June 1, 2020
Another gorgeous day with blue skies a-plenty and temperatures in the high 60”s and low 70’s. Today would have been a great day to do a bunch of outside work. It turns out that I had little to do although I did assist our friend Ronnie Brown in splitting the last of the big pieces from our maple tree and loading onto his truck. He has a splitter which makes the work go fast. I guess this was a good deal for the Browns and us; they got three truckloads of good maple firewood and we got rid of all the remnants of having two trees cut down.
It was certainly a good day for walking and we took advantage of it with our normal morning 2.6 mile hike and afternoon 3.7 mile Leaport loop walk. After dinner we walked a couple of loops around the middle school track giving us a total for the day of eight miles.
Lynn amazed me twice today. The first time was when she interpreted for an IEP meeting over the phone. I sat beside her killing time on my iPad while she simultaneously talked on the phone with a hispanic mother from Cub Run Elementary School and Zoomed with the child’s teachers on the laptop. The amazing part was how well she did her job. The SPED teacher asked her to simply read parts of the IEP to the mom and she did so unhesitatingly. Her knowledge of Spanish vocabulary and ability to speak it to a native speaker were excellent. Both parties greatly appreciated her work and so did I.
The second time she amazed me was on our loop walk. We walked by a house with a man cutting his grass and he cut the mower off to chat with us. I don’t think I had ever seen the man before. But she immediately recognized him and, of course, knew his family, his in-laws, that he and his wife had lost a daughter two years ago during childbirth, and tons more. Her people knowledge and people skills are unbelievable. She is a walking encyclopedia of family knowledge and can easily communicate with anyone.
Tonight there are large military vehicles patrolling the White House in case of riots this evening. Trump is calling on governors to be tough and use the National Guard. He insisted that governors “dominate” the protesters. Trump’s rhetoric is fueling the protests. We’ll see what happens…
Tonight the George Floyd family called for peace and justice. Many of the protesters are demanding that the three other police officers who were complicit while their colleague choked Floyd to death should be charged in his death. Yet in many cities there are violent riots with cars and buildings burned. The news is full of videos of looters, police firing tear gas, and arrests being made, some forcibly. It is true that there are many, many peaceful protests including some here in Staunton and Harrisonburg, but the news picks up on the violence, of course.
Here in rural Augusta County we are fortunately hidden from the quick spread of COVID-19 and the riots of big cities. We are lucky to have such shelter. Watching the news makes me appreciate that.
Lynn has her eyes on a structure for our backyard called a porch-swing fire pit. It is also known as a pergola. The one she particularly likes is in the shape of a hexagon, measures 16 feet diagonally, with five porch swings suspended from beams tied to posts set in the ground. She has downloaded the plans and forwarded them to Jim. I have some concerns about where it would go and how it would be used. We’ll see how this plays out…
We made plans today to go away next week for two nights. This will be the first time since the pandemic started that we’ve been away. I wrote before that we were considering Abingdon as a location and we finalized that today. We’ve checked the extended weather forecast for Abingdon and made some rearrangements to our schedule next Tuesday through Thursday. We’ve come up with three places we want to walk: the New River Trail, a loop around Hungry Mother State Park, and a hike near Abingdon to a place called The Channels. Plus we can walk on the Virginia Creeper Trail if there’s time. We called our usual motel, Comfort Suites, and talked to our friendly manager Jamie Arnold who set our concerns at ease about staying there. We’ll leave next Tuesday morning and stop for dinner at the Draper Mercantile where we’ll walk on the New River Trail, weather permitting.
As always, here are the stats for today:
World 6,361,360 377,148
US 1,858,931 106,921
Virginia 45,398 1,392
Augusta County 112 1
June 2, 2020
Walking is very different when the temperature is in the 60’s compared to when it is in the 80’s. We found that out first hand today. Our morning walk was very pleasant but by late afternoon when we left to take our second walk of the day it was hot. We elected to walk at the Grottoes town park since there is shade on 1/3 of the 1.4 mile perimeter loop. In the shade, with a gentle breeze, it was bearable but in the open it was tough. We made two laps around the park but were bushed by the time the second lap ended. Tomorrow’s forecast is for even hotter temperatures and higher humidity. Yuck. We did manage to walk an extra mile after dinner when it was cooler and ended the day with seven miles walked.
Knowing hotter temperatures were on the way, I got my outside work done this morning. I cut our grass, cleaned up around the stumps where the two trees had been cut, and made my weekly trip to the dump. Lynn went with me and we stopped at Ann’s house to get their trash and chat with her and the kids.
I am no longer a fan of having cute little bunny rabbits running around in the yard. Last week I planted 20 tomato plants. Today I have 12 left. The others were eaten completely down to the ground. I’ve got three traps out next to the garden but so far I haven’t caught any. I’ve used romaine lettuce and apples for bait. I think there are at least two in the neighborhood.
The news tonight once again features stories about the protests all over the country. There are thousands of protesters, coast to coast, who, during the day, are peaceful. The nighttime protests have turned violent, though. Many cities have imposed curfews.
Our worthless President had his goonies throw tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church so he could have a photo-op holding a Bible in front of it. The Bishop of the Episcopal Church was appalled. He was later condemned by both Democrats and Republicans. Joe Biden said he wished Trump would open the Bible sometime.
It is so unusual to have the news featuring something other than COVID-19. Again, our country is in a mess now. Many protesters do not wear masks and almost none remain socially distant from each other. There could be a huge outbreak of coronavirus coming up soon.
The daily numbers are as follows:
World 6,470,351 381,624
US 1,879,608 108,026
Virginia 46,239 1,407
Augusta County 115 2
There’s no way of knowing any details on the second death in Augusta County. Just a glance at these numbers compared to previous ones and you can see we by no means have this pandemic under control. To prove this, I’m reposting the numbers from when I started this on April 20, only six weeks ago:
World 2,422,286 165,924
US 770,564 41,114
Virginia 8,990 300
Augusta County 22 0
So in six weeks the number of cases and deaths in the US have more than doubled; the number of cases and deaths in Virginia have increased nearly five fold.
We celebrated the Gutshall kids’ successful school year this evening by bringing them three quarts of Smiley’s ice cream. This household now has a first grader, sixth grader, eighth grader, and tenth grader. All four did so well in school and we’re so, so proud of them as we are our other grandchildren. Indeed, grandchildren are the highlight of our lives now.
June 3, 2020
With the projected high temperature today in the low to mid 90’s, we got up early, ate breakfast, and got walking. By 10:00 we had taken two walks for 5.5 miles. It was nice walking early in the morning. We even walked our Leaport loop backwards which means we had to climb the Mount Pisgah hill which is a formidable challenge for walkers.
We also were able to knock off a few chores early. I finished my lawn mowing by doing the push mowing part.
The main topic of conversation now is whether to take the July 16-19 family vacation to Eden Resort in Lancaster PA. We’ve made a deposit to hold our large suite there and must notify them at least a month beforehand if we cancel else we lose the deposit. We called the resort while we were walking to find out what COVID-19 safety features they were putting into place. They are basically doing the same as the Comfort Suites regarding maid service, keeping the rooms a day or more before renting, etc. We were particularly interested in how they would handle their two large pools, one inside and one outside. We were told that the inside pool use was determined by a lottery. Likewise, the outside use was limited to a fixed number of families and done by reservation.
We did the smart thing for dinner given the temperature today–went to Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird for a large Soprano pizza. That will serve us deliciously for two days. On the way to Penn Laird we stopped at the post office where Lynn mailed some drawing pads to Thomas and Georgia and had our mail held next week while we’re in Abingdon.
We’ve been eating lots of good salad lately, too. Lynn bought salad bags from Aldi’s and then adds to them tomato, homemade croutons, and salad dressing. Good eating!
After dinner tonight, despite the heat, we went to Stewart Middle School and walked another mile. Her Fitbit said that our total for the day was 7.5 miles. For a scorching day, that’s not bad.
Here’s how lucky I am to have Lynn. For breakfast, I eat homemade toast from bread she has made. I put spread butter on the toast that she has blended using real butter and canola oil. Then I top it with strawberry preserves she has made. My only contribution is coffee. She has really cooked a lot since we’ve been sheltered-in-place.
Our family discussion about the summer vacation didn’t reach a consensus, but it does sound like we won’t be going to Eden. Kay rightfully thinks the pools won’t be very safe and worries what else we’ll do since normally the pool is the big attraction. She said perhaps if we could all rent a house with a private pool somewhere that would be better. I found one available in Greensboro NC which I forwarded to them to consider. We’ll have to make a decision some time soon.
The fact is that COVID-19 is still a major problem as shown by tonight’s numbers:
World 6,567,058 387,899
US 1,901,783 109,142
Virginia 46,905 1,428
Augusta County 115 2
Kay’s family and Ann’s family were able to join us tonight for the family Zoom. Jim was busy working in his yard trying to prepare it for an above-ground pool for his kids. I know he worked extremely hard today on it.
June 4, 2020
Today is grocery pickup day so we began the day with pickups at both Kroger and Walmart. We were back at home before 9:00 to drop the groceries off. We took a shortened two mile walk before heading to Roanoke. Today is Faron’s 5th birthday so we drove there to deliver the card we made for him and his present, a Lego StarWars kit called The Rise of Skywalker Millennium Falcon.
The trip to Roanoke didn’t go as planned. About 25 miles north of Roanoke I ran over some debris in the road. Shortly thereafter my low tire pressure indicator light came on so I took the next exit for Buchanan VA. Lynn quickly grabbed her phone and found that there was a tire place six miles away on US 11. I pulled over and verified that the passenger rear tire was hissing as it lost air. We quickly headed for Hugh’s transport.
We didn’t make it. Two miles from the business I could tell that the tire was getting down to the rim so I had to pull off the side of the road. Lynn called them and they very politely said they’d come and get us. Sure enough, in about ten minutes the flat bed wrecker showed up. He told us we could just stay in the car. This was quite an experience. We were pulled up on the flat bed and rode there to the business.
It turned out fine. They were able to patch the hole in the tire and we were out of there in about 40 minutes, $83 poorer. All in all we cannot complain. It could have been much, much worse.
All that made us late getting to Jim’s house, of course, but we still had a good time watching Faron and Coen play outside. When we got there Jim was on a tractor in his back yard digging out a level place for them to put an above ground swimming pool. He has so many skills! He was more than a little frustrated when we got there because he was having a time getting it all leveled. We checked back with him tonight and found that he had gotten the job done.
I took 88 pictures of the boys and posted them on my website when we got back here. Faron and Coen are lots of fun; I wish we could see them more and be able to hug them.
The drive back home on I-81 was awful. There was at least one wreck and we got off on US 11 for part of the way. Traffic was terrible; you’d never know that people are supposed to be sheltering-in-place.
After dinner and the threat of a thunderstorm we were able to get in a second walk of the day. Our total for the day was the lowest we’ve had in ages, only five miles, but that’s OK. The morning walk was a scorcher but the evening walk was nice.
As a family we’ve been debating the possibility of a summer vacation, as I wrote yesterday. Today we verified for sure that neither Kay’s family nor Jim’s family wants to go to Eden Resort. Actually, Morgan said she wouldn’t let her boys go anywhere this summer.
That being the case, we’ve been looking for other possibilities. I’ve found one place south of Charlottesville that has a private pool, plenty of bedrooms, and would cost about the same as Eden. It’s called Avon Hill Lodge. I’ve corresponded with the owner a couple of times this evening. They are holding the place for us on July 13 – 16 (Monday – Thursday). Lynn and I are going to check the place out in about ten days.
Here are today’s numbers:
World 6,692,686 392,286
US 1,924,051 110,173
Virginia 47,856 1,445
Augusta County 122 2
Who thinks we have this under control?
June 5, 2020
Lynn and her friends Cheryl Kent and Cheryl Wright started the day at a moving sale not too far from here on Bald Rock Road. After the sale, they came back here to chat and eat scones which Lynn had prepared. My job was to get the furniture set up for them (socially distant, of course) prior to them getting back here.
