September 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

September 1, 2020

Gus, Betsy, and Freddie headed to school today for the first time since mid-March.  Gus and Betsy rode the bus to and from Stewart Middle School.  Freddie was dropped off by Josh then was supposed to have ridden the bus to our house at the conclusion of his first day in first grade.  Imagine my surprise when the bus stopped at the end of our driveway, where I was, and the driver told me he had left Freddie at Stewart Middle School so he could ride with Betsy and Gus home.  He said he wasn’t sure anyone would be here.  This was more than strange since someone has been at this house every day for the past several years to meet Betsy and/or Freddie.  We quickly called Ann who was nearby, on her way to our house to pick him up.  What made this even more confusing is that we had talked to Ann prior to the bus arriving.  She told us that Betsy and Gus were already on their way home on the bus and were the only two students on the bus.  In other words, Freddie had been left at the middle school and none of his siblings were there.  Ann was not happy, to say the least.  Fortunately, Betsy and Gus had their phones with them.  When Ann called Betsy she said their bus was turning around because it had to go back and pick someone up who had been left behind.  It was Freddie!


Oh, the troubles we go through because Augusta County redistricted the Gutshall’s house out of the Clymore Elementary School district!  For everyone’s sake, I wish Freddie could catch the bus with Betsy and Gus every day.  That way, no one would have to be here.  But that won’t happen because the only reason Freddie is given permission to go to Clymore is because we are listed as his afterschool care and we live in the Clymore district.


I think the full story is simply that Freddie’s bus driver screwed up.  From now on, I think he’ll be dropping Freddie here on Tuesdays and Thursdays when he has in-person school.


This morning I made a trip to the bank.  The main branch of Wells Fargo in Harrisonburg, had been closed since the pandemic hit.  We have our safety deposit box there and I wanted to update the external hard drive I keep in it with new pictures and files.  Plus, Lynn’s passport needed to be returned to the box and I wanted to double check on some items for Lynn.  In order to do these things, I had to make an appointment to meet a Wells Fargo employee at the bank in order to get access to the box.  I had no trouble getting all of these done though it took longer than usual thanks to all the inconveniences I had to go through just to get in to the box.


What I had to check on for Lynn was to see if a copy of her Advanced Medical Directive was there.  It was.  I had copies of mine here but couldn’t find a copy of hers.  Likewise, I have copies of my will here at the house but she doesn’t.  Hers was in the safety deposit box so perhaps someday I’ll get copies of those documents, bring them home and copy them, then put them back.  Since it is somewhat of a hassle to do this now, requiring a bank appointment, I may wait until later.


This afternoon we had a third contractor come by to measure our windows and show us what his company offered.  Once we get this quote we’ll be deciding.  Our windows are really in bad shape.


Today is Josh’s birthday and to help Ann out we made a trip to Smiley’s Ice Cream to pick up an ice cream order she had purchased for him.  She worked all day, of course, then had to deal with the bus mixup plus cook a big dinner for the birthday boy and family.  When we got there all three kids who had been to school reported that it went OK for them today.


Today our lunatic President promoted a conspiracy theory he had described the day before about a supposed plane full of black-clad protesters he claimed had aimed to disrupt the Republican convention last week. He said that someone told him about a mysterious plane. “That person was on a plane, said that there were about six people like that person, more or less, and what happened is the entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, the rioters — people that obviously were looking for trouble,” Trump said before departing on Air Force One en route to Kenosha, Wisconsin.  He also told a reporter from Fox News that “people that are in the dark shadows” have “control” over his Democratic opponent for the presidency, former Vice President Joe Biden.  What a weirdo!


Yesterday I wrote that James Madison University, which just began classes a week ago, had 390 coronavirus cases already.  Tonight the big news is that JMU is stopping in-person classes.  According to a press release from the university, JMU will transition to primarily online learning, with some hybrid instruction for accreditation and licensure requirements, graduate research and specialized upper-class courses requiring equipment and space, through the month of September.  Classes will take place as scheduled for the remainder of the week unless students are otherwise notified by their instructors. In-person classes will transition to online no later than Monday, September 7. The release also says that residents will be asked to return home by September 7 unless they seek an exemption to stay.


I wonder how long it will take Augusta County Schools to do the same….


Here are today’s numbers:

September 1        Infected                   Died

World               25,888,249              860,249

US                       6,256,206              188,869

Virginia                121,615                  2,612

Augusta County          369                         4

The data shows an increase in US infections in the past 24 hours of over 50,000.  There were over 1,200 new deaths in the US and over 1,000 new cases in Virginia.  Plus, Virginia’s number of deaths were 32 in just one day—much higher than normal.  Are we winning or losing this battle?


September 2, 2020

Lynn has been on a wooden sign kick.  Two days ago she finished her “Happy Fall, Y’All” sign which will go on the front porch soon.  Yesterday she made another one for Christmas which she finished today.  She is such a crafty person!   They all look professionally done.


The news today was that JMU had over 500 cases of coronavirus in just one week of in-person classes.  That’s why they sent everyone back home for the month of September.  Dr. Fauci urged states to not let Labor Day celebrations ruin the fall.  Ohio had the largest single day jump since July with school reopening there.  But JMU’s idea of sending kids back home is what Dr. Fauci says “It’s the worst thing you could do…Keep them at the university in a place that’s sequestered enough from the other students,” he added. “But don’t have them go home because they could be spreading it in their home state.”


Today was an early day for us.  Lynn had an appointment at Augusta Health for an x-ray on her foot at 7:45 followed by a 8:15 appointment with the orthopedic doctor.  The doctor said that her foot was healing albeit slowly.  He told her to start wearing tennis shoes around the house but not to go on long walks with me yet.  I guess this is what we both expected.


Today was Henry’s day to attend school for the first time since March.  He wanted to go on the Wednesday-Friday schedule because most of his friends were on that plan.  I hope Fort Defiance High School students do a better job of social distancing than some of the pictures that were on the news today of other schools.


ABC news ran a story about the false claim that the coronavirus death totals are exaggerated:

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report is being twisted by conspiracy theorists to imply the COVID-19 death toll is not as serious as it sounds, health experts say. In response, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other medical authorities say unequivocally that at least 180,000 Americans have died because of this virus.  And if anything, the figure is likely an undercount, say health experts. “Let there not be any confusion,” Fauci said after President Donald Trump retweeted an article that inaccurately suggested the real number of COVID-19 deaths is 9,000. “It’s not 9,000 deaths from COVID-19. It’s 180,000-plus deaths,” Fauci told Good Morning America. “The point that the CDC was trying to make was that a certain percentage of [deaths] had nothing else but COVID,” Fauci said. “That does not mean that someone who has hypertension, or diabetes who dies of COVID didn’t die of COVID-19. They did.”


A school that I have direct ties to just lost its secretary to COVID-19.  She was at Montcalm High School, which absorbed my alma mater Bramwell High School when it closed.  Montcalm is the school where the Hill family scholarship has been given for the past forty years in memory of our parents.  Mercer County (WV) has had 24 deaths from COVID-19; the other 23 occurred at a nursing home in Princeton.


As usual, Lynn went to help her mother with lunch today.  While she was gone, I decided to walk, something I have done very little of since she broke her foot.  My plan was to walk the one mile out and back for two miles.  When I passed the Michael’s house, the dog Remy came running at me, as he typically does when he isn’t tied up or in the house.  After I got past him, I decided that I didn’t want to fight him again on the way back so I’d keep walking on the Leaport loop.  This is the opposite direction that Lynn and I typically walk the 3.5 miles circuit and it means that three miles out I’d be coming to the steepest part of the route as you ascend up Limestone Road to Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church.  My legs didn’t hurt that much but I discovered that today is horribly humid.  I made it without stopping but really sweated.   By the. end of the day I had accumulated around 4.5 miles and 11,300 steps.


Part of those steps were earned cutting the grass since I did both the riding and pushing.  This year has been terrible for grass cutting.  I have to cut every 4-5 days and even then the yard looks bad.  And what happened as I finished mowing today?  It rained again.  Tomorrow’s forecast includes a tornado warning.  What’s next?


Tomorrow is September 3, the day we were supposed to be leaving on our Brazil and Argentina trip.  Maybe next year…  Brazil is almost as bad as the US in terms of handling coronavirus.


The CDC sent a letter to state health officials saying they should be ready to issue a vaccine by November 1.  Is this just a coincidence that the election takes place on November 3?   Critics worry that the vaccine might be rushed.  Dr. Fauci said the end of the year is a better time frame.


Here are today’s numbers:


September 2        Infected                   Died

World               26,150,138              866,020

US                       6,295,733              189,892

Virginia                122,542                  2,641

Augusta County          372                         4


Another thousand Americans dead since yesterday.  Almost 900 more Virginians infected in 24 hours and 29 more dead.  This is a broken record—same old, same old.


Tonight was Zoom night for the Hill family.  Ann’s family didn’t join but the others did.  Jim and boys didn’t last the full time but we enjoyed chatting with Thomas, Georgia, and Kay.


September 3, 2020

Lynn has been interpreting for many Rockingham County Schools’ IEP meetings lately.  She had three yesterday and another one today, all via Zoom.  She amazes me when she does this.  On the call will be a Hispanic mother, SPED teacher, principal, perhaps another teacher or specialist, and Lynn.  The only way the mom can understand anything the others say is via Lynn.  And she is quick—whether she’s asked to relay conversation or read from a document that is shared.  Either way, her Spanish skills are so superb!  I don’t know who leaves the call with more appreciation, the teachers or the mother.  Actually, I think I am the one who appreciates her the most.


The Gutshall kids have made it through three days of school so far.  Freddie loves his school so much he wishes it would meet five days a week instead of two.  I met the bus at the end of our driveway today.  Ann wasn’t far behind picking him up.


I spent time today at Central UMC getting some files that are needed in order for Central to request forgiveness for one of the US Government PPP loans.  We just have to provide evidence that despite the coronavirus epidemic the church did not reduce staff or reduce salaries.  The bookkeeper, Maddie, wasn’t there when I got there so I logged onto the treasurer’s computer and found the files I thought I would need.


When I got back home I found that I need more evidence so I’ll be making another trip there tomorrow.  I do have a desire and need to learn QuickBooks so I can act as a backup for the church in using the financial software.  I watched the first 25% of a four hour tutorial on it this afternoon.


Our President, speaking to fans of his in North Carolina, said that they should vote by mail then try to vote in person, too.  He was trying to make the point that the mail-in process was corrupt and they would likely be able to vote again in person.  But what he asked every one of them to do is to commit voter fraud, a crime.  Can you believe this idiot?  Dan Rather posted that it was illegal to vote twice but not to get impeached twice.


Tonight John and Ginny Bauman came over to swing and talk.  John lost his mother last week so both families had something in common.  We chatted for nearly two hours.  It was nice having another couple to talk with.


Here are the daily statistics:

September 3        Infected                   Died

World               26,456,505              872,473

US                       6,334,593              191,027

Virginia                123,668                  2,652

Augusta County          373                         4

Nearly 40,000 new cases in the US and over 1,000 new deaths.  Virginia has over 1,000 new cases.   I think I can just copy and paste those sentences every day now.


September 4, 2020

I spent most of the morning at Central UMC.  First I recorded the congregational prayer I had written for this Sunday’s (virtual) service.  Then I logged onto the Treasurer’s computer and produced some additional documents I needed for the PPP loan forgiveness application.  I also scanned some other documents to a flash drive then uploaded all of these documents to the online form for applying for the $18,237 loan to be forgiven.  I submitted it before lunch and got back a reply from our local bank that it all looked good.  The government has 90 days to reply.


After I got back I decided to make a run to the trash dump.  We had our normal load but the Gutshalls had a huge load.  They must be cleaning out in preparation for moving though it will likely be after October when they move.


Lynn had some friends over this morning while I was at Central.  She had another friend who planned to come over this afternoon but, no surprise, it rained again.  I guess I’ll be cutting grass in another two or three days.


Now that there’s a hint of a coronavirus vaccine that may be ready by the end of the year there’s a discussion about who should get vaccinated first.  I believe the plan is to vaccinate front line health care workers first, followed by nursing home residents and others at a high risk of infection.  I wonder if I’ll be in that category with my respiratory history.  I’m anxious for the vaccine to be available, of course, but I also want hard evidence that it hasn’t been rushed to the public without sufficient testing.  Who knows what long term effects any vaccine could have?  We’ve only had this virus for around nine months.


We had another great dinner featuring rib eye steak from the grill, corn on the cob, baked tomatoes, and a salad.  No wonder I weighed a little up this morning.


After dinner we went to Kohl’s in Waynesboro.  We had nothing else going on and Lynn had a $10 coupon so we went there to buy some wash cloths.  She also got some paint at Michael’s.  She has making more porch signs in her plans.


Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 4        Infected                   Died

World               26,722,291              877,229

US                       6,378,419              191,809

Virginia                124,779                  2,662

Augusta County          380                         4

I read one projection today that the US will have 400,000 deaths by the end of the year.  We had 800 more today.  I did the math and if we keep this up we’ll be near 300,000.   Another 1,100 cases in Virginia.  No surprise.  I wonder if any of the 7 new cases in Augusta County were connected to a school.  Augusta County still looks much better than Rockingham and Harrisonburg where the total number of cases is near 2,000.   There are over 50 deaths there and nearly 200 still hospitalized.  RMH must be near full.  I’m glad we went to the Waynesboro Kohl’s instead of the Harrisonburg store.


