February 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

February 1, 2021

With the snowy roads most everything was canceled today—schools, church counting, Lynn’s Zoom interpreting, etc.  Actually our roads look very passable though we haven’t gone out since Saturday.  It has now been over two days since I left our property.

With little to do today I spent some time back on the ancestry pages.  I was able to trace a route from me to Turold De Grenteville.  If you haven’t heard of my relative Turold, it may be because he was born in Normandy in 1026 and died in Dorset, England in 1071.  If the websites I found are accurate, indeed I was able to trace back 32 generations.  I recorded the names, years of life, spouses, years of their lives, and web addresses to the records of each ancestor.  Of course, I’m not really doing the genealogy work but simply using the work of many, many others who have graciously posted their findings in publicly available websites.

My grandmother was Frankie Lee Penland Cook.  She lived until she was 90 though she suffered from delusions and loss of memory in her final years.  At one point before she died, she told my adopted aunt Zella a story that her husband, Joseph Sans Cook, was not the father of my mother.  She told Zella she had become pregnant by another man but ended up marrying Joe Cook.  I never did believe that this was true, especially given that she would tell other wild stories from her imagination during her old age.  She would frequently see other people in the room or hear them talking to her.  Today, in my online legacy work, I saw a reference that she and Joe Cook were married October 27, 1913.  My mother was born August 20, 2014, ten months later.  I was able to find in public records both my mother’s birth certificate and my grandparents’ marriage license so I know these dates are correct.  Thus, the story she told Zella could not have been true.  My initial reason for not believing that story was that my mother and her sister Mary always looked like twins, but today’s research cemented my belief that, indeed, Joseph Sans Cook was my grandfather.  He was a GREAT grandfather who took me (and the other grandchildren) to baseball games, took me to drive-in movies, played baseball with me, took me for rides on his farm tractor, and would pick me up on his way home from working in the mines so I could stay with them in Falls Mills, VA.  It was a very sad day for me when he died when I was 10 years old.

I did get a haircut today without going to a barber shop.  Lynn and I had been borrowing the Gutshall’s hair clipping set but a few months ago we bought our own at Costco so today she put them to good use.  I really do think she does a fine job cutting my hair and don’t know that I’ll ever go back to a barber shop again.

Jim called us today and told how he’d made a bunch of money using a snow blower to clean off driveways in his neighborhood and elsewhere in Roanoke.  Good for him!

In the news tonight was a story about an at-home COVID-19 test anyone can do which returns results in 15 minutes which are 95% accurate.  I hope this is true but I also hope that, thanks to the vaccine, I’ll never need this.

This doesn’t make sense—an ABC news story said that the CDC looked at more than 11,000 nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities that had at least one vaccination clinic between the middle of December and the middle of January. The researchers found that while 78% of residents got at least one shot, only 37.5% of staff members did.  The staff members were basically saying they didn’t think the vaccines worked.  What this means is that they will continue to bring in COVID-19 to the most dangerous of climates in the US—nursing homes.  I can’t believe this.  And I wonder why there were 22% of the residents who refused it. 

The messages about the pandemic are mixed.  The President of Moderna said he believed the US could achieve herd immunity by summer.  Yet other people are saying that the worst is yet to come given that the virus is mutating so much and some of the mutations may be resistant to vaccines.  January was the most deadly month since the pandemic started yet the number of hospitalizations and cases have dropped pretty sharply at the end of this month.  But the month had more than 6 million new cases; one in twelve Americans has now had it.

Here are today’s statistics:

February 1          Infected                   Died

World             103,909,445           2,246,841

US                     26,902,109              454,103

Virginia               507,640                  6,474

Augusta County       4,773                       48

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               843,230  (124,407 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        6,033  (779 of whom have 2nd dose)

February 2, 2021

We had a very busy but productive morning.  Our first stop was at Costco where we got several needed items.  The store was almost empty so I believe it was very safe.  Then we went to Michael’s where Lynn had ordered an item yesterday that we picked up curbside.  She then picked up one quick item at Dollar Tree and we headed to Cub Run Elementary with a stop at the Penn Laird Post Office for her to buy stamps.  The reason for going to Cub Run was for Lynn to pick up her recertification materials which Principal Kenny Boyers had signed off on.  We then took the recertification application to the Rockingham County Schools’ Administrative Office so Lynn could fulfill her obligations in order to be able to continue teaching part-time.  Actually, this recertification is for ten more years; I doubt she will work all ten of them.  Alas, my teacher certification expired in 2020 and I made no attempt to renew it.

Waiting on Lynn and sitting in the parking lot at the RCPS Admin Office brought back some memories for me.  I helped design that building and worked in it for almost fifteen years.  My first several years as an administrator in RCPS were in the old building in downtown Harrisonburg.  But I remember well how we designed that new office, saw it being built, then moved there around 2000.  It was a great place to work, not only for the building itself, but especially because of the people who worked there with me.  My staff increased from about 6 to 26 while working there.

Lynn’s two Cheryl friends came out this afternoon to chat on the back porch.  The temperature was around 32o but there was a wind so the feels-like temperature was around 21o.  They were brave souls.  The heater we bought for the back porch has been spotty in working but today it was really needed.  Lynn said that it worked most of the 90 minutes they were out there.

Today was Gus’ 14th birthday.  Due to the snow, neither Augusta or Rockingham Counties had in-person school today so he was free to come over to our house mid-afternoon to get his present.  I had sent him a set of 16 math problems to do.  The set was quite mixed but required no math beyond Algebra I which he is taking now.  Before he came today, I asked him to text me his solutions so I could check them.  He had done very well with the problem set—had a couple of careless (sign) errors on two problems and one more mistake but he had 13 of the 16 perfect which I was very impressed with.  When he came, I told him that his present was hidden in our garage and he’d find it using a decoder sheet which linked answers to his math problems to letters of the alphabet.  For example, the answer to the first problem was 3 and that corresponded to the letter C on the decoder sheet.  The sixteen answers spelled out CABINET TOP DRAWER.  So in no time he was able to find his card with the money inside it.  He did tell me it took him two hours to do the 16 problems I had sent him but said he didn’t have anything else to do today so that was OK.  For many reasons, including his math skills, I’m proud of Gus.  He’s a very polite, easy-going young man.

Despite school being called off today due to icy roads, the basketball games scheduled for tonight went on as scheduled.  Fort played Stuarts Draft in JV and varsity.  The games were at FDHS so Ann and Josh got to go there to see the games.  Ann confirmed with me that this would be Henry’s last home game so I asked her to take my camera and take some pictures since we weren’t allowed to go.

The news tonight is the same as usual.  At least the daily number of new COVID-19 cases has fallen somewhat.  Here are the statistics:

February 2          Infected                   Died

World             104,337,420           2,261,004

US                     27,007,773              457,264

Virginia               510,380                  6,517

Augusta County       4,792                       48

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               873,468  (130,735 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        6,208  (824 of whom have 2nd dose)

Elizabeth texted us tonight that her husband Gilbeto finally made it home this evening.  He’d been at the UVA hospital since November 23—around ten weeks.  There was a time Elizabeth was afraid he wouldn’t be coming home alive so it is a real blessing that he made it back today though I’m sure he’s a long way from being back to normal.  It has been a real tough journey for this entire family.  Thankfully they’ve had help from their own family, from their church and community family, and from us. 

The Shenandoah District boys basketball this season has featured six pretty evenly matched teams.  None will win the state championship but on a given night any one could beat the other.  Going into tonight’s game, Fort Defiance was second with a 5 – 3 district record (7 – 3 overall) and Stuart Draft was in sixth place with a 2 – 6 district record (3 – 7 overall).  Wilson Memorial is the district leader with a 6 – 2 record (9 – 2 overall).  It has been amazing that they’ve been able to play a full schedule with the pandemic going on.   Well, a full schedule this year means 13 regular season games since all of the sports seasons were shortened.

The JV team played first, of course.  Though it is great to be able to live-stream the games, it seems so strange to see the stands nearly empty.  I think each home player is allowed two from his family to attend. 

Watching the JV’s is not easy.  Stuarts Draft turned the ball over its first nine possessions.  Fort missed its first ten shots from the field. Fort did manage two foul shots and a field goal and led 4 – 2 after five minutes of play.  Gus got in with two minutes to go in the quarter.  Stuarts Draft finished the quarter with a plethora of turnovers.  The score at the end of the first was FDHS 10, Stuarts Draft 2.  As the second quarter opened, Gus got an offensive rebound and put it back in.  As a reward, I suppose, the coach took him out.  Go figure.  When Gus went out, the score was 12 – 2 in Fort’s favor.  Moments later it was 13 – 12.  The half ended 19 – 18 in favor of Stuarts Draft.   This is how the Fort JV’s have played all season.  On January 15, against this same team, Gus’ JV team was ahead by double digits with four minutes to go in the game when he was taken out; Stuarts Draft scored the next 14 points and won. 

In the second half, Gus sat out the first half of the third quarter and got in with Stuarts Draft leading 24 – 23.  He made a nice put back but the refs ruled he had fouled first so it didn’t count.  He played the rest of the quarter; FDHS was down 30 – 29.  But then the streaming network went out and we missed the entire 4th quarter.  Ann and Josh reported that he played the entire 4th quarter and did well as Fort got revenge with a 44 – 32 win.  She Facetime called us so we could see a little bit though it wasn’t the same as streaming.  This turned out to be a good birthday for Gus!  I’m glad the coach finally figured out to leave him in.

Unfortunately, the streaming didn’t work for the varsity game.  I was so disappointed because it was Henry’s last home game this season.  Ann and Josh tried to help us out, first via Facetime then via Zoom.  The Zoom feed was OK but not as good as the streaming had been.  In the first half, Stuarts Draft couldn’t miss, hitting all kinds of three pointers.  Fort was lucky to stay fairly close, 41 – 33, at the break. 

They got down by twelve but managed to close within four at the end of the third quarter.  As the 4th quarter wore on, Tyreek Veney got hot and Ryan Cook made some good drives.  Soon Fort was up 59 – 58.  With 1:15 to go, Fort led 63 – 60 but then Draft hit a 3 pointer to tie the score at 63.  Fort worked the ball into Henry who scored on a drive with 1.5 seconds to go to give FDHS the win, 65 – 63.  It was a huge bucket!  Henry the Hero!  I love it. 

Thanks to Ann’s Zoom feed, Kay’s family, Jim, Josh’s parents, Lynn, and I got to witness the game.  I’m so glad she was able to do that.  The NFHS feed never did come back so without the Zoom connection we wouldn’t have seen Henry’s heroics.  I believe he had six points for the game including the big basket at the end.

February 3, 2021

The Waynesboro paper had another fine article about the game last night with high praise for sophomores Tyreek and Henry.  “With the clock ticking down in a tight contest and a court full of upperclassmen, it was two sophomores who provided the heroics for Fort Defiance.   Indians’ second-year player Tyreek Veney nailed six 3-pointers, and Henry Gutshall lifted up to bank in the contested game-winning shot with 7.8 seconds left to give Fort a 65-63 win over Stuarts Draft in a game they once trailed by 13 points in Shenandoah District boys basketball.  Sophomore Gutshall has stepped up for Fort all year, and with 7.8 seconds left on the clock, he stepped up again. Gutshall caught the ball and turned around in the face of the defender, putting up a hook shot that found its way off the glass through the bottom of the net to give Fort the 65-63 lead they would not relinquish.”

I had a another pleasant surprise today—the live stream didn’t work but the game was available on demand today from NFHS.  I got to watch Henry score that game-winning basket over and over!  Plus I got to see the 4th quarter of Gus’ JV game, a quarter in which he played the whole time.  Neat..

