Dan and Hannah are Stunned re: Shingles!

Shingles is such a benign name for this nasty, painful skin disease.  If you have a strong stomach, Google “shingles” to see images of the unpleasant rashes that occur most anywhere on one’s body.  In her position as activities director at a local nursing home, Hannah cringed at the debilitating pain and suffering from shingles in her elderly population.

Shingles image

Let me back up.  Our primary care physician at Kittery Family Practice (Maine) suggested we get the new, improved two-shot series of shingles vaccinations.  Six years ago we got the original shingles shot, which turned out to be only 50% effective.  The new series ramps up the success rate to 90%.  If two out of three ain’t bad (Meatloaf standard), I’m all in on nine out of ten!

Shingles syringe

So, in early October 2019 Hannah and I received the first round of our shingle shots administered by the pharmacist at the local Hannaford Supermarket and were surprised it cost $172 each.  Okay, it’s an important vaccination so we pony up, thinking surely that covers both the first and second shot, which we must get in two to six months.

Nooooo.  Today I have the second shot for another $124.  As a couple nearly 72, we wondered if our Medicare covered shingles shots.  That’s a big N-O.  See Appendix A below for why not.

To updated you on shingles, here’s a brief description from the Mayo Clinic website.  Click here for the full story.

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash…shingles can occur anywhere on your body.  It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.  After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain.  Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.  If one is 60 or older, there is a significant increase in the risk of complications.

Shingles syringe 2

$296 each seems like a small price to pay to prevent such misery.  And it is…

…for the upper middle class.  Hannah and I can each pay for these injections without missing a beat, but…

…but what about those in the middle class, working class, let alone in the poorer half of Americans?   The cost means many will just go without this preventive measure.  I can only imagine that the cost of treating the disease in clinics and hospitals will be far more than $300 for shingles shots.  Let alone the pain!

There’s got to be a better way to insure the health of the American public!

Shingles United

Appendix A for those on Medicare – The AARP United Health Care site states that unlike some common vaccines, like those for the flu, hepatitis B and pneumonia, shingles shots are not covered under Medicare Part B, the component of original Medicare that includes doctor visits and outpatient services. Part A, which deals with hospital costs, doesn’t cover shingles shots either.

Dan and Hannah’s Ogunquit (Maine) Morning

Og Will, Laurel, and Brooks

Will and Laurel with one year old Brooks

Yesterday morning after six days in York, our son Will, his wife Laurel, and our one-year old grandson, Brooks, left for home, 400 miles away in Ithaca, New York.  Good times.  Welcoming each day, we coffee-ed, feasted on Hannah’s biscuits, and talked real, albeit all the while being semi-distracted by their high motor toddler.

Og map

After four days of Arizona heat and Georgia humidity here on the coast of Maine, we wake this Sunday at 530A to a quiet morning chill (62F); we even pull on long sleeve tee-shirts for comfort in this delightful summer cool.  Skipping our usual morning stretches and meditation, we drive seven miles to Ogunquit (the next town north of York) to walk its expansive beach.

Typically in summer, we avoid Ogunquit like a plague of locusts because of the out of control congestion along Route One through town and impossible parking (and by that I mean, it’s not free).

But… just three days ago on an early July 4 morning, Hannah and I biked to Ogunquit where we’d learned that the massive beach-side parking lot is free until 8A!  Ergo, if we arrive early, we can park for free, walk for an hour plus on the beach, and return home for a relaxed breakfast.

Og 1 parking lot

Early morning at the parking lot at the beach in Ogunquit

Once at the Atlantic Ocean, on a beach just waking up with tourists and locals, we take to the sand to walk north into the wind; a muted sun behind sketchy clouds leads us towards Moody (the next small town).

Og 1A expansive beach

Ogunquit Beach with low tide still 2+ hours away

Immediately, a smiling man approaches and says, It’s just going to get colder.  WTF!

What’s that all about?  A. Is he just a negative sort who wanted to point out that our morning in paradise was not going to be as good as we think?  (but then why the genuine smile?)  B.  He’s joking (and just isn’t very funny).  C. It’s just an awkward spur of the moment comment (something we all can be guilty of).  D. He genuinely wanted us to bundle up, concerned for our comfort (please, it was in the low 60s!).   E.  God only knows.