The weather has taken a turn for cooler temperatures.  It is supposed to be in the 50’s overnight and highs for the next two days not getting out of the 70’s.  There is no sign of rain for the first time in weeks.


September 5, 2020

What a beautiful day!  Low humidity, nice temperature, no rain.


One of the tasks we did in the morning was to change some travel plans we had for 2021.  We had booked a vacation with Globus for September taking us to Brazil and Argentina featuring a stop at Igwasu Falls.  But given how bad coronavirus has ravaged Brazil, we decided to change this trip to a Lisbon – Northern Spain – Barcelona trip in July.  Fortunately, Globus was able to make this change, and supposedly transferred the deposit we made for the first trip to the second.  I say supposedly because we later got an e-mail from Globus showing that we had a deposit due on this new trip by Monday, September 7.  It didn’t show that our original deposit had been transferred.  I emailed the agent but we haven’t heard back from him yet.


Today I finished a task I had begun yesterday of fixing the water damage to the walls and ceiling in our living room.  There wasn’t that much that some spackling and paint didn’t fix though it took a little while and multiple coats of spackling.  I still had the paint from when we had painted the living room in 2007.  I also had to cover up some water marks on the ceiling.  I had bought some paint specifically for that task and it seemed to work.  I’d have to say that the room looks much better now.


With such good weather I felt like I had to get outside today.  So while Lynn and her friend Cheryl did some work on Lynn’s Cricut machine, I went to Fort Defiance High School and walked 12 laps around the football field.  Then I drove across the street to Stewart Middle School and walked one lap around the trail there and then around the school itself.  By the end I had walked 11,335 steps, 5.2 miles.  Since most of it was level it wasn’t that hard.  Lynn doesn’t like to walk around the football field—she says it is too boring.  I don’t mind because my mind is on freeplay the entire time I’m walking so it doesn’t really matter to me where I’m walking.


I’ve enjoyed listening to Sirius Music Channels 58 and 59 lately.  Both play older country music which I like.  In mid-July I wrote about how we had re-subscribed to Sirius after they sent us an offer to come back for $5 per month.  I play it on the Amazon Echo in the kitchen we got for free when we re-subscribed with them.   I also listen to it on my radio (through my phone) when I’m in the car.  Lynn does the same since her car has the original radio with Sirius on it.


Lynn has been working on another one of her signs.  Actually she’s creating signs on the back sides of the signs she has already made.  For example, on the back of her “Happy Fall, Y’all” sign she’s doing one which says “Give Thanks” for Thanksgiving.  Her signs are quite professional looking, as I’ve said before.  She and her Cricut are a good combination.


Tomorrow Lynn plans to stain her Pergola.  Her friend Cheryl is going to help her and I know I will, too.


People are better nowadays about wearing masks.  I’ve noticed this when we go out because I typically stay in the car while Lynn goes in to stores.  Last night, for example, we were at Kohl’s and Michael’s in Harrisonburg.  Previously we were at Lowe’s and Walmart in Staunton.  I’d estimate that 95% of the customers wore their masks.  Of course, signs at every store say they are required but no one seems to enforce that.  The other interesting thing is that at least 10% of those who wear masks wear them improperly, usually by not covering up their noses.


Our grandson Thomas got his first haircut since the pandemic began today.  Kay sent us before and after pictures.  He looks great now.


There wasn’t a lot of news today about COVID-19.  I don’t think that’s because it is more under control.  I think it is just because the stories are so repetitive.  For example, here are today’s repetitive statistics:

September 5        Infected                   Died

World               27,018,734              882,699

US                       6,427,289              192,784

Virginia                125,727                  2,677

Augusta County          382                         4

As usual, there are 5,000 more deaths internationally, near 1,000 more in the US, another and 1,000 new cases in Virginia.  Augusta County now has 20 people currently hospitalized.  That doesn’t sound good.  Virginia had 15 deaths in the past 24 hours.  I hope the news media hasn’t become callous regarding these statistics.  I don’t think I am.


ABC news said tonight that the number of coronavirus cases is still rising in thirty states.  Health officials are concerned that all the Labor Day celebrations taking place this weekend will lead to more outbreaks.


September 6, 2020

Today was Sunday so I had responsibilities this morning playing the piano for Sunday School via Zoom.  It was another beautiful day, low humidity, and temperatures in the low 80’s.


This afternoon Henry, Betsy, and Cheryl Kent came over and the five of us started staining the Pergola.  I had disconnected the swings and gotten them out of the way so the five of us got the entire frame stained.  It took about two hours and we used nearly the entire gallon of stain.  So when we finished Lynn and I ordered another gallon of stain for pickup at Lowe’s for the swings.  We went there tonight and picked it up.


I actually spent over an hour after dinner staining one of the five swings.  It wasn’t easy because there are all kinds of tough-to-reach sections and shiny bolts to be avoided.  I got the one swing pretty well finished though there are some areas which need touching up.  Lynn came out just as I was finishing and found several places she wants redone.  Lynn is much more of a perfectionist than I am when it comes to this sort of thing.  It’s probably a good thing because I know I tend to go too fast with many jobs.  However, without getting mad about it, I told her that tomorrow she and Cheryl can do the other four swings.


Lynn has been finishing up another of her signs today—the Thanksgiving sign which is on the back side of the Fall sign.  Showing her perfectioinist nature, she has redone it several times from scratch and finally has it the way she wants it.


I keep telling her that she can’t be that much of a perfectioinist because she is married to me and I have many flaws.  I’m sure she’d like to have me redone from scratch.


Lynn has continued to help her mother with lunch.  Mrs. Hanger’s health is basically the same as it has been for the past couple of weeks.  It isn’t particularly good since she needs help with so many daily functions, but it isn’t getting worse, apparently.


This evening Kay texted us and asked if we could meet her and her family tomorrow halfway between our houses, perhaps around Front Royal.  Lynn got her sister Jane to take the lunchtime duties so we plan to go.


There’s not much news today about the coronavirus.  Like last night, I hope we’re not forgetting about it.  Here are the daily statistics:

September 6        Infected                   Died

World               27,275,151              887,094

US                       6,458,906              193,214

Virginia                126,926                  2,678

Augusta County          385                         4

The numbers show a little lower increase today than we’ve seen.  Let’s hope the trend continues.


September 7, 2020

WVU suspended 29 students and switched from in-person to virtual classes today in the midst of an uptick in coronaviruses in Morgantown.  They are scheduled to return to in-person classes in three weeks.


Today was Labor Day.  Kay texted us and asked if we could meet them earlier than she had requested last night because they had an appointment at noon to pick apples in an orchard near Winchester.  We suggested that we just meet them at the orchard and they agreed.  So we left home around 9:00, stopped at a Jo Ann fabric store in Winchester so Lynn could buy some things on sale, then got to the orchard around 10:45.  The Foys weren’t far behind.


We had a very good visit with them.  As it turned out, I went apple picking with them while Lynn stayed behind with her broken foot.  We ate a good lunch there.  Lynn and I had taken our usual yogurt lunch but we also bought some apple pie flavored ice cream.  Kay and family got some sandwiches at the orchard market and we enjoyed a good picnic lunch there.  I was able to take some good photos.


The apples that we picked were Honeycrisp.  I don’t know that I’d ever had any of this variety before.  They were crisp and very sweet—quite delicious.  They were also expensive.  They were $2.49 if you picked them yourself and $2.99 for pre-picked ones.  Since I went to the orchard with Kay and her family, we got around 1/3 of a bushel.  The cost was around $1 per apple.


After our great visit with Thomas, Georgia, Kay, and Andy, we drove back home where Cheryl Kent met us shortly after we returned, around 3:30.  She, Lynn, and I spent the next three hours staining the swings on the Pergola.  The swings weren’t easy to stain because they have narrow slats that you have to get stained on all four sides plus chains and bolts to avoid.  But we got it done although I didn’t finish cleaning up until 8:00 tonight.  I had picked up hamburgers from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike Market for our dinner while Lynn and Cheryl finished the last of the swings.


I wish I could say our work on the Pergola is over but I think we’re going to give the swings a coat of polyurethane just for the sake of keeping them from weathering.  I don’t know when that will happen.  The Pergola looks very good now with all of the posts, beams, and swings each coated with a cedar colored stain.


Our holiday today consisted of just these two events—visiting with Kay & family at the Winchester orchard and staining the remaining four of the five Pergola swings.  All in all it was a good Labor Day.


Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 7        Infected                   Died

World               27,479,194              896,421

US                       6,485,567              193,534

Virginia                127,571                  2,684

Augusta County          384                         4

Virginia’s numbers look better than usual—under 600 new cases and only 6 additional deaths from the previous day.  Augusta County’s number of infections actually went down by one—must have been an error in the previous day’s numbers.


September 8, 2020

Ordinarily today would be a “back to normal” day.  It is the first workday after Labor Day.  Schools are back in session most everywhere though most are virtual.  It is hard to call this a normal day, though.  Oh, how we long for normal!  Thomas and Georgia are in school, 100% online.  Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie are back in school two days per week with the rest virtual.  Faron and Coen started their Pre-School in person.


Lynn’s schedule today looked like a pre-COVID day.  She had two phone IEP meetings in the morning, followed by a meeting at Central UMC, then to Legacy to help her Mom with lunch.  Then she has another interpreting phone call in the afternoon.  My schedule was much lighter with only a Food Bank pickup scheduled.


I did some photo work in the morning, uploading pictures from yesterday’s visit with the Foys and some recent Pergola pictures.  It takes a while to get all of this done because the process involves several steps:  1.  Transfer the pictures from the camera to the downstairs iMac   2.  Upload each of them to the Photos app on that computer   3.  Create a new album with them on Photos   4.  Upload the pictures to Flickr    5.  Create a new Flickr album with them   6.  Edit the Flickr album, selecting which picture is to be used as the album’s representative picture and copying the album link   7.   Open my homepage (, sign in as administrator, and edit the list of albums by adding the new link   8.  Send a message including the link to those who might want to view it   9.  Review each of the pictures and select then copy those which should be added to my Favorites folder   10.  Copy the new folder and the new favorites to an external drive which is connected to the iMac   11.  Transfer the new album and favorites to my new laptop.  Eventually all new photos/albums will also be transferred to other external media including the hard drive in our safety deposit box.


From ABC news this morning, a little bit of improving news:  there were 24,257 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Monday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  It’s the first time since June 21 that the United States has reported under 30,000 new cases in a day. Monday’s tally is also far below the country’s record set on July 16, when there were 77,255 new cases in a 24-hour-reporting period.   An additional 267 coronavirus-related fatalities were also recorded Monday, the country’s lowest daily death toll since July 4 and down from a peak of 2,666 new fatalities reported on April 17.


When I went to the orchard yesterday with Kay and her family, we chatted for a while about her visit last weekend with Butch.  She told me she had noticed how different the two of us are.  For example, she said that he is much more outgoing and personable.  He had taken her to various places and, at each, she said he had many friends whom she was introduced to.  In confess, I have very few close friends.  In fact, I think it is fair to say that I only have one, Lynn.  I am just not comfortable in social settings like he is.


That being said, one thing has happened recently that has helped me.  And it came as a surprise.  I will fully admit that I was not in favor of building the pergola.  I thought it was a frivolous addition to our backyard, would be lots of work for me to construct, and would mean grass cutting inconveniences for the rest of my life here.  Of course, Jim was the real hero in getting it built.  Since the pergola has gone up we have had more people visit us in the yard than we have had in the 32 years we have lived here.  I doubt that I can remember them all, but here is at least a partial list:  John and Ginny Bauman, Cheryl Kent, Cheryl Wright, Mary Gooden, Jan Painter, and Pat Collins.  Tonight, Bee and Janet Myers came down to swing and talk.  Later this week some old friends who now live in eastern Virginia, Howard and Carolyn Miller are coming.  Next weekend our covenant group, consisting of five couples, is coming over.  One positive thing about COVID-19 is that it has encouraged outdoor meetings and our pergola has fit the bill!


Lynn has been working on yet another sign today.  This one says “Let it Snow.”  It is on the back side of her Christmas sign.  As usual, it looks very professionally done.


I’ve told Lynn that I fully expect Trump to come up with some nefarious hoax/plan in the last two months prior to the election.  We’re in that period now so I’m still wondering what he’ll do.  I’m sure he’ll announce some coronavirus vaccine prior to November 3.  Lynn thinks he’ll try to ramrod through Congress another pandemic relief package which will put money in everyone’s pocket, making them happy with him so they’ll vote for him.  But I think he’ll resort to some dirtier tricks; I’m just not sure what this will be.  I’m looking for him to come out with some big lie about Biden or other “discovery” that will make him look good because right now, according to the pollsters, he’s behind.


Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 8        Infected                   Died

World               27,721,061              900,845

US                       6,513,302              194,013

Virginia                128,407                  2,686

Augusta County          387                         4

Again the data is improving, though not good.  The US had under 500 new deaths compared to the 1,000+ I had been reporting for weeks.  Virginia only added two though there were over 800 new cases.  Augusta County is creeping towards 400 infections though the number of deaths has remained at four for quite some time.


September 9, 2020

Lynn had a full schedule today but we began with an early trip to Costco.  We had lots of items to get both for ourselves and for Central UMC.  It was a quick and seemingly safe trip.


