Dan and Hannah Have a 40-year old

Back in the late 1970s, Hannah and I nearly gave up the idea of having children of our own.  As 30-somethings, we weren’t making things happen.

You see, after two years of trying during our 6th and 7th year of marriage, we were thinking that a family was just not in the cards and the Universe was dealing us jokers.  So, we just gave up.  Quit.  But not so fast, my friend.

Molly hovatter to tempe

Carefree and thinking we’d be dinks (i.e. double income no kids) while driving to California, we pulled off deserted Hovatter Road, 50 some miles from the Colorado River in Arizona, and… well, Molly came into our lives eight months and twenty-seven days later on August 5, 1979.

As with many first-timers, Hannah and I were clueless at the parenting game; we were amazed that two days after Molly was born, the nurse at Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa, Arizona would actually just send us home with a short pep talk, but no game plan or instruction manual.  Hoping for the best, we drove eight pound five ounce Molly to our new home at 1206 East LaJolla Drive in Tempe.

On day ten, Molly cried for seven hours straight.  No lie, seven hours!  Making the classic first-time parent mistake, we held her, rocked her, sang to soothe her in our arms.  Hannah would hold her for 20 minutes while I stood in the backyard with the doors closed behind me so I couldn’t hear Molly’s cries, and then we’d switch roles.

Grasping for straws at 10P, we called the pediatrician who told us to put her in the crib and let her cry for 15 minutes.  In five minutes, Molly was asleep, and she had survived her first bout with our parenting.

Molly tempe to york

Moving from Arizona with 2 1/2 year-old Molly and her four-month-old sister Robyn, we settled into life on the coast of Maine.  Thinking that raising kids in a small town in New England would be pretty cool, 37 years later we know that we hit our version of the lottery.

Through her public school years, Molly played sports, succeeded academically, later followed me into public education as a teacher, married very well, and rocks as the mother of our grandsons, Owen (7) and Max (5).  We couldn’t be more pleased.

Molly at ACC

Early morning on the ninth green at Amesbury Country Club

Now that she lives but an hour away in Massachusetts, Molly and I have summers for golf.  Every two weeks, we arise before dawn to play nine holes at the Amesbury Country Club, a turn of the century course with wide, forgiving, and empty fairways.

Catching up over the past fortnight, we hit second shots if we want, don’t keep score, and celebrate each other’s well-struck shots.  After nine holes, we head to the Morning Buzz for coffee and eggs, home fries, and multi-grain toast.

I never could have imagined that life could be so good.

PS  We’ll celebrate her 40th tonight.

Dan and Hannah with Owen and Max at the Acton (Maine) Fair

Living within an hour of our grandsons, Owen (7) and Max (5), each month Hannah and I spend two to three afternoons/evenings with them at their home in the Bay State.  Regularly, we also have “24 hours of Owen and Max” where the boys come to York for a day and an overnight, so our daughter Molly and her husband Tip get some time to themselves.

Acton 4 Owen first day

Acton 4B Max on first day

Acton 4A M, O, and M on first day

Our grandsons with their teacher mom!

There was no better gift for Hannah and me, as parents of young children than when we had my mom and dad come to Maine to take Molly, Robyn, and Will for three days/ two nights.  Manna from heaven. In bowling terms, it was a 300 game.

Acton map Y to A

With “24 hours of Owen and Max” beginning, we drive inland from our home on the coast of Maine this late August Thursday to a small time agricultural fair in the little burg of Acton (population 2,427).  Get these prices.  Parking is $4, the admission for Owen and Max is free, and Hannah and I pay a mere $8 each (Fridays seniors are $4!)

Acton 1 Han and Max

Eating fair food and the oxen pulling contests are at the top of the boys’ list.  Normally, in teams, oxen pull pallets loaded with concrete blocks up and down the dirt grandstand show path.  Unfortunately this year, we arrive after the oxen pulling and settle for the oxen strutting their stuff for the assembled small crowd of folks and judges.

Acton 1A Max as cow and H

Undeterred, we’ve brought pbj and veggies with humus for lunch.  Ah, but the boys have their sights on bigger fair fare.  You see, we give each one $4 to spend on whatever food they want.  Right off the bat, and before lunch, they each opt for a $2 bag of buttery, movie-style popcorn from the local Rotary club.  With the planned-for lunch no longer on their minds, we walk the midway to find how they will best spend their final $2.

Acton 3 Max on ride

Max low riding

And then we hit gold.  While ice cream cones everywhere are $3 or more, $8 funnel cakes and over-priced deep-fried anything is everywhere, we stumble upon two young men raising money to go to India to build a dam for the local population who are selling one scoop cones for a dollar.  One simolean!