Today wasn’t much of a walking day. We got a little later start since Lynn had her friends over in the morning. As we walked the 3.7 Leaport loop we were reminded of how much better shade feels than hot sun. Of the 3.7 miles, the first half-mile and the last mile and a half are nearly all in the sun. The middle 1.7 miles are mostly shady.
We had some time on our hands this afternoon so we decided to do a little shopping. First we went to Dollar General in Weyers Cave. This may have been a mistake. I stayed in the car while Lynn went in. Sixteen people came out while I waited on her. Nine were without masks. Four of the seven who did wear masks were in the same family, a mother and three children. It is not optional in Virginia to do that! Nearly all were male. How selfish. How stupid. How thoughtless. How dangerous. They are idiots. It is no wonder that this virus has spread rampantly throughout our nation.
Lynn tried to get some disinfectant spray there but it was all gone. The lady at the counter told her they typically got one case per week and sold quickly. Actually this week they were doing inventory so they received none. She also got some ant traps because we saw a few ants in our kitchen and I want to nip this in the bud. She also bought hand soap refills.
Then we went to JMD Farm Market where we bought replacement tomato plants for the ones the rabbits have eaten. We returned home and I just got them in the ground before a thunderstorm hit. At least they got watered very well. I’m going to put up a pseudo fence made of fishing line as soon as we can find the fishing line here at home! I at least got the poles hammered in before the storm.
The storm then cleared temporarily and we took advantage of the cooler temperatures and got in another hike. This time we walked our two miler: one mile out and one mile back. Usually when we walk on this route there are few, if any cars. We wave to all those who pass though we rarely know who we’re waving to.
So much of the news today is about racial injustice. At least those who protest now are doing so with less violence. But rather than seize the opportunity to pull Americans together, Trump held a news conference in which he talked mostly about the better-than-expected unemployment figures released today. In a real low point, speaking about murdered black George Floyd who was buried yesterday, he said that “Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.’ It’s a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day.”
Here’s what ABC news had to say:
As the country continues to reel from the death of George Floyd with thousands of people taking to the streets daily to protest his death and racial inequalities in America, Trump declared the virus largely dealt with, and called it “a great day for equality.” Seizing on jobless figures released Friday that were better than forecast — but just slightly better than the previous month’s — Trump insisted a strong economy was the answer to fixing the country’s inequities… Presented, yet again, with an opportunity to unify the nation and address protesters demanding systemic change, Trump, once again, made no effort to do so.
By the way, at his press conference there was no social distancing between Trump and his entourage. None wore masks. And he took zero questions from reporters.
Since when did 13.3% unemployment, cities full of protesters over racial injustice, and well over 100,000 deaths in the US due to COVID-19 make the case that today is a “great, great day?”
My goodness we have eaten well! I know I’ve written that before. Tonight we had fried chicken breasts that Lynn had marinated in buttermilk. She made homemade macaroni and cheese and put together another great salad. Then she finished off by making a non-alcoholic slushy substituting grape juice for white wine in her regular recipe. Yum! In addition to all of the other skills that Lynn has that I always brag about, she’s a fantastic cook.
The statistics for today:
World 6,805,762 396,796
US 1,950,755 111,263
Virginia 48,532 1,453
Augusta County 124 2
These stats show some progress in Virginia. We’re still waiting to see what hot spots result due to all of the protesting and rioting. The news tonight said that eighteen states were seeing an increase in the number of cases. Virginia was not one of those. The CDC predicts that there will be up to 143,000 deaths in America by the end of the month. Brazil had over 1,500 deaths in the past 24 hours.
What would I do with my time if I didn’t walk and write? I’d be playing solitaire, probably. When we walk on a rainy day like today, we look at the hourly forecast on weather.com, the forecast on the app Dark Sky, and even at the radar. It worked today; we walked three times in all including a jaunt at the middle school after dinner, and totaled 7.7 miles. We did not get rained on at all. Friends of ours in Weyers Cave posted that they got over three inches of rain today.
June 6, 2020
This weekend’s forecast is much better. There’s no rain expected until Thursday. The highs Sunday and Monday are going to be in the low 80’s. When we go to Abingdon on Tuesday, there may be afternoon storms but we should still be able to do some walking.
Lynn and Cheryl Wright had made arrangements to go to yard sales this morning in Dayton. To be safe, they drove separately. While she was gone, I got all of my tomato stakes and pseudo-fence poles hammered into the ground. Then I went to Fort Defiance High School and walked three miles on the track.
Lynn does not like to walk the track. She says it is boring. I don’t mind because my mind is always miles away from there when I’m walking.
No matter when or where we walk, we see farmers working in their fields nowadays. I have a renewed respect for their work having seen it first hand repeatedly as we’ve done our hikes. Living here in the Shenandoah Valley you can’t get away from farms. This is hay cutting and baling season. Farmers have to first put on their mowing attachment to their tractors then mow acre after acre, usually by cutting the perimeter first then working their way into the center of the field. Then they have to let the hay air out to dry for at least a few hours then attach the raking attachment. It rakes the cut hay into rows. Soon thereafter the baling attachment is installed for either round or square bales. They drive over the lines of raked hay as the ingenious baler forms then ejects the bales. So the farmer has to go over his field three times: cutting, raking, baling. Then he has to move the bales to where ever they will be stored, sometimes involving a cart or wagon. Frequently they use another attachment similar to a fork lift to pick up the heavy round bales. The entire process is interesting to watch. Believe me, we have this year.
Jim called us during the morning via Facetime. Faron wanted to show us all of the things he had built with the Lego system we had given him for his 5th birthday. The label on the Lego box said it was for ages 9 and up. Regardless, Faron had made lots and lots of neat things. He is a smart boy!
I forgot to write yesterday that when we visited with Jim we were amazed at the infestation the Roanoke area has with cicadas. The noise was almost deafening from them. They would land on you though they don’t do any harm.
After Lynn went to the yard sales she got her hair cut. This time she went to a new salon, one in Mount Sidney that had been recommended to her by our neighbor Sharon Zaccaria. Lynn’s previous stylist told her she would not wear a mask so Lynn decided to look elsewhere to get her hair cut. It looks really nice. She said she felt safe there.
When we bought the tomato plants yesterday to replace those eaten by our rabbits, I asked how to keep the rabbits out. The man said that fencing was all he knew would work. This afternoon as I went back to my garden I noticed that we had some old fence wound around a pole not far from the garden. I got it out, unrolled it and found that it plus a second piece of old fence stashed there would be long enough to surround the garden. So I spent some time putting it up. It is only about three feet high, surely not high enough to keep the deer away, but perhaps the rabbits will have a little more of a chore getting to the tomato plants now. It doesn’t look great but not bad, considering.
Lynn and I walked a little before lunch up and down our neighbors driveway. Bee and Janet Myers have the luxury of having a row of trees alongside their driveway which makes for shade. We didn’t walk much but it was better than nothing.
Afterwards, Lynn was determined to walk some more. It was over 85o so I told her to walk to Mt. Pisgah while I drove the Leaport loop backwards to see how shady it was. When I met her at Mt. Pisgah I have her the bad news that the rest of the way was 30% shade, at best. Undeterred, she still wanted to walk. So she did as I drove my car ahead of her, parked and waited, half-mile at a time until she reached the bottom of the hilly and shadeless last mile and a half. She got in the car and we came on home. We did walk a third time after dinner and ended the day with a little over seven miles each. Not bad for a very hot and busy day.
It was a busy day. Just as we were about to start supper she got a text from Ann and Wes Ford inviting us to join them at the Marcelino vineyard, about ten miles from our house. There was a musician playing. It sounded good but it turns out the place was quite crowded. We sat not far from a man smoking a cigar while flies bugged us. The conversation was good with them, at least what I could hear. I didn’t want to get close enough to hear every word and it was hard to talk over the music. We did split a tasty peach wine slushy there.
It was disturbing to me that almost no one at the vineyard acted like there was a threat of COVID-19. People were sitting very close to each other, hugging old friends, and almost no one was wearing a mask. Social distancing was not to be found. Is it any wonder that Rockingham County, Harrisonburg, Shenandoah County, and Page County together have more cases of coronavirus than the entire state of West Virginia?
From the vineyard we drove to Smiley’s for ice cream. Lynn had her heart set on a milkshake of German Chocolate Cake ice cream. I had my usual. The Fords joined us there. The place was a zoo. I counted over 40 cars in the parking lot.
I came home tonight not feeling as safe as normal. There were just too many people everywhere I had gone in the evening. I feel betrayed by the public that ignores most of the safeguards which will keep us from catching the virus.
Here are tonight’s numbers:
World 6,970,640 401,964
US 1,988,544 112,096
Virginia 49,397 1,460
Augusta County 125 2
June 7, 2020
Beautiful day: Sunny, high of 81o. Why can’t every day be like this? In just no time, it seems like we went from having to wear a heavy coat and toboggan in order to walk to having to shun walking in the afternoon because it was too hot.
Central UMC had its monthly drive-by Communion Service today. In addition to Communion, we were also given two BBQ pork meals consisting of a pork sandwich, baked beans, chips, cole slaw, and cookies. Our church has so many wonderful, giving people.
By 1:00 we had walked around six and a half miles. We took a morning walk in our neighborhood and after lunch went into Staunton where we walked twice around Gypsy Hill Park. Again, the weather was superb.
In Staunton Lynn visited with her mother. Mrs. Hanger is still doing quite well. In just six weeks she will be 101 years old!
Lynn and I have visited many, many national parks during our travels. Surprisingly, one we have not been to is the one closest to our house, Shenandoah National Park. On a clear day we can see some of the park from our back yard. I’ve been trying to get her to go there to hike on a hot day, thinking that it would be cooler and shadier in the park. Today I looked at the park’s website to get more specifics. I found that we could get to a trail there labeled “easy” in just 59 minutes. It’s called the Turk Mountain hike. I suggested we go there today but she very understandably wanted to visit with her Mom today. And, she had invited Ann’s family to come over to our back yard tonight and enjoy a peach slushy. However, Ann’s allergies just don’t let her spend much time outdoors so I don’t know that this will happen. Perhaps we can visit Shenandoah National Park some time later in June. Today would have been a busy day there, anyway, since it’s a Sunday.
When I worked, especially in Rockingham County, I talked with many, many people every day. I constantly chatted with co-workers on the Math/Technology staff, other administrators, teachers, and salespersons. I got over 100 e-mails every day, many of which required a response on my part. Now, during a typical day I talk with Lynn. Period. Sometimes I’ll say a word or two to our neighbors or someone we’ll bump into that Lynn knows. But for the most part, she’s the only one I have meaningful conversation with. I’m not complaining because I think I am largely an introverted person. Thankfully, Lynn and I get along very well so our conversations are pleasant. Because of this lifestyle, I believe that my communication skills have declined significantly. I’ll take the blame for all of this; I don’t usually seek to talk to anyone else.
For walk #3 today we drove down to Bald Rock road on the banks of the Middle River. Like yesterday, there were several people there swimming and fishing in the not-so-clear water. But it was shady there and fairly level so we walked about a mile and a half.
Tonight’s news said that twenty states had an increase in COVID-19 infections. Here are the overall stats:
World 7,078,998 404,975
US 2,007,058 112,466
Virginia 50,681 1,472
Augusta County 132 2
Over 7 million cases in the world, 2 million in the US. Over 400,000 deaths in the world, 112,000 in the US.
With the glorious weather we had today, it only made sense to walk a fourth time. So after Lynn had made some yummy peach slushies (non-alcoholic), we headed to the middle school to walk some more. Our overall total for the day: 9.1 miles.
June 8, 2020
I had two items on my to-do list today: cutting the grass and going to the dump. I had them both done before lunchtime. Plus, we had time to take a three mile morning walk.
After lunch, Lynn and I went to Walgreens in Verona so she could get two vaccinations: Shingles and Hepatitis-A. Then we drove to Staunton and walked two laps around Gypsy Hill Park. By 2:30 we had accumulated 6.11 miles. It was a nice day to walk with temperatures in the low 80’s.
Several yards have Trump signs in them including a couple on one of our walking routes. Of course, Augusta County is very Republican so this isn’t a surprise. I am tempted to put a Biden sign in our yard but I honestly believe if I did someone would destroy my mailbox as vandals have been known to do in this area. I told Lynn today that if a really catchy sign came out I still might consider it. I’d probably go ahead and buy another mailbox, too.
