March 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

March 1, 2021

Today was get-back-to-normal day after our weekend trip.  That meant going to Central this morning and doing the weekly count and deposit.  After that, and a stop by the Staunton Library to pick up a book for Lynn, I was home before 11:00.  Lynn had her usual Monday Zoom session with the student then we ate lunch and headed to Harrisonburg for a meeting she had with another parent.  I went along for the ride.

I was anxious during the day awaiting news on my sister’s heart catherization.  Mid-afternoon we got a text from Kit saying that her catherization was normal with no blockage found.  The are going to treat her with medication only—no surgery.  I assume that means she’ll be released tomorrow.

Today’s outdoor temperatures weren’t bad but the wind was so again we passed on walking.  Perhaps later this week we’ll get back on the neighborhood roads.

Virginia is expected to start distributing 69,000 doses of the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week which will be prioritized for mass vaccination clinics across the state.  Plus, an additional allotment is expected to be sent to pharmacies participating in a federal partnership to help vaccinate priority groups such as those 65 and over.

I know my posts have gotten shorter lately and that’s partially attributable to Donald Trump no longer being the President.  No longer do I get mad over the assinine comments or tweets he made while he was in that office.  Biden is doing a good job and certainly doesn’t stir me up the way Trump did.  What a pleasant relief!  The news is more boring, of course, but that’s OK by me.

One thing I did get done today was to file my federal income tax.  I also printed the state income tax form which we’ll drop off at the Augusta County Treasurer’s office tomorrow.  We’re due to get nice refunds from both which will go towards the house projects we’ve contracted to have done:  downstairs windows and new garage doors. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 1               Infected                   Died

World             114,986,529           2,549,720

US                     29,314,203              527,224

Virginia                577,174                  8,783

Augusta County       5,200                       59

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,982,780  (686,289 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        22,440  (8,219 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are so many things hard to explain in these statistics.  For example, though the number of infections is dropping dramatically, the number of deaths are increasing.   The US has “only” 62,239 new cases but has 1,574 new deaths.  Virginia had 1,124 new cases but 231 new deaths.  Why should Virginia have less than 2% of the new cases but 15% of the new deaths?  Augusta County had only 4 new cases but 3 new deaths!  Tell me that isn’t scary….

Plus, the ability to get vaccinations appears to have eased; indeed, Augusta County has over 25% of its population with at least one shot if these figures are correct.  Yet Josh has had no luck in getting his vaccine scheduled.

March 2, 2021

Lynn and I were very efficient this morning.  She had an appointment at 8:30 to get a bone density test so I drove her there.  It only took a few minutes.  While she was getting it, I ordered some prints of Henry and Gus’ basketball pictures from Walmart.  Lynn and I went from Augusta Health to Staples where I left the document I’d been working on to be printed.  Then we went to Walmart and picked up the photos.  Our final stop on the way home was at the Augusta County Commissioner of the Revenue to drop off our state income tax forms.  We were back home by 9:45—a very successful trip.

Lynn still had two jobs for the day.  First she interpreted for a Zoom meeting.  Then she drove to Ottobine Elementary and tested students.  Meanwhile I took a walk.   When Lynn got home I washed her car for her since the forecast for the next five days is no precipitation.

This evening I watched a great basketball game between Baylor, ranked #3 in the nation, and WVU, ranked #6.  Baylor went out to a 12 point lead in the first half before WVU came storming back in the second to open up a seven point lead.  But at the end of regulation, the score was tied 81 all.  It was really a good game with lots of momentum swings.  The teams went back and forth in the overtime as well.  But in the end Baylor held on and hit their free throws in the last minute to take the win, 94 – 89.

It was a disappointing loss for WVU but they played well and proved they can play with a top four team.  But a Mountaineer loss never sits well with me and today was no exception.  There were so many plays today that I wish they could redo.

After the basketball game I switched to the NFHS network and watched a little of the Fort Defiance – Rockbridge volleyball match.  Rockbridge had a very strong team and went up 2 games to 0 shortly after I joined the broadcast.  Fort has a decent team and will win some district matches, I’d predict, but Rockbridge really looked good for the first game of the season for the schools.  Rockbridge won the third game as well.

President Biden said today that there would be enough vaccines in the US by the end of May for every adult who wants one.  That is very good news.  Here are today’s statistics:

March 2               Infected                   Died

World             115,279,135           2,559,175

US                     29,370,202              529,192

Virginia                578,559                  8,943

Augusta County       5,206                       61

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,016,769  (697,879 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        22,485  (8,238 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

Dashboard

Once again, the number of deaths in Virginia rose unmercifully—160 new ones.  Augusta County, which for most of the pandemic had less than 1% of those infected die from COVID-19, now has well above 1% with two additional deaths today.  The number hospitalized remains at 144.

March 3, 2021

Today was a fairly busy day for both Lynn and me.  The weather was great which made it all the more enjoyable. 

My day started with a run to Costco.  I had a medium-sized list of items to get and I was able to secure them all plus a few others.  I was in and out in less than a half hour during the senior time at the store.

Meanwhile, Lynn had a doctor’s appointment.  Her back just hasn’t gotten any better and she wanted her regular doctor to have a look at it.  Dr. Alleyne took an x-ray of her back and immediately gave Lynn some rather frightful news.  First, she had a fracture on her spinal cord which was undoubtedly leading to the pain she’s been having.  Second, her bone density appeared to be too low.  Yesterday Lynn had a bone density scan at Augusta Health but the results hadn’t been sent to Dr. Alleyne yet.  So Lynn was told that 1) she should go to physical therapy to help her back and 2) she would make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor who would make recommendations for treating the fracture.  Lynn was told that she likely has bone density that is lower than the normal peak density (called osteopenia) but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis.  Lynn has been taking calcium and iron supplements every day for years now but apparently that wasn’t enough.  So I’ll be writing more about this once she meets with the orthopedic doctor.

Lynn is far from being an invalid.  She walked twice today, each time over two miles.  So she is still quite mobile but sometimes I can see her grimace in pain.  She is slow to get up after lying down.  She tries to lie down a couple of times during the day to rest her back. 

I feel really badly for her.  For one, I likely led to her injury by asking her to help me move the Pergola swings months ago.  Secondly, I should have insisted that she see her doctor before today.  She did go to the emergency room several days after her initial injury but the doctor there said there was no need to take an x-ray.  He was wrong….

One good thing happened today—I picked up the booklet I’d made for Henry detailing his 2020-2021 basketball season.  This is the project I’ve been working on for quite a while now though I don’t think I actually told what I was doing.  It is a 52 page book which includes lots of pictures, including his team pictures which Ann bought the digital rights to, plus the Waynesboro newspaper’s articles about each game.  I was very pleased with how it came out.  Tonight, Lynn and I made a special trip to his house to present it to him.  I think he was pleased.  I was.

I also did some work at Central today.  This is the first of the month so there were bank reconciliations to be done and bills to be paid.  The reconciliations actually went smoothly. 

While I was there, I also went to a meeting I’d been invited to attend about a proposed bicycle trip on the Katy Trail in Missouri.  Bill Bushman, Jim Printy, John Bauman, and Jeff Delong are planning this trip and I’ve been invited to join them.  The trip would be from Monday, May 10 to Saturday, May 15.  I’m very, very hesitant to say yes.  They’ve actually done this bike hike before.  It would involve driving to St. Charles MO on Monday, catching a shuttle to Columbia MO on Tuesday then riding about 30 miles.  On Wednesday, they would ride about 50 miles.  Thursday would be about 40 miles and Friday they would ride the final 35 miles back to St. Charles.  On Saturday they plan to drive home.  I’m just not sure if I am up to the task physically.  I’m not in very good shape and though I’d have two months to get there I just don’t know if I can.  It does intrigue me, though, so I haven’t said no yet.

Lynn had an interpreting meeting via Zoom mid-afternoon.  By that time, I’d decided to work on some additions to my website so I spent a good deal of time doing that.  She and I found time to do our two mile walk and enjoy this good weather.  For dinner, I grilled steaks on the grill and made baked potatoes.  Lynn fixed some mushrooms.  We ate half of everything today and will have the same tomorrow—two good meals.

At the bicycle meeting today, all of us had received both of our COVID-19 shots so we met as we would have this time last year—no masks.  It felt good to have some normalcy return to my life.  As more and more people are vaccinated it will be possible to have more social interactions like this.

In the meantime, COVID-19 isn’t disappearing.  Here are today’s statistics:

March 3               Infected                   Died

World             115,744,703           2,570,420

US                     29,453,901              531,517

Virginia                580,108                  9,326

Augusta County       5,220                       63

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,062,403  (716,660 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        23,096  (8,380 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

As I’ve been writing about for day after day, the number of deaths in Virginia just continue to astound me.  Between yesterday and today there were 379 new deaths.   Augusta County increased by only 14 new cases but had 2 new deaths and still has 144 residents in the hospital.  We’re clearly not out of the woods yet.

March 4, 2021

On the morning news was a blurb about the number of deaths on the VDH website.  The report is that the numbers are high because they have been slow in getting the information in from death certificates so that many of the new deaths reported actually happened weeks, perhaps even months, ago.  That explains why the number has been so high lately compared to the numbers of new cases.

In the news today, the CDC reports that since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, more than 80 million doses have been administered, reaching 15.9% of the total U.S. population.  Virginia has vaccinated 16.6% of its population.  The U.S. is currently administering over 2 million shots a day.

I spent some time today checking into the Katy Trail bike ride again.  Somewhat encouraging is that there is an Amtrak, the Missouri River Runner, that passes through two of the trail towns the group plans to stay in on its way to St. Louis.  So if I decided to give up the ride while there, I could catch the Amtrak, which does allow bicycles, to St. Louis and wait on them.  The other thing I found is that apparently cousin Nick lives just about ten miles from the trail head where they plan to leave their vehicles.  So, I tentatively let the other guys know that I was going to try it.  I hope I’ve made the right decision.  Actually, I decided that it would be better to let them know now that I was in on the trip and, if necessary, later pull out than to tell them no now then later decide to go.

I reported yesterday that Lynn had been diagnosed with a fracture on her spine.  Lynn corrected me today that what she was told is that it was a compressed disc.  She still hasn’t heard back from the orthopedic doctor as to when she will be seen. 

Augusta County’s students have been going to school most of the year two days per week.  But today was the first day for Arlington to have students back in the building.  We talked to Georgia this afternoon who disliked most, of all things, recess.  It seems that teachers wouldn’t allow friends to gather at recess and that didn’t sit well with Georgia.  Her teacher gave the class a writing assignment to write about what they didn’t like about it and I’m sure Georgia’s essay will not be a short one.

Today was one of the least productive days I’ve had since the pandemic began.  The only thing I’ve done a lot of today is eat.  I did a few very, very minor chores today but nothing to brag about.  And I didn’t leave the property.

Tonight we had a special called Zoom meeting of the Central UMC Council.  The issue is that Pastor Won wants to submit several grant requests.  The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank apparently has some money to share and they have welcomed proposals.  Central is asking them to fund some shelving, a cooler, a freezer, a cart, and even an awning, all of which would benefit the CUMC Food Pantry.  That request is not controversial.  But Won is also asking them to fund a refrigerated van which would cost around $45,000.  He also wants to ask the Staunton District of the Virginia UMC Conference to fund $5,000 toward this purchase.  This is something he wanted more than others, including me.  My hesitation was the ongoing costs a van would be to the church—insurance, maintenance, licensing, gasoline, and even electricity if it has to be kept cool at times it isn’t running.  Before the meeting I looked at the website of the company Won had been told by the Food Bank to deal with concerning the van.  I found that they also leased refrigerated vans so tonight when we had our Zoom and others expressed similar hesitations that I had regarding buying it I suggested he change his grant application to lease for six months to see if it would work for us.  Then, if it does, we can re-apply to the Food Bank to purchase.  The others went along with this suggestion and Won is going to check into all this tomorrow.