Acton 2A ice cream guys

The next generation is in good hands with these young men looking out for the world

Owen opts for strawberry and Max mint chip, a personal favorite of mine.  Going down easily, the $1 cones mean they still have a greenback left.   They want another cone.  Wouldn’t you?  It’s their dollar; their choice takes Hannah back to a favorite childhood memory when her dad gave her money for three cones in one afternoon.

Acton 2 Fire and Rescue

Acton Fire and Rescue Team with three loyal supporters

While waiting for the carnival rides to open at 4P, Hannah notices two guys and a young woman from the Acton Fire and Rescue Squad sitting on a picnic table.  Hannah turns to Owen, Max, and me and suggests that we buy cones for the three and their nearby chief.  I approach the three and say, Have I got a great offer for you!  To thank you for your service, we’d like to buy you each a cone.  Can we?  How could they say no!  They can’t.  They don’t!

Gratefully, today we celebrate another of our 24-hour days with Owen and Max, this time at the Acton Fair!

 

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire

mm-map-2.png

To celebrate this Father’s Day (2019), I ask our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip to hike up Mount Monadnock in southwest New Hampshire with Hannah and me.

MM diner pancakes D

Many a good Dan and Hannah hike begins with breakfast out for some carbo loading.  Fifteen minutes from the trailhead, our diner of choice is the top-rated Hometown Diner in Rindge, NH. Hankering for blueberry pancakes, I overstep by ordering three, when the waitress tells me, They’re big!  The plate-covering behemoths do satisfy my craving, allow me to share one with Molly and Tip, and send home one for our grandsons, Owen and Max.

MM 1 at white dot trail sign

Knowing that Monadnock’s the most hiked trail in the United States and #2 in the world (See below for number one.), we arrive by 830A to insure ourselves a parking spot as well as a cooler morning hike.

Though populaire, the trail is typical New England – a mountain of rocks.  The wide path up the White Dot Trail is stone after stone, one higher than the next.  If you are hoping for a walk in the woods, this is not the hike for you.

MM 1 trail begins with H M T

What looks like a walk in the woods soon turns into…

MM 1B stone steps with M and h

…stairways of stones…

MM 1C H on stone face

…then walls of stone.

Rather quickly, we are breathing heavily as Molly sets a pace that I love; she has a relentless commitment to the top, with nary a rose smelled.  We stretch our legs to step up the mountainside boulder trail.  Leaning into the mountain, balancing with our hands, we are greeted by stone slabs which require handholds to ascend.  Though it’s a tough hike, eight and ten-year-olds are on this trail, too.

MM 1D H on stony face

Hannah on all fours climbing to the top

MM 1E M H D on rocky assent

Dan, Hannah, and Molly making their way to the summit

And then we spot two women, one with terror on her face as she explains she can’t go up the stone face nor does she feel can she climb back down.  “Panic” is what she feels and articulates.

At this point, Tip jumps into action as he did two years ago when he escorted Hannah up a rock face ravine where she had fallen 25’ to a precarious perch off the  San Ysidro Trail in Montecito, California.  Today, Tip uses all his skill and confidence-producing words to support this athletic woman, who we learn is dealing with a recently separated shoulder.  While Molly and I lead, Hannah stays close to the hikers distracting them with encouragement and interest in their story.

MM 2 M with MM in distance

Molly ready to summit Mount Monadnock in the distance

 

MM 2A D with mountain in background

As I said, there are a few rocks.

All six of us make the summit and celebrate with pictures.

MM 4A we six on top

Dan, Tip, Molly, and Angie in the back.  Hannah and Amy upfront.

MM 3 D and M on top

It was indeed windy at the top.

MM 3A T and M on top

Tip and Molly atop Mount Monadnock two days before their eighth anniversary

MM 3B we four on top

As mountain hikers know, often the climb down is even more difficult.  Rising to the challenge, Tip in front and Hannah behind support Amy on the alternate White Cross Trail down the mountain.  The slower pace allows us all to bond as we learn about each other’s lives.

MM 5 descending

MM 5D rocky descent

MM 5E angie amy H descend

MM 5B tip on tree

Successfully, back at the trailhead we feel like old friends with Amy and Angie.  Our new hiking compadres are most appreciative that we altered our hike for them and to Tip for shepherding Amy all the way down.  Fact is, meeting these women made for a more memorable experience than we ever thought possible; and as Hannah reminds me We are not here to see through each other, but to see each other through.

