Monthly Archives: July 2020

August 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

August 1, 2020

Another month of blogs.  Today’s news is that there are six vaccines in Phase 3 of testing.  But one expert warned that even if some work, the question will be for how long will they work?  And how will 300,000,000 doses be distributed in a timely fashion?

 

The forecast for the next two weeks has thunderstorms every single day.  At least the temperatures are supposed to be lower those the humidity will be high.

 

The rain held off today and I was able to get the grass cut.  It needed it; all the rain we’ve had recently had caused it to grow.  I can remember some times in the past when you could almost go the entire month of August without mowing.  That won’t be the case this year.

 

Deaths rose in 35 states over the past 24 hours including Virginia.  Many outbreaks are traced back to large gatherings.  For example, a prom in Indiana led to many new cases.  New Jersey is cracking down on parties and indoor gatherings.  There were more than 1,000 deaths on 11 of the 31 days in July.  California now has over 500,000 cases.  Over 9,000 have died there.  Texas passed New York in confirmed cases.

 

I did something for the first time in four months today–I went into Aldi’s grocery store.  Lynn can’t go in with her broken foot and we needed a few things so I went in.  Aldi’s is a very safe store with arrows on the floor directing traffic and everyone wearing masks.  There were a sparse number of customers when I was there so I felt unthreatened.

 

We had Lynn’s sister Kay over for dinner tonight.  It was her 73rd birthday.  She and Lynn are so close, especially since her mother has moved to The Legacy several years ago.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               17,989,715              687,660

US                       4,762,954              157,827

Virginia                  90,801                  2,215

Augusta County          251                         4

 

It sounds like a broken record:  another 1,000 more deaths in the US, another 1,000 new cases in Virginia.  Virginia’s death total increased by another large number, 41.  In early July the daily death total in Virginia was 4-6 per day.

 

August 2, 2020

Things are certainly not good in the US as we start into August.  As I’ve documented nearly every day, COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire.  The unemployment benefits that those who were put out of work due to coronavirus expired this week and Congress and the White House can’t agree on assistance for the future.  People everywhere are suffering from the virus and suffering financially.  To add insult to injury, a hurricane is sweeping up the Atlantic coast.  Racial discord is rampant.

 

In our household, Lynn’s foot is still hurting but she and I would both admit that this is nothing compared to what others are going through.  Actually, our household is currently not suffering from any of the items mentioned in my previous paragraph.  We have both health and money.  Our weather forecast is rainy but not severe.  There is no evidence of discord in our home.  We are lucky and acknowledge that.

 

NBC news had a story this morning about all the false information about COVID-19 that is posted on social media.  There is misinformation about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and facial covering.  These blatant lies just fuel the conflict between those on the right and left and deter the US from getting control of the virus.

 

Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary of Health and a White House coronavirus task force member, was on Meet the Press today.  He basically gave a non-answer to the question of why testing is still not adequate in America, often taking nearly two weeks to get back results.  He said the key was to have 95% of the public wearing masks but wouldn’t go so far to say the US needs a mask mandate nationwide.  He said that there have been five studies which show that hydroxychloroquine does not work for coronavirus cases.

 

This morning was the first Sunday in August so Central had another drive-by communion service which Lynn and I participated in.  Then we hustled back home as I had agreed to play the piano for Pastor Won’s Zoom Bible Study at 11:00.

 

COVID-19 has certainly emptied our calendar.  I don’t have any appointments or calendar notes for the next nine days.  Lynn’s Pergola swings are due here on Tuesday so Wednesday will hopefully be installation day for them.  I don’t really have any work projects scheduled, either, though the projected rainy weather would deter any outside work anyway.

 

We had an afternoon grocery pickup at Kroger; before then Lynn baked bread and helped her mother with lunch.  It was the first time she had driven since her accident.  Since it is her left foot that is broken it isn’t too hard for her to drive.  Her car has automatic transmission unlike our other two vehicles.

 

Lynn’s sister Jane and Darrell came to our house after dinner.  Darrell had asked me last night about when I’d like to play tennis so I suggested they come over tonight.  The four of us enjoyed wine slushies and some avocado dip afterwards.  Darrell and I hit for a good while before and after the wine slushies.

 

Lynn and I have quickly gotten hooked on a Netflix TV series.  It is Dead to Me.  We originally started watching it because it was listed as a comedy but there’s nothing funny about it.  It has a very twisted, but believable, plot.  And it is well written and cast.  I believe it is just starting season two; we are currently watching episodes of season one.

 

Here are the numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               18,195,161              691,773

US                       4,809,490              158,307

Virginia                  91,782                  2,218

Augusta County          252                         4

 

The Virginia deaths were down considerably (3) as were the national ones (480).  Virginia again had almost a thousand new cases.

 

August 3, 2020

Today we are three months away from two momentous occasions to me:

  • On November 3, we will hold national elections. The best case scenario to me is that Joe Biden will be elected President and both the House and Senate will become Democratically controlled.  We need to drain the swamp, for sure, beginning in the Oval Office.  The further we can get those who are now leading our country out of office, and perhaps behind bars, the better.  Look at where we are now–COVID-19 is everywhere thanks to the anemic response from our federal government at the beginning and lack of a coordinated response now, unemployment is catastrophic and relief is nowhere to be found, race relations are the worst they have been since the 1960’s, and trust in leadership has evaporated.   Gun violence occurs daily.  Protesting turns into rioting in many cities.   School opening is in chaos due to the justifiable fear of coronavirus.  Healthcare workers put themselves at great risk due to the many COVID-19 cases they have to deal with daily and the continued lack of protective equipment.  Reliable tests for COVID are not available to everyone and some take up to two weeks to return results.  Vaccines to prevent coronavirus and treatment for those who have it are still nowhere to be found.  Meanwhile, our President is playing golf and touting vodoo doctors’ advice.   Can it get worse?  Well, it can get better if we dump Donald Trump and unseat those senators and representatives who still advocate rushing students back into an environment ripe for COVID-19, supporting an egomaniac president who sets a horrendous example for others, disavowing advice from medical experts, and allowing the public to own guns that can kill hundreds of people in a matter of seconds.
  • I turn 70 on that day. I’ve written before that reaching the seventh decade is something that my most direct ancestors did not achieve.  Of my two parents and four grandparents, only two of the six lived to the age of 70.  My brother and sister have both passed this landmark.  I look forward to doing the same.  To do so, I’ll have to avoid COVID-19 as well as the other maladies that have taken my forebearers down such as cancer and cerebral embolisms.  I’ll have to continue to receive the grace of God as I drive and walk on our highways.  And I’ll have to be sure not to infuriate any of the many gun-toting, maskless, right-wingers in Virginia.

 

I hope all those who are making decisions about schools reopening heard the story on this morning’s news about the YMCA summer camp in Georgia.  I found the article below on the webmd website:

 

With school reopenings just a few weeks away, a report on how the new coronavirus spread rapidly through a summer camp in Georgia suggests kids transmit the virus very well.

 

Nearly 600 young campers and counselors attended the camp in late June, and of the 344 who were tested for COVID-19, 76% tested positive by mid-July. Three-quarters of the COVID-19 cases for which information was available involved symptoms, including sore throatheadache and fever.  The camp opened for staff on June 17 and kids started arriving four days later. The first known case involved a teen camp staff member who developed chills on June 23 and tested positive for COVID-19 the next day.  After that, the camp was quickly disbanded and it closed on June 27.  Campers, who averaged 12 years of age, hadn’t been required to wear masks although camp staff wore masks, the researchers said.  There was also a “variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including daily vigorous singing and cheering” — prime activities for the spread of breath droplets laden with coronavirus.  Campers were also housed closely together — 15 to a cabin, on average — according to a team led by Christine Szablewski, of the Georgia Department of Public Health. Among the 31 cabins, the COVID-19 infection rate averaged 50%.  The odds that a camper would be “attacked” by the virus “increased with increasing length of time spent at the camp,” the researchers said. That means that camp staff (who arrived about a week before the campers) experienced the highest attack rate, at 56%.  Szablewski’s group said the rate of infection reported in the study is also “likely an underestimate because cases might have been missed among persons not tested.”  They also noted that, pursuant to a recent Georgia executive order, kids and staff at the camp had been mandated to show a negative result from a COVID-19 test performed 12 days or less before they were allowed to enter the camp. But that was still not enough to keep the infection at bay.

 

Augusta County Schools reopens on August 18.  The parking lots at Clymore Elementary, Stewart Middle, and Fort Defiance High School were loaded with teachers’ cars today as they reported for duty.  Four of our grandchildren will be in attendance at these three schools when school starts.  I’m predicting that by Labor Day the system will be shut down.

 

I’m not a Facebook poster.  Actually I have fewer than 40 Facebook friends so even if I did post something few would see it.  I do appreciate all of the re-posts Lynn makes which reflect my thinking.  Writing this blog does give me a way to express myself though the its audience is primarily one–me.  Even Lynn rarely reads my posts here.

 

Thanks to Tropical Storm Isaias we got a lot of rain today.  There were heavy rain and flash flood warnings posted for our area.

 

We did a couple of good deeds today.  We bought pizzas for Mary Gooden who is undergoing treatment for the return of her brain tumor and for the Toni Sheets family because Toni is dealing with a return of her colon cancer plus whose son Grayson was hurt in a beach accident.  All three of them looked good when we dropped the pizzas off.  While we were at Vito’s Pizza Pie we got some for Ann’s family and for us.

 

Tonight’s ABC news had another COVID-19 school opening nightmare.  Gwinnett County Georgia schools opened only to have 300 teachers and staff who either tested positive or were in close contact with someone who did.  Positive coronavirus rates are climbing in 25 states.  On a positive note, Eli Lilly announced that an antibody treatment has been developed which may be given to some nursing home residents.

 

Today Trump falsely insisted that the US has made significant progress in the pandemic and even called his own task force coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, “pathetic.”  He was worn a mask in public just three times.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               18,426,972              696,605

US                       4,860,508              158,899

Virginia                  93,106                  2,218

Augusta County          253                         4

 

I wonder about the accuracy of Virginia’s figures today.  There were 1,324 new cases but 0 reported new deaths.

 

August 4, 2020

The east coast is recovering from Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaias which flew up the coast last night and this morning.  It will be in upper New York by the end of the day.  We had a good bit of rain overnight but today’s forecast is OK for the afternoon.

 

Rockingham County and Harrisonburg City Schools have both decided to start school virtually for students in grades 2-12.  Plus, RCPS delayed the start until September 10 and will be virtual for the entire semester.  Yet Augusta County is still planning on in-person instruction starting in just two weeks.  Hmmm.

 

Trump said again that the coronavirus is “under control.”  As cases surge and deaths rise, he said the US is doing well. The truth is that the US death rate is the 4th highest in the world.  He said “we’re beginning to see evidence of significant progress.”  The number of new cases daily is still around 50,000.  Trump stupidly still touts hydroxychloroquine.  No competent medical authority agrees with him including his own advisers.

 

On ABC news, the FDA Commissioner insured that the decision on vaccine distribution would be based on science and data, not politics.  I’ll believe that when I see it.  Even George Stephanopoulos asked if there wouldn’t be some kind of “October surprise” about vaccine release.  This is what I’ve been predicting for months.

 

Apple News said that at least 30 states suffered higher rates of new deaths this past week compared to the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins University.  In twelve of those states, including Virginia, the increase in deaths was at least 50%.  And test positivity rates–an indication of how rampantly a virus is spreading–remain stubbornly high in more than 30 states.

 

Two days ago I chipped off the very edge of one of my front teeth, probably on a peach pit.  So this morning I went to our dentist to have it taken care of.  I’ve thought highly of Dr. Karrel since he took over as our dentist when Ross Testerman retired.  But now I think even higher of him because he fixed my tooth, putting some filling in and filing it off, for just $20!

 

After that, I went to Central UMC to work with our administrative assistant who is new to treasury data entry.  The reports she produced for June had some mistakes in them that I wanted to correct.  It took several hours to get it resolved but I think we made good progress.  I’ve never used QuickBooks before which is where the errors were made.

 

Butch got some news from Ann’s doctor today that was very bothersome to him.  Ann’s recovery from the stroke has been slow though she has definitely made progress.  But today he was told that she may not recover 100%.  That had to be tough on him.  She’s likely to go to skilled care next though I do not know where that will take place.

 

Lynn and I had a very pleasant dinner on the back porch this evening.  The weather was great.  We had leftover pizza and guacamole dip.  It’s too bad that she can’t walk because the weather would have been perfect for a hike.

 

Today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               18,652,206              702,167

US                       4,910,179              160,037

Virginia                  94,251                  2,244

Augusta County          260                         4

 

Another day of no walking, no exercise.  I may be gaining weight!

 

August 5, 2020

Well, I weighed this morning and so far, so good on weight.  I’m a little under where I started when the pandemic began.

 

Lynn had an appointment this morning with the orthopedic doctor.  She is elated that he saw no need to put her foot in a cast.  She is to continue doing as she has been–wrapping it, keeping it elevated, and walking as pain allows.

 

While I waited on her in the parking lot I overheard lots of people talk about their medical conditions.  I am more thankful than ever that our health problems are minimal.  For some reason, perhaps mine to find out, God wants both of us to be around for a while longer.

 

We’ve been discussing the need for another computer for months now since my iMac’s hard drive died before Easter.  With our bank balance now in good shape I took the plunge and ordered a replacement.  Lynn had the idea of ordering a second laptop so each of us could use a computer while upstairs.  I was hesitant because I wanted a hard drive large enough to hold all of our pictures, iPhone backups, documents, etc.  Yesterday I found that Apple had released a new MacBook Pro with a 1 TB hard drive plus 16 GB of RAM, Retina display, fast processor, and even free personalized engraved iPods with charging case.  It was pricy, especially since I also had to order various adapters because it has the new USB-C ports and I need to be able to connect our phones, camera, televisions, and thumb drives.  I ordered the adapters from Amazon.  The laptop is supposed to be delivered tomorrow but the adapters won’t come until next week.

 

I e-mailed Nevin Diener, who still works on the RCPS Tech Staff,  this morning about my old iMac.  It is eight years old but has a huge 27″ screen.  Its hard drive is fried but otherwise it may be of some use.  I asked him if Rockingham County Schools would have any use for it.  He kindly replied that RCPS could put it to use but also offered that he would try to resuscitate it for me if I wanted him to.  By luck, Lynn had to go to the school board office today to take some papers so I dropped it off there for him to check out.  I can’t say enough good things about Nevin.  He was always a favorite employee of mine–superbly talented, level-headed, and kind hearted.  When I grow up I want to be like Nevin!  I told him that if he could bring it back to life I’d keep it for the grandkids to use when they’re at our house.

 

I’ve been chauffeuring Lynn around a lot lately.  She can drive but I’m able to drop her off nearer to her destination.  For example, at The Legacy I can drop her off in a parking lot not intended for Legacy patrons which is within 50 feet of her Mom’s door.  At the doctor’s office this morning I let her out right at the entrance so she wouldn’t have to limp through the parking lot.  To be honest, without being able to walk, I’ve been quite bored anyway.

 

This afternoon I chauffeured her to shop at TJ Maxx in Staunton after we made the run to Harrisonburg to drop off my computer and her papers at the Rockingham County School Board Office.  We also picked up a large pile of lima beans at an outdoor market.  Lynn loves limas!

 

Lynn’s swings did not come yesterday as she was initially told.  Actually the FedEx tracking finally said they would be delivered some time tomorrow.  They have now made their way from Alexandria, Louisiana to Memphis, Tennessee to Hagerstown, Maryland.  Jim agreed to come on Saturday and we’ll get her Pergola all set.  The only thing it will need then is to stain all the wood.

 

Today is Thomas’ tenth birthday.  We’re going to see him on Friday when he has an outdoor party at the park near their house in Arlington.  Despite COVID-19 he has maintained a busy summer with tennis, swimming, and soccer.  We had a Facetime visit with him today and also one with Faron and Coen as they demonstrated their new tire swing Jim installed for them using an old tire he found.

 

Trump said today that schools should re-open and that children were “almost immune” from it.  This is clearly not true and even if it were there would be the possibility that students like Freddie could bring it home to his family and us.

 

And no sooner did I write the last paragraph than I saw this from the Washington Post:

Facebook on Wednesday said it removed President Trump’s post of a video clip from a Fox News interview in which he said that children are “almost immune” from covid-19, marking the company’s increasingly tough stance on political speech amid heightened pressure. “This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” said Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone.  This is the first time Facebook has taken down a post from the president for violating the company’s policies on covid misinformation.

 

Florida had another one-day record in the number of cases even though Trump claimed it is “going away.”  Deaths rose in 32 states today.

 

In the race for a vaccine, at Johnson & Johnson said that with one injection monkeys were prevented from being infected.  Their vaccine will be available in early 2021.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               18,939,745              709,700

US                       4,968,989              161,511

Virginia                  95,049                  2,274

Augusta County          262                         4

 

Another 30 Virginians succumb to COVID-19.  Another 1,500 people nationwide.  In neighboring Rockingham County and Harrisonburg, the number of people infected is 1,989.  The population of those two combined is 134,000 which means 1.5% of the population there has been infected.  Rockingham County Public Schools, where I worked for 25 years, has approximately 11,600 students.  If 1.5% of these students is or has been infected, that makes 172 students.  What do you think the probability is that in-person learning will work there without spreading COVID-19?  Augusta County’s infection rate is better, of course, but still the chance of spreading COVID-19 by having in-person schooling is very high.  Yet school starts there, in-person, in 13 days.  Lynn shared an open letter to the Augusta County school board requesting that schools back off of opening for the time being.  Both of us signed the letter as did hundreds of other residents.

 

August 6, 2020

Lynn and I have never had green thumbs.  Our tomatoes are lousy again this year though I blame that on the deer.  We’ve done a better job with flowers around the house but suffice it to say we’ll never make Southern Living.  One exception is our zinnias.  We planted them around the outside light pole and at the mailbox.  They have done very well, multiplying into many bright red blooms in both places.  Lynn kept the seeds from last year for some of these; they have done very well.

 

This morning ABC news has an example of what I wrote about late last night.  Last week, schools in Corinth, Miss., welcomed back hundreds of students. By Friday, one high-schooler tested positive for the novel coronavirus. By early this week, the count rose to six students and one staff member infected. Now, 116 students have been sent home to quarantine, a spokeswoman for the school district confirmed.  Despite the quick fallout, the district’s superintendent said he has no plans to change course.  “Just because you begin to have positive cases, that is not a reason for closing school,” Superintendent Lee Childress said in a Facebook Live broadcast on Tuesday on the school district’s Facebook page.  As districts around the country debate the merits of in-person classes vs. remote learning amid an escalating novel coronavirus pandemic, the Corinth School District’s early experience shows how quickly positive tests can lead to larger quarantines.

 

Yesterday Facebook had a photo from a high school in Georgia with the hallways very crowded and few students wearing masks.  Today we learned the student who posted it has been suspended.  That’s some way to handle the situation!

 

My latest hobby is creating cards and printing them on our printer.  Our HP color laser printer is not new but does a fine job printing on card stock.  I’ve made a bunch of cards recently and spent time this morning making one for Thomas’ birthday.

 

Lynn had her two Cheryl friends over this morning for a back porch chat session.  I went to the dump and also got the Gutshall’s trash.

 

Lynn drove herself to help her mother with lunch today.  Afterwards she had a WalMart pickup.  Ordinarily I would have gone with her but we wanted one of us to be home at all times today because of two important shipments:  the Pergola swings and new MacBook.  Both shipments were here by 2:30 PM.

 

Jim is going to come on Saturday morning to work on the Pergola.  He would have come this evening but the weather forecast isn’t good.  Saturday’s weather should be much better.  And I’ve decided that I’ll wait until the adapters from Amazon come next Thursday to set up the new laptop.  I want to be able to restore files and settings from the backup I made of the old iMac but I can’t do that until a USB-C to USB adapter is available.

 

Once everything was delivered I looked at the weather forecast.  It said there was a 35% chance of thunderstorms starting at 4:00.  So at 3:00 I left home on a walk by myself.  I got to the one mile mark when I felt a drop of rain.  By the time I got back home it was pouring and I was soaked.  Lynn tried to text me when she saw the rain start but I was afraid to get my phone out of my pocket with the rain coming down and no shelter in sight.  So I walked as fast as I could and tried to protect my phone.  Lynn put it in the rice bag (leftover from when my phone took a dip in the dishwater) and it appears to be fine.  With a change of clothes, so am I.

 

In fact, before 4:00 the Weather Bureau had issued a Flash Flood Warning for our immediate area.  Our phones, iPads, and laptop all buzzed with the warning.  It certainly rained hard and the storm was slow moving.  I’m sure we got over an inch of rain in less than a half hour.  The TV-3 news said that our area got three inches of rain in all.  The flooding in our immediate neighborhood was worse than I have ever seen since we’ve lived here in the past 32 years.  For example, our neighbors, the Parishes, couldn’t get to their house because there was a river that erupted in the valley between our house and theirs.  The water overflowed their bridge.  Danny Link’s field looked like a lake, as my pictures showed.  We had water dripping in our living room and some small damage to its ceiling.  Otherwise our house survived it OK.  We had no water in our basement or garage.

 

One of the issues with the ceiling in the living room is that I believe our upper gutter is clogged on one end which forces all of the water to come to the side of the living room.  It runs down toward the lower gutter, overflows and runs back into the ceiling.  I hope it won’t take much to fix this.

 

By 5:00 the rain had stopped.  But the meteorologist on the Channel 3 news said flooding in the Mount Sidney – Fort Defiance area was significant and encouraged listeners to avoid the area.  We heard that both US 11 and I-81 were closed.  Apparently Dam Town Road which connects Fort Defiance to New Hope was a mess.

 

In the news tonight, Trump is quoted as predicting there will be a new vaccine by Election Day.  Didn’t I predict he’d be saying that?  Look at my May 25 post.  Certainly we all wish this would be true but none of the national experts agree with him.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               19,215,008              716,088

US                       5,025,646              162,654

Virginia                  95,867                  2,299

Augusta County          261                         4

 

Again we have more than 50,000 new cases in the US and over 1,100 additional deaths in the past 24 hours.  Virginia has over 800 new cases and 25 new deaths.  Not good!  Somehow Augusta County is listed as having one fewer case today than yesterday.  I’m not sure how that happened.

 

August 7, 2020

New research from the University of Washington is predicting 300,000 deaths in the US by the first of December.  In good news, however, an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News shows that the U.S. is slightly coming down from its recent national surge. New cases and deaths in the last week have both decreased in week-over-week comparisons. At least 396,559 new cases were confirmed during the period of July 29 and Aug. 5, which is a 12.6% decrease from the previous seven-day period.  There were 7,348 deaths recorded in the same time frame, marking a 2.4% decrease in new deaths compared with the previous week.  The national test-positivity rate is also going down. In the last seven days, the rate was 7.5%, which is down from 8.6% from the previous week.

 

The Augusta County School Board met last night but decided to keep in-person schooling starting on August 18.  So I guess our four grandchildren will be subject to COVID-19 infections twice a week starting then.  In Georgia, where schools have restarted in-person, a seven year old just died from the virus.  The child had no underlying conditions.   The WHO reported that the proportion of cases in teens and young adults has gone up six-fold, and in very young children and babies the proportion has increased seven-fold.  Apparently the Augusta County School Board hasn’t read this information or just doesn’t care.

 

ABC news reported today on just how bad the month of July had been.  It turned out to be another deadly month for the U.S. as hundreds of thousands of people contracted the novel coronavirus.  There were 1,882,692 new cases diagnosed throughout the month and 25,259 new COVID-19 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In total, over 4.5 million Americans have contracted the virus and 152,000 have died since July 31.  (Note, this data is from Johns Hopkins whereas the data I report daily comes from worldometers.info whose numbers are somewhat higher).  The jump in infections took place in almost every state across the country, but the biggest rises were in Texas and Florida.  Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has ordered some residents to wear masks, bowing to political pressure as COVID-19 infection rates continue to shatter records in the state which saw 1,775 new cases in a single day.  Reeves made the announcement on Tuesday as the coronavirus infection rate shot up to 23.3%, pushing the state one step closer to becoming the nation’s next COVID-19 hot spot.

 

ABC also reported on how bad a month July was for the economy.  At the end of the month, the U.S. recorded a 32.9% decline in GDP during the third quarter of the year, marking the worst loss in productivity in decades. A combined 5.6 million Americans filed for unemployment during the month, as several businesses shuttered throughout the country.  Unemployment benefits for those Americans expired on July 31 after Congress failed to reach an agreement over an extension on The CARES Act in time, but negotiations have continued into August.

 

But to hear Donald Trump talk, everything is fine and dandy.  His disregard of science has allowed this virus to take over.

 

Our afternoon and evening were spent traveling to and from Arlington for Thomas’ 10th birthday party.  It was at the park very near to their house.  About ten kids came and they had a good time squirting each other with water guns.  We got to visit with Andy’s parents plus Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia.  The kids seemed to have such a good time playing with each other.  You can tell that they’re all starved for companionship after this awful summer.  They were pretty good about keeping their distance though the kids did not wear masks.  The weather was very cooperative.  It was a fine party!

 

After stopping back by their house to open Thomas’ birthday present from us we headed home.  I-66 had been very slow going up there in the afternoon and there were a few slow spots coming back though it was better.  By the time we got to Front Royal we were in need of gas and hungry.  It turned out to be a great stop–we got gas for $1.79/gallon, went to the nearby Target store for bathrooms (everyone had on masks), then picked up a great curbside meal from Cracker Barrel.  Lynn and I both like their country ham biscuit meals, which only cost around $5.00.  We got back home around 9:30.

 

I had over 100 pictures from the party to post to Flickr so I finished this post then started the upload.  This is past our normal bedtime!

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               20,541,216              724,050

US                       5,095,524              164,094

Virginia                  97,882                  2,317

Augusta County          264                         4

Not a good day:  over 70,000 new cases in the US and over 1,300 more deaths.  Virginia had 2,000 additional cases and 18 more deaths.

 

August 8, 2020

Today is the day to assemble Lynn’s Pergola swings.  Jim came up in the morning and we put together all five swings and mounted them to her Pergola.  Except for staining, this project is complete!  He got here at 11:00 and it took us until nearly 5:00 to finish the job.  We had no major troubles; it just took a while to assemble the swings and mount the hardware to attach them to the Pergola construction.  By the end of the day I also had pictures posted to my Flickr album which has detailed this project from start to finish.

 

Well, actually there’s one more job besides staining.  The chains that came with the swing are much too long and need to be cut off.  I might hacksaw them but I also may see if one of my friends has a bolt cutter I could borrow.  Another possibility is having Jim bring back the angle grinder we bought today at Harbor Freight that he used to cut off the ends of the bolts once everything was set.

