August 2021: Life in the COVID-19 Era

August 1, 2021

Tonight things are quiet in our house for the first time in three nights.  Jim and his boys are back home safely and Ann and her family are at their house.  We ended the family get together with ice cream at Smiley’s this afternoon.  This was the last meal Lynn and I needed to eat after eating a big breakfast and lunch. 

Lynn had fixed a big breakfast again.  Yesterday she made waffles using the kids’ waffle maker which makes waffles in the shape of an elephant, lion, and giraffe.  Today she made pancakes and had the little boys help her add chocolate chips to them.  Neither boy is a big breakfast eater so getting them to eat just some of these treats was a success.

After breakfast we broke our routine and did not go to church.  Instead, we had Ann drop Betsy and Freddie off at Clymore Elementary School where they met Jim, boys, and us.  The playground there was perfect and we were the only ones there.  Clymore has three playgrounds; they played on all of them. 

Our next stop was at Gypsy Hill Park for feeding the ducks.  Faron was so tired he slept through the entire activity.  Jim and I took turns staying in the car with him while the others fed the ducks and swans at the park.

We returned home and ate a big lunch.  Lynn made a huge batch of cheese casadias and we had leftover rotini salad from yesterday.  Plus, Ann and Josh brought eight bag lunches from Central which included fruit, potato chips, chicken salad sandwiches, and cookies.  After lunch we just hung out here until we went to Smiley’s.

We had two house issues this weekend.  First, when we went to the party someone left open the freezer drawer to our main kitchen refrigerator.  When we got back here several things had thawed and had to be thrown away.  Then today, when we were at the park, apparently one of the commodes got stuck and ran the well dry.  With everyone hanging out this here this afternoon the water cut off several times.  Tonight, with everyone gone except Lynn and me, it seems to be back to normal.  Despite these two issues, it was a wonderful weekend.  It was so good to have Faron and Coen stay with us.  Plus, everyone got along very well. 

Tonight, after everyone had gone, Lynn and I went into Gypsy Hill Park again and walked two laps.  I ended up the day with over 11,000 steps.  Lynn got her 10,000 in.

I took over 300 pictures this weekend, mostly of kids.  I’ve already got them backed up and on my website.

I’ve been too busy with family to keep up with COVID-19 or other news this weekend.  Here are today’s numbers:

August 1              Infected                   Died

World             198,972,179           4,239,621

US                     35,768,924              629,380

Virginia                694,384                11,532

Augusta County       6,031                       80

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,446,433  (4,614,836 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 72.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,070  (35,048 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

As usual, the Virginia infections and deaths were not updated since this is a weekend.

August 2, 2021

Today was a day to get back in the groove after such a busy weekend.  I was asked to help count at Central so I did and got a few of the other tasks done there before I had to come home by 11:30 because Lynn had errands to run and we had Freddie for the morning.  Since we’re at the beginning of the month, there are many bookkeeping chores to do.  I only got one of the four church bank accounts reconciled, the general fund, though it is always the toughest one to get through.

We had Freddie because Ann had taken Henry and Gus to Charlottesville to shop for school clothes and he didn’t want to go.  Lynn had her friend Cheryl Wright over to visit but she said Freddie would be fine on his own using my iPad.  When I got home, he and I played a few games of Wii then ate lunch.  By that time, Ann had texted to say she was running late coming home from Charlottesville and wanted me to get Betsy from Helping Hands at Covenant Presbyterian Church at 1:00.  I did and brought Betsy back here for lunch.  Then she and Freddie waited here until Ann picked them up.

I didn’t get much done at home today though I did make a run to the trash dump.  I also did more work on the pictures that I had taken this weekend, selecting a subset of the 314 pictures for my Favorites folder.

After dinner tonight, we walked again in Gypsy Hill Park.  The weather was the best for walking we’ve had in ages.  It was cool with a gentle breeze.  I managed to get just over 10,000 steps in today.  Lynn got almost 12,000.  Not bad for two old people!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics including an update for Virginia we haven’t had since Friday:

August 2              Infected                   Died

World             199,547,478           4,247,939

US                     35,884,940              629,840

Virginia                697,939                11,534

Augusta County       6,055                       80

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,457,075  (4,618,913 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 72.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,107  (35,063 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 3, 2021

I slept OK last night, the weather this morning was in the high 60’s and overcast, so my tennis game should have been fine today.  Not!  I lost two of the three sets I played and almost lost the third before coming back from a 2 – 5 deficit to win 7 – 5.  My backhand was fine but volleys, serve, and forehand stunk.  I don’t know why.  I wish I did.

This afternoon I was quite busy.  I went to Central to do more first-of-month tasks before my 2:00 meeting with representatives from First Bank about our church’s endowment.  I was able to get all four bank accounts reconciled and the two end-of-July reports done right before the meeting.   The meeting lasted for 90 minutes and mainly consisted of Tom Davis talking investment-speak with the three First Bank people.  Basically they just wanted to know if we wanted them to change any of our investment strategies with the endowment account they manage.  They charge high fees but the account has been super successful in the past two years.

As soon as I got back, Henry came over with a ton of math problems he had been assigned to do before Governor’s School starts next week.  We got several done but have more to do which we’re going to work on tomorrow.  He said he’d already spent about 20 hours on the assignment.  Basically I think the Governor’s School people just want to make sure all their students have had good background for Calculus.  I discovered that there were several topics that Henry just didn’t have in the Pre-Calculus course he took at Fort Defiance High School.  I’m not blaming his teacher because last year he had in-person school only two days a week for the most part.  COVID-19 did a number to his math preparation.  I also think that block scheduling reduces the amount of math a student covers in a course.  I’ve never been a fan of it for math classes.  In Henry’s case, at least he catches on quite quickly.

After a quick supper, Lynn and I went to Smiley’s since this week’s flavor of the week is Lynn’s favorite, Death by Chocolate.  As usual, she got a small milkshake and I got a waffle cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.  Then we went to the nearby Bridgewater Park and walked.  I had lots of steps from this morning’s tennis but she didn’t so we walked until she got her 10,000 steps.  I ended up with 12,000 for the day.  As usual, not bad for two old people.

Lynn and I had previous booked two nights near Murfeesboro NC for their Watermelon Festival this coming Thursday and Friday nights.  Today we decided to cut that back to just Friday night.  On Saturday we’re going to walk in the 5K that is part of this festival.  It’s about three hours from here so we’ll go down early Friday morning.  The craft show starts at noon and that’s what Lynn wants to see the most.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:’

August 3              Infected                   Died

World             200,231,329           4,258,303

US                     36,048,572              630,493

Virginia                699,342                11,536

Augusta County       6,065                       80

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,470,305  (4,623,725 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 72.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,184  (35,092 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 4, 2021

Henry came over this morning to do more math work on the huge assignment he had for the summer.  We spent another couple of hours on his work.  I don’t do the work for him, I just do it along with him and we compare answers before he submits them.  He was assigned 500+ units to complete, each with three or four problems.  He has around 30 more to go before next week, mostly in trigonometry.  He was actually given this assignment at the beginning of the summer but didn’t open his school e-mail to find out about it until last week.  Since then he’s been busy.

I got a very strange phone call this morning.  It was from Mike Conner, principal at Stewart Middle School.  He said that a 7th grade math teacher had just resigned and he was desperate.  Would I consider filling in until someone else could be found?  I was really caught off guard.  I put him off, mainly because Betsy is a 7th grader this fall at Stewart.  I certainly don’t want or need a job at this point in my life, especially one that pays just $150 per day.  But I don’t want Betsy’s math teacher at the beginning of the year to just be a warm body who knows nothing about mathematics.  As I write this I am full of anxiety about this situation.  I’ll decide by tomorrow morning.  As of this writing I’m leaning to not taking the offer.

We’ve had more trouble with our DISH connection so today a technician came to help resolve it.  Our televisions will be working just fine then suddenly we’ll get an error message that the signal has been lost between the Hopper (dish receiver) and Joey (wireless access point).  The technician was supposed to be here between 12:00 and 2:00 but didn’t make it until after 3:00.  But, to his credit, he replaced several parts, none of which fixed the issue, then decided it was the wire from the dish on the roof to the Hopper in the basement which needed to be replaced.  This would have been a very tough task, weaving it through several walls and openings, but he had an idea to move the disk to a pole below our patio.  It took him until after 7:00 to get the job done, with my help, but it appears to have done the trick.  I certainly hope so.  This has been a royal pain lately.

Lynn and I had planned to go to Costco then out to dinner in Harrisonburg tonight but with the Dish job taking so long she ended up going to Costco by herself while I worked with the installation of the new satellite receiver and the cable from it to the basement.  Maybe we’ll go out tomorrow evening.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 4              Infected                   Died

World             200,930,643           4,268,898

US                     36,175,613              631,299

Virginia                701,059                11,541

Augusta County       6,073                       80

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,486,377  (4,629,762 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 72.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,256  (35,119 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

The number of cases still is increasing all over the US but the number of deaths isn’t increasing nearly as quickly as it did before vaccinations came.  Those who are vaccinated get much less severe cases of COVID-19.  So why do people still refuse to be vaccinated?

August 5, 2021

After contemplating the matter overnight, I decided this morning that I really couldn’t accept the offer to teach Betsy’s 7th grade math class.  Although they only wanted me to fill in until someone else could be found, I already have way too much on my calendar that I’d have to give up or alter.  Plus, although I would enjoy the teaching part, I would not enjoy managing math classes of 7th graders and grading papers.  On my way to Staunton early this morning I called the principal of Stewart Middle, Mike Connor, and told him.  He understood.

I played four sets of tennis this morning.  I guess I played OK, not great, and won two of the four sets.  The four of us:  Won, Marc, Pat, and I are pretty evenly matched though our styles of play vary greatly.  Won is a hard hitter.  Today his hard hits had a difficult time finding the court.  Marc is a lefty with lots of spin and a tough serve to return.  Pat has the worst strokes of anyone I play tennis with yet is the toughest player to beat because 1) he can move very well  2) he is very steady, getting everything back and 3) his reactions when he plays the net are super quick.  I enjoy playing with them.