MM 5F d and h in descent

Hikers from Maine in New Hampshire

 

Mt. Fujiyama in Japan is numero uno.

Dan and Hannah with Owen and Max Explore the Santa Barbara Zoo

Our grandsons, Owen (kindergarten) and Max (preschool), have come with their parents to California during February school vacation week in New England.  Whether it is including the boys at an evening potluck with local friends in California, exploring the beach in Carpinteria, or taking them on a train ride to Ventura, we look to make memories with our guys.

Rattle 3B Rawdings at meadow

At the meadow two miles into the Rattlesnake Trail in Santa Barbara

Yesterday, Hannah and I with the Family Rawding hiked the Rattlesnake Trail in Santa Barbara.  Click here for that adventure.

Today, we will take the boys to the Santa Barbara Zoo while their parents hike up Gaviota Peak 45 minutes north on The 101.

Zoo map

Arriving at the zoo fifteen minutes from our home-away-from-home in Carpinteria, we have a sunny, blustery day for los animales.

Zoo 1 flamingos with O and M

Flamingos that are worth a good thirty second for Owen (in red), Max (in orange), and me

At each exhibit, the boys’ age-appropriate short attention span matches mine.  While Hannah reads about the animals and tells us one of the listed fun facts, I take a good thirty seconds to take in the tropical birds or the elephants or the lions or the giraffes.  Then the boys and I move on.  I am not a stop and smell the roses animal lover.  I gotta be me.

Zoo 2A tortoise 2

 

 

Pausing in front of the tortoise enclosure, we learn from the keeper about these forty year-old tortoises.  As herbivores, they are making a comeback from endangered status thanks to zoos and private owners.  Unfortunately, their shells are still harvested, which, upon removal, immediately kills the tortoises because their backs are directly attached to their shells.  Some kill the tortoises for their livers, which they believe have wonderous medicinal properties.

Zoo 3 giraffe skull

Giraffe skull

Zoo 3B giraffe hoot

Giraffe hoof

On the path by the giraffe enclosure, two volunteers intrigue us all with the skull of a giraffe.  Next to them they have a 15” bicycle tire tube that represents the length of the giraffe’s tongue.  Then the volunteers set a rubbery mat on the ground which indicates the size of the giraffe’s hoof and lets the boys compare their feet to that of a giraffe.

Zoo 3 giraffe

Giraffe with the Pacific Ocean in the distance

Lions, elephants, alligators, anteaters, and penguins rock our world, albeit briefly.

Zoo 1C Max with lion

Max checking out the lion

Zoo 1CC the lion

Tough life tanning 200 yards from the Pacific Ocean

Zoo 1A O and M with elephant

Elephante

Zoo 1B Omi as zookeeper

Perhaps I should have taken this picture when the sun went behind the clouds

 

Zoo 4A alligator

See you later

 

Zoo 6 anteater

The anteater is one big dude!

Zoo 6B penguin with max

Max at the penguin aquarium

Zoo 6D O and M with penguin

Owen and Max check out Peter the Penguin

Wisely constructed in the center of the SB Zoo, a favorite spot for our young guys, is the AstroTurf mound at the playground where Owen and Max slide down the hill on cardboard.  Owen teaches his brother how to surf down the play hill.

Zoo 5 more playground

Zoo 5 playground

With cool temperatures near 60F, we are not exhausted after nearly four hours among the mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.  That said, once home, we turn the boys back over to their parents, and have one sweet siesta.

Dan and Hannah at Molly’s Math Night with Owen and Max

Math 1 Molly leading

Molly

A teacher for seventeen years, Molly is the oldest of our three kids.  While years ago I saw her teach algebra to eighth graders at Hammond Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia, Hannah has never seen her teach.  But that is all about to change.

A text arrives from Molly inviting us to her Parent’s Math Night in late November at Fiske Elementary in Lexington, Massachusetts.  As a math specialist working with teachers and kids during the day, tonight Molly will lead a workshop on teaching parents how to support their kids when it comes to learning and loving math.

Math 1A H and O working on math

Owen and his Omi at Math Night

My takeaways from our night at Fiske:

One, it was really cool that Molly asked us to come.

Two, always looking to have adventures with our grandsons, we made it an event by taking Owen (6) and Max (4) along for the evening.

Three, no matter what she does, Molly’s energetic and passionate.  Tonight, she is articulate, composed, and well-organized.

Four, she made an excellent choice to make it a night for parents and kids.  That saves parents the hassle of finding babysitters.