Since this is the first week of February, I had lots of work to do on Central’s books today.  I was able to get almost everything done but it took me nearly four hours in the morning.  I reconciled the four bank accounts, finalized the two monthly statements for January that are always presented to Church Council, entered the January 31 deposit, and paid several bills.  I got one of the credit card statements reconciled and will do the other one later since Won needs to give me some receipts for them.  It won’t take long.  I felt good about getting so much done.

Lynn braved the cold again to walk with Ginny Bauman.  She put on her long underwear first and wore boots.  I don’t know how she walked two miles in boots.  I recall that when I was a high school basketball player we were required to wear galoshes to run laps after practice sometimes.  It wasn’t easy.  We also had to wear ankle weights all day sometimes in the off-season, supposedly to build up our leg muscles so we could run and jump better.  Obviously this tactic didn’t work for me because running and jumping were two of my worst athletic attributes.

I also got a call today from Steve Johnson of Air Tight Windows and Doors.  He had sent a proposal to us on August 31 which we accepted and paid him a deposit for our upstairs windows to be replaced.  Then we waited and waited.  I e-mailed him in October and he said they were having troubles getting materials.  He asked that we be patient and we were.  Finally he called this morning to say the materials had arrived and he wanted to start replacing our windows tomorrow morning!  I told him to go for it.

Gus had a make-up JV basketball game tonight with Wilson Memorial.  The first half had the same troubles with the streaming service that the varsity game last night had.  It didn’t start working until the end of the half.  Ann helped us out by Zooming from her camera which worked OK but was a lot of trouble for her.  The second half the NFHS stream worked OK.  Gus played almost the entire first half.  I believe he had one point on a foul shot.  At the half, Fort led 19 – 16.  Gus was on the bench to start the second half.  Any bets on what happened?  After four minutes the score was WMHS 22, FDHS 19.  It’s not that Gus is a dominant player, he just doesn’t make the stupid mistakes that the other kids do.  They throw the ball away over and over and over.  He got back in with 3:30 to go in the quarter.  He made a nice spin move and scored with 30 seconds to go—their only score of the quarter.  And though he played throughout the 4th quarter, his team couldn’t score.   Meanwhile, WMHS had several buckets.  With 51 seconds to go in the game Fort finally scored in the 4th quarter—two foul shots.   They made one more free throw and banked a desperation three pointer in to make the final score WMHS 36, FDHS 27.  For the second half, they had a grand total of two field goals, eight points.   Maybe we’ll be able to watch the first half again tomorrow on the NFHS stream.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 3          Infected                   Died

World             104,866,768           2,276,010

US                     27,140,569              461,504

Virginia               513,339                  6,575

Augusta County       4,807                       48

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               895,005  (136,731 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        6,297  (841 of whom have 2nd dose)

February 15 can’t get here quickly enough!  Some good news we got today is that Ann was able to get her vaccine today at Broadway High School.  She wasn’t originally supposed to get hers today but apparently they had some extras while doing the immunizations there today.  Great!

February 4, 2021

Our morning was interesting as the father-son team from Airtight Windows and Doors arrived shortly after our breakfast to replace our upstairs windows.  With the big snowfall we had last week, this presented some challenges to them as part of the roof still had snow on it.  The side which faces east did not so they began on those windows.  I was surprised at how quickly they were able to extract the old ones and insert the new ones.  The new ones look nice and function much better than the 50+ year old ones they replaced.  Due to the snowy roof, they were only able to get three windows.  They are going to come back next week and do the other four.

Today’s weather was a little better—good enough for Lynn to walk twice.  She walked once with Ginny Bauman then walked with me before dinner.  She got in 11,000 steps today.  I did not but still got to walk two miles.

I had plenty of spare time this afternoon so I decided to turn the genealogy work I had done into web pages and post them on my website.  I ended up putting three routes on my website, all with links to each generation.  The lineage routes were 1) the Hill ancestry back to 1589   2) the ancestral path for 32 generations through the Hill, Dixon, McMillan, Gambrill, Nall, Holloway, Mathews, Greville, Glanville, and Greneteville families all the way back to the year 1026 in France and England.  Included in this path is the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1656 – 1660, Samuel Mathews and 3) an ancestral path through the Hill, Cook, and Goodson families back to 1550 in England.

Tonight Gus had a JV basketball game at Buffalo Gap which we were able to watch on the NFS network.  We watched in our bedroom while the Gutshalls watched downstairs.  The poor JV’s picked up where they left off last night, unable to score in the first four minutes.  Fortunately, Gap was little better and only led 2 – 0 at that point which is when Gus got in.  He played the rest of the quarter but didn’t see action in the second quarter.  Both teams played miserably with Fort squeaking out a 10 – 9 lead at the half.  I didn’t really keep records but I’m betting the shooting percentage for both teams was somewhere around 10%.

Gus got in the last three minutes of the 3rd quarter.  After shooting terribly all game, Gap hit three consecutive three-pointers to take a 25 – 19 lead at the end of the quarter.  Gus got to play a little in the 4th quarter but it was more of the same.   After Gap went out to a ten point lead in the 4th, Fort made a run and got within three but in the end Gap hit their free throws and won 41 – 34.  Tomorrow the JVs will have their fourth game in four days.  Both play Wilson Memorial    away.  Going into that game, the Fort varsity team is in a three way tie for first place in the district.  Fort, Wilson Memorial, and Staunton all have 6 – 3 records.  So the winner of the Fort – Wilson game will be the district champion if Buffalo Gap beats Staunton, also played tomorrow night.  If Staunton beats Buffalo Gap, they will be co-champions with the winner of the Fort-Wilson game.

Today Johnson and Johnson requested Emergency Use Authorization for its vaccine.  It doesn’t have as high of rating for initially keeping people from being infected with COVID-19, around 70% compared to Pfizer and Moderna’s 95%, but it had a 100% rating of keeping people from being hospitalized or dying after taking it.  So this adds more hope; the key is to get more and more people vaccinated so the spread will stop; thus, the mutations will stop.

Here are today’s statistics: 

February 4          Infected                   Died

World             105,380,028           2,292,100

US                     27,258,651              466,504

Virginia               516,398                  6,650

Augusta County       4,813                       49

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               920,641  (145,284 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        6,767  (974 of whom have 2nd dose)

February 5, 2021

I did more work on my website this morning, adding a link to a detailed genealogy of Lynn’s family which one of her cousins had done.  I think I have an abnormally high sense of providing a legacy for future generations, perhaps because I enjoy my own ancestry so much.  Thus, I loved writing the StoryWorth book from Ann’s 2017 Christmas present and have really liked documenting my life in 50,000+ pictures on Flickr, both of which are available on the website.  Adding the ancestry to it just makes sense, especially since the name of the website is joehillfamily.com.  This blog isn’t written for posterity, though; it is mainly therapy for me to survive in these pandemic times.

Lynn and I have had good discussion lately about our similarity and differences.  Like any couple, there are times that I wish she thought more like I do but then I realize how much my life has been enriched by her thoughts which are so unlike mine.  I told her last night that if I had never met her, I would probably never have gone to Machu Picchu and she would likely not have had a tennis court in her backyard which has proven to be such a nice playground for our grandchildren.  Without her, my children wouldn’t have grown up in the beautiful and safe Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  I joked that I would have missed some of the junk TV shows that she watches in the middle of the night such as Young Sheldon and Big Bang Theory.  Lynn and I strongly agree on some very important matters such as the importance of family and good fiscal management.  We have a good division of duties around the house, I believe.  I wish I were as thoughtful of others as she is.  I admire her ability to socialize with others and marvel at her memory of other people’s names, families, and events.  If the definition of an angel is a superb being sent by God to lead someone in the right direction, she certainly qualifies for that title.

I’m a nostalgic person; Lynn is not.  I am part of a group on Facebook called All of Us West Virginians which now has almost 200,000 members.  Members of that group post daily pictures of the beauty of the Mountain State.  Many members also post nostalgic pictures which leads me to believe I’m not the only one with this propensity.  Maybe it’s something that West Virginians have in their blood.

This afternoon was productive for me.  Lynn had placed an online order at Walmart in Staunton.  Since it wasn’t groceries, they wouldn’t bring them to curbside but they did have a kiosk set up inside the store for pickup orders.  It worked very well.  She had forwarded to me the QR code from her order.  All I had to do was pull that up on my phone, scan it at the kiosk, then one of the 8-10 lockers beside me popped open and there was her order!  I didn’t have to talk to anyone and was in the store less than two minutes.  From there I went to Kroger to pick up two prescriptions I had called in.  I was able to get them via the drive-in window so again it was safe.  Then I went to Central and did some bookkeeping I needed to do.  I got it all done in about an hour, made one stop on the way home to drop off some jellybeans Lynn’s sister Kay had us buy when we were at Costo earlier this week, then I came home in plenty of time to get our usual Friday hamburgers from Old School food truck.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

February 5          Infected                   Died

World             105,864,287           2,306,802

US                     27,358,493              470,244

Virginia               521,467                  6,732

Augusta County       4,856                       50

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               963,953  (157,507 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        7,138  (1,122 of whom have 2nd dose)

Tonight was the last regular season game for Fort Defiance boys basketball.  We’ve really enjoyed watching these 12 games.  And, to be honest, FDHS has exceeded our expectations this season.  Going into tonight’s game, they were 8-3 overall and 6 – 3 in the district.  As I stated in last night’s post, they needed to beat Wilson Memorial to grab at least a share of the district title.  Going into the season, I was aware that 6 of the 11 boys on the team were seniors, three of whom started last year so I didn’t think that Henry would play regularly though I hoped he would see action from time to time.  But throughout the season, as I’ve written about many times in this blog, he had established himself as a very important part of the team.  I haven’t kept season records for everyone on the team, but I believe he was the third leading scorer for the year.  In two of the games he made the crucial winning shots in the last minute.  In addition, for the last several games, Fort had three sophomores in the starting lineup:  Henry, Tyreek Veney, and Kaden Johnson. 

First, as always, was Gus’ JV game.  Both games were away so Lynn and I watched them on my iPad while Ann’s family was in the basement using the TV with AirPlay.  A pleasant surprise was that Gus was on the starting five.  This is his first time all season.  That’s great as an 8th grader since there are plenty of 9th and 10th graders on the team.  Gus played the entire quarter, got lots of rebounds, and hit a nice 10 foot jumper as Fort led 10 – 9 at the end of the quarter.  This was a team which blew them away the first time they played.  Even though this was their fourth game in four days, it was the best quarter I’ve seen them play all season.

He sat out the entire 2nd quarter.  No surprise, it was not a good one for Fort.  The halftime score was 23 – 16 in favor of Wilson Memorial.  He did return to the floor as the second half began but only for three minutes.  The quarter was, unfortunately, more typical of what has happened all season.  Their turnovers and missed shots continued while Wilson poured it on.  The score at the end of the third was 38 – 23.  Gus didn’t play again and they could have used him.  I’m sorry for the way this game ended especially with such a good beginning.  Despite Wilson subbing throughout the quarter, Fort still could get no closer.  The final score was 51 – 37. 