Even so, I give you the Ogunquit Beach early on the first Sunday in July.

Og 1C H on beach

With the Ogunquit harbor in the distance, Hannah braces against the wind

Og 1D seagulls

The dunes between the beach and tidal Ogunquit River

Og 1F seagulls in formation

The Alpha Gull leading a ragtag flock who have no concept of what a formation is

 

Og 2 H by moody cottages

Hannah with the “cottages” of Moody, Maine, 30 minutes after we began our walk

 

Og 2B close up of no loitering

“Private Beach No Loitering”  There are 200 yards of sand between this seawall and the low tide mark.  Someone has issues.

Og 2C North beach Og sign

Og 2D H on lifeguard chair

In Moody with Ogunquit in the distance

Og 2E yoga class

Early morning yoga on the beach near the main parking lot

We arrive back at the parking lot just before 8A to avoid the daily fee that had not been posted when we arrived.  It is now.  See below.

Og 3 $30 parking

On the way home, we pop into the Cumberland Farms for the Sunday New York Times with its many sections which lasts us all week!

Og 1A cumby nyt

Once home on Chases Pond Road, I feel peace and love in my Namaste World with my Peet’s decaf, Hannah’s biscuits with blueberry jam, and the sports page of the Sunday Times all thanks to our Ogunquit Morning.

Og 4 on the front deck

Danny Loves Hannah – 47 Years and Counting

47 wooster

Today Hannah and I celebrate our 47th Wedding Anniversary.  In 1966, we met in Ohio at the College of Wooster, a small (1500 students), self-contained liberal arts college.  Ergo, it was no surprise that many of us first-year students were in the same classes.  In our case, I sat as close as I could, but not creepily so, to Hannah in Sociology 101 and French 103.  We also played on the tennis teams.

During our first year, Hannah, quite understandably, was hotly pursued by first-year guys as well upperclassmen.  Me?  Pursued?  Not so much.  My shyness and horned rim glasses might have had something to do with that.

I was biding my time, hoping the meteors at Wooster would flame out.

47 H at zion

Zion National Park, Observation Point Trail overlooking the Virgin River Valley (Btw, my favorite all-time picture)

Out of the blue, the summer after our first year at Wooster, I received a post card from Hannah while she was a counselor at a summer camp at Moss Lake near Old Forge, NY.

To say the least, I was pumped to return to Wooster for our sophomore year and ask Hannah out.  By that fall as nineteen year-olds, we were dating.  For one who didn’t date in high school, it was the time of my life.  We’d go to the TUB (Temporary Union Building) for cake topped with soft serve ice cream for 25 cents.  We’d play honeymoon bridge in the common area of her Wagner Hall dorm.

Later that fall, we went to the Homecoming Dance at Severance Gym.  The home to varsity basketball and dances, Severance Gym was so small that students sitting on the lowest of the six rows of bleachers had their feet on the basketball court during the game.  That night with the lights low, we slow danced all night long.

Later that night, we walked around campus, holding hands, and eventually found ourselves slipping into the empty chapel on campus.  Without much subtly, I lead Hannah to the balcony in the back of the church; we kissed for the first time.

47 ithaca 2

Taughannock Falls, Ithaca, NY, circa 2019

That sophomore year was life at its best.  Junior year not so much.  Our relationship faltered and we became “friends,” a détente that was not of my choosing.

After our junior year, I took my broken heart out West by transferring to Arizona State University.  Hannah stayed at Wooster, graduating with honors in 1970.

During the following school year, I taught fifth and sixth graders social studies, science, and Spanish at Patrick Henry School in Anaheim, California while Hannah taught elementary physical education at Thornell Road Elementary in Pittsford, New York.  We wrote letters to stay in some touch.  Phone calls were few and far between as the price of a call was $30 per hour back in the day.

47 map of az

47 young D and H

Circa 1976

In an effort to see what magic we might have, Hannah moved to Arizona in October of 1971 where I soon had a job teaching fourth graders at Holdemann Elementary School in Tempe, Arizona.  Time together in the desert climate worked for we married on July 1, 1972 on a Penfield, New York hill where her dad grew Christmas trees.

47 five kids

Our “kids” [Tip, Molly, Will, Laurel, and Robyn] circa 2016

Molly (1979) and Robyn (1981) were born at Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa, Arizona.  In 1982, we moved to New England to raise our family in a small town (York).  Once Will came (1983), we wrote and still write our love story on the coast of Maine for now 37 years.