No sooner than I came home Henry came over to do more math.  He worked for a couple of hours then came back after dinner for a couple more hours.  I really admire his work ethic and his math ability—he is a quick learner for the new material. 

His assignment, which is all done online using his Chromebook, is 563 different units of Pre-Calculus.  Each unit represents a separate math skill.  He began by taking a pre-test.  The problems are not multiple choice.  If he got the pretest problem correct it marked him complete for that unit.  But the pretest contained lots and lots of math he hadn’t taken.  In fact, it contained lots of material no student would take in a Pre-Calculus class.  So, no surprise, after the pretest he had many units to complete.  For each unit he has to complete, an example problem is provided then he is required to answer three problems correctly similar to the example.  Every twenty or so units he is given a test on the units he completes.  None of the problems are multiple choice.  Some are quite difficult and may take ten minutes per problem to solve.  He is determined to get them all done before school starts next Tuesday.  They are due the Sunday after that.  By the time he left tonight, he had finished and passed tests on 537 of the 563 units, had completed 14 more units and will be tested on them after six more units are complete, leaving 12 units not attempted yet.  We should be able to knock them out on Sunday.

I really understand why he was given this assignment, as tough as it is.  His Governor’s School class this fall will have in it students from seven high schools (Fort Defiance, Buffalo Gap, Riverheads, Stuarts Draft, Wilson Memorial, Staunton, and Waynesboro).  This means students come from seven different Pre-Calculus backgrounds.  Having them complete the 563 units means all students will be starting at the same level.  I’m betting that some of the students (maybe even most of the students) won’t have completed all 563 units.  He will.

As I said previously, I don’t work the problems FOR him, I work them WITH him and we compare answers.  It has surprised me that I’ve recalled as much of this math as I have.  And I will say that the software is well written in that it recognizes different equivalent forms of the same answer. 

After he left this afternoon, I went to Costco to get groceries for the Central Food Pantry.  They needed sugar, coffee, and tea.  I got them all (100 pounds of sugar, 11 coffee containers, and 9 boxes of tea bags) using the church’s tax-free membership and took them to Central.

Well, taking them to Central wasn’t as quick as it should.  For the second day in a row, and maybe more than that, traffic between Staunton and Harrisonburg on I-81 was backed up due to a trucking incident.  This time it was an 18-wheeler on fire on the exit ramp to Verona.  On the way I saw a tractor-trailer wrecked laying completely upside down near Mount Crawford.  Driving on I-81 anymore is awful.

Lynn and I finally got to eat dinner out tonight.  We’d tried for the past two nights and it just didn’t work for various reasons.  We went to the Bistro in Staunton where Lynn had a $10 off coupon.  She had her favorite there, Bistro Fries involving French fries, cheese, and bacon.  I had a chicken sandwich and chips. 

The hot news nowadays has to do with school masking.  According to the CDC, all students and teachers are expected to mask up regardless of their vaccination status thanks to the rapid spreading of the delta variant of COVID-19.  But in many places in the country, the public is objecting to this, especially in Republican states.  In our area, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, and Rockingham County have agreed to follow these recommendations.  Supposedly the Augusta County School Board is meeting tonight to decide.  I’m sure there will be plenty of right-wingers there objecting.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 5              Infected                   Died

World             201,610,588           4,278,667

US                     36,283,755              631,829

Virginia                702,819                11,546

Augusta County       6,088                       80

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,503,629  (4,636,202 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 72.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,331  (35,143 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 7, 2021

We slept well at the Hilton Garden Inn, as we usually do.  Lynn’s back has trouble with some mattresses, including our own, but seems to do fine at most hotels.  We had to get up and get out early in order to grab breakfast and make it to the 5K run/walk in Murfreesboro.   The big issue is that when we were ready to take things to our vehicle, it was pouring rain.  The forecast was not good—80% chance of thunderstorms all morning.  We wondered if the 5K would still be held but the Watermelon Festival website had nothing on it.  The entire area had a flash flood watch.

As a result, we checked out of the hotel, loaded our belongings, and drove to the nearby Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  We had a fine breakfast there and left in plenty of time to make it to Murfreesboro by the time packet pick-up was scheduled for the run/walk.  Since we registered early, we each got t-shirts when we checked in.  The rain was only coming down lightly at that point and we hoped it would not get worse by the 10:00 start.

There were fewer than 100 people in the 5K.  Fortunately, the rain was nearly stopped when the race started but we each had ponchos in our pockets just in case.  We were surprised, and a little disappointed, to quickly discover that nearly every other person was a runner, not a walker like we were.  One mother and her daughter were walking and we were soon ahead of them so at least we figured out we wouldn’t be the last two to cross the finish line.

There were plenty of people who assisted with the 5K.  That’s a good thing because soon the runners were out of our sight and we needed to know where to turn.  With the help of the volunteers, we did just fine.  The course was almost entirely level and wound through the campus of Chowan University and a nice residential area nearby.  We finished well ahead of the last two though our time was just under an hour, 57:25.  That didn’t matter to either of us since we weren’t racing anyone.  The most amazing part of the 5K is that it didn’t rain.  When I later looked at the weather map, there were huge storms in the shape of a giant upside-down U in North Carolina and Virginia.  Somehow, we were in the middle of the U.  Plus, the temperature was great for walking, in the mid 70’s.  At least we got in our 10,000 steps early today.

By particating in the 5K run/walk, we missed the main event in the Watermelon Festival, the parade.  I guess that when they blocked off Main Street for the 5K they also blocked it off for the parade which followed.  The people who lined the street on both sides were there more for the parade than for the 5K but it was still fun having them cheer us on.  As we walked we could hear a band play.  And before we started on the walk we saw floats getting ready for the parade including one for the young Miss Watermelons!

One perk of participating in the 5K is that we got a free watermelon.  Actually, we ended up with 6 free watermelons!  They had an abundance of them so we loaded our car so Lynn could give some to her friends.  I hope they turn out to be as tasty as the samples we got at the Festival.  The ones we had there yesterday and again this morning after the race were very sweet and seedless.

After the race was over, we did walk back to the Festival one last time, got another piece of free watermelon, then bought chocolate brownie cakes for our lunch.  We did have one issue on this trip that was unanticipated—we didn’t bring much cash.  At the Festival, only cash was accepted.  This was also true at the diner where we ate dinner last night.  So we ended up heading back to Virginia with a grand total of $1 between the two of us in cash.

This section of North Carolina has had much more rain than we’ve had.  Their grass is green; ours is brown.  Today was no exception; they got lots of rain and, back home, we got none.

We had such a good time this weekend that we decided to look for other small town festivals to attend in the future.  All of the people we interacted with were very nice and helpful. 

We were on the road home by 12:30.  Our drive through southside Virginia reminded me of how diverse Virginia’s topography is.  The houses along Rt. 35 in Sussex County, like those between Murfreesboro and Roanoke Rapids, were, for the most part, well kept brick ranchers with no basements.  There were no hills.  Acres and acres of farmland, mostly peanuts, soybeans, and corn, line the road.  Near Roanoke Rapids yesterday we did see some tobacco being grown.

Driving home we had to go through the top of those upside-down U shaped storm clouds.  It rained extremely hard at times and we could see water building in some of the yards beside the road.  The drive from Murfreesboro to Mount Sidney involved an hour of driving through rural Virginia and North Carolina on local highways and a little over two hours on Interstates 95 and 64.  With the rain storm, though, when we got to I-95, we found heavy traffic moving at 25 mph with the rain still coming down moderately hard.  The heavy rain continued all the way to Richmond and the traffic was slow and heavy. 

Shortly after Richmond the rain ended but another problem emerged.  There must have been a rock slide or something else on Afton Mountain because Google Maps said there was a 25 minute backup of traffic there.  So we got on US 250 in Afton and drove to Waynesboro where we made stops at Kroger, Wells Fargo, and Cookout.  Then we came home, arriving shortly after 5:00.

After eating some leftovers for dinner, we delivered watermelons to Ann, Lynn’s sister Kay, Cheryl Wright, and Cheryl Kent.  We spent the rest of the evening unpacking and watching the Olympics.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics, though since this is on the weekend the Virginia statistics are not updated:

August 7              Infected                   Died

World             202,924,626           4,298,292

US                     36,516,998              632,986

Virginia                704,644                11,558

Augusta County       6,102                       80

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,539,625  (4,649,928 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 73.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,661  (35,283 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 8, 2021

Meet the Press today featured more news about the “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”  Again it was pointed out how political this situation is.  The twenty states with the highest vaccination rates all voted for Biden.  Eighteen of the twenty states with the lowest vaccination rates voted for Trump. 

I’m furious about the news that two of the Augusta County School Board members told parents who were unhappy with the state-mandated mask requirement that they should vote to get rid of Governor Northram.  Nick Collins said “we’ve got to get a Republican governor into the statehouse.” John Ochletree said “If you want to change that and help out your school board, then November 2 you need to go to the polls and vote Northam out of office.”  As a grandparent of two students too young to get vaccinated, I am pleased that our Governor cares enough about children to keep them safe.  I wish our School Board would.  School Board members have no business telling the public how to vote.  If anyone should be told how to vote, those who elected these two Board members should be told to vote them out of office.

The fact is, if the School Board wants to make a public statement about improving the COVID-19 situation, it should tell Augusta County residents to get vaccinated.  According to the VDH website, only 55% of Augusta County residents 12 and over are fully vaccinated.   So nearly half of the adults we come into contact with in our area are unvaccinated.

While it is true that unvaccinated people represent over 95% of those hospitalized now, they are doing harm to more than themselves.  If we are going to get control of COVID-19, the variants such as the Delta variant, need to be stopped and this will only happen when fewer people are infected.  And fewer people will be infected only when the unvaccinated people wise up.  Until then, we’ll all be wearing masks indoors.