Math 1B 5 principles

 

Five, Molly included other teachers in the presentation for over one hundred.  Being a part of a team helps teachers beat the isolation and exhaustion that the teaching life can be.

Math We Believe

 

Six, throughout the night, the team of teachers, reinforced key points of what they believe about the teaching of math.  In addition, they encouraged parents to never say “I can’t do math.”

Seven, here and there, Molly and the teachers would talk for only two to three minutes.  To keep us all engaged, they had chunks of time for parents to listen to their kids as the kids noticed and wondered about the math questions and puzzles that they were given.

Eight, parenthetically (we were the oldest ones there.).  It felt like we fit right in.  You’d enjoy living in our delusional world.

Math 1C Carol Dweck

Stanford University’s Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Nine, there were a couple of pertinent and articulate TED talk videos (2-5 minutes [referenced below]) and Carol Dweck references.  As such, the evening was thoughtful and never dragged.  See Carol’s wisdom to the left.

Ten, there were five raffles of math-related games, a math book, and math puzzles.

Math games

Raffle prizes

Eleven, the night was scheduled to go from 615-730P.  Wisely, the night ended five minutes early.  Students (and parents) of all ages love getting out early.

Twelve, Hannah and I loved the post-presentation clean-up party.  Many parents joined us in folding up chairs, placing them on chair carriers, and breaking down tables to be stacked at the end of the gym.

Owen and Max got to participate and by osmosis saw what people do to support one other.  It takes a village to clean up a gym.

Thirteen, I end with a video clip of Molly’s intro to the parents and kids.

 

 

Here are the links to the two superb videos that were showed: Dan Finkel and Annie Fetter).

Dan and Hannah and Their Molly and Robyn

This is a short and sweet posting about our daughters, Molly (38) and Robyn (36).

Zoo 6 M and R

Molly and Robyn

They live 300 miles apart, Molly with her family in Massachusetts and Robyn in upstate New York.

Recently I was reminded of what a great job Molly does to include Robyn in the lives of her sons, Owen and Max.

Zoo 1 rawdins and robyn

Tip, Owen, Max, Molly, and Robyn

When Molly’s family travels to New York, they regularly meet up with Robyn.  In this latest visit, Robyn planned an outing at the Syracuse Zoo, which delighted the Bay Staters no end.  Here are some of the pictures showing the joy that Robyn brings to the lives of her young nephews, Owen (just about 6) and Max (4).  She’s an aunt you’d be proud to call your own.  Molly is a sister who makes a difference.

Zoo 8 close up of O and M

 

Zoo 4 R with O and M on elephant

Robyn, Max, and Owen at the Syracuse Zoo

Zoo 2 O and M with T

 

 

Then just two weeks ago, Molly blew me away.  I mean, touched me to my core.  I had no idea she had emailed some thirty of her family and friends to donate to my Jimmy Fund Walk in September.  Thank you, Molly!

Sox M and T in JF square
Happy Summer! 
This September, my dad is walking 10K of the Boston Marathon route as he raises money for The Jimmy Fund to raise money for cancer research and the care of cancer patients.
As you may know, my sister Robyn had leukemia when she was 4 years old – we are grateful that today she is healthy and doing fabulously.  So this cause is near and dear to our hearts. 
Below is a recent email that my dad shared about his fundraising efforts — and a bunch of pictures from a Jimmy Fund event (where my dad gave Tip and me his tickets to a Boston Red Sox game). https://over60hiker.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/dan-and-jimmy-thank-my-donors-update/
If the time is right for you to donate, I know my dad would appreciate it – whatever you can give will help–it all adds up! 
Wishing you a wonderful, healthy, joyful summer! 
Love,
Molly 

 

 

Dan and Hannah Have a New Grandbaby on the Way

Coming down the homestretch, our son Will and his wife Laurel are expecting their first child and our third grandchild on June 28.  They are going old school and will learn the gender of their baby when their bouncing baby turns their world upside down.

Laurel - W and L

Since Will and Laurel live in Ithaca, New York where he works in the athletic department at Ithaca College and she is a nurse at a local clinic, Hannah and I will travel 400+ miles from our home on the coast of Maine to meet our new grandchild; Laurel’s mom Sandy lives about the same distance away from Ithaca on Cape Cod.  Fired up about the arrival of a new bambino, I ask you, who should be the first grandparent(s) to visit when the baby arrives?  Sandy or Dan and Hannah?

Hannah and I vote for Sandy.  We think it should be the mother of the new mother.  Laurel will have gone through the wringer and would quite naturally be most comfortable with her own mom around as she regains her strength and deals with being a new mom.