When we got back, I started working on some of my picture files while Lynn had her Zoom meetings.  She had four in all today, all IEP updates that came about because of Rockingham County Public Schools changed its daily schedule due to coronavirus.  As I’ve said before, she handles these meetings extremely well.


The work I’m doing on my pictures is all selfishly done and is work I enjoy.  The Macs I have allow you to set a folder as the target folder for its screen saver.  When the screen saver kicks in, it displays multiple pictures from the target folder, changing each picture every couple of seconds.  It makes for a great way to display your favorite photos.  Indeed, that’s what I’ve done for the past several years—created a folder, for example, called 2019 Favorites in which I’ve put a copy of my favorite photos from all the photos I took during the year.  For my screen saver on my big screen iMac, I created a folder called Recent Favorites and inside that folder dropped the 2020 Favorites, 2019 Favorites, 2018 Favorites, 2017 Favorites, and 2016 Favorites.  Now the screen saver randomly picks photos from any of these nested enclosed folders and displays them.  It gives me a snapshot of many places we’ve gone in the past five years, family events, grandkids, celebrations, etc.  Plus, since all of the photos are good ones—those I’ve handpicked to be my favorites—the photos are all pleasant to view.  Well, nearly all except the 2016 Favorites.  I had not done a job with the 2016 Favorites folder.  I had merely copied all photos in that folder from an event I wanted to highlight, whether the photos were good or not.  And I had left out lots of things we did in 2016 such as our Peru trip.  So for the past day or so I have cleaned up the 2016 Favorites folder, making sure that all the photos in there were good ones and making sure all of the 2016 events were included.  It was fairly easy to do since I have all of my pictures arranged by events, such as 2016 Peru or 2016 Thanksgiving.


This job has given me something to do anytime I have spare time—work on creating a 2015 Favorites folder, then a 2014 Favorites, etc.  When the screen saver kicks in you get a really nice mix of pictures featuring the kids at different ages.  Plus you can manually kick off the screen saver by moving the pointer to any of the four extreme corners of the screen.   On the big screen iMac the pictures look especially nice.  Of course, I can copy my Recent Favorites folder to each of our laptops when I want to.


I worked on the pictures for quite a while, almost too long.   Near 3:00 I realized that it was going to rain later today and likely each day for the next several days.  It hasn’t rained for the past four or five days so it was important for me to get our grass mowed today.  Plus, we were getting company tonight and I wanted the yard to look good.  So for the next 90 minutes I mowed, both riding and pushing, and finished just in the nick of time to head to Penn Laird to pick up our pizza.


We had previously arranged with Howard and Carolyn Miller that we’d have pizza here when they stopped here at 5:45. We’ve done several things with them in the past including a couple of bike rides.  Carolyn not only taught with Lynn at Cub Run Elementary but is an excellent artist.  We have three of her paintings framed in our bedroom.  Howard is a Mennonite minister, a very bright and easy-to-talk-to fellow.  We enjoyed their company a lot.  We ate some Smiley’s sorbet for dessert.


No sooner did they leave than it was time to start the family Zoom meeting as we do each Wednesday night.  Everyone was able to join us tonight which made for an enjoyable call.  What a good day this was!


Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 9        Infected                   Died

World               28,019,771              907,919

US                       6,549,475              195,239

Virginia               129,289                  2,697

Augusta County          398                         4

The number of cases in the US is still dropping but there were over 1,000 new deaths.  In Virginia, the number of cases is back to around 800 and there were 11 new deaths.


AstraZeneca was one of the companies in Phase 3 of vaccine testing.  But the news now is that they’ve had to suspend its Phase 3 testing because a woman who was given the vaccine developed some weird neurological issue.  The issue may or may not be related to the vaccine, it was reported.  Some in the medical field said this is actually good news because it shows that safety is coming first in the vaccine trials, not politics.


We both were up much later than usual this evening.  We even made a trip to Kroger in which we didn’t get back home until after 9:30. Usually we were in bed by then.  Lynn continues to do lots of craft work during her spare time though she doesn’t have much spare time thanks to all of the IEP meetings she is having via Zoom.


September 10, 2020

Today turned out to be more pleasant than forecast.  I thought it was going to be another rainy day especially since it rained a lot overnight but the day was actually very nice.


I spent four hours today at Central trying to learn more about QuickBooks and fix the errors that our new bookkeeper had made.  It took me a long time but I actually think I got the books in much better shape.  The reports now correctly show her salary—before since she started working the monthly reports showed her as being paid nothing although she was receiving checks twice each month.  And she had several other entries in the ledger coded incorrectly but I think all is well now.  I’m feeling much better about stepping in to do that kind of work if I need to in the future.  Like I’ve said before, I am not looking for another job but would like to be a backup for the person who sits in the bookkeeper’s seat.


That’s probably all I can attest to getting done of any value today—an easy, boring day.  I did meet Freddie’s bus in the afternoon along with Josh.  The four of us had a good chat on the pergola.


I also cooked some baked potatoes and grilled t-bone steaks for dinner.  Yum!  We really do eat well nowadays.


After dinner I drove Lynn into Staunton so she could visit with her Mom.  Unlike me, she had a very busy day again today, doing some IEP meetings plus some training with Albemarle County Schools, with whom she does the Migrant Ed tutoring of her student, Juan Pablo, at Waynesboro High School.  She also talked with Juan Pablo on the phone.  Sometime he won’t answer her calls but with school starting there are a few things he must do so Lynn stays on top of it.  His teachers will e-mail her if he isn’t getting his work done or is missing class.  Missing class nowadays means not signing into the online portal when the class is taught.


Jim commented last night that teaching virtually isn’t all that bad.  He says he doesn’t have any classroom management problems because he can always just mute a student who is making noise.  What a blessing it would be to have this option in an in-person classroom!


In a series of interviews with Bob Woodward, whose book Rage is being released very soon, Donald Trump acknowledged in February that coronavirus was much deadlier than the flu and that he deliberately downplayed the virus to the American public so as to not create panic.  This is a mighty flimsy excuse he’s come up with to defend how inept his initial response was to COVID-19.  Had he been honest with the American public, been more forceful from the beginning, maybe we wouldn’t be looking at 180,000+ American deaths now.  That’s not just what I believe, it’s what the Biden campaign is now arguing.  “He knew how dangerous it was, and while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose.  It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people,” Biden said.


Next week I’ve made arrangements to start working on the annual Central UMC audit.  This usually takes Sam Richardson and me at least two full days to get done.  Hopefully we won’t run into any headaches for the books from 2019.  This time next year we’ll be auditing the 2020 books and that may prove to be more of a job because there are likely other issues like the one I spent four hours working on today.


Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 10      Infected                   Died

World               28,288,753              912,659

US                       6,583,407              196,089

Virginia               130,525                  2,708

Augusta County          408                         4

Virginia’s total infections are up over 1,200 cases in one day.  The number of deaths in the US increased by 800.  Augusta County hasn’t had more deaths in a while but still has 20 hospitalizations.  Rockingham County and Harrisonburg have over 200.


ABC news reported that at least six teachers have died due to coronavirus since school opened this fall.  And yet Augusta County schools are still open for in-person classes…


September 11, 2020

This is the 19th year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy that took place in New York, Washington, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  I remember being at Turner Ashby High School that day working in their library when we noticed the news on the tv screen.  It was certainly a very low period in American history.  An even lower period is what we’ve been going through since February of this year.


I’m still angry at our President for lying to the American people in February.  He knew, he knew that coronavirus was extremely dangerous and spread quickly through the air yet he told the American public things like it was a Democratic hoax, it wasn’t a serious disease any more than the flu, and that America had it all under control.  In February he said it would all be over soon.  Now here we are, over 180,000 Americans dead thanks to his inept and untruthful response.  There are over 11 million fewer jobs than when the pandemic hit.  Schools are a wreck.  Travel has ground to a halt.  And he still makes no apologies for his coverup; he just says he was trying to keep people from panicking.  They should have panicked.  They still should.


I do mourn the lives lost nineteen years ago.  But keep these statistics in mind:  the 9/11 tragedy was a one day event that cost America 3,000 lives.  COVID-19 is a six month nightmare which has already cost over sixty times the number of lives than 9/11.  And it is nowhere near its end.  The CDC says that by October 3 we may have as many as 217,000 dead.  Worldwide, we lose over 5,000 every day due to the virus.


Lynn and I returned to Costco during the senior hour this morning.  It wasn’t very crowded and we weren’t rushed so we had a chance to browse for a while.


I spent over an hour back at Central today working with QuickBooks.  I found two errors that Central’s bookkeeper made in July which cause errors in monthy reports for July and August. The errors are relatively minor and don’t affect bank balances but are related to the account to which checks were charged.  I had found several similar errors yesterday which were easy to fix.  The two today won’t be so easy—they have to do with a check was written with QuickBooks for each but it should have been a “payroll liability check” instead of a standard check.  I couldn’t figure out how to fix this while I was at the church today but when I got home I found a series of steps online that will enable this to be remedied.  I guess next week I’ll sit down with the bookkeeper and get this taken care of.  I’ll be there a good bit anyway since we’re doing the church audit several days during the week.  Once again I enjoyed learning more about QuickBooks.


This afternoon I did a one mile walk, the first I’ve done in several days.  I hope to make this a regular occasion over the next week.  The weather forecast for next week is good.


I also made a trip to the dump taking our trash and the Gutshall’s.  This gave me a chance to check on Betsy, Freddie, and Gus since they were home by themselves all day.  They were fine.


This evening I placed an online pickup order for Lowe’s for two items.  One was a package of cup hooks that I plan to use to hold the solar lights to the pergola.  The lights were ordered on Amazon and will be here next Wednesday.  I also ordered some Drano for our shower drain which sometimes needs some assistance.  After dinner we picked our order up.


Lowe’s has never had good customer service, in my opinion.  Sometimes when I’m in the store I can’t find anyone to help or answer my questions.  But I will say that their pickup service has been great.  I place an order online, drive there, call to let them know which space I’m parked in, and someone brings my order out to the car.  Today the young lady at one point came out and told me they were having trouble locating the Drano I had ordered but she, like me, had seen that supposedly they had nine of them in stock.  A few minutes later out she came with the item in her hand.  It is a good service.  We’ve had good experiences with Walmart and Kroger pickup, too.


Here are the statistics for today:

September 11      Infected                   Died

World               28,604,124              918,116

US                       6,627,706              197,223

Virginia               131,640                  2,711

Augusta County          414                         4

Another twelve hundred Americans lost their lives due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.  Another thousand Virginians became infected with it since yesterday.


There are a hundreds of thousands of people in the west told to evacuate due to the huge fires there.  There have been entire cities burned down and scores of deaths.  Three dozen fires are burning in Oregon with dozens of people missing.  Half a million, ten percent of the Oregon population, have been told to evacuate.  California has several mammoth fires, too, with many homes burned.  The air quality is awful in California, Oregon, and Washington.  Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco are blanketed in smoke and have the world’s worst air quality.  The California governor blames much of this fire damage on climate change which has left his state in such a tinder state.


Our non-empathetic President has said nothing about the devastation in the west due to the fires.  Why?  Because California is a strong Democratic state and he only cares for those who support him.  He is not a President for all of America.


On ABC news tonight, the CDC says children can easily transmit COVID-19 from school to home.  A recent CDC study verified this.  Dr. Fauci says it will be well into 2021 before we’re back to normal and have been protected by a vaccine.  He said he would be happy if a vaccine were 70-75% effective.  He again emphasized that being in a group indoors endangers everyone.


September 12, 2020

Today had a busy morning and an afternoon I’ve been looking forward to for months.  The busy morning included a trip to Showalter’s Orchard in Timberville for my favorite apple, Golden Delicious, followed by a stop at the Popcorn store in Harrisonburg for Lynn, then to get some tomatoes at our favorite market, Overlook Produce.  We then got some ice cream at Smiley’s and headed home before noon.


At noon, WVU’s football season opened against Eastern Kentucky at Morgantown.  The game was so unusual—no fans were allowed except for family.  Eastern Kentucky was not a tough opponent—they lost 59-0 last week against Marshall.  Thus, anything closer to that score would be proof that Marshall is as good as WVU, something that no Mountaineer would want to admit, true or not.  The final was 56-10 and was an easy win for the Mountaineers.  Eastern Kentucky was no match.  The next eight games will be much tougher since they are against Big 12 opponents.  Their next game is in two weeks at Oklahoma State.


During the second half of the football game I worked on editing my 2015 Favorite pictures.  As I mentioned three days ago, this project is time intensive but I like the results.  My downstairs computer now randomly chooses favorite pictures of mine to display from 2015 through 2020.  I guess I’ll work on 2014 next.


Lynn and I watched the women’s finals of the US Open this afternoon between Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka.  Like the WVU football game, there were no fans to watch.  This is so strange!  The match went to three sets.  Osaka won 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.


This report from ABC news doesn’t really come as a surprise but it worth restating:  As restaurants attempt to keep their kitchens open amid the pandemic, a new study has linked a possible increased risk of infection to dining out.  The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined close-contact exposures contributing to the spread of the virus, and it found that adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to have reported eating at a restaurant within 14 days of infection compared with those who tested negative.  Interestingly, the research found that eating inside at a restaurant was more related to transmission of the disease than other activities such as shopping, gatherings in a home, using public transportation, or going to an office setting, salon, gym, or church or religious gathering.  Though prior to the pandemic Lynn and I frequently ate at restaurants, this research certainly gives us reason to continue to avoid that now.