The public can’t smoke indoors now and no one seems to be objecting to that.  Smoking indoors causes harm not just to those who are smoking.  The same can be said for requiring masks and vaccinations for indoor gatherings, especially in high COVID-19 spread areas.

The news said that the FDA may soon give its official approval of the Pfizer vaccine.  Perhaps when that happens, more and more places will mandate that their employees and customers must be vaccinated.  I hope so.  I also hope that vaccinations are soon approved for children.

School starts in Augusta County this coming Tuesday.  If Freddie and Betsy have to wear masks, along with their teachers, I’m fine with that.  They’ll be protected as much as possible until vaccinations come for them.  Thank God for a Governor who follows the science of the CDC instead of ignorant School Board members like Collins and Ocheltree.

Lynn and I went to Church today, as usual.  There we were asked to wear masks when the hymns were sung.  I subbed for Bill Bushman doing the Call to Worship and first scripture reading so I wore my mask then, too.  We had just over 40 people there.

Afterwards, we came home.  Then Lynn left to do some shopping with Ann and Henry came over to work on his huge math assignment.  We worked from 2:00 until 4:30 and at that point he completed all 563 of the units.  Whew!  It’s a good thing he is a quick learner or we would have been on this for weeks more.  But he completed the last 12 units quickly then did very well on his test so he completed the entire assignment.  Good for him!

We fixed another huge dinner for the Gutshall family tonight.  As soon as Henry and I finished math I got our baked potatoes started.  Soon thereafter I started grilling six large t-bone steaks while Lynn made a tomato casserole and cooked lima beans.  We had lots of food leftover.

After dinner, I cleaned up the dishes then played some tennis with Henry and Freddie.  Then Freddie came inside and played Wii with Gus.  Meanwhile, Lynn, Ann, and Betsy had the shopping bug again especially since Kohl’s had great sales going on today and today was a tax-free day in Virginia.  Lynn and Ann ended up spending a little over $200 on clothes, mostly for Betsy, but the regular prices for the items totaled over $1,000.  Lynn is such a great shopper!  Now Betsy is all outfitted for the start of school.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 8              Infected                   Died

World             203,405,679           4,306,985

US                     36,543,338              633,116

Virginia                704,644                11,558 No updates on weekend

Augusta County       6,102                       80 No updates on weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,556,583  (4,655,883 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 73.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,757  (35,311 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 9, 2021

Today I’ve been thinking about my memory.  It’s a well known fact that some older people can recall events, facts, or other knowledge from their youth but not things which happened very recently.  I have experienced that this week.  First, as I’ve worked with Henry on his PreCalculus math, I have surprised myself at how much of it I remember without having to review it for more than a glance.  I haven’t taught that math nor worked any problems like those he and I did for 30 years!  Yet working them with him was like I just taught the topic last week.

As another example, when Lynn and I drove into Murfreesboro last Friday, we saw a sign for Chowan University.  Lynn said she had never heard of that institution.  I told her I thought that the man who grew up about five miles from here on Limestone Road near the waterfall had been the baseball coach there.  I remembered his first name, Aaron, but not his last name.  Lynn was able to come up with his last name, Carroll.  Sure enough, today I did some internet research and found that Aaron Carroll from Fort Defiance High School had coached baseball at Chowan from 2004 – 2011.  How in the world I remembered that I don’t know.

Yet when I did my work at Central this morning, I needed to rely on the manual I wrote last fall in order to set up payroll and pay federal taxes for August.  I’ve had to do payroll twice each month since last October and pay taxes once monthly since then.  But I didn’t remember exactly what I needed to do and had to refer to the very manual I wrote.  Strange!

On a side note, I have used that manual a lot lateliy and am very glad I wrote it using screenshots.  I wrote it so I could pass of my treasurer’s work to someone else but now that won’t be happening anytime soon especially since Savannah Garner has resigned as Administrative Assistant effective tomorrow.  I guess I’ll be stuck with the treasurer’s duties for months to come.  That isn’t so bad because I have learned how to do it now and have the time since I’m retired.

This morning I paid several bills, made the deposit from yesterday’s worship services, set up payroll for mid-August, and paid the monthly federal taxes.  It was a productive morning.

Lynn and I went to Fort Defiance High School today and talked with the Athletic Director, Richard Miller.  We took him a check for $100 because we saw on Facebook that he is trying to raise enough money through donations to enable all FDHS students to attend school athletic events for free. We thought it was a worthwhile cause and wanted to donate toward it.  We had a good chat with him.

Lynn and I made a response today on the online version of the NewsLeader’s article about the Augusta County School Board members telling the public they should vote Republican.  Here’s what we wrote:  If anyone should be voted out of office it is the Board members who 1) try to influence others how to vote and 2) were previously willing to ignore the CDC and science.  We have two grandchildren in Augusta County Schools who aren’t old enough to be vaccinated yet.  It is a shame that our Governor is trying to protect them but our own School Board was not before they were forced to follow the law.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics including updates from Virginia since they weren’t updated since last Friday:

August 9              Infected                   Died

World             204,086,903           4,315,446

US                     36,769,591              633,788

Virginia                709,319                11,571

Augusta County       6,152                       81

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,568,286  (4,660,161 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 73.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,803  (35,329 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

Wow, Virginia has had nearly 5,000 new cases since last Friday.  At least the number of deaths only increased by 13 during that time period.  I guess this just shows the effectiveness of the vaccines.  In some cases, they may not keep you from getting COVID-19 but if you do, your case isn’t severe.  CNN said today that more than 99.99% of those vaccinated have not been hospitalized or died from COVID-19 despite the fact that it is running rampant throughout the country now.

August 10, 2021

Lynn has come up with another festival for us to attend.  This time it is the Cupcake Festival in Hurricane, WV, on August 27-28.  Hurricane is about 4 hours from here, near Huntington.  But she also has wanted for years to go to the J. Q. Dickinson Salt Works which is near Charleston so we can do both on the same trip. The Cupcake Festival also has a 5K walk/run which she signed us up for and I found a motel.

Tennis was about normal today; I made some shots and missed some.  I ended up winning two of the three sets I played which isn’t bad.  Since we’re going to Roanoke tomorrow night this will be the only time this week I can play so I’m glad to have gotten it in.  The weather this week is going to be oppressively hot so it’s good that we played early today.

Lynn had a busy day today:  haircut, lunch with the FDHS retired teachers, tutor session in Waynesboro with Juan Pablo, and Staff-Parish meeting via Zoom in the evening.  The only item on my calendar was tennis.  I did go to the dump.

Ann, Lynn, and I were here when Freddie rode the bus here after his first day in 2nd grade.  He said he had a good day and so did Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  As I told them, 1 down, 179 to go.

I got my hair cut yesterday by my favorite barber, Lynn.  She does a good job; I know my hair isn’t easy to cut.  I would be OK returning to a regular barber shop now that I’m vaccinated but there’s no need when she does such a fine job.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 10            Infected                   Died

World             204,725,057           4,325,793

US                     36,891,931              634,662

Virginia                711,078                11,578

Augusta County       6,160                       81

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,589,699  (4,669,184 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 73.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,895  (35,366 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 11, 2021

The joys of being retired…today we drove to Roanoke to see a James Taylor concert at the Berglund Center and visit with Jim, Faron, and Coen.  Accompanying us to the concert were Tom and Connie Davis, John and Ginny Bauman, and Jim and Vicki Printy.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which is only a seven minute walk from the Berglund Center.  Lynn and I had gotten all eight tickets in advance which were held at Will Call.  So we went to Roanoke early to pick them up so we could meet the others at 6:30 at the hotel and walk to the concert. 

Lynn had a mammogram early this morning in Harrisonburg.  Afterwards she did a little shopping at Costco then returned home so we could leisurely travel to Roanoke.

The Central Sunday School class which I attend has decided to read and discuss a book, The God We Never Knew, by Marcus Borg, an Episcopalian minister.  I got the book from Amazon and read the first of its seven chapters this morning.  The author describes his own upbringing with the traditional view of God as one who created the world and now resides “out there,” distant and distinct from the world.  As many of us were taught, he was told he needed to follow Christianity so he would make it to heaven.  In his early adulthood, he rejected these ideas and now thinks of God as being in the world as opposed to being apart from it.  I guess I’ll learn more after I read the next six chapters.

On our way to Roanoke we stopped in Lexington hoping to get ice cream at the Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe where we’d had it before.  We got there at 11:30 and thought it opened at noon.  So we grabbed a grilled cheese sandwich which we shared at a nearby store then walked around Lexington for a few minutes.  But when we got back to the ice cream store at noon it was not open.  As we left I called them and the young man who answered said they’d be opened by 12:30 but we didn’t want to wait.  Fortunately, we found a Cook Out a few blocks away which had their 99¢ chocolate chip milkshakes so we got our fix there.

We got to Roanoke before 2:00 and went straight to the Berglund Center to get our will call tickets.  This proved to be a great decision because when we returned to the Center to attend the concert the line at will call was huge.  After we got our tickets we tried to check in at the Holiday Inn Express which was very nearby but our room wasn’t ready. 

We went to the Belk store at Tanglewood Mall and looked around for a bit then returned to the hotel where we were able to check in.  Then we called Jim and headed to see him, Faron, and Coen.

Jim wasn’t having a very good day with some lawnmower problems but we were able to play with Coen and Faron for a while.  He said they would eat pizza from a nearby store, Papa’s Pizza, so we ordered for the five of us.  Ironically, when we got back home with the order, I ate Jim’s chicken parmigiana instead of my baked spaghetti but he was OK with the spaghetti.  Lynn got a steak stromboli and the boys got personal cheese pizzas.  We had a decent meal in his back yard.  It had rained earlier which cooled the temperature down, thankfully.

We were back at the hotel in plenty of time to meet our friends, give them their tickets, then walk to the concert.  The crowd was huge at the Berglund Center; it appeared to be a near sellout.  We had worn out masks at the hotel and wore them at the concert, too.  I’d say most people in attendance did.  The average age of the crowd was our age.