We have family history on our side as precedent.  When Molly gave birth to Owen in 2012 and Max in 2014 in Virginia 550 miles away from our home in Maine, her husband Tip, understood that Molly would be most comfortable with her mother (one Hannah Banana) during the days immediately after each of their son’s birth.

Certainly, if either family lived near to Virginia, they would go to the hospital and be a part of Opening Day.  Since both sets of grandparents lived a good day’s drive away (Tip’s mom and dad also live nearly 550 miles from Virginia), Hannah and I were the ones who were first invited to come to Virginia to see our grandsons.

Funny, how the universe had other ideas.

As it turned out, Hannah fractured her tibia water skiing in Maine a mere twelve hours before Owen was born.  As such, she and I weren’t able to travel for a while.  But that’s beside the point.  Tip got it!  Molly’s mom was the first one to come to support his wife.

Laurel - 37 weeks

Back to Will and Laurel.  A week ago, we received a sweet text from Laurel thoughtfully wanting to include us in the first days of the baby’s life.

Will and I wanted to offer that when we go in to the hospital for labor, that you are welcome to come and stay at our house, so you can meet Baby R when he/she is born. My mother will be here as well. We have decided to be just the two of us in the delivery room, but we would love to have you there soon after. We also understand if you’d like to wait until a later time, but the offer is there!   

Laurel - H and L better

Laurel’s equally sweet mother-in-law Hannah responds to them after she and I talked.

What a sweet offer, Laurel! We do think we’ll wait a bit ~ til your mom has had her time with you and Baby R… maybe even give you a day or two to then catch your breath ~ and perhaps even a rhythm of sorts?!  Of course, we’ll need/want pictures right away!!  We SO appreciate your thoughtful offer to have us come right away. Hope this idea sounds OK to you, though. Meanwhile, each day closer to June 28th gets even more exciting… We LOVE the weekly update pictures of Baby R’s beautiful mom!

 

Dan and Hannah with Owen and Max in Santa Barbara

Once a week throughout the year, Hannah and I live the grandparents’ dream and head an hour south to Massachusetts to spend the afternoon with our preschool grandsons, Owen and Max.  In warm weather we have parks and lakes while in winter we turn to indoor fun centers: Loch Ness Fun Center in Chelmsford, Imajine That in Lawrence, or One Stop Fun in Westford.

Ratt map of SB

This winter, we have an entire week of days with the boys since they are coming to southern California to hang out with their Omi and Poppa.  Our plan is to take the boys for daily “adventures” while our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip get some time to hike or head to the beach.

Prior to the boys’ arrival, Hannah and I take in the Carpinteria Bluffs to learn whether this is a place for preschoolers.  With the few seals that we see far below the bluffs, that this is not the active experience we’d like for Owen and Max.   Preschool compatibility index – Not really.

OM Carp boys with bat

Owen and Max at Carpinteria Beach

Though this has been the rainiest February since Noah and his Ark, we have a sunny Sunday to take Owen and Max to the Carpinteria Beach just ten miles south of Santa Barbara.  With our guys, we know they love the filling of sand in their buckets, then dumping it all; then filling and dumping on and on.

OM Carp flying gull at vball

A tennis ball and fat bat as well as a Frisbee keep them on the move.  At the beach volleyball court, they make up their own game of throwing the ball over the net and trying to catch it.  The ocean water in February is fine for surfers in wet suits, but we all are just fine going to the water’s edge.  Preschool compatibility index – Off the charts.

Monday is a day when the rain gods bark, You’ve been bitching about the drought for six years; so tell me, what is your problem when I give you Biblical rains!  On such days, the universe provides the Sea Center on Stearn’s Wharf on the Santa Barbara beachfront for Owen and Max.

OM Zoo skates

Sea Center

OM Pier theater

Pulling onto the half mile wooden wharf itself, we have free parking for the first 90 minutes.  After, it’s $2.50/hour.  You can bet Dan and Hannah will make this an 85-minute visit.  For $7.50 each for seniors and $6 for kids age 2-12, the Sea Center begins with the boys petting baby sand sharks, sea anemones, and star fish. That lasts for about five minutes and then the boys are off.

The movie about sharks and the marine fishing vessel experience hold no interest for our guys.  It’s running around which they love!  As we move to the top floor, a barnacled large gray whale model dominates the airspace; this wows them for a good 15 seconds, and then run they do.