North Dakota and South Dakota lead the country in new COVID-19 cases per capita over the last two weeks, ranking first and second respectively, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.  As ABC news put it, the Republican governors of both states have eschewed mask requirements, tapping into a spirit of independence hewn from enduring the winters and storms of the Great Plains.  The South Dakota governor, Kristi Noem, has never been seen wearing one.


Here are today’s numbers:

September 12      Infected                   Died

World               28,896,556              923,385

US                       6,670,395              197,972

Virginia               132,940                  2,722

Augusta County          421                         4

The results are so predictable:  another 43,000 infections in the US in one day and 700 deaths.  Virginia has 1,300 new cases and 11 more deaths in the past 24 hours.  Augusta County has 21 people currently hospitalized.


And, here’s a story in the Staunton News Leader today about Augusta County Schools:

Augusta County now has a second positive case of COVID since the beginning of the school year.   Soon after confirming that there was a case at Wilson Memorial High School this week, Superintendent Eric Bond confirmed by email that there was also a case at Hugh K. Cassell Elementary School.

“A parent at Cassell Elementary School has reported their child’s diagnosis with COVID-19,” Bond wrote in an email. “The division has worked with the local health department to assist in contact tracing. This individual was not on school premises when the symptoms began and it is believed he/she contracted the virus within the community.”  Bond said that the Virginia Department of Health determined that, based on the timeline of the illness, there was no exposure in the classroom or at school.

It just keeps creeping closer and closer to us…  I remember early on when Augusta County had no cases.


September 13, 2020

This was a typical Sunday for me including playing the piano via Zoom for the CUMC Sunday School Class.  For Lynn, it was a superbly productive day.  She froze tomatoes, baked bread, made an apple cake, washed several loads of clothes, cut my hair, and helped her Mom with lunch.


I mentioned yesterday that I worked on editing my 2015 Favorite pictures.  I finished them and did the 2014 Favorites today.  I’ve now begun the 2013 ones.  It is so much fun for me to see these old pictures which remind me of where we’ve been to and how the kids looked when they were much younger.  I’m also reminded of how much more I used to weigh!


Lynn invited the Gutshalls over tonight because we’ve seen so little of them lately since school has started.  The apple cake she made was enjoyed by all of us.  It is always good to see and talk with them.


I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to a barber shop now that Lynn has been cutting my hair.  She does a fine job—as good as what I’ve gotten in a barber shop.  Currently, we do have to borrow the clipper set from the Gutshalls.  When we first looked, a few months ago in the height of the pandemic, they weren’t available on Amazon.  I just checked and put a set in our Amazon cart.  However, it does say that it will ship in 3-5 weeks.


I discovered something interesting today.  I looked in the driveway and saw that all of the windows in my Honda Civic were rolled down.  I did not do this.  This happened one other day.  Perplexed, I looked online and found the answer.  Honda made their key fobs with the ability to do this.  If I click on the unlock key twice quickly then hold it down with the third click, the windows roll themselves down.  Apparently I had accidentally done this today and previously.  At least the mystery is solved.  I’m not sure I like this option because if I were to accidentally do this on a rainy or snowy day my car’s interior could be messed up.


I’m a little concerned about Lynn’s foot.  This Tuesday will be seven weeks since she broke it.  She still keeps her foot in a boot and reports pain sometimes in the evenings.  She has tried to go a little while without the boot, as directed by her doctor, for the past week but every time she does her foot hurts.  I was hoping that she’d be back to walking a little by now.


Without her, I’ve walked very little in the past six and a half weeks.  What’s disappointing is that the weather is starting to be ideal for walking.  This week, for example, there is no rain in the forecast, low humidity, and highs in the 70’s each day.  Today I walked a little over two miles by myself but it just isn’t as much fun as when she walked with me.  We didn’t even talk all the time when we walked but still it is more fun to do it in her company.  Maybe I’m just making an excuse for being lazy now…


Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 13      Infected                   Died

World               29,254,001              927,696

US                       6,706,219              198,470

Virginia               133,814                  2,724

Augusta County          423                         4

The US totals are lower than usual.  Virginia still showed 900 new cases.


Nearly 5,000,000 acres have now burned in California, Oregon, and Washington.  There are 25 confirmed dead from the fires and there are dozens still missing.  The flames have incincerated at least six entire towns in Oregon.  Actually there are at least 100 different fires burning in ten different states.  From our local church, two of the young members, Brent and Marina Foltz, who are foresters have been sent to the west to help fight the fires.


ABC news reported that Pfizer says their vaccine could be ready by the end of the year.  Trump says the US is “rounding the final turn” in fighting the virus but Dr. Fauci disputes that.  Most Americans are skeptical of President Donald Trump’s performance on the coronavirus pandemic — disapproving of his response, disbelieving of his rhetoric on the virus and critical of what they view as his lagging approach to containing it, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday finds.  Trump’s approval for his handling of COVID-19 lands at 35% in the new survey, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, compared to 65% who disapprove. This marks the fourth straight poll with Trump’s COVID response approval hovering in the low-to-mid 30s since early July.


September 14, 2020

I spent the entire morning working on my Favorite picture project and finished it.  I discovered that in 2012 I had created a favorite picture folder then so I didn’t have to go back beyond 2013.  I did add some photos including some from the photos I converted in 2019 from old slides to digital, pictures from Jim’s and Kay’s rehearsal dinners that I had scanned of their childhood, and a collection I had of pictures of Lynn and me.  I ended up with 6,592 favorite pictures!  They are all neatly organized now and stored on multiple storage devices including my laptop, downstairs iMac, and external hard drive.  These pictures are one of my greatest possessions because they represent what a good life I’ve had with photos of family and destinations.   I’ll probably keep working on this project, fixing red-eye issues with some of my older photos and removing those pictures which aren’t clear.  All in all I think the result is in pretty good shape and I’m happy with it.


My end result is one huge folder called Favorite Pictures.  Inside that folder are these separate folders:  2020 Favorites, 2019 Favorites, 2018 Favorites, 2017 Favorites, 2016 Favorites, 2015 Favorites, 2014 Favorites, 2013 Favorites, 2012 Favorites, 1999 – 2011 Favorites, 1974 – 1980 Favorites, Jim’s Childhood, and Kay’s Childhood.  I know I spent nearly an hour today just watching my screen saver randomly display pictures from these folders.  I do love my pictures…


Today was Georgia’s 8th birthday.  We did a Facetime call in the evening with her.  We’ll do our best to go to her birthday party when we know when and where it will be.


I had a special Central Zoom meeting called for 7:00 this evening.  It had to do with allowing groups who formerly used our church for their activities plus responding to requests for some other groups to begin using it.  The major question was whether they can immediately resume using the building or should they wait until the morning worship services are scheduled to begin which is currently set for October 4.


I walked a little today, about a mile, up and back to Mount Pisgah UMC.    I also weighed this morning and found that I have picked up a couple of pounds.  Lynn went without her boot on her broken foot for a while today but it will still be a long while before we’re able to walk together.


Today’s statistics:

September 14      Infected                   Died

World               29,476,635              933,449

US                       6,749,406              199,018

Virginia               134,571                  2,743

Augusta County          429                         4


September 15, 2020

Today’s blog may not be very long because basically I spent most of the day working on Central UMC’s finances.  This includes working with Sam Richardson on the annual church audit for 2018 from 9:00 – 12:30, working with Maddie (CUMC Bookkeeper) fixing errors she had made in July in QuickBooks and changing her payroll setup from 12:30 – 2:00, and working at home on the audit again from 6:30 – 8:30.


The audit is not a simple process.  Sam and I have done this for many years and it always takes us days to get it done.  Central has money in three banking institutions:  City National where it has three checking accounts that have to be reconciled; First Bank where it has a large endowment which is used for mission funds, large maintenance jobs, and other general funds as necessary; and with Charles Schwab where we have two different investment accounts that are used for the Pastor’s housing allowance and for providing extra money for our apportionments.  In addition, there are two other sources of revenue from former members who left money in an account which pays its interest and dividends to us quarterly.  There are money market funds, United Methodist Women, and United Methodist Men all of which have financial records to be checked.


Today, we got January through June checked for all of the above except for the UMM and UMW accounts.  Those two accounts are very easy to audit and will probably take less than a half hour totaled.  But the other accounts each have their own quirks which make the process slow and tedious.


To be honest, what we really check with each account is that the bookkeeper and financial institution agree to the penny with all balances at the end of each month.  We also make sure that the numbers which are reported to the congregation by the bookkeeper are accurate.  Keep in mind that the bookkeeper can’t just report what the bank says we have because there might be outstanding checks or credits which aren’t on the bank statement.  So Sam and I check all this and summarize everything in a report for the entire year.


A true audit would go further.  It would look at the expenses, for example, to make sure all were appropriate and documented.  We do this kind of detail for the deposits but not for the expenses.  A true audit would check documentation for checks written and make sure that the church’s money is always spent wisely.  This is just too big a job for two old people like Sam and me.  I do not believe that Central’s income or disbursements are tainted in any way by fraud.


The only other thing I got done today was to install the solar lights we bought for the pergola.  We bought a string of lights containing 15 bulbs which are powered by a solar collector and connected by a 48 foot long cord.  I used metal cup holders to string the lights around the pergola’s braces at its top.  That way the lights can be easily removed in the winter.  The lights are mostly ornamental; they do not provide enough light to read by, for example, but they do keep those who are swinging from being in the pitch dark.  However, if we want pitch dark there is an on/off switch that can be flipped.


Lynn and I have discovered two very cheap ways to purchase prepared food.  For the three previous nights, our main meat course has been chicken.  All three nights’ supply of chicken came from the purchase of a single broiled chicken at Costco for $5.49.  Tonight we picked up our dinner from Cracker Barrel.  We both like their country ham meals.  We each get two country ham biscuits.  She gets a hash brown casserole and I get fried apples.  We also asked for three extra biscuits with jelly.  The total cost for this dinner for both of us was approximately $10.00.


Lynn had more IEP meeting interpreting today and is scheduled to do another one tomorrow.  Without her help, these meeting would not be taking place.  She does them all virtually so they’re easy for her to “attend.”  As I’ve said before, she is amazing in converting the English conversations and documents to/from Spanish, all on the fly.


COVID-19 is inching closer to us, I’m afraid.  Today Ann called us before Freddie got here on the bus and told us to be sure to keep him outside when he arrived.  It turns out that his elementary school, Clymore Elementary, has now had its first positive case.  All the parents were called, I understand, and she was told that Freddie was not in contact with the infected person.  Augusta County has had cases in four or five schools now.  I wonder how long it will be until the schools revert to 100% virtual….  I don’t know the answer to that but I’ll simply add that I hope they do before I get coronavirus.


On the one hand, it feels like the virus is stalking us, getting closer all the time.  On the other hand, if, indeed, our grandchildren aren’t within 10 feet of an infected person then they are as safe as if they weren’t within 10 miles of him, I suppose.  They’ve been within 10 miles of hundreds of infections lately, I’m sure.


Here are today’s numbers:

September 15      Infected                   Died

World               29,715,502              938,406

US                       6,787,737              200,178

Virginia               135,514                  2,839

Augusta County          437                         7

The local death numbers are frighteningly higher.  Virginia’s death total in one day increased by 96.  The Augusta County death total had been at 4 since July 28.  Today it jumped to 7.  The Virginia Department of Health had this announcement on its website today: “Regarding the death data for Tuesday, September 15, 2020, there is an existing data backlog.  VDH is working diligently to identify COVID-19 related deaths using vital record death certificate information.”  What do they mean?  Are there really more fatalities??


ABC news had this story on its website today: “An August 7 wedding and reception in Maine’s Millinocket region has been connected to 176 coronavirus cases, according to the state.  Seven coronavirus-related deaths have been linked to the wedding, according to Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention. None of those seven people attended the wedding, Maine’s CDC said.”  The way I read this is that a wedding was held with little or no regard to coronavirus safety.  The attendees then returned to their homes and spread COVID-19 to 176 people, 7 of whom have now died.  We’ve seen this repeated in so many similar ways:   a choir practice in Washington, a funeral in Georgia, and now a wedding in Maine.  What if the next scenario is a classroom in Virginia….


Tonight on ABC Trump held a town meeting with so-called undecided voters.  Really?  Is there anyone in America who hasn’t decided who he will vote for by now?


So much for this blog being shorter than I expected…


September 16, 2020

Our stupid President said during last night’s town hall meeting that coronavirus would just “go away.”  He contradicted himself saying he didn’t downplay the pandemic even after he was heard on tape telling Bob Woodward that he did exactly that.  He showed his ignorance by saying America would develop “herd mentality” without a vaccine when the correct term is “herd immunity” even though this won’t happen unless a majority of Americans are vaccinated.  Yet he is the one who calls Biden mentally incompetent.  How can anyone, ANYONE support this man?  I have no understanding whatsoever how a clear thinking adult can vote for him to return as President.  Those who did so the first time can be forgiven but I’ll have much more trouble with forgiveness the second time.  I know that’s not the Christian attitude but I am hoping we’ll get a much more Christian-like man in the office.


