Daily Archives: April 30, 2021

May 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

May 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 1                   Infected                   Died

World             152,782,495           3,205,670

US                     33,145,463              590,700

Virginia                660,553                10,777

Augusta County       5,727                       70

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 2, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 2                   Infected                   Died

World             153,478,505           3,216,128

US                     33,145,463              590,700

Virginia                661,314                10,791

Augusta County       5,726                       70

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 3                   Infected                   Died

World             154,173,758           3,226,727

US                     33,230,136              591,512

Virginia                661,925                10,807

Augusta County       5,726                       70

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, the good news is not world-wide: 

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

May 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 details:

May 4                   Infected                   Died

World             154,947,338           3,239,744

US                     33,271,708              592,354

Virginia                662,696                10,823

Augusta County       5,730                       70

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 5                   Infected                   Died

World             155,813,271           3,254,877

US                     33,320,979              593,134

Virginia                663,538                10,844

Augusta County       5,743                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 6, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 6                   Infected                   Died

World             156,654,032           3,268,534

US                     33,364,941              593,970

Virginia                664,394                10,861

Augusta County       5,748                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 7, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 7                   Infected                   Died

World             157,525,451           3,283,197

US                     33,418,437              594,908

Virginia                665,332                10,874

Augusta County       5,756                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 8, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 8                   Infected                   Died

World             158,295,493           3,295,856

US                     33,452,499              595,574

Virginia                661,111                10,885

Augusta County       5,774                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 9, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 9                   Infected                   Died

World             158,954,447           3,306,240

US                     33,476,803              595,812

Virginia                666,650                10,895

Augusta County       5,776                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 10, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 11, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 12, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 13, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

May 14, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 14                 Infected                   Died

World             162,500,854           3,370,362

US                     33,657,689              599,265

Virginia                669,219                10,991

Augusta County       5,814                       71

            Vaccinated

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

            Augusta County        Data not available due to server maintenance.

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

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

May 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 15                 Infected                   Died

World             163,161,480           3,382,985

US                     33,695,503              599,844

Virginia                             Data not available

Augusta County                Data not available

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                                  Data not available       

            Augusta County                    Data not available

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

May 16, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 16                 Infected                   Died

World             163,698,954           3,392,776

US                     33,713,089              600,139

Virginia                670,184                11,018

Augusta County       5,820                       71

            Vaccinated

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

            Augusta County        Data not available

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

May 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 17                 Infected                   Died

World             164,262,507           3,403,994

US                     33,747,391              600,529

Virginia                670,456                11,029

Augusta County       5,825                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 18                 Infected                   Died

World             164,879,264           3,418,033

US                     33,774,153              601,311

Virginia                670,834                11,042

Augusta County       5,827                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 19. 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s improving coronavirus statistics:

May 19                 Infected                   Died

World             165,549,323           3,431,495

US                     33,802,324              601,949

Virginia                671,325                11,048

Augusta County       5,838                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 20, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 20                 Infected                   Died

World             165,835,297           3,444,303

US                     33,833,181              602,616

Virginia                671,916                11,068

Augusta County       5,843                       72

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 21, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 21                 Infected                   Died

World             166,436,464           3,456,590

US                     33,858,908              603,373

Virginia                672,312                11,074

Augusta County       5,849                       72

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 22                 Infected                   Died

World             167,029,906           3,468,045

US                     33,880,968              603,868

Virginia                672,973                11,097

Augusta County       5,857                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 23, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 23                 Infected                   Died

World             167,516,369           3,478,187

US                     33,896,660              604,087

Virginia                673,029                11,106

Augusta County       5,861                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 24, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 24                 Infected                   Died

World             167,979,680           3,486,961

US                     33,922,937              604,416

Virginia                673,105                11,116

Augusta County       5,870                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 25, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 25                 Infected                   Died

World             168,513,226           3,499,417

US                     33,947,189              605,208

Virginia                673,759                11,137

Augusta County       5,870                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 26, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 26                 Infected                   Died

World             169,067,580           3,511,748

US                     33,971,207              606,179

Virginia                674,082                11,143

Augusta County       5,874                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 27                 Infected                   Died

World             169,615,295           3,524,490

US                     33,999,680              607,726

Virginia                674,439                11,152

Augusta County       5,879                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 28, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 28                 Infected                   Died

World             170,113,252           3,536,897

US                     34,022,118              608,946

Virginia                674,843                11,156

Augusta County       5,884                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 29, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

May 29                 Infected                   Died

World             170,606,970           3,547,757

US                     34,034,505              609,416

Virginia                675,165                11,160

Augusta County       5,892                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 30, 2021

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

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

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

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

Here are the COVID-19 numbers for today:

May 30                 Infected                   Died

World             171,096,112           3,558,173

US                     34,043,068              609,544

Virginia                675,538                11,186

Augusta County       5,901                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 31, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 31                 Infected                   Died

World             171,455,727           3,564,764

US                     34,113,146              609,767

Virginia                675,538                11,186

Augusta County       5,901                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

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