 

Jim is such a good worker.  I’ve written before about how skilled he is.  His work ethic is excellent, too.  He doesn’t take short cuts.  For example, I would have left the eye bolts sticking above the Pergola with their nuts and washers.  Not Jim.  He insisted on countersinking the nuts and washers then cutting off the 1/2″ of the bolt which was still visible above the beams.  To do the latter we had to go to Harbor Freight and buy the cutter.

 

Jim also climbed our extension ladder to see if our uppermost gutter was stopped up.  It wasn’t.  I’m still confused as to why all of the rainwater drains from one side of the upper roof instead of both.  Why we’ve had some leaks over our living room is still very confusing to me.

 

Lynn is very, very pleased with the Pergola.  It is good to see her so satisfied.  Her foot is hurting too much for her to enjoy it a lot but she did have time this afternoon to swing on it with her friend Pat Collins who came over and brought supper for us.   Pat is so nice!  She made a very good taco salad.  For lunch Lynn had made pepperoni rolls so I ate well today!  And that included a very delicious stuffed pepper for dinner which Lynn had made yesterday.

 

I’ve been in tune with very little news today, especially about the pandemic.  I heard that Florida exceeded its previous records for infections and deaths.  And I heard that the reason that Virginia’s totals were so high yesterday is that there was data missing from the previous days which got counted in Friday’s data.  Regardless, having 2,000 more infections from what was reported on Thursday is frightening.

 

Here’s today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               19,783,872              728,535

US                       5,148,079              165,041

Virginia                  99,189                  2,322

Augusta County          275                         4

Something is not correct about the world’s number of infected as per worldometers.com.  The number today is 800,000 under the same statistic yesterday.  Perhaps they’ve entered the wrong values.  Still, the number of infections in the US is 53,000 higher than it was a day ago and the number of deaths is almost 1,000.  Virginia’s total infections are 1,300 higher than the previous day though the number of deaths is only five more.  Tomorrow Virginia will likely break the 100,000 mark in number of infections.

 

August 9, 2020

Today is the 112th consecutive day I’ve written about Life in the COVID-19 Era.  Fact is, little has changed.  I did a lot of thinking today about the way it used to be, including the way it was in Bramwell when I grew up, Morgantown when the girls were born, and here in the Staunton area over the past forty years.  Nothing was ever like this.  I long for those “good old days.”  I long for the day in which I won’t be suspicious of everyone I see in public wondering if they are a COVID carrier.   I long for when we could go into whatever restaurant or store we wanted to when we wanted to.  I long for ball games, church services, and large gatherings.  I long for seeing people without masks on.

 

People are getting better about masks.  Yesterday I took Jim to Harbor Freight.  Everyone I saw had a mask on.  Today Lynn and I went to Costco.  Everyone was wearing a mask.  We did a Kroger pickup, too.  Everyone I saw had on a mask.  Augusta County still has had 276 active cases but that’s much less than our neighbors to the north.

 

Not everyone elsewhere wears masks.  Today on Facebook I saw a picture of the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, North Dakota.  Tens of thousands of people were crammed into the streets of tiny Sturgis.  Masks were nowhere to be found.  The Facebook post said there should be lots of used motorcycles available in a month or so.  Behaviors like this are inexcusable.  As I’ve seen often on Facebook, you can’t fix stupid.

 

We were relieved to find out that Kay and family had made it to Topsail Beach last night around midnight.  It was a long day for them in the car.  She called us today and said the house they are renting is very clean and they felt safe on the beach as it was not crowded at all.  They’re going to be there for two weeks.  Of course, during that time both she and Andy will have to do some work via the internet.

 

For the past two Sundays, I’ve been attending and playing the piano for Sunday School.  There are sixteen of us who attend via Zoom.  I just take my laptop to the basement where our piano is and play a hymn.  Pastor Won is leading the study of the book of Matthew.

 

This afternoon I was able to cut our grass after we did our shopping at Costco and Kroger.  It had only been eight days since I cut last but we’ve had lots of rain since then so the grass was high again.  I’m ready for it to slow its growing down.

 

Staunton had a flash flood last evening.  Three to four inches of rain came down and flooded the downtown area.  Some businesses were devastated.  Many vehicles were destroyed.  Damage was especially bad in the wharf area.

 

Trump’s latest stunt is to enable his own version of economic stimulus via executive order.  It may sound good that he plans to continue sending the unemployed money, albeit $400 per week as opposed to the $600 they previously got.  And it may sound good that he put a moratorium on “payroll taxes.”  Payroll taxes are what fund Medicare and Social Security.  So his plan is to bludgeon two of the programs that Lynn and I depend on.  We paid into Social Security every year we worked.  His plan is to stop funding it.  This cannot happen.  I really don’t think Congress would let this happen but he has a way of doing what he wants to regardless of Congress and the Constitution.

 

ABC news tonight reported that nearly 100,000 kids tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks of July.  The Georgia high school that made it online with the pictures and videos of crowded hallways has now moved to fully virtual education as a dozen kids came down with the virus.  Ann’s kids go back to school in just nine days.  One man in Ohio infected 90 people in a church.  About 40% of the fatalities are said to be in nursing homes.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               19,982,142              732,783

US                       5,192,289              165,538

Virginia                100,086                  2,326

Augusta County          276                         4

 

 

Virginia has officially crossed the 100,000 mark although there have only been nine deaths in the past two days.   For the 5th straight day, over 1,000 Americans died to the virus.

 

After dinner, Ann’s family came over to try out the new Pergola swings and enjoy some ice cream treats.  We swang and talked for an hour and a half.  It was a very good visit.  They are such a good family!

 

Butch’s Ann got moved this evening to a Rehab Hospital.  That’s a good step in her recovery.  She’s definitely better physically.

 

August 10, 2020

Today I had my annual physical with Dr. LaGrua.  It went well; I feel blessed to be as healthy as I am.  My blood pressure was good as was my temperature.  The only thing that irritates me is that the other two doctors he has referred me to, Dr. Degene at Sentara Rockingham for my lung issues and Dr. Gillock at Augusta Health for my prostate enlargement, are at facilities whose reports do not come to him directly.  I had to show him the printout from my latest appointment at Dr. Gillock’s office about how stable my PSA has been.  I showed him on my phone the results from my December CT scan at RMH.  I wish that he, as my primary care physician, had ready access to all these reports.  At any rate, both results were good so there was nothing for him to do except make notes on my record.

 

The day went by very fast though I can’t give a long list of things I got done.  I worked on a few minor fixes around the house and went to the dump.  Lynn went to help her mother with lunch.  We ate a great dinner featuring tacos and got ready to welcome John and Ginny Bauman over to chat in the evening after dinner.

 

One of the things I was not successful in getting done was cutting the spare lengths off of the ten chains on the Pergola.  Josh’s dad, Allen, had some bolt cutters he let me borrow to cut the chain but they were short ones, only about 16″ long.  To cut these heavy-duty chains I’m going to need some of the long ones with plenty of lever distance.  I’m just not very strong.  Never in my life, even when I was young and playing lots of sports, have I been strong.   I did come up with some alternate ways of getting the spare chains out of the way of those who swing and that will have to do until I can get the huge bolt cutters.  I guess I could take each swing down and cut the chains with a hack saw or get Jim to bring back his angle grinder.  There’s no rush in getting this done.

 

I did get an e-mail from Nevin that he had replaced the hard drive and added RAM to my iMac.  He was so kind to bring it back to life.  It is eight years old–I bought it when I retired from Rockingham County Public Schools.  I’ll try to pick it up tomorrow. On my way, I hope to run by a restaurant I believe he likes and get him a gift card for his excellent work.

 

Dr. LaGrua told me today that he and his fellow health care workers are expecting COVID-19 to have an increase in infections this coming winter.  It does seem so much safer outside where there is plenty of air to circulate.  Indoors, as we’ll be in the winter, we end up all breathing the same air which will likely cause more transmission of the disease.

 

Here’s a good laugh.  Donald Trump thinks that it would be a good idea if his image were added to Mount Rushmore.  “Never suggested it although, based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me!” Trump said in a tweet late Sunday.  The Republican Governor hopeful, Kristi Noem, in South Dakota said he told her when they first met that it was his dream to be added to the monument.  He also posted a photo from this year’s July Fourth weekend campaign-style appearance at Mount Rushmore — with his face carefully aligned with those of the other four of the nation’s most memorable presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.  What an egotistical jerk!

 

 

ABC news reports that nursing homes have accounted for 40% of the deaths due to COVID-19.  Nursing home residents have taken steps to try and halt the spread by closing doors to loved ones, eliminating group activities and implementing strict protocols to isolate themselves.  Nationally, coronavirus infections have not been leading to deaths as frequently as they did earlier in the outbreak, according to public health data. While July had by far the most cases, the deadliest month of the outbreak was in April. According to the COVID Tracking Project, in April there were nearly 54,000 deaths while in July, there were 25,295 deaths.  Of the total 162,000 coronavirus deaths, nursing home fatalities accounted for at least 63,000 of them.

 

I guess this is good news from ABC:  There were 46,395 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Sunday, bringing the nationwide total soaring past 5 million, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  It’s the first time in six days that the nation has recorded under 50,000 new cases. An additional 516 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported.  Sunday’s caseload is well below the record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.

 

On Channel-3 news, we were told that experts say that the coronavirus pandemic is not even close to being over.  COVID-19 deaths could hit 300,000 by December 1, a university report says.  As we all know, wearing masks would help stop this but many people still refuse.  Another expert said we should be doing 4,000,000 tests per day but we’re only doing 800,000 daily.  The number of cases is still rising in 21 states.  There were increases in deaths in 25 states.

 

ABC news tonight reported that 100,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 in just the past two weeks.  Yet many still believe it is safe for them to be arm-to-arm back in schools.  Dr. Fauci says we should try to get students back in the classroom but there should be universal mask-wearing.  He warned that if we do not keep social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent washing of hands, we could have a very bad fall and winter including both COVID-19 and the flu.  He is optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the beginning of 2021.  He contradicted Donald Trump by saying the virus is not going to disappear.

 

This evening John and Ginny Bauman came over to sit in our Pergola and chat. Lynn fixed wine slushies again.  It was a great night to talk–weather was superb with low humidity.  The stars came out brightly again.  Using the app Star Guide we could tell that Jupiter and Saturn were in clear sight.  They brought us a jar of honey from John’s bees.  They are good friends!

 

Here are the coronavirus numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               20,244,944              738,623

US                       5,251,446              166,192

Virginia                100,749                  2,327

Augusta County          280                         4

Virginia added 650 new cases but only one more death.  The US has slowed somewhat–59,000 new cases and 650 new deaths.

 

We learned tonight that Staunton City Schools has elected to go all virtual for the first semester.  So Augusta County Schools is the only local school system scheduled to have in-person learning, which starts in just six days.  Maybe they’ll reconsider…

 

August 11, 2020

Another full day, full of good and bad events.  Let me begin with the bad.  I was so excited when Nevin offered to fix my old iMac.  As I said yesterday, he had put a new hard drive in it and added RAM.  So today I first drove to a restaurant in Grottoes that I thought he liked and got him a $50 gift card.  Then I went to Rockingham County Public Schools and picked up the computer, leaving him the card.  Lynn also sent three cupcakes to him and two of her co-workers in the County Office.  I was elated.  So I drove home.  As I exited I-81, I came to the stop light at the end of the exit ramp.  I braked for the light and crash–the iMac tumbled from its back seat position and the screen cracked in hundreds of pieces.  I was sick.  I was angry at myself for not securing it better in the seat and very embarrassed to call Nevin back and tell him what had happened.  As would be expected from him, he was calm and suggested I bring it back again for him to put a new screen on.  The iMacs have a glass screen that is actually held on with strong magnets, he showed me.  So once again I am without this computer and dependent upon his kindness and skills to get it working again.

 

The good news is that all of the adapters I needed for the new MacBook Pro came in from Amazon.  So tonight I set up that computer.  I was able to restore all of the documents, pictures, and settings from the iMac to the MacBook Pro using a Time Machine backup I had from March.  Well, of course, the backup didn’t have any new documents or pictures between March and today but I had them stored on another external hard drive so I was able to get it set up in a matter of a few hours.

 

The MacBook Pro is a neat laptop.  It has a large hard drive and a nice retina screen.  I think I’m going to like it a lot.  Lynn will take over using this MacBook so we won’t have to fight over it anymore.

 

There’s some news on the local school situation.  Tonight the Waynesboro School Board voted to go entirely virtual for the start of school.  That means of the five area school divisions (Harrisonburg, Rockingham, Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro), only Augusta has elected for in-person classes.  Since our grandchildren are in Augusta County Schools, this is of great concern for us.  Lynn read someone’s post on Facebook which said Augusta might reconsider this week but keep in mind that school is scheduled to start in just six days.

 

With Joe Biden picking Kamala Harris as his vice presidential candidate today the field is all set for the November 3 election.  This household will be huge supporters of the Biden-Harris ticket.

 

Other news of interest on the COVID-19 front is that Russia has announced that they have a vaccine all ready for their population and have begun vaccinating people.  Many health experts here in America doubt that the Russian vaccine has gone through anywhere near the scrutiny that it should.  They certainly wanted to beat the US at this.

 

Lynn and I did a good bit of running around this afternoon.  We got tomatoes at Overlook Produce and then stopped at Smiley’s for an ice cream treat.  Then we went to Belk in Staunton for her to get some toiletry items and on to Waynesboro where we picked up an order for Ann at Target then grabbed supper at Chick-Fil-A.  We ate our dinner at a park in Waynesboro.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               20,505,144              744,691

US                       5,305,957              167,749

Virginia                101,745                  2,344

Augusta County          282                         4

 

August 12, 2020

I am having a good time getting to know my new MacBook Pro.  I’ve got it set up just the way I want it, I think.  Its 1 TB hard drive is already 80% full since I was able to restore all of the files that were on my iMac to this computer.  That is, it has every file I’ve created in the past twenty years on it plus all of our music and all of my 50,000+ pictures.  The only thing I don’t have room for is all of the videos I have created.  They are stored on a separate hard drive.  I’ve got this laptop syncing to our phones, my e-mail accounts, our messages, and am currently listening to our SiriusXM radio on it.  I’ve set up a backup drive so Time Machine will make an incremental backup whenever I tell it to.

 

I’ve also repurposed my old MacBook to make it easier for Lynn to use.  She’s getting the hand-me-down this time though the laptop is not that old.  When we get the iMac back from its broken screen we’ll have three working Macs in the house; for most of this pandemic we’ve only had one.

 

Lynn’s true character was on display again today.  As soon as she got up she began making muffins and cookies for Toni Sheets and her mother.  Toni is driving to California starting tomorrow to have surgery for her colon cancer.  That can’t be a trip you’d look forward to.  Lynn is just so thoughtful.  This afternoon she worked with Betsy on a dollhouse kit that is very intricate.  What a great grandmommy to spend time with her granddaughter.

 

While Betsy was working with Lynn on her dollhouse furniture, Freddie was dropped off at our house, too.  He and I rode our bikes at Clymore Elementary and Stewart Middle School.  It was probably the furtherest he has ever ridden his bike but he did well.  I wish he could ride every day.

 

On my May 29 post I noted that getting old had brought to me the condition of being thinned skin.  I mentioned this to Dr. LaGrua when I had my annual exam last week but he really didn’t have any suggestions on what to do.  Today, for example, I scratched my arm.  That resulted in blood flowing which I had to put a bandaid on.  Later I bumped my head coming in from the garage.  Now my forehead is bleeding a bit.  I’ll keep the bandaid companies in business.

 

WVU may still be playing football this fall.  Many conferences, including the Pac-12 and Big Ten, have decided to not have football until spring, if then, but the Big 12 Conference today announced that they are going ahead with the schedule.  We’ll see how that works out.  I know that, unlike previous seasons, Lynn and I won’t be in the stands when they play.

 

More studies show that COVID-19 has been disproportionally bad for blacks and Hispanics.  The reasons aren’t genetic but cultural and economic.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

                              Infected                   Died

World               20,760,468              751,033

US                       5,354,303              168,948

Virginia                102,521                  2,352

Augusta County          287                         4

 

On ABC News tonight, 24 states are still seeing deaths on the rise due to coronavirus.  The CDC said this fall could be the worst we’ve ever seen especially if masks aren’t worn universally.  Where some high schools have reopened, 35 or more students have now become infected.  A real battle is developing in some areas where teachers don’t want to go back in the classroom but some parents and students are insisting on in-person education.  It will be very interesting to see what the Augusta County Board of Education decides when they meet tomorrow night.

 

Tonight we had another family Zoom session.  As we were about to get started it poured down the rain so Ann’s family couldn’t join in as they always Zoom outside.  But Jim and boys plus Kay’s family and Lynn and I had a good 45 minutes together.  It ended as a dance party with all of the kids jamming!  I loved it.

 

August 13, 2020

From ABC News today:  There were 55,910 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Wednesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  An additional 1,504 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported — a jump of more than 400 from the previous day.  It’s the first time in four days that the nation has recorded over 50,000 new cases. But Wednesday’s caseload is still well below the record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.

 

My sister-in-law Ann took a really bad turn for the worse this morning.  Apparently she fell yesterday in the rehab hospital and developed a subdural hematoma from the fall.  The blood accumulated inside her skull.  She was rushed to a nearby hospital.  A hole in her skull was drilled to relieve the pressure and that only partially worked so she underwent surgery this morning.  She is now out of surgery but having major issues still.  It just doesn’t sound good.  She has been totally unresponsive since this started.  Poor Butch!   Poor Ann!

 

Today I’ve tried to do something about the ceiling issue in our living room.  I called several roofers to see if I could get their take on how the leaks came into our ceiling and estimates on getting the problem remedied.  I confess I’ve felt guilty about worrying so much about the darned ceiling when my brother has worries much, much more important than this.

 

The first company I called, Valley Roofing, is apparently so busy that they couldn’t even make an appointment to come here until five weeks from now.  I went ahead and made the appointment but told them I was going to try to find another business to come and might end up cancelling that appointment.  I also called Corbin Roofing, a company in Mount Sidney though I only got an answering machine there so I left my information.  The next call I made was to Durie Home Improvements, a roofing contractor in Verona.  Jimmy Durie and his son, Skylar I believe, came.  I showed them the spot on the ceiling in the living room and where it had leaked from the window when we had our flash flooding on August 6.

 

Though it was raining a little, both got on our roof and proceeded to find some issues which they promptly fixed.  He said he was confident that he had fixed the issues and charged $275.  I certainly hope he is right—he said he would guarantee his work for a year.  That beats the heck out of replacing the entire roof!  It is supposed to rain a lot over the next three days so it won’t take long to see if he was right.

 

He did point out that the window frame outside Kay’s bedroom was rotted and needed to be replaced.  I’d been talking to Lynn about getting all of our windows replaced sometime so I called PWD Windows and requested that they come by and give us a quote to do so.  They are to call me back and set up an appointment.  This project will cost us some money but I believe it will make our home much more attractive and add to its value.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

                              Infected                   Died

World               21,052,336              752,380

US                       5,411,602              170,271

Virginia                103,622                  2,363

Augusta County          296                         4

Another thousand Virginians infected and eleven more dead.

 

The Augusta County School Board met tonight.  We tuned in to part of the meeting online.  We heard many, many parents and even a few teachers who were pushing to have kids put back in school and, in some cases, five days per week.  We heard a couple of teachers ask for school opening to be all virtual or at least delayed.  In fact, the only speakers who advocated for all virtual or delayed opening were teachers.  Earlier this summer, Augusta County has offered students a choice in selecting virtual or in-person learning; 20% chose virtual and 80% chose in-person.  Ann’s family reluctantly chose in-person because both she and Josh will be working full time.  The percent of those who spoke at the School Board meeting in favor of in-person was even higher than the 80% who chose this option earlier in the summer.  Lynn pointed out that the School Board probably made up their minds long before this meeting so having the long line of speakers was really a waste of time.  As we were listening to the meeting on the phone, others were commenting on-line.  For example, one person wrote that few speakers had on masks yet many of the speakers’ mouths were bumping right into the microphone.

 

The Board also discussed its mask policy.  The policy prior to the meeting was that students could remove their masks if they were socially distant in the classroom.  That is, when they were seated they could remove their masks.  The Superintendent brought up this issue and said that new information had been received from the CDC regarding the wearing of masks.  The CDC now recommends that masks be worn by all staff and students at all time.  He recommended that the policy be changed to require cloth masks to be worn all day by everyone with some breaks scheduled during the day.  The Board voted unanimously to adopt this amended policy.  Furthermore, the Board agreed that they would provide masks for students though students could wear ones of their own.

 

The Superintendent also recommended that the start of school for in-person instruction be moved from August 18 to September 1.  Virtual students were originally scheduled to begin on September 8.  His recommendation moves the in-person group to the same start date and gives them two more weeks of data to digest.  He mentioned that there would be a significant staffing issue if cases of infection happened, given the required 14 day quarantine period for all those in contact with the infected person.  He did say that at some time the Board may have to consider a 100% virtual setting in the future.  He also said that the new face mask policy may cause more students to elect the virtual option.  The Board voted unanimously to approve his recommendation.  This was somewhat of a surprise because many of the Board members kept saying that they were “ready to get back to school.”  So we’ll be revisiting this issue again in two weeks!

 

August 14, 2020

Listening to the Augusta County School Board meeting last night just reinforced how polarized we’ve become about the re-opening of school.  One Board member, a podiatrist, did not wear a mask himself and spoke about how he’d be glad to send his grandchildren back to school instantly.  Speakers used the “it’s just like the flu” argument and talked about how they had to go back to work themselves.  How many of them went back to work in a closed environment with hundreds of different people like a school house?  One nurse said she had to go back to work so her kids should have to go back to school.  I’ll bet she doesn’t just wear a cloth mask at her job.  Plus, she is only around one person at a time.  A teacher has many kids in a class when we have in-person learning.  One lady proudly announced herself as an “anti-vaxer.”   When the Superintendent explained that one positive case would mean 14 day quarantines for teachers and students then questioned where would the substitutes come from, several Board members said they would substitute.  Yes, like seven subs would suffice in a school division of more than 10,000 students.

 

Butch is having an awful time right now.  Ann’s vital signs are OK but she is still 100% unresponsive.  He wrote last night on the “Ann’s Army” blog that thirteen of us share that “I am very clear that this is not the life Ann would want, but not so clear that I have the guts to fulfill her wishes, should it come to that.  I so much need all of your support over the next several days.”  He has cared for Ann like a parent would care for a newborn.  No one would second guess any decision he makes because no one else would have put forth the effort he has made to help her get back to normal, something which seems to be increasingly unlikely, if not impossible, now.

 

It’s too bad that Lynn’s foot is broken.  The weather has been very nice for walking compared to when we were doing our twice-a-day hikes.  The highs for the next week are in the high 70’s and low 80’s.  There’s rain forecast but probably something we could walk around if we were still walking.  I just don’t have the ambition to walk by myself and will be very happy when my walking partner is back.

 

We went to Harrisonburg today for a few tasks.  First, I went into Costco and got some items requested for Central’s Food Pantry.  For example, I got two 50 lb bags of sugar.  This is why Lynn couldn’t do it.  Her arm is hurting too much.  After Costco we went to Acme Stove Company in Harrisonburg because Lynn is considering buying a gas fire pit for the Pergola.  There were two we were shown; one was $829 and the other was $720.  Actually I think she likes the cheaper one better.  But we didn’t order it yet.  Maybe later.  Finally we went to the Rockingham County School Board Office to pick up some papers Lynn needs for next week but they weren’t ready.

 

I managed to get the grass cut after dinner.  It had only been five days since I mowed last yet the grass was very high.  The yard doesn’t look so hot because of all the clumps of grass despite the short interval between cuts.  I’m getting tired of cutting!  For the past several years Henry and/or Gus has mowed my grass but this summer I’ve done it myself.  I don’t mind riding but the weed whacking and trimming is not one of my favorite activities.

 

I almost forgot to post today’s writing.  Here are the numbers from early on Saturday morning:

                              Infected                   Died

World               21,387,947              764,112

US                       5,478,009              171,568

Virginia                104,838                  2,370

Augusta County          300                         4

 

August 15, 2020

One corner of our kitchen counter, beside the refrigerator, has been a mess lately.  Lynn has lots of papers, folders, and notebooks there but the major clutter has come the charging cords for Lynn’s laptop, our two iPads, and two iPhones.  Plus, the new MacBook Pro has needed a place to charge nightly so I’ve been taking it downstairs and that was already getting old.  So today I decided to spend the morning building a small charging rack for all of our technology.  This is such a rare happening for me—I generally don’t have the skills to attempt building much of anything.  But I found some shelving boards which had originally been in a closet upstairs that hadn’t been used in many years plus some oak boards which made for decent posts and made a rack that is 12” high with two shelves 4” apart.  I used the miter saw from Jim and my drill press plus other tools.  It turned out well, given my skill set, but others may describe it as middle school shop work.  The two MacBooks fit nicely on the two lower shelves and the iPads lay on top.  The iPhones can simply lay on top of the iPads to charge.  I even moved our Amazon Echo Dot to the shelf and used some cord binders to neaten up the cables.  Lynn approved it (a major step) so now I’ll have to paint it sometime.

 

This was an ugly, rainy Saturday so I couldn’t do any outside work.  In fact, the only time I went outside all day was to get the mail.  Ugh!  The rain did prompt me to double-check our roof issues to see if there were leaks.  Fortunately, I did not find any.

 

It is so unfortunate what my brother is going through.  Basically he is having to wait to see if Ann makes any improvement at all over the next few days.   She is totally unresponsive at the moment and breathing by a tube.  Her doctor told Butch that the next three or four days are crucial; if she is going to make any improvement there would need to be some evidence showing by then.  The issue is that if she doesn’t, he’ll have to make a decision on the next step.  So tough!

 

Lynn’s mother has her 20th great-grandchild now.  Our niece Jenny gave birth to her third child and first daughter, Sandra Jane, yesterday.  They are doing well.  Lynn helped her mom with lunch today and gave her the good news.  I know that brightened Mrs. Hanger’s day.

 

Butch had texted on his group chat that a person he had met while both were waiting on visiting hours to start at the hospital this week offered to him a shirt which was lettered “Where there’s a hill, there’s a way.”  Lynn picked up on the idea, purchased a bicycle pattern for her Cricut machine for $0.99, and soon had made a shirt like this.  She was exceptionally fast in getting this entire project done.  Of course, she is very talented.  She told him not to tell any intellectual property lawyer he knew that she had stolen the idea.  (Kay, of course, is an intellectual property lawyer and is on the group chat with everyone.)

 

Lynn and I did some research on the hexagonal gas fire pit she is interested in purchasing.  We found the same model on several websites but none had it any cheaper.  Many did say that it was currently out of stock, though, so perhaps we couldn’t get it even if we decided to go ahead with it.