My sister got out of the hospital today and went to Kit’s house.  She was started on anti-coagulants for her heart.  I hope that’s what she needs and she continues to progress without any impending surgeries.  We’ll just have to wait and see. 

The local news tonight reported that Central Virginia had the first case in Virginia of a child under ten years old dying from COVID-19 today.  That’s scary.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 4               Infected                   Died

World             116,202,844           2,580,611

US                     29,521,987              533,465

Virginia                581,408                  9,357

Augusta County       5,216                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,122,323  (740,786 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        24,012  (8,929 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

I think I heard that Augusta County was giving Johnson and Johnson shots today.  The number of cases in Augusta County was actually reported lower than the previous day so there must have been a foul-up in the data previously. 

March 5, 2021

Today was another day where Lynn had several things scheduled and I had none.  She had an interpreting session in the morning and a doctor’s appointment at her UVA endocrinologist at noon.  Then she had registered for a craft show at the Green Valley Book Fair in the afternoon.  I decided to go along with her to Charlottesville.

It was a good doctor’s visit for Lynn.  She trusts Dr. Dalkin.  Although he is an endocrinologist, he had results of her x-rays and bone density tests. He said that her bone density wasn’t bad but he still is going to recommend that she take Fosamax for the next two years, once per week, which is supposed to strengthen her bones.  But the best news she had was that he looked at her spine x-rays, showed her that, indeed, she had a fractured spine near the base, but said that it would heal itself and would likely not require any additional action except physical therapy which she is scheduled to begin next Wednesday morning.  Her thyroid, which is the reason she goes to Dr. Dalkin, was fine.  He told her she did not need to see an orthopedic doctor for her spine which is good because she still hasn’t received an appointment with one, something she was supposed to have gotten two days ago.  She was very relieved when she left his office.

We came back and split:  she went on to Green Valley to the craft fair and I went into Central because Won had e-mailed me that he needed a check written today for a cooler which CUMC is purchasing now and will be reimbursed by the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  While I was there I did a few other treasurer’s jobs.

In the late afternoon we went to Harrisonburg to look for picture frames for Henry and Gus’ basketball pictures.  We wanted them to be hinged, 5” x 7”.  She found some at Michael’s she liked. 

Then we drove to Valley Pike since today was Friday and that meant it was hamburger day from the Old School food truck.  As always, they were delicious as were the sweet potato fries.

We then settled down to watch the Fort Defiance – Staunton football game on the NFHS network.  After Fort got beat 15 – 0 last week at Rockbridge, I had low expectations.  When we turned the game on, FDHS was already down 3 – 0 in the first quarter.  But then things turned Fort’s way and they scored 24 points in the second quarter to take a surprising 24 – 3 lead at halftime.  They followed that up with another score to start the second half to lead 32 – 3 against the team that had beaten East Rockingham last week.   The game was very sloppy; it seemed that almost every play resulted in either a penalty, time out, or injured player.   This made the game drag on and on.  There were no other scores in the third quarter.  Midway through the fourth quarter, FDHS scored again.  The two point conversion failed this time so the score was 38 – 3.  High school games have 12 minute quarters so the expected length of a game is certainly under two hours.  This one took almost three hours with all of the stoppages.  I don’t think I’ve ever watched a football game with so many penalties.  Both sides had penalty after penalty.   I am so glad we watched it from the warmth of our bedroom instead of from the cold bleachers.  It was 32o outside when the game ended.  Staunton managed to score with just under two minutes to go in the game so the final score was 38 – 10.  This was a great win for the Indians—a rare one against Staunton.

The drama continued today regarding the refrigerated van for Central.  Won sent an e-mail out this morning that he had talked to the people at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank who said that a proposal to lease the van would not be accepted.  So Won pushed again to apply for the grant to buy it.  I told him and the others that I would only be in favor if the church would not have to incur any expense other than the insurance.  Won offered that he, himself, would pay for any expenses if he couldn’t get community resources for it.  The others generally agreed but Bill Bushman held out his objection and then reminded the group that last evening the decision had been made that if the lease was a no-go then the idea would be dropped for a year.  So as of tonight I don’t know for sure what will come from this proposal.  I just know that Central’s finances are in poor shape and we can’t afford any new expenses.  We can’t even pay for the ones we already have.

A month ago, Lynn and I planned a tentative get-away next Wednesday – Friday to a section of North Carolina we’ve not been to, around Boone.  Now it looks like the weather will be very nice during that time period so we’re fairly sure now that we’ll follow through with these plans.  She has physical therapy first thing Wednesday morning then we’ll head south. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 5               Infected                   Died

World             116,650,230           2,591,104

US                     29,592,719              535,560

Virginia                583,060                  9,428

Augusta County       5,232                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,175,489  (763,489 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        24,459  (9,134 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

There are still 144 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.

March 6, 2021

We got a save-the-date card today from nephew Vic and his fiancé Amy.  Their wedding is scheduled for Friday, July 2, in Kennebunkport ME.  Lynn and I want to go but there are lots of things up in the air.  For example, we don’t know if our children and families will be invited or not.  We had previously heard that they were limited to fewer people than they wanted to invite.  And just recently Maine revised its rules for COVID-19 to allow for large gatherings.  They have a website for their wedding and on the site it says that children are not invited to the wedding so even if our children come I don’t know what they’d do with the grandchildren.  Vic and Amy have reserved some rooms at the resort where the wedding will be and at another hotel not far faway.  The rooms are the resort are expensive, $349/night.  We also don’t know what my brother’s plans will be.  At one point he told us he wanted to combine Vic’s wedding with spreading some of Ann’s ashes in Maine.  But tonight when we texted him he said he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.  Driving there would be very difficult—over ten hours each way.  The flight cost from Charlottesville isn’t bad.  So, over the next few weeks, we’ll need to make plans.

Involved with those plans is a scheduled trip Lynn and I have made a deposit on to Portugal and northern Spain.  It was supposed to be July 3 – 14 but now we’ll need to get that changed, too.  Lots of telephone/computer time ahead of us!

We called Mary K. today to talk to check on how she’s doing and chat with her a little about the wedding.  She seemed better today.  She didn’t know if cousins would be invited to the wedding or not but promised to find out and get back to us tomorrow.

Today was a typical Saturday.  I had a leisurely morning which included a trip to the dump.  After that, Lynn and I went to Elizabeth’s house to take the food I had brought home from Central yesterday. 

This afternoon, the Gutshall family came over.  I had requested help with putting our Pergola swings back up and this time Lynn was not going to be involved since this is probably how she hurt her back initially.  The whole family came and stayed for a while.  Henry, Gus, Josh, and I got the swings back up ready for warm weather which is supposed to happen this week.

After that, I watched the WVU – Oklahoma State basketball game.  This was the worst game of the year for WVU.  Oklahoma State’s best two players had injuries and didn’t play so you’d think the Mountaineers would have rolled, especially since it was a home game.  No, they played terribly and lost 85 – 80. 

Lynn worked on several craft projects today.  First, she worked on a pillow for her friend Cheryl Wright.  Then she imprinted a shirt for my brother Butch to give to a friend of his.  Then she worked on a porch sign for our house with “Hello Spring” on it.  We’ve now removed her “Let it Snow” sign.  I sure hope the snow is done for the year.

Here are today’s numbers:

March 6               Infected                   Died

World             117,055,373           2,598,848

US                     29,650,671              536,999

Virginia                584,537                  9,519

Augusta County       5,242                       67

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,220,399  (782,229 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        24,711  (9,333 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

There are still 144 Augusta County residents in the hospital today with COVID-19. 

The Augusta County School Board has decided that students will be back in school four days a week starting April 15.  I suppose this will affect us since Freddie rides the bus to our house.  I’m sure we can work it out.  In fact, there are no conflicts on our calendar now from April 15 until school is out May 27 except for a possible trip we’ve considered to Oregon in late May.  Right now I’m not sure which weekday the students will not be going; perhaps Mondays.

March 7, 2021

In two months I am supposed to go on a bicycle ride of around 150 miles over four days.  I am in no shape whatsoever for this.  So I anxiously await for warmer weather so I can get some training in.  I refuse to walk or ride outdoors when the temperature is in the 30’s.  Today’s weather was not great though dry.  The high of the day was around 45.  At least the wind wasn’t as fierce today as it was for the past several days.  So this afternoon Lynn and I took our two mile walk.  It was a little cold but we both needed it.

Kay called this afternoon and when I told her about my plans, she suggested that I get an indoor bike trainer which allows you to mount and peddle your bike indoors (without going anywhere, of course).  She even thought Jim had one.  So I texted him and, sure enough, he had one I can borrow.  That takes away lots of my worries—I was not looking forward to riding on the hilly roads around here.  The trail we’ll be riding on in Missouri is completely level.   Plus, I worried about the safety of riding on the roads here.  I hope this works out.

Today was a typical Sunday except Sunday School was canceled because at 10:30 Won had a ceremony on Zoom for receiving a new member into Central, a Mary Baldwin University student.  As soon as that was over Lynn and I went to Central to pick up soup and the monthly communion.  We also picked up soup for Elizabeth’s family.  Then we went to Walmart and Aldi’s to get some groceries.

We walked when we got back.  Then I pretty much killed time until dinner while Lynn worked on her projects.  After dinner we got ice cream at Smiley’s.

My sister was supposed to call us today to discuss Vic’s wedding but she didn’t call.  Then late in the evening she texted and said that cousins were invited but not children.  That leads me to believe none of our children will go which is fine.  Lynn and I will.  I’m leaning toward flying to Boston then catching Amtrak to Kennebunkport but Lynn is pushing to drive (10+ hours).  We’ve got four months to figure this out.

With Trump out of office things are pleasantly calm nowadays.  Facebook has much less vitriol.  And my posts here are shorter because there’s less to complain about.  This is all good.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 7               Infected                   Died

World             117,431,033           2,604,786

US                     29,693,869              537,826

Virginia                585,700                  9,596

Augusta County       5,246                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,267,459  (802,667 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        24,885  (9,363 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Again the statistics are confusing.  Augusta County had only four new cases in the last 24 hours but there was one more death.  And a record number of 145 people are currently hospitalized.   The US is certainly showing progress.  There were under 50,000 new cases in the last day, which is much lower than it has been for months. 

March 8, 2021

Monday morning means returning to Central to make the weekly deposit, pay bills, and set up payroll for the first half of March.  It went smoothly today though I had to wait for a while on the new counters, John Myers and Bobbie Rosson, to get their part done.  Best of all, Central finally had a decent amount to deposit.  That will definitely help with the rest of the bills and payroll this month.

Today was a very nice day with highs near 60o but I was so busy I didn’t get outside at all.  I really wish I could have walked.

My afternoon was especially busy.  I was back at Central at 1:00 to help unload the van from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank for our Food Pantry.  That took less than an hour so I immediately headed for Eddie Smith’s house.  He had stopped by the church early in the morning and told me he had a new computer and modem.  I had previously offered to help him once we were vaccinated so today was the day. 

I spent over two hours at Ed’s house setting up his new Lenova computer.  There were a number of roadblocks but I finally got it pretty much the way he wanted it.  I downloaded and installed Google Chrome, then set up his e-mail and Facebook from there.  I wanted to set up his e-mail through the Windows 10 e-mail app but I couldn’t get it to work.  One of the issues is that his DSL through Verizon was very slow.  I’m so glad I don’t have it.