Our major job today is to get ready for our trip which we’ve planned for Tuesday through Thursday. Here are the current plans:
On Tuesday we will leave early and drive to Roanoke to see the progress Jim has made on his boys’ swimming pool. Then we will drive to Draper where we will park at Draper Mercantile, walk for an hour or so on the New River Trail, then return to Draper Mercantile and eat a big lunch there. Then, pending on the weather forecast, we will either drive to Grayson Highlands State Park and walk there followed by going to Abingdon to the Comfort Suites. Or, if we don’t go to Grayson Highlands, we will go on to Abingdon and walk a little on the Virginia Creeper Trail. We’ll finish the day by driving to Bristol and eat ice cream and buy pastries from another of our favorite stores, The Blackberry Bakery.
On Wednesday, we will do what we did not do on Tuesday regarding the Virginia Creeper Trail and Grayson Highlands. The weather forecast for Wednesday appears to be the one with the greatest chance of thunderstorms. We had hoped to walk to a scenic place called The Channels Natural Area Preserve not far from Abingdon. Our friends John and Ginny Bauman recommended it to us. However, the website for this preserve says it is temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Apparently it is difficult to maintain social distancing there and it is a popular place to hike to.
On Thursday, we will drive to Hungry Mother State Park in Marion on our way home and walk the loop around the lake there. Then we’ll come on home.
We drove to Smiley’s so Lynn could get some ice cream and some for her friend Cheryl Kent. By the time we got back home it was time for dinner then an after-dinner walk. We ended up the day with almost 8.5 miles under our belts.
We had a real treat in the evening. We had made arrangements for the Gutshall grandchildren to come over and play outside. Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie rode their bikes, played basketball, played on the playground, and played tennis for almost two hours. It was SO good to see them all here again. It was the first time anyone had played basketball or tennis on our court since March. I even had a chance to hit some balls with the three boys.
Lynn treated them to peach or strawberry slushies which they loved. So did I. They are all good kids. It was really good to see them here again.
We still maintained social distance with them. After all, the pandemic is still going on. Here’s my daily proof:
World 7,193,438 408,613
US 2,026,493 113,055
Virginia 51,251 1,477
Augusta County 136 2
I’ll be writing this blog from Abingdon tomorrow night. It will be our first night away since the Greenbrier in March before this all began.
June 9, 2020
Whew! It’s almost 9:30 pm and I’m just starting to write. I feel like I’ve been driving and walking all day. But it has been a good day for us as we left home for the first time since early March.
We left home around 8:15 and drove straight to Roanoke to see the progress Jim had made on his backyard pool. He is awaiting an electrician to install a circuit for the pump. He has the area prepped now. The boys are very excited. Coen told us that there was one rule: you couldn’t go into the pool unless your Mom or your Dad was with you. Good thing he knows the rule!
We left Roanoke and followed our plans. First we stopped at Draper Mercantile and had a fine lunch there. It is right on the New River Trail so we walked for about three miles on the trail. It was hot but the trail had lots of shade which made it bearable.
From Draper, we drove to Abingdon and checked in at the Comfort Suites hotel. They have procedures in place to keep it very safe. We’ve felt fine the entire time we’ve been here. We actually didn’t stay at the hotel long in the afternoon before heading back out in the car for an hour+ drive to Grayson Highlands State Park.
This is a park we’d never been to before. Basically it is a huge park which sits on the top of a hill in a section of Virginia that is very, very sparsely populated. We elected to take a hike on one of the marked trails called the Twin Pinnacles Trail. It was listed as a moderately hard trail. For us, it was a little more than moderate. It was easy to follow the trail but the surface was tough. It was like walking in a dried up creek bed for some of the time. The rocks were numerous and of varying sizes. There was also some climbing stair-like rock sections. We normally walk a mile and a half in less than 30 minutes; it took is something like 75 minutes to traverse this trail. It was pretty in parts. And the temperatures in the highlands were ten degrees cooler than in Abingdon so we appreciated that.
We drove back to the hotel and ate a small supper then finished our plans for the day by driving to Bristol to the Blackbird Bakery. There we bought ice cream for dessert and I bought a donut for a late night snack. Plus we bought cinnamon rolls for tomorrow’s breakfast.
I mentioned in a previous post that the attendant here at Comfort Suites is Jamie Arnold. She gave us a $5 gift card for the Blackbird when we told her where we were going. She said she would never get to use it and told us to buy something with it. We told her that we’d bring her back something which we did. We found a Chocolate Mousse Cake for her.
When we returned to the hotel it was still daylight so we had time to walk around the neighborhood. We walked past a place where we used to enjoy lunch, the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center. It used to be called Heartwood. Right now it is closed. Next to it is the Virginia Highlands Community College which we walked through. All in all we got in a little over seven miles today.
On this walk we could see I-81 and could see a wreck which must have occurred just a few moments before we started our walk. A car was upside down in the median and another vehicle banged up on the shoulder. No one appeared hurt, though. I-81 is a dangerous and busy road. We got on it at exit 227 and got off at exit 14 for the hotel. Actually we drove to exit 3 to get to the Blackbird Bakery.
We didn’t get much news today; we listened to music instead as we drove. So I don’t know what happened nationally today but nonetheless here are today’s COVID-19 stats:
World 7,316,944 413,627
US 2,045,549 114,148
Virginia 51,738 1,496
Augusta County 137 2
June 10, 2020
Another very busy day! In two days we have visited four parks. We have two more planned for tomorrow on our way home.
Yesterday, as I wrote, we walked at the New River Trail State Park and at Grayson Highlands State Park. Today we walked at Natural Tunnel State Park and the Virginia Creeper National Park. Both were excellent days.
Our day began with a tasty breakfast. We each had an excellent cinnamon roll we had purchased from the Blackbird Bakery last night. Afterwards, we walked a little in the neighborhood then decided to drive to the Natural Tunnel State Park.
Throughout yesterday and today we’ve had to keep one eye on Google Maps and one eye on Weather.com and Dark Sky. During both days there were downpours and there were lots of times we spent walking. Yet never did we get wet. We were both lucky and observant.
The drive to Natural Tunnel Park took right at an hour. Strangely, to get from here in Abingdon to a Virginia state park, we had to drive through Tennessee. It turned out to be well worth the drive.
We paid our $5 entry fee at the park and drove to the visitor’s center. Ours was the only car in the entire lot. Indeed, until shortly before we left I believe we were the only visitors to the entire park. And it was a great park.
To get from the visitor’s center to the tunnel itself, we had to take a walkway down and down and down. Coming back up I counted 172 steps. They actually have a ski lift which takes visitors down to the tunnel but it only operates Friday – Monday. When we got there, the tunnel was huge. In fact, in the 1880’s the railroad line had laid a track through the tunnel alongside the river that actually has dug the tunnel over millions of years. Would you believe that while we were there a train actually came through the tunnel. I have lots of pictures of my website.
As I said, the trail back up was strenuous but we still had energy to walk so we took a hike along what was labeled as Lover’s Leap trail. Unlike the trail we had taken the previous day at Grayson Highlands, this trail was not primitive. Much of it was paved and it provided excellent scenery. We took a different trail back to the parking lot. It was also a fine walking trail. This park provided us with unexpected good natural beauty, great trails, and even clean bathrooms–all of which we had to ourselves!
After the hour’s ride back to the hotel we ate our yogurt lunch and once again headed out to walk. This time we drove to the Alvarado trailhead on the Virginia Creeper Trail. We walked back towards Abingdon on the trail which took us to the most beautiful bridge on the entire Creeper Trail, one that takes it over the Holston River. By the time we started walking the temperatures were in the low 80’s and the humidity was very high. Fortunately, the Creeper Trail has an excellent canopy of shade. Plus, the trail was very level. We walked about four miles in all before heading back to the hotel.
We got back and ordered dinner from Luke’s Cafe. We’d eaten there before, knew their food was good, and we weren’t disappointed. Lynn had a pimento cheese and bacon hamburger and I had a hot club sandwich.
We finished in time for, you guessed it, another walk. This time we went to the beginning of the Creeper Trail in Abingdon and walked one mile out and back, accumulating nine miles of walking for the day. During this walk we had a most amazing experience. As we started walking, Lynn said to me that a lady walking just behind us looked just like our friend John Bauman’s sister. We had met her once when John took us to her house in Marion. Having met this lady only one time, Lynn still recognized her. We waited until we were on our way back to town when we met her coming toward us on the trail. Lynn inquired and, sure enough, it was John’s sister. It was so coincidental that we met on this trail since neither of us live here.
We had to hustle back because this is Wednesday night, the night for the Hill Family Zoom. Everyone joined in tonight. Faron and Coen are a handful for Jim but they do participate as do Thomas, Georgia, and Betsy. Not much meaningful gets said during our forty minute Zoom sessions but I still love them.
After the Zoom, Lynn and I had just enough time to run to Abingdon’s ice cream store, The Ice Cream Stop, where she got her usual peanut butter and chocolate milkshake and I got a hot fudge sundae. We have eaten so well on this trip.
I told Lynn that before we left home I was afraid there would be times during our Abingdon stay that we would be bored. This has not been the case. During every spare minute at the hotel I’ve uploaded pictures. I’m up to 241 pictures posted thus far from this trip and we’ve got two more parks to go tomorrow.
We’ve been very fortunate with the weather. And, I think we had good plans for this trip. Thanks to both, we’ve seen lots that we’d not seen before in this section of Virginia despite the fact that we come here at least six times each year.
Again today I have not had a chance to see much news but here are today’s stats anyway:
World 7,451,523 418,872
US 2,066,401 115,130
Virginia 52,177 1,514
Augusta County 139 2
June 11, 2020
Our plans for this last day of our get-away were to get an early breakfast from Cracker Barrel. Unfortunately, it didn’t open until 8:00 so we decided to postpone breakfast until after a morning walk. We were able to walk on a third section of the Creeper Trail for two miles. We drove to the Watauga trailhead and walked there, then went to the Cracker Barrel to pick up our breakfast. We came back to the hotel and ate it.
Our children seemed to be concerned about our safety from COVID-19 on this trip. I think we’ve been very safe including this hotel. Every time we entered the hotel we wore our masks and the person behind the counter always had hers on. We could come up to our room on the elevator by touching only with our elbows. We could exit without touching any door handles. We brought our own disinfectant wipes; Lynn wiped down surfaces inside our room as soon as she walked in. We had no maid service during our stay. We really didn’t need it as there were sufficient towels, wash clothes, etc. provided for our entire stay. We did need more shampoo and toilet paper so we were able to put this down on an order form supplied when we checked in; they were left for us inside a bag outside our room. In other words, no one but us came into our room during our entire stay.
Our walks were all outdoors. There were few other hikers where we walked and maintained more than six feet of distance whenever we passed. Our food was all eaten in our room via pickups. Plus, the news here gave the statistics for coronavirus in this area which surprised us that they have significantly fewer cases here than where we live. In other words, I believe we were just as safe here as we would have been at home. I hope I’m right.
We would like to come back. One place we stopped at for a while yesterday was a rug discount store. Lynn wants to replace our living room rug. This store had rugs which cost considerably less than she thought we’d have to spend. Plus they ship for free. So I think we’ll be back although the Barter Theatre won’t be opening for a while. Actually, the Barter is so desperate to restart that they are going to be doing children’s performances at a nearby outdoor drive-in theatre starting in a few days. I don’t think we’ll be going to any of those performances. Another reason for coming back is to walk on the Channels trail when it reopens. I’d like to ride bikes on the Creeper Trail though Lynn won’t ride anywhere where there is a hill.
After breakfast we checked out of the hotel and headed for Hungry Mother State Park in Marion. It was only 40 minutes away. The park there has a large lake with a very nice trail all the way around its circumference. This hike was right at six miles, the longest one-time walk we’ve taken in a while. The weather couldn’t have been better and the trail was in good shape. It had only a few hills on it and had a canopy of shade nearly the entire way. Some of the trail could have been ridden on a bike but some parts would be very hard on a two-wheeler. I’m really glad we walked it.