 

ABC news tonight was same old, same old.  Like the pandemic, the debate about opening school rages on.  The CDC says as many as 45% of child cases are asymptomatic, meaning they can spread it unknowingly.  Dr. Fauci has said that checking students’ temperatures is basically a waste of time.  As has been the case every night, there were several stories of schools opening back up for in-person classes only to find that several people were infected and multiples more forced to quarantine.  One division had to call of classes because over 100 teachers refused to come back.  The number of COVID-19 cases is tapering off nationally but the number of deaths is still sky-high.  There have been more than 32,000 deaths in the last four weeks.  Colleges are starting back now and the news showed multiple incidents of large on-campus parties.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

                              Infected                   Died

World               21,581,035              767,739

US                       5,526,045              172,537

Virginia                105,750                  2,381

Augusta County          306                         4

 

August 16, 2020

After a night of more rain the skies finally decided to back off a bit today.  The same farmers who were crying about drought conditions a month ago are probably whining now about too much rain.  Living in farm country, I’ve learned that there is no weather that pleases farmers.  For me, I am never happy with rain.  I guess our well needs it but besides that I’ve got no need for it.  If the flowers and grass don’t grow, oh well!

 

From ABC news today:  The CDC has issued guidance to inform pediatric healthcare providers and said that while it is unclear whether children are as susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2 compared with adults and whether they can transmit the virus as effectively as adults, recent evidence suggests that children likely have the same or higher viral loads compared with adults and that children can spread the virus effectively in households and camp settings.

 

I think they left out the word “schools” in that last sentence.

 

As usual, Lynn went to help her mom with lunch today.  Mrs. Hanger wasn’t doing very well.  She was given oxycodone which makes her loopy.  Lynn’s sister Kay reported that dinner was no better.

 

I think I’ve been gaining weight just because our dinners have been so good I’ve been overeating.  Tonight, for example, Lynn fixed a delicious potato salad and we had BLT sandwiches with fresh tomatoes and newly baked bread.  Yum!  We haven’t purchased a loaf of store-made bread since the pandemic started, I believe.  Lynn’s sourdough bread is so good.

 

The news from my brother today is more of the same.  He got to visit Ann but she was only able to move her toes.  No other part of her body moved.  What a tough life for both of them right now.

 

Virginia had no reported deaths in today’s statistics.  That’s good news though there were over 900 new cases.  Here are the stats:

                              Infected                   Died

World               21,792,385              772,244

US                       5,564,078              173,072

Virginia                106,687                  2,381

Augusta County          310                         4

 

Tonight we had our monthly covenant group meeting at Tom and Connie Davis’ house in Staunton.  There were eight of us there:  John & Ginny Bauman,  John & Eileen Myers, Tom & Connie, and Lynn & me.  We’re discussing the book, The Language of God, by Francis Collins.  We all get along and enjoy each other’s company.  It was a good night.

 

August 17, 2020

On ABC news this morning:  COVID-19 cases among children have increased.  7.3% of all positive cases are children under 18.  There were under 1,000 deaths in the US for the first time in seven days.  There were over 40,000 new cases yesterday but that is much lower than the 77,000 record number of cases reported in a 24 hour period.  So the country is doing better, say the experts, though testing is still down.   The CDC is pushing for everyone to get an influenza vaccination this year so we won’t have two pandemics going on at once.

 

Today was a busy day for me.  It began with counting at Central in the morning.  It didn’t take long for Sam Richardson and me to count, though, since there were only a handful of envelopes.  Then I came home and weed-whacked for an hour.  Then I headed to the Blue Ridge Food Bank to pick up our weekly load and took it to Central.  Then I went to Lowe’s to pick up an order I had placed online earlier.  When I got back I loaded up the truck with trash, both at home and at Ann’s.  Just as I got through with all that Lynn called and asked me to try to get our hamburgers grilled as soon possible so we could get to her mother’s soon thereafter.  It all fell into place and we topped the day off with a trip to Smiley’s for ice cream.

 

Lynn worked this afternoon for Rockingham County Public Schools, training two new ELL teachers.  She enjoyed that a lot.

 

I have two in-laws who are not doing well tonight.  Mrs. Hanger is OK, but the hospice nurse is now scheduled to visit her daily as she is fairly weak.  Her mind is still good at 101 but her body is slipping, I’m afraid.  Sister-in-law Ann is really struggling.  She is basically unresponsive though she has moved her toes a little.

 

UNC-Chapel Hill announced that after just one week of school they are canceling in-person classes.  Too many students wouldn’t wear their masks or keep socially distant.

Today’s COVID-19 statistics:

                              Infected                   Died

World               22,033,625              776,774

US                       5,610,106              173,656

Virginia                107,421                  2,385

Augusta County          313                         4

 

Virginia had about 750 new cases in the past 24 hours and 4 new deaths.  Augusta County’s numbers of those infected keeps rising but, thankfully, not the number who have died.

 

Tonight is the first night of the unconventional Democratic Convention.  It doesn’t start on TV until 10:00.  I hope I can stay awake for it but I somewhat doubt it.  I did not sleep well last night.

 

August 18, 2020

As expected, I slept through the Democratic Convention though I caught highlights of it on this morning’s news.  Watching it is somewhat like watching WVU football; I’m a big fan and cheer for the outcome in my favor.  I do honestly believe, though, that Donald Trump has been terrible for America and needs to go.  I didn’t like Bush, didn’t like Reagan, but didn’t hate either of them.  This guy I hate.  He is an egotistical, self-serving, lying jerk.  I actually thought of other descriptors but am trying to keep this post PG-13.

 

Ann is back at work now.  Her kids stay by themselves for the most part but today I brought Freddie and Betsy over in the afternoon.  Lynn made cookies with them and helped Betsy with her doll house kit.  I took both kids on a bike ride down to Middle River, about 1.5 miles from our house.  I quickly found out that I’m getting out of shape since my walking has stopped with Lynn’s injury.  It was an easy ride down but we had to push most of the way back since it was uphill.  I also watched Freddie play on our Wii for a while.  Our investment in Wii many years ago has paid off over and over.

 

Today was a very pleasant day outside.  I did some chores in the morning like spraying the weeds around the tennis court and cutting down some growth at the front corner of our yard where earlier this year I had cut down some small trees.

 

Butch does a fine job of keeping us up to date on Ann’s condition.  Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of change.  During the day, he and her “army” of texters share dozens of texts.

 

From ABC news today:

The U.S. attempt to return children to the classroom this fall has turned into a slow-motion train wreck, with at least 2,400 students and staff either infected with COVID-19 or self-isolating because of exposure, and the vast majority of large school districts opting to go online this summer amid rising cases of the virus.

President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have mostly waved off the situation unraveling this week in states like Georgia, Alabama, Indiana and Tennessee, where schools opened their doors after a months-long hiatus due to the pandemic — only to quickly backtrack as soon as infections popped back up.

There’s no federal standard on when it’s considered safe to reopen schools, although the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released various documents suggesting “phased” reopenings and advising that kids and staff wear masks and keep students six feet apart.

As a result, most schools have become hyper-focused on their own local virus data, with some looking to the World Health Organization’s recommendation that fewer than 5% of an area’s daily tests must turn out positive for 14 days before schools in the area can reopen. As of Friday, only 17 states meet that criteria, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University.

Here are today’s numbers:

                              Infected                   Died

World               22,292,673              783,348

US                       5,653,523              174,951

Virginia                108,282                  2,396

Augusta County          315                         4

Virginia’s infected rose by 800 and deaths by 11.

 

I’m going to try to see some of the Democratic Convention tonight if I can stay awake….

 

August 19, 2020

Once again I didn’t make it to hear any of the convention.  I slept well during it but not so well from 2:30 – 4:30 when we had loud thunderstorms and rain.  This is been an exceptionally rainy August.  I’m fairly sure we’ve had at least twice the expected rainfall for the month and we still have 12 more days left.

 

I’ve made a list of projects I want to get done.  Most are outside which means I can’t get them done in wet weather.  Yuk!  It did dry off enough for me to cut grass today.  It had only been five days since I last cut but it was high.  This is the result of all the rain we’ve been getting.

 

I also walked today for just the third time since Lynn’s injury.  I did our standard 2.8 mile hike in the neighborhood.  Lynn has hosting her friend Pat Collins on the Pergola while I walked.  Combined with the other walking I did today around the yard I exceeded the 10,000 step mark for the first time in ages.  In just three weeks I’ve gone from walking for two hours and at least six miles daily to almost no walking.  I’m glad to have gotten today’s hike done.

 

We had another banner dinner tonight.  We fixed tacos and had leftover tomato and dressing casserole that Lynn made yesterday.  Superb eating!

 

The media shower associated with this election is almost humorous.  I get e-mails and texts every day from people like Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, etc.  At least that’s who is on the “From” line.  Oh, most of them ask for money, too.  You’d think they’d learn that I am very supportive with my thoughts and language but not with my pocketbook.

 

Ann is having a MRI to see how much brain activity there is.  The results of this will be significant for Butch’s next steps.  He’s been a super supportive husband; no one could do more for a stroke victim than he’s done for her.  I’m just afraid that her body just is not going to recover.

 

Regarding coronavirus, ABC news tonight reported that at least 22 states reported outbreaks of COVID-19 on college campuses though Virginia is not in that list (yet!).  Locally, students are coming back at James Madison University, Eastern Mennonite University, and Bridgewater College.  Teachers in many states are balking at coming back to work.  New York teachers are threatening to go on strike.  Florida just became the 5th state with more than 10,000 deaths due to COVID-19.  Dr. Fauci said children ages 10-19 can transmit to adults as easily as adults transmit to adults.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

                              Infected                   Died

World               22,524,774              789,101

US                       5,694,181              176,147

Virginia                109,019                  2,410

Augusta County          323                         4

 

One statistic I’ve not been reporting is the number of hospitalizations in Augusta County.  Today’s “dashboard” from the Virginia Department of Health states that there are now 17 hospitalizations currently in Augusta County.  That’s much higher than I’ve seen in the past.

 

Tonight was our regularly scheduled family Zoom meeting.  However, all the kids and their families were either too busy or forgot so we didn’t get together.  Bummer.  Another time…

 

August 20, 2020

Four months ago, April 20, I started this blog.  I have written every day about our life in the COVID-19 era.  Many of my writings have been repetitive because things have not changed that much since April 20.  We still cannot gather together, eat out, go to movies, attend ball games, travel on airplanes, trust public restrooms, shop without worries, and even fill up our cars with gas without quickly squirting Purell on our hands.  We can’t hug our loved ones, shake hands with our friends, worship at our church, ride in the same vehicle as non-family, enjoy Barter Theatre shows, and go to our grandchildren’s schools.  We can’t even attend funerals.  We’ve canceled multiple vacations and get-aways.  We visit and meet with others via Zoom or Facetime instead of in-person.  We carefully plan trips to the grocery store or post office.  We avoid many stores we used to visit frequently.  Worst of all, there is no relief in sight.  I suspect I’ll be writing the same sentences four months from now.  How sad.

 

I’ve posted daily pandemic numbers.  These numbers show just how pervasive COVID-19 has wormed into our world and locality.  Compare these two sets, one on April 20 and the other last evening:

April 20                Infected                   Died

World                 2,422,286              165,924

US                          770,564                41,114

Virginia                    8,990                     300

Augusta County            22                         0

 

August 19            Infected                   Died

World               22,524,774              789,101

US                       5,694,181              176,147

Virginia                109,019                  2,410

Augusta County          323                         4

 

In many ways, we’ve been the lucky ones during this era.  Our income has not decreased.  Our children have not lost their jobs.  Our health and our immediate family’s health have been excellent.  We’ve gotten along well and enjoyed our companionship even more than ever.  Meanwhile, we’ve been pinned to our home and not visited my brother during the toughest time of his life.  Visits with friends have happened but always at a minimum of six feet distance.

 

Our house is cleaner and better organized.  Our Pergola is up and ready for company.  Before Lynn’s broken foot we were in tip top shape.  We are more in tune with local and national news than ever.  But make no mistake about it, we are not better off.  This is a miserable time, perhaps the worst year I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve had some bad ones.  We miss and long for life the way it was in early 2020.

 

Things will get back that way only when there is a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 and when there are better treatments for those who are infected by it.  Today’s news, like most morning’s, had no mention of either.  Yes, there have been claims of vaccines being developed and several are said to be in Phase 3 of testing.  But given the political nature of life in the Trump era, I am not sure how much good news is exaggerated.  Will we really have an effective vaccine before next April 20?  Will I finally stop this blog knowing that our lives are safe again?  Who knows…

 

We had the Gutshall kids most of the day today.  Gus, Betsy, and Freddie were dropped off here at 9:00.  I picked up Henry at the Fort Defiance High School gym at 11:15 after he shot basketball there for a while.  Ann picked the four up around 4:30.  During the morning, I took Betsy and Freddie to Natural Chimneys Regional Park where we rode our bicycles for about an hour.  The park has almost no traffic, level roads, and plenty of shade.

 

I fixed lunch for the crew (my specialties:  boxed mac & cheese, applesauce, and potato chips) then I went to Central UMC while Lynn took over watching the kids.  She helped Freddie and Betsy make shirts on them each with a bicycle graphic and a saying below.  At Central I worked with the church bookkeeper to resolve some issues with the reports she had sent me for the church’s finances in July.  I am not skilled at QuickBooks and perhaps should become so if I’m going to continue to help out.

 

ABC news had a story about teachers remaining in the classroom despite being exposed to COVID-19.  New guidance from President Donald Trump’s administration that declares teachers to be “critical infrastructure workers” could give the green light to exempting teachers from quarantine requirements after being exposed to COVID-19 and instead send them back into the classroom.  Keeping teachers without symptoms in the classroom, as a handful of school districts in Tennessee and Georgia have already said they may do, raises the risk that they will spread the respiratory illness to students and fellow employees. Multiple teachers can be required by public health agencies to quarantine for 14 days during an outbreak, which can stretch a district’s ability to keep providing in-person instruction.  It will be interesting to see how Virginia’s school divisions react to this designation.

 

Another ABC news story is that clinical data from a new study shows that children play are larger role in the community spread of the novel coronavirus than previously thought.

The study, which was published Thursday in The Journal of Pediatrics, investigated 192 pediatric patients aged 22 and younger, of which 49 tested positive for COVID-19 and an additional 18 had late-onset, coronavirus-related illness. Researchers found that the infected children carried a significantly higher level of virus in their airways — particularly in the first two days of infection — than adults who were hospitalized in intensive care for COVID-19.  The CDC says that schools should only reopen if the positive test rate is less than 5% in the locality.  According to some data I found from Johns Hopkins University, I believe Virginia’s positive test rate is currently around 5.4%.  Georgia’s is over 11%.  Florida’s is over 15%.  West Virginia’s is 2.3%.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 20            Infected                   Died

World               22,804,478              795,674

US                       5,740,359              177,223

Virginia                109,882                  2,427

Augusta County          327                         4

 

After another good taco dinner tonight and the news we went to Smiley’s.  This week they have Lynn’s absolute favorite, Death by Chocolate, as one of the flavors of the week.  We had hundreds of reward points on our account so we were able to pick up a quart of it for her to eat at her leisure.  Of course, for dessert tonight I had a waffle cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.

 

August 21, 2020

I’m starting today’s blog with the most sobering of news.  Sister-in-law Ann had the MRI last evening.  Butch wrote “The MRI shows that Ann has had a stroke in her brain stem.  That’s why she’s not waking up.  The doctor told me to take my time coming back to Columbus, that they would give her a few more days, but it is very highly unlikely that she could wake up.” Throughout the day Lynn and I have been texting with Butch who has been both very emotional yet quite in touch with the situation.  It is so fortunate that Ann had an Advanced Medical Directive so her wishes can be carried out.  Butch wrote “Assuming (in the absence of another miracle this weekend) that things continue the way they’re heading, Ann wanted no funeral and to be cremated.  I’m imagining a family and friend memorial service some time in the future (when it’s safer to travel).  Ashes will keep.”

 

I feel very badly that I can offer no help except for an occasional text message.  I did offer to come to Ohio but he said that while he would appreciate my coming he would worry about the COVID-19 risks I’d have by coming.  Plus, Lynn couldn’t go at the moment because her mother is slipping even more nowadays.  I think we’ll both just wait a few days and see what happens next.

 

This is certainly not a good time of my life.  Pandemic.  Two in-laws at the end of their lives.  I know I’ve got a million things to be thankful of but today these three items are heavy on my mind.

 

Lynn and I had a very efficient morning.  On our way to Harrisonburg we stopped at the Gutshall’s to drop off a few items that had been left at our house.  We went to the Rockingham County School Board Office where Lynn dropped off a mileage sheet and I picked up my repaired iMac.  Then we went to Costco where we got several items of need.  On our way home we stopped at Ann and Wes Ford’s house where they gave us a box of fresh vegetables.  Yum!  Their generosity is greatly appreciated.  We got home in time for Lynn to help her mother with lunch.

 

I spent the majority of the rest of the day getting reacquainted with an old friend.  My iMac is a vintage 2011 model and served me well until March of this year when its hard drive died.  I’ve written about how wonderful it was for Nevin Diener to offer to replace the hard drive, which he did, only to have the computer tumble over on my ride home and shatter its screen.  Nevin repaired the screen over the past week and now it is back ready to go.  Nevin also added more RAM and a larger hard drive so it is probably better than ever.

 

I spent several hours restoring files and settings to it, careful to not reinstall applications that were intended for its earlier operating system or applications for which I no longer had licenses.  And I had to copy my 50,000+ pictures and every document I’ve created on a computer in the past two decades to its hard drive.  As of this evening it is finally 99.9% done.

 

Lynn and I decided to buy our dinner out tonight.  Chicano Boys is one of our favorite local restaurants but it had been closed for the past two weeks after Staunton was hit by a flash flood which did considerable damage to the restaurant.  So we celebrated their reopening by picking up some carnita salads and supreme potatoes from there.  Yum!

 

Another event that happened today was a local contractor came by and measured our windows to give us a quote on replacing them.  The windows in this house are over 50 years old.  The old weight systems are broken so I’ve had to screw most of the upper windows so they can’t be opened for fear that they would fall and crush someone’s fingers.  Hopefully the quote won’t be too high.  If we were to get them replaced I know it would increase the value and appearance of this house.

 

Today’s Staunton Leader newspaper had an interesting article about COVID-19 treatment being studied at the University of Virginia.  Here is an excerpt:

 

Dr. Bill Petri feels encouraged. A professor of epidemiology and medicine and infectious disease specialist at University of Virginia’s Health System, he and his team have been focused on one thing since last March — conquering COVID-19.  In the big scope of things, he says they are much better off today with COVID-19 treatment than they were just two months ago.

Come November, Petri expects an antibody treatment now in the last phase of clinical trials that is proving to be effective in preventing the virus from attaching to a human cell will be available to the public by late Fall.  A virus has to get into a human cell to replicate, and this antibody treatment prevents the virus from getting in the cell. Even if one of your family members is positive, this treatment will prevent you from getting it, he says. And the hope is it will also lessen the severity of the illness if you are already positive. Phase III trials for this antibody treatment begin next week. As part of a big team effort, UVA is one of 70 sites that together are conducting the study. Successful completion will allow the biotechnology company Regeneron to apply to the FDA to use the “anti-Spike antibodies” for treatment and prevention of COVID-19.  If all goes as Petri anticipates, the treatment will be available for people in the Valley by Thanksgiving.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus stats:

August 21            Infected                   Died

World               23,098,181              802,365

US                       5,796,727              179,200

Virginia                110,860                  2,436

Augusta County          335                         4

 

Almost 2,000 more deaths in the US in 24 hours.  Another thousand cases in Virginia.

 

August 22, 2020

Today I put the finishing touches on getting my iMac back up and running.  I really enjoy that huge 27” screen especially when it is showing my favorite pictures which I’ve set the screen saver to do.

 

We’ve kept up our active text with Butch throughout the day again.  It is hard to lift his spirits from afar but I do think he is on top of things.  Ann’s condition is unchanged and that’s not good.  He is going back to Columbus in a couple of days and will see that her wishes are carried out.  In the meantime, she is going to be under hospice care, receiving medicines to make sure she is not in pain.  So sad.

 

Today was another day of thunderstorms.  Though we didn’t get too much rain here, we saw pictures on Facebook where Staunton was flooded again.  What wacky weather!

 

I did manage to get three jobs done today that I’m glad to have behind me.  First, I put my new cart from Jim on back of my lawnmower and raked then picked up grass in the front and back yards.  I don’t know why, but raking grass is one job I detest.  Surely there are worse jobs but that one I just do not like doing.  At least I got the grass up where it is most obvious to the viewer.  I put it in a trash can to be taken to the dump the next time I go.  Then, I got the excess on the chains holding the swings up in the Pergola cut off.  This was not an easy task.  First, I disconnected each swing onto my lawnmower cart.  Then I drove the mower to the driveway.  Lynn helped me from there—this way she was always on level ground.  I put the swings near my vise.  I counted six links up from where they were hung on the carabiner, locked the sixth link in my vise, and used a hack saw to cut the chain.  I had to do this for all five swings which made ten cuts through heavy duty chain.  After I cut the chain and separated the excess from the remaining chains connecting the swing, I reloaded the swing back on my cart and towed it back to the Pergola and hung it back.  Thankfully all of this is behind me now.  The third job I did involved the little charging stand I had built for our kitchen to hold the two laptops, two iPads, and two iPhones.  I sunk all the screws below the surface, puttied over each, then painted the stand using the same paint that I had used last year when I painted the kitchen trim.  I’ll let it dry until morning then bring it back in.  It should look good.

 

I missed the national news today so I don’t know what’s going on with COVID-19 today.  Probably same old, same old.  Here are today’s statistics:

August 22            Infected                   Died

World               23,359,254              807,688

US                       5,840,433              180,153

Virginia                112,072                  2,443

Augusta County          341                         4

 

Another thousand Americans dead and over a thousand Virginians infected.  Perhaps doctors are learning ways of keeping fewer people from dying from it but obviously there are still many fatalities from COVID-19.

 

August 23, 2020

Butch made his last trip back to Columbus today.  The doctors there told him that Ann would probably never wake up; she would spend the rest of her life in a coma, requiring 24 hour care.  He went there to, as he said it, insure that her wishes were carried out.  So this afternoon, in his presence, the doctors removed her breathing tube.  He was told that it would take up to 24 hours for her to die.  How heart wrenching this has been for him and all of the family!  He has texted over and over today on his “Ann’s Army” group chat.  Everyone is 100% supportive of him and is pleased that Ann is on medicines which guarantee that she was not in pain.  He sat in her room all day.  I cannot imagine what all went through his head.

 

I have thought how at least he was able to spend her last hours with her compared to thousands who died of COVID-19 quarantined from their loved ones.  This is some solace.

 

He has repeatedly told us to not come yet.  When she dies, she will be cremated and he will have a service later in the year for her.  We would have trouble leaving for any length of time now because Lynn’s mother is still showing no improvement.  Lynn helped her mom with lunch today and said she was groggy the whole time.

 

I joined our weekly Sunday School Zoom session again today.  Won always asks me to play a hymn on the piano so I always pick one in advance and practice it before 11:00.

 

I also put a second coat of paint on the charging stand I had built for our electronic devices.  It looks much better now.

 

We ate an early dinner tonight.  Lynn had made her signature macaroni casserole.  She also made a tasty salad and we had some corn left over she had made which included green chilies and cream cheese.  Everything was delicious.

 

I believe we will be watching Betsy and Freddie and perhaps one or more of their older brothers three days during the coming week since Ann and Josh are both back to work on-site.  They are going to Josh’s parents Wednesday and Friday.  Knowing we would be fixing lunch and perhaps breakfast for them, we ordered some extra groceries from Kroger today since Kroger has curbside pickup.  Our pickup was at 6:00; that’s why we ate dinner early.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 23            Infected                   Died

World               23,545,428              811,434

US                       5,869,507              180,555

Virginia                112,966                  2,467

Augusta County          345                         4

 

The number of new cases in the US was much lower than usual, around 29,000.  Likewise, the number of US deaths was around 400, lower than it has been.  Virginia’s numbers seemed about the same as usual—around 900 new cases and 24 additional deaths.

 

It was a pleasant evening so Lynn and I spent some time swinging on the Pergola swings.  It was very relaxing.

 

August 24, 2020

The news today said “The Food and Drug Administration announced Sunday that it has authorized the use of blood plasma from patients who have recovered from Covid-19 as a treatment for the disease.  So-called convalescent plasma is among a host of potential therapeutics that have been undergoing testing in clinical trials. The hope is that infusions of antibody-rich plasma from those who have recovered from Covid-19 can be injected into ill patients, kickstarting their immune system and allowing them to fight off the virus until they can generate their own antibodies.”  But is this something to really celebrate?  The fact is, Donald Trump pressured the FDA to make this Emergency Use Authorization just in time for the Republican Convention.  At a White House news conference he said “Today’s action will dramatically expand access to this treatment.” He called the EUA a “truly historic announcement” and said that convalescent plasma has been proven to reduce mortality by 35%, which he called a “tremendous number.”  However, the fine print from the FDA said this treatment meets the ‘may be effective’ criteria for issuance of an EUA.  “Adequate and well-controlled randomized trials remain nonetheless necessary for a definitive demonstration of efficacy and to determine the optimal product attributes and the appropriate patient populations for its use.”  Another health expert from the Scripps Research Translational Institute said it was “outrageous” to claim a 35% improved survival.  “There’s no evidence to support any survival benefit,” he wrote.

 

Butch has had another grueling day.  Ann has been moved to a hospice facility in Columbus.  She is resting peacefully, still hanging on.  Butch has followed her religiously.  This makes the fourth or fifth location she’s had in Columbus since this ordeal started and he’s been everywhere with her.

 

Lynn and I were talking today about how good it has been to have Message available to us.  Butch has been able to share his feelings, which I’m sure is very important to him, with multiple people at one time without having to face any of us.  And all of us, spread out through multiple states, have been kept fully aware of Ann’s fate.  Ann has two sisters who are on the group chat.  Lynn, Kay, Mary K., a bunch of his Athens friends, and I have read and responded to him regularly.

 

Kay expressed a desire to visit Butch this coming weekend.  He has always been close to her as they have a lot in common.  Based on our phone conversation with her today, I believe she is going to try to drive there on Friday.