As I was leaving there, I got a text from Lynn that there was some food at Central that had been picked up today for Elizabeth’s family.  So that was my next stop.  From there I went to a computer store near Kroger.  I had Lynn’s Dell laptop with me.  She rarely uses this computer; it is for her sewing room because her embroidery machine is for Windows-only computers.  But sometime in the past year the letter “c” quit working on the keyboard.  I tried blowing air around it, removing the keycap, etc. but couldn’t get it to work.  As a work-around, I connected another keyboard via one of its USB ports.  But I thought I’d just get it fixed.  Well, I was told that it would cost $130 – $150 to be repaired.  I opted to not do this.  It isn’t as convenient to use the extra keyboard but it is free…

My next stop took WAY too long.  I went through the Kroger drive thru to get a prescription for Lynn which had been called in by her UVA doctor.  She had previously called and verified that the prescription was ready for pickup.  However, she had not previously had any prescriptions from Kroger or anywhere else in 2021 and in January we switched our Part D (prescription) service to a new company, Aetna.  When I had my prescriptions refilled earlier this year I had no issues.  But when I waited my turn to pick up Lynn’s I was told that Aetna wouldn’t pay because they were not the “primary” Part D company listed for her.  The Kroger lady was actually superbly nice and helpful.  She offered the prescription to me at a reduced price outside of insurance which I paid and then received her medication but she also told me that if I would get this issue cleared up with Aetna within a few days she could re-bill Aetna and I’d get my money back.  I should point out that all this took about 20 minutes and in the meantime five cars were in line behind me, undoubtedly ready to hang me from the nearest tree. 

So after I got the prescription, I decided to get it resolved right then and there.  From the Kroger parking lot I called Aetna.  I was told that Anthem was listed as her primary provider.  No, I told the representative, Anthem is our supplementary insurance for Medicare Part A and Part B, not Part D.  She said that she could get it resolved but I’d have to wait on the phone while she did so and it might take 30 – 45 minutes.  Well, she was right.  It took about 45 minutes of being on hold.  Several times during that time she came back online to ask some questions, get Lynn’s phone number to call her to make sure I had her approval to seek this, etc.  Finally, nearly an hour after I had gotten the original prescription, she came back on and said it was all taken care of.  She had other good news—under our plan the price for Lynn’s medicine was $0.  I quickly went back into Kroger and they were able to verify that now Aetna was Lynn’s primary provider for prescription drugs, got the bill switched, and my credit card refunded the amount I had paid earlier.  It was worth the hassle. 

On today’s news, the CDC confirmed that anyone who is two weeks beyond vaccination is fully protected and can meet with others who are in the same condition without masks or social distancing.  Great!

Here are today’s statistics:

March 8               Infected                   Died

World             117,736,220           2,611,525

US                     29,741,865              538,573

Virginia                586,592                  9,683

Augusta County       5,251                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,306,251  (823,887 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        25,908  (10,356 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

The numbers continue to improve.  Augusta had only five new cases with zero new deaths or hospitalizations.

March 9, 2021

Today was the prettiest day we’ve had in 2021.  Lynn had to work this morning for Rockingham County Public Schools so I had plenty of time to take a 2.6 mile walk.  It felt and smelled really nice outside.  I had hoped to walk a second time with Lynn but she didn’t get back home from her work in Harrisonburg until mid-afternoon.  Then, her friend Cheryl Wright came over and the two of them did Cricut work for a while. 

Jim had made arrangements with us to come here this evening around dusk to pick up the trailer and his big zero-turn mower which has been sitting in our garage.  I did what I could to get things ready for him before he came here but there wasn’t a lot I could do.

He got here about 6:45.  We quickly jumped on what we had to do:  unload his two snow blowers from the truck, then move the truck to the field and attach the trailer to it, then come back to the driveway and load his mower on the trailer.  Finally, we moved the snow blowers into the garage where the mower had been.  Everything went smoothly.  Lynn and I had taken food to Elizabeth shortly before he came and we then made a stop at Chicano Boy Taco to pick up dinner for the three of us.  We ate the dinner shortly before he left to get back to Roanoke.  He wasn’t here 30 minutes in total.

We found out that our new garage doors will be installed on March 24.  That will make it nicer for us.  Right now we cannot raise the garage door in front of where Lynn parks because the spring is broken.

After Jim left this evening, Lynn and I made a run to Smiley’s for dessert.  We won’t be eating there for several days because we’ll be leaving for Boone NC tomorrow morning as soon as Lynn’s physical therapy for her back is done.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 9               Infected                   Died

World             118,144,229           2,621,025

US                     29,800,212              540,455

Virginia                588,129                  9,790

Augusta County       5,253                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,369,608  (850,774 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        26,047  (10,421 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County had only two new cases today.  Hurray!  Maybe we’re getting a grip on this virus now.  I know it was nice for me to not worry about wearing a mask when I was in Ed Smith’s home or with Cheryl Wright in our house today because all of us are fully vaccinated.

March 10, 2021

Today was our day to drive to Boone, NC for a min-vacation.  We chose Boone because this is one part of North Carolina we’ve never been to.  We had seen online that there were some good places to see.  The weather forecast was very good so it made sense to come and enjoy our vaccinated bodies.

We couldn’t leave until after Lynn had her initial physical therapy session at Synergy in Verona.  We had no idea how long this would take.  We got there at 7:45.  She went in while I waited in the car, working Whirly Word puzzles, trying to nap, etc.  I had no idea that she would be inside until almost 9:30.  But it was a good therapy session for her and she is scheduled to go twice a week for the next six weeks.

Soon we were heading south on I-81.  Traffic was normal—not light, not heavy.  We were on I-81 from Verona to just north of Abingdon.  We had thought about eating lunch at Draper Mercantile which we’ve done in the past, but we had brought along yogurt so we just ate at a rest stop south of Wytheville.

Once we got off I-81 we rode on Rt. 91 to Damascus.  We’d taken this road plenty of times in the past since we ride bikes out of Damascus.  But from Damascus on it was new territory for us.  The road to Boone was windy and actually went from Virginia to Tennesssee to North Carolina.  We got to our hotel around 2:00, thus making it around a 4 ½ hour drive. 

After we checked in and unloaded, we decided to go to Blowing Rock today.  It was about 12 miles away and an easy drive.  I took lots of good pictures—you can see in my pictures why the mountains are called Blue Ridge.  After we visited Blowing Rock we drove to a park with a trail called the Glen Burney trail in the middle of the town of Blowing Rock.  Lynn had found this trail on a map we’d been given.  It said that the trail was “strenuous” but went by several pretty waterfalls so we decided to take it.  The first half mile was very mild so we thought that it had been mislabeled strenuous.  But then we started going down and down and down, over thousands of roots and rocks.  Walking went very slowly, especially since Lynn had a bad back.  The trail was supposed to be around 1.6 miles out and the same distance back.  We made it most of the way before turning back.  It was certainly strenuous coming back up to our car.  But there were many scenic parts of the trail and I did get some good photos.

We were ready for dinner by the time our walk was over.  We thought we should eat local food so we went to a place called the Pedaling Pig so we could enjoy North Carolina BBQ.  It was a very good choice.  We split a sampler intended for one person though it was plenty for the two of us.

We had a chance to drive around Boone a little.  It is the home of Appalachian State University and is certainly a college town.  In fact, if the University was not here I’m not sure what would be.  And this city is so remote that you have to wonder why it was built here.  This town is of Daniel Boone history and has less than 20,000 population.  The traffic wasn’t bad here and it was fairly easy to find your way around.  We scoped out a bakery I’ll be going to tomorrow morning to grab sticky buns for our breakfast and a McDonald’s to get Lynn’s sweet tea on the way back.

One disappointment was that we decided to find some good North Carolina ice cream.  There was an ice cream bar listed not too far from our hotel but when we drove there we found that it was closed, perhaps due to the pandemic.  Not to be deterred, we found another ice cream store called Kilwin’s.  The only issue was that it was back in Blowing Rock.  Nonetheless, we drove there and enjoyed a good dessert.

We returned to the hotel tired after a fairly long day.  I did not sleep well at all last night so I was particularly exhausted.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 10             Infected                   Died

World             118,608,657           2,630,911

US                     29,858,762              542,018

Virginia                589,375                  9,849

Augusta County       5,258                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,428,900  (882,082 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        26,768  (11,122 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County still has 145 hospitalized with COVID-19.

March 11, 2021

I was sore all day today from our walk on that strenuous trail yesterday.  Nonetheless, we got in over 10,000 steps today. 

First thing this morning, Lynn washed her hair while I went to a bakery called Stick Boys Bakery to get us some pastries for breakfast.  They were great and I’ll be back there tomorrow morning to get her another sticky bun with pecans and raisins on it.  After breakfast, we hopped in the car and drove to Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina’s highest point.  It took about 40 minutes to get there.  It was a little expensive, $20 each, but we were able to drive up the mountain then walk on a mile-high swinging bridge.  Of course, I took lots of pictures.  We also went to a nature preserve within the park but most of the animals weren’t available for view yet such as the bears, cougars, and elk.  We did see an otter and an eagle. 

On our way back to Boone, we took a short detour to a little town where Mast’s General Store was begun many, many years ago and which has been preserved well.  The store is still a working retail store. 

Getting home around lunchtime, we ate our lunch, rested for a little while, then headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway and a trail called the Cascades trail about 30 minutes from the hotel in the opposite direction as Grandfather Mountain.  The sign said the trail was a leisurely 30 minute walk but actually it was a tough walk similar to yesterday’s strenuous hike.  It was worth it, though, as we saw a beautiful waterfall after trudging down the trail.  It took us a lot longer than a half hour to get back to our car.  I had to stop and rest several times.

Back in Boone, we stopped at a TJ Maxx for Lynn to look for some tennis shoes.  She was unsuccessful.  Then we came on to the hotel and rested some more before heading out to the campus of Applachian State University.  We parked in a visitor parking area then walked around the campus for about 45 minutes.  Appalachian State is similar to JMU.  It has about 18,000 students.  Its campus is fairly compact in Boone.  After all, Boone is in the middle of a very mountainous area of North Carolina so there isn’t a lot of spare space for buildings.

From there we drove to dinner at a restaurant called Vidalia.  Lynn had found this on line and was enamored that they offered a tomato pie appetizer.  She had that plus some pimento cheese on bread (actually it was sourdough multigrain bread from the bakery where I had bought our breakfast, Stick Boy), and a pear salad.  I had chicken and waffles and couldn’t eat it all.  No ice cream for us tonight.

The town of Boone is very careful with COVID-19 protocols.  Most stores have a sign in them which says “No Mask, No Service.” 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 11             Infected                   Died

World             119.095,926           2,640,843

US                     29,922,305              543,585

Virginia                590,625                  9,902

Augusta County       5,261                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,493,097  (916,276 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        27,435  (11,493 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

There are still 145 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.

I was exhausted by the end of the day again.  I did not sleep well again last night.  Hopefully tonight I’ll finally get a good night’s sleep.

March 12, 2021

I did get a good night’s sleep last night which helped me a lot.  The drive home was a long one; we got here about 1:45. We were supposed to leave after Lynn did an interpreting session for Rockingham County Public Schools but it turns out that the Spanish speaking mother was a no-show so we got away sooner than we expected.

Before we left we again enjoyed breakfast from Stick Boys Bakery.  Plus, Lynn asked me to get two loaves of their Country Multigrain Sourdough bread.  We’ll have it for breakfast for the next several days.

On the way home we went by Ashe County Cheese Shop, a company in West Jefferson, NC where we were not only able to purchase a lot of different kinds of cheese but also see it being made.  This was about 30 minutes from Boone. 

Ashe County rang a bell with me and when I got home I confirmed that 8 generations ago William and Elizabeth Hill migrated to West Virginia from Ashe County.  I had thought that Ashe County would have been near Asheville but it turns out it is not. 

This was a good trip for us—not too long but still to somewhere we’d never been.  We got everything done we had scheduled to do.  We ate well and got our steps in. 