With all the errors and bumps in the road in our life, we had some Ws based on…

47 ithaca

Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca, New York, circa 2019

Hannah’s belief in me that allowed my confidence to grow.  My encouragement of her to let her true self shine through.  We valued experiences over things. We sat and talked most evenings in front of the fireplace when cold and on our deck when warmer.  We celebrated each other’s small victories.

47 in cali

Point Reyes National Seashore (California coast north of San Francisco), circa 2016

I developed a voice such that I had the confidence to become a university professor at the age of 51.  With courage, she at 55, pursued her dream job – cutting hair in a nursing home and in the homes of the housebound.  She willingly came along on my wanderlust travels throughout the United States when home was her journey of choice.

I hit the jackpot going to the College of Wooster where I met the girl of my dreams who turned into the love of my life.

Dan Loves his Fitbit

Hannah and I have been over-the-top uber exercisers forever.  We began running the canal paths of Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona as twenty-somethings.  Each with a degree in physical education, we were road runners for thirty years until, in our mid-50s, our knees creaked, No mas.  Putting the uber into uber-rageous, we biked the 190-mile Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia with its 15 degree mountain inclines; we both believe that’s the most difficult physical challenge we ever attempted.  (How do you like that humble brag in the lead paragraph!)

Now into my seventies, I pickle, workout at the gym, play ping pong, and walk the trails and side roads of Maine and California.  I don’t need a Fitbit measuring my every step to know I am rocking active senior until…

Tau Fitbit

…this past January when our son Will and daughter-in-law Laurel sent Hannah and me Fitbits to the house where we were staying in California for the winter.

For those new to Fitbit-dom, Fitbits primarily register the steps one takes in a day; the default goal is 10,000 steps per day.  Fitbits calculate our weekly average as well as allow Hannah and me to compete playfully to see who gets the most steps during a work week.  In addition, Fitbits scroll vibrating messages that show me my latest text or email.

It turns out that being in temperate California in January and February was the ideal breeding ground to fall in Fitbit Love.  Away from the ice and cold of the New England winter, Hannah and I walked daily along the Pacific or through the town of Carpinteria to add to our pickleball and hiking step totals.

But what I never expected was that my Fitbit would enhance my active life in at least six ways.

Fitbit york harbor cliff walk

Cliff Walk at York Harbor

One, I just exercise more.  My Fitbit regular reminds me to get some more steps and think to walk to the Cliff Walk in York or for twenty minutes in our neighborhood.

Two, I just move more.  My Fitbit has vibrating and visual reminders to get me up and moving around when I sit at the computer or read and write on our front deck.

Three, when in the early afternoon, after picking up 6000 steps at the gym or 8000 playing pickleball, I say to Hannah I need a neighborhood walk to get to 10,000.   And so we do.

Fitbit pickleall

Four, I no longer just stand around waiting on the court when playing pickleball.  When the other players are chasing the ball, getting into position, or preparing to serve, I walk around to stay loose, and equally important, rack up valuable steps.

Five, I no longer just sit for long stretches on the sidelines waiting for my next turn to play pickleball; I walk around to stay loose and be less likely to pull a hammy or rip an Achilles.  I’m ready to play without being stiff from sitting.  (Just a thought.  Perhaps, considering their serious injuries in the NBA Finals, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson could use Fitbits.  I’m just saying.)

Six, I just dig the satisfying feedback that quantifies my activity.  The daily numbers reinforce that I am a mover and groover.

That’s Fitbit Love!

Here’s a Fitbit screen shot from my iPhone for June 21, 2019.  Notice the 17K+ steps for the day that came from an hour and 40 minutes of pickleball this morning, mowing 3/4 of our lawn this afternoon, and evening walk in the neighborhood with Hannah.  Do take note of the sweet nap I had earlier in the afternoon.  I thought it was 30 minutes, 40 tops.

Fitbit screen shot 2

Dan is Breaking Up with Facebook

Facebook Neil Sedaka

You gotta love Neil Sedaka’s classic “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.”  But in this case, it just doesn’t fit my divorce with Facebook after eight years.