Sam and I worked from 8:30 until 1:30 but we got 99% of the audit behind us.  My work late last night helped make the morning go faster.  All we have left to do is to audit the United Methodist Women’s checking account which will only take a few minutes.  Sam and I are scheduled to do the weekly count this coming Monday so we’ll just finish the audit after we do the count.  I’m glad to have this behind us.


When I got home I cut our grass.  I can’t get over how often I’ve had to do that this year.  We have little to no rain forecast for the next week so maybe it will slow down now.  I hope so.


President Trump contradicted the CDC director Robert Redfield today.  Redfield said most Americans won’t get a vaccine until well into 2021.  Trump said he was planning on shipping doses in October.  Redfield said that it will not be generally available to the public until mid-2021.  Trump said he made a mistake when he said that and called Redfield confused.


In the town hall last night, Trump said some Americans don’t want to wear masks.  The CDC director said that they were the most important tool we have.  He said that it is more guaranteed to protect him than a vaccine.  Trump again said Redfield is wrong.  This is his own CDC director that he contradicted twice today.


ABC news had an online article entitled “Wall Street does not represent Main Street.”  In the town hall meeting, Trump showed that he is pathetically ignorant about most Americans’ finances.  Here’s what he said: “Stocks are owned by everybody,” he said. “I mean, you know, they talk about the stock market is so good. That’s 401(k)s.”  Trump claimed the benefits of the stock market directly benefit everyone, when in fact the vast majority of stocks are owned by the rich. The wealthiest top 10% of American households own over 80% of stocks, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, and almost half of U.S. households don’t own any stock at all, including 401(k)s, according to the Survey of Consumer Finances. The unemployment rate skyrocketed from around 3% pre-pandemic to nearly 15% in April. It now sits at 8.4%, meaning more than half of the Americans who lost their jobs are still out of work. Consumer confidence is also down — a measure that show Main Street is struggling even if Wall Street is staying afloat.  Trump only cares about Wall Street, not the American public.  How can the rest of the population not see this?


Here are today’s statistics:

September 16      Infected                   Died

World               29,996,527              944,148

US                       6,824,089              201,231

Virginia               136,359                  2,884

Augusta County          443                         7

We’re back to same old, same old.  Over a thousand more deaths in the US in just one day.  Another 800 cases in Virginia.  Forty five more deaths in Virginia.


The wildfires in the west continue to ravage homes and businesses.  Entire cities have been burned.  The air quality there is awful.  Skies all the way to the east coast have a haze to them from the fires.


Tonight was Zoom night.  Kay joined in as did Jim.  Faron, Coen, Thomas, and Georgia had cameo appearances.  It was a good, though short, call.


September 17, 2020

It seems like every day I have more news to report about Trump’s stupidity and poor performance as our nation’s President.  Today is no exception.  In a news conference yesterday he blamed the Democratic states for the COVID-19 high numbers.  “So we’re down in this territory,” Trump said, pointing to a graph that the White House first unveiled in the spring which showed two estimated ranges of possible death tolls depending on efforts to slow the spread of the virus. “And that’s despite the fact that the blue states had had tremendous death rates. If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at. We’re really at a very low level. But some of the states, they were blue states and blue state-managed.”


The only bit of truth to this comment is that initially New York and New Jersey, both democratically controlled states, had the highest coronavirus cases and deaths.  And California, another blue state, now has high numbers.  But how about Texas and Florida, both red states?   The Washington Post jumped on this.  In an article today, the Post said “It is true that the early surge in deaths was heavily weighted toward states that had voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. New York and New Jersey in particular recorded hundreds of deaths a day in April, quickly contributing to the country’s total number of fatalities.  Over time, though, the percentage of total deaths that have occurred in blue states has dropped. The most recent data, through Tuesday, indicates that about 53 percent of deaths have occurred in blue states — meaning that 47 percent have occurred in red ones.”  The article goes on to say “In other words, more than 90,000 deaths have occurred in red states. If that were the country’s total, we would have seen the second-most number of deaths globally, trailing only Brazil. The United States would still be responsible for 11 percent of global deaths, despite constituting only about 4 percent of the world’s population.

Why has the ratio of blue-state to red-state deaths shifted? Because most of the newly occurring deaths are happening in red states. Since mid-June, a majority of the new coronavirus deaths each day have occurred in red states. Since mid-July at least 70 percent have.”


So the death rate is now rapidly declining in blue states and rising in red states.  Is anyone surprised by this?  Trump has rallies with thousands of people in attendance with no social distancing, no masks.  The example he sets is as a COVID-19 super spreader.   Republican governors have a hands-off attitude regarding requiring masks.


Trump is always trying to find a Democrat to blame for his own failures.  Sometimes it’s Barack Obama, sometimes it’s Joe Biden, sometimes it’s Nancy Pelosi, sometimes it’s Chuck Shumer, sometimes it’s the Democratic governors, and sometimes it is groups which have high percentages of Democrats such as the Black Lives Matter people.  His own family turns against him.  Many former Republican politicians now endorse Biden.  Why, oh why, do people still support this maniacal, self-absorbed, rude, intolerant, lying, egotistical, unsympathetic, uncaring, racist, narcissist, bullyish, arrogant, incompetent, unqualified, elitist man?  He is, without a doubt, the worst politician at any level I have known in my lifetime.  He is the antithesis of what a President should be.


Joe Biden had a comment today I fully agree with: “I trust vaccines.  I trust scientists.  But I do not trust Donald Trump.”


ABC news tonight had more about the dispute between Trump and CDC Director Robert Redfield.  Trump is claiming the vaccine will be available before the election and readily available then.  As I said yesterday, Trump said Redfield was “confused.”  The top medical experts backed Redfield.  Dr. Fauci said the general population won’t get the vaccine until the middle of 2021.  This is also what the head of Trump’s own “Operation Warp Speed” said—middle of 2021.  ABC said that of the eight companies working on a vaccine, just three are in the final stages of trials.  Only one, Pfizer, says it may know next month if its vaccine is safe and effective or not.  I’ve been saying that the pharmaceutical people are not the ones to trust because they are definitely in Trump’s camp.  They don’t want anyone with any sort of affection for universal health care to be in office because it would erode some of their monumental personal profits.


ABC also reports that a poll from the Pugh Research Center said that only 51% would take a vaccine if it were released now.  In May this figure was 72%.  Those who changed their mind say their fear that the vaccine would be rushed through the approval process for political reasons.


Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 17      Infected                   Died

World               30,310,507              949,702

US                       6,868,530              202,112

Virginia               137,460                  2,920

Augusta County          452                         7

Another 900 more deaths in the US and 1,000 more cases in Virginia.  36 new deaths in Virginia.  ABC news tonight said that Europe is seeing a resurgence in cases; many countries have put into effect more stringent quarantine requirements.  There were over 5,000 deaths in the world in the past 24 hours due to COVID-19.


Yes, I have gotten some things done today in addition to watching the news about COVID-19 and ranting about Trump.  I’ve got the church audit ready to be printed and shared as soon as we go through the UMW checkbook.  I’ve almost finished Central’s budget for 2021.  All of these things have to be done before our annual Charge Conference which is scheduled on September 29.  That’s why Pastor Won is urging all of us involved with it to complete our reports as soon as possible.


I also did some standard computer work today such as making a Time Machine backup of my new laptop and synching my iPhone with a reduced song list on it to free up some room on it.  My iPhone only has 16 GB of storage so I fill it up easily.  I also helped Lynn submit an application to the Greenbrier “Dream Tree for Kids” program which provides Christmas presents to children in poverty.  She submitted a last minute application on behalf of Central UMC.  Sometime in December we’ll go to the Greenbrier to help wrap presents with this program as we’ve done for many years.


Finally, after dinner, Lynn and I went to the Walgreen’s pharmacy in Verona and got our flu shots.  This is earlier than we usually do but we’ve read a lot about the special need to get this vaccination this year because no one wants to get both the flu and coronavirus.  We celebrated getting our vaccine by going to Smiley’s for ice cream!


We were scheduled to have more neighborhood friends over tonight to visit in our pergola, Dave and Teri Grembi.  However, it rained from early afternoon on so their visit was postponed until tomorrow night.


Lynn is trying to go without her foot brace now.  She reports some pain but is definitely getting around better.  I sure hope she’s well on her way back to normal.  I look forward to walking with her again.


September 18, 2020

I’m surprised at how busy I was today when the calendar had zero items on it for me today.  I decided early on to go to the Greenville dump and take the metal barrel that has been in our back yard for at least twenty years.  It had a little fuel oil in it from the occasion we had years and years ago to replace our in-ground tank.  I thought I was going to have to wait until Augusta County has one of those special hazardous waste days to take it.  Ironically, that day is tomorrow and since I’m going to Roanoke to get Jim’s lawn mower I couldn’t take it to the Government Center then.  So I called the Service Authority and was told I could bring it to the Greenville dump, pour the fuel oil in a canister they have to gather used oil, then drop the barrel in the metal recycling location there.  I also loaded up a broken down kid’s bike and some old lawnmower batteries.  By 9:15 I had deposited everything where it was supposed to go at the dump—a very successful trip.


I went from there to Central UMC.  I had noticed some things on a report the bookkeeper had done for August that weren’t right and I wanted to fix them myself.  She doesn’t work on Fridays so I knew I’d have the treasurer’s computer to myself.  It took me a couple of hours but I got it done (except for a misplaced 10¢ that I just couldn’t locate).  I sent her a note that I wanted to go over some of what I’d done on Monday morning when Sam Richardson and I are there for the weekly count and to complete our audit.


When I got home in the afternoon I did a few chores Lynn wanted me to do including planting some bushes that the Myers had brought to us this morning.  Then I decided to get my trailer attached to the truck so it would be ready to head out early tomorrow morning.


A problem showed up…the lights didn’t work on the trailer.  I had used it about a month ago and it all worked fine then but today I couldn’t get the trailer lights to come on.  This bothered me because I wanted it to be working well for my trip down I-81 tomorrow morning.  So I hopped in and headed to Staunton to the Leonard USA place where I had originally bought the trailer.  They’ve done other work on it in the past.  Today was a very interesting experience:


When I got there, it was obviously open but I had trouble finding anyone working.  Finally one man came out and I explained my issue to him.  He stopped whatever he was doing and walked out to the garage section of their property and got some electrical tools.  In the meantime, other customers drove up and he had to leave me waiting to go wait on them.  I quickly figured out that he was the only person working at Leonard today.  After he came back to my truck, perhaps fifteen minutes later, he used his equipment to first determine if the fault was somewhere within the trailer itself.  No, the lights worked fine when he connected them to a battery source.  He wondered if the truck had a blown fuse so we then located the fuses associated with the trailer connection on my Toyota Tacoma but all of the fuses checked out OK.  I had suspected that the problem was the harness that connects the trailer to the truck.  It is a removable part about 6” long.  He went back inside his store, brought out a new one but it worked only sporadically—for example, only one side of the trailer’s lights came on.  He went back inside (a pretty good walk from where my truck was) and came back with a second candidate.  Same problem.  He must have spent 45 minutes diagnosing the issue and finally told me that for sure the problem was in that harness but his replacements must be bad.  He said I should just take the trailer to Auto Zone and buy a replacement one there.  I asked him how much I owed him for his time and effort.  He said nothing.  I mildly objected but decided to take his advice.


I drove to Auto Zone.  The person working there found the replacement part for me instantly.  It cost only $10.  I went back to the truck, connected the truck and trailer with this replacement harness, and my lights all came on.  Sure enough, the Leonard employee’s diagnosis was spot on.  Rather than drive home, I drove back to Leonard, showed him that everything was working fine, and this time I insisted that he take $20 in cash for his help.  I felt like I had done the right thing because he is the one who solved my problem.  He still hesitated to take it but this time I insisted and he did.  I feel like it’s the best $20 I’ve spent in a while.


Early voting started in Virginia today.  Lynn and I are definitely going to vote early—perhaps next week.  Our plan is to vote then go to Smiley’s to celebrate.  Sounds like a good thing to do.


Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 18      Infected                   Died

World               30,608,969              954,271

US                       6,914,405              203,013

Virginia               138,702                  2,949

Augusta County          454                         7

A note on the Virginia Department of Health website says “VDH is working diligently to identify COVID-19 related deaths through vital record death certificate information. A backlog of death data is expected to be added from September 15 through September 21.”  In the past 24 hours, Virginia has added over 1,200 new cases and 29 more deaths.  Can you believe that the world now has over 30 million cases?  Another 5,000 new deaths were recorded yesterday world-wide.  The US had 50,000 more cases and 1,000 more deaths.


Augusta County Schools has confirmed that the case at Clymore Elementary had to do with an employee.  This is from WHSV news: “In a letter to parents on Thursday, Augusta County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Bond confirmed a staff member at Clymore Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19.  The letter states it is believed the individual contracted the virus within the community.  Bond said the local health department determined there was limited exposure to students and their families have been contacted. He also stated that the areas the COVID-19 positive individual occupied in the school have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.”  I certainly hope Freddie was not near any of these areas.


This afternoon Lynn had to help her mother with dinner.  We ate a hasty dinner of toasted cheese sandwiches featuring her freshly baked bread and fresh tomatoes.  Then we got ready for company as Dave and Teri Grembi came over to chat in our pergola.


We just got the news tonight that Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died.  This is so sad.  She was a marvelous influence on the Supreme Court and America in general.