The drive home took a total of about 4 ½ hours; our only stop after the Cheese Shop was at a rest stop for a bathroom break and lunch (yogurt from our cooler). 

Lynn had scheduled a Physical Therapy session today at 4:00 and that’s one reason why we left Boone early in the morning.  We got back in plenty of time to unpack our belongings.  She even did a load of laundry before leaving for her PT. 

This was Friday so our dinner was the usual—hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike. 

Today is March 12.  A year ago on March 12 we watched Henry play his one and only soccer game as a freshman.  That weekend was when things came to a standstill with COVID-19.   So we have been under this coronavirus canopy for a full year now.  Thanks goodness things are finally looking up.  On our way home we learned that Josh had gotten an appointment for his first Pfizer vaccine next week.  Hurrah!

I’ve pretty much decided to keep this blog going until April 20.  That will be one full year, 365 posts.  Writing daily has helped me deal with all of the frustrations, fears, and pressure of COVID-19.  Now that Lynn and I are fully vaccinated we both feel a tremendous relief.  I’ve written over 500 pages of text already.

After our dinner tonight, I decided to watch the Fort Defiance – Riverheads football game, broadcast over the NFHS network.  I didn’t expect the game to be very close.  Fort has a 1 – 1 record this year while Riverheads has won the last four Class 1 state championships.   To my recollection, these two teams have not played in many, many years.  At least the two teams had a beautiful night for football though I still preferred to watch it from the comforts of our basement.

Riverheads is a grind-it-out team and they certainly did on their first possession, including a big play on 4th and 11.  They scored after a 4 ½ minute drive, taking the lead 7-0.  Fort, on the other hand, ill-advisedly went for it with 4th and 3 from their own 33 yard line.  The play turned into a fumble and Riverheads was on their way for an apparent second score.  Again it came down to a 4th down play from the 4 yard line but their pass fell incomplete and Fort took back over.  They couldn’t do anything and ended up punting.  The entire quarter was played on the Fort Defiance side of the field—not a good sign.  Penalty after penalty went against the Indians.  Riverheads scored with a few seconds left in the quarter to take a 14 – 0 lead.  From the get-go, Fort played in a desperation mode, going for fake punts and 4th down runs, none of which worked.  Meanwhile, Riverheads kept grinding it out with very few penalties.  None of their plays went for long yardage but none went backwards.  Fort didn’t cross the 50 yard line until late in the first half and they fumbled on the next play.  The halftime score was 35 – 0.   I quit watching at the end of the third and the score 49 – 0.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 12             Infected                   Died

World             119,582,242           2,650,508

US                     29,989,051              545,354

Virginia                592,214                  9,961

Augusta County       5,267                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,557,478  (945,336 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        29,126  (12,459 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County now has 147 residents hospitalized with COVID-19.  You’d think with all the progress that has been made with vaccinations this number would decrease but it is higher than ever.

March 13, 2021

Today was a good Saturday.  The weather was nice—nice enough for Lynn and me to take a walk this afternoon.  This morning we were busy doing things for other people.

We started at Central picking up a large box of food for the Aguirre family.  Central is given SO much food by one of the local Food Lion grocery stores and today was an especially big haul.  We were able to take just a fraction of that food yet fill a large box with groceries for Elizabeth and family.  We were also able to put together a box for Lynn’s student Juan Pablo.  We then delivered the boxes.  They live in opposite directions—Elizabeth in Mount Solon and Juan Pablo in Waynesboro.  Between we made a stop at Walmart to pick up a few items.  It is so nice to be able to go into Walmart (and other stores) without worrying about COVID-19.  By the time we picked up and delivered the food and returned home, it was almost noon.

Next I made my weekly trip to the dump including stopping by the Gutshall’s to get theirs.  The old truck works just fine for this task.  We talked to Ann about having her family over for dinner and we agreed that tonight would work.

That meant Lynn spent a lot of time this afternoon fixing a marvelous supper.  She marinated two huge packages of chicken strips and made a large batch of onion fritters.  And she cooked a large pot of green beans.  And she made rolls using her sour dough.  We needed every bit of it for our dinner.  Every piece of chicken, every onion fritter, and every roll was eaten.  There were a few green beans left over.  Plus, she found a nice ice cream treat she had bought at Aldi’s which served as a good dessert.

We ate outside.  The temperature was in the low 60’s so it was very bearable.  The only thing we both forgot about was that Betsy doesn’t eat meat products any longer but fortunately we were able to add pimento cheese to the mix so she had that along with her rolls and onion fritters. 

Freddie brought a football to toss but even before we ate he reminded me that I had told him that I’d play tennis with him when the weather was better.  It was better today, for sure, so I couldn’t say no.  He actually did very well.  His eye-hand coordination has definitely improved.  It was fun.  Henry and Gus got on the court and hit some balls, too.  Ann, Josh, Lynn, and I were able to chat after we ate.  Everything was almost like old times.  It felt sooooooo good.

Henry had previously asked if I’d help him with some math so when it got dark the others went home and Henry stayed.  He and I worked for about an hour on his assignment.  He catches on very quickly so it wasn’t hard to show him what to do.  Of course, I had a good time doing the problems with him.

This was the weekend for conference basketball championships but none of our favorite teams made it to the finals of their tournament.  WVU got beat by Oklahoma State in the Big 12 quarterfinals, Virginia Tech lost to North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals, and UVA had to drop out of the ACC tournament due to a COVID-19 infection.  Tomorrow is the day that brackets are made for the NCAA March Madness tournament.  All of our teams should make it in the tournament; it will be interesting to see how they do.

This time next weekend all four of Ann, Josh, Lynn, and I will be vaccinated since Josh gets his first on Tuesday. 

Tonight is the night to set our clocks ahead for spring.  That means daylight will last longer beginning tomorrow night.  I love daylight savings time.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

March 13             Infected                   Died

World             120,042,087           2,659,118

US                     30,043,662              546,605

Virginia                593,562                  9,985

Augusta County       5,277                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,623,902  (971,254 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        29,560  (12,681 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Now there are 148 Augusta County residents hospitalized.  When will this number ever stop increasing?? 

March 14, 2021

The weather this Sunday was again nice so once again we were able to get in our standard two mile walk after lunch.  The temperature was a little cooler than yesterday but still around 60o

The morning was a typical Sunday morning.  I did our Zoom Sunday School class.  Lynn did some cleaning up around the house.  We both enjoyed getting up a little later since this was the first morning of daylight savings time.

This time of the year I debate with myself about when to turn the oil burner off and heat just with the heat pump.  Right now they work in tandem to keep our house nice and warm.  There’s no question to me that the hot water radiator heat from the boiler feels warmer so I’m hesitant to turn it off.  I think I’m going to wait one more week to make the change to heat pump only.

This afternoon was a lazy one.  We watched a little of the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship which involved WVU playing Baylor.  Baylor was much too strong, though, and won easily. 

I grilled ribeye steaks tonight.  We also fixed some of the little potatoes from Costco and had green beans left over.  It was a good meal.

After that, we decided to get in walk #2 for the day, enjoying the extra daylight now.  We drove to Grottoes and walked one loop on the 1.4 mile walkway around their park.  It was an easy walk, just right for my fitness and Lynn’s bad back.  From there we drove to Smiley’s and had ice cream.

We got home just in time to Zoom with Jim and Kay.  Both were a little late joining; it turns out I had the wrong time on the invitation.  But we had a good chat with them.

Tonight featured the release of the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament schedule.  WVU plays Morehead State on Friday.  Also on Friday, Virginia Tech plays Florida and Georgia Tech plays Loyola Chicago.  On Saturday, Virginia plays Ohio U. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 14             Infected                   Died

World             120,401,629           2,664,662

US                     30,081,296              547,220

Virginia                594,735                10,019

Augusta County       5,279                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,684,791  (974,837 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        29,639  (12,681 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County only had two new cases since yesterday and no additional deaths or hospitalizations.  That’s encouraging.

March 15, 2021

Today was a typically busy Monday though I confess we didn’t get up until almost 7:00 AM whereas we used to get up at 6:00 AM.  That’s what daylight savings time has done to us.  As most Mondays, it started for me at Central paying bills, making the weekly deposit, etc.  This all went smoothly.

I next hustled to Bridgewater for my car’s state inspection appointment.  That also went smoothly.  By the time I got back home and grabbed some lunch it was time to go to Central again, this time to unload the Food Bank’s truck.  The order this week was only two pallets of food but it was still much easier to unload the pallets in the Church’s parking lot from their truck than to have to drive to Verona to get them then haul them to Central on my pickup truck.

Lynn and I walked when I got back home.  My legs had been hurting while walking but today they felt OK.  The temperature was in the mid 40’s so we had to bundle up.

We opted to get pizza tonight despite having leftovers from last night’s steak dinner.  Now we’ll have leftovers for the next two nights.  The reason for getting pizza tonight is that Vito’s Pizza Pie isn’t open on Tuesday nights.  It is really good pizza.

I spent a lot of time after dinner checking on a place for our entire family to stay at Vic and Amy’s wedding in Kennebunkport, ME.  It may be that one or more families don’t decide to make the 10 hour drive there this summer but we felt like we should go ahead and get rooms reserved which can later be canceled instead of trying to make last-minute reservations when they may not be available.  On Vic and Amy’s wedding website, several hotels were mentioned.  The actual hotel where the wedding will be was a possibility but it was very expensive.  In the meantime, we learned that the DeLeo family (Joseph, Kit, MK, and families) had rented a house.  It turned out that one of the hotels on the list of suggested ones from Vic and Amy is only 0.3 mile from the house the DeLeo’s will be at.  Plus, this hotel, the Rhumb Line Resort, had both indoor and outdoor pools.  And its rates were approximately half the cost of the rooms at the resort where the wedding will be.  So, we called tonight and reserved five rooms, including one for my brother.  We got them all together and poolside.

One issue is vaccination.  Ann, Josh, Jim, Lynn, and I will have had our vaccines.  But Kay and Andy have no idea when they will be able to get theirs.  We’re told that by July everyone who wants one will have been vaccinated.  But until that happens there’s still some uncertainty in the Foy family.

Tonight I got a text from one of my old tennis buddies asking if I was interested and available this Wednesday morning to play at the Mary Baldwin courts.  I said yes.  I hope I still remember how to hit the ball!

I didn’t see the news tonight so I have no idea what’s new with the COVID-19 pandemic, but here are the statistics:

March 15             Infected                   Died

World             120,754,630           2,671,535

US                     30,136,475              547,991

Virginia                595,865                10,060

Augusta County       5,285                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,740,975  (1,010,519 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        30,383  (12,884 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

A landmark of over a million Virginians fully vaccinated; yet, a new record for Augusta County hospitalizations due to coronavirus—149.

March 16, 2021

Today was one of those days that, on reflecting back on what happened, I had a difficult time remembering much of anything significant that occurred.  Maybe I’m getting old, maybe today was just boring.  Either way, the most significant thing that happened was that Josh got his first Pfizer vaccine.

Lynn got a haircut early this morning.  As soon as she got back, we both took her car to McDonough Toyota.  Her car had an appointment there to be inspected (McDonough inspects cars bought there for free) and we wanted to have a look at the new 2021 Venzas since we may elect to get Lynn a new car this year, freeing up for Ann’s family, should they want it, the opportunity to get a good deal from us on Lynn’s RAV 4.  Lynn’s car is a 2017 model with 85,000 miles but has nothing wrong with it that I know of.

The Venza has three different models.  No surprise, the salesman there that we have dealt with in the past, Richard Harlow, started us with the top of the line, the Limited Edition.  It was an impressive car with leather seats, a 12.3” touchscreen display, and, like all Venzas, was a hybrid.  We took it for a short drive.  The touchscreen included navigation that was easy to use.  I could tell Lynn was hooked on this one.  We looked at the bottom of the line, the LE, which costs about $11,000 less than the Limited Edition.  It had a much smaller screen with no navigation.  The Limited Edition was keyless; the LE had a key.  The Limited Edition had seats that both were heated and self-cooled; the LE had neither. 

