Monthly Archives: April 2021

May 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

May 1, 2021

Mary K. called us last night after we were already in bed watching a movie.  She mentioned the Bramwell Reunion which is scheduled on Saturday, June 26.  Then this morning Butch texted wondering if we were going to go or not and that he was considering trying to get Mary K. there.  So we called him and made some tentative plans, at least for Lynn and me.  We’re going to Abingdon on Thursday, the 24th.  We may decide to hike to the Channels, a very geologically interesting part of southwest Virginia though this would involve about 4 hours of hiking for us.  Regardless, we’re going to go to the Barter Theatre’s modified theatre presentation now at the Moonlight Drive-In Theatre where we’ll see a production of “Always, Patsy Cline” which we’ve seen a couple of times before.  Needless to say, it features music we like.

On Friday, the 25th, we’ll drive to Bramwell and perhaps eat at the new Mexican restaurant there.  That night we’ll attend the annual Bramwell Homecoming Weenie Roast and will stay at the Fairfield Inn in Princeton.  We were able to book that reservation using points.

On Saturday, the 26th, we’ll grab lunch at The Corner in Bramwell then go to the Hill Reunion.  After that, we’re going to drive on home because just two days later we embark on our long New England drive.

Today I also did more planning/organizing for the May bike trip to Missouri.  I’ve got a complete list of everything I plan to take.  The question is:  will it all fit in my bike bag?  I think it will, especially since the bag has extra pockets that open and drape around the wheels.  So today I emptied that bag of that bag of items I don’t plan to take and started putting items in it that I want with me.  I need to buy a few small items but otherwise I have all I need for the trip.

Lynn went to garage sales all morning long with her friend Cheryl Wright.  For her, that’s a fun morning.  I’m glad she has Cheryl to go with…. 

This afternoon we both went to Grottoes.  Lynn walked around the Grand Caverns trail which is a nice, level, shaded and safe trail one mile long.  She did three laps.  I took my bike and rode the same route I had done last week:  a loop around the Grand Caverns trail then ride to the Grottoes City park and a loop around that park then back to Grand Caverns.  It is a 7.2 mile route.  I met Lynn on her third and final lap at Grand Caverns then rode back toward the City Park.  I ended up riding about 12 miles.  Since the route was entirely level, I rode without a break, didn’t get out of breath, and my heartbeat stayed low.  What a difference over Tuesday’s ride! 

On our way home we stopped at Dollar General for me to buy the few items I needed for my bike bag.  We then came on home, ate dinner, then watched the Kentucky Derby on TV.

Lynn finished Jim’s jackets today.  We briefly thought about taking them to him tomorrow but when we called him, he said he would be too busy working all day tomorrow.  He worked a lot today, too, since the grass-cutting weather was good.

May 1                   Infected                   Died

World             152,782,495           3,205,670

US                     33,145,463              590,700

Virginia                660,553                10,777

Augusta County       5,727                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,289,988  (2,675,093 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        53,528  (25,573 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

May 2, 2021

Today was a pretty Sunday with warm temperatures, making it up the low 80’s.  With the forecast tomorrow of rain, it made sense to do some outside activities today.

First came church, of course.  Central has been averaging around 25 – 30 attending its Sunday morning worship services since these services resumed on April 4.  Nearly everyone who comes has been vaccinated.  The services are live-streamed and recorded on YouTube.  For the past two Sundays we’ve had a guest minister, Rev. Michael Quayle, whose sermons Lynn and I have liked very much.

About 55% of adults have been vaccinated, according to ABC news.  How do we get the other 45% plus children?  Science says that we need 75 – 80-% vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity.  July 1 has been listed as the date when things will be close to being normal again.  We’ll see…

After church we ran to Aldi’s for some groceries, then came home for lunch.  Lynn baked bread today and I baked a ham for our dinner with the Gutshalls.  But we found time to walk our two mile hike.  It was almost hot though a nice breeze kept it from being that uncomfortable.

Besides the walk, about all we got done the rest of the day was to fix dinner for the Gutshalls.  In addition to the bread and ham, Lynn fixed our favorite guacamole dip.  Plus she fixed corn.  Unfortunately, Josh got stuck working with his Dad on one of their hot water heaters and didn’t make it over at all.  We sent home plenty of ham for him and for the kids’ lunches next week.

Henry drove the RAV4 to his house tonight.  The vehicle will remain titled to us until Ann and Josh have it added to their insurance and the title straightened out with DMV.  I do think it will be a good, safe vehicle for any of them to drive.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 2                   Infected                   Died

World             153,478,505           3,216,128

US                     33,145,463              590,700

Virginia                661,314                10,791

Augusta County       5,726                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,354,388  (2,717,830 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        53,670  (25,646 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

The number of cases in Augusta County is actually one less than yesterday’s number; there must have been some issue with yesterday’s count.  The growth rate for these numbers has definitely decreased, thankfully.  I won’t be happy until the growth is zero.

May 3, 2021

This was a typical Monday with my first task being to go to Central for treasurer’s duties.  I had hoped to get all four bank accounts reconciled today but the statements weren’t ready for two of the four.  I did manage to get the two accounts taken care of, plus I paid some bills and did a few other minor jobs.  Savannah Garner is due to deliver her baby next week.  Perhaps when she comes back from maternity leave I’ll begin passing more of the treasurer’s duties on to her but for the current time there’s no need to do that.  Plus, I think I’ll only want her to handle some of the details such as bill paying, deposit making, and payroll.  I think I’ll still keep the rest of the duties for myself.  I’ve got the time and, now, the know-how.

After I mowed, I came home and realized that the morning’s light rain had ended and the weather was fairly nice.  The forecast said thunderstorms in the early afternoon so I jumped on my mower and got the entire grass mowed.  I wanted to do it today so I can then repeat the job next Sunday and not have to worry about it while I am riding bikes in Missouri the week of May 10 – 15.

Lynn went to Charlottesville with her friend Mary Gooden today.  She had a good time shopping and talking with our former next-door-neighbor.

When she got back, it still hadn’t rained and the hourly forecast said it would not rain for the next hour so we walked our usual two mile hike.  It felt good outside with warm temperatures and a warm wind.  We did manage to beat the rain, too.

After that, Lynn had a document to translate for Rockingham County Public Schools then we ate dinner.  Afterwards, we made a vintage Lynn trip.  We made six stops and had either free items or greatly discounted items at each stop.  First we went to Krispie Kreme in Harrisonburg where our vaccination cards got us two free donuts which we saved for tomorrow’s breakfast.  Then we went to the Hallmark store at the mall where each of us had digital coupons for free cards.  We were able to pick up three cards there at no cost.  Then we went to Kohl’s where Lynn had a $5 coupon.  But she found a $90 dress on sale there and ended up only paying $21 for it.  It is very flowery and looks great on her.  Perhaps she’ll wear it at Vic and Amy’s wedding.  From Kohl’s we went to McDonalds where a Facebook post told her they were giving away free pastries to teachers today.  She got a cinnamon roll.  Then we went to Smiley’s where she again was able to use her teacher ID to get a free cone.  Actually she got a milkshake but they took off the cost of the cone.  We went to a second McDonald’s and got another cinnamon roll for tomorrow’s breakfast so now we’re all set for tomorrow with free items.

Finally, on the way home, we picked up Gus because he wanted me to help him with some Algebra.  We came here and got it all done in less than an hour so I took him back home.  It was a very good day for me, productive, hassle-free, and enjoyable.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 3                   Infected                   Died

World             154,173,758           3,226,727

US                     33,230,136              591,512

Virginia                661,925                10,807

Augusta County       5,726                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,371,414  (2,727,811 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        53,687  (25,649 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

I’ve been waiting a long time to report this—Augusta County had 0 new cases and 0 new deaths in the past 24 hours.  Hallelujah!  CNN reported tonight that by next week, 12 to 15 year olds would be authorized to receive the Pfizer vaccine.  Grandson Gus falls into that category.  Here is more good news from CNN news:

At their respective peaks in January, average daily Covid-19 cases and deaths in the United States were five times higher than they are now, data from Johns Hopkins University shows.  Over the past seven days, an average of 669 Covid-19 deaths has been reported each day, according to JHU data. On Jan. 14, the seven-day average was 3,431 deaths per day, more than any other date.  Average daily deaths topped 3,000 deaths per day for about a month, from Jan. 8 through Feb. 6, JHU data shows.  The seven-day average of daily deaths has now been below 1,000 deaths per day for more than three weeks, since April 8. Average daily deaths were last lower than the current rate in early July.  New Covid-19 cases are also about one-fifth of what they were at their peak in January. On Jan. 8, the average was 251,057 new cases over seven days, a higher seven-day average than any other date during the pandemic. But over the past seven days, an average of 49,209 new Covid-19 cases have been reported each day, according to JHU data.

Unfortunately, the good news is not world-wide: 

CNN reported that, globally, the pandemic is far from over. More cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the last two weeks than during the first six months of the pandemic, the director-general of the World Health Organization said Monday. India is now the epicenter with more than 400,000 cases happening daily there.

May 4, 2021

Today was a hot day with temperatures making it into the low 80’s.  Fortunately, my tennis playing was done early in the morning—we started at 8:30.  The foursome was Rob Cale, Marc Kinder, Won Un, and me.  We rotated partners, as always.  My record was 2 – 1.  We finished a little after 10:00.

I then went to Central and got more beginning-of-the-month tasks taken care of.  I reconciled the two major checking accounts and put together the two financial reports for April.  I reconciled one of the credit cards and got it paid.  It was a successful morning for me.

Coming back home, I ate lunch while Lynn visited with her two Cheryl friends.  They sat on the Pergola and chatted for quite a while.

Freddie’s bus came at its usual time, 3:16.  Sometimes Betsy gets off the bus with him but today she had to go on home to get ready for her dance practice.  Her dance recital is this coming Saturday afternoon.  I look forward to seeing it.

Here we are nearly six months after the election, and a CNN poll this week said that 70% of Republicans think that Biden did not win the election fairly.  70%!  How stupid can you be?  Court case after court case proved that there was no election fraud.  Today Trump himself put out a statement which said “”The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!”  The BIG LIE is claiming that the election was not fair.  He lost.  He lost in a landslide.  He got his butt kicked.  And yet he and his lackies claim, with no evidence whatsoever, that the lie was that Biden won.  How divorced from reality can people be?

Freddie and I played Wii again today with the same results as always.  I seriously do not let him win.  To be honest, I can’t win.  He’s just too good.

After our dinner tonight, Lynn and I went to Costco because I had a large order for Central to get.  She had a few items she wanted.  After we had loaded my car with the goods, we drove across the street to a place we’d never been before, Insomnia Cookies.  Since this is teacher appreciation week, she had a coupon for buy one, get six free.  It was the first time we’d had cookies from this place, which I’m sure ties its success to JMU. 

After we got home, Lynn wanted to walk so we did our usual two mile hike.  After playing tennis this morning, I tired quickly on this walk though I made it.  I’m still far from being in good shape.  Yet this time next week we will have finished Day 1 of 4 days riding on the Katy Trail.

Here are today’s COVID-19 details:

May 4                   Infected                   Died

World             154,947,338           3,239,744

US                     33,271,708              592,354

Virginia                662,696                10,823

Augusta County       5,730                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,408,079  (2,749,788 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        53,915  (25,698 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

May 5, 2021

Today started with rain but it quickly exited.  In fact, Lynn was able to walk with her friend Ginny Bauman at 8:00.  While they walked, I went to Central for more beginning-of-the-month tasks.  By the time I left, near 11:00, I had nearly everything done that I needed to do before I leave for the week on the bike trip.

By the time I came home, Lynn was at Lacey Spring Elementary School doing an in-person interpreting session.  I had a few minutes to spare, so I hopped on my bike and rode the 4 mile Leaport Loop.  This hilly route taxes us when we walk, much less on a bicycle.  I ended up walking for about 50 yards on what Lynn and I call Metcalfe’s Hill.  But I rode the rest of the way.

This afternoon, I had Freddie as usual.  He ate a popsickle on the Pergola with me then beat me in three games of Wii baseball though two were close.  I tried! 

Today, in my spare time, I came up with an idea for our return trip from Vic and Amy’s wedding.  Seeing that this is the only time the Gutshall kids will have been to New England, I didn’t want us to just drive straight back the same way we went.  So I worked out a scheme whereby we drive from Kennebunkport to Albany on Saturday, July 3.  On Sunday the 4th we drive to Niagara Falls and stay there.  On Monday, July 5 we drive to Altoona.  Then on Tuesday, July 6 we drive home.  After I worked this out and even made some reservations (all of which can be canceled easily), I texted Ann and Josh to see if they were interested in these plans.  I haven’t had a chance to talk to them yet.

After dinner, Lynn and I went to Kroger because I had called in two prescriptions yesterday morning and was told they would be ready by 4:00 today.  We got there around 6:30.  There was a long line at the pharmacy.  No surprise to me, they were not ready.  The customers in front of me had been really rude to the pharmacy technician so when she told me mine weren’t ready yet because they had been slammed, I took the high road and told her no worries and that I was sorry she had to put up with the crap she got from the two people ahead of me in line.  Poor girl!

Though the RAV4 has been turned over to Ann’s family, late last week the notice popped up on its dashboard that it was time to get its oil changed.  So we made an appointment at Simmons and told Ann and Josh that we would pay for it.  Tonight we picked up the car from their house and took it to Simmons.  Tomorrow my task is to get it from Simmons to Henry’s official parking place at Fort Defiance High School, #165, so he can bring himself and Gus home from soccer practice.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 5                   Infected                   Died

World             155,813,271           3,254,877

US                     33,320,979              593,134

Virginia                663,538                10,844

Augusta County       5,743                       71

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,460,376  (2,783,936 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        54,271  (26,008 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

May 6, 2021

Lynn and I were exceptionally efficient this morning.  We left home around 8:30 and went to Dollar Tree to get a baby card for Savannah Garner, CUMC administrative assistant whose first baby is due next week.  Then we went to Target to get a gift card for her along with a few other small items.  The next stop was at Wells Fargo to get cash for my trip next week, cash for a present for one of Lynn’s former students, and the cashier’s check for the Hill family scholarship.  That all went quickly as did our next stop at Costco where we got sugar for the Food Pantry at Central plus some disinfectant wipes for CUMC.  Lynn got some grapefruit for her breakfast.  Then, on our way home we stopped at the post office in Mount Sidney where I mailed the letter along with cashier’s check for the scholarship.

This year Montcalm High School is having an awards assembly on May 20 but no outside presenters are being allowed.  That’s why I had to mail the check and letter.  We got everything done and were home by 10:00.  Whew!

We weren’t done, though.  We got a call from Simmons Auto Repair that the RAV4 was ready to be picked up so we got it and left it in Henry’s parking spot at Fort Defiance High School.  Getting home, we still had time to walk our regular two mile hike before lunch. 

After lunch, we both went to the funeral home for visitation at for Beverly Coltrane’s mother.  Bev was a high school classmate of Lynn’s and taught with her at Fort Defiance High.  We were only there for a short while.  Then I went to Central to do more treasurer’s work while Lynn went to Aldi’s to get some groceries then headed to our dentist’s office for her crown preparation work.

It was a good thing that we had two cars in Staunton because she was in the dental chair until around 3:30 and by that time I had come home and met Freddie’s bus.  He and I had a good time hanging out together until Ann picked him up around 4:30.

During our spare time this afternoon, we planted several new plants.  First, we planted about a dozen periwinkle plants that the Bauman’s had given us.  We put them in the shade under our backyard maple tree.  We also planted a variety of flowers that Lynn’s sister Jane had given her in our garden spot.  We’re not going to fight the deer with tomatoes this year.

This afternoon, we also postponed our scheduled Portugal – Northern Spain trip from July, 2021 to July, 2022.  Globus, the company we’re going to do this tour with, was willing to make this change for us including moving our deposit to the 2022 trip.  Portugal doesn’t even allow any United States visitors now and even though this may improve over the next few weeks, there’s no guarantee that this trip will even take place this year so we thought it would be much better to postpone it until next year.

We had some very disappointing news today.  We have a weekend trip in June around our 45th anniversary planned.  We were going to spend the first night in Lancaster PA and watch a Righteous Brothers concert at the American Music Theatre there.  The second night we planned to drive to Lewes, DE to enjoy a day at the Delaware beach.  Today we learned that the concert has been postponed until 2022.  So tonight we’re trying to decide what to do on Saturday, June 12 instead of driving to Lancaster.  Perhaps we’ll go to Lewes, DE for an extra night.  The hotel we’re staying at there is an expensive one but when I called today they said that they do have a room for us if we want to extend our stay there for an extra night.

Another thing we did today was to purchase a wedding gift for Amy and Vic DeLeo’s wedding this summer.  They had a registry so we picked up the flatware items they wanted and got them ordered.  Today was such a productive day!

Lynn’s mouth was sore from her dentist visit.  He’s going to replace an old crown which Lynn thinks Denny actually did years and years ago.  Today was the prep work where a temporary crown was installed.  Her mouth didn’t feel much like chewing on the brisket she had made for last night so we went to Smiley’s where she enjoyed a Chocolate Peanut Butter milkshake.  No surprise what I had—salted caramel chocolate chunk in a waffle cone.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 6                   Infected                   Died

World             156,654,032           3,268,534

US                     33,364,941              593,970

Virginia                664,394                10,861

Augusta County       5,748                       71

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,549,140  (2,840,365 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        55,007  (26,622 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

May 7, 2021

The weather today was wacky.  The temperatures started out in the 40’s with rain forecast.  Fortunately, my tennis buddies and I had settled on a 8:30 playing time and, although it was nippy, there was no wind nor sun so playing conditions were actually quite good.  Later in the day, the weather alternated between downpours and sunny skies.  The temperature never did make it to 70 but that was OK.

In addition to playing tennis this morning, I got my prescriptions from Kroger.  This wasn’t as simple as you’d think.  I called the refill in on Monday morning at 8:00 and was told they would be ready on Wednesday by 4:00.  I went there on Wednesday at 6:30 and not only were they not ready but I was told that they wouldn’t be ready until Thursday afternoon.  So I waited until this morning after tennis to pick them up.  The line inside Kroger was horrible—I was about the 8th person in line to start.  After 30 minutes of waiting I finally got my turn but was told they still weren’t ready.  Without being too ugly, I registered my complaint with the technician, giving him the history of this refill request.  He told me that he’d get them bumped to the front of the line.  Would you believe in about 3 minutes they were ready? 

I suspect Kroger Pharmacy is no different from many places nowadays.  There is a definite shortage of workers.  There are help wanted signs in many, many stores.  I guess some people can’t work due to the fact that their kids can’t attend school but a couple of days per week (though Augusta County is going four days weekly now).  I’ve heard that some choose to not work because the unemployment benefits are good.  The far right is certainly pushing that scenario though I don’t know how true it is.  I do know that America has added 1.5 million jobs since Biden took office but we are still about 4 million below the pre-pandemic number.

I did a trial run with my bike bag this afternoon, packing nearly everything in it that I plan to take with me for the four days we’ll be riding.  Everything fit nicely and I even rode around a little just to see how it felt.  Two other guys, Jim Printy and John Bauman, had offered me saddlebags to put my stuff in but I won’t be needing theirs.  The slide-on bag I have is very nice; I just had never used the pannier feature of the bag which allows you to put items in the bags which drape down on the sides of the slide-on rack.  So far the weather forecast for Missouri next week is good—no rain any of the days we ride with temperatures most days being cool.  The first three days we ride the temperature is only supposed to be in the low 60’s and the last day it may reach the mid to high 70’s.  I certainly hope this forecast holds true.  I certainly do not want to have to ride in the rain.  I’ll have enough trouble keeping up with the other four guys in good weather.

Lynn had an interpreting session this afternoon at Lacey Spring Elementary School.  I stayed home to make sure I would be here when Freddie’s bus arrives.  My job this afternoon was to go to Central after Freddie was picked up and gather a box of food for the Aquirre family. 

This is Friday so Lynn and I had our traditional hamburger meal from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.  In the evening, we both went to soccer games but at different locations.  A former student of hers had invited her to her Spotswood game and Gus had his first FDHS JV game.

Fort’s JV team struggled with Wilson Memorial and lost 4 – 1.  Gus played all of the first half and the first half of the second half.  When he went out they were only down 2 – 1.  Lynn’s experience at Spotswood was very different.  SHS beat Broadway 11 – 0 and even then the game was shortened with the slaughter rule.  Her former student Cecilia had one goal and one assist.

It was frigid watching soccer.  Fortunately I was prepared with multiple layers everywhere.  By the time the game was over the temperature was 46o.  I hate to be cold!

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 7                   Infected                   Died

World             157,525,451           3,283,197

US                     33,418,437              594,908

Virginia                665,332                10,874

Augusta County       5,756                       71

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,625,668  (2,892,227 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        55,454  (26,917 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

May 8, 2021

We had to get up early today because Lynn’s friend Cheryl came by at 6:45 AM so she and Lynn could go to garage sales.  Better Cheryl than me!

While they were having their fun, I did a trash run then went to Dollar General to get a last couple of items needed for my Missouri trip.  I think I’m all set now.  Fortunately the weather forecast still looks very favorable which makes preparing for the trip easier.  I also spent some time this morning cleaning out my car.

We both had to be back home early because Betsy’s Spring Dance Recital at the Wayne Theatre in Waynesboro started at 12:15.  No sooner were we on our way there than Ann called us in desperation.  It seems that Betsy had left one of her shirts at her house.  Grandmommy and Granddaddy to the rescue!  Henry and Gus were still at home so they found the shirt, we picked it up, and got to the Wayne with about 5 minutes to spare.  Whew!

The recital was done differently this year thanks to COVID.  In order to keep the audience size down, they split the program into three times.  Usually the program is an all-afternoon event with 50 or so different short dances.  But by splitting it, there were only 19 in Betsy’s program.  She danced in 7 of them.  For us, this was a fine solution since we didn’t spend all afternoon there.  For poor Betsy, she had to change outfits quickly since her numbers were, by necessity, close to each other.  But she did well—no surprise.  I took 89 pictures which I uploaded when I got home.  I have quite a collection of Betsy recital photos for 7 – 8 years now.

The weather today looked fine from the inside.  It was sunny but windy.  The wind seemed cold to me.  Though the temperature was around 60o, it was too cold for Lynn and me to find time to walk.  This ended up being one of the very few days in the past two months that we didn’t get any exercise.

This afternoon Lynn did find time to cut my hair.  She does a good job as a barber.  I am every bit as pleased with what she does as I have been with regular barbers.  It feels much better to have short hair.

We ate dinner early but we didn’t have a lot of leftovers to eat, so we made up for it by going to Smiley’s for dessert.  Lynn had a small chocolate and peanut butter milkshake.  I had—no surprise—a waffle cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.