Sure enough, Henry, Tyreek, and Kaden started in this important game.  Henry picked up two fouls in the first quarter and had to come out.  He hadn’t scored but had a bunch of rebounds.  The score when he came out was 7 – 7.  Fort scored the next five and had a 12 – 7 lead as time expired but Landon Simmons hit a miracle half court throw at the buzzer to give FDHS a 15 – 8 lead.  Henry came back in with 6:39 and Fort ahead 18 – 9.  Henry scored but then picked up a third foul call on a play in which he didn’t touch the player so he had to come back out.  All of the Fort boys seem to contribute and FDHS built up a nice 30 – 17 lead and closed out the half leading 33 – 21.  It was fun to see so many different kids contributing.  Kaden Johnson hit two nice three pointers in the second quarter.

I rarely agree with referees’ calls that go against my team but tonight the whistles were especially bad for Henry.  He may have had one foul in the first half but he was called for three.  I hope the referees take the time to watch the replay of this game on NFHS and see what bad calls they made.  With Henry on the bench to start the second half, Wilson scored the first four points before Ryan made a 3 point play.  With 4:33 to go in the third, Tyreek hit a three pointer after Wilson had scored to make the score 39 – 29. At this point, Henry came back in.  Fort made a run in the last minute after Wilson had mounted a comeback to take the lead 50 – 37 going into the 4th quarter.  With 5:09 to go Fort still clung to a 55 – 43 lead.  Henry got the two to give them 55.  Then Henry drove and made a great reverse layup to run the score to 57 – 48.  With 2:35 Tyreek buried two free throws to make it 59 – 48.  Fort’s lead was 59 – 50 with 1:42 to go.  With 1:20 to go Henry was fouled but missed the front end of a one and one but Fort held them without scoring and Ryan was fouled this time.  Ryan also missed the front end of a one and one.  Wilson fouled Henry with 31 seconds to go.  He zipped both to make the score 63 – 51 and seal the win.  The final was 65 – 53.  It was a great team win. 

Best of all, we learned that Staunton had lost to Buffalo Gap which makes Fort the District Champions!  On our Family chat session which we maintain throughout the game, my comment was “In December, if anyone would have told me that Fort would be District Champions, Henry would start and be a key player on a team with five seniors and three starters returning, and the season would be played uninterrupted despite COVID-19 I might have doubted that.  Just saying.”

February 6, 2021

According to Henry, the banners inside the FDHS gym indicate that the last time Fort won a district championship in basketball was 1996.  That makes 25 years!  This is really something to celebrate.  There was a really nice video on WSHV Channel 3 Sports last night about the game including the reverse layup that Henry made in the 4th quarter.  And the Waynesboro newspaper not only had a good article about the game but the cover photo shows Henry taking a charge from a Wilson player.  He got good press!  He deserves it.

This morning was a busy morning for us with lots of errands to run.  We started at Central where we got a big box of food for the Aquirre family plus some treats for Juan Pablo.  Then we stopped at Aldi’s grocery store so Lynn could buy a few items.  After that, we stopped at the post office in Fishersville for her to mail a gift to our friends Hal and Diane in Arizona.  We then went to Waynesboro where Lynn gave Juan Pablo his treats then we went to Kohl’s where she returned an item to Amazon.  Finally, we drove to the Aquirre’s home in Natural Chimneys to drop off the food box.  We got everything done we had planned.

After lunch, I did my usual Saturday trash run before making it back in time to watch the WVU – Kansas basketball game.  WVU’s history against Kansas basketball is not good so I didn’t come into the game with high expectations despite the fact that WVU was ranked 17th and Kansas 23rd currently this season.  WVU hopped out to a 9-2 lead and maintained a lead the entire first half.  The score was 44 – 34 at the break.  But within two minutes into the second half the lead had evaporated and the score was 47 all.  It was a terrible 2nd half start for WVU and a great one for Kansas.  But the Mounties rebounded, shot well, and won a rare game against the Jayhawks.  The final score was WVU 91, Kansas 79.  A great win for WVU!

Tonight we had soup from Central UMC for dinner.  We weren’t crazy about it so we loaded up and went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  As always, it was delicious.

Most everyone we know who is in the 65 and over category and wants a vaccine has been able to get it, thankfully.  But that isn’t true everywhere.  We talked to my sister today who has not been able to secure an appointment in Altoona PA despite the fact that she is 75 years old.  I wish she were here because we’ve had multiple opportunities to get ourselves and our acquaintenances inoculated.

The number of COVID-19 cases have definitely dropped off, nationwide.  I’m not sure that Virginia or Augusta County has seen much of a slowdown, though.  Here are today’s stats:

February 6          Infected                   Died

World             106,308,059           2,318,294

US                     27,510,198              473,214

Virginia               526,176                  6,773

Augusta County       4,880                       50

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,022,150  (178,708 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        7,349  (1,169 of whom have 2nd dose)

It is great to see that a million Virginians have received at least their first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.  There are 8.5 million Virginians so this is about 12%.

We’re supposed to get another snowstorm tonight.  But tomorrow’s temperatures are supposed to be in the 40’s and the snow is to have stopped by noon so perhaps this one won’t be a show-stopper. 

February 7, 2021

The snow came down in bunches this morning, leaving around 6 inches on our ground despite the temperature being above freezing.  It was a very pretty snow since the wind wasn’t blowing at all which meant the trees were quite pretty.  It took me over an hour to do all of my shoveling of the sidewalks, between the cars, back porch, around the mailbox, and other places that wonderful neighbor Bee Myers didn’t get with his snowplow as he made two passes through our driveway.

One issue the last two snowfalls has caused is that our satellite dish has gotten covered with snow; thus, DISH network doesn’t work.  When this happened a week ago, I used duct tape to combine an old broom with another pole to make a 10 foot long device for removing the snow from the dish.  It worked then and it worked again this morning.

I’ve been thinking about some friends of mine that I haven’t communicated with in nearly a year.  This time last year, I texted some subset of this group almost every week.  They are my tennis friends and they include Rob Cale, John Gorra, Pat Peason, Marc Kinder, Lewis Moore, Lloyd Meadows, Bob Stripling, Jonathan Mason, Jack Ballurio, Todd Carr, and Paul Lightner.  I haven’t seen nor heard from any of these guys since last March.  There are a couple of other tennis players I have crossed paths with such as Darrell Miller and Won Un.  It’s like the pandemic cut the lines of communication among us.  Maybe after my second vaccination I’ll try to find out if any of them are playing again.

Lynn had an idea yesterday for a project—to make mugs for each of the FDHS basketball players and coaches with the words “Shenandoah District Champions 2020-2021” on them.  Her Cricut machine can create the letters but it takes a long time to get them placed on the mugs.  Ann bought mugs last night and Lynn spent all day today working on this project.  Both her craft skills and work ethic were on display today as she churned the mugs out one by one.  She bought chocolates to put inside the mugs and plans to give them to the players and coaches tomorrow. 

Though the day started out with six inches of snow, by mid-afternoon the roads were not only clear of snow, they were mostly dry.  The benefit of plowing them early paid off as the sun bore down.  The same was true of my sidewalk, porch, and driveway.  They were all clean and dry by 3:00 pm.  The yard still had plenty of snow.  So did our roof which I had hoped would not be the case since one day this coming week the men from Airtight Windows and Doors are returning to install the four remaining upstairs windows at our house.  They might not be able to do it on Monday but surely by Tuesday the roof will be clear as the forecast is for temperatures well above freezing for the next few days.

My only job for the afternoon was to go to Kroger to pickup a curbside order we had placed yesterday.  There were a few items on the order we wanted for dinner and we had correctly figured out that by mid-afternoon the roads would be fine when we placed the order yesterday.

Today was Super Bowl Sunday.  Before COVID-19, we always had a dinner with Ann’s family with lots of finger foods.  Since we couldn’t do that this year, we made some Pigs in a Blanket using the miniature hot dogs and crescent rolls then took them to their house.  The kids love them.

Rather than watch the Super Bowl from start to finish, we made a quick run to Harrisonburg around kickoff time.  Lynn needed two more mugs to complete her craft project for the FDHS basketball team plus some bags to put the gifts in.  We got back near the end of the first quarter.  She really worked hard on this project today and her back was sore from sitting in the hard kitchen chairs for so long.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 7          Infected                   Died

World             106,673,989           2,326,773

US                     27,609,213              474,933

Virginia               529,125                  6,778

Augusta County       4,897                       50

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,072,748  (195,970 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        7,658  (1,338 of whom have 2nd dose)

The number of new infections in the US is under 100,000 for the first time in a long time.  Augusta County currently has 123 hospitalizations which is a lot.

February 8, 2021

I think I made a mistake yesterday.  I was talking to Lynn on the phone on my way home from the Kroger pickup and asked how her mugs were coming along.  She said they were almost done.  I suggested to her that she could add “FDHS” to the side of each mug and she shrugged at that suggestion.  In fact, she thought I was being critical of her work and that was certainly not the case.  Later she apologized for snapping at my suggestion and I thought the issue was over.   Well, at 2:00 AM she was awake and I asked why.  She said she thought her mugs were unfinished because they didn’t have the FDHS on them.  So out of the bed she popped and worked until 3:30 AM when all seventeen cups had the school’s initials on the side opposite the side she put the basketball on.  The mugs really look good.  This morning she added three coats of Mod Podge to each cup which makes them dishwasher safe.  Also this morning we printed a note to put inside each of them along with a label for each mug with each player’s name and jersey number.  She made mugs for the manager, three coaches, athletic director, and principal, too.  Then she filled all the mugs with candy, wrapped them, and added the label for each.  They really looked great.  She didn’t seem to mind working so hard on this project.  After all, FDHS hasn’t been district champions in boys basketball for 25 years!  Josh picked them up tonight on his way to the game so were delivered to everyone.

Today I made two trips to Central.  The first was in the morning because I had promised the new duo who are counting that I would be around if they had any questions.  It’s a good thing because they had several.  While I was there I got several tasks done including setting up the February 15 payroll, paying the monthly federal taxes, paying three bills, and making the deposit after they counted it.  My second trip was after lunch to help unload the delivery truck from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  The order that was placed for this week was the largest one ever—there were six pallets completely loaded with food.  This will supply our Food Pantry for the rest of this week and for next since February 15 is a holiday (President’s Day).  The amount of food that the Food Bank distributes to Pantries such as ours is really amazing.  At no cost to us or to the recipients, we got over 2,000 pounds of meat, milk, potatoes, milk, beans, canned vegetables, etc.  This order had a lot of frozen meat on it.

We’ve had two snowfalls in the last two weeks and more is forecast.  The forecast for Thursday night is for us to get 2 – 5 inches more snow.  Airtight Windows and Doors is going to try to get our windows finished tomorrow since the weather forecast is nice for then.  Tomorrow we’re supposed to have temperatures in the 50’s. 

It’s been nice to not write anything about Donald Trump for days.  His impeachment case starts tomorrow in the Senate.  How can he not be held accountable for inciting the riot?  He lied about the election results and called for fighting.  He should be found guilty.

In the news today, the COVID-19 UK variant’s cases are doubling every ten days in the US and may soon be the dominant strain of COVID-19.  Biden says there will be more than 300 million vaccines delivered by the end of the summer.  I hope so!  The Johnson and Johnson vaccine should be approved for Emergency Use Authorization before the end of this month.  They have promised 100 million doses by June once it has been approved.  Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 8          Infected                   Died

World             106,962,985           2,334,923

US                     27,686,809              476,284

Virginia                530,825                  6,820

Augusta County       4,931                       50

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,105,102  (206,942 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        7,705  (1,352 of whom have 2nd dose)

Virginia proudly announces on the Department of Health website that over 10% of its residents now have at least one shot of the vaccine.  This time next week Lynn and I will have both of ours!  Augusta County still has a high number of hospitalizations—up to 124 now. 

