mask, then take it off. On, off, on off. Eventually I figure, what the hell, everyone is vaccinated and put it in my pocket.

The uncle and aunt of the bride with the groom Charles over Hannah’s shoulder
Molly and Tip who clean up well.

In Maine, the few times I go indoors, I always wear a mask. At our gym, I wear the mask in the facility but remove it when I exercise. I rarely go inside anywhere else. This afternoon, maybe half the folks are masking up for the fifteen-minute ceremony.  A 15-minute ceremony! That’s almost heaven, West Virginia.

Dan and Hannah with our daughter Robyn

Once in the side ballroom for dinner and dancing, we all sit at round tables for seven or eight. There is no social distancing. On the dancing floor, Hannah and I are shoulder to shoulder sans masks. By this time, just a few were wearing masks.  Alcohol and masks do not seem to mix. We are all vaccinated!

Eating and dancing at close range, I pretty much forget about wearing a mask myself.  By 9 PM Hannah and I wrap up while the younger generation rocks on into the night.

Six days after the wedding, no one at the wedding has tested positive for Covid. Coincidentally, two days later the pharmacist at the local Hannaford grocery store administers my Pfizer booster shot. (Glad you asked, no side effects just a sore left arm for 36 hours.)

And as Billy Shake says, All’s well that ends well.

Additional pictures from Kara and Charles’ Big Day

Will, Hannah, Dan, and Molly walking the downtown of Cooperstown
Dan and Hannah in front of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Main Street in Cooperstown, New York
Otsego Lake is the background for a joyful Molly with Tip
The women and one lucky guy! Anna, Robyn, Molly, Kara, Charles, and Tara. (Anna and Tara are my sister Patty’s kids.)

Dan and the Wedding Yin Yang – KGUA #62

For the September 27, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are told that yin yang, an ancient symbol of harmony reminds us life is a balancing act. Most fulfilling when we learn to embrace dualities such as a joy and a challenge. 

My wedding yin yang

There’s this family wedding.  Wait!  You’re considering going to a wedding in the time of the Delta Variant!  Are you high! 

Quite possibly.  Let’s examine the facts, the yin and yang of the situation, the joy and challenge that Hannah and I face.

Otesaga Inn in Cooperstown, New York

It’s my brother’s daughter who is getting married.  Richard is just a good guy, generous in the extreme.  He’ll drop everything to help a friend; get a cat out of a tree, always ready for a good time.  Classic good guy. He’s one for the yin side.

On the yin side, all the wedding guests are required to be vaccinated or have a negative Covid test. The wedding itself is outside as is the cocktail hour.

To those rowing with the yang side, the dinner is indoors. 

But the yin remains strong!  Despite all the news of the breakthrough cases of the Delta Variant, vaccinated folks like Hannah and myself have the one in 5000 chance of getting Covid.  And one in 10,000 if folks, like we are, are cautious (i.e. wear masks) in dealing with the general public.  I like that math.  Always liked the science.

Yang does have that ICUs in hospitals are bursting with distressed and dying Covid patients.

Yin responds that these are mostly unvaccinated folks.  And if vaccinated folks get Covid they are very likely be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.  I like our odds

I bet you can see where this is going.  We are going to the wedding.  Bottom line is that reasonable precautions have been taken and we are vaccinated.

Through this daunting pandemic challenge, we will have this moment of joy.  My yin yang.

Words – 264

Dan and Letting Go – KGUA #61

Created with GIMP

For the September 20, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are told that So many people are free with their advice and say, “just let it go!” sounds like a buzz phrase. BUT, if you did “let something go, what would it be?”

Today was the day Hannah and I were supposed to be flying back from San Francisco to Boston after concluding our two weeks in California with three days with our friends, Scott and Tree, in Gualala, California (150 miles north of San Francisco).  We also had plans to meet up with KGUA’s own Peggy and Mark, the folks who have generously given us airtime to share our weekly freewriting. 

Alas, all does not go as planned.

One week before Hannah and I were to leave for hiking in Yosemite and Redwood National Parks, we cancelled our trip primarily because of the widespread wildfires throughout California. The Delta Variant of Covid contributed to our decision, too.

Did I/we make the right decision?  I believe so.  And the added benefit is that I let go of any second guessing of our decision.  I moved forward and planned a local road trip in Maine for three days. We’d drive the entire length of Route One, some 530 miles, from Kittery in the south to Fort Kent in the north.  I let go of judging and doubting our decision.

And then on our second day, we are pumped for the four-mile Coastal Trail along the cliffside at Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec, Maine. Soon, the trail began to deteriorate with steep, muddy, rooted descents followed by challenging climbs. In short order, the hike slipped into the “no fun” category. With that, we bailed.

Did we make the right decision not to complete the challenging loop trail that we had planned?  You bet.  In addition, I didn’t second guess our decision and put the doubts away in the closet and took the rehashing to the pantry

Letting go is not a fully formed behavior of mine. It will take practice and more practice for me not to fall back into the mythology of what might have been.