What does interest Owen and Max is the Marine Puppet Theater with stuffed animals such as a gray whale, hammerhead shark, two kinds of turtles, a purple squid, and octopus.  Though they never put on a play for us, they imagine with the stuffed animals, run about, tug over their favorite (the purple squid), and spend more time there than any other place at the Sea Center.

Hannah and I feel that the $27 admission fees are money well-spent supporting the Natural History Museum of Santa Barbara, of which the Sea Center is a part.   But….  Preschool compatibility index – Not so much; it’s a dry place on a misty day, but the place is more for interested adults and school age kids with a marine bent.

Tuesday, when it rains with preschoolers at the cottage, our choices of outdoor activities are limited.  Molly and Tip take the boys to story hour at the Montecito Library.  Later in the afternoon we adults watch The Best of Men DVD (PBS – Outstanding) while Max naps and Owen watches Dinosaur Train.

OM Lookout Point O and M

Lookout Point in Summerland

But by 3P, the sun comes out and we have the chance to give Molly and Tip their daily break (daily bread?).  Lookout Park on the Pacific here in Summerland is just down the hill from our cottage.  Walking with Owen and Max the half mile through town to the beach, we have a playground with a climbing wall, slides, and swings.

The train track gives Hannah an idea from her childhood.  She has Owen and Max put pennies on the track itself to be crushed by the next passing Amtrak train.  The boys are learning the meaning of watched pot never boils.  Eventually distracted, the Amtrak train roars through and delivers in a big way – squashed coins beyond recognition.   Preschool compatibility index – Late afternoon playground time after a day of rain – elixir for the whole family.

OM elephants

Max with the big fellas

Wednesday, the sun comes out and we are off to the Santa Barbara Zoo.  While Molly and Tip hike Romero Canyon in nearby Montecito, we drive the six miles to the Zoo just off the main beach in Santa Barbara.   To save the $7 for parking we park across the street from the Zoo entrance at Dwight Murphy Field.  Tickets for 2-12 year-olds are $10 and seniors get in for $13 each.  Money well spent.

OM gator

See you later alligator

The boys really love running anywhere – this time in a park setting.   Seeing the colorful parrots, the boys’ interest lasts about twenty seconds.  Let’s go is their refrain as Owen leads, Max follows and repeats whatever his big brother says.   They never stop.  We see flamingos, foxes, gibbons, elephants, condors, snow leopards, and alligators.  Surprising to me, Max has a fascination with the zoo map as he points out where we’ll go next.

But the Santa Barbara Zoo delivers in three big ways.  First, there are the lions that perch on manmade boulders at eye level.  Though they don’t roar, that doesn’t stop Owen and Max from communicating with them with their own best king-of-the-jungle roars.

OwenMax O and M with giraffes

Then there is the herd of giraffes.  Regal and stately, they are so much more impressive than what we see in books.   Later we hit the gorilla compound.  At lunch time the gorilla picks at his celery, beans, and lettuce through a grate in the ground, which, I am guessing, is to improve his dexterity and to teach him to eat in a civilized manner.

OwenMax H as trainer

My kind of zookeeper

A mid-zoo playground with a climbing spider web and a hill for sledding down on pieces of cardboard grabs the boys’ attention.   After three hours of running, we and they are pooped.   Preschool compatibility index – You’re in the running for grandparents of the year if you take your grandkids to the Santa Barbara Zoo.

SY 3B T with boys

Owen and Max with their Dad

On Thursday, our Owen and Max activity is hiking the San Ysidro Trail in nearby Montecito, California with their parents.  When hiking with preschoolers, Hannah and I have the one important ingredient today to make this activity fly – parents like Molly and Tip.  This four-mile round trip to a rocking waterfall needs playful parents who can distract their boys when they get weary.

SY2 4A five on trail

Prefall Hannah on the San Ysidro Trail with the Family Rawding

For much of the way, Tip carries nearly 3-year-old, 40+ pound Max in a backpack.  Such endurance is out of my league.  Owen, five in July, walks and runs most of the four miles, often holding the hand of his mother Molly.  Preschool compatibility index – Only try with athletic, vigilant, and relentlessly positive parents.  It’s too much for us alone.  Click here for that blog.

On Friday, we rest as Hannah recuperates from her fall from the above trail the day before.

Grandparents the world over will nod their heads and know that it’s been gold to have five days with our Dynamo Duo.