Tonight Henry’s Fort Defiance basketball team had a regional quarterfinal game against Fluvanna County.  The game was a home game so Josh and Ann were able to attend while Lynn and I watched from our house.  Personally, my thoughts were that this season has already exceeded my expectations so I knew I wouldn’t be upset if Fort came out on the losing end of the game.

Fort went with its three sophomore lineup to start:  Henry Gutshall, Tyreek Veney, and Kaden Johnson plus junior Josh Jones and senior Ryan Cook.  It didn’t take Fluvanna long to score with a three pointer than two follow up two pointers.  Meanwhile, Tyreek missed his first five shots and Ryan missed one.  Then Fluvanna hit another three pointer to lead 10 – 0.  Tyreek finally got a three ponter to go then Kaden hit one to make the score 10 – 6.   A Ryan drive closed the score to 10 – 8.  Unfortunately, Fluvanna answered with an eight point run to make it 18 – 8.  During this stretch, they got almost every rebound and Henry picked up two fouls and had to come out.  Ryan and Tyreek were cold as ice; meanwhile Fluvanna shot and rebounded until they made it to go up 25 – 8.  A three pointer near the end of the quarter made it 25 – 11 at the end of the first.  There were no calls for over the back despite the fact that Fluvanna routinely did so.

In the second quarter, Henry returned to the court.   Fort went on a nine point run to make the score 25 – 20 with 4:18 to go in the half.  Tyreek got hot and soon FDHS was within three before Fluvanna answered.  FDHS did make it respectable by halftime, 30 – 26.  From 17 down in the first quarter to only 4 down at half was a great comeback. 

To start the second half, Henry was back on the court but he quickly bumped a kid and got his third foul.  Poor Henry!  His fouls were totally inconsequential and should never have been called.  Fluvanna hit two consecutive three pointers to push the lead to ten before Ryan scored on a two straight drives.  Then Fluvanna hit another three pointer and the score was 39 – 30 with 4:39 to go in the 3rd.   A three point play by Fluvanna pushed the score to 42 – 30.  Fluvanna’s lead grew to 44 – 30 with 2:54 to go in the quarter.  At that point, Henry came back in.  Fluvanna pulled back to a 16 point lead, 48 – 32 before Henry was fouled trying to make a put-back.  He hit one of two.  The score was 48 – 33 at the end of the third. 

To start the fourth quarter, Henry sat out. Meanwhile, Fort could do nothing right as Fluvanna went on a 15 – 2 run to widen its lead to 63 – 35.  Henry didn’t play a second in the quarter; the coach substituted his seniors the last few minutes.  It was a good season for the Indians but not a good game to finish on.  The final score was 65 – 41. 

February 9, 2021

Weather-wise, today was the best day we’ve had in a while with temperatures making it to the 50’s by mid-afternoon.  Since the weather was good today but the forecast for Thursday is for more snow, the Airtight Windows and Doors men came to get the rest of the upstairs windows in.  Actually, it was “man” instead of “men” since only the son of the father-son team came.  The father, Steve Johnson, broke a finger yesterday.  Unfortunately, when the morning started the roof still had plenty of snow on it which prevented them from getting an early start on the front windows and especially the small one in Kay’s room. 

Corey Johnson, Steve’s son, worked all day and got our windows finished.  All seven of them look much better and certainly function better now.  These windows can be tilted in for cleaning and even have a night latch where you can open them a certain distance and lock it so they can’t be opened any more.  I told Corey that we would like to accept the proposal to replace our downstairs windows as well but he said he would need to get a new quote from his father.  Plus, they’re backed up a lot now but that suits us fine.  Whenever they can get them replaced will do.

I stayed home all day because of the work being done to the windows.  Lynn had to go to the Rockingham County Schools Administrative Office to pick up an iPad because she is going to be testing a student tomorrow at Ottobine Elementary School.  She’s actually scheduled to test students at Ottobine on Wednesday, Fulks Run Elementary on Thursday, and back at Ottobine on Friday.  However, the forecast calls for several more inches of snow on Wednesday night so I don’t know how much more testing she’ll be doing after tomorrow.

Because the weather was so good today, I grilled steaks for us for dinner plus I made baked potatoes.  Lynn cooked some mushrooms so we had a real feast for dinner.  After dinner, we had some running around to do-she had to pick up something she had ordered from a Cub Run Elementary School teacher whom we met at the Staunton Mall plus she wanted to buy some items from Old Navy in Waynesboro.  After that, I didn’t have much trouble convincing her that we should go to Smiley’s for dessert especially since the flavor of the week this week is her favorite, Death by Chocolate.

I spent a good deal of time today working on a project which I won’t elaborate about yet but which is for a family member.  It is something that I may take to Staples to get printed and bound.  I’ll tell more about this project at a later date.

The news today was dominated by the first day of Trump’s 2nd impeachment hearings in the Senate.  The Democrats played a 13 minute video to start their case that made you cringe just to watch.  He is as guilty as he can be but it is doubtful that 2/3rds of the Senate will vote to convict him.  As one of the Democratic speakers said, if what he did isn’t impeachable then what is?

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 9          Infected                   Died

World             107,376,511           2,348,684

US                     27,790,347              479,390

Virginia                534,116                  6,898

Augusta County       4,962                       52

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,130,763  (217,605 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        8,049  (1,558 of whom have 2nd dose)

Though the US statistics are improving, I am still concerned about the local situation.  Augusta County’s number of hospitalizations continue to rise—up to 130 now.  And the percentage of those infected who have died is now well above 1%.  Looking back, in June only 8 people were hospitalized in Augusta County and in August this had only risen to 17.  By November this number was in the 40’s and was at 76 at the end of 2020.  That number has skyrocketed since then.

February 10, 2021

Lynn left very early today to get to Ottobine Elementary School to test a student.  She had to give the student four different tests so it took all morning.  In the meantime, I got lots of small tasks done around the house plus I made a trash run at Ann and Josh’s request. 

We were both dragging a little today because we were up late last night watching a great WVU – Texas Tech basketball game.  We went to bed early then noticed that the game came on at 9:00 so we watched it.  It was a great win for the Mountaineers who came into the game ranked #14 and Texas Tech was ranked #7.  Plus, the game was an away game in Lubbock, Texas.

I did some more work on my new project today and pretty much got it ready.  I’m likely going to have it printed at Staples and am trying to decide between sending it off to Staples which would then be mailed back here or dropping it off at our local Staples.  I really don’t want to go inside Staples (or other stores) until I’ve had that second vaccine.

I told Lynn tonight that my taste buds were still working fine as we had another good supper so I’m fairly certain I don’t have COVID-19 yet.  She said her sister Kay’s taste buds are still not back to normal though she got the virus around a month or more ago.

The forecast for tonight was originally for several inches of snow tonight but now it seems like we’ll just get a little sleet and snow.  It may be enough to cause Lynn’s scheduled testing at Fulks Run to be postponed.  I don’t have anything scheduled for tomorrow so my day will likely not change regardless of the snowfall.  Thursday night will probably bring us more snow but that forecast has changed some as well.  It seems that the meteorologists are having trouble pinning down our forecast for the next several days.  The latest is that we’ll get 2”– 5” of snow by the time this all ends on Friday.

I watched more of the impeachment trial today.  The Democrats continue to make their case that Trump prodded and incited those who rioted on January 6 with months of lies, not just his speech that day.  They showed many videos today of the January 6 insurrection.  It must have been really scary for those in the Capitol building that day.

Today Lynn got a call from her brother that he had a check for her share of Mr. and Mrs. Hanger’s estate.  So we went into Staunton to pick it up then drove back to Bridgewater to deposit it.  Lynn has opted to divide it among our children and do it now instead of later.  We have all the money we should ever need (I hope!) whereas each of them can use some extra money now.  Her parents’ estate wasn’t a huge one because the expenses to house Mrs. Hanger at The Legacy for years were great.  But at least her parents were able to support themselves throughout their lives, including the health issues they had in their last years of life, and still ended up with some money for their children.  We can all aspire to be able to do that.

On our way back from the Bridgewater bank we stopped to pick up two quarts of Lynn’s favorite ice cream, Death by Chocolate.  She has plenty of her favorite ice cream now in our freezers.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 10        Infected                   Died

World             107,806,179           2,362,412

US                     27,885,171              482,595

Virginia                537,319                  6,932

Augusta County       4,980                       52

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,156,117  (229,345 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        8,332  (1,656 of whom have 2nd dose)

Augusta County’s hospitalized increased to 131.  The number of new cases in the US fell below 100,000 which is better than it was in January.  But Virginia still had 3,200 new cases.   I just checked for the statistics a month ago:  on January 10 the US had 212,000 new cases from the previous day and Virginia had 5,100 new infections.  So I suppose the situation is improving somewhat.

Nationwide, over 33 million people, 10.2% of the population, have now received at least one vaccine.  I texted Mary Katherine today to find out if she had any progress on getting an appointment for hers but I didn’t get a response.  Jim already has had his second shot.  So has my brother.  Lynn and I get ours this coming Monday.  I’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief after that.

February 11, 2021

The snow that was forecast for last night did not materialize.  We had a little rain in the morning but the temperature remained above freezing so the roads were fine.  Lynn was able to go to Fulks Run Elementary School to test the student there.  She waited to leave home until she had called the school and verified that he was present, which makes a lot of sense.  Fulks Run is 41 miles from here.

I may be bored for the next several days but I do not want to endanger myself now after being safe for the past eleven months with only four days to go until I am completely vaccinated.  I got a request to get some items from Costco for our Food Bank last night but I asked Caroline Jones if I could wait until after my vaccination to get the items.  She was fine with that.  Lynn did go out in order to do her testing and she also made a stop at Aldi’s today but I know she was very self-protective.

I spent a good deal of time today watching the impeachment hearing again.  There is no doubt in my mind that Trump is guilty of inciting the riot.  Those who were caught and are being convicted now are paying for their behavior—why is their leader not?  The Democrat impeachment managers presented overwhelming evidence about Trump’s incendiary behavior in the years, months, and days prior to January 6.  They demonstrated how he called for his mob to come to Washington on the day Congress was to certify the votes of the Electoral College then told them to “fight like hell” to “stop the steal.”  They showed how he did nothing to discourage the rioters or check on the fate of Congress and Vice President Pence during the insurrection.  He showed no remorse for what happened.  The more I watched today the angrier I got.  Yet the news reports are that the Republicans in the Senate are unfazed by this evidence.  Where are their souls?  Where is their allegiance?  Where is their conscience?

I like the way the impeachment presenters all referred to the crowd as the “Trump mob.”  One of the impeachment presenters said “I’m not afraid of Trump running for office again.  I’m afraid he will run and lose because look what happens when he does.” 

My sister texted that she got her first vaccine today.  Hurrah!  She, Butch, and I exchanged a few comments.  One of his I strongly agree with, “It feels like we’ve all been wondering which we’ll get first—covid or the vaccine.”

President Biden today said that there would be enough vaccinations in the US by the end of July for every person.  That’s great news.  Right now there are many places with shortages.  Here are today’s statistics:

February 11        Infected                   Died

World             108,259,566           2,376,620

US                     27,992,776              486,561

Virginia                541,018                  6,958

Augusta County       5,007                       52

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,191,875  (245,471 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        8,792  (1,866 of whom have 2nd dose)

The number of hospitalizations in Augusta County continues to climb.  Today the number is 134. 

It was snowing when we went to bed this evening.  The forecast was for 2” – 4” of snow.  Lynn won’t be testing her student at Ottobine Elementary tomorrow—Rockingham County has already called off school. 