Words – 266

From the Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations of Wisdom, Perseverance, and The Art of Living by Ryan Holliday and Stephen Hanselman

When you set your mind to a task, do you always follow through? Don’t let yourself become a prisoner of that kind of determination. Conditions change. New facts come in. Circumstances arise. The point is not to have an iron will, but an adaptable will. Flexibility is its own kind of strength.

Route One from York to Quoddy Head is in fact much closer to the coast

Dan and Hannah, the Delta Variant, and the Wildfires in California – September 2021

Yesterday morning (September 1, 2021) Hannah and I were preparing for our Saturday departure to LAX for two weeks of friends and hiking in California.  I’d just set up pickleball with our Santa Barbara friends, Bill and Claudia, while the confirmation of our Air B&B lodging in Mariposa, at the gateway to Yosemite National Park, had arrived.

Yesterday afternoon everything changed.  The straws of not traveling to California became too many.  (Sort of straw vote!)  The Delta Variant of Covid and the wildfires outweighed the excitement of our Golden State fortnight adventure.

Straw One, so much had changed since I made our Delta Airlines reservations in March of 2021.  The vaccine was readily available and returning to our active lives, sooner than later, seemed like a given.  First the Delta Variant, and then the wildfires.

Straw Two, Tuesday we learned that all national forests were to be closed in California so that meant hiking into the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara was out.

Straw Three, already the Caldor Fire blocked our drive from Yosemite to South Lake Tahoe; ten thousand people have been evacuated from the area.

Straw Four, with the wildfires still out of control, we were looking at the possibility of Yosemite closing, having to hike with masks, and breathing intolerable smoke.

Yosemite NP is to the south of the Caldor Fire

Straw Five, the realization that getting to the McArthur Burney Falls in northern California may be impossible and if we did, we’d likely see a trickle of water due to the historic twenty year drought in the West.

Straw Six, vaccinated folks like us are getting Covid, which was an unknown development this past March. 

There was just too much hanging over our heads to make it the 75th birthday national parks vacation that I was hoping for.  True, I’m just 73, but you get the point. Covid has made many of us wanting to travel now before the next pandemic or climate catastrophe.  Yes, climate change is real.

So how much money did we lose?

We don’t pay for our 15-day $1276 Enterprise rental car until we actually get the car.  Cancelled with no charge.

All the motels we signed up for allow us to cancel until the last day or two.  No charge.

The $315 two-night Air B&B in Mariposa for our September 9 and 10 stay had a full refund policy if we cancelled by September 4.  No charge.

Delta gave us e-credit for our plane tickets that we can use on another Delta flight if we make reservations by December 31, 2022.

Money was never the issue, the possibility of hiking with masks, breathing nasty wildfire smoke and closed trails were ultimately the key straws that has us postpone our two weeks in California.

California, we are not giving up on you!  Winter 2022!

Dan’s Wearing a Mask Again (August 2021)

Though fully vaccinated since February 2021, this morning I wore my cloth mask into our gym, Coastal Fitness, in Kittery due to the emergence of the Delta variant.  I didn’t see any other masks among the seniors or the young dudes lifting weights.  I wore one into the Nike Outlet store when I was buying new athletic shoes for pickleball; a few others were wearing masks, including all the sales staff.  Even for fifteen seconds, I slip on my mask to pick up take-out chicken burritos from Loco Coco’s Tacos. 

There is no mandate to wear a mask indoors in Maine as of August 13, 2021.  As it turns out, Mainers are getting the message being second in the country having 97.7% fully vaccinated adults 65 and over.  (Vermont blows everyone out of the water at 99.6%!!  You go Green Mountaineers!) 

Maine is second for adults eighteen and over that are fully vaccinated at 68.8% while Vermont crushes it at 70.3%.

Let me say that I don’t wear a mask outdoors playing pickleball, biking on our country roads, walking on the Maine shoreline, nor when friends are over on our front deck.  I don’t wear it at our gym when I am stepping on the elliptical nor pedaling on the recumbent.

So why do I wear a mask indoors when I don’t have t? 

I just want the people I come in contact with to have a better chance of not getting Covid.  As a vaccinated Mainer, I know I could be asymptomatic and pass the virus to another.  If I do pass it on to a vaccinated one, it’s unlikely they will have any more than mild cold symptoms.

If I do pass the virus on to an unvaccinated one, I’m sorry, so be it.  They chose not to get vaccinated when there are vaccines for everyone!  By wearing a mask, I am looking out for the greater good and the unvaccinated as well, who are the reason I am wearing a mask at all.

Wearing a mask is my small rock thrown in the pond rippling good health for us all.

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 Voices in His Head – KGUA #45

For the April 19, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to free write about what that voices in our head are telling us. 

Yo, Danny Boy.  Sup?