I did want Lynn to look at the 2021 Rav4 as well but McDonough had only one left and it was one of the entry level ones which she wasn’t interested in.  So we left with Richard promising to let us know when they got more Rav4’s in so we could compare it to the Venza.  Personally, I think Lynn’s mind is already made up but we didn’t discuss it much.

We were back in time for Lynn to do her scheduled 11:30 Zoom.  Two days a week she, a teacher, a parent, and a non-communicative three year old who won’t wear a mask have a Zoom meeting.  Today, for the first time, as they were finishing up the young boy said “Bye” which is the first word Lynn has heard him speak.

This afternoon was frustrating for me.  I had agreed to meet three other men at Central at 1:00 to help unload a new refrigerator that Central was getting from the Food Bank.  I was at CUMC yesterday when Caroline Jones got the call that the truck would be here today at 1:00.  Well, we waited and waited.  Caroline called several times.  Finally, near 3:00 the truck arrived.  But getting it into the church was not an easy task.  It was a very large, two door refrigerator that came enclosed in a wooden case for transport.  It wouldn’t fit through the double door on Central’s first floor until we removed the threshold.  Then it squeezed in where we quickly saw that it wouldn’t fit through the door into the Food Pantry room.  So on Thursday we’re going to try to remove its wheels which will lower it enough to slide through the door where we’ll re-attach the wheels.  The issue is that it is very, very heavy. 

I hustled home.  Henry was waiting for me with two pages of a math assignment he wanted help with.  These were very tough problems I’m going to label as Algebra III such as finding all the zeros of the polynomial f(x) = x4 – x3 – 31x2 + x + 30 = 0.  There were several key concepts in this assignment involving theorems I hadn’t looked at for years and years including Decartes’ Rule of Signs and the Rational Root Theorem.  They quickly came back to me but it still took us nearly two hours to complete his assignment.  Henry is a quick learner, very good at math, but having only three hours (at most) of math per week is not enough for tough material like this.  Worst of all, apparently he has no textbook for this course.  With no textbook, how can a student see examples of how to solve problems?  I think one of the most important things to learn when you take a math course is to learn to read the textbook, following its examples.  In his class, the instruction is all from the teacher in class; there is no textbook to see additional examples from.  I do think his teacher, a former colleague of mine, must be working hard to keep on top of this math, but I really wish he had a good textbook.  COVID-19 has really been tough on math classes because students can’t collaborate with each other outside of class because they can’t get together.  Henry is a quick learner; I’m not sure how others in the class who don’t have his propensity for math are surviving.

Yesterday I called AAA in Charlottesville to check on the money we had put toward last year’s Puerto Rico trip.  I had to wait almost an hour before I got through to an agent.  I quickly learned that the agent we had worked with last year, before the pandemic, no longer works there.  But the lady I spoke to found out information.  She said she would need to do some checking about our deposit and would get back to me within 24 hours at the latest.  Well, it has now been 36 hours and I have nothing from her.  We put down around $2,400 on this trip before the pandemic and I am not going to politely forfeit this money. 

Again I didn’t have a chance to watch the news today but I did look online.  The cool thing is that there is little news of consequence nowadays.  What a change since Trump left office!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 16             Infected                   Died

World             121,215,268           2,681,621

US                     30,190,361              549,246

Virginia                597,141                10,104

Augusta County       5,294                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,775,063  (1,025,332 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        30,505  (12,983 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County had the same number of hospitalized residents today as yesterday, 149.  But the number of cases in the County has dramatically slowed as it has elsewhere. 

March 17, 2021

We got our stimulus money today.  That should help with the new car purchase.  Jim told us he got his, also.

My morning was spent at Eddie Smith’s house.  He had four or five things he wanted done on his new computer and it took me a long time but I finally got them all done.  He is such a good man; I’d do most anything for him.  He is 86 years old but his mind is still quite sharp.

After lunch I ran a couple of errands—picked up a prescription at Kroger and dropped off a library book for Lynn.  Then I went to the Mary Baldwin tennis courts to play a couple of sets of doubles for the first time in a year.  The weather was fine—temps in the lower 60’s.  My tennis wasn’t but I didn’t expect it to be.  I played with Rob Cale, Marc Kinder, and Pat Peason.  They have been playing outside regularly.  They enthusiastically welcomed me back which made me feel good despite the fact that I didn’t play that well.   Rob and I played together the first set and lost 6 – 3.  Pat and I played together the second set.  It was a long one but we lost 9 – 7.  I was really tired by the time we finished.  That had been 1 ½ hours for me.  I did enjoy it, though.

I got home in time to meet Josh and Freddie.  Josh dropped Freddie off so he could take Betsy to dance.  Freddie and I played tennis for a short while then we went to Clymore Elementary so he could play on the playground there.  Plus, that’s where I was to meet Henry and Gus after their soccer open-field so this worked out well.  With the three boys, I returned to the house so Gus could pick up his Playstation then I took them home.

When I got back, Lynn wanted to walk so we did our standard two mile walk.  I was quite tired when we got back home—I walked well over my 10,000 step goal today.  We had leftover pizza for dinner then I went downstairs and filled in my NCAA mens basketball brackets for the upcoming tournament.  I did this twice—once on the Worthington PickHoops site that Lynn’s brother Bill hosts and again on the WHSV TV-3 site.  When you fill in brackets, there are basically two choices:  use your head or use your heart.  I went for the latter and picked seven of the eight quarterfinalists to be from the Big 12 Conference.  And, of course, I have WVU winning it all.  They never have but maybe this will be the first time.  Actually I know I’m just donating $5 to the Worthington pool.

This morning I called Ann because John Bauman told me yesterday that he had changed his internet provider to the Elon Musk satellite system known as Starlink.  I knew that Ann had been waiting for months for this to be offered so once I knew John was on it I let Ann know.  She immediately signed up for it.  I guess it will be a few days before she receives her equipment but it will be interesting to see if it works OK for them.  They have DISH network and it works fine and this is the same idea so maybe it will finally give them a way to get a good interenet connection.  I hope so!

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

March 17             Infected                   Died

World             121,787,983           2,691,485

US                     30,291,308              550,552

Virginia                598,468                10,154

Augusta County       5,297                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,810,928  (1,036,399 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        30,884  (13,335 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Strangely, Augusta County’s death total decreased by one.  Perhaps there was a previous data entry error.  And although there were only three new cases in the county, an all time record for hospitalizations was set at 150.  It seems to me that those hospitalized are not making anywhere near a rapid recovery.

March 18, 2021

Today was rainy and cold all day so there was no tennis playing or walking.  Tomorrow is supposed to be drier but even colder with a stiff wind so I may not get in any exercise then, either.  I’m really starting to doubt that I can get in shape for a 150 mile bicycle ride by early May.

I joined John Bauman, Pastor Won, and Bill Bushman at Central this morning to get the giant refrigerator in to the Food Pantry room where it was scheduled to go.  It wasn’t easy.  First we had to jack it up and remove its wheels.  We also removed the door from the Food Pantry Room.  Then we gently slid it through the door, a very tight fit.  Once in the room, we had to reinstall the room door and its wheels, then install its shelves.  But after about two hours it was up and running and the room was clean.  After that I spent around an hour doing CUMC treasurer’s work.

In the meantime, Lynn went to Harrisonburg to test a student.  She didn’t come home afterwards because she had an interpreting session scheduled at Lacey Spring Elementary School at 3:15. I guess she made a few dollars today testing and interpreting.

I was here when Freddie’s bus came.  Betsy also got off and stayed with me until Ann got here.  I fixed hot chocolate for them and we played Wii until she came.   About the same time she got here, Lynn also got back home.

Some good news is that vaccinations, nationwide, are ahead of schedule.  NBC news reported that President Joe Biden said he was poised to meet his goal of administering 100 million Covid-19 vaccination shots in his first 100 days on Friday, more than 40 days ahead of schedule.  “I am proud to announce that tomorrow, 58 days into my administration, we will have met our goal,” Biden said Thursday afternoon in a speech at the White House.   But cases are rising now again in 15 states.  Doctors like Dr. Fauci warn that opening up too soon, letting our guard down especially with spring break coming up, could cause a 4th wave of COVID-19. 

The good news is that CNN says if Covid-19 cases continue to rise, the mass vaccination of our most vulnerable are likely to limit increases in hospitalizations and deaths. People age 65 and older make up more than 80% of all Covid-19 deaths, according to Centers for Disease Control and Preventation data. Yet 66% of people 65 and older have had at least one vaccine dose and about 39% are fully vaccinated, which sharply cuts down on the risk of hospitalization and death.

The CDC is expected to change its recommendations for schools tomorrow making the social distance three feet instead of six feet for students wearing masks.  This will be just in time for Augusta County which plans to have students return four days per week on April 15.

After a long day at work, Lynn’s back was painful for her tonight.  She had to lie down soon after dinner.  She had physical therapy yesterday plus we walked afterwards so maybe she was exhausted.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

March 18             Infected                   Died

World             122,320,822           2,701,390

US                     30,353,507              552,146

Virginia                600,550                10,182

Augusta County       5,306                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,870,901  (1,053,711 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        32,155  (13,702 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

The number of hospitalizations in Augusta County remains at 150. 

March 19, 2021

Lynn worked giving tests at Turner Ashby High School this morning.  I had nothing important to do so I went to the Staunton YMCA and walked.  It was the first time in a year that I had been in the Y despite keeping my membership each month.  It was too cold to walk outside so all I did was to walk around the short track there for an hour.  It was boring but the environment was pleasant.

I am somewhat out of place at a place like the Y.  I am certainly not a body-builder and there were lots of them there.  They weren’t walking like I was but I passed by all of the gym machines as I walked.  I have never and will never have a sculpted body.

After Lynn came home at lunchtime we ran a bunch of errands in Harrisonburg before returning home in time to watch the second half of the VA Tech – Florida basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  In my brackets I had picked the higher rated Florida to win though I greatly preferred for the Hokies to prevail.  They led 33 – 27 at the half.  With less than ten minutes to go they held on to a 48 – 44 lead.  They had been ahead practically the whole game.  But with four minutes to go Florida went on a 7 point run and took a 56 – 52 lead.   The Hokies went on a four minute drought with no field goals and fell behind 59  – 53.  With one minute to go they were down 62 – 57.  With seven seconds to go and the score 64 – 61 Tech missed a 3-point chance to tie the game.  Florida had two shots to seal the game but missed both.  Tech rebounded and hit a three pointer to send the game to overtime.  Unfortunately, Florida held on in overtime and hit a three pointer with 23 seconds to go making the score 74 – 70.  They missed again and had to foul.  The final score was 75 – 70.

Between games Lynn had another Physical Therapy session at Synergy in Verona.  While she did that I went to the Staunton library for her then went to Krogers to get some groceries.  After we returned home we got our standard Friday night dinner—hamburgers from the Old School food truck.  We also picked up some for Bonnie and Ron Ball and delivered them to their house.

Tonight I watched two different sports at once.  On my iPad I watched the Fort Defiance – Stuarts Draft high school football game.  It wasn’t much of a game as once again Fort was awful.  The final score was 35 – 0.  At the same time I watched more of the NCAA tournament, seeing Georgia Tech lose to Chicago Loyola and the Oklahoma State – Liberty game.  I’ve already lost a few games in my bracket so I needed Oklahoma State to come through.  They did not play well and fell behind in the first half.  In the second half they played a little better and Liberty seemed to get worn down.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 19             Infected                   Died

World             122,866,399           2,712,435

US                     30,423,093              553,917

Virginia                602,182                10,092

Augusta County       5,314                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,940,103  (1,075,770 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        32,673  (14,048 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Those who maintain Virginia’s statistics must be doing some corrections because the number of deaths in Virginia decreased by 90 overnight and the number of deaths in Augusta County decreased by 3.  Augusta County still has 150 hospitalized.