In February of 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died.  One month later, in March, President Obama nominated Merritt Garland to fill the vacancy.  Republican senate leaders, most notably Mitch McConnell, said that they would not approve of any nomination prior to the election since 2016 was an election year.  Here’s exactly what McConnell said:  “The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that might be.” Do you think he’ll say the same thing now, especially since this is seven months later than Obama’s nomination?  Fat chance.  He’ll try to railroad a Republican judge through in record time.  He’s got no interest in letting the American people have their say.  I’m going to be more than furious if this happens.


More bad news tonight.  Virginia had its first case of a teenager dying from coronavirus.  The details are sketchy but it appears that the teenager lived in the southside area, south of Roanoke, perhaps in the Brunswick area.


September 19, 2020

Today turned out to be one of the best days we’ve had in ages.  All three of our kids were home today.  Jim came up to help cut my grass, see his sisters, and visit his grandmother.  Kay brought Georgia and Thomas.  The two of them went with Lynn to visit Lynn’s Mom who was doing fairly well today.  Ann sent flowers.


While they visited with Mrs. Hanger, I had Thomas and Georgia here.  Thomas had a zoom Tae Kwon Do class meeting.  Georgia and I chatted.  She is such a fluent and well spoken eight-year-old!


Afterwards, all of us headed to Mt. Crawford where we met Ann and family at the Overlook Farms corn maze.  The corn maze turned out to be a great event—all twelve of us did it and had a great time.  The weather was sunny though cool.  Afterwards, we all went to Smiley’s for ice cream, then to Overlook Produce to buy some vegetables.  Then all of us came back here where the adults sat on the pergola and chatted while the kids had a great time playing in the back yard.


It was a great afternoon.  Everyone got along well and had a good time.  We concluded with take-out dinner from Chicano Boy though Kay and her kids had gone back home by then.


I signed an online petition today to demand that the next Supreme Court justice be chosen by the newly elected President.  Hundreds of thousands of people signed that today.  I seriously doubt that it will have any influence whatsoever on such worthless individuals as Mitch McConnell but it was the least I could do.


Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 19      Infected                   Died

World               30,975,747              960,863

US                       6,967,389              203,824

Virginia               139,655                  2,990

Augusta County          460                         7

Yikes, another 41 new deaths in Virginia in the past 24 hours.  The site says it is trying to get caught up on this data but the numbers are still frightening.


Just when everything seemed to be going great today, I got a notice from Pastor Won that he wouldn’t have his sermon on YouTube in time for tomorrow morning but that he hoped to have it done by Monday.  I decided to update our church’s website with this information.  When I did so, I saw that there were three “plug-ins” on WordPress that needed to be updated.  Usually all I have to do is to click the update button and everything is fine.  But tonight when I did that the website suddenly was messed up.  All you got when you tried to access the church’s website was this ugly message that said “Parse error:  syntax error etc.”  Worse yet, I couldn’t get back in to WordPress to edit anything.  I called GoDaddy, which hosts the site.  I was on hold for about 45 minutes before I talked to a person.  That person tried to help but could get no further than I did, so I got passed to a second person.  After another lengthy hold on the phone, tech support person Michael answered and took care of our messed up website.  I am SO thankful!  Plus he gave me good advice on making a local backup of the site and switching to a different hosting service at GoDaddy which would have prevented this error from having occurred.  I can go to sleep now—before Michael I was too worried to.


September 20, 2020

Exactly five months ago I began this blog, writing that I was like a baseball writer covering a ball game starting after the game had begun but noting that I didn’t know which inning we were in.  I think we’re now in one of the middle innings.  Vaccines are being talked about more and more but none is out yet though rumbles exist of one or more coming soon.  The game is still being fiercely contested and perhaps our side trying to take the lead from COVID-19 team despite the many hits and runs scored by the opposition.  Our team has been plagued by lots of errors.


The news today is full of stories about the fallout about the next Supreme Court justice’s appointment to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  It’s a shame that instead of celebrating this lady’s wonderful life and legacy the rhetoric is now all about her successor.


Here’s the textbook definition of hypocrisy:  the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.  Many Republican senators preached in 2016 that we should “Let the people decide…wait until after the election to nominate the Supreme Court justice” and promised “we will not approve a nomination during an election year.”  Indeed, they did not even allow Obama’s nominee Merritt Garland’s to even get a hearing for eight months prior to the 2016 election.  Now those same senators have in mind to railroad through a Trump nominee in near record time just to beat the November 3 election.  Hypocrisy, pure and simple.


Of course, I personally cannot prevent this from happening.  But I will do whatever I can to help, whether it is the donation of some money or protesting in public.


One CNN reporter today commented about how this situation has magnified the divisiveness in America.  Indeed, we’re becoming more than a two party system; we’re becoming a two sided war.  This is sad.


Today I reflected about some of the people I have known in my past besides family members.  In particular, I thought a lot about the Rockingham County Public Schools technology staff that I led.  I hired every one of them.  They were quite diverse.  Many had habits or lives outside of work that I would never have.  One was a chain smoker.  Several loved to gather one night each week at a local pub to drink beer.  Two were avid motorcycle riders.  One was a Seventh Day Adventist.  One spoke very poor English when she was hired.  One was the son of a local mega-millionaire.  Each had his/her peculiarities.  However, all were good human beings.  All were good workers, good hearted-people.  Our bond was that we had a common goal to provide the best technology service we could provide for staff and students.  It didn’t matter that we were different people.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said he had a dream that a person would be judged by his character, not the color of his skin.  I think that the same can be generalized to say that a person should be judged by his/her character regardless of what other circumstances there might be.  My tech staff is a good example.  They were good people regardless of the differences we had.


So here’s my point.  So many people are treating this election as a one-issue election.  For example, if you’re against abortion, then you’re voting for Trump.  If you own a lot of stocks and bonds, you’re voting for Trump.  I believe every voter should look at the character of each candidate, the full spectrum of what each person stands for.  If this is done, how on earth can anyone, ANYONE choose Trump?  He stands for hypocrisy, dishonesty, white supremacy, arrogance, … sorry, I shouldn’t get started on these descriptors again.


Governor Northram says that the COVID-19 positivity rate has been decreasing in the state.  He said, as I’ve been reporting here, that there are 1,000 new cases each day statewide and testing has a 6.8% positivity rate.  Southwest Virginia is somewhat of a hotbed with a 8.1% positivity rate.


Here are today’s statistics:

September 20      Infected                   Died

World               31,219,214              964,735

US                       7,000,896              204,115

Virginia               140,511                  3,015

Augusta County          462                         7

Tonight was Covenant Group night at our house.  We had eight at our pergola:  Tom and Connie Davis, John Myers, Bill and Martha Bushman, John Bauman, Lynn, and me.  It was a chilly night for us to meet but we bundled up and started earlier than usual, 6:00.  We’ve been discussing Francis Collins’ book, The Language of God.  Bill and Martha were high school classmates of Francis Collins at R. E. Lee High School in Staunton.


September 21, 2020

Brrrr, the weather is much colder now, unseasonably cold.  Some places in the area had frost this morning.  We were in the high 30’s.  We’ve made good use of our fireplace propane insert to heat up the kitchen.  The forecast for the week is for warming temperatures, thankfully, and no rain.


Today was a Central UMC counting day for me.  Sam and I made the bank deposit for Central and finished our audit of the church’s finances.  I had hoped to then spend time working with the bookkeeper Maddie but she had called in sick.  So I helped the custodian with am e-mail issue, finished up some work I needed to do on the Central budget, submitted the report I was required to submit for Central’s finances, and came home.


I got home just in time to grab a bite of lunch and return to Central, this time in my truck.  First I stopped at the Food Bank in Verona and loaded up 838 pounds of food for our Food Pantry.  At Central there were plenty of people waiting to help unload it.  I  was back home before 2:00.


Lynn and I then went to the Government Center and voted.  The actual election is still over 40 days away but we wanted to make sure our votes counted no matter what may happen between now and then.  Plus, by voting now we thought it would be safer from coronavirus.  Actually there was a line of about ten people ahead of us but the process went smoothly and quickly.  I’m proud to possess a sticker that says “I Voted.”  I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people in line to vote.  Yes, this is rural Virginia so many of them probably didn’t vote the way I wanted them to but at least they took part.  We’ll see how things come out November 3.  Actually, we may not know the final result of the election until a few days afterwards.


I then dropped Lynn off at The Legacy to see her Mom while I waited in the parking lot.  When she had finished we went to Aldi’s to buy a few groceries.  Aldi’s is one of the safer stores around here regarding mask wearing.


Here’s an interesting article from ABC news:  As President Donald Trump continues to tout the progress of the coronavirus vaccine development, going so far this week as to promise delivery to everyone in the U.S. by the spring, a majority of Americans report having no confidence at all in him to confirm the safety of a potential inoculation, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday. Fewer than 1 in 10 — 9% — Americans have a great deal of confidence in Trump to confirm the vaccine’s effectiveness, with another 18% reporting only a “good amount” of confidence. In contrast, 69% don’t have confidence in the president vouching for a vaccine, with 16% saying “not so much” and 53% saying “none at all.”


Also on ABC news:  President Donald Trump on Monday gave himself an “A+” grade on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying he and his administration had done a “phenomenal job” even as the death toll neared 200,000 Americans. Once again, he bucked all the experts by ambiguously promising “you’ll have” a vaccine “long before the end of the year, maybe, maybe by the end of October.”  In reality, the only thing public health officials and experts have said could possibly happen by the end of October — under a best-case scenario — would be one or more pharmaceutical companies obtaining enough data from ongoing vaccine trials for regulators at the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate whether the vaccine was safe and effective. If they approve its use, only then could a vaccine start to be rolled out to Americans on a limited basis.


Here are today’s statistics:

September 21      Infected                   Died

World               31,471,337              968,905

US                       7,046,135              204,506

Virginia               141,138                  3,021

Augusta County          469                         7


September 22, 2020

Today we made an early morning run to Costco to get some items for ourselves and for Lynn’s friend Cheryl Wright.  We shopped during the senior hour, 9:00 – 10:00.


The Republicans say they have enough Senators on board to approve Trump’s nominee prior to the election.  If they do, I say that Democrats should not forget this and make them pay big when the tables are turned, perhaps after the election.  Indeed, it is possible that after November 3 the House, Senate, and Presidency will all be Democratically controlled.  If this happens, let the paybacks begin.  Nancy Pelosi says she has “lots of arrows in her quiver” though she hasn’t said exactly what’s there.  I’m sure there will be many ways of extracting revenge.  How unfortunate!  This could all have been avoided if the Republicans would just stick to the exact words they uttered in 2016.


From ABC news this morning:  An internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency shows that the number of new cases and the number of new deaths recorded in the United States are both increasing in week-over-week comparisons. Twenty-three U.S. states and territories are in an upward trajectory of COVID-19 infections, while 14 jurisdictions are at plateau and 19 others are in a downward trend, the memo said. There were 283,332 new cases confirmed across the nation during the period of Sept 14-20, a 17.2% jump from the previous week. Meanwhile, 5,319 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded during that same period, a 2.4% increase compared with the seven days prior, according to the memo.


Isn’t it amazing that it is not a big news item that our President has lied to the public?  He does this so often that we have become used to it and it becomes a non-news item.  Yesterday he falsely claimed at a Monday night campaign rally that the coronavirus “affects virtually nobody” below the age of 18 and is mainly a risk to elderly people with heart problems and other preexisting conditions.   ABC news reported that in Florida’s Alachua County, 90% of recently reported cases are among individuals between the ages of 15 and 25, and 70% of those cases are college students, according to the memo.  Trump should tell his lies to the family in southern Virginia where a teenager died last week from COVID-19 or to the family of the California PA College football player who died after contracting it.  Pennsylvania’s Centre County, home to Pennsylvania State University, remains a COVID-19 hotspot, reporting a 291.3% relative increase in new cases during the period of Sept. 9-15 compared with the previous week. The county’s hospitals are under strain, with inpatient beds at 88% capacity and intensive care unit beds at 81% capacity, the memo said.  But wait, how could those hospital beds be filling up when it affects no young people?  We have a buffoon for a President.  How many ways can I say this?


Later today ABC amplified the previous story with this data:  Since March, evidence has been building that young people aren’t as impervious to coronavirus as initially thought. According to the CDC Covid Data tracker, a recent analysis of 143,273 deaths revealed that 843, about 0.6%, occurred in people younger than 30, while 88, about 0.06%, occurred in people younger than 18.


Johns Hopkins now says more than 200,000 Americans have died due to coronavirus.  The source I use,, has the American count at over 205,000.  Either way, that’s way too many.


I wrote about our Covenant Group was reading Francis Collins’ book on Sunday night and commented how he was well known to some of our group.  Now he is head of the NIH and today had this quote: “We ought to all look at the evidence and then make an individual decision to live up to that, because that’s our best hope. Until that vaccine is in hand, and lots of people have been able to receive it, we’ve got many more months yet with lives at risk. And the best way to save them is for us all to take this on our own shoulders.”


As told by her niece who recorded their conversation, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said her dying wish was to “not be replaced until a new president is installed.”  Today it is very apparent this will not be the case.  Trump promised he would nominate someone by Saturday.  The Republican leadership, under Lindsay Graham and Mitch McConnell, have promised that a vote would happen before the election.  As I’ve said before, these are the same two low-life hypocrites who in 2016 said that no judge should be appointed during an election year.


