Dan Moves Forward – KGUA #88

For May 23, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:

Moving Forward.

I am moving forward from the external and my self-imposed restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As far as I know I have never had Covid-19 in the two plus years since it came to America about 7 PM on March 12, 2020.  I guess I could have had it and been asymptomatic, but I don’t think so.

Currently, I do not isolate to such an extent that I couldn’t get it.  I just feel that since I have been vaccinated and booster-ed twice, I won’t get so sick even though I am in the danger zone – over 65.

I am aware that the son of a friend of Hannah’s in his forties, mind you, got Covid, soon was on a ventilator, got better, then didn’t, and died.  So Covid, the killer could get anyone.  I’m not invulnerable.  But I am not scared.  I am moving forward.

Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park

I’ll continue to hike with my old friend Bill in Acadia National Park as I did last week.  I’ll play pickleball with two of the good guys  Fran and Steve, as I did earlier this week.  I’ll go to outdoor birthday parties as I did last Saturday to the 8th birthday party of our grandson Max with 24 people.  I didn’t think of Covid once.  I’m changing my mindset and moving on from Covid on the brain.

For the two years Covid has been a part of me, but it no longer drives the bus as it once did.  I’ll move forward being Covid-smart but living large.  At 74, I have no time to waste.  Do any of us?

Words – 267

Dan and Why I Write – KGUA #87

For May 16, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:

Why I write.

I write to be known and to tell my story.  That my life mattered in the big picture.

By nature, I am shy and introverted.  Shy being overly concerned about what others think and introverted in that I get my energy from being in twos, threes, and fours, not in large groups.

I’m often in the background.  I was on the periphery in my youth (and by that I mean into my twenties). 

I wanted to be noticed, but that was easier said than done.  As introverts do, I did find my niche with a small group of friends in high school, a roommate and  later a sweetheart in college, and as a part of group of five at Arizona State University. 

As a sixth grade teacher of 30-35 diverse elementary school students at Nevitt Elementary in Phoenix, Arizona, in the 1970s, I could organize and lead students, but I wasn’t all I could be as a teacher until…

…until in 1983 at the University of New Hampshire, I took a summer workshop in the teaching of writing with the premise that to learn to teach writing teachers must write themselves. 

The unintended consequence of that understanding was that I now had way to express myself through writing.  At last I could tell my story in my writing.  The words on the page gave me the belief that what I thought and did mattered.

Today, I write weekly for KGUA radio and post my travel blogs on Saturdays.  Such writing allows me to be known and regularly tell my story.    

Words – 252

Dan and a Fifth Chamber in his Heart – KGUA #86

For May 9, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt: If you added a fifth chamber to your heart, what would its purpose be?

First, thank you Anne (companion KGUA writer who suggested this out-there prompt).  I love it, even though I initially had no idea what I would do with it.  Second, thank you Mark for embracing out-of-the-box writing.  I think that is a major reason for the longevity and success of KGUA writers.

Of course, I had to look up the what the other four chambers were for.  For those still wondering, the two upper chambers receive the blood while the two lower chambers pump blood out of the heart.

Got it.

What if the fifth chamber is, in fact, a room at the heart of the house that Hannah and I have called home for forty years?  

You see, our two upper chambers are the two bedrooms where our three children, Molly, Robyn, and Will grew and came of age.  Our two lower chambers are our first floor bedroom and our dining room/kitchen.

Our fifth chamber is the fireplace room off the kitchen.  Now that our kids have grown and made their way in the world, Hannah and I sit most evenings in front of our propane fireplace with a glass of wine – checking in and mellowing out.

The purpose of this chamber is to keep our hearts beating as one and as two and to keep our love light burning. 

Words – 215

Dan and His Trouble with Books – KGUA #85

For May 2, 2022 (which would have been my mother’s 101st birthday. She did live to ripe ole 92.) KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt: Where was/is your favorite place to get a book?   