The WVU – Morehead State game didn’t come on until 9:50 this evening so I’ll write about it tomorrow.  WVU is the kind of team that can beat any team and lose to any team.  Morehead State had won 19 of its last 20 games coming into the game so I was worried even though WVU was a 3 seed and its opponent a 14 seed.

March 20, 2021

The Mountaineers came through late last night.  The game was close for a while but in the second half WVU dominated the Eagles and took a 84 – 76 win.  They were ahead for most of the game but Morehead State wouldn’t go away.  It was a good win for the Mounties, coach Bob Huggins’ 900th win.   They now play Syracuse tomorrow afternoon.

Today started out like a typical Saturday.  We left fairly early to pick up groceries for Elizabeth’s family then took them out to her.  Lynn had invited her Cheryl friends over around noon.  I had my usual Saturday morning trash run to do plus I wanted to swap the current locations of my lawnmower (shed) and Jim’s snowblowers (garage) because we’re getting new garage doors this Wednesday and I wanted to start cleaning out our garage some.

We then got a great phone call.  I had previously made a deal with Jim that I would buy him a new special drill for drilling in brick/concrete if he would install a bird feeder on our brick back porch.  He said he could pick up the drill today and come and do the job.  Best of all, he said he would be bringing Coen and Faron with him.

We have seen all of our grandchildren during the pandemic but none so rarely as Faron and Coen.  In fact, they had not been to our house since Thanksgiving of 2019.  So it had been 16 months since they had come here.  Their mother has been extremely protective of them but agreed that Jim could bring them here today if they stayed outside the whole time.

They got here around 12:45 and stayed for four hours.  It was four great hours for Lynn and me.  The boys played on our playset.  They swung in the Pergola.  They rode their bikes and scooters on our tennis court which Jim had brought with him.  They rode our big wheels there.  They played basketball and football.  They ran all over the yard, climbed the big maple tree, and ate their McDonald’s lunch on our back porch.  They played on the seesaw, did the monkey bars, and swung on the playset swings.  I took over 100 pictures.  In the meantime, Jim used his new tool to install two bird feeders for Lynn plus some other tasks.  Before they headed back to Roanoke, we all went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  It was a fantastic afternoon.

The weather was wonderful—sunny and not cold.  It was a marvelous day.

After we got back from Smileys, Lynn and I ordered a calzone from the New York Pizza shop in Mount Sidney.  I copied my 111 new pictures to several locations then settled in to watch some more NCAA basketball including the Virginia – Ohio game.

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

March 20             Infected                   Died

World             123,406,872           2,721,077

US                     30,479,306              554,877

Virginia                604,475                10,104

Augusta County       5,323                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,014,056  (1,092,681 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        33,005  (14,207 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

I heard on the news today that it was exactly one year ago today when Virginia had its first COVID-19 infection.  Wow—since then over 604,000 have gotten it.  It’s good to see that more than 3 million Virginians have at least one vaccine shot.  I wish Kay and Andy could get one.  The rest of the adults in my immediate family have at least one.

March 21, 2021

This was a typical Sunday for us.  It began with Sunday School for me again.  In the meantime, Lynn began working on dinner for the Gutshall family.  They agreed to come over early to watch the WVU – Syracuse basketball game.  They watched downstairs and Lynn and I watched upstairs.

The weather was very nice again so Lynn and I took our standard two mile walk after lunch.  I really need to do more exercise and get in better shape if I’m to do the bicycle ride in early May.

The NCAA basketball tournament has really been interesting so far this year.  There have been many big upsets:  Oral Roberts University over Ohio State, Ohio University over Virginia, and Abilene Christian over Texas.  Today’s big upset included Loyola Chicago over #1 seeded Illinois, 71 – 58.  Unfortunately there was another upset this evening:  Syracuse defeated my beloved Mountaineers.  WVU got behind 14 points a couple of times then came back to even take the lead but the hot-shooting Orangemen took my Mountaineers out of the tournament.  It was very, very, very disappointing.

Ann’s family came over tonight.  Lynn had spent a lot of time today fixing a huge dinner including creamed turkey, rice, lima beans, corn, and rolls.  We watched the first half of the basketball game, ate dinner at halftime, when watched the rest of the game.  After the game I played some tennis outside with Henry, Gus, and Freddie. 

March 21             Infected                   Died

World             123,844,154           2,727,286

US                     30,521,658              555,298

Virginia                604,904                10,117

Augusta County       5,330                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,075,086  (1,114,156 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        33,215  (14,233 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

The number of Augusta County residents hospitalized keeps on rising.  Today it reached another all-time high at 151.  This happened despite the number of those infected has decreased markedly.  I can’t explain it. 

March 22, 2021

Today was a typical Monday.  I spent a couple of hours at Central doing Treasurer’s work which today included counting the offering, making the deposit at the bank and in QuickBooks, paying a bill, setting up the payroll for March 31, and paying two of the benefits (insurance and retirement) that are paid monthly for Pastor Won.  It all went smoothly.

When I came home, Lynn was still at Turner Ashby High School testing students so I decided to spent some time on my bike.  My bike is now mounted on a trainer in our basement.  That way I can peddle and watch tv at the same time.  I’m worried about my legs holding out when we do the 150 mile hike in early May but I’m also quite worried about my butt surviving that long on my bike’s saddle seat.  So I spent 40 minutes peddling and sitting on the seat. 

When Lynn got home we ate lunch then took a walk.  The weather was very nice again with highs around 60. 

Later in the day I did another 20 minutes on the bike so, all in all, I was on it for an hour today.  I need to do this more often because I imagine we’ll be riding up to five hours a day when we ride in Missouri.  To be honest, I’m still not 100% sure I’m going to make that trip because I don’t want to be the one that holds everyone else back just because I’m not in shape.  If I don’t feel like I can do the ride then I’ll drop out before leaving home.

I didn’t get much else done today, unlike Lynn who not only tested students all morning but also did a Zoom interpreting session at another school while she was at Turner Ashby.  Plus, she did barber duties when she got home, cutting my hair.  She does a very nice job.

My only payback was using the new message gun she bought on her back.  It vibrates the soft tissue in her back, relaxing it.  She likes the relief it gives her.  She needs relief, too, as she is still far from recovered from her back injury.

I watched a little NCAA basketball tonight but my interest has greatly fallen off now that the teams I support:  WVU, VA Tech, UVA, and Georgia Tech have all lost in the tournament.  I have about zero chance of winning any of the brackets I turned in.

The news tonight is both good and bad for COVID-19.  The good news is that a fourth vaccine, AstraZeneca, had really good test results among the 30,000+ trials in the US.  Not a single person who took the vaccine had to be hospitalized with coronavirus.  But the interesting part of this development is that the US will likely not need this vaccine because there are already orders placed with the other three (Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson) to cover all Americans.  The bad news regarding COVID-19 is that twenty states, including Virginia, have showed an increase in infections over the past few days.  It’s no wonder that Florida has an increase; there were many videos of spring break parties there involving hundreds of young people with no masks nor social distancing.

We had some very good news today from a travel agent at AAA in Charlottesville.  We had contacted AAA to see what the status was on the $2,400 we had prepaid for our canceled Puerto Rico trip from last year.  We had fears that all or parts of this money would be lost.  Furthermore, we had learned that the travel agent we had worked with to plan this trip prior to the pandemic was no longer working there.  But the lady whom we had contacted got back to us today and reported to us that we had been placed in a deal with the travel company we originally planned the PR trip with that paid us 25% extra.  In other words, instead of losing some of our $2,400 deposit we actually now have a credit for over $2,900 with the company.  There are some strings attached.  First, we must use this credit and travel before December 15 of this year.  But we don’t have to travel to Puerto Rico; we can use the credit where ever this company has ties to airlines and hotels.  She sent us a link for their typical destinations which basically includes every content and most nations.  We made an appointment to meet her next Tuesday morning in Charlottesville to further explore our options.

It is obvious to use that we won’t be taking the Gutshall family to Puerto Rico this year because there is very little likelihood that the children will be vaccinated in 2021.  So we’ll just wait until 2022 and take them then, if that’s what they want.

In the meantime, Lynn somewhat has her eyes set on the Florida Keys.  She has wanted to go there for a long time.  But I don’t think we would need $2,900 to go to the Keys.  We’ll just have to find out from the travel agent what our options are. 

We have one long trip already in the works.  From July 17 – July 26 we will be traveling to Portugal and northern Spain, ending up in Barcelona.  This trip is with a company, Globus.  We originally planned to go with Globus to Brazil and Argentina but changed this to Portugal and Spain when we learned how COVID-19 has been so devasting in South America.  The truth is I don’t think Portugal and Spain will allow incoming visitors as of today but by July we hope this will not be an issue.

Of course, we also have the trip to Maine scheduled for June 30 – July 3 for Vic and Amy’s wedding.  We may be able to squeeze in a trip to Oregon at some time, too.  We just feel like we need to travel while we have the health.  Right now, Oregon recommended a 14 day quarantine for anyone visiting from out of state but hopefully this policy will be changed soon, too.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 22             Infected                   Died

World             124,266,969           2,734,701

US                     30,568,244              555,870

Virginia                605,967                10,127

Augusta County       5,334                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,123,190  (1,133,834 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        33,602  (14,435 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

There are still 151 Augusta County residents hospitalized.  I also found a statistic regarding national vaccines.  In the US, 124 million people (37% of the population) have received at least one dose and 44.1 million are fully vaccinated (13.45% of the population). 

March 23, 2021

All I had on my original schedule for today was tennis at 11:00 and Freddie’s bus arrival at 3:18.  But mid-morning I got a reminder from Savannah at Central UMC that this was the scheduled day for both Central’s Finance and Church Council meetings.  I hustled to Central to gather some data for the Finance meeting which we scheduled at 6:30 PM.  Then I headed to Mary Baldwin’s tennis courts.

It wasn’t hot today; it was overcast with temperatures in the low 50’s.  But it felt good to play tennis outside.  I played better than I did last week.  The other three players were Pastor Won, Marc Kinder, and Rob Cale.  We played three sets, rotating partners each set.  My record was 2 – 1 which was better than my last week’s record which had zero wins.

When I came home, I worked a good bit more getting ready for the Finance Committee meeting.  I always sound like a whiner at those meetings, complaining how our income doesn’t meet our expenses and that we’d really be struggling if we didn’t have our investment accounts to bail us out.

I also spent a lot of time today looking at various options with the travel company Travel Impressions which is the company holding our deposit from last year’s scheduled Puerto Rico trip.  There are lots of options for us to discuss when we meet with the travel agent next Tuesday.

At 6:30 we had the CUMC Finance Committee meeting via Zoom.  It went well and was followed by our monthly Council meeting at 7:00.  Everything was wrapped up by 8:00 and I quickly e-mailed the minutes.  I’m always glad to get that behind me.

Lynn made a delicious dinner tonight with an “oldie but goodie,” hamburger casserole.  It was particularly tasty, perhaps because it had been a while since she had fixed it.  Lynn is a really good cook but lately I’ve tried to keep her from cooking too often during the week because her back needs to be resting.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 23             Infected                   Died

World             124,775,908           2,745,146

US                     30,633,757              556,799

Virginia                607,234                10,137

Augusta County       5,342                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,149,148  (1,142,467 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        34,017  (14,758 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

A handful of states, including West Virginia, now offer vaccines to anyone 16 and over.  Virginia is not among them but an article I read today from CNN said that this might change sometime in April.  I hope so; Kay and Andy need a shot.