Dan and Hannah’s Reflections on the Hike to the San Ysidro Falls with the Family Rawding

Dan’s Reflection:

SY2 D with family

That Hannah might die never entered my mind. That said, people could die from such a fall if they, as she did, slide uncontrollably down a nearly vertical wall of sharp rock and dirt towards the waiting San Ysidro Creek 40’ below.  At that moment of her fall, I was comforted in four ways: first, that she looked safe on the perch below; second, it didn’t appear she had hit her head; third, that we had Molly and Tip for support; and fourth, I had no idea how bad her injuries were.

I guess one is never ready for sudden death.  I can’t imagine what it was like for our friend Amelia, when her husband and my college roommate, Big Steve, died in his sleep as a seemingly healthy man just turning 60.  The deaths of my parents in their 90s were not unexpected, indeed a blessing after rich lives.  I had no idea that I might be a widower when I woke up that morning in late February, 2017.

I know tomorrow is not promised to anyone, but the events on that Montecito mountainside gave new meaning to that cliche.  I am very glad that the curtain didn’t come down on Hannah’s life story that day.  But as I think about it, in time, I would have been very grateful for my many years with Hannah.  Hannah was always the one!

On a lighter note, Hannah’s sunny disposition has served her well for 69 years.  Despite deep wounds in her leg, she smiled and limp-walked steadily for a mile and a half out of the woods.  Her confidence and perseverance gave me confidence.

This is a great country for seniors like us with health insurance.  Hannah’s bill from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital was $4200.   The ER was $2755, IV Therapy $1010, Drugs $152, Pharmacy $140, Medical Surgical Supplies $103, and Clinical Lab costs $37.   Since we have Medicare coverage, we ended up paying a mere $75!!  It’s not a stretch to think all Americans deserve such coverage!

I’m stunned how quickly she is recovering.  Get this, the very next day after the accident, she was slow-walking a half mile, within two days she was hitting the pavement for a mile, three times per day.  Within three weeks, she was working out at our local gym on the treadmill, elliptical, and Wave (roller blading motion).  Within a month she was back playing pickleball as if she had never been gone.  Her recovery is a testament to her lifetime commitment to fitness.

I buy the wisdom of The Dalai Lama’s Cat and The Art of Purring by David Michie. I wish that all of my students could ‘nearly’ die.  There is no better wake-up call on how to live… Life is finite; every day is precious.  And simply to wake up in good health is truly a blessing, because sickness and death [and falls off the trail] can strike at a moment’s notice.   

Our daughter Molly married very well. Tip is the kind of husband, father, and son-in-law we are thrilled to have.  That said, Tip hit the jackpot with Molly.

Life is not an exam. Life is for learning and healing.  We are learning and she is healing.  Hannah and I will be hiking the waterfall trails of northern Georgia and playing pickleball with our Yonah Mountain family in late April.

With my one degree of separation, I got quite the reminder that every day is precious and there is no time to waste.

 

Hannah’s Reflection:

SY2 4A five on trail

It is when we are confronted with…poignant reminders of mortality that we become most aware of the strangeness and wonder of our brief life on Earth.  Kathleen Basford

 

Nearly a month after my fall on the San Ysidro Trail in Montecito, California, I feel more tuned in to life than perhaps ever.  My perspective has once again been “re-set,” as challenging times have a way of doing.  I never did feel fear or pain – thanks, I believe, to my body going into “protective mode” to sustain me til medical attention was available.  Also thanks (especially) to Tip, our son-in-law, who provided his calm reassurance that We’ll get you back on the trail, Omi.  Mostly I feel grateful – that it wasn’t Max or Owen or Molly or Tip who fell.  And grateful that I didn’t fall any further, hit my head, or break any bones.

I believe I experienced what David Michie in The Dalai Lama’s Cat and The Art of Purring calls a “realization…”

A realization is when our understanding of something deepens to the point that it changes our behavior.      I wish that all of my students could ‘nearly’ die.  There is no better wake-up call on how to live.     A realization helps us to let go a little, to experience deep appreciation, even awe – just to be alive.      …time is precious and we must use it wisely.

I am grateful just to be alive and oh-so-grateful to those miracle workers and magic weavers (below) who, truly, brought me Home.

Tip

Molly, Owen, and Max

Danny

Zach and Dominique of AMR

Tony Anagnostou, MD

ER personnel at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital

Corky Thomson & Jane May of York Hospital

Elizabeth Helmer, MD & Alicia, RN  – both of York Hospital

sy-2d-o-and-o-on-rock

 

Eleven things my San Ysidro Falls fall taught me…

It’s all about the people.

Life just gets better.

We do not know what is in store tomorrow – or whether there is a tomorrow or even a tonight! But still, we have the golden present.

Our physical bodies are beyond magnificent.

I have so much to be grateful for.