Of late, I have been on a nine-month break from Facebook, but I just wasn’t ready to cut the cord completely.  The final straw was being reminded by David Brooks on a podcast (The Ted Interview) about the lack of meaningful connection that comes with a steady diet of social media.

Facebook no

Just because I wanted to break up, Facebook didn’t make it easy to sever ties (what they call deactivating).  It wasn’t exactly clear to me how to close my account.  My go-to response in tech uncertainty is to email our son Will for support.  But, before he responded, I thought, I bet if I googled “Closing your Facebook account,” I would find the key to unlock this door.  Ta-da!

Was the Russian hacking the reason?  No.  The ubiquitous ads?  Not really.

That I can be lazy and click on Facebook to just pass time (and by that, I mean waste time)?  Guilty as charged.

Primarily, though, I am disappointed that going on Facebook didn’t foster connections with others that I naively thought it might.  In fact, I think friendships wither when folks think posting on Facebook is enough to keep friendships going.

Facebook adios

So, I bid adieu to Facebook.  Adios, mi non-amigo.

By the way, Hannah has never had a Facebook account.  Wise beyond her years!

Dan Wonders If Being Hopeful is a Habit that Can Be Learned

Hannah and I get the New York Times most every Sunday.  For me, it was a tradition started by my parents back in the 1950s in New Jersey.  My Sunday morning begins with a cup of joe, one of Hannah’s biscuits, and the Sunday Sports section; next, before I try to decipher the Sunday Crossword with my trusty iPhone, I read the Sunday Styles section.

NYT sunday styles 2

The Sunday Styles section has the weekly Modern Love column which has folks writing about their relationships (e.g. For last Sunday (4.28.2019), the titled piece was It’s Not You, It’s Men: I re-evaluated my life after two long-term girlfriends broke up with me while coming out).

I then move on to Social Q’s by Philip Galanes who gives advice about, again, relationships.  (e.g. My good friend, who is white, is raising her young biracial daughter as a single mother.  She is a loving mom, but in my opinion, she has not given enough thought to helping her daughter form a healthy self-image as a person of color…)

I then move on to the wedding stories, and this is where I get to my point.  Cheese and rice, Dan, it’s about time!

NYT Small Victories anne lamott

Under the Vows heading, the piece is titled A Writer Finally Gets to That Happily-Ever-After Part.  It’s about Anne Lamott!  I have been a fanboy since the 1990s when she wrote the popular guide for writers, Bird by Bird.  She gives Ted Talks with humor and insight.  Click here for here for her entertaining 15-minute talk on 12 Truths.

In the review of her wedding to Neal Allen, Lois Smith Brady offers background on each one and how they met.  Married at 65, Anne says, Never give up, no matter how things look or how long they take.  Don’t quit before the miracle.

NYT Neil and Anne

Anne with Neil at their wedding

What caught my eye was this paragraph.  In some ways, they are opposites.  She [Anne] is afraid of almost everything, whereas he’s [Neil] afraid of almost nothing.  ‘It never occurs to me that anything will go wrong,’ he said.

That makes me think , could being fearful be a choice, not part of one’s DNA.  Many of us learn to be fearful at a young age and hone that “skill” over a lifetime.  But could it be that with some self-talk, or what some would call prayer, we can “reprogram” ourselves from looking for the possible pitfalls, the dangers, and the roadblocks to being hopeful.  I’m not suggesting the transition would be easy, but it seems feasible if one has the “want to” to transform from fearful to hopeful.

NYT choose hope 2

Case in point.  Hannah and I have water issues in our upstairs bathroom.  The stains on the plaster walls are disgusting.  With a  contractor coming in the weeks ahead, I am hopeful that any damage can be dealt with successfully.  I’ll not go down the path of what could go wrong.

Being hopeful, like getting to Carnegie Hall, takes practice, practice, practice.

Dan and Hannah See the Face of God on Easter

Dan, are you and Hannah home?  And if so, could I stop by and have a few minutes?

That’s unusual.  We can go weeks without dealing with our neighbor who wrote this text.  Wondering if anything is wrong, I respond, We are in Pennsylvania.  Be home manana.  Once home, we don’t hear from him and I pretty much forget about it.

Then, on Easter morning I get the exact same text.  Though Hannah and I are just heading for a mid-day walk at the Ogunquit (Maine) beach, I text back, Now is a good time.