In the past two weeks there have been two more cases of multiple killings by a gunman with a semi-automatic gun, one in Atlanta and another in Colorado.  When will this stop?  When will our legislators quit bowing down to lobbies like the NRA and pass meaningful gun control legislation?  Why in the world does a person need a gun that can unload 50 shots per second?  I’m much more fearful of being killed by a white man with an AR-15 than by an attack from a Black Lives Matter advocate or illegal immigrant.  And I believe I’m much more at risk at Walmart or Krogers when I’m among people who pack than I am at home with no gun in the house.

March 24, 2021

The big item on the agenda today is that the Overhead Door crew came to install our new garage doors.  I had ordered the doors from Overhead Door because I had worked for years with Lowell Fulk who was employed there.  Lowell has been on the Rockingham County School Board for decades and I had many contacts with him when I worked for the school system.  Plus, he is an ardent Democrat, living in a heavily Republican county, so he and I are philosophically in sync.  Wouldn’t you know that one week after I called him to get our doors replaced when the huge spring on one of the doors snapped, he announced his retirement.  Nonetheless, he got everything ordered for us and it showed up this morning.

I spent quite a bit of time shuffling things around in the garage and cleaning up before they came so there would be plenty of room for them to do the installation.  Our garage is so full of junk that this wasn’t easy.  Well, all of it isn’t junk as much of it came from Lynn’s parents’ home after they died, but nonetheless the room can’t really be called a garage because no cars fit in it.

The new doors are lighter than the 50-year old wooden doors they replaced.  According to the advertisement on the Overhead Door website, “Thermacore® insulated steel doors are the ideal choice for premium construction and maximum thermal efficiency. This series of doors feature our sandwich construction of steel-polyurethane-steel as well as between-section seals with thermal breaks to reduce air infiltration.”

All of the old hardware was removed so everything that went in its place is new.  Hopefully this will mean that we won’t have any trouble with the new ones; the old doors were a semi-regular source of headache even before the spring broke.

After the first couple of hours, I am very pleased with our new garage doors.  We also got the keypad for outside access and three remotes for our three vehicles.  The new doors are much smother and quieter than the old ones.  I hope they last 50+ years like their predecessors.  The men who installed the new doors knew what they were doing, ran into no particular obstacles, and did a good job, as far as I can tell.

In the meantime, the Toyota car salesman that we’ve been working with, Richard Harlow, sent Lynn a spec sheet about a Venza that will be arriving at McDonough Toyota before the end of this month.  It appears to be exactly what she wants so this afternoon I went there and left him a deposit.  When it comes, we’ll see if it, indeed, is what she wants and if so we’ll buy it.  Between the garage doors and the car we spent some money today!

Lynn had Physical Therapy for her back today so I dropped her off, went to McDonough Toyota to leave our deposit on the Venza, went to Aldi’s to buy a couple of items, then returned to Synergy Rehab to pick her up after her PT. 

After dinner, we took advantage of the sunny weather with temperatures in the 60’s and took a walk on our normal two mile trail.

Here are my daily COVID-19 statistics:

March 24             Infected                   Died

World             125,202,291           2,752,100

US                     30,691,230              557,905

Virginia                608,704                10,143

Augusta County       5,358                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,226,713  (1,167,307 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        34,928  (15,457 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

March 25, 2021

Lynn had morning work at Turner Ashby High School again so I decided to get in some more seat time on my bike.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to leave the basement to do this since my bike is currently mounted on Jim’s trainer.  I pedaled for an hour while watching CNN.  This may sound like a lot but when we do our May bike hike on the Katy Trail I could be in the saddle for 5 – 6 hours a day.  I know I’m not ready for that yet.  I hope to get a chance for a real bike ride sometime soon.

Lynn and I even discussed taking a trip to Pennsylvania for a few days after Easter.  If we do, we may take our bikes and ride on a rail trail near Altoona.  I found a few possibilities online today.  I guess it will mainly depend on the weather.

It is looking more and more like we’ll be having an Easter egg hunt here on the Saturday before Easter, April 3.  Kay let us know that she and her family will be in Charlottesville that weekend and could come over.  Today I got all of the Easter stuff down from the storage over the garage.

I spent a little time cleaning the garage some more today, too.  When Freddie and Betsy came here after their school, I showed them how to use the new keypad to open either door.  The new doors are SO much safer than the old ones were.  I frequently discouraged the grandchildren from going outside through the garage doors before we got the new ones just because I was afraid of the huge springs breaking.  One did break, and that’s what precipitated getting our new doors.  The new doors have a different kind of spring which appears to be much safer.

After Lynn’s work this morning, she and I made a trip to Harrisonburg with several stops.  First we went to the Rockingham County School Board office to return some testing materials she had.  I helped her carry them in and, while there, I chatted with Kim Garber and Stephanie Failes.  I hadn’t talked with either of them in months; it was good to see them again. 

Other stops for us included Krispy Kreme where we verified that, indeed, you do get a free donut if you show proof of your vaccination!  Then we went to Costco where we bought a new set of pots and pans for the kitchen.  Ours were old and worn.

Tonight, after dinner at home, we went to Smiley’s for dessert.  I never get tired of eating that ice cream!

When we got home, we decided to take advantage of the NFHS network and watch the Fort Defiance – Staunton girls volleyball match.  It was a good one.  FDHS started slowly and got behind quickly.  They came all the way back to 24 – 23 but lost the next point and first game, 25 – 23.  But the second game was a completely different story.  Fort dominated it, 25 – 11.  They continued their roll into the third game, going ahead 7 – 1.  Lynn and I have watched a lot of volleyball over the years and one thing that is certain is that momentum is important.  It seems like when one team grabs the momentum they are invincible.  Tonight there were lots of long and contested points.  Staunton grabbed the momentum back for a while in the third game and came back to 11 – 7 then went on another run to take the lead 13 – 12.   Then the lead switched hands several times.  But the last team to go on a roll was FDHS and they won, 25 – 20.  Staunton looked winded in the fourth game.  Fort jumped out to a 16 – 7 lead.  Staunton made a run after Fort’s lead grew to 20 – 12 but FDHS answered to up the score to 22 – 16.  With the score 22 – 18, FDHS closed the match with the last three points.  It was good volleyball to watch.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 25             Infected                   Died

World             126,033,104           2,766,304

US                     30,769,035              559,611

Virginia                610,263                10,147

Augusta County       5,367                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,282,767  (1,183,917 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        35,188  (15,496 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

March 26, 2021

Today was an easy but productive Friday.  Lynn had Physical Therapy plus three different short Zoom interpreting sessions today.  I had only one thing on the agenda at Central in the afternoon.

I got in a little exercise today.  First I rode on the bike (on the trainer) for a while.  Then Lynn and I did our two mile walk.  I still need to exercise lots more to get in shape for the May bike trip.

I spent a good bit of time this morning making plans for a trip Lynn and I want to take after Easter.  We decided to combine a trip to see my sister with a trip I had suggested to her at Christmas.  We’re going to leave home on Thursday, April 8 and return on Saturday, April 10.  On this trip, we’ll not only see Mary K. but will also ride our bikes on two trails and visit five ice cream creameries.  I had scoped out all of the creameries in the Pennsylvania-Maryland-Virginia area back in December knowing how much Lynn likes ice cream.  This morning I firmed up the plans which have us driving first to a creamery near Chambersburg PA on the 8th, then on to my sister’s house in Altoona.  We’ll stay at the Comfort Suites not far from her house.  The next day we’ll drive to Frederick, MD, stopping at a creamery near there for lunch.  Then we’ll ride bikes on a trail near town, followed by dinner and dessert at anoter creamery.  On Saturday morning, we’ll first drive to the C & O Canal bike path which is nearby and ride our bikes again.  Then we’ll visit a creamery near there then head home, stopping halfway at our last creamery.  This should be a fine trip!  By the time the day was done, I had confirmed with my sister that the date was OK and made our hotel reservations for the two nights we’ll be away.

This afternoon I did my errands at Central.  First, I did my treasurer’s duty of paying the bills that had accumulated this week.  Then I went to the sanctuary and recorded a reading for this Sunday’s recorded service.  Then I picked up a bunch of food for Elizabeth’s family which we’ll take to her tomorrow morning.  It was a very successful trip to CUMC for me.

This evening we had two friends over for dinner, Cheryl and Bogie Wright.  Actually, we all got hamburgers from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike and brought them back to our patio to eat.   Today was Cheryl’s birthday so after we ate our burgers we went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  Smiley’s was busier than I have ever seen the place—there was a line of over twenty people waiting to order.  But the line went fast and soon I was enjoying a cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.  All four of us got the same flavor.  We took our folding chairs and chatted in the parking lot with our cones.

When I got home I decided to watch a little of the Fort Defiance – Wilson Memorial football game on the NFHS network.  I missed most of the first half.  Fort struggled again in this game; the score was 14 – 0 at half.  Soon it was 21 – 0.  Fort’s losses have been 49 – 6 to Riverheads and 35 – 0 to Stuarts Draft the past two weeks.  They also lost 15 – 0  to Rockbridge the first week the played.  So how in the world did they defeat Staunton 39 – 10 the second game of the season?  Their offense is so bad I am amazed they scored 39 points in one game. In tonight’s game, Fort did manage to score late in the 4th quarter to make the final score 21 – 8.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 26             Infected                   Died

World             126,673,096           2,778,770

US                     30,848,263              561,070

Virginia                612,062                10,154

Augusta County       5,373                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,357,008  (1,209,895 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        35,682  (15,589 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

At least the number of Augusta County residents who have died or are hospitalized hasn’t changed in the last several days. 

March 27, 2021

This was a typical Saturday, especially in the morning.  We took the food from Central to Elizabeth’s family mid-morning.  She was very appreciative, as always.

After that, I loaded up my truck with our trash, picked up the Gutshall’s, then took it all to the dumpster in Mount Sidney.  The weather was nice so this was a pleasant chore.

In the meantime, Lynn had gone to Staunton to see her Aunt Jo Lee who is at The Legacy.  Visitors are now allowed in again so she had her first visit in ages there.  Then she got some groceries and came home. 

After lunch, we decided to take a longer walk than we’ve been taking.  The pleasant weather helped so we did the Leaport Loop.  I looked back through my notes and believe thte last time we did this was July 1, 2020.  Of course, she broke her foot in July so our long walks had ceased.  I felt surprisingly good when we got back home after the 3.7 mile hike.  I expected to be much more tired but I felt fine.

One of the reasons that I thought I’d be tired is that I spent an hour today on my bike (in the trainer) while Lynn was in Staunton.  So my legs have gotten much more of a workout today which they need.  The disappointing thing about riding the bike on the trainer is that the iPhone health app doesn’t pick up the leg movements as steps.  So when I got off the trainer it said I had only 2,000 steps.  When we got back from the Leaport Loop I was well over 10,000 steps.

For dinner tonight, Lynn fixed waffles.  We hadn’t eaten waffles in months, maybe even years.  They were delicious. 

We heard today that Andy got an appointment for his first vaccination shot.  Kay doesn’t have one scheduled yet.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 27             Infected                   Died

World             127,223,738           2,788,068

US                     30,911,667              561,966

Virginia                613,974                10,178

Augusta County       5,379                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,403,097  (1,222,047 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        35,728  (15,610 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County’s deaths remained at 66 and hospitalizations at 151. 

We’re in the process of planning several trips for later this year.  Some that we are considering are:

  • Driving trip April 8 – 10 as I described yesterday.  This one appears to be definite now.
  • Possible trip to Florida Keys in late May.  We’ll know more when we meet with the AAA travel agent this coming Tuesday.
  • Trip to Maine June 30 – July 3 for Vic and Amy’s wedding.  This one is definite.  This will be a driving trip.
  • Portugal – Spain July 17 – 28.  This one is with Globus Tours.  We’ve paid our deposit and think this one is definite.
  • Oregon perhaps August 31 – September 8.  We’re coordinating this with Hal and Diane whose son lives in Ashland, OR.

