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.