 

I am trying to check things off my personal TO DO list.  Today’s item that I got completed was to pressure wash the kids’ playground.  It had lots of lichens and dirt on it but my pressure washer took care of that.  Tonight I began another item on my list associated with the playground—I started staining it with redwood stain.  I had a little left in a gallon from previous years so tonight I stained the new boards that Jim and I had attached around its perimeter.  Now everything is at least redwood colored.  Also tonight I picked up a new gallon of stain at Lowe’s and plan to spend a good deal of time tomorrow staining it all.  Freddie is really the only grandchild who comes here often who uses it but I want it looking and working good for when Faron and Coen come.  I just don’t think they’ll be coming until COVID-19 is under control so who knows when that will be.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

August 24            Infected                   Died

World               23,800,659              816,517

US                       5,914,682              181,097

Virginia                113,630                  2,471

Augusta County          346                         4

 

Virginia had only 4 new deaths and a little over 630 new cases.  The US death rate was under 600 again.  Augusta County still shows 17 people hospitalized at the current time, though.

 

August 25, 2020

Another day of waiting for Butch.  Once again “Ann’s Army” was busy with regular updates from him and supporting comments from the dozen+ friends and family that are part of this chat.  The only good thing I can say is that he has had plenty of time to prepare for what’s coming and recognize that he is fully supported by friends and family.

 

It was a busy day for me.  I spent the morning staining the kids’ playset.  We have had that playset for around a dozen years so this is not the first time I’ve slapped redwood stain on it.  Perhaps it will be the last since Faron and Coen will probably be the last two to use it.  At least now it is well supported, thanks to Jim’s work a few weeks ago, and looks good.  I made no attempt to paint it carefully.  The wood is old and soaks in the stain.  I removed a few of the metal handles but some wouldn’t come off so I just painted around them to the best I could without spending much time.  At some point I may need to give it a new, different roof.  It took the entire gallon of stain and I spent all morning on the project.

 

This afternoon I had a 2:00 Central UMC Finance Committee meeting via Zoom.  Before the meeting I had to prepare some data to share with the group.  Central’s finances aren’t as bad off as I would have predicted a few months ago.  First, we got one of the government’s PPP loans which will turn into a grant.  Then, our membership has stepped up their givings for the past three months.  Plus, our endowments have returned to the levels they were pre-pandemic so income from them has supplemented our treasury.  Finally, we got an anonymous $15,000 donation in memory of two of our recently departed members.

 

Tonight we had a Central UMC Council meeting via Zoom.  Besides being Finance Chairman, I am the Council secretary so I was busy taking notes while “zooming.”  My goal for every meeting is to e-mail the minutes within two minutes after the meeting has ended.  I met my goal for tonight’s meeting.

 

Lynn had a friend, Ginny Bauman over tonight while I had the Council meeting.  Ginny’s mother-in-law is near death and John has returned to be with his mother and family in Marion VA.  Tomorrow morning Lynn is having her friend Mary Gooden over.  The Pergola is getting good use!

 

Tomorrow we’re also having the Gutshall kids all day.  I’ll probably take Freddie and Betsy bike riding in the morning while Lynn visits with Mary.  We’re not sure what we’ll do in the afternoon.

 

This afternoon we made a trip to Harrisonburg.  Lynn had some shoes she wanted to return to Costco and we had agreed to get pizza from Vito’s for dinner.  Today was also the first day of class at James Madison University though we managed to make our two stops without too much traffic interference.  Harrisonburg reminds me so much of Morgantown—it is a completely different town when the college is in session.  Who knows how long JMU will stay on campus with in-person learning given many colleges’ bad experiences with COVID-19.  ABC news reported that the University of Alabama has recorded 531 cases of COVID-19 on campus since the fall semester began last week

 

The numbers of new COVID-19 cases and new deaths in the United States have both decreased by substantial amounts in week-over-week comparisons, according to an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News Monday night.  Just five U.S. states and territories are currently in an upward trajectory of new cases, while five states are at a plateau and 46 states are going down, the memo said.  There were 300,366 new cases confirmed during the period of Aug. 17-23, a 16.2% decrease from the previous seven-day period. There were also 6,873 new deaths recorded Aug. 17-23, an 8.5% decrease from the previous week, according to the memo.  Meanwhile, the national positivity rate for COVID-19 tests ticked downward slightly from 6.4% to 5.5%, the memo said.

 

Here are the numbers for today:

August 25            Infected                   Died

World               24,043,580              822,528

US                       5,955,708              182,404

Virginia                114,635                  2,494

Augusta County          347                         4

 

Another thousand new cases for Virginia, though.  And twenty three more deaths.  Augusta County now has eighteen people hospitalized with coronavirus.

 

August 26, 2020 

Today was Ann’s last day on this earth.  She passed late this afternoon with Butch by her side.  It was a quiet ending to a nine week ordeal.  In the end, she died peacefully and the way she had asked that it be in her Advanced Medical Directive.  All of us on his group chat were expecting this to happen, of course.  His texts during the past week have been heart wrenching and poignant.  Even Wiley has seemed to understand more of what was going on, texting Butch that he “is so pampering you when you come home tomorrow.”

 

Butch has been such a good and faithful husband to her during the past nine weeks.  Here is one of my texts to him:  You set such a high standard for the rest of us who may someday be in your shoes.  But you have always set a high standard.  [Me to teachers, “I’m Butch Hill’s brother.”  Teachers to me, “Great!”….a few weeks later…Teachers to me, “Are you SURE you’re his brother?”]

 

Ann will be cremated and there will be some kind of friends and family service later, perhaps weeks later.  For the time being, I don’t think I’ll go to Athens since Lynn can’t leave her Mom for any period of time now.  Kay has confirmed that she is going there on Friday and coming home on Saturday.  Butch told us today that he is looking forward to her coming.

 

We had Betsy, Freddie, and Gus most of the day today.  Lynn had several other things going on so I took care of them for the most part.  Gus doesn’t need anyone to take care of him; as long as he has a WiFi signal in the basement he’s good to go.  I fixed breakfast and lunch for Freddie and Betsy, played cards with Betsy, then loaded up the bike rack and three bikes for a trip to Waynesboro.  The four of us went and Lynn dropped us off at Waynesboro’s one mile long bike path.  It is an easy one for the kids with almost no hills.  By the time we had done up and back then up and back again we had ridden four miles.  Betsy learned how to shift gears since she’s now riding Lynn’s old ten speed bike.  If all goes as planned, the three of them will have their first day of in-person schooling just one week from today.  I think we’ll have them at our house again tomorrow.

 

We had our family Zoom session tonight.  All four households were on.  Betsy was holding cats, of course, and Faron and Coen were swinging on the tire swing in their back yard that Jim made for them.  Georgia was playing on their playground and hammock.  It is always good to see their smiling faces even if the conversation is somewhat haphazard.

 

Betsy is excited about moving.  It may not happen until late October or November but that’s OK.  They will be only 0.6 mile from us.  Henry is the only one who is not crazy about their new house because he wanted a man-cave room in the basement and the Lintner’s house doesn’t have a finished basement.

 

Our housekeeper Connie was here tonight so I missed the news.  Lynn and I try to get out of her way so we ate our warmed up pizza on the back porch then went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  Yum!

 

We got a quote today from a local windows vendor for replacing the windows in our house.  I asked them to send us two separate quotes:  one for replacing just the upstairs windows and one for replacing them all.  The upstairs quote is one I can live with but to replace them all will be quite expensive.  Lynn and I will be talking about this for a while.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

August 26            Infected                   Died

World               24,315,420              828,721

US                       5,998,702              183,607

Virginia                115,458                  2,515

Augusta County          349                         4

 

As I have said often, the site I get this data from, worldometers.com, has counts a little higher than the Johns Hopkins data but nonetheless we are almost at six million infections in the United States.  Virginia continues to add around 800 more each day and had 21 new deaths in the past 24 hours.  I wish I had better data to report.

 

I always write this using MS Word then copy and paste onto my WordPress post.  Today the Word document topped 200 pages, single spaced.   I’ve written approximately 128 posts since April 20.  I’m committed to continue writing this blog until the day I take my vaccine for COVID-19.

 

August 27, 2020

I suppose Butch will be making his final drive home from Columbus today.  He has made friends with so many of the health care people there plus those at the Residence Inn where he has stayed.  He has been treated very well by all of them and I know how much he appreciates that.  I guess “Ann’s Army” will be decommissioned.  It has been of much support to him and this morning he wrote of his gratitude.  “I woke up with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for all of you.  Together we did something beautiful:  we arranged for a good ending for Ann’s life story—something that Gawande reminded me that every life story deserves.  I could never have done this alone; I’m not that strong!  Now I’m hoping to begin to repay your love and kindness that worked this miracle. I know that many of you are facing hardships and losses of your own.  Let me help you in any way I can.  (I’m NOT saying that I’m done leaning on you, by any means!). I love you all, in ways that only the sadness of the last two months could germinate.”

 

I’m so pleased to be his brother.  He is a good man.  He has gone through many tough times in his life yet has emerged as a great example of what a husband can be.  He has a wonderful mind and a skill set far beyond mine and others, but what has really defined him for the last nine weeks has been his heart.

 

Lynn and I renewed our Broadway in Richmond subscription this morning.  We’re supposing that by next year we will be safe attending Broadway shows again at the Altria Theatre in Richmond where we’ve enjoyed five or six great shows each year for the past half dozen years.  In previous years we’ve shared a subscription with Ann and Joel Palmer who originally lived in Staunton, then moved to near Richmond, but now have moved to Atlanta.  So they are not going to renew with us this year.  We took a chance and bought their tickets this time so now we have four really good seats for the five productions.  John and Ginny Bauman have told us they want two tickets for two of the shows scheduled for 2021 and perhaps Ann and Betsy would want to go to one or more of the others.

 

We had Betsy and Freddie all day today.  Lynn was tied up with four activities of her own so until 2:00 I was in charge of them.  After I fixed them some breakfast, we piled our bikes in the back of my truck and went to Grottoes and rode in and around the town park there.  The park has a nice playground which the kids also played on.  It worked out well.  When we got back I fixed lunch, mac and cheese.  Actually Lynn had also made deviled eggs which the kids enjoyed both at breakfast and lunch times.  When Lynn was finished with her chores, she helped them make some shirts using her Cricut machine.  They look professionally done.  While they worked on the shirts, I got the grass cut.  So it was a busy but productive day for all four of us.

 

I have to laugh at one thing which happened today.  As I was packing up everything to come home from Grottoes when our bike riding was over, I told the kids that I couldn’t find my sunglasses.  Betsy found them—they were on my face!  I was wearing them.

 

My sister and I talked on the phone today.  She told me how she had discovered that our adopted aunt, Zella, apparently has Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing home near Bluefield.  That’s too bad.  Zella was always so good to my grandmother who had adopted her.

 

On the COVID-19 front, more than 1,000 Americans have died in each of the last three days due to the virus.  The head of the CDC now says that if you have been exposed to someone who is positive but you have no symptoms there’s no need for you to be tested.  Many health leaders jumped all over this, saying the decision was made under pressure from Trump who has foolishly said that we test too many people and that’s why we have so many cases.  If we truly want to get a good grip on this disease we need to test more, not fewer, people.  You don’t have to be a M.D. to understand that.  Trump is just embarrassed over the fact that the US is doing so badly when compared to the rest of the world and has decided that if people aren’t tested the number of people reportedly are infected will drop.  Duh!  Of course that number would drop but this would greatly hinder the goal of getting coronavirus under control.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

August 27            Infected                   Died

World               24,584,846              834,441

US                       6,039,974              184,652

Virginia                116,579                  2,527

Augusta County          353                         4

Same old, same old.  Another thousand deaths in the US.  Another thousand cases in Virginia.  CNN News says new coronavirus cases are down across the US about 12% on average over the last seven days compared to the previous week, but the nation is still averaging more than 900 deaths a day.  According to an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, cases are steadily declining in states hard-hit by Covid-19. Compared to last week, new cases are down in Arizona about 36%, California and Texas have seen a decrease of 29%, and Florida’s numbers are down 26%.

 

August 28, 2020

I’ve kept most of my negative comments about Donald Trump to his horrendous response to COVID-19.  For example, because of our coronavirus pandemic, US citizens are now banned from entering every other country in the world.  So has he made America great?  But today what’s on my mind is how he has fueled the discord that exists throughout our country–discord between blacks and whites, Hispanics and whites, Republicans and Democrats, LGBTQ people and straight, men and women, gun and non-gun owners, police and public, and certainly rich and poor.  The President of the United States should be one who binds us together, not one who revels on creating havoc.  He claims that he is the “law and order” man yet we have daily examples of violence including today’s stories about 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse, a Trump fan, who took an AR-15 to Kenosha, Wisconsin and killed two people who were protesting after the police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back.

 

Butch shared Ann’s obituary today.  It is exceedingly well written.  Her sisters and another friend helped him put it together:

Ann Elizabeth (Bohannon) Hill, 68, of Athens, Ohio, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, at the Hospice of Central Ohio, Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. She died with her devoted husband, Butch, by her side, surrounded in spirit by an army of family and friends.

Ann is survived by her husband of 35 years, Herman “Butch” Hill and son Wiley, both of Athens; sisters Jane Thorn of Durham, N.C., and Lynn Bohannon of Woodstock, Vt.; many nieces and nephews and their children; and special friends Meredith, Elena, and Luyi. She was preceded in death by her parents Ralph and Virginia Bohannon.

Ann, the second of three daughters, was born in Fayetteville, N.C., on Feb. 28,1952, but grew up in Bridgeport, W.Va. She graduated from Bridgeport High School in 1970 and from West Virginia University in 1974 with a degree in English. After graduation, she worked in the WVU bookstore where she eventually met Butch, an engineering professor at WVU. A good friendship blossomed into romance and the rest is history. Ann and Butch were married Nov. 23, 1984, and made their home in Athens. They raised a brilliant, quirky, and sweet son Wiley. Although outnumbered by men, Ann kept both in line with her dry, no-nonsense wit. Ann loved to travel and was fortunate to have many opportunities to do so with Butch. She loved experiencing different cultures, sampling new cuisines, and walking, walking, walking in interesting cities. Ann was loved by those who knew her for her wit, her spirit of fun, her sense of adventure, her generosity, and her common sense. Those of us whose lives she touched are forever grateful.

Per her wishes, Ann was cremated and there will be no formal service, but rest assured she is being celebrated through our memories. She would have dismissed us all with an eye roll and a wave of her hand, anyway. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Hospice of Central Ohio or the Rockland Public Library in Rockland, Maine.   Please share a memory, send a note of condolence, or sign the online register book at http://www.jagersfuneralhome.

Today was a hot but dry day so I got some outside chores done.  I connected my pressure washer to the faucet in the front of our house, got my extension ladder, and took advantage of the washer’s 30 foot hose to climb on the roof and wash the siding which had gotten very ugly over the summer.  Then I loaded my truck with a bunch of debris that had been under the maple tree near our garden for years.  There were rotted fence posts, fence boards, stumps, and ancient firewood.  I took it all to the dump.

 

Lynn had a bunch of chores of her own to do but we both ended up feeling somewhat bored after dinner.  In previous months we would have walked but she still has several more weeks of healing and rehab before her broken foot is ready to resume the multiple daily walks we took.

 

With all the news about Biden and Trump I have to believe that there are no undecided voters left in America.  I believe there are 67 days before we vote but I think we’d get the same results if we voted today.  Of course, I hope that result is a Biden victory.  There’s no real reason to have debates, TV ads, rallies, etc.  No Trump supporter is going to change his mind because of these and no Biden supporter in his right mind would think of switching tickets.

 

ABC news reported the first case in America of a person getting a second COVID-19 infection after he had recovered from his first infection.  As the news said, this is just one case out of six million in the US but it still is not what anyone wanted to read.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

August 28            Infected                   Died

World               24,887,834              840,392

US                       6,093,027              185,837

Virginia                117,592                  2,550

Augusta County          354                         4

Another repeated story:  1,000 more cases in Virginia and 1,000 more deaths in the US.

 

August 29, 2020

I read an article today in The Atlantic that son-in-law Andy had suggested labeled “Trump is a Secessionist from the Top.”  The article states that Trump considers himself as a wartime leader of Red America against Blue America.  It states that we basically have two countries in one now, Red and Blue.  “Since we are two countries, we can have two sets of laws and rules: one for friends, another for enemies. That’s why so many prominent Trump supporters can look at the shooting in Kenosha and perceive the gunman, who went to a city where he did not live with an AR-15-style rifle in hand, as acting in self-defense. The gunman had legitimate rights that must be respected. The dead men did not, and neither did all the many victims this year of police shootings. If those victims had criminal records, then they were criminals—unlike, say, Michael Flynn, who remains a rights-bearing American despite his criminal record. Two countries, two classes of citizen, two systems of law.”  The article concludes with this statement:   Is the law a set of obligations and rights binding for all, or a tool of power for the benefit of some?

 

Reading this article reinforced something which makes my blood pressure rise—there are many people in our society who think that mandates and laws are for someone else, not for them.  They don’t wear masks or maintain social distancing.  They conduct political rallies on White House property.  I get furious even when I am driving the legal speed limit on an interstate highway and a police car with no blue lights on buzzes past me.  Why can they disobey the laws but I can’t?  Trump embodies this type of person to the fullest, promising “law and order” yet disobeying both science and the law himself:  saying hydroxychloroquine will prevent COVID-19, not wearing a mask even when he is in places that require it, inviting foreign assistance in his re-election plans, encouraging militias to arm themselves, sending in federal troops to quell peaceful rallies, and on and on.

 

Another Facebook post emphasized this polarization.  It showed a drawing of Colin Kapernick kneeling during the National Anthem with the label “Traitor” and another drawing of Kyle Rittenhouse armed with his AR-15 with the label “Hero.”

 

I’m proud of Kay today.  She drove to Athens last night to visit Butch.  It was a six hour drive for her.  She has always felt close to him for many reasons and was one of those in the “Ann’s Army” group message throughout her aunt Ann’s ordeal.  This morning Butch wrote to Lynn and me, “Thank you SO much for sharing your daughter with me!  We sat out on the patio at the OU Inn until WAY past my bedtime, toasting Ann, talking about Ann (and talking about everything else, it seems!).  Today I’m taking her to some of my favorite places and favorite people in Athens.  Tomorrow, we’ll go for a run before she heads back home.”

 

Lynn’s breadmaker was showing signs of being worn out so she bought a new one this week.  After all, as I’ve written before, she has made homemade sourdough bread every week since this pandemic began.  It has been delicious.  Today she tried out her new breadmaker.  It is a little smaller than her previous one so she was concerned that her oft-used recipe might not work in it.  But it worked just fine.  Yum!

 

Central UMC had a fundraiser BBQ today for the family of our former administrative assistant, Sarah Russell.  We picked up some pork for dinner and left a generous offering for the Russell family, who just had their second daughter who apparently has Down’s Syndrome.  We also picked up some for Ann’s family.

 

The BBQ pork on the homemade rolls plus cole slaw from the church made for a great supper.  Lynn also fried some potatoes from the leftover baked potatoes from yesterday.  Good eating!

 

Lynn helped her mother with lunch again today.  Mrs. Hanger is not doing very well.  She is very lethargic and doesn’t eat much.  She sleeps a lot.  Sometimes her mind is sharp but at other times she hallucinates.

 

As of Saturday, more than 1,200 students and 166 employees and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at the University of Alabama.  Meanwhile, WVU continues to hold classes, practice football, and prepare for a full season of Big 12 football beginning on September 12 when they host Eastern Kentucky.  No fans will be attending the Eastern Kentucky game.

 

In the afternoon, Lynn and I went to Lowe’s in Staunton.  She is somewhat bored now and wanted a project to work on.  So, she bought three 48” boards which she plans to turn into porch signs like the Welcome sign that she made that is out there now.  Actually, she bought a 12’ board which she got cut into three 4’ boards at the store.

 

The boredom we’re experiencing is due to both COVID-19 limiting our going out and Lynn’s broken foot keeping us from walking.  So for the past few days we’ve both played a lot of Solitaire.  I’m over 19,500 games of Whirly Word on my iPad.  We both also spend a lot of time on Facebook.  One favorite post of mine was a cartoon showing a group of people gawking over Trump.  They say “We’d give up our lives for you!”  Trump responds, “Thanks, I’d give up your lives for me, too.”

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

August 29            Infected                   Died

World               25,141,374              845,532

US                       6,135,900              186,792

Virginia                118,809                  2,568

Augusta County          361                         4

I’ve been writing that these statistics are repetitive.  Like yesterday, there’s around another thousand deaths in the US and well over a thousand new cases in Virginia.  Augusta County still has 18 hospitalized with coronavirus.  Meanwhile, Rockingham and Harrisonburg have 1,044 and 1,240 cases, respectively.  JMU is back in class and has around 200 students who are infected.

 

August 30, 2020

Today was probably the prettiest day we’ve had in August.  The humidity was low, the skies clear, and the temperatures in the low 80’s.  I wish it would continue but, alas, the forecast for tomorrow is for heavy rain.  We’ve already had twice the normal rainfall for August but I guess the month will end with a stamp of more precipitation.  Yuck!

 

I almost had to make up some work just to get outside on such a pretty day.  I ended up hooking my cart to my mower and filling it with the dirt we had displaced when we dug the poles for the Pergola.  I took it to our field and used it to fill in two holes there.  The cart worked very well.

 

Before then I had done my usual Sunday morning routine which included preparing then playing a hymn for our Zoom Bible study and taking part in the hour-long meeting.

 

This is the week of in-law birthdays.  Today is Morgan’s, tomorrow is Josh’s, and Thursday is Andy’s.

 

Lynn has been working on her new porch signs today.  This morning she stained one of the boards we got at Lowe’s yesterday and this afternoon she lettered it using her Cricut machine.  Her sign says “Happy Fall Y’all.”   Lynn is the craftiest woman I’ve ever known.  She is always creating, altering, bedazzling, designing, or making something with her hands.  Her creations are varied and always professionally done.

 

Lynn reported that her mother was doing much better today.  She was alert, talkative, and ate lunch well.  An hour later Jane visited her and found a very different person.  She was confused and much less alert.

 

The upcoming week is a big one.  School resumes in Augusta County on Tuesday.  Gus, Betsy, and Freddie will go on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Henry will go on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Kids don’t go on Mondays.

 

I read an editorial online in Business Insider.  The author said that Donald Trump isn’t the “law and order President,” he’s the “lawless and disorder President.”  He showed many of Trump’s defiance of the law including how many of his cronies he had pardoned, some of whom had pled guilty of their crimes.  He wrote “He speaks out against an ‘angry mob’ of peaceful protesters but encourages mob violence at his rallies. He calls himself an ally to peaceful protesters but sends federal troops to tear gas them so he can have a photo op. He calls on foreign leaders not to kill their protesters but warns Americans that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts.’”

 

Even more enflaming to me was an article in New York Times that said that Trump reposted messages asserting that the real death toll from the coronavirus is only around 9,000 — not 182,000 — because the others who died also had other health issues and most were of an advanced age.  “So get this straight — based on the recommendation of doctors Fauci and Birx the US shut down the entire economy based on 9,000 American deaths to the China coronavirus,” said the summary of a story by the hard-line conservative website Gateway Pundit that was retweeted by the president, assailing his own health advisers, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Dr. Deborah L. Birx.  He also tweeted that Governor Andrew Cuomo from New York should be imprisoned due to the high death rate early in the pandemic at New York nursing homes.  The truth is that Cuomo was always transparent in how he dealt with the coronavirus and has New York in good shape compared to the rest of the country.  The same night as those two tweets, he liked a tweet written by someone else that said “Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump.”  Rittenhouse, of course, is the 17-year old Trump supporter who is charged with homicide for killing two demonstrators in Kenosha, Wisconsin, using his illegal AR-15.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

August 30            Infected                   Died

World               25,376,719              850,141

US                       6,171,272              187,216

Virginia                119,747                  2,569

Augusta County          363                         4

The world deaths have been increasing by around 5,000 each day.  ABC news reports that India has registered 78,761 new coronavirus cases, the biggest single-day spike in the world since the pandemic began, just as the government began easing restrictions to help the battered economy.   Virginia again had near 1,000 more cases though only one more death.  The US number of deaths was down to under 500.  Augusta County still has 18 hospitalized whereas Rockingham and Harrisonburg together have nearly 200 hospitalized at the moment.

August 31, 2020

I read an opinion by Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post this morning entitled “The Five Dumbest Republican Arguments for Trump.”  This article is so right-on that I am reproducing it below:

 

None of Republicans’ commonly deployed arguments for reelecting President Trump are tethered to reality. The paucity of logic and factual support for their rationales suggests many on the right, even “respectable” columnists and elected officials, actually support him for reasons they’re loath to admit, whether it’s because they share his apocalyptic view of crime encroaching on the suburbs or are eager to see a country purged of immigrants.

He will give us law and order: If public safety is the concern, the unnecessary deaths from covid-19, which might exceed 200,000 by Election Day, and the anxiety over leaving our homes for fear of joining 6 million infected Americans surely make Trump’s tenure the most dangerous for ordinary Americans. Each week, we have been losing twice the number of Americans killed on Sept. 11.

No wonder Trump loves to highlight any domestic scene of disorder, mayhem and looting he can to frighten White Americans, arguing that if law enforcement “dominates the streets,” we will have public order. This is preposterous. We cannot go to war with millions of demonstrators. That’s simply impossible, not to mention morally objectionable. The demands of the protesters, among them police reform and voting rights legislation are entirely legitimate. But so long as Trump denies the legitimacy of these concerns and the presence of systemic racism, we will not have domestic tranquility.

Trump celebrates violence, encourages police misconduct, honors Whites indicted for brandishing guns at marchers and tear-gassed peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway let on that the administration believes that the more violence happens in the streets, the better chance Trump has of being reelected.

Meanwhile, Trump smears our intelligence community, spinning false conspiracy theories and adopting Vladimir Putin’s version of the 2016 plot to interfere with our election. Trump tramples on laws and precedents ranging from the Hatch Act to turning over his tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee upon request. There is no president in recent memory who has hired and associated with so many convicted felons. He personally is under investigation by multiple authorities for potential financial crimes. He is his own crime spree.

As President Trump threatens to unleash the military on American cities roiled in civil unrest, it’s clear that he’s embracing his inner Nixon.

He has vanquished the pandemic: The level of delusion necessary to sustain the fiction that Trump has handled the pandemic well is unfathomable. We have more deaths due to the disease than any other country on the planet, many more deaths per capita than many advanced countries and no national testing-and-tracing program. We remain cloistered at home and children cannot attend school in person in most places after weeks of shutdowns, largely because Trumped egged officials into reopening prematurely. He has hawked dangerous and unproven remedies and pressured government health experts to weaken or change guidelines to minimize dangers and restrictions on activities. As he did Thursday night, he gathers large crowds without masks and social distancing, creating his very own potential superspreading events.