Before James Taylor came on stage, Jackson Browne had an hour of his music.  He has been around for decades and is 72 years old.  James Taylor is 73.  But both can still play and sing.  We enjoyed both Jackson Browne and James Taylor.  James performed mostly his old favorites which is just what we had hoped.  He closed with You’ve Got a Friend

We walked back to the hotel and were in our rooms shortly after 11:00, late for us.  But it had been a good, successful day.  We’re lucky to be able to do things like this.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics.  Unfortunately, thanks to the Delta variant and unvaccinated idiots these numbers keep rising:

August 11            Infected                   Died

World             205,513,682           4,337,615

US                     37,055,916              635,636

Virginia                713,195                11,581

Augusta County       6,175                       81

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,603,216  (4,674,478 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 73.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,963  (35,390 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of vaccinations in our area.  Good!

August 12, 2021

Our stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Roanoke was as good as any of the other hotels we normally stay at:  Hilton Garden Inn, Best Western, Comfort Suites, etc.  It was the first time in ages that I can remember staying at a Holiday Inn Express but I’d definitely consider doing it again.  All eight of us stayed there; we gathered in the breakfast lobby today and ate and chatted until after 10:00.  None of us had anything pressing to force us to come home sooner.

We were home shortly after noon.  There was one slowdown on I-81 which is the norm nowadays.  Neither Lynn nor I had much to do this afternoon; she was supposed to go to Waynesboro to tutor Juan Pablo but he texted her that he really didn’t have an schoolwork assigned yet and told her to not come.

Instead, we went to Harrisonburg where she returned items at both Kohl’s and Costco.  Then we came home and fixed dinner.  Afterwards, Betsy came over for some minor help with math.  We took her home on our way to Smiley’s for dessert.  All in all, today was an uneventful, easy day.

Governor Northram announced today that the state requires all students, teachers, staff, visitors in our public and private K-12 schools in Virginia to wear a mask indoors and that’s regardless of their vaccination status.  That’s sure to infuriate many locals in our area but I’m with him 100%.  Lynn and I wore masks yesterday and today anytime we were indoors including the James Taylor concert. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 12            Infected                   Died

World             206,149,587           4,346,658

US                     37,176,706              635,926

Virginia                715,556                11,583

Augusta County       6,232                       81

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,617,533  (4,680,268 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 73.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,105  (35,456 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

As I’ve noted before, the number of cases of COVID-19 is increasing rapidly but the deaths are not.  For example, Augusta County alone had 57 new cases of COVID today but Virginia had only two new deaths.  This just shows that the vaccinations are working.

August 13, 2021

I spent over four hours today at Central working on Treasurer’s items.  Since we no longer have an administrative assistant, not only do I have to create checks to pay the bills, I’ve got to get them all mailed and filed.  That took a while but I also did some preparation work for the 2020 audit which will likely be done this week.  I also put together a box of food for Juan Pablo which Lynn and I took to him this afternoon after she had done some Cricut work with Cheryl Kent.  She and the two Cheryls spent the morning going to garage sales.

We had a big thunderstorm this afternoon—the first real rain we’ve seen in weeks.  I know our brown grass enjoyed it.

We got a surprise when we took Juan Pablo’s food box this afternoon.  His Dad works at the Pollak vineyard in Albemarle County.  He handed us four bottles of Pollak white wine. 

From there we drove to the Old School food truck and got our usual hamburgers.  We also stopped by Ann’s house because she had bought some lima beans for us which Lynn shelled, blanched, and froze tonight.

Today was supposed to have been the day Trump was to be reinstated as President according to those who believe the Big Lie and followers like Mike Lindell.  I’ve had a good time reading the comments today on Facebook about this preposterous prediction. 

Lynn found another festival to attend!  At least this one is nearby.  Tomorrow we’re going to go to the 42nd Annual Peach Festival in Hagerstown MD.  We’re just going for the day.  I’m looking forward to having some peach pie, peach ice cream, and possibly bringing home some tasty peaches.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 13            Infected                   Died

World             206,848,284           4,357,035

US                     37,323,630              637,074

Virginia                717,826                11,599

Augusta County       6,250                       81

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,645,617  (4,691,440 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,212  (35,502 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 14, 2021

Well, the Peach Festival in Hagerstown was a bust.  We left home early and got to Hagerstown around 10:00.  There were lots of craft vendor tents so we thought it would be a good festival but it was not.  The vendors were mainly manufactured goods like Avon and those which had homemade goods were poor quality.  There were only two peach vendors there and their prices were sky high.  The festival was crowded though it had plenty of volunteers and the parking was well managed.  But, for example, there were no Peach Festival shirts anywhere; for the most part there was no reference to peaches at all.

By 11:00 we were ready to come home.  Hagerstown is home to the Premium Outlets so we actually spent more time there than at the Peach Festival.  Lynn had broken her pocketbook on the way to Hagerstown so she looked in lots of stores there for a replacement but had no luck.  She did manage to find a dress she liked. 

So, in the early afternoon, we headed home on I-81.  What a disaster!  There were three places between Hagerstown and home that traffic showed as being stopped.  One delay was listed as 28 minutes.  When we got to Winchester we got off on US 522 which took us to Front Royal and managed to avoid the first of the stoppages though there were so many stoplights on the road we might as well have waited on I-81.  Then we got back on I-81 only to see two more coming up soon so we got off on Rt. 42 and took it all the way to Harrisonburg.  In Harrisonburg we switched over to US 11 to go to Mount Crawford because Lynn wanted to get some tomatoes at Overlook Produce in Mount Crawford.  We also got corn there and some peaches for Cheryl Kent then came on home on US 11.  It took us MUCH longer to come back than it did to go there.

We got home, fixed dinner, then went to Waynesboro so Lynn could continue to look for pocketbooks at Ross and Kohl’s.  She found two at Ross she liked and bought them, then found one at Kohl’s she liked even more so she bought it, too.  She’s going to take back at least one of the three but it was raining hard by the time we left so she brought all three home.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 14            Infected                   Died

World             207,472,950           4,366,046

US                     37,435,422              637,438

Virginia                717,826                11,599   Not updated since today is Saturday

Augusta County       6,250                       81   Not updated since today is Saturday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,662,179  (4,698,547 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,378  (35,589 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 15, 2021

We haven’t had a gray, dreary day in ages so I actually appreciated today.  The high temperature was in the 70’s and there was occasional light rain.  The grass is starting to turn green again and I’ll have to mow this week for a change.  The forecast has thunderstorms listed the next four days.

We began a new Sunday School study this morning.  We’re all reading and discussing the book The God We Never Knew by Marcus Borg.  So far the book and discussion have been good.  As I described in a previous day’s post, I believe the author’s intent is to dispel the notion that God is someone you meet when you die (meet your maker) and instead find Him in daily life.

After Church today Lynn and I went to Kroger and Aldi to get food for tonight’s meal.  She fixed pork BBQ, homemade rolls, a tomato pie, a hash brown potato casserole, and corn on the cob.  Yum!

Kay’s family has been on the go.  They were at a New York beach all last week with Andy’s parents and family.  They came home yesterday then flew out this morning for Bozeman MT where they’ll be visiting Yellowstone National Park.  I know they’ll love it as much as Lynn and I did.  It is a huge park with many things to see.  Lynn and I didn’t get to Bozeman but I know it is picturesque since Vic lived there for many years and told us about its ski slopes and mountains.

We have a few weeks of being around here then our travels really hit.  We’ve got big trips coming up to Oregon the first of September and Salt Lake City in October.  In fact, we’ll be gone eight consecutive Friday nights, counting these trips plus football games and some other shorter trips. 

It occurred to me today that our travels are contingent upon COVID-19 staying away from us and the US not becoming more restrictive.  I hope both are the case but the way COVID is spreading nowadays nothing is guaranteed.  We’ve heard of several “breakthrough” cases where vaccinated people get COVID-19 though I think these cases were all non-life threatening.  Again, that’s the purpose of the vaccine.

The news is still full of fury from non-maskers living in areas where masking is mandated and from maskers in areas like Florida where Governor DeSantis has issued a ban on mandated masking for schools. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 15            Infected                   Died

World             207,945,866           4,374,234

US                     37,466,718              637,561

Virginia                717,826                11,599   Not updated since today is Saturday

Augusta County       6,250                       81   Not updated since today is Saturday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,680,836  (4,706,457 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,489  (35,638 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   As good as these numbers look, that’s still only 55.5% of those eligible to be vaccinated who are fully vaccinated and only 47.2% of the overall Augusta County population. Over half of the people we encounter in Augusta County are not fully vaccinated!

August 16, 2021

I spent nearly five hours at Central today.  Besides doing the normal jobs of paying bills, counting the offering, and depositing the offering, I had more work to do now that we no longer have an administrative assistant.  I had to mail the bills, enter the contributions into the Servant Keeper software, and made a backup of all the files on the secretary computer to the external drive that is connected to the treasurer’s computer.  Both computers had a Windows update to install and I also did some work on sending acknowledgements and thank you notes to those who donated toward the Memorial Fund in memory of Ann Spotts.  Finally, I helped unload the truck from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank which made its weekly delivery this afternoon. 

I have no idea how long it will be until a new administrative assistant will be hired.  I’m not optimistic about the quality and quantity of applicants.  I’m not involved with this decision.

I enjoyed playing with Freddie when he got off the bus this afternoon.  We played three games of Wii Baseball (he won 2, I won 1) then three games on the basketball court:  PIG, Around the World, and 21 (he won all 3!).  He is a lot of fun to be with; I enjoy my time with him.

I took him home afterwards while Lynn went to Waynesboro to tutor Juan Pablo for a little while.  When she came back, we had a great dinner of leftovers but saved room for ice cream from Smiley’s.  Lynn likes Turtle flavor which is one of this week’s special flavors.  Of course, I ate salted caramel chocolate chip in a waffle cone.