Packing for the Missouri bike trip has almost been fun.  It has been interesting trying to decide what I can get by with for four days that will fit in a bike bag.  The weather forecast affects this decision greatly, of course, and I’m down now to trying to decide between jackets.  Only one will fit, and I can’t decide yet between a parka that is rain-resistant and a hooded sweatshirt which will be warmer.  The forecast is for no rain and colder so I’m leaning toward the sweatshirt.  One of the items I bought today was a $1 throw-away parka if I do go with the sweatshirt but an unexpected rain comes along.

We’ve had so many different species of birds at our feeders.  I bought her a backyard bird book from National Geographic.  Plus, Lynn downloaded an app to help her identify them.  She takes a picture of the bird and the app tells her which bird it is.  So far we’ve seen the following birds:  cardinal, blue jay, finch, goldfinch, warbler, red breasted woodpecker, red wing blackbird, wren, mockingbird, and hummingbird (at the hummingbird feeders).  I’m sure there have been others.

We got some bad news today.  Yesterday we went to the funeral home to pay our respects to Beverly Coltrane’s mother.  Today we learned that Bev’s husband Phil has a brain tumor.  We knew he had a tumor on his kidney that he was awaiting treatment for but now his condition seems much more grave.  Such bad news for that family…a double dose of bad fortune.

One of my former tennis buddies, Lloyd Meadows, is battling the same diagnosis.  Lloyd was a regular on the court.  He is a Blue Ridge Community College professor a few years younger than I am and an exceptionally nice man.  The guys I’ve been playing with this month said they’d seen him recently and that he was looking better but still having to deal with that unexpected major complication, the brain tumor.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  One thing the pandemic has taught me is that it is much easier to find good Hallmark cards online and order them early than it is to try to find cards in stores.  So I’m ready for tomorrow; I actually found three cards I really liked so I got them all.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 8                   Infected                   Died

World             158,295,493           3,295,856

US                     33,452,499              595,574

Virginia                661,111                10,885

Augusta County       5,774                       71

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,679,522  (2,929,835 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        55,939  (27,358 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

May 9, 2021

After this post, I will likely be taking at least a five day break from posting as I’m on the Missouri bike trip.  I’m not taking laptop nor iPad with me.  It is possible, but unlikely, that one or more of the places we stay will have an available desktop computer but I’m not counting on it. 

I confess that I am old and set in my ways.  I’m used to things being a certain way, like making Lynn’s tea in the morning, doing Sudoku and Whirly Word puzzles, getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and watch tv in the middle of the night with Lynn.  None of these things will happen on the bike trip and I’m unsettled about that.  I like consistency.  I like Lynn’s company.  I like regularity and when I don’t have it at least I like the changes with her.   I’ll miss all of that over the next six days.

Today is Mothers’ Day.  It is Lynn’s first Mothers’ Day without her mother.  It is my 41st.  My mother would have so much enjoyed her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Her love for them lives on vicariously in me.  Butch, Mary K., and I can honor her with our annual scholarship but the best way I can honor her is to continue to love and support my family the way she loved and supported me.  She exemplified unconditional love. 

Besides Mothers Day, today was a typical Sunday.  We went to church where there was a very good number of worshippers—more than 40—which is high for post-COVID.  Pastor Won asked for a show of hands for who had not been vaccinated and only one person’s hand went up, a girl younger than 16.

After Church, we went to the grocery store then came home.  I needed to cut grass today since I’ll be gone the next six days so I was able to get that all done.  When I finished, Lynn and I went for a walk.  Well, she walked and I rode my bike.  She did her usual two miles and I did about 5-6 miles basically tracing and retracing her route. 

By the time we finished, it was time to get pizza for tonight’s dinner.  Since it was Mothers’ Day, we had previously agreed to get pizza from Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird.  I got four large pizzas and we ate most of them.  Ann took the remainder home for her kids to eat this week. 

Ann and Josh had no power at their home this afternoon.  She had planned on making Lynn a chocolate coca-cola cake, one of Lynn’s favorites, but couldn’t with no electricity.  So she came to our house and made it while I went to get the pizzas.  We had a very nice dinner and dessert.

After dinner, I helped Gus and Henry with some of their math homework.  Interestingly, both were doing similar kinds of problems though Gus is in Algebra I and Henry is in Pre-Calculus.  Gus was solving two equations with two unknowns using the traditional methods.  Henry was solving three equations with three unknowns using determinants.  I was surprised that I was able to recall how to solve them with Cramer’s Rule.  Henry caught on quickly.

Then it was time for Zoom.  We had two Zoom sessions going in this house; one on my laptop and one on an iPad.  Kay’s family joined and later on Jim joined in.  We ended up creating a second zoom session because our 40 minutes went by quickly.  We got to see everyone except Coen.

John Bauman is picking me up at 7:10 tomorrow morning.  I am 99% packed so I should be ready.   I doubt that I’ll have time to do a short post tomorrow morning but will do what I can throughout our trip.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 9                   Infected                   Died

World             158,954,447           3,306,240

US                     33,476,803              595,812

Virginia                666,650                10,895

Augusta County       5,776                       71

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,722,434  (2,955,864 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        56,028  (27,421 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

May 10, 2021

Greetings from St. Charles, MO! After a 13 hour drive we arrived in Missouri. I rode with Bill Bushman; Jim Printy, Jeff DeLong, and John Bauman rode in Jim’s truck. We stopped several times for bathroom breaks, ate lunch at a Wendy’s between Charleston and Huntington WV, and ate dinner at a Moe’s restaurant in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

We were on I-64 nearly the whole way. There were many places where lanes were closed due to construction but never did we experience a traffic back-up. The weather was nice for driving; all in all it was a fine, but long, day of driving.

We got here right before 8:00 Central time. We had departed Staunton at 8:00 AM. When we were twenty minutes out, I called cousin Nick to see if he could meet us at the hotel since he lives only 15 minutes from it. He got there just after we did and I had a good but short visit with him in the hotel lobby.

Tomorrow the shuttle driver will pick us up at the hotel at 8:00 AM. He will drive us to Columbia MO, a little over 100 miles away. Columbia is the home of the University of Missouri where Bill went. Our plan is for him to show us a little around campus then head on the ten mile trail which connects Columbia to the Katy Trail. Interestingly, where we join the Katy Trail is very, very near where Lynn and I rode on the Katy when we were here several years ago.

We’ll then ride 20+ miles on the Katy Trail to Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri, where we have hotel reservations. The weather forecast is good all week so we hope this will be a good ride.

I brought my iPad for use in the car but won’t be taking it along with me on the trail. We’re leaving some items in our cars here at the hotel. The hotel is letting us leave our vehicles here because we’ll stay here on Friday night when we return. The Katy Trail runs very near to the hotel.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to continue this blog from day to day. I was able to snag a computer at the hotel to write this.

May 11, 2021

Things took a dramatic turn this evening. We had just finished 40 rather grueling miles of bike riding and had ridden from the Courtyard Marriott in Jefferson City to a local Irish bar that three of the group had eaten at on one of their previous trips here. We had a good dinner and were just finishing up. Bill Bushman was sitting in a chair and I was on the bench opposite him. He asked me if we could trade seats because he felt like he needed to stretch out. I said sure, and when we did, his head went back against the wall and his body became stiff. He made a few growling-like sounds and tumbled to the floor. The restaurant folks immediately called 911. At first we thought perhaps he was choking and when we turned him over he threw up some. He was completely passed out for 30 seconds or more. Soon the rescue folks arrived.

It turns out that this is the third time Bill has experienced this. The seizure that he experienced was apparently electrolyte-induced. The two previous times he had this issue he was diagnosed as being dehydrated but we were puzzled because he carried three water bottles on our bike ride and frequently drank. In the restaurant he had just drunk a 16 ounce beer. But we had gone all day without eating–every lunch stop on the Katy Trail was closed–so none of us had anything in our bodies except water.

The rescue squad did some quick tests on him at the restaurant and in the ambulance. He was able to walk to the ambulance. From there, they told us that they were going to take him to St. Mary’s hospital.

Although we didn’t have any transportation except for our bikes, we were blessed that Bill has a first cousin here in Jefferson City whom he had planned on meeting anyway. So we immediately notified his cousin who went to the hospital and stayed with him until late in the night.

It was immediately obvious to the rest of us that our sojourn was over. His health is far more important than our desire to ride bikes. We called his wife, Martha, and our spouses. We called the places we were scheduled to stay at for the next two nights and canceled those reservations. And I texted cousin Nick about the situation.

Nick very kindly offered to help us out. We worked up a plan whereby tomorrow he will drive to Jefferson City and pick up Jim Printy and me. We will ride back to St. Charles where our vehicles are and pick them up. Though Bill drove his Volvo, he had given me a set of car keys which proved to be very helpful. Once we have our vehicles, we’ll return to Jefferson City, pick up everyone and the bikes, and head back home.

It is strange that I just wrote so much about how our trip is ending prematurely and nothing about today’s ride. Bill had told us earlier that today’s ride would be just over 30 miles; it turned out to be 40 . And, as I said, it was all done without lunch. I had been particularly left out of eating because the breakfast bags we were given at the St. Charles hotel consisted of two banana nut muffins and a granola bar with almonds in it. I was allergic to both. It did have one of the tiny oranges in it which was all I had to eat until dinner time except for one snack Jim kindly gave me mid-day that he had packed.

I’ll be honest–I struggled with the bike ride. We were shuttled from St. Charles to Columbia MO, about an hour and 45 minute ride. We were dropped off at a bike shop in Columbia, very near to the campus of the University of Missouri–a bike shop where Bill had worked when he attended college there. He then took us on a short bike ride through the campus.

At the edge of the campus was the MKT trail, a bike trail that linked the campus to the Katy Trail. It was 8.8 miles long. It was a great trail–smooth, level, with numerous restroom facilities along the way. And, at this point, I did fine with my riding. I was able to keep up with the other four and we reached the Katy Trail near noon.

The Katy Trail was also in excellent condition. The weather was cool to where I had on three layers above my waist and two below but they did the job. Fortunately, I had thrown in a set of gloves which also helped with the inevitable vibration from the handlebars. We rode about six miles on the Katy to a place, Coopers Landing, where we had previously agreed to eat lunch. No deal–it was closed. By this time, not only was I hungry, I was also quite tired. So for the remaining 24 miles of the day I struggled to keep up with the other four serious bikers. My legs cramped and ached. The hotel here in Jefferson City sure looked good when we rode up. Little did I know what the rest of the night had in store for us.

May 12, 2021

Actually I wrote the above during the morning today. Our plans have only changed slightly. Jeff DeLong and John Bauman have now left on their bikes continuing their ride toward Hermann, MO. It is 42 miles from Jefferson City to Hermann. Jim and I stayed behind waiting on Nick to come–he had a Doctor’s appointment first thing in the morning before driving here, about a 90 minute drive for him.

No surprise, the doctors had told Bill that he should not be on a bike any more on this trip so our initial plans were cemented. The hotel was nice in accommodating our bikes in a back room and allowing us to have a late checkout until Nick arrived.

I am reminded how important family is. Bill’s cousin certainly stepped up to help care for him when this happened and Nick went way out of his way to help us. I recall the phrase that you can lose many things but you’ll always keep your family.

Nick arrived around 12:30. Jim and I loaded up our bags in his truck and we took off for St. Charles. The trip took around two hours including a stop for lunch at Dairy Queen. I had a very nice visit with Nick–one good thing to come out of our change of plans. He was so accommodating to drive all the way to get us in Jefferson City.

He dropped us off at our vehicles. We called Jeff and John who were riding on the Katy Trail and we determined that they would be at McKittrick, the original stopping point of the day, around the time we could get there. This meant that we’d pick them up first, then drive to Jefferson City to get Bill.

I drove Bill’s Volvo. It rode very smoothly. I let Jim take the lead so all I had to do was follow his truck. It worked well and the route Google Maps took us included some back roads in Missouri, more interesting than I-64 and I-70. Jeff and John had arrived about 30 minutes before we got to them but that was OK. We drove another back road from McKittrick to Jefferson City. This put is back at the hotel around 6:00 pm and Bill was there waiting on us.

He looked good–much better, of course, than when I had seen him the night before. We loaded up all our bikes which the hotel had kindly stored for us all day and soon the five of us and our five bikes were heading back east toward St. Louis.

On the way we stopped at a Subway to grab dinner which we ate in the vehicles as we continued east. It took us until almost 10:00, Central Time, to reach Mt. Vernon where we had made reservations at a Fairfield Inn.

I had driven all day until we stopped for Subway. Bill asked to drive then and I couldn’t say no since it was his car though I had some worries about his health. He seemed fine and it all worked out well for him to drive to Mt. Vernon. We did miss one turn from I-70 to I-64 but that was because we were talking, not because his lack of mental acuity.

It was a long day but we were happy to get 90 minutes east of St. Louis to begin tomorrow’s trip home. We’ve probably got 10 hours of driving ahead of us then. I’m guessing we’ll get an early start.

Of course, I communicated with Lynn throughout the day. She kept me apprised of the gas shortage situation in Virginia. Here in the midwest we haven’t seen any sign of a shortage. Hopefully all of this will be behind us soon.

Tomorrow night I hope to be writing this blog on my own computer instead of another hotel desktop. I hope I’m not too tired from a long day of driving/riding to do so.

May 13, 2021

I’m starting this text from Mount Vernon, IL and hope to finish it in Mount Sidney, VA. This Fairfield Inn was completely full last night–apparently the pandemic and gas shortages haven’t affected travel around here. They didn’t have a roll-away bed or room with a pull-out couch so two of the guys had to share a bed last night. Not me. Bill and I had the other two-queen room.

Lynn asked me yesterday if anyone was upset over not being able to complete the ride. I told her that I could confidently say no. I think I have learned that trips like this are not for me. I enjoy riding my bike on trails but I do not enjoy the pain of long distance or hilly riding and the humbling feeling of being the last who is always struggling to keep up. So I think I’ll pass the next time this group asks me to join them on a bike sojourn.

OK, this comes to you from my kitchen table after 13 hours of riding. I didn’t drive; Bill did. I felt better about riding with him today than yesterday since we were one more day out from his seizure. But he did fine and we got home around 8:15 this evening.

We got home in time to go to Smiley’s for dinner. I had eaten a huge burrito in Kentucky for lunch and didn’t really need anything else until we got home. Smiley’s was a nice treat, especially with my company.

I hope to get back to my regular texting routine tomorrow.  For this evening I am very tired and ready for my own bed.

May 14, 2021

I am such a home-body.  And I am so much used to life with Lynn.  Her company is so superior to any other that I experience.  I slept well last night and enjoyed a very leisurely and delicious breakfast with her today.  I don’t plan to spend any more breakfasts without her for a long, long, long time. 

The gas shortage continues in Virginia though fuel trucks are finally rolling again.  Supposedly it will take 7 – 14 days for things to return to normal.  As we were coming back from Smiley’s last night we noticed a tanker at the Royal station in Mount Sidney.  So this morning I took Lynn’s car there first thing and filled it up.  Later in the morning I took my car and the 5 gallon gas container for the mower and filled them both up.  I filled the mower can up with non-ethanol gas because Jim was unable to get it in Roanoke and I know he has yards to mow this weekend.  If he needs this gas I’ll figure out a way to get it to him.  Otherwise I’ll just use it in my mower.

I was able to get caught up with my unpacking, bill paying, etc. rather quickly this morning.  Lynn has Physical Therapy first thing then she and Cheryl Kent had planned an activity in Gypsy Hill Park so we drove together to Staunton so she and Cheryl could do their thing while I went to Central to catch up on my treasurer’s work there.

It took me a while to do the treasurer’s chores but I was successful with them.  By that time, Lynn and Cheryl had walked to Central and they loaded up two boxes of food, one for the Aquirre family and one for Juan Pablo.  We then took the box of food to Elizabeth and made arrangements to take Juan Pablo’s tomorrow.

We then had time to walk our usual two mile hike.  Lynn had walked earlier today and ended the day with more than six miles under her belt.  Good for her!  Her physical therapist told her she should try to do at least four miles each day to strengthen her back muscles.

Tonight we drove to Valley Pike to get our weekly hamburgers from the Old School food truck.  It was not there!  Lynn called their number and was told they were at a private event tonight.  So I returned her to the house and she ordered Chicago Boy food for our dinner.  I picked it up.

In the news today was the big announcement that the federal government had removed the mask requirement for anyone vaccinated whether indoors or outside.  States, cities, or even establishments don’t have to follow suit but I suspect they will.  It will be good to see peoples’ faces again!  “In the last two weeks, the cases in this country have dropped by a third. In the last two weeks, we have had increasing available vaccine, and we now have available and eligible people between the ages of 12 and 15,” CDC Rochelle Walensky said.

I haven’t posted the COVID-19 statistics for several days since I was in Missouri but the interesting thing in posting them tonight is that they have not increased markedly since I last recorded them.  That’s a very good thing!  Perhaps the pandemic is finally going away.

May 14                 Infected                   Died

World             162,500,854           3,370,362

US                     33,657,689              599,265

Virginia                669,219                10,991

Augusta County       5,814                       71

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,984,320  (3,142,216 residents are fully vaccinated including Lynn, Joe, Ann, Josh, Henry, Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)           

            Augusta County        Data not available due to server maintenance.

Our big vaccine news is that Gus got his first Pfizer vaccine this evening.  So thus far, both grandparents, all six children and in-laws, and two of our eight grandchildren have been vaccinated.  Six more to go!

Here’s a vaccination story.  As I wrote weeks ago, Lynn strongly encouraged Juan Pablo and his father into getting vaccinated, made reservations for them, and they followed through with both shots.  On Monday, Juan Pablo called her and asked if she could make arrangements for his uncle to be vaccinated, too.  She inquired about his status and he said that his uncle had a headache, cough, and ached all over.  She told him to take his uncle to the doctor ASAP, that he needed a COVID test, not a vaccine.  Sure enough, the uncle has COVID-19 and is now in the hospital.  As much as Juan Pablo and his father have been around the uncle, it is almost certain that they would have contacted it as well had they not been vaccinated.  Lynn is a hero, in my mind.  I hope and pray the uncle recovers.

May 15, 2021

Today was a busy Saturday.  Lynn and I made a trip to Waynesboro that included a total of seven stops.  Two of them were unplanned; while driving to Waynesboro my tire pressure indicator light came on.  I looked at the tires and none seemed low but we stopped anyway at a tire place where an employee checked them all and found one to be somewhat low.  After he filled it up, the tires seemed fine.  But later on, the indicator came back on.  We stopped at a different tire store this time and once again the pressure in all four was checked.  But this time it was a different tire that appeared to be a little lower than the others.  Very strange!  I’ll have to keep my eye on this for the next few days.

Our main stop was at Juan Pablo’s to take a box of food from Central.  After leaving it with him we went to two stores in Waynesboro then drove to Bill Bushman’s house to leave with him a check for my share of the expenses on our bike trip.  Then we made a stop at Kroger for groceries. 

One reason we had to get so many groceries is that Lynn had agreed to fix dinner for the Gutshalls tonight since we’ll be in Arlington tomorrow.  She fixed a gourmet dinner including pulled pork that was cooked all day in the crock pot, homemade rolls for the pork, cole slaw, a brussel sprout casserole, stuffed mushrooms, and skewers of marinated mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil.  Plus I made baked potatoes.  It was quite a feast though the Gutshalls, in general, didn’t eat as much as usual.

We got to watch Georgia’s spring dance recital this afternoon via a virtual link.  The show was timed so that we knew her group’s performance would be at 2:34 pm.  Sure enough, we were able to see her dance.  We’d planned on going to Arlington tomorrow to see soccer games involving her at noon and Thomas at 4:00 pm.  But this afternoon we learned that Thomas hand fractured a finger playing this morning and may not be able to play tomorrow.  We’re still going to go to Arlington since we’ve seen very little of that family lately.

This morning Lynn went to yard sales with her friend Cheryl Wright.  I stayed here, started the pork cooking, and did a few chores around the house and my weekly run to the dump.

After dinner I helped Gus a little with some Algebra I homework he had.  He’s already had his SOL test in the class and scored very well, 525, which is a Pass Advanced score.  He catches on quickly when I work with him, as does Henry.

Here are some of today’s COVID-19 statistics for the world and US.  The Virginia Department of Health’s website continues to be in maintenance so those figures are not available.

May 15                 Infected                   Died

World             163,161,480           3,382,985

US                     33,695,503              599,844

Virginia                             Data not available

Augusta County                Data not available

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                                  Data not available       

            Augusta County                    Data not available

ABC news reports that the number of COVID-19 cases over the past seven days is down 22%.  That’s great news.  The number of deaths over the same period is down 9%.  Likewise, the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus is down 14% over the past 7 days.

May 16, 2021

Today was Sunday.  I had planned to play the piano for Sunday School then head to Arlington to watch Georgia’s soccer game.  It turns out that not enough people joined Sunday School so it was canceled.  Thus, Lynn and I headed out early for the Foy’s house.

This was the first trip in Lynn’s Venza.  It did very well.  I hope we have it for many, many years.

We got there before noon and ate our yogurt lunch on their back porch.  Georgia’s soccer game was at 1:30 so we had a little time to chat before heading to it.  The soccer game was a hoot to watch.  Georgia’s team, the Sparks, hadn’t won a game all season.  They seemed a head shorter than some of the girls on the other team.  But they battled to a 0 – 0 tie at intermission, thanks to many saves by their goalkeeper.  In the second half, the other team quickly took a 1 – 0 lead but then one of Georgia’s teammates scored to make it 1 – 1.  A second goal by the opponents made the score 2 – 1.  Then it was Georgia’s turn to shine.  She did some fancy footwork to protect the ball from several defenders then rifled a kick with her left foot past the goalie to tie the score.  That’s the way the game ended so at least they didn’t lose.  At the very end of the game, Georgia had another breakaway and, according to her very biased grandfather, would have scored again but the referee called the game when he heard lightening.  It was lots of fun to watch.

After the game we went to get ice cream.  Thomas had to attend his own game next though he wasn’t allowed to play because of his broken finger.  So, Kay, Georgia, Lynn, and I went back to their house before we came on home.

Coming home, we stopped at an old favorite of ours, Sal’s Bistro in Edinbug, for lasagna.  We had a huge salad and rolls so we each brought home at least half of our lasagna for another meal.  It was delicious, as always.