The sound of cicadas rang throughout the hike. Like the trees around Jim’s house, the trees around the lake had thousands of them. They seem to especially like the rhododendron bushes. We also saw and heard them on our second walk of the day at Claytor Lake. One even startled Lynn when it landed on her.
The name Hungry Mother is a puzzling one. I found this online: Hungry Mother State Park in Virginia is named after Hungry Mother Creek. The creek was supposedly listed on a 1774 land survey as “Hungers Mother” creek. The Name “Hungry Mother” was not officially attached to it until 1929. The traditional story handed down for 200 years (and that park rangers still tell) is that the hungry mother is Molly Marley, a victim of a Native American raid on a Virginia settlement. Marley and her child were taken captive, but they escaped into the woods, where they found only berries to eat for many days. Molly eventually collapsed and died. Her child walked on and found a settlement, and cried “Hungry mother” to the residents. The child, not specified as boy or girl, led them to Molly’s body.
We ate our lunch on a picnic table at Hungry Mother then headed north on I-81. Our initial plan was to drive to Natural Bridge State Park but Lynn noticed that the cost of admission there was $8 per person and we’d not be arriving early enough to enjoy much of it. So, we instantly came up with a replacement: Claytor Lake State Park. I don’t ever remember going to Claytor Lake before. It turned out to be a good choice. Like the other parks, it had nice trails, well marked and not too difficult. We walked on the Lakeview Trail (which, it turns out, doesn’t have that many views of the lake), then on Claytor Lake Trail, and finally on Poplar Leaf Trail. On these trails at many places we saw thousands of holes in the dirt as if someone had drilled into the ground. As we were leaving the park, I asked a ranger if these holes were made by the locusts as they emerged after their seventeen years in the earth. He confirmed my suspicion.
On our way home we decided to order curbside pickup from Chicano Boy in Staunton. It was another good decision. We had never eaten there but Ann has told us many times how good their food is. She was right. We both had a salad with pork carnitas, mixed green, black beans, and cilantro-lime dressing. We also had “supreme potatoes” with pico, cotija cheese, and roasted cheese. For dessert we had slushies Lynn made for us tonight and also for her friends tomorrow.
After supper what did we do? Of course, we walked again. We walked two more miles on Leaport Road. So if you do the math: 2 miles on Creeper Trail, 6 miles on Hungry Mother Park Lake, 4 miles at Claytor Lake, 2 miles on Leaport Road plus some random other steps, we ended up with a personal record of 13.8 miles today! That’s more than a half-marathon. Lynn took a screen shot of her phone to prove it.
I also managed to find the time to upload all of my pictures and organize them into a Flickr album. It has over 250 pictures in it which prove what a great trip this was for us.
On our way back we talked about taking another similar trip, even possibly a super long drive to Oregon in October. That would be 42 hours of driving each way, though. I’m not sure I’m up to all that though the past three days were great. We truly had a great time. Tomorrow we celebrate 44 years of marriage–I’ll have lots more to say about that then. Time now to post today’s COVID-19 stats and get some rest after all that walking.
World 7,589,101 423,692
US 2,089,701 116,034
Virginia 52,647 1,520
Augusta County 139 2
June 12, 2020
Forty four years ago today was perhaps the most significant event in my life: Lynn and I were married at Central United Methodist Church in Staunton. My goodness how we’ve changed since then! Fortunately, our changes have brought us even closer together. I certainly appreciate her companionship but in this COVID-19 era it has been extraordinarily important to me. She has other friends she talks to on the phone and in person while for me, she is the only person that I have regular and significant conversations with. After all of these years I have developed a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for her. She is a gem of a partner and I love her deeply!
I gave her four cards this morning, two that I had purchased from hallmark.com and two that I made including pictures from our wedding. My favorite was one I made which had a picture from our wedding with the title “We’ve come a long way…” followed by a picture from our Italy trip with the caption “…We’ve gone a long way” and on the inside a picture from one of our walks with the title “We’ve got a long way yet to go…”
Since we just took a three day mini-vacation, we didn’t really plan anything special for our anniversary. Tonight we’ll just eat leftovers from last night’s food from Chicano Boy then go to Smiley’s for ice cream.
We did take a walk this morning, no surprise. The weather couldn’t have been better. While we walked our three miles, we talked with seven different people who stopped their vehicle or stopped what they were doing when we walked by. First we chatted with a man whose name we didn’t catch who rode his bike on Leaport Road as we left home. He told us he was 83 years old and still rides 20-25 miles. And we thought we were in good shape! Next we talked to the fellow who just cut, raked, and baled our hay, Steve McAlister, We wanted to see if he could dig the post holes for Lynn’s pergola idea. He said he could. Then we talked with our neighbors who live in the Baker’s old house. They are a young couple and though I don’t recall their names Lynn did teach the lady’s mother, Amy Weaver, at Fort Defiance High School. Then we chatted with our neighbors Bee and Janet Myers who were walking in their driveway. While the four of us talked, another neighbor and bicyclist, Dan Tratnack, rode past and stopped to tell us he and him wife were moving to New Hope, about five miles away.
I had left our tomato garden in good shape when we went to Abingdon. Yet when I looked this morning there were weeds started all over it again so I got the tiller our and tilled between the 20 tomato plants.
I’ve been stewing a little for the past several days about the door to our storage area under the patio. This is commonly known as the stinky room in our house. Indeed, even though I’ve had vents added to both sides it still gets way too little flow of air and way too much moisture so it is a breeding ground for all kinds of things you don’t want around your house. It is impossible to keep the door frame dry all of the time. Even though the door is a metal door its core is wood which inevitably rots with all the moisture after several years. In other words, I’ve replaced it several times since we’ve been living here. Just last week the hinges came off the door indicating that it was time to replace it again. I’m thinking of just putting a storm door on the outside since the only purpose of a door would be to keep animals out. There’s certainly nothing valuable there which needs to be protected. So I’ve spent a good bit of time looking online to see what the possibilities are.
Lynn was gone most of the afternoon at her friend Cheryl’s. Then she went to see her mother and sister Kay. When she came home we ate our dinner of leftover Chicano Boy salads then went to the Grottoes town park where we walked two laps, each 1.4 miles. That gave us a little over six miles for the day–plenty after the 13.8 mile day yesterday.
I looked through the news today hoping to find something positive about COVID-19 but I found little. In an article about Dr. Fauci, ABC News said “A vaccine isn’t expected until 2021 and there’s only one drug — remdesivir — that has shown modest improvements in patients.” Perhaps one bit of good news is that Virginia is not listed among the twenty states which is showing an increase in the number of cases. Here are the stats for today:
World 7,724,832 427,680
US 2,116,428 116,819
Virginia 53,211 1,534
Augusta County 141 2
June 13, 2020
The weather today was great for walking until late afternoon when it rained a little. So we took an early morning walk of three miles then an early afternoon loop walk of 3.6 miles. All in all, by dinnertime we had totaled 7.1 miles for the day. The temperatures were in the mid 70’s, just right for walking.
Again during our walking we ended up talking to more people who live in our neighborhood. First, Christ Sheets and his wife stopped when driving by us and asked, of all things, about a Christmas decoration we always put on our front porch. Lynn made the decoration by buying a large wooden H from Hobby Lobby then adorning it with Christmas tree ball ornaments which she hot glued to the wooden H. The Sheets couple was curious how Lynn had made it so she gave them a quick lesson.
When we got back to our neighbors’ house, the Michaels, who own the pig, dogs, and cows, Lacey stopped us to tell Lynn she had found some boards Lynn had previously asked her about. Lynn has been very interested in making a large WELCOME sign for our front porch with the letters painted on an old wooden board. Lacey had found some and gave them to us.
The last person we spoke with today was Eddie Michael who owns a construction and heavy equipment business that is run out of his property on Willow Spout Road, just one mile from our house. He was actually driving a golf cart between some of his property (he owns a high percentage of the lots around this area) and stopped to talk with us briefly.
Lynn’s interest in the WELCOME sign was piqued today when her friend Ann Ford asked her to come to her house to make a sign. Ann had the wood so Lynn went there and painted the board. She’s in the process of adding the letters of WELCOME from stencils. Now, with the boards from Lacey, she wants to invite some of her friends out here to have a sign-making party.
I spent a good bit of time while she was gone finding the best placement for her Pergola in our back yard. It is to be a hexagon shape with each side eight feet long. I placed a peg in the ground where I thought the middle of the hexagon should be. Then, by using an 8 foot string attached to the peg and an 8 foot board, I was able to place pegs in the six places where holes will be dug for the posts. Our neighbor Steve McAllister is going to bring his tractor to dig the holes and Jim has offered to set the posts and build the Pergola. We’re going to order the six swings for it online. I set the hexagon so that two of its sides would be parallel to the tennis court fence and where it would be shaded in the late afternoon and evening. It was a fun geometry task. We’re hoping to get the holes dug next week and have Jim come the week following.
In the meantime, where the Pergola will be causes us to remove the clothesline. The clothesline poles were old and bent anyway but I’ll have to dig at least one of them out this week before the post holes are dug. That may not be an easy task. I know they’ve been there for 50 years.
Lynn has decided that she wants to install a umbrella-style clothesline like her sister Kay’s. We’ll be ordering it from Amazon.
This afternoon we went to a 50th wedding anniversary outdoor party for some old friends of ours, Harvey and Christi Almarode. Harvey and I had very similar careers. Both of us taught high school math and in 1989 we both became Supervisors of Math, he in Augusta County and me in neighboring Rockingham County. We then spent at least twenty years sharing ideas, teaching courses together, and attending conferences together. I have a lot of respect for both of them. Both of them seemed very glad that we came to their party and, likewise, we were glad we went. There were lots of people there but we maintained our distance for the most part.
I wish there was news of some cure and/or vaccine for COVID-19. It seems like weeks since we’ve had any such news yet without a cure and vaccine we cannot return to life as we knew it. The news nowadays is more focused on racial strife and Trump’s idiocy. There are some stories about states which have gone back to normal life without the shelter-in-place restrictions then had an outburst of new coronavirus cases. Florida and South Carolina are among the twenty two states showing an increase in infections after re-opening too soon. There are still around a thousand Americans per day who die due to COVID-19.
To prove this, here are today’s numbers:
World 7,849,069 431,555
US 2,140,990 117,500
Virginia 53,869 1,541
Augusta County 143 2
Again Virginia is not among the twenty two states showing an increase in cases.
So we had a few minutes after dinner tonight. What to do? Oh yes, walk again. This time it was at Stewart Middle School. We ended up the day with 8.8 miles. Good for us!
June 14, 2020
It’s been thirteen weeks since Central UMC held morning worship services. Fortunately, Pastor Won Un has been able to record his messages and Music Director Yi-Ping Chen has provided superb music all done via YouTube. All I’ve had to do is to provide a link on the church’s website. Today’s music was especially good; two songs were performed by our friend John Bauman who played guitar and sang. Our church’s clientele is older; I can’t see us having regular morning worship services for quite a while.
We did drive to the church this morning, though not for church services. Millie Brown, the church’s fantastic gardener, offered some of her extra plants to members. We got five zinnias and came back and planted them by our mailbox. Lynn also got an inside plant which she re-potted.
Before coming back from Central, we stopped at Gypsy Hill park and walked two laps. After lunch we walked the Leaport Loop. The weather was a little cool but very pleasant. The total from these two walks was 6.7 miles.
Lynn’s sister Jane, her boyfriend Darrell, and her daughter Lee came over this afternoon to play tennis. I hit a little with them, too. Hitting a tennis ball always makes me feel better.
Tonight was our bi-weekly Covenant Group meeting. John and Eileen Myers volunteered to host at their house in Staunton. As usual, five couples were there. And as usual, we had a good time talking and keeping socially distant.
In coronavirus news, ABC news report that Florida had record levels of new COVID-19 cases this weekend as more beaches reopened in the Sunshine State. On Sunday, the Florida Department of Health reported its second consecutive day of more than 2,000 new daily cases, with 2,016. On Saturday, it reported a daily record of 2,581. There are twenty two states which are seeing an increase in cases.