President Biden is taking a lot of heat now for his decision to pull American troops out of Afghanistan especially since the Taliban has moved in immediately and taken over the country.  We have lost 3,000 lives there in the past twenty years and spent billions and billions.  I think he made the right decision.

Today was a dreary day with on and off rain.  Soon I am definitely going to need to have a dry day so I can cut grass.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 16            Infected                   Died

World             208,573,091           4,382,315

US                     37,654,995              638,183

Virginia                723,727                11,618   First update since Friday

Augusta County       6,347                       81   First update since Friday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,694,486  (4,712,192 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,526  (35,655 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

The increases in the Virginia cases over the weekend were great—almost 6,000 new cases.  There were 19 new deaths.  This is scary.

August 17, 2021

I had an e-mail today from the people who run Avon Hill where we vacationed last summer south of Charlottesville.  They were offering a 20% off return visit.  I think we made a great decision last year when we picked Avon Hill as a gathering place for the family.  I wish Jim and his boys could have come; all of us had a very good time there.  Will we go back?  Who knows.

Today was an easy day.  It rained overnight so there was no tennis.  Lynn’s Cheryl friends came out and talked with her all morning.  I did a very few chores around the house but not much.  In the afternoon, Lynn and I went into Staunton for a quick trip to her sisters.  Then we met Freddie’s bus though his other grandfather was here to pick him up.  The Gutshalls are going to meet his bus on Tuesdays and Fridays and we have the other days. 

After that, I took a load of garbage to the dump, stopping by Ann’s house to get theirs.   As soon as I got back, Lynn and I made a trip to Harrisonburg with several stops.  We went to Costco, Kroger, Ross, Walmart, and ate at El Sol.  It was Taco Tuesday night.  Together, we ate well for under $15. 

I confess that then we got treats.  First we stopped at Krispy Kreme where I got two donuts using our COVID-19 vaccination records.  Lynn gave me hers.  Then we went to Dairy Queen and continued with dessert as Lynn got a Blizzard and I had a cone.  We ate them at the Eastover Tennis Courts then came home.

By the time we got here, it was raining pretty hard.  It is supposed to rain most of the night.  I guess the grass will finally turn green again and start growing.  Perhaps I can mow on Thursday.

Lynn is the best shopper.  Tonight at Kroger she wanted to get sugar which was on sale for $0.97 for a four pound bag.  There was a limit of five bags per person.  But when we got to the sugar aisle, the shelf was empty for the sugar on sale.  Actually, this also happened at Kroger in Staunton on Sunday and she got a rain check for the sugar.  But this evening at Harrisonburg she was told that they weren’t going to give out rain checks for the sugar.  She didn’t take no for an answer.  Soon the Kroger employee was on the phone with the manager.  She offered to let Lynn have two 10 pound bags for the equivalent price so Lynn said OK.  But when the employee tagged the sugar, he tagged the 10 pound bags for only $1.95 each.  So she ended up getting twenty pounds of sugar for $4.  I also got two 10 pound bags for Cheryl Kent at the same price.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 17            Infected                   Died

World             209,332,106           4,393,421

US                     37,892,089              640,077

Virginia                725,971                11,625  

Augusta County       6,384                       82  

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,708,029  (4,718,220 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,585  (35,679 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

August 18, 2021

I spent another four hours at Central this morning.  This time it was to work on the 2020 Annual Audit.  Technically I shouldn’t be on the audit committee since I’m the treasurer and bookkeeper but Won encouraged me to do it again especially since Sam Richardson would be doing it with me and he doesn’t have either of those designations.  Sam has had issues with sciatica lately but he was able to come this morning and we got 98% of the work done.  There are three major sections of the audit:  1) bank accounts  2) investment accounts and 3)  UMM and UMW accounts.  We got both 1) and 2) done.  The other two will go very quickly because with 2020 being such a COVID-19 year, neither organization did much.  We’ll get them knocked off on Monday morning when we do the counting of the August 22 worship service offering.

When we audit, we don’t question why a particular expenditure was made but we do make sure that the bank(s) and church bookkeeper are in 100% agreement and that balances in each of the accounts reported to the congregation on the monthly statements match those figures.  We finished our work around 12:30 today.

I thought it was supposed to rain all day but by mid-morning the skies had cleared and the sun was shining.  I thought about cutting grass but decided to postpone that until tomorrow.  Lynn had to go to Cub Run Elementary School to interpret for an afternoon meeting and I had to be here when Freddie’s bus came.  Ann came to pick him up shortly after he arrived.

All four of the Gutshall kids report that school is going well for them.  Henry is undoubtedly under lots of pressure at the Governor’s School and has to leave home around 7:15 each morning in order to make it on time.  He drives.  The other three report that they like their teachers and school has gone well.  Whew!

Tonight we had a phone call with Hal and Diane about our Oregon trip which is only two weeks away.  I called the reservation center at Crater Lake earlier in the day to make sure the Oregon fires hadn’t adversely affected that part of our trip.  I was told that the park was unaffected thus far by the fires except for the presence of smoke.  Hal and Diane said the same about the ultramarathon race we’re going to watch with them in southern Oregon.

Diane told us that her brother had succumbed to COVID-19 last night.  He was unvaccinated.  She repeated what an avoidable loss this had been for her family. 

Tonight we took some things to Brent and Marina Foltz who just had a new baby.  We gave them a blanket Lynn had embroidered, a sticker book for big sister Madison, and a Domino’s pizza card. 

Ordinarily, Marc Kinder arranges/checks with the rest of us regarding our Tuesday/Thursday tennis foursome.  But for the next two weeks Marc is going to be in Florida.  So tonight I attempted to come up with a foursome.  Won wanted to play.  Unfortunately, Pat Peason said he could not.  Neither could Randy Simmons.  Lewis Moore said he could, but we still needed a 4th.  I tried texting Darrell Miller but he didn’t respond.  I texted Won and Lewis for their ideas.  But at this moment I’m not sure if I’ll be playing or not.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 18            Infected                   Died

World             210,044,624           4,403,923

US                     38,067,107              641,312

Virginia                728,523                11,632  

Augusta County       6,436                       82  

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,720,193  (4,723,344 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,671  (35,718 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.3% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated.

August 19, 2021

Overnight I got a reply from Darrell that he could play tennis so the four of us (Darrell, Won, Lewis, and I) met at Mary Baldwin.  I was glad to get to play.  I played OK for me and won two of the three sets.  For a change, I wasn’t the oldest player; Darrell is 72.  It was hot and humid but still felt great to be on the court.

When I came home, Lynn was getting ready to leave.  She had interpreting jobs at two different Rockingham County elementary schools this afternoon then went to Waynesboro to tutor Juan Pablo. 

I stayed back and cut the grass.  After the rains this past weekend, it needed to be cut.  But it was hot, around 88o, so by the time I finished I was plenty tired.  I took it easy until Freddie’s bus arrived around 3:15.

He and I had another good time playing Wii baseball although I got beat in four straight games.  I really do try to beat him but he squeezed past me in every one today. 

After Ann came and picked up Freddie, Lynn and I decided to go to the Rockingham County Fair.  Tonight was senior citizen night so we got in for $2 each.  It rained all the way there but we could see better weather on the way so we waited inside the car in the parking lot until the rain stopped.  It turned out to be a good move because it didn’t rain again the entire evening.  We wanted to get some of the steak sandwiches there for supper and we did.  They were delicious!  We also walked around the fair, saw the animals and exhibits, ran into some old friends, and left before dark.

We went straight to Smiley’s for dessert.  Lynn really likes the Turtle ice cream which is featured this week.  I got my usual. 

Lynn had walked twice today, once with Pat Collins and a second time with Ginny Bauman.  By the time we walked all around the Fair tonight, she accumulated over 17,000 steps for the day.  I topped 12,000.  Not bad for two old people, huh?

Walking around the Fair, we noted to each other than with less than 50% of the population in this area fully vaccinated, around one out of every two people we saw were unvaccinated.  How can people be so dumb?  My fear is that one of us will pick up a mild case of COVID-19 just before we are scheduled to go to Oregon.  If we do, it will be because the idiots in this area don’t get vaccinated and carry the virus.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 19            Infected                   Died

World             210,789,401           4,416,146

US                     38,231,716              643,110

Virginia                731,287                11,638  

Augusta County       6,518                       83  

            Vaccinated – NOTE:  these figures were not updated today.  I’m not sure why.

Virginia 9,720,193  (4,723,344 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,671  (35,718 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.3% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated.

August 20, 2021

If my mother were still alive, she’d be 107 today!  She died almost 41 years ago.  I wish my children could have spent time with her.  She would have loved to have hosted them at her house in Bramwell.  She died when I had just turned 30.

Today’s only activity on my calendar was to help at Paul Obaugh’s funeral at Central.  I went to the church early to do some other Treasurer’s work and got lots done.  I finished up just in time to get the sound system ready for the funeral.

All went well there.  Lynn came and sat with me then we both headed home.  By the time I had eaten lunch, changed clothes, etc. it was time for Freddie’s bus to come.  Josh was here waiting on the bus and him so he wasn’t here long.

At this point, we basically had nothing planned but we quickly decided to get some things done.  First on our list was to get our flu vaccine.  Our friend Diane Koerner had given us that idea saying it would be good to have another layer of protection before our Oregon trip.  So we headed to Walgreen’s in Verona and soon were vaccinated. 

Then we headed to Harrisonburg because Lynn had a coupon for Penney’s and some Kohl’s cash which expired at Kohl’s.  She was able to use both on some dresses at each location.  Lynn has a ton of clothes but she’s not paid much for any of them.  Today was no exception.

On our way home, she heard from Juan Pablo that he would like some food from Central.  We grabbed our usual Friday hamburgers from Old School food truck and came home to eat them quickly.  Then we headed to CUMC where we got one box for Juan Pablo and another box for Elizabeth and family. 

Ordinarily we would have taken the food to Juan Pablo tomorrow morning but Lynn already had plans to go to garage sales with her Cheryl friends.  So she texted Juan Pablo and asked if we could bring the food tonight.  We then headed to Waynesboro and dropped the food off for him.  On the way home, we stopped by Dairy Queen in Verona for dessert.