He has been great for the economy: Multiple fact-checkers have repeatedly demonstrated that the economy under President Barack Obama’s was stronger by multiple measures than the economy under Trump. This disparity was due in part to tariffs Trump imposed, which amount to a tax hike for U.S. consumers. If Trump falsely thinks he inherited a rotten economy, it’s inarguable that it got worse even before he crashed it by attempting to ignore a pandemic. It is now evident that some jobs lost will not return when — and if — the coronavirus is vanquished. Hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses have closed. Companies will not all emerge from bankruptcy. Trump ends his four years with record unemployment and debt — and without a plan to reduce either.

Joe Biden is a socialist: Not even the Republicans have the nerve to make that argument. Instead, they argue that Biden will be tricked or led around by the nose by forces on the left. This is entirely speculative and ignores Biden’s decades-long record in office (remember the 1994 crime bill?) and policy choices during the campaign, among them his opposition to Medicare-for-all. Moreover, we have yet to see in American politics a situation in which the wing of a party defeated in the presidential primary magically controls the executive branch after their rivals from the same party assume office.

Moreover, if “conservatives” are worried about the expansion of government, then Trump’s widespread abuse of executive power, meddling in investigations and enforcement actions to benefit cronies and punish enemies, threats to harm certain companies (as in his call for a boycott of Goodyear), protectionism and capitulation to illiberal regimes, as well as the mammoth debt he’s run up, his indiscriminate use of federal forces against protesters, his misuse of government property and government employees to serve his personal interests, and attacks on the courts and free press make Trump the least conservative president ever (if that word has any meaning anymore).

“Life”: One can respect those deeply opposed to abortion in evaluating the candidates, but by the same token, a president who prioritizes the economy over preventing a pandemic, rips children from the arms of their mothers, refuses to denounce killings of unarmed Black Americans and willfully declines to protect the lives of our troops on whose heads Russia placed bounties is not respectful of human life in any meaningful sense. Indeed, Trump has turned the party into a vicious death cult that trivializes the nearly 180,000 deaths caused by covid-19 to date. When you create superspreader crowds to soothe your ego, you are endangering human life.

When one party willfully ignores a pandemic and treats Black lives as expendable, it loses any moral authority regarding the sanctity of human life. In refusing to be guided by scientific facts (be it on air and water quality, climate change or covid-19), Trump puts at risk the health and lives of millions of people here and around the world. Those who value the essential worth of every human being should be repulsed by this administration.

Staunton’s monthly rainfall for August averages 3.44 inches.  Even before today, August in 2020 had 9.81 inches of rain plus an inch and a half today today.  That means this year we saw over three times the normal rainfall in August.  I’m tired of it.

 

Despite the rain, we ran some errands today in Harrisonburg then returned in time for Lynn to visit with her mother again.  I kept checking for roof leaks but, fortunately, did not find any.

 

One of our errands was to pick up ice cream for the Gutshall’s for tonight.  We’ve offered to have Smiley’s ice cream as both a way of celebrating Josh’s birthday and for the kids going back to school.  Our choices for the night were Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk, Peanut Butter Chunk, Cherry Sorbet, and Cookies & Cream.

 

We also had a second contractor come by to give us an estimate for the replacement of our 50 year old windows.  We’re having each contractor give us multiple quotes and will decide later what to do.

 

At Georgia Tech students have been back in class for two weeks.  In the past eight days the number of infected students jumped from 252 to 641.  JMU has 390 cases.  At WVU, tests were given yesterday to 136 students and 27 came back positive, a 19.9% rate.  This is terribly high.  They have had around 200 positive tests in all.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

August 31            Infected                   Died

World               25,592,653              853,451

US                       6,205,706              187,624

Virginia                120,594                  2,580

Augusta County          364                         4

The number of deaths in the US is around 400 more than the previous day, which is a smaller increase than we’ve seen recently.  Likewise, the number of infections in Virginia is around 800 more than the previous day which is a smaller increase than it has been.

July 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

July 1, 2020

The morning news said that there were 45,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.   Texas and California together have approximately 15,000 of those cases.  Florida has more than 150,000 total cases.  Experts say that indoor gatherings with lack of masks are the main culprit but officials won’t ban these type of engagements.  It is much safer to be outside, the experts say.  Those who refuse to wear masks because they don’t want the government telling them what to do should be aware that there are already laws about wearing seatbelts in the car and shoes and shirts inside a restaurant.

 

Even some leading Republicans are encouraging Trump to wear a mask to set an example.  The asshole won’t.  I just can’t fathom how anyone, anyone would want this guy to continue as the leader of our country.

 

Lynn and I have been reading lots of texts over the past week from my brother about Ann’s recovery.  She is doing better and is still hospitalized in Columbus OH.  Recovery from a stroke is a slow process.

After lunch today we met John and Ginny Bauman at Smiley’s for ice cream.  We had previously arranged this as our way of celebrating Ginny’s retirement effective yesterday.  Wow, Lynn and I have now been officially retired for three years.  I’d have to rate these as superb years for me.

 

We took our ice cream to a shelter in a park in Bridgewater where we sat and talked for two hours.  It was very relaxing.

 

We got news today that two of our friends, Jim and Vicki Printy, have decided to leave Central United Methodist Church.  They have been members at Central for around forty years so I know this decision was not made quickly.  They are not happy with the United Methodist Church’s lack of support for the LGTBQ community.  They have a gay daughter.  Central has been very liberal but the denomination has yet to take an inclusive stand on those in the LGTBQ community.  It is unfortunate.  There may be other reasons for their exit, we’re not sure.

 

The health app on my iPhone said we walked 7.4 miles today.  Lynn’s FitBit usually records a slightly higher figure.  After an early dinner we walked the Leaport Loop.  When we left home, it was 85o outside.   The loop has 40% shade, at best, so this was a hot lap though the humidity was bearable.

 

Unbelievably stupid!  This story is from ABC news tonight:

Students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have been attending parties in the city and surrounding area as part of a disturbing contest to see who can catch the virus first, a city council member told ABC News on Wednesday.  Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said students have been organizing “COVID parties” as a game to intentionally infect each other with the contagion…She said the organizers of the parties are purposely inviting guests who have COVID-19.  “They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense,” McKinstry said. “They’re intentionally doing it.”

 

Can you believe this behavior with statistics like these?

Infected                   Died

World               10,780,541              517,842

US                       2,774,663              130,757

Virginia                  63,203                  1,786

Augusta County          184                         2

 

There must have been an error in Augusta County’s report last night because the total infected as of yesterday was 185 but today it is 184.

 

This is Wednesday so tonight we had our weekly Zoom meeting.

 

July 2, 2020

Good Morning America announced that yesterday the US set a record for new COVID-19 infections–over 50,000 in one day.  More than 40% of the country has reversed some of its re-opening.  Many of the states have a shortage of tests.

 

We had a very eventful walk this morning.  First, about 1/2 miles from home on Leaport Road, we encountered a cow in the road.  I walked back to tell a man who was working in neighboring field while Lynn planned to stay with the cow.  Unfortunately, it turned then headed off down the road so fast she didn’t know where it went.  She texted Lacey Michael who lives across from the field where the cow probably came from.  We kept on walking to our one mile mark then turned around and came back but didn’t see the cow again.

 

Then, as we were turning to do the Mount Pisgah UMC mile, a fire truck and rescue squad ambulance came and turned into our neighbor John Michael’s house.  John has been very, very ill lately.  The ambulance left after a while but not with its lights flashing so we’re not sure what that means.

 

On the last 1/2 mile of our walk we noticed that a huge 18 wheeler had stopped on the side of our narrow country road.  We had seen this truck come up Limestone Road beside Mount Pisgah Church which is very surprising because that road has a 5 mph curve on it that I don’t know how the truck made.  Anyway the truck was stopped because the driver was lost.  We chatted with him and think we got him back on track to the Augusta County Business Park.  Apparently his GPS had led him astray once he got off I-81.

 

We’ve had lots of texts from my brother Butch today and others who are on the mass chat he has set up so he can report to all interested parties about her progress.  He called the chat “Ann’s Army.”  Ann is still making some progress in Columbus, slow though.

 

The Harrisonburg newspaper had an article in today’s edition saying that yesterday was the first day of no new COVID-19 cases since March.  That’s a good sign, especially with the rest of the country going in the opposite direction.

 

The ABC news tonight verified that the number of infections in one day, 50,700 is more than double that of a month ago.  Dr. Fauci warned that we are losing the war.  Cases were rising in 38 states (but not Virginia).  Yet Trump said “it is being handled.”  With the July 4 weekend coming up, another surge is expected.  The governor of Texas finally made mask wearing mandatory.

 

Here are tonight’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               10,968,349              523,136

US                       2,832,121              131,406

Virginia                  63,735                  1,816

Augusta County          189                         2

 

Such a shame that there is no news about a cure or a vaccine.  When will it come?

 

July 3, 2020

This is a typical July day—hot and dry.  We managed to get in our morning 3 mile walk before it got too hot.

 

I got an interesting e-mail from YouTube today.  When I was at Bridgewater College I created a YouTube channel for posting my instructional videos.  I posted them mainly for my students though they could be viewed by anyone.  I have nearly 50 videos posted.  Nearly all are screencasts where you hear my voice and see my computer screen but never see me.  I created them to show students how to do various tasks including teaching math topics, instructional video topics, and teaching assistance videos.  One of them has nearly 175,000 views.  The e-mail I got today was a celebration e-mail that I now have 1,000 subscribers.  When you subscribe to a YouTube channel you receive instant updates whenever new content from that source appears. It also enables you to view activity from the author, such as videos that have been named “favorites,” ratings that have been given and comments that have been left.  What’s really interesting is that I haven’t made any new screencasts in over three years!

 

Lynn’s iPhone has been giving her fits for the past several days.  Many times when you call her the phone just doesn’t ring.  Sometimes she can’t call out.  It is an old phone, an iPhone 6, which may need to be replaced.  I made an appointment for her this afternoon at Verizon in Staunton to see what her options are.  They told her that her phone would be replaced at no cost to us because we have a service agreement on it and all of our phones.

 

In the morning, she visited with her mother to help with lunch.  Mrs. Hanger’s health remains OK though she certainly has slipped during the past year.

 

Lynn reposted a message on Facebook I agree with today:

DEAR TRUMP SUPPORTERS,

Only three miles of the wall have been built. Mexico isn’t paying, Hillary is not in jail, Obamacare wasn’t repealed or replaced, North Korea and Iran are building nuclear weapons, there’s no China trade deal, the deficit has skyrocketed, race relations have worsened, tens of millions are unemployed, and our country is the epicenter of a national pandemic.

YOU GOT PLAYED BY A CON MAN.

 

She also reposted a story today about Francis Collins who is Dr. Fauci’s boss at the National Institute of Health.  Francis Collins is a Staunton native and graduated from Lee High School (now called Staunton High School) a few years before Lynn did.  The article gave his rather optimistic predictions for when and how we can get behind the coronavirus pandemic though it was filled with his admission that there’s so much we do not know about the virus.  He gave an explanation on how vaccines are developed and where we currently are in the process.  He seemed optimistic that by the end of the year we’d have mass production of at least one vaccine.  The article also made mention of his Christian faith and understanding that science and faith are not at odds with each other.  I really liked the article.  It was originally posted in The New York Intelligencer on July 1.

 

Lynn is happiest when she has some craft job in the works.  Today was one of those days.  She has been working on a wooden sign which will go over the double doors to our patio.  She has sanded and stained the wooden 1″ x 6″ x 6′ board.  She created stencils for all the letters and tonight is putting them on the board, “mi casa es su casa.”  Tomorrow she’ll paint the stencils.  She is so talented!

 

America had its second consecutive day of over 50,000 COVID-19 new infections today.  Most of them came from six states.  Fortunately, Virginia wasn’t one of them.  Here are the statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               11,181,548              528,376

US                       2,890,582              132,101

Virginia                  64,393                  1,845

Augusta County          190                         2

 

This evening, the temperature was over 85o so we opted to return to Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton for our second walk of the day.  As I’ve said before, the park is shady, not too hilly, and has a very smooth surface since the road was recently resurfaced.  Easy walking!  Our total for the day was 6.2 miles.  Yes, Lynn and I once again walked for nearly two hours today as we do almost every day.

 

July 4, 2020

This will be perhaps the least celebrated July 4 that Lynn and I have had thanks to COVID-19.  Usually we at least go to the parade in Gypsy Hill Park but, of course, this year there’s no parade.  In some years past our Bryan and Tommy Simmons have discharged an extremely impressive fireworks display but after a neighbor complained they’ve quit doing that.  We invited Ann’s family over for hamburgers but they are going to Josh’s sister’s house to swim instead.

 

We did our usual morning walk before it got in the 80’s today.  As on many of our walks, we had a chance to stop and chat with several people while we were hiking.  We talked with Elizabeth Tuttle who lives not far away on Cider Mill Road.  She is a painter from whom we just bought two originals which are now displayed in our downstairs bathroom.   She is also Toni Sheets’ mother and told us of the awful plight Toni is in now after having fallen and broken bones in BOTH elbows.  Toni is also battling colon cancer so she didn’t need any more maladies.

 

We also talked with James and Millie Davis who live on Limestone Road.  Like us, both are now retired.  Millie taught at Fort Defiance with Lynn.  They are avid walkers/runners.  Finally we chatted with Beth Metcalfe as she was driving her two twins to their church the day before their sixth birthday.

 

It’s surprising that there are many United Methodists in our neighborhood but they go to several different churches.  The Metcalfes go to Bethany UMC which is north on US 11.  Millie and James Davis and our immediate neighbors the Myers and Links go to Verona United Methodist.  Of course, many in the area attend Mt. Pisgah UMC which is in sight from our front door.  And we go to Central UMC in Staunton.

 

With nothing on the calendar today and no events to attend thanks to COVID-19, Lynn and I were both a little bored today.  Boredom isn’t something we’re used to.  Certainly during our working lives boredom was never felt.  And even in retirement we’ve stayed very busy walking, working around the house, visiting with family, and running errands.  For me, when I’m bored I feel guilty.  Shouldn’t I be doing something useful?  What chores need to be done?  I know I’ve spent a good bit of time writing on this blog since April 20.  What should I really be doing?  I play my usual games:  Sudoku, Whirly Word, and Solitaire.  After a while even those bore me.  Lynn at least had her craft project (kitchen sign) to work on.  She finished it today and it looks quite nice.  Plus she’s cooking a good bit today.  I’ve played the piano some (more guilt feelings) and done a little work on the Central UMC website.  But mostly I’ve done nothing.   Lynn likes to keep game shows on the television but I get to a point where I need a break from them, too.

 

The World Health Organization reported that today was the highest single-day coronavirus case total worldwide.  Here are the stats:

Infected                   Died

World               11,345,442              532,391

US                       2,931,745              132,299

Virginia                  65,109                  1,849

Augusta County          192                         2

 

Thirty years ago we would have been sitting in the baseball field next to Gypsy Hill Park on the night of July 4.  We would be surrounded, closely, by 65,000 fans of the Statler Brothers and their guests at the annual Happy Birthday USA Celebration in Staunton.  It was really something to behold.  We would set out folding chairs out at 3:00 AM on the 4th then come back for the 8:00 pm concert followed by, of course, fireworks.

 

What a difference this year!  Lynn and I decided to walk in Gypsy Hill Park tonight since the road is so shady and the temperature here was above 85o.   Even though the Happy Birthday USA celebrations ceased in 1994, Gypsy Hill has still been home to thousands of people who come to the parade then picnic there.  With COVID-19, no parade, and the threat of a storm, we were shocked to see fewer than 100 people in the entire park as we walked.  The park was literally the emptiest I have seen it anytime we have walked there.  And on July 4!

 

Actually it did start to rain a bit as we were halfway through our second of two laps around the park so we took a shortcut back to the car then came home.  Our tomatoes could have used some of the rain but it never made it here to Mount Sidney.  It stopped in Verona.  Oh well, at least we still had time to finish our walk so we did our one-mile-out-and-back route making our total for the day 7.6 miles.

 

Lynn and I joked that at least we were safe today.  I think we talked to a total of seven people all day and they were all at least six feet away.  We ate exceedingly well tonight with hamburgers on the grill.  She tried a new way of preparing the hamburgers by mixing in mushrooms to the ground beef before I grilled them.  They were delicious!

 

July 5, 2020

We cued up Hamilton on our Disney+ subscription last night and started it when we went to bed at 9:00.  Unfortunately, we both fell asleep during the show.  I’m sure we’ll re-watch it several times this month now that it is available.

 

If there’s any word that describes America now it is divisive.  We have Republicans feuding with Democrats, liberals vs. conservatives, white power groups and those who insist that black lives matter, police supporters and those who want to defund and disempower police, mask enthusiasts disagreeing with those who refuse to wear them, those who want to tear down Civil War statutes fighting with those who want to keep them standing, people who insist that America should re-open from its quarantine against those who think that re-opening is fueling more COVID-19 infections, those who believe that science has the answers we seek compared to evangelicals who decry science, Trumpsters who want to build the wall to keep out Hispanics on the opposite side of those who wish to embrace and. assist them, advocates for healthcare for everyone and its opponents, and Second Amendment advocates versus those who insist on gun control.  Facebook is full of lethal posts on both sides of every issue.  We need unity but I do not see it on any horizon.  There doesn’t seem to be middle ground on any of those issues.

 

It was 9:30 before we got away on our morning walk.  We did a 2.8 mile hike in the heat.  Of course, it is getting much hotter later so I guess it was good that we got this in when we did.  Lynn has been having some trouble with shin splints lately so we may pull back a little from our daily walking.

 

It was Lynn’s turn to help her mother at lunchtime so we left for The Legacy shortly after our walk.  From there we went to Michael’s in Waynesboro for her to buy some craft materials for our Avon Hill vacation.

 

Florida is really having a COVID-19 outbreak.  They have over 10,000 new cases every day, 20% of the new cases in the US.  Of course, this is where the Republican governor went light on restrictions at first though he is back pedaling now by necessity.  Their percent of those testing positive is also quite high–nearly 20%.  Arizona and Texas are also still undergoing an unabated surge in cases.

 

Trump made remarks yesterday at a July 4 event in Washington and claimed that “a therapeutic and/or vaccine will be around long before the end of the year.”  Today a member of his own coronavirus task force, Dr. Stephan Hahn, refused to offer such a timeline for its final development.  Yes, there is furious work going on regarding vaccine development but I do strongly predict is that Trump will have something released prior to the November 3 election that he will claim will kill the virus.  But he also claimed earlier that hydroxychloroquine did that which was proven false.  You just can’t trust that guy.

 

This afternoon I felt ambitious and did something that I have been planning to do for months–took the wallpaper off the small green bathroom off our laundry room.  I use that bathroom all the time.  Nearly every time I did I saw the places where the wallpaper had worn off or was torn.  No longer!  Tomorrow I plan to paint the room using some paint we originally bought for the kitchen before changing our mind.  It took me a couple of hours to get the walls bare.  I’m glad that job is behind me.

 

We invited Ann and her family over for ice cream tonight thinking that we could eat outside.  But around 4:45 a severe thunderstorm blew through here.  We had hail, lightning, and lots of rain.  The storm had left before 7:00 when the Gutshalls came over but the threat of rain was still there.  But I dried off the patio furniture and we enjoyed our treat outside after all.  It was so good to see the Gutshalls.  Of course, before the pandemic we ate dinner with them every Sunday night.

 

Here are the numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               11,586,780              537,372

US                       2,983,155              132,571

Virginia                  65,748                  1,853

Augusta County          193                         2

 

July 6, 2020

Today was painting day for me.  The bathroom is small so I was able to get it all done in one day.  I cleaned up the wallpaper scraping from yesterday, taped where it needed, painted, came back in a couple of hours and touched up, then cleaned up.  The color isn’t great but I’m OK with it.  At least the bathroom is very clean now.

 

We walked our usual 2.8 mile neighborhood walk in the morning.  We were a little late getting out the door since I was prepping for painting and Lynn was doing laundry.  But we got it done before it got too hot.

 

We took a break in the afternoon to run to Mt. Crawford to pick up some tomatoes.  Lynn discovered that the vegetable stand there had one of her favorites–sour cherries–so she got some and will make jelly with them.  We also got a cucumber and a few Golden Delicious apples.

 

Lynn helped her Mom with lunch today.  Then, this afternoon, Ann took her family to visit her.  Only 24 days until she turns 101!

 

In addition to all the news about coronavirus, a lead story today is that there were six children killed in the past 72 hours by gun violence.  These incidents happened in various US cities but all had the common denominator of gunshots.  I’ve written many times that I do not own a gun, want a gun, or think anyone except for law enforcement needs to have a handgun.  I can see the need of owning a .22 rifle or something similar for killing rabid animals.  But I’ll let my neighbors be the ones who own that.  No guns for me!

 

Trump recently claimed that 99% of COVID-19 cases were “totally harmless.”  Tell that to the families of the 130,000+ Americans who have already died due to the virus not to mention the thousands and thousands who have been hospitalized.  Even if they recovered, you could not say the virus is harmless.  He says that the reason we have so many cases is that we test so many people.  Can you believe this idiot?

 

Trump also claimed that the US was a world leader on COVID-19.  What a lie!  The fact is, the European Union continues to ban all Americans from coming to Europe due to the fact that our cases are rising out of control.  Thank goodness Lynn and I had our Italy trip last October.  We wouldn’t be allowed to visit Italy now.

 

Lynn’s replacement iPhone arrived today.  I spent a good deal of time getting it set up just like her old one which had died.  It now has 3,400 songs on it and connects to her Toyota when she gets in.  All of her contacts and apps were restored.  And thanks to the fact that our neighbors got a UPS delivery this evening, her old one is on its way back to Apple as required.

 

Lynn has come up with another craft idea for the kids at Avon Hill.  Today she tested it out and it worked fine.  I can’t elaborate yet on any of her ideas for fear that the cat will get out of the bag!  Those grandchildren are so lucky to have a talented and interested grandmommy.

 

This was another typical July day with an afternoon thunderstorm with rain.  But the skies cleared for a late walk for us though it was only two miles.  Lynn’ fitbit said we had gone 6 miles today.  But she had done some walking that I hadn’t since I stayed and painted while she ran errands and helped with Ann’s family visiting her mother.  The health app on my phone said I’d only done 4.7 miles today.  Nonetheless, it was a good and productive day for me.

 

Here are the figures for today’s coronavirus:

Infected                   Died

World               11,717,549              539,836

US                       3,029,704              132,852

Virginia                  66,102                  1,853

Augusta County          194                         2

 

July 7, 2020

Lynn finally has a good working phone so she has been on the phone much of the morning making calls to families of upcoming kindergarteners in Rockingham County Schools to see if their child needs ELL services.  Unfortunately, many of the calls went to voicemail.  She was able to talk to some parents and children.

 

We were able to get in a two mile walk after breakfast.  Much of the time during the walk was spent on the phone with my sister who called us.  Of course, she was concerned about Butch and Ann but also shared various DeLeo family news with us.

 

Today I created a video for Central containing both a stewardship message (since I am Chairman of the Finance Committee) and the congregational prayer for July 12.  I tested it here at home then went to Central and recorded it in the sanctuary.

 

From CNN news today:  The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as effective against the novel coronavirus when used on hard, non-porous surfaces.  Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist meet the EPA’s criteria for use against the SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the ongoing pandemic, based on laboratory testing that found both products kill the virus two minutes after contact, the agency announced in a statement Monday.

 

Now I’m very glad that on our last Costco trip we bought a four-pack of the disinfectant spray!

 

CNN also reported that Donald Trump’s niece Mary Trump’s scathing tell-all book will be released on July 14.  In it, among other things, Mary claimed that Donald paid for someone else to take his SAT test for him.  She also describes how Trump’s family, especially his father, created the monster who now is our president.

 

Here are the daily statistics:

Infected                   Died

World             11,940,5245              545,605

US                       3,096,503              133,954

Virginia                  66,740                  1,881

Augusta County          200                         2

 

We got in our second walk of the day at Gypsy Hill Park.  Since our morning walk was shortened, we only did 5.1 miles today.  That’s still plenty for me.

 

July 8, 2020

The news this morning is more of the same–over 50,000 new cases of coronavirus per day in the US.  Texas alone had over 10,000 new cases.  People spent 13 hours in line for testing in Arizona.  The daily death rate increased in a dozen states including Virginia.  Yet Trump said that schools in the US should re-open in the fall and threatened to pull federal aid from those that don’t.

 

I am puzzled as to why so many people are calling for schools to be open and bars to be closed.  Both involve people sitting in close proximity to each other with the obvious threat of virus spread.  Yet one is OK while the other should be banned?

 

I saw a Facebook posts today that really hit home.  First, there was this Trump tweet:

“In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and many other countries SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS.  The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if US schools open before the November Election, but it is important for the children & families.  May cut off funding if not open.”  Immediately after this was the post, “New cases, yesterday:  Germany: 298, Denmark: 10, Norway: 11, Sweden: 57, USA: 55,442

 

Another Facebook post was a re-tweet someone wrote:  “am I understanding this correctly?  covid-19 is so deadly that Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen had to be released from prison early, but it’s also so benign that we needed to be packing the nation’s children back into their schools pronto?  ok, cool, that checks out”

 

Another hot July day here! We walked after breakfast so we got 3 miles in before it got unbearable but the temperature rose to the 90’s in the afternoon.  I wanted to cut grass but Lynn convinced me to wait until tomorrow.  I did make a trash dump run and did a few minor jobs around the house.

 

In my spare time today I worked on my pictures.  I have a special folder with my favorite pictures from 2019-20 in it that my computer randomly pulls pictures from and displays when it goes into sleep mode.  Right now there are 1,515 pictures in that folder (with six more months to go this year).  That’s just my favorites!  I probably have 10,000 pictures in all from that era.  On my website I have over 50,000!  My work today was reviewing several recent albums I had taken and selected favorites to add to that special folder.  I could spend hours just glaring at those pictures.

 

We opted to get a carryout meal from The Depot tonight.  They have a family chicken tenders meal.  It comes with two sides but we asked that both be baked potatoes.  They gave us eight full baked potatoes!  We love their baked potatoes so that was quite a treat as were the chicken tenders.

 

After dinner we took a short but hot walk at Stewart Middle School.  It was 87o when we started.  Our total for the day was only five miles.

 

This evening we had the weekly Hill Family Zoom.  As always, it was a combination of conversation, mayhem, and fun.  No surprise, I loved it!