March 28, 2021

Today proved to be a busy Sunday for us.  It started out as most do, with a leisurely breakfast then a 9:00 Sunday School class for me. 

Before lunch, Lynn got a text from Diane and Hal Koerner asking us about Oregon travel plans.  They told us that they would like to meet us there but had to work around a race that their son Hallie was involved in on September 11.  The kind of races that Hal Koerner III runs in are ultramarathons, sometimes over 100 miles long. 

After lunch we called them and made some tentative plans for a long Oregon vacation in September.  We’ll likely meet them in Portland on September 1, visit places around there for several days, then they’ll head four hours south to Ashland where their son lives.  We’ll spend the better part of a week sightseeing around Oregon on our way to Ashland and will arrive around September 10 so we can see the race.  We’ll head back to Portland on September 13 and fly home on the 14th.  At least that’s our tentative plans.

The weather was OK today though very windy and rainy at times.  We did manage to find time to take our two mile walk.

We had to get back in time to fix dinner for the Gutshalls.  We (mostly Lynn) fixed a big dinner including a ham, macaroni and cheese, biscuits, hard boiled eggs, asparagus, and a chocolate cake for dessert.  It was a fine dinner.  Ann and Josh took home lots of leftovers which is just what we intended.

I also watched some of the NCAA basketball tournament today but, like yesterday, I wasn’t too invested in it because none of the teams left are favorites of mine.  For the most part, even the ones which were left that I favored lost so this was not a good tournament for my favorites, for sure.

I also worked some math problems with Henry tonight but we mostly did them during basketball games.  His problems aren’t due until Thursday so I guess if he has any questions I have plenty of time to help him.

March 28             Infected                   Died

World             127,762,982           2,795,893

US                     30,962,803              562,526

Virginia                615,366                10,198

Augusta County       5,380                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,505,656  (1,253,021 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        36,999  (16,211 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

The good news is that Augusta County had only one new case in the past 24 hours and no new deaths nor hospitalizations.  The number hospitalized remains at 151, though.

March 29, 2021

We awoke this morning with a concerning text from Jim.  He said that he was at the hospital with a terrible pain in his groin.  He asked if we could come and pick him up.  So quickly, of course, we got up and ate breakfast.  Lynn had several items on her agenda for today and I only had one so I went by myself to Roanoke, leaving around 7:00 AM.

Lynn and I talked over the phone and thought that this must be a kidney stone.  Sure enough, he texted us that, indeed, this was the diagnosis.  He said undergone an ultrasound and was awaiting a CT scan to make sure there was no infection.  If there was no infection, it would be treated with typical drugs.  By the time I got to Roanoke, he had texted that there was no infection but he definitely did have a stone.

I got to the parking lot at Lewis Gale Hospital just as he was coming outside.  He had been given some medicine and several prescriptions were called in.  He told me that Morgan had taken him there at 4:00 AM.  He hadn’t had anything to eat or drink so our first stop was at a Mill Mountain Coffee Shop for him to grab a pastry and some coffee.  I like their coffee so I bought a pound of it, too. 

We then drove to a CVS where his prescriptions had been called in.  He was given three different prescriptions.  We picked them up then headed to his house.  By this time he wasn’t in any pain but I’m sure he was dead tired.  His cross country team had an away meet today so he had already made plans for a half-day substitute and had called her earlier in the morning and changed it to a full day.  He was still bent on going to the meet.

I left Roanoke coming back home shortly after 11:00.  During my trip down there I had made arrangements with Sam Richardson to do Central’s weekly deposit tomorrow instead of today so my calendar was clear.  I got back home near 1:00 just as Lynn left to walk with her friend Ginny Bauman. 

Lynn had Physical Therapy today at 3:30 so I took her then went in to S & W Appliance to pick up a filter for our refrigerator.  Our icemaker had slowed making ice to a crawl so I thought this would be the fix it needed.  We were supposed to replace this filter every six months but we hadn’t done so.  The new filter seemed to fix the problem.

After dinner tonight I hopped on my bike and peddled for an hour.  It was the only exercise I got today but better than nothing.

This evening we called Jim to see how he felt.  He said he was OK and had gone to the cross country meet.  He said he was told it might take a week or two for him to pass the kidney stone.

On the news tonight it was reported that over 93,000,000 Americans, 37% of the population, had gotten at least their first vaccination shot so far.  And, the report said that even one shot provides a person with 80% immunity.  Yet the head of the CDC warned of a 4th wave as people let their guards down.  Supposedly in several states infections and deaths are on the rise again.

Here are today’s statistics:

March 29             Infected                   Died

World             128,202,664           2,803,562

US                     31,028,530              563,183

Virginia                616,509                10,219

Augusta County       5,388                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,590,553  (1,278,643 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        37,259  (16,418 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

Today there was a new record set for the number of hospitalizations in Augusta County, 152.

I wrote this post on my downstairs iMac because I left my MacBook Pro with Jim today.  I had taken it with me in case I had spare time waiting on him which I didn’t.  But once he got in the car I realized that he needed it to do his TurboTax return for 2020.  I’ll get it back from him later this week sometime.

March 30, 2021

We had a very good visit today with Mana Welsh, AAA Travel Consultant in Charlottesville.  We found out that we can apply the credit we have for the canceled Puerto Rico trip to our Oregon vacation scheduled in September.  She helped us look at various options involving flights, hotels in Portland, and rental cars.  Of course, our trip to Oregon for two weeks will cost lots more than what we deposited on the Puerto Rico trip but at least we can pay for the flights, hotel stays in Portland, and rental car with these funds.

Tonight we called Hal and Diane and firmed up lots more of the plans for this trip.  We are now going to fly from Reagan to Portland on September 1.  They are going to meet us in Portland that day.  We will stay in Portland for three nights.  On Thursday, September 2 we will go eastward to see Mount Hood, Multanomah Falls, etc.  On Friday, September 3 we will go northward in the Columbia River valley, perhaps all the way to the coast in Astoria.  On Saturday, September 4 we will travel west to see Tillamook and the Pacific Coast.  On Sunday, September 5 we will travel south along the coast and stay there.  On Monday, September 6 we will go sightseeing at the Trail of Ten Falls and stay in Lebanon OR.  On Tuesday, September 7 we will drive to Smith Rock State Park and stay in Bend OR.  On Wednesday, September 8 we will drive to Crater Lake and stay in a cabin there for two nights.  On Friday, September 10 we will meet back up with the Koerners at the location of the ultramarathon they are going to be working at along with their son, Hal III, in Grants Pass.  We’ll stay in Ashland, visiting with Hal and Diane and watching the race for the next two days.  On Monday, September 13 we will return to Portland.  We fly to Reagan Airport on Tuesday, September 14.

Because we were able to use the funds for this trip, we now are going to postpone our plans to visit the Florida keys this year; we’ll do it some other time.  We’re also likely going to postpone our plans to take the Globus tour from Lisbon to Barcelona originally scheduled for July 17 – 28 until 2022.  We’ve got until June 1 to make that decision.  Right now it seems very unlikely that Globus will even be doing this trip.  Indeed, if they postpone it we’ll not lose any of our deposit and will simply transfer this to a 2022 trip.  We’ll be making this decision at the end of May.

Besides all of this thinking and planning about us today, our hearts have been out to our children today.  Jim told us he has been feeling OK but knowing what a bad day he had yesterday we still worry for him and hopes he gets rid of the kidney stone soon.  Ann and her family have been somewhat devastated today, too, as they found out that the house they had wanted and placed an offer on not far from our house was sold to another buyer who made a cash offer for $12,000 more than the asking price.  Ann and Josh were willing to offer more than the asking price, too, but I guess that the house was being sold by a trust company since the owners had both passed away and they had no children.  I know there will be other houses for them to consider but this one was particularly appealing to Ann.  She had her eyes on it long before it hit the market last week.

Today’s real estate market is such a seller’s market.  Houses sell for more than their asking price which is already ridiculously high, in my opinion.  They stay on the market for just a couple of days.  Ann and Josh have spent a year now looking and haven’t been successful yet.  I hope things work out for them in the near future.

I didn’t get any exercise in today.  I did take Betsy and Freddie bike riding at Clymore Elementary and Stewart Middle School this afternoon when their bus got here but I didn’t take my bike because it was on the trainer.  Lynn had a couple of interpreting sessions via Zoom today to occupy her time.  I also spent two hours at Central doing Treasurer’s work.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 30             Infected                   Died

World             128,777,244           2,814,831

US                     31,096,479              564,133

Virginia                617,941                10,242

Augusta County       5,391                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,700,610  (1,320,424 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        37,474  (16,478 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

Not only were there two more deaths in Augusta County in the past 24 hours but the number of hospitalizations increased to 152 which is an all-time record.  COVID-19 isn’t going away in this section of the world.

March 31, 2021

Today had several significant events occur for us.  Perhaps the biggest was that Lynn’s new car came in and we picked it up this afternoon.  The Venza is an impressive vehicle.  It has a 12.4 inch screen for navigation and other features.  I actually drove it home from the dealer because she had to run to a Physical Therapy session.  I pushed the “Talk” button and said “Navigate to 296 Leaport Road, Mount Sidney Virginia” and it immediately not only routed me home but talked me through each turn on the way.  It was easy to figure out how to use the cruise control, mirror adjustments, seat adjustments, etc.  The car was expensive but hopefully will last her for a long time. 

The other significant event was getting our Oregon plans cemented.  Our AAA travel agent was johnny-on-the-spot this morning and soon we had our airplane tickets booked, seats selected, hotels booked in Portland for both the first three night when we arrive on September 1 but also the night before we leave on September 13, and our car rental.  We’ll manage the reservations for the other nights along with the Koerners.  In fact, I’ve got most of them done already including two nights at a cabin at Crater Lake.  Best of all, we had over $500 leftover for other travels.

That being the case, I started looking in earnest at our trip to Kennebunkport for Vic and Amy’s wedding the first week of July.  I decided that we should try to make it a nice trip for the Gutshall children (and for the other grandchildren if they come) by planning for the first night at Eden Resort in Lancaster where we’ve always stayed and the kids love and the second night at a hotel in Springfield, Massachusetts near the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.  The AAA agent gave me several hotel choices there that we can use with our leftover credits.  The third day of the trip we’d first visit in the Hall of Fame then drive on to Kennebunkport.

I spent almost the entire morning corresponding with Mana Welsh, the travel agent, plus looking at our options for the New England trip.  It’s nice to know our Oregon trip is set up just the way we wanted it and we’ve got ideas for the Maine trip.  Before we can confirm the Maine trip plans we need to know if Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia will be joining us as well as Jim.  I know Jim’s boys won’t be.

While Lynn was getting her Physical Therapy this afternoon I made a pizza run to Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird.  Their Soprano pizza is so good!

I made a change tonight in our plans for the get-away we scheduled for next Thursday – Saturday.  Butch said he could be in Altoona on Friday night but I had us there on Thursday.  So I simply reversed the direction that Lynn and I will go on our three day loop and now we’ll be in Altoona on Friday night when Butch is there.

Tonight Pfizer said its vaccine is 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 12 – 16.  That’s good news.

Despite this and other good news regarding vaccines, coronavirus cases are on the rise in half of the states in America.  Apparently there’s way too much lack of social distancing and mask wearing among those who aren’t vaccinated. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 31             Infected                   Died

World             129,422,841           2,826,554

US                     31,158,560              565,066

Virginia                618,976                10,252

Augusta County       5,398                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,773,586  (1,346,564 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        38,266  (16,957 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

I’m pleased to find out that Augusta County is even ahead of Rockingham County in the number of vaccinations given.  But the number of hospitalized remains at 152.