So what started out as a very light day turned out to be a very busy evening.  But we felt good that done so much and had been able to help others.  At Kohl’s, Lynn ended up with extra Kohl’s cash but noticed a family there she knew who were able to use it. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 20            Infected                   Died

World             211,502,733           4,426,531

US                     38,398,565              644,281

Virginia                734,079                11,647  

Augusta County       6,583                       83  

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,761,485  (4,741,951 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,945  (35,849 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.4% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.

August 21, 2021

Over the past several days I’ve had good news from both my brother and sister.  My brother reports that he has been seeing lots of Jackie, also a retiree from Ohio University.  He said she likes to swim, as does he, and walk (he runs).  The best part about hearing this from him is how good he has sounded on the phone when he’s told us about her and places they’ve been to.  We’ll see how this works out.

Mary Katherine is much closer to moving.  She found a new house close to Kit and Colin’s.  It is on one level and would certainly be a downsizing from the big house she and Denny lived in for 50 years.  She’s sounded excited about this lifestyle change.  It might happen within the month.  Then she’ll have to put her current house on the market, I guess.

A couple of weeks ago our friends Elizabeth and Gilberto asked a favor of us.  They are in the process of starting an apartment cleaning business.  They asked us if they could list our address as the base address for their business.  I guess this is because they currently rent in Mount Solon and perhaps the land there is zoned differently.  Anyway, Lynn called the Augusta County Zoning people and was told that they would need to change the zoning for our house in order to do so but this wasn’t a big deal.  They said they’d put a sign up in our yard notifying neighbors of the intent to rezone it.

Today we learned from one neighbor that there is another one who is not happy with this.  If an issue is made to the Zoning Board, perhaps this plan will be canceled.  Ironically, Elizabeth has repeatedly told us that the business would be listed here in name only.  They would not come here, have any good delivered here, or actually conduct any business from here.  We went along with them to help them out.  I’m not going to write any more about this now; perhaps I will elaborate once a decision has been made by the Zoning Board.  We won’t fight their decision no matter what.

Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia return from their western vacation tomorrow.  The last we heard they were leaving Yellowstone heading for the Grand Tetons.  Of all the parks we’ve been to, Yellowstone has the most varied scenery.

After our dinner tonight Lynn made a batch of hot pepper jelly.  She really likes it; I much prefer sweet fruit preserves.  When she was finished, we went into Staunton and walked two laps around Gypsy Hill Park.  She ended up the day with over 11,000 steps; I barely made 10,000.

Much has been written in the news lately about Biden’s botched plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.  Nearly 2,500 Americans have died there over the last twenty years.  Some veterans are saying that they died for nothing.  I guess I feel that way about Vietnam.  In both cases, we really had no business going there, in my opinion.  I support Biden’s decision to withdraw the troops and just wish the process would have gone smoother.

The FDA will likely give full approval of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday.  Now what excuse will the 50% of the Augusta County population have to not get it?  One person on Facebook wrote about the idiots who won’t mask and won’t get vaccinated, “Last year they were willing to sacrifice Grandma and Grandpa.  This year it’s their own kids.” 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 21            Infected                   Died

World             212,183,101           4,435,512

US                     38,519,247              644,838

Virginia                734,079                11,647   Not updated since Friday.

Augusta County       6,583                       83   Not updated since Friday.

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,778,079  (4,749,696 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        70,062  (35,911 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.5% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  At least this number is slowly climbing.

August 22, 2021

Today was a busy Sunday for us.  For me, it began with Zoom Sunday School at 9:00.  As soon as it was over, Lynn and I drove to Central.  We had about 45 people in attendance; all were wearing masks. 

Immediately after church, we went to Kroger where Lynn dropped a prescription off and we did a little shopping before returning home.  She started early fixing dinner for us and the Gutshalls but we took a break to run to Smiley’s for a treat mid-afternoon.

Ann and family came over for dinner around 5:30.  Afterwards, I played a little with Freddie.  The last two days he’s come over I’ve encouraged him to throw a baseball with me.  I seriously don’t think he’ll ever play but thought he should learn how to throw and catch.  We had two gloves and an old ball so we played catch just like I used to do with my grandfather, Pappa Joe.

Tonight we had a phone conversation with our California friends Mike and Jean Orbinosky.  This is the couple we met on our Panama Trip.  We’ve actually gotten together once since then and they are considering joining us in Salt Lake City in October.  We sent them our Utah itinerary tonight and they’re going to think about it.

This coming week is our last full week before we leave for our Oregon trip so we’ve got lots of things to take care of.  Tomorrow morning I’ll spend most of the time at Central doing Treasurer’s work.  Lynn has almost daily interpreting sessions scheduled at Rockingham County elementary schools.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 22            Infected                   Died

World             212,583,357           4,444,384

US                     38,545,144              645,058

Virginia                734,079                11,647   Not updated since Friday.

Augusta County       6,583                       83   Not updated since Friday.

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,796,957  (4,758,646 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        70,148  (35,951 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.6% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  Augusta County lags the state of Virginia in all vaccination categories.

August 23, 2021

There were two stories on ABCNews.com today about preventing/treating COVID-19.  The first was a relieving story that said that the FDA had given full approval of the Pfizer vaccine now.  That might convince some to finally take it but, to be honest, I’m betting the anti-vaxers will just come up with another excuse.  The second one is almost funny it is so ridiculous.  The title of the article is “Deworming drug should not be used to treat COVID-19, officials say.”  So there are people who don’t trust the medical community enough to be vaccinated but are willing to take a deworming medicine intended for horses and cows!!  This sounds like a remedy Trump would have recommended like he suggested that ultraviolet light could somehow be flashed inside a person or bleach should be injested to get rid of it.

Today I spent 4 ½ hours at Central.  I got there at 8:00 and left after 12:30.  I had lots of Treasurer’s tasks to do, some for the audit, some for the weekly counting and depositing, some for a mail merge I set up to acknowledge memorial gifts, some for reports I need for tomorrow’s Finance meeting, some for setting up payroll and liabilities for the end of the month payroll, and some for paying bills.  Plus, when I was there we got two food deliveries, one from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and another from Food Lion. 

We got so much Food Lion food that I immediately called Lynn and told her we should take some to Juan Pablo and some to Elizabeth and her family.  Juan Pablo told her he didn’t need any more, but Elizabeth said she’d welcome some.

So, I came home, ate lunch, then Lynn and I headed out.  Before we got the food for Elizabeth, we went by a medical supply store where Lynn bought us some KN-95 masks for our upcoming airplane flights.  Then we filled two large boxes with food.  Elizabeth wasn’t home at the time so we first came home then later delivered her boxes to her.

Lynn walked early this morning with Pat Collins.  We both talked about walking tonight but it was very, very hot today.  We agreed to wait until it cooled some and the sun was on the way down before going out.  It turned out to be a good choice.  We walked our Leaport Road hike.  I hadn’t done much walking before that so I only got about 8,000 steps in today.  Lynn had 1 ½ times that.

We had some health scares from two of our grandchildren today.  Freddie woke up coughing so Ann and Josh decided to hold him out of school.  They called both his pediatrician’s office and the Clymore Elementary Nurse and both said that if this was the only symptom he was showing, had no fever, to go ahead and send him back to school tomorrow if he improved.  Thankfully, he did during the day.  We talked to him tonight and he seemed to be on the mend.

Kay had a scarier time.  Thomas woke up having a hard time breathing.  They were both worried that he had picked up COVID-19 on their western vacation they just got back from late last night.  She hurried him to the doctor’s office where they did the rapid COVID-19 test and, fortunately, it came back negative.  Like Freddie, he seemed to make improvement during the day.

We talked to Kay for a good while tonight.  She told us all about their trip to Montana, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons.  They had a wonderful time, saw lots of wildlife, and took in both beautiful and unusual scenery.  I know Lynn and I loved our trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

Jim’s boys start school tomorrow in Roanoke.  Faron goes to Kindergarten and Coen is enrolled in a Pre-K at the same school, a city school in Roanoke. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics including updated Virginia and Augusta County cases which hadn’t been updated since Friday.

August 23            Infected                   Died

World             213,212,877           4,452,210

US                     38,745,800              645,892

Virginia                741,160                11,675  

Augusta County       6,742                       84  

            Vaccinated

Virginia   9,808,587  (4,74,188 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        70,198  (35,973 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.6% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  Augusta County lags the state of Virginia in all vaccination categories.

Tonight Jim told us he thought only 30% of the students in his high school were vaccinated.  I looked at the VDH website and found that, statewide, less than 50% of those ages 12 – 17 are fully vaccinated.  Why?  Perhaps with the FDA giving the Pfizer vaccination their full approval, school systems can consider making it mandatory for students (or at least faculty) to be vaccinated.

August 24, 2021

Today was hot and humid but I still managed to get in 2¼ hours of tennis.  The secret was we started at 8:00 AM though it was still hot and humid then.  I played OK but certainly not well.  At least we played.

Afterwards I stopped at Rice Tire in Verona and ordered some tires for my Civic.  The ones I have on now are original, have 50,000 miles on them, and ride extremely rough.  I hope this all gets solved when the new tires are installed, perhaps Thursday or Friday of this week.

Friday we’re going to be driving to the Cupcake Festival in near Huntington so we’ll just take Lynn’s car if my new tires aren’t installed.

I had a 2:00 Finance Meeting and a 7:00 Council Meeting today.  As usual, I had lots of preparation work to do for the Finance meeting and then had to take minutes at the Council meeting.

Lynn was once again thwarted from tutoring Juan Pablo because he was sick again.  She wisely doesn’t want to tutor him if he’s not well.