How much I adore our grand boys.

How equally much I adore our children – and their father.

That I would give my life –in a heart beat – for any one of them.

What a rich, full life I’ve already had.

That I agree with Albert Schweitzer once again:  If there is anything I have learned about men and women, it is that there is a deeper spirit of altruism than is ever evident.  Just as the rivers we see are minor compared to the underground streams, so, too, the idealism that is visible is minor compared to what people carry in their hearts unreleased or scarcely released.

How proud I am to be our son in-law’s mother-in-law.

April 2017     Hannah B. Rothermel (aka Omi)

Dan and Hannah Hike with the Family Rawding on the San Ysidro Trail and Then… Part 6 of 6

Part 5 ended with the successful surgery to repair Hannah’s gashed upper and lower left leg.

While Hannah is in a hazy fog from the medication, Tony, our surgeon, returns to the operating room.  He mentions that he will implant a drain that will siphon off excess fluid from deep within her thigh while it is healing.  Then looking to me, he says, Would you like to empty it?

SY2 drain

Under his guidance, I invert the plastic bulb and pour it into a plastic cup.  Then, he says to us, before you drain the plastic bulb, squeeze down the tube from near the leg to force the excess red liquid down to the bulbThis will help prevent the bloody fluid in the tube from clotting.  Would you like to try it, he says to me?  Experiential learning at its finest.

I squeeze the red discharge down the tube, knowing that I will remember little back at the cottage if all he does is show me how to do it.  He wants Hannah to take it easy this Thursday, gentle walking Friday, and by Sunday she can do anything she feels up for.  Whoa.

There are no limits to what she can eat or drink.  We should change the bandages after 48 hours and empty the drain 2 to 3 times per day, measure the discharge, and note the color.  In time, the color should turn from red to yellow.

While Molly has arrived to take us back to the cottage, first Kasey, an Ed Tech, wants to give Hannah a lesson in using crutches.  Taking us to a quiet place in the hallway, he demonstrates lifting the injured leg back, stepping forward with the stronger leg, and moving the crutches one step forward.

After adjusting the crutches for Hannah’s height (they are ours to keep and she never uses them; we later donate them to the Montecito Fire Department), Hannah tries, wobbles and flops back into the wheelchair behind her.  She mentions that she sees two Kasey’s; at this point he gets that she needs to be wheeled out in a wheelchair to our waiting car.

SY2 Han on couch

At the cottage the evening after the trail gave way

Once back at the cottage with Owen and Max in bed, Molly, Tip, Hannah, and I talk about our day on the trail.  Famished, Hannah eats two big bowls of Trader Joe’s salads and the big half of a Los Arroyos chicken burrito.  She toasts her day with a glass of white wine.  Oh, that we all could celebrate so after such a day.

We all know how fortunate we are that Hannah is sitting with us six hours after the ground gave way beneath her feet.  That her leg is sutured and stapled, and not…  We just don’t go there.  To what end?  The subjunctive can be positive when it brings up good possibilities but not when it goes down Alice’s rabbit hole.

Aftermath

Within a day, Hannah and I are slow walking a half mile.  Two days after, we slow walk over a mile, three times a day.  Two weeks after we walk a mile at a normal pre-fall pace.

SY2 Han in park 3 days after

Three days after our hike to San Ysidro Falls

Three ibuprofen before bed for the first five nights are all the pain meds she takes.

Repeatedly we hear from the health care professionals, You are healing so well because you are in such good shape.

Tony our surgeon gives us his cell number and calls us at the cottage the day after Hannah’s surgery.

The drain comes out seven days later, the 25 staples are removed 13 days after.

After a month, she’s back on the pickleball courts at home in Maine!

 

So, we thank these angels in our lives:

Tip, for his rescue of Hannah off the cliffside.

Molly, for getting the EMTs in position once Hannah came off the mountain.

Zach and Dominique, American Medical Response EMTs, for diagnosing her wounds and safely delivering her to the ER at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The Ed Techs and Karen our RN at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital who prepped and cared for her pre- and post-surgery.

SY2 ER 3D Tony

Tony, our surgeon

Dr. Tony Anagnostou for his surgical skill, comforting bedside manner, follow-up calls, and accessibility.

Corky Thomson and Jane May of York Hospital who made Hannah’s appointment happen the very next morning back in York, after we landed in Boston from Los Angeles.

York Hospital’s Dr. Elizabeth Helmer and nurse Alicia for picking up the ball once we returned to Maine.

To conclude Hannah’s saga, Hannah and I reflect on the entire adventure.