Interstate 81 was fine in our direction but the northbound lanes had several stoppages.  I feel sorry for anyone traveling in that direction this evening.  We got home before 8:00.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 16                 Infected                   Died

World             163,698,954           3,392,776

US                     33,713,089              600,139

Virginia                670,184                11,018

Augusta County       5,820                       71

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,073,537  (3,203,273 residents are fully vaccinated including me, Lynn, Josh, Ann, Henry, Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan)           

            Augusta County        Data not available

I’ve done more thinking about the bike trip I took last week.  I honestly think I made a mistake in going now.  Before the trip, I spent way too many hours worrying about many things that could go wrong, most of which didn’t materialize.  But it still left me with way too much anxiety.  I should have spent those hours training because I clearly was not in as good of riding shape as the other four riders were.  The trip cost a lot more than the minor gains I got from it though I did appreciate visiting with and accepting help from cousin Nick.  It turned out fine for Bill Bushman who had the medical emergency, but the cost per bike mile for each of us was way too high.  There are rail trails much closer than Missouri that I could ride on though I’m beginning to think my long riding days are over, especially since Lynn is not inclined to ride anymore.  I did enjoy the comradery with the other men but that can be accomplished without spending 30 hours in a vehicle over four days.

May 17, 2021

This Monday I did my usual Treasurer’s duties at Central:  counted the offering, took it to the bank, and entered it into QuickBooks.  Plus, with Savannah out on maternity leave, I used her computer and did the Servant Keeper work which involves recording the individual giving of CUMC’s members.  It all went smoothly.

I also went to Lowe’s because Jim asked me to pick up some circuit breakers for him.  The Lowe’s store in Roanoke was out of them.  Then I came home, at lunch with Lynn, and walked two miles with her.  She had earlier walked nearly three by herself so she really got in the steps today.  I’m still in amazement that no matter how much she walks her legs don’t hurt.  Mine felt the two miles I did with her.

Lynn and I also looked for somewhere to go over Memorial Day weekend.  She came up with the idea of going to Hendersonville, NC, which is near Asheville.  There’s a craft fair there I’m sure she will enjoy.  It is a long drive but if that’s what she wants, that’s what she gets.  The one issue we haven’t resolved yet is that many of the hotels around there are either full or have jacked their nightly rates up because of the holiday.

We left for Roanoke in the early afternoon.  Besides taking him the circuit breakers, we had all of the Cross Country jackets to deliver to him that Lynn had embroidered.  Plus we had Kay’s tennis racket which she wants him to string for her.   We made a couple of stops on the way and still got to Salem well ahead of the 5:45 time he said to meet him.  But we finally caught up with him and he ordered pizza and other things from the Domino’s very close to his house so we picked them up and took them.

We had a nice visit with Jim, Coen, and Faron.  We ate outside in his back yard.  Lynn had picked up a few small items for the boys and we had a good time playing with them.   Then we headed back, arriving home just after dark around 9:00.

It was a good trip.  Lynn drove her Venza the whole way.  It is a nice riding car.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 17                 Infected                   Died

World             164,262,507           3,403,994

US                     33,747,391              600,529

Virginia                670,456                11,029

Augusta County       5,825                       71

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,109,951  (3,229,382 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        57,634  (28,449 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

Over the last three days, we’ve enjoyed the company of our entire family: Ann and family on Saturday, Kay and family on Sunday, and now Jim and family tonight. We are so lucky!

May 18, 2021

I write this blog in MS Word then copy and paste each day’s writing into the online post.  The Word document is now over 603 single spaced pages.  Wow!  It’s amazing how I can write so much and probably say so little….

Today was a busy Tuesday.  Lynn and I went to Harrisonburg early today with stops at Ross Department Store, Aldi’s grocery store, then Costco.  We did get everything on our lists plus lots more.  Then we headed straight to Staunton to get food for our Hispanic families.  We put together one box for the Aquirre family and one for Juan Pablo.  We were back home around 11:00.

Lynn’s two Cheryl friends came over at noon to talk and swing in the Pergola.  I wanted to get the grass mowed as much as I could before they came and I actually got nearly all of it done in time. 

As soon as they left we drove to Elizabeth’s house and delivered her food basket.  We had to hustle home in time to meet Freddie’s school bus.  We had him until 5:00.  He and I played Wii and threw a ball in the yard.

After dinner, which consisted of leftovers from Saturday night’s meal with the Gutshalls, we walked our regular two mile hike then headed for Henry’s soccer game tonight at FDHS against Riverheads.  As the game began, he was starting but not on defense where he usually plays.  Instead, he was one of the lead offensive players.  And soon we saw why the coach decided to play him there.  In the first minute of play he got his first varsity goal as he blasted a kick in the corner of the net.  Just a few minutes later he picked up his second goal when he went one-on-one against the goalie and scored.  I’m convinced he would have gotten a hat trick but Fort was winning so easily that the coach pulled all of the starters in the first twenty minutes of play.  He didn’t return to the field until the second half when he was put on defense.  The game was actually shortened by 20 minutes due to the slaughter rule as Fort dominated, 12 – 0.  Curiously, Riverheads is the school which has won its division’s state championship in football the last five consecutive seasons.  They are clearly the most dominant school in the state in American football, but not this type of football.  Fort played well and destroyed them.

I spent a little time today looking for things for our family to do on our Maine trip, especially on the way back which takes us to Niagara Falls.  I’d like to stop in Syracuse to see the Carrier Dome and I’d like for the kids to see the Erie Canal.  Lynn and I have ridden our bikes along the Erie Canal bike path.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 18                 Infected                   Died

World             164,879,264           3,418,033

US                     33,774,153              601,311

Virginia                670,834                11,042

Augusta County       5,827                       71

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,158,336  (3,246,784 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        59,129  (29,076 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

The US has reached a “landmark day” in the Covid-19 pandemic as 60% of American adults have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

May 19. 2021

It is nice to have relationships with service providers you can trust.  I know, for example, that Tom and Bryan Simmons are honest, fair, competent car mechanics.  I trust their word on what my vehicles need when they tell me.  The same is true for our long-time plumber, Greg Lambert.  Lambert Plumbing installed our heat pump/air conditioning unit at least a decade ago and it has worked well.  He has done various plumbing jobs here over the years.  This morning he came for a scheduled visit to do three things:  1)  annual maintenance on our air conditioning unit  2)  check out our slow shower drain and replace the trap if needed and 3)  check out the upstairs commode which doesn’t flush well to see if we need to replace the entire commode or just its inner workings.  Greg did all three of these today in about an hour.  He didn’t have to replace the trap on the drain but he did work for a while removing the build-up which caused the slow drain.  He said he thought he could order parts for the upstairs commode so we wouldn’t have to replace the entire thing.  It was a good visit and well worth whatever he charges.

Lynn had some things on her calendar today.  She took the food box to Juan Pablo’s house in Waynesboro.  She had a luncheon with the retired FDHS teachers.  They used to meet every month but did not meet during the pandemic.  Today they had a picnic lunch in Mount Sidney.  Then she had an online Zoom interpreting session with a family and one of the schools.  Later in the day she had Physical Therapy for her back.

I did a bunch of minor chores around the house, none of which were that significant.  I confess that sometimes I struggle to stay busy in my retirement—a feeling I never had before I retired.

The weather took a turn for hot today and will apparently stay this way for a week or so.  We’ve been having pleasant days with temperatures in the low 70’s but today we hit the 80’s and it will be even hotter the next couple of days.  Thank goodness for a working air conditioning system.

There was some good news today on CNN about the coronavirus pandemic:  In the past week, the US has averaged around 31,200 new Covid-19 cases — the lowest average since last June and less than half what the average was just a month ago, according to Johns Hopkins University data.  And the country averaged 614 Covid-19 deaths daily over the last week — less than a third of the 1,988-per-day average seen three months ago, according to Johns Hopkins data.  COVID cases were down in all 50 states.  But the CDC reports that only 38% of the population has been fully vaccinated so far and this needs to increase in order for the good trend to continue.

We got bad news this afternoon about Gus.  He has been nursing a sore leg for some time and today he went to a doctor who diagnosed his issue as a torn part of his hip flexor muscle.  This means he can’t exercise for two weeks which will put an end to his JV soccer.  That’s sad, but at least he’s not on crutches or looking at surgery.  He’ll get some Physical Therapy and hopefully it will all heal over the next month.

After dinner tonight, Lynn and I went to see another high school soccer player perform—her former student Cecilia who plays for Spotswood High School.  Cecilia and her family have stayed close to Lynn through the years.  She will be graduating this year from Spotswood and will attend VCU in the fall.  We’ve also been invited to her graduation ceremonies on June 11.

The soccer game was Spotswood vs Harrisonburg.  Both teams were quite good and the game was tight.  Harrisonburg took a 1 – 0 lead in the first half then Ceci gave a good pass to a teammate who scored and tied it up before half.  After halftime, Ceci drove home a long shot from the center to make the score 2 – 1 and that’s the way it ended.  I’m glad we went.

I know I brag about all Lynn does a lot but tonight at the soccer game I had more evidence of her awesomeness.  A man who was there cheering for Spotswood came up to her after the game and told her that though Cub Run had dropped the Christmas coat project she headed up for many years, Ottobine Elementary School is now doing it.  He said “They’re continuing your program.”  Obviously, he saw Lynn as the originator of such a good Christian project.  His church is a big sponsor of the Ottobine program now.  I’m not the only one who sees her as being so superb!

Here are today’s improving coronavirus statistics:

May 19                 Infected                   Died

World             165,549,323           3,431,495

US                     33,802,324              601,949

Virginia                671,325                11,048

Augusta County       5,838                       71

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,615,246  (3,465,287 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        59,297  (29,156 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

May 20, 2021

Today was an easy Thursday where Lynn had a few things on her agenda but I had very few.  She walked first thing with Ginny Bauman.  Then she and her sister Kay went shopping at a few stores in Staunton.   While they did that, I cranked up my weed whacker and worked on the yard.  I wanted to get this done before it got hot because by mid-afternoon it was 85o.   I’ve still got a few minor outside chores to do sometime but the list is getting smaller and smaller now.

This afternoon, Lynn cooked two big meals:  one for us and the other for the Coltrane family.  Beverly Coltrane has been Lynn’s friend since childhood.  She also attends Central.  Unforrtunately, her husband Phil was just diagnosed with a brain tumor; this happened while the doctors were trying to figure out a plan to treat a tumor on his kidney.  So Lynn made dinner for the Coltranes and we took it to them on our way to Henry’s soccer game tonight at Stuarts Draft High School.  Both Phil and Beverly met us outside when we drove up and appeared to both be quite normal but when Beverly told us what all Phil had been through and was facing it was clear that this is a serious health matter.  Basically the doctors cannot operate on his brain tumor so they are trying to shrink it with radiation.  He seemed upbeat; I don’t know how he was able to do that.  I do know that Lynn was very big hearted to prepare a lavish meal for them.

The soccer game was somewhat of a bust.  It seems as though there are a couple of good teams in the district, Fort Defiance and Staunton.  In fact, Staunton beat FDHS 3 – 0 when I was on my bike hike.  But the other teams so far have been poor.  For the second game in a row, Fort beat an opponent so badly they applied the mercy rule and ended the game early.  Tonight the score at halftime was 8 – 1; the final was 9 – 1.  Henry scored Fort’s third goal about 8 minutes into the game.  Though his team only had 16 players, the coach promptly substituted for him and he sat on the bench most of the game while the substitutes played.  He got back in late in the game and almost scored again.  He isn’t the fastest guy on the field but he has excellent control of the ball.  He passes well and shoots well—just like in basketball!

After the soccer game Lynn and I went to Waynesboro because there was a Beatles tribute band called Abbey Road playing in the Waynesboro Municipal park with free attendance.  We missed 2/3 of the concert due to the soccer game but we did get there in time to hear a few old Beatles songs.  The band wasn’t great but the crowd was fairly large.

After the shortened band concert we went to Dairy Queen in Verona for a snack.  Our dinner had been rushed because we couldn’t leave to take dinner to the Coltranes until Betsy and Freddie were picked up after school.   So we quickly ate our dinner before we headed out.

The Gutshall kids only have three more days of school this year:  tomorrow, Monday, and Tuesday.  We learned tonight that we’re going to have company this weekend—Georgia and Thomas are going to spend Saturday and Sunday nights with us.  That will give Kay and Andy a bit of a break and we’ll enjoy the company of these two grandchildren.  I think we’ll meet Kay in Front Royal sometime this Saturday to pick them up.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 20                 Infected                   Died

World             165,835,297           3,444,303

US                     33,833,181              602,616

Virginia                671,916                11,068

Augusta County       5,843                       72

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,673,597  (3,499,980 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        59,607  (29,274 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

May 21, 2021

It felt good to get back on the tennis court this morning with Won Un, Marc Kinder, and Rob Cale.  I didn’t play very well but the weather and the company both were nice.  My right shoulder still hasn’t healed so serving is painful.  My other bodily ailments are generally healed now but not my shoulder.  Some people have rotator cuff issues but I’m not sure mine is that because I can lift my arm up high without much pain but serving a tennis ball hurts.

After tennis I went to Kroger to check on a prescription I called in to be refilled on Monday. You’d think that by Friday they would have it ready but no, not Kroger.  It was just a prescription for Symbicort, my inhaler, so it involved no measuring, counting, or packaging.  I told the pharmacy tech that I would just wait on it to be filled.  It took over 30 more minutes.

After I got home I felt a little guilty that I had done no work so I attached the cart to my lawn mower, picked up a bunch of sticks in the yard, raked a lot of dead grass and piled it in the cart, and took two cart-loads of this to the edge of our property.  I also brought the remains of a  small tree Jim and I had cut down last year and used my chainsaw to cut it into manageable sizes which fit in the truck for tomorrow’s trash run.  It was plenty hot by the time I finished.

Freddie and Betsy got here at their usual time, 3:15.  There are only two more days of school for Augusta County students, this coming Monday and Tuesday.  Not long after they got here Josh picked them up.

Lynn and I ate an early dinner then went into Staunton to walk a lap around Gypsy Hill Park.  It was a fairly hot night but the park has plenty of shade so it didn’t feel bad.

After watching four soccer games in the past five days, we elected to not go to Ceci’s game tonight.  Instead, after our walk in the park, we elected to come home and watch another week of the TV drama, Atlantic Crossing .  We’ve previously watched the first half dozen episodes of it.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 21                 Infected                   Died

World             166,436,464           3,456,590

US                     33,858,908              603,373

Virginia                672,312                11,074

Augusta County       5,849                       72

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,760,493  (3,545,104 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        59,896  (29,414 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

May 22, 2021

I had thought about painting the steps for the playground which Jim rebuilt earlier this year but it turns out that we don’t have any leftover redwood stain so that job got put on the back burner.  I did go to Central early in the morning to get a box of food for Juan Pablo.  While I was there, I paid a bunch of bills and set up the payroll for the last half of May.  Because the last day of May is a Monday and a holiday, I had to set up the payroll to pay the employees on May 28 instead of May 31.

Lynn went to some garage sales in McGaheysville this morning with Cheryl Wright and Cheryl Kent.  I love doing things with her but I’m glad she has others to go to garage sales with.  But she did have a great find at one of the places—she got a Sharon Kincheloe print of a Jack-in-the-Pulpit for only 25¢!  We have Sharon Kincheloe prints of wild flowers throughout our living room but not the Jack-in-the-Pulpit.  Sharon was a classmate of Lynn’s at Robert E. Lee High School. 

When I got home I finished writing the congregational prayer for tomorrow and did my weekly trash run.  Then Lynn and I took the box of food to Juan Pablo, ate lunch, and did minor things in the afternoon until it was time to head north.

We made arrangements to meet Kay, Thomas, and Georgia in Front Royal at 6:00 at a park for the kid hand-off.  We left a little early so Lynn could return some things to T J Maxx.  We got to the park a little before 6:00 and they arrived a little after.  They had brought some sandwiches from Sheetz and as soon as they ate them we were headed back here.  Georgia was a little wimpy about leaving her Mom but she talked to us the entire way back and I think she’ll be fine for the two nights they’ll be staying with us.

Well, we didn’t go straight home.  We came directly to Smiley’s where we all enjoyed an ice cream dessert.  Thomas had cookies and cream while the rest of us had salted caramel chocolate chunk.

We got home shortly after 9:00.  The kids headed for the showers then to bed.  They are both so talkative, so smart, and so observant.  I’m so glad they’re spending the extra time with us.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 22                 Infected                   Died

World             167,029,906           3,468,045

US                     33,880,968              603,868

Virginia                672,973                11,097

Augusta County       5,857                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,824,278  (3,582,450 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        60,114  (29,538 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

At more and more places, especially outdoors, people are abandoning their masks.  I assume this is because they are fully vaccinated.  Last night at the Waynesboro park we saw at least 100 people and I’m not sure I saw anyone wearing a mask.  Tonight at Smiley’s less than half of the people in line wore a mask.  This is quite a contrast from a month ago when everyone wore masks.  But I suppose if they have been fully vaccinated there’s no risk to themselves or others for going maskless.

May 23, 2021

What a busy day!  This was the only full day with Georgia and Thomas so we took good advantage of it.  They were up early as were Lynn and I.  After breakfast, I had Sunday School via Zoom then I had to go to church because I was scheduled to do the Congregational Prayer.  So Lynn took the kids on a hike hoping to see Winnie, our neighborhood pig, but she was nowhere in sight.

When I got back from church the real business started.  First we made arrangements for the four of us to join the Gutshall family (minus Henry who had something else to do) at the Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel.  It took us about an hour to get there because we had to stop to buy more flashlights.  And it was in the mid-80’s when we started walking toward the tunnel from the East Terminus.  Boy did the temperature cool as we approached the tunnel!  There was a sign outside which advertised the tunnel as “Virginia’s Coolest Hike” which was for good reason.

The nine of us had no troubles walking through the mile-long tunnel though we couldn’t have made it without our flashlights.  Lynn and I had been here before, on January 5.  The kids seemed to have a good time.

Coming back was my favorite time of the weekend, maybe of the entire month.  The kids switched cars around so Betsy and Georgia ended up riding with us and the boys were in Ann’s car.  For the entire way back, including a stop at Aldi’s for some quick groceries, Georgia and Betsy giggled in the back seat.  It was a WONDERFUL sound to hear them laughing.  I just can’t put into print how good that made me feel to hear the two of them giggling.

We got back home and Lynn fixed a huge dinner consisting of two types of pasta and three toppings (marinara without meat, marinara with meatballs, and Alfredo sauce), a nice salad, and homemade rolls.  Henry joined us for dinner. 

After dinner, the kids played in the backyard some but soon we had them loaded in the cars heading for the Bridgewater miniature golf course.  Ann, Lynn, and Josh didn’t play but the seven others of us did.  We all had a good time.  We then followed that up with a trip to Smiley’s for dessert.  Whew!  I know I was exhausted at the end of the day and I suspect the kids were, too.

Back home, Georgia and Thomas showered then got in bed nicely.  I did the dishes from our huge dinner for ten and worked on uploading the 100 pictures I had taken today to Flickr.  It was a mighty fine day.

I haven’t kept up with the news today but here are the coronavirus numbers:

May 23                 Infected                   Died

World             167,516,369           3,478,187

US                     33,896,660              604,087

Virginia                673,029                11,106

Augusta County       5,861                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,873,269  (3,610,884 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        60,202  (29,584 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

The number of infected persons and deaths continues to drop, thankfully.  I certainly do hope we’re about to put this pandemic behind us.

May 24, 2021

We’re back to a two-person household tonight after two enjoyable nights hosting Thomas and Georgia.  I confess to being a little worn out because those two are full of energy.  We spent another day with non-stop activities with them.

I had to go to Central this morning to count the weekly offering, pay a bill, enter the deposit on QuickBooks, run two reports for May, and enter the individual giving records in the program called Servant Keeper.  I didn’t get back home until 10:30.

By that time, Thomas and Georgia had logged onto their school assignments and completed them since today was a virtual school day for them.  So when I got home they were ready to go.   We piled in Lynn’s car and went to Overlook Produce in Bridgewater where all four of us picked strawberries.  Then we came back home and had lunch.  For our lunch dessert we enjoyed a most delicious serving of fresh strawberries with homemade whipped cream.  Yum!

After our treat, and before it rained, Thomas, Georgia, and I played tennis.  They had brought their rackets with them.  We came back in just before the rain started.  They played a little Wii before it was time to meet the school bus carrying Freddie and Betsy.  The four of them played until Ann came around 4:15.  Then it was time for Lynn and I to take Thomas and Georgia to Front Royal to meet Kay.  We picked up dinner for Thomas and Georgia at the Sheetz in Front Royal and met Kay at 6:00 at Rockland Park where we had met on Saturday.  Soon Lynn and I were on our way back home and they were headed to their home in Arlington.

On our way home, Lynn and I stopped at Cracker Barrel in Harrisonburg to eat.  We had our usual country ham with biscuits and apples (Lynn opted for hashbrowns instead).   Kay texted us that they had gotten home OK and we did the same when we got back here shortly after 9:00.

Those two kids are so bright!  I know that their vocabulary exceeds that of most adults.  They both are prolific readers.  I also notice how perceptive they are about things in the environment, commenting on the differences between where they live and here.  Both are in the gifted program at their schools, no surprise.

The tennis match between Patrick Henry and Harrisonburg was postponed today due to the rain and has been rescheduled for tomorrow.  We hope to go there to meet up with Jim and watch his team for a while tomorrow before returning here to watch Henry’s soccer match.  Fort Defiance has a tough soccer game scheduled against Wilson Memorial.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 24                 Infected                   Died

World             167,979,680           3,486,961

US                     33,922,937              604,416

Virginia                673,105                11,116

Augusta County       5,870                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,904,099  (3,627,128 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        60,248  (29,609 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

On the VDH website there is a statistic that says that so far 65.7% of the adults (age 18 and older) in Virginia have received at least their first COVID-19 vaccination.  That is great news!  But it needs to be 100%.

May 25, 2021

I had my most successful day at playing tennis in ages this morning.  We had our usual foursome; Won Un, Rob Cale, Marc Kinder, and me.  And, as usual, we played three sets, each with a different partner.  I ended up with a 3 – 0 record; everyone else was 1 – 2.  I never hit the ball as hard as the other guys but today I made fewer mistakes than usual.  I hope it continues but I’m afraid I know better.  And even if I don’t win, I still enjoy playing.  One set today went to 8 – 6 so it wasn’t easy. 

After tennis, I went to the YMCA and dropped my membership.  I’ve been a member there for several years but have only darkened the door once in the past 14 months.  I kept my membership mainly because of their one tennis court which we used to play on regularly.  But now the other guys have dropped their membership, too, and the Y frequently uses the tennis court for pickleball so obtaining a court wasn’t as easy as it had been in the past.  My tennis buddies and I plan to continue to play at Mary Baldwin for as long as we can. 

Meanwhile, Lynn had her two Cheryl friends over to visit.  Today was Augusta County Schools’ last day of school for the year and it had an early release so Freddie got here at 1:15. Lynn and I had gone for our two-mile walk right before that and just got back in time to meet his bus.