And speaking of being well, it was good to find out that Freddie was doing much better today and went to school.  Thomas still had a cough but no fever today.  And today was Faron’s first day of Kindergarten!  By all accounts it went well for him.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 24            Infected                   Died

World             213,496,359           4,463,882

US                     38,965,741              648,126

Virginia                744,187                11,693  

Augusta County       6,794                       84  

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,824,373  (4,772,065 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 55.9% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        70,265  (36,007 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.7% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  And, Augusta had over 50 new cases in the past 24 hours.  Not good..

There was a TV-3 news story today about Augusta’s current outbreak.  There are currently over 30 people hospitalized at Augusta Health with COVID-19 with the great majority of them being unvaccinated.

August 25, 2021

An article in today’s Staunton Newsleader says that Augusta County currently has one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in the state, per capita.  Augusta County reported a whopping 333 cases and two deaths in the latest week.  A week earlier, it had reported 148 cases and two deaths. Throughout the pandemic it has reported 6,583 cases and 83 deaths.  One bit of good news is that Virginia ranked 34th among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.

We’re keeping our eyes on Oregon travel restrictions with our trip now one week away.  This morning the Governor of Oregon instituted an outdoor mask mandate.  They already had an indoor one.  Looks like we’ll be packing several masks.

I also discovered that one of the places we want to visit, Multnomah Falls near Portland, now requires advance tickets in order to visit due to trying to regulate the number of visitors there.  I texted Hal and Diane to see what they wanted to do about this; they said to go ahead and get them for September 2 at 10:00 which I did.

Today involved more work at Central. I’m trying to get everything behind me since we’ll be gone for two consecutive weeks, September 1 – 15, to Oregon.  In the afternoon, Lynn went to Cub Run to interpret for a meeting.  I was here for Freddie’s bus.

He and I played our usual games of Wii.  After he left, I went to Harrisonburg and met Lynn at Vito’s restaurant.  On Wednesday’s they have a senior citizen special whereby if you buy one meal at regular price you get a second lunch-sized meal for free.  I like the spaghetti and she likes something called Bucatini Amatriciana so that works out fine for us.   The issue with tonight was that JMU is back in session so the restaurant was crowded and there was a sign on the door that asked patrons to be patient because they were short-handed on staff.  Sure enough, it took over an hour for our food to come after we ordered.  It was good, and we weren’t in a hurry, so I guess that was OK.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 25            Infected                   Died

World             213,496,359           4,463,882

US                     38,965,741              648,126

Virginia                747,640                11,715  

Augusta County       6,845                       84  

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,843,846  (4,781,159 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 55.9% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        70,386  (36,075 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.7% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  And, Augusta had almost 50 new cases again in the past 24 hours.  Not good.

August 26, 2021

Another day of tennis disappointment.  I played early this morning with Darrell Miller, Randy Simmons, and Pat Peason.  I won only one of three sets.  I usually can count on winning my serve; today I lost it four consecutive times.  All in all I didn’t play that poorly but I just played badly on the important points.  Good players up their game when the score is deuce.  I didn’t do that today.

After tennis I went to Kroger to get a prescription for Lynn then I went to Central to do more work.  I finished up there fairly soon and came home.

Lynn had a very busy day today.  She walked very early with Pat Collins then had her Cheryl friends over.  Then she went to Cub Run Elementary to interpret followed by an interpreting session at Lacey Spring Elementary School.  Then she drove back to McGaheysville Elementary to talk the ELL folks there.  For a retired person she sure works a lot!

I wrote all of the above before mid-afternoon.  Then came this text from Pat Peason:  Sorry my beloved tennis friends doctor from Augusta called me today and said I tested positive that the first test wasn’t in depth enough having said that my symptoms started 7 days ago I’m on day 8 so by Sunday I’ll be totally symptom free and have this behind me but I felt I had to let you know for the three that I played with today.  Pat told me earlier in the week that he hadn’t felt well and went to the doctor on Tuesday where he supposedly had a negative COVID test.  That’s why he played today. 

So since that moment I’ve done nothing but worry….  I don’t want anything to interfere with our Oregon trip next week.  And, of course, I don’t want anything more serious than what he went through to happen to me.  With Lynn in McGaheysville this afternoon we both immediately started worrying about Freddie whose bus arrived here at 3:18 today.  I worked out a plan for us to try to stay outside the entire time.  We played baseball, he rode his bike, and got his own treat from the garage.  Lynn got home around 4:00 and took Freddie home around 5:00. 

In the meantime, several other things were happening.  The neighbors, the Parrish’s, were having their driveway paved.  The big trucks, rollers, and pavers kept a steady roar next to us.  Then, Danny Link came over to discuss the rezoning issue with us.  He seemed to be very supportive of what we were doing, unlike the Parrish’s. 

Danny told us some disturbing news about his wife, Debbie.  She had a stroke a few years ago.  He said that now her memory is falling apart, she can’t recall how to do basic things such as cutting the vacuum cleaner on.  She won’t leave the house except to go to church.  She is constantly worried about being left alone.  Sad…

And while these events were happening, the US experienced the bombing at the airport in Afghanistan where thirteen US soldiers were killed. 

The more I think back to tennis this morning, I don’t think I was within five feet of Pat the entire time.  His symptoms started eight days ago and obviously he was over them by today because he played, and played well.  He didn’t cough or sneeze at all.  So maybe I dodged a bullet.  I hope so.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 26            Infected                   Died

World             215,362,511           4,485,543

US                     39,296,231              650,906

Virginia                751,132                11,729  

Augusta County       6,921                       84  

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,864,091  (4,790,949 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 56.1% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        70,550  (36,138 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.8% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  Augusta had 76 new cases in the past 24 hours.  Our area is clearly a COVID-19 hotbed.

With the scare I’ve been involved in today, these numbers are just another reminder of how tentative all of our health is nowadays.  Pat Peason wrote that his doctor told him that “she seems to think that everybody’s going to get this just a matter of time.”   I guess there’s comfort in the fact that I’m fully vaccinated which is supposed to greatly lessen the severity of COVID-19 if I get it.  Supposedly, symptoms start from two to fourteen days after exposure so the next two weeks will be a nervous waiting game for me.  

I just read the CDC recommendations about exposure.  It says “If you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative.”  I looked up their definition of close contact.  It is being within six feet for a total of at least 15 minutes.  There’s no way I was within six feet of Pat for even five minutes cumulative today.  We weren’t wearing masks but we were outside, of course.  Perhaps I’ll think about getting a test on Monday before we leave for Oregon.

August 27, 2021

Today was a long and interesting day.  I began with a trip to Rice Tire at 7:00 AM to get the four new tires put on my Civic that I had ordered on Tuesday.  What a difference in how the car now rides!  Before the ride was loud, vibrating, and rough.  Now it is smooth.  I drove it all the way to near Huntington WV today as we came for the Cupcake Festival in Hurricane WV.

We made a few stops along the way here.  Besides restroom stops, the first real stop was at J. Q Dickinson Salt Works near Charleston.  Lynn has been wanting to come there for years.  They are the only authentic salt dealer we’ve ever been to.  We got a tour when we got there and found out that salt has been produced there for almost two hundred years.  It turns out that when you pump water from a few hundred feet down, it is salt water.  They dry the salt water out and market the salt in a variety of ways.  They also make caramel.  After our tour we got several of their products, mainly to give as gifts.  It was an interesting tour though we were the only two people on the tour.

We had lunch at a Cook Out in Charleston.  Lynn loves their milkshakes.  Then we came on to our hotel near Huntington, a nice Hampton Inn.  After we unloaded, we headed back east for about 15 miles to Hurricane.  It is an interesting town.  Unlike many we’ve seen in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, it was not the least bit run down.  The high school there was very large school with almost 1,300 students.  The town had a fantastic park where the Cupcake Festival was held.  It had a huge water park, multiple ball fields, tennis courts, expansive playground, etc. 

The Cupcake Festival only had a few things going on this evening.  There were 6 – 8 cupcake vendors there.  We were told that they had to make 200 cupcakes each for Friday night and at least 600 for Saturday.  We bought six.  I had one for my dessert tonight.  I guess we’ll take the others home.

We came on back to the hotel, dropped the cupcakes off so they wouldn’t melt, then went to a nearby restaurant named Fat Patty’s.  Lynn had a hamburger with jalapenos, cream cheese, and a raspberry melba sauce.  I had an Italian sandwich.  Actually we each only ate half of our sandwiches and saved the other half because we had ordered an appetizer of bacon cheddar fries that the desk clerk at the Hampton Inn had recommended to us.  It turns out that appetizers were on sale at ½ off so we got another one to take back to her as a surprise. 

After coming back to the hotel, Lynn wanted to walk a little since we had ridden in the car most of the day.  We had hoped to walk at the park where the Cupcake Festival was being held but it was terribly hot here this afternoon.  It turns out that we were only ½ mile from the Huntington Mall.  It was an indoor mall so we went to walk there.  It turns out that this mall was enormous and, unlike the malls around us, was thriving with stores and people.  I’m not sure why this mall is doing so well when malls in Harrisonburg and Roanoke are dying.  The mall in Staunton isn’t dying, it is dead and is being torn down.

All in all we had a good day today, visiting some places we’d never been to before and enjoying our quick trip.  Tomorrow morning we’ll walk in the Cupcake Festival 5K walk, shop with the vendors there, then head home in time to make it to a production of Shenanarts, Always Patsy Cline.

I’ve felt fine today and hope that my worries from yesterday were unfounded.  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 27            Infected                   Died

World             216,161,806           4,497,680

US                     39,539,133              653,397

Virginia                754,652                11,769  

Augusta County       7,032                       87 

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,883,307  (4,799,765 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 56.2% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        70,752  (36,247 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 48% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  Augusta had 111 new cases in the past 24 hours!  Worst, Augusta had three additional deaths in the past 24 hours.  I looked back at the March statistics.  There it was typical for Augusta to have 6 – 10 new cases daily.  This is not good!

August 28, 2021

This long day started at 5:30 in a hotel near Huntington WV and ended at a fantastic show in the old Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton.  Between all kinds of things happened.