February 12, 2021

Indeed, we got about 4” of snow overnight.  So, as I have several mornings already this month, I spent an hour shoveling off our cars and sidewalks.  Today was a little colder than the other days; it was around 26o when I was outside.  The forecast for today is cloudy.  The sun’s radiance will melt the sidewalks and driveway if the layer of snow has been removed so that’s why I shoveled first thing. 

What a pleasure it is to have a neighbor like Bee Myers.  He’s lived across from us all 33 years we have lived in this house.  When it snows, he’s johnny-on-the-spot with his jeep and snow plow.  With his plow he gets the length of our driveway so all I have to shovel is around the cars and on the sidewalks.  He plowed our driveway once in December, once on January 31, and he’s had to do the job several times this month and it isn’t even mid-month yet.

Lynn had lots of craft projects to work on today.  One thing I did was to replace the Christmas dishes with our Fiesta ones. 

Lynn heard from Elizabeth that Gilberto is doing much better now and is able to walk around his house.  That’s such good news.

I was enraged watching Trump’s lawyers give their defense today.  Attorney Schoen made a big deal about Trump being denied due process in this case as if to say that it wasn’t a fair trial.  Yet three of the Senators met with him and the other Trump attorneys last evening.  How fair is it that jurors meet with the defense lawyers?  A Facebook post I saw today said “If I ever commit a major crime, I really hope the jury is made up of the people who helped me do it.”  Then, after complaining that Trump’s words were taken out of context, they played a long video in which numerous Democratic legislators used the word “fight” but every single one of them was taken out of context.  And none of the film clips they showed where Democrats used the word “fight” resulted in our Capitol building being ransacked.

Another attorney blasted the Democratic impeachment team for their hatred of Donald Trump.  No president in my life has been more full of hatred than Donald Trump.  Indeed, he is a person worthy of hate.

The news media was in complete agreement that Trump’s lawyers today were more interested in pleasing him than they were in mounting a reasonable defense.  Their defense was to attack the Democrats.  The defense made no reference to Trump’s tweets that the rioters were “special people” whom he loved and that the “day would be remembered forever.”  They didn’t mention why he made no attempt to come to their rescue or to the Vice President’s.  They didn’t mention that he to this day has not conceded the election. 

Since I really had nothing else to do today, I watched the impeachment hearings all afternoon.  That was a few hours of my life I’ll not get back….

After the defense had rested its case, Senators were allowed to submit questions for the two teams to answer.  One question that caught my eye was from a Senator who asked if, indeed, the teams believed the Big Lie, that the election was stolen from Trump.  Of course, the Democrats refused it vehemently and cited the 61 court cases that went against Trump.  But the irony is that the Republican team refused to answer the question.

For dinner tonight we got hamburgers from the Old School food truck.  After all, today is Friday, snow or no snow.  Actually by the time we went the roads were fine.  We didn’t just get our dinner, we also got dinner for Lynn’s good friend Bonnie Ball and her husband Ron.  Ron suffers from Alzheimer’s and spent the previous two years at a facility but now is at home.  Lynn wanted to help them out so she asked Bonnie if we could bring them burgers and fries from the food truck.

After dinner we made a quick run into Central UMC to pick up some food for the Aguirre family for this weekend.  Pastor Won had picked up a lot of donated food from Food Lion so we filled two boxes of it and brought it back here.  We’ll take it to them tomorrow, if weather allows, or Sunday.  The weather forecast for Sunday is good.  Tomorrow is iffy.  While we were at CUMC I also checked to see how much treasurer’s work was waiting there for me to do.  It turns out there were only two bills to get paid, neither of which needs to be paid immediately, so I put off doing that since we were rushed tonight.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 12        Infected                   Died

World             108,687,432           2,391,794

US                     28,093,824              492,119

Virginia                544,209                  6,966

Augusta County       5,025                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,243,231  (270,738 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        8,974  (1,968 of whom have 2nd dose)

Augusta County had 135 people hospitalized as it continues to climb.  Three more days until we get our second vaccination!  Almost 11% of the national population has been vaccinated; Virginia’s percentage is a little higher at 11.4%.  Augusta County’s rate is 11.9%.

February 13, 2021

Today was income tax day for me.  I installed the 2020 version of TurboTax and spent a good bit of the morning entering data from our W2’s and 1099’s.  Our income was down a little in 2020 compared to 2019 because Lynn worked less for Albemarle and Rockingham Counties.  But we still are slated to get a good refund from both the federal and state governments.  I will likely wait a few days to submit this but I think I got everything done today.

The impeachment was front and center again today on the news.  I spent the entire day watching this including the 57 – 43 vote to acquit Trump.  Of course, I thought the Democratic team made an undeniable case against Trump but the voting was pre-determined.  In their closing statements, the House managers emphasized how Trump did nothing to slow or stop the insurrection and complimented those who participated.  The Republican lawyers in their closing statement didn’t defend Trump at all but instead attacked the Democratic team and everyone else in the Democratic party.  They even implied that the insurrectionists came both from the left and the right and that Biden and Harris had contributed to the climate of civil disobedience.  I was furious and wanted the Democrats to ask them how many Biden signs were carried by the insurrectionists.  But immediately after the vote came the real jaw-dropper:  Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader of the Republicans, stood up and told how he believed exactly what the Democrats had said, that Trump had instigated everything that happened on January 6, but still voted to acquit him on the technicality that he didn’t think the Senate could impeach a person no longer in office.  This is the same exact person who, prior to January 20 when he was the Senate majority leader, told the House they couldn’t bring their case to the Senate prior to January 20 because he wouldn’t call them back in session.  What a hypocrite!  The 57 – 43 vote, including seven Republicans, is the largest guilty vote ever for impeachment in the United States but it just wasn’t enough since a 2/3rds majority was required (67 votes).  This was a kangaroo court. McConnell himself said Trump could still be charged in a criminal court; we can only hope he is.

Lynn and I were both bored to tears today.  Thank goodness I had the impeachment to watch.  I had hoped to see the WVU – Oklahoma basketball game (which the Mountaineers lost 91 – 90 in double overtime) but it was on ESPN+ which is a paid subscription channel.  The outside weather was very ugly today with freezing rain coming down at times, ice on our sidewalks, etc.  We were stuck inside, hiding in our foxholes, waiting until Monday at 12:45.

I admit that I watched the entire hearing and the comments afterwards on CNN which is definitely a Democratic network.  But I find nothing, nothing that the commentators said that I could disagree with.  Their arguments, and the arguments of the House managers, were just common sense and factual.  If what Trump did is not impeachable, nothing is.  Some of the CNN commentators made this point as well.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 13        Infected                   Died

World             109,066,969           2,403,310

US                     28,188,339              495,725

Virginia                547,424                  6,996

Augusta County       5,047                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,298,573  (303,942 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        9,226  (2,201 of whom have 2nd dose)

There were still 135 Augusta County residents hospitalized today.  I have spent the last eleven months trying to not be one of these.  I am very, very thankful that Lynn and I have somehow not yet been infected.  Sadly, there are now 53 Augusta County residents who have succumbed to COVID-19 as of today.

February 14, 2021

Today was a very good Valentine’s Day.  Lynn and I gave each other cards at breakfast, as always.  I really liked the one she gave me and I think she had a similar opinion of the ones I gave her.  However, my present for her wasn’t given until afternoon—a Smiley’s Death by Chocolate Ice Cream cake.  She and I each had a delicious piece this afternoon and she froze the rest for another day.

After my Sunday School Zoom class, we ate an early lunch then headed out.  Our first stop was to drop off a loaf of bread she had baked for her friend Cheryl.  Then we drove to Natural Chimneys to take the two boxes of food we had picked up for the Aguirre family at Central on Friday night.  From there we went to Central where Lynn dropped me off to do a little treasurer’s work while she went to T J Maxx to buy a new pocketbook.  It didn’t take me long to get my work done and likewise she quickly got a pocketbook so she picked me up and we were on our way to Smiley’s for the ice cream cake.

Actually I had ordered two cakes, one for her and one for the Gutshall family.  So after we picked up the cakes we dropped them by along with another loaf of her bread for Ann and family. 

When we got home she walked for a while in the frigid cold with Ginny Bauman then we ate our ice cream cake.  A short time later we ate our dinner which tonight was pancakes. 

We spent some time talking about our upcoming trip to the Greenbrier.  There are going to be seven of us there:  John and Ginny Bauman, Paul and Sandy Porterfield plus their daughter Emily, and the two of us.  The weather forecast isn’t great—we won’t be able to enjoy much of the outdoors there but that’s OK. 

Our plan for tomorrow is to eat breakfast here then pack.  She has a 11:30 interpreting session that will likely last 15 minutes or so.  By that time we’ll have the car packed so the minute it is over we’ll head to Augusta Health for our very much anticipated follow-up vaccines.  From Augusta Health we’ll go straight to the Greenbrier and should be there in plenty of time for the afternoon tea.

Here are today’s coronavirus stats:

February 14        Infected                   Died

World             109,367,294           2,410,509

US                     28,258,366              497,047

Virginia                549,999                  7,012

Augusta County       5,060                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,323,448  (317,526 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        9,379  (2,344 of whom have 2nd dose)

The number of Americans who acquired COVID-19 in the last 24 hours was under 100,000 and is the lowest this statistic has been since the first of November. But just when things seem to be going better, I have to keep my eye on the number of hospitalizations in Augusta County.  Today the number is an all-time high, 138. This is very worrisome.

February 15, 2021

What a big day!  Getting our second vaccination!  Going to the Greenbrier!  Visiting with friends, eating well, being pampered.  We have looked forward to this for so long.  I was like an excited child last night, unable to sleep well.  We both were up and packed long before we could leave since Lynn had a 11:30 Zoom interpreting session. 

We both killed time in the morning until her Zoom then hustled to Augusta Health.  It only took a few minutes until we had our second vaccination.  YAHOO!!  YAHOO!!  We waited the required fifteen minutes then we were off for the Greenbrier.

The drive down was quick but not pretty.  It was foggy, rained some, and was in the mid 30’s.  But we got here just fine.   When we arrived, we were surprised to see a backup of people registering.  In all the times we’ve come here we’ve not experienced this.  Apparently, there are a lot of people cashing in on the Greenbrier’s reduced rates as were we. 

Since we stay here often, we are a member of the Loyalty club, earning points with each stay.  The advantage of the points is that we were able to upgrade to a nicer room though at the cheap rate.  Indeed, our room was very nice.

Plus, another advantage of staying here so much is that we know where the secret parking places were.  With such a big crowd, there was no easy parking in sight.  But our secret place had a few empty spots so that’s where I parked while Lynn came on up to the room.

We got to the Greenbrier around 2:15.  Paul, Sandy and Emily were here at 3:30.  We met them at the afternoon tea where we enjoyed cookies and tea then talked for several hours.  The large number of people staying here plus the social distancing requirements made it difficult to get a dinner reservation.  We actually had discovered this before we came and the earliest we could secure a reservation for tonight was 8:30.  That’s usually our bedtime!  John and Ginny Bauman made it here around 5:00 and chose to eat dinner in their rooms so we didn’t get a chance to chat with them but had plenty of time to catch up with Paul, Sandy, and Emily. 

Paul and Sandy do so much for other people in their region of North Carolina.  Paul was a successful forester then got into real estate where his work has really taken off.  Every time we’ve visited with them over the past several years his phone keeps ringing.  But much of their business is now to help other people, especially some Hispanic families around them in Grifton, NC.  They finance homes for families, help others buy and sell their properties, and are generally like a rich uncle to a lot of people. 