(Editor’s note: I tried to follow directions and freewrite about my favorite place to get a book, but it just didn’t happen.  I am in the ballpark, though.)

People may assume when they learn that I once taught writing at the middle school and college level that I was an English major.  My goodness no!  My few English courses were never about writing but about lit-ra-chure.  My teachers, doing the best they could, only assigned reading; they didn’t help me relate the stories to my life and my challenges.

As such, I wasn’t much of reader.  Oh, I’d read the Sports section of the Sunday New York Times or devour my weekly subscription to Sports Illustrated.   But books, not a chance.

One big problem for me was I never got to choose what I wanted to read.  Through my schooling, the driest and most impenetrable books were assigned.  I cringe when I remember Ethan Frome or anything by Dickens.  God forbid someone helped me translate Shakespeare since it was in a foreign language as far as I was concerned. 

Willy himself

No surprise I learned to avoid reading books, but knew it was necessary if I was to go to college.  First born obedient, I submitted, endured, and surrendered.  Not a pretty picture indeed. When I graduated from Arizona State University at the age of 22, I thought at last, I can finally read what I want.

I’ll drop my Danny Downer persona for a moment and return to the question.  I get my books from the York Public Library.  Currently, I am reading David Brill’s As Far As The Eye Can See: Reflections of an Appalachian Trail Hiker. 

As an adult, I choose what I read and get to stop a book after thirty pages if it hasn’t grabbed me.

The word on the street is that students have more choices in what they read.  Hallelujah, brother! 

Words – 258

Dan and What is My Happy? – KGUA #84

For April 11, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:

What is Your Happy?

My happy often occurs over breakfast out.  It’s early and I’m fresh.  Sometimes I’ve played nine holes of sunrise golf on a course that hasn’t woken up yet.  Or I’ve taken a walk beforehand so I am warmed up for my first cup of coffee. 

I am a decafe guy at home, no cream, no sugar.  On the road it’s regular.  Why?  Regular coffee is just served hotter in diners and restaurants.  Fewer folks choose decafe so that it is often served lukewarm.  I also have the waitperson fill my cup 2/3 to the brim.  The coffee stays hotter longer.  Free refills are a must like I am served at the Morning Buzz Café in Amesbury, Massachusetts or at the Rollerville Café in Point Arena, California. 

Often I have just a muffin because my happy is not about the food or the coffee; it’s about the company.  I want to have breakfast with someone who is curious.  Certainly curious about me and my life as I am about theirs.  Someone who talks about their relationships and listens to mine.  Someone who shares their excitement for life with me and looks for hearing about the wow that is going on in my life. 

Fact is breakfast out with a friend is my happy.   I go away from such people energized and fully caffeinated ready to rock and roll my day, 

Words – 225

Dan and Hannah Meet the KGUA Superstars, Then Hike the Bluff Trail at Sea Ranch, California

Hannah and I have four big draws in Gualala that make us want to drive 500 miles from Carpinteria to this village 150 miles north of San Francisco.  First is Scott and Tree, our friends from York; they knock themselves out to make our time together filled with breakfasts out, hiking, and time to chill each evening.

Staff Photo by Herb Swanson, Sun, Oct 28, 2001: Scott and Tree (Theresa) Mercer run near their home in Cape Neddick Sunday. The couple will run the New York City marathon to raise money for the Firefighters World Trade Center Fund. Theresa’s cousin, John Crisci, was a member of squad 288 died in the WTC attacks.

The other two draws to the area are Mark and Peggy of KGUA radio in Gualala.  Peggy built a public service radio station from the ground up and was open to Mark’s idea to create a regular weekly segment for KGUA writers.  That decision has fueled my creative instincts since the spring of 2020 when Covid shut down my world.

Hannah with Tree at the KGUA studios
Peggy and Mark in their KGUA studio

Over lunch at the KGUA studios, Hannah and I meet our inspirations.  By the way, did you know that Hannah is also a KGUA writer?  While I submit my KGUA free write by a voice memo and later publish it in my blog on Mondays, Hannah has our daughter Molly, with the occasional pinch-hitting by her brother Will, to read her free write onto a voice memo, then send it on to Mark.