The news also said that numerous colleges were reporting that a number of cases had been detected among athletes returning to campus in preparation for fall sports. I really, really doubt that there will be any football in America this autumn. As I’ve said before, we will not return to life as we know it until there is a vaccine for coronavirus and a treatment for those who have COVID-19.
I’ve written about all of the racial protests and even riots that were triggered with a black man, George Floyd, was killed by a Minneapolis policeman. He was buried last week and some of the unrest had settled down. Just when we didn’t need anything else, last night a policeman shot and killed a black man as he ran away from being arrested for being drunk in public at a Wendy’s restaurant where he fell asleep in his car in the drive-through lane. The riotous crowd burned the Wendy’s down last night.
Here are today’s numbers:
World 7,984,432 435,177
US 2,162,144 117,853
Virginia 54,506 1,546
Augusta County 146 2
Two numbers stand out to me. First, Virginia’s death total rose only by five from the previous day. Secondly, nearly eight million people have been infected worldwide.
June 15, 2020
Three months ago, on March 15, we attended our last community event–church services. Immediately thereafter schools and businesses were closed due to COVID-19 fear and we became isolated, an isolation that has continued every day since then. The night of March 15 Ann’s family ate dinner at our house. This was the last time her family or any other of our childrens’ families has gathered inside our home. We’ve seen them all at occasional times since then but always at a distance and almost always outdoors. Grandparents weren’t made to keep distance between themselves and their grandchildren.
One of our favorite places to visit is The Greenbrier. The hotel has re-opened, as have many places in West Virginia. However, today the Greenbrier County Health Department issued this release:
Graystone Baptist Church located in Ronceverte, WV has had an outbreak of Covid 19. So far, there have been 17 people that have tested positive with many other tests pending. The church leadership is working with the health department to insure all people exposed have been contacted and tested. The National Guard will be disinfecting the church, and church services have been discontinued at this point until Further notice. The health department encourages all those who are having symptoms or feel as if they have been exposed to be tested. And also continue to advise everyone to practice social distancing, good hygiene and wearing masks while in public.
On ABC news tonight they said there were 28 people infected at the church.
The weather has taken a turn for cooler temperatures. The high today is scheduled to be only 67o. It makes for great walking so the first thing we did after breakfast was to take our neighborhood walk.
Of course, we began the day with our neighborhood three mile hike. Afterwards Lynn’s friend Pat Collins came over to visit, socially distant, outside with her. While they were talking I decided to build a model of her Pergola so I could get a better idea of how it will all go together once we start digging and erecting it. I’m glad I did because now I have a visual of just how each piece will be set.
Today was both Garbage day and Food Bank pickup day. Lynn went with me on both runs and we were able to get them done by 2:00.
Tomorrow we’re going to visit Avon Hill where we MAY vacation with the Gutshalls and Foys from July 13-16. It is south of Charlottesville, about a 75 minute drive. I’m going to list questions below I want to have answered from visiting with the owner/manager:
- What will be our total cost?
- How much of a deposit must be made and when?
- What is the cancellation policy?
- Where will everyone sleep (12 of us)?
- What kinds of cleaning will take place before we come?
- When will the last previous tenant have been there?
- Is the pool completely ready for use?
- Is it true that no one else will be on the property, including pool, while we are there?
- What is the story on internet access?
- What activities besides swimming could the teenage boys do?
- Is there a basketball goal?
- What is provided and not provided? Linens & towels?
- Where is the nearest market for food and incidentals?
- If Jim’s family could be talked into a day visit, is that OK?
- Is it safe to wade/swim in the Rockfish river? If so, do you have tubes and/or kayaks?
- Is there an extra cleaning fee for using the pool?
Here are today’s numbers:
World 8,9108,625 438,583
US 2,182,908 118,282
Virginia 54,886 1,552
Augusta County 146 2
Our walking total for the day was 8.1 miles including a third walk of the day at Stewart Middle School.
June 16, 2020
Our plan for today was to go to Costco during the senior hour, come back home and walk, then go to Avon Hill to check out the property. Lynn had plans for making bread while all of this was happening. For several reasons it didn’t quite work out. First, Lynn had the opening time for Costco wrong. She thought it was 8:30 when it was really 9:00. Then she checked with her two Cheryl friends (Kent and Wright) who each said they wanted her to buy something for them. Actually Cheryl Kent asked Lynn to buy two 50 pound bags of sugar not for herself but for the Central Food Pantry. By the time we got home later than expected, waited on Cheryl Wright to pick up what we had bought for her, and getting Lynn’s bread baked, there was no time to walk. Plus it was raining very lightly.
So we headed to Avon Hill with a quick stop at Central UMC to drop off the sugar. It took us about 75 minutes to get to our destination, a pleasant drive through the country south of Charlottesville. There we met Sarah, one of the owners and manager of the property.
Sarah gave us a thorough tour. The Lodge was huge. It sleeps twenty-some. It has two dining rooms, a large kitchen, a rec room, and plenty of bathrooms. There are other buildings on the property with beds but we wouldn’t need any of them. The pool is a short walk away. It has its own kitchenette and bathroom. I took over 40 pictures which I forwarded to the Gutshalls and Foys once we returned.
We put down our deposit, 50% of the fee plus a $500 damage deposit which will be refunded. It is a lot of money but I believe it is worth it. We could have saved this money and the kids would have eventually inherited it but I think it best to spend it on a memory. We have plenty of money to live off and this cost is approximately the same as the Eden Resort cost which we canceled due to coronavirus. All we need now is for the other families to give us a thumbs up. Our deposit is refundable for a few days.
Sarah was easy to work with. I think we’ll have a good time. Lynn and I have already come up with some games and activities for the kids and their parents.
When we got back we took a quick walk, about 2.7 miles. Then we fixed dinner and celebrated by going to Smiley’s for our favorite dessert, ice cream. Our walking total for today is probably our lowest since the pandemic started. But it was raining this evening so we couldn’t add to our total after dinner. Our total for the day was only 4.2 miles.
A piece of good news is that Dexamethasone, a common steroid, has been shown to be effective in treating those with COVID-19. The news came from England which said it was going to start treating patients immediately with it. Here’s the quote from ABC news: As the world awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, researchers studying possible treatments have found a commonly used steroid called dexamethasone that might help save one-third of patients who end up on ventilators. While another drug, remdesivir, has been shown to help people severely ill with COVID-19 recover more quickly, this is the first time any drug has been shown to significantly boost the survival rate of patients on ventilators. Experts emphasized that people who are less sick may not benefit from dexamethasone, and implored the American public to adhere to preventative measures that include social distancing, mask wearing and hand hygiene. The study suggests that people in the latter, most severe stages will benefit, not patients from earlier stages. It won’t prevent them from moving into serious sickness, but once you are there, the drug can be given and you can possibly reduce your chances for mortality.
In other news, President Trump will give his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination in Florida on August 27, the Republican National Committee announced Thursday, where the state has reported a record number of new coronavirus cases on each of the last three days. He was supposed to have given it in North Carolina but the governor there wouldn’t budge on guaranteeing that restrictions would be lifted by August there. Trump has also scheduled a massive MAGA rally in Tulsa Oklahoma on June 20. Who knows how many COVID-19 cases will come out of there?
Here are today’s statistics:
World 8,248,074 445,140
US 2,207,305 119,111
Virginia 55,331 1,570
Augusta County 152 2
Another thousand Americans died in one day…
June 17, 2020
The hourly forecast for today and tomorrow, every hour, is rain. For June, the temperatures are very cold, too, with highs today not even reaching 65o. This will make for two very boring days with little or no walking. Yuck!
We did find two small windows of time to walk in the neighborhood but that was all the walking we could do the entire day. Our total for the entire day was only three miles.
On our first walk, Lynn got an e-mail at 9:55 that she was supposed to attend a Zoom meeting at 10:00 with ELL teachers in Rockingham County. She was on that call for two hours, then learned that she wasn’t supposed to have been invited to the meeting! The person who sent out the invitation didn’t remove her name (or others who were likewise not supposed to be tied up with this meeting) and she was not told during the call that it was supposed to be a committee meeting only. She did say that she learned some important things in the meeting.
We had a chance to talk to all three of our children today. We talked to Jim about building Lynn’s Pergola, which won’t happen for a few days due to the weather forecast. We talked to Kay and Ann about our Avon Hill trip in July.
The weather today was really bad–not a constant or heavy rain but a cold drizzle nearly all day long. Lynn and I wore sweatshirts inside the house today because the air conditioning, not the heat, is turned on now.
We made a Walmart run today to the Dayton store. As usual, I stayed in the car while Lynn ran inside and grabbed a couple of items. She wasn’t gone long and said she was socially distant from everyone there and wore her mask. She was happy to be checked out by a former ELL student who said he had just graduated from high school and was going to Mary Baldwin this fall.
For dinner tonight we made another car run to Rockingham County, this time to Penn Laird to Vito’s Pizza Pie. We got our favorite, Soprano, of which we ate less than half tonight and will also have for dinner tomorrow night.
I worked a long time today on a family game that we’ll be playing at Avon Hill. I don’t want to reveal any more about it in this blog.
We had our usual Wednesday night blog tonight without Ann. The weather was too rotten for her to join us; she has to do it outside because her Verizon signal inside her house is too weak. It was good to see Faron, in particular, talking so much.
I didn’t have a chance to check the news tonight but here are today’s coronavirus stats anyway:
World 8,393,096 450,452
US 2,234,471 119,941
Virginia 55,775 1,583
Augusta County 157 2
June 18, 2020
There are two types of errors that can be made with a prediction: predicting that something will happen but it doesn’t or not predicting that something will happen but it does. The people at weather.com must think that the latter is the worse thing to do. So they frequently predict that it will rain when it does not. That was certainly the way it happened today. I wrote yesterday that every hour in today’s forecast had rain in it. Yet it did not rain from 6:00 am until 5:00 pm. In fact, it was sunny at times. It may not have rained before 6:00 am–that was just the time I got up–so for at least eleven consecutive hours the forecast was wrong. Even when it rained at 5:00 it was a light shower which quickly ended.
I should be happy it didn’t rain because we got in two good walks in the morning and early afternoon, our usual neighborhood walk and the Leaport loop. That netted 6.6 miles for us. After that, Lynn had a webinar to do online so I got my grass cut, something I did not believe was possible yesterday. What bothers me about this type of weather prediction is that you can’t plan anything for fear that the forecast will hold true.
This reminds me of an experience I’ve had with some doctors. They will review your symptoms and give you a laundry list of everything that could be wrong, some of which might be fatal. Then you’re supposed to be happy when the actual cause of your symptoms is something minor. I had that experience back in December. I had a case of pneumonia a few years ago so when I visited my respiratory doctor, Dr. Degene, at Sentara-Rockingham Memorial Hospital, he said he would like for me to have another CT scan to make sure it had cleared up entirely. When the doctor who reviewed my scan reported, here’s what she wrote: “Multiple ill-defined nodules and areas of nodular consolidation are seen throughout the right lung. Findings could represent infection, inflammation (both acute or chronic) or malignancy. Short-term follow-up is recommended with CT in 1-3 months.” I panicked when I read malignancy. My gosh, I’ve got lung cancer, I thought. I immediately made an appointment to talk with Dr. Degene. While he didn’t quite laugh at me, he did make it clear to me that I did not have lung cancer and showed me the scan so I could see what she was reporting about. He said the spots were likely nothing and agreed that a follow-up CT scan would be appropriate. All that was before COVID-19, of course, so I haven’t had that follow-up.
Governor Northram announced today that although Virginia’s COVID-19 record is improving, the state will not be moving into Phase 3 of reopening yet. When it does start, here are some of its features:
- Virginia’s 50-person limit on gatherings established in Phase 2 (that was an increase from the original 10-person limit) will expand to a 250-person limit
- Non-essential retail establishments’ capacity limit will be lifted, but physical distancing still required
- Restaurants’ capacity limit will be lifted, but physical distancing still required
- Entertainment venues (including museums and zoos) will have their capacity limit raised to 50% with a maximum of 1,000 people in any space
- Gyms and fitness centers will have their capacity limit raised from 30% to 75%
- Personal grooming services will still need to follow all existing distancing requirements
- Childcare services can reopen across Virginia
- Overnight summer camps remain closed in Phase 3
- Public pools will be allowed to open up to 75% capacity, with distancing requirements in place
Today’s coronavirus stats are as follows:
World 8,552,653 455,190
US 2,258,361 120,542
Virginia 56,238 1,586
Augusta County 164 2
I believe that Virginia’s additional deaths from yesterday, 3, is the lowest number since I started entering the data on April 20. I will be elated when that number is zero.