Our dinner was at the restaurant called The Forum.  It was delicious!  I had a pork chop with asparagus, polenta, and a Greenbrier peach.  Lynn had an angel hair pasta dish. 

It is with great joy that I list today’s coronavirus statistics since today is the first day that Lynn and I are counted in the set of FULLY VACCINATED:

February 15        Infected                   Died

World             109,664,104           2,418,013

US                     28,316,305              498,197

Virginia                551,538                  7,016

Augusta County       5,064                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,367,319  (337,968 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        9,403  (2,356 of whom have 2nd dose)

The numbers are showing some positive signs.  Virginia had only 4 new deaths today and Augusta County had only 4 new cases.  And, as I’ve been writing about over and over, there are now two residents of 296 Leaport Road included in the number who got their second dose.

We were both very tired and got to bed late but both aware that today was a monumental day.  We are very thankful.

February 16, 2021

Neither of us had any reaction to our vaccination.  We’ve heard of plenty of others who did but many of them took the Moderna version.  Both of us did well with our Pfizer one.  And now with each day we are becoming less susceptible to COVID-19.  Supposedly, it takes about a week to achieve full immunity.

The Greenbrier has adapted to the pandemic in small ways that were noticeable to us.  At yesterday’s tea, instead of having the cookies laid out in buffet style, they were pre-placed on plates and the plates distributed.  At the restaurant, occupancy was at 50%.  There is an expectation to wear masks everywhere except while eating.  There was no turn-down service at night—I’m sure that is to limit the number of times an employee comes into each room.  These are minor, minor changes; the good thing is that the Greenbrier has survived in what must have been a very tough year for them.  Selfishly, we wanted them to stay open because we had purchased a couple of gift cards for ourselves in the past couple of years which were at a good discount and we didn’t want to lose the money on the cards.  But more importantly, the hotel has remained a great place for us to meet with friends.

We had a wonderful breakfast in the main dining hall.  All seven of us met and ate together.  The food and service were superb, no surprise.  After that, the Porterfields went on a Bunker Tour while we and the Baumans went to the history presentation.

We’ve been to the history presentation at least a dozen times.  The one who usually presents it is Bob Conte, the official Greenbrier historian.  He is a great speaker, very entertaining and always shares something new. Indeed, everytime we see this presentation we learn something new about the Greenbrier.  Today was no exception. 

After it, we relaxed then met up with the Porterfields for an ice cream lunch at Draper’s.  Everything at the Greenbrier is expensive except for their great ice cream.  For only $5 you can order a huge sundae of your choice of any flavor plus any toppings you want.  It was more than filling especially given that we had such a big breakfast.

During the afternoon, Emily and Sandy came to our room because Emily had offered to help Lynn with her hurting back.  As I’ve detailed in this blog, her back has been hurting for months, probably injured on the day we moved the Pergola swings to the shed.  Emily gave Lynn a mini-message then she and Sandy showed her how to loosen up the back muscles by standing against a wall with a tennis ball (actually she had a lacrosse ball today) between her and the wall and rolling it by moving her back.  It seemed to work very well for Lynn.  Both of us were very thankful of this relief.

We made it to the 4:00 tea but weren’t hungry and our dinner reservations were for 5:00.  All seven of us were able to eat together at Draper’s.  Lynn and I shared a hamburger and fries—one of the smallest meals we’ve ever had here but it was more than filling.  The conversation was again superb.

We were too tired to go to the casino or do anything else so we came back to our rooms for an early retiral.  Before that we had checked at the check-out desk about our otions for the next two days.  The issue is that there is a major snowstorm coming Wednesday night which is to bring around 4” of snow here plus freezing rain on Thursday morning when we are scheduled to return home.  Plus, Thursday night we’re supposed to get another 4” – 8” of snow.  The lady from the Greenbrier didn’t offer any help; we were told that if we left earliy we’d still forfeit the payment that we made for the room when we made the reservation.  If we stayed an extra night the cost wold be at the normal rate, around twice what we’re paying now.  The Porterfields can’t stay an extra night because they have their second Pfizer vaccine on Friday back in North Carolina.  We agreed to check the weather forecast and make a decision tomorrow.

I’ve looked at the forecast numerous times and personally think that our best option would be to stay here until after lunch tomorrow then come on home before the snow starts.  But I’ll try to not be too pushy with the others though I will let them know my feelings.  We’ll see what happens.

We’ve been away from the news so I don’t know what’s going on in the US but still I can look up our daily coronavirus statistics:

February 16        Infected                   Died

World             110,032,362           2,429,707

US                     28,381,220              499,991

Virginia                553,308                  7,037

Augusta County       5,070                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,399,221  (351,441 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        9,871  (2,585 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

The trend is positive, with fewer and fewer cases of COVID-19 each day in our county, state, and nation.  Yet I am still worried about Augusta’s hospitalizations—today the number was 140, the highest ever.  Augusta County had only six new cases but apparently the people who are getting infected now are having more serious issues. 

February 17, 2021

The weather forecast has turned from a weather advisory to a weather watch to a weather warning.  Snow is definitely coming tonight, tomorrow, and tomorrow night.  While I had definite feelings about leaving today before the storm comes,  I sensed from Lynn a strong desire to stay.  The Porterfields seemed willing to stay and were anxious to see snow since they don’t get it in their part of North Carolina.  I have disappointed Lynn so many times in our 44 years that I resolved to go along with whatever she wanted to do.  Today I felt sure that this will mean we will end up staying an extra day and not leave until Friday.  Well, we didn’t really have anything that had to be done on Thursday back in Virginia.  The Porterfields must leave tomorrow, though, since their 2nd COVID-19 vaccine is scheduled on Friday.

We had another wonderful breakfast in the main dining hall.  We ate with Paul, Sandy, and Emily; John and Ginny ate earlier because they wanted to check out early today and get back before the storm. 

After that we decided to go to the history presentation again.  Many times I’ve heard Bob Conte say during his presentation that “many hotels have good beds and food but we have history….”  There wasn’t much new this time around but it was still educational to be reminded of the history of this place.

After that, we were too full to eat lunch, but we did think we should move our vehicles from the “secret” parking place they were in because it would likely not be plowed with tonight’s snow.  Plus, many people were checking out today so there were close places to move our cars to now.

We took a walk in the afternoon.  The temperature was in the 30’s but the sun was out and it felt good.  After our walk, chatted for a while then went to the afternoon tea where we enjoyed tea and cookies.  After that, it was off to Food and Friends in Lewisburg for dinner.  We had a great meal there and returned to the hotel.  We were all tired and apprehensive about tomorrow’s weather so we retired early.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

February 17        Infected                   Died

World             110,419,584           2,439,849

US                     28,453,526              502,554

Virginia                555,592                  7,075

Augusta County       5,085                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,427,750  (366,058 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        10,296  (2,837 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

Augusta County still has 140 hospitalized.  According to worldometers.info, the US just passed the half million mark in number of deaths due to COVID-19.  So sad…

Tonight I am going to bed extremely worried about the road conditions tomorrow, especially for the Porterfields’ sake since they have to leave early in the morning.  I am 95% sure that we are going to stay until Friday now where the forecast is much better.  I am always a worrier about road conditions and will not put Lynn’s life or my life in jeopardy unnecessarily. 

February 18, 2021

We did have snow and ice overnight but not as much as we thought.  The Porterfields were up and out by 7:30. We texted each other throughout the day about our whereabouts.  They got home around 5:00—quite a long day in the car.

Lynn and I had a leisurely morning.  We ate breakfast in the Main Dining Hall, each having some delicious pancakes.  Then we returned to our room and started packing up.  I had kept an eye on the weather and road conditions and decided that it would be safe for us to travel today and best for us to leave around 10:30, just before checkout time.  Those plans turned out to be good ones.  The road home was wet but not icy.  Some parts were actually dry.  And there was no precipitation during our drive.  We got home before 12:30 which is about the time it normally takes us to get here from the Greenbrier.  I had said yesterday that I would make sure our travels home would be safe before leaving the Greenbrier and indeed the trip today was.  Lynn drove the whole way.

In the meantime, Jim had let us know that he had already come to Augusta County hoping to pick up some snowblower work.  He did Kay Carter’s driveway then went to Ann’s to pick up Henry then headed out to find some driveway work in Staunton.  They were gone all afternoon.  Henry said they did about ten driveways.

Shortly after we were home, we heard a loud sound in the garage area.  I discovered that one of the springs on the garage door on Lynn’s side had broken.  I had decided a long time ago that whenever we had more trouble with these doors I’d simply replace them both because they are old, heavy, and frequently don’t work well.  I called my old friend Lowell Fulk who was a school board member nearly the entire time I worked for Rockingham County Public Schools.  Lowell works for Overhead Doors in Harrisonburg and I knew he’d treat us well.  We talked for quite a while, I gave him some measurements and sent him a picture, and soon we had new garage doors ordered.  They will be here in a couple of weeks.

I spent some money today because not only did I order new garage doors but I also sent a deposit to the guy who did our upstairs windows for him to replace all of the downstairs ones as well. 

Jim made it home in time for dinner.  We had thawed some of Lynn’s delicious chicken noodle soup plus she made for the first time some Amish Onion Fritters.  They were very good, too.  For dessert we had some Death by Chocolate cake.

February 18        Infected                   Died

World             110,799,525           2,450,637

US                     28,514,986              504,817

Virginia                557,896                  7,090

Augusta County       5,102                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,471,242  (393,306 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        10,362  (2,873 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are 141 people in the hospital today in Augusta County, another record.  I just don’t understand how, with the number of infections declining and the number vaccinated rising each day, why do the number of hospitalized also increase from day to day?

I finished off the night doing something I haven’t done in years—watching ice hockey.  Jim loves the Washington Caps and was very happy that they defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3 – 1 tonight.

February 19, 2021

Today was catch-up and return to normal day.  Lynn had an interpreting session today despite the fact that the schools were all called off due to snow.  I had several checks to write and some other things to do at Central UMC.  Jim needed to do some minor work on his snowblower before he left and he also fixed the latch on the truck’s hood and, as best as he could, cleaned off our front sidewalk with his snowblower.

I say that he did it as best he could because this was a very tough snowfall to remove.  It was mostly ice with a snow covering.  It was hard to shovel and heavy to lift.  I worked on cleaning off my driveway this afternoon and definitely felt the tug on my muscles.

We bought Jim a lunch at Chicano Boys on his way home and he let us know he had gotten home OK.  After he left Lynn and I went to Costco where we picked up a few things for ourselves, some for her sister Kay, and a big load for Central.  I delivered the Central sugar and coffee when I went to pay the bills this afternoon.

It felt good to relax some from COVID-19 now that we are vaccinated.  With Jim here, all three of us had taken both shots so we didn’t even wear masks around each other.  At the stores, masks were still worn but a lot of the worry wasn’t there.

Since today was Friday, we had our usual hamburger dinner from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.  After dinner we went back to Staunton to get two boxes of food from Central for the Aguirre family.  We’ll take it to them tomorrow.

One reason we went tonight is that the weather forecast for tomorrow is bitterly cold.  The low tonight is supposed to be in the teens.  Tomorrow it isn’t supposed to get above freezing and tomorrow night the low is supposed to be 10o.  Brrr!  Next week the temperatures are supposed to be much better.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

February 19        Infected                   Died

World             111,218,875           2,462,216

US                     28,599,759              507,534

Virginia                559,930                  7,098

Augusta County       5,107                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,513,373  (420,574 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        10,867  (3,248 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are still 141 people in the hospital in Augusta County.  There were only five new cases in Augusta County, no new deaths, and eight additional deaths in Virginia.  The number of new cases in the US was around 85,000 which is much less than it has been.  So there’s reason for hope.  The news tonight said that Anthony Fauci now says elementary students won’t get vaccinated until early 2022, after high schoolers in fall.