Freddie stayed here for about an hour then I took him home since his brothers and sisters were all there.  Lynn and I left for Harisonburg around 3:15 to watch Jim’s Patrick Henry High School tennis team play Harrisonburg.  We got there in plenty of time to chat with him but the match didn’t start while the weather was good.  By 4:30 it was thundering so the players weren’t allowed on the court though it hadn’t rained.  Finally around 5:00 Lynn and I left because it didn’t appear to us that they would be able to get the match in.

After dinner, we went to Henry’s soccer game.  The JV game beforehand had been delayed due to thunder and lightning.  His game didn’t start until 8:00.  It was against Wilson which had a very strong team.  Fort got behind 5 – 0 in the first half.  Henry played back on defense the entire time.  Finally, on a corner kick, where Henry had been pulled up, he headed the kick into the goal for Fort’s only score of the half.  The final was 7 – 2. 

Today was a long day; we didn’t get home until after 10:00.  But it had been a good day and I feel very blessed tonight.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 25                 Infected                   Died

World             168,513,226           3,499,417

US                     33,947,189              605,208

Virginia                673,759                11,137

Augusta County       5,870                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,938,377  (3,645,490 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        60,685  (29,876 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

Augusta County had zero new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.  Hurrah!  I hope that continues.

May 26, 2021

Today was a significant day for 296 Leaport Road.  The crew from Airtight Windows and Doors brought our new downstairs windows and began installing them.  They had installed our upstairs windows back in early February.  It took months for them to receive the windows for our downstairs but now they are here.  The house is over 50 years old with many of the old windows impossible or perilous to open as the weights in them were broken and they would slam shut.  So it is quite appropriate that they are all being replaced.

The crew involves the father, Steve Johnson, his son, and one other young man they’ve hired to work with them.  My job was to clear a path to all the windows which was easy for most of the windows but quite a challenge in the garage and basement.  Their crew is easy to work with so it wasn’t an issue.

The hardest part today was replacing the huge picture window in our living room.  The old one was double-paned and and had something between the panes which couldn’t be cleaned out.  But even with it we had a problem where birds would crash into it.  Now with the new and clean window I’m afraid that problem might be worse.  It does look much better now.

They were able to get all of the old windows out and the new ones in today.  They’ve caulked and insulated around the new ones and just need to add the aluminum covering around them now.  They’ve been amazingly efficient.  This was an expensive project but it will increase the value of the house and certainly make it easier to get fresh air in the house now.  Plus, they’re much, much easier to clean.  I guess now I won’t have an excuse for not cleaning them from time to time.

It was a hot day for them to be working outside—the hottest day so far of 2021.  The temperature this afternoon reached 90o

This afternoon Lynn’s friend Pat Collins came over to help Lynn frame the Jack-in-the-Pulpit picture she got at a yard sale last Saturday.  Lynn had also bought some old frames so she and Pat cut a new mat for the picture and framed it.  Their work was very professional.  Now the Jack-in-the-Pulpit can join the two Trillium pictures, the Rhododeneron picture, the Lily of the Valley picture, and the Lady Slipper picture we have of Sharon Kincheloe’s in our living room.  I am quite impressed with their work.  For the picture we bought of Sharon’s and had framed we probably have $100 each in them.  For the one Lynn found at the yard sale and its frame I think she invested a total of $1.25.  Yet it looks just as professionally mounted as the others.

After the construction crew had left, Lynn and I headed for Harrisonburg.  We grabbed some dinner at Chick-Fil-A then went to Jim’s Patrick Henry High boys tennis match against Harrisonburg High School.  Unfortunately, the same thing happened as yesterday—just as they were about to get started it was called off due to rain and lightning.  It has now been rescheduled for tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM—the third day in a row he’s had to drive his team from Roanoke to Harrisonburg.

We actually thought the tennis match was going to get started but we wanted to watch Henry’s soccer game against Allegheny High School so we left before it was called off.  The soccer match was delayed but not canceled.  It was a good game but Allegheny prevailed 1 – 0.

Today it was on the news that over 50% of all American adults are now fully vaccinated.  Great!  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 26                 Infected                   Died

World             169,067,580           3,511,748

US                     33,971,207              606,179

Virginia                674,082                11,143

Augusta County       5,874                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,979,477  (3,666,634 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        60,796  (29,943 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

May 27, 2021

Yesterday when Lynn and I were in Aldi’s in Harrisonburg we bumped into Selah Sprinkel.  When I worked in Rockingham County Public Schools I knew Selah and her husband Bill quite well.  Selah was an elementary principal and Bill was a Central Office administrator like me.  Bill was a very insightful man whose opinion I always trusted.  Both of them retired around the same time I did.  Selah said to Lynn and me, “You know Bill is in Memory Care, don’t you?”  I was flabbergasted.  I had no idea he had dementia.  He is in a facility in Harrisonburg.  I am still shaking my head over finding this out.  The Bill Sprinkel I knew was always on top of things, well respected by others, and in good health.

Add to that the fact that Lynn and I now know of four men of similar age to us who are dealing with brain tumors now.  Lloyd Meadows was a frequent tennis player in my group in Staunton.  Greg McCool has been Lynn’s sister Kay’s on and-off boyfriend for years.  Jim Bishop is the husband of a former colleague of Lynn’s at Cub Run Elementary School, Anna Bishop.  Jim just had surgery for his tumor.  And now Phil Coltrane, about whom I’ve recently written, is undergoing radiation for his brain tumor. 

The knowledge of the health of these five men is sobering for me.  Why them?  Why not me?  When will my time come?  All I can do is pray for them and thank God for his grace toward me.  I do not deserve better fate than any of them.

Jim’s tennis team finally got their match in this morning in Harrisonburg but they lost 5 – 2.  I watched most of the match.  His kids were undoubtedly tired from making the trip to/from Harrisonburg three days in a row.  It could have been closer if a couple of his boys at the bottom of the ladder had won their close matches with their Harrisonburg opponents but it didn’t happen.  His team still had a good season.

The crew finished our windows today.  The house looks so much better!  And now we can open our windows on a cool day or night. 

This afternoon Lynn had an IEP interpreting session for Rockingham County Schools which lasted an hour and a half.  The whole time she was looking at an IEP in English for a student on her computer then immediately translating and reading it in Spanish for the family.  As always, her skills were so impressive.  She had to read and explain the entire IEP to the family, all in Spanish.  The meeting was via Zoom and included about five other professionals plus the family.  But clearly she was the most important person on that Zoom call.

After dinner this evening we went to another of Waynesboro’s summer music series in the park.  The group playing tonight was Standing Room Only which includes two Rockingham County teachers that I know.  We’ve heard them several times below.  They played lots of cover music from the 70’s and 80’s.  The weather was nice and so was the music so it was an enjoyable outing.

When we got home, Ann and Josh came over and we filled in all of the required DMV forms for them to take possession of the RAV4. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 27                 Infected                   Died

World             169,615,295           3,524,490

US                     33,999,680              607,726

Virginia                674,439                11,152

Augusta County       5,879                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,020,944  (3,691,281 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        61,002  (30,062 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

May 28, 2021

Maybe my tennis game is getting back in better shape.  For the second time in a row, I went 3 – 0 with our rotating partner tennis sets this morning at Mary Baldwin.  Just like on Tuesday, Won Un was 1 – 2, Marc Kinder was 1 – 2, and Rob Cale was 1 – 2.  I’ve been concentrating on just trying to hit every ball in now and not trying to hit the spectacular hard shot.  It has paid off.  I’m not happy just because I won the sets; I’m happy because I’m playing better.

On my way back home after tennis, I mailed the DMV forms Ann, Josh, Lynn, and I completed last night transferring the title of the RAV4 to them.  I also transferred the money from the money Ann had received from her Grandmother Hanger’s estate to cover the cost of the car.  Lynn was especially interested in selling the car for its blue book value to Ann so that no favoritism would be shown her compared to the way we treat the other two kids.  I think I would have just given the car to her.   We did get a phone call from McDonough Toyota after they inspected the car before we bought the Venza and offered us $14,500 on a trade in.  The phone call said they’d buy it outright from us for $18,500.  So selling it to Ann for $14,000 is not ripping her off neither is it giving her a fantastic deal.  Well, technically we didn’t sell it to her; we just took back her inherited money.  That way she doesn’t have to pay sales tax on its purchase.

When I got home I decided that I’d better mow grass this morning because it is supposed to rain for the next two days.  The grass wasn’t unbearably high but I didn’t want it to get that way after two days of rain.  So, I got it taken care of before lunch.  This made for a fruitful morning.

Lynn and I had scheduled a get-away trip for this weekend, Memorial Day weekend.  We had booked a room in Marion NC for two nights which is not too far from Asheville.  Our plan was to drive there on Saturday, go to a waterfall not far away and walk.  Then on Sunday we were going to go to a craft fair in Hendersonville.  But the drive would be at least 4 ½ hours each way and Lynn’s back would really pay the price for that kind of ride.  So we opted to cancel the plans and the hotel reservation this morning.  We’ll enjoy Memorial Day from 296 Leaport Road.

A graphic on Facebook today was used to sing Biden’s praises.  It showed that on January 19, 2021, right before he took office, there had been 16M vaccine shots given, 201,197 coronavirus cases per day, 119,335 COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 3,069 deaths per day due to COVID.  Now, in May 2021, there have been 191M vaccine shots given, 23,032 daily COVID-19 cases, 23,138 hospitalizations, and 570 deaths per day.  The graphic says “Don’t you love it when our president listens to science?”

This afternoon, Lynn and I took our usual walk.  When we got back, we decided to go to Harrisonburg.  She wanted a bird bath for our back yard and we knew that there was a place just north of Harrisonburg that sold things like that.  The place was called Harper’s.  Sure enough, they had lots to choose from and we got one to put between the Pergola and our house, in line with the bird feeders so Lynn could see activity in it out the same window she watches the birds. 

While we were in Harrisonburg we also went to Costco and Aldi’s.  We got back in plenty of time for me to level up the bird bath in the yard before we did our usual Friday night dinner at the Old School food truck.  We didn’t have much time to spare before heading to Henry’s soccer game against Staunton.

The game was close but Staunton prevailed 6 –  4.  Fort had lost to them earlier in the season 3 – 0 so this was a little improvement.  And I know I do not know all the soccer rules but I felt like Fort got the raw end of the deal with the officiating.  For example, in the first half Henry and a Staunton player were both running toward the ball near the Fort goal.  They collided and both went down.  The ref called it against Henry which gave Staunton a goal kick which they scored on.  I have to believe that Henry had as much right to the ball as the other guy and neither was a step ahead when they went down.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about soccer tonight is that it only rained a tiny bit despite the forecast of severe thunderstorms.  We were prepared with our raincoats and umbrellas but didn’t really need them.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 28                 Infected                   Died

World             170,113,252           3,536,897

US                     34,022,118              608,946

Virginia                674,843                11,156

Augusta County       5,884                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,082,422  (3,725,888 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        61,384  (30,295 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

May 29, 2021

Today was a lazy, rainy, chilly Saturday.  The temperature didn’t get to 60o today and it rained on and off all day.  I’m sure the gardens and wells appreciated that.  Since Lynn and I cancelled our planned Memorial Weekend trip we ended up with little to do today.

We did our usual:  first we went to Central and got food for the Aguirre family.  They weren’t home but stopped by our house mid-afternoon to pick it up.  Actually we got two boxes of food, one for them and one for Juan Pablo, but he told Lynn they didn’t need it so we gave both boxes to Elizabeth and Hilberto. 

I did my typical Saturday trash run including our trash and the Gutshall’s.  I managed to get this job done between rain showers.

Lynn and I did some shopping to pass the time.  We went to Kroger, Aldi, and Walmart.  We didn’t need a lot at any of the stores but decided that we could also get some walking in by looking throughout the stores, especially Walmart.

Lynn’s project of the day was to make another porch sign.  She had previously made signs for Fall, Winter, and Spring, but not yet for Summer.  So she worked today on one after I had cut one of the fence boards we had to her desired length, four feet.  It certainly didn’t feel like summer today, though, and tomorrow’s forecast is for more cold weather.

With this being Memorial Day weekend, I did some research today on my two uncles who were killed in World War II.  My Dad and Mom each lost a brother.  Both were in the Marine Corp and both were sergeants.  They were both killed in the Pacific.  I don’t know that they knew each other but they probably did since Mom and Dad were married by then.  My mother’s brother was Joseph Donald Cook.  My dad’s brother was Howell Skee Hill.  Interestingly, both were known by their middle names, Don and Skee.  Here’s what my cousin Bev Aker wrote about Skee in her Hill Family Genealogy book:

Howell ‘Skee’ was next in line in 1922 and was of that generation that went to war.  Sgt. Hill volunteered for the marines on January 15, 1940, when he had just turned 17 years of age. He spent more than five years in active service. During the time he was in the marine corps, Sgt. Hill served through six campaigns, including Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Corregidor, and the Phillipines. After leaving school in Bramwell, Sgt. Hill received his basic training at Parris Island, S.C., and the marine base in Quantico, Va.  Later he was transferred to the Bahamas and helped to build the marine bases on Guam and Cuba.

He also did extensive research work for the marines and for the British when they were acquiring territory in the pre-war era.   Skee went to Iwo Jima and was the 31st casualty of that South Pacific battle in 1945.13  His body was not returned for burial until 1948 at which time he was given a burial with full military honors in Woodlawn Cemetery in Bluewell. He was a true American Hero.

And here is information I found about mom’s brother Don:

Technical Sergeant Joseph Cook was a scout-bomber pilot assigned to VMSB-141, part of the “Cactus Air Force” that operated out of Guadalcanal.  Cook and Staff Sergeant William “Tom” Campbell were lost on a flight out of Henderson Field. Although reported missing on 8 October 1942, they appear to have taken part in an early morning strike against a fleet of six Japanese warships on 9 October. Their bomber (SBD-3 Bureau Number 03257) was hit by antiaircraft fire while in its dive; still, Cook managed to release the bomb and was credited with a possible hit on a cruiser before crashing.  Cook and Campbell were both declared dead on 19 February 1945.

A skilled pilot, Don Cook was a graduate of Gary High School and Bluefield College.  He married a lady from Charlottesville, Eloise Smith, in 1941.  I don’t recall ever meeting her.

There are so many signs of the pandemic’s ending.  The news tonight reported that the number of airline travelers set a record this weekend.  Over 34 million were expected to be driving to some vacation location this weekend.

The news this week has featured how the Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, blocked the attempt by Congress to have a non-partisan commission to study the events of January 6.  The vote in the Senate was 54 – 35 but, due to the rules of filibuster, 60 votes were needed to approve the measure.  There is an outcry for the Democrats to eliminate the filibuster clause.  Actually, I don’t need a bipartisan commission to tell me what happened on January 6.  I know exactly what happened:  Right-wing, Trump-loving, insurrectionists attempted to disrupt the constitutional process of approving the fair election of Joe Biden and, in so doing, did tremendous damage to property and life when they stormed the U.S. Capitol.  These insurrectionists were spurred to riot by Donald J. Trump who should be held fully accountable for what happened.  The Republicans know this would be the outcome of any investigation and that’s why they voted against it.  But every American with any knowledge of the truth knows that this is exactly what happened.  No commission is needed.

After dinner we made two more stops in our car.  First we went to Dollar General to buy some cleaning supplies for Connie.  Then we went to Smiley’s for, you guessed it, salted caramel chocolate chunk ice cream cones.  Yum!

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

May 29                 Infected                   Died

World             170,606,970           3,547,757

US                     34,034,505              609,416

Virginia                675,165                11,160

Augusta County       5,892                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,131,532  (3,753,299 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        61,682  (30,501 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

May 30, 2021

Today was a very cold Sunday for the end of May.  The high for the day was 58o.  Our day, like most Sundays, began with a trip to Central.  Ken Beals was the minister today as Pastor Won was in North Carolina visiting his brother.  We always enjoy Ken’s sermons.  There were about 35 people present.

This afternoon I attempted to help Lynn prepare dinner for tonight.  Given my limited set of culinary skills, that meant my job was to 1) run to the grocery store to buy some cream of mushroom soup and 2) chop an onion.  Meanwhile, she fixed cheese olives, a potato casserole, homemade rolls, and deviled eggs.  Later on she cooked the ribs we had purchased yesterday and put together a salad.  Then she fixed strawberries and whipped cream for dessert.  A feast!

Even though it was cold, the rain had stopped by mid-afternoon so Lynn and I bundled up and did our regular walk.  I’m looking forward to the weather the rest of this week which is supposed to be much warmer.

The Gutshalls came over early for dinner as Gus had a party to go to.  We all enjoyed the food Lynn had prepared.  We tentatively made plans to go to Crabtree Falls on Monday.

Here are the COVID-19 numbers for today:

May 30                 Infected                   Died

World             171,096,112           3,558,173

US                     34,043,068              609,544

Virginia                675,538                11,186

Augusta County       5,901                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,133,183  (3,754,326 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        61,682  (30,501 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

May 31, 2021

Lynn finished painting her porch sign today.  It really looks good.  It reads “Yay! It’s SUMMER” and the U is painted as a slice of watermelon.  She is so talented!

I had a leisurely morning while Lynn washed several loads of clothes.  Today’s weather was finally good for hanging clothes out to dry.  The temperature was back to normal with highs in the low 70’s.

After an early lunch, we headed to Crabtree Falls after picking up Freddie and Betsy.   It was an hour’s drive across the Blue Ridge Mountains to a place I’d never been.  The trail at Crabtree Falls said it was 1 ¾ miles to the top of the falls though there were many, many places along the walk where you could see waterfalls.  It was truly one of the most photogenic hikes we’ve ever taken.  The weather was perfect and with the recent rain there was plenty of water spilling over the falls. 

Truth be told, the 1 ¾ mile hike up to the top was very strenuous as was the return trip.  Lynn especially has trouble going down the rocky steps.  But the trail was in excellent shape and there were literally hundreds of people on it today; we had a hard time finding a place to park when we got there.  Betsy and Freddie were good walkers and were patient with their older grandparents on the climb.   Freddie was especially cute as he offered his hand to Lynn on several places on the descent where she needed help.

I took over 100 pictures and got them posted soon after returning home.  We fed dinner (leftovers) to Betsy and Freddie then the four of us celebrated our grand day with a trip to Smiley’s.  It was definitely a grand day.  I loved the exercise, the company, and the scenery. 

There are a lot of things that bring me pleasure such as working Sudoku and Whirly Word puzzles, playing tennis, drinking coffee, and watching sports on tv.  But nothing, absolutely nothing, brings as much pleasure to me as spending time with Lynn and our grandchildren like today.  I feel very blessed tonight.

Lynn discovered late in the day that she had a $10 coupon at Belk which expired today so after we dropped Freddie and Betsy at their home we went to Harrisonburg for some late shopping.  Lynn found a nice dress she paid a total of $12 for thanks to her coupon.  Then we went to Walmart for some other shopping before finally getting home after 9:00—late for two old fogies.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 31                 Infected                   Died

World             171,455,727           3,564,764

US                     34,113,146              609,767

Virginia                675,538                11,186

Augusta County       5,901                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,182,478  (3,782,186 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        61,802  (30,556 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

Some of the Virginia statistics above are identical to what I reported yesterday.  Actually I got yesterday’s numbers early this morning but supposedly they are updated at 10:00 AM each day.  The numbers above for the number of infections and deaths for Virginia and Augusta County are identical to what I reported yesterday but I doubt it is because there were zero additions.  Interestingly, the numbers on the VDH did show an increase in the number of vaccinations, though, so maybe it is possible that Virginia had no new cases in the past day.  I think that is being too optimistic though I do hope there will come a day soon when this is true.  My data does clearly show that the number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19 have shrunk notably in the US, Virginia, and Augusta County.


 

April 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

April 1, 2021

What a cold, blustery day!  The high today was in the low 40’s with a stiff winter wind and blowing snow at times.  Quite an un-spring like first day of April!

As a result, I didn’t get any outside exercise today which I badly need.  I did ride my bike on the trainer for an hour this morning and walked with Lynn at the Harrisonburg mall for about two miles tonight.  I’m still way out of shape.

We were going to go to Brazil this year but tonight’s news showed how they are having nearly 4,000 deaths per day due to COVID-19 now and can’t even bury their dead fast enough.  I’m so glad we postponed that trip.  It is called the epicenter of the pandemic in Latin America. 

I didn’t accomplish much today which has been typical for the last few weeks, sadly.  I was able to help Ann’s family out a little by meeting Betsy and Freddie when they rode the bus here after school then going to Fort Defiance to get Gus from his season-end basketball meeting.  Then I took all of them home.  Ann had homecoming activities at Broadway this evening (Brrrr…) so I’m glad I could help them a little.

This afternoon I did play around some with Lynn’s new Venza, discovering some of its net features.  I can not only receive texts and read them to the driver, it can also compose and send texts from the driver’s voice.  It can locate most anything you’d give it voice commands to find (“Find the nearest McDonald’s” or “What are the directions to Kay Foy’s house?” or “What’s the weather forecast tomorrow in Roanoke?”).  It can open the back hatch with a kick of the foot under the car.  It can charge Lynn’s phone without her having to plug it in to one of the four USB ports. 

I did have an extended phone call today with Justin Rexrode, our Edward Jones Financial Representative.  Our retirement funds have done very well under his advisement.  We have about 75% of our investments with Justin at Edward Jones and another 25% with the company aligned with Rockingham County Public Schools, Lincoln Financial.  My dad lived through the Great Depression and always told me to not put all of my eggs in one basket.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 1                  Infected                   Died

World             130,147,630           2,839,127

US                     31,244,497              566,282

Virginia                620,801                10,268

Augusta County       5,399                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,850,838  (1,375,802 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        39,801  (17,323 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

I don’t think it’s surprising that Augusta County’s great increase in vaccinations has led to a dramatic decrease in new cases—only one new case today, no new deaths, and no more hospitalizations.  But the US and world are still under a siege from COVID-19.

April 2, 2021

Today was another frigid day for early April.  At least the forecast over the next week calls for much improved weather.  Tomorrow is our scheduled Easter Egg Hunt; the temperature for tomorrow afternoon is supposed to be in the high 50’s or low 60’s.  Next week we’re supposed to be back in the 70’s.

I need to be riding my bike outside some.  So far I’ve been limited to the trainer set up in the family room downstairs.  At least I can watch CNN while I pedal.  Today I rode for right at one hour.