In lamenting the grim milestone of 200,000 deaths in America, ABC news tonight pointed out that COVID-19 cases are still rising in 33 states (Virginia is not one of them).  Deaths are rising in 15 states. The US has 4% of the world’s population but more than 20% of the coronavirus deaths.  Meanwhile, tonight Trump is heading to another big rally in Pennsylvania where almost no one will be wearing a mask.


Here are today’s statistics from

September 22      Infected                   Died

World               31,741,884              973,930

US                       7,094,558              205,379

Virginia               142,010                  3,060

Augusta County          469                         7

Same old story:  5,000 more worldwide deaths, nearly 1,000 more American deaths, and 39 more Virginia deaths since yesterday.


September 23, 2020

Central’s secretary/bookkeeper, who was on the verge of losing her job for excessive absences earlier this month, has now missed all three days of work this week.  I think her future at CUMC is in serious jeopardy.  That means I may need to step up with QuickBooks.  I’m certainly not looking for a job now, especially that one, but I’ll do what I can do help Central.


Lynn is having issues with the Waynesboro High School student she’s been tutoring for the past two years.  WHS is 100% virtual now but he is not participating as he is expected to.  Their classes are synchronous which means he’s got to be online when the class is being taught.  He has a Chromebook at home and supposedly has Xfinity internet service.  He sometimes joins his English class but claims he can’t connect to this ESL class.  The teachers communicate via e-mail with Lynn so she is keeping up with his poor grades due to lack of participation.  She doesn’t want him to drop out, for sure, but there is a problem which is some combination of his technical difficulties, lack of desire on his part to participate, and/or lack of support from the Waynesboro staff.  I’m not sure where the fingers need to be pointed but it is causing high anxiety with Lynn which she doesn’t deserve.  He did fine in his classes last year when they were in-person before COVID-19 hit.


It is fair to say that both of us have increased anxiety and the Presidential race isn’t helping.  Can you believe that our idiotic President last night at a mega-rally in Pennsylvania with thousands shoulder-to-shoulder with few masks actually made fun of Joe Biden for—get this—wearing a mask in public.  His followers had signs saying “Fill Her Seat” encouraging him to do the inevitable with the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court position.  All of this sends my blood pressure up the dial.


The Gutshall kids are sad this morning as they lost one of their new kittens which didn’t get out from under Josh’s car as he left home this morning.  Betsy and Freddie really love their cats so I know they’ll be upset.


Today was not a busy day for us.  We began the day with a visit to Kroger where I stayed in the car while Lynn went in to shop, especially for her favorite yogurt which was on sale.  Before and during coronavirus she has been a superb shopper.


The Staunton newspaper is somewhat worthless now.  We’re supposed to get a Sunday paper but it has arrived only once this month.  Others in the community have been complaining about its really bad service apparently since it was purchased recently by the Richmond newspaper.  I will say that the online version is OK and today included an article about COVID-19 cases in Augusta County Schools.  It had a dashboard showing how many cases and where.  It turns out that ACPS has had ten total cases since students started with in-person instruction, four of which are close to us.  Clymore Elementary has had two cases, one with a student and one with staff.  Fort Defiance High School has had two student positives.


Here’s a tidbit from ABC news that I’m not surprised to see:  Dr. Blythe Adamson, a former member of the White House coronavirus task force, told “GMA3” on Wednesday, “One of things that we just learned recently — and published in a new study today in Clinical and Infectious Diseases — is that being indoors, you’re 20 times more likely to catch COVID from an infectious person than if you were around them outdoors.”  That’s one reason why doctors are worried more about the winter where people are driven indoors due to the cold.


I’m so glad we don’t live in Indiana.  Indiana will move to Stage 5, its final phase of reopening, on Saturday, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has announced.  Retail stores, malls, restaurants, bars and nightclubs can operate at full capacity under the Stage 5 rules.  There will be no restrictions at gyms and large events like sports, fairs and festivals can resume.  I just checked the data—Indiana has 116,000 cases and 3,530 deaths thus far.  Their positivity rate is 6%.


Here are today’s statistics:

September 23      Infected                   Died

World               32,051,918              980,175

US                       7,132,382              206,348

Virginia               142,590                  3,089

Augusta County          470                         7


Tonight was Zoom night.  Jim didn’t make it on but Kay and Ann both did.


September 24, 2020

Like it or not I appear to have a new job.  Today was another day that the CUMC secretary/bookkeeper didn’t come to work.  Pastor Won is livid especially since he needed a lot of help putting together the annual report for the Charge Conference which is to be held this coming Tuesday at 3:00.  So I volunteered to come in and help him get the data he needed for the report.  I got there around 9:30 and stayed until 2:00.  In addition to finding the data he needed, I decided to look more closely at the bookkeeper’s work for the past four months.  Oh my gosh, there were multiple mistakes.  The errors were in which accounts which were debited for checks written.  I literally went through every check she had written in the past four months and corrected the errors that I could.  I still ended up with about 12 transactions that I had questions about which need to be asked to her in person.


I think it is fair to say that I will just take over the bookkeeper’s job for the next two months.  I told Pastor Won that I wanted to hire the previous bookkeeper, Sarah, back for a day to help me learn enough about QuickBooks to get me going.  Sarah has two small children, one a newborn, so I’ll have to see if she is interested in helping me.


I’ll likely keep this job until a new person can be hired.  Actually I will likely keep it for a while after that so the new person can learn the secretarial job before I have her do the bookkeeper’s part.


We’ve lived at 296 Leaport Road for 32 years now.  Today marked a first for us here—we have a political sign in our front yard.  We picked up a sign today at the Staunton-Augusta County Democratic Office today with “Biden – Harris – Warner” on it.  Jim texted us that we shouldn’t be surprised if it gets stolen.  Those in his neighborhood had that fate this past week.  I have never felt so negative about a President as I do about Trump.  What more can I say that I haven’t already said in the past five months here?


Our sign isn’t the only one in the neighborhood.  The Sheffers have a Biden sign in their front yard, too.  But there are many, many more Trump signs in this redneck country.

Here are today’s statistics:

September 24      Infected                   Died

World               32,407,986              987,697

US                       7,185,471              207,538

Virginia               143,492                  3,113

Augusta County          474                         7

Just another typical depressing day for COVID-19.


September 25, 2020

Our sign made it through one night without being vandalized.  I don’t know that I’ll be able to say this until election day.


This is from Apple News this morning:

The U.S. is now averaging roughly 43,000 new cases per day, a 16% increase from a week ago.  The biggest increases are largely concentrated in the West and Midwest, though Maine and New Jersey also saw their new infections tick up over the past week.  Seven states — Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Texas, Utah and Wyoming — saw their daily infections rise by at least 60% over the past week.  Testing was up by almost 22% over the same period. The U.S. is now conducting about 860,000 coronavirus tests per day.  What’s next: There’s every reason to believe the next several months will be a particularly high-risk period.   Colder weather will cause people to move indoors, where the virus spreads more easily. People will travel and see friends and family over the holidays. Mask adherence is already only so-so. And flu season will set in at the same time.  The NIH’s Anthony Fauci has said cases should ideally be below 10,000 per day heading into the fall. But we haven’t been able to consistently keep them under 40,000.  The bottom line: The U.S. is racing toward a vaccine, and doctors are getting better at treating the virus. But Americans, overall, are pretty bad at doing the simple things necessary to contain the virus, save lives and make us all safer.


Our Governor, Ralph Northram, announced today that he and his wife have both tested positive for coronavirus.  He is the only governor who has a M.D. degree so I know he will take care of himself as he isolates for the next ten days.  This just goes to show that COVID-19 is not mindful of whom it attacks.  He doesn’t have any symptoms yet though his wife has mild ones.  Let’s hope it stays this way.  The Missouri governor also has tested positive this week.


Lynn had a few jobs today with Rockingham County Public Schools but I had nothing.  I spent a long time cleaning up the CUMC files on my downstairs computer’s hard drive.  I have a backup there of all the important files from the secretary and treasurers’ computers at Central.  It is always important to have off-site backups.


I had to wait a while today to get a prescription for Lynn but it isn’t one she’s looking forward to taking.  Next Thursday she has a colonoscopy scheduled; the prescription is for the awful stuff she’s required to take the night before.  I’ve done this twice and it has been greatly uncomfortable both times.


Tomorrow we are going to drive to Arlington for Georgia’s 8th birthday party.  It will be held at the nice Arlington park just a few steps from her house, the same place where Thomas held his 10th birthday party earlier this year.  She is certainly growing up—she speaks so fluently now when we Zoom or talk in person.  She is a mini-Kay, for sure.


I couldn’t be a bigger support of Joe Biden for President, as I’ve written and written about so many times.  However, I am more than tired of the e-mails and texts I get each day from his staff and from other Democratic candidates for state offices asking for money.  I’m not exaggerating when I say I get ten e-mails a day asking for money.  Maybe they figure they’ll wear me down and I’ll give in.  Personally, I think they will all win (except the local congressman who will be re-elected in this very Republican district) with or without my money so I just plan to spend it elsewhere.  I know, it’s a good thing that everyone doesn’t do this.


ABC news reports that the death toll from COVID-19 in Florida has now topped 14,000 after an increase of 120 new deaths in the last day, according to the Florida Department of Health.  The fatality total — 14,083 — is made up of 13,915 Florida residents and 168 non-residents.  This comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that restaurants and bars can reopen at full capacity, effective immediately.  He is a big Trump ally and today said “We’re not going to close anything down going forward.”  How stupid can this Republican governor be?  Florida has over 695,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19, the third-highest state for case totals in the nation, behind California and Texas.


ABC also said in the Midwest, the virus is now landing squarely in places where there is strong resistance to masks and governors have been reluctant to require face coverings.  In Joplin, Missouri, a mask ordinance was allowed to expire in mid-August as virus fatigue grew. Since then, the number of positive cases there and in surrounding Jasper County — a deeply conservative county that Trump won by more than 50 percentage points over Hillary Clinton in 2016 — has risen about 80%.   Wisconsin is averaging more than 2,000 new cases a day over the last week, compared with 675 three weeks earlier. Hospitalizations in the state are at their highest level since the outbreak took hold in the U.S. in March.  Utah has seen its average daily case count more than double from three weeks earlier. Oklahoma and Missouri are regularly recording 1,000 new cases a day, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a staunch opponent of mask rules, tested positive this week. Kansas and Iowa are also witnessing a spike in cases. And South Dakota and Idaho are seeing sky-high rates of tests coming back positive.


Here are today’s numbers:

September 25      Infected                   Died

World               32,742,593              992,835

US                       7,235,872              208,323

Virginia               144,433                  3,136

Augusta County          478                         7

How many times have I commented that there were 50,000 more cases in the US, nearly 1,000 more deaths, and 1,000 more cases in Virginia?  Like a broken record… And notice that the world is nearing a million deaths due to COVID-19.


September 26, 2020

We have two birthday celebrations this week for two special girls.  Georgia’s 8th birthday party was today in Arlington.  Betsy turns 11 on Wednesday.  Both girls are so special and bring so much pride to me.  They’ve each had good examples to follow with their moms and Grandmommy.  I feel so blessed to have such wonderful females in my life.


We spent the better part of the day in Arlington, all outside, helping to set up for, enjoy, and clean up after Georgia’s party.  There were nine girls in all there, including Georgia, and they seemed to have a good time.  They decorated cupcakes, enjoyed a visit from a rabbit, Freddie, brought to them by their first grade teacher Mrs. Snead, and ate cupcakes.  We visited a little with the Foys back at their house before heading home.


On the way we stopped for take-out dinner at the Cracker Barrell in Front Royal.  We got home around 8:30.   I had recorded the WVU – Oklahoma State football game from the afternoon so I spent the next 2 ½ hours watching it.  Alas, the Mountaineers fell, 27-13.  They didn’t play badly, just had some crucial mistakes which doomed them.


While I watched the game I uploaded the 140 pictures I took today.  There were some nice pictures of Georgia and others.


I didn’t start writing tonight until two hours after my bedtime so this entry will be short in the blog.  At least I’ll include today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 26      Infected                   Died

World               33,055,037              998,721

US                       7,287,561              209,177

Virginia               145,408                  3,144

Augusta County          494                         7


September 27, 2020

Lynn and I had gotten some sweet tea last night on our way home, an unusual event for us to have caffeine late in the day.  We paid for it.  Neither of us slept well.  Also, we’ve started watching a Netflix series, Virgin River, which we both like a lot and just served to keep us wide awake well past midnight, something very uncharacteristic for the two of us.


I’m not feeling good about things today.  I feel like I’m backed into a corner by COVID-19 and it creeps closer every day.  I feel like Lynn and I are locked into our house and can’t go anywhere due to her mother’s fragile condition and coronavirus.  We both are healthy and have money to travel but cannot.  I feel angry about the political state of affairs and am worried that there are just enough fools in America not to re-elect him but to make it close enough that he will go ballistic with charges of a rigged election and refuse to leave.  I don’t have any projects to keep me busy which is a bad thing because then I sit around and worry.


And yes, I’m still lamenting West Virginia’s loss to Oklahoma State yesterday.  Here’s what really griped me.  Lynn set the DVR to record the game on ABC and it did just that.  But in the middle of the game ABC interrupted the broadcast to bring in Donald Trump’s announcement of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination as Supreme Court Justice.  His speech and her acceptance took just enough time that I did not get to see West Virginia’s only touchdown of the day.  I missed the last five minutes of the first half.  I will NEVER be happy to watch Donald Trump spew lies while he preempts WVU football.  That plus little sleep has put me into a real funk today.