 

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               12,155,402              551,183

US                       3,158,731              134,853

Virginia                  67,375                  1,905

Augusta County          201                         2

 

July 9, 2020

Another hot, dry day but at least the forecast is for temperatures to top out in the high 80’s instead of 90’s.  I had to get up early as I had an eye doctor appointment at 8:00 AM in Fishersville.  The appointment went as expected.  The office was very safe.  When I drove into the lot an intake person immediately came to the car, asked me the usual COVID-19 questions, took my temperature, and told me they’d call me when they were ready for me.  At that call, I went straight in to the office and had my evaluation with Dr. Patel.  She was very succinct with the appointment; in the past she has been more personable.  All of this is quite understandable.  The good news is that my eyes basically showed no change.  I have had cataracts in both eyes for a while; neither is an issue.  The official diagnosis is that I have bilateral, age-related, nuclear cataracts.  I also learned a new word:  drusen.  I have drusen of macula in my right eye.  Drusen are wear and tear changes to the retina that are not consistent with macular degeneration but may represent early evidence of the disease.  My brother and sister both have been diagnosed with beginning states of macular degeneration though it is not critical with either of them yet, thankfully.

 

When I got back we took our neighborhood walk as it was already starting to get hot.  We got in 2.8 miles.  As usual, we talked to random people again on our walk.  Today it was a former employee of mine, Doris Gardner, who stopped her car to chat for a moment.  It turns out that her daughter, Brooke Wine, lives very near us on Limestone Road and is a first grade teacher at Clymore Elementary School.  Doris was a great employee; it was great to see her again.

 

After lunch I got all of my grass cut.  I was glad to get this behind me before our Avon Hill vacation.  It has been so hot and dry that it hasn’t grown much lately and hopefully won’t grow much for the next couple of weeks.

 

Lynn and I made a quick trip to our favorite produce market, Overlook Market in Bridgewater, where she picked up some tomatoes and more sour cherries.  She really loves her sour cherry jelly.

 

This afternoon brave Lynn went to Walmart and Kroger to get a few things.  She is always very careful there, avoiding people and keeping her mask on.

 

In COVID-19 news, cases are rising in 36 states.  Georgia, Arizona, South Carolina, Florida, and Texas remain hot spots with ICU facilities at near 100%.  Florida has 56 hospitals with no empty ICU beds.  Many of the states with cases out of control were those who re-opened early and before they met the CDC’s guidelines for opening.  Cars line up for testing for over 24 hours in some cases.

 

Here are the numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               12,350,460              555,894

US                       3,211,610              135,646

Virginia                  67,988                  1,937

Augusta County          200                         2

 

Last night, when we started our last walk it was 87o.  Tonight it was cooler, 84o.  But we chose to go to Gypsy Hill Park where it was 90% shade.  It was a very nice walk.  We ended up the day with six miles walked.  Not bad for two old people in the heat, huh?

 

July 10, 2020

On Good Morning America, the news is that hundreds of cases of COVID-19 are linked to sports and church events.  So how does anyone think schools will be safe for children?

 

My dad was born in 1912 so he grew up when times were very different.  He had a younger brother Harold.  Dad started in school and did very well but after a couple of years of elementary school his mother kept him out for an entire year to give Harold time to grow so he could go to school with my Dad.  I’m not saying that this is an ideal situation, but the point is that he survived and thrived.  Though undesirable, I believe that today’s kids could sit out a year and still come back and do well.

 

Another story comes to mind.  I once took a course in how to teach AP Computer Science.  There were about ten of us in this James Madison University course.  We learned all about a computer language, Pascal, and how to teach it.  But on the last night of class, our professor surprised us when he said that he wouldn’t let his own son take the course!  He objected to all AP courses, asking us why we were trying to cram more into the life of a high school student when life expectancy was longer than ever?  He said that it was the only time in a kid’s life that they could be in a band, drama, and/or chorus.  He said to let them take college courses when they go to college and not before.  So what’s the rush to re-open schools?

 

The other news about coronavirus is same old, same old.  In the hotbed states there’s a shortage of tests, shortage of medical workers, shortage of personal protection equipment.  This was New York six weeks ago.  The difference is that New York got firm with their shelter in place orders whereas states like Arizona have only conceded to a reduction to 50% occupancy in restaurants.  It needs to be 0%.

 

ABC news reported that Trump’s disapproval rate is 67% for how he’s handled the COVID-19 crisis and the same for how he’s handled racial disputes.  These are the two biggest issues of his presidency and he’s failing miserably.  Yet his base is still believing he is God’s gift to the Presidency.  How can anyone think that a rotten onion smells good?

 

I’ve been thinking today about how I’ve spent the nearly four months of this quarantine.  Seven verbs come to mind:  walk, work, eat, sleep, write, watch, and play.

  • I’ll soon calculate how much we’ve walked but at an average of 7 miles per day (it is likely higher), for 120 days, that’s 840 miles. We almost always spend at least two hours every day walking.
  • I’ve done many, many jobs around the house that I normally would not have done such as cleaning out cabinets, mulching, building the Pergola, removing the wall paper and painting the green bathroom, pressure washing lots of surfaces around the house, and my normal trimming and mowing. There are always jobs to be done but, to be honest, my list is rather short now.
  • We’ve eaten superbly thanks to Lynn. Her sourdough bread is great and we eat it every day.  She has done a wonderful job fixing caramel, cakes, chicken, loaded hamburgers, guacamole dip, wine slushies, strawberry preserves, sour cherry jelly, fried potatoes, and more.  Thanks to all the walking and working I’ve done, I’ve not gained weight.  In fact, I actually weigh a little less now than I did back in February.  I’m clearly not eating less.  I confess that I’ve also eaten way too much junk food such as cookies and ice cream cake. It is so hard to not eat when you’re at home all the time and good food is only a few feet away at all times.  Lately I’ve been snacking on delicious cherries and peaches Lynn bought at Aldi.
  • I sleep over eight hours every night. This is so new to me.  When I was working, seven hours of sleep would have been a blessing.  Now we go to bed around 9:00 PM and get up after 6:00 AM.  Sometimes it is light outside when we go to bed and awake!
  • As of today I’ve written nearly 130 pages, single spaced, on this blog. I always write it first on Word then copy and paste it to my online blog.  Since April 20 I haven’t missed a single day writing.  It usually takes me at least 30 minutes to write a day’s record.  As I’ve written before, it is very therapeutic for me to write.
  • No surprise, I’ve watched a good bit of television during the past four months. I’ve mainly watched the news, seeing it in the morning, frequently around lunchtime, and at dinner time.  We like the ABC version of news.  Lynn keeps the television on game shows so it is impossible to not see some of them.  Some of the game shows have been inspiration for the games I’ve created for our family vacation next week at Avon Hill.
  • When I’m not doing any of the previous five activities, frequently I am playing one of three games on my iPad: Sudoku, Whirly Word, or Solitaire.  On April 20 I wrote that I had played 17,820 consecutive games of Whirly Word and 8,311 games of Solitaire.  Today the Whirly Word total is 18,750.  So I’ve played 930 more games since I started writing this blog, not including the ones I’ve done on my iPhone.  To advance from one Whirly Word game to the next, you must get one of the six letter words or at least most of the total number of words that can be made with the six letters that are provided.  I always try to get ALL of the words and 95% of the time I’m successful.  I’ve now played 8,832 games of Solitaire which means I’ve done 521 of them since April 20.  With Sudoku, I always do two puzzles at breakfast–one “mild” and the other “moderate.”  When you complete a Sudoku with the app I play, you are given a percentile of how long it took you to complete it compared with the other thousands who have finished it that day.  When I beat the 50th percentile I am happy.  Today, for example, was a good day because I completed the mild puzzle in the 49th percentile but the moderate one in the 86th percentile.  Some days I’m much, much worse.

 

The news tonight that more records are being set with COVID-19 cases.  Even Virginia was listed as one of the states with an increase in deaths.  There is word of a camp in Missouri that had to be shut down because more than 80 campers came down with the virus.  What does this say about the opening of schools?  Yet Trump and many others are insisting that school not only open this fall, but open with five days of school each week.  I just don’t see it now.

 

NBC News had this to say about Virginia’s school reopening plans:

After an uptick in COVID-19 cases around the state, Gov. Ralph Northam said students won’t move forward with returning back to school in person if Virginia isn’t able to stay in Phase Three.  Northam said that so far, Virginia has been able to avoid the same type of spike in COVID-19 cases that other states are experiencing, but there a concerning increase is starting to be seen, particularly in the Hampton Roads areas.  According to NBC affiliate WAVY, the daily cases in that region have more than tripled in the last two weeks, with more than 220 new cases every day. The percent positivity rate of tests in Norfolk also at more than 16 percent, compared to the 6 percent statewide.

 

We had a short thunderstorm tonight at dinner time but still found a break in which to walk a little afterwards.  I carried an umbrella which we were forced to use during the walk but it really didn’t rain much.  We didn’t get much walking in today.  My health app said I did 4.6 miles.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               12,602,895              561,778

US                       3,285,592              136,570

Virginia                  68,931                  1,958

Augusta County          204                         2

 

This data shows that the US had more than 70,000 infections since the previous day.  That is unreal.  The only good news here is that Augusta County’s death total is still 2, the same it has been since June 2.  I’d be very happy if that number never changed.

 

July 11, 2020

I didn’t have much time to write today.  Today was Saturday, another hot July day.  After breakfast we walked a 3.1 mile hike before it got too hot.  When we got back, Lynn worked on some crafts she has for the kids at Avon Hill next week while I carried all the tools I thought Jim and I would need down to the playground.  He had called me and said he was doing some work at his church this morning then driving here to work on the playground set.

 

The issue with the playground set is basically that it is getting old.  Lynn and I figured out that we installed it at least 11 years ago.  The structure has eight 4″ x 4″ posts that support it.  The bottom of each, which sit in dirt, had deteriorated.  When Jim was here working on Lynn’s Pergola he had a good idea–to buy eight concrete deck blocks.  When he came today we jacked the entire playset off the ground using my digging bar as a lever, cut off the bottom 5″-6″ of each post, inserted the concrete deck blocks below, the lowered the playset back on top of the concrete blocks.  That one sentence took us about three hours but we got it done.  This way the bottoms of the posts no longer rest in the dirt.  Then we went to Lowe’s and bought two 12′ long deck boards.  We cut them into two 8′ lengths and two 4′ lengths and then installed them just above the deck blocks around the perimeter of the playset giving it more rigidity.  I do think the playset is good for another half dozen years which is all it has to make since our youngest grandson, Coen, is three now.

 

Jim is such good help.  He has a good mind to solve problems, great skills with tools, and is very concise with all of his measurements.  He doesn’t rush through a job like his father sometimes does.  He is strong as an ox and has a great set of tools.  I am so proud of him.

 

The only reward he got today was a good lunch and an even better supper.  Lynn and I had thawed two t-bone steaks.  We split one and he ate the other.  Plus, Josh brought us a big mess of green beans from his parents which Lynn cooked.  She also fixed some guacamole dip.  It was a great meal.

 

For dessert, we had some brownies she made this afternoon.  But they weren’t all for us.  Lynn has such a good heart–one morning this past week we bumped into Jeff Michael who lives almost a half mile away near Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church.  His dad, John, lives even closer but has had many medical issues lately including some strokes.  He told us that his dad still was able to eat most anything and loved sweets.  So tonight John Michael had brownies to eat thanks to my good hearted spouse.  What a gal!

 

The CNN news is lamenting how the COVID-19 pandemic is basically out of control in Arizona.  Their hospitals are full.  They don’t have enough health care workers or protective equipment.  Their governor opened up the state way too early in order to appease Donald Trump.  On CNN tonight, I heard a Phoenix Congressman blast the governor and Trump for their lack of leadership.  He told how Arizona has such a poor support mechanism for the poor that they must go back to work in this pandemic which just causes more infections.

 

Brazil reported more than 40,000 new cases and 1,000 deaths just today alone.  They have over 1.8 million cases in all.  Their president, who has said that COVID-19 is as harmless as the flu, now has it himself.  He has ignored social distancing and wouldn’t wear a mask.

 

Donald Trump was seen today wearing a mask!  It took him four months to get the message.  What a leader!

 

Here are the figures:

Infected                   Died

World               12,839,566              567,574

US                       3,355,646              137,403

Virginia                  69,782                  1,962

Augusta County          205                         2

We closed the day with a final walk before sunset in the neighborhood.  The health app on my iPhone said I had walked 7.6 miles today.  Whew!

 

July 12, 2020

Today is packing up day for our Avon Hill trip.  Though we’re looking forward to this four day, three night, outing, it isn’t the summer vacation we had planned.  We wanted to return to Eden Resort in Lancaster along with Mary K and Kit’s family for our annual “Cousincation” but we all decided that would be too risky especially given the community pools there.  So our family opted for Avon Hill since it is much closer, only 75 minutes away, and has a private pool that will be ours for the duration of our stay.  Unfortunately Jim and his family won’t be joining us.  So there will be twelve of us there.

 

Since we had done Eden Resort for so many consecutive years, we knew how to pack for it.  This is a little different since now we’re renting a (huge) house and having to provide some things that Eden provided.  Plus, there’s no restaurant or grocery store close by though Scottsville VA is only twenty minutes or so away.  I’ve got elaborate lists prepared including what food and non-food items to bring.  Our plans for dinner are to have pot luck on Monday, the first night, then grill on Tuesday and bring in from Scottsville or Charlottesville on Wednesday.

 

Lynn has been baking all day.  She’s making sourdough bread, pepperoni rolls, hamburger rolls, and a coca-cola cake all from scratch.  Though each family is supposed to bring their own food especially for breakfasts and lunches, I think we’re taking enough for a small army.  We’ve got a huge container of cherries which everyone loves.  Tomorrow morning before we leave she’s going to make a rotini salad.  And we’re going to buy tomatoes, peaches, and corn from Overlook Market in Bridgewater.  Good eating, for sure!  She’s also done a couple loads of laundry.

 

One of the things I like best about Lynn is how hard working she is.  She rarely sits down and does nothing or just watch television.  She’s always doing some kind of work or activity.  Since today is Sunday, I found this quote from Proverbs 31 which describes her very well:

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

We did stick to our routine and got a morning walk in.  We did the usual 2.8 neighborhood walk.  The weather was fine, especially at the beginning, though it got hot by the time we were on the last half mile.

 

I found time today to listen to Central’s Sunday morning worship service via YouTube.  Actually I had a part in that service as I was asked to do a stewardship message and the congregational prayer.  Deborah Reed played the piano wonderfully on it.  She and Yi-Ping Chen are such gifted musicians.  I’m going to play some hymns for the August 2 service.  I’m sure my piano playing will make our members appreciate Deborah and Yi-Ping even more.

 

We’ve kept the television on CNN News most of the day.  It can be so depressing or enraging.  Many governors and mayors, like our federal administration, act like COVID-19 is nothing but a nuisance.  Betsy DeVos insists that kids need to be back in school full time and blasted Fairfax County in VA for offering kids an alternative to do online instead of in person education and the in person education will initially be only two days per week.  Yet the Fairfax County superintendent of schools pointed out that if the social distancing requirement is to be met, his buildings would need to be five times larger than they are in order to accommodate everyone at the same time.  Plus, he’d probably need five times the faculty.  A newspaper article in today’s Staunton newspaper pointed out that substitute teachers will likely be harder than ever to find this year.

 

Three of Ann and Josh’s kids, Henry, Gus, and Betsy, will be in middle or high school this year so if/when they go back to school they’ll just ride the bus home afterwards.  But there’s no bus that could take Freddie there from Clymore Elementary School so he’ll have to come here on days he attends.  Ann has said that she or Josh would try to meet the bus here every time so he wouldn’t have to come into our house after being in what could be an infectious environment at school.  We’ll just have to see how this plays out.

 

From ABC news today:  The Florida Department of Health reported 15,300 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, making it the highest one-day total for a state in the U.S. since the pandemic began. It is nearly 4,000 more new cases than the previous record, set by California on Wednesday with 11,694.

 

And where is the Republican National Convention going to be held?  In Jacksonville FL on August 24-27.  Good luck, attendees!

 

And here’s a sad story from Houston:  “I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.”  Those were the final words of a 30-year-old patient who died at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio this week after attending a so-called “COVID party,” according to the hospital.  Dr. Jane Appleby, chief medical officer for Methodist Hospital and Methodist Children’s Hospital, said in a recorded statement that the unidentified patient told nurses about the party, which she said is hosted by someone diagnosed with coronavirus.  “The thought is people get together to see if the virus is real and if anyone gets infected,” Appleby said.

 

We got in our second walk of the day before supper for a change.  We weren’t that hungry because we had a huge snack mid-afternoon when each of us had a piece of our Smiley’s Ice Cream cake.  It rained late afternoon so when it cleared the temperature was nice so we walked our neighborhood walk again.  Our total for the day was 6.3 miles.  This hike had a repeat occurrence from one of our previous walks this month–a cow was seen in an unfenced lot near where the rest of the herd is fenced in.  Lynn again texted the owners to let them know.

 

After another good dinner, we packed Lynn’s car as much as we could.  A lot of what we’re taking is food and that will have to wait until tomorrow.  We have a busy morning planned before leaving for Avon Hill around noon.  Check in time is 2:00.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               13,022,407              571,000

US                       3,411,808              137,773

Virginia                  70,670                  1,966

Augusta County          208                         2

 

July 13, 2020

New coronavirus cases are on the rise in 37 states but not Virginia.  Even New York had zero deaths yesterday for the first time since the pandemic started. Meantime, Florida set a record for the number of cases in one state yet their Republican Governor claimed it was all due to increased testing.  The testing is still an issue as results take up to two weeks to come back in some cases.

 

Here’s a Betsy DeVos quote from yesterday:  “There is nothing in the data that suggests that kids being back in school is dangerous to them.”  How ridiculous!  A camp in Georgia had to close because 85 of its campers and counselors came down with the virus.  School aged children in many states have died due to complications of COVID-19.  How would schools be exempt from infections?

 

After breakfast we headed for the Green Valley Book Fair.  It was opened only by reservation and Lynn made reservations for both of us at its opening, 8:00 AM.   There were about 50 people who registered for that time, apparently, though we felt safe since you had to have a mask on to be admitted and the venue was a pavilion surrounded by the outside.  The stuff there was a little junky–there were no books.  Nonetheless we spent some money on some items we can give away for kids’ prizes at Avon Hill.

 

From the Book Fair, we drove to Overlook Produce to get tomatoes, peaches, and corn.  It was a successful trip as well.  So we came on home where Lynn fixed the rotini salad and finished packing her stuff while I did a trash run including stopping at Ann and Josh’s.

 

I had hoped to leave home at noon but Kay and family are coming to visit Mrs. Hanger and she won’t be here until after that then we’ll be making the stop at The Legacy.

 

We have one packed Toyota Rav4 for our Avon Hill vacation!

 

We got a later start than planned because Kay wanted to visit with her grandmother.  Everything worked out fine.  By 4:30 everyone was at Avon Hill enjoying its comforts.

 

It was a great day.  The kids swam then we ate a huge and delicious dinner.  After dinner some went swimming again and others relaxed.   In the meantime, I figured out how to hook my computer to the large screen television just in time to play our family version of  “America Says.”  It was great fun.

 

After a late night dessert that Ann had prepared, everyone was very tired.  A great start to our family vacation.  We do miss Jim’s family; perhaps next year….

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               13,235,760              575,525

US                       3,479,483              138,247

Virginia                  71,642                  1,968

Augusta County          213                         2

 

Good night from Avon Hill!

 

July 14, 2020

This is our first full day at Avon Hill.  It started early after a late night.  I was up at 6:15 but was not the first up.  Betsy got up and took pictures of sunrise before I came down.  Once everyone was up, we ate breakfast then prepared to go tubing on the James River with an outfit called James River Runners.

 

I have a few confessions.  First, I did not come up with the idea of tubing.  Kay had suggested it and I had reservations about us doing it.  My reservations were primarily because I worried about the kids riding an innertube in a huge river which I assumed was a fast and deep river since it is one of Virginia’s main rivers.  I was completely wrong.  The river was 4′ deep at its deepest point.  It was very slow moving; the kids from time to time said they weren’t going anywhere.  And everyone had a good time except that the smallest got a little bored with it.  It was very relaxing and cool–a great thing to do on a hot day.  It was safe and a good family activity.

 

The way it worked is that we left our car keys with them and put everything of value in our cars.  They transported us via school bus three miles upstream then we drifted back to the home location where our cars were.  It all worked well.

 

My other confession is that I have a tendency to get very anxious and hard to be around any time there is a scheduled event and my group is running behind schedule.  We made a reservation with James River Runners last night; we were to be there at 9:30 and leave on their bus at 10:00.  I reminded our group all throughout breakfast that we needed to leave at 9:00 so we’d be there by 9:30.  The closer it got to 9:00 the more hard to live with I got and poor Lynn had to bear the brunt of my anxiety.  Fortunately, this is the only event of our entire vacation that had a definite starting time so I should be less anxious the rest of the time we’re here.

 

When we got back we had lunch then chilled at the Lodge until Lynn had the kids do a craft mid-afternoon.  She had purchased boards from Michael’s that had a rope on the end of them for hanging up.  Then she created stencils on her Criquet machine with each chld’s name.  The affixed the stencil to each board and brought paint for the kids to paint their name on their sign.  I thought it was a very good idea.  To make sure everything worked OK, she did two trial runs with our two grandchildren Faron and Coen who couldn’t come with us this vacation.  She cut the stencils for Faron and Coen then painted them on the boards.  She gave them to Jim when he came home to help me with the playground equipment last Friday.

 

I am so pleased that I discovered how easy it was to attach a HDMI cable to my laptop and to the huge television in the “Blue Room” in the lodge.  For much of the time, I set my screensaver to display random pictures from my picture album called 2019-2020 Favorites.  Since most of my favorites were pictures of my grandchildren, their pictures were displayed for everyone to see throughout our stay at Avon Hill.

 

The kids seemed to enjoy painting their names on the boards.  When they were finished, we decided to take a hike down to the Rockfish River to scope out fishing possibilities.  It turned out to be a long but pretty walk.  We took a wrong turn at one point and had to ramble through a thicket of weeds and briars.  Once we got back on the right trail it was very nice.  We discovered why this place is called Avon HILL, though.  It was quite a climb back up to the lodge from the river.

 

The kids were anxious to get back in the pool and can’t be blamed. It was hot and they rarely get to swim this summer thanks to COVID-19.  I haven’t been in a pool this entire summer so I decided to join them.  Boy, did it feel good!

 

After that refreshing dip in the pool, we returned to the lodge and fixed supper.  Tonight was grill night.  I grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  We had lots of other food including green beans, two pasta salads, tomato pie, and broccoli.

 

The past two days have been an oasis, an island.  It is as if there is no pandemic going on.  We haven’t watched the news nor talked much about it though the topic of school in the fall has come up often. We haven’t kept our social distance nor worn masks here at Avon Hill, of course.  We’ve just been family and it has been great.  I am SO glad we did this.

 

Today’s COVID-19 stats:

Infected                   Died

World               13,486,823              581,965

US                       3,546,278              139,162

Virginia                  72,443                  1,977

Augusta County          213                         2

 

The night activity was more family games.  Near sunset, the kids and I played can jam then they played hide-and-go-seek.  After dark, we did a game where one person tried to get his teammates to say a word with clues he gave.  Then we played a rousing game of reverse charades where all of the team acted out a word and one person on the team had to guess it.  Kay had brought this game along with her.  It was a great success.  We played boys versus girls.  I went to bed a worn out but extremely happy old man.

 

July 15, 2020

I was up at dawn after a good night’s sleep.  It gave me a chance to catch up on this blog and read a little about what’s going on in the world.  I had a full hour of quiet time by myself.

 

The weather on this vacation has been superb.  Yes, it has been hot, but we’ve been able to stay cool thanks to tubing on the James River, swimming in the pool at Avon Hill, and air conditioning at the lodge.  The highs have been in the high 80’s with mostly clear skies.  We are so lucky!

 

After breakfast, the first activity of the day was group pictures in our “Coronacation 2020” shirts Lynn had made for everyone.  It has certainly been a “coronacation” in which we’ve enjoyed each other’s company without worrying about or mixing with the outside world.  The pictures came out fine, I thought.

 

Today was fishing day.  We had brought along enough fishing gear for all the kids to fish and on our hike yesterday found some good places to fish on the Rockfish River.  There hasn’t been much rain late so the river isn’t very high.

 

None of us is an experience fisherman.  Ann and Josh had purchased some spinning reels for their kids but they didn’t come supplied with fishing line.  Henry and I tried to figure out how to install the line on the reel but ran out of time before dinner to get the job done.  Fortunately, Ann figured it out thanks to YouTube so we were ready when the morning came.

 

Fishing was OK but not the best of activities for us.  Poor Gus not only fell in the river but then got stung by a bee.  The only ones to catch a small fish were Andy, Thomas, and Georgia.  There were lots of tangled lines and lines caught in trees.  But it was shady and fun to watch the kids.  Henry and I stuck it out until 2:00 pm without catching anything.  We saw some really large fish which we later tentatively identified as gar.  But they weren’t biting today.

 

Lynn did a craft with the kids today making pens using clay.  We tried to do glow-in-the-dark bubbles tonight but that didn’t work as planned.

 

After fishing and lunch the kids watched a video while the grownups sat around and talked.  Then we all went swimming, which felt really good on a 90o day.  During that time we ordered pizza from a restaurant in Scottsville which Ann and Lynn picked up while the rest of us swam and played corn hole.  The pizza was quite good and we had plenty left over.

 

After dinner the kids did their scavenger hunt which I had made up for them.  Then we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores.  We ended the evening playing three more rounds of our family version of “America Says.”  There were lots of laughs and love in the room!  I am so, so thankful that we were able to get together as a family and just wish again that Jim and his family could have joined us.

 

Like the previous days here, I didn’t watch one minute of news so I don’t know what’s going on in the world.  I did look up the numbers for today and here they are:

Infected                   Died

World               13,691,627              586,821

US                       3,616,747              140,140

Virginia                  73,527                  1,992

Augusta County          218                         2

 

After we finished our last game tonight we took turns saying what we liked best about this vacation.  Here are some of the responses:  the pool, the sunsets on the porch, having the pictures displayed on the big screen television, the food, tubing, nature, the house, having the ground to ourselves, the closeness of Avon Hill to home, the property, and the activities like the games and crafts.  We are such lucky people to be able to share our lives with each other.  I feel especially blessed and thankful.

 

July 16, 2020

Lynn is currently driving home from Avon Hill and I’m in the passenger seat writing.  We’re both still on a high from having spent four days and three nights in an oasis-like setting surrounded by most of our family.  We’re also understandably down that it’s over now.

 

Of course, it took lots of time to pack and clean up before our 12:00 checkout time but we made it.  There was still time for Andy and Thomas to fish and the rest of the kids to go with me to the pool for one last swim.  The pool was really nice, especially for kids the ages of our grandchildren who swim well and like to do so.

 

I took nearly 400 photos at Avon Hill.  I’ll upload them to Flickr when we get home.  I may even go to Central UMC to do the job since Central’s connection is so fast and I have some work to do there.  I especially like the family pictures with everyone dressed in the “Coronocation” shirts Lynn made.