Lynn had some interpreting to do today.  Her first one was at McGaheysville Elementary School and her second one was from home via Zoom.  I didn’t do a lot while waiting on her but as soon as she got back she and I went to Central and got another large load of food for the Aguirre family.  We also bought a lot of groceries at Kroger for ourselves and our company this weekend.  We then delivered the food to Elizabeth and came home to unload our groceries.   I had to make one more short run to Food Lion to get a few things Kroger didn’t have plus some McDonald’s coupons to send to Jim’s kids tomorrow in their Easter basket Lynn will prepare.

This being Friday, we also went to the Old Schoolhouse Food Truck for our weekly hamburgers.  It was a busy afternoon.

Here is some good news:  Pfizer said Thursday that trials suggest that their vaccine is effective against a coronavirus variant that first emerged in South Africa, which some experts worry might evade existing shots. They also said in a statement that 12,000 people involved in their Phase 3 trial experienced high levels of protection against Covid-19 six months after their second doses, with no serious safety concerns.  The company said Wednesday that their vaccine is safe and effective in teenagers ages 12 to 15. They plan to request emergency use authorization for those ages in the coming weeks.  Pfizer is also studying how well the vaccine works in children ages 6 months to 11 years. The first doses in that trial were administered last week.

Ever since Jim mounted the birdhouses and Lynn filled them with birdseed, the birds have been loving our property.  We’ve had a good mix of bird varieties, all very colorful.  Tonight as I looked out the window I could see a dozen or so birds vying for the seed.  In the Link’s field next to us I could see more than 40 cows and four Alpacas.  In the Mezzoni’s field there were about ten deer feeding.  It is nice to live in the country where humans are way outnumbered by animals!  In other neighbor’s fields we see horses, goats, sheep, and Winnie the pig.

I’ve seen lots of commercials mocking how people becoming their parents.  Prior to this year, Lynn never paid much attention to the birds.  Her mother loved them and spent lots of time watching them.  Well, Lynn has become her Mom.  Maybe watching them somehow reminds her of her mother.  That’s a good thing. 

Henry got the good news tonight that he was accepted into the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School for next year.  Super!  Here’s what their website says:  One of 19 Governor’s Schools in the state of Virginia, the purpose of SVGS is to provide an integrated math, science and technology program and an integrated arts and humanities program in a unique environment.  SVGS has programs and courses designed to meet the unique needs of advanced ability and highly motivated students. Students may attend in one of two broad curriculum areas, Arts & Humanities and Sciences (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

We made some plans today for tomorrow’s family visits.  Kay and her family are expected around 2:00 and have agreed to stay for dinner.  We got some suggestions from her for dinner and also some ideas from Ann.  Jim hopes to join us for dinner.  Here’s what I sent to each of them regarding dinner:  For dinner tomorrow night we’d like to offer that we’ll have pepperoni rolls, pimento cheese sandwiches, fruit, tomato & mozzarella cheese sticks, deviled eggs, potato chips AND we’ll make a run to Chicano Boy to pick up whatever else anyone wants. We have cake for dessert and lemonade, soft drinks, or milk to drink.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 2                  Infected                   Died

World             130,791,581           2,849,974

US                     31,311,321              567,519

Virginia                622,339                10,279

Augusta County       5,399                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,957,289  (1,416,919 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        39,803  (17,722 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

Wow—Augusta County had zero new cases, zero new deaths, and zero new hospitalizations.  I hope this isn’t a data entry error.  The news said that twenty states were experiencing a rise in the number of cases but Virginia was not among them.  Perhaps vaccination is starting to pay off.  The CDC did say today that vaccinated adults should feel safe to travel anywhere within the United States they wanted.  I am concerned that the number of hospitalizations hasn’t decreased in Augusta County.  It remains at 152.  I would have thought some of those hospitalized would have improved and be sent home by now.

April 3, 2021

The weather was better today with temperatures in the 50’s but not as good as it will be tomorrow and the days following.  But at least it sufficed for our family Easter egg hunt.

We’ve had Easter egg hunts at our house for decades.  Last year the pandemic stopped that tradition but today it was revived.  We didn’t have as many kids as usual but we did have six of our eight grandchildren:  Henry, Gus, Betsy, Freddie, Thomas, and Georgia.  Of course, I took lots and lots of pictures.  Lynn fixed a ton of snack and dinner food as I detailed in yesterday’s post.  Since the kids are older now, I made one part of the egg different this year.  I numbered six eggs 1 through 6, put a silver dollar in each, and hid them in some rather difficult places in the back yard.  I also wrote down where I had hidden each of the six so I could provide hints if one or more were unfound.  Actually, I expected most of them to be unfound because I hid them well.  When the kids came, I told them they were allowed to find only one of these special eggs per person.  If they discovered a second one then they had to leave it. 

It worked out well.  They did find about half of the special eggs without any hints.  The hunt was late getting started as they didn’t get here until 3:00 but from 3:00 to 7:00 we had a big family party including lots of food and fun.  Jim came around 5:00.

The six grandchildren played so well outside.  They did everything:  hunted eggs, hid eggs for the adults, played on the playground set, rode big wheels on the tennis court, did crafts with Lynn coloring cookies, played tennis, played basketball, played kickball in the field, swang on the pergola, ate lots of food, and got along very, very well.  It was a little chilly but quite bearable.  It was a very fine afternoon.  I feel so blessed.

In the meantime Lynn had fixed a pile of food.  Plus, we placed a big order at Chicano Boys’ Taco in Staunton.  Ann picked it up and we ate on the back porch.

The reason the kids were late in getting here is that Ann’s family met Kay’s family at Humpback Rock on Blue Ridge Parkway for a hike.  It was good that they got together.

Kay gave us some very good news today—she gets her first vaccine shot this coming Thursday.  Andy has already had his first so when she gets her shots all of the adults in our family will have been vaccinated.  Josh gets his second one soon and the rest of us already have two under our belts.  Hooray!

I took over 100 pictures today.  I tried to capture all of the activities the kids did while they were here.  Unfortunately, most of the shots of people were of them wearing masks.  That’s a sign of the times, I guess. 

Yes, COVID-19 is still with us and we’re lucky to have avoided it thus far.  Here are the international, national, state, and local statistics for today:

April 3                  Infected                   Died

World             131,327,017           2,858,229

US                     31,381,702              568,496

Virginia                623,881                10,287

Augusta County       5,403                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,071,088  (1,467,640 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        39,983  (17,760 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

The NCAA men’s basketball semifinals were played today.  Baylor thoroughly beat Houston in the first game.  The other game was Gonzaga versus UCLA which didn’t start until late.

April 4, 2021

Today was Easter Sunday.  Lynn and I did something we hadn’t done in a year—went to an in-person church service at Central.  Central had decided to re-open on Easter Sunday because more and more of its elderly members had been vaccinated.  Indeed, there were at least 60 people in the sanctuary today, all dispersed by six foot barriers throughout.  It was really good to see people I literally hadn’t seen in a year. 

I had some extra responsibilities with the service.  I had been asked by Yi-Ping Chen if I could broadcast the video she had put together via Zoom of choir members singing “Because He Lives.”  Plus, Pastor Won had set up a laptop with the bulletin and communion service put into Powerpoint format so it could be projected for the attendees to see.  He asked me to advance the slides during the service.  We had a minor snafu in that his laptop wouldn’t play Yi-Ping’s video but I had Lynn’s MacBook with me so I queued up the video on it and, when it came time in the service for it, simply switched the input cables to the projector.  It all worked fine.

After church we picked up soup not only for ourselves but also for the Gutshalls and Aquirre family thanks to Millie Brown.  We brought it all home so we could refrigerate it until they pick it up.  The Gutshalls came over for dinner tonight and Elizabeth and family are coming here tomorrow for another Easter egg hunt.

The weather was nicer today than yesterday so after we ate lunch Lynn and I took our standard two mile walk.  I don’t know why sometimes this walk is very easy for me and other days it hurts.  Today was a hurting day.

Jim did a Facetime call with us this morning so we could see Faron and Coen on Easter morning.  They were very talkative as usual.

I ended up staying up for the second semifinal basketball game last night and it was a good one.  Gonzaga won in overtime when one of its players hit a midcourt shot as time expired to give them a 93 – 90 win.  Now it’s Baylor vs Gonzaga in the finals.  I’m pulling for Baylor.  By the way, if Baylor does win then Josh wins the Worthington pool.  If Gonzaga beats Baylor, Thomas wins the pool.  So either way two of my favorites will become richer!  Alas, I’m in 31st place out of 33 with no hope of going higher.

We had another fine meal tonight with Ann, Josh, and kids.  Lynn fixed a prime rib roast which was delicious.  She also made asparagus a different way that was tasty.  We ate outside since the weather was nice but later in the evening it got a little chilly so we came in.  Before that, I played basketball with Freddie a couple of times. 

Henry left me with some math problems he wants to do with me tomorrow.  I’ll try to get a headstart on them before they come over in the afternoon.  The class he’s taking this year, Pre-Calculus, is one I taught almost every year I taught school.

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

April 4                  Infected                   Died

World             131,894,417           2,865,483

US                     31,419,597              568,765

Virginia                625,148                10,329

Augusta County       5,415                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,174,326  (1,519,021 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        40,196  (17,792 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

I’ve seen several news reports this week detailing how poorly COVID-19 has been contained in other countries, notably Brazil.  I believe 2021 is a good year to travel strictly within the United States.  I am almost sure that our trip to Portugal and Spain will be delayed until 2022.

April 5, 2021

Not only did we have an Easter egg hunt this year for the first time in two years, we had two of them!  Emily and Nathan came over this afternoon and the Gutshalls came back for a second backyard Easter egg hunt.  The Gutshalls were good sports about doing this again.  And I think all of the kids had a good time playing together again today.  The weather was gorgeous.

After the egg hunt was over, the kids were all swinging in the pergola and I had an idea for them to play a game that I used to have my General Math students do 45 years ago.  We were already sitting in a circle, of course, in the pergola so I taught them to play the game where each seat is numbered 1, 2, 3, etc.  The person sitting in seat 1 is the “King” and simply announces a different seat number.  The person sitting in that seat simply has to quickly respond with another number (not his own) and the game continues until someone neglects to respond when their number is called, calls their own number, or sputters in responding.  When a person misses, he moves to the last chair and everyone behind him moves up one seat, taking on a new number.  The game seems so simple but is surprisingly hard to play, especially when players learn to be more devious such as calling out “3” while looking directly as person #2.  From Henry down to Nathan, the kids seemed to like this game.  Freddie played for a while but it may have been a little too old of a game for him. 

I used to do this game in classes with twenty or more students in them.  It always surprised me who would do well in this game and who would not.  The success at this game did not seem to be that correlated to academic ability.  I can remember one General Math student of mine who was not a particularly good math student but once she got in Chair #1 it was impossible to dislodge her.  Today, everyone at one point made it to Chair #1 but no one stayed there for an inordinate amount of time before missing.

Lynn had lots of snacks ready for the kids which I enjoyed as well.  So when the families all left around 4:30 we weren’t the slightest bit hungry.  So we went for our two mile walk then came home and ate dinner.  We warmed up some of the prime rib roast Lynn had made yesterday which was superb.

Tonight was the NCAA men’s basketball championship.  I vowed to stay up and watch it though it didn’t start until 9:00 so I’ll have to write about it tomorrow.

This morning I spent three hours at Central doing Treasurer’s work.  Today was April 5, a Monday, so I had lots of beginning-of-month work to do.  I was successful in getting all of the four bank accounts reconciled and two of the three credit cards reconciled.  Pastor Won wasn’t there for me to give me his credit card records so I’ll do that later.  I also paid a few bills and made the deposit from today’s counters.  It was a large one since yesterday was Easter and we had a good offering from our first in-person service in 2021.  I also paid the federal taxes which are paid monthly and submitted a tax form, Form 941, which must be submitted every three months.  So it was a very successful day for me at CUMC.

I got back from Central just in time to get the eggs hidden for the afternoon Easter egg hunt.  The word “hidden” doesn’t really apply as only some of them were actually concealed a little; others were merely scattered around the yard.  But there were around 250 eggs in all in our back yard!

It was good to see Gilberto today.  Elizabeth brought him over to pick up the kids at the end of the party.  He told us he was doing better each day.

While he was here this afternoon, I also did Henry’s math problems with him.  Actually I had gotten an early start on them last night and this morning so all I had to do was check my work with his as he did the problems.  They were about exponential growth, logarithms including natural logarithms and base e, and included practical problems such as computing future worth of investments compounded at various times and car depreciation.  I enjoyed doing the problems.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 5                  Infected                   Died

World             132,389,797           2,873,069

US                     31,484,402              569,180

Virginia                626,171                10,360

Augusta County       5,414                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,224,890  (1,543,719 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        40,789  (18,153 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

This means that 54% of Augusta County residents have been vaccinated with at least one shot.  Yippee!  I know that’s why the number of cases, deaths, and hospitalizations has slowed to a crawl.  I hope this continues.  There are several COVID-19 mutations spreading through the United States now.  It really gripes me that some people refuse to get their shots because the only way this virus will go away is if enough people are immune to it that it has no one left to spread to.  As long as there are anti-vaxers out there we will have to live with COVID-19.  These people are not only stupid, they are also selfish.

April 6, 2021

I did stay up to watch the basketball game last night but it wasn’t a close game at all.  Baylor blew Gonzaga away to win the national championship.  And whether it was the adrenalin from the basketball game or the caffeine from the Coke Zero I drank earlier in the evening, I couldn’t sleep well at all.  One thing I’ve appreciated about retirement is getting a good night’s sleep but that didn’t happen last night.

I needed to be well rested, too, as I played tennis with Marc Kinder, Rob Cale, and Won Un today at Mary Baldwin College.  It was a very nice day to play, sunny and warm.  We met at 11:00 and played until 1:00 in 77o weather.  I was whipped when we finished.  I did manage to be on the winning team for both sets.  Rob and I beat Marc and Won 9 – 7 in a marathon.  Then Won and I came back from being down 5 – 2 to beat Marc and Rob 7 – 5.  For me, the combination of being out of shape, little sleep last night, hot weather for this time of the year, plus a nagging injury to my upper right arm made it a struggle though I enjoyed it.  I believe I hurt my arm when I played last week and today it really ached, especially when I served.

Lynn was able to schedule Physical Therapy today in lieu of having it this Friday since we’ll be in Pennsylvania then.  She had it again tomorrow.  After her PT this morning, her Cheryl friends came over to visit while I left to play tennis.

Before I did, I took Cheryl Kent up to Simmons Auto Repair.  She had been told by a Staunton repair shop that her car had a leak in the main engine seal and it would cost over $2,300 to have it repaired.  She had heard us talk about how competent and fair Brian and Tommy Simmons are so she thought she’d get a second opinion.  Brian concurred that she needed the work done but told her it would cost $1,700.  That’s a big savings!  She’s going to have the work done at Simmons later this month.

Ann has spring break this week with Rockingham County Public Schools though her kids aren’t so lucky in Augusta County.  They only got Friday and Monday off around Easter so they were back in school today.  But this meant that she could pick up Freddie when he got here this afternoon.  Actually, she allowed Freddie and me to play one game of PIG shooting basketball first.  I’ve played him four times in the past week and my record is 0 – 4.

After dinner tonight Lynn needed a grocery item so we went to Bridgewater IGA to get it.  Of course, on the way back we stopped at Smiley’s for ice cream.  Yum!

Josh got his second vaccine shot today.  Hooray!

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

April 6                  Infected                   Died

World             132,990,226           2,884,845

US                     31,558,576              570,231

Virginia                627,605                10,401

Augusta County       5,426                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,277,076  (1,571,239 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        40,909  (18,201 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

There are now 156 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.  Vaccinations or not the virus is still going strong here.

Lynn and I are getting ready for our three day trip coming up this Thursday through Saturday.  We’re going to be meeting Butch and Mary K. for dinner in Altoona on Friday night.

April 7, 2021

Whew!  This morning the weather was nice and I decided to ride my bike in the neighborhood while Lynn went into Staunton.  I took my bike off the trainer, filled the tires with air, grabbed my helmet and off I rode.  The problem is that there is NOWHERE around here even remotely flat.  My legs hurt less than ½ mile from home.  I rode what maps out to be an 8 mile ride past Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church, down to Todd Road, out to Gray Fox road, back to Salem Church Road, up to Cider Mill Road, back to Mount Pisgah Church, then home.  In actual miles I’m sure the trip was more like 11 – 12 miles because I did corkscrews on every hill to make them more bearable.  My, did my legs hurt.  The rest of me, including my bottom, did fine.  I was exhausted when I got back home, a little over an hour later.  Todd and Gray Fox roads I am seldom on and I thought I remembered them as being basically flat.  Wrong!  It seemed like each hill had ten minutes of pain resulting in one minute of downhill relaxation.  If I knew that the Katy Trail was hilly, I would never have agreed to ride with the group from May 10 – 15.  As it is, where we enter the Katy Trail the elevation is 571 ft. above sea level and when we leave the trail four days later it is 452 ft. above with zero hills between.  That’s why I think I can make it. 

 On our Midwest trip in 2017 Lynn and I rode our bikes on the Katy Trail in three states:  Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.  The original railroad trail was called the MKT trail for Missouri, Kansas, Texas but the name got shortened to just the Katy Trail.  When Lynn and I rode we didn’t do any long distances in any of the states.  In Missouri we rode near to where the five of us are going to ride in May. 

My cousin Nick lives very near to the place we’re going to stay on May 10 and where we’ll be leaving our vehicles for when we get back.  Today was Nick’s 71st birthday so I texted him birthday greetings and asked if he’d be around on May 10 so perhaps I could see him for a little while.

I think Lynn’s bike riding days are just about over.  Her back has been giving her lots of pain lately.  Her Physical Therapist recommended that she not ride for now.  So on the trip we’re going to take tomorrow we’re not even taking her bike.  On the trails I had previously planned for us to both ride on, she’ll walk and I’ll ride.

We’ve got no plans to put a bike rack on her new Venza so when we pass the Rav4 on to Ann and family, the only vehicle we’ll have left with a hitch is my Toyota truck which Jim currently has.  It has about 150,000 miles on it so we won’t be taking it on any long bike hikes when I get it back from him.  And that doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon.

When Lynn got back from Staunton around lunchtime she wanted to walk so my tired legs then walked two miles with her.  Actually I did fine with the walk.  Riding a bike and walking use different leg muscles, for sure.

This evening, after dinner, we took some soup from Central out to the Aquirre family.  We usually take them food on Saturday but we won’t be able to this week since we’ll be out of town.

In the news tonight, the UK variant is now the most dominant COVID-19 strain in the US now.  It is more deadly and contagious.  The CDC said they are seeing more young people in hospitals now with hospital cases increasing in more than 16 states (though not in Virginia).  38 states (but not Virginia) now offer vaccinations to anyone 16 and over.   Some good news is that antibodies from the Pfizer and Moderna still remain at a high level at six months from when the vaccine is given. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

April 7                  Infected                   Died

World             133,664,461           2,897,302

US                     31,632,180              571,081

Virginia                629,155                10,415

Augusta County       5,487                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,344,970  (1,604,477 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        41,522  (18,438 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

I’ll be writing in this blog from Frederick, MD tomorrow evening then from Altoona, PA the next night.  Lynn and I are looking forward to eating lots of ice cream, walking and/or riding bikes, and visiting with both my brother and sister.  My brother had a MRI yesterday that left him worrying about lots of possible things that could be wrong, but the results came back today with nothing to worry about.  He was greatly relieved, of course. So was I!

April 8, 2021

Today was the first day of our three day road trip.  It was a good one with great weather, good ice cream, and good bike riding and walking.  The day worked out just as we had planned.

We left home around 9:00 AM knowing that our first stop was at Moo Thru Creamery in Remington VA which was 1 hour 50 minutes from home and they didn’t open until 11:00 AM.  Indeed, we got there a few minutes early and had to wait for them to open.  It was worth the wait.  Lynn had a sundae made of dark chocolate ice cream with peanut butter sauce on it (no surprise).  I had one scoop of cookies and cream and one scoop of sweet cream ice cream topped with caramel sauce.  Their ice cream was great–almost as good as Smiley’s.  With Smiley’s grade of A+, I’d have to grade Moo Thru as a solid A.  The only issue was that our sundae’s were supposed to come with a brownie in them but their brownies weren’t ready when we were there.  They have us a couple of donuts instead. 

From Moo Thru, our next stop was 90 minute north just over the Potomac River on US 15 into Maryland.  The venue was Point of Rocks, a town along the C & O Canal Towpath.  We’ve ridden bikes on lots of other sections of the Towpath over the past ten years but never on this section.  As I mentioned yesterday, Lynn can’t ride her bike due to her back injury so she walked on the path.  She was delighted to use her Apple earpods for the first time and reported they worked great.  Meanwhile, I rode my bike four miles west, then turned around and rode four miles back to the car. 

The trail was in excellent condition.  Indeed there were plenty of other walkers and bikers on it today.  I believe that the conditions I rode in today accurately mimic the Katy Trail I’ll be riding on in May.  I tried to ride hard, anticipating that the four guys I’ll be riding on the Katy with will want to ride at a pace of at least 8 miles per hour which is what I did today.  Lynn and I both got our hour of exercise and we were both pleased.  I took lots of pictures as I rode.

My legs did hurt some but not nearly as much as yesterday as I struggled with the hills around our house.  I do need to do training runs like this one several more times this month.

Our next stop was only 10 minutes away at the Rocky Point Creamery.  Like Moo Thru, this was advertised as a farm to cone establishment.  It didn’t disappoint.  I did like the Moo Thru ice cream better but my cone of sweet cream was still delicious.  Lynn also had a sweet cream cone.  We both agreed to rate Rocky Point as a B+.  If anything, their ice cream tasted lots like the kind you’d buy at a grocery store.

While we were at Rocky Point Creamery eating our cones, another couple was parked nearby and we struck up conversation with them.  They were from Bethesda MD and were heading to a goat farm just across the Potomac in Virginia where you could buy goat cheese and hold and pet the baby goats.  We decided that we had plenty of time to spare so we headed for George’s Mill Farm in Loudoun County. 

Though we didn’t buy any goat cheese there, Lynn did pet the goats and I took pictures.  It was a nice diversion.

From George’s Mill we headed to the Hilton Garden Inn in Frederick.  We got there around 3:55.  As we were checking in there was a sign which said “Sorry but the water will be off from 4:00 – 8:00 to make repairs.”  Both of us needed to use the restroom so we hustled to our room just in the nick of time. 

Then we headed out to explore Frederick a little.  On the way we went to a Ross store because Lynn had some shoes to exchange.  We had previously agreed to eat dinner at the Black Hog BBQ in downtown Frederick.  It was a good choice.  I had a 1/2 slab of ribs and Lynn got Texas brisket.  We exchanged our meats with each other along with the sides.  Both of us ended up with way too much to eat.