I know I should count my blessings.  Today I spent almost an hour just watching two of my computer screens simultaneously post random pictures from my 6,000+ file of favorites.  These photos really show how blessed Lynn and I have been with family, travels, and events.  If I concentrate only on these pictures I am transported into a much nicer world than the one I find myself in when the screen saver is turned off.


Lynn and I went to Harrisonburg this afternoon to buy her a special iron for her Criquet machine that will enable her to put labels and designs on oddly shaped items like shoes.  She does so much with her Criquet and I want to enable her to do even more.  Her talents at craft type work seem to be endless.


This afternoon I fixed some ribs we had purchased at Costco.  They had to be grilled for 30 minutes then put in the oven for an hour.  They tasted great!  I also peeled some apples and Lynn cooked them along with some tomatoes.  Another yummy dinner.


After dinner we had the Gutshalls over.  Lynn had made brownies and some hot fudge sauce for them.  We added ice cream and that made for a great dessert.  All of them were here except Henry who was at a friend’s.


The big news tonight is that the New York Times reported that they had uncovered records that prove that President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he ran for president and in his first year in the White House, according to a report Sunday in The New York Times.  Trump, who has fiercely guarded his tax filings and is the only president in modern times not to make them public, paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years.


We are not wealthy but even with our retirement income we paid over $16,000 in taxes last year.  The thought that Trump paid so little sends my blood curdling.  I commented to Ann and Josh tonight that the timing was great for this release with the first debate coming this Tuesday night and the election just over a month away.  Ann replied that his base won’t care; they are blind to all his other shortcomings so why should this be different?  That’s depressing.  I’d think that any tax paying American would be furious that someone supposedly worth billions could get by with paying virtually no federal income tax while the rest of us fund his lavish lifestyle as President.  I hope Biden hops all over this Tuesday night.


Of course, Trump, when questioned about this at a press conference today, said it was “fake news.”  I trust the New York Times much more than I trust Donald Trump.


There wasn’t much about COVID-19 in tonight’s news; I wonder if we’re getting accustomed to having a million people die due to a disease.  Here are the statistics:

September 27      Infected                   Died

World               33,297,503           1,002,137

US                       7,320,669              209,453

Virginia               146,144                  3,159

Augusta County          497                         7

Yes, the world topped a million deaths due to coronavirus.  The US has 5% of the population but 20% of the deaths.  Sure, let’s Keep America Great…


September 28, 2020

Facebook is having a field day with the news that Trump only paid $750 in income taxes in 2016 and 2017.  Posts say he paid less than undocumented immigrants.  Another said that he has claimed to be a billionaire so his tax rate must be .00000000032%.  Another pointed out that Biden paid over $3.2 million in income tax that year.  Yet another said that you and I have been paying for his golfing trips while he pays only $750 annually toward the government’s expenses.  Some of his supporters say that this just proves how smart Trump is.  Smart?  I would call it being a leech, a parasite.  I think any decent tax prosecutor would call him a tax evader.


Another bit of news that was leaked is that he deducted $70,000 from his taxes for hair styling while he was on The Apprentice.  A Facebook post today noted that teachers can only deduct $250 per year for out-of-pocket expenses they spend on their students.


I am happy to report that our Biden sign has remained up and undefiled.  I believe this is because there really are plenty of others, including our neighbors, who perhaps supported Trump in 2016 but have now realized what a total waste of a President he is.


Today Lynn and I rode to Central together.  My reason for going is that yesterday was the 3rd Sunday of the month which means Sam Richardson and I had to do the weekly deposit for CUMC.  Lynn’s reason wasn’t so pleasant—she and Pastor Won were meeting with the current secretary/bookkeeper to let her know that her employment was being terminated on October 6.  She wasn’t surprised since she has missed over 1/3 of the days since she began work on June 1.


After we returned home and had lunch, Lynn went in to help her mother with lunch and I decided to get rid of the poor excuse of a garden that I had.  This was an especially bad year for our tomatoes.  First the rabbits ate the plants when they were first put in the ground.   After I replanted the tomatoes did well.  I had them staked and even surrounded by a small fence to keep the rabbits out.   Then we went away for a day or so.  When we got back, every plant had its top eaten off by the deer.  I attempted to put up a fishing line fence to keep the deer out and we didn’t have more deer damage that I could see.  Then we had the rainiest August ever.  I think we might have actually eaten about ten tomatoes all season from the twenty plants.  We’ve resorted to buying them now and will probably do that in the future.


It was certainly a lot of work today to pull up the fence posts and tomato stakes.  I counted 42 in all and plenty were tough to get out of the ground.  Then I rolled the fence up and stored it in our storage room beneath the patio, ran my mower over the tomato plants, then got the tiller out and tilled the garden space.  What a difference in how the back yard looks now.  I confess that I was exhausted when I finished.  I had taken some breaks while working but still this wore me out.  This just gave me more reason to plant sunflowers and zinnias next year instead of tomatoes.


After some rest and a few Whirly Word puzzles I was ready to get back outside.  Lynn said she felt like walking a little.  So, for the first time since July 28, we walked on the road.  I had an appointment to have the oil change in my truck tomorrow so we rode up to Simmons Repair and walked back home.  It was approximately one mile.  It felt so good to be walking with her again.  She didn’t complain about pain the entire way back though she did prop her foot up once we got here.


The news tonight said coronavirus infections were up in 33 states though Virginia was not one of them.  Here are the statistics:


September 28      Infected                   Died

World               33,524,810           1,005,662

US                       7,356,949              209,740

Virginia               146,593                  3,172

Augusta County          500                         7


Dr. Fauci says we need to get the daily infections down to 10,000 or fewer to get control of the pandemic.  We’ve got a long way to go, nearly 40,000 today.  At least Virginia’s infections are lower than usual.


September 29, 2020

Today was a gloomy day, weather-wise, with sporadic rain and cool temperatures.  No outside work today!


I spent the morning working with the bookkeeper at Central UMC trying to get some items in her books in the correct categories.  We were mildly successful.  I need to get with our minister to complete this task.  Her last day of work is next Tuesday so on Monday I am going to work with her on reconciling the bank accounts of the church.  Not fun…


Afterwards Lynn and I ran to Costco to do more shopping for Central.  I have the church’s Costco card which allows me to purchase items there tax-free.  The food pantry had asked me to get 12 canisters of coffee, two cases of tea bags, and two 50 pound bags of sugar.


This afternoon I served as secretary for the church’s Charge Conference meeting via Zoom.  I guess it would be fair to say I did a lot of CUMC work today.


ABC news reported today that there has been a substantial increase in coronavirus cases among children.  In April, children accounted for about 2.2% of all reported U.S. cases, but by September that figure had risen to 10%. By Sept. 24, according to the study, which used data from U.S. public health department websites, 624,890 cases in children had been reported.


Tonight was the first Biden-Trump debate.  To prepare for it, Lynn and I ate an early dinner.  I did the dishes then we went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  To be honest, we both wanted Lynn to have a good meal today because tomorrow she cannot eat because she will be in preparation for her Thursday colonoscopy.


Here are the numbers for today:

September 29      Infected                   Died

World               33,776,995           1,010,564

US                       7,396,459              210,620

Virginia               147,516                  3,187

Augusta County          505                         7


Another 40,000 Americans infected and nearly 900 more dead.  Another 1,000 Virginians infected and 25 more dead.


I’ll write about the debate tomorrow.  For tonight I’m going to enjoy it in bed!


September 30, 2020

If anyone had any doubt that our current President is a low-class, rude bully they should have no cause for disbelief after last night’s debate.  George Stephanopolous said it well this morning on Good Morning America when he said that the only way to describe the debate was as a disgrace.  It was a disgrace to Americans everywhere.  Every time Joe Biden or the moderator Chris Wallace tried to talk they was interrupted by the name-calling low-life.  Yes, Biden lost his cool at times but who wouldn’t have?  At least there were several times in the debate when Biden looked straight at the camera and reached out to viewers.  Trump only glared in contempt of everything.  He was an embarrassment to the country.  News reporters called the debate “chaos” and “a debacle.”


Why should Biden debate him again?  There are two more debates scheduled but I can see no reason why Biden should return to a stage with that classless bulldog on it.  I heard on NBC this morning that 11% of voters are undecided.  I don’t believe it.  How can anyone be undecided by now?  I read online today that 1.3 million Americans have already voted.  More reasons to not have a second debate.


I’m not the only one calling for the next two debates to be canceled.  The Atlantic said:

Cancel the Debates–Tonight brought the first debate of this presidential election, and if there is any sense left in this nation, it will be the last too.  Pity the poor closed-caption writers. Pity the poor ASL interpreters. But most of all, pity poor us, the American electorate.

Tonight was the first presidential debate of the 2020 election, and if there is any sense or mercy left in this nation, it will be the last too. The event was a shambolic shout fest, with scarcely a single morsel of substance to be found. President Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, lied repeatedly, refused to condemn racist groups even after explicitly offering to do so, and sought to undermine trust in the election. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat, meandered through his positions, only occasionally finishing a sentence. Moderator Chris Wallace lost control within minutes and never regained it.

Many other writers, including Time’s TV critic, agree that the remaining debates should be canceled.  I would like to see one between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence, though.


The news this morning made a big deal that Trump refused to condemn white supremacists.  They should.  He was given a direct chance to do this and did not.  Instead he launched another attack on the radical left.


On Facebook, my friend and Rockingham County School Board member Lowell Fulk simply asked, “Do you ever get the feeling that the other countries in the world are looking at each other, and shaking their heads sadly, and in dismay?”


I made a quick trip to Central UMC this morning to drop off the coffee, sugar, and tea we had purchased yesterday at Costco.  This is rural Virginia, of course, and there are many, many Trump signs including one our neighbors the Parish’s just put up.  The one that really gets me has the phrase “Keep America Great” on it.  What sane person could think that America is great now?  We have record unemployment, COVID-19 everywhere, rampant racial discord, and unprecedented political bickering.  We are practically locked in our houses, unable to visit with family, barred from leaving the country, with no entertainment events being held that we can attend.  We have a lying, insulting President we’re ashamed of.  We have hypocritical Senators looking out for themselves and their party only.  What is great about this?


I had little on my plate today.  Lynn, on the other hand, had several things.  She took care of her Mom at lunchtime.  Then she returned home, made a few quick phone calls, then interpreted for a rather long IEP meeting via Zoom this afternoon.  After that we went to Harrisonburg to drop off a timesheet at the Rockingham County School Board office then went to Acme Stove Company in Harrisonburg to see about purchasing a fire pit for our pergola.  Unfortunately, the one we want is out of stock until the spring.  That’s OK; we’ll get it then.  After a couple more quick stops for her at Hobby Lobby and the Dollar Store we returned home in time for her to get another scheduled phone call from her supervisor with Albemarle County Schools where she does the Migrant Education work.  It has not been a pleasant day for her—she’s been limited to drinking tea and sipping bouillon since her colonoscopy is scheduled for 7:15 tomorrow morning at Augusta Health.  I’ll take her there but, thanks to COVID-19, will stay in the car the entire time.


Jim Printy checked out the book Exploring the Abandoned Coal Towns of West Virginia, The Southeastern Region, from the local library.  He then shared the book with me since he knew I would have a connection.  It had lots of pictures and, of course, presented a very depressing message.  But annoying was that the author had many geographic errors.  For example, she showed pictures of Pocahontas, Virginia (just 5 miles from where I grew up) and then wrote that it was in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.  Pocahontas County WV is well over 100 miles from Pocahontas VA.  The book detailed 11 towns in West Virginia which had basically been abandoned since the early heydays of coal.  Two, Wheeling and Moundsville, were in the northern panhandle of the state—hardly the southeastern region.  Wheeling has a population of over 26,000 so I wouldn’t call it abandoned.  Moundsville has over 8,000.


The book did include Matoaka which was very near Bramwell and can certainly be labeled as an abandoned town.  It has 207 people as of 2018.  When I was growing up, it was home to a high school which probably had around 1,000 students in it.  It was never a favorite town of mine, especially since two of the five losses the Class A Bramwell Millionaires had in 1968 were to the Class AA Matoaka Indians.


The book treated McDowell as a town instead of the county it is.  I had hoped it would have included something about tiny Pageton which is where my mother came from.  It was once a bustling mining town where my grandfather was the chief electrician.  Now it has a population of 187 according to Google.


Lynn went all day without eating then began her colonoscopy prep by taking that awful junk this evening which makes you clean out your entire insides.  I feel so sorry for her.  I’ve been there, done that, and it’s no fun.  We told the kids we wouldn’t be on Zoom tonight like we usually do on Wednesday nights.


ABC news says that Wisconsin has a record number of cases of COVID-19.  Guess where Trump has his next two rallies scheduled?  The Governor asked him to skip the rallies or require the supporters to wear masks.  Won’t happen…  Cases are rising in 31 states today.  The news detailed a story of an Appalachian State College student who was “perfectly healthy” then got coronavirus and died.


Here are today’s statistics:

September 30      Infected                   Died

World               34,128,168           1,017,839

US                       7,442,081              211,635

Virginia               148,271                  3,208

Augusta County          512                         7

The numbers just tell more of the same that I report every day.  Yet every one of them is a person, someone’s loved one.