Our neighbor is the classic good guy.  When we needed a hide-a-bed sofa removed from an upstairs room, he and his son come right over and moved it for us.  He always greets us warmly when Hannah and I walk the neighborhood.  He is a devout Christian who truly lives his faith.

Rainbow our driveway

Waiting on our driveway, we see him approach.  He says, How are you?  I mention that we are just back from seeing our grandson in New York.  He smiles, and then breaks down in tears.  Whoa!

Hannah and I both step forward and give him a group hug; he cries and doesn’t say anything.  Hannah wonders if someone died.  I wonder is he getting a divorce.  Does a child or grandchild have cancer?

Composing himself, he says, I think you know how much my faith means to me.  I try to be a good neighbor.  It’s been on my heart that I’ve wanted to say this to you.  We continue to hug and listen and wonder.   He pauses, head down, composing himself.

He looks up and continues with a smile, I think you know we come from different political perspectives.  I should say so.

Rainbow flag

So, is this about the rainbow flag we have flying on the busy road in front of our house.  Does he want us to take it down?  My mind races further thinking that that’s going to be a problem.  Our rainbow flag is a symbol of our support for our LGBT sisters and brothers, who are our friends and yes, in our family.

Composing himself again, he says, You two were there when I needed you last fall. I want you to know how much that meant to me.  While he was recovering, we brought soup and biscuits to his family; sat with him as we listened to his story of how it all happened.  While he was recuperating, we gave him bread.

We continue to hug, and then he relaxes and seems at peace.  I just wanted to let you know how much you mean to me.  We smile at each other as he says, You know, I’m there if you need me.  As he always has.

And then as soon as he came, he’s gone – walking back down our driveway.

I look to Hannah and say to her, we’ve just seen the face of God.  This is what Rev Rich Knight meant when he said, When you see acts of kindness and acts of love, (similar to what our neighbor just delivered to us), you see the face of God.

So glad we were home when God walked down our driveway this Easter morning.

Dan and Hannah Want to Introduce You to 4Ocean

4Ocean image

Hannah and I were blown away by this less than three minute video about the amazing amount of plastics in the ocean and what can be done about it.  Our daughter-in-law Laurel was moved to action to buy the bracelets when she saw the video as did my Arizona State college roommate Rich and his wife Mary.

Click on this link

https://4ocean.com/

Thank you, Mary.

4Ocean image

PS  From Time Magazine (April 1, 2019) – 88 pounds of plastic found in the belly of a dead whale that washed up in the Philippines on March 16!

 

Dan and Hannah and A Cool Yule Story

In a recent AARP magazine, I read about a giving tradition that Marlo Thomas and her husband Phil Donahue practiced with their grandchildren.  She is the outreach director for St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, one of the world’s leading pediatric cancer research centers.  She has thought about how to develop a generous heart.

The couple gave each of their grandchildren $40 and told them to give it away.  They’d take time figuring out what really mattered to them,” she recalls. “It showed that money isn’t just something you spend on yourself.  It grew their gratitude.  That’s what you’re trying to do with children: grow their spirit.”

DD rawding family

Max, Molly, Owen, and Tip

So, considering inflation, we gave our grandsons Owen (6) and Max (4) fifty dollars to give away.  We wrote a check to their mom, our daughter Molly, and knew if anything was going to happen it was because Molly and her hubby Tip would come up with something.  And did they ever!

Arriving on the Wednesday before Christmas to look after our grandsons, Hannah and I see that Max has an envelope for his library yoga teacher.  The poetic note said…

DD poem

Similar to the envelope given to the library yoga teacher

The boys gave envelopes with two $5 Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards enclosed to Owen and Max’s teachers, the mail lady, a guy at Trader Joe’s that is always friendly and kind, both story time librarians, and the boys’ babysitter.

It’s just brilliant.  So, thank you Molly, Tip, Marlo, and Phil for planting these seeds

Tolerance or Compassion?

Karen Armstrong writes in the Unity Magazine (Jan/Feb 2019),

Compassion symbol

       Tolerant is a word we should expunge from our vocabulary.  “To tolerate” means to put up with something.  It’s the language of the victor. Compassion is better because it puts you on the same level as others.  The truth is we simply can’t live without each other.

What do you think?  Your thoughts can inform us all.  Please comment in the space below.   Dan