 

There were just a few things we didn’t like about Avon Hill.  The WIFI there was slow though it worked for most of what we wanted to do.  Streaming the movie for the kids wasn’t pretty, though.  A minor item is that there was no garbage disposal.  We would have liked to have had a basketball goal and a level field for kickball.  None of these items ruined our stay.  I think every one of us would enjoy coming back in the future.  Kay told me she liked it much better than Eden Resort.  The Lodge was so large that kids had plenty of places to themselves and so did the adults.

 

On our way home we experienced something we didn’t experience at all at Avon Hill–rain.  We’ve been so fortunate on our trips and vacations the last several years.

 

We were home at 1:15.  It took a little over an hour to get everything unloaded and put back in place.  Back to normal life now!

 

One of the first thing Lynn wanted to do was to see her mother.  Mrs. Hanger is now two weeks away from being 101 years old.  Last week was not a good week for her, health wise, so Lynn’s concern was very understandable.  But she reported that her mother was doing well.  She said she was sitting up, being alert and coherent, and seemed to be fine.  Great news.

 

While she did that, I went to Central UMC and uploaded my pictures to Flickr.  As I expected, it went very fast there, around 5 seconds per photo.  This made my day.  My pictures are my gold.  I’ll spend plenty of time watching them over and over again.

On the way home, Lynn did some quick shopping at Kroger in Staunton.  When we got home, I discovered something that upset me–the deer have been eating my tomato plants and tomatoes.  The tops of many of them have been chewed off and the nearly ready-to-pick tomatoes that were here before we went to Avon Hill are gone.  I have worked much harder than usual on the garden this year.  Before we left I saw no evidence of deer in it but today I could clearly see it.  So I constructed an emergency second fence around it made of stakes in the ground wrapped with fishing line.  I’ve heard from several people that this works.  We’ll see.  I had to rob fishing line off some of our old reels in order to find the line.  I was not happy doing this….

 

We heard from all of the children that they made it home safely so, indeed, we were blessed with this vacation.  Soon after we got home we texted Jim to see how he was doing and we set up a zoom session with him, Faron, and Coen this evening shortly after supper.  It worked well.  The boys are so talkative now.  It was really fun to listen to them.  As always, Jim is working his butt off with odd jobs for people.

 

Before the zoom session we found time to take a two mile hike.  Lynn managed to keep up her walking at Avon Hill, walking frequently with Kay.  But I slacked off a little, getting in 3.0 miles on Monday, 2.8 on Tuesday, 3.0 on Wednesday, and 4.8 today.

 

As we were winding down the zoom meeting with Jim and family, the entire Gutshall family came in.  They had asked if they could come over and watch Hamilton at our house since we have a good internet connection and a Disney+ subscription.  There was some of Lynn’s amazing Coca-Cola Cake left over from the Avon Hill trip which worked great for a dessert for all of us.

 

We heard yesterday that there will be no high school football in Virginia this fall.  The hope is that there will be a winter sports schedule, followed by an abbreviated fall schedule in February – April, then a shortened spring sports schedule.  It all depends on a vaccine, of course.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               13,935,938              591,935

US                       3,693,694              141,095

Virginia                  74,431                  2,007

Augusta County          219                         2

 

So Virginia has topped 2,000 deaths.  The US doesn’t show any signs of slowing down its infection rate–every day there are over 1,000 new deaths from it.  I guess we’re back to the real world now.

 

July 17, 2020

Yes, we were back in the real world today.  Turns out, it didn’t change much while we were on vacation.  No news on a vaccine.  More news about record infections.  More ambiguity about schools opening in the fall.  Lots of sunshine and heat.  Walking twice in one day again.

After breakfast, I had to go to Augusta Health for a blood test.  This is because I have an appointment in two weeks with Dr. Gillock at Blue Ridge Urology.  I had to get my PSA level tested which involves a blood test.  I was apprehensive about going to the hospital but the process was very safe.  My temperature was checked as I entered the building.  They called down to the laboratory to make sure there was room in the waiting room which there was.  I only had to wait a few minutes to get registered and even less to get tested.  In about ten minutes I was back in the car on the way home.

 

The news today is the usual:

  • There were a record number of new cases in the US today, 77,000 new cases for the second day in a row. This is more than three times what it was just a month ago.  Texas had 174 fatalities in one day, the third day in a row of record deaths.  Staffing shortages exist in Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
  • The mask debate goes on. Thirty states have a mask mandate.  Some governors still refuse to enact a mandate.
  • The school debate also rages. California just decided to NOT open schools until the infections drop for fourteen straight days.  The CDC is coming out with additional guidelines about school opening but they have decided to delay releasing it until the end of July.  And get this–the White House blocked Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from testifying before Congress next week on how to reopen schools safely.
  • Testing is a mess. People in some cities wait for hours and hours on testing.  In Florida, it takes up to 18 days to get back the results of a test.

 

As soon as I got back Lynn and I took a morning two mile walk.  She didn’t have a lot of time because she had to help her mother with lunch today.  Fortunately, her mom was doing fine today.  While she was there, I tried to find out information from Verizon on getting her a new phone because hers has been nothing but trouble lately.  For example, there have been times when I’ve stood right beside her, called her, and her phone wouldn’t even ring.  Yet it would go to Voicemail which she would get.  We had her phone exchanged and even after that this happened.  With her birthday coming up next week, I decided to move on getting a new one for her.

 

It wasn’t a pleasant experience.  The Verizon Wireless website was no help.  I tried an online chat with a representative who apparently didn’t understand me (or English) very well.  I gave up and made an appointment at the local Verizon store.  Then I called Lynn and asked her to go with me.  The phone won’t be a surprise for her birthday but it is much needed.

 

We ended up getting her an iPhone SE.  It is basically the iPhone 11 in an iPhone 8 case.  We paid for it and brought it home though we’re not going to activate it until a protective case for it comes next week from Amazon.

 

We didn’t do much else in the afternoon.  We did make a trip to Overlook Market to buy some tomatoes and a peach pie.  Lynn also bought some groceries at Aldi.  No surprise, she also did lots of laundry today after our trip.

 

After dinner this evening, we went to Gypsy Hill Park and walked our usual two laps.  For the day, my iPhone health app said I’d walked 5.9 miles.  The next week is supposed to be one with higher temperatures and high humidity.  I’m not looking forward to walking then.  Even this evening the temperature was near 90o when we left for Gypsy Hill Park.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               14,175,994              598,446

US                       3,766,605              141,976

Virginia                  75,433                  2,013

Augusta County          221                         2

 

Harrisonburg now has over 1,000 cases.  That means that one out of every fifty people you see in Harrisonburg has been infected.

 

July 18, 2020

 

The next several days are supposed to be extremely hot with highs in the mid to upper 90’s and high humidity.  We were smart enough to walk early today, getting two miles under our belts before 8:30 AM.   Charlottesville has already reported a record of 23 consecutive days of 90o or higher with predictions for the next seven days to keep that record going.

 

Lynn and I have already started talking about going somewhere in August.  We just haven’t decided when or where.  We both like having something to look forward to and plan for.

 

Lynn had her friends Cheryl Kent and Cheryl Wright over this morning for an outside, socially-distant get-together.  They would have liked to have gone garage sale shopping but since they can’t ride in the same vehicle they decided to just stay home and chat.

 

I worked on my pictures today, making backups of the Avon Hill photos and picking out my favorites from those 400 pictures to add to my folder called 2019-20 Favorites.  I could spend hours and hours watching those pictures.

 

Lynn got an offer by mail that I decided to take.  When we were at Avon Hill I enjoyed listening to SiriusXM which the Lodge had in each room.  The mail offer was that for $5 a month for a year she could reinstate SiriusXM on her car’s radio, which we had let expire, and also add it to the Alexa devices in our home.  Plus they gave us a free Amazon Echo Dot.  I like listening to the country music channels and am doing so right now as I write this.  The key to this deal is to cancel it mid-July 2021 else the monthly fee jumps to $22.  I put a reminder on our calendar for July 15 to cancel it.  It took a while to get it all set up on the Alexa devices but everything is fine now.

 

With nothing else to do and things we needed from the store, we opted to go to Costco this afternoon.  Lynn has gone several times in the past few months and told me it was always safe.  Today it was very, very busy and I would not have rated it as super safe.  There were just too many people under one roof.

 

After a very good dinner featuring tomato pie and a zucchini casserole we had some of the peach pie we had purchased from Overlook Market.  Yum!  After all that eating we had to walk to work off some of the calories so we did the 2.8 mile hike around our neighborhood despite 90o temperature.  Fortunately, there was a huge cloud in the sky which hid the sun.  Our total for the day was 5.6 miles.  Not bad for two old people on a very hot night!

 

Here are today’s stats:

Infected                   Died

World               14,407,642              604,103

US                       3,831,679              142,861

Virginia                  76,373                  2,025

Augusta County          225                         2

 

July 19, 2020

Last night after I had showered I noticed a bump on my left heel.  Lynn confirmed that it was a tick.  She pulled it out with tweezers and put hydrogen peroxide and an antibiotic cream on it.  Naturally this worried me but this morning when I read more about Lyme Disease I learned that not all ticks carry it and even if I do get infected it is easily treated with drugs like amoxicillin.  I have to wait a week and see if I get a tell-tale rash where the bite occurred.

 

We watched a Netflix movie, How Do You Know, before falling asleep.  We’ve now watched five or six movies since this pandemic started. None of them have been that good.  The movie industry has been shut down by COVID-19.  We can only hope that when they resume business the quality of the movies they produce is better than what we’ve watched on Netflix.

 

To beat the heat we walked our 2.8 mile route in the neighborhood.  It was nice when we left home but by the time we got back it was 83o.  In general, though, it was a pleasant walk.  It may very well be the only walk we’ll get in today due to the heat and a Covenant Group meeting we have this evening at the Bauman’s.

 

There were deer footprints in my garden again today.  It rained last night so the footprints were fresh.  One of my fishing line posts was bent over, too.  I fixed it back and even suspended a wind chime where it had entered hoping this would deter future visits.  We have lots of tomatoes coming if they will just have a chance to grow before the deer eats them and destroys the plants.

 

It was just too darned hot to do anything this afternoon.   We made a quick trip to the Gutshall’s to drop off some items of theirs from our house.  But after that we just took it easy.  Lynn even took a nap, something she almost never does.  I enjoyed our new SiriusXM radio by listening to a country station while working puzzles.

 

My brother Butch is having it awfully tough now.  He spends most of his days in Columbus visiting Ann whose progress has been very slow.  Today he found out that she will likely be moved to a skilled nursing facility soon.  The downfall there is that, due to COVID-19, they do not allow any visitors unlike the hospital where he is allowed to visit her daily.

 

I am a very, very poor reader.  My reading skills are fine but my reading desire is low.  You will never find me at the library unless I need Wifi.  But actually I just bought a book on Amazon and started reading it today.  It is The Language of God by Francis S. Collins.  Francis Collins is the head of the Human Genome Project and one of the world’s leading scientists. He is Dr. Fauci’s boss.  Interestingly, he is from Staunton and is a graduate of Lynn’s high school, Robert E. Lee High.  His book lays out the argument for God and science co-existing.  I’m sure I will agree with much he has to say.

 

Here are some very different news story titles from ABC news:

  • New York state COVID hospitalizations hit new low, says Cuomo
  • South Carolina sees new daily case record
  • Florida reports another 12,000-plus new cases
  • COVID-19 ‘more rampant in Louisiana now than it has ever been,’ governor warns
  • US death count rises 19%
  • 19 states set single-day high this week
  • 25 million Iranians infected, president says (this one is bizarre since there are about 15 million worldwide reported as infected including nearly 4 million in the US)

 

Tonight was Covenant Group.  There were eight of us who met at the Bauman’s.  We just chatted the whole time, primarily about COVID-19 and its issues.  We all get along well so it was good conversation.

 

We got home a little past 9:00.  It was not quite dark and we didn’t have our 10,000 steps in so we grabbed a flashlight and took a late night walk.  This was the first time we’ve done that.  We just walked up to Mt. Pisgah UMC but even that walk was eventful.  First we saw Denise Michael and asked her about her parents.  Then when we got to the church, there were two vehicles there, one with a flat tire.  We helped the people there some until more help came so we walked on home.  We did get our steps in–4.7 miles in all.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               14,640,375              608,857

US                       3,898,550              143,289

Virginia                  77,430                  2,027

Augusta County          226                         2

 

July 20, 2020

I began writing this blog three months ago on April 20, 2020.  At that time, we had been isolated in our homes for over a month.  So we’re now well past four months of this pandemic.  Things are very much the same as they were in April except the spread of COVID-19 has been greatly extended.  The world has six times more cases than it did on that date.  The United States has five times more cases and over three times more deaths.  Virginia has more than eight times as many cases and over six times as many deaths.  Augusta County has ten times more cases and has had two deaths compared to zero in April.

 

Reuters news reported today “Throughout the United States, every metric to measure the outbreak is going in the wrong direction – rising cases, deaths, hospitalizations and positivity rates of test results. Despite record levels of new cases nationwide, the Trump administration is pushing for schools to reopen in a few weeks and resisting a federal mandate to wear masks in public. Trump, who faces a tough battle for re-election in November, defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in an interview broadcast on Sunday. The United States, with 3.7 million total cases, has almost as many infections as the next three hardest-hit countries combined – Brazil, India and Russia.”

 

There is some news of hope this morning.  A vaccine being developed in Oxford England has shown good promise in stopping COVID-19.  So far, it shows that those who took it developed both antibodies and T-cells that fight the virus.  And it appears safe.  Researchers there say it may be available in a few months but, realistically, it will be 2021 before it is available to the masses.  There are several other vaccines being tested but this is the first that has had such good results.  Let’s all hope this is what we’ve been looking for….

 

Today was counting day at Central UMC.  Sam Richardson and I counted the few checks that had been received and deposited them in the bank.  Afterwards, I met Lynn at Gypsy Hill Park where we walked two laps.  For most of the way, we walked with Johnny Sayers and had good conversation with him.  Having a vibrant conversation definitely makes the walk go faster.  Lynn and I are good talkers with each other but when you’re with a person 24/7 it is hard to then chat non-stop when you’re walking.

 

It was also Food Bank pickup day for me so after lunch I took my truck to transport 660 pounds of food from the Verona Food Bank to Central UMC.  It went as planned.

 

Thirty nine states, including Virginia, reported today an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19.  The stupid Governor of Missouri said “if they do get COVID-19, which they will, they are not going to hospitals.  They’re going to go home and get over it.”  Does he think they will be home by themselves?

 

Along that line, the largest teachers union in Florida sued Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday over his administration’s push to fully reopen all public schools next month — even as the number of coronavirus cases in the state is spiking.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               14,838,095              612,422

US                       3,959,612              143,760

Virginia                  78,375                  2,031

Augusta County          227                         2

 

Lynn cut my hair again tonight.  It was getting way too long for me.  I think she does a fine job.  She’s getting her hair cut tomorrow.  No, I’m not cutting it!

 

I spent some time again today reading The Language of God.  Parts of it are quite deep and tough to read.  But the message is clear that science and religion are complementary.  Our Covenant Group may be reading and discussing this book.  Collins is a very, very brilliant man.  Thus, his writing is considerably above what I usually read.

 

The big news in our family today is that we have a new driver in the family.  Henry passed his test and now has a Learner’s Permit.  I think of him as being very responsible.  I think he will be a fine driver.

 

We had to wait until a storm passed, but Lynn and I managed to get in a second walk tonight after dinner.  It was still hot but we walked the 2.8 mile hike.  Our total for the day was over six miles.

 

July 21, 2020

From ABC news this morning:  There are more than 57,000 new cases in the US with 40 states seeing an increase in new coronavirus cases including Virginia.  39 states report an increase in hospitalizations including Virginia.  But the news also reported optimism regarding two possible vaccines.  It seems that we’ve just got to hold tight until early 2021.  That won’t be easy!

 

The temperature was still in the 70’s when we took our morning walk.  It was sunny so even though the temperature wasn’t that overbearing it was still hot.  It is surprising how much hotter the direct sun makes you feel regardless of the temperature.  Sometimes when we walk and enter shade it seems to be 10o cooler.

 

Today was one of the most boring days I’ve had during the pandemic.  I didn’t really have any work project to do and I did none!  I rode with Lynn to get some tomatoes at Overlook Produce and chatted with Ann and family when they stopped by to drop off Gus’ PS4 for an overnight update using our Wifi.

 

The issue of school is still a hot one.  Augusta County Schools are having students come two days per week and doing the rest virtually.  We don’t know which two days the Gutshall kids will be going but have been told that they would all be going the same days.  Lynn and I still think it is possible that Governor Northram will cancel school for the first six weeks or so because even here in Virginia the number of COVID-19 cases is rising.  Some of the worst outbreaks in the country have been from institutional gatherings such as churches.  It seems like school would just be a breeding ground for the virus.

 

The only excitement for me today was that while Lynn and I were talking to Jim on my iPhone, I was washing dishes.  I set my phone on the counter with it on speaker so both of us could hear.  Lynn accidentally hit something which bounced down and knocked my phone in the dishpan which was full of soapy water.  I fumbled to get it out and was surprised that when I got it Jim was still there though the volume was lower.  We called Jim back on her phone and put mine in a bag of rice.  I’m happy to report that it seems to work fine now.  Whew!

 

Lynn and I are considering a day trip sometime soon to a park or somewhere we haven’t been so we can walk.  She doesn’t want to go far away from her mother at this time.  She visited with her mom this afternoon who was doing OK although she had not had a good morning.  Only nine more days before she turns 101!

 

We both watch the news throughout the day both on ABC and CNN.  She watches lots of game shows.  When she leaves to visit her Mom, I usually turn the television off because I like quiet whereas she likes noise.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               15,083,266              618,438

US                       4,028,014              144,937

Virginia                  79,371                  2,048

Augusta County          227                         2

 

Virginia’s infections were right at 1,000 more than the previous day.  The CDC today said that the number actually infected is likely from 6 to 24 times the number reported.  If that’s the case, then the US could have 40 million or more who have been infected!  The population of the US is about 330 million.  So one out of eight Americans has already had it????

 

We were able to get a second walk in between storms and ended up with 6.5 miles for the day.  Not bad for two old people!

 

July 22, 2020

My beliefs that my iPhone has survived the dip into the dishwater have been up and down.  Last night it would turn on and off but I couldn’t get it to charge.  This morning I made an appointment at the local Verizon Wireless store to possibly have it replaced.  I was especially worried that I couldn’t get it to backup to my computer.  Then I fiddled more with it, scraping out the charging port and blowing air from an air canister into it.  It worked!  I was able to get it backed up and now it is charging as always.  I gladly canceled the VZ appointment.

 

Tonight is our family Zoom night.  We’ve invited Ann’s family over so use our Verizon connection to zoom and eat dessert.  We need to empty out our freezer space because on Friday we’ll be picking up Lynn’s big ice cream cake for her birthday.

 

We played it smart again by walking our 2.8 mile route before it got unbearable outside.  On our walk we ran into two cows outside their pasture.  Lynn and I were able to get the calf back in by opening the gate and shooing it back in but the full sized one is still in an adjacent field.  We notified two people about it and feel like that’s the best we can do.

 

You know it’s a boring day for me when I read.  I read more of The Language of God today.  It rained this afternoon though I did manage to get in a run to the dump, including a stop to get Ann and Josh’s trash, before the rain came.

 

Lynn had a busier day.  She visited with her mom, had an hour long conversation with the student she tutors, had a Zoom meeting as part of Central UMC’s Staff Parish Relations Committee, and translated a document for Rockingham County Public Schools.  She makes me look lazy.

 

In the news tonight, the US had over 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours for the first time in two weeks.  California has over 12,000 new cases, passing New York in the number of infections.  60% of cases in Los Angeles are among young adults.  Even Trump encouraged Americans to wear masks and told younger people to avoid packed bars.  Nine states set records for hospitalizations.  A new study about antibodies that infected people developed said that they wore off after just 90 days.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               15,341,187              625,073

US                       4,093,662              146,042

Virginia                  80,393                  2,051

Augusta County          230                         2

Another thousand new cases in Virginia.

 

Tonight was Zoom night but it didn’t work out.  First, Kay called us to say that Arlington had been hit by a terrible storm and they had lost power.  Even their cell towers were out; she called from her car on the way into her office.  And Jim apparently didn’t get the message.  The Gutshall family came over to our house for ice cream cake instead.

 

Henry drove them.  He should be a fine driver.  He is a smart, responsible young man.

 

Our walking total for the day wasn’t as good as some days, 5.2 miles.  At least we exceeded 10,000 steps.

 

July 23, 2020

I am really bummed out over my tomato plants.  I tilled the garden, planted twenty tomato plants, and spent lots of time weeding and tying up the plants.  I watered them on occasion.  They were a little slow coming along but before we went to Avon Hill there were probably 60 small tomatoes ripening.  This morning there are virtually none.  The deer have eaten the tops off of nearly every plant as well as any tomato larger than a golf ball.  I have never seen the deer in the garden but there are tracks throughout it.  Plus we see the deer in the fields adjacent to our house.  We even had one tomato plant at the bottom of our back steps that had its top eaten off.  This is infuriating to me.  I’m ready to give up trying to garden at all.

 

After sitting around most of the morning doing nothing productive I decided to haul the clothes line poles to the dump in Greenville.  This was no small task because both were loaded with concrete at their bases, about 15″ x 20″.  There is no way I could pick either of them up but I could roll them using the horizontal clothes line poles as a turning wheel.  I pulled my trailer near to the tennis court, aimed downhill, and rolled the poles, one at a time, onto the trailer.  Then I secured them down and took them to the dump.  I had previously called the landfill because I needed to be told what to do with them once I got there.  Every other time I’ve taken trash there you have to transfer your trash into one of their bins which means lifting it.  I was told to take the load directly to the landfill and roll them off, which I did.  The entire operation only took about two hours.  I feel better about getting something worthwhile done today.

 

When I got back home Lynn was in the middle of a Facetime session with Jim, Faron, and Coen.  That was a great time to come back!  I enjoyed talking and listening to those three for a while.  The little boys are very talkative.

 

Lynn’s early birthday present was a new iPhone which we picked up last week but didn’t activate until today when her protective case arrived.  I spent a good bit of time getting it activated, restoring the settings from a backup of her previous phone, and transferring all of the music we own to it.  Her iPhone 6 was giving her fits; I hope this new iPhone SE will work much better.  So far, so good.

 

Setting up her phone using the MacBook wasn’t easy because it has such a small hard drive that it can’t hold all of our music.  I really miss having a desktop iMac with a large hard drive.  Maybe next month we can get our dead iMac replaced.

 

Gosh, Trump even canceled the GOP’s national convention at Jacksonville FL this afternoon due to all of the COVID-19 infections in Florida.  That’s an about face for him.  He even said some school districts should wait to re-open, another reversal.  Maybe he’s FINALLY seeing how serious this is, four months in.

 

The last three or more days have been in a pattern where there are strong afternoon thunderstorms, some of which have heavy rain.  It rained most of the afternoon and evening today though not always heavy.  This makes it hard for Lynn and me to walk.  At least the storms have brought the temperatures down.  But we only got in one walk for a little over two miles all day long.

 

We met Ann and Wes Ford at Smiley’s Ice Cream tonight.  For a change, I did not have salted caramel chocolate chunk.  Their flavor of the month is peach so I gave it a try.  It was good, of course, but next time I’ll likely return to my usual.  While we were there we got a phone call from Kay saying that a water pipe on the third floor of their home had burst and left water all over.  The ceiling in one room had to be taken down.  There were four men working at her house when we called.  Yuck!

 

She said that as much as this upset her, she remembered one of my sayings:  if a problem can be fixed with money then it isn’t that big of a problem.  That helped her deal with this.  Indeed, even when my iPhone was dropped in the dishwater night before last I told Lynn that there were two kinds of problems:  ones that can be fixed and ones which can’t.  Both my phone and her ceiling are problems that can be fixed.  There are so many things in life that can’t be reversed or fixed.  If anything, we are lucky that our problems fall into the fixable category right now.

 

Certainly losing someone to COVID-19 is an example of a problem that can’t be fixed.  So, so many Americans have had to deal with this.  Look at these numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               15,650,440              636,384

US                       4,169,991              147,333

Virginia                  81,237                  2,054

Augusta County          233                         2

 

The US lost over 1,250 to coronavirus in one day.  Virginia had almost 1,000 new cases.

 

July 24, 2020

Today was just like 90% of the previous summer days:  hot, rain chances throughout the afternoon, and boring.  We did manage to get in a three mile walk in the morning before the temperatures got much above 80o.  Lynn went in to see her mom, as usual, and I cleaned up some blocks, rocks, and leftover wood from our Pergola project.

 

More bad news from CNN news:

The US on Thursday surpassed 4 million officially recorded Covid-19 cases — and a quarter of that count came in just the last 15 days.  The country’s rising daily rate of confirmed coronavirus cases, along with a near-record number of hospitalizations, signals the US is far from containing a virus that is straining hospitals and labs, health experts say.  “We’ve rolled back essentially two months’ worth of progress with what we’re seeing in number of cases … in the United States,” Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health, told CNN on Thursday.  About 59,600 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in the US on Wednesday — roughly 300 short of the country’s peak recorded in mid-April, according to the Covid Tracking Project.  The reported count is picking up speed: The national seven-day average of new daily cases was 67,429 on Wednesday, a record.  The spread has promised a bleak outlook for the months ahead, according to both health officials and President Trump.   What comes next is unclear: With now at least 41 states requiring face coverings, some have said strict measures like limiting gatherings and enforcing social distancing and masks can be as impactful as another lockdown. But others aren’t as hopeful.   “Masks will help, but I think we need a lot more than masks to contain this epidemic that’s running through our country like a freight train,” said William Haseltine, the chair and president of global health think tank ACCESS Health International.  “Until we see major changes of behavior and until we see the public health services here stepping forward with many more resources, we aren’t sure of containing this.”  Many are calling for a reset: shut everything down again and start over. More than 150 prominent US medical experts, scientists, teachers, nurses and others have signed a letter to political leaders urging them do just that.  “The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it’s to save as many lives as possible,” they wrote in the document, which was sent to the Trump administration, leading members of Congress and state governors. “Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st. Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but nonessential activities.”

 

Yet there is still a call to get kids back in school.  Again from CNN news:

Still, the CDC spoke out strongly about the need to reopen schools, albeit in communities without substantial, uncontrolled transmission of the virus.  “It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement announcing the updates.  In new guidelines issued Thursday, the CDC said children suffer from not being in school, and they don’t suffer much from the virus and are less likely to spread it than adults.  “(The) United States reported that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for under 7 percent of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths,” as of July 17, the statement said.