February 20, 2021

Today was a cold and somewhat boring Saturday.  We slept in later than usual then took our time getting anything productive done.  I made a run to the trash dump in the morning.  When I got back, we ate an early lunch then took the boxes of food to the Aquirre family. 

The afternoon included a basketball game featuring WVU at Texas.  It was a great game.  Texas shot extremely well in the first half and took a 53- 43 lead at halftime.  That was a lot of points for one half.  Then, to start the second half, they hit three consecutive three pointers to take a 19 point lead.  Things looked bleak for the Mountaineers but the kept chipping their way back.  They finally got back even at 76 all.  The last two minutes were very exciting but the Mounties hung on to win 84 – 82.  It was the second time this season they have come back from 19 down.  It was a great win for WVU and made up for the first time these two teams played when Texas hit a three pointer at the buzzer to win.

The low forecast for tonight is 10o, the coldest of the year thus far.  Watching how devastated Texas has been with the cold this year with no electricity and no water has made me appreciate how easy we’ve had it.  We’ve certainly been blessed with winters that have been bearable lately.  Of course, being retired and not having to climb into a cold car to go to work early in the morning has helped.

We made arrangements to meet Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia tomorrow.  They have girl scout cookies for us and we have several items for them.  We will likely meet them in Front Royal which is approximately halfway.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 20        Infected                   Died

World             111,595,464           2,471,015

US                     28,670,976              509,641

Virginia                561,812                  7,197

Augusta County       5,122                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,541,722  (440,339 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        11,274  (3,628 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are even more people hospitalized in Augusta County today, 142.  And so far this month Augusta County has lost six people to COVID-19 in just twenty days.  Supposedly, now that we’re vaccinated, even if we get COVID-19 it shouldn’t be a bad case of it.  I hope that’s the case, of course.

February 21, 2021

Though the overnight temperature was frigid, it did warm up a little today making it to around 38o.  After breakfast and Sunday School this morning we loaded up the car and headed for Front Royal to meet Kay, Thomas, and Georgia.  They had suggested a park just north of Front Royal that was easy to get to from I-66.

We had a nice but short visit with the three of them at the park.  It was cold but we still walked a little.  I managed to get a few pictures in.  We exchanged items—we had some Christmas items for them and they had Girl Scout cookies for us including some for Butch, Ann’s family, and Jim. 

On our way back we made stops at Dollar Tree and TJ Maxx.  Then we went to Smiley’s for ice cream before coming home around 4:00.  There wasn’t much to do this evening except eat dinner and watch the news and the end of a NBA basketball game—the first game I’ve seen all season.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 21        Infected                   Died

World             111,935,194           2,477,373

US                     28,758,430              511,010

Virginia                564,115                  7,331

Augusta County       5,124                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,574,229  (463,117 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        11,337  (3,676 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are still 142 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Augusta County.  The good news is that there were only two new cases in the County the past 24 hours.

We’re still trying to figure out what we can and cannot do now that we’ve had our Pfizer vaccinations nearly a week ago.  We believe that restaurants should be safe now yet we still wore masks today when we visited with Kay, Georgia, and Thomas outside.  We’re planning on eating with Butch in restaurants in Ohio.  We’re not sure what to plan for this summer concerning family vacations.  When Central resumes Sunday morning worship services at Easter will we attend?  Lynn is going to be testing students in Rockingham County several days this coming week.  She is taking a plexiglass shield with her.

February 22, 2021

Not unexpected, Lynn’s work in Rockingham County didn’t happen today thanks to the morning snow.  Schools there were closed.  The roads were a little icy when I went to Central at 8:15 to do my weekly Treasurer’s work.  I had several bills to pay and a deposit to count and record in QuickBooks.

Central’s finances are not in good shape now and COVID-19 isn’t helping.  I told others in CUMC leadership positions today that we were going to have to move money from our endowment funds in order to pay bills.  This is the first time we’ve had to do this since I began working with QuickBooks.

Lynn was bored most of the day since her work was canceled.  She did check out a book from the Staunton City library which we picked up this afternoon.  She wanted something to read while students were taking the tests she has to administer the rest of this week.

Butch is getting more ideas for our trip to Athens OH this weekend.  Our plan is to leave early Friday morning.  It is a 5 hour drive.  Today I found out that our Virginia EZ Pass will work on the WV Turnpike.  The turnpike is the only way to drive from Beckley to Charleston and costs $8 each way.

After an early dinner, we decided that our vaccines allowed us to do some things we haven’t done for months.  We wanted to walk but it was still cold outside.  So, we hopped in the car and drove to the Valley Mall.  We hadn’t been inside the mall in almost a year.  Boy, has it changed!  It looks now more like the Staunton mall looked for years:  multiple empty store fronts and very few customers.  I’d estimate that almost 50% of the stores have either gone out of business or have a sign that they are going.  We thought there might be several old people like us who had gotten their vaccines who would be walking; we saw one other couple.  Most people there were young.  I’d guess that the number of employees just about equaled the number of customers we saw in the mall.  Most stores had two employees in them, chatting with each other or looking at their phones, with no customers.  The stores that somehow involved a service had a few customers such as the nail salon and the eye glasses store.  But almost all of the jewelry stores had closed along with many other boutique stores.  The store that Lynn worked at in the evening for several years after Jim went to college, Christopher & Banks, is closing in 5 days.  We felt very safe there not just because we were vaccinated but because there were so few people there that no one got near us.  Lynn looked briefly in the Belk and Penney’s stores but we mainly just walked.  A sign said two laps around the perimeter of the mall equaled one mile.  We did four laps, two miles.  I felt tired; I am not in very good shape now.  With the better weather that is forecast to come I need to be walking more.

I like how Dish network has the feature that you can rewind up to an hour’s programming and re-watch.  We got home tonight just as the nightly news had ended so I just rewound and watched it. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 22        Infected                   Died

World             112,247,612           2,484,663

US                     28,822,047              512,473

Virginia                565,270                  7,486

Augusta County       5,130                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,602,502  (481,287 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        11,348  (3,680 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

The statistics continue to be puzzling.  Virginia had an increase of only 1,100 number of new cases in the past 24 hours but the number of deaths increased by over 150.  Augusta County’s number of new cases was only six but there are more people than ever hospitalized, 143.  The national graphs clearly show that the number of new cases and hospitalizations across the US are decreasing at a nice rate.  The daily case average is down 74% since January.  Yet today the US marked a grim milestone—over 500,000 deaths.  This is more deaths than the total of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam war casualties. 

February 23, 2021

Lynn was the breadwinner today.  She left early for Ottobine Elementary School to do Access testing for ELL students.  My only chores for the day were conducting a Central Finance Committee meeting at 2:00 and being secretary for Central’s Council meeting at 7:00. 

I did make a quick run to Harrisonburg this morning to get salt for the water softener plus cash for our Ohio this weekend.  Plus, I updated some picture on my computers.  Then I did a few things to prepare for the Finance Committee which met via Zoom at 2:00.  The biggest part of this meeting was for us as a committee to find a way to the cash shortfall caused by decreased giving and high bills.  The committee decided to move $8,300 from one of the investment accounts to the general fund to solve the problem for the short term.

After that, it was time for Freddie’s bus.  For the first time since the pandemic, we felt fine in having him come into our house.  He spent most of the time waiting for his mom in the basement playing on the computer.  He had asked to play Wii but our Wii was dead.  That was a bummer; it has entertained grandchildren for years.

As soon as Ann picked Freddie up, Lynn and I took our two mile walk.  The temperature was fine, around 50o, but the wind was fierce.  That makes two straight days that we have walked and tomorrow’s forecast looks like another walking day.  Lynn was at Ottobine most of the day today but tomorrow her only scheduled work is a Zoom interpreting session in the morning.

I spent some time today doing preliminary plans for us to take an Oregon trip in late May.  Oregon will be our 49th state visited.  I’ve got plans now for a seven day trip where we’ll fly to Portland then rent a car to see lots of the natural beauty Oregon has to offer.  I didn’t make any reservations yet so the plans aren’t anywhere near final.

Tonight I had a conflict:  both the Central Administrative Council meeting and the WVU – TCU basketball game were scheduled at 7:00.  Fortunately, the game was recorded on our DVR so I could watch it in its entirety after the meeting.  I’m the secretary of Council so I can’t just skip out of the meeting.

The Council meeting lasted longer than I wanted it to, around 8:30.  I immediately got the WVU game started and fast forwarded through all the timeouts and foul shots.  The Mountaineers repeatedly went out to comfortable leads only to falter and see TCU get back in the game.  Their 16 point lead in the second half dwindled to eight with four minutes to go as they missed multiple free throws in a row.  But they held on against a decidedly inferior team and won 74 – 66.  The Mounties have now won six consecutive road games in the Big 12 league and are ranked #10 nationally.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 23        Infected                   Died

World             112,638,446           2,495,339

US                     28,897,718              514,996

Virginia                567,039                  7,658

Augusta County       5,139                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,632,700  (497,401 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        11,562  (3,725 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

Particularly worrisome is the number of new deaths in Virginia—172 in one day.  And the number of hospitalizations in Augusta County keep climbing—144. 

February 24, 2021

Today was another easy day with not a lot to do.  I went to Staunton this morning with some errands to do, mainly Treasurer’s stuff at Central.  Lynn had a morning interpreting session with Rockingham County Schools.  The weather today was the best it has been for weeks with temperature rising to the 60’s. 

Both of us stayed busy all day today.  After my errands in Staunton, I came home and did several chores around the house while Lynn went with her sister Kay to Green Valley Auction to look over several items that are now being auctioned from their parents’ home.  Apparently there are some things which the two of them want which were included in the auction so they are bidding on them.  It is an online auction.

When they got back we went back to Staunton to pick up some soup that Cheryl Kent had secured for the Aguirre family.  We also had loaded up the food for them that I brought home yesterday from Central so our next stop was at their home near Natural Chimneys.  We typically take them food on Saturdays but we’ll be in Ohio this Saturday.

After that run we hopped back in the car and went to Penn Laird to pick up pizza from Vito’s Pizza Pie, our favorite.  The pizza we bought tonight will last us through tomorrow’s dinner.

Lynn will be testing students all day tomorrow at Elkton.  I’ve got several things planned to keep me busy during the day.

We didn’t get a chance to walk today which is regrettable given the weather.  The temperatures were warm but again it is exceptionally windy today.  Plus we were rushed between all the errands we ran today.

My nephew Joseph called last evening to say his mom, Mary K., had been hospitalized with a kidney infection.  He said she was doing OK but would likely be there for a few days.  This afternoon I called her at the Altoona hospital.  She answered and her daughter Kit was there so I got to talk to both of them.  Mary K. led me to believe that I had been misled about the severity of her issues.  I think that the kidney issue also led her to have breathing and blood pressure issues.  She even told me that the nurse had told her she wasn’t sure if MK would make it through the night though she was doing somewhat better today.  That was very puzzling.  Even Kit told me she had been called to come this morning so I’m really not sure how she is doing.  Later this evening Joseph texted an update.  In it he said “She had a tough 24 hours.  After last night we felt pretty good about her progress only for kit to get a call from a nurse this morning that they were very concerned that there was increased fluid in her lungs and around her heart and kidneys and she was not fighting off the infection.   After several conversations with PAs and doctors we learned that they have switched one of her antibiotics and it seems to be working better.  They are still worried about her decreased heart function but the first issue is to get the infection down which may be causing many of the other issues.  Her blood pressure is back to normal levels which is good.  Once the infection is under control they will focus on what is causing the kidney functions to be below expectations.  Bottom line from the doctor is that she is stable and under good care although not out of the woods entirely.  She is in good spirits and to no surprise talkative.  I will keep you updated daily but feel free to call if you need more information.”