Florida, Arizona, California and Texas set a record today for new COVID-19 cases. Thirteen football players at the University of Texas tested positive. In Arizona, 57% of the new cases are in people under age 45. In Texas the governor refused to issue an order that people wear masks but the California governor made mask wearing in public mandatory.
I worked more today on my game activity for Avon Hill. It is coming along nicely. I think we’ll have fun with it.
June 19, 2020
Things are starting to get moving on Lynn’s Pergola project. While we were out on our walk this morning we ran into Steve McAllister who said he could bring his tractor and dig the holes tomorrow morning. So we called Jim to see if he could come next week to get it constructed. He wanted us to get an appointment at Simmons Auto Repair for his car while he is here so they can fix a leak on his oil pan, so we called them and they said Thursday would work. It looks like he’ll be coming here then.
When we got home from the walk I called Martin’s Native Lumber and ordered the lumber we need which consists of six 6″ x 6″ x 10′ posts, six 6″ x 6″ x 8′ beams, six 2″ x 6″ x 8′ supports, and twelve 2″ x 2″ x 8′ boards to support the posts while they are being set. Also on that order were 18 bags of concrete, each 80 pounds. They are going to deliver it here on Monday morning. Lynn hasn’t ordered the swings yet. I guess she will do that soon.
My next chore was to cut the clothes line down and dig out the post which was sitting in the way of the Pergola. It was set in concrete so it wasn’t real easy to dig out but in a half hour or so I got it out of the ground and rolled it out of the way. When I did this I decided to shift the entire Pergola toward the tennis court two feet or so. That required remeasuring everything but I finally got that done. So tomorrow morning Steve will dig six 36″ deep holes for the Pergola posts.
I have done lots of measuring and thinking about this Pergola. This part of the project I don’t mind. It’s actually doing the work that I have no confidence in my own abilities, and for good reason. I’d be a much better architect than contractor.
Lynn has a project of her own she’s spending time planning out. It is to buy and then personalize shirts for our Avon Hill vacation. Last year she ingeniously came up with the idea of buying everyone a colorful shirt and putting the words “2019 COUSINCATION” on each of them. I’m not sure what she’ll put on this year’s shirts.
In order for her to begin her project she needed shirts. Today they were on sale at Michael’s though she also had to go to Walmart to get some sizes. She was able to get them all and paid a great price for them, especially at Michael’s. She is such a good shopper! Sometimes I may get a little upset at how much shopping she does or how much she spends in all, but she never, never pays too much for anything.
Another project I’ve been working on are family games for the Avon Hill trip. I’ve got two of them pretty much ready to go. I won’t write any details here so as to not give anything away early. I’ve also been working on a photo scavenger hunt for there like the kids do at all family vacations.
Between showers we got a second walk in today. Dark Sky first told us we had only 22 minutes to walk before the rain was to come but once we started walking the forecast changed so that it wasn’t to rain for 35 more minutes.
Our weather almost always comes from the west or southwest. We can usually see what Nashville is having today and figure out what we’ll have tomorrow. But the current storm is coming from a low pressure area settled in the midwest which is rotating winds counter clockwise. So for the past several days our weather has come from the southeast. This is highly unusual for us. What Charlotte has now will be our weather later. Tomorrow morning is supposed to be dry and should be a good time to get our Pergola holes dug.
Trump said today that the coronavirus was “fading away” as he plans to have a huge rally tomorrow in Tulsa. There will be 20,000 packed into an indoor arena there with masks only suggested, not required. There may be up to 100,000 supports of his in the area. Health officials there are seriously worried. In a message the opposite of Trump’s, the CDC said that there would be 145,000 deaths in America by July 11. In Texas, hospitalizations are up 108% since Memorial Day. Trump warned would-be protesters in Tulsa to beware; they would not be treated nicely like they were in New York or Minneapolis.
I do not wish coronavirus on anyone, including Trump supporters. I do feel sorry for the health care providers in the area who will have to deal with the inevitable uptick in cases as a result of his selfish desire to have people chant his name and show support for his racist, wealth-based policies. I do feel like those who get the virus from attending this rally are getting what they are asking for. Some still say it is overblown or a hoax. They’ll find out…
In Virginia, while we do not have the growth of COVID-19 cases the way many southern states do, we still have a caseload that grows day after day, as my statistics have shown. Here are today’s numbers:
World 8,735,990 461,522
US 2,294,246 121,379
Virginia 56,793 1,602
Augusta County 166 2
Today is Juneteenth, the day that marks the end of slavery. There were marches in many cities, all peaceful.
We were able to get in a third walk after dinner, upping our total to 7.5 miles for the day. The temperature was nice for walking, too.
I can’t help but think and think about the Pergola (a project that was not my idea). Tonight we used my new laser level to see how far out of level the six spots were where it will go. It turns out that the upper two post locations are approximately 12″ higher in elevation than the lower two. I suppose we’ll try to compromise and set the lower two 30″ instead of 36″ in the ground, then cut off 6″ from the posts on the upper end. That will leave the entrance at 6′ 6″ instead of 7′. I’m not sure…
June 20, 2020
Thirty seven years ago Jim was born. Like all of our children, we are excessively proud of him. He is a good father, teacher, coach, fix-it man, worker, and son. He has taken after his mother in developing a huge set of skills which he puts to good use. I am looking forward to having him work with me on Lynn’s Pergola project. He has a very good mind for projects.
After a morning three mile walk we ate lunch a little early because Steve McAllister told us he’d be here around noon to bore the holes for the Pergola. He got here and it took less than an hour to get six 36″ holes into the ground in our back yard. He is an superbly nice young man, Ann’s age. He wouldn’t even let us pay him for it because he take our hay for free. The hole drilling went so easy with his auger attached to his tractor. This area of Augusta County is very rocky but, thankfully, he didn’t hit any. Again, he was in and out of here in no time.
I discovered that I could order the remaining hardware and other things we needed from Lowe’s online. I placed the order and waited for Lowe’s to e-mail me that the order was pulled and ready to be picked up. Now that’s the way to shop at Lowe’s! Plus, because I signed up for online ordering, I got $5 off on my order.
Waiting to hear from Lowe’s, I got energetic and dug out the second of our old clothesline poles. These were very heavy, made of iron pipes set in a concrete cylinder with a base approximately 18″ deep and about 12″ in diameter. Basically for each of them I dug around each until I could push the pole down to the ground then rolled the heavy base out of the hole. Lynn helped me roll out the one I did today.
The Lowe’s e-mail came right before we ate dinner. So we ate then took the truck to Lowe’s where two employees loaded our order onto the truck. Basically, if all goes well, Jim and I will get this project done without either one of us going into any store. Cool.
After we unloaded our order at the house, we took our second walk of the day. The app that we use to predict the weather, Dark Sky, said it wouldn’t rain but it was thundering when we left home. When we got to the one mile mark the skies looked dark so we headed back home. As we did, Dark Sky updated its forecast to say it would rain in twenty minutes. We walked fast and got home just in time. Our total for the day wasn’t much, 5.5 miles, but that’s OK.
Soon after we got home I got a great surprise. Gus showed up at our back door carrying a HUGE salted caramel chocolate chunk ice cream cake from Smiley’s. It was from the Gutshall’s for Father’s Day. What a great, great gift! After we each had a piece, Lynn cut the rest into individual pieces which we froze for the future. Yum!
Much of the news tonight is about Trump’s Tulsa Rally. Six workers who helped set up the rally have now been tested positive for COVID-19. Who knows how many of the 20,000 idiots who pile in there will exit with the virus in their respiratory system?
Oklahoma is one of the many states with coronavirus cases increasing, not decreasing. In general, states from Virginia north are doing OK with containment while southern states are becoming the hotbeds.
Here are today’s figures:
World 8,905,939 466,250
US 2,329,817 121,979
Virginia 57,433 1,607
Augusta County 167 2
June 21, 2020
Father’s Day began great for me. Lynn not only gave me two very sweet cards but also two Volkswagen Bus toys that she had repainted herself to match the one we had when we were first married. That bus carried us on our honeymoon and newborns Ann and Kay back and forth between Staunton and Morgantown.
Trump’s Tulsa rally was a real bust. He claimed there were millions who requested tickets. In reality, the 19,000 capacity arena had only 6,200 of his maskless followers according to news reports. He blamed the poor attendance on coronavirus and admitted that he had told his people to test fewer people so there would be fewer positive results. How stupid!
Trump also lied and said that protesters kept people from getting into the arena. The reality was that every single person who tried to get in got in. One reporter said that there were at most 175 people there protesting against racial injustice and all of them were peaceful. So if there were a million who registered for his big ego event, there were 993,800 no-shows.
My confidence in people to do the right thing was somewhat buoyed. Even Republicans saw that no one had any business in a venue like that in Tulsa. Social distancing isn’t just for Democrats. Too bad our President is such a poor example.
I also had a nice Facetime chat with Jim, Faron, and Coen this morning for Father’s Day. They were playing outside. The little boys were very talkative and cute.
Lynn and I had a very pleasant morning walk in our neighborhood. We walked one mile, returned home for a bathroom break, then walked two more. The weather was very favorable.
When we walk we inevitably think of things to do back at home. The issue is remembering them when we return! I’ve found that I need to do these things first thing when we walk in the door.
After lunch, we drove to Front Royal to meet Kay and her family. They were late getting there but that was OK. We met at an ice cream store, Spelunker’s, where Kay got milkshakes for Lynn and me while we went to Eastham Park. The park had a nice greenway for walking on, with a shady canopy, and we walked and drank our milkshakes. It was a good visit with the Foy family. They gave me some homemade oreo cookies they had made plus a nice Life is Good tee shirt with a picture of a bicycle on it and the words “Mobile Device.”
Walking with them on this greenway plus our morning walk made the daily total 5.5 miles.
On the way home we called Ann to see if her family could meet us at our house around 7:00, which they did. The weather started taking a turn for the worse but Betsy and Freddie still got some good bicycle riding in on the tennis court before the downpour erupted. Our visit with them was short but sweet.
I feel so blessed this Father’s Day. I have a superb family including world’s best wife and three successful children who themselves have excellent families. I have eight talented grandchildren that I love being around. I got to talk to every one of them today. God has been so good to me, indeed, and I am very thankful. One of the reasons that today was such a good Father’s Day is that I spent nearly every single minute of it with Lynn. You know she’s special when, in effect, we’ve been locked up together for over three months and I still love spending time with her.
Tonight I stayed up to watch the interview with John Bolton who wrote the tell-all book about Donald Trump entitled The Room Where It Happened. I’ve already got a very low opinion of Donald Trump; this interview well justified my opinions.
World 9,038,807 469,604
US 2,356,655 122,247
Virginia 57,994 1,611
Augusta County 169 2
June 22, 2020
This morning featured a busy schedule. It was counting day at Central UMC so I met Sam Richardson there at 9:00 to make the weekly deposit. I had to hustle because the delivery truck from Martin’s Native Lumber was due at our house at 10:00. Given the afternoon thunderstorm forecast I needed to get the wood and concrete into our garage this morning.
Thank goodness we had the materials delivered. My little truck could not have handled six 6″ x 6″ x 10′ posts, six 6″ x 6″ x 8′ beams, six 2″ x 6″ x 8′ supports, twelve 2″ x 2″ x 8′ supports, and eighteen 80 pound bags of concrete. I was plenty tired when these items were all safely in the garage.
Because of my meeting and the delivery, we didn’t get a chance to walk until after lunch. By then it was hot and humid, too. We walked twice during the day, once after lunch and once after dinner. Our after dinner walk was a little longer than usual; our total for the day was 6.5 miles.