Mark, Dan, Hannah, and Peggy at the KGUA studios

Peggy and Mark are as gracious and welcoming as I had imagined. KGUA is a public station which airs news, science, politics, and music. It is a project of the Native Media Resource Center whose mission is to produce educational materials about Native American and Indigenous communities in order to promote harmony and cross-cultural understanding.

After lunch, Hannah and I drive a simple mile south on The 101 from Mendocino County into northern Sonoma County to the Gualala Point Regional Park. There we have access to the bluff trail of the exclusive (and by that I mean uber-pricey) Sea Ranch.

As a community developed in the 1960s as a getaway for city-bound Californians, Sea Ranch, of late, has been a refuge for upscale IT folks who can work remotely. The community includes swimming pools, tennis courts, and, yes, pickleball courts.

On an unseasonably warm (mid-60s) early February afternoon on the northern California coast, Hannah hike four plus miles round trip high above the Pacific Ocean.  Let my pictures take you there.

The bluffs of Sea Ranch
An example of one of the 2000 Sea Ranch domiciles; this one along the bluff trail
The bluffs above the rocky northern California coast
Sea Ranch houses along the bluff trail
Crashing waves
The afternoon sun

Thoroughly satisfied, Hannah and I return to our “Tree and Scott B&B” to rest up and chill with Wordle, the five-letter word game recently bought by the New York Times for $2 million.  Playing Wordle daily, we love the challenge and that the game is not a time suck.  There is only one word game per day.  Try Wordle here and be a part of the Hannah and Dan daily word challenge community.

Dan and His Inner Critic – KGUA #83

For April 4, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:

Your Inner Critic…  What does it tell you?

My Inner Critic and I are not on speaking terms.  I’ve pissed him off of late.  Let me explain.

Do you know Byron Katie?  She wrote Loving What IsRun, don’t walk to get this book.

Anyway, she’s all for accepting and embracing reality.  Stop with the negative self-judgment, dare I say letting the Inner Critic run rough shod over you.  Deal with life as it is, not how you believe you deserve it to be. 

Ergo, my Inner Critic has had less to work with. 

Take a recent case from this past week.  Hannah and I are traveling with our daughter Molly’s family of four to Utah in mid-April 2022.  Last May 2021, I booked a condo for four days in Moab, the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. 

And then this past January, I booked another condo for those same four days.  I totally forgot about the first booking.  Covid on the brain?  My advanced years?  Poor record keeping?  Living in the present?  Who knows?  I just double booked.  Sue me!

I realized the double booking just this week, less than three weeks before our departure for the Beehive State.  You see, at this point the first condo was now paid in full and the second half of the balance for the second condo was due on the first of April.

Different from the past, this time I gave my Inner Critic nothing to work with.  Stuff happens.   Without my Inner Critic muddling things, I went back and forth with the two condo owners and got it down to where we’d lose just $400 instead $1200.  That seemed like a win to me.

My Inner Critic is just so bummed. 

Oh, I stumble and not love what is all the time, but, in general, I’m starving my Inner Critic. 

Gee, it only took 74 years.

Words – 295

Dan Has a Road Trip Conversation – KGUA #82

For March 21, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt: You’ve gotten into your car as a driver or as a passenger for a journey. Where are you going? Why?

My Conversation with my Inner Self About Road-tripping

The Inner Dan:  Let me get this right! You think a good road trip to the Mountain West begins by flying to Salt Lake City!  What are you smoking?

Dan Himself:   Here me out.  At my age, driving cross country from Maine is no longer in the cards.  Call me soft.   You see, if I fly to Salt Lake City, I can then rent a car and have my road trip start there. I’ll drive four hours to Moab in eastern Utah near the Colorado border.

The Inner DanHmmm, you are not as dumb as you look.  Go on.  Why Moab?