Some good news on the COVID-19 front is that in an analysis released Wednesday, the US Food and Drug Administration said the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine has met the requirements for emergency use authorization — another step toward the authorization of a third shot for the United States.  This vaccine has the advantages that it only requires one dose and doesn’t have to be kept in super-freezers.  I hope this increases the probability that others in our family such as Kay, Andy, and Josh, will soon get their vaccines.  I don’t think the grandchildren will get theirs for many months.

Here are today’s numbers:

February 24        Infected                   Died

World             113,073,369           2,506,583

US                     28,970,468              517,367

Virginia                568,946                  7,807

Augusta County       5,144                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,667,353  (516,655 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        11,979  (3,908 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

Once again, the statistics are puzzling.  Virginia’s daily infections rose by only 1,900 but the number of deaths rose by 159.  Augusta’s number of infections increased by only five and the number who have died and are hospitalized remained the same at 54 and 144, respectively.

February 25, 2021

I had a very busy but successful morning running errands.  First I loaded up our trash and the Gutshall’s and went to the dump.  On the way home I stopped at the Post Office and had our  mail held for Friday and Saturday.  Then I came home, picked up my laptop, grocery bags, and the grocery list and went to Central.  There I recorded the message about Central’s finances that Pastor Won had asked me to do which will be part of the video for this coming Sunday morning.  While I was there I took advantage of Central’s good internet connection to upload the video to my Google drive so Yi-Ping Chen can download it for inclusion in the YouTube video she’ll do for the service.  Then I headed to Kroger and bought Lynn’s yogurt which was on sale.  From there I went to Aldi’s and bought a bunch of items including a fire extinguisher which they had on sale.  Ours hadn’t been replaced since we bought the house in 1988!  Actually I’d already ordered a replacement for it from Amazon but last night Lynn noticed that Aldi’s had them on sale.  So now we’ll have two instead of one so old it probably wouldn’t work.

I got home just before Lynn did from her work at Elkton Elementary, put the groceries away, then ate lunch with her.  On her list of things to do for the day were to make English Muffins for Butch and pepperoni rolls for Wiley.  She started on these jobs then took a break so we could walk in the nice weather.  We had a very pleasant walk; today wasn’t as warm as yesterday but the wind was calm which makes all the difference.  When we got back she finished her chores then we ate dinner.

We both spent time getting ready for our trip tomorrow.  We hope to leave very early in the morning.  We need to make a stop at the Greenbrier to pick up our checkbook which was inadvertently left there last week.  Then we’ll resume on our five hour trip.

I mentioned that for the last two days I’ve spent some time planning a May trip to Oregon.  Lynn suggested today that I should make sure Oregon has no travel restrictions.  Guess what?   If we were to go there today we’d be asked to quarantine for 14 days there!  We won’t be making any permanent plans to go there until this is lifted.

Joseph sent this text to Butch and me midday: “MK is a little better today.  Kidney functions have improved albeit slightly.  They have been successful in reducing fluids around her heart, lungs, and kidneys although that is also a slow process.  She looks better and is in a chair and not bed.  I will send another update tonight after speaking to the doctors.”

Later he wrote again: “She had a better day for sure.  The doctor is pleased with her response to the infection.  The fluid is also decreasing.  She will need some additional testing to understand why this happened but they are focused mostly on beating the infection first.  She will need a heart cath at some point but not until she continues to improve.  She looks better today and feels better as well.  I will keep you all updated.”

Lynn only has one more day of ELL testing in Rockingham County.  She plans to finish up next Tuesday.  She still has some interpreting sessions scheduled but her March will definitely be lighter than her February was.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

February 25        Infected                   Died

World             113,498,837           2,517,458

US                     28,039,576              520,450

Virginia                570,982                  7,963

Augusta County       5,156                       55

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,709,828  (543,394 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        12,377  (4,210 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

From the New York Times data:  In Virginia on January 17, there were 9,914 new cases of COVID-19 in the state.  Today there were “only” 1907.  So the number of cases in the state has definitely decreased and the graph of cases versus time definitely shows that.  What’s disturbing is that since February 13 there has not only been increases in the number of daily deaths, the number is actually at its highest point ever now.  Instead of seeing these numbers decline like cases, they have risen. What’s going on?

I mentioned a few days ago about the online auction involving some of Lynn’s parents estate which had been going on for the past few days.  The auction ended this evening.  Lynn had placed bids on several items.  It was interesting watching the items sell online.  Each item had a specified auction end time.  Items were spaced several seconds apart.  This is a novel way to conduct the auction but it seems to work well.

February 26, 2021

Today was our trip to Ohio to visit with Butch.  We got up early, packed, and were out of the house by 7:30.  Traffic was generally good the whole way.  Our first stop was at the Greenbrier where we had left our checkbook last weekend.  Lynn had called them as soon as we got back and discovered it and, sure enough, they had found it in the safe in our room and held it for us to pick up today which we did.

While at the Greenbrier, we had a restroom stop and I bought some coffee for my brother.  It was a quick stop and soon we were heading east again on I-64.  From there we joined I-77 in Beckley which is the WV Turnpike.  We had previously checked and found out that our EZ Pass would work on the turnpike and, indeed, it did.  We kept on driving on I-77 north of Charleston until US 33W took us straight to Athens.  It was just over a five hour drive plus our stop at the Greenbrier.

We checked in at the Ohio University Inn which is right beside the campus.  It was where we were supposed to have our Thanksgiving family dinner before it got canceled.  Butch joined us there shortly after we got here.  After chatting for a while we took a hike around a section of the campus that, decades ago, housed an insane asylum. 

While we were chatting in the room, we called my sister.  She seemed better today and hopes to get out of the hospital day after tomorrow.  She was a little groggy but definitely seems to have improved.  Kit had texted us earlier in the day that her mom was doing better, too.  That’s good news.

During our walk today, Butch learned from us how Lynn’s back has been hurting.  He has a friend who is a message therapist and he quickly called her and made an appointment for Lynn to have a back massage tomorrow afternoon, 

After our hike, Butch went to his house.  I got a cup of coffee from the Starbucks which is inside the Ohio U Inn and Lynn read a book she had just checked out by Trevor Noah.  Butch picked us up shortly after 5:00 and we headed for dinner at an Italian restaurant, Ciro’s.  It wasn’t the Ciro’s chain we have in Virginia; this was a locally owned and very nice restaurant.  The three of us were joined by Wiley, who drove himself there, and Butch’s friends Kristin and Maria.  We had a great meal:  I had a special spaghetti dinner with meat balls.  Lynn had a mushroom ravioli.  Butch had a salmon dinner.  He insisted on paying for everything.

When we got gack to the hotel we gave Butch the things we had brought for him:  Girl Scout cookies from Georgia, a shirt from Kay, pepperoni rolls and English Muffins Lynn had baked, and the coffee I bought for him.  Lynn and I then got in bed, tired from a long ride and full from a huge dinner.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 26        Infected                   Died

World             113,985,109           2,529,337

US                     29,136,912              523,082

Virginia                572,639                  8,197

Augusta County       5,178                       56

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,781,339  (587,990 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        20,505  (7,197 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

The vaccination numbers for Augusta County are impossibly high and I have to believe the VDH site is in error.  There’s no way Augusta County vaccinated 8,000 people today.

February 27, 2021

Today was another day of visitation with Butch.  It started with breakfast together this morning at the hotel.  Then we went to Bath and Body Works where Butch’s friend Kristin works.  Lynn bought some candles there.  Then we went to Butch’s house where Lynn looked through various jewelry and other items that had been Ann’s that Butch wanted to get rid of.  From there we drove back to campus and took a nice three mile walk on the bike path and through campus.

From there we came back to the hotel, talked with Kay on the phone, then Lynn got ready for her afternoon massage.  She had a great experience with it.  We’re going to have to find someone near us who can do this.  She really felt good after it.

While she had her message Butch and I went to his house and called Mary K.  It turns out that she is having issues with her heart.  So instead of her getting released from the hospital, she is going to have a heart catherization done to find out what is causing her heart to underperform.  This is concerning and is the first time she’s had any heart issues. 

After picking Lynn up, we came back to the hotel and watched some of the WVU – Kansas State basketball game.  It was a relatively easy win for the Mountaineers, 65 – 43.  They are currently ranked #10 in the US.

Our next activity was dinner at El Camino, a Mexican restaurant in Athens.  It was a superb meal.  Lynn and I both had Arroz con pollo.  Plus their quacamole was delicious on the chips.  For dessert we had sopapillas.  Butch’s friends Kristin and Maria joined us; we had good conversation in addition to the good food.

Butch seemed to really enjoy our company.  He does have many, many friends in Athens.  He seems to know everyone’s name from the mailman to the servers at the restaurants. 

The good news for today is that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was officially approved for emergency authorization use.  This will add a third arrow in the vaccination quiver.  Perhaps this will mean the rest of the adults in our family can soon be vaccinated.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

February 27        Infected                   Died

World             114,364,387           2,536,679

US                     29,202,186              524,654

Virginia                574,314                  8,382

Augusta County       5,185                       56

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,855,904  (616,469 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        21,501  (7,695 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are still 144 people hospitalized in Augusta County. 

February 28, 2021

Most of the day today was spent driving home from Ohio.  We had breakfast with Butch at the hotel then checked out and began our drive home in the rain around 9:00.  It rained from Athens to Charleston WV but from there on it was just overcast.  We stopped once, at Tamarack in Beckley, where Lynn found some Cherry Butter to try sometime.  We were home shortly before 2:30.

I didn’t sleep well last night largely due to the amount of Mexican food I had eaten at dinner and the noise from a party in an adjoining room at the hotel.  So I was tired the whole way home.  Once I got everything unloaded Lynn went into Staunton to pick up the glassware Kay had picked up for Lynn from the estate auction of Mr. and Mrs. Hanger’s belongings at Green Valley Auction.  I told Lynn I was going to lie down for a while.  Whew!  Two hours later I awoke as she came back home.  I almost never nap during the day but today was something else.  I was out of it!  The nap really helped me.

We had hoped to have picked up hamburgers from the Old School food truck in Weyers Cave for dinner but it turns out they aren’t open on Sundays.  So we scrounged together some leftovers then went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  Yum!

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is set to be distributed immediately.  This is certainly good news.  Here are today’s statistics:

February 28        Infected                   Died

World             114,670,438           2,542,425

US                     29,251,954              525,650

Virginia                576,050                  8,552

Augusta County       5,196                       56

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,933,953  (666,970 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        22,317  (8,141 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are still 144 people hospitalized in Augusta County.  It is encouraging to see that more people have now received two doses of the vaccine than have been infected in the County.  This is also true of Virginia.  Perhaps there is hope for a herd immunity if you consider how many people have already been infected with COVID-19 plus those who have been vaccinated against it. 

We got some good news from Kay today.  Thomas’ good friend Kush had been exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and the two of them had played together so Thomas wasn’t allowed to participate in a soccer tournament this weekend.  Then today Kush got back his test results which were negative so Thomas and Andy quickly headed out to the soccer tournament.