 

Personally, I think the CDC said this just because Trump insisted that they revise their guidelines.

 

More news:  There are over 1,000 deaths three days in a row, says the CDC.  There were record fatalities in seven states.  Dr. Fauci said that states with high infections should return to shelter-in-place.  He said he wouldn’t eat at a restaurant or ride an airplane.

 

In the afternoon we drove to Overlook Market to get some more tomatoes then stopped by Smiley’s to pick up Lynn’s birthday ice cream cake.  Of course, it was Death by Chocolate.

 

After a fine dinner of squash casserole and BLT sandwiches, we decided to walk again.  The weather forecast in Mount Sidney was fine so we decided to go to Gypsy Hill Park to walk.  Though the two aren’t far away, the weather was different in Staunton.  We managed to make only one lap as it started raining.  I got pretty soaked but, thankfully, we had an umbrella for Lynn.  We stopped in Verona on the way back and walked again at the Augusta County park there.  For the day we got about 5.7 miles in.

 

A survey on ABC news said only 44% of parents want their children to return to school.  Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               15,927,969              641,800

US                       4,246,447              148,429

Virginia                  82,364                  2,067

Augusta County          236                         3

In addition to over 1,000 deaths in the past 24 hours in the US, Virginia has more than 1,000 new cases and 13 additional deaths.  Augusta County recorded its 3rd death.

 

July 25, 2020

Today is Lynn’s 68th birthday.  I should be the one celebrating because being married to her has been the highlight of my life.  Everything I value at this point in my life has come because of her.  I spent time this morning looking at my photos as I waited for Ann and family to come over to see Betsy’s dancing in the Valley Dance Theatre production which was live streamed.  As I looked at photo after photo, it was apparent to me that 99% of those pictures were taken with her either in the pictures or with me when I took them.  Where would I be now if it were not for her?  I don’t want to even think about it.  Rather, I’ll just enjoy the fact that 68 years ago her parents gave birth to a baby girl who was going to spend most of her life with me.  Again, I’m the one celebrating.

 

For her birthday she got the new iPhone SE.  Also, I got her something she had asked for–an online subscription to the New York Times.  Many Facebook posts are from the NY Times but you need a subscription to read the entire post.  Now she can.

 

Kay called her this morning.  She was in surprising good spirits with a home torn up due to the water damage from the burst pipe.  Thomas and Georgia had just competed in a swim meet.  Jim called this evening.  He wasn’t in as good of spirits as Coen had awoken at 3:00 AM this morning and had no interest in going back to sleep.  By this evening both of them were exhausted and not in the best of moods.  Ann and her family came over this morning because Betsy’s dance recital was streamed and they thought our internet would work better.  Frankly, it didn’t work very well; we were able to view only two of Betsy’s four dances.

 

We walked our three mile walk this morning while the temperature was still in the 70’s.  It was a beautiful morning with nothing but blue skies.  By the time we finished it had gotten rather warm.

 

Lynn had a pickup at Walmart this morning, mostly of ice cream novelties she bought for her mother’s party which will be on Thursday.  She was able to take them directly from Walmart to her mother’s freezer so now they’re all ready for the party.  And she was able to help her mother with lunch, as usual.  She reported to me that Mrs. Hanger was doing OK today.  Only five more days until she turns 101!

 

Today was hot but not too hot for me to mow.  I am glad to have gotten it done; otherwise, I would have felt lazy again.  The temperature was 86 when Lynn and I got out of the car this afternoon at Gypsy Hill Park and 86 when we got back in.  Between, we walked two laps, around 2.5 miles, and netted right at six miles for the day.  Gypsy Hill has some shade, perhaps about 50% at this time of the day.

 

While we were in Staunton, we ordered our dinner from Chicano Boy.  This is what Lynn requested for her birthday dinner.  It was great, as always.  We each got the pork salad, of which we ate half and saved the rest for tomorrow.  We split an ear of corn and one of the two “supreme” potatoes we bought.  We’ll be fixed up for dinner tomorrow night, too.

 

After dinner, Ann’s family came over to help celebrate her birthday and have a piece of her ice cream cake from Smiley’s.  The cake is huge!

 

Lynn has so many friends, both in person and on Facebook.  She got well over 100 birthday wishes today on Facebook.  They came from former colleagues, high school classmates, neighbors, former students, some family members, and many others.  She is a special lady!

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               16,163,755              647,059

US                       4,308,876              149,320

Virginia                  83,609                  2,075

Augusta County          238                         3

 

Florida passed New York for the number of infections.  California has more than either.  Note that Virginia’s total is 1,250 more than the previous day.  Not good!

 

July 26, 2020

The news today is that we’ve now had five straight days of 1,000 or more deaths due to COVID-19.  Some cities have a real shortage of medical personnel.

 

Today was another slow day.  The weather was typical:  mild early on, then hot, then rain, then hot again.  We got in three miles before it got to the mid and high 80’s.  After that, our accomplishments for the day were limited.  Lynn did help her mother with lunch, shopped at Aldi’s, made blueberry jam, and used her Cricut machine to label two stainless steel hydration bottles she had purchased for a friend and her sister.  I did my monthly weed-whacking and moved some dirt to fill up a hole in the back yard.  Also I viewed our church’s online service for today.  That’s about it for the day.

 

This will be the shortest post since I’ve started writing back in April.  But, frankly, there’s nothing new to write about.  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               16,395,400              651,554

US                       4,366,042              149,773

Virginia                  84,567                  2,078

Augusta County          239                         3

We went to bed early to watch a movie.  We watched 5 Flights Up.  I’ve mentioned before that the Netflix movies we’ve watched have not been worth watching.   This one was an exception–it was very good.

 

July 27, 2020

Today is Kay’s 40th birthday.  It’s hard to believe it has been forty years!  She is having to deal with a house torn up by a water break and childcare while she and Andy continue to work.  As would be expected, she’s got it all in hand.  What a capable young lady!  Notice I said that 40 is young.

 

On the news this morning is that a Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine testing is starting today on 30,000 people.  Experts are still saying it will be late this year or early 2021 before the masses could get this vaccine from Moderna.  But the news also says that once again there are many places where the virus is uncontrolled.

 

Unlike the previous several days, today we both had several things scheduled.  In fact, our day was so busy that we didn’t even get in a morning walk.  Mine began at Central UMC where it was my turn to make the weekly bank deposit.  After I had finished, I went to the sanctuary and recorded the three songs I had selected for this coming Sunday’s morning worship.  I wasn’t particularly pleased with the sound quality of the recordings but I eventually decided that this was due to my lack of playing skill.  I just do not play anything smoothly–I tend to bang somewhat.  I guess I developed this habit as a teenager in a rock band and have kept it all these years.  I wish I could play smoothly and elegantly.  Instead, my recordings come across as being rough and loud at times.  At least I was able to record each with a maximum of one false start and I didn’t noticeably play any wrong notes.  I was also able to take advantage of Central’s fast internet service so I got them uploaded to be shared with our music director who puts together all of the separate video recordings to make our Sunday morning worship service.

 

Another thing I got done this morning was to make an appointment at Carillion in Fort Defiance for this afternoon.  I have been keeping my eye on the tick bite I got almost two weeks ago.  It is not getting any better.  It doesn’t appear to be any worse and though I don’t have any symptoms of Lyme disease yet I don’t want to wait on them to appear.  I tried to make an appointment with my family physician, Dr. LaGrua, but he is on vacation so instead I saw a new doctor there, Dr. Cavender.  He said he didn’t think I was showing the symptoms of Lyme disease but that the bite was somewhat infected.  So he prescribed for me a med, doxycycline, for the infection but told me that this was the same drug he’d be prescribing for me if I were showing Lyme disease issues. So, as he put it, I’d be getting a two-for-one.  If indeed I am getting Lyme disease this drug will be the antidote.  Otherwise, it will be the treatment for the bug bite.  He was a young doctor, probably not even 30 yet, but I liked him and trusted his advice.  I only take it for five days.

 

Lynn and I ate well again tonight.  She cooked a prime rib roast and I cooked baked potatoes.  She also made a squash dish.  For dessert, we made a quick run to Smiley’s.  Yum!

 

Today is the first day in a while that I didn’t get my 10,000 steps in.  We did go to Gypsy Hill Park tonight and walked two laps, approximately 2.4 miles, but that’s about all I got in.  It was hot again tonight, about 85o when we started walking.

 

The news tonight is the same as always.  Here are the statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               16,635,306              656,080

US                       4,433,372              150,444

Virginia                  86,072                  2,082

Augusta County          243                         3

Virginia’s number of infections soared almost 1,500 higher in the past 24 hours.  That’s not good.  The WHO says coronavirus cases have roughly doubled worldwide in the last six weeks.  Over 25% of the world’s infections are in the US.

 

July 28, 2020

We had a significant, but not good, event at our house today.  Lynn fell coming out of the bathroom and got hurt.  She has a broken foot, very bruised thigh, and sore arm.  She put up with the pain during the morning but after lunch went to Augusta Health Urgent Care in Weyers Cave where they x-rayed her foot.  This is Lynn’s first broken bone ever!  She will see an orthopedic doctor next week.

 

They put her foot in a boot.  She can hobble around since they did not give her crutches but she is obviously in pain.  Poor Lynn!  She has to prop her foot up when she sits.  Her arm and thigh also hurt but not as much as the foot.  She broke the 5th metatarsal.  The doctor who read her x-ray said she would not need surgery, which is good news, but it will take at least six weeks for it to heal.  She won’t see the orthopedic doctor until the swelling has gone down.

 

Before she fell, we had walked three miles and had a busy day planned.  I had two church meetings via Zoom, a Finance Committee meeting and a Church Council meeting.  Plus, I had some questions about the financial report that our new administrative assistant had produced so I was on the phone with her for a long time in the morning, including when Lynn fell.  I didn’t hear her fall and she couldn’t understand why not.

 

In the meantime, she had invited a friend of hers, Carol Mitchell, and her husband Shawn to join us in our backyard with a take-out dinner.  Lynn and Carol were born on exactly the same day in the same hospital so they have been friends for 68 years.  To help celebrate, she had ordered an ice cream cake from (can you guess? ) Smiley’s.  It was ready this afternoon so she drove to pick it up but by then the pain from her fall was so great that she asked them to bring it out to her car, which they did.  When she got back home, I was between church meetings so we agreed it would be best for her to go to the Augusta Health Urgent Care office in Weyers Cave and have it x-rayed.  Before I was through with the second meeting she knew the story.

 

I drove to the Urgent Care office to pick her up since she would have had a hard time driving with a boot on.  Later Ann took me back to pick up car which we had left there.

 

Our way of life has suddenly been changed.  We’ve spent two hours each day walking for months.  That won’t be the case for at least six more weeks now.  I’m not sure if I’ll walk by myself or not.  My body will need the exercise but it won’t be enjoyable without her.

 

I made a trip to Valley Pike to order then pick up our take-out dinner.  We love the hamburgers at the Old Schoolhouse food truck there.  I made it back just in time to get everything set up for dinner outside under the Pergola before the Mitchells arrived.

 

Lynn had made some wine coolers which we enjoyed at first.  Then we discovered an embarrassing fact–the Mitchell’s had not picked up any food for dinner.  Perhaps they were expecting us to provide it whereas we thought the deal was for both couples to bring their own food.  At any rate, Lynn and I quickly decided not to eat our hamburgers.  Instead, the four of us had birthday cake for dinner!  It was Death by Chocolate, of course.

 

On television tonight is an ABC show we watched about COVID-19.  It described how we got to where we are now in the US.  We heard Trump say on January 22 that “we have the situation completely under control.  There is just one person infected and we have it under control.”  The show described how previous Presidents, beginning with George Bush in 2005, laid out a framework for how to deal with pandemics.  The Obama administration had to deal with the Ebola outbreak, for example.  He set up a pandemic prevention office to deal with any future outbreak.  The Trump administration did away with this office in 2018.  There was even a plan left from the Obama administration on how to deal with a pandemic such as a coronavirus outbreak but this plan was not followed by Trump.  In other words, the blame for this outbreak largely rests on Donald Trump’s shoulders.

 

Trump did ban travel to/from China on February 1.  But it was too late.  The virus had already jumped continents.  Plus, the initial test samples from the CDC were defective.  The longer it took to test, the more it spread.  By Valentine’s Day there was an outbreak in the state of Washington.  Trump kept downplaying the severity of the virus.  Within a few weeks, it would be impossible to control the outbreak, especially given the shortages of testing, personal protective equipment, and ventilators.

 

The show suggested five factors were important:

  1. A collection of former officials sounded an alarm that were not heard. In January and February, as the coronavirus grew from outbreak to epidemic to pandemic, a group of former public health and national security officials, some of whom had helped craft a set of so-called “pandemic playbooks” to help guide a unified federal response, privately encouraged officials across the Trump administration to heed warnings of an impending disaster. “The president began to say that nobody could imagine that something like this could actually occur,” Dr. Dan Hanfling, a biosecurity and disaster response expert in Virginia, told ABC News. “The truth is that there was a group of us that had been trying to raise the alarm.”
  2. On the eve of crisis, the pandemic preparedness office was scrapped.  The White House National Security Council once featured a pandemic preparedness desk that monitored for biological threats to the security of the United States.  Its dissolution – less than a year before the novel coronavirus first emerged in China – has become fodder for the president’s critics.
  3. After early action, opportunities were squandered. Experts say that a delayed response from the federal government and a lack of cooperation from foreign counterparts hampered the nation’s ability to prepare for the pandemic.
  4. Inadequate testing blinded leaders.  Until April, the United States lagged far behind numerous other countries on testing even as community spread was actively occurring across the country and around the world. Testing supplies were not part of the government stockpile.  To this day, there is still an undersupply of testing and personal protective equipment.
  5. Mixed messages undermined a public’s confidence in the response. Public health leaders say Trump’s rhetoric set back the efforts to supply a unified message to the public.  As one official put it, “What are people supposed to think when the federal government has a plan for reopening and the president is telling people to ignore his experts’ own plan for reopening?  That confuses everyone. It leads to politics, division, divisiveness. It leads to some of these protests you were seeing.”  Trump constantly ignored the advice of his own advisors about re-opening the country.  He has almost never wears a mask in public.  He is a complete dud as a President.

This is what we have on July 28:

Infected                   Died

World               16,883,769              662,480

US                       4,498,323              152,319

Virginia                  86,994                  2,095

Augusta County          244                         3

Nearly 1,000 more Virginians infected overnight.  Thirteen more dead.  And to date the federal government has taken no responsibility for the spread.

 

July 29, 2020

This is the first day of Lynn’s immobility.  She awoke hurting in the middle of the night but after some acetaminophen she got back to sleep.  She has such a busy lifestyle, always on the go, that I worry about how she’ll be sedentary for the next six weeks.

 

Lots of people have already checked on her.  She’s still planning on being involved with her mother’s 101st birthday party tomorrow.  But walking is a real issue.  Fortunately, we have little planned for the next two days.  We’re certainly not going to be walking.

 

Trump retweeted his support of hydroxychloroquine, despite both the National Institute of Health and the Food and Drug Administration already dismissing the antimalarial drug’s efficacy in treating COVID-19.  ABC News reported that he ongoing war of words over the drug led the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to reiterate that the drug “is not effective” in treating the virus, while FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn recently lamented that it had become “politicized” in the midst of a pandemic.

 

An internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News reports that new cases are going down but deaths are surging.  In the seven days ending Monday, new cases nationwide have decreased 0.6% from the previous week but that time period also saw a 30.1% increase in deaths from the disease and deaths have been increasing steadily in recent days.

 

Lynn can hobble from one place to another but her foot is still swollen and hurting.  She has an appointment next Wednesday to see the orthopedic doctor.  With no crutches nor cane, her only option is to try to walk mostly on her heel but with the boot on it isn’t easy.

 

Today was errand day for me, especially since Lynn was so immobile.  I went to Harrisonburg to make a bank withdrawal then she and I together went to Kroger to pick up an order she had made online.  I also made a run to the dump with our trash and the Gutshall’s.  That’s the excitement for the day.   This evening I took Lynn in to see her mother and drop off some things for tomorrow’s big party.  She said her mom is really looking forward to her 101st birthday!

 

We found out this afternoon that a neighbor of ours, John Michael, passed away this morning.  It was not unexpected; he had struggled for the past several months.

 

In today’s news, hard-hit Texas reported a record 313 fatalities on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total death toll to 6,190. The state had never reported more than 200 in a single day.  In Florida, 217 new fatalities were reported in the last 24 hours — a second day in a row of record-setting deaths, the state’s health department said Wednesday.  On Tuesday, the department said a record 191 new fatalities had been reported in the previous 24 hours.  And coronavirus deaths are on the rise in the state of Washington for the first time since March.  So who thinks we’re getting a hold on this virus?  Only our President.

 

I went nearly all day with no walking.  I was hesitant to leave Lynn for long periods of time.  Plus, I had less motivation to walk without my partner.  But then at 8:00 I decided to do a quick two mile walk.  I walked much faster than we normally do; I was back home in 31 minutes.  One worry I have is that I’ll start gaining weight because I have been eating a lot lately though I’ve also been walking for two hours every day.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               17,148,161              668,806

US                       4,555,924              153,488

Virginia                  87,993                  2,125

Augusta County          245                         4

 

Another thousand more Virginia infections and one more Augusta County death.

 

July 30, 2020

Today is Lynn’s mother’s birthday, her 101st.  I’ve never known anyone who has lived to 101 before, yet now I know one in our own family.  I’ve been around Mrs. Hanger much longer than I was ever around my own mother since my mom died when I had just turned 30.  She has always treated me well.  I hope she has many more birthdays!  Lately, she has had some bad days, though.

 

CNN reported today that experts say that the US is far from having COVID-19 under control.  Some states are seeing their highest death tolls. California on Wednesday reported 197 Covid-related deaths in a single day, according to state Department of Public Health. That total far outpaces the previous high of 159, recorded just last week.  The United States needs to restart its response with policy actions at the federal, state and local levels to get control of the pandemic, scholars at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security said in a report.

 

The news is so repetitive.  How many days have we heard that the US needs more mask wearing, more test availability, more PPP equipment, slower re-opening, more federal help in assisting with shortages, more social distancing, fewer events where many people are crowded into a venue such as a church, and quicker turnaround for testing?  Yet today’s news included a story about a US congressman from Texas who has now contacted coronavirus and blamed it on wearing a mask, something he had fought against for months.  How can people elect such an idiot?

 

Oh boy!  In a tweet this morning Trump says mail in voting causes fraud and wants to delay the election in November.  So it is too unsafe to vote in November but OK to send kids back to school in September?  Of course, he has no power to delay it since it is in the Constitution.  And, supposedly, even if it is delayed his term ends after four years and a Democrat from the Senate, perhaps Nancy Pelosi, will become President.  Trump said “with universal mail-in voting (not absentee voting which is good) the 2020 election will be the most inaccurate and fraudulent in history.   It will be an embarrassment to the USA.”  The fraudulent one and the embarrassment to the US is HIM.

 

The number of deaths rose in 32 states in the past day.  Including in the COVID-19 deaths is Herman Cain, a former Republican candidate for President, who attended Trump’s rally in Tulsa Oklahoma and did not wear a mask.

 

The birthday party today was well attended though it was in the small yard outside Mrs. Hanger’s apartment.  Bill and Sandy along with their daughter Jenny and her two boys, Tommy and Luke were there.  So were Kay Carter and her children David and Donna along with Donna’s husband David.  Jane Hanger was there with her daughter Sally, husband Ray, and children Bowman and Owen.  Lynn and I were there along with all three of our children, Ann, Kay, and Jim.  Ann’s husband Josh and children Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie came along with Kay’s children Thomas and Georgia.  Plus there were plenty of friends and employees from The Legacy.  In fact, the party ended a little too early when a representative from The Legacy required that Mrs. Hanger go back inside since, according to her, we were violating the CDC guidelines.  Everyone there wore a mask, I’d add.  Mrs. Hanger seemed very pleased though it really wore her out.  By the time Lynn and I left she was soundly asleep on her bed.

 

After the party our family came back here for a while.  The kids played well while we sat in the shade and chatted.  Kay had to go back early because she still had to get in a day’s work after getting home.  Jim stayed until after dinner which Ann picked up for us from Chicano Boy.

 

Jim brought me a present.  He had purchased and fixed a dump cart for my riding mower.  He has one that he uses a lot and I’m sure I’ll be putting mine to good use now.

 

We got news today that Lynn’s porch swings for the Pergola will arrive next week so Jim is going to come back to help install them.  I got the hardware today via Amazon which we’ll use to mount the swings to the Pergola.

 

Another vaccine, this one from Johnson and Johnson, is entering into human trials now after showing promise with monkeys.  It can’t come too soon.

 

Lynn’s foot has hurt her more than ever today.  Her toes are swollen and bruised.  Of course, she overdid it today before and during her mother’s party.

 

Here are the numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               17,433,217              675,172

US                       4,626,450              154,984

Virginia                  88,904                  2,141

Augusta County          246                         4

 

Another 1,500 new deaths in the US.  Almost 1,000 new cases and 16 more deaths in Virginia.  So sad.

 

Here’s some COVID-19 good news:  The U.S. saw the first week-over-week decrease in new COVID-19 cases since early June, The COVID Tracking Project reported Thursday.  The number of new cases fell by nearly 20,000, from 468,000 last week to 448,198, this week, the data project found.

 

But in other news from ABC, Ohio reported 1,733 new coronavirus cases on Thursday — its highest daily count ever, Gov. Mike DeWine said.  For the third day in a row, a new record-high number of deaths were reported in hard-hit Florida, according to the state’s Department of Health.  New Jersey saw 2,066 new coronavirus cases in the last week (ending July 27) — a 112% increase from the week prior.  Meanwhile in Georgia, the number of new COVID-19 deaths in the last week nearly doubled in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs area. The week ending July 20 saw 71 deaths while the week ending July 27 brought 139 deaths.

 

With all that was going on today plus rain this afternoon and evening, there was no walking for me today.  That’s OK; it was fantastic to see so many family members today before and after the birthday party.  I took 125 pictures which I’ve already posted online.

 

July 31, 2020

When I began writing this blog on April 20, the coronavirus had already been creating its havoc on our lifestyle for five weeks or so.  So I wrote then that I felt like a reporter assigned to writing about a baseball game but he started writing after the game had begun.  The problem is that I didn’t know what inning the game was in.  Yesterday I heard one of the medical experts use the same analogy to a baseball game when he spoke about where we were with COVID-19.  He said he thought we were in the 4th inning now.   Interesting.

 

The morning news reported that coronavirus fatalities are up by 15% though the number of infections may be leveling off in some of the hot spots.

 

My day began early with a urology doctor’s appointment.  Like my brother Butch, my worries about prostate issues have been put on the back burner while more pressing issues moved forward.  I haven’t had any change in symptoms so I wasn’t surprised when the doctor told me my results were OK and no need for further action.  I was a little concerned that the results this year weren’t posted to my MyChart records so I could see them but he had them and showed them to me.  My PSA basically hasn’t changed in the past three years.  He said I had less than a 10% chance of having prostate cancer.

 

Prostate cancer is known to run in the Hill family.  My dad had it but not until he was late in life, perhaps in his late 70’s. My uncle Hamp had it and despite having it treated it spread to his lungs, causing lung cancer which eventually took his life.  So I am always a little concerned about my trips to the urologist.

 

Meanwhile Butch’s Ann is having more and more issues in Columbus.  She was supposed to be released to a skilled nursing facility today but that’s not going to happen as she had several problems this morning.

 

One of Lynn’s friends, Cheryl Kent, brought her a scooter she can use with her broken leg.  I’m curious to see how often she uses it.  Lynn was in lots of pain last night so she re-wrapped her ankle and that seemed to help.

 

I’m trying to get everything ready to install Lynn’s Pergola swings when they come next week.  Jim told me I should get lock washers instead of flat washers so I ordered them for pickup from Lowe’s this morning.  Lynn went to see her mom today so I picked them up when I took her to Staunton.  Then I think we’ll be all set for mounting the swings when they come.  Jim is going to come back to help.  Actually, I’m the one who helps; he is the one with all the skills.

 

On my mind today is what great children Lynn and I have.  Ann is such a good mother.  She is very protective without being a helicopter parent.  She got Lynn a very thoughtful birthday present of a reusable bag for Lynn’s sourdough bread loaves plus a cutting board sized just right for the bread.  She manages to see to everything her four children need simultaneously.  Kay has maintained her sanity dealing with a house which has had major issues plus taking care of two very active children and working fulltime.  She makes time to come here to see her mom and grandmother and manages to transport Thomas and Georgia to swimming, tennis, soccer, and/or basketball.  Lately she has had to go to her office in downtown Washington late at night in order to get all of her work done.    Like Ann, she is very thoughtful.  For Lynn’s birthday she got her a reflecting vest for save walking.  It will be a few weeks before Lynn can use it again!  Jim is so skilled at both academic and household matters.  For Lynn’s birthday he brought great pictures of Faron and Coen which are now proudly displayed on our kitchen mantle.  The cart he brought me yesterday required him to make several modifications so it would work with my mower.  It works great.  He’s always willing to come here to help us.  He dearly loves his two boys and would do anything for them.

 

From ABC News tonight:  The CDC predicted today that the US will suffer more than 180,000 deaths due to COVID-19 by August 22.  More than 67,600 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Thursday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  The latest daily caseload is under the country’s record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.  In one Georgia camp, students were not asked to wear masks.  44% of the campers got coronavirus.  The Florida Department of Health recorded 257 deaths in the last 24 hours, marking a new, grim record for the state for the fourth day in a row.  On the good news side, New York saw its lowest number of hospitalizations, ICU patients and intubations since mid-March on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said.

 

Here are the statistics for today:

Infected                   Died

World               17,727,472              681,934

US                       4,700,326              156,701

Virginia                  89,888                  2,174

Augusta County          249                         4

 

Virginia again had nearly 1,000 new cases and a whopping 33 more deaths.  I wonder how many of those 33 got infected from an environment similar to a school?

 

Trump again today tweeted that the high case numbers in the U.S. were due to increased testing – an assertion that his own administration has repeatedly said is not true.  Dr. Fauci testified before Congress that “the increase in cases was due to a number of factors,” including states that reopened too quickly and people “congregating in crowds and not wearing masks,” he said.  Nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of President Donald Trump’s handling of three major challenges facing the country — the coronavirus pandemic, nationwide unrest over racial inequality and relations with Russia — in a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.

 

Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie are supposed to resume school on August 18, just 19 days from now.  They are scheduled to go two days per week and have the rest of their schooling online.  Class sizes will be cut in half due to the A/B schedule.  During the in-person school time masks are not going to be required inside the classroom as long as students sit six feet apart.  I do not like this.  Thomas and Georgia don’t return to school until September 8.