We had to get up early because our hotel was about 20 minutes away from Hurricane where the Cupcake Festival 5K was being held.  The race/walk started at 8:00 but we had to pick up our shirts, race numbers, etc. well before that.  Not wanting to eat or drink much beforehand, we had very little in the way of breakfast.  I had a half a cup of coffee (about ten times less than normal for me) and one piece of toast.  Lynn had just a few sips of sweet tea.  We got to the park in plenty of time.

The 5K was a contrast to the one at the North Carolina Watermelon Festival.  There, Lynn and I were two of only a half dozen walkers; everyone else was a runner.  At the Cupcake Festival 5K, the numbers were reversed.  Both had about 60 – 80 participants but the one today was mostly done by walkers.  Plus, some had cupcake costumes on.  The 5K included the option to pick up a cupcake at the halfway mark, put icing on it at a station a little further on, then put sprinkles on at another station near the end.  The big issue was the heat.  Although it started at 8:00, much of it was on an unshaded path and it was miserably hot.  The cupcakes were not in very good shape by the time we got to the end.  There they were judged and, no surprise, we didn’t win anything.

Our time was similar to the one in North Carolina, around 55:00 for the 3.2 mile walk.  This route today had some hills on it.  As a reward for finishing, we were given water and, of course, another cupcake.  That was breakfast.

We waited around until the vendor part of the Cupcake Festival started.  It was supposed to have started at 11:00 but most were ready to display and sell before then so we got an early start.  We bought a dozen and a half donuts from a booth from Huntington High School Culinary Department.  When we got back here, Lynn gave most of them away to Ann & family, Kay Carter, Cheryl Kent, and Cheryl & Bogie Wright. 

When we had finished visiting the vendors we walked to our car and had another surprise.  The back drivers’ side tire was nearly flat.  The tires were one day old!  They are guaranteed to last 84,000 miles and this one was flat in only 250 miles.  Fortunately, because I had issues with the previous set of tires, I had a pump in the trunk that ran off power to the cigarette lighter so I was able to get it pumped back up and the tire pressure monitor recalibrated.  We nervously started home.

We hadn’t gone five miles until the low tire pressure indicator came on again.  Lynn quickly found a tire dealer, Marty’s Tire Store in Nitro WV, only a few miles down I-64.  We called them.   It was right at 11:00 and the man said they closed at 12:00 but could look at our tire if we could get there.  We were also concerned because it was so hot and we had those cupcakes in our car that we didn’t want to melt.  So we took them into the tire place’s waiting room with us.  The fellow there was unbelievably good to us.  He actually found nothing wrong with our tire though he took it off the car and checked both the tire and the valve for leaks.  He also checked the pressure in the other three tires and re-set the calibration for us.  Whatever he did worked; we were able to make it the entire rest of the way without any tire issues whatsoever.  When we got our keys back from him, I asked him how much we owed him for his time.  Nothing, he said.  Lynn and I promised that we would try to find a way to send him a pizza gift card soon especially since there was a Gino’s Pizza right next to his shop. 

The rest of our trip was very uneventful and actually was a pretty drive in the hot sun.  We stopped for a milkshake at the Cook Out in Beckley on our way and made it home by 3:30.

By the time we had unloaded and unwound a bit, it was time to eat a quick dinner then get ready for the Shenanarts Show.  Always Patsy Cline is a show Lynn and I have seen multiple times but never tire of.  We both love her music so much and this show has a lot of humor with it, too.  The two women who performed tonight in Staunton were superb.  Patsy was played by Brittany Kislek whom we had not heard before.  Her voice was phenomenal.  Louise was played by Kathy LaFon whose music we have heard many times.  She is superbly talented, too.  It was a fantastic show.  We sat with Cheryl and Bogie Wright.

I didn’t have a chance to check the local or national news to find out what went on in the world and area today but nonetheless here are the COVID-19 statistics:

August 28            Infected                   Died

World             216,748,018           4,507,840

US                     39,617,417              654,381

Virginia                754,652                11,769  Not updated due to the weekend

Augusta County       7,032                       87   Not updated due to the weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,908,903  (4,812,333 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 56.4% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        71,001  (36,378 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 48.1% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  The number of vaccinations is definitely picking up locally but for some it may be too late.

I got an interesting text from Pat Peason today.  He said that his wife had been tested and was negative, despite being with him nonstop through the time period when he tested positive.  He said that the doctors told him it was extremely rare for COVID-19 to be passed from one vaccinated person to another vaccinated person.  That should make the three of us who played tennis with him last Thursday breathe a sigh of relief.  He said that unvaccinated people pass it to vaccinated people and vaccinated people pass it to the unvaccinated.  I’ve got my fingers crossed.

August 29, 2021

Today was a typical Sunday.  I had Sunday School via Zoom first thing then Lynn and I went to Central for the 11:00 service.  Our congregation had combined with those from Jollivue United Methodist for today’s service; the guest speaker was the new District Director of Congregational Excellence, Dale White. 

Afterwards, we came home, at lunch which was actually provided by Central, then did some preliminary sorting through the things we want to take to Oregon. 

After that, I decided to cut our grass.  It was quite high since we’ve gotten lots of rain recently.  I wanted to wait until the last moment to cut it since we won’t be back here until September 15.  By then it will be a jungle, I’m afraid.  I got it all cut and even did some weed whacking and push mowing.  I hope it doesn’t grow too much over the next 18 days.

Lynn had a party tonight with several of her girlfriends so I had the Gutshall family by myself.  I went to Vito’s Pizza Pie and got three pizzas for dinner.  There were just enough pieces left over for Lynn and me to have dinner tomorrow night, too, so we won’t have to cook before leaving on our trip.

Kay has tried to talk us into staying with her Tuesday night instead of at the Hilton Garden Inn near Reagan Airport.  We’re not sure what to do now and will need to decide by midnight tomorrow in order to not be liable for any costs.

We’ve learned that our neighbor, Dana Parrish, was involved in a serious auto accident yesterday.  She is hospitalized with two broken arms, one broken leg, and some lacerations.  But she is expected to make a full recovery and may be released from the hospital tomorrow.  Lynn talked to Doug tonight; she is making dinner for the family for tomorrow night.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 29            Infected                   Died

World             217,175,397           4,514,235

US                     39,664,831              654,689

Virginia                754,652                11,769  Not updated due to the weekend

Augusta County       7,032                       87   Not updated due to the weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,929,759  (4,823,018 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 76.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 56.5% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        71,130  (36,443 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 48.2% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.

An amusing, but perhaps true, Facebook post today said “if you’re not getting vaccinated because you’re afraid your DNA will be altered, for you it might not be that bad of an idea.”

August 30, 2021

A good bit of today was spent getting ready for our Oregon trip.  I’ve actually got my suitcase completely packed now.  We’re each taking one carry-on suitcase and one backpack. 

Kay talked us into staying with her tomorrow night so I canceled the Hilton Garden Inn reservation.  We’re going to drive to her house in time to see Thomas and Georgia when they come home from school.  Both kids have busy afternoons after that and we’ll see them only in short segments. 

This morning I spent four hours at Central taking care of Treasurer’s duties.  I paid and mailed bills, made the deposit from yesterday’s offering, set up Payroll for September 15, paid our monthly federal taxes, entered all of the individual offerings into the Servant Keeper software, and prepared materials for us to be reimbursed for the purchase of an awning from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  I asked Pastor Won to just let the bills accumulate until I get back mid-September.

Lynn spent the entire day at McGaheysville Elementary School.  Apparently they have over a dozen ELL students with no teacher nor tutor.  She’ll be returning there lots after we get back from Oregon, I suspect.

I was here when Freddie’s bus came.  Actually Betsy got off the bus with him.  Ann then came and took Betsy to Waynesboro for her choir practice while Freddie and I played Wii.  Eventually I took Freddie home.  And when Ann brought Betsy home after her choir practice, she brought milkshakes from Cook Out to Lynn and me.  Yum!

Tonight we went to Walgreens in Verona.  I needed some travel shaving cream and travel toothpaste.  The TSA has a limit of 3.4 ounces for items like that so I needed to buy some small sized ones.

Here are today’s COVID-19 stats:

August 30            Infected                   Died

World             217,866,804           4,522,938

US                     39,945,431              656,376

Virginia                762,948                11,810  

Augusta County       7,282                       87   

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,943,774  (4,830,302 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 76.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 56.6% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        71,205  (36,469 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 48.3% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.

August 31, 2021

Today was our final day of preparation before leaving for Oregon.  I had lots of chores to take care of but I think I got them all done.  First I made a run to the dump loaded with our trash and the Gutshall’s.  Then I went to Central and filled up a large box of food for Elizabeth and her family.  They stopped by our house later in the morning and picked it up.

My next stop was at the bank in Bridgewater where I got money for our trip plus for our three children’s spouses, all of whom have birthdays this week.

Next I took Lynn to have a pedicure and while she was having that, I got some birthday cards and a few other items for our trip.  I picked her up and we went home and ate lunch.  By 12:30 we were on our way to Arlington.

Even then we had a couple of stops to make.  Lynn had some timesheets to turn in to the Rockingham County School Board office.  Finally we headed north on I-81 but stopped at the Target in Front Royal so Lynn could get a few things she needed for the trip.  We got to Kay’s house around 3:30, just in time to join her to meet Thomas and Georgia at their bus stop. 

We came home and played a game with Georgia and Kay, Code Names.  It was a fun word game.  The kids then both had soccer practice; Lynn and I ran to the drug store nearby to get some last minute items.  Then we had a very nice dinner with the entire Foy family. 

Thomas and Georgia are so much fun to be around.  They are both smart, humorous, and mature for their ages.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers.  I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to keep up with this over the next two weeks.

August 31            Infected                   Died

World             218,540,994           4,533,609

US                     40,144,099              657,910

Virginia                766,435                11,842  

Augusta County       7,335                       88   

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,959,695  (4,838,481 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 76.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 56.6% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        71,247  (36,481 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 48.3% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.   Augusta’s cases are way up again today.  I’m somewhat glad to be out of the county for the next two weeks.