Frederick is a neat town.  It is an old town but the parts we were in were not run down at all.  In the suburbs there are sidewalks everywhere to walk on.  We saw several nice parks and drove to one where we hope to ride/walk tomorrow morning if the weather permits.  There were hundreds of people in the park playing baseball, t-ball, soccer, tennis, etc. 

When we got back to the hotel, we decided to walk the 0.6 mile distance to the nearest McDonalds.  Lynn always likes McDonald’s sweet tea when we travel so we got tea tonight for her breakfast tomorrow morning.  It was a nice walk.  We took advantage of the nice sidewalks in this community.

A full day it was–and a great one.  The worrisome thing about tomorrow is that there is a 40% chance of rain.  We’ll just play it by ear.  The first ice cream stop tomorrow doesn’t open until 11:00 so if we can’t ride in the morning we’ll have to find something else to do.

On our way this morning Kay called with some great news: she had just gotten her first Pfizer vaccine shot.  Now all of the adults in my immediate family have received some or all of their vaccines.  In three weeks everyone will be fully vaccinated.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 8                  Infected                   Died

World             134,498,401           2,914,168

US                     31,714,311              573,819

Virginia                631,083                10,436

Augusta County       5,553                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,414,376  (1,639,623 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        42,325  (18,849 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

The number of cases in Augusta County shot up by 66.  That’s a huge number compared to the previous several days.  I’m not sure what caused that.  There are still 156 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19. 

April 9, 2021

We awoke to drizzle so we initially thought our plans of riding bikes and walking on Frederick County’s Bellanger Creek trail were going to have to be ditched.  While Lynn took her shower, I drove to the bakery we had picked out, Stone Hearth Bakery in downtown Frederick, and picked up a cinnamon roll for her and an apple strudel for me.  Both were good choices.  By the time we had finished our breakfast and verified that checkout time wasn’t until noon, the rain had stopped though the clouds still looked onimous.  But weather.com said it wasn’t going to rain anymore so we trusted the forecast.

It was a good call.  The trail was only a few blocks from our hotel.  The website advertised the trail as a paved, level, 10 foot wide multiuse trail for 4.2 miles.  It turned out to be a great trail, just as advertised.  It was a little cool, in the 50’s, and there were a couple of places where the rainwater had actually covered the trail but getting around these big puddles was easy.  The trail was very smooth and easy to ride on.  I rode right at six miles.

Near the end of my ride Jim called and said he would be coming to our house midday on tomorrow, Saturday. 

Our initial travel plans were to go to two creameries today and another one tomorrow on the way home.  The third one wasn’t really on the way home; in fact, it was near to the other two.   So, when we found out that Jim was coming, we changed our itinerary to include three creamery stops today.

The first one was called Smith Mountain Creamery in Middletown, MD, about 30 minutes away from our hotel.  The people here were very nice and their ice cream was great.  Lynn had a flavor called Monocacy Mud, named after a nearby river.   It was made of chocolate, caramel, and pecans.  I had Sea Salt Caramel.  We both agreed their ice cream was an A.

By the time we had eaten our second cones of the day, we agreed that it would be hard to actually rate all five of the creameries in order.  Plus, our order would have been different.  Suffice it to say that each had great ice cream and some had other perks such as flavored ice cream cones.  At our next stop, Misty Meadow Farm Creamery in Smithsburg MD, for example, I had mine in a chocolate waffle cone.

At Misty Meadow Creamery, Lynn had a chocolate peanut butter milkshake.  I had caramel, sweet and salty in the chocolate cone.   Misty Meadow Farm Creamery was about 30 minutes away from Smith Mountain Creamery.

All of the creameries are off the beaten path.  It makes sense since all are at farms with the cows providing the cream right there.  None were that hard to find, especially with Google’s help.  Our third creamery of the day and fifth of the trip was Windy Knoll Farm Market and Creamery near Chambersburg PA.  It was less than a half an hour from Misty Meadow. 

This stop was a little different because the market had other things to offer such as candies, breads, and other grocery items.  It was run by Mennonite girls who did not wear face masks.  They had some interesting ice cream flavors.  Lynn got a cone of “Triple Chocolate Earthquake” in a pretzel cone.  I started to get “Salty Caramel Crunch” but when we asked what made it crunchy they said it was toffee which Lynn said might have nuts in it.  So I settled for cookies and cream in a sugar cone. 

Once again, the ice cream was delicious.  Every stop on this trip had excellent ice cream and provided us with reason to come back anytime we’re in the neighborhood of any of the five creameries.

The drive from Misty Meadow to Altoona was about a two hour drive.  Though it didn’t rain on us, several of the mountains we crossed were foggy.  Lynn did a fine job of driving and we were in our hotel by 3:30 in the afternoon.  We changed clothes then headed over to my sister’s house where Butch was already waiting for us.

The four of us had a good visit at her house.  Butch had brought some of Ann’s jewelry he wanted Mary K. and Lynn to take.  Mary K. took some and Lynn got the rest to bring to her sister Kay who is doing some kind of craft with this type of jewelry.

Mary Katherine told us she was pretty sure she would be moving to a house near her daughter Kit’s house.  She had told us about this house before.  It is all on one level.  Though I don’t believe she’s signed the paperwork yet, I did get the impression that the seller and she had come to terms.  The four of us plan to visit it in the morning after breakfast.

After visiting at her house for an hour or so, we loaded up in Butch’s Tesla and drove to Marzoni’s Restaurant where we met Colin, Kit, Leo, and Nora Dangler plus Joseph, Christine, and Paxton DeLeo.  The rest of Joseph’s family was away at college.  The eleven of us had a marvelous dinner which featured lots of good conversations and laughs.  For the most part, the four of us just sat back and listened to the younger ones talk.  It was lots of fun.

Of course, I got pictures of everything we did today.  I did leave my camera in Butch’s Tesla but I’ll get it tomorrow.

Lynn and I got back to our hotel around 9:30, making stops on the way there for gasoline and for her McDonald’s sweet tea for tomorrow morning.  It was a very, very good day again.  I am so thankful that I have the opportunity, money, and health to have busy and fun days like today.

All eight adults in our dinner party were vaccinated.  That made things almost normal.  Thank goodness!  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 9                  Infected                   Died

World             135,297,064           2,928,575

US                     31,802,772              574,840

Virginia                632,625                10,451

Augusta County       5,561                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,514,282  (1,683,673 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        43,129  (19,160 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 10, 2021

Our road trip ended today as we came home from Altoona.  After we awoke and loaded up all of our belongings wet met Butch at a bakery, D’lites, in Altoona.  There we had a great breakfast with each of us eating a huge and delicious cinnamon bun.  Butch and I each had coffee and we bought a cinnamon bun for Mary K.  Plus, the store gave each of us a complimentary small cupcake (which all of also donated to MK).  The bill for all of this was under $18.  This was a nice find for the next time we come back to Altoona.

Afterwards we drove to Mary K.’s house and had another good visit with her.  Then, all four of us drove (in two cars) to the house Mary K. plans to buy then on to Kit and Colin’s house.  None of the three of us, Lynn, Butch, or I, had ever been to it.  They have a nice home.  Kit wasn’t there when we got there–she had an interview at her office to hire a new receptionist for her dental practice.  She did return before we left, though.  In the meantime, we had a nice visit with Leo, Nora, and Colin. 

By 11:30 Lynn and I were on the road home.  The drive home was a little over 3 1/2 hours.  As with the rest of our trip, Lynn drove.  Butch had returned my camera when we met and I had a chance to copy my newest pictures from it to Lynn’s laptop while she drove.

The weather was very nice by the time we got to Virginia, considerably warmer than Pennsylvania.  We had talked to Jim a couple of times since he came home from Roanoke in the morning to work on the Gutshall’s lawnmower.  He spent the whole afternoon working on it.

When we got home we learned that Josh had spent the night at the hospital last night.  Apparently he had lost feeling in one side of his body yesterday and the doctors at the hospital wanted to make sure he hadn’t had a mini-stroke.  They did a bunch of tests on him and think now that he had a tiny clot that may have caused it.  He came home this afternoon, thankfully.

We got hamburgers tonight from the food truck at Valley Pike for us and Jim.  He had sharpened the blades on my mower in addition to doing all the work on the Gutshall’s.  After we ate the burgers we took him to Smiley’s for dessert.  Imagine that!

Our final decisions about ice cream were 1) all of the creameries had great ice cream  2) it was great to find five new places to get treats at the next time we are in any of their neighborhoods  3) the variety of flavors varied greatly at the creameries.  For example, it was hard for Lynn to find ice cream at any of them (except Smiley’s) that had chocolate and peanut butter  4) some creameries had much better variety in choice of cones  5) Smiley’s is still #1!

When we got home, I got lots of good picture work done with my pictures from our trip.  I ended up with 150 photos.  Here at home I made backups of each and selected a subset of them for my “Favorites” folder which is displayed as a screen saver on my computer.

We learned today that our friend Gilberto, who is finally making a decent recovery from COVID-19, learned yesterday that his mother had succumbed to it in Mexico.  So sad!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 10                Infected                   Died

World             135,945,439           2,938,750

US                     31,868,478              575,568

Virginia                634,325                10,458

Augusta County       5,571                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,615,336  (1,736,603 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        43,909  (19,539 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

There are now 169 hospitalizations in Augusta County from COVID-19.  Where are they putting them?  A better question is when will this number keep climbing?

The weather forecast for the next week is for highs in the 60’s each day and no rain.  Tomorrow is supposed to be the warmest day with highs reaching the mid-70’s.

April 11, 2021

Today seemed like a typical Sunday in years gone by:  I played the piano for Sunday School, we went to church, had Ann’s family over for dinner, and took a walk in the afternoon.  Of course, all of these events now are tempered by COVID-19.  The piano playing I did was via Zoom.  We did attend church service for the second time this year, though only about 30 others joined us there, nearly all of whom were vaccinated, I’m fairly sure.  We did take our usual two mile walk today in the neighborhood.  For the family dinner, we ate on the back porch then enjoyed watching the kids play in the back yard.

Butch had given to Lynn a huge stash of Ann’s old costume jewelry.  This afternoon, Kay and Donna came over and took some of it and tonight Betsy and Lynn did some work with some of the remaining itemsand Betsy took a few items home with her. 

Augusta County starts back to school four days per week on April 15.  Students don’t attend until then.  However, Henry and Gus have soccer tryouts everyday this week in the late morning and early afternoons.

Lynn has Sirius radio in her car and usually listens to channel 70 which plays old love songs from the 70’s and 80’s.  When we were on our trip this past weekend I heard a song on there I hadn’t heard for decades, “If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words” by Bread.   It brought back memories that I used to play the song many, many years ago.  The song was released in 1971 which makes it 50 years old.  I probably played it in the early and mid 70’s.  When I played a lot back then I never had sheet music, I just played the songs over and over until I knew them.  I guess you’d say that they became part of my “muscle memory.”  What really shocked me today is that in a matter of 20 minutes I could play the entire song again.  I know I haven’t played it in 40 years yet it was still lodged somewhere in my memory.

I think it is so strange that I can resurrect melodies and chords on a piano that have been buried for decades yet sometimes can’t remember what is on tomorrow’s schedule or the name of a person I’ve known for years. 

Lynn’s back is not making much progress, in my opinion.  Lynn herself says that it is much better now but I’m not sure I’d say that.  Tonight, for example, by the time dinner was over her back was exhausted.  She did have to do a lot of standing in order to prepare dinner this afternoon.  By this evening she was in pain.  I ran the electric massage machine on her back for a few minutes before she went to bed which she says helps.  She is just having to live with lots of pain and that’s not what she’s been used to all her life.  I wish it were better.  The physical therapists tell her she’s doing better so maybe this is true but I see the other side of the coin.

This afternoon after Lynn and I had walked I decided to take my bike on the same two mile hike.  Walking you don’t notice the hills but riding my bike I certainly did.  Plus, my bike has some issues I need to get fixed before our big bike hike such as it won’t stay in a lower gear unless I hold the gear lever in place.  Otherwise it defaults to the highest gear (most difficult to pedal).  As if climbing hills wasn’t already tough for me!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 11                Infected                   Died

World             136,619,412           2,948,908

US                     31,918,591              575,829

Virginia                635,552                10,472

Augusta County       5,581                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,718,671  (1,792,546 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        44,585  (20,042 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 12, 2021

Today was a typical but busy Monday, especially in the morning.  It began for me doing my weekly treasurer’s work at Central.  I hadn’t been there in a week so there were lots and lots of bills to be paid plus one credit card to be reconciled.  Plus I had today’s deposit to make.  All went well.

I hustled home and headed to the dump since I wasn’t here on Saturday.  As always, I got our trash plus the Gutshall’s.  That chore also went without a hitch.

Next I decided that it was past time to cut the grass.  I had been charging the battery for over 24 hours so it started up easily.  I didn’t have any spare time because I started at 11:30 and had to be at Central at 1:00 to unload a Blue Ridge Area Food Bank truck.  So I only had an hour to cut but still got 98% of what needed to be cut then.  I got the rest cut when I returned from unloading the Food Pantry truck. 

The weather today was nice but not as warm as yesterday.  Lynn spent time in the pergola with two sets of her friends.  First, the two Cheryls (Kent and Wright) came out this morning and visited with her.  In the afternoon, she and Ginny Bauman walked first then chatted in the pergola.

Lynn wasn’t finished walking, though.  After dinner tonight she and I walked our standard two mile hike.  She got a new FitBit today and wanted to make sure it worked as it should; it did.

There were more cases today of shootings and killings.  It is so disturbing to me that anymore anytime a person disagrees with someone else, police arresting young black men, high school students feeling depressed, or racism taking control of a person’s emotions, the answer seems to be to grab a gun and start shooting people.  Today’s news had a story of a police killing a young black man when he put up a little resistance to the arrest.  Apparently the policeman meant to grab her taser but instead used her revolver.  And, there was a shooting at a Knoxville high school with one person dead.  It is just too easy to access guns, especially those like the AR-15 which can fire multiple bullets in a matter of seconds.  I saw a Facebook post to the far right crowd asking them why they felt safe enough to not wear a mask in public but fearful enough to always pack when they leave home.  Makes no sense.

We found out today that the local health department is now vaccinating anyone 16 and over who wants it.  We think Ann is going to wait until next week to get Henry taken care of so he can go through soccer tryouts and his first day back at regular school (Thursday for Augusta County students) without an interruption.  The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.

On the news tonight was a feature about a new rise in COVID-19 cases in America, especially in Michigan.  The US is back to 70,000 new cases per day.  In Detroit, 40% of the new cases were in people ages 20 through 40.  The UK variant is now the dominant strain.  It is more contagious but not necessarily more fatal to those who get it. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 12                Infected                   Died

World             137,214,246           2,957,205

US                     31,977,893              576,258

Virginia                636,862                10,486

Augusta County       5,580                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,768,777  (1,817,033 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        44,631  (20,073 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Augusta County now has 160 hospitalizations due to COVID-19. 

I found out that the Staunton bike shop, Black Dog Bikes, wasn’t open on Mondays so I couldn’t take my bike in to be worked on.  I plan to take it in tomorrow.  I really need to ride more to get in shape. 

April 13, 2021

Today was exercise day for me.  The weather was perfect for being outside with temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s.  I started with tennis at 10:00 with Rob Cale, Marc Kinder, and Lewis Moore.  We played for a little over a hour and a half, 3 sets, and we switched partners after each set.  I played OK and ended up the day 2 – 1 in sets.  My arm hurt a lot at first though it did get a little better.  I’m hurting again tonight, though.

I had taken my old truck to the Mary Baldwin tennis courts because I put my bike in the back.  Black Dog Bikes didn’t open until 10:00 so I had to wait until after our tennis was done to take my bike there.  I dropped it off.  The bad news is that I was told it would likely take a week or more for it to be repaired.  Oh well, it needs the work.

When I got back home, Lynn wanted to walk so we did our two mile hike.  I’m puzzled as to why yesterday nearly every step ached but today, after playing tennis for an hour and a half, my legs felt good the entire walk. 

In fact, I felt fine when I returned so I later took Betsy’s bike (Lynn’s old one) out for a spin in the neighborhood.  I only rode for about two miles but it felt good.

I also was able to help Ann and Josh by picking up Henry and Gus from their soccer tryouts today at Clymore Elementary School and take them home.  I’m going to do the same again tomorrow.  Tomorrow will be their last day before returning to school four days a week.

Lynn called my cousin Kay Grace this evening because Kay is scheduled to have some major back surgery tomorrow in Roanoke.  She’s supposed to have a plate and four screws inserted.  That sounds painful.  Actually Kay has been in the hospital since Sunday getting prepped for this surgery which is supposed to last several hours. 

The CDC and FDA called for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to be halted temporarily.  Almost seven million people have had the vaccine now but apparently six women developed an issue with blood clots.  One of them died from the clots.  None of our family has gotten the Johnson and Johnson one and the clots have not happened with anyone with the Pfizer vaccine.  This pause may last for days or weeks even though the chance of this happening appears to be less than one in a million.  On the news tonight the point was made that one person has died from this vaccine but 1,000 people die every day from COVID-19.

Lynn and I went to Central UMC tonight to pick up some food for the Aguirre family.  We then drove to their house and gave it to Elizabeth.  Their house is very sad right now because Gilberto’s mother passed away in Mexico due to COVID-19.  He’s not able to go there now.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 13                Infected                   Died

World             137,996,858           2,971,030

US                     32,068,437              577,166

Virginia                638,910                10,506

Augusta County       5,597                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,826,281  (1,853,400 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        44,849  (20,127 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 14, 2021

Today was more boring than the past few, probably due to the weather.  It was overcast and drizzly most of the day with temperatures in the 50’s and low 60’s.  So it was not conducive to doing anything much outside.  Henry and Gus had soccer tryouts despite the weather but fortunately during that time period it didn’t rain.

Lynn had a dentist appointment this morning so I got her to drop me at Central on her way.  I was able to pay some bills and update the Schwab investment spreadsheet for the first quarter.  That was really all I had to do for my weekly bookkeeping work and I shouldn’t have to do more until next Monday morning.

This afternoon Lynn had Physical Therapy.  Our weather app, Dark Sky, said it wouldn’t rain for the upcoming hour so I decided to get a bike ride in.  My ride was 6.6 miles long and VERY strenuous.  I rode up to Mount Pisgah UMC, then on Cider Mill Road to the four-way stop, then went to the Gutshall’s house at 618 Salem Church Road.  Then I came back home on Salem Church, Morningside Drive, and Leaport Road.  This route had multiple huge hills on it including the one from the Gutshall’s house up to Salem Lutheran Church and the real killer, the ride up Morningside Drive near the windmill.  I pedaled the entire route though I stopped several times on the big hills to catch my breath.  When I got home I was exhausted.  Riding 8 miles on the C & O Canal Towpath was nothing compared to these 6.6 miles.  Google Maps says there’s a 400 foot difference between the highest point and lowest point on this hike.  Plus, I had to use Betsy’s bike again because mine is in the shop.  It is the same brand and has the same seat as mine though the handlebars are higher.

Tonight the pause on using the Johnson and Johnson vaccine continues.  The CDC said they recommend holding off so they can examine the data.  Still, there have been less than one case of blot clots for every million people vaccinated.  All were women aged 18 to 48 who got sick within two weeks of being vaccinated.  This has slowed the vaccination rate, of course, in the US though there are apparently still plenty of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines available.

My cousin Kay came through her surgery OK today.  Her son Michael called Lynn and told her she was in more pain than he’d ever seen her but was still already asking to go home.  I hope her pain quickly diminishes. 

Lynn and I wanted to walk after dinner but it was raining.  So we went to Harrisonburg so she could return some shoes to Ross.  On the way back we stopped at Smiley’s.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 14                Infected                   Died

World             138,801,364           2,984,272

US                     32,145,473              577,979

Virginia                640,211                10,510

Augusta County       5,606                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,904,288  (1,896,053 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        45,235  (20,200 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 15, 2021

Today is the traditional tax day (though the deadline was moved to May this year).  I submitted my taxes back on March 1 and received my Virginia refund but am still waiting on my federal refund.  I’ve checked on its progress on the IRS.gov site but it simply says that this refund is being processed.

The weather today was seasonable which means it wasn’t as warm as it has been.  It was mostly sunny but highs were just in the 50’s.  It made for good walking weather, though.  Lynn walked with her friend Ginny Bauman this morning and earlier I took a good 2.5 mile hike around the city of Staunton while Lynn visited with Opal Homan and her aunt Jo Lee Hanger at The Legacy. 

I have to compliment my wife again.  This morning she got an e-mail from the Waynesboro High School ELL teacher that said Pfizer vaccines were available at Augusta Health today for anyone 16 and over.  Juan Pablo, the boy she has been working with in Waynesboro as part of the Migrant Education Program, is 16.  Juan Pablo hasn’t done well with virtual schooling and is failing all of his subjects now.  But Lynn hasn’t given up on him so when she got the e-mail she immediately called his dad and Juan Pablo.  The dad answered; Juan Pablo didn’t.  The father asked Lynn to assist them in getting both of them registered to be vaccinated this afternoon so she did.  And she finally got hold of Juan Pablo on the phone and told him she’d be bringing the registration papers to him this morning.  I went along with her to Waynesboro as she delivered the vaccine registration to Juan Pablo.  His father was at work so she had made the appointment for 3:20 PM.  I hope they both follow through.  I just know that if it hadn’t been for the teacher’s e-mail and Lynn’s insistence these two would not have a chance of being vaccinated.  Lynn called Juan Pablo this evening and he confirmed that both had gotten their first vaccine as she arranged.

Lynn also told Juan Pablo about summer school this year at Waynesboro High.  He’ll need to go to get back on track in school.

After our trip to Waynesboro, we went to the Nationwide Insurance office in Staunton.  The agent there had called me last week when we added the Venza saying she could show us some ways to save money on our bill so we met with her this morning.  Indeed, there were some things we were paying for that we really didn’t need such as rental cars if ours is in the shop.  With four vehicles we do not need a replacement rental car!

From there, Lynn went to The Legacy and I went walking.  I ended up at her vehicle shortly before she finished with her visits with Opal and Jo Lee.  We came on home and, after lunch, she and Ginny took their hike.

She had to hustle because she had an appointment to interpret for a disciplinary hearing at Wilbur S. Pcnce Middle School at 2:00.  She was anxious about this because she needed to be back home by 3:18 when the bus comes with Freddie and Betsy.  All four Gutshall kids had school today for the first time this year but Henry and Gus had soccer practice after school.  Her meeting at Pence was over in plenty of time so she made it home before the bus got here.