I gotta say it’s been a tough year.  All this coronavirus stuff.  But, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

What!  That’s the best you can do, that tired old cliché.  There’s got to be more stirring around in your noggin!

Okay, here’s a thought.  In the main, I think too many Americans don’t give a rat’s patootie about other Americans dying from the coronavirus and that’s why they bristle at the restrictions.

Whoa.  You know, over half million have died.

Oh, no question.  But after 14 months Americans have done the math and like their odds.

Back up.  Explain that one to me. 

Think about it. There are 340 million Americans.  If 600,000 die from the coronavirus, that’s less than two-tenths of one percent who go to the Great Beyond.

And if that’s the calculus, people think why mask, avoid restaurants and concerts, and miss out on big weddings?  They just don’t care because they think it just ain’t going to happen to them.

While I chew on that, got anything lighter to end on?

No, I don’t.  Can you believe that Americans were really paying that much attention to their seventh grade math teacher!

Words – 201

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 and Hannah Pay It Forward – Pandemic Style – KGUA #40

Winter evening in York

Funny how paying it forward works.  Let me explain.

The best gift, bar none, Hannah and I ever received as parents was when someone would take our young kids so we could get away for some “us” time.  League leaders in this category were my mom and dad.  Regularly, they would settle into our house in York, Maine with Molly, Robyn, and Will while Hannah and I would take two nights going up the coast to Camden.

Circa 1945 My mom and dad in the Pacific during WWII

With the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic, Hannah and I have a chance to pay it forward with our daughter Molly’s family.  Our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6), have been remote schooling and hanging with their parents going on 12 months. 

Now that Hannah and I are two weeks past our second Pfizer vaccine for Covid, we are set to have the boys for our famous 24 Hours of Owen and Max.  Molly and her hubby Tip get to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

The first weekend in March is still winter in Maine.  Highs this Saturday are in the upper 20s; though the sunshine adds a few degrees, the wind takes away a few more.

The Home Depot Kids’ Workshop has been cancelled, the York Public Library is not an option.  Basically it’s the great outdoors.

Taking the boys to the mailbox, Hannah turns toward the icy pond in our front yard.  The boys have their plastic sleds and we all have struck outdoor gold.

After an early lunch, we pile into our Prius for George Derby’s place on the Atlantic where we hunt for sea glass, explore the rocky coastline, and get nicely surprised by George just returning from clamming. 

Sea glass hunting
With Owen, George is just back from clamming with a peck of clams, which is about 15 pounds of clams
Owen with the clam fork

Just north of George’s place is the Fort McClary State Park for further exploring and a short trail hike.

A wintry 28F on the coast of Maine at Fort McClary State Park
Cannons that protected the Maine coast in days gone by
Owen, Max, and their Omi at Fort McClary

After three hours outside, we all return to our Chases Pond Road place.  The boys settled in with a Netflix movie, Bigfoot Family, while I go to the York House of Pizza for dinner.  Then Hannah and I have a glass of wine to toast our extended family.

After their large pepperoni pizza and our mushroom, we play cards, Sevens and Sh-theed.  Bedtime by 730P leaves us all ready for a good night’s sleep.

Next morning, Hannah makes omelets-to-order.  Max choses cheese while and Owen opts for onion.

Twenty fours after I picked up the boys, I return them to their pop.

It was one of the best 24 hours of the entire winter!  As you can see, paying it forward has multiple winners!

Max and his cheesy omelet
Owen digs onions in his omelet

By the way, when asked to rate Bigfoot Family from one to ten (ten being high), no surprise that the children of a math educator (their mom Molly) would rate the movie a 9.7 (Owen) and 9.9 (Max).

Dan’s Tiny Love Story

Ithaca, New York

Each weekend, I go to Mr. Mike’s convenience store on Route One in York, Maine for the Sunday New York Times.  A favorite section of ours is Sunday Styles.  Within it, there is the Modern Love essay, a personal narrative about love, loss, and redemption.  Their words, not mine.

In 2018, the Times added a 100-word mini called Tiny Love StoriesTell Us Your Love Story.  Just Keep It Really Short.  We’re looking for all the emotion that’s fit to print — in no more than 100 words.

I thought I’d try my hand at one.

Montecito, California

We had the time of our lives sophomore year.  As juniors, we broke up; she needed time and space, I left for Arizona with my broken heart.  A couple of years later she came west, we married, eventually to return east to raise a family.  In retirement we spent winters in California.  All set to go again this Covid year, we learned that California was under a Stay-at-Home order.  Technically, we could have gone if we quarantined, but Hannah didn’t want to go.  I did.  It was my Covid valentine for her.

Words – 92

I submitted my Tiny Love Story to the Times earlier this week.  They asked for pictures so I included these two. I’ll keep you updated. 

Click here to read past Tiny Love Stories. Click here for the guidelines for the Tiny Love Stories