Jim is coming on Thursday to work on the Pergola. I hope to do a little more preliminary work before he comes. Our first task will be to set the six posts in concrete. While they are curing we’ll take on other tasks I need his help with. I am so thankful for having Jim!
Part of our walk tonight was connected to getting the oil changed in my Honda Civic. Simmons Auto will change it tomorrow; we drove there tonight then walked back home including a detour to part of the Leaport loop. The highway department is replacing a bridge on part of that loop so we walked to see their progress. It involved an easy 0.9 mile walk down but a much harder one back since the last part is a very steep incline to Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church.
The afternoon was full of errands. Lynn’s mother had taken a nasty fall this morning so she wanted to stop by The Legacy and walk with her. Her Mom was a little confused at time, she said. All of us are still pulling for her to make her 101st birthday on July 30. She also wanted to buy some shirts for tie dying at Avon Hill. Between the Michael’s store in Waynesboro and Harrisonburg we were able to get almost all of them (and, of course, at a great price thanks to Lynn). Plus there was one missing lag bolt from my original hardware order from Lowe’s in Staunton that I was able to find at the Waynesboro Lowe’s. Again, I ordered online so we didn’t have to leave the vehicle.
I keep waiting on the breakthrough news about COVID-19, the news which will have us start thinking about ending this isolation. Sadly, there is no such news yet. Here are today’s numbers:
World 9,179,919 473,461
US 2,388,050 122,609
Virginia 58,465 1,620
Augusta County 171 2
June 23, 2020
Our news today wasn’t good. My brother Butch messaged to say that his wife Ann had what appeared to be a stroke. She was taken first to the local hospital in Athens, OH, then moved 100 miles north to Columbus OH. We messaged and talked with him several times today. She was fine this morning. They had breakfast together this morning. He said that she was doing much better than she had been so he wasn’t alarmed when she said she had a headache and wanted to lie down for a while. When he checked on her a little later she was unresponsive and apparently has been that way all day today. This is so sad for her, Butch, and son Wiley. As of tonight she is in ICU in Columbus recovering from a procedure that was done today there. He is allowed to visit her there.
We’ve debated driving there but he convinced us not to. As he said, only one person is allowed into the hospital and he will likely be there all the time he can so we wouldn’t even get to see him. So we’re going to wait and see what happens. It does not sound good.
Tonight’s news describes a “disturbing surge” of infections especially in the south. Many idiots still continue to defy wearing masks in states like Arizona where hospitals are overflowing. And where is our President going to another of his rallies tonight–Arizona. Dr. Fauci strongly advised against people crowded in arenas like Trump’s rallies.
There was once a hope that the summer months might bring a slow down in coronavirus. This has absolutely not happened. Even Novak Djokovic has tested positive. He recently organized a tennis tournament where several people caught the virus.
Today was a humid day. We managed to get in four different walks. We began by walking up to Simmons Auto repair to get my Civic which had its oil changed this morning. Then, mid-afternoon, we walked our marked-off two mile hike on Leaport Road. Tonight we tried walking around the middle school track but the rain came. At that point I thought the 4.7 miles we had done for the day was it. By 8:00 the storm had left the area and Lynn suggested one more walk so we did. We walked our two mile route one more time which gave us a grand total of 6.7 miles. As I like to say, not bad for two old people.
I did get some work done on the Pergola. The auger that dug the holes left a pile of dirt surrounding each hole so today I cleaned all of them off. Plus, I used the post hole digger to make sure each hole measured 36″ deep. This was hard work for me. I may be in fairly good shape but I have little upper body strength. Digging with the post hole digger requires that kind of strength especially as you lift the implement out of the hole loaded with dirt. In my case, the dirt was more frequently mud.
Today was also meeting day at Central United Methodist Church. I led a Zoom Finance Committee meeting today from 1:00 – 1:45 then served as secretary for the Administrative Council Zoom meeting from 2:00 – 3:45. At the Council meeting we decided to not have any worship services in July.
Governor Northram announced today that Virginia would enter into Phase 3 on July 1. I don’t look forward to our COVID-19 rates after that. Lately we’ve been holding steady in new cases which is a lot better than much of the country has, especially places like Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, California, Georgia, and Arizona. Here are the numbers:
World 9,341,598 478,901
US 2,423,347 123,484
Virginia 58,994 1,645
Augusta County 171 2
Wow, Virginia had 25 new deaths in one day. The daily average has been around 7. At least there were no new cases in Augusta County.
June 24, 2020
The weather today was the best we’ve had in a while: sunny with low humidity and the highs in the low 80’s. As a result, I made it a work outside day. I tied up my twenty tomato plants, weed-whacked a good bit, cut all of the grass, went to the dump, and sprayed weed killer in lots of needed places. That one sentence represents several hours of work.
It was a good day for walking, too. We walked our 2.7 neighborhood route twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The afternoon walk was during the heat of the day but the low humidity and a gentle breeze made it very comfortable. By dinner time we had walked over six miles. After dinner we went to the middle school and upped our total for the day to 7.5 miles. Not bad for two old people, huh?
The news from Butch about Ann was somewhat encouraging. She responded to some yes/no questions today by nodding and was able to move her toes when requested. Butch talked to a couple of attending physicians who seemed optimistic. One told him “we’re not out of the woods yet but we’re on the edge.” That was very good to hear.
Lynn and I have enjoyed some afternoon food treats a couple of times this week. She and I both have received from Ann & family ice cream cakes from Smiley’s. Hers is Death by Chocolate and mine is Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk. We have been eating one piece as a mid-afternoon snack. Delicious!
We’re in a routine where we fix (rather, she fixes) enough food for two nights. We eat half each night. Last night and tonight, for example, we had country ham and homemade biscuits, lima beans, and salad. We’ve gotten quite hooked on Brianna Poppyseed Salad Dressing.
Lynn’s mother is getting weaker. She is hoping to make her 101st birthday on July 30 but it is questionable now. Her hospice nurse said she is not actively in the dying process but Mrs. Hanger wants to sleep all the time now and have someone feed her. Her mind has always been so good–what a blessing to Lynn and her family. We can all hope to live that long and maintain our senses that long.
Lynn has been working more on her ideas for Avon Hill. I can’t divulge her plans nor the games I’ve worked on. I just hope we are able to carry through with this vacation. We’ve already paid for it in full. The owner/manager, Sarah, did say she would be understanding in case of a death in the family.
The COVID-19 news is same old, same old. Texas, Florida, and California cases are increasing exponentially. In Florida, most of the new cases are in the under 35 age group. Who can be surprised?
Here are the daily numbers:
World 9,515,5424 438,884
US 2,462,141 124,253
Virginia 59,514 1,661
Augusta County 174 2
According to the Virginia Department of Health website, Augusta County now has 8 hospitalized cases, more than I recall seeing before.
This is Wednesday so the evening concluded with our weekly family Zoom meeting. Betsy was particularly interested in Zooming tonight so she could show the rest of the family their two new kittens. Jim was too busy to join in but Betsy and Georgia were on full time. We love seeing them!
June 25, 2020
Jim called at 8:00 to say he was almost at our house so from that time until when I’m writing this late at night I have been working or traveling with him. Zero walking for me today!
Jim had his car worked on at Simmons today so as soon as he dropped off his tools we headed there then I brought him back home to begin working on the Pergola. We were successful in setting six 6″ x 6″ x 10′ posts in concrete though it took most of the day. We had good assistance from Henry and Gus. We also had good help from our neighbor Curtis Sheffer. There were twenty bags of concrete to be mixed. No sooner had Jim mixed his second bag, very labor intensive, he said he thought Curtis had a cement mixer. A quick call to him and soon he showed up in our driveway with it loaded in his car. It made Jim’s concrete mixing work much easier.
The concrete takes at least four hours to set so our goal was to get the six posts mounted today, let them set overnight, then work tomorrow on the vertical crossbeams which connect the posts. We did run into a problem–we discovered that although the posts are eight feet apart, in order for the beams to sit firmly on top they need to be a little over eight feet in length. The ones we had delivered were only eight feet long. So we called the lumber place which delivered them and asked if we could exchange six 6″ x 6″ x 8′ beams for 6″ x 6″ x 10′ beams. They are going to swap these first thing tomorrow. We’ll then have to cut the 10′ lengths down to the appropriate length for the beams. This lumber is very, very heavy so it won’t be easy to get this done tomorrow morning. Henry and Gus are coming back to help.
Besides getting the Pergola’s posts set, Jim also helped replace a door to the storage area below our back porch. The old one had rotten out and I had bought a replacement one from Lowe’s which was waiting for him this morning.
Jim also helped me work on the kids’ playground set. It had gotten a little out of level. I had hoped we could just prop up the low side but when we jacked it up we discovered that its eight 4″ x 4″ posts all had rotted on the bottom from having sat on the ground for ten years. I had bought four concrete post holders which I thought we could use to level it but the ore we looked the more we decided the best bet would be to cut off about 4″ from each post (the rotten part) then set the posts back on top of the concrete post holders. We needed four more post holders to accomplish this but we were able to pick them up tonight at a Lowe’s. That’s all planned for tomorrow if we get the Pergola work done.
It was exhausting to work although Jim did 95% of the work. He had plans for the evening, though. He had discovered on Facebook Marketplace a Briggs and Stratton Gasoline Generator he wanted for his house. If his house loses electricity in a rainstorm, then the sump pumps can’t empty the water that comes into his basement so he wanted to have a generator to use in that case. The problem is that the generator he located at a great price was in Barboursville, about a 75 minute drive away. So we ate dinner (Chicano Boys which Lynn picked up) then headed to get it.
It turned out to be a very good deal, I believe. For $300 he got a generator which was probably worth $600 or more. We checked it out when we arrived at the guy’s house who was selling it. It started right up and ran a power saw of Jim’s we had brought with us to use as a check.
We didn’t get back home until after 8:30. Then we ran over to Ann and Josh’s hosue to get an extra step ladder for our work tomorrow. By the time we got back home and I showered it was well past my usual bedtime but I still wanted to write a little on this.
I didn’t see any news today so I don’t know what’s going on in the world, especially the COVID-19 infected world, but at least I can provide today’s stats:
World 9,710,205 491,783
US 2,504,588 126,780
Virginia 59,946 1,675
Augusta County 178 2
For the record, Jim and I did travel together today in my truck. However, the entire time we had our windows down to guarantee that lots of air flowed through. I think we were safe.
June 26, 2020
Another full working day with no walking. I couldn’t have walked tonight no matter what–I was exhausted from a full day of working on Lynn’s Pergola. The good news is that we got it complete–that is, everything except for the swings which are on order. Well, technically I have six more 8″ lag bolts to put in but there are 18 in there now so it is very sturdy.
Jim stayed with us last night and was up early today to work. Overnight the posts had set so today’s task was to get up the horizontal beams and braces. It might sound like a simple task but it was far from that. First of all, it was a hexagon but not a perfect hexagon. The holes dug by the tractor just couldn’t have been accurate to the nearest inch so the posts were very close to being equidistant from each other and from the center but differed by an inch or so. This just made the cuts tougher. What especially made the cuts tougher is that they were made on very, very heavy 6″ x 6″ x 10′ beams. It took four of us, Jim, Henry, Gus, and me to handle them. Well, to be honest, the other three did most of the lifting. Each beam had to be set up on top of the 7′ high posts, measured, broiught back down, cut, put back up and measured on the other side, brought back down and cut again. This was for six beams. It took most of the day but it turned out fine.
After dinner tonight Jim and I put the finishing touches on it, adding the braces and other supporting screws. And we cleaned up all the mess and our tools. I have taken pictures of this project from start to finish and will be posting them on my website, http://joehillfamily.com
Jim texted us when he got back home tonight. I’m sure he was tired, too. This is what I texted back to him. In his text he thanked us for our hospitality. “Thank you so much! You will be paid soon, we promise. We are so lucky to have such a talented, smart, strong, hard-working, and loving son. Mom and I both have said this to each other tonight. Take care of those good boys and we’ll talk again soon. Not sure when I’ll be down with your stuff in my truck but it won’t be long.”