I had an unusual task to do during this time period.  Jim had texted us last evening that his Cross Country team had a meet in Charlottesville for which they had scheduled a chartered bus.  He had a lawnmower of Josh’s that he had repaired and wanted to get back to them.  So he schemed to load the lawnmower on the chartered bus, have the bus stop at Target in Waynesboro after the meet this afternoon, and I met him there in my truck to pickup the lawnmower.  It was a crazy scheme but it worked!

We got good news that Gus and Henry both made the Fort Defiance High School soccer teams.  Gus made the JV team and Henry made the varsity.  Both start play on May 11 and have an abbreviated, ten game season with home and away games against the other teams in the Shenandoah District:  Staunton, Riverheads, Stuarts Draft, Buffalo Gap, and Wilson Memorial.

To celebrate both of them making the soccer teams, Lynn and I went to Krispy Kreme donuts in Harrisonburg and got them donuts for breakfast tomorrow.  Of course, we also got our free ones since we’ve got our vaccinations.

When we dropped them off Ann told us Henry is scheduled to receive his first Pfizer vaccine this coming Sunday. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 15                Infected                   Died

World             139,659,156           2,998,743

US                     32,222,130              578,976

Virginia                641,626                10,529

Augusta County       5,605                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,974,166  (1,933,945 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        45,944  (20,605 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 16, 2021

Today was Friday, the first Friday all year that Freddie, Betsy, and Gus have gone to school.  This meant that we were home at 3:18 when the bus arrived.  Actually Gus had after-school soccer practice and Henry had behind-the-wheel driver’s ed so it was just Betsy and Freddie who rode the bus here.

I played three sets of tennis this morning.  The temperature was only in the 50’s but it didn’t seem too cold.  Won Un, Rob Cale, and Danny Anson were the others who played.  My right shoulder keeps on hurting but not enough to quit playing.  I just can’t serve hard at all and when I hit a forehand my arm hurts.  I still had a good time playing and actually won two of the three sets we played.

This afternoon Lynn and I made a run to Costco.  It always amazes me that we can go there with exactly two items on our list and exit with a bill of over $100.  The big extra costs today were geraniums which Lynn bought for our front porch.  She also got some frozen items despite the fact that our four freezers were full.   Yes, we have four freezers for two retired people.  In order to put away what she just bought she had to pitch out items.

Her plan is to make a big pot of potato soup for the Gutshall’s on Sunday night so she asked me to bake a bunch of potatoes today so she could work with cool ones instead of hot ones when she makes the soup tomorrow.  Baked potatoes are one of the few things I can cook decently.

Since today was Friday, it’s no surprise that our dinner consisted of hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike along with their sweet potato fries.  After dinner, Lynn and I took our two mile walk.  It was her second walk of the day as she walked while I played tennis this morning.  The temperature was in the high 50’s and was OK for walking despite a pretty stiff breeze at times.

More mass shootings:  today’s news included information about the gunman who killed eight, including himself, in Indianapolis yesterday.  Here was a post on Facebook this evening I loved:  “147 mass shootings in the U.S. already this year.  Republicans:  Let’s make it EASIER to buy guns.  2 cases of voter fraud in 2020.  Republicans:  Let’s make it HARDER to vote.  I’m tired of the hypocrisy.  You?”

Another story is about the 13 year old being shot and killed by a policeman with his hands up in the air.  Every day there seems to be a story about mass shootings or police quick on the trigger to shoot suspects.  The common denominator to every story is guns.

Twenty seven states have an increase in deaths due to COVID-19 though Virginia is not one of them.  The head of the CDC blames people for letting their guard down and governments for easing their restrictions too soon.  Brazil reports that it is losing 3,000 people every day to coronavirus.  More people are dying there than anywhere else in the world.  Hospitals are short on everything including sedatives. I’m SO glad we canceled our trip there.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 16                Infected                   Died

World             140,476,554           3,010,657

US                     32,300,759              579,891

Virginia                643,220                10,549

Augusta County       5,613                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,105,585  (2,002,007 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        46,980  (21,236 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

After dinner tonight we went to Smiley’s.  The flavor of the month is Death by Chocolate, Lynn’s favorite. 

April 17, 2021

We did our normal Saturday chores in the morning including getting food from Central and taking it to the Aquirre family.  Then I did my weekly trash run.  While I did that, Lynn and Ginny Bauman took a morning walk.

This afternoon, I decided I had to ride my bicycle more but really didn’t want to ride on the hills in our neighborhood.  Lynn wanted to walk again so I put the bike rack on her RAV4 and we drove to Grottoes.  Grottoes is the only flat town in the area.  It has two parks—a city park and Grand Caverns park.  Both of them have bike/walking trails around their perimeters.  The Grottoes city park’s trail is 1.4 miles long and the Grand Caverns trail is 1 mile long.  The two parks are 2.4 miles apart, all level.

We parked at the Grottoes city park.  I rode one lap around its perimeter then rode to Grand Caverns, did a lap around it, rode back to the city park, and rode another lap around it.  By that time Lynn was finishing up her second lap on the 1.4 mile trail so I asked her to pick me up at the Grand Caverns park.  I rode back there and did one more lap around its perimeter then she met me.  All in all, I calculated that I rode 12 miles.  She walked 2.8 miles giving her more than 12,000 steps for the day.

This ride helped my confidence for the Katy Trail ride.  Yes, we’ll be riding a lot more than 12 miles per day but it only took around an hour and a half.  Best of all, neither my legs nor my bottom hurt that much.  In other words, it led me to believe I can do the Katy Trail.  Riding on level ground is much easier than climbing mountains.  The trails around the perimeter of each park were packed gravel like the Katy Trail.

I told Lynn today that I’m not sure why I agreed to do that hike.  It seems like a very selfish thing to do—abandon her and the things I can help out with around here for six days.  It also seems somewhat macho to ride that far.  But I guess the reason I agreed is to prove to myself that I’m not ready for assisted living yet.  I’m still young enough to do physical exertion.  And I will enjoy the camaraderie with the four others, all of whom I like.

I did one favor for Lynn when we got back.  She didn’t like how the solar lights in front of our house weren’t all vertical.  The lights sit on a plastic stake in the ground around six inches long.  I had the idea to replace them with wood stakes several inches longer.  I made the stakes out of a spare board I had in the garage and swapped the plastic ones for the wooden ones.  My plan worked—the lights look better now.

For dinner tonight we decided to put our vaccinations to use.  We went to Cracker Barrel in Staunton and had our usual country ham biscuit dinner.  It was a nice treat and very inexpensive.  We grabbed a Chick Fil A ice cream for dessert.

Lynn called my cousin Kay today; her son Michael had told us that it would be OK to call.  She didn’t pick up but later called back.  She sounded very good, talkative, rational, and laughing at times.  It was good to hear her with a strong voice after the tough two days she has been through.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

April 17                Infected                   Died

World             141,264,098           3,022,247

US                     32,366,165              580,612

Virginia                644,828                10,564

Augusta County       5,619                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,208,823  (2,059,882 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        47,347  (21,292 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

There are still 161 Augusta County residents hospitalized due to COVID-19.  Today we got the bad news that Gilberto’s father had passed away in Mexico due to coronavirus.  His mother passed away just two weeks ago to the same.

April 18, 2021

My brother Butch is 73 years old.  Today, for the first time in his life, he attempted to run a marathon.  Yes, that’s 26.2 miles.  The Athens Marathon is normally a typical run with hundreds of runners, official start and finish, etc.  But in today’s coronavirus world it took on a different spin.  Runners could go anytime during April they wanted and on their own course.  They just had to run the complete distance.  Butch had been training for this for months.  In fact, he was all ready to run in the past four year’s marathons but various events kept him from doing so until this year.  So today was his chosen day to try to accomplish this feat…and he did it.  Here’s what I wrote him:  To complete a marathon at any age is some kind of accomplishment, but to do it at age 73 is worth praise beyond words.  Neither of us will ever know that feeling of satisfaction you must now be experiencing.  We’re proud of you!

It was a much less strenuous day for Lynn and me.  She walked two miles and I played tennis with Henry then rode the bike for just a couple of miles.  Like most Sundays now, it began with Zoom Sunday School for me then in-person church services at Central for Lynn and me.

Also typical of Sundays, Ann’s family came over for dinner.  Henry couldn’t come because his Fort Defiance High School basketball team finally had their end-of-year meeting and celebration of their district championship, the first in twenty five years.  Henry had something else to celebrate today—this morning he got his first Pfizer vaccine.  Hurray!

Lynn fixed potato soup for everyone plus French style green beans.  Betsy can eat both of those since they are meat-free.  Plus she whipped cream and sliced strawberries for a delicious dessert.  From Central this morning we picked up some chicken salad and croissants for those who wanted.  As always, it was a good Sunday meal.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 18                Infected                   Died

World             141,987,018           3,032,205

US                     32,404,454              581,061

Virginia                646,133                10,581

Augusta County       5,623                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,281,878  (2,103,815 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        47,720  (21,592 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 19, 2021

When I started writing this tonight, our internet was out.  This is a very rare occasion.  In fact, in all of the previous 364 nights I’ve written this blog I don’t recall an occasion when we haven’t had our Highspeedlink.net service.  It isn’t fast but has been very reliable.  Perhaps it will come back before I finish.  I believe I can set up my phone as a Verizon hot spot long enough to upload this posting in case it is still down when I am ready to go to bed.

I called my brother this evening to see how he was doing.  Predictably, he said he didn’t sleep well last night due to leg cramps.  But today he had a two hour massage so he was confident that tonight would be much better for him.  He sounded in very good spirits and had a right to be doubly proud of himself for running the marathon yesterday.  I will never, never attempt that.

This was Monday so my day began with Church Treasurer duties.  I paid a few bills, paid the quarterly Virginia tax, and made the Quickbooks deposit that Sam Richardson and I had counted earlier today and delivered to the bank.  I returned to Central shortly after lunch and helped with the Blue Ridge Food Bank delivery.

Around lunchtime I got a call from neighbor Bee Myers.  He asked if I wanted some free mulch.  I had seen in his driveway that he got a huge order last week.  He said it was much more than they needed or wanted and if I would come and get what was left I could have it.  I took him up on the offer, making three trips to his driveway in my truck to load it up then spread it around our house.  Needless to say, I was very tired when that was over.

I also helped Ann’s family out a little today, taking Gus to his soccer practice and Henry to his behind-the-wheel driving lesson.  It gave me a little break from shoveling mulch, especially since my right shoulder is still a source of pain to me.

I confess that I don’t give my shoulder much time to heal.  Yesterday I hit tennis balls with Henry for 30 minutes or so.  Today it was lifting mulch over and over.  Tomorrow I’m playing tennis again with three of my buddies in Staunton. 

On the news today it was reported that over 50% of Americans have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 33% of adults are fully vaccinated.  Every state now has opened vaccines to anyone 16 and over.  I guess the next step is to make sure the vaccines are safe for children and get them vaccinated.  Perhaps herd immunity will then become a possibility.  I certainly hope so!  In the meantime, thanks to Verizon can report today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 19                Infected                   Died

World             142,676,814           3,042,348

US                     32,468,277              581,522

Virginia                647,111                10,595

Augusta County       5,633                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,345,314  (2,137,823 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        47,788  (21,614 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 20, 2021

It was one year ago today, April 20, when I began writing this blog.  When I started, I commented that I was like a reporter writing about a baseball game which had already started when he began reporting.  But my worrisome comment then was I didn’t know what inning the game was in.  And I didn’t know who was going to win.

Now I believe that the game is in the 7th or 8th inning.  After falling way behind at first, my team is now ahead thanks to the excellent work of the researchers who developed the coronavirus vaccines.  The game has been very costly and still the opponent inflicts harm every day on humankind, especially those who haven’t been vaccinated.  I’m not sure the game has just 9 innings, either; I am afraid I’ll be living with COVID-19 in some form for many years to come.

I do believe I’m on the winning team now.  Lynn and I and our immediate family has, thus far, been spared the dangers of the disease.  Our extended families have not been so lucky.  My cousin David succumbed to it.  Lynn’s sister Kay had it and, to this day, does not have her former sense of taste or smell back.

I had written before that tonight would be my last post.  I’ve reconsidered.  I think writing this has been very therapeudic for me and I suppose I’ll continue writing for at least a few more nights.  When I go on my bike trip, May 10 – 15, there’s no way I can write a daily blog because I won’t be carrying any keyboard with me in Missouri.

At this milestone I do look back on the past year as being perhaps the worst of my life in many ways.  I’ve been healthy but we’ve all had to give up so many things, some of which are finally coming back to us now.  For months we didn’t go to any restaurants.  Now we only go on rare occasions despite being fully vaccinated.  We haven’t been inside a movie theatre for well over a year—many of them have gone out of business.  We haven’t seen a live sports event in over a year though perhaps we’ll be able to see some of Gus or Henry’s soccer games next month.  We went for months and months without having any of our children in our house except for very, very brief moments.  No grandchild has stayed overnight with us in over a year.  Our two youngest grandsons, Faron and Coen, have been here only once and that was for a few hours, all outside.  We went without church services for nearly a year though we have been able to attend Sunday morning services the last three weeks.  Zoom was a lifesaver, keeping us in touch with family, Lynn’s occasional school work, and our church work, but is not a good substitute for face-to-face conversation.  Everyone wears masks in public now so you can’t even see a person’s full face anymore.   Both Lynn and I have gained a few pounds; eating becomes a recreation when you can’t do others.   Our grandchildren’s school and children’s work have been much less than desirable. 

There have been a few positives, I admit.  Lynn and I have managed to get along quite well despite seeing more of each other in the past year than any of our previous years of marriage.   Except for her broken foot and now fractured spine she and I have both been healthy without so much as a cold all year.  Our constant prayers for the health of our family have been answered.  The Pergola that Lynn desired and Jim built has enabled us to converse with many different people at socially accepted distance.  Financially we’ve come through this pandemic better off than we started it; we certainly haven’t spent the money on travel that we did prior to March of 2020.  

If I were to look back through my blog, I’d see fear that COVID-19 was going to reach me before I was vaccinated.  I’d see impatience and anger at how slow the roll-out of the vaccine began.  I’d see relief on the days I got my two Pfizer shots.  I’d see frustration that I couldn’t be with either my brother or sister when they were going through tough times.  I’d see boredom with way too many hours spent playing Whirly Word, sudoku, or solitaire.  I’d see a renewed appreciation I have for a fantastic spouse and friend with whom I live.   

The numbers that I’ve posted every day are staggering.  The world has lost over 3 million people to COVID-19.  The US has lost over 580,000, the equivalent of the population of the city of Baltimore or Albuquerque, to covonarivus.   Virginia has had almost 650,000 cases, which means roughly 8% of the population has had it.  Augusta County still has over 160 people hospitalized today and has lost 69 residents thanks to COVID-19.  Throughout the year we saw it getting closer and closer.  Now we hope for it to go away.

It won’t go away as long as there is a substantial percentage of people who won’t get vaccinated.  The news this week said that 20% of the US adults won’t.  Supposedly 43% of Republicans have refused to be vaccinated but only 5% of Democrats.  Why is this a political question?  The question is how do we get rid of COVID-19 and the answer is to roll up your sleeves. 

The State Department released travel advisories today for other countries.  There are four categories of advisories, from Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions to Level 4 – Do not travel.  Guess where Portugal and Spain rate, the two countries we’re supposed to fly to in September?  Do not travel.

Today was a busy day for me.  It started with tennis.  I started hitting around 9:45, played three sets, one of which went to 9 – 7, and finished at noon.  I was quite tired.  I did rebound enough to cut our grass this afternoon and walk two miles with Lynn.  I also played with Freddie for around an hour when his bus came here including basketball, bike riding, and going to Clymore Elementary for him to play on the playground.  I always have a good time with him.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 20                Infected                   Died

World             143,520,018           3,056,428

US                     32,535,378              582,449

Virginia                648,347                10,625

Augusta County       5,640                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,410,736  (2,166,158 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        48,250  (21,689 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

It is interesting to compare this to the April 20 statistics a year ago:

April 20                Infected                   Died

World                 2,422,286              165,924

US                          770,564                41,114

Virginia                    8.990                     300

Augusta County            22                         0

What a year it has been!

April 21, 2021

I wrote this paragraph a year ago, six weeks after we were going through the “shelter in place” order from Governor Northram:  Lynn and I each get a lot of screen time each day.  I don’t know what we’d do without our iPads and MacBook.  Over and over again I hit the refresh button on my MacBook when reading Facebook hoping there will be some new posts.  As of today I have played 17,820 consecutive games of Whirly Word and played 8,311 games of Solitaire on my iPad.  Of course many of these games were played pre-COVID-19 but many, many have been played since March 13.

Despite our vaccinations and beginnings of a back-to-normal life, the statements in that paragraph are still true.  However, my counts are now 23,100 for Whirly Word and 10,618 for Solitaire.  Solving over 5,000 Whirly Word puzzles in the past year is more a testament to my boredom than it is my knowledge of words. 

Today was an unusual weather day.  The morning weather was mild with temperatures in the 50’s.  But by afternoon a front had passed through and the weather became frigid.  There is supposed to be a freeze overnight. 

The mild morning temperatures allowed me to do the weed-whacking I’ve been needing to do.  I also found out that Costco carries the battery I needed for my riding lawnmower but I had to take my old battery in to get a rebate.  So after I did the weed-whacking I took the battery out of my mower.

Lynn and I had several stops to make in Harrisonburg including Costco.  We ended up at the Rockingham County School Board Offices where she had an hour-long interpreting session while I waited in the car in the parking lot.  On our way home we stopped at Smiley’s for ice cream and got home just in time to meet Freddie’s bus.

I had Freddie for a little longer today as Ann took Betsy to dance before picking him up.  It was too cold for us to play outside so he played Wii and watched TV here until Ann came.  During this time Lynn had a Physical Therapy session in Verona.

Henry finished his last behind-the-wheel session today so I guess that means he has a full driver’s license now.  I expect that by the end of the month we will have passed Lynn’s RAV-4 on to the Gutshalls so he’ll have something safe to drive.

One day after the police officer who shot George Floyd was found guilty of 2nd degree murder, there were two more instances today of police shooting and killing a black person.  Why is the solution to so many police interactions to pull their revolver and fire?

The news tonight again stated the demand for vaccines is dropping more.  Though over 200,000,000 shots have been given in America, there are stories of many places with more vaccines than they have willing recipients.  Such a shame.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 21                Infected                   Died

World             144,406,878           3,070,484

US                     32,600,158              583,228

Virginia                649,608                10,640

Augusta County       5,656                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,470,861  (2,198,898 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        48,473  (21,881 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 22, 2021

ABC news today called today’s weather “sprinter” since it was spring with a heavy dose of winter across the US.  The temperature here didn’t get above the 40’s, much too cold to do outside work or walk.  Our geraniums spent another night in the garage and will do so again tonight as the temperature once again drops to below freezing.  The forecast is for much warmer weather next week with temperatures reaching the 80’s by Wednesday.

In order to get in a walk, Lynn and I went to the Harrisonburg mall today and walked about two miles.  The weather inside the mall was much better than that on the outside!

I was able to pick up my bicycle today from the repair shop.  It had multiple fixes so maybe it is ready for a big hike now.  I can’t say the same about myself.  The fellows who are going on the Missouri hike with me have planned a get-together and ride next Tuesday.  I hope I can keep up with them.  If I can’t, then I may decide to pull out.

Jim’s girls’ cross country team at Patrick Henry High School qualified for the state meet this past week and left for the state meet today.  On their way to Leesburg today, they got off I-81 at Verona so they could pick up some face masks Lynn had created for them which had “PH XC 2021 State Meet” on it.  She is so skilled!

Tonight was pizza night from Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird.  It never disappoints us.  It will serve as our dinner for two nights and still have pizza leftover for a lunch snack or two.  We always get their Soprano pizza which is another name for a pizza loaded with the works.

We had both Betsy and Freddie this afternoon after school.  Betsy has dance classes Monday through Wednesday evenings but not on Thursday.  It was too cold for them to play outside, though. 

According to Governor Northram, some of Virginia’s COVID-19 restrictions are going to be eased soon.  The CDC says that 52% of all Americans have received at least one vaccine shot so far.  The CDC is also going to decide tomorrow whether to resume the Johnson and Johnson vaccine or not.  The CDC now says that if you’ve been vaccinated and still contact COVID-19, your symptoms will be lighter and you will be less likely to spread it to others.

We talked with Hal and Diane today.  They gave us some advice as to where we could stay on the Pacific Coast when we come to Oregon in September.  We’ll be traveling to the coast together from Portland.  We agreed to go along with their recommendation which means that our trip is now completely booked (flights, rental cars, and hotels).

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 22                Infected                   Died

World             145,283,674           3,083,542

US                     32,661,770              584,168

Virginia                650,981                10,653

Augusta County       5,662                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,558,769  (2,248,339 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        49,050  (22,230 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 23, 2021

This will come as a surprise:  this morning I watched and listened to a classical music concert.  It was on YouTube recorded yesterday at a live session at the Charleston WV Public Radio station, performed by Harold Brown.  Harold is from Bramwell and is a world renown classical music pianist who studied at the Juliard School.  He is a fantastic pianist though the electronic piano in the radio station didn’t do justice to his music.  He not only played superbly but also gave a very positive interview which included lots of references to Bramwell.  Our family reunion has been held several times at his house.

Becky Allen sent me the link to the concert.  She initially let me know about it yesterday when it was being broadcast live but we couldn’t pick up the Charleston station here.  It was nice to find out that it was recorded on YouTube.  He had called Becky on his way home from Charleston yesterday and told her he was shocked to find out it was being videotaped.

The bulk of my day today was filled with frustration.  It all started when I left home at 10:15 for my noon tennis match so I could pay a few bills and set up the next payroll for Central’s employees before I went to play.  When I logged into QuickBooks there was a new icon which said was for Resubscribing our payroll service.  Knowing that we usually pay Intuit for QuickBooks in April, I thought that I should do this before proceeding with the other tasks.  I quickly got in a section which asked me to login as the main contact person for QuickBooks. 

We had an issue a couple of months ago where I couldn’t get any tech support because Jim Clemmer was listed as the main contact person instead of me.  At that time, we went through several steps to have me replaced as the contact person.  This involved sending Intuit a letter from Jim, a letter from Pastor Won, and a picture of my driver’s license.  However, that apparently never happened and it wouldn’t let me proceed to process the upgrade.

Worst of all, when I clicked on the Resubscribe button it automatically canceled our payroll service.  I didn’t catch this at first and had to leave QuickBooks to play tennis. 

I played about 75 minutes of tennis before one of the guys hurt his back a little and decided to call it quits.  So I returned to Central where I paid the bills and tried to set up the payroll for April 30.  It wouldn’t let me because the payroll service had been cancelled.