Dan HimselfYou know, I’m a little OCD and a little bit ADHD.  It’s a little like Donnie and Marie Osmond being a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.  To address my need to move and groove, I look for the wide open spaces of the west to get on my Outdoor Zen.  What better place than hiking the high desert of Arches National Park.

The Inner DanCome on, isn’t this really about your Fitbit obsession, dare I say neurosis of getting at least 10,000 steps every single day?

Dan Himself: Whoa big fella.  Settle down. That’s a little judgmental, wouldn’t you say?

The Inner DanPerhaps, but true nonetheless.

Dan Himself: You got me there.  But let me continue.  I’m not going alone.  In time, Hannah and I will take all of our grandchildren.  We’ll spend a portion of their inheritance traveling with them so they come to believe the outdoor life is as common as breathing and dreaming.

The Inner DanI had no idea you were this deep.  Can I come along?

Dan Himself: You know, I’d never leave you behind.  But you are flying coach.

Words – 264

Dan on His Biggest Fear – KGUA #80

For February 28, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt: What is Your Biggest Fear?

I am not sure I have a biggest fear.  Maybe a biggest sadness.  That would be if our kids or our grandkids died unexpectedly.  But I don’t fear their dying.  Why worry about something that is quite unlikely to happen and I have little control over?  Even so, I’d be very sad for days, weeks, or months, and then I’d focus on the good times I had with them. 

Folks might wonder if I fear dying at the age of 74.  I don’t.  I’ve lived so many years healthy, modestly wealthy, and occasionally wise.  I definitely don’t want to be in pain or a mess physically or mentally during my golden years.  Dying on a mountaintop, now that would be a win!

Hannah dying?  Don’t fear that either.  Sad to the max, short-term. But I’d celebrate her life with a party, a really big party.  Everyone who wanted could tell a Hannah story. I’d tear up again and again.  And every day after I would think fondly of our 50+ years together.  50 years together!  How could I complain!  I’d have so many memories and hundreds of blogs where she was the star of the show.

It would be similar to when my mother died at 92.  I was just so happy for her since she was more than ready to go to the Great Beyond.  I celebrate our many times together.

Worry?  At times, mostly unnecessarily so.  Scared?  Sure, if I was in physical danger.  Stressed?  Yeah, especially with not enough sleep.  Fearful?  I am workshopping that slowly out of my life.  I’ll not waste time fearing what might happen since, in my experience, our fears usually don’t happen. 

Words – 270

Dan on His Birthday – KGUA #81

For March 7, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt: What’s Your Favorite Way to Spend Your Birthday?

First of all, having a birthday two days after Christmas is not what I would call good planning by my parents.  Or was it? 

Shrewdly, they could give me an “extra special” present and have it count for both Christmas and my birthday.  Those of you with late December birthdays know my pain.

Here’s a shock for regular KGUA listeners, I would spend my birthday in California.  Even if I had to get a 6 AM flight from Boston, I’d arrive before noon at LAX for my birthday to really get going. 

I’d take the PCH (you know I am California wannabe when I use the acronym for the Pacific Coast Highway) (fact is I’ve already dropped LAX for the airport in Los Angeles.)  But I digress, I’d take the PCH up Malibu way and stop off at Zuma Beach to just get my toes in the sand and breathe in the salt air. 

Google directs me right to The 101, but I would go along the coast through Malibu to Oxnard

In no time I’d take The 101 (doesn’t The 101 with a capitalized The mid-sentence  scream California!). Anyway, I’d take The 101 to the little village that has become our winter home away from home – Carpinteria.  Waiting there would be our fat tire, one-speed cruisers for Hannah and me to ride on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean.  

Late afternoon, I’d head to the Muni courts in Santa Barbara for pickleball with our friends, ex-pats from Japan and farmers from Virginia.

Sunset wine on the protective sand berm at Carpinteria with Hannah tops off my Left Coast birthday.  Did I tell you that I am applying for dual citizenship?

Maine and California!

Words – 257