I had a wonderful uncle Hamp. He was like Jim–talented, smart, helpful, and loving. At various times in my life I worked with him and my Dad doing odd jobs. Whenever something unexpected came along in a project, Hamp always called them “minor details.” The Pergola project had a lot of “minor details.” We had to send Lynn or Ann out fo Lowe’s or Harbour Freight a couple of times to buy things we needed but didn’t have such as specialized drill bits. Then figuring out how to cut a 6″ x 6″ beam at an angle close to, but not always exactly, 30o was something JIm had to deal with. The 8″ lag screws took exceptional strength to screw in, which I don’t have, but we used the fact that by adding a pipe to the end of a socket wrench we could get a longer lever arm which made the task easier.
I’m not going to go so far as to say this was fun. It was not because it was something I had fretted about for weeks. It was an expensive project. It was a project that required lots of strength, something I don’t have. But the comradery of working with Jim, Henry, and Gus did make it fun. I am fairly thankful now that we have a Pergola, sans swings, in our backyard. I am extremeliy thankful that I have such a wonderful family.
I have no idea what went on in the world today. I didn’t watch any television or spend time on Facebook. I will post the daily COVID-19 statistics since I’ve done this every day:
World 9,903,774 496,796
US 2,552,956 127,640
Virginia 60,570 1,700
Augusta County 179 2
I’m too tired to write any more tonight!
June 27, 2020
After two days of exhausting work I awoke feeling surprisingly good. Plus, last evening while finishing our work on the Pergola I lost my balance and fell backwards off of a step ladder. Amazingly, the fall did no damage and I had no trouble sleeping last night and no soreness as a result. I was truly lucky.
At a news conference yesterday, Vice President Pence boasted that “we flattened the curve” — though the curve for the number of new confirmed cases has headed sharply upward again in June after a decline and then plateau in April and May. CNN news said it simply, “he lied.” ABC news said “Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Tennessee and Utah all reported record daily cases, according to their state’s health departments. And for Florida, which has been eyed as the possible next epicenter, that number reached 8,938 new cases in just one day. And it is not just those states seeing rising numbers. The national number of daily coronavirus case reports reached a new high Friday as well at almost 40,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and 33 states are currently seeing the number of new cases grow from the week before.”
Pence also said all 50 states were “opening up safely and responsibly” — even though about 30 states were experiencing increases in the rate of new cases, and though states reopened without having met the administration’s recommended safety milestones. And Pence claimed that “to one extent or another, the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country” — yet many states are seeing rising percentages of positive tests, which are indicative of genuinely rising levels of infection in the community.
So our own administration lies to its people. Neither Pence nor Trump will wear masks in public. Their interest is on public opinion, not public health. How can any part of the public think they are leading us in the right direction? Thank goodness for doctors like Anthony Fauci and Ralph Northram who have a more honest and sensible view of what needs to be done.
I may be getting doubts about Northram, though, if he pushes for schools to re-open. Supposedly Augusta County has announced that they will have students attend two days per week in the fall. We’re not sure how that will work out with our grandchildren.
I got up early today and did two tasks leftover from Jim’s work. First I found and installed a door knob on the door to the storage room below our patio. He had replaced the door but the old door knob was too rusted to re-use. I used the one I had removed from our back door when I installed the digital entry model.
Then I installed the last six 8″ lab screws into the Pergola. Now the only thing that remains is to install the swings when they arrive–probably in August. Well, Lynn will want some of the concrete covered with dirt and grass reseeded. but there’s not much of that to do.
I did some other cleanup around the garage and even fixed an old wagon that Ann and Josh had put in the trash. It just required a new bolt for the handle.
Today is the last Saturday in June. For the last umpteen years, this has been the date of the Hill Family Reunion in Bramwell. Like just about everything else, it was canceled due to COVID-19. I certainly hope this tradition will resume next summer. My family doesn’t all have the same lifestyle, political views, and tastes as we do but I still think it is important to stay close. You can quit your job, move to a new location, get a divorce, or change your looks but you can’t change who you’re kin to. In my case that’s not all bad!
Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia came today. They wanted to see Lynn’s Mom. As I’ve said, her health is gradually deteriorating as you would expect from a person over 100 years old. Yesterday those visiting with her gave a good report of her health and spirits, though, so maybe she’ll still be going strong come July 30 when she turns 101.
The Foys were very cautious at our house. They only entered through the front door to go straight upstairs to the bathroom which Lynn had sanitized. After their visit with Grandmother they grabbed some lunch and met back at our house with Ann’s family to eat and let the kids have a water gun battle.
It was a great visit in every way. First, Mrs. Hanger was doing very well so Kay’s family had a nice visit with her. Then, we all sat in the shade under our huge maple tree, ate, and talked and talked. The youngest four grandchildren played hard with water guns and the water in the baby pool I had set up for them. The rest of us sat in the shade and talked at a socially acceptable distance. We had wonderful conversation. The temperature was warm but there was a constant breeze with low humidity so the shady environment was perfect.
After the kids left, two and a half hours after arriving, I made a quick run to Kroger to pick up an order we had placed for curbside pickup. Then I came back, Lynn and I ate, then we got one walk in for the day. It was a long one–the Leaport Loop. The temperature was 84o when we left home but there was a good bit of shade this time of the evening. My phone said I had gone 5.8 miles today. I’ll take it–I am still tired from the past two days’ work.
Wow, look at these numbers for today:
World 10,073,017 500,606
US 2,595,569 128,150
Virginia 61,247 1,724
Augusta County 179 2
The world’s numbers are at significant milestones. Lynn reposted a Facebook page today that showed the following amazing statistics:
- New COVID-19 cases in Italy: 190
- New COVID-19 cases in France: 81
- New COVID-19 cases in Spain: 330
- New COVID-19 cases in the United States: 33,399
June 28, 2020
We spent half of the day today in the truck. We left home around 11:00, just after Henry and Gus had come over and helped load Jim’s generator and table in the back of the truck. First we stopped in Staunton so Lynn could help her Mom with her lunch at The Legacy. Then we drove to Roanoke.
We weren’t at Jim’s house long, just long enough to drop off the generator, table, and his table saw which he had already put in the truck’s back seat. On our way back we took a short detour to Brewster’s Ice Cream in Roanoke for a snack. And on the way back we took another detour to Lexington where there is a Wells Fargo Bank. We needed to get some cash for Henry and Gus to compensate them for their two days of work with Jim and me.
We made a final stop on the way home at Aldi’s in Staunton where Lynn bought several fruit items which we put into a box and took to Curtis Sheffer as soon as we got home. He had been very kind to have loaned us his concrete mixer on Thursday.
CNN reports that just two states are showing a decline in COVID-19 infections. I believe those are Connecticut and Rhode Island. Virginia is listed as holding steady. Thirty six states were listed as having an increasing number of infections.
So today the Vice President did wear a mask. He wore it at a church in Dallas which had a choir of 100 singing for him, maskless. Singing is supposed to be one of the worst activities there is for spreading coronavirus. He is so stupid!
Tonight was our biweekly Covenant Group meeting. We met in the backyard of Connie and Tom Davis’ house in Staunton. We had a mini-celebration as the last of our group to retire, Ginny Bauman, is doing so this Tuesday. As always, we had a good time chatting for two hours outdoors.
Here are today’s numbers:
World 10,242,930 504,366
US 2,637,077 128,437
Virginia 61,736 1,732
Augusta County 183 2
Lately I’ve noticed something which puzzles me about these statistics. In the world and United States, the mortality rate is very close to 5%. That is, the number of people who have died is right at 5% of the number infected. However, the mortality rate for Virginia is less than 3% and the rate for Augusta County is around 1%. I don’t have a good explanation for this data.
June 29, 2020
It was a typical summer day–hot and sunny. It was also my day for two volunteer jobs at Central UMC: counting and picking up the Food Bank order. Counting was extremely easy because there were only three checks to deposit! I was back home in time to walk with Lynn before it got too hot. We managed to get three miles under our belt though it was very sunny.
As always, we ended up chatting with various folks while we walked. First we ran into the retiring minister at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church along with the man who will take his place. Actually the new minister, Ed Pruitt, is a retired minister himself. We also talked to Curtis Sheffer for a moment and to Bee and Janet Myers.
The pickup was also easy for Food Bank. Unlike other orders I’ve helped with over the past few months, this order was fairly small, 581 pounds, so I was able to get it all with my truck.
I had some fun this afternoon digging into some things I hadn’t touched in nearly 30 years–fishing equipment. When we go to Avon Hill in just two weeks, fishing in the Rockfish river is an option. I think the Gutshalls have picked up a couple of fishing rods in preparation for this activity. I pulled out several rods and reels and fooled with them until I had two working fairly well. I’m not sure who will use them but at least they are available. When I was a kid, probably 10 – 13 years old, I used to fish a lot in a dam not too far from my grandparents. It was called Falls Mills Dam. Originally my mother would take me. Once or twice my uncle Jim probably did. And several times my friend Tommy Bowen would go with me there. I couldn’t even touch the fish I caught so I always took rubber gloves with me.
After dinner, even though the temperature was 84o, we walked nearly three more miles. The sun was behind clouds most of the time and the humidity wasn’t bad. Nonetheless, the cold glass of water that awaited me hit the spot. Lynn’s FitBit said we walked 7.2 miles today. Not bad for two old people!
The news tonight has more and more stories of record coronavirus infections. Some states actually started curbing their re-opening. Finally some places are shutting down bars. In many of the states the average age of those infected is under 35. Hospitals are filling up in Arizona, Texas, and Florida. Even in West Virginia there is a story that over 200 patrons at a gym were possibly infected. Today, 28,000 more Americans have COVID-19 than yesterday.
The bad news just keeps coming and coming. Granted, we’re watching this on television as opposed to experiencing it first hand. But still it is sad to see so many people suffer and die and so many health workers being exhausted and frazzled. It is so sad that when COVID-19 ICU patients die, they do so without any family around.
Here are today’s figures:
World 10,400,386 507,495
US 2,681,312 128,772
Virginia 62,189 1,740
Augusta County 183 2
At least there haven’t been any new cases in Augusta County for two days. A Facebook post today said “why is it that the United States has 4% of the world’s population but 25% of its COVID-19 infections and deaths?”
June 30, 2020
The news today says that one in four Americans would not take a COVID-19 vaccine. What?? Supposedly there are nineteen possible vaccines being tested. Dr. Fauci says that any vaccine might be only 70-75% effective.
In what I hope becomes the norm, we took an early morning walk today before it got hot. By 9:00 we had walked three miles in the neighborhood. The temperature for our walk was in the high 70’s whereas the afternoon temperatures were in the mid 80’s.
In somewhat of a return-to-normalcy I had a dentist appointment this morning. Of course, the office was very safe including quizzing me before I left the car and taking my temperature on the way in. It was a normal visit and there were no surprises which is always a good thing. The old expression is that when the dentist says “open wide” he’s talking about your wallet, not your mouth.
This afternoon we pressure washed the Pergola in preparation for staining/sealing it. When it dried, we also sanded it in hopes no one would get a splinter from it. We ordered the staining sealer from Lowe’s and picked it up when it was ready.
Again tonight we ate well. I had baked potatoes yesterday and tonight I grilled rib eye steak. Lynn made a salad. Good eating!
The news tonight said the virus is rising in 35 states. Dr. Fauci said we’re on the course to have 100,000 new cases daily. The European Union has banned all visitors from the United States. Even New York has required that people coming into the state from a number of states, including California, Texas, Florida, and a bunch of other southern states, must quarantine when they arrive in New York.
In Florida, they have finally started fining people who do not wear a mask. Some research says that talking alone can release more germs than coughing.
Today Joe Biden said “Trump has failed us.” Trump is planning on attending a large fireworks display at Mount Rushmore where no masks will be worn, including him, of course.
Here are today’s numbers:
World 10,559,170 512,951
US 2,719,797 130,005
Virginia 62,787 1,763
Augusta County 185 2
We waited until later than usual to get our second and final walk of the day in. At least the temperature had dropped to the low 80’s by the time we got to Stewart Middle School. Our total for the hot day was 6.5 miles.