Worst of all, there’s no phone number anywhere to call Intuit.  Their tech support is worse than awful.  I tried various ways online, called as if I was going to order new service, and finally got a person on the phone who said he could help.  It took him almost 90 minutes to get our service restored and even then I had to charge the $585 to MY credit card instead of the church’s.  He also said he could help in getting the change made to the account so I would be the contact person.  However, again when we got to the screen for this to happen it asked for documents to be uploaded again so I told him I’d have to wait until next week to do this.

I did process the payroll for April 30 and thought things were somewhat back to normal when a new error message popped up on the screen.  I looked online and found that many others had experienced this same error message.  I tried the suggestions online and nothing worked.  So once again I tried to get tech support.  Guess what—they wouldn’t help me because I wasn’t listed as the main contact person.  I was furious and late for dinner by this time.  It has been several hours since this happened and my blood pressure is still too high.

Actually I had dessert before dinner.  Lynn and I met Jim’s cross country team at Smiley’s where his team enjoyed ice cream.  Lynn had been there earlier in the day with her friend Pat Collins so I got a cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.  Then Lynn and I returned home and ate our burgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.

While I was at Central I put together a box of food to take to the Aquirre family.  We were going to take it to them tonight but they were at church so we’ll take it tomorrow.

The CDC has decided to allow people to receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine again though 15 people have experienced blood clots.  Out of 9 million who took this vaccine this isn’t many but three of them died.  All were women.  If I were a young woman I’d certainly choose Pfizer or Moderna instead. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 23                Infected                   Died

World             146,194,636           3,098,225

US                     32,733,536              585,002

Virginia                652,321                10,666

Augusta County       5,671                       69

April 24, 2021

The weather turned rainy from midday on today so that put a damper on things though the morning was fruitful.  I started the day gathering trash, taking ours and the Gutshall’s to the dump.  Then Lynn and I loaded up the food for the Aguirre family and took it to them.  Instead of coming back home, we went to Staunton where we walked two laps around Gypsy Hill Park before getting some groceries at Aldi’s and coming home.  It was a very successful morning but soon thereafter the rain started and continued the rest of the day.

I used the downtime due to the rainy weather to get my Congregational Prayer for tomorrow written.  Then Lynn suggested that we go to a nursery near Bridgewater.  It was one we’d never been to, about a half hour’s drive from here.  She had been looking for a butterfly bush but the only one she found was at a Waynesboro nursery, looked unhealthy, and they wanted $40 for it so she didn’t buy it.  But today, at the Evergrowin’ Greenhouse she found plenty of them for $6.99 each so we got three.  Both the greenhouse and the butterfly bush were good finds.

Lynn was going to start the long process of embroidering the jackets for Jim’s Cross Country team today but she wanted her sister Kay to help her and Kay didn’t feel well.  Kay was afraid that the stomach bug she had might be contagious so she and Lynn agreed to wait for a while to do the jackets.  There’s no rush.

I also found a way to apply online with Intuit to get the primary contact changed for our QuickBooks account from Jim Clemmer to me.  Now I just have to wait and see if it will be approved. Until it is, I have little hope of getting the error message fixed that I saw yesterday afternoon.  The Intuit people just won’t talk to you if you’re not the primary contact.

Today was Henry’s first day driving without one of his parents with him.  He and Gus went to the Weyers Cave Community Center to play basketball with some friends.  I told Lynn tonight that I think it would be safer for him to be driving the Rav4 so maybe we’ll get that arranged tomorrow night when Ann and Josh come over for dinner.

We went back to the grocery store tonight because Ann told us she would like hamburgers for dinner tomorrow night.  It will be her birthday eve so we let her choose the menu.  We offered to take her family out to dinner but she preferred eating burgers here so that’s what it will be.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 24                Infected                   Died

World             147,038,773           3,112,291

US                     32,788,341              585,875

Virginia                653,326                10,675

Augusta County       5,677                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,773,361  (2,370,074 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        50,633  (23,415 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Augusta County still has 165 hospitalized though the number of daily cases has definitely dropped off a lot.  This is puzzling.  Kay told us today that she will get her second Pfizer shot this coming Tuesday.  At that point, all of the adults in our family will be fully vaccinated.  Yay!

April 25, 2021

This was an eventful Sunday.  It started out with Lynn and I planning a short anniversary trip June 12 – 14.  On our anniversary, June 12, we’re going to drive to Lancaster PA.  On the way we’ll stop at one of the creameries we’ve discovered in Pennsylvania.  We’ll stay at Eden Resort.  Our entertainment will be a Righteous Brothers concert at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster.  That should be fun.

The next day, Sunday June 13, we’ll drive to Delaware with stops at a Delaware creamery and a jams & jellies place before ending up in Lewes at a very nice resort hotel, The Inn at Canal Street.  We’ll be able to walk on the beach and at Cape Henelopen State Park at Rehoboth Beach.  On Monday, June 14, we’ll drive home, perhaps stopping in Arlington on our way.

After making those plans we went to church where we enjoyed a guest minister, Rev. Michael Quayle.  Central has been displaying the Sunday bulletins projected on the wall instead of handing out paper ones and I quickly discovered that today’s bulletin had not been entered on the laptop set for displaying.  So I quickly got it entered so the congregation could see the order of service.  I had the Congregational Prayer during the service.

After Church we came home, ate lunch, then took a short walk.  Lynn was working every spare minute on items for our dinner tonight including making homemade rolls for the hamburgers, preparing deviled eggs, lima beans, and onion fritters.  Ann had asked for these items since it was her birthday dinner though her actual birthday is tomorrow.

Lynn had to return after our short walk to work on the rolls but then she wanted to walk again.  I told her I needed to ride my bike, especially since I had gotten it back from the shop and wanted to make sure it was ready to go.  So she walked and I rode my bike.  Naturally, I added a lot of extra runs on my bike while she walked.  She walked two miles; I’m guessing I rode at least five.  My bike felt great and my legs didn’t hurt too much as I rode.

When we got back it was time for me to run to Smiley’s to pick up Ann’s ice cream cake for our dessert tonight.  We had ordered a salted caramel chocolate chunk cake for her—my favorite.  Indeed, it was delicious and we all enjoyed it.

I grilled the burgers for our dinner while Lynn fixed everything else.  We did have a very nice dinner though we missed Gus who was with some friends at Massanutten Water Park.   After dinner, Henry and I took a ride in the Rav4 so he could see some of its features.  He’s a good driver, I’m sure, and this car should do well for him.  We’re going to pass it along to the Gutshalls later this week for a little under its Kelly Blue Book value.

I did get one important thing accomplished today.  I received another notice from Intuit this morning saying that they didn’t approve my application to be the main contact for QuickBooks because they needed a photo ID for Pastor Won and a letter from him requesting that I replace Jim Clemmer.  Won is on vacation today in New Hampshire but nonetheless I texted him and asked him if he’d take a picture of his driver’s license and text it back to me.  I already had a signed letter from him requesting that I become the main contact from when we tried to get this done back in January.  Later in the day he did text me the picture.  I was able to put together two documents that I uploaded to Intuit—one was not only his letter but one from Jim Clemmer requesting the same and the other was the driver’s licenses for all three of us.  It worked—late this afternoon I got a message that our change had finally been approved.  Combining my original work in January for this plus yesterday’s and today’s work, I’ll bet I spent five hours just trying to get Intuit to change Central’s main contact from Jim Clemmer to me.

Tomorrow when I get to Central I will hopefully get the issue resolved that I ran into on Friday.  As I wrote then, they wouldn’t help me because I wasn’t the main QuickBooks contact.  I am now.

ABC news says that the number of COVID-19 cases for the past seven days is 17% lower than the previous week.  That’s good news.  Now we just need to get more people vaccinated—children and the reluctant adults.

Here are today’s numbers:

April 25                Infected                   Died

World             147,778,110           3,122,311

US                     32,824,129              586,148

Virginia                654,210                10,691

Augusta County       5,682                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,841,006  (2,411,830 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        50,702  (23,452 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 26, 2021

Today is Ann’s birthday.  Wow, we’ve been parents for 44 years!  All three of our children have turned out so well; we’re really lucky.

I had a very tough time in bed last night.  I woke up around 11:00 with chills and upset stomach.  I ended up putting on a second shirt, sweat pants, and socks.  That seemed to calm my chills but I still did not sleep well the rest of the night.  Lynn checked my temperature early this morning which was just under 100o.  However, that was also when I was double-bundled up in clothes and when I finally got up (long after Lynn) my temperature was back to normal.  Lynn hardly ever gets up before me but this morning I was too weak to move.  When I did get up to go to the bathroom I felt very light headed.

This happens to me every year or so though I didn’t find any record of it happening in this blog over the past year.  I get chills, wake up exceptionally weak, and am barely able to move.  It usually lasts for just one day and then I’m back to normal.  I certainly hope it doesn’t happen when I’m in Missouri riding bikes with the other four guys.  After some caffeine and breakfast I felt good enough to keep my appointment with Sam Richardson to count Central’s offering at 9:00. 

After he and I did the count, which only took 30 minutes, I was able to just sit in my treasurer’s chair at Central and take care of lots of items on my list of things to do.  I actually got all of them done by 11:30.  I then picked up a pizza and box of food from Central’s Food Pantry (Food Lion food) for the Aguirre family.

Coming home, Lynn asked if I could walk.  I made it only one mile.  Actually at that point she is the one who suggested we come back home so we did but once I got here I did not feel like going back out to walk.  She did and walked two more miles.  Then she came back and started working on the huge embroidering job Jim had asked her to do for his Cross Country team.  He had gotten something like 15 jackets and wanted them all to be embroidered to indicate each girl’s name, the school name, and the fact that the XC team made the state tournament.  She did a couple of the jackets today.

Meanwhile, I mowed the grass.  It was an easy job for me since I could simply sit and ride.  I didn’t feel like doing much more than that.  At least I got it done.

After dinner we took the box of food to the Aquirre family.  I offered to take Lynn to Smiley’s but she declined.  She’s trying to keep her weight down.  Plus she wanted to work some more on the jackets for Jim’s Cross Country team.  She ended up getting five of the fifteen done today.

I called the hotel we are considering staying at on our way to Kennebunkport and found out it will have its outdoor pool fixed by Memorial Day.  We’re going to be there June 28 so today I made reservations for us there.

The current hotbed for COVID-19 in the world is India.  It is just ravaging that country.  Meanwhile, back here in the US, the CDC is expected to lower the requirements to wear masks outdoors if you’ve been vaccinated.  Plus, the European Union says that they will soon be announcing that any American who has been vaccinated can travel to any country in Europe this summer.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

April 26                Infected                   Died

World             148,448,236           3,132,355

US                     32,874,180              586,531

Virginia                654,929                10,706

Augusta County       5,685                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,911,691  (2,445,766 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        50,790  (23,499 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

We received word today that Rev. Dan Garrett had passed away.   Dan was a pastor at Central from 1996 – 2001.  He performed the wedding ceremony for Ann and Josh. 

April 27, 2021

I won’t be writing much this evening for a very good reason—I am thoroughly exhausted.  Today was not only the hottest day of the year thus far with temperatures in the mid-80’s but it was the day that four of us who are going to ride our bikes on the Katy Trail in May decided to do a training run.  The plan was to ride from John Bauman’s house to Smiley’s in Bridgewater then return.

The distance was only about 20 miles total, which I’ve done maybe a hundred times in my life, but the issue is that there are many, many hills on the back roads we took.  I swear it is uphill both to and from Bridgewater.  This training event clearly pointed out that the other guys, Jim Printy, John Bauman, and Bill Bushman, are clearly in better shape for riding on hills than I am.  Time after time they rode on ahead of me until I couldn’t even see them.  They were kind to wait on me later on but I was certainly the weak link. 

And tonight I’m feeling it.  My legs hurt, my arms hurt, my hands hurt, and my shoulders hurt.  The one part of my body that I thought would be hurting—my butt—is actually OK.  Maybe it hurts and I just can’t tell because the rest of me is aching so much. 

We started at 1:00 from John’s house and didn’t get back until 5:00.  Not all of that time was spent peddling.  At Smiley’s, for example, we took at least a half hour to enjoy our ice cream and relax. 

I thought I was prepared.  My bike was serviced last week and, truth be told, performed flawlessly.  Today was sunny the entire day and there was little shade but I was well sunblocked.  I had installed a new water bottle holder on my bike in the past week and tried out a water bottle that had been given to me years ago.  It was a complete failure.  I put lots of ice and cold water in it when I left home; by the time we were 30 minutes into the trip the water was hot.  I plan to throw it away when I have the energy to cross to the other side of the room where I can see it.  I ended up buying water at Smiley’s and that helped tremendously.

It was SO hot!  The pavement just radiated the heat.  I kept telling myself that the Katy Trail is flat, shady, and crushed gravel, not hot pavement.  The other guys assured me that our 20 miles up and down hills today was more work than 40 miles on the rail trail.  I hope they’re right because many, many times today I thought of telling them that I was going to back out of the Missouri trip because I held them up so much.  I also thought of calling Lynn numerous times and asking her to come and get me and take me to my truck so I could come back and get my bike but I managed to make it the whole way.

I can hardly lift my fingers to type tonight so forgive any typos.  I hope I won’t be spending all evening in bed fighting leg cramps though I am certainly expecting that to happen.  I wasn’t even the oldest person in our foresome—Bill Bushman is.  There were a few hills when I just had to walk my bike.  I don’t apologize for that.  I like the quote Lynn and I got from a lady when we were riding in Wheeling once.  She said “I’ve never met a hill yet that I couldn’t push my bike up.”

Before bike riding today, I had a leisurely morning.  For the first time, I took Henry, Gus, and Freddie to school today because Josh had an appointment for an echocardiogram.  Betsy rode the bus.  That all worked out well.  Lynn continued her work on the jackets for Jim and also had both an interpreting session via Zoom for Rockingham County Public Schools and a one-hour long webinar. 

We were both too tired to fix dinner so we went into Staunton where Lynn got a few things at Kroger than we got food from Chick Fil-A for dinner.  We brought it back home and ate it though neither of us was vey hungry.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 27                Infected                   Died

World             149,313,577           3,148,020

US                     32,926,421              587,373

Virginia                656,034                10,724

Augusta County       5,696                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,968,441  (2,477,096 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        51,173  (23,728 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Sorry I can’t write any more because I am pooped!

April 28, 2021

The past three days have led me to experience a wide variety of feelings regarding my health and well-being.  Two days ago, after my incident with chills the night before, I felt extremely weak all day.  Yesterday, after the four-hour bike ride in extreme heat, I was as exhausted as I recall being in decades.  Today, I felt the best I have felt in ages. 

I played two hours of tennis this morning with Rob Cale, Danny Anson, and Marc Kinder.  I think I could have played even more.  The temperature was in the 70’s and it just felt good.  I’ve been playing with a very sore shoulder for weeks which really limits my ability to serve.  Today my shoulder didn’t hurt much at all.  I wish I could report that my level of play was heightened but, strangely enough, I think I played worse today than I have all year.  We played a set with each possible set of partners, as usual.  Today my record was 1 – 2.  I didn’t mind since it just felt so good to be outside playing and feeling good.

I had enough energy after playing tennis for two hours that I came home, ate lunch, and tilled the garden.  We’re not sure what we’ll be planting this year since the deer have ravaged all hopes of having fresh tomatoes the past two years.  Perhaps we’ll just plant some kind of flowers and hope they don’t eat them, too.

I got some additional exercise today from 3:20 – 5:20 because Freddie was here.  He is so much fun to be around!  Today I asked him to do some tough mental addition problems for a first grader such as 15 + 15.  He quickly said 30 and when I asked him how he did it he explained that he added the two tens first then the two fives, then put them together.  Then I asked him was 16 + 17 was.  He said 23 at first but when given a second chance he correctly said 33. 

In addition to doing math, we also played Wii (where I got destroyed playing baseball and tennis), then loaded up our bikes on the old truck and drove to Clymore Elementary School where we rode literally all the way around the school then all the way around Stewart Middle School plus played on the playground. 

To top it off, tonight Lynn wanted to walk after dinner because she hadn’t walked any today.  We walked our usual two mile hike, getting in just as it got dark.

For dinner tonight we got take-out from Flying Pizza in Mount Sidney. We split a calzone (though Lynn ate very little) and also enjoyed an appetizer of panini. It was the first time we’d tried the panini and we loved it.

Lynn got the rest of the girls’ jackets embroidered for Jim’s Cross Country tennis team today.  Now she just has to do the two coaches’.  She is amazingly talented and smart.  And she has a wonderful heart.  I am so, so lucky!

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 28                Infected                   Died

World             150,135,207           3,161,718

US                     32,976,996              588,189

Virginia                657,174                10,735

Augusta County       5,707                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,018,570  (2,506,040 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        51,844  (24,301 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Kay has an appointment for her second Pfizer vaccination tomorrow morning.  That will mean that all of the adults in our immediate family have received both shots.  Hurray!

April 29, 2021

Lynn and I had a very successful morning today.  She did a couple of loads of laundry (as she does most days) then we left for Harrisonburg.  Our first stop was at the bank.  The downtown branch of Wells Fargo has been closed since the pandemic started and that’s where our safety deposit box is so we had to make an appointment to get to it.  I needed to get there in order to drop off our Toyota Venza car title and pick up the Toyota Rav4 car title so we can reassign it to Ann. 

The next stop was to walk on the walking trail at Rockingham County’s Crossroads park.  It was just a one mile loop around the park, but we had never walked on it.  It wasn’t sunny though the temperatures were fine so the walk was enjoyable.  In lots of sunlight the walking trail wouldn’t have been so enjoyable because there’s no shade.

Next we went to Cub Run Elementary School where Lynn gave three bags of books and puzzles to a teacher there.  She had been carrying the books in the back of her car for weeks to give away and we got it done without an incident.  Then we went to Aldi’s, bought some groceries, the bank where we got some cash, then onto another short walk.  Harrisonburg recently opened the Northend Greenway which is a nice walking trail not too far from where I worked at the Rockingham County School Board Office.  This trail was also very nice but also quite short—only 0.6 mile long.  We did pick up 1.2 miles by walking it out and back.

We had a leisurely afternoon.  Lynn worked on her final two jackets for Jim—his and the assistant coach’s.  Then Freddie and Betsy came and stayed with us until Ann picked them up.  Freddie and I played Wii where once again he annihilated me in both tennis and baseball.  The kid is good!  There are some things that, as a grandparent, I’d let my grandchildren win.  When I play Freddie on the Wii, I try my best to beat him and don’t even come close.  He won the first baseball game by the slaughter rule and beat me 7 – 0 in the second.  In tennis, I may have gotten two points in four games. 

Freddie and Betsy helped Lynn and me plant a few things today.  Freddie and I planted the three butterfly bushes that we got last week.  We put them in three of the four corners of our garden.  Lynn and Betsy planted zinnias around the light pole and mail box in the front yard.  Here’s hoping they all do well!

After another good dinner (Lynn fixed fajitas and salad), Lynn suggested that we walk again, so we did our standard two mile walk.  My step total, based on my iPhone, was over 13,000 steps today.  That’s the most I’ve had in ages.  I do believe that I got more exercise in both of the previous two days but my step today was higher today because I had my phone in my pocket the entire day.  Yesterday, I didn’t have it on me when I played two hours of tennis.  And the previous day, it didn’t record my bike pedals as I rode for 4 hours.  But 6 miles of walking is reminiscent of what we did a year ago before Lynn broke her foot.  I was in so much better shape then!

Kay got her second vaccination today, a cause of celebration.  Now all of the adults in our family have had two Pfizer shots.  Henry gets his second one in a couple of weeks.  I am at the point now where I am angry about those who refuse to get vaccinated.  They prolong this pandemic.  If everyone would do the reasonable thing and get vaccinated we could put COVID-19 behind us.  Most people 65 and over have had their shots but the percentage of younger people who have is less than 50%.  The shots are available—many without needing an appointment—but stupid people still aren’t getting them.  The news tonight said that 75% of Congress had been vaccinated.  Give me one good reason why that’s not 100%!

 Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 29                Infected                   Died

World             151,082,468           3,177,719

US                     33,038,616              589,167

Virginia                658,341                10,751

Augusta County       5,712                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,093,967  (2,550,627 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        52,325  (24,697 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Here’s something to celebrate—the last person to die from COVID-19 in Augusta County succumbed on April 6.  We’ve now gone 23 consecutive days without a death.  But America still has nearly 1,000 die each day from it and Virginia has lost 350 residents since April 6.  Poor India now has over 3,000 dying each day from it and has had over a million new cases in just the past three days.

April 30, 2021

Today was the windiest day I can ever remember here.  The winds were all day long, constant, and brisk with speeds of 25 – 30 miles per hour.  It was hard to do anything outside.  In order to get our walking in today, Lynn and I drove to the Valley Mall and walked about 3 miles multiple times around the mall plus down to Target and back. 

Lynn had Physical Therapy this morning.  While she had that, I went to Central and did my usual treasurer’s jobs.  At least today everything went smoothly unlike a week ago.  I updated the Treasurer’s manual I wrote; it now is 96 pages long.

After that and a quick stop at the Staunton library to pick up a book Lynn had reserved, I came home, ate lunch, then headed to Harrisonburg with Lynn.  We didn’t do anything else in Harrisonburg except walk though we did make a stop at Smiley’s for a mid-afternoon ice cream treat.

We had to be back in time for the school bus, of course.  Betsy and Freddie were both here for a while but Josh came fairly soon thereafter and took them on home.  Freddie and I had some time to play some Wii games.

Lynn is still working on Jim’s jackets.  All her embroidery work has been done but now she’s cleaning out the inside of the embroidery so not only will the jackets look good from the outside, they’ll also look good from the inside.  Her work is superb.  She still has about a half dozen to go before we can take them to Jim.

After the kids left, Lynn and I went back to Central and loaded up two boxes of food to take to the Aquirre family.  Central had so much food!  We took it straight to their house.  Gilberto joined Elizabeth outside to meet us.  He looks much, much better now.  Elizabeth said his last few doctors’ appointments are coming up in the next two weeks.  Hurray!

From their house, we drove to Valley Pike.  After all, today is Friday, and Lynn likes Old School burgers on Fridays.  We got our usual plus sweet potato fries.  After we ate back at the house, we worked a bit watering and planting some of the flowers around our house.  Then Lynn returned to her jacket work.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

April 30                Infected                   Died

World             151,965,915           3,192,060

US                     33,098,234              590,002

Virginia                659,590                10,770

Augusta County       5,724                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,190,879  (2,610,676 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        52,877  (25,018 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

ABC news said that 40% of adults in America now have been fully vaccinated.  However, after I commented yesterday that Augusta County had gone 23 days without a death due to COVID-19, another person died today in Augusta.